One of my favorite tracks in 2008 was Deerhunter's "Nothing Ever Happened," due to its entrancing blender sludge of progressive electronics and throwback guitar riff rhythm. This new Tammar track is hitting me squarely where it counts for similar reasons. Suicide Squeeze Records is releasing the band's full-length debut, Visits, on September 20th, and "The Last Line" is the first released track from the effort. It pulses, pounds, emotes, and shreds for its entire five minute journey. Opening with a more electronic, thumping tilt, the jangly rhythm guitar kicks in at around the :10 second mark and doesn't stop until the track's close. The press release alludes to the band as seeing the performance of a song as, "The triumph over anxiety and ennui." Damn straight. I scrubbed my house to this track on repeat for at least two hours. If that doesn't kill boredom and leave a person with a little catharsis, I don't know what will. The guitar reverb crunches alongside the soloing and the continuous entrancing synth pulse. This is upbeat, refreshing, and points to huge things for Tammar in September. I'll be the first in line.
Bon Iver’s eponymously entitled second full-length is an album with song titles of place names, or near place names. "Holocene," for example, means a place in time, and is our current place in geological time (ubiquitous unfact-checked wiki knowledge). I thought the derivation of Holocene was telling, derived from two Greek words meaning “whole or entire” and “entirely recent.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the album and a great of example of what Justin Vernon and Co have been working on since the “For Emma” and the EP “Blood Bank.” A straightforward acoustic guitar line is accompanied by steel guitar, swelling to the lyric “and once I knew I was not magnificent,” evoking this feeling of discovery, loss (perhaps romantic, or as I hear it, epochal) in tenor and feel.
Tenor and feel are what I take away from the entire “Bon Iver” effort. They lyrics blend in to the music, and are overtracked to the point where my moderately damaged hearing cannot isolate specific lyrics. I feel like a friend who was introduced to The Beatles lyrics by translating them word for word from a dictionary—every time I listen I pick up a few more words, or the words I thought I understood changed.
The album is emotional, starting with Justin Vernon's confident falsetto. It reminds me of Iron and Wine, whose lyrics were punk rock in the quietest way possible. Justin's lyrics are immediately rendered vulnerable by the soft, high delivery. Male rock singers sing loud, and if they sing high they belt it out so we know they are trying hard and emotionally invested.
In addition to their shared fly-over-state origins, Bon Iver is treading on Sufjan Steven’s territory by making music that is both emotionally available, where the song’s speakers are sharing something vulnerable, and doing so in a ways that become more uniquely sophisticated with each edition.
"Michicant" is the song I keep coming back to, a song in waltz-time that rises and falls and avoids any sense of the maudlin. I get the sense that Vernon believes in the lyrics, in their subjective truth, and delivers them tenderly as an accompaniment to the music as much as a literal libretto.
Calgary has as much synth as I’m comfortable tolerating. This dreamy video does little to clear up any theme…all I know is that this is the tear-jerker TV bait that will appear in any number of well scored shows or movies…I'm sure it will be on Chuck or House, which have had pretty good musically sensibilities (Blitzen Trapper, Iron and Wine, Jude, and Radiohead come to mind).
It's not a particularly apt album to drop on the summer solstice, but I will be listening to it quite a bit while I drive around in the hot nights, through forests, with the window open. It’s not Wisconsin, but with this album everywhere can aspire to be the upper Midwest.
PS –I was more than a little smitten when I read the Justin Vernon feature in NYT. Good read to accompany a great album.
Just received this in the internet mail. I'm absolutely enthralled by Secretly Canadian's Gardens & Villa. The debut, self-titled LP is set for release on July 5th, but you can stream it in its entirety over at Yours Truly by clicking HERE. Sit back and enjoy this one. They've also offered up "Black Hills" as the MP3 downloadable. Funky, crisp, and gorgeously arranged, every track on this album is a sonic gem. Enjoy "Black Hills" and head over and stream the whole thing. Pre-order the record at Secretly Canadian's website HERE.
Disbanded LA punk outfit, Mika Miko's bassist, Jessica Clavin, and sister Jennifer make up the new side project duo Bleached. They're releasing Carter 7" via Art Fag on July 19th. Jennifer spent most of 2010 touring with Cold Cave before moving back to the studio with her sister. I loved We Be Xuxa the most out of all of Mika Miko's arsenal, mainly due to its in-and-out bonecrushing 21 minutes of intelligent post-punk. This A-side to the 7", "Think of You" is in a similar vein, and I'm on board for more material from the Clavin sisters. It's 2:41 of pretty straightforward power pop, still maintaining punky and scuzzy undertones. Reverb-laced and catchy, it seems the sisters are moving toward a more centrist line, in the mode of Dum Dum Girls and similar chick-rock success stories. I don't think there's too much of a glut just yet, and with the experience, you can add Bleached to the roster of good ones. Art Fag is printing a limited number of 500 on black vinyl. Bleached is also set to tour this summer with shows alongside Hunx and His Punx, with more tour dates with Plateaus and Heavy Hawaii in August.
I'm glad I caught Little Girls' set at The Great Hall on Thursday night. Josh McIntyre of Little Girls clued me in on a secret show, hosted above a hardware store on Queen Street the following day. A pretty hefty lineup was all set to play for 10 bucks a pop above the store, including Dirty Beaches, Red Mass, Crocodiles, and Makeout Videotape. Free beers from a keg and a whole slew of hipsters. It was like I was in college all over again. Nonetheless, I rolled into the party a touch late, crawled through the apartment window and onto the roof. Makeout Videotape had just begun playing, and I'm glad I didn't miss much of their drunken set. Irreverent in all of the best ways, the band put on one of the most entertaining five-song sets I've seen in a long while. Intro-ing each of their tracks with made up song titles was a winning strategy. Titles like, "The Underside of a Sweaty Foreskin" and "Taking a Hot Shit on a Huge Pussy" were winners, for certain. Of course, these aren't the titles on their debut album, Ying Yang, and the music is the most important, but guitarist/singer Mac DeMarco's delivery and shtick in between songs was hilarious. Musically, this is about as lo-fi and catchy as it can get, enveloped in major reverb and distortion; the fun-loving trio knows how to create dirty and rough-hewn hooks you'll be humming for hours. The band rather reminds me of Harlem's beginnings. Unprofessional, home-spun ethos. It was exactly what a rooftop party needed on Friday in Toronto. Check out the band's bandcamp site and stream/download the entire record. They've also toured recently with Japandroids, which I would have loved to catch. Two listens through this and it'll be one you purchase. I've also included two other drunken pictures I took just before my phone died. Included are two of the nice fellas of our new pals Tympanogram (I won't tell you which ones they are), and Dirty Beaches sitting at a lunch table enjoying some rooftop party grub. I'm creepy like that….Either way, none of these pics are worth a damn thing. It's just proof that bloggers are not always visually inclined.
The emails have been heavy today, but this one caught my ear immediately, even if in small part due to the name drops in the email. Nightmare and the Cat are releasing their debut, self-titled EP in July and this first cut, "The Missing Year" has, perhaps, the best last minute of an indie pop song that I've heard in a long while. The trio consists of Claire Acey, and two brothers, Django and Samuel Stewart. Combined, they are the offspring of Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and Bananarama's Siobhan Fahey (not that the two are mom and dad to all three, but who knows. The 80's were a weird time). Apparently, the London trio is poised to make a bit of noise. There is a professional shimmer and polish to this track, which includes shifts in the arrangement and a variety that we don't always get with indie-pop. There's a folky touch of the blues to go along with the excellent production quality. I, for one, am sticking around to hear more of this EP. Gutsy, confident, and infectious, "The Missing Year" warrants repeat plays. As I mentioned, stick around and hear the last 45 seconds of the track. That'll lasso you in. If you're in the NYC area, they're playing on July 10th at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn along with Non-violence, and at Mercury Lounge on July 12th with The Belle Brigade.
June 18th was my birthday, and after a day of booze-cruisin' and backyard BBQ drinking, I was moving slowly out of the gate during the evening shows of NXNE. Luckily, Lee's Palace had a staunch bill, and I decided to spend most of my night there with the rest of the bloggers that were in town. Unlike most of the people that attended this show, my fixation was on Richie Follin's Guards. Richie Follin (and his music) remind me an awful lot of people I went to high school with in the mid-90's. Straight long hair, hippie tendencies, no doubt a collection of Grateful Dead, Pantera and White Zombie ticket stubs stowed away in some back closet. His father was actually involved in the creation of White Zombie. In retrospect, after seeing the Lee's Palace show, it all makes perfect, and albeit exciting and delicious, sense. I want to drink beers with Richie Follin and I'll also be buying his records as long as he'll put them out. On my facebook page, I described Guards as gorgeous 90's power pop as performed by Black-Sabbath lovin' hippies. While this is a complex description, it is not far from the truth – The top to bottom 7-song run of Guards EP, paired with the more juiced up live performance, is well worth the listen. As far as I'm concerned, Guards stole the show at Lee's from the more highly polished performances of Twin Shadow and Wild Nothing. Follin is that good.
The "doom" portion of the band's description on their bandcamp site is the part I identify the most with. Ultimately, Guards is a rock band, and this is all fleshed out in a live setting. Even during the sound check, Follin was meticulous in setting things up, struggling with the sound guy to get the vocals adjusted properly. Smoke machines and a nearly pitch black stage added to the darker vibe. If you've been listening to the EP for the last year, then you know full well that the songs are more power-pop, but driven by huge arcing hooks and 60's throwback arrangements. These are just great songs. However, at Lee's Saturday, the live show brought these tunes to life and allowed the band to jam and turn up the volume of those more rock-based undertones. "Resolution of One" and "Don't Wake the Dead" were even better live than on the recorded work; Follin's guitar-soloing had more room to breath up on a stage. The keys, dreamy synths, and crunching axe-work had me up and dancing around. The band rolled through each of the 7 tracks on the EP with velocity and passion. No gimmicks, no pretension. Just a damn good rock show – one of the three or four best shows I saw during my whole stint in Toronto this weekend.
Follin's sister has a good thing going with Cults, mainly because she can weave two different genres together into an encompassing mixture. Richie Follin does the same thing, but in a vein that a guy like me can understand. I "get" rock n' roll music. I understand showmanship, and so does Richie Follin. I'm excited to see the next phase in Guards' growth. Ultimately, this is a throwback rock band searching for the right formula – my opinion is that if they continue to hit that live show aspect, there will be a lot of elder music statesmen lining up around the block to catch them.
(Editor's note: it's been several days since any of us heard from Kevin. He wrote about a couple of shows at NXNE, then fell off the map. We can confirm that he saw AIDS Wolf on the roof of a Canadian hardware store, but, after that, he's been out of pocket. There's a slim chance he's caused an international incident of some sort. Or is wandering through the Canadian wilderness with only his iphone and a Molson to keep him warm. We're worried. Godspeed, Citizen Kevin, godspeed. If any kindly Canadian sees a lost and scared Ohio music blogger, please mail him home. We'll pay the postage.)
Happy Father's Day to all. I had a a fantastic trip to Jacobs Field with my folks and the littlest Dick. It's cool to have a photograph of three generations of Tribe fans in the ballpark. I'll be using that as leverage for his fanhood when he's seven and wants to follow a winner.
I don't have a fun narrative or any real critical statement about the tune for today. I like the guitars. In truth, I'm internet-music-blogging right now because I'm waiting for photographs to upload to my computer. I'm glad I checked into the electronic mail, because Lightouts is pretty sweet. Enjoy
Toronto's own, Little Girls, rattled The Great Hall in the 11 PM time slot last night, and catching this set was a high priority. Concepts is a multi-layered gem of an album and I was excited to see these wall-o-sound tracks in a live setting. The Great Hall is absolutely gorgeous – by far the best venue I've been in all weekend. An ample stage sits at the end of perfectly lit floor, complete with a second tier of seating wrapping around the entire venue. Vintage charm and stellar acoustics in this place, which added up to equal a nice respite from the bar scene I've been jumping around in.
And this is all very good, because the acoustics and size of the venue allowed Little Girls some room to expand a bit with sound, hitting the audience with a big dose of Concepts and their forthcoming EP, Cults. The cavernous building allowed the fuzz-driven tracks to swirl around the audience. The band wasted no time, jamming out to tracks like "Youth Tunes" and "Growing" with professional earnest. Josh McIntyre has chops musically and vocally; for the last two years I've held Concepts in high regard – there have been quite a few youth-nostalgia based lo-fi outfits arrive on the scene since 2009, but of that graduating class, Little Girls, at least to me, seems to be the one that is growing. The solo DIY ethos is now being blossomed into a full-band ensemble, and this has me stoked for Cults and an impending LP on the horizon. "Surf Rock" is probably an attachment the foursome is eager to leave behind – because really, what the fuck is surf rock if it's not The Beach Boys? – and The Great Hall show made this point abundantly clear. The live setting brings these songs to life. They are well-arranged, aggressive, and melodic to the core. More post-punk than surfy, the tandem guitar attack of McIntyre and Andrew Wilson were equal parts dreary stack amp sludge and intelligent arrangement. Asses were shaking and speakers were tested. To boot, the dudes in the band are great people – had a chat with them after the show and the convo solidified, once again, why I do this in my spare time. Young bands with energy and passion – that is always awesome to see.
A word to the wise: At The Garrison, they infuse mythic ambrosia into the PBR bottles, leaving customers happy and hangover-free in the morning. Just kidding. I feel like shit. However, The Garrison was a packed house last night for the first "unofficial" night of the NXNE festival in Toronto. Full disclosure: I'm going to sacrifice photo quality in lieu of efficiency and timeliness with my posts this weekend. I am not Ansel Adams, and it's difficult to snap all-star quality photographs when I'm double-fisting ambrosia. Ya dig?
At 9, Pat Jordache took the stage and "woo-woo'ed" the crowd into ass-shaking mode pretty quickly. I decided to skip Monogold for this band's set and I wasn't disappointed. They do not suck, and hitting The Garrison early via a tip was a smart move. Pat Jordache has been making quite a bit of waves in the noise-pop arena up here, with a unique blend of guitar crunch and irreverent vocal delivery. They busted through a lot of Future Songs, donning a lazy hat but emittting quite a bit of talent behind the facade.
Lower Dens played in Cleveland at Happy Dog a few nights ago, and I was pissed I missed it. Twin-Hand Movement was among my favorites last year, and I've been excited to see it translated live. The lush instrumentation of the studio album came through beautifully in the tiny confines of The Garrison. "Blue and Silver" and "Holy Water" were fabulous live. They opened with the former and jammed out for several minutes. Ironic mustaches in tow, the band did a great job of filling the 10 PM time slot as the place began to fill up, even returning for a brief encore before wrapping things up. The upshot if you missed them is that they play one more set at NXNE. Check them out at Lee's Palace tonight at 1 AM.
My lady friend loves NYC's The Postelles. She's had the debut album in her hip pocket for the last three weeks and already knows all of the lyrics. Quite literally, The Postelles are already pop professionals, and can dish it out equally live. Energetic, fun, sexually charged, and talented, they rip through tunes like butter. Pariticular highlights were "Hey Little Sister," the obvious closer, "White Night," and a ridiculously good cover of Elvis' "Hound Dog," where guitarist David Dargahi nearly busted every string on his stratocaster. If you like to swim in pop hooks, there is not a better ocean than a Postelles gig. Mark that down. In even more important news, my lady friend got to chat with the Dargahi and even scored a pack of Postelles matches from the merch table. Isn't that what it's all about, ultimately?
The Garrison was cozy for our first night in Toronto, and treated us well. We were already in the cab as Suuns (Special 12 AM Guest Show) was getting started. They're playing a couple more sets, so I was able to let that one go so we could get to The Horseshoe to see We Are Wolves. Hopefully I can continue to get some brief posts throughout the week as I go. The NXNE staff has been fabulous and this is a great festival. If you're out and about tonight, don't forget to follow us on Twitter @citizendickorg. As I mentioned, first beer's on me. If these bands are new to you, I've posted a few tracks below.