The Walkmen – In The New Year

I know this album came out a little while ago, but I just heard it for the first time and “In The New Year” might be the quintessential Walkmen song. It takes everything great about their albums – the triumphant hooks, the jangly guitars, the Saturday night swagger – and mashes them all together in one enormous shout from the rooftops moment.

It starts off unassuming, the guitars drowned in reverb and sounding like a soft fall through a layer of buoyant cloud. Singer Hamilton Leithauser floats over the melody seconds into the song, crooning like Dylan but strutting like Sinatra. And the chorus hits: the lilting keyboards are confirmation and celebration of the lyrics – “I’m just like you, I never hear the bad news,” followed by the broken waltz of a sparkling crescendo. It’s a confession, it’s rejoicing.

This album sometimes sounds like observing gangsters disposing of a body on a foggy night, other times like falling in love across a crowded room. It takes several listens for the Walkmen’s progressions to make sense, but on that one listen when the planets align and the chords fit, it’s a revelation.

And from Bows + Arrows: I used to listen to “The Rat” at maximum volume before going out every weekend. Ideal preparation music for a massive night.

From You & Me:

The Walkmen – In the New Year

From Bows + Arrows:

The Walkmen – The Rat

And the video for their song “Little House of Horrors,” also from Bows + Arrows:



Songs of the Day II

I’ll start, as I always do, with an apology for not writing in some time. Being in school and at work and trying to scrape and find and explore new music is a job that is a lot tougher than I thought. So this past week I swore to devote my time to pick out my recent favorites and share them with you (sorry if I totally missed the boat on some, it’s the thought that counts, right?) I apologize for the layout too, WordPress is being a lameass. Dig deep, there’s quite a bit to be had here.

First off is an awesome track from one of my favorite bands today, Moscow Olympics. Honestly, the production alone on their new album, Cut the World, is worth mention. It is a lesson in tasteful, atmospheric rock the likes of which not only hail to MBV but wholeheartedly attempt to evoke the same amount of emotion… and that’s fuckin rad.

MP3: Moscow Olympics – “No Winter, No Autumn”

MP3: Moscow Olympics – “Still” from the Still 7″ on Fraction Discs.

This next band, Weird Tapes, is infectious (Thanks GvB!). Grab the Get Religion EP for free! And a bunch more tracks at the We’re Tapes blog. These seriously are the jams. I don’t really know too much about these guys, check out Gorilla vs. Bear for that scoop. For now, listen.

MP3: Weird Tapes – “The Heavens”

MP3: Weird Tapes – “TV Romance” from Nightstalking

Arsenal have been popping up around a lot lately. Mostly for their rollicking electronic, pop-rock tune, “Estupendo.” And rightfully so, that song is amazing. Not less than perfect for going on a run, going out or jumping on all the furniture in your house. Their new album, Lotuk, is an eclectic mix of Electropop, downtempo jams, garage rock and blah blah blah… It’s hard to get you a few tracks and fully describe these Belgian dudes, so here are some of my favorites. “Selvagem” it badass, at least. That crunchy lead line is perfect when coupled with their European, indie genius. Also, check out the chillout, spoken word bombs on “The Letter,” if you can. What do you think?

MP3: Arsenal – “Estupendo”

MP3: Arsenal – “Selvagem”

If not simply for his part on The Flaming Lips, Hit To Death In The Future Head, Johnathan Donahue has constantly brought something new and interesting to my table. Mercury Rev have been consistently enigmatic from 1991’s Yerself is Steam all the way to their newest, Snowflake Midnight (You should definitely get this). The title could not be more indicative of the chilled, ethereal concepts behind this album. Take a listen to the first track, “Snowflake in a Hot World,” then jump on the awesome Fujiya & Miyagi remix of “Sense on Fire.” Finally, there’s my all-time favorite ‘Rev song, “Car Wash Hair,” from their first album, written about the Lips and possibly one of my favorite songs of all time.

MP3: Mercury Rev – “Snowflake in a Hot World”

MP3: Mercury Rev – “Sense on Fire (Fujiya & Miyagi Remix)”

MP3: Mercury Rev – “Car Wash Hair” from Lego My Ego EP (1991)?

My favorite underground hip-hop artist today is none other than Cadence Weapon (a Canadian!!!). With truly raw beats and panned out production, this guy is a real person. The character he embodies is actually a reflection of something real and he’s not afraid to be smart, something that I look for in the art of poetics. That said, CW kicks you hard in your teeth and ankles… a blow of truth. Check out these bomb tracks and dig more at Hype.

MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Limited Edition OJ Slammer”

Mp3: Cadence Weapon – “Real Estate” (which has an awesome video)

Department of Eagles are doing pretty well these days, from what I see. That’s definitely a good thing. I haven’t heard too much, but their album, In Ear Park is full of great, reverb-ey swamp rock and I like it a whole lot. Especially that song that everyone loves, “No One Does It Like You.” Here are three versions, each awesome in it’s own way. These guys are good.

MP3: Department of Eagles – “No One Does It Like You” from In Ear Park

MP3: Department of Eagles – “No One Does It Like You” live 10/6/08

MP3  Department of Eagles – “No One Does It Like You” alternate take at Don’t Look Down.

I’ve said it before, but we should all be even more interested in Rogue Wave. These guys are always at the top of my list of musical recommendation. They’re brilliant. Recently they did a MySpace session and the intimate nature of the performace not only gave me new insight into some of their more orchestrated songs, but also displayed a desire to never set a song in stone and always strive to perfect them. So, it’s okay to cancel a few shows. Great job guys, you are the shit! Few are better.

MP3: Rogue Wave – “Eyes” live on MySpace

MP3: Rogue Wave – “What Difference Does It Make (The Smiths Cover)” live on MySpace

MP3: Rogue Wave – “I’m Only Sleeping (Beatles Cover)” live on… somewhere.

In terms of classics, I’ve been listening to the Rolling Stones a bit lately and thought I would remind myself of the total awesomeness of this band.

MP3: The Rolling Stones – “She’s Like A Rainbow”

MP3: The Rolling Stones – “Street Fighting Man”

Finally, it’s election time, and for seriously counscious artists this means there is a great duty to fill. Wilco and Fleet Foxes recorded a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” as an incentive download if you pledge to vote in November. Just a simple, honest gesture of incentive in activism from one of my new favorite bands and one of my favorite bands ever. I’ll post a super LO-fi version here, but you gotta get the real deal for the full effect.

MP3: Wilco & Fleet Foxes – “I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan Cover)”

MP3: Jeff Tweedy – “Simple Twist of Fate (Bob Dylan Cover)” from the I’m Not There OST

MP3: Jeff Tweedy -  “I’m Into Something Good” (Herman’s Hermits Cover)

MP3: Wilco – “Nothing Up My Sleeve” YHF b-side

I hope you’re all doing well. Thanks to everyone who supports and reads our site. We love you very much. Stay connected, keep your eyes/ears peeled for and SUPPORT GREAT MUSIC!

Sufjan Stevens Extravaganza: Writings and Music

I went through a period when I wasn’t listening to Sufjan Stevens on a regular basis, but that is no more. The break I took made me appreciate his music all over again. In particular, I have been obsessed with the first track on Illinoise, “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL.”

You may not be aware of the fact that Sufjan is a writer, outside of being a lyricist, having received a MFA in creative writing. Over the years, he has written many short stories and essays. Several months ago, I found a site, All Good Naysayers, that has many of his published works. I haven’t had a chance to go through everything he’s written, but am impressed and entertained by those which I have read. If you are a Sufjan Stevens fan, and want to get a little more intimate with him as a person, and his music, I highly recommend you go read these. Perhaps to start out, you can read the 2006 cover story Stevens’ wrote for Topic Magazine. He discusses music experiences he had while growing up as a kid. I have posted the whole essay below, click on the pictures to read. Then go to All Good Naysayers (linked to writing section) to read additional short stories.

Illinoise (2005):

Sufjan Stevens- Concerning the UFO sighting Near Highland, IL

Sufjan Stevens-Chicago

Sufjan Stevens- The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!


Seven Swans (2004):

Sufjan Stevens- A Good Man Is Hard To Find


Michigan (2003):

Sufjan Stevens- Romulus


Enjoy Your Rabbit (2001):

Sufjan Stevens- Year Of The Ox


A Sun Came (2000):

Sufjan Stevens- A Winner Needs A Wand



The Avalanche (2006):

Sufjan Stevens- Adlai

B-Sides and Demos:

Sufjan Stevens – God’ll Ne’er Let You Down

2007 Believer Music Issue CD:

In The Words Of The Governor

I’m Not There OST:

Sufjan Stevens – Ring Them Bells

Bob Dylan – Ring Them Bells

Songs For Christmas (2006):

Sufjan Stevens – O Holy Night

The BQE (more info):

Sufjan Stevens – The BQE (part 3)

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The Maccabees – Colour It In

The Maccabees. Are they Jewish? Are they not Jewish? Who knows, and really, who cares (they aren’t)? Today, I saw this Jewish magazine over at a friends house called Jvibe and there was a music section that included, “Best Jewish Singer/Group You Wish Would Refer to Being Jewish”. The nominees in the magazine are Joe Trohman (of Fall Out Boy), Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), The Beastie Boys, and Amy Winehouse. If the Maccabees were Jewish, they would certainly top the list of “Best Jewish Singer/Group who Refer to Being Jewish”. Even though they are not Jewish. That’s all I have to say on that matter. And that I think it’s silly to expect musicians, or anyone for that matter, to publicly discuss their religion, unless they are Yusuf Islam. But that’s for another day. Now to the important stuff.

The Maccabees have a similar sound to Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Wolf Parade, and Dogs Die In Hot Cars. Some songs are better than others, but I think the band is worth your listen, as they do have some catchy hooks. Their music is more on the indie rock side and is probably as indie rock as I get. My favorite song of theirs is “Toothpaste Kisses” which is on their debut, Colour It In. I must say that while “Toothpaste Kisses” is a good song, and the most mellow song on the album, I can’t help thinking of Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay.” Does anyone else hear the similarities? I mean, listen to the lyrics. “Lay with me, I’ll lay with you, we’ll do the things lovers do.”

The Maccabees are from Brighton via South London, UK, and band members include Orland Weeks (vocals), Hugh White (guitar), Rubert Jarvis (bass), and Robert Dylan Thomas. You don’t have to read far into the biography on their website to see the sarcastic British humor I love so much.

They were ambitious from the start. Shortly after Felix joined, they entered a Battle Of The Bands competition. They lost to a girl group called Red, who played covers, had massive afros and wore miniskirts. The Maccabees had already planned how to spend the money when they won – new amps and a demo. When they didn’t, they were so devastated they didn’t even collect their second prize – tickets to a beer festival.

Fun fact: They chose the name by flicking through books. The biggest in the house was The Bible. They came across the story of The Maccabees, Jewish rebels who fought against Greek rule and established Jewish independence in the second century BC. As soon as they saw they name, they knew that was it. But it’s only a name. They’re not a religious band.

Colour It In (2007):

The Maccabees- Toothpaste Kisses

The Maccabees – First Love

The Maccabees – Good Old Bill

Bonus (what do you think?):

Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay

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Funny, but weird “Toothpaste Kisses” music video. Very weird. Disturbing, actually.