Bryce Rudow is a contributing writer for All Things Go
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here’s four songs we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
- Tanlines – Brothers
While the song isn’t new, the video is, and that is all the reason I need to gush about this band. The Multiplicity-inspired music video helps remind the viewer that despite the multitude of instruments, Tanlines is just composed of Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen. That might be hard to keep in mind when you hear them building such grandiose synth pop (and when they start cloning themselves on screen), but in the video, we get to see just what goes into quilting their warm, layered melodies and steady percussive tracks.
“Not The Same” is the emotional catharsis of Mixed Emotions, their stellar debut album. The first single, “Brothers,” was the first song to draw me into the band, with its catchy drum line and addictive tight vocals, but “Not The Same” was the song that made me respect just how talented these two guys are. The haunting piano line, hypnotic thudding drums, and restrained-but-still-emotive vocals ebb and flow along until a perfectly minimized ending closes it out.
This is the song I will be waiting for when they play The Black Cat on Friday.
- Coheed and Cambria – Afterman
Coheed and Cambria have come a long way since they were screaming about Devils in Jersey City on their debut album The Second Stage Turbine Blade, and I have enjoyed every minute of their musical journey. I am proudly a huge Coheed fan, something that if I didn’t know deep down was so secretly awesome, I’d be a little ashamed to admit. You see, it’s pretty hard to explain to the uninitiated that this falsetto’d post-punk-turned-prog-rock band’s discography encapsulates one giant, epic science-fiction tale that involves robots, destructive viruses, intergalactic warfare, a meta tragic love story involving the writer of the tale, a demonic bicycle, and a dog named Apollo…and that the lead singer looks like this:
Throughout their musical career, Claudio Sanchez and his bandmates have taken on a fair amount of different sub-genres falling under the rock flag. Their ear-catching debut was a take on pop-punk/emo that no one had ever really heard before (Side note: They were in D.C. last year doing that album straight through and ATG editor, Adrian, and I channeled our inner 17-year-old selves for one night of adolescent nostalgic bliss. Actually, I have a whole side-rant about this*). Each passing album of theirs saw another step in the maturation of their sound, while also experimenting with diverse new genres.
The Rush comparison is easy to make (though they have gone on record saying they never listened to Rush before making music of their own), but there are moments on In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 where they’re channeling Paul McCartney’s Beatles, and songs like “Here We Are Juggernaut” and the Rock Band-infamous “Welcome Home“ shred harder than most metal songs. Yet throughout all of these musical forays, they have told a complex, clever, and compelling story that is better than anything you’re going to see thrown in the next Star Wars movies.
While it’s apparent that these guys can rock harder than most, what’s equally impressive is their ability to create soft, beautiful songs that still somehow fit perfectly in-between prog-rock guitar solos and ear-piercing vocal melodies. The acoustic version of “Junesong Provision,” ”Wake Up”, and even Year of the Black Rainbow’s “Far” showcase the band’s softer side with great success. With, “The Afterman”, the second single off The Afterman: Ascension, they tap into that same soft side, but explore an almost Explosions in the Sky level of expansive, climactic musicality. The delayed guitars and strings that frame Claudio’s soft vocals create a walking dream of a song, and the music video’s pastoral beauty suits it to a tee.
Afterman: The Ascension is the first release of a double album that will be completed when Afterman: Descension is released February 15th. They’ll also be doing two nights at the 9:30 Club in February, and I already have my tickets of the Tuesday show. I’ll be the one way too into it, proudly letting my nerd flag fly high.
* There has been a noticeable trend of pop-punks bands from the early 2000′s going on tour playing their seminal albums straight through. Coheed and Cambria, Taking Back Sunday (just saw it last week, still not embarrassed to admit it was one of the best shows I’ve been to all year), New Found Glory, and even The Starting Line have all gotten in on the act….and I love it. Going to these shows is like going through a time machine where you get to feel like you’re a teenager again but without, to quote James Murphy, “the feelings of a real life emotional teenager.” Therefore, I am now putting Brand New’s Deja Entendu, Saves The Day’s Through Being Cool, Something Corporate’s Leaving Through The Window (and North…and “Konstantine“), and, since we’re already this far down into the emo well, Dashboard Confessional’s Swiss Army Romance all on notice. These need to be played again live. Please make that happen. Thank you.
- Ballet School – Ghost
Berlin-by-way-of-Belfast’s Ballet School have crafted a delightfully forceful bit of dream pop with their new song “Ghost.” I read that their last single, “All Things Return At Night,” gained popularity because fellow-Brits Bloc Party showed them some Facebook love, which makes my heart smile. While not a huge fan of the last album, snaps to Bloc Party for helping a great up-and-coming band out. The track manipulated crooning New Wave into a dance song and saw a fair amount of good coverage surrounding it. However, with “Ghost”, they take an 80′s dance beat and shape it into a near-ballad.
Vocalist Rosie Blair, who met bandmate Michel Collet in the U-bahn in Berlin, charms her wholesomely seductive vocals over tight drum and bass lines and delivers continuous hooks throughout the track. The emotional outro is nothing just short of majestic.
- Local Natives – Breakers
Local Natives debut, Gorilla Manor, caught my attention thanks to standout tracks like “Wide Eyes” and “Sun Hands” (which definitely cracks the top 5 in terms of songs praising the sun). Their blend of psychedelic pop and West Coast folk (yep, made that one up) helped make the self-funded album a breakout hit.
“Breakers” and its accompanying video are our first glimpse into their sophomore album, Butterflies. The video is about has hard to put a finger on as their sound, with clips of a beached spaceman, masked band members, a slow-motion fall down a flight of stairs, and performance footage all thrown together. The song, however, marks a definite maturation in sound for the Silver Lake boys. Perhaps it was their time touring with The National and Arcade Fire, but their songwriting now has a more direct sense of purpose, something that is a mixed bag for a band whose youthful, musical schizophrenia was part of their appeal. Still, on “Breakers”, they prove that growing up isn’t all bad, cooking up a churning drum line that almost resembles the ocean itself. They’ve also reached a new level of comfort vocally that is shown off over simple but effective instrumentation.
Gorilla Manor is scheduled for a January 29th release and they’ll be coming to the 9:30 Club April 5th (You can take advantage of an Artist Early Sale by clicking here. Who loves you baby?)
- 50 Cent featuring Eminem – My Life
Because of 50′s current status (or lack thereof) in the hip-hop community, a lot of people forget just how highly touted he was after his debut album, Get Rich or Die Trying, was released. I remember drinking Bacardi on my 16th birthday that we bought from the one store that didn’t card and blasting “In Da Club” on repeat with my friends. I remember keeping my teeth clenched so I could try and better imitate 50′s affected verses while rapping along with “Patiently Waiting.” I remember idolizing the near-immortal rapper who had been shot more times than any urban legend could keep up with. His album was so consistently great that we even excused his sophomore slump, choosing to instead focus on his potential talent. However, when that sophomore slump became a junior slump, a forgettable movie, and a regrettable video game, it was hard to give him the same kind of respect we used to have for him.
That is why it was with tremendous amounts of trepidation that I clicked play when I saw that he had released a new single, but I have to admit I’m pleasantly surprised. With production help from S1, 50 Cent attempts to wipe the slate clean and get back to his roots, and he does so with one of the best flows of his career. Mentor Eminen’s guest verse may blow his out of the water, but only in his prime could 50 ever really keep up with Mr. Mathers anyway, and his valiant effort might even be more deserving of applause because of its unexpectedness. Both rappers atone for some past musical mistakes, but justifiably announce that they’re back and ready to put up a fight. It’s almost enough to make me forget that Adam Levine is doing the chorus to this song for some reason.
While I’m still a little skeptical, Street King Immortal, which is set for a release on January 15th, at least has my attention now.