And more! Bully blast us back to '92, HiRSH and Jackie Highway freak us out and Chelsea Cutler tells us why she wants to be the female Odesza
Pop sucks (right now).
An alarming indictment, especially from the folks at Popdust. But if you've read one post-VMA write-up, you've read ten of them: pop music is failing us. Maybe it's the churn of T-swizzle's robo-whine greeting us into a new media cycle or maybe it was that photo of Katy Perry looked dazed by a fidget spinner aimlessly instead of singing about her devotion to our lord and savior. Even Fifth Harmony feels dampered by fake news; come on guys Fourth Harmony has such a ring to it.
Is all of that really what we need, now more than ever?
Which is probably why we've found ourselves collectively cheering on grumpy white dudes with guitars and miles north of thirty. Last week, grown-up New Jersey emo-belters Brand New hit the top of the Billboard 200 for the first time in their career, with the arrival of their warmly-received fifth album, Science Fiction (Procrastinate! Music Traitors), their first (and supposedly final) album in eight years. And there's a solid chance that it's spot this weekend will be taken by another comeback machine: James Murphy spent much of the past year selling out mid-size Brooklyn venues by the week-load and finally has something to show for it, LCD Soundsystem's big number four, American Dream (Columbia). It's a relative slow-burner compared to 2010's This Is Happening (there's no "Dance Yrself Clean" for the Spotify mix) but with enough subtly gorgeous moments to keep the scaplers in their nefarious business for years to come.
The National - "Day I Die"
The next week will also bring the return of another aging indie rock institution who has found surprising popularity in today's frantic clime: The National, who made their first number one on the Adult Alternative chart with "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" earlier this year. It's no coincidence that the album attached to, Sleep Well Beast (4AD) also happens to be their strongest in a decade, a coherent arrangement of the band's best parts: complex, layered, string instruments brought together only to be blasted through by frontman Matt Berninger's gravely baritone, a sound that's midway between Morrissey and the howling wind that rages on late-nights in Bushwick between refurbished warehouses.
The record's latest single, "Day I Die" both underlines this aesthetic with a sharpie, a sort of thesis statement of what the band can do when they're whatever the indie rock version of flexing is. This is important: if the National are America's Radiohead, they have to burn a few witches too: "Day I Die" lights the dry brush hoarded in the silo all summer long, the kind of antic, particularly crashing indie banger that most bands whip out once and never quite recapture, see: "Wolf Like Me" or "Maps." It immediately brings to mind the propulsive material of their 2007 breakout Boxer but it also fits in a way that, say, TV on the Radio's "Winter" or anything on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Mosquito didn't. Just listen to how tight guitarist and primary songwriter Aaron Dessner holds back the chorus, waiting until the perfect, most well-thought second to let Berninger's grovel explode.
Bully - "Running"
Reeling a little little further back in the retro column, we find the piecing, wail of Alicia Bognanno, frontwoman of Nashville grunge revivalists Bully. Their debut, the fittingly titled Feels Like, felt crusted in tar, searing jabs caked in the mud of the Wishkah that Boganno seemed to be trying to yell out of existence. It was released by Columbia, which felt like a strange fit, were these Madison Square folk in search of some wack slacks?
They're on Sup Pop now, a home that makes an overwhelming amount of sense, and their first single there, "Feel The Same" briefly communicated Bogannno's power as a narrative songwriter, lacing the song's power in a riff that Mike McCready wishes he could still find somewhere. "Running" is a longer exercise and most immediately establishes the kinetic dynamic between drummer Stewart Copeland and bassist Reece Lazarus, smart but capable of letting down their training when the moment calls for it. And there's no better occasion than Bogannno's searing blast of "I get anxious too!," delivered in that perfect studded octave of Courtney Love, circa '91.
Speaking of Love, Patty Schemel, who drummed for Hole back in the day, wrote a sincere essay for Sub Pop on the Bull's new sound, blurbing it as "perfect anthems for a generation still learning to harness the power of resistance." She also handily namechecks Sebadoh, Dino Jr. and the Breeders for comps and it sounds like she should know, right?
- The National (band) - Wikipedia ›
- The National - Home | Facebook ›
- The National - 'The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness' - YouTube ›
- How The National Got Their First Radio No. 1 (And Two Spins More ... ›
- The National - Albums, Songs, and News | Pitchfork ›
- The National (@the_national) | Twitter ›
- The National Online Store ›
- The National Tickets, Tour Dates 2017 & Concerts – Songkick ›