Infinite Shuffle

November 28, 2011

91 – Real Estate

Filed under: Brooklyn, R — assman41 @ 7:52 pm

There is nothing I like more than finding new music to add to my Trance Mix playlist. It can get a little stale falling asleep to the same 40-50 songs all the time.

That’s why I was so pleased to hear Real Estate‘s new album, Days. It’s tailor-made for relaxation — just like fellow Trance Mixers Beach Fossils, Lower Dens and Wild Nothing.

The band really doesn’t stand out from those aforementioned groups. But no bother; the tunes are still great.

That little ditty was the big hit from Real Estate‘s 2009 self-titled debut. The five-piece band from Brooklyn — by way of Ridgewood, N.J. — made some waves on the indie scene with that release but then seemed to fade away just as quickly.

Since then, they have been doing their thing, touring with acts such as Girls, Kurt Vile and Woods, and even played at the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2010.

The new album dropped last month and has been getting a lot of positive reviews. The first single, “It’s Real”, should hopefully draw in some new fans like it did me.

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November 18, 2011

90 – Grouplove

Filed under: G, Los Angeles — assman41 @ 2:53 am

I’ve heard a lot of great music this year, but my biggest qualm has been that there have been very few albums that have stood out to me.

In fact, there’s only been about a handful that I’m even currently considering among the best of the year. But after hearing the debut release from Grouplove, I may have to add another one to the list.

The Los Angeles quintet — by way of Brooklyn and Crete (yep, that Crete) — has churned out a rather infectious collection of indie-pop/rock ditties that should help propel the group onto the radar of all the top music blogs and publications.

The rookie effort, titled Never Trust a Happy Song, came out Oct. 4 and was preceded by a self-titled EP last year.

I first discovered the band via the above track, which I heard on NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast. The show’s hosts, Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, immediately fell in love with the group — and with good reason.

Grouplove have a pretty familiar sound. Think Pixies, but poppier. Or maybe Los Campesinos!, but less annoying, more catchy and not British.

I found a short review from earlier this year that describes their sound better than I ever could.

They are quintessentially indie, with a whiny-voiced male frontman, a female singer who does alt-girl insouciance so faithfully Kim Deal could sue, and a bunch of sloppy-catchy guitar tunes that go, as per the old rule book, either quiet-loud-quiet-loud (the fast ones), or quiet … loud (the slow-build ones).

In addition to the above two songs, other strong tracks include “Colours”, “Lovely Cup”, “Naked Kids”, “Spun”, “Betty’s Bomb Shell”, “Chloe” and “Cruel and Beautiful World”.

The group is coming to Chicago in mid-January, but I almost definitely won’t be able to attend. So, with any luck, they’ll return quickly. Or, perhaps we’ll meet up in Austin for SXSW in a few months.

November 8, 2011

Threeplay from Down Under

Filed under: Australia, B, S — assman41 @ 2:54 am

I recently had a couple of consecutive days off and nothing planned, so I decided to devote my time to devouring a bunch of new music. I sifted through various blogs I had bookmarked and came across one that is run by a person in Australia. At And Pluck Your Strings, I found a “Best of 2011 So Far” post from July, so I figured I’d check it out.

Turns out, there was a lot of great stuff included there, including a number of quality bands from Down Under that I probably would never have heard of otherwise. Here are three that I found worthy of downloading, plus a bonus track from another Aussie group.

Big Scary

Of all the bands I listened to on the blog, the one I’m most excited about is Big Scary.

The duo of Tom Iansek and Jo Syme came together in 2006 and has put out several EPs, including a four-pack last year named after each of the seasons. Those were compiled into a release, appropriately named The Big Scary Four Seasons.

Last month, the group released its first proper full-length album, Vacation. It starts off very strong with such solid tracks as “Gladiator”, “Leaving Home” and “Mix Tape”.

Big Scary – Mix Tape

Other than “Falling Away”, the eighth of the 10 tracks, everything else is filler, but it’s at least above-average filler.

Judging by this release, Big Scary should be making some noise on the international scene very soon.

Also, I noted on their website that they are set to place at SXSW next year. One more reason — as if I actually required any more — to make a return trip to Austin in March.

Boy & Bear

Speaking of SXSW, unbeknownst to me, the band Boy & Bear were part of the festivities last year. I did not see them, but I did apparently listen to, and like, one of their songs during my preparation for the festival.

Vocally, the group sounds a lot like The Fray, with a little bit of The Avett Brothers mixed in. There’s also some Rural Alberta Advantage in there, but to a lesser extent.

Boy & Bear – Golden Jubilee

That tune is my favorite on the band’s debut full-length release, Moonfire, which came out in August. Other decent tracks include “Feeding Line”, “Milk & Sticks”, My Only One”, “House & Farm” and “Beach”.

Seeker Lover Keeper

One of the more pleasant discoveries on the blog was the Australian supergroup Seeker Lover Keeper. It consists of a trio of female singer-songwriters — Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby — all of whom have made a name for themselves in a variety of bands and, more prominently, as solo artists.

It would be as if Regina Spektor, Feist and Natasha Bedingfield all got together and put out an album. (I realize none of these women is from the same country, but you get the idea.)

Sidenote: Seltmann co-wrote Feist’s big hit, “1234” several years ago.

As you can imagine, the indie-folk/pop group has amazing harmonies, with each singer getting her share of time behind the mic.

The best song on their self-titled debut album is probably “Even Though I’m a Woman”. Another great track is the closer, “Rest Your Head On My Shoulder”, which does a great job at highlighting each individual voice as well as the three-part harmonies.

Seeker Lover Keeper – Rest Your Head On My Shoulder

YesYou

Another group I discovered on the blog was YesYou, which is the Brisbane-based duo of Jono Kirkham and Gav Parry. So far, they have only put out one easily downloadable song, “Half of It”. Here is said song, as well as a link to a remix.

YesYou – Half of It

November 4, 2011

89 – Royal Bangs

Filed under: Knoxville Tenn., R — assman41 @ 3:53 pm

In preparation for seeing Royal Bangs a few days ago in Chicago, I downloaded all three of their albums but only had time to listen to one in advance of the show. Naturally, I picked the most recent, Flux Outside, which came out this past March, since I figured that most of their set would come from that release.

For the most part, it sounded like some tight, solid indie rock. And early in their live show, things were going well. Playing between opening act Bear Hands and headliner We Were Promised Jetpacks, they managed to keep pace with those formidable bands.

But I quickly lost interest as their set devolved into little more than a cacophony of sound. And, as it turns out, that’s a pretty good way to describe their first two albums.

The Knoxville, Tenn., trio’s 2008 debut, We Breed Champions, is pretty rough around the edges — and at the core for that matter — but you can tell there is some potential.

Royal Bangs – Handcuff Killa

Just about every song includes glimmers of hope. Unfortunately, there are way too many superfluous sound effects. They need to just strip things down to the basics.

Things do get a little more accessible on 2009’s Let It Beep. But only a little. The band does a better job of focusing on its instruments, but it still messes with the distortion pedal and the effects too much.

Royal Bangs – Shit Xmas

After the first listen, I kept comparing the group to The Strokes. But upon a subsequent listen, I realize that such a label is doing a great disservice to The Strokes.

Thankfully, Royal Bangs finally start to tighten things up on Flux Outside. The first two songs, “Grass Helmet” and “Fireball”, start things off well, and they’re followed by a few other strong tracks, such as “Silent Steps” and “Faint Obelisk Two”.

Royal Bangs – Fireball

I would say more about this band, but I don’t really have the words. Royal Bangs are an acquired taste, and I don’t know if I have done so yet.

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