Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oxford Collapse

Add Date: August 5

Artist: Oxford Collapse

Album: Bits

Label: Sub Pop

Genre: Indie rock, math rock

Comments: A solid, if not spectacular release from New York's Oxford Collapse, Bits is the band's fourth record overall and second for Sub Pop (Wolf Parade, CSS, Fleet Foxes). Will appeal to fans of Modest Mouse and '90s indie rock, especially acts like Built to Spill and Archers of Loaf. While Bits just doesn't match the band's 2006 effort, Remember the Night Parties, there are certainly some good songs to be found. I liked "Young Love Delivers," "Featherbeds" and "For the Winter Coats."

Jeff Hanson

Add Date: August 5

Artist: Jeff Hanson

Album: Madam Owl

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Genre: Folk

Comments: Once you get accustomed to Jeff Hanson's quite unique voice--perhaps we could call him the countertenor of the indie folk scene?--you'll find a collection of 12 excellent singer/songwriter compositions on Madam Owl. On the prestigious Kill Rock Stars label (Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu). Start with "Nothing Would Matter at All," "Night" and "Careful."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Best New Music: Week of July 29

Best New Music: Week of July 29

Johnny Flynn
Darker My Love
Sunset
Takka Takka
Colourmusic

Also check out: Bowery Boy Blue, Conor Oberst
, Sebastien Tellier, Télépathique

Colourmusic

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Colourmusic

Album: f, monday, orange, february, venus, lunatic, 1 or 13

Label: Great Society/World's Fair

Genre: Indie rock, Brit pop

Comments: Colourmusic are a band from Oklahoma with a skewed-yet-successful approach to making pop music--thus the easy comparison to the Flaming Lips. But that doesn't really tell the whole story. The band claims influences such as the Beatles, Serge Gainsbourg and Brian Eno; there are also plenty of elements of Brit pop, as co-founder Nick Turner hails from the other side of the Atlantic. You can hear all of these styles converging on f, monday, orange, etc., etc., a wildly fun, and musically solid, effort. For fans of the Polyphonic Spree, Super Furry Animals (yes, I'll reference them for the second time this week), Field Music and the Unicorns. Start with "Yes!" and "Circles."

Sunset

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Sunset

Album: The Glowing City

Label: Autobus

Genre: Indie rock, throwback pop

Comments: Sunset is Austin's Bill Baird, bassist for the now-defunct buzz band Sound Team, and a prolific singer/songwriter in his own right. The Glowing City is nearly 80 minutes of '70s-inspired pop music that would fit right in with modern stuff like the Shins, Super Furry Animals and, of course, Sound Team themselves. My favorites were "The World Is Awaiting," "Twenty-Four Karat Soul," "Your Eyes Are Mirrors" and "When Perfect Flames Expire."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Télépathique

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Télépathique

Album: Last Time on Earth

Label: Control Group

Genre: Electronica, dance

Comments: São Paolo duo Télépathique's debut was issued two years ago in South America, and is finally getting a stateside release thanks to Control Group. The easy comparisons would be to fellow Brazilians CSS or Bonde do Role, but Télépathique's music veers further into the electronic end of the spectrum. Last Time on Earth would fit well in between Hercules and Love Affair and the new Sebastian Tellier. Check out "Eu Gosto" and "Déjà Vu."

Freshkills

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Freshkills

Album: Freshkills

Label: Self-released

Genre: Indie rock, post-punk

Comments: Another NYC band doing the post-punk thing, Freshkills will bring to mind Drive Like Jehu and Antics-era Interpol. Check out "I Know I Know" and "I Quit Smoking."

Sebastien Tellier

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Sebastian Tellier

Album: Sexuality

Label: Record Makers

Genre: Electronica

Comments: If you're going to title your record Sexuality, you'd better be able to back that up with the music. That's not a problem for French producer Sebastien Tellier, who provides 11 electronic tracks that are at times spectacular, and at others no less than capably done. Sexuality was produced by Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, but the music sounds more like Junior Boys' So This Is Goodbye. Start with "Divine" (an entry into the Eurovision contest, but don't hold that against Tellier), "Roche" and "Sexual Sportswear."

Takka Takka

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Takka Takka

Album: Migration

Label: Ernest Jenning

Genre: Indie rock

Comments: New York's Takka Takka may be better known for their friends and tour mates--Sean Greenhalgh and Lee Sargent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Bryan Devendorf of the National both play on several tracks on this record, and Greenhalgh produced it--than for their music. With Migration, that perception should be changing. A beautiful rock record that is generally quiet, but never stripped down. For fans of Grandaddy, Film School and the National. "Silence" is the standout track; also check out "The Takers" and "Change, No Change."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Goldcure

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Goldcure

Album: Portuguese Prince

Label: Sorin

Genre: Alt Rock

Comments: Austin, TX group makes enjoyable music influenced by Wilco and Spoon. While nothing about "Portuguese Prince" seems particularly inventive or new, it is still a very pleasant listen in an almost '90s Alt Rock/R.E.M. way. "Make it Stop" is a solid track.

Team Clermont

Miss Murgatroid & Petra Haden

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Miss Murgatroid & Petra Haden

Album: Hearts & Daggers

Label: File Under: Music

Genre: Other

Comments: "Like two schoolgirls living richly in a self-devised world of cave trolls and tormented princesses, Miss Murgatroid (aka Alicia J. Rose) and Petra Haden mesh their collective imaginations to deliver majestic themes culled from the ether itself. "

This sounds like the soundtrack to Amelie mixed with Enya. I prefer the tracks with vocals-- "Fade Away" (3) and "Something's Wrong" (7), which are slightly reminiscent of Beach House.

Spectre

Experimental Dental School

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Experimental Dental School

Album: Jane Doe Loves Me

Label: Cochon Records

Genre: Art Rock

Comments: True to its name, Experimental Dental School features a lot of really terrible sounding noises (one can imagine whirring drills) but, in the spirit of progressive medicine, there are a few rays of hope. True to indie fashion, there is ample talk of ghosts.

"What Ghosts See," "Uh Huh- Nah Uh" (which is actually pretty) and "Drum Circuit's Lake" are the most accessible (but maybe that's not the point).

Terrorbird

Muy Cansado

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Muy Cansado

Album: Stars & Garters

Label: Precious Gems

Genre: Pop-Punk

Comments: This three-piece group from Boston plays punk obviously influenced by the Pixies (with an odd occasional dash of calypso). Go to "Erased" or "Stockholm Syndrome."

Planetary

17th Chapter

Add Date: July 29

Artist: 17th Chapter

Album: Around the Bend and Then Some

Label: Robe and Slippers

Genre: Rock, Folk-Rock

Comments: "Dance rock meets alt-country."

After listening to this album, if someone were to ask me, "Hey, want to listen to that again?" I'd have to say, "Um, not today." Maybe it just isn't my thing though.

Objectively, this Seattle group mixes the American revival with a raw, immediate rock sound. Check out "Rhinestone Maker."

Pirate

Samantha Crain

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Samantha Crain

Album: The Confiscation (A Musical Novella) EP

Label: Ramseur

Genre: Folk, singer-songwriter

Comments: Vocally similar to Regina Spektor or Kate Nash, Samantha Crain bases her lyrics in narrative (about romantic relationships). Harmonica, hand-clapping, shakers, guitar and whatnot provide instrumentation--and perhaps it is this complexity that makes it difficult for everything to sound spot-on, as if the timing is just a beat or two off. "Traipsing Through the Aisles" is the best mixed--and worth a listen.

Team Clermont

Bowery Boy Blue

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Bowery Boy Blue

Album: Stalk That Myth

Label: Space Photo Records

Genre: Folk Rock

Comments: While comparable to The Acorn in composition, too often Bowery Boy Blue struggles to find a balance between the very Neil Young-esqe vocals of Zeb Gould and the complex instrumentation backing him. "Great Dead Town" is a good track though, either in the slower version that opens, or the quicker one that closes.

Pirate

The Sessions

Add Date: July 29

Artist: The Sessions

Album: is Listed as in a Relationship

Label: Self-released

Genre: Modern Rock

Comments: Very reminiscent of The Killers. Upbeat radio-ready stuff.

Powderfinger

Darker My Love

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Darker My Love

Album: 2

Label: Dangerbird

Genre: Modern Rock

Comments: "Everyone everywhere is sick and tired of the rock and roll ruse. And, so, an authentic rock and roll outfit has its work cut out. ... This quintet sits in the cosmic chaparral on the astro chart of rock and roll. ... You want to reference all kinds of other bands, scenes, moments when talking DML. Go right ahead. But be sure you plot a steady course. Don't talk about shimmering guitars and fuzz boxes or psychedelic nonsense. It's far too late for all that. I already told you irony is dead. There's a siren screaming. Can you hear it?" (from the one sheet)

If we are to stay away from traditional descriptors, I'd say that Darker My Love sounds like a cross between the Dandy Warhols and Caribou (emphasis on the former). 2 is a seamless album focused on non-specific big sound "to take you away from all that thinking stuff." Overall, a good album that was easy to let run the whole way through without a second thought.

Go to "Blue Day" and "Pale Sun."

AAM
Cornerstone

Friday, July 25, 2008

Conor Oberst

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Conor Oberst

Album: Conor Oberst

Label: Merge

Genre: Folk

Comments: Perhaps this solo album from the famed Bright Eyes frontman is a grower; I enjoyed it, but wasn't overly impressed on first listen. (Part of that, I'm sure, is the high expectations that come with anything Conor Oberst produces.) There are some very good songs at the beginning of the album--I liked the first four tracks--and then I zoned out for a while, until things picked back up with "Souled Out!!!" I'll state the obvious: If you're a fan of Bright Eyes' music, in particular I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, you'll enjoy Conor Oberst. Features the Mystic Valley Band (including Nik Freitas, Rilo Kiley's Jason Boesel and current playlist artist Taylor Hollingsworth), who will also be on tour with Oberst throughout the summer and fall.

Johnny Flynn

Add Date: July 29

Artist: Johnny Flynn

Album: A Larum

Label: Vertigo/Lost Highway

Genre: Folk rock

Comments: An excellent folk rock record from London's Johnny Flynn, who cites influences ranging from John Fahey to W.B. Yeats and Shakespeare. A Larum will appeal to fans of Langhorne Slim, Fionn Regan, Elliott Smith and the Veils. The songs are well-written and well-constructed, and the instrumentation is very nicely done, starting with Flynn's guitar and expanding to include bass, drums, cello, and the occasional horn or violin. Flynn is in fine company with his U.S. label, Lost Highway, which boasts Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams on its active roster, and this record proves that he belongs there. My favorites are "Wayne Rooney" (apparently not written about the Manchester United footballer) and "The Box," and also check out "Sally," "Leftovers," "Tickle Me Pink" and "Brown Trout Blues."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Best New Music: Week of July 22

Best New Music: Week of July 22

Lots of good music, kids, so pay attention.

PAS/CAL
Ólafur Arnalds

Soltero
Lackthereof
CSS

Also check out: The Avett Brothers, Black Kids, Brothers and Sisters, Delta Spirit, Inara George with Van Dyke Parks, James Jackson Toth

Inara George with Van Dyke Parks

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Inara George with Van Dyke Parks

Album: An Invitation

Label: Everloving

Genre: Folk pop, orchestral

Comments: Similar to his collaboration with Joanna Newsom on her 2006 record par excellence Ys, Van Dyke Parks has placed Inara George (the Bird and the Bee, and the daughter of Little Feat's Lowell George) in front of an orchestra. George isn't quite on the level of Newsom--very few modern musicians are--but the results are still very nice. Check out "Oh My Love" and "Duet."

Brothers and Sisters

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Brothers and Sisters

Album: Fortunately

Label: The Calla Lily Company

Genre: Alt-country, folk rock

Comments: From the onesheet: "Brothers and Sisters reach back to a sunnier age, when idioms as disparate as polished West Coast pop, rock and roll choogle, AM radio balladry and classic country could still rub up against each other... Live, the music called up by this stage-cluttering eight-piece alternately evokes classic-rock gods like The Band, late era-Byrds, Fleetwood Mac and Buffalo Springfield alongside songwriters such as Dennis Wilson, Jimmy Webb, and the Mamas and the Papas' John Phillips..." Normally, I wouldn't quote so extensively from promotional material, but what you just read was written by Okkervil River's Will Sheff. And surely, you'd trust his opinion over mine, right? Check out "Mason City," "Can't Hold Me Back" and "You're Gone."

Delta Spirit

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Delta Spirit

Album: Ode to Sunshine

Label: Rounder

Genre: Rock, folk rock

Comments: Listen to the first 10 seconds of Ode to Sunshine, and you'll decide that Delta Spirit are a perfect fit as fall tour openers for Dr. Dog. That's not to say that the two bands are mirror images of one another--just that both acts combine elements from multiple genres to make excellent pop music. Delta Spirit start out with rock and add healthy doses of folk, throwback pop, and even soul to create a wonderful sound. Plenty of great songs to choose from, but my favorites were "Strange Vine," "Streetwalker," "Trashcan" and "Children."

Middle States

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Middle States

Album: Happy Fun Party

Label: Effen

Genre: Power pop

Comments: Imagine Robert Pollard fronting a power pop outfit, and you'll have a good idea of how Middle States sound without even playing the record. But how could you pass up the chance to listen to something called Happy Fun Party? Check out "In Charge" and "Thought Control."

The Airborne Toxic Event

Add Date: July 22

Artist: The Airborne Toxic Event

Album: The Airborne Toxic Event

Label: Majordomo

Genre: Brit rock, indie rock

Comments: A very British-sounding rock record from Los Angeles' Airborne Toxic Event. Should appeal to fans of Editors, Interpol and the new ¡Forward, Russia! record. Start with "Gasoline."

Willoughby

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Willoughby

Album: I Know What You're Up To

Label: Sargent

Genre: Dream pop, folk

Comments: The promoter describes Los Angeles artist Willoughby as "meeting in the middle of Sparklehorse and a loungey Elliott Smith;" musical experts Yahoo! say "Willoughby offers up a blend of neo-folk, vagabond-pop with echoes of the Beatles and whispers of Wilco." After listening to I Know What You're Up To, I'll admit that these are good descriptions all around. Listen to "Intentions," "Sign" and "Wonder."

CSS

Add Date: July 22

Artist: CSS

Album: Donkey

Label: Sub Pop

Genre: New wave, dance rock

Comments: On their sophomore record, Brazil's Cansei de Ser Sexy veer slightly away from the dance-punk sound of their eponymous debut, opting instead for new wave. What seems to be missing here, however, are the punchy lyrics from the first record, which were as responsible as the catchy beats for putting CSS on the map. The musical transition is fine, though, and this is a solid listen. Start with "Rat Is Dead (Rage)," "Move" and "Left Behind."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lackthereof

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Lackthereof

Album: Your Anchor

Label: Barsuk

Genre: Indie rock, lo-fi

Comments: According to Wikipedia, this is the ninth full-length from Lackthereof, a.k.a. Danny Seim of Menomena. To be fair, though, the first six were made at home and distributed only to friends; Your Anchor is the third proper release, and the first for Barsuk Records (Menomena, John Vanderslice, Mates of State). It's also entirely performed by Seim, who recorded it in his basement. The result is excellent lo-fi indie rock. Check out "Fire Trial," "Last November," "Chest Pass (Your Anchor)" and "Vacant Eyes." The album closer is a cover of "Fake Empire," from Menomena friends/tour mates the National.

Falcon

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Falcon

Album: Falcon

Label: Friends of the American Songbook

Genre: Modern Rock

Comments: Interesting concept. "Every Falcon song has already been written by the band's namesake, Jared Falcon. However, Mr. Falcon is not in the band, he was a childhood friend of members Shannon Ferguson and Neil Rosen who recorded over 336 songs on a Fisher Price tape recorder from 1987 to 1988 before Mr. Falcon was institutionalized." The resulting arrangements sound familiar (by that I mean that they sound a lot like some other group that I can't put my finger on--Wussy, maybe?) and are readily accessible and mobile. Go to "Birds and Mice."

Planetary

Black Kids

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Black Kids

Album: Partie Traumatic

Label: Almost Gold/Columbia

Genre: Rock, dance-punk

Comments: Somehow, after hearing last year's self-released (and freely-distributed) Wizard of Ahhhs EP and the "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You" single, this is exactly the record I expected from Jacksonville's Black Kids. The songs from the EP all appear on this debut full-length, and they're the strongest tracks: "Hit the Heartbrakes," "Hurricane Jane," the aforementioned single and the non-radio-friendly "I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)." That's not to say that the rest of Partie Traumatic is filler--the other songs just complement the band's very strong starting point. Dance-rock for fans of the Rapture, Cut Copy and Mobius Band.

Aviary Ghost

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Aviary Ghost

Album: Memory Is a Hallway

Label: Self-released

Genre: Folk/Dream

Comments: The result of a long Michigan winter, Aviary Ghost has produced something airy and endearing. Reminiscent of Sleeping States, this duo uses acoustics, piano and a few electronic elements to craft their songs--though the result is occasionally more energetic. According to Fanatic, "each song in Memory Is a Hallway takes a perspective on memory and how it relates to the present and one's identity." For the most part, the lyrics are respectably thoughtful and actually audible. Check out "Anything but the Time" which begins "Well I was a younger man about a day ago. I don't think it even shows." Also look to "Simple Remarks."

Fanatic

Monday, July 21, 2008

Soltero

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Soltero

Album: You're No Dream

Label: La Societe Expeditionnaire

Genre: Dreamy Rock

Comments: Above all, Soltero is really reminiscent of Luna. Personal without feeling overly emotional. Clever not cute.

"Meticulously crafted songs full of surprises, with glints of melancholy French horn, garbled voices swathed in white noise, and tipsy accordion filling in the spaces around his sparse acoustic guitar and banjo. His lyrics explore the intricacies and entanglements of romantic relationships with an affecting candor."
-Boston Phoenix

Apples and Cats

Bodies of Water

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Bodies of Water

Album: A Certain Feeling

Label: Secretly Canadian

Genre: Anthemic Indie-Pop

Comments: At first I was confused by the promoter's recommendation of Bodies of Water to fans of Electrelane, Ennio Morricone and Arcade Fire-- but then it became apparent that A Certain Feeling is really striving to be as epic as the cited groups. The album is a collection of longish songs, each with a distinct sections and big sounds-- a few of which manage to sound grand. Jump to "Water Here" and "Under the Pines."

Team Clermont

Left Lane Cruiser

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Left Lane Cruiser

Album: Bring Yo' Ass To The Table

Label: Alive

Genre: Blues-Rock

Comments: Heavier blues rock than you'll get from the Black Keys these days. This album reminded me of The Murder City Devils. Lots of sexual allusions made through food stuffs. Check out "Pork n' Beans" and "Amy's in the Kitchen."

Pirate

The Curse of Company

Add Date: July 22

Artist: The Curse of Company

Album: Leo Magnets Joins a Gang

Label: Dangerbird

Genre: Spacey Indie

Comments: "The music draws on [singer/songwriter, designer and actor David Wiley] Rennick's multi-platform artistic practices to convey story on a massive scale, mixing the psychedelic influence of The Velvet Underground with Neil Young's scalding alt-rock and folk, and drawing on classic, coming-of-age storytelling that recalls a dizzying mix of the Odyssey, Blade Runner, 2001 and Apocalypse Now." -Terrorbird

I'm not sure that any of this is really audible upon first listen, but the album certainly promises to reveal itself upon repeated listens. Reminiscent of Beach House.

Terrorbird

James Jackson Toth

Add Date: July 22

Artist: James Jackson Toth

Album: Waiting in Vain

Label: Ryko

Genre: Singer/songwriter

Comments: A little bit country, a little bit pop, and a touch of the blues-- James Jackson Toth ends up sounding something like M. Ward with slightly heavier instrumentation. Toth is in good company on this album-- with a roster including the producer of Nirvana, guitarists from Deerhoof and Wilco, and a drummer from Devendra Banhart. An enjoyable album. Start with the slow "Doreen" or the quick "Beulah the Good."

Fanatic

Marching Band

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Marching Band

Album: Spark Lounge

Label: U&L

Genre: Indie Pop-Rock

Comments: This album starts off with a couple of tracks that seem to be victims of Afro-pop flavoring a la "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," though, by the end Marching Band proves that it does have its own sound. Overall, fairly light, if occasionally high-pitched (in a Shins sort-of way) pop. "Make Up Artist"-- a cute, uppity track--is the best of the bunch. "I Could Never" is also worth a listen.

Team Clermont

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ólafur Arnalds

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Ólafur Arnalds

Album: Eulogy for Evolution

Label: Erased Tapes

Genre: Classical/Defies classification

Comments: Eulogy for Evolution is the debut record from 21-year-old composer/multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds, who is already drawing comparisons to Sigur Rós--both for their similar orchestral styles of music, and for their shared homeland of Iceland. Far be it from me to offer a critique of classical music, but this is a gorgeously crafted record that will appeal to fans of Sigur Rós (especially some of the band's older works, e.g. ()), Amiina, Múm, and perhaps even some non-Icelandic bands as well. There are some slight electronic flourishes throughout, and the last couple of tunes veer into the rock spectrum with the addition of drums and guitar. Apparently, the songs are untitled, so don't expend too much effort trying to locate the listing. I would recommend tracks 1, 4 and 6.

Matt Pryor

Add Date: July 22

Artist: Matt Pryor

Album: Confidence Man

Label: Vagrant

Genre: Folk rock, singer/songwriter

Comments: Matt Pryor was at the helm of longtime indie punk frontrunners Get Up Kids, and has more recently been known for his work with the folk pop band New Amsterdams. His solo debut Confidence Man is a pure singer/songwriter record. And it's not half bad. Check out "A Totally New Year" and "On How Our Paths Differ."

PAS/CAL

Add Date: July 22

Artist: PAS/CAL

Album: I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura

Label: Le Grand Magistery

Genre: Indie pop

Comments: This is the long-awaited debut LP from Detroit pop outfit PAS/CAL, celebrated for a series of fine EPs and 12" releases. Says superblog Stereogum about the music: "Elegant '60s-via-E6-inflected pop with a tad Dan Bejar to its lit." (For those of you who don't read indie rock shorthand, "E6" refers to the Elephant 6 collective; Dan Bejar is better known as Destroyer, as well as a member of the New Pornographers and Swan Lake.) That's a fairly comprehensive description, though at times I hear a little Belle & Sebastian, and the lyrics--not to mention the 3-song "Suite Cherry"--don't try to hide the influence of Serge Gainsbourg. All in all, this is wonderful pop music. Spin "You Were Too Old for Me," "Little Red Radio," "The Truth Behind All the Vogues She Sold" and "Dearest Bernard Living."

The Avett Brothers

Add Date: July 22

Artist: The Avett Brothers

Album: The Second Gleam (EP)

Label: Ramseur

Genre: Folk rock

Comments: Every Avett Brothers LP boasts a couple of quiet tunes that serve as a nice break from their often-rambunctious bluegrassy jams, but The Second Gleam EP features nothing but stripped-down numbers. And they're nice ones, too. Check out "Tear Down the House," "Murder in the City" and "Souls Like the Wheels."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Best New Music: Week of July 15

Best New Music: Week of July 15

Benji Hughes
Negativland
Windmill
Wild Sweet Orange
¡Forward, Russia!

Also check out: Autolux (single), The Dandy Warhols, Elephone, Melvins

Melvins

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Melvins

Album: Nude With Boots

Label: Ipecac

Genre: Metal, grunge, post-punk

Comments: Long-time Washington state grunge/metal/post-punk band Melvins returns with a new studio album, Nude With Boots. For fans of Mudhoney and Black Sabbath.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wild Sweet Orange

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Wild Sweet Orange

Album: We Have Cause to Be Uneasy

Label: Canvasback/Columbia

Genre: Folk-infused rock

Comments: Birmingham's Wild Sweet Orange exists somewhere in the corridor between folk rock and emo, most prominently traversed by Bright Eyes. This is a very respectable debut from a band that claims both Emmylou Harris and David Lynch as influences. Check out "Tilt," "Either/Or," "Crickets" and "House of Regret."

The Small Cities

Add Date: July 15

Artist: The Small Cities

Album: The Small Cities EP

Label: Common Cloud

Genre: Indie rock

Comments: Four-song debut EP from Twin Cities band the Small Cities will bring to mind the Shins and Pedro the Lion. Spin "Fargo" and "This City."

The Dandy Warhols

Add Date: July 15

Artist: The Dandy Warhols

Album: ... Earth to the Dandy Warhols...

Label: Beat the World/World's Fair

Genre: Psych rock

Comments: Much has been made of the Dandy Warhols, who have never been shy about linking themselves to the Velvet Underground. (Need more proof than the band's name? Check out the album cover for Welcome to the Monkey House.) Additionally, the rivalry with their fellow West Coast psych rockers in the Brian Jonestown Massacre was profiled in the critically acclaimed documentary DiG! But what if the music was never really substantial enough to justify this praise, or at least recognition? There's nothing fundamentally wrong with ... Earth to the Dandy Warhols..., the band's seventh proper full-length--on the whole, it's a solid psych-rock/pop record--but groundbreaking or awe-inspiring music, this ain't. Check out "The World Come On," "And Then I Dreamt of Yes" and the strangely folksy "Love Song," featuring Mark Knopfler.

Pop Levi

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Pop Levi

Album: Never Never Love (EP)

Label: Counter

Genre: Dance pop

Comments: Three-song sampler from dance rock artist Pop Levi; the full-length, recorded in the same Hollywood studio as Thriller and Off the Wall, arrives in August.

Autolux

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Autolux

Album: Audience No. 2 (EP)

Label: Self-released

Genre: Shoegaze rock

Comments: It was a pleasant surprise to receive this 3-song single/EP from Los Angeles band Autolux, whom I assumed had fallen off the earth after their excellent 2004 debut Future Perfect. Shoegaze rock that draws heavily from My Bloody Valentine (with whom Autolux will share the stage at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in New York this fall), and will appeal to fans of Blonde Redhead. This release features the single "Audience No. 2," an instrumental track and a space-rock cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter."

¡Forward, Russia!

Add Date: July 15

Artist: ¡Forward, Russia!

Album: Life Processes

Label: Mute

Genre: Post-punk, Brit rock

Comments: Leeds' ¡Forward, Russia! draw from the likely sources of inspiration for a British post-punk rock band, namely Joy Division and Gang of Four. Life Processes will appeal to fans of Bloc Party, Editors and the like. Start with "Some Buildings."

Negativland

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Negativland

Album: Thigmotactic

Label: Seeland

Genre: Indie pop, folk pop

Comments: No, that's not a misprint in the genre listing: Sound collage masters Negativland have become slightly (but only slightly) more conventional for their latest release. Instead of primarily composing their off-kilter tunes, the band takes a turn at songwriting; the result is mostly successful. There's still an abundance of external sound clips--start with "Richard Nixon Died Today"--but they complement, rather than dominate, the tunes. Also try "Basketball Plant" and "Pork in the Store."

Windmill

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Windmill

Album: Puddle City Racing Lights

Label: Friendly Fire

Genre: Indie pop, folk

Comments: Windmill is UK singer/songwriter Matthew Thomas Dillon, and Puddle City Racing Lights is his first proper studio release after a series of homemade albums recorded on a four-track. Quiet, introspective folk pop that is centered around Dillon's piano, but includes guitars, strings and other instrumentation. Dillon's voice will take some getting used to--his own promoter says he "sounds like Neil Young on a helium comedown"--but it's worth it for songs like "Plastic Pre-Flight Seats," "Fashion House" and "Asthmatic."

Monday, July 14, 2008

4 Bonjour's Parties

Add Date: July 15

Artist: 4 Bonjour's Parties

Album: Pigments Drift Down the Brook

Label: Mush Records

Genre: Chamber Pop

Comments: "4 Bonjour's Parties is a seven member strong ensemble from Tokyo, Japan. Their debut full-length release... alternat[es] between sweet and majestic, the combination of male and female vocals, and is sung in both English and Japanese. Keyboards and wind instruments lay on top of a bed of dream-rock guitar, bass and drums, creating moments of 60's guitar pop, Neu inspired repetition and modern electronics all within the same expansive track."
-Mush Records

Immediately interesting to the ear, 4 Bonjour's Parties reminds of a Belle and Sebastian focused on instrumentation rather than lyricism.

Xu Xu Fang

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Xu Xu Fang

Album: The Mourning Son

Label: Self-released

Genre: Ambient pop

Comments: According to the L.A. Times, this slow and brooding pop band led by former Warlocks drummer Bobby Tamkin sounds like "velvety gloom." Unfortunately, the CD doesn't have tracks listed, but track 2 (which I assume is "These Days") is the place to start. It and the more upbeat track 6 are the most dynamic. Watch out for track 7, which has minutes and minutes of rain sounds at the beginning.

Team Clermont

Irata

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Irata

Album: Irata

Label: Kunaki

Genre: Rock

Comments: This trio from Greensboro, NC makes a multi-layered prog sort of rock that is entirely instrumental. Start with the pretty epic "Eye of Ra," which builds well with some cool percussion and a real drive. Then go back and check out "Infinite Eight." I can't speak for the rest of the album though.

Planetary

Elephone

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Elephone

Album: Canister

Label: Talking House

Genre: Rock

Comments: This album from San Fransisco darling Elephone succeeds when it sticks to dancey power-pop and produces a few catchy tracks like "Eddie Izzard" and "American Plastic Farewell." However, slower, more emotionally heavy tracks drag the work down and keep "Canister" from being truly impressive. RIYL: Maximo Park

Vitriol

Benji Hughes

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Benji Hughes

Album: Love Extreme

Label: New West

Genre: ElectroRock

Comments: Think of Badly Drawn Boy crossed with Beck and add the emotional current of Elliott Smith and you might get something like this. ElectroRock tracks like "You Stood Me Up" and "Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way?" are worth a listen. I also liked the acoustic/pop tracks on the second disc, like the cute "The Mummy" and story-song"I Went With Some Friends to See the Flaming Lips."

Team Clermont

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mirah

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Mirah

Album: The Old Feeling Days

Label: Modern Radio

Genre: Indie pop

Comments: Sincere, raw vocals focused on lyricism are showcased on this "collection of rarities and previously unreleased tracks" from Mirah. Think Rilo Kiley or Kimya Dawson.

AAM

Trevor Menear

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Trevor Menear

Album: Reason to Leave Sampler

Label: Shangri-La

Genre: Blues Rock

Comments: This rock guitarist has won comparison to Stevie Ray Vaughn and was the youngest to play the Chicago House of Blues at the age of 13. For fans of the Black Keys.

Syndicate

Kirsten Price

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Kirsten Price

Album: Guts and Garbage

Label: Self-released

Genre: Pop-Soul

Comments: Riding the wave of the likes of Amy Winehouse and Kate Nash, Brit-born Kirsten Price delivers pleasantly pop-flavored soul which finds itself quite at home on shows such as The L Word and CSI.

Planetary

Lost Satellites

Add Date: July 15

Artist: Lost Satellites

Album: Worlds Collide

Label: Self-released

Genre: Rock

Comments: Mid-Atlantic musicians mix "60's rock, 80's and 90's grunge and alt rock, blanketed with contemporary indie style and attitude." The result is like a southern rock tinge/jam band version of R.E.M.

Planetary

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Big Yes and a small no

Add Date: July 8

Artist: A Big Yes and a small no

Album: Jesus That Looks Terrible on You

Label: Thorough Left

Genre: Indie rock, indie pop

Comments: Upbeat pop record from Brooklyn's A Big Yes and a small no. In unorthodox fashion, the vibraphone is the instrument of choice for frontman and songwriter Kevin Kendrick, but it works quite well. Check out "Faded Away" and the title track.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Best New Music: Week of July 8

Best New Music: Week of July 8

The Hold Steady
Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning
Alaska in Winter
Abe Vigoda
Hypatia Lake

Also check out: Beck, Daedelus, Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered, Vancougar

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hypatia Lake

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Hypatia Lake

Album: Angels and Demons, Space and Time

Label: Reverb

Genre: Post-rock, shoegaze, psychedelic rock

Comments: For a band with such a diverse sound, the mixing of a record takes on supreme importance. There's no second-guessing the arrangement on Angels and Demons, Space and Time, the third record from Seattle's Hypatia Lake. The album begins with sparse-yet-not-quiet shoegaze tunes, explodes into noise rock, and then concludes with a couple of psychedelic rock numbers. The band's sonic influences seem to range from My Bloody Valentine and the Mercury Rev to (on those last songs) the Velvet Underground and the Stooges. This is a very promising release. Go from "Jeremiah, Close Your Eyes Now" to "The Lucifer Rebellion" and "YUYM."

Brendan Canning

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning

Album: Something for All of Us...

Label: Arts & Crafts

Genre: Indie rock, shoegaze

Comments: This is the second in the "Broken Social Scene Presents" series; the first came from Kevin Drew, who co-founded Canada's premier music collective with Brendan Canning. Though Drew's Spirit If... and Canning's Something for All of Us... both sound a lot like previous BSS works, the two records are, side by side, relatively dissimilar. They're not completely unalike, of course, considering that both pull from the same pool of superb musicians--both men played heavy roles on each other's releases, not to mention the contributions from Andrew Whiteman, James Shaw, Ohad Benchetrit, Amy Millan, Jason Collett and so on--but whereas Drew's album leaned more toward the folksy end of the BSS spectrum, Canning's is a true rock record. The punchy single "Hit the Wall" is the place to start; also spin the title track, "Churches Under the Stairs" and "Possible Grenade."

Alkaline Trio

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Alkaline Trio

Album: Agony & Irony

Label: Epic

Genre: Pop-punk, emo

Comments: Sixth album from Chicago pop-punk masters Alkaline Trio; it's their first for Epic after a string of very successful releases on Vagrant. Start with "Over and Out."

Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert Vol. 8

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Various Artists

Album: Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert Vol. 8

Label: Evil Teen

Genre: Compilations, jam bands

Comments: A star-studded charity compilation from Warren Haynes, the leader of Gov't Mule and touring member of the Allman Brothers. Features tracks from Haynes and Mule, the Taj Mahal Trio, the John Popper Project, Marty Stuart and the New Orleans Social Club; guests include Branford Marsalis (multiple songs) and Dave Matthews (Gov't Mule's version of the Neil Young classic "Cortez the Killer"). Proceeds from this annual concert and CD sales benefit Habitat for Humanity.

Vancougar

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Vancougar

Album: Canadian Tuxedo

Label: Mint

Genre: Punk, garage rock

Comments: Equal parts classic punk and garage rock, with a little '60s girl group thrown in, Vancougar (who are, as you may have guessed, from Vancouver) debut on Mint Records with Canadian Tuxedo. RIYL Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara and the Donnas. Check out "Obvious" and "Distance."

Mister Vague

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Mister Vague

Album: Allergic to Everything

Label: Slothtrop

Genre: Indie rock, lo-fi

Comments: A very '90s-sounding indie rock record from Reno's Mister Vague. Allergic to Everything was produced by Low's Alan Sparhawk. Begin with "Jaded Broke + Wasted"--doesn't that just sound like a Pavement song title?

Random Touch

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Random Touch

Albums: Duologue and A Box and a Word

Label: Token Boy

Genre: Experimental

Comments: Experimental rock with elements of jazz and classical. Will appeal to fans of avant garde groups like Can and Nurse With Wound. Try "Chit Chat" from Duologue and "Opera of Vaudeville" from A Box and a Word.

Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Various Artists

Album: Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered

Label: Rapster

Genre: Compilations, electronic rock

Comments: A very interesting and well-done record of David Bowie covers, performed (and usually reinterpreted) primarily by modern electronic artists. My favorites were "Looking for Water" by Carl Craig Presents Zoos of Berlin, "A New Career in a New Town" by Joakim & the Disco, "Be My Wife" by Richard Walters & Faultline, "Sweet Thing" by Paper Jones and "Oh! You Pretty Things" by Au Revoir Simone.

Daedelus

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Daedelus

Album: Love to Make Music To

Label: Ninja Tune

Genre: Electronica, hip hop, experimental

Comments: A fine electronic pop record from producer/multi-instrumentalist Daedelus. Known for using samples from as far back as the 1930s, Daedelus has made a very modern-sounding record with Love to Make Music To. Check out "Get Off Your Hi-Hats," "Make It So" and "Fair Weather Friends," and also spin the hip hop track "Twist the Kids," featuring vocals from N'fa.

Architecture in Helsinki

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Architecture in Helsinki

Album: Like It or Not (EP)

Label: Polyvinyl

Genre: Indie pop

Comments: Australian pop outfit Architecture in Helsinki have mastered the concept of the single: though "Like It or Not" is taken from their 2007 full-length Places Like This, none of the five tracks on this EP have been previously issued in their current form. The band has reworked the title selection (and I like this version better than the one on the LP), which is also remixed by El Guincho; also on this release are two songs that are regularly part of the band's live shows, as well as a Max Tundra remix of Places Like This tune "Hold Music."

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Album: Have Another Ball!

Label: Fat Wreck Chords

Genre: Punk

Comments: The songs on Have Another Ball! from punk rock cover artists Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were originally recorded for their 1997 debut Have a Ball, before that release was scaled back from a double-CD. This record includes songs by Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Carole King and John Denver; I particularly liked their version of the Hall and Oates hit "Rich Girl."

Beck

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Beck

Album: Modern Guilt

Label: DGC

Genre: Rock

Comments: Remember when the arrival of a new Beck album was cause for celebration at a college radio station? That this is no longer the case isn't the fault of Beck Hansen, who can still make a gem of a pop song or 10. While the golden age of his music has likely passed (let's say it ran from 1996's Odelay through 2002's Sea Change), Modern Guilt is still a fine record. Co-produced by Beck and Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse. Check out "Youthless," the non-profane "Profanity Prayers" and "Replica."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Abe Vigoda

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Abe Vigoda

Album: Skeleton

Label: PPM

Genre: Punk, art rock, experimental

Comments: What's that Smell? Why, that's the stench of a bad joke about the L.A. club that continues to provide us with refreshing rock, punk and experimental bands. (The most well-to-do of such acts is No Age, with whom the band Abe Vigoda is touring.) Skeleton is an excellent record that mashes up Nouns-style punk, art rock and even some tropical influences. Start with "Bear Face" and "Cranes."

At the Spine

Add Date: July 8

Artist: At the Spine

Album: Vita

Label: Global Seepej

Genre: Rock, post-punk

Comments: Politically-charged music from Seattle's At the Spine on their fourth album. Lead singer Mike Toschi wrote most of Vita while working as a substitute teacher in a poor neighborhood of London. For fans of Fugazi and the Pixies. Start with "Dine" and "World Turned Upside Down."

Alaska in Winter

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Alaska in Winter

Album: Dance Party in the Balkans

Label: Milan

Genre: Rock, downtempo, synth pop

Comments: The project of Brandon Bethancourt, Alaska in Winter exists somewhere in the vast space between Air and Beirut, whose Zach Condon plays trumpet, flugelhorn and ukelele on this record and also sings on "Close Your Eyes - We Are Blind." In fact, Bethancourt gathered a host of talented musicians to help him finish an album he started making while holed up in a cabin on the Alaskan coast. And just how many so-called "synth pop" records have you heard with strings and horns? An excellent, and wonderfully unique, collection. Start with "The Homeless and the Hummingbirds," "Horsey Horse" and the title selection; also check out the bonus track "A Love Note from Your Piano," slightly more upbeat than the rest of the record.

Globes on Remote

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Globes on Remote

Album: Globes on Remote (EP)

Label: Self-released

Genre: Indie rock

Comments: Very promising EP from this as-yet-unsigned Los Angeles band. Will appeal to fans of Tapes 'n Tapes and Cold War Kids. All three songs on this set are worth spinning.

Little Jackie

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Little Jackie

Album: The Stoop

Label: S-Curve

Genre: R&B, pop

Comments: The promo sticker refers to this music as "an eclectic mix of genres." But really, it's not. This is very good R&B music with a pop flair--not eclectic, so much as effective, on this collaboration between songwriter/vocalist Imani Coppola and producer Adam Pallin. You may have heard the single "The World Should Revolve Around Me" floating around. Also check out "Guys Like When Girls Kiss" and "LOL."

Greg Laswell

Add Date: July 8

Artist: Greg Laswell

Album: Three Flights from Alto Nido

Label: Vanguard

Genre: Folk pop

Comments: Solid folk pop from California singer/songwriter Greg Laswell on his second record for Vanguard (Watson Twins, Yonder Mountain String Band). Check out "How the Day Sounds" and "Days Go On."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Best New Music: Week of July 1

Best New Music: Week of July 1

Silver Jews
Dr. Dog
Boy in Static
Taylor Hollingsworth
Albert Hammond, Jr.

Also check out: The Dutchess & the Duke, Love As Laughter, The Bridges, Joshua Lanes

Love As Laughter

Add Date: July 1

Artist: Love As Laughter

Album: Holy

Label: Glacial Pace/Epic

Genre: Rock

Comments: This is just the second album to be released on the Isaac Brock-curated branch of Epic, Glacial Pace--the first was Mason Jennings' Boneclouds in 2006--and it's just Love As Laughter's second record since their acclaimed 2001 effort Sea to Shining Sea (Sub Pop). Holy probably won't go down as the band's best, but it's a solid record from start to finish. The title track and "Crosseyed Beautiful Youngunz" were featured on the EP that's been on the playlist for a few weeks; also check out the rocker "Peace" and the slower "Don't Worry."

Albert Hammond, Jr.

Add Date: July 1

Artist: Albert Hammond, Jr.

Album: ¿Cómo Te Llama?

Label: Black Seal

Genre: Rock

Comments: Albert Hammond, Jr. is fighting an uphill battle for recognition as a solo musician; he's primarily known as either the rhythm guitarist for the Strokes, or the son and namesake of a famous '70s singer/songwriter. Hammond, Jr.'s second solo release--both of which have come out since the Strokes last produced a studio album--will continue to help him make a name for himself. Though the guitar on ¿Cómo Te Llama? sounds familiar, Hammond's solo work is influenced less by garage rock, and much more by '60s pop. Start with "GfC," "Borrowed Time" and "You Won't Be Fooled By This." For a Strokes-leaning tune, spin "G Up."

Bajofondo

Add Date: July 1

Artist: Bajofondo

Album: Mar Dulce

Label: Decca

Genre: Latin pop, electronica

Comments: Argentina's Bajofondo won a Latin Grammy for Best Instrumental Pop Album with their self-titled debut, and Mar Dulce is the follow-up from this "electronica tango" band. Guests on the album range from Elvis Costello to Nelly Furtado to Japanese bandoneon player Ryota Komatsu.

The Awkward Stage

Add Date: July 1

Artist: The Awkward Stage

Album: Slimming Mirrors, Flattering Lights

Label: Mint

Genre: Rock

Comments: This is the sophomore release from Vancouver's Awkward Stage, fronted by Shane Nelken, a member of A.C. Newman's touring band. Solid indie rock/power pop that will appeal to fans of the New Pornographers, Sloan and the Shins. Start with "Anime Eyes" and "Hey, Modern School Girl."

The Song Corporation

Add Date: July 1

Artist: The Song Corporation

Album: Pirates!

Label: Self-released

Genre: Rock

Comments: Brooklyn's Song Corporation claims Sonic Youth and Talking Heads as influences; there's also a bit of the B-52's thrown in for good measure. Check out "NYC Love Song" and "Kiss a Lil' Woman."

We Versus the Shark

Add Date: July 1

Artist: We Versus the Shark

Album: Dirty Versions

Label: Hello Sir

Genre: Noise rock, experimental

Comments: Aggressive noise rock from this Athens band on their second release. "Hello Blood" will appeal to fans of No Age; also check out the wonderfully hyper "I Am the Contempt Machine."

More Barn: A Tribute to Neil Young

Add Date: July 1

Artist: Various Artists

Album: More Barn: A Tribute to Neil Young

Label: Slothtrop Music

Genre: Compilations

Comments: Happy Canada Day, everybody! Slothtrop Music presents an 18-song tribute to Ontario's own Neil Young; proceeds from the record will benefit the Young-founded Bridge School in San Francisco. Most of the artists are rather unknown, and some of the covers aren't all that great--to be fair, Young's musicianship is tough to live up to--but these are worth your time: "Needle and the Damage Done" by melaniejane, "Thrasher" by Juniper Tar, "Don't Cry No Tears" by Albert, and "Running Dry" by Jay Bennett (ex-Wilco) and Edward Burch.

The Bridges

Add Date: July 1

Artist: The Bridges

Album: Limits of the Sky

Label: Verve Forecast

Genre: Pop rock

Comments: An upbeat pop debut from this family band (four siblings and one cousin) out of Alabama. Limits of the Sky was produced by Matthew Sweet, who knows a thing or two about making good pop music. The album starts out with a gem of a tune in "All the Words"--perhaps too solid of an opener, as the rest of the record has a tough time living up to that standard. Nevertheless, there are some other finds the rest of the way; try "Blue," "To Say the Least" and "Unconditional."

SJ Esau

Add Date: July 1

Artist: SJ Esau

Album: Small Vessel

Label: Anticon

Genre: Defies classification

Comments: Sam Wisternoff, a.k.a. SJ Esau, is lovingly described by the promoter as a "rock collagist." Small Vessel sees Esau combining a wide variety of sounds into something that's not quite rock, but certainly worth a listen. Somewhere between Psapp and Anticon labelmates Why? Check out "Frustrating" and "Bubblehead."