Tag Archives: video

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.


February 28, 2017 — “Teasin'” by Hiccup

Hiccup

Hiccup

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Teasin'” by Hiccup (2017, from the forthcoming album Imaginary Enemies).
Hiccup is a pop-punk/indie rock/garage rock trio from Brooklyn. They released a self-titled EP in 2015, and they’re set to release their debut album via Father/Daughter Records on March 24.

Hallie Bulleit (bass/vocals) and Alex Clute (guitar/vocals) met when they were hired as the house band on The Chris Gethard show, which started out on late night public access TV in NYC, then made it to cable, and is now part of the Funny or Die family. For that show, they wrote silly, poppy, punky 30-seconds songs that never saw the light of day. They decided that they wanted to record some real songs, and they recruited Piyal Basu (drums) to round out the band. The three are huge fans of The Ramones, and claim to be influenced by the likes of The Smoking Popes, Superchunk, and Jawbreaker.

It’s worth mentioning that Bulleit has been in a couple of other bands, but she’s also an actress, percussionist and aerialist with some real chops. On Broadway, she’s been in Stomp, Fuerza Bruta, and Rent. She also was in a Los Angeles production of Rent alongside Neil Patrick Harris.

I got something in the mailbag a couple of weeks ago that was specifically about a different Hiccup song, but I starred the email and put a sticky note on my laptop to write about them “soon”. I liked the video for that song (“Lady Macbeth & Miss Havisham”), and I’ve really been loving the output from Father/Daughter Records lately, so I knew it was a winner. Last night, when I was looking for other stuff, I happened upon the video for tonight’s song, and I liked it and the song so much that I felt some more urgency to write about them.

I haven’t heard the whole album yet, but I love the two songs that I have heard, and I’m looking forward to the March 24 release of their debut album.

Tonight’s song brings to my mind what might happen if Superchunk did a raucous set of Neutral Milk Hotel covers.

This is that song:
“Teasin'” by Hiccup

It’s just a fast and gritty power pop song. It’s all blood, sweat and beer. It’s got great hooks, and really love that middle eight section from 1:26 to 1:36 where it’s just the guitar, and it’s a bit calmer and all muffled. The chorus kicks back in and hell breaks loose again. At least for one more minute.

The video is a bit of fun. A little bit “performance”, but mainly it seems to be about the drudgery of office jobs. Here’s that video:

The album will be out on March 24. You can pre-order physical copies here. There are two different pressings of vinyl. One on “mustard yellow/aqua blue”, and one on translucent “piss yellow”. There’s also a CD version and a digital download version.


February 26, 2017 — “Self-Unemployed” by The Luyas

The Luyas

The Luyas

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Self-Unemployed” by The Luyas (2017, from the album Human Voicing).

The Luyas is an experimental indie rock/krautrock quartet from Toronto. They formed in 2006, and released their debut record Faker Death the next year. They followed with Too Beautiful to Work in 2011 and Animator in 2012. It’s always pointed out, and I’ll do it again, that Luyas frontwoman Jessie Stein, with her small, soft, mildly squeaky voice, sounds VERY MUCH like the late Trish Keenan out of Broadcast. Their music is also reminiscent of stuff like Broadcast and Stereolab.

Way back before I started writing this blog, I called Too Beautiful to Work my third favourite Canadian album of 2011. The next year, over on this blog, I called Animator my fourth favourite album of 2012.

The band took a hiatus after touring with Animator, and to be honest, I didn’t think about them very often during that hiatus. Last year, they finally emerged from their hibernation with an EP called Says You, but it slipped totally under my radar. This year, I was very excited when I learned that they had a new record, which just came out on February 24. I got my ears on a copy of Human Voicing, and it’s everything that I hoped it would be. The first time I listened to the new album, I listened through crappy car stereo speakers, and I really loved it. I was really blown away by tonight’s song, which I had to play again and again and again before moving on to the album’s third song. Now that I’ve had time, I’ve also listened to it on headphones, and of course I like it a lot better that way.

It’s a gloriously noisy piece with a nice motorik beat and some interesting stuff going on in the stereo field. It’s definitely worth your while to listen to this on a quality set of headphones or earbuds. I’ve said that about every record by The Luyas, and I’m not ashamed that I’ve said it again.

I love all eight songs on the new record, but this is the one that got me the most excited. This is that song.

“Self-Unemployed” by The Luyas

It sounds a little bit like it’s been taken out of context; the way the song starts so abruptly sounds like it might be a cross-fade from the previous song. However, that’s just the way the song is. It’s meant to have that jolt. It gets a bit noisy and chaotic, and then at about 0:34, there’s another sudden jolt into the main part of the song. I absolutely love the buzzy synth and the motorik drum bit that pairs with Stein’s nifty bass part. There’s some other percussion mixed in and a lot of other stuff mixed in that almost turns into a wall of sound. It may be a tiny bit chaotic, but I adore the beautiful noise.

Just when you think it might go on for a bit longer, it comes to full stop after a chorus. Again, it’s a bit jarring, but I love it. A lot.

Just as the previous two records did, I imagine this one will finish in at least the top 10 of my year-end list. I know I never published one from 2016, but I’m definitely going to in 2017.

There’s an official video, but I really prefer this live performance video, which is considerably less noisy:

You can order the album via Bandcamp here. They have several different format options, including digital, CD, and a limited edition hot pink vinyl.


February 23, 2017 — “5 Flucloxacillin” by Los Campesinos!

Los Campesinos!

Los Campesinos!

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “5 Flucloxacillin” by Los Campesinos! (2017, from the album Sick Scenes).

Los Campesinos! is a twee pop/indie pop septet from Cardiff. Although they’re based in Wales, none of them is actually Welsh. They also don’t use their surnames in the band. For the purposes of the band they are simply:

  • Gareth Campesinos — lead vocals/glockenspiel
  • Neil Campesinos — guitar
  • Tom Campesinos — lead guitar
  • Kim Campesinos — vocals/keys
  • Rob Campesinos — keys
  • Jason Campesinos — drums
  • Matt Campesinos — bass
  • They formed in 2006 and have released five proper albums and a bunch of other releases. The lineup has changed a bit over the years, but it’s been pretty much the same since founding member Ellen Waddell (bass) tearfully left the band in 2012. The next year, they released a very good album called No Blues, and after a bit of a break, they’re set to release their sixth album Sick Scenes tomorrow via Wichita Recordings.

    For a few weeks now, the band has been releasing songs from the album, and I like them all. It’s all everything that we expect from and love about Los Campesinos!: glorious indie pop with big hooks and lyrics full of clever wordplay.

    Today’s song is about prescription medication, and sometimes the taking of unidentified pills found in the bottom of one’s bag. The title refers to flucloxacillin, which is a type of penicillin. In the lyrics of the song, they name some other medication — salbutamol (for asthma and COPD), sertraline (for depression, OCD, and social anxiety), and tramadol (for severe pain).

    In a nutshell, the song is about how people in their thirties are often heavily medicated and have been for a good part of their lives. And it’s about older people not understanding that.

    There’s also, in the chorus, references to competitive cycling.

    A peloton of (old age pensioners) cycling up behind me
    shouting “step up your paces, we’ve got places to be”
    A pile-on of OAPs crashing in my slipstream
    I shout “shut up your faces, I’m not your domestique”

    I had to look up “domestique”, and it didn’t mean what I thought it might. The domestique is that guy who rides in front of his teammates, setting a pace and creating a slipstream for them to ride in. Eventually, the team, or the team leader, slingshots around the domestique. He works harder than his teammates do, and they get the glory.

    It’s not often that heavy prescription medication and competitive cycling techniques are referenced in the same song. But that’s Los Campesinos! for you.

    This is that song:
    “5 Flucloxacillin” by Los Campesinos!

    The intro sounds a bit like it should be in a beer commercial, but it kicks in at around 0:15 and has the unmistakable sound of Los Campesinos!. To be fair, though, they did have one of their songs in a Budweiser commercial a few years ago.

    Anyway, the structure of the song, Gareth’s voice, the call-and response, the vocal harmonies, the clever and bizarre lyrics. All things that make up the Los Campesinos! signature. You’re not going to mistake one of their songs for a different band.

    There’s also a great video for the song, in which the band members participate in a British game show called “Bargain Hunt”. On that show, teams of contestants buy antiques at shops, then try to sell them at auction for a profit. It’s been on the air for something like 15 years.

    This is that video:

    Worth noting in the video is that Gareth finds a painting of some dude that looks just like him. It’s actually something they worked up for the video. It’s based on “Man Suffering from Delusions of Military Rank”, which was painted in 1822 by the French artist Théodore Géricault. See that painting here. This, by the way, is not a thing that I know. I did some research, including using a cropped screenshot from the video to do a reverse image search of the painting.

    It’s also worth noting that the red team finds a copy of the first Los Campesinos record in a bargain bin. Probably also planted for the purpose of the video.

    Los Campesinos! are touring the US now, and the new record comes out tomorrow. You can buy the album via Bandcamp here.


    February 17, 2017 — “The Embers” by Vagabon

    Lætitia Tamko of Vagabon

    Lætitia Tamko of Vagabon

    If you only listen to one song today, make it “The Embers” by Vagabon (2017, from the forthcoming album Infinite Worlds).

    Vagabon is a lo-fi indie rock/punk/folk recording project for the NYC-based singer/multi-instrumentalist Lætitia Tamko. She was born in Cameroon, and her family moved to New York when she was thirteen. At age 17, she taught herself to play on a guitar that her parents bought at Costco. Years later, when she was off at college, she would tell her parents that she spent every weekend holed up in the library, when in reality, she was out every weekend night playing shows in small clubs. Eventually, at one of those shows, she was approached by the founder of Miscreant Records, who wanted to release a record for her.
    That record was the Persian Garden EP, which was released in November of 2014 and has been out of print for a long time. Some of the songs from that release, including today’s song, have been reworked and renamed for the forthcoming debut long player Infinite Worlds. That record will be released next Friday, February 24 by Father/Daughter Records.

    While Tamko does a lot of the heavy lifting on the album, she has a full backing band and there are a few guest vocalists on the album including Greta Kline, who is also known as Frankie Cosmos.

    “Cold Apartment”, from the forthcoming album reminds me a lot of Torres. It’s just a reworked version of a song called “Cold Apartment Floors” from Persian Garden. Similarly, today’s song is a reworked version of a song called “Sharks” from Persian Garden.

    “The Embers” by Vagabon

    I love the rawness of it. Although it wasn’t recorded in a bedroom, it has that feel to it. It starts with just her voice and a muted guitar, but by the end of the big chorus, it’s a cacophonous lo-fi buzz.

    It’s impossible to write about Vagabon without mentioning two things. One is the opening lyric in today’s song:

    I feel so small
    My feet can barely touch the floor
    On the bus where everybody is tall

    The whole theme of the song is feeling small. Not just in stature but “small” in the grand scheme. Insignificant. I think it’s a running theme throughout many of the songs.

    Run and tell everybody Lætitia is a small fish
    I’m just a small fish
    You’re a shark that hates everything
    You’re a shark that eats every fish

    The other thing that’s impossible not to write about is that she’s not just a black woman, but an African black woman in the world of indie rock and freak-folk, which is a world inhabited almost exclusively by white people. Although being a Cameroonian partially defines who she is as a person, she doesn’t necessarily want her skin colour or the continent where she was born to be part of how she’s described as a musician. She told the Village Voice about this:

    I struggle with wanting to just make music and do my thing and not have a face, but I also want to be visible

    .

    That EP back in 2014 got lots of good reviews and the forthcoming full length record has been eagerly anticipated. If I’m honest, though, I didn’t know about Vagabon until I got something in the mailbag early this morning. You can stream the whole album via NPR First Listen here. I’ve listened to most of it, and I really like it. I’ve listened to today’s song a bunch of times already, and I can’t get enough.

    The album comes out next Friday, and you can pre-order it via Father/Daughter in your choice of formats here.

    Also, for extra credit, here’s a video for the song:


    %d bloggers like this: