Another release that got lost in the shuffle the past few months. Anybody who’s followed the blog or the radio show knows about my affinity for all things Deerhunter-adjacent. So even though Frankie Broyles only served a short stint in their post Monomania touring lineup, my interest was piqued when I heard he had resurfaced in Omni. Not that the band needs to get by on Cox and Co. namedropping alone: Broyles himself banked plenty of goodwill with his previous solo work and a very underrated Balkans album that came out in 2011 and Omni’s other two members, Philip Frobos and Billy Mitchell, had no issues ripping shit up together in Carnivores. If anything, Omni is a succinct reminder of just how deep Atlanta’s scene runs right now.
So the music itself? Well, there’s no way that the song posted above is named “Wire” by mere coincidence alone. In fact, all of Deluxe, the band’s debut, calls back to a time decades ago when England was trying to nail down just exactly what the term “post punk” meant, exactly. Everything from the tinny production to the sinewy guitar leads to the shapeshifting rhythm section set the mood perfectly. If “Wire” gets you moving, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of Deluxe just as much.
This one came out while the blog went dark for a few months and you’ve probably heard it (multiple times) by now, but goddamn if I’d be remiss not to mention it at some point before the end of the year. “Sister” is the centerpiece of Olsen’s My Woman, the perfect marriage of her Opry-ready croons and more recent forays into traditional indie and pop. This is also the first time I could conceivably trick a family member into thinking they were listening to a long-lost Fleetwood Mac song and have them believe me. Maybe the best second half of a song since Built to Spill stole our hearts nearly two decades ago.
Score another one for Athens, GA, a town that’s been taking victory laps for damn near three decades now. Muuy Biien are patient enough to lurch and screech through “Another Chore”. No chorus, no bridge, just pulsing bass. Age of Uncertainty came out on Autumn Tone late last month and the band is streaming the whole thing over at their Soundcloud, so go check it out.
A few months ago, I watched Whitney amble admirably through a majority of the tracks off of their debut Light Upon the Lake to a midday beer festival crowd in Columbus, OH. The album had already gotten a ton of hype from the blogosphere/Pitchfork/etc…, so it was a bit strange to see them scheduled so early in the day. In hindsight, though, it makes perfect sense.
Light Upon the Lake is the Laurel Canyon and Ventura Highway by way of Chicago’s suburbs. Whitney formed from the ashes of the Smith Westerns, and while their glammy garage racket would never be confused with, say, Flipper, there was some punk undercurrent bubbling below the surface. That’s now long gone, and it’s for the better. Whitney is, for lack of a better term, dad rock. And that’s the entire reason they’ve found such success. Maybe that’s because a majority of the Napster generation are mothers and fathers now. I can still occasionally throw on Converge and recall my teenage angst. Other days, after conference calls and investment meetings and other vaguely adultish shit, I’m glad to shut off and bliss out to, you know, pleasant music on the ride home. And that’s exactly what Whitney is: songs you can sway along to in the mid afternoon at a music festival. Sunshine rock. My girlfriend doesn’t know what the hell Best New Music means, but she’s glad when “Golden Days” comes on during a roadtrip.
Twin Peaks, on the other hand, just put out the album I feel like the Smith Westerns were always striving for. There is a slight (very slight) edge to things. But all of those distorted guitars are still playing major chords, and there’s a lot more going on around them then typical garage rock: the brass in “Cold Lips”, the Clemonsesque sax in “Keep it Together”, and the swinging piano rhythm of “Getting Better” are just a few examples. There’s enough nods to the 60’s and 70’s here to betray the fact that none of the band’s members are past college age yet.
Stereogum pretty much nailed it with this headline and the phrase “triumphantly choogle”. The internet certainly hasn’t done away with presumption. Quite the opposite, of course. But it has certainly made it possible to explore the gray areas around the Americas and the Eagles of the world with fewer repercussions than there would have been if this happened when rock and roll was savingusall (whoops!) in the mid-90’s. I, for one, am glad there are bands finally dipping their toes into these particular waters.
In hindsight, the last few years of the 80’s were a strange time in Sonic Youth’s evolution. The band had long enjoyed critical success and just sold over 60,000 copies of Sister. They had also just contentiously left SST over the label’s now notorious accounting practices. Not long into the 90’s, they would release Goo on Geffen Records, but 1988’s classic Daydream Nation came out on Enigma, a sort of mini-major that enjoyed distribution through Capitol. So while the band didn’t have the cache to start their run of Lettermanperformances quite yet, they still found a way to sneak into NBC’s late-night programming via Night Music, a show that managed to broadcast performances by visionaries such as Lou Reed and John Cale, The Pixies, Sun Ra, and countless others out to a national audience over the course of its two year run.
It’s no surprise that the band chose to play “Silver Rocket” on the program. Nation‘s lead single “Teenage Riot” is damn near seven minutes long, and “Rocket” is about as close to a pop moment as you’ll find on the album. That doesn’t stop SY from absolutely tearing through the song live, though, including over a minute of earsplitting feedback smack dab in the middle (check the bend of the neck on Moore’s guitar around the 1:50 mark. It’s about as good an advertisement for Fender’s durability as the company could ask for). Again, this was all happening on national television.
The weirdness wasn’t quite over yet, as Gordon, Moore, Ranaldo, and Shelley would return later on to close out the show with an eviscerating take on “I Wanna Be Your Dog” with a little bit of help from the Indigo Girls (who appeared earlier on the same episode), host David Sanborn, and the house band. There are multiple WTF moments here, though my favorite might be “manager” Don Fleming battling Sanborn for mic time before giving up and spiking his flute to the ground like he had just scored in the Super Bowl. A keytar makes multiple appearances. Steve Shelley spends the entire three minutes grinning ear to ear, and it’s hard not to understand why.
I don’t know much about Whitney K. It appears to be an outlet for BC’s Konner Whitney to indulge his more Dylan-esque songwriting tendencies. He may or may not also be an associate of fellow Vancouverite Patrick Flegel (he of Cindy Lee and Androgynous Mind fame, among other projects you may have heard of). I assume they spend most of their hypothetical time together reminiscing about the Grizzlies.
“Ode to the Old Ways” lurches along, like a Blood on the Tracks session played back at half speed. Then the bridge hits and transports the whole song to the East Village circa 1977 before stumbling back to the old dirt road it drove in on. If you like what you hear, you should enjoy the rest of Goodnight, which you can check out right here.