20.12.05

Weekly: So Sick of Power-Pop

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Let's start this post out on a rant!
For every year that I've been actively paying attention to the music I hear, there has been a sort of musical trend ... some sound that becomes fashionable. Bands have even been known to totally alter their sound to cater to this new trend (i.e. Supersystem), also. Two years ago, thanks to the DFA, the Rapture, and the Liars, we were hit with a massive wave of dance-punk[, or whatever you want to call that hybrid indie-rock dance style ... ]
Last year was a little hazier -- and we still have not had enough time to analyze it too thoroughly -- but all of the "fashionable" bands (I am not using that term derogatorily) seemed to strive for a return to something more simplistic or basic. Whether that was the simple freak-folk of Dvendra Banhart, Espers, Joanna Newsom, and Ariel Pink, the lo-fi production values of the Concretes, Mirah, and the Walkmen, or the true return to punk of the Futureheads, all of the bands aspired to reach the artistic highs of their technologically-deprived predecessors.
This year -- while it is too early to analyze it in any great detail since it is not even over yet -- has had one too many power-pop groups for me to handle!
I don't mean to hate on such bands, but whenever I see a band advertised as a power-pop group, I think that the band is incompetent and has little, if any creativity. Power-pop is, for many groups, a cuter punk. The chord progressions are lamer than I can imagine, and the vocals are whiney and boring. But for some reason, when a group is dubbed as a new power-pop sensation, they get cred. I think it's stupid.
So this weekly is stuff that I'm am listening to that is - thank God - not power-pop in any way. There is a difference between being influenced by old power-pop (Blondie, the Raspberries, the Modern Lovers) and just dubbing your band as such because you're not witty enough to compose a song with more than two chords.
Foreign Islands is cool, man! They're vicious and angular and jagged and brash and all shouting ... I like their raw energy quite a lot. They recently released an EP which features the songs Fine Dining With the Future and Ghost Story.
Between the Pine is pretty lo-fi, yeah, but the gasping vocals and 60s-psych-pop drumming and xylophone on one song and the ukulele strumming on another make the band far more eclectic and engaging than any power-pop groups from this year. They've just posted a three-song EP on their website (Please Sit Down, I'll Carry On My Father's Joke, and We Awoke), which I think is pretty interesting!
Young and Sexy is, yes, pretty low key and has plenty of pop elements incorporated into their songs, but they are by no means power-pop. The group writes these moody, swooning, guitar [and sometimes piano] atmospheric pseudo-shoe gaze pieces (that's a mouthful, ain't it?)
But I like the husky female vocals, and the piano, while sometimes overdone, does add a nice, serene aspect to their sound. Listen to Oh My Love and In This Atmosphere.
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