Four years after their last effort, 2008′s Keep Your Eyes Ahead, Portland-based indie rockers The Helio Sequence are set to release their fifth LP Negotiations this fall on Sub Pop Records. Earlier this summer, the duo unleashed “October”, a simple gem of a pop song rife with soaring melodies and spacious, Eno-esque production. Now they’ve treated us to “Hall of Mirrors”, a song with equal parts of melodic goodness and sonic interest. Both are streaming below for your listening pleasure.
Dirty Projectors have always come across as more of an experiment than a traditional band. Between their 2003 debut The Glad Fact and 2009′s landmark Bitte Orca, singer/songwriter David Longstreth and his collaborators treated each album as an opportunity to explore new, uncharted sonic territory. Like scientists of sound, they drew from such diverse palates as African drumming patterns and R&B vocal runs to create their unique and intellectual compositions. Dirty Projectors seemed inventive, but their uniqueness also lent itself to an air of pretension.
After listening to Swing Lo Magellan (Domino; 2012), Dirty Projectors’ latest release, I was thrilled to discover that David Longstreth has finally relaxed. Both lyrically and sonically, this is the simplest record that the group has ever produced. The sparse arrangements, distinctive vocals and full harmonies are refreshing, yet they feel more comforting than Bitte Orca did three years ago. If that album was a wave, then Swing Lo is a breeze. Gentler, warmer and ultimately, more rewarding.
Earlier today, Halifax Pop Explosion announced the stellar initial lineup for the 20th edition of the five-day event, set to take place in the third week of October. The festival is known for its innovative programming, pairing up international headliners and up-and-coming talent on the same stage. Artists who have been announced so far include psych-pop group of Montreal, electronic/darkwave singer Zola Jesus, Cold Specks, Atlas Sound and perennial east coast favourites Wintersleep. You can check out the full list of announced artists below, or visit the festival website for more information.
Typically, I don’t find myself wishing to foray into the worlds of film or television criticism. Though it is a craft that I admire from afar, my inexperience and general lack of knowledge on the subject usually stop me from ever making a comment myself. However, after watching (and subsequently re-watching) the new trailer for Baz Luhrmann‘s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, I feel as if I have something to say. Here are my (brief) thoughts:
“A lot of people listening to music now don’t listen to the songs or lyrics at all. They just go, “Good tones…” and that’s it. But we’re obsessed with songs. Sometimes, I feel like people aren’t listening to our songs, they’re just listening to the sound. “
Scally’s chagrin can be viewed as a gripe with twenty-first century music as a whole. In an age where music is both easily accessible and easily dismissed, the dual arts of album structure and song writing have been lost amongst many artists. Taking this into consideration, Beach House, a Baltimore-based dream pop duo, can be seen as traditionalists in the world of modern indie music. Over the course of four albums, including 2010′s sonic opus Teen Dream, the Beach House sound has remained steady, slowly improving with thoughtful refinements.
As a frequent visitor to the internet, I consider myself a bit of quasi-expert on online video. So, as I was watching Trampled By Turtles‘ excellent bluegrass/folk cover of Arcade Fire’s Rebellion (Lies) for The Onion AV Club’s consistently satisfying Undercover 2012 series, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another excellent Arcade Fire cover. In late March, Hey Ocean! (a Vancouver based folk-pop trio) and Aidan Knight (a Victoria singer-songwriter and musician) teamed up to create what has quickly become one of my favourite covers of all time.
I have always found the association of certain musical sounds with a specific season to be one of the more quirky elements of the music listening experience. Possibly the most prolific (and as such, easily defined) ‘musical’ season is summer, with many pop stars releasing singles to accompany an unabashed two-months of amusement for middle school kids all over the globe. While I may have lost some of my taste for sunny Katy Perry singles, I still have a strong appreciation for summer songs, and their mellow accompaniment on warm August nights.