Infinite Shuffle

July 26, 2010

KEXP discoveries

Filed under: KEXP — assman41 @ 3:16 am

In addition to NPR’s All Songs Considered, my other favorite podcast is KEXP’s Song of the Day. Whenever I go on long trips, there’s nothing better than tearing into a ton of new songs and discovering some gems.

Here are three acts that I never would’ve heard of had it not been for the KEXP podcast:

Title Tracks

Title Tracks is the latest project from John Davis, who before this was one half of Georgie James — and before that the drummer in trio Q And Not U.

In his latest endeavor, Davis, who is based in Washington D.C., writes and records all the songs and is joined by several musicians on tour.

Musically, Davis channels a whole timeline of pop genres, including the ’60s British Invasion, ’70s disco scene, ’80s underground and ’90s twee pop.

At the same time, Title Tracks’ music sounds both refreshingly new and incredibly familiar.

Davis released his debut album, It Was Easy, in February of this year.

Here’s the standout single from said album.

Title Tracks – Every Little Bit Hurts

Romance

While listening to the KEXP podcast, Romance definitely jumped out at me as a band I thought I’d like. And after listening to their album, The Divide, I don’t dislike them.

The problem is, the Seattle quartet sounds too much like every other Joy Division wannabe that has flooded the scene the past few years. And they don’t really have anything else to set them apart.

I doubt I’ll delete them from my iTunes, since their sound would be a welcome one during a shuffle session, but I can’t imagine ever feeling the urge to play their music exclusively again.

Here’s the song that first piqued my interest.

Romance – Face on the Sun

North Twin

North Twin was a Southern rock band from Seattle that was reminiscent of The Hold Steady — with less distinctive vocals — and a little bit of The Band.

I say “was” because they recently disbanded, playing their final show on March 6 in their hometown. They were together for four years and put out two quality albums — Falling Apart (2007) and Stronger At the Broken Places (2009).

Here’s the song I heard on the podcast.

North Twin – Clear As Day

July 18, 2010

36 – House of Heroes

Filed under: Columbus, H — assman41 @ 12:01 am

I first heard House of Heroes a couple of years ago when I still had my little, portable XM player and would constantly record hours of programming from the XMU/SiriusXMU station.

I eventually downloaded The End Is Not the End, their third full-length album, at some point in early 2009. But I never gave it a proper listen until now.

I immediately remembered which song first stirred my interest in the quartet from Columbus, Ohio.

House of Heroes – If

When I started doing research on the band, I was disappointed to see that they’re often considered a Christian alt-rock band. While there’s nothing wrong with that, as an atheist, I’m usually immediately turned off anytime I hear a band described as “Christian.”

As far as their actual sound, you wouldn’t necessarily know they have any particular religious leanings. While listening to them, I just kept imagining them up on a stage at the Warped Tour — since they sound like any number of the modern emo-punk bands that are out and about these days.

Of the “related artists” listed by Amazon.com, I’ve only heard of a few of them, and I don’t really know much about them other than that they would fall into the aforementioned Warped Tour genre.

According to drummer Colin Rigsby, some of House of Heroes’ influences are The Beatles, Queen, Muse, Bruce Springsteen and The Clash. Personally, the only band I could detect in their music was the occasional grandiosity of Muse.

If my less-than-objective review hasn’t turned you off of the band, go check out their MySpace page.

They’ll be releasing their fourth album, Suburba, on Aug. 3 of this year.

I may or may not check it out.

July 11, 2010

35 – Paper Route

Filed under: Nashville, P — assman41 @ 3:01 am

On their 2008 EP, Are We All Forgotten, the band Paper Route exudes a mixture of Coldplay and Band of Horses, with a little Shiny Toy Guns and VHS or Beta thrown in for good measure.

Since forming in 2004, the quartet from Nashville, Tenn., has churned out five EPs — starting with a self-titled one in 2006 — and last year released its first full-length album, Absence.

I first heard about them last year in an issue of Alternative Press. I can’t remember what the blurb in the magazine said about the band, but it intrigued me enough to check out its MySpace page. And I instantly liked what I was hearing.

While several contemporaries stood out in their earlier work, on Absence, Paper Route’s sound had evolved enough to where it became difficult to pick out any certain influences. Instead, they had began to develop their own sound.

Paper Route – Carousel

Some of the bands that Amazon.com links to Paper Route include Mutemath, Phoenix, Keane, Owl City and The Temper Trap. That’s not too surprising, considering how important the electro aspect is to Paper Route’s music.

Here is my favorite song off of Absence:

Paper Route – Last Time

July 7, 2010

PROJECT WILCO: The Uncle Tupelo years

Filed under: U, Wilco — assman41 @ 12:01 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: While putting together my best-of-the-decade lists, I noticed there was nary a Wilco song or album in sight. I realized that’s because I’d never really given them much attention and probably had only listened to one album in its entirety. I decided to rectify that by listening to their entire catalog, so I could finally have an informed opinion on what many consider to be the greatest band of my generation. This is the first entry in the series.

Before you can start to delve into what makes Wilco tick, you have to go back to the band’s roots. And they’re planted firmly in Belleville, Ill., where, after a few early incarnations, Jeff Tweedy, Jay Farrar and Mike Heidorn formed Uncle Tupelo in 1987.

From the release of their first album in 1990 to their breakup in 1994, Uncle Tupelo were one of the most influential acts during the infancy of the alt-country movement. Playing country music with a punk ethos, Uncle Tupelo helped usher in the “No Depression” era — a term taken from the title of their debut album and used as a byword for the new genre.

When Farrar left the band — after his relationship with Tweedy had become too tumultuous — he would go on to form Son Volt, while the rest of the band would stay together and become Wilco.

I didn’t discover any of these bands until a co-worker included some of their songs on a mix CD that he gave me in 2005 or ’06. I was immediately taken with both the Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo sounds. It was clear that Farrar’s vocals were the focal point in the earlier project, despite his sharing singing and writing duties with Tweedy.

But after listening to the group’s Anthology, I realized how important Tweedy’s contributions were and could detect some of the style that would come out in the eventual Wilco recordings.

Here’s Uncle Tupelo’s biggest hit, which showcases Farrar’s vocals …

Uncle Tupelo – No Depression

… and here’s one that has Tweedy in the lead spot …

Uncle Tupelo – Screen Door

July 4, 2010

34 – Wild Nothing

Filed under: Blacksburg Va., W — assman41 @ 7:04 pm

So far, during the few months that I’ve been maintaining this blog, I’ve recounted several different ways that I’ve discovered a new band. Yesterday, I encountered a new one — sitting in the backseat of a poorly ventilated car while driving to the suburbs of Chicago for a holiday weekend get-together.

About halfway into the jaunt, after listening to the new Wolf Parade album, my friend threw in a disc of a band I didn’t recognize. After the first couple dream-pop songs absolutely blew me away, I finally asked who we were listening to — Wild Nothing.

The entire ride home we listened to the disc on repeat while using smart phones to search the web for anything more we could find about the group. It turns out it’s just one guy — Jack Tatum — and he comes out of Blacksburg, Va., of all places.

Seriously, I can’t believe anything besides country or bluegrass would come out of that podunk city. But I digress.

According to a Pitchfork review, before Wild Nothing, Tatum started a couple other projects, including Facepaint, a tropical punk act, and Jack & the Whale, which was your basic, introspective singer-songwriter affair.

But with Wild Nothing, Tatum channels such acts as The Cure, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and, more modernly, The Radio Dept.

As my brother described the music when I told him to look into it, “it’s got that airy fairy sound you love.”

It was “airy fairy” enough for me to fall asleep to it multiple times in the past day. I don’t necessarily have any favorites off the album, but I really loved every song on there.

Here are a couple for your listening pleasure.

Wild Nothing – Gemini

Wild Nothing – Bored Games

That second song is actually the title track of Wild Nothing’s debut full-length album. He’s also released a couple EPs with some solid B-sides. If you go to Wild Nothing’s MySpace page, you can hear a few tracks, as well as a cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting”, and you can also check out some homemade videos on YouTube.

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