Interview :: Lord Huron [1.31.11]

LA's Lord Huron released two of the finest EPs of 2010, one even called Mighty, the perfect name for such a strong grouping of songs. We shot some emails back and forth with singer and writer Ben Schneider, who reflects on taking his music to the stage and why engaged people don't deserve to drown. His words and some of his songs after the jump.


RAMESH :: "The King"

I've always felt a strange connection to Ramesh Srivastava. We've never met, but I did review his band back in 2005 when he was touring under the name Voxtrot. It was my first New York show and, perhaps more importantly, the first time I felt like I'd been firmly ahead of the curve on a band with the chance to break into the iTunes of thousands of people who simply didn't know them yet. Voxtrot did and didn't make it, generating three quality EPs before releasing an eventual 2007 LP that was both better than it was given credit for and also impossibly not what people imagined. In 2009, the band released a few singles and then announced their indefinite hiatus. Their final single, "Berlin, Without Return," eluded to their singer's flight to Germany in search of something, but certainly not the band's career. The chorus was a final nod from Ramesh to his band, a break up epitaph in the Hornby style. It might as well have said, "Yes, I did these things."

Ramesh emerged from the rubble, announcing his solo artist status on his blog and a winking, maybe bitter website, Rameshalwayswins.com. First release, "The King" isn't necessarily the triumphant counterweight to "Berlin, Without Return" and his previous band's final lyrics, "What do you know?" But, Srivastava continues to talk about himself and his career through these rhetorical conversations with invented women. The song's final act, "Baby, I'm the king and they're never gonna take me alive," is every bit a declaration of independence covered in strings and chamber pop flourish. Therein lies the beautiful contradiction. This is the sound of a man unapolgetically on his own but still in need of us.

Oregon Bike Trails :: "High School Lover"

LA's Oregon Bike Trails recall in name and practice something that happened a long time ago. The sound, wistful and echoing, recalls Grizzly Bear if Droste and Rossen liked to dance a little. "High School Lover" relies on a taut little piano progression, sweet pebbled drums and vocals that emerge unpredictably on the tonal scale like the defendants in musical game of whack-a-mole. Their name evokes a video game that any early 80s baby played on floppy disk and the lyrics describe Elizabeth, who could be anyone, and why she rides on someone else's bicycle when she refuses the be the eponymous. It is nostalgia, bitter and pretty, and in this case, very well done.


LESANDS :: "Restless Lover"

Last week we received the latest LESANDS EP, Sweet Skin, featuring three remixed and remastered tracks from the band's original demos and two new cuts. Of these new songs, track two "Restless Lover" stood out in sharp relief as an early top single of 2011. The buzzing synths and the huge echoing claps all tumbled toward a soaring chorus crafted to stay in your head all morning and into the afternoon. Sounding like a more optimistic, and significantly updated Human League, LESANDS have been on a late night, neon heater since last summer, and the Sweet Skin EP will break them for anyone still refusing to pay attention. Head over the band's bandcamp to pick up the record for free.


Walk The Moon :: "Anna Sun"

This is the generation raised on Where The Wild Things Are and Chris Van Allsburg. Youth was cast as cartoonish mystery, as wonder and animated violence, as sketched fear and yearning. Of course, we are not six anymore and we grew, maybe even to paint our faces and run around in old buildings and fields on digital video. A generation of entitlement now faced with anxiety, operating with every coping heuristic we know, all committed to video tape. We are not afraid, according to Cincinnati's Walk The Moon on triumphant single, "Anna Sun"; we are exuberant and willing to document it. In an structure that references the synths, bass lines and ripping guitars that are very nearly pedantic, until they meet this chorus, a hook built only to pierce your cheek and drag you to the surface. It is your same life, only affirmed. These are the days of miracle and wonder, they insist, even while noting, "this house is falling apart." The regime recently ran against us a bit, but just look at these people: The revolution won't be televised, but it will certainly be put on youtube.


On The List :: Tokyo Police Club and Two Door Cinema Club @ Terminal 5 [1.21.10]

This review runs live and in color with amazing photos (not by us) on Bowery's House List.

The theme music from The Empire Strikes Back echoed out toward the enormous disco ball hanging over what seemed like an especially sold-out Terminal 5. The lights cut out and the house music became applause as Tokyo Police Club took the stage in a stride combining sheepishness and magnanimity. Their introduction was no mistake; owing to a competition with coheadliner Two Door Cinema Club to see which band could have the more bizarre house music played before their set. This particular song was perfect since a different and more ebullient empire, Tokyo Police Club, was making a triumphant return of its own.

The band mixed recent material and older songs with aplomb, revealing how far they’ve come and how little they’ve changed. Tokyo Police Club opened with “Favourite Food,” off 2010’s Champ, followed by the spasmodic “Nature of the Experiment,” from their debut EP. Mixing in material from Elephant Shell, TPC played “Graves,” “In a Cave” and a shuddering version of “Tessellate,” with the crowd clapping in perfect time throughout the verses.

The show was about marking milestones as much as it was about reviewing the jet trail of a band in liftoff. After playing recent single “Breakneck Speed,” featuring the central lyric “It’s good to be back,” frontman Dave Monks looked into the balconies and screamed, “This is for anyone who was at Mercury Lounge in 2006,” before playing the clapping “Citizens of Tomorrow” with its winking reference to the future of “2009.” Monks got it: He and his band were the heirs to some throne and they were now sitting on it. For the encore, they brought Two Door Cinema Club onstage to join them in covering the Strokes’ “Last Nite,” a song without which neither band would have been standing in front of 3,000 rock kids in New York City. It was good to be back. It was good to be here.


On The List :: The Vaccines @ Bowery Ballroom [1.20.11]

This review runs live and in color on Bowery's House List.

There were two shows happening last night at the sold-out Bowery Ballroom, and the Vaccines were playing them both. As the most hotly buzzed UK band since the Arctic Monkeys, the London four-piece took the stage in front of a crowd that hardly knew them. A cursory exploration of the Internet would reveal that any nonindustry kids in attendance had heard a maximum of four songs before buying tickets to the first Vaccines show in the US. The crowd wasn’t exactly there to see the band, but rather, they showed up to see what they imagined the group would be. So the question and the disjoint hung heavy over an unwitting and ecstatic audience: Who are the Vaccines?

Even with all the hype, the Vaccines, displaying a combination of polish and caustic irreverence, appeared unfazed. They opened with “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra),” a sub-two-minute ripper sitting so firmly on the downbeat that you’d almost expect the floor to collapse. Two songs later, sounding like a more approachable Interpol, the Vaccines played their latest single, “Post Break-Up Sex,” the kind of love song that isn’t about love at all—kind of like people who fought to see a band they hoped might be great. The Vaccines hung the middle of their show on the fulcrum of their first demo, “If You Wanna,” a storming sing-along that might be their best song.

The quartet closed their main set with “Blow It Up,” describing destruction and mercuriality in the same chorus. And the two images of the band began to comfortably focus toward each another like uncrossing eyes. They were both themselves and the band everyone had imagined they could be. In the terms of their hype, they’re “the real fucking deal.” And nothing better shaped the evening than the second song, a tune no one knew (how could they?), where the final act was the screaming lyric: “We are happening.” And they were.

The Vaccines - Blow It Up by radarmaker

The Vaccines - Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra) by radarmaker


MNDR :: "Cut Me Out"

It could well be the year of MNDR. If latest single, "Cut Me Out," released on Mountain Dew's fantastically corporate (a terms of use agreement, really?) indie music project Green Label Sound, is any indication, she is one step closer to being the La Roux people don't know yet. "Cut Me Out" thumps and pulses in the verses before tumbling into an eighth note riddled chorus of layered vocals and attacking synths. She scorches her own creation, stalking through the arrangment in a combination of sensuality and rage. The synthetic, UB-40 horns at the end of the chorus are the only indication this is as fun as it is serious. MNDR, Amanda Warner, you have 11-months to kill all these people. Take that as seriously as you want.


Typhoon :: "CPR - Claws Pt.2"

Typhoon built this little lean-to in the Pacific Northwest, a shed against what we assume is the outside world, an absurd number of musicians drawn together to build something with a heartbeat. The tiny acoustic loop and the shy chimes which frame the foundation give way to exactly this body rhythm at 3.30, as the strings weld themselves behind what sounds like seven or eight enthusiastic voices. This second movement offers little for those in search of resolution, just a more angular progression, an edge to the hush of the song's first half. A troubling paralysis creeps in at the edges, "I want to live/but I don't want to live," before the final bout of apathy, "I don't want any enemies." Serving as the third movement of three, it is a world away from the hand-claps and Sufjan-referencing, secret-secret vocals of the first. For good reason they just want to find a place where they can be left alone, reflecting before the departure, "I am no God fearing man/But I am afraid."

Listen :: Typhoon - "CPR -Claws Pt.2"


Ducktails :: "Hamilton Road"

The summer never ends for Ducktails, a side-project and not-far-split from the Real Estate tree. These far away guitars and pleasantly fuzzy fidelity has a place in the sand where the earth never turns and the sun always hangs at 4:30pm in the Western sky. "Hamilton Road" has a chorus, sort of, or a hook that shows up in the middle and then again at the end like an unreliable and unpunctual acquaintance. They play Glasslands with the Smith Westerns tonight for a slice of the weather and the attitude that is still halfway around the calendar.

Listen :: Ducktails - "Hamilton Road"


Hooded Fang :: "Laughing" and "Promise Land"

Ontario's Hooded Fang drive straight to the heart of indie pop with warm horns, chimes, and boy-girl vocals. Some commentators compare them to a slow-drive version of the Strokes - this is solidly and obviously not useful - and  some European critics seem to find relatability to Belle and Sebastian. There is even a moment in "Promise Land" where the baroque peel off evokes a rougher version of the harpsichord in Vampire Weekend's 2007 contribution "M79." Hell, the male vocals are nearly identical to Throw Me The Statue. An important to mention self-indictment: This is just a small band from Canada and such grandiose telomeres do little to perfectly frame their debut self-titled LP which is, by this report, fantastic. So for just a minute allow yourself to just listen to two songs off that debut record. They are, quite obviously, impressive.


"Promise Land"


Grouplove :: "Colours" [Captain Cuts Remix]

LA's Grouplove took us out at the knees last year with their demo for "Colours." It made our year end list and they made our feature on bands set to blow up in 2011. They are set for a spring LP release on Atlantic/Canvasback that will finally bring them the attention of the kids who want to like them but don't know it yet. Above, you'll find the official video for "Colours," an over-dramatic visual take which nonetheless features some awesome footage of front man Christian Zucconi running through a field. The camera is attached to his waist and pointed at his face, the perfect picture of energy, youth and exuberance. Below, spin through the Captain Cuts remix of "Colours," a chopped up and completely shuddering take on the original, featuring buzzing synths and a clap track big enough to claim "We Will Rock You" as a grandparent. It is the first excellent remix of 2011, edgy enough to bring this California band into the dark dance clubs of the Lower East Side. It's only the next stop on a tour that will bring this band just about everywhere.


The Radio Dept. :: "The One"

The Radio Dept. make being a chronically under-appreciated pop band look good. In just under two weeks time, the band will release a compilation that documents exactly this history of under-appreciation, Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010. Their sound documents easily as the kind of sunny, wistful pop that makes summer seem both beautiful and terrible. On latest leak, and last track of the double album comp, "The One" moves with languid pace against a back drop of a dub snare and glittering synths, or, exactly the thing to help pay homage to a band that not enough people paid attention to the first time around. Welcome to the unremembered future.

Listen :: The Radio Dept. - "The One"


La Sera :: "Devils Hearts Grow Gold"

There is a nursery rhyme in "Devils Hearts Grow Gold," the latest mp3 released from Katy Goodman's breezy and brilliant solo project, La Sera. It could certainly be the easy rhymes or the sing-song melody, or the pedantic and prescriptive folk advice. Or maybe it is the sub-three minute attention span, short enough to easily remember, and repetitive enough to spend the afternoon chanting while playing foursquare in the driveway. Intentionally shabby, put together with one of those seminal shrugs of excellence, the guitar hook eerily evokes a different take on the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" If this is how the world burns, we won't be holding hands with Helena Bonham Carter on the 30th floor - we'll be out back playing simple games and singing this song.

Listen :: La Sera - "Devils Hearts Grow Gold"


Smith Westerns :: "All Die Young"

The Smith Westerns charm with precociousness if nothing else. Even six months ago, the band toured the indie rock festival circuit while cracking jokes about not being old enough to drink. It was big stages but no wristbands for the teenagers from Chicago. But adolescence rounds into something else on their second LP, Dye It Blonde, a fantastic, Bowie-citing pop thesis, due out in little more than a week. Even a cursory listen proves that these hair-in-their-face sheepish kids are ready to be more than pretty good for their age. On "All Die Young," the swimming and summer pop of 1978 does a lazy box step at the last dance of the year. The obvious fatalism is the stuff of montage, a blurry water color of youth mixed with how we want to remember things, rather than how they actually happened. Kind of like the imagination of being a teenager out on tour, living in wayfarers on the set of some low budget Almost Famous.

Smith Westerns - "All Die Young" by forcefieldpr


So Many Wizards :: "Nico"

The bedroom/laptop pop of So Many Wizards' single "Nico" rides a metronomic riff into the middle of a Dramamine haze, swelling and reeling in waves. The centering influence is the insistence of the snare and a looping keyboard riff that moves with the devilish malaise of the most laissez-faire attitudes. Of course, this Los Angeles band has their eyebrow raised fully at the emotional homicide to which they allude, titling their record Love Songs For When You Leave Me. On, "Nico", the lyrics are nearly indecipherable but the message still comes through with total clarity: Break it off and see if you can raise my pulse above this steady, unrelenting beat.

Listen :: So Many Wizards - "Nico"


Kyla La Grange :: "Walk Through Walls"

Kate Bush introduced herself to so many with the simple and esoteric greeting, "Heathcliff? It's me Cathy." With no Bronte references for the UK's Kyla La Grange, the introduction will be a stunning and soaring first single, "Walk Through Walls." Featuring pounding drums of the kind of tribal menace that absolutely made Florence Welch, and a withering vocal in the spirit of Bush and PJ Harvey, La Grange has her own single by the hair with no interest in letting go. For the chorus, she rides her voice to the top of arrangement with a destructive and life-affirming lyric, "Get up, get up, get up/my heart is heavy." In the spirit of La Grange's sonic cousins The Jezabels, this is wide open, go-for-broke pop. Soon enough, Kyla La Grange won't need to introduce herself to anyone; everyone will already know her.

Kyla La Grange - Walk Through Walls by Stayloose


Work Drugs :: "Third Wave"

Perhaps easily written off as chill-wave - and in this respect we can be somewhat relieved that 2010 and discussions of this nature are largely over because, in this case, it would be a mistake - Philadelphia's Work Drugs have a little cold medicine single, "Third Wave." Bouncing along on the back of a surprisingly urgent back beat, the song glows like a Washed Out joint, but at every moment of nodding off, of drifting through the curve and over the jersey barrier between us and oblivion, the snare snaps us back awake and away. This is surely not a mistake.


32ft In Review :: The Top 10 Posts of 2010

2010 was 32ft/second's most productive year writing and, chicken or egg, the music was oustanding to match. There were more than 43,000 of you who spent time with us this year. A special thanks to those few thousand of you who make this little corner of the Internet a daily stop in your reading. In a sea of RSS feeds and things we follow and like and try to keep up with, it is flattering and humbling that you let us into your life. Thank you to all the bands who sent in their music and thanks to all the publicists for setting things up and dealing with too many emails. Thanks too to the 32ft/second family and friends to whom this project continually references and relies on, which is ultimately, the fabric that holds us up. With regard and gratitude, your Top 10 Posts of 2010 based on web traffic:

1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs LP review

2. Loney, Dear - "Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl"

3. Wolf Gang - "Back To Back"

4. First Rate People - "Girls' Night"

5. Two Door Cinema Club - "Costume Party"

6. Washed Out - "You And I" [ft. Carolina Polacheck]

7. The National - "I'm Afraid Of Everyone"

8. Generationals - "Trust"

9. Top 50 of 2009 [10-6]

10. Wolf Gang - "Pieces Of You"

End of Year Stats 2010:

Unique Visitors: 43,484

Total Pageviews: 84,692