Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lenses Alien (2011)

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It’s clear from first glance and listen that Cymbals Eat Guitars follow up to 2009’s Why There Are Mountain is different. Sure it’s the same band and the lead tracks are similarly lengthy but whereas the debut was filled with musically meandering moments, Lenses Alien has a rapid-fire take no prisoners vibe. Joseph D’Agostino punk-y vocals bring to life the novel-esque verbosity into eloquent, sincere turns of phrase. Album opener “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)” with its mammoth 8 minutes serves as the mediator between Why There Are Mountains CEG and Lenses Alien CEG. It’s sprawlingly grandiose but far more direct and gritty than any song on the debut (even its parallel “…And the Hazy Sea”).

Many of Lenses Alien’s strongest tracks are those that we have been introduced to before like “Plainclothes”, “Another Tunguska”, “Definite Darkness”, and “Wavelengths”. That’s not to say that any of the never been released songs aren’t good. In fact “Gary Condit” is an early favorite of mine. It’s that they’ve had the longest time to gestate, for the band to premiere them, get feedback, and change or present in different context. As an album, Lenses Aliens is far stronger than Cymbals’ debut. The band is tighter, fused together from years of playing together and touring. There’s only one moment on the whole album that I feel the band fumbles in any regard: “Shore Lines”. Though it’s full of some rather delightful musical moments (vocal harmonies, numerous tempo switch ups, the lyrics come off a bit contrived. It’s almost too poetic, actually. Fragmented and convoluted, even after multiple listens the song’s point manages to elude me.

On Lenses Alien, Cymbals Eat Guitars are concise and rightfully so. This album sees the band tapping more into the potential they were practically oozing on Mountains. Everything is much more mature: the playing more intense, the songwriting more descriptive and rich. Here’s hoping there’s more to come from Cymbals Eat Guitars if they continue to make music this good.

You can stream the whole album at Spin here.

Givers - Meantime" video

Earlier today, Louisiana pop outfit Givers released a brand new video for their track "Meantime" off recently release debut album In Light.

I'll be honest with you. I have no idea what the plot is for this video. One minute the band is entering an abandoned house in true Scooby-Doo fashion, then they revert to their childhood forms with blanket forts and the like, followed by a crazy confetti-laden house party with the band as the musical guests. That's it. Sure there's random colorful silhouette visuals and enough flashing lights to send you into an epileptic seizure but really that's it. And yet I liked it enough to watch it again. Maybe it was just for the opportunity to hear the song again in new context or just the group's infectious energy but I strangely enjoyed the almost plot-less video.

Watch the video for "Meantime":

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blind Pilot offer up final album preview and stream new album

With only two weeks to go until the release of their sophomore record, Portland band Blind Pilot offer up their third and final album teaser. This last trailer features album track "New York" and continues the trend of showing the band at work in the studio and also a kind of intimate live performance. Watch the trailer below:

Blind Pilot: We Are The Tide - Album Preview 3 from Blind Pilot on Vimeo.

And along with releasing their final album preview, Blind Pilot's whole album is now available for streaming at part of NPR's First Listen here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wet Paint - Woe

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One of my first experiences on interactive radio-player Turntable.fm introduced me to Wet Paint. I heard one song (which I'll admit, I have forgotten) and immediately went bought the album. That might seem a tad bit impulsive but the track in question was rather good. There's not a whole lot I can tell you about the band itself aside from Wet Paint is a four piece from London, due to the band having an almost un-Google-able bandname (a la Cults) but what they lack in information they more than make up for in musical ability.

It's hard to explain why I like Wet Paint so much. Maybe it's the Pavement-esque sound - of good old-fashioned 90's garage rock but with a twist. A midst the messy nostalgic jangle, frontman Babak Ganjei drawls in a style reminiscent of Hot Club de Paris' Paul Rafferty especially in "Distant Memory". And yet Wet Paint are much more than a tribute band to the sounds of 90's garage rock and other British bands. "Aim Low" and "Lynchstrumental" serves as the album's two major emotional sounding boards. Thinly accompanied, they're the moments when Ganjei's lyrics are most readily heard and stripped away from their livelier dressings.

Woe, with it's themes of powerlessness and age, is much more than the sob-story it's title might suggest. On Woe, Wet Paint with their bold guitar licks and intense energy rebel kicking and screaming against unassailable circumstance. So while the band might wear it's influences on its sleeve, it uses them aptly to drive home their points, themes, and create an album that enjoyable to listen to again and again.

Listen to Wet Paint with Pavement-esque track "Gone So Long":

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ARMS reveals release date for Summer Skills

After what seems like ages and lots of hinting, Brooklyn quartet ARMS have finally announced the release date for their sci-fi/fantasy epic and concept album Summer Skills. Along with that we have album art and a tracklist. If you're not excited, get ready to be. One of my most anticipated album of the year, Summer Skills is stacked with great songs that combine intricate instrumentation with rich, intelligent lyricism with no lack of emotional content.

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- Emily Sue, Cont'd
- Fleeced
- Dog Days
- High Heels
- Heat & Hot Water
- Sore
- Three Mile Island
- Face-Gravity
- Glass Harmonica
- Curtains

With such a good album on the horizon, November 8th can't seem to get here quick enough. Until then, I'll continue to bond with their free 5 song EP.

In case you missed it, here's their first album trailer featuring "Fleeced":

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

St. Vincent premieres new song and video "Cruel"

With only two and a half weeks until the release of her new album Strange Mercy, St. Vincent gives us a further glance into the new album and her psyche with the video for "Cruel". In it, St. Vincent is just a regular gas station customer who encounters a little girl in a wheelchair. Any "aw"-inspiring cuteness is destroyed when you realize it's all just a ploy to distract Annie Clark so she can be abducted. A sack thrown over her head, Clark is brought to a random house and forced to be their mother figure. However, in true St. Vincent fashion all is not sunshine and daisies. Clark is forced to suffer indignation after indignation as the kids torment her in a variety of ways (the most jarring of which is holding her head underwater while she bathes) and proves to be quite the bad homemaker. Deciding to cut it's loses, the family then buries Clark alive and goes about its business.

Annie Clark's videos have always been artfully cinematic and kind of dark but this one takes it to a new level. Add in Clark's little wink-wink nudge-nudge moment of comic relief as she plays the guitar in the trunk of the car while tied up with a sack over her head and you have a very enjoyable video. The track itself, with it's jazzy saxophone and it's big drum beats is swaggeringly sexy despite lyrics about desertion and abandonment after use.

Strange Mercy is out September 13th.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pitstop: Of Monsters and Men

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Iceland is home to many talented musicians: Sigur Rós (and Jónsi by proxy), Björk, and cousins Ólöf and Ólafur Arnalds to name a few. Well now, a new Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men seems poised to take up the mantle of delightful Nordic exports.

Though known mostly outside Iceland for their song "Little Talks", Winners of the 2010 nationwide battle of the bands competition Músiktilraunir and playing all sorts of festivals and gigs all over Iceland, the sextet prove that they're no one hit wonders. And with their debut full length set for release this September, the world will get to share in their distinct brand of folk pop. The second I heard the accordion, I knew I was hooked- and then I fell victim to Of Monsters and Men's rousing clustered choruses and deep-cutting emotionally evocative lyrics.

Get a taste of Iceland's latest up-and-comers Of Monsters and Men with a live video of "Little Talks" for KEXP filmed in Iceland:

Feist offers up additional album teaser

Yesterday, Feist offered up the latest of her album teasers, this time #9. The good thing about the album teasers is each contains part of a new song from her upcoming album Metals. The bad thing is each contains part of a new song from her upcoming album. Nothing makes you want an album more than being able to hear what's going to be on it. Or something to that effect. With #9, Feist teases with full-bodied female group vocals and more visuals of her enjoying herself in Big Sur, California. Add in some awkward white girl dancing from Feist herself and you have what's arguably the most enjoyable teaser she's released thus far.

Also of note is that previously viewed teaser #7 is now locked. Perhaps for a future reveal after the official release/announcement of the second single. Whatever the case, you can view the teasers as well as pre-order the album at Feist's official website here.

Get pumped for Metals with #9:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hello MTN - Tour EP

While the circumstances that brought this to my attention are unfortunately (forest fire potentially consumed camping gear) I'm kind of selfishly glad. Currently, Portland duo Hello MTN are on tour and are toting around this four song EP with them but now out of necessity it's now available to all who are unable to see them on their little West Coast tour.

The Tour EP contains two songs which you might've heard before thanks to the duo's album previews "Suitcase Song" and "Palace Stairs" but also features a cover of a song by band friend singer/songwriter Ryan Vapes in addition to a brand new track that may be on the upcoming album.

Even though it's only four songs, I'm glad to be able to own something from Hello MTN, if only just to tide me over until their full-length is released. The three songs are dark and introspective yet never boring or depressing. Seasoned professionals (musicianly speaking), the duo achieve the right balance of sparse beauty and engaging musicianship. And ep closer "What's Next?" is the perfect end song. Both upbeat and also preparing the listener for more Hello MTN. So until the day the album arrives, this'll do.

You can buy the band's uber cheap EP here.

Listen to the EP:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pitstop: Yes Lord Sugar

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Three years ago, one of my favorite up and coming bands British powerpop trio Elle s'appelle called it quits. Liverpool quartet goFaster>> just recently ceased also. While this was initially tragic news now fans of the bands have reason to celebrate: Yes Lord Sugar. The new band is made up of 3/4th goFaster>> (Rich Collingwood, James Murphy, and Ian Felmingham)and Lucy Blakely of Elle s'appelle. The outcome isn't just a mash-up of the bands styles but rather merges both bands strengths like Lucy's sugary sweet but resoundingly clear vocals and Rich, James, and Ian's driving, air-tight playing. There's also delightful vocal harmonies and a feel-good danceability that warrants an almost excessive amount of replays.

If this is the result, maybe it's not such a bad thing two of my favorite bands broke up? Here's hoping there's more to come from the new Liverpool foursome Yes Lord Sugar. Get a taste of Yes Lord Sugar with two of their demo tracks "Wasted Minds" and "That Look In His Eyes".

Yes Lord Sugar - Wasted Minds by All Around Sound Blog

Yes Lord Sugar - That Look in his Eyes by All Around Sound Blog

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Dodos - "Good" video

Keeping with the minimalistic black and white color scheme that's more less defined their past two videos, The Dodos new video for "Good" is markedly different. Instead of the psuedo-supernatural plots, "Good" just features the two doing their thing in a large white room while an invasive black ink encroached upon the band before plunging everything into inverse colors and Rorschach-esque blottiness. There's a lot that can go wrong with the whole trippy psychedelic visuals thing (see Braids' video for "Lammicken") and yet, it's pulled off pretty awesomely here like with the ink geysers and basically every time the boys' colors are inverted. Definitely a video worth checking out.

Watch the video for "Good":

Bon Iver releases video for "Holocene"

Proving that you never really can predict what he'll do, yesterday Justin Vernon premiered the all new video for "Holocene" off current summer fave Bon Iver, Bon Iver on the National Geographic website. You might be asking yourself: Why National Geographic? Because, like bandmate S. Carey, Vernon had his video shot in the wilds of the Nordic north. Director Nabil Elderkin has captured the lovely Icelandic landscape in all it's microcosmic glory: pairing rocky volcanic region with expansive green fields, frosty glaciers, and peaceful shorelines. Though Vernon has handed conceptual duty to Elderkin on this one, it captures the same sort of dramatic nature-inspired simplicity as "Calgary".

Enjoy the video for "Holocene":

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cats on Fire - Dealing in Antiques (2010)

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I avoid single band compilations as a general rule since they're usually just best of collections of stuff already released by the band. And yet, at least in this case, they're a pretty good way to get into a band. Especially if their music isn't the most readily available. Case in point: Finnish band Cats on Fire. Years ago I found out about them via Eardrums and then kind of forgot I liked them. That sounds awful, I know, but I couldn't find their music anywhere. Now, through to the awesome catalog on Spotify, I've since been able to experience the band in full.

I would recommend Cats on Fire to people who like The Smiths or things that sound like The Smiths that just happen to not be The Smiths. But there's more to them than that. Cats on Fire is lush, melody driven jangle-pop that Scandinavia is known for. Released last year, Dealing In Antiques is a compilation of several songs only available on EPs released in the early 2000's. In fact that songs that appear on their debut album are in their original EP version form here. Packaged up with a cover of White Town's "Your Woman", B-sides, and a never before released track, it's a great introduction to a band whose songs are composed of rich narratives, driving instrumentals, and high no expense spared energy.

It's rare for a band with only two full length albums to get a best of compilation but considering Cats on Fire have been making music together for about a decade, it's not totally surprising. What makes Dealing in Antiques a particularly exciting compilation is that it's not just a collection of played to death tracks batter by radio play. Despite it's rather intense 20 track length, each song is refreshingly diverse but still familiar- no doubt aided by Mattias Bjorkias distinctive, pleasant croon. Somewhat melancholic songs about socialism and small-town living are dressed up with sparse though intelligently well-crafted arrangements and next thing you know, you have powered through all of Dealing in Antiques and only want for more. In this, Cats on Fire have achieved what so few bands do. Each track on the compilation is an utter delight, shining with modest brilliance. Their songs are catchy without sacrificing quality and smart without forgoing relevancy. Cats on Fire have certainly earned this compilation but here's hoping this isn't their magnum opus and their's more to come from the charmingly depressing Finns.

Get a taste of Cats on Fire with their upbeat number "Higher Grounds":

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feist posts more teasers, reveals new track

While Feist continues with her series of occasionally enigmatic teaser trailers for new album Metals, today she finally offered up her first full song preview in the form of "How Come You Never Go There". Initially premiered on KBCO at 9:40 this morning, for all you late sleepers (like me), there is hope. Feist has posted the track to her Soundcloud for continued listening enjoyment.

Many thanks to Listen Before You Buy for actually getting up to catch the radio show and getting a radio rip and letting everyone know about the Soundcloud.

And here's a little catch up with Feist trailers:



Teaser #8 will be revealed on Monday 8/15. So stayed tuned.

Here's the official album version of "How Come You Never Go There":
How Come You Never Go There by Feist

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Collections of Colonies of Bees - GIVING (2011)

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Earlier this month, Wisconsin rock sextet Collection of Colonies of Bees released their follow up to 2008's Birds, GIVING.

To start, GIVING is different than Birds in that it's track lengths are kept to a much more accessible minimum. While each track on Birds all clocked in somewhere near the 10 minute mark (If you were to round up), the new tracks are much shorter with the exception of end track "Vorms".

GIVING begins with sprightly, sun-on-your-face "Lawn" which practically bursts with smile-inducing glee a midst skipping guitar riffs and bouncy, virile drum rolls even as the ideas in "Lawn" merge, metamorphose, and gain an almost transcendental splendor. "Vorm", unlike it's predecessor, remains completely grounded due mostly to the almost relentless drum beat. And after establishing the ideas of the complimentary companion pieces, the sextet then turn it all on its head and turn "Lawns" harsh and abrasive and "Vorms" ethereal and positively resplendent.

It's obviously from first listen that Collections of Colonies of Bees suffer from no shortage of musical ideas and yet, their greatest strength is the seamless way they string them all together. While other bands offer up albums with a multitude of tracks, Collections of Colonies of Bees only need the four to both get their point across and also create a satisfying treat of an album. The sextet do in four rather strong yet short tracks what most band strive to do in their whole careers. With GIVING, Collections of Colonies of Bees channel their rock influences without equal. The six musician intertwine so well that you wouldn't know there were six of them unless someone told you. And yet, each member is an active part whether it's in the tinkering synths, the unassuming guitar lines, or the ever present drums.

You can listen to the whole album in full, thanks to the folks at Hometapes here:
Lawn by Hometapes

Vorm by Hometapes

Lawns by Hometapes

Vorms by Hometapes

Megafaun offer up second new album track

About a month ago Megafaun introduced fans to their upcoming self-titled album with "These Words" and now, they're offering another preview in the form of "State/Meant". Featuring Phil Cook on banjo, the new track is more straightforwardly folky than "These Words" and yet that's perfectly okay.

Listen to new track "State/Meant":
Megafaun "State/Meant" by Hometapes

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blind Pilot releases second album preview and free track download

With the release of their much anticipated sophomore album fast approaching, Blind Pilot have offered up another album preview video, this time featuring new track "Half Moon":

Blind Pilot: We Are The Tide - Album Preview 2 from Blind Pilot on Vimeo.

You can also get you hands on a free track from the upcoming album by either submitting your email or pre-ordering the new album at Blind Pilot's website here.

We Are The Tide is out September 13th.

Sea of Bees - "Skinnybone" video

Director Stephan Litger was in the audience during a Sea of Bees NYC show in April. It's a good thing he was because approached Sea of Bees frontwoman Julie Baenziger (or Julie Ann Bee as she is sometimes called) with idea of shooting a video. Which they then filmed back when Sea of Bees returned to NYC supporting Stornoway.

Sea of Bees - "Skinnybone" from Gravity Sleeps on Vimeo.

The video itself is part Alice in Wonderland adventure with a touch of Macbeth Witches creepiness. Jules is riding her bike when she comes across a special garbage can. Down the rabbit hole she goes and emerges in a colorful tribal dress adorned with a smattering of paints, a human bone drum mallet, and the garbage can becomes a witches cauldron filled with a mysterious liquid. If things didn't veer enough into heebie-jeebie-land, a faceless doppelanger of Julie appears for a bit of mimicry before Julie decides to return home.

(via Eardrums Music)

The Lost Cavalry premiere new track off upcoming EP

Mere days after the official release of their "Desert Tracks" single, London chamber pop quintet The Lost Cavalry are the track of the day at Q Magazine web site. But it's not any of the songs you might've come to love, instead they're offering a peak into their new song "The Tower" off their upcoming new EP. The new track goes where few Lost Cavalry tracks has gone before; break-neck pacing. Normally West spins talented yarns at walking tempo but with this new track, that normality is challenged for the better. It's a delightful change up from their tried-and-true methods and the song definitely benefits.

And the song happens to be inspired the Empire State Building in Manhattan- my pseudo hometown. So that's always a plus. Is it just me or this even more of a reason to be excited for the new EP?

Hear the new track "The Tower" here.
The Tower by The Lost Cavalry

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

North Highlands premiere new track "Benefits"

After seeing them live last month, I've been fiending for more music from the New York quintet North Highlands. Especially more of their rhythmic dance-y chamber pop that I was privy to that night. While being teased with un-remixed edits of "Hiking" and "Steady, Steady", now North Highlands have released a new track "Benefits" in all it's eventual album glory.

Their new album, Wild One, can't come out soon enough.

Watch: Memoryhouse - "Quiet America"

Quiet America from memoryhouse on Vimeo.

With the re-release of the debut EP The Years imminent, dreamy nostalgia-instilling duo Memoryhouse have been somewhat busy promoting it. Two months ago they offered the first glimpse into the newly packaged release with new song "Modern, Normal" and today, they've shedding the light on another new track: "Quiet America". The track, like it's name suggests, is like the majority of Memoryhouse's music; intensely soft. But unlike their chillier tracks, Quiet America is filled with a sort of welcoming warmth that plenty inviting. And considering it's place as the final track of the new EP, it's uplifting melodies are filled with the promise of new music.

The newly updated The Years EP is out on September 13th on Sub Pop.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Princeton release new tune "Clamoring For Your Heart"

For as much of a fuss as I gave when Princeton came out with their "To the Alps" single, I certainly haven't shown their new song "Clamoring For Your Heart" enough love. It's beenhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif out for a week now after premiering on Yours Truly and I paid it absolutely no mind. Why? I have no idea.

"Clamoring For You Heart" is a perfect example of what Princeton does oh so well. A retro-pop feel with some blippy non-distracting electronic interplay and some silky smooth baritone vocals all blend together to make a delightfully carefree pop gem.

So don't be like me, give Princeton's "Clamoring For You Heart" a listen right now:

Watch: Laura Marling - "Sophia"

With how much I've been fiending for Laura Marling's upcoming album A Creature I Don't Know and anything related to it, I'm kind of surprised I didn't know about the new video for "Sophia". Sure it was posted earlier today but if not for Listen Before You Buy, I might've missed it. Maybe.

Replacing the old video where viewers watched the "Sophia" single album art drawn over and over, this time around we have Laura Marling keeping equally as simple. Beginning with Marling solo in a church (no doubt inspired by her upcoming cathedral tour in England) before panning back to reveal her band members far behind her. Marling then strides over to them, there's some nifty light tricks, and Marling snarls at the camera like a badass. Just when you thought Laura Marling couldn't get anymore awesome, this video comes around to prove that she can.

Share my awe and amazement with the video for "Sophia":

Dark Captain to release new album.

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I remember when I was first introduced to London indie-pop quintet Dark Captain, Light Captain (who have since dropped the Light Captain from their name) a couple years ago via Eardrums. I was thoroughly enchanted by their light, airy sound. And then kind of forgot about them until recently. Turns out the folks of Dark Captain are making a new album. Dead Legs & Alibis, the follow up to their 2008 debut Miracle Kicker, will be out October 10th in the UK, no word yet on any US release.

You can preview the new album with a the first single "Submarines" and a b-side "Bellcurve" at their blog here. You can also download them both for free.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hello MTN previews another new track

Keeping their word, Portland folk duo Hello MTN have released another early version of an album track. This time in the form of the tentatively titled "Suitcase Song". It's markedly different from the rest of the previews in that this is the first track that features a more than just the duo. Enlisting Andrew Cambell on violin and Emmett Moeller on viola for some stellar string arrangements. If that wasn't enough to make the song ridiculous amazing, there's also a gentle organic transformation from tragic melancholy to a much more resolute farewell song.

Listen to "Suitcase Song":
Suitcase Song (early version) by hellomtn

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cymbals Eat Guitars offer up "Definite Darkness" and pre-order package

Almost a year ago, Cymbals Eat Guitars introduced new songs "Definite Darkness" and "Wavelengths" to the world live via BBC and now with their new album's release imminent, we get to hear one of these in all it's studio-infused glory. I'm not ashamed to admit that when it first came out, "Definite Darkness" wasn't my favorite of the new tracks and yet with it's new updated sound, that's changed almost instantly. It's got the certain level of aggression that fans of the band have come to love and yet, balances that out with smooth, sensual, balladic moments.

You can listen to the song via it's premiere on Pitchfork here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pitstop: Hospitality

I never understand why some people don't go to concerts until the headliner's set. The openers (at least in my privileged opinion) are usually pretty good and that's extra true in this case. In probably the only instance where I didn't see the opener's whole set (getting lost in the wilds of a city will do that to you), I missed what was sure to be a rousing set by Brooklyn four-piece Hospitality at ARMS and North Highlands co-headlining show. How do I know this? Because the only two songs I got to hear were incredible. And so as soon as I was able, I sought out any information I could on. Turns out the main theme of that gig was that each band was sitting on new album so a lot of the music was brand spanking new and thus not available for continued consumption. What I did find was a 3 song self-titled EP (available on their Bandcamp). Which is kind of backwards. Going from the amped up, energetic live stage show to the more low-key tracks written and recorded several years ago. The songs are sparse yet with distinct melodies carried by Amber Papini's unique delicate vocals.

In my research I've seen Hospitality referenced many times as "pop music that doesn't take the easy way to a hook". And it's true, Hospitality takes the long and winding high road to exceptional songwriting. They're unpredictable yet catchy; good music that comes almost delightfully out of left field. Give "Eighth Ave" a listen to better see what I mean:

Hospitality @ Mercury Lounge 7.27.2011 from Jessica Amaya on Vimeo.

The Lost Cavalry release "Desert Tracks" single

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After what seems like ages, The Lost Cavalry's new single "Desert Tracks" is officially out today. Besides being an awesome song about abandoned diamond mines in the deserts of Namibian. It also marks the first new release from The Lost Cavalry this year which means it's merely a matter of time before fans are able to get their hands on the EP promised earlier this year.

But that's not to diminish the quality of "Desert Tracks". The track is a folksy jaunt filled with swirling melodies with spirited storytelling that captivates from beginning to end.

Also check out the video for "Desert Tracks":