Monday, October 4, 2010

New Music Monday

"New Music Mondays" is a fresh segment here at The Steam Engine. The Steam Engine's first contributor, Chris H., is a self proclaimed "terrible adult" with a mean ear for good tunes. He does occasional writings about tunes/life HERE and HERE and really likes Red Stripe beer. Much of the new music I've gotten into in the past few months is because of Chris. Enjoy what he has to say, he deserves to be heard.


Well, here we are . . . Monday.  Another week is beginning and you're probably not completely recovered from the weekend (well, I'm not and I guess I'm just assuming everyone is like me.  why not, I'm the coolest person I know.).  That's ok.  Just because it's Monday and you're half asleep, generating TPS reports or whatever you do, doesn't mean someones not looking out for your musical well being.  After all, that's what TSE is for, right?

Well, all that being said, the powers that be here at TSE saw fit to promote me.  I have gone from quasi-stalker music snob to potential contributor here and this is basically a test to see if I can offend as few people as possible.  Although I usually like to start out my week with an off color comment about someones kid or that Bieber girl, I will refrain in the spirit of exposing the readers here to some amazing, lesser known musicians (as opposed to exposing myself).  So, let's get to it, shall we?

This was a difficult thing for me to do, since I'm constantly hearing new things and telling people that that they may like this stuff.  In an effort to keep this fairly short, I narrowed it down to two bands that I've been listening to recently: The Interns and The War on Drugs.

I first heard The Interns on some random "mix tape" that float around the internet.  "Smother," was the song and I immediately stopped to listen.  The reason I stopped to listen was because the singer reminded me of the falsetto we hear from Jim James or Ben Bridwell.  That, in and of itself is a monstrous comparison in my book, so of course I had to find out more about this band.  I did some research, and by research I googled the band and the song.  I didn't find out much at all.  They have a MySpace page that lists the band members, their influences and an embedded music player that allows you to listen to their music.  I noticed that they are unsigned and completely independent, but then I noticed a blog entry titled, "RECORD DONE!!!!!!!!!! DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!!!!"  "Jackpot," I said to myself (I really said it  . . . out loud).  So, I gave a few of their other songs a listen and decided that I had to hear more.  I downloaded the FREE album and was immediately impressed.  The album opens with what would turn out to be one of my favorite songs on the album, "The Demons Inside."  The song begins with echoed vocals reminiscent of Interpol's Paul Banks and then it takes a sharp left into a song that rocked right along like something you would hear from My Morning Jacket (think "It Beats for You").  I was immediately excited.  The song, and, thankfully, the rest of the album, continued down this path and didn't disappoint one bit.  The highlight of the album, for me, is a song called "Man on Fire."  It's a broad song that reminds me of Neil Young circa "Mirrorball" or some of Band of Horses more moderately paced songs or even some of the more spaced out stuff that Spacemen 3 have done (think "Transparent Radiation").  Needless to say, you owe it to yourself, as a fan of music, to go straight over to their Bandcamp site and download their FREE album.

NPR is one of the only things I will actually listen to on the radio.  The rest of it is complete rubbish, as far as I'm concerned.  I'm not going to get into my growing disdain for radio because it's a subject all by itself.  Instead, I'm going to tell you about another band.  The reason I even mentioned NPR is because that's where I first heard The War on Drugs.

NPR described them using the labels, "folk" and "Americana."  They were compared to Bob Dylan and Brian Eno and I could hear a slight similarity to them both.  The comparison that seems most fitting to me is the comparison NPR made to Tom Petty.  You can hear the same kind of road trip-worthy, rocking songs from The War on Drugs as you can on the Greatest Hits album from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Everyone has the Greatest Hits album.  You have to because it has our favorite songs by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  "American Girl" is on the album.  "Learning to Fly" is on the album.  "Learning to Fly, ""Mary Jane's Last Dance" . . . you know the album.  If you like the sound that you get from that album, then you're going to like The War on Drugs.  They have a folksy, Midwestern sounds that begs to be played in some movie montage where the protagonists are driving across the country in an old convertible.  It just fits perfectly and, in so many ways, is a perfect send off for summer.

"Wagonwheel Blues" came out in 2008 and that's the album that NPR was reviewing when I first heard them.  To me, "Wagonwheel Blues" has a serious Wilco feel to it and, being a huge Wilco fan, I love the album.  A few weeks ago, The War on Drugs, via their blog, announced that they'd finished their latest ep/mini album called "Future Weather."  The album will be released October 25 on the always reliable Secretly Canadian label.  The first song I've heard from "Future Weather" is called "Comin' Through."  It's a perfect example of the sunny, road trip sound that makes The War on Drugs such a good band.  It also happens to be a song that sounds like it could have been found on an old Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album.

Like The Interns, The War on Drugs is a band that you probably won't be hearing on the radio, terrestrial or otherwise, anytime soon, but that shouldn't stop you from supporting these bands.  Unlike what's considered "popular" these days, you won't hear any sampling or any auto-tune from either of these artists.  What you will hear is simply crafted music that's made by musicians that obviously love what they're doing.  Their love for music shows in each and every song you'll hear by both bands.

So, this will end our lesson for today, boys and girls.  Hopefully, you'll be hearing more from me very soon.  If you're interested in all the other dribble I have out in the world, you can find me HERE or HERE.  You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter.  Until then, feel free to comment below or send me music that you've heard recently.  Feel free to email me HERE. You can tell me about music or you can even tell me that I suck.


Anonymous said...

Good article.Only mildly offensive.Looking forward to more from you.

Chris said...

Just a quick update regarding The Interns. I got an email a few moments ago informing me that they'd changed the name of their band to Futurebirds. Here are some links:!/pages/FUTUREBIRDS/68519352936



Anonymous said...

Have to say that the Interns, ehrm sorry, Futurebirds, have to be the best album i have heard this year!

Chris said...

any time we can turn people on to new music, we're happy.

thanks for stopping by, but next time, bring beer.