Reviews: Skaters, Dum Dum Girls
Manhattan is the debut album from NYC upstarts Skaters. While their style is admittedly rooted in a punk rock vein, Manhattan is far from your garden variety NYC punk rock album. At the same time, Manhattan is NYC through and through.
Their influences are wide and varied. From garage rock nuggets, classic punk rock, old reggae, to 1960’s British rock & roll and beyond. On the one hand, Manhattan gladly wears these influences on their proverbial sleeves and makes no bones about it. On the flipside, however, Skaters are a truly fresh talented rock & roll band with palpable youthful energy, originality and complete sonic autonomy. They’ve done an incredible job crafting an eleven track release honing those influences and they’ve succeeded in creating a unique record that possesses a great all around sound.
They’ve established a sound that is all their own that sounds spacious and hollow with a huge open quality that, for lack of a better description, sounds almost haunting in a rather indescribable way. Their NYC vibe evokes a feeling of the gritty, seedy, and artistic areas of the big apple. Skaters’ music takes you there. Lyrically, the songs are, again, descript, appropriately ironic, witty, and acerbic and they have a tendency to take the listener to the places where the alienated artists, disaffected street philosophers, and other creative individuals dwell. With that said, nothing about Manhattan is really detrimentally abrasive, and every single song is a good time.
The songs on Manhattan are well written and very well constructed, complete with lingering hooks. Musically, there’s a deserted quality created by the layering of instruments. The vocals imply a vague sense of detachment much of the time. Their NYC indie spots show through in “Miss Teen Massachusetts” with an infectious chorus that has just enough pop appeal that it ruminates in the brain a while after the song is over. Another great example of a good catchy indie pop tune with a simply great chorus that stays with you is one of the oldest songs on the record called “Schemers”. There are some really fun numbers with cool reggae roots called “Band Breaker”, which opens with a great little synth line, and the remarkable track entitled “Fear of the Knife”, which also has somewhat of a reggae undertone but also has some really great late-60s R&B era Rolling Stones feeling to it.
Manhattan is NYC’s Skaters debut full-length album. Luckily it is a priority for the record label, so it should be made very readily available to any and everyone who might want a copy. This is a highly recommended release that is surprisingly catchy, strong, and solid. Though 2014 is still new and there is obviously much more to be released by a plethora of artists, Skaters’ Manhattan is a record that should remain one of the most regarded and momentous of the year.
Review: Dum Dum Girls-
Laying low in NYC to write the material that would become the Dum Dum Girls’ third full-length album for Sub Pop Records seems to have paid off for Dee Dee Penny in a big way. Too True is nothing if not triumphant.
Dee Dee and company have grown steadily over their relatively short, but prolific career, releasing almost twice as many EPs as they have entire albums. The Dum Dum Girls seemed to have once belonged to a select group of female fronted/populated bands that create a modernized version of great 1960’s inspired indie pop. Whether it was the decision to put the serious writing foot forward, or just simple, good old-fashioned evolution, the Dum Dum Girls have effectively set themselves apart from almost all of their contemporaries with the recording and release of the momentous Too True.
Though it’s hard to find just one word for this release, Too True is, in fact, an amazing release. The songs are written and delivered in such a way that there is something on this album that has the potential to appeal to everyone who listens. With that in mind, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Too True is one of those rare releases that can be listened to all over again once it has reached the end of the incredibly engaging record closer, “Trouble Is My Name”.
The hauntingly beautiful cut, “Cult of Love,” opens the record with an almost foreboding undertone, initially, even though its change-ups appropriately preserve its appeal to hook the listener and reel them in for the next track. Though they chose to release the rather enigmatic sounding “Lost Boys And Girls Club” with the video single treatment, “Rimbaud Eyes” could easily serve as another single due to its constantly moving tempo and its extremely catchy line repeated over and over, which is simply the song’s title; the words easily implanted in the memory where it stays indefinitely. Too True is full of moments that never cease to let up and just keep throwing sonic jab after sonic jab. Cuts like “Are You Okay” and “Under These Hands” keep the record afloat with infectious melodies that you just might find yourself humming long after the music is over. Some really cool European rock sounds come out in songs like “Evil Blooms”, “Too True To Be Good”, “In The Wake Of You”, and “Little Minx”.
With the Dum Dum Girls release of Too True, they’ve made a strong case for themselves as a band that’s worth seriously being looked at and finally given credit for more than just being able to produce some really catchy and moderately cool retro-pop, as not only the quality of songwriting is elevated but the quality of musicianship, as well. As mentioned previously, Too True is an album that holds its own as a strong release, in addition to successfully weaving ideas, melodies, and hooks together in a way that make them viable contenders in the indie pop world and abroad. One listen to Too True is just not sufficient, and it’s a very easy record to spin again and again. It [Too True] is a vast collection of feelings, emotions, and truly memorable material that transcends genre and gender, making it as important and it is special.