Best Singles & Albums of October, Vol. II – The Avett Brothers, CAVE, School of Night, Polica, Best Coast, Active Child, Cults
Seems kind of strange to be publishing a playlist review of the top singles and albums of the second half of October releases now. That’s completely understandable, but we’ve been so busy with preparing the Best of 2013 coverage (to be published throughout the month of January) as well as sifting through hundreds of DIY submissions, listening to many hundreds of singles and albums, and selecting the most talented and promising artists and bands to profile, many of who break-through partly, and sometimes mainly, due to their exposure on IRC.
The first two weeks of October offered a selection of new and impressive singles and albums from Yuck, Teen Daze, Polvo, Fuzz (with Ty Segall), Dr. Dog, DARKSIDE, The Fratellis and HAIM, among others. But the third week of October is one of the most significant, if not the most significant, week of the fall for new releases from a knock-out line-up of established, well-known artists and bands, as well as under-the-radar, new and buzzworthy signed (and a few unsigned) bands and artists.
The third week of October, covering October 15th to October 21st, was a blockbuster week for releases, featuring terrific albums, along with nearly two dozens singles from those releases, from The Avett Brothers, Crystal Antlers, Cults, The Dismemberment Plan, Cave, The Chills, D33J, Heavenly Beat, Luke Temple, Cass McCombs, School of Night, Jonathan Wilson, Dean Wareham, Lucius, Gary Numan, and Pearl Jam.
As is evident by the playlist below, the sheer quantity and quality of the singles from new albums by well-known and accomplished artists and bands, as well from talented, under-the-radar bands, including newly emerging talented artists, is mind-blowing for just one week’s (Oct. 15th to 21st) drop. And that’s not even counting the fourth week of October releases.
Note: Because a new week of album releases starts on Oct. 29th (including releases from Arcade Fire), and runs through November 3rd, we are including that week’s releases in the November coverage.
Top New Singles from Albums by The Avett Brothers and Cults
Firstly, The Avett Brothers don’t seem capable of disappointing fans as their new single (“Another Is Waiting”), and the album (Magpie and the Dandelion) which it’s from, are simply amazing. Next, Cults returns with more of their splendid indie sounds from their sophomore album, Static.
Fusion Rock from CAVE, Plus Raw and Gritty from Crystal Antlers, The Chills and More
CAVE‘s new album, Threace, offers up the somewhat funky, somewhat fusion jazz, somewhat R&B, psychedelic jam rock instrumental, “Shikaakwa” accompanied by a music video that takes its cues from late 60s acid parties where abstract images, colors and effects were blended together and splashed on big screens, even walls, apparently to reflect, and enhance, the music and the overall social tripping experience. This technique was popularized in large part by Andy Warhol and the parties that he and his inner circle of bohemian/hippie/freak cohorts, and even celebrity guests, held regularly in Warhol’s grand apartment in New York‘s Upper West Side from 1968 to 1972.
Another top single for the third week of October was “Rattlesnake,” by Crystal Antlers. The track, as you’d expect from the title, is gritty, raw garage rock with blazing, fuzzy guitar licks and aggressive bass playing and drumming. Rock is just so good when it’s allowed to be free, gut-level and not all dressed up and tweaked by engineers until it ends up not sounding like rock and roll, but overly polished crap-o-la.
“Rattlesnake” – Crystal Antlers from Nothing Is Real on Innovative Leisure
“Night Of Chill Blue” – The Chills from Somewhere Beautiful on Fire Records
E3 Releases: New Electro, Experimental and Eclectic Spins from D33J, Kwes, and Heavenly Beats
If you’re a fan of the Big E3 – electro, experimental and eclectic sounds – this section is for you. Considering the large number of releases during the third week of October, it was important to compartmentalize the top picks to formulate order out of what would otherwise be chaos. Tracks include those from D33J and kwes. Also, while we have heard of Heavenly Beat before, the band’s new album really caught our attention, and the single from it, “Complete,” is an grooving, blissful electro-pop dance gem, with shimmering, wavy synths, faded, dreamy vocals, and funky bass lines.
“Slow” – D33J featuring Kreyola from Gravel EP on Anticon
“36″ – kwes from ilp on Warp Records
“Complete” – Heavenly Beat from Prominence on Captured Tracks
Singles from Luke Temple and the State of Music Playlists
Slick melodies, terrific beats and sweet harmonies, together with excellent bass, guitar and lead vocals, make up the new track, “Florida,” from the band Luke Temple. The track is one of the geographically-focused songs that we’ve added to our State of Music in-house master playlists, which we plan to publish more posts from in 2014. The purpose of the series is to put together playlists of great songs that just so happen to be about a place, city or a state, and a relevant matching song title to go with it, from a wide range of artists, bands, genres and time periods – meaning it is not restricted to new music or necessarily to indie rock.
If you’re interested, you’ll definitely want to check out previous installments of State of Music series and which most, if not all, of the songs are still accessible to stream and download. The whole idea kind of is related to Sufjan Stevens’ abandoned “states project.” Now we can add Luke Temple’s “Florida” to the mix.
“Florida” – Luke Temple from Good Mood Fool on Secretly Canadian
Fine Mellow Tracks from Cass McCombs, School of Night, Dean Wareham, and Jonathan Wilson
Cass McCombs has put out consistently good albums for years, and his latest LP, Big Wheel And Others, is another success and fine example for a talented songwriter, vocalist and musician, as the cool, mellow single, “There Can Be Only One,” with its sweet melodic bass line and gentle hand drums in the forefront. McCombs vocals are superb and the subtle electric guitar riffs add yet another dimension to a fantastic song, of the best of the week, and that’s saying a great deal, all things considered. See what others think in the comments section on SoundCloud.
In keeping with the mellow theme for a minute, the band School of Night deliver the synth-heavy, semi-crooning single, “Lying,” that has a bit of an 80s mash of new wave and pop to it. The next mellow single, “Love Is Colder Than Death” is a slow, brooding, and slightly twisted love song, with beautiful and wonderfully melodic, even melancholic, instrumentation and vocals from the new-to-us artist Dean Wareham. It’s ironic, considering the subject matter, that the song has a warm, cozy feel from the first note to the closing verse. And closing out the “mellow” set of new singles for the third week is the sweet song, “Dear Friend” by Jonathan Wilson, and his band, and the accompanying music video that has received over 35,000 views on YouTube alone.
“There Can Be Only One” – Cass McCombs from Big Wheel And Others on Domino Record Co.
“Lying” – School of Night from School of Night EP on Minus Green Records
“Love Is Colder Than Death” – Dean Wareham from Emancipated Hearts on Double Feature
The Sounds of Tim Hecker and Lucius
If you’re a fan of experimental ambient sounds, chances are you might enjoy listening to Tom Hecker’s Virgins. The composition moves through a myriad of phases with minimalistic and repetitious aspects of what sounds like dulcimers, and dreamy, drifting synth notes that pick up in tempo and number of keys as the composition progresses.
The new song from Lucius, “Turn It Around,” is an upbeat pop track with a finely produced groove and excellent female vocalists, leaning more towards a commercial song in sound, but we can see how some people might dig it a lot, and be curious to check out the album, Wildewoman.
“Virginal ll” – Tim Hecker from Virgins on Kranky
“Turn It Around” – Lucius from Wildewoman on Mom + Pop
Paul McCartney’s New Track, “Queenie,” Plus Gary Numan
Probably all the great and wonderful things there are to say about an artist have been used up in describing Paul McCartney over the past half of a century. And yet, now in his 70′s, McCartney is still writing and recording some fine music as his latest album, New, shows. It’s probably about the 40th album or so that he’s released in his long career from The Beatles, to his solo work, to The Wings, and back to his solo work and various monikers in recent years. A rock and roll icon for at least 35 years, Gary Numan returns with a new album, featuring the dark, semi-goth/new wave style single, “I Am Dust.”
Has Pearl Jam Sold Out or Simply Embraced Capitalism?
During the World Series, in which long-time Boston Red Sox fans, like ourselves got to see (in our, and many other genereations’, lifetime), the team finally win a world championship at the sacred Fenway Park, Fox Sports was promoting the new Pearl Jam album in between breaks. That was a bummer to us – Eddie Vedder had really sold out, which does dent the band’s grunge/atlernative rock legitimacy, but especially since Vedder, who seemed over the years to be a guy opposed to “the machine,” actually become part of it. Eventually, young, idealistic passionate artists, not all, but many, when presented the opportunity, become older guys who feel otherwise entitled to cash in as big as they can.
That said, their new single, “Mind Your Manners,” is good stuff, but it does not have the same feel to it that the early Pearl Jam work had – in the years before they went head first into the commercial, big-time money. Hey, it’s America. Yeah fine, but as a “rock icon,” you still lose credibility every time you cash in, and especially team up with Fox Sports, which if we recall, Vedder criticized during the 2000′s as a propaganda machine for the Bush administration’s greatest evils.
So, Sr. Vedder, just sing, because you can’t preach (and cash in) anymore with any credibility about how you’re some salt of the earth guy railing against the machine, because you’re not that guy (and Pearl Jam is not that band); teaming up with the Fox Network after rightfully criticizing them for years is simply the height of hypocrisy, and a slap in the face to your most loyal fans.
Aside from that obvious, and distasteful, fact, we’ll still listen to, and feature (if the music stands up), Pearl Jam, but there will always be this issue tarnishing our respect for Vedder and the band. We are careful not to accuse bands of ‘selling out,’ because they need to make a living, but in this case, Vedder, and the band (if they willing went along), really did sell out. Teaming up with the network they used to rail against is not needing to put the food on the table – it’s simply the worst kind of hypocrisy and greed. We know people will strongly disagree with that viewpoint, but it’s quite simply a fact.
“Mind Your Manners” – Pearl Jam from Lightning Bolt on Monkeywrench
Other singles from new albums worth noting include the shoe-gaze/psychedelic girl rock of Mirror Travel; the beats of pop mistress Morcheeba; the hard/metal rock of the band Red Fang; self released song from DIY band Breathe Owl Breathe that sounds like The National mixed with chilled out Lou Reed.
“I Want You To Know” – Mirror Travel from Mexico on Modern Outsider Records
“Gimme Your Love” – Morcheeba from Head Up High on [PIAS] America
“Blood Like Cream” – Red Fang from Whales and Leeches on Relapse Records
“Silent Movie Reel” – Breathe Owl Breathe from Passage of Pegasus (self-released)
Top Singles from New Albums by Best Coast, Active Child, Polica, Modern Kin, Gringo Star, Black Hearted Brother
In order to focus our energy on putting together profiles and songs of more talented, promising DIY artists and bands, we’re not really going to write much about the last week of October’s releases (Oct. 22nd to Oct. 28th). The final week of new releases for October was thin compared to the previous week (above), but there were still some major drops from artists like Best Coast, Active Child, Polica, Modern Kin, Gringo Star, Black Hearted Brother, Federico Aubele, Radical Face, and others.
For those of you who have asked, we’re also catching up with the Top 10 Songs playlists for final months of 2013 as well. You could spend days streaming the Top 10 Songs playlists and discover the best indie and DIY music of 2013 on one page, with the October and November Top 10 Songs playlists coming up shortly.
As this post and playlist clearly demonstrates, there was an absolute flood of quality album releases in the second half of October that took a considerable amount of time to review, organize and write about. In fact, this post and playlist by itself includes just as much, or more, coverage of new releases than some other popular indie blogs publish during an entire month; those of you who browse indie and alternative rock music blogs regularly probably know exactly what we’re referring to.
IRC is one of the few popular indie and alt rock websites and blogs that provides free MP3s that you can stream or download (and which we know leads to more support for the artists and bands) at any time, even months, sometimes years, after we publish a post with music in it. In order to do this, we have to support a huge server load and usage, but we are committed to chronologically documenting the best of both the popular and obscure indie music of the times, and providing a permanent record of over 10,000 songs available at anytime to anyone in the world. As far as we know, from our own research, there is no other indie music resource on the web today (that is not a file-sharing or torrent site) that offers as many active and free MP3 songs dating back to 2007 as IRC does.
“This Lonely Morning” – Best Coast from Fade Away EP on Jewel City
“Subtle” – Active Child featuring Mikky Ekko from Rapor EP on Vagrant Records
“Abandon” – Modern Kin from Modern Kin on Amigo/Amiga Recordings
“(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder” – Black Hearted Brother from Stars Are Our Home on Slumberland Records
“Broken Toy” – Veronica Falls from Broken Toy 7″ on Slumberland
“Holy Branches” – Radical Face from The Family Tree: The Branches on Nettwerk
“Stay, Don’t Say” – Dead Gaze from Brain Holiday on FatCat / Palmist
“Chain My Name” – Poliça from Shulamith EP on Mom + Pop
“Laberinto del Ayer” – Federico Aubele from 5 on Records-Ingrooves/Fontana
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