Long-time readers may remember that I consider True Romance by Charli XCX to be one of the true sleeper albums of the year. The British indie pop starlet released one of the most deliciously subversive and insanely catchy pop records of recent memory. Throw in the fact that she wrote one of the biggest mainstream pop hits of the last several years (Icona Pop’s “I Love It”), and it’s clear that Charli is someone to keep an eye on. I actually interviewed her at Bonnaroo, and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that I’ve developed a minor crush on this bad-ass indie pop heroine. At one point, she covered Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” at Bonnaroo and made it work. If that’s not a sign of her bad-ass credentials, I don’t know what is. Enjoy her single “You (Ha Ha Ha)” which was one of the first songs that made me fall under this British star’s spell.
I’m really bad at staying up on this particular aspect of my blog. My sincerest apologies to long-time readers. Anyways, I’m back again with my Song of the Day series as I chronicle the bands that I shot at this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. I saw better bands at Bonnaroo, but there was only one other act that seemed to be having as much fun on stage as Ohio indie pop act, Walk the Moon. I only discovered this band (despite the fact that my upcoming Song of the Day was a radio hit for them) when I was doing my prep work for the festival, and I’ve immediately fallen in love with them. And if any band is a perfect Festival act, it’s Walk the Moon. If they ever come your way, take the time out of your schedule to see them live. They rock. Enjoy their single, “Anna Sun,” which was one of the most crowd-pleasing numbers of the whole festival.
So, I’m still continuing my vein of talking about really good acts that are playing at this year’s Bonnaroo that I will not be seeing. One such act is indie girl pop group Haim who is unfortunately playing against a set by Walk the Moon. Walk the Moon has an actual LP and a new EP. Haim just has an EP, and so I chose Walk the Moon since I figured they’d have more well-tested material to use during the set. I was actually so impressed with Haim that I had really considered choosing them over Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, who sings my favorite song of this current decade, “Round and Round.” But I’ve heard his live shows are kind of disappointing so I was willing to take a risk on these California girls until Walk the Moon totally blew my mind. Anyways, Haim are still really great, and I’ve fallen in love with their single, “Don’t Save Me,” which is this bizarre but exceptionally enjoyable mix of modern indie synth pop, 90s alt rock, and 90s R&B. Check it out.
So, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Like, a long while. I haven’t updated the blog in like a week period (I’ve been super busy lately with work and school and some bigger trips. I’m going to see Fleetwood Mac on Friday!!!), but I haven’t done a Song of the Day since “Heroes” by David Bowie way back on February 25th. I have no idea why I stopped doing them since this is one of my favorite parts of my blog, and it’s the way that I try to keep up to date on good new music since I haven’t lived in New York as a music critic for almost a year now (I moved back to West Virginia in the middle of May of 2012). Anyways, if you had asked me what I thought my favorite album would be of 2013 at the year’s halfway point, I probably would have said Phoenix or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Charli XCX wouldn’t have even made my afterthoughts or P.S.’s. However, her debut full-length, True Romance, is a dance/electronic pop/house/hip-hop pleasure that seems to keep getting better with each listen. She’s playing at this year’s Bonnaroo, and I’m really hoping to get a chance to hear her. I hope you enjoy this song, “Nuclear Seasons.” It’s one of my favorites off of the album.
There are CDs that you fall in love with after just one listen. Florence + the Machine’s debut LP Lungs was definitely one of those CDs. I’d heard “Dog Days Are Over” about a million times on the radio, and I really liked it, but honestly, after having listened to the whole record so many times, it’s probably not even in my top five songs on the album. I’m honestly not sure what my favorite song on the record is. “My Boy Builds Coffins” is a good contender. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” is as well and obviously “Kiss With a Fist” ranks high. But a favorite from among my first listens to the record is “Hurricane Drunk” which is as great a showcase for Florence Welsh’s astounding voice as any other track on the record as well as for the brilliant way she combines the modern soul revival against the more lush arrangements of classics like Kate Bush. Enjoy. (This comes from my vinyl collection as Lungs was one of the first records I ever bought.)
I’m taking a break from my vinyl collection to return to an album from 2012 that I’ve only recently had the pleasure of listening to. It’s the gorgeous bit of chamber pop, A Haunted Man by Bats for Lashes. The song of course is “Laura.” For whatever reason, I hadn’t even heard of Bats for Lashes (except perhaps obliquely. certainly never listened to any of her work) til she wound up on Pitchfork’s best tracks list as well as their Best Albums list. And when I listened to A Haunted Man, I thoroughly enjoyed it. She tapped into something direct and deeply emotional in an indie music world dominated by bands that prefer oblique and cynically insincere. Just listen to “Laura” and dare to not find yourself moved by Natasha Khan’s gorgeous voice or her elegant but simple piano instrumentation. I wish more indie artists had this direct of an approach to music making.
If you couldn’t tell by my review of their self-titled debut, Cults, or the fact that I’ve used their surprise hit “Go Outside” as my Song of the Day, I’m a big fan of indie pop/surf-rockers/1960s girl group throwback duo Cults. That freaking album is still one of my favorite records of 2011. And I got really excited when I heard some rumors that they were back working on new music. Hope it’s true. Anyways, I chose this song primarily because of its title (not the actual content of the song itself). I finished the second draft of my screenplay around 4 AM this morning. I’ve been sharing it with friends looking for some feedback, and I’ve taken today as an opportunity to relax. Once I’ve heard back from enough people, I’ll jump back into the screenplay and after my fourth draft or so, it will be time to register it with the Screenwriters Guild of America. But, today I took the opportunity to finally play the fourth episode of The Walking Dead: The Game (expect a review tonight or tomorrow). And a character very close to my heart was abducted. Hence today’s song, “Abducted.” Enjoy
In an admission that will likely ruin all of my hipster street cred, I have not actually listened to all of the new Passion Pit album, Gossamer, yet. Considering how well reviewed it’s been, I should probably remedy it soon. However, I’ve heard a couple songs here and there. I was less than impressed with the album’s lead single, “Take a Walk,” which seems to have been the general consensus of the music media. However, the rest of the album is apparently pretty great, and a lot of the singles I’ve heard so far definitely fit that bill. Today’s song, “Carried Away,” is a wonderful indie electronic pop tune with a killer hook that, in the vein of the best indie pop songs, makes me want to dance the night away. I just wish that I could have gotten this excited about anything off of the Temper Trap’s new album, but I doubt if they’ll ever match the excitement of “Sweet Disposition.” Passion Pit, on the other hand, is here to stay.
Long time readers may remember that I consider “Oblivion” by Grimes to easily be the best music video of the year. There have been better songs this year (“Thinkin Bout You,” “Little Talks,” “Simple Song”) but I’m not sure if anything has come close to matching the magic of the first couple viewings of “Oblivion”‘s video. The way it takes a shotgun blast to people’s preconceived notions of hipsterdom, masculinity, and indie rock music stereotypes is just absurd, and let’s face it. If you can’t enjoy watching Claire Boucher bounce around that football stadium/dirtbike arena, you might be broken on the inside. “Oblivion” isn’t even my favorite song on her debut album, Visions. That award goes to “Genesis.” It recently got a music video. It is not as good as “Oblivion.” Probably because it’s like every bad joke you could ever hear about Grimes in music video form that she approved and made. Good lord. This video is batshit insane. Someone left a hilarious comment on a Stereogum article about the video when it first surfaced, but I couldn’t find that now to save my life. Needless to say, I recommend listening to this song once without watching the video. Just open a new window in your browser, and if you like it, you can come back and watch the acid-fueled music video. It will not be for everyone.
It’s been a while since Gotye’s made an appearance here at Hot Saas’ Pop Culture Safari. His international smash-hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” was one of the very first songs that I used for my Song of the Day on here. In fact, it’s probably the only song I’ve ever predicted success for months in advance of it becoming a #1 hit. My very first interview at Baeble Music was with Isaac Slade from The Fray, and during that interview her recommended Gotye. So, I reviewed Making Mirrors, and it remains one of my favorite albums of the year. In terms of cross-over mainstream pop accessibility from an indie act, no one else has come close (but obviously other albums have been better. Nearly every song on the record has the potential to be a great single, and that’s rare in these days when albums are mostly vehicles to promote one or two singles. So, now, I’m going on with one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Eyes Wide Open.” I actually can’t pick my favorite tune on the CD because there are so many compelling choices. But this is very much Gotye in a full-on Phil Collins mode, and I love it.