It Was a Dark and Stormy … Club
1. “Substance” – Germany Germany. Moving from clubby electro bangers to artsy, flowing dance-rock isn’t a huge jump. But when the results are this infectious, it feels like a revelation and a turned corner in Germany Germany’s career.
2. “Never Easy” – We Are Magnetic. Gotta love a big “Midnight City”-style chorus.
3. “Recycled Words” – Lectures. Twinkly/angular guitar leads backed up by pounding chords, thrashed cymbals, and anguished vocals in a high tenor? No chorus, just one long line of song? This is early ’00s, Deep Elm-style emo, my friends. I am so down with this.
4. “Boxing Day” – Carroll. Carroll’s making their indie-pop darker, dancier, and more electro-heavy. I feel like we should all be dressed in our best clothes for this one.
5. “Colors” – Dream Stretcher. Stuttering beats, hazy synths, and mystical female vocals power this late-night drive home electro jam.
My last MP3 drop was pretty chill. Here’s some decidedly energetic MP3s to get you through the middle of the week.
ENERGY AND STUFF
1. “The Scope of All This Rebuilding” – The Hotelier. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible title of the album this comes from: Home, like Noplace Is There. Then appreciate the frantic, emotionally charged, complex arrangements of this mile-a-minute pop-punk rager. It’s a workout, y’all.
2. “On Your Own” – Germany Germany. Clubby house with some neat synths and a great nighttime vibe? SECRET TECHNO FAN EMERGES!
3. “Tear Your Hate Apart” – Monks of Mellonwah. I cover hardly any modern rock, but man–these guys know what’s up. Interpol-esque moods, great falsetto, and strong control of atmosphere call up Muse comparions, but without the proggy bloat.
4. “Here We Go Again” – King Champion Sounds. The line between punk and post-punk is muddied here by horns that aspire to stay out of ska territory by being textural and integral to the sound.
5. “Evergreen (Feat. I AM DIVE)” – Brunetto. Moody electro incorporating fractured breakbeats, muscly tones, and some chill vocals (for contrast).
6. “Pulsing (Feat. Nina K)” – Tomas Barfod. You’re driving on an empty highway through a major metropolitan area at 4 a.m. This perfectly titled electro track is playing on the stereo.
7. “How Do You Know” – Scary Little Friends. Neil Young guitars, skyscraping vocals, and a ragtag alt-country feel propel this tune to great heights.
8. “Head for the Hills” – Night Beds. Night Beds can do no wrong so far, as the folky troubadour gives us a few triumphant indie-rock moments here. Give your ears a rest and enjoy this one.
Here’s the last MP3 drop of 2013. Some punk, some rock, some electronic, but mostly folk and indie-pop. It’s a good microcosm of how we rolled in 2013. Here’s to 2014!
1. “Hot Dad Calendar” – Cayetana. Female-fronted punk rock that sounds completely natural and inhabited. Pretensions = 0%. Good music = 100%.
2. “Double Secret Agent” – Commitment Bells. From that Bruce Springsteen school of rock that’s not so much rebellious as world-weary yet celebratory in sound, Commitment Bells!
3. “The Church Street Saint Leads the Marching Band for Truth (Demo)” – Kye Alfred Hillig. Hillig burst into my consciousness with the impressive Together Through It All this year, working in a variety of genres to get his emotive songcraft out. This new demo shows off his Paul Simon-esque restraint and melodic skills in a tight, spry, acoustic-based setting. I am thoroughly excited for his 2014 album.
4. “I Saw Three Ships” – Good Shepherd Band. Starts off as a rousing sing-along, then expands into a humongous, impressive arrangement for choir, orchestra, and folk/rock band.
5. “Broke, Not Broken” – Jamie Kent. Working-class, populist folk-rock with a Springsteen bent and great vocal delivery.
6. “For My Young Lord Drake” – Nettie Rose. This old-school country tune is not about the rapper. This tune is, however, excellently balanced between strong fingerpicking and uniquely interesting female vocals.
7. “Hey Pretty Mama” – Starlings, TN. Folk band capable of devastating sadness decides to let a little more light in, and this charming tune results.
8. “All of Your Love (ft. Kotomi)” – Germany Germany. I love really kitschy techno, so anytime that a song even hearkens a little bit toward ’90s house and trance, I’m just super-happy. Rest assured there is more nuance here than that, but the influences are there.
9. “I Know You Love to Fall” – Message to Bears. Ambient/trip-hop/breakbeat with pressing piano and swooning strings. It’s super pretty.
10. “Coke & Spiriters (Viva Idiota Remix)” – Cfit. What was an icy, formidable, Radiohead-esque tune gets its chill electronic groove on.
11. “The Big Game Is Every Night” – Songs: Ohia. A heretofore unreleased 10-minute tune by the late Jason Molina in his slowcore style. The band here has a stronger presence than in some of his later, sparser work, allowing for some concreteness to Molina’s often vast, amorphous tunes.
12. “Hurricane” – Snowflake. A similar sense of forlornness and longing characterize this track; the vocals here echo Molina’s, while the arrangements are similarly in a foreboding but not ominous mood. A little more peppy than Molina’s work, but not by much; the guitars do get way heavy though.
13. “Dingy” – Elim Bolt. If you took out the rage from grunge but left the music largely intact, you’d have this track. Or, conversely, this is a less polished Blur. Either way: pop songs with careening vocals and dirty guitars.