Posts Tagged ‘Happy Happy Birthday To Me’

American Culture – “Silence”

This first single from the upcoming American Culture LP For My Animals is a real gem. The song slides into the cross wake of indie pop and post-punk in a way that feels constantly at odds with itself. It is is inherently jittery, letting a bit of dubbed air enter the room to infect a layer of crisp drums and voluminous keys. The Denver band has let a few sinewy shards of pop out in the past few years with a couple of albums and singles for Emotional Response, Heavy Dose, and Lightning Charged. The new LP makes its way out via Athens culture hub Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, arriving on March 19th. This one speaks well for what’s to come on that third LP, and I’d keep an ear to the ground over at HHBTM if I were you.



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Love Tractor – S/T

My first introduction to Love Tractor — one of the pillars of Athens’ ascent as an indie capital — came via their 1989 album Themes From Venus. I imagine this may have been the case for quite a few others as well. With Mitch Easter pushing them towards radio’s embrace, while also being notable for its several instrumental tracks that seemed to jolt the band away from that goal entirely, this was probably their highest profile moment. The record would prove to be their final, at least in their early stages, but that focus on an instrumental mash of jangled angles, post-punk rhythm, and a lounged fluidity had long been an anchor of their sound. The band had set themselves apart from many of the Athens peers with the exclusion of vocals, but no one can deny that their sound doesn’t bear the town’s rhythmic stamp. The band was quickly scooped up by Danny Beard’s DB records, home of their friends in Pylon and the eponymous LP followed shortly.

The LP that emerged out of their two day session came quickly, but feels like it landed fully formed. There’s something of a soundtrack quality to the record, but it’s equally at home pushing the listener to dance. They let sweat-stained grooves give way to cross-legged nodding while good natured strums succumb to caffeinated fits of guitar. Its a record that’s singular in vision — there are few others of the time that feel as loose, yet completely driven as this record. The band would mutate as they established themselves and wove vocal pop into the mix, but the debut is a moment in time that warrants returning to now and again. This reissue from Happy Happy Birthday To Me presents the record, remixed and referbished by David Barbe and Bill Berry. Plus there’s a wealth of liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, The B-52’s Kate Pierson among others.



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Tullycraft

Seven albums in and well removed from the heyday of indie-pop that that they just barely caught in their own early years, Tullycraft are back with one of their best. The band was always just a tad late, but wiser and wryer than their classmates, having worn their “out-of-fashion” status proudly on their sleeves. The band made their mark with slogan-worthy ditties like “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend is Too Stupid To Know About” and sentiments that rang, “Fuck Me, I’m Twee,” which they are. They definitely are. They’ve long been giving the young’uns a few role models to emulate, though, and as they litter zines and band badges across the bar for the taking, they’ve inspired more than a few of those introverts to pick up a powder blue strat and nerd out their own catalog.

Tullycraft are, in fact, textbook twee, but there’s a sense that they’ve been writing that book all along. They’re indie-pop historians and flameholders for the big, bright pastel worlds that are woven out of jangles, boy-girl harmonies, and overly dense lyrics. The hooks here decry parties soundtracked by radio staples, detail relationships built on what you like and not what you’re like, then map out the downfall of shared living spaces with proper doses of humor and ennui. Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears keep things sweet, sometimes even saccharine, but if you’re looking for indie-pop that lets you escape without a little frosting and felt on your hands, you’d be wise to look elsewhere.

Tollefson spits out literate lyricism with the kind of tongue-twister plot cramming that made John Darnielle sit down and write some actual books to get it all in, but he manages to make each aural acrobatic as infectious as can be. The Railway Prince Hotel distills what’s best about the band and bottles it up for a new generation that could use a little optimism in a natty cardigan. In a lot of ways Tullycraft seems like the gateway drug to a long rabbit hole spent mining old BMX Bandits video clips and Tallulah Gosh b-sides that inevitably ends up with a strange late-night fascination with The Bus Stop label output that your friends write off as a phase. However, on grey days, overwhelming months, and sleepless nights its nice to know that Tullycraft are out there weaving agita into squirreled hooks and private moments of exuberance that wind up secret handshakes for the next generation.



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