Pavement reunion done and dusted, Stephen Malkmus and Co. get back to making adult indie rock on album number five.
...says Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug of his solo off-shoot project Moonface. Not as good as we'd hoped, either.
From the label that gave you The Libertines and The Strokes, here's another young and disaffected indie guitar band.
Chicago's Fruit Bats return to their familiar "effortless and sweet" indie folk ways on their fifth album, Tripper.
As 2011 continues to reveal an abundance of new artists and great music, it's of no surprise that one of the more anticipated debut albums was that of 28-year-old Atlanta based songwriter and producer Ernest Greene, AKA Washed Out. Full of blissful harmonies and gently shifting arrangements, augmented with hip-hop beats and samples, Within And Without quickly became the preferred summer spin at Webcuts. Static's Chris Berkley recently caught up with Ernest to talk about all things Within And Without -- recording the album, the process behind it, and amongst other things, 10CC's "I'm Not In Love" and the 'raunchy' cover art.
First solo release from Rogue Wave's Zach Rogue under his new moniker, Release The Sunbird. For those who like their rock wimpy.
Join Us finds They Might Be Giants at their "quirkiest, catchiest and most clever", which is simply music to our old-school fan ears.
Louisiana's Generationals Actor-Caster is a "treasure trove of indie pop rock songs". That's exactly the kind of booty we like around here.
Cold Cave's debut album of 2009 Love Comes Close was a unique display of synth-oriented mood disorder, venturing out from the bedroom to the dancefloor, filled with idealistic tales of romance and disillusionment. Band leader Wes Eisold’s spin on the world appeared to share a voice (in both dour baritone and content) with Magnetic Fields Stephin Merritt, if he'd spent his adolescence listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode instead of showtunes. On their second album, Eisold moved beyond the testing of the waters that was Love Comes Close and turned its successor, Cherish The Light Years into his dark dream made manifold.
One half of the hyper-productive quirk-pop outfit Fiery Furnaces takes her first solo steps on Last Summer.
Washed Out's debut album couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time. The water's just right for a little chillwave.
Album number six for these free-wheeling long-haired holdin' on to black metal giants of Southern Rock.
Can Bon Iver live up to expectation with his self-titled follow-up to the celebrated For Emma, Forever Ago?
There are some records that forever remain at the bottom of the review pile, and boy do Smith Westerns make us regret it.
Having to write a live review on the fly, almost two weeks after it happened, from notes hastily scribbled, while packing to go to a festival will show us this is not the way to be. There's no time to go into great detail, to labour the point, to draw comparisons between George Lewis Jr's physical appearance (a little bit Prince, a little bit Morrissey), or the sound (a little bit Prince, a little bit Morrissey, albeit on a synth-sprung landscape). Twin Shadow, at least from this writer's perspective, has adequately filled the gap that LCD Soundsystem left by their absence, in making music that moves and is moving, that is confident without being arrogant, and is just too perfect for words.
An act that many have been holding their breath for the return of for as long as they've been absent from the stage are Haledon, New Jersey's The Feelies. Arriving in the late 70's, and releasing one of the first great new wave/post-punk albums of the early 80's (truly. no hyperbole here) in Crazy Rhythms, The Feelies were the Velvet Underground and Television's geeky Jersey cousins. An enthralling percussive ride, full of jerky rhythms and wild, melodic guitar interplay, the sound of The Feelies would evolve over the years, drifitng away from the arty CBGB crowd toward a more refined pastoral 'college rock' sound that typified an era when bands like R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven loomed large.
It's been said by Webcuts in the past that Destroyer's Dan Bejar is the Woody Allen of pop music. His idiosyncratic, poetic touch is less that of a lyricist but a storyteller with a revolving cast of characters (mostly women), and picking up on the ripples and waves they create to make them a part of his own interior monologue. An essential eighth of the mighty New Pornographers, Bejar has been recording as Destroyer since the 90's. Kaputt, his ninth album is a sumptious, rhapsodic slice of 80's melodrama, immersing itself entirely in the era from the vintage instrumentation to Bejar's own penchance for seeking the sublime out of what some might find the ridiculous.
Can goth new-wavers Cold Cave come close to the lo-fi synth-brilliance of their debut Love Comes Close? Now, that's the question.
With each successive show played in London growing in size from venue to venue, it’s a clear indication of the steady rise of this beloved Atlanta four-piece, and with Shepherd’s Bush Empire being sold out, it's their largest capacity UK headline show to date. For the ardent, precious fan, Deerhunter aren't your band anymore. The era of slipping into town for a small club tour is over, but from the staid, somewhat bemused crowd, Deerhunter's roaming psychedelic-shoegaze and mutant folk-pop are still an acquired taste, one that’s seemingly unlikely to assail the upper reaches of the charts like label-mates, The National.
"I don't wanna work/but I don't wanna sit around/all day frowning". Kurt Vile, you speak to us in a way few artists ever do. You can stay.
Thumbs down for the skinny ties and tight jeans brigade on their fourth go-round. Surely it can't be worse than First Impressions Of Earth?
With appearances from Peaches and Patti Smith, R.E.M. show no signs of wear and tear in their fourth decade of making music.
Dial back to the summer of 2010 having spent the afternoon hanging out with electro-be-spectacle Amanda Warner aka MNDR, we get a tweet from her inviting us to come down to Camp Basement in Old Street to watch synth experimentalists Silk Flowers, a Brooklyn three-piece that she’d recently produced an album for. Standing facing each other in a semi-circle surrounded by banks of synths, the band were undoubtedly not of this planet, but one Krautrock based in nature, appearing wholly entranced in their own music which veered from instrumental collages to deadpan delivered pop.
Dynamite Steps the new album from Greg Dulli's The Twilight Singers is an extraordinarily cohesive album in every aspect: from production to the vocals, the masterful songwriting to the clever sequencing. Grunge guitar workouts give way to piano balladry, shoegaze meets folk and punchy rock. These are all anchored by that remarkable voice which ranges from ragged roar to velvety tenor to strained falsetto singing of love, libido, mortality and the devil. A couple of weeks before the release we spoke with Greg, a man who has seen more than his share of highs and lows in his twenty odd year career, clearly relaxed and affable, about all things dynamite and twilight, from the gutter to the (guest) stars.
Providence, Rhode Island indie-folksters The Low Anthem fail to im-press the smart flesh on their sophomore release.
The Decemberists discard the costumes and dispense with the theatre slipping into more familiar musical threads on album number 6.
Sometimes a mood, feeling or memory can be condensed into a single album or song. It can be due to overexposure to that certain piece of music at the time of a memory being made, like, let's say, Christmas, or it can be the result of new music that already sounds familiar hitting on certain emotional chords, no pun intended. And new music that feels old, strange tunes that feel like a lifelong pal, is not necessarily an indictment of inherent quality, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. So goes with The Volcano Diary, a very new band that feels like they've been making music for decades.
Astute music fans have probably heard of the genre chillwave – a blend of 80s synths, psychedelic pop and liberal amounts of distortion – put upon acts like Memory Tapes, Toro Y Moi and Nite Jewel. The band most closely associated with that word is Neon Indian whose main man Alan Palomo, who also has a solo project VEGA, had a chat to Chris Berkley recently in London about the c-word, the beginnings of Psychic Chasms, the Yacht remix, his collaborations with Australian dance merchants Miami Horror, how he loves to make music that messes with people’s heads and the forthcoming Australian tour for the Texan group.
Picture the scene... in a dark Minneapolis jazz club, three anonymous musicians take the stage. The usual rituals of tuning and testing, smiling and carrying on, and then the lead singer steps up to the microphone. It only takes a few songs to appreciate the underestimated prowess of the band; the churning bass, the precision in the drumming, and a fiesty singer whose melancholy adroitness shines through her toned-down Joplin-esque voice and ferocious, half-prostrated guitar solos. This is Holly Newsom and Zoo Animal, a band marked by a soulful yet minimal electrofolk sound and introspective, sometimes spiritual lyrics.
Latching hold of our ears earlier in the year with their double EP release Colour Your Life/Vampires With Dreaming Kids, Long Island’s Twin Sister had secured a place on our date card long before their they announced their first UK tour. Sneaking across the pond in October, we’d caught the band supporting rising stars, The Morning Benders at the Music Box in Los Angeles (apologies boys, I owe you one live review) and were suitably impressed. Jaded beyond jaded as the years drag on and the revolving floorshow of new bands yawn in our faces with old ideas, it was refreshing to witness a band breathe colour and life into their music.
It's hard to believe that he's been gone 7 years now. This collection attempts to define one of last great songwriters of the 20th Century.
The Bangles chart-conquering Different Light and their slighty less impressive debut album get the reissue treatment.
Even with the worldwide chart-smash of "Bang Bang Bang" under her belt as part of Mark Ronson's Business International, Amanda Warner aka MNDR is still something of an underground unknown to the general populace. Having spent the last 10 years making music with psychedelic oddities Triangle, or more recently as MNDR, it's been a non-stop battle that's about to pay off for this Fargo, North Dakota farm girl. With the media baggage ascribed Ronson in the UK from to his work with Amy Winehouse and his own Versions album, MNDR's French-slinging co-write on "Bang Bang Bang" arrived at the right time for everybody to sit up and take notice.
Jonneine Zapata's Cast the Demons Out came out of nowhere and managed to do what it said on the tin. And all indications were that live was where she excelled. Comparisons were bandied around from PJ Harvey and Patti Smith for there strong vocal ranges to Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger for their bold sexual stage presence. Apart from the smoldering mic stand gripping, her onstage persona also alternates between standing still with an ice cold stare, holding her arms aloft swaying like an eagle, and my favourite, lurching around the stage like a drunken marionette. Unsettling? Maybe but never boring.
"a polished genre grab bag record of mostly stale, completely innocuous songs". Kings of Leon - Win!
Just how many albums are Weezer going to release (or re-release) this year? What's one more for Christmas?
No Age push the 'mature album' button while still managing to shred and transcend on their third release.
California girls. Beach Boys praised them, Katy Perry revived them, but Los Angeles' Dum Dum Girls are the kind of girls that either Brian Wilson or Katy Perry had in mind. Palm trees, bikinis and suntans aren’t their domain, in fact, it would be surprising if daylight ever graced their chalk-white skin, looking as they do Josie and The Pussycats meets Tim Burton. Making a return visit to London in the newly opened (and un-divey) East London venue XOYO, Dum Dum Girls are Dee Dee. The all-girl band she's assembled acts as both an extension of her psyche, and a mirror to how she dresses.
Consider The Capitalist Youth, a trio of former high school classmates who play “acoustic indie rock combining a living room full of misfit instruments with lyrically driven songs about summer camp, existential crises and gubernatorial indiscretions”. They don’t write and play the kind of music that will leave listeners dumbstruck over their redefinition of a genre, but they’re able to adeptly inject something into their music that only a handful of others have done well: humanity, with a laid back sense of humor, and without any of the awkward pauses that come from other bands who get lucky on a song or two and can’t maintain things the rest of the way.
Totally random, but a friend of mine once got "Chief" tattooed on the back of her neck and the tattoo guy spelt it wrong. There is no metaphor to be found here.
From the first syllables sung by Jonneine Zapata on her debut album Cast the Demons Out, on an intro which segues into the simmering let's-get-it-on pop of "Good Looking", the LA siren had us hooked. Before the record made its way into the world Zapata was best known as a concert draw, gaining rave reviews in the US and catching the attention of Mark Lanegan and Jack White who had Zapata and band support Soulsavers and The Raconteurs respectively. We attempted to get some background ahead of her first Australian tour. While that was accomplished we also learnt that apart from an amazing voice and song writing chops Zapata has a wicked sense of humour.
The stakes are high on Deerhunter's 4th album. Can they beat Webcuts album of the year 2008, their own magnificent Microcastle?
The Lights are on but the tunes aren't home on Interpol's disappointing fourth otherwise known as #4.
Janus 4-14's tag is 'indie pop that won't make you cringe', but they fail to recognise that statement itself is cringeworthy. Despite being presumptious of their own sound, Janus 4-14 do make for great music. They exist in a time that some would regard as the golden age of music, that mid-90's alternative scene when American bands owned their airwaves. They took their influences from the UK, as well as their own country, and put together something that sounded like The Ramones meets The Buzzcocks, that in itself was almost a new breed of rock n' roll -- fast or slow, these were raging guitar-driven, melody-led slices of imperfect perfection.
How many times do you get given a record and for it to feel like a breath of fresh air? Here you are then.
The cross overs. Every year has them; bands that get touched by the hand of hype and go from being blogged about to actually selling significant quantities of records/MP3s along with world wide tour schedules and high billed festival slots. This year one of those bands is Brooklyn’s The Drums who have certainly enjoyed a lot of column pixels and radio play on the strength of their back to basics c86 indie-pop as imagined by Phil Spector self titled debut album and its omnipresent lead single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Static’s Chris Berkley has a drink with three quarters of the band for a lesson in how to avoid being drowned by the waves of success.
Brooklyn's Suckers channel a little ADHD indie rock throughout their debut album, defying hype and maintaining interest.
How Webcuts first encountered Knoxville, Tennessee's Coolrunnings could be best described as a lucky accident. And it's no surprise that the best way to get someone's attention is to slap a photo of some naked chicks skateboarding on the cover of your EP and let them sell it for you. The appropriately titled (and NSFW) Babes Forever was clearly the product of talented and warped minds. The creepy, schizoid mayhem of "Trippin' Balls at Der Wienerschnitzel" and the inspired, almost unabashed, synth-pop of "When I Got High With You" sounded like they were made by some slacker Bill & Teds who'd already embarked on their own excellent adventure.
It’s shows like this which give birth to the very nature of rock and roll. The hip-swaying sounds of a band as they rock back and forth, eyes closed, mouths pressed against the microphone with their feet marking the beat. It’s an undeniably sexual thing. This isn't news. It’s why they tried to ban Elvis in the 50’s. He turned young girls on, and it wasn’t so much the man, but the music, the stage, the sweat, the motion -- the rock and roll of it all. Wedged together in this barely ventilated Old Street basement, Los Angeles' Warpaint are presiding over something that had this been the 50's, would've gotten them banned too.
All killer, no filler, Joe Pernice and Co. turn up the volume and turn in one of their most enjoyable records to date.