Thursday, March 31, 2011
The long anticipated album is out! After almost two years since their self-titled debut, The Pains of Pure at Heart returned with their new album “Belong” at March 29th. With all sophomore albums, the band faces the internal and external pressure of presenting a more mature sound then the previous album. In this The Pains have certainly succeeded. The question being, is this a good thing? Their first album had a distinct territory, sad melancholy pop music, the themes based on love, young adulthood, every part of our early twenties that brings up a happy nostalgia.
From the start of the opening track “Belong” it’s obvious The Pains have been working out their chops. The drumming is tighter, the guitars more sonically diverse. Whereas the debut LP dealt with the throes of love, the passionate bliss that leaves one feeling safe and transformed, “Belong” spends a long time on the end, on the confusion and pain that’s left in the aftermath of a relationship (“And you're the one who's breaking me, And you're the one who just won't leave” lead singer Kip Berman coo’s in “My Terrible Friend”). Songs like “Even in Dreams” recall the loneliness of youth and of course, love transcending even the dream world (dreams are a common theme throughout the album), where “Strange” discusses the joy of finding somebody just as odd and un-inclined to conformity as you, in your red “Camp Arrowhead” t-shirt and your faded chucks. The romantic appeal to us lonely weirdoes is undeniable throughout an album that proclaims love between eccentrics as the purest endeavor one can partake in.
Ultimately, the change of scenery works well for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. While perhaps a little less twee and in your face romantic then their previous LP, “Belong” benefits from a band at their sharpest musically. It also benefits from a band that still recognizes love as the key. That’s what The Pains are all about, love. There is nothing that can top it and nothing that can. As a romantic myself, I can’t help but agree and envy the conviction in which they go about it. Top shelf boys (and girl), top shelf.
8.8 out of 10 unicorn horns.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
A Brooklyn based band named Beach Fossils? Sounds like way to typical indie fodder. However the guys at BF make up for their unoriginal name with some lovely (though granted, formulaic) pop music, in a similar vein to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Wild Nothing (whose front man Jack Tatum is featured on the song “Out in the Way.”). That track and another one by the name of “Fall Right In” are favorites of mine, finding the perfect balancing between reverb laced crooning about love, love, etc., and moody guitar, giving the album a brooding feel. All in all a fun little EP for those who love their Brooklyn indie bands.
Monday, March 14, 2011
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is one of my favorite bands. Draped in the 80's nostalgic celebration of teenage years, they play fast heartfelt pop that deals with love, angst, and all the mediocre parts of being a young adult. And they have a new album coming out on the 31st! Its called Belong and I can hardly wait to listen to it, appreciate it, review it, etc. So thats something to look forward to.
Heres the album cover.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Dubstep. Genre originating out of east London circa 2004. Extension of UK House and Grime, primarily. Spent its first four to five years as a relatively local, unknown scene, until early 2009 or so, when it started to blow up something fierce. OG’s of the scene include Hyperdub artists Kode9, Zomby, and Burial as well as other UK natives Skream and Benga. Characterized by dark, down tempo beats, makes frequent use of heavy synth’s and bass. Basically, music to bump out from your car.
This information has been engrained in any fan of the genre’s head a thousand times over. For a genre that is so diverse and hard to pin down, textbook definitions for Dubstep seem to be a dime a dozen. This too is almost a Dubstep cliché in itself, making the entire thing very difficult to write about. I haven’t come to preach against the “bro-step” factions of the genre nor against the more unappreciated, less bass-centric artists. This has been beaten to death by much more skilled writers then me in a much more interesting fashion. I only wish to give my observations and perceptions of the last two to three months of music that’s been churned out by the genre I hold so dear.
To begin, I’ll focus my attention on one particular artist: Skrillex. Skrillex, also known as Sonny Moore, begins to differ from his peers in his birthplace. Instead of hailing from Leeds or London, Moore was born and raised in Los Angeles. It’s not hard to see how the sun, pop music, and overall glamour of Los Angeles have influenced Moore’s style. Unlike his English contemporary’s and their frequently slow, dark brand of dubstep, Moore’s tracks veer far more towards top 40, with remix’s of songs by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and The All American Rejects. The crazy thing is that unlike five years prior, it’s not at all unusual or out of the ordinary. In fact, Skrillex and other pop minded DJ’s have been gaining a lot of headway in a genre previously dominated by sullen English blokes. The fact that a former member of 2000’s hardcore band From First to Last was so seamlessly able to blend into a genre that prides its self on authenticity, street vibe, and its heavily hip-hop influenced background is one of the many signs that Dubstep has been and continues to change. For the better?
I love floating out a heavy, broad question like that. It makes everything so black and white and I can simply decide to say either “Yes, it is for the better”, or “No, it is not for the better.” I can undersell the genre by making it an Us vs. Them that all boils down to who deserves to be making this music.
The opposite end of the Dubstep spectrum can be summed up rather clumsily by South London producer Burial, a.k.a. William Bevans. Burials first single “South London Boroughs” came out in 2005, fairly early in the Dubstep movement. Signed to Kode9’s legendary Hyperdub label, featuring dubstep godheads King Midas Sound, Joker, and Zomby. Dark, slow, and frequently menacing, Burials music is characterized by ghostly voices and UK House influenced breakbeats. His music would make a great soundtrack for your latest art house horror, that is to say, it’s about as far away from Skrillex as one could go. Burial remained anonymous until 2008, not wanting his face or name associated with his music. The idea that these are two distinct concepts is foreign in the world of pop electronic and could be seen as a type of self sabotage. In the world of Dubstep, especially that coming out of the UK, this is not at all frowned upon.
The state of dubstep has quickly become a classic music debate. The old, underground, down to earth originals vs. the scarily catchy, “soulless”, radio friendly, whippersnappers who don’t seem to give a @#!*% about the “message” behind the genre. It’s disappointing to see such a unique and inspired genre give into these arguments, which are ultimately petty and play very little part in the direction the genre goes. As the fans turn against the artists, so do the fans turn on other fans. You think Borgore is a much better producer then Benga? @#!*% you. The similarities are far larger than the differences, but it’s enough to create a complete rift in the Dubstep fan section.
Embrace the new, treasure the old. I hear club bangers churned out that go neck and neck with Kode9’s “9 Samurai”. The trick is not to put the OG’s and the genre revolutionizes on a pedestal. Hold musicians accountable for one thing, making good music. It’s not the responsibility of artists to cater to a @#!*% off nostalgic clientele. Quite the opposite, it’s to push to genre, often to the point of discomfort. Think your South London dubstep godfathers are suffering sleepless nights as a result of a “Bad Romance” remix?
Here are 7 songs dropped in the last four or five months that I recommend anyone interested in the Dubstep Genre check out. They’re hip, they’re cool, they’re dirty, and they’re funky. Or something, I dunno.
Claire Maguire – Last Dance (Chase and Status Remix)
Benny Benassi Ft Gary Go – Cinema (Skrillex Remix)
Rusko – Everyday
Devlin – Let It Go (Joker Remix)
Coldcut – True Skool (Zomby Remix)
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead (Borgore Remix)
Comix – Be True (Burial Remix)…Ok it’s a little older, but it’s a @#!*% of a tune!
Hope you enjoy.