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.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sufjan Stevens' "Too Much" available for download

Sufjan Stevens continues to give listeners peeks of his upcoming October album The Age of Adz. First with "I Walked" now with a free download of "Too Much" on his bandcamp. He originally played the song (which he originally called "Too Much Love") as part of his set at Castaways in Ithaca which had punchy brass, captivating electronic glitchy stop-starts, and memorable singability.

The track has a trademark epic-ness I've come to expect from the man. Just listen to what he does with the strings and right before the end when things get really really awesome.
Listen to/download "Too Much" here:
<a href="">Too Much by Sufjan Stevens</a>

You can also watch the live video to see how Stevens polished it up:

Telekinesis to release new EP

Seattle's one man band with live support Telekinesis is releasing a new EP by the name of Dirty Thing. Actually, the EP has already been released digitally and you can get it off iTunes if that's your cup of tea but the physical release shall be on October 8th on Morr Music. The EP will consist of two new song, a new version of a song from the album, and two cover songs from The Magnetic Fields and Warsaw (Joy Division before they were Joy Division). Michael Benjamin Lerner aka the man behind Telekinesis is currently working on the second full length as well as touring with Someone Still Love You Boris Yeltsin. Enjoy the video for "Dirty Thing":

Telekinesis : Dirty thing from morr music on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Watch: Maps & Atlases - "Solid Ground"

Chicago technical pop rockers Maps & Atlases have been around for such a long time that sometimes you forget they're doing things for the first time, like their debut full length out earlier this year. Now the band just released their debut music video for "Solid Ground". The video, directed by Taryn Gould and Emily Kowalczyk, opens with Dave Davison floating isolated in a soil-filled canoe before the band appears on the different parts of the lake edge pushing and pulling Davison's canoe with the pure power of their playing until the reel him in back to shore. The video is delightful in that the plot doesn't override the music, instead merely separating the band members like they would be in a studio session, with each individual having their say which in turn doesn't do much until the band's individual parts and actions link up with each other. The video, beautifully shot, is staunchly minimalistic, a little trippy; and a whole lot of awesome. Enjoy Maps & Atlases debut video for "Solid Ground":

Maps & Atlases - Solid Ground from FatCat Records on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Watch: Left With Pictures - "Go, Simon, Go!"

August is officially over and with its end comes a brand new installment of Left With Pictures' In Time project; the band's ambitiously awesome monthly track and video release. For August's song "Go, Simon, Go!", the band follows up July's somber but hopeful gem "Half Time" with a bluesy almost balladic feel. My favorite part is the brief change in tone, mood, and vocalist that occurs near the end before heading into the chorus. Interesting to note, is the video. Directed by Laura Copsey and edited by Tom Rochester, the video manages to incorporate different types of filming techniques and seems like a natural evolution from last month's stop motion video directed by Jake Ogden. Enjoy the video for "Go, Simon, Go!"

You can also read a short interview with LWP's Stuart Baker on The Daily Growl here.