posted by Rod on Tue Aug 26, 11:31 AM
The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
"[T]hat album title is brilliantly apropos for both the song-factory connotations and intimations of violence: here, the New Pornographers resemble not so much a supergroup as a gang, wielding hooks like shivs, guitar riffs like machine guns, and synths like laser beams. The opening title track isn't just a blown-out bubblegum pop song made from a box full of Bazooka Joes—it's a swarming, instantly thrusting you into a dizzying flurry of 'bo-ba-ba-bo' harmonies coming at you from all sides. The steady beat of latter-day New Pornographers may remain, but it's delivered with the force of a body check. While greatly indebted to pop movements of the past—from '60s psychedelia to '70s glam to '80s new wave—the New Pornographers have never felt like a purely retro exercise, their best songs too jacked-up and exuberant to lapse into studious classicism. But Brill Bruisers feels like their most contemporary recording to date, and a great deal of credit for that lies with the person who, historically, has been the one least likely to be mentioned in a New Pornographers review— Blaine Thurier—and fellow keyboardist Kathryn Calder. In contrast to Together's cello-dramatic sound, Brill Bruisers foregrounds their playing, not to opportunistically recast the band as au courant synth-pop, but to restore the forward momentum that was in scarcer supply on recent records, from the starbursts that propel Case's daydreamy turn on 'Champions of Red Wine' to the zippy oscillations that power Bejar's triumphant 'War on the East Coast' to the meaty tones that lend the authoritative march of 'Backstairs' (the band's most imposing rocker to date) a little extra spring in its goosestep. ... As legend has it, when recording the New Pornographers’ 2000 debut, Mass Romantic, Newman's primary instruction to Case was to 'sing like a robot'; with the futurist sound of Brill Bruisers, the whole band embraces a more electric version of itself—bulked-up in chrome-plated armor, firing on all cylinders, and ready to steamroll anything in its path." - Stuart Berman, Pitchfork
Shovels & Rope - Swimmin' Time
"Not unlike their 2012 breakthrough album O' Be Joyful, Shovels & Rope's second album for Dualtone, 2014's Swimmin' Time, suggests Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst bought some privately published guidebook on 'How To Write and Records Americana Music Like The Professionals' and have carefully followed the template to the letter. The arrangements have the correct balance of rootsy acoustic flavors and messed-up electric noise, the melodies are steeped in tradition but have a self-consciously clever indie rock edge, and the lyrics deal with the usual themes of natural disasters, human failings, small town eccentricities, and our land's checkered past. But if there aren't a lot of surprises in terms of theme and approach, Swimmin' Time confirms that skill of execution is Shovels & Rope's saving grace -- Trent and Hearst are both fine vocalists, and sound truly splendid when they lay out some rough, sweet harmonies. The duo also took on most of the instrumental work on these sessions, and they generate a commendably swampy groove, even when they lay on a fistful of overdubs to fill out the melodies. And just because these songs follow paths that have been traveled many times before by many other acts doesn't change the fact Trent and Hearst can come up with a really good one every once in a while, such as the ragged but romantic 'Pinned' and 'Mary Ann and One Eyed Dan.' You've almost certainly heard other acts do what Shovels & Rope do on Swimmin' Time plenty of times; the difference is, this duo can do it better than most, and that's enough to keep them going until they're capable of developing a more unique personality to call their own." - Mark Deming, All Music
Ty Segall - Manipulator
There's one entire year separating Ty Segall's last album, Sleeper, and his new one, Manipulator. That might as well be an eternity for Segall, whose prolificacy has yielded some of the best, most paradoxically evolved garage rock of the decade so far. If there's one thing that can be said about Manipulator, it doesn't waste those whopping 12 months of gestation. His most inclusive, expansive album to date, it coaxes textures and touches territories he's been inching toward for many a moon. And he brings it together in a crowd-pleasing package. All the Segall basics remain: mildly psychedelic retro-rock with nods to noisy, proto-metal riffage and frizzy folk. But they've been more clearly separated, delineated, and enhanced. Even the quiet songs like the Syd Barrett-esque 'Don’t You Want To Know? (Sue)' and the silky, funky 'Mister Main,' sound assertively swaggering and loud; the loud songs sound simply colossal. 'The Crawler' writhes on a hotbed of distorted fuzz, while 'Susie Thumb' sports a beehive of dueling, blown-out guitar solos straight out of a Blue Cheer jam session. Segall's voice is supple and taunting, dipping from pastel-painted daydream to Technicolor fever-dream without a stutter. What's strikingly new is the way Segall has punched up and sharpened his quirks and quizzicality. This is Segall in HD, and all the nuances make for a more vivid, yet at times more plastic, listening experience." - Jason Heller, The AV Club
J Mascis - Tied To A Star
"As singer and guitarist for Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis presides over a sound that can be skull-splittingly loud and intense, especially onstage. It feels strange to describe Tied to a Star as a 'quiet' record, even by simple comparison, but for the most part Mascis' new solo album feels downright delicate. Though not entirely unplugged, Tied to a Star showcases the soft intricacy of a veteran craftsman who knows when to hang back and decide to pulverize another day. Mascis has shown this sort of versatility before, but rarely with such straight-ahead beauty in his arsenal. There's always been a gnarled quality to his voice that seems better aligned with his eardrum-obliterating electric side, but on Tied to a Star Mascis nicely nurtures the gentle fragility of his falsetto. With its light, intricate acoustic picking, 'Wide Awake' sounds plenty gorgeous before Chan Marshall shows up to make listeners wish that she and Mascis would record an album of duets. (Let's be honest, though: Marshall should record an album of duets with everyone.) In a messy, epic recording career that's about to enter its fourth decade, Mascis has never shed his capacity to travel in unexpected directions. On the sweet, shaggily swooning Tied to a Star, the jolts tend to come from the music's simple beauty — and from the occasional reminder, as in 'Every Morning,' that Mascis can still let an epic electric solo rip whenever the mood strikes." - Stephen Thompson, NPR
Royal Blood - Royal Blood
"It's all in the details. There's a moment about halfway through Royal Blood's self-titled debut towards the end of the creepy 'Blood Hands' when, rather than his usual skin-pounding assault, drummer Ben Thatcher reverts to a surprisingly hushed tap-tap-tap to accompany Mike Kerr's drawl and low-slung riff. Much of what has been written and said so far about this Brighton duo focuses on the noise and guts of their two-pronged assault and the idea that it amounts to far more than a two-piece should be capable of. But their excellent debut proves that‚ like all the best heavy music, it's the moments of vulnerable calm that elevate noisy bands highest. There's light, shade and careful nuance throughout. The crushing riffs of 'Little Monster' and 'Out Of The Black' might turn heads, but it's the dynamics of 'Ten Tonne Skeleton' or the deft melody in 'You Can Be So Cruel' that hold the attention. That's not to say Royal Blood isn't an absolute turbo-bastard of a rock record, though. Supercharged early singles 'Little Monster' and 'Come On Over' have blasted their way to the forefront of both rock and indie circles largely because, even at their simplest, this band are startlingly effective. Thanks to their employment of the base constituents of what is, at heart, an extremely simple genre, it's possible to throw a dart at the listings for any local venue in the country and find a band who sound similar to Royal Blood. Crucially, though, most of those will have less than one percent of the power."
Basement Jaxx - Junto
"Man alive, the last five years have seen some dramatic shifts in the dance music scene. When last we saw Felix Burton and Simon Ratcliffe on a proper Basement Jaxx record, they were finishing out a full decade of releasing dance music with not one, but two incredible full length records. One, Scars, was a traditional Jaxx record in that every track was so far ahead of its time the world didn't know what to do with it (see: Dev Hynes on 'My Turn,' Yoko on the bizarro 'Day of the Sunflowers,' and 2-step integration of 'twerk' four years prior to the term's full gentrification). The other, Zephyr, was a downtempo collection of latin and jazz, because why not? Glance through the other four records that Jaxx dropped in the nine years prior and you'll find more maximalist dance music gold. I mean, really, would pop music – not just dance music, but mainstream pop – look anything like it does today without records like Rooty and Kish Kash? Always at least three or four years ahead of their competition, Basement Jaxx spent the entirety of the aughts in the future while everyone else attempted to catch up. So, all of that brings us to Junto. After the group’s longest break from releasing a proper LP (they were busy in the space between scoring the wonderful UK sci-fi film Attack The Block and collaborating on orchestral arrangements of Jaxx classics, not to mention operating their imprint), they return with a conscious integration into the present day scene. Junto, together, in this moment – that's where the Jaxx meet us in 2014. In turn, Junto may be one of the most immediately arresting records the band has ever released. An eclectic and brilliant mixture as colorful and engaging as ever, Junto adds another check to a near-perfect track record, and there's no doubt that fans will love every minute." - Gerrit Feenstra, KEXP
Robyn Hitchcock - The Man Upstairs
"Veteran pop eccentric Robyn Hitchcock has long looked to Syd Barrett as a key antecedent, so it makes sense for him to team up with 'Arnold Layne' producer Joe Boyd for this collection of covers and originals. But Boyd's work with artists like Nick Drake is a better reference point here; the producer blends Hitchcock's gruffly expressive voice with acoustic guitars, melancholy cello and gentle harmonies from Norway's Anne Lise Frøkedal, often to gorgeous effect. Not everything clicks, but Hitchcockian takes on songs like Roxy Music's 'To Turn You On,' the Psychedelic Furs' 'The Ghost in You' and his own 'Trouble in Your Blood' are hushed and lovely." - Rob Brunner, Rolling Stone
posted by Rod on Tue Aug 26, 09:25 AM
Happy 70th Birthday to the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker! Who else was born on this day?
posted by Rod on Mon Aug 25, 04:29 PM
Our favorite twin sister act will be debuting a selection of new songs when they rock the Showbox on September 10th! Wanna go? Enter to win a pair of tickets by e-mailing us with the subject line "Here's the Deals" and please include first & last name with entry. We'll draw a winner on 9/8. Good luck!
posted by Rod on Mon Aug 25, 04:22 PM
Royal Blood's eponymous debut dropped today and we're super excited about it! And we're not the only ones sold on this ferocious, bluesy duo from Brighton...NME proclaimed Royal Blood "was easily the biggest breakout band from Reading and Leeds Festival 2014," and went on to say, "A two-piece Queens of the Stone Age; a tough, British Black Keys; The White Stripes with added commercial polish – whichever way you want to see them, Royal Blood's continued ascent seems about as sure a bet as they come." We've got their debut on sale now for only $11.99 and to sweeten the pot, we're giving away a 12x12 canvas print of the cover art and a Royal Blood t-shirt! Enter to win by e-mailing us with the subject line "Little Monster" and please include first & last name with entry. Winner must be able to pick up prize at our West Seattle store. Good luck!
posted by Rod on Mon Aug 25, 02:43 PM
In the words of Swans founder Michael Gira: "I started Swans in 1982 in NYC. At the time, I had no musical skills whatsoever, just instinct and a need to make something happen. The music changed constantly over the years, and I'm gratified it reached, and continues to reach, a fair number of people. After 15 years, I decided to end Swans [in 1997], as the name had become a burden and the associations no longer fit with what I wanted to do into the future." Luckily for us, Gira felt the need to scratch that particular itch one more time, and reformed Swans in 2010. Since then, they've released three albums, so Gira's burden must be lifted. Swans are coming to the Showbox on September 4th, and as with any band of their vintage, it could always be the last time. The fabulous Carla Bozulich (ex-Geraldine Fibbers) is also on the bill, so it will surely be a night for the books! Enter to win tickets by e-mailing us with the subject line "To Be Kind" and please include first & last name with entry. We'll draw a winner on 9/2. Good luck!
Rather play it safe? Buy tickets here!
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