Tag Archives: jangle rock

Beach Fossils’ New “Somersault” a Must for your Summer Soundtrack

25 Jul

Beach Fossils is an indie rock trio out of Brooklyn, New York, led by frontman, Dustin Payseur. Formed in early 2009 and known initially for a lo-fi, hazy vibe, Beach Fossils has embraced more of a jangle-rock sound in its current album, Somersault, the first new release from the band in four years.

The album incorporates a number of instruments that Beach Fossils hasn’t used much (or at all), including harpsichord, piano and even flute — plus ample servings of strings. The additional creativity in composing and arranging has paid immediate dividends with Somersault earning largely excellent reviews.

Pitchfork described the album as containing “Dustin Payseur’s most nuanced songs to date.” Paste said, “Thanks to a rich sonic palette and more dynamic songwriting, (Beach Fossils) has turned in their best collection of jangly indie rock songs so far.”

If you enjoy bands such as New Jersey’s Real Estate, I promise you’ll like the latest from Beach Fossils.

Track highlights: Somersault opens with a glistening example of jangle-pop that’s every bit the equal of anything Real Estate has done — with all due respect to Real Estate’s excellent releases. “This Year” moves with pace and energy created by Payseur’s bouncy bass line, topped with the welcome jangle of Tommy Davidson’s guitar. It’s the album’s lead single, and a good one.

The second track transitions to a bit of a breezy, jazzy feeling. “Tangerine” features vocals from Rachel Goswell, guesting from the band, Slowdive. The strings give the song a polish and timelessness that recall sunny afternoons spent on distant beaches.

“St. Ivy” evolves beyond the usual jangle-rock into mid-tempo dream pop that sounds like it came out of the late 1970s a la Hall & Oates. There’s jazz flute in the lead break and then the song flows into the Valley of the Beatles, with rich strings and a George Harrison-like lead guitar part. This represents a new level of sophistication for the band.

Track four offers another crystalline jangle-rock standard called “May 1st.” The album continues with one delight after another and more than enough variety to avoid repetition, including its share of more serious lyrical messages and even some rap.

The second-to-last song is yet another highlight, a jangle-rock epic recalling Fleet Foxes’ influence called “Be Nothing.” The track builds to a big jam that shows the range Beach Fossils has as the band continues to mature. Somersault is clearly worth your notice.



Eternal Summers “Gold and Stone” Offers Great Guitar Rock

24 Sep

Eternal Summers came of age in Roanoke, Virginia in 2009/2010, at a time when retro-surf music was all the rage. The duo (soon to become a trio), which early on toured with bands such as Best Coast, was a perfect fit — able to crank out heavily reverbed, guitar-driven beach music.

But even then — led by singer/songwriter Nicole Yun — the band had more of an aggressive, punk edge to its sound. And it has been this ability to not allow a niche such as surf music to define them that has enabled Eternal Summers to grow and mature.

If the band has been anything, it’s been prolific. Following its debut album, Silver, in 2010, Eternal Summers added two more albums in 2012 and 2014 before its current release, Gold and Stone. The band’s evolution has seen it embrace a variety of musical styles including jangle-rock, power-pop, dream-pop, and garage-rock — in addition to holding fast to its punky roots. And while many other bands that got their start in surf rock have fallen on hard times, Eternal Summers has prospered (in an indie way — meaning critical acclaim, not necessarily monetary rewards).

  • Rolling Stone named the band one of its “10 New Artists You Need to Know” in May
  • In a review that awarded Gold and Stone an impressive 7.3 rating, Pitchfork says, “Eternal Summers have proven more adaptive than many of the bands they came up with…Gold and Stone…is the latest testament to their ever-broadening range.”
  • AllMusic calls Eternal Summers “a band (that) is quickly building up an impressive body of work.”

First single, “Together or Alone,” is a driving power-pop anthem with ringing guitars. Yun’s vocals start way down in the mix, allowing her guitar work to hold the spotlight for most of the track — with some lyrics shouted or snarled in the chorus.

Title track, “Gold and Stone,” might be my favorite cut. It’s an up-tempo, jangle-rock tune, with a thumping drum track, pulsing bass line, and cool harmonies backing Yun’s dreamy vocals.

Track 5, “Black Diamond,” finds the band heading back to its punk roots. Vocals are snarled with attitude. Yun cynically asserts, “If you want, I could be strung up in pearls for you/If you want, I could wear your black diamond.” Reverbed guitars and a really tight drum track propel the song forward.

Fuzz-rock? Yes, the band can handle that, as it ably demonstrates on “Play Dead.”

Is this another one of those bands with only one lead singer? While Yun does sing almost all the leads, “Ebb Tide” finds drummer Daniel Cundiff taking the lead vocal duties on a jangly number that would do Real Estate proud.

The second-to-the-last track, “Stars You Named,” is a beautiful slow-burn, dream-pop ballad that shows off Yun’s vocal range and is marked by incredible guitar work in the lead breaks.

Gold and Stone represents yet another great opportunity to discover an outstanding band before the rest of the world does.

The Corner Laughers Create Timeless, Intelligent Indie Pop-Rock

12 May

The cover of The Corner Laughers’ forthcoming album, Matilda Effect — scheduled for release on Friday, June 12th, but available now for pre-orders — shows lead singer-songwriter Karla Kane — apparently materializing through a celestial haze. She is surrounded by her bandmates: bassist (and spouse) Khoi Huynh, drummer Charlie Crabtree, and guitarist KC Bowman — all of whom seem to be standing in awe as she appears in their midst.

That photo is an ideal metaphor for Kane and The Corner Laughers’ latest effort. Kane is an indie pop-rock goddess with an out-of-this-world voice; a gift for writing clever, omniscient lyrics; and an always sunny personality that comes shining through in her songs.

In addition, Matilda Effect — The Corner Laughers’ fourth full-length release — explores a world of topics not normally addressed in pop-rock music. Inspired by the band’s global travels, Kane’s lyrics address everything from stone circles and druids to fairytale tourists…and from the voyages of clipper ship captains to the discoveries of little-known astronomer, Henrietta Leavitt. All of this is delivered in intelligent, intricately arranged sunshine pop, rock and folk — as well as a retro pop-rock number and even a 1920s/1930s-style tune — that transport us to other places and times.

The album has strong feminist underpinnings, starting with its title. (The “Matilda Effect” refers to the practice of denying or diminishing the contributions of female scientists.) There are also heroines in a number of the stories that Kane spins on the album.

Matilda Effect kicks off with “Fairytale Tourist,” a brilliant sunshine indie pop song with incredible hooks and one of the best bass lines ever laid down in a pop tune via bassist Huynh. Kane dreams of being “Cleopatra, bound for Julius Caesar” before awakening to her blankets pulled tight. Rich harmonies and bah-bah-bahs make this a tune that plays over and over in your head after a few listens.

“The Girl, America” is great jangle rock that builds into a terrific power pop song. Kane’s vocals are imbued with a natural innocence as she sings Anton Barbeau’s lyrics. Bowman delivers a ripping guitar solo in the lead break, something that we’ve rarely heard from The Corner Laughers before.

“Queen of the Meadow” is lilting indie rock. The lyrics make a brief reference to Henrietta Leavitt, a Radcliffe grad who used the luminosity of stars to help astronomers measure the distance between the Earth and far-off galaxies. Leavitt’s accomplishments were overshadowed by the discoveries of other (male) scientists that came after her.

“Midsommar,” a song that was released as a digital single last summer, is breezy pop-rock with a languid tempo that’s perfect for the leisurely summer days that are fast-approaching. The song features a catchy melody and looking-glass lyrics.

“Lammas Land” is a light and dreamy, skipping pop number. Kane’s wistful, angelic vocals are supported by her flawless ukulele, Bowman’s ringing guitar and Crabtree’s brushes on drums. The song trails out with an amazingly complex round — with Kane singing all the parts.

The closing number is “Good Hope,” a bouncy rock tune that includes a strummed ukulele mixed with an electric guitar over a reggae-influenced beat. The song tells the story of fearless clipper captains who made dangerous voyages around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope.

If you like smart lyrics, strong hooks, sharp arrangements, and super-clean production, you’ll love The Corner laughers’ Matilda Effect.