Author Archives: Timothy Hudson

[Electro] Handsome Furs – “What About Us” + “Repatriated”

It has been roughly two months since Wolf Parade announced their indefinite hiatus, and to make up for this tragic loss, it seems vocalist Dan Boeckner and his wife are bringing back their electro punk experiment Handsome Furs. The husband/wife duo has been going at it for about four years now, but it seems like with Sound Kapital—the duo’s latest offering—they are no longer a side-project to try new ideas on, but rather its own device capable of standing on its own.

“What About Us”—one of the two tracks we’re featuring from Sound Kapital—is a beat-heavy, slow-burning ballad that manages to contain just the right amount of morose without being completely devastating. “Repatriated” on the other hand, while equally morose, is a tightly paced synth masterpiece. Sounding equal parts New Order and Eastern European 1980s electro, both tracks have a certain quality that can only be described as passion for the music they are playing. Handsome Furs may have had a rocky start, but if Sound Kapital is any indication of what the band has in store for us, I hope they are here to stay.

Handsome Furs – What About Us

’What About Us’

Handsome Furs – Repatriated

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[Fresh] Neon Indian – Polish Girl

Era Extraña is going to be a masterpiece—or at least that is what I have been able to conclude from the tracks released so far from Neon Indian’s new album. Last week we were given the drone-synth heavy “Fallout” and this week Alan Palomo has blessed NPR’s All Songs Considered with another track off the new album; “Polish Girl.”

It’s rare that you come across a track as nearly as polished as “Polish Girl.” The synths are syncopated and skillfully arranged to the point of perfection. It’s an absolutely gorgeous piece of synth-pop/chillwave that seems to do everything right. There’s a reason why Neon Indian is respected and held as the frontrunner for his genre, and it is tracks like this one.

Era Extraña is being released by Mom + Pop Records on September 13th.

Neon Indian – Polish Girl

’Polish Girl’
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[Rock] Chris Devotion & The Expectations – A Modest Refusal

Up-and-budding rock bands these days are a dime a dozen, but looking to break out of this shell of obscurity and shattered dreams is a quartet of rockers out of Glasgow that go by the name of Chris Devotion & The Expectations. Their debut single “I Need Your Touch” was a catchy little track that most (who am I kidding, all) of you probably haven’t heard, but it didn’t do much to propel the band into notoriety. Looking to try again, the band has given us a charming little number called “A Modest Refusal.”

With a short and delicate introduction, the song quickly gets rolling into one of the most purely guitar-driven songs I’ve heard in a while. The song itself is evocative of a more raw and less practiced The Thermals, going so far as to capture the essence of their catchy guitar hooks and garage-rock esque riffs. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a masterpiece or anything, but it certainly elevates Chris Devotion & The Expectations into the realms that lay beyond obscurity.

Chris Devotion & The Expectations – A Modest Refusal

’A Modest Refusal’
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[Indie/rock] Peter Bjorn and John – Is This It

About ten years ago, a band of New Yorkers going by the name of The Strokes released Is This It, and pretty much redefined modern indie-rock music for the rest of the decade. To celebrate its tenth year of gracing us with ridiculously catchy guitar riffs and brilliant vocals, Stereogum has presented the public with a tribute album featuring some rather big names in indie music today (including The Morning Benders) interpreting each individual track. Playing the title track from this magnum opus are the Swedish indie-rockers Peter Bjorn and John.

Taking the stance of “we just wanted to play it as good as we could” it should be no surprise that the Swedish rockers don’t differ from their source material as radically as their contemporaries. But the way they play it isn’t much like The Strokes; they play it as Peter Bjorn and John, and—as such—they transform the track into a new-wave sounding ballad with a lot more punch than the original. Everything from the stronger drumline to the absolutely fantastic guitar solo that graces the end of the track is fabulous. It’s a glorious tribute to The Strokes, and—while it might not surpass the original for the hardcore fans—it is one of the better covers I’ve heard in recent memory.

Peter Bjorn and John – Is This It

’Is This It’
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[Chillwave] Neon Indian – Fallout

Here at The Music Ninja, we are not exactly strangers to Neon Indian, and hopefully you aren’t either. Alan Palomo’s debut LP Psychic Chasms was an impressive masterpiece of chillwave, and—despite a collaboration EP with The Flaming Lips released just earlier this year—it looks like he is going to follow it up with what sounds to be an equally impressive second full length LP, Era Extraña, due out in September.

“Fallout”—the first cut we’ve heard from Era Extraña is as strong of a track as we’ve grown to expect from Neon Indian. The drone synths hit heavy and his soft vocals carry the track in a way that can only be described as dark and brooding. And in that way, “Fallout” is vaguely reminiscent of the slow-burning new-wave/shoegaze-esque ballads of the 80s, which I find both an interesting and welcome turn for Neon Indian.

Era Extraña is being released by Mom + Pop Records on September 13th.

Neon Indian – Fallout

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[Indie/rock] Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical: “Maniac” + “Same Mistake”

Having one of the most-heard stories in indie-rock history, the self-made men of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have always had a significant following. Their eponymous debut album was full of impossibly catchy and remarkable tracks that made it to a number of end-of-year (and decade) lists. While their sophomore album—Some Loud Thunder—was a somewhat departure from the tightly paced tracks of their debut, it seems like the Brooklyn based band is back in form with their new album, Hysterical.

From the moment the instruments kick in on album-opening track “Same Mistake” I realized that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were back and (possibly) even better than ever. The familiar soaring vocals of Alec Ounsworth, and the playful instrumentations all work together to form memorable album opener; but Hysterical isn’t just a return to the sound of their first album. “Maniac”—while similarly playful—soars with a synthesized brass section and a perfect harmony of drums and guitar work, and demonstrates a pleasantly slight change to the formula we’ve grown to love.

Hysterical, the band’s third album, will be self-released in September.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Same Mistake

’Same Mistake.mp3′

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Maniac

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[Indie] Girls – Vomit

Quite possibly one the largest indie-rock/pop breakouts in recent memory, it would be rather hard not to recognize Girls. Over the course of two years, the San Francisco band has released two phenomenal discs of music, and managed to generate quite the following. And to follow up last year’s release of the Broken Dreams Club EP, the band is set to release their next full length LP, Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

“Vomit”—the first official cut off the new album to be released to the public—shows much of the maturity that were to be had on Broken Dreams Club, with the same sort of delicacy as “Hellhole Ratrace” from their debut album. But what separates “Vomit” from their previous works, is the absolutely brilliant arrangements of everything from gospel-wails to heavy crescendos of pure emotion. It’s a very heavy song, and yet—much like “Hellhole Ratrace”—it maintains its beauty without resorting to any cliché tricks.

Father, Son, Holy Ghost is set to be released on September 13th by True Panther Records.

Girls – Vomit

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