Rapidfire Reviews 11/12/15

Posted: by Riley

Beach Slang: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us

I’ll admit, up to this point I had been largely underwhelmed by the output of Philly’s Beach Slang. The band’s beachy indie name and beachy indie graphics were enough to earn them the Pitchfork-approved-punk reputation of, say, Japandroids or Cymbals Eat Guitars, rather than the devastating not-indie-enough label given to acts like Tigers Jaw or Modern Baseball (although this may be subject to change). However, the band’s long dramatic album titles lend them a sense of intimacy and angst, which stands out in a sea of Celebration Rock’s and LOSE’s. Now, with The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, Beach Slang have pulled me in as much with their music as they have with their hammy title (maybe I just have a sweet spot for short-form poetry/cliche). TTWDTFPWFLU – an acronym less catchy than its full title and just as difficult to type – is a succinct 26-minute shout-along which I will hesitantly call ‘celebration rock’. It’s an album about problem-solving where every solution is yelling along to badass punk rock in your basement with your best friends. It’s about being young and alive. 

Score: 8.6

FFO: Cymbals Eat Guitars, Cheap Girls, White Wives, Japandroids

Starter Track: “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas

Tim Korenich – What a Weird Thing

Often, the most impressive feats in music come from projects that actively combat current trends, but with such conviction and mastery that they win over doubters. Sometimes, these risks even kindle new affinities and attention-shifts in music as a whole. A recent example of this is Deerhunter’s fantastic Fading Frontier, an album that spins something undeniably fantastic from sharp folk and indie-rock in a time when rock isn’t cool (See also: Spoon’s last record). Enter Tim Korenich; yet another charming singer-songwriter from the burgeoning Toledo music scene here with his debut LP, What a Weird Thing. What first seems like a straightforward folk-tinged indie outing ends up being much more. It’s an album comprised of moments: the hazy sax-guitar passage at the end of “Darlin’,” or Korenich’s falsetto as it outlives the boisterous finale of “Carried Away.” What A Weird Thing doesn’t try to adopt the trendy sounds of today, but rather fashions something much more rewarding from the textures of folk and indie-rock. Korenich’s calm and contemplative LP reveals layers of complex beauty as it unfolds. 

Score: 8.4

FFO: The National, Grizzly Bear, Neva Dinova

Starter Track: “What’ll It Take

Modern Baseball – MOBO Presents: The Perfect Cast EP

I don’t think I really need to introduce this Philly band; but just in case you’ve been living under a rock for a few years, Modern Baseball is a group of goofy college kids who coincidently make some of the best pop-punk in recent memory. Their formula is a bit more complex than that of their peers; they naturally introduce elements of folk-punk, emo, and jangle-pop into their conversational, narrative-driven songs. SPIN’s newest story on the band chronicles their rise to prominence, delving deeply into the personal life of singer-guitarist Brendan Lukens and the imminent shift in sound we’ll supposedly hear on the group’s upcoming LP. In anticipation of that release, the band has let go six new tracks in the form of this here EP. The 16-minute project doesn’t waste a minute, boasting some of the band’s best material to date and cultivating signs of significant growth. MOBO’s thrown-together prequel EP is remarkably concise, focused, and consistently great – not just good, but legitimately great. Complete with the charm of vocal flubs, MOBO presents is a pleasant surprise and – if nothing else – an enticing prologue. 

Score: 8.3

FFO: The Front Bottoms, stuff, you get it

Starter Track: “The Thrash Particle

Grimes – Art Angels

You can tell Claire Boucher A.K.A. Grimes didn’t think we’d like her new LP, Art Angels, and not just because she tweeted it. The Vancouver pop musician’s fourth album is her most accessible, and will undoubtedly be her most commercially successful; however, this is not why I think it’s her strongest yet. Grimes has always had flashes of undeniable pop-star potential floating around in her songs, but here they swirl together to create some of the most intricate and sonically engaging music we’ve heard this year. On pseudo-opener “California,” the singer addresses her issues with the bad side of music journalism, offering her worries as her most personal music is released to the world, misinterpreted, and inevitably forgotten by a ruthless industry: “this music makes me cry, it sounds just like my soul, oh, i’m not ready to win.” That worry courses through the veins of Art Angels, and each emotive pop song is a stunning liberation for both artist and listener. Grimes’ artistic vision is a precious commodity in the current state of music, and that scares her as much as it enthralls us. Boucher continues to break the mold of what pop is defined to be, while simultaneously winning over a new audience. Above all of that, though, Art Angels is the most enjoyable pop album of 2015. 

Score: 8.9

FFO: Purity Ring, Carly Rae Jepsen, Braids

Starter Tracks: “Flesh Without Blood,” “Kill vs. Maim,” “Realiti” (honestly, can’t pick just one)

Additional Hot Track: Ricky Eat Acid – “Dear Lord”

I back Ricky Eat Acid, Teen Suicide frontman Sam Ray’s solo electronic project, so hard for many reasons; one of which is that I firmly believe we should do away with artistic boundaries and expectations. Sam’s newest cut, “Dear Lord,” is a bombastic, EDM-infused banger guaranteed to keep your parties hot this winter. Throughout Ricky Eat Acid’s discography, we’ve seen shades of ambient, techno, house and indie-rock appear and exit as they please, allowing Sam to experiment with whatever sounds he feels fit for particular songs or whole projects. The sample-heavy formula is conducive to many styles, and there’s no reason he can’t release an ambient stoner mix-tape, then follow it up with this monster party track. Rock this. 

FFO: Sweet Valley, Clams Casino, Tobacco