George Lewis Jr. seems to have soared almost haphazardly to the pristine level of indie rock boardlining with pop upon the granted strength of his debut record Forget. refusing to remember that it is 2012, Twin Shadow strongly emphasizes the new wave stance and takes the production handles himself for his moment-having follow-up, Confess. Immediately the record evokes more mainstream new wave titans like Peter Gabriel, Robert Smith and Morrissey, but more blatant is the gigantic brightness and titanic stance the record evokes. This unfortunately surrounds itself in a manufactured sheen that producer Chris Taylor made sound more organic on Forget. The subtely is mostly tossed aside and Lewis is free to delve into deep indulgences. Still, Lewis owns a unique voice in his musical tone and I applaude his efforts in any arena. His sound is sexy and seductive enough to make perfectly mediocre songs become more tolerable and good songs great thanks to his obvious passion and drive. While Confess may have eyes bigger than its stomach, I’m as curious as ever as to where Twin Shadow is headed after he finished his plate.
Following their break-out 2009 experimental folk-pop album Bitte Orca, the ever so Brooklyn collective led by Dave Longstreth, Dirty Projectors have scattered a couple of eps, soundtrack and compilation submissions and a collaboration with Björk, but Swing Lo Magellan is their next proper lap and in fact their six full-length release. While the deliberatly mismatched vocals and stuttering melodies are instantly welcomed back as a new Dirty Projectors output, the record quickly becomes hard to catch up and can easily lose grip upon the slippery concepts the group is presenting this time around and trips over itself. The record lacks the avant-garde jams “Cannibal Resource” or “Stillness Is The Move” that can ground the album in a modest amount of approachability. Otherwise, Swing Lo Magellen has some interesting moment between songs, but doesn’t connect as firmly and as revolutionarily as Bitte Orca or other occasional Dirty Projectors glimpses despite coming quite close considering there only being about two hooks in it’s entirety.
After a lackluster full-length release earlier in the year, the ever so talented Illinois violinist sneaks a four-track tour ep of Break It Yourself leftovers and live cuts for Bella Union. The first three tracks of the ep continus in the flat, uninventive tradition of their predecessor, especially given the historical greatness we’ve all seen achieved by Bird prior. However, follow the ho-hum trio comes “Tarrytown Mess,” a 6-minute build-up of a song that really has little structure, but lifts itself up in such a gracefull manner that it is arrestingly gorgeous, transcendent bliss only found previously on some of his Fingerlings live recordings. Even if you were like me, with doubts given the flop of Break It Yourself. Check it out, seriously. It’s worth your time and makes up for Mr. Bird’s tame stumbles of late.
Andrew Bird - “Tarrytown Mess” [stream] [can’t find it anymore :( ]
Of all the veteran groups still lingers among the groups that they’ve directly influenced, the last few records from Boston post-punk staple, Mission of Burma, give the argument that they should stick around a whole hell of a lot of flame. Unsound follows the pretty great 2009 record, The Sound, The Speed, The Light and while the altogether four recent records hardly stack up to the group’s early 80’s masterpieces, when taken on their own, certainly hold their own weight among other contemporary guitar-slinging troublemakers of today. The third album in the modern day incarnation of the group already outnumbers the band’s catalog in their heyday and makes no case for them to cease any time soon, The tracks have as much life as any time and contain that Mission of Burma spontaneous spark and urgent rumbling onto a delicious scrabble of deliberate and intricately structured chaos.
Mission of Burma - “Sectionals In Mourning” [stream]
The trendy L.A. party-starters may have the best name-to-theme ratio out their today. Their lackadaisical, atmospheric strut evokes exactly what you’d think coming from a production duo named Poolside from southern California. There are musical equivalents of bikinis, un-buttoned hawaiian shirts, trunks, the chicest shades possible and very, very large hats. No one is actually swimming having fun, they’re all just trying to look as cool as possible and look like they’re not attempting to achieve this at any effort whatsoever (once again, “poolside” and only poolside). If this is the mood you’re looking to strike, then it’s a pretty ok record, but it is only serviceable to exact situations and even when doing so, serves primarily at background, aesthetic filler due to the shallowness and occasional emptiness proved ironically by the inclusion of unnecessary derivative vocals…..and I live in L.A….and I love pools.
The first of the three lovely ladies of Brooklyn dream pop Au Revoir Simone to step out on her own, vocalist Erika Forster basically makes a five-track Au Revoir Simone addendum with a more heavy disco flair and because of the recent absence of ARS material, an all too welcome development. In tow with drum machine pace-setters and icy, nearly robotic trademark vocal pouts, Forster’s solo project stands just as high as anything she’s done with her main indie pop outfit, also thanks in part to Violen’s Jorge Elbrecht’s production duties. For fans of her main group, I highly recommend this mini snack of an ep especially if you’ve even desired the group to take a more weighty, even more synth-heavy glimmer.
(2009) - 7.5 - Au Revoir Simone - Still Night, Still Light
(2008) - 6.8 - Au Revoir Simone - Reverse Migration
(2007) - 7.8 - Au Revoir Simone - The Bird of Music
Deep Time - Deep Time
Hardly Art | July 2012
Austin avant-pop duo owe as much of their disjointed, jumbled austiire to Deerhoof as they do Stereolab. With monotone vocals and seemingly simplistic melodic somersaults, the band formerly known as Yellow Fever reintroduce themselves with a new name, Deep Time, and a new label, Sub Pop offshoot Hardly Art. The record is charmingly colorful yet wonderfully minimalist and winkingly childish, but also is somewhat of a tolerance test like a long car ride with a toddler prone to spontaneously change tones in a jaunted, unmeasured hodge-podge of tonal gaps and mysterious moods. Still, Deep Time is a welcomed outlier in the pop landscape and with the dwindling down of a supremely 1990’s experimental pop sound a friendly reminder of how little something can be sonically achieved from.
On the Stockholm group’s debut, self-titled album, Holograms like to indulge into a bleakly agressive new wave mentality that could also be considered no-wave due to the challenging depths the record plunges into. With unblinking, brittle vocals and primal drums, it’s that new wave bass that glues these tracks together in a post-punk stare-down akin to their fellow Scandinavian hooligans Iceage. While the tracks my purposefully sloppy, you can eagily desire some polish here and there, especially when the group tries to inject some chunky synth lines into a baren instrumental repitoire that their desired genre is based in. Still, the record can surely expound on some rebellious fun, but the imbalance of this joy with the Joy Division worshiping sternness and jumpstarted desire for darkness leaves the self-titled debut a mixed first effort.