Monday, October 31, 2011

New tracks from Lands & Peoples

When I was first introduced to Baltimore's Lands & Peoples, they had just made the impressive leap from quartet to two-some and were figured out how to function. In the months since then, the duo have since developed a rather impressive live show where the two weave massive amounts of electronic know-how with intertwining vocal harmonies and busy instrumental parts. The result is a musical style that in blending various genres creates something transcendental.

Lands & Peoples Microshow recording provides a notable progression from their Live at the Metro Gallery debut; several of their old songs are polished and all the more better for it. "Untitled #2" becomes "Memo", and the vocals in general improve tenfold. There's also some new songs that are pretty great too. If Lands & Peoples can improve so much in about a couple months, there's no guessing how great they'll be in a year or two. Here's hoping there's much more on the horizon for the enterprising young band.

Get a taste of Lands & Peoples new updated sound with new track "Ghosts" and "Frozen"
Lands & Peoples - Ghosts by All Around Sound Blog

Lands & Peoples - Frozen by All Around Sound Blog

You can download the Microshow here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pitstop: Balkans

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Before heading off to CMJ almost two weeks ago, I had thoroughly planned out the showcases I would be attending and the bands I wanted to see. Or so I thought. Strangely enough there didn't appear to be that much happening on the Tuesday night I had chosen to start my CMJ adventure but the promise of Gauntlet Hair and Atlanta based band Balkans (who were short-listed on Spin Magazine's 30 Must See CMJ bands) playing at Pianos was the saving grace of my evening. Despite Gauntlet Hair cancelling, the evening was no doubt saved by Balkans.

The Atlanta foursome channel a Strokes-esque manner of cool, understated jangly rock while not just sounding like wannabes. Balkans' self-titled debut is collection of punky, drawling vocals with rapid, unforgivingly precise guitar rock with an oddly infectious pop sensibility. Their songs, though short, are an excitingly, attention-grabbingly angular - the kind that have you returning to the album to hear that awesome guitar lick again and again. If you haven't listen to Balkans yet, one listen will have you regretting it instantly.

Check out Balkans with this intense live video of album opener "Edita V":

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crystal Fighters release new video for "Champion Sound"

British folktronic dance band Crystal Fighters have certainly come a long way from the plotless "I Love London" with their brand new video for "Champion Sound". Though the premise is pretty standard: Boy meets girl; girl whisks boy away on a whimsical adventure - the way it's done is pretty nice to look at. As the boy sets up shop on a street to play for money, he's picked by a carload of colorful gypsy folk and sits next to the girl of his dreams. From there he's brought back to the gypsy den where the members of Crystal Fighters make up the house band for a sort of wacky gypsy dance party. And then the lines between fictional realities blur and you're not exactly sure what's actually happening. I won't spoil the ending for you, just watch the video to find out what I mean.

The Lost Cavalry - Snow City Radio EP (2011)

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After months of anticipation-gathering updates and the release of two of the tracks, British quintet The Lost Cavalry are ready for their release of their brand new Snow City Radio EP. The four song follow up to last year's Waves Freeze to Rolling Hills EP takes the otherworldly tales and on-point song composition to a whole new level. Whereas Waves features yawny swells and a pervasive contemplative air, Snow City Radio adds some much beneficial variety. Sure, Mark West's talent for creating sprawling pieces of lyrical story-telling is still there but it's imbued with a brand new heretofore un-experienced energy that propels each song forward into the next culminating with the enrichingly collaborative "The Flood", slowly building into this cathartic moment of absolute release.

Snow City Radio proves that the brilliance of Waves Freeze to Rolling Hills wasn't just some marvelous fluke (not that anyone thought that) but just the warm up for Mark West's rather impressive set of songwriting chops.

The Lost Cavalry's Snow City Radio EP is out November 21st but you can preview all four songs on the Bandcamp:

Pitstop: Conveyor

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Brooklyn quartet Conveyor is probably one of the only instances of meeting a band before having a chance to listen to their music I've had. Two of it's members happened to be outside during We Listen For You's CMJ Day Party and through appealing to my love of all things ARMS pretty much convinced me to check out their music when I got home.

There's isn't a whole lot available from the budding quartet and yet in just four short songs on their Sun Ray EP, I fell a little in love. Beginning with the hazy, melody-driven "Foreword", each song on Sun Ray invokes a different feeling or emotion. "Sun Ray" with it's bright, playful bounce is a delightfully pleasant pastoral ode to the wonders of nature. "Yes, Some Things Are So Heavy" proves the beneficial nature of imbuing your music with emotional cues - the repetitive lyrics brought to life by the swirling vocal harmonies and driving drums.

As is the case with the majority of my favorite music, what Conveyor do is kind of hard to explain in terms of genre. Occasionally noisy but extensively dreamy, Conveyor's music is defined in part by what's going on at that very moment like the electronic blips that form part of the framework of "Milkman". All in all, a distinctly infectious venture. Here's hoping we get to experience more of Conveyor.

Hear Conveyor's Sun Ray EP on Bandcamp:

Monday, October 24, 2011

North Highlands - Wild One (2011)

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From the second I was introduced to Brooklyn quintet North Highlands at their co-headlining show with ARMS this summer, the news of their album has been constantly on my brain. How would their dance-y brand of chamber pop translate from the stage to an album? The answer is surprisingly well. Which is not surprising given they’ve been sitting on the album for a bit.

While Brenda Malvini’s vocals aren’t all that commanding, in fact barely registering louder than a delicate coo, that’s their strength. She could be screeching and wailing for your attention but instead she softly and sneakily wins your heart and the band makes sure to always keep her as the focus. No matter how busy the parts are, there’s always a pocket for Malvini’s soft, dreamy vocals.

Wild One is kind of a misnomer. Though it gets its name from its most raucous track “Roundhouse”, the album’s energy is a lot more subtle. Instead the songs are given room to flex and grow in this way that I wish more songwriters utilized. Their debut is downright balmy- recalling the sort of musical sight-seeing artists like Lord Huron invoke despite the fact that the album was written and recorded in bustling cities like New York and Philadelphia. The warm, inviting organic metamorphosis packs the album with these spectacular moments that’s the direct result of having such talented members all share the spotlight and keeps all the songs fresh and exciting. Wild One is no doubt a labor of love, talent, and a wonderful debut from a band that deserves to have more music out that it currently does. Here’s hoping North Highlands are already prepping a follow up because as satisfying as Wild One is, it only makes you crave more.

You can listen to their whole debut at their Bandcamp:

Fleet Foxes post teaser for upcoming new video

About a half hour ago, Seattle folk rockers Fleet Foxes posted this teaser trailer for their upcoming video for "The Shrine/An Argument". Directed by Robin Pecknold's older brother Sean, the video is bound to be epic. I mean, when you decide to make a video for an 8 minute track that's pretty much the only thing it can be. So until the official release of the video, enjoy the short teaser:

The Shrine / An Argument from Sean Pecknold on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pitstop: Secret Mountains

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(Photo by Valerie Paulsgrove)

Baltimore six-piece Secret Mountains was one of the rare bands that I knew about before I saw them at CMJ due in part to their friendship with another Baltimore band: Lands & Peoples. However while I knew they existed I had never heard them listened to their music or heard them live before their set at Spike Hill. The theme for the day at Spike Hill appeared to be intense live energy and Secret Mountains certainly didn't disappoint. After seeing so many bands whose utilize them as their centerpiece, I have no idea how I'm still surprised by small girls with powerhouse vocals but when Kelly Laughlin opened her mouth my jaw dropped. Simultaneously soothing and heart-achingly beautiful.

Another great thing about Secret Mountains is their hard to define sound. It's music that stands up on its own merits not confined to any particular genre despite the fact that there's elements from many in their music. A sort of folk-infused psychedelic rock with elements of electronica that all mesh together to create this beautiful, captivating tangle with surprisingly angular hooks.

Get a taste of Secret Mountains with the video for "Rejoice" of their Rejoice EP:

Secret Mountains - Rejoice from john andrews on Vimeo.

If you like what you hear, make sure to pick up their music at their website here where you can also listen to more of their tunes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pitstop: Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

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Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers was the first band I saw this week at New York's College Music Journal Marathon. A quiet, low attended show at Spike Hill in Brooklyn where I originally went to see Lands & Peoples for the first time live yielding a surprisingly great start to my CMJ experience. Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers are folk rock group from Lansing, Michigan with a ton of onstage energy and the particularly amazing songwriting talent of frontman Joe Hertler. Where it would be easy for them to coast by on their infectious live energy, what really made them a great band to listen to was Hertler's lyrical chops and charm. Add in the fact that the band hasn't even been together a full yet and you can imagine my surprise at hearing such a cohesive, captivating live set. Whether in the overtly folky "Devil, Don't Steal My Bicycle" or the more understated "Carbon C14" and "We Are Everything", it's clear that Joe Hertler and his band are accomplished musicians who know what they're doing and do it well. An absolute pleasure to see live, actually.

Get a taste of Joe Hertler and his band The Rainbow Seekers with these video of "Devil, Don't Steal the Bicycle" and "We Are Everything":

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers debut album, On Being, is out November 8th via Bigger Brush Media and it's definitely a must have. You can pre-order it now here.

Fanfarlo release new single, announce new album details

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Right on the heels of the released of their new video for "Deconstruction", British chamber pop quintet Fanfarlo have the release of it as their new single packaged with "Reconstruction": a 15 minute experimentation with the genesis and dismantling of a pop song. The single is available via iTunes for all those interested here.

Also, the group took that moment to finally announce some important details about their upcoming album. The album, Rooms Filled With Light, is slated for a February 28th release date stateside and a day earlier for the rest of the world.

The band is also about to embark on a small series of tour dates consisting of 5 east coast shows before jetting over to Europe for some late Fall festival action.

In case you missed it, here's Fanfarlo's video for "Deconstruction", the second collaboration with director Alex Southam:

Friday, October 14, 2011

We Are Augustines - Rise Ye Sunken Ships (2011)

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I only found out about Brooklyn trio We Are Augustines through an incredibly passionate review of the band’s debut album Rise Ye Sunken Ships from Sam at MiddleClassWhiteNoise. In addition to Sam’s ardent desire for them to be heard, what really resonated with me was the backstory. Sometimes a band has some kind of cool backstory that makes them buzzworthy while having very little to do with who they are as a band. In the case of We Are Augustines, their backstory informs every second of their music.

Every verse, every chorus, and every lick of Rise Ye Sunken Ships is inspired by lead songwriter Billy McCarthy experiences of living in foster homes, being homeless, having both his mother and brother (who suffered from schizophrenia) commit suicide but in spite of all this, there manages to an almost ever-present feeling of hope. That despite all this tragic events there’s still some light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s hard not to want to empathize with the group after learning their backstory and yet, We Are Augustines are more than just some sob story. They’re talented musicians capable of creating an enriching and engaging album through the synthesis of their real life experiences into their music. They’re mostly acoustic rock style is hard-hitting, captivating, and distinctly memorable. The songs barrel into each other but not haphazardly – instead the group realizes its momentum and utilizes it to the best of their ability to create an album that moves quickly while never compromising what it is that it has to say. There’s ballads peppered throughout but they don’t bog things down, instead providing changes of pace and a much more noticeable emotional shifts. Rise Ye Sunken Ships is an album that manages to be equal parts emotional and energetic and always riveting. A definite must listen.

Get a taste of We Are Augustines with their new video for "Book of James":

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fanfarlo - "Deconstruction" video

Hot on the heels of the NPR debut, British chamber pop quintet have released a brand new video for new track "Deconstruction" off their upcoming full-length. The video, directed by Alex Southam, follows in their visually focused style they revealed in the "Replicate" video with a noted exception - while "Replicate" was utterly packed with visual effects and colors, the video for "Deconstuction" sticks to pure black and white and has an actual plot. Sort of. The band is featured in an art gallery like setting at work on some sort of exhibition while reporters, interviewers, and other such people buzz around them and film their progress. My favorite part is that the interview is subtitled with song lyrics.

Fanfarlo - "Deconstruction" from stereogum on Vimeo.

(via Stereogum)

Listen: First Aid Kit - "The Lion's Roar"

Since the release of their debut album The Big Black and the Blue last, Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg aka First Aid Kit have been busy touring, recording tracks with super producers (Jack White), and charming the hearts and ears of anyone lucky enough to hear their music. And so as the two get ready to depart on another world tour, news of their upcoming album The Lion's Roar spread, particularly today where the title track was unveiled via their website and NPR.

The new track channels the emotional intensity and poignant question-asking of tracks like "Hard Believer" and "Heavy Storm" off their debut, along with their characteristic sweeping vocal harmonies and a much more mature and flushed out sound.

You can listen to the new track here.

(Via ListenBeforeYouBuy)

ARMS premiere second single from upcoming album

Less than a month ago, Brooklyn quartet ARMS revealed the first single "Fleeced" from their upcoming album Summer Skills. Well today, NYLON Magazine premiered the second single "Glass Harmonica". The new track with its' driving beat, undulating melodies, and complex layer proves exactly why ARMS' Summer Skills is one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

Give it a listen and remember, Summer Skills is out November 4th.

GlassHarmonica by NYLONmag

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pitstop: Wild Ones

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One of the good things about following a good band is that you're introduced to a bunch of other good bands by proxy. Just like I found Youth through Portland folk outfit Typhoon, I was able to discover synth-pop quintet Wild Ones through the promotion of Typhoon's BFF Fall Tour.

Formed in 2009 as a duo, Danielle Sullivan and Thomas Himes assembled a cast of talented musicians to round out their band and bring their bedroom recordings to life. As a result, the band has released their You're A Winner EP earlier this year filled with vibrant, upbeat synth-pop with moony but infectious toe-tapping melodies. Thankfully there's more to come as the band work on a full length album for release next year.

Get a taste of Wild Ones with the EP tracks as well as new track "Need It All" on their Souncloud here.
Need It All by WILD_ONES

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lord Huron - "Mighty" video

Unlike the sprawling ice fields featured in "The Stranger", the second video from Los Angeles based but intrepid world traveler Ben Schneider's band Lord Huron focuses on the hot and vast wilds of Africa. Well mostly. In the video for "Mighty" there's vintage found footage of a family of leopards as they do battle against hyenas, gazelle, and cobras along with numerous visuals of boats and the sea and even a little bit of animation to spice things up. And while that might sound like the most exciting thing ever (which it totally is, by the way), the video by Yuki Aizawa makes it work. It's very National Geographic but in a cool way. Plus who can turn down another chance to hear this balmy, upbeat track again?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fanfarlo release new track "Deconstruction"

Right before the release of "Replicate", British chamber pop quintet Fanfarlo outright stated that they're upcoming album was going to be much different than their debut Reservoir. And then we were treated to "Replicate" and its video which was dark, minimalistic, and trades in their sweeping folk stylings for something a bit more controlled and methodical.

With their latest release "Deconstruction", we are given something a bit warmer. It's not Reservoir era Fanfarlo but bridges the gap between the debut and "Replicate" a bit better. Electronics make their way into the fray amid bouncy guitar riffs and delightful violin and horn flourishes. There's even some sampling to be found. Much like it's title, the song slowly builds parts until it unravels leaving the listener with a fading piano line and a feeling of downright joy.

Hear "Deconstruction" here:

(via NPR)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feist - Metals (2011)

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One of the perks of being a good singer/songwriter is you’re allowed an almost limitless opportunity to display raw, vulnerable moments without fear of judgment and yet Feist has taken the emotional high road time and time again. After about a four year break, Leslie Feist is back with a brand new batch of tunes. While she has lent her talents to numerous friend’s albums and projects and produced her own documentary, Metals marks Feist’s return to full length album releases and attempt to reclaim her place amongst the smart, able songwriters that were once her peers.

Enlisting the aid of frequent collaborators Chilly Gonzales and Mocky, Metals’ greatest strengths are in the production and arrangements. These tools are really what make several of the tracks sparkle; the dreamy atmosphere of “Caught a Long Wind”, the blustering cacophony of “A Commotion”, the assaulting background vocals of “Undiscovered First”. These moments are essentially what make the songs. Feist vocals are beautiful but there’s a bit of a disconnect. Though the album never comes off as a weeping pitying affair or even like a true break up album, there’s hints of foul-play and conflict that might have benefitted if Metals were a bit more confessional.

It’s obvious that Metals is a richly layered album that has much to offer in multiple listens but it really falters lyrically. Feist has always utilized nature imagery in her songs but on Metals you’re practically inundated by it. Sure there are little moments like the sardonic wit of “Comfort Me” where Feist croons “When you comfort me, it doesn’t bring me comfort actually” but for the most part, the lyrics don’t really register or resonate. They’re just kind of there alongside some absolutely amazing melodies and spectacular music moments. Metals is accessible but not particularly innovative. So while it’s perfectly enjoyable to listen to, it doesn’t quite pay off the four years Feist’s spent building up to it. But if it’s between this or another four years of waiting, we’ll take what we can get.