The past week’s best new releases include singles and albums from Shearwater, Oy Vey, Unicycle Loves You, Band of Skulls, Young Magic, Phenomenal Handclap Band, and others.
Shearwater‘s indie psych rock mixed with folk art and powerful lyrics on the newest album, Animal Joy, is stunning, exciting, enjoyable and yet another big, bold step forward for the admired Austin band. Animal Joy is blended with dense orchestrations and progressive, expansive soundscapes that “comes close to the classic album Shearwater surely has in it.” (The A.V. Club Feb. 14, 2012). The praise is overwhelmingly positive for Animal Joy.
The track below, “You As” You Were,” is provided by Subpop Records (label kings in the ‘indie’ and alt. rock circles). The lead single is a modernized folk art rocker mixed with elements of electronica; hypothetically, if the vocals were removed (which would be insane), and a few minor tweaks made, it could easily be a dance track. The second track offer by Subpop, “Breaking The Yearlings,” is more evidence of the brilliance of Animal Joy, a must-have for almost any music lover’s collection. Finally, listen to the Shearwater bonus track, “Whipping Boy” from the just reissued Winged Life, provided by Misa Records, the band’s first label, prior to their signing with Matador Records.
Remastered Bonus Track: “Whipping Boy” – Shearwater from Winged Life (reissue)
Watch the just released (Feb. 15th) official video* of Shearwater’s “Breaking The Yearlings” – fantastic!
New Riffs from Band of Skulls; Introducing Taiwan’s Half-Mile Radius
Chances are that if you’re an alternative rock lover, you’ve heard at least one song from Band of Skulls, a talented alternative rock band that rocketed out of relative obscurity to quickly become a fairly well-known band with a strong fan following and successful tours. Of course, Band of Skulls’ best known song, “In The Morning,” received so much play in 2010 that even people who don’t know who it’s from have heard it. The track is a classic and will be one of the most memorable rock songs of this decade.
Now the band has released their new album, Sweet Sour, which is a delight for fans of good ‘ole American rock and roll, smartly s. Band of Skulls are taking that track, and the songs from the new album, on the road; check out Band of Skulls 2012 tour dates.
Another band that can belt out some sharp, splintering rock is Taiwan‘s very own DIY rockers, Half Mile Radius. If you didn’t know it, you naturally wouldn’t think that the band is from Taiwan, but more likely from any small or big city in the U.S. Rather, Half Mile Radius are practically unknown in the States. In 2009 through last year, they grew from playing gigs in Taipei to embarking on a successful tour of Asia last summer that included dates in Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo. Following the tour, the band went into the studio to record Ethyl, from which the following tracks are taken.
In 2011, they were the Band of the Week on jango.com, which describe their music as “cultivated a unique sound characterized by shifting time signatures, complex arrangements, and heavy grooves.” They include among their top musical influences are The White Stripes, Mars Volta, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin John Frusciante and The Doors, among others.
The new album from Tennis is certainly not what we expected and seems to lack a certain determination that was evident on their self-titled debut LP. The disconnect with their different approach and style on Young and Old is reflected on the lead track, “Origins.” It’s a catchy song, and has a few notable moments, but it’s likely not going to be a track you remember a month from now.
Singles from New Releases by Young Magic, Oy Vey, Unicycle Loves You
Has anyone else noticed the explosion of popular artists with the words “young” or “youth” in their band names in recent years? There’s Young The Giant, Young Buffalo, Young Man, Eli Young Band, Youth Lagoon, Youth Group, Young Knives, Fresh Young Fellows, The Young Veins, and, of course, Young Magic.
The band has risen in popularity in the past couple years thanks to their creative mix of various styles from indie rock to folktronica, psych pop to traditional tribal influences. On the lead single, “Night in the Ocean,” the band employs layers of blissful psych pop synths, dub and reverb-heavy vocals, swirling sound effects, muted beats, intervals of bass thumping, and dreamy, weaves of hazed out choruses. The bonus track, “You Are Air,” leans more towards upbeat, tripped out dub step mixed with tribal electro-pop. Although we’ve listened to Melt twice through in the cafe, with bands like Young Magic, it will take many subsequent spins to fully appreciate one of the best albums released this week.
Interesting fact: In this mix alone, there is a song, album and band title/name containing the word “young” – ahh, yes, the quest for eternal youth is a never-ending human quest. Plus, the song “We Are Young” by the band fun (featuring Janelle Monae on vocals), has received a lot of buzz lately due to a Chevy Sonic commercial that was also run during the Superbowl.
*Tracks via indiehipster.com (nice blog)
Note: Young Magic’s most recent tour, that ended on Jan. 21st, featured a number of appearances where the opening band were IRC favorites, Youth Lagoon.
Unicycle Loves You changes it up from Young Magic’s electro psych pop to the more indie pop style that ULY have built their brand around, and which is a big part of the reason for the band’s relative success, and higher visibility, during the past couple of years few years since the 2008 release of their highly regarded, self-titled debut album.
With the release of that album, and their successful 2012 sophomore release, Mirror, Mirror, Unicycle Loves You have enjoyed a steady upward trend of coverage on blogs and music sites, as well as more fans following them and coming to see the band on tour.
This past week the band have released their follow up album Failure. But it only takes a few spins of the album to come to the realization that it definitely is not a failure.
In addition to the interesting name – “Wow Wave Cinema” – is definitely a good choice for a lead track to represent the album’s overall pure pop theme, complete with hummable melodies, uptempo instrumentation, and memorable hooks. You can just tell that their having a good time. The second track, “Sun Comes Out (And I Don’t Care),” follows a theme of of a discography full of unusually titled songs and quirky lyrics.
Islands Return with New Album of Dreamy Tunes; Plus, Dance with Oy Vey, Rock with Tennis and Chill with Heartless Bastards
This next single is the dance-pop oriented track, “When I Was Young” from rising indie band Oy Vey. We have been keeping tabs on Oy Vey since we first heard their 2008 debut, followed by 2010’s fantastic Mirror, Mirror. With the success of those two albums, their fan base grew and the band has completed a number of tours. Based on what we heard of Recession Girls so far, the band has earned their place within the indie pop domain. Following right behind are excellent new tracks off new albums by Tennis, Field Music, and Heartless Bastards.
“Origins” – Tennis from
As a teenager, Father James Park was the local park where my friends and I were able to go and not be bothered by our parents or other authority figures. We used to meet there as often as possible to hang out and clear our minds, and since there were no adults around, it also became the place we’d go to expand our minds. “The Unknown Faces at Father James Park” is about the inherent peer pressure, confusion, and tumultuous times that teenagers have.
For the video, we thought the best way to reflect this subject matter would be to edit together found footage along the lines of the various PSA’s we were subjected to in high school. They were so humorless and terrifying at the time, but looking back, it was a lot of unnecessary warning against what turned out to be healthy experimentation.
Phenomenal Handclap Band has finally released the follow-up to their acclaimed, self-titled debut album. With their new release, Form & Control, PHB took on an ambitious, and daring, new challenge – to cleverly fuse genres like psych, R&B, soul, and cosmic disco. With co-founders Daniel Collás and Sean Marquand at the production helm, Form & Control finds the band once again deftly mixing and matching seemingly disparate musical genres, with a musical palette that now includes prog-pop, new wave and modern leftfield dance.”
“Lions” – The Just Barelys from Mad Bits
“My Before and After” – Cotton Mather from Kon
The songs in this section are not our top picks, but still worthy of presenting. Actually, we’re going to leave it up to you guys to decide if the following songs are so-so, good, or great and we just failed to hear the greatness. Please leave a comment – that could be read by thousands of people – regarding what you think of a particular song.
– sidore from Life Somewhere Else
“Blackhole Waltz” – Ticktockman from Ticktockman (self-released)