Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana (Carpark, 2013)

Speedy Ortiz
Major Arcana

Rating: 7 bubble lights out of 10

I scanned another review of this Speedy Ortiz album and it said something about this being a throwback to the nineties, and then a friend mentioned one of my all-time favorite bands Polvo in comparison, so I had to check out this record ASAP.  The verdict?  It sounds pretty much just like Helium, so both comparisons were on point.  For those who don't remember, Helium was another band that Ash, the guitarist of Polvo, was a member of.  Sadie Dupuis' voice might be a little higher on the scale than Helium's Mary Timony, but outside of that I'm not seeing a ton of differences.  Don't read that as an insult though - Helium was a rad band, their music is coming up on twenty years old, and I'm guessing most young folks have no idea who they were..so now the kids get their own new version of Helium.  Now lets wait and see if a new modern Sleater Kinney or Liz Phair pops up...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Holopaw - Academy Songs, Vol. 1 (Misra, 2013)

Academy Songs, Vol. 1

Rating: 7 peppermint candies out of 10

At one point I was really into Holopaw, back in the early 2000s, due in equal parts to my love of Ugly Casanova (a side project of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, featuring Holopaw singer John Orth), and getting free review copies of those first couple records they released on Sub Pop. Then I kinda spaced on the band's new material, though I often revisited that first self-titled record as well as Ugly Casanova over the years. But somehow I got back on task with this most recent record "Academy Songs, Vol. 1" and I'm very much glad I did. 

I'm not even sure what the fuck you'd call this band - space country?  Nobody has a voice like Orth, it's breathy and deep and there is vibrato all over the place that matches up well with the band's shimmery guitars.  The overall sound of the band seems more important than individual songs...at times while listening to the record I don't even notice they're play a new song, they sort of just meld together.  That's not the same as saying all the songs sound alike mind you, just that they work well together and there are no grand stylistic jumps between tracks.  

It's a good record from a band most people have either forgotten or never knew existed.  Make an effort to search this out. 

Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (4AD, 2013)

Camera Obscura
Desire Lines

Rating: 7.5 small stars out of 10

I honestly can't imagine why Camera Obscura isn't beloved by everyone.  I can understand that bands like A Minor Forest or Saviours or Whatever Brains aren't for everybody, but when I listen to this group of Glaswegians and their perfect pop songs it boggles my mind that there are people who hear this music and think "that's terrible."  Tracyanne Campbell's vocals are amongst the best in all of music, indie or otherwise, so sweet you could mix it in your tea and fool even the most ardent Bojangle's fan (note: this reference may not make sense outside of the south...or in it for that matter).  I suppose you could dock them points since "Desire Lines" sounds more or less like everything else they've released, but I like their sound and am personally glad they haven't much wavered from it. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Airstrip - Willing (Holidays for Quince, 2013)

Holidays for Quince

Rating: 7 paint swatches out of 10

Once upon a time there was a band called Veelee made up of a couple.  They once played a Young People cover and were all-around awesome (the awesomeness should be implied by the fact that they covered Young People as it's a sign they have excellent taste in music).  Then that couple broke up, and the dude half started this new band called Airstrip.  They released a record called "Willing" and then a good six months later I got off my lazy ass and decided to write something about it.  Because just like his previous band, Airstrip is all-around awesome, but differently awesome.  This band is darker, heavier...at times they sound like a metal band who decided to play indie rock.  The lyrics might also be dark but I never pay much attention to those - certainly they don't seem to be about puppies and kittens and rainbows.  If they weren't local and on a local label, after listening to this I'd assume this was a Sacred Bones release.  That may or may not make sense, but for some reason it's a thought that sticks with me. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mikal Cronin - MCII (Merge, 2013)

Mikal Cronin

Rating: 8.5 golden turnips out of 10

It's so nice to see some of the kids embracing pure pop as an art form, and Mikal Cronin is one of the best up-n-comers on the scene.  He gets street cred through his connection to Ty Segall, but his music is much more polished and straight-forward than most of the material in that garage-pop-punk scene.  Mikal is writing music that would sound at home on a Teenage Fanclub record, or before that a Big Star record, or before that a Beach Boys record.  Ok, the guitars are maybe a little heavy for the Beach Boys, but the hooks are definitely there.  His self-titled first album was a great start, but "MCII" is a huge step forward in my book.  Was it maturation?  Merge money?  Sheer luck?  I don't know and I don't care, so long as I get to keep listening to this record over and over and over.  If this album isn't near the very top of my year end list come December, that means the last half of this year is going to be one of the greatest new music time periods ever. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Zig Zags - Scavenger 7'' (Who Can You Trust, 2013)

Zig Zags
Scavenger 7''
Who Can You Trust

Rating: 7 scoops of food out of 10

I don't know shit about the Zig Zags but I know this label and that was reason enough to see what the band had up their sleeves on this short player.  They're doing that stoner-psychedelic-punk thing that is so popular with the kids these days, and old dudes like me too!  Side A "Scavenger" is an upbeat scorcher, if you told me this came out in 1981 and was on one of those Killed by Death compilations I'd totally believe it, it really has the dirty vibe of most of the songs on those records. "Monster Wizard" is on the other side, and not as the front of the platter, but good.  A little slower/stonier/more psychedelic and less punk than Side A, but they both definitely sound like the same band.  Looks like I need to do some research and see what else these kids have been up to, because this is enjoyable shit. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Odonis Odonis - Better EP (Buzz, 2013)

Odonis Odonis
Better EP

Rating: 7.5 half drunk Molsons out of 10

The Toronto band Odonis Odonis apparently describe themselves as "industrial punk," or so the internet tells me, and I think that is a fairly accurate description. The band burns through six songs in fifteen minutes with a Ministry-meets-A-Frames fire.  The drums and bass are the good kind of repetitive and the guitars waver back and forth between surf rock riffage and complete buzzsaw action.  They really do remind me a lot of A Frames (and additionally the off-shoot, Intelligence) for the bulk of this short player.  This is a high compliment in my book, as I love A Frames as much as almost any other band in the world, and any reminder of their glory is welcome.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle - Perils from the Sea (Caldo Verde, 2013)

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle
Perils from the Sea
Caldo Verde

Rating: 7 dirty piles of clean laundry out of 10

This collaboration between Mark Kozalek and Jimmy LaValle may not really sound just like the Postal Service, but it will remind you of them in that both the Postal Service album and this one have the same construct - a well known voice in the indie rock world paired with a guy making mellow electro-pop sounds.  It sounds pretty much how you expect, like a Kozalek record with slow dance music backing his vocals.  It's entirely possible this is all in my head, but I wonder if Koz doing that record of Modest Mouse covers had a lasting effect on how he now sings songs?  I'd swear a number of tracks here sound like Isaac Brock.  Anyways, long story short but this is pretty enjoyable.  Assuming you like Koz that is, because despite the change in backing music his voice still very much drives anything he appears on. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last Year's Men - Clawless Paw 7'' (Sophomore Lounge, 2013)

Last Year's Men
Clawless Paw 7''
Sophomore Lounge

Rating: 7 dried out sharpies out of 10

Local lads Last Year's Men have presented 2013 with a pleasant seven inch of their jangly garage sound.   Side A track "Clawless Paw" starts off with a fury reminiscent of another local Triangle group Whatever Brains, but that comparison instantly drops when Ben Carr's vocals kick in and you get that Last Year's Man sound that somehow sounds sweet and grimy at the same time.  The flip side "What I Can Get" is a little "janglier" than the first track, sounding like a lo-fi outtake from their full-length record released a few years ago, "Sunny Down Snuff."  A great couple of songs that hopefully people outside of the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area are giving a shot.