Announcing LIVE Shows in NYC & LA
11/29: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/19: Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands
1/4: Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Gallery
Touché is duo Alex Lilly and Bram Inscore, who explore themes of lust, obsession, fate, and the struggle for control. Touching upon hallucinogenic and esoteric ideas, they aim to find the place where their psyches overlap. The result is anthemic pop pieces darkened by the desires of the human heart and sharpened by personal politics. Finding support from XLR8R & Impose Magazine to Under The Radar & Death & Taxes, Touché’s “I’m A Man Not A Machine” single was released last month.
Touché has shared stages with MEN, Active Child, and Daedelus in their hometown of LA. Today they’re proud to announce that in addition to a show this week in LA, the duo will be bringing their pop chops to NYC this winter. For another taste of what you’ll hear live, check out the new spaced-out “Wild Horses” (Prefab Sprout Cover) MP3 where it premiered with BrooklynVegan today or HERE.
Separately, the two halves of Touché have been involved in a slew of musical projects. Alex’s previous project was prog-pop outfit Obi Best and she has played keys and sung back-up for The Bird and the Bee, Ry Cooder, and Nick Lowe as well as recently joining folk supergroup The Living Sisters. Bram has kept busy as touring and recording bassist & keyboardist for acts like Beck, Thurston Moore, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and is currently a member of Twin Shadow. Stay tuned for more from Touché coming soon!
Merge Records is excited to announce that Sweden’s Shout Out Louds is releasing its first new song in three years – as a 7″ made of ice. Only 10 of these 7″ kits exist worldwide and Merge Records is giving one away. To enter your name in the contest, you have to send your mailing address to email@example.com with “Blue Ice Vinyl” in the subject line. The contest ends Monday, December 3; 350 people have entered already since the contest began a few hours ago. To watch a visual explanation on how to make the 7″, WATCH THIS VIDEO. “Blue Ice” is also available for streaming HERE, and available for purchase Here.
Merge is also excited to announce that a new Shout Out Louds full-length will be available early next year. The record arrives as Shout Out Louds celebrates 10 years as a band, and is a follow-up to 2010’s acclaimed “Work.” It will be their fourth album total and third for Merge.
Geffen Records recording artists Lifehouse will release their first new album in over two years and their sixth overall on December 11th titled: Almería. To celebrate the band has scheduled two special performances for release week.
On December 11th, Lifehouse will perform at The Gramercy in New York City and on December 18th in Los Angeles at the Troubadour. Tickets for both shows are on sale now.
Produced by long time collaborator Jude Cole, Almería finds Lifehouse expanding and stretching out the Lifehouse “sound.”
“We just felt like some sounds needed to evolve,” remarked lead singer Jason Wade. “We knew we had to shake things up creatively and go back to the drawing board, try something new. It was a liberating experience; I feel like we can take all our different musical influences and they can kind of coalesce together and live in the same space without any rules or guidelines. This album was just very in-the-moment, or should I say letting moments happen instead of forcing something and trying to manipulate it.”
The picturesque Spanish town of Almería rests on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and was the location for the filming of many of the classic spaghetti westerns filmed in the mid 1960’s. The studio at Box Canyon, CA where Lifehouse recorded Almería had a similar arid landscape.
Lifehouse: singer Jason Wade, drummer Rick Woolstenhulme, Jr., bassist Bryce Soderberg and guitarist Ben Carey — have made earnestness and soul-searching their calling card since emerging from Los Angeles during the late 90s, first as Blyss and since 2000 as Lifehouse. “Hanging By a Moment” a #1 alternative hit which crossed over to become Top 40’s Most Played Song of 2001, while 2002’s Stanley Climbfall solidified the band as a touring force. Their 2005 self-titled platinum effort yielded “You and Me,” a giant hit ballad that set a record by spending more than 60 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. 2007’s Who We Are, included the hits “First Time,” “Whatever It Takes” and “Broken,” which combined sold over 3 million digital downloads. The band’s last album, Smoke & Mirrors debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and was certified Platinum. The band has now charted fifteen consecutive singles at multiple formats making them one of the most successful bands of the 21st century to date.
Faded Paper Figures has been gracing the world with its beautiful music since 2008. A trio consisting of a guy, another guy, and his sister, Faded Paper Figures produces synth-driven indie pop music that truly does deserve to be called ‘beautiful’. Considering some of the bands I’ve had to review lately, it’s about time I am given something I really enjoy.
What are the songs about? Maybe I’m not paying close enough attention, but I’m not really sure. When I hear guitar riffs like the one that underpins ‘Information Runs On’, I don’t really care. In fact, that whole song is just engrossing. The way it develops, the way the vocals are layered, the way it abruptly ends.
‘Relatively, Relatively’ displays their ability to orchestrate within a pop tune format. The drumbeat for that song is so old-school new-wave and so cliche, but so completely perfect in terms of being exactly what’s needed.
Continuing on, ‘Better’ develops on a harmonic cliche, a modified descending bassline that wants to veer towards My Funny Valentine, the hindrance being the fact that it has been recontextualized by its immediate environment so completely that it is compelled by surrounding events to unwind as it does. While not my favorite song on the album, that harmonic device lends a certain timeless poignancy to the whole thing.
The best song on the album might just be ‘My Magellan’. The harmonic devices alone are devastating, and when the arc of the song finally explodes as it keeps threatening to do, the moment is completely revelatory. Absolutely brilliant.
Elisapie whispers through the verses of “It’s All Your Fault (Leonard”, an ode to Montreal’s Leonard Cohen, on her new release “Travelling Love.” The dynamic that stands as she slides easily between a soft whisper and melody’s moaned with a purr, long and drawn out, grips one into association with her during this song. The album, released in October, is Elisapie’s first English production- previous endeavors masqueraded in the beauty of the French language- and one that proves to hold a hint of magnificence.
The album begins with “The Beat”, slowly and mystically, yet drops with a sudden reverb into a catchy pop beat akin to so many mainstream singles, as Elisapie coos over the rhythm. It’s a tad monotonous, and I’d be embarrassed had anyone walked in to see me listening, but catchy nonetheless, undoubtedly sticking in one’s head for the remainder of the day after a single listen. The upbeat vibes are something to groove on, along with the inspirational- be them unavoidably derivative as they are- lyrics that accompany the studio beats.
The album continues in much the same way, catchy beats with a fast and upbeat rhythm, lacking depth and any sign of passion- a key factor in differentiating pop music with other forms of more expressive art. Elisapie will go far, there is no doubt, so long as she receives the publicity and radio play necessary for producing such a figure. In this form of synthesized, material music, all that is necessary are the hungry mouths with which to feed it.
The album can be found on Elisapie’s site or iTunes today.
Brotherface is a dirty raw album from a pair of brothers known as Writer. That’s right, Brotherface by Writer was written by brothers, confusing I know. It’s hard to call this album anything but dirty and that is perhaps just because they are dirty. This does come off as somewhat of a backhanded compliment i’ll admit, but I am pretty sure that the rough edges of their music is simply due to the fact that they don’t know how to smooth them out. Kind of like a garage rock album actually being recorded in the garage.
It makes me think of what the Black Keys might sound like if they actually were brothers (with reference to their 2010 Grammy awarded album Brothers), as in the combination of family members over musicians (bickering brothers, sibling rivalry, and whatnot). Today when you find a two-piece that really works, it is usually because the musicians are just so damn good that not only could no one else really keep up, but it just isn’t necessary to have the filler. With Writer, I am not convinced of this, and Brotherface doesn’t really sell their case either. Writer started in California and recently made their way out to NYC, this should be a good test for the band. Somewhat of an adapt, find a following, make a name for yourself, or die, situation. There is definitely some hope for these guys, (check out “Miss Mermaid” track 3) but I do think that the dirt needs just a little polishing.
Kumonga is a Toronto based band that have recently released their debut self titled album this past October. The four members Danny Walters (vocals, organ), Staci Patten (guitar, vocals), Stephanie DeBernardi (bass), and Eric Martin (drums) are influenced by music that has paved the way for the rock and roll genre today.
Here Comes The Spiders is a great first introduction of what they can do throughout the album. The instrumentals remind listeners of classic rock and roll, and the soulful vocals really help present that “dirty soul rock and roll” they are aiming to create.
Look Out Below has a catchy chorus and a loud sound, leaving you rocking your head and singing along. Most of the songs have a fast speed but Marmalad breaks to a slower pace which results in a more intimate singing of the chorus making the song all the more enjoyable.
As mentioned before Kumonga have been influenced by rock and roll trailblazing musicians, artist such a such as Otis Redding, Little Richard, the Sex Pistols, and Jerry Lee Lewis. These names may not be much of a surprise after listening to the ten tracks. With their incorporation of the organ, and their high energy, these older artists have really made an impact. Feels so bad is a noticeable display of the sounds performers like Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis had.
After first hearing the album, I immediately thought their sound comes from a time long before my generation but Kumonga clearly have a great understanding of how to present the type of music they love.
Sad Robot’s “1.0” is a strangely structured album. The record is bookended by two different versions of “Hold On”. The first is electric and the second is (mostly) acoustic. It also appears to be the single they’re pushing, which makes sense since it’s a reasonably catchy mid-tempo modern rock ballad with that vague melancholy that seems to be a requirement of indie music. It is also quite different from the rest of the record. After that half hearted attempt at banal modernity the rest of the album, while not exactly retro, comes bathed in the influences of fuzzed out 70’s hard rock. Personally I keep getting reminded of Rush’s first album (the era of “Working Man”, before they became progressive rock mathematicians), but you will probably hear an echo of your own favorite classic rock hero.
If there is anything that sets them apart it’s the spunky punk meets Adele vocals of singer Katherine Pawlak. Whether her vocals are good or bad is something I shall leave up to you, as I haven’t been able to decide for myself yet. Either way, they’re necessary in creating an identity for the band. Substitute a fat, bearded, gravelly voiced dude singer instead of her jazzy moaning, screaming, and scatting and this band would sound far closer to neo retro stoner metal bands like Red Fang or The Sword than anything in the indieverse. Again, whether that is good or bad is something I’ll leave up to you.
They do run into some problems. The songwriting is solid but can be a bit samey. Combine that with Ms. Pawlak’s unique, out front vocals and the songs can sometimes run into one another. If I’m not paying close attention I frequently find myself missing the end of second track “Sing” and beginning of third, “Show My Love”. Eventually the band break up the hard rock with slow burner “How Does It Feel” which manages to mix what might almost be described as a little cabaret into the mix, which somehow works. A few more rock tracks and we end with the acoustic “Hold On”, giving us a solid if slightly scatterbrained record.
Two years after the release of their pop-influenced Wind Up Wooden Heart, Social Studies are back with the enticingly somber Developer.
Based in San Francisco, California, the band consists of singer Natalia Rogovin, drummer Michael Jirkovsky, bassist Jesse Hudson, and guitarists Tom Smith and Ben McClintock. In 2007, they recorded their dancey debut EP dubbed This Is the World’s Biggest Hammer and released their first full-length album in 2010, titled Wind Up Wooden Heart. Garnering fans nationwide with their pop-alternative sound, they’ve also had the chance to play at shows such as the CMJ Music Festival and SXSW, as well as sharing stages with acts like TuneYards, Wye Oak and Ramona Falls, to name a few.
Developer—the band’s sophomore effort—was released on November 13th, 2012 on Antenna Farm Records. Co-produced by Eli Crews, Developer is distinctly darker and moodier than previous releases. Along with refocused instruments, Natalia’s vocals also seductively channel the atmospheric change.
“Delicate Hands” diffuses melancholy to infectious guitar riffs before heading into the intense percussions of “Away For The Weekend,” whose catchy lyrics contribute to the tune’s alluringly rebellious vibe. Just as well, “Think Of The Sea” disseminates a gently haunting tone as “Sans” concludes the experience with simple keys that make for an airy, dream-like sound.
As the title indicates, Developer signals the musical changes and progress the band has made, much to the delight of listeners. With the band’s knack for artistic experimentation, there’s little doubting that further developments involving these social studies will be eagerly monitored by many.
I’ve never much liked the idea of the lead singer of a band going solo. It’s always seemed like a selfish move that is guaranteed to irrevocably change the dynamic of the ensemble. Not to mention that it usually ends with a few albums of nothing drastically different before they’re back where they started — with the band that made them. But every once in a while, there’s the odd lead singer who’s genuinely got something different kicking around, something too good to pass up — something like Rhythymnals, the debut solo offering from Born Ruffians frontman Luke Lalonde.
Lalonde starts the album slow, building up the suspense before a perfectly understated explosion at the two minute mark. But the indiscriminate blips and beeps are enough to clue listeners into the fact that they’re not in Kansas anymore. Where Born Ruffians offers instrumentally-driven smooth alternative rock, Lalonde’s side project occupies a comfortably distanced place on the opposite end of the spectrum. Rhythymnals comes across as a diluted version of Animal Collective, with Lalonde putting the electronic toys to good use. His tracks are simple without being sparse and his voice remains undoctored, leaving it beautifully crisp, earnest and pure.
Perhaps it has something to do with stepping away from the band and striking out on his own, but the record has an incredibly light, airy, youthful feel. Songs like “Undone” and “Red Wagon” are humanistic and easy to relate to. It is a refreshing break from typical electro-pop inspired records that purport tracks that, despite being entertaining, are sometimes frustrating in that they are nearly indiscernible. He presents the best of both worlds — a way for fans of the genre to emotionally connect to tracks and still have beat to dance to. You feel it in your heart as well as your bones. Rhythymnals’s one misstep comes in the third-to-last track, “Calm Down,” — an instrumental interlude that, despite being aptly named, is a distracting break from the flow of the record. But as a lead singer striking out on his own, there are definitely worse mistakes Lalonde could have made. And when he’s managed to deliver as well as he has, it’s easily forgiven.