Show Preview: Junior Boys @ the Mohawk (9/27)

Date Tuesday, Sept. 27th
Location Mohawk
Doors 630pm
Tickets $12 from Frontgate

In what is sure to be a great week for one of our favorite local establishments, the Mohawk is kicking off their anniversary week (unofficially) with the most excellent Junior Boys.  The band released their latest LP, It’s All True, earlier this year, and it just builds on the band’s ability to compile incredible beats with sexually tinged vocals atop.  It’s sure to give you a reason to move your feet, and for the super cheap price, you have no reason not to be there.  Opening the show will be Egyptrixx.  Let’s all make it a great week for the Mohawk, and get out there and help them do up anniversary week right.


Download: Junior Boys – In The Morning [MP3]

New Music from King Creosote and Jon Hopkins

It’s been a good year for King Creosote, especially considering all the accolades he’s received working with Jon Hopkins on Diamond Mine (an album you must get your hands on!). Now the duo has pushed out another short EP, Honest Words EP, which features two new songs, and a re-imagining of “Bats in the Attic.”  Just one listen to this remarkable track, and you’ll realize why everyone is supporting the collaboration, clamoring for more.  It’s the most unassuming pop, and it’s damn near perfection, no matter what.  If you haven’t joined the masses by falling in love with this band, now is your chance; you can buy the EP from Domino Records now.


Download: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Honest Words [MP3]

Dominant Legs – Invitation

Rating: ★★½☆☆

For the past two years, Dominant Legs has slowly been building their brand name, hoping to break into the larger spectrum of the blogosphere.  For the most part the San Francisco duo has succeeded, but the question remaining is whether or not Invitation, the band’s first full length foray would build on that success.  After many listens, perhaps the best thing is that the band hasn’t done anything to dissuade listeners from appreciating their recent rise.

Keeping in mind that the first few songs from an album generally are meant to establish a foundation for the rest of the record, it’s easy to say that Invitation begins just by sort of being “there.”  “Take a Bow” has a ringing guitar dancing throughout, with splashes of electronics bursting in, but for the most part, it’s sort of an unmemorable track. “Where We Trip the Light” attempts to step it up again, using a lighter mood and a bit more playfulness from singer Ryan Lynch.  Sure, the hook’s fairly catchy, generally speaking, but it’s not anything to really shake a stick at.

Perhaps there’s just a bit too much 80s nostalgia coming from Dominant Legs.  “Darling Girls” revolves around sort of kitschy electronics, remarkably similar to something one might find on a Richard Marx movie track, albeit one with a more modern singer.  Surely there’s a market for this sort of throwback association, but I’m not completely buying into it; it seems forced and contrived.  Similarly, “Lady is Sleek and So Petite” uses a very 80s electro-beat to make the song stand up.  For some reason, you can’t help but to recall various scores to movies that you vaguely remember and certainly care nothing about. Sadly, that sometimes is the feeling you get from this entire record.

In comparison to the group’s EP, Young at Love and Life, nothing on Invitation really has that freshness; it all sounds awfully bored and disinterested.  At times, the vocal interplay between Lynch and his bandmate Hannah Hunt is cute and affecting, but Lynch far too often seems like he’s trying to mimic a bit of Dan Boeckner, to no avail.  Even still, those bright moments get nixed by the inclusion of unnecessary saxophone solos.

For all the hype surrounding Dominant Legs, it’s hard to put this listening experience into words.  Song after song, I’m grudgingly reminded of my childhood, forced to listen to FM radio in my sister’s car.  Not a one of these songs is necessarily bad, but for the most part, none of them is really good.  You keep skipping tracks on Invitation, hoping to find one that catches you.  For me, it just never happened. I didn’t hate it, I just couldn’t find something worth coming back to again and again. It’s a large miss in my book, but fans of the band will surely find redeemable qualities in it.


Download: Dominant Legs – Where We Trip The Light [MP3]

Shimmering Stars – Violent Hearts

Rating: ★★★½☆

As the last few years have seen, recording in a home studio has reaped great rewards for many bands, and such is the case for Shimmering Stars, who recorded in a garage studio.  While some might yearn for cleaner production, the quality of the recording is one of the attributes that makes Violent Hearts so affecting.

Opening up with “Believe” and “I’m Gonna Try” established a mood rooted in the history of classic pop from an earlier era of music. “I’m Gonna Try” might portray an outcast, or even a rebellious teen, but the melody provides listeners with an endearing warmth, only made stronger by the perceived distance provided in the production.

“East Van Girls” has almost a psychedelic quality to it, pushed through by the deepness of the guitar.  Using a vocal that seems to drift in from another room allows Shimmering Stars to maintain that quality of effortless pop one usually achieves when focusing on the craftsmanship of the melody rather than simply using the best equipment available.

While Violent Hearts might have a tendency to get lost in its own dense quality, the brightness created in spots by Rory McClure’s vocal belting always provides a reassuring that the band isn’t here just to give you a muddied spin on pop of year’s past. For instance, “Sun’s Going Down,” opens with a great floating McClure line before the band jangles their way through the song.  His vocals always seem to rise and float above the music, sort of the way you would expect Brian Wilson to explore his own garage recordings.

Your first through runs through Violent Hearts might indicate that the band is creating track after track, all blending together, but a closer focus on minor details will reveal that this is not the case, at least not entirely. “I Don’t Wanna Know” easily fits into the modern spectrum of revisionist pop, with Shimmering Stars paying more attention to banging out their notes at various points, rather than holding them back.  The album’s closer, “Walk Away” is a trickling pop number, one that doesn’t really fit into the grand spectrum of the record, and it might lead you to wish the band had mixed this number earlier into the collection.  It takes a noisy little gallop at moments, always returning to it’s own softness–more such tracks would definitely have benefited the overall sound.

Shimmering Stars definitely have their ears pressed hard in the past, but of course, production value brings them into the present.  This is also a moot point, however, as the songs on Violent Hearts easily speak for themselves, allowing breezy pop moments to take the lead, whisking you away down a sunny Interstate drive.  At the end of it all, you’ll press play once again, returning to that place in your heart where nostalgia meets the present, pushing you to smile at the joys of music listening today.


Download: Shimmering Stars – Nervous Breakdown [MP3]

Violent Hearts is out now on Hardly Art Records.

Top Ten ACL Bands

Well, it’s taken us a few days to get over our various illnesses, hangovers, bruised ribs, and what have you, but we’ve compiled our list of who we thought did the best job at ACL this year.  For me, I feel sort of underwhelmed by the whole event, but I know I caught some good stuff. Read on for our list.

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New Sleepy Pop from Sea Oleena

I’ve got to give out a shout to our reader James for bringing this wonderful track to my attention.  Sea Oleena is Canadian songwriter Charlotte Oleena, who composed the songs for her most recent self-titled album with the help of her brother.  It’s got this dream quality to it, but more in that wooded dream as opposed to the more dense dream-pop of late. Something about Oleena’s voice really draws you into her songs, encouraging you to devour every last second of the record.  You can grab the album for the special “name your price” deal over at her Bandcamp.


Download: Sea Oleena – Asleep at the Wheel [MP3]

Show Preview: Jacuzzi Boys @ Red 7 (9/23)

Date Friday, Sept. 23rd
Location Red 7
Doors 900p
Tickets Tickets @ the Door

Hopefully you’ve had a minute or two to recover from ACL, or from avoiding ACL, whichever way you see fit, but it’s time to get back into the swing of things. One of the many great shows this weekend is the Jacuzzi Boys, fresh off their release of the excellent Glazin record for Hardly Art.  It’s full of catchy garage pop, the sort that never fails to keep your feet tapping and your head bobbing–maybe even a bit of old school pogo.  It’s going to be an energetic little punk show, so you gotta get out there.  You can all catch, The Act Rights, Elvis, and The Early Stages kicking the show off.  I’ll see you there!


Download: Jacuzzi Boys – Cool Vapors [MP3]

More New Music from The Sweet Ones

Just last week I bought a filthy bit of garage pop from The Sweet Ones, but this new track from their album Big Mistakes, which is out now, shows a little bit of a softer side.  Well, there’s definitely a bit of sloppiness, but it’s intentional; it gives the power-pop just enough to make you appreciate their grittiness. Surely you’ll find yourselves falling for this band as I have, at least I hope so.


Download: The Sweet Ones – Kids at the Bottom [MP3]

New Music from Golden Bear

We were fortunate enough to throw some love to Golden Bear on our Summer Mixtape, offering up the new track “Who We Are” for you to enjoy.  Still, as the October release date for the band’s new record, Alive, nears, we wanted to throw out another track that’s been floating around.  It’s more pop rock goodness from these local boys, indicating that you’re set to have a whole new record worth of tunes for your vast enjoyment.  The light keyboard/piano sound in the background really provides some great little details to this number.  Hope you enjoy it, and get behind this great local act.


Download: Golden Bear – Prospect Park [MP3]

More New Jams from ARMS

When we talked about the new album from ARMS a month back, it didn’t seem like the band had fully picked up steam just yet.  But, now that the release of Summer Skills is nearing, more people are taking notice, and deservedly so. I love the off the hilt percussion usage in this new track, not to mention the sweeping melody that floats over it all.  No need to hype this song, or album, up anymore, as it clearly is speaking for itself.  What we might have lost in Harlem Shakes, we’ve definitely gained in ARMS.


Download: ARMS – Fleeced [MP3]

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