Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Secret Mountains Are Recording Their Debut Album


In what has seemed like ages but really has only been little shy of a year, Baltimore psych-rock sextet Secret Mountains have been recording their debut full length album. Anyone lucky enough to see them live has found themselves either willingly or unwilling (as was the case when I stumbled upon them at last year's CMJ) hearing tunes from the upcoming album.

While there's no exact release date yet - there's news. Secret Mountains have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the album. If successful, the campaign will help toward making the release of the full length entitled Rainer this year an absolutely certainty. I don't know about you but since my inaugural listen to Secret Mountains via their Spike Hill CMJ showcase slot, I've wanted nothing more. I may or may not have worn out my copy of their Rejoice EP. I may or may not be responsible for a bulk of the listens of the digital version of their Winter Sessions cassette on Bandcamp.

Basically what I'm saying is that Secret Mountains are incredible and their full length album is sure to be as well. It just needs to see the light of day. Sooner rather than later. So if you can throw a couple bones to them on Kickstarter. It can be anything from $1 to $400 (which congruently gets you the band playing a show for you) or more if you have it. Any little bit is sure to help. Donate and spread the word. Make sure 2012 has more good music released during it.

Need convincing? Here's some tunes to wet your appetite.

Like what you hear, show some love to Secret Mountains' Kickstarter

Sylvie Lewis - It's All True (2012)


While some of this year's albums have been released with much fanfare, intense marketing campaigns, and occasionally a ton of hype, singer/songwriter Sylvie Lewis' third full length album It's All True was released pretty much under cover of darkness and a simple helpful Facebook status reminder stating that you could now buy it. Since my discovery of Lewis as a result of her opening act slot for Sondre Lerche years ago (and featured slot on Heartbeat Radio as co-songwriter on "Words and Music"), I've been waiting for any sign of a new release from Sylvie Lewis. It wasn't until an almost completely unadvertised South by Southwest appearance that fans had any clue she was working on anything album related at all.

You see, Sylvie Lewis is a busy woman having recently moved to Rome working with an opera company. But somehow in the hustle and bustle of life as a newly-inducted Italian woman, Lewis had time to jetset a bit and that's where the album came to fruition (through the aid of Portland-based producer Richard Swift). On It's All True, Lewis clings more tightly to her singer/songwriter roots than the pseudo-cabaret style that heavily peppered Tangos and Tantrums and was less featured on Translations. Her narrative language is much more subdued but no less arresting as her songs seem much less like characters like on previous albums and instead more personal. Personal but not confessional or all that revealing. It's All True isn't Lewis' musical equivalent of therapy; rather her songs are lightly affected by her own personal experiences like her time in Rome which comes out in tracks like the sweet Italian sprawl of  "Gocce" and "Streets of Rome". Her album also features some pretty spectacular unassuming musical moments like on "The Fish and the Bird" where Lewis' vocals skips pleasantly like a thrown rock on a lake.

Sondre Lerche even appears to return the favor of Lewis' guesting on his record with an equally as underplayed stint on "Streets of Rome" on guitar. In fact, you might notice how strangely similar it sounds to "Coliseum Town" from Sondre Lerche's self-titled album released last year. That's no coincidence, on "Streets of Rome", Lewis pairs her own words with the instrumentals of "Coliseum Town" only borrowing Lerche's "dream inside a dream" lyric.

Sylvie Lewis' It's All True is a pretty good addition to her growing catalog. It may be shorter than her previous albums but each song is an absolute pleasure. Lewis' cabaret storytelling style returns, albeit briefly, on "Ballad of Honeymouth" and her style manages to elude both your standard pop and singer/songwriter classifications. Lewis' poetic wit is still around though maybe not as effusive like on "All His Exes" or "If I Don't Come Easy" but that's okay. Because of it's lack of hype, Lewis' latest album is sure to be overlooked. That much is certain. However for those that stumble upon it, It's All True is bound to be a continuously revisited favorite. It's short, sweet, and rest purely on its own merits - the way all good music should.

You can listen to Sylvie Lewis' It's All True on Spotify as well as purchase it from all your normal music retailers.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sondre Lerche - "Boxing Day"

2012 is going to be a magical year for Sondre Lerche lovers far and wide. The Norwegian singer/songwriter is turning 30 and to celebrate he's putting out a record of rarities in addition to vinyl reissues of his early albums. It'll put a bit of a dent in your wallet but it'll be the happiest you've ever been.

When Sondre Lerche originally announced the release of the Bootlegs live album and vinyl reissues (and subsequent tour), we were treated to an extended live version of "Two Way Monologue" but if you've seen the man live this would've been nothing entirely new to you but rather a pleasant reminder of the good times you had. Today, Sondre Lerche officially dropped the first rare track - a Phantom Punch era gem by the name of "Boxing Day" (if you signed up to SL's mailing list you'd have received another but shhh).

The odd thing about the rarities album is they're tracks that were unfortunate enough not to make the cut and yet, they're great enough that you have to wonder why not? There's nothing wrong with them. Not really. And so, it's pretty much a guarantee that the upcoming album will be filled to the brim with new favorites. So get ready to enjoy  what's sure to be an unhealthy amount of Sondre Lerche love. It begins with recently dropped track "Boxing Day which you can download here or here. Do it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Pass - "Without Warning"


The Pass is one of those bands that will forever be linked, in my memory at least, with We Listen For You. Perhaps because I first discovered them while attending We Listen For You's CMJ showcase or maybe because I then saw them again as the headliners of WLFY's Northside Festival showcase. One thing is clear though: Each time I saw them is pretty high up there with one of the most fun shows I've been to.

The Louisville foursome play the sort of music that everyone with even the slightest pop inklings should take note of. It's catchy, dance-inducing pop rock at its finest. They band are tight and their musical ideas are interesting. All in all, The Pass have certainly managed to earn their  place as one of my favorite live bands but with the release of their sophomore record Melt, they just might steal a slot in my favorite records of the year. At least judging from first single "Without Warning". 

"Without Warning" is a fun track that doesn't trade any musicianship to be so. There's a clarity of ideas that allows of easy consumption but it's by no means basic. It's an upbeat dance-pop jam where every part works toward making it one of catchiest, can't-put-down tracks in The Pass' catalog. If the rest of Melt is anything like "Without Warning" we should all be a little worried because it's all we'll be listening to. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pitstop: Brazos


When Todd Goldstein of ARMS first told me of Austin trio Brazos with whom they shared a name (albeit in Spanish), I'm not exactly sure what I expected. Maybe rock pop a la ARMS with a foreign air that would keep comparisons of the two bands to a minimum? Perhaps a bit too on the nose. It's hard to say what I thought I'd hear exactly. I only know that whatever I expected when I saw Brazos this past Friday night a long with Port St. Willow and ARMS, I had all of them exceeded; blown out of the water. I was utterly floored.

 Brazos - Kid by guyandacat

Based around singer/songwriter Martin Crane, Brazos is the certainly the kind of band you want opening up your show. Energetic with a plethora of toe-tapping jams that had everyone in Union Pool moving and grooving along, Brazos plays with a simplicity that recalls the cool, easy listening vibe of Real Estate without being a carbon copy. They play an enjoyable brand of folk-affected sun-speckled rock that's similar but not congruent. Not to mention Martin Crane's ace in the hole: poetic lyricism that no doubt must come from band's folk influence. 2009's debut LP Phosphorescent Blues is more or less framed around an actual poem - "The Observer" by Adrienne Rich, which Crane sets to a winding, groovy fingerstyle sprawl.

And that's what you find in Brazos' music - an artful blending of poppy musicianship with lyrics that are more than your standard placeholding fare. Crane's spins interesting narratives - they're not epics but they don't need to be. They have the attention to detail required in properly captivating storytelling while not being overbearing literary. They're not even notably attention-grabbing and that is what is great about. You can like Brazos music without pouring over them with magnifying glass but doing so has it own rewards.  

Brazos are currently at work at their follow up record and I'm certainly thrilled to be able to get my hands on it. Because it's bound to be a good one. That and it means they Austin trio might make their way back to New York for another night of fantastic tunes. Here's hoping it's soon. 

Have a taste of Brazos' Martin Crane playing a solo set of songs for Hooves on the Turf in a Bushwick bedroom:

You can listen to Brazos' debut album Phosphorescent Blues on Spotify.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lord Huron - "Time to Run"

A little more than a week ago, Lord Huron announced the upcoming release of their debut full length Lonesome Dreams with a spiffy cinematic trailer that featured new song "Time to Run". Now you can listen to the whole song and well, it's a thing of beauty.  After a sparse, chime-laden intro, the track picks up pace and becomes a veritable sonic sunburst - bright, sunny melodies rolling on with undeniable catchiness. Lord Huron's world music influence is still there, although tapered back a little and not as blatant. 

Lord Huron continues avoiding things like standard song lengths and normal songwriting conventions and the result is something special as the track's breakneck pace screeches to a halt midway through for the reintroduction of the track's melodic vibraphone intro. "Time to Run" certainly makes you excited for the rest of Lonesome Dreams. Here's hoping we don't have to wait too long to see what else Lord Huron has up their sleeves. 

Listen to Lord Huron's "Time to Run":

Lord Huron's debut album Lonesome Dreams is out October 9th.

Here's the trailer if you missed it:

Friday, July 20, 2012

In the Shadow of the Mountain - In the Shadow of the Mountain and the Burnt River Bridge (2012)


My discovery of In the Shadow of the Mountain was a complete and utter surprise. When meeting music-related people, there's always a sort of vague background in music that goes mostly undiscussed i.e. bands are bands and music-writers are writers and never the two shall meet. I've hear tell of musicians who also worked as writers but it never seems to be at the same time (Josephine Olausson from Love Is All being my only known exception).

In The Shadow of the Mountain is the work of professional journalist/drummer Dale W. Eisinger, guitarist Anthony Zaccheo formed in their hometown of Boise, Idaho, the band have more or less disbanded (but not really, existing more in a state of questionable hiatus). Earlier this year the band played at Treefort Music Festival which coincidentally coincided with the release of their album release In the Shadow of the Mountain and the Burnt River Bridge on a Barn Owl Records. Recorded in 2009, it's taken some time for the release to see the light of day, and yet it's a pretty stellar thing to have adorn your hard drive. Filled with tracks that slide seamlessly into each other and more than a handful of fuzzy, jangly jams that pit guitar and drums are pretty much equal footing, ...and the Burnt River Bridge is an album that manages to give this year's releases a run for their money.

While each song is connected, weaving a cohesive spell-binding whole, the album is not without its notable highlights. "Now, Apocalypse" follows immediately after the buzzy sonic-experimentation of "Legacy of Failure" and marks the band’s first actual entrance of the band as whole. Building organically from the dying strains of its predecessor, "Now, Apocalypse" features steady, staccato drum hits while a breezy guitar lines snakes around stitching the track's necessary foundation before the vocals with all their harmonic splendor enter. It's catchy and ear-grabbing without seeming hokey as it takes its time carefully establishing itself. 

Lying at the almost exact center of the 9 song debut album however is "Hey, Hey" - a definite favorite. Warm and bright, much like "Now, Apocalypse", it trades in the latter's climactic crashing waves of sound for a more minimalistic approach -  the majority of the song dominated by the beat-keeping but no less interesting sound of two drumsticks clicking together and synth-laden swirl of simple melodic riffs. By the time the band utters the songs' first words; you're already a pool of anticipation utterly transfixed. "Hey, Hey" metamorphoses into a loud jam subtly, the drumstick tapping become cymbal crashes almost exclusively, the vocals fade in unimportance and what remains could very go on forever with nary a complaint. Instead though, like an overworked machine, the whole thing comes skidding to a halt and the vocals regain their glory in just enough time to cap it all.

If it tried hard enough, …and the Burnt River Bridge could be a work of artfully endearing pop. “Now, Apocalypse” and “Hey, Hey” toe the line of beachy, rock jams that we all long for in the summer and yet, they’re not. They never quite cross into that territory. They’re catchy but not alarmingly so, aspiring to be more than throwaways. …and the Burnt River Bridge is a colorful blend of sounds that work in an utterly captivating way. It’s an album you put on and listen to, not picking and choosing your favorite tracks and moving on where each song is an important part of the charming whole. One that makes you wonder and hope and wish that there’s more to come from In the Shadow of the Mountain regardless of whether that may well be.

You can pick download In the Shadow of the Mountain's album for free from Barn Owl Records here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sean Rowe - "Horses"

It hasn't been that long since I've been introduced to singer/songwriter Sean Rowe. In fact the song that reminded me about him is one of his most recent. Next month Rowe will put out the follow up to his ANTI- debut Magic, The Salesman and the Shark and new track "Horses" certainly shows that Rowe's been up to a little something something. 

A sort of daring, ominous plodding is pretty much the defining sound of "Horses" a la a high speed chase or reminiscent of Spanish desperadoes. Percussion heavy with violin ornaments featuring Jenavieve Varga from Lost in the Trees, the track pulses with danger and intrigue as Rowe booming baritone occasionally turns to dramatic melismatic howls. "Horses" is the kind of track that makes your heart beat and blood pump a little faster when it plays, regardless of how many times you listen. It's energetic and features more of Rowe's brilliant narrative pacing. An exciting peak at what to expect from the new album. 

Sean Rowe's The Salesman and the Shark is out August 28th on ANTI-.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Watch: Jinja Safari - "Toothless Grin" + Like A Version Live Set

Last night (or earlier today if you happen to be an Australian), Australian folky world pop band Jinja Safari played Triple J's Like A Version an in addition to playing their latest single "Toothless Grin", they did the unexpected - they busted out a cover of R. Kelly's "Ignition". Let that sink in for a little bit. Jinja Safari with their collection of world folk instruments like a harmonium that co-frontman Pepa Knight picked up in Indian, bamboo flute, and sitar took on R.Kelly's "Ignition". It's pretty darn great. Check out the evidence down below.

Not too soon after, Jinja Safari also premiered the video for their aforementioned latest single. Instead of taking place among the beaches and the forests like their videos are apt to do, "Toothless Grin" takes things skyward as a wacky tale of doomed scientists, an astronaut sent to save them, a cloud guy, and a party on the moon unfolds. Watch the video for "Toothless Grin":

Watch Jinja Safari perform "Toothless Grin" and R. Kelly's "Ignition" for Triple J's Like A Version:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Watch: Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers - "Ego Loss on Grand River"

About a week or so after I met CMJ last year, folk rockers Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers filmed a video. After a few false advertisements about when it would be out, the band simply stopped mentioning it anymore. I however did not forget about it and the video's release kind of became an ongoing joke between me and the band. "Remember when you guys filmed a music video?" "So....when's that music video coming out? Never? Okay guys." and other such statements to that effect. Well after nearly 7 months of waiting, their video for "Ego Loss on Grand River", a track off their spectacular On Being, is finally live.

For the video, the band more or less snuck into Michigan State University's Homecoming Parade (they totally did) and filmed. It's simple enough, lead man Joe Hertler marches along in the parade before being joined one by one by his band members and all sorts of supporters that cluster around him, singing along and decking him out with cape and flashing a spiffy banner. The video is fun but kind of quietly powerful and encapsulates just that about the band - they may be a band of fun-loving jokers but they radiate talent and passion. It's pretty great. Well worth the 7 months of waiting, actually.

Watch the video for Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers' "Ego Loss on Grand River":

And if you haven't yet, make sure you check out their amazing record On Being

Sun Airway - "Close"

Since discovering them through Frank at Listen Before You Buy last year, it's really a wonder that I never mentioned Sun Airway. Not even once. And frankly, Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier is pretty darn amazing so shame on me. But when I saw that Sun Airway had a new track out, I knew I couldn't sleep on it - not this time. Early this fall Sun Airway are dropping a new album entitled Soft Fall and if this new track "Close" is anything to go off of the album's going to be a thing of absolute beauty.

"Close" is a warm, layered piece of band-love inducing catchiness. There's a veritable sea of sounds that shine with a smile-inducing brightness and an musical insistence that doesn't let up until seconds before the track ends. It swells and swoops around a strong bass line that cuts through the cacophony while still blending in and feeling very much a part of it. "Close" is crafted with a delicate touch and listen after listen reveal more and more whirling parts which you'll practically forced into discovering because the track is simply too catchy for you not to hit repeat. But don't just take my word for it, get a taste of the awesome track from Sun Airway's upcoming sophomore record Soft Fall (out October 2nd) below.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lord Huron to release debut full length + tour dates

After what seems like ages of waiting but is actually more like a year and some change, California tropical pop invoking  Lord Huron are following their release of 2010's Into the Sun and Mighty EPs with their debut full length album entitled Lonesome Dreams. Other than it's October 9th release date (mark your calendars!) not too much else is known about it just yet. However their album trailer does feature new track "Time to Run" and should make you very excited about the album's release. Also, the band are going on a Fall tour in support of it so if you're anything like me and have yet to see the band live, quickly realize the error of your ways and plan to keep a night or two free just for them. You won't regret it.

Watch the album trailer for Lord Huron's Lonesome Dreams:

Tour Dates:
8/24 The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA - Los Angeles, California
9/21 Mojo's - Columbia, Missouri
9/25 Magic Stick Lounge - Detroit, Michigan
9/27 Midpoint Music Festival - Cincinnati, Ohio
9/28 Pygmalion Music Festival - Champaign, Illinois
9/29 The High Watt - Nashville, Tennessee
9/30 The Bottletree - Birmingham, Alabama
10/2 Dan's Silverleaf - Denton, Texas
10/3 Stubb's BBQ - Austin, Texas
10/5 Drunken Unicorn - Atlanta, Georgia
10/6 Local 506 - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
10/7 Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC
10/8 KungFu Necktie - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10/9 Mercury Lounge - New York, New York
10/11 Great Scott - Allston, Massachusetts
10/12 Glasslands Gallery - Brooklyn, New York
10/13 Mohawk Place - Buffalo, New York
10/15 Schubas - Chicago, Illinois
10/16 7th St. Entry - Minneapolis, Minnesota
10/18 Larimer Lounge - Denver, Colorado
10/19 Kilby Court - Salt Lake City, Utah
10/20 Neurolux - Boise, Idaho
10/21 Barboza - Seattle, Washington
10/22 Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, Oregon
10/24 The Independent - San Francisco, California
11/1 Casbah - San Diego, California

Monday, July 9, 2012

Watch: Kishi Bashi - "I Am The Antichrist To You"

It's not secret that violinist/looper extraordinaire Kishi Bashi takes a while to do things. The entrancing layers of his music do not just appear out of nowhere after all. And such attention to detail certainly does seem to carry over into other aspects of his life as well. After teasing its release for months, we then got the video for "Bright Whites" and looks like 151a's most hauntingly beautiful track "I am the Antichrist to You" (first track from the album I heard by the way) has received the video treatment as well.  The stop motion video was actually meant to house a song from K.'s old band Jupiter One that never really saw the light of day. The band broke up and so K. shelved the video only to bring it out and use "I Am the Antichrist to You" and while I haven't heard the Jupiter One song he planned on using, I'm fairly certain Kishi Bashi's own track is a much better fit.

Animator Anthony Scott details the story of a puppy and bunny from a magical world where everything is more or less sunshine and rainbows. Until their colorful world of imagination and wonder is threatened by the arrival of a gloomy and oppressive one of logic represented by numbers. Then things get dark. Really dark. There's a scuffle, tears are shed, and the songs climax occurs right at the most poignant of moment. It's text painting at its finest. Hard to imagine the video existing as anything else besides this wonderfully emotional pairing of plot and song.

The video also functions as a touching tribute to K.'s former tourmate with Regina Spektor, cellist Dan Cho
who drowned two years ago.

Watch the video for Kishi Bashi's "I Am the Antichrist to You":

(via Huffington Post)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pitstop: Flock of Dimes


When Sharon Van Etten went on tour in support of her brilliant new record Tramp, I saw her support was something by the name of Flock of Dimes. You'd think such an interesting name would be all I needed to look into the matter or the fact that he/she/it were playing a couple dates with my February obsession. Wrong. It was only after Caleb Moore of Lands & Peoples showed considerable excitement about seeing Flock of Dimes live that it clicked that this might be something good, something important. In fact, Caleb didn't do record store day but picked up a Flock of Dimes 7" and seemed more than content with that decision.

Flock of Dimes is actually the solo project of Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner. After debuting late last year with the track "Prison Bride" on Friends Records 2011 compilation, she's been steadily on her way toward releasing more. Like the aforementioned 7" which consists of "Prison Bride" and Wasner's take on The Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why".

It actually took the release of Wye Oak's one-off single "Spiral" for this summer's incarnation of the Adult Swim Singles Program for me to remember I had never given proper due to Wasner or Flock of Dimes. On NPR, Wasner compared the stylistic change of "Spiral" to the dark vibes of Flock of Dimes and well, they're pretty much dead-on there.

 Prison Bride by Flock of Dimes

There might not be a lot of music out under Wasner's Flock of Dimes moniker yet but what is available is absolutely obsession-worthy. The aforementioned "Prison Bride" which builds atop a pretty slick beat before Wasner's vocals envelop you in a heady rush. Percussive claps and occasional vocals effects are used sparring and become all the more interesting for it. The track in intoxicatingly catchy.

But despite Wasner's foreshadowing in the NPR article, not all of Flock of Dimes output is menacing or foreboding. In "Glaze", which is reminiscent of a less guitar-centric Stricken City a la "I Know A Place", you get a sort of dreamy reverie that is in no way less attention-dominating than "Prison Bride". "Glaze" chugs along at a pace not unlike "Prison Bride" but where the latter was mostly beat-driven, the brighter track is less insistent in its forward movement.

 glaze by Flock of Dimes

 icy by Flock of Dimes

Here's hoping there's to come soon from Flock of Dimes. You can order the Poison Bride 7" from Friends Records here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

All Around Sound-Off No. 1: Conveyor

It was an odd twist of fate that brought me in contact with what might very well be my favorite new bands of this year when I met two of the members of Brooklyn via Gainesville experimental pop quartet Conveyor outside of Pianos during We Listen For You's CMJ day party a little less than a year ago way back in October.

As they told me that living in Brooklyn meant they played most of their shows there, I jokingly told them I'd probably never see them, they mentioned a potential show with ARMS and suddenly I was onboard, and the rest is somewhat history. After falling in love with their Sun Ray EP, I knew the first chance I got I was going to have to see them live and that chance came early this year at a dual release show for Conveyor and Illuminator's split "Mukraker"/"Gulf Hymn" 7" coincidentally also at Pianos, a show that was utterly stacked with talent as fellow Floridians Hundred Waters and Levek shared that same bill. Conveyor's set however was an absolute marvel - instantaneously taken with TJ's quirky stage presence, the band's retro seafoam matching guitars, and their all around knack for playing unpredictable but solid rock pop jams, I was hooked. 

It also started this weird habit of running into members of the band outside of their actual shows. Like running into bassist Michael at a Hundred Waters show at Cameo. But it was while attending the final night of Deli Magazine's Best Emerging Artist Fest at Cameo Gallery (for ARMS pretty much exclusively, I should add), I ran into guitarist Alan who nonchalantly revealed an interesting tidbit about their album...

Dante (All Around Sound): So what actually made me realize that I needed to interview you guys was when [Alan] told me that you wrote a lot of the songs while you were recording the album. What made you guys decide to do it like that as opposed to I guess the more standard method of recording an album which is like going in with songs already more or less fully developed? 

Alan: I don't think we really decided - it wasn't really a conscious decision like 'Okay we're going to go into the studio and then write', you know? I think it was we knew our next project was going to be a full album, we had some songs ready, and we sort of filled in the gaps around there with the idea being that we wanted to write this album - make this album a sort of cohesive piece of work. That's sort of how it worked out. I don't think we ever thought of it that way. 

TJ: Yeah. I think that rings pretty true. For me especially it just feels right to start working on something and then let more ideas come from that rather than try to write an amount of songs and then go record each one of them and I think there's something a little more cohesive than some albums which are just song after song after song. For me our record just feels like one big song from start to finish.  

 Michael: The process was kind of... it just came about because we had a couple songs that were ready to be recorded and that we wanted to release as singles so we started recording, we got the singles out, and then we kept recording and we kept writing more songs and there's actually a lot of songs that were written during the production of the album that didn't make it onto the album that we play sometimes but might get recorded in the future. But really it was like an ongoing process of writing and recording and then eventually it all just kind of congealed into the album. 

I figured it wasn't an actual conceptual decision to do that but...well, I've heard the album... it really works. It makes sure you have to stay put for all of it. As opposed to just being like 'Oh I really like this song. Okay and now I'm just gonna pause and go do my laundry.' It's great. Definitely worked out for you guys which is kind of your thing I guess - just like doing things weird. 

Evan: I think one of the first things Michael ever said in this band at our first practice was 'Weirder is better'

Michael: Weirder is always better.

Evan: And we all live by that. 

Did you guys shoot for any sort of stylistic changes between the Sun Ray EP and this album or was it kind of an unconscious thing?

Alan: It was relatively unconscious. I think our music developed pretty organically. I think part of the difference in the sound comes from the way we recorded that you were referring to: Just getting into the studio and collaborating on songs in that space inherently it was much more...there was a piece of each of us more so like some of us jumped on at the last minute it was a much more...

TJ: Collaborative. 

Alan: Yeah. There's a big difference too. Sun Ray we had just started playing together and now a year later just that alone we've been playing together for a year so just naturally things are different. We're slightly different people. 

Evan: *laughs* We're friends now. 

Alan: Yeah. Now we know each other. We weren't like 'We want to sound like this', you know? I think it just very naturally came about that we made the music and we made the sounds that we wanted to make that we thought sounded good.

...You guys weren't friends before you started a band together? I mean, I heard the interview where you guys were like 'Yeah we kind of all just met up in Brooklyn one time at a party.' but I thought you guys were friends and knew each other and we're like let's be in a band.

TJ: Yeah...it's not as cold as it sounds when Alan says it like that. We all knew each other, we all hung out in the same circles in Florida, and that sort of thing. At a party we did decide to get together as a foursome but definitely like playing together and writing together has turned us into... from friends into bandmates, you might say. 

Did you feel like there was any sort of direct influence onto this album? Any bands you were listening to that you were maybe not trying to emulate but had a definite influence? 

Alan: Influences...

TJ: I'll just say for me I spent a lot of the last Fall listening to music from Africa that I was sourcing from Michael and beyond any one artist in particular just that sort of feel. I don't know when I listen to music from that continent it all just sort of feels very happy to me and very vibrant and moving. So I think last Fall when we were writing a lot of the stuff that was a big influence on me. Music that moves and music that feels like happiness. 

We kind of touched on it before but your songwriting process - what's that generally like? Is it just like you normally come into your rehearsal place with ideas or do you kind of just like jam it out? 

Alan: It really depends. Some of the first songs we wrote after Sun Ray were more along the lines of a very small idea that we then play over and over and try to develop into something else. The album though is really sort of all over the board. Sometimes it would be something really small - one little hook-line or one little melody other times there's like pretty fully produced demos that TJ would make and send to us and then talk about it together.  It's different from song to song. And like we were saying, some of the songs we never really got to the point of jamming and like playing together and trying out. We had only recorded it and tried to make it what we wanted it to be in that sense and then we had to go back sort of and learn how to perform it *laughs*.

If you each had to pick a song to cover - like if you were going to play any song during your set - your normally very small set, what would you choose?

Alan: Wow...

Evan: ...Wasn't there a song, today TJ, that I said we should cover?

Alan: Yeah there was. 

TJ: Yeah... Today?

Alan: I guess it wasn't that important to you. 

Evan: We were in the car... *pause* You know, a song that I always wanted to cover...shit. "Heart of Glass" by Blondie. I don't if we should cover it straight up but something about that song. I don't know, I've been wanting to incorporate it into at least a part of one of our songs in particular. I've just always wanted to play that song. I heard the band The Bad Plus, I don't know if you've heard of them...  

I've heard of them, yeah. 

Evan: Well we sound nothing like that band but they do such a badass cover of that song that I want to play it myself. It sounds really fun. So that's what I would love to do. 

Michael: The Beatles' "Tommorow Never Knows"

TJ: Wow!


Alan: That's really good.

TJ: Really good!

Michael: Really really drone-y, really catchy but it's the kind of song where it's two or three minutes long on the record but you know live it could be twenty minutes. 

TJ: We should...wow...we should totally do that!

Alan: "Morning Bell" would be a good song. It's great. 

TJ: I always find myself wanting to cover like something really noisy, really just abrasive and loud. I don't know why I keep thinking about Nirvana. We were talking about Nirvana earlier...


TJ: I could totally go for a Nirvana song. 

Alan: I've kind of been on a Fleetwood Mac kick recently. So I'd pretty much like to do pretty much anything of theirs. We could incorporate all of the vocal parts and just...I don't know, I love them. Too many good songs. It'd be tough to choose but I feel like that'd be an interesting project to take on. 

Thanks again to Conveyor for sitting down to talk to me about their album and for putting on an absolutely amazing record release show! 

The delightful foursome are currently on tour in support of their incredible self-titled debut full length. Scope out the dates as well as pick up a copy of the record on either cd or vinyl (I'd strongly suggest the vinyl- it's gorgeous!) here.  

Listen to their album before it's July 17th release:

*Special thanks to Todd Goldstein of ARMS for naming All Around Sound's new interview series.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Now Streaming: Delicate Steve - Positive Force

It's a strange wonder that I haven't listened to New Jersey rock quintet Delicate Steve before today, the band has played shows with some of my absolute favorite artists/bands like Maps & Atlases, Buke & Gase, & tUnE-yArDs to name but a few that I'm undoubtedly missing. If you've paid any attention to the amount of praise I've given Collections of Colonies of Bees or Phil Cook & His Feat then you probably know instrumental albums are a definite favorite of mine - a favorite where few brilliant, shining works lie. Well Delicate Steve is about to change all that.

Featuring bright, exuberant melodies and fanciful instrumental songcraft, Delicate Steve's Positive Force is poised to become the soundtrack to my summer and might very well be yours if you let it. Each track is a veritable pop gem which puts a decidedly interesting and unique spin on world-influenced music. There's no playing make believe like you sometimes get but the influence funnels into their music alongside a sort of middle-end rock aesthetic and the result is an album you'll pretty much have to pry out of my hands. It's everything I didn't know I was looking for and then some.

You can stream Delicate Steve's Positive Force on NPR now until it's July 10th release date.

Pitstop: Sean Rowe


My introduction to singer/songwriter Sean Rowe happened in rather different circumstances than what would be deemed my normal. A brief trip up to Albany some months ago to visit Olivia Quillio, a talented singer/songwriter in her own right, turned into an afternoon of sharing music of interest to each other not unlike a slower-paced version of Portlandia's "Did You Read?" sketch only with some of the artists/bands shared tending to be pretty much unknown to the other. Enter Sean Rowe, when Olivia asked if I had heard of him she seemed absolutely taken aback that I hadn't and whipped out her iPhone to quickly resolve that after explaining Rowe's part in fostering her own talents. Turns out Sean Rowe used to host open mic nights in their native Troy, New York which she attended religiously. Neat.

But all of this is just a fun like anecdote that in no way does justice to Rowe's talents. When Olivia played that first Sean Rowe video, I fell in love. Hard. Rowe's reverberating baritone carries some absolute svelte songcraft filled with all sorts of brilliantly constructed phrases as he juxtaposes nature imagery with tales of human woe.  Each and every track on Rowe's ANTI- Records debut Magic is quotable and memorably so.

Rowe's writes in a style that combines a kind of nonchalant, non-insistent poetry with detailed plain speak - the result which highlights exactly what he feels you need to hear. What might be trivial normally carries an addition weight when spoken by Rowe- "He puts out the light and he jerks off alone" ("American"). Rowe's no soul artist but his songs feel like they very much could be - filled with heart, passion, and occasionally boiling over with fiery spirit ("Jonathan"). 

You can listen to Magic on Spotify while you wait for Rowe's upcoming third album The Salesman and the Shark which isn't out until August 28th on ANTI- .