Summer’s winding down, and with it, the deluge of dreamy surf-rock bands (read: laptops), none of which are particularly offending, but be honest: the chillwave epidemic is definitely a case of too much of a moderately good thing. So, dear readers, let us remind you of, and in some cases, introduce you to a set of bands and artists who don’t default to water-themed monikers, fuzzy samples and lethargic vocals. This is the music that’s going to save 2010 from chillwave’s distorted clutches.
Let’s get this one out of the way: have you heard the new of Montreal album, False Priest? Kevin Barnes has never been one to hold back, but the new record is more sexy, sleazy, and blatantly indebted to funk/R&B than anything we’ve heard from the indie king of pop before. “Sex Karma” (feat. Solange Knowles) has Barnes describing his lover’s body as a playground, and “Like a Tourist” would turn any dance club into a bloodbath.
You can pre-order the record here.
Part of the Black Mountain Army collective in Vancouver and led by Pink Mountaintops’ Stephen McBean, Black Mountain are putting out their first proper album in two years, and by god, are we glad to see their heavy, gorgeous psych-rock return. Wilderness Heart promises to be more structured and focused than their sprawling efforts in the past, but every ounce of intensity remains, with some bonus laser keyboards.
Pre-order and preview the new album here.
Though their home base is in Brooklyn, Afuche distinctly hail from Miami, consisting of unhinged Afro-Cuban experimental jazz and funk… kinda like Frank Zappa meets YES, with extra group screaming and handclaps. The best way to experience Afuche is catching one of their live shows on the Brooklyn/Manhattan circuit, but they’re capturing the madness on record lately, releasing the track “Monster Smith” on a 7″ split with Jookabox,via Asthmatic Kitty, and planning a full-length album later in the year.
Listen to “Monster Smith” on MySpace.
If you’re feeling starved for guitars, Sleepy Sun will more than quench your craving with their new record, Fever. Featuring the smashingly epic track “Marina,” which starts with a simple shred on electric guitar and builds into smoky female vocals and sparkling keys, Fever will tempt you to chuck your MacBook out the window in solidarity.
Get Fever here.
Titus Andronicus’ first release on XL, The Monitor, boasts not one, not two, but five songs clocking in over 7 minutes, including the final track, which ends at 14:02, exactly. Of course, when you name your band Titus Andronicus, you’re making it clear that you have no problem embodying the concept of “epic,” and that’s exactly what The Monitor is: a brain-bashing, yowling, perfectly orchestrated mess with touches of Bruce Springsteen and Neutral Milk Hotel. You read that correctly. After all, they’re from Jersey.
Buy The Monitor here.
Forget Minneapolis… there’s something in the water of New Jersey, and it’s less toxic than you think. Tourmaline also hail from the wrongly-maligned state, and it’s almost as if they’ve managed to ignore the laptop era altogether. Shameless guitar solo posturing and arena vocals applied to airtight songwriting might not have made them the coolest band during the dance-punk era, but after years of opening for everyone from Ted Leo to Richard Lloyd, their homage to the nuclear family of rock and roll is at home in 2010.
Get their free EP Save Me here.
Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy
Decades before Sharon Jones and her Dap Kings were filling clubs, Mavis Staples was topping the charts with her family’s band, the legendary Staples Singers, and fielding marriage proposals from none other than Bob Dylan. She also appeared in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, singing “The Weight” with The Band. Her latest record, You Are Not Alone, was produced and co-written by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, a partnership more likely than you’d think, given their shared love for folk songs, family, and simplicity. It contains a handful of covers and new songs, and Mavis’ voice, a clear, deep, and beautiful instrument, wields the same power as it did in her days at Stax Records.
Pre-order the album here.
Dancing! Remember dancing!? LCD Soundsystem does, and while the single “Drunk Girls” swiftly reminded aloof show-standers of the two-step, 2010’s This is Happening played in its entirety is probably the best antidote to Crowd Zombie Syndrome. At the very least, it pisses off Michael Musto (see track #7, “Pow Pow”).
Get a limited-edition This is Happening super-pack here.
The Morning Benders
Even without the Phil Spector “wall of sound” approach taken in this video (peep John Vanderslice at 5:20), the Morning Benders’ new album Big Echo sounds larger and lusher than most records we’ve heard this year, with a distinct tip of the hat to the swelling strings and doo-wop harmonies of a ballroom orchestra. Just goes to show… coming from California doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time in the tiki huts.
Buy Big Echo here.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
We understand how this may be a confusing choice, as Ariel Pink has been called the “inventor of chillwave.” We deem that label completely unfair, as none of the bands he’s supposedly spawned have come anywhere near the genius of 2010’s Before Today. Chillwave bands go to the beach, and Ariel Pink goes to the broken-down porn theaters and freak shows on the boardwalk. In fact, this whole movement could have been avoided if we’d just acknowledged that Ariel Pink has his shit on lock, and attempting to improve upon it is plain ol’ misguided.
Get Before Today here.