Friday, March 27, 2015

Listening Post: Genevieve



Genevieve Schatz used to sing in a band out of Chicago, which means that she knows big hooks and absolutely irresistible melodies since there's apparently something in the water in that town. Her old group, Company of Thieves, was a favorite of mine a few years back -- when they were active -- to the point where I chose their song Oscar Wilde as one of the best singles of 2009.

Well, Genevieve is back -- ditching her last name and going full-on pop queen. Normally, maybe this might be an unfortunate choice, but the thing is, not only does Genevieve display the same spectacular vocal authority she did in Company, but she's doing this as an independent so it's impossible not to feel good about supporting her. She moved out here to L.A. at some point, which for the love of all that's holy I hope doesn't ruin her -- but from what it looks like, so far, so good.

Here's her first single. Listen, share, that sort of thing.

Happy Friday -- this is Colors.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Listening Post: Fink



Fink is the stage name of British singer-songwriter-DJ-producer Fin Greenall. With that kind of hyphenate you'd think his music would be overly complex, but actually Fink's best stuff is stripped down and deeply personal. He's collaborated with John Legend, Banks and Amy Winehouse in the past, but his solo material is where it's really obvious what he's capable of.

His most recent album, Hard Believer, is a current favorite of mine and when you hear the first couple of singles from it you'll understand why.

First up, it's a song that could easily be a lost track from Radiohead's OK Computer. This is Pilgrim.



And here's Looking Too Closely.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Listening Post: Wolf Alice



You should be listening to Wolf Alice for a number of reasons. They're out of London and they sound like a plane full of Seattle musicians circa '91 plunged into the venue where My Bloody Valentine and Elastica were playing a show together. They're basically kids and yet in just two years they've managed to become one of the most buzzed-about bands overseas. It feels like their stuff just keep getting better and more assured with each new song you hear.

Wolf Alice's new record, My Love Is Cool is set to land in June. Right now none of their material is available on iTunes in the U.S. but it looks like you can get it at Amazon. I have to imagine, since they're all over iTunes U.K., they'll eventually get Apple distribution here. They're also touring the U.S. right now. (If you happen to live in L.A., they're playing the Roxy on May 18th.)

Here now, three from Wolf Alice. First up it's Giant Peach.



Next, Moaning Lisa Smile.



Finally, this is Storms.



Friday, March 13, 2015

Listening Post: Dead Sara



In 2012 I called Dead Sara's Weatherman the best single of the year. It was an absolutely ferocious track that heralded not only Dead Sara as maybe the next and potentially last great rock-and-roll band, but their single, Emily Armstrong, as the kind of voice that really does come only once in a generation.

I saw them live here in L.A. -- they're locals -- last year and it was sincerely one of the best shows I've ever seen: just an hour being smacked in the face by the raw fucking power of these guys.

Three years later, Dead Sara are back. Their new record's called Pleasure To Meet You and you can already download this first single from it on iTunes and so on.

Here's Mona Lisa.



And another track from the album, Something Good.


Friday, March 06, 2015

Listening Post: Ex Cops



Brooklyn indie-pop duo Ex Cops are in the news at the moment. The reason is that they're the latest to take up the fight for independent artists everywhere to get paid for their work.

It goes like this: Ex Cops were invited by McDonalds to play SXSW this year, but within the offer was this line, which should be very familiar to any up-and-coming musician, writer, filmmaker or artist these days: "There isn't a budget for an artist fee (unfortunately)." In other words, feel free to come out here and play, but you're not going to get paid for it. McDonalds did, however, assure them there would be free food, which sounds less like a promise than a threat.

Ex Cops responded with a scathing open letter to McDonalds on their Facebook page, pointing out that a company that made $90 billion in 2013 somehow couldn't afford a few bucks to pay an indie act to play on their behalf, an act the company would immediately brand and use for its own promotional purposes. McDonalds shot back saying that it was simply following protocol and tagged its response with "#slownewsday." "That's not true," says Ex Cops singer Amalie Bruun to Rolling Stone. "They're not following any guidelines because everyone else is offering money. They'll have to take that up with South by Southwest if they think they're following the guidelines...Other, much smaller corporations are offering us money."

The band also ridiculed McDonalds for being "an archaic company trying to be hip by putting a hashtag at the end of an e-mail."

Exposure and promotion are important. But when you're a struggling artist, exposure and promotion don't pay the rent. It's especially a problem when a mega-corporation is asking you to foot the bill for your own out-of-town gig.

And the thing is, Ex Cops are worth spending a little on.

Hear for yourself. This is Black Soap.



Read me at The Daily Banter

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Listening Post: Ibeyi



Ibeyi have a fascinating background and a genuinely remarkable sound. The duo is made up of 19-year-old twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz, who were born in Cuba and raised in France. Their father was legendary Cuban percussionist Anga Díaz of the Buena Vista Social Club, which means that he played with people like Ibrahim Ferrer and Rubén González.

As the Diaz sisters grew up, they took up their father's instruments as well as piano and guitar and began singing in English and Yoruba, which came to Cuba via the slave trade from Africa centuries ago. The music Ibeyi makes is such an amalgam of styles and cultures that it almost defies description. It's cool and minimalist but warm and delicate, part electronic and part traditional and percussive, Cuban jazz mixed with African rhythms and experimental Euro-pop.

No matter how you attempt to categorize it, though, it's absolutely mesmerizing.

Here's Ibeyi -- Oya.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Listening Post: Gateway Drugs



So I can't promise that I'll be able to run this place on much more than impulse power given my heavy workload at The Daily Banter and beyond. But I've missed my internet home here so I think it's time to at least flip the lights back on, blow off some of the cobwebs and turn up some music. That's a decent start.

Today the new record from Gateway Drugs lands at iTunes and everywhere else and it's something you should definitely give a listen to. The band's a four-piece out of L.A. made up of three siblings who are the kids of Prescott Niles of The Knack and one hell of a powerhouse drummer, and their sound is a little like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club if you added a female voice into the mix.

I haven't stopped listening to the record, Magick Spells, since I got a hold of an advance copy of it a few weeks back. It's swirling, wall-of-sound fuzzy, propulsive and sensuously intoxicating stuff for the most part, even if the first single is a little more poppy than what you find on the rest of the album (which is to be expected).

My favorite track, if you care about such things, is I'm in Love with a Teenage Heartthrob, but this upbeat single will do nicely as an introduction.

Here's Fridays Are for Suckers.



And one more -- Head.



By the way, they're on tour with Swervedriver over the next month, so if you get a chance, see them live there or in here L.A. if you happen to be in the area. You certainly won't be disappointed.

Read me at The Daily Banter