7.25.05 | A Is Jump – Peeling Space
A Is Jump
I had actually heard the entire My Ice-Fingered Ghost CD from A Is Jump long ago (quite cool name for a band, by the way. We ARE a playstation nation…) but I didn’t get a chance to write them up until now. Interesting, because this is actually my favorite band off Future Appletree, whose roster also includes the familiar Marlboro Chorus and Driver of The Year.
So now that I’ve gotten to listen to it I have to say that yep, all the reviews about the band are correct in saying that they’ve yanked a bit out of Great Brit and brought it back to the flatlands of the Midwest. These are great layered songs that often feature the singer’s strong falsetto ringing stridently over washes of guitar. The opening track, “Peeling Space”, has a really good up and down main guitar line that rings almost like XTC or Sugarplastic (one and the same, aren’t they) but less campy. The same type of instrumental walking lines appear on the excellent “Waited So Long” which sounds so familiar but I can’t place where I’ve heard the main melody before.
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Awhile back, I had heard this really awesome folky song in the background of a Honda Element commercial. I instantly looked up from what I was doing (I had the TV on just for the noise) because I thought it was actually a Smog song. Indeed, the singer of “Orange Sky”, Alexi Murdoch, does sound a bit like Bill Callahan mixed with a bit of Mark Eitzel (from American Music Club).
The commercial is a really simple one, just some mountain bikers travelling along in their car. The song is what really makes it memorable, though i’ll admit that Honda is late to the game with the combination of porch folk rock and cars (i.e. Volkswagon and Nick Drake).
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7.18.05 | Band Website Hosting – Article
If you’re just starting out creating your band’s website, hold the phone. Before you go off and create a couple atrocious pages on one of the many free web site hosts that exist today, you’ll want to do some careful thinking for the future. If your band strikes it big, are you going to want your website hosted somewhere that’s non-permanent? Likely not…
7.13.05 | Beltline – Welcome Nostalgia
Beltline is a Portland area band that offer up a heady mix of a number of styles including eclectic indie rock and more sparsely populated alt country music. They have succeeded in combing the cameradrie mindset of big band porch rockers like Lambchop with an edgier rock attitude that shines forth in their songs. Instruments like cello and vibraphone make a frequent appearance and add a lot of personality to the tracks. The band centers around the nice vocals of Rob Jones but includes a revolving crew of indie stalwarts from bands like The Decemberists.
Clampitt, Gaddis & Buck
Engine Number 3
No this isn’t some strange incarnation of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This is Clampitt, Gaddis and Buck. More catchy, huh? This track sort of came out at me from left field because I was sort of expecting a slow appalachian type folk song, perhaps in the manner of Iron and Wine.
Instead, “Engine Number 3″ is a raucous bluegrass infused hoedown worthy of a lost episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. Anyhow, plunking banjo and alternating male and female vocal lines make this a really fun track to listen to. Interestingly, the band hails from Oregon as opposed to Tennessee or West Virginia which is where it sounds this type of music might come from.
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7.10.05 | Creating an Indie Press Pack – Article
Creating an informational packet of materials to send with your new CD is something every indie musician should consider. This package, known as a Press Pack, should go along with every CD that you send to magazines, press, venues, stores and websites. Although some people hire a publicity company to do this, you may just want to do it yourself in order to save money…
7.26.05 | Delaney – La Nuit on a Toujours Tout
La Nuit on a Toujours Tout
I don’t know a whole lot about French singer Christelle Delaney other than the information found on the always fabulous Pehr label, which is where this MP3 is located. Delaney sings sultry french pop songs but there is a underlying element of sadness underneath the semi-detached lyrics. In that way, she is sort of Nico-ish but her voice seems less low and gravelly.
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7.28.05 | Fruit Bats – Lives of Crime
Lives of Crime
While Fruit Bats in the wild are a somewhat scary flying mammals, Fruit Bats the band actually plays some great indie pop. They’ve been described before as “Califone meets The Shins”… however, what I hear most from them is a good dose of Elephant 6, especially The Apples In Stereo. Which is sort of cool, because I felt like that part of indie rock/pop was not being represented too well on Subpop (although the band has released an earlier album, Mouthfuls, on Subpop).
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7.30.05 | Getting Music Reviewed – Article
Everyone and their mom wants to get their music reviewed. Having a good collection of reviews for your music out there can be a great way to help bring in new fans. It’s also some great info to put on your press sheet. But what’s the correct way to go about sending in your CD to the multitudes of review sites and magazines around the world?
7.5.05 | Iron and Wine – M&M Commercial
Iron and Wine
Such Great Heights
I thought the world was coming to an end when I heard Sam Beam of Iron and Wine cover the Postal Service song “Such Great Heights”. Never mind that it’s an awesome song. I would have much rather him covered a DCFC song any day, but beggars can’t be choosers. The fact that it also appeared on the excellent Garden State soundtrack was pretty cool and I guess it didn’t hurt his publicity.
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7.15.05 | Love as Laughter- Laughter’s Fifth
Love as Laughter
Highly irreverent indie rock from Sam Jayne of Love as Laughter makes for some interesting listening. I’m usually not such a big fan of 70s or 80s classic rock influenced modern bands, and there have been quite a few to come out on Subpop in the last year. But I actually took a fancy to a few of the later tracks on the album such as Neil Young influenced “Every Midnight Song”. That song really got off the ground and started to rock out near the end.
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7.29.05 | Ponies In The Surf – Self Titled EP
Ponies In The Surf
[Early Morning Late Night]
Some really lovely folk numbers from brother and sister duo Camille and Alexander McGregor, who are otherwise known as Ponies In The Surf. This is beautiful and uncluttered music with a slight Spanish inflection in the chords.
“Ventricle” is a nearly perfect tune that is intimate and yet expressive with the interchange in their voices. All of their songs feature only a single guitar that plunks along plaintively, almost like a ukelele. It forms the perfect complement to both Alexander’s slightly boozy falsetto and Camille’s sweeter voice that is nearly, but not quite, twee.
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7.27.05 | Ramones – Diet Pepsi Commercial
OK, so I confess that I absolutely detest Pepsi. And don’t even get me started on the evil aftertaste in Diet Sodas. So put them together as Pepsi Diet Soda and create a commercial and you get something I’d really, really hate. And in fact, the only redeeming thing about that commercial (well, I admit the CG is not bad for the dancing sodas) is that they used Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones as the background music.
The commercial features a bunch of sodas in a 7-11 upright glass door fridge cooler, each “type” of soda on a different shelf. They actually went out of their way to render “Diet Coke” cans too. So only the “cool” Diet Pepsi cans are the ones to pogo to the beat of Blitzkrieg Bop, while the other sodas are complaining. I dunno, I might be complaining too about neighbors in the upstairs shelf making a racket. The commercial ends with a lone Diet Pepsi can slam dancing through the glass door and spinning around on the floor.
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The Crowd Train Takes The Form
I’ve been a fan of the New Jersey label Monotone Records for awhile. Got a chance to listen to some of Ryan Doyle’s songs off of his The Crowd’ Train Takes The Form CD-R a few days ago. I’d heard some songs off the “Sparrows” tape and this collection of songs continued the nice folky vibe that was on it. The mood of the tracks is very pastoral and thoughtful, like a lot of tracks from the label (notably Kevin Huelbig Jr.’s stuff). At times it is uptempo and melodic like The Shins or Belle and Sebastian, but it usually comes across more understated.
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7.22.05 | Snoozer – Legal Tender
With a buzz-buzz here and a twee pop there, Snoozer has always been a favorite of mine ever since I was introduced to their music through HHBTM. Rhode Island’s Susie Ghahremani has a knack for making these compact shiny little pop songs that mix casios with melodies that are a big snuggly but definitely not overly cheesey. In fact, there’s a good dose of hidden girl angst lurking in the lyrics on many of her songs from the “Winter Stops All Sound” CD EP pictured here. I know many already have this, but I forgot to check the Boygirlparty website earlier and just recently found two other tracks of hers hiding:
First up is the highly entertaining “Legal Tender”, a cover of the B52s track. Handclaps and super caffeinated buzzy synths surround her voice which is bratty, almost to the point of being “valley girl”. This reminded me again of Joy Ray from Sissybar. There’s a funny little xylophone hit that comes in once or twice throughout that made me laugh.
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The Polyphonic Spree
Beginning Stages Of
If your idea of a great band is about 25-30 members dressed in the same long robes playing various different orchestral and non-orchestral instruments or singing in a rousing indie pop chorus, then The Polyphonic Spree may just be for you. This band truly does have a huge cast and does perform in suspiciously “cult-like” robes, but the sound that comes out of them is pretty amazing. A soaring chorus of voices backed by a modern day orchestra type sound a la Brian Wilson’s Smile. Crazy horns, whistles, bells, strings, gongs… you get the whole works.
I haven’t gotten their newer CD/DVD Together We’re Heavy, but I can certainly vouch for the tracks off of their amazing initial album The Beginning Stages Of The Polyphonic Spree. Tracks like Have A Day feature their typical dynamic buildup of instruments around a common theme, often only a few chords. The choral blasts on “It’s The Sun” give me chills.
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7.21.05 | Viva Voce – Alive With Pleasure
Alive With Pleasure
If you like the other married (or divorced) dynamic duos Arcade Fire or Quasi, there’s a pretty good chance you will dig Viva Voce. Beautiful and engaging quirk rock that sounds semi-filtered through Jason Lytle’s or Aaron Espinoza’s eyes.
On their latest LP The Heat Can Melt Your Brain Anita and Kevin Robinson carefully construct catchy melodies and inject a tipsiness into their tunes by utilizing an arsenal of musical weapons. Ranging from vibraphone and kazoo to celeste and simple handclaps, their instrumentation choices are top notch. The flavor is eccentric and edgy, aurally exciting, and liable to make you jiggle around uncontrollably in a spastic way. Yeah, that good.
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7.20.05 | Weather – Calling Up My Bad Side
Calling Up My Bad Side
Someone lent me a CD by the band Weather who play pretty much your garden variety Travis meets the OC brand of modern rock. I would definitely have thought about a name change, though, especially since shortly before signing with Cake Records (distributed by a subsidiary of Sony / BMG) they actually changed up half the lineup of the band. Because “Weather” is such a common word and people are apt to get you confused with The Weather Report.
The title track, “Calling Up My Bad Side”, is actually a pretty strong tune with lead singer Sean’s voice smoothly transitioning from falsetto to normal throughout. Hints of moody shoegaze lurk around the corners of snappy drum hits and a decent melody. They do indeed remind me of Travis or Coldplay though I don’t hear any of the much mentioned Cure reference in the music.
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