September 7, 2012
Today's Hotness: The Raveonettes, The Cherry Wave, Videotape
>> We won't go so far as to say we dislike The Doors, as we spent far too many happy times with family in our formative years listening to the act to turn our back on them. There are even songs we look forward to hearing, such as "The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)" and "Love Her Madly" (particularly the piano playing on the latter cut). But the bloated blues often purveyed by the band now sounds lazy, and the faux mysticism and sophomoric intellectual tripe offered by Jim Morrison, well let's just say that ever since we turned onto alternative and punk music in the mid-'80s we haven't had any time for that. We bring this up because, as we referenced in our review of the new Raveonettes record Observator published by The Boston Phoenix this week, we had a moment of genuine fear that The Doors' influence on Raveonettes songwriter Sune Rose Wagner might alter his band's terrific and fizzy noir pop. In collecting materials as part of our research for the review we noted Mr. Wagner more than once professing taking inspiration from Morrison and company, and we were concerned that influence would manifest itself audibly on Observator. Fortunately, that didn't happen. As we summed up in the Phoenix: "Instead, The Raveonettes here plot the aural dimensions of a timeless autumn. Ever-present reverb casts long chiaroscuro shadows across undeniable pop hooks in uptempo strummers 'Downtown' and 'Till the End.' Observator's melancholy California come-downs are equally arresting, including opener 'Young and Cold,' one of three songs featuring piano (a first for the Raveonettes, now six albums deep" into its career. Read the entire review right here. Observator is a very rewarding collection perfectly suited to the change in season that is just about upon us. Stream the album cut "Observations" via the Soundcloud embed below, or stream the entire record over at RollingStone.com right here. The Raveonettes will perform at Boston's Paradise Rock Club Oct. 7; buy tickets here.
>> The delightfully gnarly noise-pop on the recent self-titled EP from Glasgow's The Cherry Wave captured our interest, as it fires aural pleasure centers first activated in our brains more than two decades ago. Much is made of the more produced and synthetic qualities of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, particularly by the many shimmering bands whose work interprets it. However, considerably less focus is placed these days on the early arc of MBV, and the sounds that the fabled act explored before releasing the aforementioned, genre-defining album. It's a shame too, as it's one of the best damn moments in rock music's endless evolution. MBV’s earlier recordings don't hide the band's love of the scuzzy American indie and hardcore underground, inspired as they were by noise rockers like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. In turn, of course, My Bloody Valentine influenced countless others, including The Telescopes, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, and later Male Bonding, and now The Cherry Wave. The Glaswegian quartet, which played its first live gig only last month, extends the fine tradition with its five-song, aggressive and noisy set that affirms once more the practice of marrying blissed chord structures and dejected vocals to punky angst. Opener "Doe Eyes" touts enthusiastic and scraping guitar tracks so clotted with rich grit that they sound three dimensional. Overly dry drum tracks offer an unexpected and interesting contrast to the faraway reverb and trebly guitars on songs such as "Indian Summer." That initially might seem like a music production no-no, but it ends up grounding the mix and emphasizes the dangerous teen-hardcore aspect that lurks throughout this release and gives it real spirit. Grab this "gaze-punk" release from Bandcamp right here for a grand total of... nothing! The EP is slated for physical release on cassette next month via Good Grief (which, we presume, is this). A new EP is expected from The Cherry Wave in December, according to a post on Facebook. -- Edward Charlton
>> Pleasant surprises abound on This Is Disconnect, the full-length debut self-released by Chicago-based guitar-pop quintet Videotape Sept. 4. First there's "Static," the earworm that opens the set, which we discuss further below. Then there's the clear, yet maxed-out production that isn't afraid to keep the guitars panned and big in a way that would make Butch Vig flash a smug smile in his mid-'90s flannel factory. And finally, singer Sophie Liegh's assured vocals are a real treat, pairing less typically feminine affectations and modest allure with precise melodies. Videotape exudes a workman-like quality that doesn't seem as evident in indie music these days as it was in decades past. Of course, this reviewer is thinking of female-fronted mainstays like Throwing Muses or The Breeders, and how those groups never overshadowed their focus and taste with mystery and empty style. Sure, the Chicagoans trade in carefully conceived guitar effects and minor chords, but only to the extent that they serve the song toward building clean and pounding tracks that can appeal to anyone. Aforementioned highlight "Static" doesn't eclipse the two-minute mark, but manages to corral therein a choppy and danceable guitar lead, a demanding verse melody, sudden tempo breaks and an ethereal bridge. "No One" offers hard-hitting grunge slinkiness that somehow still feels fresh (the tune also borrows a fair bit of the great riff from Lilys' slacker-oddball "Evel Knievel"). Elsewhere, "The Creeps" captures what it must be like to have Florence And The Machine attempt the riot-grrrl-politik that characterizes Sonic Youth's Dirty. With all those pop smarts paired with such brevity, one could say that Videotape is a dream-pop analogue to Clicky Clicky-approved indie poppers Hospitality. Based on the strength of This Is Disconnect, it is certainly an exceptional band with big and open aspirations, and we're hopeful that any success they enjoy is indicative of a larger cultural shift toward their noble thinking. Buy the album via Bandcamp right here. -- Edward Charlton