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



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


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


"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


"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)

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


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

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


"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



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

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Twilight Sad

"That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy"

I really slept on this one. I’ve been holding on to it for months. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but when I first heard “Cold Days From The Birdhouse,” I immediately wrote them off based solely on James Graham’s super thick Scottish accent. “How could anyone take them seriously?” I thought. Am I captain of all the idiotic indie-elite? Indeed I am. But alas, we are all capable of growth. And even before their Best New Music status, I had come to realize that the bands debut full length Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters was a commanding, titanic force to be reckoned with. “That Summer….” became my personal favorite, and, in my opinion, is the one that encompasses everything great about the album. From the heavy thudding tom drums to the lingering guitar noise that seems to struggle to stay afloat. From the heavy crashing of guitars on the chorus set against Grahams’ beautifully dramatic refrains (“The kids are on fire in the bedroom”), to the aftermath (identical to the opening) left in the wake of the storm. If there’s one thing to be learned from all this, it’s this: never judge a man by his kilt.

Download >>That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy


"Man Overboard"

I can’t tell if Polytechnic’s debut album Down Til Dawn is really as awesome as I think or if it’s just one of those sugar-rush type satisfactions. I’m willing to put my money on the former, but I haven’t absorbed it enough to draw any final conclusions. Let it suffice to say that it’s really good, and that “Man Overboard” is a gem amongst many. Polytechnic sounds like a band about to come apart at the seams, or maybe it’s just lead singer Dylan Giles reckless delivery, which is similar to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth. It’s a beautiful thing and somewhat refreshing. If you wanted to, you could easily draw similarities in the music as well, but this would be a lazy comparison. You could just as easily recognize the bands knack for hooks and steady guitar riffage. “Man Overboard” makes use of piano to anchor the songs waltz timing. Add some high-pitched “oohs” under Giles’ emphatic barking and you’ve got some sort of infectious shipwrecked shuffle. Before you know it, they peel back the noise and what was once hard, accented “oohs” have becoming soothing, as if to apologize for all the fuss they caused earlier. Consider them forgiven.

Download >>Man Overboard

Monday, May 14, 2007

The White Stripes

"Icky Thump"

A few years ago The White Stripes played Conan for 5 nights in a row. It was there that those still unfortunate enough to have not seen them live (myself included) were really able to experience (however removed) the incredible power behind the band. They’ve always had an aesthetic to their records that people have obviously been drawn too, but it’s in their live show that an immense power, a force likened to Led Zeppelin, a charisma not like any other band around today, and a certain umph that I consider to be the real essence of The White Stripes comes alive. Though however powerful and rock n roll they may be, I find that umph missing in their records. That is, until now. "Icky Thump", the title track and new single from their forth coming record out in June, is a powerful rock song. One that indeed, captures that UUUMMMPH that I have so been wanting since first seeing what they are capable of in their live show. If anyone has thought that The White Stripes have played out any gimmick that might have existed, or wondered if there was anywhere they could go musically, "Icky Thump" relieves those worries. In addition to the bands trademark guitar and drums, the song is injected with some wicked seventies metal synthesizer. Jack’s dual vocals cackle along side the gut punching guitars in yet another march towards vinyl/analog heaven. "Icky Thump"’s recorded as if your ear is pressed hard against the mesh of the speaker cabinet and yet it’s got enough air for you to swing your fists into someone’s wall. "Icky Thump" only enforces that fact that it doesn’t take Jason Stollsteimer’s face to prove that Jack White is a force to be reckoned with.

Download >>Icky Thump


"Mon Amour"/"Så Blev Det Bestämt"

I was never able to fully appreciate Ta Det Lungt, Dungen’s last effort. Maybe it was all the hype that came before the album was even readily available in the states. Maybe it’s because I had already worn out all my Jimi Hendrix records. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Eventually, I was able to appreciate the album for its skillful arrangements and guitar work, considering it all could be attributed to one man. Gustav Estjes, Dungen’s principle songwriter/arranger/six-string guru, has chops comparable to the aforementioned legend. After accepting the bands obvious obsession with classic rock and all things progressive, I had a much easier time getting acquainted with their latest album Tio Bitar. I’m still blown away by how many instruments Estjes’ has mastered and how well he’s able to piece them together recording most of the parts on his own. “Mon Amour” is a stomping psych-rock rollercoaster that starts on the “groove” setting and ends on “acidtripfreakout.” Starting on a lighter note, “Så Blev Det Bestämt” is a breezy finger picking ballad that gives way to a two minute sitar solo. It’s enough to have you reaching for your hookah. It might also be the only time you refer to something as "heavy" and actually mean it.

Download >>Mon Amour

Download >>Så Blev Det Bestämt

Friday, May 11, 2007

Album Review- Sky Blue Sky

Sky Blue Sky

You've probably heard me talk about the power of simplicity a lot. About how refreshing it is to hear something done simple and well. If you think about the timeless songs of our age, most of them are of the simplest nature. "Yesterday" is the most covered song in history without having anything complicated about it. To be certain, simple songs that are effective are no easier to make than songs made complicated just for the sake of complication. But is it necessary to make a big deal out of the simplicity of the music? Normally, no. But when it comes to Wilco, yes.

Wilco are like the heroes of indie rock, which is interesting since their music could never be classified as such. But if you think about it, they've amassed a dedicated fan base and have been largely successful without ever even coming close to "mainstream" success. Unlike certain bands, lets say Radiohead who also have a dedicated fan base but are known by all, Wilco is still relatively unknown to the mainstream audience. This hero status, whose catalyst was the success of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, creates an impeding pressure on the band to do something different with their sound. Push the envelope and raise the bar. Instead of giving in to these demands, Wilco moves forward with one eye towards the past, specifically towards the M.O.R. FM gold of the seventies. Sky Blue Sky effectively shakes off the experimental (a term Tweedy doesn't like) of recent efforts without fully reverting to their (hates this one too) alt-country roots. And guess what, Sky Blue Sky is better than A Ghost Is Born, and more consistent to boot.

Simple may sound harsh to the ears of the musicians that created the music, and it may give you the impression that the music lacks detail—this of course, would be a terrible assumption. Sky Blue Sky is just as richly detailed as any of their other records. It also probably contains some of Tweedy's most direct lyrics to date. The title track is probably the best example of this newfound marriage with its sweet and breezy guitar strums and ghostly slide guitar wrapped in distant reverb. There also seem to be a running theme in the lyrics, a sort of acceptance of the life you have be it good or bad. "Oh I didn't die/I should be satisfied I survived/It's good enough for now" Tweedy sings on "Sky Blue Sky." The album opener "Either Way" is even more supportive of this theme: "Maybe the sun will shine today/The clouds will blow away/Maybe I won't feel so afraid/I will try to understand either way." While it's tempting to make a connection between Tweedy's new lyrical approach and his personal life, I'd rather consider it general advice for a new mode of living.

When talking about this record, it's impossible not too mention the sounds of it. Its warmth and depth may sound wrong to most ears, especially those used to the cold, over compressed sound of records made today. The approach lends itself to the music very well, creating a vinyl friendly environment just as they had intended.

Regardless of the sound of the record, the songs are what count the most. This, I feel, is what makes Sky Blue Sky a great album. "Impossible Germany" is an obvious highlight, easygoing one moment while creating a ruckus of noise the next. It's a great example of the bands excellent chemistry considering the amount of line-up changes they've experienced. When listening to "What Light," I couldn't help but wonder if Tweedy had covered some long lost Bob Dylan song. The opening lines sound like his modus operandi: "If you feel like singing a song, and you want other people to sing along/Just sing what you feel, don't let anyone say it's wrong." Another highlight from the album would be the closer "On and On and On." It's heartbreaking, yet strangely uplifting. It pretty much sums up the idea of life and death in a mere four minutes. It's a beautiful song, and terribly powerful once you fully absorb its message.

Strip away whatever pre-conceived notion you have of Wilco. Forget how they used to sound, are supposed to sound, or how you hoped they would sound. Sky Blue Sky is the sound of a band at their peak, comfortable with the context in which their music exists and content to be who they are….whoever that may be.

Download >>Impossible Germany

Download >>On and On and On

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cats on Fire

"I Am The White-Mantled King"/"Born Again Christian"

So I really like these guys. They’re called Cats on Fire. Maybe it’s because they’re from Finland and I’m contractually obligated to jizz myself over every band from Scandinavia. Maybe it’s because they do fun things like adding some funky spoken word stuff a la “Dirty Dream Number Two”. Or maybe it’s because, well…call me crazy, singer Mattias Björkas sounds EXACTLY LIKE MORRISSEY! Now before Belle and Sebastian were compared to the likes of T.Rex, they were constantly and sometimes obtusely compared to The Smiths, though Stuart Murdoch never has sounded like Morrissey. Also, no one, as far as I can tell, has been able to successfully conjure both The Smiths and earlier Belle and Sebastian without losing the bands individuality. Once you get past the Moz comparisons, word phrasing and everything, you realize that Cats on Fire are really a great indie pop band. “Born Again Christian”, from their album The Province Complains, fulfills this year’s quota for “super easy fun pop song that my friends will make fun of me for.” I’d like to think that it’s the songs popping guitars, it’s simple beat, and Björkas’ sleepy bravado that get me, but I’d be lying. It’s the Moz and Finland. The Moz. And Finland.

p.s. Check out "I Am The White-Mantled King" from the same album. It’s pretty sweet too.

Download >>I Am The White-Mantled King

Download >>Born Again Christian

History Invades

Intensity In Ten Cities"

Dance punk with a rebellious edge? Count me in. “Intensity In Ten Cities” sounds like a digital fire if there ever was such a thing. It’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that they’re actually a rock band….guitars and all. Gone is the screaming D.C. post punk of their previous album, the trade off being screeching (guitar?) sounds and a cascading kit workout. Which brings me to the drums; either the drummer is a machine, or the machine is a drummer. Screw the typical four on the floor disco dance-- No snare, hihat, cymbal, or tom is left unstruck. They also keep the verse to a lean minute-thirty, leaving the rest of the song open for a jam session. Most of all, you gotta give credit to any band that cites Was (Not Was)(of “Everybody do the dinosaur” fame) as an influence.

Download >>Intensity In Ten Cities

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bonde do Role

"Solta O Frango"/"Geremia"

I wasn’t going to any Brazilian clubs in high school, but it was at that time that I developed an affinity for the freakishly happy jungle music that had me shakin’ what my mama told me not to. This track, "Solta O Frango" (or "Release the Chicken"), by Bonde do Role shows me that the Brazilian club scene hasn’t changed too much. I’m sorry- did she say Release the Chicken? YES. I did. The title of the song is silly the same way the song is: pounding George of the Jungle drums mixed with a squeaky female voice alternating with feigned classic hip-hop beats and a crowd-mentality chorus that urges everyone to “release their chicken”. The fact that it’s a self-contained party is what’s so appealing about this style of music. With effects that our beloved Timbaland may not be brave enough to use, this song is a collage of funky and funny that needs to be listened to, if not enjoyed THOROUGHLY.

Later on in their album, BDR ventures out into new territory. “Geremia” is a song that sets this group on a different level, mainly due to its lack of bass. Blasphemous as it sounds, these Brazilians have managed to create an infectious dance hit that doesn’t really need more than a muted drum line hook in the background that keeps the song hopping along. Heaven forbid I fail to mention the kazoo chorus that sets up the entire theme for the song. The only thing about this track that takes some getting used to is the pubescent male voice that drones on verse after verse. Typical of (dare I say it) Baile Funk music, teenagers are often given creative reign over vocals and lyrics. The result is a lot of inside jokes and colloquialisms that no one really gets (anyone releasing their chicken, yet?) Still, no one really seems to care. The songs are just too funky to let a little thing like verbiage get in the way.

Conclusion? Bonde do Role is not revolutionizing Brazilian music at all, but is continuing a healthy Brazilian tradition: shake that booty if you’re gorgeous. Heck, shake it if you’re ugly! Just shake it! Thus concludes our cross-culture lesson for today.

Download >>Solta O Frango

Download >>Geremia

Kelley Polar


Retro future-funk. There’s nothing redundant about it. All you need one listen to Kelly Polar’s last album Love Songs Of The Hanging Gardens to become a believer. Mixing electro beats with Philly soul string arrangements, Kelly Polar creates irresistible dance floor anthems. With one foot in disco and the other tangled up in electronics, you end up with the sort of space-station futurisms you hear on “Rosenband.” Harmonies don’t hurt either, and Polar’s got plenty. And while they work a more subtle angle here than they had on Love Songs, they're no less effective. They still add a layer of soulful flavor. I would have expected the title track from the Chrysanthemum EP to be the stand out, but “Rosenband” beat it out by a long run. Hopefully all the songs on the next album will aim for the same.

Download >>Rosenband

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


"Laff At Em" (Give It To Me Remix feat. Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake)

Get over it. We like Timbaband. I don’t care if this is the umpteenth post dedicated to him, this remix is worth twenty more. In fact, I don’t even know why they called this a remix. It’s a bona fide stunner on its own. Even with JT throwing out a “Give it to ya’” every now and then, Tim could have easily slipped this track on to Shock Value right behind the original and no one would have complained. But alas, I’m guessing since Jay-Z reportedly missed the deadline for the album (along with Kanye West), this must have been his way of making it up to us. Easily the best verse from his most recent guest appearances: “I ditty-bop like Diddy back when Biggie cockeyes hypnotized the masses behind Versace glasses.” Even Timbaland rides the beat like a pro. I’ll spare you the overreaching superlatives. Just know it’s fucking hot.

Download >>Laff At 'Em (Give It To Me Remix)

Rocky Votolato

"The Wrong Side Of Reno"

Votolato has become a master at the rootsy blues-folk from the days of old. The Brag & Cuss, his follow up to last years excellent Makers, makes no attempt to fix what ain’t broke. It offers up the same brand of down-trodden, country tinged, self-deprecating sweetness you’d expect from a farm raised Texan (Now that I think about it, most of the people I know from Texas are the opposite of self-deprecating, but whatever). “I hear a train whistle blowin’/And it’s in key with my song,” he starts on “Wrong Side Of Reno.” It starts like a typical acoustic guitar/harmonica set, but brings in the tom-tom and rim shot percussion on the chorus. I’ve always been able to appreciate Votolato’s lamenting for more than woe-is-me-ism. He manages to sound confessional and masculine at the same time. There’s something honorable about a man singing about his troubles unabashedly.

Download >>The Wrong Side Of Reno

Monday, May 7, 2007

Radical Face


While Electric President did its best to harness the electronic charm of The Postal Service, Ben Cooper’s music as Radical Face is more in touch with the roots of folk and Americana, but updates the two with electronic flourishes. Ghost operates on a much grander scale as well. Like most of the songs on the album, “Glory” is the sound of something majestic and all too important. It’s made of the stuff soldiers would rally to in the final hours of battle… least that’s the impression I get from the marching sounds in the intro. Despite its grandiose scope, the song still remains humbled with simplicity. Its presence is just as affable as it is effective, and you can’t help but be enamored by it. I’d like to think there’s still room in the world for songs like that.

Download >>Glory



Chris Adams is back again, but this time in the form of Bracken, his latest side project. After several albums with his primary outfit Hood, Adams recently released We Know About The Need on the alternative rap label Anticon. What seems like an odd pairing on paper actually works in reality, even though Bracken would never be filed in the rap section. Maybe Brit-Hop? “Heathens” starts in some dark echo chamber. After its twisted introduction, a clattering hip hop drum beat and chopped vocals flood the mix. Adams has always displayed an affection of hip hop style sampling, which was apparent with Hood. So you can pretty much expect the same thing from We Know About The Need. “Heathens” warrants some comparisons to Beta Band, or maybe even a chilled out Hot Chip. Basically, it’s downtempo with a backbeat. And in this case, that’s actually not a bad thing.


Friday, May 4, 2007


“The Heinrich Maneuver”

This is too easy. I’m starting to think Interpol will never have to change their formula and they’ll still sound pretty awesome. “The Heinrich Maneuver” uses all the same typical Interpol trademarks: One-note guitar strokes, a strict, straightforward drum track, and Paul Banks cryptic lyrics (“You wear those shoes like a dove”). What more do you want? Change? Progress? Too bad. These dudes will probably ride the same wave until there’s nothing left.

Download >>The Heinrich Maneuver


"Hit That"

I can’t figure out if this is supposed to be a parody of all those macho songs bragging about how many girls they can sleep with in one night or if Maya’s just feeling really freaky these days. If you didn’t catch it the first time “Boys let me see you hit that” is pretty much the gist. I can’t imagine she’s trying for radio play, but “Hit That” is definitely lighter on the nasty analog of Arular. Its still got M.I.A. written all over it-- who wouldn’t recognize those signature vocals? “Hit That” isn’t even one of the highlights on the forthcoming Kala when compared to some of the other tracks floating around. It’s more like a lean appetizer to prepare you for the big meal.

Download >>Hit That

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Architecture in Helsinki

"Heart It Races"

The music of Architecture in Helsinki always seems to be on the brink of musical chaos; twee vocals that try to sound tough, arrangements that combine tubas, recorders, trombones, and bouncy analog synthesizers. Their new single “Heart it Races” from their upcoming album Places Like This pushes the barely in-control aesthetic even closer to the brink of chaos, though somehow the band gathers enough gravitas and sweet ass rhythms to keep you groovy. The word “tougher” comes to mind when I hear “Heart it Races”. Maybe it’s the lower than usual vocal “baum, baum-bu-dum-bu-dum” accompaniment, that sets the song running into a calypso type rhythm filled with steel drums and everything. If the single is any indication of how Places Like This will turn out, Architecture in Helsinki have definitely stepped up not only the presence of the vocals, but the way in which they use their voices as yet another instrument in their arsenal. “Heart it Races” is significantly less straight ahead as some older songs like, “Maybe You Can Owe Me”, “It’s Five”, or even “Do The Whirlwind”. While I very much enjoy the diversity and maybe even maturity that “Heart it Races” has presented, I’m cautious to say it’s a step in the right direction. Too much of these clever musical juxtapositions could send you into a dizzy dry heave.

Download >>Heart It Races


“So Post All ‘Em”

Forgive me, but I’m slightly baffled. YACHT is one half of the blow, and the man responsible for all of those hot tracks on Paper Television right? Right. So how come “So Post All ‘Em,” the lead off track from his ridiculously titled solo album I Believe In You. Your Magic Is Real sounds like some experimental, tribal voodoo dance? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great start. I only wish the rest of the album indulged in more of the left-field Animal Collectivism of this track. It sounds like a dozen acoustic guitar overdubs with a dozen galloping hand drums to match. Of course, he adds in random effects and other manipulations to remind you you’re not listening to Brazilian folk music (no, I don’t have any idea what that really sounds like either). The song does a good job of blurring the lines between electronic and acoustic. If only the other tracks on I Believe… followed suit…

Download >>So Post All ‘Em

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Cinematic Orchestra

"To Build A Home (Feat. Patrick Watson)"

I'm a sucker for cinematics. So, at least for me, the aptly titled Cinematic Orchestra can't possibly go wrong. This track, featuring Patrick Watson, is a beautifully drawn out soundscape, scoring the precious moments between the complexities of day-to-day life and the simple things we take for granted. Simplicity is also key to the song. "This is a place where I don't feel alone/This is a place where I feel at home." It's a basic discovery that may seem trite or cheesy to most ears, but will resonate with those that have felt alienated in their own abode. It's not necessarily an ode to the outcast, but more a celebration of one of the most basic human needs: the need to belong. I know, I know, it sounds like overwrought philosophical blah-blah-blah. But it's hard not to dig for a deeper meaning when things are made so beautifully simple.

Download >>To Build A Home (Feat. Patrick Watson)

Patrick Watson


I don't know how last years Closer To Paradise managed to slip through the cracks, but it did. I'm not going to try to convince you it's some sort of underrated album of the year (it's not), but I definitely felt it was worthy of some attention. Maybe people just got sick of Canadians. Who knows. All I remember is hearing it and being caught up in its sweeping arrangements and dramatic orchestration-- both of which I'm a sucker for too. From the rolling piano line of "Drifters" to the fairytale-gone-wrong electronics of "Daydreamer," every song is laced with cinematically themed music, which happens to have vocals on it. This doesn't mean Watson's voice is dismissive (he sort of resembles Jeff Buckly in his softer moments), just that the music draws you in more with its engaging arrangements. "Drifters" is actually more driving than the title suggest, with an ever building crescendo. The only thing that really "drifts" is Watson's melody. "Daydreamer" shuffles between skittering beats and banjo plucks showcasing the albums diverse sonic pallet. As of now, Patrick Watson is Canada's best kept secret.

Download >>Daydreamer

Download >>Drifters