8.15.05 | Aqueduct – Jaguar Commercial
A long time ago, I had been informed of the up-and-coming band Aqueduct by a web friend who lived in Oklahoma. Then a few days ago I came across some of their songs on the web and listened again. One song in particular seemed to stick out… it was Hardcore Days and Softcore Nights.
What struck me most about this song is that it seemed to be a cross mutation between the Folk Implosion and Rolling Stones “As Tears Go By”. Very weird indeed for starters, but not a bad song. Sort of the type that grows on you. Though, I didn’t like their other song Growing Up With GNR as much, I resolved to keep an ear out for them.
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8.1.05 | Armored Frog – Blasted Record Effect
Blasted Record Effect
I was recently clued into a band called Armored Frog, whose name was reason enough to check them out. But I really dug the 3 songs available on site which all come from their Weasel on a Weathervane CD. As near as I can tell from this selection, Armored Frog’s specialty is extremely hushed and weather-worn folky songs that have more in common with Mark Linkous and Norfolk and Western than any appalachian crowd.
The minimalist “Blasted Record Effect” moves along at the speed of sloth, and the empty space between the notes wonderfully highlights the vocals (either from George Ayres or Jake Baker, I don’t know which). Like a true frog, their singing is extremely throaty and croaky… someone give them a cough drop! But it actually works beautifully in all of their tracks. The atmosphere reminded me of some of the slower Hayden songs.
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8.30.05 | Charmparticles – A/O
Some beautiful atmospheric music from a band called Charmparticles bubbled up to the surface on Soma the other day. The song they played was called “A/O”. I immediately went to check the website to see what samples they had.
This quartet hails from Portland, Oregon and specializes in the reverb driven, billowing type of rock that makes me think of newer bands like Doves and The Delgados as well as pleasantly reminding me of older ones like MBV, Autumns, and The Church.
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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
When a relatively unknown indie band gets a blog buzz on, it’s a difficult thing to suppress. I thought I was up on the cutting edge by finding this band, but I’ve since seen them featured in any number of music publications and even dropped by word of mouth by someone whose idea of “super indie” is the Arcade Fire. Last to the party, as usual.
This is delicious and pernicious indie pop that grabs a hold of the reins of your brain lobes and rides you down a somewhat 80s dayglow tinged road. “In This Home On Ice” will find you galloping along helplessly with the song’s shimmering guitars. There is little debate as to whether lead singer Alec Ounsworth sounds just a tad bit like David Byrne, but on this track he comes across more Elephant 6 – like, maybe Neutral Milk Hotel. He also sounds a bit like the Decemberists as well, but the music is less choppy waters and more tidal wave-like.
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8.5.05 | Cyanotype – Versus The World
Versus The World
The Shmat can’t quite decide if Cyanotype reminds him more of the Swirlies or of My Bloody Valentine or Yo La Tengo. Or all three mixed together in a blender-o-matic. Cyanotype is actually a pen name for Isaac Bear (which in itself sounds almost like a pen name).
Bear’s singing is somewhat monotonic, but that really seems to fit the music. His voice is at times similar to Lou Reed. The Shmat is not sure if that is a compliment, but he thinks it should be.
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8.2.05 | Doveman – Honey
[Swim Slowly Records]
In beautiful hushed tones, the band Doveman leads us on a trail that’s been blazed somewhat by Earlimart and Lambchop before. But the vocal pathos in Doveman’s singer Thomas Bartlett on their song “Honey” is really awesome in it’s sad whispery ways. A side note: it’s weird, but when I said “Doveman” to myself a couple of times I kept hearing the word “Duffman”, the beer spokesman from the Simpsons. Boy, is this a light year and a half away from that.
The song moves along slowly with a simple highhat step keeping time. This could easily be part of the soundtrack for the ending credits of a indie detective movie where the hero is walking off into the blackness without the girl. Halfway through the song a really touching muted trumpet burps along with a bit of tinkling ivories in the background.
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8.19.05 | Earlimart – House MD Show
It's OK To Think About Ending
The other day I was idly flipping channels on the TV as we all do when I came to rest on Channel 11 (which is FOX Broadcasting is my neck of the woods). My finger was hovering over the remote button ready to move on when I recognized the soft strains of Aaron Espinoza’s voice coming through. The show was House MD and I’d never watched it before but I was sort of surprised to hear them play the Earlimart song “It’s OK To Think About Ending” off their awesome CD Tremble and Tremble.
I did some searching online and found that the episode in question is called “Role Model” (#17) and the song appeared right at the closing scene. So I was sort of lucky to catch it. Kind of cool, and fit the mood pretty well.
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8.11.05 | Francine – Silver Plated 606
Silver Plated 606
I heard a track from Francine off of SOMA FM and instantly needed to find out more about the band. Wow, I really liked the two songs available for download off their most recent album 28 Plastic Blue Versions of Ending Without You. These guys are masters of the unexpected (but nevertheless delicious) left-turn chord change.
The first track is called Silver Plated 606 and the chorus really showcases their talent at this. I mean the chord changes are super interesting, but are so natural that it doesn’t feel like they’re “trying” to be complex or anything. If I could point to any one band that they remind me of on this song it would have to be Heatmiser (Elliott Smith and Sam Coomes of Quasi got their start from this band). The loping tub drums and the aforementioned chord changes really remind me of “The Fix Is In” off of Mic City Sons. Their use of slightly twangy guitar with that engaging drawl led me to think of some of the Dandy Warhols’ slower songs.
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8.12.05 | Jim White – Static On The Radio
Static On The Radio
I found out about Jim White through the Sixeyes site. I’d never heard of him before but apparently he’s been releasing stuff for awhile.
This isn’t your normal everyday alt-country… the music is infused with a sort of strange, almost film-noir quality. It’s like the songs could be friendly porch tunes but refuse to sit still quietly, choosing instead to roam around under the moonlight. The track I heard was called “Static On The Radio” off of Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See and features White’s careful lurking whisper occasionally being backed up by his own falsetto. Sometimes I almost feel like this is a less quirky 6ths (Stephen Merritt) song. It has that playful but dreamy quality to it.
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8.8.05 | Laura Cantrell – 14th Street
I don’t know if it’s just me but Nashville’s Laura Cantrell has one of the sweetest and prettiest voices I’ve heard lately. This sort of came out from left field for me, because I found her music while just browsing the Matador Records site. When I think of Matador, I’m thinking Interpol and Yo La Tengo… all the big indie rock names. But Laura doesn’t really fit with that crowd, though Matador is definitely known for it’s eclectic lineup.
The first song off her new album “Humming By The Flowered Vine” is a cover of a song by Portland’s Emily Spray called “14th Street”, a catchy and straightforward (if slightly adult contemporary) pop song. A really beautiful tune actually, I could see how it would definitely catch indie label ears. It’s Cantrell’s voice that really shines through here, a combination of sweet airy vocals that ride just barely on the edge of melancholy. When she sings up higher its a bit Joni Mitchell, but when in her wheelhouse range it’s more Lori Carson.
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8.16.05 | Maarten – Pictures of a Danish Girl
Pictures of a Danish Girl
I don’t know hardly anything about this band Maarten who are a French band. But I’ve heard a few tracks off their album Pictures of a Danish Girl released in 2004 on internet radio and they are quite nice. Soft and lilting pop, like a guy version of Azure Ray at times, or perhaps less folksy Kings of Convenience. The singer actually really reminds me of the vocals of a band called Tahiti 80.
“Pictures of a Danish Girl” features wonderful strings and trumpet against a pastoral acoustic guitar arrangements. This is a very short and compact song, clocking in at less than 2 minutes long but it sure is a beautiful little track.
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8.4.05 | Pixies – Wannadoo Commercial
Now, I haven’t actually seen this commercial that features The Pixies song Velouria. Why? Because it had only been broadcast in the UK this year. That’s quite unfortunate because I would have taken The Pixies over the recent so-called punk or “emo” choices of commercial makers in the U.S. Come on you pilgrim, it’s the Pixies – ground zero for a thousand billion fascinated punks and musical imitators everywhere.
Velouria is off of their awsome Bossanova album which a lot of people have noted sounds quite different from their other albums such as Surfer Rosa and Come On Pilgrim. It’s like they’ve collected all the mayhem and roughness of their other work and distilled it into a refined dark punk album that has a really angry sheen to it. Less raw, but nevertheless engaging in a grim way.
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8.22.05 | Pony Boy – Apartment
I recently came across the music of Pony Boy, a California Bay Area band who play some fantastic mellow indie pop. The track I heard off Soma FM was “3-Day Heat Wave” which piqued my interest enough to check out their website. Say, isn’t “Pony Boy” from the “Outsiders”…
I had originally thought that all their music might be like the song 3 Day Heat Wave which mixes mid-tempo indie pop guitar arpeggios with random chatter in the background (some of which sounds like a San Jose radio or TV station). It is remarkable how some of the lead guitar work really reminds me of Merge bands like Spent or Seam. I had forgotten how that type of guitar works so well in indie pop.
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8.17.05 | Sam King – Anxious Actors
[Painting Is A Dinosaur]
A couple of very nice tunes came to us the other day from Sam King from Northwest Arkansas. The songs are off his CD The Baby & The Bathwater that he released in Spring 2005 on Painting Is A Dinosaur, a sort of music and art site collaboration vehicle of sorts with several other people.
The two songs I heard are on the quiet and folky side, with just King’s voice and an acoustic guitar. His vocals on “Anxious Actors” are less hushed than Sam Beam’s (Iron and Wine) but it feels like he is drawing his inspiration from similar place. The “new” Appalachian folk rennaisance is certainly a force to be reckoned with, or at least I think it is becoming more palatable to the average indie listener. The waltz chord progression of this song reminded me a bit of E. Smith’s Waltz No.2 .
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The Great White Jenkins
Winter of Discontent
Some cool indie pop tracks from a band called The Great White Jenkins. The songs are more on the mellow, folky side but have some nice instrumentation going on as opposed to a singer-songwriter vibe. “Winter of Discontent” has a nearly loungey feel at times but although there is that Oberst-quaver in the vocals it never turns into Bright Eyes (thankfully). The warm keyboards and kettle like drums add nice atmosphere to the song.
“Fishing Trawler” sounds a bit more expansive, like Belle and Sebastian at times. Strings and soft horns add a nice feel to the well balanced mix, and the instrumentation reminds me most of “large band” proponents such as Lambchop.
8.24.05 | The Jane Anchor – Venus
The Jane Anchor
[Lark Lane Records]
The Jane Anchor plays the kind of music that’ll settle you down out of your Godspeed Ye Black Emporer funk and make you remember why straightforward power pop can beat out experimental in a pinch. Yep, just great singing, melody and action packed drums and guitar.
Well, OK so I’m not trying to present it as simplistic music at all. On their latest CD, Second Wave, Kara Lafty leads The ‘Anchor with a semi-strident voice that is not as angry as perhaps, Sleater-Kinney, but is nonetheless extremely strong and confident. Sort of feels like Rainer Maria’s Caithlin De Marrais at times in tone.
The Jessica Fletchers
Summer Holiday & Me
Some delicious and bouncy tracks come to us from The Jessica Fletchers. And despite (or perhaps because of) the similarities in their standout 60s grinder track Summer Holiday & Me to a certain Kinks song, I feel the need to keep rewinding the tape and playing the song over and over. They really strut their chords on this track.
There is no bio on their site that I could find, but I found them through 3hive who says that they are actually from Norway. The band is made up of Thomas Innstø (lead vocal, guitar), Rune Somdal (guitar, vocal, percussion), Andreas Mastrup (bass, vocal), Jan Henning Sørensen (drums), Mats Innstø (rhodes/organ, vocal, percussion). I guess all the funny looking O’s in the names should have been a giveaway…
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The Jim Yoshii Pileup
If, like me, the first thing you wonder about The Jim Yoshii Pileup is how come they have that name when none of them is named Jim Yoshii (or let alone Jim) then prepare NOT to find the answer out here. I’ll just stick with figuring out the music thank you very much.
I’ve known about this band for a little while, I think I first heard them on Soma FM. They play their own brand of slightly mutated indie rock. I thought I actually remembered some of their other tracks being more experimental as far as atmospherics go. So I was a bit surprised that the track made available for download off their new album Picks Us Apart is actually quite smooth and and much more straighforward indie rock. It’s also damn catchy.
Continue reading “The Jim Yoshii Pileup – Silver Sparkler” …
8.3.05 | The Wowz – Happy Today
Well sit me on a porch with a washboard and break out that old time jug ‘o moonshine. The Wowz certainly put you in that sort of mood with their strange Appalachian musical ways. There’s a little bit of everything in here, country folk with drunken down harmonies, kitchen sink percussion, and the requisite banjo. But there is something strange and off kilter in the mix that makes them sound more like the Silver Jews or Bill Callahan.
The singing on “Happy Today” from their Long Grain Rights CD is pretty quirky as is the rest of the instrumentation. It sounds sort of like the boys just set up shop on grandpa’s porch and started in on the hoedown.
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8.29.05 | Tony Penultimate – I Made You Love Me
I Made You Love Me
Boy I was thrown for a loop with Tony Penultimate which is actually the pen name for Peter Brooke Turner who plays in the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and the Ukulele Kings. Apparently the Ukulele Orchestra is of some reknown across the sea though I’ve never heard of them. A whole fleet of ukuleles is something I have to hear.
But this isn’t straight up ukulele music (though Tony did write most of the songs on one). This is some campy Elvisey lounge music that hiccups through various genres in a matter of two and a half minutes. The song available on his website is “I Made You Love Me”. In fact I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or cringe with this music which takes the macaroni and cheesey feel to a new level. The coolest thing is that he’s singing the song with a completely straight face. Somehow that made it just too good to be bad, if you know what I mean.
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8.10.05 | Yo La Tengo – PBS Commercial
Yo La Tengo
Our Way To Fall
A couple of years back you might have noticed a really cool PBS commercial “interstitial” that featured a girl waking up early in the morning and heading over to the family barn to shine a flashlight on a rooster to see if that would make it crow. The song featured in the commercial was of course, Yo La Tengo’s “Our Way To Fall” from their awesome CD And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.
This was a part of a series of PBS promotionals that aired starting around 2000 (I think it’s called the “Stay Curious” campaign.) They still show some of these spots, including “Photo Booth” in which a guy takes tons of pictures of himself in an automatic photo booth singing the words to a Caruso song and then uses them as a sort of flip-book so that he can see himself sing along to the real music. But I haven’t heard the Yo La Tengo one for awhile now.
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