Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heard These Guys Yet? - June 09

Per our usual every two month tradition, I've polled our expert music fans looking for the bands that have recently turned them on. We had to take some time off this spring, bringing this to you a bit late, but the gang is back with some new recommendations for you. Check 'em out!

Recommender: Biz
Band: The Life and Times
Blurb: The old axiom is that writing about music is like tap-dancing about architecture. So, this is my tap-dance about the Life and Times, a great band that I have enjoyed live on a multiple occasions and they were always fun to see. Unfortunately, I haven't come up with eloquent words to describe their music. I feel like describing them as a mix of, I dunno... "old school emo" and "shoegazer" but still pretty rockin' all around, also very polished and precise in their playing. All this seems like the usual words which still don't really do them justice. The Life and Times is very much a proper rock band that rocks in the way you want to see a band rock, with a big loud sound and awesome drumming. There is something ambitious to their sound, like they should be as "big" as Radiohead, even if thus far they're not. Maybe they're good in a way that just isn't interesting to write about. I like their first album from 2005 the best, Suburban Hymns, but their latest freshly-released album, Tragic Boogie, offers may tasty things for the ears, and it's growing on me. Their albums are meticulously well-crafted, almost too perfect sounding at some moments, so you might need to experience them live to appreciate how good they are, in real life... and in real times, of course. I had the pleasure of playing in the opening band when they played at the Note a couple years ago (not to mention the pleasure of playing at the Note before it closed). The Life and Times is Allen Epley's band, formerly of Shiner, and I tend to think of them as a local band to Chicago, but they are actually more local to the Midwest. On New Year's day this year I saw them play at the Double Door and open for Hum, a band that is sonically similar, and yet still quite different. Anyway, I suggest you stop reading and give them a listen yourself.
Reminds me of: Hum, but not really
File Under: That reverb your mad-libs are lacking
But don't take my word for it: The Life and Times at Myspace

Recommender: PMaz
Band: The Little Ones
Blurb:Actually, I am hoping everyone HAS heard of The Little Ones because they are quickly moving up as one of my favorite bands. The ironic thing is I have had their first EP from 2006 for quite some time and never gave it much of a listen. But when I was listening to a Paste Magazine CD Sampler one afternoon last year and hit the song "Morning Tide", I thought, "Don't I already have something by these guys?" I immediately wanted to hear more and was very pleased with the entire album (also called "Morning Tide"). Since then, my wife has ALMOST wore me out on the new album and fortunately I found another EP prior to this album to occupy my time. Reviews I have read for them compare them to many twee bands like Belle & Sebastian, and I will say that the music starts and stays happy pretty much throughout - no angst here, move on. But I am not a big fan of twee and I personally feel that The Little Ones have more guitars and solid bass throughout. How else would they get invited to open for bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and Nada Surf? By the way, while the lead singer (Ed Reyers) and his brother are fairly short in stature, the band is named after Ed's two pugs.
Reminds me of: The Shins, The Beach Boys, and OK....Belle & Sebastian
File Under: Pug Pretty
But don't take my word for it: The Little Ones at Myspace

Recommender: Jonas
Band: Prefuse 73
Blurb: Finally, a review of a band that isn’t from Brooklyn !... well at least that’s how I WAS going to start the review. However, in researching for this review I found out that the great electronica sounds of Prefuse 73 are indeed from Brooklyn . For whatever reason I assumed Prefuse 73 was from Europe since it’s on the English label Warp, home to other electronic outfits such as Boards of Canada, Flying Lotus and Squarepusher. As one might assume with company like that, Prefuse 73 is in the same vein with decidedly downtempo rhythms, samples galore, and layer upon layer of sounds. Like so many other electronica bands, Prefuse 73 is one person, Guillermo Scott Herren. However his collaborators have run the gamut from underground hip-hop stars like El-P, Aesop Rock and Ghostface Killah to Blond Redhead and TV on the Radio. His music is very heavy on samples (ala Girl Talk), but he is very conscious of creating quality music to go along with it (unlike Girl Talk). He started in 2001 with ‘Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives’ and had a bit more of an underground hip-hop edge to it, and although that influence is still there, he’s really evolved into more of a downtempo ambient sound with his 2009 release ‘Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian’. The beats stay trippy and never really become “danceable”, which is an excellent thing in my book. Every album has an extremely high replay value due to the music’s composition combined with all the other elements he’s placed in the background. However I would explore Prefuse 73 in this order, start with ‘One Word Extinguisher’ from 2003, then 2007’s ‘Preparations’ and then the recently released ‘Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian’ mentioned above.
Reminds me of: The Soundscapes of A Cloud Mireya mixed with the sampling of Girl Talk and the beats of El-P.
File Under: Multi-layered for your enjoyment
But don't take my word for it: Prefuse 73 at Myspace

Recommender: Reed
Band: Harlem Shakes
Blurb: I must admit that I am somewhat cheating this month. I am writing about a band I've written about here before. But their first full-length album was recently released, and I liked them so much before that I can't help but sing their praises once again. I caught Harlem Shakes at The Abbey Pub when they opened for Tapes N Tapes. On paper, they're not the kind of band I would like. Their guitars don't fuzz very much, and lead singer Lexy Benaim has a somewhat thin, almost tinny voice. But the band has a bouncy energy that is inherently compelling. They really play as a unit, with subtle vocal harmonies and a clear connection on stage. While their new album, Technicolor Health, is receiving some reviews complaining that it is too laid back and dreamy, it still has plenty of their brand of pep. I don't expect it to burst them on to the national scene, but this is a band with a ton of potential, especially when playing live. The odds of them paying Argentina a visit are not very high, but I hope I can catch them in person again sometime soon.
Reminds me of: Koufax with a pulse and a wink
File Under: Rally round the campfire
But don't take my word for it: Harlem Shakes at Myspace

1 comment:

Kozy said...

... and why was I not asked as a "recomender" ???