Monday, July 26, 2010

The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

If you've followed Swedish pop outfit the Radio Dept. at all through the last few years, you're well aware by now that the group is not afraid to try new things. Although the catalogue includes only three full-length albums, each release marks new directions the band has taken during its career; from the lo-fi shoegaze of 2003's Lesser Matters to the 80s-inspired fuzz-pop of 2006's Pet Grief, the Radio Dept. are known for experimenting with their sound. Here's the fundamental question, however: why change a reliable and ultimately satisfying formula? If it isn't broken, in other words, why "fix" it?

Yes, the Radio Dept. have used perfectly successful devices on each album for creating atmospheric melodies and charming hooks - approaches that didn't necessarily require altering or improving. They don't seem interested in change for the sake of change, though; rather, any adjustments in sound have helped forward the band's natural evolution. On their third album, Clinging to a Scheme, for instance, it is evident that the band is continuing to mature organically, retaining their idiosyncratic sensibilities but adopting new techniques that complement and expand upon them. That is, while their newest release is wholly distinct from previous efforts, it is unmistakably a Radio Dept. album.

Every song still highlights the airy, gorgeous, and seemingly effortless vocals associated with the Radio Dept. - arguably their greatest strength as a band - and the dreamy quality of their sound is still safely intact. Furthermore, their unique and subtle brand of shoegaze continues to underlie their melodies in songs like "This Time Around," "The Video Dept.," and "Four Months in the Shade," as if paying homage, in playful twee fashion, to bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain and New Order. This time around, however, many of their tracks are accented by sunny Balearic beats and rhythms, namely the delightful and catchy "Heaven's on Fire," an effect that brings to mind fellow Swedish acts like jj, the Tough Alliance, and Air France (jumping on that bandwagon was inevitable, I suppose). And album highlight "Never Follow Suit" even samples reggae stylings - while the excellent "David" forwards a type of 90s house-funk.

That being said, sampling such new, disparate styles and proving their willingness to mature musically - while staying true to their original vision - makes Clinging to a Scheme their most exciting album to date. It's as dense as it is light and breezy, and in only ten songs the Radio Dept. leave an indelible impression that will likely resonate and lend itself to many of 2010's "best" lists. And even though it's too early to predict a release date for the group's fourth release, I'm already curious about the direction it will take.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hipster Youth - Teenage Elders

A few weeks ago I received an email from Aiden Wall, who is fondly known in the music world as Dublin's Hipster Youth. I immediately delved into his catalogue, intrigued at his ability to craft a type of straightforward electro-pop that is as simple as it is complex. And even though life - busy as it can be sometimes - has done its best to keep me from updating here at Things as They Are, I'm just as pumped about his latest release, Teenage Elders, now as I was when I first heard it.

Wall calls his outfit a "a lo-fi dance experiment." And to an extent that is true; the constant beats and strong melodies make his sound danceable and just plain fun, and at times the delivery and vocals, when he decides to use them, have that cassette-tape quality. However, his songs are also very clean and tight, offering hooks through masterful production techniques - echoing artists that range from Kumon Plaza to Crystal Castles. Synths are complemented with quirky Nintendo-era bleeps and blips, in other words, and it all somehow blends successfully.

I'm not sure if his moniker is meant to be taken ironically or sincerely - and I suppose it doesn't really matter. The songs are fresh, and his pure approach to pop is exciting. Download the album for free here, or buy a copy through Long Lost.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Rain Mix

Ready for another summer compilation? Check out this rad mix from the cool people at No Modest Bear. The mix, wonderfully titled "Summer Rain," features new music from killer acts like Panda Bear, the Fruhstucks, and Shine 2009.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gutter Parties - "Sashi"

Check out the video for "Sashi," a groovy little track from Saul Latham, aka Gutter Parties.

Barely over two minutes long, the song accomplishes a lot in such a short period of time; as the hushed banjo moans through ambient drones, Wavves-like vocals pierce the almost hypnotic tribal beats. And even though "Sashi" seems to have little in common with its video counterpart, the combination somehow works.

"Sashi" is from Latham's EP, Marooned, which can be downloaded here for free. Keep your eyes on this promising act; I predict good things.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hard Mix - "Memories" Video

South Carolinian Noah Smith, aka Hard Mix, just released a video for "Memories," a hazy dance track he recently debuted at Strangers in Stereo. Mirroring the song nicely, the video is a nostalgic collection of clips from Smith's youth - images that recall life's simple but most enduring pleasures.

Like a lot of the music coming out of the Carolinas these days, Smith's sound is characterized by its DIY bedroom-pop aesthetic and hook-laden undertones; "Memories" is just the latest offering from his already amazing catalogue. Keep your eyes peeled for his forthcoming full-length that is due later this year.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Matching Talons

Before receiving an email from this band recently, I knew little about Matching Talons. Since then, however, I've been blown away by the New Jersey act's explosive take on indie rock.

Though their sound has more in common with garage rock than anything else, it's unique in its ambient approach. That is, they avoid any tired formulas for creating distorted, grungy tunes and take their sound in another more promising and exciting direction. I'm immediately reminded of a similar act like HEALTH, artists who still appreciate rock but aren't afraid to experiment with it.

Download their two-song release for free here, and turn that shit up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Deruchette - "You..."

Finland's Deruchette have been under my radar for a while now. Their quiet sense of melody piqued my curiosity a few weeks ago, and since then I've come to appreciate this band's potential - and their already impressive brand of minimalist pop.

With "You...," for instance, the self-released track that can be downloaded here, Deruchette combine guitar work reminiscent of early Animal Collective offerings with echoed vocal and melody work that would be more at home on a How to Dress Well or Bon Iver album.

It's a short but stunning track, and more importantly, it lends itself well to repeated listens (preferably with headphones). But don't stop there; while you're at it, check out some more of their free jams: "Yet Another Mess" and "Theme Tune to a Repetitive But Happy Life."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Persona La Ave - "Beach"

Fellow South Carolinian Dylan Dawkins, aka Persona La Ave, just released a video for "Beach," a dreamy little track of his that's been floating around for a while now. The video complements the song well; as it unfolds, dated clips of waves and beach bums float by seamlessly and beautifully.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sleigh Bells - Carrboro, NC - 7/6/10

Com Truise - "Sundriped" Video

There's now an awesome fan video for my favorite track, "Sundriped," from Com Truise's EP, Cyanide Sisters. The perfectly retro video fits the song nicely; vintage surfing clips complement the track's breezy, atmospheric nod to music from another decade. Download the rest of the EP from AMDISCS here (you'll thank me later).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Devices Disguised - True Tides EP

Royal Rhino Flying just released Kyle Warden's, aka Devices Disguised, newest EP - True Tides - last month, and it has quickly grown on me ever since.

Warden records subtle but infectious electronic jams, all of which highlight his ability to manipulate and blend interesting production styles; waves of ambient synths, percussion, and strings float around gracefully to create a unique listening experience.

Purchase the EP here and download his previous release, Yonder EP, for free here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Solid Melts' Summer Compilation

The awesome folks at Solid Melts (i.e., Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, Horses, Expo 70, etc.) just released their summer compilation, An Empire of Fun. The mix, which includes killer acts like CVLTS, Katrina Stonehart, Cloud Nothings, and Julian Lynch, is up now for free download. Check it, ya'll!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Light Leak - Thoughts of Mirth

Here's some music to enjoy during your holiday weekend: Germany's Henrik Stelter, aka Light Leak.

Thoughts of Mirth, his self-released and free EP, offers an interesting brand of "chillwave"; it moves gracefully from one 80s-inspired, electronic track to the next but does so with a distinct ambient sensibility. It's atmospheric music, in other words, but the beats and underlying pop leanings keep it interesting.

Cookout music? Why not? Download and enjoy.