Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet vitriol at him @btr0218.
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here are four songs we think you should fucking know (this week).
- Fryars – “Cool Like Me”
Back last December, when I first wrote about Fryars (aka Ben Garret), I compared him to a professional wrestler whose character personas would either shift or pull a straight up 180 at times during their career because of Garret’s dramatic change in sound in between releases. While already proud of myself for sneaking in a nod to my middle school WWF fandom (I will never call it WWE; fuck you and your near-extinct tigers World Wildlife Fund), the analogy is getting even more applicable with his newest single, “Cool Like Me.”
First, Fryars saw some slight critical acclaim with quirky pop songs like “The Ides” (which has really grown on me), but then really started getting attention a bit later with songs like “Love So Cold” and “In Your Arms,” both of which see Ben Garrett playing the role of soulful crooner over stark electronic beats. It was an interesting but nonetheless enjoyable character switch, and I was excited to have something else besides James Blake to play when I wanted to cry digital tears.
But now he’s done it again and released a song that sounds like nothing he’s ever done. It’s a swaggered out disco trip that would feel more at home on a Daft Punk album then a James Blake one. And it’s a bold move considering you can throw a rock in any direction and hit 50 synth-pop bands these days, but Garret has put together such a gem of a song with “Cool Like Me” that he immediately elevates himself onto a higher tier.
I love the unexpected confidence in his vocals, especially after knowing that he can also play it seriously when he wants to. The Daft Punkian disco funk (computer vocals and all) may be a little borrowed, but the song does its source enough justice that its too enjoyable to really criticize.
While I was perfectly fine with Ben Garret’s sad electronic R&B character, I can definitely get behind his newest sonic incarnation and hope we get a few more great appearances from him before Garret inevitably transforms himself again.
- The Raised By Wolves – “Stung (Song For Him)”
For those of you that read my first-listen/interview with ACME and thought that it didn’t totally suck, you can look forward to another edition of Bands Bryce Should Fucking Know (working title) next week, as I’ll be sitting down with D.C.-based, alt-pop newbies The Raised By Wolves to check out their debut album, Sadie Hawkins, before it’s released, so keep your eyes out for that sometime next week.
But before I even begin talking about their music, can we just admit that The Raised By Wolves is a great band name? They deserve a mini-applause for branding alone. But the songwriting duo of Ben Eskin and Dusty Durston (another great name) that make up the band are more than just a clever band name.
The two hail from Bethesda, MD where they grew up together and began writing songs in 2004. After what I can only assume was a Superbad-esque heartbreaking moment where they decided to attend different schools, the two committed to a long-distance music project that only recently began to take final shape in terms of a recording, their debut album Sadie Hawkins, which will be released July 23rd.
I was introduced to “Stung (Song For Him),” the debut single from the album, because Ben had the balls to email me with it and the charm to seduce me with compliments about how great I am. It was enough to get me to click play on the song he attached, and, as I told him, it took me all of seven seconds to want to know more about and hear more from this well-named group.
The beginning of the track sees them doing a fairly commendable Strokes impersonation, but at the0:20 mark, when that first lush guitar is strummed, you can tell there is some real substance to this song. The pre-chorus relatively explodes into a staccato’ed march that would make a Photo Album-era Ben Gibbard proud before allowing the chorus to settle into a very ’90s alternative pop bounce, and by the time their second chorus breaks into a fuzzed out guitar solo, the inner huge Harvey Danger fan in me is just bursting with happiness. With “Stung,” The Raised By Wolves have found a way to take that decidedly ’90s simplistic pop sensibility and modernize it with a youthful energy and awareness to create a song that feels both classic and refreshing.
The group prides themselves on a “dedication to writing heartfelt pop songs and presenting them in unorthodox ways,” and if this is any indication of what we can expect from Sadie Hawkins when it’s released next week, then the DC area might have it’s newest band to latch onto.
- Smallpools – Dreaming Pools EP
I’ve written about Dreaming Pools’ debut single here and pegged them as my Inescapable Summer 2013 band here already, but they’re going to get just a little more digital ink and column space from me now. To rehash all the particulars, Smallpools are an L.A.-based quartet that have a knack for putting together hooky, sugary sweet synth-pop that is hard to listen to just once.
Yesterday, they released their four-song self-titled EP that is definitely going to steal away a few fans from Michael Angelakos’ crew. While I’ve already written about “Dreaming” ad nauseum and “Mason Jars” has seen some solid press, it’s the third track, “On and On,” which might be their best song and the one that ultimately helps them really breakthrough. The bright guitar, the tropical beat, and the anthemic chorus has everything necessary to take over radio waves (or Spotify playlists these days, I guess?) and be a fitting soundtrack for the second half of summer.
For those of you feeling spontaneous, they’re playing Rock and Roll Hotel tomorrow night opening up for San Cisco and tickets are only $14. Go, dance in the summer heat, and celebrate your ever-fleeting youth.
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Sarah Zukowski Edition
Sarah is like so super important in politics that she can’t talk about it because our system is broken and Kevin Spacey’s character in House of Cards will use it as blackmail against her. [written by Bryce Rudow]
- Dan Croll – “In/Out”
When discussing Dan Croll, I think it would be apt to temporarily change the title of this article to “Artists You Should F*cking Know” because Dan Croll’s entire catalogue is fantastic. I just recently came back into the professional world of political campaigning after a several-month hiatus and have had a hard time working for long periods of time without feeling like my brain is going to explode, but fortunately for my sanity, I found this Dan Croll song and it’s made me realize that life is actually great, exploding brain and all.
“In/Out” has a vague resemblance to a Vampire Weekend track, but it accomplishes much more than VW ever did for me. “In/Out’s” chorus reaches such an awesome pinnacle of sound that I have a hard time not getting up and dancing like this, inspiration that I find hard to come by these days, especially while working 20-hour days. It’s that perfect style of crazy party dance song because it gives the listener some time to relax and catch their breath before it ramps up again. BOOM! I just love it…
After going to a small school in Ohio where crazy spastic dancing was the norm, I was saddened to discover that this isn’t so widely accepted in the real world, but Dan Croll’s “In/Out” gives me faith that I’m not the only one who enjoys looking like they’re having a seizure while listening to an awesome song.
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com, tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Read.