New Indie Music: From Franz Ferdinand To Big Black Delta

Sep 9, 2013

KCRW’s DJ Travis Holcombe joins us regularly to play some of the music that’s been catching his ear.

This time, he is listening to new music from indie bands Franz Ferdinand, Larry Gus, Big Black Delta, and King Khan and the Shrines.

Songs Played In This Segment

Guest

 

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JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW.

And every so often, we're joined by Travis Holcombe, DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica, California. He's here to share some new music, and we start with "Born To Die." This is off the new album by King Khan and the Shrines.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN TO DIE")

KING KHAN: (Singing) Let me strip my head. Numb it out into a sacred layer. There's the living jail with the ashes of my own hair. Talk about angel loss, mystics told his soul is fully gloved. Well, here we go. The only hope that's left is in our home.

HOBSON: So, Travis, tell us about King Khan and the Shrines the Shrines.

TRAVIS HOLCOMBE, BYLINE: So King Khan and the Shrines is the latest group formed by a Canadian artist named Arish Khan, which I guess is where he gets King Khan from. He seems to always be on tour. He's a guy with an outsized onstage persona. He definitely seems like he's always having fun with it. King Khan usually gets lumped in with their contemporaries. The Black Lips is leader of the newest garage rock revival wave, I guess.

HOBSON: So they're garage rock. This is the same kind of thing that we would've talked about with, say, Nirvana or The Strokes?

HOLCOMBE: Yeah, exactly. It's just - it's - the initial wave came after The Beatles sort of broken the mid-'60s when kids were just starting band literally in their garages and jamming out and playing their local circuits. And it's sort of been like a steady presence in the rock music world ever since then.

HOBSON: Well, let's listen to another. This is called "Better Luck Next Time."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME")

KHAN: Better luck next time. Better luck next time. Better luck next time. Better luck next time. Better luck next time. When will you learn?

HOBSON: So what is it that sticks out to you about this group, Travis?

HOLCOMBE: Well, it's just really fun music. And to me, I feel like this particular album, "Idle No More," kind of expands the repertoire of what King Khan is known for. They've always been very garage rock focused. But the live shows always had sort of a '60s soul review kind of vibe, and they have, like, the back-up singers with matching sequined outfits and a horn section. And even though the recorded - the previous recordings were very much just straight up garage rock, so this is kind of a case of the live presentation influencing the studio recording. So we're getting to see King Khan's recorded world expanding a little bit. This is a great gateway album if you've been sleeping on King Khan and just sort of explore new artist.

HOBSON: And King Khan is from Canada. Let's move now to Los Angeles where you are and the band the Big Black Delta. Let's take a listen first to "Money Rain Down."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY RAIN DOWN")

JONATHAN BATES: This must be heaven. I must be a fool. Roll up tomorrow wondering about you. This must be heaven. I must be a fool. Roll up tomorrow wondering about you.

HOBSON: Almost sounds like it's coming out of the '80s, Travis. Where did you hear about this group and what are they all about?

HOLCOMBE: It does. Well, it's - Big Black Delta is the brainchild of an L.A.-based artist named Jonathan Bates. And he's sort of been around the L.A. scene for the better part of the decade. He used to be in a local group here called Mellowdrone that was really good but never quite reached its full potential. But most recently, he's worked with an artist named - or a group named M83, and he was part of that group's touring band as the guitarist.

And the music he makes is kind of in a similar vein. It's like epic synthpop, sort of like M83, but it's a little bit more stripped down. But I think a lot of fans of M83 - and they have a lot of fans - will find a lot to like in this new Big Black Delta release.

BATES: All right. Well, let's talk now about Franz Ferdinand. And we are not talking about the Austrian archduke that we all remember from high school history.

(LAUGHTER)

HOBSON: He was assassinated. That led up to World War I. We're talking about Franz Ferdinand, the band. You may remember their 2004 song "Take Me Out."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE ME OUT")

ALEX KAPRANOS: I say, don't you know? You say, you don't know. I say take me out. I say, you don't show. Don't move. Time is slow. I say take me out.

HOBSON: So, Travis, first of all, tell us about Franz Ferdinand, the band.

HOLCOMBE: They're really masters of their sound, and they're one of those bands that are immediately recognizable about 10 seconds into the song. And there's a very particular new wavey, post-punk guitar, dancy vibe to their music. And their last album, "Tonight," was released about four years ago, and it was a really solid release, but it was just kind of met with a little bit of a malaise. There just wasn't a big single on there for people to latch on to. But they have a new album that's called "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action" that's sort of a return to the catchy, fun feel of the first album, in my opinion.

HOBSON: And let's take a listen to one single off that. This is "Right Action."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RIGHT ACTION")

KAPRANOS: Come home. Practically all is nearly forgiven. Right thoughts, right words, right action.

HOBSON: What do you think of this new album, Travis?

HOLCOMBE: It's fun. I mean, they're one of those kind of groups, kind of like say the Beastie Boys. They're best when they sound loose and sound like they're having fun in the studio. And I feel like this new album does a really great job capturing that energy and spirit. And if you were throwing a party and you ask me to make a mix tape for your party, I'd probably throw four or five tracks from this album on to there.

HOBSON: Do people still say mix tape?

HOLCOMBE: They do. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

HOBSON: There's probably just an iPod playlist at this point. Maybe that's even outdated.

HOLCOMBE: But you've got to transfer it somehow.

(LAUGHTER)

HOBSON: Well, Travis, I know that you wanted us to hear about Larry Gus. This is probably the most unique sound we're going to hear today. Let's listen to "In Violent Ink."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "IN VIOLENT INK")

LARRY GUS: (Singing) They're seemingly, they're seemingly happy and...

HOBSON: Travis, as somebody who works with audio and cuts it up sometimes, that sounds like that's been cut up to me.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLCOMBE: Cut up, yeah. Well, Larry Gus is a Greek singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer with a new album called "Years Not Living." It's out on the New York City based dance label DFA, which was home to LCD Soundsystem and started by LCD front man James Murphy, just sort of as a way for releasing music videos really into. And Larry Gus is a departure in a way for them. It's really difficult to kind of put this album in a box other than to say it's an electronic album. But it sort of bounces between elements of hip-hop, sync-pop, trip-hop, rock, '60s pop and literal burst of free jazz sort of sprinkled in also.

HOBSON: Well, let's listen to another song from Larry Gus. This is "The Eternal And The Ephemeral."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "THE ETERNAL AND THE EPHEMERAL")

HOBSON: So, Travis, before we let you go, I want you to tell me about something that we heard about, which is that you recently facilitated a wedding proposal on your show?

I did, yeah. Some KCRW listener called the office during the week and was just wondering if, you know, we could do something to help make his wedding proposal to his girlfriend really special, so he and I talked. We coordinate at times.

What did you say?

HOLCOMBE: Basically, I just said couple fans of KCRW are listening right now, heading out - getting ready to head out to Morocco. So we just played "Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills and Nash. And their names were Michael and Mia. And I said, oh, Mia, by the way, I believe Michael has something he wanted to ask you.

HOBSON: Oh. And then he went at it on his own?

HOLCOMBE: Yeah. I mean, I didn't see it. I don't know. But apparently, the results were good. She said yes, so...

HOBSON: Excellent. Travis Holcombe, wedding facilitator and DJ for KCRW in Santa Monica, California. Thanks as always.

HOLCOMBE: Thanks, Jeremy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARRAKESH EXPRESS")

CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH: (Singing) Wouldn't you know we're riding on the Marrakesh Express?

HOBSON: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

I'm Meghna Chakrabarti, in for Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.