Heat is a cool electro pop track from the Ecce, it’s not going to blow your mind but it’s certainly a catchy, heartfelt change of pace in year that’s been all but dismissive of the traditional electro indie movement.
I’ve already posted about Cosmic Sound here before, but I was listening to the incredibly solid VHS Vision EP again and was shocked to have missed how good this track was. It’s called Little Flower, and it’s a beat heavy ephemeral jam with lead and backing vocals reminiscent of Gorillaz before they started to suck hard.
Yet another one from Teen Daze, this time it’s a cover of a track from the incredibly overhyped Japandroids. Teen Daze continually surprise me actually, I always liked them, but considered them a bit of a one trick pony until recently. Turns out they can sound like whatever the hell they like and pull it off with flying colours, and more than that, take songs from bands who are rubbish and make them compelling; which is a telltale sign of a really good artist.
Chad Valley is Chillwave artist, which is pretty fucking original of him. But try as I might to be jaded and overexposed, I still can’t get enough of this sort of stuff, and yes while Chillwave all sounds very similar, it’s all sounding very similar to awesome. If it ain’t broke…
Some Other Time by Ghost Animal is classic twenty-ten Lo-Fi; heavy on the fuzz, low on the polish, and with nigh-indecipherable lyrics probably about girls, and the beach, and summer, and the streets, and having fun, and getting high, and being young. I think the key to successful Lo-Fi is sounding like there’s a sterling pop track underneath the wall of noise, and that you could hear if only the band gave up trying to be cool and took the easy way out.
Heart Full Of Pentagons is the opener to the overall rather dull LP from Film School called Fission. It’s a cool track, with chill female backing vocals and a swirling New-Wave synths. They should have continued this sound for the rest of the album.
Old Arc is another artist going for that same brand of Dream/Chillwave that Memory Tapes crafted for himself. But the vocals are far more clear and accessible, and the instrumental work is even further grounded in the 80’s than Dayve Hawke's work. There's some weird rap thing that pops up a few times in the track but just try to ignore it I guess?
Small Black are moving away from the more Lo-Fi position they started in towards a more electronic production aesthetic. It’s still very nostalgic, but it’s a very different kind. Similar to the change in sound Coolrunnings are experimenting with.
Taragana Pyjarama has taken that Post-Chillwave sonic identity artists like Hard Mix and Elite Gymnastics have and skewed it in a more dancey direction. Repetition is glorious when done well, and tracks like this are great examples of such.
Art Is Hard Records have an upcoming compilation called Brink Of The Clouds, filled with the best upcoming Lo-Fi / Alternative bands from South West England. As far as compilations go, Brink Of The Clouds is incredibly solid, almost surprisingly so.
The release doesn’t come out until September, but when it does it’s headed your way in a digital download/T-shirt bundle.
Here’s a sample of what to expect, a track from the compilation called 1943 by Cycling Season, it’s what you’d get if you crossed Lo-Fi with any British band’s innate desire to be an Indie-Rock band. Basically; exactly what you wanted to hear without even knowing it.
Restless People have crafted themselves one hell of a debut single to open with. Minus the tacky as fuck rave klaxons, Days Of Our Lives is a perfect Summer jam. Reminiscent of ceo's Come With Me in a way.
Teen Daze recently released their Four More Years EP, which was really solid overall if not a little samey. The closer, Spin Around, Go Ahead features a really cheesy yet infectious vocal sample that segues into an instrumental track. Now most songs get by with one or two killer hooks, but Spin Around, Go Ahead has at least 8 amazing synth sequences; it’s the Fascination Street of the Chillwave world. And here’s another track from the <3 compilation a bunch of rad artists contributed to.
Eat Sun, Son by Gobble Gobble is toeing the line. The band name is annoying enough, and then the parody-esque vocals come so close to pushing you over the limit, and you’re just about to delete the blasted song out of blind rage, but then you realise it’s been on repeat for the past hour and you actually can’t imagine living life without it for even one second.
Baths was another artist (as well as Gobble Gobble’s above track) to create an original track for the <3 compilation. This one’s called Nordic Laurel, and while it’s a good song, I feel like it would have been better as an instrumental track. Still; it’s Baths, the man can do no wrong, and the song is killer regardless.
Carl Fox is an artist you probably wouldn’t have heard of. He has an album that you wouldn’t have heard either. It’s electronic uplifting indie, but the the opener and closing track are decidely Chillwave. Check them out.
Com Truise has two new tracks up for grabs. This one continues his current trajectory while adding vocals that evoke comparisons to Orlando Weeks of The Maccabees. Still Chillwave through and through, but it seems he’s not entirely comfortable with that tag. I’m calling them like I see them.
Fred Falke recently remixed Kele Okereke's new single Everything You Wanted. The music video for the original itself is pretty cheesy except for the hauntingly beautiful close-up shot of Kele crying his eyes out and struggling to keep eye contact with the camera. While my claim that Okereke was the second coming was shaken a tad by the mixed quality of his debut solo album, this remix has revitalised my appreciation for the core strength of the songs. Although Falke could probably remix white noise and as long as it was seven minutes long it’d probably blow you away.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or eight, you’ll know that 2010 is all about throwing endless Lo-Fi acts at us until everyone all but hates the genre. Bands like Sweet Bulbs are way up there as one of the best, but what the hell is going to happen to all these groups once 2011 rolls in? I just don’t see this genre resurgence (as heartbreaking as it is) being anything other than short lived. The brightest stars burn out the fastest, so enjoy this amazing Lo-Fi pop while you can.
Teams remixed Coolrunnings' killer track, I Am You recently. It goes by the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, only adding complimenting highlights and alterations, rather than doing anything too crazy. More than fine by me.
How To Dress Well's new track is the first one i've actually enjoyed. Up until now I've considered the hype a tad undeserved but in Take It On I see the quality everyone has been talking about. He basically toes the line between Witch House and Lo-Fi R&B.
Evenings is going to get his fifteen minutes of fame soon enough. If Pitchfork haven’t already posted something about this guy, they soon will. Once again the most accurate description would be Chillwave. Both Still Young and Babe sound like sun-drenched nostalgia on a summer afternoon.
Memoryhouse's 1986 Summer Fire mix is way chill. This is one of the standout tracks on it; Above The Flood by Library Tapes. They are hardly a new band but I think this mix will expose them to an audience who might never have found them otherwise, myself included.
I recently tracked down some Cloud Nothings tracks people may not have. One is from the cassette split he had with Campfires, called Little Raygun. It’s like a wall of noise, definitely way fuzzier than his later work, but underneath the distortion is a killer track with pop sensibilities. The other two are from some time afterwards.
And finally something completely different, Tronik Youth's remix of Simian Mobile Disco's Off The Map. He makes the song sound less dark and sexual, and more Digitalism-esque uplifting and euphoric. Think Taken Away and you’ll be disappointed… but think a less good version of Taken Away and you may not be?
Well, that’s not strictly true; my phobia of names that don’t instantly ooze cool rears its ugly head here once again, but that’s just wanton superficiality.
First impressions will invariably lead you to Death Cab For Cutie comparisons. And we’re not talking awful Twilight endorsing, only two tracks worth listening to on the latest album Death Cab here; this is Golden-Era Transatlanticism/Plans period Death Cab. You’ve got the bittersweet juxtaposition of soul-crushing heartbreak and disillusionment; with the Benjamin Gibbard-esque vocal falsetto and the slightest sprinklings of electronic highlights.
It’s certainly not the most buzzworthy or original sound they are going for, but when you have complete dicks like Owl City getting away with (and making a killing from) ripping off The Postal Service with such little style that it begins to tarnish even the original product’s spotless record, this serves as a refreshing example of how to imitate right.
What Happened has a really classic and solid album structure, with the attention grabbing intro, solidifying and potent middle, and suitably downtempo end. Rather than a disjointed collection of singles and filler, each track borrows from and builds upon the strengths of its predecessor and lends that progress to the foundation of the next. In fact only one song really does itself justice out of context from the rest of the album, and that’s the first track. This is certainly an album made to be heard all at once.
I will say that I wish they tried to pursue a bit more the sound they achieved on the previously mentioned album opener; Love Make, which is, put bluntly; fucking glorious. The epic, jittery expectancy that builds into joyful explosions of sound shows a really interesting and more unique sound to the band that would be great to see in future releases.
The fifteen-year-old me would be positively losing his shit over this album I think, and while I’ve generally moved past the Indie-Pop genre as a whole, What Happened is a really powerful nostalgia generator for a simpler time when I listened to simpler and more immediate music.
And that’s perhaps this album’s biggest strength. It doesn’t try to be anything other than a record eager to please with its heart firmly on its sleeve. Sure you could call copycat, but you’d just be missing the point if you did.
Memory Tapes remixed Everything Everything's hit, MY KZ, UR BF (My Keys, Your Boyfriend) to great effect. He’s spliced up the vocals really interestingly, and there’s some cool instrumental bridges in there. It sounds quite different from his normal remixes, which is a good thing.
Most have probably already heard Lo-Fi band Harlem by now, but I only recently discovered their rather consistent debut album, Hippies. Crowd Pleaser is, fittingly, the strongest track on the album, great early Beatles-esque lyrics and themes.
Beat Connection has appeared on NEO//NOIR before, with the Memory Tapes channeling; Theme From Yours Truly. Silver Screen is another song from their crazy good Surf Noir EP, and it’s really quite a different beast, with compelling vocals and catchy flutes. You just know in the first five seconds that this is going to be an amazing song.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. need a new name. But their music is more than adequate for the job. Another band with a fun tropical sound. Like a chill party on a secret island resort. They also have a rad cover of God Only Knows. It’s rad.
Meathooks is a dark, vibrating electro indie track by Holy Family. The vocals are really cool, and they give off a strong VETO vibe in the juxtaposition of rock and electronic elements. They are from Sweden, which is half the battle won in the music world.
The Shores by The Sea Of Cortez has this slow burning epic vibe to it. It clocks in at about six minutes long and changes tempo a few times throughout. Not usually what I listen to but there’s something very pleasant about this track. Seems like it’d make a good driving song.
You Don’t Want To Dance With Me is a track from Monarchy's new album. I've briefly searched to see if it is in fact Frankmusik singing on this one, but come up shorthanded. It’s one of the more interesting tracks on what was a safe and predictable debut.
Van She Technologic apparently gave the crowd a sneak peak at a track from the new Van She album during their set at Splendour On The Grass as well as busting out some rad bootleg remixes. Here’s one of them, can’t wait to hear some new original material from these guys though.
Wu Lyf's new song is certainly a good one, and i'm sure most people have watched the music video already, but here it is to download. While not as epic sounding as Concrete Gold or Heavy Pop, it has a kind of tropical catchiness to it that compliments their existing sound well. Can’t wait for the album, I think these guys are one of the better bands to emerge of late, especially with all the insane marketing and smoke and mirrors.
Outer Limits Recordings' album, Foxy Baby; is a fuzzy mess, that is until you get to 1000 Ciggies, which, at the risk of utilising cliche and unimaginative descriptors; sounds like DAFT PUNK, but if they surfed the Chillwave on their next album in a truly Lo-Fi direction.
My relationship with Grum has always been a complicated one. I remember hearing his initial work and being impressed at first, but repeated listens dulled my appreciation for it quickly. So I put off listening to his album for several months. I recently acquired it however, and with vocals, his tracks really do come alive. It’s clear who his influences are when you hear these songs but he’s certainly not beating around the bush when it comes to that. I still feel that these tracks lack the staying power to be played for years and years, but it’s great to tide you over until Mylo finally releases that fucking album. Also, Grum needs to change his name, it’s awful.
Summer Camp's new song is pretty catchy, not as good as Ghost Train, but I feel like this is a project where the notoriously hit and miss Jeremy Warmsley can output some work that will get some much deserved appreciation.
unouomedude is another dude with a rubbish name but much better musical ability than it would suggest. Here’s a song that sounds a bit like Matt & Kim's Daylight, and the rest of his Marsh EP follows suit. It’s very Lo-Fi, but there some Chillwave elements in there too. Think Toro y Moi and you’ll have an idea what to expect.
I really hope Com Truise intended to spell Sundriped that way, or he’s in for some future embarrassment when everyone questions the lack of an extra “p” where it should be. Yet another fucking Chillwave artist, but if he keeps doing it right I’m not going to complain.
Basement Window by Foxes In Fiction is the kind of song you play while driving in the rain or staring into space on an autumn afternoon. Introspective instrumental along the lines of M83's work. Memory Pools on the other hand is really great Dreampop.