It isn’t often in life that you get second chances. Whether it’s with a cute girl whose number you don’t ask for or a band whose name you don’t remember to write down, rarely do you get a second pass. Wild Nothing is a band that I was lucky enough to have re-enter my orbit and as they will shortly be debuting their sophomore LP the timing seems appropriate to have them make an appearance as my song of the week.
I first was introduced to Jack Tatum and his band Facepaint on a trip to my beloved college town of Blacksburg, VA in October 2009. Something about the ethereal sound, a perfect crowd size, and a couple PBRs struck me that night. I instructed my friends at Gillie’s that I needed to remember this band so I could check them out online later. Well, as with many things worth remembering, and even more that occur adjacent to Hokie football, I lost their name with that weekend.
A couple years later while listening through Hype Machine’s Best Albums of 2010 on Hype Machine I found myself drawn to #44, Wild Nothing’s Gemini. After taking pass after pass through the album, I started digging into the band’s Wikipedia page. The pieces quickly came together at that point, that band I saw playing for 60 people in Blacksburg had started receiving national attention.
I picked the title track off of their 2010 release as the song of the week over their new single Shadows (which is also awesome) largely because there isn’t much in the way of new live videos on YouTube yet. That said, the track Gemini is one of my favorite off the album and if you’re looking to learn what Dream Pop is all about, this one nails it. If you dig the sound, check out more of their catalog and additionally the band Viiv. Viiv is opening for Wild Nothing on their current tour and I’m excited to report I’ll be seeing that billing live in DC at the Rock and Roll Hotel in September.
Something I feel like my generation largely takes for granted is how easy it is to learn about your favorite bands. Whereas our parents were stuck scrounging for articles in a few limited publications and picking through cover notes, with a simple Google search in the 21st century you can harvest an almost overwhelming amount of information. With the internet we have access to music blogs and Wikipedia pages, unreleased b-sides and covers, and footage of shows we couldn’t attend ourselves.
One byproduct of this, and particularly as cellphones have become increasing ubiquitous, is that you can watch a band grow up online. As I was picking through YouTube videos of the Format, I stumbled across a performance at Sacramento State University from 2004. For those of you who didn’t know the Format, you likely know Fun (Nate Ruess’ subsequent band) and their 20-something fist-pumping anthem ‘We are Young’. Now honestly Fun doesn’t do very much for me, but it is wild to see this band playing for such a meager crowd when its offshoot can sell out three nights of the Wiltmore in LA with its capacity of 1,850.
The song of the week is one of the tracks from the band’s ‘meager crowd’ era. The album it is off of, ‘Interventions and Lullabies’ would eventually go on to substantial popularity on the indie music scene, so in all reality this ‘era’ didn’t last long. ‘The First Single’ is the lead off track of the album and really gives a pretty good sense of the albums musical direction: acoustic guitars, clear and relaxed vocals, and a healthy dose of hand clapping.
While some people will lament the Format breaking up and Fun being more pop than indie-rock, as long as a band or musician is playing the music they love, I’m happy to see them enjoy success. Anyone who has played a half-empty bar or basement, even the musical purists, would be lying if they claimed they had never daydreamed about hearing themselves on the radio. It’s clips like this that give the rest of us hope.
I imagine the majority of albums and tracks I’m going to cover on this blog are going to fall into the category of ‘new music’. But sometimes, a certain season, mood, or random seed reminds you of an old favorite.
The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘The 59 Sound’ is one of one of those favorites. The album is 12 tracks of New Jersey born Americana that ooze with a grit and soul that would make Bruce Springsteen proud. Perhaps then, it’s less surprising that the Gaslight Anthem spent 2009 touring in support of the Boss’ recent resurgence. This pairing bolstered the band’s popularity and broadened its appeal from a younger generation, already wondering aloud if Brian Fallon, lead singer and songwriter, was rock & roll’s savior, to an older generation that, though likely incredulous, could connect back to a time when rock & roll didn’t need one.
I had the pleasure of seeing TGA play shortly after the release at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. I wish I had known their material a little better before going to the show because the album is packed to the brim with anthems. One real foot-stomper is the album’s namesake. There are a number of great clips online of ‘The ‘59 Sound’ live, but this version from Glastonbury (with a special guest) may be most appropriate.
After a winter that never came, a beautiful spring has arrived in Virginia. With the warm weather, an apt single has started to receive spin on national alt stations. Lonely Forest, a band from the small coastal town of Anacortes, Washington has been lighting up the radio waves with ‘Turn Off This Song and Go Outside’ from their 2011 release Arrows.
So turn off, turn off this song find someone to love turn off this song you can listen to it later and go outside
The track is reminiscent of early Jimmy Eat World. A brilliant hook and an atmospheric mixing deliver a sound that is able to offer nuance as well as the backdrop to your summer nights. The video, which is filmed in Anacortes, captures the likely inspiration for the song and provides vibrant imagery that ties well.
Arrows is filled with many other strong tracks that capture the richness of the rural Pacific Northwest. “Coyote” and “We Sing In Time” are worthy of a check out, though while you’re at it, I’d highly recommend giving the entire album a spin.
Finals are approaching, and that means I need some fresh music to ‘carry me’ through. Last year I was lucky enough to stumble upon Wild Nothing’s – Gemini. This year I’ve been charmed by Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and her infectious band Of Monsters and Men.
Now I wouldn’t describe myself as being into Icelandic Folk-Pop, but the band is undeniably affable. The dual vocals are done masterfully Nanna’s voice is breathy, yet bright, and her band mate Raggi’s is a smooth compliment.
Little Talk is the debut single off the band’s first EP – Into the Woods and is responsible for catapulting the band onto the international stage.
With an aggressive international touring schedule (I’m jealous of anyone who caught them at SXSW) and their newly released album ‘My Head is an Animal’ this band is almost guaranteed to explode over the next couple months. In the mean time great tracks like ‘Mountain Sounds’ and ‘Your Bones’ will be the backdrop to my late nights of ‘Advanced AI’ and ‘Algorithms.’