What the CL Music Team is jamming this fine Monday to rocket launch the work week. To check out previous entries, click here.
- Surfer Blood
, Tarot Classics
Just a brief four songs, but if they're any indication, this South Florida fivesome's got a future worth the attention. Tarot yields a healthy dose of the reverby, anthemic surf rock that made Astro Coast
so memorable, yet progresses enough to work as more than an obvious, b-side graveyard. "Drinking Problem" is an eerie, jungle-like departure from any track they've laid to tape before and the clearest beacon of palatable progression on Tarot Classics
, while "Miranda" works as hip-swinging, cheery ode to their beachy sonic lineage.
Gabe - Style Council, Café Bleu (1984)
Paul Weller's debut album with his post-Jam project Style Council was met with equal amounts animosity and warmth. The diehard legion of Jam fans was less-than-pleased with Weller's newfound role as smooth jazz/pop crooner; the UK record buying public was elated with the breezy, jazz-influenced pop and helped propel the record to the top of the charts along with several singles that were lifted from it. This record still sounds adventurous to me today and only helps illustrate the diversity Mr. Weller is capable of. "My Ever Changing Moods" is not only one of the greatest singles released in the 1980's — I'll go as far as to say it's one of the greatest of all time. It's only now, several decades later, that the layers of soul, jazz, and R&B found on these fine recordings are being fully realized and appreciated. A perfect record to chase away the Monday blues and make the day seem a whole lot better.
- Look Mexico
, Real Americans Spear It
Look Mexico's new Adeline Records release is thematic. Well, sort of. Each song title is a Vin Diesel quote from Fast Five
. But don't let that scare you off — these five tracks are well-crafted indie rock showcasing the raw talent of this Austin (by way of Tallahassee) quartet. Matt Agrella's strong vocals shine bright, and he's backed by catchy guitar riffs (Ryan Slate and Matt Agrella), solid upfront basslines (Ryan Smith) and dynamic rhythms (Nick Chambers). This EP marks Look Mexico's rather energetic turn to straight up indie rock, but doesn't leave their past entirely behind, taking the best parts of it and skillfully bringing it with them into what I can only believe is going to be their very successful future. My favorite tracks are "Arrest? I Didn't Feel Like I'm Under Arrest" (I am a sucker for a catchy indie rock song evoking involuntary bopping along), and "Runnin' Ain’t Freedom (You Should Know That)" (very solid indie rock song with awesome vocal crescendos meant for sing-a-longs). Speaking of which, not only does Look Mexico deliver on disc, they positively rock live. Opening for Ted Leo can be tough - it's clear that the audience is there to see Leo and his Pharmacists and that's about it. At last week's show, the band deftly converted the Ted Leo crowd into enthusiastic Look Mexico supporters who were saddened only by their set ending too soon. [Click here
to check out photos from the show.] If that isn't enough of an endorsement to check this EP out, the fact that it was recorded by J. Robbins and comes on light blue vinyl should be enough to push you over the edge.
- Male Bonding
, Endless Now
The band responsible for my top release of 2010 came quickly with a follow up. Endless Now finds a slightly cleaner-sounding Male Bonding trading fuzzy noise-pop for somewhat muddy power-pop, but that trendy lo-fi, echo-y sound remains. At eleven tracks in 35 minutes, you could say they’ve branched out a bit as songwriters since the buzzsaw-paced Nothing Hurts. There’s even a six-minute number (“Bones”) propelled by a guitar riff that somehow manages to be both rapid and droning. And due to Male Bonding’s production aesthetic of quickly transitioning between tracks, the song fits! Aside from a bit of shoe-gazing on “The Saddle,” Endless Now keeps things fairly frantic. Male Bonding don’t supply hooks that worm their way into your brain with catchy melodies that you can’t help but recall later, but this is ‘get shit done’ music. Background noise done right.
Taylor - Surfer Blood, Tarot Classics EP (2011)
Just saw this group open for Death Cab in Orlando a few weeks ago. Nobody in the crowd seemed to know who they were, but within 15 seconds of their first song, we were all going wild - blown away by the energy and infectiousness of their sound. Everyone in my group rushed out to buy their debut after the show, and their latest EP, Tarot Classics, doesn't disappoint. The four tracks are peppy, retro-modern poprock falling somewhere between the likes of The Kinks and Shout Out Louds. Good stuff. Too short.
Leilani - Sondre Lerche, Sondre Lerche (2011)
Been writing a feature on the charming Norwegian born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter with the buttery smooth tenor, and have been enjoying his sixth and latest studio LP. The eponymous record finds him abandoning the grandiose scale of 2009's Heartbeat Radio for a more stripped down approach. He always worked with new musicians, a new producer along with his old one, and recorded it all over two weeks in his Williamsburg neighborhood. The result is a meticulously arranged, well-textured and overall tasteful foray that sparkles with Lerche's usual refined sense of melody, and mixes warm and spare moments with dramatic, psychedelic wall-of-sound climaxes, a nice contrast to the rest of the album's hooky, shimmering pop bounce, poignant balladry and acoustic guitar-driven ’70s-swaggering singer-songwriter fare. Lerche performs at Capitol Theatre next Wed., Nov. 16. Stay tuned for my forthcoming story on the musician.