David Stükenberg recommends Fyfe Dangerfield of The Guillemots

David-Stükenberg and Fyfe Dangerfield

David-Stükenberg and Fyfe Dangerfield

David Stükenberg’s artist recommendation: “My recommendation is Fyfe Dangerfield and his band The Guillemots because they create beautifully crafted melodies that catches you off guard and skillfully switches direction. Lyrically, Dangerfield always rides a fine line between heartbreak, nostalgia, and a pure uninhibited vibrancy that I have only heard in a very select few artists. Last but not least, from a production/arrangement standpoint, the music is the perfect blend of dark experimental, classical, and pop-dance-ability. I will buy everything Guillemots releases. I actually travelled to Berlin, Germany just to finally catch a show!”

New to Fyfe Dangerfield and The Guillemots? David recommends you start here: I’d recommend checking Through the Window Pane to a new listener. It’s definitely their most complete thought as a full album. It’s all over the map musically but manages to have a perfect flow to it, almost like a 68-minute opera. It incorporates an impressive spectrum of emotion from beginning to end. This would definitely be my “desert island record.”

* Be sure to check Fyfe Dangerfield’s recommendation essay about Anywhen right here on Rocktorch.com

David Stükenberg About our guest author, David Stükenberg: Hailing from Austin, TX, David Stükenberg fronts, you guessed it, a band called Stükenberg, which is releasing its third album, Novella (pre-order here) on Nov. 12. Take a listen to the single Home below (the single is currently being played on over 140 radio stations, by the way) and you’ll be taken in by the earwormish banjo (Deliverance, anyone?) that gives way to the radio-friendly chorus. David classifieds his sound as Appalachian rock. Any way you label it, Stükenberg’s timing couldn’t be better as it synchs perfectly with the resurgence of soaring folk that was started by Frightened Rabbit and has been kidnapped by the Mumfords. David’s tunes and lyrics, however, skew a bit darker than what is saturating your radio dial and the new album is a well planned out, cohesive collection. It’s been three years since Stükenberg’s last record and the band culled through 35 songs or so to bring you this expertly refined album. “Each track represents a new character in the greater story of Novella,” said David. “As individuals, they express themselves differently. So, too, do their songs.” Be sure check out the official Stükenberg web site for Facebook links, videos and more. And, be sure to check David’s Kickstarter page and contribute to help him promote the new album. Come on, help an indie out!

Jared Molyneux of The Shivas recommends TodaysHits

Jared Molyneux of the Shivas and James Swanberg of TodaysHits

Jared Molyneux of the Shivas and James Swanberg of TodaysHits

Jared Molyneux’s artist recommendation: “I want to tell you all about one of my favorite bands, TodaysHits (pronounced Today’s Hits) from Chicago, Illinois. The first thing that I usually tell people about the band is that James Swanberg, the principal member of the group, writes, records and posts online to Tumblr one song every day. The second thing is that now, James is nearing his 1,000th day.

I first encountered the band on a trip to Chicago a few years back, only a couple hundred days into the project. At that point the band was just James on the mic and playing a Casio. Soon after it absorbed some guys from some of my other Chicago favorites, Magic Milk and The Sueves, and since then it has grown so that now, aside from keeping to the song a day regimen, they run their own cassette label Tripp Tapes, tour the country, and have upcoming releases on Burger Records, Gnar Tapes and Randy Records.

Now, not only is it impressive to me that they are able to stick to writing a song a day for so long, but also the sheer number of true “hits” that come from the process. You might expect a song a day to produce a lot of filler to just get some material posted by midnight, but that is not the case with a lot of these pop gems. TodaysHits’ particular brand of rock and roll is well suited by many of the aspects of music production that their rapid pace necessitates. A song a day ensures a minimalism in instrumentation with the result bearing heavy resemblance to the 50’s jams that TodaysHits numbers always bring me back to. Also, a song a day means primarily home recording, nothing fancy, which makes it perfect. It sounds the way black and white TV looks, you see everything you need to, nothing more and nothing less. None of this hi-res, hi-fi, hi-def where a mole on Vin Diesel’s ass is visible from fifty yards … no one wants that. All this said, their live performance is even better than the recordings. Their melodies are relentlessly catchy and their lyrics are so clear and relatable that they completely entrance the audience. They don’t play very fast nor very loud, but they manage to get everyone’s hearts beating and feet moving.

I think the spirit of TodaysHits is well illustrated by the image of James’ apartment, which I saw recently for the first time. I knew he had lived there for a while, which is why when I first walked in I was surprised. It’s pretty much empty. It reminded me of the pictures of Syd Barrett in his empty apartment on the cover of Madcap Laughs. That’s when it became clear to me that all this guy does is write songs (both when he is and isn’t slinging bottles at the liquor store down the street). In the middle of the bare living room is a curious five foot tall stack of Olde English boxes. I asked him what they were for and he told me that this was the radio tower from which the hits are broadcasted to the world. This is the only place in the apartment he can get his neighbors’ internet in order to upload the songs. Throughout the course of the project, speaker and headphone jacks have broken, computers have broken, mixes have been done blindly, but equipment breaking never means missing a day.”

New to TodaysHits? Jared suggests you start here: “With TodaysHits, aside from the undeniably catchy stripped down songs that are in extreme abundance, it is the spirit of the whole thing that captures me. See for yourself, you can find all of their songs archived on the TodaysHits Tumblr as well as some favorites catalogued into collections on TodaysHits Band Camp page. Also, look out for their new tape “Gourmet Jerks” out soon on Burger Records and Gnar Tapes and their new 7” on Randy.”

Jared MolyneuxAbout our guest author, Jared Molyneux: When listening to this year’s Music Fest NW broadcast, KEXP broadcasters announced that we’d be hearing a set from their ‘favorite new band.’ Rock Torch HQ sat in a hush waiting for the band name to be revealed. And…it’s…THE SHIVAS, and they killed it at MFNW. We were late to learning about the band, so big thanks to KEXP for schooling us about these guys. They’re garage, surf, harmonized, low-fi, retro and most important of all, fun to listen to. The Shivas (whose name is taken from the Hindu god of destruction and restoration) hails from Portland, OR and recently released a fantastic LP, Whiteout! on K Records. They also impressively won the opening slot on a slew of dates opening for The Dandy Warhols. Now that KEXP has effectively spread the word, you have no excuse – get on board with this very great band. Check The Shivas website for tour info, news and more.

Matthew Sweet recommends Alex Chilton and Big Star

Matthew Sweet and Big Star

Matthew Sweet and Big Star

Matthew Sweet’s recommendation: “A band I really continue to dig is Big Star. I would suggest their Radio City album as a start, but also the off-the-rails followup, Third (also called Sister Lovers). #1 Record is also a classic, and features tremendous stuff by band mate Chris Bell. Alex Chilton had a commanding slant in the delivery of his various personal sides, and was as unafraid of extreme musical intimacy as he was delivering a raging rant. In this regard, Alex, to me, was like a John Lennon, someone who put all his feelings into song and had a great courage in his reaching. Beyond all this, crazy great guitars and drums are to be had throughout Big Star’s work. I highly recommend checking them out!”

Related: Paul Westerberg, Craig Finn and others on the passing of Alex Chilton

Matthew SweetAbout our guest author, Matthew Sweet: You simply cannot talk about ’90s alternative music without recognizing the impact of Matthew Sweet. Literally there from the beginning, he worked with Michael Stipe pre-R.E.M., was in a band with Stipe’s sister in the ’80s and then went on to put out THE definitive power pop album (a claim that is backed up by this AV Club article with more accolades at the bottom of this post), Girlfriend, in 1991. From there came excellent guitar driven follow-ups, but Sweet also collaborated on the harmony drenched Thorns record (with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins) and teamed up with Susanna Hoffs to record a pair of excellent cover records. In conjunction with the twentieth anniversary of Girlfriend, Sweet is back with a new collection titled Modern Art, an album that oozes with Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and Big Star flavors. Matthew is on tour now, supporting his new record and playing past favorites.

MP3: She Walks the Night by Matthew Sweet

More Praise for Girlfriend:
* Included in Rolling Stone’s Essential Recordings of the 90′s
* Included in Q’s list of the 50 Best Albums Of 1992

Ariel Aparicio recommends Richard Butler and The Psychedelic Furs

Ariel Aparicio and The Psychedelic Furs

Ariel Aparicio and The Psychedelic Furs

Ariel Aparicio’s recommendation: “Richard Butler, or as I called him back in college “God,” has a voice like no other. Leader of the quintessential pop/punk/goth band of the ’80s, The Psychedelic Furs, Butler’s rasp and poetry has left an indelible mark on Rock & Roll. The Furs have a sound all their own – dark yet sexy, driving yet melodic, hypnotic yet invigorating. But the voice is the stand out instrument. No one sings like Butler. Plus, no one is as mesmerizing in performance. I had the honor of playing with The Furs’ current drummer, Paul Garristo, who’s been with them since the mid-’80s. He’s shared quite a few choice stories with me. When I covered their classic Pretty in Pink a few years ago, Richard himself ( I mean “God”) managed to hear it and approved. “I loved it,” he said. Needless to say, I melted. ”

New to The Psychedelic Furs? Ariel suggests you start here: “The Psychedelic Furs second record, Talk Talk Talk continues to blow me away 30 years later. Brilliant songwriting and an exquisite delivery. It has the rawness and full-frontal assault of any punk record, but with melodies that could be sung by Sinatra. When you listen to Richard sing, you hear others in his style but at the same time, it’s totally unique. That falsetto melts your heart. This band and this record will rip out your heart and then gently put it right back in.”

Ariel AparicioAbout our guest author, Ariel Aparicio: Ariel has been building a cult following in New York City for years. This eclectic Latino/rock & roller who is proud to proclaim equal love for punk, Gang of Four and Madonna has five albums under his belt and his most recent release, Aerials can be best summed up by the songwriter’s description of “…a dance record, but with all guitars.” Our personal favorite track is Sorry which features Lisa Germano (who you may remember as John Mellencamp’s fiddle player but you should, as other music nerds will, remember her for her outstanding solo records). Viewers of Logo TV will know Aparicio from his hotly requested videos, Pretty In Pink (clip below) and his version of Jim Carroll’s classic People Who Died. Be sure to check Ariel’s tour page for upcoming appearances and visit his official site to sign up for his Twitter feed and more.