I know nothing about Guys beyond the fact that they are from Camden, U.K. and that their only song happens to be really interesting. Ladies (Step Aside) establishes its peculiar ora from the modulated vocal chant that starts the song. It is very reminiscent of Animal Collective’s more chaotic album cuts, but without the elegance. The synth part is in complete disarray, but wouldn’t feel out of place in a traditional electronic song. This compliments the slightly off key folky vocals in a manner which can only be described as unthinkably functional. In theory (and by extension in writing) this duality seems really unappealing, but it works. Despite the fact that the synthesizer is sonically as far from natural as a sound can get, Ladies has a very personal and human element that is often missing or intentionally avoided in electronic music. The production reminds me a lot of John Maus, but also feels much more inherently vulnerable. While not immediately palatable, something about this song is very addictive and unavoidably fascinating.
Very reminiscent of early Wavves, DREGS takes advantage lo fi to fashion a hazy and lulled atmosphere. I don’t know much about this group beyond that fact that they are teenagers from Los Angeles, but they have a lot going for them. Their demo, OOooOOoo, is slightly more melodic than songs by most bands who opt for clustered low fidelity recordings, which gives the track an almost entrancing feeling. Lyrically, the chorus is entirely summed up by the song’s title, but due to the aforementioned atmosphere, it seems totally appropriate. Unlike most lo fi, the vocals are very distinguished in the mix,. As lame and overused as this is, OOooOOoo is the kind of song that is suitable summer listening; but in terms of song writing, is about as gratifying as I’ve encountered in the past month.
The RISD campus has been producing interesting music for decades, and the likes of The Talking Heads, Les Savy Fav and Lightning Bolt were all formed by individuals attending the school. While stylistically these groups could not be more different, they all share an unorthodox approach to their genre of choice, which distinguished and aggrandized the music they all respectively created. Another group that may deserve to be on this list is the quartet, Kid Chocolate. Presumably named after the revered cuban featherweight, the name is almost unfitting because while sprightly, the group is at no point on their album Gold Star Winner aggressive. Their sound is almost like Abe Vigoda (circa Skeleton) on ritalin; still animated, but slightly sedated. Interestingly, the album’s highlight is the more mellow, “Better on the Coast.” The clav and bass led intro is immediately reminiscent of The Cure’s “Close To Me,” but that comparison doesn’t go beyond instrumentation. The song is a charming summer jam that is clearly influenced by everything 60’s girl groups to Modest Mouse. This cluster of inspirations is processed and delivered in a collected and tactful manner that is very fitting with the group’s design school roots.
Last month, we had the opportunity to interview Henry Allen and Preston Walker of the electronic outfit Virtual Boy before a show. While their music is outside of our usual demographic, their stylistic hybrid of classical melody and harmony in a chiptune bass heavy setting has found itself occupying a large spot in each of our respective libraries the past few months. We talked about everything from Coldplay to Back To The Future, and learned how a homework assignment turned into a touring band.
Virtual Boy interview with Preston Walker and Henry Allen.
Virtual Boy Audio Interview
Preston Walker: I’m Preston, and I’m from Virtual Boy.
Henry Allen: I’m Henry. I’m the other half.
Islander: How long has Virtual Boy been in existence?
Preston: We started this project about a couple years ago. We actually took a music technology class at the university we go to; Chapman University. We actually started it in class; we started writing songs together because our homework assignment was to do a song a week using electronic instruments and programs and stuff like Ableton and Logic. We ended up pairing up and by the end of the semester we had a unique sound. Our professor has a lot of connections with the industry, his name is Nalepa. He’s signed to 1320 Records and he really liked our sound so he sent our stuff to a bunch of labels and we ended up getting signed to 1320. The next we knew we were touring and playing shows. Continue reading