Cruiserweight (and the return of alt-rock)

Cruiserweight are a girl-fronted rock band from Austin, Texas. Their press packet tells you that they've been named "Austin's Best Punk Band" for four straight years. Now, not only is Austin not known for its punk-scene, Cruiserweight isn't really a punk band. In analogy form, this would be like being named the best philosopher in Mobile, Alabama and then realizing that you were actually studying British Literature. Ultimately, this is all irrelevant. Cruiserweight sound like 90s girl-bands Letters to Cleo (unfair?) and K's Choice (of the the famous "I'm Not An Addict" anti-drug ad). Lead-singer Stella Maxwell, if this is possibly her real name, absolutely kills every song and is almost single-handedly dragging us back to 1997.

And I guess there's something larger than just a not-punk band from Austin going on here. We are headed right back into the eye of the Alternative rock, maybe even grunge, hurricane. It's coming. You can choose not to watch the weather. You can stay indoors. You can ignore it. But it's coming. From a narrative perspective, we've moved through 1970s and 80s classic rock. Bands ripped The Cars (Strokes' second LP) Led Zeppelin (Wolfmother), even 80s hair-metal (briefly, The Darkness). Better or worse, rock music has been informed and driven by these sets of influences. And then something tipped.

We started going after synth bands. It started with the obvious Joy Division (Interpol 2003) and New Order (The Killers 2004), and then got more obscure. By then end of last year, MGMT had driven the synth-sound to its logical and commercial conclusion. Add to that We Are Scientists and new Killers' records that sound like Duran Duran and we've fully explored vapid 80s synth-rock with the same perversion as bands explored their parents classic rock radio stations in the early 2000s. And we're moving forward: with sounds of the 70s, 80s, and ... 90s.

We're on the cusp of a new-1991 and someone is about to release their "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It won't have the same cultural impact. Kids are oddly less angry and more digitally cloistered. The idea of teenagers taking over a high school gym seems impossibly dated. More likely, they would write about it on their blogs or have their avatar consider attending online. We are not too cut off from each other to be frustrated but we are too cut off from one another to do anything about it. But even if the emotion of grunge can't reincarnate itself, the sound can certainly be copy-catted.

So here it comes. In the form of bands like Dead Confederate and moving even further forward, a band like Cruiserweight that sounds like poppier-than-thou 90s alt-rock. It's chick-rock with an edge. It sounds a little dated right now. But in three years, it might sound practically contemporary. So as we spiral backwards - spin these tunes and let the alt-rock wash over you like a tidal wave.

Listen ::

Cruiserweight - Spread Like Fingers
Cruiserweight - Sustainer


[Elevator] Ketch Harbour Wolves

Strange name for a band, Ketch Harbour Wolves, and perhaps, even stranger that they're not more well known. Stranger still that they're giving away their entire record on their website. If you come across a better (adult) alternative value, I defy you to tell me about it. Ketch Harbour Wolves work if you like what The National would sound like if they were fronted by the lead-singer of Editors. This is not meant as a direct affront to The National, who clearly create both slightly poppier and more intricate soundscapes than Ketch Harbour Wolves - it is meant as a closest to accurate comparison. We all do the best we can.

What I will tell you is this: the album has seven songs and there isn't a lead balloon in the bunch. If they were based out of New York and not the far reaches of Canada, I can promise you that you would think of this band as a slightly more credible version of Pela - or a more digestible version of Winterpills. Basically, this is music that people that don't want to spend time knowing about music might like. It's easy to like and that doesn't mean it's bad. In fact, this band could and should end up more famous than they are now. As always, check it up or check it out. It's your world. We just live in it.


Ketch Harbour Wolves - Leaves
Ketch Harbour Wolves - Gold
Ketch Harbour Wolves - So Long To The Ground


Official Secrets Act :: "So Tomorrow"

Months and months ago, I rubbed my own personal Magic 8 Ball and predicted a few things.

A) I would disappear for days, maybe even weeks on end. Well, there it is. I left and now I'm back. I told you the absence would be unexplained so ... there it is. No explanation. Take it or leave it.

2) That I would post major label leaks. And get threatened. Notice that Killers post about "Spaceman" just up and disappeared? Yeah, thanks Island Records and Blogger.com. Great work everyone. Good hustle all around. If you're clever you can still find the song out there.

D) I said I would find a good band that a lot of you didn't know about. I said it would rocket me out of my blog malaise and get me, somehow, against the odds, excited about music again. That band is here.

Official Secrets Act.

I'd by lying if I said this band would be huge. I can't promise that. In fact, in an alternative rock universe already over-saturated with dance-rock bands who abuse their keyboards like ADD-kids and their action figures, I can't promise this band will ever even tour extensively in the United States. Their closest musical relative is The Winter Kids and we saw them once in New York and then they never came back. There was no real excuse for them not getting bigger than they were. So, we've been burned before. But, it's worth noting that Official Secrets Act has that same level of energy and that same level of excitement. And with all of the above being said: This should. still. be. big.

"So Tomorrow" has the most frantic high-hat dance-rock beat you'll hear this year. It's going to be absolute murder on their drummer when they have to close their set with this night in and night out. Add the urgency of a keyboard riff crying out fire in a crowded movie theater and you've gotten yourself part of the way there. Yelling background vocals and a chorus that is as repetitive as it is infectious make this one of the better rock songs of the last 10-months. And all of it is only the loose, rather skeletal organization of a song that relies far more on its energy than the brilliance of its design. This song is far more hustling swingman than 7-foot center with a mid-range game.

By the time you're in the home stretch and the lead-singer is yelling, "all this waiting/just might kill me" you've hit a level of frenetic that is usual reserved for seizure, neon dance parties, and Japanese children's early morning cartoons. The facts are that this song is going to absolutely level you in the its final 90-seconds and it doesn't have to be rational. After all, this is just a little dose of insanity. The first lyrics? "Are you out of your mind?" Answer: Yes. No. Yes.


Listen:: Official Secrets Act - "So Tomorrow"