CAPITAL CITIES- ONE OF THE BEST NEW ARTISTS OF 2013

 

download

Artist: Capital Cities

Album: In A Tidal Wave of Mystery

Release Date: June 4, 2013

By: Stephanie Griffin

It took me seeing them live this past weekend to realize how awesome this band is. Capital Cities, whose top hit “Safe and Sound” is played on various radio stations, is definitely a new band to highlight before this year is over. Their debut album called In A Tidal Wave of Mystery, was released in the beginning of summer. The first single off the album, “Safe and Sound” became a top Summer favorite. Capital Cities is growing even more popular as they currently tour Fitz and the Tantrums this Fall. As a whole, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery is the ideal party album. What makes Capital Cities so unique is how they are able to bring an eighties pop feel in their songs, with the use of brass instruments and synthesizers. This combination just works, and every track brings its own little taste to their indie style.

Capital Cities is an indie electronic band out of Los Angeles. It first started as Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who began as jingle writers. Once the band was formed in 2010, they released some independent EP’s with their first single, “Safe and Sound” actually being one of their first recorded tracks. The newest members include bassist Manny Quintero, trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, guitarist Nick Merwin, and drummer Channing Holmes.

The album kicks off with their first single, “Safe and Sound.” Listening to the lyrics, the song can be interpreted for many different types of relationships: romantic, friendships, or even family. It’s a song about promising to be there for each other. As the lyrics say, “I could lift you up, I could show you what you wanna see and take you where you wanna be.”

Next on the album is “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast.” The song sounds happy though its lyrics are pretty sad. The song goes, “I want it all and nothing less, I want it all, I want the best for you, I’m telling you the truth.” Even though the lyrics portray some type of frustration with a relationship, the synthesizer in the background just makes you want to dance.

The third track is by far one of the best and hopefully a future single for Capital Cities. On tour, they open with “Kangaroo Court,” another fun dancing song. It’s one of those songs where the lyrics don’t make sense, but in this case- who cares. This song is best for its instrumental sound, like the amazing part with the trumpet before the bridge.

The party album continues with more electronic catchy songs. “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” is one of those songs with a one-line chorus that can easily get stuck in your head. “Farrah Fawcett Hair” is another dance song that features hip-hop artist, Andre 3000, where again, the lyrics don’t really make sense but it’s a cool song to listen to. Then you hear tracks like “Chartreuse” and “Origami” that sound for a second as if they are songs to open for a video game. But what Capital Cities does best is take this electronic pop sound and give it a little funk with the use of piano and brass instruments. Whatever they use, each song has its own feel so you get a little bit of everything: dance, pop, electronic, rock, indie.

Towards the end of the album, it seems like this dance party is coming to an end. Songs like “Lazy Lies” and “Tell Me How To Live” are rather slow and different from the beginning of the album. The lyrics are also kind of depressing. As the lyrics of “Lazy Lies” say, “Sick and tired, and you wanna see a change
But you don’t wanna change for me.” You are basically going to hear certain songs on the album where the lyrics may not make sense. But songs like “Lazy Lies” actually tell a story. This variety works though and can show us Capital Cities can do more than just upbeat dance songs. Though they weren’t my favorite songs on the album, the change in tone is something good to have. You don’t want every song sounding the same.

It is clear though Capital Cities does a good job with getting songs stuck in your head. You will be looking forward to the last two tracks on this album because they are catchy, cute, and fun. “Love Away” is almost the perfect song to end a romantic comedy with. In this case, it’s the best way to end In A Tidal Wave of Mysterybecause it is simple and cute. Anyone who listens to bands like the Fitz and the Tantrums, Miniature Tigers, Imagine Dragons, or Grouplove will definitely enjoy Capital Cities. Indie music nowadays is expanding to more subgenres like electronic, pop, dance, funk, and more. Capital Cities has a little bit of everything to offer on In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. They can continue their music career safely and soundly, as they become one of the best new artists this year.

“Is Survived By” – Touché Amoré (by Chase Montani)

The relentless touring schedule of Touché Amoré, of Los Angeles, C.A., exceeds that of most post-hardcore acts. The quintet’s fan-base spreads as far as Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and all of Europe. On their new album “Is Survived By”, the band displays their maturity from playing countless shows together. They have come in to their own and broke away from the other bands in their genre.

The album was produced by Brad Wood (Sunny Day Real Estate, As Cities Burn, mewithoutYou) and surpasses any quality of past Touché recordings. Also guitarists Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens challenged themselves to progress their already dulcet sound. The guitar work throughout the album is focused and progressive, using high trebly leads, and ambient, reverb permeated riffs when necessary. Forthright chord progressions that pull you in all of the directions vocalist Jeremy Bolm is bringing you in his throaty exclamations.

New inspirations and themes occur during “Is Survived By” that were not seen in their previous two full lengths “…To the Beat of a Dead Horse” (2009) and “Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me”. With their progressed brighter guitar tones comes brighter (for Touché at least) lyrics. Bolm proclaims, “I was once asked how I’d like to be remembered and I simply smiled and said ‘I’d rather stay forever” in the album opener “Just Exist”. From there on he goes through themes of overcoming loneliness, dealing with separation, distraction, and the pressures of being in a band.

While the stand-outs on the album are Bolm’s lyrics and their advanced guitar experimenting, much is to be said about the bass playing by Tyler Kirby and the velocious drumming as always provided by the constantly shirtless Elliot Babin (who obviously just plays to fast to wear a shirt). Kirby provides some groove to the album with protruding bass licks in “Anyone / Anything” and “Kerosene”. Elliot Babin is just showing off in “Just Exist” and the first single off of the album “Harbor”. Once again, the band is displaying the payoff that comes from the constant practice that is the endless touring schedule of Touché Amoré.

“Is Survived By” is Touché’s longest work to date. The band has been known to keep things “short and sweet” so that the listener does not get bored. This attributes to the progressive character the band has developed. And even in lengthening the songs and producing a longer work, it still ends before you want it to. The title track happens to close the album and is a perfect “sayonara” for listeners and also serves as the longest track on the album, coming in at a whopping 3:30 and is a remembrance letter for the band, explaining how they will be “survived by” their fans and support. Though their work isn’t as long as most bands, it never lacks in depth. Hey, isn’t the saying quality not quantity anyway? That seems to be the case with the California hard rockers.

The album which debuted at #86 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the vinyl sales chart, was released September 24, 2013 and is available in several formats (LP, CD, digital download) at http://deathwishinc.com/estore/.

“Old” – Danny Brown (by Chris Lee)

After critical acclaim with his project XXX, Detroit native Danny Brown returns again with his highly anticipated debut album, Old. With familiar producers, including Paul White, SKYWLKR, and Rustie, Brown delivers a 19-track album, splitting the LP into 2 sides, Side A and Side B.

 

Side A is the side of the project that has Brown over more traditional sounding hip-hop beats, but with the Danny Brown flair that fans love that you can hear on XXX. The opening track, “Old”, has Brown spitting ferocious verses stating that his fans and others want the “old Danny Brown” back, but telling fans that he’s always been here.

 

The highlight of the album comes right after the intro, with “The Return”, which featuring fellow gangster rapper Freddie Gibbs. The track is a reimagining of the classic Outkast track “Return of the G”. Laced over a smooth beat from Paul White, Danny and Gibbs steal the album with fantastic verses, equally as good to each other. A must listen.

 

Side A continues to impress with tracks like “Clean Up”, going into the personal problems of Danny Brown’s life, the grimy production of “Dope Fiend Rental” including a zany Schoolboy Q delivering a great verse as well, and the eerie “Lonely” that sounds like a fairy tale story gone wrong.

 

Side B introduces a new side of Danny Brown that has been emerging as of late with features on “1Train” off ASAP Rocky’s debut album, that includes the hyper and high-pitched flow that is truly love or hate.

 

The highlight on Side B is the production; with absolutely ridiculous beats that only Danny Brown could rap on. The A-Track produced “Break It (Go)” will make any sound system rumble with bass and the EDM produced “Smokin and Drinkin” will be a fan favorite at live shows.

 

Side B seems as if it was made to be played live, and his dedicated fans will go crazy to these tracks, as well as Danny himself.

 

A lot of speculation was going into this album talking about if Danny could replicate the greatness that is found on XXX, and Danny has delivered. Catering to the traditional hip-hop fans on Side A as well as EDM and trap lovers on Side B, with absolutely fantastic production on every track, this album was made for fans of multiple genres and Danny delivers on all fronts.

“World EP” – Scientist (by Megan Manfredi)

worldEP

The World EP by Scientist really rocked my world. The opening track, “Coming Up”, could stand on its own against many alternative and pop songs heard on the radio today. The song brings together both a current electronic-based pop style, similar to Passion Pit, and a strong foundation of alternative that shows the band is diverse in their songwriting. The band was listed to sound like The Killers, and I could definitely hear it; however, it also had more of a punk edge to it. The lyrics are catchy without being annoying or ridiculous, which is a some rarity for new alternative and pop artists.

The second song, “Deep Down”, takes a different direction, but not in a bad way. The song begins with an MGMT-style mystical feel and slowly returns to the louder alternative style of the previous track. The lyrics and vocals fail to disappoint, and the song moves the EP along nicely.

The third track, “Criminal”, begins with a piano intro that has a creepy feeling, which then slips into a harsher feeling than any of the other songs. This song is by far the angriest on the EP, crossing the line from alternative to punk pop, and although it may be different, it still worked for the band. The lyrics that were slightly screamed were done so with a purpose.

The title track, “World”, followed after and brought the vibe back to mellow. The vocals on this song are awesome, combining sugary harmonies with the alternative basis that is laced throughout the EP. The song is essentially about the power of love having the ability to change the world, and Scientist made me believe it.

The final song on the EP, “Forest”, brought the styles of all of the other ones before it together. The song was arranged really well and it brings the EP together really nicely. Overall, the World EP was very impressive and I am looking forward to hearing more out of Scientist.