Celestial Shore

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Celestial Shore is a 3-piece Brooklyn-based band that doesn’t quite fit into any one genre, so I’ll make one up: spasmodic teched-out indie beach rock. My mind only works so fast, and I can only multitask up to like 2 things at once (say, walking and breathing simultaneously, for example); it goes without saying that I therefore find Celestial Shore’s songwriting to be mind-bending and entrancing. Mashing patternless riffs and beats and layer upon layer of drop-dead gorgeous vocal melody/harmony, they deliver in a jerky, stop-and-go flow that somehow carries the listener along splendidly. Celestial Shore are the sonic equivalent of a dragonfly – bursts of energy followed by random periods of rest, seemingly senseless directional changes, and quirky overarching objectives entirely unreasonable to the viewer. In summary, my relationship with Celestial Shore is equal parts confusion, fascination and genuine amusement.

Until the release of last year’s “10x” debut LP, we the listeners had precious and essential few to latch on to – 2011’s remarkable  EPs “California Eden” and “Place Aux Dames” (free track at http://pitchfork.com/forkcast/15830-place-aux-dames/) and a 2012 split tape (yes, tape, like a cassette) with like-minded Shopping Spree. In these earlier years, Celestial Shore had only a fistful of tunes longer than 2 minutes. I’m still getting to know “10x” (again, mainly because I simply can’t keep up), but so far I find it light and delightful. Sophomore LP “Enter Ghost” is scheduled out on Hometapes in October of this year. I’ll be there. Probably still perplexed as hell.

Favourite track: Pals (free download at http://pitchfork.com/forkcast/15349-pals/)… Sometimes I try to sing along, and I’ll give you 3 guesses as to whether it sounds good or not.

Jacques Greene

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Jacques Greene is a relatively new Montreal-based beat maker and producer who’s been turning heads for a few years now. Of what I’ve heard so far, this guy can pretty much do no wrong. Maintaining a fairly low profile by self-releasing music on mediums like Soundcloud and his own label Vase, he keeps busy packing out small-to-moderate sized clubs and doing classy collabs with lesser-known / up-and-coming vocalists from around the world. He humbly and consistently demonstrates a clear-cut, easily palatable style with great flow, cleverly crafted layering crescendos and tasteful beats. My sternocleidomastoids have never been more fatigued than after seeing him live last summer… it was pure joy.

In typical electronic artist style, Jacques Greene has taken to the single / EP / DJ set formats to put out his originals and remixes. So, if you look around a bit on the world wide netweb (https://soundcloud.com/jacquesgreene / http://pitchfork.com/artists/29665-jacques-greene/), you’ll find little pots of gold hither and thither. Posted above is the artwork for my 2 favourite songs of his; other notable releases are EPs “Ready”, “Concealer” and “The Look”. Upon doing a sweep of iTunes, I see a brand new release “On Your Side” featuring How To Dress Well – I will be purchasing and devouring it promptly. Update: Jacques is back with 2 killer Ciara remixes (free download at http://jacquesgreene.com/greene02/) as well as this year’s upbeat “Phantom Vibrate” (try “No Excuse”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td48NIit_Yc).

Favourite track: Another Girl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79J58LlPiAg)… Funky fresh.

Craft Spells

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Craft Spells are a 4-piece indie pop band centered around California native Justin Vallesteros. Starting as a solo project in 2009, they came out guns blazing with a stellar debut LP in 2011’s “Idle Labor”. With a mastery of DIY esthetic, Craft Spells are particularly adept at the short and simple, delivering foot-tapping 2-4 minute tunes with confidence and style. Free of frills, they keep each instrument deliberate, purposeful, and focused towards the common goal of creating vibrant, shimmering pop.

Check out their excellent LP “Idle Labor” and the matured sound of last year’s “Gallery” EP. Now signed to Captured Tracks, I expect we’ll be graced with more goodies in the near future. Update: Craft Spells released their new LP “Nausea” last month, and the only nausea you’ll be experiencing is just prior the emesis of excitement in hearing their broader, tighter sound (try “Breaking The Angle Against The Tide”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn5SH6YX40U).

Favourite track: After The Moment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOftOXAaBuo)… Just good clean fun.

Vacationer

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Vacationer are a 5-piece indie pop group from Philadelphia and other nooks of Northeastern US signed to Downtown Records. Reportedly starting as a side-project for singer / bassist / principle songwriter Kenny Vasoli, Vacationer have since taken off as an up-and-coming feel-good summertime band of golden sunsets and carefree beachside laze. True to their name, Vacationer sing relentlessly of paradise, islands, heaven and anything generally lacking in responsibility or obligation. This devotion to escapism is aptly evidenced by the chorus from their iconic breakout song “Trip”: “I need a trip, a trip’s what I need!” A few years ago, their online merch section humourously contained a sort-of getaway sweepstakes package (well, for them at least), where you could pay something to the order of $10,000 to join them on a trip to some tropical destination, where Vacationer would perform a private show for you and yours. Emanating pure lackadaisical dreaminess, they’d make a terrific tropical accompaniment indeed. With a delicious blend of string/wind instrument sampling, electro accents, pulsing bass lines, cleanly palm muted guitars and an array of African-sounding percussion, Vacationer will make your eyes heavy and your feet light. Best of all, they certainly offer an affectionate nod towards The Beach Boys, boasting gorgeous multi-layered falsetto vocal work and enough overt happiness for everyone to have a slice.

In their short existence, Vacationer have released 2 solid LPs: 2011’s “Gone” and this year’s brand-new “Relief”. Both make excellent summer albums, and pair well with any stereotypical July or August outing (or whatever the summer months are if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Not shy of venturing from their original works, Vacationer have offered a few gorgeous remixes of Tennis, Dom and Caveman (try harp-laden “In The City”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mexuEQHmGQs).

Favourite Song: Trip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzOaKcuAFnc)… The next time I have ten grand just lying around the house, I know where I’ll be putting it.

The Antlers

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The Antlers are a Brooklyn-based 3-piece indie rock band who formed in 2006. They were always one of those groups everyone hyped about and for whatever reason took me forever to look up. I try to keep a healthy dosage of skepticism as to not be too over/underwhelmed by most things, and I really wasn’t sure I heeded the validity of the lofty claims surrounding The Antlers. Yeah yeah yeah… passionate, heart-felt songwriting… profound beauty… never heard anything like it… album of the year… I’m sure I’m sure. Some time in 2012 when I got around to listening to their masterpiece album “Burst Apart”, I swiftly learned what I’d been missing. It was one of those rare coveted moments when you double take, having your perceptions drawn from the murk of daily consciousness into sharp focus. The Antlers demanded undivided attentiveness, divulging emotion straight from the heart in the form of meticulously-detailed, profound, gorgeous sound. They are at once a quiet open field, a blazing sun, an ice-cold ocean wave and a smoke-gray thunder cloud; a first kiss and final goodbye, love letter and death certificate.

Originating as a solo project by singer/guitarist Peter Silberman, The Antlers’ first 2 albums were distributed as a limited self-release. Later joined by fellow core members Michael Lerner and Darby Cicci, together they have since crafted some of the most highly-acclaimed and important works of the genre. Conceptual LP “Hospice” is an exceptional album spanning pin-drop quiet fragility to gain-laden exultations, lyrically following a tragic tale of love amidst ailing health. Their most recent, 4-song EP “Undersea” represents an enjoyable study in even-paced, dream-grooving acoustics. However, I believe 2011’s “Burst Apart” LP to be their single greatest achievement, resting proudly alongside the most magnificent indie albums of all time – a flawless execution of artistic brilliance. Update: The Antlers have released their highly anticipated new album “Familiars”, a gorgeous and emotional extension of their softer, sweeter side.

Favourite track: Putting The Dog To Sleep (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsOgFgc5f5w)… I feel like I should preface this with a spoiler alert, giving away the album ender and all.