Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fear Before the March of Flames - Art Damage (2004)

Before the polished record that accompanied a not-so-necessary name change, Fear Before the March of Flames released this little beauty. An amalgamation of raw emotion, hard riffs and dry, sharp wit, Art Damage is a force to be reckoned with. This is the album that really defined their sound and cemented their place in the experimental hardcore scene. The whole album is great, but if I had to pick a favorite track, it would have to be "Should Have Stayed in the Shallows." Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you... FEAR BEFORE THE MARCH OF FLAMES!!!!

For fans of: Heavy Heavy Low Low, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, The JonBenét


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Paul Baribeau and Ginger Alford - Darkness on the Edge of Your Town Tour (2008)

Back in 2006, Paul Baribeau and Ginger Alford (Good Luck, One Reason) decided to go on tour playing nothing but Bruce Springsteen covers. Of the fourteen that made up the setlists, ten were recorded. These ten songs are the result of two people coming together (they'd hardly met before this tour and had never played together) over a mutual love of Bruce Springsteen. Kinda brings a tear to your eye, huh? No? Then, my friend, you don't have a soul. Sorry I had to be the one to tell you. From "Bobby Jean" to "Thunder Road," these fast-paced, heart-filled tunes are really quite expectional. Baribeau's howl and Alford's timbre come together in a match made in folk-rock heaven. 'Cause tramps like them? Baby they were born to run...

For fans of: The Boss, Good Luck, Ghost Mice, Andrew Jackson Jihad

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cursive - Burst and Bloom (2001)

This EP was the major turning point in Cursive's career (thus far). After the release of 2000's Domestica, frontman Tim Kasher wanted to shake things up a bit and did just that. Cellist Gretta Gohn was added to the lineup and the result was a five song musical explosion. The record's opener, "Sink to the Beat" (where the EP gets its name from), no doubt the most well known song from this release, is a commentary on songwriting and the release of this record in general. Old school internet addicts will recognize the riff from "The Great Decay" from the totally awesome online game Emogame. Please do not miss this, because if you don't already have it, your collection is lacking like whoa.

For fans of: The Good Life, Murder by Death, Desaparecidos


Monday, December 14, 2009

Allison Weiss - Live at Sidewalk NYC (2008)

Recorded last year at one of her live performances, this album is such a wonderful representation of singer/songwriter Allison Weiss. For those who were up until now unfamiliar with her work, it provides a delightful introduction. For those who are longtime fans of hers, it provides what so many people yearn for from their favorite artists; a live album that doesn't completely blow. It makes sense that an Allison Weiss record can multitask like that, because those who have had the privilege of attending one of her shows are given a perfect display of multitasking. She manages to fulfill the audience's need to hear good music while also making them laugh a few times, all the while completely kicking ass. She's no studio-only band, she's actually got musical prowess and it's on display for all to see (well, hear). Live at Sidewalk NYC is home to such gems as "I'm Ready" and "July 25, 2007," and like her friend and fellow musician Jenny Owen Youngs did on The Take Off All Your Clothes EP, includes a pretty bitchin' cover song. I won't spoil the surprise and tell you what it is, you'll know it when you hear it. Well, what are you waiting for? Get to clickin', already!

For fans of: Jenny Owen Youngs, Madeline, Julia Nunes


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winterpills - Winterpills (2005)

The album cover says more than words do, but I'll write them anyway. The air around you will never sound as melancholy as when this record is playing. Soft guitar opens the door to the dulcet male/female vocals of Philip Price and Flora Reed on the album's opener, "A Benediction," and just keeps going onwards and upwards from there. The eponymous debut of this Northampton, MA band floats like a leaf on the wind, and yet manages to carry the weight of a world on its melodies. A few choice tracks one ought not to miss include (but are not limited to) "Pills for Sara," "Cranky," and "Laughing." I mean, come on, you gotta love something from Massachusetts that for once does not include the phrase, "wicked re-TAH-ted."

For fans of: Great Northern, The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers, The Rosebuds, The Wooden Birds


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind (1983)

Respect your elders, kids, otherwise they'll melt your face off. This album is a monument among albums in the NWOBHM (that's New Wave of British Heavy Metal for those of you following along at home) genre. This album is home to lyrics influenced by everyone from Tennyson to Crowley and guitar licks without which there would be no Coheed and Cambria or Dream Theater. The most famous piece of music on this record is no doubt "The Trooper," inspired by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade," which displays its famous "galloping" bass line and unforgettable intro. This is good for you, so eat up.

For fans of: Judas Priest, AC/DC, Saxon


Friday, December 11, 2009

Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked for the Holidays (2004)

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, and while we all await the arrival of the fabled Chanukah Zombie, here's something to listen to in order to help you get into the holiday spirit. This album is one of my favorite holiday albums of all time. It's got everything. It's got instrumental renditions of holiday classics like "Carol of the Bells" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," it's got fantastic collaborations like "Elf's Lament," which features Michael Bublé, and (my personal favorite song on the album) a medley of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings" which features Sarah McLachlan, and of course songs in the style of offbeat humor that BNL is so known for, like their rendition of "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Stills," which is a cover of "Deck the Halls" but simply repeating the words, "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young" over and over in place of the original lyrics. Another track of notable beauty and awesome is the original tune, "Hanukkah Blessings." Enjoy, and let the festivities begin! Plus, if you're still not sold on this record, don't take my word for it, check out what Sir Paul said about this band...

"Their harmonies are right on. They could outsing us any day of the week. I don’t think John and myself ever had the sort of range they do." - Paul McCartney

For fans of: They Might Be Giants, The Vanity Project, The Brothers Creegan


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Manitoba - Start Breaking My Heart (2001)

The debut full-length by Dan Snaith (a.k.a. Caribou), is a must-have for downtempo enthusiasts. This record houses an amalgamation consisting of glitchy effects, sparse vocals and ringing melodies that float over eccentric loops and percussion. The track "People Eating Fruit" would fit right in on Aphex Twin's 1997 release Come to Daddy. Start Breaking My Heart is ambient, yet stimulating; calm, yet effervescent; straightforward yet delightfully complex. The best thing I could compare this album to is REM sleep. The body is in its deepest level of sleep, but there's so much happening upstairs. It's most likely that your brain deserves a treat, so press play and let it bask in the glow that only this record can offer.

For fans of: Caribou, Four Tet, Dntel, Aphex Twin


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jeffrey Lewis - It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through (2003)

The second (more widely available album) by singer/songwriter Jeffrey Lewis, "It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through" is a neo-classic anti-folk treasure. The album's demeanor is reminiscent of early '90s releases by The Mountain Goats, not just for its lo-fi splendor, but also for the razor sharp wit it carries in songs like "Back When I Was 4," a fictional account of Jeff's life so far, from ages 4 all the way to 128. When the zombie apocalypse happens (yes, WHEN), we can find comfort in the fact that we listened to this album, and learned survival skills from the song "If You Shoot the Head You Kill the Ghoul." Just like Dylan and Oberst, he's not the world's most phenomenal vocalist, but that doesn't matter one bit. The songs are perfect just the way they are. If they weren't like this, they'd lose so much. Give this a listen and you'll see what I mean.

For fans of: Kimya Dawson, The Mountain Goats, Diane Cluck

***Hey guys, Jeff has contacted us and kindly asked us to take the link to the full album down, so I've done just that. I'm now directing you to There are plenty of awesome downloads, samples and awesome things for your listening and viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Atom and His Package - Redefining Music (2001)

The fourth full length from this Philadelphia-based one man arsenal of sound, "Redefining Music" is a healthy part of this balanced breakfast. Retaining the classic sequencer-heavy punk sound that he's so well-known for, this record comes with full force, as well as plenty of beeps and boops. This album is home to cover songs like "Seed Song," "Going to Georgia," "Alpha Desperation March" and "Open Your Heart" (the first three being by The Mountain Goats while the last is a Madonna cover) as well as Atom and His Package staples, "Anarchy Means I Litter," "Undercover Funny," "Shopping Spree," and (my personal favorite song of his) "Upside Down from Here." The longest song on this release clocks in at around 3:18, and just as well. Punk songs are short and sweet and this record packs a shitload of sweet.

For fans of: Armalite, Bomb the Music Industry!, The Dead Milkmen

Monday, December 7, 2009

Various Artists - This Is Indie Rock: The Best Bands You've Never Heard (Volume 1) (2004)

Honestly? The title of the album says it all. Live a little and give this compilation a chance. There are some really good finds here. In the event that the files are labeled incorrectly, I've provided the track listing below.

01. The Pit That Became a Tower - "I Must Save the President"
02. Clair de Lune - "Marionettes"
03. The Blind King - "Indie Pop Song"
04. dino velvet - "The Weekend Warriors"
05. Second Hand Stories - "Frontiers"
06. Throat - "Saturday"
07. Winter in Alaska - "Puzzle: Part One"
08. Joanna Erdos - "Silver & Gold"
09. Siva - "G"
10. Lakota - "So Simple"
11. Leaving Rouge - "Rooms"
12. The Kidcrash - "Bells and Hammers"

For fans of: Clair de Lune, dino velvet, The Kidcrash


Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Was a Cub Scout - I Want You to Know That There Is Always Hope (2008)

Guitars? Check. Pleasant heartfelt vocals? Check. Delighful layers of synth? Check. Kickass drummer? Check. "I Want You to Know That There is Always Hope," the first and only release by William Bowerman and Todd Marriott under the name I Was a Cub Scout is the latest in the line of great musical collaboration in the past few years. The Postal Service did it with "Give Up," The Mountain Goats and Kaki King did it with "Black Pear Tree" and I Was a Cub Scout don't miss a beat with this record. In the same aspect of albums like "The Ugly Organ" or "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," the first few tracks seem to flow together seamlessly. The first song, "Save Your Wishes" (the single that got the band a lot of recognition on eyeToones) is a tale of too little too late, giving someone yourself, getting nothing in return and then having them want you after you've been hurt and they miss the attention. Marriott's feelings towards the song's subject are best displayed in the chorus, "Save your wishes 'cause they won't help you and keep your kisses, as they're unwanted." Gang vocals and drums galore flesh out the following track, "Echoes" and go straight into "Lucean." The fourth song, "Pink Squares," is probably the band's most well known song, both released as a single and having been made into a music video. Neil Young once said that it was better to burn out than to fade away, and while it was sad to see something so good end so soon, it comes as a relief that it ended before it had the chance to jump the shark.

For fans of: DARTZ!, Hot Club de Paris, Tellison


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Wooden Birds - Magnolia (2009)

This album marks Andrew Kenny's return to Austin, TX after quite a bit of time spent in Brooklyn, and what a triumphant return it is. Kenny, most famous for his previous efforts as the centerpiece for The American Analog Set, applies his trademark mellow vocals and minimalist guitar to "Magnolia," the debut album from his latest project, The Wooden Birds. "False Alarm" and "Sugar" were the first two tracks to be uploaded to the band's MicePace page, and AmAnSet fans everywhere hit their heads on the ceiling while jumping for joy. Another fantastic addition to this project, is that of Leslie Sisson (of Aero Wave, Western keys and also a known AmAnSet collaborator) on guitar and vocals, most notably in the track "Seven Seventeen." This record has an unobtrusive yet astonishing power, something hard to do and even harder to find. Luckily, we've done the finding for you. Enjoy.

For fans of: The American Analog Set, Western Keys, Aero Wave, Matt Pond PA


The Rise - Reclamation Process

One of my favorite albums, if you hate machines or believe they were going to take over the world. If you hate working your slave job.... If you like synths and hardcore...

THE RISEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE (and fuck ferret records for fucking this band over and treating them like shit)


Friday, December 4, 2009

The American Dollar - The American Dollar (2006)

Nowadays, the term "post-rock" merits one of two responses. The first response immediately being, "Oooooo! Sold!" The second response, quite the opposite of the first, is the person just rolling their eyes and scoffing. Both are acceptable responses, because while there are quite a few bands out there that bear that label who are very, very good, there are also imitation bands that do anything but flatter their idols. Also, releasing a 4 song album with all the tracks running upwards of ten minutes while playing the same three notes with a flange effect doesn't make you avant-garde or groundbreaking. Just sayin'. Okay, getting back to business... On this, their eponymous debut, The American Dollar take the ingredients that make post-rock so likeable and add a few spices of their own, resulting in the concoction of a wonderful musical soundscape, one that gives the listener a wave of nostalgic comfort and yet still presents and displays their own refreshing originality. On tracks like "Glow," they add a glitchiness reminiscent of Dntel's earlier work, while at the same time not overdoing it. The beauty of this record is the synchronicity of the melodies; everything compliments everything. A little reciprocity is nice every now and then, you know?

For fans of: Saxon Shore, This Is Your Captain Speaking, Explosions in the Sky


Thursday, December 3, 2009

mc chris - Apple Tummy (2009)

If you haven't been living under a rock in Utah, chances are you've watched the channel that plays nothing but cartoons after dark. If you're done that, chances are you've seen that show with the milkshake cup, the box of French fries and the ball of ground beef living on the Jersey shore or that one where all the people are living in the underwater laboratory. Now if you've done that, chances are that you know who mc chris is. If, like I mentioned before, you ARE from that place under the rock, then here's a present for you (the more seasoned mc chris fans will be pleased by this release as well). Produced by Andrew Futral (The Age of Rockets, The Robot Explosion), "Apple Tummy" consists of new recordings of some of his older songs, as well two covers, "Dare to Be Stupid" and "Punk Rock Academy" (original recordings by "Weird" Al Yankovic and Atom and His Package, respectively). Providing a fantastic mixture of intelligent rhymes with strikingly funny commentary, mc chris is a diamond in the rough in today's hip-hop world.

For fans of: Optimus Rhyme, Atom and His Package, The Age of Rockets


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Negro Problem - Joys and Concerns (1999)

Everyone always says that In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the most underrated album of the nineties, but let's face it. To quote a friend of mine, "Nothing gets indie kids wetter than Neutral Milk Hotel." People know that band and that album and love it, as well they should, but this record is REALLY the most underrated/overlooked one of the nineties. If you mention Neutral Milk Hotel to your neighborhood hipster, they'll start salivating, but mention this band, and they'll look at you funny and think you're a racist for saying the name aloud. On Joys and Concerns, the 2nd release under the Negro Problem moniker, songwriter Stew has really outdone himself (no small feat, mind you). These twelve tracks are split into two halves, the former being labeled "Joys" and the latter "Concerns." The record opens with "Repulsion (Show Up Late for Work on Monday)" and "Sea of Heat," both of which keep with the "Joys" theme of the first half and are delightfully catchy (the latter's horn section takes the listener back to the '70s for a brief moment) but are really just the prologue to the album's first of two bookend tracks, "Comikbuchland." "Mahnsanto" is, melody-wise, one of the most uplifting tracks, starting immediately from the opening lyrics. Commercially, the next song, "Bleed" is the most well known song (having been featured on both Scrubs and Weeds), containing the ever so vaguely familiar chorus, "Come down now, little one. Leave your place in the sun." The next song, "Peter Jennings," marks the beginning of the "Concerns" half of the album by stating, "So L.A.P.D., why'd you chase me? Didn't I have my blinker on? Didn't I say I love the law?" The apex of this half though, comes in the song "Ken," told from the view of the toy, who sings, "My name's Ken, and I like men. But the people at Mattel, the home that I call hell, are somewhat bothered by my queer proclivities. It's safe to say that they are really pissed at me. They always stick me with Barbie, but I want them to know I pray for G.I. Joe, but any able-bodied man-doll will surely do. Just someone to love since I am not set up to screw." "The Rain in Leimert Park Last Tuesday" is the second of the two bookend tracks, a reprise (of sorts) of "Comikbuchland." The closing track, "Come Down Now" is a perfect end to a perfect album, a vague echo of "Bleed," in which Stew sings, "Come down now, remove your bandage so I can see your damage..." Adam Duritz actually turned me on to these guys and I honestly can't thank him enough. With this release, Stew has cemented his status as one of the best lyricists/songwriters of this generation, and no, I'm not exaggerating.

For fans of: Stew, Counting Crows, The Decemberists


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Architecture in Helsinki - Fingers Crossed (2003)

This record is, quite simply, a joy to have in one's collection. If it were an occurrence in nature, it would be an aurora. The music seems to float above the very soundwaves it exists in. Every track is different, and yet they all seems to flow together seamlessly. A plethora of musical instruments partner up with an ever rotating cast of voices to create a spectrum of sound that is few and far between in today's music scene. Choice tracks include "Scissor Paper Rock," "The Owls Go" and "Souvenirs," but in my humble opinion, just start at the beginning and let it ride. It's a keeper.

For fans of: of Montreal, Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers - The Mother of Love Emulates the Shapes of Cynthia (2005)

I acquired this not too long after it was released and it is still one of my favorite records to this day. A splendid union of perfections and imperfections, "The Mother of Love Emulates the Shapes of Cynthia" houses astute and pensive lyrics that ride a highway of soft vocal melodies to a musical amalgamation of guitars both electric and acoustic, vibraphones, strings and even a drum machine here and there. The opening track, "The Eventual Intimate of So Much Nostalgia," is unassuming and calm at first, but by the time the listener knows what's going on, they're already down the rabbit hole and on to the next track, one of my personal favorites, "Concerning Lessons Learned by the Aliens." "Archaeopteryx" is a number filled with a fun amount of programmed elements, which leads into "Ammunition for a Bolt," a song delightfully reminiscent of The Faint's earlier work. "Above the Waves" contains one of my favorite lyrics, "We are the cavemen in the Garden of Eden. Frail, fucked up fossils - obsolete and useless. Now that we design our days, how will you stay above the waves?" If bands like Bright Eyes and Cursive are ingredients to the indie kid's starter kit, this album is for some of the more advanced pupils, but nevertheless remains a vital part of the record collection. And yes, their name IS a reference to The Big Lebowski, in case you were wondering.

For fans of: The Physics of Meaning, Belle and Sebastian, Eels, Now It's Overhead


Eels - Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)

Third time's the charm. Counting Crows did it with "This Desert Life," Death Cab for Cutie did it with "The Photo Album," and Eels did it with this album. After the malaise of its predecessor, "Electro-Shock Blues," which E recorded in the wake of both the diagnosis of cancer in his mother and the suicide of his sister, this record is a gust of something lighter and more upbeat. As E himself put it, "If 'Electro-Shock Blues' was the phone call in the middle of the night that the world doesn't want to answer, then 'Daisies of the Galaxy' is the hotel wake-up call that says your lovely breakfast is ready." The record opens with "Grace Kelly Blues," which alternates between the feel of a marching band's hymn and an optimism that only slide guitar, light drums and acoustic strumming can offer. The album does hit a somber moment though, in the track "It's a Motherfucker." The song, while beautiful and slow, wastes no time getting to the point in the opening line, "It's a motherfucker being here without you." The most famous track from "Daisies of the Galaxy" isn't actually part of the album at all, but is included as a bonus track. It's called "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," made famous, in part, to its inclusion in the film where the guy accidentally sends his girlfriend the tape of him having sex with the other girl so his friends pack up the car and drive halfway across the country to retrieve it. Yeah, that movie. The song lays amusing musings over an uplifting G, C, D progression whose optimism culminates in the chorus, which repeats, "Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day." Give this a listen and you know something? It will be.

MUSIC NERD MOMENT: The piano used on "It's a Motherfucker" is the same one used on Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" album.

For fans of: The Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse, Grandaddy


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers (2007)

There's an overpaid, overrated, shutter shades wearin', microphone stealin' (and most likely legally retarded) rapper out there who has somehow found it fit to brand himself with the title of "lyrical wordsmith." Laura Veirs should sue the pants off him, or at least deliver a swift uppercut and take back what's hers. On 2007's "Saltbreakers," Veirs lays meticulous eloquence down on a bed of swirling folky instrumentation. My personal favorite example of this is on the album's third track, "Drink Deep." She sings, "...and the fire closed his eyes, tipped his flame hat and slipped through the dire rye. We wandered romantic, we scattered dark branches with the singing green stars as our guide." Recurring themes of oceania and stars guide this record into the harbor in the ears of the listener and there it stays for a good long time.

For fans of: Madeline, The Decemberists, Jenny Lewis


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saves the Day - Stay What You Are (2001)

I know that nowadays, the term "good pop punk" is an oxymoron, but back in 2001 when second-wave emo was at its peak, this album was a pop-ridden addition to the neo-classics. Most memorable songs have an unforgettable opening riff that people recognize instantly. This record's opening track has an unforgettable opening NOTE. All one needs to do is pluck that D, and somewhere, ten kids will drop everything and sing, "This song will become the anthem of your underground..." The song, "At Your Funeral," is an upbeat ode to a friend that will no doubt one day soon be lost to drugs. Singer Chris Conley poses the question to the song's subject, "If I flooded out your house, do you think you'd make it out? Or would you burn up before the water filled your lungs?" The song ends with Conley repeating, "..and at your funeral I will sing the requiem. I'd offer you my hand, it would hurt too much to watch you die." On "See You," the chorus repeats, "'Cause I don't think that I have got the stomach to stomach calling you today," bringing in the teenage awkward of pop punk of the early decade that continues in the song "Freakish," where Chris croons, "Well here I am. I don't know how to say this. The only thing I know is awkward silence." This album reminds you that pop punk doesn't need a keytar, or shutter shades or Auto-Tune or a member whose instrument is listed as "programming."

For fans of: The Get Up Kids, Alkaline Trio, Midtown


Sean Hayes - Flowering Spade (2007)

If one were to cut into the arm of Music herself and take a look at what is flowing through her veins, one would find the same things that make up this record. Using this album, singer/songwriter Sean Hayes has reached a place that until hearing it, I didn't know existed. Hayes' vocals are a pleasant anomaly; unintrusive, yet lovingly disarming. Flighty harmonies accompany stand-up bass, blues-tinged folk guitar and light, brushed drums while accented by banjo, accordion and lots of other wonderful additions. On the opening track, "All for Love," Hayes sings to the object of his affection, "I'll be your monkey, I'll dance and sing. I'll be your fool, your lonely king." "Sufidrop," boasts a marriage of a banjo and hand claps that is undeniably delightful. The jazzy danciness found on "Hip Kids" is second to none. My favorite track hands down has to be "Elizabeth Sways." Finger picking a banjo, he croons, "When Elizabeth sways her hips, the whole world goes 'Mmmmmmmm'." I challenge anyone not to groove to that song. I've been wondering where this album has been all my life, but I'm not mad because now I have it and that's all that matters. Doesn't make sense, you say? Well, it's like Lester Burnham said, "You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure, but don't worry. You will someday." PROTIP: Someday will come sooner rather than later if you give this album a listen.

For fans of: Damien Rice, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, William Elliott Whitmore


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eulogies - Here Anonymous (2009)

The sound of this band is really an amalgamation of sounds. The vocals of Peter Walker are a quilt woven together from the fabrics that make up the voices of Win Butler and Alec Ounsworth, most notably in the track "Eyes on the Prize". The bass lines of Tim Hutton take a cue from Julian Koster and Nicholas Harmer, while Chris Reynolds and Drew Phillips' drum and guitar tracks show simliarities with Jason McGerr and Chris Walla, respectively. It's a shame that Tim Hutton parted ways with the band during the recording of this album. Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups makes a guest appearance on the track "Two Can Play," an airy duet in which the vocals roll over the bass line and light drums as fog rolls over a highway. This record was co-produced by Hrishikesh Hirway of The One AM Radio, and if this is the end result of just the sophomore effort, I can't wait to see what the future holds.

For fans of: Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Earlimart


Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Magnetic Fields - Get Lost (1995)

The best way to describe this record would be to compare it to the Pale Blue Dot. It is exceptionally lo-fi, but within its 39 minutes and 58 seconds of length dwells a vast and epic world of song. When interviewed by The Onion's AV Club in September 2005, alternative rock musician Bob Mould was reminded of an interviewer who once referred to him as "the most depressed man in rock," to which Mould responded, "He's never met Stephin Merritt, obviously." Mould couldn't be more correct. Merritt's lyrics on this album reach an unprecedented point in melancholia, which is further accentuated by the sounds that echo from the valleys within his bass vocal range. Amidst a waltz of watery guitar Merritt laments, "Arms have charms, but I've no hope of falling in love," during "With Whom to Dance?." "All the Umbrellas in London" is saturated with synth while Merritt bemoans, "All the umbrellas in London couldn't stop this pain, and all the dope in New York couldn't kill this pain." "Save a Secret for the Moon" has Stephin providing a commentary on a love that might not be acceptable by society's standards and muses, "When you love someone, you can't always tell the sun. It will be twilight soon, save a secret for the moon." That song is the closest thing that the album has to an upbeat track, and the synchronicity of Merritt and Claudia Gonson's vocals is something now revisited in bands like The Postal Service, where the vocals of Gibbard and Lewis work together swimmingly. On a coincidental sidenote, in 1999 under the "¡All-Time Quarterback!" moniker, Ben Gibbard released a cover of "Why I Cry," yet another downbeat gem found on this album. "Smoke and Mirrors" and "Love is Lighter Than Air" are also very, very noteworthy. This album makes its home among many top ten lists, and rightly so. Give credit where credit is due, and boy, is it due!

*** In 2008, this album was released in vinyl format for the first time. On this release, the track listing was altered and completely changes the scope of the record (in a very good way). In fact, I recommend arranging the track listing to match the vinyl format and then give it a listen. The vinyl release track listing is as follows:

1. With Whom to Dance?
2. Smoke and Mirrors
3. All the Umbrellas in London
4. Why I Cry
5. Save a Secret for the Moon
6. Don't Look Away
7. Love Is Lighter Than Air
8. Famous
9. The Desperate Things You Made Me Do
10. You and Me and the Moon
11. When You're Old and Lonely
12. The Village in the Morning
13. The Dreaming Moon

For fans of: Joy Division, The Human League, Future Bible Heroes


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are s/t

This is the soundtrack from the movie "Where the Wild Things Are." The music is by Karen O, and is accompanied by "The Kids," which consists of members from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deerhunter, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs and a kid's choir. A great thing about this album, aside from actually using audio clips from the movie, doesn't really feel much like a soundtrack. I certainly suggest you check out this album.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Florence + the Machine - Lungs (2009)

I was completely blown away by this record. Like, REALLY blown away. Compared to this album, that twister at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz was just a cool breeze. No joke. "Lungs" is the debut album of London-born singer Florence Welch and her band of noisemakers playfully dubbed "The Machine." To say that Welch merely sings would be like saying that the Atlantic Ocean is just some puddle. She manipulates melody into a highway on which a cavalcade of emotions commute from her mouth to the listener's ears. Suffice it to say, this ain't no silly pop record. I'm going to come right out and say that this is hands down, one of the best albums of 2009. Bold statement, you say? Well don't take my word for it. See for yourself.

For fans of: Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor, Sufjan Stevens


Hot Club de Paris - Drop It 'til It Pops (2006)

This experimental math-rock trio from across the pond is just what the doctor ordered. These guys make no intention of hiding their influences, as they take the heart's delight of sweater-wearing, bearded indie kids and put their own Liverpudlian spin on it. On this, their debut record, they exhibit a powerhouse display of interweaving melodies and harmonies, fluid riffs that pack notes into a measure like a clowns into a car and sing-along chants and yells for audience participation. Sounds like fun for the whole family, yeah? Fuckin' a, yeah.

For fans of: Owls, This Town Needs Guns, Born Ruffians, American Football

***The band has requested that we remove the download link, and out of respect to them, we have done exactly that. We can however, direct you to their MySpace profile where several tracks are available for your streaming pleasure. If you like what you hear, buy the record!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Styrofoam - Nothing's Lost (2004)

On May 5th, 2007, Ben Gibbard, lead singer of Seattle band Death Cab for Cutie played a solo show at The 9:30 Club in our nation's capital. At one point in the set, he spoke of how a few years back, he collaborated with a guy named Arne, and proceeded to perform a song which he described as "an open letter." Intrigued by the lyrics, I went home and looked them up. The aforementioned "Arne" was in fact Arne Van Petegem, a Belgian electronic musician otherwise known as Styrofoam. The "open letter" was the song "Couches in Alleys," a song from Styrofoam's album "Nothing's Lost" the subject said song is one of Gibbard's biggest influences, Jack Kerouac. In it, Gibbard opens with, "Hey Jack, it's me. I don't mean to bother you, but something's been on my mind," and confides in the late author, "I know your demise, and I fear what will happen when the road fails to flow under me." The lyrics, while soul-baring and vulnerably honest, are really only words (poetic as they are), which do not become a proper song until merged with the indietronic bliss of Van Petegem's music. This album, which features other wonderful guest vocalists such as Andrew Kenny (The American Analog Set, The Wooden Birds), Valerie Trebeljahr (Lali Puna) on the tracks "Front to Back" and "Misguided," respectively, is a glitchy, harmony-filled, synth-laden delight. It should be noted however, that its title is a bit misleading. You see, the name of the record is "Nothing's Lost," but this simply isn't true, as it is the listener who becomes lost in the rush of sound that comes billowing forth from this 2004 release.

For fans of: Dntel, Telefon Tel Aviv, The Postal Service


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy (1997)

If I had to liken this record to anything, it would be a gourmet pizza. Cut into eight slices, each of them with different topping, but each as delectable as the last. "Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)" is one of Richard D. James' (more commonly known as Aphex Twin, among other monikers) most widely known songs. The next track, "Flim" is actually one of my favourite songs of all time (Personally, when I listen to it, I imagine different shades of the colour blue. Give it a listen. Post what you think of when you hear the track in the comment section below.) The album also includes "Come to Daddy (Mummy Mix)" and "Come to Daddy (Little Lord Fauntleroy Mix)," neither of which sound anything like the Pappy Mix. "Bucephalus Bouncing Ball" is also very noteworthy. Don't mind the rude requests of the voice at the end of "Funny Little Man," he's harmless. "IZ-US" rounds out the EP with jazz style drums and mellow synth. This album changed music for me back in high school, it could do the same for you, maybe? Only one way to find out...

For fans of: Squarepusher, Dntel, Boards of Canada


Madeline - White Flag (2009)

I’d been highly anticipating this album, and I gotta say, it was well worth the wait. I’ve been a fan of Madeline since 2006’s “Kissing and Dancing” and she doesn’t disappoint. The album opens with “Sorry,” a tale of a relationship failed, and the listener is captivated by the slow and steady river of melody. The albums folkier tracks, “Telephone Daydream” and “This Train” are a lot of fun. One feels like they’re in a saloon in one of those old-timey pictures. Lyrically, my favorite track is the subtle, yet dancy number “You Can’t Break My Heart” which has its home near the end of the record. Proud and defiant, she tells the subject of the song, “You can’t break my heart, because it’s made of wires, glass and little icicles. These are not tears I cry. No, darling, I have champagne flowing from my spectacles.” The electric piano in the penultimate track, “Dirty South (Tie One On)” is pleasantly reminiscent of material off of The American Analog Set’s classic record, “Know by Heart.” Do you, per chance, like female vocalists whose material is unsullied by the excretions of today’s mainstream? Then this album is for you.

For fans of: Feist, Jenny Lewis, Maria Taylor


De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

This is one of the the definitive albums of the Golden Age of hip hop (for those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, the Golden Age of hip hop took place from 1986 to 1992, so named because, as Rolling Stone put it, "...every new single reinvented the genre."). It's also of one the greatest debut albums of all time. You know what? I'm just going to come out and say that this is one of the greatest records of all time. Produced by Prince Paul, this album contains the group's most famous single, "Me Myself and I," along with pure gold in tracks like "The Magic Number" (anyone who ever watched Schoolhouse Rock as a kid will love that one), "Ghetto Thang," "Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)," "Eye Know" and "Tread Water," as well as fun little numbers like "Take It Off" and "Can U Keep a Secret." Bottom line? If you feed this to your stereo, it will love you forever.

For fans of: Handsome Boy Modeling School, A Tribe Called Quest, Gorillaz


Damon & Naomi - The Earth Is Blue (2005)

This record has been sitting in my collection for a while and until recently I'd forgotten why I bought it. This album is something that one takes off of work so they can drive 3 hours to the coast to jump in and swim around in. The opening track, "Beautiful Close Double" sets the mood and all of a sudden the listener is lying on their back, floating on the surface of this record to where its current takes them. One feels a wave of familiarity along with the refreshing cool of something new during the sixth track, a cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Come on in, the water's fine.

For fans of: Azure Ray, Lavender Diamond, Now It's Overhead


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks (2008)

The Submarines have a rather enchanting history. Members John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard were romantically involved at one point. Then they broke up. While apart, both of them starting writing quite a bit of music. Later on, when they started speaking again, they traded songs and realized that they'd both written all their music about the other. They subsequently married and formed The Submarines. Their 2008 release, "Honeysuckle Weeks," is lighter in tone then their 2006 debut, "Declare a New State!," and there are no complaints. Several songs from this album might be recognized from their appearances in media today. "Xavia" was featured on the soundtrack to "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," and "You Me & the Bourgeoisie" is in a commercial for a very expensive phone made by a very big computer company. My personal favorite though, has to be the track, "Swimming Pool," in which Hazard sweetly sings, "When you kiss me in ways I've forgotten, love is a swimming pool with no bottom."

For fans of: Mates of State, Stars, Sleepy Rebels


Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets (2004)

"Shake the Sheets," the fourth studio album and final release on the Lookout! label from Washington D.C. indie royalty Ted Leo and the Pharmacists is nearly forty minutes of upbeat, emotional genius. Leo's really outdid himself this time on the follow-up to 2003's "Hearts of Oak," and he shows no signs of slowing down. Before every chorus in the record's opening track, "Me and Mia," Leo cries, "Do you believe in something beautiful? THEN GET UP AND BE IT!!" The song (and the whole album, for that matter) has many levels, including one part where he remarks, "You're dying for a cause, but that don't make it yours." Other choice tracks on the album are "The Angels' Share," "Little Dawn," and "Heart Problems."

For fans of: The Thermals, The Dismemberment Plan, Death Cab for Cutie


The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good (1997)

Something magical always seems to happen when a musical venture of Davey von Bohlen's releases a second album. This album is widely regarded as The Promise Ring's definitive effort, as later releases like "Very Emergency" and "wood/water" would focus more on a pop sound and less towards the second wave emo sound they'd become so known for. The band's video for "Why Did We Ever Meet?" actually graced the airwaves and was shown on MTV for a bit. After listening to this record, one might catch oneself humming the bars to the album's opening track, "Is This Thing On?" at random. This will then be immediately followed by a smile and putting the record on for another go around.

For fans of: Braid, Texas Is the Reason, Sunny Day Real Estate


Maritime - We, the Vehicles (2006)

After the dissolution of The Promise Ring, Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier made some music together for a time under the name Vermont, before starting this band. Maritime's sophomore effort, "We, the Vehicles" is the showcase of the band finally coming into it's own, finding a comfortable sound and running with it. This record marks the prodigal return of an upbeat sound, not heard from Davey and Dan since The Promise Ring's penultimate album, "Very Emergency." The sound of this band differs from The Promise Ring, it's more polished, more mature, but older fans can still hear things they loved about the older stuff shine through. Notable tracks include "Tearing Up the Oxygen" and "Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts!."

For fans of: Make Believe, The Promise Ring, Joan of Arc


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bipolaroid - E(i)ther Or (2008)

When original Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett passed away a few years back, his spirit never left this plane. Instead, it set up shop in the body of a man from New Orleans named Ben Glover and started this band. Ben's singing and playing, but good old Syd is the one holding the strings. This record has the musical togetherness of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," but still has times when it goes off its hinges in the style of "The Madcap Laughs" or "Barrett." My favorite track on the album has got to be "Jane Jubilee." In the mood for something new that reminds you a bit of the old? Look no further.

For fans of: Pink Floyd (the first two records), The Kinks, The Velvet Underground


Brittle Stars - Brittle Stars (1999)

Like so many bands/artists throughout history, these Gainesville natives are getting a lot of post mortem praise. I myself only found this album about 2 months ago and I fell head over heels for it. It's light, yet emotional. It's upbeat, yet soothing. It's awesome, yet even more awesome. Do not miss this. Notable tracks include, but are not limited to "Tripping Me Up," "So Unfair" and "You Went in Phases."

For fans of: Look Blue Go Purple, Baby Calendar, Elephant Parade, Asobi Seksu


Savoir Adore - The Adventures of Mr. Pumpernickel and the Girl With Animals in Her Throat (2008)

This record is just fantastic. It's a bit of a concept album in that it tells a story, but the story does not go from beginning to end in one telling, or even using only words. Some of the story is told in melody, and every now and again words will come to bridge the different pieces of music together. I like that, because it means the story is never told the same way twice, nor does it mean the same thing to every person who hears it. Soundscapes and synth all around! Who's hungry?

For fans of: Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Los Campesinos!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Alright, I think we let you guys catch up enough on everything. Here's the new Owen album, and if you like old Owen, you'll probably like this one too.

For Fans of: Andrew Kenny, American Football, Owls


Monday, August 31, 2009

Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Hush

Holy fuck this rules. Progressive Post-Jazz. This is a 10 person group that will make you feel shitty for writing that embarrassing 4/4 song in 11th grade about some girl who didn't want to fuck you cause you couldn't throw a ball. They are about as good as you can be at this completely unique/complex sound. So good it hurts.

For Fans Of: Mouse On The Keys, Bluebridge Quartet, Amazing Music


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sleepy Sun- Sleepy Son [EP] (2009)

This Sleepy Sun album is fantastic. The songs are both 7+ minutes long and are filled with great riffs and eerie vocals.

For Fans of: Black Mountain, The Decemberists


Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister (1996)

Number 14 in Pitchfork's list of the top 100 albums of the 1990s, it's been said that this marks the high point in Belle and Sebastian's career. While that is completely and utterly untrue (I actually liked "The Boy With the Arab Strap" and will forever have a soft spot for "Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant"), if you look at Belle and Sebastian from a Tralfamadorian perspective, it's one of the spots that shines the brightest. Stuart Murdoch, the band's leader, says that in his opinion, this is the best collection of songs he's ever written (in other words "If You're Feeling Sinister" : Belle and Sebastian :: "The Photo Album" : Death Cab for Cutie). My personal favorite track is "Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying," in which Murdoch quips, "Nobody writes them like they used to, so it may as well be me," and goes on to cheer for the success of the boy inflicted with naïveté. This record isn't the Big Bang; it's the serene and calm right before hand. After this album, something happened and new and different things began popping up in the band's career, manifesting in subsequent albums. Murdoch's also said that he isn't completely happy with the album's recording quality, and in response to that (and any complaints about low recording quality in general), I offer three words: Something. About. Airplanes.

For fans of: Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brand New - Daisy (2009)

Yeah, it's real... Yeah, it's low quality... but who cares, NEW BRAND NEW! If you need a description or don't know who this band is, this prob. isn't the blog for you.

I haven't heard it yet but people are saying it's "weirder" than before and not like modest mouse (which is kind of what the single sounded like) -- here... we... go...


Friday, August 28, 2009

The American Analog Set - Know by Heart (2001)

"Know by Heart" is the fourth studio album by The American Analog Set and is considered by many to be their crowning achievement. It contains two of the band's most famous tracks, "Punk as Fuck" (which actually contains no profanity at all, moms and dads) and "Choir Vandals." Track 4, "The Postman," contains backing vocals by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service fame. Funnily enough, Gibbard covered the song "Choir Vandals" on volume five of Post-Parlo's "Home" series, which is a split EP with The American Analog Set's own Andrew Kenny. Other notable tracks include "Gone to Earth," "Aaron and Maria," and "Million Young."

For fans of: The Wooden Birds, Broken Social Scene, Kings of Convenience


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cassettes Won't Listen - Small-Time Machine (2008)

This album is perfect for one in the mood for light, airy synthpop. The one-man indietronic project of Jason Drake, Cassettes Won't Listen, in addition to releasing his own music, he's done remixes for artists like Aesop Rock, Morcheeba, RJD2, Asobi Seksu and many more. This record lifts you up and puts you on a synthesized cloud with the help of songs like, "Freeze and Explode." It's pretty comfortable on that cloud, give it a shot.

For fans of: Ladytron, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Au Revoir Simone


Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass (2007)

Crank this up, kid! Aesop Rock's fifth studio album is his best work yet. This New York based rapper speaks out against "American nonsense penned by the rich" in his signature stream-of-consciousness style. The Michael Stipe of the hip-hop world, his lyrics are oceanic, deep and connecting many different worlds and places, yet it's not so easy see to the bottom at first glance. No superficiality here (Sorry, Kanye). Keep an ear open for the record's closing track, "Coffee," which features a guest appearance by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

For fans of: Immortal Technique, The Roots, Common


Norma Jean - Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child (2002)

This record contains absolutely nothing but raw, pounding awesome (recorded entirely without the use of computers, no less). Norma Jean's 2002 debut came hard, fast and with swift vengeance. I completely understand why vocalist Josh Scogin (who is unmistakably one of the most recognized voices in hardcore today) left after the recording of this album to start The Chariot. There simply wasn't anything all the members could've done together that could ever again reach this level of awesome. The album's most famous track is no doubt "Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste," which features an amazing guest vocal appearance at the end by mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss. Raw, unrelenting and unapologetic, this is definitely one of the albums you keep when your record collection gets split up in your divorce.

For fans of: The Chariot, mewithoutYou, Botch


The Bled - Pass the Flask (2003)

This one goes to eleven. It is perfection, an 11/11 amongst mathcore records, and records in general. When listening to it, one doesn't need to skip tracks, it plays seamlessly and beautifully the whole way through. If I had to pick my favorite tracks, they'd have to be "I Never Met Another Gemini" (awesome intro into face melting) "Ruth Buzzi Better Watch Her Back" (there's no hope in saving your face) and "Porcelain Hearts and Hammers for Teeth" (aww, it's sweet and loving, wait no, there's that darn face meltage again). An honorable mention is the breakdown during "Red Wedding" (YOU WILL PAY THE PRICE!!!!!). Musically, it's amazing and lyrically, it's not too shabby either. Whether it's the angst-ridden chant of, "Let's set our hearts at self-destruct" at the end of "You Know Who's Seatbelt" or the self-sacrifice of "I'd burn alive to keep you warm when you're alone" in "Porcelain Hearts and Hammers for Teeth," this album never lets you down.

For fans of: Alexisonfire, Vanna, As I Lay Dying