Tag Archives: indie rock

The Verge: WU LYF

A recurring topic at this week’s Me Against the Music panel was anonymity in the digital age: how bands like Tennis and Cults, or entire scenes like witch house, have generated buzz by cultivating a sense of mystery.

Manchester band WU LYF has taken that lesson to heart. Until recently sitting for interviews, they were defined by the lack of press knowledge of the band. WU LYF, pronounced “woo life,” is an acronym for World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation. Comprised of Ellery Roberts (vocals, keyboards), Tom McClung (bass), Evans Kati (guitar), and Joe Manning (drums), the band’s name suggests some grandiose force to be reckoned with, as does the title of their debut album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain.

On Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, WU LYF combines the indie rock immediacy of early Modest Mouse with the baroque tendencies of Arcade Fire. Roberts has the “I Could Die On Stage” vocals of Isaac Brock or Frank Black, growling out anthemic lyrics with the fury of a revival minister. In the same vein, church organs power the album, contributing a theatrical, solemn feel. The guitar work is airy but precise, accompanied by basslines and drumming that match Roberts’ ferocity. Compared to their lo-fi and chillwave contemporaries, the band is a breath of fresh air.

Early single “Heavy Pop” and B-side “Concrete Gold” are slow burning odes to nostalgia, obsessed with the familiar themes of lost innocence and feeling at home. The overwhelming passion with which Roberts sings is more than enough to make the simple lyrics seem fresh and poignant.

Two of the album’s standouts have already been paired with videos that are violent and political. “Spitting Blood” is surprisingly catchy, with a bouncy Afrobeat influence and overdubbed vocals. The stark drums that punctuate the epic “Dirt” underscore the song’s – and the band’s – revolutionary spirit (and the outro suggests a different meaning for their name: “World unite, love you forever”). With Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, WU LYF won’t be anonymous for long.

The Verge: Yuck

I haven’t bestowed “Verge” status on a proper rock band in quite a while, but here goes. Yuck is a London-based indie rock band, but their sound has more in common with US college radio from the 90s than with anything going on in the UK. Because of this, they’re often described as revivalists, which is partially true. As I’ve written about before, 90s revivalism is in full effect, from dance music to hip-hop to noise rock. Twentysomethings cranking out songs in the style of Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, and Smashing Pumpkins was an inevitability.

Yuck’s self-titled debut is full of such songs. Heavy on humbucker riffs and loud-quiet-loud dynamics, Yuck plays like a time capsule from 1993. What sets it apart from so many “saviors of rock” albums is the band’s ability to write and execute hooks, consistently rather than sporadically. The album kicks off with one, the air guitar anthem “Get Away,” which is accompanied by a bug-eyed, fantasy tour video.

The catchy, sing-a-long vibe continues throughout the album, which is littered with rollicking, fuzzed-out jams like “The Wall” and “Georgia,” the latter of which features dual vocals from lead singer Danny Blumberg and his sister Ilana.

True to their indie rock roots, Yuck does “brooding” well, taking a break from rocking to strum some melancholy melodies. “Shook Down” rides the “baby, I want you back” motif acoustically before kicking into a Pumpkins-esque groove under “You can be my destiny / You can mean that much to me.” While I’m making comparisons to grunge bands, “Sunday” reminds me of Hole’s “Doll Parts,” with it’s lilting chorus. In this vein, “Suicide Policeman” is a bit of twee pop with a surprisingly positive sentiment.

Forgive the infantile band name; it’s still better than their last project, one-time hype band Cajun Dance Party. Yuck has been in heavy rotation for me since its February release for a reason: I love the 90s. It was a great time for rock music (for a while, at least), and anyone who can capture that lightening in a bottle is worth a listen.

Apparently, the word is out already: Yuck opens for Tame Impala at a sold-out show this Friday at the Black Cat.

DC's indie rock weekend

Spring concert season is upon us, and DC hosts four fantastic shows this weekend, full of up-and-coming talent.

  • Thursday: Nightmare pop specialists Esben and the Witch take the stage at the recently-renovated Red Palace, along with noise-pop collagist Wise Blood and DC’s own Last Tides. The Red Palace stage is an upgrade over that of the old Black and Red; let’s see if the sound system can handle the shoegaze explosion.
  • Friday: Smith Westerns bring some Pitchfork-approved garage-rock to the Rock and Roll Hotel, supported by Unknown Mortal Orchestra and The Tennis System (who are playing their last show in DC before heading to LA). This one is sold-out.
  • Saturday: This Positive Force DC show harks back to DC’s hardcore days with a loaded line-up that features Paint It Black, Screaming Females, Punch, Coke Bust, Slingshot Dakota, and Give. The Verge featurees Screaming Females are the highlight; Marisa Paternoster and friends always bring it.
  • Sunday: The Dum Dum Girls keep improving their lo-fi, surf rock wall of sound, which they bring to the Black Cat with Minks and Dirty Beaches. The latest Dum Dum EP, He Gets Me High, is their strongest effort yet, including a powerful cover of a Smiths’ classic.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/dum_dum_girls_light.mp3″ text=”Dum Dum Girls – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” dl=0]

Image via Juxtaexposed