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 five songs we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
- Win Win – After the Wait
As the inevitable “Trends of 2012″ articles start popping up (and don’t worry, I know BYT is having their own one come out soon), a lot of people have been bringing up the cyclical return of 90’s-era rock, focusing on bands like The Japandroids to make their point. While I totally see where they are coming from, I don’t think we can lock “the 90’s” into that one specific sub-genre of rock that is being touted as definitively “90’s”. In fact, one of my favorite genres, what was once dubbed “college rock”, is also popping up as an influence in recent releases. The semi-monotonic vocal lines that amble along simple melodies were perfected on albums like Beautiful Freak by The Eels , but where there once was just a fuzzed out guitar backing them up, there are now electronic beats and production tricks. Bands like Lydia Burrell (who are fantastic, by the way) and Win Win have found a way to infuse that college rock 90’s aesthetic with the decidedly 80’s-influenced music of today.
Win Win is the collection of Spank Rock founding member and producer Alex “XXXChange” Epton, his amigo Chis Devlin, and visual-artist-turned-musician Ryan “Ghostdad” Sciano. While they did release a debut album last winter, it was more of a production showcase, featuring guest vocalists from Hot Chip, Gang Gang Dance, and the like. Their sophomore effort, Double Vision, sees the trio taking a more hands-on approach and doing it very successfully.
They have gone on record saying that they aren’t “natural songwriters,” but that’s hard to tell from the second single off Double Vision, “After The Wait”. A subdued, driving beat sets the stage for an originally straightforward song that, after letting enough blips and bleeps worm through, gives into a glitched guitar breakdown and a swelling, satisfying outro.
Double Vision, released last month (I know, I’m behind the times) is well worth a spin or two.
- Darwin Deez- I’m Free
Welp. It looks like I can add Darwin Deez to the “How The Hell Did I Miss This Band” list. As a newcomer to the cult of Deez, I have gotten to enjoy their musical catalog in reverse-chronological order. Having heard the first single, “I’m Free”, off of their upcoming album I knew the (as of this present moment) fantastic end point of their musical journey and got to then see what that was essentially built from. Going back and listening to their delightful, self-titled first album, I appreciated the quirky angst rock that is both immediately accessible yet also rewarding to repeated listeners. Having said that, I would not think that the band behind that album was capable of the cacophonic, anthemic lullaby that is “I’m Free”.
I could use this song as another example of 90’s alt-rock’s burgeoning influence on modern music, but I think that might be the simple answer. Frontman Dawson Smith’s ode to individuality is the first single off the upcoming release Songs For Imaginative People and evidence of an artistic awakening in the group’s music. The previously-diminutive sounding vocals on their freshman album have been replaced with carefree, emphatic wailings, and the compressed instrumentation has been given some room to breathe. Listening to those earlier songs having already heard “I’m Free” was like checking out Batman Begins after seeing The Dark Knight. While it made me appreciate their original sound, I knew that something special was coming after it. (Speaking of, for any Batman nerds with lots of time on their hands, this is hilarious)
While musically the Dark Knight parallel works, the music video is all Groundhog’s Day. It’s amazing how impactful a story they tell with just simple changes to a given repeated scene and the ending is pretty darn uplifting.
- Wiz Khalifa – Paperbond
I wanted to hate Wiz. His single-subject rap and constant Taylor Gang pimping grated on me. Tack on the fact that I’m not a big Steelers fan, and I was ready to just write him off as another hip-hop artist I couldn’t get behind. But, as a noted fan of The Weeknd, I figured I would give their duet “Remember You”, released as the second single for Khalifa’s album O.N.I.F.C., a listen, only to come away pretty impressed. So when said album was released yesterday, I decided I would give the third single, “Paperbond”, a chance; I find myself, again, coming away pleasantly surprised.
Wiz hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but it feels like he is finally comfortable with his own talents enough to relax and let them shine through, causing some of the excess nonsense present on his earlier efforts to fall by the wayside. The end result is a casual, but tightly constructed smoking song meant for the later hours of weekend evenings.
I am left, though, with one burning question after the intro to this song: how much weed would Wiz need to last him his entire life? It’s the one-hand clapping dilemma of our generation…
- Day Joy – Purple
Day Joy is a self-described “dream folk” band out of Orlando, Florida (I know…I had that same weird reaction when I read Orlando). With “Purple”, the first song off their debut album Go To Sleep Mess, they have given me a great “it’s a cold, desolate winter” song, perfect for that time after the holidays when you realize that winter is nowhere near over and it’s going to be cold for a lot longer than you realized when you were chock full of Christmas cheer and NYE champagne.
It’s not surprising that this five-piece outfit started out as back porch sessions between the two original members of the group, Michael Serrin and Peter Michael Perceval. The haunting song is simple and straightforward, only occasionally giving into moments of lushness. It almost has me excited to feel a little seasonally-depressed in a few weeks
AND IN A FUN BIT OF MUSIC DRAMA…
- T.I. featuring Andre 3000 – I’m Sorry
Well Andre 3000 seems to have a bit of a retort on T.I.’s newest single “I’m Sorry” that only makes me tear up more (and only partially because I’m weeping over how far T.I. has fallen off). Andre3K’s verse is the only redeeming part of this mediocre-at-best track, but it includes an apology to his fellow Outkast mate, letting him know where the rapper’s head and heart are at, that is outright touching.
While I officially have given up on Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt ever getting back together, I still have hope for these two. Let’s keep our collective fingers crossed.