Friday, March 29, 2013

Lapland - Lapland (2013)

My introduction to Brooklyn singer/songwriter Josh Mease aka Lapland happened rather unsurprising from his likewise monikered Mike Savino aka Tall Tall Trees. Lapland's self titled debut is quite literally days old celebrating its release but a few short days ago at Mercury Lounge. Tall Tall Trees' first show in New York since embarking on a full US tour as Kishi Bashi's touring band, that alone was enough to draw my attention much less the praise Mease was receiving from other artists I dug. That was extra.

Lapland's music, specifically at first listen, is rather unlike what you'd expect from a singer/songwriter. Lyrics cast afloat upon billowing seas of dreamy textures, it seems hard to believe that everything you're hearing is almost solely the work of Mease and yet with the exception of the drums that's exactly what's happening. And while tracks like "Unwise","Memory", or "Soldier" could very well be the soundtrack of your actual dreams, Lapland benefits from a very real, human touch. Inspired by Mease' self-imposed isolation as well the kind of introspection required by most singer/songwriter to reach those interesting depths, it's Mease's silky, emotive vocals that push the songs forward; grappling them to earth when they might otherwise float away. 

While at times it sounds a bit like Patrick Watson ("Aeroplane" and "Metal Lungs" in particular), for the most part, and even in the Watson-esque songs, Mease's sound is his own. Subtly shifting genres in a way that doesn't earn eyebrow raises or set the album on a far less cohesive course than it's released on. Amid Mease's dreamy folk stylings there's colorings of jazz despite Lapland's occasional electronic hum. Unsurprising considering that like Mike Savino, Mease is a jazz musician. But the more impressive feat is how all of Mease's various loves and influences are alchemized in not only an intriguing personal style but also one that manages to be remarkably understated. That's what makes Lapland an album worth mentioning, it's travels are bump-free and svelte; it's machinations as quietly life-affirming as Mease's whisper. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Watch: Landshapes - "In Limbo"

It's taken Landshapes (formerly Lulu & The Lampshades) about five years of just existing, of playing shows in their native London to get to this moment: the release of their debut full length. On "In Limbo", the first single from their Bella Union debut, all vestiges of the cute folk pop responsible for "Feet to the Sky" or perhaps more famously "Cups (You're Gonna Miss Me)" has been burned off. In it's wake is a technically precise rock band with explosive vocal talents. The vocal chops are certainly nothing new but stripped from the rather quaint folky confines they certain do seem far more impressive. Soaring over the tumultuous, heaving guitar lines. Even sans the instrumental clamor, the vocals are distinctive; memorable.

And almost as delightfully surprising as their apparently sudden change in sound (if you live abroad and/or haven't seen them live) is the video for "In Limbo". Shot by Ian Pons Jewell in La Paz, Bolivia, follows the life of a female wrestler. It provides a vibrant glimpse into the indigenous culture while also focusing on the duality of the two female. After the woman takes her time delicately sprucing just to walk the streets and arrive to at wrestling while the others are more modestly dressed and dedicate their efforts toward fighting the other wrestlers. The female wrestlers' one moment of fashion-consciousness is short-lived as they get dressed up to enter the ring but after which they discards the costume that would no doubt encumber them.

So while it may have taken them awhile to get to this point, transforming in a lot of ways until to wholly new band, if "In Limbo" is any indication, it was labor well expelled. Landshapes has turned sleek and powerful, strong but dexterous and their debut album Rambutan promises to be something special. The full length is out May 17th on Bella Union. No world yet on a US date but here's to hoping.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pitstop: Day Joy

Clearly there's something in the water down there in Florida. That's possible the only way to explain the sudden outpouring of new bands making invigoratingly creative new music like folky Orlando band Day Joy. While last year we were introduced to the masterful song craftsmanship of Hundred Waters and Levek, this year thanks to those fine folks over at Small Plates Records, we've been gifted with Day Joy and their debut full length Go To Sleep, Mess.

Similarly to other Florida bands who are suddenly making themselves known, Day Joy's greatest feat in taking something familiar and transforming it into something new and altogether unique without diminishing its relatability. Featuring the songwriting chops of Michael Serrin and Peter Michael Perceval III, Day Joy's songs are coated in lush textural atmospheric that elevate their melancholic folk into something more.  And while the lyrics are certainly in no need of face-lifts, steeping them in differing textures gives them a sort of freshness and distinctive impact regardless of how many times you hear them.

While Day Joy's debut album is most assuredly an absolutely breath of fresh air, what's more incredible is their live set. I had the opportunity to see them not once but twice in a row and each show managed to be different but filled with a similar and electrifying energy. When Day Joy took to the stage at Secret Mountains' record release show, they played with a vivaciousness that belied the lethargy of their song's themes and moods intending quite clearly to outdo their already endearingly good show the night before. A intent they no doubt achieved. Unhampered by technical issues and filled with a well-deserved air of confidence, I can say with 100% certainty that everyone who saw them that night left a fan. As well they should.

After seeing them live, the record, while amazing, doesn't do the band enough justice. Live, their sleepy songs invoke a strange sort of excitement as you watch the layers coalesce in real time. Cello, multiple guitars, synths, banjo - it was a musical smorgasbord where each timbre was utilized effectively to create just the right kind of coloring that made your heart ache, pang, and leap especially when paired with Serrin's unexpected, emotive and strangely fitting punky shouts. Live versus on record, Day Joy are almost like two different beasts yet enjoyable all the same. If you have the opportunity to see the Florida band live, I'd most certainly recommend it but a couple dozen spins of their album is worthy of the same rigging endorsement. Check out Day Joy, you'll be glad you did.

You can purchase the debut record Go To Sleep, Mess from Small Plates Records.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Listen: Young Man - "Unfair"

I'm sure we've all at sometime in our youth regarded something as being unfair only to be chided by our adult overseer (parents, teacher, babysitter, et. al) that life isn't fair. That's sort of what's happening in this new track by Chicago based singer/songwriter Colin Caulfield aka Young Man. Rather instead of the external force needing to give the reality check, Caulfield is wholly capable of doing it himself and does so.

Featuring the same production team as Vol. 1, Beyond Was All Around Me - the final chapter in Caulfield's adolescent ruminations, seems a whole lot less introspective. Sure, the songs are still borne out of Caulfield's inward looking but the arrangements, at least that from what we've seen on "In A Sense" and now "Unfair" seem to be a lot more outwardly poppy than we've glimpsed thus far. Caulfield still comments on his thoughts and inner workings but the music around them doesn't attempt to force you to do the same. It's a balance reached rather precisely on "Unfair". The truly important lyrics like Caulfield's "Where am I supposed to go? Because I've always done what I'm told" percolate to the surface among the myriad of instrumental parts - the laid-back drums, the grooving bass, the weaving summery guitar that surround it. 

Young Man's Beyond Was All Around Me is out April 9th on Frenchkiss.

(via Stereogum)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Watch: Brooklyn Rider - "A Walking Fire"

Your eyes aren't deceiving you. This is in fact a new track from New York based string quartet Brooklyn Rider. Right off the release of last year's Seven Steps, they're offering another sampling of their own brilliant take on tunes both of their own creation and from some of their friends/collaborators.

And that's what you get here. The title track of their upcoming album A Walking Fire, due out April 30th on Mercury Classics, is another piece by Brooklyn Rider's Colin Jacobsen. From his Three Miniatures for String Quartet, the first movement mixes the clear, simple melodies of Komitas Vartapet (whose Armenian Folk Songs were featured on 2008's Passport) along with a far more virtuosic displays in the short gypsy-recalling rhapsody. Not at all surprising considering draws from the influence of Iranian composer/kemancheh player Kayhan Kalhor.

Short but oh so very sweet, it's a rather attention-grabbing though not offensively showy piece. It's enough not only to get you properly excited for the other two movements of Jacobsen's Miniatures but also A Walking Fire in general. Luckily its release date is so closely on the horizon. Until then just keep hitting replay on this live video of Brooklyn Rider playing "A Walking Fire".


Listen: Salt Cathedral - "Dirty Me"

This weekend, Salt Cathedral are getting the chance to once again flex their brilliant live chops opening up for   Hundred Waters and in celebration they've released another new track. "Dirty Me" with it's shuffling percussive intensity is another peak at their far more inticate, laser precise direction. With their Il Abanico days getting farther behind them, the Crossing Colors EP seems like a distant memory - especially when compared to the far more ambling complexity of the new tracks. With each new song, Salt Cathedral get closer to capturing their electrifying live energy and putting that out to be consumed over and over. It's not quite the same as viewing their incendiary performance yet but it's a far more realistic portrayal of what you're in for if you do see them live. So if "Dirty Me" or their "Take Me to the Sea" sound like you're kind of thing, make sure you see them live as soon as you are able like this Saturday at Glasslands Gallery, perhaps.

In case you missed it, here's Salt Cathedral's first single "Take Me to the Sea" under the new moniker.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Listen: Bowerbirds - "February"/"March"

If there's one thing I love more than my favorite bands/artists putting out more music per year it's them challenging themselves. Like other artists before them, Bowerbirds have decided for a song a month type challenge with their focus being on writing shorter songs. While one of my favorite things about Bowerbirds is their penchant for crafting absolutely gorgeous musical moments that don't really adhere to time lengths, it'll be a nice change to get some shorter tracks from the North Carolina duo. It's nice to know that they're still writing music while a tinkering away at their cabin-studio supported by their Kickstarter campaign and maybe all these flowing creative juices with give birth to the new Bowerbirds album they promised.

"February" begins with their trademark pastoral imagery and soft, plaintive guitar before breaking out into a feathery synth instrumental that's no doubt been inspired by Phil Moore's more electronic-leading side project Island Dweller and the Bowerbirds continuing evolution away from your standard folk band. It somehow manages to straddle the line between beguiling simplicity and ethereal lushness - a trait Bowerbirds seems to be masters of which they tone down a bit for these newer tracks.

While a clear line of outside inspiration can be gleamed in "February", in "March", the inspiration appears to be much more internal. Peppered with the sort of complex, tribal pulse that underscored The Clearing, it's not as much of a clean obvious break between ideas as "February". That's by no means a bad thing. "March" could fit right along with The Clearing's tracks and its brevity comes as much more of a shock. It rolls on with purpose and could easily be expanded with lovely instrumentals and harmonies. Where "February" feels truly and completely done, "March" makes you want to hear more. I know the objective of the exercise is to write shorter songs but here's hoping Bowerbirds revisit this track as it's simply too excellent to be a throwaway.

I'm thoroughly excited to see what the rest of the year brings from the Bowerbirds and their short-form experiments.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Listen: Thin Hymns - "All Around You"

Last year, when Caleb from Lands & Peoples introduced me to Chicago's Thin Hymns, I lamented that despite their interesting and catchy form of experimental pop that there they had an almost tragically meager output. Next month that's soon about to change. The Chicago quintet will be releasing Black Water, the follow up to 2011's Logic & Theory EP.

If first single "All Around You" is anything to go off, the pseudo Daniel Rossen/Grizzly Bear vibes that bubbled to the surface on Logic & Theory (especially in "Cast Aside") have pretty much been burned off. In fact "All Around You" leans in to the rather psychedelic vibe they're Logic & Theory era songs seemed to give off without ever heading full on in that direction. There's still the touches of pop-infused textural landscapes. But there's quicker grooves and deeper, more fathomless layering.

"All Around You" is more than your standard piece of psychedelica, from it's rather rapid but still jogging tempo break out of the gate, it manages to both open up broadly as well as slow down to allow a more thorough enjoyment of it's various moving parts.

Thin Hymns' Black Water EP is out April 9th. 

Listen: Wild Ones - "Golden Twin"

Sometime this year Portland indie-pop quartet Wild Ones will be releasing their debut full length and if their latest single "Golden Twin" is anything to go off, their follow up to their You're A Winner EP is going to be a an enjoyable affair.

Glimpsed briefly in previous single "It's Real" but far more evident in "Golden Twin", the sort of sugary pop of their formative years have more or less been scrubbed clean from the band, remaining purely in Danielle Sullivan's sweet, girlish vocals. But their bouncy synth pop has taken on a rockier, less pristine edge. Slightly glitchy but still fluid, Sullivan's vocals billow over the band, high enough to remain as immaculate and clear as they've been in the past without seeming entirely separate from the band's groove. All while retaining that spark that originally drew people to Wild Ones. It's just a much more mature band more able in balancing their pop hooks with instrumentals of worth.

Monday, March 11, 2013

All Around Sound is Turning Three! - Day 7 Bonus Mix: Lands & Peoples

Over the weekend (yesterday to be exact) All Around Sound officially celebrated it's third birthday and while the mix I made to herald the occasion seemed to be the last one -lo, we have a bonus mix from none other than one of my favorite new bands Baltimore's Lands & Peoples.

My discovery of Lands & Peoples came, as all good things seemed to in 2011, from my obsessive and ever-growing ARMS love. You see, in an effort to cram as much ARMS into my brain as humanly possible before Summer Skills was even announced, I stumbled upon the Big Ugly Yellow Couch. One of ARMS sessions had a suggested video of Lands & Peoples live at SXSW and intrigued I followed the link. While the Lands & Peoples I viewed there was almost in no way related to the Lands & Peoples I would come to know, the seed was already planted and those sweet, sweet harmonies had me hooked beyond belief.

After a couple emails sent back and forth to learn about them in which the remaining bands members Caleb and Beau explained a shift in musical direction, I was intrigued and soon got to reap the spoils of the musical soul-searching adventure in the form of a recorded live session. When I finally did get to see them at CMJ, my mind was utterly blown. The two were utterly in sync, trading instruments, swapping places, looping and what have you without the slightest need for a word exchanged between them. And of course, the biggest kicker was that those incredible harmonies remained. I was transfixed, astonished, and in love.

Lands & Peoples have evolved a bit since that first show but one thing remains: their questing for innovative ideas, never content to just do the same thing over, even frowning upon just becoming a loop band and seeking various methods of making their live set dynamic and engaging - a feat they achieve excellently.

So when I thought to ask several bands for contributions for All Around Sound's b-day mix extravaganza, Lands & Peoples seemed like the people to call. Caleb and I already engaging in several suggestion exchanges in the past, I looked rather forward to Lands & Peoples' mix. Unsure of just how weird it would get and or just how absolutely amazing it could possible be. True to form, my completely and utter faith in the band was rewarded.

Caleb from Lands & Peoples' contribution:

This mix will float you around the various influences that I have personally been picking up on in 2012 / thus far in 2013. In chronological order,
I've been obsessed with: 
  • Dilla-esque shuffly beat music, 
  • anything that is related to or inspired by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop,
  • my favorite band of all time Broadcast, and
  • the relatively new influx of amazing, 60s throwback pop music (or, "sounds old but is new", and JAMS)
Kicking off the mix is the only song that doesn't fit into any of those categories, and that's Ennio Morricone's main title theme music from the film "Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion".
I have no idea how I stumbled upon this, but I've listened to it about a hundred times within the last couple of months.

Thanks to Dante for being one of the nicest dude's in the game. Happy birthday to A.A.S.!!

Listen/Watch: Raindeer - "Tattoo"

Winter is almost over which means that bands far and wide are cranking out summery jams completely glossing over the season in between. Everyone that is except Baltimore's Raindeer. On "Tattoo", the first single from their upcoming album of the same name, Raindeer shelve a little bit of the effect-laden electronics from their self-titled debut in favor of a slightly more unaffected track. It's sunny but not too bright; a warm jaunt that seems to effortless recall those warmer spring days where you can laze around perhaps even without a jacket. It's almost clean, polished indie pop except with Charlie Hughes trademark quirky spin. There's still big sci-fi movie recalling synth parts (mostly in the intro/outro) but there's also slightly less of everything it seems.

In the video for the track, the Raindeer crew take the youthful energy of the tune and turn it into a full out party. There's balloons, confetti, streamers; the works. But rather than a rager, the party instead takes place as a hang among friends. The band are playing to no one in particular, arm in arm singing and smiling and smoking cigarettes. Everything is calm and laid back, very much like the track soundtracking it all.

Enjoy the video directed by Nick Hughes:
Raindeer - Tattoo from Wolf Stream on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

All Around Sound Is Turning Three! - Day 6: All Around Sound is Three!

We've reached the end of another year at All Around Sound and while this week has featured contributions from Rawkblog, The Wild Honey Pie, Small Plates Records, I Guess I'm Floating, and returning guest We Listen For You and also some rather generous contributions from several of my favorite bands/artists (Bowerbirds, Conveyor, Daughn Gibson) today is the day of celebration. Today All Around Sound is three year's old.

It's crazy to imagine that my little corner of the internet has existed for three years but here we are. All Around Sound has grown from a mere practice space to a voice (albeit a very, very small one) championing some rather delightfully good music (in my humble opinion). Like last year, I felt it necessary to include at least a few of the people who helped steer my blog in the right direction: the bloggers who bring new exciting things to my attention as well as make what would otherwise be a very isolated solo venture a bit more fun AND the band/artists whose music I have absolutely fallen in love with and who have introduced me to so many other bands as a result.

Unlike last year where my playlist's concept was a musical retrospective- a compilation of my favorite things I've blogged about in All Around Sound's years of existence, this year I figured I'd end the week-long celebration with something a bit more special that keeps in line with one of my favorite ways to discover music. My contribution titled The End is the Beginning is named after the Lower Dens track that closes last year's Nootropics, the mix consists mostly of a set of pairs - a band  I've grown to love that I stumbled upon through one way or another and a band that I've been introduced to by the first band. There's also bands/artists introduced to me by other blogs that have contributed in All Around Sound's birthweek celebration as well as bands that have called it quits but are still very near and dear to my heart/constantly on rotation.

- Dante

Thank you yet again to everyone who contributed to this year's blog birthday celebration as well as to any/all of you who read All Around Sound. Even if just in passing. It means the world to me that anyone seems to care about my small corner of the Internet and I hope you find the same enjoyment from the bands I write about that I do.

Friday, March 8, 2013

All Around Sound is Turning Three! - Day 5 Bonus Mix: Bowerbirds

photo by Cara Robbins
Sometimes all you have to do is ask. That's what they say anyway. My relationship with the North Carolina folk turned art rock twosome turned moresome Bowerbirds began as a rather one-sided affair.

Jumping from Myspace band page to Myspace band page as a way to discover music, I came across the Bowerbirds. Charmed by their wholesome homespun eco-friendly folk, I gobbled up every bit of music I could from them. Gathering up albums, watching Youtube videos (both live and not) on almost endless loop, I was utterly enchanted. I also happened to get into the band right when they finished a Fall/Winter tour and retreated to their NC haunt to build their cabin, rest for the winter, and work on new material. Newly initiated into the world of concert-going it pained me that I wouldn't be able to experience the absolute musical splendor in a live setting but I settled for listening to almost nothing but Bowerbirds for the whole summer. How I managed to make it to the end of the summer without losing each and every one of my friends to my non-stop fits of Bowerbirds obsession will remain an unsolved mystery, I'm sure.

As I grew older, my love stabilized, I was able to listen to other things and return to the Bowerbirds without feeling like I was cheating on them by not devoting my every free moment to putting as much of them in my ears as humanly possible. I got the opportunity to see them live for the first time in 2010. It was everything I had imagined and then some. I also got to meet Phil ( a charming little story involving an unexpected run in outside the venue, a proclivity for awkward conversations, and an attempt at a  pretty bad joke that came out to sounding like a rather serious statement). The experience while fleeting put my band love into a odd sort of perspective that made their extended hibernation to create/record new music not feel like some sort of punishment enacted upon their fans but a necessary step toward many more shows.

When the Bowerbirds returned last year with The Clearing, their follow up to 2009's Upper Air, it was an exciting moment. I got to see them twice in one year in remarkably different configurations - mini-orchestra versus electronic-leaning threesome and something else happened: I got to properly meet the band. Our interactions started on Twitter as I expressed my obvious pleasure in their new record and they tended to my excitement with a stabilizing hand much like you'd use to settle an over-excited puppy. There was an urge for genuine friendship that the Bowerbirds not only seemed to allow but also return. With my blog birthday looming over the horizon and the Bowerbirds nesting for the forseeable future I had the idea to simply ask the Bowerbirds for a mix. To my delight and bewilderment, they said yes. To further my confusion they seemed honored that I'd even considered asking them in the first place.

It's MY great honor to present to you Bowerbirds contribution to my blog birthday celebration:
We compiled our Tape-Hiss Mix-Tape.  All songs recorded before we were born on sweet analog tape.  Mostly good chill stuff.

All Around Sound is Turning Three! - Day 5: We Listen For You

If you've been following All Around Sound with any sort of regular consistency or even just tuned in for last year's blog birthday celebration you might be a little confused. Didn't I already feature We Listen For You as a part of last year's selection? Yes. That much is true. The fact remains that We Listen For You has undergone a rather admirable set of changes and remains so absolutely inspiring and influential to me that it only seemed apt to feature them yet again. Also: I can do whatever the hell I want.

Turning their backs on the first-to-post mentality that governs many a blog and instead focusing on properly taking the time to not only ingest what is coming out but formulate some sort of worthwhile opinion of it, that alone should be enough to earn pretty much everlasting love for We Listen For You. That is, besides the ardent passion by which the two co-founders demonstrate on a fairly daily basis but they also tapped some rather exceptional writers to join their team that's resulted in a far greater scope than the two achieved on their own. Don't get me wrong, I still appreciate and prefer Hank & Zach's contributions to the blogosphere and thoughts on music in general but their embrace of change as a means to better serve the conversation about music they hold so dear is damn endearing. It's also pretty galvanizing. We could all hope to be as engaging, as sincere, as consumed with passion.

So this year, I once again asked Zach to step up to the plate to represent We Listen For You:

In 1963, Lesley Gore broke out with the infectious song, “It’s My Party”, a happy sounding song that if the listener is really paying attention is a dark tune filled with themes of humiliation, seclusion, and the feeling of being an outsider.  With All Around Sound’s birthday I thought the best gift I could give is to stip myself down emotionally and for the first time admit to the ten songs that have or still make me cry.  What’s funny is that while these songs are dark or depressing, the to this date also remain as some of my favorites.  It’s in this the power of music is revealed, good or bad, happy or sad, music can make us feel emotions that are only rivaled by the up and down events of life itself.

Sparklehorse – “Gold Day”

While walking through a bad snow, coming at me in all directions, this song began to play on my iPod.  I stood, frozen, while snow hit my face in all directions.  For some reason I was no longer cold.  All that mattered was this song.

Nick Drake – “Things Behind The Sun”

My favorite song of all time and I get water in the eyes every time it plays without fail.

Sufjan Stevens – “The Predatory Wasp…”

This emotional song was a soundtrack over and over when I had a friend who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  It became a song that would forever be attached to tragedy and holds more weight because of its powerful emotion/sensitive timing.

Elliott Smith – “2:45”
The last Elliott Smith song I played hours before I learned of Smith’s death.  It is the song I try to avoid more than any other.  Every time I go back to learning of a hero gone forever.

Gene McDaniels – “Another Tear Falls”
Because of this:

Of Montreal – “Montreal”

I would argue that “Montreal” is one of the bleakest and most emotional breakup songs ever written.  Whenever I lose love, this is the song I turn to.

Glen Campbell – “Ghost On A Canvas”

Glen Campbell’s final bow and life summed up in a single song written by Paul Westerberg.  As Campbell is being overtaken by Alzheimer’s, “Ghost On A Canvas” is a heartbreaking yet optimistic song that contemplates the immortality of an artist.

The Fiery Furnaces – “Evergreen”

One of my favorite songs of all time and the only song played live that made my eyes water.  The Fiery Furnaces are my favorite contemporary band and I had seen them around twenty times before attending their New Years Eve 2010 concert.  Even seeing them that many times, they had never played my favorite song “Evergreen”.  With about four mintues left in 2009, The Fiery Furnaces launched into “Evergreen” and I couldn’t believe the serendipity of it all.  The last song of the decade that made me fall in love with music was wrapped up with the one song I desperately wanted to hear live.

Vashti Bunyan – “If I Were”

I really can’t explain why this one touches me.  The song seems to wobble between happy and sad…it’s that shifting emotion that I believe captures how I feel about life and thus wrecks me every time.

Johnny Cash – “Hurt”
It’s tragic and powerful.  I cry almost every time the old footage montage plays in this video:

It’s a reminder that even the biggest of legends fall eventually and more importantly artists can live on through the immortality of what they leave behind.

Listen: Laura Marling - "Where Can I Go?"

Last year there was a rumor that British folk songstress Laura Marling would be releasing an album by year's end. She had been working on it almost immediately after wrapping up her tour supporting A Creature I Don't Know and excitement was high. Now that the speculated release date has come and gone, the real news has spread from Marling's camp as well it should. There's not a whole lot we have to go off just yet but Marling's fourth studio record Once I Was An Eagle is intended to be a more cozy, intimate affair than her past two records have been. And news from Marling claims that the new album "reflects on the darker themes of A Creature I Don't Know". What that'll mean in terms of the album's overall direction we won't know until Marling decides to let more out.

Until then there's a new track we should all be excited about. "Where Can I Go?" rambles in the windswept plains of "Salinas" or "Don't Ask Me Why" - an upbeat acoustic number where Marling's continued talent for wonderfully crafted phrases is paired with a rather sparse but lush accompaniment. It's themes of desire mixed with a sort of casual feeling of abandonment form a logical bridge between A Creature I Don't Know and the new record. It'll be interesting to see what other paths Marling's lyrics tread or whether she simply uses new narratives to tread pre-established ones but one thing is clear: "Where Can I Go?" sees Marling refreshed and ready to face her darker thoughts with the sense of wisdom and badassery that Marling displays so effortless. Marling is back and stronger than ever, displaying her power not with a sultry roar like her previous return in "Sophia" but in a calmer sort of coo.

Laura Marling's Once I Was An Eagle will be out May 28th in the US/May 27th in the UK. Get ready, it's sure to be an interesting journey.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

All Around Sound Is Turning Three! - Day 4 Bonus Mix: Conveyor

I discovered Brooklyn experimental pop quartet Conveyor oddly enough in an almost completely non-musical instance. Though they were being pretty regularly pushed by We Listen For You, I wasn't aware of their existence into I ran into two of their members outside of the We Listen For You showcase at CMJ in 2011. They were considerably good sports about my anti-Brooklyn declarations and statements that I'd never see them live if it wasn't in Manhattan. They mentioned their love of ARMS and an attempt to play to show together and my tune more or less changed. I went home and checked them out and fell absolutely in love.

On their Sun Ray EP, Conveyor created a sort of oddly minimalistic sort of pop that I hadn't really encountered before. The lyrics functioned much like another instrument in their band - constant, threading everything together but not assuming total dominance over the intricate layers of instrumentation happening. Their self-titled debut was an astounding aural sunburst - a bright, jubilant, many-textured thing that drew listeners to it like a lantern attracts insects.

Since hearing them, I've always been curious what's been in their ears and going on in their heads. To the point of that being an almost entire basis for the interview I did with them. So when I went about seeking collaborators for this year's blog birthday celebration, Conveyor sprung to mind. It'd be another and perhaps more fluid attempt at understanding the sounds that perhaps shaped their own unique sound. I wasn't disappointed. Conveyor's mix is as cohesive as their music tends to be. Sunny and vibrant while slopping in and out of an accessible kind of quirkiness. It's a mix that fits the spirit of Conveyor to a tee.

TJ from Conveyor's contribution:
I tend to think of mixes as like albums, so usually I end up with 10 or so songs, almost an hour of music, that demonstrate some sort of logical progression.  I also try to stay within a familiar realm and be obtuse at the same time; these are mostly names you know and mostly songs you do not.  This particular mix starts out heavy: faux-'60s psychedelia says what we all think we want to be saying, and David Byrne turns that thought upside down but keeps it danceable.  From agitated white folks to the "real deal," Fela poses as a Londoner before the lost Wilson brother gets typically more lost.  Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel are there almost like familiar signposts so that I can sneak in an unassuming favorite of mine, XTC.  Still in love but feeling oppressed, the Crystals know what I mean.  Cool it down with post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys, and finally let Talk Talk talk me out of it.  I guess this mix is about being in love??
All Around Sound by teenajer on Grooveshark

All Around Sound is Turning Three! Day 4: I Guess I'm Floating

In just a couple days All Around Sound enters its third year! Celebrate with a week of mixes created by friends/influencers of the blog!

As seems to be the way, my happening upon I Guess I'm Floating happened in a rather roundabout way. During my first ever CMJ back in 2011, I had the great fortune of accidentally attending a showcase put together by Andriana over at Gluttony Is The New Black along with her pal Dave. After enjoying the rather eclectic showcase for Bigger Brush Media, I ran into Andriana later while grabbing tacos with Zach from We Listen For You. I recognized her from the showcase and introduced myself and she in turn introduced me to each and every member of her posse. And continued to do so every time I ran into her. Eventually when Andriana visited months later, she dragged me to a bar where several of her friends were hanging. One of which was Connor from I Guess I'm Floating. When asked if I knew of I Guess I'm Floating, she seemed absolutely incredulous when I stated I did not.

Turns out I was always dimly aware of I Guess I'm Floating's existence via my obsessive following of Eardrums music blog. You see every month, a bunch of blogs from all over the world would convene for the Music Alliance Pact - all offering up a track from their country that they felt best represented them. I Guess I'm Floating was the American blog.

Since my actual discovery of I Guess I'm Floating, I make sure to pay attention to what Connor and Nathaniel have to share. There's a strange sort of pride in knowing that many of the bands I love are great loves of theirs as well. Young Man, Hundred Waters, Lands & Peoples, ARMS? IGIF not only champions them proudly but also introduced me to them, premiering tracks that go on to be my absolute favorite. One of my favorite things about I Guess I'm Floating is despite being so popular, they don't deal exclusively with the big names instead focusing on what they're sure you're not listening to and should be. They do a rather great job of picking things slightly under the radar that appeal to a wide majority of people. It's accessible without being lowest common denominator and it's a feature of I Guess I'm Floating that I enjoy. They also have absolutely great taste in showcases featuring not only a rather great handful of bands at festivals but also for one-off shows at home.

Considering our similar tastes and approaches to running a music blog, it seemed pretty fitting to ask Connor over at I Guess I'm Floating for a mix. And what I got was certainly an interesting mix. A power hour mix Connor originally started working on in college, it's a heaping helping of indie-rock when it was in its heyday. Well that and a smattering of other things thrown in too. The mix covers a pretty wide range of music history in but a short period of time, surrendering to a kind of musical ADHD we all have but try to pretend we don't. It jumps from refrain to refrain, hook to hook, featuring some of the most memorable parts of a particular song and some not so familiar parts in others. See how many bands you can properly guess in the lightning quick snippets that compose the hour-long mix.

Connor of I Guess I'm Floating's contribution:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Watch: Brazos - "Charm" (Live at Braund Sound)

One of the most agonizing things about discovering a band during the album recording process is just how long you have to wait to hear the songs you grew to love. Since discovering Brooklyn-via-Austin indie rock trio Brazos in the summer, it's certainly been quite the wait. But with details of their forthcoming sophomore record now out (Saltwater out via Dead Oceans on May 28th), the band is getting out and about a lot more often. This is particularly great new because the new songs are pretty incredible and of a wholly different breed than those on their debut Phosphorescent Blues.

Don't believe me? Check out this live session the trio did at Braund Sound featuring Saltwater track "Charm". It's downright glorious. And a pretty fair indicator of how great the band is live so if you have the opportunity to see them live, do it. Whether that be at the slew of dates they have line up at this year's SXSW (frontman Martin Crane's triumphant return to his home-state) or at their upcoming April residency at Union Pool in Brooklyn. There's pretty much no excuse not too see them and believe me, it's certainly worth it.


All Around Sound is Turning Three! - Day 3 Bonus Mix: Daughn Gibson

Last year, the inadvertent discovery of Daughn Gibson through the strange yet not that strange happenstance of him playing a show with ARMS brought the genre-bending incredibleness of All Hell to my knowledge. It's an album I probably wouldn't have sought out myself, especially considering the terms people used to describe it. Largely electronic based with a sort of country swagger. Those two blended together just didn't compute and yet a blind listen proved that it was a thing I was very much into. 

So when I had the idea of spicing up the blog birthday with a series of mixes by bands I like (a tradition started last year by ARMS' Todd Goldstein in a strange yet not that strange twist), it seemed completely natural to ask Daughn Gibson for his input. It was a mix I was excited about getting because I had absolutely no expectations about what would be on it. What kind of genre mashups would I get? It was pretty much unfathomable to me what I'd be receiving so I set my brain to other matters. And of course, true to form, Daughn Gibson's contribution both makes a strange sort of sense and manages to be head-scratching at the same time (especially if you're not familiar with the man). A lengthy album-centric mix that hops from heavy metal, rap, classic rock, and folk, it pretty much covers the wide gamut of genres as we know them. I'd expected nothing. 

Daughn Gibson's contribution: 
Blut Aus Nord - "The Work Which Transforms God" - Imagine suffering the trauma of war while under the influence of a sleazy, psychotropic drug. Guitars that swarm and overwhelm without ever articulating a decipherable riff.
Steve Gunn - "Time Off" - Sunday morning driving music. Beautiful repetitions, incredible guitar playing, memorable songwriting. On repeat.
Fleetwood Mac - "Tango in the Night" - When I find myself in a dark place, this brings me into the light.

Stone Temple Pilots - "Purple" - Not much else conjurs a sweet nostalgia for me like "Purple" This album is how I learned to play drums and was the soundtrack to a family vacation to Delaware, where I met a girl on the beach and was cool for the first time.
Chief Keef - "Finally Rich"  At 3 o'clock everyday I go to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and put this on, loud.through the drive thru.

Steve Gunn's album isn't out at this time so instead there's two videos featuring tracks off of Time Off. One a live video featuring the trio he assembled for the album, another a studio session featuring Gunn solo. 

All Around Sound Is Turning Three! - Day 3: Small Plates Records

With the large pool of music out there to consume it sometimes to have a stable, reliable source to tap for good picks. Better yet if they're actually the ones releasing the music. It's kind of inevitable (at least if you do it right) that you fall into the caring embrace of a label whose rosters is filled with great bands. Dead Oceans, Frenchkiss, Sub Pop, the choices seems pretty much endless but every once in awhile a small label pops up that has exactly what you want without you being at all aware of it. Enter Small Plates Records.

Despite knowing several of their fellas behind the scenes, my knowledge of the label actually came, as it should, from the bands they've worked with. Many of my obsessions over the past year or so have either worked with them or spoke highly off them. Before Guards released their debut full length this year, they had a three song 7" with Small Plates. High Highs, Hands, and Gracie all released EPs. Even signed bands like Hundred Waters found a way to work with the Small Plates Records crew - releasing a two song 7" full of special alternative versions of arguably two of the best tracks off their self-titled debut.

To say I regard the work the small label is doing with nothing but the deepest admiration and respect would be an understatement. So it only seemed fitting to ask a label responsible for not only some of my favorite releases of the past year but also some of my most anticipated releases of this year (I'm looking at you Bleeder EP and Stadium Red Sessions) to contribute in this little celebration of others who've had a definite influence over All Around Sound. Hope you enjoy.

Eamon at Small Plates Records' contribution:
Almost all the tracks were ripped from really filthy vinyl 45s- mainly mid to late 90s dancehall versions on labels from Kingston. Two of the tracks are on the Rhythm and Sound label out of Germany that was doing great digital dub singles in the early 00s.

1. King Asha - Crank Angle Part 2
2. Power Man - Nuff Respect (Virgin Island Jazzwad Version)
3. Lady Saw & Merciless - Long Til It Bend (Version)
4. Beenie Man - Yaw Yaw (Version)
5. Rhythm & Sound w/ Paul St. Hilaire - Jah Rule (Jah Version)
6. Deenie Ranks - Slam and Go Talk (Version)
7.Merciless ft. Diana - Have A Nice Weekend (Version)
8. Rocker-T - A New Revelation (Version)
9. Rhythm & Sound w/ Shalom - We Been Troddin (Troddin Version)
10. Lloyd Brown - You Got It Goin On (Version)
11. Aaron Silk - Black Power (Jazz-Wad Version)
12. Scare Dem II - Real Thing ($Casino$ Jazzwad Version)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Young Dreams - Between Places (2013)

Bergen, Norway's second largest city, tends to be a particularly rainy place. So it makes a strange sort of sense that instead of writing gloomy, dismal ballads that instead the Norwegian sextet Young Dreams turns toward warmer climes crafting a sort of bright, dreamy, and most importantly sunny style of tropical infused pop rock.

While largely marketed as a orchestral pop band, the real surprise of Between Places is that there's much more at play in Young Dreams than that. Sure, there's some rather stellar string arrangements featured among many of its key songs (The dazzling "Fog of War" outro immediately springs to mind) but the majority of Young Dreams' members wield very rock-friendly instruments. There's no denying a symphonic influence, especially when listening to sprawling 10 minute opus "The Girl That Taught Me To Drink And Fight" and its delicate ebb and flow or the choir-like stylings of "Through the Turnstiles" but many of the tracks on the album take their marching orders not from the classical-leanings but instead a very evident desire for pop mastery. They're ear-catching, the melodies simple and clear; a sort of foot-tapping danceability scattered among most of them.  It's the best of both worlds, actually. The poppy lilt carrying the songs forward while the arrangements transform them into truly memorable musical moments. The sweeping string ornaments making Young Dreams' ability to pull at heartstrings even more successful, more pronounced. 

Between Places is escapism at it's finest. Not only channeling the Bergen six-piece's dreams of greener, less wet pastures but also suiting up their love songs in all sorts of fancy dressings. That's not to say all the songs rely as heavily on fantastical narratives like "Fog of War" and it's gladiator epic but they're far more than your typical sappy love songs. On Between Places, Young Dreams tap into exactly how it feels to be in the midst of youth; hopeful, passionate, vaguely nostalgic but always forward-looking. 

Young Dreams' incredible debut record Between Places is out now worldwide. You can stream it here as well as buy it from the wide majority of retailers. I highly recommend doing so. 

All Around Sound Is Turning Three! - Day 2: The Wild Honey Pie

In a couple days, All Around Sound turns three. To celebrate, we're continuing last year's tradition of featuring mixes from friends/influencers of the blog. Enjoy!

My introduction to The Wild Honey Pie happened through a chance meeting with staff photographer/videographer Alex Munro at Conveyor's record release show. We happened to have a mutual friend there, got along famously, and afterwards would trade music suggestions based on small amount we knew of one another's tastes as well as old-fashioned excitement to share over Twitter. A lot of Alex's suggestions would be bands featured in the Wild Honey Pie's Buzzsessions and/or Honey I'm Home Sessions. It was a strange sort of chance that I happened to meet other staff members as I showed up to various events like one of their co-sponsored CMJ shows or their 3rd Birthday show. While I showed up for the bands, it was after the absolutely stacked with talent birthday show that I realized The Wild Honey Pie is a site I should be paying a hell of a lot more attention to.

While there's a whole lot of worth going on on The Wild Honey Pie, one of my favorite things and the most immersive, time-consuming thing I find myself invested in are their Buzzsessions. Beautifully shot and featuring  absolutely fantastic bands flexing their live chops in an intimate setting, the Buzzsessions are pretty much one of the best things The Wild Honey Pie offers. Something truly unique, and interesting, and truly worthwhile and apparently I'm not alone in that thinking. For The Wild Honey Pie's playlist contribution founder/head bee Eric Weiner chose some of his favorite buzzsessions (which also happen to contain some of my own) as well as a couple of his favorite new tracks.

Eric contribution:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Buke & Gase - General Dome (2013)

It's hard to imagine Brooklyn experimental pop duo Buke & Gase actually attempting to do an "experimental" record but that's what they claimed the Function Falls EP was. Born from their cover of New Order's "Blue Monday", Function Falls explored the duo's songwriting process in a way rather unexpected for the band: relying mostly in part on their own creative improvisations with occasional alterations made by computer. Though it was created after they began work on the new full length, Function Falls points a bit toward what we got in General Dome.

Truth be told, General Dome is like Riposte in a lot of ways. Featuring it's fair-share of short musical interludes and mucking about lyrically in psychology. General Dome psychological themes just happen to be a lot of more insistent, more unsettled than Riposte's. Not surprising considering the sophomore record dwells in darker, less stable debts. Yet that unnerving sense of unease becomes thrilling in the able hands of the duo.

Though they tread in a similar but not congruent territory to Riposte and though they've majorly upgraded their many homemade inventions - including the Buke and Gase in which they derive their names, the real star of the new album is the vocals. On General Dome, Aron Sanchez slips slightly more into spotlight as he trades verse on "In the Company of Fish" and contributes occasional harmonies elsewhere.

But of course, Arone Dwyer's fully on display vocals are what give the songs the majority of their power. Their instruments help establish a mood, sure, but it's through Dwyer's ability to effortless glide from a whisper to a shriek that imbues General Dome with its sense of tension. Yes, even at their most cacophonous, their most rambunctious, the instruments (buke, gase, bass drums, tambourines, etc.) are all rather secondary to the pure versatility of Dwyer's voice. The lyrics might not always be clear but whether or not you can make them out, but Dwyer's vocals still manage to carry them.

So while Buke & Gase might've set out to truly experiment on the Function Falls EP, General Dome manages to remain a highly memorable, intriguingly complex thrill-ride that contains all the quirk the band is known for. The vocals are occasionally affected but the melodies strongly catching and ever clear. General Dome's similarity to Riposte ends up just being that of an incredibly fluid, cohesive album with unique, interesting narratives. The duo have obviously grown and while there are a few directly noticeable changes, there are more subtle factors at play that elevate General Dome above the sophomore slump, over just an okay album, and right onto the shelf of unbelievably incredible records right alongside its predecessor.      

Hear a couple tracks from General Dome here:

All Around Sound Is Turning Three! - Day 1: Rawkblog

In a little less than a week (March 10th to be exact), All Around Sound will be entering it's third year of operation. To help ring in the occasion I thought I'd offer another smattering of playlists belovedly curated by friends of the blog/myself as well as influencers of both my taste and the blog's direction on occasion.

Kicking off the week is Rawkblog, run by LA-based music journalist David Greenwald. My relationship with  Dave is one I wouldn't take likely. Our music tastes are separate for the most part connected at its strongest by a love of indie rock/pop. Dave's single-handedly responsible for me checking out Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel.... His biggest success/influence, to me at least comes in the form of his digital music club. For $2.99/month and a free subscription to Spotify, each week he sends out his picks for album of the week as well as an older album he feels pairs well with the album as well as a monthly mixtape. That's a lot of music.  In a lot of ways, Dave is responsible for the whole mixtape run on All Around Sound. He also gives some rather excellent behind the scenes help like advice on interviews. We may differ on a few hundred issues like what's an acceptable song of the year (Usher's "Climax" it is not) but overall, I have trust in Dave's taste and look forward to his weekly offerings.

Dave's Contribution - I Came All This Way:
I have a special place in my heart for "unpopular pop," a sorta-genre coined by Jon Brion and first applied to his circle of friends, collaborators and Largo players circa '99: people including Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, Fiona Apple, Badly Drawn Boy, Aimee Mann and others you, uh, probably haven't heard of. Brion's concept rings truer than ever: for bands not candy-coated enough for the mainstream but not fashionable or weird enough for the underground, it's easy to get left on the shelf. For this mixtape, I compiled some of my favorite unpopular pop: picks from underappreciated bands, secret classics from better-known acts and Trashcan Sinatras' "Freetime," the best Britpop song ever recorded, Coachella headliners be damned. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Listen: Empress Of - "Hat Trick"

There's time when you hear a band talked to so favorably for such a long time that you're almost afraid to check them out for fear they won't live up to  hype. In this case it wasn't a blog or music site overhyping a band, it was Caleb over at Epic Concoction just sharing his fandom in the a show of repetitive concert visits and countless Instagram of the band's live sets detailing their amazingness. I wasn't too sure what to expect but I'm glad I took the time to indulge in Caleb's obvious enjoyment of Empress Of.

In "Hat Trick", the first single from the upcoming Systems EP, Empress Of's appeal is widely apparent. Dreamy, shimmering synth landscapes serve as a showcase for Lorely Rodriguez's nimble vocals. There's laid back beats and an almost lackadaisical forward momentum as the tune chugs along at its own pace. It's layered but revealingly simple at the same time, allowing space between it various moving parts and always making sure that Rodriguez's vocals are front, center, and fully able to flex.