Friday, June 29, 2012

Savages-Flying to Berlin

Despite everyone's collective brain's exploding when they heard Savages' "Husbands", the band managed to release the A-side to their debut single under nearly everyone's noses. "Flying to Berlin" colors the other side of Savages that we didn't even know was there in the first place. While "Husbands" painted them as the band at the perfect intersection of no wave and post-punk, "Flying to Berlin" shows what the band is when they dial back the intensity and up the slink. "Flying to Berlin" is noir-punk, the audio equivalent of watching a very tense spy film, with a pulsy bass line and a guitar line as coiled as the snake on the cover, released in distorted blasts with the chorus. The field recorded jets add to the atmosphere of the song, a perfect icing to this dark, moody cake. Savages got hailed as punk saviors when "Husbands" came out, and "Flying to Berlin" has sort of confirmed this. Not with another sharp blast of pure intensity, but with a track showing all the different crevasses of a genre that Savages are willing to enter in order to create something great.


Savages' Facebook
Buy the Flying to Berlin 7" here, from Pop Noire

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Divine Fits-Would That Not Be Nice

Divine Fits must be the most casual indie supergroup ever. There is no bombast with them, from their press release to their music, despite the band being made of members of Spoon, Wolf Parade, and New Bomb Turks. They announced themselves to the world three weeks ago, and dropped the minimalist and bleak single "My Love is Real" last week. However, it is "Would That Not Be Nice" that really shows off the band's potential. With Britt Daniel up front, the band gains a Spoon-y feel to it. In fact "Would That Not Be Nice" wouldn't be out of place on Transference. With a can only be descriped as funky bass line, the song grooves along as Daniel's echoed voice cuts in and out along with simple and beyond excellent guitar riff. Add some peppy syths from Dan Boeckner through out the song, and "Would That Not Be Nice" is tied together perfectly into the sublime rocker that it is.


Divine Fits' Website

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Boombox Hearts-100 (The Latest Flame)

The email I got that had The Boombox Hearts' "100 (The Latest Flame)" had the subject line "indie summer hit". I know a lot of press emails have a line like that in the subject or description, but it still is a deeply audacious thing to say, that your song is one of the defining songs of the summer of 2012, the song that people will think back to and have soundtracking their memories. But fuck if "100 (The Latest Flame)" isn't that. The Boombox Hearts have crafted something something very wonderful here, from the mellow intro, the chewy center of the song complete with knotty guitar lines and and smile inducing ten second synth breakdown, before colliding into a noisy but finessed finale. All glued together by the lead singers gruff voice, uncommon in the indie pop world, but perfect here. Congrats to The Boombox Hearts from making such a great song, which truly is destined to be a summer hit one way or another.


The Boombox Hearts' Facebook

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Purity Ring-Fineshrine

I don't know why I like Purity Ring. By every standard, the clear R&B influence, to the the crystal like electronic beats and uber pristine production, I should completely reject Purity Ring with every fiber of my being. But instead, with every new song they release, I fall in love with the band a little bit more. And with the release of "Fairshrine", I just might have to propose.

There have been people who have say that "Fairshrine" might be Purity Ring's best song to date and the thirty plus listens within the past day do not contest. The glory of "Fairshrine" lies in the way it is the fulfillment of everything Purity Ring have been building to. The production is at once eerie and glowing. It is what would be playing in a subterranean cave you just discovered lit only by strange, cave light. The lyrics only add to the juxtaposition of the song. Purity Ring are know for grotesque and surreal lyrics, but few bands could have the line "Cut open my sternum and pull" as a chorus line and not only make it work, but manage to attach some absurd beauty to it as well. "Fairshrine" is just unbelievably striking, proof Purity Ring haven't even scratched the surface of what they can do, and above all else one of the best electro pop songs of the year.

(mp3) Purity Ring-Fineshrine


Purity Ring's Website
Pre-order Shrines here, from 4AD Records


Under all the excitement for the various Grizzly Bears, Dirty Projectors, etc. that are some truly exciting underrated/unknown albums coming out within the next few months as well. On the top of that list is the debut from Holograms. They already proved themselves with the one-two punch of ABC City 7" and the glory of "Chasing My Mind". But to have crafted an opening track as great as "Monolith" is just unbelievable. Bursting forward from a sludgy beginning to pure post-punk glory. Gone are any of the undercutting synths that usually balance out the bleakness of the song. Instead with "Monolith", much like the feel of the title itself, you get just a steady blast of dark, fuzzy, post-punk that just blackens the mind. Even the coda at the end carries the same dark energy as the rest of the song. Bit of evil emerge when someone listens to "Monolith", and it's great.


Holograms' Website

Monday, June 18, 2012

David Byrne & St. Vincent-Who

A David Byrne and St. Vincent collaboration just make sense. Both artists create complicate guitar songs, songs built around using the guitar in innovative ways that are both strikingly unique and minimalist at the same time. They also draw from the same lyrical inspiration, singing about subjects that could be taken at face value, but well communicating that they aren't really about that. So that's what makes the announcement of Love This Giant so exciting, and listening to "Who" so grin inducing. There is a dichotomy to "Who" that runs through out it that fleshes it out in such a brilliantly awkward way. And there is no negativity towards saying "Who" is awkward because it relishes in that sensibility and makes it great. tUnE-yArDs like brass forms the base of the song while David Byrne and St. Vincent trade off verses that shift between Byrne's nervous twitch (which hasn't been this present or perfect since Remain in Light) and Vincent's angelic like come backs. Between each trade off some new element is brought in then quickly discarded (an electric pulse, a mutant and awesome sounding guitar line), bringing an even more off-kilter sense to the song. Even when Byrne and Vincent do collide two-thirds into the song, a truly beautiful few moments in the mist of all this chaos, said moment is unstained as the song progress again to calculated randomness. All these elements shouldn't work, but stacked like they are within "Who they do, reaffirming Byrne's genius and cementing Vincent'.


David Byrne's Website
St. Vincent's Website

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chaos in Tejas Part 1: Friday

Chaos in Tejas is nontraditional in a lot of ways. Instead of concentrating a bunch of bands to one area, instead several bands are booked across different venues across Austin, with each line-up usually showcasing a different variety of punk rock. Needless to say, the four day fest is fucking fun, if only mared by being one of the most heat intensive musical experiences of the year. Personal matters blocked me from experiencing the first day, but I jumped into the other three days, each being very different from the last.

Gun Outfit

I got to the brand new, two story Beauty Ballroom just in time to catch Gun Outfit's set. Can something be great and awkward at the same time? It felt that way watching Gun Outfit create very gloomy and moody post-punk, something akin to Lower Dens circa their first album trying to be Flipper. And the venue, with the excellent lighting and awesome sound system, helped to convey all that live. The guitars were loud and distorted without over ridding the vocals, and the bass didn't envelope everything. However, this was clearly a punk rock crowd sitting through a band they did not want to see, and the openness of the venue just emphasised this. The band debuting slower and more shoegaze-esque songs didn't help either. If the venue had been half the size, the power that Gun Outfit brings life wouldn't have been lost. Instead a great set was lost on a crowd that couldn't appreciate it. 

The Young

The Young are an Austin staple, a band that opens for all those cool touring bands and probably is playing in town in any given week. As such, I thought it would be OK to sit out their set and just watch from the second floor. Looking back that was a massive mistake on my part. The Young have really evolved in their live set, in a mirror reflection of how their sound has developed. From a band that once was a basic punk band, one listen to their debut album Voyagers of Legend and its mixture of stoner rock, Fugazi angularism, and mild psychedelia, shows you a how far they've come. So to have their live show. For a band that plays decently drug influenced music, the four people on stage were tight as hell. They bobbed and weaved between each respective band members instruments, each member bringing something to their instrument without over shadowing the over members. Hanz Zimmerman is a good front man, proven here with the band playing brand new material from their upcoming Dub Egg and Zimmerman still managing to make every lyric and guitar lick seem as important as the last. If any Austin band deserves the national spotlight, The Young proved here that they do.


Ceremony had the best set of the night. Yes, in part it was because it was the band the entire audience had waited all night to see. Yes, this meant it was the band everyone went crazy for, so much so that the Beauty Ballroom shut down the second floor in fear of people jumping off it (a good call). More importantly though, Ceremony are just great live. Five years together they have everything down to a T. Despite all the chaos happening around them, the moshing, stage diving, almost fights almost happening, the band stayed a hurricane of a force through out their 30 minute set. Guitarists Ryan Mattos and Anthony Anzaldo played as if nothing could get in their way, playing more intensity then any band I've seen in a while. But truly, what made the show was front man Ross Farrar. The man is a caged animal released on stage, with a look so demented it looks like it was superimposed on. He stomped and stalked on stage, more manic than anything I've seen in a while. The intensity of that half-hour can not be understand. The dam broke down as seventy five punk rock fans went crazy, with Ceremony sound tracking the whole thing.

No Age

No Age's set was a painful thing to endure. In the literal sense in that the band's legacy for loudness is completely founded, and let my ears ringing well into the next day. But also in the sense that by the end the set the band was playing to a near empty venue. Whether this was due to the crowd just not liking No Age or the noise driving everyone out is hard to tell, but it still felt unfortunate that such an excellent band was being treated like they were just starting out. Whatever the case, it didn't seem to faze the duo, who happily blasted through a sizable chunk of their discography over their hour long set. Unfortunately, due in half to the sound system and half to the band themselves, the set list started to blur together over distortion and cymbal crashes. Still the greatness of the music itself made the set enjoyable enough, even if "Glitter" was blurred enough to sound like "Sleeper Hold".

Monday, June 11, 2012

Micachu & the Shapes-OK

Micachu was one of the first bands I ever blogged about. Her debut Jewellery was ever so mind blowing when I first heard it. A complete deconstruction and rearrangement of what a pop song could be, done with self-crafted instruments and an even more impressive self-crafted sound. Twitchy, off-kilter to a degree that didn't seem possible, and yet still strangely twee at its core as well as being extremely catchy. Then Micachu disappeared, only briefly emerging with a strange live album that the band recorded with an orchestra of sorts. I was worried that the original Micachu would never reemerge.

And to a degree that fear was confirmed with Micachu and the Shapes (her back band that's been with here pretty much since the beginning) releasing "OK" last week. It is a very dark track, pulsating and industrial, punctured occasionally even more mood setting deep sax blasts. "OK" is stripped of most, if not all the childish whimsy that seemed present through out Jewellery, instead replaced with a jaded form of maturity. Yet, at the same time, none of this feels forced or unnatural. Being an artist that prided herself on creating something different, if one had heard Micachu just replicating herself, it might have been greatly disappointing. Instead, Micachu and the Shapes have crafted something new (again), with all the lyrical wit and creativity well in tack.

(mp3) Micachu and the Shapes-OK


Micachu's Website
Pre-order NEVER (their new album) here, from Rough Trade Records

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cassette Review: Shivering Window-Inner-Exo

A long time ago there existed a band by the name of BYODeath. They were a fun shit-fi band that put out a speedy, six song ten minute cassette on Bridgetown Records that I enjoyed quite a bit. Then, as mysteriously as they had appeared, they vanished, never releasing more material again. However, that has changed with the emergence of Shivering Window and their debut Inner-Exo.

Shivering Window is the project of Matthew Gray, the former front man and mastermind of BYODeath. With his new moniker Gray has started crafting something even more minimalist and lo-fi than his last project, demos to a band that sounded like it was still making demos. Inner-Exo is mostly just Gray with his guitar, banging out fuzzed chords and distorted vocals to a giant, empty space. But even with their simplicity, Shivering Windows is able to add subtle substance to all of its songs. A sparse and distant drum machine helps to bring a small, industrial tone to all the songs, propelling them further than what their original structure could have allowed. The band also seems to have a small control over fuzz and harsh noise, which the band applies casually to something like opener "I Wanna Never Ever" to give it an even more distant and bleak quality to it.

All this in effect helps to highlight the eeriness of Shivering Window's music. From the cover art to the semi-abstract noise through out the album to the tittles like "Pretty Creepers" and "Blue House, Grey House, Yellow House, Red House" something is askew in the world of Shivering Windows. At times it feels like (if you can strain your ear hard enough to hear it) some commentary on suburban life, like a music version of a Twin Peaks episode. Still, despite how off everything is within Shivering Windows, there are still some excellent hooks and lo-fi gems to be found under all the muck and spook. And it's this balance, between eerie atmosphere and post Guided by Voices indie rock nuggets that makes Inner-Exo such a intriguing and perfect little cassette.

(mp3) Shivering Windows-Pretty Creepers
(mp3) Shivering Windows-Blue House, Grey House, Yellow House, Red House


Shivering Window's Soundcloud
Buy Inner-Exo here, from Juniper Tree Songs

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cassette Review: QUARTERBACKS-Loveseat

First off, a big thanks to Liz over at Secret Decoder for bringing my attention to QUARTERBACKS. I would not have discovered them without her post which would have been a crying shame for a band this catchy.

QUARTERBACKS (who are caps obsessed for some reason), play their own style of self-described "twee-punk". Take the wonderful and now gone caUSE-coMOTION! (another, ironically, caps obsessed band), substitute the tremble set at ten for reverb and jangle, and you have a good sense of what QUARTERBACKS shot out over their debut cassette Loveseat. It's snappy, speedy, and sparse songs all about love and the confusion it brings in a very idealistic sense. QUARTERBACKS bring an intelligence to what could be a cliche topic and sound though, thanks to front man Dean Engle manipulation of the songs. Because all of QUARTERBACKS' songs never even manage to cross the two minute mark, they all inherently have an urgency to them. With Engle's ability to cram more than twice the normal amount of lyrics and ideas into each one, they manage to be more fleshed out than demos, while still having the catchy, twee simpleness to them as well. It's a hard balance that the band manages to strike very well.

In another time (and if they had thicker accents), QUARTERBACKS would have released one 7" and forgotten until they would up on a Messthetics compilation. Instead they are well on their way to making something that is What's Your Rupture? worthy. If you can bounce from an opener as catchy as "Point Nine" to the frustration of "Simple Song" to the sweetness of "Last Boy", then QUARTERBACKS are well on their way to crafting indie pop magic.



Friday, June 1, 2012

Dan Deacon-Lots

Dan Deacon's maturing. I know people have been saying that since Bromst, but it seems more true than ever with "Lots", the first peek into what will be Deacon's new album America. But maturing is very different in the world of Dan Deacon. It will never mean Dan Deacon discarding his manic textures to his songs, somehow making spastic electronics be an eruption of joy. Instead it means Deacon has focused his songs more than ever before. "Lots" is less than three minutes, but instead of losing the sprawl of of his early work, Deacon manages to condense it all within that time frame, from the insane vocals to light speed electronic drums, and nothing feels lost. More so, it feels like Deacon is singing not only real lyrics, but something important. Even though you can't understand what it is, it still pushes "Lots" higher within own Deacon's discography, and shows how Deacon can manage evolution in his own elegant and crazy way.

(mp3) Dan Deacon-Lots


Dan Deacon's Website
Pre-order America here, from Domino Records