All posts tagged Best Coast

Indie Dispatches: James Murphy Stands Down, Goth is Back?, The Feelies, WILD FLAG & More…

WILD FLAG

Yes , it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke – Indie Dispatches has returned and is back in a regular fashion. And as predicted we did indeed forget a few of the notable items so far in 2011…

* The indie rock power couple in WAVVES and Best Coast went out on tour together (and were seen at the Satellite recently in L.A. checking out their buddies in DOM). Interestingly enough, Bethany‘s Best Coast sales have far outstripped those of Nathan’s WAVVES… wonder if this is ever a source of tension.
* The New Goth Movement? It’s official… Zola Jesus led the charge, and now Esben & the Witch are close behind. With more to come!
* LCD Soundsystem operated under the classic mantra “live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse” with a week of life-affirming shows in NYC culminating in a 3 hour party Saturday night as the band’s last appearance on stage. From starting as the sound guy for Sub Pop‘s Six Finger Satellite to bowing out with headlining show at Madison Square Garden… James Murphy, we salute you!
* Tennis released an album with arguably the worst looking sleeve you’ll see this year.
* Did The White Sea remix Britney?
* My Morning Jacket lined up a new album, Circuital, hitting stores May 31st.
* Did TV On the Radio leave the indie world behind, parting from 4AD internationally?
* The dulcet tones of Mike Berenyi from Lush were heard by millions as Seinking Ships had a pretty striking sync use on ABC‘s hit show Private Practice.
* Avi Buffalo recorded a new 45 that is coming out shortly – great news!! Alas once again it looks to be enclosed in less than stellar jacket art.
* Underground super-group Middle Brother (with members of Dawes, Delta Spirit & Deer Tick) released an excellent album on Partisan, sounding as close to Crosby, Stills & Nash as you’ll hear this year (well, maybe until the new Fleet Foxes album)
* After almost 20 years, NJ’s favorite post-Velvet Underground popsters, The Feelies, recorded a new album Here Before that hits stores April 12 on Bar/None Records.
* Still wonder why we feel that there are too many bands and too many records? Just check out this list of forthcoming releases on Pitchfork
* Adele put a further stamp on the recent intrusion of the independent label into major label’s chart domination (at least in the UK) as her second album 21, released on XL Recordings, raced to over 1.8 million sales in old blighty. That’s over 6 times platinum pop kids!!!!
* The latest installment of Record Store Day - scheduled for April 16 – announced their list of releases, including a bunch of stupidly limited items that you’ll undoubtedly see popping up on Ebay April 17.
* Former Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys has a new album, Hotel Shampoo, due on Wichita Recordings next month. This teaser video is plain awesome.
* Another one destined for the top 10 records of 2011 lists come December? The long awaited follow up to Bon Iver‘s debut For Emma, Forever Ago.
* The 2 most exciting words of the first part of the year though? WILD. FLAG. Watch out, this one is going to be rad…

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: Ten Most Enjoyed Albums of 2010 (And Then Some)…

Sharon Van Etten, Epic, indeed

The torrent of those year-end lists is still coming thick and fast from all corners of the media, with some of the latest being Amazon‘s best of, Rhapsody‘s picks, Drowned In Sound and Stereogum‘s top 50. Scanning through many of the lists, the big question doesn’t seem to be, “How many places will pick Kanye West as album of the year?” but more likely “How many places won’t?” Well, I can tell you, as much as Indie Dispatches appreciates the record, and definitely got our money’s worth buying the digital album for 99 cents on Amazon.com, it’s (not so) sad to say the opus didnt make our short list. Instead here are ten picks we enjoyed an awful lot during 2010 – some you may have listened to and others you may well have not…

Sharon Van EttenEpic (Ba Da Bing) – One of those ‘word-of-mouth’ records that has benefitted from the new frontier of the internet and the marvels of social media. Friends espousing their love of this Brooklyn artist on Facebook, an album purchase, and instant love. Further posting on Facebook about the glorious nature of this album – its engaging songwriting and classic feel – and the word spreads. Pure magic.

Gold PandaLucky Shiner (Ghostly International) – Ah, the joys of laptop electronica. This record seemingly came out of nowhere and set itself apart from its contemporaries (such as Four Tet, Baths, etc) with its progressive sounds, catchy melodies and infectious beats.

Avi BuffaloAvi Buffalo (Sub Pop) – A bunch of teenagers from LBC form a band, make a record, sign to one of the coolest labels around and capture the attention of music fans across the world, all led by a diminutive (and naive) guitar meastro after whom the combo is named. The lyrics express (at times in a raw fashion) the angst of being a teen, but the songs are for the ages.

Sally SeltmannHeart That’s Pounding (Arts & Crafts) – I recently rediscovered this album, marvelling at its brilliance all over again, and ended up listening to it 10 times in a row. As great as some of the much praised artists in this ‘girl singer over electro beats’ genre (read Annie, Saint Etienne), I have a feeling the sales were terrible (probably the ‘best, worst selling record of 2010′), which is criminal, despite Seltmann being the spouse of a member of Avalanches and the writer of Feist‘s monster hit.

VillagersBecoming a Jackal (Domino) – See SVE… but from Dublin, Ireland. People who ‘got’ this record fell in love and were enthralled by its majesty. Some of the best lyrics around, and coming from a country that is known for its A-grade balladeers. And whether it was just leader Conor O’Brien on stage solo, or with his band, the live shows were jaw dropping.

Dylan LeBlancPauper’s Field (Rough Trade) –  Alas, I think this release was lost amongst the blogger frenzy for label mates Warpaint and Morning Benders, which was a crying shame. LeBlanc is steeped in the whole country-soul canon with personal ties to the Muscle Shoals/Fame recordings family of musicians, which set him apart on this album from the rest of his singer-songwriter contemporaries.

SuperchunkMajesty Shredding (Merge) – A bunch of old(er) folk make their first album in nine years, and at the same time, show all the youthful pretenders half their age how it is done. Great energy, super songs and reminding the world why Superchunk was one of the best bands in the 90′s (and still are). Come back of the year and a record that more than holds its own with anything in 2010.

Best CoastCrazy Like You (Mexican Summer) – 2010 was a bleak year to be an American, with high unemployment, economic troubles, housing traumas, political turmoil… what better time would there be to throw all the cares away with an album of summery beach pop. Pure escapism, and quintessentially Californian.

PhantogramEyelid Movies (Barsuk) – An album that might have been more at home on Warp or Modular, rather than the house that Death Cab for Cutie built, but it’s 2010, so who’s discriminating. See Gold Panda… with vocals.

Holly MirandaThe Magician’s Private Library (XL) –  Who knew that the mantle of Jeff Buckley would be taken up by the former singer of a relatively average NY indie rock band, with help from a member of TVOTR? The album got made and sat in limbo for an age, before XL Recordings stepped in (thank goodness)… Anchored by Miranda’s entrancing vocals, seemingly swooping down from heaven.

And worthy of notable mention for providing great listening pleasure at various times during 2010, in no particular order… Fences Fences , Fitz & The Tantrums Picking Up the Pieces, Glasser Ring, The Head and the Heart The Head and the Heart, Surf City Kudos, Owen Pallett Heartland, Magic Kids Memphis , Local Natives Gorilla Manor, Surfer Blood Astro Coast.

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: Checking in on the Charts & Off to MusicfestNW

Another week, and another set of prime independent releases smash into the upper reaches of the mainstream charts. This past week it was Sufjan Stevens, Ra Ra Riot and The Sword with their moment in the spotlight, as all three made it into the top 50. Most noteworthy is the Sufjan EP, All Delighted People, which managed to rank #27 in spite of a previous limited release (that also trickled into the charts), and still being digital-only with no physical formats due for some time. Meanwhile Ra Ra Riot’s The Orchard on Barsuk clocked in at #36, and the Kemado/Mexican Summer crew showed that their Best Coast chart debut was no fluke by nabbing the #42 slot with the Warp Riders album from Texas face-melting metal band The Sword. Of course the real message in chart-land may be that the majors are losing ground (and sales) faster than the indies. But with the proliferation of prime independent releases hitting the charts in 2010, including the Arcade Fire nabbing the top spot, and the just-released Interpol album on Matador sure to do big business, maybe the story is now almost becoming a non-story?

Meanwhile, this week all (discerning) eyes are pointed towards the northwest. As if Stumptown Coffee, Pok Pok restaurant, the fresh air, Voodoo Donuts and the fine vinyl emporiums (like Mississippi Records) aren’t enough of a reason to make a trip to Portland, OR, the annual MusicFestNW festival is the icing on the cake. The 2010 line-up may be the festival’s best yet, featuring a heavy bias towards some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest talent, both new and old, paired with a choice selection of artists from other regions. So you have A-list acts such as The Decemberists, The National, The Walkmen and Panda Bear, combined with newbies such as The Head and the Heart, Jeff the Brotherhood and Magic Kids, making for a winning combination. Add in The Thermals, Kevin Devine, Menomena, The Dodos, AA Bondy and Past Lives and you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to spend your time this weekend.

- Cool Hand Luke

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Indie Dispatches (Goes Walkabout): Australian Labels Feel the Industry Slump, While Foreign Artists Flourish

Australia's Music Industry in Flux

While some detractors talk disparagingly about Australia as being just like Southern California but with funny accents, there is no disputing that the ties run deep across the Pacific, especially when it comes to music. Turn on JJJ radio and you are likely to hear WAVVES; open the local free entertainment weekly mag and there are full-page adverts for upcoming live dates by Silversun Pickups along with a feature on Autolux and a large interview with Best Coast - the latter can also be heard on the airwaves with local Melbourne community alternative station RRR-FM featuring Crazy for You as their “album of the week”. Even L.A. newbies Foster the People are popping up on JJJ with their single “Pumped Up Kicks”. And you could be mistaken in thinking you were in West Hollywood with the list of recent and upcoming tours including Ben Kweller & Delta Spirit, New Pornographers, Low, Jonneine Zapata, Band of Skulls, Passion Pit and Broken Social Scene.

This is not to say that there isn’t a healthy local music community here, as witnessed by the emergence of Tame Impala in 2010 and the release of excellent records by the likes of Sally Seltmann and SXSW buzz act The Middle East, but dark clouds are appearing on the horizon. The global slump in music sales is hitting hard in Australia too. Recent weeks have seen two of the country’s major independent companies, Shock Records (who handles everything from Vagrant and Epitaph to Rough Trade), and Stomp (distributor for Sub Pop and others) facing liquidation and being taken over due to crippling debts, possibly even taking some of the distributed labels and artists’ money with them. Domestic CD prices in Australia are around $24 retail (in U.S. dollars that’s about 21 bucks!!!), and when compared with cheaper direct imports from retailers like Amazon, that makes difficult conditions for the indies. More consumer dollars seem to be going towards the slew of foreign touring artists and the large major label-funded companies (Modular, Dew Process, etc), with indies willing to invest in local talent becoming scarce.

Though it is not all grim news. A bright spot is the re-emergence of New Zealand’s premiere independent Flying Nun – with original founder Roger Shepherd reclaiming the label from Warner Music, there are plans to relaunch with a choice selection of new artists (NZ act Die! Die! Die! being one of the first) and a welcome revamp and reissue of their legendary catalog of releases by The Chills, The Clean and more.  There are also a host of companies developing a hybrid of great international catalog combined with some of the best local releases. These include Remote Control, who along with achieving great success with the Beggars set of labels (including chart topping releases by the White Stripes and The xx album that is steadily heading towards gold status), also handle the marketing for a host of up-and-coming local acts such as Parades, who are also signed through their inhouse Dot Dash label. And plowing the same territory from Sydney are both Spunk, who handles a lot of the Merge catalog including Arcade Fire and Australian newcomer Bearhug, and Popfrenzy - home to Best Coast, HEALTH and The Drums as well as Antipodean acts like Songs and Surf City.

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: New Superchunk, A Toast to Best Coast & Fitz on Fire

Lost in the warm fuzzy glow over the Arcade Fire topping the charts last week, one rather important item was neglected, which is that amidst all of their efforts to create the landmark 2010 Merge is having, the label owners Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance also found time to record a new album. Yes ladies and gentlemen, reason to rejoice, as there is a new Superchunk album on the way! It’s entitled Majesty Shredding and is due for release on September 14 – on Merge Records of course! A number one record and a new Superchunk album – now that really IS a banner year.

Speaking of landmark years, the same can be said for Best Coast who surprised more than a few people with their #36 debut (with one industry rag leaving them out of their charts altogether!) for the album Crazy for You. But kudos to the Mexican Summer label for a superb job of artist development, and it just goes to show that in amongst all the clutter of the ‘long tail’ music biz in 2010, the same formula of great songs, a good build up and a masterful job of marketing can achieve results! Alas, not so fortunate were WAVVES, whose latest album King of the Beach only trickled to a #168 chart position first week, despite some great reviews and a ubiquitous presence amongst the blogs.

Also benefitting from a nice job of development and marketing is Los Angeles act, Fitz and the Tantrums, who are riding a great word-of-mouth wave leading to the August 24 release of their album Pickin’ Up the Pieces on Dangerbird Records. After a glowing review in the LA Times, a “you had to be there” jam-packed performance at the Hammer Museum, an exclusive streaming preview of the album on KCRW, and an instore performance at Amoeba Records in LA scheduled for release day, the buzz is becoming rather deafening. Which makes it hard to believe it was barely a year ago that the retro-soul combo was playing to a small scattering of early adopters at the 3 of Clubs…

- Cool Hand Luke

Wednesday Bits & Pieces: Idol & UMG, eMusic’s new CEO and Chart Highlights

Idol's New Deal with UMG

The big news coming out yesterday was 19 Entertainment‘s decision to align American Idol with Universal Music Group for a new distribution and marketing deal, letting their previous deal with Sony Music lapse after 9 seasons.  While the move is being portrayed as “dropping a bomb” by many media outlets, the decision comes as much less of a surprise within the industry. The show itself is undergoing many transitions heading into the 10th season, not to mention that creator Simon Fuller‘s relationship with new UMG co-CEO Lucian Grainge is well known, performance of Idol finalist releases have been in decline, and uncertainty about what lies ahead for some of Sony’s top brass all pointed to a likely change – as was rumored in past weeks… eMusic has announced a new CEO in Adam Klein, who has previously held positions at MTV and EMI; a new upcoming cloud-based “locker” system has also been tipped. Klein replaces JDS Capital Management/Dimensional Associates head Danny Stein who was running the music service temporarily after the exit of eMusic’s former CEO David Pakman. JDS/Dimensional also recently finalized their acquisition of The Orchard… Elsewhere, Avenged Sevenfold sees their first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Charts with their new release Nightmare, bumping Eminem‘s Recovery from the top spot. Another impressive chart story comes from L.A. locals Best Coast, whose new release Crazy For You debuted at #36 selling over 10K in its first week… And will Spotify move into the shadows of the new digital music era, at least in the U.S., with the public launch of Rdio this week?

Indie Dispatches: See Here, Now Do This!

Ten activities to make this week a fun one…

1. Head to the Urban Outfitters website to get a sneak preview of the debut album Crazy for You from Best Coast, before the official release date on July 27.

2. Contemplate booking a last minute trip to New York to see the final live performance by blissed-out rockers Spiritualized of their classic record Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space on July 30 at Radio City Music Hall. If you cant afford the price of a summer air ticket, plan B may be to search out the vinyl reissue of the album, recently released by SF’s Plain Recordings.

3. Head to the LA show by Phosphorescent at the Troubadour, Tuesday July 27. The latest album, Here’s to Taking it Easy from the NY group seems to be a tastemaker favorite. The band have had a rollercoaster time recently, having their van and gear stolen recently in Brooklyn on the eve of a national tour, before (thankfully) getting it recovered by the police a week later.

4. Buy Admiral Radley‘s album I Heart California. AdRad are, of course, the veritable indie rock supergroup featuring Jason Lytle and Aaron Burch of Grandaddy, paired with Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray of Earlimart.

5. Pre-order your copy of Mines, the fourth full-length from much beloved Portland combo Menomena (due out on Barsuk Records July 27… a busy day for indie rock it seems!) Listen to it here

6. Watch the trailer for Upside Down, the forthcoming documentary on Creation Records – quite possibly Britain’s greatest independent label. The film is scheduled for release in the UK in September.

7. Check out the latest in the ever growing list in the 33 1/3 series. If you haven’t yet discovered these wonderful music books, each tome is a marvelous and individual treatise on a classic album – everything from the Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique to Nick Drake‘s Pink Moon and My Bloody Valentine‘s Loveless. Just try to stop at reading only one…

8. Early evening on July 27? Plan a visit to the Hotel Cafe in LA at 8pm as Ireland’s Villagers finally hit the west coast.

9. If you happen to be in Kansas City (or Leawood, KS to be exact) – head to the Apple Store on Thursday July 22 for the free instore by locals The Belles, supporting their S-Curve album Time Flies When You’re Losing Your Mind.

10. Fire up an iTunes pass for the 4th season of Mad Men, which premieres Sunday July 25. Well, it can’t all be about music can it?

-Cool Hand Luke

File Under: Stuff We Like

AB & The Sea @ Spaceland Thurs Night w/ Fitz & the Tantrums

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Indie Dispatches: Arcade Fire Sets-Off New Album Buzz with a Spark & More…

The indie world’s favorite Canucks, Arcade Fire, caused quite the frenzy last week when two new songs by the band spread across the internet. Information about the new tracks – which were reportedly found as a 12″ in a record store in Glasgow – seemed to spread like wildfire via Twitter, Facebook and various blogs. And then it was official – the release of a new single – “The Suburbs” with “Month of May”. Of course the hubbub continued a day later as concrete details (cover art! a title! a release date!) were made available regarding the band’s eagerly awaited third album - The Suburbs is due out on August 3rd via Merge Records. As to whether the sudden discovery was real, a plant by the band’s UK record label, or a concocted story, there is no disputing the whole tale was a piece of marketing genius that probably magnified the anticipation for the record in both the media and public at large.

Another blog community favorite, L.A.’s Best Coast, announced details of their debut album Crazy for You this past week. After a series of limited and hard-to-find 7″ singles, the band will release their full-length on New York indie-label Mexican Summer Records on July 27th. Thankfully the album will be slightly more available (and cheaper!) than Best Coast’s latest single, “Far Away,” which can only be found free (?!) with the purchase of a pair of Eskuche headphones.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s School of Seven Bells played to a packed house at The Echo in L.A. this week, previewing songs from their new record Disconnect From Desire that is due July 13th through Ghostly International/Vagrant Records. The dream pop trio repeat the exercise over two sold-out shows next week at the Mercury Lounge in NYC.

Finally, after taking time off for various appearances under his Yim Yames persona and the Monsters of Folk project with Conor Oberst and M.Ward, Jim James is back in the fray with My Morning Jacket, who announced their touring plans for the summer this week. The Louisville combo have a slew of dates booked, starting out with West Coast shows in San Diego, L.A. (at the Greek Theatre August 12th) and S.F.’s Outside Lands Festival before heading across the country. The tour also includes support slots in Massachusetts and New Jersey opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. No news yet from MMJ label ATO Records of a follow up to the band’s ’08 album Evil Urges.

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: L.A. gets Waved Out & Dangerbird’s Signing Spree

Dangerbird Records Signs Manchester's Delphic

The balmy Los Angeles weather had a whole stack of music fans and industry folk checking out bands on the rise, eating bacon-wrapped hot dogs and generally hanging out in historic Echo Park for the recent inaugural Waved Out Festival at the Echo/Echoplex. Kudos to the folks at Spaceland, who with help from Aquarium Drunkard put on the eastside event that was full of good vibes and from what we’re told is the first of what will be a series of similar affairs coming in 2010. Think of a mini-version of NY’s Siren Festival. The ‘one admission’ ticket across the two venues encouraged people to check out acts that they otherwise might have not investigated. This included local up-and-comers Gamblehouse and Atlanta’s The Coathangers, who came out with classic Pacific Northwest 90′s Riot grrrl rock swagger. The surprise of the day was San Francisco’s psychedelic Moon Duo – the two-piece is buzzing after some Pitchfork love for their recent SXSW shows. The all-day event was topped off with sets from Best Coast, the nom de plume of L.A. local Bethany Cosentino who has over 20k digital downloads and more than a couple premier indie labels in pursuit, followed by one of this year’s most-talked about acts at SXSW, Surfer Blood.  The latter played to a packed room, including a heavy contingent of top brass from Warner Bros. Records. Their release Astrocoast has sold over 20k on Kanine Records, and many are wondering if they will be the next act from the indie to be launched onto a major label following Chairlift‘s promotion to Columbia Records

More from the indie label front as Dangerbird Records continues their signing spree. After recently announcing the addition of both Minus the Bear and Hot Hot Heat to their expanding roster, this week they added more international flavor by signing Manchester’s Delphic. The combo’s new album Acolyte debuted in the UK top 10 earlier this year and will see a June release in the states.

- Cool Hand Luke