Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tamaryn- The Waves (2010)

Recommended if you like: The Soft Moon, Lower Dens, My Bloody Valentine, Zola Jesus, Grouper, Warpaint, Cocteau Twins

November of this year will mark the 20-year anniversary of My Bloody Valentine’s landmark album Loveless, a record that is perhaps the finest representation of the shoegaze genre. The album’s influence can be heard today, as strong as ever, in the music of bands like A Sunny Day In Glasgow, A Place to Bury Strangers and M83. Bands like the aforementioned ones have taken the genre in new directions, incorporating synth, pop, ambient and even metal and punk influences into the delicate but loud music of the genre’s founders. However, if you are looking for so true to the style of Loveless that it might even be mistaken for a new My Bloody Valentine album, look no further than The Waves, the debut LP from New Zealand singer Tamaryn.

On The Waves, Tamaryn is joined by guitarist and producer Rex John Shelverton, formerly of Portraits of Past. Though The Waves is meant to showcase Tamaryn’s beautiful, ethereal voice, it would be remiss not to shower Shelverton with praise for his fantastic instrumental work. The title track, the album’s first track, begins with thunderous distorted guitars and buzzing bass before exploding into a captivating mix of Tamaryn’s smoky vocals and dissonant, twinkling guitars. Shelverton’s beautiful guitars are perfectly mixed, weaving in and out of the vocal lines, never stealing the spotlight but remaining captivating in their own right. The second track, “Choirs of Winters,” exhibits the duo’s dynamic variability, taking a decidedly slower feel. Shelverton’s watery guitars slowly churn behind Tamaryn’s softer, more intimate vocals, double tracked to give them an even richer feel. Though the most obvious comparison is still My Bloody Valentine, the mix of Tamaryn’s guttural voice with droning guitars calls to mind other shoegaze revivalists and female fronted groups like Lower Dens, Grouper, Zola Jesus and Glasser.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Marked Men- Ghosts (2009)

Recommended if you like: Buzzcocks, The Thermals, Mind Spiders, Teenage Cool Kids, Dillinger Four, Jay Reatard

I've probably listened to this album more than anything else the past few months. Fucking fantastic punk from Texas that's equally snotty and melodic. Apologies if my comparisons are a little off base, my punk collection is still small (though it's growing rapidly). But fans of any garage-y punk will dig the shit out of this. Its not as fast as hardcore, but the songs still have so much movement. What really impresses me about The Marked Men is how they can write such catchy stuff without really relying on melodic lead guitars. Most of it is just power chord riffing, it really finds its strength in the lyrics and vocals of guitarist/vocalists Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke. I can't recommend this one enough. Click the album artwork to sample.

1. All In Your Head
2. Ditch
3. Fortune
4. My Love
5. I Must Be Dead
6. Head Set
7. Locked Up
8. Not That Kid
9. Stay Away
10. Get To You
11. Ghosts
12. Shaky Ground
13. Red Light Rumors
14. One More Time
15. Blew My Head

Buy Ghosts from Dirtnap Records

Friday, February 18, 2011

youtube gem friday


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wolf Parade- Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)

Recommended if you like: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Unicorns, Born Ruffians, Frog Eyes, Destroyer, Sunset Rubdown

Remember about halfway through the last decade when all that super yelpy, zany indie pop shit was really popular? It seemed like 'indie' had come to be defined by how grating, trembling and wild your voice was and how many ridiculous, obnoxious synth lines you could incorporate into your music. Architecture in Helsinki, The Unicorns, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, I feel like that stuff certainly hasn't aged as well as everyone expected. But if there's one album that I really kept with me and has stood the test of time, it's Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary. Driven by the fantastic songwriting duo of Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug, Wolf Parade plays a mix of self-indulgent indie pop that really captures the heart, soul and spirit of the aforementioned mid-decade movement at its best.

Take the album opener "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son," Krug's invitation for the album. It starts with an instantly recognizable staccato drum beat before unfolding into syncopated piano hits, abstract guitars and Krug's signature warbling croon. Whereas their later material is more plagued by the sharp divide between the Krug-written and Boeckner-written song, on Apologies To The Queen Mary, they establish a smooth flow and strike a creative harmony by adding subtle touches to each others songs. And where At Mount Zoomer boasted polished production and concise songwriting, this album has a refined core while still managing to be rough around the edges. Boeckner's "We Built Another World" builds around overdriven bass, a pounding guitar line, bubbly synths and the incredible spastic drumming of Arlen Thompson.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Smith Westerns- Dye It Blonde (2011)

Recommended if you like: Harlem, Black Kids, Destroyer, Girls, Magic Kids, Born Ruffians, The Morning Benders

All the members of Smith Westerns are younger than me. Man, does that make me feel unaccomplished. Anyway, that youthful energy definitely shines through on the band's sophomore effort, Dye It Blonde. Sure, their sound is pretty generic, unashamed indie pop/rock but they play it surprisingly tight. Like on the fantastic album opener "Weekend," which is full of soaring vocal melodies, dramatic synths and distorted lead guitar lines that are sure to get your feet tapping. They use this bloated effect on the lead guitar lines that sounds like the guitar solo at the end of (The Beatles') "Let It Be." The album switches from fast-paced garage-y jams like "Dance Away" to more intimate slower compositions like "Still New," the latter filled of thunderous chords and delay-soaked tremolo guitar lines. To me, Dye It Blonde sounds like what The Morning Benders were going for with Big Echo, though I think Smith Westerns succeed at the youthful rag-tag indie pop thing with so much more grace and energy. It also really reminds me of Harlem's Hippies, but with way more texture. Again, there probably isn't a single trick or progression on this album that isn't already-charted territory. But Dye It Blonde is fun as hell. Click the album artwork to sample.

1. Weekend
2. Still New
3. Imagine Pt. 3
4. All Die Young
5. Fallen In Love
6. End of the Night
7. Only One
8. Smile
9. Dance Away
10. Dye The World

Buy Dye It Blonde from Fat Possum

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Mike Howard and Christopher Baranowski are...


Summer 2k11