Infinite Shuffle

February 19, 2013

147 – Longwave

Filed under: L, Manhattan — assman41 @ 2:09 am

The priciest and most important purchase I’ve made so far in my life — besides a couple of vehicles — is my laptop. When I broke down a few years ago and decided to get a new one, I went all out and chose a MacBook, which cost me about $1,600.

I generally am not the type of person whose life revolves around material goods. But I have to admit, ever since I obtained this little guy in November 2008, it’s added a little bit of joy to each of my days.

And, while there are several reasons I love having it, the biggest change has been my improved music experience — in regards to listening, downloading, storing and any other facet you can think of.

I’m not going to continue rambling on about my computer. I only brought it up because I was recently reminded of the period when it first came into my possession. One of the first things I did was start searching for music and trying to build my iTunes library.

And one of the first songs that I ever put on there turned out to be a KEXP Song of the Day podcast that I could only listen to on the laptop. It was “No Direction” by Longwave. I hadn’t listened to said song in several years, but I recently saw the band listed among related artists to Film School, and my memories of the song and the laptop came rushing back.

So, more than four years since I first heard that song, I finally got around to listening to the rest of the band’s catalog. And, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The band was formed in New York City in 1999 by guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Steve Schiltz. The quartet got its big break while playing at the Luna Lounge in the Lower East Side. It signed to the club owner’s record label and put out its debut, Endsongs, in 2000.

Despite there being no real standout tracks, the album was solid and eventually helped land the band an opening spot for such acts as The Strokes and The Vines. That in turn led to a record deal with RCA.

And in 2003 came Longwave’s major-label debut, The Strangest Things. This album was a notable step forward for the group as it continued to hone its sound. Several sources label the Longwave as a shoegaze or post-punk band. But their sound is more reminiscent of such alt-rock contemporaries as Jimmy Eat World and Nada Surf — and maybe even Filter at their poppiest.

The above video is one of the best tracks from the album, the opener, “Wake Me When It’s Over”. “Everywhere You Turn” is a close second, while “I Know It’s Coming Someday” is another solid entry.

Prior to heading to the recording studio for their next album, Longwave lost half of their roster with the departure of the bassist and drummer. They made do and, in 2005, put out There’s a Fire. The lineup change didn’t seem to have a huge impact, other than maybe adding a little more edge to the album.

The standout is the closing track, “Underneath You Know the Names”. Also strong are the title track, “Tell Me I’m Wrong” and “Fall On Every Whim”.

Not long after the album’s release, Sony (RCA’s parent company) merged with BMG, which resulted in Longwave leaving the label. That led the members to go on hiatus and try some side projects. Eventually, they got back together, signed with an indie label and released Secrets Are Sinister in 2008.

Once again, there are several strong tracks, including “Sirens In the Deep Sea”, “Satellites”, “The Devil and the Liar” and the aforementioned “No Direction”.

Considering the band’s loose footing at the time and the four-year span since its last release, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that was Longwave’s last hurrah. At least it was a good one.

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July 27, 2011

77 – Cults

Filed under: C, Manhattan — assman41 @ 9:22 pm

The recent resurgence of all-girl groups on the indie scene reached a peak with bands such as Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls channeling the sounds of the late 1950s/early ’60s.

A couple of years later, Best Coast took that sound, cut the harmonizing down to one female voice and added a lo-fi, surfer/slacker vibe.

Now Cults comes along, with female vocalist Madeline Follin, who sounds like she could’ve been a member of The Shangri-Las or some other group from that era. Paired with instrumentalist and backup vocalist Brian Oblivion, the Manhattan duo has taken the girl-group sound back to its roots and slowed things down with a slightly gothy layer.

Cults – Bumper

The two New York University students formed a band in 2010 and rose to prominence when they released a three-song EP. In June 2011, Cults put out a self-titled full-length debut, to much critical praise.

Cults – Go Outside

The production seems sparse, but it’s complex enough that it’s inviting and not annoying.

Follin’s vocals call to mind a hybrid sound of contemporary singers Bethany Costenzo (Best Coast) and Zola Jesus.

Cults – Never Heal Myself

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