180, the new record from Palma Violets, sounds like a basement show. That's a compliment. Each track is a wonderful mix of 60's garage pop and 90's UK rock (i.e. Pulp, Blur). On "All The Garden Birds", the lead singer pulls off an extremely convincing Damon Albarn impression. Then on "Rattlesnake Highway", the group sounds like they're channeling The Clash. Even though their influences show through pretty clearly, it doesn't change the fact that these guys have written a tight but explosive album.
RIYL: The Clash, Blur, Chalk Talk
Known for his emotional live performances, Charles Bradley has quickly become one of the best soul performers of our time. Although Bradley was a bit late to the game and does not have the history and legend of Otis Redding or Booker T. he is making some of the best classic soul music in 2013. Lyrically rooted in struggle and defeat, Bradley's downer lyrics are not enough to make this record lose its groove. Jovial horns, seductive grunts, and funky base lines make this an essential album on the town and in the bedroom.
PLAY: 3, 5, 8
RIYL: Lee Fields
Formerly known as Oregon Bike Trails, Cayucas' first full length release is an all too brief journey through youth and carefree summer nostalgia. Zach Yudin's effortlessly reflective storytelling resembles the unconsequential and unmotivated lyrics that defined 50's and 60's big label bands. The sound is pleasant to any ear and a welcome break from the sludgy grime and bleep blops of modern indie music. This 60's inspired beach pop is neither innovative nor challenging, but it is the perfect summer companion.
RIYL: She & Him, Taken By Trees
Prog-rock meets synth pop. These drum and base driven tracks are loud and motivated and drenched in Modular Records vibes. Its like Cut Copy and Memory Tapes collaborated, with production from TV on the Radio. The emo/hardcore influence on this album is unmistakable, but On An On find a way to bury the angst in dreamy synths and urgent bass lines. This album needs to be played loud for its complex production to be fully appreciated. intense
RIYL: TV On The Radio, Memory Tapes
Tim Presley, also known as White Fence, isn't messing around. Last year he released Hair, a collaborative LP with Ty Segall, as well as Family Perfume Vol. 1 & 2. Cyclops Reap, his new LP on Castle Face, proves that he's just getting started. While not as enjoyable as his work with Ty Segall, it deserves a listen. The album sounds as psychedelic as the title, especially on tracks such as "Pink Gorilla", "Beat" and "White Cat". If you're looking for something mellower, "Live On Genevieve" does the trick.
RIYL: Woods, Ariel Pink, Thee Oh Sees
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Is This It really, truly WAS the big bang that appeared on its cover back in 2001, and the albums that followed ranged from near classics (Room on Fire) to scattered, beautiful messes (First Impressions of Earth). Now, 12 years later, have The Strokes returned to their former glory?
Well...no, obviously. But thats alright. Comedown Machine is a great, consistently surprising album that abandons the jagged angst-ridden intensity of The Strokes first two albums in favor of shimmering synthesizers, looping guitars, and downright funky grooves. Opener Tap Out kicks off with a three-second fake out of guitar distortion before submerging into synthesized, sugary pop. Welcome to Japan is a bizarre, beautiful and at times even hilarious diversion.There are echoes of Strokes-gone-by: lead single All the Time and the fittingly titled halfway-point on the album, 50/50 both offer blistering, distorted rock. But its not here that youll find the truly wonderful scenes this record has tucked away inside of it; the closing track Call It Fate, Call It Karma (Ghostbusters reference, FYI) is a straight up fever dream that almost defies description. Just listen and drift away somewhere.
PLAY: 1, 2, 5, 7, 9
RIYL: Phoenix, Julian Casablancas, old Strokes