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Posts Tagged ‘Pop ETC’

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Myth

Review of Beach House’s Bloom

Photo By Liz FlyntzLiz FlyntzIf we can regard Beach House literally as their namesake, which is to say as a holiday getaway, a reliably stolid place to escape from the real world, then the amount of adoration they’ve gotten for largely sticking to their skeletal formula through four albums now is understandable. Their fans don’t want them to reinvent themselves with each outing; they want that comforting blanket of Victoria Legrand’s narcoleptic vocals and whirring keyboard interwoven with Alex Scally’s languid slide guitar, and across their first two records – their 2006 self-titled debut and 2007’s Devotion – that’s almost exactly what they got, seasoned with some rudimentary percussion both electronic and organic.

The closest thing they’re ever likely to come to a revolution was with 2010’s Teen Dream, which managed to take a relatively huge leap forward with the production and songwriting, making interesting rhythms and pop hooks a front burner concern without compromising their core sound. A risk, perhaps, but one that paid off immensely in the form of their strongest and most critically and commercially successful work. So with that in mind, it’s not surprising that Bloom – out next Tuesday – opts to stay the course laid out by its predecessor. Surprises simply aren’t Beach House’s style.

Gorgeousness is, however. It took the aforementioned embrace of bigger sounds on Teen Dream to really make me appreciate Beach House – prior to that, I had to be in a very particular mood to listen to them for any period of time – and now they’re a band for all occasions. Having touring drummer Daniel Franz play on the whole of the record, a third member of the band even if he’s not formerly acknowledged as such, helps both ground and propel Bloom while Legrand and Scally do their thing in crafting the haunting textures and melodies that are the foundation of Beach House. And while we’re being literal about things, Bloom is an exceptionally appropriate name for this collection as there’s moments that simply burst outwards. To even suggest that the band be capable of this sort of dynamicism circa their debut would have seemed absurd, and yet just six years later, here we are – and without compromising their identity, no less.

It’s too early to say if Bloom is better than Teen Dream, but by the quantitative measure of how many times I’ve felt compelled to listen to it, it’s already well ahead. At worst, it’s as good as its predecessor and at best, its even better. In either case, it’s hard to imagine liking one and not the other and regardless of where you rank it relative to Beach House’s earlier output, despite really just being more of the same – or perhaps because of it – it’s excellent.

NPR has an advance stream of the new record and DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, The Orlando Sentinel, and Pitchfork have interviews with the band.

MP3: Beach House – “Myth”
Stream: Beach House / Bloom

Also streaming at NPR but two weeks ahead of release are The Only Place, the second album from Best Coast, and Passage, the debut from Exitmusic. Best Coast are at The Phoenix on July 21 and Exitmusic have a NXNE showcase at Wrongbar on June 14.

Stream: Best Coast / The Only Place
Stream: Exitmusic / Passage

S. Carey’s new EP Hoyas came out this week – stream it at Stereogum and read interviews with Sean Carey about the record at The Leader Telegram and Volume One.

MP3: S. Carey – “Two Angles”
Stream: S. Carey / Hoyas

In concert announcements, Joe Pernice will stretch his legs and take a mosey to The Dakota Tavern on June 22, maybe play some songs.

MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”

Having sold out Lee’s Palace their last time through, Youth Lagoon will be at The Opera House on July 12 with Father John Misty, who still has to get through Monday night’s show at the Horseshoe before he can make a return engagement. Tickets are $15.50 in advance.

MP3: Youth Lagoon – “July”
MP3: Father John Misty – “Nancy From Now On”

If part of Liars’ to-do list in preparation for the June 5 release of WIXIW was slate a North American tour, they can cross it off – they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on July 21, tickets $15. They can also check off releasing the first video from the new album.

MP3: Liars – “Scissor”
Video: Liars – “No. 1 Against The Rush”

Twin Shadow is also hitting the road in support of a new record – with Confess due out July 9, George Lewis Jr will be at Lee’s Palace on July 30 and 31, tickets $20.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds”
MP3: Twin Shadow – “Slow”

Merge has released a companion album to Crooked Fingers’ 2011 album Breaks In The Armor comprised of acoustic demos of the album. It’s out now and you can stream one of the tracks at Donewaiting.

Stream: Crooked Fingers – “Bad Blood” (acoustic)

Exclaim reports that some of The Mountain Goats’ early cassette releases from the early ’90s – The Hound Chronicles and Hot Garden Stomp, specifically – will be released on a single CD on June 26.

Fang Island have announced that their second album Major will be out on July 12; details at Spin.

Pop Etc have released a video from their self-titled debut, out June 12.

Video: Pop Etc – “Live It Up”

Explosions In The Sky have released a second video from last year’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

Video: Explosions In The Sky – “Postcard From 1952”

America Give Up has yielded another video from Minneapolis’ Howler.

Video: Howler – “This One’s Different”

Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from Mates Of State, off of last year’s Mountaintops.

Video: Mates Of State – “Unless I’m Led”

The Magnetic Fields have released a second video from Love At The Bottom Of The Sea.

Video: The Magnetic Fields – “Quick!”

Interview talks to Molly Hamilton of Widowspeak, in town at The Garrison on June 15 for NXNE.

The Line Of Best Fit has a video session with Of Montreal, in town for NXNE on June 16 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Artrocker and Drowned In Sound talk to A Place To Bury Strangers about their forthcoming album Worship, out June 26.

Red Eye and The Detroit Free Press talk to Andrew Bird, in town at Echo Beach on July 19.

Sharon Van Etten plays a video session for WBEZ; she’s at The Phoenix on July 31.

Pitchfork talks to Merrill Garbus and the director of the recent tUnE-yArDs video for “My Country”. She plays The Phoenix on August 1.

SF Weekly chats with John Vanderslice.

Reverb interviews Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.

NPR is streaming a KCRW radio session with M. Ward.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Savoir Adore.

Ra Ra Riot talks to Spin about what they’ve got planned for album number three and to Grantland about their appreciation for hockey.

NPR has a WFUV session with Shearwater.

Spin gets a progress report on the next Dinosaur Jr album, due out later this Summer.

Greg Dulli takes The Skinny on a guided tour of The Afghan Whigs’ catalog.

Spin talks to Bob Mould about the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s Copper Blue and the single, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” in particular. Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that two of Mould’s ’90s albums – Bob Mould and The Last Dog & Pony Show – will be getting released as a three-disc set in the UK on June 18 with the third disc consisting of a live 1998 show.

The Atlantic reflects on the significance of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

The AV Club has posted the fourth part of their look at the history of R.E.M..

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Put Your Back N 2 It

Perfume Genius and Parenthetical Girls at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you thought that any combination of it being a Sunday night and Easter would result in a lightly-attended Perfume Genius show at The Drake on Sunday night, you’d have been wrong. Which is to say that I was wrong; the handful of tickets remaining were snatched up when doors opened and by the time I got there, it was officially sold out. And with good cause – Mike Hadreas’ second album under as Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It – is a stunning record, giving his emotionally stark songwriting with just enough sonic adornment to make it not just palatable, but delicious.

Perfume Genius weren’t the only draw; supporting them on this tour were fellow Pacific northwesterners Parenthetical Girls from Portland, who’ve garnered their own loyal fanbase over the past decade and added to it locally having been here for two nights in January supporting Los Campesinos. While there were enough similarities that this bill made sense in some ways, in others you couldn’t imagine a more disparate pairing. Fronted by the magnetic Zac Pennington, their set was more musical theatre than conventional concert with his flamboyant yet dry delivery leading the band through what felt like selections from a synth-rock opera, enhanced by some great audience repartee and a few forays into the crowd. Importantly though, for all the theatrics, they still had immediate and hummable tunes underneath it all and their sincerity was never obscured by camp or irony. Even if it had, it’d still have been fun but that it wasn’t was even better.

Irony wasn’t any kind of risk with Perfume Genius; Hadreas is all about raw, unvarnished honesty. Seeing him at Matador 21 in 2010, circa his debut Learning, it was impossible to not be impressed how he silenced the theatre with just two keyboards and his voice. This time, he was again accompanied by Alan Wyffels on synths but also a third player alternating on guitar and drums, and while the extra instrumentation went a long way to filling things out and pushing them forward, the live readings of the Back material still felt more immediate and stripped down than the record, yet still dramatic in their content and often abrupt in their finish – when the songs were done, they were just done.

He played for barely 45 minutes, drawing mainly from Put Your Back N 2 It, including a faux encore that Hadreas distinguished from the main set by ducking under his piano for a few seconds before re-emerging. He commented that the last time he played this room, back in the Fall of 2010, there was maybe a tenth of the people who were here this time but even so, the packed house remained dead silent and respectful throughout the set. Considering how personal and intimate Hadreas’ music is, it’s hard to imagine him having to establish the sort of connection with the audience that was so evident here on a larger scale, but considering how powerful that connection is it’s hard to imagine it not reaching and resonating with more people. What happens next is for the future to tell, I suppose, but this night was near perfect.

The Republican and NOW have interviews with Mike Hadreas while The Montreal Mirror profiles Parenthetical Girls.

Photos: Perfume Genius, Parenthetical Girls @ The Drake Underground – April 8, 2012
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Hood”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Dark Parts”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “All Waters”
MP3: Perfume Genius – “Learning”
MP3: Parenthetical Girls – “The Pornographer”
MP3: Parenthetical Girls – “A Note To Self”
Video: Perfume Genius – “Hood”
Video: Perfume Genius – “Lookout, Lookout”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “The Privilege”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “Careful Who You Dance With”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “The Pornographer”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “The Common Touch”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “Young Throats”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “Evelyn McHale”
Video: Parenthetical Girls – “A Song For Ellie Greenwich”

I suppose credit where credit is due; The Dandy Warhols have somehow maintained a fanbase that allows them to continue to play a room the size of The Phoenix and collect $30 for the privilege of hearing “Bohemian Like You”; they’re there on June 3 in support of their new record This Machine, which comes out April 24.

MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Country Leaver”
MP3: The Dandy Warhols – “Sad Vacation”

Also straight out of Portland – Blind Pilot are going to be at The Opera House on July 25, continuing to tour last Fall’s We Are The Tide. Tickets for that are $17.50 in advance.

MP3: Blind Pilot – “Keep You Right”

Straight off of announcing a July 10 release for their new record Swing Lo Magellan, Dirty Projectors have slated an extensive tour that brings them to the Music Hall on July 6 with recent 4AD-signees Purity Ring as support; their own debut album will be out on July 24.

Stream: Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
Stream: Purity Ring – “Belispeak”

The Head & The Heart stops in at The AV Club to participate in their Undercover series with a Fleetwood Mac cover.

Exclaim, The Georgia Straight, and The National Post talk to Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, who are back in town on April 27 and 28 at the Air Canada Centre warming up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Pitchfork talks to the boys of POP ETC – née The Morning Benders – who inaugurate their new identity on June 12 with a self-titled album. I guess the all caps is mandatory, eh? Feh.

Spin and The Daily Texan chat with Bowerbirds.

Kurt Wagner of Lambchop reviews his musical upbringing with Pitchfork.

NPR, The Line Of Best Fit, and The National Post all talk to M. Ward on the occasion of the release of his new record A Wasteland Companion.

The AV Club has posted the second part of their extensive history/salute to R.E.M..