The cave singers, more so than almost any other band, have a way of making me feel comfortable and at ease. Maybe it’s lead singer Pete Quirk’s way of crawling through the lyrics with his trademark grainy voice. Maybe it’s the relative simplicity of the key elements of their songs. Whatever it is, it gets me. “No Witch” has a rustic, but not at all antiquated quality that is hard to pin point. It’s the type of music that the band seems to feel so at ease making that at times it feels like Quirk is just improvising the verses. In general, The Cave Singers keep things pretty low key, but their are enough exuberant and rowdy numbers to avoid any sort of monotony. Every once in a while a record comes along that just ‘fits’ with me. This is one of those records.
This is another one of those semi-dubstep / hipster pseudo-R&B type deals. And I can’t say that I’m a big fan. It is however significantly better than that James Blake album in my eyes because it does actually sound like music as opposed to a broken 80’s cassette player. Also, Woon can really sing (even without the help of autotune). In general though I just found this record undeniably boring. It doesn’t even have the raw sex appeal of that album by ‘The Weeknd’. The only track worth mentioning was “Night Air”, a quiet to loud gem that’s carried by Woon’s smooth vocals and is just way cooler than anything else on the album.
It’s amazing how a band that formed in 1976 can still sound so relevant today. Forget ‘indie-dads’ these guys are ‘indie-grandparents’. I’m not completely sure if The Feelies are ‘timeless’ or if they just have adapted really well. Although, I’m leaning towards a conclusion that is closer to the former. I think I feel the same way about them as I do REM. It’s like their sound is timelessly ‘un-hip’, in the best sort of way. They are the sort of band that has never given any sort of mention or nod to what is trendy in the industry during their 4o some years of making music. “Here Before” is for the most part a remarkable combination of meticulously layered guitar, and Glenn Mercer’s trademark soulful buzz of a voice. ‘Grace’ and ‘class’ are two words that come to mind while listening to this one.
A Part of Something Bigger by The Eclectic Moniker
If tropical electro isn’t what you instinctively think of when you think of Denmark. Then you are in the same boat as me. Especially if you don’t really think of anything outside of windmills when you think of Denmark. Windmills are Denmark right?… Anyways, “A Part of Something Bigger” is a quick little 4 song ep filled with nothing but warm equatorial breezes and drum machines. The lead track “Easter Island” was almost too much for me to handle. With all the steel drums/marimbas it felt like I was listening to a ‘Sandals’ commercial or watching Weekend at Bernie’s 2 or something. You could say that track was a bit tacky. But I’m glad I stuck with it because the rest of this ep was much more tasteful and much less phony. “A Part of Something Bigger” is full of gentle electronic beats accented by hints of umbrella’d drinks and sunburn. It’s all pretty legit, especially the song “2 officers”.
The Kills keep chuggin’ on with another collection of gritty ‘indie biker chick’ rock songs. I imagine they do pretty well with the ‘Roller Derby’ demographic. “Blood Pressures” is an album that definitely rocks. No doubt about that. It’s just also an album that sits kind of heavy with me. Not in the sense that it dealt with a lot of sad or downtrodden subject matter, but all that ‘tough girl’ (or guy) vibe just starts sit with me the same way that eating too much fried food sits in my stomach. It’s just something I personally can only take in limited quantities. That shouldn’t stop you from giving it a listen if you so desire, and mean mugging anyone in your path.
Here come some rapid-fire opinions from a not entirely reputable source.
VISIONS by Airlines
This is a really pleasant surprise of a release. It’s a quick 4 song electronic ep, that’s shockingly diverse in sound. The lead single “Burial Grounds” is a sprawling, tropically retro sounding track that would easily have been the best song on the last ‘Cut Copy’ album IMO. While “Colors” is a spastic and funky ‘Yeasayeresque’ trip to the land of semi-psychedelia. A lot of electronic groups have songs that feel like they are 1 or 2 minutes too long. But not these guys. This one holds your interest from start to finish.
McComb’s 09 release ‘Catacombs’ was a stunning multi-dimensional folk album that balanced big emotions with playful lyricism. Unfortunately, I never really got into his latest work ‘Wit’s End’. While, “The Lonely Doll” is a painfully pretty metaphor of a song. The rest of the album simply seems to maintain this drawn out overly delicate, ‘music box’ type feel throughout. Leaving in it’s wake a very sleepy amateur music listener.
Wit’s End: 2 out of 5 Hit after Hit by Sonny and the Sunsets
Outside of Calvin Johnson, I’m not sure anyone has as keen a knack for creating massive quantities of jangly, innocent and at times goofy rock songs as Sonny Smith. The major difference being that Sonny’s songs are probably a bit more ‘California’ and care free. ‘Hit After Hit’ is an aptly named album that keeps the 2 minute long, retro garage-pop gems coming one after the other. Major summer album alert y’all.
This album strikes me as some sort of middle ground between ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Free Energy’. Only not as precisely played / unique as the former and not as energetic / sincere as the latter. It’s a straightforward effort that tries to hit you with as many ‘hooky’ power pop jams as possible. The problem lies in the fact that only 1, maybe 2 of these tracks are memorable.
To say “W h o k i l l” is out there, is a major understatement. I imagine this is what it would be like to do ecstasy and speed at the same time. At times it’s off the wall fun. At other times it’s schizophrenic. In general though, the hyper dance party portions outweigh the borderline creepy portions. There is a lot going on here but when it all comes together on tracks like “Gangsta” the end result is something along the lines of a ‘freak-folk’/free form jazz version of Vampire Weekend that is surprisingly kickin’.
Beach Fossils always kind of feel like the nostalgic suburban summers of one’s adolescence. On “What a Pleasure” the band basically continues with the same dreamy shoegaze style they created on their debut. The sound of the two releases is shockingly similar, with the only major difference being that now the lead vocals seem a little less hazy and more seperated from the rest of the track. The relaxing and immaculately played guitars are still the undeniable star of the Ep however. As much as I kind of want to dismiss this as ‘nothing new’ for the Brooklyn based outfit, I can’t help but find myself continually drawn in to the hypnotic ‘summer vacation’ that Dustin Payseur develops.
Jonny is a collaborition between Euros Childs and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake. Most of the album tries to focus on a toned down version of the psychedelic pop that ‘Woods’ has revitalized. Most of the time though it hovers around a substandard immitation of that. Or worse, a really wimpy version of ‘The Kills’. I think Jonny is actually at it’s best on tracks like “Circling The Sun” when the project harvess the same brand of charming pop that Teenage Fanclub made a living off of.
If ‘The Music Hoarder” was my baby someone surely would have called DCFS by now. It’s never too late to be a good parent, so here are some quick and dirty album reviews.
Return of 4eva by Big K.R.I.T.
KRIT is back with some killer album art and his sophomore release. And once again, it’s really solid. His laid back country ‘cool’ is something that few MC’s can match. True to his Southern form KRIT manages to keep ‘Return of 4eva’ from feeling rushed or overly busy, a remarkable feat for an a highly anticipated rap album. The whole thing has an ease and grace to it that is pretty refreshing during a time when a lot of rappers seem to just be forcing out single after single.
If you haven’t heard Those Darlins yet, they are kind of like Best Coast if Best Coast was from rural Tennessee instead of Southern California. “Screws Get Loose” is a fun album that combines some of that rowdy and playful nature of garage rock bands like ‘Black Lips’ with a hint of some of that rowdy and playful nature of more ‘down home’ bands like ‘Old Crow Medicine Show’. In short, “Screws Get Loose” is a playfully sloppy homogeneous mix of a lot of whatthe American South has had to offer musically in the last 30 years or so. Line up the shots of Beam now.
Paul Simon is still making music, and apparently still captivated by a lot of those afro/world pop sounds that he made famous here in the US.Talent-wise, Simon has aged well. His voice is still as clear and soulful as ever and it’s comforting to hear. At times though ‘So Beautiful or So What’ seems a little tacky though. I’m not sure if the ability to write music like he used to is evading him or if it’s just that he’s writing music very much like…well, Paul Simon used to. Maybe this brand of folk can’t help but sound dated and sort of silly at times now when it’s presented to us as ‘new’. That being said he does pretty effectively play around with electronic folk elements in the opener “Getting Ready For Christmas Day”, and in a sense it’s probably better that Paul Simon is just being himself rather than trying to reinvent himself at this point in his career. While there are plenty of moments that just seem unbareably sweet on this one, at the end of the day any fan of Simon should be able to pull away at least a few tracks that put them in a good mood.
Easily the best release to date by the multi-talented Donald Glover. Never before has the sitcom star sounded this polished as a rapper. The ingenious lyricism and confidence was always there but the finished product always sounded just sort of like a goofy side project. “Freaks and Geeks” however, is the full fruition of Glover’s skill-set as an MC. The samples now actually work to help embellish the verses, whereas before it often seemed like Gambino had to fight against the song he was using for a beat for control of the listeners ear. Like I said the lyricism hear is still top-notch, there is so much wit crammed into every verse it really keeps your brain on it’s toes while listening to it. Also there is a certain ferocity that Gambino spits with that really seperates himself from the other rappers of the ‘nerd-core’ alt hip-hop genre. Don’t let the voice and indie samples fool you, this shit is hard. If their is one minor complaint I have it’s that the subject matter has been just about the same on every album: ‘I’m multi-talented’, ‘I used to be a nerd’, ‘I bang a lot of hipster chix’ etc. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gambino branch out a bit in this department, but realistically if he keeps busting out quality tracks like the 5 on Freaks and Geeks, then I really can’t complain too much.
Listen to Freaks and Geeks
Former Dinosaur Jr. front man and the original ‘indie rock guitar hero’ J. Mascis gives us his first ever solo work with “Several Shades of Why”. The album was anything but predictable for those who are familiar with Dinosaur Jr. Because here we have the face of one of the most (in)famously loud bands of all time bringing us one of the prettiest minimalist folk-rock albums in recent memory. Where there once was a wall of seemingly impenetrable soundburying Mascis’ Neil Young like wail, there’s now just an intimate acoustic guitar and the gravely voice of a much more introspective and mature Mascis. During his Dinosaur Jr. days the notoriously aloofMascis rarely let you in on what he was thinking. Being in touch with your feelings didn’t really fit in with the whole slacker/savant thing he had going for him. Now older, J finally seems to be willing to open up a little and show some vulnerability. This album is less like Dinosaur Jr. and more like the album that “Eels” has been trying to make for the last few years. Leave it to Mascis to get it right on the first try.
Several Shades of Why: 5 out of 5.
Lives and Treasure by Acrylics
Not really sure how to categorize Acrylics sound. There is a bit of 80’s synth pop sound on songs like the opener “Counting Sheep”, but in general it’s neither trendy nor retro. I guess its like an alternative dark pop music of sorts. A good portion of the album feels sort of mysterious and slightly sexy, but then other parts are more quaint and acoustic. In general it’s a hard album to get into the flow of. I do like the voices of the duo a lot. Moly Shea has a really clean voice that pops out from the rest of the music, not that unlike Neko Case (especially on the track Nightwatch), while Jason Klaubers vocal delivery is considerably more gentle. The two really compliment eachother, but I tend to prefer when Shea takes the lead. After giving the album a couple of listens there is really not that much that stands out to me. The previously mentioned Counting Sheep and Nightwatch are both really cool tracks, but a lot of the album is less than riveting. There is just very little on Lives and Treasure that I needed to hear again and again.
It’s been a while y’all. But the lack of posts doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to anything new. Although I have been going through an old school Weezer faze/funk. Anyways, here’s a bunch of quick notes on some stuff I’ve checked out in the past week.
Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio
If the album art looks like TOTR’s take on ‘chillwave’ to you, that’s probably because that’s sort of how this album feels. At the very least, this is a lot mellower than the veteran band has ever sounded. “Nine Types of Light” is a warm album that wraps itself around you like a big ole bear hug. A funky, vaguely African, sexy bear hug. In the past, TOTR was the type of band that would cause listeners to (presumably) smoke a joint and get real political/deep. This new TOTR is a different beast altogether. Now listeners are (presumably) much more inclined to smoke a joint and start making out or just space out on the couch. I guess, we shouldn’t be surprised by this evolution. The band has changed a lot over the course of their discography. And this wouldn’t be the first time that a loud funkyish rock band mellowed out with age, just ask The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Either way as of now this is my album of the year.
Super group alert! Middle Brother is a roots rock band formed from members of the stylistically similar Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit. As to be expected the self titled album is a lot of scraggly vocals, loose guitar and flannel. “Middle Brother” is a relatively easy and unpretentious listen from start to finish, although at times it lacks a little of the oomph that each of the trio’s original bands posses. Maybe since the three take turns being front men, the project lacks one overarching vision. There are a lot of good pieces on Middle Brother but I’m still unsure as to whether they all fit together in a puzzle. Although, the doo-wop(py) “Someday” and the upbeat and quirky “Middle Brother” are a couple of great listens.
There are some bands out there that you hope never grow up. The scrappy punk-pop trio “Let’s Wrestle” is one of those bands and luckily they show very little signs of maturation with their second record on Merge, “Nursing Home”. As it turns out these guys seem to actually detest anything or anyone ‘mature’, as noted on their hilarious “Song For Old People” on their last record: “Going to the seaside when it’s way too cold. / Life ain’t worth living once you get old”. The bashing of those who are more experienced in life continues on their latest release with songs like “Bad Mammaries” which is sort of an ‘anti-milf’ anthem: “Aren’t you a bit wrinkled to a be a nymphomaniac? / Aren’t you a bit insignificant to be so arrogant. / Please just give up! Join a nunnery! “. Remind me not to invite them to my “Real Housewives” viewing party.
The rest of the album focuses on some pretty heavy topics like being ‘too lazy to sleep’, sleeping a lot, dreams about Pokemon, being chronically late etc. But my favorite song is 2.5 minute, “If I Keep On Lovin’ You”. It’s got a heavy/playful bass that really defines the song. The clueless slacker love song is a nice change of pace because it’s the only time on the album that the band isn’t full of brash confidence. Having no clue about the opposite sex doesn’t keep them from creating a song that makes you want to flail around in poppy punky glee though.
“The Suburbs” is a song about feeling safe in your comfort zone. It’s really similar to the Weezer classic “In the Garage”, and also pretty solid in it’s own right. Hopefully the band continues to stay within it’s musical comfort zone for the foreseeable future. Because “Nursing Home” is pretty great and “In The Court Of Wrestling Let’s” (which I admittedly only first listened to last week) is absolutely terrific.