Very few bands can filter into the mainstream with their integrity intact, the exceptions albeit rare are huge (ie Arcade Fire, The Black Keys), The Avett Brothers look to be one of those exceptions with their new album The Carpenter.
I don’t care if I’m sharing the same sentiment as ten thousand Justin Bieber fans… “I And Love And You” is an amazing song no matter how you listen to it. All Avett music to date has been creative and passionate so whatever recognition they have gained is well earned. I’ve listened through the entire The Carpenter album and although not as energetic or as folky I don’t believe we have another Kings Of Leon on our hands. The new album shows that success hasn’t piled more weight on their shoulders than they can carry but the opposite, unlike Mumford And Sons, they seem to wear it well.
There are a couple of tracks which will get much more recognition than “Pretty Girl From Michigan”, there is a slight shift in The Avett Brothers sound from David Donderoesc folk to traditional country overlain with 50’s doo-wop and this tracks pull those two sounds clearly into the light.
Some bands are worth not looking down our hip noses at and The Avett Brothers and their recent success are more than worth it,The Carpenter will be here on September 11, you can stream it in it’s entirety over at NPR, take a minute to do so before passing judgement… it’s solid for sure.
Seldom do you find a new band with such a defined sound on their first effort such as Divine Fits. Embracing pop music from a different arsenal than the current trend, they are idealizing more straightforward new wave bands like Love and Rockets and The Birthday Party, including covering one of their early incarnations, “Shivers”, from their earlier band, The Boys Next Door. Working with The Birthday Party producer, Nick Launay, there is a fluid transition from recent outputs from both Dan Boeckner and Britt Daniel, continuing the dynamics they’ve had in their respective bands. Trading off lead vocals on nearly every song, egos are set aside for something far more pure, making for an attentive listen from start to finish.
Boeckner’s past work with Wolf Parade and the recently defunct Handsome Furs left him with ample opportunity to finally venture out of his comfort zone, giving more of a standout role in the band instead of the usual anchor that he had been in his past efforts. For Britt Daniel, there’s a sense of relief to be part of a musical collective, opposed to his role as frontman and sole songwriter for Spoon, the liberation to share the creative load has done wonders to the eventual results of the album. With the additions of Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks and Alex Fischel of Papa as the drummer and keyboardist respectively, there’s few qualms as to what attitude this record possesses. Fleshing out the swagger that the two lead cohorts provide, Fischel accentuates the gritty and minimal base into something that could have easily been released in 1987 by These Immortal Souls or from the aforementioned Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard.
Most of the tracks could have easily been affiliated with past Spoon albums, most notably, the track “Flaggin A Ride”, which showcases Daniel’s rasp and swagger, the most poignant moments of the album are brought to you by Boeckner, “Civilian Stripes” being a standout. While the opener and lead single, “My Love is Real” has a playfulness that could be found on any of the latest album of Handsome Furs, it’s “Would Not That Be Nice” has a more collaborative feel that ferments these talents, making them more a “band” rather than a “group”.
The resulting debut is a cohesive album showcasing Boeckner and Daniel’s creative chops supported by a tight budget of sound and rhythm. Albeit the delight of working with an equal or the immeasurable potential this band can produce, it’s a breath of fresh air to have something as riveting and accessible as this. I caught them at one of their first shows earlier this month at Chicago’s Schubas Tavern, a last hurrah for the Lollapalooza weekend, and remarkably, there wasn’t much mention of the their previous efforts. It was their evening to bring this new work, without the tension that came from a big production. It was bare-bones, with little fanfare. It was about the music and the audience witnessed their egos placed aside. The band enjoyed themselves, as did everyone in the tiny club. It’s easy to fall into the pitfalls of the title “supergroup”, especially when associated with such talent. Daniel’s charisma and Boeckner’s heart keeps this mold from breaking, and it’s only time that can predict how far these two can go. I’m hoping it’s for years to come.
Wild Nothing popped into my view at CMJ 2010; Jack Tatum’s dream-pop project played a lot of shows and then some more during that festival, which made it easy to see them at least once. I was impressed not by any charisma or theatrics at the show I checked out. Instead, I was impressed with how they made atmospheric music that managed to still catch the ear. This was shortly after their debut LP, Gemini, was released, and it bode well for their future.
Fast forward to this year, and we’ve got their sophomore effort, Nocturnereleased by Captured Tracks. Better, more thorough, and longer than the debut, this second showing from Tatum proves that he’s more than just woozy guitars and songs about love. Recorded in a studio as opposed to at home, Nocturne sounds full of life, taking hints from fellow North Atlantic outfit Real Estate with regards to memorably mellow compositions. Songs like “Midnight Song” and “Disappear Always” should be the soundtracks to many a drive through the reaches between cities, when plans are being made and adventures being imagined.
One complaint that has arisen about Wild Nothing is that their live charisma is nonexistent, as if they’re almost too shy to be there. That problem does not translate to the record, as every song sounds like a whispered secret between best friends. It’s intimate music, songs for romantics who perhaps are too shy to get up in front of a crowded bar to do karaoke. What the world doesn’t know is that these are the people who will sing along with every word while tapping along to the drum beat as state lines approach and are left behind.
There is one problem with this trip down Serenity Lane: Nocturne tends to be a bit indulgent. At 45 minutes, one would think that they are in the sweet spot for modern albums, but Wild Nothing’s music is impactful with regards to what’s not there just as much as what is. Certain songs, such as the title track and “Paradise”, carry on for about a minute longer than is wise, forcing those more impatient to hit “next”. It’s a minor complaint because even those songs have exhilaratingly simple moments, like the new-wave inspired intro to “Paradise.” But when you’re lost in an album nothing can be as jarring as wanting to break the rules of sequencing.
A future exists for Wild Nothing as a standard-bearer for a new wave of dream-pop; while Braids may be off doing their Canadian sexual fantasy music thing and Beach House takes on arena-sized jams, Tatum has the chance to ground his swirling romanticism into very real grooves. Nocturne is a step towards that goal, and one can only imagine what a second studio-recorded album will sound like for the band. It would appear that, after two albums and an EP, he’s found the way to combat cynicism and remain within the palpable realm of love and camaraderie.
During a recent conversation I had playfully discussed the kind of music that you would want to hear as you “die on the dancefloor”, we were mentioning a few bands, but none came as close to the harrowing, oft-brazen sounds of the latest from the Brooklyn trio, Yeasayer. With their patented off-kilter percussion and saturated bass, they have created an album for the end-times, without much preamble. Their previous records— the freak-folk All Hour Cymbals, and the playful Odd Blood— poised them as an experimental, even progressive synth pop outfit, engaging in more lofty ideals than their counterparts, artists like HEALTH or Miike Snow. On Fragrant World, they have neglected some of their better attributes for a more aggressive, eerie journey. While it remains rambunctious as ever, they’ve replaced the charming disorder that they became known for with dreariness, resulting in a much harsher listening experience. It fares relatively well for them, but doesn’t make for their best work.
Upon my initial listen, it was difficult to point out any “single ready” tracks, unlike the immediate “2080” or “Ambling Alp”. However, after revisiting it over the past few weeks, it has redeemed itself continuously, reverting back to a more primal ambiance. The crunching, EDM tribal beats are perfected in most of the selections, most notably on “Fingers Never Bleed” and “Damaged Goods”, but it’s when they slow it down in the burner, “Henrietta” that they make the best work. Despite the album’s desolate nature, there are some truly inspiring moments, most effectively in the song “The Devil and the Deed”, with is juxtaposed title; it is the closest thing to a dance anthem on the entire record. Again, with constant listens, “Blue Paper” could also be deemed as a possible single, its handclaps making it a slightly more fun affair, not to mention the homage to Lionel Richie in its end.
Pessimism is dripping off this album, lyrically and thematically, slaving over everything from bank closures to environmental weariness. Yeasayer are anxious for the not-too-distance future, nervous for their livelihoods and those of their friends, and while they express it in a denseness unlike anything they’ve produced to date, it is the reflection of their past that keeps them grounded. When immortality seems more of a reality over time, by the album’s end, they are closer to embracing it. The final track, “Glass of a Microscope”, reminds me of Radiohead’s Kid A; it’s a creature born out of sterile and austere conditions, desperately trying to break the surface. It’s not the grandest of ideals, but it’s definitely hopeful.
Daughter write hauntingly-honest songs of realized sadness which land so close to the heart they leave a chilling awe alongside a lingering sadness that is as real and true as art can get, “Smother” does nothing but solidify these already known tangents of their music.
To say that “Smother” invokes feeling would be a tragic understatement, the wave of realism embodied in this rare moment of self-evaluation is omnipotent; this is where goodbye appears inevitable drawing out that duality of love as an emotion vs. love as honest realism magnifying the true differences between what we want and what we truly need, the unfortunate fact that someone we care about falls on the negative side of the pros/cons list concerning our future is devastating yet necessary.
If there’s one thing which keeps me continually impressed by Daughter it would be how true and unwavering their lyrics are with so much lush and captivating creativity floating through the ether, “Smother” is the first time where the juxtaposition of lyric simplicity with intelligent song strength have come face to face as equals, this song may very well be their greatest achievement thus far.
Super attractive, brother and sister combo, BLONDFIRE, really confuses the David Bowie in me. Who am I supposed to crush on harder? Either way, it’s a win/win with these two. Their latest single “Waves” was just released and it has stimulated my emotions. The acoustic melody strums along beautifully, while subtle electronic tones and twinkles accent throughout. It is a combination that works perfectly.
In a recent interview they said that their goal for the track was an “attempt at a dark disco sound.” To me it’s more of a highwayman song. I see it as the background track to a wandering cowboy, with nothing to his name but a trusty horse, a reliable firearm, and synthesizer.
BLONDFIRE will release its first album, Young Heart, under their new label Warner Bros. sometime in 2013. So hold on to your britches and put this track on repeat for a year.
Not to sound pessimistic but after Letting Up Despite Great Faults came out with “Teenage Tide” (one of the best 2011 indie-pop gems) I thought for how great of a song it is that time would show it to be merely a stepping stone on a path to a purely pop sound, my being wrong is what has me digging their latest single “Visions” all that much more.
The trademark LUDGF sound remains in tact yet “Visions” is a much more instrument and emotion driven song than the addictive-hook compositions we all are aware they are capable of creating, for this to be the first release from their upcoming album Untogether (October 9) is a subtle statement of a band avoiding the single-driven trap that other similar moderately-successful bands have fallen into, we should all be thankful for it… I know I am.
From the title alone, you can tell that Kiss The Ring is a study in hubris. While the Pope and DJ Khaled both share a predilection for heavy gold jewelery, Khaled unfortunately has no grounds to commend grovelling respect. His previous albums (such as Victory and We The Best Forever) betray his now-standard hip-hop egotism, and this record proves how little he deserves to think highly of himself.
If DJing, producing and recording for DJ Khaled is an intense labor of self-love, then Kiss the Ring is the resultant cum-shot, minus any satisfying qualities or possible warmth. It makes one despair to know that each song is a group effort, with DJ Khaled’s vision at the centre. It’s a shame then that it is so myopic and self-serving.
Lil Wayne slurs through the predictable “Bitches & Bottles (Let’s Get It Started)”, Kanye West and Rick Ross sound barely awake on “I Wish You Would,” and T.I… well, T.I. does whatever T.I. usually does, having swapped one jail for another in DJ Khaled’s recording studio. The reprehensible Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj seem to be rap-battling for the title of Most Irrelevant Artist of 2012, and each song is prefaced by a yowling: “DJ Khaled!” that can fill you with more horror than an air raid siren.
Each song is a hollow shell of instrumentation and cringeworthy lyrics, slathered in Autotune. Kiss The Ring is paint-by-numbers hip-hop at its drooling worst. DJ Khaled is rich and famous, and is only getting more rich and famous. His friends love him, his haters hate him, and a conga line of big names sway in and out, probably in varying states of inebriation. Despite not having any discernible talents, at least none which have been displayed on Kiss The Ring, he has bitches and hoes on tap, and life is a never-ending party that he merrily jingles through. He is partial to everything in excess, and such good fortune proves, at least according to DJ Khaled and his pals, that he is not merely great: he is the greatest. The greatest what? you may be asking. My answer would be obscene and unprintable.
By the time it gets to “Don’t Get Me Started,” I just wish that he hadn’t. In the accompanying music video, DJ Khaled enthusiastically shifts his hefty weight from foot to foot as he signs and nods, bobbing and flapping his arms like a chicken, while Ace Ho0d raps on and on about nothing in particular.
“Hot as the Summer/Cold as the Winter,” Ace Hood opines on “B-Boyz,” and this basic grasp of weather patterns is as deep as it gets. Essentially, Kiss The Ring is one long bragging session. It has become customary to accept some level of maddening ego in rap music these days—at least amongst the wildly successful and rich. Most, however, underscore their pissing contests with some other skill—Lil Wayne is kooky and laughably outrageous, Kanye West stops pleasuring himself occasionally to throw out clever rhymes, Jay-Z counts his money and rolls in it, and hell, even Drake balances self-congratulatory urges with some sensitive crooning. On Kiss The Ring, however, the contributors must have snorted the party line—go on about yourself with no aim in mind; champagne and bitches provided.
If only Kiss The Ring were a spoof, how we would laugh. It seems too earnestly self-referential and arrogant to be what it is—12 barren tracks, whose absolute sub-par mediocrity almost defy description. From one Arab to another, I say this: DJ Khaled, khalas. Call your mother, tell her you love her. Take a break. You can afford it.
Since Slow Daze came out a few weeks ago I’ve found myself religiously listening to all five well crafted Blonde Summer tracks in full on enjoyment of experiencing the precise moment when a band fully comes into their own.
You don’t have to go any further than the opening track “Slow Days Fast Company” to understand just exactly what I mean. Sure the overall sentiment of personal attachment filled with appeal should be enough to get anyone stoked for this song, what lies underneath the indie-pop facade is what keeps my attention though, this is a band at ease and comfort amongst each other with some solid songs to stand behind.
“Slow Days Fast Company” comes on like a midwest anthem developing into a Brooklyn showcase with an L.A. gloss, it only helps that summer is wrapping itself up to coincide with a perfectly fitting song such as this.
The other stand out track is “Walking Space” which does more to demonstrate the craftsmanship going into their collective dynamic. (Does anyone else hear Sweet’s “Fox On The Run” when the background vocals hit just before the one minute mark?) I really dig the lead on this track above all the other songs, it accompanies the lyrics ideally.
The entire EP is a vivid snapshot of what makes summer days with good friends so great, check it out for yourself through the bandcamp link below.
Holy fuck this is what an epic song sounds like! After all these years Swans prove once again why they are one of the greatest with “Mother Of This World.”
Sure I could spend the next hour explaining how important Swans are, if you don’t already know Google them it’s going to save us both some time, instead I’m going to make this little post as short as possible so I can listen to this track on repeat uninterrupted for the next hour.
There are songs that slow-build and then there are the three-and-a-half minutes Swans take to barely crack the door on where this song is heading. “Mother Of The World” is a meandering yet driven opus of craft.
Clocking in at over two hours in length, coming on 3 LP’s, and featuring the likes of Karen O, Ben Frost, members of both Akron/Family and Low, as well as Grasshopper from Mercury Rev, even former Swans member Jarboe shows up to throw down some backing vocals setting-up their new album The Seer (Sept 27th via Young God Records) to be just as monumental as this second leak off of it.