Friday, June 29, 2012

Wye Oak - "Spiral"

Shhh everybody stop talking. Stop talking about that Lana Del Rey video or the Mumford & Sons tour or anything else really. The big kids are talking. Baltimore duo Wye Oak, creators of perhaps one of the most brilliant albums of the past year Civilian, are releasing a brand new track as part of Adult Swim's 2012 Singles Program. And it's just great. It pulses along with healthy dose of reverb-touched vocals before exploding into a full on jam, the dynamics increase, Andy and Jenn's vocals swirl around each other and echo away in the distance all while there's a pretty grooving bass line. "Spiral" is a track that essentially never lets up. Just when you think you know what to expect it shifts gears slightly until you're left with the minimalistic, percussive marimba instrumental outro and a strong desire to hit play again and again.

"Spiral" is bound to be this year's "Weather Of A Killing Kind" i.e. the best single Adult Swim has in its program and that's none to surprising considering like previous title holder The Tallest Man on Earth, Wye Oak can do no wrong.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Watch: Efterklang - Piramida Album Trailer


After what seems like forever since the official announcement of their upcoming album, Danish indie rock trio Efterklang's Piramida has a release date. Are you ready for this? Brace yourself, take a seat. Efterklang's fourth studio album is out September 25th here in the States on 4AD and a day before pretty much everywhere else. And that's not all: In the exciting move I've been waiting  for, Efterklang are bringing their orchestral tour overseas. There's a handful of European dates but the most exciting news is Efterklang are playing the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Full orchestra. September 22nd. Mark your calendars.

You can read more about the creation of Piramida here as well as grab yourself a pre-order.

Until then, the band have also released the live in Sydney version of "The Ghost" for your listening pleasure so take a listen.

Watch: BELL - "Dialtone"

It's hard to believe it's already been a year since the release of BELL's debut record DIAMONITE but it's certainly has been. Since it's release, Olga Bell parted ways with the rest of her assembled band and decided to go it alone. I saw her live briefly and I know that her new setup involves a nifty key-tar with samples loaded into it.

For the release of her brand new single "Dialtone" off DIAMONITE, BELL's gone a particularly different route. Going full on acoustic  and putting her piano chops to good use. She's also enlisted the help of her singer/songwriter friends Aoife Donovan and Kristin Andreassen for a slower, more melancholic take on the originally upbeat dance-y track.

The single also comes with three remixes as well as the original, which you can grab from BELL's Bandcamp.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pitstop: Basia Bulat


I'm a little ashamed that it took me about 2 years to even mention Canadian singer/songwriter Basia Bulat. I was reintroduced to her Saturday night as she was one of the two splendid openers at Bowerbirds Music Hall of Williamburg show. Before having watched her play a Tiny Desk concert on NPR and before that randomly stumbling upon her at Central Park Summerstage as she opened up for St. Vincent along with tUnE-yArDs. And while I more or less missed her whole set at Summerstage due to getting lost and being unable to find the stage for an embarrassingly length of time, the sounds of her autoharp are ultimately what led me and a friend safely to the show.

While Basia has two albums out at present, Oh, My Darling and Heart of My Own, Basia is probably best experienced live. There you'll witness her skill with a variety of folk instruments; the aforementioned autoharp, hammered dulcimer, guitar, and even a small lute/ukulele-like instrument called the charango. All of these Basia plays with nimble fingers you have to see to believe all the while belting out an utterly captivating array of tunes with an absolutely demolishing amount of vocal power. While Bulat normally plays with a band, this time she went solo and the result were far more impressive I'm sure. More than holding her own as she accompanied herself flawlessly. 

Basia Bulat's live set is transportive, magical, and awe-inspiring as she proves herself a more than competent storyteller, spinning tales which whether real or not carry a deeply emotional resonance. While this feat is also achieved quite masterfully on her albums, it's the unbridled energy unleashed at just the right moments that hit you sorely in the heart and make you weak in the knees.   

Basia Bulat is currently putting the finish touches on her latest full-length record and I for one couldn't be more excited. Whether or not it incorporates more of her live energy, throws in an even more eclectic mix of instruments, or is even just more of the same, it's bound to be a good. And will be more of a reason for her to bring her enchanting live show to a city near you so do yourself a favor an start acquainting yourself now so you don't regret missing out. 

Until then you can listen to her two previous albums Oh, My Darling and Heart of My Own on Spotify.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers - "Home For A Funeral"

Considering how busy frontman Joe Hertler's been this year, I'd pretty much put the thought of any new music from him and his excellent band aside. So it certainly came as a surprise when I read Hertler's interview with My Folking Heart that said the band were right about to begin work on another new album. Talk about a great surprise. And while it may not be on the new album (since Joe has a rather vast selection of songs to choose from for it), Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers have offered up this brand spanking new track "Home For A Funeral".

It's got a special kind of introspection that could very well have found it alongside the other songs on the band's concept album On Being, and yet not and that should make us all excited about LP #2. It's got a slow, deliberate pacing as Joe sets up the narrative being winding up and letting the Rainbow Seekers loose like a pack of hunting dogs infusing the somber track with a whole lot of upbeat rocking moments. The effect elevates the song from a poignant mining of tragedy into a downright celebration of life. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ARMS - "Summer Skills (Bump in the Night Version"


Well hey, it's certainly has been awhile since we've heard from Brooklyn rock pop outfit and keepers of my heart, ARMS. Though they've haven't really gone anywhere (brief month-long hiatus notwithstanding), they've been playing their fair share of shows as well as working on some new ones and they've emerged triumphant with a cool little addition to their set of available tunes. Remember Summer Skills? Sure you do. The group's tragically overlooked sophomore album garnered exceptional praise (from me mostly) and nabbed the coveted spot as my absolute favorite album of 2011. Quite a feat considering the massive amount of dynamite albums that came out last year.

Well their latest single "Summer Skills (Bump in the Night Version)" is a far more upbeat and rocking version of the album's title track. If you seen the band live any time within the last year or so, you've most likely heard it but this is the first time you can get your mitts on the moving, grooving alternate version. And I strongly suggest you do. I mean curators of cool I Guess I'm Floating just premiered the track and they most certainly know what's up. Do it.

(via I Guess I'm Floating)

Watch: Bowerbirds - "Sweet Moment"

After something like two years holed up in their cabin in North Carolina, the Bowerbirds are certainly making  up for their lengthy absence. Straight months of touring behind an absolutely stellar album not to mention music video after music video. We've already gotten three so far pretty much one after each other and it's only been 3 months since their latest album The Clearing dropped. Not that I'm complaining.

The video for "Sweet Moment", directed by Jacob Feiring, is pretty much the perfect encapsulation of the feelings that no doubt inspired the lovely little love song. A couple about to be split up by a move essentially run away together and experience all sorts of feelings of bonding and bliss. That's pretty much the video in a nutshell. And yet the easily definable plot doesn't detract at all from the emotional weight of the video itself. It's all rather sweet. As is guaranteed to move even the most hardened of hearts. It's pretty adorable actually. There's a twist at the end that I won't ruin but suffice to say I almost lost it. Some pretty moving stuff completely expected from the Bowerbirds.

Watch the video for "Sweet Moment":

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

R.L. Jones - "Everybody Wants To Be Your Friend"

It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since the release of The Middle East's debut album I Want That You Are Always Happy and a little less since their subsequent break up. But the good news is that Rohin Jones, one of the 7-piece's main songwriters, is already back to making music. And the break away has apparently done him some good pumping out a sort of garage rock jam full of jangle with a pretty decent pop hook that sounds more than a little 80s. If you were hoping for something exactly like The Middle East, you might be very disappointed. However if you were looking for something completely different and happier sounding than I Want That You Are Always Happy was at times then you certainly are in luck. And the best news is that Jones is well on his way to producing a record with an estimated release date somewhere in early 2013.

Welcome back Rohin, we certainly missed you. Hear Rohin Jones' track, under the moniker R.L. Jones, "Everybody Wants To Be Your Friend":

Watch: Friend Roulette - "Hi, Hello"

Well this is news to me. Sometime after the release of their excellent Hi, Hello EP on beautiful 10" dual-image vinyl, Friend Roulette dropped their debut music video for the EP's (or a double single if you really think about it) eponymous track. And while the places they go to and the sounds they wield are otherworldly and fantastical, the video directed by Duncan Bindbeutel, is anything but. A good old fashioned gathering of friends with a trace amount of Gatsby era decadence as they sip champagne and converse in evening dress, the cocktail party scene unfolds rather normally and pretty much without incident.

But it's more than just stock footage - there's a layer of foggy sheen and smokey glow you see what wouldn't be out of place in Mad Men's bars. Except it's a rather small house party in Brooklyn where the angelic strains of "Hi, Hello" soundtrack their night of merriment. A properly arty debut video from the artsy chamber pop quintet. One you're  sure to watch again and again wishing you had received an invite to Friend Roulette's swanky champagne party. 

Watch Friend Roulette's video for "Hi, Hello" here. 

Friend Roulette's limited edition 10" picture disc vinyl is still available from Goodnight Records so order it here if you haven't already.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pitstop: Town Hall


My discovery of Brooklyn folk trio Town Hall was the dual effort of Sam over at Middle Class White Noise and Eardrums. While I had seen that Sam had wrote about them over on his blog when I saw them over at Eardrums I knew they were serious business.

And it's not hard to see why. Taking a peek at their five song Sticky Notes & Paper Scraps EP they released early this year, there type of songwriting is very fitting of their band name - bringing together a diverse set of characters with rich, intriguing stories. "Mary A. Longden", which might very well be my favorite track for the trio, pairs a sort of supernatural storyline with some very real, though superficial concerns.

"Mary A., Mary A Longden, the only woman who never died", the songs first lines quickly establishes the oddness of the tale before "'cause all the women want to know how she keeps her skin so smooth, what pills does she take, what creams does she use every morning" takes the wonder down to a realistic level. Grounds it in reality. And that's what makes the track - Town Hall pairs the strangeness of the characters with a kind of quirky acceptance of the fact. The tale is a bit tall but by acknowledging that, in the song no less, it shows that they're at least aware of it.

Town Hall make small town murmurs into a songwriting staple, elevating rather small actions into fully realized music moments. That along with the group's obvious instrumental talent and very distinct voices makes them highly worthy of your attention. Their debut full length Roots & Bells adds more to the trio's pre-established character studies. They may not be real but all of their tunes ring with an unmistakable aura of truth. Their writing is sincere, their tunes catchy, their characters well written, their instruments well-played and that's what makes Town Hall a pretty great folk act. So start paying attention because it doesn't look like they're going away anytime soon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jinja Safari - "Toothless Grin"

One of the pitfalls to falling in love with a foreign band is pretty obvious: Their music isn't all the readily available to you. Or at least maybe that's just a problem I have with the foreign bands I fall in love with. Another pitfall is well, you're subject to them doing things at the time it's most convenient for them i.e. when Jinja Safari premiered their new single "Toothless Grin" on Triple J about two weeks or so, it was a completely normal time there but here? Here it was 4:30am. And despite my attempts to stay up that late to hear it, I wimped out and fell asleep and then could find no mention of the premiere even happening. Other than some very happy Australian's giving the new single rave reviews but that was it. No record of it, no radio rip, no proposed release date, nothing.

It made everything seem rather like it had never actually happened or that for the first time no one was paying attention to Australia. And then Jinja Safari posted where you could listen to the track and all was well. I was over my conspiracy theories and just let another one of their bright, unraveling jungle jams envelop me. In "Toothless Grin", Jinja Safari prove rather effectively beyond any shadow of a doubt that they're no one trick ponies - the new tune is far from rehashing their same old concepts while avoiding a drastic change of direction that's simply not necessary. Another enjoyable tune from Jinja Safari with some mighty fantastic bamboo flute action.

Conveyor - "Woolgatherer"

With little less than a month to go until the release of their debut self-titled album to go, it only seems fitting that we'd get another peak of it. After "Mukraker", and "Mane", the gentlemen of Conveyor have decided to start at the very beginning, offer up the first track off the record "Woolgatherer".

In a way that's become oddly fitting, "Woolgatherer is nothing like what you might've heard from the band - at least not outright. Sure it's got those bright sun-kissed melodies that Conveyor have proved adept at since the  release of their Sun Ray EP, those smile-inducing harmonies, and the stamp of distinctive quirk that's rapidly becoming Conveyor's signature but there's something marked different about it this time. Their penchant for experimentation creates an absolutely gorgeous opening with the start-stop cut-copy "Eh's" that form a pretty awesome moment. In each single we've gotten from Conveyor, they've highlighted another strength of the band showing a very obvious growth and "Woolgatherer" is no different. It's positively radiant, multi-layered, complex, and most importantly it's just plain good. Not surprising from the Brooklyn foursome whose rapidly becoming one of my favorite new bands to talk about.

So with their debut album out in a couple weeks it only makes sense that you should grab it. I mean why miss out on what's sure to be one of your favorite releases of the year. You can preorder the gorgeous-looking and incredible sounding album here.  

Also don't miss the chance to see the band absolutely shred at their release show. It's a night you certainly don't want to miss. June 28th at Mercury Lounge. Get your tickets here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pitstop: Port St. Willow


With the amount of coverage they seem to be getting lately you might ask me why I'd even entertaining the notion of covering Brooklyn's Port St. Willow myself and the answer is pretty much obvious: They're that good. Live, recorded, any which way really. While I became aware of them sometime last year through their tour with The Antlers, it's taken me quite a lot of time to act on the namedrop (I wasn't actually at any of those shows) and it was worth it if only because Port St. Willow's most recent Spike Hill live show was one of the most glorious things.

Have you ever been to a concert where no one clapped? It wasn't because they weren't good but rather because you physically couldn't. Port St. Willow enshrouded you in a tapestry of layered sounds and a rush of raw emotion so much so that the only available option was to stare in awe. It was about three or four songs into their set at We Listen For You's Northside Fest showcase when the band took a small break from their spellbinding when the first bout of raucous applause happened.

Port St. Willow is the project of Nick Principe and on this particular night he was joined by Hip Hatchet's drummer Jake Nussbaum and the results were simply too beautiful for words. The technical precision of Nussbaum's percussion with Principe's stratospheric vocals and immersive textural landscape weaving inspired a scene of total and complete emotional devastation. Brought me to actual tears song after song. Which is exactly what Principle is going for - music that shakes you down to your very foundations and awaken  an emotional wellspring. A feat Port St. Willow achieves not by attempting to force it out but by gently coaxing them out in his subtle mastery of your heartstrings.

Port St. Willow's latest album Holiday is out now, you can hear it as well as buy it (which you totally should) on Bandcamp as well as from other digital retailers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

David Byrne & St. Vincent - "Who"

It's really hard to imagine a time when St. Vincent wasn't utterly knocking my socks off but there was indeed a time when that was true. Purely because I hadn't found her yet. And after subduing  string ensembles for Actor and taming newly minted eclectic chamber group yMusic for "Proven Badlands", a extrapolation of Actor's "The Sequel" on yMusic's debut Beautiful Mechanical, Annie Clark has set her sights on the wily brass band on her collaboration with the legendary David Byrne for Love This Giant.

What started a simple collaboration and act of charity for Housing Works has turned into a full-fledged album and I'm sure every fan of good music is currently fan-girl/boy-ing out right now. It's almost a given that the album is going to be a work of art and pop goodness but we don't even have to wait for see. Not entirely anyway. Today, the first peek at the album went live so we can all hear it.

Feast your ears on "Who", an outrageous almost offensively awesome pop jam from the staggeringly brilliant minds of David Byrne and St. Vincent.

David Byrne & St. Vincent's Love This Giant is out September 11th on 4AD/Todo Mundo.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Atlantic - "High Heel Shoes (Bikini Man)"

Well it certainly has been awhile since we've heard from Portland duo hello mtn and while the details of why and what they're working on have pretty much been mum, there has been at least some news to eke out. Matthew Morgan and Cat Odell have joined forces with Seth Mankoski to create a sort of shimmering, easy breezy beach pop under the moniker of An Atlantic.

It's super soft very much like their Morgan and Odell's hello mtn work but goes few of the places the duo go - instead the quiet pop debut "High Hell Shoes (Bikini Man)" rolls along with silky smooth harmonies and the occasional glimmering guitar lick as the track grooves out very much like an old school surf jam without any of the jam, really. And yet that works for it.  A pleasant surprise from the recently unveiled hello mtn side-project An Atlantic.

Hear "High Heel Shoes (Bikini Man)":

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pitstop: Jinja Safari


I apologize in advance for what I'm about to do to you. I mean, someone certainly should warn you that the music of Australia's Jinja Safari is absolutely going to overtake your life. It's a basic courtesy I wish someone had extended to me. And you may be looking at me dubiously and may seek out their music to prove to yourself and maybe me that you won't be reigned in. That was my downfall when Sam at MiddleClassWhiteNoise mentioned how much he loved them and I, unamused and curious, attempted to listen to them just to say I did.

The music of Jinja Safari is surprisingly easy to explain: Jungle pop. Plain and simple. Inspired in part by co-frontman Marcus Azon's African roots but it's what they infuse into it that's what's so addicting about it. Each and every Jinja Safari song radiates with an undeniable and overwhelming excited energy. In "Mermaids", there's a sort of dreamy unraveling before the exhilarating rush of percussion sweeps you in. It's a track that is almost offensive in its catchiness saved by it's deliberate pacing and switches from over-the-top party-rock to quiet mostly narrative-spewing plodding at a moments notice.

But it's a method shared by the vast majority of the band's music that I've had the pleasure to hear, the frenetic euphoric climaxes are just that and are earned rather just placed in front of you unceasingly and that's what makes Jinja Safari a noteworthy band, they balance blatantly fun music with exceptional musicianship. In songs like "Forest Eyes" and "Peter Pan", the songs are brilliant even at their most basic level - containing little ear-catching music moments that compose the unquestionably great whole.

Jinja Safari's aesthetic seems that to be that of pure unadulterated revelry using bright, bursting sounds and turning to any means to do so, mostly in the form of a notable folk influence. But it's the folk music that we rarely think of anymore: the kind reserved for celebrations and rites of passage in places where music isn't treated as a commodity but as a simple and unavoidable way of life. And that's what comes out most in the music of Jinja Safari, a completely unavoidable sense of enjoyment, of joy, and an almost debilitating desire to want to dance. If you listen to Jinja Safari, you do so at your own risk but it's a risk that's certain worth the reward.

Unfortunately if you're not in Australia or New Zealand, their debut double EP Locked By Land is pretty unavailable to you, unless you import it. But hopefully a recent short US tour the band just completed means there's something far more accessible to come. Here's to hoping. Until then you can get your fix via the songs and videos at their website here and Soundcloud.

Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. (2012)


When Fiona Apple announced her return to mainstream performing and subsequent upcoming studio album release, the indie music blogosphere was infused with a rush of excitement. One I will admit I was swept up in myself before I realized I wasn’t really all that familiar with Apple’s works outside of “Criminal” and really had no intention to be. When a live recording of “Anything We Want” from Fiona Apple’s SXSW visit, I was intrigued but not impressed and as more and more people seemed to indicate that I should be anticipating Apple’s first album after 7 years, I found myself disenchanted more and more by the idea of it.  Enter Dave at Rawkblog who convinced me to actually listen to When The Pawn… to get an idea of Apple’s style and hopefully understand new single “Werewolf”, where Apple rattled out metaphor after metaphor, better. A feat that actually worked while also making me realize I had heard far more of Apple than I thought I did.

Album opener “Every Single Night” is exactly when I realized I was indeed hooked, as Fiona puts her knack for poetic lyricism at the absolute forefront along barebones accompaniment. It’s also a surprisingly perfect introduction to Apple as a songwriter for the uninitiated and/or unfamiliar – even virtually acapella there’s still hints of the jazzy lilt Fiona imbues in her music and her bold fearlessness as she suddenly swells to slightly subdued shouts before floating down light as a feather. 

“Daredevil” expounds on this, Fiona’s musical equivalent of a high wire act plodding along daringly slowly adding sultry temptation, an air of danger, and slightly more in terms of instrumentation – it’s the first true instance of Fiona’s steely-eyed flippant disregard for pretty singing as she howls and yelps and twists her voice with little regard for judgment but instead of emotional release.  

There’s also Apple’s clever little phrases that don’t draw much attention to themselves as Fiona coos “I don’t cry when I’m sad anymore” while double bass strokes envelope her and she in turn turns to tuneful shrieks in “Left Alone” or “All that love must’ve been lacking something if I got bored trying to figure you out” in the piano pop romp of the occasionally humorous “Periphery”.  

While each song works in its own individual way towards the inevitable tension release, The Idler Wheel... is not without obvious highlights – “Jonathan” with its peril-invoking piano lines and foreboding percussion Apple expunges yet another one of her demons in the form of her ex; and exceptional album closer “Hot Knife” as Fiona turns a nursery rhyme-esque simple lyric into a contrapuntal masterpiece – layering vocals on top of vocals turning her and her sister Maude’s vocals into a full on round with an remarkable pop twist punctuating her slightly veiled sex reference  with primal percussion ensuring that you’ll be humming it for days after.   

The Idler Wheel… is the kind of album you treasure once you get the full scope of it, an album sure to be as cathartic for the listener as it no doubt was for Fiona to write and create. It’s an album of unflattering self-awareness that deals with those swarms of negative emotions we rarely champion; breakups are the standard but on The Idler Wheel..., Fiona outlines her own neuroses and flaws and in turn helps you feel a bit more comfortable with your own. Apple’s lyricism seems almost overwhelming in its deluge of thoughts and ideas but the truly important points stand there like buoys in the ocean of Apple’s stream of consciousness writing-style.   

Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel... is currently available for streaming as part of NPR's First Listen before it's June 19th shelf-date. Listen here

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hands - Massive Context EP (2012)


It was a case of continuous mistaken identity that brought Los Angeles band Hands to my attention. Jess over at exfm would ask me if was going to see Hands every time I would see her and was usually enroute to an ARMS show. Followed by Jess realizing her error and noting that another one of her friends over at Small Plates Records was really into them. After so many times of that happening it only made clear and logical sense to check them out.

Hands are a foursome from Los Angeles - not any of the other bands with an apparent claim to the name abroad. Their most recent EP, Massive Context, was released on Small Plates Records and simply put: it's a thing of beauty. Short but by no means stunted, Massive Context is a thoroughly engaging set of 6 songs that blossom and flourish with intricate instrumentals, catchy, memorable melodies, and Geoffrey Halliday's pleasant, skyward-reaching tenor. Though not rapid-fire paced, Hands plays with an undeniably vivacious energy as they weave immersive sonic tapestries with a forward-moving pop slant. All the while their tunes take a much appreciated time to establish themselves, they never rush out of the gate to capture your attention, instead they plod away at their own pace building intensity and explosive potential which often realizes itself through Halliday's expressive vocals.

The result is an absolute triumph of an EP, Massive Context is a record that can stand the test of nearly endless repeated play - each listen revealing some new piece of Hands' puzzled compositional stitchwork and inextinguishable talent and charm. A record you can't merely put on and forget about but catches your total attention and focus.

You can order Hands' Massive Context EP on CD and vinyl over at Small Plates Records, as well as purchase digitally from Amazon or iTunes. The album's also available for streaming on Soundcloud and Spotify.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Watch: Efterklang - "The Ghost" with Sydney Symphony

After Danish indie rockers Efterklang announced the completion of their upcoming fourth studio album Piramida, I've essentially been watching their every move with laser precision. A fact made all the more painful by the fact that the Danes seemed totally content not actually sharing any tunes from it; instead announcing a slew of dates where Efterklang would be teaming up with symphony orchestras to perform the album in full. All of which were not at all here in the US where I'd be guaranteed to be in the audience. Instead Sydney was the first date and updates from their attempts to properly notate all the music for the orchestra and rehearsals streamed in periodically enough to make my heart ache. And somehow, someway I completely missed the band posting up a live video from their recent Sydney performance of new track and probable lead single "The Ghost". I call shenanigans.

So while the group prepares for a slew of other dates with orchestras far and wide (and not here where I want to see them) for their lucky lucky fans in Europe and abroad at least we can enjoy this brand new track off Piramida. While not in its studio-recording form, it's a good track nonetheless. Enjoy it. I know I am.

Also, good news: Piramida will out sometime in September on 4AD.

Pitstop: Levek


Well this is totally embarrassing. Several months ago I saw Levek in concert and apparently forgot about how good they were. Which is really just tragic. The concert in question was Illuminator and Conveyor's 7" release show which they played also played with Hundred Waters.

The brainchild of Florida native David Levesque, Levek's ties with Hundred Waters aren't just coincidence; in addition to both being from the sunshine state, several of the members of Hundred Waters were part of Levek's backing band and similar to Hundred Waters, Levek makes music in a genre all his own. The simplest way to explain being: A sort of blissed out tropical-infused occasionally beach-invoking pop. A even that only applies sometimes. Plus there's something super endearing about the fact that when I met David post show, he assured me that what I just witnessed was completely different from any of the music he had out. While that might be a bit disappointing to some, there's something incredible about experiencing something that so few have - while anyone can download his demos at any time, you have to actually make the effort to get the full picture and in that regard I felt rather privileged.

Unfortunately I had forgotten about the man and his mad musical experiments until this week when it was announced that Levek would be releasing his debut album. Whether this will be an effort to distill his magical live set into an actual record or if it will just be more of his markedly different bedroom recordings remains to be seen. But I'm certainly excited for it. You can get a little sample from the upcoming album Look A Little Closer with first single "Black Mold Grow":

(via Beats Per Minute)

Levek's debut record Look A Little Closer with be out September 25th on Lefse Records.

Get yourself properly keyed up for the debut with Levek's demo:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pistop: Mandolin Orange


I may have only seen them live twice but one of the things I've come to except from a Bowerbirds concert is a talented opener. Enter  North Carolina duo Mandolin Orange the night's more unexpectedly pleasant surprise. I arrived at the Bowerbirds most recent New York stop expecting solely one opener in the form of Dry the River whose music I had already been exposed to and knew I liked so you can imagine my surprise when Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz took to the stage with guitar, fiddle, and friend Josh Oliver in tow.

What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable set of folksy, rootsy Americana - the band's self-described country pop. The kind that's welcome even to those like me who prefer to stay as far away from country music as feasibly possible. It's hard to say what exactly sets Mandolin Orange apart for the tons of other folk acts gunning for you attention, perhaps it's that they aren't. The duo have a rather laidback style of songwriting that still manages to highlight their remarkable talents, heart-stirring lyricism, and intoxicating harmonies. There's also the fact that the vast majority of instruments you'll hear from them on their records or see at their live set are played by the twosome themselves (there's guests enlisted to fill out the rest).

Mandolin Orange play a sort of updated Appalachian-infused folk that really doesn't get nearly enough play. Which is sort of a shame. The duo are as equally at home playing traditional folk tunes as they are playing their own traditional-leaning originals and the young band already have two albums under their belt 2010's Quiet Little Room and a double album Haste Make/Hard-Hearted Stranger released late last year. And Mandolin Orange show no signs of stopping any time soon; a fact I certainly couldn't be more pleased with that as the duo's darkly themed but never depressing brand of accessible country pop hits all the right spots.

You can listen to their most recent album over on Spotify as well as check out their upcoming tour dates on their Website here.

Watch: Parlovr - "Holding On To Something"

Yesterday, Montreal indie-pop trio Parlovr premiered their spanking new video for their latest album Kook Soul's best track "Holding On To Something" over at Noisey. And it's kind of just what you'd expect from the quirky threesome. Well, in so far in that the video is weird and fun and has very little if nothing at all to do with songs lyrics or anything like that. The plot of the video is essentially that of a movie told not at its actual start but not wholly in reverse either. The movie sort of takes cues from silent movie era films in that there are panels between acts that tell you the story as its about to unfold.

After a very audible "Action!" that signals the video's start, the screen pans from a piano playing Alex to a confused looking Jeremy and Louis mouths the words to "Holding On To Something", all appears as normal as you're going to get with the trio before things spiral out of control and quasi-hilarity ensues. Jeremy develops a random ailment, Alex attempts to help, and Louis just sings. There's also a pretty nonsensical scene of Alex's hair blowing in the wind as he caresses an iguana.  And everything happens in slow motion. And that's pretty much all you get.

Watch Parlovr's video for "Holding On To Something":

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Watch: Bowerbirds - "Overcome with Light"

Considering their absolute admiration and appreciation of nature, I'm surprised it's taken this long for us to get a video like this from the Bowerbirds. The Lawrence Martinez directed video is the simplest video in all of their rather short output - a series of beautiful nature images accompanied by the Bowerbirds' pastoral hymn "Overcome with Light". Simple and yet no less poignant. There's more than meets the eye as some images aren't what they appear, at least not outright. There's little symbols and sigils and other signs hinting to the otherworldly but it all fits in a way that acknowledges the mysterious allure of nature without pushing it toward a strange, supernatural direction. A real work of beauty. Bowerbirds, don't ever leave us again.

Watch the video for "Overcome with Light":

(via Stereogum)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Daughn Gibson - "Lite Me Up"/"Mark of a Man"

Remember Daughn Gibson? The Pennsylvania native released his debut album All Hell but a few short months ago and promptly took his brand of electronic-infused folk/country on the road for a short romp about the east coast. I'm glad to say I was in the audience for his Union Hall show and got to witness the premiere of his brand new track "Lite Me Up". Believe me when I say it's the absolute pinnacle of baby-making music. So light some candles and settle down for what's sure to be pleasurable dose of aural sex and maybe more It's a real scorcher.

And make sure you pick up Gibson's Lite Me Up 7" which features another track, "Mark of a Man" on the b-side. You can order the 7" here.

You can also buy the digital version from Gibson's personal bandcamp here.

Watch: Ivan & Alyosha - "On My Way" Live

It's hard to believe that Seattle duo turned moresome Ivan & Alyosha have yet to release a full-length album after their years and years of music-making. Since it's inception in 2007, the band has released two EPs, expanded into its current lineup and gone on a multitude of tours most notably with Brandi Carlile. And while Ivan & Alyosha have certainly taken their sweet time in getting there, the group is gearing up to finally release their debut album due in part from a successful Pledge Music campaign. While news has certainly been quiet on that front, you can here a brand new song called "On My Way" they recorded in Austin for the Look Sessions.

The tracks has got harmonies for days. If their debut album was just the fellas of Ivan & Alyosha harmonizing names and addresses out of the phonebook, I'd probably still buy it. They're just that lush; that velvety smooth. Hear "On My Way":

?uestlove, tUnE-yArDs, Angelique Kidjo Akua Naru - Lady (Fela Kuti cover)

Turns out one of the greatest ways to get a great musical collaboration involves an act of charity. The Red Hot Organization has pretty much been uniting acts this way for years now in order to raise money for the fight against AIDS/HIV and this year is certainly no different.

While past collaborations have included the likes of Feist, Beirut, Justin Vernon, Of Montreal, and Sade (to name but a few), a most recent endeavor has brought together ?uestlove of The Roots fame with Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru, and just to make sure it's an extra good time they throw tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus into the mix to cover Fela Kuti's "Lady".

The result is a bustling, brassy update on Fela Kuti's criticisms of westernized African women into something a little less harsh but at no point less enjoyable. From the swaggering saxophones, to the three women's bold delivery, even to the added rap, the song is a flawless musical contribution. Hear it below and support a great cause:

If you like what you hear, buy the single. Do it.

(via Okay Africa)

Grizzly Bear - "Sleeping Ute"

If you've followed any of my ramblings about Daniel Rossen on here, you're more than familiar that I much prefer Rossen's sideprojects and solo efforts to those of his actual band Grizzly Bear. Or at least I was fairly certain I did until now. For some time now the Brooklyn foursome have been working on their fourth album, the follow up to 2009's Veckatimest, and with the album now just about ready to see the light of day we're being treated to a sneak peek of it.

I use the word treat in every sense of the word as the new track "Sleeping Ute" combines many of the elements I thoroughly enjoyed about Rossen's projects (Silent Hour/Golden Mile, Department of Eagles) and brings them to the forefront of Grizzly Bear. The dizzying rush of intricate, nearly overwhelming arrangements that crackle with pop catchiness? It's enough to make a true Grizzly Bear convert out of me. Almost. I look forward to hearing the new album to see if that's indeed the case. "Sleeping Ute" has an insanely epic grandeur that fills you with complete awe as the winds and bends along, slowly unfurling it's tendrils and grabbing you tightly and closely after drawing you near with its come-hither coo. An absolute stunner of a track, really.

Listen to the first track from Grizzly Bear's upcoming yet untitled fourth album, out September 18th on Warp Records, "Sleeping Ute":

(via Under the Radar)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Watch: The Dø - "Slippery Slope", "Gonna Be Sick", and "The Wicked & The Blind" Live at Studio Pigalle

The Dø are going on tour! The France-based duo's sophomore album Both Ways Open Jaws was mistakenly left  off my favorites of 2011 list last year and it seems like now is the perfect opportunity to redeem myself. Or really just the re-live the amazingness that was the eclecticism of that record. I've never seen the duo live before have certain wondered what that must be like. Looks like I'll soon have my answer as The Dø prep for a very short North American tour later this summer. They'll be playing three US dates and one Canadian date at least at this point. If they plan to expand that tour, that'd be great.

If you're in the NY area you're in pretty much the best of luck as the duo will playing three easily reachable shows: July 31st at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, August 1st at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan, and Western New Yorkers, you're not being ignored either, there's a show at Lee's Palace in Toronto on August 3rd that's sure to be worth the trek.

I can hope that band sound as absolutely incredible as they do in their live session at Studio Pigalle:

(via Brooklyn Vegan)

Sunglasses - "Swim"

One of my favorite blogs of note, We Listen For You, is undergoing a massive overhaul in content delivering solely one well thought out post a day. While that means less actual discoveries at the site a day, it also results in a stronger desire to check out what they do champion. Also, all the tracks they love get place in one easy to read/listen to post. And that's where I found Sunglasses' "Swim": a 7 minute jam of the most epic proportions.

Slowly building out of silence and fuzz, mechanized percussion accompanies the pretty bare vocals at least until instrument after instrument slips in completely without fanfare and just when that threatens to overwhelm, they drop out and start again from scratch. It's a bright, shimmering wave of sound that remains as unexpected as your initial listen. And despite it's labyrinthine sprawl, it coasts rather easily on its catchiness.  It's a track you'll have the hardest thing not listening to because of how much is actually happening inside of it.

(via We Listen For You)

Pitstop: Micachu and the Shapes


One of the greatest and most simplest ways to find something new that you're bound to love is to follow tips from bands/artists you love. It just makes sense. And that's how I was introduced to UK experimental trio Micachu and the Shapes. Through tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus in tweet form after their most recent show together at Terminal 5. The brainchild of London composer Mica Levi, Micachu and the Shapes (Micachu being Levi's adopted stage name) play stitched up pop with an avant-garde twist. That's about the simplest way to explain what this band does but in no way is it the most definitive. And that definition of sound may not define the group for very much longer as the threesome prep to release their sophomore record Never, the follow up to their rather poppy debut Jewellry.

 Micachu - Golden Phone by The Green Bird Heard

Preview tracks "Never" and "OK" mark a far less accessible and linear style for the band which while not completely out of the ordinary for the three-piece promises to be a fairly enjoyable departure from their debut.

Considering how catchy their debut is, I'm a little surprised that the track that most hooked me was from a live album they recorded with the London Sinfonetta (which is fitting as Levi's work is not wholly out of the conventions of modern classical music). "Everything", from the aforementioned live album entitled Chopped & Screwed, is the first track I ever heard from the group and currently my absolute favorite. It's an expansive yet simple glitch-pop gem. Or at least it sounds like Micachu's cut-copy style of glitch but couldn't possibly be when you realize it's live which is a mindboggling effect really. Combined are minimalistic percussive rhythms with lightning quick flutters from winds and dissonance that gives the track's perpetual motion a sort of discomforting unease. Levi employs a rapid-fire assortment of techniques that gives the track an added layer of depth besides it's large number of players. It's the kind of track that upon each listen you heard something entirely new: a pizzicato here, rumbling bass riff, a tunefully hit woodblock, each instrument arises and fades in a flash requiring your absolute attention and even then it might not be enough. 

 03 Everything/Micachu & the Shapes and the London Sinfonietta/Chopped & Screwed by ohtaffeta

Micachu and the Shapes' Never is due out July 24th on Rough Trade Records.

You can hear Micachu's Jewellry and Chopped & Screwed on Spotify.