March 21, 2012
Today's Hotness: Young Prisms, Violens, Speedy Ortiz
>> Shoegaze purists rejoice! While waiting for the next Ringo Deathstarr platter to come along and provoke the tinnitus, might we suggest checking out another group of revivalists who have done their homework: San Francisco's Young Prisms. The quintet's second full-length, In Between, is due March 27 on the venerable Kanine Records, and the album's wide-eyed take on the genre evokes memories of a certain strata of superlative, bygone American pedal pushers (Ultra Cindy, Drop Nineteens, Astrobrite). While Young Prisms breaks no new ground either compositionally or sonically here, In Between's understated boy/girl vocals, churning guitar chords, and dazed, reverberant snare drum marches will delight enthusiasts of the genre (present company included). Throughout the mostly mid-tempo set, Young Prisms cultivates some great melodies, including that of lead single "Four Hours (Away)," the vocal of which notably taps a Mazzy Star-like lilt while the instrumentation strikes a light, Motown-flavored contrapposto. The real winner of the collection, however, is "Better Days," a wonderful tribute to "Sarah Sitting" by the mighty, beloved Boston group The Swirlies that touts a shifting melody and queasy guitar lead. In the way that Interpol took the vibe of The Chameleons and sexed it up for a new generation, Young Prisms aims to inspire a rising legion of 'gazers with seldom-heard references that have always deserved more attention. Pre-order In Between from Kanine right here, and check out the marvelous live set recorded at Shea Stadium last October via the embed below -- Edward Charlton
>> In a wonderful surprise last week, Slumberland Records posted to its Soundcloud page a new track from New York-based chord merchants Violens (an act which, incidentally, has remixed Young Prisms' "Floating In Blue"). The song, "Der Microarc," is from the act's upcoming album True, slated for release May 15th. Violens isa five-year-old progressive pop band that combines elements of '80s alternative rock sounds with early electro and broad vocal harmonies. Utilizing these tools, the band concocts a rare form of psychedelia via compositional weirdness, rather than relying on effects. Beautiful, odd chords and melodic turns can leave the listener disoriented even as they are dancing along. It's a rare musical feat that speaks of a musical intelligence and playfulness that the indie world can always use more of. "Der Microarc" is a quickly paced jam that displays a clarity that was missing on Amoral, the group's crowded yet superb 2010 debut. The song follows an effective four chord strum; a kraut groove filtered through the prickly surrealism of Daydream Nation. Better yet, the band seem to be tapping into the vibes of Mahogany's smashing Connectivity! album and its internationalist cosmo-pop. The signing of Violens could signal a welcome shift in the recent Slumberland roster, which lately has seemed to focus primarily on somewhat predictable presentations of the C86/ Black Tambourine legacy, as opposed to the label's more experimental past, including ground breaking releases from bands like Hood, Lorelei, Stereolab and Whorl. This thought alone is enough to make the anticipation for True unbearable. -- Edward Charlton
>> We don't know the age of Sarah Dupuis and the rest of Western Mass.-based Speedy Ortiz, but we imagine that they wish they were born 20 years ago. Because there's little doubt that Speedy Ortiz's recent single "Taylor Swift" would be garnering scads of major market FM radio play on the fledgling alternative rock-formatted stations that were springing up back then. And on the strength of the single Speedy Ortiz would probably be aboard a commercial flight to Los Angeles right now (well, right now 1992) to record a full-length for one of those major-backed, faux indie labels we had back then. But, of course, it is not the bizarro world of the early '90s we're currently living in. That, however, does not weaken the impact of "Taylor Swift," a crunchy, feedback-spangled, grunge-pop gem with a ridiculously catchy, swaggering chorus. The single, backed with the even-heavier but still delicious and angular "Swim Fan," was recorded by Paul Q. Kolderie at Mad Oak Studios and mixed by Justin Pizzoferrato, whose name you know from his work with Dinosaur Jr. and Young Adults, among many others. And, if a post on the band's Facebook page is to be believed, apparently naming their single "Taylor Swift" is a trademark violation, so the song title may be changing. Speedy Ortiz are slated to play the Pipeline! radio show on MIT's WMBR on April 24, and the band has a short series of tour dates in the Northeastern United States in late March that are posted to its Bandcamp page right here. It appears the band is currently recording a five-track EP at the Sex Dungeon in Philadelphia titled Sports, which we are now very eager to hear. Check out "Taylor Swift" and "Swim Fan" via the embed below.