May 11, 2009
St. Vincent – “Actor out of Work” – Actor
Taking a darker turn on her second album, this choir member turned solo artist has made a statement. Weaving her voice into the tapestry of gothic-fuzz squeals, Actor sounds like it would be best in the cavernous depths of church catacombs. While remaining under two and a half minutes, “Actor out of work” finds time to build a haunting chorus to an explosion in a fit of Neutral Milk inspired minimalist maximalism.
Red Collar – “Used Guitars” – Pilgrim
This album is recorded well. Capturing what can only be the all-out exuberance of their live show, Pilgrim is a declaration of rock and roll. These guys are in it for the fun, no doubt about it. Lead singer Jason Kutchma howls into the night like the Boss in his early days. It’s like Okkervil River if they liked working out at the gym instead of reading.
Maximo Park – “The Kids are Sick Again” – Quicken the Heart
Hard driving UK band Maximo Park come back with their third studio album. “Kids” is the first single. Snatched up after a single 7” in 2004 by Warp Records, their infectious brand of anthemic Britpop has received rave live reviews over their career. Poundingly danceable, fans of Kings of Leon and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will dig it.
Apostle of Hustle – “Whistle in the Fog” – Eats Darkness
Broken Social Scenester Andrew Whiteman leads his own band of miscreants for his third release as Apostle of Hustle. This song starts of with a incantation of noisy guitars and the hint of a singer calling “whistle in the fog” through the foggy guitars. A must for any Broken Social Scene lover, Whiteman’s songwriting has certainly evolved and matured over the years.
May 04, 2009
JEREMY ENIGK – “Restart” – Ok Bear
Jeremy’s fourth overall solo album and third released on his label Lewis Hollow is a gem. The veteran singer (Sunny Day Real Estate, The Fire Theft) has been making music for almost twenty years now. His signature vocals are on display once again but with caution. To me, this album sounds most like a sophomore fire theft album than another solo Enigk release. It’s an aged version of Enigk, but he aged well, like a sharp cheese. Restart is probably the poppiest I’ve ever heard Enigk, but don’t worry there’s plenty of his classic, brooding, fog-like beauty to drift through.
CONOR OBERST & THE MYSTIC VALLEY BAND – “Slowly (Oh so Slowly) – Outer South
CONNNNNNOR! This dude writes a lot of songs. Pumping out another “solo” album after surprising everyone with his excellent new project last August, he actually took turns writing on this one. As the story goes, Outer South was written on tour with the mystic valley band and other band members (Nik Freitas, Taylor Hollingsworth and more) stepped in to write some of the tracks. “Slowly” is all Oberst and starts the album off right where last years left off. At over 70 minutes it’s the longest album I’ve seen in a while, brave in a day where single songs and 7” are all the rage. I don’t think he could have topped the self titled album, but he gave it his best shot and there are some serious gems buried in the mix. Check them out opening for Wilco this summer!
CHAIRLIFT – “Evident Utensil” – Does You Inspire You
Back in December when Chairlift was blowing up across the country with their hit “Bruises”, Columbia records snapped up the coveted pop trio and planned a re-release for their excellent debut album. Well it’s here and stacked with two new songs along with boasting re-mastered versions of all the old songs. “Evident Utensil” has a killer video that came out two months ago and Caroline’s “ooohs” on the track have reached Karen-O levels of sexiness and production.
HOOTS & HELLMOUTH – “Root of the Industry” – The Holy Open Secret
Released on Drexel University’s label MAD Dragon Records, also home to The Redwalls, this is another barnstorming romp. It’s like if O’Death took a shower and put on a suit and went to job interview conducted by Blitzen Trapper. Clever and classic from the outset, Hoots & Hellmouth have crafted an album that fits in perfectly with the Americana trend that has emerged.
VINCENT MINOR – “Late Night Show” – Born Into the Wrong Era
With a cover straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, Vincent Minor is definitely going for that Jason Schwartzman thing. It even sounds a little like Coconut Records. While claiming to be an anachronism, Minor’s melodies and compositions sound quite contemporary. He weaves his voice over the texture but sometimes lets it slip away, overwhelmed by the rush of the accompaniment. The so-cal native croons about double ditching with Morrissey (yeah right) in this word juggling pop tune about the twists and turns of late night programs (?). Sure, it’s unorthodox, but the man has a diving bell on his head…he’s a little confused.
May 27, 2009
MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – The Only One – Mean Everything to Nothing
Vocalist Andy Hull screams “I am the only one that thinks I’m going crazy” as the New Manchester Orchestra record gets powered up and moving. One of the better “modern rock” bands out there today, you can hear the energy of the old Saves the Day albums but with a more refined and mature delivery. At times reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie from albums like You Can Play These Songs with Chords and Something about Airplanes, their aggressive brand of rock is in full force. Just their second LP, these guys have a long history ahead of them.
DUSTY RHODES AND THE RIVER BAND – Blind Lead the Blind – Palace and Stage
A bit like Weezer covering Lynard Skynard, the sort-of nerdy southern rock upstarts are back with their second album. Released on the punk label SideOneDummy, the album features some roughly beautiful melodies with the touch of Cloud Cult and bombastic delivery of Fastball thrown in for good measure.
JASON LYTLE – It’s the Weekend – Yours Truly, the Commuter
Formerly of Grandaddy, Jason Lytle presents his first solo effort after the close of that project. It’s the Weekend is a mellow jam with a rad synth line, perfect for the sunsets of summer when it’s always the weekend. This song is an unnaturally full sound for Lytle who spent most of his career fashioning sparse tunes with minimal instrumentation. The lush songs of this album sound like instant classics befitting the Velvet Underground.
CAMERA OBSCURA – French Navy – My Maudlin Career
The critically acclaimed new album from Camera Obscura starts right where they left off iin Let’s Get Out of This Country. The strength of the album lies again in the shimmering upbeat pop songs that they’ve proven to be more than adept at creating. French Navy is a savory taste of all the highlights. It’s another album to cruise the beach with. I’m in love again with the Scottish and their unbeatable pop style.
JENNY OWEN YOUNGS – Led to the Sea – Transmitter Failure
I don’t know if it’s her looks or name that keep making me think of Rilo Kiley when I listen to this record, but there’s something more in her music that channels the best of Rilo from their older stuff like The Execution of All Things. After one listen through you’ll forget Jenny Lewis and wonder why Jenny Youngs hasn’t been your indie rock romance. Transmitter is out on Netwerk next month. Expect to hear more about Jenny as the blog world gets their first taste. “Led to the Sea” rocks a bass groove that makes your dancing muscles twitch.
May 23, 2009
CROCODILES - I Wanna Kill – Summer of Hate
Guaranteed to be the catchiest way anyone has ever confessed to a desire to murder, this song is the creepiest way to blast into summer with the windows down. With a syncopated pre-chorus and driving, Joy Division channeling verses, its ironic subject matter is no match for the hooks. If you get a chance to listen through the whole album I would highly recommend it. It’s like driving through a desert with a red sky searing into your eyes as you speed down the highway. They fit Nirvana’s angst into accessible pop songs proving that it’s not always about the lyrics.
WHITE RABBITS – Percussion Gun – It’s Frightening
Yeah, it IS frightening…frighteningly awesome. “Percussion gun” is the aptly named single from White Rabbits’ second album. Kicking off with a scream and a pounding drum beat that stomps through the song, it’s clear that a year and a half of hard touring tightened up this band immensely. Julian Casablancas would be proud of some of the howls on this track. One part in your face, one part ethereal waves; I’m in love with this one already.
SONIC YOUTH – Sacred Trickster – The Eternal
“Getting dizzy sittin around”, sings Kim Gordon on the first single from the highly anticipated Sonic Youth album. They won’t be sitting around anymore with an album on the way and no doubt massive tour plans to back it up. This song goes by in a flash of fiery power as Kim shrieks out her disgust at being bored and interviewers asking her what it’s like to be a girl in a band. It’s another superb effort from a college radio staple.
BRAKES BRAKES BRAKES – Worry About it Later – Touchdown
Brakes Brakes Brakes has two sounds: Dark and blunted and Bright and sharpened. This song falls in the category of the latter. A supergroup formed of members of British Sea Power and Electric Soft Parade, they record sparsely but it’s all the more precious when they do. Perhaps it’s their rock roots but even their twee songs sound more aggressive than twee. “Worry” reminds me of certain Boy Least Likely To ditties redone by Delta Spirit.
OTHER GIRLS – White Rabbit – Perfect Cities
Hot Damn! It’s another KILLER guitar line! “White Rabbit” sounds like a well worn leather coat that was a Band of Horses song in its past life. This record rolls out one after another of instantly loveable rock songs. This one sticks out with that lead guitar line…man!
BOY IN STATIC – Young San Francisco – Candy Cigarette
Beginning with most certainly the most in-tune toy piano I’ve ever heard, “Young San Francisco” features Alexander Chen’s Swedish-style crooning backed by Liz Enthusiasm of Freezepop. Boy in Static became a duo for this release but they may still be playing solo live shows. Painting a magical landscape of San Francisco with his words and sounds, the toy piano practically becomes the trolleys chugging up and down the waterfront while the strings mournfully call out to the seagulls wheeling overhead. “You’ll never grow old” cheers Chen and you’ll believe him.
May 17, 2009
The Pirate Bay leaked something much bigger than an album today. The long trial has reached a conclusion and the four creators have been found guilty. They are sentenced to a year in jail and have been fined 3.6 mil. They are planning to appeal the decision so who knows how long it will be until it really is finally over.
Keeping their sense of humor that they've had all the way through the trial, the creators "leaked" the verdict on twitter this morning saying "Stay calm 0 nothing will happen to TPB, us personally or filesharing what so ever. This is just a theatre for the media."
So the Pirate Bay will remain functional and thriving.
In an interesting note, Sweden's Museum of Science and Technology bought the original server that The Pirate Bay was hosted on and will display it as an artifact of the illegally copyrighted material. Hopefully in 20 years we'll take our kids there and tell them how thrilling it was to get free music back when downloading music was illegal.