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!