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”.
We’ll conclude the week with another banger from a group with a strong female presence. Just like St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs and Yukimi from Little Dragon, the vocals sung by Dirty Projectors‘ Amber Coffman on “Stillness Is The Move” are heavily influenced by 90′s R&B. Even the beat is distinctly influenced by R&B and Hip-Hop from the 90′s, but when juxtaposed with Dave Longstreth’s inventive West African tinged guitar riff the result is shockingly strange yet mesmerizing. When Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne, is your #1 fan you know you’ve stumbled upon something brilliant. Former members include Rostam Batmanglij and Ezra Koenig of current Vampire Weekend fame.
The band recently announced they’ll be touring the U.S. this summer, with dates in 33 cities. See the dates here.
Annie Clark is another insanely creative female indie pop artist that has really changed the game over the last few years like tUnE-yArDs‘ Merrill Garbus. She goes by the stage name St. Vincent, and her virtuosic guitar playing is matched by her commanding vocals and brilliant knack for catchy songwriting, poetic lyrics and quirky melodies. The 29 year old Texas native, and Berklee dropout, is a former member of Alt. Rock stalwarts, The Polyphonic Spree. That’s quite the pedigree. Watch the lead single, “Surgeon”, off her third album Strange Mercy, which was released this past September on 4AD Records and see if she lives up to the hype. I think so.
Also, for those of you lucky enough to live in the Southwest or the Bay Area, you can catch Annie and Merrill together as they co-headline 4 shows, aside from both being at each weekend of this year’s Coachella festival. Tour dates can be seen here.
I had heard the band would be getting back together to perform at Coachella, but I was unaware that they were performing anymore dates than the two scheduled out in Indio for the festival. Apparently they performed last night in Austin as part of a three show Texas warm up for their festival dates here and abroad throughout the summer. It’s really hard to pick a favorite from their masterpiece album Relationship of Command, but I always really loved “Invalid Litter Dept.”. It’s not as aggressive as most of the rest of the album, but it’s just as heavy and dark as any other song, and definitely foreshadowed the direction The Mars Volta would take after the split up of At The Drive-In. It was definitely the missing link between the more punk driven sound of ATDI and the more progressive, Pink Floyd influenced sound singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez hoped to achieve with The Mars Volta. You can read and watch a synopsis of last night’s show here, courtesy of Consequence Of Sound.
Keeping it Cali. I have to say even though many consider Brooklyn the most active area for up and coming indie bands, there have been a plethora of great acts coming out of the Golden State in the last few years that aren’t just riding the buzz you can catch by merely residing in the hipster capitol of the world. Long Beach garage rockers Crystal Antlers are like many of their West Coast contemporaries in that the swirling psychedelia of the mid-late 60′s heavily informs their aesthetic. For many the direct origins of what your hearing in this young band would be the 13th Floor Elevators, but Crystal Antlers have expanded on that style and give a nod to another seminal 60′s proto-punk band, The Velvet Underground. The droning and walls of noise they produce are much grander in scale, as is the natural progression of any style. I mean where can you go after Sonic Youth? It obviously has to be slightly louder, slightly noisier, slightly more abrasive.
Listen to “A Thousand Eyes” off their 2008 self-titled EP, Crystal Antlers.
If you live in the Southwest make sure to catch the band as they join Sleepy Sun for six of the shows on their tour. The dates are below:
So from melody driven bands carrying the essence of psychedelia and the spirit of California, we will shift gears to bands whose psychedelia is more overt, heavier and darker. The first time I posted about Sleepy Sun, the song was one of their lighter, more acoustic based tunes, that definitely draws from the same vibe as Devendra Banhart’s freak-folk. Unlike Banhart, who primarily stays in that zone, Sleepy Sun leans more on rock, yet it differs from Howlin’ Rain, Blitzen Trapper and The Mother Hips as it’s ties to blues and other roots styles is much less direct. The sound is obscured by more stylistic use of effects and darker tones.
Below is a trailer that shows the band hard at work in a studio in the iconic desert near Joshua Tree. They are gearing up to release their third studio album, Spine Hits, on Tuesday, April 10th. I heard about this first from the nice folks over at Relix. From what we hear in this brief clip, it sounds as if the band is pushing their sound in slightly different direction. It will be really interesting to see if it retains enough of their core, while incorporating enough new ground to be a success.
The band will be touring the country in anticipation and support of the new album. Here are some dates in the Northeast: