Archive for the 'Song of the Day' Category

Oct 08 2008

Pretty & Nice – Get Young

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Pretty & Nice’s first release for Hardly Art, Get Young, is officially out! My vow of silence is finally broken! I’ve had this album for two months and omgomgomgomg it is overwhelmingly good. (That has been building up for some time – I’m relieved I could express it in print so as to save myself the physical embarrassment of flailing my hands and jumping up and down.) I had the fortune of doing an interview with them 2 months ago for another magazine I wrote for (you can find it here) and have obsessed over this album ever since.

It took six months to record Get Young in their own all-analog, basement studio, putting in long hours and agonizing over every slight detail, staying up late in the night to record a sequence of bells on “Gypsy,” inviting friends to stomp and hoot at the end of “Pixies” and layering the hell out of each song with an armada of instruments scattered throughout their home. The result: their songcraft is unique and infinitely charming; the album progresses from frenetic punk epic to to sagacious pop classic, blending abrasive guitars bursting from broken amps with subtle vocoder hooks and pretty, oh-so-pretty pop falsetto. The guitars on “Pixies,” lilting and winding, are a melange of late Of Montreal and early Queens of the Stone Age, while the immaculate closure of “Wandering Eye” hits with an unexpected poignancy and ends with an immediate sense of withdrawal. Dammit, it’s already over? And clocking in at just under thirty minutes, listening to Get Young in its entirety relates an even stronger sense of accomplishment, like I just did an intense work out, or something. But with my brain!

This is the indie-pop epic you didn’t know you were waiting for. I’m often skeptical of “Best of the year…” type statements, but I’m going to make one. Get ready. This, if not the best, one of the best albums this year.

Just get this album, however you can. I won’t even pretend any more; buy it, download it, send for it via money order, or carrier pigeon. And considering P&N’s seeming obsession with the broken and archaic (their blown out speakers, their vintage recording studio, their old synthesizers), I’m sure they have a carrier pigeon package-plan tucked away somewhere in their scheme for world domination.

Then go see them live and freak out. I don’t know how people can thrash that hard and play guitar parts that intricate. Unless, of course, they are magicians. As I’ve suspected from the beginning.

And “Wandering Eye.” Goddamn that song hits hard. I’m still reeling.

From Get Young – “Wandering Eye”:

The entire album streaming here, for a limited time.

And here’s a live video of “Tora, Tora, Tora” at Great Scott in Allston Rock City. Not the best quality, but, they play so fast it looks like they’re being sped up.

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Sep 16 2008

Pikelet – Bug-In-Mouth

Published by under MP3's,Song of the Day

Before coming to Australia, where I’m studying until December, I was repeatedly told that there is no local music scene in Sydney. “It’s all DJs and clubs and $20 drinks and dress codes,” they said. Well apparently, these people never wandered outside of the two block radius encompassed by our campus. Sydney’s music scene is thriving.

Last week, I wandered into the Hopetoun Hotel (they call bars hotels, weird) in a wonderful town called Surry Hills to discover Pikelet, an Australian singer/songwriter/magician out of Melbourne. Sitting alone with a classical guitar, in front of two mics and above an assortment of loop and delay pedals, next to a lone tom-tom, underneath what seemed like a single ray of divine light, Pikelet built masterful, otherworldly arrangements that I still don’t believe could originate entirely from one person. After only one song, I knew: if I were to take a trip to a mystical land far, far away, Pikelet would be my soundtrack.

She weaves tales in the style of Joanna Newsom, meandering through songs with ever-evolving structures, forcing her stories to fit her melodies, all the while propelled by layers of accordion, synthesizers, classical guitar and vocal and percussive loops. If you’re into the above mentioned Ms. Newsom, Kate Bush, Mirah, Audrey Ryan, dig Sufjan’s arrangements or have a respect for Phil Elverum’s production style, then you’ve found a friend in Pikelet.

I know I’ve been captured by a sound when I can space out for an hour, not quite knowing what just happened, but having definitively vague memories of valleys and peaks, of half-conceived hooks and singular notes, that with a second listen, always evoke overwhelming deja vu, and nostalgia for something that might not exist. Basically, it’s when I get the chills. So, thanks for that, Pikelet. And I hope y’all get the chills too.

And my favorite lyric so far, from “Bug-In-Mouth”:

“Instead of sleeping, I’m going to keep going. Instead of counting sheep, I’m going to count how many bugs I eat in my sleep.”

And two songs! From her self-titled debut (and you can purchase the album from the link below, which you should):

Pikelet – Bug-In-Mouth

Pikelet – Size Matters

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Sep 08 2008

Song of the Day – 9/8/08

Hey everyone. It’s been crazy as always. Good to see you again.

photo credit: Bowen Rodkey

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to listen to the On the Tail of the White Donkey EP, the debut release from folk-singer Vikesh Kapoor. His music always brings me to the same conclusion. We must return to this tradition. There is so much to be had here–so much that real folk music can do for the industry and all the places it reaches.

I can just imagine Kapoor (recently off a successful tour with staff favorite Nicholas Beaven) moving along, each song gracefully falling from his back pocket. Travelling through the heart of an unnamed area,  almost ignoring the complications of musicianship and poetics, he sings his stories. I remember my first experience with his music, sitting cross-legged on the floor of a discreet second-story Allston apartment. There were no chairs, no posters, no amplifiers and absolutely no bullshit.

An Indian-American traditonal folk singer is something to turn your head to at first. His influences are part of a strong force of writers and players that do not share common ground in style, but share a similar need to create this long-forgotten escape that doesn’t have any room for the pitfalls of popular music today. I’ll spare all of you comparisons to others in his genre and simply say this: Everything in his music that at first sounds tired quickly becomes an understanding–that in order to create a piece of intellectual, poetic tradition one must come to terms with both who they are and what they have learned along the long, hard path. Kapoor’s feet are on their way to becoming tough and leathery and we’re lucky enough to catch him so soon.

Over the course of the EP, this truly became clear. Deciding which of these songs was going to be your Song of the Day was tough. Just as important as the individual tales, the whole EP is a coherent, imaginative collection of songs that describe a shared need for honest human connection. If that isn’t the point of this EP, then I would have to say Vikesh Kapoor as succeeded in creating something that, while sometimes inconsistent and unsteady in its footing, is in a way universally relatable–the way it should be.

Some major moments for me occur on the unnervingly beautiful “One Woman Man.” It’s those moments of folk glory where the song sounds as if it is from 1950 until he includes a line with a turn-of-phrase or euphemism that jarrs the listener back into the present. All of a sudden we have something that exists outside of the system. Later on, Kapoor hits what I consider to be a masterpiece, “Willy Robbins.” A traditional folk tale (no chorus, just the adamant painting of a harrowing picture). He sings lines like “then like many working men, he’d shower, watch TV.” and their gravity is unreal. It is truly brilliant.

However, neither of these songs I chose to share with you today. I think you should grab the EP and spend a moment to hear what an honest artist sounds like.  The songs discussed above are even better in context. One song, however, you should definitely hear. “Till the Fields” is a happy, catchy tune with many simple parts working together. Truly, Vikesh Kapoor’s poetry is the most obvious talent, but as a guitarist he supports himself in admirable fashion.

MP3: Vikesh Kapoor – “Till the Fields”

MP3: Vikesh Kapoor – “Down by the River”

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Support Vikesh Kapoor: Buy On The Tail Of The White Donkey EP

Vikesh Kapoor is performing at TT the Bears in Caimbridge on Thursday, September 25th. It’s his only show for a little while so GO THERE.

Pick up an album and meet the guy. It’s all possible with real music.

I leave you with an intimate performace by Kapoor at Firehouse 13 in Rhode Island

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Aug 22 2008

Song of the Day – 8/22/08

 

Being in a band is not the easiest thing in the world, especially when you’re young. It can seem stupid and foolish to pursue something with such vigor and intensity knowing well and good that you could fail at any moment. Regardless, one must accept that their innate connection to the art will keep them satisfied and must remember where it comes from. With years of practice, you can finally come out of your cave and share your work with the world–and hope that that child-like energy isn’t gone. But how can you be certain? Thus a band is born in tension, irony, anxiousness and excitement.

Today I listened to an album by New York’s Ravens & Chimes. A group of wonderful musicians who fight against the all-too-common outcome of a band losing track of what’s really important. These are people truly singing of what they know and are well aware of what they tend to project. I’m a sucker for layering, and these guys layer themselves musically as well as poetically. The results could not be a finer debut album–one full of peaks and valleys but is all tied together by a sense of proud urgency. I haven’t taken a lot of time to get into the album, Reichenbach Falls, but I will tell you, after my first listen I’ve had numerous hooks and imagery stuck in my head.

It’s a grunge at times–at others it’s a folk explosion. In an attempt to disassociate with the tendency to simply describe an artist in terms of others, I suggest you take these beautiful pop songs as they are. If you are interested in these emotion behind these tracks, you will love their album. Buy it. Now.

Today’s SotD were two chosen at random. Almost every song on this album has some truly fine quality and to decide on a definitive description would be unfortunate for the creative and talented members of this band. Please, let me know what you think. It’s been a little while since I had the time to listen to music, so I’m excited to get back to it.

MP3: Ravens and Chimes – “Far Away Sound of Cars”

MP3: Ravens and Chimes – “Saint Jude in the Village Voice”

MP3: Ravens and Chimes – “…and I Came Upon It in the Clearing”

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Check out this beautiful intimate performance on Brightest Young ThingsYouTube Preview Image Awesome.

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Aug 05 2008

Allston (Boston) Rock City

This is a mix of great songs from bands in Boston that, despite my best efforts, won’t get unstuck from my head. And there’s a reason they’re stuck there. That being that they’re great. And when I feel that void creeping in, the one I get after scrolling through all 7,000 songs on my iPod and not finding a single thing to listen to, that I click a random link from one of these bands myspace pages, and hopefully find something new to latch on to. So hopefully, one (or more!) of these tracks will become your new obsession. So folks, here you go, a brief introduction to Allston Rock City. (Some of these albums might be a bit tough to get, so if any of it strikes your fancy, shoot me an e-mail (PeterNC9@gmail.com) and I’ll steer you in the right direction.)

Tulsa – Mass – Clouds of distortion, jagged classic-rock guitar solos, and Carter Tanton’s reverb drenched voice, floating through the song in his best Jim James. This is one of those songs that makes you want to storm a castle with an army at your back. In slow motion. Up hill.
If you dig My Morning Jacket, you’ll love Tulsa. Grab I was Submerged, and look for their newest LP sometime this fall.

The Toothaches – It’s All Gunna Be OK – And after you stormed your castle, settle down with the Toothaches. From their first LP, A Month of Sundays, this is one of the happiest songs I know. And as I sit here, hung-over on a Sunday, it’s all I need. Also pictured above. They’re adorable. Oh god, don’t tell them I said that. They’ll hurt me.

Hooray For Earth – Warm OutHFE are kind of like if the dude from Islands fronted Nine Inch Nails. Or if Beck decided to redo Odelay as a grunge epic. I’ve used this line in a past review, but if the birth of a star were to have a soundtrack, the Cellphone EP (and Warm Out) might be appropriate. Also one of my favorite songs in recent memory.

Helms – It Takes Skin to Win – If Slint formed a super group with Explosions in the Sky, and wrote more hook-oriented songs, it’d almost be as good as Helms. I’ve had this song stuck in the back of my head for three years. And their live shows are unlike anything else in town. Their album McCarthy is a good place to start.

King Tuff – LadyKing Tuff isn’t from Boston, so this is kind of cheating. But he writes brilliant 60s power pop. Super lo-fi, completely self-recorded, he sounds like a more cohesive Television. I was introduced to King Tuff at a show my band played last summer in Vermont. Toward the end of our set, he strode in, looking like a grizzlier Neil Young, walked on stage, picked up a guitar, and just started shredding. He didn’t say anything, it was unreal.

Ketman – Oubliette – When I first saw Ketman, I thought I’d walked in on a Meat Puppets show. They were recently voted best new band in Boston by a reputable weekly mag, and are definitely the best power-trio in town. I did an interview in Performer Magazine with them this month. Their new album, El Torro, is like a hard slap in the face. In a good way.

Twink – What The DickensTwink’s one-sheet describes his music as “chaotic toytronica.” A Very Fine Adventure sounds like one of Jon Brion’s freaked out instrumentals, or b-sides to the I Heart Huckabees soundtrack. Slightly atonal toy piano floats through elaborate arrangements of other toy instruments, synthesizers and a whole bevy of phasing, pulsing instruments I can’t name. It’s a trip, freak out. But make sure a pillow or a friend is handy, you’ll eventually want to cuddle.

Get into it. And please, don’t be shy, contact these people, find where they’re playing, enjoy their tunes, and support local music!

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Jul 30 2008

Song of the Day – 7/30/08

Published by under Boston,Folk,Song of the Day

Last week I posted about a tour by two fantastic folk singers by the names of Vikesh Kapoor and Nicholas Beaven. I got my hands on their EP’s and this week I will feature them both.

Nicholas Beaven’s five-song Four Track EP is surely a work of art in both content and presentation. The sleeve of the disc was pressed with a hand-carved stamp that he made and a note inside is written intimately for the the listener. The sounds don’t disappoint either.

Reminiscent just as much of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith as the classic folk poets, Beaven’s songs have that eerie bit of honesty about them. The analog warmth of the recordings give his already intriguing progressions and patterns the texture they deserve. His voice could be one of the warmest you’ve heard and the motion of the songs play along perfectly. The songs on the album vary in their power, but just for the sake of its shining moments should you give them your time. Even moreso than his skill on the guitar and his unique approach to songwriting is his ability to invite you to see his person. To bear what may be more suitable for a private journal in such an open spirit is a quality that resides few and far between in music today.

A multi-talented artist from the great city of Chicago, Nicholas Beaven’s “Lady I’ve Yet To Meet”  is your song of the day. Make it speak to you.

MP3: Nicholas Beaven – “Lady I’ve Yet To Meet”

MP3: Nicholas Beaven – “Midnight Moon”

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Jul 27 2008

Captain of Industry – The Bronze

   

 

 A few weeks ago, my band had the fortune of sharing the stage with Dayton, OH indie-rockers Captain of Industry, who came at us by way of our friends in Pretty & Nice (who are about to drop ’08’s indie-pop bomb in October, more to come on that as the date approaches). Without ever having heard Captain prior to playing with them, I was instantly engaged in their live show – singer Nathan Peters calmly hid behind a battered Fender Rhodes piano, acting as the eye of an indie rock storm while his four band mates writhed around him, all dueling guitars a la Television and popping, instantly accessible, just short of recognizable hooks. But it wasn’t until I sat down with their album, The Bronze, that it really hit.

Their songs are short and sweet, just long enough to establish hooks but short enough to leave a distinct longing for something more. Each song has a story to tell, a message to convey, something instantly relatable reminiscent of early Pavement’s sincerity (like my favorite lyric from “Range Life,” – You gotta pay your dues, before you pay your rent). They’re just as likely to create shimmery neo-folk as they are frantic, deranged rock and roll. The album still knocks me over in it’s uniqueness, and that’s why I’ve included two tracks for download today. But dear god, buy this album, support this band.

Choosing which songs to upload was tough. Every other minute I’d decided on a different song, but here are the two I finally settled with:

“Face Full of Head Full of Hair” is on their neo-folk-shimmery-guitar-line side, as mentioned above. Great lyrics, dynamic structure, intriguing from start to finish. Peters uses a very peculiar inflection on his lyrics toward the end, some of the more engaging lyrics too.

“Sweet Nectar Action” is a minute and a half of furious, indie-rock bliss. Beginning with frantic hard-rock guitars, the song seamlessly transitions into a dance-rock anthem, with Peters’s double-tracked, harmonized falseto leading a tight groove that quickly crescendos and fades. Boom.

 And one of the more precious lyrics from the album:

“Let’s be friends and hold f’ing hands, burn me up we’ll tumble to the sun” – Blood, Sweat, Sex

 from The Bronze:

Face Full of Head Full of Hair – Captain of Industry

Sweet Nectar Action – Captain of Industry

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Jul 11 2008

Songs of the Day

Published by under MP3's,Song of the Day

Friday always reminds me to live in the moment, today I bring you a small mix of songs that I am listening to right now. Now, I’m not going to tell you that  these bands are gonna blow up. I won’t say that they are the next big thing. But in this moment, it’s all the music I need. There is no particular structure or mood, but hopefully one of these songs makes it onto your soundtrack. These songs are all fantastic in their own way.

MP3: The Do – “Stay (Just A Little Bit More)”

This song does not leave once it’s in my head. Give it a listen. If her voice doesn’t turn you into a pile of mushy smiles… well, I just don’t know about you. The Do hail from Helsinki, Finland. Their latest album, A Mouthful, is out now.

MP3: The Dodos – “Undeclared”

Okay, I’ll admit, The Dodos come almost directly after The Do in my iTunes library, but that does not detract from the fact that this song is a wonderful stripped pop song.

MP3: Al Green – “Just For Me”

This ?uestlove produced album dropped about a month ago. When I first heard it I thought it came out thirty years ago. If anything, the mood and atmosphere created on this album hearkens to a greater movement to music that is just a little more pure than the rest. Buy this album. Enjoy it. Make love to it. You won’t regret it.

MP3: Nomo – “My Dear”

Oh my god. Nomo is so sick. Honestly. We caught em at Bonnaroo on the first night in some beer tent and they were unbelievable. The lights weren’t working so they played in the dark for a while. They didn’t fuck up, just so you know. They played at the Middle East in Boston last night and from what I hear (Doty was there), they killed it. Their afrobeat explosion, Ghost Rock, is ready to be bought right now.

MP3: Ratatat – “Mumtaz Khan”

If any Ratatat song was ever your anthem you are not alone. This track, off their newest LP, is for the rest of you. LP3 dropped 3 days ago. Ratatat is cooler than you, and they never said a word.

MP3: The Acorn – “Low Gravity”

I really enjoy this band… if you didn’t know. Saw em a few weeks back at a small venue in Boston and will continue to support them for as long as possible. They are some of the most honest entertainers I’ve seen. Their music brings me a lot of joy.

MP3: The Peasantry – “Tie Off Before You Go Out”

MP3: The Peasantry – “The Ballad of Dean Jiggo”

The late greats, The Peasantry, were a fantastic band killed by circumstances. I caught their last show two weeks ago and it was unbelievable. I will miss them dearly and follow their individual work because frankly, I know it will be fucking awesome.

MP3: Towa Tei – “Last Century Modern”

I’ve been getting back into Towa Tei again. Listening to his 1999 release, Last Century Modern is a true testament to his status as a pioneer DJ. Releasing LCM just after his breakthrough, Sound Museum made us understand just how smart he really is.

MP3: Estelle feat. Kanye West – “American Boy (Kill the Noise Remix)”

I was going to post the version with Busta instead of Kanye (who is a bitch, btw) but I just couldn’t find it. I still think he’s clown shoes, but this song is hot.

I hope y’all have a great weekend. Enjoy the summer. Go outside.

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Jul 06 2008

Ride – Dreams Burn Down (1990)

Published by under Alternative,MP3's,Song of the Day

As far as popular shoegaze (oxymoron?) goes, Ride has undeservedly slipped beneath the overbearing shadow of rock legends, My Bloody Valentine. I recently learned that the British press actually coined the term shoegaze in reaction to Ride’s live show – they would stare at the stage while playing, walls of trembling, shivering noise pulsing behind them. So, in light of what seems to be a modern, indie shoegaze resurgence (see: The Raveonettes, Mew, Blonde Redhead’s 23, basically any indie in the last decade), it is fitting to consult the vaults, and resurrect this gem.

“Dream Burn Down” opens with an impossible momentum – huge, slightly-off kilter drums charging in, backed by a distorted, heavily tremolo’d rhythm guitar. The piercing specifics of the guitar lead are a brilliant (literally, they’re all sparkle) counterpoint to the amorphous mass of sound swirling beneath, propelling Andy Bell’s melody toward a series of immaculate noise breakdowns. As the verses proceed, the anticipation builds, the increasingly frantic instrumentation mirroring Bell’s heightened frustrations: “Waiting, hoping for a sign/That what’s forbidden can be mine/I just want what I can’t have/’Til my dreams burn down every time.” And at the resolution of each verse, the vocals dissolve seamlessly into walls of static noise, a visceral release in a wave of sound.

Sometimes I get a little carried away with my writing, but I think that’s probably a reflection of how much I want people to dig what I’m writing about. There aren’t many songs that I feel my stereo can’t do justice. And this song absolutely kills. Like My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, “Dreams Burn Down” demands to be listened to at maximum volume on your system. This is when an 11-knob a-la Spinal Tap would come in handy.

And for a love song on the lighter, less-angsty side, check out “Vapour Trail,” also below for download. Even more swirls!

Ride – Dreams Burn Down (Nowhere – 1990)

Ride – Vapour Trail (Nowhere – 1990)

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With the video below, the interview is kinda lame, but the unplugged song is real cool, done like the Take Away Films of today.

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Jun 30 2008

The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer

Published by under Alternative,MP3's,Song of the Day

Hold Steady Live

“Constructive Summer” is the lead song off the Hold Steady’s fourth and soon to be released (July 15h) album, Stay Positive. The Hold Steady is unabashed in their reverence for Springsteen, someone I never got into, but an influence easily appreciated in their sound. Their songs are sincerely melodramatic, turning even the most mundane adolescent memories into epic victories or hallmark stories, typically laced among fluid piano breakdowns and sharp, classic-rock guitar solos. The hooks are huge, and the stories even bigger.

The song opens: “Me and my friends are like/the drums on Lust For Life/We pound it out on floor toms/Our songs are sing along songs” amid overdriven power chords and intricate, angular guitar spurts. It’s a one two punch to the adrenaline gland. They’re drinking on top of water towers and raising toasts to “saint Joe Strummer,” doing everything I’ve always romanticized as summer.

As my first official post with indiemuse, I’d like to share it with you. And if you dig this sound, grab a copy of Boys and Girls in America, and work from there.

m4a: “Constructive Summer” – The Hold Steady

From their first album, The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me

“Certain Songs” – The Hold Steady

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