Bryce Rudow is a contributing writer for All Things Go
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here’s four songs, and in this week’s case, a mixtape, we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
- Robert Delong – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
I wish I could remember/Google could help me find the quote I am thinking of. A famous athlete, I want to say Larry Byrd, once said that for all the games he won, he remembers the losses most vividly. It’s kind of shitty to realize it, but it’s human nature to be haunted by our imperfections, to remember when we weren’t fast enough, strong enough, or smart enough.
I remember Robert Delong, and he haunts me…
A few months ago, I highlighted Robert Delong’s first single, “Global Concepts,” but prefaced it with the caveat that due to the song’s almost guilty-pleasure style of pop and Delong’s lack of other material to judge that he “might be terrible,” while sort of inferring that he probably was.
He has since then decided to release a song a month in 2013, and his first release is a rework of the best song off Tame Impala’s Lonerism, “Feels LIke We Only Go Backwards” (Side note: am I the only one who thinks that album, while good, could easily have been written by the Beatles and, since we’re many decades later, has to be judged in terms of its historical context, i.e. one that has sufficient access to the Beatles as a source of inspiration? Anyway…).
It’s a bold choice, as the song’s dreamy nature doesn’t readily lend itself to Delong’s style of complex-yet-subdued skittery pop, but, I have to admit, he kind of kills it. His monotonic drawl slides across the verses, and he bolsters the choruses with a churning dance beat that sounds tailor-made for them. I’m left both nodding my head along and shaking it in disbelief not only at Delong, but at my own misjudgment as well.
This is a pretty convenient time to be writing about him though, as he’ll be opening up for HAIM at All Things Go’s Valentines Day show at U-Hall and I really had to get that monkey off my back before I had to see that glaring non-win in person.
- Cold War Kids – Miracle Mile
I was baptized and confirmed an Episcopalian and went to undergrad at a Jesuit Catholic university. The confirmation thing was basically a product of my mothers’ wishes and the fact that a good handful of my friends were in the same boat, making the situation bearable. The Jesuit Catholic university was more coincidental than anything else; Boston College is a great school (/the greatest school ever), and it just happened to have some friendly Jesuit priests waltzing around (Shout out to Father Farrell, the kindest person I have ever had the privilege of knowing and someone I always try and see when I make it back up to Boston).
But even with all that history and experience with Christianity, or possibly because of it, I’ve shied away from that sort of organized religion later in life. I appreciate the message, and if it helps some people find peace/not act like selfish assholes all the time, then more power to it, but the Church (capital C) and a lot of its social stances are, at best, outdated to me; so now I find myself in that vague zone (that still seems to annoy people) of “spiritual, but not religious” and bristling a bit whenever something is labeled as “Christian,” especially music)
Cold War Kids hates that I just wrote all that as a way to introduce their new song, though. Since they were “outed” as a “Christian rock” band sometime after their first album, Robbers and Cowards, blew up, they have done their best to PR themselves as a band that happens to find solace in the Christian faith while not directly associating with it.
While that’s an entirely other article that could be written, and honestly, it basically has been hundreds of times, I’m actually going to use this handy parallel for how I feel about them musically…
In my younger days, I was a believer. “Hang Me Up To Dry” hooked me before the first few staccato bass notes were done being plucked and “We Used To Vacation’s” minor-keyed narrative was a heartbreaking hymn of a song that touched my soul. But when their sophomore album Loyalty to Loyalty failed to deliver the same kind of uplifting power, I began to question my…loyalty (I wrote that word before I realized how bad a pun it was). Their third album, Mine Is Yours, was redeemed by the title track, but even then, the best version of that song was the remix done by Passion Pit. I appreciated the message they were trying to get across, but the delivery was all wrong. I eventually resigned to accept the limitations of the band, appreciate their good intentions, but only take specific parts from the whole that I found were personal to me.
This is where “Miracle Mile” comes in. It’s a Baptist sermon of a song, with immediate high-energy, call-and-response choruses, and a piano line that won’t quit. But when I hear it, just like when I hear a Baptist sermon, I respect the entertainment value, but just don’t feel it in my heart the way I used to and the way it’s desperately trying to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly fine song, and will most likely keep Cold War Kids in the upper-echelon of popular rock groups out there, but they’re just not for me anymore, which is slightly depressing but, in the end, a perfect test of my faith that there’s something else out there bigger and better.
- Dresses – Blew My Mind
I was going to originally write about Tegan and Sara’s new single, “Now I’m All Messed Up” because I really enjoyed it, and I was going to use it as an excuse to learn more about a band that is apparently taking on a different sort of sound with their new material. The song is sweet without being saccharine and sincere without being overwhelming. Then, right before I started listening to the “article: 1/23/12” playlist on my iTunes, I clicked a link my roommate’s brother posted to a random music video for a song called “Blew My Mind” by a band apparently called Dresses.
Fifty-six seconds into the music video, I turned to said roommate and announced that I was in love with the lead singer, though it truthfully may have started a little sooner, quite possibly 42 seconds in when the panda with the cymbals made his contribution. For the next 3 minutes, I was ensnared by the tough-but-cute girl with the pretty eyes and (pulling it off) septum piercing as she sang her Alex Winston-meets-Kate-Nash style of quirky indie pop that is the musical equivalent to the now stereotypical quirky girl that most people mock but still enjoy anyway.
A little stalking turned up a Frank Ocean cover, which I am admittedly a sucker for, no matter how dime-a-dozen they are (and no matter how much they feature that skinny, finger-picking, semi-rapping guy named Jared that I am now jealous of). It also turned up that the pretty girl is named Timothy (insert Tim Allen confused noise), that they’re from Portland (of course they are), and that they’re working on a debut album in March. Until then, you can catch them dropping weekly covers on their YouTube page. Timothy, don’t worry, I’ll catch you.
- Ty Segall – Thank God for the Sinners
The hardest part about getting into a band or artist that has already been around for a while is the daunting task of figuring what album to start with. As the saying goes, you only get one first impression, and it can make or break how you feel about a band, especially if they vary in genre and style from album to album. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a friend who LOVES whatever band I’m looking to get into and ask them where they think I should start. If I’m unlucky, I stumble across something like “Thank God For The Sinners” and fall headfirst into the prolific pit that is Ty Segall’s discography. Between his solo-albums, side-projects, compilations, split EPs, and live albums, Wikipedia has him at over 54 different releases. I know…
I figured it would just be easiest to dance with the date that brought me and let “Thank God For The Sinners,” the first song on the record and my first encounter with Mr. Segall, be my jumping off point. The snarling DIY-rock track is the the first single off his latest LP, Twins, his FOURTH full-length release in 2012. It buzzes throughout with woozy angst and a pretty stellar guitar solo eventually erupts from somewhere underneath the nasally praise choruses. Overall, it’s a pretty solid introduction to the San-Franciscan garage rocker that dabbles with psychedelia, surf-rock, blues, and even some folkish influences on the album and has enticed me to at least Spotify around the rest of his overwhelming musical catalogue.
Thanks to (slightly) notched-up production quality on Twins, Ty Segall’s star seems to be on the rise, having made a late-night television debut on Conan a few months ago where he looks like a mix between a young Jack White and a younger Beck and shreds somewhere in between the two, as well as a national tour that includes a stop at the Black Cat on January 31st. His low-fi, vocal-driven rock is apparently not something to be missed live, so there’s a plan for next Thursday for you.