Every time I listen through Goodbye Weather something new strikes me. This is in part due to the complexities of the soundscapes classical guitarist Chris Bolton creates using several unexpected out-of-date instruments such as the dictaphone and melodica, in part due to the powerful thematic elements found in an album that espouses desolation as the lion’s share of grandeur. Goodbye Weather continually creates space as it runs, each hurried frantic romp, like a bird soaring across an empty sky, arriving unexpectedly transient in its own time. In between, there is room to breath and to question whether action or inaction, observation or manifestation, holds more meaning in a world ruled by weather patterns and chance encounters. All in all, this is a way of saying that Seagull’s debut album opens doors, in creativity and emotionality, in an admirable essence in the merit of getting back to the basics.
Twin Sister is a dream pop group based in Long Island, NY, and they’ve garnered a lot of attention over the past year. They blew.me.away. with their Color Your Life EP, a release that literally induced severe daydreams every time I listened to it. I’d have those 6 tracks on repeat for hours without realizing it. Andrea Estella’s voice on “The Other Side of Your Face” is one of the most comforting sounds I have ever heard.
So, it’s no surprise I nearly flipped my shit when I heard about In Heaven, their first LP. It seems as though they’ve managed to feather out the brief, fumbling moments of uncertainty and to highlight everything extraordinary from their first two EPs. Estella takes her role to new heights, showcasing a variety of vocal styles, and the group’s new sound, now that it’s trimmed some of the fat, has slipped into a slightly sexier outfit. Honey-covered vocals, funky rhythms and cushioned beats all swimming effortlessly in a twinkling sea of ethereal bliss: how could you resist this?
Beautiful hazy dream pop from London Ingaland, Still Corners a la Memoryhouse wants you to read between the riffs, to get lost in the nether of their strong post-rock sentiments, and lose yourself bouncing in and out of walls of sound. Founded in 2008 on the hushed breathy vocals of Tessa Murray and the succinctly pop-inspired atmospheric renderings of Greg Hughes, they create a wash of giddy love songs in the vein of Au Revoir Simone.
Every once in a while you start listening to an album and normality goes out the window. Colors explode, your thoughts stray, your body recedes as your mind expands, and you become this encapsulated engine of momentous life energy, uncontrollable urges of immortality…
“Heather studies piano at the conservatorium and reads a bit too much Russian literature. Hayley looks toward her personal canon of pop ballads for guidance in all situations and believes we must return to the way life was prior to the poker machine epidemic. Nik is a science student who imbues his drumming with formulas and mathematical complexities. Sam is a country music-playing, Marx-spouting communist with a love of all things meaningfully subversive.
I guess our music derives from these things.” - from the band
I’m moving to Australia some day, and this is a spectacular debut.
The July 2011 edition of Mojo Magazine included a cd of some of the London label’s most promising singer-songwriters, musicians using music as a medium for message. Hopefully contemplative, there’s a sense of longing in this compilation, a will to see the world in a different light, to take a short respite from present travaux and wish upon a song.
LA’s Grouplove shined brightly with “Colours” at the beginning of 2011 (if you’ven’t seen’t already, the music video is great!), and their debut album Never Trust A Happy Song. The lyrics, often pining for yous, create an emotional pop ensemble. This album goes slow and fast, hard and soft, just like any lover should.
Here’s their third single “Tongue Tied”. If you’re digging it, buy the music on their site!
“Cuckoo Chaos is the Richard Nixon of disco dancing. Cuckoo Chaos is the Henry Ford of Dada. Cuckoo Chaos is the John The Baptist of cunnilingus. Cuckoo Chaos is a nice, firm ass in the palm of your hands. Cuckoo Chaos is the Nobel Peace Prize of bukkake. Cuckoo Chaos has the Lindbergh baby. Cuckoo Chaos knows you’re fucked up, but loves you. Cuckoo Chaos wants you to want. Chew on that, sucka.” - from the band, a five-piece ensemble out of San Diego
I knew that I was going to like this album one minute into the first song. You see, I have a hard time trusting new hip hop artists, can’t seem to shake the feeling that they are working me over at some ultrasonic audio angle, which is why whenever I hear a new musician come out and in the first song of his debut immediately start rapping about how great he is, I smile and keep listening. Because I know where he stands, and then after two songs in when all of a sudden he starts sounding less like cee-lo and more like tv on the radio, I can erase all the pretensions and just sit back enjoying Theophilus London’s aesthetic vision and thinking about where it might possibly go next.
I recently went to go see Tame Impala at Webster Hall in NYC, and although I had no intention of seeing the first two acts, YAWN and Yuck, I went in before the opening act and ended up getting trapped inside (Webster Hall allows no re-entry, like a tool). But everything turned out better than expected, since YAWN ended up being a great band with an awesome live show (I can’t really say the same thing for Yuck, which literally made me want to self-administer a lobotomy). I was even more blown away when I listened to their LP, Open Season, which sports so many additional layers undetected during the live experience. Their sound might strike a familiar chord for you, reverberating outfits like Yeasayer, Animal Collective, and Delorean. World-beats, melodic rock, dance, and a vast array of electronic elements are creatively fused together to create the explosive experimental pop hubbub that is YAWN.
Open Season is quickly making its way to one of my favorites of 2011.
This album listens to me as a call-to-arms, a guy (possibly two) losing the passion of his house and writing this maybe to cope, probably to lure. Perhaps that’s why this electronic minimalist neo-soul outfit out of Melbourne produced an album that feels both whole and schizophrenic, tropical dance numbers bookmarked by a bunch of pieces that most likely tumbled out of James Blake’s head, fell into Star Slinger’s beatsmith studio, and then wandered around on lost mixtapes for a while before finding their way on to this record. Some instrumentals used in the making of this debut album: synths, drum machines, children’s toys, and tape loops. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, then well I just don’t know what will.
Sóley Stefánsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic band Seabear, will be releasing her debut album We Sink on the 27th of September through Morr Music. It is deep, heart-felt lyricism at its core, a playground carousel of haunting, echoing, melancholy artistically measured by twinkling instrumentals, ship-sunk percussion, and occasional glimmers of the happiness that seemingly comes from sipping the Icelandic kool-aid. She reminds me of: early Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, her bandmate Sin Fang, a little Roar and the Wolf, Jonsi, etc.. An engaging listen.
Over the past year I admittedly gave long consideration as to whether it was a better use of my time waiting for Penguin Prison’s debut album or Godot. Patience is so often rewarded though, and thus I am happy to say that the former, when finally appearing, not only met but exceeded my expectations. Chris Glover, originally of the awesomely named Smartest People at Bard, signed and released a solo album for the Universal label in 2009. After it received little critical support however, he adopted the moniker Penguin Prison and started churning out remixes for several already established indie bands while working on PP’s debut. The deluxe edition is a double-disc spectacle, the first containing twelve tracks most, but not all, of which have been previously released in one form or another, the second a series of club and dub remixes of a few singles. This is some of my favorite current electro-pop, and comes highly recommended.
This release by Graham Van Pelt is said to contain tracks that didn’t quite make the cut on Was I the Wave?, Van Pelt’s second LP under the moniker Miracle Fortress. Now, this caught my attention for a couple of reasons, mainly because despite critical acclaim, WITW?’s dark overtones never really settled well with me. And if these tracks didn’t make the cut, then they’ve got to be slightly more uplifting than their chosen brethren.
Listening to them, I can’t help but wonder if these were composed at the very beginning stages of WITW?'s development. “Possession” seems to float betwixt his two LPs; with the dour electronic elements of WITW? looping ominously over the fuzzy vocals and lulling synths of Five Roses, it has an unsettling yet simultaneously pacifying dissension within its structure.
I also highly recommend the other coupling of unreleased tracks, Tropic of Canada and Seabird as Well.
Of You Are All I See, Pat himself says, “You Are All I See is an attempt to build a bridge between the listener and I, in that, I wrote these songs for you as much as I did for me. And right now when you are listening to my voice, by yourself, it really is just you and I […] The songs focus primarily on the joy and the heartbreak of relationships, love lost and rediscovered, battles with monogamy, battles with identity. It came out much darker than I had intended, but sometimes you only have so much control.”
Radical Face is the moniker of Electric President front man Ben Cooper. Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Cooper, who also plays as part of Mother’s Basement and Iron Orchestra, is releasing his second album, Roots, on October 4th as the first in a three-part series of records collectively titled Family Tree. The music is understated and might potentially come off as soundless if closely compared to the audioblasting that was found throughout Ghost, his debut, but relies minimally on hooks and ear-catching rhythms, choosing instead to slowly build atmospheric tensions that seem to melt off and into one another. Initial review: definitely not a show-er, but with strong potential for growth.
I love Germany. Germany, Germany, Germany. Another kick-ass band straight out of Germany. I don’t know how or why, but that country has a knack for harboring programming and mixing wizards (e.g. The Notwist, The Mouse Folk, Ms. John Soda, and now Apparat). This album reads like an album by Sigur Ros, chocked full of surging anthems and vacillating power ballads. Headphones would probably be the proper tool for listening, so you can catch all the fluttering electronic blips and at least attempt to navigate the complex network of strings and beats that Sascha Ring has linked for us.
I apologize for taking so long to post about The Antlers’ new release Burst Apart. If you listened to their first LP, Hospice, then you know what it feels like to have your emotions jumbled beyond discernment. This time around they’ve managed, by some divine justice, to elicit the same emotional charge while pounding out a more refined sound. Unlike Hospice, this album has no unifying theme, but that’s okay because I think the album has a great overall cohesion and undeniable replay value.
I seriously am incapable of taking this LP off heavy rotation.
This August, CSS (a.k.a. Cansei de Ser Sexy, meaning “tired of being sexy”) released their 3rd album, La Liberacion, and with just one listen through it becomes clear that this sassy Brazilian band is still kicking. While, like their 2nd album, the band’s fresh touch still seems to be slightly out of reach, they’ve decided to throw in some afro-beats, piano ballads and a few Caribbean vibes this time around, and well, I think it pays off.
Check out “Red Alert” above: it’s kind of a dream come true. Ratatat + Lovefoxxx? I mean, come on!
An eclectic group of individual Horowitzian brilliances including the Liszt B minor piano sonata, his funerailles, various Chopin miscellanea, a couple lesser-known Schumann works, and a Debussy etude. The first mp3 is the beginning and majority of the final movement of the Liszt sonata, while the second is a notoriously difficult Chopin etude played, in my opinion, to near perfection. Enjoy!
Chris Taylor’s fingerprints are to be found on a number of musical projects since his graduating from nyu in 2004, although he is best known as the bassist and producer of Grizzly Bear’s post-Horn of Plenty albums. He has helped produce Department of Eagles’ In Ear Park, Twin Shadow’s Forget, and Dirty Projectors’ Rise Above, as well as playing horns for TV on the Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain and mastering Canon Blue’s debut LP Colonies. Needless to say he is building up quite a musical CV, and is releasing his solo debut under the moniker Cant, Dreams Come True, on September 13th. It is not to be missed.
Spectacular debut EP from Toronto-born Sydney neo-soul beatsmith Guerre. Think James Blake meets Active Child. Or maybe a little bit of Explosions in the Sky meets Carissa’s Weird, I don’t know. Quite good, worth a listen, and an individual pittance to support the artist.
This set of mixes is spot on, imbuing energy and nostalgia.
What’re your favorite game soundtracks? Some that stick out in my (admittedly limited) experience are: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, and generally Sonic (Spinball, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, et al.).
A collection of collaborations from weget.by, these songs are never showy, always intensive, often keeping distinct the sounds of each individual artist. Featuring Foxes in Fiction, Seeing Suge, and many more, this is not a compilation to be missed.
For some reason i seem to enjoy Little Dragon’s EPs and singles more than their albums, but this little fuzz-pop gem engenders high hopes, at least in this blogger’s mind, for their upcoming release, Ritual Union, due out the 26th of July.
Anois is a bedroom pop boy/girl outfit from northern Germany, and most of the stuff off their early EP, Tracery on a Frosted Window, reminds me of Mexican Elvis. Why I like it: because it’s been said that insincerity is the great enemy of clear language, yet Anois’ music provides a context for everything they have to say. Offered is an mp3 from their LP, which sounds alternately like something from Mum, Tunng, or Keshco, and can be purchased on Bandcamp. Also provided is a link to their debut ep which is up for free at the poni republic.
I thought this was a pretty damn accurate description: originally the brainchild of new-classical composer, programming weirdo, and part-time omelet artisan Grayson, (who met the members, Alex, Jay, Scott and Austin at a UFO convention), the band has since come to embrace a spacious sound rich with echo pedals, tribal beats, and tater-tot crisp. Inspired by love found and lost, forest trips, and circuit bending, it seems their music can be an apt cure for problems strange, but beautiful, uplifting, but melancholy, and definitely the sneaky ones.
The album you ask? I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favourites for 2011. And no, their music sounds nothing like the actual sound a fox makes.
Also, awesome album cover; scientific illustration at it’s best!
Emanuel Ayvas and his ten-piece band of merry musicians have been crafting abstract classical compositions into whimsical folk tone poems for a few years now. Starting out with a typical eatf rollicking rock anthem (see: Jimme’s Song) “Over and Over”, the kind that has always vaguely reminded me of my old haunt jamband outfits Dispatch and DMB, the Hands EP quickly begins to surprise. Taken all together, this output feels concise and whole, an attribute that’s pleasant to see in a band whose debut LP listen contained a daunting nineteen songs.
Hey folks. I’m happy to share some bona-fide summer music. And, if you’re needing más, turn to Donald Glover, you don’t have to call him Childish. Heh. For a mixy-mix, hit the break for a tracklisting… or just download it! *I realize the image isn’t square: deal. Consider it a preview of things to come.
I’m calling it Never Pay Retail after the inspiration of friends. Thank you.
***edit: the .rar file is missing the fifth song. I’ll re-up it soon. e-mail me @ onlypieces [at] gmail if you want to be notified.
Rumspringa is Daniel James’ second full-length album, and what it lacks in originality when compared to his debut it makes up for in retaining his wholly unique sound of disjointedly rhythmic in-your-face percussion slathered over flighty vocals and willowy electronics. The lyrics, if anything, are the most disappointing aspect of the new album. They are easier to follow and unmistakably impersonal from his earlier music, which could very well appeal to the demographic james is seeking with a sound that screams pop a little too often throughout the first half of the album, but may leave fans, many of whom have waited four-plus years for the release of this album, wanting. It is surely unrealistic to expect an artist of such talent and youth to stay lost in his own mind over many years of touring and music-making with indie legends efterklang in the flowering icelandic independent music scene however, and thus the final thought from repeated listenings to the album over the past week is one of cautious optimism regarding an artist staying true to his aesthetic vision while searching for an organic evolution into commercial success. Without question Canon Blue is an artist worth supporting whose future releases should be met with eager anticipation.
Ben Cooper is back, and this is surely a thing of good, for you me and the whole world, which I’m pretty sure is where Ben is from. An album gonna get released in early october titled Roots, and you are going to want to watch out for it. Here’s a song off a pre-Roots EP, and another from one of his earlier albums, Ghost. if you haven’t already, get into it. This EP is free with your most generous email address on his website.
Jim Button’s debut, Land of Plenty, from 2009 waxed easy intrigue at first listen but suffered from having too few standout tracks, and a production quality that spread more lo-fi than glo-fi. Luckily however, this Kansas City native’s subsequent output has produced not one standout and as such is a much more pleasing listen for this blogger. This EP does not figure to leave my computer turn table for many months, and why should it? The songs intoxicating, the flourishes austere, this EP is twenty minutes of firmly-rooted psych rock that flies by in a flash and leaves behind smears of synaesthetic sound.
Alas! The July remixes have finally arrived but this time around it’s a double edition of sorts; some of you more dedicated OP readers out there (should you actually exist) might remember. There used to be a much greater percentage of dance remixes on these compilations and well, this month we decided to include a dance remixes package with your regular delivery of wonderful remixes.