Infinite Shuffle

June 28, 2014

209 – Ponychase

Filed under: Nashville, P — assman41 @ 12:24 pm

While looking for a new, permanent site to stream music following the demise of MOG, I decided to use Bandcamp during the interim. It’s a site that has been paying big dividends for me, but one that I’d never taken full advantage of.

Rather than just include a couple of videos for a band, it allows me the ability to embed an entire album stream in my posts. Besides that, I’d used it often to easily listen to full catalogs from bands.

But recently I tried something new on Bandcamp — searching for new acts. After bouncing around the site a bit, I stumbled across the “Fan Spotlight” section and saw this review by Abby Holmes regarding the band Ponychase and its debut album, Parade of Youth:

“Friends” is like a song that plays at the end of an ’80s romantic comedy/drama when the leads rush to each other and do a spin-kiss. And that feeling you get when you see those two characters is exactly the feeling you get while playing this album.

She’s right. But that description would be apt for the whole album, not just its second track.

The vibe is there from the beginning on the opening title track all the way through to closer “Melissa”. It’s like the soundtrack to the teenage years for anyone who had a Brat Pack poster on his or her wall.

Photo credit: Patrick Rodgers (http://instagram.com/p/N5Lxk4Ij0Q/)

Photo credit: Patrick Rodgers (http://instagram.com/p/N5Lxk4Ij0Q/)

And just the like the album, the band itself is jam-packed full of awesome. The Nashville-based quartet is something of a Music City supergroup. It all starts with singer/songwriter Jordan Caress, who honed her skills as a multi-instrumentalist in backing bands for Caitlin Rose, Tristen and others.

Joining Caress are her brother, Alex (Little Bandit), who churns out spot-on nostalgia via the synthesizers, Beth “EG” Cameron (Forget Cassettes) on guitar and Brian Siskind (Fognode, Good Rester) on drums.

On “Resurrected”, another strong track, the opening notes almost mimic those of David Lee Roth’s take on “California Girls”. But it quickly turns in to a slow, shoegazey tune that would fit well on a Lykke Li album.

The sugary sweet sounds belie the melancholic tone of the lyrics that describe the struggle of growing up as an LGBT teenager. Like in “House in the Valley”, where Jordan yearns “to live in a house in the valley, where my parents and my teachers can’t find me” and trying to “heal” her “disease.”

The full-length album came out this past March, and was preceded by a self-titled EP in November 2012 that acts as a great appetizer to the main course.

Besides Bandcamp, Facebook and Twitter, Ponychase don’t seem to have an official website. And it doesn’t appear that they are touring at the moment. But you probably have a decent chance of catching them if you happen to be spending some time in Nashville.

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March 17, 2014

198 – Wild Cub

Filed under: Nashville, W — assman41 @ 12:19 am

Since I couldn’t make it to Austin for SXSW, I figured I’d seek out some bands playing one of the more trustworthy showcases — the Paste magazine party. That’s how I happened upon Thumpers, and it’s also why I finally decided to give Wild Cub a try.

I’d heard of the band once or twice, but I hadn’t listened to it — or so I thought. While jamming out to the 2013 debut album, Youth, I was searching for something that sounded similar in my iTunes library and discovered that I had previously downloaded it several months ago for my brother. Then I recalled him suggesting the band and telling me it was right up my alley.

Turns out he was correct.

Hopefully, I’m not the only person who immediately hears TV on the Radio singer Tunde Adebimpe when listening to Wild Cub front man Keegan DeWitt do his thing. The music is obviously different, but the voices are strikingly similar.

So, with that in mind, the best description for Wild Cub would be a synth-heavy indie-pop band fronted by a toned-down version of Adebimpe.

Throughout Youth, the band oscillates between an homage to ’80s synth-pop and something with a funkier, island-tinged sound. Besides the standout tracks that open the disc — “Shapeless”, “Colour” and the above hit “Thunder Clatter” — the other most notable point on the album is the coupling of tracks 6 and 7.

It starts with “The Water”, which sounds like a mash-up of TVOTR and The Cure. And that vibe continues on “Drive”, which is like a cover of a song that The XX wishes it had recorded.

The band formed after DeWitt, tired of Brooklyn’s high cost of living, relocated to Nashville in 2008 to focus on his music. He met multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bulluck, and they, along with Dabney Morris, Harry West and Eric Wilson, founded Wild Cub.

They have already performed at several prominent festivals, including SXSW, Bonnaroo and CMJ, as well as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon earlier this year. So, with any luck, that is a sign of bigger things to come.

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.

May 14, 2013

159 – LEAGUES

Filed under: L, Nashville — assman41 @ 4:09 pm

I’m not exactly sure when I first heard the band, LEAGUES, or what song of theirs was being played at the time. (More than likely, it was on a random mix via MOG.) But whatever the source and track, one thing is certain, it was enough to prompt me to jot down the band’s name so I could listen to more in the future.

That time finally came this past weekend as I spun through the Nashville trio’s debut album, You Belong Here, a handful of times and grew to love it a little more with each listen.

The first thing that stands out about this album is the lack of filler. There are several notable tracks, but nothing on here should be considered a throwaway. The above song, “Walking Backwards”, is the standout, but there are several others hot on its heels, including the title track, “Haunted”, “Pass My Way”, “Lost It All” and “Mind Games”.

In trying to conjure bands that might accurately be called contemporaries, the first that comes to mind is Vampire Weekend. But that’s mostly based on the way lead singer Thad Cockrell spits out his vocals. Otherwise, LEAGUES’ music is far more accessible than their Brooklyn counterparts.

Another similar band is Two Door Cinema Club and specifically their 2010 debut disc, Tourist History, which was filled with loads of catchy electro/indie-rock songs and lacked any real filler. In fact, LEAGUES’ first big single, “Spotlight”, is probably only my seventh favorite song here.

The vibe of this album is perfect for the summer. And, hopefully, the band can capitalize on that as it is currently touring the country. It has several stops in my general area, but I doubt I’ll have a chance to make it to one. It’s too bad because I have a feeling this band will be blowing up pretty soon.

April 3, 2011

SXSW 2011: Follow-up

Filed under: Austin, Lafayette La., Los Angeles, Nashville, SXSW — assman41 @ 5:24 pm

After the barrage of music I listened to leading up to and during SXSW, I sent my ears on hiatus for a little while afterward. Upon returning home, the only music I listened to for about a week and a half was whatever was on the radio during my commute to and from work.

Now that I’ve had plenty of time to recuperate, I’m back with a vengeance. I downloaded as much stuff as I could find from all the new bands I discovered in Austin and have been lying on my couch listening to it all for the past day or so.

Rather than putting them in any special order, I’ll just discuss the bands in the order that I listened to them.

The Civil Wars

As I noted in a previous post, The Civil Wars are just a man and a woman — John Paul White and Joy Williams — and they’re from East Nashville, Tenn., and Muscle Shoals, Ala., respectively.

They sing beautiful country harmonies over an acoustic guitar and an occasional violin. At times, Williams’ voice kinda reminded me of Alison Krauss.

All of the songs on their debut full-length album, Barton Hollow, are solid, but the title track is definitely the highlight.

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

GIVERS

I kinda regret missing these guys. This was the band that my friends saw while I was soaking up all the free food and beer I could while crashing a private party across the street from said show.

All of my friends said GIVERS was one of the best bands they saw during the week, and they’ve received a lot of positive post-festival reviews — including shout-outs from NPR and Time magazine.

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2060909_2060910_2060865,00.html

The quartet, which hails from Lafayette, La., plays very solid, indie-pop with an Afrobeat vibe reminiscent of Vampire Weekend and a little island flair.

GIVERS – Up Up Up

They put out a five-song EP in 2009 and will thankfully be releasing their debut LP next month.

Lord Huron

A perfect opening act for GIVERS would be Lord Huron. They sound a lot like the Fleet Foxes, but with a notable island twist.

Lord Huron – Mighty

The group is from Los Angeles, with roots in Michigan, and has put out a pair of EPs — 2009’s Into the Sun and last autumn’s Mighty. With only seven songs between to the two discs, they’re definitely leaving me wanting more.

I am most assuredly looking forward to their first full-length release, whenever that may be. In the meantime, maybe I’ll go see them when they pass through Chicago in May.

Zookeeper

I’ll be the first one to admit that Zookeeper really isn’t as good as I thought after seeing them live. Maybe it was the fever’s fault, but when I saw them the first night I was in Austin, I found myself transfixed by their music on multiple occasions.

I remember comparing them to acts such as The Band when I saw them live. But after listening to their album, Becoming All Things, that is no longer apt.

Really, I’d just call the Austin group a run-of-the-mill indie folk group.

Zookeeper – Boy & The Street Choir

The Lemurs

Speaking of my first night in Austin, it’s clear that the best band I saw that day was actually The Lemurs.

The hometown crew had the Ghost Room jumping with their surprisingly solid indie rock set.

They also mix in plenty of electronica and called to mind VHS or Beta a bit.

The Lemurs – My Definition

This comparison may be totally inane, but on at least one song, the vocals reminded me of a non-British Simon Le Bon.

I feel like these guys have the potential to breakout nationally.

November 29, 2010

53 – Kopecky Family Band

Filed under: K, Nashville — assman41 @ 3:03 am

Even though I have a big logjam of All Songs Considered podcasts, I will make it a point to listen to every single one of them. Not only because they play songs by so many great bands — many of which I haven’t heard of — but because otherwise, I’d miss true unknown gems such as the Kopecky Family Band.

The gurus over at NPR led off their CMJ recap podcast with a track from this band that they’d discovered during the showcase.

Each song by this seven-piece outfit from Nashville is led vocally by a man (Gabe) and woman (Kelsey Joy) working in perfect harmony. They kinda remind me of The Magic Numbers in that way. But I don’t want you to think that’s necessarily who they sound like — this group has much more of a folk vibe going for it.

With seven members in the band, you get a lot of different instruments, but the two that will catch your ear immediately are the cello and violin.

With all those instruments, along with the dual vocals, all of the songs are very full. Gabe’s vocals remind me a lot of the lead singer from Gomez, while Kelsey Joy’s don’t remind me of anyone in particular — they’re just really solid.

The dudes at NPR said the band is amazing live, and after watching this impromptu clip, I would have to concur.

Since forming in late 2007, the group has released a pair of EPs — Embrace and Disaster. I already consider the latter to be among the best albums of the year.

For more on Kopecky Family Band, check out their MySpace page and the official website.

July 11, 2010

35 – Paper Route

Filed under: Nashville, P — assman41 @ 3:01 am

On their 2008 EP, Are We All Forgotten, the band Paper Route exudes a mixture of Coldplay and Band of Horses, with a little Shiny Toy Guns and VHS or Beta thrown in for good measure.

Since forming in 2004, the quartet from Nashville, Tenn., has churned out five EPs — starting with a self-titled one in 2006 — and last year released its first full-length album, Absence.

I first heard about them last year in an issue of Alternative Press. I can’t remember what the blurb in the magazine said about the band, but it intrigued me enough to check out its MySpace page. And I instantly liked what I was hearing.

While several contemporaries stood out in their earlier work, on Absence, Paper Route’s sound had evolved enough to where it became difficult to pick out any certain influences. Instead, they had began to develop their own sound.

Paper Route – Carousel

Some of the bands that Amazon.com links to Paper Route include Mutemath, Phoenix, Keane, Owl City and The Temper Trap. That’s not too surprising, considering how important the electro aspect is to Paper Route’s music.

Here is my favorite song off of Absence:

Paper Route – Last Time

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