Tag Archives: bleachers

On Repeat – Mountain Goats and Bleachers

14 Apr

One of the ineluctable truths of having a music blog for so long is that you end up writing multiple posts about the same artist/band. This is not a negative, as this inevitability depicts the blogger’s music taste. So, it should come to no surprise to avid readers of The Music Court that the two artists whose new tracks are euphoniously blaring on repeat from my small, but surprisingly loud, portable speaker are The Mountain Goats and Bleachers. Both of these bands have found laudatory homes on this blog before, and this post will be no exception to that status.

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The Mountain Goats own Indie Rock. For more than two decades and now 16 studio albums, John Darnielle, the lyrical demigod and two-time author, and his band continue to shape and define quality Indie music, doing it better than any other artist over a longer period of time. It is their success that somewhat shapes their new release, Goths, which will be released on Merge records in May. The album, which features no guitars, pays tribute to bands who did not persist, whose tunes faded away. To promote and preview the album, the band released a track, “Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds,” and since its release in late February, I have listened to it more than a few times.

Above is a recent performance by John Darnielle of the track – with guitar although it is not used on the album. Andrew Eldritch is known by some as the Godfather of Goth; he is frontman for Gothic Rock band The Sisters of Mercy. Eldritch himself is a skilled lyricist, often making lyrical references in his pieces. Darnielle plays upon the melancholic (somewhat gothic) reality of time. The song begins set in a venue where we can suppose Eldritch is playing and the goers experience the “faint gust of hope” as they “meet up against” to “remember how it was” back in the day. The song continues with the motif of Eldritch moving back home without “parade” and “no big changes in the roadways.” It is a Darnielle special, a lugubriously realistic portrayal of how little changes, a keen, singular depiction of time transforming little but memories and age, all set to the tune of Darnielle’s creative rhythm.

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Jack Antonoff is quickly cementing himself as the pop/rock king of modern music. The multi-instrumentalist creator of Bleachers, Antonoff cut his teeth with Steel Train and Fun. His second LP, Gone Now, will be released on June 2, coming off the heels of his first LP Strange Desire, which featured the huge hits “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster.” His first single off of the new album, “Don’t Take the Money” (which features Lorde) is a quintessential example of Antonoff’s pop talent. The song is an earworm to the extreme, and it should come with a disclaimer: if you press play below you will listen to this song again and again and again.

So, what makes the song and Antonoff so good. It is the perfect, multifaceted blend of 80s music influences and the modern blend of wall-of-sound pop. The song features an immediate hook fit with reverbed synth and drums. It transitions into an echoed pre-chorus that drops to Antonoff’s far-off voice immediately falling into a pounding, blindingly catchy chorus that is almost unfair in its skill. It’s the time of chorus that makes the listener just go “yes, that is exactly what I have been waiting for.” I have blasted this song in my car on multiple occasions because of that chorus. Antonoff is utilizing so many musical influences to transform pop/rock. I, for one, am extremely pleased. The genre is in good hands.

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Top Albums of 2014 – #4: Strange Desire by Bleachers

21 Dec

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Back in November I lauded Bleachers as the purveyors of ridiculously catchy music that refused to leave the musical amalgamation that is my mind. My opinion of the band has not really changed; although, I must say that Jack Antonoff’s project has moved in my mind from just plain catchy to musically skilled and complex; Antonoff melds a theatrical pop sound fit with expeditious percussion and dulcet instrumentation with the essential quality of catchiness, which the songs most certainly have.

Bleachers released its debut LP Strange Desire in July of this year and several singles have been cherry picked from the album, each cherry perfectly ripe and delicious. Singles like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster” have hit the charts with a mini fervor, similar to Antonoff’s last uber-successful project (Fun). I think the songs have also just scratched the surface of popularity; in fact, I see a remarkably successful 2015 for Antonoff and his fellow bandmates.

Strange Desire is an 11-track affair with tracks featuring Grimes and Yoko Ono – yes, Yoko Ono. The first four tracks are all super hits in my mind; seriously, the tracks are each monumental jaunty pop pieces that get feet tapping and heads nodding. The ethereal, heavenly keys and 80s-esque harmony of “Wild Heart” is followed by the key-driven, percussion-soaked harmony-laden swooning “Rollercoaster,” which is the perfect hit-the-road-and-drive-anywhere song. This is followed by an Arcade Fire-like “Shadow,” which moves with a creative rhythm section and ends with a twangy guitar riff that leads into this:

“I Wanna Get Better,” which is one of the best songs of the year, is a melodic agglutination of anthem vocals, sprawling harmonies, infectious keys, and rock-out percussion. The song just kicks some much butt, and it is tempting to just listen to it on repeat. Plus, I must say it fits the New Years theme quite well because doesn’t everyone want to get better.

Check out more from Bleachers on its website, Facebook, or Twitter.

We All Want to Get Better

2 Nov

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Jack Antonoff is no stranger to catchy music. Not many realize that the creator of 2014’s hands-down alt/rock summer anthem “Rollercoaster” is the same bespectacled musician stage-left to Nate Reuss in Fun’s 280 million views mega-hit “We Are Young.” He was also the lead singer-songwriter of the Indie staple Steel Train and has helped pen some recent tunes like “Brave” by Sara Bareilles and “Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift. It is really no surprise that his less than a year old project Bleachers released its first album Strange Desire to immediate chart success in the summer. Now, as the weather grows colder (at least in the northeast), Bleachers is kicking butt on a nation-wide tour, and I still cannot get “I Wanna Get Better” out of my head.

Released back in February as the band’s first single, “I Wanna Get Better” is a jaunty ode to the innate human desire to get better. The song is carried by a sputtered piano riff over persistent percussion. Antonoff’s desperate whine carries verses of jumbled and creative lyrics to theatrical chorus’ where musicians literally stand on the “overpass screaming at the cars” and sing “I wanna get better.” The best part of the song is the “screaming” bridge that leads into a buzzy guitar solo that distorts on top of a whirlwind of sound. The song is brought back to reality by Green Day-like power chords and then swings right back to the catchy-as-hell chorus. Hey, we all want to get better, but this song does not have much room to grow.

Personally, I know I have to get better about posting more consistently. Life as a first-year teacher has been time consuming to say the least, and I want to take the opportunity to thank Zoe, who has done a magical job keeping the blog afloat. Stay tuned for more tunes as always!

Check out more of Bleachers at the website, Facebook, or Twitter

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