Vol. 9 Issue 103 April 2014
Hey! So yes this the official 10th Anniversary Web Page Update! Woohooo!
To celebrate I'm going to repost the web page intro from 10 years ago. Wow! Happy 2004! Shame about that Martha Stewart! Hope you've been watching the Gilmore Girls. I really hope Queer Eye For the Straight Guy never gets cancelled! I can't wait for that Justin Timberlake (who?) and Janet Jackson half time show at the super bowl this year. Wanna hear some new tunes? I'll fax them to you! Meet you in the BRM Chat Room!
Oh ok, that is only partially true, but if you wanna hear what is happening in 2014 see below!
Posted by Lyle On Apr 12, 2014
As we reach back into the last ten years of BRM, instead of just picking up the Oscars... Read More
Wye Oak are back. At least, the name of the band is the same. Oh sure, all the same members are there (“all” he says, there are two members). Andy Stack on drums, keyboards and vocals. Jenn Wasner on guitars and vocals. At least, that’s how things used to be. For their newest album Shriek (Merge) they ditched the guitars and let, well, let all the other stuff do the heavy lifting. For a band that at one time would have been called “indie folk,” that’s a pretty big deal. You can’t really folk without a guitar, can you? Well, if you apply the same sensitive songwriting and introspective moods to instruments you don’t strum (I mean, you can try to strum a synth, but you aren’t gonna get very far). Guaranteed this is the album that reminds all the kids how great the Eurythmics were. Check out the sexy chill of Bowie-esque at it’s poppiest, “Before.”
Mark Smith (of Explosions In The Sky) and Matthew Cooper (of Eluvium) have formed Inventions, and their music is every bit as gorgeous as you would expect a band built from those two parts to be. Inventions is the self-titled debut from this ambient post-rock outfit, with slow moving glaciers of sound floating along a calmed sea of… also sound (I mean, it’s music, what else is the sea gonna be made of…). A little bit Eno (the best stuff usually is), and a little bit of each of their respective bands, each reflective tune washes over you like that sound ocean we talked about earlier (ok, I talked about earlier). Check out the buoyant majesty of the leadoff track “Echo Tropism.”
From the the very first notes of the bombastic Krautrock opening of the first track, “Ambulance City,” you know that Pink Mountaintops are (thankfully) back. So confident is Stephen McBean in his return that he called the new one Get Back (Jagjaguwar). You can’t just go calling your album that (this is not Nam, there are rules). What happens across the whole album is a cohesive reminder of what it means to be rock ’n’ roll, in all of it’s incarnations. Whereas some bands tend to ape a very specific time (think Foxygen) Pink Mountaintops are all things rock from all times in it’s history. I’m sure it helps that the guest players on the album read like a music-nerds dream (generally, any list that includes the name “J Mascis” is probably a pretty great list). Seriously, it’s got everything. And everything. But for starters, check out the Neu! meets Television sounds of “Ambulance City.”
"Range Of Light"
It has been a few years since Sean Carey, know here in his solo outings as S. Carey, released his debut LP. Last year we had a little EP to hold us over, but the Bon Iver drummer and baking vocalist is back in the long play format with Range Of Light (Jagjaguwar). Whereas S. did almost all of the playing on his first album, recording it piecemeal over a two year stretch at various locations, he tried something different this time around. Recording the whole thing at Justin Vernon’s studio and inviting the live band to help out in the studio. It certainly is cut from the same cloth as the first one, but added to the haunting beauty of the sound is a dense, Pet Sounds-level amount of audio-filling-out. Carey’s whisperish vocals and ear for gorgeous melodies paired with a pop-orchestra. Music rarely gets more soul-achingly pretty than this. Seriously. Check out the faint shuffle of “Fire-scene.”
The Skull Defekts
"Dances in Dreams of the Unknown"
Sweden’s tribal, post-punk mad geniuses The Skull Defekts are back with what was supposed to be their most “extreme, challenging” record to date. This is coming from an experimental, sometimes overtly noise band. But a funny thing happened in the studio (actually, judging from all the time I’ve spent in recording studios, tons of funny things happened, but I only know about this one). What entered the studio as a mishmash of riffs left the studio as the bands most accessible, listenable record to date. Oh sure, the tribal drum thumping is still there, as is the heavy metal/post-punk riffage and the odd Norwegian imagery of the bands lyrics, but it somehow jelled into the dark mystery of sheer rock and roll joy. Seriously, if you aren’t familiar with these dudes, Dances in Dreams of the Unknown (Thrill Jockey) is the perfect place to jump in. Check out the Tool meets Tomahawk sounds of “It Started with the Light.”
If you were a person born the last time indie wonderband Sleepyhead put out a record, you’d be a mopey freshman in high school. That’s right. It’s been 15 years since new Sleepyhead tunes emanated from our collective speakers (described to that same freshman as the “little holes on the bottom of your smartphone”). It’s not like they were completely dormant during those years, playing shows here and there, but not at the near constant pace they achieved in the ‘90s. I was probably at more shows during that decade where they were sharing a stage with another favorite band than they weren’t. So like everyone else who knows anything, we were super excited to get our grubby mitts on this new release, and out mitts weren’t disappointed. All the laid back indie-vibes were still in full force. Gorgeous melodies and harmonies, brit-rock guitar lines and roots-rock organ swells. Sometimes an album is exactly what you want it to be, and Wild Sometimes is one of those times. Check out the classic Tom Petty/Sea and Cake mashability rock of “Life Is Hard.”
We Are Scientists
"TV en Francais"
If you only know We Are Scientists from their online presence, you only know them as jokesters. They are known for representing themselves via interviews and videos as pretty hysterical dudes. As true as that statement is how seriously they take their music. TV en Francais, their 4th full-length, is full of grand indie-sweeps. Choral harmonies and occasional prog-y guitar acrobatics a la Muse, the relentless energy of The Walkmen and the stadium filling ‘80s R&B of Hall & Oates. An odd mixture, to be sure, but I bet someone said the same thing before the 1st meatloaf (the food, not the singer, or the Fight Club actor. Oh wait, that’s the same meaty dude. Never mind. Carry on) was actually cooked, and just sitting in a bowl all separate and mushy. It’s not the parts that count, it’s how they’re put together. And boy oh boy, this is one finely crafted puzzle. Dramatic builds to cacophony and quiet in-betweens. It’s joyously all over the place. After all, variety IS the spice of life (and meatloaf). Check out the aforementioned Hall & Oates-y-ness of “Dumb Luck.”
Having been part of the indie scene since the ‘90s, Jason Narducy has learned a thing or two about music (and also a thing or two about living with some damn sexy elbows). Having led the ‘90s indie group Verbow, and playing bass for both Bob Mould and Superchunk, it would be easy for Jason to be content with his recent roll as sideman. But judging by the intelligent, laid back indie-pop vibe of his new project Split Single, I think songwriting comes pretty easy for the man. Every second of Fragmented World does exactly what it should. It helps make every note perfect when your bass player is Britt Daniels and your drummer is John Wurster, but without these amazing songs, that perfection would be lost in a sea of boring. Check out the soaring power-pop of “Never Look Back.”
"We Got A Love"
If there is one thing DFA Records loves, it’s slightly disco-fried electronic music (Mmmm… Fried…) And if there is one thing we love about DFA, it’s that stuff I just said. Lucky for us Shit Robot (I wonder Marcus Lambkin’s Mom has ever told ANYONE the name her son releases music as) excels at just that sort of thing. Infectious beats, funky keyboards and slinky bass parts form together into an infinitely listenable dance party (I’ll bring the Doritos… you bring the deodorant…) Featuring guest vocals from Reggie Watts and Nancy Whang among others, We Got A Love (DFA) in unrelenting fun. Check out the Dee-Lite-full “Dingbat (Feat. Museum Of Love).”
As someone who has to listen to a lot of ultra-modern music as part of their job (I know, I’m pretty lucky) there is something so bracing about hearing someone currently doing something so out of time as Curtis Harvey. A singer/songwriter with a penchant for acoustic instruments and a roots-y/bluegrass-y sound that lies firmly on the Will Oldham side of the tracks, his easy sound is as universal as sunsets are pretty. Banjos, guitars, pianos, basses and drums all joyously getting together on The Wheel (FatCat) to join Harvey’s slight gravel of a voice in a long sit down on the back porch. That he resides and writes among the beauty of upstate NY is not surprising at all. Recorded (very slowly) in Mice Parade’s Adam Pierce’s home studio, the whole album is as comfortable as hot chocolate after a long day of sledding (I appear to be metaphor-happy for this blurb). Check out the sparse beauty of “You Missed My Greatest Works.”
Doug Gillard is a man that never stops. He has been the member of more bands than played at Live Aid (probably, I’m not in a counting mood). Besides his current gig as lead guitarist of Nada Surf, he’s also been in Guided By Voices, Cobra Verde and Gem to name like 10%. Additionally, he’s known to score the occasional indie flick, most notably American Cannibal. On top of all that, he releases the occasional solo album (because of course he is also a talented singer/songwriter. There is nothing he can’t do. I bet he even does his own taxes). Parade On (Nine Mile Records) is his latest solo release, filled with up-tempo indie-pop and killer guitar work. It’s like a more jammy Matthew Sweet sung with Doug’s Elliot Smith-y baritone. Check out the Traveling Wilburys-esque “Ready For Death.”
In the years following her notice-taking LP Kairos, Casey Dienel (known to us as White Hinterland) retreated to the house she grew up in, hoping to come out the other end reborn. The result is Baby (Dead Oceans), an album arrived at only after she built a recording studio in the same basement of her parents house she first learned how to play the piano. Then she focused on how to use said studio, utilizing YouTube’s vast library of how-to instructional videos. The result is an unfiltered look into the mind (musical and otherwise) of an artist, a staggeringly personal record. Not afraid to let her voice be the star of the show, the vocals are laid out bare. At times, long stretches are left a capella, or accompanied by piano alone. At other times, she let’s the brilliance of her friends S. Carey (Bon Iver and solo work), Neal Morgan (Joanna Newsom and Bill Callahan), and Cole Karmen-Green (Beyoncé) shine through. It’s like Feist, Bjork and the Eurythmics all at once. Check out the clubby, creepy “Baby.”