Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Tunes Tuesday - June 29, 2010

I'm reclaiming a little history by setting aside a day to compile some new tunes that've caught my ear or, at the very least, feel you should check out.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring

Aussies (the) Eddy Current Suppression Ring are finishing off a run through the States this week, supporting their third disc Rush To Relax, which they recorded in a brisk six hours.  I'll admit that while I've heard of them, I haven't actually heard their music until now and that's my loss.  "Anxiety" will whet your appetite for a set of punk-flavored rock & roll that I've been bitching about has been sorely missing among the latest wave of freak folk and chillwave lording over the scene.

[MP3] Eddy Current Suppression Ring - "Anxiety"

So far, Best Coast has timed everything pretty well.  Bethany Cosentino & Co. rode a tasty wave into SXSW and have kept that cool buzz goin' right through the upcoming release of Crazy For You, the band's full-length debut, due on July 27th.  With a surfer-like West Coast vibe, listen to the disc's first track "Boyfriend" and see if you agree that it stacks up well alongside previous single "When I'm With You".


[MP3] [MP3] Best Coast - "When I'm With You" (via Music Mule)


New York's Violens return with their debut full-length, Amoral, which drops in October. They'll be opening for MGMT on a handful of dates in early August, and have offered up upcoming single "Acid Reign" as a free download. Head to RCRD LBL to get yours. It'll also be pressed as a 7" in the coming weeks with an exclusive b-side that features Washed Out.


The early UK reviews of the debut by Perfume Genius have been uniformly excellent.  The Genius is Seattle's Mike Hadreas, and Learning is a minimalist, haunting work that conjures Antony Hegerty, Zach Condon, Jonsi, and Rufus Wainwright.  At 10 tracks over 28 minutes, Hadreas wastes no time making his mark.  Expect this to be a well-reviewed album in most quarters.  While the disc has some truly pretty moments, try the slightly jaunty "Mr. Peterson" as a first sip before taking a bigger drink.

[MP3] Perfume Genius - "Mr. Petersen" (via Pitchfork)

This Many Boyfriends

I was dumbstruck at finding the reissue of The Pastels debut CD in the used bin recently. This was made more ironic, coming right on the heels of discovering the Leeds outfit This Many Boyfriends and their chirpy "I Don't Like You ('Cos You Don't Like The Pastels)", a glorious slice of C86 here in 2010.  Their 7-song debut EP Getting A Life With is available for download now, but if you pre-order the physical CD (released on July 5th), it comes with an immediate download code, a fanzine and a badge/sticker set, all via their web site.  That, my friends, is twee!  Their Myspace page indicates they've already had several lineup changes within the last year, so let's hope this isn't a one-and-done proposition.

[MP3] This Many Boyfriends - "I Don't Like You ('Cos You Don't Like The Pastels)"

I caught Chicago's Disappears during last Fall's Next Big Nashville Festival.  Liked 'em a lot.  Reminded me of The Ponys.  A lot.  I then discovered that Disappears was fronted by Brian Case, guitarist for...The Ponys.  Good to know the ol' ears are still working.  One of the few rock bands on the Kranky label (the most notable being Deerhunter), the band dropped Lux back in April although I believe it's been ready to go for a while.  


The Ponys

This, then, might explain, the close proximity to the release of the first Ponys material in three years, the 5-song Deathbed Plus 4 EP (digital & vinyl only).  Both bands have a dark, Velvets-inspired sound, which hits my sweet spot head-on.  While its great to have something new from The Ponys - I loved their first disc immensely - I can't help but feel that Disappears may be the more interesting band going forward.

[MP3] Disappears - "Gone Completely"
[MP3] The Ponys - "Check The Door"

The Black Angels

And if we're talking dark and Velvety, it's a perfect segue to the new tune from The Black Angels.  "Bad Vibrations" is the first salvo from the band's Phosphene Dream, due September 14th from the newly reactivated Blue Horizons label. Here they are performing the song in NYC, captured by Big Ass Lens.

Lastly, as much as I might be tempted to let my other interests spill over to The Big Beat, we'll do our level best to keep the focus firmly on music.  So, if you're dying to know my every thought about the World Cup, etc., feel free to follow @thebigbeatblog on Twitter.    As I've been soaking up as much of the Futbol Olympiad as possible, it was pretty easy to let the NBA Finals pass me by, especially with hoops being my least favorite major sport.   As a result, I missed Nike inviting Andre 3000 to soundtrack an advert featuring Kobe Bryant that aired during during the series.  Mr. Benjamin tackled The Beatles, going deep into the Fab Four's catalogue for a stab at Yellow Submarine's "All Together Now".

Andre 3000

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Working For A Nuclear Free City - New Album


You never have to look very hard to find an act whose rave reviews start an avalanche of momentum.  But, for every Sleigh Bells, Surfer Blood, and Neon Indian, there’s Gonjasufi, Pantha du Prince, and others.   While good, or even great, reviews may earn additional notices or look sees from casual observers, they alone often won’t push the band towards breakout status.  Much of that simply comes down to timing: touring or the lack thereof, release date, label affiliation, the crowded marketplace or, no matter how well reviewed, is still a bit too on the fringe musically.  And truth be told, these are the records and bands that you make the extra effort to champion.   The ones that aren’t getting the love and attention you feel they deserve.  My yearly best-of list tends to be filled with ‘em. 

So, it’s with great anticipation that Working For A Nuclear Free City has announced the release of their second full-length, Jojo Burger Tempest. Coming after a long period of silence, news is coming fast and furious about what they describe as another “20 odd track” 2-CD set, much like their Businessmen & Ghosts debut.

A (self?) interview has been posted on the band’s Facebook page, revealing the extent of the recording process (18 months), influences (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, Autechre), and details of the 30 minute (!!) title track.  Despite saying that Jojo was recorded with a complete disregard for being played live, they’ve asked for help and suggestions about organizing a US tour, also via their Facebook page. 

Although Amazon UK lists a September release date, the band state it should be out digitally “within the month” in both the US and UK via Melodic Records.   In the meantime, here’s WFANFC in session with yours truly during SXSW 2008.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cults - "Go Outside" (Brainbheats remix)

Allow me to be the latest to rave about Cults, the boy/girl duo from Brooklyn by way of San Diego.  Their buzz started to circulate about the time WOXY was shutting down in March and, in fact, they went from being blogged about to signed within a 30 day period.  Yep, we're late but we wanted to give 'em their due.

The much-blogged, totally legit "Go Outside" is a perfect 3:21 of a 60's girl group gone chillwaveblisspop that should soundtrack anyone's poolside activities this summer.  While Cults haven't seen the need to create a Myspace page, they have offered up the song, along with two others, as a free download through their page over at Bandcamp.  Now comes the inevitable remix from Brainbheats, the handle of Louisville's Brian Healey, which pushes the bliss further out into orbit.

<a href="http://cults.bandcamp.com/album/cults-7">Go Outside by Cults</a>

[MP3] Cults - Go Outside (Brainbheats rmx) (via Pasta Primavera)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Las Robertas

It's been just shy of three months since WOXY signed off and it seems that, as always, there's been a flood of new bands hitting the blogosphere's radar.  In fact, in the blink-and-you-miss-it scene that indie's become, some seem to have already come and gone in that time.  No matter, The Big Beat's about promoting good music no matter when it's necessarily new-to-you. 

Gorilla vs. Bear and Hipster Runoff were among the first to get behind Las Robertas, who are likely the first band you've ever heard from Costa Rica. They're arriving on the heels of Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls, both of whom have added a fuzzy, 60's surf vibe to a C86 template. (Note: I'm a big fan of most things C86 related). The ladies have offered up a free stream of their debut EP Cry Out Loud through Bandcamp.


<a href="http://lasrobertas.bandcamp.com/album/cry-out-loud">Street Feelings by Las Robertas</a>

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Retro Resurgence - The Vaselines Return, Bettie Serveert US Tour


I’ll admit to arriving late to The Vaselines, the post-C86 band that emerged from Scotland in the late 80’s and broke up after releasing a few EP’s and one full-length of influential indie pop. And you probably heard that Kurt Cobain was such a fan that he would name his one and only daughter after the band’s Frances McKee. OK then, fast-forward to 2008 when McKee reunites with singer Eugene Kelly for a handful of shows that eventually moves Sub Pop to issue the very slick Enter The Vaselines last year. This led to select US tour dates, and there was much rejoicing. (Enter The Vaselines compiles and remasters nearly the band’s entire recorded output, along with a few demos and live recordings. Damn near essential.)

The pair now take the reunion to the next logical level, with a brand new album called Sex With An X due September 18th, also on Sub Pop. UK tour dates have been announced and again, much rejoicing. Sample the first offering from the disc “I Hate The 80’s” by heading to their website, or refresh your memories with perhaps their best known song, “Son Of A Gun”.


Sept 15 Edinburgh (Bongo Room)
Sept 16 Newcastle (Other Room)
Sept 17 Leeds (Brudenell Social Club)
Sept 18 Liverpool (Static Gallery)
Sept 19 Cardiff (Millennium Music Hall)
Sept 20 Nottingham (Rescue Rooms)
Sept 21 Bristol (Thekla)
Sept 22 London (The Scala)
Sept 23 Manchester (Deaf Institute)
Sept 24 Glasgow (Oran Mor)

[MP3] The Vaselines - "Son Of A Gun"

My heart skipped a beat yesterday upon receiving a tweet announcing some upcoming US dates from another longtime fave, Bettie Serveert. Unlike The Vaselines, the Betties have quietly soldiered on uninterrupted, releasing new records on a series of smaller indies after their first three discs arrived via Matador in the 90’s. Their latest, Pharmacy of Love, came out in March and they’ll be hitting the States for a full month’s worth of shows.


BETTIE SERVEERT 2010 North American Dates

Sep 23 Cambridge, MA (T.T. the Bear's)
Sep 24 Hoboken, NJ (Maxwell's)
Sep 25 Brooklyn (Southpaw)
Sep 26 Milford, CT (Daniel Street)
Sep 28 Toronto (The Drake Hotel)
Sep 29 Cleveland (Grog Shop)
Sep 30 Detroit (Magic Bag)
Oct 1 Chicago (Abbey Pub)
Oct 2 Minneapolis (First Avenue & 7th Street Entry)
Oct 4 Denver (Larimer Lounge)
Oct 6 Spokane (Empyrean Coffee)
Oct 7 Seattle (Tractor Tavern)
Oct 8 Vancouver (Biltmore Cabaret)
Oct 10 Portland, OR (Dante's)
Oct 12 San Francisco (Cafe Du Nord)
Oct 16 Tucson (Plush)
Oct 17 Albuquerque (Launchpad)
Oct 19 Dallas (The Prophet Bar)
Oct 20 Austin (Stubb's)
Oct 22 St. Louis (Blueberry Hill)
Oct 23 Nashville (Exit / In)
Oct 24 Atlanta (The Earl)
Oct 25 Chapel Hill (Local 506)

“Deny All” is from the new record, while “Tom Boy” is one the 90’s most overlooked alt-indie anthems from their Palomine debut.

[MP3] Bettie Serveert - "Deny All"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WU LYF - Purveyors of Heavy Pop

It seems that some buzzworthy bands have decided that in terms of crafting their image, perhaps less face time is the way to go. When Sleigh Bells emerged within the last year, it was with barely more than an unreleased demo, and the most-frequently circulated promo shot showed the duo’s faces covered by scarves.

Following a similar blueprint, perhaps consciously or not, is Manchester’s WU LYF (or Wu Lyf, “woo-life”), standing for World United - Lucifer Youth Foundation. With only a limited numbered EP to their name, they seem to be promoting themselves as somewhat of a serious band, suggesting an agenda that consists of more than simply being upset at the threatened closure of 6 Music.

They’ve dubbed their music ‘Heavy Pop’ and that’s an apt description. A video for a song of the same name at their site reveals imagery that further suggests WU LYF aren’t angling for conventional pop stardom. The strained, tortured vocals of Ellery Roberts recall The Veils’ Finn Andrews, which in turn reminds me of The Waterboys’ Mike Scott, but WU LYF’s music is much darker than either. Just as someone like Yannis from Foals struck me as a serious kind of artiste, the first few songs here give me the same type of feeling. Not necessarily an easy listen but compelling and not quite like anything going at the moment.

Head to the band’s site to hear “Heavy Pop” but here are two of the band’s less foreboding songs that feature a better overall sense of melody.

[MP3] WU LYF "Nic Cave" (demo)
[MP3] WU LYF "Scissors For Your Hair" (demo)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How did I get here?

I used to tell people that I was constantly building my CD collection for the rest of my life when, truth be told, I never listened to 95% of it with any regularity. Sure, it provided comfort food to fall back on but for the most part, I preferred the hunt for who or what was next. Y'see for me, falling in love musically has always been more intoxicating than simply being in love. Still, since WOXY went down in March, I retreated to the oft-neglected collection for refresher courses in all things Kate Bush, along with servings of Kraftwerk, The Joy Formidable, The Cult and so on. Mostly though, I missed the steady stream of new releases delivered to the station on a daily basis, providing a fresh opportunity to fall in love again. Call it a perk of the biz but if you want to know why I loved my job so much, if that wasn't Exhibit A it's close behind. In short, gimme the new shit.

This is The Big Beat.

Part of the reason for launching the blog was to reconnect with all of the music that's out there. I'll seek out, listen, and if it's worth mentioning, I'll do so. Also, I'll flat out tell you what I think. One of the things that's bugged me about the indie blogosphere is that too many scribes seem to want to play nice: everyone seems to get a pass. Not surprisingly then, I've tended to gravitate towards blogs and writers who were more inclined to put strong opinions out there, or as Jim Rome puts it, "have a take and don't suck". If The Big Beat starts to read like a series of cut-and-paste press releases, you have my permission to take your business elsewhere. Better yet, tell me about it.

This is The Big Beat.

At WOXY, I was a big proponent of the DJ-as-champion of artists. If you find a band or a song you love, let your listeners know. Repeatedly. Someone like Mumford & Sons or The Answering Machine were two bands from last year that I felt strongly enough about to spin over and over again. Mumford - which I first played on WOXY in early 2009 - a full year before their US release, is now one of the unquestioned success stories of 2010. I hope to be able to replicate the same passion for new music on the blog as I was over the air.

This is The Big Beat.

One, however, cannot exist on new music alone, so we'll plan to augment the space with pertinent music news, discussion, recollections and features about bands and music from throughout the history of the Future of Rock & Roll. (I made copies of all of the 97 Best lists. That oughta be fun to dig into…). Feedback and interaction is hoped for and encouraged. I'll try to make this a place you'll bookmark and check into often.

It's from the Doors song.

This is The Big Beat.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Long live The Future of Rock & Roll

Timing is everything.

I’ve wanted to post some additional thoughts about the WOXY situation for a while. At the very least, to provide listeners an accounting of how things came to be, how events have transpired since our shutdown and perhaps, point a few fingers and name a few names because there’s plenty of blame to go around. Some diehards have gleaned information from other sources, if not contacted some of us directly, about what’s been going on. But, I’ve always walked to the ledge and turned back.

I think it's unfortunate that the station's loyal listeners haven’t been given the courtesy of any kind of ‘official’ status update and what, if any, future plans are in store for WOXY. For those of you who've maintained interest, you're owed a great deal of thanks even if that hasn’t been explicitly expressed. For that, cheers.

To be clear, I don’t speak for anyone else affiliated with WOXY past or present. I can accept the failure of WOXY as a business. Always have. But in the past 2+ months, I’ve been mad, frustrated and angry not so much at the failure of the radio station but rather, upon learning some the actions that’ve made the post-signoff lives of the staff more difficult than it should have been. There were some very simple practices that weren’t adhered to that can best be described as a failure of Business 101.

Whether I’m alone in believing this or not, I always wanted WOXY to operate as transparently as was realistically possible. So, earlier this week, I dropped a note saying that I’d have a WOXY update soon. For seemingly the third or fourth time in the past 6 weeks, I was ready to bring listeners the yet untold story. Again. Then, I think to everyone’s surprise, we received an e-mail from the principals at Future Sounds requesting to meet with the remaining-in-Austin staff this past Friday. So, I thought I should at least see this pow-wow through before going to press. Timing is everything.

In short, we had a cordial, professional chat with the guys. As was noted elsewhere, they've been working to make the situation right but held out no hope for an immediate resolution to WOXY’s operational status. In essence, the patient remains comatose. That the website remains is indicative of its life support. That there’s nothing to say speaks to the immediate plans and prospects. It’s totally on them.

For what it’s worth, it was kind of bittersweet to have the discussion turn to suggestions the staff had for ‘what if’ WOXY is resurrected. Between speaking from experience, recognizing lessons that could be learned and ideas that could be expanded upon, it was invigorating to detect not so much a desire to see the station live on, but the affinity for the ethic that WOXY stood for. To my mind, anyway, that was as much the attraction as the music itself.

But at the same time, the meeting provided probably as much closure as any of us will get about working for the Future of Rock & Roll. Future Sounds revealed that they have resumed the process of seeking a partner or buyer or something that would allow WOXY to resume operation. No one knows in what form that would be, including them.

How WOXY might be able to exist is the $64,000 question. Since September, the station employed 6 full-time staffers. Royalties exceeded $12,000 A MONTH with more listeners meaning more to pay. Some of the staff suggested turning WOXY into a listener-supported, non-profit. Surely, underwriters would see a tax write-off as a worthwhile incentive. (BTW, the number of listeners who came forward asking to donate money, post-signoff, was humbling) My opinion? Convincing a profit-minded businessperson to turn their investment into a non-profit is a hard sell.

I’ve skirted some of the b.s. the staff has had to deal with since we shut down because ultimately, it just isn’t productive. While I’d love to resume working in a similar situation or environment, I cannot in good conscience return to any entity helmed by Future Sounds.

And so, I’m on a full-time hunt for a full-time job. My previous experience includes working nearly 10 years for Toyota Financial Services, so I’m also looking in that field. Musically, I’ll still be in the mix. That you’ve found me here, it seemed a good transition to launch THE BIG BEAT. This’ll be my place, my outlet, which after all of these years, is all I really want: a place to do my thing. The blog will focus on music discovery, news, reviews, rants and raves. In due time, I’m hoping to get the apparatus together to put together a regular on-demand program of new music with actual DJ talk. Just like old times. I'm a beginning blogger so hopefully, for a while anyway, you'll be interested more in the content than the bells-and-whistles.

To be honest, I don’t know just how much light I shed on the WOXY situation. More than anything, though, I thought you should know more than what you’ve been told. As a listener, it’s what I’d want.

Thanks for reading this. Long live The Future of Rock & Roll.