Fall doesn’t mean you have to abandon your love of the surf revival led by Wavves’ Nathan Williams and his main squeeze, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. (If your response to that last sentence was “Who?,” start by reading Jenn Pelly’s review of Best Coast’s debut album Crazy For You.) But the summer festival season does give way to darker sounds worthy of intimate indoor concerts and snowed-in listening sessions. Take, for instance, last year’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, where London’s The xx, wearing all black and keeping the lights down low, became the stars of the festival thanks to their sensual, understated pop and the fascinating chemistry between guitarist Romy Madley-Croft and bassist Oliver Sim. The last four months of 2010 will unleash a new set of hopefuls on listeners, and here are four with fall (or recent) releases worth checking out.
Auburn-haired Cameron Mesirow spends a fair amount of time in NYC but is technically based in LA, where she’s part of an impressive trippy indie pop scene alongside fellow solo act Nite Jewel and duo Pearl Harbor, among others. As Glasser, Mesirow makes simply produced but intricately composed songs starring breezy atmospherics and honey-smooth vocals. One can imagine Mesirow helming the soundtrack to a modern remake of Zabriskie Point.
One of the standout indie pop albums of 2010, Twin Shadow aka George Lewis, Jr’s debut is a fabulous homage to ’80s pop that pulls from titans such as David Bowie, Morrissey and the Cure but ultimately achieves something new, fresh and memorable, convincingly bringing in elements of post-punk, IDM and disco to his nostalgic mix. From the dark, catchy “Castles In The Snow” to the beautiful title track that closes the album, Brooklyn-based Lewis is equally captivating on each of the album’s 11 songs (which were produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, who is also the founder of the album’s label, Terrible Records).
This enchanting Brooklyn-via-Boston trio makes far-out music for a party (or tribal dance) around a campfire with epic song titles like “Panoptic Yes” and “Land of the Apocalypse Transcended.” At times the music sounds like it’s straight from the Final Fantasy video game series; at others it sounds like punk from the Middle Ages or hymns for a religion the band created. Prince Rama is also fascinating to watch onstage because the artistry doesn’t stop at the music (as the photo above suggests).
Jana Hunter has been on the freak-folk scene for years, but the Texas-born singer recently took a right at a fork in the road, moving to Baltimore and founding the indie rock band Lower Dens, which recently released the addictive album Twin-Hand Movement on Hunter’s longtime label Gnomonsong, which was co-founded by Devendra Banhart. Lower Dens combines Hunter’s unique, velvety vocals with sophisticated, epic guitar duets and pop melodies that prioritize cool ahead of catchy.