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

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