Infinite Shuffle

July 27, 2011

77 – Cults

Filed under: C, Manhattan — assman41 @ 9:22 pm

The recent resurgence of all-girl groups on the indie scene reached a peak with bands such as Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls channeling the sounds of the late 1950s/early ’60s.

A couple of years later, Best Coast took that sound, cut the harmonizing down to one female voice and added a lo-fi, surfer/slacker vibe.

Now Cults comes along, with female vocalist Madeline Follin, who sounds like she could’ve been a member of The Shangri-Las or some other group from that era. Paired with instrumentalist and backup vocalist Brian Oblivion, the Manhattan duo has taken the girl-group sound back to its roots and slowed things down with a slightly gothy layer.

Cults – Bumper

The two New York University students formed a band in 2010 and rose to prominence when they released a three-song EP. In June 2011, Cults put out a self-titled full-length debut, to much critical praise.

Cults – Go Outside

The production seems sparse, but it’s complex enough that it’s inviting and not annoying.

Follin’s vocals call to mind a hybrid sound of contemporary singers Bethany Costenzo (Best Coast) and Zola Jesus.

Cults – Never Heal Myself

July 17, 2011

76 – Beach Fossils

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

A band’s name can sometimes be just as important as the music it makes. A name gives a band an identity and can often give the uninformed an idea of what to expect before pressing Play.

A lot of bands pick names that sound cool or are funny or have some inside meaning. Others just lay it all out on the line.

When you see names such as Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, you know what’s in store for you.

While nowhere near those aforementioned bands on the musical spectrum, the group Beach Fossils do share the trait of owning a pseudo-onomatopoeic name.

As their moniker would imply, Beach Fossils harken back to the golden age of surfer rock. But it’s stripped down to its most lo-fi form, leaving nothing but a guitar, a drum machine and some moderately haunting vocals.

Beach Fossils – Vacation

Putting out their self-titled debut LP in September of last year, Beach Fossils are the latest in of a wave — pardon the pun — of bands going extremely minimal in sound and instrumentation, resulting in an incredibly relaxing, almost trance-inducing sound.

Bands such as Lower Dens, Wild Nothing and The XX have all put their own personal stamp on this genre. What Beach Fossils bring to the mix is an unmistakable sun-and-sand-filled beach vibe, reminiscent of The Drums.

Beach Fossils – Daydream

About a year ago, I found myself listening to Wild Nothing’s album numerous times in a row — often falling asleep to the dulcimer tones. I’ve had a very similar experience listening to Beach Fossils.

So, it’s no surprise that the two Captured Tracks labelmates have combined forces on a release for Record Store Day this year — Gruesome Flowers: A Tribute To The Wake. I had never heard of the Scottish band, but it’s apparently well-known enough to deserve a tribute. On the 7″ release, Wild Nothing covered “Gruesome Castle”, while Beach Fossils put their own spin on “Plastic Flowers”.

Check out both tracks here.

In addition to the LP and split single, the Brooklyn four-piece put out an EP in March of this year, What a Pleasure, which, at eight tracks, should really be considered an abbreviated full-length release.

It’s just as strong as the first album and features Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum on the track “Out In the Way”. It also includes my favorite song so far by the group, “Face It”.

Beach Fossils – Face It

July 11, 2011

75 – The Naked and Famous

Filed under: N, New Zealand — assman41 @ 7:06 pm

The Naked and Famous might be this year’s Ladyhawke — an electro/indie-pop band from New Zealand that puts out a couple of amazing singles, but just can’t sustain the awesomeness for an entire album.

I first discovered the Kiwi quintet via my boy, Simon, over at Outroversion. (I’ve never actually met Simon, but I bet we’d hit it off smashingly if we ran into each other at a festival Stateside. What do you say, Simon, SXSW 2012?)

Now, it’s been awhile since I listened to Ladyhawke, but, if I recall correctly, I absolutely loved three of their songs and could do without the rest.

As for The Naked and Famous (TNAF), they dropped their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You in December 2010. I’m a big fan of “Young Blood” and “Punching In a Dream” and I’m also digging “No Way”. But as for the rest of the album, I could pretty much take it or leave it.

The Naked and Famous – Young Blood

It’s hard to pick out influences for TNAF, as they don’t necessarily sound like any one or two bands. I will admit that they do a good job of switching up their sound from song to song, but it’s still generally just an amalgamation of electro-pop sounds.

One band that did come to mind on a few tracks was Empire of the Sun.

The Naked and Famous – Punching in a Dream

Clearly, the band has the potential to put out some solid songs. So, I’ll be sure to keep a lookout for any new music it puts out. TNAF is actually gonna be at Lollapalooza this year, but I won’t be in attendance.

The Naked and Famous – No Way

July 3, 2011

74 – Spokes

Filed under: England, S — assman41 @ 11:28 pm

A week or so ago, I found myself scrolling through the pages over at my favorite blog from across the pond, Outroversion. I found several new bands that I dug and intend to look into further.

One of the bands highlighted by ole Simon was Spokes, a five-piece from Manchester, England. He noted that their new album, Everyone I Ever Met, was tabbed to win Mercury Music Prize next year. And after listening to a slew of songs on their MySpace page, I can hear why.

Spokes – We Can Make It Out

Simon said they sounded like a better version of Elbow. I’ve only heard one song from that particular British “it” band (“Grounds For Divorce”), but it sounded nothing like Spokes.

They label themselves as “alternative/ambient/pop,” a description with which I wholeheartedly agree. Especially the ambient part. Many of their songs have an almost symphonic feel.

In fact, their debut album, 2009’s People Like People Like You, consists of six long, drawn-out, mostly instrumental songs — only one of which includes any vocals.

But the tunes are so good, I didn’t even notice the lack of words until I was halfway through the album.

Spokes – Young People! All Together

When Spokes actually choose to employ singers, as they did on their second album, they evoke comparisons to Arcade Fire in their manifold harmonies and layers of instruments. The anthemic, almost chanting, vocals also call to mind Los Campesinos!, but in a much more accessible tone.

Spokes – 345

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