Infinite Shuffle

September 16, 2013

174 – Diarrhea Planet

Filed under: D, Nashville — assman41 @ 10:43 am

There are two things that are inevitably included in every review that’s been written about the band Diarrhea Planet. First, there’s the obligatory not-so-clever comment about the band’s shitty name (see what I did there?). Then, there’s the eventual description of their raucous live performances.

Having never seen them in person, I can neither confirm nor deny the latter, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and assume they’re the real deal. Judging from their two albums, it seems like a safe bet.

Their 2011 debut full-length, Loose Jewels, is a solid table-setter and probably a closer representation of their live show than the follow-up release, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, which came out last month.

With the vast majority of the 11 tracks clocking in at under 2 minutes, the first album almost seems like a sampler of sorts, with no other purpose than to get the Nashville sextet’s music out there and heard.

The recent release is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor in terms of complexity, production quality and just about every other metric.

Where Loose Jewels came across as a demo cassette, Rich …, is a true album with no real filler among the 13 tracks. It’s not quite worthy of being included in a best-of-the-year discussion, but it’s not far from it.

That’s “The Sound of My Ceiling Fan”, probably the best track on the disc but far from the only good one. Other strong offerings include “Kids”, “Emmett’s Vision”, “Lite Dream” and “Ugliest Son”.

I definitely intend to give this album more spins throughout the year, but I am admittedly glad to be done with this post. Now, I can stop awkwardly searching for “diarrhea planet” while sitting in a coffee shop.

February 3, 2013

145 – The Depreciation Guild

Filed under: Brooklyn, D — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Born nine years apart, my brother and I were never very close growing up. We had nothing in common — I was into sports and he was into music.

I’d often go into his room and stare at his posters of Culture Club and Pet Shop Boys and always be confused and curious. Growing up within earshot of his room was something of a blessing and a curse since it was impossible to escape the noise. But it also left me with a lifelong appreciation for ’80s music.

I didn’t really start to find my musical footing until after college. As I was starting to discover the indie scene, my brother was still heavy into his electronic music. But eventually, the two scenes started to overlap a bit and my brother started getting into bands such as Editors and MGMT.

So, finally, within the last decade, we actually had something that connected the two of us — a love of music. And, as the little brother, I was always trying to earn points by finding new bands for him. As it turns out, I was pretty good at it and have led him to a slew of great groups. But try as he might, he has not been able to reciprocate very often. He tends to overestimate my interest in electro-heavy bands because I may have liked one song by The Presets or Cut Copy.

But there have been those rare occasions when he’s been integral in me falling in love with a band. One such group is The Depreciation Guild.

I’d heard them for the first time in the summer of 2010 via the KEXP Song of the Day podcast. I thought it sounded like something he’d enjoy and played it for him. Then I noticed the band was coming through Chicago and suggested the show to him. He ended up listening to their music and said it sounded like something more to my liking. But I never delved any further.

Fast-forward about 2.5 years, when I unearthed our email correspondence regarding the Guild, and I finally got around to listening to the band’s entire catalog for the first time. And I immediately knew my brother was right — this was definitely a band I could get behind.

Too bad they broke up a couple of years ago.

The above song is actually the one that first turned me and my brother on to The Depreciation Guild. It comes from the band’s second and final full-length release, 2010’s Spirit Youth.

The song captures the band’s overwhelming shoegaze vibe, which permeates through all of the tracks in its catalog.

After listening to the album — as well as the band’s 2007 debut, In Her Gentle Jaws — it’s no surprise that front man Kurt Feldman is also the drummer for The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Both groups share that notable shoegaze, dream-pop, post-rock niche. Other acts that come to mind include Wild Nothing, The Radio Dept. and M83.

While The Depreciation Guild will not be making any new music for the foreseeable future, you can still enjoy the small collection of tunes they left behind.

January 9, 2013

2012 threeplay

Filed under: Brooklyn, D, England, P, Seattle, T — assman41 @ 10:16 pm

Since I spent much of my last few weeks focusing on the best stuff I’d heard during the past year, I wasn’t able to listen to too much new music.

But as I often do in January, I checked out several of the albums that I’d seen on others’ end-of-the-year lists but were totally foreign to me.

Here are three more bands who put out an above-average disc last year.

DIIV

DIIV is the brainchild of Zachary Cole Smith, a member of Beach Fossils who decided to try his hand at the whole solo thing.

Originally named Dive, this Brooklyn-based outfit takes very dream-pop sound of Beach Fossils and covers it in a heavy, dark shade of gloss. The songs on the 2012 debut, Oshin, are shoegaze with an electro twinge.

TOY

I’ve only listened to the self-titled album once, so I’m not totally sold on TOY. This London-based quintet fills its songs with distortion, but it doesn’t drown out the solid vocals or instrumentation.

Combining the best of shoegaze and psychedelia, TOY churns out some very droning, hypnotic tunes that are likely to put you to sleep.

Perfume Genius

The alter ego of Seattle resident Mike Hadreas, Perfume Genius is basically, at its core, just a dude and his piano. But Hadreas’ voice is so beautiful and he adds enough other layers that the music never gets boring.

Hadreas started recording songs after moving from New York to Washington, and he posted his work on MySpace. He was soon discovered by the British band Los Campesinos! and signed to their label.

Since then, Perfume Genius has released two albums — 2010’s Learning and last year’s Put Your Back N 2 It, the latter receiving plenty of critical praise.

December 10, 2012

139 – Divine Fits

Filed under: D — assman41 @ 8:01 pm

Is there some sort of law in Canada that states if you’re an indie-rock musician, you may not have fewer than three side projects at all times?

Just look at Wolf Parade. The two main cogs in that group — Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug — have splintered off into so many different directions and have included enough similarly prolific musicians that you’d need a flowchart to keep it all straight. (Sidenote: I fully intend to create said diagram within the next year.)

But with Wolf Parade on hiatus for the last two years, and his other main project, Handsome Furs, seemingly kaput, Boeckner has moved on to another outlet. And this time, he’s heading south of the border to Austin and teaming up with Spoon frontman Britt Daniel. They, along with drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) and keyboardist Alex Fishcel (Papa) have formed Divine Fits, a synth-laden indie-pop/rock outfit that despises the term “supergroup.”

That’s Boeckner on lead vocals, which he handles on seven of the 11 tracks on the band’s debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits. Daniel takes care of the remaining songs, as well as laying down the music for most, if not all, of the album.

According to an interview with Spin magazine, Daniel met Boeckner while attending a Handsome Furs show. The two stayed in touch, and, when Wolf Parade took a break, Daniel suggested that the two of them make some music together.

The result is an album full of new wave-tinged pop/rock that takes advantage of everyone’s strengths.

That’s one of the few songs that Daniel took the reins on. And, while his voice is normally only palatable in small doses, he really does a great job on this track.

In all the various online postings, the one member of the quartet who gets little to no recognition is Fischel, whose synth lines are critical to the band’s sound and lay the foundation for nearly every song.

The band currently has a few shows left on its U.S. tour, including three in Colorado and two in Las Vegas to close out the year. Then it heads to Australia. Hopefully, it’ll tour the States again next year — unless the members decide to turn their focus a few more side projects.

November 18, 2012

137 – The Dentals

Filed under: D, Switzerland — assman41 @ 7:55 pm

“Listen to these words I sing. They don’t even mean a thing. Nobody ever gives a shit. These melodies are the best in town.”

Those lyrics pretty much sum up the music of The Dentals, a not-so-new four-piece indie-pop/folk group from Lucerne, Switzerland.

Formed in 2002, it’s taken the boys a decade to put out their first full-length album. Listening to the songs, it’s clear that the delay wasn’t due to painstaking craftsmanship so much as it was general apathy.

That’s the first single from Tennessee, which was composed and written over the course of several months last year while the band shacked up in the sleepy town of Spring Hill, Tenn.

On the surface, the band plays straight-forward acoustic pop songs that are simple, catchy and fun. But a simple listen to the lyrics — which are very easy to decipher through the slow, almost storytelling rhythm of lead singer Fabio’s vocals — paint a picture of a group that likes to have a good time.

Planted squarely in the self-created genre of alco-pop, The Dentals like to write a lot about drinking beer and just generally being slackers. It was likely a nice fit during their early years as an indie-punk band.

Nowadays, it just adds an amusing dimension to their catchy tunes.

That song is the opening track, and, despite mentioning getting drunk, it really isn’t about beer. According to the band’s website, it’s about trying to get over an ex-girlfriend.

Speaking of lyrics, “I Am an Artist” is just a humorous ode to being a pretentious artist. “Devil In My Hand (Part 2)” makes fun of drinking light beer. And “I Love You Even More” has the Fabio talking about all the parts of a woman he loves, but especially a certain attribute: “There’s one thing I like more than the rest. It’s true, your nipples are the best.”

“Not Every Idiot Knows How To Drive a Car” and “I Am Well But You’re Paul Weller” are decent songs with longer than necessary titles, while “Mentally Retarded” is just a throwaway song.

The album’s closer, “B-side”, is slower and generally darker in tone, and it tells the listener that, even though there’s no point to life, that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun while we’re here.

They don’t have any shows currently booked, but The Dentals seem like the type of band that SXSW audiences would adore.

Just sayin’.

September 16, 2012

130 – Deep Sea Arcade

Filed under: Australia, D — assman41 @ 12:01 am

(Hey, it’s a band with “Sea” in its name for the second week in a row. Too bad I already wrote about British Sea Power awhile ago.)

As it so happens, none of the Sea bands sound similar. BSP is all post-punk and shoegazey. Last week’s featured artist, Sea of Bees, was a haunting/indie-country songstress.

And then there’s Deep Sea Arcade. The five-piece from Sydney released its debut full-length, Outlands, in March and it instantly filled the catchy, indie-pop void that didn’t actually need to be filled.

The above song is the big single off that album and has been out for about a year now. It’s also the high point of the opening half of the disc. The first half-dozen tracks all sound like a homogenization of several good, solid indie bands.

But then the next six songs take on a totally different feel. I was racking my brain trying to figure out who I was hearing. I even replayed the first few seconds of “Lonely In Your Arms” (Track 7) several times before it finally hit me.

Peter Bjorn & John! Or, at least mid-catalog PB&J.

After that realization, it’s difficult not to hear PB&J, at least to some degree, in every track on the back half of the album — particularly No. 10, “The Devil Won’t Take You”.

Even on “Don’t Be Sorry”, which sounds like PB&J covering ’60s pop group.

While I’ve often found those lovable Swedes to be something of an acquired taste and generally can’t stand to listen to them for more than a few songs, it doesn’t bother me with Deep Sea Arcade.

After making this connection, I went back and listened to the first six songs again, but it’s really not noticeable there — unless you’re actively trying to detect it.

So, I don’t know why they chose to make such an abrupt change mid-album, but it’s all good. It certainly makes for a more eclectic listen.

August 14, 2012

125 – Django Django

Filed under: D, England, Scotland — assman41 @ 2:23 am

If you and I have ever had discussed music for any period of time, chances are that I came off as a pretentious, know-it-all indie snob. I don’t mean to act like such a prick, but I tend to be pretty passionate about the music that I love, and the snark just kinda happens.

I’m well aware that my knowledge of music — and musicianship — is very limited, and my taste usually doesn’t jive with that of most people I encounter. As for this blog, one of my main missions is to share good, new (or newish) bands with anyone who happens to stumble upon the site.

And occasionally, I’m willing to put aside my feelings and write about a band that I’m not necessarily keen on but think others with similar tastes might enjoy.

And that brings me to Django Django.

The above track is the first single off the self-titled debut from this Edinburgh-bred, London-based quartet. Defying all labels and belying any influences, these lads mix electro, psychedelia, tribal percussion and a whole host of other sonic blurs into a wall of sound that is definitely an acquired taste.

I first discovered the group a month or so ago via And Pluck Your Strings. The Aussie-based blogger considered the album to be among the best of the year thus far.

Obviously, I don’t concur. But you can be the judge.

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”.

May 13, 2012

114 – Dry the River

Filed under: D, England — assman41 @ 12:01 am

I’ll just dispense with the flowery lede and get to the obvious comparison right off the bat: Dry the River is very reminiscent of Mumford & Sons.

As The Guardian noted in its review in 2010, the two bands both offer a glimpse of the pastoral with their infectious semi-acoustic ditties.

(Speaking of that review, I rather enjoyed the way the writer led off by noting that there is no other genre of music that a band named Dry the River could ever fall into besides indie-folk rock.)

But after listening to their debut full-length album, Shallow Bed, which came out in April, it’s clear that Dry the River is its own band.

Where the Mumfords’ songs often have a quick acceleration, Dry the River make a slower progression throughout their tracks. That’s not to say they don’t cut loose a little; they just do so at a more relaxed pace.

Dry the River began as a solo project started by Norwegian vocalist-guitarist Peter Liddle, who quickly joined forces in 2009 with Will Harvey (violin) and Jon Warren (drums). Later, Matt Taylor (guitar) and Scott Miller (bass) rounded out the group, which delivered a pair of EPs and hit a number of notable festivals in England.

The Londoners then headed to Connecticut to record their LP, which is loaded with solid tracks. Besides the above two songs, other standouts include “Animal Skins”, “History Book”, “Lion’s Den”, “No Rest”, “Weights & Measures”, “Shield Your Eyes” and “Family”.

The band will be coming to the States this summer, and I fully intend to see its performance at Lollapalooza.

October 2, 2011

85 – The Dodos

Filed under: D, San Francisco — assman41 @ 5:12 pm

The Dodos are one of a long list of bands that I’ve known about for a while but had not given a proper listen to.

I got my first real taste of their stuff earlier this year at SXSW, but, even then, I wasn’t really paying attention to their set.

But, after writing about Wye Oak last week, I was reminded about The Dodos and figured it was high time to give them a spin. And, not surprisingly, it was well worth the effort.

The Dodos – Fables

Originally named Dodo Bird, the San Francisco duo of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber changed their name after fans kept referring to them as The Dodos. I first heard about them in 2008, when I saw an ad and review for their sophomore album, Visiter, in a copy of Under the Radar magazine.

Besides putting out some pretty solid indie music, the band is most notably known for its interesting instrumental arrangements.

According to Wikipedia

“Logan Kroeber plays on a drum kit without a bass drum, playing often on the rims of the drums, and also uses a tambourine taped to his shoe. During live performances they have a third member playing a vibraphone, a drum, and two cymbals placed on each other (like a hihat). Meric Long plays mainly acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars during performances. … Long has been known to favor using his fingernails instead of a guitar pick.”

I do seem to recall seeing something funky going on with their drum kit during the SXSW performance.

Anyways, I couldn’t necessarily detect anything too out of the ordinary while listening to the albums. I will note that some of the genre descriptions I saw — such as “psych folk” and “freak folk” — would be apt. But what might sound like a negative label really doesn’t detract from their sound.

The Dodos – Walking

That ditty is the opening track from Visiter. They have since put out two more albums — Time To Die in 2009 and No Color earlier this year. While Visiter is probably my favorite, the others — including 2006’s Beware of the Maniacs — aren’t too shabby either.

The Dodos – Trades & Tariffs

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