Archive for the 'Retro' Category

Melody’s Echo Chamber – Crystallized

Melody’s Echo Chamber is the project of Frenchwoman Melody Prochet. She was in a band called My Bee’s Garden, which opened for Tame Impala somewhere along the line. She got together with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, who helped her rework her own sound and produced her first album. The first four tracks on the album are really the winners, and this is my favorite of the bunch.

I hear a lot of different things going on here. Stereolab/Ivy are obvious comps because of her French accent, and of course it’s easy to say that this is Tame Impala with a female singer, but I don’t think that’s all that accurate or fair (admittedly, the bass line here kind of seems lifted from Tame Impala’s Runway Houses City Clouds). There’s a bit of Krauty/Motorik feel in parts of the album, and there’s sort of a 60’s pastiche that’s reminiscent of Broadcast, though I realize it’s not all that surprising that an act that gets compared to Stereolab would also get compared to Broadcast. There’s also a bit a shoegaze feel to much of the album, and quite frankly I don’t know that I’d associate Broadcast with shoegaze, but your mileage may vary. Anyway, I think this was probably one of my favorite songs of 2012.

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.

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.

War On Drugs-Baby Missiles

Slacker.fm has been loading these guys up on one of my stations, and every time they come on pop out of my office cave and check the spacelab computer that is blaring music for who the artist is, and it has been War On Drugs for three different tracks. This is just a driving driving driving song. A little bit of a Bruce feel without sounding like the Boss, and it is funny there is a slight Kurt Vile here, and this is his band, except he’s not on this album because he’s been doing his solo stuff for awhile. These guys are hard to explain- Tom Petty sound collage with reverb or psychedelic freeway rock pop. This is from their last album, 2011’s Slave Ambient. Live versions brings out the Dylan-isms (also the harmonica). Focus on the sound of the band and if he’s too much live, the vocals are better balanced

Foxygen – Shuggie

I kind of had a hard time deciding between this song, San Francisco, and No Destruction. I went with this one because it features a few different styles. These guys are basically ’60s revival, but where the Brian Jonestown Massacre are doing the Stones, Foxygen is heavy into the Kinks and Donovan. They’re a couple of guys based in L.A., and if you’re in the right mood, their stuff is really good. Though it’s kind of hard to tell whether they’re sincere or maybe a bit affected.

They’re playing Pitchfork this year, and because I thought the lineup on the whole kind of sucked, it served as a good motivator to listen to bands on my radar that I hadn’t yet made time for. As a result, they’ve become one of my new musical obsessions. I’ll probably post another one of those on Wednesday.

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.

Wait For Us-Mind Spiders

No offense to Jennifer, but this song is awesome, though the video makes me want to cry because it is very Outer Limits and I feel sad for fan astronaut and his possible fake fate on sad empty planet. I predict Zombie will like this one. Garage psych and I think they would play a great show. They are from a few hours away from Cloverhill Big Texas Cinnamon Roll, but it seems like a lifetime.

Mind Spiders – “Wait For Us” from stereogum on Vimeo.

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

What’s In It For? – Avi Buffalo

AC Newman name dropped this band in a Pitchfork guest list, which they’re apparently doing by podcast now. That’s a good thing, because they played part of the track in background, and it sounded pretty good, so I sought it out. I’m not sure if I like the whole album yet, but this song hit me pretty much right away.

So far the best descriptions I’ve read are “Built to Spill teaching Grizzly Bear to jam” and “Like the xx raised on a diet of Built to Spill and the Shins”. I’ll admit that Built to Spill was the first band that these guys brought to mind, maybe because of the high pitched voice. This is another band out of Southern California. Long Beach this time, instead of Silverlake, and they sound a bit more beachy than bands like Foreign Born and Local Natives. More San Francisco-y. They also kind of remind me of Generationals (who are awesome, by the way), in that it’s a updated version of a fairly classic or oldies sound. Enjoy.

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.

When They Fight, They Fight – Generationals

Generationals are a band out of New Orleans who will be touring this Spring with the Apples in Stereo. Their tour mates will probably give you an idea of what they’re going to sound like. Hooks and melodies so sweet they make your teeth hurt. But in a bit of twist, they’re also totally retro. This song has sort of a late ’50s Motown feel to it. Pinko ought to love this stuff.

I’m including a link to their Myspace page because, while I’m loving this album, I think the first song “Nobody Could Change Your Mind” is probably my favorite, and I can’t find a good embeddable version. So click the link and go listen that one too.

They’ll be at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on April 30th. Really looking forward to this show, even though it will be the second show for me in the same night. Never pulled that off before, but Los Campesinos! starts at 7:00, and this show doesn’t start until 10:00, so I should be able to swing 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

You’ll Disappear-The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Likely a dance punk outfit that realized it would be more fun to be a groove/minimalist funk/space disco band than a rock band pretending to play techno, these guys I might guess are a fun show. I saw this vid at Amandagon, and this particular track makes me want to take fake pills and fake smoke but everything else can be very real. The lead vocalist on this track is only guesting and I haven’t listened to the rest of the album yet, so no info there.

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.

No One Said That This Would Be Easy – The Postmarks

I heard this song on XM radio when I was on a Jet Blue flight from Long Beach to Chicago, and it made an impression. It sounded like an American version of some stuff I’ve heard from Broadcast. It’s the opening track from their new album Memoirs at the End of the Word. Interestingly, when you rip this CD and import it into iTunes, the genre tag is “Soundtrack”, which is kind of funny since I don’t think any of these songs appear on any soundtracks. But the whole album sounds like it’s full of songs that could be on movie soundtracks, and this song in particular has a real early James Bond feel to it.

I saw these guys in concert last night with Brookville, which is one of the side projects of Andy Chase (Ivy, Paco). Great show. Only about 50 people there, and Tim Yehezkely, the lead singer for the Postmarks (yes, she’s a girl and her name is Tim, and no, that’s not her on the video/album cover actually, I take that back, I think that is her) was kind of dancing by herself through the whole Brookville set. This was going on about five feet in front of me. It was just a cool atmosphere. I feel guilty at those shows, because I kinda like when they aren’t crowded, but at the same time I feel bad for the bands that more people didn’t show up. And if the crowd is like that for a Chicago show, what’s it going to be like when they play Omaha?

Anyway, this whole album is really good, but this is my favorite song from it so far.

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.

I Knew-Lightning Dust

Lightning Dust has some members from the Pink Mountaintops/Black Mountain collective that are very beloved in these parts. Once this one gets going I can’t help but think of an 80’s movie montage where the characters implement their plan or enjoy a day of hijinks compressed into 2.5 minutes.

This is from their latest Infinite Light.

Checking In, Checking Out – The High Llamas

Sean O’Hagan has been a large, yet somewhat unsung part of two of my favorite bands. He’s done a lot of work with both Stereolab and the Super Furry Animals. In fact, if his best work with SFA (“Frequency”, from the album Love Kraft) was available on Youtube, I’d be posting that instead, but such is life.

So having heard his name over and over, I decided to check out the High Llamas a few years ago. And while it’s taking time to get myself sold on the whole catalog, the first song I ever checked out was this one from a collection of b-sides and rarities. And since being all “Beach Boys-esque” is really cool these days, I figured this was a good time to post a Sean O’Hagan song.

But seriously, search for and listen to “Frequency” by SFA. It’s probably my favorite SFA song, and the strings are a huge part of that. Or, in the alternative, if Pinko will let me send him the track to do the plug-in thing, I can do that too.

The Boy With the Arab Strap

One of my favorite songs ever. This version is exceptionally good. While it is quite similar to the album version, in this case the execution of such a facsimile enhances the feeling of vibrancy and connection. Certain songs can make your spine tingle a bit when you hear a live version that hits the tiny parts that you treasure, and because you are hanging on waiting for those brief moments, when they arrive they are that much more powerful.

Key aspect of this version is the faithful reproduction of the outro, which can be ad-libbed in other renditions. Also the volume gets pretty low on the album fade out so it can be very hard to catch, but here it is right there.