Monthly Archives: September 2012

Strawberries by Why?

Have you ever taken a step back to analyze all of the obscure details your brain processes in one day? The this and that of socialization, the certain shade of a tree, or the name tag of the black haired, scruffy barista at Starbucks. Those details, no matter how minor or unimportant they may seem, are what keep us alive. They fill the black and white void with humanistic color, punching our universe’s indifference right in the teeth; they are our purpose. Yoni Wolf of the established hip-hop-indie outfit, Why? understands the importance of detail. Through the trio’s expansive discography Wolf has spun a collection of bizarre and intriguing tales, from sporting his ex-girlfriend’s dead ex-boyfriend’s boxers to getting sick and blowing chunks all over new shoes in the lot behind Whole Foods. Why? has always had that wincing charm, and on their new track, “Strawberries,” the band is back, unusual anecdotes and all. “Strawberries” opens up with a melodic piano progression, hand claps, shakers, and Wolf wittily recalling “the shit I said to hotel managers haunts me.” The song features a nice frolicking piano roll and a collection of xylophone jingles, only adding to Why?’s unconventionality. The driving force behind “Strawberries” is without a doubt the vocals from Yoni Wolf. His voice is nasally and discreet, drawing listeners in with a careful dose of suspense. Overall, the song is a gentle, puzzling ball of lyricism. It works like a David Lynch movie; it never tells you what the hell is going on. And that’s a good thing. If the rest of their upcoming album, Mumps, is this good Why? may have a masterpiece.

-Ryan

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Work It Out by Twerps

I’ve got a ton of great memories from my youth. A ton. Our crew of friends was kind of like the crew of The Sandlot mixed with the deep fraternity of the Stand By Me kids. And now, in my freshman year of college, I’m a slightly more nostalgic person than the usual past-obsessor I always have been. I can remember as far back as fourth grade listening to Blink-182’s “Story of a Lonely Guy” on my walkman, daydreaming about the “simplicity” of second grade as the school bus wheels rolled on; I guess I’ve always been a cinematic nostalgic. And I say that without vanity. But one memory has been replaying in my head recently and I believe Freud would attribute its repetition to Summer’s departure. I went to a Real Estate/Twerps show with two of my best friends in Austin back in April. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold, complimented by a pleasant breeze. I had on a nice slightly hip denim shirt with a Black flag undershirt, khaki shorts and boat shoes. It was one of those rare occurrences where you look in the mirror and everything feels just right. I was not too familiar with Twerps with the exception of their single, “Dreamin’.” As the band started, I was instantly hypnotized by their breezy jangle-pop. The sun began to go down and the stage lights came on, illuminating the crowd with a shimmering blueish silver glow. The smell of philosophy major clove cigarettes filled the venue, and the accidental splash of cheap beer was rampant. The majority of the crowd conversed with each other and occasionally somewhat ignored the band– including myself, to make jokes with my friends. After I took a screenshot of the “Twerps” google search to remind myself to look into them, Real Estate took the stage. It was completely dark outside, only the stage lights, the venue’s christmas light job, and the sporadic lighter caused illumination. The four-piece opened up with a killer rendition of “Easy,” and oh boy, did I take it “easy.” My eyes hooked onto the casual appearance of the band, my ears latched onto the shimmering waves of the breeze guitar, drums, and bass, and my mind turned to complete positive mush. Everything was perfect.

In recent years, the independent world has garnered up an intense interest in summery nostalgia. From Real Estate’s beautiful sleeper hit, Days, to Urban Outfitter’s seemingly increasing floral shirt prints to even mainstream society’s fascination with grainy sea-oriented photography, the sentimental seashore machine is up and running. I have definitely been sucked in. I love the laid-back, six-beachside-beers-in aesthetic of older bands like The Feelies and selected Yo La Tengo. I’m a sucker and hypocrite when it comes to the photography, claiming not to like the Instagram worthy prints of the shore but secretly doing so. The aesthetic is alive and well and I believe it is for the greater good. Twerps, a group of shaggy haired Melbourne hipsters, released their self-titled debut in 2011 via Underwater Peoples. The album was full of catchy jangle-pop riffing, intriguing lyricism, bumbling surf rock bass, and unexpectedly, beautiful sad pop ballads. It deserved much more attention. Well the Melbourne bohemians are back, following their same catchy yet dense musical mixture, with their new single, “Work It Out.” The song begins with an oh-so 90’s chord progression, drawing on memories of Galaxie 500 and employing a straightforward, Silver Jews-esque melody. As the drums mellowly kick in, the overtly Feelies influenced lead guitar riff follows suit, eventually cascading into a nice tremolo drenched chord strike. Guitarist/vocalist, Marty Frawley is assertive and pissed off. He blatantly tells his (now ex) girlfriend “We’re threw. Yeah me and you. Done, done, we’re threw.” Frawley doesn’t give into cynicism; he gives a universal, get-on-it suggestion for relationship issues singing, “work it out, do it now, you get back, as much as you put in.” His confidence is inspiring to say the least. Twerps have seemed to have ditched their previously timid and skinny nervous white boy attitude in exchange for a more opinionated and didactic mood; and it’s working well. They haven’t lost their Jersey shore laziness, they’ve just grown older from the days spent drinking Coronas, strumming their six strings and smoking menthols while nesting on their beachside adirondack chairs.

-Ryan

The Myth of Sisyphus by The Jean Jackets

The Myth of Sisyphus is a perplexing, paradoxical old tale. There are many different versions of how Sisyphus got to his infinite punishment, but the most important aspect of the myth is the punishment itself. After angering the gods (in whichever story you prefer) Sisyphus is forced to roll a boulder up a hill and after reaching its peak, releases the stone and restarts the process…for ETERNITY. Scholars, artists, and everyday people have dissected this tale to the point of redundancy, from relating it to the stagnant lives of thirty-somethings to writing entire philosophical journals premised on the myth to discovering enlightening self-help aspects from Sisyphus, the myth is about as old as time. In Albert Camus’ philosophical essay, The Myth of Sisyphus Camus relates Sisyphus’ repetitive punishment to existence, arguing mankind’s meaningless existence is coercive with Sisyphus’ punishment. But Camus doesn’t fall victim to indifference and just say “the world sucks, we all die in the end, there’s no point,” he bravely proposes his take on life’s purpose, concluding the essay with “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Camus is saying “yes, we all suffer and we all have to live, but we must imagine ourselves happy– even if we are not.” The Jean Jackets are a four piece jangle-pop band hailing from the musical haven of New Jersey. The band have obviously done their reading with the energetic and at times, intellectually hilarious, “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Songwriter, Jack Phinney rambles in an existentially laced half-growl about a broken relationship, eventually relating it to literally “pushing a rock up a hill and watching it go down the hill.” Phinney sounds even more angry and in charge at the song’s charging ending crescendo, when the tortured frontman yells, “you can call me Sisyphus!” The singer has an obvious knack for wit and dry humor; he throws in references to the amount of times he had sex prior to the woman he is ranting about, cunningly growling, “I was your fourth, you were my fifth,” and produces Pulitzer-worthy phrases like, “and you think that I get sick of being nickeled and dimed, but I’m not happy ‘til I’m penniless.” The Jean Jackets’ booming jangle is undeniably infectious, the loud swooping horns in the song’s intro and chorus, the hi-hat skips throughout the verses, and the incredibly loud finale that allows Phinney to vent and “get it all out,” all blend together to make a delicious musical smoothie. The group’s songwriting is innovative, catchy, and easily relatable. If these guys don’t blow up, my faith in music blogging will certainly be wavering.

-Ryan