November 21, 2012
Yardwork are a band from North Carolina that I’ve never seen get any attention. To my increasing delight, they seem to be pretty active lately. Describing their sound can be a little difficult. First and foremost, I suppose they’re a folk band. Yet, at the same time, they seem to appeal to twinkly emo fans equally well. They’ve got a huge sound and the music captures much of the energy of punk and hardcore without being abrasive or agressive in the slightest. I know, it sounds like a pretty forced combination on paper, but I’ll bet that just 30 seconds of this album is all it takes for you to feel it. This is a great band with a unique sound and they should be way bigger than they are.
August 20, 2012
When I saw Des Ark play on their tour with Pygmy Lush in the Spring of 2011, I was blown away by the versatility of singer/song-writer Aimee Argote. The band blew everyone’s hair back with three or four energetic songs as a full band, then rushed to the center of the crowd with acoustic instruments in hand. After a handful of hushed, intimate acoustic songs sang in an almost campfire fashion, the trio returned to their electric instruments for a manic, rowdy finale. Two of the acoustic songs really made an impression on me, and I scoured the internet for recordings for weeks following the show, but to no avail. I had all but forgotten about it until I heard Des Ark’s recently posted Daytrotter Session. Lucky me, the last two songs are the songs I fell in love with over a year ago and have not heard since. The performance really illustrates that Aimee is just as talented as a folk singer/song-writer as any other style of music she chooses to play.
May 1, 2012
Little Big League is a relatively new band from Philly with ex-members of Titus Andronicus and Stranded Oaks. Bright, airy guitars play off of pounding rhythms and excellent female vocals to create a sound that reminds me a lot of old Death Cab For Cutie, but with an added dose of atmospheric emo. The band just released their 2 song debut 7″. Also linked below is their brand new Key Studio Session, where you can stream and download 4 songs, 2 of which are unreleased. If this debut is an accurate portrayal of things to come, I expect big things out of Little Big League.
January 25, 2012
As you know, we here at bws are big Teenage Cool Kids fans and fans of anything those former/current(?) Dentonians touch. Here’s a prime example. One of Andrew Savage’s new projects is this noisy, psych-punk project known as Parquet Courts. The content is pretty varied, ranging from Woodsist influenced psychedelics to more straight-forward punk. The weirdness of Guided by Voices dry-rubbed with Sonic Youth’s more punk influences would be the best way to describe it. This may not be for everyone’s palette, but it’s tickling my taste buds. Pick up a copy from Night Moves Cassettes by emailing : nightmovin [at] gmail.com.
December 23, 2010
Really excited about this one. 3 new songs from Willimantic, Connecticut’s atmospheric emo/indie band. I’ve spoken to a few people who haven’t listened to this band because they were turned off by their name alone, and if you’re in that boat, knock it off. Their last EP “Formlessness” was so damn good. The only complaint I have about this release is that it’s way too short. As soon as you get into it, it’s pretty much over. But hey, it’s free, so download it anyway.
November 1, 2010
While we’re on the subject of Teenage Cool Kids, here are three new songs from their upcoming full-length. Denton After Sunset, as of now, is devoid of a release date or reportable track listing. These songs are Teenage Cool Kids at their most refined but least polished since Remember Me as a Silhouette. Still present are all the catchy riffs that we’ve come to expect from TCK, in all of their lo-fi glory. What’s changed the most seems to be Andy Savage’s vocal delivery. These songs showcase a Stephen Malkmus-like disinterest; a definite departure from some of TCK’s earlier work. This newest material also utilizes dynamics in a much more subtle fashion than what was heard on tracks such as “Exile in La Mancha” from 2009′s Foreign Lands. I’m excited to hear what the rest of Denton After Sunset will reveal about the never-ending Teenage Cool Kids evolution.
June 16, 2010
Just beneath the surface of a thread of lyrical comparisons between the Civil War and Titus Andronicus vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stickles’ time spent outside of the confines of his love/hate relationship with his home state of New Jersey, Titus Andronicus takes all the raw energy of The Airing of Grievances and expands upon it. The result is one of the most honest, intense, and masterful albums of the year. Sonically, Titus Andronicus takes the currently popular, yet extremely boring, lo-fi garage sound, throws in some shoegaze elements, and packs as much emotion and intensity into it, leaving the listener’s jaw hanging slack and eyes glazed over. During their two full-length album career, Titus Andronicus has garnered comparisons to the Conor Oberst-fronted band Desaparacidos and fellow New Jersey resident Bruce Springsteen. Shrugging off such comparisons, Titus Andronicus simply do what they know how to do best: play with unmatched passion.
The album opens with “A More Perfect Union,” an introduction to the intricate, yet crunchy guitar work overlapped by Stickles’ signature shouting/singing combination that characterizes the rest of The Monitor. The most memorable moment of this track comes in about halfway through with the group-sung “oohs,” “nahs,” and “yeahs.” Next, the listener is pummeled by the track “Titus Andronicus Forever.” Never has a line repeated so many times rung so true as the one in this song, “The enemy is everywhere!” While walking around a party last weekend, trying not to drown in the alcohol-soaked breath of hundreds of my idiot classmates, I couldn’t help but come to the same exact conclusion.
Despite the fact that the next 5 songs all last over 5 minutes each, never is the listener’s attention lost. From the building climaxes of “No Future, Part Three: Escape from No Future” that highlight the ability of drummer Eric Harms, to the rollicking “Richard II,” this section of the album features enough diversity in song structure alone to stave off the all-too-common sophomore album slump. “Four Score and Seven,” although slow to build and finally break into chaos, is a definite album high point with an ending that features heavily distorted and reverbed tremolo guitar work buried deep beneath the riot-inducing line, “It’s still us against them.” By the end of the song, you find that your own throat is hoarse from screaming along. Not to be confined to any single genre, Titus Andronicus then take the listener down the drunken, country-twang drenched “Theme from Cheers.” Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the greatest party anthem ever written, complete with lyrics to put the best of toasts to shame. When listening, it’s impossible for images of hazy nights with friends, filled with red-eyed singing and swaying to songs from generations past, to not be conjured up.
Unbelievably, there is only one dismissible song on the entire album. “To Old Friends and New” simply leaves something to be desired. The slow, piano-driven track just doesn’t fit with the flow of the rest of the songs on this half of the album. Instead it slows the pace to a tear-induced crawl. In a feeble attempt to add some sort of variety to a rather boring track, Vivian Girls’ vocalist Cassie Ramone lends her voice to the track. Although Ramone’s voice is beautiful, it does nothing to compliment Stickles’ scratchy, cigarette-scarred voice and ends up feeling a bit awkward.
After revisiting the themes from “Titus Andronicus Forever” on “…And Ever,” the album concludes with Titus Andronicus’ coup de grâce, “The Battle of Hampton Roads.” Lyrically, this track once again begins by using a Civil War analogy to describe Stickles’ war-like struggle with himself, his family, his friends, and every other human being on the planet. During the course of the monstrous, crashing 14 minute long track, Stickles delves into the themes of existentialism, nailing the laments of every middle-class twenty-something listener realizing the world isn’t all that it once appeared to be. Somehow, despite using lines such as, “I’ve a hand and a napkin when I’m looking for sex / and that’s no one to talk to when feeling depressed,” Stickles manages to walk the fine line of identifying with the listener through deeply personal lyrics: a mark of many of the greatest songwriters. The song concludes with beautiful trumpets and bagpipes over Stickles’ softly sung final lines.
The Monitor is a force to be reckoned with; rarely slowing to a dull roar and impregnated with more emotion than one could find in the entirety of the rest of today’s independent music scene. Titus Andronicus continues to breathe new life into indie and punk, reminding listeners what makes both genres great, leaving them with the ability to honestly say and believe, “Titus Andronicus forever.”