Ringo Deathstarr - Starrsha (2007)
Within the modern atmosphere of Loveless reactionaries whispering pop tunes over drum machines and sparse reverbed synths, The Scene That Celebrated Itself is all but forgotten. People hardly recognize the significance of such jams as Mousetrap, Upside-Down, and Sunny Sundae Smile - except, of course, Ringo Deathstarr, who unashamedly ripped off the latter of those with a gusto that you just can’t say no to. Though their guitar tone is thick enough to butt heads with post-80s shoegaze, their solidly mixed vocals speak of singing, not whispering, and the drone lead guitar makes me happy on the inside. If you’re too dense to catch the bursts of melody, the uptempo post-punk rhythm cracks through any confusion over their target. The meticulously formed textures of Slowdive and Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine are shunned in favour of some fuzz and a tune, and isn’t that really all you need? The best feedback breaks aren’t breaks, they’re just a constant hiss over your verse that you can’t escape. All the best groups started as teenage pastiche acts, and these guys have already transitioned to a slower, dreamier, more lush sound - the fuzz guitar is still there, but it’s much more like The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, complete with backwards guitar and synth lines. I’m not saying they’re worse now, but they’ve found a sound of their own, for better or worse. This, this is Sunny Sundae Smile.
Neon Indian - Hex Girlfriend
It was a quiet day in 2009 when ‘Psychic Chasms’ dropped, sticky and sweet and lazy and long. Though the world was still buzzing from his singles, it was a completely different experience when we first heard (AM). When I played it for a friend of mine, he had a questioning look. I don’t think he liked it twenty seconds in, he was close to changing it back to something a bit more groovy. At twenty-seven seconds into that record though, the bass started rumbling and the drum machine went umm-tssh, umm-pa-tssh, something in the sound waves lit the THC in his veins and he started laughing. It was a laugh that you may have seen or experienced yourself, when the music is so good that it gives you the tingles and you just want to lay on the floor and relax and be HIGH, no matter how sober you are. Alan Palomo had struck gold, he had taken the laziness of Beck and Dinosaur Jr. and removed all the angry that fucks up the good vibes. Disco, house, techno, and synthpop all stirred up with the kind of happy regret that makes you sigh when everything is perfect. This wasn’t pre-Panda Bear Animal Collective, with their unwelcoming textures and buried pop hooks, this was Person Pitch with songwriting that you don’t hear, you like, feel, man. Deadbeat Summer and 6669 and even Should Have Taken Acid With You are so damn approachable you just want to bask in the beat and forget about your shitty life, however shitty or not-shitty it is.
But uhh, it’s 2011. Washed Out has released the natural follow-up album and Toro y Moi has completely revamped his sound into a funky, organic wall of sound that I’m going to see live for the second time in a month and a half and has some of the best basslines since I Wanna Be Adored broke Manchester dancehalls apart at the seams. There has been a tremendous amount of pressure on these artists like there was on MGMT before they committed suicide with their psychedelic yet decidedly unpop sophomore release, which seems to clash with their original ‘rock star’ mentality. I mean for fuck’s sake, Nick Jonas ‘tweets’ the incredible sound of Neon Indian. The guy had one album under his belt. His indie rep was entirely deserved, but when you break into the lives of teeniepop stars like that it’s really a turnoff to your core audience. Modest Mouse is still cool because you can say that you really only liked their first three LPs (and Interstate 8), but what are you going to say about this? This incredibly approachable, danceable sound that broke into the mainstream before it had a chance to sell out - what happens now? Do you add guitar, lots of guitar? Do you speed up your relaxed vocal delivery just to the point of uncomfortable? Do you fall back on stale beat composition with intermittent bleepy bloops to try and make it the same music that turned the world up-side-down? Best of luck Alan. I have no idea how this is going to fall on other’s ears, but either he’s releasing the worst track on the album first or it isn’t going to be getting much spin from me. Sorry bro. Sorry for the pan and the huge wall of text, but I don’t like not loving music. Thanks for getting to the bottom though, here’s your consolation prize.
Pineapples - Come On Closer
Loving my readers with the force of one thousand Unknown Pleasures t-shirts,
Toma - This Day
Why is this song not on the internets yet? Brick-wall shoegazey guitars complement post-punk vocals murmuring out one of the catchiest baritone lines I think I’ve ever heard. The lead lines are reminiscent of some of Toma’s more post-rock work, but the drums work out a mechanical beat while you remember that post-rock can be pop too. It’s not so much a guitar riff as a single dedicated orchestral line beaten into your skull until you realize just how dramatic they’re saying they are. Personally, I love noise. It sounds like My Bloody Valentine covering Joy Division and I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. Not terribly groundbreaking, but the hooks is heartbreakingly good. More importantly, why is this not on the internet yet? You’ve had three years, internet. I’m taking it from here. Much love,
EDIT fuck this was supposed to go on my other blog… I’ll fix it tomorrow.
EDITEDIT this is the right blog now, sorry for the massive wait guys <3 blame tumblr xoxo
James Blake and Bon Iver - Fall Creek Boys Choir
I’ll write this song up later when I get over how fucking sexy it is. Whenever that is.
Summerville, SC - Into It. Over It.
The real indie world isn’t as comfy as the higher-level consumers (e.g. people who go to Urban Outfitters for records rather than their gorgeous leather boots and coats and pretty dresses and offtopic sorry) would like to believe. Underneath the clean debut EPs and stunning LPs is an insane number of split 7”s and indie label samples and flowing blog releases that never touch a physical release unless you burn it yourself, and down here tunes matter. At least I think they do. ’Into It. Over It.’ (hereafter adjusted to Into It Over It because that period throws me off) is the solo project of Evan Weiss, somewhat in the vein of such groups as Snowing and Castavet. It is completely road trip music, hitting the driving rhythms and somewhat strained lofi vocals and massive riffs and singalong choruses that aren’t really choruses but yeah they kind of are. He’s made a thing of song titles that are places (city, state) which I imagine he feels kind of stupid for doing after the release of the new Bon Iver, not even counting that Sufjan did it ages ago, albeit to lesser extent. For all my local friends, this track might hit a bit close to the heart. It’s an angry song that strains at its two minutes and fifty-one seconds to get at that bastard, and they’re glad we’re holding him back because if we weren’t he’d totally fuck his shit up. ’I’ve got the nerve to shut your mouth but not the size or strength’ is possibly one of the most blunt, biting confessional lyrics that I’ve heard, stripped of the false bravado and emasculation-induced revenge fantasies. It’s the realization of a sane person in South Carolina honestly, that you can get up on your soapbox all you want but no-one wants to listen. It’s cool Evan, you can come hang with me. I know that feel, bro. I know that feel. The track is a tad noisy for my taste and the twinkly guitars have grown some crunch to them. The riffs are big though, and melodies are as strong as any. I like feedback, I don’t like cymbal crashes. This has lots of both. Take that as you like. It certainly maintains the growing quality of a lot of emo, as the lyrics become more intelligible and singalongable you like the track more. This guy’s going to be in Columbia next month. I don’t live in Columbia. It’s on a Sunday, and I have an 8am Monday class, so I’m calling it a strong probablynot, but it’s a show I’d pay for. He’s supporting AJJ, too. Anywho, I’m calling it a day people. Love you! Shoot me an email or a reblog or however you kids are doing it these days. Much love,
Times New Viking - Want To Exist
This track illustrates Times New Viking’s incredible flexibility, contrasting their indie-punk nature with a tremolo’d-out shoegazing slow burner. The overlapping but unaligned boy/girl vocals that define their style so well are still present, albeit to a lesser extent. The argument fights for a small bit of peace in the life of a young person in 2k11. As much as I can’t talk for being single and all that jazz, the main theme of the song is contentment. Sure, everybody has big dreams, but sometimes you can just enjoy life - I was listening to the new Kurt Vile record and the alarms outside lined up with it, and I realized that this is the best my life has ever been. Not the best it ever will be maybe, some day maybe I’ll get some decent music put out, but this is life. The counterpoint demonstrated by Times New Viking is exceptional to say the least, not to mention quite rare in today’s pop environment. They can change up their style like this because their sense of melody is so distinguishable and catchy that they can get away with it. Times New Viking, even stripped from the biting lyrics and spiky instrumental textures, have great tunes, and tunes are what the indie world needs right now. Maybe not what they deserve, with their obsessions with psychedelia and noise, but what they need for sure.
First day of classes tomorrow! Wish me luck.
Sun Glitters - Beside Me
So basically lofi R&B is the new chillwave, which is best illustrated by Sun Glitters, who is putting out R&B with chillwave synths and sidechaining against addictively undanceable garage beats. The unnatural pulsing rhythms draw you in and seem to sit you down. The vocals are pitch shifted and completely unintelligible and I’m okay with this. Grinding bass synths drag against the floor as they rub against the kick drum. The half-speed shuffle is completely narcotic. Either you love these vocals or you hate them, honestly, the complete lack of midrange vocals sometimes feels odd, but it’s just a part of the instrumentation. The actual writing could be tightened up, the melodies just aren’t pulling their weight, but as far as dreamy ambient music goes you could do a lot worse. Much love,
Mixtape Time! Also, Cat Has a Home
So my loyal blogpeople will already have heard everything on this mix, but you know, this is the stuff that makes me happy. It reminds me of sad times and how wonderful now is. I’m tearing up a little bit actually, it’s so strange how a slightly positive atmosphere makes so much difference. Tumblr’s limit on having only one song every 24 hours is really harshing my queueing abilities, so I’m going to be loading up another tomorrow morning that you guys will really like I think. This mix really spans a lot of my life and a lot of pain that I’ve unloaded into my music, I hope it means something to you. I’ll present the tracks nearly without commentary, though I have pages of stories about all of them.
1. Bright Eyes - Pull My Hair
2. Modest Mouse - Interstate 8
3. Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday
4. Letting Up Despite Great Faults - In Steps
5. Radio Dept. - 1995
6. Yuck - Get Away
7. Whirl - Blue
8. My Bloody Valentine - Sunny Sundae Smile
9. Best Coast - Over the Ocean
10. Nick Drake - Pink Moon
11. The Little Hands of Asphalt - Blue & Green
For some reason I have a thing for the first tracks of albums. I guess it’s what I hear the most, if I stop a listen prematurely. Whatever, analyze my psyche from this as you will, the download link is right below.
Click HERE to download the music.
You guys really mean a lot to me, I’d love to hear from you more. Much love,
The Elephant Six Orchestra - Odorless Boatman’s Belt
Holy psychedelia batman! Elephant Six is back lately in a big way, what with Jeff Mangum playing shows and all that jazz, but wow does this Elephant Six Orchestra make me feel like I’m on drugs. It’s like a five minute track but it feels like a three hour trip, melodies and chord progressions drifting in and out. You think you’ve settled into the song after an extended crazy intro but noooope suddenly the tape is being chopped up and then it’s a completely different song that sounds like you’re in Alice in Wonderland and somebody is speaking in a language that may or may not be a language. The crumpling guitars sound like somebody is chewing on my brain. They’re pulling from somewhere between the obsessive catchiness of Jefferson Airplane and the completely schizophrenic mess of Jefferson Airplane while you’re on way too much acid and the opening band is fiddling around on their instruments too and you have a super catchy guy playing an accordion outside for a really cute indie chick who’s sitting in the lap of a lizard and suddenly the sidewalk is pudding and you’re not entirely sure how to get up. A mere human would’ve chopped this up into around 6 different distinct tracks that still sound really psychedelic and catchy and sell a whole bunch of records, but… you know, this works too. Beautiful sound collage that illustrates what Elephant 6 is capable of. Hope it’s kind to your ears. Loving you guys even more than yesterday,
Vondelpark - TV
Vondelpark seems to bring to the forefront what producers have been hinting at since before Boards of Canada. The reason their music seems so forward thinking is that, like folk music, it doesn’t draw from music so much as it draws from nature. It speaks to the state of modern life when ‘nature’ is 2 a.m. skinemax and static, but that’s just life I suppose. What it most reminds me of, since I don’t do TV, is having a melodic beat in one ear because my headphones are half broken and hearing the television and police sirens and the bird and bits and pieces of conversations going on. In that moment I though, what if this was how the music was meant to be listened to? What if noise cancelling headphones have the wrong idea, and music was meant to be stirred into life until the mixture was homogeneous and warm? You can’t really pin it down, but why should you have to? Music is truly an ephemeral experience that is affected deeply by your mood, surroundings, and past. Vondelpark ties together oozing synths and reverb-drowned guitar lines with classic slow grooving two-step beats. Unashamed of his R&B vocal affectations, Vondelpark seems to be singing along to himself, squeezing out the hooks and trying to remember them again and again, seeming to lose his nerve in front of the audience of you. The quick verse of television samples bring an erotic element into the track, if you didn’t notice it before, but not one of passion between two lovers - it’s one of watching passion through a little glowing box at night, remembering when you were in love and had someone to keep you warm in bed. I really love this song but I love my readers even more! I hope you guys forgive me for a being a bit slow, I’m moving to university. I’m trying to get you guys set up with some music while I’m not around, Keep an eye and an ear out, I won’t abandon you. Much love,