September 28, 2009
Islands – “Vapours” – Vapours
First of all, I think I have to plug the Islands band leader Nick Thornburn’s twitter account, Nickfromislands, because it is most worthwhile use of social media I’ve yet to come across. And second, in the chorus of “Vapours”, Nick asks “Is the bassline in your mind?” – An appropriate question for just about any piece of this song as it is all so catchy. Featuring some horns along with the usual Islands set up, “Vapours” is easily the standout track on the album.
Turbo Fruits – “Trouble!” – Echo Kid
So the cool thing to do in music right now is the make a post-Be Your Own Pet project. Mine’s called Pee Your Own Bet, get yours soon. No but seriously, Jonas Stein is 21, was the drummer for a sick band (BYOP), and now has formed his own group. Southern garage rock at its sleezey best, Turbo Fruits is for fans of Black Lips or King Kahn and the BBQ show or any proper ruffians out there.
The Raveonettes – “Last Dance” – In and Out of Control
Putting away the distortion prevalent on their last release Lust Lust Lust, this new track sounds like a Pains of Being Pure at Heart song at half tempo and without said distortion. With half-playful lyrics that have some serious undertones, “Last Dance” is an easy listen. In a day where the more distortion you have the better, it’s kinda cool to see a band go in the other direction.
Langhorne Slim – “Say Yes” – Be Set Free
Langhorne Slim, born Sean Scolnick, is well known as an Americana road warrior. Turning down the banjo and fiddle on “Say Yes”, and turning up his inner Polyphonic Spree, the chorus is a joyous cheer for acquiescence. One of the few touring musicians close to the true definition of a troubadour, Slim has built a following touring with everyone from Cake and the Avett Brothers to The Violent Femmes and Josh Ritter.
The Tundra Toes – “Fish Hooks” – In It To Win It!
The Tundra Toes have often been described as what happens when Tom Waits pees in the bathtub with Isaac Brock. On their debut album the sounds range from traditional old time country to New Orleans blues to straight up rock. Unlike most “genre-defying” groups, The Toes link their songs together with a general disregard for order and a love of chaos. “Fish Hooks” is a rock song however; complete with solos and a hook that you’ll have to bite into. Listen for smashing plates, things falling, breaking, and lots of screaming. As I said, chaos.
September 21, 2009
Built To Spill – “Hindsight” – There is No Enemy
First single from their upcoming release, “Hindsight” recalls the tune “Liar” from You in Reverse with its mid-tempo clean rock feel. While they have matured past their 90’s sounds that are seen as “classic” BTS, this song (and hopefully the whole album) recalls the mellower side of the decade a la Death Cab’s We have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, with the signature meandering tenor of front man Doug Martsch. They’ll be playing at the State Theater Oct. 8th.
Drummer – “Good Golly” - Feel Good Together
The side project of Patrick Carney, drummer of the black keys, is a band of five drummers playing rock music. Started with the intent to play “good feelings”, Drummer embodies just that. “Good Golly” starts with a synth riff very close to that of The Magnetic Fields “It’s a Crime” then kicks in hard with a petal to the floor vocal line. On tour with Royal Bangs (with whom they share a label with: Audio Eagle) this fall, this side project sounds like it might have some legs.
The Rifles – “The General“ – Great Escape
Inspired by a meet and greet session with Mike Tyson, “The General” was one of the early tracks released to hype The Rifles new album Great Escape. Chronicling the life/bout of a boxer, “The General” is understandably masculine and powerful.
Gordon Gano and the Ryans – “Man in the Sand” – Under the Sun
Gordon Gano, better known as the lead singer of the violent femmes, album is his first solo effort since the VF demise. Lead single “Man in the Sand” sounds like Insomniac era Green Day with classic Gano nasal vocals. The Ryan brothers spend most of their time scoring films and other video projects when not performing with Gano. Kinda hard no to love anything that’s from the Violent Femmes
Or, The Whale – “Black Rabbit” – Or, The Whale
This is the psych rocker of the bunch. Sounding like a cross between a soulful Black Mountain and Silver Jews with a bluegrass touch, “Black Rabbit” features an eye popping chorus of group vocal madness.
September 14, 2009
The Twilight Sad – “Interrupted” - Forget the Night Ahead.
Hailing from the same scene as Frightened Rabbit and Broken Records, The Twilight Sad complete the Scottish rock triad with archetypal Scottish bittersweet epicness. “Interrupted” tip toes the arena-rock tightrope, but stays balanced on the pleasant baritone of singer James Graham. The band earned favorable comparisons to The National on their first album. With endearing Scottish accents throughout, Forget sees the band finding their footing in their own sound.
The Beatings – “All the Things You’ve Been Missing” – Late Season Kids
Late Season Kids is the third album from a band who have been quietly making a name for themselves. With out a distinguishable chorus, “All the Things” builds and builds by evolving sonic landscapes. Reaching out with strong upper range vocals like a grittier Youth Group then pulling back for a teeth gnashing snarl of a breakdown, “All the Things” is worthy of replay after replay.
Echo and the Bunnymen – “Think I Need It Too” – The Fountain (forthcoming)
With over 30 years as a band under their belt, The Bunnymen are more than veterans. More than anything, they know how to keep their music fresh. Taking some cues from older Oasis and maybe even a little Coldplay, “Think I Need It Too” instantly sounds like it’s pounding from giant stacks of speakers across English hills.
Royal Bangs – “Maniverse” – Let It Beep
A coquettishly fun song, “Maniverse” fits in perfectly with some of this years best releases from Passion Pit and Generationals. A little like old Transmissions-era Flaming Lips with the fun of Foals thrown in, Maniverse is a power-pop synth screamer that twists and turns through a maze of syncopated guitar riffs and plenty of bleeps and boops.
Mason Jennings – “Ain’t No Friend of Mine” – Blood of Man
Did Jack White give Mason some lessons in rock? Cause man… this song is badass. Mason has definitely stepped out of his comfort zone on the lead single for his album. And he sounds great. A classic blues rock jam, “Ain’t No Friend” is grungy and dirty and nasty and goddamn awesome.
Sea Wolf - “O Maria!” – White Water, White Bloom
Following their beautiful, often hymnal, debut, Sea Wolf’s second album turns up the volume. “O Maria!” brings to mind footstomping barnrock like Port O’Brien’s “I Woke Up Today” or Grand Archives’ “Crime Window” with a rock oriented instrumentation. Rock out to the chorus. It rules.
September 07, 2009
WHY? –“On Rose Walk, Insomniac” – Eskimo Snow
The new Why? album takes work. It doesn’t instantly please. Fans of Yoni Wolf’s more hip hop edge will probably be disappointed by ES which he calls his “the least hip-hop out of anything I’ve ever been involved with.” Mastering the craft of darkened pop, Yoni and his band have put together a masterpiece that unveils its secrets slowly. “On Rose Walk” is a devilishly psychedelic track full of spins and twirls through a cracked concrete garden. Too unique too describe, WHY?’s sound has matured once more.
Grand Archives – “Silver Amongst the Gold” - Keep in Mind Frankenstein
Comparable to Iron and Wine’s “Belated Promise Ring”, this track off the new Grand Archives LP is a beautiful meadow of country jangle pop. Built from the ashes of cult Seattle heroes Carissa’s Weird and Band of Horses, Grand Archives truly builds their own song on this undyingly beautiful record. Check the pedal steel throughout…it’s chills the spine.
Arctic Monkeys – “Crying Lightening” – Humbug
Taking a more subdued approach than their usually sharpened guitars, Arctic Monkey’s new single is a back alley burner. With distorted bass taking the lead leaving the guitar to shriek in the background, “Crying Lightening” still bears the stamp of Alex Turner’s vocal cadences – faced paced and snarling.
David Bazan – “Please Baby Please” - Branches
The former Pedro the Lion singer goes solo under his own name for the first time with this record. Previously using the moniker Headphones, Bazan’s debut album features the help of friends John Roderick (The Long Winters), Josh Tillman (J Tillman, Fleet Foxes) and James McCallister. “Please” feels like a direct product of Bazan’s latest tour where he played in living rooms of fans across the country to intimate audiences. An acoustic jam that’s ripe for hearty group vocals is the centerpiece of his album.
Yo La Tengo – “Nothing to Hide” - Popular Songs
From the first second it sounds completely Yo La Tengo: A catchy hook in the chorus, a blistering subdued solo, and everything under a blanket of fuzzy, slightly drunken ambience. Achieving the elusive edgy but pleasant sound that separates the cookies from the monsters, Popular Songs is a stellar edition to a catalog that is already stuffed.
June 15, 2009
Sunset Rubdown – “Idiot Heart” – Droagonslayer
This is one of those songs where 20 years from now I’ll still be able to tell you where I first heard it. Building with guitars like jaws crunching menacingly “Idiot Heart” pulls you along just ahead of the monster chomping at your heels. “I hope that you die/ in a decent pair of shoes/ you’ve got a lot of long walking to do/ where you’re goin’ to…” finishes out the song in a crescendo of such magnitude you know that Spencer Krug is behind it. Throwing in an extremely well timed direct quote from older Sunset song “The Men are Called Horsemen There”, Krug builds the energy to the breaking point that’s worth screaming for. Krug has built yet another masterpiece.
Modest Mouse – “Satellite Skin” - Single
Off of their upcoming EP No One’s First and You’re Next that features unreleased tracks and b-sides from their last two albums, “Satellite” is a slow burning Modest Mouse tune that includes everything that has made them great from Isaac Brock’s yelps to the new addition of Johnny Marr on guitar, it’s surely to please all MM fans and more.
Deer Tick – “Easy” – Born on Flag Day
Grungy feedback begins the song with a foreboding thump from the bass and drums as “Easy” kicks off the new Deer Tick album. “You don’t know how easy it is” howls John McCauley as the scuzzy start splits into a rollicking chorus starring the long timber saw strokes of McCauley’s gruff lead. Combing the best of Nirvana with classic sounds of the Band, it’s exciting to see where they’ll go.
Dinosaur Jr. – “Over It” – Farm
The lead single from their highly anticipated new album sounds instantly classic. J Macis wastes no time pumping out a squealing guitar line over a sprawling soundscape of what’s sure to be earsplitting levels of guitar. Known for their EXTREMELY loud live shows, noise has always been important for the band. On this newest record they channeled that noise into a more produced sound rather than the scabbed sounds of their early days.