Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here’s four songs we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
Pickwick – THE SHOW YOU SHOULD FUCKING GO TO
So my friend and fellow music nerd Robyn turned me onto a band called Pickwick a few weeks ago, and when I found out they were going to be playing DC9 on April 27th (aka this Saturday), I knew I was going to make them my April SHOW YOU SHOULD FUCKING GO TO. Since she is essentially a Pickwick expert, I figured I’d let her wise you up on them. Without further ado, Robyn’s take on Pickwick…
*BONUS: Pickwick was awesome enough to donate a signed poster and CD to the cause, so leave a comment/tweet me/email me something (may I suggest a great pun?) saying that you want free stuff, and I’ll have a winner selected by Friday. You can pick your winnings up at the show.
“As a musician, it’s all about making a memorable first impression. So when Seattle’s own Pickwick came equipped with a covert rendezvous spot and escape route to publicize an upcoming gig, you knew it was going to be good. Capitalizing on the killer acoustics at the University of Washington, these six gents left students – and the internet – pretty dang intrigued. And lucky for us, they’ve been delivering ever since.
Formerly a substandard indie folk band, Pickwick reinvented themselves into the blues-tinged sepia soul group you will all come to know and undoubtedly love. Like most self-respecting bands, Pickwick got their start in a basement. But with a fast-reputation for raucous live shows, a burgeoning YouTube fan base and a sound tantamount to the unruly love child of blue eyed soul and indie pop, Pickwick started developing quite a following in their lush corner of the country – so much so, that their compilation of demos, a little gem called Myths, held the #1 spot in their hometown record joint, Sonic Boom Records, for a decent run in 2011. And now, following a year of gut-wrenching anticipation – which saw one near-complete album fall to cutting room floor – they’re sharing their true grit en masse, with their first full-length album, Can’t Talk Medicine.
Truth is I cherish each track on this album as if they were my own children, so it’s hard to steer you wrong here. I’d start with “Hacienda Motel,” a groovy, base driven tune, with a combo of tambourine and rootsy ooohs and ahhhs so flippin’ catchy, you’ll be begging for a revival on the dance floor by the end. And with an opening line like “That whore she left you bloody, on the motel lobby floor//Even though she took your money, oh you know she needed more,” the tune is oozing with neo-noir charm that would make even Tarantino proud. The boys turn the volume up on “Window Sill,” a distorted, dizzying track smacking of the Black Keys with a bellowing chorus that commands audiences to stomp their feet and yip like there’s no tomorrow – which, given that this song is about plotting a suicide, sounds about right (dark y’all).
But all hip-swaying and hand-clapping aside, we should probably discuss the powerhouse that is Pickwick front man, Galen Disston. Don’t let the curly ‘fro and slight resemblance to Bruno Mars fool you, my friends. Dude has got talent for days. And he leaves no prisoners when he mounts the stage – with baby-faced G in front, these guys slay tunes and break hearts, black-rimmed glasses and all.
Other tracks to check out: The Round, Halls of Columbia and Lady Luck. That last one, a Richard Swift cover – and their first single – features indie queen bee, Sharon Van Etten, whose hazy, dulcet tones elicit warm feelings of girl group choreography and pink negligees. But seriously, the whole album warrants a good listen. It has a distinctly unprocessed, dirty feel to it, which I totally dig. This slight distortion throughout comes in part from their unconventional recording space – a carpeted living room in a Seattle group house – and a mix of found sounds from the 1950s and 60s. Have I got you slightly intrigued? C’mon, go ahead and drop your allowance on this one, you won’t regret it. Oh and to get a sense of their live stuff, take a gander at their stellar Live From the Basement session from Sound on the Sound.
Alrighty, so now that I’ve rambled enough, the true moral of the story here is that these guys are meant to be heard live. And lucky for us, they’re playing DC9 on April 27, which is why we’ve made them April’s Show You Should F*cking Go To. Don’t be fooled by this plaid-wearing, coffee appreciatin’, awkwardly unassuming merry band of handsome hipsters. These guys have a fever. And the only way to beat the heat is to put on a raging stage show. There may even be a dance move called The Ostrich to look forward to. So grab your tickets fast kids, because these boys do not disappoint.”
Pale vV – Two Wrongs
Pale vV are a London duo and “Two Wrongs” is their debut single. Its intro is distinctively Phil Collins’ synth and sparse drums. But as the vocals kick in, it fills out, spreading to a syncopated pulse of a song. They’re just distinct enough from all the other neo-soul acts that they occupy a certain niche very well.
I could go on a bit more about “Two Wrongs,” but when checking out their Soundcloud page, I came across their song “Gold” and it struck me because of one, distinct line in the song: “I noticed you removed me as a friend.” It might be the first, unironic Facebook reference I’ve come across.
It’s not something stuck between bubblegum pop choruses, but something that’s meant to relay, and even evoke, a specific feeling. While they do it as well as they could, and slip it in in straight-faced, I still find it crazy that social networks have become so ubiquitous that this is happening. But then I think about how while Souja Boy can casually ask a girl to kiss him through the phone in a song that has 77 million YouTube views (I know…), at one point in time it was probably culturally jarring to hear someone perform a song and include talking about the phone in it. Eventually it just became so commonplace, that it’s almost become folksy to discuss talking on the phone now. The musings of twenty-something feeling older…
Portugal. The Man – Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue
Let’s face it. There’s a lot of music out there. It’s impossible to know it all, unless you’re these kids at Coachella that Jimmy Kimmel interviewed (though can we admit that we’ve all done this at least once and should just be happy there wasn’t a camera to capture it?). I actually have a list of bands that I’m 99-percent sure I might love if I just gave them the time to get in to them, but daunting discographies and busy days have pushed a lot of those groups into to-do list ether.
Portugal The Man has always been one of those bands. I knew some friends that liked them, I know that they repeatedly sell out venues like Black Cat and 9:30 Club, but they just never found a way into my iTunes and eardrums. It wasn’t until the other day, thanks to one of my life-saving morning emails from All Things Go editors Zack and Adrian, that I stumbled upon their newest single, “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue” and fell in love with it. But I felt like I couldn’t appreciate where this highly-touted band was now until I learned where they came from, so I gave myself a crash course on Portugal The Man…
I went back to the trippy, occasionally dark Waiter: You Vultures; and there are times where that album has more in common with a Circa Survive, Blood Brothers, Brand New or, dare I say, Coheed (COHEED!) record than any indie rock contemporary. Then Cinnamon Mouth tightened up a bit, while also showing that the band learned to allow the proper moments to breathe. They kept the intensity and energy up, but explored more of the bluesy soul sound only hinted at on You Vultures. When the album leaked, they posted the Durdanian: “Go download it. Give yourself the tastes. Feel free.”
Then there was the experimental It’s Complicated Being A Wizard, an accidentally 23-minute jaunt recorded after You Vultures that I think was meant to be experienced. The bluesy soul freedom returned on Censored Colors but had a bit more self-awareness as well as grandiosity in it. The Satanic Satanist was the first that really dabbled with the psychedelia pop sound they channeled from then on in albums like American Ghetto and In The Mountain In The Cloud, an album I really enjoyed and can’t believe is from the same band that released Waiter: You Vultures.
So, knowing where they came from, I feel like I can truly appreciate “Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue” for what it is (and fully notice Danger Mouse’s subtle but effective influence).
I should have known better than to think I could pigeonhole Alaskans. They’re a different breed up there.
You Won’t – All My Hollowness To You
You Won’t, an endearing duo out of Boston that I wrote about a while back, just released a cover of Tall Dwarf‘s track “All My Hollowness To You.” Rarity aside, it’s a natural choice, for the band, as it’s right in their sonic wheelhouse (and the rarity does give them a certain bit of pretentious cred).
But, really, this song is included in here this week because I got the chance to see them open up for The Joy Formidable last Sunday at 9:30 Club, and they were unbelievably good. The two quirky, uber-talented kids that look like grad-student T.A.s kept a very lucky audience of early birds transfixed on them for their entirely too short set.
Their album, Skeptic Goodbye, is full of the same raw, acoustic guitar-based energy that Neutral Milk Hotel uses on In An Aeroplane Over The Sea; however, at least on the record, You Won’t stick closer to the form of folk than most Jeff Magnum songs, usually erring on the side of grizzled melody. All of that changed in their live performance though…
Live, they are prone to flamboyance, and I mean that in the best way possible. There was a song near the end of their set that they interjected with furious, screaming noise; it reminded me of the early Modest Mouse songs that always made me wonder if Isaac Brock actually wanted people not to like them. But I have a feeling that Josh and Raky do it to show just how much they can manipulate the frameworks of their heavily melodic, usually quite gentle songs. They even took the charming “You Knew” and made it something both Jeff Buckley and Jeff Magnum would have been proud of. The closest thing I can find to really showing you what I mean is this live video from The Wild Honey Pie, but take my word for it.
And give Skeptic Goodbye a listen; you’ll not only get to hear a great album, but whenever they show up here again (I’ve already planted the seeds for an All Things Go showcase set…), you’ll see just how dynamic these guys are.