Here is my fellow South Carolinian, Stephen Colbert, and his new music video. This has something to do with some Korean pop star named Rain. I have no idea but it cracks me up.
Continuing within the fertile grounds of the UK scene, Glasgow, Scotland’s Stapleton is yet another amazing band. Stapleton are gearing up for the release of their long-awaited new album, Rest And Be Thankful, which is set to appear in early May. Rest And Be Thankful follows up the band’s tremendous 2005 album, Hug The Coasts. Much akin to my last Band You Should Know, This Town Needs Guns, Stapleton eschew the hectic pace of many of their peers for subtler melodic tones. I should have a review for Rest And Be Thankful in the coming months just as soon as I get my grubby hands on it.
VINYL CORNER / BEST NEW MUSIC
The Gaslight Anthem have skyrocketed from obscurity to being one of my favorite bands (and isn’t that what it’s all about?). Sink or Swim was one of my favorite albums of 2007 and my love for the band only increased after seeing them live twice last year. The band returns with a 2×7″ and four new songs right on the heels of the band signing to Side One Dummy. First off, the packaging is tremendous here. Was it necessary for just four songs? No, but a gatefold 2×7″ with red colored vinyl is just too damn cool.
The ascension of The Gaslight Anthem has astounded everybody (including the band) but it certainly is well-deserved. If Sink Or Swim didn’t convince you maybe four more great americana-laced punk rock tunes will sway you. Señor and the Queen picks up exactly where the band’s tremendous debut album left off. Only problem is that it’s too damn short. Four songs? I want so much more! If you have been around here for a while you might remember my ill-fated blog, Jeans And A White Tee (that still lives on, in my head at least). So, obviously, the closer here, entitled “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” is a definite favorite of mine. Wild hearts, blue jeans & white tee shirts! God, I love this band.
RIYL: Jawbreaker, Leatherface, Lucero,
Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
I recently talked with David Adedokun of The Daylight Hours last month. Here is the short Q&A.
Describe the band’s sound and major influences.
David: A lot of the record is rooted in alternative country. That sound seems to lend itself to good storytelling. And I love telling stories so I was anxious to see what I could do with it. As for the stuff I was listening to: Tom Petty, Damien Rice, Gram Parsons, Wheat, Josh Rouse…to name a few.
What is the songwriting process like for The Daylight Hours?
David: Songs usually begin with a solid lyric I find or a rough story I want to tell. Melody comes after I have a few good lines and I usually write choruses last. I often take forever to finish a song. They can sit for a year before they see completion, if they ever do at all. I analyze pretty carefully as I write because I find it hard to change things later when the song is done.
What’s the band’s opinion on file-sharing?
David: An artist at my stage in the game can’t really complain about having listeners regardless of how they come by his work. Once, in college, I did a cover of a song by a Canadian artist named Matthew Good. The guy playing on it with me put a recording on Napster. A few days ago someone told me they googled me and found that recording on an old blog belonging to some girl in Europe. Something kinda cool about that. But I don’t know… talk to me when I stand a chance to make a living at this and I might change my tune. Ha.
What’s on the horizon for The Daylight Hours?
David: I want people to hear this record, but I want to be smart about how I put it out there. So I want to get some people writing about it and downloading it. If it catches a few ears I’d love to take it on the road beyond my hometown. Meanwhile, I’m writing for the follow-up and playing shows here in Columbia (SC) with great bands passing through and some talented local bands too.
Andy Werth “Seeing Stars” (Self-Released)
When I got this disc in the mail, I thought it was by a band called Seeing Stars. Fairly cool band name but rather emo. With trepidation, I popped the disc in. To my surprise, it was the sound of classic pop instead. After some research (actually, looking at the press sheet), I discovered that the name of the disc is Seeing Stars and it’s actually by some dude named Andy Werth. Now I have no clue why Seeing Stars is in front of Andy Werth but I guess that is really neither here or there. On to the review.
So, I am listening to Andy Werth’s Seeing Stars and thinking my Mom might really like this. That’s not a shot at Andy and his band though. My mom likes some great old music. And that’s what Werth sounds like…classic pop music. It’s hard to draw comparisons here cause frankly, I am not schooled too much in this sound. But, I do hear a little Ted Leo at times. All I can say is Andy Werth writes a catchy tune. Rich instrumentation including piano and organ and a wealth of trumpets add character to Werth’s wry lyrics and melodic songwriting. All five songs are winners here with “Tower” being my favorite. Check it out for something a little different.
OK, so I know who Martin Dosh is. I have seen him in person drum for the great Andrew Bird on two seperate occasions. He is an amazing drummer to say the least. And I knew that he had his own project as well. So, why have I waited until now to check it out? Frankly, I don’t have a good answer. Wolves And Wishes is Dosh’s new album and it is full of mathy, jazzy instrumental greatness. I feel a bit stupid as this is Dosh’s fourth album now. Oh well, better late than never I guess. I’m on my way to check out the first three albums now. I suggest you climb aboard if you have not already done so.
Pomegranates debut, the Two Eyes EP, was one of my favorites of 2007. The band’s first full-length, Everything Is Alive, is a bit of a different beast though. On Two Eyes, Pomegranates attacked their songs with a youthful exuberance. However, on Everything Is Alive the band has grown up in a relatively short time. Here, Pomegranates lay back and let the material come to them instead. The songs are, dare I say, more mature and well-rounded. They offer more structure than the band’s original frenzied approach towards indie pop. The band’s enthusiasm might be missed at first but Everything Is Alive proves Pomegranates have way more to offer than just a good time.
Everything Is Alive was recorded and mixed in the span of six days. The majority of the album was tracked live and those elements add a great deal of character as well as a bit of spontaneity to the recording. Everything Is Alive is an album completely comfortable in its own skin. In essence, the album title is brilliant. Whatever flaws and callouses the band possesses, it is what makes them unique and it breathes life into Everything Is Alive.
With two vocalists who offer distinctly different paths, Pomegranates walk the line masterfully on Everything Is Alive. It is what the band surrounds those vocals with that is so exhilarating though. Pomegranates’ arrangements are cunning to say the least. There is inherent melody in the band’s song but there is also a subtle ambiance that intrigues throughout. Lyrically, the band shows off an impressive depth and maturity. The songs range from gentle caresses to anthemic sparks of energy but always possess a brilliant intimacy.
Over the last few years, indie pop has become stale and overrun with countless bands and inconsequential hype. Essentially, the genre has lost its soul. Pomegranates are able to reinvigorate a lifeless body with the earnest, hopeful spirit that emanates from Everything Is Alive. The record is a true, joyful expression of life and all the sadness and beauty therein. Who knew indie rock had such a wild, beating heart left on the inside?
I just got a hold of Tin Armor‘s 2007 debut, A Better Place Than I Have Been, and it is an endearing slice of indie/pop/punk. The band hails from Columbus, Ohio and just finished a tour with fellow Ohioans, the SAL-approved and awesome Annabel. Tin Armor bring to mind the warm tones of a band like Smoking Popes. Both teeter on the line between indie rock and pop punk with remarkable precision. I just ordered the band’s new 7-inch and I am hoping for more of the same. I will have a review up for that next month but until now, do yourself a favor and check out Tin Armor.
Sometimes you hear a band name and you have a good idea of what they might sound like before even listening. Teenage Cool Kids were one of those bands for me. Granted the name sounded more pop/punk to me at first. But, with a name like Teenage Cool Kids it just had to be a fun, right? And I was correct. Queer Salutations flashes by in a garagey lo-fi haze that recalls the great, but tragically underrated Scared Of Chaka. The band hails from Denton, TX but geography certainly plays no part in the band’s sound. Echoing bands as diverse as Meneguar and The Thermals to Built To Spill and Superchunk, the band is covering ample scenic territory here. But, where the band makes the greatest impression is when they slow the tempo down. On songs like “Reasons Why” and “Prose” you can see those Built To Spill comparisons truly coming to life. Other than a few songs that show a real depth, Queer Salutations is just a fun stab at lo-fi rock n’ roll. Teenage Cool Kids might come off as a bit amateurish but that is the band’s charm as well. This is all in good fun but it certainly is not going to change the world. I suppose with a name like Teenage Cool Kids, that was never the band’s purpose though.
RIYL: Meneguar, Oxford Collapse, Built To Spill
I recently talked with Keith Latinen of Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate). Here is the short Q&A.
Describe the band’s sound and major influences.
Keith: I guess I would describe our sound as a throw-back to the mid-90’s emo bands. The really pretty, heart-on-your sleeve gut-wrenching stuff that when you listen to it, you can tell the artist is pouring their heart out. So it’s only natural for our influences to start there- we’re talking Mineral, American Football, Appleseed Cast, Penfold, old Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab For Cutie, and The Get Up Kids.
What is the songwriting process like for Empire Empire?
Keith: The project started as a solo-project for me, so the first entire EP I did everything – all the instruments as well as the recording. At that point, I would write in blocks, so I would write every part for the first 30 seconds or so, then start the next part with guitars and build it up again. We actually recorded the full-length the same way, only Cathy played guitar as well. Nowadays though, Cathy or I will bring something to practice, or we just start jamming and molding it into whatever form it naturally takes.
What’s the band’s opinion on file-sharing?
Keith: At this point I think it would be foolish to be against something that is essentially the greatest form of advertisement. I think file-sharing has already helped us gain exposure as a band. It’s sort of a loaded question though, because we are all broke, and recording and pressing, and just being in a band is really expensive. It would be nice to be paid for every song someone downloads, but file-sharing is here, and I think it can help us more than hurt us. If it brings out someone to a show or makes us another fan, then that’s way more important than getting some change from a download.
What’s on the horizon for Empire Empire?
Keith: Right now, I am finishing the vocals up for our full-length, which we hope to put out sometime this summer. Past that, we are booking a tour for May, and hope to just keep touring and making music as long as we can.
Sakes Alive!! “Presents” (Self-Released)
(Artwork by Stan Doll)
As the first guitar chords ring out, you can tell that Rochester, NY’s Sakes Alive!! mean business. Initially started as a solo project of Chris Vandeviver, Sakes Alive!! have expanded into a full-blown melodic hardcore behemoth. The band blisters through three punk rock anthems that emphasize a frenetic, unhinged energy. Vandeviver’s raw vocals match the powerful roaring attack of the band. Lyrically, Sakes Alive!! touch on all the monotony of life and thumbs their nose at the apathy that instinctively affects us all. On “Riders United” the lead singer begs us all to come along on the journey:
Let’s be reckless riders of the roads already chose;
Nomads who drift from place to place
To follow their hopes
I want to thumb my nose, cut all my ties,
So I can celebrate my fucking life!
Beyond the music, I dig the way Sakes Alive!! approaches their craft. There is a professional quality to how the band handles themselves. Yet, they do it all in true DIY fashion. In reality though, it all comes down to the songs. Even at barely seven minutes, Sakes Alive!! are able to make one hell of an impression. If these first three songs are any indication, Sakes Alive!! will be a name on the tip of a lot of tongues sooner rather than later.
(You can download the songs from the band’s myspace player or here.)
Our Mistress The Sea
Your Money’s No Good Here (Fuck You)
Oh, the Playlist has been updated.
Radar Bros. “Slack Motherfucker” (A little cover song by some unknown indie rock band.)
Langhorne Slim “Rebel Side Of Heaven”
No Age “Eraser”
Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal”
The Details hail from Winnipeg. That poor city, I swear, every time I hear it mentioned I think back to the great Weakerthans song, “One Great City” where John K. Samson utters the phrase I hate Winnipeg over and over again. I simply can not help it. Where am I going with this? Well, it’s all an appropriate thought when listening to The Details debut, Draw A Distance. Draw A Border. In style and tone, the Details are mining that same sonic territory as The Weakerthans. Hell, Stephen Carroll from The Weakerthans even makes an appearance on the album with his pedal steel.
Much like The Weakerthans, The Details can go from thoroughly rocking songs to touching slower pieces at the drop of a hat. The band has a remarkable balance that they strike on Draw A Distance. Draw A Border. Lyrically, The Details are more about traditional storytelling rather than poetic lyrical nuggets though. Instrumentally, the band is wonderfully rich in tone. Pedal steel, banjo, cello, viola, trumpet, piano and organ all make their mark across the extensive landscape of Draw A Distance. Draw A Border.
I’m not gonna lie. There are several songs on Draw A Distance. Draw A Border. that could easily find their way onto your local modern rock station. But, somehow, that never seems to be a turn-off. The band sounds completely sincere in their approach. They are not trying to score a cheap radio hit or make some far reaching artistic statement. They are just telling stories through song. It might be a simple concept but on Draw A Distance. Draw A Border. The Details make it sound triumphant.
Do you guys prefer the player I have been using or would you like to have the option to use the snap.com player that once popped up for mp3s? Or would you like the option to use either/or?
Like this (scroll over with snap.com):
or the usual player:
or both. Either way, it does not matter to me. I was just curious.
And yes, Loma Prieta slays. I’ll have a review for their new record, Last City, up soon.
Itch – UK band that has been around the block. I always forget about these guys but they have a new album on the horizon and the new songs sound great.
Mirror – Exciting, jazzy, instrumental stuff from Japan. On, Then, In is the band’s 2007 debut album and it’s an impressive slice of mathy rock.
September Malevolence – The new songs this Swedish band have posted for their upcoming record are tremendous. Post-rock with vocals? Yes indeedy.
White York – New York band that play gruff pop punk rock. Just got the band’s new seven-inch in the mail!
The Read – Cincinnati band that owes more than a few licks to bands like Gang Of Four and Q And Not U. The band’s demo is rough but promising.
I remember purchasing Unwed Sailor’s debut, The Faithful Anchor, when it first came out way back in 2001. I don’t think I had an appreciation for how good that album was until a few years later though. You see, I was purchasing the album in hopes Unwed Sailor mastermind Jonathan Ford had recreated the math rock magic of his previous band, Roadside Monument. Due to my unfair expectations, Unwed Sailor languished in my collection for far too long. Since then, Unwed Sailor and Ford have crafted out a nice little niche for themselves within instrumental/post-rock genres. Nothing has ever seemed to touch on the simplistic beauty of The Faithful Anchor though. However, Little Wars may be the album that fans like myself have been waiting for since that initial introduction. The band has expanded and experimented more with each subsequent album it seems. However, Little Wars sees Ford and company reverting back to The Faithful Anchor‘s concise, upbeat movements. Here, Ford’s compositions are precise and stay within a solid melodic framework. Ford shows at times he can still get mathematical on your ass. However, the songs retain a much-appreciated warmness because of Unwed Sailor’s insistence on not pummeling you over the head with those well-worn patterns. While it might seem calculated to some, Little Wars is a fantastic and engaging affair the whole way through.
I swear I have been writing a review for Pomegranates new album, Everything Is Alive all week. I just can’t stop adding more instead of actually finishing the review. This is an album that took a while to hit me but when it did…wow. The band has truly grown leaps and bounds since their debut EP last year. I really can not say enough about how great this album is. Neck and neck with Antlers as my album of the year so far. Look for the review next week. Hopefully, I can do it justice.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s The Dexateens are giving away their new album for free for a limited time. All ya gotta do is go here to get your filthy hands on it. We all need a little more twang in our lives. So, don’t go breaking their Tuscaloosa hearts! Get on it!
The Very Hush Hush began in 2003 as the project of two classically trained pianists. Grant Hazard Outerbridge and Peter Bo Rappmund cover about every base imaginable on their second album, Evil Milk. While I am not familiar with the band’s first effort, this record is said to offer a nosier approach than the duo’s first album. Evil Milk works rather well as the noisy tendencies of the band clash with the subtle beauty of the duo’s piano background. Glorious feedback and rhythmic melodies wash over these movements as the band sounds almost improvisational in their varied approach. The Very Hush Hush choose not to delve into coherent vocals very often but when they do, on the tracks “Soul Projector”, “Wisteria Head” and “Maximillion,” it makes for a lovely proposition. “Gilded” closes the album off in a moving fashion spotlighting some of the duo’s piano work before spiraling into a wave of feedback. Touching all corners between My Bloody Valentine and shoegaze to glitch pop, Evil Milk is an impressive study in patience and talent.