The sibling-exclusive band archetype will always be an interesting dynamic in music. It’s not a new concept, yet I can’t help but contemporize—Haim is the newest and most cohesive sororal trio that I’ve heard in years, and their success may have inspired and aided other familial acts in the last few years. Besides their saccharine pop jams, idiosyncratic vocals and live performances, the trio has an undeniable and easy connection that seeps from their busy songs. Synthesizers and bass lines are caringly matched with their harmonies to the point where it sounds like their music exists in some sort of collective, transcendent Haim mind. And while I might be entirely wrong about the translation of a familial bond to music, it has to be a unique experience to create music with your kin.
I have the same gut feeling when I listen to STEGALL’s brand new, debut EP IV. These Canadian sisters, who boldly blend pop tropes from different genres, display their connections in their hook-laden, intricate songs. Just like with Haim, you get the sense that the three women enjoy making music together. Clara, Sydney and Liza Stegall introduce themselves with their first formatted release with an eclectic and organic approach to contemporary rock and pop. Clara’s muscular, clear vocals initiate the EP on the marching “We Better Fear”, yet a sauntering guitar melody, distortion effects and a quiet keyboard interlude all counter her pipes to introduce STEGALL as a band that’s interested in creating balanced, creative pop songs. “Glow” employs a similar trajectory of quiet/loud transitions, but finds Liza’s longing, anxious keyboard at the backbone of the track. The song presents the same type of strange, simultaneously danceable and head-banging music that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or LCD Soundsystem make, smartly straddling genres and challenging listeners.
Magic Bronson’s music, image and words work because they are irreverent and self-aware. Their debut album Wildlife, out this fall through War Cry, will definitely expand on their warm, loving perspective of life and its puzzling highs and lows. We’ve already heard the moody, electronically current “Golden” and the idiosyncratic groove of “Shivers”, and now the west coast group has shared “Fences”. Michael Nicastro’s deep and suave croon is still just as pleasant to hear, but the group transforms their signature mood into something sentimental and solemn on this new track. You can almost imagine “Fences” as the manifestation of morning-after doubt and naked consciousness following the debauchery of “Shivers”—the song rapidly descends into a sea of responsibility and reminds us that we’re all accountable for something.
Nicastro turns on the lights and pops the balloons from the night before as he recognizes those who support and care for him: “They make these sacrifices just to get us through the night/I look up to my mother and a tear comes to her eye/but she will be alright”. Through the candor of lyrics like these, Magic Bronson translates their self-awareness in good times to sobering moments of individuation and young adulthood. “Fences” becomes a metaphor for the struggle to feel in control and comfortable with both the burden of independence and the act of relinquishing modern anxieties in order to have fun. It’s a juggling act, but a normal part of everyday life, and Magic Bronson captures the paradox beautifully in “Fences”.
Listen to the new single above, and get excited for Wildlife, out this year on War Cry Records.
Valise is a new indie band based out of Dallas, TX. “Charlie Gray” is the first single off their upcoming album, Young Bloomer, which is due out October 14th. Combining a brooding melody, twinkling synths, shuffling hi-hats and even a string section — the track is a solid debut for the promising indie outfit who had a supporting gig for Death Cab for Cutie earlier this year. They’ll also be performing at Dallas’s Index-Fest in late September, with Local Natives and Dawes set to headline. Stream the effort below and get these guys on your radar.
In honor of Aphex Twin’s upcoming release, I’ll be posting a smattering of his best. These tracks remind us all what a *cliche alert* highly-influential genius he is. This track comes from his second and most experimental album: Selected Ambient Music Vol. II. Unlike Vol. I, Vol. II disregards beats all together and album consists mostly of just timbre. Obviously not for everyone, Selected Ambient Music Vol. II is one of the most immersive and densely creative albums ever released. Listening to it now, it’s very easy to hear its lasting influence on more popular artists like Radiohead. Enjoy.
Baltimore, Maryland is home to some of the most influential and halcyon millennial musicians and bands. The port city houses the headquarters of dream pop’s high watermark act Beach House, a new electronica forefather Dan Deacon and freak folk’s beloved Animal Collective. While these three acts—which only represent a sliver of the talent exploding from Baltimore—are incredibly different from each other, they have one trait in common: acute passion in their idiosyncratic sounds. Hearing Victoria Legrand sing “Zebra” makes you tear up in ways you never thought you could, just as Animal Collectives most contemporary pop tracks make you dance with a special kind of abandon. This musical fervor is the precedent that the Maryland city has set.
It makes sense then that a group of local acolytes are channeling the same sweaty intensity that the city has made notorious. Raindeer, the recently expanded solo project of Charlie Hughes is making lysergic, balmy pop that’s just as fun to listen to as it is committed to creating a unique sonic space. There are hints of Ponytail and Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips in the now five-piece band’s first singles; and in Hughes’ vocals, you can hear his love for Baltimore’s expressive vocalists. “This Is Rock N’ Roll” is a definite standout from their upcoming LP You Look Smashing. Its prismatic accordion loops and yelping vocals are juxtaposed with gorgeous harmonies and guitars that are drenched in the heat and joy of a humid Maryland summer. And even when the group dips into their influences, they sound audaciously individual at the same time. Hearing Raindeer’s new singles remind fans of Baltimore’s immense transformation of the new millennium’s most innovative rock and pop music. Don’t look away now—Raindeer is proof that the burgeoning scene hasn’t imploded yet.
Grouplove and Portugal. The Man have been busy on the road, currently co-headlining the Honda Civic Tour. They’ll be making a stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion next Friday, September 12th — and we’re pleased to announce that we’ll be giving away a pair of tickets! Grouplove, the quirky LA indie band and the Portland-based psych-rockers PTM are vastly different in style, but both known for their energetic live performances. And as if that weren’t enough cause for excitement, fellow Portlanders and indie rock outfit Typhoon will be joining them as well.
Sample some of the bands’ latest efforts below as you plot how to win your tickets. To enter, please shoot us a tweet @newdust or comment below. If you don’t win this one, you can still support these great groups by getting your tickets HERE. Hope to see ya there!
*Note, Rock & Bus will be providing rides from the Foggy Bottom metro stop, for those in need of transpo. Tickets jump after September 10th, so be sure to plan ahead. More details here.