Brite Futures

A few years ago I was at Seattle’s Capital Hill Block Party, and heard Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head for the first time. They were one of the first bands to play, and I just happened to be at their stage beforehand to see who would be playing over the course of the day. When I saw their name at the top of the list, I looked over to my friend and boldly declared “I have absolutely no idea who this band is, but we need to find out, so help us God.”

Needless to say, I was not disappointed in the slightest. The band’s catchy synth-pop sound is somewhat similar to Passion Pit (they formed a while before Passion Pit, pshhh), and they are super quirky. For example, one of their songs, “Beard Lust,” is the essential manual to having a beard. They are from Seattle, so a lot of the people there were their friends (or familiar with their music), and it basically turned into a big, 45-minute, dance party.

Believe it or not, after four years, the band decided to change their name to Brite Futures. “Why would they change from such a glorious name,” you ask?

We chose our band name on a whim when we were still in high school, and “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” has seen us through an unexpectedly amazing four years. Our love affair with Natalie’s name was like a summer fling that lasted… and lasted… and lasted… But now it is summer once again, and time for a change. Also, it has recently come to our attention that our muse Ms. Portman is not so keen on us using her name in ours… Ultimately we are lovers, not fighters, and our mamas didn’t raise no fools, so we feel it is time to move forward with a new name. We are BRITE FUTURES.

To fully appreciate NPSH Brite Futures you NEED to watch this video.


(mp3) Brite Futures – Dog Eared Summer

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (now known as Brite Futures)

Glistening Pleasure (2008):

(mp3) Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – L.A. Noir

(mp3) Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – Mouth Full of Bones

Site | Myspace

Blaudzun – Seadrift Soundmachine

So I was thinking… one great thing about folk music is that it can be applied to virtually any season, and serve its intended purpose quite well.

For example, right now I can listen to music outside on a nice summer day and think “man, this is so relaxing.” And I can also listen to that same music in fall, making colorful leaf gazing way less boring. Then, of course, comes Chicago’s shitty winter weather, at which point I’m all like “I am so ***** cold right now, I’m just going to cuddle up near the fireplace, and listen to some Bon Iver-like folk music all day. Harumph.” The only season that is questionable when it comes to folk music is spring because it’s when us mid-westerners start coming out of our hibernation and just want to dance to some Passion Pit (and tend to the farm).


One artist that I’ve been listening to a lot is named Blaudzun. His recent release, Seadrift Soundmachine is gorgeous, and is perfect for summer. I would describe Blaudzun’s sound along the lines of Bowerbirds, Beirut and Devotchka. This is definitely one of the best releases of 2010.

Several of my favorite tracks on Seadrift Soundmachine are “Sunshine Parade,” “Wolf’s behind The Glass,” “Jezebelle,” “February Flare” and “Manhatten Grey/Post No Bill.”

Blaudzun hails from Utercht (Netherlands), and is the brainchild of Johannes Sigmond. The somewhat hard to pronounce name, Bluadzun, comes from a Danish cyclist, so if that’s ever a question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, you’re set. When you have your Slumdog-esque reflection that leads you to the correct answer (D), you can thank IndieMuse :)

Seadrift Soundmachine (2010)

(mp3) Blaudzun – Sunshine Parade

(mp3) Blaudzun – Wolf’s Behind The Glass

Site | iTunes|  Myspace

Jenny and Johnny – “Scissor Runner”

It’s a special week for rock-pop aficionados. Jenny and Johnny, a spankin’ new music group formed by Jenny Lewis and her Scottish boyfriend, Jonathan Rice, just released their first single, “Scissor Runner,” as a free download. The song, a deliciously fun anthem just in time for summer, will be on the group’s forthcoming debut, I’m Having Fun Now.

Yet don’t think every Jenny and Johnny track will match the cutesy lyrics of “Scissor Runner.”

As their site states, “The exuberance of love songs like ‘Scissor Runner’ mask some of the record’s darkness, with Lewis chronicling the economic demise of her beloved California in ‘Big Wave,’ Rice’s haunting vocal on ‘Animal,’ and both songwriters raising a middle-finger kiss off in the acerbic ‘My Pet Snakes.’ The overall result is genuine and original pop music for Right Now.”

Lewis, of Rilo Kiley fame and also a pair of solo albums, met Rice about five years ago while working on her solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat. The pair struck up a creative friendship and lent help to each others’ respective recordings. Rice has actually performed with Lewis for every live show of her solo career to date.

Touring for the album, which may drop as early as August 31st, kicks off September 1st at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, CA. The full list of cities and venues is available here.

Noticeably missing from the tour are stops in Arizona. Due to the state’s new immigration policy, which Jenny and Johnny say “legalizes and sanctions racial profiling,” the group refuses to play there.

“To all our rad southwestern peeps, we’re sorry that the brutes are running the show and we hope they get voted out of office.”

I’m Having Fun Now (2010)

(mp3) Jenny and Johnny – Scissor Runner

site | myspace

Ugly Casanova – 180 South Soundtrack

this is an old picture. add on 8 years.

I am so happy right now. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been this happy for 8 years. As you probably suspected, this is because new material from Isaac Brock’s side project, Ugly Casanova, released today. Ugly Casanova’s 2002 solo release, Sharpen Your Teeth, is still one of my favorite albums, and I’m not even mad that it’s taken him this long to release something new for the project, as I’m still absorbing the genius of that album.

The 9 new tracks were created for 180° South, a documentary that “retraces Yvon Chouinard’s and Doug Tompkins’ epic 1968 journey to Patagonia through the eyes of adventurer Jeff Johnson.” (Currently available on Netflix instant stream). Other contributors to the 180 South soundtrack include Mason Jennings, The Shins’ James Mercer,  Jack Johnson, and Love as Laughter…all great musicians. The soundtrack releases today on Brushfire Records.

I’m definitely going to be listening to the second track, “Here’s to Now,” for a very long time. A few other Ugly Casanova favorites include “Lay Me Down” and the rendition of  “Hotcha Girls” (my favorite track on Sharpen your Teeth).

Brock’s must read interview with Pitchfork answers the question you are like asking right about now.

Pitchfork: What made you decide to bring back your Ugly Casanova project?

IB: Well, the nitty roots of that is that it would have been a problem legally if I’d called it Modest Mouse. I don’t much like things to go by somebody’s name, like the Bob Jones Group Jam Band. I figured, since it was more than writing, it’d just be easier to consider it as another Ugly Casanova project.

Happy Ugly Casanova day!

180 South OST (2010):

(mp3) Ugly Casanova – Here’s to Now

(mp3) Ugly Casanova – Lay Me Down

180 south | brushfire | amazon (only 7.99) |iTunes

Neistat Brothers

photo credit: The Selby via NYmag

I don’t usually talk about TV shows here (mainly because I don’t watch much TV), but just wanted to give everyone a heads up on this really creative show that is premiering on HBO tonight called The Neistat Brothers. As the WSJ states, the show “is an eight-episode collection of wildly inventive short autobiographical DIY films made by Casey and Van Neistat ”

While I obviously haven’t seen the pilot episode yet, I’m very familiar with the Neistat brothers, and highly recommend you take the time to watch this. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s visual and quirky style, you’ll definitely appreciate this show. Casey and Van are masters of stop motion animation, and it’s a treat to watch their creativity at work. The show debuts tonight at 12 AM EST. So yeah, if you don’t have HBO, get it. And if you don’t have a TV,  steal one. Just don’t miss the show.

While the Neistat Brothers don’t necessarily get credit for it, they are essentially the godfathers of this new style of DIY homemade video making we see online. They were making high-end Youtube videos before Youtube existed, and simply had this vision for homemade videos before pretty much anyone. It gave them a huge head start and plenty of time to craft their work… which answers why these guys have an HBO show and you don’t.

Here’s a great video that’ll get you acquainted with the Neistat Brothers. This was a recent solo project that Casey made highlighting Chatroulette (when it was still all the talk).


Here’s a trailer for the HBO show:


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