Afghan Whigs- Do to the Beast
Apr 10, 2014
Saying that a dude named José González is Swedish seems incorrect, but we‘ll go with it. In keeping with the tradition of fellow Swedes like Björk and The Tallest Man on Earth, José González has been cranking out some very heartfelt and personal music since the early 2000s. With two studio albums and a handful of EPs, González has already proven his worth as a singer-songwriter, so why wouldn‘t he try his hand at making music with a full, cohesive band?
Junip is that band. And Junip sounds a lot like González‘s solo stuff, as it should. But Junip is also about growth. González has grown—he‘s added a drummer and a keyboardist/organist. The sound has grown—it‘s become fuller and more realized. González‘s warm, earnest vocals howl and hum over ringing nylon-stringed guitars, silent cymbals, handclaps and bright keyboard tickles (imagine Phoenix playing Radiohead‘s “I Might Be Wrong”). There‘s something ominously charming about Junip‘s sun-behind-the-clouds sound. Whatever it is, it‘s bound to captivate.
Listen to the warm strums of "Always":
Hailing from Brooklyn, Sisters has been on the music scene since early 2006. Only two people make up the whole band, with Aaron Pfannebecker on the guitar and vocals and Matt Conboy picking up the drums and keyboard, but they make enough sound and have enough energy to not need anyone else.
With their newest album, Ghost Fits, Sisters shows off their signature sounds: distorted guitar solos, catchy keyboard melodies, hard-hitting drums and vocals that never sound the same in two different songs. Sisters has been compared to the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, incorporating as many different styles and genres of music into their work as they can while still making it sound good. Everything Sisters play is an explosion of noise and energy, and they weren’t far off when they told listeners on their myspace page that their sound could be compared to that of a firecracker.
Listen to "Wake Me Up," off of Sisters' new album:
Screamed, poetic vocals and sharp instrumental intrusions embody the ideals of Les Savy Fav‘s noise rock. Their cavalier speak-singing matched with a grungy, garage band underscore in songs like "Excess Energies" creates nostalgia for teenage rebellion and authoritarian hatred.
In contrast, "High and Unhinged" shows lead singer Tim Harrington‘s attention to quality as the lyrics take precedence over instrumentals. "Calm Down" creates a middle ground between the two, keeping some of the angst from "Excess Energies" while continuing the emphasis on lyrical quality found in "High and Unhinged."
Though Les Savy Fav may come across as cliché, tormented punk rock, Harrington‘s expressive lyrics keep the listener from hitting the "next" button.
Check out the angst-ridden anthem "Excess Energies":
Under the leadership of percussionist Adam Pierce, Mice Parade (an anagram of Pierce‘s name), has been around for over a decade. With members constantly shifting, Mice Parade currently is Pierce, Doug Scharin (HiM), Dylan Cristy (The Dylan Group), Rob Laasko, Caroline Lufkin, Dan Lippel and Josh McKay (Macha). Hailing from New York, the band is ready to release its eighth (and first since 2007) album on Fat Cat Records, What It Means to be Left- Handed.
Mice Parade sounds like Fridge and Modest Mouse mixed with the electronic experiments of The Dylan Group. They‘re influenced heavily by a post-rock genre, incorporating world beat and some electronica influences, too.
The instrumentation and vocals in the first half What It Means to be Left-Handed are dazzling in a "feel-good" sort of way. Beginning with an almost majestic "Kupanda," co-written by the band and Swahili vocalist Somi, the first half is the album‘s finest. Immediately following "Kupanda" is something more inventive and better "In Between Times." Also noteworthy in the first half is "Do Your Eyes See Sparks."
Although What It Means to be Left-Handed challenges boundaries, it‘s with a grace that will not disappoint.
Check out "In Between Times":
After nearly a year of touring with Cursive, the band’s lead singer Tim Kasher retreated to Whitefish, MT to work on his first solo album--The Game of Monogamy. Mixing classic orchestral instruments like the trumpet, harp, cello and piano with the electric guitar and drum, Kasher’s debut transports the listener to a time where 1950s music meets the brash lyrical honesty of the 2000s.
The Game of Monogamy tells the stories of love, lust and regret over a jazzy, ‘50s pop-influenced music. Kasher isn’t afraid to poke fun at society’s take on these subjects. In the tongue-in-cheek, upbeat, cabaret-style “Bad, Bad Dreams,” Kasher sings about lusting after women and cries out “I need a priest.” Other tracks are more sobering tales of lost, faded love.
The Game of Monogamy is a treat for the ears and soul. Kasher doesn’t hold back, giving an unabashed performance the indie world is more than ready for.
Check out "Cold Love":
With two full-length albums already under their belt, the Megafaun trio took a break from touring to record Heretofore, a six song EP that clocks in at just less than 34 minutes.
The first half of the EP breezes through with strong songs that show off the vocal and orchestral talents of all three band members, Bradley Cook, Phillip Cook and Joseph Westerlund.
The second half has two strong efforts with “Volunteers” and “Bonnie’s Song.”
Overall Heretofore is a strong step forward for the band, and considering it was only an exercise in songwriting and recording, we can expect bigger and better things from Megafaun in the future.
Listen to "Volunteers":
Ray LaMontagne, America's favorite smoky-voiced soul stallion, returned at summer’s end with his latest collection of gospel-folk sweeps. God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise is a flavorful slice of LaMontagne's patented foot-stomp soul, though the album takes a quiet dive after the initial rumbling tracks.
A more low-key album than 2008’s loose Gossip in the Grain, God Willin’ pounds and rolls along with percussive strums and LaMontagne’s signature rusty howl (especially on "Repo Man," the album's lead-off riot track). On the third or fourth song, LaMontagne slows down, making heartfelt observations like the charmingly honest "New York City's Killin' Me."
The bearded LaMontagne teamed up with gritty backers The Pariah Dogs in rural Massachusetts to make the album, a 10-track diary of a bearded guy who calls ‘em like he sees ‘em. Part country-folk, part swinging soul, God Willin’ is all heart.
Check out "New York City's Killin' Me":
Warm surf-guitar tones crash and swell like waves as distant horns echo in the moonlight. “I’m stranded and I’m starry-eyed,” howls lead singer Hamilton Leithauser, narrating “Stranded”.
It’s easy to get lost in The Walkmen’s sixth album, Lisbon. Their unique spin on surf rock evokes vivid imagery both lyrically and musically. The songs transport the listener through vast landscapes of summer beaches and blankets of snow. Songs like “Juveniles” peacefully float, while others like “Angela Surf City” whirr with tempo and distortion.
Lisbon shows muscle, but The Walkmen use infinite control. Even the rawest songs sound effortless. The brilliantly orchestrated ode to the Portuguese city will easily whisk you away.
Check out "Stranded":
Nathan Williams (lead singer, guitar player, and mastermind behind Wavves) has this California punk, no care air about him, but he let’s his guard down for about 40 minutes in his third album King of The Beach.
Last year Wavves was full of dramatic twists and turns from having an onstage meltdown in Spain, to canceling his tour, then his drummer quitting the band. It seemed like Wavves was just one of those groups that got too crazy before they even reached their peak. This time he did things differently. He got the late Jay Reatard’s rhythm section to be a part of his band and actually recorded his songs in a studio for the first time. Dennis Herring (producer for Modest Mouse) produced the album and exposed Williams voice a bit more than usual to hear what is really going on in his brain.
In the album he sings about love, misery, self-loathing, loneliness, being lazy, no one liking him, and smoking; the regular California lifestyle. It’ll be hard for his haters of past albums to feel the same this time around. It's thrashy, beach punk that does not hold back.
Right from the beginning of the album you can hear the Beach Boys influenced fuzzy poppy tracks combined with Nirvana -like grunge punk. All of his songs are full of grit and this pent up anger and energy that just explodes through the speakers. “When Will You Come”, “Baseball Cards”, and “Mickey Mouse” are a bit more different. They're more soothing and make you feel like your in a drug induced coma that gives you a break from the madness.
Songs such as “Take On The World” and “Green Eyes” he completely bashes himself. In “Take On The World” he says how much he hates himself and his writing, but still dreams of one day taking over the world. In “Green Eyes” he completely has no belief in himself saying that “my own friends hate my guts”, but in the end he doesn’t care enough to change anything. The single “Post Acid” he cries for someone to listen to him “Misery, will you comfort me in my time of need would you understand? Understand won’t you understand in my time of need would you understand?” But he later reminds you that he doesn’t want anything serious, he’s just looking to have fun.
This is not a serious album, all Williams is trying to show is that he does not give a damn what others think or say. He just wants to do his thing and rock out. That being said, angst-ridden youth will flock to this album and rejoice at finding an outlet to pour their frustrations into.
Check out "Post Acid":