Infinite Shuffle

February 19, 2014

194 – The Strumbellas

Filed under: S, Toronto — assman41 @ 5:15 pm

The biggest wave to overtake the indie scene the past few years has been the folk-rock music perfected by such groups as Fleet Foxes, The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Dawes, The Lumineers, The Head and The Heart, The Lone Bellow, Ivan & Alyosha and many others.

While these bands share a lot of qualities, they’re all unique enough that it’s hard to corral them into too specific of a genre. The first label was alt-country, but that one has been obsolete for at least a decade. The more common term lately is indie-folk, which is accurate but also very broad.

Another new portmanteau that has sprouted up is “folk popgrass,” which would certainly be an apt description for many of the aforementioned bands. The latest group to fall under that category is The Strumbellas, a critically praised six-piece outfit from Toronto.

It won’t take long listening to their 2012 debut full-length, My Father and the Hunter, to realize that The Strumbellas are every bit as talented as their more well-known folk brethren.

That’s the disc’s opener and lead single, “Sheriff”. Here is the full album:

The group didn’t wait long for a follow-up, releasing We Still Move on Dance Floors in October 2013. The first two tracks — “Sailing” and “Did I Die?” — have been receiving some radio airplay, particularly on WGCS, but the album as a whole is worth a spin.

This band seems like it would be great to see live. Alas, other than a few shows in Canada this spring, it does not have any upcoming tour plans on which to report.

February 14, 2014

193 – Bad Things

Filed under: B, Los Angeles — assman41 @ 3:31 pm

Before I sat down to write this post, I was really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this great new band I’d discovered, Bad Things. They released their self-titled debut last month, and it’s filled with a lot of great, catchy indie rock songs.

Unfortunately, when I began to do some research on the group, I quickly discovered some unsettling news.

If you’ve watched even the slightest bit of Olympics coverage or any of the stuff leading up to the Games, you’ve likely been reminded of the existence of Shaun White. He’s been everywhere for the last few months. So much so that I’d begun to get burnt out on the Flying Tomato and definitely experienced some Schadenfreude when he failed to win a medal earlier this week.

Alas, even though his Games are officially over, I’m still being inundated by all things White. This time, with his music. One of the storylines leading up to the Olympics was the fact that he’d begun to branch out from sports and was in a new band, one that would be performing in Sochi.

I never paid attention to any of that. Whenever his music career was mentioned, I immediately tuned out. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention, since the name of his band is Bad Things.

Yep, the band that I’ve been listening to for the past few weeks and really getting into just happens to be Shaun White’s band.

I guess it’s a good thing I fell in love with the group before I knew anything about White’s involvement. As is the case with a lot of famous people who try their hand at another profession, it would have been hard for me to take the group seriously.

While trying to reconcile my feeling over the group, I read this article, and it helped ease the process.

And it doesn’t hurt that the music is really good. With Davis DeLuke on lead vocals and former Augustana member Jared Palomar on bass, Bad Things have some heavy hitters up front. Rounding out the Los Angeles-based band are some of White’s friends from childhood — guitarist Anthony Sanudo and drummer-vocalist Lena Zawaideh.

There’s no obvious band to compare Bad Things to, as they’re something of a conglomeration of a lot of solid indie bands.

And despite my bittersweet feelings on the band’s personnel, I can’t deny the fact that this is a great debut disc. With little to no filler on this album, it’s officially the first nominee for my Best of 2014 list.

February 4, 2014

192 – High Highs

Filed under: Australia, H — assman41 @ 3:04 pm

Combining two of your favorite things can often lead to unexpected results. For every Reese’s peanut butter cup or strawberry banana smoothie, there’s chili beer and strip club buffets.

The same can be said for musical influences. Nobody wants to hear a heavy metal Enya cover band. (Actually, that sounds awesome.) The point is, mixing things can be hit or miss.

Thankfully, the boys in High Highs hit pay dirt when they created a sound that is equal parts Beach House and Fleet Foxes, with a little dash of The XX for good measure.

That is the title track off the group’s debut full-length that came out in January 2013. You might recognize it from a Kindle commercial or possibly from the movie, “Pitch Perfect”.

On the album, Jack Milas and Oli Chang manage to combine the ethereal quality of Beach House with the soul-folk of Fleet Foxes, circa Helplessness Blues, into something that seems so obvious that it’s surprising no one had brought it to prominence before.

The duo, which is based in Sydney, Australia, and formed in 2010, released a self-titled EP in 2011. Since putting out the LP, High Highs have toured extensively, including a stretch in the United States opening for Vampire Weekend.

Besides popping up on the big and small screens already, their tune, “Flowers Bloom”, was sampled by will.i.am for his song, “Good Morning”.

The group is currently splitting its time between Sydney and New York while working on a follow-up album. You can follow the progress here via Tumblr.

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