Thursday, June 30, 2011

GIVERS release debut music video

Hot off the heels of the release of their debut album, In Light, Louisiana's GIVERS have released their first ever official music video for bouncy, fun "Up Up Up". The video is rather simple, featuring the band performing in between rather artistic shots of the city, and the band members walking around said artistically shot city. And then things get a little weird. After stumbling upon a key, gravity all of a sudden gets turned off and delightful chaos ensues. Check out the video for "Up Up Up":

Beirut releases album and tour details

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Beirut announced the release on their upcoming album The Riptide several weeks ago but I held off on covering it until and album cover was released. Well today is that day. Beirut's The Riptide is slated for an August 30th release date and the band will be hitting the road in support. The band is already currently on tour in Europe but here are some tour dates:

7/29 State Theater - Portland, Maine
7/31 Osheaga - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
8/2 The Phoenix (with Owen Pallett) - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
8/4 The Phoenix (with Owen Pallett) - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
8/5-8/7 Lollapalooza - Chicago, Illinois
8/9 Commodore - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
8/10 Commodore - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
8/12 Crystal Ballroom - Portland, Oregon
8/14 Outside Lands - San Francisco, California
9/2 End of the Road Festival - Dorset, United Kingdom
9/4 Electric Picnic - Stradbally, Ireland
9/6 Manchester Academy - Manchester, United Kingdom
9/8 Paradiso - Amsterdam, Netherlands
9/12 Olympia - Paris, France
9/14 AB - Brussels, Belgium
9/16 Brixton Academy - London, United Kingdom
9/21 Terminal 5 - New York, New York
9/22 Terminal 5 - New York, New York
9/28 Fillmore Auditiorium - Denver, Colorado
10/4 Greek Theatre - Los Angeles, California
10/9 The Pageant - St. Louis, Missouri
10/11 Royal Oak Music Hall - Royal Oak, Michigan
10/25 The National - Richmond, Virginia
10/27 Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, Georgia
10/29 Stubbs Waller Creek - Austin Texas
11/11 Bogarts - Cincinnati, Ohio
11/13 Electric Factory - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blind Pilot to release sophomore album

After what seems like ages of them talking about it, Blind Pilot have finally announced their release of their sophomore album We Are the Tide almost 4 years after their debut. If the teaser video is anything to go off of, the new album is going to be incredible. Featured title-track "We Are the Tide" seems so fun and bouncy and yet as subtle and serious as Blind Pilot's usual fare. I'm also excited about their upcoming tour to support the album because all those random Midwest and Europe tours and show just weren't doing it for me.

We Are The Tide - Album Preview 1 from Blind Pilot on Vimeo.

So with the new Laura Marling, new Cymbals Eat Guitars, and now an all new Blind Pilot all out on September 13th, you better start saving your money. It's gonna be a good September.

Megafaun to release new album in Fall

Normally I avoid album teaser like the plague but when Megafaun posted one I knew I would give in. After releasing their mini-album Heretofore late last year and touring with The Mountain Goats for much of this one, it's been a pretty busy time for Megafaun and yet, somehow with the myriad of shows and such, the band have been tweeting about the album's progress (well up until about a month or so ago) and today, they announce the release of their brand new self-titled album, their third to date, will be September 20th. Mark your calenders, folks.

Megafaun from Hometapes on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peter Wolf Crier - Inter-Be (2010)

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My introduction to Minneapolis duo Peter Wolf Crier happened in my pursuit of all things ARMS a couple months ago. While listening to the ARMS EP on infinite repeat, LastFM recommended I listen to Peter Wolf Crier cause they were similar. Intrigued, I decided to give them a listen. They weren't that similar (aside from some reverb) but they were good in their own unique way.

Inter-Be is an album filled with a sea of sounds always threatening to burst free of their track-by-track containment and yet restrained enough that when the track is over, there's no lingering residue; no loose ends. And yet somewhere among the clustered waves of cymbal crashes, drum beats, guitar riffs, and the multitude of keyboard accents, Peter Pisano's voice bubbles to the surface- aiming directly to the heart with its doleful tenor.

Inter-Be is an album of balance: never empty sounding yet never too busy that you can't make out each individual part, Pisano's light voice never obscured by the rather energetic parts surrounding it. Though classified as folk rock, Peter Wolf Crier move farther away from anything generically folky the deeper you go into Inter-Be. The result is a richly worthwhile listening experience from a band you'd be crazy not to add to your music library.

Listen to Inter-Be on Peter Wolf Crier's Bandcamp and look out for their sophomore album Garden of Arms out September 6th.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Isaac Graham - Empty Vessels

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After what seems like months of my friend Joe (of Music Industry Earthquake) mentioning Australian musician Isaac Graham, I just got around to checking him out. After hours or listening to music that seemed a bit insincere, too generic, and occasionally forced; Isaac Graham and his simplistic, laid-back style of punk-inspired folk was a welcome change.

Armed with just a Tascam 8-track recorder and microphone, Isaac Graham's Empty Vessels has a smooth recording sheen that belies the album's lo-fi nature allowing it to shimmer with an honest truth and pervasive intensity that's a definite rarity. Whether in the folky "When I Found Gold" synth-poppy "Heat Exhaustion" or country-ish "Hurricane", Graham wears his genre influences on his sleeves but rather than coming off contrived, they inform his songwriting past the point of mere mimicry and make Empty Vessels into a feat of modern storytelling. Here's hoping there's more to come from Graham.

You can listen to Isaac Graham's album on his Bandcamp and if you like it, download it for free.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Dø - Both Ways Open Jaws (2011)

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My introduction to Finnish/French duo The Dø came from social networking radio MuMu Player when Frank from Listen Before You Buy uploaded "Dust It Off". I was immediately struck by Olivia Merilahti's airy vocals billowing sweetly over a minimalistic piano line. It's the sort of beautiful simplicity I wish more artists embraced.

That simplicity is the common strand between many of Both Ways Open Jaws' rather diverse set of tracks. Even when songs take on a more involved quality like poppy beat-heavy "Slippery Slope" or vaguely rockish "Gonna Be Sick!". Considering that the duo both come from film-scoring backgrounds, it's not surprising how effectively they use their sparse instrumentation (sweeping string arrangements on "Too Insistent" for example) but they blend their classical sensibilities with understated, though always engaging pop to create this unique listening experience. The barely there pop elements are just enough to give the album an ever forward momentum while the minimalistic elements make sure you don't breeze right through.

Their sophomore album, released earlier this month, is only available in Europe right now but you can listen to the whole thing on Soundcloud.
Both Ways Open Jaws by The Dø

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cymbals Eat Guitars tour to support new album

Hot on the heels of their album release news, Staten Island rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars have announced a US Fall tour with Hooray for Earth and/or Beiges as support.

9/20 Brighton Music Hall (with Hooray for Earth and Beiges) - Boston, Massachusetts
9/21 Music Hall of Williamsburg (with Beiges) - Brooklyn, New York
9/22 The Space (with Hooray for Earth and Beiges) - Hamden, Connecticut
9/24 Black Cat (with Hooray for Earth and Beiges) - Washington, D.C.
9/26 Local 506 (with Beiges) - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
9/27 The Earl (with Beiges) - Atlanta, Georgia
9/29 One Eyed Jacks (with Beiges) - New Orleans, Louisiana
9/30 Fitzgerald's (with Beiges) - Houston, Texas
10/1 Emos (with Beiges) - Austin, Texas
10/2 Dan's Silverleaf (with Beiges) - Denton, Texas
10/4 Hotel Congress (with Beiges) - Tuscon, Arizona
10/5 Casbah (with Beiges) - San Diego, California
10/6 Alex's Bar (with Beiges) - Long Beach, California
10/7 The Echo (with Beiges) - Los Angeles, California
10/8 Bottom of the Hill (with Beiges) - San Francisco, California
10/10 Mississippi Studios (with Beiges) - Portland, Oregon
10/11 Crocodile (with Beiges) - Seattle, Washington
10/13 Neurolux (with Beiges) - Boise, Idaho
10/14 Kilby (with Beiges) - Salt Lake City, Utah
10/15 Hi-Dive (with Beiges) - Denver, Colorado
10/17 Slowdown Jr. (with Beiges) - Omaha, Nebraska
10/19 7th Street (with Beiges) - Minneapolis, Minnesota
10/20 High Noon (with Beiges) - Madison, Wisconsin
10/21 Lincoln Hall (with Beiges) - Chicago, Illinois
10/23 Beachland Tavern (with Beiges) - Cleveland, Ohio
10/27 Bowery Ballroom (with Hooray for Earth and Beiges) - New York, New York

Cymbals Eat Guitars' sophomore album Lenses Alien is out on September 13th on Barsuk Records.

Laura Marling reveals new album details

When British folk songtress Laura Marling played a one-off show in New York City last week at Housing Works, one of the crowd's collective unspoken inquiries was the news of a new album. A question she answered very early in her set. Yes, there would be a new album and we would hear some of the new songs that night ("Night After Night", "The Muse", and "Sophia"). Now, today she has officially announced the release of said new album. The album titled A Creature I Don't Know is getting some royal treatment. A short teaser video for it is featured on Marling's website (soundtracked by new track "Night After Night") and is now available for pre-order in both standard and deluxe editions.

You can view the video below and pre-order the album here.

A Creature I Don't Know is due out September 12 in the UK, and September 13th in the US. From the three songs we were treated to at Housing Works, I can tell you it's gonna be a good one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Noah and the Whale release video for upcoming third single

Continuing with their richly cinematic style, British folk pop troubadours Noah and the Whale released the video for "Life is Life", the third single off their brightly optimistic third album The Last Night on Earth released earlier this year. Beginning with a ear-splitting scream, the video tells the story of a young girl fed up with her life and decides to run away while also featuring the band performing themselves. I've never seen Noah and the Whale perform live before but if they perform like they do in this video, with life-affirming charisma and adorably choreographed dance moves. It's a rather simple video with a rather simple plot and yet, still great. It's always nice when a music video has a story that also links up with the track it's featuring and this one is no exception. Enjoy the video for "Life is Life":

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1, 2, 3 - New Heaven (2011)

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My introduction to Pittsburgh duo 1, 2, 3 was due in equal parts to Listen Before You Buy and Sam at MiddleClassWhiteNoise. You see, Listen Before You Buy has weekly mixtape battles and two weeks ago Sam competed and both he and his competitor put 1, 2, 3's "Work" on their mixtapes. Color me intrigued. And then came a delightful tweet advertising that I could stream all of 1, 2, 3's debut album New Heaven.

1, 2, 3 is kind of hard to characterize in terms of genre. They have hard-hitting beats juxtaposed with dreamy melodies and lilting though slightly raspy vocals. Their songs are as varying as their songwriting style. Some songs beachy reveries like "Lonesome Boring Summer" or "Wave Pool" and there's even some old school rock n' roll and soul influence in "Just Like Heaven(Is Gone)" and "Sorry, Soldier" (which is also vaguely country-esque). And yet 1, 2, 3 is able to cluster together all these influences without seeming like they're trying too hard. Instead it's just sounds good; smartly well-crafted.

1, 2, 3 releases their debut full length this Tuesday on Frenchkiss Records. So if you like what you hear on their stream here, make sure it buy it.

If for some reason you're still not convinced, take a gander at 1, 2, 3's video for "Work":

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Lost Cavalry preview newest single "Desert Tracks"

Though British chamber pop group announced the release of their newest single "Desert Tracks" would happen in July (but I think has been pushed back to August 1st), this morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had posted the track to their Soundcloud. With "Desert Tracks", Mark West and his cohorts continue their fantastically yet oddly relevant folk tales this time about Namibian diamond mines. It's fun and frolicsome with hints of eerie and intrigue.

Enjoy "Desert Tracks":
Desert Tracks by The Lost Cavalry

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bon Iver releases new video for "Calgary"

With almost a week to go until his album's release, Bon Iver has released an official video for the album's first single "Calgary". The video begins simple, with large blocks of ice and snow floating in a water before the camera pans out to reveal a bed that sort of gives birth to a woman. First she appears as a image on it (Not unlike a Japanese body pillow) before she is pushed out and becomes corporeal. That pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the video which has her traveling through a swampy area before eventually meeting up with other people who no doubt went to the same trials she did.

The video is artsy and imaginative, without being pretentious. Sure, it's cryptic but the plot is actually rather easy to follow despite the elusiveness of it's meaning. It's a pretty cool way to feature the song. Not bad, Justin Vernon, not bad. Watch the new video for "Calgary":

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sondre Lerche releases several solo acoustic videos

In celebration of the release of his latest album, Brooklyn based Norwegian songsmith Sondre Lerche has been uploading several videos of himself performing songs solo in his Williamsburg backyard. With the final video coming out today, I figured it was time to collect them all for your viewing pleasure.

Monday - "Private Caller"

Private Caller (solo) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.

Tuesday - "Domino"

Domino (solo) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.

Wednesday - "Living Dangerously"

Living Dangerously (solo) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.

Thursday - "When the River"

When The River (solo) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.

Friday - "Coliseum Town"

Coliseum Town (solo) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kishi Bashi - Room For Dream EP (2011)

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My introduction to violinist/singer-songwriter K. Ishibashi (or Kishi Bashi as he goes by when he's playing) at Sondre Lerche's Bowery Ballroom was a godsend. It's always refreshing to find someone to take an instrument like the violin and elevate it to a much more accessible and yet awe-inspiring level. I don't know much about Kishi Bashi other that he is also a member of Brooklyn based band Jupiter One with drummer Dave Heilman (Sondre Lerche's backing drummer).

For those introduced to Kishi Bashi's songs through his live shows, you're in for a bit of a surprise on his Room For Dream EP. Filled with sparkling arrangements, it's a bit easier to digest without the added shock and awe of seeing K. sing, play, cue loops, change instruments and other feats of technical precision. "Bright Waves" even with it's random Japanese lyrics has this feeling that maybe you've heard it before without actually sounding tired or done before.

Room For Dream though a short 4 track EP, has all bases covered with the complex folk gem "Manchester", orchestrated ballad "Conversations at the End of the World", vaguely poppy, easily accessible "Bright Waves", and and genre-bending "Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived" that manages to mash up rock with old school counterpoint that also features Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes. It's a strong set of tunes that really only makes you thirst for more. Here's hoping there's a full length from Kishi Bashi coming out soon because until that day, you're sure to have Room For Dream on repeat.

You can listen to Kishi Bashi's EP at his Bandcamp.

Kishi Bashi is currently on tour with Sondre Lerche but if you're in the New York City area, he has a solo show on July 6th at the Rockwood Music Hall.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (2011)

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Album opener "Perth" with it's martial drums and swooping brass sets the stage for Justin Vernon's latest venture: a much more loud and grandiose effort than debut For Emma, Forever Ago. "Perth" with its complexity, organic growth, and depth wouldn't be out of place on an Explosions in the Sky CD if not for Vernon's vocals. Bon Iver manages to use the skills Vernon gained from his multitude of other projects and display them without actually replicating anything he's done before. Departing from his creaky, Wisconsin cabin where he recorded For Emma, Bon Iver, Bon Iver is brighter and yet sometimes just as wintery. It continues with Bon Iver's heavenly sense of quiet even with its use of flittery string arrangements, bolstering brass, and electronic hisses and hums.

In waiting awhile to return to Bon Iver, Vernon has essentially ensured that the music remains fresh, sincere, and largely different than his first outing. Sure, the songs still pack their emotional punches but remains staunchly diverse. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is an album that manages to transcend the boundaries of track names and title, with each track cascading into the next with very little warning. It's incredibly easy to put the album on and forget about everything else til it's all over and the dust settles. And that's a skill Vernon has mastered with surprising efficiently. Each track differs from the other and yet remains part of the same grand tapestry that Vernon has woven, held together by an dizzying amount of sonic experimentation and Vernon's always soul-rousing tenor.

Bon Iver is now streaming at both NPR and the NY Times until it's release on 6/21.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (2011)

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Who the hell is Anna Calvi? That's question I asked myself over and over when I visited the UK earlier this year and saw poster after poster promoting her self-titled debut. Honestly, I was far more excited about the new Noah and the Whale (whose posters were never quite far away from hers) to pay her the necessary time of day. It's only after I read a rave review of her recent Bowery Ballroom show that I realized how much of a mistake that was.

The instrumental "Richer to the Sea" is your intro to Anna Calvi's Spanish night club/flamenco-inspired style. Featuring an ominous solo guitar to set the mood, it crackles with drama and intensity before giving way to "No More Words", Calvi's actual introduction as she seductively croons in a cabaret style "Oh my love" each with enough emotional punch and artful inflection to insure the phrase never grows old. Anthemic "Desire" signals another change in Calvi's style, plugging up and flushing out her heretofore solo endeavor, amping up her triumphant declarations of love and lust. "The Devil" features Calvi going back to her sparse arrangements while also featuring her using siren-like calls and fuzzy guitars to evoke a supernatural atmosphere.

When Anna Calvi's voice first entered on "No More Words", I had a hard time grasping what all the fuss was about. It's not until you witness all the other way she utilizes her utterly jawdropping voice that I realized how much effort the track's breathy vocals take. Some of the truly great things about Calvi's debut are essentially the easiest to miss: Like the recurring flamenco-esque theme introduced in "Richer to the Sea" or her coquette-ish vocal stylings. Her songwriting manages to use a wide variety of elements at her disposal while also distilling it into something simple and utterly visceral. Her lyrics serving to augment her already rather evocative compositional style and yet, still being of actual substance.

Get a taste of Anna Calvi with her video for "Blackout":

Lower Dens - Twin-Hand Movement (2010)

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For all my fancy discovery stories, I really can't remember when and how I stumbled upon Lower Dens. Might've been LastFM, some random music magazine, or most likely NPR. What I do know is that whatever way it happened, I'm exceedingly glad it did. I've been sitting on the debut from the Baltimore band for awhile now but in honor of their upcoming gig as part of the Seaport Music Festival in New York City, I decided it was time to give the album my full attention.

Like Avi Buffalo, it's easy to see some of the song's titles and dismiss the band and it's music as childish and immature. Don't. If ever there was a time to give a band the benefit of the doubt; it's now, with Lower Dens. Their music is characterized by mostly instrumental rock grooves ("Holy Water") but also by hazy vocals that blend almost seamlessly into the instrumental framework.

Lower Dens have this affinity for spacious, vacuous tracks that somehow manage to bristle with rock-n-roll grit. It's this contradiction that makes Twin-Hand Movement such a pleasure to listen to. The songs are sparse and yet full of prickly guitar licks, dark and lonely yet surging with urgency and strong desire. It's fuzzy beach rock jangle obscured by rather dark everything else. The vocals are quiet and subdued but it's from them that the majority of the songs get their power. Lower Dens are masters of the art of understatement, entrancing you with their dynamic sense of quiet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Collections of Colonies of Bees to release new album

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Not too long ago I reviewed Wisconsin natives Collections of Colonies of Bees' latest release, 2008's Birds, and now after 3 long years and touring with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon as Volcano Choir, the band are releasing a band new album on Hometapes. GIVING, due out August 2nd, is sort of like it's predecessor in that it's composed of merely four tracks. Other than that, I have no idea what to expect other than guaranteed awesome. So sit tight until either they preview a track or release the whole album.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cymbals Eat Guitars announce new album

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After hinting at it for what seems like ages but might only really be a couple months, New York City band Cymbals Eat Guitars have announced the follow up to 2009's Why There Are Mountains. The new album, titled Lenses Alien, will be released September 13th in the US on Barsuk Records.

There's no tracklist yet but several new songs they premiered live are likely to be on Lenses Alien like "Plainclothes", "Definite Darkness", "Tunguska", and "Wavelengths". To celebrate, here's a video of Cymbals Eat Guitars playing "Plainclothes" live:

Beirut premieres new single "East Harlem"

When Beirut started announcing tour dates, I foolishly didn't put two and two together. Tour = New Songs = Possible new album. I just thought he was going on tour for the fun of it and because it had been awhile. And then his latest track "East Harlem" surfaced. Which I wouldn't have known about without the combined effort of ListenBeforeYouBuy and Sam at MiddleClassWhiteNoise.

The new track could only be described as everything fans could want and more. It's a nice summery track featuring those lovely horn phrases with a reliance on the piano and Zach Condon's buttery vocals and vague hints of something resembling an accordion or concertina. If it's any indicator of how good it is, I've already listened to the track about 5 times since my discovery of the track around 10 minutes ago.

Hear the new track here:
Beirut - East Harlem by Revolver USA

Oryx and Crake debut two new videos

So this weekend while others were out doing their typical weekend activities, Atlanta band Oryx and Crake were playing a house party and debuting their first two music videos ever. But like all good things, you can now experience them even though you weren't there thanks to the power of the internet.

"Open Your Eyes" by Oryx and Crake from Oryx and Crake on Vimeo.

The video for "Open Your Eyes" is a series of webcam videos edited together by Aaron Byrd featuring a multitude of Atlantans on a typical day. Whether that be distraught or bored at work, or sitting alone singing some Oryx and Crake, it's all captured and compiled for your viewing pleasure. Considering that "Open Your Eyes" is one of the more upbeat tracks on their debut, it sort of makes sense that there's some moments of actual joy shown. If you look closely you'll see some of the bandmembers taking part too.

Whereas the video for "Open Your Eyes" focuses on people, the video for "Unbound", directed by Max Blau, features Atlanta's street art. From the lowly street sign to grand displays of graffiti mastery, every type of street art seems to make an appearance accompanied by another upbeat track.

Oryx and Crake - "Unbound" (Music Video) from Max Blau on Vimeo.

So while you might not have been at the unveiling or subsequent house party/live show, you can now enjoy the band's artistic efforts. And considering they choose some of their less melancholic tunes, you can watch them regardless of your mood.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Live!: Kishi Bashi, Nightlands, & Sondre Lerche at the Bowery Ballroom

Unlike my marathon listening session of Sondre Lerche’s new album, one of the things I made sure I did was to deprive myself of the opportunity to listen to his opening bands before the concert. Something about wanting my initial reaction to happen then and there (or something weird like that) and for better or worse I’m glad I did.

K. Ishibashi (Or Kishi Bashi) took the stage and won me over in an instant. With his spirited virtuosic violin playing, easy going demeanor and personable stage presence, and overwhelming gratefulness it would’ve been hard not to. The second Kishi Bashi started singing random Japanese lyrics into his looping mic, was when I knew I was sold though. Despite a small misstep bringing one of his songs to a screeching halt, Kishi Bashi trucked on, treating listeners to a sexy pseudo rap song called “Just the Tip” that made the audience giggle with glee, and when he laughed into his final song of the set “Manchester” with its everything but the kitchen sink composition and lively multi-tasking, it was clear that Kishi Bashi had made fans out of everyone. A feat he totally deserved.

The second opener, Nightlands, featuring Dave Hartley of Sondre Lerche’s backing band was a little different. Somehow mashing up folk rock, dance-pop, and heavy amounts of electronica, Nightlands was an experience to be had. Using harmonizer pedals in addition to its four part vocal section seemed a little like overkill. Actually from their use of four synthesizers, heavy distortion, and reverb, everything about their love of the loud, abrasive sounds and the robotically electronic seemed a little over done. But there was a define potential and talent in the band that was allowed to shine through underneath all the electronic haze and robotic vocals. If they stripped down a little, I’m sure they would’ve been more greatly appreciated.

When Sondre Lerche took the stage at 11 (to rambunctious applause, I might add), there was little to be said. Unlike his previous bands that had taken the time to introduce themselves and warm up the crowd, Lerche launched right into his first song “Ricochet” off the new self-titled album which lead right into an energy laden “Private Caller”. When Lerche did speak, it was always something charming or humorous and a little more than mere gratitude. After revealing that it had been almost 5 years since his last show at the Bowery, Lerche then set out to make it count playing a pretty even mixture of new and old and delighting a room full of spectators with flashy guitar pyrotechnics and witty onstage banter with comedic foil, drummer Dave Heilman.

After seeing Sondre Lerche for the first time last month in a small crowded bar and this time in a large sold out venue one thing remains the same: Sondre Lerche is a remarkable showman. Whereas his albums are a lot tamer, up on stage the man really let loose with balls-to-the-wall energy and a ferocity that belies Lerche’s charmingly pleasant demeanor. After such a charged performance, it was no surprise to anyone amid the thunderous nonstop applause that the man would be coming back to play an encore. The encore was a set of songs: somber ballad “Maybe You’re Gone”, a mammoth and intense “Dead Passengers” that clocked up somewhere around 10 minutes, and one of Sondre’s favorite audience participation songs “Modern Nature”. The show seemed over after that, but no one stopped cheering and so the man of the hour took to the stage again to play a very final “My Hands Are Shaking”.

Seeing Sondre Lerche live before, I shouldn’t have been surprised by Lerche’s onstage gait and yet, it’s something so completely inspired that I know even if I see him a hundred more times, I’ll still be surprised. And adding Kishi Bashi to his backing band was a great choice because like Lerche, K. really gets into what he’s playing and reacts with a sort of unbridled sincerity that has to be seen to be believed. A truly wonderful concert put on by a man who’s had about a decade of experience. If you want to have all your expectations shattered, your eardrums pleasantly rocked, and your heart triumphantly won, go see Sondre Lerche. He’s still on tour. You won’t regret it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

GIVERS - In Light (2011)

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I shouldn't be surprised that I hadn't heard of Lousiana pop outfit GIVERS because, well, there's a lot of music out there. In fact I wouldn't have known about them at all if not for MiddleClassWhiteNoise so thanks are in order. Why? Because GIVERS' debut full length In Light is an exuberant pop tour de force; a sunny, casual, ear-catching endeavor worthy of millions of ears.

From opener "Up Up Up", which hits you with the sonic equivalent of a freight train, In Light is a nonstop thrill ride of vibrant, lush, unflinchingly brazen pop goodness. The brazenness is due mostly in part to the band's reliance on percussion than any hard-hitting emotive lyricism but that's hardly a problem. Especially when you're treated with such ferociously infectious optimism and unbridled joy as these talented Louisianans muster.

In Light comes out this upcoming Tuesday, June 4th on Glassnote Records but you can stream the album in it's entirety until it's release on NPR here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sondre Lerche - Sondre Lerche (2011)

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I had the opportunity to hear Sondre Lerche's latest album, his self-titled sixth outing, early last month at his Union Pool listening party/live show and one of the things I realized was just how long his songs stuck with me. After just one listen, I had several of the melodies stuck in my head for at least a week. It was this staying power that made me incredibly eager to get my hands on the album as soon as I could.

An album 10 years in the making, Sondre Lerche utilizes past strengths like genre-defying versatility and honest sincerity while featuring Lerche's most innovative songwriting to date. One thing I learned during my listening to Heartbeat Radio is not to be fooled by Lerche's stylistic poppy dressings, if you do that you lose so much of what he's trying to say. On this outing, the tunes are not quite so upbeat, allowing themselves to convey their messages not just lyrically but also instrumentality. Duper Sessions era jazziness ("Never Mind the Typos") and splashes of Phantom Punch's hard rock edge ("Go Right Ahead", "Private Caller") are just a few of the tools Lerche uses, proving he doesn't have to throw out everything he's learned and experimented with in the pursuit of new songs. Sondre Lerche is also an album that's not afraid of being unpretty. Sure it's got a clean, polished feel and flawless string arrangements for the wide majority but there's also moments when it lets itself get a little dirty ("Never Mind The Typos", "Tied Up To The Tide").

Sondre Lerche is a pleasant surprise of an album. It both manages to completely redefine what you might expect from Lerche while also remaining true to Lerche's characteristic sound without seeming overdone or like you're listening to just another album on his back catalog. While its lyrics aren't as noticeably intrusive as Heartbeat Radio, they still manage to portray the truthfulness you've come to expect from Lerche. It's an album that's a surefire favorite.

Don't believe me? Watch the video to "Private Caller" and see.

Private Caller (official video) from Sondre Lerche on Vimeo.