School of Seven Bell’s fourth and final album is a beautiful tribute to the band and its founding member Benjamin Curtis, who died three years ago after battling a rare form of lymphoma, leaving co-member Alejandra Deheza to finish the album they’d started with another producer. But SVIIB isn’t an overly sad affair, though knowledge of the story behind it certainly cast the lyrics of sadness and longing in a different light — most of them were written before Curtis’ diagnosis, in the wake up of the breakup of Curtis and bandmate Alejandra Deheza’s romantic relationship and their forging forward as friends and bandmates. SVIIB looks back fondly on their time together. The band’s combination of dream-pop and electro-pop has never been more lucidly realized than on songs like “Ablaze,” which opens the album on a rush of teenage emotion and big synth-laden beats, like Erasure’s new-wave optimism reimagined for a generation weaned on M83 and Chvrches. “There was a you before me, there was a me before you,” Dehenza sings with hip-hop inflected delivery on “On My Heart.” “A Thousand Times More’s” New Order-style heartfelt synth-pop and the freestyle-flavored “Signals” call to mind happier times for the band, when they were a trio on albums like Disconnect From Desire. On the devastating “Confusion,” Deheza sings wearily over a billowing cloud of synths and organs, exhaling the line, “I understand nothing of these changes,” with the sense of sitting at rock bottom and staring upward. That impression of a light in the tunnel that SVIIB leaves you with makes the album feel not like a sad ending, but a celebration of their work.
Dehezra: "It feels so surreal to be writing this to you. In fact I still can't wrap my head or my heart around it, but here it goes. A few nights ago Benjamin was admitted to the hospital for symptoms that have been getting worse for a few weeks now. After a dozen tests and scans (which he's endured like a champion), the doctors say it's T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. It developed pretty aggressively, and the chemotherapy to treat it will be pretty aggressive, but the good news is that it's TREATABLE. These next few months will be tough, but he is the toughest person I know (even while here, he was trying to figure out a way to sample the MRI). I wanted to share this with you all, because you guys are such a huge and important part of our lives. Send all of the light and love that you can his way. Every bit will count towards a strong and fast recovery. I believe that with all of my heart. I will be doing the same. Love, Alley."
Glasslands in Brooklyn, New York wil be hosting the Support Benjamin Curtis concert fundraiser May 9, 2013. The lineup includes performances by Creep, Exitmusic, Adam Green, Rewards and DJ sets by Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes, Blood Orange and Certain Creatures. All proceeds will help to pay for Benjamin's medical bills. Event admission is $12 and will be 21 and over. More info.
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.
One of the things I like about remixes is that they can bring new life into a track, make you hear it in an entirely different way. Remixes, like anything else, run the gamut and with the omnipresence of the remix these days there is a good chance of running into some crap ones too. But when they're good, they can be delicious. In fact, over the last few years I've come across a few remixes that I now prefer over their original tracks.
I'm in love with a new remix from LA/NYC band
Another example of a new remix I prefer over the original is a White Arrows remix of Active Child's "Johnny Belinda." The original track, from You Are All I See (Vagrant, 2011), has a completely different tempo and incorporates the faint stirrings of a choir of monks throughout. The remix maintains Pat Grossi's vocals, but alters the other elements completely. Download "Johnny Belinda (White Arrows Remix)."
School of Seven Bells just released "The Night," the first single from their forthcoming third album, Ghostory. The album features SVIIB's signature dreampop influenced by ‘80s pop, shoegaze, and ambient electronic music. But it's also kind of a concept album in that it tells the story of a young girl named Lafaye and the ghosts that surround her life.
Free download of "The Night" by School of Seven Bells.
School of Seven Bells is vocalist Alejandra Deheza, formerly of On!Air!Library, and guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis, a former member of Secret Machines and Tripping Daisy. They formed in 2007 in Brooklyn, New York with Alejandra's twin sister Claudia (who left the band in 2010). Their debut album, Alpinisms (Ghostly International), was released in October 2008. Their second full-length album, Disconnect From Desire, was released in July 2010 on Vagrant Records. Ghostory is out February 28, 2012 on Vagrant Records/Ghostly International.
Watch our What's In My Bag? video with Alejandra & Benjamin: