I’ve been enjoying ‘Painted Indian’ for the last couple of weeks but have been so caught up with life that I haven’t had a chance to write about it. Brooklyn goth-pop band Minks released their debut album By the Hedge in 2011 to much acclaim. Though I was already aware of the band through their earlier 7“‘s, one of which featured the incredible summer-bummer ‘Funeral Song’, I never actually made it around to listening to their debut effort.
Two years down the track and Minks are back on my radar in a more straight forward capacity. The opening chords of ‘Painted Indian’ reference their previous work, before the song changes direction, jumping into an incredibly catchy chorus that (and I apologise for this next bit, though teenage me would have loved it) weirdly gives off a Tokyo Police Club / Born Ruffians mid-2000s vibe.
No longer indulging in the goth-pop that initially brought them popularity, though still fitting comfortably within the Captured Tracks roster, ‘Painted Indian’ is a tightly focused pop song that now only hints at, rather than draws directly from, luminaries like The Cure.
Minks second album Tides End isdue out August 6 on Captured Tracks. I look forward to seeing if this change runs throughout the album or is confined to this one song.
Obvious Disclaimer: I don’t listen to DJ’s / mashup / dance music. A lot of your typical ‘electronic’ music just does not appeal to me. I have no interest in that scene (i.e. I would choose a dive bar over a club any day) or the monotonous and overly repetitive 4/4 bass beats that accompany it.
One electronic musician that I do listen to though is Pictureplane. Since releasing his fantastic future-pop LP Thee Physical in 2011, bar a remix LP that was released the same year, all has been quite from Travis Egedy, the man behind the Pictureplane moniker.
‘Pure War’ marks Egedy’s return and while it is not as immediate as anything off of Thee Physical any new output from him is warmly welcomed. Released as part of the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game soundtrack (the track makes much more sense in this context), ‘Pure War’ introduces itself with an intimidating heartbeat-style sound and numerous attacking synths that are eventually joined by a thick distorted bass line. It’s great to once again hear Egedy’s voice, and I for one am hoping that this is a sign that we will have some more new Pictureplane material coming in the near future
The Injustice: Gods Among Us soundtrack is out now.
It’s been a long wait, but LA duo Io Echo’s debut album Ministry of Love has proven to be well worth it. Mixing eerie dark-wave with an increasingly popular gothic style, Io Echo show a clear understanding of current trends leading Ministry of Love to tick all of the right boxes for 2013.
The title track is both powerful and anthemic, nodding its head to The Big Pink with whom guitarist Leopold Ross played bass for during their A Brief History of Love tour. Heavy instrumental layering provides an appropriate foundation for the seemingly epic choruses that Io Echo’s songs inevitably build up to, while Ioanna Gika’s haunting vocals, reminiscent of Zola Jesus, remain present and powerful even when surrounded by crushing guitars and splashes of electronics.
With a much talked about goth aesthetic, it would be easy for this duo to allow their visual appeal to take precedence over their music. While Ministry of Love does play up to current trends, Io Echo have created a strong set of songs through which their imagery runs as an undertone.
The first single off of Weekend’s upcoming album Jinx has them continuing down a familiar path. After releasing their debut, Sports, in 2010, a brilliant mix of noisy fuzz and pop hooks, and following it up a year later with their more refined, yet equally great, Red EP, ‘Mirror’ continues to clean up their sound while cementing their place as one of the best post-punk/rock bands going around.
Though no longer as overwhelmingly noisy as they used to be, ‘Mirror’ shows Weekend experimenting with song structure and style, creating a more contained version of their previous work. Where walls of guitars and noise would at times threaten to derail certain parts of Sports, it seems that Weekend now better understand how different sounds work within the scheme of an entire song. Knowing where their strengths lie, they have retained the core of what made them great (unbridled guitars and a driving rhythm section) as they strive to produce a more complete and coherent sound.
Easily the best ‘Weekend’ named band, I’ll be glad when I no longer have to explain in conversation that I’m not talking about the R&B The Weeknd (that shit sucks).
‘Mirror’ is a promising glimpse of what is looking to be an excellent album. Jinx is out July 23rd via Slumberland Records.
Wavvves was the last Wavves album that I really loved. While I was able to enjoy the majority of King of the Beach, I could never really work past the feeling that I was listening to a modern-day Blink 182. Wavves had changed from abrasive lo-fi ‘slacker’ rock into a watered down version of itself in order to be more ‘bro-friendly’ and it was something that I was going to have to get used to.
Since King of the Beach every new Wavves release has been met with feelings of apprehension and the question of just how complete will the crossover from Nathan Williams to Mark Hoppus be this time?
Credit where credit is due, Williams can write a damn catchy song and ’Sail to the Sun’ is a great album opener. Once the xylophone intro is out of the way, ‘Sail to the Sun’ essential boils down to what Williams does best, loud guitars with songs functioning purely as a means to deliver big choruses.
As a whole, the album is fine but it’s a long step from the Wavves that I love. I don’t expect musicians to make the same album again and again (as Williams’ once said in an interview: “I don’t want to be 50 and singing about skateboards and pizza”) but I feel that some of his initial appeal has been lost in the newer records. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth checking out the oft-overlooked non album track ‘Cool Jumper’ that was released back in 2009, it features Zach Hill (Death Grips, Hella) on drums and just rips!
With his fifth album Wakin on a Pretty Daze due out in just under two weeks, Kurt Vile has released a second track, titled ‘Never Run Away’, demonstrating his penchant for laid-back summertime folk-rock.
Displaying the same strong lyrical content and guitar proficiency that he brought to 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo, ‘Never Run Away’ brings with it a level of familiarity that fans of his previous work will welcome. This time though, with a noticeably more ‘complete’ and bolstered sound than before. His trademark drawl which was used to great effect on ‘Puppet to the Man’ is again featured alongside a well crafted chorus and even a… Rihanna-esque “eh eh eh” post-chorus
Definitely something to look forward to, Wakin on a Pretty Daze is out April 9 on Matador Records
2013 has been in a bit of a dry spell recently as far as I’m concerned and so I’ve decided to take a quick look back at Parquet Courts’ debut album Light Up Gold. Originally released on their own Dull Tools label in August of last year, it has now been re-released by What’s Your Rupture?, coming to my attention after they successfully bulldozed their way through both Festival Nrmal and a string of SXSW dates.
At times drawing from their stronger punk influences, while at others allowing subtle touches of country to seep through, this is in-your-face indie rock at it’s finest. Parquet Courts display a style and energy similar to what Eddy Current Suppression Ring brought to Primary Colours, packing Light Up Gold from start to finish with a series of high-powered riffs. While Light Up Gold does lean on the more aggressive side of indie rock, it’s catchy enough to not turn off the casual listener, finding itself covering similar ground to what Pavement did in the louder moments of Slanted and Enchanted.
‘Borrowed Time’ is the best representation of the album; overdriven guitars, exerted vocals and pounding drums all fashioned into a catchy two and a half minute indie rock gem. At 15 tracks in 33 minutes, this album barrels along with barely a break between songs. Light Up Gold is out now. You can get it here.
Girls Names’ second album, The New Life, is pretty much the only thing I’ve been listening to over the past two weeks. A dark and, at times, morose look at the world of post-punk; this four-piece from Belfast have excelled, creating what is currently my favourite album of the year so far.
Using the formula outlined in 2011’s Dead To Meas a framework, The New Life proves itself to be a stronger and far more durable album than its predecessor. This time around sees guitarist and chief songwriter, Cathal Culley, taking a more varied approach to his band’s music. ‘Pittura Infamante’ an intense and brooding song, is broken up as a bright guitar emerges from nowhere before once again dropping away to leave only a pulsing bass line while ‘A Second Skin’ purveys a sense of threat as its clever guitar/bass combination plays throughout.
While every track on the album has earned its place, it is the second single that really shines. From the start ‘Hypnotic Regression’ is ambitious. Echoing guitars are quickly joined by drums and bass, gripping you until the guitars re-emerge as a force. Faster and with a strong sense of purpose, it marks one of the best tracks on an already great album.
Cold Cave’s new two-track EP (which is technically a 7” unless it turns out that the b-side is at least 11 minutes long), is a great return for the band whose last release was their somewhat overlooked sophomore album Cherish the Light Years. Immediately hitting you with racing drums, Cold Cave founder, Wes Eisold, pulls back the usual wave of synths instead choosing to flood the track with heavily distorted guitars. While Cold Cave is an outlet for Eisold to experiment within the dark-wave genre, this track definitely touches on his hardcore past as it moves towards it’s frenetic ending.
I have a strange relationship with Beach Fossils. When they first appeared back in 2009, they were one of only a handful of bands involved in a very specific style of summer-infused indie rock. Jump forward to 2013 and a quick search will pull up any number of bands doing similar, and better, things. While I consider Beach Fossils to be an excellent band, their only release that has ever really held my attention was their 2011 EP What A Pleasure.
What A Pleasure brought about a noticeable shift in Beach Fossils’ sound. Allowing John Peña (bass, now Heavenly Beat) and Zachary Cole-Smith (guitar, now DIIV) to influence the songwriting, and pairing up with Jack Tatum (Wild Nothing) for ‘Out in the Way’, introduced an urgent pulsing quality to their previously nonchalant style.
Since then, both Peña and ZCS have departed from the band to focus on their own projects. This has left Dustin Payseur in a difficult position and has made it glaringly obvious as to how much he depended upon the input from those past members. Stating that this would be ‘a harder and faster album’, I was under the impression that he would be following the direction that DIIV took in the hopes of jumping onto some of their success. Instead Clash the Truth presents a more direct sound than before, crafted around a forced songwriting style.
Clash the Truth isn’t a bad album and Payseur does know how to write good songs, my main problem with it is the mostly lacklustre first half. Opening track ‘Clash the Truth’ is one of the low points of the album, featuring unimaginative guitars entwined with a particularly embarrassing spoken word section. Cutting the three unnecessary instrumental tracks (not saying that all instrumental tracks are unnecessary, just that the three on Clash the Truth serve no purpose acting purely as padding) and removing the painfully dull ‘Sleep Apnea’ would have made Clash the Truth a far stronger record, tightening its focus.
New single ‘Careless’ and the meaner and more aggressive version of the previously released ‘Shallow’ are perfect examples of where Dustin gets it right. Hard and fast tracks, filled with an abundance of energy and buzzing guitars, these make up some of the best songs on the album showcasing Payseur’s post-punk influences.
I don’t mean to seem too negative, again, this isn’t a ‘bad’ album and there are enough enjoyable tracks that will ensure I return periodically, it’s just that my expectations had been set to such a height. Clash the Truth shows that while Payseur has plenty of good ideas, if his songs are to be truly great he needs to learn how to transform these ideas on his own without relying on the help of others.
Listen to album highlight and closing track ‘Crashed Out’ above. Purchase Clash the Truthhere.
I don’t really understand why, but for some reason I feel a little embarrassed to admit to liking Haim. They are far cooler than another three-sibling band and their music is this pretty great type of catchy R&B-infused indie rock that is subtly reminiscent of Twin Shadow. At the same time however, probably just because it’s quite different to what I normally listen to, I feel a bit lame admitting that I enjoy it.
Surrounded by ever-growing buzz after releasing their debut EP last July, and being named the BBC’s Sound of 2013 at the start of this year, Haim have just announced a follow up EP with the release of the title track ‘Falling’. Built on subtle background guitar work and these repetitive stabbing bass lines, the song later launches into this fully formed Fleetwood Mac style chorus.
Definitely worth checking out, their second EP Falling is to be released April 1st with all likelihood of an album being ready towards the end of the year.
I don’t listen to Pure X’s debut Pleasure nearly as often as I should (in 2011 I listed it as my favourite album of the year). Since then though, I haven’t heard anything about them, it seemed as if they had disappeared. Until today.
The first single off of their follow-up album Crawling Up the Stairs has just been released and has me really excited. Dropping the waves of distorted and heavily modulated guitars in favour of a cleaner approach (much like Thee Oh Sees below), Pure X have created something that draws from their underlying Texan/Americana/Easy Rider roots while still maintaining what made Pleasure so excellent.
This album will be a perfect accompaniment to any night time driving. Crawling Up the Stairs is set to be released May 14.
San-Francisco’s most prolific band Ty SegallThee Oh Sees are getting ready to release their seventh album under their current moniker titled, Floating Coffin. Our first glimpse of the new material comes in the form of ‘Minotaur’ which passes over the usual frenetic noise in favour of creating what could only be called.. a garage lullaby. The clashing guitars and propulsive drumming are no longer present, replaced by background harmonies and gentle guitar lines (though still thick with distortion), I think there may even be a violin hidden in there somewhere.
Floating Coffin is out April 16
EDIT: I knew this sounded familiar, 100% sure they closed their Melbourne show with it.
Haunted Hearts - ‘Something That Feels Bad is Something That Feels Good’
Over the weekend I put some time aside to listen to the new 7” by husband/wife duo Haunted Hearts. While it can’t be considered a stretch away from either of their previous musical projects (husband Brandon is a member of Crocodiles while wife Dee Dee is a member of Dum Dum Girls) it has turned out to be my favourite release from either’s catalogue. Side A ‘Something That Feels Bad is Something That Feels Good’ incorporates their usual droning guitars alongside dual vocals and far superior song writing. This thing is cool.
Released on their own Zoo Music label, buy it here.
Melbourne based Cool Drinks released their new single ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose You’ late last year. Specialising in bummed out vocals placed over the top of woozy synths and layered guitars, it’s the steady beat that keeps this track from losing its way. If John Hughes ever makes another “coming of age” film, this would fit perfectly into its soundtrack.
My first introduction to Boomgates came last Thursday as they belted through a great set in support of Thee Oh Sees. I’ve been kind of vaguely aware of them for a while though without actually knowing much about them. Made up of members of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Dick Diver, The Twerps, Teen Archer and Trial Kennedy, they form a pretty phenomenal ‘supergroup’ (ugh) of sorts.
Sharing vocal duties, Steph Hughes’ cool demeanour combined with Brendan Huntley’s chaotic presence makes their live shows something to be seen. I haven’t been this entertained by a set in a long time.
Check out their track ‘Layman’s Terms’ above off of their album Double Natural