Q&A: Gotye on weird samples, dream collaborations, and performing a mega-hit

Gotye: Making MirrorsGotye: Making Mirrors (Universal Republic, 1/31/12)

In early 2012, Australian singer/songwriter Wally De Backer — a.k.a. Gotye — exploded across American media thanks to the pop wonderment of “Somebody That I Used to Know.” For the better part of the year, the song was impossible to miss, and for good reason. But the causeway of hooks, timbres, and samples on Making Mirrors proved that there’s more to Gotye than one hit — even if that hit always gets the crowd going.

Other than the metal fence on “Eyes Wide Open,” what’s the weirdest thing that you’ve sampled?

I sampled some antique slab spoons on a mobile that I found in an antique shop. I sampled a music box on [“Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You”] — sampled the sound of winding it up and letting it spin down with the different notes, and kind of made a manual vibrato on it by opening and closing the lid as it was playing into the microphone.

Buke & Gase

Q&A: Buke & Gase on homemade instruments, unconventionality, and doing it all live

Buke & Gase: General DomeBuke & Gase: General Dome (Brassland, 1/29/13)


Buke & Gase: “Hiccup”

In late January, the idiosyncratic girl/guy duo Buke & Gase, comprised of Arone Dyer on baritone ukulele and Aron Sanchez on guitar-bass, released its second full-length, General Dome. The album solidifies the pair’s knack for producing distorted, askew prog-folk via instrumental inventions and experimentations. Sanchez took a moment from his busy schedule to talk to us about the band’s move from Brooklyn to upstate New York, what influenced the band’s sophomore LP, and what self-created instruments offer that conventional ones don’t.

Atoms for Peace

Review: Atoms for Peace’s Amok looks forward, not back

Atoms for Peace: AmokAtoms for Peace: Amok (XL, 2/26/13)

“Judge, Jury, and Executioner”

Atoms for Peace: “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”

You know the story by now: A few years ago, Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke started a band to help him perform songs from his 2006 solo effort, The Eraser, live. One thing led to another, and now he’s made the band into a full-fledged project that includes longtime producer/visionary Nigel Godrich and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, as well as Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco. Needless to say, there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this one.

Grizzly Bear

Review: Grizzly Bear’s Shields

Grizzly Bear: ShieldsGrizzly Bear: Shields (Warp, 9/18/12)

“Sleeping Ute”

Grizzly Bear: “Sleeping Ute”

In 2009, Brooklyn-based Grizzly Bear became a mainstay of artsy indie rock with its breakthrough effort, Veckatimest, which added to the band’s already gorgeous, distinct sound. Three years later, the vocally adept and sonically diverse quartet is back with Shields, an album even more assured of the band’s signature style.


Review: Menomena’s Moms

Menomena: MomsMenomena: Moms (Barsuk, 9/18/12)


Menomena: “Capsule”

At the beginning of 2012, when multi-instrumentalist/co-singer Brent Knopf left quirk-rock trio Menomena, the future of the Portland band felt uncertain. Knopf’s tenor perfectly complemented Justin Harris’s and Danny Seim’s vocals, and his guitar work helped structure Menomena songs into hook-ridden frameworks.

But within just the first few minutes of Moms, the first Menomena release as a two-piece, it’s quite clear that Menomena will be just fine. For the most part, the classic Menomena tropes remain: Seim’s sporadic and intricate drumming, Harris’s swelling saxophone and bass lines, and a swarm of slow-burning strings, sprinkling keys, and hazy harmonies. Even the unconventional guitar work is in place, making it almost feel like Knopf never left. There’s seldom a hiccup or misstep, with standout tracks like “Pique,” “Baton,” and “Skintercourse,” among others, serving as stepping stones through a lagoon of sweltering rock-outs and bipolar dirges.


Review: Calexico’s Algiers

Going on four years without a proper album, Arizona-based Calexico is back with Algiers, and not since 2003’s Feast of Wire has the band been so immediately accessible.

Dirty Projectors

Review: Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo MagellanDirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan (Domino, 7/10/12)

“Gun Has No Trigger”

Dirty Projectors: “Gun Has No Trigger”

Earlier this year, when Dirty Projectors offered a stream of the new song “Gun Has No Trigger,” it felt like the band was fending off fans, critics, and music blogs with a stick — keeping them at bay, buying more time to wrap up more songs. Ever since the release of its schizo-indie breakthrough, Bitte Orca, in 2009, the band has become a bearer of the “most anticipated album” tag, as the expectations for follow-up Swing Lo Magellan have swelled to ridiculous proportions.

Jesca Hoop

Review: Jesca Hoop’s The House That Jack Built

Jesca Hoop: The House That Jack BuiltJesca Hoop: The House That Jack Built (Bella Union, 6/26/12)

“Born To”

Jesca Hoop: “Born To”

Northern California-born signer/songwriter Jesca Hoop (a current resident of Manchester, England) has made quite the impression on people in high places. Garnering endorsements from the likes of Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Peter Gabriel, and Tom Waits (for whom she used to nanny, and who has described her music as being “like going swimming in a lake at night”), Hoop has established herself as well-crafted songstress who relies on her strong voice and pop sensibilities to impel her songs forward. But the support from her tried-and-true forebears isn’t unfounded; on her new album, The House That Jack Built, Hoop disinters the raw talent and musical vision to back up all the hype surrounding her.

Marissa Nadler

Review: Marissa Nadler’s The Sister

Marissa Nadler: The Sister

Marissa Nadler: The Sister (Box of Cedar, 5/29/12)

“The Wrecking Ball Company”

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Last year, Boston-based singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler released an album that oozed with sad-stringed lamentations and haunting folk dreamscapes. The self-titled release solidified Nadler’s brand of elegant and convoluted spook-folk. Each track let listeners delve a little deeper into her mysterious songwriting realm: part fairy tale, part dirge, part diary entry. The album was readily equipped with intricate acoustic finger-picking, sonorous harmonies, and melancholic modishness. More importantly, though, it established Nadler’s voice as a dominant force in indie folk, giving her a leg up on many of her peers.

Beach House

Review: Beach House’s Bloom

Beach House: Bloom

Beach House: Bloom (Sup Pop, 5/15/12)


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Two years ago, Baltimore-based dream-pop duo Beach House released its best effort to date with Teen Dream. The album took the band’s gift for crafting atmospheric, melancholic synth pop to an entirely new level. The band’s writing was tighter, cleaner. The songs themselves were suffused with nostalgia and heartbreak. It took the band’s signature style — droning organs, echoing guitars, digitized beats, and gorgeous vocals and lyrics — and refined them to the point where a successful followup seemed unlikely.

Jack White

Review: Jack White’s Blunderbuss

Jack White: Blunderbuss

Jack White: Blunderbuss (Third Man / Columbia)

“Sixteen Saltines”

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For the past decade, Jack White always has felt like some sort of enigmatic miracle worker. Or perhaps “warlock” or “witch doctor” are more appropriate terms. But any way you slice it, the result has been the same: White has been able to (A) build something large out of very little and (B) bring focus and resolve to a kaleidoscope of different influences and styles when collaborating with peers.

La Sera

Pop Addict: La Sera’s Sees the Light

Every other week, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.

La Sera: Sees the LightLa Sera: Sees the Light (Hardly Art, 3/27/12)

La Sera: “Please Be My Third Eye”

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When she’s not making lo-fi garage rock as the bassist of Brooklyn trio Vivian Girls, Katy Goodman has been keeping busy with her solo project, La Sera. Last year’s solid self-titled debut showed a more pared-down side to Goodman, as the album was loaded with an arsenal of dreamy indie folk. This year, La Sera has shifted directions a bit, and her latest effort, Sees The Light, is packed full of upbeat, peppy indie-pop gems.