Bandcamp Picks of the Week 7/11/18

We’re here with another installment of Bandcamp Picks of the Week

Bandcamp Picks of the Week The Azenas

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Genre: Indie Pop, Folk Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Be True to Me,” “Symphony in Red,” “Another One,” “The Man Who Carries The World on His Shoulders,” “Brickwork Fantasy”  

BRICKWORK FANTASY is the most inconspicuous release I’ve ever covered, as I couldn’t find any information on this U.K. trio’s debut beyond a one-sentence blurb and that their hometown also produced Pulp and the Arctic Monkeys. That’s quite a pedigree to come from, but The Azenas deliver much more digestible, instantaneous poppy fun. While FANTASY’s creative DNA is as scattershot as said blurb insinuates, taking cues from jangle pop, ‘60s psychedelic rock, and even a little new wave, the execution could not be more crisp and elegant; think Cage the Elephant with less distortion, or a less rootsy Wallflowers. It is old-school guitar pop at heart, but it’s littered with orchestral embellishments like harmonicas and organs that add up to a surprisingly layered experience for a nascent trio. Songs breeze by without a second of dead air or bloat, and the blubbery basswork provides the perfect melodic foundation. The vocals are an odd nasally blend of coy, awestruck, and romantic, and though they can be a little high-pitched on first listen, the background vocals and hooks are endearing enough to give them their own charm. Whether it’s distorted surf-rock, jaunty pub music, or singalong alt-country driven by harmonica, the Azenas sound like their having a blast and are inspired by nothing more than a love of music. If an album can get me to unironically say something that corny as a compliment, then it must be doing something right. Join in the FANTASY here. [Blake Michelle]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Cheap Hotels

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Cheap Hotels – LATE LAST NIGHT

Genre: Power Pop, Garage Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Honey,” “Folks,” “The Guys,” “In Time”

I attended my first Bonnaroo in 2010. I had just graduated high school and it was my first big music festival, as well as my first major trip outside of Arizona without adult supervision. It was the kind of wide-eyed experience that makes the world feel infinitely big and, at the same time, surmountably small; the energy from that trip carried me all summer long, a summer spent diving into all types of music but backboned by cheerful acts like Tokyo Police Club and early Matt & Kim. My friends and I would always joke that a lot of that energy came from the first set we saw at that Bonnaroo, a slick New York power pop act known as The Postelles. Their brand of fierce garage rock was about a decade too late, but their early work (as shepherded by The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr.) was snappy, grind-it-out indie rock that had a rockabye vintage sway to it, sock hop jams by way of fuzzy, early 2000s NYC sound. It really was musical optimism done right, fun songs that set the right tone in the scary summer before college.

While there isn’t an Albert Hammond Jr. behind the booth, and the last bastion of music industry cash that helped shape The Postelle’s first record dried up long ago, Arizona garage rockers Cheap Hotel capture a similar, albeit more stripped-down, version of that bouncing, wide-eyed pop on their debut LP, LATE LAST NIGHT. From the Santo & Johnny prom swing of “The Night Before” and “Don’t Look at Me Like You Love Me,” to sparse but leather-jacket-cool uptempo summer bops like “Honey” and “Folks,” a kind of youthful positivity radiates across the record. Standout track “The Guys,” with a driving bassline and crisp guitar tone, offers standout NYC garage pop from somewhere in Tempe. Across the board their three-piece 2000s indie sound does wonders on tracks akin to early rock acts like The Shondells or The Archies. The songs are simple, and at only 29 minutes, LATE LAST NIGHT is a joyful pop blitz that speeds by. Just as The Postelle’s had given me years ago, Cheap Hotels’ brand of rock music offers vigorous hope in a time when we’re inundated with cultural cynicism, so do yourself a favor and give in to their bright, airy simplicity. Check out LATE LAST NIGHT on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

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1 Response

  1. October 18, 2018

    […] Last week’s Bandcamp Picks were a pair of accessible, catchy rock albums, but saying CULTURE RUINS EVERYTHING AROUND ME is antithetical to that pattern would be an understatement. This Australian trio are a self-described “prog-punk” trio whose 2016 debut, ANOTHER WORLD TO CONSUME, delivered labyrinthine punk songs with dizzying technical proficiency and riffs diverse in speed and tone, and their follow-up is no different. From the gentle, intricate acoustic opening that recurs on “Ideophobic” to the jazzy saxophone that adds even more tension to the escalating bridge of “Speak and Destroy,” Future Corpse bring consistent compositional complexity without sacrificing any intensity. The vocals have been streamlined for the better, conveying plenty of pent-up rage while remaining legible, and the music is also less compressed, allowing each instrumental twist and turn to be appreciated more. Even amidst the great instrumental work, it would be a mistake to ignore the lyrics; the best moments are Refused-esque diatribes that use sophisticated language to breathe life into familiar topics while never getting too wordy to turn away the laymen. “Trapped in the Echo Chamber” is a descent from skepticism to rejection of all truth with an especially devastating second verse, and the monolithic title track is like a sociological treatise on the invisible, insidious influence of institutions and culture which ends on a fantastically righteous revolutionary note. With the recent breakup of Dillinger Escape Plan, those who crave math rock complexity in their hardcore will find a new love in Future Corpse. If you want to reward bands who generously include lyrics on their Bandcamp page to make my job easier, there’s no better place to start than here. [Blake Michelle] […]