July 6, 2010
It’s summertime. Let’s sing about it!
The Beach Boys | “Don’t Go Near The Water” (from Surf’s Up)
No American band has said more about the importance of catching waves and spending time at the beach than the oft-underrated/overrated/underrated again Beach Boys. In 1971, the Boys kicked off their Surf’s Up album by imploring folks to stay out of the water because of – you guessed it! – all that gross pollution. “Toothpaste and soap will make our oceans a bubble bath,” Al Jardine and Mike Love lament over an upbeat whiteboy funk groove typical of this era of the Boys’ work. Sure, they sound as naïve as they did just a few years before extolling the virtues of a surfin’ safari, but the song is damn catchy. And it’s maybe more than a little appropriate for the folks on the Gulf Coast right about now.
The Morningsides | “Summer Song” (Single)
A kind of New York supergroup, featuring members of the retro-rock band The Wowz and singer-songwriter Chris Maher, The Morningsides only have one single from 2004 to their credit, but it’s a keeper. The A-side, “Summer Song,” features the soap opera-like antics of a star-crossed couple in the verses while the chorus pays tribute to summer radio anthems, the kind that have choruses as catchy as the one featured here. The band’s sound has the same ‘60s garage rock crunch you find on a lot of Wowz songs, but the vibe is notably looser and noisier, bringing to mind Pavement. Maher’s slightly strained vocals similarly recall Stephen Malkmus but not in a way that seems slavishly copied.
June 25, 2010
ART OF SONG
RCA | 2003
It’s summertime, and the bars on the Lower East Side have seemed more crowded than ever, drenched in the uniquely cloying smell of sweat and desperation…something you don’t seem to notice as much in the winter. People want to get laid in the summer, I can respect that. As I’ve attended party after party in these dark booze-filled basements where successful people asked me what I’m doing and I responded with three bleak words: “looking for jobs,” I could feel myself sinking farther and farther away from what I wanted. And that left me searching for music to comfort me, which inevitably brought me to 2003.
I always feel like stellastarr* doesn’t quite get the respect they deserve, as the Brooklyn-based band (who, interestingly enough, played their first show at a Lower East Side venue) has faded into the patchwork of other post-punk indie bands of the era. ”Jenny” was the first single off their debut, self-titled album. And, while I suppose I always sort of sympathized with the titular character, this summer it’s really hitting me, the way good songs should. This is a fairly standard, if catchy, alt-rock song. There are stripped down instrumentals, a pretty awesome female backing track, and a danceable beat. However, what’s important here are the lyrics – this is a song about a person. I can imagine Jenny; a quiet, sad looking girl, sitting in the corner, maybe whispering along with the music from the sound system…desperately wishing for another drink, a cigarette, or someone to meaningfully connect with…something to break the monotony. ”Jenny was sitting in the lounge / She was talking to herself / Well maybe things like that turn you on / Maybe you felt that for yourself / Well I’m a believer!” Lead singer Shawn Christensen is key here, his emotional voice, complete with tears and breaks, is necessary for you to believe that HE believes.
April 27, 2010
2010 | True Panther
Remember last summer? The muggy haze of humidity that crept over New York City in mid-July coupled with the onslaught of lazy, sticky tunes from Washed Out and Neon Indian? It was like three months of lying on the floor—because the fabric on the couch was too hot—in just a pair of shorts, with a pack of frozen food or a can of beer resting on your forehead, unable to move because, you know, that would just make things worse. A chill-wave summer. Or something like that. But amidst all this was Delorean’s Ayrton Senna EP—four tracks of sun-drenched, electro-dance pop that felt like someone had just dunked your head into a bucket of ice water. Now, one year later, with temperatures climbing, the Spanish four-piece is back with their second full-length, Subiza, a fine record that highlights Delorean’s knack for crafting wonderfully simple yet layered melodies that dance, swell, and fall almost effortlessly.
April 22, 2010
2010 | Captured Tracks
The May 25th release date for Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils‘ debut LP is more than apt. The record sounds like summer, so why not send it public on Memorial Day Weekend?
It’s a short record, and each track blends into the next. It’s difficult to distinguish them from each other. If there has to be a standout track on this record — and I’m hard pressed to find one, as the whole album sounds fairly cohesive — it’s likely “Youth,” where the vocal melody echoes beautifully, coasting along the surface of ringing, reverb-soaked guitars. The lyrics, unsurprisingly, are relatively ambivalent, “I don’t know just what I feel / But I feel it all tonight.”