12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has established himself as a critical part of the indie-rock scene. His music is unpredictable and sometimes challenging, but even in his most experimental moments there is a vulnerable human-ness that makes it accessible. Microcastle puts Cox and his band firmly on the path to producing cohesive songs with beginnings, middles and ends, and they’re not just songs with all the right parts; they’re astoundingly accessible and memorable to boot. Guitarist Lockett Pundt’s contributions — on vocals as well — are a real plus, and from the lulling “Agoraphobia” to the ‘60s pop charm of “Little Kids” and “Saved by Old Times,” Microcastle offers plenty of well above-average indie pop. Cotton-candy shoegazer “Never Stops” has a sad, lyrical feel, and “Calvary Scars” and “Activa” are wrapped in the ambient twinkle of Cox’s solo work as Atlas Sound. The gloriously dreamy “Neither of Us, Uncertainly,” and the Yo La Tengo-ish “Nothing Ever Happened” are strong contenders for Best of Show, but we give the award to the purely Deerhunter “Microcastle” which fools us all for the first two minutes with its airy, twee weightlessness before morphing into a sonic tsunami.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has established himself as a critical part of the indie-rock scene. His music is unpredictable and sometimes challenging, but even in his most experimental moments there is a vulnerable human-ness that makes it accessible. Microcastle puts Cox and his band firmly on the path to producing cohesive songs with beginnings, middles and ends, and they’re not just songs with all the right parts; they’re astoundingly accessible and memorable to boot. Guitarist Lockett Pundt’s contributions — on vocals as well — are a real plus, and from the lulling “Agoraphobia” to the ‘60s pop charm of “Little Kids” and “Saved by Old Times,” Microcastle offers plenty of well above-average indie pop. Cotton-candy shoegazer “Never Stops” has a sad, lyrical feel, and “Calvary Scars” and “Activa” are wrapped in the ambient twinkle of Cox’s solo work as Atlas Sound. The gloriously dreamy “Neither of Us, Uncertainly,” and the Yo La Tengo-ish “Nothing Ever Happened” are strong contenders for Best of Show, but we give the award to the purely Deerhunter “Microcastle” which fools us all for the first two minutes with its airy, twee weightlessness before morphing into a sonic tsunami.

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1:49
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About Deerhunter

Deerhunter are an experimental noise rock band from Atlanta, fronted by the compellingly odd singer Bradford Cox. Cox's vocal style blends vocal experimentation along the lines of Meredith Monk or Yoko Ono with a more direct and punky howl inspired by the Fall's Mark E. Smith. Cox is also a striking on-stage presence: the exceedingly skinny 6'4" lead singer has Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue that gives him abnormally long and spindly limbs. (The late Joey Ramone was another well-known frontman with Marfan syndrome.) Cox often exaggerates his otherworldly look by performing in Victorian-style party frocks and engaging in Iggy Pop-style acts of ritual self-abasement while his bandmates churn out an aggressive mix of industrial-grind guitars and fractured dance rhythms that often recalls earlier Georgia art punks like the Method Actors and Pylon.

Deerhunter were formed in 2001 by Cox and drummer and keyboardist Moses Archuleta; guitarists Colin Mee and Lockett Pundt and bassist Josh Fauver completed the lineup over the following years. Deerhunter signed with the local Atlanta indie Stickfigure Records for their 2005 debut: nominally untitled, the album is also known as "Turn It Up, Faggot" (a phrase that doesn't appear on the sleeve), an insult that Cox claimed was often thrown at the band during its gigs. Deerhunter then signed to the higher-profile indie Kranky (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, etc.) for their second album, Cryptograms, as well as the EP Fluorescent Grey. Mee left Deerhunter and was replaced by former cheerleader Whitney Petty. The band recorded its third album, Microcastle, at New York City's Rare Book Room studio; the album was released digitally two months before it arrived on CD in fall 2008; like Fluorescent Grey, it found Brad Cox and company moving in a more pop-oriented direction.

Deerhunter toured extensively on the indie festival circuit, but took a break in 2010 to record their fourth album, Halcyon Digest, in their home base of Athens, Georgia. Fauver left Deerhunter before they began recording their fifth full-length, but new bassist Josh McKay and additional guitarist Frankie Broyles joined the fold in January 2013 for the recording sessions, which resulted in that May's Monomania, which had a much rougher, looser sound than the band had exhibited in some time. The band performed at that year's All Tomorrow's Parties in Camber Sands, England, playing the entirety of Cryptograms, Microcastle, and Halcyon Digest during the three-day festival. In December 2014, Cox was hit by a car and hospitalized for his injuries; fortunately, he recovered and Deerhunter continued work on their next album. Fading Frontier, which featured collaborations with Stereolab's Tim Gane and Broadcast's James Cargill as well as a duet between Cox and Pundt, arrived in October 2015. ~ Stewart Mason

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