Poolside – “Slowdown”
(Sally Struthers voice) Do you like watching scrawny L.A. hipsters swim and sing catchy tunes that sound like hip-hop without the rapping? Sure, we all do.
Poolside’s big summer single bowed yesterday on Pitchfork, along with its trashy summer vibes video. This thing was made to soundtrack the Ace and Standard hotels, all easy beats and lush synth hooks. Scoff if you must; this sort of thing is rarely done as well as it is here. Their nicely titled Pacific Standard Time album comes out July 9.
Best Coast – "The Only Place" video and KCRW performance
Best Coast debuted a super cute video for “The Only Place,” from the album of the same name, this week where Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno run around L.A. and give viewers a tour of the “real” L.A.: tacky souvenir shops, backyard pools, bikes, our gross but awesome river. And lots of Bobb! It’s as sweetly low-key and breezy as the song.
Poolside – “Slowdown”
It’s June! That means Summer is here (it isn’t, but who cares). Which means it’s time to pretend you don’t actually still have to work and have responsibilities and all of that and just spend all your money on records and all your time listening to them. It’s as good a time as any to do so, as there are a number of big releases coming down the pipe this month.
First of all, there’s the new album from A Place to Bury Strangers, Worship, out June 26th. I’ve been a huge fan of these guys since frontman Oliver Ackermann formed Skywave in the early 2000s and have enjoyed their progression from an industrial-shoegaze band to augmenting their sound with elements of coldwave while retaining their core sound. There’s basically no better band from which to get your extra loud dream-pop guitar fix than APTBS. Check out the video for the album’s first single, “You Are the One.”
There’s a lot of buzz around Diiv (formerly Dive), who release their debut, Oshin, also on June 26th, and why shouldn’t there be, as the band is fronted by Z. Cole Smith, who also is a member of Beach Fossils, who to me are easily one of the best guitar bands around. Similarly to BF, Diiv delivers intricate yet poolside-ready guitar goodness but also lacquers on some Creation Records era sound blankets. Just listen to “How Long Have You Known?” and tell me you’re not hungry for more.
It’s been a tricky thing to navigate Billy Corgan’s post-breakup of the original Smashing Pumpkins career. For every good to terrific release — from the unfairly maligned, Cocteau Twins-esque Machina and especially Machina II, to the too-short-lived Zwan and its sole release, Mary Star of the Sea, to his promising Depeche Mode as shoegaze solo debut, TheFutureEmbrace — there’ve been missteps — the largely underwhelming Zeitgeist (save a few choice crazy guitar tracks), the pretty bad American Gothic EP, tossed off digital singles. Of the newer songs, released after the departure of longtime drummer and sole other original Pumpkin Jimmy Chamberlain, I’ve only really liked a few. The psych-ballad “A Stitch in Time” knocks me on my ass when I hear it and leaves me hoping Corgan will continue pursuing more experimental territory, like he did to such success (at least in my mind, and that of a devoted cult) on Adore.
From what I’ve heard of Oceania so far, I’m cautiously optimistic. Though Pumpkins songs never sound the same on record as they do live, recent Pumpkins recordings have sounded increasingly stripped-down, which isn’t a problem, as long as the songs are strong. So just going by songs, then, the live tracks I’ve heard on YouTube from Oceania, as they’ve yet to release an official single from it, rock pretty hard, and do, as Corgan has alluded, sound like Siamese Dream, Gish and, actually, especially, Pisces Iscariot, their B-side album from the early era that’s at least as good as Gish. So far, opener “Quasar” reminds me a lot of “Geek USA,” one of my favorite songs from Siamese Dream —and ever, really — with its stop-start heavy riffage. The recording of “Panopticon” I heard has the kind of harmonic guitar playing that gives me goosebumps, kind of like Zeitgeist standouts “7 Shades of Black” and “Starz,” but with a better melody, like “Rocket.” “Pinwheels” aims for the heartstrings with its plinking keyboards and classic harmonic riff, sort of like a mellower “Today” or “Glynis,” one of my favorite Pumpkins B-sides.
So, we’ll see, fellow Pumpkins-heads. The album could end up being really awesome. Like most people for whom the Pumpkins are their all-time favorite band, or top 5 at least, I’ll definitely be getting it and there will be at least a few songs that renew my love for the band. But from what I’ve heard so far, this could be the return to form we’ve been hoping for.
But what really gets me about Seasons is the passion they clearly put into each song. Through their three released “season” EPs — Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn, the last one just released this month — Seasons aren’t afraid to change things up sonically or thematically. So what you get is a landscape painting of a band across its releases rather than a portrait. Though overall I might classify the music as epic spacefaring rock of the variety you don’t see too often these days — Slowdive, Smashing Pumpkins and, more recently, The Arcade Fire come to mind — there’s also a strong twee vibe running throughout, echoing Sarah Records and C86 bands, not to mention an electro streak that keeps things vibrant.
The band consists of longtime friends who like to go by their first names — John sings and plays guitar and keys; Nik does the same; Adam plays bass and guitar; Erik plays drums; Ray handles beats, keys and bass; and Kaitlin, violin and vocals. During the day, these people occupy such various jobs as teacher, florist, Trader Joe’s team member and Grammy Museum usher.
In the summer of 2006, they came up with the idea to do a set of EPs each with a mood to set the tone for feelings that arise during a particular season.
“We let the climate changes and the way people and ourselves reacted to each season inspire us to write each one, with the intention of releasing them when we were finished even if they season they were written in was over,” John explains.
The Autumn EP begins with “Monday Night” (available as a free download), a lighthearted danceable ode to getting up and out at the beginning of the work week — which, by the way, you should do tonight and/or next Monday to see the band play at the Echo as part of its January residency. The EP continues with the strings-and-bells laden yet hard-charging “These United States,” which nicely features singer Nik's growling, yearning vocals. The EP’s closer, “Lazy Bones,” is sort of meat-and-potatoes Seasons, a six-minute-plus psychedelic heart-on-sleeve power ballad. Meanwhile, “Number of the Beat” is their most outward flirtation with dance music thus far, although its striking violin playing still lands it firmly in orchestral pop territory.
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50 Words for Snow
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The Rolling Stones|