Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Beards of Modern Music, Vol. 2

This series is all about bearded guys making mighty fine music. There's a facial hair renaissance going on out there, folks. Check out these beards, but stick around for the sound.

PAPA. This is a collaboration between Los Angeles natives and childhood pals Darren Weiss and Daniel Presant. (Their live shows include brother Evan Weiss and keyboardist Alex Fischel.) In a 2013 interview with indie and hip hop blog Pidgeons & Planes, these guys were asked to describe PAPA in five words or less. Presant said, "Spicy bold amoeba sexy chocolate." Weiss showed mischievous confidence: "Your sexiest nightmare." I was tempted to roll my eyes, but after hearing their music, I'm inclined to agree with both of them. The sound is vibrant, ingratiating, ambitious indie pop -- occasionally raucous and sometimes poetic. Weiss sings and drums barefooted; Presant claims he took hip hop classes to augment his stage presence. Their music is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. PAPA's website is here.

The duo behind PAPA: Darren Weiss (left) & Daniel Presant
Song & Video: "Put Me to Work"

Four Year Strong. Formed in Worcester, Massachusetts back in 2001, these guys have released four albums since 2005. They call their sound "popcore," meaning post hardcore pop punk. It's riotous and rambunctious, as if they're loaded up on energy drinks, but the lyrics are accessible and you can sense they're having great fun. It's easy to dismiss bands like this as mediocre and loud, but the stripped-down acoustic songs they've released prove these guys are very talented musicians. The dueling vocal work between lead singers Dan O'Connor and Alan Day is especially cool. They tour extensively, play lots of festivals and put on a helluva live show. You can find their music on iTunes and SoundCloud. Go here for their website.

Four Year Strong, left to right: Joe Weiss, Josh Lyford, Dan O'Connor, Alan Day, Jake Massucco
(Lyford left in 2011 when the band's sound evolved past the need for a keyboardist.)

Song & Video: "Tonight We Feel Alive (On a Saturday)"

John Grant. In 2010, Grant released a critically acclaimed album entitled Queen of Denmark, which Mojo magazine called the best album of the year. The following year he found out he was HIV+ and subsequently disclosed his status to an audience at London's Meltdown Festival. In the summer of 2013, he told HIV Plus magazine: "I talked about it because I was about to sing a song that I'd written about it, and I didn't know if I should say anything. And at that moment, I was like, you know what, it's no big deal. There's millions of people dealing with this... I don't feel like I should be ashamed of it." His next release, Pale Green Ghosts, was a collection of excellent folk/alternative/electronica songs that was easily one of the best albums of 2013. It's an intoxicating mix of visceral truth, fascinating intimacy and devilish wit. His music is available on iTunes, Spotify and Rhapsody. Go here for his website.

John Grant

Song & Video: "GMF"(It's not particularly safe for work. GMF stands for greatest mother fucker.)

You can check out volume one in this series here.

No comments:

Post a Comment