Pop music has been tending towards a breathy, bassy ambiance ever since SFX Entertainment’s stranglehold on the radio abruptly slackened a couple years ago, and EXES has come onto the scene to wrest her share of the pie from the powers that be. “Like You” is what some cantankerous music writers might snarkily dub a “millennial anthem”, detached affection playing out over aqueous vocal sampling snares that hang in the air for ages. It’s passionate in the downcast way of Tove Lo or Kai, an anthem to youth in the frosty way youth are meant to identify with. Hollow, chilly, and full of love, “Like You” fits the pop landscape of 2016 to a T.
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“Blues Jumped the Rabbit” is blues in its most collaborative mode, a song built directly off the work of those who came for. The lyrics and composition trace back at least to the 1920s, the song has been recorded more than a few times in its past, and — most importantly for this particular iteration — James Williamson’s legendary guitar is augmented by the multi-instrumental lushness of Petra Haden. It’s a gloomy, slow song, but it’s one full of instrumental light, borne aloft by crystalline piano and echoing guitar. In other words, it captures the many facets of blues well.
Trapdoor Social’s indie rock is the pop-sensitive kind, music which embraces prospective mainstream appeal instead of giving it an elitist cold shoulder. “Sunshine” is all monster hooks and full-blown chorus, snarled guitars warping anthemic vocal harmonies. Stylistically, it’s pretty close to the Arctic Monkeys, but Trapdoor Social have dropped a little bit of the band’s sneering edge in favor of a more sun-baked garage rocker a la the Raconteurs. Rock-wise, it ticks all the conventionally-used boxes which keep the genre pumping, and pop-wise, it taps the production and memorability necessary to embed itself in the style’s good books.
Boogarins’ “Cuerdo” opens with a strikingly gruesome shot: a dead cow lying on its side in a grassy field, a gigantic gash in its side. It’s an appropriate image for the song, a maelstrom of decay and entropy. Guitars detune as the song progresses, weather-beaten toms rattle along sadly, and the vocals are not so much featured as entombed in the song. It’s a dark video fitting an explosive but bleak tune — and, in the bleakness of both video and audio, we see the seeds of life begun anew.
The cover of Phantom of Liberty features a close-up grimace, lips burst back as though they’re in a wind tunnel. And, really, that’s a fitting summary of the album as a whole — Camera has come through with eight tracks of frenetic Krautrock, reckless and relentless the whole way through. At times it’s mellow, and at times it’s blisteringly fast, but throughout the entire thing the distortion and thudding low drums never let up. It’s a trip for sure, and you may exit in an entirely different state than you started.
// Notes from the Road
"McCartney welcomed Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt out for a song at Madison Square Garden.READ the article