Sub Pop Records

Vetiver’s albums are difficult to review and Errant Charm is no exception. In fact, I’m going to blame bandleader Andy Cabic for this latest writing slump I’ve found myself in. Vetiver isn’t about a hit single, although “Everyday” off of their previous release, Strictly Game, was a standout. No, Vetiver is more about creating a cohesive collected work that works from start to finish.

Errant Charm feels like a breezy day. You know that feeling when you try to nap on the beach? You can hear the ocean, the seagulls, the distant sounds of others enjoying the same summer day. You find contentment in the world behind your closed eyelids, still illuminated by bright sunlight. Your decision making is simplified to a) Do I roll over? b) Do I cool off with a quick submersion in the waves rolling in? c) Do I order a frozen drink at the tiki bar? That’s how Vetiver makes me feel.

The album is mostly slow moving, but picks up with a trifecta of lazy California rock tunes in “Right Away,” “Wonder Why,” and “Ride Ride Ride.” Errant Charm has been powering my back deck barbeques over the past few weeks. If you’re in need of a soothing summertime album, it’ll be released on June 14th via Sub Pop Records.

Vetiver – Can’t You Tell

From Tight Knit:

Vetiver – Everyday

Vetiver – Strictly Game

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The name J Mascis may not immediately ring a bell with you, but if you were watching MTV in the 90’s, you’ll remember a Spike Jonze-directed music video with Mascis using New York City as his golf course. Remember Dinosaur Jr.’s song “Feel The Pain?” Ah, yes. The 90’s truly are the new 80’s.

J actually founded Dinosaur Jr. in the mid-80’s as its singer, songwriter and guitarist. His vocals are unmistakable and his guitar prowess earned him a signature fender guitar – The J Mascis Jazzmaster. Considering his longevity in Dinosaur Jr. and his many projects thereafter (including J Mascis and The Fog and J Mascis and Friends), it’s surprising that it took this long to get a true solo album released. But Several Shades Of Why was certainly worth the wait.

The album starts with the warm, acoustic track “Listen To Me” that sets the tone for the rest of the album.  Several Shades Of Why is a mature and sentimental acoustic album where the guitar strings and song lyrics step out into the forefront. The album’s title track follows “Listen To Me” and it’s an easy favorite for me. It begins with a beautiful guitar arrangement that opens up with another layer of acoustic guitar, violin and the first lines from J:

There’s no peace, little comfort, no one’s shoulder
Not a wrinklings of a time that made you colder
I’m not saying much I tried hard that’s all I do
Tried and waited then got tired, that’s about it
With my time
With my time

“Not Enough,”  “Nervous In Love” and “Is It Done” are next in line and punctuate an amazing first half of a brilliant record. To be honest, I can’t say much more about this album because I’ve been stuck on these first five songs, but I know it’s incredible. I’ve always like J’s raspy voice, which is an obvious prerequisite, but there’s enough songwriting juice in here to keep me busy listening for weeks.

Mascis will be back in the States for west coast tour dates at the end of this month.

J Mascis – Is It Done

J Mascis – Not Enough

Video: J Mascis – Not Enough (Live at SxSW 2011)

Video: J. Mascis – Not Enough (Official Video)

 

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The Head and The Heart were one of the brightest spots at SxSW 2011. I wasn’t fully sold on them until seeing them perform at Antone’s where they won over the capacity crowd with an energetic set. Their debut album, which we compared to a blend of Blind Pilot and The Avett Brothers, has been in steady rotation since my return from Austin. Seeing The Head and The Heart in person will definitely give you a greater appreciation for the album.

You can also download my favorite single on the album, “Down In The Valley,” below.

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How do you define the indie cred of a band? Does it have something to do with their Pitchfork rating? The tightness of their skinny jeans? The size of the smoke plume that rises from the audience when they hit their first chords?

I’ve been to countless concerts at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and Monster Island Basement. I’ve volunteered at Brooklyn Grange and can often be found drinking a Sportsman Special at the Levee. I don’t own a pair of skinny jeans, but I’ve got numerous flannels. You’d think all of this would put me more in touch with what it means to have indie cred, but in reality I have no fucking clue and to be honest, I couldn’t give a damn.

But alas, I think I’ve stumbled on something; apathy. Or, to be more specific, the appearance of apathy. The appearance of apathy has been a crucial component of coolness since time immemorial. For some reason, people dig people who are effortlessly good at things.

This is a long way of getting around to the effervescent Beach House concert I saw this past week at Webster Hall. Beach House is Victoria LeGrande and Alex Scally, hailing from Baltimore, MD. But really, they no longer need introduction. The critical and commercial success of their 2010 album Teen Dreams has deservedly launched them into the realm of dream pop stardom.

Beach House is apathetic grandness at its best. They rank high on the indie cred scale. Their dreamy supersonic loops and atmospheric vocals are fantastic and they nailed it on Wednesday night. Highlights of the evening included Norway, Zebra and their closer, 10 Mile Stereo.  The light show was equally impressive, as can be glimpsed in the video below.

Another awesome dream pop band, Papercuts, opened up for them and I sadly arrived right as they were finishing up their set. I had a good excuse though – I was grabbing a burger and watching Carmelo Anthony’s debut as a member of the New York Knicks. Now, there’s a guy with some serious indie cred.

Beach House – Zebra

Beach House – Norway

Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo

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SubPop’s Papercuts Releases Free MP3, New Video

February 1, 2011

SubPop has just released a couple MP3’s from Papercuts upcoming album, Fading Parade, due to release on March 1st. We wrote about Papercuts previously, and described Jason Quever as indie music’s version of Kevin Bacon (which was a compliment). You can download the first single, “Do What You Will,” below. And check out the video […]

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Obits, You Gotta Lose [new mp3]

January 17, 2011

Obits released a great debut album called I Blame You via Sub Pop Records back in 2009 and their song “Two Headed Coin” was one of my most played tracks of that year. The band is now poised to unleash their second album entitled Moody, Standard and Poor on March 29th and it promises to […]

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The Head and the Heart Prepare for Liftoff [Album Review]

January 8, 2011

I first caught wind of The Head and The Heart on KEXP last summer. I made a mental note to buy the album, but promptly forgot about it and moved on with my life, seemingly happy without The Head and the Heart in my life. Alas, they appeared on NPR’s site recently and I decided […]

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Beach House’s Teen Dream, The Best Album I Never Thought I’d Like.

November 18, 2010

Beach House is my second installment of great albums I initially overlooked in 2010. For some reason I automatically lumped them into the same category as bands like Animal Collective and assumed that I wasn’t cool enough. Beach House is either more accessible or I’ve finally discovered my inner-hipster. I gave up baths long ago […]

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Wolf Parade’s Expo 86 reminds me of Judd Nelson’s nostrils [Album Review]

August 26, 2010

An affinity for 80s music may be a prerequisite to becoming a Wolf Parade fan. As I listened to Expo 86 for the first few times, visions of 80s movies started (literally) dancing in my head.  Midway through the albums fourth track, “Little Golden Age,” my visions became crystal clear. I could almost smell the […]

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Wolf Parade preps next album, releases two new songs [new mp3’s]

May 7, 2010

Wolf Parade are set to release their third album entitled Expo 86 on June 29th. After taking a one year hiatus, the band started writing songs for the album in November with a “bang it out” mentality. By late February, they were already mixing. As usual, the band is generous with free downloads, offering two […]

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