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“Teens Of Denial” Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest

Teens of Denial  Album Review

Matador Records

Genre: Indie Rock, Lo-Fi Rock

Released May 20, 2016

Reflecting on the past year in college is the only time where reflection has made me worry more. It’s the last four years that separate me from REAL LIFE. The past 20 years have been relatively structured and the thought of being really on my own is a little unsettling. Thankfully, we have artists like Will Toledo and his band Car Seat Headrest to help synthesize these realities. Teens Of Denial is just the right combination of real angst and real musicianship, and although the album may be one song too long, CSH deliver a solid indie rock album for this generation of scared college students.

Will’s lyrics read like a conversation with a close friend from high school. The moods range from outrageously humorous to very depressing. One song, (“The Ballad of the Costa Concordia”) ends with him admitting defeat to everything, while “1937 State Park,” is bisected by the hilarious lines “High school teen dream dies in the hospital/Leaves behind a journal and a pair of Air Jordans.” Obviously, there is a lot of well-written material stringing these emotions and anecdotes together. The fact that there IS so much is the one major flaw in Teens of Denial.

The lengthy songs (5 songs clock in between 6 and 11 minutes) are all necessary and well-composed, but one or two of the 5 minutes songs could have been omitted or shortened to convey the same ideas. Will creativly plays on The Cars’ smash hit, “Just What I Needed” in his song, “Not What I Needed,” by playing with the same tempo and a similar chord progression but deliver a message that totally contrasts from the message and mood from the original song. The musicianship is solid 90s indie-rock worship, occasionally throwing in fancy instruments over this relatively lo-fi production. “Fill In The Blank” has tasty horns that flavor the song nicely.

Teens Of Denial has many good songs and no bad songs, although there aren’t any songs that completely change the indie rock game. It’s a fun and very real listen regardless.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Fill In the Blank, The Ballad of the Costa Concordia

LEAST FAV TRACK: Connect The Dots

SCORE: (7.7/10)

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“Plays The Music of Twin Peaks” Xiu Xiu

Xiu Xiu

Plays The Music of Twin Peaks

Polyvinyl/Bella Union

Genre: Experimental Rock, Dark Ambient, Drone, Noise Rock, Jazz(?),

Released April 16, 2016

Noise pop/experimental rock outfit Xiu Xiu have been making provocative and notorious waves with their disturbing and raw records of drone and dark ambient of the experimental nature. Their latest record however, is a set of reimagined and creatively covered tracks from David Lynch’s critically acclaimed 90s cult TV series Twin Peaks. Xiu Xiu masterfully insert their musical aesthetic into Angelo Badalementi’s iconic compositions giving these songs an entirely new form, and a new face of the surreal.

Classic tracks like “Laura Palmer’s Theme” and “Audrey’s Dance” are covered with added atmosphere by way of insidious instrumentation and production  (synths, bells, reverb). While the songs on the original soundtrack were equally as sinister and spooky, these new songs come off as overtly disturbing and surreal. Now, fans of the show know Lynch’s trademark off-kilter tone amongst his work like in Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, which had a subtle yet undeniably unorthodox feel with the performances and tone of the aforementioned films. Xiu Xiu’s blatant twist on the songs takes away the obliqueness and subtlety of Badalementi’s original compositions. While this is a minor flaw, the songs still do their job to create a foggy, surreal, and unnerving atmosphere as delivered in the world of Twin Peaks.

The album’s highlight “Falling” changes the once crystalline and ethereal vocals with disturbingly disfigured vocals that give the song a whole new feeling of haunting doom. With noise rock tendencies and some bonus imaginative tracks (“Josie’s Past”), Xiu Xiu masterfully and tastefully pay homage to the world of Twin Peaks, while making it just as disturbing, dark, and powerful as their own records. If you’re a fan of the show and soundtrack, this is a record you don’t want to miss!

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: Laura Palmer’s Theme, Into The Night, Audrey’s Dance, Packard’s Vibration, Blue Frank/Pink Room, Dance of the Dream Man, Falling, Josie’s Past

LEAST FAV TRACK: Love Theme Farewell

SCORE: (8.6/10)

from the album "untitled.unmastered"

“untitled unmastered” Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

untitled umastered. Album Review

Tog Dawg Entertainment

Hip Hop, Jazz Rap

Released March 4, 2016

It looks like it’s going to be another year full of surprise releases. untitled unmastered. also dropped at the same time as Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz’s surprise release also. As expected, more buzz is surrounding Kendrick’s release, but be ready for surprises in music in 2016, surprises that don’t really pop up on this collection of tracks. untitled unmastered. is an enjoyable and solid experience just like any Kendrick project, but it doesn’t stand out among his other works…but I don’t think it’s supposed to.

We have very jazzy production all over this project, especially on tracks like “Untitled 05,” my personal favorite instrumental on the project. We also have introspective and unapologetic lyrics, typical of Kendrick anyway. We don’t really have anything we haven’t heard before from Mr. Duckworth. However, he’s made it clear that this is a sort of a “b-sides” collection from tracks that did not make it onto To Pimp A Butterfly. The songs are thematically not too divergent from each other, but they don’t really flow. I don’t feel like 08 is supposed to be a closer and 01 is supposed to kick things off. Everything is placed where it is, at least according to my thoughts, just because. The point is to just appease fans until the next big release.

With all of my theories out of the way, the music is more than satisfactory for a Kendrick release. 2 is a standout track as he plays so many different characters just by changing his flow and voice so much. This effect of changing his voice is as dramatic and effective as in “u,” providing a nice contrast between ideas and feelings. “1” is a nice brilliant play on book of revelations, but the outro just doesn’t make any sense in the context of this song. All of the songs, other than the weak outro that closes “7” and the too-short interlude, are pretty good. However, they’re not catchy in the slightest, which wouldn’t be a problem if it were a number of other rappers, but I expect the tracks to be somewhat catchy and more memorable after the first few listens. I think this draws from the lack of emphasis on choruses and beats that are more stagnant than what happened on To Pimp A Butterfly.

This is a super solid collection of B-sides, but don’t try to look at it as too much more than that.

PRETTY NEAT MUSIC

FAV TRACKS: 1, 2, 5

LEAST FAV TRACK:  7

SCORE: 8.0/10

 

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what the hell happened to Pretty Neat Grooves?

hi,

As you may have heard, we are back in business with the reviews, interviews, media coverage, news, etc. but, the real question still stands: where were we between the dates of March 9, 2016 and July 22, 2016? We missed a lot, we know, but we will catch up as we catch you up with what happened.

Aside from Pretty Neat Grooves, we finished our first year of college. Michael runs a student radio station at Georgetown University where he is an American Musical Culture major, in Washington D.C, and even helped schedule His Holiness himself Lil’ B The Based God for a concert and an interview. Jon currently attends University of North Texas as a film student, and is covering multiple shows and events around the Denton/Dallas area. He has busied himself working numerous film projects around Denton. Enough about us, back to the website debacle.

As some of you may know, hosting your own website isn’t easy, or cheap. while trying to be as discreet as possible, let’s just say technical difficulties  [domain/hosting cancellations, migration of data to new servers, switching hosting providers, getting money, computer breakdowns, school work/travel, personal struggles, laziness etc. etc.] TL;DR we have moved to a new hosting site and have locked in the payments for prettyneatgrooves.com to be up for the next three years. Now that’s good RIGHT? We will be here until 2019, delivering online news, reviews, interviews, media coverage, etc. well, not exactly; the four months of offline exile brought many questions to mind and shocking realizations followed as well.

What we started here is a passion project of musical discourse and opinionated coverage of music of the independent sensibility. It began with two audiophiles with lots of words to be said about music, and it slowly transformed into a network of writers, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, and you. We couldn’t have done it without everyone involved, and we definitely did not expect the site to grow this big and this comprehensive. With that being said, it is not necessarily what we hope to aspire as a job in the future or a lifelong career.

With us separated at different universities for the next four years or so – falling into different friend groups, habits, daily routines, passions, personal pursuits and daily struggles along with distance, school work, etc. – it’s been hard trying to keep up with Pretty Neat Grooves as much as we would like to. While we do love what we do on this site, we realize that our careers and adulthood are right around the corner which means that, as of now, we are looking at the final three years of Pretty Neat Grooves. (*sobs*) Unless something comes up, we hope to continue on fulfilling this website’s purpose as best as we can. But as of now, we are paying out of pockets to keep it up and sacrificing countless hours reviewing, interviewing, and covering music in all of its essence whether it be live or on vinyl.

We want to thank you for the wild ride this has been these past three years (this September) we’ve had experiences and have met people we will never forget. we hope this isn’t the end, and we hope you will join us for the remainder of this ride.

Support us here, with merch, donations, etc. We greatly appreciate it; every cent goes to keeping this site afloat. Thank You!

Keep It Neat Always,

Jon Birondo & Michael White, Co-Founders of Pretty Neat Grooves

Jon Birondo

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Michael White (left)

 

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“Future Present Past EP” The Strokes

The Strokes

Future Present Past EP Review

Cult

Genre: Indie Rock, New Wave

Released June 3, 2016

 

One of the greatest alternative rock bands to come from the 2000s internet boom, and one whose presence has been dwindling ever since, returned early June with an EP – pleasing many fans. However, it feels that the band still can’t find their footing and they manage to stir up familiar territory already visited on Angles, Comedown Machine,  and on lead vocalist Julian Casablancas’ solo record Tyranny.

The Strokes debut Is This It? proved that the band knew their roots and how to bring it back in a tasteful and game-changing manner. However, this EP shows little progress in the band’s style; same old precise yet rustic drum rhythms, ear-worm riffs with ‘level 6’ distortion, downstroke chords, and Casablancas’ trademark growl occupy a majority of these four tracks.

“Drag Queen” is a nice welcome/opener and, while not being anything game changing, is still a solid tune. “OBLIVIUS” is a jumpy track with a New Wave feel that will usher in some dancing that only elevates once the chorus comes through. Closing the EP, drummer Fabrizio Moretti remixes “OBLIVIUS” with an interesting electronic flair.

While some tracks are enjoyable, the EP is nothing more than a sample of what’s to come. LEt’s hope there’s more on the way that can surpass this minuscule sample from one of alternative rock’s most beloved bands.

FAV TRACKS: OBLIVIUS

LEAST FAV TRACK: Threat of Joy

SCORE: (5.5/10)

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“Painting With” Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Painting With Album Review

Domino Recording Company

Released February 19th, 2016

Genre: Experimental Pop, Electronic, Psychedelic Pop

Since the turn of this century, you could say that no other band has had a more diverse discography than Animal Collective. From the pretty acoustic sounds of  Sung Tongs to the chaotic and playful jams of Strawberry Jam to the grand and dense trippy hits of their cult-smash album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin have made some of the most widely praised and celebrated experimental pop and electronic music of the 21st century.

On Painting With, Animal Collective (with the exception of Deakin, who’s sitting this album out) deliver their most accessible and direct album yet. However, this may seem to be their downfall with this project. The opener, “Floridada”, is an excellent track that sounds like a glitched-out Beach Boys song. “The Burglars” is an exciting and trippy song that sounds like it came from a futuristic videogame. And the song “Golden Gal” provides one of Panda Bear’s best vocal performances in a while backed by an uplifting, danceable beat. Unfortunately, some of the songs here just sound too simple and too similar, especially for Animal Collective.

For a good bit of the album, the band plays around with the alternating vocal effects that Panda Bear experimented with on his latest solo album, Panda Bear Meets The Grim ReaperOn some tracks, it complements the song, while on others it starts to sound very unnecessary. And many tracks here just don’t offer the usual psychedelic effects and sounds that AC fans have come to expect. Tracks like “Lying in The Grass”, “On Delay”, and “Spilling Guts” breeze by with the alternating vocal effect and a simple beat. However, many songs here do offer some interesting ideas and rhythms never presented by the group before.

Overall, it may be AC’s least experimental release yet. But it does offer what they always bring to the table with each subsequent album, a new style and a new direction.

FAV TRACKS: Floridada, The Burglars, Golden Gal, Vertical

LEAST FAV TRACKS: Lying in The Grass, On Delay, Spilling Guts

SCORE: (7.3/10)