Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday, June 29, 2007

Minus Story

"Aaron"






Pardon me for not describing Minus Story as a psychadelic, low-fi, cutting edge indie band. This is a band that falls in between the cracks of all those categories. If I must, I will describe this band as orchestral. This song, "Aaron", off the new album My Ion Truss is a perfect example of how a band can take rock music to an orchestral level. You see, contrary to popular belief, being innovative is more than merely adding strings and brass to make up for whatever depth is lacking in your music. Being innovative is skipping the thick violin sections and replacing them with raw, pulsating electric guitar. Being innovative is cutting out the timpani and plugging in a rolling percussive hook that gains momentum and then drops off into a saxophone solo that defies the vocalist and starts a virtual musical standoff until the vocals drop back in at the end to put a provocative stamp on the whole thing. Provocative meaning it provokes you to question, "What the hell was that?" I'll tell you what it was: it was the sound of another band breaking the sound barriers of categorization with pure skill and integrity. It was the sound of a good band.



Download >>Aaron

Lemon Sun

"Telephone, Are You Alive"





My senior year of high school brings back a lot of memories, my fondest were of my friend Albert asking girls if they fuck on the first date, girls telling me I was weird and waking up early in hopes to catch this video by some band called The Strokes. Since then not much has changed, girls still think I'm weird, garage rock is still ruling the airwaves and teaching kids how to dress. Los Angeles' Lemon Sun is keeping things tried and true with their poppy, guitar-driven rock. The four lads and a lady lay down the standard equation, catchy hooks over some rockin' melodies. "Telephone, Are You Alive" follows on the coat-tails of bands like Rooney, The Mooney Suzuki, and of coarse The Strokes, who still kept the garage rock image but made their music radio-friendly. Lemon Sun may be no MC5, but they still can kick out the jams just as well. I can easily see "Telephone, Are You Alive" making the Indie 103.1 play list, or being blared out of some car parked on Sunset Blvd late at night



Download >>Telephone, Are You Alive

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Seabear

"I Sing I Swim"/"Hospital Bed"






Some of your first musical encounters with Iceland probably came in the form of a pixie named Björk, or if you’re really cool (or just pretending), possibly the Sugarcubes. If not, then surely the icy sounds of Sigur Rós introduced you to the contrasting sounds of a not-so-icy Iceland. As most of us may have already learned by now, the land is more lush and alive than its name lets on, but a majority of the music seems to perpetuate the same conflicting image. Seabear seems to be conscious of this. “It’s not cold in Seabearia!” claims their myspace headline. Their latest, The Ghost That Carried Us Away, is ripe with soft, subtle chamber-folk gems like “Hospital Bed.” The song weaves a choir of “La La’s” into a gentle lullaby, with Sindri Sigfoessen singing softly over plucked strings. After the lullaby comes dreamy guitars, piano, and circular melodies. “I Sing I Swim” offers more of the same gentleness, with rolling piano and shimmering noises, sounding a lot like the U.K.’s Boy Least Likely To. The warm fiddle driven folk-pop of Seabear is pretty refreshing when compared to the glacial soundscapes of their countrymen. Seabearia may have been a great place to visit if it ever actually existed.



Download >>I Sing I Swim

Download >>Hospital Bed

Minus The Bear

"Knights"






“Knights” instantly stood out to me the first time I listened to Minus The Bears latest album Planet of Ice. Some quirky synth starts you off into a track that has vocals and guitar that begin with a certain sweetness to them, but that changes almost instantly. That sweetness is replaced by some more aggressive guitar and drums, as well as vocals that are continually building in emotion. This is all broken up intermittently with some carefree guitar riffs. All of this is slowly building into a crescendo that reaches its peak and then is gently brought back down, the tempo gradually slows, and the vocals are more drawn out as “Knights” comes to its close. Planet of Ice is definitely a must have, containing all the elements that previously made Minus The Bear worth a look, but goes beyond that with more complex orchestrations that make for a solid lineup. Planet of Ice will be released August 21st.





Download >>Knights

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oh No! Oh My!

"The Party Punch"






With a somewhat overlooked eponymous debut album under their belts, Texas trio Oh No! Oh My! decide to look towards their old material to get a little recognition. The songs on the “new” EP, having been recorded under a previous incarnation by the name of The Jolly Rogers, have been around since before their debut as Oh No! Oh My! I must admit to being a little disappointed last year after purchasing their self-released album without any of the songs from The Jolly Rogers Demo having made the cut, which is why I was excited to hear that “The Party Punch” would finally see a physical release on the Between the Devil and the Sea EP (8/7). Most bands probably hate being called twee, but “The Party Punch” is the sort of swingin’ acoustic ditty you’d easily associate with the genre. Full of joyous handclaps and (forgive me for this one) gleeful guitar lines, the song is sure to inspire happy head-nods. Just go with it.



Download >>The Party Punch

Deadbeat

"Night Train To Paris"








I can’t help but to think in images with this song. With a name like “Night Train to Paris” I have to wonder which came first, the title or the music. Certainly the sound-scapes and rhythms pulsing throughout this Deadbeat (a.k.a. Scott Montieth) composition accompany the thoughts and mental scenes conjured by such a noir title. Perhaps it’s the sounds themselves conducting the images on this ride. Dark muffled electronic pumps and a combustion of hot syncopated percussion, manage to stay bound together by a dub groove that stays just below the surface, never getting too excited but rather staying controlled and studied. I am particularly moved when the bass groove kicks in about half way through. Its subtlety is not lost in the dub mix but rather excites the images and possibilities summoned by this gem. I’m not sure that we make it all the way to Paris on this ride. It’s over before we know it, and it left us standing in the tracks.



Download >>Night Train To Paris

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Iron & Wine

"Boy With A Coin"






Don’t be fooled by Sam Bean’s consistent, hushed delivery. Although unassuming, and sung with a breathy whisper, his vocals often carry a weighty sense of purpose. Lyrics like “A girl with a bird she found in the snow/Then flew up her gown and that’s how she knows/If god made her eyes for crying at birth/Then left the ground to circle the earth” ring just as poetic when sung in his mild mannered tone. With every release, he also manages to expand his sound using the most subtle touches. “Boy With A Coin,” the first single from Shepard’s Dog (due 9/25) adds backwards guitar, African hand-drums, and handclaps to his growing repertoire. Religion often occupies a large part of Bean’s lyrical content, but is presented more as mythological stories rather than preachy anecdotes. Among the swarm of over-hyped and eagerly anticipated albums, Shepard’s Dog can be seen as something more reliable, not easily swayed by the flimsy doctrines that dictate indie viability. It’s a good album, with nothing more or less to be expected.



Download >>Boy With A Coin (link removed by request)

Pinback

"Good To Sea"






Is it fair that I review a song by one of my very favorite bands? Yes. Yes, it is, because it gives me the right to say that this may be their best album yet. In "Good to Sea" the San Diego natives are back with another plucky tune about loss and acceptance. Intricate patterns of airy keyboard notes and doubled up guitar are blended thoughtfully with Zach and Rob's pleading voices. On any other voices the heady lyrics would seem like whining, but with Pinback it is an urgent message that seems to float just inches above the music (Who else could lackadaisically lament, 'Oh no, I hit rock bottom,' and make it sound so satisfying?). I will never tire of admiring the way Pinback crafts a new world for every song they record. Listening to this new album, especially this little opus of a single, the world seems a bit better. A bit more human. Somehow, they make it sound nice to be here.


Download >>Good To Sea (link removed by request)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Múm

"Dancing Behind My Eyelids"






Iceland’s Múm have always been characterized by a certain childish innocence. And if the music itself didn’t make this apparent, song titles like “I’m 9 Today” confirm their intentions. Initially aiming for the sounds of the ignorant bliss and inherent playfulness bestowed amongst children as they did on the excellent Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK, they’ve gradually moved towards a darker, sometimes even creepy sound. But if “Dancing Behind My Eyelids” is a good indication of what the forthcoming Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy, Let Your Crooked Hands Be Holy is going to be like, it’s definitely a far cry from the shadowy, misleadingly titled Summer Make Good. Much of this can be attributed to the departure of Kristín Valtýsdóttir who was responsible for the nymph-ish vocals on most of the tracks. “Dancing…” marks a return to the aforementioned playfulness, beginning with sparse, ambient chunks of sound before evolving into a fully formed song. Incorporating various samples, noises, synths, and IDM drum patterns on the way, the song becomes a beautiful cluttered mess— much like the closets of children when they have too many toys. If Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy… captures the same childlike magic as Yesterday Was Dramatic, then it will definitely have been worth the wait.



Download >>Dancing Behind My Eyelids