Battery Point – “Wonder”

Back in late June, California based quartet Battery Point released Star, the follow up EP to last year’s self-titled debut. Despite the album’s brevity, the three tracks it houses hold enough power, desire, and anguish to fill the space, evoking everything from the shoegaze, indie emo, and alternative rock. “Wish” and “Clear” both brood and glare on the surface due to its instrumentals, but also house a soft vulnerability, both from the intertwining of Jessica Severns’s bright, piercing vocals and Sergio Esparza’s deep, brooding tone. We can’t help but hear Smiths undertones in closer “Wonder,” perhaps due to the wonderful juxtaposition of Severns’s flinty voice and the fast, unrelenting drums and steady, expertly balanced guitars. Hopefully this will lead to something bigger from the quartet in the future – they clearly have much more to offer the world of indie rock.

 

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photo courtesy of artist

The Strokes – “Threat of Joy”

Earlier today, The Strokes announced the release of their brand new EP Future Present Past, and also shared its three track in consecutive order, being the dynamic “OBLIVIUS,” the deep, sharp “Drag Queen,” and the strong, passionate “Threat of Joy.” The third is definitely the most mellow and reminiscent of The Strokes’ signature sound, although all three are stellar. Juilian Casablancas’ vocals are gorgeously lethargic, contrasting nicely with bright, peppy instrumentals. It is unclear if this will lead to a full-length album in the future, but at least we can take comfort knowing that The Strokes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Future Present Past will be released June 3rd.

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photo via consequence of sound (original source unknown)

Monday Mixtape – Late Night

Hey everyone! I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting playlists recently. I’ve been busier than usual with school and I haven’t really had the precious time to compile these playlists as in depth as before. I love doing them just as much as my regular posts, but I just figured I’d focus on quality rather than quantity. Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this new mix! It has some songs I’ve really been enjoying at the moment, including tracks by Ought, Title Fight, and Portico.

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Album Review: Title Fight – Hyperview

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Pennsylvania punk rockers Title Fight have always had a reputation for taking punk music seriously, meaning that each track they have released was anything but simple. It was aggressive and tenacious, with a lead foot on the gas pedal. However, in their upcoming album Hyperview, things get remarkably slower and more fantastical, with a small emphasis on the attributes of water and the feelings of being submerged. The punk components are still there, although not quite as potent, allowing a wider range of listeners to become enchanted with the band, something that I am glad to say turned me over to their music. Opener “Murder Your Memory” lets you know right off the bat that this hushed, muted overtone takes over quite a bit of the time, allowing for that change to seep through. “Your Pain Is Mine Now” explores that hazy, almost dream pop style more with the brief entrance of grooves and waves, also showcasing more of lead singer Jamie Rhoden and his gorgeously haunting voice. The best part of that track is when the electronic synth kicks in around the end, and the supersonic nature of it moves in and out, almost giving off the feelings of being submerged over and over again. However, there is the more upbeat, classic punk style rock in this album as well, although, again, in a more palatable way. The raw, unhinged track “Hypernight” and especially the absolute stunner “Rose of Sharon” evoke the same energy Title Fight understood in their past two albums, and the pure acidity and metallic tasting instrumentals are what makes them powerful. “Dizzy” and “Liar’s Love” are filled with sunshine, so much so in fact that I can’t help comparing them to tracks by Wild Nothing, another artist that is fantastically skilled at creating these hazy, gauzy, and magical sounds. And of course, the heaviest, most complex track is stunner “Rose of Sharon,” which does a remarkable task of bringing together the feelings of hard and soft, which creates a tension almost beautifully unrecognizable. Hyperview does a fantastic job of balancing out their aggressive, punk-inspired tracks from their softer, more delicate ones, and it’s what makes this album remarkable. In fact, the absolute best track of the album is “Chlorine”, the one that takes the fervid, clashing instrumentals of Title Fight’s own guidebook and intertwines it with these absolutely gorgeous vocals that seem to be the driving force. It glimmers and shimmers, despite its ongoing battle with guitars that drone on and drums that seem to ignite with every pound. It’s an absolute masterpiece, and stands apart from the rest of the album for sure.

Title Fight did hint at change for their third album, and that change is more than apparent. It shows an evolution and a maturation of character and taste, and sometimes it’s this risk that propels a band even further. I can see why some might give this album a low scoring because it’s not the same as they once liked it to be, and that’s highly understandable. However, as a new fan of the band and someone who has listened to their last two albums briefly, I feel that this change was just a way to explore newer interests. Don’t be alarmed though. Title Fight is still a punk band, albeit one that isn’t afraid to dive headfirst into unknown waters.

Hyperview will be released on February 3rd.

9.2/10

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Album Review: Fear of Men – Loom

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From the name of the band to the smooth, mellow guitar sounds that seem to intertwine between listlessly sung words, it’s clear that Fear of Men deal mostly with the darker, lonelier side of the world, but with enough spark to be known exclusively as an alt-pop band. At first listen their debut album Loom may seem like a fantastical journey through ideas like nature and love and the severity of life, yet underneath it all, it’s apparent that these sweetly sung words are actually through clenched teeth. This actually plays out quite well for the band as a whole, giving them a rare grunge, yet transcendental effect that sounds both unsettling and gorgeous. Opener “Alta” holds true to the album’s title – it looms and stalks slowly, with Jessica Weiss’s vocals hovering, only to be swallowed up with the guitars that open track “Waterfall.” The lethargic vocals and the drone of synth and keys turn this into quite a dark track, even though the lyrics may say otherwise. “Green Sea” is a lovely ballad, and Weiss’s vocals are so crisp and smooth it’s as if you’re being plunged into those glossy green waters themselves. It’s a contender to “Descent” as the best track of the album, and serves as it’s cousin in a way. “Green Sea” is as whimsical as it gets with Fear of Men, while “Descent” explores the more dismal sides of that same emotion. It seems to relate more to the experience of leaving someone who is truly your other half for purely personal reasons. The Brighton band is skilled at taking these negative feelings and putting them up against instrumentals reminiscent of the Smiths and other bands like them. It’s melodic and lovely, but then make you think and take a closer listen (see “Tephra”). It’s here that over thinking is actually a good thing, something that shouldn’t really occur in music. “Luna” sounds strong and forceful, with a delicate edge that reminds me a little of Snakadaktal or even bits and pieces of New Order, Depeche Mode, and Erasure. It’s bizarre, I know, but there’s something about it and the band themselves that seem lost in time. The only complaints I would have for the album itself would be the tendency of the subject matter to repeat itself along with some of the instrumentals, and the parts that can be a bit dry, which I’m sure just comes with the frivolity and naivety of a debut album. It’s clear the band is still working on those feelings, and the attempt makes up for the lack in a way. “Inside” balances out the dainty instrumentals with heavier ones, and joins “Descent” in that idea. Closer “Atla,” ironically, serves as the mirror image of “Alta,” and ends the album on a slow, soft, albeit heavy tone.

Overall, Loom is well constructed, and the connection to water and nature is apparent and effective, leaving one to contemplate how those physical things relate to the more metaphysical, whether that be love or some other force entirely.

7.5/10

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Caverns – “Ghosts”

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New York based band Caverns are relatively new in the indie/alternative music scene, and have recently released their track “Ghosts.” There are some really nice melodies and impressive work with synth, and the vocals are wonderful as well. The most interesting part of the song is where it crescendos into full-on hysteria for a minute or so before returning to a mellow sound reminiscent of Muse and the 1975.

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Best of 2014: Songs

2014 has been such an amazing year for music. I’ve discovered so many awesome new bands, albums, and songs, and I’ve had so much fun documenting it all with this blog. I’ve planned to treat today and the whole of next week to highlight the best songs and albums of 2014, and share what really shined and stuck with me as the year rolled on. Regular posts will start up again in 2015. Bear in mind that these songs are my personal choices, so I’d love to hear your comments below as to what you felt were the best songs of 2014. Here we go!

10. Parquet Courts – “Instant Disassembly”

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American punk band Parquet Courts impressed with the release of their third album Sunbathing Animal, and this song seemed to go by it’s own rules. The lethargic, tired vocals of Andrew Savage merge well with the repeated guitar melody that seems to similarly lurch forward on it’s own volition. Parquet Courts have always been one of the more introspective, intelligent punk bands I have heard, and this track just solidified my fascination with them.

9. Alvvays – “Party Police”

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The guitar melody that opens this song is so enticingly addictive, and when Molly Rankin comes in to provide a delicate, charming narrative, the result is something beautifully nostalgic and reminiscent of a love lost. It’s whimsical, much like a few other tracks on their self-titled debut album, and it goes hand in hand with their more demonstrative, serious singles “Archie, Marry Me,” and “Adult Diversion.” However, I picked this track mainly because there’s a delicate balance of cutesy and thoughtful, and that constant interaction is what Alvvays is in a nutshell.

8. Pillar Point – “Eyeballs”

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I enjoyed Pillar Point’s self titled debut album quite a lot this year, especially the stand out track “Eyeballs.” The eighties vibe it actively evokes is outstanding, and everything from the jumpy instrumentals to the metallic, buzzing synth beats help to make it a gem among the rest of the already stunning album, and among his other outstanding tracks like “Cherry” and the equally metallic and intergalactic “Dreamin'”. Scott Reitherman’s vocals seem to be heavily textured just like the instrumentals surrounding him, and the vintage feel of it all is nothing short of wonderful.

7. Elephant – “Shapeshifter”

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When this single was first released, I think I went ahead and listened to it on repeat for hours and hours. I was entranced by the hypnotizing, swelling orchestral harmonies that introduce the start of the song, and Amelia Rivas has such a gorgeous voice that it’s so hard to stop listening. There’s a soft, noire feeling to the track as a whole, almost as if you’re imagining everything in black and white. I loved this fragile, delicate composition, almost like it houses a shackled, beaten down adrenaline that could burst out at any given second. Their album Sky Sailing is absolutely breathtaking, and it’s worth a thorough listen.

6. Alt-J – “Bloodflood pt. II”

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This Is All Yours showed that Alt-J has gone in a slightly different direction than their last album, and even though there are some moments that could have been more intuitive, it is still a highly impressive album. “Bloodflood pt. II” was my favorite from the experimental album because it reminded me of the feelings that Alt-J gave me in the past – a sense of warmth and comfort, with an added feeling of familiarity. Joe Newman’s voice is a lovely oddity, and I love deciphering the lyrics just as much as I enjoy the stunning instrumentals that accompany them.

5. Wild Beasts – “A Simple Beautiful Truth”

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Wild Beasts and their album Present Tense have continuously been one of my favorite bands and albums of the year, and this track is proof of their marvelous construction and overall finesse. As if the lucid repeated melody that this song stands on isn’t gorgeous enough, the vocals of guitarist Hayden Thorpe and bassist Tom Fleming intertwine to become an unbreakable force. The simplicity yet unbelievable dynamic feeling of their tracks nowadays is absolutely amazing, and I love the direction that they’ve taken.

4. Temples – “The Golden Throne”

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I love anything to do with the sixties and seventies, so when psychedelic indie band Temples released their album Sun Structures, I was all over it. Some say that the band is trying a little too hard to pin down those iconic groovy feelings, but with an added emphasis on ancient Egyptian symbols and culture, I’d say that Temples is doing just fine remaining loyal to the genre yet still maintaining something fresh and new. “The Golden Throne” was a tough track to pick out of the amazing tracks on the album, but I picked it because of the story it tells and the catchy nature of it’s lyrics.

3. Favela – “Easy Yoke”

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This song will definitely be on most of my personal playlists for years and years to come. Every time I hear the glorious orchestral introduction, it captures me in it’s clutches. The 21 year old musician and singer has really proved his worth with his recently released EP, where other beautiful tracks like “Sunlight” and “Throne” take center stage. There’s a layer of warmth and desire that flows through “Easy Yoke,” however, and that is what makes me come back for more.

2. Glass Animals – “Gooey”

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Glass Animals’ debut album Zaba has been one of my absolute favorites this year, and the exotic, jungle like ideas it embraces has been a crazy, yet highly enjoyable ride. The lyrics are strange, but that’s what makes the band that much more untouchable – they go on to discuss ideas that need time to be understood – and I feel that because of this, they have become so popular. “Gooey” is actually the track that stands out from the rest of the album, because I feel it’s a bit more introspective and highly complex than say it’s counterparts “Black Mambo” or “Pools.” Dave Bayley’s sensual voice is magic with the synthesized piano tones that envelop it, and it’s a track that lets me hear something new every time I listen to it.

1. Cloud Castle Lake – “Sync”

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I had to pick “Sync” as my number one track of 2014 because there is simply nothing else in the world like it. The Dublin trio has impressed me in such a way I never expected, especially in the intricate instrumentals and the unique, beyond falsetto vocals that’s embraced in “Sync” as well as other tracks like “Dandelion.” This song is definitely an acquired taste, and listening to it is like a journey into another world. There’s elements of jazz with a modern twist, and it’s sung with such passion and energy that it’s hard not to enjoy the route it takes you on. With each listen it gets better and better, and you start to notice the little details that, in my opinion, makes this song the absolute best of this past year. I love it with all my heart and I never get tired of listening to it.

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Introducing: Album Reviews

Hey guys! Let me just take a moment to thank all of you for following this blog. It really means a lot to me that you guys are reading my words and taking the time to indulge me in my own personal music taste, which I know is all over the place.

That being said, I’d like to introduce something new to kidwithavinyl: album reviews! Starting today, I’ll review newly released albums by different bands each week and give each one a rating out of 10. Like everything I post on here, the genres will range between indie, punk, alternative, and experimental, by well known artists as well as ones just starting out.

Don’t worry, I’ll still do Band Appreciation Fridays, but just not quite as often. I’d like to try my hand at reviewing whole albums, and make this blog as diverse as possible. We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks again for following kidwithavinyl! Happy listening.

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