Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @btr0218 (or follow him to make him feel more popular while getting access to random new music he doesn’t have the time to write about).
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here are four songs we think you should fucking know (this week).
- Limp Bizkit – “Ready to Go”
Sometimes, the title of this column cuts both ways and there are songs that you should fucking know, even when I’m sure you won’t enjoy them…
This is one of those songs…
Limp Bizkit just released a new single…
Featuring Lil Wayne…
I wish I could tell you that it’s at least a guilty-pleasure for someone like me that at 12 did it all for the nookie despite not knowing what nookie meant and who knows every line to every song on Da Drought 3, but I can’t. This song is terrible, I mean really terrible, but you should fucking know just how terrible it is.
Ignorance is bliss sometimes.
- Zorch – “We All Die Young”
There’s nothing intrinsically special about the name Zorch, as odd a name as it is, but as I was perusing my daily influx of music-PR email blasts, something told me I should click the link next to their name. Spin had their whole album to stream and was previewing it with comparisons to Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, and The Flaming Lips, so I felt even more compelled to see what Zorch was all about.
Call me a pessimist, but I actually wasn’t expecting much; acts like Animal Collective and Dan Deacon flirt so much with the line between amazing music and chaotic crap that most imitators end up falling into the pile of unpleasant shit. Schadenfreudishly skeptical, I queued up ZZoorrcchh and hit play.
After a dizzyingly ominous one-minute instrumental introduction track, I was smacked in the face with the exhilaratingly overblown “We All Die Young” and the admittedly elated and definitely elating single was some of the most enjoyable pop music I had heard since I was first introduced to Stepdad. The beginning bright electronic riffs rip into a spastic melody that is only intensified by the introduction of its aggressive, energetic drums. It’s a purely deafening celebration for four and a half minutes.
I’m confident that single will carry them to a few new places outside of their hometown of Austin, where the duo of Zac Traegr and Sam aka Shmu (no clue about that one) reside, but their entire sort-of-self-titled debut LP shouldn’t be overlooked just because of one catchy single that warrants constant repetition.
There is the afro-inspired “This Is The Way It Goes”. There is “Mutwa,” which is a trippy slow-build of a song that leads to a massive payoff, ensconcing itself in a dark deep bass-heavy groove whose death rattle sounds like an old school arcade violently exploding. There is “Zut Alors,” which besides being one of my favorite expressions from middle school French, is a standout relatively-deep cut, its instrumental barrage of sound marching on for two and half minutes before building to a Dan Deacon-esque anthemic outro. And then there is “Cosmic Gloss”…
A quick rant about the destined-to-be-worshipped “Cosmic Gloss,” though: While doing my due diligence on the band and coming across bizarre reviews like this one (WHAT WAS THAT?!), I had heard that this song was nothing short of an experience, so I waited for a quiet day at the park last Sunday to check it out. The oasis of Meridian Hill set under the kind of clouds that are meant for sky-watching was the perfect backdrop to understand this disorienting journey of a song that somehow incorporates sample-pop vocals beautifully over what starts as a chill-hop psychedelic beat before canonizing itself into a an R&B space epic, only to eventually synthesize the two styles for an ending that really deserves to close out the album. Trust me; do yourself a favor and wait to hear this song when you can actually hear it as opposed to just listen to it.
Zorch captures the splendor of savoring celebration like MGMT did when they first came out, but they bring with that sentiment a mastery of sonic manipulation that few can touch. When you add in the ferocity the live drums add to the songs, there is a magical quality to the whole album (hey remember live drums in pop? Good times…). It’s easy to see why they are a staple of Austin’s DIY scene, especially with apparently legendary lives shows that I WANT TO SEE SO BADLY. AND THEY’RE ON A HOUSE SHOW TOUR RIGHT NOW! PAPERHAUS, GIVE THEM A CALL! PLEASE! I’M PROMOTING YOUR GLOW SESSIONS SHOW RIGHT NOW (seriously though, everyone should go to these shows; the place is gorgeous and Pink Line Project has been killing it with them). DO ME THIS FAVOR AND FIND A WAY TO GET ZORCH INTO YOUR LIVING ROOM!
I’m going to go take a cold shower…
- Gang Of Youths – “A Sudden Light” (demo) and “Knuckles White Dry” (demo)
Gang Of Youths is one of those bands that I know almost nothing about, but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming mildy obsessed with the three songs (two of which are demos) that I’ve heard from them. I know that they are yet another talented band coming out of Australia (Sydney, to be specific), I know that they don’t have a lot of information about themselves online, and I know that while their three songs are a bit disparate in terms of sound, they are all very well-wrtten and very wonderfully executed.
There is something Walkmen-esque in their woozy, indie-rock-with-a-touch-of-folk sound, but the vocal lines that sway with a soul and swagger also tear themselves apart to land somewhere between Tom Waits, The Good Life’s Tim Kasher, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, and is that Billy Joel I’m hearing (coming from a Billy Joel fan)?
The two most recent releases they’ve put on their Soundcloud page, “A Sudden Light” and “Knuckles White Dry” are both labeled as demos, but despite their low-fi sound, they’re two of the best 1-2 punches I’ve heard from a band in a while. “A Sudden Light” jounces along over a steady but encouraging drum line to become an anthemic piano rock track, and hearing that blue-collar growl yelp at the song’s emotional climaxes feels like a breakdown set to a blues beat and draped over a gospel skeleton.
By itself, it’s a song to be reckoned with, but to have it followed by a descent into the forlorn intro of “White Knuckles Dry” is an emotionally trying experience. “White Knuckles Dry” itself is a stripped-thin ballad that lets the lead singer’s slurred drawl fall over instrumentation that limps through the dark but illuminated landscape of this song. It adds an emotional balance to the relatively-upbeat “A Sudden Light” and shows just how diverse a sound this group has.
Their Soundcloud also features the low-fi folk track “Riverlands,” their oldest song that I can find, and it’s so charmingly depressing that The National are jealous they didn’t write it first.
I’m not sure exactly where Gang of Youth’s sound lands in the spectrum between these songs, but I’m itching to have a larger sample size to enjoy. Expect big things from these Aussies.
- Mesita – “Vigilant”
#MESITAWATCH2013 sirens went off last week when James Cooley released “Vigilant.” I’ve already written enough for a small novella about Mesita and why he is one of the most talented artists out there (like here and here and here), but I did get to chat with James about the song, which I honestly believe is one of his best ever.
Apparently, big sections of this track had been in the works since last December, but “stressing about whether or not [he] was taking the correct next step working on it in the first place was freezing the process up.” He recounts that “things had to be let go,” and claims that he is “having so much fun making music right now, song by song, without worry about the flow of an album, release strategy, anything like that.” You have to admit that’s mildly refreshing to hear, especially from an artist who isn’t nearly making a living making music (yet).
In terms of the style of the song, he asks, “this track and the other new stuff might be all over the place, but why not have it that way at this point? Take it in new directions, avoiding sinking into complete blandness and shake things up a bit”. I don’t think he has to worry about blandness any time soon, but until another song of his pops up on the interweb, this has been another edition of #MESITAWATCH2013.
Now we can move onto a piece by one of my favorite new writers (that I scooped up for All Things Go as quickly as I could) for another edition of…
GUEST WRITERS YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Justin McCarthy Edition
Editor’s note: Justin was three years behind me in both high school and college, and while I knew who he was and pleasantries were always exchanged, it wasn’t until a few months ago, when a status update of his ranting about “the Mumfordization” of rock that made me both laugh hysterically and fervently nod along in agreement really cemented in my brain how awesome this kid is. Since then, he’s come up with great posts for All Things Go like this one, in which he claims that Ludacris is the Greatest Feature Rapper of All Time, and I expect to be overshadowed by him in the very near-future. With that, enjoy!
- The Naked and Famous – “Hearts Like Ours”
It’s the fourth quarter of the big BYT game. I’m sitting on the bench in my warm up when Coach Bryce, in trademark crew neck sweater and oxford combo, throws a chair at the scoring table to call time. He issues a shimmering flip of his resplendent golden hair in my direction. He shoots me a glare of coldest, purest intensity. “McCarthy,” he yells, “I’m putting you in, but I’m gonna need to see some of that irreverence, some of that personalization, some of those tangentially relevant links I saw this summer in the All Things Go League. Can you do that?”
Yes sir, coach. This is the kind of banger I can go JR Smith on for days.
You may remember New Zealand synthpop darlings The Naked and Famous for their song “Young Blood.” It’s melodic and breezy, there’s a one-syllable hook, and you can totally imagine it punctuating your Hulu binges as background music for a multiethnic family enjoying their new tablets in hyper-tight commercial light. To paraphrase my coach, readers, you can’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting a song like this in 2013. To the band’s credit, their newest offering maintains pop sensibility, but ups the artistic ante considerably. A song like “Hearts Like Ours”? Don’t even TRY the rock throwing thing. Your arms will get tired. And where are you anyway, like a quarry? A zen garden? Mars?
Pulsing synths. Purposeful, captivating vocals. Lyrics that stick with you (the fuck is with that empty bed downstairs? And why is it bothering me? That’s some Baby Shoes shit right there). Musically it’s anthemic and catchy, but manages to avoid banality; the whole song is an act of quickly passing a finger through the flame of corniness and always avoiding a burn. There’s a runaway drama to it that recalls “Keep the Car Running” and “Midnight City,” but this driver exits the highway to avoid the Springsteen toll, which is to say that there’s awareness here, and it’s a good thing – the call-and-response guitar riffery in the second verse, like most of the song, is a lot of fun if you let it be. Just kick back and relax and let “Hearts Like Ours” be “Hearts Like Ours,” and the nuances will reward you (those Moth Wing drums in the bridge, gah dayum). Is there a chance your mom who still watches Grey’s for whatever reason will hear it and enjoy it as McDreamy or someone does something and the credits roll? Maybe.
But listen for a sec as I espouse a big ol’ David Foster Wallace-y Thought about this song: sometimes, irony and inaccessibility and coldness seem like the only game in town for music that purports to be Serious, which bores me to death. Earnestness and sentiment and inclusivity and fun, all of which you will find here, are my jams. And I write about music on blogs, so I’m preeetty sure I know what I’m talking about.
Crushed it. Should I get the Transformer now, or wait until the season’s over?
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.