Album Review: Carsick Cars’ “3”

In writing about the Beijing-based noise rock trio Carsick Cars, there is an overwhelming temptation to compare them to Sonic Youth. It’s a natural inclination; Carsick Cars supported the alt-rock pioneers for two shows in Vienna and Prague on a European tour in 2007, shortly before releasing their eponymous debut album. Since those shows, they’ve performed at three SXSW festivals, and released two more albums, the most recent of which dropped last month. Some of the songs off this album, titled 3, wouldn’t sound out of place as B-sides from Daydream Nation or Goo.

Still, Carsick Cars aren’t Sonic Youth. They don’t have the swagger; they don’t have the savvy. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore (still drinking from whatever weird hipster Fountain of Youth that has kept him looking like a weird 20something for 30 years) cut an imposing figure of “coolness”. Hell, they did a song with Chuck D, who is mad cool. Meanwhile, Carsick Cars stand together wearing shirts that read “CSC” like sports fans too embarrassed about their bodies to bare their chests (for the record, I am one of these sports fans. Go [Sports Team]!).

After a second or third listen, Carsick Cars start to sound a lot less like Sonic Youth, and a lot more like their lower-fi contemporaries, Pavement and Guided By Voices. 3 is less Daydream Nation and more Slanted and Enchanted or Bee Thousand. This is great news for CSC, who make up for their lack of ability in smoking a lot and staring off into the distance at things with a relentless enthusiasm for their music.

3 opens with a song called “Wild Grass”. There’s a quick little bass riff at the beginning, before the guitars and drums cut in. It’s a pretty simple moment, but it’s a beautiful defining point for what Carsick Cars are. High-energy and lo-fi (it’s a testament to their commitment to distorted vocals that you sometimes can’t immediately tell which language singer Zhang Shouwang, who sings in both English and Chinese, is singing) and pretty damn good. I also have no idea what they’re saying most of the time, so I am complete qualified to say the lyrics are spectacular.

No other moment on 3 quite ever matches the opening of “Wild Grass”, and it does occasionally feel like Carsick Cars are chasing their influences a little too eagerly. The album lags a little in the middle, but more than makes up for it with the final track, “White Song”, a seven minute mini-epic that builds and builds to a satisfyingly chaotic conclusion. 3 isn’t a perfect album, by any means, but it’s certainly worth a listen.

Album Review: “Rooms of the House” by La Dispute

Whenever I describe La Dispute to people, I always describe them as “spoken word hardcore,” a label that has always seemed off to me. People today are far to obsessed with categorizing music by very specific genres, spending hours trying to come up with labels for their favorite bands that show off their broad musical knowledge (Post-punk shoegaze electrocore, anyone?) La Dispute, a five piece outfit from Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been called a leading voice of a sort of Post-Hardcore revival, but their third studio album, Rooms of the House, progresses them further than that. Try all you like to place a label on it, but Rooms of the House is a completely genre-less album, and in today’s world where everyone is distracted by labels, it’s highly refreshing to listen to an album that is plain and simple just awesome music.

The album contains 11 tracks totaling 41:49 in length. Within those 11 tracks, vocalist Jordan Dreyer tells the story of a marriage that is collapsing, using firsthand accounts to real events, metaphors to literature, and similarities to other relationships. The album’s opening track, “HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956”, sets the stage beautifully with a thunderous introduction by the band while Dreyer calmly introduces the album before breaking down into a roaring poetic verse. The decay and erosion expressed through the story telling is meant to show how dramatic change leads to irrational outbursts and an inability to see anything in a larger picture.  Dreyer utilizes the spoken-word vocal style he helped pioneer in the post-hardcore scene along with mewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss and Listener’s Dan Smith. In this album though, he displays some versatility his style that, while previously present, was sincerely underutilized. It’s telling that Dreyer has grown more confident in himself as a vocalist and Rooms of the House is by far his finest work.

As for the rest of the band, there seems to be a sense of maturity across the board combined with a newfound creativity. Rooms of the House was written in a secluded cabin in Michigan, the band deciding to change scenery after their last two albums. In addition, the band departed No Sleep Records in favor of their own label, Better Living. These two factors seemed to have opened the band up to new ideas that are incorporated beautifully into the album. “For Mayor in Splitsville” almost sounds like a pop song, right up until the point where Dreyer is screaming one of the most emphatic lines of the album, “but I guess in the end we just move furniture around.” “Woman (In Mirror)” sounds like it’s coming out of a folk festival. The same old La Dispute sounds is present in tracks like “Stay Happy There” however, giving old school La Dispute fans a chance to enjoy the type of fast-tempo breakdown common on their first full length, Somewhere Between the

A lot of the album compares favorably to the band’s second full length, Wildlife, which was a more external examination of loss, grief, and anger in the form of an author reading his unpublished stories based on real events that occurred around Gran Rapids. Rooms of the House is much more internal by comparison, telling a personal story but still using real events. The track “35” is a dramatic re-telling of a 2007 bridge collapse that builds up and breaks down in a similar way to Wildlife’s King Park, with Dreyer’s vocals becoming more and more unstable until the climax of the song and story combine together. It’s tracks like these that distinguish La Dispute as a band; the emotional telling of a story backed by a melodic progression is something that a lot of bands fail at, but La Dispute excels at.

La Dispute is a band that will never be easy to explain, just as Rooms of the House will never be an easy album to slap a label on. The album is an emotional roller coaster that contains music written from the fingers of an eclectic and creative group of musicians. Anyone who appreciates a work of art done by people who truly know their craft should listen to this album. It is an album that appeases to fans of music, despite genre or label, and grabs attention for its deeper content as much as it does for its fulfilling sound.


Album Review: Against Me!’s “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

Punk rock is dead.

I have written that multiple times, for English papers no less, and it has become a music journalism cliché. For some people, punk rock was born in 1977 and died in 1978, and in a stylistic sense, that’s not too far from the truth. With regards to substance though, it’s pretty hard to agree. If Punk Rock is just musical minimalism paired with some kind of anti-establishment sentiments, then we can trace it from Richard Hell and Iggy Pop to The Ramones and Sex Pistols, to Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, even to more polished, modern bands like Green Day and Against Me!

Punk rock is stale.

That’s probably more accurate. I’m no purist. Slick production in the Butch Vig mold doesn’t bother me, and I think American Idiot, for all its naysayers, is still one of the most important punk albums of the last decade, both for its popularity/visibility and its attempt to take both the standard punk stylings and overwrought “stadium rock” tropes and blend them into something relevant. Recently though, they’ve lost the plot. The Uno! Dos! Tre! Trio of albums aren’t bad, but they’re misguided, and mostly scatter messages everywhere, hoping to find something that sticks.

I’m sure if you scour the awesome, seedy punk rock scenes of the world, you can find something real, but whatever “mainstream punk” (ew gross) is out there is either clinging to Green Day’s blueprint a decade after the zeitgeist, or has become Warped Tour-ized, catering to “edgy” junior high students who ride around on skateboards and doodle little Anarchy A’s in the margins of their math homework. Punk is losing relevance. Everyone wants to be “authentic” and the movement is turning on itself, even as most people don’t even know it still exists. Such is the subject of Against Me!’s 2010 single “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”. It’s a great track, if not particularly innovative. It speaks to that “authenticity crisis”. Against Me! Aren’t very “authentic”. They started as acoustic anarchopunks, and have become increasingly electric and apolitical as they move to bigger and bigger labels.

But now, with Transgender Dysphoria Blues, they’ve given up the ghost and blown all notions of “authenticity” out of the water. A pseudo-concept album that’s sort of about lead singer Laura Jane Grace, who came out as transgender in 2012, Transgender Dysphoria Blues makes one realize how silly it is to hold onto 1970’s standards of false “authenticity” or “cred”, instead of trying to make something real. This album is real. It’s released on Against Me!’s own label, Total Treble Records, and it comes it at under a half hour, but it cuts deeper than any contemporary “punk rock opera” twice its length.

Grace’s lyrics bite, and she doesn’t pull any emotional punches. She plays with language, vulgar and sultry all in the same breath, and when she snarls “You want them to see you like they see every other girl, but they just see a faggot”, you instantly realize that this is not some ivory tower punk philosophy, but real, ugly experience. It’s her lyrics that give the album a sense of gravity. It’s never pretentious (an occasional failing with some of my favorite punk records, unfortunately) and Grace doesn’t see herself as some kind of idealized punk rock savior, but rather an angry, vulnerable, fully realized human.

Lead Single “True Trans Soul Rebel” sticks to the “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” musical mold, but rather than aim her gun at a dangerously (at times) out-of-touch subculture, Grace turns it on herself, expressing every vulnerability (mental, physical, social, sexual) as an almost anthemic rally cry for the sexual outcasts, the weird kids that helped make punk a real genre, only to be cast off in favor of screamo brats with bad haircuts and worse attitudes (how’s that for a run-on sentence?).

Still, Grace’s greatest lyrical strength is making the album, part auto-biographical, part fictional, resonate. You don’t need to be trans, or queer, to empathize. It takes the visceral, painfully specific reality of her life and this story, and gives it the voice of ten thousand different outcasts. At its core, it is an album with a message, a powerful, beautiful message, but it’s a message that can echo throughout the entire genre. It’s a shock to the heart. Maybe if Punk can get away from phony posturing about authenticity and cred, and get back to making damn good records that mean something REAL, we’ll see more albums like this in the future, but for now, this is the best we’ve got, and it’s pretty damn spectacular.

Gonzo Wavves Concert Review















There was music. Mistakes were made. It was awesome.

We (execs Emilia and MB) went to the Wavves show at the Black Cat in DC.  We arrived 5 minutes before Wavves went on, after disastrous car, metro, shuttle, and cab rides to get to the venue.  At this point it was nearly 11pm and we were out of our minds.  We immediately moved up the front and shoved our way into the center of the mosh pit, which should’ve been more difficult considering we are nonathletic girls, but the mosh was made up of the hipsters of DC.  Wavves started with King of the Beach, the best summer anthem of the last few years, and everyone went wild.  The room was soon a spinning and uncontrollable fury of messed up twenty-somethings throwing themselves in every direction. Emilia was holding my arm for support as I considered whether I was going to pass out while standing directly in front of Nathan Williams.  I looked at Alex Gates, realized that he was probably either on heroin or was tripping face based on the look in his eyes, and decided that if he could play for this crowd while he was in that mind state that there was no way that I couldn’t take a few people out in a mosh pit in my own mind state.

The band was able to keep the energy at a pretty consistently high level as they progressed through their set, and the energy was excellent.  During Idiot, everyone was shouting “I’d say I’m sorry, but it wouldn’t mean —-” as though Williams were some kind of indie deity who would only respond to the anger of the youth who can’t reconcile consciousness and reality.  Through the whole show, I’d say the whole band kept up an almost bored demeanor.  It was a good thing though, perfect for the mood.  It was like everyone was losing their minds while the band could not care less but was going to push them further without even trying.  At one point the girl next to me started making noises like “bee boop boop boo beep beeeeeee” and grabbed me as though I were going to save her from whatever was happening in her head.  Another girl near me had her nose broken by some guy, who literally picked her up and removed her from the crowd.  At some point, I left the mosh for a minute to get a drink, and next to me at the bar was King Tuff (former WDCV featured artist) buying a shot for himself and the bartender.  We sat there for a minute until he had to go chill at his merch table.

Wavves played for a little over an hour, and at the end of the show they announced that they’d be drinking downstairs after the show.  Apparently the crowd was full of imbeciles, because everyone left.  We went downstairs, and I ended up hanging around with Stephen Pope and chatting with Nathan Williams.  From what I remember, Pope was way more personable than Williams, but my perceptions were pretty skewed at that point.  We also took a selfie with Williams, who has publicly voiced his disapproval of selfies, but who also posts them regularly. Then I got kicked out of the bar. #blessed



10/01/2013 Featured Artists Update

This week, we said goodbye to a lot of good artists from our Featured Artists binder. Starting today, the following artists are not longer featured.

  • Safety Orange
  • Pity Sex
  • Alice Brightsky
  • Charli XCX
  • No Age
  • City Riots
  • Third of Never
  • Ty Segall

But not to fear, we’ve stocked up with some great new artists. We’ve got the new album from Deltron 3030, which features guest appearances from Damon Albarn, Zach De La Rocha, Mike Patton, and even Joseph Gordon Levitt. We’ve also got the newest release from Campfire OK, a great folk outfit from my hometown of Seattle. There’s also great albums from Kelley Stolz, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, Eyes on Ivan, Teitur,  and Peace. And of course, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t mention the awesome new offering from Grouplove.

A full list of the featured artist binder can be found below.

And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures
Beecake – Blue Sky Paradise
Campfire OK – When You Have Arrived
Chad Kichula – The Whale’s Back
CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
Claude Von Stroke – Urban Animal
Cloud Control – Dream Cave
Deltron 3030 – Event 2
Eyes On Ivan – Way Of The Fool
Ezra Furman – Day of the Dog
Grouplove – Spreading Rumours
Hunters – Hunters
Kelley Stolz – Double Exposure
London Grammar – If You Wait
Luna Down – The EP
Moon Taxi – Mountains, Beaches, Cities
Peace – In Love
Right Start – Come To Know
Royal Bangs – Brass
Scarlet Youth – The Everchanging View
Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs – Girl
Teitur – Story Music
The Chambermaids – Whatever Happened Tomorrow
The Lower 48 – The Lower 48
The Paper Kites – States
The Persian Leaps – Praise Elephants
Top Less – Top Less
Vance Joy – God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Versus Angels – We’re Only Human

Album Review: Balance and Composure, “The Things We Think We’re Missing.”



It’s tough growing up. You spend all day working for little money and all night writing checks to pay your bills. A lot of hours are spent on Facebook stalking your old friends from high school, comparing their lives to yours. Worst of all, taking your pants off at a playground and running around isn’t cute anymore, it’s a felony. So when a band like Balance & Composure comes along and releases a record whose core message is “Screw Everything,” it’s not only lyrically refreshing, but personally satisfying to crank it up and just rock out for 48 minutes.

The Things We Think We’re Missing is the Doylestown, PA Alt -rock outfit’s second full length, following 2011’s Separation. It is a raw, hypnotic, and haunting album that features heavy influence from the early to mid 90s grunge and emo scenes. If you’re a fan of bands like Nirvana, Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, or Jets to Brazil, you’ll find a sound that is familiar, but refined with B&C’s own unique brand of post-hardcore. It’s an album that is not only satisfying for people who have been following the band since its inception, but for people looking to get into a new sound with old tricks.

Each song is forcefully shoved into the face of the listener with powerful drums and loud instrumentals, with a mood that screams “listen to me.” One of my favorite songs on the album is the opening track, “Parachutes.” The band doesn’t pull any punches to start the album, with the vocals making a loud, broad introduction over a patterned melody and a rhythm of heavy guitar chords. “Tiny Raindrop” is another great track that will appease fans of older Balance & Composure. It isn’t as in-your-face as other songs on the record, but it maintains the apathetic, angsty mood of the album. “Notice Me” is the most head-bang worthy song on the album, especially when it breaks down into a myriad of screaming vocals and booming, impact guitars. It’s one of those tracks that make you want to punch a hole through a wall and yell at people to listen to you. Or maybe that’s just me.

“Reflection,” the first single from the EP, is a brilliant song written from the perspective of a scared man who wants people to fear him, reminiscent of your own teenage self telling yourself that no one will ever understand you. It’s one of those tracks that just makes you feel angst and angry like you were as a teenager, and I for one love it. The album only really slows down once with the acoustic “Dirty Head.” Though the song doesn’t fit with the other tracks individually, it fits in well with the album as a whole. If you thought the album would have a happy ending, however, prepare to be disappointed, as the final track, “Enemy,” is a haunting, rhythmic ballad that ends the album with an empty silence.

Balance & Composure have come a long way since they were just another up and coming Doylestown hardcore band (does anyone remember the Erection Kids? Because I remember the Erection Kids). With two albums now out, shows taking place on tours around the world, and an increasing interest in the new post-hardcore scene, expect The Things We Think We’re Missing to expose Balance & Composure to a broader audience than ever before. The album is beautifully composed, brilliantly written, and is a commanding reminder that delving into a fit of teenage angst is still sometimes the best way to deal with the world.

Highlight tracks: Parachutes, Tiny Raindrop, Notice Me

FFO: Nirvana, Title Fight, Thursday, Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas is the Reason, and honestly anything else. Listen to the album and decide for yourself what it reminds you of.

Download The Things We Think We’re Missing from No Sleep Records at

Top 5 Tunez


What’s good, Dickinsonians? One surefire way to find excellent new music is to investigate the side projects that the members of your favorite bands are involved with. Here’s a list of my top five favorite songs that have resulted from a beautiful meeting of great music minds. Enjoy!

5. Little Joy — Don’t Watch Me Dancing

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The brainchild of Fabrizio Moretti, the drummer of the Strokes, Rodrigo Amante, singer and lead guitarist for Los Hermanos, and Binki Shapiro, all around chill human being, Little Joy’s eponymous 2008 debut is one of the most enjoyable and thoroughly listenable albums I’ve ever heard. It’s a sweet little summer throwback. Don’t Watch Me Dancing is Little Joy at its lazy mellow best.

4. Divine Fits — My Love Is Real

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This is the opener for the album A Thing Called Divine Fits, which began as a collaboration between Britt Daniel of Spoon and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs. It’s the best of both worlds; the tight beats and use of space is reminiscent of Spoon in its Gimme Fiction days, while the refrain is clearly written by the same guy who penned Wolf Parade’s This Heart’s On Fire.

3. Broken Bells — Meyrin Fields

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Broken Bells is comprised of James Mercer, frontman of the Shins, and noted producer Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley fame. Both members have sworn that this isn’t just a one-off, but a legitimate band that intends to keep making music. Bonus: on tour, the live band consists of not just Mercer and Danger Mouse, but also Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Desaparecidos.

2. Volcano Choir — Byegone

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Bon Iver may be on indefinite hiatus, but don’t worry. You can still get your Justin Vernon fix via Volcano Choir, a collaboration between the Bon Iver frontman and several members of Collections of Colonies of Bees. The first album was a significant departure from the sound Bon Iver fans are used to hearing, but Repave, their most recent album, sounds more familiar.

1. Atoms for Peace — Default

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“Supergroup” is largely an outdated, semi-maligned term, but there’s really no other way to describe Atoms for Peace. Its members include Radiohead frontman Thom York and producer Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and percussionist Mauro Refosco, and Beck and R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker. Default is reminiscent of King of Limbs at its most enjoyable. Radiohead with a twist. What’s not to like?

Currently Playing

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1. Kokomo by Orquesta (ft. Jape, Katie Kim, and Kathi Burke)

This song is not only a chill reminder of the laid-back summer vibes, but the video by Fatti Burke is incredible.  Check it out on Vimeo.

2. DMT by xxyyxx

xxyyxx is probably the coolest young dude in the game, and there are a lot of young dudes in the game.  He’s also from my home state (Florida), which makes me like him even more.  This song is my favorite of his.

3. Sun Lips by Moth Super Rainbow

This song was featured in the super rad surf film Nti Sheeto by Dion Agius and I’ve been playing it on repeat since I first watched the film.  It’s as good as the guys in the film (which I recommend watching even if you don’t know surfing.  You can view it here.)

4. Skinny Little Girl by Hanni El Khatib

I found this guy when I was looking for upcoming shows by Bass Drum of Death.  He used to be the creative director for HUF, the skate and street wear brand. Now he makes this rad music.

5. Single Fins and Safety Pins by Japanese Motors

Japanese Motors broke up, but they were such a great summer band.  Alex Knost, the professional wild man and surfer, was in it but has since formed a new band called Tomorrow’s Tulips which is also pretty nice to listen to.

Artist Profile: The Uncluded

I don’t like to get too sentimental or romantic but I’m going to allow myself this nostalgic self-indulgence. For my brief, pretentious career as an amateur music journalist, I’ve often thought about how to put into words my feelings about alt-rock as an emotional movement. Even with some musical differences, there’s something to be said about bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, and Arcade Fire as an emotional mirror.

If you liked music as a kid, you probably have musical memories. For me, I remember listening to Breakfast With The Beatles with my family on long Sunday car rides, or listening to 90s country with my mom on the way to doctor and dentist appointments, or discovering entry-level punk music at 12 years old. Those songs put me back when I was 9, 10, 11. Likewise, music I got into in high school reminds me of sitting in my car in a school parking lot, or driving around late at night in my small, Washington town.

However, most powerful among music are the songs that seem to remind me of both times. Songs by The Mountain Goats and Arcade Fire, despite having been discovered later in my teenage years, seem to resonate with my childhood memories as well. Logically, it’s pretty ridiculous. I was 16 when The Suburbs came out, so it can’t possibly tie to my ten year old self, and yet, it does.

Indie rock works like lullabies, or crackled melodies transmitted through a broken radio to youth. They conjure powerful images of lonely streets, small towns, and emotional connections between people not fully in control of their emotions. Even so, they connect to where we are now. There are these reference points, footnotes, asides, that put us back in 2013, as young adults with lives, relationships, and some abstract concept of the “real world”. It’s powerful.

Enter The Uncluded. Made up of Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson (two powerful songwriters and storytellers in their own right), The Uncluded are a weird hybrid-y folk hip hop that strikes that emotional balance perfectly. Since leaving The Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson has made a career out of silly, pretty children’s songs and initially, the debut Uncluded album (titled Hokey Fright) seems similar. With songs titled “Eyeball Soup” and “Jambi Café” that include nonsense words and silly mispronunciations in their lyrics, The Uncluded seems like another foray into children’s music.

Songs like “Delicate Cycle” paint vivid pictures of childhood (Dawson sings about her mother working as a lunch lady and her father’s career as a laundromat worker), contrasted with adult understanding and reflection. Inside of the childish lyrics and silly rhymes, The Uncluded are explicitly linking childhood and adulthood. Introduced at their live show as “A Public Service Announcement”, the song “Organs” juxtaposes clinical, macabre language about death and organ donation with rhymes about animals trading parts (“The turtle gave its shell to the crab who gave its eyes to the bird who gave its wings to the bat”).

The Uncluded put on a great show. I saw them in Seattle last week and they were exceptional. Their songs are catchy and nice, but it takes a step away from the show to really understand how talented they are. By taking those elements of childhood and mashing them up with the realities of adulthood, they’re creating something relatable to weird in-between people. How else are we supposed to take an album that references the Jonestown Massacre and has a song called “Tits Up”, while also earnestly endorsing blue raspberry candy and fluffernutters.

Check out The Uncluded. You’ll be glad you did.

Album Preview: CHVRCHES’ The Bones of What You Believe

In terms of mildly gothic, female-fronted indietronica, we are living in an unprecedented Golden Age. In a historical sense, it probably all started with The Knife, the early 2000’s duo from Sweden whose 2003 single, “Heartbeats” echoes through a lot of alternative electronic music of the past decade. Despite a bit of chart success in continental Europe, The Knife were never championed by the indie elite and consequently haven’t received the accolades or recognition they probably deserve.

In a historical, theoretical sort of way, it was The Knife, but in a cultural, zeitgeist-y way, it’s hard to argue against Crystal Castles. With Ethan Kath providing both cute melodies and demonic glitches worthy of some kind of LSD Gameboy fever-dream and Alice Glass punctuating her sweet nothings with staccato shrieks, it’s not surprising that they were swallowed up wholesale by the internet hype machine. Despite some growing pains and reasonably high-profile performing scandals (Glastonbury 2008 comes to mind), Kath and Glass became the poster children for the chaotic, sweet-then-scary indie electro music that has grown every year.

There’s Purity Ring, a duo following the successful formula of a female vocalist paired with a male instrumentalist. There’s Charli XCX, a British singer-songwriter who recorded her first album (albeit an unreleased one) at 14 and has only improved since then. Now, there’s CHVRCHES (don’t let that “v” fool you, it’s pronounced “churches”), a Scottish trio whose first album, The Bones of What You Believe, is set to be released in September.

With the market flooded with good, female-fronted electro, one might wonder what sets CHVRCHES apart, or at least makes them worth a listen. Musically, CHVRCHES inches closer to pop than some purists may like, with the synth lines of Martin Doherty and Iain Cook having more in common with M83 than Crystal Castles or The Knife. Still, it’s self-produced and charming in its accessibility. Early singles “The Mother We Share” and “Recover” are downright bouncy, with their unashamedly cheesy drum machines providing an upbeat lift to the songs.

However, it’s vocalist Lauren Mayberry who sets CHVRCHES apart from their contemporaries. She has an intelligibility and dynamism that’s hard to find in modern electro. She practically whispers her way through intimate verses, only to deliver bombastic, soaring choruses. She’s also a master of the subtle and subversive, playing up her charm and the upbeat nature of the music to mask the surprisingly dark lyrics.

CHVRCHES have been good about releasing music in the lead-up to The Bones of What You Believe, with 4 singles from the album already floating around the indie blogosphere and radio waves, as well as an EP for “Recover” that features two additional songs and two remixes. They’ve also been active with special performances and projects, with Prince and Haim covers coming from radio performances, as well as making remixes for St. Lucia, MS MR, and Ultraista. Still, none of it substitutes for a proper album and I’ll only be properly satisfied when The Bones of What You Believe drops on September 23rd.


Watch the CHVRCHES music video for “Gun” below!

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