For the longest time Wax Idols have been one of those bands I never tire of, and it’s been a fun ride watching the growth of Hether Fortune and her band from the early days. This track has that shimmering guitar line popular with the dream pop bunch, but Fortune’s voice soard much louder; she’s never afraid of being up front in the mix. She’s fully embraced her affection for pop sensibility, and through American Tragic up to now, the band continue to step out of the realms of post-punk into the realms of swirling pop music with a guitar edge. Look for the new LP,Happy Ending, to drop on May 16th.
I picked up on the edgy rock from UV-TV when they did a split 7″ on Emotional Response, and the band build on my early impression with the brand new track. It kind of reminds me of the recent work from Wax Idols, using those knifing guitar chords that walk the fine line of jangle. There’s an emphatic vocal performance, reminiscent of great 90s alternative rock tunes. Still, the best thing, in my opinion, is that the song’s not quite polished, making it a lot closer to my ears, in the personable sense. Look for the group’s Glass on March 10 via Deranged Records.
We’ve been huge fans of Wax Idols for quite some time, and while I may be partial to some of the early hits, it’s definitely an extreme joy to have been able to watch the growth of this band. Hints of pop always lurked beneath the darkness, and with their last album, Hether Fortune was slowly making room for what we have with this new single; this is the pop music we all wanted our friends to make…dark lyrics polished by a huge pop sensibility. I don’t know, just don’t feel like they make hits like this anymore, and I’m so glad that the band has Happy Ending coming in Spring of next year.
Year-end lists are everywhere…and I can see why they’re important to people. But, seeing as we generally walk off the beaten path more often than not, our list of the Top 50 Albums of 2015 is in no particular order, save alphabetically. It seems pointless to rank one piece of art higher than another, especially when the four of us at ATH all have varying tastes. We just put this list together of the albums we loved the most this year. Are we saying they’re better than records by Grimes or Kendrick Lamar? No, we’re just saying that these are the records we loved more than others. So, you can read on for what we thought was hot.
Also…put links to individual stores where you can buy the albums from the bands…as that’s how we all survive in this music world.
Even with the busy week that led up to Fun Fun Fun Fest, we’re always excited to catch one of our favorite acts like Wax Idols. It’s even more important when said artist is coming into town to promote a new record…in this case American Tragic. Check out below for thoughts and comments.
Honestly, I’ve long been a fan of Hether Fortune. I got caught on her first record, then watched her progression as a songwriter on the 2nd Wax Idols LP, Discipline & Desire. Still, she’s continued to change and grow, and I think her musical triumph (at least to this point) is American Tragic, her most recent album…I’d also buy it for the art work alone (if you’re into that sort of thing). She’s bringing her band and incredible stage presence to the Mohawk tomorrow night. She’ll be joined by Them Are Us Too and Single Lash, with doors opening at 9 PM. I assure you, this is one of those shows you’ll be bummed if you miss, so come hang with us.
I really admire Hether Fortune, and not because she’s an outspoken female artist (though that’s cool too!), but rather because she seems willing to really explore her own tastes and her own songwriting on her own terms. I’m not saying that her new effort, American Tragic, will have no apparent correlation to her earliest work with Wax Idols, but it almost sounds like an entirely different band (albeit a band comprised entirely of Hether save percussion work). She’s always had an aura of darkness (real or perceived), but I like that there’s this focus of light in the tonal switches…especially around the 2.5 minute mark. I read she was really into Beyonce during the year she recorded the new record, but I sweat I hear a bit of Madonna hiding too. The new effort will be out on October 16th via Collect Records. It’s a change of pace, yet the songwriting is still just as good, if not better.
It’s shaping up to be a great Friday, at least in my book. New Ramesh tune, and now a new Wax Idols tune! The last we heard from Hether Fortune and her project was with the band’s second album, Discipline & Desire, so now they’re rearing up to release a new effort, American Tragic. I’ve been a fan of Fortune’s all along the way here, and it’s been interesting to watch her songwriting progress…moving beyond the group’s earlier garage tendencies into this brooding pop masterpiece. It might be the group’s most accessible tune to date, but I love how you can still see the path that Fortune’s music took to get to this place. Pretty excited for the new release, which comes out on October 16th via Collect Records.
Making our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly. We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience. We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed. If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.
50 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created. In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.
9 – The Growlers – Hung at Heart
I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.” But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track. I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.
Hether Fortune seems to scare people. Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes. That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense. The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors. If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.
While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work. It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record. The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.
What else really needs to be said about The National. They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts. I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party. Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.
When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve. Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.
Someone For You came our way in January. On my record player, it hasn’t left since. This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record. You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.
At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners. You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.
In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers. But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music. This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special. Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.
This album is about Devon Welsh. From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note. The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow. It made us believe in great music again.
It’s that time of year where everyone on the Internet is throwing in their two cents as to what the best records of the year are, at least up to this point. We thought we’d give it our own go, with each of us tossing out our choices. I can tell it’s going to be a huge fight come time to make our year end list.