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14 Indie Rock Records That Would Make a Great Gift

Posted by Billy Gil, December 15, 2014 12:11pm | Post a Comment

Gift Ideas Indie Rock

There have been tons of records released under the nebulous indie rock genre this year that find new things to say within the confines of rock 'n' roll (The War on Drugs), or throw out the rules while still remaining pleasing to listen to (Ariel Pink). Here are 14 widely appealing records from this year that would make a great gift for just about any indie rock fan. 

the war on drugs





 

The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs’ dreamy country-rock music evokes slow motion, even as its songs move at a sprightly pace. The driving rhythm behind "Under the Pressure" is caked in heavily reverbed guitars and washes of synthesizer, even as real-life guitar solos and Adam Granduciel's vocals come through more clearly than ever before. Similarly "Red Eyes" is like some lost '80s collaboration between The Highwaymen and The Cure, effusing brilliant colors with its bright synths and yelping vocals, but the most stunning moment comes in the minute or so in the middle of the songs when a third of the sound is stripped away, leaving a gorgeous, introspective bridge before Granduciel's yelp brings everything crashing back, while the rhythm stays insistent as always. Lost in the Dream invites repeat listens—atmospheric pieces like "The Haunting Idle" keep things spacious, yet the band comes back for the Bruce Springsteen-vibing "Burning" in the albums latter half. As its title would suggest, it's an album to get lost in. It feels like seeing the entire open road ahead of you, coasting yet seemingly to move in place while the sun sets and middle-of-nowhere stations play Bruce and Tom Petty in the background.

The 50 Best Scottish Bands of All Time

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 16, 2014 03:12pm | Post a Comment
Scottish Flag


By now you and I have heard the arguments for and against Scottish independence from the UK but as someone who has naturally bristled like a thistle when diasporic people argue passionately and ill-informedly about another country's political situations (which they are thankfully powerless to effect) I'll keep my political opinions to myself. What I will do instead is far more frivolous purposes -- that is list the best Scottish bands of all time.


*****
 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of Scotland

Given its small population, Scotland has produced a fairly shocking amount of great music. Sure, there have been occasional English bands of note -- almost always from the north -- but I've always taken Anglophiles' preference for all things (assumed to be) English over English language pop from anywhere else as proof of a terminal subcultural defect. It's not really fair to blame England for Anglophiles any more than it is to blame Nirvana for Puddle of Mudd but I suppose it's because so many of the helmet-haired horde mistakenly think that I am one of them that they so vex me. How could I not be an Anglophile when I drink more tea than the average North African, enjoy curry in all of its Asian forms, and my favorite writer is Irish

Parquet Courts' Andrew Savage Talks Hype, EPs and 2014

Posted by Billy Gil, December 19, 2013 11:33am | Post a Comment

parquet courts amoebaParquet Courts had a very good 2013. Their debut album, Light Up Gold, was re-released on What’s Your Rupture? to rapturous acclaim, and their live shows have become somewhat legendary. Live and on record, the band flaunts a defiantly youthful energy that resuscitates classic indie rock tropes and perfectly captured mid-20s bohemia. Late in the year, they released the great Tally All the Things That You Broke EP (which I called one of the best EPs of 2013), finding the band honing its sound and growing wilder, even funkier as Andrew Savage’s vocals are more confident and strident, sing-talking and even sort of rapping, while the band tosses out knotty, catchy riffs with apparent ease. “The more you use it, the more it works!” Savage cries on one of Tally’s songs, as if echoing his own band’s tour-and-release-heavy year, which has clearly paid off.

The subject matter of the band’s songs is another matter. On its most famous song, Light Up Gold’s “Stoned and Starving,” the title says it all as Savage details a muchies-fueled trip through Ridgewood, Queens. But don’t call Parquet Courts “stoner rock” or “slacker rock” to Savage’s face.

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VUM Plays December Monday Residency at The Echo, Talk 'Psychotropic Jukebox'

Posted by Billy Gil, November 26, 2013 12:08pm | Post a Comment
vum band
Photo by Angel Ceballos

L.A.'s VUM create a dawn-to-dusk soundtrack of moody organ tones, dirty drum machine sounds and Jennifer Pearl's deep, ghostly voice on their new album, Psychotropic Jukebox (vinyl out Dec. 3). To celebrate the release of the album, the trio, made up of Christopher Badger and Amoeba alumn Pearl and Scott Spaulding, is playing The Echo in Echo Park every Monday in December. The residency shows are free and start at 8:30 p.m. The shows will run as follows:

12/2 with The Parallelograms, HOTT MT, Conway

12/9 with Lo-Fang, Globelamp (Member of Foxygen), Galaxy Electric

12/16 with Fang Moon, The Present Moment, Black Mare

12/23 with Death Valley Girls, DJ Mahssa (Mount Analog)

12/30 with Intimatchine, Net Shaker

We caught up with Pearl prior to VUM's residency to talk about their terrific new album.

How did your approach to making this record differ from your previous recordings?

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Show Recap: Islands at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, September 18, 2013 01:00pm | Post a Comment

islands amoeba hollywood

Islands took the stage at Ameoba Hollywood Sept. 17, the day they released their fifth album, Ski Mask (on CD, LP or download). The band mostly played songs from that album, portraying a more mature, subdued version of Islands than we've previously seen. However, Nick Thorburn is still a beast and a ham onstage—"We're Islands, it's true—oh shit," he said, distracted by something, then went to start a song on keys before returning to holding the mic and strutting through "Wave Forms," Ski Mask's buoyant opener. "Death Drive" introduced cool analog keyboard sounds and a subtle hip-hop feel to the set. For islands ski maskSki Mask's best song, "Becoming the Gunship," Thorburn took to playing a beautiul white guitar—he and his band all looked pretty dapper, btw, but that's neither here nor there—and his bandmates offered solid harmonies. They reached back to 2008's Arm's Way for the discoy "Creeper" before returning to the newer material, proclaiming "Contractually, I'm obligated to ask you to buy [Ski Mask]" before launching into that album's “Winged Beat Drums,” a funkier song akin to Spoon with nice dynamics and sunny lines like "life's not a gas, it's a gas chamber." Thorburn picked his guitar alone in the opening of the sad-sounding "Here Here," while "Hushed Tones" saw bigger, Who-style ringing chords, with a soft underbelly of watery synths. Thorburn appeared to get annoyed with someone in the audience and invited the guy onstage to air his complaints—that guy ended up being rapper Subtitle, who joined the band to deliver his rap on Return to the Sea's "Where there's a will, There's a whalebone." Even as they've mellowed out, Islands couldn't resist throwing a bit of mayhem into the mix. The band stuck around for a signing session that included all members of the band biting into one of their records—perhaps to authenticate it as real, like people did in the olden days with gold coins.

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