Archive for August 2010
I feel a bit guilty for keeping Slow Club from you guys for so long because I’ve liked them for quite a while. I did put their energized track, “Giving Up On Love,” on July’s mixtape but both of you – Wild Tonic readers and the band – deserve a proper introduction. For those of you who are already fans of this epic folk duo, just read along and smile because I obviously only have good things to say about this band.
Slow Club, comprised of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor, are two former members of English band, The Lonely Hearts. After that band split, Watson and Taylor decided to give it a try with just the two of them. Thank God they did because they are one of the strongest duos out there who can keep the intimacy of a singer-songwriter vibe as they also plump their sound up with knee-slapping vigorous campfire anthems. Forget that “Kumbayah” crap; Slow Club is here to rock those marshmallows off your skewers.
I love both of their vocals but it’s Rebecca’s voice that I especially adore. I love it when singers sing an amazing range of notes without sounding like it takes any effort. There’s a simplicity that allows their songs to ease into great fun but it’s all so charming that the songs blossom into so much more.
In regards to their label, they share a home with acts such as Signals, Best Fwends, Kate Nash, Au Revoir Simone and more at Moshi Moshi. They released their debut album, Yeah So, on this label and if you haven’t picked it up yet, it better be on the top of your to-do list because you’ve already missed a year of folk goodness!
Check out their song, “I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream” below! You can also hear “Giving Up On Love” on July’s mixtape.
Ryan Gosling has always taken on peculiar roles during his acting career. When Lars and the Real Girl was first introduced to the movie theaters, the general consensus was “How strange but endearing!” So it doesn’t surprise me to find out that his official music video for “Pa Pa Power,” a song by his band Dead Man’s Bones, is a nearly 13 minute short film which takes place in an elderly residence.
It starts out very lighthearted with Gosling and his band member, Zach Shields, telling the almost empty room of senior citizens the back story to their album. He introduces the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir (who sings on the entire album with the band) and away they go. Young boys and girls fidget and sing for these “old people” while some of the older girls can’t keep their eyes off the pianist. It sounds pretty simple and happy, right?
However, the video takes an odd turn when one of the younger girls in the choir abruptly runs out of the room and we’re suddenly watching creepy scenes of kids hanging in the dark woods wearing hoods doing who knows what. The video has a happy ending though. Check it out below!
There are those CDs that you keep in your car because you know you won’t ever get sick of them. They’re the ones you choose to pop in because let’s face it – a lot of radio tunes are just watered down compositions that try too hard to become a hit. (Hence all the singers repeating a word a billion times so it’s more “singable.”) These CDs are the gems you keep in your glove compartment, in a visor pocket with other CDs, on top of your loose change, etc. They’re the ones you can turn to when you need some solid arrangements to tickle your ears and revitalize the brain again after you attempt to understand the dullness that is on the radio.
The Vanguard‘s EP, “Playtime,” has been one of these CDs that always save me when I’m stuck in LA traffic. Although only six tracks, there’s a whole lot of meaty guitar riffs, giant choruses, and intricate vocal harmonies to immediately satisfy musical cravings. I just recently ripped the EP into my computer so I could listen to it at work and at home and the songs still ring crisp and fresh as ever in my ears.
I selected them to be a part of BeatCraves’s Fav series earlier in the year because I was so impressed with their ability to sound so organic like a lot of the smaller bands here in Los Angeles sound. New York is a magical dream for all sorts of genres, but I personally felt that I was digging all the electronic-based acts out of the area more than any traditional yet enticing rock bands from there. The Vanguard was a great discovery and I’m hoping that they get to come out to LA and play a show sometime soon because there’s no doubt I would give them a glowing review.
Check their song ‘Slowdown” out below. Everything about the track is tremendous and whoever helped them on production did a fantastic job. Most indie bands are all about the lo-fi sound but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Low costs may be a factor into that recording style, but I feel like most are just falling into a trend. If the songs are good enough, the arrangement will carry itself. So why not let those great elements shine a bit more?
There’s just a few more days until Robyn‘s Body Talk Pt.2 comes out and after hearing a few of the songs that have surfaced, I am just amazed at how much stronger the entire series has already become. Body Talk Pt. 1 introduced us to some of her cool-down dance tunes full of amped up attitude with songs featuring Diplo and Royksopp but that’s all it was – a mere introduction to the fierceness that is about hit us in Pt 2.
There are definitely some great club bangers such “Criminal Intent” and a bold song with the forever loved gangsta, Mr. Snoop Dogg, himself, but the track that really steals the spotlight is “Indestructible.” Whereas the acoustic version of “Hang With Me’ has a piano foundation, “Indestructible” really lays the strings on thick and it’s a gorgeous listen from beginning to end. There’s something about her fragile Swedish accent that works with naked arrangements because they end up sounding so lush in the end.
This is the second track in the series she’s labeled “Acoustic Version” in her tack listing, so I’m wondering if we’ll hear a shinier mix in Pt.3. It’d be nice to have another “Hang With Me” surprise again. Take a listen to “Indestructible” below. I’ve also included a Hobbz remix which I have to admit I didn’t dig so much at first. However, with each listen it’s begun to grow on me more and more. You can decide for yourself!
This one is an oldie but a damn goodie. The Soft Pack (formerly The Muslims) released their self-titled album earlier this summer and to celebrate, the San Diego-based band performed ten times throughout the city of Los Angeles on a Saturday. I was able to catch one of the sets in Long Beach with Avi Buffalo as their opener. It was definitely a fun show to see as it matched up with their catchy post-punk garage sounds with a hint of surf rock – and when I say surf rock, I don’t completely imply surfers and stoners. The Soft Pack is one of the bands who have firmly based their sound in indie rock without the frills.
Even when they do take on a band whose sound is a bit fancier than theirs, they are able to turn it into an extremely lo-fi but listenable psychedelic tune. For example: Their cover of Phoenix‘s “Fences.” I’m not sure why they called it a remix when it was clearly a cover but thanks to Rollo & Grady for reminding me of this gem. The Soft Pack will be back from tour to play FYF Fest this Labor Day weekend, so take a listen to their cover of “Fences” below and get pumped!
Janelle Monaé‘s album, The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III), is no doubt going to be on my top 20 albums list of the year – perhaps even in the top 10. Even though I thought it was a little too all over the place during my first listen, that’s ironically what I love about the album the most now that I’ve listened to it over 20 times.
There was a buzz going around about Ms. Monaé when she released her EP, “Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase),” but it wasn’t until she was getting ready to drop her full length (and came back with a new hairdo) that everyone started wondering why she was becoming the hottest “must-see” act of the year. I was lucky enough to see her perform a set at Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco, and even though she was extremely late, seeing her perform on David Letterman gave me a slight inkling that the wait would be worth it. My decision to suffer from her tardiness was justified because I have never seen a girl (who is barely over 5 ft by the way) put on such an electrifying show. Yes, her vocals are phenomenal but it’s the way she executes each lyric and melody that makes her stand out as a pop artist today. Every cell in that tiny body of hers just works themselves so hard into giving the audience something that is stunning to watch and hear. During her Outside Lands set, her fancy hairdo even came undone. (Although I hear this happens all the time – which is a good thing!)
Check out her latest video for her fantastic song, “Cold War,” (one of my favorites off of the album). She released it earlier this month but if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend watching it below. It’s just her and the camera and it’s hard not to marvel at how beautiful she makes the video simply by staring into the camera as she turns her face side to side showing us that gorgeous profile. I’ve also provided the “Tightrope” track below for you to grab; if you haven’t seen that video yet, you can watch that too.
I’m not that big of a fan of Peanut Butter Wolf but I’m thankful for his discovery of Mayer Hawthorne‘s sweet falsetto talent after all these years in the indie underground scene in Ann Arbor. Besides the fact that he’s from my home state, there is a wholesome factor to the singer that oddly makes me feel proud in a general sense. Just because he’s a dude looking dapper in a suit all the time does not mean his music is anything like Michael Bublé’s. Although they both do have a throwback sound – Bublé with jazz standards and Hawthorne with soul and R&B – the crooning done by Snoop Dogg’s new favorite white boy adds some flavor that is reminiscent of the melodic dynamics from The Supremes and the current soul swagger of Raphael Saadiq.
I’ve been listening to his debut album, Strange Arrangements, quite a lot this past month. It may be because I’ve had the opportunity to see him at both Outside Lands and Sunset Junction this year. The charm he provides with his dancing “Mayer-ettes” and his band The County may also be factors, but when it comes down to the basics, his strange arrangements give me a nice solid foundation from back in the day that I can dig as new music today.
Check his latest video for “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’” out below. It’s one of his many videos made for this album and since this one came out over a month ago, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if a new one is on deck to premiere very soon. I wish the clarity were better but it’s still a fun watch especially since summer is just winding down. Also, check out his collaboration with Snoop Dogg on “Gangsta Luv” where he remixes the track into a “g-mix.”
Things are looking up for Portland-based indie electronica band, Starfucker. Although they briefly changed their name to PYRAMID then to Pyramiddd, they are back to the original name – which really suits their quirky music and stage personas better anyway. Although they had a taste of financial success from having “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second” featured in a Target commercial, changing their name back may have had brought some better luck their way because they’ve recently announced some big news.
After recently signing with Polyvinyl Records, they announced a huge tour for September and October where they’ll be supporting the band The Octopus Project. To celebrate these gigs, they’ve released a new single titled “Julius.” On October 12th, it’ll physically be released with “Helium Muffin” as a b-side on a 7″. You should save some cash for this release because only the first 500 will be in a limited edition blue vinyl.
“Julius” doesn’t steer away from their signature synth pop jam sound but it does manage to sparkle with a light weight the same time as it pulls you into deep layers of synthesizers. There’s a lot of reverb drowning out the vocals – which isn’t something new with this band – but it gives off a nice dance vibe that is a bit more chill rather than cheesy.
Check it out below! I’ve also included their cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” off of their first album, Jupiter. For some reason, these boys like to cross dress at their shows. So it isn’t surprising to see a little of that in the promo photo above or hear their rendition of this song made famous by an 80s icon.
Los Angeles certainly has its most notable indie acts in terms of success. If we go back just a few years, there were Silversun Pickups and Airbone Toxic Event. However, on the other end of the spectrum in regards to style, there was also No Age and HEALTH who were the rising gods of The Smell scene. (Yes, Los Angeles has a venue called The Smell. It’s downtown and more DIY than you can handle – which is why I only venture out to the place once a month at the most. Plus, downtown isn’t the friendliest neighborhood for a girl.)
In the past few years, publications such as Pitchfork (but mostly Pitchfork) have been worshiping the ground Dean Allen Spunt and Randy Randall walk on. You can decide if I’m exaggerating or not, but there were and still are legitimate reasons to all that fuss. Noise pop was their thing and no one was going to take it way from these two dudes. It’s always been raw and heavy punk and there is always bound to be at least one crowd surfer (if not multiple) at a live show of theirs.
Last year, their “Losing Feeling” EP maintained the same lo-fi spirit and only lightly dipped into some electronic sampling. However, “Glitter,” the first single off of their upcoming album, is a bit more surprising than that. It’s not that the duo has gone completely from lo-fi to hi-fi but there’s an obvious difference. Instead of competing with noisy guitars, you can actually hear the vocals. It’s nowhere near the quality of a mainstream radio pop song, but being able to easily sing along to a No Age song after the first listen… is a first!
The new album, Everything In Between, is expected to drop on September 28 via Sub Pop. Take a listen to “Glitter” below and check out the teaser trailer for “Life Prowler” which is the opening track on the album.
If you haven’t been listening to Cee-Lo Green‘s latest song, “Fuck You,” all week, your only (absurd) excuse is that you’ve been living underneath a rock. The Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley member has recently announced that his latest solo album, Lady Killer, is slated for release on December 7 via Elektra Records and as a follow up to his first single, “Georgia,” and his contribution to the latest Twilight soundtrack with “What Part of Forever,” he presents us this blunt but sweet, masterpiece of a song that tells the story every jilted lover has ever wanted to tell his shady (and probably shallow) ex.
Green first uploaded the song onto this YouTube channel. The video has the words to the song but it’s not like any of us need it since the chorus is pretty catchy. (Those who love typography probably dig it.) Of course, it became viral and an internet sensation over night – which is completely justified. “Fuck You” has everything a great pop song should have. It has great chorus (who can resist singing “Oo ooo oooo!” after swearing?), it’s plumped with pop culture references such as the xbox, atari, “I pity the fool,” and “she’s a gold digger,” and a nice Jackson 5 sunshine vibe. The juxtaposition is what really sells this gem. It’s so foul-mouthed and full of attitude but it all sounds so sweet in the all that soul Green showers upon our ears. Also, props to Cee-Lo for using butter-smooth voiced Bruno Mars for his songwriting talents.
My friend Mouse recently said, “I’d argue that Cee-Lo, Kanye, and Lady Gaga understand “what’s cool in pop” better than anyone else. But you always want to root for Cee-Lo.” I agree with every word in this statement. These three are doing something significant enough (whether it’s good or bad) to be in the spotlight and their music isn’t bad. It’s just that Cee-Lo tops the other two simply because 1) he’s not tripping over his huge ego and 2) he doesn’t need to call out to all his “little monsters.” Ain’t that some shit?
If you haven’t listened to the song yet – shame on you. When something goes viral, you should be in the know. In this day and age, if you own a computer you should have been affected by viral videos such as the one below for “Fuck You.” If you were one of the people playing it on repeat all week like me, check “Georgia” out and his cover of Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You.”