Because of Beyonce many young women are talking about feminism and hopefully young men because she has such a following. I have had young people in Nigeria who probably would have never heard of my TED talk without Beyonce and who are now talking about feminism.
Damaged Bug - Hubba Bubba: Retro synth psych experiments from Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer, who I guess counts as an LA artist now that he’s very publicly cut off all ties with San Francisco, citing its gentrification-induced soullessness. SF is too soulless so you move to…Los Angeles? Sure ok whatever. Anyway, he made this record that kinda sounds like a stoned, burnt out, disheveled Gary Numan. It drags sometimes and seems hesitant to go fully cosmic on a lot of its songs but there’s definitely some worthwhile stuff in there, particularly towards the end of the record when the tempos slow down and it feels like melting under the twin suns of Tatooine.
Perfect Pussy - Say Yes to Love: I guess I should preface this review by admitting that, as an angsty girl myself, I am biased towards bands with angry female vocalists, and to put it simply, Bikini Kill/L7/Bratmobile/(fill in your favorite riot grrrl band here) have nothing on Perfect Pussy. A combination of hardcore influences with a noise rock-driven sound reminiscent of early Dinosaur Jr. (i.e. “You’re Living All Over Me”), “Say Yes to Love” ranges from blaringly aggressive to surprisingly melodic. Opening with the hard-hitting tracks “Driver” and the somewhat discordant “Bells,” Perfect Pussy quickly asserts its raw power and dynamism, but in “Big Stars” and “Interference Fits,” the more distinct guitar melody demonstrate the band’s artistry and ability to be more than just another loud punk band. However, as a first studio album, “Say Yes to Love” has some anticipated shortcomings, namely that half of “Advance Upon the Real” is little more than static noise. Oh,and “VII” does not jibe with the rest of the record at all – it is not even in the same genre, leaning more on the side of earsplittingly distorted, electronic-dominated post-rock than punk. But hey, if that’s your thing, play that track. Anyway, this solid debut definitely deserves some airtime despite its few faults. ASHLEY H.
Mystic Braves - Mystic Braves: Hazy psych garage w/ some cool country-ish influenced as well (rolling drums and basslines!). Sounds a lot like some lost 60s band. All the tracks kind of sound the same but good now that the weather is getting hot.
Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else: Ohio’s Cloud Nothings returns to form on “Here and Nowhere Else.” With time the group has become more concise and powerful, cropping their typical output down to a solid eight song collection. CN also whittled down their lineup in the past year, becoming a formidable (though notably more basic) trio. They retain their signature machinegun momentum, with a Ramones-worthy flurry of down-strumming and bass drum kicks. While 2012 standout “Attack on Memory” was a large departure from their earlier releases, the band has backtracked a bit to approximate a sound encompassing their entire catalog. Songs like “I’m Not Part of Me” retain their intensity but blend in catchy, snarled hooks.
Recommended Tracks: “I’m Not Part of Me”, “Just See Fear”, “Psychic Trauma”
Pure X - Angel: Like much of the 70s soul that’s influenced Pure X for their third album,Angel has its fair share of gooey sentiments. Take “Heaven,” a slow, ingenuous track about, well, Heaven, as an internal destination. Nate Grace, one of two frontmen, sings, “It don’t matter who you are, or how you’re livin’ / The Kingdom is in your heart, Heaven is a feeling.” Pure X aren’t great poets, but the fluency and certitude that they deliver make for a decidedly earnest album. “Starlight” conjures images of teenage infatuation, an idealized view of romance that most eventually dismiss as fantasy, but again, the track’s simplistic descriptions make this fantasy world seem so accessible. This track also makes quick work in setting the tone for a ceaselessly sensual work. (That’s also the last time I’ll use the word “quick” to describe this music.) I imagine Pure X woo many a fine woman by playing these tunes. But hey, I’m not a fine woman, and I’m digging it, too.NEW NICK
Recommended Tracks: "Starlight", “Livin’ the Dream”, “Wishin’ on the Same Star”
St. Vincent - St. Vincent: I think I use the word groovy in just about every review I write, but this one has the official NWA groove approval. Little Annie is all grown up and she’s laying down some thick glittery jam. This is ART rock, sometimes more about the art than the rock, with Annie jerking wildly onstage as if possessed by some glam demon. Her live show is no doubt a performance, and not just of the music. But, the music on this album manages to shine through the chichi. One might say that these songs are more electronic based with the keyboard often taking up the main decipherable element of the song, but when she does decide to crank up the geetar it’s hard-hitting, catchy riffs as usual. “Bring Me Your Loves” is a good example. The other big difference for me is in content - “Oh, what an ordinary day. Take out the trash, masturbate”. There’s a lot of sexuality in these songs, and it’s sort of surprising considering Annie’s cutesy, child-like nature (Disney movies were once one of her major lyrical influences). This may be a stretch, but I would say she’s becoming the Lana Del Rey of alternative music. And don’t hate on Lana. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Rattlesnake and Digital Witness are the same song; I feel so bad for that keyboardist. SHILL
Recommended Tracks: “Rattlesnake”, “Birth in Reverse”, “Bring Me Your Loves”
The Men - Tomorrow’s Hits: The Men have come a long way stylistically since Open Your Heart, let alone since the abrasive, disorienting punk/noise rock of Immaculada. While Open Your Heart saw a new incorporation of classic rock and country influence, Tomorrow’s Hits is much more straightforward. In fact, it explores even more uncharted territory, delving deep into roots and heartland rock. The influence of Rock and Roll pioneers is everywhere; there’s the blue collar essence of Bruce Springsteen, the Americana swagger of Tom Petty, the folk swing of electric Bob Dylan, and an occasional horn section reminiscent of the Rolling Stones. Not to mention that Mark Perro’s unrequited wail possesses the same sort of impassioned and deliberate carelessness of Paul Westerberg’s. And though the album has just less than ten tracks, the diversity of songs makes up for it—Another Night has a danceable, Stones-esque groove, Going Down and Different Days sound like a garag-y, early Replacements, the piano ballad Sleepless, and my personal favorite, the ballsy, drunken mess of Pearly Gates. It has a purity of Rock and Roll that is still refreshing somehow, which is hard to come by these days. Another aspect unique to it is that sort of wears its heart on its sleeve; its fun, cathartic, proud, confident, but not too glamorous, and even a little sad in a sweet way, tapping into the very human elements of rock and roll that keeps the genre from ever truly dying. J CLIFFY
Real Estate - Atlas: I played this album for a friend as we plopped down on my couch late at night, drifting in and out of conversation with this soothing backdrop. After a minute or so of silently listening to “Primitive,” he said, “I would try to put into words how relaxed I am but that seems like too much work.” The effortlessness that characterizes Atlas is spectacularly infectious. I’m hard pressed to think of other albums that have provided such an easy first listen. Part of that is because Real Estate aren’t exploring a lot of territory here. Atlas is a guitar album that coasts with blissful arpeggios and subdued melodies. This is indie rock that’s comfortable in its own skin, but don’t dismiss it based on that notion just yet. For one, the guitar interplay is consistent strong point, at times reminiscent of Television if they had just come back from a summer getaway at the beach. Atlas bolsters this element with some loose songwriting that provides space for graceful instrumental sections. “April’s Song” is a prime example of this delightful restraint. Without uttering a word, it’s simple enough to relax our overstimulated minds into serenity. That’s the beautiful, simple pleasure of this album. In theory, it might not sound too lucrative, but it has the ability to fade away the stress of the day. Real Estate make it awfully inviting to just waste time with Atlas. On “Navigator, Martin Courtney sings, “I stare at the hands on the clock / I’m still waiting for them to stop,” but it sounds like they already have.
Liars - Mess: Few musical adventures are more thrilling than the experience of listening to a new Liars record for the first time. Over the course of the band’s 14-year career, they have assumed countless sonic identities:the twitchy dance-punk of their debut, the thundering rhythmic intensity ofDrum’s Not Dead(my personal favorite), the dreampop-by-way-of-Ketamine haze that characterizes the self-titledLiars. 2012’sWIXIWsaw the group experimenting with a wholly synthesized sound palette for the first time; although the results were largely positive, the band acknowledged their unfamiliarity with electronic composition. OnMess, the trio sounds far more comfortable in their glitchy surroundings but the mood is still vintage Liars: anxious, paranoid, and grueling. Liars have never been easy listening, but the first half of this record is a particularly draining series of hard-hitting industrial bangers spiritually descended fromWIXIW’s “Brats”. Although tracks like “Pro Anti Anti” shine in isolation, the album sequencing floods the listener with an overwhelming barrage of chaotic energy. Don’t let that keep you from checking out the highlights, though: “Mess on a Mission” is an outstanding blend of punk fury and fractured electronics, the finest encapsulation of the album’s supposed mission statement. I’m also partial to “Can’t Hear Well”, which features a hypnotizing synth patch that’s an aural massage on good headphones. Also check out “Darkslide” for an immense slice of minimal techno – these guys were playing guitars a few years ago!ZN