Posts tagged ‘review’

June 3, 2013

Hop on your board and ‘Ride’ Bleached’s debut

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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May 30, 2013

Eisley navigates familiar waters on ‘Currents’

For the past 10 or so years, the girls in Eisley have been making music that is just as sun drenched as their homestate of Texas, thanks to the sugary sweet angel voices of the sisters Dupree (that’s guitarist/vocalist Sherri Dupree-Bemis, keyboardist/vocalist Stacy King, and guitarist Chauntelle D’Agnosto, who make up the majority of the family band with the help from male Duprees Weston on drums and Garret on bass).

The first time I heard of Eisley was back when the sisters were all blonde babes, mostly still in their teens, doing opening duty for Coldplay (though I don’t like to admit I once paid for a Coldplay concert — I swear, they used to be cool and I was real young). I remember being struck by the overwhelming beauty of the band’s melodies, not to mention the fact that the girls looked like they could have been long lost Lisbon sisters, with matching pale locks and wide, sad eyes, their gorgeous songs always tinged with a sort of melancholy (see early cut “I Wasn’t Prepared”) and occasional creepiness (“Marvelous Things”) that lent the band an eerie Grimm’s brother quality.

Time has been kind to the Duprees, with each record since the self-released EPs they were slinging at that Coldplay concert of yore charting a very clear artistic growth and progression. The girls have left the songs about dragons behind but have perfected their dreamy, fairy tale sound. On their fourth full-length release, Eisley delivers more of the same songs they’ve become known for with their extraordinary melodical grace.

“Real World”

If you have liked anything Eisley has released in the past, you’ll probs be crazy for Currents (Released on Equal Vision May 28th). The album is even strong enough to win over new fans, as well. As a longtime Eisley listener, however, I feel as if the difference between the band’s two songwriters, Bemis and King, has become almost too pronounced, lending the album a slightly stunted feel. Bemis embraces mainstream pop-punk sensibilities with her songs’ chugging structures, while King (who also performs with the amazing Sucre) goes for a more understated beauty on her tracks. It’s that dreamy quality that leads King to take MVP of this album, with her songs “Real World” and “Lost Enemies” lingering in the listener’s head long after the melodies have dissipated.

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May 21, 2013

Allison Weiss helps heartbreak go down easy

say what you mean

Pop-punk’s pulse beat strong in the mid- to late ’90s, but somewhere around the turn of the century, it seemed to trickle out. That’s not to say it disappeared, but the sound in general grew stale, as new styles of rock (often borrowing from old styles) emerged in the forefront. With Allison Weiss‘ new album, Say What You Mean, that brand sounds fresh again. Weiss doesn’t necessarily bring much new to the table, but something about her interpretation of the genre brought it back to life in my ears. Her solid power chords, classic yet stimulating, and vocals that convey emotion as much as the lyrics themselves probably have a lot to do with it.

Music can be so powerful when its effect on you is not only visceral, but emotional. I think that’s where Weiss won me over with this release, because her heartbreak is so relatable — as heartbreak is wont to be, I suppose. She covers a decent range of scenarios that can come from a rough break-up, using varied levels of sass to drive her point throughout the album.

Say What You Mean opens with “Making It Up,” a relatively light, poppy tune, implementing a bit of synth atop the basic guitar/bass/drums set-up. The song pleads to an ex-lover who’s acting like whatever they had together never happened: “Am I making it up? Was it not what you said? Was I never the one? Was it all in my head?” This juxtaposition of cheerful melody to despondent lyrics is always a satisfying angle, because instead of burying the listener in sad feelings, it uplifts them.

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June 4, 2012

Entranced by Melody Gardot: ‘The Absence’

If you sit under a tree long enough, either somebody finds you, or you find yourself.

Here’s the thing, I’m not big on Jazz — and yes, before you ask, I have listened to “good jazz,” and I’m still. not. big. on it. But Melody Gardot? She does the kind of jazz that I AM big on. Mostly that’s due to her lovely, throaty vocals, and the fact that all her songs make me want to watch old movies and drink cocktails all day. Plus, she sings a lot in French, which is a sure way to steal my heart.

Maybe it makes me an old lady, but I love pouring myself a drink and lounging around to some Gardot, pretending I’m a bored ’50s housewife who lives on the French Riviera … or something. Anyway!

Both My One and Only Thrill and Worrisome Heart are full of pretty love songs and swaying, pleasing melodies — so I was pretty psyched when I saw the announcement for her new album, The Absence. As Ms. Gardot explains in the video above, she stopped touring to travel and immerse herself in writing for the new album.

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March 2, 2012

Imperial Teen’s ‘Feel the Sound’ is Made for Dance Parties

It’s probably too snarky to say that Feel the Sound is the “feel-good album of the year,” but I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch.

From the first bouncy notes of “Runway” all the way through to the soft, dreamy finish of “Overtaken,” Imperial Teen‘s latest is a hand-clapping, jump-up-and-down, screaming-with-joy celebration of fun, indie pop. Bubblegum notes mix with fuzzy riffs and plenty of ahhh-ahhhh, ooooohhs, and whoa-ohs for a near perfect retro-modern feel.

It’s made for one-woman dance parties, smiling “skipping along the street” montages, and sunny sing-along road trips. It’s also one of the most cohesive, and tightest, albums I’ve ever heard. There are no missteps here — each song bleeds seamlessly into the next with no doubt of its infectious direction.

Need more convincing? You can stream Feel the Sound for free at Merge Records, and then buy the download for cheaps ($8.99) if you love it as much as I do. And I think you will.

No Matter What You Say
Hanging About
All the Same
Out From Inside

February 6, 2012

Living Hard in ‘Pus City’: Monogamy Party Vinyl Review

Ok, this is a few months late as far as the release dates go, but “better late than never,” someone once told me. I also tagged this as a “Best of 2011″ because dammit it is! I received my 10” Monogamy Party Pus City LP just a while ago from Good To Die Records and I’ve been spinning it for as long as I’ve had it. In reality it hasn’t even made it onto the shelf yet.  So let’s get this party started.

Monogamy Party is a three-piece, no holds barred, punk-induced nightmare, landing smack dab in your face. Unlike your conventional three-piece, what this band doesn’t have is a guitarist, and it makes perfect sense. Yos-Wa holds his own on bass duties and vocals, as lead singer Kennedy, belts out fantastic lyrics. Their drummer Keith holds down the fort with solid, yet fast, rhythms. Listening to the album, you don’t even miss the guitar. As partial as I am to bass players, being one myself, I give mad props to Yos-Wa and his heavy, distorted rhythmic playing and his Rickenbacker’s clean mid-range thump. His blend of clean and effected passages really give a 2-dimensional quality to the overall sound of the album. Who needs those extra six strings getting in the way of perfection?

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