Infinite Shuffle

July 29, 2012

124 – The Darlingtons

Filed under: D, England — assman41 @ 2:24 am

You know that feeling when you hear a band for the first time, and you know — you just know — that its music is going to instantly become a part of your rotation for many months to come?

With as much music as I listen to, you’d think it’d be a common occurrence for me. But, in actuality, it probably only happens a few times a year — if I’m lucky.

Well, it just happened to me again yesterday. I’d downloaded several albums from a new site I recently found — I’ll go into more detail on that next week — and I was listening to all of them during my shift at work.

They all sounded pretty good, to varying degrees. But once I got to The Darlingtons, I knew immediately that they were special.

Releasing their debut full-length, Decades Dance, on May 21, this four-piece indie rock band from Taunton, Somerset, England, officially staked a claim at being included on many a best-of-the-year list.

Admittedly, their sound isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but that doesn’t stop them from churning out non-stop catchy tunes.

The last time I was this excited about a debut album was probably in 2010 when Two Door Cinema Club hit the scene.

The Darlingtons share at least some of their sound with 2DCC, but they’re not as dancy. They also remind me a bit of Glasvegas, but much poppier and without the thick accents.

There’s really not much more to say about these lads, other than that I really hope they make it to the States soon.

By the way, while there is no filler on this album and the above three songs are all solid, I couldn’t find links to my two favorite tracks — “To Break a Heart” and “A Song For Someone Else In Time”.

July 22, 2012

123 – The Lumineers

Filed under: Denver, L — assman41 @ 12:01 am

If there was any doubt in your mind whether you should invest some time — and maybe money — in The Lumineers, just check out some of the many reviews of their self-titled debut full-length release on Amazon.com.

One fella from Minneapolis was so enthralled by the release and certain that you would be too that he offered a free sandwich as a guarantee.

“… if you buy this album and you don’t like it I will meet you exactly halfway between my house in Minneapolis and your house wherever that is and I will buy you a sandwich.”

Another, who wasn’t quite as enamored with the album but still liked it plenty, gave a rather pragmatic response.

“While I would not say that it is unlike anything I have ever heard, I would be comfortable saying that I thoroughly enjoyed it the whole way through and it is only growing on me with each listen (as most good music does..IMO).”

The Lumineers have been around since 2002 (or maybe 2005, depending upon which part of Wikipedia you believe), and they’ve been a trio since Wesley Schultz (lead vocals) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums) moved from New York City to Denver and found Neyla Pekarek after posting an ad on Craigslist for a cellist.

They finally released their first album this past April and have been gaining a lot of attention since their single, “Ho Hey”, appeared in an episode of Hart of Dixie in the winter and later in a Bing commercial last month.

As you can tell from the above song, the Lumineers’ sound is pretty straight-forward folk rock/Americana. As far as comparisons, all of the usual suspects should come to mind, but the most prevalent is probably The Head and the Heart.

There really isn’t any filler among the 11 songs on this initial offering. Some of the standouts are “Submarines”, “Slow It Down” and “Dead Sea”.

It looks like the bulk of their upcoming tour stops are in the East and Southeast before heading overseas. After some strong showings on various Billboard charts, this band’s star is definitely on the rise, and there’s no telling how big it will be by the time it returns Stateside.

July 15, 2012

122 – Japandroids

Filed under: J, Vancouver — assman41 @ 12:01 am

At this point, I should probably re-evaluate every band that I’ve ever written off.

That’s the lesson that I’ve slowly grasped during the past year or so of listening to new music from bands I’d previously discarded.

The latest retrieval from the trash heap is Japandroids, a punk/pop-rock duo from Vancouver.

I’m not sure if I was confusing them with Japanther or I just heard the wrong song, but I definitely had them pegged as nothing more a couple of loud, somewhat abrasive hacks attempting to play rock but failing.

Turns out, they’re actually pretty solid, particularly on their latest release, Celebration Rock, which came out early last month.

Their 2009 debut, Post-Nothing, was a slightly lighter attempt at garage/pop-punk, with every song coated in distortion. Most of the songs sound pretty similar, but the few that stand out are “Young Hearts Spark Fire”, “Rockers East Vancouver” and “Sovereignty”.

There was also a release in 2010, No Singles, which was just a compilation of a couple of EPs.

The more important album is Celebration Rock, which tones down the distortion greatly, tightens the guitar work and produces songs that are far more accessible.

At several points throughout the album — such as “Adrenaline Nightshift”, “Younger Us” and “The House That Heaven Built” — the Canucks start to channel The Gaslight Anthem, but without all of the Springsteen worship.

The above song is easily the best on the album. But there are a couple more worth noting — “Fire’s Highway” and “Continuous Thunder”. Maybe it’s because I just listened to a bunch of Guided By Voices the other day at work, but “Continuous Thunder” reminds me of Robert Pollard’s crew — but with more distortion.

By the way, if you haven’t already heard it before, Japandroids have a pretty interesting back story. Including the fact that they were all but disbanded when they finally got their big break.

July 8, 2012

121 – Kishi Bashi

Filed under: Brooklyn, K, Seattle — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Last week, I wrote about Alabama Shakes and mentioned other bands who’d ridden a wave of hype at the start of their careers.

Another artist who’s been receiving a lot of early buzz — albeit on a much smaller scale — is Kishi Bashi. The gang over at NPR’s All Songs Considered have been singing the praises of the singer/songwriter/violinist ever since discovering him at SXSW.

The project name is actually a pseudonym for K Ishibashi, who was born in Seattle, grew up on the East Coast, helped found the Brooklyn-based band, Jupiter One, and is now a member of Of Montreal.

It’s a good thing he’s made it possible to embed all the tracks from his debut album, 151a, because it’s difficult to pinpoint his sound.

The best I can come up with is a cross between MGMT and Jonsi/Sigur Ros, with several other influences sprinkled in. And Ishibashi’s stirring violin adds an incredible dimension to all of it.

The track that first introduced him to NPR listeners was “Bright Whites”, definitely a catchy tune and probably the best on the album. But “Manchester” is certainly a worthy contender for that title.

While there is no real filler here, a few other standouts include “It All Began With a Burst”, “Chester’s Burst Over the Hamptons” and “Atticus, in the Desert”.


July 3, 2012

120 – Alabama Shakes

Filed under: A, Athens Ala. — assman41 @ 3:44 am

It never fails. Every year, the indie tastemakers find one new act to hype the hell out of — often before it even releases its first full-length album.

And usually, because of the excessive hype, I end up steering clear of said band for several months, no matter whether I think I might like it or not.

Some of the notable “it” bands have included Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend and The XX.

This year, the band is Alabama Shakes, the roots rock quartet hailing from Athens, Ala., that has become the darlings of the indie scene.

Formed in 2009 by lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and high school classmate Zac Cockrell (bass), along with Heath Fogg (guitar) and Steve Johnson (drums), Alabama Shakes put out a self-titled EP last fall and went viral seemingly overnight.

One listen to their first single, “Hold On”, and it’s clear that they have the chops to live up to the critical praise.

And while their debut LP — Boys & Girls, which came out in April — is solid, the sound is one that could get old fast. For the most part, Brittany and the boys do their best impression of Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Howard’s similarity to Janis Joplin is unmistakable and perhaps even better than the original.

Alabama Shakes put out the kind of music that a lot of people can agree upon. But there are plenty of music fans that will probably be turned off by them — either because they’re turned off by the lack of depth or because they’re too pretentious to enjoy this style of music.

It’ll be interesting — after all the hoopla dies down — to see where the Shakes go from here. They could easily churn out more of the same tunes to a public that will eat it up. Or, they could try to develop as a band and add some nuance to their sound.

Either way, it’s doubtful they’ll be falling off the map any time soon.

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