Category Archives: Music

Music Reviews from WOBC staff. Includes Best New Music and From the WOBC Vault.

Band on the Rise: Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings - Didn't You

On paper, pop music is in a kind of dismal state. It’s tough to find true innovators, and imitators are a dime a dozen. I don’t see it as a problem, though; instead, it presents a challenge. In order to make their marks, bands and artists need to find innovative ways of mimicry. Pop music has a lexicon, one out of which people can define their own voices.  A lot of current bands start off by showing you that they’ve done their listening homework, then showing you they can run with the lessons they learned from their favorite records. Best-case scenario, it’s a lot of fun to see where they land.

Cleveland’s own Cloud Nothings is one of those fun bands. In the last year or so, they’ve put out a slew of records that are as catchy as they are difficult to pin down. At the station, we’ve gotten the Didn’t You 7,” and the full-lengths Turning On and Cloud Nothings. Didn’t You consists solely of a pair of songs: the title track, and “Even if it Worked Out” on the flip side. The most striking thing here-–and on the albums as well-–is CN mastermind Dylan Baldi’s serious songwriting chops. These two songs are dripping with the same kind of effortless cool and combination of earnestness and devil-may-care panache that made both The Strokes and The Cars household names. Oh, and they’re catchy. Really, really catchy.

Didn’t You sets a high bar for the Cloud Nothings, and its one that Turning On matches. In particular, songs like “Another Man,” “Morgan,” and the title track have the shambolic, analog charm that’s quickly becoming a staple of the Cloud Nothings’ sound. It’s a consistently strong album, and that’s what’s so impressive for such a young band (sorry guys, it was going to come up sooner or later). There are songs that you’ll like better than others, but none of the songs could be taken as filler. Turning On shows Baldi’s range in a way that Didn’t You simply can’t (by virtue of its brevity). Both songs on the 7” come and go pretty quick (and merit repeating), but songs like “Hey Cool Kid” go by slowly enough to sink in.

The band’s most recent full-length — self-titled —  picks up right where Turning On left off. I’m hesitant to hurl an epithet like “mature” at this record, but for lack of anything better it’ll have to do. Powerpop gems like “Nothing’s Wrong” and “All The Time” have the same breathless urgency that made the 7″ and Turning On so charming, but songs like “Forget You All the Time” have a kind of elegiac, shimmering quality that offsets Baldi’s snottier moments. Sometimes Baldi pits these two styles against each other: “Understand it All,” would be another furious  romp  if it weren’t for Baldi’s nod to the Beach Boys’ textbook heartbreaker “You Still Believe in Me” seconds in. That Baldi uses the sour-to-sweet trick sparingly reveals a kind of poise rarely found in this line of work.

Whether or not Baldi’s breaking new ground is irrelevant. I could name-drop bands that sound like the Cloud Nothings for a while, and some of you could go on even longer, but it’s a pointless exercise. This early on in his career, Baldi seems primed to vault to the front of the powerpop pack on the strength of his innate knack for hooks, and his grasp of this sound. What’s scary is that he’s just getting started. (Matt Orenstein)

For more music, check out their Myspace

RIYL, briefly: The Cars, The Strokes, Dillinger Four, The Cranberries, and The Mice (Cloud Nothings of yesteryear)

Cloud Nothings – Didn’t You
Cloud Nothings – Even If It Worked Out

FROM THE VAULT: Vanity 6 – Drive Me Wild 12″

Vanity 6
From the Vault is a reoccurring feature where fearless DJs plunge into the depths of the station vaults to bring you the freshest stuff gone stale! In addition to a massive LP collection, we’re also sitting on hundreds of 45s eager to see the light of day. Enjoy!
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This single from 1982 was a minor hit for Vanity 6, a girl group trio formed and produced by Prince under the pseudonym Jamie Starr and the Starr ☆ Company. “Drive Me Wild” and its rockin’ B-side, “Bite The Beat,” appear on Vanity 6’s only full-length album, their self-titled debut release (pictured above). According to unconfirmed sources, Prince had been wanting to mentor a girl singer or group since the late ’70s when he saw the film A Star is Born starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. “Drive Me Wild” is everything you’d expect from a tune ghost-written by Prince, featuring sultry spoken female vocals: you’ll be stepping back and forth in no time at all. -Will Floyd

Vanity 6 – Bite The Beat
Vanity 6 – Drive Me Wild

FROM THE VAULT: The Three O’Clock – Sixteen Tambourines

The Three O'Clock - Sixteen Tambourines

From the Vault is a reoccurring feature where fearless DJs plunge into the depths of the station vaults to bring you the freshest stuff gone stale! In addition to a massive vinyl collection, we’re also sitting on hundreds and hundreds of 45s, lots of which are super rad and super rare. Enjoy!
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Here’s a gem from the WOBC vault. A good friend of mine showed me this record at the end of last year and, sure enough, a copy was buried in the pop vault.

The Three O’Clock were a part of the Paisley Underground scene in L.A. during the early 1980s. Young bassist and frontman, Michael Quercio, coined the term “Paisley Underground” as a joke meant to distinguish bands like Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, and the Bangles (early days) from the hardcore punk scene prevalent at the time.

Sixteen Tambourines was the first full length released by The Three O’Clock under that name. A different lineup led by Michael Querico played earlier under the name The Salvation Army. The band continued to record until the late ’80s releasing their final album in 1988. However, Sixteen Tambourines is by far the most enjoyable of their releases. A great pop album. Michael Querico’s vocal melodies and the occasional horn lines are highlights. -Will Floyd

–Side One–
Jet Fighter
Stupid Einstein
And So We Run
Fall To The Ground
A Day In Erotica

–Side Two–
Tomorrow
In My Own Time
The Three OClock – On My Own
The Three OClock – When Lightning Starts
Seeing Is Believing

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Also, check out this strange roller rink inspired music video for “Her Head’s Revolving,” 
the single off of their 1985 album, Arrive Without Travelling.

Teengirl Fantasy – “Koi Pond” from full-length 7AM

TEENGIRL FANTASY – KOI POND (Ivy Meadows Visual Dub) from Camilla Padgitt-Coles on Vimeo.

Oberlin’s own Teengirl Fantasy–a.k.a. Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi–recently released their debut full-length, 7AM, on True Panther Sounds. Check out this SWEET CUT off that LP, “Koi Pond,” and a visual dub from Camilla Padgitt-Coles.

You can grab 7AM, LP and mp3 from true panther, also iTunes. — will

Dom – Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP

DOM - Living In America

This one’s been out a few months, but it’s so much fun to write and think about that I can’t choose anything else for my first review on this blog. A quick rundown of awesome things about this band that don’t include the music:
• The album title (considering the whole band is a bunch of skinny, pasty kids from Worcester, MA)
• The album cover (containing the lead singer’s cat, Bochicha, for whom a song on the album is named)
• The lead singer’s willingness to lie and say ridiculous things in Pitchfork interviews (like claiming that the song “Bochicha” is a stadium anthem for a semi-pro hockey team near the band’s hometown)

Already this band has my attention. Throw in the singer (we’ll just call him Dom, since he won’t reveal his last name out of fear of debt collection), who sounds more convincingly like a chick than any guy I’ve heard in a long, LONG time and writes hilarious songs about how sexy it is to be “Living in America” and wanting to do ecstacy and make out with “Jesus” in a movie theater, and I’m in the band’s corner.

The reason I’ve skirted around the subject of the actual music to this point is that Dom (the band) is exceedingly hard to pin down, beyond a general umbrella of lo-fi indie pop. They are absolutely made of catchy hooks, like the huge synth sound of “Living in America” and the earworm of a guitar line running through “Rude as Jude”, but they’re surprisingly versatile; amazingly, the pan flute-copping synths of “Burn Bridges” share album space with “Bochicha”, which actually wouldn’t sound too out of place as a stadium sing-a-long, now that they mention it, considering the guitar line, ripped straight from the Troggs’ “Wild Thing.” Bottom line, Dom is worth your time if you like fun. They sound like they invented it. – Matt Rothstein AKA DJ Tronic

Dom – Living In America

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

After more than ten years, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti manages to stay relevant despite the current over saturation of the chillwave/chillcore/chillout/dreamwave/dreampop genre. With the release of their latest single, “Round and Round,” from the album, Before Today, the band sprints ahead of the pack.

The song includes elements that can be found on previous Haunted Graffiti albums, such as Ariel’s frequent use of harmony and poppy melodies, and gives them some extra attention in the production studio. The listener is left with a shinier, more polished sound than what can be found on previous albums.

Not only does the song boast better production quality, but it is more accessible than past singles. “Round and Round” is catchy, infused with highly melodic vocals over a steady, bouncy baseline. Although it’s a pop song that can rival any on the airwaves today, Pink’s unique sound is undoubtedly at its core. The song chooses to employ the help of a mid tempo beat that stays constant throughout and works well with the baseline. “Round and Round” is driven by its instrumental elements and Pink, singing more clearly than usual, sews all of the parts of the song together with well-crafted vocal tracks.

Plenty of artists are associated with the baby-making genre that is currently flooding the radio waves and invading dancefloors everywhere. Ariel Pink is not one of them. The music from previous albums, home recordings wrapped in indiscernible lyrics, manipulated vocals and driven by distorted synthesizers and guitars, usually doesn’t come to mind when the candles are low and your special gentleman or lady friend is looking for inspiration. But with the release of “Round and Round,” the band has the potential of earning a place in the hearts of poorly-lit dancefloor patrons everywhere. Whether intentional or not, the song is sexy in its own right and marks a new era for Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. — Aba Essel

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round

FROM THE VAULT: The Nonce – Roadie For The Kinks 45”

From the Vault will be a reoccurring feature here on the WOBC blog where fearless DJs plunge into the depths of the station vaults to bring you the freshest stuff gone stale! In addition to a massive vinyl collection, we’re also sitting on hundreds and hundreds of 45s, lots of which are super rad and super rare. We’ll be posting cuts from these recordings for your enjoyment, so let us know what you think!
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It’s been a while since we posted any cuts from the archives, but want no longer! Here’s a 45” from an old Oakland area band The Nonce (feat. Rookie Phenom). This got pulled on the merits of its title and turned out to be pretty awesome. The A side, “Roadie For The Kinks” is a fun homage to Davies, Davies & Co. (the sleeve also bears the plea: HELP PUT THE KINKS IN THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME! call 415-648-9405) but the real winner is the B side, “Sometimes I Wonder.”

RIYL: The Kinks, History, Parahistory

More information can be found on the following site: www.energyoverseer.com/Nonce2.html

A1 The Nonce – Roadie For The Kinks
B1 The Nonce – Sometimes I Wonder