Author Archives: Greg W

The New Swedish Hitmaker

If imitation is flattery, Karin Dreijer Andersson (of Fever Ray and the Knife) is welcome to hubris of Kayne-ian proportions.

In 2005, Jose Gonzales recorded a stripped down version of the Knife’s ‘Heartbeats‘ for his album ‘Veneer.’  The song reached #9 on UK’s Singles Charts while propelling Gonzales to indie rock respectability and CW soundtracks everywhere.  Now, Swedish folk-rock outfit First Aid Kit is taking a similar approach, reworking the eerie Fever Ray track ‘When I Grow Up‘ into a significantly more approachable affair.

Free NoiseNarcs publicity to the first band to re-imagine 2003’s “You Take My Breath Away.”

Jose Gonzalez – Heartbeats [buy Veneer]
First Aid Kit – When I Grow Up (Fever Ray cover) [buy First Aid Kit tracks]
The Knife – You Take my Breath Away [buy Deep Cuts]

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Monday Music: The other Portuguese edition

#15 in the field, but always #1 in our hearts...

My brother and I have a tendency to make lists.

In younger days, discussions often came down to naming the top Pirates pitchers (Doug Drabek), the best WWF matches (Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon), and the best Ghostbuster (Egon).  But as we grew older, and dreams of athletic glory and paranormal activity passed, our lists began to focus on things a little more immediate. (best beers, top Arrested Development episodes, etc.)

So when we decided earlier this year to make a trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza, questions quickly turned to “What are the top five bands you must see?”,  “What’s the #1 conflict on your schedule?”,  and “What’s the first can’t-miss song of the weekend?”

To the final question, the answer was a quick, and unexpected, “The Rat.”  Even though I hadn’t put the Walkmen near my top 5 must-see bands, “The Rat” elicited such careening, uninhibited chaos, that seeing that song performed toward the very start of the festival just had to be a harbinger of the raucous weekend imagined to come.

“The Rat” kicked-off a festival that, while not always raucous, was appropriately careening.  Joined alongside it were two excellent tracks from the new album Lisbon, “Angela Surf City” and “Stranded.”  I haven’t had the opportunity yet to purchase the rest of the album, but if the two songs were any indication, the Walkmen are quickly approaching top-5 territory.

The Walkmen – The Rat (purchase Bows and Arrows)
The Walkmen – Stranded (purchase Lisbon)

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The Truth Is…

So its true that I haven’t posted in a while, but the truth is, while I’ve started a number of posts, there hasn’t been a monumental song to inspire me.  That is, until recently.

“Truth” by Alexander (or Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) is that song. It’s yet to officially be released – word has it that the album will come out sometime this winter (though I’m yet to find a reputable source).  Until then, what follows is a fairly low-quality You-tube version.  There’s a strong Enrico Morricone influence, a trance-inducing cadence, and plenty of NoiseNarc approved whistling.  Enjoy, and be sure to buy the album once it comes out.

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1-Up: Here Comes the Sun

(courtesy of Mike Perry Studios)

1-up is a regular feature in which we drop a quarter into music we had once written off.

By all accounts, my first listen to Olivia Tremor Control should have  been transformative.  1996’s Dusk at Cubist Castle was a poppy, meandering jaunt through a Sgt. Pepper fantasyland.  A flash of seratonin-laced brilliance in a muddled, rainy landscape.  It should have been a welcome reminder that the 90’s didn’t have to be all grim, frustrated, and downright bleak.

But I was foolish.  I took my Vitamin D, mentally connected Olivia Tremor Control with the Beatles, and tossed the whole thing (along with the rest of Elephant 6) in the bottom of the sock drawer.

It was a mistake – I heard OTC, thought of the Beatles, and proceeded to fall in love with Brit-Pop.

Now, armed with a collection of Stereophonics and Supergrass records, I find myself returning to my Athens, Georgia-based Brit-Pop roots.  Turns out they have another album – 1999’s Black Foliage:  Animation Music, Volume 1.   I think I still have $7 left in my LaLa memorial iTunes account.  It looks like there will be sunny days ahead.

Olivia Tremor Control – No Growing

Olivia Tremor Control – Hideway

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Sleigh Bells… a belated rebuttal.

Brillobox (w/ Popo and Nerve City). July 3rd

When Dave wrote his ‘Anni Rossi reminds me… of my sexism‘ article a while back, my initial reaction was to write a rebuttal.

I did a quick name check and, while not a majority, I ran through some of my favorite bands of the past five years, many featuring not only female musicians, but female singers.  Metric… The Knife… Asobi Seksu… Stars… and then, with outrage quickly replaced by apathy and hunger, I wrote nothing.

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to a hockey game when the Sleigh Bells track, “Crown on the Ground” came over the radio.  Upon hearing it, I wasn’t sure whether it was something I hated or loved, but I definitely couldn’t turn it off.  Since then, curiosity has turned to pure fandom.  By paring brash distortion with the calm, rhythmic vocals of Alexis Krauss, the song moves from something unapproachable to something irresistible.

For something a bit more accessible, there’s “Rill Rill”, an acoustic chanting number with stripped down percussion.  It may also come with some of the most catchy and nonsensical lyrics of the summer (“sixteen six six six like a heart attack”).

Sleigh Bells – Crown On the Ground

Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill

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Funeral Party (in support of Julian Casablancas) – Cleveland, April 3

The Funeral Party (mid-party)

If you are a young band going on tour in support of the leader of the garage rock revival, it seems likely that your sound is already pretty well set in stone: grab the guitars and prepare the brooding, lo-fi melodies. Particularly when your name is shared with that of a Cure song. Particularly when that song is ‘The Funeral Party.’

Which is precisely what makes the sounds of the East LA 5-piece so shocking. With cowbells, synths, handclaps, and guitar solos reserved for a workout montage, the Funeral Party leaves all visions of a Paul Banks-ian dystopia in the dust. Extending the energy of a 90 second punk track to a four-minute freak out, the Funeral Party fuses yelping vocals with busy bass lines and disco beats, bringing to mind bands like the Rapture, !!!, and a happier Mars Volta.

So listen to ‘The Funeral Party’ and stop brooding. It’s time to dance.

The Funeral Party, “Carwars”

Oh, and if you haven’t yet heard the new Julian Casablancas, here’s a track to whet your appetite.

Julian Casablancas, “Left & Right in the Dark”

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Ice Cold – Groovy!

In honor of Snowpacalypse/Snowmageddon/Snowapalooza, here are two drastically different songs about blizzards.

Nada Surf – Blizzard of ’77
Trini Lopez – The Blizzard Song

Posted in Random Noise | 8 Comments

Where I'm From (Pittsburgh version)

A quick look at Pittsburgh today would reveal nothing of tension.  That is, to all observant parties, its character is pretty well-defined.  To the inertial outsider, Pittsburgh stands as a classicist model of blue-collar efficiency, as reliable a vision as its fuel-driven benefactor evokes (until, of course, it isn’t).  To the entrenched insider, however, Pittsburgh is rapidly-evolving, prodded by the quick growth of technology sectors, evidenced by the expansion of both Google and robotics research, and modeled by its spry, distracted, and exuberant younger-class.  However, with such a distinct contrast, tension is inevitable.  This not only has created an underlying identity crisis, but has resulted in gentrification and complicated, though polite, generational dynamics. 

It is in this context that Good Night, States resides.  On their most recent EP (appropriately titled In the Impossible Tension), strain abounds.  Antiquainted organs clash with modern drum machines.  Dissonant vocals warn of happy times.  An opening guitar riff quickly attempts to rush ahead as its surrounding band tries mightily to hold it back. 

Thus, it is my contribution (for now) to the “Where You’re From” thread.  An outsider might view Pittsburgh through Donnie Iris’s “King Cool” glasses.  City-dwellers may relate through Wiz Khalifa or Girl Talk’s turntables.  However, in uncertain times, a band as prone to haunting melodies as it is to Wilco-inspired freakouts seems to best exemplify just what it is that Pittsburgh may, or may not, stand for.

Good Night States – River in the Dry (from “In the Impossible Tension”)
Night States – The Family Dark (from “Short Films on Self

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