Saturday, February 25, 2012

Popular Baby Delusions

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Let's get right to the pick of the weeks of the century!  All links are to Spotify.  Get it, get premium, get the mobile app and then get Tomahawk and listen to Soundcloud and Spotify from the same player on your Mac or PC.  You will not go back.

Rachel Sermanni

"Black Current - Rachel Sermanni" - Yeah, just what we need - another Kate Bushy / Vashti Bunyon type plying songs about dreams but damn it, can't get this out of the heavy rotation until it makes its mysteries clear to me.  Beautiful arrangement of strings, percussion, nylon string guitar (guess) and Ms. Sermanni's fairy princess voice.

"Severus and Stone - Radical Face" - Reminds me much of the Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby that came out of the same NC folk cloud that produced Wye Oak (for better or worse).  This song even has a short story attached to it in case you don't get that it's really a chilling ghost story of two brothers.

"Smoke in the Desert, Eating the Sand, Hide in the Grass" - Envelopes.  For some weird reason Spotify identifies the band name as BRILDB107DLX, which would be a cool name if they decide to change.  And actually, they do change from their previous album (Demon) which sounded more VU'ish.  Here, they shed the whole "I'll Be Your Mirror" vibe and are rocking with their tiny French cocks out.  Even that doesn't diminish from the awesomeness of this track which comes off their longer player, Here Comes The Wind.  They should get Spotify to fix this name FUBAR.

"Pa Que Vives" - Davila 666.  If Envelopes are rocking with their thang out, Davila 666 rocks with their middle fingers extended.  Can't understand a thing they are saying but the noise is just as glorious in their Puerto Rican garages as any others around this small world.

"Amber" - Labryinth Ear.  Superlative dream chill track from the English electronic duo's Apparitions EP.

"Wow Wave Cinema" - Unicycle Loves You - Buzzy midwest trio that sort of remind me of Pavement.  Their fronting something else as the single from their album but this oughta be at least the next one.

"Murder1" - Wazu.  I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to blame MGMT for the wave of electronic duos once they start putting out shitty music.  But this ain't one band to throw a tantrum over and makes me rethink the notion that this whole two-person electronic gadget / laptop group is more than just a passing phaze.  Excellent first outing (Wavu EP available everywhere and nowhere now).

"Little Things" - Experimental Pop Band.  The single off of EPB's latest makes me wish it was a big fluffy pillow I could puff up and lay my head on it.  More pop like this, please.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunglasses at Night, I don't need Light

Garden 360

So before I get started - two comments so far about Spotify.

First, to Spotify - please fix your applications.  They shouldn't crash so often.  This is your lifeblood - even if you have to lose money at it, get your programming talent on it or you will bleed off users.  Spotify, you need to REALLY improve the social networking capability, it's more than just interfacing with Facebook and being able to spam someone with songs, which I pity the poor mp3 bloggers once the promotion guys get their spotify user name!  Add things like "trophy rooms", skins, stuff users and fans can create and invite their friends to look at.

Second to all the bands, especially those who don't put their music up on Spotify (or RDIO).  Forget it, it's too late.  ACTA/SOPA/whatever ain't gonna save you.  You are missing a great opportunity with Spotify.  The APP development capability should be exploited by bands and labels.  Think about it - you can make an app that provides bonuses to your users if they buy merch.  For instance, I buy a t-shirt and I get a new skin or I get something like a sticker or trophy (and ).  What if you get a trophy if you listen to the entire output of an artist.  Or a buck off the vinyl album - which you buy through the spotify interface direct to your merchandiser site.  The possibilities right now are endless.  The first band or label to do this is going ride the first wave in.

Now, onto the tunes of the week.  These come from my current "Heavy Rotation" list.

"Orange Blossom" - Gardens & Villa.  Although I guess the big song off this is "Black Hills", I really like this one much better.  It's got a slow jam, e-drum feel to it but doesn't sound dated at all.  The singing is great as well.

Field Music

"A New Town" - Field Music  - A great song off this new album called Plumb.  Has a sort of soul feel to it with a great 80 funk bass line.  There's also a water pipe played by a percussionist I suppose.  It's there in the background and gets a solo in the final seconds. A new town is not enough.  There's some other nice cuts on this album I may get to.

"Just A Song About Ping Pong" - Operator Please - Fast snot punk, well recorded, not much else to read into it except that it's just a song about ping pong.  We need more songs about ping pong.

"Caught Me Thinkin - Bahamas- This is another slow-ish jam.  Bahamas kind of lives up to its name.  You expect this light pop to be playing at some beach dive - perhaps New Jersey because the lead up to the bridge has a sort of Philly Soul chord progression.  Nice almost plucked guitar hook enlivens the lead-in to the verses.

"American Daydream" - Electric Guest - the second cut I like from this four song EP(? - at least from what I can tell).  Another smooth pop thang with an extra slinky chorus, fat, wet snare sound.  Love it.

"Cool Bitch" - Trevor Childs - while girls write songs about how guys are jerks around them, guys write songs idealizing the women they then ignore/belittle/cheat on.  This has also been mashed up to some Miami Vice cuts so gives you an idea of what to expect.

Arder / Bailar - Tigres Leones - this is the a-side of a single from this Spanish band.  It's kind of simple and lo-fi but has mucho spirito and reminds me of stuff I used to do in the '80s.

"Jealous" - The Super Orchestra - Majestic teen-weeper with a creepy stalkerish vibe and musical climaxes - everything but the key change - "If I can't make you want me / I'll make you look at me"... well hopefully whomever is the object of the song-writers affections has heard this song at least.

"This Is Not A Song" - Islands - Clever, sad-alt broken-hearts club song sung with typical perfection by Nic Thorburn.  Comes from their new album.  This is the song that the girl puts her feet on top of your shoes and you dance real slow.

River Boat - The Soft Hills - Alt-folk with what sounds like a found Moog doing the dirty work of providing a verse answering song hook.  More saddy sad musik - what is wrong with me this week?

And Then She Walks Away - Good Shoes.  Not usually fan of the pop-punk sound and almost put this album into the do-not-listen-anymore pile and then this number comes up and kind of redeems them (rest of the album still is kinda not to my liking).  But this rocks alright even if lawyers from The Strokes might want to investigate theft of their sound.

My Soldier - Highasakite.  Norway chick who is a cross between K. Bush and Bjork and takes her name, I guess, from Blister in the Sun or maybe that Nickie Minaj song, haha.  As you might surmise, this is a song from a girl to her soldier.  Again, SAD.  Didn't even know Norway had an Army.  Love the brittle recording/producing approach to this song.  It's almost like the aural equivalent of creme brulee.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Just Getting Started

Lady in Window, Germany, 1977
More best songs of the moment...

Seven Stars - Air - While the whole concept album kind of drags, this cut stands on its own quite well as a sort of Floydian/Ziggy ode to rocketcraft.

Sick - The Twilight Sad - A love song apparently sung to a dying person, you can't get more depressing than this.  Lovely drum track that builds through the song.  Sounds similar to that one Radiohead song that I can stand.

Ready  On The Line - Big Sir - Electro-bleep-blap chill folk pop about getting high, I guess.  Singer maintains icey demeanor until the final second when she finally lets loose with a releasing scream.

Hey Joe - Liz Green - Liverpudian folkstress does her take classic blues song accompanied by guitar, mallet cymbal, strings and brass.

In My Life - Roberta Flack - The pre-eminent septuagenarian song interpreter does a collection of Beatles songs the same week that Macca releases his piss-take on old standards.  This bossa-nova crossed with Steve Wonder (minus the overbearing keyboards) version brings new life to a moldy oldie.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Can I get a God damn amen?

Lightning Love

And number one with a bullet today...

Beath Jeans Houghton @ Komedia

Sweet Tooth Bird - Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny.  Destined to be a rockestra masterpiece, kinda of reminds me of how I felt with early Fiery Furnaces before they got boring.  Ms. Houghton should have quite a future ahead of her and we (meaning, you know, just me...) all anticipate her upcoming album.  Also check out her Liliputt single from 2011.

Also peaking in the playlist

Bullet in the Gun - The Delorentos - Pouges / Springsteen / Walkmen / Hold Steady amalgamation kind of sounds bad at first read but for some reason works in this pub anthem.  Sing along, I'm gonna.

Cry, Cry, Crow - The Pines.  Have loved this group since 2009 and glad they haven't mershed out like Great Lake Swimmers.  This fine bit of folk gothic follows the archetypal lost gentleman through the Styxian agricultural landscape and would make a great addition to the soundtrack for American Gods if it really is going to get made.

Deadbeat - Lightning Love.  What was I saying yesterday about how we probably wouldn't get good new pop music if 20-something girls didn't fall in love with louses.  Think of this as the sequel to "Johnny, Are You Queer?"

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The illusion of safety


Wouldn't the world be great if this illusion of safety is only broken long AFTER a child, say,  learns about Santa Claus?

Too Much Blood - Howler - it's got a Mersey-beat drum kick, a table-saw reverb-drenched guitar and a Oooh-wa-wa chorus providing the hook.  Not much more to be asked for in one song.

Cate Le Bon

Puts Me To Work - Cate le Bon  - Another one of Vashti's grandnieces.

No Matter What You Say - Imperial Teen - Pure pop for the now teen - another cut from a great little LP.

Stay Useless - Cloud Nothings - Yes, I'm jumping on the Cloud N. bus as long as it doesn't stray too far into GoodCharlotte land and sticks with shit like this, hell yes.

Laura Gibson

La Grande - Laura Gibson - The title track from her Applachia-gothic album this one borrows some techniques from Cocorosie without getting into stinky finger land.

Goliath - Kithkin - While there's something about the vocalist that annoys me (too much, I dunno, Hutchence), the ensemble is incredibly good here and arrangement of this song make it worth sticking into my personal top 40.

Monday, February 06, 2012

"You know what breaking legs sounds like?"

"Branches snapping."

Luck Wing

And so onto the songs of the day... all song links are to Spotify.  If your song isn't on Spotify, I don't review it.

Gas and Matches - Deerhoof/David Bazan - This odd pairing of the Pedro singer with what is essentially the rhythm section from Deerhoof allows us to see both of the artists in a new light.  Deerhoof sounds more conventional and Bazan sounds less so.  While most folks focus on the A-side of this single, I found the flip to be much better - a menacing (and since when has Deerhoof sounded menacing?) 7/4 cut with Bazan's growly voice and Saunier's solid drumming (replete with ride cymbal crashes) and (I assume) Cohen's stalkerish bass.

Chair - Big Deal - What would pop-music be without 20-something's love issues?  I guess writing a song about your problems is cheaper than Couples Therapy at least until ObamaCare kicks in.  With just female-male vocals (mostly female) and a electrified guitar, Big Deal craft a perfect pop song about a girl who thinks her boyfriend just wants her to sit on a chair and sing along to his songs.

Anthony Green

Big Mistake - Anthony Green - This is from Anthony Green's solo album and is his perfect storm - that is where is high pitched vocals are in tune, the instruments are slamming and the underlying guitar riff strings you up in whatever Pennsylvanian forest birthed this creature.  It's not the single from the record which is a big mistake in my eyes (and ears).

Put Me To Sleep - Porcelain Raft - Been cherry-picking off this album since it came out.  While Porcelain Raft is lazily described as "Dream Pop" I find this cut more like Insomnia Pop both in name and the unsettling twitchy beat and slightly faster tempo than usual.  It isn't until the last 30 seconds that it seems to resolve itself and the singer appears to be on his way to the Land of Nod.

I'm His Girl - Friends - This is a silly, slinky song but I can't bear to see it taken off the playlist.  With an 80's New Wave detached female vocalist who even does a Debby Harry like rap here and there, the plucky song about (I guess) post-post-feminist and modern day boyf-girlf relations wastes not a beat to keep things moving.  You can almost visualize the grainy black and white video of hipsters walking down NYC alleys with heavy eye-shadow and Vulcan-like demeanor.

Love Like Rain - Cardinal - How many touchpoints to the Beatles can one put in a song (title, lyrics, song, riffs, recording style) and still stand alone as a single from a what's turning out to be a pretty great little comeback record.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Finding a Place in the World

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More songs from my heavy rotation playlist:

Seed, Crop, Harvest - Prinzhorn Dance School - Minimalism isn't always my bag but these guys know how to build a song.  I might even go so far as to say that Wire has some competition.  There are several gems on their 2012 album Clay Class.  This one has been around awhile but is worth digging into agin.

Usurper - Prinzhorn Dance School - Following in the same lyrical tradition of Harry Chapin's "Father and Son" but with a slightly more insistent and forward bent.  A son sings to his father to get out of the way while many years previous the father sings to his baby boy that he knows that the son is his "replacement" and a symbol of his mortality.  That all said, like Seed, Crop, Harvest, this one features some exciting singing and guitar even while the bass/drums which come in and out of the mix are on a loop.

Leonard Cohen

Darkness - Leonard Cohen.  I was kind of expecting something more, lifechanging(?) big(?), er.  from Cohen's new album.  Dunno why - it's just that it might be his final statement and all given his advancement of years (too soon!).  So after listening to the entire thing, I kept on coming back to this cut - perhaps because it is sort of the song we expect from a bitter old man facing his last few years.  Why not give a massive f.u. one more time to the one that broke his heart?  Like Dylan in his latter years, Cohen is using standard chord progressions - this is clearly I-IV-V blues (why do you think the LP is called Old Ideas) - but the arrangement which mixes in piano, organ, rhythm section, backup singers providing woo-woos and echoed lyrics and Cohen's ever-more gravelly voice just pulls you in.  From Old Ideas.

Thirteen - Albert Hammond, Jr.  I'll forgive the drum machine and the stock arrangement as it seems almost like a throw-off someone put together for a benefit album.   But I like it despite all that.  Plus it's by the son of the guy who wrote "It Never Rains in Southern California" - it's almost like some sort of circle has been connected.  This comes off the Lunchbox Fund benefit album which also includes a twee cover of We're Going To Be Friends by Bright Eyes.

F U C-3PO - Zammuto.  This is a Books side proj. that has picked up blog buzz and now that the EP (Idiom Wind) is out, we can see that at least for this cut the fuss is worth it.  This is a treat for the headphone, a sort of modern day Traffic song about ill-mannered robots and the humans who their "acid tongues."


Seahorse for Dragon - Hyperpotamus.  A capella indie rock.  I wouldn't have believed it could be pulled off but by damn, this here One Man Glee Club does it all and more.  I'm afraid to listen to the rest of the LP (just-released Delta) as I wonder if it will wear out its welcome as a gimmick but I suspect it won't if I time it right (late night, 'haps?).  I see a considerable future in vocal arranging if the band doesn't pan out.  A beaut, don't pass it by.

Lilacs - Lilacs & Champagne.  Another spin-off, this time from the guys behind Grails so you know you gotta at least sample it if you treasure the proper health and maintenance of your ears.  What it is, I'm not really sure... what it sounds like is a kind of a dirty ambient groove, chill e-drums and an arrangement that snakes around a single verse before slinking away.

Friday, February 03, 2012

New Music for the Tired People

Annnnd I'm back.

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For M - Vegomatic - There's a familiar classical piano riff riding on top of this meeeestereeeeussss 3/4  waltz from Vegomatic's latest LP.  A voice speaking an unknown foriegn language delivers a message but it's not for me or you, it's for "M".

Time is Not - Laura Gibson - I was content with just the title track from Ms. Gibson's La Grande and maybe the flip side of her web single (a cover of In the Pines) so it's a pleasant development that there's another track on the album worth more than one listen.  Like the rest of the album, the background/backing band is produced to give that eerie sorta Cocorosie, sorta Low Anthem feel while enhancing the overall effect of Ms. Gibson's song and vocal timbre.

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Major - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - While on one hand I'm thinking they are for the vast horde of people with the one or two brain cells available to appreciate, say, the Black-Eyed Peas, the AGT are still a delightful listen at least for now.  The pop funk music is happily under-produced which gives it if not a lo-fi pop feel a sort of throwback to the 70's but with a Aughties "Let's Dance Bitches" sneer.  Extra points for the snappy horn arrangement.  "Dis is wot u get!"  Via the just-released Out of Frequency LP.

Festejo - Novalima - I'm a big fan of Latin and especially Peruvian percussion in my "other life" as a soft pro drummer so this has both sentimental personal appeal but for those wanting to add some crossover contempo Andean music to atone for their rockist ways, give it a try.  From the recently released Karimba album.

The Storm - Pepe Deluxe - What if someone wrote the greatest early 70's rock opera ever mixing elements of rock, classical, prog, pop, surf and even hillbilly stomp and then it got lost to the ages.  This would have been the Opening/Overture.  From the recently released Queen of the Wave album.

A Night And A Day - Pepe Deluxe - Late 60's style acid rock funk also from Queen of the Wave.  Even the instrumentation and recording techniques hew back to that era - fuzzy guitar, Edgar Winter screams, Moogs and analog processing.

imperial teen

Last To Know - Imperial Teen - While this is probably aimed at younger demo than yours truly, but I like the two-step garagey verse, the trippy bridge and the hooky accusatory refrain "Were you the last to know?"  This comes from the brand-spanking new album Feel the Sound. (Smell my finger, too)

Friends of Friends - Hospitality - This comes off the self-titled LP that came out last week.  I'm actually kind of shocked how much I like this record and I've already cycled through two other songs from it.  This one, like those others, both manages expectations one might have of NYC-based girly pop and breaks them.  Really, I'm shocked that I'm thinking this is one of the early contenders for better albums of the year.

Funny Girl - PacificUV - And finally I leave you with this cut that almost didn't make the list.  It took me several listens to come to the conclusion that this bears further consideration.  I normally don't like smug English-y (ok, kavalierbariton) singers but there's a certain appeal to the misery that one little girl can provide a boy songwriter so might as well wallow in it with him.  From the just released Weekends.

 Hello Vinyl Mine readers.  All one of you (me, of course).

As you can tell, I am only providing Spotify links.  This solves my fears caused by DCMA and more recently the SOPA/PIPA imbroglio. 

If you don't have Spotify or Rdio and love music you are a either a pretty stupid person who shouldn't be reading this or a pure audiophile snob who can tell the difference between 320 bps and CD sound.  

While I'll still buy vinyl, the Spotify Unlimited service with its iPhone app has made my previous life as Mp3 downloader tons more easier and guilt-free.  It also makes me a much better informed vinyl addict and I no longer have to take a flier on something I haven't heard all the way through.  

If you are on Spotify, let me know so I can add you because God knows I need new friends.