Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Michael James Murray, founder of The Calcutta Blog.
The Morning Benders – Big Echo
These California natives have been around for a little while but are just starting to get the recognition they deserve. The turning point came when Pitchfork posted a video for their song "Excuses," which pictured a tiny studio crammed with twenty-some people collectively singing and playing to the track. Big Echo reflects Grizzly Bear (Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear produced) and Department of Eagles, with swooning vocal harmonies and reverberated guitar tones.
Tracks: "Excuses," "Promises," "Mason Jar."
The House Floor – Warship
The House Floor is an up-and-coming Brooklyn-based four-piece with one of the more interesting and complex songwriting styles I’ve heard in a while. From Blacksburg, Virginia, where all but one member attended Virginia Tech, the band makes music that’s unique both lyrically and instrumentally, with each member contributing insight and intricacy. Alex Tschan’s lyrics explore the daunting complexities of human nature, from the banalities of everyday to the uncertainties of the future.
Tracks: "Christian Friends," "All Aboard," "Play Doctor."
Listen on their website.
Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
Local Natives are a tight band with an ear for heavy rhythms and catchy lead lines that get you humming the hook as soon as you hear it. I had a chance to see them perform at SXSW in Austin this year, and they were definite contenders for best performance of the whole festival. They’re one of the best live shows to see in 2010. As they tour in support of Gorilla Manor, check out the album, then do yourself a favor and and get out to one of their shows!
Tracks: "Camera Talk," "Shape Shifter," "Sun Hands."
St. Vincent – Actor
St. Vincent frontwoman Annie Clark is a charming personality and a dark songwriter with an affinity for long melody and pulsing beats. Her vocals evoke a dream-like daze, but her sharp guitar rhythms wake you back up. Song to song, Actor ranges pretty extensively in style, but it comes together nicely as a whole. I saw Annie and her band this past winter in the sanctuary of an old Unitarian church, and the show immediately made my all-time top five.
Tracks: "The Strangers," "The Party," "Just The Same But Brand New."
Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Shins frontman James Mercer and super-producer Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse, of Gnarls Barkley, Black Keys, Beck) are at the top of the game with this release. Burton’s drumming mixes perfectly with Mercer’s quick guitar and soothing vocals. Initially, you might be skeptical about how well Burton could fit a voice like Mercer’s, but as both a producer and musician in this duo, he continues to impress with his ear for rhythm and songwriting.
Tracks: "The High Road," "Sailing to Nowhere," and "October."
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