Husbands and wives tend to make pretty good music together. See: Sony and Cher, Wings, Sonic Youth, Mates of State, Arcade Fire and about a million other acts, including Cedar Avenue. The Twin Cities band is led by Jessie and Derrin Mathews who, along with their bandmates, craft plaintive and ethereal indie pop. “7 Years” unfurls with a tambourine rattle, lapping acoustic guitars and the charming back and forth of boy-girl harmonies. Electric guitars, pounding tambourines and pummeled drums ratchet up the urgency on “Up North,” while a scattershot beat picks up the pace on “Tuesday.” The diaphanous “After All” acts as a panacea to those hot flashes, smoothing over ruffled emotions with sailing falsettos, ebbing guitars and the treacle of a glockenspiel. Once you’ve heard the dreamy and dynamic melodies of Cedar Avenue, you’ll be a fan till death do you part.
Taking into consideration Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon’s recent separation, the future of Sonic Youth has been unknown for months. Last night’s show at the SWU Music and Arts Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil was the last on their website and no statement about future plans have been announced or revealed. You can view video from the show of the band performing “Death Valley ’69″ after the jump.
Even if this is the end of Sonic Youth’s live run, that doesn’t necessarily rule out future studio albums. I know the future looks bleak to fans, but try and stay positive until we have more definite answers. We’ll let you know as soon as anything changes.
View original article on Under The Gun Review.
The Brooklyn-based trio Grooms debuted in 2010 with the album Rejoicer, prompting members of the press to haul out wheelbarrows full of references to ‘90s alt rock, with Pavement and Sonic Youth taking up the most room in the cart. Bandleader Travis Johnson admits that those comparisons were not completely without merit, but his band has moved into other realms with the follow-up, Prom. “On this album we definitely moved away from some of the more classic ‘80s and ‘90s American indie-rock influences we’ve used before,” he explains, “We weren’t really thinking of those bands at all when we were making this record… They were probably fairly accurate [as comparisons] before, but they seem less accurate to me now.”
Where Rejoicer bore a relatively straightforward production style that put the focus squarely on Johnson’s off-kilter guitar arithmetic, Prom is a shadowy record that plays a constant game of sonic hide-and-seek, offering flashes of rich textures that retreat evanescently before you can sink your teeth into them; it boasts a more 3-D approach to the recording process, turning the sounds emitted by Johnson, Emily Ambruso and Jim Sykes into a ghost army of funhouse-mirror reflections, teeming with complex textures and caroming constantly from bristling discord to fragile beauty and back again. So what was in Johnson’s Soundcloud during the making of Prom? “For this record we were listening more to things like Broadcast or Tortoise or Peter Gabriel or something,” he says. The post-rock references ring true, and what’s more, there’s a quality to the album that recalls the try-anything aesthetic of other, nearly forgotten ’90s acts of that ilk, like Long Fin Killie and Moonshake.
But there’s one influence that has left a deeper mark on Johnson’s songs than any band could, and that’s his ongoing struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Johnson has let it be known that much of his music is colored by his experiences with OCD, but going public with that kind of personal information wasn’t a snap decision for him. “I actually did have hesitations about it,” he says, “not because I care about people knowing things like that about me, but because I hate when people exploit things like that. I think I was actually talking to my mom, who also has OCD, and she was just talking about how it’s not exploitative to talk about where the songs are coming from, which is largely through this really thick lens of OCD.”
Ask a music fan in their late 30s or 40s – preferably one stuck in their formidable years, and not an old hipster – to define “indie rock” as a sound, and you’ll unquestionably hear some semblance of these words: Loud. Abrasive. Anti-Authority. Forward-thinking. Think about indie-rock forebears, and some may even call them unlistenable: Sonic Youth reveled in noise; Lou Reed couldn’t sing to save his life; Michael Stipe’s lyrics made no sense. And yet, in the past few years, an unmistakable trend’s emerged that’s made indie rock something entirely different – in a word, beautiful.
That trend is harmony, the melding of vocals singing different notes to create a full, hopefully gorgeous chord. Admittedly, harmony has been a trait of indie rock since the early years (Kim Deal and Frank Black dabbled, as did Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl) but only recently has it become an indie-rock trademark, rather than a side note. Blame (or thank) The Shins, whose “New Slang” made Natalie Portman swoon and Zach Braff famous six years ago, opened the door to indie-rock sensitivity in a way it’d never been opened before.
Only in the last couple of years has harmony become zeitgeist-y, though. First came the Fleet Foxes, the ultra-hyped, superbly bearded Seattle band whose atmospheric, folksy “Sun Giant” was the toast of 2008, thanks to singer Robert Pecknold’s harmonizing with all of his band mates to create glorious, seemingly impossible vocal collosi that are at once overwhelming and majestic. Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear broke out last year with “Veckatimest,” which took the Fleet Foxes lushness and weirded it up, the group-sings so striking, they won the band the top spot on the Wall Street Journal’s list of the best records of 2009. And now, Angelenos Local Natives take the trend a step further, with the foursome bringing the fuzz of electric guitars (and the jumpy rhythms of bands like the Talking Heads) to the party, busting out three-and-sometimes-four part harmonies that’re both electrifying and soothing, occasionally simultaneously. Listening to them – or any of their predecessors – may not be an anti-authority statement the way, say, listening to Iggy was in 1972, but so what: who needs attitude when you can have lusciousness, instead?
Jeff Miller is the LA editor of Thrillist.com and has been writing about music professionally for over a decade for publications including the Los Angeles Times, Relix, and Esquire.com.
Here at OurStage HQ, the summer has hit us hard. It’s too hot to move, but also too hot to sit still. What could be a better soundtrack for the stifling heat, humidity and restless energy of the dog days of summer than that classic Stooges track “I Wanna Be Your Dog”? A timeless testament to anger and alienation, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” still resonates with fans and musicians even 40 years after its release. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite versions below:
Sonic Youth – 1983′s Confusion Is Sex saw the band combining their noise-tastic original “Freezer Burn” with “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” There is only one word to describe Sonic Youth’s take: Vicious.The distortion and fuzz of “Freezer Burn” leads into the familiar riff and all hell breaks loose. Kim Gordon’s vocals are simultaneously intense, raw, sexy and terrifying. Sonic Youth definitely hold their own against The Stooges, which is no small feat. For the noise averse, I’ve included a “Freezer Burn” – less version in the video below:
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – From Tommy James and The Shondelles to Gary Glitter, Jett & company really know how to make a cover song their own. While it’s more polished than the original or the Sonic Youth version, Jett’s trademark vocals provide the necessary grit. Fun fact: The Stooges’ version of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is the soundtrack to the infamous Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett / Dakota Fanning as Cherie Curry kissing scene in the 2010 movie The Runaways.
Ida Maria – This Norwegian indie import is no stranger to The Stooges — Iggy Pop himself duet-ed with the singer on a re-release of “Oh My God,” from her 2008 album Fortress Round My Heart — so it’s no surprise that Maria chose to cover “I Wanna Be Your Dog” as part of her 2009 Lollapalooza set. Fierce footage of Ida Maria stalking the stage below:
As we all know, music is a roller-coaster of a business. Bands are hot one minute and cold the next, and the same holds true for music festivals. But one fest in particular has latched onto a genre and held tight, evolving to meet the needs of its audience in multiple ways. This year, The Bamboozle festival is taking place May 1st and 2nd, and we’ll be there in the heart of New Jersey to give you all the juicy details. But first, let’s take a look at the development of a festival that caters to a very dedicated yet hard-to-please crowd.
In 2003, The Great Bamboozle was born at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. Acts included The Roots, Keller Williams and Dark Star Orchestra and featured 4 stages. The Great Bamboozle called the Stone Pony home for the next 2 years and brought on bigger players like Sonic Youth, moe. and Galactic, as well as adding 2 more stages. In 2005, the event was reborn as The Bamboozle. Brand New was originally scheduled to headline but was forced to cancel and Thrice took over. This baby festival hadn’t yet found its footing.
Fast forward to 2006. The Bamboozle solidifies its place in emo history after moving just over an hour to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford and then clear across the country to Pomona, California for The Bamboozle Left. With stages like the “Hurley/Hot Topic Stage,” “Riot Squad/Macbeth Stage” and the “Smart Punk Stage” and added talent like Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance, the festival committed itself to its new found niche .
Anybody who has seen Fox Searchlight’s documentary Young@Heart knows why I was looking forward to this interview. Watching them at Newport confirmed they are much more than a novelty act. Young@Heart is a great band, producing profound interpretations of modern bands like Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, and Radiohead (Newport organizer and Paste Magazine mogul Jay Sweet was in tears during their rendition of Fake Plastic Trees).
FYI: The chorus just released their new album, Mostly Live, this past week. I’ve listened to it and it’s incredible. Buy it here. Your life will be better if you do.
It was a pleasure talking with their leader Bob Cilman and chorus members Dora Morrow, Jack Schnepp, and Steve Martin. I’d also like to say thanks to Brock Lynch (chorus member not featured in the video) who introduced himself to me backstage and regaled me with several entertaining stories. He even sent me a number of great Y@H clippings in the mail. Thanks Brock!
More great coverage of Young@Heart at Newport can be found at Bob Boilen’s excellent All Songs Considered blog.