On The List :: LESANDS @ Echo Curio [7.28.10]

Wednesday night we continued our Pan-American journey and headed to Echo Park's Echo Curio to catch one of our favorite new bands, San Diego's LESANDS. Much of this favoritism was based on the strength of one song, "Pretenders" and a lights-out EP their management sent over a few weeks back, leaving us in search of the live iteration. The Echo Curio might not have seemed like the perfect location for a band on the rise (no stage monitors, about the size of your parents living room, all tile) but it turned out perfectly: sweaty kids, a good crowd and enough decibels to vibrate your drink in your hand.

After a surprisingly loud and stunningly good set by LA's Roughed Up Folk, and a quick trip across the street for $2 Margarita night (Echo Park has downs but she has ups), LESANDS hit the stage around 11. A four-piece plus sampled synths and loops, the band is a wall of sound live. Of course, this says nothing of the live (and studio) strength of the song-writing on "Pretenders," the night's second song and a dead-ringer for a dubby version of Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition." The band also played "Glowing," even more enjoyable in echoing, shuddering volume. The lead singer apologized before their second-to-last song because he felt it was a little, "hip-hoppy." It wasn't, but it was absolutely enormous with peeling loops and samples washing over the audience like a well-directed and favorable swell.

The crowd spilled out onto Sunset and waited for the final band of the night to play. LESANDS packed their gear and you had to feel this band won't be playing 500 square-foot storefronts much longer. They didn't play like they were above this, but soon it will certainly be behind them.

Listen :: LESANDS - "Pretenders"


Clubfeet :: "Teenage Suicide [Don't Do It]"

An international trio in the musical spirit of Teenagers or Hot Chip, Clubfeet released their debut record, Gold On Gold on Tuesday. We're more than happy to share a former single, now album staple, "Teenage Suicide," as ironic and cheeky as the band's name itself. Breathy synths and pensive club drums form the foundation of a glossy electro-pop slow-drive. The moment of elevation comes after the bridge when hints of U2-style guitar push through the haze and offer an anthemic twist on the the chorus' sublimely silly mantra, "Teenage suicide/don't do it!" These aren't marching orders, rather a friendly reminder of something you already know, like synth-pop with a back beat.

Listen :: Clubfeet - "Teenage Suicide [Don't Do It]

First Rate People :: "Gentleman's Club"

Undeniably one of our favorite bands of the 2010, the genre-smashing First Rate People return with a challenging, fantastically catchy single, "Gentleman's Club." Built on an elastic, rubberized riff and the strong, if light-hearted, interplay between male and female vocals, "Gentleman's Club" sounds like a distant call to a half-remembered summer single from 1984, a simpler time where UB40 was allowed on the radio and people weren't so nasty to each other. In rough metaphor, this is futuristic nostalgia. Musically, like the rest of the First Rate People's work, it is instantly addicting, insanely hard to pin down (this is intentional), and so full of hooks you'll feel like you woke up in a tackle box.

On The List :: GROUPLOVE @ The Troubadour [7.27.10]

GROUPLOVE have a story that would put most bands to shame, an updated, rock-music Kerouac. Lead-singers Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi met in New York, took to Greece after only a few days, met the rest of the band (I'm paraphrasing here), began making music, ultimately tattooing the word, "GROUP" on their forearms before deciding to all throw away their private pursuits and move to Los Angeles to become a band. This means a lot to these five people. Zucconi stares at Hooper before their last song of the night at Los Angeles' famed Troubadour and kisses her flush on the mouth. It is a moment of raw, unfiltered emotion, something between the joy and lust of youth and people who have nothing to lose because they've given it all away.

Of course, if GROUPLOVE were just a dramatic story, a chance meeting of fresh-faced, agreeable people, it would end in that moment. As it happens, this story of mortgaged futures and unbridled hope comes with a stunning first single, an excellent EP and a next 12-months as bright as any band in the United States. On this night in LA, the band is tight and loud, with Zucconi's vocals alternating between the soaring yips from the Issac Brock catalogue and a richness and purity all his own. Over a seven song set the band will play 80-percent of their self-titled EP, plus a stunning version of new cut, "Close Your Eyes And Count To Ten" and a few others we presume will show up on a full-length in 2011. Zucconi works himself into a frenzy, pushing the limits of what this writer has ever seen anyone do while holding an acoustic guitar. All of this leads, nearly inexorably, to the band's best song and set closer, "Colours."

Predictably, "Colours" is a broadly cast, meta-analysis shot through the rosy hues of youth. Unpredictably, it might be the best unsigned song of 2010. As a visual intro, Zucconi kissing Hooper is one of those shocking moments that feels desperately appropriate after the fact. "Colours" proves stunning, complete with the band screaming, "We call it ... life!" in one of those this-is-everything moments that feel like you're being pushed back in your seat by the acceleration of an airplane. And that's what this is, the moment before take off for a band on the verge of something seriously big, having cut themselves loose all just to get up in the air.

Listen :: GROUPLOVE - "Colours"


[Contest] Eastern Conference Champions :: Sante Fe EP

We're giving away a signed copy of Eastern Conference Champions Sante Fe EP. There will only be one winner and we'll be picking using our super-sophisticated, randomly generated system. Yes, we'll be closing our eyes and clicking on one of your emails. Shoot us a line at 32feet(at)gmail.com with "SANTE FE" in the subject by 5PM Friday, July 30. Good luck.


Yu(c)k :: "Daughter"

The UK's Yu(c)k have a fresh new cut called "Daughter." A far away piano progression backing some distant vocals, it sounds little like their hurricane of fuzz-pop, "Georgia." This is not a little bit haunting with oblique references to "the future" and empty space in spades.

Listen :: Yu(c)k - "Daughter" [zshare]


Eastern Conference Champions :: "Bloody Bells" [M.Zero Mix]

Eastern Conference Champions were a favorite before we ever heard their music, their name seeming to invoke an age of the 1990s where the Knicks, Bulls, Heat and Pistons beat each other over the head to win their eponymous moniker. However, since, we've fallen for their music, dating back to 2007's "The Box" and all the way to their more recent work on the Twilight Eclipse OST. Surprising, and still good. The band is set to release a new record while still touring off their Sante Fe EP. Up for download is a synth-heavy, sped-up version of "Bloody Bells." It's excellent and propulsive, but it is entirely up to you whether this makes you think of Alonzo Mourning.


On The List :: Delorean @ The Empty Bottle and Pitchfork [7.16-17.10]

On Friday night Delorean took the stage at Chicago's Empty Bottle just after midnight. They walked off to raucous applause just before after 1am. Thirteen hours later they were taking the stage in the surface-of-the-sun heat in front of thousands of fans at the Pitchfork Festival. From the depths of a dank rock club with Kurt Vile and Neon Indian looking on (and rocking out) to the bright lights of indie rock's most hand-picked and arguably relevant festival, it was nothing short of a whirlwind weekend of the boys from Barcelona.

The band bends to its surroundings, sounding like live club music one minute and crushing airy, summer jams the next. At the Empty Bottle they were the former, providing thudding beats (and even a synthesized fog horn) and bright melodies that had the late-night Chicago kids bouncing. The next afternoon, their music washed over Union Park like an achingly sunny wave. The music didn't change, nor did the set-list in any grave manner. The movers, "Grow," "Stay Close," and "Deli" burned the crowd up in both venues. The tone may have been different, but the change was not in qualitative value, proof of a band growing untouchable in their sound and methodology.


On The List :: LCD Soundsystem @ Pitchfork Music Festival [7.17.10]

LCD Soundsystem took the stage with the sun firmly in the ground as the headliner. Of course, as the crowd of 15,000 packed against the stage, sightlines were bad, legs were tired and bodies worn and dehydrated. James Murphy looked conflicted, delivering truth like improvised lyrics about his neighborhood, Williamsburg, or about the bands' catalogue, "It's like, we have these 12-minute songs and the lyrics aren't in rhythm." At other moments he looked troubled, like a man tired of sound techs who can't get it right, and exhausted with being the spokesperson of an age that is now 15 years his junior. It was a divided set, the highlight being the generational thesis statement, "All My Friends." The band closed with the typical "New York, I Love You," but this was Chicago and it wasn't clear the invitation or emotion extended this far west. Murphy and his band were great as always, but it wasn't the same and somehow, even with thousands of friends, it didn't feel a lick like being at home.

"All My Friends" (Live @ Pitchfork 2010)

On The List :: Wolf Parade @ Pitchfork Music Festival [7.17.10]

Even as the undercard to LCD Soundsystem, Wolf Parade still managed to level Chicago during Pitchfork; actually, the Sub Pop kids might have been better. Playing head-first into a blazing and rapidly setting sun, Wolf Parade ripped through half their new record and some old favorites noting, "We're not going to say much. We'll just try to play as many songs as we can in the hour they gave us." They did, closing with a furious, thrashing 10-minute, 90-degree-heat jam.

Listen :: Wolf Parade - "What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had To Go This Way)"
Listen :: Wolf Parade - "Ghost Pressure"


French Films :: "Golden Sea"

French Films, a brand new five-piece from Finland, released one of the more promising singles we've heard this year. Titled, "Golden Sea," the band compares themselves to The Drums and Wavves but with a flair for the dramatic out of the catalogue of post-post-punk acts. Angular, beachy guitars compete with soaring vocals and shimmering keys. It will be in your head for days like the haunting, chanted lyrics of the chorus, "It was only a dream/it was only a dream."

Listen :: French Films - "Golden Sea"


Grand Lake - "Spark"

Grand Lake drive at the roots of folk-rock with the effort, if not the angularity of Foreign Born. With some of the soaking reverb of Grand Archives and some homegrown giddy-up, the band hits its stride in the final movement of lead single, "Spark." With the lyrical couplet, "you are the spark/the light in the dark" on flat repeat and the arrangement growing to a full stomp behind them, Grand Lake find a battle cry in something wistful, a long forgotten axiom for people much in need of a lift.

Listen :: Grand Lake - "Spark"


Jaill :: "The Stroller"

There is more than a hint of menace in Jaill's debut, That's How We Burn. On "The Stroller", shabby, whip-smart, sawing guitars back an arrangement that is equal parts Thermals and Death From Above 1979, with a little of personal favorite The Mess Hall thrown in for good measure. The pre-chorus asks tense, rhetorical questions, "When you're panicked, do you count to ten? When you're surrounded, do you hold your breath?" The band's second LP and Sub Pop debut is due on the 27th. See if you can survive until then, unless you plan on holding your breath.

Listen :: Jaill - "The Stroller"
Listen :: Jaill - "Everyone's Hip"


Soft Reeds :: "This Affair"

Soft Reeds released their debut record, Soft Reeds Are Bastards this morning and offer the expansive, "This Affair" for your preview pleasure. In one of the most candid and devastating lyrics of the year, singer, Ben Grimes notes, "I'm getting tired of this affair/and now you've gone and done that to your hair." Like the roots of most failed relationships, it is simple, crushing and detail heavy. The arrangement is a stomping bit of 4/4 rock, replete with buzzing keys and enough guttural, "heys" to ball your fists and squint your eyes. Put another way, this might be the most frustrated thing to come out of Kansas City since George Brett was told about the pine tar on his bat.

Listen :: Soft Reeds - "This Affair"


Murder Mystery :: "I Am (If You Are)"

A popular and not unsophisticated insult in the 5th grade was the seminal, "So's your face." As a rough off-shoot of the even more juvenile and existentially-minded "I know you are but what am I?", the comeback evolved to be both ultimate retort and facially specific, a total triumph of linguistic and rhetorical evolution. Brooklyn's Murder Mystery, an equally playful name in tow, take this archetype for a comeback and make it about a relationship; they take this rhetoric and make it hopeful. The central twist being, "I'm willing to try, if you are/If you are, I am." The shimmering electro-pop lifts around the band, lilting female vocals gaining strength. It's not as elementary school as it seems.

Listen :: Murder Mystery - "I Am (If You Are)"
Listen :: Murder Mystery - "Change My Mind"


On The List :: Stornoway @ Mercury Lounge [7.8.10]

This review runs on Bowery's Houselist Blog.

There was a fire on the top floor of a building catty-corner to Mercury Lounge last night. Stornoway singer Brian Briggs said the structure began burning during their sound check, so they ran outside to watch. The audience chuckled at such relevant stage banter, but the truth was larger than they knew. As Stornoway had gathered just hours earlier on the streets of the East Village for a bit of combustible rubber-necking, this crowd too gathered at Mercury Lounge to gawk and stare and be silenced by something stunning.

Playing only their second US show, Stornoway opened with the standout “I Saw You Blink.” It rode the inside edge of endearing, earnest for its own sake. Briggs looked toward the ceiling, asking, “I need to know, are you the one?” with vocal clarity so stunning and pure, it brought legitimate and spontaneous tears to the eyes of a woman in the third row. This was only the first chorus of their first song. Rolling through “The Coldharbour Road,” “Fuel Up” and “Here Comes the Blackout” (minus the carrot chopping you hear on the album, they were sure to tell us), the band proved that such beauty would come in bunches not bursts.

For the last two songs of their set, Briggs and his mates stepped in front of their microphones, unplugged their guitars and played with no amplification. The need for mutual trust in this moment couldn’t be missed: It is playing without a net, a performer’s voice no more powerful than any single audience member. The audience stood stock still and hush quiet as intensely human voices sailed out in blended three-part harmony. As they closed the set with “We Are the Battery Human,” Stornoway urged us out with the lyric “We were born to be free range, free range.” This was, of course, true. These people could do as they pleased. But for the moment, they stood and watched and clapped.

Dominant Legs :: "Clawing Out At The Walls"

Back in November we wrote one of those generational apologias through the lens of Dominant Legs' one-off "Young At Love And Life." Now, the downcast San Francisco pop duo are ready to release their first proper EP on Lefse, the band are previewing "Clawing Out At The Walls," a pebbled bit of shambling reflection. Centered on a bongo-beat and a lazy guitar line out of the Camera Obscura school, the song soars and dips under its own power, like a halfway broken ceiling fan in a room too hot for its own good. Singers Ryan Lynch and Hannah Hunt revel in this bit of claustrophobia in the chorus, "Don't you see we're clawing out at the walls?" We do see it, it just doesn't sound as troubling as we thought it might.

Listen :: Dominant Legs - "Clawing Out At The Walls"


On The List :: Stornoway @ Union Hall [7.7.10]

Last night, Stornoway were in Brooklyn for their first show in the United States. At home in the UK, they sell out major venues and appear on late night television. Here, they won't sell out Union Hall, a venue that fire codes at 92. Of course, this sets up one of those special moments where an audience sees a band in a milieu that will never exist again; and a band to return to its beginnings, remembering what it felt like the first time someone knew the words to your songs. This band is on its way inexorably up, and the audience are the lucky people to see this arrow just before it takes off.

Sitting at the bar just after 8:30, the Stornoway bassist revealed they would be playing some songs acoustically. "It's such a small room," he continued. "It'll be nice to go unplugged." He returned to his hamburger held by a hand connected to a wrist covered to forearm with old show bracelets, like rings of a tree that stayed out too late. This unplugged promise seemed innocuous, in fact, it was hard to imagine how it would happen.

Stornoway opened with the crushing, "I Saw You Blink" before rolling into the pub shanty, "Fuel Up". The back of the crowd remained far too chatty, the mark of too many industry kids, but this is semantic. Singer Brian Briggs commended so many of us for knowing the words to "I Saw You Blink" and then made some magnanimous criticisms of illegal downloading. Yes, only in America will the people from your label talk through your set, while the people who stole your music sing loudly from the front row.

The set became unforgettable in the final two songs, performed without mikes and without amplification. Briggs' heart-broken vocals soared out over the room, and on the final song, "We Are The Battery Human," he encouraged us to return to our roots, "we were born to be free range, free range," as the audience agreed in unison. After an encore they closed with first single, "Zorbing," a song so light in weight it nearly floated away. Bassist, Oliver Steadman got one of those silly grins as the front rows spun and sung the words. You can travel 3,000 miles and find strangers who love your work; it's weird, but it works. At the end the band disappeared behind a curtain and their fans clapped into the night, glad to have met each other even as cross-directed arrows.

Listen :: Stornoway - "On The Rocks"


32ft On The Road, An Invitation

Last summer, we took the blog to LA for a month. We were welcomed with open arms. But it was one city, one location, easily navigable. This summer, starting on July 14th, we're taking this project on the road, cross-country into the month of August. Some of this is scheduled and some of this is open. We will be in Chicago for Pitchfork in mid-July and we'll be in LA around the end of the month. Basically, if you're a band (or if you know a band you think we might want to see), and you exist between New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Sante Fe, Austin, New Orleans, Charleston, DC, and Philly, let us know. 32feet(at)gmail.com. We'll try to make it work. Otherwise, thanks for your ridiculous patronage of this continually absurd project.

Last summer we raced to see if California readers or New York readers would tip the scales and take the title as 32feet's home. This summer, it's America. We're expecting a lot out of you.

Listen :: Marina and the Diamonds - "I Am Not A Robot" (Clock Opera Remix)

Bishop Morocco :: "Last Year's Disco Guitars"

Perhaps motivated by and perhaps disgusted with dance, Bishop Morocco destroy last year's disco guitars with a song of roughly the same name. Languid, down-stroke guitars mix with an insistent, if not entirely demanding, bass line, together approaching just shy of the zip code where "Love Will Tear Us Apart" has been receiving mail since 1979. Think of a Toronto-based Egyptian Hip Hop, and cast your eyes downward, shuffle your feet and throw out anything shiny. There will be hush in the darkness and slow movements on the dance floor this year; disco be damned.

Listen :: Bishop Morocco - "Last Year's Disco Guitars"


tooth ache. - "Skin"

Both weaving and baroque, tooth ache.'s "Skin" sounds like Our Constant Concern-era Mates of State being played by 2009's Beach House. The keys are nearly irritating, Nintendo saccharine, too sweet like juice concentrate mixed with the wrong proportion of water. However, when added to bottom-of-the-pool vocals and a clap track, the result is utterly perfect. Dizzy, disorienting verses lead inexorably to one of those elevated choruses with a melody built for repetition. The lyrics, almost impossible to distinguish, encourage the joy of irrepressible youth, "Not to sleep but to drag color into the wake/ And speed into morning after/ Oh, how we tickled the belly of the lake/ And rolled in its laughter." It gets no more simple, stream and download below.

tooth ache. - Skin by fatherdaughter


Happy Birthday, America

234 years ago today, we declared our independence from Continental rule. We can debate if it was freedom versus tyranny, a refusal to be taxed without appropriate representation, or if it was a group of rich, white merchants and planters looking out for their wallets, but the ultimate truth is that we wouldn't exist without the actions and rhetoric of 1776. Today, we celebrate by gathering on rooftops, cooking meat over open flame and launching illegal combustibles into the air. We may be divorced from our history. We may not fully grasp national sacrifice. We may focus on our divisions too readily. But for today, we can meet in the middle. We love this place that we have come to know. Happy Birthday country.

Listen :: Sufjan Stevens - "The Star Spangled Banner"


[Elevator] Computer Magic :: "Electronic Fences" and "Teenage Ballad (High School)"

Brooklyn's Computer Magic is about to blow doors off with the hurricane force of taking chillwave to its final, logical, ground-down When In Rome/Human League conclusion. That is a compliment. An adorable, and yet not without depth, series of loops and bright synths provide the backing for longitudinal, strung-out meditations passing in the night as arrangements. On "Electronic Fences," Computer Magic spins like a anti-authoritarian pinwheel before a clap-clap track finds a chorus in the cold meds. Personal favorite, "Teenage Ballad (High School)" almost evokes the melody from Rilo Kiley's "Execution Of All Things" before the arrangement gets serious, insisting blithely, "I wanna be really mean." It is one of those washed out anthems for a John Hughes movie that never got made, kids in Wayfarer glasses and drinking straight from the hose. Computer Magic are on the edge of blowing up, like Chairlift songs played by Ernest Green or like an all-nighter slowed down to 45bpm, blurry, spinning stars and warm summer evenings.

"Electronic Fences"

Electronic Fences by Computer Magic

"Teenage Ballad (High School)"

Teenage Ballad (High School) by Computer Magic


Math and Physics Club :: "Jimmy Had A Polaroid"

Back with a second LP, I Shouldn't Look As Good As I Do, Math and Physics Club aren't poised to be the biggest band around, in fact, they are intentionally not that. They make close music, a branch of acoustic twee, meant for mixtapes and hushed moments between good acquaintances. The hooks are undeniable, the pop crystalline. This is music that takes a modest personal investment, the return on which is obvious and valuable. "Jimmy Had A Polaroid" is the most spacious sound the band has ever pursued but even then the portrait is intimate, the guitars warm and spinning, like a Camera Obscura cut played by The Lucksmiths. Even for an intentionally small band, MAPC aspire to be only your favorite. It's certainly the least you can do.

Listen :: Math and Physics Club - "Jimmy Had A Polaroid"
Listen :: Math and Physics Club - "Love or Lonliness"
Listen :: Math and Physics Club - "Darling, Please Come Home"