Friday, May 28, 2010

Now Streaming: Good Old War - Good Old War

The latest album to enjoy streaming is none other than Good Old War's sophomore self-titled album and I for one couldn't be more excited. Unlike the other Now Streaming features, the album is available for streaming at Good Old War's myspace. Expect an album review shortly and to shorten the wait enjoy the archived ustream show from the 19th:

Once again, you can listen to the whole album in full (well, minus the two unreleased iTunes pre-order bonus tracks) at their myspace:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Drums premiere Forever & Ever Amen video

Brooklyn beach pop band The Drums are back with a new single and music video for "Forever & Ever Amen"which they premiered earlier this month. The new video is similar to the video for "Best Friend" that featured vocalist/bandleader Jonathan Pierce dancing and singing while bandmates played and then packed up around him. Instead the band travels from an alleyway, plays on a roof, and then plays in a youth social club that is more or less torn down while they're still playing by a bunch of rebellious, destructive, angry youths. Fans of Pierce's loveable dance moves won't be disappointed.

Watch the video for "Forever & Ever Amen" here:

Also The Drums are releasing an album next month so stayed tuned for more about that.

Jonsi - Go (2010)

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I had missed the big Sigur Ros phase seeming all of my friends went through a couple years ago and so I was totally content to ignore Icelandic singer/songwriter Jonsi's debut album Go that was released early last month despite the increasing number of magazine features, interviews, and reviews. All of that changed last week when I saw Jonsi perform the album's lead track "Go Do" on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Energetic and upbeat yet calm and tranquil at the same time, it's no surprise that I was almost immediately motivated to give the album a listen. Jonsi's intriguinglly colorful bird-inspired dress certainly didn't hinder my curiousity either (that and I'm a sucker for finely played ukelele). Go did not disappoint with downright rapturous arrangements by composer Nico Muhly that no doubt aid Jonsi's attention catching falsetto, and you certainly don't have to know anything about the Icelandic language or culture to enjoy the stunningly well-crafted record. I should mention Jonsi sings predominantly in English on this album but there are moments where he smoothly shifts between the two languages. After second track "Animal Arithmetic" and it's lighting-fast hyperactive intensity, the rest of the album maintains a steady (though in no way lethargic) calm. A favorite moment of my mine of the album is an instrumental melody in "Boy Lilikoi" that sounds like a melodic line from Le Loup's "Planes Like Vultures" (the repetitive "Oh this world was made for ending" line). Whether that was intentional or not remains to be seen but it's always nice when music syncs up like that. I heard in an interview that Jonsi had been working on several songs on the album for about 10 years, and while impressive I certainly hope it doesn't take that long before he delivers a follow-up album but if that's the price of such well-written music I think we can all wait.

Preview the album with video for lead/single track "Go Do":

Or you can stream the whole album at Jonsi's website:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Live!: John Craigie at The Cubbyhole

This thursday evening I had the great pleasure of seeing folk musician John Craigie play at show at The Cubbyhole coffeehouse in Poughkeepsie. Firstly because he traveled all the way from California and put a Poughkeepsie show on his East Coast tour but also because of the stellar caliber of his performing. John Craigie's guitar, vocal, and harmonica stylings were all top notch. Playing original songs and the occasional cover, taking audience requests, playing funny songs about Chuck Norris and a myriad of other topics, John Craigie was a real audience pleaser. The last time I attended a show at The Cubbyhole, I had the misfortune of sitting through one of those generic singer/songwriter types with predictable lyrics. Fortunately this show was not the case. John's lyrics were smart, his melodies memorable, and he gave off the vibe of someone that was truly glad to be doing what he does and to be playing for people. John Craigie might not be all that well known but he totally deserves to be. His talent is awe-inspiring as he adapted several of his "rowdier" songs to fit the mellow venue and played an audience requested "Wagon Wheel" pretty much effortless. Here's to hoping there's more on the horizon for this folk musician from California.

Check out John Craigie's music here at his myspace page:

Janelle Monae dazzles on Letterman

So earlier this week Janelle Monae made her late night television debut performing her latest single "Tightrope" from the recently released debut album The Arch-Android. Her performance was probably one of the most energetic I've seen on any late night show and reminded me of Michael Jackson (watch her feet as she glides across the stage) and James Brown (an assistant bring her a cape). Enjoy Janelle Monae's performance of "Tightrope" on Letterman here:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Good Old War Ustream show on 5/19

Lots of Good Old War love today. The indie folk pop trio from Philly have their sophomore album coming out on June 1st and in support of that the band has been doing little live concerts on Ustream. The first of which happened on May 10th and can be viewed here:

Their second and hopefully not last live show was originally scheduled for this past Monday but when one of the band members took ill, they moved the date to this Wednesday May 19th at 7pm Eastern. Viewers get will the opportunity to listen to a relaxed live concert as well as hear a bit about what the band is up to and ask them questions. So if that sounds like your cup of tee you can check it out tommorrow at the following link:

The trio has also been slowly (I think weekly) been adding songs off their new album to their Purevolume to preview. You can listen to "My Own Sinking Ship", "I Should Go", and "That's Some Dream" as well as some older songs/acoustic sessions here:

Also the band embarks on their tour this week so make sure to catch a show if they're anywhere near you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watch: Good Old War - "My Own Sinking Ship" live

Good Old War's new album comes out June 1st, and so to ease the wait a bit they played an acoustic set for Sargent House. It features the three-part vocal harmonies fans have come to love and features, instead of on drums, drummer Tim Arnold on accordion. Enjoy "My Own Sinking Ship":

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fanfarlo to be featured on latest Twilight Saga soundtrack

As much as I hate the Twilight franchise, more and more of my favorite musicians keep getting involved in it. This time it's British chamber pop group Fanfarlo. Fanfarlo has just announced that it will be contributing the track "Atlas" to the Eclipse soundtrack. The track will be sixth on the album alongside artists like Bat for Lashes, Beck, Metric, The Black Keys, and The Dead Weather. The soundtrack, available June 8th, is available for preorder now if it strikes your fancy.

Here's a preview of their album contribution performed by Simon and Cathy for Spin:

Jonsi brings "Go Do" to Craig Ferguson

Last night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Jonsi stopped by to play "Go Do" from his debut album Go. The Icelandic singer with falsetto and ukelele in hand augmented the captivating song with eyecatching colorful wings. Watch the performance here:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Now Streaing: Hot Club de Paris - The Rise and Inevitable Fall of the High School Suicide Cluster Band EP

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In an earlier post I mentioned London technical pop rockers Hot Club de Paris were releasing a new EP on May 24 titled The Rise and Inevitable Fall of the High School Suicide Cluster Band were accepting preorders. Well now the band has posted the full 6 song EP to their myspace page along with a slew of UK tour dates.
You can listen to it here:

Also don't forget if you order the EP, you have the chance to win lifelong free releases from Moshi Moshi Records.

Pitstop: Joshua Sturm

Usually while the obscurity of my artist spotlights varies, the one link is that they're usually fairly successful touring or album selling musicians. Until now. You may remember me mentioning Joshua Sturm (albeit briefly) in my review of the Horse Feathers concert as Vassar College. Noting how awestruck I was with his guitar skills, what I didn't mention was that his playing and singing style reminded me of The Tallest Man of Earth, which I can only guess is one of his influences. I say guess because his Myspace has relatively little information on it. But while his Myspace has only about two songs on it, what I heard at the concert was an artist who shows great promise. So even though he's a student, I certain hope he plans on creating more guitar-driven folk and also that he posts more songs to his Myspace soon.

You can hear Joshua Sturm's music on his Myspace page here:

Now Streaming: The Black Keys - Brothers

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The Black Keys, the Ohio rock duo composed of singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney has been making music since the early 2000s. So it comes as no surprise that the duo is releasing their sixth album Brothers on May 18th. The album is one of the latest available for streaming on NPR's First Listen and it continues in the band's trademark bluesy garage rock sound while adding in a litte more of an R&B feel to spectacular effect. The album is no doubt sure to please longtime fans of the band as well hook any newcomers from the first drumbeat. Listen to the full album here:

Get an additional sneak peek at the album with the video for the album's first single "Tighten Up":

Monday, May 10, 2010

Le Loup - Family (2009)

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Family, the follow up to debut album The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millenium General Assembly (long title, I know), was released in September of 2009 and marks a new direction in the Le Loup's sound. No longer relying heavily on synthesizers, keyboard loops, or electronics. Instead focusing on the natural sounds of their instruments and subjecting those to different effects. The album, recorded in a remote cabin in Maryland and produced by bandmembers Sam Simkoff and Christian Ervin, features the completed Le Loup lineup who all share songwriting credits creating a broad tapestry of sound that is primal sounding with vestiges of the sonic experimentation of the first album, mixing elements of freak folk, jungle pop rock, and sometimes surf rock. Cited as one of the influences of Judah Dadone (from Freelance Whales) it's not hard to see why. Le Loup's songcraft features slowly evolving musical pictures with an emphasis on the instrumental that focuses on establish the tracks' individual mood before the vocals enter. With several tracks on Family, the vocals even seem a bit secondary to the driving tribal pulse instead seeming to augment the instrumentals to create a much more rich aural experience. Highlights of the album are "Morning Song" and the almost 8 minute closer "A Celebration" but the whole album works as a cohesive unit, an organic sonic growth that hypnotizes with its simple minimalism. Le Loup has definitely come a long way since their banjo-centric debut taking what they did well and refining it while also adding several new sounds and qualities that make Family a definite favorite.

Hear the band's more mature sound with the music video directed by Matthew Lessner for "Forgive Me":

Le Loup - "Forgive Me" from Hardly Art on Vimeo.

Watch: Local Natives - "World News"

I talked about Local Natives not too long ago on the blog and since then the band has certainly been busy playing a European tour, giving an amazing performance of "Airplanes" on Craig Ferguston, and now releasing a new video for the track "World News". The video, directed by Matthew Lessner features the band picnicking like tourists on a beach while a random bunch of people play the band's instruments. The video's pretty normal with dogs playing frisbee, bikini clad women except for the band members donning oxygen masks. It's weird but strangely fitting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Department of Eagles to release Archives

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I first discovered Department of Eagles last summer just in time to witness the DoE news-well run dry. Department of Eagles, composed of Daniel Rosen (of Grizzly Bear) and Fred Nicholas, started as a project to keep the duo entertained while studying at NYU. Releasing two albums, of which the latest In Ear Park has received rave reviews, the project has pretty much been put on hiatus due to Rosen's work with Grizzly Bear and Nicholas' full-time employment. There hasn't much news since the hiatus announcement last April; that is until several weeks ago. The band plans of releasing Archive 2003-2006 which consists of a bunch of tracks, written and produced, beore working on In Ear Park in 2007. Of it the band says:

Basically, before we recorded "In Ear Park," we had a long period of messing around in various circumstances, producing a lot of songs that never really saw the light of day. Some of it is very proto: way back in 2004 Daniel had this period where he was making these beautiful little suites using NYU practice room pianos, and we've included a lot of those. Other stuff comes from a period in 2006 when we tried and failed to make an album at this studio in Berkeley, CA. Also there's also a song we recorded with Chris Taylor that's one of few fast-paced rage type songs we've done. So yeah. It's not a collection of new material but rather a fun romp down memory lane that I hope will appeal.

The "album" is set for release on July 20th on American Dust and July 19th aboard on Bella Union. It's also available for preorder in the US here:

I, for one, couldn't be more excited as it's been quite some time since the band's released anything. Although I'm hoping the archive is just a means to hold off fans until they have a more formal release ready and now some sort of swan song. Here's to hoping!

Never heard of Dept. of Eagles? Hear what they sound like with "No One Does It Like You":

Yeasayer - Odd Blood (2010)

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I remember the first time I heard about Yeasayer. Late last year Under the Radar posted the NSFW video for "Ambling Amp" off their then-upcoming second album Odd Blood that featured mirror people, oddly covered slime, and a mob of naked people. I remember while not being entirely turned off by it, I also wasn't that intrigued. See, much like most classically trained musicians reaction to the word "Modern", I regard "experimental" with the same type of suspicion expecting something mind-blowing weird lacking almost completely in musicianship. It's not fair but I've been somewhat jaded in my first couple attempts to immerse myself. Fast forward to a week ago when on a whim I decided to listen to the album. Mind blowing was definitely a way to describe it, lack of musicianship was not. Synthesized voice effects of opener "The Children" aside, the album was a pleasantly surprising mix of soft rock with psychedelic dancepop and world influences. The experimental label comes from the band's songwriting and producing that seeks to recreate and evoke certain emotions using a multitude of ideas and tools.
I can't say I'm a direhard experimental fan now but what I can is that I'm definitely a fan of Yeasayer. Their album, a blend of pop for enjoyment-sake and deep artfully crafted genre-bending rock, is sure to appeal to everyone regardless of genre preference.

Get a taste with the music video for dancey second single "O.N.E":

Monday, May 3, 2010

Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring (2010)

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Horse Feathers' latest album Thistled Spring, released April 20th, differs from their 2008 release House with No Home in a number of ways. First it marks the first studio recording since a lineup change of Nathan Crockett on violin, Catherine Odell on cello, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper. Secondly, while still containing the bands heartland Americana sound, it steps away from the melancholy reminiscient of winter to deliver something brighter, warmer, and more energetic. But just like the post-winter thaw lead/title track "Thistled Spring" forms the link between the two albums as the soft, balladic opener tinged with just the right amount of hope. In fact, it isn't until "Belly of June" that the album truly picks up, exploding unrestrained before being tailor back with "Cascades" which features bowed cymbals and saw, similar in sound to House with No Home's "Heathen's Kiss". The rest of the album is characterized by the warmer sound bridging the album with energy subtly underneath; occasionally resurfacing in parts of tracks "This Bed", "The Drought", and returning full-force in "Vernonia Blues". The album ends with "Heaven's No Place" which resembles "Thistled Spring" in its soft, languourness nature.

Thistled Spring is an excellent follow up for Horse Feathers both retaining the bands characteristic sound, Ringle's narrative-like songwriting, and also offering up something new like a change in overall mood. It's sure to become a favorite of fans and new listeners alike.

Just last week, the video for track "Belly of June" premiered on Pitchfork. Check it out here:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Live!: Horse Feathers at The Aula

So earlier tonight I had the pleasure of attending a free concert at The Aula at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The Aula is a small brick/wooden chapel-esque building made to fit about 120 people at most. The show was relatively well attended and started out with two seniors Charlie Warren and Josh Sturm who played about three songs each but Josh Sturm's performance was the most notable of the two for his unexpectedly amazing guitar skills. After Charlie, assisted by Horse Feathers' Sam Cooper, closed the set with a cover of "Time is On My Side" in which he charming forgot several of the words, Brooklyn-based folk musician Grey Reverend took the stage.
His playing and singing were pretty good but his performanced lacked the energy to keep alot of the students interested. The highlight of his performance however was his penultimate song by the name of "Nightingale" which he wrote to Elliot Smith. It was by far the most interesting and memory of all the songs he played and experimented heavily with the "standard" songwriting format.
By the time Horse Feathers got their turn many of the students were in need of a major energy boost which of course was provided by opener "Working Poor". Their setlist was a mix of music from their past two albums Words Are Dead and House With No Home with several songs from their latest release Thistled Spring thrown in for good measure. While there wasn't too much offered in the form of between song banter, Horse Feathers played with an energy was that both hypnotically captivating as well as even during their slower songs. Their performance was so well received that they were cheered into giving an encore to which they played a cover of Gillian Welch's "Orphan Girl" featured on their Cascades 7 inch.
Their performance was definitely something you had to witness as lead singer played the tamborine with his feet while singing and playing guitar, Sam Cooper swapped banjo for violin for drum set for piano even playing the banjo and bass drum at the same time. Nathan Crockett traded his violin for a saw for songs "Cascades" and Heathen's Kiss" and Catherine Odell managed to right her cello's slipping endpin with Nathan's shoe without missing a single beat. The band apologized in advance in the event we couldn't hear them as a result of their sound system but no apologies were necessary as the band play magnificently in a mix of studio recording like accuracy and live performing engagement. It was a concert I'm sure I won't soon forget and with performances of this caliber I sure hope to attend more in the future.