Album: Pale Fire
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2, 5
Comments: Comparisons are so arbitrary but important to discuss musicians that don’t expound their own world of prowess and power. Here on El Perro Del Mar’s fifth LP, the prior judgment rings through as though fact was defined as, my opinion. ‘Pale Fire’ can be listened to without any regard to disputing that the disc has music on it and the music doesn’t sound horrible. But the vocal effort heard from Del Mar really whines with disappointment. Tropical post-club vibes and lyrics that encourage lame love circles and scorned regret are as affecting as discovering that Kenny G and Michael Bolton have been lovers the last twenty years.
Genre: Bedroom Club Failed Aesthetic
Artist: Gospel Claws
Album: Put Your Sunshine Away
Rec’d Tracks: 2, 3, 4, 5, 8
Comments: Mixing elements of Beach Boy fun, Portugal. The Man silliness, and sun-soaked reverb, Gospel Claws have curated an album of just true playful tracks. Not taking themselves too seriously, this album is completely serious on instilling a vibe that brings images of sock hops, smoothies, and roller skates to mind.
Genre: Sock Hop Pop
Artist: Sidewalk Dave
Album: Hard on Romance
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2, 3! 4 7
Comments: The amount of inward outward explosion of emotion on this LP is exhausting. A moan similar to earlier Dinosaur Jr. and down-out reverb drives songs that make you believe Sidewalk Dave has had a rough go around for however long this songs hold ambition. Track 3, ‘Wait Forever’ has the most accessible sound and serves as a fresh break up between the two relationships foreboding each end of this album. The beginning is a sad rep sheet that it’s no wonder any girl would stay with Dave. The second half is the attempt at attempting the next amicable bond. The best of luck.
Artist: John Cale
Album: Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 3, 4, 12
Comments: One downfall of being a lengendary member of a band like The Velvet Underground, is that you can become lost in assuming everything you touch is gold. Especially if most of your life has worked out that way. That is John Cale’s biggest misstep is that these songs with that album title, don’t warrant any sort of appropriate praise. Yea, there is amazing production, sweet sounding gagets making cool noises unheard in a lot of other music, but there probably is a reason for that. These songs are tricks and nobody likes to be tricked twelve times in a row. It’s John Cale. From The Velvet Underground. So he gets his pass, but only by the inherent meaning of whatever ‘Nookie Wood’ is.
Artist: Cub Scouts
Album: Told You So EP
Rec’d Tracks: 3, 4, 5
Comments: This Australian indie pop outfit is making waves over in their native land, including a few awards this last year, but are still trying to break the mold state-side. This EP shows promise, and like other indie darlings, The Rubbish Zoo, I’m particularly guessing that KSUA local show ‘Emotional Celery’ will be sure to blow this album up on air about 20 zillion times over the Spring Semester.
Genre: Twee Indie Pop
Rec’d Tracks: 1! 2, 5, 6, 8, 10
Comments: This self-release sees variation and familiarity akin to 90’s riot grrrl scene-ster musicians but also a shit-storm of experimentalism. Simply titled Jan, the music luckily doesn’t follow the same trend of the project’s title. Jan’s tenor vocal strain is just that at times, and can sound almost eerily disturbing and out of tune at times. The same happens with certain instrumental insertions including a recorder solo that sounds like a drunkard on New Years Eve. This off-beat level of disarray shows promise and allows Jan’s vocal and instrumental missteps seem all that more interesting and purposeful.
Genre: Riot Grrl Revival
Artist: People Get Ready
Rec’d Tracks: 2, 4, 5, 6, 10
Comments: With playground urgency reminiscent of lead singer Dave from The Dirty Projectors, Steven Reker wears his 2000’s influences so clearly they are almost blinding. Yeasayer, aforementioned Dirty Projectors, and David Bryne all come to mind with these indie pop songs. A musical strobe light, these songs’ effects are refreshing for just as long as you can forget there is the same consistent, established world behind that flashing arresting light. People Get Ready pay great attention to minuscule details in their elaborate arrangements. But we’ll see if on their next release, that curates a more unique sound then the easily unaware personality shown here.
Genre: Indie Pop
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2, 6, 7
Comments: While Seapony had some promising singles released this last year, their release ‘Falling’ plays out as a ‘been there, heard it before’ endeavor that repeats itself over 12 tracks. While fuzzed-out surf pop is pleasant enough, the album eventually falls flat when you realize you’ve listened to the entire album and couldn’t have distinguished one song from the next. Seapony among many other bands tend to get stuck in a particular comfortable sound that yes, works for them, but can’t seem to find the variation to keep the sound fresh and ever interesting.
Genre: Surf Pop
Artist: A Fine Frenzy
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 7, 11
Comments: ‘Pines’ is a themed album with what A Fine Frenzy promotes as a ‘sensory experience of music, storytelling, etc etc’. While that is all well and good, it doesn’t mean the listener is necessarily going to get what the hell the artists is trying to portray. That’s ok. Let’s skip forward and just assume that the songs are just songs and not some awakening drawn out of some Middle Earth sanctuary. There are a few nice upbeat winners, and the rest are a tad bit tedious to tackle. Every other track breaks the seven minute mark and lacks a grasp on the attention side of things. A Fine Frenzy sings well and has well intentions, but let’s hope her next release is little more short and to the point.
Genre: Female singer/songwriter.
Artist: Memory Tapes
Rec’d Tracks: 1! 2, 4, 5
Comments: An interesting thing is happening among artists previously associated with the genre coined as ‘chill-wave’. They have realized that genre, really didn’t exist. The genre more so described a very current ‘feeling’ of how the music was perceived at that exact moment. Great. That’s totally awesome, and we should be striving to describe music as such. But now that chill-wave is not ‘cool’ in the eyes of Urban Outfitter tumblr accounts, I suppose it’s time to move on. Memory Tapes have done so with the energy and messiness of a born anew musician trying to forget his shaded past while forging an everlasting path ahead. Like most journeys, there are missteps here, but only noticeable if you knew where the adventurer started in the first place.
Genre: Experimental Pop
Artist: The Hounds Below
Album: You Light Me Up in the Dark
Rec’d Tracks: 1, 2, 8, 9!
Comments: There are times Jason Stollsteimer’s vocals really hit a chord you want to get on board with. That is when this pretty traditional rock record breaks the mold just the right amount to get a second look. I know, I’m doing a great job of convincing you that this record should expose some sort of response, but I guess maybe I’m not trying that hard either. Number nine is really good ‘Deathcab Song’ though.
Artist: Prissy Clerks
Album: Bruise or Be Bruised
Rec’d Tracks: 2, 4, 5, 7, 10
Comments: Female fronted garage rock has always been around. But there seems to be this cyclic theme every few years where more bands get attention outside of local scenes and return to the airwaves to renew the attention it deserves. 2012-13 seem to be that year where record labels and promoters are back on the trend of ‘allowing’ it to sound fresh and renewed again. Good for them, good for us listeners, and good for the musicians that always kick ass.
Genre: Garage Rock Pop