Saturday, July 30, 2011

John Craigie offers up fourth album preview track

Another day, another new song; proving he's no slacker, California folk singer John Craigie offers up "Boston in November" as part of his song-a-day album preview. The new track marks the first track off the upcoming album October is the Kindest Month that is vaguely upbeat. And it's a nice change of pace. Here's hoping there's more uplifting tracks on the new album but if there's not, that's okay too. Enjoy Craigie's ode to autumn and the one that got away "Boston in November":

Friday, July 29, 2011

John Craigie previews album with third single

John Craigie's song-a-day streak is going strong. Today he releases "So Many Lives", the third single for upcoming album October is the Kindest Month. While listening I noticed it sounded kind of familiar. Then I remembered: He's played this song live. So if you've seen Craigie live (which you totally should, if you haven't already) you've most likely heard this song. Enjoy "So Many Lives":

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pitstop: North Highlands

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Last night I had a incredible honor of being able to see ARMS live. And yet as amazed and awestruck I was to see the objects of my months of obsession up close and in person, one of the night's most delightful surprises was co-headliner North Highlands. From the moment the precocious five-piece took the stage, the hall was full of good vibes, beautiful music, and concert-goers dancing with reckless abandon. And for all the good reasons. The gentlemen and lady of North Highlands were good-natured, talented, and their songs were so dance-able they should be illegal. Many of their songs were composed of multiple parts, dramatic shifts in groove, and were all linked by a deep sense of primal joy. North Highlands; music style is hard to describe exactly. Equal parts afro-pop rhythms, twee melodies, unassuming indie dance-pop, and circumstantial chamber folk.

Last night North Highlands announced an upcoming album Wild One which I hope will be out soon. It's bound to be an instant favorite.

Don't believe me? Check out some of their newest tunes "Steady Steady" and "Hiking".

Matty Fasano - Unkind/Unusual

Chances are if you've read my seemingly endless ARMS obsessed posts you know who Matty Fasano is. That guy who sings all those creamy upper-register harmonies in ARMS songs? That's Matty Fasano. And he does a damn good job of it. So when ARMS posted a two song solo debut from him, I jumped on that bandwagon so hard. It's obvious from how dead-on his falsetto is during ARMS songs that Fasano is a talented singer who knows what he was doing.

There's a certain amount of predictability to voice/piano acts; That's a given. And yet with two songs Fasano manages to escape some of it with small vocal ornamentations like the occasional out of nowhere vocal glissandos. The songs are rather minimalistic, featuring driving beat-keeping piano chords along with some texture-giving percussion. And yet that's what makes them good. The full focus is more-or-less on Fasano's pillowy vocals,which isn't a bad focus at all. "Unkind" could very well be an ARMS song if it really tried to be but it's not and sounds lovely just the way it is.

John Craigie continues album previews with "Black Swan Lullaby"

Yesterday Californian folk singer John Craigie started revealing tracks from his upcoming album October Is The Kindest Month, and today he's thrown up another one. Another melancholic tune by the name of "Black Swan Lullaby".

October Is The Kindest Month is due out August 20th so mark your calendars folks, it's bound to be a good one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Craigie to release new album, gives album previews

For one week only, California folk singer John Craigie is releasing a song a day in preparation for his upcoming album October Is The Kindest Month. Today, Craigie begins by offering up the first single from the album "All of July".

Known (at least to me) for his guitar and harmonica accompanied style, "All of July" adds in numerous other instruments and guests like violin, piano (played by Zach Gill), and drums to give some flair to the somber, moving ditty.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Listen: Laura Marling - "Sophia"

When I saw Laura Marling last month, one of the songs that was without a doubt the most delightful to hear was "Sophia", and apparently Laura Marling thinks so to. Earlier today she revealed "Sophia" to the world in all it's recorded splendor on the airwaves of Zane Lowe's Radio 1 on BBC. And thanks to the always prepared Listen Before You Buy, non-UK-listeners can get a taste of the new song.

"Sophia", off her upcoming album A Creature I Don't Know, places Marling is almost startling new context. Her crystalline vocals are ornamented by bits of reverb and channels the wanton poppiness of Alas I Cannot I Swim, while still retaining the astounding mature lyricism of I Speak Because I Can. And yet regardless of what past work she's tapping into one thing remains the same: "Sophia" is just darn good. Enough to give my previously unchallenged Marling favorite "Ghosts" the good heave-ho. "Sophia" is my new favorite song. At least until Laura Marling one-ups herself again. Until that moment, enjoy the loveliness that is "Sophia":

Laura Marling - Sophia by ListenBeforeYouBuy

EDIT: Updated Non-Radio Rip from Laura Marling:

And this September Laura Marling embarks of a North American/UK tour.
9/17 Bimbo's 365 Club - San Francisco, California
9/18 Masonic Temple - Los Angeles, California
9/20 Troubadour - Los Angeles, California
9/22 Lincoln Hall - Chicago, Illinois
9/23 The Great Hall - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
9/24 Corona - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
9/25 Brighton Music Hall - Boston, Massachusetts
9/27 Sixth & I Historic Synagogue - Washington, D.C.
9/28 Webster Hall - New York, New York
10/14 Exeter Cathedral - Exeter, United Kingdom
10/15 Winchester Cathedral - Winchester, United Kingdom
10/17 Guildford Cathedral - Guildford, United Kingdom
10/18 Gloucester Catherdral - Gloucester, United Kingdrom
10/21 York Minster - York, United Kingdom
10/22 Sheffield Cathedral - Sheffield, United Kingdom
10/24 Manchester Cathedral - Manchester, United Kingdom
10/25 Bristol Cathedral - Bristol, United Kingdom
10/26 Westminster Central Hall - London, United Kingdom
10/28 Liverpool Anglican Cathedral - Liverpool, United Kingdom
10/29 Birmingham Cathedral - Birmingham, United Kingdom

The Drums - "Money" video

Brooklyn surf-rockers The Drums always manage to have a plot in their videos. Sure there's almost always a scene of the band playing, and sometimes the plot seems a bit nonsensical in nature but there's also some sort of plot to them and you've got to respect that. In their latest video for "Money", it features the band roaming around the streets of New York City lamenting their lack of money and then things take their trademark turn for the weird - there's a gun-toting mob relaxing in the park, the band-members hugging a priest, and avoiding fancy tea parties.

The Drums: Money on

(via ListenBeforeYouBuy)

The Divine Comedy - Bang Goes the Knighthood (2010)

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One of the inevitabilities of their being such a wide breadth of music being available is that occasionally good things will completely escape your notice. I remember when Bang Goes the Knighthood came out. I remember seeing reviews for it in magazines and blogs and yet, I can't remember why I didn't ever give it a listen. Until recently when utilizing the expansive music library of Spotify, where I suddenly remembered the album by the British chamber pop band The Divine Comedy.

In retrospect, Bang Goes the Knighthood is an album that was incredibly relevant to my interests. At the time of it's release I was really into instrumental rock, pop, and folk. And Bang Goes the Knighthood, more or less, is exactly that- The arrangements have as much importance as the lyrics, the orchestra a wonderful compliment Neil Hannon's dulcet vocals. The sounds are full, bold, and inviting as well as richly complex and wonderfully layered. Add in the fact that Hannon sometimes conjures up a very cabaret style and you have an album that's delightfully anachronistic.

Considering Neil Hannon has been making music since before I was born, I shouldn't be at all surprised at what a triumph Bang Goes the Knighthood is. And yet, Hannon's style is so melodically driven, so artfully cinematic that all you can do is listen on in awe all the while gently bobbing your head. Some of the reviews I read rather negatively stated that Bang Goes the Knighthood offers up more of the same as The Divine Comedy's previous releases. To that I have to say: Would you fix something so impressively unbroken?

Get a taste of The Divine Comedy with the humorous and silly new video for "I Like":

Feist reveals some album details

After releasing the first of 12 teaser videos last week, Feist is finally opening up about her plans. On October 4th, Feist will be releasing Metals- four years after her last album The Reminder.

Feist has also release another teaser video. The third one.

(via P4K)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club - "Shuffle" video

London quartet Bombay Bicycle Club is a band I had heard of by name only and LastFM has recommended on more than one occasion, and yet for some reason I had yet to check them out. Until a random moment of curiosity earlier led me to click a link to their latest video for "Shuffle" off their upcoming album A Different Kind of Fix. Instantaneous love. The track is upbeat and breezy, the video fun and a little silly. Enough to make me instantly regret not to listening to them way earlier. Watch the video for "Shuffle" and fall in love:

A Different Kind of Fix is out August 29th on Island Records.

St. Vincent releases new album track "Surgeon"

After days of waiting and having to tweet #strangemercy, St. Vincent's new track off her upcoming album Strange Mercy is finally available for listening. Annie Clark hinted at the subject matter of the track (and possibly the album?) with four short videos featuring different kinds of "strange" mercies like white lies your best friend will tell you or lies your parents tell you when you're a child. Watch the four teaser videos below

And you can listen to the much anticipated new track "Surgeon":

(via NPR)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Feist teases new album

Proving that album teasers are all the rage right now, one more album teaser (one of a series of about 12) has popped up. However, this one seems arguably more important than all the rest. It's the album teaser from Feist. Since announcing her temporary break from music and then putting out a documentary, Feist has been pretty mum about anything vaguely resembling new music. And then today gifted the internet-possessing world with a strange mysterious video showing random scenes in nature with some superimposed over the inside of a house (or studio, maybe?) accompanied with some rather ominous drum-heavy music. Watch the first of 12 teasers:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BELL - "Chase No Face" video

Seems like only yesterday Brooklyn based foursome BELL were releasing their debut album DIAMONITE. And now today BELL premiered their debut music video for the lucky folks at Disco Naivete. For their video they choose "Chase No Face", which they got to have a little fun with. You see, the video for "Chase No Face" focuses on the face, particularly that of BELL front-woman Olga Bell. A bunch of fancy light effects take place on or around her face and...well that's pretty much it. It sounds pretty boring but it's worth it. Good track plus a smiling Olga Bell turns out to be winning video formula. Watch the video for "Chase No Face" here:

St. Vincent to release new album

2011 is the year of follow up albums. There was brand new Sondre Lerche, Cake, and Bon Iver (to name a few) and Laura Marling Beirut, and Megafaun on the horizon, St. Vincent has announced the release of her follow up to 2009's Actor, Strange Mercy.

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- Chloe in the Afternoon
- Cruel
- Cheerleader
- Surgeon
- Northern Lights
- Neutered Fruit
- Champagne Year
- Dilettante
- Hysterical Strength
- Year of the Tiger

The album will be release September 13th (alongside some of those other follow ups) and St. Vincent will be embarking on an extensive fall tour in support. Here are the dates:

8/25 Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, New York
10/2 McGuire Theater - Minneapolis, Minnesota
10/3 Pabst Theater - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
10/5 Metro - Chicago, Illinois
10/6 Old Rock House - St. Louis, Missouri
10/7 Liberty Hall - Lawrence, Kansas
10/8 Boulder Theater - Boulder, Colorado
10/10 Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, Utah
10/12 Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada
10/13 Neptune Theatre - Seattle, Washington
10/14 Crystal Ballroom - Portland, Oregon
10/18 Music Box - Los Angeles, California
10/20 Crescent Ballroom - Phoenix, Arizona
10/23 Kessler Theater - Dallas, Texas
10/24 Moody Theater at ACL Live - Austin, Texas
10/25 Fitzgerald's - Houston, Texas
10/28 The EARL - Atlanta, Georgia
10/30 Jefferson Theater - Charlottesville, Virginia
11/1 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
11/2 Union Transfer - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
11/3 Webster Hall - New York, New York
11/4 Royale - Boston, Massachusetts

And in an intriguing bit of promotion, if you have a twitter and tweet #strangemercy you'll get access to a song off the upcoming album.

ARMS to release Summer Skills...soon. Premiere album trailer.

After what seems like forever (but has really only been a year) since the release of their 5 song EP, New York City based quartet ARMS are gearing up for the upcoming release of their most ambitious album to date and their true debut after becoming more than just Todd Goldstein's solo bedroom project. The new album, Summer Skills, hasn't gotten an official announced release date yet (though Goldstein said to expect it this November in an interview) and today, ARMS released the first part of a trailer for their supernatural sci-fi epic. The trailer features new song "Fleeced" and is wonderfully cinematic - resulting in a level of excitement for the new album that I didn't know could be reached.

ARMS: Summer Skills Trailer, Pt. 1 from ARMSvideos on Vimeo.

In the off chance you haven't picked up the free 5 song EP, you can pick it up here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello MTN promise more album previews

While it's not the longest I've waited for an album, Portland folk duo Hello Mtn's debut album is definitely on my most anticipated list. Why? Because from the teaser clip on their Myspace, I was drawn in which they then followed up with a gorgeous cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" which they put out in time for the rock icon's birthday. Then was a rough edit of an album track "State Lines" and the duo announcing a European/Midwest tour with Catherine Odell's mainstay Horse Feathers. And somewhere between all this, the duo had a delightfully lovely track "Somewhere is Home" featured in a Levi commercial. A song I hadn't even heard of before but severely hope is on the debut because the minute and a half clip of it was absolutely amazing. Now, Hello MTN have promised via Twitter that they'll try to post more previews of their album and I'm besides myself with happiness. If you don't understand why I'm so happy or speak so highly of the duo, you need to check them out.

Watch the aforementioned Levi commercial featuring "Somewhere is Home":

And get another preview of their new album with a rough edit of "Palace Stairs" here.


The School release new video for "I Love Everything"

Even a year after it's release British retro-pop outfit The School are still producing singles off their debut album Loveless Unbeliever. This time, it's ballad track "I Love Everything" that gets the single/video treatment. Rather than do anything theatrical or dramatic, instead the video focuses on slice-of-life activities as performed by one of the band-members (the trumpet/tambourine player).

EDIT: Not the trumpet player. The actress is Paloma Castro.

(via Eardrums Music)

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always Happy (2011)

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It's been two years since the release of The Recordings of the Middle East from Australian indie darlings The Middle East; an EP that has managed to be both incredibly diverse yet strangely similar that it could single-handedly define the sound of The Middle East.

And yet time has an uncanny knack for changing people, artists, and bands. I Want That You Always Happy, The Middle East's proper full-length debut, is a drastically different beast than 2009's The Recordings of The Middle East. Gone is the pleasant exuberance exhibited in "Blood", instead you get stripped back contemplativeness that pervades the whole album (even in substantially more active rock-esque "Jesus Came to My Birthday Party"). The album is quite listless and yet, from this comes some of the most beautiful melodies and makes the more energetic portions of the album that much more enjoyable.

One of the things that struck me about The Middle East on Recordings was their fusion of different elements of ambient, folk, rock, and pop to create this distinct sound. And though done a bit different this time around, it's nice to see that The Middle East still retain their knack for genre-synthesis. And even though they're doing things differently this time, the haunting vocal harmonies of Recordings aren't that far removed. Add that to The Middle East's uncanny knack for emotionally evocative imagery and you get a mature record that's not afraid of taking things slow. It's not an album made up of potential singles but rather one of gradual growth and an earnest effort from the rather young band. I Want That You Are Always Happy may only be their first album but it makes me look forward to so many more.

Get a taste of The Middle East's new material with a live video of them performing two of the album most folky tracks "Mount Morgan" and "Hunger Song":

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maps & Atlases release video for "Israeli Caves"

I had thought that a video couldn't get more endearing than OK GO's rescue dog laden one for "White Knuckles". And then Chicago tech-pop quartet Maps & Atlases put out this gem of a video for "Israeli Caves". The plot is rather simple. Little boy gets bullied and has his tricycle stolen by a bunch of adults in bear masks and the little kid makes a rather ingenious (and Kill Bill-esque) plan of revenge which is revealed through an adorably poorly written, misspelled, and backwards letters containing list. And of course, the boy wonder manages to do all these things and reclaim his stolen trike all while staying ridiculously cute. And a fun bonus: The little kid kind of looks (and dresses) similarly to Maps & Atlases singer/guitarist/bearded folk hero Dave Davison. This video could very well be his origin story.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Drums to release sophomore album

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Barely a year after the release of their debut self-titled album, Brooklyn surf-poppers The Drums have announced the release of the sophomore album Portamento. It's been described as a subtle change in their sound, no doubt due to their departure of guitarist Adam Kessler converted them from quartet to trio and well as the passage of time. I have yet to witness this change yet but with guitarist Jacob Graham switching to synthesizer, I don't doubt their be some amount of different from their debut.

While no change is readily apparent in their latest single "Money", one thing is clear. It's catchy in that characteristically Drums way with Johnny Pierce's vocals slip-sliding all over his register and just plain good.

Portamento is out September 12th in the UK with a US date forthcoming. Get a taste of Portamento with their first single "Money":
The Drums - Money by WorkItMedia

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Voluntary Butler Scheme - The Grandad Galaxy (2011)

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Following in the footsteps of The Chevreul EP (released earlier this year), The Grandad Galaxy combines Jones' various music interests into one heaping helping of sounds and sonic pastiches from. Much like Chevreul, Jones isn't afraid of letting listeners hear his actual process. Instead of the seamlessness of At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea you can actually hear Jones slip loops up alongside each other and other various sounds of his actual music making. And yet even with the technical side uncovered and laid bare, Jones' retro pop melodies still retain their ability to completely mesmerize.

Having listened to The Chevreul EP, I was gradually introduced to Jones' change in style but for some one going directly from debut to sophomore album, the change is sure to be a bit shocking. And yet, Jones only benefits from the added layer of sounds. Now each song is filled with lovely simplistic melodies and a much more complex but personal touch. The result is an album in which new little things unravel after each subsequent listen. The kind of album, I know I'll listen to over and over again, not just because I want to hear any zany thing Jones has managed to cram into his songs but also because it's darn good.

The Grandad Galaxy is currently streaming at This Is Fake DIY a whole week before it's July 18th release along with Rob Jones' track by track details here.

Cymbals Eat Guitars offer new track off upcoming album

Little more than a month ago Staten Island quartet Cymbals Eat Guitars announced details for their sophomore album Lenses Alien and now fans can get a preview of their new album with the first track off the new album "Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name).

Also, the band has moved up the release date of the new album from September 13th to August 30th in the US while the Europe release is still September 12th.

Make sure you see them on their upcoming Fall tour (dates here).

Laura Marling offers up more album details

Nearly 3 weeks after announcing her new album, A Creature I Don't Know, Laura Marling finally reveals more info about it. Like the album cover and tracklist.

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- The Muse
- I Was Just A Card
- Don't Ask Me Why
- Salinas
- The Beast
- Night After Night
- My Friends
- Rest In The Bed
- Sophia
- All My Rage

Considering she's played a bunch of the new songs at performances (some for well over a year now), it'll be interesting to see what she's done with them since and how they've changed and/or been dressed up in the studio. September 13th can't get here fast enough.

Just in case you haven't seen it yet, watch the epic trailer for A Creature I Don't Know featuring "Night After Night":

You can still pre-order either the standard or deluxe version of the album here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Active Child - Curtis Lane EP (2010)

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My introduction to Active Child came from California indie-pop quartet Princeton's cover of The Walker Brother's "The Electrician" which featured him (both in the video and the track itself). I can't tell you where his vocals end and Princeton's begin or vice-versa but curiosity led me to find out who or what Active Child was.

What I found surprised me. Expecting a band, I instead found a single man who's laptop pop enabled him to sound like an orchestra - if said orchestra were armed with drum-machines and synths. And yet, regardless of how layered the tracks became, Pat Grossi's pure wholesome voice cuts clear through all the noise like a beacon in a storm. Add the unlikely mix of heavenly strumming harps ("I'm In Your Church At Night" "She Was A Vision") and you've got something truly amazing.

Active Child's debut, the Curtis Lane EP, packs a real emotional punch. Not surprising considering the strength of Grossi's vocals and the conviction in his oddly simplistic lyrics. Even when the extraneous diversifying elements are stripped away after two songs in, Grossi still manages to dazzle amongst the 80s synth-pop smorgasbord that Curtis Lane transforms into.

Get a taste of Active Child with the music video for "I'm In Your Church At Night":

Active Child's debut album You Are All I See comes out August 23rd.

Listen: The Tallest Man on Earth - "Weather Of A Killing Kind"

Who would've guessed Adult Swim would be a go to spot for good music? Not I. Normally you associate Adult Swim with previous cancelled cult cartoons and quirky comedies written by comedians but now with their Adult Swim Singles Program, they're cranking out some pretty sweet tunes.

Their latest single is a previously unreleased tune by Swedish guitarist Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man on Earth. The new track "Weather of the Killing Kind" will be released July 12th for free download but until then you can still listen to it to your heart's content. It so characteristically Tallest Man on Earth which of course means it's amazing.

(via FILTER Magazine)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Megafaun preview new album with first track "These Words"

Megafaun have always been a little unpredictable. While rooted deeply in folk, they've never shirked away from adding any number of sounds regardless of how "unnatural" they are. With their third album out in September, I actually had little idea what to expect, especially considering how very little they revealed in their teaser video for the new self-titled album (just some tuning strings and cymbal crashes). Well with the release of "These Words", there's a least some idea what to expect. Structured around Joe Westerlund's field recordings of a Balinese gamelan and some rural North Carolina sounds. It's kind of like Age of Adz Sufjan Stevens got lost in a forest with some recording equipment. And yet with their soaring vocal harmonies they remain so quintessentially Megafaun. Listen to "These Words":
Megafaun "These Words" by Hometapes

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Voluntary Butler Scheme releases new video

With little more than a week to go until the release of his new album The Grandad Galaxy, Britain's The Voluntary Butler Scheme aka one man band Rob Jones has released a brand new video for "Yo-Yo Star". The video features a bunch of unrelated cinematic sequences pieced together in pretty much the same manner Jones crafts his music. Scenes of island dancers, penguins, and Carl Sagan's Cosmos and more are all juxtaposed along with kaleidoscopic visuals to accompany the bouncy summery track "Yo-Yo Star". The first track I've heard off The Grandad Galaxy (not including those featured on The Chevruel EP), it's nice to hear that Jones hasn't completely departed from this retro-pop leanings. Instead it's a delightful mash-up of old and new sounds. The occasional glitchy trappings hidden mostly by swelling strains of borderline tropical pop goodness. And yet, not really resembling his previous works on At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea. To say I'm looking forward to the new album is an understatement.

Also, Jones apparently quietly released a video for "Don't Rely On It, Don't Count On It" last month that you can also watch.

The Grandad Galaxy is due out July 18th in the UK. No word yet on a US release. You can nab a free download of "Yo Yo Star" here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mark West & Derek Yau - Booked Out Original Soundtrack (2011)

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Somewhere between his work with his band The Lost Cavalry and the various other things he seems to be doing, Mark West had time to write and perform the soundtrack for an upcoming British indie comedy called Booked Out.

It's a bit weird to listen to a soundtrack by itself, since the listener doesn't really know how the tracks fit together within the context of the story and all of it's varying moments. It loses a little something when you don't have that magical connection between the scene/character/etc and the music accompanying all the action and yet I was anxious to hear the soundtrack as soon as possible (probably because I won't see the film unless I really make a point to - it's in the UK after all...)

In a lot of ways, the music for Booked Out is somewhat similar to West's work in The Lost Cavalry, if only for "Booked Out" sounding very reminiscent of "Oh, Sally" off the Waves Freeze to Rolling Hills EP. And in a way that's not too bad, aside from setting up West with a signature composition style it also means that the soundtrack contains the level of competent storytelling that I've come to equate with Mark West's songwriting. And yet, perhaps due to West's collaboration with Derek Yau or by his own choice, the majority of the songs , while not losing their capable storytelling, sound new and exclusive to this project. There's also a heavy emphasis on melody and rarely do the tracks appear to just function as mood-indicators/musical placeholders (the only exceptions are "I Know What You're Up To" and "I've Not Told This Story For A While).

I haven't seen Booked Out but if it's even half as good as the soundtrack that accompanies it, I'm definitely excited to see it. The tracks have a standalone quality that makes purchasing the soundtrack a no-brainer. Sure, there's the question of context and meaning but many of the tracks are so evocative and well-composed that it's practically a non-issue (at least for the moment).

Give the soundtrack a listen via The Lost Cavalry's Bandcamp:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pitstop: Zu Shapes

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It's rare (but not uncommon) that I stack two artist features on top of each other. But you see, Zu Shapes is actually related to my latest feature on Lands & Peoples in that it's the solo project of Beau Cole, one half of Baltimore duo. His work as Zu Shapes takes the form of beachy bedroom pop that's actually pretty lovely. Filled with sun-kissed melodies and a little bit of a dreamy haze, it's doesn't actually sound like your typical bedroom project. I mean, the recording is pretty polished.

You can listen to his tunes via Bandcamp and if you like you can pre-order Zu Shapes's 4 song debut Merigold on cassette (if that's your thing) from Friends Records. Or you know, go for the pay-what-you-want digital release. Either/or.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New tracks from Joshua Sturm

A little more than a year ago, I was introduced to student/folk guitarist Joshua Sturm when he opened up for Portland folk band Horse Feathers at Vassar College. He's more or less been busy with life ever since but thanks to a random fit of nostalgia, I emailed him and was able to get some new songs by him. Which is great considering that there used to only be two songs on his Myspace page (now there's 3 but they're new/reworked). With his permission, I'm posting those songs here for your listening pleasure. If you like them, make sure you spread the word!

Joshua Sturm - You Were Born by All Around Sound Blog

Joshua Sturm - The Tum Tum Tree by All Around Sound Blog

Joshua Sturm - Sunny Eyes and a Sailor's Moon by All Around Sound Blog

Pitstop: Lands & Peoples

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As what seems to be the case these days, I discovered Baltimore band Lands & Peoples while tending to my minor obsession with Brooklyn band ARMS. I was watching videos of ARMS performing for the Big Ugly Yellow Couch when a curious little video of Lands & Peoples performing "Awake" a Capella on a giant windchime in Austin, Texas during SXSW popped up.

Since their SXSW stint, Lands & Peoples has undergone major changes: namely the loss of two of their members and subsequent conversion from quartet to duo. That hasn't deterred Caleb Moore or Beau Cole in the slightest though. The two are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and their work as a two-some are on par with their previous releases and no doubt poised to be much better.

To date, Lands & Peoples has one EP released in '09 and a single by the name of "In Living Colour" released last year. The duo are currently working on new tunes and are playing shows. So if you're either in the New York City area on July 2nd (they'll be at Pianos) or the Baltimore area on the 5th or 27th (they'll be playing Penthouse Gallery and Metro Gallery respectively) make sure you give them a listen.

You can check out their updated sound on a live recording from a June show at the Metro Gallery here or their old stuff on Bandcamp here. Both are awesome. End of story.

Give Lands & Peoples a listen with this live track of new song "Everyday" from their Live at the Metro Gallery show last month.
Lands & Peoples - Live at the Metro Gallery (6/11/11) 01 Everyday by All Around Sound Blog

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nat Baldwin - People Changes (2011)

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While checking out a enterprising young band (more on them later), I stumbled upon the fact that Nat Baldwin (of Dirty Projectors fame) had released a solo album and was currently on tour supporting it. My immediate thought was: I have to check this out. And yet I was also highly dubious. Because I honestly had no idea what to expect. This was the first time I had ever heard of a double bassists turned singer/songwriter (well besides Esperanza Spalding and Stanley Clarke but they're jazz bassists). After listening to "Weights" and "Lifted", I was absolutely won over. Considering that the album is only 7 songs long and two of the songs were incredible, buying the album for the rest of the tracks didn't seem like too much of a gamble.

Opening with a cover of avant-garde cellist Arthur Russell's "A Little Lost", I was hooked, ready to just sit and let Nat Baldwin delightful multi-tasking take control until the album ended. Each track on the album ups the already seemingly high ante, bringing each song to it's ultimate extreme - culminating in the free-form 2-minute solo jam that is "What Is There". Before that, there's been a sort of break in Nat Baldwin's pastorals filled with saxophone squeaks and squawks, cymbal crashes and abnormal drum beats ("Real Fakes" "Lifted"). These random bursts of activity is what makes those brilliant musical moments of pastoral bliss (like in Kurt Weisman cover "Let My Spirit Rise") all that more hard-won.

People Changes is an album whose rugged experimentalism makes it one of my favorite type of album: Those that bend and defy any concept of genre. The kind of album that you excitedly share with like-minded people of good taste because you can't properly qualify what it sounds like. Nat Baldwin's fourth album, no doubt influenced by his time in the Dirty Projectors and bass training, is marvelous. I will admit it's a bit abrasive for unprepared ears but if you stick with it, it's well worth the initial shock to the system.

Get a taste of Nat Baldwin with a live video of him performing "Weights":