They have songs that hit. They have songs that miss. But when they hit, they’re homeruns. Solar Temple Suicides crush a space rock journey unlike no other on “How the Sphere, Having in Vain Tried Words, Resorted to Deeds”; its melancholic guitar lick reminds me of something that The Cure wrote one sad rainy day only to have Explosions in the Sky jiggle the handle a bit and I could listen to it all day (they make it easy given that it’s over 8 minutes in length). You can hear influences from groups as diverse as My Bloody Valentine, the two aforementioned bands, and Spacemen 3. “Quite Like Sin” is another great guitar-driven tune that journeys between the druggy haze of acid rock and shoegaze.
Posts in category modern rock
“Noisemaker” opens the album as a promising alternative rock up-tempo jive. Two Hours Traffic however is an Americana/folk-rock band so be sure not to be misled by their occasional power-pop jams. But that’s not a derogatory statement as they actually write catchy songs in both veins. Their power-pop rock songs are uptempo knee stompers with fun-filled catchiness and high amounts of energy. “Territory” has plenty of the music you’ve come to expect from the Canadian quartet too. Songs like “Jezebel”, “Sing a Little Hymn”, and “Lost Boys” are more on the roots rock and Americana tip. What is steady throughout is an uncanny ability to write driving and catchy tunes wrapped in a blanket of warm vocal harmonies.
DC-based trio Death by Sexy got their name when Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal fame was playing a pinball machine at the Black Cat in D.C. and suggested the moniker to the group who was struggling with the first perennial question all bands have to suffer through. “Curse the Curse” is brand name rock-n-roll that doesn’t sweat the small stuff and could care less if the devil is in the details. Instead the group flaunts their grungy hard rock sound that reminds one of pre-“Nevermind” Nirvana. Big drums, big guitars, and big bass licks that smack each cheek (face or ass? You guess). The vocals aren’t trying to punish you with rock yelps but instead focuses on being as melodic as the Ramones. Fun high energy focused rock-n-roll in the local area that has a lot of humor and doesn’t take anything too seriously and to be honest shouldn’t be taken very seriously either.
“In the Moment” is an alternative pop-rock album with some pop-punk and emo backdrops. When I heard that this was a band that played on the same stage as My Chemical Romance, the Jonas Brothers, Jesse McCartney, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, I had no real idea what to expect. So what we got was awfully cheesy MTV-oriented pop fodder that while well-written and performed is just laughably clichéd. Flawed as Alamance is, given that they have a 19-year old singer/songwriter they’ll probably make tons of money and have adoring fans. Puke.
Not many bands are this adventuresome. Venice Is Sinking recorded the entire album live with a sound engineer, a couple of microphones and some analog recording machines. No dubbing or post-production re-recording. The sessions were recorded over four days in May of 2008 at the now-defunct Georgia Theatre. As we’ve come to expect from this stellar band from Athens, “Sand & Lines” is a whirlwind of masterful songwriting and melody expertise. Truly a unique experience, I can only imagine how chaotic and pressuring it was but there’s no sense of urgency heard whatsoever. Instead it’s a relaxed jaunt through alt-country, indie rock, and orchestral pop. Experimental groups that like to tinker with not only their songwriting but also the sound and recording experience are a rare treat. “Pebble Hill” is perhaps the best song on the album with the beautiful vocals and string arrangement though other tunes like “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want to Get Over You)” and “Bound By Violets” are also worthy contenders. They got a lot of mentions throughout last year’s SXSW and paraded into 2011 with a lot of triumph behind them and a great future ahead.
Sugar-sweet vocals that mix female and male vocalists with surprising alacrity and stout harmonies, “The Hate Album” is one of the more tender albums you may hear out of the Denver scene. Kissing Party writes songs that remind one of Mates of State in a way though done with less sophistication, which is not a bad thing just a commentary on how stripped down and simple they make their brand of pop songs. Indie pop has become a very big thing in the latter part of this young millennium and groups like Kissing Party are taking the genre to new and disparate places. You can hear influences from ‘80s and early ‘90s groups like the Cure and Smiths among others. Percussion is tight and straight-forward without too much pizzazz. Guitars and synths are used to construct the main elements of the songwriting as the vocals add a dimension that is smart and directional. Very well done and highly recommended.
Austin, Texas alternative four-piece Household Names return with their third record, “Stories, No Names” writing well-built songs in terms of structure. Honing their craft into a shimmering melodic dance of alternative rock, pop, and atmospheric rock you can hear how far Household Names has come since their debut – they sound much more like Blur and less like a take from latter career Oasis. Gotta love the beat-driven signature that they seem to employ in every song now – it gives the album a fitting pop feel that would work well on a long drive, jog, or simply sitting back with a pair of headphones on.
This self-titled EP by Phoenix-based Snake! Snake! Snakes! made it to #46 on the CMJ charts. Produced by Bob Hoag (The Format, Joel Plaskett, Dear and the Headlights), the album sparkles with light melodies awash in lush atmospheres, strong vocals, and domineering choruses. “City on Fire” opens the album with a fantastic building chorus armed with huge anthems and vocals stirred with punctuating percussion and moody instrumentation. Precise melodies and dramatic arrangements make it easy for people to mumble words like Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, and Interpol but don’t get caught up in the comparisons because nothing about this dynamic group is stereotypical or expected. Danceable rhythms douse you with knee bouncing mania. The vocals are special as are each fabulously arranged song. This is the future of the college pop music scene.
I’ve been reviewing and watching the career of Suzy Callahan for several years now. And I gotta admit, she just keeps getting better and better. “Big, Helpless Sleep” starts off with a folksy banjo line on “Don’t Even Be Nice” and then comes in Suzy’s signature swooning vocals. Poignant and thoughtful lyrics are sprinkled throughout the album. Just when you have a favorite song, you find yourself in love with another and then another and so on. Many musicians struggle to find their voice, often creating forgettable tunes or after they have written a gem struggle to follow it up with an equally great song. Not so with Suzy Callahan; her brand of indie pop-rock is mature, smart and most of all damn likable. Isn’t it time for her to stop being dubbed “under the radar” and be acknowledged as the pop genius she is?
Songwriter Ryan Groff has a keen ear for what’s coming up in the attention deficit plagued world of indie pop music. “Yes Yes Yes” is magnetic with a stick-to-your-ribs infectiousness that boasts tremendous range and creativity. Each song is a different passionate approach to moody music. Whether it’s a power pop anthem, an epic dreamscape, a Radiohead-esque passionate account, a beautiful piano ballad, or a raw singer/songwriter theme, Elsinore seems to just “get it” more than most indie bands.