Music

The Safes - 'Tasty Waves' (album stream) (premiere)

Tasty Waves reveals the most infectious corners of The Safes' muscular pop.

Chicagoland’s the Safes have been delivering hook-laden anthems since 2003 with brothers Frankie and Patrick O’ Malley’s uncanny pop and pub sensibilities leading the charge. The latest offering, Tasty Waves, treats listeners to 10 tracks channeling Big Star, Guided By Voices and Rockpile. “Mediocre Jokers” and “Nobody Cares Anymore” recall the amphetamine-addled Beatles in their Hamburg days, but filtered through the future tense of New Wave, LSD and the oncoming train of postmodern irony.

Is rock ‘n’ roll noble or savage? Listening to “Mind of Its Own”, in tune with the genre’s early brash audacity and “I Wish I Could Help You”, a collision of the primitive and the sophisticated, the answers don’t come easy. One soon suspects the O’Malleys wouldn’t have it any other way.

The run-and-gun/give-and-go attitude of the Safes’ live shows prevails. The group, after all, converts newcomers with equal measures gentle persuasion and force.

According to Patrick O’ Malley, it was Frankie’s unstoppable creativity that urged the new record into being. “We had another full album recorded, mixed, done. We had art work, videos, everything," he recalls. “But Frankie, who literally has hundreds of songs demoed at all times, had nine more. I kept going back and listening to these nine in particular. There was something about them. They were funny, weird, and sounded like an album to me.” The trouble was, the Safes carried a rule that dictated any full-length had to be comprised of 10, not nine, songs. “Frankie had the lyrics to ‘Streets and Sanitation’ but nothing else," Patrick O’ Malley recalls. “So I took the lyrics and finished the song. That capped off an unintentional album, and we went back to the studio to make the real thing.”

His brother’s seemingly unfiltered creativity, he adds, is one of the group’s greatest attributes. “When Frankie makes his demos he doesn't have time for things like tuning, click tracks, good takes," he says. “But I can always hear the potential in his demos and knew these nine songs were special.”

Frankie is particularly appreciative of his sibling’s editorial abilities. I'm really lucky to have Patrick helping me make these records," he notes. “Without him, they’d end up sounding like your favorite songs playing in between two AM radio stations where you just can't get dialed in no matter what you do.”

Rounded out by drummer Dex Fontaine and bassist Curt Schmelz, the Safes release Tasty Waves tomorrow, 8 September. The album may be ordered here and streamed below.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image