8.8.07 | Between The Pine – S/T EP
Between The Pines
I’ve run across the music from this band quite a few times already over the past couple months, so I finally decided to make a proper post about them. Between the Pine actually has a free EP available at the 80H Records site, so there’s no excuse to give them a listen. If you like mopy lo-fi acoustic songs, you’ll be glad you downloaded the 3 songs. They also have a full length available on Itunes and CDBaby and I believe they’re currently working on a new album.
The three songs are beautiful, sparsely populated, somewhat folksy tunes that seem informed from such diverse musical sources as Sea and Cake, Tarnation, Norfolk and Western, Birddog and Ponies In The Surf (and other Asaurus bands).
I’m making all this stuff up out of my ass again – rather than reading my lame attempts to compare them to various bands, why not just go and download these amazing songs yourself and see?
weird song, sequenced to an old Casper the Friendly Ghost film
Between The Pine website
8.18.07 | Imperial Teen
I have to admit I’m kinda surprised that Imperial Teen is still alive and kickin’. I got into them pretty early on, right when they released Seasick and they’ve remained a staple in my Ipod “Walking Music” playlist because of their bouncy pop masterpieces. Turns out that they’re back with a new album on Merge after 5 years or so.
They’re sorta getting on their in years – I mean Roddy and company weren’t exactly young to start with when they started playing as Imperial Teen. Dude, Will used to look (and slightly sound like) this wiry young punk – now he’s aged Lee Ranaldo-like complete with a little wisp of gray hair in the front.
But, then who cares what they look like, right? In their press photos it’s like they’re almost embracing their middle-agedness gleefully. “So pretty” indeedy. And their album, “The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band” has some of the same simple yet strong tunes that made me like them in the first place. “Shim Sham” stands out as one of the hits, and while they’ve definitely found a successful formula to milk again, it ain’t no lazy cow. By the way, the album is available to be streamed at Merge…
Imperial Teen website
8.2.07 | Palebear Blurbs – Aug 2
Ah yes, the blurbs are back. Did you know there is some truly wonderful indie music from the Baltimore, MD and surrounding area? Here are just a few:
1. Warning – Monarch (Madder Rose meets Rilo Kiley, hint of Tengo)
2. Colored Lenses – The Seldon Plan (Posies and Nada Surf and Fanclub)
3. Heartbeats – Thrushes (Jesus and Mary Chain meets Loquat and Cat Power)
4. A Better Way – Private Eleanor (Amanset, a little Posies)
5. Apple Orchard – Beach House (early Elk City, Mazzy Star, Cat Power)
8.22.07 | Palebear Blurbs – Aug 22
Various bands whose CDs I haven’t been able to write up in full:
1. Strings Break – The Union Trade (Shoegazey and Hazy)
2. The Boy Who Loved Birds – Heroes and Heroines (Good Morning Butterglory)
3. I Always See The Sun Rise – Little Name (OMG Belle and Sebastian OMG)
4. Eohippus – Justin Potts (Elliott The Letter Ostrich whistling Beck)
5. What We Had – Handsome Furs (Chad Van Gaalen meets Modest Mouse)
8.8.07 | The Cape May – Glass Mountain Roads
The Cape May
Glass Mountain Roads
Here’s another great album that got lost in the shuffle. The Cape May gives you a moody soundtrack of not-quite-post rock that calls to mind the subdued angst in Pedro the Lion and Bedhead matched with some of the complexity of the artsy Chicago rock scene and the more complex denizens on Touch and Go. Oh, and by the way they’re yet another Canadian band – seem to see a lot of good bands from Canada that play this type of music.
The focus is on dreamy soundscapes and musical textures rather than bang-em-out 4 minute pop gems. Needless to say, it might take a few listens to get really comfortable with the album. However, their occasional Built to Spill prog-like excursions don’t leave you with the uncomfortable feeling that they’re out to try to prove some musical theory. I find that happens sometimes with bands that play this type of music.
The experimental stuff is heavily tempered by a layering of instruments like various strings, accordian, keyboard and theremin. The acoustic leanings of the band sort of remind me of Norfolk and Western at times. Vocally, I hear the aforementioned David Bazan along with something like Thom Yorke plus maybe Jason Molina. This is a solid, interesting CD that earned its place in my CD collection the hard way through repeated listening.
Glass Mountain Roads
8.31.07 | The High Water Marks – Polar
The High Water Marks
Hi there. I just spent about 40 minutes looking for a photo of the cover of the new High Water Marks CD “Polar” for this review. Hint to bands: please put up a high res image of your front cover BEFORE you send out yer stuff. The reason is I am so darn lazy to connect my scanner up and import the image. Thanks muchly (and yes, they had a smaller image on HHBTM but I need a 130×130 image for all the reviews, and yes I’m obsessive compulsive like that in that I absolutely have to have a perfect sized image and hate upsampling).
But anyhow, whew, now I’m glad I actually wrote about that because I swore to myself that I wouldn’t start off this post with the phrase “The High Water Marks earn high marks…” because I was sure that someone else had used it (or would think to use it). But yeah, they do earn high marks for all the songs on their latest poppy and tuneful release. There are really excellent songs here – definite sounds like E6, maybe Beulah or Apples. I feel they’re a little more straightforward forward and less twee-ish, though.
According to their bio, I’m not supposed to call them an indie “supergroup” of any sorts. But darn, when you know that members hail from Apples In Stereo, Palermo and Oranger it all starts to make sense. And this definitely dovetails nicely with the used copy of Oranger’s “New Comes and Goes” release I picked up the other day. Energetic, head-bopping stuff out on HHBTM that is getting its own temporary playlist slot on my Ipod for now.
Songs About The Ocean
The Val Papadins
No One Wants To Move The Piano
I’m trying to decide if the Val Papadins put me in more of a “smoky jazz nightclub lounge” type of mood or a “backwater deserted Mojave Desert road” type of mood. I’m sorta leaning toward the latter feeling, even though the vocals on the CD are definitely going for that Walkman / Waits battered and bruised vibe. I don’t know too much about the band except that they are from Northern Cal, I believe the Sonoma area? If that’s indeed their origins, it would make sense that their music sounds the way it does. I drove through that area twice and except for the wine-seeking tourists, it’s a sleepy, slightly lonesome town – just perfect to make music like this.
As far as band comparisons go, it’s a bit difficult to put a finger on it – but the Walkmen comparison is fair. For me, I actually like the music which is ominous and uneasy, but not so much that it makes you feel like heading for the hills. There is something very unsettling about this band that made me leave the CD in the player – kind of like how you end up picking up a sketchy hitchhiker that you probably shouldn’t have.
On certain songs the singing sounds almost like Frank Black, but not as screechy. The additional instrumentation includes piano, mandolin, ebow, accordian (or melodica?) and definitely contributes to the slightly creepy atmosphere. Many songs have a sort of faster folk, south-western or alt-country feel to them.
The Val Papadins on Myspace
No One Wants To Move The Piano
Val Papadins website
8.15.07 | Tramplini – Hallo, Mazie!
I don’t normally get to many CDs sent from Latvia. Oh, heck with it – I haven’t EVER gotten a CD from Latvia. The lady at the post office was like, you have friends there? I’ve given up trying to explain to them that everyone and their mom will send CDs from any number of countries – they just don’t get why people send me stuff.
Since I haven’t gotten any other music from Latvia, I don’t have anything to compare Tramplini to. (And by the way, you are going to forgive me in advance if I omit some of the punctuation on any of the titles and stuff, because everything’s in Latvian?) But it doesn’t matter what country this CD/EP is from. “Hallo, Mazie” is, how do you say, Amazieng. Haha.. ahaha.
Really, it is. In fact, it’s one of the best releases I’ve gotten from bands so far this summer, not counting the obvious bigger indie ones. The sound would fit right in with some of the best smaller indie pop bands in the States. According to their Myspace, they formed in 1997 and this their second EP. Some of the comparisons might be to Luna, Viva Voce, Yum-Yum, Yo La Tengo, Amanset, Imperial Teen, and Joy Zipper. The list could go on too… I just hear so many different bands that I like in their style, which is a delicious sort of slo-core meets indie pop.
The EP starts off with the laid back and lazy pop gem “Pargajiens”. I love the use of keyboards and the tiny bells in the background. I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying, and it simply doesn’t matter at all. That might be a good indicator of how good the band is. I’m sure it would add to the songs to know the words they’re singing, but unlike many bands who sing in languages I don’t understand, I’m able to enjoy it for the music.
One of my favorite tracks is “Tas Pats” which completely switches gears by adding distortion and drone. It sounds a bit like Yo La Tengo’s cover of Little Honda plus a Viva Voce song plus a bit of My Bloody Valentine. I like the understated vocals on this one, as well as the trumpet squeals and keyboard in the middle section. That one middle part is pretty much as experimental as they get, however.
A lot of times they do remind me of Luna, and the song “Sobizness” is a perfect example. This could be taken right out of Luna’s “Penthouse” album. Great vibrato on the electric guitar, a mellow beat, simple chords and understated vocals. So nice. “Rudeni” has a beautifully chiming drone going on with vocals that really remind me of Yum-Yum while the music might be a Masters of the Hemisphere song.
“Millenia” is an instrumental piece with a loping sort of groove that might be part of a Tristeza album. As a bonus, there’s a video for “Tas Pats” on the EP, though you can also find that on Gootube. I dunno if I’ve done described in justice how good the songs are, you’ll have to listen to them yourself. But for me, I have not been able to stop listening to their songs for a few weeks now.
Tas Pats on Gootube
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