The old adage that you need to see a band live to "get" them is as true about No Joy as it is about countless others, but it's worth noting how unexpected their performances are when viewed through a traditional shoegaze lens.
The genre is known to create mind-bending experiences of sensory-overload, but its name stems from the tendency of associated acts to fixate on their effects pedals rather than impose their personalities on the crowd. Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush and Catherine Wheel would essentially let the music be the focus, and if you've experienced the "Holocaust section" of MBV's 'You Make Me Realize,' you've been to the limits of what music being the focus can entail.
There's a picture of the So So Glos' in their very early days that tells you everything you need to know. The three children shown in the image are brothers: Alex Levine, Ryan Levine and Zach Staggers (technically a step-brother). Their lives, you might say, have been following a clear trajectory to this moment in 2013, as the NYC-based band releases the album that will likely be their breakthrough. The video for the lead single, 'Son of an American,' pushes this narrative, using home videos of pillow fights, little league and early band mimicking to cast these guys as the coolest little kids you've ever met. More than 20 years later, they're all grown up and playing band for real.
Singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson’s new album, ‘Wheel,’ sees this Long Island songstress shepherding her musical ambitions to new places. Along with her band, the Cans, Stevenson has managed to craft a well-produced set, with a much stronger vocal presence than heard on her first two full-lengths, ‘A Record’ and ‘Sit Resist.’
On Junip’s 2010 debut album ‘Fields,’ the Swedish trio applied the delicate indie-folk touches of frontman José González’s solo albums to layers of world-music percussion, old-school electronics and soulful wisps of semi-jazzy rhythms. In other words, it sounded like the singer-songwriter was having way more fun playing in a band, which had formed in the late ‘90s, than on his often-somber solo records.
In February, the worst thing happened to Young Galaxy in relation to their then-unheard fourth LP, 'Ultramarine:' Peaking Lights released a remix of lead track 'Pretty Boy.'
Unless you're an avid Young Galaxy fan, it's likely you missed the debut of the straight-up album version, which the Québécois five-piece had made available a month earlier. The remix was more visible, thanks to a "Best New Track" branding from Pitchfork, and it unfortunately provided an unfair impression of the record that was to come.
John Dwyer and the merry troupe of bash-rock minstrels that make up the San Francisco garage psych outfit Thee Oh Sees have managed to put out an album every year for the past five years. Two in 2011. And that’s not counting live albums and singles collections. The group’s output ranges from scorched earth rock freakouts to pastoral echo-chamber folk. On last year’s ‘Putrifiers II,’ they even tried string accompaniment. They’re a group that’s not afraid to try new things, and their albums benefit from an overabundance of ideas grounded in a kind of well-oiled-machine rock ’n’ roll sensibility.
For us Fall Out Boy freaks, the past decade has been a disorienting whirlwind. What once began as a pop-smart, heart-on-sleeve emo outfit has gradually swelled -- album by album -- into an overblown arena-pop caricature. But even if diehard fans have found this transition perplexing, FOB have worked wonders with their ironic musical absurdity.
London-based Daughter released their debut, ‘If You Leave,’ in mid-March on 4AD, but the album is just now landing in the U.S. and Canada via Glassnote Records. What began as the solo project of lead singer and guitarist Elena Tonra is now fully realized with the help of guitarist Igor Haefeli, who also produced this record, and drummer Remi Aguilella.
Born Ruffians spent three years making 'Birthmark,' and well, it sounds like it. Part of the reason behind this delay may have been a reaction to the scathing review Pitchfork gave their last effort, 'Say It. The album was called "rushed" and "amateurish," and as is the hope with critical reviews -- or at least what the hope should be -- the Canadian four-piece may have taken the notes to heart and taken their time to ensure that 'Birthmark' had its kinks worked out.
It’s easy to hear why the British press and music fans fell head over heels in love with Jessie Ware when the 28-year-old singer’s debut album was released in the U.K. last year. ‘Devotion’ is the real deal, a modern electronic soul album as unassuming as it is a sterling showcase for Ware’s rich, warm voice. It’s also an expert example of restrained, elegant pop production that glides alongside Ware every step of the way.
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