Tag Archives: Fresh & Onlys

…Unless Round is Funny: Summer Fridays 4.15

2 Sep

Labor Day weekend, folks. Party it up, you’ve earned it. Here in New York, we’ve recently weathered earthquakes and minor hurricanes and other inconveniences. So fire up the grill, put a cold beverage in your hand and turn up the mildly twee indie pop jams on this week’s mix. Cover art photo was taken by Kate Bryant at the Friends With You inflatable sculpture park which is at the upper end of the Highline park.

While Labor Day is seen as the end of summer, Summer Fridays mixes will continue to the Autumn Equinox… so you get two more after this. Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD SUMMER FRIDAYS 4.15

Tracklist:
1.  Zumpano! – The Party Rages On
2.  Allo Darlin’ – Darren
3.  Future Bible Heroes – Hopeless
4.  Ski Lodge – I Would Die to Be
5.  Murder Mystery – Problems
6.  XTC – Day In Day Out
7.  Peggy Sue – Song & Dance
8.  Devon Williams – All My Living Goes to You
9.  Papas Fritas – My Revolution
10. Radiation City – The Color of Industry
11. The Liminanas – (I’ve Got) Trouble in Mind
12. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Hide and Seek
13. Music Machine – The People in Me
14. The Fresh & Onlys – I Would Not Know the Devil
15. Pale Saints – Fell from the Sun
16. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Keep Me Waiting
17. Grandaddy – Chartsengrafs
18. Destroyer – Savage Night at the Opera

I’m not even going to write it this week, but you know what I’m talking about. Liner notes after the jump.
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Sound Bites Best of 2010: Favorite Extended Plays

13 Dec

2010EPs2

I've always loved EPs. More than a single, less than an album, the format is designed as the ideal showcase for a band. Or at least a nice stopgap between albums. It was the format of choice for the '90s shoegaze scene which is probably why I have such affection. In my mind the ideal EP should be four songs and no longer than 20 minutes, but I don't follow any hard rules for this. In an age of 28 minute albums it's hard to gauge. Anyway, I've never done a Best EPs list before, but the format has definitely made a big comeback this year, in my opinion, at least in that so many ended up staying in constant rotation. Here are my 15 favorites.

01FandO 1. The Fresh & OnlysAugust on My Mind [Captured Tracks] | BUY
Year two of The Fresh & Onlys was stronger than the first, with the band honing their already sharp songwriting skills and becoming more adept at recording, whether it be in a real studio or on four-track. August in My Mind was probably their best release of a second prolific year.

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – Garbage Collector 

15spectrals 2. SpectralsA Spectrals Extended Play [Moshi Moshi/Underwater Peoples] | BUY
Kind of a cheat, Extended Play collects the best songs from Spectrals' myriad 7" singles on one platter, which brings Louis Jones' talent into sharp focus. Reverb-drenched, but in a Phil Spector kind of way, Spectrals' sound like old favorites you've never heard before. Bewitching stuff.

MP3: Spectrals – Peppermint

14generationals 3. Generationals Trust [Park the Van] | BUY
Imagine a less cloying Boy Least Likely To or Architecture in Helsinki if they didn't try so hard, and you've got New Orleans Generationals who are young masters of clever, tuneful pop. I think you call it effortless? Like on last year's underrated Con Law, this EP brings four more great songs to the table.

MP3: Generationals – Trust

03EternalSummers 4. Eternal Summers - Eternal Summers EP [Chimney Sweep] | BUY
Not that there's anything wrong with using those words, mind you, er, ha ha? Eternal Summers are more slashy, in line with Veronica Falls and Brilliant Colors. Their debut LP on Kanine is great too, but this 10" is a concentrated dose of what they do best. Also, nice to finally see some quality bands coming from Southwest Virginia, near where I grew up. 

MP3: Eternal Summers – In the Beginning 

04THITH 5. The Hundred in the Hands - This Desert [WARP] |BUY
As Charlie the Tuna once taught us, having good taste doesn't necessarily mean you're going to taste good. But this electronic duo manage to do both, easily my favorite electronic pop act to come along in some time. Catchy, sexy, imminently danceable. Check out their album, too, also from this year.

MP3: The Hundred in the Hands – Building in L.O.V.E.

02tonycastles 6. (The) Tony CastlesNo Service [Famous Class] | BUY
Dreamy keyboard-heavy pop with a dose of funk lite brings to mind Prefab Sprout. Too much music this year banked on warm vibes, but Tony Castles understand That Summer Feeling without having to mention the beach, sun or surfing. 


MP3
: Tony Castles – Black Girls in Dresses

Dominantlegs 7. Dominant Legs – Young at Love and Life [Lefse] | BUY
Unfairly lumped in with the chillwavers, San Francisco’s Dominant Legs (Ryan Lynch who also plays in Girls) sound like a real band as opposed to something someone dreamed up in Garage Band. And you can actually imagine it being played live. (And they do, I’ve seen them.) And while there's definitely an '80s thing going on, it's not Other People's Nostalgia. Songs are as good as the vibe.

MP3: Dominant Legs – Clawing Out the Walls 

Girlsnames 8. Girls NamesYou Should Know By Now [Tough Love] | BUY
Belfast's Girls Names filled the void left by Crystal Stilts relative inactivity this year with their slightly spooky Cherry Red/Creation influenced sound. Good in its own right, mind you as it is on this list, but the resemblance is a bit uncanny. And they've got a single on Slumberland too! This was the better of the two EPs the band released this year, this one is sold out in physical form but can still be got digitally. The Captured Tracks EP is swell too.

MP3: Girls Names – Tear Me Down

Twinsister 9. Twin SisterColor Your Life [Infinite Best] | BUY
A gorgeous, groovy mix of the Cocteau Twins and Sade, Brooklyn band Twin Sister were one of the breakout stars of 2010. And rightly so. You can still download the entirety of this wonderful EP for free from the band's website, but the vinyl is truly lovely. 

MP3: Twin Sister – All Around and Away We Go

Girls 10. Girls - Broken Dreams Club [True Panther] | BUY
While I wouldn't call Girls' 2009 debut low fi by any means, there is a clarity of sound on Broken Dreams Club that they haven't tried before, and it suits not only Christopher Owens' fragile voice but the ace performers they've become over the last two years. The songs were always there. As a  "LETTER OF INTENT," we can only relisten to this till the next record.

MP3: Girls – Heartbreaker

Jamesblake 11. James BlakeCMYK [R&S] | BUY
I don't listen to a ton of dubstep/grime or anything else like this but there is something to James Blake's music that sets it immediately apart and commands your attention. It's like listening to someone tune between radio stations and making it work as music on its own. Of the many records Blake released this year, CMYK was the most mesmerizing.

MP3: James Blake – CMYK

Alexkemp 12. Alex KempRat D'Hotel – Pt. 1 – Rat Walks Into a Bar [Alex Kemp/TuneCore]
Former Small Factory/Godrays singer appears after a decade or so with two EPs of bright, shiny, danceable pop more akin to his old pals Papas Fritas. New direction, but same solid songwriting that made Small Factory's early singles so winning. So good to hear Kemp's charmingly craggy voice again. You can download this EP for free from Kemp's website (click on the brown paper bag).

MP3: Alex Kemp – I'm on Your Side

Suuns 13. SuunsZeroes [Secretly Canadian] | BUY
Formerly known as Zeroes, Suuns (pronounced "Sooons") are one of Montreal's most interesting new bands, as can be heard on this EP. I have a feeling they know exactly what Mark E. Smith means by "repetition repetition repetition" given the solid Krautrock-y grooves. This EP has since been expanded to a full album, but I'm not sure it needed the extra tracks. A perfect blast.

MP3: Suuns – Arena

Cloudnothings 14. Cloud Nothings - Leave You Forever [True Panther] | BUY
Cleveland's Cloud Nothings are first and foremost hookmasters in the long powerpop tradition. Live they are crunchier, louder (a skinny beast of a drummer adds massive whallop) but on record they can come off more like that time where American "college rock" morphed into indie rock. The band put out a handful of records this year, this four-song 7" is maybe the best. Certainly the best cover art.

MP3: Cloud Nothings – Weird Son

Ace 15. A Classic EducationHey There Stranger [Lefse] | BUY
Can you embrace baroque, anthemic and reverby garage all at the same time? Yes, says A Classic Education who are from Bologna, Italy (via Canada). More reverb than garage, mind you, with a'60s cosmopolitan sweep as well. In a word, lovely.

MP3: A Classic Education – Gone to Sea

Independents’ Day: Woodsist / Captured Tracks Festival | 7.04.2009

6 Jul

Dum Dum Girls
Dumdumgirls

The Fresh & Onlys
Freshandonlys2

Ganglians
Ganglians

Woods
Woods

Some people spent their Fourth of July watching fireworks. Others barbequed with friends. One guy spent his eating 68 hot dogs in ten minutes. Me? I hang out in an empty lot underneath the JMZ line in Bushwick Brooklyn watching a whole bunch of awesome bands on the Captured Tracks and Woodsist labels. I skipped out on the first night of the Fest after, due to threat of rain, it got moved from the empty lot to adjacent Market Hotel which by all accounts was like being in a bbq smoker. (I ended up at the Seaport instead watching Here We Go Magic and Bachelorette.) Saturday, however, couldn’t be more idyllic — upper ’70s, mostly sunny and no humidity. Despite some technical and sound issues throughout the day,  vibes stay positive throughout.

I go with my friends Don and Kelly and their 5-year-old daughter Diaz, who wears pink sound-blocking earmuffs the whole day and thinks there aren’t enough girls in the bands. I also try to get her to be an on-camera reporter, reviewing the show via fed lines like “I’d rather have German Measles than watch German Measles again.” But she’s not having it.

German Measles aren’t actually that bad, I just thought it would be a funny line. But they’re also not very good. And that kind of seems to be the point. Shambolic is an understatement, like “why rehearse when we can just play shows?” They played a couple night before, opening for Thee Oh Sees at Glasslands and Don asked me if the songs were all improvised on the spot. No, they’ve got some songs and if you see them more than once you might remember some of them, like “Patty Girl” which they almost play with something approaching competence. Or maybe they’re just totally wasted. The singer sure was, having finished a bottle of red wine while his bandmates set up and moving on to Budweiser by the time they first note is played.

Real Estate probably sound the best of any of the bands that day, their dreamy Greatful Dead meets New Zealand good vibe noodling that is not all that far from the Meat Puppets at times too. They play through PA problems like it doesn’t matter, and you know… it doesn’t. They’re good. When they stick to the a-sides, it is sunny day perfection. When they start jamming, they lose me. It’s a festival, you’ve got 25 minutes, please stick to the hits.

The Beets have bass amp problems so the other two dick around with Beatles covers till equipment is switched out. “Thankyouverymuch,” mumbles guitarist Juan Wauters which is the only banter you ever get from The Beets, before he kicks his amp again to unleash a squal of reverb. The Beets don’t sound that loud on their records, but they can be deafening live, with the kind of feedback not heard since the early days of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Thier songs don’t so much end as stop, but they’ve got some really good tunes, rooted in ’60s party rock, making them perfect for an outdoor show like this. Do they still make Sun Country wine coolers?

I get burgers and check out the merch table while The Great Excape play. It is some kind of reunion but I don’t remember them so I didn’t pay much attention. Ganglians are up next, one of many California bands in town for the fest. They’ve got two good new records out: An mini-LP which rocks, and an LP of lovely Brian Wilson-influenced acoustic psychedelia. We get strictly the former today, which is too bad as “Lost Words” or “Candy Girl” would sound great here, though I guess when the M train rattles by every ten minutes (with confused conductors craning their necks to see what the hell is going on down below) you gotta battle that with full-electric mayhem. Their guitarist, who kind of looks like he’s 14, does some amazing things on his instrument and is like, totally into it, man. He’s a lot of fun to watch. But I prefer the poppy stuff over more drony material like “Never Mine” which there is video of below. I imagine seeing them indoors is a different experience.

As all-girl, C-’86-influenced trios go, San Francisco’s Brilliant Colors might just be the best of the bunch, writing songs that rival Vivian Girls’ catchiest, and keeping it tight like Sweden’s Liechtenstein with more attitude than either. (Check out “I’m Sixteen” for serious snarl.) They might lack a little in stage presence but playing in the heat of the sun can drain even the most charming performers.  But these ladies are quality, one of the day’s best. Am really hoping another NYC show will materialize before they go back.

Budweiser is delicious when drunk fast and often. Even when it is lukewarm, like it is today. Just putting things in perspective.

Next up, the band I am most excited to see today: The Fresh & Onlys. They wowed me at the Woodsist/Todd P party during SXSW and have since becoming a superfan. Singer Tim Cohen broke his wrist a couple weeks ago punching bassist Shayde Sartin in a particularly drunken and violent bit of horseplay, so here he’s playing keyboards instead of guitar. Not tied to his instrument, he now makes a lot of operatic gestures with his arms, leaving the guitar heroics to slickly-dressed Wymond Miles who pulls out all the rock moves. I am biased, but they sound pretty amazing, rivaling Real Estate for best sonics of the night. I think they won for stage presence too (the only band of the day to attempt audience participation), though if I’d stayed for Thee Oh Sees I might be saying second-best. (Oh Sees were phenomenal at Glasslands two nights previous.) F&Os have three records out now, and like seven more things coming out this year on nearly as many labels. To date it’s all been home recordings which gives things a vintage feel, but live they sound more in the now and less like a group in love with 1966. “Invisible Forces,” which is on their upcoming Woodsist LP Grey Eyed Girls, is a minor chord stunner.

Following  their performance I finally meet Shayde face-to-face — he participated in an email-interview for this blog you may remember. “You’re Bill Pearis? I pictured you as a fat, bearded 50-year-old dude.” Um, thanks. I buy a cassette-only release of theirs, Bomb Wombs, and then remember I don’t own a cassette player anymore. I’ll figure something out.

I spy Crocodiles’ singer Brandon Welchez with his guitar at the grocery store around the cornerand think maybe they’re going to play in the “???” slot on the schedule scrawled on a piece of cardboard that’s tied to the stage. But then I remember that he’s got ties to Dum Dum Girls‘ Dee Dee (tied the knot in fact, it turn out) so it’s no real surprise to see him playing guitar in DDGs’ first ever show. The band also includes Captured Tracks head honcho Mike Sniper on bass and Frankie Rose of Crystal Stilts on drums. Dee Dee, is decked out in a a black dress with fringe, and black tights, which would’ve probably looked more appropriate in a dark club with smoke machines and strobes. Here, it seemed a bit silly but damn if the four of them don’t look like a real band, not some pick-up match. Black and denim, the shades, they are classic cool. And they sound like a band too, and a good one too. Dum Dum Girls got it together. Shirley from NY Noise uses the term “twee goth” and that’s pretty much right on the money. Or maybe a little like Siouxsie fronting Tones on Tails, whose hit “Go!” comes to mind during DDGs’ final number. It seems a shame this may be the only show these four play together.

Woods suffer the same problem that Real Estate do: they are quick to delve into the extended jam, though their version is a little more Crazy Horse and less blissed-out stoner noodles. But like Real Estate, when Woods stick to the songs, like the great “To Clean,” it’s absolutely lovely. (Their album Songs of Shame comes highly recommended by me.) As singer Jeremy Earl runs Woodsist, he can do whatever he wants. It’s his festival. (Well, half his.) But that doesn’t mean I gotta pay close attention.

I have seen Woods now upwards of seven times and I still can’t figure out what the one guy in the band does. He’s always off to the side, fiddling with some piece of homemade equipment involving cassette tapes, and sings through an old pair of headphones that are put on sideways. Using phones as a mic, I guess, gives a tinny, “old timey” sound to the vocals but it also kind of looks like he’s wearing a ball gag that is tethered to the floor. Every time I see them I think of the gimp in Pulp Fiction. Maybe this is the look they’re going for but I doubt it. Still, some lovely songs.

The sun is now setting and I am losing steam. (So is my camera battery and the flash card is full.) As Kurt Vile takes the stage, I take my leave, also missing Vivian Girls and Thee Oh Sees (who I already saw this week). I’m gonna need a nap if I’m gonna make it to the afterparty.

Also there: Stereogum, PopJew, StarkOnline, The Pop Filter , The Village Voice and, of course,  John Norris.

My Canon Powershot has turned out to be a much better video camera than a regular one. I shot every band of I saw, but ended up deleting German Measels for space reasons only. Video and a couple more pictures after the ol’ jump.

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