Bryce Rudow is a freelance political/pop-culture journalist and he likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow. Go to his website and read interesting things: BryceTaylorRudow.com
Make sure to follow the Tunes You Should Know playlist on Spotify so you can hear every song that’s been written about in Aural Fixations at any time anywhere you go because the internet is amazing.
Onto this week’s fixations!
- Cruzie Beaux – “Girlfriend”
I’m pretty sure Kristina Reskinov, the woman behind Cruzie Beaux, hates me.
The former lead singer to Drop Electric happens to be very aware that I once compared her lead-singerness in a column to (at the time, San Francisco 49ers) quarterback Alex Smith, who had recently been labeled what NFL analysts call a ‘game manager’, meaning he shouldn’t be asked to do too much but could succeed if the system around him catered to his specific skill set. (In my personal opinion) Drop Electric was able to gain the kind of acclaim it enjoys today because it is a uniquely talented band with a jaw-dropping live show that just so happened to have Reskinov as its lead singer.
It always had me wondering not just what they would be like with someone else fronting vocals, but if Kristina might be better off separated from her post-punk bandmates. Basically I wanted to see her in a new system that didn’t involve so much cacophony and deep post routes. And it looks like I got my wish.
Drop Electric is just putting the finishing touches on an album with their new lead singer Anya Mizani, who I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about, and Reskinov has unleashed her (in my personal opinion) surprisingly impressive solo project, Cruzie Beaux, unto the world.
While I do think there’s a little too much Drop Electrician overdriven guitar in the EP overall and “Baseball (All My Life)” is a poor man’s “Song I Can’t Remember The Title Of” by Generic Alt Pop Female Star, there are some really great moments on the album, especially when that overly-distorted guitar becomes more of a fuzz-driven, almost golden-era Hole sound or a song like “Girlfriend,” which takes that deep, dark fuzz backbone that her vocals go with well but pairs it with a pop synth line to construct a different, and very marketable, beast entirely.
I’m not sure which direction Reskinov goes from here, but if Drop Electric gets ‘too artsy’ for their fanbase, I could easily see Reskinov swooping in.
She’s got the right system around her.
- Oddisee – “CounterClockwise”
I’ve written about both Oddisee and his group Diamond District before, but this one comes courtesy of my favorite non-Aural Fixations column on BYT, Rec Room Therapy. If you don’t already read it, I highly recommend doing so at your earliest convenience. Not only will it help you finger feel closer to the pulse of hip-hop, they drop casual knowledge bombs like their airhorns in a Flex mixtape.
For example, Marcus Dowling’s write-up of “Counter-Clockwise” in last week’s column brought up the fact that To Pimp A Butterfly’s success must have seemed a little bit like a cruel joke to Oddisee, a guy who has been playing around with that ‘breakthrough’ style for a while now. You know, the one that Kendrick apparently ‘pioneered’ recently. I hadn’t even thought of that until Marcus brought it up, but when you consider that the press material about Oddisee’s new album talks all about “living fully as a musician without succumbing to the traps of hedonism, avarice, and materialism. It’s about not selling out and shilling for a paycheck, while still being aware that this is a business requiring compromise and collaboration,” there’s a little cruel irony in there, right?
Let’s be optimistic though and hope one of DC’s more talented hip-hop talents gets to ride the groundswell Kendrick started and gains some momentum for himself.
In fact, let’s just throw another song in here to remind you how consistently good this guy is.
- Desperacidos – “City on the Hill”
I thought I was done with Conor Oberst. In fact, all I can think about while repeatedly listening to this new song from Desaparecidos, the side project of Mr. Bright Eyes’, is the time my dad first saw the lip ring I got during my quarter-life-crisis a few years ago. He looked at it, looked back at me, sighed a little, and simply said, “I thought we were past this phase.”
I thought I was too. But 13 years later, I’m right back where I started.
For those of you that don’t remember what life was like 13 years ago though, Desperacidos is a band fronted by the energetic, engaging (read: better) version of Conor Oberst, a man who is more known for moping through life and the majority of Bright Eyes’ catalogue. Back in 2002, they gained a large following with their (slightly) more accessible version of the post-hardcore sound that was sweeping the country, and their relatively deep lyrics, which talked about socioeconomic issues and other multisyllabic concepts.
Except they only put out one full-length album, occasionally peppering in a new release or two for things like benefit albums and the like every now and then. But now, after 13 long years, it looks like we’re finally getting the follow-up full length we all forgot we wouldn’t mind listening to!
Oh, and speaking of aging 2nd wave emo stars not going quietly into that good night, Brand New just released their first song in six years.
Tell all your friends.
And now it’s time for a very special edition of…
AURAL PLEASURE WITH FRIENDS: Lindsay Hogan Edition
Editor’s Note: You asked for more Lindsay Hogan, harbinger of all DIY shows in the city, so you get more Lindsay Hogan. Plus she’s one of the few photojournalists I know who makes the trip out to Jammin’ Java in Vienna on a Wednesday to see a band. That’s dedication.
- MNDR featuring Killer Mike – “Lock and Load”
I didn’t know who MNDR was until about 15 minutes ago, but she’s been around for 6 years collaborating with all the cool kids since the peak of the “unpronounceable acronym stage-name” fad. I’m also a sucker for sexy, understated electronic tracks a la Portishead. It’s a formula that’s been overworked though, and I was set to label “Lock and Load” as a guilty pleasure until Killer Mike kicked in the door. The man brings tenacity to everything he touches and his verse revitalizes the formula and saves the track from becoming a slinky backdrop to a CSI episode. You can find it on the upcoming Grand Theft Auto soundtrack.
By the way, can someone take the time to explain to me why the GTA soundtracks are so often filled with collaborative gems? I don’t have time to figure it out myself, because may I reintroduce you to…
- Moon Hooch
I held Moon Hooch in the highest respect, even though I’d only listened to their albums and seen a few wacky music videos. They are a fiercely original group of beyond talented young musicians, making genre-bending dancable jazz, so their show last week was preordained to be a game changer. Anyone who used the excuse that Jammin’ Java was too far of a hike on a Wednesday was a goddamn fool. We witnessed a an unlikely juggernaut.
Moon Hooch pulls off an impeccable live show by reproducing sounds beyond the normal limits of their instruments. There is an underlying intricacy that keeps their pace impeccable, often moving ceaselessly from one song to another. So what stood out from last week’s show was their ability to suck the audience in, with very little opportunity to actually stop and speak to us directly.
These three guys play with a fury and a speed that is almost inhuman. It was massively loud and simultaneously intimate. Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen front the group with an array of saxes and modified woodwinds that I’m too ignorant to identify, but what I was in awe with was their stamina, both as a music lover and as an asthmatic with limited lung capacity.
The physicality of the show was overwhelming and almost punk. Wilbur and McGowen stomp around stage, duel saxes, and make sure everyone gets a face full of sax at least once. You can tell McGowen would be stage diving if it wasn’t for the 4 ft,12 lb bari sax in his hands (often with a traffic cone projecting out of the end.)
And can we talk about James Muschler on drums? The boy moves at an inhuman speed with an equally inhuman look of serenity on his face.
I’m going to admit that I under-anticipated the physical aspect of the show. I pigeonholed Moon Hooch as three subway-busking nerds from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. But these guys were fit, charismatic and made almost too much eye contact for me to handle.
I went with two friends, Leah and Alex, who left the show just as enamored. Alex however, described our immediate reactions in the ride home as “what it must have been like to have girlfriends infatuated with N*Sync in the 5th grade.” Now thats a little bit of an exaggeration. But not too much.