Infinite Shuffle

March 28, 2010

21 – Those Darlins

Filed under: Murfreesboro, T — assman41 @ 12:01 am

The three girls that comprise Those Darlins are natives of South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia, respectively, but they consider their home base to be Murfreesboro, Tenn., where they originally met at the first-ever Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp. They recorded their debut album in New York City with the same guy who produced Vampire Weekend’s first LP.

So, from that description, you can probably detect something of a contradiction in genres.

But before I delve into the band’s sound, I should probably provide a bit of a personal backstory.

The first time I heard of Those Darlins was in January when I received a Facebook invite from a radio station in Charlottesville, Va., that was sponsoring a show of theirs. Obviously, I would not be attending said show, but considering my love of the station, I locked away the band’s name in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to early March, and I’m preparing for a trip to St. Louis to hang out with friends and watch some college basketball. I didn’t feel like going to games the first night I was in town, so I looked up concerts in the local alt-weekly. One of the editor’s picks was for a Those Darlins show.

So, I figured, why not? I downloaded their debut album and listened to it four times during the drive to The Lou.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I started listening to the self-titled album, but from the opening lines of “Red Light Love”, I was hooked. (Sidenote: I know I’ve heard that song somewhere before, but I have no idea where)

The band can’t really be pegged into one clear genre. It describes itself as country/punk/pop. The initial description I recorded on my cell phone during the drive was: “Those Darlins are like a mix between Dixie Chicks and Vivian Girls. Their music is something of a modern country-honky-tonk hybrid, but it’s infused with an indie-punk ethos.”

Eloquent, I know.

Here are some of the labels I gave their various songs after listening to the album recently for a fifth or sixth time: “garage rock”, “country”, “very country”, “garage/country”, “Appalachia country”, “honky-tonk”, “honky-tonk that comes from an Old West saloon” and “indie-punk country”.

So, I was clearly intrigued my their music, but after seeing them live, I was blown away. Most of that country vibe was replaced with a punk rock/riot grrl edge that I just fell in love with.

As a band, they’ve been getting solid reviews from some of the top tastemakers in music journalism, but they still don’t even have a Wikipedia page.

They do, however, have a MySpace page and official website where you can hear for yourself what they sound like. Their best, most widely accessible song is probably “Red Light Love”, but here is my personal favorite …

Those Darlins – Who’s That Knockin’ At My Window


March 21, 2010

20 – Shout Out Louds

Filed under: S, Sweden — assman41 @ 12:01 am

As I sit down to write this, I can’t help but think that this will be the worst review I’ve done so far. Not because I hate the band — quite the opposite actually — but because I simply can’t figure out a good way to describe the music.

The Shout Out Louds are kinda like Los Campesinos! but not as wild or as British. In fact, they’re from Stockholm.

They’re sorta like Camera Obscura, but not as dreamy-sounding, and they’re fronted by a guy.

Their vocals might call to mind the Magic Numbers, but they’re not nearly as loaded with harmonies.

Another band that kept popping into my head was The Cure, but I just couldn’t really pinpoint why. After repeated listens, I started to hear it more often, both in the vocals and the instrumentation. But I still thought my ears were playing a trick on me.

Then I read some customer reviews on Amazon, and, apparently, everyone else was hearing the same thing as me. And they kept referencing the same album — The Cure’s The Head on the Door from 1985 — as an obvious influence.

Some other labels one might use to describe the band include indie rock, indie pop, twee pop and shoegazer pop.

However you want to describe the Shout Out Louds, one thing that is certain is that their music is pretty solid. And after recently releasing their third studio album, it’s clear that they’re still improving.

Their debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, received the most critical praise thus far. It provided the music world with a peppy, rocking, slightly distorted introduction to the Swedish quintet.

On their 2007 follow-up, Our Ill Wills, the band smoothed out some of the rough edges and continued to develop its sound. I first discovered the Shout Out Louds through this album’s two big singles, “Tonight I Have To Leave It” and “Impossible”, which are still my favorite tracks of theirs.

The group just released its third disc, Work, on Feb. 23, and it is definitely the band’s best work to date. While none of the tracks have stood out yet as being dominant, all of the songs are above-average, and there’s no real filler to be found.

In fact, the same could probably be said for all their albums. There’s really no bad songs anywhere.

You can listen to six of those solid tracks at their MySpace page and a few more at their official website, where you can also download a special Passion Pit remix of one of their new songs.

Here’s one of my aforementioned favorite tracks. You should be able to detect the Cure vibe pretty easily.

Shout Out Louds – Impossible

March 14, 2010

19 – A Place To Bury Strangers

Filed under: Brooklyn, P — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Unlike the past couple bands I’ve reviewed, A Place To Bury Strangers might have too much going on in their songs.

The Brooklyn-based noise rock trio follows in the footsteps of such groups as Jesus and the Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Nine Inch Nails.

But on Exploding Head, the group’s second and most recent full-length album, all that distortion belies some pretty solid hooks that conjure up memories of The Cure, Joy Division and U2.

From the beginning of the first single, “In Your Heart”, you can’t help but think of Bono and the boys. Then it fades into some White Lies and Joy Division sounds. The next track, “Lost Feeling”, is something of a continuation but without the glaring U2 influence.

My favorite song, “Keep Slipping Away”, had more of the White Lies vibe, but there was also a nice mix of Cure-style guitar.

“Smile When You Smile” and the title track each use a nice keyboard beat and some faster drums to pick up the pace a bit. The latter song also has some more of that U2 and Cure feeling.

On the album’s closer, “I Lived My Life To Stand In the Shadow of Your Heart”, it might be hard to detect underneath all the distortion, but the vocals are definitely reminiscent of Morrissey.

Overall, I’m not fawning over A Place To Bury Strangers — it’s just too much noise and distortion. But I will definitely hold on to a few of their tracks.

You can hear 10 songs on their MySpace page or watch some videos and listen to a few tracks at their official website.

A Place To Bury Strangers – Keep Slipping Away

March 7, 2010

18 – The Antlers

Filed under: A, Brooklyn — assman41 @ 12:01 am

My brother went to an Editors concert a couple weeks ago in Chicago and caught the last couple songs by the opening act, The Antlers. In addition to raving about the headliners, he said he thought I’d like their predecessor.

I’d apparently heard about The Antlers at some point last year because I had their latest album on my iTunes, and I also remember one of NPR’s critics hailing it as one of his favorites of 2009.

I figured both of those sources are generally reliable when it comes to music, so I’d give it a listen.

Then again, I guess no one’s perfect.

Last week, I complained about Beach House’s first two albums being too simple and not having enough going on. Well, if I thought they were too one-dimensional, then I guess Hospice by The Antlers must not have any dimensions at all.

The album is like one long dirge, with just the occasional uptick. I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the album’s overarching storyline — that of a hospice nurse assigned to take care of a young girl who is terminally ill with bone cancer. The fact that the life and writings of Syliva Plath are a huge influence just adds to the somber tone.

Musically, the trio from Brooklyn is in the same ilk as Beach House and Bon Iver. The Antlers share more than that with the latter artist, who, as the now popular backstory goes, holed up in a secluded cabin in Wisconsin to record his breakout hit album, For Emma, Forever Ago.

Front man, Peter Silberman, started The Antlers as a solo project, recording several albums in his New York City apartment, including one in his bathtub. But, judging from this overview, I’m not too sure it’s worth it to listen to those earlier efforts …

… self-recording a handful of albums in a kamikaze fashion — Uprooted (recorded just before and after moving in 2007), The February Tape (recorded in a bathtub in an hour), In the Attic of the Universe (a single ambient song stretched into an album), and Cold War (an album with only acoustic guitar and vocals, recorded in a week) …

As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of The Antlers. But if there’s one thing you should take from my experience it’s that you can’t always rely on what someone else thinks.

I’m not gonna waste the time, effort or server space uploading a track. Just check out their MySpace page. The single “Two” isn’t bad.

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