It’s really great when my self-serving promotions are actually completely relevant and useful to you all, and fortunately for all of us, this is one of those times.
All Things Go, your friendly neighborhood music blog, has announced the All Things Go Fall Classic, a spectacular mini-festival at Union Market on September 13th. We just announced the line-up a few hours ago, and it’s my pleasure to say that we’re getting none other than:
– Future Islands! (I wrote about them here)
– Bear Hands! (I wrote about them here)
– Haerts! (people like them, trust me)
– US Royalty! (I wrote about them here)
– Panama Wedding! (not Panama, unfortunately for yours truly)
– Young Summer! (I know I like at least one song from this artist!)
– Sun Club! (that band from Baltimore I fell in love with a few weeks ago)
– and someone named Tove Lo! (I need to do my research…)
You can get Early Bird tickets RIGHT HERE and you totally should.
Oh and please follow the Tunes You Should Know in 2014 playlist on Spotify.
Now onto the music!
- Death From Above 1979 – “Trainwreck”
Death From Above had terrible timing when it came to my musical evolution. While I was aware that Death From Above 1979 was a band that existed, it wasn’t until after I commented on my freshman year roommate’s elephant mask sticker thing he had on his laptop that I was fully introduced to the band in all their noisy glory.
But I was having way too much fun as a freshman in college to have time to get into something that angry. I wanted DFA, not DFA1979 (and apparently the courts did too so booyah Sebastien Grainger). And with their very decisive breakup occurring the summer after that freshman year, it became very easy to not give a shit about this band (not to mention all those cockteasing false starts in the past few years that reinforced a growing ubiquitous whateverness towards them). Sure I’ve gone back and revisited some stuff and “I get it” and whatever, but whatever.
Except now, finally, three years after they officially reunited, they’ve got a single. And I like it.
It’s got all the attitude of You’re a Woman, I’m A Machine but it honestly feels like they took a few pages from the other DFA notebook. Once that metal intro finally drops, there’s a piano line, a “woo ooo ooo” background falsetto riff, and a distorted guitar going over a hi-hat driven drum beat. What toolkit did those things come from (I asked to myself then looked up)?
Well this new album, which will be called Physical World and will be released September 9th, was produced by Dave Sardy whose won tons of awards producing songs for The Ting Tings but more notably for LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver (one of the most “DFA” albums of all time). So there we go. Mystery solved!
Death From Above 1979 are going to be touring this thing pretty extensively, which hopefully will flush out any creative tension they have left in them, but either way, we’ll get to see for ourselves on December 1st at 9:30 Club. I’m really curious to see what they have for us with this album/what they do after this thing is finally unleashed unto the world.
Also, I know this is unrelated, but is this our first December show on the books? I think it’s got to be. That’s fun, right? Right.
- Gnarwolves – “Smoking Kills”
One of my favorite people in the entire universe is Loud Boyz guitarist/All Things Go writer Alex Anderson. He’s one of the most genuine people you will ever meet (he literally just learned how to use sarcasm and treats it like Borat uses “…NOT!” and it’s adorable). He’s also one of the few reasons I still believe in punk.
Because he loves it. I mean, really really loves it. And when it comes to punk music, you do have to buy in a bit. The music might not be technically great and the vocals aren’t actually “pretty,” but the music and the songs are about more than that. As a rapidly aging 27-year old, my cynicism is constantly trying to tell me that my days of believing a mosh pit can save us are coming to and end, but Alex (and the bands he introduces me to with such heartfelt eagerness) keep my withered punk heart beating.
Gnarwolves is one of those bands.
And they happen to have a new song from what I wouldn’t have guessed is their debut album. I have been hearing (and occasionally really enjoying) Gnarwolves records at Alex’s place for months now, but apparently those are all from a collection of EPs that are now bundled as the awesomely titled Chronicles of Gnarnia (highlights include: “Limerence” and “A Gram Is Better Than A Damn”). But here we are and here we go; “Smoking Kills” is their “first single from their debut album.”
And it’s everything you have to love about this kind of punk. It’s snarling and despondent but somehow uplifting and inspiring. It doesn’t have the technical brashness of a band like Diarrhea Planet or the emotional brashness of something like You Blew It, but instead it doubles down, successfully, on its own sincerity. Utilizing the kind of raw gang vocals that make for some of the best punk choruses of all time, they create an atmosphere with “Smoking Kills” that feels more like a communal experience as opposed to an individual message being delivered to you via your headphones. And isn’t that what punk is really all about?
Plus that skateboarding video, yo.
- We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Safety In Numbers”
Only a few years ago, if you wanted to hear some fantastic Scottish indie rock and you didn’t want to listen to Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks was your strong #2. Their 2006 album These Four Walls was consistently listenable and album standouts like “Quiet Little Voices” and “It’s Thunder, and It’s Lightning” have aged incredibly well. The 2011 follow-up to that, In the Pit of the Stomach, while not as strong as their debut, continued a trend of reliably enjoyable Scottish-accented rock.
And now there’s “Safety In Numbers,” the first single off We Were Promised Jetpacks’s upcoming third LP Unraveling, which is a bit ironic given the signature tight sound that the band usually uses. It’s not their best song by a long shot, but it is a nice reminder that this band not only exists, but had the #2 spot in our hearts at one point in time. At the very least, it should make you excited for a second single to drop.
Or you can wait until Unraveling comes out later in the fall. Either or.
Because now, it’s time for a very special edition of…
AURAL PLEASURE WITH FRIENDS: Meredith Whitfield Edition
Editor’s Note: Meredith Whitfield is not cool.
- Wildlight – Hers Was As Thunder
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, cool.
I’m a Tennessean who staunchly favors Dollywood to Bonnaroo, and my first concert was Jamie Cullum. JAMIE CULLUM. I’m convinced Bryce was mid-stroke when he asked me to write this column, but that’s what I get for tweeting my opinions.
What I’m pretty convinced is cool, however, is this group Wildlight. In blindly stumbling around the Internet this morning for some new tunes, I spent a little while with their debut album, “Hers Was As Thunder.” Look, I told you I’m no expert, but they have all the stuff I’ve learned is cool. The album art is a simple photo of the duo, Ayla Nereo and David Sugalski (who also makes other electronic noises, and has been for a while, under the name The Polish Ambassador) looking appropriately disaffected (read: cool). I’m pretty sure the way they make music is cool, too: they have that folk-electronic Sylvan Esso thing going, where David layers up the synth and Ayla croons some groovified folk over it. If you take one away, you get Basically Enya, and if you take the other away, you get the RollerCoaster Tycoon soundtrack. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s cool right now.
The tune that made me particularly shoulder-dancey is “Twirl Me,” which lays its foundation with a fantastic grounding piano line, a patient woodblock backbone, and some odd toothy whooshing for good measure. By the second chorus, it blossoms into a funky and syncopated yet easy song, thanks to Ayla’s repeating, catchy melody, “please twirl me one more time/and don’t stop spinning me… spin, spin with me.” A couple of listens and I was mouthing along.
Perhaps the most complex tune Wildlight serves us is “Rise,” a short but dense little bite of a song. It rose to its full height almost immediately, a cacophany of handclaps, quick percussion, and hymnal harmonies that left me tired (but in a nice, vaguely Merrill Garbus-y way).
What’s certainly true is that their fall tour, erm, their “Permaculture Action Tour” is a refreshing departure from your usual skipping-stone season of bar visits and music hall jam sessions. Wildlight has started a crowdfunding campaign to create concert experiences that also leave a positive impact on the host community, engendering a celebration of music alongside positive permaculture.
I may go to bed at 10:30, but even I know that’s pretty damn cool.