1.25.06 | Albumen – Lake Desolation
[Treble Hook Sounds]
The year is still mighty young, but I’ll go out on a limb and say the new Albumen record is one of the best of its “type” that I’ve listened to this year. “Type” is going to be difficult to pin down accurately, however, for their new album Lake Desolation. The songs are all over the map and underneath it, ranging from fine folk ramblings to disturbing electronic offerings to straightforward rock. Sort of like Earlimart lost somewhere in The Appalachians but with more keyboards.
I’m not gonna lie and say this won’t be a challenging album for many who are used to more straightforward neu-folk like Iron and Wine. This is folk that is RIPPED completely open. Often bathed in deep-well reverb and loads of strange blips and beeps, the songs refuse to sit still and play nice. I think this is why I dug the album so much.
Casual alternative listeners may be content to say that the singing often sounds remarkably like Michael Stipe with less of the whine (and more of the hair). However, for indie folks more in-the-know, let’s go with an initial impression of Bill Callahan (Smog) and David Berman (Silver Jews) with just the barest, barest inkling of Calvin Johnston’s (Beat Happening) bassoon-like mutterings at times.
Many of the songs are dynamic, containing quieter porch folk and that leads to forceful overdriven choruses and endings. “Circle Down” is a good example of that double-sided nature. “Silent Sunrise” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, a midtempo rocker with really infectious chords and melodies.
Continue reading “Albumen – Lake Desolation” …
1.13.06 | Blurbin’ Fridays – Jan 13
Hey there… we are going to be experimenting with a new feature at Palebear. We’ve noticed a lot of people tend to mosey over here to check out music on Fridays. So, we decided to run a TGIF feature every week called “Blurbin’ Fridays” where we present short blurbs about 5 songs as well as links to Itunes samples if they exist for some of the cool things we’ve been listening to or recently discovered indie music.
These aren’t going to be full reviews but just a basic “what’s up”. We’re also hoping this will help address the “exploding” email box filled with submissions – if we can’t do a full review of your indie band we might possibly be able to “blurb” about it instead. =)
Without further ado, here is the first Blurbin’ Friday wrap-up:
1. Holopaw – Curious
Quirky folk meandering a la Smog with wavering Palace Bros / Songs: Ohia vocals. Sometimes as insular as East River Pipe and Bill Santen. From the album: Quit +/- Fight
2. Grumpy Bear – Buckminster Fuller
Beautiful lo-fi but glittering folk songs. A three-way marriage of Kings of Convenience, Badly Drawn Boy and Trembling Blue Stars. Occasional MBV distortion tendencies and electronics lurk behind the excellent folk leanings. From the album: Hmm…I’m A Little Bit Lonely These Days
3. Southeast Engine – I’m Never Sure
Mixed alt-country bag of Wilco‘s less combustible work along with more straight-ahead country rock. Some slower folky moments but mostly uptempo, even orchestral. Note: they’re from Athens, OHIO not Athens, Georgia. From the album: Coming To Terms With Gravity
4. New Grenada – Just Inside A Week
Strange, bouncy bumble-poprock like your neighbor’s kid running amuck in a local music shop. Strident male vocals recall Imperial Teen, Built To Spill. Gal vocals … maybe Sissybar? Frenetic and wacky music that is often not of this world. From the album: Parting Shots
5. Winter Equinox – Two Eyes
Intense instrumental mix of Tortoise noodling and the louder distorted moments of Mogwai. Pell Mell southwest roadtripping comes through on a few songs, Scenic on others, but more brainy than brawny. Interesting flute and clarinet. Note: has played with Matt Pond P.A… interesting juxtaposition there. From the album: Safe and Sound
1.20.06 | Blurbin’ Fridays – Jan 20
Welcome to “Blurbin’ Fridays” Number Dos. Hope you enjoy this week’s selections:
1. Boyracer – The Sadness In You
Much fuzzier than advertised. Depending on the songs, it sometimes sounds like Tullycraft meets The Jesus and Mary Chain. Melodic punkypop mixed with bleeding pink noise distortion, now going on 15 years. From the EP Insults and Insights.
2. Red Pony Clock – Wasting Away Only got to see this band live once (the drummer played a toy kit at the time?) but heard they’ve upgraded the sound a bit since then. Sometimes akin to a circus orchestra being fronted by Nothing Painted Blue‘s Franklin Bruno playing the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Lots of kitchen sink instruments (trombone, clarinet, trumpet, bells) that are played in a jazzy hawaiian ragtime style. From the split CD w/ Cat & Dog Dialogue: Party Animals.
3. Face Parade – Backfire on The Desert Shot Leans heavily in the direction of Crooked Rain for this particular track, but with nods to Matt Pond P.A. for use of strings and more straightforward modern rock in other songs. Dorian definitely sounds like either early-Thurston or mid period-Malkmus. I dunno why I like these songs so much. Maybe that says it all. From the EP: Face Parade.
4. Constantines – National Hum
Read one description of them as “Fugazi plus Bruce Springstein” which might be more true than expected. The Toronto band could be The Sea And Cake on crack some tracks and The Hives on another. Louder modern rock tempered by tinges of alt-country leanings makes them more interesting than the usual bratty flailing going on around the country. From the album Shine A Light.
5. The Jena Campaign – You Lie
Excellent, sparsely populated indie folk pop in the style of Trembling Blue Stars, Mojave 3. “From Here To North Dakota” is also a great track. Some songs teeters on emo-ish or noise rock but thankfully do not make that leap. “No Lie” has falsetto harmony vocals and a slight country inflection. Definitely has that Nobody’s Favorite Records sound, who re-released this album last July. From the album: The Jena Campaign.
1.27.06 | Blurbin’ Fridays – Jan 27
Happy “Blurbin’ Fridays” the Third. Seems like there are more blurb Fridays lately than normal posts! Will try change that in the future. Anyhow here’s some stuff to check out:
1. Tomihira – World Class
Found this band through a link on Sixeyes. Shimmery and semi-shoegazey guitar driven by great vocals reminiscient of Wedding Present, Holiday or Tahiti 80 though more straightforward. No album currently but their debut is coming out soon, and will be called “Play Dead”. Mopey, drony goodness.
2. Dios Malos – Feels Good Being Somebody (Live)
Saw this quirky Hawthorne band play with M. Ward. They WERE called plain old Dios before until an unnamed stupid metal band decided that was infringing on their “territory”. This is a live recording of “Feels Good Being Somebody”. They often sound like country fried Grandaddy plus a side of All Night Radio. Plenty of hurky jerky, hippity hop stops and starts in the music make it disjointedly fun.
3. Don’s Mobile Barbers – The Language You Are Using Now
Know absolutely nothing about this Leicester UK band other than they have some really great songs. Awesome poppy melodic vocals a la Masters of The Hemisphere / Track Star surrounded by skronks and electronics like Grandaddy. I think they have a new album out this month.
4. James Apollo – Alamo
So-called “tumbleweed” rock may be worth a listen if you like Americana tunes infused with more than a bit of smashing drums. This one is off the album “Good Grief” and reminds me a bit of Wilco / Jack Johnson. Some great reverbed slide guitar to go with the more crunchy grit of the rock lead.
5. The Amateurs – CWX
Emotionally driven, moody songs with strange mostly minor chords. First thing I thought of when listening to this was Dirty Three but that’s because of the violin. Which by the way, is the main reason I stuck around to listen. Glad I did. Toward the end of the song it gets louder, almost like Mogwai. They’re an L.A. band though members are Frisco transplants…
1.11.06 | Cat Power – Cingular Commercial
Hanging On The Telephone
Let’s see, it is right about…. NOW that you are wondering whether or not I’ve uploaded the wrong picture for this review. That don’t look like Cat Power does it? Well, it’s not but seeing as how Chan Marshall’s latest song for television which I just heard as music for a Cingular Allover Network commercial is not available anywhere (not even on Matador’s site), I figured I wouldn’t show a picture of one of her albums because it’d have nothing to do with this post.
I keep getting scooped by the awesome Stereogum as well as thee mighty Adtunes whenever I want to mention music on TV. I just don’t watch enough TV I guess. Oh wells. Anyhow, since Marshall’s take of the song “Hanging On The Telephone” is actually a cover of Blondie’s popular cover of The Nerves 1978 original song, I decided to dispense with Debbie Harry and go all the way back to The Nerves. To make things even more confusing, I couldn’t find the original album that The Nerves recorded this track on. The only place I could find it on was this “Come Out And Play” 1975-1978 Power Pop Anthology. Weird!
Anyhow, I had heard the song while watching a hockey game and I knew right away it was probably Chan Marshall… she has a pretty distinctive voice although I’ve been fooled before (the Adidas commercial featuring Karen O is a good example). The music is quite cool as well, though as I said before you need to actually catch the commercial in order to hear it. Some day the marketing geniuses will learn to make these things available somewhere… it just really seems like shooting yourself in the foot.
(P.S. the Itunes link actually goes to Blondie, because they don’t seem to have The Nerves version of the song on Itunes.)
1.4.06 | Chad VanGaalen – Infiniheart
Chances are quite good that you’ve heard of Chan VanGaalen by now, or you’re about to hear his songs this year. The Calgary busker turned Sub Pop signee has enjoyed a good amount of well-deserved press lately. I got sent a copy of his debut Infiniheart awhile back and I’ve been listening to it quite a bit, though I only got to write up about it now.
Earlier in his career, VanGaalen would simply record his own CD-Rs full of his music on a multitrack recorder and then sell or hand these limited editions out at shows and to his friends. The undeniable quality of the music got a buzz going, and it didn’t take long for major indies to come a-sniffin’.
On his debut, he is equally adept at soaring indie rock on songs like “Clinically Dead” (which I feel really recalls The Shins), dusty porch folk a la Will Oldham on “After the Afterlife” and pseudo Postal Service electronics on “Kill Me In My Sleep”. And that’s only the first 3 songs on the album! “J.C.’s Head On The Cross” mutters along like some Folk Implosion outtake, while “Somewhere I Know There Is Nothing” has a My Morning Jacket vibe going. The rest of the songs are all equally inventive and quirky in their genre shifting.
Continue reading “Chad VanGaalen – Infiniheart” …
1.30.06 | East River Pipe Podcast
Merge Records has jumped into the whole podcast thingy and their first offering is a nice little 20 minute song-n-speak by East River Pipe‘s meticulously downtrodden F.M. Cornog.
This is kind of cool to actually hear Cornog speak, because we were involved in a fun web interview with him last year on Shmat. (East River Pipe interview is here). The interview contains five songs from his latest and 6th release “What Are You On?”: “What Would T.S. Eliot Say?”, “The Ultrabright Bitch”, “Drug Life”, “I’ll Walk My Robot Home”, and “Life Is A Landfill”. If you haven’t already heard his music before you can already guess from the titles that he often writes about the seedier side of life using insular little song capsules that are recorded at home using primitive but effective tools.
Although he’s always been known for his bare bones production, the vocals on these songs seem especially telephonized like he’s singing through a tin can almost. For me, a few of the tracks even start to cross over into Sparklehorse territory. But these are just as great to me as his older work; naked and immediate semi-autobiographical songs without the window dressing. (Side note: “Life Is A Landfill” contains a keyboard line that sounds an awful like it is using one of the synth modulators from Reason.)
The actual podcast contains the abovementioned songs sandwiched between Cornog delivering what sounds like a nonchalant and even deadpan sermon about the origins and inspirations for them.
(Footnote: You might notice this is not exactly a “CD review”. Well, Palebear is going to start including podcast and music news coverage from time to time to supplement the reviews that are coming out. We also may be adding coverage for local indie shows as well as band interviews. Stay tuned.)
1.18.06 | Love Is Chemicals – Claw Your Sweater
Love Is Chemicals
Claw Your Sweater
[Near Earth Objects]
So you say that Weezer’s “Sweater Song” is the only one worth listening to? Then let me introduce you to the fantastic band Love Is Chemicals whose song “Claw Your Sweater” has been burning a hole in my ear for the past couple months now.
With it’s penchant for noisy distortion at times, you wouldn’t call this band straightforward poprock. But the delicious, anthemic chorus of “I know better than to claw your sweater with my crooked fingers how they creep you out” is amazingly catchy. The two bands that I feel Love Is Chemicals remind me of at times are Masters of the Hemisphere (in the vocals especially) and The Dismemberment Plan (for the crazier passages). With its wicked smart instrumentation and tasteful melodies, “Claw Your Sweater” is the delicious type of brainy bumblerock that indiebees will buzz about happily for hours.
The other songs on their self titled debut album are just as great… I like the fact that they are experimental but remain really conscious of the actual songs. Their music doesn’t descend into either God Speed Ye Black Indulgence but it’s challenging and arty enough to require a few listens to really get into. I don’t know too much else about this San Francisco based band, but their songs are definitely worth checking out when you get a chance.
1.25.06 | Postal Blue – The World Doesn’t Need You
The World Doesn't Need You
Delicious indiepop from Brazil’s Postal Blue is made even more tasty by the fact that it’s being released on the totally cool microlabel Humblebee Recordings up in Edmonton, Canada. (You may remember the label putting out the excellent State of Samuel record for their inaugural release).
Although their new EP Road to Happiness isn’t yet released as of this writing, you can find one track from it called The World Doesn’t Need You off of the Humblebee site. The trio is Adriano, André, and Ismael and play a great brand of sunny but laid back indiepop. Adriano’s vocals are slightly reserved and delicately sung over melodic guitar, bass and drums. You’re definitely going to hear some people compare them to Belle and Sebastian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I’m sure it’s a compliment most of the time.
But I’m actually also reminded of the band Holiday, though I feel Postal Blue is more straightforward in their pop structure, and more jangly on the guitar chords. Great electric guitar janglin’ on this track, by the way… not as loud as that of Teenage Fanclub but definitely an integral part of the song. This is the only song I’ve heard off the EP though, so I can’t speak for the rest of the tracks. However, this one is very, very good and a perfect little sugar capsule to pop into your Ipod.
You can visit the Postal Blue website for more info on the band.