Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: The Drums - The Drums (* * * 1/2)

In the past, any noteworthy Beach Boys emulators seemed to hail from Southern California or somewhere similarly beach-oriented, but with the re-popularization of the surf/pop/rock genre, it’s anybody’s guess as to where new bands of that sort come from these days. Initially, with last year’s Summertime! EP, New York City’s own the Drums seemed a prime example of a young band whose sun-and-surf-obsessed songs put them at odds with their locale, especially on their most notable tune, the '60s-style pop anthem “Let’s Go Surfing.” But with the release of their self-titled full-length debut, the group incorporates a greater range of their other sonic and lyrical influences into the mix, revealing themselves to be a more complex and interesting band than we (or I, at least) might have given them credit for initially. Blending their love of sun-soaked hooks with a darker, '80s indebted vibe à la Joy Division, the boys craft a fine first effort that—while containing a few misfires—manages to build upon the promise of their early releases. (Read the rest @ In Review Online)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Best Coast - Crazy for You (* *)

For young writers and aspiring musicians, some of the most frequently heard advice has got to be “write what you know.” This is obvious counsel, to be sure, but true in many respects, especially in the realm of pop music where people generally respect honesty in songwriting. We like artists who share their stories with us and reveal the more intimate details of their lives, allowing us to connect with them through their experiences. But sometimes, even when a musician is eager to get personal, we find there simply isn’t much about them that we care to hear. Such is the case with the latest lo-fi, beach-pop phenomenon Best Coast, fronted by puzzlingly popular newcomer Bethany Cosentino and featuring former Vivian Girl Ali Koehler along with Bethany’s former babysitter (seriously), mutli-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. Adrift somewhere between SBhe & Him-style balladry, polka-dotted 50s girl groups, and fuzzy, Vivian Girls-esque pop-punk, Best Coast makes music that is hazy and sun-soaked, and it’s not difficult to hear the appeal in Cosentino’s casually strong voice. But on the band’s debut, Crazy for You, Cosentino’s inane songwriting fails to engage on any level and her vacuous insights into love and loneliness reveal no depth whatsoever to her personality. (Read the rest @ In Review Online)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You Should Know: The Silver Seas

It would be easy to mistake the Silver Seas as having arrived via time machine from 35 years ago rather than forming this past decade. Though the band has only been releasing music since 2004, they seem to have more in common with the likes of Steely Dan, Jackson Browne or any number of 70s pop-rock icons than with their current peers. The Nashville group navigates the pop music of their chosen decade much like The Clientele do the 60s, seeking not to combine classic influences with modern trends, but rather emulating the past right down to the instrumental flourishes and production details. Yet somehow, though the Silver seas remain firmly entrenched in a slice of musical history, their music comes across as much more than a simple copy of their obvious influences. Their third album, Chateau Revenge, is a lovely classic pop record featuring smooth grooves, fantastic melodies, and fine songwriting that makes this a must-listen in any decade.

The record covers territory from gorgeous lite-rock balladry ("Jane") to disco-tinged night music ("The Best Things in Life"), only occasionally showing signs of its more modern origin. With not even one misstep among the 12 tracks, Chateau Revenge is an album you really can't afford to let pass you by.

Key Tracks: "Another Bad Night's Sleep," "Jane," "What's the Drawback"

Download: Another Bad Night's Sleep (Zipped MP3)