Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Listen: Bowerbirds - "July"

Another month draws to a close which of course means another song in Bowerbirds' ongoing shortform song experimentation series Small Songs from a Small Tiny House. If you thought that some of the songs before were a bit unlike what you've come to expect from Bowerbirds than you're in for possibly one of those most jarring experiences. "July" is as un-Bowerbirds like as possible, really. If you caught Bowerbirds' last tour as a three-piece where they unveiled their side project Island Dweller, then you'll have some idea what's going on.

Featuring beats and some high-pitched synth noddling, "July" falls into a sort of R&B-esque realm. There's still Bowerbirds trademark nature imagery but other than that, it's a pretty stark contrast from the Bowerbirds you'd be familiar with. "July" has a bit of an anthemic call to arms with a noticeable Bob Marley inspiration. It's actually pretty good and  highly enjoyable once you get over the initial shock of Bowerbirds leaping so far away from their art-pop/folky sound. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Watch: Salt Cathedral - "Fields"

Brooklyn fivesome Salt Cathedral (formerly known as Il Abanico) have been making big waves as of late. Today marks the release of their self-titled EP, the first collection of new music since their name change earlier this year and it's full of those tropical beat inflected experimental pop rock jams. Case in point: "Fields"

The beautifully shot video, directed by SoftSpot's Sarah Kinlaw, features the shuffling glistening jam along with a rather unique story of a man in love with the ocean. In his home he has actresses put on a little puppet show before deciding that simply won't do and embarking out in the wilds of the world in a sort of low budget Hazmat suit to experience it himself. The video is the perfect blend of stunning, kind of weird, and slightly confusing that it just works. All the while it features Salt Cathedral vocalist Juliana Ronderos' fluttering bird song like vocals that soar high above the track's intricate psychedelic beat-intensive grooves.

You can now purchase Salt Cathedral's 5 song EP digital or on vinyl which I highly recommend here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Listen: Writer - "IE"

Garage pop duo Writer may have just released their debut album Brotherface this past October but that's certainly not going to stop them from releasing new music it seems. The Brothers Ralph have a new 7" "I Make Neon" out August 6th and have offered up a preview in the form of cacophonous rabblerousing jam "IE". Despite the ever present clatter, Writer still manage to convey a sense of laid back cool as the track plows forward at walking tempo. There's a moment of sudden unexpected clarity that happens and the Ralphs engage in a bit of harmonic interplay. It's pretty nifty and goes an long way in establishing that this track isn't a long lost Brotherface cut. 

Writer's "I Make Neon" 7" in out August 6th on digital and August 31st on a limited edition clear vinyl via Nineteen98. You can preorder the 7" now. 

Listen: Johnny Flynn - "The Lady is Risen"

Well finally. UK folk singer/songwriter Johnny Flynn has certainly kept himself busy - mostly with plays and a couple shows but the news of an new album, a follow up to 2010's Been Listening, has hung around for a bit. Not quite announced but always seeming very well like it could/would be for at least the past year and finally that day is upon us. Country Mile, Johnny Flynn's third full length album will be out September 30 on Transgressive and Flynn is ringing in the occasion with a short tour.

Our first peak of Johnny Flynn's new album comes in the form of "The Lady is Risen", a new track Flynn debuted last year during a short tour between commitments and well, it's excellent. Where Flynn's previous musical ventures have recalled very specific times in folk song canon, "The Lady is Risen" kind of ignores all that in favor of just simple folk melodies and Flynn's ever increasing poetic lyricism. Flynn's band The Sussex Wit are used deftly, offering just enough musical padding and ornamental flourishes to make their presence known without at any point overwhelming Flynn and his guitar.

Meanwhile the lyric video is a combination word jumble, anagram, and word search which is pretty darn cool. September 30th sure cannot come quick enough. Enjoy "The Lady is Risen":

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Listen: Mutual Benefit - "Advanced Falconry"

I've made absolutely no secret about the fact that Boston dream-pop maestro Mutual Benefit was far and above one of my favorite discoveries at FMLY Fest Brooklyn. Unaware of what I was in for, I was rewarded with aural bliss - a silky smooth and comfortable blanket of sound. One of my favorite songs of the set featured violinist Jake Falby called "Advanced Falconry" and apparently I can now listen to it whenever I want!

No longer do I have to just imagine what it felt like or seek out live videos. I can now download the first cut from Mutual Benefit's upcoming full length Love's Crushing Diamond and just bliss out wherever - on walks out in nature, in the dark in my room on a warm summer night, at picnics, at grad parties, you name it - I will be playing "Advanced Falconry" there. This is simply the best news. I urge you to listen to arrestingly beautiful track because it's more awe-inspiring than words can possibly express. Here's hoping details about Mutual Benefit's upcoming full length come out soon because if there's more songs like "Advanced Falconry" on it, I would like to own them.


Watch: Fiona Apple - "Hot Knife"

A little more than a year after it has made it's way into the world, "Hot Knife" arguably my favorite track off Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel... gets a music video. Remember The Master? Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson was tapped for Fiona Apple latest video and the results are visually quite appealing.

Playing off of the tracks many layers, the simply shot video basically takes the form of recreating the song from all its base elements. The opening shot features Apple playing the timpani so prominently featured, before slowly incorporating through the use of split screens of Apple and her sister's canon. The visual style feeds directly off of the track's ever growing build as more are more split screens are incorporated and you get a sense of just how many plates Apple has spinning in the air during "Hot Knife". Just when you think the whole thing is going to collapse on itself, everything reverts to normal, to a single shot of first sister Maude, then Apple before grinding to its eventual end.

One of my favorite visual treats was the sudden shift from black and white to a warm light-bathed Apple right as she smiled. A further reminder of the cathartic nature of "Hot Knife", the one track on The Idler Wheel... not tangled up in self-doubt or even self-analysis. 

Listen: Lucius - "Hey, Doreen"

After their most recent announcement of signing to Mom + Pop, Brooklyn retro-pop outfit Lucius have wasted little time continuing the spree of good news. This fall, their much anticipated debut album Wildewoman will finally be released. October 15th will be a great day, mark my words.

If "Until We Get There" wasn't enough to satiate your need for new Lucius, they five-some have returned with the sassy "Hey, Doreen" which is rather unlike anything we've heard from them before. Sure, there's the same doo-wop & 60s girl group inspired sounds the group regular draws on but like "Until We Get There", "Hey, Doreen" is another band-centric gem. The ladies powerhouse vocals and trademark harmonies aren't spotlighted this time out, instead utilized during the most sumptuous of band grooves. "Hey, Doreen" is nearly 5 minutes of unadulterated jam and it's an infectious rumpshaker if their ever was on.

It's amazing the level of band growth Lucius has undergone in about a year and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. Wildewoman is going to a very special record. Until it's October release date, I'll be bumping "Hey, Doreen" and so should you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Listen: Basia Bulat - "Tall Tall Shadow"

Since my discovery of her little over a year ago when she opened for Bowerbirds, Basia Bulat has been hinting at a brand new album coming out. Now the wait is almost over as Bulat's new album Tall Tall Shadow will be out this Fall - October 1st to be quite exact.

After experiencing her absolutely spellbinding live performance one of my chief concerns was the lack of that same power on many of her recordings. Don't get me wrong, her albums are great but they often lacked the greater level of intensity, of power, and of arresting rawness that her live set so brilliantly displayed. There's something to be said for a live show being far better than a recording but this time out I was hoping there would be far less of a difference between Basia Bulat's live and studio output. My wishes have apparently been granted on lead album single "Tall Tall Shadow".

The spillover of live versus studio recording is slight but appreciated. Not featuring the vast variety of instruments Bulat has in her arsenal, the real difference is just how strong her vocals seem to be. They don't start out full tilt, of course. As the song softly plods and winds up, Basia Bulat lets her vocals truly soar in a way previously unexperienced - unfettered, free, still fitting within the confines of the recording but swelling up and truly making themselves known.  When you have the set of pipes Basia Bulat has it's a shame not to use them to the best of your ability and on "Tall Tall Shadow", I think for the first time we experience them as they're truly meant to. I have high hopes for Tall Tall Shadow and so should you. October 1st surely can't come quick enough.

 Basia Bulat's third studio album Tall Tall Shadow will be out October 1st on Secret City Records.

Watch: Friend Roulette - "Rocket Dog"

If you follow Brooklyn chamber pop sextet Friend Roulette's career with any kind of consistency, you might remember last year they went into a session at Converse Rubber Tracks studio to recorded a couple songs. While we really only got a sneak peek at what that might entail in Friend Roulette's Rubber Tracks video featuring snipped of "Just Woke Up", we're finally to hear at last one of the songs recorded there in full in "Rocket Dog"

While Friend Roulette are noteable for their psychedelic deviations among brilliant buoyant pop melodies, they are also very skilled balladeers. Look at "Or Berlin" or "Golden" off their recently released debut record I'm Sorry You Hit Your Head and you'll be hard pressed to find more soothing, sincere examples of balladry. Well, enter "Rocket Dog".

The video by Alexander Hunter and Nicolas Cadena features Friend Roulette's Julia Tepper in the video's kind of oddly touching story of quirky friendship. Forced to attend stuffy family shindigs and fancy dinners she would rather not attend, Tepper finds solace in an another attendee who would also rather be elsewhere. There's a sort of dark side to their companionship however with havoc being wreaked as a destructive chicken game emerges and the duo one up each other in feats of rebellion. This being Friend Roulette, the video is not without it's weird twist. The group openly embrace their oddball nature and the video takes its eventual turn from that.

The song is beautiful, the video is beautiful. Another new Friend Roulette song making it's way into the world? Also beautiful. Enjoy their video for "Rocket Dog":

Monday, July 22, 2013

Listen: Saint Rich - "Officer"

Remember Saint Rich? The duo formed from Delicate Steve guitarists Steve Marion and Christian Peslak first made their presence known with the excellent "Sorry/Sadly" before being swallowed up by their intensive tour schedule with Delicate Steve. It's been 8 months since "Sorry/Sadly" but what many thought to perhaps been a one-off track has turned into much more than that. Today, amid news that Saint Rich not only signed to Merge Records but was also putting out an album by the name of Beyond the Drone, we also got another new track in "Officer"

"Officer" is a song for the ramshackle rock lover in all of us. Rougher around the edges than Delicate Steve's pristine melodic guitar lines and even their own "Sorry/Sadly", Saint Rich have proven in just two songs that they're not ones to be pigeonholed. Can you imagine the versatility that'll be contained within their debut full length? I certainly can't. All I know is that I want it and need it and the wait to October is going to be a rough one. Hopefully Saint Rich will ease the heartache with another new track before then but if not, we DO have two absolute resplendent guitar rock gems to keep us company.

Saint Rich's Beyond the Drone is out October 1st on Merge Records.

Pitstop: Night Moves

                                                            (Photo by Nick Walker)

My discovery of Minneapolis foursome Night Moves happened as most of my discoveries tend to - by their affiliation with another band, in this case Night Moves being the headliners at an upcoming Brooklyn show featuring ARMS.

Perhaps the most endearing thing about the quartet is the way their music kind of hang out on the very fringes of genre. There's a dream folk haze, undeniable pop rock moments, and sparringly employed string arrangements that rival those of your standard indie pop band. Night Moves are sort of an amalgam of all these things and more. Recalling a sort 70s psych rock group with a modern twist, I was actually surprised to learn they weren't from the Bay area of California.

Their debut album Colored Emotions released last year on Domino Records is the perfect summation of their influences and inspired sounds - every label you can ascribe to the band finds a proper footing on the album and is utilized to make an absolutely  unpinnable album - there's a sort of vintage folk rock purr as the base with an electronic fuzz giving the songs their hazy atmospheric glimmer,  baroque pop grandeur, and classic rock intensity that ensures the whole Frankenstein's monster of influences eventually ambles its way towards the finish line.

Night Moves are more than just a nostalgia act however, their influences are properly utilized and deployed in a way that ensures the group's songs are not only intense enjoyable but also infinitely memorable. Considering my numerous replays of Colored Emotions in full, I'd say they achieved a near perfect alchemical  balance of well-intentioned thought and excellent presentation. It's enough to make you incredibly excited for the opportunity to catch them live. Which you won't actually have to wait too long for since they just hit the road. You can view tour dates here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Listen: ARMS - "Comfort"

Ending on a definite somber note on their excellent sophomore record Summer Skills, Brooklyn indie rockers ARMS have return almost two years later with the incendiary "Comfort". Where Summer Skills crackled and surged with urgency and drama, "Comfort" feels far more ambulant; where Summer Skills sweltered and scorched, "Comfort" rolls forward with the all the intensity of a refreshing spring breeze. That's not to say "Comfort" doesn't rock, it most certainly does but ARMS reinvigorated return strives to be less cinematic and far more scenic this time around. Todd Goldstein contents himself with exploring guitar tones underneath the track's billowing, caressed melodies and the result is a balance of experimental texture play with a softer edge.

"Comfort" is ARMS' declaration of independence from themselves, content to be far less cerebral and enjoy its sumptuous traverses a little more than previously allowed. It's not a terribly revolutionary bit of reinvention with many an ARMS trademark still in use but it's a breath of fresh of air deeply felt from its members able to find the comfort their track laudably condemns. Welcome back ARMS, we've certainly missed you.

ARMS 2nd EP, the appropriately titled EP2 will be out September 10th on Paper Garden Records.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Listen: Dent May - "Born Too Late"

There's jams and then there's a whole other category of tracks by Mississippi rock pop maestro Dent May. The man writes songs with such an impressive knack for melody and move-busting grooves that pretty much every indie pop songwriter should take a lesson from. Non of that lowest common denominator b.s. just sweet sweet good time jams. In "Born Too Late", Dent May employs just about everything he can get his hands on in the quest to create the most body-rocking jam he can - starting with piano, before settling on drumpad and bass fed momentum, there's string ornaments and drive-by guitar riffs, and even a little synth action. In anyone else's hands it's all the ingredients for a musical clusterfuck but in Dent May's competent hands they're all just part of the man's songwriting pallet utilized with just enough precision and care to highlight their strengths in service to a much greater purpose: the song. It's the summer jam to end all summer jams. You can stop looking now and start bumping "Born Too Late" from now until well, forever. It's so good you never want to put it down.

"Born Too Late" is from Dent May's upcoming LP Warm Blanket out August 27th on Paw Tracks. You can preorder the limited edition vinyl here.

Listen: North Highlands - "I'll Do My Best"

It sure has been awhile since we've heard from Brooklyn indie-pop quintet North Highlands. After releasing their debut album Wild One back in 2011 and re-releasing it on vinyl last year, the group have pretty much laid low playing the occasional show and working on new tunes. Which is where this new track comes in. "I'll Do My Best" the A side to a 7" set for a July 30th release is the first new North Highlands we've got in awhile and it's much more abrasive North Highlands than we've encountered before.

Summery to its very core, Brenda Malvini's vocals are still light as a feather but where previously the band shaped itself around complimenting that, this time out they're not quite so concerned. They don't ever run the risk of overwhelming her; that would be amateurish. Instead though on the swaggering beachy track the band really lays into it's rock edge. Not all at once though. There's an angular jangle that steadily mounts toward a brief but satisfying cacophonous conclusion.

North Highlands' "I'll Do My Best"/"Halo" 7" is out July 30th

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

All Around Sound-Off No. 4: ARMS

A little known fact is that in addition to giving the All Around Sound-Off its name, Todd Goldstein better known as the frontman of Brooklyn indie rockers ARMS was actually the first interview I ever did right around the release of the band's sophomore record Summer Skills. The interview was lost forever into the ether and while it's been essentially a long-standing inside joke between Todd and I that we would replace it with another, the news that ARMS would soon be recording/releasing a new EP seemed like probable cause to reach out to Todd Goldstein again to see if he would finally be game for another chat. Thankfully he was and we met outside of Pianos after one of their sets earlier this year to continue a conversation that had started nearly two years prior.

Dante (All Around Sound): I'm really excited about your new SO much. What can we expect from it?
Todd Goldstein: Well, we recorded it ourselves which was a not new but a return to that from working on a big studio album. That was in part because of resources and in part because I really missed the feeling. The home recorded stuff just sounds a lot closer to what I'm hearing in my head and I have more control over it and part of that control is giving up control to like shittily recorded tracks and first takes and just kind of leaving it as it is and just letting the magic of it, if it is in fact magic, be there. It's five tracks and it was most of what I wrote in the last year after Summer Skills. I don't know, it's just kind of in terms of - I was thinking this, because you know I'm an ex music writer and all that stuff, in terms of adjectives: If Summer Skills was - someone described it as sinewy once which I really liked. It's sort of moody and sinewy  then this new EP is sort of careening and expressive. It's really high energy and it's really rough around the edges and it's a lot more fun than anything.

Sweet. I've heard some of the songs live so is it kind of a similar thing to that or did you make any changes to the songs when you brought them in to record?

TG: No, it's similar to that but you know, there's more layering and atmosphere and all that. It's just a lot more fun - they're fun songs that I had fun writing and I have fun playing them.

Hah. I wouldn't have used that adjective to describe you guys ever. I mean, you know... 


When we talked before, long long ago, you mentioned that Summer Skills actually got its initial inspiration from Kids Aflame. Was there any pre-established inspiration that you drew for this one? 

TG: No. Which was sort of the scary and interesting part of doing the EP. I felt like I kind of exhausted this huge creative well with Summer Skills. I basically poured every little piece of whatever I had into it and I started with pretty much a blank slate writing afterwards which is something I hadn't really done before. I think that's in part why it's kind of taken awhile to get the motor revved again. We're in to writing another full length right now because I've kind of got the groove going but the inspiration for making these was that I just needed to find a new way to write that wasn't based on concept and let the concept become what it was going to be. Just writing some songs was the thinking. I've been happy to find since finishing the songs and hearing them together that they're definitely a piece and there's definitely some throughlines and all that stuff but the inspiration was really just writing more about myself.

For this EP was there more of a conscious effort to return to writing or did the songs just kind of come to you naturally? 

TG: It was like a real conscious effort. I really had to push it. Songwriting doesn't come easily to me like ever and with these five they really had to be ...I had to sort of force myself to write this stuff because I was like 'I need to make more stuff. I need to get past that record'. I needed to find a new voice after I had done that. That was sort of the way Kids Aflame worked and I was thinking of that kind of relationship where the songs themselves are very tightly constructed and very carefully put together but the performances are very loose and kind of tossed off, you know, in a good way. In the good attitude.

Last year you resurrected a bunch of Kids Aflame songs that you hadn't really played in awhile. Going back to those was there any kind of new revelations that you got from going back to these old songs that you wrote? 

TG: Yeah. There was an attitude I had when I was writing those that I had gotten really far away from and that i really wanted to get back to. I don't think we're a band that's been around long enough that the idea of returning to your roots is like a last ditch effort at anything, it was just kind of trying to recalibrate where I was at and just think about things differently. I really like those old songs because they're really direct and they're all kind of trying a different thing and there's a sense of innocent exploration that I had going on at that time that I couldn't get back to completely but tried to think of things that way like 'What if I wrote a song like this?' and not try to fit it in to anything larger or make it mean anything larger. It's just like a self-contained little world and that was kind of something that I learned from them - that I could go back to those songs and playing them realized I wrote some songs that I really love from that time. I don't write song like that anymore but I totally still could if I want to.

I kind of already kind of the answer to this question but who are some of your favorite songwriters? Do you feel like any particular songwriter really influenced your writing?

TG: I feel like I've gotten to this point where I don't even listen to songwriters anymore. I listen to mostly ambient music, jazz, electronic, and minimalist classical stuff and that's sort of where I hang out most of the time. I mean, you know, if I listen to my stuff there's Mark Kozelek in there; Neil Young and maybe a little bit of Elvis Costello and a little bit of Elliot Smith. Ted Leo? I don't know, I listen to all sorts of stuff. When I'm writing songs I'm just writing songs I know to write. What are your guesses?

I mean I knew about Kozelek. I know you have like moodier songwriting likes and whatnot. So for this round was there any change in what you were listening to versus what you were listening to before that you felt defintely impacted what you were doing?

TG: I think I stopped listening to indie rock. That's actually a pretty big thing. I mean, I listen to it still because it's like happening and I like to keep up on things but I stopped kind of strong identifying with it for whatever that's worth. What I play is definitely indie rock, there's no question but I just kind of stopped. On one hand I stopped really giving a shit about indie rock aside from what my friends are doing which I think is cool and picking and choosing here and there but while I stopped caring about it I think I wanted the stuff I was making to sound a little more like it. I was like 'Fuck it.' I made an art-pop album that was maybe a bit impenetrable tone-wise to some people and I kind of want to make stuff that people listen to and I want my stuff to make sense with the stuff that other people are doing so people have a door in. So I switched up the approach a little bit to make it a little more like the stuff I listened to when I was growing up. Just like 90s indie rock; Pedro the Lion and Pavement, Built to Spill and stuff like that. I can say that's like a big influence.

For Summer Skills you said some of the influence came from really intense movies like Brick. Was there any particular mindset you tried to get into when trying to write these songs that you attached to? 

TG: Yeah. I feel like this is a little bit more influenced by some books. I'm trying to concentrate a little more on smaller moments and intimate details. I read this book by Lorrie Moore called Birds of America. Every story is really beautiful and kinda sad and about very real people but it's just like so perfectly observed and I kind of wanted to do something that was more impressionistic and intimate. It was less about the widescreen mood and concept.

So it was about two or three years ago when you recorded your other EP, was there any particular way you went about it this time on this new EP? 

TG: No. More mics, better mics. We got someone to mix this album. We worked on all the tracks ourselves and got this guy Jason Finkel to do the mixing.

I know him. 

TG: You know him? Of course! Through the blog world. He's a really awesome guy and we totally get along and he just gets how to make all this stuff kind of work together. It sounds fucking great - it'll be done by the end of next week. We recorded it the same but I think the years of difference just in terms of how our views have changed and our sensitivities and stuff and the fact that we got someone to really put it together is going to make a huge difference.

 Much thanks to Todd Goldstein for sitting down with me (again) to discuss what's one of my most anticipated released. The new EP, aptly titled EP2 will be released September 10th on Paper Garden Records.      

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Watch: Friend Roulette Breakthru Radio Live Session

One of my favorite things about Brooklyn chamber pop sextet Friend Roulette is that they seemed to be linked into the very spirit of instant gratification that motivates a lot of my musical discoveries. They're not the kind of band that can just sit around and play the same songs over and over again for years at a time until their next big record release. No, Friend Roulette are a band that are unsurprisingly brimming with new ideas and a need to get them out there. That's resulted in an increasingly larger and larger back catalog of live song staples that have yet to be committed to tape.

Considering that it took the band about three years of actively working on their debut record I'm Sorry You Hit Your Head, that might seem a bit surprising but Friend Roulette are a set of gifted innovators who have a very apparently need to create music. That's rare considering some bands seem content to just muddle around for years playing the same three or four songs until they can drum up enough money to record them before working on anything new.

So when I heard news that Friend Roulette was heading in for a BreakThru Radio session I knew the results would be quite appealing. "I Guess" is a song I've only heard live, the rare time I've been able to catch the band live and it's a definite favorite. Encapsulating everything that band has become in the past year or so, "I Guess" has hard-hitting grooves, relateable memorable lyrics, and plenty of funky EWI action. Since shelving the bass clarinet for the EWI, Friend Roulette have embarked on a far more evidently orchestral pop direction and it's really helped to establish them as unlike any band currently going in the New York music scene.

There's also some peeks of unreleased tracks "The Kitty Song" and "Rocket Dog" which are pretty incredible even in their shorter snippet like featurings.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Listen: Fanfarlo - "Myth of Myself (A Ruse to Exploit Our Weaknesses)"

Even since their infectiously poppy debut, British chamber pop group Fanfarlo have always had a knack for the intellectual. More so lyrically than contextually on the debut before experimenting with the very building blocks of song construction on their very 80s recalling sophomore record, Fanfarlo have always seemed to be interested in how things work. "Myth of Myself (A Ruse to Exploit Our Weaknesses)", the first single from their upcoming as yet untitled third album, sees the group turning their penchant for curious exploration and experimentation inwards; towards themselves.

Once again featuring a change in sound different from the folk-leanings of Reservoir and synthy Rooms Filled With Light, "Myth of Myself" lands somewhere in the realm of an orchestral Dirty Projectors while lacking the harmonies so typical of them. Simon Balthazar's vocals recall a tamer Dave Longstreth while the cresting musical moments establish it firmly as very Fanfarlo track. It's not a Fanfarlo we've ever encountered before but it still manages to keep in line with the group's trademarks: intelligent, poignant lyricism and majestic, heart-fluttering musical moments. While Fanfarlo continue to change sounds from album to album, it's nice to know that at least those two things will stay exactly the same.

Listen to "Myth of Myself (A Ruse to Exploit Our Weaknesses)":

You can download the new single for free at

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Watch: Brazos - "Long Shot"

Well, this is slightly unexpected. Of all the songs on Brooklyn indie-pop trio Brazos' excellent sophomore record Saltwater to get the music video treatment, sensitive album ender "Long Shot" would probably be my last guess. Especially after you factor in the sheer catchiness of other would-be singles like "Charm", "Always On" or "Saltwater" but considering that "Long Shot" is one of my favorite tracks on the record, I'm pleased as punch Martin Crane created a video for it.

If the emoji-packed "How the Ranks Was Won" was a little bit much for you, in "Long Shot" you're given a bit of a visual break. Instead of bright colors and rapid changing in your face visual cues, "Long Shot" consists of black and white drawings that are far slower moving and less prying than "How the Ranks Was Won". Significantly less plot-driven than the aforementioned video, "Long Shot" is seemingly a collection of unrelated images with elevated importance due to synced transformation. Some of them make sense, other seem to just try to invoke the overall mood of the track's emotional plod. Overall though, it all manages to fit together; the simple black and white drawings pairing incredible well with the sparse lyric-driven album closer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Shakin' Babies - Stoked Casual (2013)

Considering that FMLY mostly seems to cater to electronic aficionados, I was surprised and delighted that one of the first bands to open FMLY Fest Brooklyn was The Shakin' Babies.  The Minneapolis fivesome play jangly garage rock with a notable twist; an inescapable doo-wop punch. It's old fashioned rock 'n roll with a more modern lyrical take.

"Mary Wants to Rock" takes the more traditional rock approach - a story of an uptight god-fearing girl seduced by rock n' roll (a very real fear in its heyday) while "Katrina" and "Dreams of You" are more of the doo wop fare. They're pleasant and enjoyable. Where Shakin' Babies and Stoked Casual really shine though is when they update the typical with far more modern or usual conventions. Devil-dealing "Shake Hands", feisty rabble-rousing "Wait a Minute", or drug-fueled "Blue Sky Blondes" are the album's real gems; the hints that Stoked Casual isn't some mere leftover from that bygone era. In an album built on rock n' roll conventions tracks like "Wait a Minute"and "Easy Meal" that pair singer Jess Olsen's powerhouse vocals with the bands propensity for fun, tuneful jams are much appreciated.

All in all, Stoked Casual is a pretty great album. It's tracks are short and to the point, pay proper homage to their inspirations without merely replicating them, and just damn good. Stoked Casual is an album you can listen to endlessly and never get tired of - it's melodies are simple and memorable and the jams are the stuff contemporary rock bands tend to lack. Thankfully there's bands like The Shakin' Babies that have no problem mining music history to show them all how it's done.

You can listen/download The Shakin' Babies' Stoked Casual via their record label's Bandcamp.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pitstop: Mutual Benefit

If you've ever wished Bibio had more songs like "Lovers' Carvings" or that North Highlands leaned a little harder into their folk influence then Boston's Mutual Benefit should be right up your alley. During his set at Day 2 of this year's FMLY Fest Brooklyn, I was completely and utterly transfixed. It was had to believe so many sounds could come out of one man but that's exactly what Jordan Lee's live set consisted of. Sure he had assistance from violinist Jake Falby to add an extra layer of beautiful ornaments but for the most part Mutual Benefit is all Jordan. A labor of obvious love that radiates from the very music itself.

Whether acoustic or amped up, Mutual Benefit's dreamy folk-infused experimental pop manages to invoke the same sort of awe, unfolds the same soothing blanket of comforting thrall regardless of its presentation. Through a shifting multitude of instruments (guitar, banjo, synth), Jordan Lee's poetic lyricism comes to life among minimal textural landscapes. Their power is in their lack of verbosity and the way they're so incredibly intertwined with the music they're set to. Take "Auburn Epitaphs" and its serpentine stretch; the words so incredibly reliant/compliant with the weaving melody.

Also impressive is the way Mutual Benefit's live set transcends his recordings. Perhaps due to more limited resources of whatever Lee and whoever he rounds up to play with him can carry/touch, the live show unfurls in a remarkably different manner than the recordings. "Desert Island Feeling" goes from a sort of synthy jam to an atmospheric loop of slow shimmering beauty. "The Cowboy's Prayer" becomes an Aaron Copland-recalling percussive ramble.

Of all the sets I saw at FMLY Fest Brooklyn, Mutual Benefit's was perhaps the most enthralling, the most transforming. And listening to his music it's not hard to see why. Jordan Lee crafts dazzling musical moments that border on the magical. They're enjoyable but also affecting. Pleasant and simple but inspiring a complex array of thoughts and feelings. But really it all just comes down to Jordan Lee's ability to blend electronics and folk without losing any heart.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Listen: Lower Dens - "Non Grata"

Lower Dens have pretty much made a career out of minimal rock jams built upon one major melodic riff. The standout, "Brains", from last year's Nootropics however set a brand new precedent of a newfound catchiness and it seems they're not done with infectious slow burners just yet. "Non Grata", a one-off single with proceeds going to VH1's Save the Music, is probably as dance-y as Lower Dens are bound to get. Strong beats laying the foundation for Jana Hunter's smoldering vocals and spacious, drive-by guitar riffs.

You can buy the 7" which also features a track from Lower Dens' Baltimore chums Horse Lords.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Listen: Salt Cathedral - "Move Along"

There's something to be said for a slow release schedule. Brooklyn by Columbia psych rockers Salt Cathedral have certainly taken their time putting new music out into the world but each time the do, it's well worth the wait. Usually coinciding with massive events for them like their name change from Il Abanico, Salt Cathedral have made sure that each and every single they've released are is of the utmost memorability.

Their third single "Move Along" trades in the group's trademark frenetic energy for a slowly unfurling laid back jam. Their propensity for intricate layers is still at work with complex guitar riffs weaving seamless through Juliana Ronderos' flawless vocals.

Like the singles before it, "Move Along" signals an important milestone for the band - the release of a new EP; their first under the Salt Cathedral moniker. You can preorder the 5 song self-titled EP via Salt Cathedral's Bandcamp here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Watch: Golden Suits - "Swimming in '99" (Lyric Video)

A couple months ago former Department of Eagles member Fred Nicolaus' first bit of solo material was released. It was amazing. The intensity of Department of Eagles' greatest track was nowhere to be found in "Didn't I Warn You" instead filled with a pristine bit of layers and a svelte-ness that established instantaneous that this was material of Nicolaus' own creation; not merely Department of Eagles with a different name.

"Swimming in '99", our second peak into the upcoming solo full length Golden Suits, continues similarly in that vein. However, the smoothness is disrupted in favor of extensive use of percussion. If it wasn't explicitly stated to be a lyric video, Nicolaus' latest offering could pass for the actual music video for "Swimming in '99". All of the action takes place between two watches - one meant to represent the year's beginning and the year's end.

It's apt that Nicolaus chose watches as his sort of symbolic moniker considering the watchmaker-like precision and intricacy of his tracks thus far. A talent of melody creating some pretty arresting musical moments. If the lyric video featuring various New York landmarks and locations is just the appetizer, I can't wait for the main course.

Golden Suits self-titled debut album is out August 20th on YepRoc Records.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Listen: Making Marks - "Barcodes"

Several months ago "Ticket Machine", the first single from the regrouped Norwegian indie pop quartet Marking Marks (former My Little Pony) made its way into the world. It was not unlike the tunes you'd expect from My Little Pony and if you were into them, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

However, "Barcodes" their newly released second single is a proper introduction to a brand new band. The melodies are still as rich as My Little Pony's but there's a change here. Maybe it's the subtle build towards its first burst of vocals, the decrease in cuteness, or the track's more rock leanings? Who's to say really. One things for sure. If Making Marks have more songs like "Barcodes" on their upcoming debut album, their days of pseudo-patronizing accolades as cutesy pop purveyors will be a thing of the past. "Barcodes" keeps just the right amount of pop to make the track go down smooth but there's an obvious growth in sound for the better.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Listen: Typhoon - "Young Fathers"

Oregon's Typhoon will always be a folk band. It's a fact that will always and should always be true and yet that doesn't mean that they should allow themselves into being forced into a box of pretty folk music. "Young Fathers" continues to subtly defy expectations of Typhoon's trademark sound - introducing a sort of start-stop rock purrs alongside it's usual life-affirming lyricism and layers of pristinely crafted instrumentals.

"Young Fathers" makes an artform out of a non-cohesive songwriting drawing more attention to it because of its occasional lurches forward, in it's baton-passed vocals, it's rapid swelling intensity, It employs new methods without completely disconnecting from the Typhoon fans have grown to love. A delightful blend of old and new and another dazzling gem from their upcoming White Lighter.    

Typhoon's upcoming full length White Lighter is out August 20th on Roll Cat Records but you can preorder the album now and help the band purchase a van for their upcoming fall tour via their Kickstarter.