Infinite Shuffle

May 28, 2012

116 – Car On the Moon

Filed under: Brooklyn, C — assman41 @ 9:06 pm

About two weeks ago, I made my maiden voyage to New York City. I’ll admit that I was a touch intimidated leading up to the trip, but it ended up exceeding my expectations in terms of awesomeness.

In addition to all the great food and drink I consumed and the various interesting sites I checked out, the highlight of my trip was probably discovering a new, great band.

There weren’t too many scheduled events on my itinerary for the week, so my host and I often just came up with things to do on the fly. One night, we figured we’d try to find some live music, which, pleasantly, is not at all difficult to do in NYC.

We ended up finding a cheap show in Park Slope at a great little venue called Union Hall. The main floor is a quaint bar with great seating, nice ambience and a couple of bocce courts. Downstairs is where they put on shows.

Basically the size of someone’s basement, with a stage on end and a bar at the other, Union Hall is the perfect place to discover up-and-coming bands before they get their big break.

While all of the acts were solid in their own right, it was the first group we saw that turned out to be the best.

Car on the Moon is a four-piece band from Brooklyn that comfortably straddles the area between folk and indie-pop. Most of their songs are of the slow, quiet variety and are occasionally accented by louder, more raucous choruses.

At the core of the band is Elias Orling, the lead singer and lyricist, who seems ready-made to front an indie-folk band. Providing some female backing vocals is multi-instrumentalist Sylvia Chen. Along with bassist Steve Ferrara and drummer Danny Festa, the group put out its self-titled, full-length debut in September of last year.

Some of the standout tracks include “Sea of Indians”, “Doctor”, “Love You More”, “The Bridge” and “My Only Drum”.

(Unfortunately, there are no videos online to link to, and I can no longer upload songs.)

To check out all 11 songs from the album, head over to the band’s website.

I got a chance to chat with Orling for a few minutes after his band’s set. He said they’d just finished a stretch in the recording studio, which hopefully means there will be more to come soon. As for touring, he said they’ll try to canvass the greater New York area on weekends, but it’ll probably be a long time before they ever make it to the Midwest.

May 24, 2012

115 – Gashcat

Filed under: Austin, G — assman41 @ 1:05 pm

Jeff Mangum has slowly come out of seclusion during the past couple of years. There’s no telling what spurred his re-emergence. A sudden urge to share more of his music with the world? Maybe his finances took a nosedive. Or perhaps he’s noticed the recent wave of singers who share his unique vocal stylings and wanted to remind everyone who does it best.

Alas, his appearances are still relatively sporadic. So, if you’re interested in hearing that voice — and not lucky enough to see him — you could always turn to one of those aforementioned poseurs.

The latest one to show up on the indie scene is Gashcat, a crew of folk-rockers from Austin, Texas.

As you can tell by lead singer Kyle Craft’s vocals, it’d be hard to get away from the Neutral Milk Hotel comparisons. Some of the best representations of this are on such standout tracks as “The Morning Sun”, “Every Summer, Every Spring” and “Ghost of a Ghost”.

However, Gashcat do take their sound in a slightly different direction. As the album progresses, the band starts to move down a path toward pop. Craft’s voice occasionally attains a Lindsey Buckingham inflection.

For now, Gashcat are still very much under the radar. But a solid showing at SXSW this year should help it build some momentum. With any luck, they’ll continue carving out their own niche on their next release.

May 13, 2012

114 – Dry the River

Filed under: D, England — assman41 @ 12:01 am

I’ll just dispense with the flowery lede and get to the obvious comparison right off the bat: Dry the River is very reminiscent of Mumford & Sons.

As The Guardian noted in its review in 2010, the two bands both offer a glimpse of the pastoral with their infectious semi-acoustic ditties.

(Speaking of that review, I rather enjoyed the way the writer led off by noting that there is no other genre of music that a band named Dry the River could ever fall into besides indie-folk rock.)

But after listening to their debut full-length album, Shallow Bed, which came out in April, it’s clear that Dry the River is its own band.

Where the Mumfords’ songs often have a quick acceleration, Dry the River make a slower progression throughout their tracks. That’s not to say they don’t cut loose a little; they just do so at a more relaxed pace.

Dry the River began as a solo project started by Norwegian vocalist-guitarist Peter Liddle, who quickly joined forces in 2009 with Will Harvey (violin) and Jon Warren (drums). Later, Matt Taylor (guitar) and Scott Miller (bass) rounded out the group, which delivered a pair of EPs and hit a number of notable festivals in England.

The Londoners then headed to Connecticut to record their LP, which is loaded with solid tracks. Besides the above two songs, other standouts include “Animal Skins”, “History Book”, “Lion’s Den”, “No Rest”, “Weights & Measures”, “Shield Your Eyes” and “Family”.

The band will be coming to the States this summer, and I fully intend to see its performance at Lollapalooza.

May 6, 2012

113 – Now, Now

Filed under: Minneapolis, N — assman41 @ 12:01 am

With the March release of its second full-length album, Threads, the Minneapolis band Now, Now added a darker layer to its sound while continuing to distance itself from an earlier incarnation.

Formed in 2003 by high school classmates Cacie Dalager and Bradley Hale, the band originally went by the name Now, Now Every Children. Under that moniker, they released a couple of EPs and their debut full-length, Cars, in 2009.

With Dalager in charge of vocals, the group sounded like a harder version of Tegan & Sara. The songs on their first album were tight and catchy, but they didn’t necessarily stand out. The best song is probably the title track, which closes the album.

After changing labels, the band decided to shorten the name in order to disconnect itself from any childish image it had.

With a sleeker name and new label — not to mention a larger contingent after guitarist Jess Abbott joined the fray in 2009 — Now, Now released the Neighbors EP in 2010. While Now, Now’s sound hadn’t progressed much in the interim, the disc did have a couple of stronger songs, including “Giants” and the title track.

In late 2011, the band signed to Chris Walla’s label and put the finishing touches on Threads. With a heavier and darker feeling, the album starts to give off a bit of a Warpaint vibe.

This is the band’s most complete offering to date, with such standout songs as “Lucie, Too”, “Thread”, “Dead Oaks”, “Prehistoric” and “But I Do”.

As the band’s star continues to rise, it has lined up touring dates with The Naked and Famous and fun. It also recently received some praise on NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast.

For more on the band, visit its official website or MySpace page, and be sure to check out this great live video for “Thread”.

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