Wild Cub, Soft Swells, Rare Times

Youth is a collection of captured moments...
like moving photographs: late night drives, the limitless feeling of falling in love, the freedom of finding a true friend and co-conspirator in an immense world, the cool ocean meeting your toes on a hot summer's day. A simmering mix of bass, synths, drums, and frontman Keegan DeWitt's low and soft, yet urgent vocals, lead track "Shapeless" sets the evocative and cinematic tone that permeates the album. The taut dreaminess of "Straight No Turns" and "Hidden In The Night" evolve into sensuous, dancefloor-ready electro-pop, while "Jonti" – with its soaring, cathartic chorus "I see it now, it's brighter when the lights are out" – and "Wild Light" – all quirky, staccato organ and lyrical guitar-led charm – are playful art pop sing-alongs. The rich, melancholic soundscape of "Drive" highlights Youth's moody romantic atmosphere. Produced in collaboration with musician (Tallest Trees) and photographer Dabney Morris, and mixed with Ephraim Nagler (You Are Plural, The Velvet Teen), the album combines live takes and programmed sounds, and was recorded digitally before the files were run through a TASCAM 4-track tape recorder, often used for intimate home demos.

Wild Cub is centered on film composer (Cold Weather, Dance Party USA) and singer/songwriter (2009's LP Islands, 2010's Nothing Shows EP and Two Hearts/Reluctance 7") DeWitt, and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock (Pico vs. Island Trees, Jessie Baylin, Madi Diaz). They toured most of 2011 under DeWitt's name, who'd gotten good press attention from AOL Music's Spinner, FilterMagazine.com, My Old Kentucky Blog, Paste ('Best New Solo Artists of 2010'), Popmatters, and Vogue.com, among others: hitting SXSW, New York Fashion Week (for designer Billy Reid), and the CMJ Music Marathon; and touring with Jeremy Messersmith and on the 4th Daytrotter Barnstormer tour alongside artists including Sondre Lerche and Guards, among other shows. Wild Cub was officially born upon returning home last fall, and Youth was written and recorded over two months in Bullock's house, which was turned into a multi-room studio.

After already catching the eye and ear of their hometown press (Nashville Cream has praised Wild Cub's "intricate melodic pop": "…don't ask how, but the Chris Martin-meets-'Bastards of Young' melody on the first of three new songs hit that elusive sweet spot of melody plus sing-along that every pop-based band should aim for"), the band is now beginning to catch attention from national press including American Songwriter, Paste, and RCRD LBL ("Straight No Turns" song premiere), and also performed at Bonnaroo in June.

Soft Swells

You know, not every band born on the sunny shores of the west coast winds up sounding like the Beach Boys. Take for instance the indie-pop surf-inspired Soft Swells. Named after the smaller, smoother waves Tim Williams (the singer/songwriter behind the LA based band) looks for when he is surfing, Soft Swells is an upbeat, poppier take on indie music. You could attribute Tim “falling in love and finding true happiness” as the reason for the hopeful slant on his newest release, an EP entitled Lifeboats. Perhaps you are already familiar with the song and EP, as they have been featured in a recent nationwide ad campaign for Best Buy (if you skip fast-forwarding commercials on the TiVO once in a while, you’d be amazed what you can learn). Mostly recorded in Tim’s Los Feliz apartment and producer Dave Lynch’s studio in Lewes, England (as well as some pick-up sessions in Hollywood and Ann Arbor, MI) Soft Swells recordings are achieved by Tim and Dave “sending parts back and forth.” Sure Tim does all of the writing, but this puddle jumping collaboration works amazingly well for the band. Tim creates the songs, then off to Dave for some sound rounding-out and polish. The new EP features a remix of the original “Lifeboats” track by Jon Visger (Absofacto, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), a few more original tunes and even a cover of T-Rex’s “Children of a Revolution.”

Having released three solo albums with NYC based Dovecote Records, Tim wasn’t sure what he would do next with his music when circumstances moved him from NY to Nashville to his current place in LA. Without a band in mind, he started writing songs again, and after playing them for Chip and Erin Adams at Modern Outsider, was convinced that he should head into the recording studio. In February of 2012 Soft Swells released their first album to the acclaim of everyone from MTV to TIME magazine and USA Today to Consequence of Sound. Influenced by the Brit-pop he loved growing up (Definitely Maybe was the first album that hit him in the chest) his obvious love of melodies, hooks and sentiment shine through with each track. Soft Swells plays to consistently packed houses in LA with an incredible live band featuring Kyle Frederickson, Matt Mayhall and Christopher Pappas that brings to life the meticulous studio sound perfected by Tim and Dave. And keep an eye out (or two if you can spare ‘em) for the video for “Lifeboats,” directed by Anthony Garth and featuring O’Neill surf team member Bree Kleintop.

Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has said “once the music leaves your head it’s already compromised.” That’s fine if you feel like music is an entirely personal endeavor for the artist. Tim certainly doesn’t feel that way. “I don’t think a song or recording is completed until it hits someone’s ears… The experience is only complete when a listener gives their input – a smile, a head nodding or whatever reaction a person has.”

Rare Times

Rare Times's Don't Stray is one of those songs that you hear at the start of the year and know you will still be playing at the end. It is a near-classic of smooth soulfulness with a despondent late-night ambience, and a hint of the drama that results from the threat of an affair. It was created in Alameda Towers, a warehouse filled with porn studios and sweatshops in Los Angeles, and some of that sepia sleaziness creeps into the song's atmosphere. It was made by a jazz pianist, an electronic producer, a percussionist and a guitarist, and all of those elements are evident on the track, even if its surfaces are so polished it is sometimes hard to tell.

It is probably easier to tell that it is the work of a band influenced equally by kind-of-blue jazz (Chet Baker, say), 1980s/1990s R&B (Keith Sweat is their favourite) and digital disco (Metro Area's self-titled 2002 album is sublimely relevant to the music under scrutiny). Don't Stray – about a man trying to control his impulse to cheat on his girlfriend – also makes us think of the late-night soul-pop of Sade. It has a similar air of languid melancholy. Weirdly, Rare Times don't look like smooth operators or refugees from the suaver parts of London's club culture, they look like an indie band, all vests and shades, GG$ sweatshirts and Levis, straggly hair and scruffy beards. And yet they sound as though they'd resemble Robert Palmer's slightly more debonair older brothers, sipping dry martinis after another night of empty seduction in the penthouses of downtown LA.

No One's Looking Out, the first track on their debut Missionary EP – the first of three to come this year – finds the missing link between mellifluous jazz-pop and chillwave, like Michael Bublé in a bubble-bath with Washed Out. "You know that I'm gonna come back around," promises singer (crooner) Anthony Calonico, adding: "No pressure, don't worry," before ever so slightly losing his cool: "You know that I don't want to fuck around." The urge to share his affections with the female population of Little Tokyo increases on Don't Stray, a deeper foray into downtempo electronic balladry and, at seven minutes and 45 seconds, an epic of etiolated rhythm and sorrow. Immaculately produced, spaciously arranged, it's like the designer apartment of a mid-1980s lothario in here. Slow jam of the year. Nice one, Rare Times. Maybe they can buy some new clothes to celebrate.

$10.00

Tickets

add to your calendar

Who’s Going

Upcoming Events
The Satellite

Ticketfly

Wild Cub, Soft Swells, Rare Times

Wednesday, July 31 · Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:00 PM at The Satellite