Eux Autres – Sun is Sunk EP

Heather and Nicholas Larimer are a brother-sister duo that make up the heart of Eux Autres. The band’s new release, Sun is Sunk is a six song EP that continues where they left off with their 2010 album, Broken Bow. Eux Autres have mastered their signature sound of three minute, upbeat, 60s inspired garage guitar, mixed with tag-you’re-it male/female vocals played out over bam-pop-bam-bam-pop drums.

Sadly, there aren’t any Springsteen covers on this release, but there are some promising songs that are simultaneously charming and cool. The EP’s opening track, “Right Again,” combines a Sleater-Kinney simplicity with a Velocity Girl sincerity. Heather’s vocals are convincing when she confesses, “I’ll be waiting when they break your heart again.”

One of the strongest songs on the EP is “Broken Record,” a Box Topish singsong that is punctuated by a Beach Boys bass line. Heather and Nicholas’ give and take vocals on the track showcases the inherent liability of the group.

Sun is Sunk is a perfect soundtrack to celebrate the coming of spring. Where most indie-pop bands get lost in melancholia and the mundane, Eux Autres have created a surprisingly upbeat and thoughtful EP that is as rewarding as it is refreshing.

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February 29, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

Andrew Belle – The Daylight EP

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Andrew Belle is a twenty-something singer-songwriter from Illinois that has a knack for writing songs that often get played in the background of some of your favorite television shows. From Pretty Little Liars to One Tree Hill, Belle’s music gets lost in the bright lights and brighter characters of these teenaged-tinged soap operas.

Often compared to the likes of The Fray and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Belle writes tunes that your girlfriend and advertising executives are sure to love. Unlike his musical comparisons, Belle’s safe-as-milk songs are sensible and approachable. But, where Belle’s songs succeed as soundtracks they fail as a whole. Without a pretty manufactured television image accompanying them, the three songs on The Daylight EP run together into one large fourteen and a half minute track that neither excites nor provokes.

Belle has a future. Don’t get me wrong. With his good looks and adult contemporary compositions, Belle will be writing songs that will eventually be used to sell anything from cars and computer software to thirty-something Starbucks drinkers with dead end day jobs.

February 23, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

Lana Del Rey: Born to be Criticized

In recent times, the music world has never attacked and picked apart an artist or band like the corporate music media bullies have done to Lana Del Rey. A writer at Spin magazine spent the majority of his review of Born to Die carefully dissecting Del Rey’s “objectively ridiculous lyrics” like they were a newly discovered George Gissing novel. This writer at the should-be-defunct magazine isn’t alone in his shallow criticism of Del Rey. Whether it is her fake name, her fake lips, her fake nails or her fake career, the vampire half-wits that make up the popular music press are relentlessly feeding on some mythical character they’ve created on their iPad, and in their unfounded hatred of Del Rey they’ve missed her inherent charm. With all this childish chatter about Del Rey, Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker asks, “Why is pop music the only art form that still inspires such arrantly stupid discussion?” Male performers are never placed under such scrutiny, so why is Del Rey such an enticing target?

Del Rey is the anti-Gaga. And this bothers people. Unlike Gaga, Del Rey doesn’t need to piece together some goofy outfit and dance around stage like an Adderall addict to distract the audience from the cacophony that is blasting from somewhere on the over lit stage. It takes a certain brave soul to stand in front of a television camera without holding an instrument, not hiding behind a piano or some fish net mesh covering one’s face and just sing. This is what Del Rey does. This what Del Rey did on SNL. She sings.

Lady Gaga’s lyrics are Facebook fodder filler for soon-to-be-graduating high school seniors to sing along with while they hold the plastic red cup in one hand and their iPhone in the other. But Lady Stardust gets a pass and Del Rey gets crucified. I use Gaga as an example because she has lulled the video game players and the texters and the Twitter twits and the Starbucks suckers to sleep with her loud and screechy songs. There are a million other examples of female performers that write horrible lyrics that never get examined with a coolness thermometer by Spin or Rolling Stone or Juliette “fuckin’ a” Lewis.

I understand the argument. Del Rey has connections. She has a cadre of musical doctors around her to keep an eye on her pop culture vitals; she signed to a large label for her debut instead of releasing it on Matador or Merge; she signed a deal with a modeling agency; and, more importantly, she cut ahead in the pretty pop performers’ line and made it to SNL as an almost complete unknown. I suppose it’s a matter of time before Pavement writes a song about her.

Will we be talking about Lana Del Rey a year from now? Probably not. But don’t count Del Rey out. She will tour and do countless interviews and perform on late night shows around the world, and maybe she’ll perform on American Idol. During this journey she will find her voice, her lyric writers will probably get younger and hipper and better, and Del Rey will give the writers at Spin something new to explicate and criticize while they continue to hand out free passes to whatever flavor of the year infects their iPods.

February 18, 2012. Essays. 1 comment.

Sentridoh – Child of the Apocalypse

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Lou Barlow has given his true fans a beautiful gift. With the reissuing of Sentridoh’s Weed Forestin’, Barlow dug deeper into his vast accumulation of four-track tapes and released Child of the Apocalypse, an album full of unreleased material, original takes, and various noisy tape collages that were recorded during the Weed Forestin’ era. Devoted followers of Barlow’s various bands will be familiar with most of the songs on Child. It’s a great way to revisit some of your favorite Lou Barlow musical moments.

Some of the highlights include an early version of “Sacred Attention” that clearly shows Barlow had the essence and beauty of the song way before he recorded a studio version for Bubble and Scrape. There’s a cleaner, more convincing version of “I Believe in Fate” that ends with Barlow proclaiming, “I’m bald, brown, and stupid.” Lastly, there’s an alternate version of the fan favorite “Brand New Love” that is briefly interrupted by a fading police siren that, strangely enough, doesn’t quite seem out of place on the recording.

If you’ve been following Lou Barlow and his many bands, he has been busy pleasing his fans with some amazing releases. In the past few years Barlow has re-issued, with extra tracks, most of Sebadoh’s albums; there have been a few albums that he’s released/sold through his website; and there is a limited edition live cassette he released for Record Store Day in 2011. It seems to me that Lou appreciates his fans; he understands their collector scum approach to his music. Whatever band name he releases his music under, Barlow just continues to prove that he is one of the best songwriters in music today.

Child of the Apocalypse can be purchased at http://sentridoh.bandcamp.com/. Give Lou the support and attention he deserves and buy a copy today.

February 18, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

Public Image Limited – “One Drop”

The first new Public Image Limited song in twenty years – a dub heavy track titled “One Drop” has hit the Internet this week. “One Drop” develops around a Metal Box-like guitar riff combined with 9 era lyrical approach. At times, the lyrical pattern mimics “Like That,” a track from the previously mentioned 9 album. Lydon talked about recording tracks for a new album in between PiL’s various tour dates, and one can hear the strain in Lydon’s vocals. There is certain tiredness, a passionate scratch in his voice that ultimate captures the slightly somber mood of the song.

In the past few tears or so, Lydon has been vocal about his pride and love for England. It seems as though “One Drop” is a reflection of his memories of growing up and around Finsbury Park. The track opens with the introduction, “I am John / And I was born in London / I am no vulture / This is my culture.” One wonders if the other tracks from the forthcoming album, This is PiL, is going to build around the theme of pride in country.

It’s great to see Lydon creating new material with PiL rather than rehashing Sex Pistols songs in stuffy arenas across the world. “One Drop” isn’t perfect. It feels as though Lydon didn’t truly utilize the talent he has with Smith, Edmonds and Firth, one of the strongest PiL lineups in decades. Also, Lydon’s trademark repetition of certain lyrics makes the song feel redundant and even boring. Sometimes silence in a song can be just as powerful as a lyric. This is something Lydon understood in his earlier years. Regardless, “One Drop” is a good start for PiL in 2012. God knows the track is better than anything one would hear on popular radio.

February 16, 2012. Songs. Leave a comment.