2. Last Rites
3. For A Day Like Tomorrow
4. Setting Sun
6. English Subtitles
7. Red Queen Arms Race
8. Deep Wound
9. Lone Star
10. I Wonder?
You can hear the traditional aspects of Swervedriver's sound in the first song, "Autodidact," which they also unveiled today: beautiful, cascading guitarwork, loud, distorted power chords, thundering beats and Adam Franklin's throaty, chilled out tenor, fusing shoegazer aesthetics with the sound of the then-burgeoning alternative-rock scene. I'd say it was a return to form, if Swervedriver ever lost their form to begin with.
These nocturnally minded Australians set themselves apart from post-punk pack with creeping, atmospheric songs that seem to exist in a netherworld between sleep, dreaming and waking life. Songs like “You I Never Knew” lurch forward with jangling guitars and pounding beats before resting back into woozy, cloudy textures, on tracks like “Pay for Strangers.” Definitely a band to watch for 2015.
I had never checked out Title Fight before, but they go lighter on the emo and heavier on the shoegaze on their new album, coming up with a surprisingly winning combination. Tracks like “Chlorine” find sweet melodies doing battle with Sonic Youth-style mangled chords, while moody basslines on songs like “Hypernight” and power-pop arrangements on tracks like “Mhrac” call to mind elements of The Pixies. The band’s watery, textured guitar playing makes for pleasant listening on the plaintive “Your Pain Is Mine Now,” but the band can still deliver a dose of the good ol’ screamo-style singing on “Rose of Sharon,” placing them in the same boat as bands who’ve similarly paired picturesque guitarwork with corrosive singing and driving beats, like Fucked Up and Deafheaven. Fans may have to get used to the more impressionistic style they use here, employing Chapterhouse and Swervedriver as influences as much as Jawbreaker or Rites of Spring. But those who are willing to evolve with the band will be rewarded with a perfect marriage of pulse and shimmer, on songs like standout “Liar’s Love.” And those of us new to Title Fight have a much-needed dose of gorgeously loud music on our hands with Hyperview.
Like many records whose reputations precede them, Psychocandy, the debut album by Scottish troublemakers The Jesus & Mary Chain, should be approached with caution and when you’re ready, not because someone told you to listen to it.
I picked up Psychocandy sometime in 2002 from Amoeba Hollywood, shortly after the store opened. I was going to school in San Diego at the time, and my friends and I would make trips up to Lou’s Records in Encinitas and Amoeba to binge buy used CDs. No one told me to get Psychocandy like Barry from High Fidelity, but I knew I probably should, judging by my growing obsessions with Sonic Youth, The Velvet Undergroundand My Bloody Valentine.
The first time I put it on, on my shitty car stereo, I couldn’t really hear what was going on. A car full of people talking didn’t help. It just sounded like static to me, but I was intrigued. I listened later on and, of course, became full-on obsessed.
“Just Like Honey” is the obvious entry point and still a hauntingly beautiful song that is universal in a Nirvana sorta way. But the album’s next few tracks are its best. “The Living End” isn’t just a song title that Gregg Araki would nick for his great movie of the same name; its overall vibe is so underground and elusive that listening always makes you feel a lot cooler than you really are. It doesn’t matter that I’m way too chicken shit to ever ride a motorcycle. Both “The Living End” and “Taste the Floor” introduce a sonic trick that other great bands would mimic, like the aforementioned Nirvana, their inspirations in The Pixies (who themselves would cover J&MC’s “Head On”) and shoegaze followers like Lush and Swervedriver, piling added distortion on what already felt like too much to begin with, like pouring chocolate syrup all over a chocolate cake. It’s overwhelming and awesome.
Power-pop master Mikal Cronin has announced his third album, the aptly titled MCIII, which will be out May 5 on Merge. And he’s shared the first song from it. “Made Up My Mind” has one of those great rocketship riffs Cronin does so well, along with some playful piano and Cronin’s weary earnest voice offering bittersweet melodies and lyrics. Cronin played every instrument on the new album, which includes a six-song suite. He’ll be at S.F.’s The Independent April 22 and the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock May 1.
Bouquet – “Stacks on Stacks”
Sometimes you hear just a couple of notes of a song and you know you love it. Such is the case with Bouquet’s “Stacks on Stacks,” which touches on early electronic music with breathy, romantic female vocals akin to Stereolab, Beach Houseor our dearly departed Broadcast. The L.A.-based duo is composed of guitarist/vocalist Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, formerly of folk-poppers The Finches, and keyboardist Max Foreman of the experimental trio Tenebre. If you’re as curious as I am about Bouquet, check out their In a Dream EP, due March 10 via Ulrike/Folktale, and/or check them out with Zola Jesus Feb. 8 at Santa Ana’s Observatory.