Where did this spryness come from? As it is with all the pioneers of the Dunedin scene, you expect them to mellow out once they reach a certain age. But the Chills return in full form after close to 20 years with a propulsive confidence that gives an eye wink to their reverb-soaked contemporaries. Not that it’s a complete surprise—Martin Phillips has always had it in him to remold the Chills, and after sprinkling a few tracks here and there in the past few years it seems he’s finally concocted a formula that works. It’s a succinct rock song that curiously reminded of a less bombastic British Sea Power, which isn’t a bad thing, really. It’s also idiosyncratic enough to distinguish it as a Chills track, and that’s reason enough to believe that “America Says Hello” is a welcome return to the full-length album format.—JUAN EDGARDO RODRIGUEZ (8/10)
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Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennan, also known as Dead Rock West, recently put out the album It’s Everly Time!, a 13-song tribute to the Everly Brothers. Featuring an array of standards and underrated tracks, their latest single is their cover of the 1965 song “The Price of Love, which has been re-recorded live for their new video for the track.
The band might be led by its namesake, Brooklyn musician Chuck Stern, but anyone familiar with the underground/experimental/heavy music coming from the borough will see Stern as a supergroup. Partnering with Keith Abrams of Kayo Dot, Toby Driver of Kayo Dot and Vaura, and kayo Dot/Candiria collaborator Tim Byrnes, Stern has created a surreal hybrid of gothic rock, DC post-hardcore, progressive rock, and post-metal, with a strong Faith No More influence tossed in, and the end result is the extraordinary new album Bone Turquoise. If you want a good indication of how surreal and enthralling it is, you can’t do much better than “Your Level Best”, a weirdly gloomy track that slogs along like a dirge sung by a lunatic. Trust us on that one.
José González is an indie singer-songwriter from Sweden and, with the release of his first proper album Veneer in 2003, he found a lot of fans, particularly as his songs “Crosses” and his cover of the Knife’s “Heartbeat” got a lot of buzz. The album was successful enough that he ended up not following through with his pursuit of a PhD and he has continued to work on a variety of musical projects since then, most recently another solo release, 2015’s Vestiges & Claws. I’ve followed his musical career since that album and, having seen him perform a couple of times in the past year, was looking forward to his Newport set.
Unfortunately, his Harbor stage slot on Saturday July 25th conflicted with Sufjan Stevens on the Fort stage so I knew I couldn’t see it all of González’s performance. But I did get over in time to watch him perform “Line of Fire”, a song he did with Junip, and one of Vestiges’ singles, “Open Book”. The next day, it turned out he was to do a surprise set at a corporate sponsored stage but I arrived there to find a large crowd already spilling out of a small room. I could neither see him nor hear his delicate music very well in part due to louder music from the Quad Stage. The two Newport sets were more intimate than the two recent performances I saw of his in New York, so it would have been a treat to see them entirely. But fortunately, I had spotted González lingering back stage (and talking with Jon Batiste at one point) and had arranged to speak with him about his various musical interests, projects and his birthday show last year.