It must have been a foggy, overcast San Francisco day, 25 years ago, when Mark Eitzel formed American Music Club with guitarist Vudi. What else could explain the perpetual cloud that has hung over the band? Sure, one could chalk it up to the self-destructive tendencies of Eitzel, who writes the songs and sings lead, but that wouldn’t suit AMC, whose ouevre includes its fair share of allegories. Maybe it was because they never met a genre they didn’t like—rock, punk, folk, country, jazz, etc. Or it could just be that this band has always been destined to be successful amongst critics and Europeans (a la Kraftwerk). It’s clear, however, by the title of their new album, The Golden Age, that the band is ready to enter a new phase of their careers—the aged, yet wise troubadours (or the painfully delusional). Can’t wait to find out which!
Who says superheroes are the only ones with good creation stories? Soon after DeYarmond Edison disbanded, Jason Vernon removed himself from the civilized part of Wisconsin, holing up in a remote mountain cabin for the winter. After four months, he emerged with a new name, Bon Iver—French for “good winter,” purposefully misspelled—and a solid foundation for his debut solo album, For Emma, Forever Ago, a quiet, moving collection of folk-infused guitar-based songs. His story is just like Rocky IV, but replace Drago with inner demons. Keep the beard, though.
It’s an obvious fact that bands, like married couples, enjoy a little action on the side. Salacious, however, side projects are not. The beat on Monade, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadler’s side project, is that if you like Sterolab, you’ll like Monade. Straightforward enough endorsement for their third offering, Monstre Cosmique. (If you’ve never heard Stereolab, however, start with their breakthrough album, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, please. Monade is level five Stereolab fandom, handle with care.) Meanwhile, there’s Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound. From what’s available on its myspace page, the album, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, the band’s first, is moody and experimental—and not without its own peculiar appeal, not unlike Deerhunter.
The acoustic balladeer Josh Darnielle, aka The Mountain Goats, must feel like the father of an old-world Irish-Catholic family, having produced 15 albums in 13 years. And the audience, well, they’re the second cousins who have to remember everyone’s name. But who can tell them all apart? Heretic Pride is his most recent—and maybe the cutest! (Read the review by J. Gabriel Boylan.)
Brooklyn’s The Epochs have paid their dues, right? After forming the band in 2000, Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay spent three years recording their first album, and then slapped it with the cringe-inducing title of Ten Billion Light Years of Solitude. The next several years were spent passing it out on street corners and at shows and giving it away for free on their Web site. Factor in a brief detour that took them to Seattle and found them modest radio exposure, and they’re now back with their sophomore effort, which is self-titled. Smart choice! A quote from their Web site from a fan: ““Another great band out of Brooklyn, The Epochs are making music that sounds like what Justin Timberlake would be doing if he had skipped his Mickey Mouse Club and Boy Band origins and simply focussed on creating catchy falsetto driven pop songs.” Damn you, Mickey Mouse Club!