If you are a baseball fan from the Twin Cities, it’s been a tough year and, let’s be honest, the future looks murky given the uncertainty surrounding the M&Ms (for the non-baseball fans M&M = Mauer and Morneau). Turning your attention away from Target Field and towards the airwaves, you will find a trio of young musicians creating brilliant ethereal indie-pop music: Now, Now are both the present and the future. Built around the sweet harmonies of the two female lead-singers, Now, Now’s Threads is a precise and concise collection of fuzzy, lo-fi tracks filled with youthful yearning and recriminations. Following in a well t(h)readed path carved out by similar female-fronted groups such as Rainer Maria, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Tegan and Sara, Now, Now produce deeply intimate, confessional songs that will transport you back to that time when the minutiae of relationships seemed (and were) both all-consuming and the end-all-be-all. But, let’s be clear, this record isn’t adolescent (or young adult) frivolity, these images (or metaphors) are closer than they appear. It’s fitting that the opening track is entitled “The Pull” as the lyrics and music oscillate between a muted melancholy of guitars and an all encompassing, ecstatic wall of sound filled with infectious percussion. In other words, this record isn’t all doom and gloom but a manic-depressive collection of rock-songs – think Weezer’s Pinkerton with less Freudian angsta. Can I gush any more about how I love this record? Probably, but instead of blathering, I’ll let you listen to it here.
If you enjoy(ed), Threads I’d also recommend the following records of an older but similarly exquisite vintage:
- Rainer Maria’s Past Worn Searching – “Goddammit, I’m not talking about my heart like it’s something that can break…” is the opening line to the record, so you have a sense of where this is going, i.e., awesome anguish. Madison, Wisconsin’s finest proto-emo and full-on geek rock band — the name says it all.
- Pretty Girls Make Graves’ The New Romance – an oft-overlooked classic; part punk, part dance, all sass. (Okay, I admit I have a weakness for really scream-y, guitar-driven female fronted bands.)
- Tegan and Sara’s The Con – The ur-confessional folk-rock record. Think early Ani Difranco minus the polemical/political songs.
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ s/t (EP) – although “Maps” is the best thing they’ve ever recorded, the rawness and simplicity of this EP still blows me away.
…thoughts composed while treading (figurative) waterb
- Nerdy Soul Mates? Many of you know how much I adore IFC’s Portlandia. But, my obsession with this show might now be superseded by my crush on Carrie and Fred as people. Check out their DJ session on NPR’s All Songs Considered during which Fred indicates that he tooc keeps his music and phone separate and says that he prefers listening to albums all the way through not just a series of songs. Thank you, sir. Audio-Dinosaurs of the world unite and take over!
- Dark and Brooding Cut of the Day – If you don’t have time to listen to the whole podcast, you should at least listen to (“) This (Is Not A) Song(“) – a dark brooding, soulful tune about lessons unlearned – offered up by Carrie. (What Elvis Costello song do the opening guitar chords remind me of? Feel free to add your guess in the comments section.) Also, a more involved post on this record to follow . . .
- On a related note, check out this exquisite discussion about creating and fostering creative thinking.
Audiophiles take note… These speakers are beautiful works of art. (And from experience, they sound exquisite.)
- Love on the Floor of the Vic – The Magnetic Fields return to Chicago in support of Love at the Bottom of the Sea. I’ll be in attendance on Tuesday night when Chicago’s Kelly Hogan (a latter-day Patsy Cline-esque chanteuse) will be opening. Come on down for some soul and satirical wit!
Upcoming . . .
- After a long hiatus, James Mercer finally delivers a new Shins record — you know that band that Natalie Portman made famous. First impressions are positive, more to follow. If you haven’t already, check out the first (“Simple) Song(“).
- Lost in the Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs. . .a gorgeous reflection on loss.
- Thoughts on Tune-Yards and Klostermann. . .
a If you haven’t ever heard this record, you are truly missing out on a classic. Forget the bubble gum of “Buddy Holly”, Rivers Cuomo’s rants and ravings about loneliness and longing are a work of staggering heartwarming genius.
b Churning butter seemed too anachronistic…
c Yes, I’m referring to myself here.