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.
Posts Tagged ‘US’
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.
“Take my hand and pray with me”, and how we’ve prayed, patiently awaiting the arrival of Deerhunter’s 4th album Halcyon Digest. For the dimly remembering, the monumental Microcastle was Webcuts album of the year for 2008, and expections have already been set. “Helicopter” is the second track to be previewed from the album and it’s a loop-based, plink-plonk synth-led Deerhunter meets The Littlest Mermaid undersea adventure with Bradford Cox revisiting his usual themes of isolation and escapism, and well you know the rest, drugs and paranoia. Unlike those ‘slacker’ bands out there like Wavves and Best Coast who talk about getting stoned and making music, Deerhunter is the real fuck-with-your-head deal. The collage of visuals for the clip (Deerhunter’s first ever video) is unsurprising for them, but there’s something about “Helicopter” that feels like it will have its greatest effect while being paranoid, trapped, and on drugs.
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.
Sounding like a counter-revolutionary, singer-songwriter Jonneine Zapata’s task at hand is presciently hinted at in the title.
We didn’t review Ted Leo & The Pharmacists recent album The Brutalist Bricks, because frankly, the music speaks for itself. Trying to find 450-odd words to adequately sell Mr. Leo’s blood, sweat, and tears would be doing the man and his music an enormous injustice. You won’t see his music used on commercials, you won’t see him selling his soul on a magazine cover for a few more units sold. A punk rocker with a pure heart, Leo and The Pharmacists have always done it (for better or worse) their way, and you have to respect that… and buy their records. Man’s gotta eat, y’dig (read more about that here — http://www.tedleo.com/2010/07/07/regarding-the-rumors-of-retirement/). “Bottled In Cork”, one of the finer moments on The Brutalist Bricks, shows Leo throwing out enough hooks to make Cheap Trick envious and indulging in a little old fashioned fun, theatre style. I swear if he brought that show to London, I’d go see it.
Named after the town they’re from, Memphis has “some great songs, some brilliant moments”, but not quite all adding up to Magic, Kids.
During their recent visit to Australia for Splendour in the Grass we caught up with LCD Soundsystem’s main man James Murphy who gave us reason to put away the hankies for LCD’s much reported demise – “It’s not necessarily the last record. I would make another record. It’s more the end of this part – three records that go together, an arc. We became a bigger band than I ever expected. Something needs to stop, for me, for us all to be happy.” He also waxes lyrical about making the record in the LA of his imagination, growing up and wanting kids, his Greenburg soundtrack experience and his many and varied future projects.
Releasing their soundtrack to 13 of Andy Warhol’s screen tests was an opportune moment for ex-Galaxie 500/Luna star Dean Wareham to fully express his love for Velvet Underground and the stars of Andy Warhol’s Factory. The screen tests alone, wavering between the visually arresting and the arrestingly mundane, were elevated into a new realm with the musical accompaniment provided by Wareham and partner Britta Phillips. Bringing the 13 Most Beautiful show to London (having frustratingly been given its UK premiere in Dunfermline last year) was a long-anticipated occasion.
A few nights before this Pixies warm up concert for Splendour in the Grass, I had a vivid dream. In it I was the tour manager or press officer for the band and they were being put up in a luxury hotel with a huge swimming pool which they were swanning around in and (in)famously not getting along and refusing to do the show. It ended with me giving them a “look all the great rock’n’roll bands are dysfunctional, but when you’re on stage for that hour and a half you come together, that’s when you work, that’s when you function!” speech. And then I drove them to the Zoo in a black hummer.
“Give me a minute and I’ll blow your minds“. The crowd laughs, so does the man who just uttered those words. The mood, somewhat quiet, respectful, shiftless, is lightened, and Mark Kozelek begins another master-class in tinkling the nylon strings of his Spanish guitar like Liberace would the piano. “I’m old” he breaks the silence again, “I’m fat, I need water, I need lyrics to my songs”. From my pew to the right side of the stage I have to squint to see if it’s not Neil Young sitting there complaining about his arthritis. To Kozelek’s credit, he’s still as ageless as ever, and that gut you were grabbing at? I’m pretty sure you’ve been carrying that for a while now.
Last seen by Webcuts at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona tearing up the stage like street kids on a candy high, North Carolina’s Superchunk took great delight in reminding the assembled why they were of the last great alternative bands of the 90’s still standing. Having been somewhat quiet since 2001’s ironically titled Here’s To Shutting Up, Superchunk have a brand new album on the way, the epically titled Majesty Shredding released on September 14 (US) and October 4 (UK). The band’s website says the album is “neither a return nor a departure…” and that just tells you everything you need to know — exhuberant, melodic, intense and in your face (and that’s just the slow songs) Majesty Shredding could well be their greatest hour (or 41 minutes). While we wait for October to roll round, sit back and relax as the band peel out on a cover of The Cure’s “Inbetween Days” recorded especially for the AV Club.
From “Exile In Guyville” to exiled in general. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Liz Phair. In fact you could say things have been downright un-Phair.
When does standing in the front row give you a direct line to god? Just because your idol, or current object of interest, is able to look you in the eye while they’re singing doesn’t mean that this is your opportunity for some face-to-face “let’s get to know each other” time. Really, it doesn’t. And it’s rare that a concert is marred by one asshole that doesn’t get the hint and won’t shut up, but shit does happen, and it happened to Kaki King and to the respectful crowd who had to endure this one “fan” and his relentless pursuit in establishing a “connection”.
For the first few seconds you’d swear this is Morrissey’s “The First Of The Gang To Die”, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to associate that solitary opening chord with the work of one Joe Pernice. As far as recordings go, Joe hasn’t quite done a Colin Meloy, but he has authored a 33 1/3 series book, of his quasi-fictional adolescent experiences with The Smith’s Meat Is Murder. This is not as sordid as it may sound. Rest assured, “Jacqueline Susann” has nothing to do with Morrissey or The Smiths. It’s just a quick 2 minute 30 second rev (screeching guitars as screeching tyres, no less) of the Pernice Brothers’ engine to reintroduce the band into our lives once again. Taken from their latest album, Goodbye, Killer the video clip for “Jacqueline Susann” is an obvious joy to behold. I say this sarcastically of course. You pay peanuts, you get 3 minutes of a guy riding a bicycle.
There are people who write for this website who weren’t even born when Devo last made a record. This is not for them.
More emotional missives from angry, intense, young American men. What steady diet do they feed you on?
Oh, summery shimmery albums. Why must you hook us so? Berkeley, CA’s, The Morning Benders serve up a treat.
Fifth album from these Floridian punkers. File under “anarchy, unfulfillment and frustration”.
“This is dance music that’s worth thinking about – or, more accurately, thoughtful music that’s worth dancing to”. Agreed.
A thematic collection of stripped down tracks from Suzanne Vega’s songbook, beginning with the love song.
Sounding more like a theme park ride than a band, Ariel Pink pulls off both with a little 70’s funk and 80’s new wave self-exploration.
Spoon‘s latest album, Transference, seemed to show the band finding new ways to tie their own shoelaces, searching out their own “Mystery Zone” or what Britt Daniel will later say in the interview “we gotta try to please ourselves first”. Notable for being our first interview where the band asks us the questions, Spoon have perhaps realised there’s more to making music than pleasing yourself. You’ve still got to please your Mom too…
Heaven is here, and if the album is half as great as this review, then The Hold Steady should be counting their lucky stars.
Riding high on the charts, The National have found a resounding voice where “High Violet’s loneliest, weightiest moments feel like shared sorrow.”
The sophomore, major label release from Harlem, entitled Hippies was something of a contentious issue at Webcuts. The first time in the history of this site where a reviewer was told to go back and try again, having criticised Harlem for their lack of lyrical imagination and school band simplicity (“those who don’t sicken quickly of energetic, repetitive three-chord rock will have a lot to love”) — which is really the reason to embrace them. Its lo-fi, hi-charm garage rock. For those who take their music seriously (yawn, The National) “Gay Human Bones” is not going to appeal to your innate sense of singalong fun. With lyrics like the earnest honesty of “someday soon you’ll be on fire/and you’ll ask me for a glass of water/and I say, no, you can just let that shit burn” from Hippies album track “Someday Soon” show that the best songs dispense with any artistic melodrama and quickly cut to the chase. Iminently touring Europe, Webcuts will be catching up with Harlem next month, but for now, savour the flavour of “Gay Human Bones”. Hippies is out now on Matador Records.
More depressing pop dressed up espionage style on the fifth album from this diminutive guitar goddess. “Junior”, indeed.
Former Everything But The Girl frontwoman aptly wrestles with life after 40. “…not all fun and games, but a pleasure regardless”.
New York has definitely handed over its crown as being home to earthshaking epicentre of what’s hot, hip, and happening. These days all eyes are firmly focused on the eclectic sounds of the West Coast — as it seems that every single band we talk right now calls the place home. With Katy Perry (of all people) singing the praises of California Girls, just like the Beach Boys did in the 60’s, so are we with Los Angeles’ Dum Dum Girls.
Ragged fist-pumping fury from outta New Jersey. Named after one of Shakespeare’s earliest tragedies. Fact.
Of Harlem, this brief explanation should suffice — “those who don’t sicken quickly of energetic, repetitive three-chord rock will have a lot to love”.
Visual document of The White Stripes Canadian invasion of 2007. No Seven Nation Army required.
“You must be the most attentive audience, ever” joked Chris Thile, during his performance at LA’s gem Largo at the Coronet, “It’s not often that you can hear the performer’s water bottle snap back into place.” And it was true — in this intimate setting of about 75 people (including fan Minnie Driver), Mr. Thile was the center of everyone’s attention. There was no heckling or chatter between songs, just enthusiastic, almost rapturous applause for this mandolin virtuoso.
The last album ever for LCD Soundsystem? Say it isn’t so! From the band that brought Daft Punk round to your house and told the music snobs of the world that we were losing our edge, comes the frenzied disco chant of “Drunk Girls”. Webcuts was a fan of the song long before we’d even heard of it, in fact a great portion of readers of this esteemed site are indeed “drunk girls”, so it would be insincere of us not to see this track as some kind of celebratory anthem. So give it up for the drunk girls of the world, give it up for LCD Soundsystem and give it up for Spring. It’s drinking weather. Get outdoors, grab some friends, dress up like pandas on pcp and raise some hell. LCD Soundsystem have provided you with the soundtrack, you just have to do the rest. This Is Happening is released on May 18 via Parlophone records. You can listen to the album at
http://lcdsoundsystem.com/thisishappening. You can listen to drunk girls almost everywhere.
Finding unexpected notoriety through their collaboration with electronic arsonists Crystal Castles, Los Angeles Noise Rock quartet HEALTH have been a prominent musical force in the LA scene over the past couple of years. With their second album Get Colour released late last year, the band have evolved beyond being nihilistic noise makers into an act that is pushing the textural accessibility switch.
No hard hits from San Diego’s The Soft Pack, just bland indie rock with some scant memorable moments.
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, a perfect pop couple if there ever were one, are back for a second helping of doo-wop and pop.
The anticipated follow-up to the fan and critic fave Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, fails to meet expectation, begging the question, ‘Where were Spoon transferring to?’.
In certain circles, Webcuts’ love for Ted Leo is almost as legendary as the man himself, and with the restraining order now expired, it’s game on motherfucker! Having made music now for close to two decades with punk-pop heroes Chisel, and for the last decade as Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Ted Leo epitomises the phrase “he bleeds for his art”, but mostly Ted just sweats for it. He was also the man who once graciously performed his cover of Split Enz’s “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” to console a certain Webcuts scribe who was in Paris to part company with a vivacious young German dissident. Ah, memories… Recently signed to Matador Records, Ted went into the studio last year to record his follow-up to 2007’s Living with the Living curiously entitled The Brutalist Bricks. Louder and angrier than ever (with a love song included to boot), The Brutalist Bricks finds Ted and the Pharmacists in fiery form. We’ll endeavour to catch up with the man in person when he tours Europe next month but for now you can watch the band perform a track we gave away as a free download last month with the 2 minute 45 second snarl of “The Mighty Sparrow”.
“Listening again to everything The Hold Steady recorded. Is this the greatest American band now? They just got me through a rough month.” Bret Easton Ellis, Twitter Nov 2009. Lauded by fans, critics and other creative minds for the scope, depth, truth and heart that they bring to chronicling the American rock myth, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady hold court to discuss (via impersonal record label Q&A) their forthcoming blue collar opus Heaven is Whenever, due for release on May 3.
With a new sound and approach on display, Yeasayer have in their hands a contender for album of the year with Odd Blood. Yes, we know it’s only March.
The smell of reunion is in the air as Pavement’s back catalogue is harvested for the new-comers in this career-spanning collection.
A firm favourite last year with those of a pop persuasion was the debut album of Brooklyn four-piece, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. An example of youthful exuberance and melodic indulgences, The Pains (is it ok to call them that?) were as easy to swallow as a chocolate sundae with all the toppings — and just as addictive and in no way fattening. Recently on tour in Australia, we spoke with guitarist Kip Berman.