April 2, 2014
I will forever sing the praises of Wil Farr, and not just because we have the same birthday. Dude’s been making some of my favorite tunes for the past decade or so, and since teaming up with his latest band, Hurrah! A Bolt of Light!, things have been really jiving. Hurrah!’s fan-funded, self-titled second album feels like a natural evolution from the band’s debut.
Hurrah’s 2011 album, Hello!, was a balanced blend of alt-country sincerity and unbridled rock energy. My favorite song from the band’s full-length debut, “One Drink,” took a simple melody and ran like hell with it. It is still one of my go-to rage therapy aids.
On the new release, Hurrah! reins in that fury a bit, resulting in something that sounds a bit more mature and refined. Compared to early demo recordings of several songs on this album, the band clearly made an effort to sand things down on this outing. “Hands in the Bees’ Nest” particularly reached fruition with a deeper elegance than its original manifestation, trading Farr’s bristling growls for anguished cries.
The album opens strong with “I Sold My Soul,” a relatively upbeat tune showered with handclaps and a catchy chorus of “oh whoa oh”s. It’s easily the most fun, accessible song the band’s put out, and even carries what sounds to be a sweet plea of everlasting (even if a bit futile) love. It’s an appropriate reintroduction to the many talents within the group, Jacob Pleakis returning to pound out keys, Kenny Shaw kickin’ it on the drums, a low bassline from Doug Drewes, and driving guitar licks from Dave Freedman accompanying the stylings of bandleader Farr.
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December 30, 2013
Well, you haven’t heard much from me this year at hearingade, but I’ve still heard plenty of music worth talking about. For my music-obsessed heart and soul, the end-of-year list dies hard. As is the nature of lists, not all of what I loved will be able to make the cut, but I think I’ve managed to pick out the albums I’d be most likely to offer up as recommendations if so prompted. And isn’t that basically the purpose behind these things anyway? I just wanna do my part in making sure that this remarkable music gets the love it deserves, for whatever my part is good for.
1. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine
Often albums that come out early in the year have the misfortune of being played out by the time we start writing these lists. A lot of albums I loved last winter aren’t making the cut because they don’t excite me like they did in the beginning. However, Aly Spaltro’s latest has not lost any appeal over the months. She has a wonderful approach to the guitar rock genre and a palpable passion behind the coarse words she spits forth.
2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
For the most part, I avoid including albums that are all over mainstream media’s year-end lists, because I like to give exposure to the things people aren’t as likely to have heard yet. But I have to be honest and include The National here because my 2013 was full of this album. Matt Berninger’s signature somber vocal delivery, with its elegant use of accompaniment, is complete with emotionally smart lyrics that continue to prove he’s a guy keenly aware of the universe.
3. Samantha Crain – Kid Face
I’ve long been a fan of Samantha Crain’s, but she’s outdone herself with Kid Face. Produced by John Vanderslice at his Tiny Telephone studio in California, it’s the most refined she’s ever sounded as her songs marry guitar, piano, violin, banjo and percussion like they were blood.
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October 31, 2013
In case you’re out of the music loop, 2013 has been a great year of music for your latest Halloween mixes. And sometimes, even if the song doesn’t quite fit, the artists manage to put together a music video that sets the tone just right. There are werewolves, vampires, zombies, graveyards, murder, sundry weird shit, and even a little apocalypse action. Here’s a round-up of some very appropriate videos to help put you in the Halloween mood:
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June 13, 2013
It’s understandable if Wenatchee music isn’t on your radar. Wenatchee is a small rural community in the middle of Washington state, so there’s relatively not much homegrown music to seek out. But as a resident, I can say there is plenty of good stuff around here if you look in the right places. And it just so happens that, right now, Hearingade is the right place! One of Wenatchee’s very most venue-packing bands, Poor Folks Live Well, just debuted a music video this week for “O General” off their 2012 EP, 40 Years of Famine. Give it a looksee; let it rock your face today.
June 6, 2013
Oh damn, Archie Powell and his trusty Exports have done gone and quaked my heart again. Their new music video for “Only So Much You Can Do,” by Rhapsody Productions, premiered yesterday at Diffuser.fm, and it’s a horror lover’s dream! The sequences are akin to those creepy found tapes in “V/H/S,” full of darkness, fear and gore, as the boys rush through hallways trying to escape some unseen threat. All we know is that it’s oozing some gross gooey gunk and it’s super sneaky. As much as I love those guys, I can’t deny how much I’ve enjoyed watching their blood splattering all over the place.
On the same day, Archie Powell & the Exports released the song as a single on Bandcamp with previously unreleased b-side “Screening Calls.” Snag it for just $1!
June 3, 2013
Surf rock seems to be a genre that’s withstood generations of musical shifts, relentless all through the psychedelic ’60s, the metal ’70s, the synthy ’80s, the alternative ’90s, and straight into the new millennium. Even when it didn’t sound like it rode a wave right onto your speakers’ shores, there’s never really been a time since its inception that it couldn’t be heard in abundance.
So some could say that albums like sister surf rock group Bleached‘s debut full-length Ride Your Heart are a dime a dozen. Especially among established contemporaries such as the Drums, Best Coast, Wavves, Veronica Falls, and Tennis. And those people wouldn’t be totally wrong. There’s certainly been a surge in today’s indie rock banks of this particular style, and at times these melodies can start to all sound very much the same.
But there’s a reason why music like this maintains such a strong presence. Its sound embodies a feeling of freedom from everyday life. In all its potential to be mundane, its mere existence symbolizes an escape from the mundane. Those surf guitars send your mind straight to the beach, which is a common place people consider a break from reality, relaxing in the sun and sand, splashing around in the water to wash your cares right away. You can be just sitting at your desk, but when these songs play, you’re taken there, and it’s such a release.
Bleached doesn’t try to mess with this formula, instead keeping the style pretty classic on Ride Your Heart. At times, Jennifer and Jessie Clavin sound like Joey and Johnny Ramone incarnate — especially on album opener “Looking for a Fight” and the subsequent “Next Stop” — but with more reverb.
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