Hamilton Leithauser could be addressing his bandmates in The Walkmen’s new single “Heaven” as he sings those lines. The track, which happens to be the title track of their soon to be released album, sees the band pushing forth into ten years in their career. With a record almost every two years, totaling to Heaven being their sixth, fans have seen the original Washington DC band developed not only their sound but how they literally grew up performing. Personally, I like the band’s rough-around-the-edges sound, the band sounding both celebratory and reckless that eventually get polished in You & Me. Not that the sophistication of that record and Lisbon hurt the direction the band was gearing for. However in “Heaven,” The Walkmen seem to have loosen up a bit albeit the structured, tighter drumming. With the theme of remembering “lamented tale of distant years” supported with images of children, juvenile idealism and the torture of seeing those frozen memories change are all tensed in this track. At the end, Leithauser pleads of not being left alone, sounding all throaty and desperate. In the stream provided by the band’s label Fat Possum, it says “Radio Edit” which could mean that with the story edited in its shy of four minutes length lie a longer document, a clearly told lamentation that would delight us when the record is finally out.
The track can be downloaded/ previewed via iTunes or an MP3 link here. By now, you must know how to do it via Soundcloud as well.
Becoming one of my favorite acts this year, Mombi please their fans once more with another offering off of their debut The Wounded Beat, an achievement of a record from the duo Kael Smith and Matt Herron. I have written about the band before but the pleasure of raving about them is always an opportunity. Needless to say, the record has been playing non-stop alongside another great discovery House of Wolves. They do not sound the same but they both achieve a certain kind of easy listening mood that appeals to people who like sincere and personal work like that of The Album Leaf, Elliot Smith, Conor Oberst and other lyrical artists.
This time, Mombi promote their latest single “Time Goes.” Working once more with “The Misunderstanding” director Manuel Aragon, the music video, however, is an animated take on the song. “Conceptually, the video is about the circular patterns in nature,” explains Herron of the clip. “Eventually, everything begins again and paper cutout animation helps convey this message of time passing slowly and quickly all at once.”
Adding to the that, “Time Goes” contains some parts of a poem written by Lynn Vanlandingham, Smith’s grandfather, in his 1972 book Alone, I Wait.
Mombi’s The Wounded Beat is still available in the band’s Bandcamp page with added perks worth having for their fans.
No introduction needed as to who Beach House are. We know who is Victoria Legrand with her equally important musical partner Alex Scally. Reigning throne bearer for dream pop circuit with the arrival of the important Teen Dream in 2010, Legrand and Scally defend the title with their latest Bloom. With a quarter of a million followers in Facebook, the mystery that looms over Legrand’s ethereal presence on stage and Scally’s shy-shoegazing appeal is a major key player in the band’s increasing popularity known to only few prior Teen Dream, and with Bloom the band is set for a wider audience.
Most of us, including this writer, has fallen in love with the fact how the first two records’ moodiness were shattered apart by the emotional honesty shown heard in Teen Dream. Not that the lyrics in that record were all out, the accessibility to the band’s music was heralded, much like gates opening to a showroom of vintage and potion. That openness grows further in Bloom, as heard in “Wild,” the second track after the earlier released “Myth” where Legrand opens with “My mother said to me that I would get in trouble/ our father won’t come home ’cause he is seeing double.” Comparing with how bleak yet emotionally attaching “Silver Soul” and “Zebra” are, the directness the band approach the songs in the latest record is a step up which occurs, too, in “Troublemaker” and “Other People” among others. It is clearly evident that Legrand took the time to hit the books and work on her narratives as compared to how Teen Dream‘s set was made in between tours.
Michael Levasseur owns a musical biography that started the day his folks presented him a new guitar when he proved himself worthy of one after playing a battered instrument, followed by numerous accounts that name-check famous alternative acts in the ’90s to the recent of working in a record store Everyday Music in Portland. In those years, ever since young, he has been fated with a career in music, as a struggling one-act, with his bands or as a record specialist. He has traveled extensively only to find himself restless town after town, looking for inspiration and maybe for good, settling back to his favorite town again. An anecdote to tell is when he saw a rising local player Elliot Smith while working as a dishwasher and starting his own band. In witnessing the late Smith, Levasseur felt the gape in his skills needed to be filled to speak clearly of his own visions.
Levasseur, making music under his moniker Michael The Blind, revels on his own experiences in creating luster in his songs. “I had discovered by then that misery and uncertainty treated my lyrics better than happiness and security did, so it’s quite possible that I left school to pull the rug out from under myself,” he says. After a couple of albums and playing solely as a folk act with his wife, Michael The Band expanded as a full band for his latest record Are’s & Els. With contributions from long time musician friends and the addition of Minna Choi and her Magik*Magik Orchestra (the same ensemble who also worked on a personal favorite How To Dress Well’s Just Once), Michael The Blind is set to release Are’s & Els this June 5th under Alder Street Records. The single, “Another Circle of Fifths,” is a re-worked track for the record with its guitar parts replaced by Choi’s string embellishments. The track is free for download at Michael the Blind’s Bandcamp page or right-click the link below.
Last year, The Cure performed their 1981 album Faith together with two other records for the four-hour Reflectionsconcert at the Sydney Opera House. Hailed as a historic performance, Robert Smith and Co. ran through three big sets consisting of Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds and then Faith. For the latter, the band picked up “The Holy Hour” as the 32nd track in the performance— the first from that record and being on the side one of the original tape release. The clamor for a reunion album with The Cure’s original key players Lol Tolhurst and Roger O’Donnell (as they played in Reflections) were loud but nothing materialized after the shows. Now and then, a The Cure tribute album (like NME’s Pictures of You, Just Like Heaven: A Tribute to the Cure and many others) surfaces to celebrate the music created by the band and nurtured thereafter by the fans. The need to remember the psychedelic melancholy and of course, much like in any other tributes, the nostalgia that Smith and his crew started in the suburbs of Crawley in ’76 visited the indie fence, this time initiated by the New York band Vacation.The Holy Hour, made up of ten The Cure standouts, were curated by Vacation’s Wayne Memmer and Rachel Asher with some help from nine other bands that are wildly talented on their own. Memmer took some time to answer some questions about the compilation and plans about his band Vacation. (Listen to the The Holy Hour in full here.)
Finally I found the time listening to The Holy Hour last night and the opener “Fire In Cairo” by Brown Bread was just the best way to kick it off. How were you able to gather these interesting artists for the compilation?
Wayne Memmer: Well, some of the artists I know in “real life” and other artists I was just a fan of their music, either by seeing them on a blog or playing a show with them. I’ve been friends with Becky (Brown Bread) for a long time. We used to be in a couple bands together, too. I’m also very good friends with Tim Dunne who records under the name Pedenenious.
Some well-known The Cure tracks are in the record, some of them so classic other bands might not try to shake them a bit. I noticed a lot of variation with the bands’ takes on them like Setting Sun‘s take on “Pictures of You” or probably the most famous one “Friday I’m In Love” done by Four More Years (which sounds to me like listening from a tape). How was it for the bands doing those songs, I mean, was it a specific intention to not be like the original?
Well, I can’t speak for the other bands, but as a whole it does seem like all the artists involved put in a lot of work to make each cover sound like their own and I think every artist succeeded in doing so. Speaking for Vacation, I know that we definitely wanted to put our own spin on “Close To Me.” We saw no reason to record the cover exactly like the original. There isn’t much fun in doing that.