Archive for the 'Modern/Alt. Rock' Category

No Age-C’mon Stimmung

This is a very Zombie Rotten Mac song. Can’t link so I will e-mail him about it. The simple directness of this, along with the driving hookiness, that it isn’t too trebly, that it comes across as an amazing song by some random high school band, or maybe the opening band on a 5 band bill that you have no expectations for are what make me love it the best. Many people do have a lot of expectations for the new No Age, and these guys definitely have it, or at least I think they do, and I am not trying to belittle them with how this post comes across. This is a song that has a lot of stylistic antecedents, but comes across as completely fresh and effectless. Super good.

Savages-She Will

Second in my post about Master’s Theses of indie rock influence and sound amalgamation. I don’t want to knock critical fave Savages, because they clearly have a tuneful yet ferocious approach, but no matter how excellent the song (and this live take on “She Will” is definitely compelling), it has a “created in a lab” feel that I just can’t shake. Peter Hook bass (but also early U2), New Order beat shuffled through dance punk, driving chiming guitars- Chameleons UK, Felt, and I am sure a bunch of others. Vocals are Siouxsie Sioux with a dash of Sinead and slight affectation like Sonya from Echobelly, and Karen Finley if anyone remembers the remix of Sinead’s “Jump in the River”. Drums are almost “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger when the drummer is just riding it in the beginning, and then she starts killing them. I love all of these sounds but only when the song is at its most driving does all the seams melt away and then I can just go with it. I love a lot of retro sounds, but I’m on the fence here because it can come across as prefabricated.

Smith Westerns-Varsity

I am going to begin a series here that was inspired by Seitz’s link to Parquet Court’s “Stoned and Starving” in his post on their songs “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time”. The theme is great songs that have more than a whiff of indie rock Master’s Thesis about them. Songs whose sound is more than a little derivative and possibly extremely derivative or otherwise a very obvious Frankenstein of influences. This song is the most subtle about its influences in the series, and I think that this song most transcends the amalgamation of sounds. This is a laconic, loping track that I would easily put in the ear noodle category. It is hard to say where the hook is and the first few times you listen, the song is elusive in that it goes about its way without being obvious about its twists and turns. It is a romantic, wistful tune that has a sort of opaque delivery. Something about the pace says OMD to me, but not nearly as overtly emotional as that, and instead almost a barbiturate-laced Elephant 6 vocal, some Cure guitar at points, but it flits and flutters away. Seitz has posted about Smith Westerns previously, and I think this song is phenomenal, so it is unanimous around here about these guys.

Veronica Falls-If You Still Want Me

Indie of an older school charm in many ways, a girl/guy pairing (think Delgados, earlier Camera Obscura, but give it a more insistent tempo) to tug on your teenage or otherwise thoughts tangling with words that make you wonder if you should feel bad. For some the question might be a luxury “if you could have me, would you still want me” but for others they might accept such a bad bargain. “If You Still Want Me” is from Veronica Falls second full length Waiting for Something to Happen. This is a very Slumberland Records sound, and I am not pigeonholing this sound or this label, but the quality and feel remind me of a number of bands on this label, but the feeling most of all is for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart self-titled album, in that I like almost all the songs, it has a driving, ringing, melodic feel, and is directly emotional in a wistful, youthful way, but that is also musically nostalgic. Definitely recommend the entire album.

Bad Veins – Gold and Warm

This would be another in the Coming Attractions series, as I just completed a purchase of tickets to see them on June 20th at a small venue down the street from me called Beat Kitchen. I’ve seen them once before when they opened for the Joy Formidable at a larger venue, and I just missed them one other time when they opened for the now defunct The Subjects a couple years ago. In my own defense, I missed them because the Angels were playing the Red Sox in the playoffs and I wanted to see as much of the Angels game as possible before leaving.

I was encouraged to get into these guys by the music writer for Chicagoist, Jim “Tankboy” Kopeny, with whose brother I attended law school. Their hook, aside from catchy melodies, is the third member of their band, Irene, a large reel to reel player. Lead singer Benjamin Davis also will occasionally sing into an old telephone, which produces a really cool sound in a live setting.

This song is from their self titled first album, which was released in 2009. They subsequently released an EP (Outliers). Their follow up album, The Mess We’ve Made, was released last year. It’s a little more slickly produced than the first album, maybe a little more poppy, but still shows the songwriting craft they displayed on the debut. Gold and Warm is my favorite song off of the first album.

Love Don’t Care-Lab Partners

Kind of a first BRMC album vibe, with some chimey Coldplay “Yellow” stuff and maybe from an angle you would get a feel for some other songs too. I don’t care, nor does love. A good tune, and maybe you haven’t heard it yet.

Youth Without Youth-Metric

I don’t know if the zombie will like this one, but it is a “nice 70s glam stomper” filtered through some Electro Buck Rogers as maybe people say about this stuff. Realistically it is like a military new wave with some Goldfrappian touches, but I dig Goldfrapp so I think this is nice. What I don’t necessarily love is that a band commentary track released with this a few weeks back talked about kids being crushed under student loan debt as relating to the song, and this line has kind of been bandied about in reviews. The lyrics strike me as being a lot tougher than student loans. Weirdly I could see Muse Glenn Becking this song up, (without their own consent of course). What am I talking about? SONG OF THE DAY

Black Plastic-Ladytron

RAIN DOWN YOUR ICY ELECTRONIC VAGUELY DISTURBING ROBOT STAINLESS STEEL KITCHEN APPLIANCE MATH DANCE

I have always liked Ladytron, but in my busy life I maybe download some of their older albums and forget to listen so Pandora serves it up and I am all “LIKE” and then I realize I own it and am happy. Black plastic touching my plastic. Bleep bloop. So good.

Ladytron-Mirage

I had forgotten that I bought Ladytron’s latest, Gravity the Seducer, and in fact had played it quite a bit for a week. These “electroclash” mavens are like a chillier, krautrockier, electronic Lush- but that’s not right either. They put out consistently listenable records that seem infected with something in between iciness and aloofness- you’ll see these words a lot in Ladytron reviews, but it is hard to explain. Their latest isn’t as immediately gripping as their last few, but it has an electronic warmth and softening that differentiates it. I think this is the strongest track and in fact it is one of my fave Ladytron songs at the moment.

A Selection of Fuzzed Out Retro

I have an incredibly soft spot in my heart for the retro “girl group” sound. The spiral through time of this sound as it gets more and more derivative reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude and how things are slightly different but kind of the same.

I don’t know who first pushed the fuzzed out 60s retro sound, but I think that Suicide’s first album had the feel and sound and warping that must have influenced the giants coming next.

Suicide-Cheree

The Jesus and Mary Chain-Just Like Honey

But of course we are most in love with the next wave, that mix the above aesthetic with the Ramones speed and pop, but the fuzz and scuzz of above. Later Primitives recordings went the cleaner, shinier route.

The Primitives-Stop Killing Me

Hugely on the music snob radar now that their particular blueprint is being used for mechanized girl group indie fuzz pop destruction, Blac Tambourine really establishes perfection here. Untouchable.

Black Tambourine-Through Aggi Off the Bridge

Here is a forgotten track from cleaner retro proprietors, Adventures in Stereo.

Adventures in Stereo-Running

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Now we have the new new retro retro wave. As the world should know, I love The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This particular selection is not fuzzed out, but organ plus beat plus chimey is straight down the road of what we are discussing today. I note that many of the songs on their self-titled are fuzzier.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-The Tenure Itch

This next one is all over the web. Amanda had it at Pandagon, and Tbogg has it as his “gone fishing” video* *no comment? It is so good that I can’t fault its extremely derivative third or fourth wave nature, but I feel odd about the meta nostalgia for the first and second waves of nostalgia. What I enjoy is that certain pop songs that were once revolutionary, once invented, become timeless. Instead of being the new innovation on the block, they’ve become like selling vinyl to the kids, kind of like Coelacanth ear candy, living fossils.

Dum Dum Girls-Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout

Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent-The Besnard Lakes

30% late period Catherine Wheel + 30% Low + 2% Toto + 4% Alan Parsons Project + 34% magical sauce = Besnard Lakes.

Here are the opening two tracks of the very, very listenable new album. Apparently they just blew the doors off of SXSW. Figures. I was probably falling asleep to a rerun of NCIS or eating a tater tot. Sad.

I am deeply in love with this album, but it just so happens that I know this feeling will end so I am going with the flow and will play it into the ground until it does.

Out of the Blue-Julian Casablancas

Perfectly baroque new wave guitar pop dominates Julian Casablancas’ semi-ignored debut Phrazes for the Young. The album itself comes across as perfectly harmless and songs are relatively, but effortlessly bouncing in and out of different ideas. This one comes across as a country/New Wave hybrid with some cleanly Strokesy guitar- guitar that was never punk or new wave, but almost pop metal. One of four or five really good songs on the album (River of Brakelights, 11th Dimension, Tourist, Left and Right in the Dark). I’m glad I finally got it.

Generals and Majors-XTC

As I mentioned at the 3B!, I was simply astounded that this song was playing in the entryway Korean Market in sprawling Big Texas Megalopolis. My experience with the Korean Market soundtrack is that it tends very much to Asian or American ultra light Adult Contemporary, so this was incredibly surreal. I had to get out of there before they blew my mind with Capt. Sensible or something.

I think we all agree that XTC deserves more space that we currently give in on our collective zeitgeist hard drive.

Growing up in Deseret we had the ol’ new wave/modern rock station that played on occasion:

Generals and Majors
Making Plans for Nigel
Senses Working Overtime
Towers of London
Life Begins at the Hop
No Thugs in Our House
Love on a Farmboy’s Wages
King for a Day
Dear God
Mayor of Simpleton
Ballad of Peter Pumkinhead

And it wasn’t as if they were all that popular, but it of course was the time when you felt like you could play more that two songs by a band. I don’t think Talking Heads, who got much more play, had as many songs that would get pulled off the shelf.

UPDATE:

I think I must have also heard “Respectable Street” too

Hello to the Floor-The Duke Spirit

Pandora served this up to me, and they are available on eMusic. They fit my retro, nostalgic pseudo hippyish bar band longings, while also I realize now reminding me a little bit of Heartless Bastards, another Pandora serve that eMusic allowed me to get into. I suspect this will be enjoyed by Zombies.

6669 (I Don’t Know if You Know)-Neon Indian

Both Richard Armitage and Marc Hogan at Pitchfork note what I picked up on first listen of Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms, the washed out mix tape sound. What could strike as a cynical, and cheap unearned nostalgia is cleared away by the quality of some of the songs. The songs mine that 80s new wave sensitive emo melancholy. They play as tracks from a sub one hit wonder, but the B-sides of those band’s 12 inches that were just so good that the Saturday night DJ would play them on the request show along with Peter Godwin and Intaferon and the kids would tape it off the radio because you just couldn’t buy it.

God damn I always hated it when the cool kids looked cool in their pre-distressed jeans. That’s this album. The songs aren’t quite so under water on headphones, but it stands out on the old fashioned speakers. MGMT would be Neon Indian if MGMT weren’t completely manufactured shitheads.

Gone Forever-Raveonettes

Denmark’s Raveonettes hit their fave influences again on their latest In and Out of Control (Jesus and Mary Chain, Stereolab, girl group sound) but what do I care, that is a recipe for my heart’s desire. I think this is the wormiest track in its “this is the end” refrain for getting into your head. A very listenable album, with many tracks much more retro than this, but they all work because it is clear the bad are having such a good time doing what they do.

Marrow-St. Vincent

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) is only into her second album and I am starting to have angst about maybe never seeing her live. UC prefers the more delicate but still theatrical numbers while I lean to the angular, fuzzy, mathy virtuosity ones. We previously had “Your Lips Are Red” from her here, and “Marrow” is in the same vein. Phenomenal.

There is also an extended intro version of this same song from a different angle at the same show on the Tuber should you wish to get into it more, also it seems more songs from this set as well (good quality).

Car Radio-Spoon

Pandora birthed this effortless Spoon guitar triumphalism it’s so easy everything is perfect we are Spoon suck it talentless audience were are awesome Spoon who are you you are sad yeah I am but Spoon doesn’t even break a sweat it is so easy hey want to be pals really yeah wow you we be pals with me yeah we are Spoon we love everyone doesn’t everyone?

WARNING: Fan video.

NOTE: They won me over with the ol’ glass of milk gambit. Plus Spoon.

Between the Rent and Me-Snowden

A certain propulsive urgency. I like especially that it doesn’t feel overdone. Kind of like melodic retro-post punk. I wonder if the case can be made to have a certain amount of faith and get the entire album. This is a pretty good live version (the album version is on their 2006 LP Anti-Anti). This track was brought to my attention by Pandora.

I Can’t Stand It-Telepathe

1:02 in hits like a girl group My Bloody Valentine crossover. Maybe a little more Slowdive-y. Can’t say I love the album, but this song is so wonderful. We loved this track when it brightened our day in the P-Fork top 100 tracks of 2008, but the album showed up on eMusic and I loved it all over again.