Getting high and setting the results to tape has worked in so many different instances that Dinosaur Jr.’s sometimes basser Lou Barlow must have had some idea he was embarking on a lasting project back in the eighties when he started issuing work under the name Sebadoh. Being removed from the Dinos only forced the songwriter to focus his bewildered efforts on his then-newer work. The creepy narrative found on “Little Man” from “The Freed Man” album summons a similar vibe as the Velvet’s “The Gift,” apart from the fact that only the latter offers anything in the way of musical ingenuity. Read the rest of this entry »
If you toss on the right disc, and wait just long enough, Busdriver raps. And when he raps, hip-hop’s full promise is realized. But only for a few moments. Since the beginning of his career, the SoCal MC’s swayed back and forth between an updated digital boom-bap and works that rank as electro-pop. Over the course of “Memoirs of the Elephant Man” and “Temporary Forever” most of American culture’s taken to task, with a few tossed-off songs touching on relationships included for good measure. The MC’s collaboration with various Project Blowed performers, though, helped nab some attention for those early discs. And by the time Busdriver recorded as The Weather with Radioinactive and Daedelus in 2003, the MC had solidified his oddly pitched and uniquely syncopated flow. Read the rest of this entry »
The fact that this Montreal-based band writes most of their material in French should not be a reason for alt-rock fans not to check them out. These guys have been packing venues with 3000-plus capacity back home while performing at much smaller rooms in the United States, but it’s just a matter of time before they are discovered by more mainstream audiences Stateside, in the same manner that folks like Manu Chao and Sigur Rós have before them.
Their sound is pretty aggressive. Guitarist and vocalist Louis-Jean Cormier sings and plays with great passion, and his band mates (keyboardist François Lafontaine, bass guitarist Martin Lamontagne, percussionist Julien Sagot, and drummer Stéphane Bergeron) keep up with gusto in tunes like the psychedelic-inspired “Le Pyromane” (from their recently released “Les Chemins De Verre”) or the grunge-y “Le Coup D’ Etat.” Read the rest of this entry »
About the same time the world messed itself while listening to Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” in 2007, Animal Collective’s other half went and issued an album with his now ex-wife, múm’s Kría Brekkan. Avey Tare’s “Pullhair Rubeye” didn’t attract the same sort of misguided attention as “Person Pitch,” and certainly not the kind of frenzy “Merriweather Post Pavillion” garnered a few years later when the world caught up with what Animal Collective had been doing for just about a decade. Read the rest of this entry »
Ann Arbor’s funky ensemble Nomo can’t have its music reduced to a simple blurb. But it says a great deal about any working band when the four covers it counts over a career comprising just as many discs are from the utterly dissimilar catalogs of Segun Bucknor, Joanna Newsom, Moondog and Tom Zé. As wild as that combination sounds, Nomo works within some self-imposed restraints. The group’s first disc, a 2004 self-titled effort, can be wrapped easily in the afro-beat mantle. Read the rest of this entry »
You know how people describe the Beach Boys as a barber-shop quartet on acid? Yeah, not too apt an explanation of the band’s sound. But it’s meant in a positive light. Unfortunately, the same sort of reductive comparison can be used to wrap up songs like Ganglians’ “Things to Know,” off the band’s Lefse Records disc “Still Living.” The track, one of only a few lesser efforts issued here, possesses the same sort of sunny, wind-swept feel of Ganglians’ compositions from earlier discs. Read the rest of this entry »
Since they first performed live during the last quarter of 2010, folks might be wondering how the Vaccines recorded an album and got slotted into Lollapalooza. In part, the British band’s story’s tied into the digitized world, with the internet providing ample marketing opportunities. But really, the Vaccines understand how to put together simple rock songs drawing from ever-hip sources. Some of frontman Justin Young’s phrasing reeks of Morrissey, but fitting that into a supremely stripped-down rock ensemble seems to work relatively well, if not coming off like the tenth iteration of the Strokes with Brit accents. Read the rest of this entry »
For those seeking relief from this excruciating heat, let the new work of folk crooner Cass McCombs wash over you like a bucket of cool water. No, it’s not the same as standing in front of a blasting air conditioner vent, but for the musical mind, it has a similar effect.
McCombs has returned to his onetime home on his tour supporting his new album, “Wit’s End,” which was released in May. He has walked back through the door—or sauntered, rather—calm and composed. This new work hangs in a much lower and more somber place than before, requiring full attention from the listener, or rather full immersion. Without this, the bubbling blister of emotion beneath these songs won’t pop. Read the rest of this entry »
Following Jana Hunter through her folksy stage as a solo act and into Lower Dens illuminates a few trends eventually merging. By the time Hunter’s simple but not straightforward acoustic work began back in 2005 and shuffled forward for two years, the oddball folk thing had run its course. During the same period of time a countless number of beach-referencing slackers showed up in bands as far reaching as Woods and Wavves. Taking a penchant for matching her truly unique singing voice to some electric instrumentation, Hunter went and picked up players after a move to Baltimore. Lower Dens issued a self-titled debut last year, inculcated by jangly pop and a notion about using as few guitar chords as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
Ari Shine strips roots rock to the bare bones: a man and his guitar. The songs on his new album “Ghost Town Directory” transition to the stage with ease as Shine performs solo. “I always tend to write on an acoustic but this time I knew that I would be doing more shows in that format,” Shine says. “It was in my head that I would be performing them stripped down.” Shine has been relentless bringing his one-man show anywhere he can. “Truthfully, touring and recording are my favorite parts of being a musician.” There are advantages, he says, that come from touring without a backing band. “I love the without-a-net experience of playing solo. It is really cool to have that type of intimacy with an audience. I like getting things down to a really quiet point and then bringing it back up. ” Read the rest of this entry »