Bryce Rudow is the Editor-in-Chief of Random Nerds, the website that has figured out how to actually pay writers for their quality work. You can tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow or email him at [email protected]
- Joywave – How Do You Feel Now?
It seems a little unfair for Joywave to include their big EP hit “Tongues” – a song I posited was the 3rd best song of 2013 – on this new album, but with a single that good it’s easy to see where they (and their record company) are coming from throwing it on. And fortunately for us (and their record company), in the time since that jam of song first premiered the rising stars from Rochester have added a dangerously earwormy collection of jams to their repertoire as well.
While only a few have the bite of “Tongues” — their big single “Somebody New” is catchy in that ‘you almost hate yourself for loving it’ way and “In Clover” is a very well paid-off gamble — there’s no denying that lead-singerDaniel Armbruster knows how to write one hell of a pop song regardless of the style. Behind the electronic doo dads and the modern production sound, this album is really just composed of the kind of simple, well-written pop/pop-rock songs that have been making people tap their feet for decades.
Catch them when they come to town May 8th at Rock and Roll Hotel. Tickets here.
- Pleasure Curses – “Lust”
About 5 months ago, I wrote about Pleasure Curses and called myself a ‘glass half full optimist’ when it came to them, claiming, “They’ve been relatively lacking in terms of actual releases over the past few years, but they do seem to getting better as they go.” I even called for All Things Gold event bookers to reach out to them.
And looky what we have here…
All Things Go premiering their latest track, “Lust.”
It’s a great placement for the up-and-coming DC dance-jammers too, especially since ATG glowingly wrote, “The DC duo puts their own experimental spin on James Murphy’s tried brand of minimalism, resulting in a funky, murky and above all sensual synth jam.”
Did someone say James Murphy? I’ve never been wrong…
- Wet – “Deadwater”
Speaking of bands I wrote about years ago and have never been wrong about, Wet, who first graced this column back in May of 2013, have finally released some new stuff. In advance of their debut full-length, Don’t You, they went with a safe bet – this song is simple but pleasant – but don’t forget this is the group that brought you the inescapably wonderful “U Da Best”, and that kind of thing means something.
And now it’s time for a very special edition 0f: AURAL PLEASURE WITH LINDSAY HOGAN!
Editor’s Note: Lindsay Hogan has been guest writing for this column long enough that she’s officially getting her own (bottom) half of it. If you can help think of a name better than ‘Aural Pleasure with Lindsay’ or ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, feel free to let us know.
- San Fermin – Jackrabbit
Bryce might not be the best candidate to write objectively about San Fermin’s new album, Jackrabbit – your emotional attachments to a band are small change compared to his with San Fermin (for more, see the October 22nd installment of Aural Fixations) – but Jackrabbit is a fine piece of baroque pop. It is bolder, more challenging, and reaches an emotional depth that most albums can’t touch.
Jackrabbits glaring fault however, is that it barely approaches the near operatic beauty and haunting complexity of San Fermin’s self-titled first release. The bar was set almost impossibly high. But that doesn’t mean Jackrabbit, as an independent album, should be dismissed.
In addition to a handful of great, dark pop songs, this album is full of great moments, most of them brief, violent and featuring the instrumentation that made San Fermin so unique the first time around. I just wish more of the album took advantage of that.
Jackrabbit is ultimately produced like a pop record and lacks appreciation for silence and orchestral creepiness found in the first album. Stylistically, it is not all that different then San Fermin – it contains wild and complex arrangements, features excellent performances on the trumpet, saxophone and violin – and without comparing the two albums, Jackrabbit‘s creativity pushes the limit of what a pop record can be. But to those who are familiar the band’s first release, it seems watered down. However, I stand by my assessment: if this had been the band’s first attempt, the tone of its reviews would be overwhelmingly excited.
[Editor’s Note: I’ve told myself I wasn’t going to weigh in on this album, but since Lindsay brought up the ‘If this were San Fermin’s first album’ hypothetical, I will just say this: If San Fermin had released Jackrabbit and then their self-titled album, we would have all lost our shit over how much this band had ‘matured’ and what a ‘big step’ they had made in their sound. That doesn’t mean one is better or worse than the other, but you’d be lying to yourself if you don’t think that would be the case. – Bryce]
I’m not worried for San Fermin and I’m barely disappointed. This is a young, energetic band dripping with more talent than the entire music department of your over-priced undergrad. So if you’re reading this and you’ve never listened to San Fermin, great! You’re in for a treat.
From the new album, may I suggest starting with these two…
“Woman in Red”
Woman in Red is constructed to be more of a pop song than anything on the previous album. But you only wish all pop was this good. Its executes themes found throughout the album, namely, the suppression and rejection of love, loneliness among crowds and of course, drinking. If you’re modern, young and have an emotional range larger than a teaspoon, Women in Red should resonate with you.
And lets not front, Allen Tate could sing me a cover of Tubthumping by Chumbawamba and I’d probably melt.
Two Scenes is the song that reminds me the most of their first album. It is composed of scenic fragments that form an overall coherent story. Vocalists Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye enhance both the terrible and the beautiful in simple characters and everyday struggles. San Fermin’s story telling structure is one of my favorite aspects of this band. Nearly every song they’ve come out with is layered and thoughtful enough to deserve repeated listens. And this song -and the whole album for that matter, gets better with each listen.
Jackrabbit will grow on its detractors and hopefully be an eye-opening surprise to those who are unfamiliar with San Fermin.