Young Brits idolize Eno and Hot Chip; make a foggy-eyed summer jam. That's the story behind Outfit's "I Want What's Best" – a simple-sounding exercise that actually flowers into a textured, danceable mountain.
On "Everything," Case Studies continues their exploration of post-Basement Tapes Americana. Swaying, drunk, ramshackle, a little countrified, a little bluesy, a little rocking, this one has more concern for the right emotional take than the right instrumental one. Keep it in your pocket for your next road trip.
Hit that third record and it's time to go mature. It's one of the oldest tricks in the rock LP handbook, but Smith Westerns pull it off with poise, impeccable production and some of the most timeless-sounding summer songs I've heard in awhile on Soft Will. "3am Spiritual" is your example – flighty, dreamy, anthemic and rippling with just enough '70s-aping guitar leads to encourage a Sunday where kissing is the only thing on the agenda.
My recent punk obsession Tweens mixes their usual snot with some tears on the rough and charming "Don't Wait Up." The guitars, still dirty as hell, echo and sputter, while the vocals exude just the right amount of loneliness to draw you in for a sucker punch.
On "Step Right Up (Pour Yourself Some Wine)," Alex Bleeker – aka the anchor of Real Estate – joins his Freaks to pay tribute to Neil Young and strum-laden relaxation. It's a simple, resonant song tinged with melancholy yet also directly reflective of its relaxing, bleary-eyed title.
Whether emotionally or physically, Pure X's Crawling Up The Stairs is a record about being crippled. Their debut Pleasure, all fog, mystery and summery escapism, was like a nice spritzer compared to this new one's multi-bottle emotional severity.
Using the studio as more of an instrument, the Austin group shows great range throughout Crawling. "I Come From Nowhere" is a frozen-heart torch song. "Things In My Head" is about that fantasy relationship that eventually crushes you under its inherent intellectual stupidity. "Never Alone" is a bleary-eyed ode to having a friend in loneliness that brings to mind masters-of-sadcraft like Red House Painters.
It's a big step forward – the kind that I wish more bands would make on a second or third album. With such a readymade, enjoyable formula already set, Pure X could have just knocked another one out and collected some new summer babes. They took a risk, though, opening their wounds and letting the blood seep into a unique psychedelic puddle.
I got the band (Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood) to go On the RCRD and tell us more.
Life changing record for you was…
JJ- rain and tears by aphrodites child (mp3)
NG- TVZ live at the old quarter (cd)
Matty Tommy- Lefty Frizzell self titled (Lp)
AY- Willie nelson- yesterdays wine (LP)
What people, outside of music, have influenced you over the last year?
NG- Carl Jung
What did you learn about yourself and/or the world at large the last time you made a record?
AY- how badass I am
What gift would you most like to possess?
NG- being able to change water to wine
What quality do you admire most in a song?
What's your take on the music business in 2013?
JJ- posers vs composers
Best instrument ever invented was....
Ay- pedal steel
JJ- oberheim 4voice
Do people surf in France? I really don't care, but these La Femme kids seem to have the sound down, pinching a little Broadcast and the propulsive nu-kraut of early Stereolab into an organ-laced stunner. Also, the video has a lady with an eye-patch and leather jacket doing some crazy shit. It's cool.
On "Sandy," Jackson Scott continues the wide-eyed bedroom Pink Floyd obsession that has propelled his initial blitz. There's a sweet, stoned, nocturnal ethos on display here – one that lets you soak in the pleasant escape of hummable psychedelic-pop from an era that's overly mined but still has its relaxing, romantic rewards.
On "Calm Down," The Love Language stacks muddied-up anthemic guitars and an atonal rhythmic pulse into explosive indie-pop with emotional depth. The song has big ambitions while also unspooling as it presses forward into a swelling motorik cloud.
Summer love! It's a thing that happens. It inspires, makes us feel more alive, puts us on the edge of reckless obsession. On this video for "Varsity," power-poppers Smith Westerns try to nail those feelings by following an attractive two-some petting each other, hanging out and jumping on a roof. It's very sweet, and I hope their fall breakup will be the sequel.