Welcome back! Hope you had a lovely long holiday mixing jingoistic patriotism with light beer. I’ve spent my last 24 hours being told I’m a callous monster for not caring that some girl’s friend is still dying on Facebook, so let’s just keep this brief:
– If you’re a fan of DC’s own Ra Ra Rasputin, you might be interested in checking out DC9 on Sunday night. Ra Ra’s lead singer Brock Boss has a new side project called Incredible Change that he’ll be showing off, with help from the likes of DeenaOH and Patrick Kigongo. Also, Pleasure Curses (a very solid band in desperate need of more band members for their live show) is opening, so that’s fun.
– Jungle, who is currently sitting at 3-for-3 in terms of a release-to-hit ratio, has his album streaming on iTunes in advance of its release. This is your perfect summer album. I’ll write about it more when it actually comes out.
– Lastly, as always, here’s my plug for you follow the Tunes You Should Fucking Know in 2014 Spotify playlist.
Now onto the music!
- Spoon – “Do You”
Spoon might sneakily be the coolest band on the planet.
I don’t mean that they are the most popular, or the most loved, or really the most anything. But they definitely might be the coolest. Spoon is a cool name for a band, the members of Spoon appear to be cool, and most importantly, it’s cool to think Spoon is cool. Even those who probably don’t think Spoon is cool recognize this isn’t a cool opinion and keep it to themselves. Spoon has, is, and most likely will be cool for a long time.
And it’s songs like “Do You” that help keep that coolness going.
Britt Daniels’ cool, unique voice is back to its enlivening self after taking an album off with 2010’s not-so-great-but-still-cool Transference, and the band seems welcome to follow his lead. It may not be on the level of say “I Turn My Camera On” or “I Summon You,” but it’s definitely on the same tier as “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” a post-peak song that reminded you why you like Spoon in the first place. Daniels has a way of making the blasé feel important with his distinct infections, and this “Doooo yoouuu” chorus is syrupy, sure, but it feels like there’s emotional power behind it (a Spoon signature).
Plus it just sounds cool.
- Alt-J – “The Hunger Pine” and “Left Hand Free”
Alt-J is a fantastic band. I’ve never gone more than a few weeks without returning to their debut album An Awesome Wave, and after seeing them at both 9:30 Club and Bonnaroo 2013, I can assure you that they more than deliver when it comes to a live show.
Having said all that though, I have been really worried about how they’re going to top themselves when their sophomore album It’s All Yours is finally released September 22nd. It’s not like I don’t believe in them, but it’s just one of those difficult act to follow kind of things.
But over the past three weeks, Alt-J, winner of the Band Most Obsessed With Triangles Award, have released two songs from It’s All Yours, and while they’ve done a good job of assuaging my fears, I realized that it’s best to go into this new album with zero expectations. An Awesome Wave swept everyone away because it was something none of us had head before, and it sounds like they’re going to keep pushing their musical boundaries with this new release.
“The Hunger Pine” feels generally familiar with it’s deep, droning bass, but it stretches out to some alien territory with that second verse that absolutely makes the song. Oh, and all audiophiles out there, listen for that wonderful, rich horn riff that occasionally sneaks in; it’s a treasure. This song, while definitely a newer sound, is going to slip pretty nicely into their catalogue and live show.
But “Left Hand” is something new entirely. It’s not jangly, that’s too much of an overstatement, but it does swing to a brighter beat than Joe Newman and company have usually swung to. I mean, that little horn bit that finds its way in is downright snappy, and that bluesy breakdown is just begging to be clapped along to by an enamored crowd.
Like when they play Echostage (WHAT?!) on November 19th, which you can get tickets for here.
- The Sea Life – “Prozac & Merlot”
If you can think back to a time when the US was still alive in the World Cup, you’ll remember that last week I was getting schoolgirl giddy about seeing Baltimore hoodlums Sun Club and DC natives The Sea Life at Black Cat for The Sea Life’s single release party.
I had been familiar with The Sea Life for a while but was excited at the prospect of getting another chance to really wrap my head around this band whose last full length album (In Basements) was serviceable but never enticing and whose more recent EP (Transitions) was a pleasant but small-sample-size step in the right direction. I had seen them live ages ago during a hazy night at the Paperhaus, but this was my opportunity to really figure them out.
And what I’ve come to learn is that The Sea Life are, at the moment, a band best heard live. They flat out bring it, and all the mundanish moments on their recorded material are infused with a yearning charge that lead-singer Jon Weiss and his team inject into every chord strum and syllable.
Fortunately, if this new single “Prozac & Merlot” is any indication of where they’re headed, it sounds like they’re finally understanding how to best capture that raucous energy that’s so palpable in their live show. Recorded in their living room, “Prozac & Merlot” is a woozy, shoegazing rock anthem perfect for those times when the summer heat feels oppresive instead of invigorating, and with its low-fi, “yayayaya’ sound, it’s a better representation of who this band really is, even if it one of their more downtempo numbers. It oozes with the passion that The Sea Life plays with live.
I’m excited to see where they go from here.