Monthly Archive for June, 2013

Cayucas – Cayucos

Coming Attractions yet again. These guys will be playing at Schuba’s tomorrow night, which is essentially a flip wedge (golf term) from my apartment.

This is basically a synthesis of every California surf pop/rock act of the last forty years, but dang if it’s not catchy. Formerly called Oregon Bike Trails, this band is the brainchiled of Zach Yudin. His twin brother plays bass. The album is out on Secretly Canadian, which also used to put out Foreign Born albums when they existed, and man, am I bummed that they’re not really a band anymore, but I digress.

If you like this song, or find it sufficiently non-threatening, you’ll probably like the rest of the album. Biggest interesting data point tomorrow will be the set length. The album is about 30 minutes long, and I don’t know what else they have aside from the 10 or so album tracks, so it may be an early night.

Ultra Vivid Scene – Special One

For some reason I had always thought this song came out when I was in college, but I’m seeing an album release date of 1989, with the single released in 1990. It got to #14 on the U.S. modern rock charts. This song disappeared from me for a long time until I finally ran across the album ‘Joy: 1967-1990’ at a used record store somewhere, probably Lou’s Records on Pacific Coast Highway in Encinitas.

Ultra Vivid Scene was basically Kurt Ralske, and from his Wikipedia page, I get the impression that he was more an artist who dabbled in a number of things, including music. The background vocals you hear are indeed Kim Deal, formerly of the Pixies, and probably futurely of the Pixies as well.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Stick Figures in Love

Somehow I missed the bus on Pavement. Cut Your Hair was a big hit, which is to say it got played on Alternative Nation all the time when I was in college, but for some reason I never really got into Pavement even though I loved that song. I can only assume it was a combination of irregular airplay on KROQ, limited financial resources, and the lack of the technology to download or listen to stuff for free (aside from the radio), so I had to pick and choose what I actually wanted to listen to, and they never made the cut. Now they strike as one of those bands that I’ll have to work my way into slowly. This always happens when a band has a big back catalog. It’s too much to do at once. I’m working through that process with Superchunk right now.

Somehow about a year ago Range Life got stuck in my head, so I started listening to some Pavement, which made me want to check out Malkmus’ solo material (or whatever you call his stuff with the Jicks), and as it turns out, I really like the last album, Mirror Traffic. It’s got four or five really good songs, including the first two singles, Tigers and Senator. This one is my favorite, and while I think the studio version has a better mix for the lead guitar, I like that the KCRW version is sped up a little bit. The guy has a definite knack for hooks, and it’s always that third, sometimes fourth hook in the combination that really gets me, and this songs kicks them off right from the get go.

Spoon – Black Like Me

First, a quick congratulations to PP on post #400 last week.

So last week’s “Week of Shows” culminated in a festival set from Divine Fits at the Taste of Randolph Festival on Friday night, which actually sounded really good. Briefly ran into Britt Daniel roaming the festival area about a half hour before the show. But now that the “Week of Shows” has come to end, with only little in the way of coming attractions to preview, I’ll open this week with a discussion question: Can we all just agree that this is Spoon’s best song? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

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.

Japandroids – Younger Us

So I’m a day late with this one. Japandroids played the Metro last night, and as you’d probably expect, they’re a really good live band. They sort of remind me of Titus Andronicus in that there are a lot of call and response points and “oh-oh-ohs” in songs that really get the crowd into it. I also get the sense that if you want to see these guys with just the two person set-up, you should probably do it soon. More popularity and more resources will probably lead to them wanting a fuller sound and they’ll go the Black Keys route and add a bass and rhythm guitar at some point, but that’s just a guess.

If you’ve listened to any indie rock on the last year, you’ve almost certainly heard the House that Heaven Built and the Nights of Wine and Roses (if you haven’t, you should do so now), so I’m posting the track that is my friend’s favorite song from the album, and over time has become one of my favorites as well. They opened for the Walkmen a couple years ago, which was a rare miss for me, but I already had tickets for Guided By Voices that night, and I hadn’t seen them before. Life is full of tough choices.

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.

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share

Tonight begins the week+ of shows, where I have a concert to go to pretty much every night but Sunday. So yep, another Coming Attractions post. CHVRCHES will be playing sold out shows at Lincoln Hall on Monday and Tuesday. I’ll be at the Monday show.

CHVRCHES are a synthpop band from Glasgow that apparently generated quite a buzz at SXSW this year (or last year, or whenthehellever it was). Enough that this song was played fairly repeatedly on XMU at roughly the time I was home in California for about two months (where my parents’ cars had satellite radio), which meant I heard this song until it was seared in my brain and I couldn’t get it out. They’ve only got a few singles, b-sides, other releases, etc. (including a live cover of Prince’s I Would Die For You, which they’ll probably play next week). Still, despite not having an album, they’ll be playing in front a lot of sold out crowds in the coming weeks.

I don’t really have much to say about this song other than that I like it a lot, and as the blog proprietor knows, I’m a sucker for bands with cute female lead singers. This isn’t the type of show I would normally go see, but it’s at a great venue, and I get the sense that with this amount of buzz, they won’t be playing venues the size of Lincoln Hall very long. Kind of like when I got dragged to a Mumford and Sons show at LH a few years ago, a couple months before they’d be playing the Riviera, which is 5x the size of LH. So, notch on the belt, I guess.

Eleanor Friedberger – Stare at the Sun and When I Knew (live)

Yesterday was one of my most anticipated days of the year, as it marked the release of the new Eleanor Friedberger album, Personal Record. Her first album, Last Summer, was one of my favorite albums of 2011, and in her live shows supporting that album, she previewed some of the material that would make up the new one, including the two songs posted today. This is, yet again, a coming attractions post. Eleanor will be at the Empty Bottle this Friday, June 7th.

Eleanor’s solo work is irresistibly catchy. It’s basically the poppy songs that the Fiery Furnaces used to produce without all of the weird Matthew Friedberger stuff. She co-wrote most of this album with John Wesley Harding. These are probably the two catchiest songs on the album.

I’ve liked the Fiery Furnaces for a long time, but I went totally into the tank for Eleanor when I saw them in June of 2010 at the Empty Bottle. My brother had flown in that morning from Anchorage for the Angels series at Wrigley Field, and he came to the show with me that night. The Fiery Furnaces hit the stage and played for an hour straight. And I mean straight, as in no breaks, not to say thank you, not to retune, not for applause. It was an hour long medley of about 25 different FF songs, with all of the crazy key and time signature changes that entails, and they didn’t miss a note. It was incredibly impressive. After playing a three song encore, the crowd began clearing out. By the time we made it to the door (which couldn’t have been more than 30 or 45 seconds) Eleanor was already sitting at the merch table. She was really sweet to talk to, and she complimented me on my Super Furry Animals t-shirt. It’s nice to listen to someone make really good music and also know that she’s a really cool person.

Below is the song that was my favorite “new” song from her live shows last year, When I Knew.

Crocodiles – Sleep Forever

I was pretty excited to learn that these guys are opening for Japandroids a week from tomorrow, as I already have a ticket for that show, and I love when the opener turns out to be a band I like more than the headliner (not that I don’t like Japandroids). I’ve seen Crocodiles a couple times and their live shows are pretty good. Brandon Welchez seems like a good guy as well. We chatted over a couple beers the last time they played Schuba’s.

Crocodiles fall into the current genre of bands that basically devoured every Spacemen 3, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, etc. album from the ’80s and ’90s. Despite taking their name from what is probably Echo and the Bunnymen’s second best album, their sound is pretty unmistakably shoegaze, but with pretty straightforward melodies, and tracks that don’t make you wait too long for the payoff. This song is the title track to their second album. They released their third, Endless Flowers, last year and a fourth is reportedly on the way in the next couple months.

Their first album, Summer of Hate, ends with a song that could have come right off a number of different Spacemen 3 collections. It actually sounds quite a bit like Take Me To the Other Side (probably my favorite Spacemen 3 song). I actually find that kind of great, since I once saw Brandon’s wife’s old band, the unfortunately named Grand Ole Party, open for Spiritualized. He’s married to Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls, so she’s found a little more success since then.