Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hype Machine Head: 10.20.10

For this (very occasional) feature, Jordasch is going to be reviewing (bitching about) the top five artists according to immensely useful music blog aggregator the Hype Machine. If you're not familiar with the Hype Machine, render yourself as such. As its description implies, the site aggregates hundreds of music blogs and posts a new entry whenever one of those blogs posts an MP3 or a stream.

1. Generationals - You'll forgive me for thinking that, on the basis of the bass line, "Trust" was going to be another tinny-sounding garage rock revival track. But then that ebullient guitar line cuts in at :25, bringing with it some hip-shaking tambourine, and, what the hell, I'm on board. Indie Music Filter (ugh, worst name ever) calls the track a "perfect mix between Phoenix and Bishop Allen," and I'm thankful that it's heavier on the latter than the former (Bishop Allen makes me want to set fire to the nearest Urban Outfitters*). I'd call Generationals a less French Phoenix or one slightly less obsessed with sounding like they were recorded in an airtight, soundproofed room in space. Not spectacular, but certainly not offensive.

2. Secret Knives - I must be a judgmental prick because, like the last band, Secret Knives hadn't earned much goodwill within the first quarter minute of "The Northwest States": shimmery waves of feedback, the (again) tinny drum machine, a dude that sounds for all the world like Conor Oberst. This thing, though, builds so divinely that it's hard not to be swept up by the first minute mark. Those neo-Cure guitars push it over the edge, though, making this my favorite track of the week. This New Zealand art-pop solo project (it's just Ash Smith, also of virtually ungoogle-able group Over the Atlantic) comes to us courtesy of I Guess I'm Floating's Music Alliance Pact, which is a collection of music blogs from 35 (!) countries around the world. It's an impressive, forward-thinking project that I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't heard of before yesterday. Count me in.

3. Twin Shadow - For some reason, Twin Shadow's "I Can't Wait," the track that's spread like ebola among indie music blogs, didn't do much for me the first few times I heard it. But this week's hyped track, "Yellow Balloon," was an entirely different matter. The track is aptly-named, I think; as those buzzy synths drop onto an infectious, dance-floor ready beat, it really does sound like this track is inflating and then, gorgeously, floating off into the stratosphere. Sometimes George Lewis, Jr.'s voice sounds alarmingly like Chris Martin's, but that didn't really distract me. IGIF reps the states well with their pick for the Pact.

4. Havah - IGIF calls Michele Camorani's old band, Italian outfit La Quiete, one of "the most important screamo hardcore bands of the last decade" (not quite sure what screamo hardcore is, btw), but, to these ears, they sound utterly average. Maybe Italians just have low standards. Regardless, I think he's onto something with his new project. Havah sounds like Sunn 0))) trying to write surf pop tunes, and, as weird as that sounds, it actually works out pretty well. "The Competition Dies" is the one infecting the blogosphere like a bad case of herpes (sorry about the infectious disease analogies), but my pick is the obnoxiously-titled "I Hate Girls Eating Sandwiches." Decide for yourself; their first album, the much less obnoxiously-titled Adriatic Sea No Surf is free on their MySpace (though use this link; MySpace blocks it because they think it's virusy, but they're wrong).

5. Minus - Eighties-inflected electro-pop with diminishing returns. "Hașdeu" certainly ain't bad, but I doubt this Romanian important will remain in the H+M top artists for too long. This one comes to us, yet again, courtesy of IGIF. Plus, you can download their EP for free (TOO MUCH FREE MUSIC) on Local Records.

AND THE WINNER IS: Secret Knives for sure. Oh yeah, their album's free, too.

Note: The Hype Machine updates its list of popular artists every hour. These artists may not appear in this order, or they may have changed entirely by the time you read this. Such is the internet. Also I omitted Kanye this week. He won't stop being popular, and I already talked about him.