Weekend Watch: Reviews from the Week of 11/4By Music Staff | 6/11/15 3:00pm
Decorations – Girls EP (French Kiss Records)
By Krystal Chong
Liberating post-breakup songs everywhere
If this is what breakups do to music, then count me in! A result of mainman Devon Geyers’ nasty breakup, Decorations’ Girls EP takes all of the sadness out of post-breakups and replaces them with brightly colored synths and sunny melodies. The EP’s main track “Girls” bites at today’s hookup culture and is not afraid to be sarcastic, sharp, and snappy about it. Its main line ‘fuck those girls’ brings home the essence of the song’s liberating nature. A short and sweet EP, Decorations’ music is reminiscent of the early period Strokes and Passion Pit mashed together.
I’m in love with its take on pop music because it’s not afraid to be straightforward and blunt. If you really needed to pinpoint one song off the small EP, take a stab at “Girls” because it’s everything I ever wanted from a song about the feels after a breakup minus the sadness. My mental landscape of the album is the image of it riding through the wave of stereotypical breakup rock ballads on a gallant unicorn of self-empowerment and vivid synths.
- Krystal Chong
RIYL: Tokyo Police Club, The Strokes, Passion Pit
Recommended: #1, #2, #3
Seinabo Sey- Pretend (Virgin Records)
By Calkie Fisseha
Had to have come straight from heaven in a sparkly white envelope in the arms of an angel
There really isn’t one word to describe Seinabo Sey’s style. The best way to explain it Motown funk, electronic, pop, soul, R&B all balanced perfectly. Her voice is distinct- I haven’t heard anyone have such a strong, yet delicate way of hitting every note. Everything about this album is original, and I am DIGGIN it.
Pretend has a track for every single mood one can go through. Although I can’t pick a favorite one, “Poetic”, the second track on the LP, is a brilliant showcase of Sey’s talents. Her silky voice and powerful lyrics make this song smooooooth like butter. The versatility and balance of genres in this song alone gets you acquainted with her style.
The fifth track, “Easy”, is another hard hitting song that deserves attention. It’s an empowering message backed by a choir-like hum, yet Sey still finds a way to modernize it with some EDM influences. She also manages to modernize a simple tune on the sixth track, “Words”. There is a beautiful balance between Congo drums and hard beat drops.
Seinabo Sey is a powerhouse. Some of her music on Spotify has millions of plays, nearly 78 million from Kygo’s remix of “Younger” alone, soI am very disappointed with myself for not knowing about her earlier. This girl can SING. I kid you not, I cannot find a single flaw in this album. I am officially a huge Seinabo Sey fan. If she comes to DC, you will definitely see me in the crowd.
RIYL: Emeli Sande, Andra Day, Tove Lo, Hozier
Recommended Tracks: 1,5,6,11
Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars (Carpark)
By Max Gowan
Tight Songwriting and Atmospheric Bliss
If you’re not already familiar with the powerhouse Baltimore duo Beach House, I highly urge you to check out any of the incredible dream pop classics they have put out over the past decade. 2015 seems to be their most prolific year by far though, with two stellar releases: August’s Depression Cherry, and now this new record Thank Your Lucky Stars in October. This two-album surprise caught everyone off guard in the best way possible, leaving new and old fans with plenty of new Beach House material to fawn over as 2015 comes to a close. Although I loved the sugary-sweet pop songs that they churned out on Depression Cherry, I can’t help but think that the slightly darker flavor of Thank Your Lucky Stars makes it an even better addition to their catalogue.
“Majorette” kicks off the album in standard Beach House fashion: a sense of dazed euphoria, mixed in with a creeping feeling of triumph. Lush synthesizers thicken around shimmering guitars and hypnotic drums, all while Victoria Legrand’s infectious vocals cut through the wall of sound. It’s the formula that has worked time and time again for Beach House, but on every album they find a way to make it sound fresh. The songs that really differentiate this record from Depression Cherry come in the form of the distant and brooding “She’s So Lovely”, the strangely baroque “Common Girl”, and the cinematic epic “Elegy to the Void”. If anything, this album is proof that Beach House can expand their sound without abandoning the principles that make their music so powerful.
RIYL: Real Estate, My Bloody Valentine, Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala
Sun Club – The Dongo Durango (ATO)
By Matt Reise
Sunny lo-fi alternative pop
The Dongo Durango is another crazy dream-come-true which the members of Sun Club are trying to wrap their heads around. Having originally formed 10 years ago, the trio consisting of two brothers and their neighbor did sporatic party gigs covering bands like The White Stripes and the Beach Boys. Eventually the group took on two more members and became Sun Club, a lo-fi experimental pop quintet. Touring extensively with bands like Alvvays and Fidlar for the past few years and performing their wildly successful EP Dad Claps at the Mom Prom, the group is rapidly accumulating a cult following. The Dongo Durango is the group’s first full-length album produced by a recognized record label, and Sun Club couldn’t be more stoked about it.
A vibrant sparkle is present in all of the record’s songs. Sun Club’s sound evokes a lot of feelings and memories—the lo-fi hum adds a twinkle of nostalgia, the garage-esque feel adds a pinch of youthfulness. Sounding both intimate but universal at the same time, the best way I can describe their sound would be a fusion between the whimsy of Animal Collective’s early albums along with the overall air of bands like Deerhunter. Organic guitar rifs and strategically-meager editing make their music feel warm. It feels happy—like an exciting carnival memory from your childhood. Speaking of carnivals, a lot of transitions between songs are kind of creepy, containing dissonant noise and unnerving sound clips. This ties into the album’s cover art, which depicts a merry-go-round filled with eerie ceramic carnival sculptures.
But the creepiness of the album is minimal. “Summer Feet” and “Puppy Gumgum” are extraordinarily sunny, exuding an off-kilter surf vibe. “Language Juice” showcases the group’s unique writing style, as the group experiments with various time signatures and key changes. Finally, “Tropicollar Lease” is a humid-yet-vibrant finish to an outrageously original and successful debut album.
RIYL: Feels-era Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Girls
Recommended: 2, 3, 4, 11
The Moonlandingz- Expanded EP (Chimera)
By Jenny Bernardi
The Music Alien Stoners Probably Listen to. Probably.
Nothing makes me happier than having a band’s name perfectly exemplify how their music sounds. The name “The Moonlandingz” makes me ecstatic, of course: all the songs on Expanded EP are completely out-of-this-world. All of the synths sound like they come straight out of a sci-fi movie from the 70’s, and are arranged in such an unfamiliar way that it’s really hard to believe this music originated on Earth. Something that I really love about this EP is the numerous purely synth-based interludes, such as “Dawson’s Vinegar Nape” and “Blow Football With J. Carpenter.” All of the bleeps and bloops, repeating over and over in such a cyclical way gives one the feeling of floating out into the vast expanse of nothingness that is outer space. The songs with vocals are great too; Saul Adamczewski’s voice has this crazed tone in it that I just love. If you’ve ever grown tired of terrestrial life, give The Moonlandingz a try.
RIYL: Tame Impala, Washed Out
Recommended: 4, 5, 9
Cashavelly Morrison - The Kingdom Belongs to a Child (Clearmont)
By Madeleine Simon
If you’re looking for a classic, slightly gothic, folk album, check out The Kingdom Belongs to a Child by Cashavelly Morrison. This album is rooted in bluegrass and southern folk, but is twisted with a gritty, Americana sound. With songs like “Iodine” and “Emory,” Cashavelly Morrison showcases its darker approach to authentic folk.
The album is kicked off with “Long-Haired Mare,” a slightly more upbeat song compared to other tracks, and progresses to a more solemn and emotional sound. The Kingdom Belongs to a Child hooks you in with its thoughtful lyrics and hypnotizing instruments, and keeps you invested as the album moves through deep anecdotes woven into each song. You can’t just listen to one song on this album because each one perfectly compliments the other and creates a strong, full album. The Kingdom Belongs to a Child hits the dark, twisted folk nail on the head, and will keep you captivated from start to finish.
RIYL: First Aid Kit, Haim, Laura Gibson
Recommended Tracks: #1, #2, #4, #7
Boogarins – Manual (Other Music)
By Jack Marsden
A psychedelic beach vacation dream-sequence
There is no denying Boogarins’ affinity for psychedelic festival rock. That being said, I was too quick to label their newest album Manual as yet another attempt to recreate Tame Impala’s mainstream success formula. New bands have popped up since Lonerism bent on regurgitating the sound of revitalized psych-pop now that the market has been discovered. Each act tries to be innovative and fresh in the psych scene, yet fail to recognize the inevitability of repetition when confined to a pop genre that has been around since The Beatles and Pink Floyd. But, after a few more listens, I realized I was wrong. Boogarins is not just another band trying to copy a trend. Their newest album Manual is a refreshing contribution to the psych-pop genre.
The album is essentially split into two movements. Tracks 1 through 5 fit the fun and heavy psychedelic rock mold – proving that they can hold their own in the psych community. Then following a pause after “Mario de Andrade – Selvagem,” the mood evolves into a deeper, dreamier state. Sonically, the vocals are graceful and polished - echoing and romantic, but speak of inequality and the anguish of the poor in Brazil. The depth of the lyrical content appropriately matches their sound in tracks 6 through 11. The melodies are layered and combined with harmonies. It feels as if a heat wave slowly hit the music and resulted in a lazy, melancholy sound. As a whole, Manual is a solid work as it evolves from song to song and shows careful thought. Boogarins successfully brings depth to a genre that traditionally lacks it and therefore breaks the Tame Impala generated mold.
Save this one for summer – it’s definitely my new favorite for lounging on the beach!
RIYL: Tame Impala, Allah-Las, La Luz
Recommended: 4, 6, 9
Jake McMullen – Always (Never Better)
By Madeleine Simon
The perfect balance of vocals, lyrics and instrumentals
Always by Jake McMullen is everything an indie-folk EP should be: a beautiful combination of moving lyrics, strong vocals and complimentary instrumentals. Seriously, this is a solid EP. Let’s start with the lyrics. McMullen does a wonderful job balancing anecdotes and emotions, leaving just enough room for the listener to apply his or her own meaning and feelings to the words. The lyrics don’t feels forced or cliché, and they perfectly blend with McMullen’s unique voice and soft instrumentals.
So now let’s talk about McMullen’s voice, because I was not expecting it to sound like that. McMullen has a classic indie voice with a twist that adds a lot of interest to his songs. McMullen’s voice is deep and a bit yodely (is that a word?), but not in an annoying way. Just like his lyrics, McMullen’s voice only adds to his music.
And lastly, it’s time to discuss the instrumentals in this EP. They really work. They are not overpowering or trite. Just like everything else in Always, it compliments all the other elements at play in this EP. The instrumentals fill in what the lyrics and vocals can’t portray, but don’t overpower either one. Seriously give this EP a listen; you won’t regret it.
Recommended tracks: all of them!
RIYL: Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, Ryan Adams
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl)
By Max Gowan
Unrestrained, Powerful Rock Songs
Having the word “beach” in your band name seems to be commonplace these days, but Beach Slang manages to distinguish themselves from the twinkle crowd within the first two seconds of this record. The opening track “Throwaways” crashes in with beefy guitars and gritty, semi-shouted vocals, and lyrics ranting about cops and escaping from a boring hometown. It’s nothing new, but at the same time it bursts through with youthful energy that is hard for lots of bands to get right, and it sets the stage for the rest of the album. Every song that follows comes from the same angsty, earnest place that makes them all almost feel like guilty pleasures. With lyrics that include lines like “good love is not safe” and “turn it up to eleven”, I’m sure some will dismiss this record for its banality.
But I must admit, some of these tunes reminded me of the way I felt when I first heard Japandroids: unabashed, reckless, energized, and everything in-between. So with this sentiment in mind, I stopped counting how many times the singer used the phrase “feel alive” and started focusing on what makes this music so immediate and powerful. It’s completely, intentionally un self-aware, and every song is a heartfelt ballad, even if its buried under layers of guitar and distortion. “Noisy Heaven” kicks off with the line “The night is alive/it’s loud and I’m drunk”. No matter where you are, this lyric will feel true for a while when you put on this Beach Slang record.
RIYL: Japandroids, Superchunk, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Fairchild – Breathless
By Matt Reise
Semi-psychedelic 80s pop
Australian six-piece group Fairchild released Breathless, an EP, as an appetizer to their new album coming in early 2016. Though it only contains three original songs, the EP showcases the group’s ability to create diverse sounds while still keeping everything relatively cohesive regarding musical attitude.
Here is a dissection of each individual track. Something about “Nom de Guerre” plucks a retro chord within me. Be it the driving beat, the simplistic instrumental interludes, or the repetitive sound, something feels warmly familiar about the brand new pop track. Very 80s in sound, “Breathless” makes me think of classic films like 16 Candles or The Breakfast Club—all of which are an exploration of youth hinging around coming-of-age themes. There’s an unspoken but undeniable sense of intimacy and subtle sexuality to the track. Bandmates attribute this vibe to the fact that “Breathless” was first performed in its entirety during the recording process. The vulnerability of the track makes it feel real—makes it feel almost human. “Hot Rod” is much more raucous in nature, featuring heavy guitars and a fair amount of feedback and distortion. The song lives up to its name, because “Hot Rod” is definitely the most badass song on the EP.
Breathless EP contains two remixes, one of which is just a radio edit of “Nom de Guerre”. The other is a dance/electro remix of “Breathless” with a humorous vocal intro. Unfortunately the song isn’t really worth a listen past the funny voice commenting about “shortness of breath” being scary. “Breathless” is Breathless’s shining diamond (what a coincidence), and deserves a listen from all self-proclaimed 80s movie buffs.
RIYL: A Flock of Seagulls, Cut Copy, Modern English