Infinite Shuffle

October 20, 2013

180 – The Lone Bellow

Filed under: Brooklyn, L — assman41 @ 3:10 am

It’s a good time to be an indie folk band. Whether it’s Mumford & Sons and The Civil Wars taking home Grammys or bands such as Decemberists, Bon Iver, Bright Eyes, The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Of Monsters and Men, The Head and the Heart, The Lumineers, First Aid Kit and Dawes selling millions of records, this genre has reached an apex.

And just like every scene before it, whenever a band’s buzz starts to fade, there’s always another one ready to take its place.

One group that seems primed to take over the mantel of indie folk darling is The Lone Bellow, a trio from Brooklyn churning out twangy tunes that are simultaneously heartfelt and catchy.

Best described as a cross between Dawes and Milo Greene, the group also evokes comparisons to several of the established bands mentioned above, as well as recent newcomer Little Green Cars.

The group was born out of tragedy, when the wife of guitarist and lead vocalist Zach Williams suffered temporary paralysis following a horse riding accident. While sitting by her hospital bed in Atlanta, the Georgia-born Williams had little else to do than write in his journal. Eventually, a friend suggested he learn to play the guitar and turn his journal entries into songs.

After his wife recovered, they moved to Brooklyn, where Williams crossed paths with an old friend, Brian Elmquist (guitar and vocals), and formed The Lone Bellow. Rounding out the band is Kanene Donehey Pipkin (mandolin), who provides the female vocal accompaniment.

While slowly building a buzz, The Lone Bellow are still very much under the radar. So, now is the time to latch on before they break out big time. They are currently touring throughout the U.S. for the next couple of months.

October 17, 2013

179 – CHVRCHES

Filed under: C, Scotland — assman41 @ 1:31 pm

Not too long ago, I wrote about the recent trend of bands using monikers that were difficult to search for online — BOY, Girls, Women, The Men.

The band CHVRCHES could have had a similar issue, but they purposefully used the Roman V instead of a “u” in their name so as not to get confused with actual churches during searches.

That’s not exactly reason enough to trumpet the band — although it’s close. Thankfully, its debut album is filled with catchy songs that need to be appreciated.

The Bones of What You Believe was released late last month to much critical praise. The group’s main sound isn’t anything new — female vocals on top of a ton of synths. The thing that separates CHVRCHES from the rest of the pack is Lauren Mayberry, the siren who dominates every track on the album.

Whereas many of their contemporaries — such as The Naked and Famous, Cut Copy and Shiny Toy Guns — bury the vocals under synths and production effects, CHVRCHES put an emphasis on the vocals.

The trio is the latest export from Glasgow, and they’ve been slowly building buzz since forming in 2011. A breakout set at SXSW and opening slots for Depeche Mode and Passion Pit were followed by the release of the Recover EP this past March.

The full-length album is filled with single-worthy tunes. In addition to the above two tracks, other notables include “Recover”, “Gun” and “By the Throat”.

The group is on a lengthy tour with most of the shows overseas. It will make a swing through the U.S. in November but only in the southern half of the country.

October 7, 2013

178 – HAIM

Filed under: H, Los Angeles — assman41 @ 12:57 am

When I wrote the other day about bands who string along fans waiting on a debut full-length, I actually had a particular group in mind. HAIM, a trio of sisters from Los Angeles, have been putting out singles and EPs for more than a year to much hype and acclaim. But it wasn’t until last week that they finally dropped Days Are Gone, an 11-track effort that includes several previously released tunes.

If their Wikipedia page is to be trusted, HAIM, which rhymes with “rhyme,” is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, and their sound is some sort of combination of folk, pop and R&B.

In actuality, the girls are straight-up electro-pop, sounding more like a trio of Annie Lennox clones than Stevie Nicks. Although, they could probably be mistaken for Christine McVie at times.

The sisters — their names are Este, Danielle and Alana and they range in age from 21 to 27 — have been singing in various groups since they were children, when their parents enlisted them to play covers at local charity fairs under the moniker Rockinhaim. Este and Danielle were members of the Valli Girls, which scored some minor acclaim among the tween set in 2005.

Danielle, the middle sister, played guitar and drums in backing bands for such artists as Jenny Lewis, Julian Casablancas and Cee-Lo Green. But, eventually, she and her sisters decided to focus on putting out music together.

Their first release was a three-song EP, Forever, in early 2012. Besides the title track, it included “Don’t Save Me”. When that song was released as a single, its B-side was “Send Me Down”, which did not make the full-length album but has one of my favorite choruses of the last few years.

Having already toured with such acts as Mumford & Sons, Ke$ha, Florence and the Machine and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the band’s star is definitely on the rise. And now that it’s finally released a full album, it’s probably just a matter of time before the sisters hit the road for a major headlining tour of their own.

October 6, 2013

177 – Wildcat! Wildcat!

Filed under: Los Angeles, W — assman41 @ 1:37 pm

Generally, I don’t like to write about a band until it has put out at least one proper full-length album. That way, you get a better feel for its sound, rather than just hearing a few choice tracks on an early EP.

However, that’s becoming a little more difficult as more and more bands choose to drop an EP — or several, in the case of The 1975 — before the inevitable LP. I realize bands have been doing this forever, but I’m referring specifically to groups that clearly have a load of solid songs at the ready but choose instead to slow-play listeners.

Rather than twiddle my thumbs in anticipation, I figured I’d just break my own rule and let you know about Wildcat! Wildcat! An electro-pop trio from Los Angeles, the group put out a self-titled four-track release last month and is tentatively scheduled to drop a full-length by the end of the year.

Judging by the first few songs, the LP has the makings of being top-notch.

Despite the band’s in-your-face name, it’s actually relatively laid back. Friends since middle school, Jesse Taylor (vocals, bass), Michael Wilson (vocals, keyboard) and Jesse Carmichael (vocals, drums) have a sound that would best be described as a toned-down version of MGMT or Passion Pit.

The group, which has only been a proper band for less than two years, has recently opened for such acts as Alt-J and Portugal. The Man — if that gives you another hint at its sound.

And with that, I resume twiddling my thumbs as I wait patiently for the full-length release.

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