Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Autumn Defense - Ten Full Paces (Self-Released, 2013)

The Autumn Defense
Ten Full Paces

Rating: 7 humble birds out of 10

The Autumn Defense is a side project of Wilco players John Stirratt and Pat Sansone.  They don't particularly sound like Wilco though; well, maybe "Summer Teeth" era Wilco, but I'd put their sound closer to Big Star or The dBs or other quality pop acts of that ilk.  They released this sampler called "Ten Full Paces" that pulls tracks from their other albums and throws in a new song on top of it.   This is a handy collection if you're like me and have meant to check this band out for years but you keep forgetting.  Best of all, this sampler is free, you can go here and enter your email and they will send you a download link.  Use a garbage email address, get some quality pop music for free, the end. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Whatever Brains - Whatever Brains (Sorry State, 2013)

Whatever Brains
Whatever Brains
Sorry State

Rating: 8.5 crinkly film packages out of 10
For the third year in a row, Triangle weirdos Whatever Brains have released a self-titled record.  And for the third year in a row, these titleless albums have been amongst my very favorite things to come out that year.  Trying to come up with a fitting comparison for this band is about as hard as catching a fly with chopsticks for anyone not named Mr. Miyagi... when they are in their most conventional rock band mode, there is a strong whiff of Les Savy Fav (and subsequently, Fugazi), but that is only a small portion of the time.  A lot of moments make me think of the Fall, other times remind me of Liars, but the mix of all of these factos is very specific to Whatever Brains.  They are band to be listened to, not explained, to be perfectly honest.  Some acts defy talking points.  Even more importantly they are a band to be seen, and luckily living in the same area as them I've managed that multiple times as they play out often.  In the off chance they come to your town, don't be a dildo and miss the show.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rogue Wave - Nightingale Floors (Vagrant, 2013)

Rogue Wave
Nightingale Floors

Rating: 7 parking blocks out of 10

Rogue Wave came to be when I was living in SF, and those first couple of years I probably saw them live over a dozen times, booked them for shows I was helping put on, and even assisted a friend on a photoshoot who got hired by their label at the time (Sub Pop).  But then the band got bigger and busier and didn't play locally as much and honestly I stopped paying attention.  I just randomly saw they had released a new record this year, "Nightingale Floors," and figured why not see what they were up to?

The answer was as expected - catchy indie pop, just like on their previous albums.  The second song on the record "College" might be the second best song they've ever written ("10:1" off of "Descended Like Vultures" will always be their best song of all time).  The whole record is pretty damn strong.  You could maybe argue that the band still sounds pretty much the same as they did when they started, but is that really a bad thing?  Change doesn't always work, and Rogue Wave are damn good at this pop song thing. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Smith Westerns - Soft Will (Mom + Pop, 2013)

Smith Westerns
Soft Will
Mom + Pop

Rating: 7.5 menageries out of 10

I'll be honest, I've listened to Smith Westerns a number of times over the years but outside of a couple of songs, they've never really gotten my hackles up.  But on this go around all of the sudden I'm listening more closely, and really liking what I'm hearing. Is it that "Soft Will" is their best effort, or has it just caught me at the right time?  Who knows and I'm too lazy to go back and listen to their old records right now, what's important is this album is a slab of gorgeous pop music that sounds like it was unearthed from a time capsule buried twenty years ago.  It opens with a bang with "3 AM Spiritual," a song that sounds destined for an Apple commercial, and only gets better from there.  The record sounds very polished and hits a multitude of classic indie pop touchstones from the Stone Roses to the Ocean Blue to Suede and probably a bunch of others I'm too lazy to list.  Going even farther back though, they might sound like George Harrison more than anything else.  At least they picked the right Beatle to sound like.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Robert Pollard - Honey Locust Honky Tonk (Guided By Voices Inc., 2013)

Robert Pollard
Honey Locust Honky Tonk
Guided By Voices Inc.

Rating: Yep.

Robert Pollard released another record.  This one solo, as opposed to Guided by Voices or one of his many side projects.  I've lost count and I'm not even going to bother looking it up.  It's pretty good, more good than bad.  If you were to rank the 469 albums he's been a part of, this is probably in the upper quartile.  Definitely worth checking out.