Now that Best Coast has fallen off of the Pacific musical map and Wavves has jumped to the back of the surfed-out Ford Woody, who will take the beach-pop throne? Well Brisbane slackers, Dune Rats, seem to be onto something with their sunny, THC infused, slacker take on garage-pop. Dune Rats are obvious champions and advocates of beachside chilling. On “Red Light, Green Light,” the duo finds themselves concocting up a potion of raucous, So-Cal garage-pop that is as sunny as it is catchy. The drums are eager and full of robust youth, and the vocals soar around listeners in oceanic waves of 1990’s pop-punk melodies. Dune Rats’ inherent brattiness is more playful than irritating, and the two stoners are stupidly lovable; think Dumb and Dumber or Bill and Ted making beached-out garage rock. It shouldn’t be long before these guys start over publicizing their pet cats and doing Windows 8 commercials (that’s a good thing).
1. Mac Demarco – Mac will surely be freakin’ out the neighborhood in Austin this year. Listening to his latest release “2” on the morning stroll to class…. excellent. Hearing these songs performed live….even better!
2. BADBADNOTGOOD – These guys backed Frank Ocean at Coachella? Hell yeah they did! They also do Kanye, Tyler, and James Blake covers. Throw in a “Pretty Boy Swag” remix accompanied by an enthusiastic Jazz/Hip-Hop fusion sound, and you got yourselves one helluva show.
3. Pangea – These L.A. and Burger Records bros know how to play some Rock n’ Roll. I can’t wait to get my ass kicked at one of their shows! Listen to their Killer Dreams EP bellow.
4. Flatbush Zombies – This Brooklyn Hip-Hop collective loves Acid. Something’s a little off there…. but that’s what makes these guys great. I would love to witness some Foaming-at-the-mouth flows of the ZOMBIES.
5. Diarrhea Planet – C’mon guys, this is just some wonderful Punk Rock. The name says it all, go see these Nashville rockers.
6. Kendrick Lamar, SchoolBoy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock – All of them together would be heavenly. I’ll be waiting for the secret show announcements….
7. Hundred Visions – These Austin natives know how to produce some very catchy, jangly pop tunes. Bounce along to “Where do I Sign?” below!
8. Beach Fossils – South-by regulars Beach Fossils are back and fresh off the release of their sophomore album Clash the Truth. Get out and see these dudes, you will be pleasantly surprised to see a decent mosh and maybe even some crowd surfers.
9. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister – This L.A. group brings a very nice blend of catchy garage rock with a hint of country influence. Desert Pop? Garage Country? It’s like if Edward Sharpe had balls.
10. Spider Bags – Picture this: you stumble into a bar on Sixth Street…. all of a sudden you hear some bad-ass guitar and whiskey tinged vocals. You don’t know where you are, or how you got in there, but hot damn you are thankful Spider Bags are playing. I salute these Jersey boys!
Hope everyone has a Bummer-less SXSW!
Whatever happened to listening music for the sake of listening to music? That is, can we even listen to music anymore without decrypting, recycling, or analyzing every little detail of it? Stop. I know what you’re thinking: pretty hypocritical coming from a blogger who’s recent post revolved around the effects of capitalism on music. But I ask the previously stated questions with genuine sincerity. Sometimes I can’t help but to yearn for the elementary days where music was strictly for listening to, not to be used as an ideological machine or cultural source of identity. And “Wild Hearts” by up-and-coming popsters, The West, delivers that perfect blend of ignorance and sophistication, that is sure to get you bobbing your head and tapping your feet. The production is uniquely straightforward with its polished guitars, cacophonous pre-chorus percussion, and charmingly fresh female vocals. The lyrics feel relatable – an aspect that seems to be on a steady declination in today’s independent scene – and young; there’s plenty of references to cigarettes, morning-afters, being broke and failed relationships. But the friendly unpretentiousness of “Wild Hearts” is what makes the song so utterly charming and ironically unique. I look forward to future releases from these guys and so should you.
American capitalism is unfair. Let’s just put it straight. It is. There is no getting around that; the true political debate revolves around whether unfairness is an inherent aspect of humanity. Not delving into a political tirade here, but should we really support a system that allows some men to sit back in a recliner and make millions while other men scrub disgusting convenient store floors and make barely enough to secure a wretched existence (Eugene V. Debs said that last part)? I guess that’s for you to decide. But there is one thing you can argue: capitalism has produced some damn good music. There’d be no Bruce Springsteen, no Clash, no Black Flag, no Kanye West without it. After all, a punk needs capitalism in order to even exist. Passionate soul revivalist, Charles Bradley, is a prime example of just how important capitalism is to music. “Why Is It So Hard?” is a soulful plea that would fit nicely tattooed on the arm of Joe the Plumber. Charles Bradley sounds as if he is on the edge of desperation, his voice dark, loud, and endearing, his vocal tremolo shaking with passionate screams of prayer. The song’s instrumentation conjures up a sort of blue-collar camaraderie, evoking E-Street and Otis Redding. When finishing listening to “Why Is It So Hard?”, you can’t help but to feel empowered and red-faced. Charles Bradley may be struggling with America, but if “Why Is It So Hard?” is an implication of his strife, his struggle can’t last too long.
The live version is far more badass.
Expectations can be the damnedest things. When they are fulfilled, they’re your best friends. When they’re not, expectations are your worst enemies. Think of that scene in 500 Days of Summer in which the camera cuts the screen in half and shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character’s expectations vs. reality as he attends a rooftop party that his ex (Zooey Deschanel) is throwing. The “expectations” side of the screen shows him privately kissing her at the corner of the roof, making her laugh, and spending the night with her. Yet, “reality” is not as idyllic; he sits alone, making awkward jokes to other patrons, and eventually storms out of the place after learning of Deschanel’s engagement. “I’ll Kill Her” by Danish singer-songwriter, Soko, is so evocative of unfulfilled desire that it’s almost sickening– in a good, comforting way. “I’ll Kill Her” is an angry address to the one who left Soko a female cuckold. The singer-songwriter’s lyricism is vaguely detailed and hilariously sardonic, featuring lines like, “we would have gone to the cinema, and then after to the restaurant,” and “she’ll dump your ass for a model named Brendan.” Her humor is dark, slightly feminist, and alternatively quirky. Her anger evokes old-school Liz Phair and her bad girl persona is uniquely similar to Fiona Apple. In a way, Soko could be viewed as a modern version of the Riot Grrrl movement. Her anger is just so fresh and to the point. Although, when finishing “I’ll Kill Her,” a sense of content falls onto the listener– it’s content in the fact that you didn’t piss Soko off.
When “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” came out this year, the indie world became much more psychedelic. A shadow the size of Yo La Tengo’s discography smothered the music scene in a hazy shade of avant-garde electronic production. Fortunately, we didn’t all modern-dance ourselves into comas; Tame Impala came along and reminded us of the shady beauty of psychedelia. It opened up a brave new world for Sgt. Pepper and LSD fans. “Frightened Faces” by Halifax fuzzsters, The Everywheres, provides a clear illustration of what the modern day Psych-revival has to offer. Its melody is overtly ‘90s, sounding like Weezer and the Pixies all blended into one. Its sandy beach aesthetic is comfortably familiar. It is an instant pysch-revival classic and I think we can expect a lot from these guys.
Take off your jacket and your tattered jeans and put on some shorts and a tank top, because the temperature is about to heat up. Luckily for us there is a three-month period before the sun becomes unbearably boiling. This period is known as spring. It’s time for the sickles of ice to melt and the snow to thaw and it’s time for that familiar, cool yet warm bite at your nostrils on a 45 degree sunny day. It’s time for that frosty inhalation that is more comforting than threatening. It’s time for the shorts and jacket combination. But overall, it’s time for “The Beauty Surrounds,” by Houses. Spring is on its way boys and girls, spring is on its way.