Remember the whole Pixies/Breeders/Belly/Throwing Muses web of bands many years back? Or, more recently, the Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown/Frog Eyes/Handsome Furs/Divine Fits band sprawl? And let's not even get into Broken Social Scene. Well, none of these band associations holds a candle to Vivian Girls and the myriad bands, collaborations, side projects and what-have-yous that spring from the New York noise pop band. In light of recent release from onetime-Vivian Frankie Rose and the upcoming release by Vivian girl Ali Koehler in Upset, I've attempted to make a Vivian Girls tree for y'all. I'm sure I missed like 20 bands, let me know if I have!
While interviewing the band Dream Boys recently, I noted that their jangly new album seemed perfectly timed for fall. That got me thinking of other recent music that is well-suited for cardigan weather, the kind of records you want to snuggle up to when it starts to get cold out. So lots of EDM—j/k! Here are some records to get cozy up with on this first of October.
Dream Boys – Dream Boys
Just as genres like Paisley Underground, C86 and college rock gave ’60s sunshine pop an ’80s makeover, Dream Boys take a modern, emotionally gray yet laid-back approach to producing a detailed guitar-oriented sound. Enjoy poring over the jangly riffs of Dream Boys and read my interview with the band here.
Blouse pulled a bold move for its second album, especially considering the band is still up-and-coming, by radically changing its sound, forgoing the synth-heavy sound of its debut for a pretty straightforward rock sound incorporating new wave and alt-rock elements. It pays off, as Imperium is one of the season’s best rock albums, pairing dreamy vocals and lyrics with an emotionally direct sound.
Amid the countless recent reunions of '90s bands, the timing seems perfect for the return of Sebadoh. While he's been toiling beneath the din of J Mascis' guitar heroics in the reunited Dinosaur Jr. for years, Lou Barlow's second-fiddle position in that band hasn't given enough of an outlet for Barlow's own songwriting. Thus Barlow sounds hungry on Defend Yourself, the first Sebadoh album since 1999. "Can you tell that I'm about to lose control?" he asks on the outset of the album on "I Will," over a serviceable melodic jangle. That statement proves true, as things get more interesting as Defend Yourself progresses. The stuttering "Beat" provides ample room for Barlow to shred both his guitars and vocals. It sounds as though Barlow's world is coming apart in the rumbling "Defend Yr Self"—an understandable position, given the end of his marriage, which provides bitter fuel for Barlow's fire on this album. Songs like "Oxygen," an upbeat indie pop-rocker, and "Once," a tentative instrumental, provide respite (though "Oxygen's" typically caustic lyrics remind us that even the shiniest apples from Barlow are laced with arsenic). But Barlow's at his manic best in songs like "Inquiries," which heaves into a nauseating (in a thrilling way) final portion, or "Final Days," which pairs headlong, full-band rush with world-doubting lyrics ("it's all made up and a waste of time" Barlow sings under his breath). With a mouthful of bile, Barlow spits out the songs of Defend Yourself. The resulting record feels as crucial and relevant as anything he's been a part of.
Just when I thought I had naught to say regarding Mileygate...
Okay, okay, okay Miss Miley. Girl can twerk, or whatever, and I take no issue with her preferred style of dance, even if she does resemble pinched trash wagging an imaginary honey stick when she does it. I have to admit, however, it bums me out that her dehydrated toungue n' tourettes performance at the VMAs last Sunday seems to have made "twerk" a household word or, at least, a generally accepted generic term for
sexy ass-dancing, which, by the way, Cyrus wasn't really showcasing. Not on that night anyway. But, hey, that's fashion and my opinion matters little and weighs less when it comes to stomaching realities like this slice of Mileygate aftermath right here:
Really though, all this weak-ass sauce aside, I want to share, right here and now, some examples of real-ass twerking for anyone out there interested in gaining an understanding of why this manner of dancing could, should and has been elevated to a level of high art in expressive movement. Poppin', grinding, twerking, bounce, clap, stripper dance... check up on it and call it what you will, just don't promise chocolate milk if you're pouring watered-down Yoo-hoo. Here follows some of my favorite moments I've stumbled across in recent twerk-ish history:
The music video for Diplo' s "Express Yourself" (featuring Nicky Da B) has developed such a rich rash of "see Miley?" comments within the past week that it is worth over-looking the blurred lines (see what I did there) between twerking and the awesomeness that is Nola Bounce to include it here. Plus, as an added bonus, the vocal track practically acts as a literal how-to dance tutorial for those not overtaken by the sudden urge to, well, express themselves upon first listen.
Everything Flying Lotus does requires us to pay attention — not just because everything he touches, whether it be hosting excellent artists like Jeremiah Jae on his Brainfeeder label or his own work on albums like Comsmogramma, seems to be uniformly excellent, but because there’s a depth of complexity there that extends past sample-rap-repeat. This song for Adult Swim’s Singles Program features guest spots from Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy — who is maybe Tyler, the Creator? So postulates Pitchfork, which may be true, since Captain Murphy was a character from the off-the-air animated series “Sealab 2021” whose original voice, Harry Goz, died in 2003. I love how it starts with this dream soul intro that completely cuts out twice before getting into trading codeine-fueled raps. Sounds like something that would have been concocted at the bottom of the sea, indeed! (Ugh.) Flying Lotus’ new album Until the Quiet Comes is due Oct. 1 on Warp Records, featuring guest spots by Thom Yorke, Erykah Badu and more.