Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Listen: Saint Rich - "Sorry/Sadly"

If for some reason you've been able to stop listening to Delicate Steve's Positive Force, you're in for another all-consuming release from Steve Marion. He's got a side project with bandmate Christian Peslak by the name of Saint Rich and their first single" Sorry/Sadly" is a slice of homey even-kneeled Southern-inspired rock. It's too clean and polished to be proper Southern rock but damn if it doesn't try. A burst of sunny guitar licks to warm you in the upcoming seasonal thaw.

An album's currently in the works and it might but be offensively catchy enough to make you never want to listen to anything else ever again. That's quite a statement based on a three minute debut track, I know. But I've got high high hopes for Saint Rich. Here's hoping there's more to come soon.

Listen to Saint Rich's debut single "Sorry/Sadly":

Listen: Local Natives - "Breakers"

Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa! One of the ways I explained away not bringing my laptop with me to CMJ was the fact that I assumed any/all music news would more or less cease to exist that week. Apparently I was wrong. Turns out the only Local Natives news wasn't that they were the secret guests at a already sold out show where they played a bunch of new stuff from their new album. No, also they released a single and let some album details out. And I'm just discovering this now, two weeks after CMJ. Well, better late than never I suppose.

"Breakers", the first single off Local Natives upcoming sophomore record Hummingbird, is everything I didn't know I needed from Local Natives. It's familiar but obviously more than a rehashing of Gorilla Manor songs. It reminds me of everything I absolutely loved about "World News" in that it's a rock song that actually makes use of dynamics; bursting forth with a wordless chorus pretty much right out the gate. There's not only the cresting chorus but also the ever-rising intensity as the song bustles ever forward. It's enough to make your heart ache in the best way possible.

Welcome back, Local Natives. We missed you. "Breakers" is a sure-fire favorite because it's too good to be anything else. Making me all sorts of giddy and excited for Hummingbird. I'm sure it'll deliver the goods.
Listen to "Breakers":

Local Natives sophomore follow up Hummingbird will be out January 29th on Frenchkiss.

Listen: Marissa Nadler - "Devil Town" (Daniel Johnston Cover)

Boston folk chanteuse Marissa Nadler continues the Halloween love as well as her own series of lo-fi covers with a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Devil Town" and it's kind of exactly what you'd expect from Marissa Nadler. That is, it's quietly beautiful, features Nadler's yawny vocals (and doubly so as she harmonizes with herself), and also features Nadler on an instrument you didn't know she played: the harmonica. I swear Marissa Nadler's steadily conquering each and every instrument known to man. Anyway, it's a good cover that she manages to deliver in her own style. Makes me wish everyday was Halloween.

Listen to Marissa Nadler's "Devil Town" cover here:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Writer - Brotherface (2012)

At last the day is upon us. After discovering garage pop brother duo Writer earlier this year, I've been eagerly awaiting the day when their tunes could be mine. And they been pretty helpful on that front releasing 7" singles that you could download on their Bandcamp. But even as I listened to single after single (only three but you get my point), I couldn't help but wonder what a full length from The Brothers Ralph would sound like. Well wonder no more, Writer's debut full length Brotherface is out today.

If you've followed Writer's career at all i.e. downloaded any of their 7"s, the album's tracklist won't be that much of a surprise to you. In fact more than half of it consists of tracks you'd find on the 7"s and singles they've put out so far. And yet that shouldn't dissuade you at all. As I listened to Brotherface, I was shocked by how well it all fit together despite the fact that many of the songs weren't recorded or even written at the same time. But here we are, with Brotherface crashing along with an almost odd cohesiveness. Writer make you work for the newer tracks, lumping them all together at the end of the album instead of dispersing them among the more familiar previously released tracks. Which turns out to work pretty well. And while Writer more or less barrels forward, they're not noisily plodding to the finish line; there's instrumental track "Yamaha Trip" as well as slower moving "North Park Fairies" as well as "Swamp Fire Lake".

Brotherface consists of songs you'd pretty much expect to hear from Writer. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's an enjoyable set of tracks that work surprisingly well together as a whole. If you were a fan of the earlier releases you're more or less getting more of the same. Where the same happens to be gold old fashioned home-made multi-layered clatter-filled rock with a ear for melody. Brotherface follows the "If it ain't broke" style of music-making and does it quite well. It isn't out to challenge and impress you but it's more than just another release under Writer's belt. It's Writer's strengths all laid right out for you: their songs may be short but they're memorable, they're boisterous but never annoyingly so. And that's good enough for me, for now. A likeable record completely free of missteps? A up and coming band can only be so lucky.

Brotherface is out now digitally and available in a very limited edition vinyl run on the UK's 3 Syllable Records here. Writer will also have a handful of records available for purchase on their upcoming east coast but don't sleep on it if you want it. Writer's releases tend to run out fairly quickly.

 You can listen to the album via Writer's visual stream on Youtube (don't worry, individual tracks also available):

Listen: Telekinesis - "Clock Strikes Midnight"

While bands/artists and blogs are foisting their Christmas-themed songs upon us earlier an earlier this year, it's easier to forget that Halloween is a thing. A big thing. Sure, trick-or-treating isn't really a thing for adults but we get Halloween parties. And not just any Halloween parties; Halloween parties for days. The whole weekend leading up to it and perhaps even the weekend after are fair game for a party.

And while there's a ton of spooky themed tracks, Michael Benjamin Lerner aka Telekinesis offers up his own creation to the theme mix. It's a short but oh so sweet track very much in line with his power-pop stylings and it's a great addition to your Halloween party playlist. Especially if you want people to throw caution to the wind and get their boogie on.

Give Telekinesis' "Clock Strikes Midnight" a listen and download it if you like it (Don't worry, you will):

Monday, October 29, 2012

Now Streaming: J Fernandez - No Luck/Olympic Village

Remember J Fernandez: Thin Hymns guitarist/keyboardist Justin Fernandez solo bedroom project? Well, you should. If not, read all about it here. If you were hoping to listen to more of Fernandez' melodic brand of one-man soft rock, today's the day. Morning Ritual is putting out No Luck and Olympic Village, two cassette EP previously only available on limited edition cassettes out into the ether as a double EP.

Which is totally a good thing. Because frankly, the world needs a lot more J Fernandez. The occasional foray into dreamy soundscapes, random bursts of sunny jams, and just stellar musicianship are always pluses in my book and should definitely hover around musicsphere for a lot longer. Here's hoping J Fernandez is working on new tunes because though the double EP just came out, I'm already hooked and eager for more.

You can stream the No Luck/Olympic Village double EP right now via Morning Ritual Records:

Listen: Villagers - "Passing A Message"

Today, Irish band Villagers released their second single "Passing A Message" and it proves that they electronic sound the featured on "The Waves" wasn't just some fluke. It's real, very very real. Their sophomore record Awayland will probably be full to the brim of the stuff. So if you liked Conor O'Brien being all folksy and brooding, you'll have to play Becoming A Jackal on infinite repeat until maybe Villagers third album?

However, if "The Waves" was totally up your alley (and even if it's wasn't) then you are by far in luck. "Passing A Message", in my honest opinion, is the better of the two glimpses at Awayland. It's simpler, groovier, more poetic lyrically (or rather, the lyrics are far easier to appreciate), and I have a hard time believing anyone wouldn't be a fan of it. Diehard folk fans included. It's short and sweet and has just the right amount of jazz chords getting thrown down to make it kinda dance-y. Basically this time round, O'Brien decided to at least sound more upbeat and that's turning out to be a good thing.

Watch/listen to Villagers new single "Passing A Message":

Villagers' sophomore effort Awayland is out January 2013 on Domino Records.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pitstop: Incan Abraham

                                                      (photo by Sterling Andrews)

If you visit this blog with any sort of consistency you may have picked up on what really gets me going, if not I'll review quickly: vocal harmonies, lush layers of sound, articulately played instruments, and anything vaguely world music inspired (also folk, but we're not talking about that right now).

Los Angeles' Incan Abraham were my first new music discovery at CMJ playing an absolutely riveting set upstairs at Pianos. It was a performance I wish I had been warned about so that I could've properly prepared myself for what was about to transpire. Instead before they went on, Jess from introduced me to Spencer Mandel, the band's bassist, and merely mentioned they were friends and the band was "good". Lies and god damn slander, Jess.

The quartet showered all those lucky to be in attendance with tight-knit psychedelic pop rock filled to the brim with utterly mindblowing vocal harmonies and an unstoppable urge to move your body. Also afro-pop. And there isn't a human alive who can resist the sultry sway of African-inspired beats. Anyone who says so is a liar. How did they do this? Well, drummer Andrew Clinco has a set of congas in addition to the standard set up, and  lead vocalist/keyboardist Guliano Pizzulo has a laptop that infuses world-inspired elements into what would otherwise be a pretty basic guitar-bass-drums-keys-sometimes-other-guitar line up.

On paper, Incan Abraham might not immediately sound like a band you should be going crazy over but I assure you they most certainly are. Three years of music-making has turned the foursome into an efficient groove machine capable of raining down it's radiant, bliss-inducing harmony-laden brand of dance-inspiring pop rock. But as impressive as the band's playing is, the real star is no doubt the voice-work. Pizzulo's vocals are effortlessly pristine, attention-grabbing, and have this ability to float above the wide variety of business happening underneath. While guitarist Teddy Cafaro's are a well-deployed weapon: sweeter and less insistent but no less ear-catching or arresting. On the occasion where he takes lead vocal duties ("In Milan"), it's a treat and a quite enjoyable one at that. Together Pizzulo and Cafaro form a rather formidable duo. And because I still can't get over them, I'll mention them again: Those harmonies.

Incan Abraham currently have three EPs available for free download over at their Bandcamp so make sure you pick those up. They're all great. They also have delightfully good single out now. Listen to "Springhouse":

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pitstop: Night Beds

                                                            (photo by Aubrey Swander)

It should be practically common knowledge that I take music suggestions from bands/artists I love with the utmost reverence. Because if you can make music great enough to enrapture me, obviously you know a thing or two about what I like and your tastes is in part somewhat similar to mine. Not too long I was chatting with Martin Crane of Brazos and he mentioned Night Beds. While I couldn't make it to their no doubt excellent show together at Union Pool earlier this month, I made a note to give Night Beds my immediate and full attention.

The moniker of singer/songwriter Winston Yellen, Night Beds creates dreamy folk not unlike Carter Tanton or Husky touched with windswept plainsiness and a definite pop sensibility. Truth be told, I was reminded almost immediately of Young Man's Colin Caulfield. Similarly aligned in their youthful pondering, their earnest delivery, their evident quest for answers and meanings but where Caulfield's bursts forth with lengthy, upbeat pop jaunts, Yellen's is more introspective, darker, sweeping not overwhelming.

In "Even If We Try", Yellen staves off the eventual dip into poppiness until you're already hooked on his fountaining vocal flourishes and emotive surges.  In fact, if you're coming for the pop, you'd be best to pick up the Every Fire; Every Joy EP as Night Beds' most recent release the "Even If We Try" 7" with b-side "You Were Afraid" is a bit more on the quieter side.

Night Beds' "Even If We Try" 7" is out now on Dead Oceans but make sure you get the full effect with the Every Fire; Every Joy EP:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Peter Broderick - These Walls Of Mine (2012)

Anyone who's followed the career of singer/songwriter/composer/violinist Peter Broderick will know that his is a rather unconventional one. At least as far as his varied output is concerned. His catalog consists of commissioned works for dance (Falling From Trees, Music for Congregation) and film (Music for Confluence, "Old Time"/"Solace in Gala"), proper vocal albums (Home, How They Are aka It Starts Hear), and compositions, recording projects, and experiments (Docile, Float, 4 Track Songs, Ten Duets) and Peter Broderick's latest, his second album released this year,  is another collection of experiments based upon vocals as opposed to Broderick's instrumental or recording ones.

These Walls of Mine manages to capture the soul of Broderick's appeal while also revealing a stunning new side to the songwriter/composer. An album of lyrical experimentation as well as a genre-amassing body of work, These Walls of Mine is the perfect compliment to It Starts Hear. The latter a summation and emotion-stirring representation of Broderick's past ("A Tribute To Our Letter Writing Days", "Blue", "Colin"),  These Walls Of Mine is an actual collection of songs more or less from that period. When you read that Peter Broderick is dabbling in gospel ("Proposed Solution To The Mystery Of The Soul"), soul ("I've Tried"), spoken word ("When I Blank I Blank", "These Walls Of Mine I") and even rap ("These Walls of Mine II"), it's totally reasonable to be skeptical. However when you realize the same aspect that draws you to Broderick's music is also the same that allows him to artfully dabble in these genres, your fears are assuaged or should be. Broderick is a musician of remarkable sincerity. Even at his most quirky, his most humorous, Broderick comes off as honest and genuine and charmingly so.

Despite the fact that These Walls of Mine's main focus is lyrical, the album is littered with its fair share of memorable, hummable melodies and endearing musical moments. A testament to Peter Broderick's skills as songwriter that even when it's not his priority that engaging musical moments will shine through.

Give a listen to Peter Broderick's These Walls of Mine out now on Erased Tapes.

Listen: Hundred Waters - "Haven"

It's been a pretty good couple years for bands and video game music from The National's "Exile Vilify" in Portal 2 to Sun Kil Moon's "Heron Blue" in Gears of War 3. And in a completely unexpected twist Gainesville quintet Hundred Waters have thrown their hats into the arena so to speak and remixed a track by composer Neil Davidge from Halo 4. Though I'm not entirely certain if their remix will be in the game, they do have the honor of being on a remix album with artists like James Iha and Apocalyptica (others too but I'm not too familiar with them).

Though working from Davidge's source material, the quintet put their own spin on the track featuring Nicole Miglis' characteristic fey-like coo, there's a little bit of Paul Giese and Trayer Tryon's computer magic as well as some flute action for those who are fans of it in Hundred Waters own music. Basically if you're a fan of Hundred Waters captivating experimentalism, you'll be more than pleased with their remix. In fact if no one told you otherwise, it'd pass pretty convincingly as one of the collective's own tracks.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Watch: Guards - "Silver Lining"

Have we all stopped losing our minds about the fact that Guards are finally releasing a full length album full of that retro rock they do so well? No? Didn't think so. Every time I remember that we're mere months away from new Guards music I get positively giddy. And then Guards do something like drop a single and then a video for that new single and my excitement goes off the charts.

Their latest, "Silver Lining" is sort of a pulsing, glowing, summer jam that incidentally carries keep the memory of summer thoroughly alive (it was release right at the end of it). It's tragically short clocking in at about 2.5 minutes but what an lovely 2.5 minutes that is. And the video, directed by Guards own Kaylie Church, takes your standard band performance footage and turns it on its head - adding in lovely, psychedelic background visuals as the band is bathed in an ethereal glow. It's great but don't just take my word for it, check it out:

Guards' debut full length In Guards We Trust is out February 5th.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pitstop: DT ROTBOT

There's a certain weight of expectation that comes when one of your favorite bands/artists shares one of their favorite band with you. Especially if they don't have already established and understood greatness. You're at once expected them to be similar enough to create a sort of connect the dots of musical influence while also expecting them to exponentially greater than your wildest dreams. That's more or less how I felt when Matt of Friend Roulette labelled Brooklyn trio DT ROTBOT as his favorite band.

Luckily the Brooklyn psychedelic rockers live up to the oppressive weight. There's a wide multitude of bands  doing the psychedelic/experimental thing, that's certainly true. But DT ROTBOT do so in a remarkably stylistic manner. Not overly conceptualized but there's a certain artiness to their quirky brand of experimental rock. The brainchild of Akiva Zamcheck with assistance from Patrick Monte and the later inclusion of Allan Mednard on drums, DT ROTBOT create a type of rock that's beguiling not just in its ability to groove but in its use of intensely memorable and as result highly enjoyable melodic-writing.

In a way DT ROTBOT is Brooklyn's answer to Detroit's Prussia as Zamcheck waves intricate, exciting narratives in which he seems to serves as both storyteller as well as a character of his own design (much like Prussia's Ryan Spencer does on Poor English). All the while, the music around him takes unpredictable twists and turns even as they become familiar through extended listening. DT ROTBOT is also a band that uses its talents effectively.  Where you might normally associate their psychedelic influence with that of the jam band variety, the trio make extensive of silence, space, and breath. Even at its most frenetic, it never manages to fill in all the cracks and that's what makes them all the more intriguing. What's more is that it seems almost totally at odds with the bands ability to progress through such a wide variety of ideas and musical moments while still somehow coming off cohesive and highly sensible.

Get a taste of DT ROTBOT with their incredible new self-titled EP:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Listen: Nightlands - "So Far So Long"

I'm going to be completely honest with you: When I was first introduced to Nightlands, the solo project from War on Drugs/former Sondre Lerche band member Dave Hartley when he opened for Sondre Lerche last year, I wasn't feeling it. The band used vocal effects that made them sound more robotic than one had any right to, especially after Kishi Bashi and before Sondre Lerche who charm with endearingly raw vocals. I was disappointed as until that point I had never been let down by Sondre Lerche approved band before. And yet for some reason I still bought a copy of Nightlands debut Forget the Mantra that night. I haven't listened to it yet but when news of a sophomore record came yesterday, I remembered it.

Had I made a mistake? Had I judged too harshly? Apparently. Because while I've still yet to listen to Forget the Mantra, "So Far So Long", the first single off Nightlands upcoming sophomore record Oak Island is a blissed out, sleepy ramble that's rather satisfactory. If Dave Hartley can create something so simple yet so pleasantly enjoyable, he obviously earned that SL seal of approval. In 4 minutes and 19 seconds, my opinion on Hartley changed completely. Who knows, maybe the Nightlands live set just wasn't my thing? All I know is that with "So Far So Long", Hartley earned himself second chance. And rightly so.

Check out "So Far So Long", the first single from Nightlands upcoming sophomore album Oak Island out January 22nd on Secretly Canadian.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Listen: Young Dreams - "Fog of War"

It's hard to believe it's almost coming up on a year since I first was introduced to Young Dreams via Sondre Lerche's Best of 2011 Spotify playlist but what an almost year it's been. I fell utterly and completely in love with their "Dream alone, wake together" from one of the two singles they released last year and I've been waiting patiently for their full length debut and it seems like we're getting close.

"Fog of War" is the first official single from the forthcoming debut and simply put: it's an absolute dream. From it's percussive start to it's string flourishes, "Fog of War" is no doubt set to become much more beloved than "Dream alone, wake together" and for good reason. It's far more fast-paced and dancier but filled with lovely frills and multiple remarkable parts. The string arrangements alone enough to further prove my theory that all of the best music arrangers are from somewhere in Scandinavia.

There's also the issue of Matias Tellez and his practically overwhelming charm as he takes lead of the jubilant, dreamy track. It's a track more or less about youthful rebellion but there's no aggressiveness in it, rather of hopes and dreams delivered with a pleasant charisma that makes you nod your head quickly in agreement. It's mobilizing and the fact that its surrounded by most endearing, most engaging, and most ear-catching musicianship does it all the more justice.

Young Dreams' "Fog of War" is pretty much perfect, a unquestionable favorite that actually make me fear for the upcoming full length because if all the tracks are this caliber, I won't want to listen to anything else. Listen to "Fog of War":

Young Dreams "Fog of War" single is out in the US on October 16th with remixes by Baio, Koralleven, and Lemonade on Modular. They also have a cover of Tame Impala's "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" off Lonerism titled "Feels Like We Only Go Bachwards" that'll be featured on Tame Impala's single out November 20th, also on Modular.

Pitstop: Dull Edges

Despite the veritable onslaught of artful arrangement-heavy music with its nice clean melodies, pristine harmonies, and all around evocative qualities, I'm also a fan of rock grit. It's what draws me to the live shows of ARMS, Conveyor, and Sondre Lerche or why I was so head over heels for Writer when I first saw them. Because despite how clean-cut they might sound on their studio recordings, their live sets are filled with wild, free-flying guitar pyrotechnics and raw, uncontrived roars. That appreciation of the noisy, the imperfect, is exactly what drew me to Brooklyn garage rock trio Dull Edges.

Starting last year as a two piece with guitarist/vocalist Patrick Lane and bassist R Smith before drafting Ben Kaplan on drums, the rather newly minted trio already has a strong release under its belt in Half Shattered. The 5 song EP  is a set of purring rip-roaring guitar rock at its finest. While tracks like "Washed Out" and "Screens" are cacophonous, while "Big T", "Space Jam", "Holed" are righteously slow-burning psychedelic jams in the vein of Secret Mountains sans powerhouse vocals or Youth without the sunny beach vibes.  

Half Shattered, in all of its tragic shortness, reveals a rather versatile band well-versed in its influences and strong in its delivery. There's no hiccups as the EP transitions from its rocky clatter to its more down tempo airy plod, rather it's smooth and still manages to maintain the forward momentum of the more fast-paced predecessors. Dull Edges can be noisy when they want to be and when they are it's deliberate, not the fault of a band that's terribly out of leagues or remarkably out of practice. But the Brooklyn rockers also clean up quite nicely as evidenced in the second more drone-inspired half of Half Shattered.  

Dull Edges is releasing "Screens" and "Big T" on a 7" next month so stay tuned for that. Until then, you can listen to Half Shattered on Bandcamp:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pitstop: J Fernandez

Yesterday I featured Chicago experimental pop quintet Thin Hymns and apparently they're a band that just keeps on giving. After following the tip from Caleb from Lands & Peoples that led to my newfound love of Thin Hymns, he followed up with something equally as good. Turns out Justin Fernandez, Thin Hymns' guitarist/keyboardist has a solo project appropriately named J Fernandez.

Have you ever heard old school Fleet Foxes EP era Fleet Foxes? Songs like "Textbook Love" and "In the Hot, Hot Rays" with their sunkissed psychedelic rock slant are precisely what you can look forward to in J Fernandez's music (most notably "Wasting the New Year"). But instead of jangly guitars, Fernandez's music doesn't prominently feature them. Relying more on a whatever's clever form of musical composition. 

"No Luck" is a harmony-laden sprawl that which gradually gains complexity as it saunters forth, adding brass along its plodding drums and Fernandez' croon while "Jewelry Watches Gold" and "Fading Out" are Real Estate-esque soft rock jams. 

For a bedroom project, J Fernandez's music has a surprisingly wide scope. From the sparse "Olympic Village People" to the the 70's reminiscent rock of "Wasting The Year" on the same release, to the simplicity of "No Luck" to the complex, layered beast that is "Real Flowers", J Fernandez's music output is dynamic and unpredictable while nevertheless remaining unequivocably good. Here's hoping there's scores and scores of new music to come from Fernandez.     

J Fernandez currently has two cassettes (No Luck and Olympic Village)  out and his music is enough to make me change my whole anti-cassette stance. Luckily if cassettes aren't your thing, J Fernandez is releasing them as a double EP via Morning Ritual. Fans of good music rejoice as J Fernandez's No Luck/Olympic Village double EP will be out October 29th 

Watch: Lucius - "Turn It Around"

I remember when I first discovered Lucius, completely oblivious to the mindblowing set I was about to experience the night of Deli Fest at the Cameo Gallery. Since then, I've been waiting with bated breath for anything vaguely resembling new Lucius news. Be that a full length album (they have one but it's practically doesn't exist), tour dates, anything. Today, the gals and guys of Lucius premiered their video for "Turn It Around" over on Paste Magazine (from their recent self-titled EP) and it's everything I could've dreamed of.

In the Matt Pizzano directed video, Lucius plays homage to the 60s pop sound that they draw so heavily from appearing on an American Bandstand type show. The girls of Lucius draft another lady into the fold and great deal of drama ensues. The new girl isn't ready for the pressures of fame and for one girl, seeing her friend enjoy success sends her into a envious self-destructive spiral. It's all very "American Dreams" if they focused more on Bandstand and less on the lives of the other people in the show.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pitstop: Thin Hymns

One of the best things, greater than a submissions inbox, is having musical friends because that's exactly how I discovered Chicago's Thin Hymns. Caleb Moore of Lands & Peoples recently hosted a house show in Baltimore home and Thin Hymns were one of the bands to take advantage of Caleb's hospitality. Apparently they made the quite the impression because not long after Caleb strongly suggested I check them out. Done.

There's certainly many attractive qualities about the Chicago quintet: the most winsome being a sort of loose reminiscence to Daniel Rossen/Department of Eagles - two projects that I've always been very much onboard with. But the association is loose, I assure you. They don't employ any of the tremendous engulfing arrangements that Rossen's solo projects are known for. Rather it's the sort of mysterious, otherworldly yet never ethereal air the quintet manage to achieve on their Logic & Theory EP that's cause for the comparison. There's also vestiges of Prussia's intricate, layered chamber pop a la Poor English on "Logic & Theory" and "Inland" and a little hint of Brazos' "Pues" in instrumental track "Lunar Phase".

But Thin Hymns are more than just the sum of other bands/artists I really got into this year. They're talented pop makers, crafting memorable and infectious tunes steeped in experimental, complex soundscapes. And that's a feat in and of itself. The effects of Thin Hymns' tracks are direct even when their presentation and construction are anything but. In a lot of ways they're very similar to Lands & Peoples, creating a sort of effortless though no doubt intensively constructed experimental pop that you can enjoy easily upon first listen. There's no need to warm up to Thin Hymns tracks. Their enjoyable properties are all laid there for it, it's all just a matter of hearing it. So do yourself a favor and give Thin Hymns a listen, you'll be glad you did.

 You can check out their Logic & Theory EP over on Bandcamp. Here's hoping there's more to come soon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Watch: Hundred Waters - "Visitor" Live for Grooveshark

It's not enough that Gainesville quintet Hundred Waters have put out one of this year's most stellar records or that their live set might be one of the most magical things you experience in your whole life. No. Hundred Waters want to make perfectly clear that you know that they also film amazing live videos. It's like the magic of seeing them live without leaving the comfort of you home and placeholder until they stop by again on tour of until you can convince them to visit your small podunk town to brighten up what is certain to be a dark, unfulfilling existence before your first Hundred Waters show.

Grooveshark recently showed up at the fivesome's Gainesville digs and filmed this beautiful video of Hundred Waters doing what they do best: performing with such precision and grace as to practically have you speaking in tongues from the awesome. Enjoy!

Listen: Typhoon - "Common Sentiments"

There a few things in life as exciting as new Typhoon and that's exactly what we have to look forward today. After a couple months of hearing about progress on the new album (on a farm, no less), we're finally getting a peak at the thing.

The new track "Common Sentiments", from their upcoming album White Lighter out next year, premiered today over at MTVHive and will enjoy a limited edition vinyl run and features the same absolutely engrossing style of orchestra folk pop that the Portland outfit are known for. And yet, excitingly enough, it's not just a rehashing of what the band do oh so well. There's new ideas at work here: From Kyle Morton's solo a cappella opening to the grooving, sauntering start-stop arrangements.

It's almost impossible to fathom but Typhoon are getting better with time and White Lighter is already in the running for one of my most anticipated albums of 2013 based on this first single alone. And it's not hard to see why, "Common Sentiments" is a real scorcher, after my own heart with each musical phrase and ornament.  

There's just no stopping Portland's folk orchestra and thank heavens for that because I wouldn't want it any other way. Typhoon's upcoming album White Lighter will be out next year at a yet undisclosed release date.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Watch: The Voluntary Butler Scheme - "Brain Freeze"

Gather round everyone, I have some great news: British multi-instrumentalist Rob Jones aka The Voluntary Butler Scheme is releasing a new album. The follow up to 2011's The Grandad Galaxy will be out sometime next year and you can get a taste of the new album entitled A Million Ways to Make Gold with first single "Brain Freeze". It's a pretty joyous affair, not unlike After Breakfast, Dinner, Tea's "Multiplayer" or The Grandad Galaxy's "Don't Rely On It" and it's filled practically to the brim with brass.

The video for "Brain Freeze" follows in Jones' previous footsteps of being simple and cute, featuring a toy guitar lip-syncing to song before a changing series of colorful backgrounds for pretty much the whole duration of the video. It's not a lot but it's just enough to make you smile while grooving a long to the new track. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Watch: Efterklang - "Apples"

One of my favorite things about Danish trio Efterklang, aside from putting their own innovating at at most time orchestra spin on pop music, is that the trio often combine music and visuals in such a stunningly artistic way. Their latest video for "Apples" is no different: the first music video to ever feature the band themselves, there's a bit of a twist as Efterklang's members turn their bare torsos into canvas for footage of their Piramida excursion  shot by Andreas Koefoel, art created by frequent collaborators Hvass&Hannibal, as well as footage of the band in their new Berlin base shot director duo Oodls. All of it is blended up enough to create this pretty remarkable viewing experience where your eyes are glued to Efterklang's backs as you watch scene after scene and shot after shot play out on their skins. It's a pretty engaging video that takes a rather simple concept and really runs with it in an enticing way.

Watch Efterklang's video for "Apples":

Efterklang's fourth studio album Piramida is out now on 4AD. You can purchase it here or stream it on Spotify.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Levek - Look A Little Closer (2012)

While standing outside waiting for Conveyor/Illuminator's split 7" release show at Pianos, I revealed that that night would be my first every exposure to Gainesville's Levek. Faced with my revelation, Connor (of I Guess I'm Floating) explained to me that Levek's live set is nothing at like their recorded output - which functioned both as a ringing endorsement as well as cushion for the blow that was sure to follow.

Faced with returning to a normal existence after an absolutely amazing live set, I took solace in the only available option until their eventual return - A 9 song demo EP and a single, that is until the release announcement of Levek's debut full length Look A Little Closer. Gifted with a preview in the form of two album tracks "Black Mold Grow" and "French Lessons", it became instantly clear that Levek's full length would not only be like no other but it wouldn't even resemble the Levek I had the privilege to experience.

One of my favorite aspects about Levek remains the unclassifiable nature of David Levesque's creations, a feat that Look A Little Closer manages to hold onto even as it saunters through a varying amount of distinct musical movements. At times Levesque recalls the Brazilian pop and lounge rock stylings that made artists like Sondre Lerche stand out among a sea of songwriters but in a manner that's beyond mere imitation as an appreciation and intimate knowledge is clearly at play here. From rambling bossa nova of "Terra Treasures", Tropicalia infused "Muscat Mingle", Paul Simon-esque "Canterbury Bell", to the funky swaggering bass of "Can't Buy This Love", Look A Little Closer is a multi-layered beast that requires you to do exactly what it's name suggests.  

Anything resembling genre passes like a hit and run, Levesque's forays into notable music references fleeting or used sparingly enough to appropriately color the tracks but leave no real definitive traces. Look A Little Closer is a hard album to pin down for all the right reasons - filled with a wealth of ideas utilized effectively to create both a sense of exciting unpredictability and intimate comfort. Levek's debut is guaranteed to win you over on the first listen with each subsequent one revealing more and more of the intricacies of Levesque's expansive many-textures gems and winsome musical knowledge. Even as Levesque stitches together a multitude of influences and sounds, the album plays like a dream both in its airy, sometimes otherworldly textures and also its straight cohesiveness. Look A Little Closer is not only a work of remarkable talent but also charming uniqueness; a stunningly impressive and richly enjoyable effort from Levek.

Levek's Look A Little Closer is out now on Lefse Records. You can purchase it here as well as stream it on Spotify.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Listen: Flock of Dimes - "(This Is Why) I Can't Wear White"

I know Jenn Wasner's main band Wye Oak are totally about due for another album but surely Wasner's own solo project Flock of Dimes has enough tracks for an EP/full length to be on the horizon, right? I mean late last year we got her debut "Prison Bride" and tracks have been randomly appearing on her Soundcloud pretty much ever since. She's even releasing a 7" with Merge Records. So album me please, Flock of Dimes.

If you think I'm being too insistent, take a listen to Wasner's latest ditty "(This Is Why) I Can't Wear White", it's different from the total layered pop onslaught of "Prison Bride" in that it at least starts a bit slower and simpler. And then it starts to really rock. Although the rock doesn't quite reach the break-neck pace of "Prison Bride", it makes "I Can't Wear White" into baby making music. The bending guitar licks are downright obscene and Wasner's vocals are as sultry as they've ever been.

I might not be able to make out all the words but I'm going to assume the reason Jenn Wasner can't wear white is directly related to her ability to make sexy music.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pitstop: Landshapes

It's hard to believe it's been about three years since I was first introduced to British folk outfit Lulu and the Lampshades over on Eardrums Music. Since then the group has been more or less silently plying their trade and has most notably undergone a name change. They're now called Landshapes and in a rush of new-name fervor we're getting new tracks from the group. 

One of the most famous tracks from Landshapes in their Lulu and the Lampshades days was "Cups(You're Gonna Miss Me)"  named after their rather impressive ability to create percussive effects with a set of stackable cups and it seems they have no intentions of shelving the track anytime soon. Which is a relief since it's probably one of my favorite tracks to come from the group (Though in truth there were only about two others to choose from). Landshapes uploaded "Cups" to their bandcamp along with a new track by the name of "Cold Water" which is rather in-line with their brand of peppy harmony-laden chamber pop.  

There's also demo of a song called "Racehorse" which is rather reminscient of a slower, much less dance-y North Highlands. It's also the most down tempo track we've heard from the quartet so far so that's pretty exciting. It's not all sunshine and rainbow-tinted folk pop. Instead for "Racehorse", the quartet channel their more experimental side and really showcase some vocals. It's a refreshing change of pace, really. 


Listen: Gracie - Creature Pleaser

For those of you regular blog readers, you might be thinking "Didn't this song come out MONTHS ago?" and the answer to that would be an empathetic yes. But sometimes in the constant search for new tunes or even just new things to be excited about (that aren't particular new to anyone but myself), I lose sight of something I really meant to check out ages ago. That's more or less the story with Gracie's "Creature Pleaser".

Earlier this year when I discovered Small Plates Records, Gracie's Treehouse EP was on an positively absurd amount of repeats. And for some odd reason I neglected to check out the latest single for a hopefully soon forthcoming debut full length from now Brooklyn based pop-crafter Gracie. The best thing about not discovering "Creature Pleaser" until now is that it happened when there's relatively less albums for me to be going crazy about meaning the wide majority of my time could go toward cramming more and more of Gracie's latest jam in my ear-holes.

What makes "Creature Pleaser" so great? Well for starters it's a positively guilt-free jam from it's lively out-of-the-gate jaunt. It's an almost impossibly upbeat romp which pairs a simplistic but no less enjoyable or less layered delivery with an obvious finely crafted construction. Its melody is all-consuming, grabbing hold on you from the start. There's also the little break-down that happens midway through where everything stops and gets built back up and it's a completely modest and utterly endearing gambit for an electronic artist to employ. Exposing just how the ear-catching onslaught was created. But rather than shatter the illusion, the break helps to just pump you up even for more.

Get on your dancing shoes, Ladies and Gents. Gracie's going to make you NEED to dance.

Now Streaming: Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

After two weeks of waiting and anticipation and bated breath, the release of Lord Huron's debut full length Lonesome Dreams is almost upon us. The band have had quite the release campaign, delivering eight enigmatic but wholly enjoyable trailers, dropping a couple singles, and debuting the video for their first single "Time to Run" on NPR where you were introduced to the band's old-style Western concept. And now, the album is available for streaming right on over at NPR a week before its October 9th release date. It's been quite the year for Lord Huron and here's hoping there's more to come from the intrepid Los Angelenos.

In case you missed any of the lead up, you can listen to previously released album tracks "Time to Run", "Ends of the Earth",  "Brother (Last Ride)", and album bonus track "The Stranger" (from the 2010 Mighty EP) here:

And remember, Lord Huron's Lonesome Dreams is available October 9th on I AM Sound. Make sure to order it if you haven't already. It's gonna be a good one.