“Pop” isn’t a dirty word, it’s just taken the Cribs a little longer to realize it. “We’ve always had a little punk rock guilt,” explains the band’s singer/guitarist, Ryan Jarman. “Whenever we’ve written something that’s had an overtly pop feel, we’ve always felt like we needed to balance it with something noisy.”
Cast an eye (or an ear) back over the trio’s back catalogue, and it’s not hard to understand what he means. When Ryan and his siblings Gary (bass) and Ross (drums) first emerged from Wakefield, England with their self-titled debut (2004) and the follow-up “The New Fellas” (2005), both brimmed with scrappy punk and youthful exasperation. They sounded like a band at war with themselves, but underneath that hubbub was a clutch of perfect pop songs. Even with the more obvious, radio-friendly sheen of “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever” (2007), the Cribs still sought equilibrium through dissonance with tracks like “Be Safe,” which also featured Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo spitting bile. And when the Johnny Marr-assisted “Ignore The Ignorant” (2009) added a further level of panache, the band swiftly and pointedly got back-to-basics with the dense and turbulent “In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull” (2012).
But on “For All My Sisters,” that pendulum has now swung back to pop – and the brothers are keen to hold it there. “We wanted to make something that embraced our pop side,” continues Ryan, and the songs on this album feel less like an embrace, and more like a bear hug. Having drawn a line under the first phase of their career with 2013’s “Payola” compilation, “For All My Sisters” is the album they’ve always threatened to make; sleek, accomplished, concise, and packed to the brim with unadulterated melodies. Musically speaking at least, it’s a guilt free zone.
Booking (NA): Matt Hickey at High Road Touring
Label (NA): Arts & Crafts | Label (R.O.W.): Sony RED
Management (excl. NA): James Sandom at Red Light Management
Their history you probably know by now. About how brothers Jez and Andy Williams met Jimi Goodwin at 15 and forged a lifelong friendship from their shared passion for music. How the trio’s incarnation as Sub Sub -inspired by ecstatic trips to The Hacienda – saw them hit number three with the sublime ‘Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) in 1993 only to lose their way until their rebirth as Doves.
How the success of 2000’s debut album Lost Souls spawned the widescreen vision of The Last Broadcast just over two years later. And, more recently, how the civic concerns of 2005’s epic Some Cities paved the way for Kingdom Of Rust, most sane people’s album of the year in 2009. None of which, of course, tells you anything about the beauty and majesty of the music they’ve created over the years.
The Places Between, their latest, is a painstakingly compiled look back at Doves first twelve years. From the opening chorus of There Goes The Fear (“Think of me when you’re coming down / But don’t look back when leaving town”) through classic debut single ‘The Cedar Room’ (originally released on the bands own imprint Casino Records – funded by Rob Gretton) to the sonic maelstrom of ‘Jetstream’, CD 1 is a seamless reminder of Doves unique knack of blending nostalgia, euphoria and social comment with gleaming musical modernism.
Hailing from Rochester, NY, Joywave make conceptual, self-aware indie pop that's both meta and personal, retro and cutting edge, all-ages and sophisticated. To step inside a Joywave song is to lose yourself in a thoughtfully-curated, tech-savvy synthesis of emotions, genres and random noise, blended into an eminently danceable DIY sound smoothie. Add to that an energetic and seamless live performance (as Rolling Stone said of their 2014 Lollapalooza show, "Joywave brought the disco to the forest") not to mention lead singer Daniel Armbruster's unforgettable mustache, and the result is a buzz that won't stop growing.
2015 has been a whirlwind of activity for the quintet -- they released their debut full-length release 'How Do You Feel Now?,' played Summerstage in Central Park, watched as their songs "Somebody New" and "Now" rose up the alternative radio charts and most recently launched their first, and predominately sold-out, U.S. headline tour. The band also made their mark outside the U.S. touring with Brandon Flowers this past spring and giving buzzworthy performances at this year's Reading and Leeds Festivals and played to their biggest audience yet at Lollapalooza Berlin.
But things haven't always been this up -- Joywave's is a post-recession survival story of creativity fueled by hopelessness. The five band members -- vocalist Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, bassist Sean Donnelly, keyboardist Benjamin Bailey, and drummer Paul Brenner -- met at school in the economically-depressed blue collar town of Rochester, in western New York state. Daniel and Sean initially teamed up because "Sean had some software I wanted," says Daniel, and the band went through various incarnations, including a joke band whose songs satirized contemporary pop hits. "Within a couple months of starting this fake band we did a showcase for a major label," says Daniel. "We were like 'guys, this is a joke, thank you for the pizza.'" The next endeavor was more traditional guitar rock. "We learned opposite things from those two bands," says Sean. "Basically that the whole music industry is a giant shit storm, so we should do whatever makes us happy. That is what led to the genre-hopping and experimentation of our current sound."
Joywave as we now know it officially formed in January 2010, and they released their first mixtape in March 2011, '77777,' which Daniel describes as "a space odyssey constructed around one cohesive fictional story." It was followed by the '88888' mixtape, and their EP, 'Koda Vista.' Joywave's early releases enabled the band to explore which viewpoints and genres best suited Daniel's voice, until they were finally ready to record their debut album, 'How Do You Feel Now?' It's a record that's deeply personal to Armbruster, who never imagined that as an adult he'd still be living at his parents' house and making music in the basement with the same friends he'd had since high school. "I still sleep in the same bed that I did when I was in seventh grade," he says. "In seventh grade you think you know where life's going to go and then you're like 'wow, I didn't do anything yet,' which is super disappointing and super eye opening too. So this album has been completely inspired by the idea of wasting away at home and watching your life fly by."
Signing with Hollywood Records in 2013 enabled them to get out of Daniel's basement and rent their own studio, a free standing cottage in Rochester that resembles a "weird Soviet dentist's office" whose plumbing stopped working during recording, and whose ceiling caved in. "When the plumbing went down for a couple weeks, part of the consequence of that was that we felt compelled to record ourselves peeing into milk cartons," says Armbruster. The "whoosh of the pee stream" made it onto the beginning of one of the tracks. In fact, the entire album is a tapestry of field recordings and app-mutated sounds: noises from a JetBlue flight, hallelujahs of a choir in Brooklyn, and samples from "Fantasia," "Peter Pan," and "Bambi" (Joywave is the first band Disney has allowed to sample its classic cartoons).
"Somebody New," the first single off 'How Do You Feel Now?,' is a "lazy love song" that was born after Armbruster had a dream in which Skrillex was DJ'ing "this hilarious song, with this 'woop woop' dubstep riff. When I woke up I thought it would be funny to build a song around that." The "Somebody New" video was directed by Keith Schofield (Duck Sauce, Beck).
The infectious "Tongues" is a reaction to Armbruster's experience as a DJ, seeing the same fun-time people week after week, and having them describe in detail all the things they wanted to do with their lives, but never did. The buzz-inducing video for "Tongues" (directed by the DANIELS) features an almost entirely naked cast shot on 16mm, Joywave's attempt to take the trend of putting naked girls in music videos and poke fun at it in their typically atypical style.
Obsessed with the processes and concepts behind music making, they cite pop's great explorers -- Damon Albarn and Kanye West, for example -- as inspirations. Not that they sound like them, necessarily -- for Joywave, what's inspiring, more so than a specific song or artist, is a dedication to reinvention. "We tip our hat to people who do want they want to do and constantly reinvent themselves," says Daniel. "People who say 'I am going to do exactly what I want to do right now, and not worry about what I did before or what the last track sounded like.' That level of reckless creativity is what we continually aspire to."
Booking (NA): Mike Marquis + Marty Diamond at Paradigm Agency
Booking (International ex. NA): James Whitting at Coda Agency
Label (NA): Cultco Music/Hollywood Records
Had Andrew and Ben not agreed (probably with a smirk) long ago that, should their ever-evolving musical collaboration called MGMT reach the crucial Third Record Threshold, they'd make that milestone eponymous, MGMT (the album) might well have been called something like Step Into The Club - ("because it's like a multi-level club inside of our brains") - or Now, That's What I Call Now! or just MGMT - NOW! (like the Rolling Stones' third album), because MGMT has indeed made a very now record.
Songs for anyone who's "going through daily life feeling like an alien," MGMT draws seasoned fans and new initiates alike into the band's eureka zone, a psychic oasis offering the opposite of dumbed-down (smarted-up?) as sympathetic counsel or support for something like chronic mis-aligned-multiple-reality syndrome, DejaVu-DO or Modern malaise - whatever you want to call it. With their resplendent third album, Ben and Andrew finally open up the MGMT inner sanctum through a brand-new sound that's about what it's all about: "sinking in - and forgetting about time."
Booking (NA): Paradigm Agency
Booking (International ex. NA): CAA
Label: Columbia Records
Publishing & Licensing: BMG
Mission of Burma
‘Unsound’ is Mission of Burma’s fifth studio album, continuing their remarkable legacy. It seems redundant now to even call it a comeback because they’re a dynamic, current band. Originally together just four years, from 1979-83, Mission of Burma reformed in 2002 for a handful of shows...which let to more concerts, then more, and eventually the release of 2004's "ONoON", their first new recording in over twenty years. But no one expected them to just keep putting out records, let alone records that were every bit as vital and influential as their seminal early recordings. Their first album ‘Vs’ is down in the annals of time as being one of the most important post-punk records ever. Their subsequent recordings: "ONoON", "The Obliterati", "The Sound, The Speed, The Light", and now, "Unsound", continue to grow in scope, depth and accomplishment with every step.
On "Unsound" we see Mission of Burma messing with their comfort zone by recording in their Boston rehearsal space which doubles as a recording studio: Analog Divide. As usual, Roger Miller (guitar, vocals), Clint Conley (bass, vocals) and Peter Prescott (drums, vocals) share the songwriting credits with their distinct styles. All of them tried their hand at other instruments and sounds, allowing them to take risks with their creativity and giving them a more fluid line-up. Of course, regular fourth member Bob Weston (of Shellac) was on hand to provide the tape loops and production duties.
Booking (NA): Frank Riley at High Road Touring
Booking (Europe): Peter Meeuwsen at Puschen, Jose Luis Ceuvas at Born! Music