Bandcamp is a free, no frills website creation tool for musicians looking to post a few songs to share with friends, family, and (if they’re lucky) fans. A little over a month ago, three songs, “Go Outside,” “Most Wanted,” and “The Curse,” were posted on the profile of a totally unknown artist named Cults. Over the course of the last few weeks, Cults has become a viral sensation and one of the most talked about new acts of 2010. Their three songs have been featured on seemingly every major music blog, even earning them the coveted Best New Music tag from Pitchfork, and yesterday, Forest Family Records, a new venture by popular bloggers Gorilla vs. Bear and Weekly Tape Deck, announced that their first release will be a 7” vinyl from Cults.
Even by interweb standards, that’s an improbable overnight success. Their music is best described as Lo-fi Pop, and it has a vintage sixties soul sound to it. Personally, I dig it, hence it being featured here and all. You can download all three songs below or at their website if you’re interested in checking it out and if you’re interested in learning more about the band themselves, check out this recent interview.
Cults – Go Outside
Cults – Most Wanted
Cults – The Curse
“Most Wanted” is definitely my favorite, but I enjoy all three.
It’s pretty much obligatory when writing about The Soft Pack that you mention that the band’s former name was The Muslims. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about music. Between their two 7” releases and the ubiquity of “Parasites” on mixtapes, I feel like I’ve been hearing about The Soft Pack forever, but their new LP, The Soft Pack, is their proper debut album. I haven’t heard the whole thing yet because there are simply too many good albums to keep up with these days, but “Answer to Yourself” has been in heavy rotation on Sirius XMU the last couple months and it’s quite a catchy little number. Nothing fancy here, just straight up rock and roll. Download it below, courtesy of RCRD-LBL.
The Soft Pack – Answer To Yourself
If you’re a fan of mashups you might dig this new mixtape by Wait What that I found over on Seizure Chicken. It’s worth checking out for the randomness of the pairing alone. The Notorious B.I.G. is probably the most mashed up artist of all time, but I’ve never heard him mixed with a new artist like The xx before. If you’e not familiar, they’re pretty hot right now, and you may have heard their music in television commercials, like VISA’s speed skating spot from the Olympics, or on Grey’s Anatomy (my girlfriend watches it, shut up). You can hear the first track below, a mashup of “Dead Wrong” and the “Intro” track from The xx’s 2009 debut album XX, and if you’re still interested you can download the whole mix for FREE here.
The Notorious XX – Dead Wrong Intro
It’s going to take a few days to fully digest this, but the first single from the third and possibly final LCD Soundsystem LP just hit the web a few hours ago. I don’t really expect the as-yet-unnamed album to be as good as their last album, 2007’s Sound of Silver, which was my #1 album of the last decade, so I’m tempering my expectations and just trying to enjoy this for what it is. But what it seems to be so far is a whole lot of fun.
There are lots of great bands with new records coming out this year, in fact it’s getting harder every day to name one that isn’t and it’s only March. Another addition to the list is The National who recently announced the release of their new album, High Violet, which will be out in May. That’s the same month as new releases by The Black Keys, New Pornographers, Band of Horses, and Broken Social Scene. Hell, there’s even a Stone Temple Pilots album coming out! With all due respect to the bands I just mentioned, all of whom I am a fan of, I am definitely most psyched about The National. Their last album, 2007’s Boxer, which made my Top 50 albums of the decade, is one of the most gorgeous albums I’ve ever heard. If you don’t own it you need to get it immediately. No, I’m serious, stop whatever you are doing right this second and go buy it, you’ll thank me later.
“Bloodbuzz Ohio” is the first song released off the new album, that’s the cover art above, and it was posted on the band’s website just yesterday. Check it out below.
The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
They are also currently on tour and will be playing Boston’s House of Blues on June 2nd and 3rd.
Punk rock and the indie movement it spawned are historically seen as an adverse reaction to the 1970’s easygoing brand of hippie rock and its prevalence on American radio. The popularity of this music hasn’t waned a bit as classic rock is still one of the go-to radio formats, but for new artists making this style of music the going has been anything but easy. Most have jumped on the Grateful Dead bandwagon and become a part of the jam band scene, and while many have built a healthy touring business, they are often dismissed as nostalgia acts and their new releases are largely dismissed by mainstream and indie publications.
By the end of the 90’s, the indie scene had grown softer (Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie), so maybe it was only a matter of time before the 70’s sound found some acceptance in indie circles, and over the last five years or so many of its younger disciples have actually managed to cross over. Now these aren’t jam bands per se, they’re usually labeled southern rock, country rock, or folk rock, but they clearly take their cues from artists like the Dead, CSNY, Allman Brothers, Eagles, et al. The most successful has been My Morning Jacket, but other notable acts include Fleet Foxes, Midlake, The Avett Brothers, and Blitzen Trapper.
Blitzen Trapper just announced a new album and tour yesterday and released a new song, “Heaven and Earth” as a free download, which you can check out below. It’s a ballad, which makes sense since their biggest successes so far have been the singles “Black River Killer” and “Furr” (just about my favorite song of 2008), but don’t be fooled, these guys can rock too. Both of their last two albums, 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation and 2008’s Furr, are worth checking out if you’re craving that old school vibe.
Blitzen Trapper – Heaven and Earth
Most music blogs aren’t written for everybody, they’re written for people like me. These blogs are like A&R people scouting their local scenes to discover new acts and introduce them to their readers, many of whom are also bloggers. Consequently, the music blogs, and in turn the indie rock world, tend to revolve around “flavor of the month” artists. Occasionally there might be an Arcade Fire or Vampire Weekend that comes along, but in general, most of these artists aren’t a must listen for most music fans.
L.A.’s Local Natives was a popular flavor last year, and as it turns out, the hype was justified. Their first full-length album Gorilla Manor, released in the UK late last year, finally came out here in February and it’s one of the better debuts I’ve heard in awhile. It even earned the coveted Best New Music blessing from Pitchfork. It’s almost too good, like you could easily see it being played ad nauseum in Gossip Girl or at Starbucks. One song, “Airplanes,” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Maroon 5 album, or at least what I imagine a Maroon 5 album would sound like.
These guys could easily be this year’s Grizzly Bear or Dirty Projectors, two acts they’ve been accused of ripping off, and while I see what some of their critics are saying, their talent is undeniable and their songwriting abilities are more than just the sum of their influences. Unlike other new artists to recently make a splash (The xx, Surfer Blood, Real Estate), their sound is less raw and much further developed. A great example is “Sun Hands,” which was released to the web last summer, and is one of the best songs on the album. You can download it free below courtesy of NME (the last minute and a half rips BTW).
Local Natives – Sun Hands