Archive for the 'Indie pop' Category

May 27 2009

(Video) Run Toto Run cover ‘Sleepyhead’

You know that catchy Passion Pit song “Sleepyhead” that we all know and love so much? Well, if not, it’s below. But here is a pretty awesome video cover of the song by the band Run Toto Run. I love weird shit like this.

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Manners (2009):

Passion Pit – Sleepyhead

Passion Pit – Little Secrets

Passion Pit’s debut, Manners, just released on Frenchkiss records. Feature coming soon! (hint: it’s good, buy it).

12 responses so far

Feb 25 2009

From the Vaults: XTC – Skylarking (1986)

Published by under Alternative,Indie pop,MP3's

I only discovered XTC after I finally got sick of hearing Pretty & Nice consistently compared to them and not knowing who they were. So Pretty & Nice, I owe you for introducing me to Skylarking. This album has captured my mind for the last few weeks. I’ve left places early to go home and listen to it. If I have to walk somewhere, anywhere, if even for a minute, I’ll listen to Skylarking. Even 30 seconds of the first song. The hooks are irresistible. I’m slightly more insane for having heard this album. So cheers to my eroding sanity, and all hail Skylarking.

Skylarking has no grounding. The hooks float. They dive when they should pop, and explode when they’re bound to disappear. It’s entirely unpredictable pop music, a bit unsettling but ultimately enveloping. And that’s it, that’s the draw, the part that speaks to some evolutionary swirl beneath each passing listen. Of course the music stays the same, but the mind twists the interpretations and the associations. It’s nearly symbiotic in it’s infectiousness. The bass lines skirt the vocal melody in “Summer’s Cauldron” while jangly keyboards and piano build a dream-like foundation. There’s also a flute line that might have inspired the creation of the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time. The bass/guitar interaction in “Meeting Place” is all Built to Spill, and the vocals punch from the ether, floating to and from existence before dissolving into lush, sweeping harmonies. Oh, and this lyric: “Machines that make you kiss in time.” There’s something oddly compelling about kissing in time. Romantic, even.

Also, this was released three days before I was born. Coincidence?

From Skylarking:

XTC – Summer’s Cauldron

XTC – The Meeting Place

XTC – Ballet for a Rainy Day

And this video is just strange.

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MySpace | Amazon

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Feb 09 2009

Fan Modine – Homeland (2004)


The past few weeks, I’ve been listening to a band called Fan Modine. A friend introduced me to their 2004 LP Homeland, and I could tell 30 seconds in that this was an album that I was going to like. Give them a listen if you enjoy the Magnetic Fields, Belle & Sebastian, Arcade Fire, or Stars.

The band has an upbeat indie-pop sound that features some really solid instrumentals. After lead singer Gordon Zacharias helped the orchestral pop duo Hercules with vocals, they returned the favor by producing string arrangements on four songs (including two of the best tracks on the album, “Newstand of the Sun” and “Pageantry.”) There is also clarinet and electric harmonium, among other cool instruments.

A few years ago, main man behind Fan Modine, Gordon Zacharias, assembled a 5-piece band in Carrboro, NC, featuring Ash Bowie (Polvo, Libraness), Jeremy Chatelain (Jets to Brazil, Cub Country), Chuck Johnson (Shark Quest, Idyll Swords) and Lee Waters (Work Clothes, Lud). The band hasn’t released an album since Homeland, which means it’s been 5 years since they’ve released new material, but their Myspace says that a third album is in process “slowly.” Homeland is Zacharias’ sophomore album (debut is Slow Road to Tiny Empire), and he purportedly started work on the album while working as a “professional dog walker” in downtown Manhattan. The album was recorded in 5 different places across the US, including New York, LA, New Orleans, Western Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

Homeland (2004):

(mp3) Fan Modine – Newstand of the Sun

(mp3) Fan Modine – Pageantry

(mp3) Fan Modine – Waiting in the Wings

site | itunes | myspace

One response so far

Jan 16 2009

The Concretes – In Colour (2006)


If you are a fan of Feist, Rilo Kiley, or Camera Obscura you should check out The Concretes. In an industry that is more or less dominated by males, it’s nice to come across good female led bands. Victoria Bergsman vocals bring to mind Jenny Lewis with maybe a hint of Nico. She left The Concretes in 2006 to pursue a solo career, but the band is still together and released Hey Trouble in 2007.

Although In Colour, which was a follow-up to the band’s 2004 self-titled debut, has received mixed reviews, I personally enjoy its charming sound.  I can definitely understand why some critics were harsh on the album– it does have some hit or miss songs, and at times the lyrics leave a bit to be desired–but the lush instrumentals and harmonies make this a keeper. On In Colour, you’ll hear glockenspiel, vibraphone, clarinet, and a variety of string and brass assortments.

“On The Radio” is by far the catchiest song on the album–the beginning piano chords sound like they would be at the opening of a Broadway musical. Other highlights on the album include “Fiction,” “Ooh La La,” and “Songs They Sing.”

The Concretes are based in Stockholm, Sweden. Victoria Bergsman, Maria Eriksson, and Lisa Milberg formed the band in 1995, but they gradually grew to eight band members. When Bergsman left the group in 2006, Milberg took over as lead vocals for the band.

In Colour (2006):

(mp3) The Concretes – On The Radio

(mp3) The Concretes: Song for the Songs

S/T (2004):

(mp3) The Concretes – Say Something New

Site | iTunes | Amazon | Myspace

One response so far

Oct 08 2008

Pretty & Nice – Get Young

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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|MySpace|Hardly Art|Store|

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Sep 08 2008

Sufjan Stevens – Super Sexy Woman (2000)

Published by under Alternative,Indie pop,MP3's

I only post this because I feel this song has slipped under most people’s radars. (So, sorry if this post seems slightly irrelevant. I just re-discovered it and got really excited.) From his first album, A Sun Came!, this is one of the zanier things Sufjan’s ever released. It sounds like something you’d record stoned at four in the morning on a whim. Which was probably the case, evidenced by the off-key vocals and the warm crackle of a four-track. I especially recommend this for any doubter’s of Sufjan’s songwriting prowess. If there is a song to turn you, it’s Super Sexy Woman. And with lyrics like “She is super duper smart/I like her for her mind/She’ll shoot a super fart/The deadly silent kind,” what’s not to love?

And for whatever reason, no one ever talks about A Sun Came!, which is just as good, if not better, than his more celebrated releases. So check it out. I know Sufjan has been blogged to death, but most of it is deserving.

And just for some context (and in the event that you’ve been living under a rock, which is somehow underneath another, larger rock), I’ve included Chicago, one of his hits from Illinoise!.

Sufjan Stevens – Super Sexy Woman

Sufjan Stevens – Chicago

Oh, and this video is hysterical.

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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

| MySpace | eMusic | Rhapsody |

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Jul 24 2008

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – Glistening Pleasure

Published by under Alternative,Indie pop,MP3's

If you are looking to dance off the rest of the summer, I highly recommend you check out Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. I’ve been actively following them since last summer when they played The Capital Hill Block Party in Seattle. Spoon rocked the two day festival, along with John Vanderslice, The Blue Scholars, Aesop Rock, and a few dozen more bands.  I went to their stage having no idea who they were, but NPSH quickly became my favorite performance there.

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head’s music sounds like what a band with the name “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” would sound like. They are a synth-pop, quirky band out of Seattle who doesn’t take themselves seriously at all. They are absolutely ridiculous, and I love them for it.

NPHS just released their debut album Glistening Pleasure, which features a lot of their songs from their older Secret Crush EP. My personal favorites off the debut  include L.A. Noir, Mouth Full of Bones, Holding Hands in the Shower, Hush Hush, and Beard Lust.

The just out of high school band members of NPHS include Luke Smith, Shaun Libman, Claire England, David Price, and Liam Downey Jr. I laugh whenever I look at Shaun’s “band role” on their Myspace: “Vocal, maracas, shakers, tambourine, cowbell, claps.” The rest of their Myspace page is pretty entertaining too, you should visit it. The band is touring the US this summer so be sure to check if they are coming to your city.

Glistening Pleasure (2008):

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – L.A. Noir

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head – Mouth Full of Bones

iTunes| Amazon |Myspace


2 responses so far

Jul 16 2008

Feist On Sesame Street

Published by under Alternative,Folk,Indie pop,MP3's,Video

Feist is amazing.

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 Feist Singing Kids Version of “1234”

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“1234” Music Video


The Reminder:

Feist – 1234

Let it Die:

Feist – Gatekeeper


Feist – “Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worrying ‘Bout That Girl” (Kinks Cover)

The Kinks – “Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worrying ‘Bout That Girl”


 Site | iTunes | Myspace


4 responses so far

Jul 10 2008

Passion Pit – Chunk Of Change

Published by under Boston,Electronic,Indie pop,MP3's

Recently, MGMT has been getting a whole lot of attention. While I think they have some good stuff, this past week I have been obsessed with a band that is simply better than MGMT. Meet Passion Pit.

There is no doubt in my mind that this relatively new electro-pop band out of Boston is going to blow up soon. They are already starting to get a lot of recognition in the Boston area, as they have opened up for Girl Talk, and were awarded the best local act of 2008 by WFNX & Boston Phoenix, which gave them the opportunity to open for Death Cab For Cutie.

Michael Angelakos (lead vocals, keys, piano, synth) was the original brains behind Passion Pit, but his friends Ian Hultquist (synth, voice) and Adam Lavinsky (drums, samples) quickly joined to form the band. Thom Plasse (bass, synth) and Ayad Al Adhamy (synth, sample, voice) were added to the mix soon after. Passion Pit literally just signed to Frenchkiss Records (The Hold Steady, the Apes, the Fatal Flying Guiloteens) who will be re-releasing their EP, Chunk Change,  September, 16th.

Ian Hultquist has been featured on “Indie Muse” before for his solo work, which I also highly recommend you check out. He has a great cover of Wilco’s “Sunken Treasure” and currently does compositions for films. He is a student at The Berklee College of Music.

Fun Fact (via the Boston Herald): Angelakos was taking a class in American fashion at Emerson College and stumbled upon the term passion pit: slang for drive-in movie theaters where kids would make out.

So now you know what passion pit means…

Chunk Of Change (September, 2008):

Passion Pit -  Sleepy Head (on EP, Pretty Penny, but will be released on Chunk of Change.)

Passion Pit – I’ve Got Your Number

Ian Hultquist:

Sunken Treasure (Wilco Cover)

Wilco – Sunken Treasure

Passion Pit’s Myspace | Ian’s Myspace | Frenchkiss records

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