Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Three bands, each worth a quick mention.

Brooklyn group Butter the Children have released one of three tracks from their True Crime EP, to be released August 20 on Downtown Records. The group is dark, and may appeal to fans of Is/Is or Wax Idols, but this single appears to have some sort of a foundation in pop, and demonstrates a band that may serve as a follow-up to a more accessible group, like the Soviettes.


Minneapolis-based stoner rock band Huge Rat Attacks have just released Organic Babies, their third record. The sludgy album will appeal to Melvins fans, but it's got influences in general late '80s/early '90s grunge and would just as easily fit into the neverending chain of noisy psych bands that came out of Los Angeles six or seven years ago. The album feels somewhat lazy and anti-climactic, but is an accessible starter record for anyone looking to transition gradually to metal.


The lack of volume provided to Amber Quintero's vocals on "I'm to Blame," from Los Angeles-based Boardwalk, may be an indication that Quintero can do little more than carry a tune. The song's production is odd, guitar up high and vocals turned low, everything else accordingly where it ought to be. But then, this unconventional production is what allows the song to be labeled dreampop and actually create a hypnotic state, using that guitar as an unexpected focal point. Their debut record will be released on Stones Throw on October 15.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The return of Kim Lenz and the Jaguars!

Follow Me will be released on August 20th, 2013 via Riley Records.

And there's a tour!

07/29 Indianapolis, IN @ Birdy's
07/30 Louisville, KY @ Third Street Dive
07/31 Lombard, IL @ Brauer House
08/01 Rochester, MN @ Thursdays on First
08/03 Winnipeg, MB @ River City Rumble
08/05 Grand Rapids, MI @ Tip Top
08/06 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
08/07 Auburn, MI @ Callahan's
08/09 Rochester, NY @ Abilene
08/10 New York, NY @ Joe's Pub
08/12 Vienna, VA @ Jammin' Java
08/13 Raleigh, NC @ Pour House Music Hall
08/14 Atlanta, GA @ Smith's Olde Bar
08/16 Dallas, TX @ Double Wide
08/17 Austin, TX @ Continental Club
08/22 Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
08/23 Bellflower, CA @ Spike's Bar
08/24 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar

Friday, July 12, 2013

Speedy Ortiz are too young.

At this point, I think it's a bit necessary to clarify something about the 1990s. There's a noticeable '90s revival right now -- naturally so, seeing as something was doomed to follow the '80s trend that wouldn't die, which occurred over a span of, say, eight years. At present there are a number of bands bringing back grunge and sludge and alt rock, the broad soundtrack to Urban Outfitters' revisitation of floral dresses and rompers, god, those fucking awful rompers. Pissed Jeans did a fantastic impression of the Jesus Lizard; Polvo, Refused, and Eve 6 reunited (yes, really), 'zines made a comeback, and Speedy Ortiz is perhaps the first band to successfully draw realistic comparisons to Helium.

The strange thing about this '90s revival is that it's largely being embraced by 20-somethings -- anyone older will remember how terrible they looked in 1992, and then that the decade was capped off with Limp Bizkit and Vertical Horizon dominating mainstream radio. But the 20-somethings, born in the '80s, or even the early '90s, are pushing forward a false nostalgia, and now that it's cool to mimic '90s music trends, we're coming out and saying how much we love all the bands that inspired the currently influenced versions, and pretending we've been fans of Dinosaur Jr. or Polvo or the Jesus Lizard all this time. Obviously, this is bullshit. I was nine years old in 1993, and while I watched an unthinkable amount of MTV at the time, the truth is that I spent my afternoons hoping that Duff would finally get around to showing that Gin Blossoms video I'd been waiting four hours to see.

We love the '90s because we remember that Ren and Stimpy was the best cartoon around, perhaps of all time, and because Huffy had a super sweet Street Rocker bike, and because we were children and generally a bit oblivious to how ugly our clothes were. So today, when we talk about bands that sound nostalgic, and we cite their influences as though we've been listening to said influences for twenty years, it's generally a lie, and the truth is that most of us under thirty have really only become fluent in internet research.

All this in mind, I'm one of many reviewers whose first impression of Speedy Ortiz involved comparisons to Polvo, Helium, even Veruca Salt -- and no, these shouldn't be dismissed, because a comparison is really just a simple way to summarize a sound so that potential fans can be swayed in either direction when there's not much time to dedicate to sifting through music. But what hadn't sunken in until this week's release of their first full-length, Major Arcana, is that I don't love the band's music because they remind me of favorites from years past; I love their music because they bring out the same feelings of excitement and angst and empathy that I feel every time I discover the original thing, even if twenty years late, as an adult.

The Sports EP touched on the humiliation of high school basketball, and the distance between Sadie Dupuis' narrator and the person who had once filled a gap in her life -- Dupuis' lyrics are born out of insecurity, and she puts out a certain amount of vulnerability for us to do what we will with it. This vulnerability is consistent with both her education in poetry and the '90s appeal of Speedy Ortiz. Weren't the '90s about being a loser? The cartoons, the movies, the songs -- everyone had the opportunity to be a self-perceived misfit, and then capitalize on it. But her lyrics are genuine, and they've been carried from a genuine place. And while Major Arcana is quite possibly the loudest and ballsiest of the band's releases to date, "No Below" is perhaps its highest point because you get the sense that the narrator of the aforementioned "Curling" has made a return, and that Dupuis is not quite through recalling "this one friend."

Just buy the record. Major Arcana is available here.

Speedy Ortiz is also featured on a tribute compilation of the early recordings of Lilys. Acquire the whole damn thing here.

Naturally, they're also touring:

07/12 – Kalamazoo, MI @ Milhouse
07/13 - Chicago, IL @ Coach House
07/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cause Bar
07/15 – St. Louis, MO @ Melt
07/16 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
07/17 – Omaha, NE @ The West Wing
07/18 – Denver, CO @ UMS Festival
07/19 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Salt Haus
07/20 – Boise, ID @ The Red Room
07/21 – Portland, OR @ Habesha
07/22 – Olympia, WA @ Hot Tub House
07/23 – Seattle, WA @ The Comet
07/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
07/26 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Bar
07/27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pehrspace
07/28 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
07/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Last Exit Live
07/31 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
08/01 – Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza
08/02 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk
08/04 – New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar
08/05 – Birmingham, AL @ The Forge
08/06 – Atlanta, GA @ 529
08/07 – Athens, GA @ Farm 255
08/08 – Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone
08/09 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
08/10 ­– Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
08/11 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
08/12 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
08/13 – Philadelphia, PA @ Golden Tea House