Afghan Whigs- Do to the Beast
Apr 10, 2014
Soft Circle's Shore Obsessed is the third offering of original music from the duo Ben Vida and Hisham Bharoocha. The album is full of catchy bass lines, synth-laden riffs and plenty of reverb-filled vocals.
Songs like "First Time," and "Don't Know" show off the compositional talents of both members and how each is capable of writing extremely catchy tunes. The unusal thing about Shore Obsessed is that each song offers something new and different to the listener. Each time through, the CD yields something you hadn't heard before, and that's where the dynamics of Soft Circle show through. The band offers something that causes you to come back to it. It's just too much fun to let the music go without taking another listen.
Shore Obsessed is a unique presentation of music, it will lead to many new fans of the group if they're willing to give the album a chance.
Listen to "Treading Water":
Bikini has the kind of D.I.Y. feel that’s infiltrated much of the recent indie world. What separates this group is the polish. That slightly rough-around-the-edges charm is missing from Bikini’s RIP JDS.
On first listen, big synths hook you in and stimulate. Textures build, and melodies wave by easily. The majesty of it all can actually overwhelm. But it’s not bad music. With little background knowledge, it’d be easy to peg this EP as a studio baby—a disc painfully made by two perfectionists slaving over one singular chord change or drum machine tone for hours.
Bikini seems like an electronic group with actual chops. That’s tough to come by.
Check out "American Mourning":
Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie is the debut solo album of seasoned Boston musician, Greg Lyon. After spending several years in several different bands, Lyon decided to take what he had learned about the music industry and writing songs and apply it to a solo album that he could have complete and total creative control over. Recording almost everything in his own rehearsal space, Lyon has created an album that is entirely his own style, and it’s an album to be proud of.
Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie is an album of blended musical genres. A hint of old-school ‘60s pop and a dash of folk-rock are added to the general melting pot of indie-rock, creating songs that sound simple on the surface, but are much more complex once you start digging into the album. Greg Lyon’s mission was to create an album that speaks to his own musical tastes and relates to the events of his own life, and in the process he’s created an album that speaks and relates to each and everyone of us as well.
Listen to the title track, "Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie":
Girls has always been a bunch of sappy, lovelorn beach bums. Their 2009 full-length debut, Album, showcased the band’s ability to craft succinct pop jingles, sprawling emotional outbursts and fuzz-dipped goldenrod in the span of 12 songs. A year later, Girls is still doing the same thing—moping around with crisp arpeggios and whisper-chimed vocals.
Singer Christopher Owens’ troubled upbringing in the Children of God cult has become an essential ingredient in the band’s backstory. Owens feels, and feels deeply; he wants to be happy but he knows why he sometimes isn’t. The music builds on Owens’ sentiments, rising behind him with a euphony of slide guitars and tickled ivories.
“I just want to get high, but everyone keeps bringing me down,” he sings on the title track. And that’s how the record goes—ebbs and flows of emotion mingled with sappy love-pop. “Oh So Protective One” chimes like a ‘50s school-dance pop standard, complete with a horn section. “Substance” is a self-explanatory ode to a certain mood-altering chemical agent, washed over by sun-drenched California surf guitar waves.
Important to note is that Girls are about the self. Know yourself—know how you live, know how you love—and know your limits. “You can do anything, yeah, you can rock and roll,” Owens whisper-sings on the penultimate track before adding “…out of control.” If this bunch of mid-tempo sludge-pop is any indication, Girls aren’t exactly trying to rock out. But that’s alright—they know how to be sweet and charming about it.
Listen to "Heartbreaker":
Orange Juice was a Scottish post-punk band. They originally formed in 1976 as Nu-Sonics and later became Orange Juice in 1979. Orange Juice is best known for their hit single “Rip It Up,” which reached #8 in the U.K. singles chart in February 1983. Their musical style was one that combined post-punk guitars with disco and funk rhythms similar to the Clash and Gang of Four. During the bands short-lived career between 1979 and 1984, they released four albums. Their first, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, began the slippery slope of internal strife within the band that caused the lineup to change extensively and eventually led to the bands demise.
The box set, Coals to New Castle, provides an extensive look at the band's career and is a great introduction for those who are new to the band. "Rip It Up" starts out with disco rhythm synthesizer then moves into its post punk guitar rhythms, followed by a steady free-flowing disco beat. Singer Edwyn Collins’ vocals are a mix between Mick Jones’ of the Clash and Morrissey, while his lyrics are very campy but fit together with the intricate musical style. "Blue Boy" on the other hand is straight post-punk from the band's musical archive.
"Scaremonger" is a powerful post-punk ballad that features disco and funk rhythms. The song tells of a failed marriage and features the repetitive phrase of “It didn't always be that way.” The musical style is similar to the Clash's "Lost in The Supermarket."
For whatever it’s worth, Coals to Newcastle is a very impressive box set that encompasses the band's career by giving long-time listeners new bonus material to complete their Orange Juice library and provides the essentials for new listeners to become acclimated with a band that has been long forgotten. What makes Orange Juice a great band is that these songs still feel as though they are brand new and will continue to remain brand new.
Check out the classic "Rip It Up":
Well-known for their dream-pop sound, The Radio Dept. has been playing and writing music since 1995, despite a rough start and cycling through their fair share of band members. Once the band took off, however, there was no stopping them. Since 2001, The Radio Dept. has been gaining momentum in Sweden’s indie-pop scene and is now signed to Labrador Records.
Combining smooth, almost monotonous vocals with poppy, upbeat background music is what The Radio Dept. does best. Their music begs you to take them and their lyrics seriously, but not too seriously. They might have some powerful meaning to their songs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy listening to them. The Radio Dept. is a well-balanced combination of mellowness and energy, finding the perfect median between songs you’d hear in a dance club and songs you’d find on a before-bed playlist.
Check out "Never Follow Suit":
Deep, throbbing bass beats, a chanting underlay and sporadic screaming open to door industrial alternative in Nitzer Ebb’s new album Industrial Complex. This techno troupe formed in 1982, with most of their early music stemming from experimentation with synthesizers and drum pads.
Industrial Complex sticks to its name, as the CD jumps from the rave craze of “Once You Say” and “Promises” to the more upbeat, pop feel of “On the Road” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” It seems as though the band can’t settle on one definite feel, but the entire album works well as an outreach into the many aspects of industrial techno.
Overall, the album throws a lot at you. Its multi-purpose nature gives it almost universal applicability in terms of soundtrack for social events. Where “I’m Undone” offers doleful sounds for a Saturday night spent alone, “Once You Say” is perfect for a downtown rave under black-lights. Nitzer Ebb doesn’t fall short, but Industrial Complex seems like a stepping stone to a more developed sound.
Listen to "Promises":
“My goal is to sound like I’m from 2050, but still feel really classic, like the music is an old friend,” said new Danish electro-pop sensation Oh Land. Her goal certainly has been met.
Oh Land, formerly a ballet dancer for the Danish Royal Ballet, suffered an injury causing her to retire. Due to this unfortunate event, Oh Land discovered a passion for creating vocal music. This has been an extreme success for her in Denmark. Now she moves to the U.S., hoping for the same success. Her American debut, a self-titled EP, shows great potential to take a pop-loving market by storm.
The EP starts off with catchy, downbeat heavy, “Sun of a Gun.” The song really gets you excited with every heavy electric drum beat and her sultry voice. The song has 2 other remixes on the album one done by Yuksek and another done by Savage Skulls.
The second track, “White Nights” has hit single written all over it. Her feist-esque sound combined with interval jumping synths and extremely catchy lyrics leave you wanting more. The EP continues with tracks “Rainbow” and “Wolf & I.” These tracks round out the EP and clearly define her sound.
Once Oh Land hits the ears of listeners across America, she will be on the fast track to success. This futuristic pop sound could take America by storm.
Listen to "Son of a Gun":
The 22-20s spent the time from their reformation in 2008, after a three-year break up, honing their craft of English rock. Their sophmore release Shake/Shiver/Moan is full of songs reminiscent of the Beatles, Oasis and other great rock acts out of Britain. It is obvious this band draws heavily from their influences when writing music.
The songs on Shake/Shiver/Moan range from psychedelic, to driving rock, to reflective. Songs on the album have a remarkable way of getting stuck into your head, whether you realize it or not. Often times after listening to this music, you find yourself trying to remember where you heard these songs before, only to realize they’re all in your hands.
With a very focused vision, 22-20s knows what they want to play and how to play it, it’s music you’ll wish you had been hearing your whole life.
Check out a live studio version of "Latest Heartbreak":