Moon Duo – Circles
Echoes of Suicide, Silver Apples and Spacemen 3 emulate from Moon Duo’s big bad amplifiers, but the San Francisco band develops that into their own brand of psychedelia on Circles, their latest and finest release. The band, which consists of SF psych-rockers Wooden Shjips’ Erik “Ripley” Johnson on guitar as well as Sanae Yamada on keyboards, sounded great on previous releases when they let things fly into extended jam territory (as do Wooden Shjips), but they sound just as engaging in more bite-sized pieces, as on the darkly melodic “I Can See” and jangly title track, which lets just enough light in to help illuminate the rest of the album as a result. They still do motorized rock with Kraut beats like no other, as on songs like “I Been Gone,” but songs like the actually kind of dancey “Dance pt. 3” prove to be the perfect augment to their sound. Badass and no-nonsense, for sure, Circles captures Moon Duo at their best but allows them loosen up stylistically and have a little more fun at the same time.
Taken By Trees – Other Worlds
After leaving Swedish indie pop group The Concretes, Victoria Bergsman has straddled the line between conventional pop wisdom (her duet with Peter Bjorn & John, “Young Folks,” and covers of Animal Collective and Guns ‘N’ Roses) and more worldly aspirations. Other Worlds continues that tradition for Bergsman. Inspired by her travels to Hawaii, Other Worlds similarly concerns itself with one place, or one feel, rather than taking a pan-global approach (similarly to her last album, the Pakistan-influenced East of Eden), though Other Worlds doesn’t sound terribly Hawaiian as it does have a swaying, oceanic feel, like a dive captured in slow motion. “Dreams” beautifully floats into the ether on the strength of Bergsman’s nocturnal voice and chorus-heavy guitars. “In Other Words’” most notable feature is actually its country-inspired steel guitar, but the song’s slow jaunt and vaguely singsongy quality makes it feel like a codeine-fueled cover of a sea shanty. Thankfully Bergsman doesn’t allow her muse to overly rule or define her songs, and Other Worlds is quite distinct and varied, despite its understated island vibe. You forgive some of the seemingly cheesy elements of its theme, like the cutesy vibraphone and steel drums on “Pacific Blue,” because Bergsman weaves them into something unique and seamlessly ties them together with unrelated sounds. The album’s opening songs, for instance, build airy ballads over airy bedroom electronics and found sounds, which come back to the fore with the clanging “Not Like Any Other” and dubby beatwork of “Large,” both of which sound a bit like a chilled out Grimes. Like most of Bergsman’s work, Other Worlds is a feat of subtlety, but is nonetheless memorable, tuneful and easy to submerge yourself in.
How did you spend your summer? L.A.’s Neverever ask us on this upside-down poolside video for their song “100 and 1 Dreams,” directed by Eric Fisher. Shot at the gloriously lo-fi, mostly kid-free Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, where you can lounge amongst other PBR-fed whatever bodies and drink yourself silly at the pool (and where Neverever played at one of their shows this summer), it does capture smeared memories of summer. The song features cleaner production for their ’50s-pop inspired sound, so elegantly stated on this year’s Shake-a-Baby EP. “100 and 1 Dreams” is from a forthcoming LP, likely on Slumberland as that’s who released Shake-a-Baby, and though I can’t find out any other info on it at the moment, safe to say it’ll be something to look for, given the quality of their previous output and this song.
Rhye – “The Fall”
L.A.’s Rhye features a seductive female vocalist singing “Make love to me, one more time before you go, away,” lingering over every word like she knows it’s pointless to ask, over a syncopated soul backbeat with deft production flourishes that makes the whole thing move breezily instead of wallowing. This is the kind of thing that sounds effortless but isn’t easy to pull off — cushy indie soul that vibes Marvin Gaye and Stereolab equally. The Fall EP is out Oct. 9 on Innovative Leisure.
|Animal Collective's crazy, toothy stage show
|Beach House's Victoria Legrand rounded out the set by headbanging her glorious curls
To read my rundown of Amoeba’s Rock the Vote event with Murs & Fashawn and Band of Horses, click here.
As part of Amoeba's Rock the Vote effort, Murs & Fashawn and Band of Horses turned out excellent live shows at Amoeba Hollywood and across the street at Space 15 Twenty. Murs & Fashawn's energetic live show, which was streamed live for a webcast on Amoeba.com, drew a huge crowd, thanks to Living Legends member Murs’ loyal fanbase, Fashawn’s rising notoriety and their recently released collaborative album, the fine This Generation. The duo performed songs from the album, such as the uplifting “Heartbreaks & Handcuffs,” trading rhymes and pointing to one another and generally having a great time riling up an enthusiastic crowd. Murs picked up a baby at one point like a politician, remarking that there were a lot of babies in the audience, which there were, along with teenagers who shouted suggestions to Murs and clamored over one another to pick up free T-shirts they threw into the audience (one jumped on my head!). “If you’re smart, you’ll be registered to vote and to get married by the time you leave here,” Murs said at one point. “If a girl’s at our show, she’s probably pretty cool.” Later, Murs more pointedly said: “It doesn’t hurt to believe in something a little bit. Don’t be so apathetic.”
“As I got older and evolved as a person, I realized there’s a point [to voting],” Fashawn chimed in. “Today, I’m gonna register to vote.”
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber
My favorite new band out right now is Melody’s Echo Chamber, whose enchanting self-titled debut is a study in ebullient dream-pop perfection. The story goes that Melody Prochet hooked up with Aussie psych-rock greats Tame Impala, calling on the band’s Kevin Parer to beef up her beauteous, French-pop-inspired arrangements with the kind of soaring sonics employed by that band. What comes out is indeed a perfect marriage. It’s one of those records where the cover perfectly captures the mood: mysterious, colorful and ethereal, you get lost in the folds of this record and don’t want to come out. Fans of Broadcast and Blonde Redhead, take note. The only downside is that aside from a few strong standouts, like the garage rocky opener “I Follow You” and lush (and Lush-esque) “Endless Shore,” the record blurs together. No matter — for fans of this kind of thing, you won’t know where the time has gone. As with like-minded peers A Sunny Day in Glasgow, the emphasis is more on album as experience, following dissociative dream logic in which melodies and arrangements are allowed to meander and linger and flow into one another in a singular happening. In a word, divine.
Chris Cohen – Overgrown Path
Chris Cohen is one of the great underappreciated guitar players of our generation — listen back to Deerhoof records from when he was in the band for proof of his and John Dieterich’s insane riffery and interplay. Since leaving that band, he’s spent time with projects such as Cryptacize, but now on his first solo album and John Cale Paris 1919 moment, we get to see what a strong singer, songwriter and arranger he is, as well. “Monad” opens the album with the sort of skewed guitarwork that will make early Deerhoof fans squeal, but that quickly fades into a brisk, smart soft-pop track punctuated by splashy drums, not unlike one of Yo La Tengo’s more ornate songs. Cohen packs his intricate guitarwork into skilled compositions, such as the Latin-psych vibing “Caller No.99,” in a way that was never as apparent in his flashier Deerhoof contributions. Though his voice is unremarkable, its nice-guy pleasantness carries listeners swiftly through mellow but tricky compositions, avoiding the sort of fussiness that could have resulted with punchier performances. By the time you arrive at the sweet “bum bum bum bums” of the irresistible “Optimist High,” you’re floating on a cloud of contentment and ready to follow Cohen just about anywhere. Overgrown Path is really the perfect fall album, cozy and warm and subtly, almost magically, life-affirming.