Tomorrow’s the day the new Vampire Weekend album, titled Modern Vampires of the City drops. We’ll have it on vinyl and CD and you can get your vampire-loving hands on it in the morning. In the meantime, here’s a teaser, the official video for “Step,” the first single off the album.
by Mari Stauffer
What could be better than Beach Fossils playing literally across the street from my work? Local rockers the Groggs opening for them!! Each talented member of the Groggs came together for a great opening set. Giving garage rock a refreshing new spin of charisma and inter-dimensional musical drive, the Groggs maintain a consistent if not ever-improving sound that is always guaranteed to rock you!! And rock they did, paving the way for the headliners.
After that splendid musical journey through the hyperspace of garage rock, it was time to get dreamy with Beach Fossils. Upon listening to their music for the first time, it may seem that someone has unearthed a long-lost new wave/post-punk band from the 1980s.
Singer/multi-intstrumentalist Dustin Payseur is entertaining live, cracking jokes between songs with a straight face and dry humor and all the musicians in the band mesh well together. The band’s lo-fi style has all the memorable elements of dream pop and new wave of the ’80s. From prominent bass lines played in a higher-than-typical range (think New Order/Joy Division) to jangly guitar licks (a la the Cure, the Ocean Blue), they deliver the new wavey goods. Nonetheless, the band also manages to give the genre their own sound, with poetic and thoughtful lyrics.
Definitely worth checking out live if you’re a fan of this style of head-bopping new wave, and if you miss their live show, check out their brand new album Clash the Truth, available at Streetlight Records right now!
by Mat Weir
A month ago–or was it two? This rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle tends to addle the brain—I was busily working at the back counter, always a good and faithful servant to the retail world, when I was approached by a customer and his wife. They said the man was playing that night at the Blue Lagoon next door and wanted to see if Streetlight was interested in buying some records. Always a collector first and foremost, I eagerly agreed to see what they had. And oh, dear Streetlight shoppers, did I come up on a score for you.
Turns out, said gentleman was none other than the one and only HeWhoCannotBeNamed from the legendary punk band, The Dwarves. Yes, the masked man who has been rocking your ear holes with such sophisticated classics as “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” “Who’s Fucking Who,” and “Fuck You Up And Get High” was in the store, selling his two solo albums. Not bad for a guy who, according to an official Dwarves press release, was stabbed to death in 1993. Needless to say, your humble narrator and devil in disguise had to buy something. So! Exclusively for Streetlight Records Santa Cruz, I present:
Sunday School Massacre – Originally recorded in 2010, this 2011 second pressing edition is hand numbered, on yellow vinyl and limited to 200 discs. And just in case that’s not enough to get your nerd senses tingling, did I mention it’s normally a German-only release? The album features guest spots from current and ex-Dwarves members such as Blag Dhalia and Nick Oliveri (who later went on to be in some band called Queens of The Stone Age or something).
Humanterrorist – HeWhoCannotBeNamed’s second solo album packs just as much hell-raising, illegal fun as his first. Chalk full of drinking anthems (“Getting’ Pissed”), cannibalism (“I Eat Babies”) and even love songs (“Die Die Die”), this is a must have for any fan of the Dwarves or obscenity.
We only have two of each of these albums and once they’re gone, they ain’t comin’ back! So come on down to ye ol’ record shoppe and buy some trash that’s worth it!
Do you love forward-thinking electronic music as much as we do? Then you must purchase Night Slugs All Stars Volume 2. The artists on this label/comp blend the sounds of future garage, house, 2-step and the burgeoning 808-worship scene into a deliciously-groovy melting pot of beats.
Girl Unit – “Double Take Part II” (The most beautiful trap tune this side of the Mississippi)
by Mari Stauffer
If you are old enough to remember MTV in the ’80s (back when it actually had all music-related programming and played actual music videos), then surely the video for A-ha’s “Take On Me” will ring a bell.
This well-known and unique video was actually the second one made for the band’s hit single. The first was shot in 1984 and features the band performing an entirely different recording of the song in front of a blue background. The second one is the now-famous, half-animated love story that still makes many “Top-ten videos of the ’80s” lists around the world. It was directed by Steve Barron, known for his direction on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video, the Coneheads movie, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
The eye-catching pencil-sketch animation/live action combination technique used in the video is called rotoscoping. For the video, roughly 3,000 frames of live-action footage were meticulously traced over to produce the end results. The process took 16 weeks.
There is something timeless about a rougher, more raw technique like this, compared to the slick CGI of today’s “videos.” Not to mention, a story narrative, which was something that was much more prevalent in 1980s music videos, seems to have been abandoned nowadays for a more straightforward depiction of the artist(s).
Cheers to A-ha and their comic-book themed, rotoscoped, little love story video!
When you hear O.M.D.’s classic hit “Enola Gay,” the words “pop masterpiece” may come to mind. Or, as Ned Raggett of AllMusic stated about the track, “astounding…a flat-out pop classic – clever, heartfelt, thrilling, and confident, not to mention catchy and arranged brilliantly.” Either way, the real inspiration behind the song was more thoughtful and dark than you may imagine while cutting a rug to it on the dancefloor.
The song was written by frontman Andy McCluskey and is about the detonation of the atomic bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima, Japan by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress named “Enola Gay.” In McCluskey’s own words, the song was “not a celebration” of the event. He says he hopes that it presents “an ambivalence about whether it was the right or the wrong thing to do.”
This falls right in line with the kind of intelligent and thoughtful pop music that O.M.D creates. There are always songs that are more superficial, fun, and abstract, but the band has always provided musical material that goes deeper and makes you think, even while you might be getting down at the same time. This is a major appeal that caught my attention years ago, and as they approach yet another new album, they continue to keep me intrigued and interested!”
I’m hardly going out on a limb when I say that Sam Cooke is one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. The funny thing is though, his LPs that are greatest hits collections never match the brilliance of his oeuvre, with the exceptions being his live album from the Harlem Square Club and this album. Night Beat features Sam’s iconically souful voice, singing mostly downtempo, bluesy material backed by a stripped-down ensemble featuring Rene Hall, Cliff White, Barney Kessell, Hal Blaine and Billy Preston. Highly recommended!
by Cat Johnson
Well, David Bowie has managed to surprise us yet again. The shape-shifting rock star whose collection of album covers brings to mind the morphing segment of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video recently announced that he had secretly recorded a new album, titled The Next Day, his first in 10 years.
There was much discussion among fans and critics regarding the secrecy surrounding it: why he did it and how he did it, as well as the decision to make the album cover look like a quick paste-over of Heroes. But Bowie is no slack and I’m sure the motivations and intentions, or at least more theories, will come to light as we get closer to the album’s release in mid-March. In the meantime, here’s the first single, titled “Where Are We Now?”
by David Morales
Past the gentle reverbial haze we see 24 year old Jacco Gardner. The Dutch dandy released his first solo single, “Clear the Air” in February of last year and every swirly and his hip mother were wetting themselves. Jacco uses all the essential baroque pop instruments: harpsichord, strings, flutes, and acoustic guitar to create beautifully melancholic music. And as with all the best baroque pop, the recording and production is just as, if not more, important than the music. To combine so many sound textures and make them sound so fluid, beautiful and effortless is what separates Jacco from the rest. Even if you go back in time to 1966 and use Brian Wilson’s studio and his equipment, it won’t give you the knowledge needed to create beautiful pop music such as this:
The people at Chicago’s superb label, Trouble In Mind, heard this and were blown away. The following September they released Jacco’s second single, “Where Will You Go,” another instant classic, proving that he is not a one hit wonder. Swirling acoustic guitar, jazzy drums, and mellotron strings slowly fade in and politely dance between your ears. Reverberated keyboard play wafts in the middle, and Jacco’s innocent vocals fit in nicely. He knows what he wants and that is exactly why Jacco mostly works alone from his home studio, playing all instruments heard (minus the drums). If you ask me, this song is better than the first single. It’s another modern baroque pop masterpiece.
Next month, Trouble in Mind will release Jacco’s first full-length album Cabinet of Curiosities and Jacco will continue to tour Europe, including this year’s Le Beat Bespoke Weekender in London. In March Jacco will tour the US for the first time ever. Sadly, there are no tour dates in California, the home of baroque pop.
US Tour dates
March 1 – Wesleyan University – Middletown, CT
March 2 – Death By Audio – Brooklyn, NY
March 3 – Middle East – Boston, MA
March 6 – Golden West – Baltimore, MD
March 7 – The Pinhook – Durham, NC
March 8 – Savannah Stopover Festival – Savannah, GA
March 10 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
March 12 – March 17 – SXSW
March 18 – The Bishop – Bloomington, IN
March 19 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
March 20 – Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland, OH
March 21 – Garden Bowl – Detroit, MI
March 23 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
by John Pomeroy
This album is so cohesive it almost seems like it could be one giant piece on its own. Songstress Jana Hunter weaves each song together almost seamlessly as the record meanders along with subtle turns and expansive song structures. Hunter’s haunting vocals and twangy, reverb-soaked guitars float over steady, metered and somewhat robotic drums. This dark and moody release could easily become a new favorite.