With the hazy fuzz of a warm lo-fi melody and a unique falsetto, Woods relaxes you, providing that simple but effective musical medicine. “Pushing Onlys” is just one example of this formula on Woods’ album “Sun and Shade,” the Brookyln based band’s fourth LP. Not much more to say but listen and repeat.
While the cold and wet weather outside is dampening moods, “Day Glo” is worlds away, a cheery summer song about a care-free, almost nostalgic time in your life. Immediately, you are drawn in with the folksy roots of a simple acoustic guitar riff played over a chordal piano accompaniment. The song grows off this simple opening, as you drift slowly down a river of calm.
Brazos is largely the product of Martin Crane, a proud Austin alum that was apparently having a pretty good time when he wrote this song. It may lack an originality, but it more than makes up for it by perfecting the simple song craftsmanship that composes this straightforward folk gem.
The innocent lyrics and vocals of a girl struggling through the pitfalls of high school drama may seem like a tired subject, but Computer Magic succeeds in taking this tried and true subject and making it into a an addicting song-scape that demands replay after replay.
What stands out most in this teenage ballad is the enigmatic refrain of “I don’t know, I generally don’t know anything” an axiom so true, bordering on cliche but given life by the infectious voice of Danielle “Danz” Johnson. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes her voice stand out in a crowd, but something about it just lends perfectly to the song, making the opening “bomp-bomps” of the song a sweet beginning to a growing structure of sounds and instruments that builds, collapses and rebuilds itself all over again.
Computer Magic took flight in 2010 as the solo project of 22-year-old Danielle Johnson, who like everyone else these days, hails from Brooklyn, NY. There are no tour dates on the horizon for this DJ/blogger turned musician but in the mean time enjoy “Teenage Ballad (High School).”
No matter where you find yourself when you hear it, “Sleepless” makes you stop what you are doing and focus on this unbelievably haunting tale of complete and utter loneliness and depression in the face of that loved one that pushed you away. While Jessica Lea Mayfield’s songs usually carry an air of despair, nothing in her catalog or frankly most any artist carries the raw emotion she brings to the table. Lines like “I’m almost too lonely to speak” and “I think I’ve been left alone long enough to do something insane” cut to the core in a way that so many attempts have failed to capture. Her pristine voice, simple guitar strums and chilling steel guitar moans reflect her minimalist style that forgets the frills and goes straight for the tears.
It’s easy to write that depressing song that reflects a complete lack of hope but its another thing to avoid any traces of a cheesy over-dramatic cliche. “Sleepless” doesn’t even come close to this pitfall, as Jessica’s voice rings true. When you listen to “Sleepless” you inevitably assume that Jessica herself is in this terrible downward spiral and ask yourself what has driven her to this state. And how could you not when her lyrics and vocal inflections and styling lend this feeling of a personal cry for help, a reality that makes the song that much better.
This write-up could go on forever and I feel I wouldn’t be able to do the song justice. The song certainly speaks for itself so I’ll shut up and let you listen.
Now that your day has been completely ruined by this black cloud of misery, get yourself out of that fetal position, dry your tears and seek an emotional 180 with her song Blue Skies Again, another cut from “Tell Me” that serves as a complete antithesis to this ballad.
- Will Guerin
On my first run through of Atlas Sound’s newest release, Parallax, the brainchild of Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox, I immediately found myself drawn to the closing track on the album. When the melody is just right, catchy but in a original way, something always feels so familiar about a song, a near Déjà vu like feeling. This familiarity on “Lightworks” is bred from the beautiful, calming sound scape that emerges during Cox’s carefree, melodic hook, a series of oohs and ahhs that poses the irresistible urge to follow him in this sugary sweet vocal slide. This beautiful vocal melody, the building harmonica solo and upbeat tempo play into the song’s function as the soundtrack for a sun filled summer jaunt along the sea.
On Parallax, Cox often picks up where Halycon Digest left off, combining his soft, often distant vocals with his brilliant song-writing ability. But Atlas Sound carefully distances itself from from Deerhunter just enough, on some songs presenting more austere arrangements, dropping some shoegaze tendencies in favor of more traditional song craft. On others, like “Amplifiers” Cox branches out further, straying towards more abstract and strange sounds.
For other great Parallax tracks check out “Mona Lisa” and the official single from the album “Te Amo,” not to be confused with the far superior Rihanna masterpiece song . In the meantime enjoy “Lightworks,” a lighter track on the somewhat gloomy “Parallax.”
- Will Guerin
Building off a lovely acoustic guitar riff, the song picks up harmonies and supporting layers that build on that “last chance, last drive” for a love that just isn’t going to work out, a sinking ship that is finally going down for good. The song is simply beautiful, and there really isn’t much else to say. It echoes nostalgia for better times, creating that bittersweet divide of happiness and lost memories. At times it borders on cheesy but it always draws itself back, presenting a real, emotional flavor.
Gold Old War are Pennsylvanian rockers Keith Goodwin, Daniel Schwartz, and Tim Arnold who cleverly combined their last names to form their band name. Good Old War is currently touring the US and a new album is on the horizon for this trio. In the meantime, enjoy “My Own Sinking Ship.”
Everyone needs to listen to this jangle pop, melodic, perfectly amazing song. TV Girl is a duo (sometimes trio) from San Diego, California. TV Girl released their second EP “Benny and the Jets” a couple months ago on Small Plates Records. Like many of the other buzz bands that seem to keep popping up on the indie music scene. But their fun and retro bubble-gum pop sound is so infectious, I am sure this band will be here to stay.
RIYL: The Generationals: When They Fight They Fight
RIYL: The Love Language: Brittany’s Back
The song is pretty simply, with a sparse, catchy guitar riff, a nice drum beat and Ruban Neilson who joins in later, vocally imitating the guitar in the chorus, all with that lo-fi rough tinged edge of static. The song does nothing truly mind-blowing but it sticks to the basics and provides a solid, get stuck in your head, gritty semi-psychedelic indie pop/rock song.
These Portland based rockers recently ran through Athens in support of Toro Y Moi, along with Bass Drum of Death. If you enjoy ” FFunny Friends,” their self-titled album is definitely worth checking out, especially the funkadelic, falsetto “How Can U Luv Me,” featuring more of the band’s spelling deficiencies. Anyways, enjoy, and remark on how I didn’t say “they won’t be Unknown for much longer” and check out their official music video for the song (Or does that count?).
The wood block drum beat intro and clarinet like trills fit nicely in the song, agreeing well with the slinking feel of the chorus, that evokes a strange dance pattern in the back of mead which features smooth shoulder rolls. The catchy chorus also features a distinct euphony with its lyrics, a strange assortment of images that roll nicely off the tongue. I’m not sure what about the song gives me a Jurassic feel, perhaps its the title or the primitive drum beat, but I just can’t shake that this is the dinosaur song.
Dinosaur song or not, the catchy melodies of this song and the rest of Burning Bush Supper Club make Brooklyn based rockers Bear Hands. If you hear a resemblance to fellow indie-poppers MGMT, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that front man Dylan Rau was classmates with MGMT’s VanWyngarden and Goldwasser at Wesleyan.
Bear Hands recently came to the 40 Watt, oddly opening for Motion City Soundtrack, fresh off their set at DelunaFest. If you are dying for some more animal based appendages, be sure to check out some of their other songs like “Crime Pays” and “What A Drag.” Anyways, enjoy!
Oh wow, how original, another song of love gone bad for the song of the day. While this may be some sort of Freudian reflection on my subconscious, I think it is far more likely that the heartache borne of love result in the best songs. “A Stone” is no different, as Will Sheff proudly displays his emotionally drenched vocals, in which each verse can become a howling anthem of pain just through his sheer vocal force. And that emotion is so beautifully expressed through Sheff’s poetic lyricism, which create a wealth of meaning
A Stone represents that “Is She Really Going Out With Him” Joe Jackson guy, that cold, heartless “knave” who doesn’t even begin to emotionally connect with the girl of your dreams. Think in terms of the Office, specifically Roy and Pam’s relationship, where Roy is that stone, a selfish, hard tempered man who Pam inexorably loves, despite the true love that Jim represents, that she just can’t seem to leave a dependable stone for. And while comparing that song to the Office is slight blasphemy, it provides a true parallel of this frustrating truth of cupid’s arrow stinging the wrong people. The line “and if it could start being alive you’d stop living alone” speaks to this point, dehumanizing the stone while pointing out just how empty and emotionless the relationship is.
The lyric “And I think that I know the bitter dismay of a lover who brought fresh brouquets every daywhen she turned him awayto remember some knave who once gave just one rose, one day, years ago” sums up the song best. Because despite all the sense in the world, you are still left out in the cold, starring in from the outside on what it would be like. You are the “flame, hot breath, rough skin, warm laughs and smiling, the lovliest words whispered and meant” that she just likes, not loves.
When Okkervil River graced the 40 Watt’s stage, this song was stripped down of all instrumentation save Sheff and his acoustic guitar, elevating the raw emotion to a make you cry in public type of affair. While Okkervil River may best be known for upbeat jams like “Unless It’s Kicks” and “Our Life is a Movie or Maybe” this ballad showcases Okkervil River at its best, true emotion colliding with beautiful lyricism.