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Archive for the ‘Indie’ Category

“Lost in the Light”

In Folk, Indie, Soul on January 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm

A sleepy, smoky bar. Tall tables and ashtrays, scattered and half-full. A few barflies bellied up, backs turned to the stage. A golden guitar appears before the microphone.  The speakers bark as the cord slides home and one of the silent strangers glances over at the guitar. A pale hand grips the fretboard, its partner poised above the pickups. Twang, CHK, twang, CHK. Every chord, a heartbeat. Every heartbeat, a breath. Every breath, an ascension. Bar stools slowly swivel towards the spotlights. The barkeep has stopped sweeping up yesterday’s dust, his hands and chin resting on the end of the broom. The golden guitar speaks softly. Twang, CHK, heartbeats align, the room breathes in, the room breathes out.  The beats, the breaths, and the dust the only sounds, cutting away the darkness.

Bahamas is the soundchild of Feist’s touring guitarist, Toronto’s Alfie Jurvanen. Barchords is out February 7th on Brushfire Records. Stream the whole thing over at Paste.

White Rabbits “Heavy Metal”

In hype, Indie, Pop, Rock on January 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm


I couldn’t not post this new track from White Rabbits, because the video is super rad and the song might be even better. These guys have come a long way since their Cold War Kids-esque “Percussion Gun” period. Here the beat slips into a slick groove and never comes back out, the perfect hype track that leaves you wanting so much more. Their third long-player Milk Famous drops on March 6th.

Download “Heavy Metal” here free.

[via mp3med/npr]

Survival of the Fittest

In Electronic, Indie, Pop, Rock, Soul, Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm


“…Wesafari is relatively unknown in their own hometown of Seattle, the natives distracted by other Pacific Northwest heavyweights like The Decemberists, Deathcab for Cutie, The Shins, etc. They are the underdogs with no expectations. In near obscurity, they crafted this stellar collection of sounds, samples, and hooks into an album that has easily breached my all-time top 20. Now all they need is a follow-up…”

I wrote this blip in October of 2006, a fact that only cements the reality of the time that has elapsed between then and now. Somewhat tragically, I could write an identical passage about Wesafari today and still be almost 100% factually correct. The slight statistical anomaly is actually the most important part: there is now a follow-up…

Wesafari might be the ultimate local band. Amazing(ly), obscure. A treasure you feel priveleged to know about. A small part of you just wants to keep them in your pocket forever, but the bigger part wants them to play packed rooms in every town. For the dynamic healing power of their music to fix scores of unsuspecting and previously unhappy people. For the artistic process, the sweat and tears and time it takes to make something great, to all be worth it in the end. This industry sucks so bad right now, it blows my mind sometimes that bands that fit Wesafari’s description (of which there are few) even exist at all.

Being such a huge fan of Alaska, I was almost afraid to listen to Sea Survivors. The fear was short-lived. Like Alaska‘s “Shooting Stars” before it, “Lions” is a killer opener here , but with a key difference: it’s not Alaska. My interest piqued, I plowed onward. A few things stand out. One of the only negative things I can say about Alaska is that it is relatively short (9 tracks). Survivors comes in a healthy 13 tracks long and is immaculately paced. Newest band member Trina Mills lends her vocals to a few songs, most notably “Eye for an Ideal”, where she and Rick Wright do a little back and forth round that I loved.  This still sounds like the Wesafari I love, but it’s warmer, more hopeful and lush. A little more golden. If Alaska was a snow drift lean-to, Sea Survivors is a blanket, beckoning you from the chaise lounge, ready to bring the heat back into your life.

Listen:
Lions
Matchbox
[from Sea Survivors|buy]
Shooting Stars
[from Alaska|buy]
BONUS TRACK!!
From Glacier to Sea
[live on KEXP]

My Favorite Albums of 2010

In Folk, Indie, Pop, Rock, Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:55 pm

10. Shapiro – s/t
9. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
8. Autolux – Transit Transit
7. Pomagranates – One of Us
6. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

5. Spoon – Transference
Out Go the Lights
I wrote in January that Transference was Spoon “going back to the drawing board and crafting another flawless spectacle out of tinfoil and toothpicks” and the record has only gotten stronger in the days between. Spoon’s music does not have to be shiny to speak. There are tracks here that sound like they were recorded in the living room by a tape recorder in the kitchen, by old newspaper speakers, by black and white and grainy gramophone. It matters not. This band exists in its own world, and we listen and judge it to be good, convention be damned. While some songs end up sticking in your head, Spoon has rarely been a singles band. This album is loose and free, dark and light, gritty and brave. 2010 simply marks a new vintage of the same old Spoon.
[buy on iTunes or Amazon]
4. Vampire Weekend – Contra
I Think UR a Contra
Two seconds into Contra, I came full-circle on Vampire Weekend. I’d been unfair, a victim of my own pretentious bullshit. I refused to like their self-titled debut, buying instead into the vicious backlash sprung forth from the sudden fawning of the press and fans alike. I wrote off their revolutionary “afro-beat” sound because I thought it was a gimmick, and because I didn’t want to associate with the annoying, whiny Brooklyn hipsters who were adopting it as their anthem. Contra changed all that. This band is simply too good to endure a sophomore slump. Along the way Ezra Koenig has become this generation’s Rivers Cuomo, a musical savant in a cardigan, practically inventing his own genre. It’s a fact quickly confirmed by the most telling of occurrences: rampant haters and copycats. Contra is quick, tight, and brilliantly bright. And if you’ve written them off too, I’d urge you to reconsider. Everyone deserves a second chance, after all. [buy on iTunes or Amazon]
3. Faded Paper Figures – New Medium
Rewind
It’s probably unfair to say Faded Paper Figures are currently outdoing Ra Ra Riot at their own game (namely by writing better songs), but I guess I just said it. Guy/girl vox, synths, glockenspiels, tambourines, and probably the kitchen sink mark many parts of New Medium, but the reason it works is the carefully-paced exhales opposite these wild inhalations. Owl City got a lot of press by copyin…errr…filling the void the Postal Service abandoned by never following Give Up. With most audiophiles, Owl City is something of a joke now, nothing but a dumbed-down facade of the Postal Service aimed at 13-year-old girls. We should have been looking to Faded Paper Figures all along. New Medium, and ’08’s Dynamo before it, provide a proper and logical progression from Give Up. It’s a unique, melodic and honest record. A truly dynamic long-player of an album. Bravo. [buy on iTunes or CDBaby]
2. Field Music – (Measure)
In the Mirror
David Brewis can do very little wrong in my eyes. No matter the supporting cast (he released one of the best records of 2008 on his own) or the country he lives in (Canada for ’07’s Tones of Town, now back in England), he continues to craft incredible smart-pop. Imagine ’90s cult-pop icons Jellyfish with less Queen and more Beatles. String samples and time-signature magic are hallmarks, but the best part has always been the melodies and expert arrangement of all the pieces. It’s dizzying and disorienting at times, but when the resolve comes around, an incredibly satisfying listening experience. [buy on iTunes or Amazon]
1. Darwin Deez – s/t
The City
I spun this record more than any other this year, so much so that my wife grew to love, then loathe it because of Darwin’s almost-annoying level of catchiness. It plays with the attitude of a 19-year-old thrust into the world, determined to pierce the fog of adulthood with the powers of light, innocence, exuberance, confidence, whimsy, adoration, and wild love. Where there was once darkness, there is none to be found. Darwin’s re-evolution is upon us. [buy on iTunes or Amazon]

The Lonely Forest on Irony

In Indie, Pop, Rock on December 17, 2010 at 11:44 am


It seems a little early and out of nowhere to be getting a marketing blast for a March 22 release by a band I’ve never heard of before. I open the e-mail because, at first glance, I think that The Lonely Island is announcing their next record. Wrong.

This e-mail is about the Lonely Forest, the first band signed to Death Cab’s guitarist Chris Walla’s new label Trans Records. He might even be a better producer and mixer than guitarist, having had his hand in the production credits on records for DCfC, Nada Surf, Mates of State, Ra Ra Riot, So Many Dynamos, Telekinesis!, The Long Winters, Teagan and Sara, The Thermals, the Decemberists, and his own record Field Manual, which came out on Barsuk in 2008. My interest is piqued…

There’s a video in the e-mail, for a song ironically titled “Turn off This Song and Go Outside”. It’s ironic, I suppose, because instead of following orders, I turn up the song, play it over and over, and remain cemented in place in front of the computer.  I am defiant and excited. It sounds like Walla’s hand is heavy in this track (a good thing). Rife with toe-stomping anthemic down-strummed guitars and a hook so sharp you don’t even realize you’re caught, it’s a tune brimming with feel-good optimism. With that, implore you to turn off, turn off this blog, find someone to love, turn off this blog, you can always read it later…

Listen:
I Don’t Want to Live There
[from s/t EP|buy on iTunes or AmazonMP3]
Tomato Soup
[from We Sing the Body Electric!|buy]

Darwin’s Re-Evolution

In Electronic, Indie, Pop, Rock on January 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

The first post of 2010 deserved to be a good one. It could have easily been about Vampire Weekend making the “sophomore slump” seem like something that only happens to everyone else. Or Spoon going back to the drawing board and crafting another flawless spectacle out of tinfoil and toothpicks. It’d be too obvious and tell you absolutely nothing you don’t already know.

Instead, my first post of 2010 is about someone you’ve (probably) never heard of. It’s a guy who, at first glance, looks like such a hipster that I gagged. And then I pressed play. Three seconds into “Constellations”, I was sold. Next song, boom. Next song, bam. It’s so on.

He goes by the name of Darwin Deez and his sound is certainly evolutionary. This gentleman plays a 4-string guitar of his own secret tuning and makes me beg the question “why do we need the other two again?” Someone either hilarious or genius (or both) has named him the Michael Jackson of indie rock. All I really care about is that this combo of endless melodies, jagged plucky guitars, summer-soaked drums and handclaps are nothing short of infectious. Astouding, even. I’m giddy.

Listen:
The City
Bad Day
[from Darwin Deez|buy]

A Black Posting

In Folk, Indie, Pop, Rock on November 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm

The clock ticked. The clock tocked. At 5AM, the multitudes flocked. Lines drifted ’round the block. Everything you came for was out of stock. You are so outrageously focked.

I’ll admit that something in my blood wanted to go shopping today. I had the patriotic urge to spend ridiculous amounts of cash, to save 40% on something I didn’t need, to set myself up for a few hours of hell on earth. But I was able to resist and I’m blogging instead. It’s free!

I hope you have leftover thanksgiving feast upon which you may feast again. I hope your day was bright and sunny. I miss you dearly.

Listen:
Lovedrug – Blackout
[from Pretend You’re Alive|buy]
Ohbijou – Black Ice
[from Beacons|buy]
Gregory Alan Isakov – Big Black Car
[from The Empty Northern Hemisphere|buy]

My American Jacket

In Indie, Rock, Southern-Fried on November 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James puts his pants one leg at a time, just like you and I. Except he first does a back handspring into one leg of the pants, which are delivered to him by two winged monkeys. I’ve never seen this feat in person, but since last Sunday’s episode of American Dad was so kind as to animate the sequence for us, it must be fact.

In all seriousness, I’m not a MMJ freak, by any stretch. I have a few friends who are and I applaud their ability to lose themselves in mid-tempo reverb-drowned southern crooning. Dad‘s Stan Smith becomes one of these freaks in the episode, only one of the best musician-cameo’d sitcom/cartoon episodes of all time.  In addition to the aforementioned tomfoolery, six of James’ tracks are featured prominently, which I’m sure will result in gobs of new fans plucking up MMJ music. The tracks chosen are, in my opinion, most of the band’s best…which means it’s kind of downhill from there. That tiny nugget aside, I can still get lost in “Golden” on my own time and revel in the last two minutes of “Wordless Chorus”, much like Stan. Oh Jim, you know me so well.

Listen:
Golden
[from It Still Moves|buy]
Wordless Chords
[from Z|buy]

[get the whole soundtrack to “My Morning Straightjacket” on iTunes]

LAKE ‘n Bake

In Folk, Indie, Pop on November 11, 2009 at 2:04 pm

lakeMake sure when you talk about Olympia’s LAKE that you capitalize the letters. I have reason to believe they’ll throw daisies at you if you refuse. Either that or drench you with some kind of homemade sun-capturing device they’ve been saving for just this occasion. Just capitalize it and don’t think twice.

Let’s Build a Roof is as lo-fi as the trees and wind and just as affecting. It’s a warm. musical breeze weaving through the woods to the tiny cabin in which you stand, cupping your ear to the door. It is the sound of ripples on the LAKE, lapping gently against the side of your rowboat. The sound of twinkling stars, of whisper-thin cloud cover, of forest creatures falling in love.

LAKE is about to bring you copious amounts of joy.

Listen:
Loose Wind
Don’t Give Up
[from Let’s Build a Roof|buy]
Heaven
[from Oh, The Places We’ll Go|buy]

Them Freelancin’ Whales

In Bluegrass, Electronic, Indie, Pop on November 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm

freelancewhalesFreelance Whales

You thought this was a few things. Emo, electronic, cute. Then it became something else. Banjo, xylophone, deep. Then the things became one. And then you were helplessly pleased.

Listen:
Starring
The Great Estates
[from Weathervanes|buy on iTunes]