New Tunes Reviews, September 24: The Horrible Crowes, Deer Tick, CHVRCHES, and Tim Kasher

The Horrible Crowes (Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and Ian Perkins) released Live at the Troubadour this week. The album has songs from 2011’s excellent Elsie and full covers and singular verses. There is some light banter about the band’s formation, tramps, relationships, and being fancy sprinkled throughout the recording.
Fallon received some flack recently after his Tumblr post entitled “Tonight You Have Broken My Heart.” In the post, he addressed the direction of Gaslight Anthem and the “play all the hits”/”BRUUUUCE” attitude of many fans after some specific incidents in July 2013. After reading the blog post (and the oddly awkward out-of-context pull-quotes used in some cases), my respect for Fallon grew. Yes, nothing can live up to The 59 Sound.  But, artists need to grow. They cannot be expected to play every song you want to hear and every cover they performed once.  Each release by any of his main-projects or side-projects is testimony to his growth and “don’t take people’s crap” attitude.  
And the cover of “Teenage Dream” is ridiculously fun.

(Ed. Note: This blurb was written without a single reference to Bruce Springsteen and for that, I am proud.) 

Deer Tick‘s quiet moments are often the most enjoyable, as seen in the song “Big House” from their latest release Negativity. The songs are all over the place.  They go from raucous and drunk to easy-going and romantic.  Another great release from this band that puts on one of the most fun (and destructive) live songs I’ve seen to date.
CHVRCHES released their anticipated debut album called The Bones of What You Believe. Another one of those electronic-pop”buzz-bands,” this release is just as expected. The songs are catchy and darkly danceable. For fans of that type of music, this will likely be a BNM (best new music).   
Tim Kasher (of Cursive and Good Life) released a 2-song EP called Truly Freaking Out. It has the usual themes of drunkenness, anxiety, and aging. It never gets old (even when we do). 

Follow my Best Songs of 2013 playlist on Spotify. Updated weekly, this playlist features some of the best tracks from new releases.  Check out the playlist below! 


Best Songs of 2012: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the best songs of 2012:

“Continuous Thunder” – Japanadriods (from Celebration Rock)
Without a doubt, this album should be on just about everyone’s list for the best of the year.  This song is one of the best.  It is strong like the single (“The House that Heaven Built”), but a bit quieter.  The fuzzy guitars are subdued and wonderful.  Even though Japandriods are just two people, they create a exuberant sound. As this song progresses, its hard not to imagine driving down a road with windows open during the summer.   Its just a great track.

“Heartbreaker” – Walkmen (from Heaven)
The Walkmen are often described as a “Musician’s band” because of their tight melodies and generally strong musicanship.  This album is a great display of all of these characteristics. I was able to see the band perform at Bowery Ballroom on June 6, 2012 and they really dazzled the audience during this intimate record release show. This song is one of the best of the album (although just about every other song is great as well).

“I Never Knew You” – The Avett Brothers (from The Carpenter)
These brothers construct a lush sound in every one of their songs.  This song starts off with piano and draws the listener in.  The harmonies are at the forefront and created a sing-along atmosphere.  This is another strong song from a strong album.

“The Descent” – Bob Mould (from Silver Age)
As mentioned in a previous post, Bob Mould is back.  This opening track to Silver Age sets the stage for a bunch of charming loud songs about growing old.  This one specifically is the most upfront.  The lyrics weigh success over artistic individuality. To answer Mould’s question towards the end of the song, he does make it up to us.

“National Anthem” – Gaslight Anthem (from Handwritten)
I was not thrilled by this album’s single (“45”).  It seemed too overproduced and too obvious.  Instead, I was charmed by “National Anthem.” This song is much simplier and quieter.  It showcases Brian Fallon’s voice and lyrical prowess. He is quiet but strong.  It is similar to other Gaslight gems like “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” (from The 59 Sound) and “The Navasink Banks” (from Sink or Swim).

Honorable Mentions:
“1957” – Milo Green (from 1957)
“Harder Before It Gets Easier” – David Wax Museum (from Knock Knock Get Up)
“This Summer” – Superchunk
“Hey Ho” – Lumineers (from self titled)
“Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting” – Glen Hansard (from Rhythm and Repose)
“Love Love Love” – Of Monsters and Men (from My Head is an Animal)
“In a Big City” – Titus Andronicus (from Local Business)
“Maria” – Justin Townes Earle (from Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now)

Five Fantastic Songs for Fun-Filled Friday

So why is this week different from all other weeks?  Well, yes, it is Passover (and during this week we only eat unleavened bread, etc).  But that was not what I was referring to.  The true difference between this week and others is that this week my music listening has been dominated by a small pool of artists, some new and some older.  As a result, I am going to list my favorite tracks this week.  Enjoy!  

1. Matt Pond PA “Halloween” mp3
Okay. I might be kind of late on the MPPA train (woo woo).  I’ve listened to “Halloween” over 14 times in the past week. This song is the opener of “Several Arrows Later” and in many ways it is the perfect starting point for a spectacular album. From the beginning, something about this song screams uncertainity and anxiety.  The piano along with Matt Pond’s voice lends itself to a romantic yet realistic mood, with dimmed lights and whispering closely.  The chorus is one of the strongest parts of the song: “Pardon the intrusion/ Could we leave before it gets bad?” It is personal yet general and perfect.  It is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to get into Matt Pond PA.

2. Death Cab for Cutie “A Diamond and A Tether” mp3
One thing that DCFC does so well is write introspective tunes.  This one, from their new release, “The Open Door EP,” is one of the best I’ve heard in a while.  As Gibbard sings,”I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn,” the listener believes him.  He goes on to spin the tale of someone with serious commitment issues who is perfectly satisfied with being alone.  At the same time, he is not alone but always gazing around to see what else is out there.   He makes “empty promises” and “countless bluffs.”  This song, lyrically and musically, seems like  a throwback to old-school Death Cab and I like it.    

3. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band “Slowly (Oh So Slowly)” mp3
It is no secret that I love just about everything Conor Oberst does. With the latest album”Outer South” (which will be released on May 5, 2009), is a collective effort by the Mystic Valley Band.  The opening guitar riffs “Slowly” feature a big band sound similar to the one found on “Four Winds” (from 2007’s “Cassadaga” record). This opening track starts off with an incredibly profound yet simple lyric: “Potential, well you’re a loaded line.” The song has a lot of the same themes from “Cassadaga” but goes steps further to claim the necessity of a vacation from life.  

4. The Gaslight Anthem “The Navesink Banks” mp3
On April 24th, I went to see Gaslight at Webster Hall. I had only seen Brian Fallon solo at the Court Tavern in New Jersey and really did not know what to expect. What I came to notice was that the concert was much like the pop-punk shows of yesteryear. There were kids moshing, fist pumping and the like. I hadn’t been to a show like that in years. It sure was something.

Anyways, in the days leading up to the show, I reviewed their discography and found myself instantly drawn to “The Navesink Banks.” This acoustic gem, off of “Sink or Swim,” is one of those songs that derive directly from a singular situation or experience: growing up in New Jersey. (Navesink is an actual location in Jersey).  This retrospective song talks about childhood and teenage mistakes that were made.  For example, contained in the lyrics are three lines that talk about “sins” in judgement made during the younger years. Although, as always, Fallon has a positive outlook and has learned from those situations to a full extent.  

5. Bishop Allen “The Chinatown Bus” mp3
For me, Bishop Allen is a newish discovery, even though I heard them on KEXP in 2007.  Bishop Allen, from Brooklyn, is one of those bands with great lyrical and musical talent. And I love bands that refernece the place that they are from (like the Hold Steady does in all of their songs).  From 2007’s “This Broken String,” this song is fully laden with New York references.  It takes about going up the I-95 on the Chinatown bus after New Years Day.  It takes of taxi cabs and being a passenger, watching the world go by. The quiet vocals and guitars along with the trumpets and tambourines create a dreamy and calm mood.          

On a related note, they will be playing at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, with The Dodos, Vivian Girls, John Vanderslice, and more (which takes place June 11-14).