Ask anyone old enough to drink what they think emo is, and you’ll get about as many different responses as people willing to answer. They’ll just about all be right, too (if Last.fm is any kind of reference, anyway). Everyone’s nebulous identification and loose understanding of the genre is both its best and worst quality — emo is just so damn personal. No matter if you credit Rites Of Spring or My Chemical Romance for introducing raw, bleeding-heart emotions into the lexicon of punk and hardcore, the bands you listen to and define as “real emo” are undoubtedly among the most important to ever appear in your life. And yet there was indeed a solid stretch of time, roughly under a decade, when everyone who cared to could wholeheartedly agree on what the hell emo actually was, and they could not get enough of it. I like to refer to this as the Golden Era of Emo. Starting in the early ’90s and sputtering out just after the turn of the century, it was an exciting period for underground punk and hardcore scenes. The Golden Era gave emo its unequivocally best songs, and it also birthed a number of bands and artists who would go on to become both huge commercial successes and revered darlings of independent music. This wasn’t when the term “emotional hardcore” was coined, nor was it when emo became a household word; this was that perfect pocket of time when a specific kind of unabashedly earnest rock was able to incubate out of the spotlight and thrive amongst a tight-knit group of eager and unjaded peers.
Tom Berninger, the younger brother of the National frontman Matt, made the tour documentary Mistaken For Strangers about what it’s like to be an underling for his way-more-famous older brother’s band. And now, someone’s turning that movie into a Broadway musical — or, at the very least, they’ve made a Funny Or Die video out of the idea of turning that movie into a Broadway musical. In the video below, we see what might happen if someone actually attempted that ridiculous stunt, with Zach Galifianakis as his real-life doppelganger Tom Berninger and Galifianakis’s Better Off Dead co-star Ted Danson as Matt. The best part of the video comes when Matt gives Danson advice on how to do that whole precarious walking-over-the-crowd thing that he does at so many shows. Watch the video below.
In 2004, a pine tree was planted near Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park to honor the late George Harrison. It grew to 10 feet tall and stood as a fitting tree-bute to a musician known for the lush gardens around his English mansion. Unfortunately, as The LA Times reports, the Beatle’s honorary tree was destroyed by beetles. Apparently Harrison’s pine was one of several trees in the area to suffer the wrath of bark beetles and ladybug beetles. All things must pass, right? L.A. Councilman Tom LaBonge says the tree will be replanted soon.
The term “black metal” can mean almost anything these days — sublime post-rock (with screaming), bracing post-punk (with croaking), experimental sound collage (with portentous spoken word), and, occasionally, wordless cosmic twaddle (with synths and not much else). All of these things borrow from black metal, but none really embodies the true spirit of black metal in the traditional sense. (“The True Spirit Of Black Metal” sounds like a sacrilegious holiday musical in the making, doesn’t it?) Orthodox black metal, on the other hand, stands in opposition to black metal dabbling. If black metal has a cold, self-contained center, it’s orthodox black metal, which is sonically ominous, universally Satanic, and disconcertingly intense in its commitment to impenetrable ideology — which is what makes it so fascinating to explore.
The title “Dream House” has very specific connotations around here, where Deafheaven’s Sunbather left such a lasting impact on this past year. But blackgaze’s mainstream ambassadors don’t have a monopoly on that phrase. Indeed, Philadelphia riff-punks Amanda X have come up with a rad “Dream House” of their own, one that hearkens back to Hole, Sleater-Kinney, and Blake Babies at their most amped-up. Culled from the trio’s imminent debut album Amnesia, the song is built from slinky guitar parts, pounding drums, and vocals that range from fierce to fragile. Also, the chorus fucking howls. Listen below.
There aren’t many tracks from Banks’ upcoming debut Goddess that we haven’t heard already but from the empowering title track to the darkly intelligent “Brain,” they’ve all been winners. “Beggin For Thread” is another promising look into what should be one of the better debuts of the year. It’s also her lightest song yet, trading in her already trademark back alley synths for something a little more playful. Listen below.
Goddess is out 9/9 via Harvest.var chartbeat_zone = "misc";
After 10 years broken up, the Unicorns are finally back together and touring (and opening for Arcade Fire!), and though we have yet to hear any new original material, they’ve shared a cover of “Rocketship” by Daniel Johnston, one of four bonus tracks on the forthcoming digital reissue of their beloved Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?. The cover comes filled with rudimentary keyboard noise, earnest vocals, a patchwork charm, and starry melodies. It is both bleepy AND bloopy. In other words, it’s the Unicorns and they’re back. Listen below.
The Swedish dance producer Avicii exists near the top of the EDM pyramid; he’s popular enough that he can play arenas and have things like this happen. But he’s also trying to figure out ways to reach outside the whole Electric Daisy Carnival scene. He’s had his biggest crossover success with “Wake Me Up,” a song built from an unlikely combination of big-room house and bluegrass, and he also produced Coldplay’s recent single “A Sky Full Of Stars.” So maybe it’s not that surprising that he’s working on what he calls a “rock” album. But what is surprising, and vaguely scary, is who he’s enlisted for it.
Fryars is Benjamin Garrett, a young singer and producer. For a while now, he’s been cranking out Soundcloud bangers like “Love So Cold” and “Cool Like Me,” and now he’s announced that those tracks will end up on his new album Power, coming this fall. In a press release, Garrett calls the album “a soundtrack to a film that does not exist.” Garrett has also shared the album’s latest single, a piece of idiosyncratic, off-kilter blip-pop called “Prettiest Ones Fly Highest.” Listen to that one below.
Last year Johnny Marr, that most legendary of all sidemen, finally released his debut solo album, and now he announces a second one. Playland comes a little more than a year after 2013′s The Messenger and features music Marr wrote shortly after finishing his debut. According to Spin, the title refers to the idea that play is an important part of cultural development, as explained by Dutch cultural theorist Johan Huizinga’s 1938 book Homo Ludens. Above you can see the album cover and below you’ll find the track list.
Along with Disclosure, British producer Duke Dumont is one of the guys responsible for bringing house sounds onto the pop charts. He’s got two UK #1 singles under his belt already, and he still has yet to drop his debut full-length. “Mumble Man” comes not from his forthcoming album but from For Club Play Only Vol. 3, the third installment of a four-part series of EPs. Hilariously touted by his label as “possibly the best scat track since Scatman John,” “Mumble Man” is a tech-house track full of synth and manipulated vocals that, as suggested by the EP’s title, seems built for club play. Hear it below.
YG’s debut album My Krazy Life remains, for my money, the best rap full-length of 2014 by a whole lot, and one of the great things about it is the way it weaves its big, obvious singles into its rich tapestry. The Compton gang-slang headknocker “Bicken Back Being Bool” feels more like an album track than a single, but like so much of what this guy does, it’s catchy as all hell, so maybe it’s not a surprise that it’s got its own video now. Director Alex Nazari starts things off with a long spoken-word fire-and-brimstone sermon, and he piles on the local Compton atmosphere before everything explodes into a gun battle. It’s a gripping video, and you can watch it below.
Lorde’s “Tennis Court” already had a bass-heavy weight to it, and now Diplo has only added more in his “Andrew Agassi Remix,” (mis)named for the all-time great tennis player Andre Agassi and released with a photo of Agassi as artwork. Whether Diplo is implying it is he or Lorde who is on an Agassi-level in music isn’t really clear, but it’s a remix that doesn’t mess with the song too much, simply amplifying the track’s already present strengths. Listen below.
Future seems to be on a mission to make videos for every one of the songs on Honest, his very good sophomore album. And the new video for the miasmic, thudding “T-Shirt” follows in the footsteps of the low-budget clips for “Blood, Sweat, Tears” and “Side Effects.” This one is a day-in-the-life sort of thing, and it follows Future from an airplane to a drug house, a shoe store, his house, and the stage at Birthday Bash, Atlanta’s biggest annual rap show. There are a few rapper cameos in there, too. Watch it below.
Lucki Eck$, an 18-year-old rapper from Chicago, released his debut mixtape last year. “Ouch Ouch,” produced by British singer FKA twigs (about to drop her own debut album), comes from his forthcoming mixtape BODY HIGH. FKA twigs also directed and starred in the video, a creepily hypnotic clip of what looks like either a séance or demonic possession shot on glitchy, grainy VHS tape. Watch it below.
Earlier this year, Johnny Foreigner released their slept-on fourth album, You Can Do Better. For whatever reason, the British four-piece never completely gained a foothold on this side of the pond in the way that contemporaries Los Campesinos or We Were Promised Jetpacks did, but it’s about time they were recognized for putting out consistently enjoyable and well thought-out punk. Their signing to Philadelphia’s Lame-O Records in the US should help. To celebrate the new relationship, the band is releasing a mixtape of reworked B-sides and demos from their archives, and “Candles” is a propulsive highlight in that collection. Listen below.
“Tied Up, Tied Down” was one of the best songs off TEEN’s recent album, The Way And Color, and now it has been paired with a music video, directed by Jordan Michael Blake, which approaches the tropes of teen love with the same surreal, psychedelic twist as the band gives to R&B. It follows a trio of identically dressed teen girls and a trio of boys who pair off and do things that teens do like make out, smoke cigarettes, drink milk (?), beat each other up in boxing matches until they vomit blood (??), and eventually turn into portals to outer space (???). The video tumbles further down the rabbit hole until the summer day shifts to night and things come to a haunting conclusion. Watch it below.
David Courtright, the Atlanta one-man experimental pop band known as Suno Deko, releases his Thrown Color EP tomorrow. Courtright brings a unique and compelling perspective to modern indie rock, one that bears traces of horizon-spanning works by global heavyweights Radiohead and Sigur Rós as well as the intensely personal, layered pocket symphonies of American auteurs such as Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox and Mutual Benefit’s Jordan Lee. Those are some fucking great influences, ones that have inspired lots of imitators over the years. Yet from the moment you hear Courtright’s mannered tenor quivering amidst the guitar-driven atmospherics, it’s clear he’s got something fresh and powerful to communicate. That much was clear from the title track and “Bluets,” and the rest of Thrown Color only affirms it. Listen to the full EP below.
The Brooklyn trio Bear In Heaven specializes in a form of synth-rock that finds room for grandeur and drama in all its bloops and twinkles. Time Is Over One Day Old, their new album, finds them deep in their groove, combining dance-music textures with huge and blown-out festival rock. We’ve posted the early tracks “Time Between” and “Autumn,” and now you can stream the entire expansively pretty, emotionally satisfying LP at NPR.
Time Is Over One Day Old is out 8/5 on Dead Oceans.var chartbeat_zone = "misc";