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Tag: Age of Adz

August MP3s: Loud / Quiet / Loud

1. “New Moon” – Namesayers. The lead guitar here is angular, cranky, and brittle, contrasting against the swirling, low-key psychedelia laid down by the rest of instruments and Devin James Fry’s mystical croon. It makes for an intriguing rock that sounds like midnight in the desert with a big bonfire going. (Which is pretty much what the title and the album art convey, so this one has its imagery and soundscapes really tight in line.)

2. “O Zephyr” – Ptarmigan. It’s tough to be a serious alt-folk band without sounding over-earnest or overly ironic. Ptarmigan finds the perfect center, where it sounds like a bunch of people who love folk and have something to say are making their noise how they want. Fans of River Whyless, Fleet Foxes (often violators of the over-earnest, but nonetheless), and Barr Brothers will enjoy this.

3. “Axolotl” – Lord Buffalo. Lord Buffalo specializes in primal, pounding, apocalyptic pieces that build from small beginnings to terrifying heights. This is an A+ example of the form.

4. “A Miracle Mile” – St. Anthony and the Mystery Train. Equally apocalyptic as above, but in a more Southern Gothic, Nick Cave, howl-and-clatter style of indie-rock than the all-out-sonic assault. A wild ride.

5. “Spring” – Trevor Ransom. A tone-poem of a piece, illustrating the arrival of spring with found sounds, distant vocals, and confident piano.

6. “Not Enough” – Sunjacket. This inventive indie-rock song draws sounds and moods from all over the place, creating a distinct, unique vibe. There’s some Age of Adz weirdness, some Grizzly Bear denseness, some giant synth clouds, and more.

7. “Bushwick Girl” – CHUCK. A goofy, loving parody of NYC’s hippest hipsters in appropriately creaky, nasally, quirky indie-pop style.

8. “Ghost” – Mood Robot. Chillwave meets ODESZA-style post-dub with some pop v/c/v work for good measure. It’s a great little electro-pop tune.

9. “Da Vinci” – Jaw Gems. All the swagger, strut, stutter, and stomp of hip-hop and none of the vocals. Impressive.

10. “Disappearing Love” – Night Drifting. If the National’s high drama met the Boss’s roots rock, you’d end up with something like this charging tune with a huge conclusion.

11. “Black and White Space” – Delamere. Britpop from Manchester with a catchy vocal hook and subtle instrumentation that comes together really nicely.

12. “Plastic Flowers” – Poomse. Predictions of human doom over crunchy guitars give way to a densely-layered indie-rock track with claustrophobia-inducing horns. If you’re into Mutemath or early ’00s emo (non-twinkly variety), you’ll find some footholds here.

13. “Lake, Steel, Oil” – Basement Revolver. There’s something hypnotic about Chrisy Hurn plaintively singing her heart out as if there isn’t a howling wall of distortion raging around her.

Icona Pop unleashes majestic singles upon the dance-pop world

If the next big thing exists, it’s Icona Pop. (With the fickleness of the Internet, the “next big thing” is a pretty fluid concept.) But for those who are chasing good tunes instead of hipness, I’ve got a prescription for you: “Nights Like This,” off the EP of the same name.

Yes, “Manners” took over everything when it was released – it even got appropriated by Chiddy Bang. But “Nights Like This” is even better. It’s more adrenalized, catchier, and more fun. There’s less cold, Age of Adz-esque pretension and more party-bangin’ beats and synths, followed by a euphoric rush of wild “whoa-oh”s. It’s the sort of thing that must have sounded absolutely monster when they were writing it, because it’s pulled off with an assertive confidence that sells that which was doing just fine on its own. You know when you know, you know?

“Manners” is awesome as well, what with its slithering rhythms and squelching bass synths. The chanting vocals that everyone’s been humming are still awesome. “Lovers to Friends” is a pretty standard synth-pop tune, absent of all the unusual rhythms that make Icona Pop so unique and interesting. Unsurprisingly, it’s the least effective tune here.

“Sun Goes Down” features The Knocks and is a return to the dark, spacious, clubby tunes. Low, modified male vocals contribute significantly to the creepiness of the track, and the whole thing comes off as proof that Icona Pop could have more staying power than two magnificent singles.

I sure hope they have staying power, because anything even resembling the thrill of “Nights Like This” would be enough to keep them on my high rotation. Hear all the audio here.