Hope everyone had a nice weekend. It was practically spring here in NYC and great to get outside and feel the energy of the city ramping back up as the warmth returns. Looking forward to that continuing. Now, please dig the latest Weekly Roundup.
Melaena Cadiz has begun a cool endeavor called The Singles Project. In each month of 2013, she will release a new track that will feature custom artwork by a friend of hers. I missed the chance to share January's debut entry "The Owl" in a timely fashion, but the February edition "Animal" is recent and it is so good. Opening with an almost military drum and Melaena's voice, the song has a bluesy swagger that only deepens when the rest of the band kicks in. I can't get enough of it. The guitars, the piano, the horns, the beat, and the riveting vocal performance come together in an immensely satisfying way. "Who's got their claws you?" Definitely this song. I am excited for the future installments of the series.
I've been meaning to share this new music from Rachel Brotman for awhile and am happy to do so now. The Anecdote EP came out at the end of January. Its five tracks are a pleasure to listen to and full of interesting moments. I think the bass (the upright one) was the instrument I found myself focusing in on the most, but the rest of the players are all strong and Rachel has a powerful, elegant voice. Check out "Clever" below. It's jazzy and soulful and very much in the pop tradition, so it all goes down smooth. Oh, and for fans of the Dirty Projetors, there is a cover of "Two Doves" on the EP.
Wildlife Control is a half-Brooklyn, half-San Francisco duo of brothers Neil and Sumul Shah. Their latest single "Ages Places" is a rousing burner. The instruments push the song forward, from the opening pounding piano chords to the rippling guitar chords, to a quiet moment with bells in the middle that gives a false serenity before drums, synth bass, and thick, distorted electric guitar take things to another level of intensity. The vocals feel connected with the urgency of the music, but also somewhat removed. Considering the lyrics, it's as if they are trying to focus on something good from the past to keep grounded in an otherwise hectic present.
With a band name like VISUALS, it's not surprising to detect imagery of eye exams in the music video for "Levitation." Also unsurprising is that the visuals of the clip are fascinating, with layers different effects and scenes that include some performance-tied elements, like the mouth singing or the silhouette dancing. The song has a real post-punk feel to it. I dig the verse bass line and how on its own, it seems springy and loose but becomes more precise through all of its repetition. The guitars counter its anchoring by being more ambient and wispy. The echoed vocals are cool, too.
Chalk and Numbers. Feels like a description of 3rd grade, but it's actually a co-ed Brooklyn duo with one ear to the girl-groups of the past and another to the possibilities of the present to make the music familiar yet fresh. Their latest song is "Boy" and it comes from an EP Parade which will be out tomorrow. I was getting a a She & Him vibe, in that it's music made by one man and one woman and singer Sable Yong's has that same timeless vintage sensibility as Zooey. But I do think Chalk and Numbers are filtering what might be very similar source material in a different way. NYC people can attend the release show 3/23 at Union Pool and all can check out their newest song "Pretty Colors" here.
Hollis Brown released their debut album Ride on the Train last Tuesday. This band is all about rock and roll. I like the track "Walk on Water" a lot. It grooves and also has some tasty electric guitar parts. As an added bonus, when you add the vocals, the overall tone of the song, and even sort of its structure, it feels like a tighter (or at least less psychedelic) version of Kenny Rogers "Just Dropped In," not that it isn't without its own rough charm. I guess I'll leave it to you to put on your tool belts and start dancing to tell me if my comparison is of any worth, but at the very least, give this track a listen.
For those that don't know, I'm committed to devoting this space to either NYC artists or artists from elsewhere that I've shared in the past (and really, what I do at TWD in general). This next band Cottage Jefferson is from Rochester BUT they did send me their music in hopes of getting me to their 3/6 NYC show. I unfortunately couldn't make it, but I dug their sound a lot and had to share. With touchstones of classic late 80s/early 90s indie, I am going to be intrigued and I was happy when listening to "Reaction" and the rest of I Don't Believe Anything that the sound honored those sources and didn't feel derivative.
Last week, I shared a track from The Sharp Things called "Lights." Here we now have the video, which plays around with visuals derived from abstraction found in nature and from technology. You can also check out the video for another single, "Goodbye to Golders Green," here. This one takes a more traditional approach, telling a narrative using real people and depicting what looks to be some pretty bizarre – yet humorous – therapy.
I included a track from Devyn Rose in our annual holiday post and now here's something more original from her called "Who Am I." Something I like about this one is the way the production alternates between the more of a twinkly verses to the languid synth drawls of the chorus. It makes for a more frozen emotional landscape, which Devyn's voice flirts with but ultimately is too warm to stay permanently isolated from us listeners. An EP is forthcoming called Want It All.
Big Deal will be releasing album number two June Gloom in June fittingly enough, and after "Teradactol," the new single "In Your Car" is here. It's clear that these two songs demonstrate the duo trying to broaden their sound, fleshing it out with more volume, new instruments, and other textures. I believe, though, they have retained the harmonies, song dynamics, and lyrical honesty that made them so alluring to me. I'll be interested to hear the full album.
I interviewed Felipe of Old Wives' Tale right around the end of 2011 and now they have a video for their song "Josephine." It mixes a performance (with a sweet lighted back screen) with a group of people planting some sort of robot art installation / social activism totems around a city by night.
We had previously shared the track "My Young Man" by Esme Patterson (which has a cool video I missed) and now here's her latest video for "Swimmer." I really like it. The use of the aquarium is an inspired choice. First, it makes for a compelling and unique visual setting and one that is shot in a way that matches the musical tone of the song. Second, it connects to the lyrical content yet diverges enough to standalone as its own narrative. I also like the poetic nature of the contrast of the swimmer and the "I, bird in the sky." Heartbreaking in some ways, but beautifully expressed.