Last week I posted twelve of my recent favourite tracks, seven of which were by Californians, earning the mixtape the name California Sunrise. It varied from electropop to reggae and soca-infused funk and there’s an equal variety to be found in part 2 of the Summer mixtape series. If part 1 was the build-up, then part 2 is the break-down. I’ve tried to stack this mix with a few more mellow jams on the back-end, to pair with those inevitable late-July lamentations of the “summer’s half over already!” variety. Youth Lagoon is a fantastic band name and a fictitious place that I’d like to go to one day. If I did, here’s what I imagine it would sound like:
Download | Youth Lagoon Mixtape
I don’t think I know how to make a mix without a good Hood Internet mash-up. Here the duo take Cut Copy’s ‘Need You Now’ from their fantastic new album Zonoscope and mix it with R&B crooner Trey Songz’ immortal ‘You Gon Think I Invented Sex’. I watched an interview where Songz decoded his metaphorical lyrics for the audience, explaining that “the song is about how I lay pipe so good that you gon think I invented sex, even though I didn’t, feel me?” Yes Trey, we feel you. Particularly when the vocals from your track with Canadian-pride Drake are over-top of this brilliantly chopped up Cut Copy beat.
Of the large crop of chillwave acts to rise to popularity over the past few years, Ernest Greene’s Washed Out, showed the most promise and lived-up most aptly to the hype. Pitchfork’s review of his first full-length album released earlier this month, after a slew of fantastic EPs released between 2009 and 2010, pointed towards an interesting trend in the life-cycle of Greene’s fellow chillwavers. Artists like Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi have all somewhat pandered to harsh critics and their expectations of growth and evolution in sound, so opting for live instruments, and less accessible arrangements in their more recent releases, the review pointed out. Washed Out, by comparison, has stayed true to the chillwave formula, continuing to build songs around simple melodic lines, looping and a heavy use of synths, showing that evolution within genre is in fact possible, even for chillwave. None of the album’s songs are as immediately catchy as ‘Feel It All Around’ or ‘New Theory’, but they all effectively capture a mood and feeling that only chill-bros know how to create.
Clock Opera’s remix of ‘Tell Me’ is not a re-mix so much as a complete re-imagination of Au Revoir Simone’s 2009 single. Musically, nothing is borrowed from the original, with Clock Opera centering their rendition around an original piano loop (which will be the thing you remember most about this song) and a pulsing kick drum, both building to a racing-pace as synths and a 707 drum take over on the hook. A far cry from the source material’s primarily instrumental and gentle build which notably degenerates into an Arcade Fire-like break down, Clock Opera’s remix is what all remixes should be.
The first two-thirds of Teen Daze’s ‘Saviour’ are the kind of chillwave we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from bands like Washed Out and Neon Indian: intentionally lazy synth-pop with a nostalgic quality. The breakdown in the last minute and fifteen of the track however, is what takes this song far beyond the realm of chillwave into some kind of dream dance party universe. As synths and kick drums pound, the laziness is gone, and I can only think that this is an exciting step for the evolution of a young genre, that many are predicting will fade-out as quickly as it became en vogue.
Givers make great pop music. The childhood friends from Lafayette, Louisiana, had never played together, despite all being active musicians, until they were asked to fill a vacant opening spot, completely impromptu, on the evening of a mutual friend’s gig. Whatever they came up with that night was at least enough for the pack to decide it was worth revisiting in a less pressured situation. And they did to great success, earning ‘band to watch’ accolades and a tour with the Dirty Projectors. Their debut album In Light came out in June, but until you get your hands on it, their light-hearted self-titled EP should be good company if you’re in the mood for a smile and dance.
I’m not particularly well-versed in Spanish-indie, but from what I’ve heard from friends and read online, El Guincho is a rarity. Fusing together elements of Catalan-music, indie-pop, his albums Alegranza and Pop Negro are like a Panda Bear and Delorean mash-up with Spanish lyrics. As frenetic as that might sound, they’re actually quite a pleasant listen. Take ‘Bombay’ for example: steel drums, hand claps, a background xylophone and breezy synths create the self-described ‘space age exotica’ sound that only El Guincho strives for, and only El Guincho achieves.
I haven’t been a big fan of anything Shins frontman, James Mercer, has does done since The Shins hiatus began in 2008 after the release of Wincing the Night Away. I suppose ‘Higher Road’ off the Danger Mouse collaboration album Broken Bells was decent, but I’m anxious for Mercer to get back to The Shins – which may not be soon given news that he and Danger Mouse have plans for a second album soon. In the meantime, their cover of ‘Goodbye Girl’ by Squeeze for a special campaign meant to make you feel fondly about Levi’s jeans may be all we have from the group for the time-being.
So to be honest, I don’t really get why these guys have been given a free pass into the indie hall of fame. I mean, I know ‘Young Folks’ was a classic song, but that was about 5 years ago. I’ve picked up all their albums since hoping to hear just one more song by the trio with the same pop sensibilities, and until ‘Breaker, Breaker’ haven’t heard anything close. The Ramones’ referencing track is a short-burst of punk aggression from the Swedes, clocking-in at just a minute and a half. Peter Morén’s angsty, post-break-up lyrics tease the notion of pre-emptive self-defense, “before you break my heart, I’m gonna break your arm,” the kind of lyrics that even Tyler, the Creator could get down with.
There’s an intentional quality to Generationals’ music which is reminiscent of ’50s and ’60s pop. I’ll admit that I never really got into doo-wop in a big way, but this is the kind of record that still has me feeling like going to the shake shack for a burger and juke-box driven twist, before hitting the sock-hop with the gal I gave my pin to last week.
No conversation about Tennis goes without reference to their aw-shux origin story. Husband and wife pair Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley saved-up for a few years, before setting sail on a year-long journey down the Atlantic Coast, with just each other and their beloved boat. While at sea, they wrote all the songs on their debut album, no doubt using every ounce of romantic glory the adventure offered as inspiration. I have it on good word that they’re just as cute live. ‘Waterbirds’ is an example of the kind of ’50s referencing lo-fi pop they make. It’ll almost feel like your throwing on an old scratched-up record from your grandparents’ collection. More gems can be found on their album Cape Dory.
There are few songs that so instantly evoke a yearning for something completely unknown. US Royalty’s ‘Vacation, Vacation’ is riddled with a nostalgic quality. The Americana rock group from Washington D.C., have made a name for themselves over the past couple years with their EP Midsommar and now their full-length debut from which I plucked this track. The song’s lyrics are in three parts. One part is about a couple whose relationship is in need of the kind of repair that not even a vacation can help. The second part is more abstract, as lead singer John Thornley fantasizes about a would-be vacation spent amongst canyons and stars, suggesting that their problems are comparatively minimal. The third part shows him ready to resolve their issues through the repeated chant ‘we’re just cruel kids, livin’ like the good times never end, let’s just move-on…’. I suppose arguments can be so simple. Next time you’re arguing with that someone in your life, think of this song, marginalize the fight by comparing to a natural phenomenon, and move-on.
Boisie native Trevor Powers is Youth Lagoon. Not much else was known about this newcomer to lo-fi pop until he it was announced that he’d been signed to Fat Possum, a huge deal that will have him hobknobbing with the likes of The Black Keys, Wavves, Dinosaur Jr., and Yuck at label parties over the next few months. He’s only got a couple of his bedroom-recorded tracks on the web right now but they’re all getting a fair bit of online buzz. ‘July’ the song, much like July the month is as much about its peaks as it is its valleys. The song has a beautifully-paced build – you might even find yourself turning up the volume dial to harmful levels during its faint first 30 seconds. The tone of an electric organ fills out the background of the track, providing a constant sense of warmth as instruments are slowly piled on top. In time a piano, cymbal, tambourine and layered electric guitars join Powers’ voice as his anthemic chant, “aahhh ahhh ooo ahhh ahhh” builds to a precipice. And then, in a quick 15 seconds, the whole thing fades, leaving you to wonder whether it actually all happened or not. That’s July.
Download | Youth Lagoon Mixtape