Quick Review (LP): In Light by Givers

Givers
In Light
Glassnote; 2011

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: "Meantime", "Saw You First", "Ceiling of Plankton", "In My Eyes", "Atlantic"

Talking Heads, Nawlins-style.

NOTES

  • Hyper-creative without being hyper-active.
  • Sound is similar to Vampire Weekend, with the addition of female vocals and, in general, a larger wall of sound.
  • Love the reggae plus post-punk rhythm section they have going on. The angular guitars are a nice touch too.
  • "Up Up Up" is a cool tune, but does come off like a novelty. I envision a Sesame Street performance soon.
  • I dig it when these kids hit a groove: "Meantime", "Saw You First", "Ceiling of Plankton."
  • "In My Eyes" is fantastic. Is it a bit of dissonance that gives it that sound?
  • "Atlantic" changes things up really well. Gorgeous opening.
  • Nice strings on the closer, "Words." More strings on the next album please.
  • Tiffany Lamson has a great smoky/sultry voice. She sounds fantastic on lead or on backup.
  • Givers come off like a more muscular version of Talking Heads. The music of Louisiana has obviously had a big influence on them, so they aren’t as cerebral as the indie fore-runners, but the influence is undeniable. Really brilliant stuff this.
  • I sort of bad-mouthed this band last year. I repent.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Advertisements

Best of 2010 (LP): My Top 5 Albums

Here’s a list of what I reviewed in 2010, with links to each individual review. I knew what my top 3 were beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the other 2 won out because I felt like there were pretty grand achievements from established acts. Notably, you won’t find The Suburbs, Age of Adz, or Contra here. The grammy-winner was long on pretense and short on strong material, the Sufe-ster went too far into left field, and the prep-punks got a little too glossy and cute. That’s OK though, those acts still have their best days ahead of them.

Below you’ll find my Top 5 records for 2010. What’s on your list?

kathryn calder are you my mother beach house teen dream

5. The Books – The Way Out…When it comes to “soundscaping” types of record, I normally expect the ones I enjoy to be good background music (ie Boards of Canada). The Way Out goes way beyond the confines of its genre, achieving a sort of giddy, off-the-wall, and soulful poppiness that may not be quite radio-friendly, but says it might just be possible a few albums from now. Otherwise, this is a great record, remarkably listenable and appealling for “found-sound.” “Cold Freezin’ Night” never ceases to put a smile on my face, but “I Didn’t Know That” is pretty cool too. (original review)

4. The National – High Violet…With HV, The National has officially become the greatest indie band to emerge in the last decade, taking ideas pioneered by the likes of Joy Division, REM, Interpol, Radiohead, Wilco, and others and creating their own mesmerizing blend of gut-wrenching chamber rock. The big highlight here though is Matt Berninger’s vocal work, which goes way beyond anything he’s done before. He uses his world-weary baritone to maximum effect, bringing in realms of emotion that have heretofore reamined untouched for The National. To that end, “Afraid of Everyone” is one of the record’s highlights, and probably Berninger’s most gut-wrenching performance to date. (original review)

3. Follow The Train – Mercury…At some point, great bands stopped thinking in terms of stadium-sized rock and roll. Follow The Train appears to be trying to reverse that trend, and while they may not be playing actual stadiums quite yet, with Mercury, they’ve prepared a set of tunes that would certainly do the trick. In fact, I can’t think of a band that has dreamed of making GOOD rock and roll this grand since Pearl Jam hit the airwaves in the early 90’s. This record is quite simply a delight in every way. I don’t know what the future holds for Follow The Train, but after the glory that is Mercury, I’m hoping they will let the world hear more. “Movin” is the best place to start. (original review)

2. Kathryn Calder – Are You My Mother?…Here’s one I really didn’t see coming. When Kathryn Calder joined New Pornographers a few years back, I figured she was simply standing in for Neko Case and would be relegated to backing band status. When she announced a solo album earlier this year, I barely took notice. Yet somehow, I gave this one a shot, and I’m thrilled I did. Packed with melody, romance, optimism, and spaced-out folk tunes, Calder’s debut is the understated gem of the year, a record with a little something for everyone. While it might not make many year-end lists, that just makes me all the prouder to tout it on mine. I certainly don’t mean to be patronizing when I say that this is one charming little record. Here’s a live take of my favorite, “If You Only Knew.” Oh yeah, and another prime tune (and cool video), “Arrow.” (original review)

1. Beach House – Teen Dream…On their third album, Beach House went for broke, and nailed it. Teen Dream contains ten pop masterpieces, songs that can’t be contained by studios or venues or any other confined space that you might dream up. From the epic swell of “Zebra” to the closing credits of “Take Care”, this a record that you’ll fall in love with, in large part due to the moonlight wails of Victoria Legrand, a vocalist that certainly ranks up there with the likes of Neko and Stevie Nicks. Words fail with this one. If you haven’t heard this yet, then what in the world are you waiting for? Here’s “Walk in the Park“, which was a runner-up for my year-end track list next to “Zebra.”  (original review)

Quick Review (LP): Cape Dory by Tennis

Tennis
Cape Dory
Fat Possum; 2011

My Rating: B (68/100)

Best Tracks: “Bimini Bay”, “Marathon”, “Take Me Somewhere”, “South Carolina”

According to Wikipedia, Cape Dory Yachts “was a Massachusetts based fiberglass boat builder which operated from 1963 to 1996.” So it figures that the indie duo Tennis, whose debut is inspired by a seven-month sailing cruise of the Atlantic states, would choose such a name. And what we have here is hyper-pleasant, mid-tempo indie pop. Reference points? Well, there’s a definite care-free, vacation punk feel to this record, so I’d have to go with Vampire Weekend on one hand, with a bit of the languorous songswells of Beach House undergirding things. Also, there’s a big helping of the oldie-but-goodie sensibility that informs the She & Him records. It’s all well and good, but Cape Dory is a record of fleeting pleasures. There’s not a whole lot to really jump on board with, perhaps owing to the fact that this was a record inspired by an escapist life at sea. But that’s OK. It’s highly enjoyable for what it is, and Tennis is a band full of promise. Their songs really grow on you, and I can envision great things coming from them in the not-too-distant future.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (3/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (4/5)

AMG review
Pitchfork review
Sputnik Music review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews

Quick Review (LP): Contra by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
Contra
XL; 2010

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “Horchata”, “Cousins”, “Holiday”

Vampire Weekend’s debut LP was so good that it earned them a lifetime credibility with me. The only thing that could possibly find me not buying their future releases would probably fall under the heading of either “egregious criminal activity” or “Live with Santana.” Even so, this wasn’t at all what I expected. About half of the songs here have at least the potential to live up to the standards set by the likes of “M79”, “Oxford Comma”, and “Walcott,” but unfortunately none of them actually do in execution. If it was a more mature sound that the band was shooting for with LP2, I could have lived with that. Tracks like “Horchata” and “Diplomat’s Son” work well enough stripped of the punk vigor embued in all of the tracks from their debut. However, I’m left scratching my head when tracks like “Cousins” and “Holiday” are interspersed. Furthermore, while on one hand I like it, I wish the band hadn’t made such an obvious play for airwave domination with “Giving Up The Gun.” I know Weezer surrendered to the corporate pop gods a few albums in; I wish VW had at least waited until LP4 or 5. As long as they make albums, I’ll buy them, but I hope I can be more excited about the listen next time around.

Metacritic page
Daytrotter session

Giving Up The Gun video
Cousins video
Holiday video
Pitchfork review
Paste review

Quick Review (EP): Givers EP by Givers

GIVERS (EP) Cover ArtGivers
Givers EP
Valcour Records; 2009

My Rating: C+

There is much to be relished in the up-beat swing that indie music seems to be taking these days. I am a big fan of Vampire Weekend, New Pornographers, and others that fit this mold. Givers seem to be moving in the same direction, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for their first LP due toward the end of 2010. However, while they be working from the same general source material as the aforementioned bands (esp. Vampire Weekend’s afro-pop), nothing here gets under my skin in quite the way I would hope. “Up, Up, Up” is the obvious standout, but unfortunately it swings a little too far toward cutesy excess. The result is that it is catchy in the wrong way. The rest of the record is all in all a bit bland, but I give them bonus points for trying, and think they might be onto something. Finally, I’ll be these guys are a hoot live. FFO: Vampire Weekend, Talking Heads, New Pornographers.

Listen & Download it here

Worth Shouting About: Givers

I’m certainly not the first one to recognize something noteworthy about Givers of Lafayette, Louisiana. Paste, Spinner, and others beat me to the punch. However, they certainly get a “highly anticipated” vote from me based on what I’ve heard so far. Seeming to combine influences ranging from Flaming Lips to Peter Gabriel to Talking Heads to Vampire Weekend, I’m thinking these guys will be playing SNL sometime around summer 2011. It may be effervescent, but I’ve got a gut feeling that the bubbles are only the run-off from a hyper-creative hot spring residing in this collective. For now, go ahead and enjoy yourself some free mp3s via Daytrotter (below) and get to know this band before everyone else does.

get the Daytrotter session

get their debut EP

Like Eddie Vedder…

Just wanted to touch base and say that I’m still alive, and plan on returning to regular blogging sometime in the spring.

A few music-related thoughts:

– the new Norah Jones was like the last Norah Jones, pretty blah…
– the new Vampire Weekend is okay, pretty mediocre compared to their outstanding debut…
– the new Dawn Landes sounds EXCELLENT after one listen…
– I never did pick up the Farrar/Gibbard record…anyone care to comment?
– Louisville indie-rockers Second Story Man just released a new record, Screaming Secrets…you should check it out…
– I’d probably agree with Paste Mag that Sufjan’s Illinois was the greatest record of the last decade…more later though…
– I”m stoked that Louisville’s Follow the Train might re-group when their new LP is released on Removador Records
– of course I’m with CoCo…duh…
– I like that new-ish band Real Estate…
– psyched for some new Josh Ritter in the spring, more psyched for the tour that should follow…
– best record of 2009? No clue…I think last year kind of sucked for music…

That’s it for now, stay in touch…

Tracks of the Decade (so far)

1563_Pieter_Bruegel_the_elder_The_Tower_of_Babel-wl400There’s still more to come, but here’s a list of the Sweet Georgia Breezes’ Tracks of the Decade so far (in no particular order). What do you think of the list? What are your top 5 or 10 tracks of the decade?

Counting Crows – Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Wilco – I am trying to break your heart
The New Pornographers  – Myriad Harbour
M. Ward – Poison Cup
Kathleen Edwards – In State
Vampire Weekend – M79
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
Built to Spill – The Weather
Neko Case – Star Witness
Belle and Sebastian – Funny Little Frog
Interpol – NYC
Wilco – Impossible Germany
Coldplay – Lost!
Ryan Adams – To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
Fugazi – Cashout
Flaming Lips – Fight Test
Nathan – The Wind
Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place
Rachel’s – Water from the Same Source
Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
Bruce Springsteen – My City of Ruins
The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin

Tracks of the Decade: “M79” by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
“M79”
from VAMPIRE WEEKEND
The crowning achievement of a stunning debut, VW’s inconceivably tuneful “M79” comes off as the lyrical equivalent of a scavenger hunt. Esoteric only at the surface, the track combines references to architecture, exotic geography, transportation, minor league baseball players, and racism into one refreshing cocktail. And then there’s the music – lush, airy, light, and bouncy, featuring the most pop-transcendent string section since OMD’s “If You Leave.” It’s a strange little song, the kind of tune you’ll love but never know what the heck it’s all about. That’s okay though, because I’m convinced after a thousand listens that it’s mostly about the joy of the ride.

vampire_weekend1Vampire Weekend
“M79”
from VAMPIRE WEEKEND

The crowning achievement of a stunning debut, VW’s inconceivably tuneful “M79” comes off as the lyrical equivalent of a scavenger hunt. Esoteric only at the surface, the track combines references to architecture, exotic geography, transportation, minor league baseball players, and racism into one refreshing cocktail. And then there’s the music – lush, airy, light, and bouncy, featuring the most pop-transcendent string section since OMD’s “If You Leave.” It’s a strange little song, the kind of tune you’ll love but never know what the heck it’s all about. That’s okay though, because I’m convinced after a thousand listens that it’s mostly about the joy of the ride.