Speaking of how great acoustic guitar as percussion can be, “Fly Away” is one of my favorite tracks off the Tim Vocals mixtape. This sounds kind of corny, like a cheeseball with an acoustic guitar made it in the early 00s, but Tim Vocals makes me believe it. I see clouds when I hear “Fly Away,” and I’m okay with how silly that makes me sound.

July 15, 2014

Speedy Ortiz - “Gary”

I had the chance to visit the 4Knots Fest at the South Street Seaport in NYC this past weekend, and one of the highlights was Speedy Ortiz. I had previously only skimmed over their critically-acclaimed debut Major Arcana and remembered enjoying it, but without any of the songs really sticking out. Man, did that change after their guitar-heavy performance that probably impressed headliners Dinosaur Jr. “Gary” in particular is a song to be reckoned with – they start out showing how inspired by Pavement they are with a dissonant, unassuming guitar riff like a shark circling you in the water, when suddenly they switch on the distortion and jam. It’s loud. It’s great. I’m always happy to see new players making big splashes in the modern rock game.

July 13, 2014

Owen Pallett - “The Riverbed”

This song is a rolling existential crisis: And the world’ll forget any good you have done. How… comforting.

July 4, 2014

Aubergine MACHINE - “Call It Fate, Call It Karma ” (The Strokes cover)

When you hear someone is covering The Strokes, you expect it to be a pretty safe copy of “Last Nite” or “Hard to Explain.” Deep house duo Aubergine MACHINE instead deliver something out of the blue and cover the obscure “Call It Fate, Call It Karma” (from Comedown Machine, making the choice even that much more daring). This duo turns The Strokes’ synthy jazz lounge singer shtick into an electronic anthem, taking a page out of Purity Ring’s playbook in the process.

I’ve never entirely bought into the labels of “trip-hop,” “post-dubstep,” “deep house,” or anything like those, but groups like Purity Ring, Aubergine MACHINE, and Chvrches manage to craft these pulsing rhythms that I can definitely dig. Especially resonant and vibe-worthy on this tired, humid weeknight.

July 1, 2014

American Football - “Never Meant”

The reissue of American Football’s eponymous album comes at a coincidental time for me. Graduating college. Helping friends pack up their apartments and talking about meeting up in the future. Exchanging good byes. Figuring out what it means to navigate my environment despite frustrating obstacles. How opportune then that this album chock full of songs probing into summertime, post-graduation feelings finds its way back into my life. I wasn’t there when American Football was originally released in 1999. I mean, I was alive and all, but I was just a kid. It wasn’t until my teen angst days that I came across this while trying to learn about “real emo” music. I didn’t think too much of it. Sure, it was good, but I couldn’t quite relate to it yet. After I branched out into other genres, I eventually forgot about this album. Its reissue then is a pleasant and welcome surprise. What’s great about the reissue is how inconspicuous it is. It doesn’t care if you were originally around to “get it” or not. You’re still invited to welcome these tunes into your own coming-of-age story, whatever it may be.

June 7, 2014

Love Dollhouse - “Can I”

While Britain’s thrown their support behind Little Mix, the US has all but ceded the Girl Group discussion. It’s a shame because the gal group artist type lends itself well to early-2000s nostalgia that seems to be going around right at the start of summer. “Can I” is so breezy and fun, perfect for relaxing by the lake.

May 25, 2014
May 18, 2014

tUnE-yArDs - “Water Fountain”

The first time I encountered tUnE-yArDs was at a free St. Vincent concert in Central Park. Merrill Garbus and her crew were one of two openers, both unknown to the crowd that filed in to watch Annie Clark on the tail end of her Actor tour. I think everybody could tell that tUnE-yArDs would be going places – Garbus just has such a quirky and commanding presence when she performs, switching between howling melodic harmonies into her loop pedal and plucking out masterful ukelele riffs, all while directing a band of horns and a mysterious bass line. I still remember waiting in line outside Summerstage waiting to get in, hearing Garbus soundcheck by mixing the different vocal lines of “Gangsta.”

The new album, Nikki Nack continues the off-kilter, but still catchy, pop that made w h o k i l l so special.

May 4, 2014

Courtney Barnett - “History Eraser”

If Lorde is the embodiment of the Nirvana aesthetic, then Courtney Barnett is the embodiment of the Nirvana sound. It’s always refreshing to hear guitar and really creative lyricism done well, just like on Nevermind. Her double EP is one of the best records I’ve heard recently – just the right mixture of indie attitude and cool vibes.

April 30, 2014

Jay Reatard - “Oh It’s Such a Shame”

I don’t remember how, but this week I was reminded of the legacy of Jay Reatard, the punk rocker who unfortunately passed away in 2010 at the young age of 29 due to health implications caused by cocaine and alcohol. He made tons of records between a handful of backing bands, but the most well-known was his debut solo effort, Blood Visions, with the infamous bloody album cover. It’s no surprise that he made friends with bands like Deerhunter, or that Reatard’s rhythm section would join Nathan Williams to form Wavves. This is one of the most entertaining top-to-bottom pop-punk albums to be released in recent memory.

April 27, 2014
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