From her isolated upbringing in rural Wisconsin, combined with a passion for opera, philosophy and industrial music, Nika Rosa Danilova aka Zola Jesus has created a name for herself as being a successor to the great Diamanda Galas and Lisa Gerrard with her haunting, otherworldly vocal style. Over the past three years Danilova has reached
Homeless Records, 2011 [rating:5.5/10] To call Layabouts chest-beating/car-loving/girl-banging rock n' roll as being derivative is to say rock n’ roll is derivative of rock n’ roll. If you stay true to the message, the music you make is un-fuck-with-able. Spain’s Layabouts make the kind of music that only Europeans are capable of -- the totally
London, Paris, Condale, Munich. Everybody's talking about Summer Camp's pop music. Well, not everybody. But they should.
Sizzling psyche-pop debut from San Francisco three-piece Wet Illustrated. A little Feelies, a little Sonic Youth.
It's October. Why are we reviewing Christmas albums in October? Why She & Him? Why?
Wilco -- "They’ve solidified themselves as the greatest American band playing today, possibly of all time".
HTRK The Garage, London October 24, 2011 HTRK have always been a difficult band to love. Once you got used to their narco-minimalism and faceless anonymity that pervaded their artwork, you realised they weren't a band seeking attention, merely like-minded souls to tumble down their rabbit hole. They weren't looking for you, you were looking
Folk bands are slowly going the way of the emo bands -- cookie-cutter, predictable, uninspired, and inevitably becoming a parody of themselves because music is a business and the market dictates that consumers will always want more of what's popular. The Beggar Folk fall nicely into the afore-mentioned folk music genre, however their music doesn't seem to follow suit with the folk status quo. These are ballads and hymns, carved from trees and molded from soil. This music demands your attention and effortlessly passes any authenticity tests. It conjures up what real Americana and country music should conjure.
Work (Work, Work) is the sound of HTRK collecting themselves after tragedy and loss. A difficult time creates a difficult album.
San Francisco's Girls self-titled debut of 2009 garnered widespread acclaim based on its fancy-free and free-love attitude that offered irresistible pop gems bathed in x-rated video clips ("Lust for Life" anyone?). Sex and pop, what more do you want out of music these days? For their sophomore album Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the Girls duo of Christopher Owen and Chet "JR" White have upped the songwriter stakes to put together an album that's impressive straight out of the blocks. Static's Chris Berkley spoke with Girl's JR over the phone in the midst of a very suspect (if you're to believe what he says) video shoot.
Sweet jangle pop outta New Jersey and more than likely the only Real Estate we'll ever purchase... (sad but true).
A couple of songs into Lydia Loveless’s evening set, and it’s difficult to tell where Lydia the singer ends and Lydia the person begins. It’s simply hard to imagine a woman like this, barely in her twenties, and standing a little over five foot tall in her boots, could be so worldly and explosive. And yet, there she is, muttering a string of f-bombs during a song break because she can’t get her guitar tuned quite right. The attitude, the weathered, sarcastic smile. The edge. That’s pretty damn tough to fake.
Could it be true that the end of a beloved and highly regarded band came down to a simple “a funny thing happened while putting together our career retrospective”? How many bands, when faced with a monumental back catalogue of music and memories, reach the realisation that they have achieved all, and a hell of
Blitzen Trapper brings to mind somebody hunting down reindeer. This has nothing to do with the music.
Ex-Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy returns with his first new solo album in 7 years, proving that there's still life in the old goth.
Minneapolis folk duo Peter Wolf Crier mix things up on their sophomore album with mixed results.
When it comes to the mythical it-factor, New York's The Rassle by their own admission are “just rock and roll”. They understand that thousands of people have been there, done that. They're here to enjoy whatever the moment is right now, and it feels pretty damn great. Listen to The Rassle's first single, “Wild Ones” and you'll hear what they're talking about. It's a sound that's been done before. A little synthy, a little danceable. But by the time that kick drum chorus comes bellowing forward, it doesn't matter. You're bobbing your head like this is the first time you've heard indie rock before. It's fantastic.
Reissue! Repackage! Warpaint's mesmerising debut gets a little dressing up as we wait for album #2.
Dum Dum Girls add an extra coat of polish and put on a brave garage-pop face for album number 2.
On the surface, it’s a normal, sold-out show on a Friday night just north of downtown Cleveland. The fans stretch around the corner from the front door; ticket holders excited for the They Might Be Giants concert they’re about to see, and those without tickets hoping to catch a break when they get to the box office. But this is not a normal show, and this is not a normal audience. These are the geeks. The nerds. Die hard rock fans of a different shade of crazy, waiting for their musical heroes to serenade them with catchy pop songs tinged with dark humor and insightful counter-culture references.
Quietly released last year was the first proper solo album by Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. A touching tribute to her sister, who in Sadier's words "went on a million year trip/and left everthing behind", The Trip saw Sadier step out from the shadow of Stereolab to make a very revealing album, not only in the way she dealt with her loss, but in how she paid tribute to artists that influenced and inspired her. An album that sparkled in its minimalist approach, The Trip showed a side of Sadier unseen, one that was filled with warmth and emotion, and those little philosophical quirks that you've come to expect.
Energetic indie-rock from LA's Grouplove but watch out for "the boring half of the record". Whoops.
With their debut album If It Carries On Like This We're Moving to Morecombe, London post-rock quartet The Fierce & The Dead left an indelible impression at Webcuts HQ. It was an album that defied categorisation and challenged perceptions of the post-rock genre, not only from the exceptionally long-winded and unselfconscious title, but in the way it fused elements of post-rock with hardcore, ambient soundscapes and jazz/funk experimentation. It was as if The Fierce & The Dead wanted to sound like all bands, and none, which intrigued us enough to want to find out more.
Obscurities he called it, but more like a forgotten treasure trove from all chapters of the Stephin Merritt songbook.
Having changed careers mid-stream from a piano-based singer-songwriter with a touch of the Regina Spectors to a Nico-esque bleach-blonde gothic siren, in Austra Katie Stelmanis has found the form to match the function. With a handful of impressive singles released either side of their Kate Bush meets Nine Inch Nails debut album Feel It Break, Stelmanis may have found her creative niche but she still has much to prove. On record, Austra cloak themselves in a throbbing monochrome blanket, but on stage their live show is more telling, more vibrant and commanding, as Stelmanis, flanked by a pair of interpretive dancers/backing vocalists, add any absent colour.
Cherry Red, 2011 [rating:5/10] While the other three members forged on with nary a breath to contemplate what lay behind them, it took the ex-Bauhaus frontman 3 long years to record his first solo album. Here Murphy’s path was a more cautious one, making tentative steps with ex-Japan bassist Mick Karn for their unspectacular avant
With our review dispensing superlatives like "timeless" and "classic", Beirut's The Rip Tide is one of the must-listen albums of 2011.
Very unsure about this album, the sixth from past Webcuts pet faves, Okkervil River. I Am Very Far from their best.
Epic post-rock from The Fierce & The Dead on their debut album. Seek it out, post-rock fans.
Was there really once a musical sub-genre called 'Shitgaze'? I mean, somebody actually sat around, coined that term and then hoisted it on a few unsuspecting bands who by fate or ill-fortune found themselves trapped under its audiophile repelling umbrella? Think about it, shitgaze. Would you buy into that? Thankfully it's only a memory, but some of those bands still remain, including Columbus, Ohio's Times New Viking. On the eve of their first Australian tour Chris Berkley of Static spoke to Jared and Adam of Times New Viking, fresh off the plane to promote their most recent album, the discordant but progressively tuneful, Dancer Equired.
You have to question the motives behind a band who put a picture of two gurning band members on the front cover of their debut 7", or when asking the record company for a promo photo being offered 'the one where they're all dressed up in drag', or 'the one where they're chewing grass' (we passed on both). Sheffield's Seize The Chair have the air of a band who clearly and delightfully just don't give a fuck. In fact they probably just want to make music and have a laugh. Which, if you've seen that record sleeve, you'll be laughing too.
Pavement reunion done and dusted, Stephen Malkmus and Co. get back to making adult indie rock on album number five.
Canadian folk-sters Dark Mean deliver a "must-listen album with staying power, and one of the year’s best" on their self-released debut.
For the last three years the Too Pure Singles Club has been releasing monthly 7" singles to subscribers featuring a selection of rising UK and international alternative acts, many of whom are unknown outside their own country (their own town even). The appeal of a singles club is more than just a piece of vinyl every month by a band you're unlikely to have ever heard of. Actually, that is the appeal. Hit or miss as they can be, you never know which one of these limited run singles will turn out to be your next favourite band.
...says Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug of his solo off-shoot project Moonface. Not as good as we'd hoped, either.
Welcome to the lilting shoegaze world of Swedish duo I Break Horses, "more than just a nostalgic pastiche of an ethereal past".
Putting aside Lightspeed Champion, the chameleon musician/producer known as Dev Hynes unveils his latest project Blood Orange.
Concept albums, rock operas, the artistic chasm of failure widens as Fucked Up take the challenge and make the album of their career.
Never in the history of doing these 'Who The Hell Are... ?' spotlights has a band come along and answered each question so thoroughly and excitedly that to praise them any further would make it seem like we're actually in this band or take bribes (we do. email for details). From the same stable of acts (and household one would presume) that brought you the percussive pop concussions of We//Are//Animal and the not-very-French-at-all Masters In France, come spicy indie rock quartet Fennel Seeds. Further proof that North Wales these days is a happening place or one that naught much else happens.
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.
Behind every great album is more often than not, an even greater story waiting to be told. The pursuit for higher understanding of artists and their most influential pieces of work and how the two came to pass has long been the ultimate goal of the ardent music fan who thrives on having every recorded nuance and historical detail mapped out like a combined atlas and encyclopedia of the human body. One of the more indispensible series of music books published that actually does, more or less, what is expected above, has been Continuum's 33 1/3. With the recent addition of The Rolling Stones Some Girls, Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me and Television's Marquee Moon to their honour roll, 33 1/3 show no sign of scraping the bargain bin anytime soon.
First solo release from Rogue Wave's Zach Rogue under his new moniker, Release The Sunbird. For those who like their rock wimpy.
Introducing KIDCITY. Two people, One word, uppercase for menacing effect. But really, aren't they just too cute for words? Which is apt, seeing as the music that these two Canadian 21-year-olds make is more like haunted voices leaking from an overloaded digital landscape. "Somewhere between Enya and Dr. Dre", someone said. Sure, why not. It might be simple enough to place them within the geographical radius of another glitchy electronic duo, Crystal Castles, but Kelly Ann's vocals soothe, rather than antagonise, as the cracked beats and blistered frequencies dial up the intensity. Significantly impressed, we had no choice but to ask 'Who the hell are... KIDCITY?"
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.
Ex-New Zealander's Unnecessarily Long Band Name evoke retro 60's thrills on their self-titled debut.
Electro-dance-goth-opera by way of Canada, Austra's debut album Feel It Break is akin to a good night out in loud, dark room. Kinda fun, but where's the door?