While we here at ATH usually like to stick to local coverage, sometimes it’s hard to hide that what we’re really after is world domination. This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I’ll be in Barcelona, Spain to bring you coverage of Primavera Sound 2014, whose sick lineup and stunning location was enough to lead me outside Austin for a bit. While you can look out for live tweets and festival recaps starting Thursday, I wanted to give you a brief preview of some under the radar bands that would be easy to overlook in all the big names at Primavera. Check out my top ten must see bands that you may be unfamiliar with after the jump.
You’re probably wondering why I’m so eager to post about all the music of Rodrigo Amarante; I can’t seem to post enough of his new music. For me, the reason is that listening to his record, Cavalo, has been something of a personal revelation. There are some ornate songs within the record, while others offer little bits of tropicalia. Each song has these little nuances that are intoxicating, such as the horn blasts and piano touches add on the song below. It’s one of those albums where you just get lost in the fold, happily. The LP is out on May 6 via Easy Sound.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/01-Nada-em-Vão.mp3]
Through his work over the last several years Rodrigo Amarante has amassed a pretty solid group of friends. On his latest single, “Tardei,” he brings friend Fab Moretti, Devendra Banhart and Adam Green into the fold. While you don’t have to have cool friends to write a great song, it’s a statement that reflects just how well-respected Amarante has become, or has always been. Those friends all provide a nice little choir to quietly back Rodrigo here. It’s just another reason to expect wonderful things when you hear his album, Cavalo, which is slated for a May 6th release.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/11-Tardei.mp3]
Hopefully you recognize the name behind Little Joy, which was noted more for the appearances of Fab (Strokes fame), but which wouldn’t have sounded so perfect if not for Rodrigo Amarante. Tracks from his album, Cavalo, have been floating around the Internet for a few weeks, and this one is my personal favorite. It has that tropicalia feel, yet maintains a strangeness that allows me to hold onto the fact that I still think I’m cool (I’m not FYI). If you were a fan of the driftwood pop that his full band created, then you’ll surely love what he’s done on his own (with a little help from Devandra and Fab).[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/02.-Hourglass.mp3]
Download: Rodrigo Amarante – Hourglass [MP3]
Most will recognize the percussionist of Little Joy, the newest offshoot made up of Strokes drummer Fab Moretti. Toss in Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro, and you have the line-up for LA based Little Joy.
Those in search of the upbeat pop specialties that Albert Hammond has thrown our way will surely not find what you are looking for in these songs, but instead you will find an entirely different genre, what one will call beach-influences crooner tunes. It would suffice to say that this group has created eleven perfect lounge tracks for your favorite smoky dive bar.
“The Next Time Around” is the album’s opener, which contributes the first of many island infused tracks. Guitars and percussion lie in the back of the song, as Amarante croons, not entirely like Julian Casablancas, but not too far off. It’s easy to see why Fab chose to work with this fellow; in the middle of the track there is an influx of Portuguese lyrics, which add to the Latin appeal of the album.
Listening to this album one should recall quiet moments spent on beaches with their friends, much like the members of Team Zissou. In fact, if you recall the soundtrack to the Wes Anderson movie Life Aquatic, you will find that this album is very reminiscent of the guitar work done by Seu Jorge, although the majority of the music here is in English; none of the songs are Bowie covers either.
“No One’s Better Sake” is the fourth track on the album, and it’s one that has the largest resemblance to The Strokes. The progression sounds strikingly similar to a few of the songs off Room on Fire, but a little organ work gives it an entirely different feel. Once again, Amarante croons in that very familiar tone. Even the progression of the song sounds too familiar to dismiss as mere coincidence.
Be sure to listen to “Don’t Watch Me Dancing.” This song features the female vocals from Binki Shapiro, and it’s one of those perfect little songs that creeps into your head as the day passes into the by and by. It’s a mellow little ditty, but most will appreciate the emotive number, possibly one of the strongest tracks on the album.
One thing missing from this album is a substantial pace. The lack of pace, and the organization of the songs on the album makes it a tad difficult to immerse yourself completely in the album. Even good beach parties have a few rollicking moments that move the crowd; this album seems to lack that pace and emotion entirely aside from one or two brief moments.
At the end of the day, listeners will have a decent debut album from Little Joy to attach themselves to for evening listening. If anything, this album is the perfect conversation starter as your friends try to figure out why the songs sound so familiar, yet so much like their last trip to Cancun. You’ll enjoy the album too; it just won’t make your top albums of the year list.