Normally when an album has been as anticipated as much as Veckatimest has, it inevitably sinks under the weight of expectation. In the case of Grizzly Bear, everything they have done since 2006′s Yellow House has signalled a band nearing their creative peak. (more…)
To perfect honest, I’m not even sure what this album is yet, but it already seems like one of the more interesting albums of the year. My guess is that this Finnish group have tried to created a carefully sculpted transmission of obscured sounds recycled into fresh composition in the same style as Quiet Village’s Silent Movie. (more…)
I’ve been fortunate this week. Plenty of musical gems have come my way and this album is most certainly one of them. Evocative of Will Oldham but with enough colour and variety to retain its own identity, Fear of Flying sticks out like a beacon amongst an overcrowded genre of American songwriters.
I listened to this song while sitting on top of a mountain, staring out at a sea of gentle waves…and it couldn’t have been more perfect. May Your Heart Be The Map is a soothing, softly flowing album ideal to get wrapped up in on a shimmering sunmmer’s day. I only wish it had eluded me until now. (more…)
I’ve just discovered this song and have made an instant connection with it. I want to plaster myself in the words and own it forever…so I’ve gone ahead and bought the EP via her website: $6 (€3.99) for a handmade CD of beautifully stark folk songs recorded in a bedroom in Brooklyn. I encourage you to do the same… (more…)
This album is a beautiful collection of sounds. If you get as little shut-eye as I do, you’ll appreciate ambience as finely crafted as this. I cherish records seemingly created just for sleep (Lucky Pierre, Stars of the Lid, Echospace); whether it be soundtracking a 10 hour bus ride, a 32 hour train trip, or just the drawn-out, restless journey towards morning, it takes something special to gently lull the overactive imagination towards stillness.
It’s difficult to sum up Silent Movie in one fell swoop. To say that it’s sample-heavy or electronic-based would be quite misleading. It’s a hybrid album that ‘interpolates’ extended pieces from obscure records (e.g. Writing on the Wall’s ‘Buffalo’, which I posted earlier) and adds new elements to form a slow-burning collage of soul, jazz and ambient styles. The end-product is an enjoyable and immensely relaxing ride that easily adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts. Expect this to feature in plenty of end-of-year lists.
Quiet Village – ‘Circus of Horror’
You can download the above song as a free mp3 from here or check out the video for ‘Silent Movie‘ which I previously posted for more. If that has you hooked, full bio below: (more…)
This is a gorgeously sunny song from a record chock-full of them – perfect for that Friday feeling.
I had been hearing nothing but good things about Sea Lion for some time yet some niggling and seemingly unexplainable waver of cynicism made held me back. I’ve been giving it a few spins this week and can finally add to the streams of gushing praise. In fact, there’s not a bad song on there. (more…)
Helping to put a sultry step in your stride for whatever tonight may hold…
Joseph Arhur is a prolific painter and musician from Brooklyn who has just released his second of five schedules releases in 2008. Crazy Rain is just one of four EPs to surface along with a full-length album as Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts, all via 14th Floor records.(more…)
This number, on the other hand, is a rollicking epic that pays tribute to those who pioneered the Krautrock and motorik genres in the ’70s – a sort of pseudo-cover of Neu!, in fact, as it recreates the backbone of their stunning first-album opener, ‘Hallgallo’. (more…)
While I’m in the mood, I’m going to post up a couple more new tracks by bands quite clearly tipping their hats to the forebearers of garage rock. Take these White Denim tunes for starters: they’re visceral, loose and full of the kind of energy you can only get from recording live. This song and three other excellent tunes are available for free download here. (more…)
I feel like I’m on a roll today. Brilliant stuff from this Austin-based group who dabble “in psychedelic volks-rots.” Two mp3s from their album Bright Blue Dream can be downloaded for free over at their MySpace. (more…)
Perhaps it was the name that mislead me, but M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel’s collaborative project had me expecting an album of luvy-duvy duets. In reality, Ward’s gravely croon makes few appearances here – and that’s not the only reason his fans may find this a somewhat frustrating listen. (more…)
Having grabbed Plants and Animals’ new album the second I saw it, last year’s With/Avec EP is starting to feel like a discovery that’s still paying off. Where ‘Faerie Dance’ was the standout track on the latter release, their full-length debut sees the band raising their game substantially, ensuring that such quality is matched throughout Parc Avenue. (more…)
I’ve been waxing lyrical about these guys since the day they signed to Bella Union. Now I can exclusively reveal that Fleet Foxes have recorded their very own Take Away Show at Noise Pop just yesterday, and given that Pitchfork have just stamped n 8.7 on their new EP Sun Giant (released today), I think their forthcoming appearances at SXSW could see these guys being the most talked about band over the coming months – the kind of hype that can often make people wary before they’ve even heard a note.
Fleet Foxes – ‘English House’
As for the music itself, it’s rich in the kind of uplifting harmonies Grizzly Bear are known for, though with a very pronounced gospel influence. Saying that, the dynamics repeatedly shift, hitting peaks and highlights when you thought there could be none left, their shimmering baroque arrangements (which will inevitably draw comparisons to the likes of CSNY) feeling like a much needed release of endorphins. (more…)
It’s just about impossible to listen to the Felice Brothers without Bob Dylan and The Band coming to mind. It doesn’t matter if the constant comparison bothers them, it’s simply unavoidable. So much so that any talk of coincidence feels just downright insulting. Hailing from the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, the Felice Brothers’ brand of gritty America has already won them a dizzying amount of plaudits, despite only being signed to Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records earlier this month.
However all the while, naysayers have been raising questions: Is this misguided imitation? A tribute act without the covers? (more…)
I can assuredly call this my album of the week. Danish duo The Raveonettes have returned with an album of slick, stylish and sultry pop songs to reclaim the form of 2003′s The Chain Gang of Love.
The Raveonettes – ‘Dead Sound’
Lust, Lust, Lust plays like an inebriated walk-through of The Everly Brothers, The Velvets and The Jesus Mary Chain, the various fragments crystallising together in whispered two-part harmonies and deft guitar lines saturated with reverb. On its own terms, however, the album offers a seductive (but ultimately apathetic) meditation on sex, drugs and the chemistry of a relationship in bloom. Somewhat fittingly then, the recipe wanes towards the end, but the spark that the opening track sets in motion provides more than enough tingle to hook you in.
This song was recorded during a three-month solo sojourn by Justin Vernon somewhere in the woods of Northwestern Wisconsin. Apart from committing songs to tape, these solitary days were filled with bouts of wood chopping in the onset of winter (the name Bon Iver being inspired by the French for ‘good winter’), providing enough space to inspire the introspective aesthetic behind his startling debut, For Emma, Forever Ago.
I must admit I hadn’t heard of Bon Iver before the announcement of this year’s stellar Primavera Sound line-up the other day, (more…)
‘Clapping Hands’ is the perfect example of what indie-pop is capable of. It’s the sort of infuriatingly catchy but criminally overlooked gem that most open-minded people would find difficult to resist. Condensed into just over two minutes, every single ingredient of its simple but sugary charm is perfectly placed: the swaying vocal harmonies, the horn stabs, the brief descent of the wind organ, the sing-along chorus, the swinging tambourines, the clicking fingers and the, well, clapping hands. This kind of precision virtually guarantees immediate effect and is the stuff songwriters dream of.
No Kids – ‘For Halloween’
So when I learned that No Kids represents a side-project for three-quarters of P:ano’s members, naturally I was keen to give their new album Come Into My House a listen. (more…)
L.A. drum-and-guitar duo No Age are another band that have been earning plaudits via their let’s-play-everywhere-we-can-all-the-time touring philosophy. I first saw them sharing a crowded bill with, amongst others, Dan Deacon, where the lights were all but out, no one could get a drink, the heating was busted, the schedule running late, and the crowd generally growing impatient and frustrated with the way the night was unfolding. Up step these two guys, treating the stage like a stage; no gimmicks, no effect pedals…just some focused energy and the will to allow their songs to create the first impressions. Away from the narrative efforts of their studio work, a set of melodic, feel-good songs – admittedly buried under some seriously thrashy guitar — seemed to win over just about everyone and turn the night right around. Whether ‘post-punk’ or ‘noise pop’ are fair tags to brand them with, I’m not so sure, but if these guys continue the way they’re going, it looks like you’ll soon have an opportunity to decide all for yourself… (more…)
Born Ruffians are a spritely dose of indie-pop from Ontario, Canada, cheeky and cheerful enough to be landed on the ever-dependable Warp label. Their cover of Grizzly Bear’s ‘The Knife’ never made an impression of me, nor did the amount of airplay and column inches they received for their radio-friendly single ‘This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life’. But here in their team colours, the whippersnappers (and that is the word I most associate with their music) throw up a few numbers that are uplifting and silly enough to soundtrack a summer barbeque. Peppy, pimple-faced and positively overflowing with directionless pop hooks, the trio’s album – produced by Animal Collective/Panda Bear mixer Rusty Santos – is released March 4th.
Few bands have enjoyed a wildfire of hype in 2008 to the same degree as MGMT (a pair of music students from Wesleyan University formerly known as “The Management”) and their colourful new album Oracular Spectacular. At this point it may seem as if Brooklyn’s capable of producing an infinite number of dynamic, spaced-out indie group, but to see what all the buzz is about, these two tracks might be a good jumping off point. I prefer the demo version of ‘The Handshake’ as it seems a bit more focused and distilled…and there’s a little less ‘Ziggy-ness’ about it.
I’ve had their tunes rattling around in my head for a few days now, but it came as a little bit of a surprise to find out that the Straw Bear Band are in fact a little-known UK act and not, given the extreme similarities between Cooper’s voice and that of Vetiver’s Andy Cabic, from the foothills of California.
The Straw Bear Band – ‘Clustered Lights Above’ (more…)
This is a beautifully stark album that really makes me think about the triviality of genres and the essence of music itself. What is the foundation of a good, well-written song? If something is infectious, memorable, makes you move or is any way immediately affecting, then there’s a tendency there to throw the word ‘pop’ in there, even if the music has no realistic commercial potential at all.
Timber Timbre – Under Your Spell
Timber Timbre seems inseparable from blues, gospel, folk and pop…yet, really, it doesn’t lend itself sufficiently to any of these things to be labelled as such. It’s just good, naked music that makes you realise how limiting classification can be – something often decided by a mere choice in instruments. Timber Timbre reminds me that there is an underlying bedrock of music – something that’s pure, distilled and, most of all, certainly not new.(more…)
Despite the name, this is a song of eager anticipation. It’s perfect for fueling the right kind of rush, that slight flicker of giddiness when you’re not late and you’re cruising along to somewhere you actually want to be. Every week I hear a new band that tries to hold a flame up to a legacy of dark, assaulting overdriven guitar – an influential canon that comprises the forgotten heroes of underground garage rock and the king of shoegaze. But as the “loudest band in New York,” A Place to Bury Strangers don’t do a bad job at all.
For some time, the new Magnetic Fields album, Distortion, had been languishing inexplicably at the bottom of my “to-listen” pile. But as one cursory listen will reveal, this album is full of surprises. Recalling their earlier work, Distortion‘s production values make it sound an unreleased album consigned to the archives and forgotten about for decades.
While the heavy-hearted dynamic that characterised Beach House’s debut is alive and well, Devotion boasts a much more expansive pallet. It’s denser, more colourful, and seems intent on asserting itself as much more alive and reactive than its predecessor. But while these are welcome additions, they do little to put any considerable distance between the new material and the characteristically moody ballads that comprised the first album.
I’ve slowly grown into this album and it has already become one of my favourites in 2008. Okay, so it may have been released in October and the songs were originally recorded back in 2005, but I’m hoping it will be a big year for Foreign Born…because for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they haven’t already succeeded to the throne of Pitchfork darlings, their songs the toast of the Blogosphere.
Foreign Born – ‘Holy Splinter’
Instead, you are far more likely to have heard of them through the passing praise of other musicians such as Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, who considers himself “borderline obsessed” with the band and their debut EP, In The Remote Woods.
Where the belated championing of Vashti Bunyan has been a case of beautiful folk music being re-discovered, the story of Sibylle Baier is one of a talent that never made it far enough to be forgotten. Colour Green is an album of songs from home reel-to-reel tape recordings Baier made in Germany between 1970 and 1973, collected together by her son as a gift to family members over three decades later.
As one of the best albums of 2007, much of the attention that Liars’ fourth (and, arguably, best) album received centered on how the band had finally forsaken their conceptual efforts to simply focus on the art of the song, and the diversity that yet another stylistic U-turn displayed. No experimental electronic music with elaborate titles, just stripped down, visceral rock-pop with refined song structures.
But beyond the straight-ahead thrusts of the singles, the real heart of this album lies in two Aaron Helphill-penned tunes that showcase his incredible songwriting talents…
Unconventional, intriguing, literate, experimental, hectic, flustering – much as I’ve tried to be taken by the music of this arty brother-sister combo, time and time again, everything about the Fiery Furnaces has made it a surprisingly difficult task. But with the ’70s bounce of ‘Ex-Guru’, however, a door has finally be opened…Hopefully there’ll be no going back.
You have to feel for El Guincho. As good as his album, Alegranza, may be, this could be one of the most unfortunate cases of bad timing in recent times. Coming hot on the heels of the undisputably brilliant Peson Pitch by Panda Bear, the comparisons were both inevitable and unenviable.
While ‘The Mysterious Production of Eggs‘ was always going to be a tough act to follow, I’m surprised ‘Armchair Apocrypha’ hasn’t made it on to more best-of-year lists. Densely layered, beautifully written and charmingly neurotic, I can’t imagine how anyone could fail to be disarmed by Andrew Bird’s showcase of weaving idiosyncracies. (more…)
The National never seem to break a sweat or as much as raise a voice and perhaps that’s one reason why I think this album requires time to be properly absorbed. I bought ‘Alligator’ when it first came out and I just couldn’t warm to the dulled, monotones of Matt Berninger voice. Yet seeing them live made me realise that it was more a case of brandishing insightful lyrics that needed to be muttered tenderly (more…)
Certainly the most colourful and sprightly album of the year, this tracksuited madman has used his degree in composition to create a phenomenon that never fails to get everyone bouncing in fits of giddiness. (more…)
Describing a band’s music in terms of other acts has always been something that bothers me. But Gravenhurt’s ‘The Western Lands’ is something not of its own. It walks a quaint and peculiar path that meanders from The Smiths to My Bloody Valentine and in doing so, leads you to an unexpected conclusion: that music like this hasn’t been made for quite a long time. (more…)