Vol. 9 Issue 109 Month Year
It’s our annual Rocktober web update. What makes the Rocktober slate different than other months? Well, for one it’s October… And um… There’s some rock… OK, fine, you caught us, it’s just a morning zoo name for what we do every month. But what we do every month is pretty cool, right? So new music from Foxygen, Zola Jesus, MONO, Field Report and others by any other name would sound just as sweet, right (be thankful we don’t knit, because Socktober would put you to sleep!)?
Posted by Lyle On Oct 17, 2014
Who is busier than BRM Boy? No one! (at least until Obama makes the Ebola Czar... Read More
- Click to see:
- Dead Oceans
- Secretly Canadian
- Northern Spy
- Thrill Jockey
- Drag City
Dan Snaith has released a lot of great records as Caribou (and also before that as Manitoba – damn you Handsome Dick!), and his fifth, Our Love (Merge), continues in the vein of electronic-meets-organic awesomeness he’s perfected. While Our Love is filled with all the amazing things you’ve come to expect from Snaith – digital pop hooks, liquid basslines you could drown in, spot-on samples – he’s also allowed a little bit of soul to creep into this one. And with a title like Our Love, why wouldn’t you expect this to be his Barry White record? Dan Snaith as Barry White … I’m kinda zoning out on the delightfulness that possibility, maybe they can star in "The Odd Couple" re-boot? OK, I’m back. This isn’t really a Caribou-meets-Barry White album, but there’s all kinds of soulfulness, and that’s just fantastic. Check out the Motown/Atoms for Peace vibe of “Can’t Do Without You.”
The agonizing wait is over. Mary Timony and Co. released the Ex Hex debut 7” to the anxious ears of a music world starving for rock and roll early in 2014. It was everyone’s favorite before they even heard it. That’s the kind of trust Mary has earned from her fans over the years. So of course Rips (Merge) their full length debut would be even more amazing. Having never steered us wrong with Helium or Wild Flag, we were right to think like this, right? Well yeah! Of course we were right! So good! Rough around the edges (think a little bit of The Runaways) punk-y rock and roll (think Ramones) blistering past you (think Minutemen), over before you know it. Leaving you wanting more. Check out the reverb soaked British Invasion sounds of “Don’t Wanna Lose.”
Sometimes you hear a band and cannot for the life of you find the words to describe their sound. As a blurb-writer, that can be a harrowing experience. That’s usually when the joke to fact ratio is pretty high (this is like director’s commentary for blurbs! A glimpse behind the curtain!). Then there are other times when, from the first seconds of a new record, all of the adjectives and comparison bands jump out at you like a 3-D Jaws sequel (Dennis Quaid!?! What are you doing here?). Such is the sound of new Dead Oceans Portland-area band Greylag. Their self-titled debut is all Led Zeppelin III folk, like a looser Fleet Foxes, or a version Of Monsters and Men where they remember to bring their talent and amps. Check out the Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp of “Yours to Shake."
"…And Star Power"
Let’s ignore all of the Teen Beat backstage drama that can sometimes surround Foxygen. That stuff is only interesting if the band isn’t the real deal. And Foxygen certainly is the real deal. If you follow my weird analogy that Foxygen might be the modern day Guns ’n’ Roses then …And Star Power (Jagjaguwar) is their Use Your Illusion (both 1 and 2). Sprawling double album with no strange idea too strange for the album. They have been quoted as saying this is their Tusk. Maybe that works? But really, I feel more like it’s their Lumpy Gravy and We’re Only In It For The Money combined. Both of those Zappa LPs are really concept albums that have extracted the radio station of the mind for the listener. Everything the boys have been working with over their short career (homage to every good band ever, devoted to Richard Swift) works better than it ever has. The Kinks bits are more Kinks-y, the Stones parts are WAY more Stones-y. You’re gonna listen, You’re gonna love it. I’ll shut up now and let you check out the first single “How Can You Really.”
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
The wait is over. It’s been nearly 10 years since I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness’ first, and only, album. Thankfully Dust (Secretly Canadian) is exactly what you want it to be. A little new wave, a little dark, a lot of super tight rock ’n’ roll. ‘80s british dark wave mixing with classic rock and indie ideas. Like an album by Wilco doing Cocteau Twins covers (don’t lie, you’d buy that in a second!) Guiotar harmonies and reverb-y drums really leave the album sounding like lots of stuff and nothing else in the world. Which really should be the objective of all bands. Check out the moody lead-off track “Faust.”
"Out of Hands We Go"
Who needs Brooklyn? The boys in o’death decided that it was time for a change, and so, upon singer/guitarist Greg Jamie’s relocation to Biddeford, Maine, to take over and run arts and music venue The Oak and The Ax, they hauled their gear up there as well to make album number four. And who could blame them? Maine’s gorgeous this time of year, and Brooklyn can be annoying and oppressively hot in the summertime. (And someday soon it will be all the time, once this global warming thing ratchets itself all the way up.) Heck, I might even shoot up to Biddeford for a long weekend and check out Jamie’s venue. Out of Hands We Go (Northern Spy) should make perfect road music, as its strains of gritty Americana and folk traditions will make the drive decidedly more bearable. Although I may go up there with a dude who listens to Megadeth nonstop… No, I won’t. Hey, you like the heavy strains of 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand? You’ll love “Roam.”
You know, when I woke up this morning, the first thing I said to myself was, “Golly, I really want to be mangled by the first record I play today, I mean totally manhandled by the thing.” Then I pressed play on Oozing Wound’s Earth Suck (Thrill Jockey) and guess what – bludgeon city! I ended up going back to bed by the end of it, I was so spent. Combining equal parts Mastodon and Monster Magnet (maybe with a dash of Pantera and even some Ministry for delicious, delicious zest), the Chicagoans blast through their new album while flipping the double bird (that’s right, I said double) at their own planet – Earth, in case you were wondering – while laughing at the garbage heap we’re turning it into. Because really, why do you think NASA’s secretly scouting other solar systems in other galaxies? They’re looking for a planet to terraform so the best and brightest can get the heck off this rock before it becomes uninhabitable. Oozing Wound is just telling it like it is, but in a fun way! Check out the utter faceblast that is “Genuine Creeper.”
"The Best Day"
Thurston Moore hasn’t been this Sonic Youth-y since… well, since his days in Sonic Youth. Though his last few solo albums have been gorgeous, they have mostly concentrated on the minor key chamber-folk songs that would appear here and there on SY albums. But The Best Day (Matador) is Mr. Moore plugged back in, making noise and experimenting in the best possible way. Sounding equal parts late-era SY (think Rather Ripped), Led Zeppelin III folk-stomp, and Crazy Horse jams stretching into infinity. Each tune is like it’s own little album. The songs are dynamic, like little mini-operas (by “mini” I mean in length of time, not stature. You can’t have the fat lady sing if she’s only like thumbnail size.) The reinvigorated rock might come from recent umm… personal events? Or perhaps it’s the band he put together, featuring SY drummer Steve Shelly and My Bloody Valentine’s Deb George. The reason doesn’t really matter though, just check out the killer bounce of “The Best Day.”
With each passing year, there is less and less snotty, punky, rock and roll released. Which makes a band like Dope Body that much more important. Lifer (Drag City) is full of big, boisterous guitars and drums, shouted as a group choruses and more distortion than you can shake a, um… distortion maker at? (That thought sort of got away from me. Oh well…). You get the feeling that a lot of stuff got kicked over during the recording of this blistering album. They have the ability to go from glam-y ‘70s Roxy Music-esque thing to a more psychedelic Black Keys in the blink of the eye, and always come out the other end sounding like Dope Body. Check out the face-melt attack of “Hired Gun.”
I have nothing funny to say about Taiga (Mute), the new record from Nika Roza Danilova aka Zola Jesus. First of all, her hair is dark now instead of white, and that’s crazy! It’s some kind of Siouxsie Sioux trip she’s on, I know it. Also, the album was co-produced by Dean Hurley, who’s worked with David Lynch in the past, so you have to take it all pretty seriously. But Taiga is so darn fun as well – Danilova’s working more with beats than she did on 2011’s Conatus, and the results are staggeringly accessible. As accessible, perhaps, as a Madonna concert in 1991. Or a Cocteau Twins remix by Pet Shop Boys. Or a really, really good taco from a taco truck. See? I did have something funny to say after all. (I’ll show myself out.) Check out “Dangerous Days,” on which Nika gets her Sinead on over an M83 crowd-pleaser. Book the arena tour!
We Were Promised Jetpacks
One of these days, We Were Promised Jetpacks is going to have to revisit their name. We’re ever-so-rapidly hurtling headlong into the future, and those jetpacks that we were undoubtedly promised (so says the Scottish band) will be strapped to our backs and flinging us from one place to the next without abandon. It’s happening, I can feel it – along with the endlessly teased Back to the Future 2 hoverboards. So what do the lads call themselves when the inevitable happens? We Didn’t Have Jetpacks for a While so We Got Impatient but Then We Finally Got Them so It’s Cool Now? Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as they keep making high-strung, Brit-inflected indie rock like they do on their third album, Unravelling (FatCat). “Safety in Numbers” is the ideal pace-setter, evoking likeminded (and like-countried) artists Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. But listener, a warning: in your euphoria, DO NOT forget to wear your helmet before igniting the jetpack’s thrusters! You may be a lucky rocketperson, but they’re still ironing out those kinks…
The Twilight Sad
"Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave"
There is no getting around the fact that The Twilight Sad are a bit of a dark band. I mean, they didn’t call themselves The Twilight Sad because they love mornings. But honestly, how much good music comes from super happy people? (Sorry Sugar Ray fans…) But this band isn’t a bummer in the sense of bad news or anything, more like the disassociated artist in the corner of the party that everyone wants to work up the courage to talk to, but chicken out and just grab a handful of party mix instead (they stilll have party mix at parties, right? It’s been a while. Not sure how you could avoid it, the word “party” is in the title!” Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave (FatCat) is full of hints of british new-wave goth (or darkwave) like The Cure and Depeche Mode, but with a raw edge that keeps it from sounding like a throwback act. Check out the Arcade Fire/The Jesus and Mary Chain combo meal of “There’s A Girl In The Corner.”
"The Last Dawn/Rays Of Darkness"
So I was thinking the other day, “Gosh, this summer really sucks. I could totally use a new MONO album right now. But not one with an orchestra – those are alright, but what I could REALLY use is MONO at their most primitive and shoegazey, something to properly usher in the cold weather. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all upset if MONO went all noisy sometimes too. Come to think of it, maybe I want TWO new MONO albums, since this is my internal monologue and I can be as demanding as I want. Yeah, two MONO albums would be perfect because I am NEVER satisfied when it comes to sweet, sweet post rock. Hey, and if they did TWO albums, maybe we could start referring to them as the Guns ‘N’ Roses of this generation – that’s a Use Your Illusion I & II reference, in case anybody missed it. The narrative practically writes itself.” As is so often the case, all my wishes above have been granted (except the Guns ‘N’ Roses one – FOR NOW). Check out “Where We Begin” from The Last Days (Temporary Residence); and don’t forget about its counterpart Rays of Darkness (Temporary Residence), the harsher and crazier of the two albums.
Museum Of Love
"Museum Of Love"
LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney and Dennis McNany (aka Jee Day) are back as Museum of Love. “Back” as in they have released some singles in the past. But this is their first full length release. And what a strange, heady rush of intelligent electronica it is. Disco and avant garde art school experimentation collide here in the most pleasing way possible. A little bit Dan Deacon, a little bit Beach Boys (in the choral vocal area, sort of in a Panda Bear way), a little bit latin in it’s horn use… Really, it’s blissfully all over the place (like a cool old ladies outfits). Put on your dancing shoes (everyone has a pair, right?) and check out giddy build of “In Infancy.”
"A Hound At The Hem"
Sometimes the press for an album clears up any questions you might have after listening to an album for the first time. Other times, like this beautifully strange Slim Twig album, you have more questions than answers. I’m pretty sure that DFA is reissuing A Hound At The Helm, a 2010 self-produced album from 2010 in anticipation of the gentleman recording new music for the label. I also think that it’s some sort of a concept album that deals with Nabakov’s book Lolita. But I can’t be sure. There are mysteries here. But that’s ok. It would only be frustrating if the music wasn’t worth it, and the music is totally worth it. Orchestral passages. Strange ‘60s underground rock. Glam-rock production. This genre-busting cabaret art-pop leaves the whole strange thing sound like Ween is covering Elvis, The Velvet Underground, and Frank Sinatra at the same time. Check out the Boston-area garage sounds of “Maintain The Charade.”
A funny thing happened during the tour for Chris Porterfield and Field Report’s debut album. They became a beloved, respected band, specifically by artists they have grown up admiring. When Aimee Mann asks you to open for her on tour, (I can only assume) it’s a pretty heady rush. But as is so often the case, as your professional life is on the ascent, your personal life becomes harder to handle. But how this effected the song writing on their second album Marigolden is pretty adorable. Rather than focusing on being homesick, Chris made getting home a reward. He looked forward to it, and allowed it to center himself while he was out on the road. This is evidenced by the first single, the Tom Petty meets the Band in “Home (Leave the Lights On).”
Much like the archeological theory that all dinosaurs were covered in feathers, Brooklyn DIYers Dinosaur Feathers are a band in constant flux. Three albums in and they have been constantly re-imagining their already off-kilter sound. This time around, jangly indie-pop gives way to early ‘80s soul. The tail-end of Motown’s heyday has seeped into the already giddy grooves of the band. Simple drum-machine beats, bouncy bass hooks and saxophone solos and vocalist Greg Solo crooning his mind out. Really, slip most of these tunes into an old-school R&B DJ set and the people will be clamoring to figure out who this classic band they’ve missed all these years is. “Hey DJ, is this a Curtis Mayfield b-side?” the sweaty dance floor occupier might scream over the thumping of the speakers. “Nope,” hollers the smirking DJ, “it’s a band called Dinosaur Feathers!” “Really, you “pine for more pleather”?” the confused club-goer mishears because those places are so loud. Check out the horn-y soul of “Zeitgeist.”
Like a lot of people, I first really fell in love with Wampire during their opening stint for Foxygen and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Those shows came right as their first LP Curiosity was just finding it’s way onto record players. Their odd combination of haunted house effects, paranoid ‘80s new-wave angles and super catchy hooks immediately left them standing apart from many of their peers. Their newest album Bazaar (Polyvinyl) will only further that love for fans. Bowie bass parts bouncing around under soulful drumming and occasional horn parts and eerie keyboard stings. Wampire proves that there are ways to pay homage to the sometimes chilly sound of the ‘80s without having to sound like everyone else. Take, for instance, the 1st single “Wizard Staff,” with it’s Baker Street instrumental breakdown, Stevie Wonder keyboard sounds, and Roxanne trailing-off pauses.