Summer School of Rock: The Naked and Famous

Photo by Mary Yuengert/Gavel Media.

Photo by Mary Yuengert/Gavel Media.

It’s a rainy day here in Pennsylvania, which means one thing in my household: cleaning. As Emily Akin suggested, I am suffering a tremendous amount of BC separation anxiety and have yet to unpack everything from my double on Newton (Newton, may it rest in peace.), hence the immensely tall pile of books in the middle of my room. I like to think of it as a permanent island that I have to get used to avoiding on my way to get clothes from my dresser and closet. My mom doesn’t appreciate the analogy.

So today, the island of books disappears, the boxes have to make their way into the deepest, dustiest storage crevices of our basement, and the view out my windows is grey, overcast, and mimics the backdrops of several horror movies. So much for summer, huh?

It’s days like this that I need to dance. I need a beat to get me excited. I need to bang my head a little bit. I need something that gives unpacking a natural rhythm and a gives me an excuse to twirl around my room, skip down the stairs, and maybe even make my parents question how college has affected my sanity. It’s days like this that I need The Naked and Famous, and you do too.

Lesson #2: Have a go-to dance band.

Everyone needs a dance band. You may be really into folk, country, or rap, but when it comes down to it, you need a band in your library (or ideally a whole playlist) that serves the sole purpose of getting you out of bed in the morning and jumping around the room. The Naked and Famous is that band for me.

Photo courtesy of cheeseontoast.co.nz

Photo courtesy of cheeseontoast.co.nz

The Naked and Famous hails from Auckland, New Zealand and formed in 2008 when members Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith produced their two EPs, This Machine and No Light, with Aaron Short while attending Auckland’s MAINZ music college. Eventually the three were joined by Jesse Wood and David Beadle on drums and bass and the group recorded its first full album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, in 2010.

The Naked and Famous has received a lot of recognition in New Zealand, climbing to the top of the charts with their single “Young Blood” in 2010 and racking up six nominations at the New Zealand Music Awards.

The group’s sound is anything but consistent. The band defines itself as a post-punk revival group, taking inspiration and sounds from the garage rock of the 60s and the new wave punk of the 70s. Much of their music is straight head banging, ear splitting, heavy on the drums noise, such as “A Wolf in Geek’s Clothing.”

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However, their best songs, in my opinion, incorporate electronic sounds and use a lot of keyboard. Check out some of my favorites, such as “Young Blood,” “Punching in a Dream,” and “Girls Like You.”

https://soundcloud.com/mar-y/the-naked-famous-young-blood

https://soundcloud.com/lucyjasper/girls-like-you-the-naked-and-famous

These songs are so very different from their music off the early EPs. In a true display of versatility, the group manages to mix up their style, from electronic to heavy metal to punk, and even throws in some curveballs, like “Serenade,” a light, fun number that brings in a huge spectrum of instruments, including acoustic guitar, tambourine, and electronic keyboard.

The group also does a lot of really cool work with remixes, which can be seen on their SoundCloud. They even put out an entire album of remixes of Passive Me, Aggressive You and B-sides. They’re not messing around here people. We’re dealing with true musicians.

So whatever your favorite genre may be, it’s likely that The Naked and Famous can cater to it. Their experimentation with styles, instruments, and studio effects speaks to how wonderfully inconsistent they are, proving it’s okay to have a unique sound that you simply can’t label.

The same can be said for music in general. Mix it up, mess around, experiment, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to just dance every once in a while. Or every day.

Yeah, every day would be good.

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