Tag Archives: video

September 21, 2017 — “That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus

Pia Fraus

If you only listen to one song today, make it “That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus (2017, from the forthcoming album Field Ceremony).
Pia Fraus is a shoegaze/dream-pop/indie pop quintet from Tallinn, Estonia. Between 2001 and 2008, they released four proper albums. In a previous feature back in 2012, I wrote

I guess you could say that they’re three parts The Swirlies, one part Yo La Tengo, but with the volume low, the windows open, and the light shining in.

I stand by that assessment.

The band took a long hiatus and shuffled the deck just a little bit. After nine years, they’re ready to release their fifth album —Field Ceremony— on October 16. Actually, it’ll be out on October 13 via Shelflife Records in the United States and October 16 in Europe (SekSound Records) and in Japan (Vinyl-Junkie Recordings). They’ve been releasing singles ahead of the album, but those somehow slipped between the cracks until I got something in the mail bag a couple of weeks ago. I was, of course, pleasantly surprised and excited to read about the new album, and I was totally satisfied when I listened to the promo copy.

The melty, gooey guitar with the tons of effects, their magnificent pop sensibilities and the glorious coed vocals reminded us of why we fell in love with Pia Fraus in the first place: they remind us of a lot of familiar and comfortable things while bringing a lot of their own things to the table.

It’s fair to mention that I was also unaware of this development, but Pia Fraus recently recorded a split 7″ single with Rocketship. Check that out here. Rocketship, incidentally, has new record coming out after an 11-year hiatus. You should check out the new song here.

Back on topic, though, the new tune from Pia Fraus is great, and this is that song:
“That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus

I love that they waste no time getting to the melty, gooey guitar awesomeness. No stick clicks or snare hits to count them in, no jangly acoustic intro. Just the warm, gooey stuff right from the drop. My only complaint (and this is a very minor one) is that I wish they were much louder. The noise that they do bring is glorious, but I wish they would turn their amps to elevens.

There’s also a video, which was directed by the band’s former drummer Joosep Volk:


August 16, 2017 — “Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean (2016, from the album Human Ceremony).

Sunflower Bean is an indie rock trio from Brooklyn. They’re young, but they’ve been around the Brooklyn DIY scene for a while. They formed in 2013, and after a series of singles and EPs, they released their debut long player last February on Fat Possum Records. Their sound has elements of dream pop, fuzzy indie rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, and others. I read a quote from frontwoman Julia Cumming (vocals/bass):

You’re allowed to obsess over Black Sabbath as well as The Cure… It’d be boring if everything was one way or the other

.

Certainly, each of their songs sounds totally different to the others, and some have different sounds within the same song.

I had never heard of this band until I started doing my preparation for the 2017 Hopscotch Music Festival, and now I’m pretty excited that I’ll be seeing them there. They’re playing on Thursday September 7, the first night of the festival. That’ll be a busy night for me, and their set will be the last of the night over at The Pour House. It’s often packed to capacity in there during Hopscotch, but it’s always fun.

Anyway, here’s one of the songs from the debut album:

“Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean

It’s part late aughts commercial radio alternative, part late nineties college radio alternative, and still part something else. I’m reminded a little of that song “Tick Tick Boom” by The Hives. I’m also reminded of the first record by Veruca Salt. There’s also something that reminds me just a tiny bit of The History of Apple Pie. And yet, it’s still got its own vibe. And I like it.

Here also is the video for the song:

You can order the album on your choice of format from the Fat Possum store here.

The Hopscotch Music Festival is in just three weeks. Check out the lineup, the schedule, and the ticket options. As usual, I’ll be there all weekend.

Again, if you’re going to Hopscotch, Sunflower Bean is playing on Thursday at 12:30 at the Pour House. There’s actually four different venues I want to be in at that same time, so I can’t say for sure that I’ll be at Pour House, but the Sunflower Bean set is very much on my radar.


August 3, 2017 — “Stupid Things” by Girl Ray

Girl Ray

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Stupid Things” by Girl Ray (2017, from the album Earl Grey).

Girl Ray is an indie pop trio of 19 year-olds from London. They are Poppy Hankin (vocals/guitar), Sophie Moss (bass), and Iris McConnell (drums). I just learned about them this morning because of a friend’s tweet that he was eagerly anticipating the release of the band’s debut record tomorrow (August 4) via Moshi Moshi Music. I’ve listened to a few songs, and I really like what I’ve heard. I’ve done a little bit of research, and I still don’t know much about them.

Some of the things that I’ve read compare them to the c-86 sound and lo-fi twee pop. Some compare them to stuff like Belle and Sebastian. Some are brave enough to mention Hankin and Harriet Wheeler out of The Sundays in the same breath. Some mention Hankin and Nico in the same breath. Every article I’ve read mentions Todd Rundgren. The band say that they’re influenced by Pavement, Pixies, Cate Le Bon, David Bowie, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Beach Boys, ABBA, and others. Also, as a bit of trivia, the girls went to the same high school as Ray and Dave Davies out of The Kinks.

The only really close comparison to twee pop that I might make is to say that I’m reminded of The Softies, or Brave Irene, or any of Rose Melberg’s projects that weren’t called Tiger Trap. There’s a bit in tonight’s song that reminds me A LOT of the hit song “Evil Woman” by Electic Light Orchestra. And in a general sort of way, especially on some of the other songs, I’m reminded of Badfinger. These young gals have a lot of talent, and with the exception of Cate Le Bon, no matter what band you compare them to, it’s from before they were born.

They formed in 2015, and released their first single –“Trouble”– last autumn. They followed with a single for “Preacher” last month. After a lot of rave reviews in the UK music press and a few over here, they’ve generated a lot of buzz around their debut record coming out tomorrow.

Tonight’s song is, from what I’ve read, about having a supercrush (intentional reference back to Tiger Trap) on someone, then doing a bunch of stupid things just to get close or feel close to them. Things like obsessively watching a movie that their crush mentioned in passing, or obsessively eating and drinking stuff that their crush eats and drinks. You know… Standard issue pseudo-stalking.

I don’t know if the Bandcamp clip is an abbreviated version of the real song or if the music video is an extended version, but the Bandcamp version picks up at about 1:10 of the video. Either way, here’s the audio:

“Stupid Things” by Girl Ray

It’s that first bit with the piano and the “Ooh hooo hooooo-oooo” that makes me thing so much of “Evil Woman”. It’s the first thing I thought of as soon as I heard the first few seconds of this song. After that, it doesn’t sound like or remind me of ELO at all.

For good measure, here’s the cinematic video for the song:

They have sold out of the first pressing of the vinyl, but you can still buy the album via Bandcamp on CD or as a download.


July 24, 2017 — “Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher

Jen Cloher

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher (2017, from the forthcoming album Jen Cloher).

Jen Cloher is an indie-folk/rock singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She has released three albums and a couple of EPs and singles, but I didn’t know much about her until recently. Actually, I did, but I didn’t. She has been dating indie darling/rising superstar Courtney Barnett for several years, and they’ve collaborated on each other’s records before. On August 11, she’ll release her fourth album —Jen Cloher— via Milk Records, which is the label that Cloher and Barnett run.

I got something in the mailbag about a different song from the new record, and I knew right away that I like this record. Tonight’s song is about “the sacrifices and difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship with a high-profile partner”. They live together, but Barnett spent a long time touring with her brilliant debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, so I guess they’ve spent a lot of time apart from each other. We’ll get to that later.

The album was recorded in a one-room studio in a rural Australian town, then mixed in Jeff Tweedy’s studio in Chicago. Barnett contributed guitar and vocals to the entire album. Their friend Kurt Vile also played guitar on one track, and Andrew “Bones” Sloane (bass) is a full-time member of the band. Both are also frequent collaborators with Barnett.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s song:
“Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher

It’s a great song that reminds me of a lot of things. There are bits that remind me of The Breeders and bits that remind me of Bettie Serveert. In a weird way, the bass and drums remind me of Butterglory. There are obviously bits that remind me of Courtney Barnett. Despite how catchy and toe-tap inducing it might be, it’s kind of a downer. The words to the last verse tell the whole story of dealing with being apart from her love:

You’re riding round the world
You’re doing this and you’re signing that
The facts are that you’re there and I’m here
When you’re gone too long I become an idea
I’m driving in my car
Your song comes on the radio
And I remember what I always forget
Loneliness.

That’s kind of intense. But it’s about to get better. Jen Cloher will be touring with this record. Courtney Barnett will be on tour with the album she made with Kurt Vile. For a few weeks in the United States this autumn, they’ll all be touring together. I don’t know who headlines those shows, but it sounds like a badass show. If I’m honest, I’m not wild about Kurt Vile, but that would be an amazing show.

The eponymous Jen Cloher album comes out on August 11, and you can pre-order it via Bandcamp here, or via the label here.

Also, there’s a great video for the song. And it’s packed full of people who have something to do with Milk Records or the Melbourne music scene. You’ll easily recognize Courtney Barnett. “Bones” Sloane plays the guy making art with his food. Jen Sholakis, who plays drums in the band (and a couple of other Melbourne bands), is drinking coffee. Tain Stangret, who sings on a couple of songs, is the waitress. You may recognize her from Courtney Barnett’s incredible video for “Elevator Operator”. The dishwasher is played by Anika Ostendorf, who makes dream-pop under the name Hachiku. The cook is played by a guy called Tejo D’Cruz. It took a bit of internet research, but I figured out that he used to be in a Singapore pop-punk band called Aspectrum. Now he lives in Melbourne, and does a decent Elliot Smith cover.

Anyway, now that you’ve got the cast and all their bios, here’s the video:

The video is worth watching multiple times because there are lots of really subtle and cool things going on. It’s weird, but it’s fun.


June 7, 2017 — “Skim” by Torres

Torres

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Skim” by Torres (2017, from the standalone single “Skim” and forthcoming album).

Torres is the stage name for indie rock musician Mackenzie Scott. She’s originally from somewhere in rural Georgia, and she got her start in Nashville. Her 2013 debut TORRES was my second favourite album of that year. Her sophomore release Sprinter was my 18th favourite album of that year. I also had the pleasure of seeing her at the 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival. Read about that here.

I didn’t have it on my radar, but Torres released a single and accompanying video yesterday via 4AD Records. I didn’t even know that she had signed with 4AD until I saw the video pop up in my twitter feed. She hasn’t divulged any details, but there apparently is a new album on the horizon.

I’ve only watched the video about a thousand times since last night. While the first record was more “indie folk” than rock and the second record was more “indie rock” than folk, it sounds like this might be something different entirely. It’s just one song, but this sounds like a new direction for her. This song reminds me quite a bit of St. Vincent’s marvelous 2011 album Strange Mercy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that Annie Clark played guitar on this. If she didn’t, Torres is taking a page straight out of her book and a line from her page. Incidentally, I think Annie Clark has gotten a little weird since Strange Mercy, but that’s a different story for a different day.

This video has some strange direction, but it’s brilliant. It’s mysterious and sexy and dark and confusing. And I love it.

“Skim” by Torres

I absolutely love the line “There’s no unlit corner of a room I’m in”, and the line “I know every tense in which I cannot exist”. At least I think that’s what the line is.

The video was directed by Ashley Connor, who has directed lots of videos for Angel Olsen, as well as a few for Jenny Lewis, Jenny Hval, Julianna Barwick, and others. She also did the creepy/sexy/magnificent video for “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski. If you haven’t already, you should take the time to watch that video here. Just as she did with “Your Best American Girl”, Connor wants us to feel like creepy, filthy voyeurs with “Skim”. She also wants us to be confused. About a lot of things. No matter what, it’s a wonderfully shot video that has a few surprises in it. Also, as an added bonus, those scenes in the shower are also a subtle echo of some of the press photos from the first album. I like that.

As I said, there’s no word on when the new album is out, or even what it’s called. For the time being, we should just enjoy the video again and again.


May 28, 2017 — “Mesa” by Cayetana

Cayetana

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Mesa” by Cayetana (2017, from the album New Kind of Normal).

Cayetana is an indie rock/pop-punk trio from Philadelphia. I don’t know anything about them, but I got something in the mailbag promoting their new sophomore album, and specifically a different song from the album. My attention was grabbed when the email mentioned that these gals will soon be on tour in support of the wonderful Waxahatchee. After listening to that other song and a few others, it makes perfect sense for this band to share a stage with Katie Crutchfield. They have a very comparable sound and some similar themes. Today’s song is about heartache and disappointment, but the rest of the album has bigger themes. According to what I’ve read, the album is about mental illness, learning to live with that, and learning to accept certain things that you can’t change instead of trying to fight against them.

The band is very into DIY, so instead of shopping their album around to labels, they started their own record label –Plum Records– to release this album. It looks like they’re the only band on the label right now, but there may be more to come later.

I haven’t heard the album in its entirety, but I really like a few of the songs. Especially this one:
“Mesa” by Cayetana

As much as I’m reminded of Waxahatchee, I’m also reminded a bit of the Vancouver duo Drawn Ship, who put out two records before vanishing from the face of the earth in 2013.

I like that this is gritty and has some attitude. It’s also simultaneously happy and grim:

Together we made flowers out of weeds
We jumped in garbage instead of leaves

There’s a nice, artistic video for the song here:

The way the girls enter the room through that tiny door sort of reminds me of the Sleater-Kinney video for “Modern Girl”, in which Janet enters the playing space through an open window, while Corin And Carrie are already playing.

Cayetana’s new record was out on May 5, and you can get it here.


April 5, 2017 — “Bath Bomb” by Diet Cig

Diet Cig

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Bath Bomb” by Diet Cig (2017, from the forthcoming album Swear I’m Good at This).

Diet Cig is a pop-punk/indie-pop/cuddlepunk duo from New Paltz, New York. They are Alex Luciano (guitar/vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums), and they’re one of my most favourite special new bands. You may remember that I’ve raved about them before here, in 2015, and here again last year. I also had a lot to say about their scorching and exuberant set at Hopscotch 2016. It was, by far, my favourite set of the festival. Beach House was great. Beach Slang was awesome. Car Seat Headrest was a lot of fun. Wye Oak was brilliant. I saw Kid Millions about five times, and he was amazing. All of those and everything else paled in comparison to the Diet Cig set. They were the thing that I was most looking forward to at that festival, and they exceeded my expectations by miles.

A few months ago, I was delighted to see their debut album on the list of new releases for 2017. The album — Swear I’m Good at This— comes out on Friday via the magnificent Father/Daughter Records. That label, if you’re scoring along at home, is home to many of the bands that have made my year-end lists over the past couple of years. I know I didn’t actually publish a list for 2016, but there’s a few Father/Daughter albums this year that have already secured spots in my 2017 year-end list. This is one of them.

I’ve managed to get my ears on Swear I’m Good at This a couple of days early, and I absolutely love it. It’s got everything that I loved about the Over Easy EP, but it’s even better.

I’ve listened to most of the album already and I love all of it. But when I got to “Bath Bomb”, I couldn’t go any further. I had to keep playing the song again and again. And again. It’s got the quiet/loud/quiet/louder thing going on. It’s got all the bounciness and sheer joy that I’ve come to expect from Diet Cig. And it’s about lying in the bath for a long time until your fingers prune.

Because the album isn’t out yet, there isn’t a sharable audio of the song, but there’s a video of them playing live in some studio. It’s slightly cleaner and brighter than the DIY sound of the album’s version, but don’t hold that against it. It’s brilliant. This is that song:

“Bath Bomb” by Diet Cig

I love that it starts quietly with just a tiny bit of fuzz in Alex’s gently played guitar while Noah plays the kit with mallets. It builds to a low roar before getting quiet again. After she yells “I’m sorry”, the hammer drops and all sonic hell gloriously breaks loose. Noah switches to regular sticks and Alex goes into full “loud” mode. In the album version of the song, she yells “I’m sorry” off mic. It’s muffled, almost as if she’s in a different room. During the quieter bits of the album version, you can hear a little bit of buzz from some piece of equipment, which gives it a bit of a bedroom recording quality. Compare those things to the lush, bright quality of this version. As cool as this version is, I really prefer the rusticity of the album version.

The band is on tour of the US this spring, and you should absolutely see them if you have a chance.

You can pre-order Swear I’m Good at This on vinyl, CD, cassette or digital download via Bandcamp here.


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