Posts Tagged ‘Foxygen’

2014 Year End Roundup Part 2

December 27, 2014

I covered some of my favorite hard/garage rock songs of 2014 here. Next up is a mix of some of my favorite miscellaneous rock, Scandinavian pop, and folk-y songs. Again, you can download an MP3 of the mix here.

1. Down From the Rafters, Hundred Waters from The Moon Rang Like A Bell. Picking up on the slow vibe of the end of my last mix, Hundred Waters serves up an atmospheric tune that swirls around Nicole Miglis’ Bjork-like vocals, builds to a subtle groove and then fades back into the air.

2. Lonely Press Play, Damon Albarn from Everyday Robots. A lovely, shuffling track indicative of the mostly somber mood of his first solo album. As usual, Albarn’s voice fits this style well (see any of the slow pieces from a Blur album). Some took the grayness of the album as an indication of a boring affair, but I think there’s a lot of interesting things to find in here if you stay with it and give it a few listens.

3. Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes, Sun Kil Moon from Benji. Continuing the somber mood with a standout track from Mark Kozalek’s acclaimed release. Journaling as music, he pulls no punches with lyrics that tackle life’s problems surrounded, in this song at least, by the terror of the Nightstalker. His vocals have their own cadence that is the rhythm accompanying his guitar until the vocals end and a drumbeat kicks in to take you home.

4. Silver Timothy, Damien Jurado from Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Moving a little bit more towards rock but with a spacey vibe on a standout from a solid album. The lyrics have a faint echo which contribute to the feel this song was recorded on a spaceship hurtling through deep space, the guitars spewing out the back of the ship as it hits interstellar overdrive.

5. Goodbye Weekend, Mac DeMarco from Salad Days. This track exemplifies the consistent vibe throughout this album, relaxed and welcoming. Perfect summer album for sitting on your porch with a beer and doing nothing. He sings about not telling “the boy” how to lead his life, but it’s a mild protest from someone who doesn’t really want to be bothered from getting up from that porch.

6. Are You With Me Now, Cate Le Bon from Mug Museum. Snuck in a late 2013 release that I didn’t hear until this year, but it seemed to fit in with the mix’s vibe. A sweet voice that evokes 60’s folk for me, this was a perfect song to start a morning at SXSW this year.

7. Hi-Five, Angel Olsen from Burn Your Fire For No Witness. A little country, rock, folk and a dash of punk defiance made this another album that is finding itself on a lot of top tens. A really spectacular voice that trembles with emotion along with her guitar on this song.

8. Blue Moon, Beck from Morning Phase. This album got some unfair criticism in my opinion for trying to create an album evoking pain and loss when Beck is not in a position currently in his life where he’s experiencing those things. I think this was more a reaction to the rawness of Kozalek’s album that came out around the same time more than anything. “Disingenuous” or not, I think this was a beautifully crafted record.

9. The Body Electric, Hurray For The Riff Raff from Small Town Heroes. Some more folk with elements of rock and punk influence, a sad and powerful song about violence, its effects and taking away the murder ballad from men. A good live act too, with a lot of upbeat songs to play off songs like this one.

10. Shattered & Hollow, First Aid Kit from Stay Gold. You wouldn’t know it from listening to this song, but this sister duo hails from Sweden. The sheen of Swedish pop is in their DNA as each album they’ve put out gets more polished, but they are rooted in American folk for sure.

11. Just One of the Guys, Jenny Lewis from The Voyager. Don’t sleep on this one because it came out near the end of the year! Really good stuff, a great chorus and hook that she seems to be able to effortlessly create and deliver every time she puts out a new album.

12. Younger, SW/MM/NG from Feel Not Bad.  Second band from Sweden on the mix, and though they have Swedish pop sensibilities, their music seems to have a grander, more epic scope (think Sigur Ros) than your average Swedish pop song.

13. Whatever That Means, Highasakite from Since Last Wednesday. Another Scandinavian band, though unlike First Aid Kit, this Norwegian group sounds much more like you’d expect to hear from Scandinavia. Pop beats filtered with ephemeral female vocals and soaring melodies. Saw these guys at SXSW on a rainy morning, which was the perfect setting for experiencing them for the first time.

14. Name on a Matchbook, Springtime Carnivore from Springtime Carnivore.  No, it’s not another Scandinavian group, though I thought this fit in well with those groups.  No, this band is from right here in LA, and I may or may not have been getting my hair cut next to the bassist for this band a few months ago.  Anyway, a nice piano part and some nice vocals anchor this summer-y indie pop song.  And some good whistling!

15. , Foxygen from …And Star Power. I haven’t decided yet how I feel about this album as a whole, it’s certainly not as focused as last year’s excellent effort. This song is in the wheelhouse of that album, well-crafted psychedelic 60’s pop with witty lyrics. It’s happy and wistful at the same time, fitting in well with the previous few songs.

16. Unkinder (A Tougher Love), Thumpers from Galore. End this mix with another Euro-pop number. Last year when I saw Bastille I really liked it but never thought I’d be hearing them on American Top 40 radio. This song seemed to have the same elements (bouncing beat, manicured vocals) but they haven’t made the same leap. Yet.


Foxygen @ The Echo 3/29/2013

March 30, 2013

We missed Foxygen at SXSW due to them pulling out of their last couple shows in Austin.  We weren’t too bummed because we had tickets to see them at the Echo in LA tonight.  We arrived to hear the second band on the bill Sam Flax, who had a lead singer glammed out in a gold top and lipstick and a bassist who, depending on the angle, looked either 18 or 50.  They had some good grooves but nothing special, to be honest.

Once Foxygen took the stage, there was a mania that took over parts of the audience which corresponded to the stage.  Lead singer Sam France was full of bombast, gestures, and a great voice that unfortunately got lost during most of the Echo’s not-that-great sound system.  The band careened through a bunch of songs that were raucous but still easy to listen to before getting to the first of the triumvirate of songs you’ve probably heard, Shuggie.  On this song they seemed to settle into a calm for a few moments before exploding again into full-on rockiness.

Foxygen at the Echo.

Foxygen at the Echo.

France had been wearing a black hoodie during the first half of the show but then he threw it off for a white t-shirt that had scrawled “DIGITAL” on the front and “ANALOG” on the back.  The standouts for them “San Francisco” and “No Destruction” were really great, as they toned down the volume a little and let France’s vocal stylings get to the forefront.  “No Destruction” in particular is such a great song and they nailed it live, it showed the full potential of the band.  It’s one of the best songs of the 10’s in my opinion.

And then to counteract that, they left midset, as a joke apparently, and then came back after about 30 seconds and admitted that the joke hadn’t worked.  Later, a person in the audience shouted how they had not gotten to see them at “Southby” due to their cancellation of their last few days of shows.  I cringed, as given the state of the band (who had just canceled their European tour due to exhaustion), I was worried that France would say “fuck this” and leave.  But, guitarist Rado gave a witty “you should have come earlier” and they started their next song.

I hope this band can get their traveling act together because I think they really have something to show people.  Despite the uneveness, they had great energy throughout their set.  With their two main contributors in their early 20s, I can understand the ups and downs, and I hope the hiatuses serve them well and aren’t a harbinger of a breakup of the band.  To highlight the chaos of their set, they brought up guys from the opening band Wolf Thompson and tried (and maybe succeeded?) at setting the Guinness World Record for most tambourine players on stage at once (I counted five).  After the tambourines shuttled off, they played one more song that kept up the clatter of most of the set but somehow had people grooving along.  When they finished, it was obvious the crowd wanted more, but there was not going to be another 30 second fake-out.  The show was over.  I hope to see these guys again.