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

Róisín Murphy

"Overpowered"












Róisín Murphy’s last album Ruby Blue was a masterfully crafted piece of found-sound pop. We obviously have Matthew Herbert and his P.C.C.O.M. manifesto to thank for its musical charm, but Murphy’s silky jazz vocals made up a large part of the albums success. But this time around, the Ramalama Bang Bang has been smoothed over into a steady, sensuous boom. “Overpowered” is a dizzying night club anthem, complete with squiggly acid synths and house atmospherics. It sounds like a step backwards at first when compared to the sonic experimentation of Ruby Blue, but it’s more like a lateral leap within the same genre. “Overpowered” is dance music in its purest form; simple in structure, but effective in its purpose. I’ll probably always be more attached to Ruby Blue, but that doesn’t mean Murphy’s Sophomore will be any less of an album.



Download >>Overpowered

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yeah Yeah Yeah's

"Down Boy"






I hope I’m not the only one that prefers the messy garage rock from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Fever To Tell as opposed to the orderly-by-comparison Show Your Bones. If not, rejoice with me fellow fans of old. YYY’s are set to release the Is Is EP, a batch of songs recorded back in ’04. It’s a good reminder of why I loved this band in the first place; heavy, ferocious guitar licks, killer drumming, and Karen O’s hungry growl. They also had a great balance of sweetness and sweat, as “Down Boy” displays so well. The song could easily be the sound of the two albums combined, effectively balancing the raunchy rock with well-measured constraint. If the YYY’s decide to re-embrace the sound of their first full length, it would probably be the first time I couldn’t fault a band for doing the same thing twice.



Download >>Down Boy

Jake Newton

"Just Showing Off"






Singer/Songwriters make you sick don’t they? They always seem to boo-hoo all over your parade when you’re trying to have a party. You probably shudder at the sound of an open-chord strum. While there have been plenty half-assed artist that give any acoustic six-stringer a bad name, we sometimes overlook those that actually put feeling into their music. Some may wear their heart on their sleeve for fashions sake, but Jake Newton’s seems to know no other place to be. The music drips with honesty and emotion sung in the language of personal experience-- a language that is very hard to fake. “Just Showing Off” accuses and accepts blame in the same breathe. Lines like “Here’s where it meets in the tangling of sheets/Where the histories been repeated over and over again” admit the guilty act of dual-consent. It may sound like sappy stuff, especially if you’ve built a defense mechanism against anything remotely emotional or sincere, but you may also discover how nice it can be when you let your heart live outside your chest every now and then.



Download >>Just Showing Off

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Album Review- †


Justice

9/10

Is this really a revolution? There’s no space. There’s no air. Everything is packed from end to end into a claustrophobic mess. It’s loud and filthy sounding. There are no slow builds. It hits hard, and then, later in the song, hits harder. The synths aren’t subtle, they scream. The beats don’t vary much from the steady boom-tap combination. Every track is a raging party. Will Justice liberate the idle feet of children everywhere? Is this really a revolution? Et justice pour tous?

Forgive me for the drastic exaggerations, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been genuinely excited about an electronic album. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for minimalist, maximalist, micro, and whatever else you can preface before –house. As many times as I’ve played Gui Borrato’s Chromophobia and The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime, and as much I love both those albums, I’ve never had a reason to get physically excited. Most of these records seem to exists to be intellectualized more than anything. But is like a visceral punch in the face. The message here: dance or be damned. No one wants to be damned, and so we can’t help but dance.

And if I may be so daring as to inspire a collective gasp amongst the electronic elite, I like better than anything Daft Punk has ever put out, past or present. If that sounds blasphemous to you, you can rest assured that this is only one man’s opinion. It may seem even more ridiculous since Daft Punk are more like the blueprint to Justice’s model, but I can’t help but feel like Justice actually deliver harder, better, faster, and stronger than any of their contemporaries. But lets be honest, this is dance rock folks, nothing more or less. It’s quite possible that any existential musings on how Justice will change the face of electronic music or music in general are baseless.

That being said, if we were to evaluate on sheer listenability, it still comes out on top. From the opening timpani of “Genesis,” you know exactly what to expect; super compress sci-fi sweetness. “Let There Be Light” lets loose some harsh, search-and-destroy synths and their signature fuzzy funk-bass with an array of hi-hats slamming into each other at full-speed. There’s a moment of cool-down around the 3:30 mark before radio noise introduces “D.A.N.C.E.”, which has to be your favorite song….ever.

There isn’t one weak track throughout the entire album. Besides the less than desirable raps from label mate Uffie on “The Party”, it still gets repeat love. Plus, you gotta love a couple French dudes that sample Three-Six Mafia. “DVNO” is the real party track anyway using the duo’s signature formula to maximum effect. One of the most insane highlights of the album, “Stress” uses hyper-tense strings for an effective exercise in tension and release. “Waters Of Nazareth,” a repeat from the EP of the same name, is the nastiest thing here. High on distortion and heavy on the tom drum and hi-hats, it would make a killing on the dancefloor.

So yes, it’s a noisy, reckless, sweaty mess, and it’s fantastic. It’s the best time you can have when you’re alone in your car. It’s the most fun you’re going to have without drinking. Oh yeah, it will probably sound great in a club too. Forget what we told you before, this really is the best dance party ever.





Download >>DVNO

Download >>D.A.N.C.E

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Caribou

"Melody Day"












The man formerly know as Manitoba (before being sued by Handsome Dick(head) Manitoba himself) is back with Andorra, his first offering for Merge records. The album brings a much welcomed shift back to the psychedelic sampling that made Up In Flames and underground classic. The opening track “Melody Day” abandons the thin simplicity of his previous album The Milk Of Human Kindness and builds on endless layers of “is it real or is it sampled?” instrumentation. There’s definitely more of a live band sound to this record, but it’s still the work of a large vinyl collection (it’s like analogue heaven for the audiophile). With so much stuff crammed into a four minute slot, it’s easy to get lost in the mélange of guitar licks, drum kits, and melodic found-sound. But once you find your way around, there’s nothing left other than a beautiful song to start the summer.



Download >>Melody Day

Sweater Weather

"The Pains Of Relocation"







An orchestra set to slightly deeper blue, a title that suits North Carolina’s folk rockers, Sweater Weather. A multi-member, instrument collective, that takes cues from The Shins, Sufjan Stevens and Damien Rice. Their latest track, “The Pains of Relocation,” recounts a tale of childhood through the eyes of singer and songwriter Casey Trela. Trela scores a soundtrack that captures the tone and emotion of a Wes Anderson film. The band makes great use of multiple instruments, which includes guitars, cellos, drums, accordions and even a glockenspiel to create a deep, slightly depressing resonance. When Trela’s bitter sweet lyrics are thrown into the mix, fans of Conor Oberst might ask him to lighten-up a bit. Sweater Weather reminds me a lot of another gloomy singer/ songwriter, Nick Drake. Whose dark and disheartening tunes set the pace for artists like Trela and Oberst. Much like Drake, Sweater Weather’s music brings to mind that even on the most sobering, dismal days, there still lays beauty underneath it all.





Download >>The Pains Of Relocation

Monday, June 11, 2007

Calvin Harris

"Disco Heat"/"Acceptable In The 80's"






Newsflash: Scottish born Calvin Harris joins the never-ending lineage of techno-funk producers. Using an archaic Amiga computer and other ancient equipment, nearly every song on Harris’ debut album I Created Disco (due 6/18 in the U.K.) was created with the dancefloor in mind. Whatever you do, pay no attention to Harris’ lyrics. I would also tell you to pay no attention to the album title, but it’s actually fairly accurate. No, he didn’t create disco, but the title immediately becomes attractive to those attracted to dance music. Basically, it’s smart marketing. And although Harris didn’t create disco, he did create “Disco Heat,” and that’s good enough for me. Don’t let the hipster guitar riffs in the intro fool you, on the other side awaits an electro-house dance party. Calvin keeps it light on the lyrics and lean on the production, using a classic super-fat bassline and echoing synth stabs. “Acceptable In The 80’s” was practically engineered to be the next Reagan-baby anthem (or whoever was the ruling party in Scotland at the time). But whatever it is that was acceptable in the 80's remains a mystery. So yeah, it’s basically another one of those “Don’t think, just dance” type albums. Fair enough.



Download >>Disco Heat

Download >>Acceptable In The 80's

Stars Of The Lid

"Even If You're Never Awake (Deuxieme)"






I was having a bad day. I was angry to say the least. I wanted shout and throw things. I wanted flip the entire room on its head, creating as much chaos as possible. It would have been easy to embrace this anger, put on some Rage Against The Machine and start kicking shit around in a furious tantrum. But I didn’t. Instead, I went for the opposite. I put on And Their Refinement Of The Decline and laid down instead. I opened up and let the soothing washes of sound flood through me. By the time I had got to “Even If You're Never Awake (Deuxieme)” on the first disc I felt like a different person. While a majority of the songs prior seemed to bleed into one large beautiful orchestration, this tracks seemed to stick out. Mixing lush strings, radio noise, and other instruments that sound as if they were played live and re-sampled, the song is a three-phase exercise in patience and appreciation. With patience, as it is with most ambient drone music, one can appreciate the innate beauty of the genre. But Stars Of The Lid seem to have a better, if not more human grasp. From the obvious details (the sounds of empty, lonely piano chords. Distant angelic voices.) to the subtle shifts in the general mood of the music, And Their Refinement has a lot to offer for the attentive listener. It’s also the cheapest prescription for anger management.



Download >>Even If You're Never Awake (Deuxieme)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bowerbirds

"In Our Talons"






Shipwrecked. Pirates. Barnacles. These are a few things that come to mind when listening to “In Our Talons” from The Bowerbirds album Hymns For A Dark Horse. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things either-- the imagery is more than welcome. The album is full of beautiful, dusky barroom folk which ranges from tender acoustic ditties to brothel-blues numbers. “In Our Talons” rides a current of booming percussion and accordion. A chorus of voices proclaim “You’re not alone, you’re in our talons now.” Only here does the percussion rest, and the gentle acoustic finger-picking can be heard over the accordions drawn out melody. You can’t help but imagine being surrounded by the torrential sea, resting only in the comfort of some guardian bird’s talons (a Bowerbird, perhaps?). Hymns For A Dark Horse is definitely a unique listen. The band will probably be compared to The Decemberists for lack of a better parallel. But where the Decemberists spin elaborate tales pointing towards the past, The Bowerbirds seem to make ancient music rooted in the here and now. For them, this is the weary sound of reality; the sounds of the ghost of the present day.



Download >>In Our Talons

Miracle Fortress

"Have You Seen In Your Dreams"/"Little Trees"






With the endless number of Brian Wilson wannabes and harmony obsessed indie poppers, I’m surprised I haven’t sworn off every Pet Sounds carbon copy I’ve come across. But for some reason, they keep coming, and I keep eating them up. The latest being Montreal’s The Miracle Fortress, and their debut album Five Roses. With a combination of Beach Boys charm, innocence and earnest, Graham Van Pelt (the man behind the moniker) churns out fuzz-pop fueled by an endless amount of sunshine and summertime memories. “Have You Seen In Your Dreams” uses all these elements to maximum effect, adding some ‘dreamy’ textures to make good on its name. “Little Trees” greets us with a pitch-warbling synth and clean acoustic plucking. The song turns blissfully happy-go-lucky, layering in psychedelic effects with the expected harmonies. While the whole album doesn’t cash in on this masterful formula, it definitely has its fair share of sun-drenched gems. No matter how much you try to avoid it, it’s bound to earn a few smiles.



Download >>Have You Seen In Your Dreams

Download >>Little Trees

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Shout Out Louds

"Tonight I Have To Leave It"







So, yes, these guys are from Sweden but you can’t get mad at them because this (Our Ill Will) is their second album. What that means…I don’t know…but I feel like it gives them some gravitas against the others. They’ve also got some cool videos on the old youtube that will take that Robert Smith image right out of your mind. This song, “Tonight I Have To Leave It” is an undeniably catchy tune filled with sweeping strings, perky percussion, and a whole bunch of reverb. I especially have to give it up to drummer Eric Edman. He’s got this driving, almost surf rock back beat that spices the song up significantly. His ability is a bit overwhelmed by the music on top, but when you give it a careful listen he's quite amazing. I may have been influenced by the videos, but The Shout Out Louds definitely have a cinematic quality to their music. “Tonight I Have To Leave It” seems to be written so that you can cut romantic scenes together in your head while driving. It’s a huge song with huge points to be made i.e. “Give Love!” So do what they say, shout it out loud, and give it up to the drummer!



Download >>Tonight I Have To Leave It

Scissors For Lefty

"Lay Down Your Weapons"







Get your dancing shoes out, Scissors For Lefty’s newest album Underhanded Romance will be hitting shelves June 12th and it’s bringing a solid lineup of that indie dance pop we all can’t help but love. The quintet from San Francisco bring us an album that’s full of quirky synths mixed with some killer dance beats, eccentric vocals which sometimes have a Franz Ferdinandish style to them, and all pulled together by some well placed guitar riffs. The instantly catchy “Lay Down Your Weapons” is no exception to this combination for success. It will have you up and moving before you know what hit you. It opens with a steady beat that will get you started, vocals that will keep you going and some idiosyncratic synths/ guitar that make it all work. So who’s ready for a dance off?





Download >>Lay Down Your Weapons

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

White Rabbits

"While We Go Dancing"









If you don’t know already, White Rabbits are a sextet from New York who, with their debut Fort Nightly, have garnered some well deserved buzz and blog-o-cred. One cut from the album, “While We Go Dancing”, is a really fun song that somehow combines traditional pop with some weird kinda off or minor key stuff that crescendos the verses into a really satisfying and dance worthy chorus. There’s a Strokes-y guitar popping around a steady beat, while rambling piano keys roll around the vocal melody. The piano allows a wickedness to emerge from the melody and keeps the guitars from overpowering the song. The lyrics are sung with such a passion that when the chorus appears, any tension is released with joy and sweetness, and is savored until the next line of verse comes up. The neat breakdown towards the end of the song, filled with “oooh” voices and bass lines, seamlessly breaks anything that one might misconstrue as monotony. “While We Go Dancing” is not just another upbeat dance rock song. It combines the challenging and sophisticated elements that we love about indie music with poppy sounds that fall beautifully into place.



Download >>While We Go Dancing

Beirut

"Venice"








When Devon told me to check out “Venice,” but told me it was “different” than most Beirut, i’ll be honest…it scared me. Then I took a listen, and all that fear vanished. The slow tempo electronica works flawlessly with the signature impassioned vocals of front man Zach Condon, and the horns pull everything together. “Venice,” as simple as it is, drips with emotion. It's one of those songs that reaches inside of you and takes hold of you-- it's music you can feel. It will be available on the compilation CD that accompanies the annual music issue of magazine The Believer so check your local bookstores and news stands.





Download >>Venice

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dizzee Rascal

"Where's Da G's (Ft. UGK)"








Never did I imagine Dizzee Rascal scoring a collaboration with Texas legends Bun B and Pimp C. Nevertheless, here it is. And what should be an awkward meeting between the two actually turns out to be one the stronger tracks on Dizzee’s Maths & English (due 6/12). After catching us up to speed on the gritty ghetto life in England (something some of us may have never knew existed) on Boy In Da Corner and defending his credibility during his rise to popularity on Showtime, Maths + English is Dizzee’s plea for viability. It’s his ‘street’ album, if there ever was such a thing, and getting UGK on this track may add some credibility to his claims. Here, Dizzee eschews the skittering beats characteristic of most grime records and shoots straight for the bounce. While the track could have made the cut on a UGK album (and the boys ride it like it belonged to them first), the hollow synth line and glassy arpeggios keep it close enough to home to where it doesn’t sound out of place on this album. If you hadn’t before, maybe now is the time to start taking Dizzee seriously.



Download >>Where's Da G's

Get To Know: Carina Round




After a terrible year-long delay, English born/L.A. based Carina Round’s second album Slow Motion Addict is finally set to be released tomorrow (6/5). The album also has a surprisingly legit (read: expensive) looking film counterpart of the same name. Much of the press has slowly been released prior to the albums release, with some calling the album “possibly her breakout.”

Her first EP, The First Blood Mystery was released independently in the U.K. and contained a mixture of smoky jazz café textures and spoken word poetry. It was a good start, but only hinted at the singer/songwriters full potential. 2004’s excellent The Disconnection was a true testament to Round’s skill as a songstress. The album contained an air of mystery that warranted repeated listens. The songs are acoustic based, but fleshed out by the band with skill and a deft ear for arrangement. “Into My Blood,” is laced with electronic touches and somewhat dissonant siren-like guitar squalls. It also showcases Round’s wildly expressive voice, ranging from a silky smooth coo to a terrifying shriek. “Paris” starts off with spacious acoustic strums and upright bass plucks before the chorus kicks in, sporting horn arrangements and subtle samba rhythms.





Download >>Into My Blood

Download >>Paris

While The Disconnection was a slow brooding grower, peeling layer after layer while expanding its sound at the same time, Slow Motion Addict aims straight for the gut. It strips away most of the complex textures from the previous album and opts for a more “punk” sound. The guitars are turned up, and very few songs meander long before rocking out. While it doesn’t seem fair the label the album simpler than the previous, it’s safe to say it’s much more straightforward. It’s geared more for immediate satisfaction, possibly an attempt to break free from the purgatory-like state between indie stardom and commercial success (which neither, unfortunately, Carina Round has yet to see). Along with “The Disconnection” (possible left over from the last album?), “How Many Times” is more of a marriage between the two worlds of the previous and current album, and one of the more catchy numbers. “Take The Money” is a surf-rock song exploring the much covered topic of greed and selling out that plagues so many new artists. While I may still long for the enticing subtleties that made The Disconnection one of my favorite albums from ’04, I would still love to see Carina break into the mainstream with this album. One can only hope.





Download >>Take The Money

Download >>How Many Times

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Little Ones

"There's A Pot A Brewin"






Some of you may not agree, but I feel as though “There’s A Pot A Brewin” presents The Little Ones as a much more evolved, mature, and musically endowed band. It’s something that I had really hoped for since verging on a burn out of their EP. They really have a knack for getting you to move in your seat no matter how you are feeling. The cha-cha time and purely rhythmic break down is really refreshing. The band seems to have broken a tried and true formula and found a new type of “happy” upon which we can all celebrate-- Corona’s and all. The catchy-ness of this song, which can be found on their “Lovers Who Uncover” single, will not be sloughed off as the saccharine sweetness some of their older songs have a tendency to do. The Little Ones combine both current and classic pop elements in “There’s A Pot A Brewin.” The shuffle rhythms (as Devon has described them) are brought way up front and made the center of the song, leaving the kitschy guitar solos behind. Add some Jackson 5 bass lines and chimes and you’ve got yourself one hell of a party.



Download >>There's A Pot A Brewin

Port-Royal

"Deca-Dance"






I have a soft spot for the type of sweet, crackling white noise that runs rampant throughout Port-Royal’s Afraid To Dance. There’s something comforting in the sound of noise being coaxed into something melodic. After meandering through misty textures and aimless washes of sound, they hit hard on “Deca-Dance” with a squeaky four-on-the-floor beat. The usual culprits (guitars in heavy reverb, airy synths, ocean-like washes) flood the mix. As if to remain true to the album title, they eventually abandon the danceable drum track and opt for scattered, off-beat bass drums. The whole scene eventually melts away, leaving whatever sounds are left to wallow in an icy cave. Afraid To Dance sounds like a band inside a machine. Its instruments break the surface every now and then, but remain plagued by the cold noise of one’s and zeros. It’s dark and beautiful—possibly a terribly accurate window into the future.



Download >>Deca-Dance

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Immaculate Machine

"Jarhand"/"Dear Confessor"






Who knew that A.C. Newman, chief of The New Pornographers, had a niece talented enough to cover Neko Case’s parts on tour? Who knew that said niece, Kathryn Calder, belonged to an excellent band called Immaculate Machine? Everyone except me, that’s who. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, Calder shares many similarities with Case, and the band even evokes the pop-spirited sound of The New Pornos. “Dear Confessor” makes wonderful use of catchy harmonies and rolling drums while the band dismiss the usefulness of maps. “Jarhand,” the album opener, is another energetic pop song showcasing the bands impressive use of space (they’re only a trio). The new album Fables (due 6/12) ranges from the power-pop of these tracks to heartfelt mid-tempo ballads. It’s definitely a worthy investment, and with contributions from Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) and Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) we’re obviously not the only ones that think so.



Download >>Jarhand

Download >>Dear Confessor

The Go Find

"Adrenaline"












Laptop pop is a tricky thing. Anyone with a Mac and GarageBand can make a track these days. Luckily, there are still artist that can make art from readily available technology. Dieter Sermeus, a.k.a. The Go Find, make hushed electronic pop. He just recently released Stars On The Wall on Morr Music. “Adrenaline” is the sound of patience in musical form. It starts off with a cheesy drum beat and some drowsy keyboards. Its sleepy tempo momentarily doubles its speed, adding layers of wavering synths and subtle noises. As the song progresses, it becomes buried deeper and deeper in a bed of noise, with each sound essentially washing each other out. It may sound plain or boring on any given day. But at the right moment, when everything seems to be moving too fast around you, “Adrenaline” contradicts its namesake and delivers the dose of downtempo goodness you’ve been needing.




Download >>Adrenaline

Monday, May 28, 2007

Spoon

"Don't Make Me A Target"/"The Ghost Of You Lingers"






How do you introduce new Spoon material? Does it really matter if Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga isn’t any different from any other Spoon release? Of course not. People want their Spoon, and they want it however they can get it. “Don’t Make Me A Target” is the opener for the aforementioned album, and it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the boys; descending muted chord progressions, one-handed piano lines and spiky guitar parts. However, “The Ghost Of You Lingers,” which made its way to the net before the full album had leaked, had everyone fooled. To be honest, regardless of whether I liked the track or not, I was willing to take the journey. I was genuinely interested in the bands new direction. Would the whole album be a Steve Reich inspired piece of minimalism like this song? Would Britt have recorded everything in a bare-bones fashion? Would he really shun the trademark Spoon sound for something a little more avant-garde? Well, apparently not. “The Ghost Of You Lingers” isn’t pushing any musical boundaries, but it definitely drew a line in the sand. Would the hardcore Spoon fans be willing to go along for the ride? Would any skeptics be converted to believers? Who knows. As far as the album goes, it could hold its own separate from the knowledge of any prior albums. But you can’t help but feel like they’ve got something more in them.



Download >>Don't Make Me A Target

Download >>The Ghost Of You Lingers

Simian Mobile Disco

"It's The Beat"/"Tits & Acid"






After becoming kings in the remix game, Simian Mobile Disco decide to step it up with a full length release of original material (not counting their work as Simian). Now, if your thought process is anything like mine, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. But wait, what if I told you Attack Decay Sustain Release (due in the U.K. 6/18) was the hottest album of its kind so far, right behind Justice’s full length? It’s ridiculously addictive, and on par or better than their best remix work. You could pretty much play pin the tail on the donkey with the tracklist and have a 90% chance of scoring a winner. Check out the slow-burning Vitalic techno of opener “Sleep Deprivation,” or the hyperactive acid house of “Tits & Acid.” Better yet, get a whiff of the lead single, the techno-funk anthem “It’s The Beat” featuring The Go! Team’s in-house rapper, Ninja. It doesn’t take a mathematician to solve this equation: Hot tracks + Simple lyrics=Non-stop party. So if you ever get tired of hearing about the apocalypse, SMD’s got you covered. They’ve pretty much establish their priorities upfront: it’s the beat.



Download >>It's The Beat

Download >>Tits & Acid

Friday, May 25, 2007

Okkervil River

"Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe"






Okkervil River are incredibly dramatic, but in a good way. It’s a sort of bookish melodrama, the kind that pans out slowly through novels, page by page. With the combination of Will Sheff singing at the top of his range and the wordless bridge, “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” sounds like the band channeling Arcade Fire’s...…(ahem) fire, but is by no means a copy cat. Sheff sings with wild intensity over persistent, muted acoustic strums and deep pounding drums. The band accents the story, adding spooky piano effects upon the mention of a haunting. It’s hard not to mention the lyrics with lines like: “From the speakers your fake masterpiece comes serenely dribbling.” They read like modern poetry, filled with vivid imagery and detail at every turn. So yeah, this song is pretty awesome. And if it’s any indication of what the bands forthcoming album The Stage Names is going to be like, we can expect great things.



Download >>Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe

Common

"The People"






Oh Common, must you be plagued to live the rest of your career trying to break out of hip-hop limbo? For years now you’ve been straddling the line between underground and commercial success. What’s wrong with the underground anyway? Isn’t that where the people live? Common declares “We do it for the people,” but complains about the Grammy’s doing him wrong in the same breath. Of course, this is all easily forgiven since Common always delivers on the lyrics. On this track, Kanye (apparently the new DJ Premier?) abandons the mainstream production and opts for the underground friendly technique. This could be the sign of Common returning to his “roots,” or just a throwback track for nostalgia’s sake. Whichever way the road takes him, whether commercial success or underground hero, he deserves it. “I’m keeping my eyes on the people, that’s the prize.” I hope he’s telling the truth.



Download >>The People

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Favorties (So Far)

Lazy post alert!!!


Here are some of our favorite previous posts. Most of these are songs from albums that aren't out yet or don't exist. The rest of them are just too kick ass not to repost.

"The Bomb"- New Young Pony Club (original post)
If dance rock is dead, someone forgot to tell NYPC.


Download >>The Bomb



"D.A.N.C.E."/"Phantom"- Justice (original post)
Allow me to rant a little....Justice's full length album simply titled "†"(due 7/10) is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. I haven't listened to an album this obsessively since Neon Bible. That good.


Download >>D.A.N.C.E.

Download >>Phantom



"You'll Find A Way" (Switch & Graeme Sinden Remix)/"Creator"- Santogold (original post)
Yep. Still bananas.


Download >>You'll Find A Way (Switch & Graeme Sinden Remix)

Download >>Creator



"Life After Love"/"Stay Awake"- Low Vs. Diamond (original post)
The best 80's band of '07 (until the Interpol album of course)


Download >>Life After Love

Download >>Stay Awake



"Je Veux Te Voir"- Yelle (original post)
You don't hate the French anymore, do you?


Download >>Je Veux Te Voir



"Konichiwa Bitches" (Trentemøller Remix)- Robyn (original post)
Hot.


Download >>Konichiwa Bitches- Trentemøller Remix



"War On Sound"/"Don't Ya Know"- Moonbabies (original post)
Swedish indie pop. It's a no-brainer.


Download >>War On Sound

Download >>Don't Ya Know



"Sick Sick Sick"- Queens Of The Stone Age (original post)
QOTSA bring the RAWK.


Download >>Sick Sick Sick



"You're A Wolf"/"Ses Monuments"- Sea Wolf (original post)
Are we crazy, or does having "Wolf" in your name guarantee critical acclaim?


Download >>You're A Wolf

Donwload >>Ses Momuments



"Money For All"/"Get The Hell Out"- Nine Horses (original post)
What Pink Floyd might sound like if they were around today.


Download >>Money For All

Download >>Get The Hell Out



"No Comply"- Studio (original post)
Kind of perfect.


Download >>No Comply



"I Am The White-Mantled King"/"Born Again Christian"- Cats On Fire (original post)
Morrissey would be proud.


Download >>I Am The White-Mantled King

Download >>Born Again Christian

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Album Review- Voxtrot


Voxtrot
Voxtrot
8.5/10


Every one of Voxtrot’s songs have been a self contained gem; a stand alone performance that’ll either break your heart or make you dance. The band’s discography contains only three EP’s, which is enough to be enamored by the hearts of the musically aware and gather a dedicated fan base. However, EP’s tend to be like cookies. They can be amazing, sweet, and no matter how full you are you want more. Though just as you could never sustain yourself fully on cookies, a band would be hard to survive solely on EP’s. You need a meal. And like a good meal, an album should be savory and sweet, hardy, something that you can dig your teeth into. This is the best way that I can describe and justify the difference between Voxtrot’s previous releases and their full length debut Voxtrot. It’s food that is different, sometimes startling, though it is clearly made by the same chef, and is just as tasty.

The band is smart enough to ease you into this difference. The first track titled “Introduction” is simultaneously an introduction to their album and an introduction towards a new and slightly more grown up Voxtrot. The song’s swelling strings and guitar “intro” are very much like the Voxtrot that we fell in love with. It’s a beautiful song that captures the essence and charm of the band. Ramesh Srivastava’s lovingly fey and sweet voice carries an energy and punch that highlights his signature “remember when” lyrics.

While the sound of the album is overall more “rock and roll” than previous works, the heartbreak of cello’s can still be heard lifting up Ramesh’s melody. Such is the case in the gem “Ghost”. Pounding waves of piano and drums accompanied by swelling strings and sweet noises hold Ramesh’s increasingly clever wordplay afloat. His lyrics tend to be like short stories and he ventures to use some interesting and sometimes intentionally awkward rhymes and word rhythms a la Stuart Murdoch, matching sounds and consonants rather than perfectly fitting couplets.

Voxtrot also juxtaposes a distinct tone of aggression with the sweetness of earlier songs; both lyrically and in the music. “Stephen” is an easy, fairly straight ahead love song (either fraternal or romantic…you be the judge) that is deceivingly the most traditional Voxtrot song on the album, crooning right from the start, “Stephen I love you, I can’t grow past you.” In contrast, the band rocks out on “Brother in Conflict” while Ramesh shouts, “I wanna drown you in a pool of blood.”

Sometimes in order for you to unlock the true beauty of an album, it takes the same heart and openness that the songwriter invested while creating it. When you allow Voxtrot to settle in to your aural muscle memory, the difference between the bands EP’s and LP will start to fade. You’ll realize that while there might be something to be missed, we as an audience gain so much from an album that is certainly it’s own animal. An animal that doesn’t harp on the past, but evolves from such a sweet canon. I truly feel that if given the chance, Voxtrot will launch it’s namesake into an echelon reserved for the few bands that will shape this decade’s soundtrack.





Download >>Stephen

Download >>Ghost

Monday, May 21, 2007

Album Review- Boxer


The National
Boxer
8.7/10


Alligator, The National’s last effort, was a hit or miss affair. Many critics hailed it as an underrated classic, while others deemed it average or missed it altogether. With Boxer, it will be impossible for anyone to ignore or deny its status; not only is it easily the band’s best album, it’s simply one of the best of the year.

It’s no surprise the so-called “rockers” on Alligator stood out being shoved in between mostly mid-tempo songs. On Boxer, the band manages to distribute its energy evenly over twelve tracks. It still has its slow moments, but they’re more like rest stops rather than detours. They’ve also created a sort of humbled largeness with their sound without becoming overwhelming or indulgent. The string arrangements on “Squalor Victoria” play the supportive role, slowly stretched beyond each phrase over relentlessly driving tom-tom percussion.

Which leads us to Drummer Bryan Devendorf’s contribution to this album-- It cannot be understated. He has always done excellent work on the previous albums, but here he showcases his true skills. His patterns drive the music into interesting territory, while still playing the supportive role. “Brainy” finds him cramming every drum in his kit into each verse. Mostly all of the other songs benefit from his inventive rhythms.

Matt Berninger’s lyrics have always been sung in a weary, everyman tone, and Boxer show no signs of a different approach. Some lyrics actually sound ridiculous, such as on “Ada” in which Berninger sings “Ada don’t talk about reason why you don’t want to talk about reasons why you don’t want to talk.” But these clumsy, circular refrains have become characteristic of the band. It’s the sort of thing you expect from The National-- an endearing sort of weakness. This may even be what makes the band sound so humble.

From the excellent first track “Fake Empire,” to the spooky spy-riff opening of “Mistaken For Strangers,” to the beautiful, acoustic “Start A War,” Boxer is incredibly strong and consistent. Each song has something to offer, never showing any visible signs of a formula at work. Everything sounds honest, but is laced with just enough drama to make it interesting. There’s no life altering revelations here. No groundbreaking music developments. No pretentiously deep meanings to be dug up. There’s just a great album. It’s something no one will be able to ignore.



Download >>Fake Empire

Download >>Squalor Victoria


Friday, May 18, 2007

GoodBooks

"The Illness"






Will we ever get sick of that cowbell? From the moment the drummer launched into that driving cymbal/tom shuffle, persistently knocking on said cowbell, I knew I was going to have to give in. “The Illness,” from their EP of the same name (due 7/5), is the sort of dramatic song you’d associate with post-punk Britain, and if you’d done so, you’d be exactly right. But no matter who GoodBooks owe their debts to, the song is pretty killer in its own right. From the scraps of buzzed-out guitars to the huge hook practically begging to be echoed by overzealous teenaged concertgoers, “The Illness” has crossover success written all it. Although it’s not quite clear whether they’d be crossing over from indie to mainstream or from England to America, I’m certain that one of the two are inevitable. I’ll have to give the drummer the majority of credit for peaking my interest with his percussive skills, but the rest of the band definitely gets props for fleshing the whole thing out. I’ll avoid the obvious band comparisons. Let’s just assume that GoodBooks will be big.



Download >>The Illness

Cornelius

"Sensuous"






Within the maze of the glitched out- post techno- folktronic- cut-n-pasteology world that is Cornelius exists a little piece of serenity named “Sensuous.” While the lead off/title track of his recent U.S. release may inspiring yawning from most, especially among fans, it somehow manages to keep my attention more than anything else on the album. It’s spacious and well measured, with guitar plucks chopped and panned across the mix. It’s one of those rare tracks where you enjoy the silence in between just as much as the sounds themselves. The details are much clearer, and the small changes in texture seem large within the context of its atmosphere (i.e. the guitar noises that burst like mini-explosions inside an echo chamber). I’ve always had an affinity for music that seems destined for film. Just like film, every moment in life has the potential to be scored, and I always find myself collecting songs in anticipation for a certain moment. This one will be filed under “Considerably long moments of contemplation.”



Download >>Sensuous

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Go! Team

"Grip Like A Vice"






So with a never ending sample tank of 80’s flashbacks, action show themes, and dusty drum loops, The Go! Team return to follow up critics fav Thunder, Lightning, Strike!. The first taste, “Grip Like A Vice” is breakdance anthem with the women in mind. The bands resident rhyme spitter Ninja drops pro-female verses old-school style, even repeatedly name checking the decade that birthed the technique. It’s hard to tell exactly how much of the music is sampled as opposed to live overdubs, but it all blends perfectly into a ruckus-fest of brass fanfare, strings, and lo-fi guitar noise. As usual, there’s the beefy backbeat of multi-tracked drum kits— which is what really makes the song party-worthy. This one’s a no-brainer; they already did all the work for you. All you have to do is add the moves.



Download >>Grip Like A Vice

Black Moth Super Rainbow

"Sun Lips"






When people start tossing out terms like ‘Psychedelic,’ it usually means something in the music has that swirling flange effect or that it sounds ‘colorful.’ Hardly do you ever come across the type of Psychedelicness that actually makes you feel like you’re on drugs instead of wanting to be on them. But I’ll be damned if Black Moth Super Rainbow aren’t the type of Psychedelic that makes “Lucy In The Sky…” sound like “Bye Bye Bye.” The first half of Dandelion Gum seems to wonder in and out of focus, but by the time we hit “Sun Lips” it finds it footing. You can easily imagine yourself floating in a field of daisies with its sleepy, flute like synthesizers and tweaked out robotic vocals. And while its effect is dangerously potent, it’s also a little scary to imagine a band this committed to the material. But pysch-nerdness aside, “Sun Lips” is easily the best trip you’ll find without indulging in illicit substances. Just be sure not to operate heavy machinery.



Download >>Sun Lips