June 08, 2009
Dirty Projectors – “Stillness is the Move” - Bitte Orca
Earning (somehow) more hype than Animal Collective’s MPP , Bitte Orca is the next album to be heralded as an early bid for album of the year. Easily the most accessible album released to date by the Projectors, Orca is every bit worth the hype. From the epic swirls of “Useful Chamber” to “Two Doves”, the modern day answer to Nico’s cover of “These Days” it runs the gamut of emotions and sounds. Holding everything together are the jittery peals of bandleader Dave Longstreth’s virtuosic guitar along with the amazing team vocals of Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman. An act not to be missed live.
Green Day – “21st Century Breakdown” – 21st Century Breakdown
Okay… So I didn’t really like American Idiot. I thought they were trying too hard to be an arena band. This time around, I think they figured it out. “21st Century Breakdown” starts with a Springsteen-esque piano riff. Yeah…Springsteen. The song holds your attention all the way through with some interesting mini-movements. Featuring patently Green Day moments coupled with the epic grandeur of The Who (Keith Moon is Tre Cool’s idol as a drummer), “21st” defies critical and popular expectations.
So Many Dynamos – “Glaciers” – The Loud Wars
Another band seriously stepping it up for their second album, So Many Dynamos brought in the big guns for the sophomore release and first on Vagrant Records. Calling on DCFC guitarist Chris Walla to produce the album, SMD picked a winner. “Glaciers” builds with a punchy syncopated guitar rhythm that sets the tone for the sudden nature of the entrances and exits of the various voices: building to pastoral heights in choir only to disappear instantly.
Tereu Tereu – “Building Symmetry”
“Building Symmetry” is a band of excellent songwriters at their best. Recently featured by Paste who put on a release party for the band’s album with The Deep Vibration, Motel Motel and more, the foursome from Fredericksburg, VA is off to a great start.
Wilco – “You Never Know” – Wilco (The Album)
“Every generation thinks it’s the end of the world” advises Tweedy on this new Wilco track. It’s a line from a man who it seems has come nearly full circle. Wilco The Album) may be an apt title for it sounds most like their first records right after the end of Uncle Tupelo. After calming down from his drugged and experimental years with Sky Blue Sky, Tweedy has stepped back to the era of Summerteeth and A.M. and written the most rock oriented album released by the band in as many years.
June 01, 2009
John Vanderslice – “Sunken Union Boat” – Romanian Names
After a beautiful split released on tour earlier this year with the Mountain Goats, Vanderslice returns with collection of low key pop-rock gems including “Sunken” that jaunts along with a guitar for footsteps and a piano whistling a woven melody between his words.
Phoenix – “Lizstomania” – Wolfgang Amadeous Phoenix
Originally conceived as the lead single for the album, Lizstomania is an uptempo romp through sparse guitars and clever melodies. Without sounding clichéd it pulls off the pop rock sound in ways that would make Vampire Weekend blush.
Meat Puppets – “Rotten Shame” – Sewn Together
After a whirlwind reunion of 2008 that saw the band performing their much heralded 1984? Release Meat Puppets II in full at All Tomorrow’s Parties and touring for the first time in years, they’ve offered up one of the best and most underrated reunion albums of late. Picking up where they left off in stead of trying to recreate their original sound, the band finds a home with acoustic jams and country tinged ballads. Rotten Shame turns up the volume and rocks for a solid five minutes.
Viva Voce – “Devotion” – Rose City
A darker turn for a band involved with generally folk based acts such as Blue Giant, “Devotion” is a step in the right direction for VV. Evoking stronger emotional response through a steamrolling bass and reverb heavy, out of focus guitar evocative of My Bloody Valentine, Rose City is a release from a band past the trials of adolescence who just got accepted to college.
May 25, 2009
Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks” – Veckatimest
Garnering massive critical praise from Pitchfork to NPR, Grizzly Bear’s album actually lives up to the superlative praise. “Two Weeks” is so good. With a beautiful, original melody that still gets stuck in your head even when you are in no way as talented as Ed Droste, lead singer, the song balances the world of pop and classical with ease. There’s a reason they call it chamber pop and Grizzly Bear are one of the best.
Iron and Wine – “Belated Promise Ring” – Around the Well
After last year’s Shepard’s Dog which some called a culmination of Iron and Wine’s sound, Sam Beam returns to a less complex sound with a two-disc rarities and outtakes records. The first disc includes a medley of covers, originals, and alternate versions recorded lo-fi on a home tape recorder while the second disc is a collection of studio works that never made it on a full length album. “Belated” is one of a couple other cuts on disc two that was written for the In Good Company soundtrack. I’m not endorsing that movie, but the soundtrack is damn good. On the lighter side of ICB music, enjoy this song as you relax in a pleasant summer breeze.
The Features – “Wooden Heart” – Some Kind of Salvation
It’s been 4 years since we’ve heard from the Features but they’re back with a fighting spirit on their latest. Touring extensively with the likes of Kings of Leon and The Raconteurs in the meantime, they’ve tightened their rigging and raised the sails. I’ll call it indie-cowboy pop because I’m trying to be clever but it’s just downright fun. Rock out to this for sure if you love those bands mentioned before or Elvis Costello.
Clues – “Approach the Throne” – Clues
Mostly the duo of Alden Penner (ex-Unicorns) and Brendan Reed (ex-Arcade Fire), Clues was formed in late 2007. They recently got their act together to release their debut album this May. “Approach” seems to be primarily written by Penner as it toasts the Unicorn’s penchant for repetitive motifs and driving simplicity. Dark and sharpened, “Approach” is a frosty dragon spitting a mash of black ice shards
Amazing Baby – “Bayonets” – Rewild
Another summer debut, Amazing Baby plan to release Rewild on Shangri La recordings. Take all the Daft Punk out of MGMT, add some epic flair of youth and there you go…an Amazing Baby. Called “one of the year’s best radio songs” by RCRDLBL, I couldn’t agree more.
May 18, 2009
Passion Pit – “Folds in Your Hand” - Manners
Michael Angelakos had no idea when he made a tape for his girlfriend that he would turn into one of the biggest buzz bands of 2007. Coming out of CMJ 2007 as the most talked about act with Chairlift, Michael collected some friends for a band and they’re ready to debut their first LP. Sweet ear candy, bluesy-pop masterpieces, and falsetto wonders mesh and meld into strong songwriting in what’s sure to be on some top 10 lists for 2009. Rookie of the Year? I’m voting Passion Pit.
Bricolage – “Bayonets” - Bricolage
The second band we’re playing off of Brooklyn’s excellent Slumberland records. With a post-Smiths Morrissey take on jangle pop, Bricolage are sure to be a quick love for those of you in Scottish bandwagon. Their name comes from a term describing the process or end result of creating art from whatever materials are available. Bricolage shine up from their ramshackle namesake to produce a polished pop album much like the aforementioned Morrissey and Orange Juice.
Jarvis Cocker – “Angela” - Complications
Angela is the first single from Cocker’s new album. Between collaborating with Wes Anderson on new animated version of Fantastic Mr. Fox, hanging out in a Paris gallery playing with audience members and teaching children, and selling his underwear on Ebay, it’s a wonder he had time to put together this release. While he is a verrrrrry busy man, Cocker’s new Steve Albini produced album sounds like he spent time on nothing else. Dig Black Joe Lewis? Get in to this.
The High Strung – “Rope” – Ode to the Inverse of the Dude
YES! More weirdly catchy pop from Park the Van! The High Strung jerk and jaunt across a bubbled landscape creating their 6th(!) album in eight years. The prolific Detroit band has now released two albums for Park the Van. In stop/start twists and turns, “Rope” froths in multicolored tie-dye style.