Seems like everyone’s collaborating these days, but with Cheap Girls working with Craig from the Hold Steady, it just seems to fit perfectly. They both have this traditional American rock sound; there’s not a lot of pretension or excess to what they’re writing. Here we have the band just doing their best to bang out a solid rock tune that will be featured on their new record, Famous Graves, and it encompasses a pretty straightforward rock song. It’s the sort of tune you want to sing with, yet it’s bold enough that it also makes you want to rock just enough. You can let yourself enjoy this record on May 13th via Xtra Mile Recordings.
Make no mistake about it, there are still people out there who are madly in love with the work that Calvin Johnson has done; I remain one of those steady die-hard fans. Today I’m brining you the new single from his up-coming album with The Hive Dwellers; it’s titled Moanin. Of course, the heart and soul of the song resides on Johnson’s voice, backed with a fitting female backing voice. For my two cents, I think the witticisms and simplicity of Calvin’s work has always been endearing, and you’ll find that on display here in this track, as well as throughout the rest of the album. You can get your copy on April 29th via K Records.
I swear this is my favorite time of the year. Not only are there tons of records coming out left and right, but a great deal of them come perfecting the mood of Spring. When I first put on this new track from Tijuana Panthers, I couldn’t help but tapping my feet, imagining myself dancing about my room at home; I did just that when I played this song. They also recall the perfect power-pop that our own favorite (and ATH Records alumni) Literature bring to the table. It’s pop music with no BS, just good songs. The band releases Wayne Interest, their new album, on June 6th via Innovative Leisure.
Erika M. Anderson, the lady behind the moniker EMA, has been creating music in various ways for years, but broke out on her own in 2010. Two album releases later, EMA has become what the kids these days are calling a Buzz Band; this lady has been the talk of the indie music blog scene. Which leads me to a pertinent question: should we believe the hype? The short answer to that question should already be apparent to you via the star rating I gave The Future’s Void, but the long answer is much more interesting.
While I applaud the overall reach of this album, there are too many aspects that are impossible to listen past. Take “So Blonde,” or really any of the songs on this record for example. You start out alright, some simple acoustic guitar, and stadium rock drums; a departure from the opening track that is layered with synths, ambient noise, and drum machine. The second track is EMA’s take on a straight rock song, but sadly, its humble beginnings are a bit misleading. While you hope that the music will build into an explosive chorus, what you get is Anderson screaming “So blonde!” without a real change in the instrumentation. The lack of diversity within a single song is monotonous and fails to make me want to listen.
Maybe I just don’t get it, but this record never really pulled me in. The tracks blur together, and the vocals subtract from the overall direction of “lo-fi” or “electronic” that I feel the record is trying to go for. That is to say, the usage of vocal effects seem to be gimmicky, and not only that but grating to listen to. A perfect example of this comes on “Cthulu,” which begins with dramatic fuzzy synth slow beats, which makes the sound seem like it is building up to a climax. As it progresses, we get Anderson’s vocals added to the mix, but other than that the song stays where it started, not steadily building, but static in its sound. Then, all of the sudden, we are suddenly elevated, Anderson’s shriek bursts into the song and serves as a bit of a fright, but the small dose of hazy screeching doesn’t seem too bad, but kind of an electronic punk rock-move that would suit a bold front woman. However, later in the song, what was a brief moment of passionate screaming becomes repeated over and over, which not only diminishes the passion from earlier, and takes away from the awesome instrumental build that’s happening in the background, but also becomes so grating that I found it difficult not to immediately skip on to the next song. This is not a phenomenon that is uncommon on this album.
Perhaps I missed something vital that would give me the key to enjoying The Future’s Void. If you find it, please let me know, as I really wanted to like this record, but for now my feeling is that EMA fell short.
I love listening to The Felice Brothers. They always seem to walk this weird line between folk and jam, though they dwell a bit more in the folk/Americana realm…that makes it okay, right? The band have releases this new single for their forthcoming album, Favorite Waitress, and I’m going to put this one on repeat for a bit. The song feels as if it’s been recorded in a small cabin by a bunch of old friends, which is probably true a certain extent, so there’s an expressed level of honesty that we should all appreciate. You can grab the new record on June 17th via Dualtone.
Clearly I love what the Mantles have accomplished. They’ve got these concise little pop songs, with just a hint of that old school jangle, so it makes sense that when I heard about Michael Olivares releasing his own Face the Facts EP that I had to hip you to it. It’s a different side to Michael than his main project, with a much simpler approach to writing pop songs; this tune below is mostly a strummed guitar with a little key treatment thrown in for good measure. You can pick up the very limited 7″ from Fruits and Flowers, if you’re so inclined; the B Side has a Scorpions cover!
I’m growing a wee bit weary of the same old thing. It’s all atmospherics and bedroom production takes, but I really just want an energetic tune that will get under your skin. This tune from the new Craig Salt Peters does just that; it gives you a quick cutting pop song that’s wearing just a shade of grit. It’s one of the many great tracks on the band’s new album, Songs From Hungry Ghosts. The entire album is filled with songs that are immediately accessible and undeniably catchy. If you’re into it, you can order it from Lost Sound Tapes, and I suggest you do!
Download: Craig Salt Peters – Seeing You [MP3]
Last year was a banner year for the folks over at Father Daughter Records, and it looks like they aim to make 2014 just as good, if not better. They’ve got several albums already slated for release, but the one I’m most excited for is this new record from Never Young. For the first two minutes of this song, the band blasts through at a furious pace, only stopping momentarily after the 2 minute mark to show they’ve still got a little bit of a pop bone in their blood. Their debut, Master Copy, will be available digitally and on cassette from the label starting on May 6th. You’ve been warned.
Download: Never Young – Teenage Dream [MP3]
If you’re looking for an album to pick up that might be off the beaten path, then I suggest you stumble your way towards King Of Prussia. The band has gotten some pretty solid press, with the likeness being compared to bands such as Belle and Sebastian and Architecture in Helsinki, but I’m hearing something else. Sure, the horns and the overall construction add to that nod, but I think I hear more of the vocal delivery coming across as a steadied Ted Leo touch. Their album Zonian Girls…and the Echoes That Surround Us All comes out today courtesy of Minty Fresh.
Download: King of Prussia – Your Work Is Magic [MP3]
Earlier last year we discovered the local Austin label Fleeting Youth, and while we’re still waiting for their offer to put the Young Girls EP on cassette, we’re pretty impressed with their latest signing, Dirty River. The New York three pieces offers a slower take on music than some of their label mates, providing you with a country stomp that you’d likely find from your drunken uncle. They’ll be releasing their self-titled album on the label next week, but you should visit HERE to pre-order your copy.
Download: Dirty River – Releaf [MP3]