Three Chico News & Review writers offer their tips for new sounds of summer
Though in bleak economic times your budget for disposable income gets shrunk, and you might be more inclined to trade-and-burn and seek out “free” downloads than buy new music, hopefully you still have a tiny spot in your heart for your real record stores. Melody, Amoeba (in S.F.) and the rest are likely ripe with a ton of used finds these days, but there are new discs at those places as well. And why not get something that’s actually new and fresh for the summer months ahead? Here are several tips to get you started.
Stuff that’s already come out but will really come to life for your summer: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone—Vs. Children (Owen Ashworth continues to make sad “beats-and-keys” tunes full of colorful characters); Mirah—(a)spera (my favorite female songwriter—her first album in five years features guests Tara Jane O’Neill, some Decemberists and Phil Elevrum); Phoenix—Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Strokes-lite from French popsters); The Pains of Being Pure at Heart—The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (nothing better for your summer than fast, fuzzy NYC pop).
GIRLS: “I wish I had sun tan / I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine.” San Francisco’s GIRLS (not to be confused with The Girls) are summer. Original pop melodies pushed through a variety of styles that are alternately sweet/cranky, sad/hopeful and squeaky-high/throaty-low. The pscyh-folk/pop-rock duo is set to release a follow-up to its long sold-out singles … like any day now … please!
Pogo: The Australian video and electronic masher-upper has a new piece on his YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/Fagottron) that is so instantly infectious that I can’t get it out of my head. “Expialidocious” is composed with “sine wave bass and custom drum sequences” and sound and videos sampled from Mary Poppins, and it is mesmerizing. The seamless, clever video and audio splicing is impressive, but his respect for the magical spirit of the original material in a brand-new offering is art. Follow link from video for free audio download.
New stuff that I really need to make myself be able to afford: Thee Oh Sees—Help (if you dug Coachwhips, here’s John Dwyer, raw as ever); Neil Young—Fork in the Road (album number 7,451); Wavves—Wavves; Bill Callahan—Sometimes I Wish I Were an Eagle; Dinosaur Jr—Farm (June 23), The Fiery Furnaces—I’m Going Away (June 30).
If it must be summertime already, I’ll put my money on this collection of new music for rocking the hot months ahead. These albums will rock your socks off, which is a good thing because who wants unsightly skin-socks in the summer anyway?
Dirty Projectors—Bitte Orca: An unruly “pop” album where boy-girl harmonies try to keep time with serpentine song structures. I was hooked in the first 30 seconds.
The Strange Boys—And Girls Club: These 20-something kids play straight ’50s-influenced garage rock like true old-timers.
All Smiles—Oh for the Getting and Not Letting Go: Former Grandaddy guitarist Jim Fairchild’s second album is wall-to-wall memorable hooks—and as good as anything former bandmate Mr. Lytle has done recently. Out June 30.
Reigning Sound—Love and Curses: The North Carolina four-piece will release its first studio record since 2005’s Home for Orphans in July, which makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. Greg Cartwright writes beautifully pure rock songs, and is one of the most underrated songwriters today.
Wilco—Wilco (The Album): What needs to be said? It’s Wilco, and they’re releasing a new album June 30.
Screaming Females—Power Move: Marissa Paternoster is the 22-year-old guitar-shredding Rutgers grad who fronts New Jersey pop punks Screaming Females. Paternoster is also the only female in the band. And she screams only occasionally. Did I mention she shreds?
Liechtenstein—Survival Strategies in a Modern World: A nod to ’60s girl groups and yé-yé from this Swedish all-female trio.
Viva Voce—Rose City: Portland husband-and-wife duo Kevin and Anita Robinson brought in two new members and recorded Rose City in less than a month in their home-built studio. The result is a lush pop album that is as immediately catchy as it is surprising with each listen.
Thinking about the limitless freedom of both summer and music brings back memories of when the Blue Room still put on rock shows: the stifling temperature competing with The Bangs’ guitar strings, or causing Ted Leo’s record-setting sweat display during a frenetic set. And yet, Pabst never tasted sweeter than on that hardwood floor. I actually did not become a teacher just so I could have these summers back; but somehow it all works out.
A few recommendations to find your freedom from the heat and liberation in sound.
Sonic Youth summer! The band’s The Eternal was released June 9 on revered indie label Matador. Songs “Anti-Orgasm” and “Sacred Trixter” harken back to the furious noise politico-pop of Dirty while blasting novel aural squalls from volume-addicted amps.
The band that could do no wrong? Atlanta’s Deerhunter is on the kind of roll that only Red Auerbach’s Celtics might understand. Pick up their latest EP, Rainwater Cassette Exchange, or cry those lonely tears into your Robert Smith beach towel.
I read, you rock: Summer 2008 = Iggy Pop and Sonic Youth bios followed by Moore and Coley’s dissection of NYC No-Wave. Summer 2009 = Getting around to Slash bio, and digging into 33 and 1/3 book series (Neutral Milk Hotel, Rolling Stones, Elliott Smith and more).
Follow your hunches … to Sacramento June 25, at The Funcastle, that is. Portland’s soon to be late, and still beyond great, garage punks The Hunches blast through California in four shows before calling it quits. If you dig The Scientists and The Birthday Party, The Hunches are your new favorite band.
Summer ends so sweet. Jay Reatard has become one of my very favorite songwriters. His music veers wildly from breakneck guitar punk to odd pop reminiscent of his New Zealand idols The Clean. After his punishingly perfect twin-disc compilation of singles, Matador will release Watch Me Fall Aug. 18.