-->
Music

Watching for Foxes - 'Undone Bird' (album stream) (premiere)

Among the slew of rising Michigan artists in the music industry, Grand Rapids' Watching for Foxes are the ones with the most to prove.

Among the slew of rising Michigan artists in the music industry, Grand Rapids’ Watching for Foxes are the ones with the most to prove. Reworking their process as a band from the bottom-up over the past year, the seven-piece folk outlet revitalized and refreshed their music into a brand that they’ve called “flannel rock”, pulling from influences such as Arcade Fire, Father John Misty, and Mumford & Sons to craft an amalgam experience not quite exactly like either of the aforementioned.

They have met their respective local music scene with a verve that had not previously been detectable since this latest realization, which has naturally brought a lot of interest to their upcoming album, Undone Bird, due out June 10. The band is premiering Undone Bird ahead of its release exclusively to PopMatters.

About the album, frontman Joey Frendo says, "This project was really a labor of love for us. We spent a ton of time crafting this album, from track sequencing and album art, to rehashing old songs and creating new ones, and we hope that hard work and attention to detail really shines through. The band has a belief about how albums should be a sonic experience on their own, a cohesive piece of arts that impacts the listener.”

“Ben Zito, our engineer and producer for this album, really helped us drill down on what we wanted to highlight and how we would make this album unique. He did a fantastic job, and we really feel like the album has a moment-in-time feel. The album itself is polished enough but has a lot of takes that were live because we loved how raw it sounded. A lot of the first albums from bands we love have that feel, that aesthetic. You can tell that they poured everything into those albums and they recorded it in a way that toed this beautiful line between control and chaos, allowing them to capture not only a story within the songs, but an additional story behind the actual making of the album. That's what we had in mind when creating Undone Bird.

“On the content of the album, it's a concept album that follows a really formative and somewhat tumultuous time in my personal life. This album is about transition, a lot of proverbial death and rebirth between the various cycles that my life was going though. A couple handful of albums really pushed me to write something undeniably personal, something that was so much about my own struggles, albums including Carry the Ghost by Noah Gundersen, Southeastern by Jason Isbell, HEAL by Strand of Oaks, I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty, and I Forget Where We Were by Ben Howard. Not only do these albums have things sonically that draw you in, they have honest, emotional storytelling that is hyper-personal; we aimed to achieve the same with Undone Bird.

“Music and literature have really given me an outlet and an escape, especially during the particular time Undone Bird was being written, and I really used those albums as crutches through my own difficult time, and I hope that people can hear where we draw from those records. In that same way, my hope is that my stories and the stories the band as a whole is able to create through these songs can resonate with others and help in some way, shape, or form.”

Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

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
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less
TV

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' S9 Couldn't Find Its Rhythm

Larry David and J.B. Smoove in Curb Your Enthusiasm S9 (HBO)

Curb Your Enthusiasm's well-established characters are reacting to their former selves, rather than inhabiting or reinventing themselves. Thus, it loses the rhythms and inflections that once made the show so consistently, diabolically funny.

In an era of reboots and revivals, we've invented a new form of entertainment: speculation. It sometimes seems as if we enjoy begging for television shows to return more than watching them when they're on the air. And why wouldn't we? We can't be disappointed by our own imaginations. Only the realities of art and commerce get in the way.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Wars of attrition are a matter of stamina, of who has the most tools with which to keep fighting. A surprising common tool in this collection? Humor.

The name of the game is "normal or abnormal". Here's how you play: When some exceedingly shocking political news pops up on your radar, turn to the person next to you, read them the headline and ask, "is this normal or abnormal?" If you want to up the stakes, drink a shot every time the answer is abnormal. If that's too many shots, alter the rules so that you drink only when things are normal—which is basically never, these days. Hilarious, right?

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