There is a moment on Tame Impala’s sophomore album, Lonerism, when I realized that I was listening to one of the best psychedelic rock albums of the year. When the fourth track, “Mind Mischief”, transitions from a catchy guitar groove to full-on harmonic bliss at the two-minute mark, I also realized that this one of 2012’s best albums of any genre. Lonerism is stuffed to the brim with transcendent moments such as this; crammed with imaginative details exploding off of warmly fuzzed-out guitars, bouncing bass lines, and heavily reverberating vocals. An important difference between this effort and Tame Impala’s debut, Innerspeaker, is the dominance of synthesizer and keyboards throughout. While Innerspeaker used keyboards to accent and surround many of the songs in a haze, Lonerism is happy to utilize them side by side with the guitars, in many cases completely taking the lead as the driving force.
It’s easy to peg a band many classify as “psychedelic rock” as entrenched in the past. This is simply not the case with Tame Impala. The songs here are based off of elements I could identify as “psych” or “prog”, but at no point could I picture this music coming from decades prior. Something about this band is completely modern and fresh sounding. Much could be said about this album’s lyrical content being laser-focused on themes of loneliness, isolation, and general outsider tendencies. The vocals, while quite catchy, also seem to have a lazily bittersweet current coursing through them. However, the music is so inviting and huge that it is nearly impossible to come away without a smile after finishing the record’s 52 minutes. Lonerism is one of the year’s most essential pop albums, and one that sounds destined for classic status.
Listen to stand out tracks “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Elephant” below.
Watch this amazing cover of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by the PS22 Chorus from NYC. This displays the pop brilliance of these songs.
Wild Nothing is the dream pop project conceived by Jack Tatum in his college dorm room about 3 years ago. What began as a solo project, and remains in terms of songwriting and recording, has been fleshed out with a full live band. They have just released their second full length album, Nocturne, slightly over a week ago through the indie label Captured Tracks.
The style that Tatum has perfected over the last few years draws from the C86 mixtape style that NME created as a way to classify a group of UK bands in 1986 and in turn promote the readership of their magazine through the “discovery of a new genre”. The genre stemmed from the post-punk and new wave of the late 70s/early 80s and is obviously indebted to shoegaze which puts the former genres through walls of reverb and other effects, with heavy padding from cheap synthesizers. Tatum and the band have mastered the pop side of this genre, wearing their influences, like their hearts, on their sleeves. The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo and the Bunnymen and Cocteau Twins would be great starting points to see where this style came from.
I am off to see the band tonight at the Great American Music Hall here in San Francisco. If you’re interested in seeing them live, take a look at their tour dates here, where you can also sample some of their older material.
Stream the entire new album, Nocturne, below. Stand out tracks include, “Shadow”, “Nocturne”, “Paradise” and “The Blue Dress”.
Sally is full of indie-pop fun. Based right out of New York City, this group creates bouncy, bubbly pop that pulls from acts such as Nighttime Adventure Society and The Moldy Peaches. The band offers up a new six-song EP We Are In A Car that smartly distills their cutesy ethos.
Opener “We Are In A Car” features an intricate and fleet drum line bellied up with jangly guitars and singer Kristen Gudsnuk’s honey-dipped voice, and will leave you smiling. “A Summer Song”, eloquently composed with textures similar to the first track’s, speaks to the heartache from the loss of summer romance. Here, songwriter Jordan Cooper is mining a powerful pop sensibility.
But it is on the third track, “Friends Are Foes,” that Cooper really hits his stride. With a scratchy vocal filter, Gudsnuk lets her inner punk out with distorted guitar wails to match, making this one of the most fun moments on this release. “Head On Your Neck” channels 1960s girl-groups with its dance-ready composition. Take this one to the beach for sunbathing weekends.
The EP wraps up with “Another Lesson,” putting a bow on the bubblegum folk that Sally has curated through the six songs. While this release doesn’t offer a huge variety or particularly unique instrumentation, it rides on the strength of Gudsnuk’s honest vocals and Cooper’s cheery songwriting. The EP is unique in its execution, with the longest of six songs being under three minutes, and the majority of them under two. Writing these short pop songs is unique in the landscape of current indie music, with too many bands unleashing sprawling and dragging epics. With We Are In A Car, Sally proves that you don’t need much to craft beautiful indie pop. If you’re looking for something spunky for your summer playlist, look no further than Sally.
Vice Count is a New York based Alt-Rock band with heavy Blues and Classic Rock sensibilities. If you like your rock, to actually ummmm ROCK, then you’ll appreciate their riff-centric approach. Formerly known as The Viscounts, until further research revealed conflict with the name, the band has been hard at work in the studio writing and recording new material. From the sounds of the first song released, “Peripheral Vision”, the band is ready to continue their conquest of the city. The melody flows smoothly from guitar to vocals and back again, never ceasing and keeping your interest from beat one. Give a listen below, and make sure to catch their upcoming show at Tammany Hall on Thursday, August 2nd.
Here is your chance to give a listen to the sophomore release, Here, by Folk-Pop darlings Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. While it hasn’t struck me quite as quickly as their debut album Up From Below, it is definitely another treasure trove of well written pop tunes that exude an overall feeling of peace, love and happiness. Listen to what may be the lead single, “That’s What’s Up”, below.
Stream the entire album over at NPR. The album is slated for release, next Tuesday, May 29th.
Also, check out our post about the band, from back in February here.
“Henrietta”, was posted online last week by We All Want Someone To Shout For. It is the latest song from Yeasayer, and was apparently sent in CD form to everyone on their mailing list. Give it a listen. I think the band has plenty of great material left in them, even after putting out two really great albums to launch their career.