Australian psychedelic rockers Tame Impala released their third album, Currents, nearly a year ago, and the album marked an evolution in their sound. Much more synth-based than its predecessors, the album met with critical acclaim and increased the band’s popularity. This could be seen in the DC area simply by the shift upward in venues – when the band last came to the city, a month before the album’s release, they headlined the Echostage. This time, on their return, they took over Merriweather Post Pavilion for a rainy Thursday evening show, their biggest headlining gig in the area so far. Even the threat of severe thunderstorms couldn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd.
This week on the podcast, we’re talking BIG releases from two of the biggest indie bands around.
First up: Wilco got their start out of the ashes of alt-country legends Uncle Tupelo, and while their sound might not have fallen far from the tree at the beginning, over their twenty-plus year career they’ve consistently reshaped their sound, lineup, and even the musical landscape around them to become known as one of the most adventerous bands in rock history. For their latest “trick” the band released Star Wars, their ninth album proper, unannounced and for free last week on their website. Kevin, Patrick and Carrie dig into the history of the band, why this album matters, and most importantly: is it any good?
Next: Kevin Parker and his band Tame Impala are your guides through a headtrip worthy of the roller-rink most hip, but is their new album Currents a sonic step forward for the band, or a cold, harsh reminder of how cruel a Bee Gee’s B-Side could really be? We buy the ticket and take the ride to get to the bottom of this critically acclaimed sonic adventure.
PLUS! You want a hot new track from North Carolina’s See Gulls? We got you covered! Deep thoughts on the sad double standards of entertainment journalism? CHECK! It’s a smack-talking, mega-fanboying, super-catified hour of fun, and it’s all for you on Episode 136 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
One of the great ironies of psychedelia, especially modern psychedelia, is that despite all the implications of mind expansion and far-out-ed-ness, the tropes of the genre are actually fairly limited. Take some wavy vocals, a fuck-ton of fuzz, and a hefty “dose” of delay and you’ve got an instant dorm room classic. That formula usually works best when it’s plugged into a more rigid structure, like that of a pop song, forcing its flights of fancy to remain tethered to some more focused center. But more often than not, the formula doesn’t work, and the resultant music can tend to come across as not just boring and meandering, but amateurish.
Pond’s latest, Hobo Rocket, finds itself floating amongst the space whales somewhere between those two extremes, a position which is not only disappointing but fairly surprising. On last year’s Beard, Wives, Denim, the Aussie collective (which features several members of Tame Impala) managed to reign in some of the more experimental facets of their previous efforts and came away with a solid gem of a pop record. Make no mistake: These tracks were still as sticky with resin as anything Pond had ever done. But the freakouts weren’t just tasteful; they served as a satisfying seasoning to the songs…which is precisely where Hobo Rocket loses its way.
Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala made a stop by the 9:30 Club last Wednesday, and while they may have had their controls set for the heart of the sun, where they ended up may have been slightly less cosmic. That’s not to say the assembled touring lineup – Tame Impala is largely a one-man studio effort by Parker – didn’t deliver an, at times, hallucinatory and brain melting performance. Layer upon layer of Parker’s modern take on psychedelia were dished out to a blazingly receptive audience who were all more than willing to ride the wave where ever it took them – unfortunately, for the majority of the set that was exactly the same place.
With only a brief detour into 2010’s Innerspeaker, Parker and crew leaned heavily into material off last year’s critically lauded Lonerism, an album that is as divisive in its praise as it is ultimately enjoyable in its technical perfection. That perfection spilled out onto the stage in tracks like opener “Apocalypse Dreams,” “Endors Toi” and “Music To Walk Home By,” but it wasn’t until weighty riffs of “Elephant” and the resulting instrumental exploration that the band seemed to fully engage with the audience, or even acknowledge that they were playing in front of a sold out crowd. Of course that crowd didn’t mind in the least – Tame Impala are the torch bearers du jour for lovers of early Floyd and an assortment of mid- to late-70’s prog rockers.
First Aid Kit – The Lion's Roar
The Soderberg sisters have grown up in a hurry and keep getting better. This alternately beautiful and haunting album doesn’t have a weak spot on it, and a guest appearance by the Felice Brothers (among many others) makes for a fun ending.
Dent May - Do Things
The album we all wish the Beach Boys had released this year, Do Things was the best album of the summer and, it turns out, one of the most fun records of the year.
In this, the headiest podcast yet, the gang tells all about the month that almost killed them, fogs up the van and travels back in time, because why the hell not? PLUS!!! New music from Australia's Tame Impala, Sweden's The Amazing, and finally (!!!) Florida's Roadkill Ghost Choir!!!
Episode 16: Rocktober And Everything After"
Hopefully you’ve been reading our (almost) year-by-year trip through musical history here at ChunkyGlasses. A project like that compels you to dig through old reviews and articles, and a recurring story is one of bands trying to capture some sort of “late 60s/early 70s sound,” if such a thing exists. Frequently the sound is referred to as modernized psychedelia, and through the years Echo and the Bunnymen, Jellyfish, The Apples in Stereo, and anyone in the Madchester or Paisley Underground scenes were cited (or accused) of borrowing liberally from or even flat-out ripping off the Beatles, Pink Floyd, or King Crimson.
In every case those influences are present but don’t tell the whole story. So it is with Perth, Australia’s Tame Impala – no question you can hear the influences, but they are just that; influences. This is a band with its own flavor and identity, and their sophomore record, Lonerism, is a fantastic example of how those influences, properly channeled, can lead to something completely new.
If rock and roll is a young man’s game then these kids could very well be kings. Looking like they just stepped off the bus (high school bus that is) both bands brought their brand of revisionist rock to the welcoming arms of a sold out crowd Friday night.
First up was Yuck. If you aren’t familiar with the band, take a little Sonic Youth and mix it with some Smashing Pumpkins and some Pavement. Then throw in a little Jesus and Mary Chain and any other early to mid 90’s band that you can think of. Put it in a blender, press chop, and basically you’ve got Yuck...