Sunday, August 19, 2012
Another month, another mixtape. This time around we not only look back to the songs that got constant rotation in July, but we also give it a new name. It was one of those happy accidents that was stumbled upon when putting together last month's June 2012 Mixtape, so now we implement it with the July 2012 Mixtape below. Instead of referring to this series with the clunky "Monthly Favorites Mixtape" moniker we switch it up with the sleeker (and more concise) "Monthly Backtracks." I have to admit, it felt like a stroke of genius coming up with that. Clearly, it's the simple things that make me happy.
July's mixtape still has its share of synths, twisted and barbed one moment, sparkling and almost seductive the next. But unlike the previous Monthly Backtracks mixtapes, July took a turn away from feedback-soaked shoegaze and dream pop instead moving towards some spiky post punk. So let's get to it, and as always, listen loud and become immersed.
July 2012 Mixtape
1. Purity Ring, "Obedear": This Montreal electropop duo aims more for the head than it does for the dancefloor. That's not to say that their debut album, Shrines, won't be moving bodies, but with beats this ghostly, a track like "Obedear" would be just as suited for soundtracking a seance as easily as it would a goth club.
2. Divine Fits, "My Love Is Real": It's easy to use the word "supergroup" when describing Divine Fits. After all, the band consists of Spoon's Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs), and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks. And while their debut single, "My Love Is Real" hints at the New Wave-indebted synthpop that Boeckner explored with Handsome Furs, their forthcoming album, A Thing Called Divine Fits (due out on Merge on August 28th) comes across as a more cohesive effort; a product of two pop savvy artists joining forces for the simple reason of creating great songs. Have an advanced listen to the album on NPR by clicking here.
3. Twin Shadow, "Beg For The Night": If there was any album that surprised me this year, it would be Twin Shadow's sophomore release, Confess. Where its predecessor, 2010's Forget, re-imagined 80's New Wave as bedroom pop, Confess is much more realized, as George Lewis, Jr. catches up to his aspirations with bigger production and a bigger sound. "Beg For The Night" is one of the album's highlights, with its sweeping synths and Lewis' romantic croon almost setting the stage perfectly for a climactic prom scene in the best movie John Hughes never got to make.
4. Crystal Castles, "Plague": Crystal Castles aren't exactly known for their subtlety. And while "Plague" eventually gets to that familiar terrain that we've come to expect from them where synths shriek just as much as singer, Alice Glass, it's those surprisingly quiet moments that serve as the calm before the storm that makes this an unexpected journey.
5. Icky Blossoms, "Sex to the Devil": Easily my most recent discovery to make it onto this Monthly Backtracks mixtape, this Omaha, Nebraska synthpop act isn't just a throwback to decades past. Despite a somewhat unfortunate band name, they mix in some indie rock coolness and a touch of R&B swagger. "Sex to the Devil" is one of their debut album's more sweat-inducing moments.
6. Holograms, "Astray": Stockholm's Holograms took me off-guard. Often times, I find myself referring to them as a more accessible version of Denmark's Iceage, one of last year's favorite discoveries. But where Iceage delves into Joy Division-inspired, death-rock, Holograms has a slightly slicker approach making catchy post-punk that teeters on the edge of New Wave. "Astray" steers away from its bristly guitars at just the right time as wobbly keyboards and handclaps sweetens some of the song's rough edges.
7. Mission Of Burma, "Dust Devil": There isn't much that needs to be said about iconic Boston punks, Mission Of Burma. Since hitting the "restart" button in 2002, they've just about tripled their initial 80s album count and they've done so without losing any of their edge or softening their sound. Their latest, Unsound, finds them still as visceral as ever. Young punk bands are still playing catch-up.
8. The Vaccines, "No Hope": London's The Vaccines seem like they're on the verge of becoming the biggest band in the world mixing messy garage rock and bratty punk, with just a small touch of noise-pop. But don't be fooled by the title of their new album, The Vaccines Come Of Age (due out in September), because it's still filled with jittery guitars and themes of youthful confusion. The album's lead single, "No Hope" doesn't pull any punches turning awkward growing pains into a celebratory battle cry. Apathy hasn't sounded this good since the 90's.
9. JEFF The Brotherhood, "Country Life": Nashville brothers, Jake and Jamin Orrall may keep their setup minimal, relying on just guitar, drums, and vocals, but their songs aren't simple and mindless. They take fuzzy garage rock and mix it with catchy Blue album and Pinkterton-era, Weezer-like power pop. Their latest, Hypnotic Nights is their most high-profile release, thanks to some production work from Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. "Country Life" opens the album and to be honest, it's that mid-song handclap breakdown that completely wins me over. What can I say? I like handclaps.
*not included on the Spotify playlist*
10. The New Highway Hymnal, "Out With The Lights": Just another kickass tune from this Boston psych rock quartet. It's like a boozed-up Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on a drunken bender. And I mean that in the best possible way.
So there you have it. Until the next mixtape. Keep it loud!