So a few days’ delay but here are the latest gems from a very busy past month. Hopefully you enjoyed the live break, and as summer is about to end (at least for K&J) I am excited about this latest batch of great tunes.
Bangor, Northern Island’s Two Door Cinema Club follow up their last, Tourist History (Irish Album of the Year 2010) with more very catchy melodic synth-influenced pop rock, that reminds you of the transition from summer to fall. The album opener, “Next Year” portends this change, about a love lost and hopefully regained. The rest of the album hums along, with some Coldplay like moments, but Alex Trimble’s distinct voice and catchy melodies remind you that this is a little more substance and less flash. Try “Someday,” “Sun” and title track, “Beacon.” Set to be released September 3, 2012.
The Vaccines are the greatest band in the world. Okay, maybe I just like them more than the average band. I know, they have not made much of an impact on your life, but Come of Age and the two EPs in the drop box, Please, Please Do Not Disturb and No Hope (the first single) should convince you that this very British sounding band deserves a place on your electronic listening devices. Reminding me somewhat of the Libertines with a little more energy, I have been listening to this record non-stop since it was first leaked. Now headlining some of the biggest festivals in Europe, the Vaccines second album, I predict will likely make them huge. So, when they come to town – go see them. Terrific live show. See them at Glastonbury (entire show) : http://youtu.be/4OeqiHvESug, and when they come to your town (Troubadour September 13, Los Angeles). Please, Please Do Not Disturb was a free giveaway consisting of four covers recorded in various hotel rooms, “The Beast in Me” (Nick Lowe) “Mannequin” (Wire), “The Winner Takes It All” (Abba) “That Summer Feeling” (Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers).
Try “No Hope” (http://youtu.be/S_3eEPpmKwE ), “Teenage Icon” and “I Wish I Was A Girl.” Released September 3, 2012.
By now you have probably heard of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist art punk band that is going to jail for 2 years following its impromptu performance next to the altar at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of “Punk Prayer” on February 21, 2012. See it here: http://youtu.be/ALS92big4TY . Well you might not be able to make out the words unless you speak Russian, the songs are short, sharp, in the style of Cockney Rejects with some cabaret elements. Try: “Osvobodi bruschatku,” “Smert’ Tyur’me, Svobodu Protestu and “Putin Zassal.” I have also included an interview of the band discussing their detention – in Russian of course!
Gaslight Anthem is not new to the drop box. For good reason, the New Jersey band that is a cross between Against Me and Springsteen writes catchy melodic punk influenced rock songs that sound good in your car (or headphones). On this their fourth album, the New Brunswick, NJ based band have found their groove – this is an enjoyable summer record, beginning with opening track (and first single) “45” (http://youtu.be/oST77VRHXt0 ) and quickly followed by “Handwritten” (http://youtu.be/Lf-rEslupnY ) the album hums along. The pacing is amazing. Try, in addition to the above, “Mulholland Drive,” “Silver” (Nirvana cover), and “You Got Lucky” (Tom Petty cover) which are easily as good as the originals.
Red Kross are back and you are lucky. Original punk rockers from Hawthorne, CA, Red Kross (who were forced to change their name from Red Cross), wrote some of the best music in the late 70’s and 80’s new album picks up where they last left of with an amazing collection of garage punk and power pop rockers. Formed by the McDonald brothers in middle school, the band is so integral to California punk, and so often overlooked, this LP will give you a clue as to why the punk bands that you love now, owe a huge debt to this band. As they are touring to support this release, check them out in an intimate setting. Here they are performing on the Santa Monica Pier in 1982!: http://youtu.be/oGPMa6k4mFk . Try “Stay Away From Downtown” (http://youtu.be/6teoeHq6pig ) (Check out the Kiss makeup!), “Researching the Blues,” and “Only the Good Ones.”
Waitsfield, VT based Grace Potter and the Nocturnals started out as more of a jam band, but on The Lion The Beast The Beat the band has taken a detour amping up the melody, performing tightly melodic rock emphasizing the amazing vocals of Grace Potter (who does admittedly sound a little like Janis Joplin). Some of this record is a collaboration with the Black Keys Dan Auerbach, and that might explain the emphasis on more of a pop oriented focus on this album. The ballads are tight and the rockers rock, making this a thoroughly enjoyable record, which will likely bring the band to mainstream popularity. Try “Stars,” “Keepsake,” and “All over You.”
Blur probably does not need an introduction. However, following this performance at Hyde Park to close the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the release of a new single “Under the Westway,” this most English of Bands and founders of “Brit Pop” look to be back and relevant again. Damon Albarn (Gorrillaz, The Good The Bad & The Queen) and Graham Coxon have apparently found peace. This is an excellent live set covering almost all of Blur’s hits and you can hear the crowd fully involved singing along to every song. Some of you could pick your own hits off this record, but trying to stay away from the obvious, the best bets on this LP are “ This is a Low,” “Parklife” and new track, the lovely ballad, “Under The Westway.” (http://youtu.be/hNR4oM8uzro ) If you missed this band the first time around, well here is your second chance!
Sheffield, indie pop band The Crookes, are hook laden pop-meisters that have put out an album of upbeat catchy pop music that deserves a place in your heart. I defy you to not be sucked into the catchy sugar pop on this album. There is an air of the romantic 80’s pop first traversed by the Smiths, but it is obvious that these songs are not the tortured work of Morrissey copyists. Hold Fast, the bands second album, is highlighted by strong lyrically structures with its late 50’s early 60’s elements draped over crisp melodies. Try “Afterglow” (http://youtu.be/x-5-PVeWgIM), “Maybe in the Dark” (http://youtu.be/TppUoY4zpFQ ) and “American Girls.”
It may be me, but are D.O.A. getting better with age? Yes, I liked them when I was young (seeing them numerous times in Vancouver between 1978 and 1986 before I left town), but as these guys are now old like me, they still haven’t lost their flair for fun, punk rock and politics (no hockey on this record). The music is still vital and full of energy and Joe’s voice has aged, like a fine wine, getting better with age. (I’ve ignored the 90’s period for the band as those albums whiffed badly). This is a great follow up to D.O.A.’s last 2 records Kings of Punk, Hockey and Beer (2009) and Talk-Action=0 (2010) both which were thoroughly enjoyable. We Come in Peace is the bands 14th studio album with Joe Keithley as the sole remaining original member. With D.O.A. you know what you are getting – smart punk rock that mixes smart cynical (and often comical lyrics) with a melodic punk rock sound. This really is a great record. Try “Do You Wanna” “Bloodied But Unbowed” (I sang along to this on first listen!), and the amazing cover of Toxic Reasons “War Hero.”
Yet another terrific two piece band (The Black Keys and Japandroids being the other) JEFF The Brotherhood consists of brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall out of Nashville, Tennessee. Hypnotic Nights is the brothers 7th LP (are you asking yourself why you haven’t heard of them?) play Jesus and Mary Chain influenced indie pop that will have you dancing along as they play there brand of fuzzy pop. Try “Sixpack” (http://youtu.be/lunYo16vQhg ), “Leave Me Out,” and “Country Life.”
Described as an “alternative folk rock” band, Denver Colorado’s Lumineers really are something more, taking the best elements of alt country and strong songwriting to stand apart from similar veined bands such as Mumford & Sons (which are also not that bad, if a little overplayed). Try “Ho Hey” (http://youtu.be/zvCBSSwgtg4 ), “Stubborn Love” and “Classy Girls.”
In what can best be described as modern electronic pop (think Owl City), Purity Ring is one of the few auto tune records that managed to keep my attention. Perhaps it is just the fact that vocalist Megan James (from Halifax) and programmer Corin Roddick (from Montreal) recorded this record without every being together in the same room. The distance between makes for some interesting melodies and shows were modern pop music is really headed – as it is possible to record interesting music without a band or traditional instruments. What made this a great listen was that the music does not bludgeon you with perfection. That is, it is not pure verse, chorus, verse hit machine manufactured, but manages to capture some soul, a difficult task in this genre. Try “Fineshrine,” “Grandloves” and “Loftcries.”
Sebadoah is the touchstone for all indie music. If you first saw them in the late 80s or early 90s, then you recognize that Sebadoah was the rock in the still pool of water and the progenitor of what we call today as indie music. Along with Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. the band pioneered lo-fi and wrote and performed some of the most interesting music in rock. After a long period of silence, it appears that Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney and Jason Loewenstein (the classic lineup, which reformed in 2007) have something new to offer in the Secret EP which was released on bandcamp in July in advance of a new tour. Far to short, this is a great introduction to the band. Try “My Drugs,” “I Don’t Mind” and “Keep The Boy Alive.”