Entries in The Love Language (6)


The Capulets - Classics

Stu McLamb's backstory reads a bit like an episode of Behind The Music - failed relationships and jail time contributed to the sloppy garage-pop debut record from The Love Language.  That record got the band signed to Merge Records, but before The Love Language, there was The Capulets (and more drama).

The Capulets were a four-piece band from Raleigh NC comprised of McLamb, Josh Pope (Guitar/Vocals), Tom Simpson (Drums) and Alex Clarke (Bass).  The band's sound is a scrappy mix of garage, punk and sugary pop - a rougher, more energetic precursor to the sounds that The Love Language have refined over their past two albums.  As the story goes (from the band's label):

"Silent Uproar Records approached the band in 2006 about releasing some demos as a debut full-length. Shortly after signing a deal with the label, the band kicked out Stu McLamb. Now the stuff of legend, McLamb had broken into the band's practice space to teach a girl to play drums and ended up damaging his wrist and trashing some of the band's gear. Needless to say, that was the breaking point for the band itself. Josh, Tom and Alex quickly formed another band, Cocoon, but it didn't last. In late 2006, Stu started The Love Language and eventually tapped Josh and Tom to join him."

A few years later, Silent Uproar decided to finally release a remastered set of Capulets demos - a ragged collection of garage rock that clearly demonstrate the traits that have launched The Love Language to wider audiences.  Check out catchy-as-hell jam "Robots" below and grab the full album for just $5 here.

The Capulets - Robots



21 Favorite Albums of 2010:  1-11

Frontier Ruckus - Deadmalls and Nightfalls

So this is it, our favorite album of 2010.  Since it's July release I've kept coming back to this beautiful, affecting album by Michigan's Frontier Ruckus time and time again.  On Deadmalls and Nightfalls Matthew Milia's songwriting is at the forefront as he eulogizes forgotten places, people and memories of a suburban wasteland.  There's a certain nostalgia in abandoned stripmalls that I can relate to - maybe it's something about being a product of early-90s suburbia myself. 

Milia masters the Dylanesque feat of cramming a seemingly impossible number of words into each song, while still making each one count.  The words act not only as a vehicle for the stories that form the album's core, but in many cases act as an another instrument altogether, each syllable a note plucked from Matt Milia's quivering vocal chords; dancing with banjo strings, fighting for space alongside acoustic guitars. 

Musically, the album is as rich as anything I've heard this year - a distinctly midwestern blend of folk, bluegrass and southwest horns.  Banjo, trumpets, the occasional singing saw or fiddle, strummed and picked acoustic guitar and various percussion.  You get the feeling that these songs were truly composed, not your average verse-chorus songwriting-by-numbers - tempos change mid-song, instruments make appearances then disappear; truly a complete, fully-realized piece of art.  There were other albums that I loved this year, but none that spoke to me in quite the same way as Deadmalls and Nightfalls.  I came back to it throughout the year in various moods and situations, and each time it gave me exactly what I was looking for, and often revealed something new.

Frontier Ruckus - The Upper Room

2. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

Titus Andronicus' 2009 debut The Airing of Grievances was a ragged album of Jersey bar-band-punk that only hinted at the potential they fully relized on The Monitor.  I remember a fully intoxicated listening party the weekend after the album came out, blasting at full-volume as a small group of revelers sat around exchanging "whatthefuck" looks of amazement.  The album's spot on this list was probably cemented that night, but this album reveals more and more over time.  It is the definition of ambitious - a loose concept album based on the Civil War that quotes both Springsteen and Walt Whitman.  It is epic - a punk album with 8 songs over 5 minutes long.  And it works.  It's a masterpiece of literary punk-rock that's neither pretentious nor naive.

Titus Andronicus - Four Score And Seven


3. The National - High Violet

The National are one of the most consistent bands in indie-rock today.  While their early albums show flashes of brilliance but are somewhat inconsistent, they found their groove with 2006's Alligator and haven't looked back.  2007's Boxer topped many year-end lists, so the expectations were even higher for High Violet.  It doesn't disappoint on any level as the band returns to the well of dark, boozy, often obtuse ruminations on love and relationships.  The trademarks are there, moody ("Lemonworld", "Sorrow") pretty ("Runaway", "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks") and anthemic ("Bloodbuzz Ohio") and even though The National have done it well before, it just doesn't get old.

The National - Afraid Of Everyone



 4. The Walkmen - Lisbon

As I wrote earlier in the year, The Walkmen have taken a strange path to becoming one of my favorite bands.  For years I knew that they should be my favorite band, but for some reason I never really let myself fall in love with them.  This was the year that changed.  Truthfully, You & Me was the album that changed my mind, but Lisbon was the first time I embraced a Walkmen release as an event.  The album does not disappoint.  Where their earlier albums felt to me like New York City on a cold, windy, drunken night - this one feels warmer, sunnier, laid back.  There is a comfort where there was once abrasion.  "Juveniles", "Stranded", and "Lisbon" are among the most beautiful songs the band has recorded - this is the sound of a band that has found their place.

The Walkmen - Stranded


 5. The Love Language - Libraries

I have a soft spot in my music that incorporates equal parts soul, early rock n' roll and garage rock.  That pretty much defines The Love Language, and as you'd expect, they have been one of my favorite bands since their fantastic self-titled debut was released last year.  Truth be told, though, I was a bit nervous about follow-up and Merge debut Libraries before it was released.  Rumors had me worried that the band's sound would be sterilized - afterall, the lo-fi production was one of the previous albums' charms.  No need to worry.  Libraries sees Stuart McLamb and company clean up their sound without losing the ragged edge, and takes their garage-soul blend to epic new levels.  To these ears, this is pretty much perfect music.

The Love Language - Heart To Tell


6. Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away

Josh Ritter has already established himself as one of the most important songwriters making music today.  Five albums in, one could forgive Josh Ritter if he were to play things safe, settle into a groove and coast.  On the contrary, So Runs The World Away is full of risks.  A song about the complicated relationship between a mummy and his archeologist/lover (in waltz time) could be a horrific disaster in lesser hands.  Here it's beautiful and believable.  "Another New World" is an epic tale of adventure and loss.  A stunning piece of prose set to a sweet, soft tune.  There are still the traditional folk moments you'd expect, but the willingness to take chances and the songwriting chops to pull them off put Josh Ritter head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries.

Josh Ritter - Change Of Time

 7. Spoon - Transference

Following an album like Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is no easy task, I would imagine.  Rather than try to one-up the ragged pop and grand statements of their breakthrough, Spoon took a different route with Transference and delivered a more challenging record - one that hides its charms deeper, below the surface.  Gone are the glockenspiels and horns - replaced with disorienting rythms and backwards tape-looped keysboards.  It's like they took pop music and turned it upside down - still recognizable, but not the same.  That isn't to say that there aren't windows-down singalong rock songs - "Trouble Comes Running" is as straightforward of a song as there is, and its a ton of fun.  Overall, Transference is a welcome curveball and a fantastic album.

Spoon - I Saw The Light


8. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

The hype surrounding Local Natives' debut Gorilla Manor preceded it, but the record rose above the buzz and achieved something much, much bigger.  Pounding rhythms + soaring harmonies, often-obtuse subject matter, a Talking Heads cover - the album seemed almost too audacious at times, yet it worked.  The album captured wide-eyed wonder of youth better than any album in recent memory.  The band took the songs to the road for nearly a year of constant touring - winning more converts with each stop.  Seeing the band at a packed Great Scott and then, just a few months later, an overflowing stage at Sasquatch it's impossible to ignore the reach of Gorilla Manor.  An amazing triumph for a young band from L.A. and hands-down best debut of 2010.

Local Natives - Shape Shifter


9. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

The biggest indie band in the world got a lot bigger in 2010 - debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and collecting a Grammy nod for Rock Album Of The Year.  So how did the Arcade Fire maintain their indie cred alongside such monumental mainstream success?  They put out a brilliant record of varied, complex music that references disillusionment while never getting weighed down by it.  They turned a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden into a worldwide event by asking Terry Gilliam to direct a live internet webcast.  Their Spike Jonze-directed video for "The Suburbs" was another art-meets-accessibility success.  As for the music, it's the most fun Arcade Fire album to-date, touching on genres from art-rock to disco and addressing serious themes in an often-playful way.  Brilliant stuff.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

10. The Morning Benders - Big Echo

"Excuses" exploded out of nowhere in early 2010 like a blinding ray of summer sun cutting through the cold winter.  It is without question my song of the year - a huge pop song swathed in reverb, 60s R&B and big, dense Phil Spector-esque production.  Oh, and the rest of Big Echo is damn good too.  Operating somewhere between the layered creations of Grizzly Bear and the laid-back pop of Real Estate, The Morning Benders stepped-out in a huge way this year.  I enjoyed the band's debut Talking Through Tin Cans, but it barely hints at the level of songwriting, arrangement and maturity that Big Echos.  This was my feel good record of the year - it's impossible for me to listen to these 10 songs and not feel warm and fuzzy.

The Morning Benders - Excuses


11. Blake Mills - Break Mirrors

I'll be honest - I hadn't heard of Blake Mills until earlier this year when a friend tipped me off to his music shortly before the release of Break Mirrors.  I soon found that he had contributed to some of my favorite albums of the past few years, toured with Band Of Horses, Jenny Lewis and many more - oh, and he's only 23.  You could see the fantastic Break Mirrors as a man stepping into the spotlight.  Many sidemen and session musicians are relegated to the shadows for a reason - not so with Blake Mills.  He demonstrates songwriting, musicianship and confidence far beyond his years.  From catchy pop to understated folk, Break Mirrors is a varied, complex and just plain phenomenal album that hints at an exciting future for Blake Mills.

Blake Mills - Wintersong


The Love Language - Heart To Tell (video)

The Love Language's Libraries is one of our favorite releases of the year.  The shimmering-yet-scruffy sophomore effort exceeded our high expectations, proving that Stuart McLamb could grow as a songwriter while still retaining the qualities that made the band's debut stand out - catchy songs, heart-on-sleeve honesty, and a lo-fi take on Wall of Sound arrangements. 

The band has just released a video for standout track "Heart To Tell" - check it out below, along with a video we shot of the band at TT The Bears in July:


The Love Language: TT The Bears Cambridge 7.14.10

Charlotte Zoller © 2010 - www.thiskindofmusic.com

By Maria Cristina Romero

Navigating the tightrope between influence and imitation is difficult for any artist. Sometimes it’s downright impossible, and often results in a loss of identity as musicians retreat to the canon of remembered tunes. The Love Language, however, skillfully straddles the line. Mixing harmonies reminiscent of ‘60s girl-group rock with heavy drum lines, raucous guitar riffs, and hefty howls, The Love Language sets its sound apart from rock bands both past and present.

Although the Raleigh-based rockers didn’t pack the house that evening, The Love Language certainly packed a punch as the group celebrated its second album release at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge last week. Maybe it was the Turkish coffee that front man, Stuart McLamb, admittedly chugged before the show, or maybe it was the excitement following the fresh debut of Libraries—whatever the source, a palpable surge of kinetic energy had the audience bobbing and weaving as the band struck its first note. Kicking off with “Stars” from the group’s self-titled first album, The Love Language wooed fans before revealing “Horophones”—a new tune that’s nearly as infectious as Pete Bjorn’s “Young Folks.” In “Pedals”—a song perfectly punctuated with stormy drum strokes—the quintet presented a kind of organic synergy you’d expect from veteran rockers, not from a band on the day of its second album release in as many years.  Intermingling brief ballads with faster-paced pop melodies and innervating instrumentals, The Love Language stylishly showcased its wide-ranging dexterity and refreshing ingenuity—a combination that will likely propel this band to the forefront of indie-rock’s future. If you haven’t heard it yet, do your ears a favor and listen to Libraries now. 

I'm very happy to share an amazing video from the show, courtesy of our friends at Kitchen Sessions

Note:  more videos and full audio recording coming soon!


Special thanks to all of the contributors that made this post possible - a true team effort.  Please check out and support their fantastic sites:
This Kind Of Music
Kitchen Sessions


The Love Language:  Libraries


The Love Language's self-titled debut was probably my favorite record of 2009.  It came as a burst of musical sunshine, and rarely left my car stereo for months.  Stuart McLamb (who played all the instruments and recorded the record himself) found that golden mix of catchy hooks and deeply personal lyrics.  The sound was a gritty, lo-fi, take on soul  and doo-wop melodies.  Sophomore effort Libraries is out today on Merge Records, and it picks up where the last record left off.  Here's how Stu McLamb describes the sound on the new record:

It’s very expansive and rich sonically and all over the board as far as genres. Some songs sound like Motown on steroids, some sound like orchestral My Bloody Valentine, and some sound pretty much like the last album.

Fantastic stuff - I can guarantee this will be on repeat for a while in my car.  Here are a few tracks to sample:  Heart to Tell and Blue Angel are both off Libraries, Providence is one of my favorites from the debut.  Enjoy!

Heart to Tell
Blue Angel (from HearYa live session)
Providence (from WOXY live session)

The Love Language is at TT The Bears this Wednesday 7/14 - tickets still available.


New music from The Love Language

Libraries - out July 13 on MergeThe Love Language's self-titled debut was one of my top-5 albums of 2009.  The lo-fi garage soul sound is right in my wheelhouse, and the super-catchy melodies came along just at the right time to drag me out of winter's dreariness.  The album is still in regular rotation and Providence, Lalita, Sparxx, etc still get my toes tapping and head bobbing uncontrollably.  So, it is with great pleasure and excitement that I post NEW MUSIC from The Love Language!

Heart to Tell is the first single off The Love Language's upcoming Merge debut, Libraries.  This picks up right where the last album left off - the mop-top melodies are still there, as is the driving percussion.  The production is slightly cleaner than the last record, though it still has the rough-around-the edges sound that gave the last record so much of its charm.

The Love Language - Heart to Tell

In other news, a Love Language / Let's Wrestle split 7" will be available on Record Store Day!

Check out this behind-the-scenes video of the making of Libraries.  Surprised to see that, like the debut record, Stuart McLamb again plays everything himself (though this with the benefit of a producer and studio).  Can't effing wait to hear this record:

Snowed in with The Love Language from Jason Arthurs on Vimeo.