We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Make A Mess of Sacred Ground

Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been pleasantly following the career of We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves for well over a year, and it seems to have all come to a head with their excellent new LP, Make a Mess of Sacred Ground.  Sure, you’re going to find hints of Smiths and Northern Soul all over the record, but this isn’t your typical re-hash; the group’s songwriters are too good to be run-of-the-will.

The first time I heard “Winsome William,” the opening track, I knew it was going to be a hit.  There’s that happening stomp and jangling guitars, then the vocals come in with this crooning swagger; it’s absolute bliss.  They’ve captured the best part of the Northern Soul movement, providing you with a song where you can swing your lover about, whilst still having lyrical content that begs attention.  While the sharpness of the guitars doesn’t necessarily continue in the same fashion on “Stop Moving,” the rolling drum beat that opens the track definitely makes way for some good listens. Personally, I love the urgency in the vocal delivery; you can hear the passion behind the voice–with lyrics that lean towards a sort of Dev Hynes construction.

Make A Mess of Sacred Ground isn’t just going to beat you over the head with jangle rock; the group loves the soul aspect to boot!  “Heart in a Sling” beings almost as if you’re chilling in a hip lounge somewhere, listening to a tight backing band support their favorite crooner.  Then the group joins in to take you on a twangy crash into the seas of pop precision.  Interestingly, they take a completely different approach altogether with the following track, “Eloise.”  It’s similar in structure to the album’s opener, yet here you’ll find a quieted acoustic guitar with vocals soaring at the front of the mix.  I was already in love with this song from the beginning, but then some string arrangements join in for accompaniment and I swooned; I can’t stop listening to this track.

If you haven’t heard of We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves, then you’re definitely in for a treat once you put this record on play.  From the spirited opener of “Winsome William” to the jangling bookend “Devil in the Old Folk’s Home,” you’ve got a diverse set of eight tracks that wrap themselves around your brain and heart.  Make a Mess of Sacred Ground is a quick listen, but it’s so infectious that you won’t be able to resist flipping it over and playing it again and again.  If you’re looking for a flawless record that you can show off to all your cool friends, then pick this one up and hopefully we can help spread the word about this great band.


Download: We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Devil In The Old Folks’ Home [MP3]

Warm Pop Gem from Cinderpop

The single for Cinderpop’s newest album has been floating around for quite some time, but I hadn’t really given it too much of a listen until I started spinning Manic Sparkles repeatedly on my player.  It’s an album that’s chock-full of wonderful pop tunes that recall all sorts of influences, from the Lucksmiths to Sloan to Nada Surf.  These are the sorts of influences that make me swoon, so I’m happy to have re-discovered the band and their classic pop sound.  I feel like more people should be writing music like this, but if they’re not, I’ve always got great bands like this to enjoy.


Download:Cinderpop – Florentine [MP3]

White Arrows – Dry Land Is Not a Myth

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Some bands manage to get the timing just right, and as we move closer the official arrival of Summer it seems that White Arrows have arrived with their debut right on time.  Dry Land Is Not a Myth is filled with an electronic influence that’s aimed more at dance floors than bedroom pop experiments; it’s best listened to at high volumes with a bunch of your friends.

When you start off with “Roll Over” you can grasp at the live performance by White Arrows; the guitars are much more prominent, and the vocals unfold carefully, creating a bit of anxiety as the song builds towards the spastic chorus.  But, the album doesn’t fully kick in until you’ve reached “Get Gone,” the following track on Dry Land Is Not a Myth.  Here, you’ll find the band spinning their style around sampled beats, though you still get some angular guitar parts stuttering in the background.  Hand claps compliment the stuttering vocal delivery, and if proper volume is reached, you’re going to be bouncing around your room.

For me, “Coming and Going” is the heart and soul of the record, not to say bright moments are absent beyond, but this is a record built on electronica, and combined with the soulful crooning of the chorus, you can feel the classic pop seeping through the cracks with hints of oddball programmed sounds subtly creeping in to the track; it’s much like a track you’d expect Hot Chip to throw your way–there’s soul, but there’s also a dance element. It matches well with the closer on Dry Land Is Not a Myth, “Fireworks at Sea.”  There’s a wash of electronic atmospherics that coats the song in a sort of fog, but that’s juxtaposed with sprightly guitar licks and a bouncy vocal delivery from Mickey Church.  “Get Gone” might be a hit, but these two tracks exemplify the sound of White Arrows when they’re at their best.

But, it’s not all about beating you over the head with dance jams; the group also goes into more traditional rock n’ roll territory, only with an electronic bent.  “I Can Go” is one such song where the guitar seems to be the focus of the track, rather than the throbbing rhythm from some machine.  That being said, it does make the record a bit disjointed in parts, which I blame on the sequencing of the tracks.  Thrown somewhere else, this is a fitting track, but following three dance heavy songs, it seems amiss.  Still, band’s, especially on their debut, are allowed some missteps, are they not?

As a debut, Dry Land Is Not a Myth is quite a statement. It’s an album filled with hooks, both in the songwriting and the vocals. The songs don’t run too long, so you’re not going to feel burdened by redundancy, instead you’ll feel energized as the group provides you with exciting pop jams over and over again.   It’s a solid debut, and one that will surely give White Arrows claim to the perfect claim to Summer Album 2012.


Download:White Arrows – Fireworks Of The Sea [MP3]

Great New Pop from Saint Motel

The generous dudes over at Saint Motel sent us this track this morning, and I’m so glad they did.  Some groups just have a knack for writing a simple pop tune that is able to rise above standards and find it’s way into constant rotation in your musical life.  The LA quartet is setting up to release their debut, Voyeur, some time this year, and I expect that it’s going to fall somewhere in the vein of bands like Mystery Jets, carefully writing catchy pop numbers I won’t want to share with anyone but myself.  But, just for today, I’d like to share this one with you.


Download:Saint Motel – 1997 [MP3]

Drifting Pop Tune from Grandparents

When you come across a tune that you can’t escape you’ve got to just sit down and applaud the efforts of the artists; that’s exactly what I did when I listened to this first track from the latest EP, titled Fumes, from Portland’s Grandparents.  There’s sort of a far-out approach to the craftsmanship of the group’s pop efforts, something that makes their songs always seem to rise and fall with the changes of the wind.  Hopefully you get the same sentimental drifting emotion that came to mind when I continuously played this song through my stereo; you’re going to find your spirit lightened just by listening.


Download:Grandparents – Arrows [MP3]

Catchy Pop Number from We Cant Enjoy Ourselves

I feel like I’ve got some heavier tunes on the site today, so I wanted to toss up something ever-so catchy.  I’ve talked about We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves several times before, so with their new album, Make A Mess Of Sacred Ground, coming later this year, I figured I’d get this ditty up for your tastes.  It encompasses everything we’ve come to expect, and love, from the group, featuring a bouncing rhythm and nice hook.  Personally, I’m always a sucker when the whole gang jumps in to offer up supporting vocal moments.  You can never have enough good tunes, so enjoy this one as we spring back into the week.


Download:We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Devil In The Old Folks’ Home [Mp3]

Suckers – Candy Salad

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Candy Salad is the sophomore effort from one of my favorite acts, Suckers.  My first few weeks with the record were tumultuous; I just couldn’t wrap my ears around the slightly polished and less erratic tunes.  But, I’m dedicated to these dudes, and that sort of dedication definitely paid off in the long run.  This record might not be as effortlessly brilliant as Wild Smile, but get to know the album and you’ll find it might even win you over more.

When “Nowhere” starts off, the first thing that really stuck out to me was the absence of Brian Aiken on drums; this track doesn’t have too much of a defined percussive element to it (nor oddball intensity).  That being said, the way the rise of the vocals when we’re “going nowhere” warrant some accolades; it’s a perfect pop moment. Those heightened sort of bursts continue with the stomping “Figure It Out,” but while I enjoy the sonic construction, it seems a bit rudimentary for Suckers.  That’s the issue some might make with this record, but you’ve got to seek out some brilliance that hides within.

For instance, I thought “Bricks to the Bones” was just another of those such tracks, that’s until I got to the third minute of the track.  You’ll get soaring vocals, and the ecstatic pop you’ve come to expect from these dudes. It leads perfectly into the standout jam, “Chinese Braille.”  After a few moments of pulsing you get the Suckers trademark whistling; I think they’re the best at incorporating a good whistle into a jam. For me, this song definitely embodies more of the spirit that I would have expected on Candy Salad; it’s a little bit quirky, still holding onto a certain brightness. Admittedly, I needed more of this sort to completely fall in love.

Much like this first half of the record, there are elements of joyousness for every music fan at the center of these songs, but I guess in the end they lack a little bit of the frivolity that was present on Wild Smile.  “Charmaine” is one of the few tracks that truly seems to capture the live essence of the group, and that’s one of the things (for us at ATH) that made their first effort so addicting.  With this group and their more than memorable live shows you need to capture that spirit in a recording, but these songs seem a touch subdued.  Take another great track from the record like “Turn On the Sunshine,” a joyous song in every sense, but you all know it could be far more killer if Quinn just exploded into the microphone; he’s done it exceptionally well in the past.  Still, you can count this as an otherwise pretty solid track on Candy Salad.

Looking back on the roughly 45 minutes of Candy Salad, you can see that there’s shining moments of exuberant pop, the sort you’ve come to expect from these guys.  But, such moments are hiding in places and absent in others, which leaves you wanting a whole lot more from the group on their second effort.  If you’re a fan of Suckers, you know the band is capable of great things, it’s just that this round they didn’t quite get there, giving us a good effort, but not the great one we expected.


Download:Suckers – Chinese Braille [MP3]

Introducing Alcoholic Faith Mission

Danish bands always need a little love over here in the United States, especially when they’re on small labels like our good friends over at Old Flame Records (we’re looking at you Rob!). We’d like to give you a nice little introduction to Alcoholic Faith Mission, the newest Danish export, crafting some really elegant pop tunes that head straight for the soft spot in your soul. My personal favorite is the one below featuring Sune on the lead vocal, with her raspy vocal recalling hints of Emily Haines.  That being said, the band also crafts more dynamic tunes as well, all which will be featured on the band’s upcoming release, Ask Me This, that comes to stores next week.


Download:Alcoholic Faith Mission – Ask Me This [MP3]

Tiger Waves – Don’t Be Yourself


Rating: ★★★★☆

When I first encountered Austin’s Tiger Waves, I was caught off guard by their experimental inclusion of bits of noise that eventually shifted into snippets of grandiose pop.  However, on their recent release, Don’t Be Yourself, the band tends to switch it the other way around–clearly indicative of a band who have grown in their songwriting capabilities. 

“From the Start” begins with a bit of a noise snippet, but the impressive forcefulness of the track quickly breaks into full stride.  Personally, I like how the lyrics are hiding just a bit behind the music, almost like the classic rock we all grew up jamming to in our parents living room, and then it ends. But, the motif of classic songwriting comes in with the hints of psychedelia that are present on “Quebec.”  Perhaps it’s just that jangling tambourine and the affected vocal that gives it the San Francisco effect, but it fits perfectly with the mood of the entire album.

When Tiger Waves breaks into “I Hope You’ll Feel Alright” you can tell that the band has abilities beyond just living with their influences; they’ve created their own sound with fluid movements amidst many of the tracks.  Here, you get almost a quieted chant from the get go, but the lurking backing vocal seems to make way for the entire group to make some mono-syllabic noise in unison.  And this is where you’ll find Don’t Be Yourself really taking hold of listeners, as the record moves into “Summer.”  It’s the sort of constructive pop that recalls bands like Youth Lagoon or Ducktails, but only done more effectively since they’re utilizing the songwriting of an entire group in the studio.  Layering the vocals atop the music on this track definitely creates special moments that you won’t want to miss.

As Tiger Waves prepare to wrap up the whole affair, they close things out with the perfect juxtaposition of their unique sound.  Of course, “I Love You George Harrison” surely harkens back to the careful craftsmanship alluded to in the song’s title–and I’m sure it would make George proud.  But, then you end Don’t Be Yourself with the hauntingly brilliant “Underground.” It’s the quiet atmospheric touches, mellow pacing and steady dosage of pop writing that initially drew me to this band; it comes full circle as the band closes out this EP, going out in quite a fashion.

Hopefully this isn’t your first introduction to Tiger Waves, but if so, do yourself a favor and spend some time with the group’s music.  If Don’t Be Yourself is anything with which to judge these young lads by, then they’ll probably be around for some time, hopefully writing more great tunes such as these.  You can grab this EP, as well as other great tunes by visiting the band HERE.


Download: Tiger Waves – Underground [MP3]


Quiet Listen from Banquet

You’ve gotta love sprawling pop tracks, especially when you find them by accident.  Such is the case when I came across this new tune from Banquet, off the Impasse EP.  For almost two minutes, the song quietly moves along, patiently waiting its own little explosion.  The careful construction of the opening moments soon makes way for the explosion that erupts in a brief bit of pop bliss. If you like what you hear, then you can get your hands on the EP pretty quickly by heading over to Banquet’s site, or you can just give the whole EP a nice listen. I likes.


Download: Banquet – Impasse [MP3]

1 39 40 41 42 43