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Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now
This week's curator: Mara Schwartz of Bug Music.
By Mara Schwartz
Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Mara Schwartz of Bug Music.
My life features a soundtrack of near-continual music, whether I'm deciding which of our company's artists to suggest for an upcoming film, checking out new songwriters we're considering signing, or just listening for pleasure. Here are five that stood out from the unruly pack and made me want to listen again and again.
1. Royal Bangs, Let It Beep
This Nashville-based electro-indie trio takes all the cool hybridization of dance-punk bands like The Rapture and !!!, but turns up the rock more than the booty shaking. Like The Faint at their prime, this group uses inspired synth lines to give an '80s edge to uncompromising, guitar-blasting tunes. Loved by the Black Keys (whose drummer's label, Audio Eagle, released this album), the band's next jaunt will be on unstoppable hitmakers Glassnote Records (Phoenix, Temper Trap, Mumford and Sons) — meaning you'll likely hear Royal Bangs' electricity coursing through an iPod or car commercial near you.
Listen: "Poison Control"
2. Generationals, Con Law
Last year's debut from New Orleans act Generationals (which rose from the ashes of the indie-pop band The Eames Era) is all over the map, careening between '60s-inspired boy-group pop, wonderfully twee bounciness, and guitar-laden indie rock. Somehow this all coalesces, thanks to the band's sly songwriting, which manages to create fully-formed worlds with just a few perfectly placed details.
Listen: "Nobody Could Change Your Mind"
3. Surf City, Kudos
Neither surf rock nor a Beach Boys tribute band, this young New Zealand group shares close musical ties with The Jesus and Mary Chain, whose "Kill Surf City" provided inspiration for its moniker. Throw in a little influence from countrymen like The Chills and The Clean, along with some tightly aggressive tunes, and this brand-spanking-new album is unfrozen in time — it could have come out at any point during the past thirty years and still have been the coolest record at the party.
Listen: "See How The Sun"
4. Mazarin, We're Already There
This album's about five years old, and the band's already broken up over legal wranglings with a similarly-named act, which is a shame because this is a true indie gem. The songs twinkle and shine despite the sadness of writer Quentin Stoltzfus' worldview, tossing in head-spinningly complicated percussion here, driving guitar-wash there. One glimmer of recognition for Mazarin came via The Walkmen, who covered the poignant "Another One Goes By" on their album A Hundred Miles Off.
Listen: "Another One Goes By"
5. Aztec Camera, Knife
On the slight chance you're not wondering, "Who?" you're probably thinking, "They had another album?" Best known in the U.S. for 1983's new-wave hit "Oblivious," this band's 1984 follow-up was largely overlooked, despite production by then-hot Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler. Knopfler added a gorgeous studio sheen to then-twenty-year-old Scottish frontman Roddy Frame's jangle-pop melancholia, running the gamut from upbeat guitar-strummy wordplay to sparse modern folk songs. One suspects Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch spent a good chunk of formative years dancing around his bedroom to this one.
Listen: "All I Need Is Everything"