Posts Tagged ‘Cults’

You Call That A Shuffle?

July 19, 2016

The shuffler was getting a little dusty from neglect and apparently it was also a little rusty as this one is a little lackluster, but you can’t win ’em all:

  1. Pop Will Eat Itself, Shortwave Transmission On “Up To The Minuteman Nine, from This Is The Day…This Is The Hour…This is This! Three stars. A filler track at just over a minute long, there’s not much to this track.  The dubby drum fills are nice, but otherwise this is mainly some sampled voice tracks spliced together over a basic beat.  PWEI hasn’t particularly aged well (this album is from 1989), but I still have a soft spot for them as they were an early introduction to sample-based/industrial electronic music.
  2. Guns N’ Roses, Sympathy For The Devil, from Greatest Hits.  Three stars.  I’m usually a sucker for covers, especially when an artist takes something familiar and puts a twist on the original or takes a song and reconstructs it to make it their own.  This is neither, it’s a by-the-numbers rote recitation.  Compared to the original, it’s flat and boring.  And, it’s over a minute longer!  There’s certainly much more you could do to butcher an original, so it’s not offensive, but based on some other covers they’ve released this is disappointing.
  3. Cults, TV Dream, from Static.  Three stars. Another track at just over a minute long.  For a band that relies somewhat regularly on a slow buildup and/or guitar grooves, a minute long song doesn’t give much time for either of those and this song just meanders for a minute.  It doesn’t act as a great transition piece between the songs before and after it so not sure what the band was thinking what purpose this track would serve.  Singer Madeline Follin has a sweet voice though, so the track is not unlistenably bad.  They, like GNR, are just capable of so much more.
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SXSW 3/14/13 Guards

March 28, 2013

After Local Natives, we had wandered in the direction of where we thought French singer Fredda would be doing a set, but then realized she was playing far away at a hotel. We swung by the food truck caravan and got a call from our friends that they were in line at the Belmont and that we should get over there. We finished our grilled cheese (yummy) and walked over to see the large line at the Belmont.

Actually two lines, one for badges and one for wristbands, those without either weren’t getting in. The lines were mostly there because Flaming Lips was playing, but we had also been enticed by several other bands on our respective to-see lists. We had a nice chat with some folks from Sweden in line and then got in within minutes of the doors opening thanks to our badges.

We snagged a prime spot in a corner about 10 feet from the stage. It was an outdoor venue with a small stage, a small area in front of the stage where we were and then a bigger patio a few steps above the front area.

It was crowded but not packed when the first band, Guards, took the stage. This was not one if the bands we came to see and I mistook them for Surfer Blood when they first started playing due to the languid guitar pop sound coming from the stage. Oops, I obviously am not a connoisseur of either band.

For the opening band of a 7 band bill, they were surprisingly good which is a testament to the depth of talent that SXSW brings to the table. Silver Linings is a good representation of the band’s style and one of the songs from the set I recognized when listening to them after SXSW. It has a catchy chorus, a neat guitar riff, and elements that would evoke shoegaze as well as power pop in the same song.

Their live show had a bit more zing than their recorded material and guitarist Richie Follin ventured out into the crowd with his guitar near the end of the set. Apparently there was a memo encouraging this behavior sent to bands, this was not the first, or last time, we’d witness this.

I only learned afterwards that Follin is the brother of Cults singer Madeline Follin and played guitar on that group’s album. I’m a huge fan of that record and looking back I can see some similarities. Cults is probably a bit more poppy and has a more polished sound, the Guards a little fuzzier around the edges. Fuzzy was my last impression of the band as they left one by one in a buzz of feedback.

A good start to the night!

A Cult(s) I Can Get Down With

February 20, 2012

Cults – Bad Things from Cults

A lot of the songs I write about come from my musical roundhouse of my teens and early 20s, since those are the songs I’ve known the longest and are associated with good memories of youth.  As you get older, I find it harder to recapture that same feeling for new music.  You’re not the blank slate, musically, you were as a young person and impressions about music you hear now usually gets put through the prism of those hits from yonder.  Even when I really like something, it doesn’t stir that same feeling.

Well, the Cults got me.  From top to bottom, this album is full of songs that make me feel like a kid again.  After starting with the one-two punch of Abducted and Go Outside, the album continues with strong tunes showcasing Madeline Follin’s 60’s girl-pop ready voice and music heavy on catchy guitar riffs and piano/organ combos.  I could go on about their influences, but I’d rather talk about a song nestled toward the end of the record that I keep coming back to, Bad Things.

I get immediately hooked with the two-note piano combo that repeats itself along with handclaps that makes it sound like it could be the start to a RJD2 or DJ Shadow number (I was convinced the beginning was identical to RJD2’s Final Frontier, but there’s only a passing resemblance).  I also like that the first thing that gets added to that piano and handclaps is Follin’s voice, which is both sweet and strong.  So you get sixteen seconds of pure pop bliss.  Not that what follows isn’t beautiful too as they layer on more organs, drums, guitars that fit perfectly with the melancholy lyrics about running away and never coming back as “those bad things always keep coming” for her.

Like in the album’s lead single, real cult leader Jim Jones’ sampled voice provides a mid-song break that continues the ethereal tone of the song, but also sets you up for the slam dunk of guitar, drums, piano and Follin coming back for one more go-around.  And then when it fades to the organ/keyboards, you want them to kick it back in again, but alas, the song must end.  And then I go back and play it again.

(Sounds a little muddier than the original)

A Few More Odds and Ends from 2011

December 30, 2011

A couple last random thoughts that didn’t make it into my last post:

  • Following up on my mini-rant about Spotify, I did have a little back and forth with customer support on email that resulted in a suggestion to try downloading their new Beta version.  Not exactly fixing the existing problem, but for now it seems to have done the trick.  The new beta seems to be functioning well; still puzzled what happened with the production version I was running.  As I said before, I like the huge library they have and the ease of use, but I’m worried about the long-term viability of their service.
  • This week I started my Google Music account and downloaded a few free songs from their for sale collection on the Android Marketplace.  There’s some decent songs for free download that you might not have in your library.  It moved out of a beta version in November, I just hadn’t had the time to check it out until now.  The interface was easy to jump into and the ability to store up to 20K songs is intriguing.  I haven’t yet uploaded my music library, but probably will at some point, if for no other reason than to have it stored somewhere else than on my computer.  A good introductory how-to guide is on CNET.
  • In my thoughts on best of, I probably should have put another album that has gotten a lot of rotation in our house since it came out, the Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow.  It’s become a go-to album when you just want to relax and be soothed by some great voices accompanied by spare but beautiful guitar.  And the Cults self-titled debut is top-to-bottom filled with some really good tunes, try Bad Things for a track you probably haven’t heard from that album.
  • I’m just finishing up another Rough Trade music book, this one was called The Best Music You’ve Never Heard.  I really enjoyed this; while there are quite a few names that I recognized (though hadn’t necessarily listened to a great deal), there were also quite a few new singers and bands that were covered that I had never heard of.  Skewing a bit heavy on 60s era bands, there is still a lot to find for lovers of most music genres in here (section titles range from “I Write the Songs” about singer-songwriters to “Not for Export” covering reggae and world music).  I found enough stuff in here that I would at least like to check out to cover all of 2012.
  • I haven’t written much at all about soundtracks in this blog, but I recently bought my first full soundtrack in awhile.  I grew up with the Muppets: the TV show, the first Muppets Movie is the first movie I recollect seeing in the theaters, and I distinctly remember collecting the souvenir glasses from McDonald’s that were a tie-in to the Great Muppet Caper, I even dressed up as Animal for Halloween this year.  I recently went and saw the movie, and it was very good, suprisingly so.  Part of why it was so good was the music, which has always been an integral part of the Muppet experience.  Jason Segal and Amy Adams both have some good numbers and we’ve definitely been singing Man or a Muppet around our house.  My personal favorite is Fozzie’s bastardization of Rainbow Connection for a Reno casino lounge act.    Waka waka!
  • Leave you for the year with a track from the new Roots album (still digesting this one, not sure if it measures up to Things Fall Apart as a whole, but definitely some good grooves):