Band Appreciation Friday – CHVRCHES

And you don’t need me

I discovered Chvrches one day when I was in the library, alone, trying to desperately study for class that I barely tolerated. I needed something motivating – something fast, something energetic – literally anything other than the silence and blank stares I was enduring all around me for the past hour. I had remembered hearing something about this new electronic band with some crazy name with that song that had that one long title, and, after I sifted through my insanity, before I knew it I was listening to “The Mother We Share” on repeat. Chvrches was something fresh and new for me, and their instrumentals had just enough spice and edge to really appreciate their take on the electronic genre. That is a place that the Glasgow trio have truly dominated since their debut album was released in 2013, and since then, they have only grown stronger.

homepage_large.21aa0ef6The Bones of What You Believe is a musical package chock full with the  feelings of confidence, drama, and most of all, a desire for energy and the soaring feelings of passion, all with the use of dynamic sampling and synthesized effects. Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer, has a voice that is gorgeously sharp and acerbic, but at the same time sounds fanciful, powerful, and incredibly light. The members met through other bands (multi-instrumentalists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty became friends at college, and they met Lauren Mayberry through a mutual project), and formed Chvrches in 2011. They started to get praise for their supersonic sounds and heavily textured synth beats, which are the prime fundamentals for their debut album. Of course, it starts out with none other than “The Mother We Share,” which is no doubt the simplest and most accessible of all the songs on their album, and it’s the perfect little sample of what’s still left to come. “We Sink” takes the more complex approach and is propelled by sampled drum beats and metallic instrumentals. The energetic, sharp witted vocals are the star in both that song as well as “Gun,” where the synth sounds as if it is made of fragile glass and is constantly shimmering in the light. This sort of imagery is present throughout the album, and it’s a prime example of how evocative their sound really is. “Tether” is slower, more refined, and more luxurious, while “Lies” is stark, strident, and exposing, but in the best way possible. “Under the Tide” follows the same sort of formula as “Tether,” but with an edge. “Recover,” another one of their singles, goes hand in hand with “The Mother We Share” and is energetic and bouncy, and again, Lauren Mayberry’s voice truly shines as the gorgeous instrument it is. “Science/Visions,” one of my favorites, sounds retro and extremely dark and hopeful at the same time, which makes me believe that they might have gotten some inspiration from the greats: bands like Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys (they even opened for Depeche Mode on their recent tour). “By The Throat” and “You Caught The Light” are a great closing to the album, because they show off a softer, slower side of the band that isn’t really seen that often. Overall, The Bones of What You Believe turned out to be an extremely well rounded album with rises and falls in the exact right spot.

I love this band simply because of their confidence and durability, and the fact that everything they make sounds like a triumphant burst of emotion, whether that emotion is happiness or sadness. Their music is expansive, but still remains relatable and accessible, and you can hear something new every time you listen to one of their songs. Chvrches have really revolutionized the new age electronic music scene and risen to the top, and if they continue to produce gems like these songs, they will have absolutely no problem staying there.

 

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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Eurydice”

homepage_large.aeea7891The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are an indie pop band from New York. Their music is, for the most part, upbeat, bouncy, and naive in the best sense possible. It’s crisp and dreamy and a bit flouncy at times, but it’s always filled with joy. They take into effect the power of overly romantic lyrics and balance it out with strong, focused instrumentals, and the result is something mature and sophisticated rather than the overwhelming sugar high that it seems to be on the first listen. There are eighties influences as well as modern day synth and instrumentals scattered throughout, and is also heard in their song “Eurydice.” It’s a somewhat happier sounding take on the classic myth, and effortlessly shields the despair the actual story brings and instead cleanses the palate with a more optimistic variation. “Eurydice” is from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s new album Days Of Abandon, which was released earlier this year.

 

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How To Dress Well – “Repeat Pleasure”

homepage_large.bc2dad80How To Dress Well is the stage name of artist Tom Krell. His genre is a tricky one to figure out- some say it’s dream pop, some say it’s indie R&B – but there’s no question that there’s bounds of talent coursing through that mind of his. How To Dress Well creates music that almost makes you feel uncomfortable and hesitant with it’s massive vulnerability, yet it also sounds intellectual and incredibly intimate. His album seems to ask so much from the listener without giving answers, but that mystery and secrecy somehow works in his favor. “Repeat Pleasure” sounds light, airy, and evocative, and Krell’s voice showcases the bittersweet and often times painful emotions that the feeling and mere idea of love can bring. “Repeat Pleasure” is from How To Dress Well’s new album “What Is This Heart?”, which was released earlier this year.

 

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Bleachers – “Like A River Runs”

strange-desireBleachers is the side project of Jack Antonoff, also known as the guitarist from the pop band Fun. This band, however, doesn’t sound anything like something that would come out of a Fun album, and that’s because it’s definitely gone the more indie route. There’s more complexity and vulnerability in Bleachers, and it lets the audience hear a different side of pop music. Their music attempts to appeal more to the kind that isn’t afraid to be unapologetic and adventurous. “Like A River Runs” sounds like the feel-good summer anthem of the year, thanks to it’s energetic beats and shimmering instrumentals. Bleachers, in my opinion, takes a page out of Passion Pit’s book and creates music that sounds optimistic and exuberant, but hides the feelings of desperation and rejection. However, Bleachers sounds more like the child of St. Lucia and Grouplove, making them definitely accessible, and they sure do know how to create stunning, festive tracks. “Like A River Runs” is from Bleachers’ upcoming album Strange Desire, which will be released on July 15th.

 

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Disclosure – “You & Me” (Flume Remix)

homepage_large.ccf8a276Flume, the recording name of Harley Edward Streten, is an electronic musician from Australia. Like most electronic artists, Flume mixes together strong, hazy, metallic sounding instrumental beats, a fast paced drumming track, and is, on occasion, accompanied by various singers with heavily textured voices. However, there’s just something about Flume that separates him from all the rest. His brilliant and thoughtful use of various samples and orchestral fillers create a delicate flow of emotion and energy, and that ideal only grows stronger with each of his tracks. Also, he’s only twenty-two years old, and already has an award winning debut album as well as an ARIA Best Male Artist award on his shoulders, which is incredibly impressive. He deserves it, of course, and he’s only solidified that reputation by showing off his talents in other areas of electronic music, including remixes. This remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me” is breathtaking and climactic, and shows off the incomparable abilities of both Disclosure and Flume together. It’s definitely a song that can be played on repeat for hours on end, and, effectively brings you right back around to Flume’s personal work, which is just as gorgeous. “You & Me” is included on the 2013 deluxe version of Flume’s self-titled album, which was originally released in 2012.

 

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FM Belfast – “Brighter Days”

FM Belfast - RELP037 - Vinyl Artwork - HalliFM Belfast is a five-piece indie band from Reykjavik, Iceland. Their unique electronic pop music has an eighties/nineties feel, with varying synth beats and poppy melodies, but is often times given a more modern approach and can be brightened up in an instant. In their song “Brighter Days,” a varying range of electronic techniques can be heard, such as a fast paced vocal track, complex instrumentals, and focused percussion that seems to raise the chorus up into the stratosphere. It’s definitely a song that’s full of surprises, and it’s so fun to listen to. “Brighter Days” is from FM Belfast’s album of the same name, which was released this year.

 

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Grouplove – “I’m With You”

unnamedGrouplove is known for their extremely energetic, whimsical, and incredibly colorful songs that completely encapsulate the human spirit and the desires for fun and adventure. It’s clear that each and every member of this band commits themselves entirely to this project, and their individual personalities and styles mesh well together. Their sweet harmonies mixed with the sharpness of the vocals create this dynamic ambiance, and it’s like listening to summertime. In this track titled “I’m With You,” there is something new in the background. This song is definitely worlds apart from their singles “Ways To Go,” “Tongue Tied,” and “Colours,” meaning that it’s softer and more delicate, or at least, softer for them. Nevertheless, it’s an amazing track, and it deserves to be played on any summer party or roadtrip. “I’m With You” is from Grouplove’s 2013 album Spreading Rumours, as well as their new single for 2014.

 

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Gorillaz – “El Mañana” (Song of the Week 6/24/2014)

Gorillaz_Demon_DaysGorillaz will forever be the most famous virtual band in the world to me. I adore each and every character and their varying personalities, and the way that they are drawn and the way they interact with each other in their own little virtual worlds is nothing short of perfection. However, there always has to be a recognizable voice and an actual human being behind these images, and that person is none other than Damon Albarn. His brilliant mind fuels these animated characters (with the help of Jamie Hewlett) and creates such an intricate story that is absolutely seamless in composition. Each and every song on Gorillaz’ three main albums are strikingly different, and with the help of various collaborators, each can be held on it’s own. Along with their singles “Feel Good Inc.”, “On Melancholy Hill”, and “Clint Eastwood,” there is also the sentimental track “El Mañana.” Here, the instrumentals are soft and soothing, but eerie, with a sharp, sour edge that gives the song such a dynamic feeling. It’s deep and powerful, and the acoustic version makes it definitely a Gorillaz song that just feels different in comparison, which is why it’s my song of the week. “El Mañana” is from Gorillaz’ second album Demon Days, which was released in 2005.

 

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The Family Crest – “Beneath the Brine”

TLE-045_HiThe Family Crest is an orchestral indie rock band from San Francisco. Their music is so unique and unbelievable. They intertwine the complex nature of classic orchestral music and modern day lyrics, and together they create something so expansive and passionate that it completely blew me away. The Family Crest is composed of seven main members, as well as several hundred other performers that collaborate with them on recordings. In this track titled “Beneath the Brine,” the beginning instrumentals are focused and incredibly impressive. It starts to build and expand with every passing second, adding on different instruments and melodies, and soon it turns into this wall of sound that refuses to collapse. The vocals (as well as the lyrics) are so strong and refined. It is, without a doubt, epic, and The Family Crest make sure to deliver with each and every track. It’s definitely an earful, and you might need a breather after listening, but it’s so worth it. “Beneath the Brine” is from The Family Crest’s album of the same name, which was released earlier this year.

 

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Lo-Fang – “Look Away”

413_c_w_450_h_450Lo-Fang is the recording name of multi-instrumentalist and singer Matthew Hemerlein. His music is new-age electronic, but with a smooth indie folk and R&B twist. He’s incredibly talented, considering that he can play bass, guitar, cello, piano, and violin, and the fact that every instrumental on his albums are played only by him. He creates the type of electronic music that borders on dance tracks and a sentimental pieces, but that contrast works in his favor in the long run. In this song titled “Look Away,” there seems to be just about everything embedded into it. In the beginning, there’s synth powered beats, pulsating vocals, and a fast paced melody. Then, towards the end, it slows down into a deeply personal orchestral masterpiece where Matthew Hemerlein’s violin and folk instrumental training really shines. “Look Away” is from Lo-Fang’s debut album Blue Film, which was released last year.

 

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