Cupid miss his mark last week? Fall in love all over again with The Japanese’s brand new EP, “Skyward.” The five-track alt-post-rock album, Kickstarted in part by listeners like you, will drizzle you in honey, fight off the resulting bees and bears, and won’t wait until next weekend before calling you again. It was even thoughtful enough to not make one pun about aural pleasure. In short, it is the perfect complement for your tortured soul. Start off your weekend with an earload!
Check out the new EP on bandcamp. Also don’t miss the Chase sequence music video, directed by Jack Pearce ’11.
The Japanese is Adrien DeFontaine ’13, Neo Sora ’14and Dan Moakley ’13.
Dear Wesleyan, I have a confession. I haven’t been as involved with the music scene as I would have liked. It’s not that I didn’t know about when concerts were happening – I lived across the street from Eclectic for two years – I just never got in the habit of incorporating “go to [insert band name here] concert” into my Friday and Saturday night schedules. But if there was ever an exception, and there is always an exception, it was for the soul-grabbing, dance-inducing, heart-pumping rhythms of The Rooks.
Seeing as my concert track record is so poor, it’s a miracle I went to a Rooks concert in the first place, but after I did, I never missed a performance. So imagine my sadness when, eventually, all the band members graduated, and The Rooks migrated elsewhere, performing their music in a place with far too long a commute for me to attend.
But then, a miracle! I was up at Middlebury, visiting my sister with my dad for her parent’s weekend. We were looking over the schedule of events for families, and I saw a concert listing for “The Rooks”. At first, I was incredulous. Could this be the Wesleyan Rooks? Was I just so desperate for their music that I was hallucinating phantom shows? Either way, I had to see for myself. My sister gave me directions to the Middlebury version of Usdan as she prepared for a party, and I made my way across campus, guided the final few meters by a musical sound that couldn’t be anything except what I wanted it to be.
That’s all, folks. Lioness, the band formerly known as Linus formerly known as Friendsome, has recorded and published its final song, placing the cap neatly on the group’s four year-long career here. Comprised of the killer team of Dema Paxton Fofang ’13, Jason Katzenstein ’13, Ethan Young ’13, Dylan Bostick ’13, Adrien Defontaine ’13, and John Snyder ’12, Lioness formed at an Open Mic in 2009, won the Battle of the Bands in 2010 and opened Spring Fling (for the yet-to-be-rivaled-and-probably-never-will-be lineup of Dirty Projectors, Black Lips, and Big Boi). And now they’re graduated. They sure do grow up fast, don’t they?
Lioness’ Bandcamp page is loaded with free-to-download single goodies, and probably boasts one of the more colorful collections of album artwork as well as music in the BandCampWes World. “Bullets” is no exception. Where their previous singles like “Hot Mess” pumped up the beach-punk vibe to the level of Surfer Blood, “Bullets” is a gorgeously crafted and easygoing tune reminiscent of Beach House. It’s pretty indicative of what the Ampersand once coined the “Post-Linus” music genre.
“I don’t think we would have the same chance in this city if we went to any other school or formed in any other way. It had to be Wesleyan.”
Forget MGMT. Amanda Who? Das What? Wesleyan’s biggest hype band is The Rooks, a six-piece R&B/indie-soul band made up of a group of friends and members of the Classes of 2011 and 2012. The majority of them have settled in New York City after graduating, and since then, the band has released a handful of singles and now – finally – their debut studio EP, Something You Can Take. The album, now on Bandcamp for your free download enjoyment, is a must-hear for anyone who has a taste for classic rhythm and blues, hip-hop, indie rock, or really has ears at all. And, if you’re in the NYC area this Friday, June 21, The Rooks will be playing Fat Baby at 10 PM, so you can experience them live.
I had the opportunity to sit down for a Google Hangout with The Rooks frontman/lead singer Garth Taylor ’12 and drummer Nate Mondschein ’12 to talk about their new album, the forming of the band, the support of the Wesleyan community, and the difficulties of labeling a music style.
“Who is Robert Don ’15?” would be a question asked by somebody who hasn’t been at Wesleyan for more than a minute. Depending on which show you’ve showed up to, he’s either the frontman of solo project vehicle Robert’s Don or the St. Louis-based Since 1902. If you’re confused about the difference between Robert Don singular and Robert’s Don possessive, you’re not alone— even Don acknowledges it’s “an awful band name, trust me, we know.”
But ignore all of that. Don’s latest EP, Liriope, is the reason why you shouldn’t throw up your hands in exasperation. In fact, the four songs and ~20 minutes of music here are the perfect beginning to summer, reminding you that, even after school ends, you will never escape the Wesleyan music scene. Half-recorded in Don’s now-famous room in the Butts, and half-recorded at his home in St. Louis (with production by Since 1902’s Justin Enoch), Liriope expands on some of the excellent anti-folk he experimented with on his debut Honestly Honestyand adds a little blues-rock into the mix.
“Inspired by mutual love of auto castration and top 40 hits.”
I really like this album. Not just sorta like it, but I really like it. The band is House Party, the album is called “No Forever/I’m Ready, Darling,” and it was made by Razor Edwards ’10 (of Precision Libido fame),Jeff Rovinelli ’10 (of The Noms fame), and current Brown University student Tim Rovinelli (Brown ’13). It was recorded over a year, includes samples from Christina Perri, and most of it was recorded with a homemade gaggle of electronics, which, by the sound of most of the album, I’m going to go ahead and assume must’ve looked similar to Satan’s genitalia.
The music itself has, at times, a chilled out almost shoegaze-y feel (see “3pm (puma automatic)”), but this facade slowly gets peeled away during the track “love you (christina perri).” After a somewhat benign intro, the album seems to become a small exercise in audio engineering and distorted pop. This is all well and good, but it is during the third track when it becomes evident here that chaos reins supreme.
It would be wrong of me to say that O Presidente plays music from another time. That’s simply missing the point. While the band, comprised of Andrew Zingg ’13, Nathaniel Draper ’12, Tobias Butler ’13, and Thomas Yopes (UC Berkeley ’13), writes music with very particular and sometimes peculiar influences, they’re not really reaching back into the past to steal sounds. Rather, their debut album Clube De Futebol collapses the past 60 years of music history into 10 succinct songs and adds their own, very 21st century sense of humor right on top.
A quick taste of that humor: According to lead singer Zingg, the band formed around a failed student group that he and guitarist Draper attempted to start during his freshman year. Clube de Futebol, originally, was the proposal for “this club that would get SBC funds to pay for a TV and the Fox Soccer channel so we could get together with our friends and watch soccer. The Portuguese spelling was an homage to Brazil’s beautiful way of playing the game. Needless to say, SBC never agreed to give us any money. But the name stuck.” The band name, O Presidente, was a product of the same failed Clube—it was Draper’s official title, in Portuguese of course.
That’s not the last bit of Brazillian influence you’ll hear on this record. On the 50s throwback “Take My Baby,” the group sings its final verse in—you guessed it—Portuguese. You’ve got to give these guys credit for continuity. That song is notable for its American inspiration as well. Beginning with a classic slide into an upbeat surf-guitar riff, “Take My Baby” is a concise tune with easy-to-place roots.
While you were busy watching all of Homeland over break, Robert Don ’15 and his St. Louis-based band Since 1902 released a new album, Slightly Elevated. In the days of yore—colloquially known as last semester—Wesleying featured their single, “Our Front Yard,” and now we’re back for seconds. The album marks a shift in the band’s sound and production quality. Some of you may be familiar with the band’s last full-length album, No Excuses Wednesdays (and if you’re not, you can—well, really should—listen and download here). While No Excuses has a more rock-inspired sound and features more of Don’s throaty National-esque vocals, Slightly Elevated is a foray into a poppier sound and highlights the vocals of bandmate Justin Enoch more (have no fear: you can still hear Don playing the guitar, bass, drums, banjo, mandolin, and doing a little singing). The production quality is also much higher than the band’s first releases and demonstrates their growth and finesse.
As the band describes the album on BandCamp,
Commemoratively titled, Slightly Elevated attempts to recreate the essence of Fancy Dress Day. The moment, as fleeting as it may have been, is crystalized forever through these 14 sumptuous tracks.
BJ Lillis ’12says this is his break-up album. The break-up is between him and Wesleyan.
Fans of the Argus’ tragically defunct comics section (guys, remember “Feet People”?) and surreal Brian Wilson-obsessed psych-pop alike should be thrilled to learn that Orkinpods, the formerly anonymous bedroom pop project of comics editor emeritus B. J. Lillis ’12, has a new album online for the new year. It’s called The Loudest Sound, and it’s also Orkinpod’s finest, most confident work yet, which is definitely saying something, considering I loved 2011’s Boardwalking, Katy Perry cover and all. While Lillis’s previous work channeled the damaged surrealism of Smiley Smile-era Beach Boys, this one reminds me more of Sunflower or Surf’s Up. Gone are the synths and drum samples from the last record; in their place, Lillis employs rich arrangements involving upright piano, violins, ukelele, “harmonicas; audion electric chord organ; pots, pans, glasses; packing-tape drums; jar-of-pennies; laundry basket; maracas and shakers; backgammon pieces; pencils; [and] effects.” The songs are also longer and more fully fledged.
From the first notes of “The Scientists Say,” The Loudest Sound is lush, richly arranged pop music, with some of Lillis’s most gorgeous harmonies and intimate lyrics yet. Listen to it alone and try not to cry. Seriously, listen to the opening track:
My other favorite is probably “What We Bury At Night,” which finds Lillis crooning in a lower register over an almost a cappella backdrop of swirling harmonies, maracas, steel guitar whines, and god knows what else.
Ahoy! It’s been a good while since we’ve last heard of the long lost band The Rooks since they left Wes to the real world AKA “beyond the outer-rim,” but dry your eyes, don’t you cry, I come bearing good news and sugar treats! Above is a brand new video the Rooks released on New Years to reflect on 2012. It’s a Stevie Wonder medley the band performed at their live show in the ’92 in April, and it features the Mad Wow horn section and guests vocalists Claire Randall and Bridget Read.
The Rooks’ own Garth Taylor ’12, who says the Rooks will be releasing more material from that show in the coming months, comes bearing word:
We’ve performed pretty steadily in New York since we left M-town in May. We opened up for Talib Kweli at the Highline Ballroom in September, which was a total blast, and performed at the Bitter End and other NY hot spots. Gabe Gordon ’11 (keys) and I actually took a day trip today to perform an acoustic-y set at Midnight on Main, and took a little stroll around College Row. Our last live full band show was in October—we took three months off to prepare new material for an EP we’re going to be recording in January.