Category : Lo-Fi
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.
Continue reading “Armored Frog – Blasted Record Effect” …
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
Turns out Bill Callahan, one of my favorite grumblyfolkers, is coming out with a new album in April called Woke On A Whaleheart. Couldn’t find any advance tracks on the Drag City site, but here are some recent videos to keep you going until they do get some tracks. Ah yes – some good ‘ol Cold Blooded ‘ol Times…
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” …
Out of about 25 CDs I just pulled out of the “queue” to see if they were worth reviewing, Chauchat was the only band left standing at the end. How’s that for an endorsement.
I haven’t yet figured out what it is exactly about a particular type of music that encourages me not to gravitate toward the recycle bin. I wasn’t this way before. It’s definitely not a certain style of music, more of a general feel to it.
I decided in my head that what I made of Chauchat was some sort of engaging blend of East River Pipe, Galaxie 50, My Bloody Valentine and Band of Horses. Maybe Sonic Youth on the louder passages. I thought I was so original (especially with the Galaxie 500 reference which is definitely there as early as the 2nd song on the album). Then I went to read the review on the website that noted Galaxie 500 and Sonic Youth and was little bummed – but hey, at least I was on target. Tyler’s singing style sort of reminds me of the guy from Clinic at times. Also there’s more than a touch of a 90s shoegaze thing hanging around in the background.
Like F.M. Cornog’s ability to translate simple tune and melody into a shimmering space of goodness, Tyler Whitney loads up song after song of excellent but restrained roughness. Bandmates Chris Clunk, Mike Musser and Erik Sahd help to create that broken, inner beauty that all great bands possess. They have the ability to manufacture sonic strength and levitation from musical aspects that would be fatal weaknesses in other bands. Really great stuff.
[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.
Continue reading “Doveman – Honey” …
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.
Continue reading “Earlimart – House MD Show” …
Man, amazing. I’m back reviewing. What happened? I don’t know. Got bored. Decided to write in short sentences. Well.
At least some review packages have gotten through the post office blockade, so for now I’m keeping the address the same. Please let me know if you’re getting them returned.
Ok, so this is supposed to be a review. Here it is: the more I listen to Eux Autres the better they sound. How’s that for a major cliche-o-matic. Yay! The Portland band’s newest CD is Cold City and I have to admit I nearly put it aside until I heard a few tracks on SOMA and looked to see who it was. Shamefaced, I retrieved the CD from the “discard” pile.
Janet Weiss (a heroine of many) had a hand in the recording of their album. Not surprising there might be a few Sleater-esque moments starting with “Gratte-Ciel” and “When I’m Up.” But hey, before we even get into that I have to say that the initial 2 songs of the CD tread a different indie line: think Tullycraft plays Pants Yell! plays Masters of the Hemisphere for “The Deadball Era.” And for “Molly” let’s go That Dog plays with Slumber Party.
Whew, ok I used up all my references in one fell swoop. Oh what the hell, one more try: for “Anne Boleyn” let’s go Life Pursuit era Belle and Sebastian meets Field Mice. Regardless, the indie pop rings true on this album. I have to say that again that Masters of the Hemisphere RIYL really comes out on one of my favorite tracks, “Collision Theory.” Interesting Frenchiness also occurs occasionally. Overall: tres delicious.
When I’m Up
Eux Autres website
Gregg Yeti And The Best Lights
If you’re wondering what’s with all the reviews on the same day, the way it works over here is that there’s a long, long, long, farking long queue of music. Every so often, I need to purge that queue so that I can reclaim space on my floor and in the closets. I haven’t done this in nearly 6 months. So there’s some “purging” afoot. I usually review about 10% of what I receive – the rest gets recycled or sent to the thrift. Yep, it has to be this way. Otherwise, I would be writing reviews in my sleep. Not that I’m doing that now.. Zzz =)
Back to reviewing – another CD that’s up my alley is Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights. A little dose of slacker-90s lo-fi-aesthetic pop is sometimes just what you need to get you out of the neu-Coldplay doldrums… OK, after I wrote that, I was thinking that I RIYL-ed a little hastily. It’s not slacker GBV-ish, not even close. There is, however, a sort of laid back feel to the songs and the voice.
Never mind that the long title (“Heart Palpitations of The Rich & Famous”) sure challenges my blog’s reformating prowess. There’s some great keeper tracks here – Gregg’s singing and the song structures are very Sebadoh-ish. Most of the songs aren’t aggro – they’re the more introspective ones. Maybe some New Pornographers in here as well? There’s also some even more mellow, dare I say shoe-gazeyness, going on in songs like “Colonize Your Eyes”. And “Building Houses” sounds almost like an Ida song.
Mr. Yeti enlists a few others to help out with singing and other duties, but for the most part he plays all the instruments. Out on Eskimo Kiss…
Iron and Wine
The Shepherd's Dog
Regular readers of Palebear (all 3-4 of you) will note that I love to complain. I love to hijack other people’s reviews to spout forth my own nefarious propaganda from upon the blog soapbox. I love to put a damper on the party with doom and gloom about the current direction of the music biz. I love to self-aggrandize with exaggerated and mixed metaphors.
Well, this review is going to be another of those. So I apologize in advance to anyone who’s here looking for a real Bitchforkian or Rolling Boneian review of Iron and Wine’s new album The Shepherd’s Dog. Go view those publications to get the real, actual scoop by writers that are paid millions of bucks.
But really, Mr. Sam Beam doesn’t need any of my help. The album is quite different from his earlier ones and if you’ve gone straight through from those skipping the Woman King EP or the Boy with a Coin single, you might be a bit shocked. But add those little releases in (and note the ubiquitous Postal Service cover) and you’ll see that there’s continuity; the direction he was going in was easily foreshadowed by those EPs and he continues to hold the torch of one of the best bands currently on Sub Pop.
I really like the album, although he’s muted the lo-fi Appalachian folk presentation in favor of fuller instrumentation. Beam’s voice still, well, BEAMS – a bright beacon on songs that in others hands might be bloated currency filled with unnecessary meandering. I suspect that far from alienating his current fans, he’s bound to pick up a few new ones, maybe some avant-garde musicologists and those who thought that his earlier work was too hushed or slow. A few songs are sorta wacky – in particular I thought the end of “Wolves (The Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)” was positively funky street. But there’s enough of the old folky Beam in the other songs to tide me over until he the day where he goes completely back to his old stuff. I dunno if he will do that, though – I think he’s too restless musically to go for a reprise of “Creek”.
Ok, so I promised some complaining. You can just skip down to the links below if you’d rather not hear it. Here is my unstructured grousing: I’m a part-time music reviewer who’s supposed to reviewing for “fun”. Long ago, I gave up any illusions of making a career out of this. I’m just not a good enough wordsmith to command music-moola from Spin and too old to be a collegiately wide-eyed music reviewer who writes reams of reviews for free just because “it’s the music, man.”
No, it’s gotta be that I write for 1. “Fun” in my spare time 2. The dubious pleasure of receiving promos in advance of the music buying public.
Let’s talk about “Fun”. Sure, it’s fun to write about an album once in awhile. However, the catch is that if you can write a halfway decent review (or, as it’s come down to, even a decent 100 word blurb), then bands, songwriters, record labels and publicity houses by the thousands will beat a path to your door. There are just so many emails and packages that I get from these people, who I actually sympathize with. We used to run a record label and it was so difficult trying to figure out who to send stuff to. So when you did find a music reviewer that you thought was good and whose taste fit the style of what you were releasing, you’d be sure to send them a CD.
But it’s a Catch-22 for a one-man reviewing operation: the better and more open you are, the more stuff that you receive and the more your workload increases, and consequently the greater the chance of the quality of your writing suffering. And at some point, it stops being “fun” and more like a job. But, as I’ve said I’m just not into working myself to the bone for free. I don’t have a crapload of time or patience on hand. You just get Burnt Out On Blogs™.
So, it comes down to this. Other than to unburden myself in diatribes like this or to promote the occasional release that I absolutely feel needs to be supported because it’s such a great album and no one knows about it, I’m writing for the occasional feeling of Specialness. The great feeling that, hey, look I got an album from one of my favorite songwriters – and I got it before anyone else did, and for free, and it’s such an awesome album. And I get to talk about it so my 3 readers will know what its like before it comes out Whoo-hoo! I rock!
And then I go on the internet and it turns out that the album has already been in the filesharers hands for months.
I hate to dredge up cliches, but digital music is such a blessing and a curse for people involved in music. On the one hand you’ve got super-wide distribution and a larger audience, and on the other hand, that same ease of accesibility makes it so easy for people to get music without paying for it. I’m not going to get all high and mighty – I don’t use the filesharing systems, but I’ve gotten music illegally for free online before. Guilty.
So maybe it’ll seem I’m somewhat of a petulant hypocrite to say this – but man, you gotta give me SOMETHING to keep me writing reviews day in and day out for free. My love of music is large, but reviewing just cannot exist in a vacuum for long unless you’re in college or being paid by the word. I need to be able to feel that I got something out of it, and I get sort of depressed by all the MP3s being slung like jai-alai balls between people who have no idea that they are slowly but surely KILLING the one thing that sometimes keeps me writing.
CDs aren’t worth anything nowadys. Trust me, I’ve gone to Amoeba and tried to sell back copies of CDs. I think I tried to sell back 100 CDs and they took maybe 3. So if CDs aren’t worth the paper and plastic they’re made out of, and the songs are already online for free, what’s so special about receiving a promo?
A side note: this is recently why I’m interested in vinyl LPs. At least there’s something physical there to collect. Please do send me all the promo LPs you have!
If I was a much more sane music reviewer, I’d just ignore all that shit and just count myself lucky that I’m in the game. I do get promos, sometimes even fairly far in advance. I get to compete with 500,000,000 or so other indie music review bloggers for the attention of the music-buying public. I get to occasionally receive snide comments on posts (thank you, to the few who do actually write nice comments). I get to wade, nay swim through manilla envelopes and online press releases for fun. I get to be ignored by a lot of big major music blogs that I try to make friends with, but when I do happen to make a small complaint about them in a post, I get a one word comment or sad face from them in return and then they go back to ignoring me. I get to feel guilty about not reviewing really great indie bands even though they really deserve a well-written review.
Oh, it’s a wonderful life. But for some reason I just refuse to play along. </endrant>
p.s. Subpop reps, please ignore this post. =)
The Second Shortcoming
[Workaholics on Holiday]
Rather nice, little buzzy indie pop album from Denmark’s Low Fire. It’s out on Workaholics on Holiday which I believe is an arm of BSBTA, who’s releases we’ve occasionally reviewed. The songs span a whole bunch of genres, from twee to c86 to pop punk. The band is the alias of Niklas Steffensen, but I believe he employs a bunch of buddies in the recordings.
I don’t have the time to go through all the tracks – but I just want to say that “Ringing In Yr Ears” could’ve been a Death Cab B-side track. Easily. A whole lot of songs (in Guided By Voices fashion) mean that there’s a lot of listening to do here. That might turn off some, especially if you don’t “get” lo-fi. But for those with the patience, there are some nice rough gems here and there in the mix. Good stuff…
Low Fire website
Adventure, Bless, and Don't Be Sorry
Though he now plays under his own name, you might have come across Mike Downey’s musical contributions in the past without knowing it. He’s been a member of the legendary indie band Wolfie and enjoyed stints in Mathlete, National Splits, and The New Constitution.
His latest album, “Adventure, Bless and Don’t Be Sorry” packs some unabashedly electronic musings (throwback to Mathelete perhaps) against honest troubadour-style indie pop. The production sounds a bit 4 track-ish which fits well with the heartfelt songs. Downey’s vocals are fairly high and a bit squirrely, often reminding me of Mac from Superchunk, Chad VanGaalen, or even Doug Martsch. The music, however, is more electronically dreamy and contemplative than rockin’, though definitely beat driven overall. Even a bit twee at times. It could be a bit of Field Mice plus Postal Service plus Tullycraft perhaps?
“You’ve Your Spy Map Out” could definitely be Postal Service. You know what though – I actually think Downey’s voice works better than Gibbard’s against this type of music. “Oh, Randomness” reminds me of a Future Bible Heroes track (the same goes for the later track”Event Camera”).
“Judge On The Horn” has a great beat and guitar melody going. Another particular favorite is the semi-anthemic “Rats Were Comrades”. The descending bassline melody of “House / Hotel” was also kind of fun. Though the songwriting in general is pretty top notch, he is just as likely to throw some more experimental drum beats at you, as he is try to win you over with shiny bedroom pop gems. Kinda cool to have that jumpiness going at all times.
I’ve been enjoying a few tracks from Oh! Custer lately… I’d meant to post about them after seeing them on another music blog months ago. (I keep wanting to call them “Oh! Custard”, no offense to the guys) Don’t know too much about the band except they are a Swedish duo who play some great melodic shoegazey songs. Reminds me a little bit of East River Pipe plus Galaxie 500, with Peter Bjorn and John singing. There’s a bit of a lo-fi twee thing going on in the background, but the chords are very dreamy sounding. The two songs listed below are from their EP “Leaves”, but I think they have another EP that’s coming out soon (or already out?) called “States”.
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.
Continue reading “Pony Boy – Apartment” …
[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 .
Continue reading “Sam King – Anxious Actors” …
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.
Continue reading “Snoozer – Legal Tender” …
A few weeks ago I was absolutely flabbergasted while typing something on the computer to hear the opening words of a Stephen Malkmus song on the TV that was on in the background. “Wake up early in Karakatu, Alaska / We put our masks on to welcome the dawn” isn’t the sort of lyrics that the average commercial will contain so I looked up immediately to watch it.
It was a commercial for a 13 hour sale at Sears that was playing on ESPN2 of all places. I can’t believe that they would choose the second song “Phantasies” out of all of them from his older self-titled album. Way to go Sears. Since then, I’ve seen the commercial about 4 or 5 times on other stations like CBS and Food Network.
Continue reading “Stephen Malkmus – Sears Commercial” …
Life In A Birdcage
[Box 13 Records]
Initial Thoughts on Sudden Ensemble‘s album “Life In A Birdcage”:
1. Slightly atonal indie rock is “interesting” at 8:30am in the morning.
2. “Beautiful Shape” is a shambling beautiful shape.
3. “Combustion Blues” is an earful!
4. Robert Pollard vs. Sudden Ensemble in a barfight: not sure who would win yet.
5. I bet this album could get good airplay on KXLU.
6. I like their haircuts.
Despite the fact that I’ve been listening to more mellow stuff lately, I took a shine to this release for its sheer audacity and gritty lo fi texture. Imagine Beat Happening or Will from Imperial Teen singing over Guided By Voices or early Sebadoh (Jason’s) tracks. Some of the stuff is rather bluesy, but in a good way. You’re also going to think this is weirdness – but certain songs really remind me of Apples in Stereo. Or Sissybar. Especially that last track. I dunno why. Wait, actually that one reminds me of a Sonic Youth song. I can’t decide.
My favorite song so far is the rockin’ “Bonfire” but others are just as good and, er, “challenging”. The CD definitely has moments where it veers toward the experimental. Fair warning to all. But I have to say that after the morning coffee kicked in, this was a pretty fun listen. Ah yes, that peaceful uneasy feeling…
In Comfort's Tight Clothes
This isn’t the album cover for Surrounded‘s upcoming release, but actually a Deep Elm Records release from 2003 called “Safety In Numbers”. Still, I wanted to post about them because I recently received a three song demo for the upcoming release and it was totally amazing.
Imagine the more structured “Vivadixie…”-era Sparklehorse songs and you’ve got a good idea of Surrounded’s shimmering, intimate rock songs. The first track off the sample disc was “In Comfort’s Tight Clothes” and it’s almost too close to Mark Linkous material for comfort. The Swedish band (oh yes, we do like bands from Sweden and yes, the country should be known for more than just winning the Olympic gold in hockey) creates a very dreamy soundscape to house Marten Rydell’s whispery vocals. Truly amazing song there.
Not only is the music very much in the Sparklehorse vein, but the imagery in the sprase yet evocative lyrics really reminds me of Linkous too, especially on “Bolder Acrobat.” Still, there is something very different about them and the music that I can’t quite put my finger on.
“Terra Firma Legion Farewells” is a beautifully hushed tune containing keyboards or strings reminiscient of Mercury Rev or Air, with an AM radio broadcrast in the background. The song later expands to include drums and chiming guitars before fading out quietly.
When I first heard these songs I sorta forgot about the 35 CDs in line in front of them for review and jumped them up to the top of the stack. So, you can imagine I’m going to be keeping an eye out for their full release which is happening ? For now, you can visit the site and listen to tracks off of their older album.
Marten Rydell – vocals, guitar
Marcus Knutsson – guitar
Erik Edwardsson – drums
Tom Malmros – bass
Albums available on Itunes:
Safety In Numbers (Deep Elm 2003)
The Lil' Hospital
As a sign of just how shmattily crazy the Shmat’s joint PO box has gotten lately, he has not gotten to listen to The Lil’ Hospital’s latest until just this very minute. But what a great record! The Shmat has already been familiarized with the jumpin’, twee-bumpin’, ego-less stompin’ indie pop greatness that the Hospital put forth in a flood from their earlier “I Wanna Be Well” album (Best Friends Records).
The newest release is called “Heavy Metal” and stumbles giddily into your living room via Total Gaylord Records. Most of the same auditory hallmarks are still there: the sweet ‘n perfect melodies that make you sway like palm trees, the Beach Boys – Barbara Ann “live room recording” feel, and the great choruses that are so insistently delicious that the Shmat feels like dancing and peeing at the same time. This record sounds a bit cleaner and the songs sound a bit more structured than previous outings. It’s still great and immediate indie pop, yet it seems to grab and yank at yer heartstrings even harder.
At this point the Shmat needs to talk about the “Swede Connection”. Oh, he knows quite well that head-Hospitaleer Kevin Alvir is not from Sweden. But shmat-darned if he still reminds the Shmat heavily of some of his fave Swedish indiepoppers. That would include The State of Samuel of course. If you’re looking for non-Swedish references, they could be: Tullycraft, Butterglory, Pants Yell!, Boyracer and The Gerbils.
Continue reading “The Lil’ Hospital – Heavy Metal” …
A La Carte
[Best Friends Records]
I’ve been a fan of The Maybellines’ semi-twee style of indie pop ever since their Shelflife EP release. I was recently passed their new EP “A La Carte” off of Best Friends Records and was happy to note that the quality of the songs have continued to shine brilliantly. This is indiepop in its most vibrant and yummy colors, but what I like about the band is that they balance the sweetness so nicely that you won’t get musical toothaches.
Denverites Mike, Julie, Al and Dave sidestep obvious comparisons to twee-minded faves like Tullycraft by writing terrific songs that are a little less jokey and pretty melodic, but still extremely fun to listen to. Julie’s vocals are light and airy (sometimes almost like Stereolab or Broadcast) and fit well with stripped down electric guitar riffs and the simple but nicely thumpin’ drum beats. Sometimes they feel a little bit like the great indiepop band Sissybar, though again the emphasis is more on the songs themselves than novelty.
Continue reading “The Maybellines – A La Carte” …
The State of Samuel
Here Come The Floods
[Humblebee / Total Gaylord]
I have a confession to make. I completely sat on the Here Come The Floods when it was released in October 2007. I wanted to see how long I could keep the ebullient, effervescent elephant locked in its box. It turns out my willpower is unfortunately high, and I didn’t write about the album until today when it came bursting out onto the page thusly:
“Oh my god there is a new The State of Samuel record, and oh my god it is just as good if not slightly better than the previous one, and oh my god this is at least the 4th or 5th best album I’ve listened to this year, and oh my god I can’t believe this guy is not signed to a major indie, and oh my god there is too much caffeine in my tea…”
Ok, so it wasn’t exactly like that. But in a way it was. I still think Samuel Petersson is some sort of unheralded Swedish pop genius. The songs are buzzy, summery gems, perfect for warming you up in the coming winter. Residents of gloom rejoice…
The State Of Samuel website
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.
Continue reading “The Wowz – Happy Today” …
[Central District Records]
We’ve heard the Strike Date 12″ record from the Wavering Saints before and found it quite pleasant as far as quirky indie rock goes. I’m not even going to mention the “other” famous indie band from Stockton because that might draw too-obvious comparisons.
I will say that there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the band who releases music on Central District Records. There is little info to be had on them through the website… they are certainly letting the music speak for itself. The latest EP they’ve put out is the Collusion CD EP and it continues nicely where Strike Date left off. It’s strange that the songs have a slightly lo-fi and buzzy sound to them, yet sound so much more expansive and spacious than the typical bedroom boombox band. I don’t want to say the songs are “epics” in any sense, but the way are structured just feels bigger or something.
“Subtle Believers” kicks thing off with a great rocker that motors along like a Yo La Tengo song but with vocals by Mike Kinsella. “Strike Date” (interestingly, I don’t think this song was on the actual Strike Date 12″??) mellows out with slower guitar that reminds me of some good old school Freed Weed era Sebadoh. “Homeless Teeth Transportation” turns into delicious noise rock.
Continue reading “Wavering Saints – Collusion” …