Posts Tagged ‘band of the week’

The Horrors

August 23rd, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week went from over-hyped, over-stylicized Britinanicans to a pretty solid, respectable band. The band of the week is…

THE HORRORS!!!

Actually, the truth is I kind of liked The Horrors‘ early stuff. “Sheena Is A Parasite” was kind of cool and it had that The Thing-homaging/ripping off video to boot, which was cool. But they were so overhyped as the next big thing by NME – as they are wont to do – that nobody could possibly take them seriously. So they took their time and eventually released the album Primary Colours, which moved away from the horror/camp vibe they were sporting before, trading it in for something more nuanced, interested in druggy sounds and pop structures. It was basically a good set-up for Skying, which is without a doubt a work of neo-shoegaze, whether the band intended it to be or not. However, from listening to it, I would definitely push towards ‘intended’.

Skying sounds a lot like that moment when shoegaze was starting to fade over to britpop, as Pitchfork accurately pointed out in their review. Basically that means it’s got the beautiful walls of shimmery, churning guitars, but it’s also got those stupid-ass britpop beats. I never like them, but whatever. So no, this isn’t the band’s answer to Loveless (the only thing that every came close to a decent answer was the Lily’s In The Presence Of Nothing) but it is a very well made answer to the best work of Ride and Lush, which learns from many of their mistakes (sounding too cheesy, bad lyrics, forgetting to write melodies). Also, Farris Badwan‘s low, moody, and very British vocals notably hold steady in contrast to the shaky and bad effects-laden vocals of many of the bands from the era of the aforementioned influences

So yeah, like a lot of other neo-shoegazers making stuff better than the original post-Loveless crowd, The Horrors succeed because of strong songwriting. But I already kind of alluded to that. You can check out “You Said” below (complete with seizure-inducing video) if you want to see what I mean. That chorus is a beauty.

Handsome Furs

July 6th, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is a minimalist rock duo that works within their limitations, developed their own unique sound, and though it began as a side-project, has gained the respect to stand beside it’s off-shoot band as a near-equal. The band of the week is…

HANDSOME FURS!!!

I was thinking about doing a ‘Have You Heard The New…Handsome Furs Album?’ post a while ago but I heard it when it leaked and didn’t write about it, and then it came out but I’d already been listening to it for months so whatever, this will be the compensation. Because I really liked their new album and really wanted to talk about it and the band as well.

I feel like Handsome Furs began simply as an excuse for Dan Boekner to make music with his wife Alexie Perry. Then it became an excuse for them to take really sexy pictures together. And then go on ‘honeymoon’ by touring around Europe. I don’t know how true all of that is, but I like the idea of it, so I’m going to keep it. Dan Boeckner being Dan Boeckner though, of course, writes amazing songs, and so Handsome Furs became an awesome band somewhere in the process of their making Face Control.

Another thing about Handsome Furs – it’s a band about concepts. While Wolf Parade has to be more of an awesome rock band with a bunch of awesome songs and albums, Handsome Furs gave Boeckner an opportunity to challenge himself free from the context of Wolf Parade, and so he limits the band to guitar, synth and drum machine. The second album was conceptually about Eastern Europe and what the culture and politics there reflects on our world and on the human race, while the third album is supposedly inspired by adventures out even further East in places like Burma. These challenges and concepts that Handsome Furs undertake have so far kept the band inventive, interesting and edgy. And perhaps what I appreciate most is that Handsome Furs seem to focus lyrically on the issues facing the world these days, though they often write songs that could be interpreted as songs about relationships and/or politics, although the lyrics are pretty impressionistic most of the time and contain snatches of both topics. They rarely follow a narrative, though sometimes they do (Boeckner’s song “Yulia” off Wolf Parade‘s Expo 86 does) to greater or lesser extent.

I feel like these days very few indie-rock bands are really writing about the world, or if they do, they try so hard to be ‘profound’. In 2004 when Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade first burst on the scene it was in vogue because everyone was pissed about Bush. We’ve still got the same problems seven years later but the Arcade Fire have lost that international spark they had on the first album (anyone remember “Laika”? Who else googled that?) and now are just really mopey…though they’re still great. But Spencer Krug has totally gone inside himself and his crazy visions for inspiration – no more “I’ll Believe In Anything” anthems. And who else is doing stuff? What other indie-rockers are really writing about the world? For that reason alone, Handsome Furs is amazing, because they’re out there, traveling, seeing, meeting other cultures, other regimes, and writing singing about it.

Avey Tare

April 5th, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

Last week’s band of the week was one member of a band I consider to be at the forefront of contemporary indie-rock music-making – today it’s another. The artist of the week is…

AVEY TARE!!!

I feel like Avey Tare has become the underdog of Animal Collective. Everyone shits themselves over whatever Panda Bear does (well…he’s done some pretty awesome shit) but Avey Tare aka David Portner does some pretty cool fucking shit too, both on AC album and solo.

To start, the album Pullhair Rubeye is awesome – reversed that it. Why did he and his then-wife Kria Brekkan (of múm fame) choose to release it with all the tracks played backwards? Because they’re wacky artists, that’s what wacky artists do – weird, absurd shit. Come on, you can’t expect the minds behind the genius of Animal Collective to be totally normal, right?

But about the album – it’s just beautiful. Quiet, folky, weird, pretty – in some ways, kind of feels like a missing link in Animal Collective‘s discography, like the sober album companion to the Prospect Hummer EP the band did with Vashti Bunyan. You can find the reversed version online pretty easily, I highly suggest checking it out.

As for Avey Tare‘s recent solo album, Down There, it’s also really great. True – it isn’t the kind of earth-shattering display of innovation that Panda Bear‘s Person Pitch and latest album Tomboy are, but still, a damn good album from a damn good artist. If one were to start tossing around the inevitable Lennon-McCartney comparisons everyone does when talking about songwriting duos, the darker, divorce-inspired Down There might put Tare in the Lennon spot in contrast to the euphoric uplift of Panda’s Bear‘s recent work, which would put him in McCartney’s.

Less sample-based than Panda Bear‘s work, with slightly (oh so slight) more conventional pop-songwriting, Down There feels weird and at the same time like something listeners are more familiar with. Maybe it just feels more down to Earth or the construction of the songs is just closer to the verse-chorus-verse structure we’re more used to. I’m not exactly sure – it definitely still has that organic, ephemeral quality that characterizes all the collectives work of late, with every sound moving, shifting, sliding, floating.

My favourite track on the album is easily “Heather In The Hospital“. Supposedly inspired by his sister’s battle with cancer, it’s a dark album’s most hollow, haunting track. Tare’s vocals are low in the mix and it sounds as if you’re hearing a distant echo from down the halls as Tare sings, “The windy day/Let it pass away/Now I can’t hear the crying.” It’s one of those cases in which the saddest sentiment is also the most powerful and moving.

The Greenhornes

March 26th, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is kind of famous by proxy of another band, which itself is also famous really because of another band. However, they’re still a really legits band. The band of the week is…

THE GREENHORNES!!!

You – yes, you reading this – sort of, kind of know The Greenhornes. Maybe your eyes scanned their name quickly once or you overheard something or maybe you caught the song of theirs that was used in Jim Jarmusches‘ film Broken Flowers. The reason you kind of know them is because bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler are the rhythm section in The Raconteurs – their band with Jack White and Brendan Benson. What most people don’t know is that they’re a great garage band in their own right who’ve been slogging it out since 1996.

So, as we all know, about 10 years ago we had the garage rock revival in which The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Hives and The Vines spearheaded a return to like…good music. That way also included The Greenhornes, who made a kind of lunge for the big time also, most successfully with their 2002 album Dual Mono. In years to come the album may seriously be recognized as a classic (out) of its time. It’s just a solid album with classic retro rockers (“Satisfy My Mind”), dark smoky duets with female singers (“There Is An End”), and pure, shameless power-pop (“Gonna Get Me Someone”).

They made an EP that was released on the once-really-cool V2 label before that fell apart and the rhythm section got recruited by Jack White for not only The Raconteurs, but Lorreta Lynn‘s backing band on the incredible Van Lear Rose album (that White produced). Their latest album – their first since 2002 – is 2010’s ****, or ‘Four Stars‘.

Truth be told, the album sounds very after the fact. The sound of the early 00’s garage rock revival that The Greenhornes continue to sport feels dated, and they’ve lost the momentum that one could feel in the excitement of Dual Mono. The annoying thing is that it’s not like garage rock isn’t still popular, but now what’s in is to sound like lo-fi psych-garage rockers updating the sound of bands like The 13th Floor Elevators (Black Lips, Harlem, Strange Boys). But damnit, they still know how to write some killer songs – namely, “Song 13”. True, it’s not exactly groundbreaking lyrically, but it’s just a phenomenally well-composed piece of rock. The lyrics work beautifully even if they’re not the deepest, and the production and arrangement are just spot on in every way.

The Greenhornes are not a band that deserves to die out, no band that can write songs this stellar should. If they can push themselves to stop writing overly-retro songs like, “Need Your Love”, they’ll be alright. I don’t expect it to happen and it most likely won’t, but whatever, they’ve made some truly great music. Most of us wish we could say the same.

Wye Oak

March 19th, 2011 | Features | 0 Comments

Oy, I’m totally falling behind on my bands of the week. So yeah, this will be a quick one. The band of the week is…

WYE OAK!

Yeah, these guys are getting some hot press right now for their great new album, Civilian. They’re kind of like this cool, ambient ‘adult’ pop band from Baltimore, maybe with some folk overtones and shoegaze tendencies.

The album is just phenomenally well put together, the songs feel beautifully constructed, full of feeling and incredible, semi-melancholic melodies wrapped together in appropriate, ‘pretty’-leaning production. It’s weird, I was listening to it thinking, “This album is like ten thousand times better than the new Strokes album, but of course ten thousand times more people are going to hear that than this.” Such a shame. Tis the music biz.

And yeah, I’m loving it right now. Really good song: “Two Small Deaths“. That’s about all I got for today.