Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Releases: March 2010

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


LIARS - Sisterworld (video)
DUM DUM GIRLS - I Will Be (video)
HIGH PLACES - High Places Vs. Mankind (video)
BROKEN BELLS - Broken Bells (video)
BLOOD RED SHOES - Fire Like This (video)
TITUS ANDRONICUS - The Monitor (mp3)
BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB - Beat The Devil's Tattoo (video)
SERENA MANEESH - No 2: Abyss In B Minor (video)
LOVE IS ALL - Two Thousand and Ten Injuries (video)
GORILLAZ - Plastic Beach
NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB - The Optimist (video)
JJ - JJ Nº 3 (video)
THE BESNARD LAKES - The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (mp3)
TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS - The Brutalist Bricks (mp3)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Happy Birthday (mp3s)
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS - The Big To-Do (mp3)
BONNIE PRINCE BILLY & THE CAIRO GANG - The Wonder Show Of The World (mp3)
EMMA POLLOCK - The Law Of Large Numbers
AIR FORMATION - Nothing To Wish For (Nothing To Lose) (video)
THE MORNING BENDERS - Big Echo (video)
ROGUE WAVE - Permalight (mp3)
THE RUBY SUNS - Fight Softly
FRIGHTENED RABBIT - The Winter of Mixed Drinks (mp3/video)
LAURA MARLING - I Speak Because I Can (video)
ELLIE GOULDING - Lights (video)
GONJASUFI - A Sufi And A Killer (mp3)
AUTECHRE - Oversteps
GOLDFRAPP - Head First
BRIGHT EYES AND NEVA DINOVA - One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels (mp3s)
THE WHITE STRIPES - Under Great White Northern Lights
PAVEMENT - Quarantine The Past
THE JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION - Dirty Shirt Rock'n'Roll: The First Ten Years


HOLE - Skinny Little Bitch (stream)
ARCTIC MONKEYS - My Propeller (video)
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS - The Crash Years (stream)
VIVIAN GIRLS - My Love Will Follow Me
THE BABIES - All Things Come To Pass (video)
GLASSER - Tremel (mp3)
FOUR TET - Sing (stream)
GORILLAZ - Stylo (video)
THE DRUMS - Best Friend (video)
VERONICA FALLS - Found Love In A Graveyard / Stephen (mp3)
CRYSTAL ANTLERS - Little Sister / Dead Horse (mp3s)
ZOLA JESUS - Stridulum EP (mp3)
LAURA MARLING - Devil's Spoke
WILD BEASTS - We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues (video)
LOCAL NATIVES - Airplanes (video)
KING KHAN - Fiery Tears Of St Laurent
EELS - A Line In The Dirt
GONJASUFI - Kobwebz/Speaketh
JOY ORBISON - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow EP
DJANGO DJANGO - Wor / Skies Over Cairo
LATE OF THE PIER - Best In The Class (video)
FRIENDLY FIRES / HOLY GHOST - Friendly Fires vs. Holy Ghost
DELPHIC - Halcyon (video)
TANLINES - Settings EP
GOLDFRAPP - Rocket (video)
JAMIE T - Emily's Heart (video)
A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW - Nitetime Rainbows EP (video)

Recommended mp3 downloads:

The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
High Places - Can't Feel Nothing (Remix)
Holy Fuck - Latin America
MGMT - Flash Delirium
Woven Bones - It Feels Alright
The Hold Steady - Hurricane J
Tokyo Police Club - Breakneck Speed
Neon Indian - Sleep Paralysist
Teenage Fanclub - Baby Lee

We had some great releases this month and one of them is the simply amazing second High Places album, "High Places Vs Mankind". Once the music starts, pressing the stop button is no longer an option! We'll have more about them in the upcoming "Listening Habits" post, but for now here's the new video for one of the album's highlights, "The Longest Shadows":

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vintage Tracks 3: Pavement - In The Mouth A Desert

Time for our monthly trip down memory lane for the third installment of Vintage Tracks, the series we have dedicated to the presentation of videos of truly great tracks.

March 2010 marks the return of Pavement to the live scene for their first shows in a decade. To celebrate this much anticipated reunion of one of the best bands that the '90s alternative universe had to offer, we have unearthed (thanks to the magic of the internet) a video from a vintage Pavement performance from the Reading Festival of 1992. This was actually my first Pavement live experience, as I was lucky enough to attend that historical event, with Nirvana headlining on the third day, Sunday, August 30th (see also here). A storm the previous night had already turned the field into a swamp, more suitable for mud baths than concerts, but with so much great music on offer no one seemed to care. Getting to the festival site was not easy thanks to the slippery conditions and the large amount of people trying to get in, which meant that I didn't get to see the band that opened the main stage that day, The Melvins. I was just in time for Screaming Trees though, who were quickly followed by a band I had recently discovered, going by the rather bizarre name of Pavement. John Peel, who introduced them on stage, was already a fan and their blistering set turned out to be one of the highlights of an amazing festival.

It was in June of that year that I had bought what turned out to be one of my top 20 favorite albums of the '90s, the astonishing "Slanted And Enchanted" (June 24 - same day I got "Dirty Boots" by Sonic Youth and "Hit Parade 1" by The Wedding Present - certainly an unforgettable listening experience for me that summer evening). Yes, it was reminiscent of The Fall here and there ("Our Singer" starts with the beat from "Hip Priest" and you could swear that "Two States" is a cover of a "Slates" outtake) but their songwriting had its own unique personality, mixing weird melodies with idiosyncratic beats to create a stunningly original end result, bringing gritty post-punk and sunny indie pop together.

One of the album's standout tracks for me is "In The Mouth A Desert" (which, for some reason, I always thought it made the perfect companion to The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?") and below you can watch it along with "Perfume-V" from the excellent, wind-swept performance of Pavement in the 1992 Reading Festival. This is how the legend of Pavement began:

Pavement - "Perfume-V" and "In The Mouth A Desert" from Reading Festival, Aug. 30, 1992

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Listening Habits 02.2010

Two excellent compilations are at the top of our February album playlist. "Counter Culture 09" is the latest installment in the annual series of compilations selected by the staff of London's Rough Trade record shops, presenting some of the most vital music of the past year. What we get, as usual, is a very diverse mix that combines hits and obscure gems from established names (Super Furry Animals, Mos Def), fast rising new stars (The XX, The Horrors), and promising underground acts. Among the many exciting newcomers that we came across for the first time here, it was Terry Lynn (the beat-heavy, digi-funky "Kingstonlogic" is perhaps the most addictive of the double cd's 43 tracks), Zomby, Glasser and Male Bonding those that stood out the most.

The other great compilation of the month comes from Matador Records and presents the lesser known side of the indie rock scene of Austin, Texas. "Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010" is compiled by Gerard Cosloy, one of the owners of Matador, who also used to run Homestead Records in the '80s. The magnificent guitar noise of that era, which Homestead helped nourish with the release of seminal records by the likes of Sonic Youth, Big Black and Dinosaur Jr., is a major influence on the new generation of bands represented here, as well as '70s punk and '60s garage. Some of the most impressive acts among the 19 that Cosloy handpicked, include Kingdom Of Suicide Lovers (great name!), Dikes Of Holland, Woven Bones, Tre Orsi, Wild America and Follow That Bird!. "The Ghosts That Wake You" by the later, the compilation's opening track, has quickly become one of my favorites of the year and judging by the older material available to listen at Follow That Bird's MySpace site, this band has what it takes to become one of the great discoveries of 2010!

"The Flexible Entertainer", the fifth album by Pit Er Pat, may have a simpler instrumentation than previous efforts but is no less resourceful and adventurous. Hip hop beats are added to the heady mix of post-rock ambiance and Middle-Eastern melodies, resulting in a more dance-floor friendly record. "Water", with its playful drum machine beats and robotic bleeps, is an excellent example of this new direction, while tracks like "Godspot" or "Summer Rose" travel on a similar path with experimental acts like Gang Gang Dance, combining tribal rhythms with jazzy, mesmerizing improvisations and dub elements. Longer jams like the sprawling, hypnotic “Specimen” reveal the post-rock roots of the band's sound. "The Flexible Entertainer" is a fine effort from a band that recently became a duo (Fay Davis-Jeffers and Butchy Fuego are the remaining members), but didn’t let this apparent obstacle hold them back. This new, flexible pop direction is certainly very entertaining!

Top 10 Albums

1. Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture 09 - VARIOUS ARTISTS
2. Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010 - VARIOUS ARTISTS
3. The Flexible Entertainer - PIT ER PAT
4. There Is Love In You - FOUR TET
5. Romance Is Boring - LOS CAMPESINOS!
7. Hot Wax - GRANT HART
8. Tarot Sport - FUCK BUTTONS
9. One Life Stand - HOT CHIP
10. Why There Are Mountains - CYMBALS EAT GUITARS

Top 20 Tracks

1. The ghosts that wake you - FOLLOW THAT BIRD!
2. Art czars - JAPANDROIDS
4. You’re the reflection of the moon in the water - GRANT HART
5. Your hands (together) - THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
6. Straight in at 101 - LOS CAMPESINOS!
7. Emperor of charms - PIT ER PAT
8. Kingstonlogic - TERRY LYNN
9. Sing - FOUR TET
10. One life stand - HOT CHIP
11. Apply - GLASSER
12. Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums - MOONFACE
15. C'mon - THE SOFT PACK
16. Little city girl - DIKES OF HOLLAND
17. Drink it dry - WILD AMERICA
18. Shark's tooth - ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT
19. World sick - BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
20. Cold spring - CYMBALS EAT GUITARS

Follow That Bird! - The Ghosts That Wake You

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Fiery Furnaces, Live @ An Club, Athens (March 2, 2010)

As anyone who is familiar with The Fiery Furnaces prolific recording output knows, the brother and sister core of the band, Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, have Greek roots. This became apparent with their 2005 concept album "Rehearsing My Choir" whose narrator was their grandmother, Olga Sarantos, a choir director at a Greek Orthodox church in Illinois. Although, as we've found out, the two siblings have visited Greece before, this was the first time they came to play in Athens, their honorary home city, with their band which also included Bob D'Amico on drums and ex-Sebadoh Jason Loewenstein on bass. The timing couldn't have been better for me, as their latest album, "I'm Going Away", was among my favorites of 2009 and, in my opinion, one of the best in the band's career.

Not surprisingly, several of the key tracks of "I'm Going Away" were present in the almost 90-minute set ("Charmaine Champagne", "The End Is Near", "Drive To Dallas", "Cut The Cake"), which also included many highlights from the band's rich back catalogue ("Up In The North", "Asthma Attack", "Tropical Ice-Land", "Single Again", "Here Comes The Summer", "Blueberry Boat", "I'm In No Mood", "Ex-Guru", "Duplexes Of The Dead" to name but a few). The Fiery Furnaces are known for their experimental nature and their tendency to improvise on stage and the Athens show was no exception. The guitar-bass-drums basic instrumentation (Matthew didn't bring his keyboards with him this time) gave their songs a punk rock edge, changing time signatures at the drop of a hat and favoring speed and noise over melody. As the show progressed and the band familiarized themselves with the club's sound and the appreciative audience, The Fiery Furnaces upped their game and the last 20 minutes of their set was the night's highlight, playing a medley of some of their best tracks. Before that, Bob and Jason had briefly left the stage leaving the Friedbergers to perform as a duo, with Eleanor taking up drummer duties.

As the band concluded their fine maiden performance in Athens, Matthew expressed the wish to come back soon for more shows. Although this is something that bands usually say, I'm sure that The Fiery Furnaces mean it and we are certainly going to hold them to that promise!

The Fiery Furnaces playing "Charmaine Champagne", the second track of their Athens set (An Club, March 2, 2010)