When most people hear the word "folk," it's doubtful that they think of the kind of music made by the Milk Carton Kids. The common paradigm resides closer to Bob Dylan, and as with punk, prettiness is less important than ideology. It's more a means of expression than a vehicle for showcasing musical chops.
The Milk Carton Kids come from a different tradition, where folk music can protest in a whisper, make you laugh as quickly as call you to arms and find quiet little corners of beauty to set up shop and invite you over. The group has been compared to the Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel, but throughout their second album, 'The Ash & Clay,' Iron & Wine -- particularly on the song 'Each Coming Night' -- also springs to mind.
If you're unaware of the fact that Palma Violets had what British music mag the NME considers the No. 1 single of 2012, you're not alone. Over the years, due to subtle cultural differences, a host of U.K. bands ranging from the Jam and Blur to the Klaxons and Libertines never really made the impact in the States that they did in their homeland. A group like Palma Violets is liable to slip under the radars of even professional music critics.
The difference between drawing inspiration from and flat-out mimicking other artists has been a topic of discussion for music fans and critics for centuries. Brahms notably referenced other composers, including Beethoven, and was called a plagiarizer by some, and in rock music, originality seems to be more of an issue than ever. Trouble is, there's no clear line regarding how much it's acceptable to borrow from influences, or how much innovation is required for a new act to be credited with creating a new sound.
The concept behind Wire’s 13th album certainly is intriguing. Before the post-punk heroes broke up for the first time -- following the release of their third album, 1979’s ‘154’ – they tested new material onstage during a British tour in support of the record. Some of the songs were fully formed, all set for recording once the band returned to the studio to make their fourth LP; many were just skeletal frames for songs, sketches that had no more than a scratchy guitar riff in place.
If 2011’s ‘Angles’ was the Strokes’ return to New York City scuzz-rock by way of ‘80s New Wave, ‘90s indie rock and a few other reference-point alternatives thrown in for good measure, their fifth album, ‘Comedown Machine,’ is a hollow, synth-driven mess that aims to reinvent their image. Or at least their reputation.
More than 30 years into their career, Depeche Mode still sound like Depeche Mode. Even through all the creative stumbles, personal setbacks and bigger, grander visions that have taken them to bigger, grander places, Depeche Mode never fail to sound like anyone but themselves. That goes a long way in explaining why the group has continued to make records and stay relatively relevant while most of its synth-pop contemporaries ingloriously faded away, just as they were expected to.
There’s no better way to end the weekend than by getting down with the Hives, and that’s exactly what New Yorkers did last night (March 24) at Irving Plaza, where the Swedish garage-rock heroes played a sold-out show with support from the Livids.
Colleen Green's debut LP for Hardly Art inevitably invites comparisons to Vivian Girls, Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls, as if all lo-fi, California-indebted, female-fronted groups are the same. Sure, 'Sock it to Me' bears the same punk influences that shine through in all those bands, but Green uses the language of New Wave, post-punk and even twee to inform her compositions -- which also reveal an excellent ear for hooks.
Josh Rouse has genre-hopped throughout his career, leaping from alt-country (‘Dressed Up Like Nebraska’) to retro soul (‘1972’), acoustic rock (‘Nashville’) and flamenco (‘El Turista’). He seems not to be worried whether fans will lose interest with every sharp turn, and on each new record, he throws in a little bit of his most recent adventure.
On her third album, Marnie Stern hasn’t quite traded in her finger-tapping guitar chops for pop chords, but ‘The Chronicles of Marnia’ is certainly her catchiest to date. Longtime drummer Zach Hill may have left to focus on Death Grips full time, but his replacement, Kid Millions, is a fitting successor who keeps up without hogging Stern’s spotlight. Much of the album is frantic enough to satisfy older diehard fans, and the more melodic nature of the songs gives listeners a playful third album from the musician.
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