Music is at its most potent when it expands, dissolves, changes and challenges borders. Separations of genre, geography, politics — none are a force more powerful than people getting together to make music in a room. That borderlessness is sewn into the fabric of the self-titled debut album by Alvvays, a Toronto band whose beach-pop seems to come straight from the California shore.
Never Hungover Again begins with a cold open — just a one-second chord and vocalist/guitarist Barry Johnson "looking at your face in the dark" — of a lanky pop song that already seems to be in progress. Joyce Manor has never been one to extend the drama, with albums shorter than it takes to watch an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast; the punk band can pack an emotional wallop with as much as a yelp.
Tim Presley has been performing as White Fence for a few years now, building on a diverse resume that borders on the impossible: He played in hardcore punk band The Nerve Agents in the late '90s, leads the space-rock group Darker My Love, was a member of the garage outfit Strange Boys, and even found time to join The Fall.
Richard Reed Parry is famous for making music sound big. As a core member of Arcade Fire, the Grammy-winning indie rock group from Montreal, he wields multiple instruments to help create deep, layered textures in which strings and synthesizers, slow ballads and disco dance tracks are all at home.
Impulse Records is the legendary label that proudly delivered the "new thing" in jazz in the 1960s: avant-garde records from the likes of John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. It also helped jazz cross over to a larger audience; quite a few flower children bought Impulse albums.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the flyers that either wildly underestimate or wildly overestimate our credit-worthiness is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what constitutes "indie rock" in 2014.
Antfitgodd writes via Facebook: "The term 'indie' has been subsumed by major labels, whose acts often try to mimic indie-rock sensibilities — which changes what it means to play music that is not bland Top 40 drivel. Do you think 'indie rock' as a genre is dead?"
Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 11:49 am
Drummer Tommy Ramone, born Tamás Erdélyi, the last of the founding members of the seminal 1970s punk band The Ramones, has died. He was 65.
An announcement on the band's Facebook page said Ramone died on Friday at his home in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. Ramone had been in hospice care for bile duct cancer, NPR has confirmed with Peter Erdelyi, Tommy's brother.