In today’s fickle, post-Pitchfork world, each new band can start to feel like the latest chillwave flavor of the month. In the ambiguous sea of lo-fi turned glo-fi turned back to shoegaze whatever, it is important to give certain bands the distinction they deserve.
Phantogram duo Joshua Carter and Sarah Barthel are a reminder that, behind the indie genre’s similarities, there are subtle but important shifts in influences and backgrounds. Conceived on an isolated farm in Upstate New York, their debut album, Eyelid Movies, is the lovechild of 90’s hip-hop beats and urban dream-pop.
Phantogram have already passed through San Diego twice this year — the first time opening for The Antlers at the Casbah and, more recently, opening for The XX at House of Blues, and we can’t wait for them to come back. We spoke with Sarah Barthel after their House of Blues performance, and we also caught up with her later via email. Continue reading…
In the 1960s the average band enjoyed fame for a couple of months, if that, before people’s attention shifted to the next rising (and soon to be falling) stars. Being a one-hit wonder wasn’t a failure, it was the norm, and accomplishments by bands like The Beatles and The Kinks were rendered all the more impressive by the fact that any kind of longevity was exceptional, and enjoyed by only a small percentage of groups.
Not much has changed since then: nowadays most bands—particularly in the realm of indie rock—still amount to little more than passing fads, soaking up their proverbial fifteen minutes before succumbing to irrelevance. But one thing that has been accelerated by the internet is that entire genres seem to rise and fall in the space of a few months, leaving up-and-coming groups scrambling to tap into the next sound du jour and ride the
Wavves waves of recognition before they fizzle out.
Then there are bands who are content to just create great music. Unfazed by meaningless trends, they place emphasis on great songwriting, captivating melodies, and a distinctive but inviting sound. They may not get drooled over by Pitchfork (and if they do, it’s only so long until P4K’s drool runs dry and the inevitable backlash begins), but they do create a body of work that speaks for itself, and will outlast the one-MP3 wonders that permeate the blogosphere. San Diego’s The Moviegoers are one of those bands, and though they may not auto-tune their vocals or mangle their guitars with lo-fi crunch, they do create moving, memorable songs accented by rich harmonies and understated confidence. And that never goes out of style. Continue reading
Pitchfork is known for swinging wide. It’s not uncommon for the taste-making website to build up a band’s reputation with a glowing review of one record, only to single-handedly destroy the group on their follow-up. Continue reading
Many bands toil for years, chasing a fame that, for most of them, will never come. But what of the bands who achieve instant recognition, without all the years of honing their talents? San Diego’s Wavves is just such a band.
After being plucked from obscurity by a “Best New Music” review from the music gods at Pitchfork, the band has found itself traveling Europe, playing for throngs of adoring fans. Prompted by the band’s success, Rolling Stone is reportedly planning a feature on the San Diego music scene, despite the fact that most San Diegans had never heard of the band before they won the P4K lottery.
Now, it appears that Wavves could have used a little more time to perfect their routine before striking it big. According to Pitchfork, the band recently “self-destructed” during a performance at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
The transition from playing essentially no shows at all in San Diego to facing down thousands of screaming Spaniards can’t be an easy one, and no one can blame the band for cashing in on their newfound internet fame. But maybe people shouldn’t put so much stock in the cold, fickle hype machine that is Pitchfork, especially when it propels overrated bands into a realm of stardom they are unprepared for. There are easily twenty bands in San Diego more talented, professional, and seasoned than Wavves, all of them worthy of large-scale recognition. But, until the Pitchfork gods shine down on them, the world probably won’t care.