Infinite Shuffle

February 28, 2012

104 – Gotye

Filed under: Australia, G — assman41 @ 3:11 am

With a recent surge in popularity following the success of the hit single “Somebody That I Used To Know”, the artist known as Gotye has seemingly come out of nowhere as an overnight sensation in the indie music scene.

But, in actuality, Gotye, aka Wouter “Wally” De Backer, has been around for more than a decade. The Belgian-born, Australian-bred De Backer has released four albums and several EPS with his band The Basics and another three full-length albums under the Gotye moniker.

By the way, according to Wikipedia, the name “Gotye” is derived from “Gaultier” (or “Gautier” or “Gauthier”), the French equivalent of “Wouter” (“Walter” in English).

De Backer has been nominated for a slew of awards in Australia for both his solo and collaborative work, and, as Gotye, he has won five Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards — the Down Under version of the Grammys.

He had released two Gotye albums — 2003’s Boardface and 2006’s Like Drawing Blood — but didn’t start receiving international acclaim until the 2011 release of Making Mirrors.

Besides the above two tracks, the album includes an eclectic mix of pop, rock, soul and electro sounds with varying vocals that trace their roots to such forebears as Sting and Peter Gabriel. The disc as a whole is something of an acquired taste, with several throwaway tracks mixed among the better stuff.

Some of the stronger tunes include “Save Me” (electro-pop that calls to mind Owl City), “Giving Me a Chance”, “Bronte”, “In Your Light” (a very poppy tune that’s reminiscent of Steve Winwood) and “I Feel Better” (a very soulful pop song that might conjure images of Cee-Lo Green or Bruno Mars).

He’ll be touring the United States starting in March; unfortunately, many of the shows are already sold out. Check out more songs on his MySpace page.

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February 21, 2012

103 – Bahamas

Filed under: B, Barrie Ontario — assman41 @ 6:25 pm

I’m generally not a big fan of the solo singer-songwriter genre. I mean, there are a lot of great artists out there, but, for the most part, I like songs that have more going for them than just vocals and one or two instruments.

That being said, I was mildly surprised by how much I enjoyed Barchords, the recent sophomore release by Bahamas — aka Afie Jurvanen.

Jurvanen, who hails from Barrie, Ontario, does his best to channel the indie-folk vibe of such contemporaries as Conor Oberst and M. Ward.

The above song, along with other tracks such as “Time and Time Again”, “Be My Witness” and “Where You Go”, does a good job of continuing a tone of soulfoul, heart-on-his-sleeve folk-rock.

The best track on the album is probably the opener, “Lost in the Light”. It’s the most complex song on here and conjures up a number of other artists — especially the Dawes-like chorus.

Bahamas has definitely matured as an artist since his 2009 debut, Pink Strat. On that album, Jurvanen’s vocals sounded a lot like Chris Martin — that is, if you took the Coldplay lead singer and turned him into a slow-grooving, indie-folk solo artist.

The standouts from that album include “Hockey Teeth”, the slightly harder, bluesier “Try, Tried, Trying” and “Whole, Wide, World”, the Wreckless Eric cover.

You can hear that last one, as well as a few others, at Bahamas’ MySpace page.

February 15, 2012

Random thoughts: The end of music decades

Filed under: R — assman41 @ 2:09 pm

For several years, the main quote on my Facebook page was: “I hope to live to be 100, so I can experience a whole new round of ’80s music.”

I’ve since replaced it with a plug for this blog. But the quote reappeared in my mind the other day, and it got me thinking about the future of music and how many different waves there would be in the rest of my lifetime.

Then I had an epiphany — musical decades are on their way to becoming extinct, if they haven’t already reached that point.

To clarify, when I use the term “musical decades,” I’m referring to the way that popular music of each decade from the latter half of the last century had its own distinct sound. The ’50s saw the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, the ’60s were filled with psychedelic rock and folk, the ’70s had disco and a more progressive rock sound, the ’80s saw early punk morph into New Wave and the rise to prominence of the synthesizer, and the ’90s was something of a hodgepodge of grunge, hip-hop and forgettable pop music.

Obviously, all of that is a pretty big generalization. There was plenty of other stuff going on underground and outside of the mainstream. But when the average music listener thinks back to those decades, there’s a common sound that permeated and has held strong over time.

That really can’t be said for the music of this young century. If you ask 20 random people on the street to describe the sound of the ’00s, you’re likely to get 20 distinctly different answers. And, undoubtedly, it will be that way for the foreseeable future.

There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but the two that stand out the most are the fragmentation of genres and greater access to more and different music.

For the longest time, popular music was limited in its breadth. Whatever you could find at the record store or heard on the radio was pretty much all you had to choose from. But as technology has opened up the world in all sorts of ways, it’s also enabled people to discover new music from places they never would’ve been able to — even as recently as 15 years ago.

And as more and more people are getting their music to the masses, more styles are being created — several new genres seem to pop up on the internet on a daily basis.

Trying to keep up with it all can be dizzying at times. But it can also be really exciting — you never know, your new favorite band could be just a click away.

The cat’s out of the bag. No use trying to wrangle it back in. Just enjoy the music.

Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments section.

February 12, 2012

102 – The Belle Brigade

Filed under: B, Los Angeles — assman41 @ 12:01 am

While I have never read any of the Twilight books, and vow to never watch any of the movies, I have to admit one positive thing about the franchise — the musical director certainly knows what she’s doing.

That woman, Alexandra Patsavas, has been in charge of compiling songs for all four of the movie soundtracks to date, and, so far, she’s done a bang-up job, having convinced a slew of great indie and pop bands to produce songs for the movies.

The soundtrack for the latest installment — with the unbearably long title, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” — was released in November 2011. The list of acts isn’t quite as impressive as past discs, but one song has stood out so far.

“I Didn’t Mean It” by The Belle Brigade has slowly been getting more and more airplay on radio stations. And for good reason.

I first heard the song a few weeks ago on my favorite local station (WGCS 91.1 FM “The Globe”) well before I knew about its connection to the movie soundtrack.

The song was strong enough that I had to find out more about the band. The group consists of siblings Barbara and Ethan Gruska. The Los Angelenos from a family with strong ties to the music and entertainment industries.

After overcoming their sibling rivalry, the pair a formed band in 2008 and released a self-titled debut in April 2011.

The above song is the second track from the album. It’s also a great table-setter for the rest of the disc, as it perfectly highlights the band’s strong Fleetwood Mac influences.

The album is full of quality songs, including other standouts such as “Losers”, “Lucky Guy”, “Rusted Wheel” and “My Goodness”.

Considering how much they’ve already done in such a short period of time, The Belle Brigade looks like a band that has a very bright future. They will be in Chicago soon to open for Good Old War — a show that I very much want to attend.

February 6, 2012

101 – Of Monsters and Men

Filed under: Iceland, O — assman41 @ 6:16 am

As a music fan, there might not be anything more exciting than getting in on the ground floor with a band just as it’s about to break out big-time.

(Obviously, it’d be cooler to champion a band long before it gets its big break, but that’s hard to do — unless you’re embedded in an awesome music scene or just plain lucky.)

Anyway, if you’re reading this post in February 2012, you still have a chance to be among the early adopters to Of Monsters and Men, a band that should make a big splash in the coming months.

Critical praise for the five-piece indie/folk-pop group from Iceland has slowly been bubbling up during the past year and should reach a boiling point once they release their full-length debut, My Head Is An Animal, worldwide.

The album came out in Iceland in September 2011 and has helped them become radio darlings locally.

They have been receiving airplay on a few radio stations in America during the past year. And sales for their big single, “Little Talks”, have steadily risen.

That track is definitely their best to date, but there are plenty of solid songs on the LP, including “Six Weeks”, “Dirty Paws”, “King and Lionheart” and “Your Bones”.

With the raucous instrumentation and the folky male-female vocals, the group has received plenty of comparisons to Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and, to a lesser extent, Mumford & Sons.

The band will begin touring the United States in late March and will be at Subterranean in Chicago on March 30. Chances are, as more and more people hear this album, tickets will quickly become scarce.

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