Infinite Shuffle

June 20, 2013

164 – Bronze Radio Return

Filed under: B, Hartford Conn. — assman41 @ 1:16 pm

I was first introduced to the Bronze Radio Return a few days ago via an email from Noisetrade. It was offering a compilation of top songs from the band’s three albums, including one that’s to be released next week.

In its write-up, Noisetrade compared the indie-pop/folk outfit from Hartford, Conn., to a number of popular indie-folk groups, such as Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart and the poppier Imagine Dragons.

Checking them out on MOG, and that site lists as contemporaries bands such as Young the Giant, Grouplove, Walk the Moon and Motopony.

But listen to any song in their catalog, and the first bands that should pop into your head are Gomez and The Fray. Actually. lead singer Chris Henderson’s vocals probably fall somewhere in between those two bands.

That is the title track from the group’s second full-length album, 2011’s SHAKE!SHAKE!SHAKE!. That disc had a more upbeat vibe than their 2009 debut, Old Time Speaker. It showed a transition from slower folk to more of a pop-folk sound.

Besides that track, other strong ones are “Down There” and “Wonder No More”.

And on the upcoming release, Up, On & Over, which comes out June 25, they kick it up another notch to something closer to indie-rock/folk. Some of the more solid entries on the new disc include “Further On”, “World Spin, Home Spun” and the title track.

Considering its long list of accolades and the number of times it’s popped up in TV shows and commercials, it’s a surprise the band has not blown up yet.

They’ve got some upcoming shows in a few major Northeast cities before making their way to the Midwest, including a stop in Evanston, Ill., on July 6.

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June 18, 2013

163 – Hooded Fang

Filed under: H, Toronto — assman41 @ 6:37 pm

I’ve written often on this blog about bands whose sounds have changed over the course of their careers. Whether it be due to members leaving, record labels requesting something different or the desire to simply change things up, bands often find themselves going down new paths.

In the case of Hooded Fang, they seemed ready to make a switch before they even finished their first full-length album.

On their earliest releases — 2008’s EP and 2010’s Album — the Toronto-based septet sounded like any number of other indie-pop groups. The omnipresence of the glockenspiel was reminiscent of Noah and the Whale. There was also some hints of Great Lake Swimmers, if the latter were less folky and more poppy.

Some of the more notable tracks on the full-length are “Straight Up the Dial”, “Laughing” and “Ghosts”.

But the band was clearly ready for a change and didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as just another twee pop outfit.

On the follow-up, 2011’s Tosta Mista, Hooded Fang takes things in a notably different direction. Gone are all the playful indieisms, and in there place is a full-fledged homage to ’60s garage rock.

Also, it was at this point that Daniel Lee took over sole singing duties, as glock player Lorna Wright receded into the background.

Following the release of that album, Wright and two other members left the group to pursue various endeavors — including acting and journalism. It was at this point that the now-fourpiece really started to explore new sounds.

And their findings can be heard on the latest release, Gravez, which came out in April of this year. The band continues with the garage rock, but adds in a healthy dose of surfer punk.

The end result is something that would best be classified as an acquired taste. Hooded Fang takes listeners to some interesting places, such as on “Genes”, where Lee and the gang do their best Edwyn Collins impersonation.

None of the songs really stand out, except perhaps “Thrasher”, but taken as a whole, it’s a solid album to play in the background while completing chores or just relaxing.

The band is currently wrapping up a U.S. tour and will be heading to Europe in September. But, considering how much it likes to travel, another swing through the States in the near future seems likely.

June 8, 2013

162 – Blondfire

Filed under: B, Los Angeles — assman41 @ 2:54 am

When I first discovered Blondfire via the SXSW 2012 torrent, I thought for sure I’d found my next favorite band. But after eventually listening to some more of their songs, it appeared as though they were nothing but a one-hit wonder.

Fast-forward more than a year, when my favorite local radio station, 91.1 FM WGCS, started playing another song off the band’s 2012 EP, Where the Kids Are, and it became clear that I should give the group a second shot.

As it turns out, Blondfire’s early work was just as mundane as I’d originally thought. Little more than a Shiny Toy Guns knock-off, the Los Angeles-based brother-sister duo of Bruce and Erica Driscoll stuck to a simple formula of pretty vocals over an electro-pop beat on their 2008 debut full-length My Someday.

The result was a lot of sub-par tunes, with the occasional notable track, such as “Pretty Young Thing”, “All In My Mind” and “L-L-Love”.

But other than those — and interesting backstory — the band had little going for it and was destined for the dustbins of music history.

That is, until they released the single, “Where the Kids Are”, in November 2011. The song received a lot of critical acclaim, and it even made its way into a car commercial, which is still being aired today.

It’s unclear what’s next for Blondfire — besides wrapping up its current tour and playing at Lollapalooza in August — but, with any luck, it will trend closer to their more recent offerings as opposed to their old stuff.

June 4, 2013

161 – NO

Filed under: Los Angeles, N — assman41 @ 1:31 pm

One of the most-annoying trends of the last 5-10 years in the indie music world is bands giving themselves incredibly vague, one-word names.

I’m looking at you, Girls, Women, Boy and The Men. (It’s as if these bands are actually part of one, big family.)

Anyway, the latest no-name band is, coincidentally, called NO. Not to be confused with a number of similarly named bands, including a post-punk outfit from Australia that hit big in the late ’80s, this indie-rock foursome hails from Echo Park in Los Angeles and has an EP and some singles to its name thus far.

On that EP, Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Here Forever, the most obvious comparison is The National. However, where those Brooklynites’ sound seems to be rooted in punk, NO leans a little poppier.

The above album was released in 2011. But it wasn’t until late last year, with the release of the single, “What’s Your Name”, that the band really started to create some buzz.

On that song, and a few others it recently recorded during a Daytrotter session at SXSW, the band develops a much more anthemic sound, similar to that of White Lies, with slow-burning indie ballads that explode at just the right time.

NO are still a supporting band for now, but it shouldn’t be long before they become a headlining act.

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