Tag Archives: alternative

The perils of new releases

When an album you’ve been waiting for a long time finally comes out, it’s scary. I’ve got quite a few years of music consumption neatly organized on the giant shelf in my room at my parents’ house now, so I’ve known the feeling of putting on the new album of a band you adore and coming to the horrifying conclusion that it sucks. It hasn’t happened too many times, but that kind of disappointment is a pretty vivid memory. It puts a note of stress in the excitement of a new release.

I picked up Port of Morrow by The Shins on Tuesday night (Yes, I bought it the day it was released. They took five years to put the thing out–I wasn’t waiting another day.), and as I lay curled up in bed, listening to it for what is perhaps the fourth or fifth time, I am pleased to report that for me, at least, it’s not a disappointment.

On Port of Morrow, elements of each of The Shins’ previous albums blend with a new kind of maturity. James Mercer’s voice is beautiful and clear as ever; his lyrics are still these lovely, unique strings of words. The production is rich and warm. I’m going to stop now before this starts sounding more like a review than the ramblings of an excited fan who is eager to spread her budding affection for this album.

One of my favorites so far is the album’s opener, “The Rifle’s Spiral”. It’s a gorgeous, catchy track with a bit of darkness mingled with The Shins’ characteristic warmth. The lyrics are fantastic; James Mercer’s voice makes me so happy…so does the instrumentation (there’s a bit of a bass solo!). A fantastic album opener–settled my nerves and made me comfortable in the knowledge that The Shins were still awesome after five years gone. Listen!

Primitive mural on the wall,
to fortify your grim resolve.
And made the glitz of a shopping mall
another grain of indigent salt to the sea.

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Neglected Blog Is Neglected (And I just got home from the AP Tour.)

So, I have like three mostly-finished posts (including a mile-long paean to Brand New, written after I saw them live for the seventh time a few months back), but instead of finishing any of them, I am going to say this: GALLOWS, GALLOWS, GALLOWS, GALLOWS. …GALLOWS, GALLOWS, GALLOWS. Okay, there were other bands there, too, but…Gallows. Gallows were so cool. They were (mostly) all British, and all tattooed, and all playing fucking awesome music. And the lead singer and guitarist went into the middle of the pit for a while–the lead singer had us make a circle pit around him. Their set was so, so cool. And fun. And they were nice when they sold me merch.

As for the rest of the show, which I guess existed, the venue was only like a third full, and everyone in the crowd seemed like they had never been to a show before. People utterly failed at the wall of death Four Year Strong tried to create, and a couple of dudes were awkwardly hardcore dancing to Title Fight and The Swellers, which were not exactly hardcore dancing fare. Circle pit? Yes. Standard pit? Yes. Hardcore dancing? Huh? There were also lots of fail crowd-surfers. It’s hard to crowd-surf when there’s not that much crowd to surf on. Keep that in mind, people.

Kendal and I had a good time during Four Year Strong. We basically just moshed and jumped around a bunch, even though neither of us had much knowledge of their songs. That sort of thing has never stopped me from having fun at a show, and it definitely didn’t this time. They’re super energetic and fun, and crashing into people to loud music is the best form of therapy in the world.

I left the show ridiculously happy, and in possession of a Gallows shirt, some free posters, and a year worth of free subscription to Alternative Press. I have never liked the writing in that magazine, but have always enjoyed the pictures–namely, cutting them out to tape on things. I shall have many new magazines to cut out. It will be good. And um, to end this post: GALLOWS.


Okay, time to actually start posting again

I maybe, slightly, kind-of-sort-of forgot that I’m meant to be writing this, for a while. I have been working some, which I guess has expeller processed many other things out of my brain. Also, I’ve been listening to so much Yeasayer that it almost feels unfair to write about anything besides them, and I’m preeeetty sure there is a finite number of Yeasayer posts one blog should have (not that I’ve reached it yet, but I’m saving them, okay!). But now that I’ve done a Warped-recap post, all is healed, and I will magically have all of the motivation for posts again, right? ………………………………………….AGREE WITH ME!

One of the non-Yeasayer songs that has been giving me happy tingles this summer was made by an Irish band which is signed to a French label. The whole album it belongs to is pretty tirelessly upbeat, and is exactly what you need for all manner of driving-to-the-beach and sprawling-lazily-on-your-bed adventures. It would be highly appropriate during a picnic, or…frolicking. It would be excellent frolicking music. What I am saying is that this is one hell of a summer album, though I promise you can listen to it during other parts of the year, too. The album in question is, of course, the very excellent Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club, and if you want catchy things to make you happy forever, you should go buy it.

Though there is a number of standout tracks, including the awesomely bouncy “I Can Talk,” which is like my favorite song to listen to at the gym ever, the one I am going to be rambling about today is the relentlessly/awesomely upbeat and optimistic “Something Good Can Work”. Why this song? Because it is a-bit-under-three-minutes of joy recorded, ready to be sent into your brain at any moment. Bad day? “Something Good Can Work”. Stupid fight? “Something Good Can Work”. Sad picture on the internet? “Something Good Can Work”. Etc, forever. The ridiculously cheerful guitar tone, happy bass line, lightly Irish-accented (yes!) vocals, and the (SHUT UP DYLAN THEY’RE AWESOME) synth-y drums all combine for maximum joy-creation. …I’m just going to stop writing now, so you can be happy, too.

“Let’s make this happen, girl
We’re going to show the world
That something good can work
And it can work for you”

P.S. The uber-cute and really simple music video does not hurt in the slightest. Look at how adorable they are! Look at how high that lead-singer wears his guitar, and how floppy his hair is! I want to keep them in my pocket!

P.P.S. Okay, okay, I can’t do this. I’m not a monster! Have the “I Can Talk” video, too. It must be danced around the room to. DANCE!


My Australia obsession

I have, in recent years, cultivated something of an obsession with the fantastic, folk-tinged, summery alternative rock coming out (or rather, failing to come out–more on that later) of Australia. I have this thing where I really enjoy gorgeous, upbeat music, and Australians tend to make a whole lot of it. This, of course, leads to endless frustration and sorrow none of them ever tour the US or even release their music in this country. In their defense, the infinite frustration is totally worth it, because the music is awesome.

The latest object of my obsessive attentions is a recent addition to the Australian music scene which I so covet–they just released their first EP, With Emperor Antarctica, last year. And it actually charted! Boy And Bear must clearly be magic, because I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of musician mafia meant to keep first EPs from charting. It is against all the rules. Which, okay…it’s a pretty fantastic EP, all awash with lovely Fleet Foxes influences, but way more upbeat and energetic and filled with spiffy riffs.

The centerpiece of the EP, and in my mind, the absolute standout, “Mexican Mavis” has been receiving an absolutely incredible amount of repeat play from me from the moment I heard it. It started winning my heart right off the bat with some very pretty Fleet Foxes-esque vocal harmonies, and sealed the deal with a ridiculously catchy riff. Once I took the time to appreciate their singer’s sultry voice, and absolutely fantastic vocal delivery–I just love the way he curls that voice around the unusual turns of phrase that make up the lyrics–I was a motherfucking goner. (Though I probably would have fallen just for the riff. I’m easy like that.) This song is the perfect mixture of beautiful and energy-driven, and there’s so many more amazing things about it that you should go and discover for yourself right now,  and I should stop talking about it now so that you can join me in listening to it on repeat. Here is “Mexican Mavis” by Boy & Bear.

If they manage to keep safe skin
He’ll call for her
She’ll call for him


25th Post!

Finally, an anniversary type post! Why yes, it has taken me this long to get to 25 posts. That’s why this anniversary post is all special and shit–next one’s not coming for another 500 years. So, I figured I’d save the most special of songs, all-time favorites and such, for anniversary posts. Are you excited yet?

Good! Let’s take that excitement, and draw it out until the point of death with a long rant about music. I think saying that I love music would be stating the beyond obvious. There is music that is emblematic of every significant moment in my life; the right song  keeps me sane when I’m losing my mind, the right song that makes me happy when I’m sad. There’s this piece on piano that I have poured about every bit of negative emotion I’ve had since I’ve learned how to play it into. I don’t think I even have words for what music means to me, and I am full of the words!

The first time I listened to this album was the day I first toured Santa Cruz, and I played it non-stop for the scary, thrilling months that followed. It, along with the rest of this artist’s stuff, never fails to make me happy. The artist in question? He is one of my top five favorites in the world ever, not to mention the source of my raging obsession with Australian music. I’ve posted a song of his before, but this time, I’m whipping out what might be my very favorite one. It’s Josh Pyke time (which is the best time)!

Josh Pyke is Australian-accented, sunshine-dosed, beautifully-arranged, joy-saturated singer-songwriter wonderfullness. I have been obsessed since I bought his 2007 album, Memories & Dust–which I did not find out about until 2009, thanks to the very lovely fact that none of his albums so far have been out in the States. The next one, which is coming out in August, which I am way, way, way too excited about, might actually be out here. In which case he might actually tour here. In which case I might get to see him live, and die of happiness.

The song I have selected for your aural pleasure is a fantastic in every possible sense of the word–first off, it’s a waltz, which is something I love to pieces. But then again, there is nothing I don’t love about the damn thing. I love the piano part; I love the tone of the guitar, the absolutely fucking elegant arrangement. I love the warmth of his voice, and the fact that he sings with an accent–the pretty lyrics, and the flawless song-structure; love the verses (they do that thing where each successive verse intensifies), chorus, bridge (seriously, the bridge). Basically, this Josh Pyke can do no wrong, and this song has never even heard of wrong. I could hit repeat for days.

Here is “Covers Are Thrown.” Listen to it and feel joy.

And I kick them off,
In the night when we’re sleeping.
So we wake from our warm dreams,
To find ourselves freezing.

See you in another twelve years, motherfuckers.


This band….

Every once in a while, when listening to an album, I’ll think about how it found its way into my life. There’s lots of different paths that music takes into my collection—a veritable cornucopia of online radio stations, favorite playlists, and random occurrences. The way I came to know this particular band is probably the most interesting story out of the bunch. Now, I am really, really shit at taking music recommendations. “Listen to this band,” someone will say, and I won’t mean anything by it, but I will have forgotten all about it fifteen minutes later. I need to hear music to care enough to commit it to memory.

This band was recommended to me by a very interesting person I once met and knew briefly. And um, the only way I can cope with some of the memories of that particular acquaintance (when they come to mind) is by telling myself that outbreaks of skull-crushing awkwardness are an essential part of every teenaged life. Man, thinking about myself at sixteen makes me feel old…That being said, that first meeting definitely numbers among the most interesting first meetings I’ve had, and it was during that first meeting that I was recommended Nightmare of You. (Just ‘cause a story’s interesting, doesn’t mean I’m actually telling it. :P)

I wound up actually listening to this damn band, of all the bands anyone has ever told me to listen to. And man, I am really, really glad. They are so cool, you guys. Their lead singer, one Brandon Reilly, previously of The Movielife and even more previously of The Rookie Lot, a band that contained most of the people that would go on to form Brand New, is a pint-sized collection of cynicism, sweaters, awesomeness, and really good quotes. Their music is some combination of upbeat, 80s-via-Smiths-and-Cure melodies and riffs and fabulous, vitriolic, clever lyrics. It’s everything anyone could ever want. You and everyone you know should love them.

The song I have for your consideration today, from their self-titled, while one of the best songs on the album and anywhere, is not usually my “let’s pimp Nightmare of You out to everyone I know!” song of choice. Granted, that is because that album has a song called “In the Bathroom Is Where I Want You” and a song with a music video that involves a clone of Brandon Reilly being beaten to death by the band. However, I am really feeling it today, and shouldn’t a song that can beat out those other, ridiculously awesome things get your attention? The song in question is upbeat as fuck with a really fun riff, and some brutal, accusatory lyrics. There are horns and synth and a catchy chorus driven by a strong beat. There is what is possibly one of my favorite bridges in any song ever. There is Brandon Reilly’s awesome voice. This song is so good. So, so, so good. “Why Am I Always Right?” by Nightmare of You. Listen to it. Listen to it now.

Stick a fork in a socket
Do what you like
Just make sure that I’m far out of your life
Take an axe to your fingers
Carve your eyes
Cut out your tongue and we’ll call this a tie
Cut out your lying tongue and we’ll call this a tie


Something nice to perk up your late morning/early afternoon

What I have learned this week is that every time I sit down to write a blog post, people come over to our house. 😛 Which I do not mind in the slightest, because people..but it also means I’ve been trying to write about this song for an indeterminate number of days. All the things I’ve done have been pretty fantastic. The party on Saturday was fuuuuun. All the random hang-outy things we’ve done this week have been fuuuun. Life is pretty good, I’d say.

Since life is good, some fantastic, pop-y Dutch indie rock is definitely called for. Voicst are an absolutely precious band from Amsterdam. You can tell they’re awesome even before hearing their music because they are named after a stray cat that hung out at their very first practice space. That is pretty fuckin’ cute. Their music, however, definitely helps. It is fun, upbeat, and in my opinion, really well-mixed.

This song, off their 2008 album A Tale of Two Devils, is really, really good. It has a) an infinitely catchy and sing-alongable chorus b) verses with some really sweet backing harmonies c) a very cool bridge d) a really fun beat. It is also such a well-constructed song–from the intro with all the harmonies, to the way the bridge fades into the next verse, to just–the number of choruses (this is more important than you think). It is well-mixed and well put-together–if this song were a person, he or she would be well-adjusted as fuck. It is also upbeat and fun, with semi-simple-but-very-relatable-and-ever-so-slightly-bitter-sweet lyrics. Solid, solid pop-y gem of a song, with plenty of stuff for your good headphones.  I’ve made the decision to go with the music video for posting the song, because it showcases the band being adorable and really weird, even though they messed around with the song a bit for it. If you want to hear the album version, that is up on youtube and very easily found.

In case you don’t like this band enough yet, that song you hear a bit of at the start of the video is called “High As an Amsterdam Tourist”. Here is “A Year and a Bit” by Voicst. Love them.

Every day I am in this mess
I can’t help it and I think of you-ooooh-ooh
Just the top layer of the feeling
Enough to make me dig in all that I’m dooo-ing