in addition to his duties as the antlers’ multi-instrumentalist, darby cicci has apparently been working on a side project of his own. cicci goes by the moniker school of night, and will be releasing a self-titled ep on october 15th via minus green. stereogum premiered the ep’s lead single, “lying,” earlier today. check it out below.
it’s not very often that you find a band with a name that so accurately describes their intended aesthetic. aside from the slight geographical misdirection (the sleep clinic is based out of brisbane, not vancouver), tim bettinson’s music functions just as you would expect. he openly admits that his songs are catered towards fans of bon iver and james blake; i see the former much more than the latter in his new song “vapour.”
it’s airy and driven by a very similar falsetto and acoustic guitar tandem approach to the one that appeared on justin vernon’s first album, but “vapour” also retains some discernible electronic elements, perhaps creating a loophole for people who would be quick to write him off as another rustic cabin wannabe. if it’s any consolation, i live in eau claire and think this song is worth a listen. check it out below and see for yourself.
let me recap what happened to me yesterday: i heard that dinosaur jr.’s j mascis had covered mazzy star’s “fade into you,” i happened to stumble upon the first two mazzy star albums at my local record store, and then i decided to buy so tonight that i might see, which sounds amazing on a turntable. now, taking a cue from last week’s over-exposure to beach house, mazzy star have released a new song called “california.” it’s the first single off of their upcoming album seasons of your day, their first in seventeen years, and it’s pretty nice to listen to. hear it below.
pillar point, the mysterious recent addition to the polyvinyl artist list, will release a 7″ sometime this year. we’ve already heard the a-side – “diamond mine” – and now the seattle synthpopper has shared the flip side with us. “dreamin'” is much more subdued than its predecessor, retaining a post-chillwave feel, whatever that’s supposed to mean. check it out below, courtesy of polyvinyl’s soundcloud page.
in my interview with riley lake last friday, the producer of milo’s upcoming mixtape cavalcade hinted at the possibility of its lead single dropping some time this week. call him prophetic or just simply well-informed, but riley was right; listen to and snag a free download of “ecclesiastes” below, courtesy of hellfyre club’s soundcloud page. the full mixtape drops on july 9th.
i go through broad cycles in my musical taste that continuously encompasses bands that prefer to drench their sound with fuzzed-out guitars and melancholy lyrics. when i reach this point on the cyclical pattern, i usually can’t get enough of these acts, spinning their wax on my turntable as much as possible and pumping them through my headphones at work. thankfully, pity sex caught me at the perfect moment, because i can’t stop listening.
the ann arbor quartet released their debut album, feast of love, today, its ten tracks clocking in at just under thirty minutes of gorgeous shoegaze revival with a smart pop sensibility. even though they’ve only been around for a couple of years, pity sex have made a name for themselves, utilizing last year’s dark world ep to solidify their hard-earned place in a community that is equal parts punk and indie. while dark world was rough around the edges, the band’s full-length debut feels polished in a casual lo-fi sense; the vocals blend with the instruments, but nothing sounds too muddy.
guy-girl vocals have been done in indie-pop for years in various states of depression (for self-deprecation, see the pains of being pure at heart; for things more morose, see veronica falls). while not on slumberland like these other two bands, pity sex still falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum; on album opener “wind-up,” brennan greaves warns the listener that he’s nothing special and wallows in a monotone of self-pity, but other songs like “honey pot” have an undeniable upbeat attitude that evokes something lighter from the band’s persona.
co-vocalist britty drake steals the show. her turn on “keep” bumps the song up to one of my favorites on the album, and provides a nice complement to the low mumblings of greaves. also worth mentioning is the lead guitar work found across feast of love. it’s a cut above anything i would ever expect out of a contemporary noise-pop outfit like this, and makes me flash back to early dinosaur jr.
pity sex aren’t doing anything groundbreaking, nor are they trying to do so. they don’t have to. for a group of hardcore scene kids from michigan, feast of love isn’t a bad debut at all.
volcano choir, the gorgeous bastard child of bon iver’s justin vernon and wisconsin post-rockers collections of colonies of bees, are set to release their sophomore album repave on september 3rd. the band premiered the album’s lead single, “byegone,” on the current earlier this afternoon; now it’s available to hear online. check it out below.
of all the bands that pride themselves in writing quality sad bastard music, the national have to be on the short list of bands that do so in a very convincing manner. since 2005’s alligator, matt berninger’s suave baritone coupled with the music of the dessner and devendorf brothers have been dominating the indie rock scene, earning the national spots on presidential campaign tours and a slot on damn near every one of my applicable mixtapes.
high violet turned the heads of nearly anybody who’s anybody in the music industry back in 2010; the pounding post-punk tendencies of earlier albums had mostly been quelled, giving way to signature mid-tempo songs like “terrible love” while still churning out incredibly memorable offerings in “bloodbuzz ohio” and “conversation 16.” this impressive feat was coupled with an additional handful of songs on a bonus disc that were recorded during the high violet sessions but didn’t quite fit thematically, rounding out the national’s best batch of songs to date.
to follow something so monumental with so much confidence would be a daunting task, so it’s understandable that the national took three years to do so. songs on trouble will find me began cropping up in late 2011, and a year later, the band had premiered a quarter of the album’s content in live settings. the release of lead single “demons” early this year cemented my anticipation of continuity from high violet; bryce devendorf’s signature drumming is plastered all over this track and from the moment berninger sings “i’m still in love with / everyone i grew up with,” it’s evident that his morose lyrical palate is here to stay. what threw me were tracks like “don’t swallow the cap” and “graceless,” the former of which my dad immediately compared to the cure’s earlier catalogue. this reappearance of the national’s post-punk roots was unexpected, but proves itself to be gloriously refined, courtesy of the band’s maturation.
“sea of love” seems to be the national’s follow-up attempt at recreating “bloodbuzz ohio,” a valiant effort that falls slightly short, simply due to the fact that a song of that caliber can’t be effectively replicated. plenty of tear-jerkers still exist throughout trouble will find me; “heavenfaced” and “pink rabbits” are two of my early favorites from an album that should probably be saved for an incredibly dreary day, so i can adequately soak up its aesthetic. in a world of sad, the national hold on to their crowns for another year.
as i start to branch out into more and more different subgenres of the indie rock spectrum, i inadvertently find myself attaching certain music to certain moods, as well as to certain seasons. surprisingly, summer is the hardest three-month slot to fill. for music to qualify for this illustrious position, it must reach one or both of the following criteria to the utmost degree: 1. the music must be equal parts pop and beach-ready, with superb arranging and exquisite lyrics. 2. the music must be perfect for driving late at night through the back roads of wisconsin with the windows down. the first category is home to your vampire weekends; bands i wouldn’t hesitate to listen to while drinking a pale ale on my porch or reading steinbeck on the beach. the latter group is for your japandroids of the world, with brash, guitar driven songs and sing-along choruses about youth and girls and driving and cars (see also: the gaslight anthem, early kings of leon).
on his second solo album, part-time ty segall band bassist mikal cronin manages to find some sort of curious common ground between these two categories. across the ten tracks on mcii, cronin creates bursts of fuzzed-out guitar rock infused with astute pop sensibilities, yielding anthemic results with the support of backing vocals already built in.
the extra touches cronin adds, like the 12-string guitar on “weight” and the consistently harmonized lead vocals on “am i wrong,” provide counteractions to any overbearing tendencies the aggressive distorted undertones of the album may have. the result is a record that is equal parts porch-appropriate and midnight drive-ready. vocal hooks are abound; i’ve already had the chorus of “see it my way” stuck in my head ever since mcii started streaming on npr, and cronin continues this impressive streak across the album’s entirety.
cronin the instrumentalist and arranger also deserves a nod for his superb musicianship on this album. his marriage of clean lead guitar lines over muddy, distorted rhythm tracks is surprisingly aesthetically pleasing, and his work with string arrangements on “peace of mind” and his intermittent dabbling into piano is also admirable. from the simplistic galloping tendencies of “change” to the more cohesive offerings from “peace of mind” and “shout it out” all the way down to the stripped-away brilliance of “don’t let me go,” mikal cronin has given me the record that i will be spinning in all possible scenarios this summer.