Archive for the 'New New Wave' Category

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.

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


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.


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.

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.

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.

Summertime Clothes-Animal Collective

I needed to wait until posting this wasn’t seen as hipster, then I needed to avoid the accusation of bandwagon, then there was the minefield of the inevitable backlash. I hope I am in the realm of indifference/old news, but am likely in the land of poseur.

Creepy and psychedelic video for a surprisingly 80s-esque experimental art-wave straight up lovey dovey song about walking around at night in the city when it is too hot to sleep in your unstated 4th floor Brooklyn walk-up or some such. Works best for our Northeastern urban areas, 80s Sprite commercial type zones and from the Loop up to Wrigleyville. It is really a good tune.

Too Too Too Fast-Ra Ra Riot

It’s about time we had a band mining Outfield, Rick Springfield, Cory Hart territory. Pretty well done for what it is.

Outfield for the young ones.

Destroy Everything You Touch-Ladytron

I know we just did a Ladytron, but this song has been on my mind lately. I’ve just gotten their new one, Velocifero, but haven’t had a chance to listen. This is from their top-to-bottom super solid Witching Hour. The album strikes one as “pretty good” on first listen, but it is just so listenable it has to get a knock up a level.

Ghosts – Ladytron

This song is part of the continuing series of songs that I have no right listening to, liking, or blogging. Ladytron write electro music that is not IDM at all. Usually it’s kind of creepy, like The Knives, and sometimes it is a little Goldfrappy, but it is not Uncanny-y. Usually.

I heard Ghosts on WOXY about two weeks ago, while completely immersed in some other activity, and barely registered the song. I remember thinking, how interesting and how unlike Ladytron. Then it was out of my mind. That was until waking up this morning with about half of the chorus in my head inexplicably. It took me about an hour of wracking my brain to come up with the rest of the chorus, and then Google took over.

After a couple of listens, I figured out why this song won’t leave my head. First there are the lyrics of the chorus: “There’s a ghost in me … who wants to say I’m sorry …. doesn’t mean I’m sorry”. How odd and intriguing. Lyrically, the chorus is hypnotic and just strange enough to get wrapped on auto-loop in my poor little brain. The music at the beginning is really good as well – others have pointed out that it sounds right out of Dr. Who. It works. Finally, this song is being released as a single along with three mixes, and you can find those using the internetz the usual way, and at least two are quite quite interesting.

Update: This song is permanently stuck in my head. I just sang it for fifteen minutes straight in the shower … and I don’t sing in the shower. Need help!!!!

Desert Island-Magnetic Fields

Since this song and another wonderful track from the same album, Holiday, are not on the Tuber but were both used by (genius) Errol Morris in commercials for Southern Comfort, I will link those ads, and you can get a small taste of absolute pop genius. Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt specializes in a hard to describe feeling that touches melancholy and nostalgia. I can only describe this feeling as suburban high school nights driving around in your care with nothing better to do but think about that someone. Obviously, if this isn’t your formative experience, the feeling will likely be attached to somthing else. From the way Morris uses the songs in the ads, you can tell he senses the same feeling in Merritt’s work. These earlier tunes have a Casiotone taste, although these two are the lushest on the album and not as chintzy.

The ad “Young at Heart” uses
Desert Island

The ad “Bridesmaids” uses Strange Powers

Ask Me Anthing-The Strokes

One more from their underrated third. And a really cool user-created You Tube vid. She’s painting and cleaning her house, and yet it is wonderful. Why isn’t this song beloved?

I Used to Dance with My Daddy-Datarock

From what Pitchfork called the gayest album as in G.A.Y. capital G. and A and Y. I wouldn’t know. If Norwegian disco electro drawlers is gay, maybe. Who knows, maybe the rest of the album is about guys doing guys and dancing with their “daddys.” What I do know is there is a slightly sped up remix of this song that gives essentially the same song, an eensy bit punched up plus an extended kind of trippy outro that singlehandedly legitimizes all remixes evar. Awesome. Original can be found here.

Song with a Mission-The Sounds

They kind of dropped the ball with this one. As Swedes, they get a pass on the aunthenticity game (not that that game ain’t bullshit anyway). In from what I can tell is there only song that rises above the slightly off-angle lyrics and over-earnestness, they have a reasonable radio riff on this track but an even more reasonable kiss-off line “this song is not for you” but they don’t hit it out of the park. They could have gone anywhere with it, but they go for euroteen affected disaffection anthem. Oh well, I’ll give them a pass because they might not even know that they are trying to be less squeaky Missing Persons on the rest of their songs. I still like catching 20-30 seconds of this on the radio.

Song with a Mission-The Sounds

Here’s hilarious: she winds the Warped tour crowd up all hard ass with a chant that seems all Hives-like (like they might back it up with some nice retro riff or something), but instead some synth comes in and you know “Walking in LA” was like 20 times harder. This is more “Kids in America”. It’s ABBA punk. It’s not good.