Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tunng - ...And Then We Saw Land (2010)

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My introduction to British folktronica ensemble Tunng (via NPR's World Cafe) would've shocked me if I didn't listen to bands like Megafaun and Le Loup. I mean, combining folksy acoustics with the buzz and hiss and whatever other awesome sounds you have at your command seems crazy. Or so simple of an idea as to be completely foreign. And yet, if done well, is mesmerizing in a way the two genres can never manage on their own. When listening through an album for the first time, it's rare that I'll repeat a track and yet that's what I did with the lead track "Hustle" off their fourth studio album ...And Then We Saw Land. Beginning with a simple grin-inducing ostinato, that starts off in a muddy sonic haze before clearing up, and gently eases in other instruments. As with any good ensemble, they make the best of each instrument at their disposable, including lovely multi-part vocal harmonies. It's one of those deceptively happy sounding songs and it's pulled off amazingly. With a lead track as infectiously endearing, you're led to wonder: Where can the album go now? Well, the album maintains its endearing quality resulting from its sincere lyrics and thoughtfully composed instrumentals.

...And Then We Saw Land never manages to overwhelm despite the vast array of instruments and sound at the band's disposal. Instead, each addition only serves to heighten the listening experience. At no point does anything seem excessive or boringly repetitive. While not sure if it was a conceptual choice, the album tosses and turns like a ship at sea and occasionally the sound is allowed to build up like a daunting wave. The effect of which is incredibly gratifying. It's sure to be an instant favorite.

Get a taste of Tunng's fourth album ...And Then We Saw Land with the video for "Hustle":

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Megafaun - Heretofore

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It's hard to believe Megafaun's mini-album Heretofore was meant just to tide over until the band's next album (which they are currently recording). It's got as much substance as their previous two albums and the whopping 12 and a half minute "Comprovisation For Connor Pass" makes Heretofore pretty much as long as them too. The mini-album offers up the jam band-esque instrumentals that manage to avoid that boring repetitive feeling. There's also a little bit of sonic experimentation that makes sure things stay interesting which is not altogether uncharacteristic for the band. Heretofore manages to provide this mash-up of old and new. The songs are new but seem familiar. Not in a been-there-done-that sense and not because they're not risky, but rather because it follows in Megafaun's all encompassing style. All 6 tracks are boldly different from each other but they all sync up to make this album full of rich memorable musical moments. Whether its bright folk pop sound of "Carolina Days", the slowly unraveling harmony laden gem "Heretofore", or bluesy "Eagles" with its bee-bop saxophone solos. The mini-album makes me incredibly excited for the upcoming full-length.

Stricken City says goodbye with new video

British jangly pop rock quartet Stricken City have made it abundantly clear in their mini album Songs About People I Know, that they don't like boredom. In the video for their latest single from their upcoming album Losing Colour, Rebekah Raa wades through a series of mundane daily rituals accompanied by the melancholic track.

The band hasn't gone public with the reason why they're calling it quits but I've got a feeling boredom has something to do with it. And yet the quartet has had an exciting run: releasing three singles, one free EP, one mini-album, and a soon to be released debut album. All in addition to playing shows pretty much constantly. Thanks for the awesome music Stricken City. Enjoy the video for "Losing Colour":

Stricken City - Losing Colour from Stricken City on Vimeo.

You can pre-order the debut album at their site and preview four of the tracks via Soundcloud.
Losing Colour LP Preview by {Stricken City}

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pitstop: Junip

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I'm not exactly sure how I found out about Junip. I remember the band's name being on the ever-lengthening list of bands to check out for at least three months now until about a week ago when I purchased their debut album Fields on a whim. Swedish trio Junip is one of those bands that somehow manage to defy genre-fication. Featuring solo singer/songwriter Jose Gonzales on guitar and vocals, Elias Araya on drums, and Tobias Winterkorn on keyboard instruments like synthesizer and organ, the instrumental combination fools you into knowing what to expect. The band has a retro-rock sound without actually imitating anything combined with some folk elements. Their album is like stumbling into a jam session, sometimes lacking an apparent structure but rather being an organic growth. Unsurprising upon learning that the debut was 10 years in the making and that the three frequently improvised together. Their method of songwriting is actually to jam together and save the good bits that happen and try and do something with them. It's a good method for them. Instead of lyric-focused songs, you have these collections of songs that feature hand offs between vocals and instrumentals. The elusive quality of the vocals is actually what draws attention to them. They seductively meander away from you the most you listen for them, so instead you're forced to accept the music as a whole. The way it was meant to be. Here's hoping it's not another 10 years til their next album.

Get a taste of Junip with the video for "Always":

Noah and the Whale preview new album with "Wild Thing"

Sometimes a totally good band drops off your radar and that's what happened to me with Noah and the Whale. After their release of their second album The First Days of Spring late last year, I hadn't heard too much about the band and its happening (aside from a magazine interview earlier this year) until about a week or so when this track "Wild Thing" appeared. The track, off their upcoming March album Last Night on Earth, follows along in the new style established on their last album: sleepy, unobtrusive instrumentals which frame Charlie Fink's voice and its narrative lyrics. The new album is rumored to be more upbeat and yet, this track is more like the break up songs featured on the last album. Hear the new track "Wild Thing":
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Left With Pictures release final In Time video

Earlier than normal, Left With Pictures is releasing their final In Time song/video. A little Christmas ditty called "Forgive Me". The video directed by Chris Boyle is, unsurprisingly, one of the best produced of all the In Time videos. Its charming, funny, and even a little weird. A naughty little boy, played by Reece Buttery, upon being left coal declares revenge and grows up to be a full blown Santa Hunter. With help from his wife, played by Natasha Broomfield, he finds clues that eventually bring him to the North Pole. Though the video is artfully produced, the song that accompanies it is definitely one of the best to arise out of the In Time project. Starting off as a sentimental piece of gorgeous piano pop, the band's other instruments come in at the just the right times to elevate the song to another level of well composed loveliness. The song even quotes the "Carol of the Bells". This is one of those rare moments where a song and video fit perfectly together. Left With Pictures definitely ended their In Time project on a high note. The amazing amount of growth the quintet had during this project is sure to result in a fantastic new album so here's hoping that's coming up soon!

Watch the video for Left With Pictures' last In Time composition "Forgive Me":

Left With Pictures - Forgive Me from CHRIS BOYLE on Vimeo.

Limited Edition copies of their In Time album are still available for Preorder, so if you enjoyed the In Time songs and videos, think about buying the CD+DVD package here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, & Dharohar Project - EP

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Last year British folk songtress Laura Marling performed in India. Something about the culture must've spoke to her because she along with Mumford & Sons then teamed up with an Indian ensemble to record an EP together. The 4 song EP features a reworked versions of Marling's "Devil's Spoke" and Mumford's "To Darkness". The EP proves that folk music is universal. The Indian ensemble's instruments perfectly compliment the western instruments of the two charming Brit groups. There's something inexplicably amazing about the way the lyrics seamlessly change from English to with the folk singers even trying their hand at it. Instead of like a direct split between styles, the groups merge into this amazing unit sometimes sounding trading off in the lyrics or with the instruments played before ultimately blending again (Meheni Rachi being a prime example. The EP is remarkably innovative, showing their artistic prowess as master musicians as they step out of their comfort zone with none the wiser. They have no problem embracing the culture and have no trouble infusing it with their own. The result is an enjoyable musical adventure that everyone is bound to love. The EP is available digitally through the wide variety of music vendors and will see physically release sometime in early 2011.

OK Go releases "Back From Kathmandu" video

OK Go's viral videos are quite honestly the stuff of legendary. After their last video for "White Knuckles" which featured a bunch of trained rescue dogs doing awesome tricks I wondered how they could top themselves. In their video for "Back From Kathmandu", the band parades through the streets of Los Angeles with friends, fans, musicians, and the randomly intrigued in tow. Spelling out OK Go with their parade route. Marching 8.5 miles has never been quite so cool. Especially when you add the completely delightful assortment of instruments (I swear I spotted at least two accordions), glow in the dark awesomeness, and the 100 people large marching band. Watch OK Go's video for "Back From Kathmandu":

Elle S'appelle to reunite....kinda

British trio Elle S'appelle disbanded about two years ago retiring their infectious melodic brand of powerpop for regular lives, school, and other endeavors. Recently, however, the band appeared on the roster for a Pixies tribute show this upcoming January. When I asked about it, Andy Donovan, revealed that the band is back for this one show at least albeit in a new incarnation. The show, which features a bunch of Liverpool bands like Married to the Sea, Voo, and The House that Jack Built, will also feature Elle S'appelle's new lineup. So if you have plans to be in Liverpool around January 15th, go see the 10 Bands 10 Minutes Pixie Tribute at the Liverpool Masque.

Stricken City album gets release date

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Stricken City's debut album Losing Colour finally gets a release date. The album, due out in February 7, 2011, is available for pre-order at the band's website where they offer up two downloads immediately following purchase. That's the good news.

There's also some bad news attached. The band has announced that this will be their last album and that their February 10th show will be their final performance. It's rather bittersweet. I'm excited about the new album finally getting a release date but not so much about the split. But all good things must come to an end and better that the band goes out at their best than a shell of its former self.

Friday, December 10, 2010

She & Him visit Conan

Last night, cutesy 60s inspired indie-pop duo She & Him performed on Conan and their performance of "I Put A Spell On You" had to be seen to be believed. Stripped down to just Zooey Deschanel on vocals and M. Ward's spacey guitar riffs, the duo proved they're more than just Deschanel's come hither winks with some fancy guitar work. Instead viewers were treated to the most animated performance I've seen the duo give. Gone were the controlled purely melodic vocals the band is known for, replaced with hypnotizing banshee shrieks amid spooky silences and reverb. That might sound bad, but it's not. It's actually amazing. Watch the video:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sondre Lerche donates rare exclusive track to charity.

Tis the season for giving and Sondre Lerche offers up an exclusive track from way back around the release of 2004's Two Way Monologue. The track "Trying to Say Goodbye" is available for download via The Right Track: Tunes to TargetCancer. The Right Track offers up exclusive mp3 downloads from a multitude of artists to raise money for cancer research. The minimum donation required is $0.99 but I will tell you this right now: Sondre Lerche's "Trying to Say Goodbye" is worth much more. Its classic Sondre, featuring just right falsetto and guitar stylings echoed on the later Lerche-composed Dan in Real Life Soundtrack. You can download it and more tracks at The Right Tracks site here.

Justin Branam teams up for charitable iPhone Sessions

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Using the same formula that allowed Justin Branam to raise money to record his next album, Branam teams up with a bunch of friends to help raise money for charity. The homeless in Nashville to be exact. On iPhone Sessions Hope Vol. 1, these Nashville based artists do what they do best: play lovely stripped down sets where allows their talent to truly shine. The seamless recording via iPhone helps to provide an intimacy you might expect in a small bar. The compilation features several Ten Out of Tenn artist like Andrew Belle, Katie Herzig, Tyler James, and KS Rhoads, as well as several artists I personally never encountered before like folsky quintet Neulore, lovely singer/songwiter Amy Stroup, harmony-weaving duo Elenowen, bluesy crooner Seth Philpott, ethereal siren Alva Leigh, and sweet-voiced Steve Moakler. The compilation is available here at a pay-what-you-want rate but before you think to download it for free, think about helping the artists raise money for Nashville Rescue Mission and People Loving Nashville. You'll be glad you did. And for more info on the compilation, the artists and the charities go here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pitstop: Brooklyn Rider

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My discovery of New York City based string quartet Brooklyn Rider occurred due to the awesomeness that is NPR and their Tiny Desk Concerts and actually marks the first time I'm talking about classical music on this blog. Equally comfortable playing Debussy, Haydn, and Cage; the string quartet also teams up with singer/songwriters, Turkish kamancheh players, and plays some of its own members' compositions. To call the band purely a classical group actually doesn't accurately describe the quartet or its goals. Brooklyn Rider is a unique blend of influences wishing to stretch across a wide terrain through the vehicle of the string quartet. Instead of isolating itself in any one period of classical music or any school of musical thought, the quartet uses its four talented members to weave together these musical tapestries that can best be described as genre-bending. Not in the sense that artists like David Garrett or Vanessa Mae or even the Turtle Island String Quartet bend genre but into this totally different, raw, organic thing. Their latest release Dominant Curve is inspired by Debussy and how he brought outside influences into classical music and joins together Debussy's own String Quartet in g minor with works by Brooklyn Rider violinist Colin Jacobsen, Kojiro Umezaki from Japan, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovski from Uzbekistan, and an electronic/acoustic arrangement of a John Cage work by Brooklyn based composer Justin Messina. The result is this product that is universally accessible both to classical music lovers and others.

Check out Brooklyn Rider with their NPR Tiny Desk Concert that won me over:

Lykke Li announces new album

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Fresh off the release of her sultry "Get Some" single and video, Lykke Li offered up some album details. The new album entitled Wounded Rhymes will be out in early March (the end of February if you're one of those lucky devils in the UK) and promises to be much darker than her sweetly innocent 2008 debut Youth Novels. Sure, the album had the Swedish singer declaring her fiery passion and work ethic on "I'm Good, I'm Gone" and banishing a lovelorn lover in "Breaking It Up" but they were done in kind of a cutesy way and Lykke Li is over that. Her sophomore album, produced by Peter, Bjorn, and John's Bjorn Yttling and released on her own LL Recordings, will see a more grown up but still remarkably independent Lykke Li. Not surprising with lyrics like "I'm your prostitute and you gon' get some" off the single. In an interview with Pitchfork, Lykke Li expresses her desire to be de-categorized as a cute Swedish female singer and instead for people to focus on her lyrics and what she has to say, instead of her looks. Here's hoping, Lykke Li.

Check out the tracklist for Wounded Rhymes out Febuary 28th in the UK, March 1st in the US, March 2nd in Swedish, and worldwide the first week of March:

1. Youth Knows No Pain
2. I Follow Rivers
3. Love Out of Lust
4. Unrequited Love
5. Get Some
6. Rich Kid Blues
7. Sadness Is a Blessing
8. I Know Places
9. Ladies Love
10. Jerome
11. Silent My Song

She's also heading out on another worldwide tour (after playing the last of her sold out shows in December) in March. See if Lykke Li will be in a city near you here.

Left With Pictures' November In Time

Well it's the last Monday of the month so that means British chamber pop-pers Left With Pictures are serving up another brand new In Time video. I was awaiting the arrival of their November In Time since immediately after their October one since I was curious what they'd use for inspiration. Abroad there's no major holiday in November like Thanksgiving in the US, so they'd probably find inspiration in other things. Their latest In Time song/video "Stuck In Time" is a curiously little thing. Dark sounding like last month's "October Waits" but also way more colored and full of flushed out sounds, the In Time shows what amazing things can happen when a talented bunch of instrumentalists get together. The video, directed by Chad Mason and shot in a single take by Greg Harris, features Stuart Barter traveling backwards through a house while band members occasionally swoop in to add their instrumental parts in before Barter joins the band in the outside garden-area with his banjo and some choral-like group vocals. The rather dark sounding nostalgia-fueled tone of the song changes at times, towards hopefulness and a little something more before suddenly just sorta cutting off. The interesting thing about the track was the finality of it all, it very well could have been the last In Time track but it's not and makes me incredibly excited about next month's.

Watch November's In Time "Stuck In Time":

Left With Pictures is currently offering up a limited edition of their upcoming In Time album for pre-order. The special edition comes with a 2011 wall calendar, a CD and a DVD featuring the 12 videos, and a poster. So if this sounds like your cup of tea, you can order it from the band's record label Organ Grinder Records here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stricken City eases album wait with new video...sort of

So while British pop rock outfit Stricken City keeps fans guessing as to the actual release date of their debut album, they have given the occasional reprieve like the summer's free Animal Festival EP. With the new redesign of their website they've offered up a new one in the form of another album track "Losing Colour" which has a music video in the works, and now thanks to a friend of theirs they have a new video. Only it's not quite what you'd expect. It's a fan video of My So Called Life using their track "Corridors" which is inspired by the series. The track seems to follow the band's recent transformation from jangly dance-y pop into something more ethereal and precise. Whereas Rebekah Raa's lyrics were pretty gloomy before, the music they're set to actually shows that. Anyone whose listened to the band's mini album Songs About People I Know wouldn't be surprised by this artful departure from their "norm" but it still shows that the band is growing. Which is pretty awesome considering most bands grow after their debut albums. Enjoy the fan video featuring "Corridors":

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Voluntary Butler Scheme - At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea.

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Sure bands are often influenced by music from times gone by, some even do decent replications, but so few times does someone channel that inspiration and influence in something dynamically unique. That's where The Voluntary Butler Scheme aka Rob Jones comes in. On his debut album At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea., Jones calls forth his '50s and '60s influences to create innocently sweet, subtle, bright sunny indie-pop that will melt even the iciest of hearts. His melodies are infectiously well-crafted, memorable, singable, catchy, and his lyrics are smart in this remarkably off-kilter way where they both do and don't matter at the same time.
Probably the most surprising thing about Jones' album is that he plays the majority of the instruments you hear on it. This might be surprising to some who notice that ensemble sound that he manages to get from himself and is the reason Jones goes down as one of my favorite one-man-bands. He's assisted by a couple friends on several tracks to play additional instruments (mostly horns), but you'd be surprised how little times he actually is. He's assisted on only 4 out of the 14 tracks by only four people. That's impressive.

One of the things I love about At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea is that even though he splits the album into three sections, the songs all work together. Several of the songs he had written before work on the album actually serve to anchor the album in this remarkably gratifying way. Usually when someone predominantly plays drums like Rob Jones (who used to be the drummer for retro indie pop group The School), melody comes almost second to rhythm but not here. His melodies are fully flushed out and just really fun to listen to. So fans of talented multi-instrumentalists specializing in unique melodic indie-pop rejoice: The Voluntary Butler Scheme is after your heart and sure to win it with his charmingly quirky debut album.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Tallest Man on Earth - Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP

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The Tallest Man on Earth aka Swedish folk singer/songwriter Kristian Matsson released his sophomore album The Wild Hunt earlier this year in April, an album that reached songwriting heights I didn't think were previously possible. Turns out, the charming Swede has songwriting skills positively pouring out of him as within a small break from touring in support of the album in the summer, he had time to write four brand spanking new songs which he has released with a fan-favorite concert closer "Like the Wheel" in the form of his new Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP. Sure nature imagery, exceptional fingerstyle acoustic guitar, smokey vocals are trademarks of Matsson's but he also shows his versatility with electric guitar on "The Dreamer". The album plays as intimately as if Matsson himself were in your living room, crooning his melancholic, nostalgia-inducing folk ballads and makes you marvel how he could write so many good songs in so short a time. If this EP is any indicator of the quality of an upcoming album, fans should be prepared to have their wildest expectations met and exceed them by leaps and bounds. Seriously.

Pitstop: Justin Branam

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My discovery of Justin Branam was a happy little accident and says a lot about the awesomeness of social networking sites. You see, Andrew Belle retweeted one of Branam's tweets that I found humorous as well as true. The tweet went as follows: "Someone needs to publish a concert goers etiquette pamphlet". I retweeted it, and Branam thanked me for the retweet. I then decided to check out the Nashville based singer/songwriter and was quite pleased with the result. Turns out I had heard of Justin Branam before.
Justin Branam recorded a couple songs via his iPhone and release them to raise money for the recording of his next album. A pretty sweet method of both recording and of raising money. Once again, I heard about this from Andrew Belle, via tweet. Intrigued by the concept, I headed over to Justin Branam's MySpace to give his music a listen. Braham's vocals are the perfect blend of not-too-husky robustness and tender soul-stirring ethereality and his guitar playing works to perfectly compliment them.

Get a taste of Branam's delightfully good folk-influenced guitar pop with "Dial Tone" from his iPhone Sessions.

As a result of Branam raising money via his iPhone Sessions, you can expect a new album from him soon. Til then, you can listen to his music including his now out of print debut album Words Worth Mentioning and Branam's rousing collaboration with a string quartet, his Introducing Justin Branam EP via his MySpace here.

The Lost Cavalry - Waves Freeze to Rolling Hills EP

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British five-piece The Lost Cavalry's 4 song EP Waves Freeze to Rolling Hills is folksy chamber pop done oh so right.

You'd think with so many instruments at their disposal that things would get a little hectic and every song would be packed with sound but the fellows of The Lost Cavalry know a thing or two about restraint. Their songs, even balladic "Secret Steps", are the very definition of reserved. Each instrument contributes solely to the overall mood of the track and works in complete balance with the other instruments. Even the backing vocals are used sparingly, surging up at just the right time to deliver heart-clenching punches. The EP is a pretty somber affair, the most upbeat track on it being "Oh Sally" where the band channels up a midnight mariachi band serenading a lovely lady underneath her balcony window. The serious nature of the songs belie the fact that the lyrics are about tightrope walkers, sailors lost at sea, and a buried elephant and that the band can infuse seriousness into such subjects, says a lot about the band's talents both in delivery and presentation.

Listen to The Lost Cavalry's debut EP at their bandcamp and if you like what you hear, you can either download their latest single "Elephant of Castlebar Hill" for free or buy the whole EP for cheap.

Sufjan Stevens releases dazzling "Too Much" video

When I first heard Sufjan Stevens' "Too Much" off his recent release The Age of Adz, I thought it sounded dancier than his standard compositions. In his video for the track, Stevens and some friends team up for some wacky dancing in the pseudo stop motion animated video. The video features some shapeshifting, eccentric fashion choices, and demon and Ronald Regan masks all thrown into a club like atmosphere with psychedelic colors and geometric shapes. Did I mention the eccentric fashion choices? Because there are a lot of them. But also wacky choreographed dancing. And everyone loves wacky choreographed dancing.

Watch Sufjan Stevens music video for "Too Much":

Andrew Belle - The Ladder

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Several months ago, I mentioned Andrew Belle, and I’m actually surprised it took me so long to get his debut album The Ladder. Sure there are tons of videos available via Youtube et al. that allow you to get a taste of the Nashville based Illinois native, but that’s actually doing yourself a disservice. From the initial verse of “The Ladder”, it was obvious that this wouldn’t be your average record. Belle’s debut is one of the strongest I’ve heard in some time. Belle’s songwriting is nuanced, unpredictable, and smart with vibrant, thoughtfully chosen words that heighten the already evocative quality of the lyrics. In fact, the weakest track on the album (“Tower”) is the only song not written by Belle himself. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s actually quite good. Just stands alone; lacks the subtlety that Belle’s own lyrics demonstrate.
Sometimes you encounter good songwriting with musicianship that doesn’t quite fit but you’ll encounter none of that here. Each instrumental embellishment only adds to the tracks: an organic evolution from just guitar and vocals.

Andrew Belle’s debut is masterful enough to give even the most experienced songsmiths a run for their money. The album is catchy without being hokey or artificial, sincere in a way that other singer/songwriters should take note of, and memorable for only the right reasons. Interestingly enough, the album starts off as this thoroughly interactive affair and gets more and more intimate as it progresses; hooking you in with poppy goodness before stripping that away to expose the raw talent at its foundation. The Ladder, shows a man who not only has practically limitless potential but also makes good choices: in collaborators, in arrangement, in track order. So if you’re interested in Andrew Belle, don’t be like me. Pick up The Ladder immediately. You’ll find that it’s the only thing that does him any justice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Now Streaming: Anya Marina - Spirit School EP

Today marked the release of Anya Marina's Spirit School EP and she's celebrating by announcing some tour dates as well as streaming the full 5 song EP at Spinner.com. The EP is more dance-y than her previous songwriting efforts and may have to do the inclusion of Sam Fogarino of Interpol and Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis as producers as well as dueting with Dandy Warhols' frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor. Listen to the EP at Spinner here.

Pitstop: Johnny Flynn

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My discovery of Johnny Flynn was dually due to LastFM and Laura Marling. Because Johnny Flynn is folk singer/songwriter like Marling, and they often collaborate together, it was probably only a matter of time before I was introduced to him and I'm certainly glad I did. Flynn's brand of folk can be best described as poetic lyricism combined with instrumental pyrotechnics, and undulating vocals with bassy robustness. And even though he's one of those jack-of-all-trades types (also a working actor), his music brims with all the ingenuity, sincerity, and talent as an accomplished folk troubadour who plays purely for the joy of it. It also helps that his backing band The Sussex Wit are also a talented bunch.

Johnny Flynn released his sophomore album Been Listening earlier this year in June in the UK, and the album was released in the US and Canada late last month. Get a taste of Johnny Flynn with the second single from Been Listening "Barnacled Ship":

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adele returns with "Rolling in the Deep"

When I had read that Adele had been influenced by country for her upcoming sophomore album, 21, I was a bit nervous about what to expect. But "Rolling in the Deep", the album's first single put my nerves to rest. The track sounds like outlaw country rock if you added in some strong piano lines and with Adele's soulful vocals adding in some bluesy glamor. It's like a mash up of doo-wop, delta blues, with the catchiness of pop to create a toe-tapping, hand-clapping soul song done oh so right. The video for the single features in studio footage from Adele's recording sessions in Malibu, California. It's actually refreshing to see the singer who's songs are often about heartbreak, actually having fun. Enjoy the video for "Rolling in the Deep":

Lykki Li releases "Get Some" video

Following the recent free digital release of "Get Some", Swedish lovely Lykke Li is already serving up a video for it. The video for the steamy single features some footage from girl-power sci-fi black and white B-movies and Lykke Li dressed as an alien strangely remiscent of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" while performing some scary witchcraft.

Enjoy the eerie yet somehow sexy video of "Get Some":

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Toh Kay to release split album

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Tomas Kalnoky continues with his solo efforts as Toh Kay with the release of a split album with Dan Potthast of MU330. The split, entitled You By Me: Volume 1, features the two singer/songwriters covering 5 of each other's songs. The album is the first in a series that allows for two artists to reinterpret each others songs with a no rules sort of openness. You By Me: Volume 1 is set for a November 16th release by the Pentimento Music Company

Here's a preview of what you can expect of the album with the video for Toh Kay's version of "I've Set Sail":

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire (2006)

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My introduction to Sean Lennon happened randomly when during a live broadcast of HitRECord’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s collaborative media project) final Summer in the City show he and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl took the stage and sang a couple songs. I was intrigued but didn’t actually act upon it until several months after when I came across Sean Lennon’s album Friendly Fire at a Barnes & Noble. Any research would reveal that Sean Lennon is John Lennon’s son but being that I only have the most cursory knowledge of John Lennon and his music, I feel I was able to appreciate the album in a way that Sean Lennon expected: able to stand on its own musical merits and the effort the songwriter put into it.
Inspired by real events from Sean Lennon’s life where his girlfriend cheated on him with his best friend who then died in a motorcycle accident, a lot of the lyrics have a lot to do with his feelings toward them and sometimes himself. Considering how tragic the circumstances, I was surprised how melancholic the album wasn’t. For the first part of the album, the tracks are reflective, contemplative, but oddly never really that sad. Or if they are, they’re also oddly hopeful or resigned. Around “Tomorrow” the album gets a more positive feeling with only vague hints of any sort of sadness until space-rock-esque “Would I Be The One” and album ender “Falling Out of Love” which sounds rather happy with its Elton John-like piano trimmings but has some of the most dark lyrics on the album with some absolutely gorgeous arrangements. The song reveals the end result of all the craziness: A man unwilling to love for fear of being hurt again which is presented in an almost stunningly beautiful way.
The album is probably the best example of a fluid album I’ve found so far. There are really no standout tracks on it, rather each song contributes to the overall pathos. Similarly to artists like Regina Spektor, the music wouldn’t be out of place in a soundtrack lending itself rather nicely to background music but drawing attention to itself at just the right time. That’s not to say the music isn’t capable of standing on its own but rather doesn’t insist upon itself. The songs on Friendly Fire blend seamlessly into each other and Sean Lennon’s vocals are almost disarmingly quiet, and the songwriting is liberally sprinkled with lyrical gems that you’re sure to miss if you’re not paying attention.

Considering this was the biggest music gamble I’ve ever taken (I spent around $25 on the album including tax after only hearing the live broadcast performance), I was pretty pleased with the result. The songs aren’t particularly catchy (they’re not meant to be) but still have this way of staying with you long after they’re over. I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who after listening to the album once wasn't compelled to immediately hit repeat.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hello Mtn - "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (Neil Young Cover)

You might remember me mentioning Hello Mtn before. Hello Mtn is Horse Feathers' Catherine Odell's other musical endeavor with Matthew Morgan. Today the band released one of the first songs they recorded together, a cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", featuring cello, Odell's light airy vocals with Matthew Morgan backing, and some guitar. The glorious pairing works marvelously together and just makes much more excited for their upcoming record.

Listen to Hello Mtn's version of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" here:
Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young Cover) by hellomtn

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Watch: The Tallest Man on Earth - "Love Is All"

Somewhere between the constant touring in support of The Wild Hunt and the recording and releasing Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird EP, The Tallest Man on Earth aka Kristian Matsson had time to film or rather give the go ahead for the music video for "Love Is All". The video consists of Super 8 footage compiled by director Johan Stolpe that brings the nostalgic track to almost critically heart-rending levels.

Watch the video for "Love Is All" here:

Lissie - Catching A Tiger (2010)

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“David Lynch Loves Lissie”

That’s the headline that started it all. Paste Magazine posted an article about David Lynch’s love for Lissie in August and I was immediately intrigued (Not intrigued enough to just read the article strangely but intrigued to do some research). Who is Lissie? What does she do and why does David Lynch, filmmaker extraordinaire, love her? Well Lissie is a twenty-something singer/songwriter from the Midwest. Thanks Google. First and second question answered. The last question came only when I picked up her debut album Catching A Tiger last month. The thing that sets her apart from all the singer/songwriters out there is the sometimes gritty rock style she plays in, while wailing her heart out in a way that demands your instantaneous attention. And yet she has this aura on nonchalance as well. Like she could care less about these peeks into her soul she gives. Her vocals are raw but also controlled in this way that makes you marvel at how easy she makes it seem. “Record Collector” has a swagger and folk tale lyricism that coupled with Lissie’s effortless yodels lead you to expect a country album while “When I’m Alone” and “In Sleep” elevate it a bit with emotion-invoking pop rock goodness.

Catching A Tiger is this fluid genre-bending work with its mix of personal and storytelling lyrics, folksy country twang (“Record Collector”), piano balladry (“Bully”), hyperactive feel good rock (“Cuckoo”); It all keeps attached with Lissie’s emotive vocals. Just when you think you know what to expect, Lissie shatters those expectations by bringing in some different sort of influence. In that way, she keeps the album from being this boring sobfest or standard singer/songwriter fare. Lissie doesn't just bring you on an emotional roller coaster but baits you to follow her by pretending not to care while giving you reassuring glimpses at just the right time.

Get a glimpse of Lissie with a live video of "In Sleep":

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Watch: Cast Spells - "Glamorous Glowing"

Maps & Atlases' frontman and Dave Davison sets off on his own this December as Cast Spells, his sideproject of similar awesomeness. To celebrate, there was the release of his debut music video for "Glamorous Glowing". The video has this multi-colored cube that's almost Rubik's cube like, floating and changing colors in a variety of different nature settings. Watch the video here:

Check out the December tour dates for Cast Spells with Steven Mason
12/14 Red Palace - Washington D.C.
12/15 M. Room - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12/16 Knitting Factory - New York, New York
12/17 Mercury Lounge - New York, New York
12/18 Great Scott - Allston, Massachusetts
12/19 Il Motore - Montreal, Canada
12/20 Wrongbar - Toronto, Canada

So if he's playing anywhere near you, go see Dave Davision sing heartfelt folk-inspired playful pop and be amazing. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Watch: Left With Pictures - "October Waits"

Sometimes inspiration for their monthly In Time project is hard to come by for chamber pop Brits, Left With Pictures. However their most recent track/video "October Waits", directed by Ed Christmas, with its spooky clustered vocal accompaniment, dark and airy balladic a capella, and setting in an abandoned hospital wouldn't surprise listeners with its inspiration from October's major celebrated holiday: Halloween. The track features Toby Knowles on vocals whose lower range gives the track some extra oomph, and features some bone-chillingly awesome viola solos in between all the swooping and swaying in the vocals.

Watch the latest In Time release "October Waits" here:

Left With Pictures has also announced plans to release an In Time album sometime in January 2011 and perform a release party/Christmas party for their label Organ Grinder Records on Dec 17 in London. Stay tuned for some info on the album.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Watch: Good Old War - "That's Some Dream"

It's hard to believe that somewhere during all their whirlwind touring, folk-pop troubadours Good Old War had the time to do anything, much less film a music video. But in a case of shooting two birds with one stone, the trio released the video for "That's Some Dream". Directed by Andy Patch, the video follows the band around on tour showing some live show performances and everything in between. Watch the delightfully charming video:

Good Old War is currently on tour in support of their sophomore self-titled album.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Watch: Local Natives - "Who Knows Who Cares"

Local Natives continue their trend of rapid music video releasing (a la Beyonce) with the premiere of a new video for "Who Knows Who Cares". The video marks their fifth release and features the band and friends road-tripping into the wilderness where they have a picnic that turns into a food-fight with an assortment of vibrant colored fruits before turning into a bonfire concert filled for a bunch of random, attractive youngsters who appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

Watch the video for "Who Knows Who Cares":

Lykke Li - "Get Some"

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Lykke Li makes good on her promises of new songs by releasing a brand spanking new single "Get Some". The song with its hypnotizing drum beat and burlesque swagger is a sexier Lykke Li than her debut Youth Novels might have lead listeners to believe but also seems a natural progression. Lykke Li focuses her drive and passion established in "I'm Good, I'm Gone" and "Breaking It Up" into a sultry, come hither display of power.

The single along with B-side "Paris Blue" are available for free download at Lykke Li's website here.

Listen to "Get Some":
Lykke Li - Get Some by radarmaker

Anya Marina to release School Spirit EP

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Anya Marina has more or less been quietly at work since her 2009 sophomore release Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II. However some of the fruits of her labor can be seen with the 5 song School Spirit EP, scheduled for a November 15 release, that consists of a series of duets with some of her musical pals. The first track from the EP, "Whatsit" features Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor on vocals and a grungy upbeat guitar rock sound that was merely hinted at on Slow & Steady Seduction. Stream "Whatsit" on Spin.com here.

Spirit School will be released digitally only by Marina's label Chop Shop and features more of her music friends such as Telekinesis' Michael Lerner and Sam Fogarino of Interpol.

Anya Marina is also working on yet untitled third album due sometime in Spring 2011.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Live!: Bowerbirds with Des Ark and Death Vessel at the Bowery Ballroom

Roughly two hours after the concert began, Phil Moore, Beth Tacular, and Yan Westerlund aka Bowerbirds take to the stage at the Bowery Ballroom.
Their appearance silences the previous rowdy crowd of excited concertgoers and those who had plied themselves with alcohol to ease the wait. The trio is joined by backup instrumentalists Mark Paulson (their old multi-instrumentalist before Westerlund) and first time tour band mate Rachel Rollins.
After each member takes one of the several instruments strategically scattered around the stage, audience cheers launch the band into their first song “Dark Horse” whose reference to New York rouses an even more excited audience response.
After previous acts Aimee Argote of Des Ark and Death Vessel’s slower, calmer, and more somber sets; the Bowerbirds toe-tapping full band arrangements were a welcome change. Various instruments including homemade marimba, bass drum, violin, and electric guitar compliment the band’s standard accordion, guitar, and drum kit.
The band delivered multi-textured, driving renditions of such favorites as “Northern Lights”, “Teeth”, and “Beneath Your Tree”; not often heard songs such as “La Denigracion” and “Matchstick Maker” (bonus tracks off their 2007 debut Hymns for a Dark Horse); and introducing two new songs the band had premiered only days before (“Brave World” and another unnamed song).
Between songs, members zigzagged across the stage, switching instruments and readying themselves for each song which they played with remarkably practiced precision. Feedback problems during the very first song from the accordion and later from the electric bass’ pickup were the only blemishes on the bands magical transportation from the crowded city venue.
The band offered up light stage banter revealing the winners of a beard contest they held before playing the last few songs of their set. Aside from the cheering that both preceded and followed it, the band’s last song “House of Diamonds” was met with appreciative silence by the crowd followed by unwavering applause that ushered the band’s reemergence for a two song encore (“Hooves” and “My Oldest Memory”).

If you haven’t seen Bowerbirds live in concert, I strongly suggest you do. Their performance was awe-inspiring, uplifting, fun, engaging, and almost terrifying for its ability to make you forget where you were. Whereas I initially had doubts about how the band’s intimate sound would do in a larger venue, their rustic upbeat folk songs erased all thought of the crowded venue and filled the hall to the brim with nature-inspired sound.
The band’s playing was surprisingly precise especially considering how many instruments each member played per concert (with the exception of guitarist/vocalist Phil Moore, the rest of the band averaged about 3 each).
Their support consisted of talented and capable songwriters with emotion-evoking skills and great onstage presences. Aimee Argote’s onstage banter an obvious concert highlights as she explained the reason her songs were so short, described her job as a songwriter and concert opener, and countered a concertgoer’s request for her to take off her pants with a hilarious “How much money do you have?”.
Death Vessel was Argote’s opposite. His songs were soft and often twice as long, requiring patience and focus to really get them. Whereas Argote’s playing included volume-play and was firmly rooted on Earth, Death Vessel’s voice with its soul-rousing tenor soared ever upwards.
Discovering Bowerbirds about a year ago, I had been eagerly anticipating the moment I could see them in concert; studying their songs and lyrics with an almost obsessive fervor. Their uniqueness which drew me to them is the same reason I thoroughly enjoyed their concert. Instead of shambling onstage playing the same arrangements, the addition of the new uncommon instruments assured they would maintain the audience’s attention as well as displaying the band’s versatility. Seeing Bowerbirds live transformed my fanboy obsession into full blown respect and cemented their place as a definite contender as one of my favorite bands.

Watch: Daft Punk - "Derezzed"

So earlier in the year it was revealed that French techno-pop duo Daft Punk were working on the soundtrack for Disney's Tron Legacy. The latest trailer for the movie featuring one of their songs was just released and surprisingly the trailer is also the music video for the new track called "Derezzed".
The track is pretty short, clocking in at a little over a minute and a half, which while not out of place for a trailer, kind of is for a music video, and a track from Daft Punk. The track itself fits in pretty well with the futuristic movie while also sounding like what they'd make on their own.
The music video/trailer is pretty much what'd you expect, including dazzling visuals of what fans can expect from the new technological innovations that enabled the movie while also featuring the duo themselves, momentarily.

Knowing that the duo plans on releasing the soundtrack commercially, I can't really argue about song length because there's a possibility that it could be longer. And really that's the only thing that I really find wrong with the trailer/music video/track. But like all trailers do, the video got me super pumped for Tron Legacy. So for that, kudos.

Watch the video:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eardrums Pop release second digital single

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Eardrums Pop latest free digital single is from Finnish band Paperfangs. The band creates sparkly dream-pop not unlike first digital single artist Tiny Fireflies, except Paperfangs involves noticeable use of electronics and is much more upbeat. The second single features the two original songs "The Fastest Planes" and "The Vastest Plains" followed by a cover of US duo Kiss Kiss Fantastic's "Violet. They're certainly a talented bunch as they even made their own cover art. Learn more about the artists, the project, and download the single here.

Listen to the Paperfangs' digital single:
Paperfangs - ePop006 - digital single by EardrumsPop

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now Streaming: NPR unveils 24 hour music channel.

So NPR continues to be awesome by introducing the All Songs 24/7 Music Channel. I've only been listening for about an hour by I've already experience quite an eclectic blend of music. My first foray into the station was "Common People" by William Shatner followed by "Section 1" by The Polyphonic Spree. Where else can you hear that sort of mash up? Nowhere, really. Since then there has been songs from artists such as Beirut, Santigold, Salif Keita, and Gang of Four. I was introduced to some artists I haven't heard of before but were linked to other I did know about by good music and good timing. Listen to NPR's 24 hour music station here.

Ingrid Michaelson releases "Parachute" video

After writing the song, deeming it too poppy, and it finding its way to British pop star Cheryl Cole, Ingrid Michaelson has reclaimed the track. Released as a single last month, today the video premiered at EW.com. The video directed by Adria Petty (who also directed Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" and Duffy's "Mercy" videos) features Michaelson as a jet-pack wearing Indiana Jones-like adventurer and is markedly different than Cole's high fashion, choreographed endeavor. The track is still a bit poppy and yet somehow works for Michaelson, who trades in her trademark glasses for styled hair and make-up, in a way that's still enjoyable and sincere as her other productions. You can see the recently premiered video here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Freelance Whales release new track "Enzymes"

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Queens indie pop quintet Freelance Whales recently released new track "Enzymes" for Green Label Sound. The track features heavier drums than anything Weathervanes listeners would have been exposed to and has these overlapping intertwining vocals while still using their typical build-up formula. Each instrument is clear and fits together to create this rather dark sounding contemplative gem. Give "Enzymes" a listen here.

Eardrums Pop releases first digital single!

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Norway based blog Eardrums Music's net label Eardrums Pop kicked off the week by releasing their first ever digital single. The single is the first in a series of free monthly digital releases the net label will be releasing. The single from Tiny Fireflies consists of two original "Holding Pattern" and "Snow", and a cover of the Claudine Longet version of Skeeter Davis' "End of the World" as well as cover art by UK illustator Minkee. You can get more info on the project, the single, and the artists' at Eardrums Pop here.

Listen to the digital single:
Tiny Fireflies - ePop005 - digital single by EardrumsPop

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Little Pony release "Hard to Be Good"

Norwegian folk pop quintet My Little Pony (whom I first discovered on an Eardrums Music blog compilation) recently released their first single from their upcoming album, Making Marks, earlier this week. The single, "Hard to Be Good", comes with covers of Nomber 5's "Harry Hamlin" and The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back", its bright and sunny and is sure to remind listeners of warm sunny days when things get colder (and the album is released in the winter). The video for the single, is bright, colorful, and even a little nonsensical with marching bands, rollerblading costumed girls , a sea of balloon, and an old man scientist that brings it all together. Enjoy the video for "Hard to Be Good":

My Little Pony - Hard To Be Good from simen&synne on Vimeo.

Punch Brothers - Antifogmatic

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My discovery of Punch Brothers was one of those happy little accidents that occurred when browsing through Rolling Stone to see if anything interesting was mentioned. It was in fact: There was an article mentioning Punch Brothers and their habit to perform covers from all sorts of bands like The Carter Family, Radiohead, The Strokes, even some Mozart and Bach. Well that peaked my interest as to how a so-called bluegrass band would do all these covers. A few minutes later I was sampling their CD and really liked what I heard. Punch Brothers' Antifogmatic might be one of the most epic albums I've listened to in quite some time, if not my whole life. Why's this? Well sure they have this bluegrass instrumental assortment of mandolin, guitar, double bass, banjo, and fiddle but it's how they use them that really captivates you. Each instrument has its place in adding to the overall feel of the song: whether its the chops and glissando of the fiddle in "You Are". "Don't Need No" features fiddle player Gabe Witcher on lead vocals and describes the structure in the first verse: "Don't need no chorus, cash, or candy now". Instead, the chorus-less song is mostly instrumental featuring flashy virtuosic displays from each band member within its 4 minute time frame. You'd never guess the song is merely about having a friend who happens to be a bartender because the song is just too interesting for something so mundane. "Rye Whiskey" with its group shout vocals, lyrics about the strong influence of alcohol, and swaggering sounds like your typical bluegrass fare and yet something about it is different.

The album is jam-packed with all these great musical moments and gives the impression that it's more about conveying the feeling of the song than adhering to any strict style which why it sometimes diverts from hoe-down party bluegrass ("Me and Us" being the prime example). The album does a wonderful job of providing an eclectic blend of songs whether its the good-times party type ("Don't Need No"), ballads ("Alex" "Missy"), adventurous epics ("Woman and the Bell"), and everything in between. Its an album for everyone, even if bluegrass isn't particularly your thing. Give Punch Brothers an listen in this live video of album opener "You Are":

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Local Natives release "Wide Eyes" video

California indie folk rock quintet Local Natives are back with a brand new music video for "Wide Eyes". Whereas their last video was bright with vibrant colors and an assortment of delightful scenes on the beach, the new video is considerably darker. In it, a seemingly normal man is stalked by a large rubber shark that interferes with his life just by being there. At least you think he's merely imagining the shark but as it begins to interact with the various people in his life, you're suddenly not so sure. The man's fear finally boils over in the video's climatic end scene. I won't spoil it for you, since it's pretty awesome. Instead watch the video below:

Left With Pictures' September In Time

September is almost over and that means Left With Pictures is serving up another freshly made In Time song. The latest for September "This Light", shot by Ed Christmas, features all five members of the band. The video, unlike their others is more traditional music video with the band performing in front of each other in a fancy chateau-esque building. The song itself, is interesting in the fact that its created from several synthesizers, drum machine, and guitar as opposed to their normal eclectic assortment of instruments. And yet, the song is so deeply rooted in their sunny chamber pop style that you probably won't mind the change. Enjoy Left With Pictures' Ninth In Time composition "This Light":

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wildlife - Strike Hard, Young Diamond EP

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If you've ever heard of Wildlife, chances it was through the someone slipping their songs in the leak of The Arcade Fire's The Suburbs or maybe someone (probably Canadian) talking about how good "Sea Dreamer" is. And it is. Probably one of the best new songs I've heard, to be quite honest. Why? Because it's like a piece of contemporary semi-program music. There's a repeated 3-note theme on synth that starts before anything else does and continues pretty much throughout and establishes this mysterious sea scene before the band enters with jangly, ragged, clashing waves of sound. There's an understood sense of balance between more subdued playing and a full out intensity where the vocals are punky and each point driven home with this marvelous ebb and flow that takes you wherever it decides to go. However, while "Sea Dreamer" is quite epic, the EP proves that Wildlife is totally versatile and has more than one-hit wonder potential. Lead track "Stand in the Water" is another strong track, with little subtle things contribute to its greatness. The vocals have this growled out quality sometimes which I found out to be absolutely amazing. Unlike "Sea Dreamer" which crescendos and decrescendos, "Stand in the Water" stays constant pretty much all throughout. The instrumental parts are amazingly well done and move tightly together much like a jam-rock band's would. "When I Get Home" has a bluesy feel mixed with the band's powerpop-like stylings. "American Eyes" is the EP's ballad track, adding in strings to enhance the tracks' emotion-stirring aspects, to brillant effect. "Money From God" with its hand-claps and start-stop jangle guitar plays like a party track, drawing up visions of beach party fun but not sloppy enough to make it into a kegger or something like that. The track refuses to lower itself to mere party music despite its throwback beach-pop inspired sound thanks to great playing, harmony-laden shout vocals, and a carefully maintained sense of self.

Strike Hard, Young Diamond might startle you with its cohesiveness: proving that Wildlife are capable storytellers as well as talented musicians. The EP has a maturity that one wouldn't expect on a debut and yet Wildlife seems to have done this almost effortlessly. Each track seems to have different influences and yet blends together with what can be called the band's sound (it's hard to say since listeners only have these five songs to go off of) and the other tracks seamlessly. If this is what we can expect from the band's full length debut (out Nov. 16), then sign me up pronto.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Now Streaming: Beep! - City of the Future

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I found out about Beep! and this album City of the Future from tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus via tweet. Nate Brenner plays bass with her but apparently he also has his own musical endeavors; one of which is Beep!, an experimental jazz trio composed of Nate Brenner on bass, Michael Coleman on piano, and Sam Ospovat on drums (at least according to their Myspace). I had never heard of someone using experimental jazz to define themselves so I was really intrigued (even though I'm vary of anything daring to use the word "experimental"). What listeners can expect is sonic exploration used to conjure up different scenes and even cultures whether they be the Orient in the pentatonic rooted "Golden Chinese Amulet" or"Mbira" which wouldn't be out of place with tUnE-yArDs' African-inspired sound. Beep! is smooth jazz at some points with occasional random points of ragged attention drawing sound. That might sound bad but merely it's music that refuses to be a part of the background, instead drawing attention to itself at key moments. Listen to Beep!'s City of the Future here:
Latest tracks by Beep

If you like what you hear, the album will be available on December 2nd on Third Culture Records.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pitstop: The Lost Cavalry

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The Lost Cavalry is a British five-piece featuring Mark West, former guitarist for Fanfarlo. The Lost Cavalry have similar but not congruent assortment of instruments like glockenspiel, concertina, melodica, ukulele, in addition to the more standard guitar, bass, drums, and vocals but you can expect more than a mere replication of Fanfarlo's style. Instead the songs are brimming with emotion: introspective, reflective, stirring, and yet always triumphant in their own unique way. Though aptly literate, their songs are amazingly folksy and finely tuned adding instrumental ornamentation at just the right times.

The Lost Cavalry just released their debut EP Waves Freezes to Rolling Hills last month. Give The Lost Cavalry a listen with this acoustic recording of their song "Desert Tracks":

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lykke Li releases short film and announces select shows

Sometimes artist do just that: make art. Swedish indie-pop artist Lykke Li starred in a recently released short film by Moses Berkson called Solarium shot in the desert. The film has Lykke Li being all lovely and doe-eyed dancing in a multitude of outfits, in addition to playing with mirrors and digging with shovels. The film is silent except for a primal soundtrack created by Lykke Li and Bjorn Yttling. Of the film Lykke Li says:

A major heart break and a post tour depression drove a very delusional LL out to the desert with some friends and a super 8 camera.

A major sun burn later, some shattered mirrors, I found myself, my ego, my thoughts, my expectations and my image to be a burden, hard to get rid of, if ever possible?

Silence my dear, let the images speak and listen to the sound of my broken drum.

How can one just be?

To celebrate, Lykke Li is playing a small number of tour dates where she promises to play a bunch of new songs:
Nov 1 Berlin, Germany - Heimathafen
Nov 2 Paris, France - La Maroquinerie
Nov 4 London, England - Heaven
Nov 8 Stockholm, Sweden - Kagelbanan
Dec 1 New York City, USA - Le Poisson Rouge

And proving that Americans love their quirky Swedish artists, her NYC tickets have already sold out within about a week of her announcing it. Damn.

Watch the short film here:

Watch - Sleigh Bells - "Infinity Guitars"

Some bands release music videos along with their singles before the actual album release but not Sleigh Bells and when you see their debut music video for "Infinity Guitars" you'll probably find yourself totally ok with the fact that their debut music video comes months after the album. The video, features a uniformed Alexis Krauss sporting a letterman jacket, fancy new car, and swinging a fear-inspiring bat. Combine that with Derek Miller's entrance playing the guitar, cheerleaders, and a pile of guitars on fire and you've got one awesomely badass video. They even throw in a street credible dog for extra measure. Enjoy Sleigh Bells' debut music video for "Infinity Guitars":

Monday, September 20, 2010

Watch: OK Go - "White Knuckles"

OK Go have always produce ridiculously awesome music videos for their songs like the treadmill choreography of "Here It Goes Again" or the two different versions of "This Too Shall Pass" (one with a marching band, the other a crazy multi-step mouse-trap like machine) but their latest video for "White Knuckles" takes the cake. Featuring swivel chair choreography, a ridiculous amount of stacking cups, and a buttload of trained rescue dogs, the video definitely goes down as one of the best and cutest video the band has released to date. And if the awesome video isn't enough to make you go "Awwww", the band will also donate a portion of the video sale proceeds to the ASPCA. It's nice to see that band's split with Capitol hasn't hindered their video-making. Enjoy "White Knuckles"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Watch: First Aid Kit - "Ghost Town"

Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg aka First Aid Kit are young, still in their teens in fact. And yet they write music that's almost shocking mature and with roots going back far longer than either of them have probably been alive. Releasing their debut album The Big Black & The Blue, whose first single "Hard Believer" and "I Met Up With The King" tackled religious and social elements, and the latter of which gets its name from a song about Elvis Priestly, their latest single "Ghost Town" has a classy country music vibe, an air of melancholy, but still remains stunningly pretty with the sisters' trademark harmonies ever-present. The video, directed by Mats Udd, was filmed during the summer in Stockholm and inspired by the 1970s film Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The video depicts the sisters dressed in long flowy white gowns traversing the Swedish wildness to watch movies on an old school projector. Interloped are scenes of the sisters standing in a field with skeleton masks on. Attempting to show the contrast between light and dark, I wish they girls had disposed of the masks and let the lyrics and the rest of the video really display the contrasts. There's a kind of quiet melancholy and nostalgia to be associated with their pilgrimage into the depths of the woods to watch old movies and though the lyrics are quite sad, the sisters are shown smiling several times as they make their trek. However weird the skeleton masks seem, the video for the most part is pretty great and showcases what the sister do so well: sing lovely songs and be all together lovely in general.

Enjoy the video for "Ghost Town":

Fleet Foxes' second album nearly complete

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To anyone who follows Seattle folk troubadours Fleet Foxes on Facebook the news that they are working on their sophomore album won't come as much of a shock, but to everyone else: prepare to jump for joy. Earlier this week, this lovely announcement was posted:

Hey all, it's been a bit since a recording update. Well, recording is done! We are flying to New York tomorrow to mix and master the album and will have information about release date and when you'll get to hear a song or two SOON. Geologically soon but soon. -Robin

So I'm guessing we can expect the album sometime in 2011 which is exciting as the band's self-titled debut album was released about two years ago. The band has promised (via their facebook statuses) to share previews of the album when they're available so stay tuned for stuff of that nature.

Cymbals Eat Guitars premiere two new tracks

Apparently Cymbals Eat Guitars are a band that like to play a new song or two during their live shows. I say "apparently" because I've never actually been to one of their live shows, so I base this off the band's tweets and video content. During a live set at BBC Radio 6 the band played two new songs "Definite Darkness" and "Wavelengths". The two tracks are in a similar style to the punk-y jangle rock of their debut Why There Are Mountains while at the same time different. The songs definitely have a maturity to them. "Definite Darkness" is the weaker of the two new tracks but is not without its merit. It switches from soft rock ballad to something more jagged quite a few times in a similar ocean wave like manner of "And The Hazy Sea" with the occasionally strained vocals giving the song a interesting sense of turbulence. "Wavelengths" has this meandering sense of being that reminds me of the few Pavement songs I've listened to. The track uses the similar juxtaposition of soft and more piercing sounds together but the way it does it, seemed stronger than "Definite Darkness". The rougher part comes right at the climax of the song to give you this feeling of "Ahhh" after things become smoother. If this is what to expect off Cymbals Eat Guitars' next record, sign me up.

You can listen to/download the two new tracks here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Watch: Freelance Whales - "Hannah"

Only a couple months ago, Freelance Whales released their debut album Weathervanes, and a video for "Generator ^ 2nd Floor" was quick to follow. Now, the band is releasing a brand new video for "Hannah". In it, the band plays some sort of futuristic arcade game/musical composite of all their instruments while a ghostly faceless girl had a spooky encounter with a little boy. The girl remains elusive throughout while both motivating the boy to follow while also creepily stalking him. At the end, you find out the purpose of the the wacky multi-faceted machine was to enable the two to meet. The video is artsy, awesome, and even a little sweet. Enjoy the video for "Hannah":

Friday, September 10, 2010

tUnE-yArDs remixes Jamie Lidell

Your first introduction to an artist probably shouldn't be in the form of a remix, but mine was. A fan of tUnE-yArDs, my ears perked up at the news that she had done a remix of Jamie Lidell's "Compass". I had heard of Jamie Lidell as sort of a blender of art-pop and soul and R&B elements but never really mustered up the energy to give any of his music the listen it probably deserves. Having not heard the original "Compass", listening to the remix I could only assume where Garbus had left her unique mark in the form of crash-bang percussion and her own interjected vocals. The remix is part of an EP that features other remixes of the song and is given to those who purchase tickets for Jamie Lidell's upcoming fall tour, but if you have no intentions of seeing him just yet, you can listen to the track here.

Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People EP (2010)

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Sufjan Stevens' 8 track digital All Delighted People EP is built around two different versions of title track "All Delighted People". Though only thought of as an EP that Stevens randomly released at the end of August, it's clear from the beginning melancholic strains of "All Delighted People (Original Version)" that there's so much more. Described by Stevens himself as "a dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon's 'Sounds of Silence'" the "long form epic ballad" draws a level of grandeur I didn't know could be achieved. At nearly 12 minutes long, the original version of the title track contains so many different musical ideas. The beginning sounds a little like the Jimi Hendrix Experience with the progressive rock stylings of Yes' "I've Seen All Good People" with elements of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and yet distinctly original. The track has these tremendous ebbs and flows where the build ups includes choirs, sweeping string sections, raucous percussion; and the breaks features emotional stirring simplicity and quiet. The track is something that could've been released solely by itself, and yet is bundled with folksy ballads. By the time "All Delighted People (Classical Rock Version)" hits, Stevens has significantly distracted you from the EP's grandiose start to be able to regard the track with new ears. The new versions lacks the ominous foreboding present in the original version, the more upbeat nature of the version masking up some of the rather dark lyrics. "Arnika" follows off from the more psychedelic and electronic-tinged end of the classical rock version with a softer, more introspective, lilting return to the folk aspect of the album. "Djohariah", in all of its 17 minute glory, combines several successful parts of the album: brass, psychedelic rock inspired guitar solos, and hymn-like choral vocalises. Captivatingly pseudo-minimalistic, the track's first definitive lyrics aren't uttered until nearly 12 minutes in, but manages to maintain all of your attention up to and follow that moment.

Sufjan Stevens' EP has its own remarkable stature. I had listened to some of his music before and while taken with it, this was the first release that all throughout rendered me absolutely speechless and awestruck. Each track is masterfully crafted and produced and manages to fit together with the other one incredibly well. So while some Sufjan's fans wait with nail-bitting anticipation for the release of The Age of Adz in October, I'll be content to just listen to this glorious EP, with its awe-inspiring expansive size on pretty much non-stop repeat. You can listen to the EP on Stevens' band camp here.