Hey Now – Matt and Kim’s New Glow

21 Mar


Matt and Kim has always been known for wacky antics and effervescent pop music. New Glow, Matt and Kim’s fifth full-length will not be any different; the Brooklyn duo who met while attending Pratt Institute is keeping power pop alive.

“Hey Now”,  which features a minimalistic video of the duo dancing maniacally with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, is a testament to the genre of percussion-laden, horn-heavy pop. Matt and Kim has a penchant for creating opening notes that latch on to a listener’s ears like super glue. If you are a fan of vocal-heavy pop, you just cannot turn the song off and before you know it the song has already repeated 4-5 times. The tracks are short and effective.

Is Matt and Kim for everyone. No, no band is for everyone. However, an attribute I have always respected about the band is its knowledge of who it is. Matt and Kim may change up the notes, but the duo is never going to explore the unfamiliar realm of not creating fun, jocular tracks that listeners can sing along to easily.

The video is just … so … happy! It’s tough to watch it without smiling. That innate joyousness in the music is infectious. Do I love all power poppy music? No. But Matt and Kim has some special quality to the music that makes me want to listen constantly. In “Hey Now,” it is a mix between the segmented vocal chanting, clickity percussion, and the chanted lyric. The song is anthemic, a piece that could easily be the concluding track of a Broadway play or movie … where everything ends well of course. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the new album, which I’m sure will be muy divertido.

“Believe” by Mumford & Sons – 3 million views and disappointing

15 Mar

It’s important we get this point out of the way early: I do like Mumford & Sons. Sigh No More was a folk-rock revelation; an ode to crescendoing banjos and acoustic guitars that was paired so nicely with powerful lead vocals that it was similar to a fine wine and food pairing. Every song went down smoothly. Was there inherent self-style repetition in the tunes? Of course. It is no secret that Mumford & Sons change some chords around and follow the same exact pattern in mostly every song: slowly rising power fit with a climactic crash of all instruments at the end of a piece. But that was OK. The music was rich in sound and ebullient. It was the pinnacle of the newer folk/rock movement. And, 5 years later and tremendous success behind them, the band has dropped the banjo, added an electric guitar, and have abandoned the folky sound in favor of mainstream Coldplay-like tunes, which works for Coldplay, of course, but sounds mightily contrived for a band that once yelled “I really f*cked it up” in a fast-paced angry folk song.

But evolution is good in music, Matt. Doesn’t this just show that the band is not willing to follow the same pattern in its songs. This would be true if it were indeed reflective of the song. Listen to it. Instead of slow acoustic instrumentation, the song starts with an ethereal piano that basically replaces the string instrumentation. It is a 2-minute “Fix You”-like piece that lulls the listener to musical sleep. Then, a weird out-of-place electric guitar solos over some drums, and the song turns to a mainstream pop/rock song, a trope overdone by SO many bands. Mumford & Sons has abandoned its originality in favor of a type of music and the band is clearly not adept with it.

Maybe I just don’t get it, and remember this is just one person’s opinion. However, I’m not loving it, and if this is the direction of the new album, it’s a real shame.

Modest Medley: Briars Frome, Snowbride, and Clive Tanaka

12 Mar

Hey, can everyone just shut up for a second and listen to these? This medley features music that will calm you, soothe you, and perhaps even heal you. Don’t fight it, just relax and settle in for a few minutes; you’ll be glad you did.

Snowbride – “Rooftop Islands”                                                       

Southern beatmakers, Snowbride takes mind-melt psych rock and pairs it with droning synths. Blissed out and worn, “Rooftop Islands” has its own hazy sheen.

Find Snowbride on Facebook, tumblr, YouTube, and Bandcamp.

Briars Frome – s/t EP

This is a little darker. Briars Frome creates a landscape with the sounds they knit together. Slow and purposeful, the opening track of their EP “(No) Welcome to Briars Frome,” opens up with fuzzy percussion and humble guitars. They really make thunderclaps work as music, which probably isn’t something you hear every day. The rest of the release follows suit, so be sure to give it a listen in full on their Bandcamp.

Find Briars Frome on tumblr.

Clive Tanaka y su orquesta

My beloved Clive Tanaka. Tanaka is a reclusive Japanese electronic artist that hasn’t really ever been “active” in the music scene. Or at least, I’ve never heard a peep out of him since his masterpiece, Jet Set Siempre 1o. This album was a hit at my college radio station, and “Neu Chicago” was our most popular song for years. Nothing can top those steel drums and underwater vocals.

I hope you don’t want any more information on Clive Tanaka. He has nothing on the web except for a very outdated website, so you could do well to just Google him and see what comes up.

Belongs in a Museum: Monuments and Statues reveal debut album Fractals

9 Mar

Monuments and statues Photo

There is a very important reason why Freelance Whales is my favorite band: prolific banjo-manship. I do not know why, but I just love banjos in all their plucky glory. My earliest banjo memory is when I was a kid watching Steve Martin on SNL perform a silly tune called “Late For School” where he played that glorious instrument. I was hooked. Monuments and Statues’ debut album, Fractals, features prominently a banjo, so, needless to say, I’ve been listening to it on repeat.

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Do you feel set free?

4 Mar


GRRL PAL are back with another new single for February, “Set Free.” This is a slower track than I’m used to with these Aussies, but it is mesmerizing. Be set free below.

There are a lot of good elements here that come together seamlessly. Cooing in the background provides a backdrop for the real question- do you feel set free? Throughout, there is a spatial drone, mixed with sparing synth. This song could be on loop for hours, and I think I’d be okay with that. At some point it simply becomes part of the background, not demanding your attention, but unable to be ignored.

“Set Free” will be the closing track on GRRL PAL’s next EP due out in April. Find out more on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud.


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