Infinite Shuffle

November 20, 2013

183 – Blouse

Filed under: B, Portland — assman41 @ 3:43 pm

Well, I tried to get out of my airy-fairy/haunting female vocalist rut, but then I went and listened to Blouse. And lead singer Charlie Hilton just reeled me in with her enchantingly shoegazey voice.

Starting on the decidedly post-punk self-titled debut in 2011, and into this year’s Imperium, Blouse have put out two albums worthy of all the same love bestowed upon such similar acts as Wild Nothing, The XX, Wye Oak, Youth Lagoon and Craft Spells.

The above song is from Blouse and includes a great riff that is very reminiscent of The XX before becoming more complex in the second half. Other solid tracks here include the intro, “Firestarter”, “They Always Fly Away” and “Time Travel”, which appears be jetting back to the mid-’80s and ripping off “Metro” or some other song by Berlin. The rest of the album is filled with a bunch of average to above-average songs that continue to harken back to the ’80s.

Fast forward to this year’s release, and the band has taken on a more sultry persona. Gone, for the most part, are the post-punk guitars and replaced with a mellow, psychedelic — sometimes lo-fi — vibe.

The opening title track sets the tone immediately. But the best song here is “1,000 Years”.

After that, the album relaxes even more and starts to tread on Belle and Sebastian — maybe even Stereolab — territory on such songs as “In a Glass” and “Capote”.

Things pick up again on the back half of the album, which is highlighted by “In a Feeling Like This”. Other notable tracks include “Arrested”, “Trust Me” and “Happy Days”.

While this album fails to reach the precedent set by Blouse, it doesn’t fall too short of the bar and shows that the Portland-based trio has the potential to have a some longevity.

November 14, 2013

182 – HAERTS

Filed under: Brooklyn, H — assman41 @ 3:34 pm

I’ll just start out by saying I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve had a dearth of motivation lately, and it’s affected all aspects of my life. Particularly in the last week, I have done very little of substance.

But today feels like I may finally be getting out of my rut. I went to the gym and had a solid workout, I cooked a quality meal for lunch, and, perhaps most importantly, I found a band worth sharing with my loyal reader.

HAERTS is a five-piece indie-pop band based in Brooklyn and composed of members from England, Germany and the U.S. Their sound is similar to recent “it” acts such as CHVRCHES and Lorde with their predilection for haunting female vocals.

Where HAERTS differs is that, although all the songs on their debut EP, Hemiplegia, sound similar, there’s enough variation to infer that this group has the chops to make some really interesting music.

By the way, the name of that album is a medical condition that is defined as “total or partial paralysis of one side of the body that results from disease of or injury to the motor centers of the brain.”

This is where, by blog law, I’m supposed to tie that definition into some description of the band. But I’d rather just link to another video.

November 6, 2013

181 – Lorde

Filed under: L, New Zealand — assman41 @ 12:14 am

181 – Lorde

It’s tough to decide which is more impressive about Lorde’s full-length debut, Pure Heroine — the music itself or the fact that the singer-songwriter behind Lorde is only 16 years old!

The New Zealand native, whose actual name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, had record labels in a bidding war not long after she entered her teens. At 13, she signed with Universal and a year later she was working with the label’s songwriters.

She put out The Love Club EP in November 2012 and followed that with the single, “Royals,” which hit the top of the charts in New Zealand and also became the first female solo artist to reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

The song is definitely the peak of Pure Heroine, but it’s far from the only standout track. Throughout the album, Yelich-O’Connor mixes in a variety of influences. The opener, “Tennis Court”, calls to mind a little bit of M.I.A. But she also invokes artists such as Zola Jesus — with a far less haunting tone — on “400 Lux”, “Ribs”, “Team” and “Buzzcut Season”.

Still in high school — or whatever the Kiwis call it over there — Yelich-O’Connor is a rising star and has only begun to tap her seemingly endless potential. It’ll be fun to see what she can accomplish once she’s able to focus full time on her music.

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