Earlier this year, Brooklyn foursome CHAPPO released their debut album Moonwater and have steadily seen their star climbing thanks to a steady slew of tour dates with none other than of Montreal, the infectious "Come Home" being used by Apple in a 2010 commercial and most recently getting primetime presence in an ad during a certain major internationally watched multi-sporting event.
After nice words about their excellent first two EPs, Plastique Universe I and II , CHAPPO's first full length delivers a confectioners kiss of MGMT and The Flaming Lips and a healthy testament to Beck's sphere of influence. And while the band may resemble Mr. Hansen's eccentricity at its most coolheaded, they only need a dash to make something special here. Maybe most importantly, CHAPPO succeeds at being fun (like their recent tour mates, the stage shows can become your inner kindergartener’s arts-n-crafts dream - see band photo above).
Guitarist David Feddock, drummer Zac Colwell, keyboardist Chris Olson and vocalist/guitarist Alex Chappo serve up a psychedelic antidote of pop for the heavy-hearted. Body-moving percussion pairs nicely with vocalist Chappo alternating between anthemic crooning and verse-chorus cheekiness - surprising me as he periodically channels Perry Farrell. Just when the tempo slows down so sweetly ("Don’t"), they burst right back to it - mastering the transition of bubbly indie-fare to a twinkling slow dance that reminds me of some of Arcade Fire's best moments ("What Are You Kids On?").
These guys may not be household names yet, but they have been around enough to hold an impressive repertory that is paying off: Colwell is a touring member of of Montreal and one of Moonwater’s producers is Hector Castillo, who has worked with none other than Beck. Their latest boasts a zestful helping of songs mixed and produced to sonic finesse, worth plenty more than a 30-second iPod Touch plug, at the same time deserving of the exposure.
Keep the blues at bay: listen to "What Are You Kids On?" and their last EP Plastique Universe II: Pisces Princess below, and watch the (NSFW) video for “Hell No”.
[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”600”] Mila Matveeva[/caption]
LA’s The Henry Clay People played Brooklyn Bowl in New York a couple weeks back, riding high on the release of their latest full-length, "Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives", which came out on June 26th via TBD Records (and which you can purchase here). The band has been around for about seven years now, but still may be fresh on some ears (I only got turned onto them this past year thanks to Zach over at We Listen For You). Ever-elusive bassist Harris (what is your last name?) joins the band’s original line-up on this record, as original drummer Eric Scott returns to the fold, led by brothers Andy and Joey Siara (above).
Punky, catchy and packed with heart-on-your-sleeve sing-a-longs, according to Joey the band wanted this to be ”the record that our sixteen year old selves would have been excited about”. Amen, Joey. Off I go to bask in the glory of my quarter-life crisis.
Listen to the eponymous single and "Hide" below, buy the record and go see these guys live. They kick ass. Check out more photos from last week’s show below.
Ghost Beach have been showing up all over the board these last couple of months and this just goes to solidify why I find them to be one of the few bands out of Brooklyn worthy of the hype they are generating.This shift feels like a completely new song, a find in the world full of uncreative remixes that is a feat in itself.
Trails And Ways put this remix out alongside a cover of the Ghost Beach song “Miracle,” whose original is one of the best to come out this year, their take on it is a transformation worth the effort to download and get personal with, I especially dig the Spanish use throughout shifting the songs dynamic.
Check out this stunning live video by Neglakay Productions of Il Abanico performing “The Light" at FREECANDY in Brooklyn. From the "Crossing Colors" EP (which you can download for free on the band’s Bandcamp), this track is possibly the best example of what this band all about. The video does an incredible job capturing Il Abanico’s energetic essence as performers that you hear in the song’s buildup—not an easy feat.
[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”600”] by Mila Matveeva[/caption]
Catch Il Abanico on a number of upcoming dates, including tonight, June 22, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for free. You read all that right. Needless to say, I think they are about to get a whole new army of cheerleaders.
Watch the live video of “The Light" below.
Ghost Beach are the latest electro-duo to surface out of Brooklyn, with “Miracle" they have successfully combined two of my favorite elements for summer tracks; discontent and upbeat-infection.
Josh Ocean and Eric Mendelsohn label their music as “tropical-grit-pop” which is about as close as you can get to describing this breed of 80’s reincarnate synth-soaked goodness.
Follow the Ghost Beach website link below to download “Miracle" for free.
The clunks and clanks of the interior of a steel ship coming to life start "A Different Ship" with resounding howls. Is someone trapped? Is something happening that we aren’t supposed to see? Those questions, among others, crop up throughout Brooklyn quintet Here We Go Magic's third album. They are searching for the right stride, unsure as they side-step from Paul Simon-like vocals on “Hard to Be Close” to the guitar driven single “Make Up Your Mind”. It’s as if frontman Luke Temple is picking genres from a metaphorical grab bag, going with anything that comes out. As the song title suggests, he didn’t quite make up his mind on anything.
Most of the buzz about this album has been centered around producer Nigel Godrich, who has been involved in some of the most seminal albums of the last 15 years, most notedly with Radiohead and Beck. His presence seems to overshadow what is really happening here. While the music is great, it’s hard to follow. The only thing that is clear is the clean production. Every sound seems to be placed perfectly, and sonically it’s the band’s best effort, which brings me to my next question: what was cut?
In the charming arrangements of "A Different Ship"'s predecessor, “Pigeons”, every thought that Temple brought to the table had its place in the final product. Every track seemed like chaos, referencing some obvious influences as Kraftwerk and Neu!. The randomness of new tracks “Alone But Moving” and “Made To Be Old” throw off some other tracks that might have allowed the band to develop some progression. It’s only on “I Believe in Action” that the album takes a shape that is reminiscent of the logical direction I felt that band was going.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the album. My only concern is that there isn’t anything that sets it apart from the rest of the pack, giving it a personality of its own. With so many different directions to choose from, it was easy to see how Temple does “believe in action”, to the point where you can’t quite keep up what is happening. There are moments were I feel the band could have stayed on a particular path, particularly on “Miracle of Mary”, where I felt that the band could do more in the space they had. Even the title track, which stretches for over eight minutes, seems stunted; I want to blame nerves. There was an article in Stereogum earlier this year about the recording process of this album where Temple explained his early nervousness, and how he couldn’t quite write with the pressure of having Godrich producing that album. I’m not saying that it’s completely nerves, they certainly have an effect on the general flow of this release.
My strongest feeling is that it might be a transitional album, leading up to something more consistent in the future. As far as substance and content are concerned, they’ve given us a lot to work with here, allowing us to see what they are really capable of. Its penchant for inconsistency helps more than it harms as far as talent, but as a whole unit it tends to cloud the overall landscape of the release. It’s a balancing act, navigating through the album’s influences and aspirations, trying to decide which way to go. Like Talking Heads’ “Remains In Light”, it’s a recording that can leave its audience with more questions than answers. One answer is certain: there is more to come. I just hope it’s slightly more linear.
I’ve been sitting on this post about Brooklyn’s Tiny Victories for months. I absorbed the band and mulled over what to say, I kept trying to see them live and decided that my writing would wait until then. Not that recordings and performance should be viewed as inclusive, but they coexist. Both inform what you know as “the band”.
Tiny Victories is, surprisingly, just two people: Greg Walters and Cason Kelly. While both are multi-instrumentalists, during their live setup you will see Kelly mostly behind drums, while Walters is on vocals and keys - sampling live sounds and audience members throughout and incorporating them into the tracks that you can hear on their first release "Those Of Us Still Alive" EP.
The first time I heard "Mr. Bones" I felt that rare but familiar feeling of that fantasy scene in that coming-of-age movie where someone is running and everything culminates in this epic romanticism. It had this John Hughes emotional tug and reminded me strongly of General Public’s “Tenderness”. That is to say, what a single! It’s that song that makes you believe in anything. Two decades ago, I would spend an entire sunny afternoon with my finger tensely levitating above the “Play/Record” buttons on my stereo waiting to hear this song on the radio.
"Gravitron" is another unmistakeable gem, with Walters’ low octave vocals set against a bright synth-laden backdrop, it’s almost like a perfect amalgamation of Passion Pit and Future Islands. Do you remember The Russian Futurists? One of my favorite tracks was the opener to their eponymous 2003 album "Let’s Get Ready To Crumble", which starts by saying ”I make pop ‘cause that’s where my heart goes, I don’t call it art, no sir.” Tiny Victories is bubbling over with such sentiment; its songs’ hazy, magnetic layers contoured by sweetly tense pulses. The arrangements would put a twinkle in Paul Simon's eye.
Their debut "Those Of Us Still Alive" EP is a really impeccable sampling of what I hope is the best is still to come. It may have come out early in the year, but these are the songs that will make your summer.
Dig in: watch the video for "Mr. Bones" and listen to the whole EP below.
Check out the new video for “This Summer I’ll Make It Up To You" from the always amazing Caged Animals below.
So Ducky, one of my biggest crushes in the world, just posted this on her facebook page.”You Could Be Happy Again" is a recording she did when she was thirteen so technically this is a re-release of sorts.
With lyrics such as “I’m a decent chemist and I can cook us some time if you let me" fully captures the adolescent mindset Ducky was in when this song was created, albeit still creative and enjoyable. This song’s embrace of the infallibility of potential love reminds me so much of “Lava Monster" from Conor Oberst (who at the same age of thirteen was saying things like “if the lava monster came I would block his flame from hurting you”) which appeared consistently on mixtapes I made for new crushes until my twenties when you have to start being more subconscious focused with your feelings; Kind of lame if you ask me, I would much rather be straight forward with teenage poetry than having to slip some upbeat shins song into the mix and hope they catch the hint.
How is it that lyrics written by teenagers are so awful and yet so great at the same time? It must be that the people who write them truly believe what they are saying, at least that is my theory.
It’s great seeing both the distance artist come over time and getting to hear those underlying elements that go on to define their art in the future.
Brooklyn’s Tyburn Saints just dropped a new EP, You And I In Heaven, which is gratifyingly dark yet upbeat.
From start to finish “Broken Bottles" swells with confidence, the song feels straight of the pages of 70’s punk yet lyrically walks a line between The Velvet Underground and Joy Division. Tyburn Saints remind me of a death obsessed Dreamers Of The Ghetto.
These guys are currently unsigned which seems impossible, I doubt that will be the case for long.