Headliners for annual free music festival include: Noname, SALES, Flasher, Post Animal Bloomington, Indiana: Pure Student Radio is proud to present Noname as the 2017 Culture Shock Music Festival Headliner. Previously under the moniker Noname Gypsy, Chicago’s Noname has established herself not only as a strong feature on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and Coloring Book, but as a powerhouse solo artist and performer on her debut mixtape, 2016’s Telefone. She has toured since the beginning of the year, and performed on Saturday Night Live with Chance the Rapper. Pitchfork gave her mixtape an 8.0 rating and described her work as “rich, somber, and incredibly intimate.” While Culture Shock typically features three touring acts as headliners, this year’s lineup features four, including Florida’s SALES, D.C.’s Flasher, and Chicago’s Post Animal. Sales released their self-titled LP last year, and will play Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington in late May. Post-punk trio Flasher released highly-buzzed about single “Erase Myself” in April of last year, and followed up with their debut S/T EP. Their melodic rock and vocals have drawn comparisons to Sonic Youth, and are equal parts moody shoegaze as they are dream-pop. Fourth and final headliner Post Animal features Joe Keery, who played Steve Harrington on Netflix’s Stranger Things, on guitar and vocals. They’ve put out several releases, including 2015’s Perform the Most Curious Water Activities and 2016’s The Garden Series. WIUX also is proud to present and feature several local musicians on the bill for Culture Shock every year. This year’s locals include High Fiber, House Olympics, Amy O (of Nice Try and Brenda’s Friend), Indianapolis hip-hop artists Drayco McCoy, F L A C O, and Mathaius Young, and Kevin Krauter (of Hoops). Last year, Culture Shock celebrated its 30th anniversary. Dating back to 1986, Culture Shock serves as an opportunity for WIUX to reach out to a both Indiana University and the Bloomington community at large. As the station’s largest on-campus event, Culture Shock is a means for combining music with the local artist community and businesses throughout Bloomington. Previous headliners have included Neon Indian, Foxygen, and Mac Demarco. Culture Shock will take place Saturday, April 15 in Dunn Meadow. The event is free, all-ages, and open to the public. Food and drink from local Bloomington businesses will be available for purchase, along with WIUX and limited-edition Culture Shock merchandise. For more information on Culture Shock, please contact WIUX Special Events Director Mike Higgins at email@example.com.
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WIUX Pure Student Radio attended the 77th Intercollegiate Broadcasting Systems (IBS) awards in New York City this weekend. The station presented on four panels and also brought home awards in the national college radio competition. Nominations were chosen in December and January, and those chosen were among the top ten percent of all submissions received to IBS. Panels included the following: Live in Studio Performances: How and Why, Comedy on the Radio: Radio Ha Ha, Create Another Outlet: The WIUX Story, and NonComm Radio: American vs Canadian. Presenters included Production Director Collin Thomas, Chief Engineer Nick Kinney, B-Side Programming Director Dalia Erkman, Special Events Director Mike Higgins, General Manager Michael Henderson, and Public Relations Director Annie Skertic. In addition to presenting, the station took home top honors in four categories, and was named a finalist in 17. WIUX won “Best Giveaway Item,” (Pitchfork 2016 Giveaway), “Best Comedy Program,” (Radio Ha Ha), “Best News Interview,” (Justice Eiden, TEDx), and “Best Chief Engineer,” (Nick Kinney). WIUX was nominated in the following categories: “Best Production Director” (Collin Thomas), “Best Station Manager” (Brian Berger and Michael Henderson), “Best Artist/Band Interview” (Emily Abshire and Conor Wiegmann- George Daniels from The 1975), Interview), “Best Liner” (Conor Wiegmann- “Wild Child” and Eikhmal Syafig- “Keeping You Close”), “Best Men’s Basketball Play-by-Play” (Ben Wittenstein-IU vs UNC), “Best Station Promotional Poster” (Emily Absire and Tadeusz Sadowski- Pledge Drive Poster), a second nomination for “Best Giveaway Item” (Riot Fest Giveaway), “Best Variety Program” (Brian Berger and the engineering staff), “Best YouTube Channel,” and “Best Blog.” Additionally, WIUX was nominated for “Best Website” and “Best College Station (10,000+)” for the second year in a row. For more information on IBS, contact WIUX Production Director Collin Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org, General Manager Michael Henderson at email@example.com, and Chief Engineer Nick Kinney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fresh off the release of their latest LP, Celebration, Minnesota-based Tiny Moving Parts headed to Indianapolis at the start of their summer tour with Prawn. WIUX got to chat with Dylan Mattheisen, TMP's vocalist and guitarist before the show about his favorite albums so far in 2016, making music, and more.
Fresh off the release of their newest record, Human Performance, Parquet Courts will take the Bishop stage Tuesday night. The New York rockers, who formed in 2010, have released four full lengths and two EPs. Human Performance is buzzing with heavy guitar riffs and driving vocals, but also incorporates a stronger emphasis on lyricism. With hints of Pavement (“Steady on My Mind”) and The Velvet Underground (album close “It’s Gonna Happen), the record solidifies Parquet Courts spot in the indie rock timeline. They’re also making their way out to festivals this summer, with slots lined up up at Shaky Knees festival in May and Primavera Sound festival in June. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRG3R2FmGlY Opening up is Soda, whose EP Without a Head was released earlier this year. The show is 18+, and doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 pre-sale, or available for $17 at the door.
Following the release of their full-length debut Human Ceremony (via Fat Possum), Brooklyn's Sunflower Bean will take their psychedelic dream pop to The Bishop tonight. After an EP release last summer and a handful of singles prior to their album, the young trio has been steadily on the rise, playing opening gigs with both DIIV and Wolf Alice. Their youthful approach to tracks like single, “Easier Said,” evoke an airy, psychedelic feel, while album closer “Space Exploration Disaster,” tap into the more fuzz-rock influences heard throughout the record. Toronto-based Weaves and locals The Pills will open up the show. Fronted by Jasmyn Burke, Weaves guitar-driven pop has received praise from outlets like Rolling Stone and Noisey following the release of their 2014 self-titled debut EP. Their first full-length album will be released June 17. The Pills are no stranger to the Bloomington scene, having recently played a show at The Bishop with Keeps and opening up another for Radkey. Their EP Real Cheese was released last fall. Music starts at 9:30, with tickets available for $8 in advance and $10 at the door. This is an 18+ show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xykuu_pVZak
This Wednesday, Philly rockers Hop Along will perform at the Bishop. Following the release of their widely-acclaimed 2015 sophomore album Painted Shut, Frances Quinlan and co. have toured extensively and will perform at a handful of music festivals this summer, including Sasquatch and Shaky Knees. Initially beginning as a freak folk solo act (then known as Hop Along, Queen Ansleis) in 2004, Hop Along has expanded into a fully developed band, drawing in more lo-fi and punk influences into their sound. Their first record Get Disowned was released in 2012. After signing to Saddle Creek Records in 2014, they released Painted Shut the following spring. Featuring raspy and wild vocals by front woman Quinlan, Painted Shut is filled from top to bottom with energetic guitars and personal, story-songs. Songs range from acoustic, folksy mid-album track "Happy to See Me" to fast-paced closer "Sister Cities." Kleinerwasserbar (Richard Wehrenberg and Jon Washington from Saintseneca) and local artist Amy O of Brenda's Friend (Who will be playing at Culture Shock!) will open the show. Tickets are $12 and available online, at The Bishop, or Landlocked Music. Doors for the show, which is 18+, open at 8:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 9:30 p.m. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojb7_u2jxlQ
Released 2/12 via Run for Cover Records Rating: 6/7 Stars Aphasia is a condition defined by the inability to express or understand speech. A traumatic accident may cause a person to develop the disability. On Pinegrove’s RFC debut, Cardinal, lead singer and songwriter Evan Stephen Hall metaphorically bids farewell to aphasia, and takes steps towards clarity in his thoughts and expressions, citing “things go wrong sometimes, don’t let it freak you out” / “but if I don’t have you by me then I’ll go underground.” This combination of dark optimism with introspective questioning is evident throughout Cardinal. The result is a tight, eight-song exploration of friendships and relationships, human connection, and self-affirmations, all tied together with jangling guitars, clever lyrics, and anthemic vocals. Despite hailing from the East Coast and making their way through the New Jersey DIY scene, Pinegrove has a distinct drawl that separates from many of their label mates on Run For Cover. While comparisons to Uncle Tupelo / early Wilco are valid, their sound skates down a line that teeters heavily between modern folk and pop punk (a more appropriate comparison may be LIFTED-era Bright Eyes, with Hall's vocals evoking a similar indie-esque twang to Conor Oberst). What differentiates Pinegrove from so many others is their ability to bridge these two genres so effortlessly. The aforementioned twang in Hall’s voice is more evident on softer, more reflective tracks like “Cadmium” and “Waveform,” which are offset by the bouncy guitar-riffs and ease of “Then Again.” Lyrical and tempo contrasts are frequent as well-- on “Size of the Moon,” Hall’s emotional refrain “I don’t know what I’m afraid of” is just as much twang-y singalong as it is confessional breakdown. Pinegrove’s music captures a unique moment in time. Hall puts into words the feeling of dissonance and disassociation with getting older and the effect it has on friendships and relationship. He manages to capture a sense of loneliness, as well as the desire for belonging and a feeling of comfort no better than on album opener "Old Friends," and closer "New Friends." Heavy with nostalgia, “Old Friends,” is both deprecating and regretful (“maybe I got too caught up in my own shit / how every outcomes such a comedown”) and wise, as Hall realizes the imperative need to reach out to those who matter most (“I should call my parents when I think of them / should tell my friends when I love them”). Closing the album is “New Friends,” which was featured on Pinegrove’s fall 2015 compilation Everything so Far. It juxtaposes nearly perfectly, opening up with a sunny guitar riff but signifying more apathy than its album-opening counterpart, with Hall instead asking himself “what’s the worst that can happen?” and shrugging his shoulders while he tries to fall out of love. Many of Hall’s lyrics question both himself and the relationships that he makes his way through. Few young bands are able to both encapsulate such heavy paradoxes; a deep nostalgia for the past and the people who embody it and a conflicting apathy for failed relationships. The “introspective partying” of Pinegrove is dynamic, both parts complex and witty, and a beautiful summation in navigating the complications of growing up and growing apart. Cardinal by Pinegrove
Bloomington, Ind.- Yesterday, the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) announced their 2016 awards finalists. Those chosen as finalists were among the top ten percent of all submissions received to the IBS. WIUX DJs and reporters submitted a variety of pieces, including news features and liner IDs. WIUX received nominations in the following categories: Best News Feature (Brenden Spangler, “Islamaphobia”), Best Promo Series (Sarah Thompson, Sam Velazquez, Michael Henderson and Anne Broach), Best Speciality Music Show (Jack Garrison, “Off The Record”), Best Fundraising/Underwriting Campaign (Eikhmal Syafiq, “Culture Shock”), Best Public Service Promo (Sam Rumpza and Ben Wittenstein, “Depression Awareness”), Best Station ID (Collin Thomas, “Alabama Shakes ID”), and Best Sports Play-by-Play (Sam Rumpza, Ben Wittenstein, Cole Dunbar & Sean Nash “Little 500”). Additionally, WIUX was named a finalist for Best Website and Best College Station. The IBS Award winners will be announced at the Annual IBS International Conference in New York City, which takes place March 4-6, 2016. For more information on IBS awards and nominations, contact WIUX Station Manager Sarah Thompson at email@example.com or WIUX General Manager Sam Velazquez at firstname.lastname@example.org. To request an interview, contact WIUX Public Relations Director Annie Skertic at email@example.com
On Sunday night, Texas crooner Leon Bridges will make his first Bloomington appearance with a performance at the Bluebird. Bridges' debut album Coming Home was released in June to critical acclaim, and he will perform on Saturday Night Live tonight before making his way to the Midwest. At only 26 years-old, Bridges has managed to evoke the nostalgia of retro soul and gospel music in tracks such as title-track "Coming Home" and album closer "River." Citing his “Sam Cooke-esque croon,” Rolling Stone gave the record 3.5/5 stars and ranked it number 31 on their “Best Albums of 2015" list. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgS_xob1x4A The show is 21+. Tickets are $27 (sold out). Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Released 4/21 via ATO Records Rating: 6/7 Stars Alabama Shakes’ 2012 debut album Boys and Girls was a tight, 10-track exploration of what modern day blues and rock band has the potential to be. Ball-and-chain vocals from lead singer Brittany Howard combined with rousing guitar and bass lines took the rock ‘n' roll, blues-based energy of 1960s and brought them straight to 2012 without missing a beat. The down-home vibe and intimacy of the record created a feeling that Alabama Shakes’ was like a regular performer at your local dive bar. But a local performer who had the potential to go out and do something a bit bigger and a bit more exciting with their talent. (Which they did: in 2013, they were nominated for three Grammys, including Best New Artist, and Boys and Girls was certified gold by the RIAA in 2013). Needless to say, there were high expectations for anybody who became fond of the Shakes after their fantastic stomp onto the music scene and festival circuit three years ago. Sound and Color not only capitalizes on the success they had with their debut, but takes every element of their blues-infused sound and pushes it to the absolute edge, combining elements of rock and roll, country, R & B, and funk to create a genre-bending, 12-song tornado of staggering vocals and diverse instrumentation. Influences range from Marvin Gaye-style swagger on tracks like “Guess Who,” to a 70s funk element on lead single “Don’t Wanna Fight” (thanks in large part to bassist Zac Cockrell’s effervescent groove). On the six-minute long “Gemini,” traces of psychedelic rock and guitar fuzz, combined with Nina Simone-esque vocals create a complexity not found previously on Boys and Girls. Conversely, “Shoegaze” evokes a feeling most similar to their earlier work; a bluesy-rock beat with a catchy chorus. Singer and guitarist Brittany Howard solidifies her place as one of the strongest lead vocalist making music today. While the overt distinction is her booming southern growl, it’s on songs like album opener “Sound & Color” or mid-tempo “This Feeling,” where she proves even the loudest, gruffest of voices can still pull back for a tender performance. On the flipside, she shows her diversity on songs like “The Greatest” which effortlessly sounds like the band got together in a garage and threw together a brilliant, high-tempo rock jam. Naturally, on a 12-track album, there are songs that pack less of a punch. Album closer “Over My Head,” has a steady beat that unfortunately feels a bit redundant (due in large part to the vocal layering of the same like “loving so deeply, I’m in over my head” repeatedly). “Dunes,” feels a bit muddled, and not quite as panoramic as the rest of the record. Still, the complexity and range of instruments-- xylophones on “Sound and Color,” the soulful touch on “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Howard’s falsetto throughout the record-- make nearly every track dynamic. Howard’s ferocious vocals were the highlight of Boys and Girls, and while the rest of the band had a firm grasp on the styling of a southern rock blues-outlet, there seemed to be on element of restraint. On Sound and Color, the instruments explode. Guitarist Heath Fogg’s R&B drenched licks and Cockrell’s aforementioned funk don’t overshadow Howard, but instead noticeably maintain (without exceeding) her energy levels. The ferocity in their attempt to match her wild, unpredictable vocals is perhaps most evident on “Miss You,” where Howard’s lyrical explosions are followed immediately by an increase in the rest of the band’s tempo. When she immediately pulls back, they follow suit to create a tension and verve that they haven’t explored as deeply until now. Boys and Girls was a roaring debut and a revitalization of pure Americana rock 'n' roll. On Sound and Color, it’s a step up. There’s less tightness to the production, with more of a landscaping expansiveness to nearly every song. With the powerful vocals of Howard, it would be easy for the band to go into the studio and make Boys and Girls, Vol. II. Instead, they manage something special that few artists can attain on a sophomore effort—true to their roots but infusing a breath of dynamic elements to keep the sound fresh. Sound and Color may not have been what listeners expected, but it certainly is astounding enough to keep them around for another round of the Shakes undeniable southern rock reign. Must Listens: “Don’t Wanna Fight” “Gimme All Your Love” “This Feeling” “Miss You”
Released: 3/24/2015 via Infinity Cat Recordings Rating: 4/7 Stars So far, it’s been an eventful 2015 for Nashville’s psychedelic rock duo JEFF the Brotherhood. After being dropped from the major label world (read here to see just how pleased they are to be off Warner Bros.), the Orrall brothers Jake and Jamin decided to return back to their roots and release Wasted On The Dream on their independent label, Infinity Cat Recordings. While Warner Bros. put the the album out two weeks ago on March 10, the band chose to push their unveiling of their album on Infinity Cat earlier this week. As far as JEFF the Brotherhood goes, there shouldn’t be many mind-blowing expectations going into one of their records. While this is their first album since 2012, it’s fairly easy to tell what you’re going to get: lots (and lots) of heavy guitar riffs, some tongue-and-cheek lyrics, and an underlying pop hook on most of choruses. On Wasted On The Dream, they deliver just that. This isn’t a band that’s aiming for a Bob Dylan-esque, transformative approach to each album. It’s simple, it’s energetic, and it’s something they’ve managed to master in their own way. The album opens up with “Voyage Into The Dreams,” a spacey track that ultimately registers a bit too played out with the echoing backing vocals responding with phrases like “won’t you come with me? / I will set you free.” While the mystical, psychedelic theme is evident throughout the rest of Wasted On The Dream, it starts off feeling all too cliché and gimmicky. Single “Black Cherry Pie” follows, and includes an unexpected flute solo from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. While the lyrics leave something to be desired (“heard the world has turned into a great big ball of shit / what are we supposed to do”), the melodic chorus and again, catchy riffs save it. The album reaches a high point midway through with “In My Dreams” and it’s stellar guest vocals from Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. It includes all the best elements that JEFF the Brotherhood is capable of: a catchy chorus, heavy guitar, and some garage-rock fuzz overlaying it all. “Melting Place,” opens up with a slow, Black Sabbath-like riff and continues alternating between the droning guitar a steady quick pace, while album closer “Prairie Song” evokes alt-rock, 90s feel with a steady drumroll and a slow build from verse-to-verse. Luckily for the Orrall brothers, their interesting instrumental choices, from quick turns in beat to unexpected wind instruments, tend to overshadow the somewhat base-line lyrics. For example, once you get past the heavy riffs and poppy “whoo-hoos,” all that you’re left with on mid-album track “Karaoke, TN,” is a tale of Jake Orrall being too drunk to do karaoke. Groundbreaking, poetic lyrics? No. Catchy and fun (most likely if you’re inebriated as well)? Probably. While it would have been a great tale of the band coming out of being dropped from a major label with a massively epic and groundbreaking release, that’s not what the case is probably ever going to be with JEFF the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, there is not much to celebrate with their lyrics and songwriting style, there is something to be said for the way they approach their music. The Orrall Brothers aren’t showing any signs of growing up or maturing with Wasted On The Dream, but with this being their eighth LP, they’re also not showing any signs of slowing down. Must-Listens: “Black Cherry Pie” “In My Dreams”
This Sunday, Kevin Devine and Into It. Over It. will bring their indie-rock/emo/singer-songwriter fusion to the Bishop. Brooklyn native Devine began gaining popularity in 2003 with his album Make the Clocks Move and solidified a stronger fan base after touring with Brand New in 2006. He’s released records as a solo act, as well as with his backing band, The Goddamn Band. Devine also plays in Bad Books, an indie-rock collaboration with Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra. Into It. Over It., the solo project of Chicago’s Evan Weiss ,will also play Sunday night. After his concept albums 52 Weeks in 2009 and Twelve Towns in 2011, he released Proper with No Sleep Records in 2011. His most recent album, Intersections, was released with Triple Crown Records in 2013. In addition to his solo work, Weiss fronts Their / They’re / There and Pet Symmetry. Laura Stevenson, a singer-songwriter from Long Island, NY, will open the show. Her most recent album, Wheel, was released in 2013 under Don Giovanni Records. Additionally, she released an album in 2010 with her band, Laura Stevenson & the Cans. The show is 18+ and doors open at 8 p.m. Advanced tickets are available for $15 and are $18 at the door.
Released: 2/3/2015 Rating: 4/7 After releasing The Last Thing You Forget in 2009 on Run For Cover Records, Kingston, Pennsylvania’s Title Fight started carving a path for them selves in the hardcore and punk scene. Drawing on inspiration from bands such as Knapsack and Jawbreaker on 2011’s Shed, they received high praise in the revitalized punk community and released the well-received Floral Green in 2012 followed by a split with Touche Amore and an EP in 2013. However, within two years they have drastically flipped their sound and production styles for their latest release, Hyperview. Vocalist Ted Russin said the band drew inspiration from artists such as Dinosaur, Jr. (a plausible comparison on the record) as well as The Beach Boys (much less plausible). Title Fight foregos the usual fast-paced, feverish playing they’ve mastered, choosing instead to offer up a dreamy, ethereal sound. While there were traces of a more melodic approach on Floral Green (think “Head In The Ceiling Fan”), on Hyperview they chose not to dip their toes into a My Bloody Valentine style shoegaze, but to instead jump knee-deep for the entire album. The album opens with “Murder Your Memory,” a dragging tune that feels like it might slowly build to a quicker pace but steadily plateaus off. “Mrahc,” edges most into the most punk-esque with a catchy guitar riff ending out the song, while the following track “Your Pain Is Mine Now,” is far slower, with Russen’s tone veering ever so slightly into Morrissey-territory on the chorus. Conversely, “Chlorine,” the first single, is a prime example of how Title Fight has toyed around with the sound quality of their work but not so much the lyrical content—lines such as “poison in your mood/chlorine eyes from you/decorated blue/opening a wound” feel just as angst-ridden as anything found on Floral Green or Shed. Songs such as “Liars Love” seem like they might feel more at home on a Real Estate record, while album closer “New Vision” sounds like it could have been an aggressive punk song but was, like every other song on the record, given a washing of reverb to drown out any chance of being perceived as too heavy or hardcore. The two most tracks most reminiscent of Title Fight’s previous works are “Hyperecho” and “Rose of Sharon.” While they still have the distinct echo-like quality of every other song on Hyperview, the band manages to evoke a sound more familiar to their fervent punk/hardcore roots. Still, the powerful energy formerly conveyed by these screams is so hindered by muffled production that it feels more like listening to a recording of the song from the back of the room and through a wall or two. The slow, dwindling energy throughout the entirety of Hyperview makes the lyrics difficult to discern over the envelope of guitars and reverb. As opposed to just a general “fuzz” quality, the album is nearly all noise with little to no emphasis on vocals. Unfortunately, the unique vocal tone of Russin gets muddled in the production and essentially sounds as if he’s droning on the same song for the 32-minutes, with just the backing instruments changing every once in a while. For long time fans of Title Fight, such a drastic development could be slightly jarring to say the least. Still, it’s undoubtedly a commendable move to make and clearly a step into a more mature sound for the band’s future. While the overwhelming sound and production quality doesn’t necessarily make this release a failure, it’s clear that continued progress and maturation with this new sound are in order for future releases. With Vogue.com giving them publicity last month, the music of Hyperview is clearly a far cry from the Pennsylvanian punk-outlet that they began as. But with lyrical content reminiscent of an earlier time in the band’s history, it’s clear that at the root of it all, they are still the screaming, up-beat, fast-paced, melodic hardcore band that was born over ten years ago. Must Listens: “Rose Of Sharon” “Mrahc” “Your Pain Is Mine Now”
Released: 9/23/14 5/7 Stars Orange County rock band The Growlers refuses to fall into a single genre. At the core of their craft, they are a garage rock band from California. But across their entire discography, influences ranging from psychedelic, heavy surf rock, punk, and even, at times, hints of reggae and disco are evident. Describing themselves “beach goth,” The Growlers have been able to seamlessly pull from different genres over their four albums, but on their fifth full-length album, Chinese Fountain, the California garage rockers manage to bring their influences together to still keep the sound diverse but more polished than before. Chinese Fountain opens up with groove-heavy track “Big Toe,” with a catchy guitar riff and steady percussion beat carrying lead singer Brooks Nielsen’s vocals over distinctly downtrodden lyrics about a lost love, crooning “She’s got me on the bridge/looking down at the old cold river.” Following it is “Black Memories,” where Nielsen sings of unfading scars and asks his love to “come back with his heart.” With two lyrically heavy-laden songs starting off the album, it would appear this would be 11 tracks of a lost love and shattered heart. Midway through however, some hints of optimism appear. On the sunny track “Going Gets Tough,” Nielsen sings “Still always remembering when the going gets tough/That the labor of our love will reward us soon enough.” Such overt optimism isn’t as inevitable in the following track, “Magnificent Sadness,” where the message of hope being on the horizon is masked by a heavier, darker instrumentation. Chinese Fountain rounds out it’s last four tracks in a similar pattern to the rest of the album: an alternating mix of breezy surf music such as the cautionary “Love Test” and spacey, echo-laden songs like album closer “Purgatory Drive.” There can, however, be a disconnect at times. Title track “Chinese Fountain” seems to be the most dissimilar to others in terms of influence, starting with a steady keyboard pattern and subtle disco-feel. Still, the fluidity of the album is strong and the overall tone is similar to previous releases. Instruments swing and topple over each other, and Nielsen voice floats seamlessly with the reverb soaked melodies that The Growlers have become so well known for. After four albums, a handful of EPs and demos, a studio fire, and a previously failed production attempt by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, the band seems to have pulled together the dozens of influences they draw from into a cohesive album better than they ever have before. While some of the tracks on Chinese Fountain can at times sound a bit similar after one listen, clear genre-bending instrumentation and clever lyrics help differentiate from song to song. As for Nielsen, the listener gets the sense this album was almost like reading from pages of a journal; the lyrics are honest and raw, clearly speaking of a breakthrough and hope he’s looking to have post a broken heart. Despite a penchant for frequently putting out music, The Growlers still keep themselves low profile. Despite theatrics and wigs at live shows, the yearly Beach Goth Festival that they host, and selling out venues across the country, they still maintain a low key and underground element to their craft. But if the strength of their song-writing and skill as artists they showed on album number five, tagged with an industry looking to throw the next underground, anti-mainstream band into the spotlight and festival scene, life post-Chinese Fountain may see a breakthrough for The Growlers in more ways than one. Must Listens: “Big Toe” “Magnificent Sadness” “Love Test”
Falling in love with a new artist can be difficult. If you’re anything like me, you feel it’s your obligation as a fan to go back and learn the entire catalog, memorize every line up change of a band, understand which label put out each album, and so on. While researching music is inevitably more entertaining than practice problems for statistics or conjugating French verbs, I understand that when school rolls around, I have less time to devote to my favorite past time. Last Tuesday, Ryan Adams released his fourteenth official studio album, a self-titled record put out on his record label Pax-Am. To put it simply, fourteen is a lot of albums. That means a lot of songs to listen to. I’ve been an avid fan since I started listening to Ryan Adams when I was 14, and at the time felt his catalog to be completely overwhelming. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowly but surely tackled nearly the entire thing. But if the casual fan wants to know a few more tracks by one of the greatest songwriters of our generation before they pick up the new album, it can be a hefty task. Below, I have provided a comprehensive list of what I consider to be 20 essential songs by Ryan Adams to know before tuning in to his most recent release. Once you’ve gotten through a bit of this list, check out Sam Velazquez’s review over Ryan Adams’ brand new, self-titled album here. “Come Pick Me Up” –Heartbreaker, 2000 “Why Do They Leave?” –Heartbreaker, 2000 “Call Me On Your Way Back Home” –Heartbreaker, 2000 “The Rescue Blues”- Gold, 2001 “When The Stars Go Blue”- Gold, 2001 “New York, New York”- Gold, 2001 “Cry On Demand”- Demolition, 2002 “Dear Chicago”- Demolition, 2002 “Note To Self: Don’t Die”- Rock N Roll, 2003 “The Shadowlands”- Love Is Hell, pt. 1, Nov. 2003 “Please Do Not Let Me Go”- Love Is Hell, pt. 2, Dec. 2003 “English Girls Approximately”- Love Is Hell, pt. 2, Dec. 2003 “Hotel Chelsea Nights”- Love Is Hell, pt. 2, Dec. 2003 “Blue Sky Blues”- 29, 2005 “Goodnight Rose”- Easy Tiger, 2007 “Two”- Easy Tiger, 2007 “I Taught Myself How To Grow Old”- Easy Tiger, 2007 “Chains Of Love”- Ashes and Fire, 2011 “Lucky Now" - Ashes and Fire, 2011 “I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say”- Ashes and Fire, 2011 Bonus: Ryan Adams’ discography is too extensive to only provide 20 songs. His work with alt- country band Whiskeytown is what put him in the public eye, and later he toured frequently with a backing band called The Cardinals. Below are five Whiskeytown songs and five Cardinals songs to expand your knowledge of his music even further. Whiskeytown “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight”- Stranger’s Almanac, 1997 “Indian Gown”- Stranger’s Almanac, 1997 “Sit & Listen To The Rain”-Pneumonia, 2001 “Don’t Wanna Know Why”- Pneumonia, 2001 “The Ballad Of Carol Lynn”- Pneumonia, 2001 Ryan Adams & The Cardinals “Magnolia Mountain”- Cold Roses, 2005 “Dear John”- Jacksonville City Nights, 2005 “Blue Hotel”- Follow The Lights, 2007 “Crossed Out Name”- Cardinology, 2008 “Stop Playing With My Heart”- III/IV, 2010
Released: 3/18/2014 7/7 Stars Philadelphia-based band The War On Drugs has been steady on the indie rock scene since their debut full-length album in 2008, Wagonwheel Blues. After founding member Kurt Vile left to pursue a solo career, lead singer Adam Granduciel formed several new lineups and followed up with 2011’s critically acclaimed Slave Ambient. With a seemingly never-ending winter having been cast upon the Midwest this year, Granduciel has managed to present an album full of drowsy, ambient stretches of instrumental reminiscent of road tripping on a hazy summer day. Despite the presentation of the songs, one look at the track listing and it’s evident the content is not as light and airy as the instrumentation itself. With song names like “Red Eyes,” “Suffering,” and “The Haunting Idle,” it’s not surprising this album was made at a strange time in Granduciel’s life. After extensive touring for Slave Ambient, he went back to Philadelphia and after a break-up early on in the recording process, he has said he felt “isolated” while preparing this album. Lost In The Dream starts off with the almost nine minute long track “Under Pressure.” Nearly every song on the album is over five minutes long, with the opening track being the longest. With steady beats and expounding synthesizers, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. Following it is the fuller “Red Eyes,” a reverb-soaked track with an echoing bridge that picks up the pace after the lengthy opener. The latter half of the album begins with the standout track off Lost In The Dream, “Eyes To The Wind.” It’s a light, breezy melody contrasted by lyrics that perhaps sum up best what Granduciel was feeling when he wrote this album (I’m just a bit run down here at the moment/Yeah, I’m all alone here, living in darkness). Vocally, it is Granduciel’s shining moment of the album, with less synthetic tweaks and a pure representation of his voice that is slightly reminiscient of Tom Petty. A landscaping instrumentation at the end of the song wraps it all up and puts the track in the perfect package of honest lyrics, beautiful melodies and raw vocals. Following “Eyes To The Wind” is the “The Haunting Idle,” a fitting title for a dark, fully instrumental track. The album is rounded out with another shining moment, “In Reverse.” A dreamy intro slowly flows into lyrics that alternate between seeming optimistic (“When I’m done with my time here/I’m going to keep going) and contrastingly more down (“Sometimes I wait for the cold wind/As I struggle with myself). A steady drumbeat keeps the melody going, and yet again Granduciel’s vocals shine through any instrument. Lost In The Dream is Granduciel putting his heart on his sleeve for the sake his art. With lyrics, vocals, and instrumentation reminiscent of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and even at times Bob Dylan, this album is a journey of honest emotion and expansive instrumental breaks. This is an album meant to be listened to from start to finish, as there is a story to be followed and explored with Granduciel. He perfectly connects each song to the next, creating a masterful and carefully crafted piece of work. It may be early in 2014, but Lost In The Dream that is undoubtedly a contender for one of the top albums of the year. Must Listens: “Under Pressure” “Eyes To The Wind” “In Reverse”
Released: 11/12/13 6/7 Stars My history with Andrew Bird’s music is a short but passionate relationship. It began when I stumbled across a review for 2012’s Break It Yourself. I quickly searched him on YouTube and found a live performance of “Danse Caribe” on KEXP, thus setting the tone for what has been almost two years of my infatuation with Chicago’s Andrew Bird and his violin. On his newly released EP I Want To See Pulaski At Night, Bird embraces stunning instrumentation, but sacrifices vocals, with his ethereal voice appearing solely on “Pulaski at Night.” With that in mind, the song proves to be central to the themes of the EP. Bird croons about his longing for what appears to be a long lost lover, impressing with lyrics such as “Come back to Chicago/The city of light.” However, the song could be interpreted as being about a distant friendship, romantic relationship or otherwise. The beauty is in how Bird leaves his minimal lyrics up to the interpretation of the listener. This EP is largely focused on the track “Pulaski at Night,” which was released earlier this year, and the other songs serve as a prelude and epilogue to the track. With so many of his classic instruments weaving into one and other, the EP runs together fluidly and almost as if it were the score to a film. The elegance and strength in Bird’s music allows the listener to picture whatever storyline they want with the EP. There is nothing set in stone with these well-orchestrated songs; much like reading a book and envisioning characters a certain way, Bird’s newest release gives the audience permission to build their own story behind the music. While his vocals and spellbinding lyrics are undoubtedly missed on the EP, I Want To See Pulaski At Night still proves to be another solid addition to Andrew Bird’s discography. -Annie Skertic Reach Annie Skertic at firstname.lastname@example.org
Released: 9/20/2013 5/7 stars As a Kings of Leon fan, it’s been a rough few years. After the massive success of 2008’s Only By the Night, The Nashville quartet, composed of brothers Caleb, Jared and Nathan Followill, and cousin Matthew Followill, began selling out stadium tours around the world. They came back in 2010 with a lack-luster effort, Come Around Sundown, continued touring, and eventually teetered on a break-up following an exhaustion-fueled tantrum in which lead singer Caleb Followill drunkenly stormed off stage without returning to finish the set. The band cancelled 26 tour dates. They announced their hiatus in October 2011. Fans wondered if they would ever hear from the band that produced the magic that was 2004’s Aha Shake Heartbreak. Critics said this was bound to happen after reaching such monumental triumph with their singles, “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire.” A band sees commercial success and fails to recapture the sales of the follow-up, the members fight, go their separate ways and we rarely hear from them again. Right? Not quite the case with Kings of Leon. With the release of Mechanical Bull, camp Followill proved to fans and doubters alike they could return to their original form and produce a record that wiped away the turmoil of the past several years. The album starts off with the first single, “Supersoaker,” an upbeat, guitar heavy beat that highlights Caleb Followill’s gruff vocals. A string of southern-rock infused tracks follow, including the foot-stomping, hand-clapping jam “Rock City” and the soulful “Don’t Matter.” The band reaches new lyrical and emotional heights with, “Beautiful War,” a slow and soulful track about Caleb Followill’s quest to find meaning in love. He croons in the chorus: “I said love/Don’t mean nothing/Unless there’s something/Worth fighting for.” This song is an album standout. Other mid-tempo tracks such as “Wait for Me” and “Comeback Story” follow, which help add a balance between the faster-paced melodies and slower tunes. That’s not to say the album is without its flaws. Kitschy lyrics arise in “Family Tree.” A chorus consisting of “I am your family tree/I know your A-to-Z,” pales in comparison to its counterparts on the album. Additionally, there is an occasional disconnect between what sound they desire to capture and the audience they want to please. Songs such as “Temple” ring true to the grittier, Southern-rock sound they captured in their earlier work, whereas tracks like “Coming Back Again” feel more at home with the larger stadium work they produced with Only By the Night. Mechanical Bull meets the expectations with both long-time fans and those who joined after their massive rise in popularity. It shows a growth and maturity in their sound and while inconsistent at times, mirrors their early work beautifully. After a near demise of Kings of Leon,Mechanical Bull proves to be a comeback album worth remembering. —Annie Skertic Reach Annie at email@example.com
Rating: 6/7 As far as music is concerned, the Pacific Northwest seems to be a breeding ground for some of this generation’s greatest Indie musicians. Death Cab for Cutie, Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses are just a few of the massively popular indie-rock bands to rise from Washington state. 80 miles outside of Seattle, which has become a mecca for hipster music, is Anacortes, WA, where fellow indie-rockers, The Lonely Forest, call home. The band, lead by frontman John Van Deusen, put themselves on caliber with their Pacific-Northwest counterparts with their fourth full-length album Adding Up The Wasted Hours. Produced by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, the album opens up with “Pull The Pin and Forget It,” a guitar-heavy track that combines layered vocals and echoes to produce a song filled with depth. It transitions beautifully into the next track, “Lovric’s,” which, with a foot-stomp inducing and piano-driven beat, shows The Lonely Forest at their best—strong instruments combined with subtle harmonies to create a memorable track. The band continues their signature up-beat, poppy sound throughout the album with songs like “Left-Hand Man, as well as title track “Adding Up The Wasted Hours.” These both feature catchy choruses and consistent guitar riffs that are consistent with the overall uplifting sound of the album. A darker, more melancholy sound is unexpectedly brought to the table in the middle of the album with “Neon Never Changes,” an understated but beautifully orchestrated song. While the latter half of the song is primarily synthesized beats with echoing vocals layered over the top, Van Deusen still manages to make an emotional appeal with lyrics such as “I’ve considered slowing down my heart/A form of dreaming while awake/It’s my chest floor on floor.” Amongst a sea of more standard indie-rock songs, “Neon Never Changes” helps to elevate the album to a new level. “Neon Never Changes” contrasts with later track on the album “Soundings In Fathoms,” a slow-moving melody with stripped down versus. Yet again, Van Deusen showcases his passionate writing-style, compiling a string of striking metaphors and personifications such as “You are a book/with torn out pages”, “You are an avalanche/swiftly descending” and “You are a body of water/ so deep I dare not dive.” Closing out the album is the eight and a half minute long “Stars Like Dust,” a striking guitar-driven melody that shows a more haunting side to Van Deusen’s vocals. His falsetto is highlighted over the course of the song, leading to a stadium-worthy chorus. The track closes out with a sprawling echoing chant, with Van Deusen crooning “Oh what a beautiful way to waste our time,” over heavy electric guitar and drums perfectly closing out the eleven track album and giving way to it’s title. With so many poppy and upbeat songs, upon first listen the album may seem muddled and repetitive. However with a closer listen to transitions and lyrics, the album gives The Lonely Forest another step up in the rung of Pacific Northwest indie rockers. With tracks such as “Stars Like Dust,” this album demonstrates the band’s ability to produce memorable choruses and shows off Van Deusen’s wide vocal range. As the winter doldrums fall upon us, Adding Up The Wasted Hours , with it’s upbeat melodies and Van Deusen’s light vocals, provides an uplifting soundtrack to listen to during hours of studying and facing snowstorms in between classes. Must Listens: -Lovric’s -Neon Never Changes -Soundings in Fathoms -Stars Like Dust -Annie Skertic Reach Annie at: firstname.lastname@example.org