As one of a couple of Weezer-influenced California power pop bands with a Schwartzman as a founding member, Rooney has upped their sunshine game in this latest release. If the consistent nods to the Beach Boys throughout the record don’t convince you it’s time for fun in the sun, just stare at the board shorts pattern cover for a while. There’s also some 80s meets modern pop stuff (think Walk the Moon), some Cardigans-style vocals, and some pub rock antics that conjure the Fratellis mixed into the formula this time around. Despite strong moments up front, the pool party companion record begins to trail off and ultimately just makes you nostalgic for their hyper-catchy 2003 debut (and “All the Beautiful People” just might make you wish you were listening to Marilyn Manson).
Icarus Line – All Things Under Heaven
A soundtrack to the worst acid trip ever, they’re almost daring college radio DJs ‘please try to play any of these songs on the radio.’ They sound like an evil bizarro version of the Pixies over a backdrop of industrial mechanistic grind, existing in a world where melody and song structure are secondary to chaos and general awfulness. “All Things Under Heaven” is a deeply unsettling sermon about the virtue of slaughtering your fellow man that would border on irresponsible to put on the radio. The Talking Headsy groove of “Incinerator Blue” might be worth a radio spin if not for the 4.5-minute intro with sinister distorted vocals over ambient noise, making their most musical song a bit of a fuck you. “Millennial Prayer” is a fuck you to anyone born after 1980. “Solar Plexus” seems like it’s meant as a cruel practical joke with quiet Violent Femmes-style vocals that compel the listener to raise the volume before being punished with a violent assault of sonic chaos that increases the volume by a factor of 20—a veritable fuck you to anyone with ears. It’s actually worth a private listen just to see if they can get their evil inside of you.
We Are Scientists – TV en Francais
A fun, quirky dance punk band from a decade ago has become a middling alt-rock band. Oddly, they remind me of the Rembrandts, a band best known for the Friends theme song “I’ll be there for you.” The Rembrandts were pretty mediocre but once in a while they stumbled onto a killer pop hook. Relegated to that role, We Are Scientists occasionally hits the mark, but overall they make you question why they still exist as a band. Unfortunately, they’re not saying anything and they’re not doing anything special.
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
In the year that David Bowie left us, Iggy Pop’s latest is a fitting tribute to the Bowie-in-Berlin era that gave us Iggy’s Lust for Life. With Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age adding background vox, it feels almost like Bowie’s specter is perched right behind the architect of Motown proto-punk as he contemplates his own mortality. While his lyrics conjure the dying of the light, his well-preserved voice nestles well into Homme’s signature desert rock sound. Last year’s Stooges album felt pretty juvenile for a geezer with a legacy like Iggy, so this is a breath of fresh from one of the most distinct voices in the history of rocknroll. Bottom line: it’s totally sweet.