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