Friday, February 26, 2010

Watercolor Paintings - Open Your Mouth (2009)

Released in 2009 by sibling duo (don't confuse them as husband and wife, they'll ruin your weekend) Rebecca and Josh Redman, Open Your Mouth is ten songs chock full o' indie folk goodness. Rebecca acts as the primary songwriter as well as lead vocals and harp and Josh does some vocals while playing one hell of a baritone ukelele. With songs like "Indiana" and "Telephone Wires," this record is yet further proof that you don't have to be overly complex musically or have some juggernaut studio equipment to put out a great record.

For fans of: Elephant Parade, Kate Micucci, Erin Tobey

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Knockdown - Test/Retest (2009)

I've said it once, I'll say it again: Pop punk doesn't have to suck. These guys haven't forgotten that. The first (and only) full-length release from Oneonta, NY punk outfit The Knockdown, Test/Retest is ten tracks of raw, heartfelt emotion filled with gang vocals, power chords and zero bullshit. This album went in the direction of the road not taken (at least anymore in today's pop punk scene), the road that steered clear of whining, guyliner and Pete Wentz. With vocals pleasantly reminiscent of John Nolan and Chuck Ragan, the balls to back up the right to wear that crown and songs like "Shit Went Down in the Italian Kitchen," "Squirrelaholic" and "It Never Goes Anywhere!," this album is a definite must-have to be kept next to your vinyl copy of "Through Being Cool."

For fans of: Hot Water Music, The Gaslight Anthem, Four Year Strong


The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower - Dissertation, Honey

Punk and Jazz meet on this legendary album. Art rock at it's best - groovy, punk, heavy and emotional- it's a roller coaster. This is one of my personal favs, I think everyone should check them out!

For fans of: Blood Brothers, Blue Bridge Quartet, Death From Above 1979


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Focus Group - Hey Let Loose Your Love (2005)

The second release by Julian House under the name The Focus Group, Hey Let Loose Your Love is a mini-album (the longest track clocks in at 2:19) that's not so mini after all. Taking a cue from documentary and library films of the '70s, this record blends samples, clips, random instruments and ambiance to make a sound collage that is interesting to say the least. Nostalgia and happenstance are quilted together to make something that will stimulate the listener's brain and then some.

For fans of: Belbury Poly, Secret Mommy, Boards of Canada


Friday, February 19, 2010

The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea (2006)

This record is fan-fucking-tastic. Playful guitars, haphazard beats, enchanting vocals, baskmasking, synths... This album has it all. The fifth full-length album from Brooklyn's The Fiery Furnaces, Bitter Tea is one of their greatest efforts thus far. Dancing around the nucleus of sibling duo Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, this band presents the listener with something new on each release. This release just so happens to present the listener with a bucketful of awesome. Choice tracks include, but are in no way limited to "In My Little Thatched Hut," "Black-Hearted Boy" and "Bitter Tea."

For fans of: Deerhoof, Regina Spektor, Half-Handed Cloud


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teen Heat - A Crime In Our City EP

If you are going to SXSW this year you should check out teen heat. An awesome blend of electronic instruments and pop punk melodies. Great lyrics, really good quality (by famed Fueled By Ramen producer Scott Riebling) and catchy as hell. This comes with a remix by infamous french dj Toxic Avenger too, which is really badass. If you haven't you really need to download and listen...

For Fans Of: Taking Back Sunday, Breathe Electric, Justice, InnerPartySystem


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band - Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward (2001)

2001 was a year of changes. After the release of their critically acclaimed debut, He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms, A Silver Mt. Zion expanded their lineup from three to six members, and expanded their name to The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band. Retaining the somber influence of both earlier GY!BE releases and the new sound created in their first album and adds something completely new to the mix, both dreadfully obvious on some parts and also gently subtle on other parts of the record. The combination of spoken word and slow, ambient melody reach a peak on the track "Built Then Burnt [Hurrah! Hurrah!]" when the childish voice reminiscent of an old Adventures in Odyssey radio program exclaims, "So tangle, oh tangle us up in bright red ribbons! Let's have a parade! It's been so long since we've had a parade... Let's invite all our friends and all our friends' friends! Let's promenade down the boulevards with terrific pride and light in our eyes! Twelve feet tall and staggering, sick with joy with the angels there and light in our eyes!" This one's sure to stir up something inside you, just you listen and see.

For fans of: Fly Pan Am, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Johnnytwentythree


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Strictly Ballroom - Hide Here Forever (1997)

Released in 1997 on the Waxploitation label, Hide Here Forever is the only album recorded by California emocore outfit Strictly Ballroom. It's eight songs that capture a sound that is all but lost in today's music scene. This band has gained a lot of posthumous attention due to the fact that their bass player is none other than Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel/Figurine/The Postal Service fame. Choice tracks include "Crickets," "Knots on a Counting Rope," and "A Sudden Interest in Nature."

For fans of: Sunny Day Real Estate, Braid, Snowing


Monday, February 8, 2010

AM/FM - Getting into Sinking (2001)

This is a really great record by a really great and now defunct band, and yet they still don't get all the respect they deserve. Their second release, Getting into Sinking is hazier and more atramentous than AM/FM's first album, Mutilate Us. This album houses fuzz and horns reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel mixed with Beach Boys/Apples in Stereo ringing harmonies, and topped off with Joan of Arc guitar work and layers...and that's just the tip of the iceberg. This band's list of influences is as long as the horizon, and it certainly shows. With song titles like "If We Burned All the Assholes the Earth Would Look Like the Sun," "Virgins! Virgins!," and "I Was Never Here Two Seconds Ago," this one's not to be overlooked.

For fans of: Joan of Arc, Audible, Modest Mouse


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tom Caruana - Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers (2010)

Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse. Wu-Tang Clan and... The Beatles?! Yes, you read right. Not so much a collaboration as it is a mashup, Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers is a work of pure brilliance that holds street cred on both fronts. Oasis ain't got shit on Wu-Tang Clan, and The Beatles ain't nuthin' to fuck wit'.

For fans of: Girl Talk, Tor and Sufjan Stevens, Jaydiohead


Secret Mommy - Plays (2007)

This album spent over a year being made, and it definitely shows. Every glitch, every sample, every second is precise and deliberate. Plays is the fourth full-length from Canada's Secret Mommy and it's the best one yet. During the first time 'round, the listener's brain will ask itself, "What the HELL is going on?" But then it'll wise-up and say, "Oh... Now I get it... Oh wait, there's more!" This record is special, every time it's given a listen, the brain finds something new inside it. Choice tracks include "Grand About the Mouth" and "Kool Aid River." Buy the ticket, take the ride. When everything starts tasting purple, you've hit the spot.

For fans of: Boards of Canada, DAT Politics, Gangpol und Mit


Mobius Band - Heaven (2007)

Heaven is the 2007 full-length release from Brooklyn-based electronic rock trio Mobius Band. After 2005's The Loving Sounds of Static, which focused heavily on the disillusionment that comes with age, they moved on to this record, which still carries an air of disappointment, but has also shown definite signs of maturity. Songs like "Hallie" and "Friends Like These" show discontent for situations like asymmetrical relationships with both lovers and friends respectively. There might not be a shining beacon at the end of the tunnel, but there's definitely a laser light show.

For fans of: The Broken West, Cassettes Won't Listen, The Notwist


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guru - Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 (1993)

The first release of the Jazzmatazz series, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 is a live album with Guru (of Gang Starr fame) on vocals, backed by a live jazz ensemble. Described on the cover as, "an experimental fusion of hip hop and jazz," this album was and still is a fresh innovation in the hip hop world. The listener feels like they're actually in the room where it's being recorded, they can almost smell the smoky haze found in the dark jazz clubs of the big cities. In short, this album is not to be overlooked.

For fans of: Gang Starr, Jeru the Damaja, MF DOOM


Lou Barlow - Emoh (2005)

Released in 2005, Emoh is the first solo release from Dinosaur Jr. bass player and Sebadoh/The Folk Implosion frontman Lou Barlow. Upon its release, it received favourable comparisons to folk legend Nick Drake, and those comparisons aren't too far off course. The album's fourteen tracks convey a melancholy that is both pleasing to the ear and forthright in its introspection. Songs from early Sebadoh releases hinted at something in this direction, but this is the first time that Barlow actually put all his effort into it and the result is really quite something. It should be noted that the album's title has nothing to do with its homophone "emo." In fact, it is simply the backwards spelling of the record's second track, "Home."

For fans of: Nick Drake, Red House Painters, Elliott Smith


The Speed of Sound in Seawater - Blue Version (2009)

California's The Speed of Sound in Seawater released this EP last year, and it's pretty awesome as far as EPs go. With vocals reminiscent of a younger Placebo mixed with a little Metroid and a dash of 2 O'Clock Girlfriend and all the jazzy doodle-oos of bands like Cats and Cats and Cats and Algernon Cadwallader, these guys are headed for greatness in the very near future. Choice tracks include "The Scariest Room in the House" and "Amy Adams."

For fans of: This Town Needs Guns, Cats and Cats and Cats, Meet Me in St. Louis


Monday, February 1, 2010

Modest Mouse - Baron von Bullshit Rides Again (2004)

Recorded on February 14 and 15, 2004, Baron von Bullshit Rides Again is the first and only live album released by Issaquah indie royalty Modest Mouse. It's a pretty good variety of songs originally released on earlier records, and contains one of the best quotes from lead singer Issac Brock ever to be said aloud on stage. After the band played their fifth song of the night, "Paper Thin Walls," an audience member heckled them and yelled, "FREE BIRD!" In response, Issac said this, "I know I've said this before; the odds of us actually playing 'Free Bird' are...there ARE no odds. It is not going to happen. I'll start with the first reason: we have NO idea how to play 'Free Bird.' The second reason is: in the lovebug's natural habitat, hearing that would just fucking kill him, wouldn't it? You wouldn't want that, right? He's adorable. He is cute. Thirdly: Even if some, like, pick your deity, whoever, came down from the heavens or the hills or wherever your deity lives, and just blessed us with this vast knowledge of 'Free Bird' and things, and we could play it backwards, sing backwards, we could do all that crazy shit, we still just wouldn't do it. If this were the Make-a-Wish Foundation and you were gonna die in 20 minutes, just long enough to play 'Free Bird,' we still wouldn't play it. And here's the end reason, the end reason is that life is just too fuckin' short to play or hear 'Free Bird.'" Issac: 1, Asinine Audience Member: 0.

For fans of: Ugly Casanova, Built to Spill, Pavement