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The Illin' Music Thread

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Tag Archives: Rock

A long while back in middle school, as I was discovering my first taste of independent music in the heyday of Drive-Thru records, I listened briefly to a group on their roster called Steel Train.  For eighth grade me, they were nothing that really stood out compared to the other Drive-Thru bands that had captured my attention, and I went back to listening to The Early November and The Starting Line (nothing wrong with that!).

A few years later Lucas tried to tell me how good they were by sending me their cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”  I became a little more interested and checked out “Better Love,” a song that details the lead singer, Jack Antonoff’s, high school relationship with…Scarlett Johansson.  Yep.  That would be a tough one to get over.  Anyway, their music for some reason still didn’t hook me and thought that I would never really enjoy the band that much.

Cut to last week when I saw the cover of their new independently released self-titled album.  I loved the album art immediately, and the image of the punk girl particularly struck me because I’ve been reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series recently.

Their most recent Self-Titled album plays out like a retrospective study on the last half decade of indie rock, which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing!  There are Animal Collective-like whoops and hollers, chiming guitars that evoke Vampire Weekend, and a general epic feel that echos the recent Springsteen obsession of punk bands like the Gaslight Anthem

The standout track for me, however, is the pop abandon of You Are Dangerous.” Piano and palm muted guitars periodically rise and fall over a stop-and-start rhythm section, which gradually builds to a catchy-as-hell post chorus guitar riff that makes me want to dance around forever.  Add in some obligatory vocal “oohs” and you’ve got a great mid-summer jam.

With specific online purchases of the album the band is also giving away an alternate version with every track covered by a different female artist!  This is a pretty sweet idea, and is made only better by the fact that Lexington native Amanda Palmer lays down her own version of Steel Train’s “Behavior.”  Awesome!

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I recently had a dinner conversation with some friends about music. I talked with them about what I mentioned in my post on Totally Nebular–that is, I’m trying to find music that speaks to me, as a 90s baby growing up in the shadow of the 80s, that 80s that defined the sound of music in the last decade. As I said before, how can I relate to music that was created when I wasn’t alive for the creation of it? Obviously, you can have appreciation for music no matter when it was created, but I feel that those who created 80s-derivative music created it out of an ironic appreciation for the shitty music of their childhood. I didn’t grow up with Scorpion and Flock of Seagulls, though…! So that’s where I’m at currently; I’m looking for music that has the mood of my growing up, that reflects conditions I can relate to.

So where does this long diatribe lead us? To FARMS of course! I’ve been meaning to post them on here forever seeing as I’ve been listening to them for a month or so. They’re fucking awesome, and totally have that feeling I’ve been looking for. They do a better job of describing themselves than I could:

One member of FARMS has a fully functional synthesizer in his head and holds his mouth a little open like a third ear. One member of FARMS is a fucking ‘showboat’ who works drums like a middle schooler trying to show an older girl his ‘passion’ or how good he is at making out. One is a pleasant, video game psychic and one applies corporeal metaphors to like everything, and then smiles. FARMS is a Wisconsin band, because sometimes there is nothing else to do here/there than take drugs and go into woods or drive on interstates. They play in a basement with a coal chute and a bat.

Their music is absolutely wonderful. Whooshing synthesizers, delayed-the-fuck-out guitars and intricate, pulsing drums seem to define their sound a bit. Most of their songs are instrumental, but who needs lyrics anyways? They’re also really good at writing subtly catchy hooks. I’ve been whistling along to “We’ll All Be, On The Home Team” and “we got a box of white tape snakes” for weeks now. It’s all pretty lofi and grimy. Their drummer also makes music under the name “Vacation Dad“. Check him out–I’ll be posting him on here later.

When I listen to FARMS, I feel like they’re affirming life for every animal on our planet, like they’re celebrating going outside, like they’ve got nothing to hide from anyone. “All the lies you’ve ever told don’t really mean a thing, the ocean seems to say,” says Machi Tawara (and FARMS duh lol but with music instead of haikus lol  lol)

If I were you, I’d download their EP1 and their song “we got a box of white tape snakes” immediately. It’s great summertime porch-sitting music. Put on FARMS and watch the red sun set, and pretend it’s never going to come back

Click here to download FARMS’ “EP1”!

Click here to download “we got a box of white tape snakes”!

Grant, OUT!

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Isn’t it funny how things seem to come full circle?

A long long time ago in my sophomore year of high school I stumbled upon the wonderful band Hockey Night.  With a catchy mix of sweet basslines, harmonized lead guitar lines, and triumphant vocals, Hockey Night made me want to blare my car stereo and drive around town like there was no tomorrow.

Now in my sophomore year of college, Hockey Night has reformed as Free Energy, and they have a brand new full-length to show for their efforts.  Stuck On Nothing is a blast of the same awesome musical mix that made Hockey Night so awesome.  Also, this time they are banking a lot more on their musical resemblance of one of my favorite bands of all time: Thin Lizzy.  An indie rock Thin Lizzy?  Am I dreaming?  Fortunately, not.  Check out two great songs from their new CD and EP, which you should absolutely go out and buy right now.

Something in Common

Free Energy

Also, here’s a gem from their old Hockey Night days: Dark Trance (Psychic Lightning). They’ve re-recorded this song under the new title “Young Hearts,” but I like the old version better.

If these songs don’t sound like summer, then I don’t know what does.

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Maybe you’re getting tired of the fact that I start every post with a “I LOVE THIS BAND”. But I can’t help it! I’m sorry, but I can’t! I love this band! I do! Gracie And The Mouse have been knocking my socks off all weekend, kid! Exclamation point!

I’ve never really been a fan of acid jazz–the very phrase usually makes me want to run away from whoever said it at top speed to escape hearing shitty electronic drums and shitty, cheesy horn lines at lethargic tempos. It’s one of those “failed” sub-genres of jazz that very few people willingly listen to, like smooth jazz. However, G&M have taken the best parts of the genre and mixed it up with equal parts electropop, rock, and psychedelia to make one hell of an album–The 47th Coming Of Bristol Sound. They may just make me revise my stance towards acid jazz, brah.

The two songs I’m posting on here are my two favorite tracks: “I Love (Toxic)” and “BUnd (James BUnd)”. “Toxic” is probably the heaviest song on the album. Cusa, the lead singer, sings about razor blades and setting fire to your brainstem, a disturbing juxtaposition to the song’s gorgeous chord progressions and haunting melody.

“BUnd” at first seems super boring–the thirty seconds or so of intro material sets you up to think the song is going to be some sort of crappy acid jazz thing, but then WHAM. The vocal hook comes in and things get weird. Lines like, “Now we’re touching each other/We coat our bodies with butter” start popping up and the semi-boring bit at the beginning is exposed as A TRICKSTER. Setting up my expectations in one way, and then throwing me in the other direction. Well done, G&M!

Both songs are absolutely friggin’ awesome, and have this tendency to get stuck in your head. Thus, in conclusion:

THESE DUDES ROCK

DOWNLOAD THEIR SONGS, BRO!

Click here to download “I Love (Toxic)”!

Click here to download “BUnd (James BUnd)”!

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Last weekend, my friends Monica, Caitlin and Darcy showed me this video. Needless to say, I was completely blown away. Marina & The Diamonds’ “I Am Not A Robot” is suuuuch a good song. I feel like Marina Diamandis (after whom the band is named) is poised to become The Next Big Thing.

First of all, the song is catchy as all hell. Although her voice is pitch-corrected, it’s lovely to hear a pop song sans obscene autotune in this post-T Pain era (I guess I’m a hypocrite, what with my Deaf Country thang). The chorus of the song, “Guess what? I’m not a robot!” although simple, is just belted from the soul, dude. She means business.

Secondly, the music video is amazing. No, there aren’t any insane dance moves or Lady Gaga vaginas, but that doesn’t really matter. The few dance moves she does use–the hair flip, the shoulder pump–make her seem so liberated and free. Also, the rhinestones on her face are beDAZZLING. And the paint! Oh, the paint!

She’s also so pretty! According to Wikipedia, that “ever-expanding index of questionable validity” (oh, how I love John Hodgman!), she’s a Welsh singer-songwriter of Greek descent. DAMN, Greece. Way to make people like Marina!

Some people find her somewhat obnoxious or too twee, but I can’t get enough of her. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!

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I’ve kind of been going on a Whitehaus Family Record binge recently. I’ve been crusing the interwebz, looking for free downloads from bands like Peace, Loving, Many Mansions, and, of course, MANNERS. Hailed as one of the leading figures in the Yes Wave scene, this dude makes beautiful outdoors sunlight music. Also, look at those stylish pants! ME-OW!!!1LOL

I just downloaded his WINTOUR E.P. off of archive.org. Described as a series of “meditations”, this album reminds me of Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Quiet, unassuming drones, starkly unadorned yet never boring, reverberate through this 32 minute EP. It’s a calming record to listen to; you can put it on and do some work, or just look out the window at the grass leaving winter behind. He’s got a nice voice, too.

My favorite track is “Folk Legend Sun”. I like it because it reminds me of raking leaves in the fall, and it also has percussion in it, which is nice. I really like banjos, too, so that’s always a plus. It really is a lovely, quiet song, and I think you’ll enjoy it too.

Click here to download MANNERS’ “Folk Legend Sun” from his WINTOUR E.P.!

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Long time no see! I’m in the middle of finals, and to prolong my procrastination, I’m posting on here. Fun times!

Wye Oak, a folk-tinged indie rock band from Baltimore, came to Colby a few weeks ago and put on the best coffeehouse show of the semester. It was also probably the least well-attended show of the semester, due to two school groups performing at the same time.

These guys are awesome. The band is composed of Jenn Wasner singing and guitar-ing, and Andy Stack drumming with one hand and playing synth bass with the other hand (baller!). Jenn has a haunting, beautiful voice that really stuck with me after the show was done and over. (and maybe Mikel will develop a new celebrity crush on her)

If you can see these two live, do it! It was awesome to see two people so passionate about their music. They also rocked the fuck out for just twenty people or so, which was also cool because sometimes bands get pissed off at low turnouts. I think it would be interesting to compare how they play when the crowd is bigger and can give more energy to them during their performance with their Colby show.

I bought The Knot, their new album, after the show. My favorite song off it is “Siamese”. It’s dreamy, and really reminds me of driving in the winter. Check it out!

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