Wow wow wow wow
Ahem. These two songs by Cookies, Go Back and Music for Touching, are so fucking catchy and exciting, and they most definitely represent the most interesting and wild out-of-nowhere music I've heard in a long time. I can't remember when I was so blown away by a new or new-ish act...(probably Adam Moerder's Fitness stuff was the last truly crazy debut I heard).
Go Back is a little in the neighborhood of Holy Ghost's more seductive songs, though calmer, and with a killer little gear-shift slide that recurs throughout the song. Ben Sterling (the guy behind Cookies) sings desperately, pleadingly, "I just wanna go back, baby/to the way it was before, baby/Don't you wanna go back, baby/to the way it was before?"
Music for Touching brandishes that Benny and the Jets piano-pound-cum-beat like a deadly weapon, but the song moves past that pretty quickly, it gets interesting and stays interesting from the start, right when Melissa Metrick begins singing. "I've been waiting too long, I've been waiting, waiting, waiting too long, I've been waiting for you." Metrick delivers some intensely dismissive and imperious huffs in this song, the kind of filigree that makes a great song sort of unforgettable.
Music for Touching (the LP) comes out on 9/9. You can buy it from Cookies here.
Invisible bandits, skulking out of habit. A boy who was a 4th grader in 1989 grew up to become an actual ninja, though he does not make a living from his craft. Most of his business comes from curious inquiries to his craigslist postings, people who want to see him chuck a throwing star or two into their drywall, or who want him to use his nunchuks to help them roll out dough. On occasion he will lurk and spy in the service of someone who suspects their spouse of infidelity, but he does not relish this type of freelance shaming. He longs for a time when he might use all his talents in the service of a larger pursuit, something noble and thrilling perhaps, or at least more lucrative than $25 per hour house calls where he exists only as a walking diversion.
Navigator sounds like a soft death to me, like slipping away sweetly into a tender gray state of pure satisfied retrospection, a pronouncement (like Wittgenstein at the end of his life) that life on the whole was good and enjoyable and you made it, proudly, to the end. Real Estate do this type of song so well--Municipality and All The Same also touch on similar feelings: sunny Sunday afternoon thoughts of mortality, the truly mundane (screen door views of a backyard, planters that need to be taken in) side by side with the truly unfathomable (....). I've been listening to Atlas a whole lot recently because I finally work once again in an office where I can listen to music, and Atlas is quiet enough but engaging enough that I can play it two or three times a day without bothering anyone else or without getting bored of it. This album is pretty incredible, to tell the truth. I didn't think that much of it when it first came out, but it's wonderful.
This was when terrestrial developments were getting weird: birds were learning how to fly, insects were really into predation, and there was a lot of heat to the sun's light. People still were abiding by all the usual etiquette though. When you encountered someone on a forest path, you embraced them full-on, maybe offered them a plant-chew or meat-chew if you had one. The music of this period was brutal and forceful, as one can imagine, with lots of simple percussion, like hard blocks of air colliding. It was all entertaining in the way that witnessing a wildfire can be enthralling, or watching the tight waves of a lake lap on the shore can provide diversion. Music was included in the group of these so-called 'natural televisions.' Useful, but not particularly valued or contemplated.
Alvvays (which I will continue to pronounce with a heavy V sound, no matter what). Both these songs are tidy samples of what you get with the band's debut album, which is strong on charm and melody and wildness. It is occasionally a wonder to me (especially when I'm feeling less than generous regarding most radio music) that any band--regardless of where they come from, how long they've been together, etc.--can produce music that holds a listener's close attention. Alvvays's songs grab your interest immediately. And it's good and fitting to be grateful for that, particularly when there is so much music (now, always) that does little more than float by in the background. Molly Rankin has one of those voices that's so bright and clear that you can't ignore it, the kind of voice that you realize in retrospect you've been longing to hear. This album is one that I've already passed on to friends and I'll continue to do so. Perfect for mid-summer, it'll probably feel even better in the fall.
The Kinks' Arthur is the last album I heard playing in a record store (in this case Amoeba Records in Berkeley) that I immediately fell in love with. I'd never heard Arthur before, and I found it totally arresting--without knowing for sure if it was the Kinks, I went up and asked the guy behind the counter and he gestured to the CD with a sort of 'voila' movement. This happened in December and I've been listening to the album intermittently since then, and it continues to fascinate and thrill me. I'm not sure why it's so difficult (i.e. impossible) to find this in a digital version, especially considering that this is the Kinks, who are not exactly what you would call an obscure band (surely there must be some convoluted and bizarre rights issue with the album--maybe it has to do with the fact that it started off as the soundtrack to a TV show?). The CD is out there, though, plus there's a pretty fancy deluxe reissue you can buy (if you like expensive import CDs).
Beverly is Frankie Rose (lately known for her own solo work, and formerly of Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts) and Drew Citron. "Careers" is their debut album. This is definitely one of the most refreshing things I've heard in 2014, not just because all the songs are catchy and extremely well written, but also because every song contains a surprise. I realized, after listening to this album a bunch of times, that what is most impressive about "Careers" is how slippery the songs are, how difficult they can be to hold on to. Their shapes do not conform to expectations. With music like this, which is mostly guitar, drums, bass--simple instrumentation--it is, I suspect, easy to fall into a plan, a trajectory: this is a ballad, this is the fast one, this is the one with the breakdown. But with this band, there is no clear-cut path from A to B. All these songs open up in weird ways. Honey Do, in particular, is incredible for the way it breathes harder during the chorus, and then there's pocket of bright guitar towards the end (impossible to see it coming). This is an awesome album and it goes by in a flash, easy to listen to it over and over again.
White Reaper want to recreate the conditions (emotional, physical, metaphysical) of 'bearing the brunt.' They want you to embrace it, take that impact in as faithfully and sincerely as you can. Conspirator shows them at their hortatory best: everything in this song is designed to urge you towards something. Every song on their debut EP is like this too--catchy, quick, fleeting, fun, strong-willed. One of the best collections of songs I've heard in a while--you can check out their page here, and enjoy a picture of the guys standing in front of a Wawa somewhere (which incidentally makes me homesick, Wawa is the apotheosis of convenience stores).
This song has been floating around in my head lately, so I thought I'd post it. This is a circa-2005 Wolf Parade cover of Atlas Strategic's A Day in the Life...which was one of the best songs ever recorded by Atlas Strategic (Dan's old band), and featured on "Rapture, Ye Minions!" (check it out). I've been thinking about just how wonderful Wolf Parade were, how insanely talented that band was. I got to see them a couple times, and I'm thankful for that--once in New York for a weird Believer 'music issue' show, and another time in Philly (after they had added Dante DeCaro). The show in Philly happened between the first and second albums, and I remember they tested out some songs that were never released (including the awesome Things I Don't Know). They also played A Day in the Life, which was incredible that night and is still pretty incredible. It would be nice if they ever get back together--maybe in 15 years or something.
This Brave Bird song, Rekindle, reminds me so much of the catchy and breathtakingly dramatic songs I used to listen to (frequently and also with great drama) from ages 19-24. Dudes and guitars, brooding! Even the most minor of quotidian events incites frighteningly intense introspection! I love it, if I'm being honest. Sometimes it's nice to have music that mimics and gives shape to the largely inexpressible (or just sort of ridiculous) turbulence that comes with the emotions (boredom/nostalgia/lust/despair) of that late-teenagerhood/early-twenties time. Brave Bird knows this well.
Rekindle *immediately* brought to mind a dozen songs, though the most prominent of these are above: Saves the Day's Take Our Cars Now!, Ozma's Eponine (great song), and Gloria Record's A Lull in Traffic. All of which at one point appeared on a mix CD given to me in college, and which I subsequently deployed on mixes I made for other people. They're all in that same tone as Rekindle, and all comforting in their own ways.