Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watch: Father John Misty - "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings"

Following his recent announcement of his departure from folk rock troubadours Fleet Foxes, Josh Tillman has already readied a worthwhile solo effort. Going under the moniker Father John Misty, his new album Fear Fun (out May 1st) seems to go in a largely different direction that Tillman's previous solo material or so we can glean from the amped up first single "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings".

And his first single has already received a video, starring Aubrey Plaza. Her role as a depressed mourner going absolutely crazy shows a side of her that you don't see in Parks & Rec - engulfing flowers, stripping, smashing things and throwing crazy fits all over the place. The video's certainly a trip but also has that right amount of pathos that keeps you from dismissing Plaza as some crazy party guest in need of a stronger drink or a straight jacket. And Josh Tillman shows up to more or less save the day. The exact plot of the video is a bit disjointed and obscured but could very well be the stuff of your intense indie film fodder. Watch the video:

And you can download "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" via email at Sub Pop.

Father John Misty's Fear Fun is out May 1st on Sub Pop Records.

(via Under the Radar)

Hospitality - Hospitality (2012)

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It’s a kind of strange coincidence that at their Mercury Lounge show last July, Brooklyn bands Hospitality, ARMS, and North Highlands played in an order the exact opposite to their album’s release times. A unifying factor between all of the bands that night was that each was sitting on a mostly finished album awaiting release when the time was right. North Highlands was first, self-released on the first day of CMJ, ARMS next also opting to self-release, and Hospitality one-upped them all by signing to Merge Records and getting a release date months away.

While it’s no doubt due to my ongoing obsessive love with ARMS that I was even remotely aware of Hospitality’s existence, the other reason I mention the aforementioned show at Mercury Lounge is because, surprisingly North Highlands and Hospitality are similar. One plays dance-y genre-dodging blend of high energy tunes, the latter intelligent, well-paced pop with touches of rock where it matters most. But Hospitality, like North Highlands’ Brenda Malvini, triumphs through the focus on Amber Papini’s delicate vocals. In fact, they’re far more subdued than Malvini’s, who occasionally raises it for rousing shouts.  But they’re by no means lifeless or passable, no, Papini’s the embodiment of that oft quoted Theodore Roosevelt saying: “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. Her stick of sorts is her winding tales of metropolitan life that imbue seemingly unimportant people and events with an endearing importance like “Betty Wang”. That and her band – Brian Betancourt and Nathan Michel bring Papini’s stories to greater life with their mindful arrangements and simplistic dressings that end up making the song (“Friends of Friends” outro in particular comes to mind).  Hospitality’s songs are the kind that remain largely unexpected and delightful regardless of how many times you’ve sat down with the record, no doubt a testament to Papini’s deft songwriting and her bands thoughtful assistance.  Several tracks you may have heard before, on the group’s debut EP way back in 2008, are given updates, transforming from lo-fi folksy pop numbers  into higher quality tracks with a rock edge while retaining the same charm that led you to love them in the first place.    

Though they may be the last from that fateful show to release their record, the wait was no doubt worth it. Each song on Hospitality has its place, wonderfully adorned with care and affection, what they lack in emotional vulnerability (a similar characteristic in North Highlands’ lyricism) they more than make up for in properly channeled talent and ability to just be darn good. Hospitality is downright enjoyable with just a hint of underlying quirk that’s just right regardless of mood. It’s poppy without being throwaway, smart without being bookish, and even manages to pack in a couple of cute moments into it. Hospitality’s is a record worth having – a surefire go-to when you’re looking for something just right. 

Get a taste of Hospitality with "Friends of Friends" and listen to their self-titled debut on Spotify.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bowerbirds - "In The Yard"

One of the greatest gifts you can ever wake to find is new Bowerbirds. It's also the first time that I get to reference the awesomely named My Folking Heart. You see, they're wholly responsible for me even knowing this track came out today so much thanks to them.

While Bowerbirds has consisted for quite some time of main players Phil Moore and Beth Tacular with a rotating cast of extras, "In the Yard" marks the first time on record that Beth has taken the lead on the song. Sure there was her brief solo turn in "Beneath Your Tree" but on the latest track from their upcoming record The Clearing, Beth stays in charge the whole song with Phil Moore harmonizing with her. It's a great change that manages to shake up their standard formula in just the right way.

Pitstop: The Elwins

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(Photo by Rachel Lee Tentcher)

You might remember my mentioning Impressionable Youth Media's Sound Effects compilation that featured that brand new Wildlife tune "Year in the Dark", well indie-pop quartet The Elwins were also featured on that eclectic all-Canadian release.

Releasing their debut EP in 2008, this year will mark the subsequent debut album's release. What struck me about The Elwins, most notably in their new single "Stuck in the Middle" (featured on Sound Effects), was a jazzy pop style reminiscent of Sondre Lerche. They don't replicate his sound exactly, instead it's just an awareness of the style that's artfully filtered into their music. Even going back to their self-titled EP, there's hints of it "Dear, Oh My", "Kristy May", and "Larry Pastorus". Other than their jazzy coloring, The Elwins craft fun toe-tapping numbers teeming with high amounts of energy cradled by guitarist Matthew Sweeney's easygoing, tuneful vocals. Enough to hint at their debut, And I Thank You, being a highly enjoyable affair.

Get a taste of The Elwins with their debut self-titled EP, latest single "Stuck in the Middle", and recent live session they did for Exclaim!:

The Elwins debut album And I Thank You is out February 21st.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dark Captain - Dead Legs & Alibis (2011)

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Three years and a name change later, London folktronica quintet Dark Captain Light Captain return (under the aforementioned name change Dark Captain) with their sophomore follow up to Miracle Kicker.

 On Dead Legs & Alibis, Dark Captain's darkly textured introspection is still at the forefront but there's a bit more forward movement and brief flashes of lightness than their debut particularly in tracks "Different & Easier" and "80000 Reasons". The fact that these two tracks are bookend-ed by slow movers essentially makes them pop all the more. Dark Captain subtly stack each track with instruments. "Different & Easier" starts with a jaunty piano intro, strips down to a tinny acoustic guitar, swells up with brass fills, and builds ever higher with clustered vocal harmonies. Such metamorphoses are what Dark Captain do well - they excel in intricate musical world building but allow you to see a bit of the scaffolding. This transparency, no doubt due to the band's confidence as musicians, makes the end result all the more enjoyable. You not only get to the intended destination but all the little stops on the way that make the trip all the more worth it.  

Like some of the best albums, Dead Legs & Alibis isn't for everyday listening. It has a moodiness that kind of guarantees that. It is however an album that  you can listen to, seemingly endlessly for great periods of time. Each track more or less is affixed cohesively to the other. Even the more upbeat tracks don't necessarily feel out of place - more they're little peaks in Dark Captain's stormy sea of atmospheric reflection and keep the album from being entirely slow-burning. Dead Legs & Alibis manages to offer up an air of freshness while still maintaining what could be called the band's signature sound - a worthwhile follow up to 2008's Miracle Kicker.

Get a taste of Dark Captain with the video for one of their lighter number, "Right Way Round":

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pistop: Writer

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Ever since catching Wildlife last Friday at Mercury Lounge, I've been in an uncharacteristic mood for loud, gritty rock music - a mood that has been properly satiated by Bay Area transplants Writer. As I watched them open up from ARMS at their recent Glasslands show one thing was abundantly clear: the brother duo make an astonishing amount of noise for two people. Each member impressively wielding a tambourine alongside drums or synthesizer, the brothers Andy and James Ralph play with an infectiously high energy and polished skill I was completely not expecting from an opening band. A pleasant start to what turned out to be an absolutely stacked display of talent. Writer's tunes feature a percussion-heavy focus filtered through a garage rock fuzz and adorned with ear-catching melodies - it's music that grips you tightly and jostles you around a bit from start to finish.

New Yorkers are lucky to have the newly relocated San Diego band and those unfortunate enough to miss them at Glasslands, can see them at Mercury Lounge February 9th. So make sure you do that if you want to have your socks rocked off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Now Streaming: Hospitality - Hospitality

Yesterday I announced a series of Hospitality news like their debut video for "Friends of Friends" that premiered on Stereogum, and their upcoming radio performances on WNYC and WFMU, and the release of their self-titled debut next Tuesday. Well today, Hospitality has made their album available for streaming on Spotify. The debut features some updates of tracks off their 2008 self-titled EP like "Betty Wang", "Liberal Arts" and "Argonauts" transforming them from lo-fi folk pop into fully realized pop rock gems bundled together with some brand new tracks.

If you have Spotify, you can stream the new album here.

So if you've been eagerly awaiting the album like me, enjoy.

Dry the River - "The Chambers & The Valves"

There a few things that the Brits seemed to do well better than most: period dramas and folk music. Dry the River's latest single "The Chambers & The Valves" certainly proves the latter. With the release of their debut album about a month and a half away, Dry the River are making a strong case for purchasing it. There's still that rather anthemic sound displayed in "No Rest" but with a bit more mirth which makes it more accessible to the average listener. But it's not just some halfhearted attempt at commercial success - there's the skillful songwriting and overt infectiousness best showed in "No Ceremony" while not just feeling like a tired repeat. You know, the kind of thing every good songwriter tries their best to do. It's such a strong track that it's no wonder they made it a single.

Listen to "The Chambers & The Valves":
 Dry the River - "The Chambers & The Valves" by Dry the River

Dry the River's debut album Shallow Bed is out March 5th in the UK and "The Chambers & The Valves" 7" is due out February 27th with b-side "Hammer".

Watch: Laura Marling - "I Was Just A Card"

I love Laura Marling and I love choreographed dance. So imagine my excitement when I realized Marling's new video for "I Was Just A Card" featured both. It's not your standard choreographed dance either, it's modern ballet that ranges on the acrobatic at time. It's intense. As any video for one of  Laura Marling songs probably should be.

(via Listen Before You Buy)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sea of Bees - "Broke"

Well this certainly was unexpected. At least for me. I more or less forgot that Sea of Bees debut album Songs for Ravens came out almost two years ago so the news that her follow up Orangefarben would be coming out in April, I was a bit taken aback. Our first taste of the new album "Broke" is summery and bright, rather unlike the complex, introspective layerings of the previous album. A refreshing treat for a cold winter day like today.

Sea of Bees' Orangefarben is out April 9th in the EU on Heavenly Records and May 1st in the US on Team Love Records.

Hospitality - "Eighth Avenue"

Well, Hospitality are certainly having a busy week which might very just be warm up for next week's album release goodness. In addition to releasing their debut video for "Friends of Friends", one of my favorite tracks, which up until now I've only been able to hear live (and through live videos on Youtube), "Eighth Avenue" is NPR's  Song of the Day" today.  It's a sunny little number which benefits greatly from Amber Papini's delicate drawl as she sings about boredom in a city that never sleeps. There's all sorts of little touches that make the track a bit more enjoyable than the live version - Brian Betancourt's falsetto (which happens live but is just nice to hear again), little flit and fluttery guitar licks that I didn't know were possible, and the juxtaposition of coarse, angular sounds alongside Hospitality's easy-breezy pop arrangement. An absolutely stellar addition to what's becoming more obviously a great debut from Hospitality.

You can listen to Hospitality's awesome "Eighth Avenue" at NPR here.

If that weren't enough, they also playing live on WMFU on Wednesday at 6pm EST and WNYC Soundcheck on Friday at 2pm EST. And they have a recently released Daytrotter session. A busy week indeed.

Watch: Hospitality - "Friends of Friends"

With the release of Hospitality's debut self-titled album little more than a week away, they decided to drop a gem of a video for one of their first preview tracks "Friends of Friends", which they released when they first signed to Merge Records. If the song wasn't awesome enough, the Scott Jacobson directed video, kind of clinches it. Hospitality have far more pull than I would've ever thought possible: Alia Shawkat (most known for her role as Maebe in Arrested Developed) stars in the video. She plays a dumped girl with a douchebag long-distance boyfriend who has some much needed girl time to get over the aforementioned douchebag boyfriend. It's like the plot of a rom-com only, not pointlessly drawn out to 110 minutes.

Watch the video for Hospitality's "Friends of Friends":

Hospitality - "Friends Of Friends" from stereogum on Vimeo.

(via Stereogum)

Andrew Bird - "Eyeoneye"

After it's announcement several months ago, Andrew Bird has played it cool and withheld any hints at what new album Break It Yourself might sound like. Leading many to speculate what we could expect, I thought Bird might be going a more acoustic route due to the stripped down nature of his album teasers. Wrong. With "Eyeoneye", Bird reveals that Break It Yourself will contain more of the same and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Bird has obviously hit his songwriting stride and no longer needs to experimental all that wildly to entertain listeners (not that he did much of that to begin with). The new track features everything I've come to love of Bird: his fancy wordplay, his trademark vogue whistling, subtle shifts in mood, and masterful arranging. Makes the wait for the new album that much harder but no doubt worth it.

 Eyeoneye by Andrew Bird

Break It Yourself is out on March 6th.

Yellow Ostrich - "Marathon Runner"

Hot on the heels of Yellow Ostrich's announcement of new album Strange Land, we're gifted with our first taste of their updated sound. Since The Mistress, Alex Schaaf has added a bunch of talented instrumentalists to his lineup and Strange Land will be our first taste at them composing songs as a band rather than just filling out Schaaf's bedroom-y loops. When new track "Marathon Runner" begins, you're almost fooled into thinking it's a song off The Mistress with its layered loops of Schaaf's voice remiscient of "Libraries" before exploding into a high energy rock jaunt. If this is what we can expect of the new album, it might go down as one of the best albums of 2012. Whether that's true, we won't know until March but "Marathon Runner" certainly makes the wait bearable.

   Marathon Runner by Yellow Ostrich

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Watch: Nat Baldwin - "Weights"

Earlier this week, Nat Baldwin's "Weights" off his reently released album People Changes, got a video. Directed by Willy Berliner, the video follows a horse selling all the belongings of Baldwin, whom he believes to be deceased.  As customers buy Baldwin's possession, the horse has flashbacks to their friendship together before Baldwin disappeared. The video is cute, weird, and a kind of unexpected considering the heavy nature of the song.  But it works and it's fun to watch.

Kishi Bashi - "It All Began With A Burst"

It's official. After the funding of the production of his debut album through Kickstarter, Kishi Bashi's album is coming to life. Not that it wasn't before. Backers were treated to the mixed version of "I am the Antichrist to You" but that was only a sneak peek. Today sees the premiere of Kishi Bashi's first single off 151a, "It All Began With A Burst". A fizzy sunny tune filled with hand claps filter throughout alongside swooping melodies and Ishibashi's Japanese vocalizations. It's fun and introduces us to the less violin-centric Kishi Bashi, the multi-instrumentalist he's lauded as being.

And if that wasn't enough, today it was officially announced that Kishi Bashi has been signed to Joyful Noise Recordings, most notable for the release of the Of Montreal cassette box set. Considering that Ishibashi's an Of Montreal member, it makes perfect sense. So now 151a finally has a home and a release date. We can expect the album April 10th amid a full season of touring.

(via Spin)

Shearwater is releasing an album

I have no idea why but Shearwater was one of those bands I completely neglected. Well actually I know why. Because the release of sixth studio album Golden Archipelago in 2010, I was completely unaware of their existence and I completely forgot to buy Golden Archipelago after listening to some samples. I still have the note I wrote to myself telling me to buy the album because it was obviously awesome. Bad form, me. Bad form.

Until today I was completely unaware that the band were gearing up for the release of their seventh album, Animal Joy. That is until Todd Goldstein of ARMS tweeted how much he was looking forward to the new album with a link to the first single, "Breaking The Yearlings". Considering I've made the completely horrible mistake of not listening to nearly enough Shearwater, I instantly pounced on the new track. I'm not entirely familiar with Shearwater's signature sound (since I've listened to exactly one album by them - see above) but the new track seems a bit grittier than Golden Archipelago and more rock-centered. Even "You As You Were" with it's down tempo piano intro picks up speed and gains a  bit of rock edge. And makes me want the new album. So consider this a note to myself and you: Listen to these new Shearwater songs and buy Animal Joy. You won't regret it.

Animal Joy is out February 14th on Sub Pop.

 Shearwater - Breaking The Yearlings by subpop

 Shearwater - You As You Were by subpop

Pitstop: Azealia Banks

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For me, writing about anything vaguely resembling hip-hop is as common as a Haley's Comet sighting but every once in awhile I hear something so undeniably good that I feel like I have to spread it despite my normal hip hop ambivalence. May I present Miss Azealia Banks.

Azealia Banks might very be the most unlikely of hip-hop sirens - a musical theatre actress, it took a bout of depression and a metaphorical trip to rock bottom to push her into rapping and singing and now she does it with an almost overwhelming intensity. When I first heard her song "212", it wasn't until the middle eight when I was really hooked; when you really got a load of her impressive pipes. And yet that's a staple of R&B: girls with impressive vocal chops. What sets Azealia Banks apart from the scores of young ladies making their rounds in the more mainstream circles? Well, Banks' songs are deeply rooted in reality. There's no hyping oneself up that's common in rap songs - talking about how great you are or how rich or hard you are. No, Azealia Banks tackles some more realistic topics - namely sex. Like the "212"'s rapid-fire delivery of the most non-PG materials you might ever encounter. It could be shocking, if it wasn't so charming. She's been compared to Nicki Minaj, mostly due to her affinity to both rap and sing, but really Banks' mouth is much more reminiscent of female rappers like Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. But as much as you try to compare Banks she's undoubtedly unique not solely defined by her foul mouth lyrics or her sparse beats but with an impossibly affable charm. Surprisingly considering her strong-willed nature is at the forefront of her lyrics which occasionally come off more as demands, threats, and provocations. And yet that's what keeps me coming back for me - despite an intimidating amount of presence for a 20 year old, her songs are fun in addition to being good.

Her follow ups to "212" show that Banks' discovery is no fluke, she's ready to keep putting out great tracks that leave you wanting more. And with Banks currently in London readying her debut record, it certainly won't be long. Especially if your lucky enough to be European - she's got a slew of tour dates lined up. So until the debut drops, I'm just going to keep repeating tracks like "Liquorice" and "NeedSumLuv" until my ears fall off.

   NEEDSUMLUV (SXLND) by Azealia Banks

 212 ft. Lazy Jay by Azealia Banks 

 LIQUORICE by Azealia Banks

(via Listen Before You Buy)

Daniel Rossen - "Saint Nothing"

I got into Department of Eagles right before they announced their indefinite hiatus and Daniel Rossen dedicated the majority of his time and songwriter prowess to the folk of Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear is all well and good but I've always enjoyed Department of Eagles a little bit more than Grizzly Bear. So of course the news of Daniel Rossen releasing a solo album is like blogger/fan Christmas. And probably the closest we'll get to anything resembling any Department of Eagles news for awhile (despite Fred Nicolaus playing a random solo show in Brooklyn last year). Color me excited. Rossen solo outing, titled Silent Hour/Golden Mile, is bound to be some of the most mesmerizingly gorgeous batch of tunes. How do I know this? "Saint Nothing". It's pristine, almost endlessly sprawling, and jampacked with sorrowful refrains. Utterly transcending Rossen's previous work in Department of Eagles and Grizzly Bear. And so begins the long wait until March 20th, when Rossen's 5-song debut drops and utterly changes everything. Or at the very least, gets an insane amount of play.

Phil Cook & His Feat - "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms"

Last year, Megafaun's Phil Cook made his solo debut under the moniker Phil Cook and His Feat with instrumental album Hungry Mother Blues and despite Megafaun's busy touring schedule in support of their self-titled fourth album, he's somehow had time to cut a spectacular cover of a traditional hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" for a split digital 7" with Skylar Gudasz. Unlike Phil Cook's previous release though, his cover is packed to the brim with swelling spirited vocals alongside some rather jazzy piano and banjo.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lower Dens - "Brains"

Just as I was wondering if Baltimore rock foursome Lower Dens would have a release this year, they posted "Brains", the first single off sophomore record Nootropics. If "Brains" is anything to go off of, their new record is going to be much warmer than Twin-Hand Movement. Still the jangly fuzz we've come to expect and love with a bit of bright poppiness.

 Lower Dens - Brains by Ribbon Music

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pitstop: Peter Broderick

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My discovery of Portand musician Peter Broderick might very well be one of the most roundabout ways I've discovered an artist. Yesterday when I saw Sharon Van Etten's i-D session, I was curious about the other girl featured in her video doing harmonies. A cursory search of the internet revealed her as Heather Woods Broderick, a talented singer/songwriter in her own right and reading a bit about her led to the revelation that she had been member of Horse Feathers and a touring member of Efterklang alongside her brother Peter.

What essentially intrigued me about Peter Broderick is that instead of having a standard bio on his website he has an email address where you can send him questions, in return for asking him question he answers them via improvised song. That was actually my first introduction to his music. In addition to his inventive bio, the man has a discography that's a bit intimidating. As said before he was one of the initial members of Portland folk pop group Horse Feathers as well as a touring member of Denmark's Efterklang, that and he's apparently a talented multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger. His back catalog is full of score work as well as appearances on albums by M. Ward, She & Him, Laura Gibson, Blitzen Trapper, and Yann Tiersen to name just an impressive few. But Broderick's also got a solo career to envy. Broderick has instrumental albums galore and has about two proper full lengths with possibly another one of the way.

Peter Broderick's music is the kind that you can totally lose yourself in. It's hypnotically quiet and strangely simple without being reductive. This is the constant between 2008's Home, 2010's How They Are and Broderick's solely instrumental works. Broderick, even during his vocal-focused endeavors, gives the instrumentals their proper due; with one minute long intros before the first lyrics are even uttered not out of the norm ("Human Eyeballs on Toast" and "Guilt's Tune" being the most notable examples).

Peter Broderick is currently based in Berlin working on more music so hopefully there's more to come from him soon. Until then, get a taste of Broderick with "Not at Home" off Home,  "Part 2: Understanding" from Music for Congregation, a movement from a ballet Broderick scored, and "Pulling the Rain" a solo piano track off How They Are.  

 Not At Home by _type

 Peter Broderick – Part 2: Understanding by erasedtapes

 Peter Broderick - Pulling the Rain by DmitryDetective

Lands & Peoples - "Hums"

Last week, Baltimore duo Lands & Peoples premiered their first new track of the year on the inaugural Portals Mixtape.The new track, titled "Hums", is murkier than your standard Lands & Peoples track; covering up the band's already hard to distinguish elaborate song construction with an added layer of opaque concealment. Which only helps to heighten the level of satisfaction as you watch them slowly assemble the tune from scratch during their live show. All in all, not a bad new track from Lands & Peoples.

 LANDS & PEOPLES - HUMS by moorecaleb

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Milagres perform live acoustic set in Paris

Milagres are currently winding down on their European tour with Cymbals Eat Guitars which means they're sharing gems from their time abroad. One such gem happened when they visited Le HibOO in Paris. They played stripped down acoustic versions of two of my favorite tracks: "Here to Stay" to "Lost in the Dark".

Saturday, January 14, 2012

All Around Sound's Most Anticipated of 2012 Playlist (So Far)

2012 began with a number of bands having already promised this would be the year they release follow ups or even debut full lengths in some cases. Since it's only the first month of 2012, a lot of things have yet to be announced but from what has been, it's shaping to be a pretty great year (I mean new Bowerbirds!) for music. Here's a playlist of some of the releases I'm most excited for in order of release date (where possible).

1) First Aid Kit - "The Lion's Roar" 
It's hard to imagine that the Swedish sisters released their debut album almost two years ago but this month they're releasing a follow up that's looking like it might just blow their debut out of the water. The sisters are older and wiser and seem to just be growing in talent. First Aid Kit's sophomore album The Lion's Roar is due out January 24th. 

2) Hospitality - "Friends of Friends"
This year sees the release of Hospitality's self-titled debut album, their first for new label Merge Records, the follow up to a low-fi folk poppy EP released in 2008 and it's about time. While I've grown to love the tunes of the EP, Hospitality's new sound is a step in the right direction. I've only heard several of the new songs live so I can only imagine how much better they'll be recorded with all the tools they had at their disposal. Hospitality is actually one of my most anticipated album's off the year, if only for the bewilderingly catchy "All Day Today". Hospitality is out January 31st on Merge. Get it, seriously.

3) Sharon Van Etten - "Serpents"
I may have only heard Sharon Van Etten's lead single "Serpents" a couple days ago but that was enough to make me thoroughly intrigued by Sharon Van Etten's new album. Her first on Jagjaguwar, she's in good company alongside the increasingly popular Bon Iver. Hearing new track "Leonard" today also made it practically impossible for Tramp not to be on this list. Sharon Van Etten's Tramp is out February 7th.

4) Fanfarlo - "Deconstruction"
When Fanfarlo first released new track/video "Replicate" back in September, I just about wet myself. The release was completely unheralded following a year-long radio silence which the band spent reacquainting themselves with real life after a year of straight touring and also writing and recording the new tunes. The year long self-imposed exile has certainly done some good. "Deconstruction" is the perfect blending of old and new and the bands claims of a more pop-oriented sound are not unfounded. And while the band could get together and release an album of nursery rhymes and I would still buy it, it helps that the new music is so downright good. Fanfarlo's sophomore album Room Filled With Lights is due out February 28th. 

5) Plants & Animals - "Lightshow"
I've only heard this single track from Plants & Animals upcoming album and yet that was enough. It burrowed into my brain and stayed there for days exacerbated by my constant repeating of the track. I've lost count with how many times I've played it but it still hasn't lost any of it's edge. And so based off this track alone and a good deal of good faith, I'm much looking forward to Plants & Animals new album. Whether that'll change when they release the next track remains to be seen but I doubt it. I mean if you can write a song as good as "Lightshow", they should all be similarly awesome, right? Right. The End of All That is due out February 28th.

6) Dry the River - "No Rest"
If there is one thing the Brits seem to know how to do and do well, it's folk. Britain's Dry the River are one of the multitude of bands that are cranking out sincere, well-written, and masterfully performed. I mean the only kicker is that their releases are region so those unfortunate enough to not be natives have to wait a bit before we're allowed to get our hands on their stuff. Like their Weights & Measures EP which they released mid-year in Britain and is only now available in the states. But it's music that well worth the wait. In more way than one. 2012 will see the release of Dry the River's debut album, an album that's bound to be epically enjoyable. Dry the River's Shallow Bed is slated for a March 5th release in the UK but there's no word yet on when the rest of the world will be able to enjoy. 

7) Andrew Bird - "Nyatiti"
You know, when Andrew Bird did his massive auditorium/concert hall tour last year I should've known to expect an album and yet the news of his upcoming surprised and delighted me. Not too much has been revealed about it besides the name, release date, album art and a tracklist but if anything can be gleaned from the 30 second album trailer, the new album might be heavily acoustic. Or as acoustic as you can be when you rely on a loop pedal. Since there's no single released yet, I thought I'd include one of my favorite tracks off of 2010's Useless Creatures. Break It Yourself will be released March 6th.

8) Bowerbirds - "Tuck the Darkness In"
If nothing else was released this year but the new Bowerbirds album, I would still be a happy man. Especially considering their last release was way back when in 2009. And while that's not a necessarily long time in music, it is when you see them live and they promise to return again soon with a brand new album and preview two new amazing songs. I fully intend to ravenously consume Bowerbirds third album like a starving wolf. And if our first peek at the new album is any indicator, the pastoral folk the band do so well is back after some much missed time away. Bowerbirds third full length album The Clearing is due out on March 6th. 

9) Yellow Ostrich - "WHALE"
Considering last year's The Mistress was a re-release, the shock that Yellow Ostrich is so quickly coming out with another album should subside a bit. This year, Yellow Ostrich release their true Barsuk Records debut with Strange Land which also marks the band's first album together. Instead of bandleader Alex Schaaf's solo looping project, the band flush out their sound based off of Schaaf's demos. Sounds good. And while no one's really heard anything from the album yet, I'm assuming that the band's sophomore record is going to be enjoyable because of how insanely catchy their debut is. That's not something you forget how to do. Since there's no previews available yet, enjoy "WHALE" off The Mistress. Strange Land is due out March 6th on Barsuk Records.

10) Lost in the Trees - "Red"
This year will see the release of North Carolina folk pop orchestra Lost in the Trees' latest album. A tribute to Ari Picker's deceased mother, the group don't appear to be taking any steps back away from their emotionally complex brand of sentimentality infused compositions. Instead the group have spent the year trying their best to capture the memory of Picker's mother filtered through a catchy pop sensibility and an orchestral grandeur. The result is sure to be an affecting work of beauty. Lost in the Trees' third album A Church That Fits Our Needs is out on March 20th on ANTI-.
 Lost In The Trees - Red by antirecords

11) Little Tybee - "Boxcar Fair"
Georgia folk pop outfit Little Tybee might very well have the quickest turnaround of all time. Their upcoming release For Distant Viewing is practically right on the heels of sophomore record Humorous to Bees which came out last April all the while the group put together and soundtracked a puppet show by the name of Boxcar Fair. While such a quick release schedule might worry people, new track "Boxcar Fair" should allay all fear. There's still the conscientious equality of each member in it's arrangements, not to mention the song just being all around good.  Little Tybee's For Distant Viewing's release date isn't exact yet but it can be expected sometime in March. 

12) Kishi Bashi - "Manchester" 
While Andrew Bird's album is definitely cause for excitement, up and coming violinist/loop pedal enthusiast/multi-instrumentalist Kishi Bashi's upcoming debut is definitely something to be excited about if not  worthy of occupying the majority of your interest. Since his debut opening for Sondre Lerche last year, Kishi Bashi's been hard at work prepping the follow up to his Room For Dream EP. The results are astounding. Funded about 120% via Kickstarter, Kishi Bashi's debut is on the right track. Those who helped fund the project got a sneak peek of "I Am the Antichrist to You" in addition to the previews featured in his welcome video and the song was absolutely astounding. But until he releases an album track as a single or otherwise, you can still enjoy "Manchester" from his EP.  Kishi Bashi's debut has a loose release date set for somewhere in the spring with a definite date coming soon so stay tuned. 

13) Conveyor - "Mukraker" 
Brooklyn band Conveyor have a lot to look forward to in 2012. Or rather fans do. Earlier this month, the released the digital single "Mukraker" which is part of their split 7" with other noteworthy Brooklyn band Illuminator. Also pretty sure they're working on a full length. No idea when that is but Conveyor's curious blend of slowly unfurling minimalism with explosive flourishes guarantees that I will be all over it when that day comes. In addition to everything else they release and do. Hopefully that'll be soon but you can't rush progress.

14) Secret Mountains - "Weepy Little Fingers"
Baltimore psychedelic rockers Secret Mountains can utterly swallow you with a single song and news is that they're planning on releasing a full length this year. That's as exciting as it is scary. The follow up to 2010's Rejoice EP, the band have been hard at work recording new tunes. And they just won a trip to record with Converse and record a live session so that's more new tunes and more recordings. Secret Mountains is going to have an intensely busy year and their debut full length might just be the cherry on top. No word yet on when their record is going to drop but news of which can't be that far away. Enjoy "Weepy Little Fingers" which the band released as a single last year. 

15) Of Monster and Men - "Little Talks"
Despite releasing their debut album in their home of Iceland last September, Icelandic folkies Of Monsters and Men are gearing up for a major North American explosion. After tours and the release of their Into the Woods EP, the band are prepping for the stateside release of their debut My Head is An Animal which will feature a different tracklist than the Iceland release. And considering all their updates are coming from the studio, it's only a matter of time before we learn of the upcoming album's release date. One thing is certain though, even if the album's tracklist is 100% different than the Iceland release and the Into the Woods EP, "Little Talks" is bound to be on it. It's the band's greatest songwriting achievement that deserves to be displayed whenever and wherever it can be.

16) Teletextile - "What If I"
Considering the band had their debut release over in Europe last year, expecting an release this year might be a bit of wishful thinking on my part but the band has stated an interest in doing some recording and releasing something this year so I'm going off of that. Besides who knows maybe the band's debut album Glass will get a stateside release sometime this year? I mean, there's 11 months for that to happen. Despite a 2012 release being mostly speculation on my part, the band's becoming pretty active over here so maybe just maybe we'll see something. If not, 2012 should be the year where everyone at least starts paying attention to Teletextile. 

Considering how early in the year it is, more and more album release news should come spilling out. I'm looking forward to being able to expound upon this list and getting to update several of those unconfirmed dates. Until then, I hope you enjoy. 

Wildlife releases new tune for charity.

I've essentially been lying in wait for Canadian rockers Wildlife to do something noteworthy enough to blog about it. Anything really. But they've essentially just been touring and after awhile talking about shows they're doing that I won't be at could get a bit tiresome. So when I read that Wildlife just contributed a brand new track to Sound Effects compilation, I got intensely excited. And then I hear the track and got even more so.

Sound Effects is an all Canadian compilation to benefit War Child Canada, an organization that helps children in war torn countries. Most of the tracks were done by the five young Ryerson University students that formed Impressionable Youth Media and put together Sound Effects. If that wasn't cool enough, Wildlife's track "A Year in the Dark" is a brand spanking new rare gem. It undulates like "Sea Dreamer" but not quite as balls-to-the-wall as the band is know to be. It's a nice change of pace. And also just great to hear anything from Wildlife.

Sound Effects drops January 31st so stay tuned on more info on that. Until it releases and you can (hopefully) get your hands on it, You can stream the album (along with the aforementioned new Wildlife tune here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Watch: Sharon Van Etten - "Leonard" (i-D Session)

Ever since my accidental viewing of Sharon Van Etten's "Serpents" performance, I've been devouring any news about her pretty much instantaneously. So when Listen Before You Buy posted this video featuring brand new song "Leonard", it was pretty much certain I would be talking about it. And why not? "Leonard" is a perfect example of what Sharon Van Etten's know for: gorgeous soaring melodies that cut straight to the heart. It's not as intense as "Serpents" but could you imagine if every song on her upcoming album had that level of intensity?

Enjoy the endlessly beautiful "Leonard":

(via Listen Before You Buy)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Princeton - "Remembrance of Things to Come"

It was a couple months ago when Princeton first announced the completion of their sophomore album Remembrance of Things to Come. Today, we actually get to listen to something from it (that's not the tragically short preview). The title track might very well be one of the greatest pairings of arranging and beat-making I've heard in awhile. Other than that, it kind of sounds like a rehashing of "To the Alps" which isn't a completely bad thing. I have no idea the direction, the foursome are going with the album but with arrangements like this they've got a good thing going. "Remembrance of Things to Come" isn't as in your face catchy as the singles we've been treated to this past year but maybe that's a good thing?

Princeton Remembrance of Things to Come by proxartgia

Watch: First Aid Kit - "Emmylou"

In two weeks, Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit's sophomore record The Lion's Roar comes out and if the little we've been treated to from it hasn't been enough to fuel the anticipation, today the duo released a brand new video for a song called "Emmylou". The song pays homage to some of the songwriting greats that have come before them in a remarkably subtle way of slipping their names into the lyrics and while it's not the first time the duo have made their love for their predecessors known, it might very well be their best to date.

Enjoy the video for "Emmylou":

Lost in the Trees - "Red"

Ever since discovering North Carolina orchestral pop group Lost in the Trees last year via their amazing NPR Tiny Desk concert, I've essentially been looking forward to the release of their brand new album they've been constantly alluding to. Much like 2010's All Alone in An Empty House was inspired by songwriter Ari Picker's, troubled childhood, the new album A Church That Fits Our Needs finds a similar source of seemingly dark inspiration. The new album is Picker's tribute to his late mother who took her own life back in 2009. If the first single devastatingly beautiful "Red" is anything to go of, A Church That Fits Our Needs will be as equally resonant, if not more. The track features the lush orchestration and rich melodies the band is known for with Emma Nadeau's wordless vocalise providing a veritable cascade of emotion.

A Church That Fits Our Needs is out March 20th.

Watch: Nerves Junior - "Swimmer's Ear"

Today Louisville, Kentucky rock outfit Nerves Junior released their second video off debut album As Bright As  Your Night Light for "Swimmer's Ear". The video, directed by Zach of We Listen For You, is just plain awesome. Why? Well for starters it's kind of like a little 4 minute microfilm. It opens with a man (singer/guitarist Cory) waking up in a parking lot with a bandaged hand and spitting out a key with no idea how he got there. He does a bit of Jason Bourne-esque walking around and discovers the bandage on his hand conceals a power switch that makes things get weird and often deadly. The whole video is essentially this demented pseudo-detective story where the man's trying to figure out what's going on and things becoming more and more strange. I won't ruin the ending, because it's freaking amazing but this video is absolutely brilliant. So big ups to Zach at We Listen For You for directing such an awesome video. Don't believe me? Watch it now and be amazed. Seriously.

Watch: Real Estate - "Easy"

It usually doesn't get much better than dogs but in a completely unexpected move, Real Estate have one-upped their adorably awesome video for "It's Real", with a humorous new video for "Easy" released on Funny or Die. The video, directed by Tom Sharpling, shows a group of zealous street teamers that go through incredible lengths to get people to share their love of Real Estate and get the band's name out there. My favorite is when they grab a random guy on the street and force him to listen to Days via clunky headphones but there's a lot of good ones. Also, there's this delightful spiral where a radio host won't play Real Estate and thus ends up getting himself kidnapped and taken into the woods to get disposed of. It sounds pretty dark but the humor is surprisingly light and there's a nice little twist at the end.

Check out the video for Real Estate's "Easy":

(Via Under the Radar)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Watch: Fanfarlo - "Shiny Things"

With the release date of their sophomore album Rooms Filled With Light inching closer and closer, British chamber pop quintet Fanfarlo are giving us another peak at what to expect in the form of new song/video "Shiny Things".  The group continue their quest for a more pop-centric sound which led them to a sort of updated take on 80's synth-pop. It's driving. The video takes place in (I'm assuming the high competitive) world of rhythmic gymnastics with three girls with their girls performing for a group of judges before the video takes a weird twist. One of the girls collapses, becoming a gold statue, and two of the judges appear to be trying to help but are actually bringing her to this basement goldsmithy where they take parts of her and turn them into jewelry. It's crazy but handled in that crazy, Fanfarlo way that allows for even the most ridiculous scenarios to feel relateable. There's also some sort of highly poignant metaphor, both lyrically and symbolically but I won't ruin the surprise.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Illuminator - "Gulf Hymn"

Remember that Conveyor track I posted about a week ago? Well I forgot to mention that "Mukraker" is to be released as a split single with none other than the ever mind blowing folks of Illuminator. Their contribution to the split is a metamorphic little ditty by the name of "Gulf Hymn". It mixes parts of "You Are Overgrown" (the auto-tune, mostly) with the soulfulness of "The Child The Voice" while also straddling this genre-bending line with an ephemeral spark of something vaguely resembling R&B. By the time you get to the end of "Gulf Hymn", you're not sure exactly how you got there but appreciate the journey.

Sharon Van Etten - "Serpents"

I have a confession to make. For as universally acclaimed as Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten is, I have only heard about two of her songs. No idea why. I actually own Epic. Well all of this is about to change. Last night a bout of curiosity led me to her Late Night on Jimmy Fallon performance.

"Serpents" is way different than what I expected from Van Etten. If only because she's been lauded as some sort of heartbreak maestro. "Serpents" is downright venomous. Amped up and accusatory but not whiny or out of control. I suppose it's the natural progression after singing songs about being in love and heartbroken, but color me impressed - especially with her delivery. "Serpents" has an "over it" air, while containing just the right amount of fiery, bitter resentment. It's a real doozy. And arguably one of my first can't stop listening tracks of the year. Congratulations Sharon Van Etten, you just sold a record sight-unseen.

 Sharon Van Etten - Serpents by All Around Sound Blog

Her latest record Tramp is due out February 7th on Jagjaguwar.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pitstop: Illuminator

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, maybe it was my incessant shower of ARMS love all over my social media sites but one day I got a follow request from Brooklyn band Illuminator. Considering that several member of the band are also a part of ARMS, it's no surprise that I checked them out.

Illuminator's music is quirky, yes but while you might not necessarily understanding everything that's going on that doesn't take away from its enjoyment value. Illuminator fuse psychedelic electronics with a larger than life grandeur. Illuminator's Answer Voice the Child is practically symphonic, with recurring themes and melodies and an elevated instrumental importance. Since three of the songs are composed of the same lyrics ("Hey Crazy (inhale)", "Hey Crazy (cough)", and "Rorschach Mucus Butterfly"), your focus is instead drawn toward the change in tempos, delivery, and arrangement. But Answer Voice the Child also has some catchy upbeat tracks with a inherant poppiness like "You Are Overgrown", and  brass-laden "Hey Crazy (inhale)". There's also more of that compositional prowess in "Message from Land" and "Message from Sea" and how they perfectly tie together. Answer Voice the Child proves that Illuminator isn't your garden variety rock band - they're creative innovators with an unrestrained vision

While complete understanding of Illuminator might very be beyond my reach (and probably tied to the secrets of the universe or something), Illuminator create music that not only is enjoyable but provokes thought and an advanced level of listening - music that grabs you from start to finish and leaves you satisfied but still wanting more. It's not your run of the mill band or record but it's certainly worth the listen.

Check out Illuminator's Answer Voice the Child on Bandcamp:

Teletextile - "I Don't Know How to Act Here" video

I may have only discovered them less than a week ago but Brooklyn foursome Teletextile is shaping up to be one of my favorite new bands. Today, the brand new video for "I Don't Know How to Act Here" came out and it's just amazing. The band trades in oppressive storytelling for a beautifully shot video of the band being themselves performing. It blends the line between mysterious and otherworldly with fun and the pop sensibilities that spice up the group's evocative textural landscapes.

I Don't Know How to Act Here by Teletextile from teletextile on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pitstop: Dry the River

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(Photo by Tom Oldham)

My discovery of British folk quintet Dry the River is due massively in part due to Spotify's feature that lets you know what your friends are listening to. One night I noticed Sam of Middle Class White Noise and Frank of Listen Before You Buy listening to extensive amounts of Dry the River and intrigued I figured I'd give it a listen as well. Turns out I had heard of Dry the River before - they were the openers on The Antlers' European tour late last year and are soon to join one of my all time favorite bands Bowerbirds on their upcoming North American tour. Sold and sold.

Despite their latest single "No Rest" peaking my interest, it wasn't until I heard "No Ceremony" that I knew for sure Dry the River would be a band I would follow to the end of their days. With big rock licks, Dry the River wouldn't be out on place in some of the UK's big stadium venues and yet their arena rock moments are grounded by a folky sincerity and intimate attention to detail all anchored by intricate, infectious melodies and agile wordsmithery. I haven't heard a song by them yet that I didn't like.

Dry the River's debut album Shallow Bed is due out in the UK on March 6th with a US date hopefully soon to follow just in time for their US tour with Bowerbirds. Until then you can listen to their tunes on their Soundcloud

Get a taste of Dry the River with my favorite track "No Ceremony":
 Dry the River - "New Ceremony" by Dry the River

Also check out the music video for "No Rest", the first single off their upcoming album:

Dry The River 'No Rest' from Academy Films on Vimeo.

Of Monsters and Men - Into the Woods EP

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Back in August when I heard "Little Talks", Iceland folk-pop sextet Of Monsters and Men's debut album My Head is an Animal became one of my most anticipated albums. The album was released the month after as a Iceland only release with news of regional releases soon to come.  Well now that Of Monsters and Men are set to make their true US debut, we're getting more news of their upcoming releases starting with their Into the Woods EP which came out last month.

It should be noted that the Into the Woods EP doesn't offer anything new to those who ordered the album - it's several of the album tracks put onto a smaller release. And yet, it's not really meant for those who were devoted enough to have the album shipped from Iceland. Into the Woods is for new or at least unfamiliar ears. An introduction to a band who very well should be a household name. Each song is an outpouring of emotion, brilliant arranged to be more evocative - like sparse ballad "Love Love Love". And yet, each track isn't a slow burning emotion-spewing ballad, there's rousing, shout vocal-laden "Little Talks" and "Six Weeks" and "From Finner" is a delightful mix of the vivacious energy of "Little Talks" and the emotional oomph of "Love Love Love".

Into the Woods is tragically short, there's no getting around that, but it's a great introduction to a band worthy of so much attention. In four songs (and whatever else you can find on the internet), the band is sure to win you over and crave more. Luckily for those wanting more, 2012 will see the US/Canadian release of My Head is An Animal with an all new tracklist and some tours so you can see the sextet at work. Here's hoping that's soon.

Get a taste of Of Monsters and Men with this live video of "Six Weeks":

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pitstop: Waterstrider

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Like the majority of my great finds in 2011, my introduction to Berkeley California sextet Waterstrider happened during a late night Turntable.fm session. The sparse intro of "Midnight Moon" similar to Bibio's "Lovers' Carvings" made me immediately pay attention. Waterstrider's music is composed of an intricately layered foundation and swooping melodies with just the right amount of variation in the form of congas, flutes, and other unexpected instrumentation choices. Waterstrider spice up their standard indie rock with occasional forays into balmy tropical pop stylings and complex, attention-grabbing rhythms that are just the right kind of flashy.

Get a taste of Waterstrider with this live acoustic video of newer track "Tile Mountains":

Also you can listen to more Waterstrider with their recently released 4 song Constellation EP