More Blissful Pop from Ablebody

3408002343-1Just a few weeks ago we talked to you about the upcoming release from Ablebody, the newest project of Christoph Hochheim. (formerly of Depreciation Guild/POBPAH).  I’m bringing you another excellent track from his upcoming All My Everybody EP, which will actually be available for everyone tomorrow.  On this latest single, there’s a subtle electronic undertone, built perfectly to accompany the gentle tonal quality in Christoph’s voice.  Slowly but surely he’s making a name for himself on his own, and after listening to this EP, it’s well deserved.

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Terry Malts – Killing Time

Rating: ★★★★★

My first introduction to the music of Terry Malts stemmed from my love of the members’ former band, The Magic Bullets.  Unfortunately, the group was unable to find a full-time drummer, so opted to regroup as Terry Malts.  A few 7 inched piqued my interest, but when Killing Time arrived in my inbox, I had no idea just how much longevity this record would have.  From start to finish, it’s a polished bit of scuzzy guitars, pop hooks, pounding drums and hooks galore. So far, it’s the best record I’ve gotten my hands on this year.

“Something About You” lets the album explode from the get-go, offering listeners a bit of their traditional gaze-pop in the realm of Pains of Being Pure at Heart, only on speed (not that we condone drug usage).  The drums clatter, the guitars have a ferocious tenacity that propels the song for the entirety of just over two minutes. But, that’s about the last you’ll hear of your typical fare, as the group has more of a raucous punk sound, albeit one infused with elements of power-pop and post-punk atmospherics.

The most brilliant things about Killing Time is it’s ability to never grow stale sonically, whilst still holding onto album cohesiveness. “Tumble Down” has that affected guitar sound echoing in the background, but it’s the monosyllabic vocals touches that provide the song’s main hook.  This is the music you wish you had with you during those times when you need to display sheer exuberance.  If you’re not bouncing around, you’re not listening closely. You can group this song with “Waiting Room,” another song that really relies upon the stellar drumming to really give you a good kick in the ass. Corey Cunningham’s vocals have a deep quality, yet he’s got these tiny little changes in pitch that really add an extra element to every single track.

Terry Malts aren’t just sold on giving you one sound for the whole of the Killing Time; “I’m Neurotic” is one such testament.  For one, it’s the longest track here, but the band’s content to really let the guitars do the work, as they ring in and out of the foreground, battling Cunningham for control of the song.  Then, as a testament that the group’s got a definite affinity for classic punk rock, you find “No Good For You.”  Remember when the Ramones would bang out a nice power ballad, just to mix it up? Well, that encompasses everything great about this song; it’s not just mimicry, however, as there’s definitely a different bit of brashness in the way the group handles themselves–but you’ll definitely notice the homage around the 2 minute mark.

For me, this is perhaps the perfect culmination of everything about my favorite records.  Killing Time definitely has everything modern in its sound, but it harkens back to a purity in the annals of rock n’ roll, tossing out punishing drums lines, excellent hooks and enough creativity that every song sounds fresh.  At just under 35 minutes, you’re going to have a hard time finding an album that begs to be played time and time again without every growing old.  Who loves the Terry Malts? “I do I do I do I do I do I do.”


Download:Terry Malts – Tumble Down [MP3]

The New Tigers – s/t

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s got to be hard to get your music across the Atlantic, especially when you’re a little known band from Finland.  Fortunately for you, The New Tigers self-titled album has slowly begun to trickle across the seas, bringing us fuzzy pop that’s sure to appeal to listeners of all sorts, crafting tunes that will resonate with your ears time and time again.

Of course, one of the greatest things about listening to The New Tigers is their ability to build their pop from within a realm of lo-fi noise, but then let the songs sprawl out into the great unknown.  Album opener “Clocks of Destruction” is one of two such tracks, building in momentum just near the minute mark, but fading into crafty noise, like Broken Social Scene would pull of when they were in a jamming mood.  It takes a special track to build on what could easily be a two minute pop song and still maintain interest throughout.  “Pocketful of Sand” is the other such track, but it takes just a bit longer to reach the vocals, but they’re so light that you’re likely to just see them as a floating piece of the inherent melody the band has built.  These two tracks alone make for a special listen, but this isn’t all the band wants to offer you.

“Transitions” is a much quieter offering from the band, providing listeners a moment of rest and relaxation as the song itself slowly prods along.  Softly the song meanders along, letting you know that this doesn’t always have to be a forceful trip to the noisy horizon; The New Tigers can win you over with a slow number as well. You can then jump right into the bubbly “Door on the Floor,” a more light-hearted bouncing track that resembles Pains of Being Pure at Heart during their quieter noise-pop days.  It’s great to offer sprawling tracks, but being able to contain yourself is a trait that not every band seems to possess, so its nice to see these guys exploring structure and length.

Perhaps one of the secret gems on The New Tigers lives near the end; it’s called “Velvet Jam.” The more I listen to this track, the more I seem to absorb, pulling me further into the song itself.  There’s bits of jangling guitar, ramshackle drumming, and wispy vocals of the softer sort, carrying the melody along perfectly.  Personally, I like the touch of the knifing guitar line that cuts in and out during what seems like the chorus, just before the jangle kicks back into the track.  It’s the sort of song that begs you to listen over and over again.

It’s interesting when listening to The New Tigers how much they sound like a lot of the American bands we all adore, yet at the same time, they’re able to add their own little pieces, allowing the record to sound vibrant and refreshing. Just one listen to the self-titled record will surely not be enough, as you’ll have to go back again, just to check if it’s as wonderful as it sounded.  I got news for you: it is.


Download: The New Tigers – Pocketful Of Sand [MP3]

The New Tigers is out now on Soliti Music.

FT5: Albums of the Year…so far

Let’s face it, every site is doing it, and perhaps we’re a little late on the run in, but technically, we just got to the midway point of the year, so I was holding off until the exact date–I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  So, in all honesty, this is going to be sort of a list of my 2011 albums of the year up to now, but I reserve the right to drastically change my opinion on any, if not all, of these choices. Come on, it’s just now July, so I’ve still got six months to hammer things out in a fully functional list.  Please remember, this is one man’s opinion, not the site as a whole, nor do we disagree with your opinions, unless you like that new Beyonce.

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

Rating: ★★★★☆

After the release of their highly acclaimed first album, and then the release of an intriguing and excellent EP shortly following, the whole of the indie music scene has been anxiously awaiting The Pains of Being Pure at Heart to grace their ears with more fuzzy pop tunes. But now that the wait is over, and this buzzband from 2009 is back with their sophomore effort, will it live up to the first?

Belong, starts off immediately different from its predecessor on the title track. You can feel a thicker buzz in the guitar, a grungier sounding bass and a less bubbly, groovier feel to the track right off the bat. It may feel a bit disappointing to some at first, who wonder where their fluffy twee pop sound went. However, after repeated listens, or even toward the end of the four-minute song, it is easy to see and admire the growth of the sound. If this band produced a record that sounded exactly like the first, it would be mediocre and the spontaneity of said excellent poppy tunes would be banal. Even though it is not a completely drastic change, it is certainly a step towards a mellower album.

Oh, but not to worry, the bounce from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is certainly not gone: the very next song, “Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now” kicks away the hazy start and busts in with the sweet pop goodness you’ve come to know so well. Rolling drums are accompanied by the vocals of Kip Berman and Peggy Wang that are sure to melt your heart into a dreamy puddle; the same goes for “Heart in Your Heartbreak.” While these are both classic moves from this band, the real superstar track comes your way on “The Body.” High synthesizer spins from the beginning and it is probably one of the hardest songs to not move your feet to. Kip’s lyrics are as earnest and catchy as ever, urging you to “tell [him] again what the body’s for!” It’s a dance jam of pure exuberance, ready made for any party, be it in your head or with actual people.

Belong continues on, going to similar places as the first album, with songs like “My Terrible Friend,” that resembles “This Love is F*****g Right!” However, it hasn’t become monotonous in the way that I thought this album might. The group has matured in that they wandered a little in places, keeping things fresh, but not so far that it is unrecognizable to listeners. This effort, while just not quite as good as the first release, is everything that I was looking for: the flair of youthful energy and springtime freshness paired with the feeling of a step towards a new direction that often follows these sentiments.

The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth

Rating: ★★★☆☆

While many of the indie rock followers will surely be all about The Depreciation Guild due to the main gig of its two core members, that being The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, that’s about the only similarity.  Sure, the mood of the music, and a bit of the texturing due share a close proximity to their other band, Spirit Youth steps out of the shadows and into its own space.

Electronic beats open the album on “My Chariot,” which is just an indicator that Kurt and Christoph (PoBPA touring guitarist) have a map all their own to follow.  Musically, it has a lot more of a bedroom aesthetic to the vocal quality than one would come to expect.  It’s really reminiscent of the same sort of vocals you heard on many of the more pop friendly albums of the early 90s.  It’s the same ground they’ll live in on “Crucify You,” and the dynamic doesn’t do much to distance itself.

But, in a sense, they mix it up on “Blue Lily” by opening up with a more prominent guitar piece.  Then almost immediately they bring in the warmth by adding the vocal texture.  Here you might see that often the vocals are a tool, never really stepping out from the instrumentation.  But, the guitar definitely serves its purpose in the background of the song, and that might remind some of Republic-era New Order, though a heavier atmosphere hangs over these songs.  This is the sort of place that it seems The Depreciation Guild hangs their hats.

Almost every song from here on out fuses a little bit of careful programming with guitars that ring out through the far off horizon of the song.  At times, such as in  “Trace,” those little parts really hang there, creating a dense electro-guitar collage of atmospherics, but without the vocals to brighten the moment, these songs really just seem to hang in air for the most part, almost like a pop-oriented fog. Don’t get me wrong, however, there are a few moments when the beats really do the song justice, like in “A Key Turns.”  A calm mood established itself early, and every noise on the song, including the vocals, is accented by the beats (the most creative on the album thus far).  It makes the perfect song for sitting outside as a storm drives itself into your town.

Oddly, there are a few heavy moments, or at least heavy in regards to the general sound of Spirit Youth.  The albums title track and “Through the Snow” have the benefit of harder hitting guitar pieces.  While the band manages to keep that quiet sensibility here, the chords of the guitar bring in a heavier punch, changing the overall quality of the tunes, and in fact, making them rising above the rest.  It would have been nice to see those numbers placed randomly earlier on in the album, rather than slotted in near the end.

All in all, Spirit Youth is an enjoyable listen, albeit one that does tax the listener a bit.  You’re caught in a world, unsure of whether or not you want to try and unravel the key to the lyrics (which are quite good) or just immerse yourself in the depth of sound that The Depreciation Guild have presented you with here. It’s not an easy choice, and that’s probably the biggest fault with the album: you have to make a choice on which instrument is the most important to follow, music or vocals.  Still, stepping out of from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is never a bad thing entirely, especially when you can craft generally heartfelt songs that will keep you glowing inside.


Download: Depreciation Guild – Crucify You [MP3]

The Raveonettes – In and Out of Control

The_Raveonettes_In_and_Out_of_Control_ViceRating: ★★★★☆

Listening to the history of The Raveonettes, I can easily see why I have remained indifferent with their career, that is up until this point in time.  They’re a band that seems to revel in their discoveries of various genres, perhaps so much so that one cannot listen to their albums without feeling nostalgic for the traditional influences.  In the past, they’ve come across as a band of mere mimicry, bordering on unoriginality and banality.  That all changed when I popped on In and Out of Control.

Once “Bang” hits your ears, it’s clear that the band brought something else to the table this time around.  Bouncing rhythms run throughout the song, and the sunshine of California seem to reverberate from the vocals.  It’s clearly a fun song; a tune to let your hair down.

So, instead of treading the same ground, they go off into a more fuzzy pop gem with “Gone Forever.”  It clearly sounds like a Pains of Being Pure at Heart song, minus the echo and atmospherics.  Okay, so maybe the echo is there in the vocals, but they are so distinguishable, you can easily attach yourself to the content, should you choose to do so. And such a sweet chorus.  They stay in the same spectrum with “Last Dance,” which is possibly one of the catchiest songs you’ll hear this year.  It won’t blow you away, but you won’t mind listening to it time and time again, garnering a number worthy of year end lists.

For once, the fact that the group doesn’t seem to stay in one place actually works.  It doesn’t veer off too far from where they began, which allows you to see the lines drawn in the songwriting that connect the album together as a whole.  But, the differentiation is wholly refreshing from The Raveonettes. Even the quick “I Buried You Today” is just another mark of a band that clearly is willing to define this record on their terms.

Out of nowhere, this band seems to have escaped the monotony of their past.  At times, what they seem to do here is quite invigorating, as the band finally has the courage to step beyond the shadows of their influences.  This is new ground for them, and it makes for a remarkable listen.  All the songs have a bounce, yet they all seem stylistically different; the fact that the band isn’t trapped for once seems to have freed them to progress in a direction I never expected.  It’s hard with this approach to expect the Joan Jett chorus on “Breaking Into Cars,” just know you’ll love it.

So you can’t be sure where the material from In and Out of Control came from, but one thing can be assured for all listeners.  You’ll find this as a record which allows you to sink into, if the mood so allows, and not get bogged down by nostalgic dreams of the golden days of music…though those influences are still walking around in the background. Now’s the time ladies and gentleman to get on board with The Raveonettes.


Download: The Raveonettes – Last Dance [MP3]

Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars EP

painsRating: ★★★★☆

After speaking with Kip, we realized that this EP was something to really look forward to, as this entire EP includes new songs from 2009 darlings The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.     You can’t not want more tunes from these guys can you?  So here we have Higher Than the Stars, song by song.

This EP opens with the title track, “Higher Than the Stars.”  It opens with a noticeable keyboard programmed atop the steady drumming and hazy guitar.  Kip’s vocals are extremely soft here, almost kept to a whisper.  You’ll find that some of the guitar tones are really bright, which is what makes the group a pop band afterall!

Following the opener is “103.”  This is the track that most closely resembles the group’s stylings on their debut LP.  Once again, you can heat the march of the drums, and instead of the hazy guitars, this time around you get more of that earth-shattering atmospheric guitar sound, with a nice little solo blaring through it all near the end of the tune.

Personally, “Falling Over” is where it’s at on this EP.  It’s got a lot of that classic 80s jangle-pop mentality, but with the influence of someone like the Happy Mondays, bringing in a little bit of dance into your clasic guitar song.  The chorus is perfectly fitting to the concept of the song, placing it squarely in the past–for some reason I hear someone like New Order or the Pet Shop Boys rocking this chorus. 

Our fourth track is somewhat of a new nostalgic approach.  It’s less jangle-pop than previous records, and it demonstrates that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are more than just one trick ponies.  The lack of clarity on the guitar here recalls the likes of The Stone Roses or Teenage Fanclub. It’s an American Britpop song.

For the final track, you get a little remix of “Higher Than the Stars,” done by St. Etienne and Lord Spank.  It doesn’t add too much to the original track, other than a steady dance beat, and a little bit more time.  It’s not an awful track by any mean, just dismissable in comparison to the previous four tracks.

Overall, the wonderful thing about this release is that it gives way to a new horizon for the group.  They haven’t foudn themselves stuck in one place, destined to release the same thing over and over again.  It makes it rather enjoyable for us all.


Download: Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars [MP3]

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