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MP3 Catchup, pt 1: Fun in the Sun

June 18, 2014

I’ve been behind on MP3s and videos, so there’s going to be a lot of them posted in the next few days in addition to album reviews. I’m breaking my “one post a day” rule, but I’ll get back there shortly enough.

Fun in the Sun

1. “Bring You Down” – Ships Have Sailed. Oh man, remember early 2000s indie pop-rock? Like Watashi Wa and stuff? The bright-eyed sound, the self-abasing lyrics, the high harmonies, the twinkly guitars? It’s all here. I can’t help but love this song entirely. That lead riff is just so great.

2. “Bitter Branches” – Static in Verona. I’ve always got room in my heart for a pulse-pounding, towering power-pop song. This one features high, melodic, non-aggressive vocals. It’ll be in your head for a while.

3. “Silhouettes” – Colony House. Are you looking for a fun, upbeat rock track to blast in a car? Here’s my pick for this week.

4. “Boulders” – Dear Blanca. Dear Blanca’s Talker was one of my favorite records of 2013, so it’s thrilling to hear the noisy folk/rock band back with an even tighter sound and lyrical sense. Can we get this band on tour with Conor Oberst already? Please and thank you.

5. “Figure Eight” – Pageant. Peppy acoustic guitars get kicked into overdrive by electric organ and hyperactive drums, turning a folky/poppy tune into a charging pop-rock tune. Fresh, tight, and fun.

6. “Insults and Polemics” – Wall-Eyed. I bet you’ve never head a punk band mashed up with a Norteño band. I bet you’ve never heard a Norteño band. I bet you’re really going to like it.

7. “New York, I Love It When You’re Mean” – Julian Velard. Piano singer/songwriter in the Billy Joel vein? Yes, please! Great melodies here.

8. “Come Up and See” – Tree Dwellers. Instrumental hip-hop with an acoustic bent: we’ve got acoustic guitars, cello, and Spanish guitar vibes going on here. Totally cool.

9. “Could Be Real” – Diners. Lazy, chilled-out, but not chillwave, this acoustic (but not folk!) band carves out the hardest space: the space that’s always been there. This is pop music, for real.

10. “Licorice the Dog” – Kye Alfred Hillig. Hillig has been on a songwriting bender lately, pushing the bounds of prolific by doing all of his songwriting in vastly different genres. “Licorice” sees him return to his hometown of intimate singer/songwriter music with great results.

Unrelated to SXSW, pt 1

March 11, 2014

SXSW is currently taking over the North American music world, but I’m not there this year. To deal with this sadness, I have largely ignored what’s going on out there in Austin. So here are a bunch of tracks by bands that may or may not be showcasing at SXSW.

1. “It Takes Over” – Dream Curtain. I like chillwave so much that I wrote an academic paper about it. Dream Curtain loves chillwave so much that the project keeps making hazy, woozy, reverb-heavy, summery slices of wonder.

2. “Strange Feeling” – Panama. The ’80s influence is strong with this one. Piano, synths, a move-your-feet beat? It’s all happening on this yacht, y’all.

3. “Mountain (Alternate Version)” – Driftwood Miracle. What was a churning, heavy emo track is transformed into a lounge-y, chilled-out track with wah guitar and silky keys. It’s suprisingly fun and only a bit cheesy.

4. “Conquer It All” – Afterlife Parade. U2 and Coldplay influences abound in this upbeat indie-rock track, but it’s far more enjoyable than Coldplay’s “Magic.”

5. “Clearhead Real” – Plateau Below. Starts out a chill, spare guitar-pop track, turns into a big ‘ol guitar-rock stomper. (Bonus: The album art is a striking representation of the sound.)

6. “Bad News” – Slinger Francisco. I listened to a lot of Tooth & Nail Records pop-rock in the early 2000s, and Slinger Francisco takes me back to those heady days of MAE and Watashi Wa. Pop-rock arrangements with an emo heart and pop-punk vocal melodies.

7. “Cruel to Be Kind” – The Worriers. Alternately sneering and jubilant, hyperkinetic Aussies The Worriers come off like a Southern Hemispheric answer to The Vaccines.

8. “Why It Stopped Raining” – The Bacchanales. Frantic Southern rock with a ’90s bent — from Australia.

9. “Melt” – HEYROCCO. Another tune full of mid-’90s guitar crunch, this one tells the story of teenage (?) romance at the highest possible volume. That chorus is towering, catchy, and even sweet.

10. “Bells of Paonia” – The Fresh and Onlys. Walls of guitars have rarely sounded so warm and inviting. A truly touching shoegaze-inspired tune.

11. “Cherry Tigers” – Low Forms. A straight-ahead rock’n’roll charger. Low Forms is a duo coming right out of Minnesota, where they know a thing or two about noisy indie rock.

12. “Electric Feet” – 28 Boulevard. You want a big, happy rock song? Here’s a big, happy rock song.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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