i like the feel of silver but now i want the gold

Finally, finally, finally a band has come along and put out a record that is gritty and minimalist but gratefully not under-produced. That band is Zulu Pearls. Songwriter Zach Van Hoozer and producer Nick Anderson may have saved indie from itself by moving out the back rooms and basements while artfully dodging pop music’s sheen.

It’s rare to get super-swooney for a record on first listen, but No Heroes No Honeymoons does it. There’s a thread of genuineness that runs throughout; a soundtrack to our lives that doesn’t feel market-researched and manipulated to swell at just the right moment.

The blissed-out thrum of “Honeyland” smacks of late-night pool parties and top-down drives, and Zulu Pearls keeps things sexy on “Two Thousand Whatever” – the slink of the Sharks do-si-dos with the twist of the Jets as Van Hoozer croons, “I waste my breath on rock and roll and ain’t nobody gonna save my soul.”

“Hard and Young” is a solid cut, and the title-track closer pulls out the feeling beat by deliberate beat. “No Heroes No Honeymoons” tugs at the heart without bumming out –  it gives the same feeling of sudden nostalgia a person experiences when doing something that makes them so happy that they begin to mourn its passing before it’s even done.

No Heroes No Honeymoons drops 09.18.12.
Click here to download the title track.
Visit the band’s official website here.

she’s a knife in the water

Divine Fits may be an indie supergroup, but they sound a lot less like their other bands than one would expect. Comprising Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs), and Sam Brown (The New Bomb Turks), there is some unavoidable familiarity (both Daniel and Boeckner have fairly identifiable voices), but overall A Thing Called Divine Fits treads ground not explored by their individual projects.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is the album’s overarching synth-filled 80s vibe. Lead track/single “My Love Is Real” did an excellent job of raising the flag to this fact, but expectations got in the way of realizing this would be the band’s modus operandi. Album favorites “Baby Get Worse” and “For Your Heart” further typify the sound – “Baby Get Worse” is diggable with its thick shimmy and danceable yet sullen “For Your Heart” is perfectly capped with a lovely guitar line at its end.

Despite the overall likability of A Thing Called Divine Fits, it’s got its imperfections. “Shivers” quickly becomes boring as it becomes clear that the song never really goes anywhere. “Like Ice Cream” takes a small step up by using vocals as part of the rhythm section, but it too seems out of place after the largely electronic-influenced rest of the album.

The good does far outweigh the boring, though, and there’s no doubt that the live pedigree of Daniel’s and Boeckner’s bands will make for an electric live show. What makes you shoulder shimmy in your seat on record will surely make you get up and dance in person.


A Thing Called Divine Fits drops 08.28.12.
Find out more by visiting the official Divine Fits website.

i’ve got smoke in my lungs and a past life in my trunk

“Jesus Christ, girl.” At only three words into “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings“, the lead single off Fear Fun by Josh Tillman’s new project Father John Misty, it’s clear there’s something special happening. The reverb and strung-out-sunset hollowness crashing against Tillman’s vocal turns is like a car wreck – you can’t turn yourself away from what’s going on.

Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes, has a gorgeous voice. While he’s technically sound, it’s the charisma and humor creeping at the corners that pushes it to another level. The religious/cult leader implications of the Father John Misty moniker (“Joseph Campbell and The Rolling Stones / couldn’t give me a myth / so I had to write my own”) are apt; in person Tillman is handsome and witty but approachable, and both live and on record could sing the phone book and make it the most compelling thing happening in the room. You’ll happily follow him wherever he may go, and he goes everywhere.

“O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” is pretty and hymn-like; the man has an ear for the spirit. Lofty, too, is the apex of “Only Son of the Ladiesman”. “Teepees 1-12” is a country shaker, complete with fiddle dance hall swing. FJM brings to mind The Beatles a couple of times on the album, both with “This Is Sally Hatchet” and “I’m Writing a Novel” (which is a cross between “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by The Monkees and “The Ballad of John and Yoko” – a move that seems intentional based on the song’s lyrics). In general Tillman nods to the past but makes it sound new, a dusted-off find from deep in the vault and not some lame apery.

Every track on the record is solid, a rare find in a singles-driven industry. Unsurprising, though, considering “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” is a contender for favorite song of 2012. Fear Fun is an instant classic, prime for those sunny summer mornings and lazy front porch afternoons.

Fear Fun dropped 05.01.12.
Click to download “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and “Nancy From Now On“.