Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Releases: February 2010

Round up of the most interesting albums and singles released in February 2010 plus links to videos and free & legal mp3s:


YEASAYER - Odd Blood (mp3)
THE SOFT PACK - The Soft Pack (mp3)
QUASI - American Gong (mp3)
MOON DUO - Escape
SHEARWATER - The Golden Archipelago (mp3)
JOANNA NEWSOM - Have One On Me (stream)
HOT CHIP - One Life Stand
THE KNIFE - Tomorrow, In A Year (stream/mp3)
TORO Y MOI - Causers of This (video)
XIU XIU - Dear God, I Hate Myself (mp3)
ROBERT POLLARD - We All Got Out of the Army
HOLLY MIRANDA - The Magician's Private Library (mp3)
GIL SCOTT-HERON - I'm New Here (stream)
THE ALBUM LEAF - A Chorus of Storytellers (mp3)
THE WATSON TWINS - Talking to You, Talking to Me
FIELD MUSIC - Measure (mp3)
BABYBIRD - Ex-Maniac
LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION - Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You (video)
PANTHA DU PRINCE - Black Noise (mp3)
SHOUT OUT LOUDS - Work (mp3)
K-OS - Yes!
PHANTOGRAM - Eyelid Movies (mp3)
EFTERKLANG - Magic Chairs (video)
THE ANTENNAS - The Antennas (video)
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture 09
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Casual Victim Pile (mp3s)


- Jail La La (mp3)
BLOOD RED SHOES - Light It Up (video)
LOS CAMPESINOS! - Romance Is Boring (video)
THE SOFT PACK - C'mon (video)
YEAH YEAH YEAHS - Skeletons (video)
TUNE-YARDS - Real Live Flesh (video)
GIRLS - Morning Light (video)
JOHNNY FOREIGNER - Every Cloakroom Ever
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB - Evening/Morning (video)
OPERATOR PLEASE - Logic (video)
EGYPTIAN HIP HOP - Wild Human Child / Heavenly
MOONFACE - Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums (mp3)
GIL SCOTT-HERON - Me And The Devil (video)
FIELD MUSIC - Them That Do Nothing (video)
ELLIE GOULDING - Starry Eyed (video)
MARINA & THE DIAMONDS - Hollywood (video)
COURTEENERS - You Overdid It Doll (video)
THE MACCABEES featuring ROOTS MANUVA - Empty Vessels (video)
ALKALINE TRIO - This Addiction (video)
HOT CLUB DE PARIS - With Days Like This As Cheap As Chewing Gum, Why Would Anyone Want To Work?

Recommended mp3 downloads:

Japandroids - Art Czars
Broken Social Scene - World Sick
The New Pornographers - Your Hands (Together)
The Secret Machines - Like I Can
Wooden Shjips - I Hear the Vibrations (E-Z version)
Serena-Maneesh - I Just Want To See Your Face
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - The Mighty Sparrow
Vampire Weekend - Ruby Soho
Archie Bronson Outfit - Shark's Tooth
UNKLE feat. The Black Angels - Natural Selection
Gonjasufi - Ancestors
Flying Lotus - Quakes
Kate Nash - I Just Love You More
Vivian Girls - He's Gone
Glasser - Tremel

Louisiana rock'n'rollers Research Turtles are offering their entire self-titled debut album for free download at their new site.

Singles of the Month
: We have already talked about Dum Dum Girls and their excellent single "Jail La La" in a previous post. Here's the videos for the two other rockin' singles that make up our Top 3 for this month:

Blood Red Shoes - Light It Up

Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vintage Tracks 2: Death Valley '69

For the second installment of Vintage Tracks, the monthly, almost autobiographical series of posts where we present some of our all-time favorite tracks, we have "Death Valley '69", the 1985 single where Sonic Youth teamed up with Lydia Lunch to create a truly blood-chilling musical experience. It's also the closing track of "Bad Moon Rising", Sonic Youth's third album, and their first song to be accompanied by a video. Hearing this track on the radio was my first introduction to Sonic Youth, one of those rare moments where, after the initial shock, you realize that you've discovered something unique and special. So, although "Bad Moon Rising" is not my favorite Sonic Youth album (that would unsurprisingly be "Daydream Nation"), its final track gets the credit for creating the moment of revelation that made me a life-long fan of the band and it's their first to be inducted in our Vintage Tracks Hall Of Fame:

Sonic Youth with Lydia Lunch - Death Valley '69

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Killer Tracks: Jail La La by Dum Dum Girls

"Jail La La" was my introduction to the blissful noisepop of Dum Dum Girls and it's been steadily growing on me ever since I first stumbled upon it here, to the point of becoming an obsession. So, before clicking and downloading the free mp3 of the track for yourself, you should seriously take into consideration its highly addictive nature and the very real possibility of developing a Dum Dum Girls habit. The track was released this week as 7" single on Sub Pop with a cover of The Rolling Stones "Play With Fire" as the B-side. Those who crave for more of their Ramones-meets-Ronettes sound should wait until the end of March when Sub Pop is releasing their debut LP "I Will Be". Here's a live performance of "Jail La La" from a gig at the Middle East in Boston:

Dum Dum Girls - Jail La La, live in Boston

And here's a bit of information about the band that I've managed to piece together from various sources. Dum Dum Girls is the LA-based project of just one girl going by the stage name of Dee Dee. According to rumors that I cannot confirm or deny, Dee Dee's real name is Kristin Gundred and used to be the singer-drummer of San Diego band Grand Ole Party. The band released its only album "Humanimals" in 2007, which was produced by Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennette. Dee Dee has also collaborated with Blank Dogs, recording together as The Mayfair Set. Dum Dum Girls played one of their first ever live shows in the summer of 2009 with a line-up that included Mike Sniper (Blank Dogs) on bass, Frankie Rose (Crystal Stilts) on drums, and Brandon Welchez (Crocodiles) on guitar, who's Dee Dee's husband and her collaborator on the duet "Blank Girl". The current line-up of the band, which took shape just in time for CMJ 2009, includes Frankie Rose, Jules and Bambi, while their moniker is a tribute to The Vaselines and The Stooges.

To help us get through our Dum Dum Girls cravings until March 30th, when their Richard Gottehrer-produced and Nick Zinner-featuring debut album drops, there's the recent "Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 09" compilation that includes their track "Longhair" (along with several other equally addictive indiepop gems) and this page here where you can download the tracks "It Only Takes One Nite", "Catholicked" and "Baby Don't Go".

For more info go to: Dum Dum Girls website, MySpace or Sub Pop page.

Here's where the first part of their name comes from:

The Vaselines - Dum Dum

Friday, February 12, 2010

St. Vincent & Tune-Yards videos

St. Vincent, Annie Clark's band whose fine second album "Actor" is part of our January playlist, has recently made an appearance on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Here's a clip of "The Strangers" from that performance which you can watch in its entirety here.

St. Vincent - The Strangers live on KCRW

And this is the new video for "Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood":

St. Vincent - Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood

Tune-Yards, Merrill Garbus' solo project and St. Vincent's 4AD label-mate, is also on constant rotation lately with last year's lo-fi gem "Bird-Brains" and new single "Real Live Flesh". Here's the first ever official Tune-Yards video:

tUnE-yArDs - Real Live Flesh

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Listening Habits 01.2010

The list of our favorite albums for January 2010 includes some brand new releases (Spoon, Vampire Weekend, These New Puritans, Beach House, Midlake) as well as several LPs from last year that we finally got around to listening to.

Two of the January releases have already reached a wide audience, breaking into the top positions of the Billboard albums chart. Vampire Weekend’s debut at number one with "Contra" was followed a week later by the success of Spoon’s "Transference" that reached number four, the highest chart placing ever for both bands. Their commercial success becomes even more significant if we take into consideration that both of them are signed to independent labels (XL and Merge, respectively), while their distinctive sound is far from what is considered commercial these days.

"Transference" builds on the commercial and artistic success of its predecessor, the excellent "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga". Britt Daniel and his band don’t attempt any reinventions or fancy new tricks for their seventh album. They stick to good ol’ fashioned solid songwriting and fervent delivery, keeping it simple and straight to the point. The immediacy and power of tracks like "Written In Reverse", "Got Nuffin'" (the singles) or "The Mystery Zone" and "I Saw The Light" prove that less is more and help Spoon maintain their status as one of America's best indie rock acts. The only thing that I cannot comprehend is why this band has not enjoyed a similar level of success in Europe yet, where they seem to remain a well kept secret. Here you can watch the brand new video for our Track of the Month "Written In Reverse".

"Contra", Vampire Weekend’s "difficult" second album, has retained all the elements that give their sound its unique identity, while adding new elements to their sonic palette. In "Giving Up The Gun", one of the album’s highlights, the power-pop melody is combined with a dance club beat creating a post-modern new wave hit, while in "Diplomat's Son" M.I.A.’s vocal samples and sharp reggae rhythms coexist with sweet orchestral melodies. The breakneck pace of first single "Cousins" proves that the band has studied punk well and knows how to successfully combine it with ska, avoiding the pitfalls of this hybrid. Overall "Contra" proves to be more varied and self-assured than their debut and while afro-pop melodies and punk energy remain the main ingredients of their sound, here they have seamlessly integrated new and so far unexplored influences, keeping their music fresh and winning over once again the critics' and fans' approval.

"Hidden", the sophomore effort by These New Puritans, demonstrates the young band’s towering ambition. Their elaborate art-punk collage this time incorporates a thirteen piece brass ensemble, Japanese Taiko drums and a children’s choir, while the dark and menacing atmosphere of the music is accentuated by the sounds of sharpening knives and rattling chains. Song titles like "We Want War", "Attack Music" or "Fire-Power" bring the "hidden" threat out in the open and reveal the shiny steel of their sonic weapons. "Hidden" has fully justified the expectations created by "Beat Pyramid", These New Puritan’s ace 2008 debut, and justly brings major critical acclaim to the band.

Beach House’s third LP, the slow burning "Teen Dream", has already created a huge buzz in the blogosphere, gathering rave reviews and even suggestions of an Animal Collective-style domination in the "Albums of the Year" lists of 2010. Although all this early hype can certainly become annoying, the album undoubtedly possesses an undisputed charm and demands repeated listening. Fans of Galaxy 500 and Mazzy Star will surely appreciate Beach House’s organ-drenched, make out dream pop and majestic tracks like the recent single "Norway", "Silver Soul", "10 Mile Stereo" or "Take Care" make it easier to overlook the hype and enjoy the record for what it is, a wonderful, nostalgic tribute to young love.

Midlake’s return after four years with "The Courage of Others" is certainly going to be a treat for fans of melodic folk rock. The album is steeped in an early ’70s psych folk atmosphere with acoustic guitars and flutes dominating proceedings. The pace remains slow throughout but thanks to the strong vocal harmonies and the soaring melancholic melodies there’s never a dull moment to be found in its haunting 42 minutes.

The rest of our Top 15 consists of 2009 releases we’ve been listening to lately, with two noise-rock albums, the excellent Japandroid’s debut "Post-Nothing" (which we got to hear just in time to include in our Top 10 debuts of 2009) and Oneida’s epic "Rated O" being the most impressive of the lot. Recent Grammy winners Phoenix are also in here with the infectious pop of "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", an album that was ubiquitous in the year-end lists. Sometimes buying late can be advantageous as the re-release that I got is coupled with a bonus remix cd and there are instances where the remix is at least as good as the original, as is the case with the Animal Collective remake of "Love Like A Sunset" which is transformed into a track that could well have a place in "Merriweather Post Pavilion" (download the mp3 here).

Top 15 Albums

1. Transference - SPOON
4. Teen Dream - BEACH HOUSE
5. The Courage Of Others - MIDLAKE
6. Post-Nothing - JAPANDROIDS
7. Rated O - ONEIDA
8. Monsters Of Folk - MONSTERS OF FOLK
9. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - PHOENIX
10. Logos - ATLAS SOUND
11. Actor - ST. VINCENT
12. Bird-Brains - TUNE-YARDS
13. Love Comes Close - COLD CAVE
14. Infinite Light - LIGHTNING DUST
15. Baby Darling Doll Face Honey - BAND OF SKULLS

Top 20 Tracks

1. Written in reverse - SPOON
2. Norway - BEACH HOUSE
4. Giving up the gun - VAMPIRE WEEKEND
5. We want war - THESE NEW PURITANS
6. On giving up - HIGH PLACES
7. Wondering what everyone knows - LIGHTNING DUST
8. Children of the grounds - MIDLAKE
9. Ayisha abyss - SERENA-MANEESH
10. Brownout in Lagos - ONEIDA
11. Young hearts spark fire - JAPANDROIDS
12. Jail La La - DUM DUM GIRLS
13. Real live flesh - TUNE-YARDS
14. My Way - JJ
15. Water - PIT ER PAT
16. Odessa - CARIBOU
17. I hear the vibrations (E-Z version) - WOODEN SHJIPS
18. The high road - BROKEN BELLS
19. Love like a sunset (Animal Collective RMX / Deakin’s Jam) - PHOENIX
20. Life magazine - COLD CAVE