I was a little worried that Savages wouldn’t live up to the hype around this UK band’s debut album, Silence Yourself. After the first listen, I was fairly convinced, but after multiple listens I was sold. Savages makes brutally good music. It’s tough, tight and there’s no screwing around. Savages joins a number of new bands who draw heavily on punk and post-punk music with their own modern update. That list includes Metz, Iceage, Suuns, Parquet Courts and No Joy. Savages, however, is clearly one of the bands who has a lot to say.
This is a beast of an album, and it is very highly recommended. Also, make sure you see the band at Pitchfork fest.
Between the jokey name, the silly album art and a funny video, it would be easy to dismiss Wampire as a novelty act. But then you’d be denying yourself a whole lot of enjoyment. Wampire’s debut, Curiosity, is instantly likable from start to finish. It’s a mix of electronic and traditional rock instruments performed by the Portland duo of Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps. They’re assisted on the album by producer and bassist Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. If you’re familiar with UMO, you’ll no doubt hear Portrait’s influence.
Describing the overall sound of Wampire is difficult. Curiosity is a genre-leaping album. “We realized the record began to stray away from having a ‘sound’ and gradually became a platter with an assortment of sounds,” Phipps is quoted as saying in publicity material. Personally, I’m hooked and I can recommend the album.
Mikal Cronin sets up his new album, MCII, nicely with the first song, Weight, a bouncy power pop number. That song sets the stage for an enjoyable collection of fuzzy, melodic tunes. Perhaps Cronin is still best known as Ty Segall’s collaborator and traveling band mate but the guitarist shows on his sophomore album that he is a highly entertaining solo artist as well.
There is an interesting movement in California that is resulting in excellent music from artists who are (mostly) influenced by ’60s psychedelia, ’70s classic rock and metal, and yet they produce very relevant music today. Cronin, Segall, Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps all largely draw from the same well but they’re also producing some of the finest music.
Cronin’s album is highly recommended.
Bradley, a former James Brown impersonator now in his 60s, is a true soul man with a painful past who has only made two albums. I suppose these records could be dismissed as revivalist gimmicks but there’s an honesty to Bradley’s songs. I can’t embrace every track on Victim but when he’s on, Bradley is taking me back to another era — the ’60s and ’70s soul heyday — and it’s a very cool experience.
Aside from Strictly Reserved for You, the other highlights include Let Love Stand a Chance and Confusion. I also like the ultra-groovy Where Do We Go from Here?
Following his impressive 2011 debut, No Time for Dreaming, Bradley is more on than off on Victim.
If you’re going to Lollapalooza, check him out on Saturday (August 3).
Though his roots are in lo-fi, Nathan Williams’ latest album as Wavves, Afraid of Heights, is a well-polished, slickly produced offering. Stylistically, it doesn’t stray that far from 2010’s King of the Beach, though it is a step forward. I’m blown away by the first two songs on the album, Sail to the Sun and Demon to Lean On. If only Williams would have kept that momentum through the rest of the album, Afraid of Heights would be a contender for one of the best releases of the year. There are plenty of other fine moments on Afraid and overall it’s good.
Wavves plays a sold-out show at Subterranean Monday night. Fidlar opens.
Monomania, the new album from Deerhunter, is scheduled for release May 7. That’s something to get excited about. We haven’t seen a new Deerhunter album since Halcyon Digest in 2010. The press release announcing the new album is pretty funny. Monomania is a “mystery disc of nocturnal garage,” the statement reads. “New format is avant-garde (?) but only in context not form.”
Here’s a new video for the Woolen Men’s Hold It Up. It’s a cool song from a good band. I’m high on these guys and their new self-titled album.