Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 8:55 am
Sigur Rós could be forgiven for sounding better on record than in concert. The Icelandic band's songs either billow out deliberately or stomp majestically, and in every case entail the building of layers upon intricate sonic layers. Plus, singer Jónsi — he of the otherworldly voice, singing mostly in a ghostly language of his own devising — is no Mick Jagger when it comes to calling attention to himself.
Brendan Benson has spent the past decade and a half curating a distinct and exciting sound, but his ascent hasn't been a smooth one. His debut album, 1996's One Mississippi, is considered a power-pop classic, but it sold poorly at the time of its release.
Welcome to the new modern. L.A. musician Nick Waterhouse and his band The Tarots are young revivalists who offer a contemporary spin on classic sounds. Waterhouse comes from a world of "record people" and grew up just down the road from The Distillery (an all-analog Costa Mesa recording studio which houses the old console from Muscle Shoals), so he was afforded the privilege of seeing how the music-making process used to work. Working in precise detail, he crafts and refines a sharp modern-vintage sound throughout his first album, Time's All Gone.
The blues may come in myriad shapes and sizes, but on the eve of 2012's South By Southwest music festival, it took the form of two sisters from Los Angeles: Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, who make up the core of Bleached. A rough-and-tumble garage-rock band, Bleached is one of many young punk-infused acts playing three-minute, three-chord bashers with sneering, unraveled immediacy. When played on stage, the band's music takes on a messy-but-fun live-wire buoyancy.
Archie Powell has been surrounded by music since he was little: His father was a violinist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Powell himself picked up the guitar at 11, so songwriting became a natural next step for the music prodigy. He joined up with his band The Exports — brothers Ryan, Adam and RJ Export play keyboards, bass and drums, respectively — soon after college. By 2010, the Chicago-based power-pop band was ready with its first full-length studio album, Skip Work.
I'm usually a fan of "between" albums — the ones that break away from an artist's established sound, either tentatively or extravagantly, exploring the extremes of inspiration. These records are often misunderstood upon immediate release, but offer clues to an artist's discography over time.
Passion Pit emerged from Boston's music scene just four years ago when musician Michael Angelakos recorded a collection of songs for his girlfriend as a Valentine's Day gift.
His brand of upbeat electronic pop soon found a much larger audience. These days, Passion Pit is known nationwide for its elaborate production and Angelakos' distinctive falsetto. The band will release its second album, Gossamer,July 24.