Saturday, May 31, 2008

Malajube - Trompe-L'œil (2006)

A five-piece coming from the city of Montreal, Malajube is a indie rock group that sings in their native French. Trompe-L'œil is their second album, but I haven't gotten the first as of yet and I wanted to share. The music is fast, reminds me of a great many bands that make a more happy punk-derived sound (Super Furry Animals, Islands), and they do so excellently. Take it for what you will that they've gotten one hit in a cell phone commercial (“Montreal -40° C”) and another is a staple in French-Canadian radio. Also, apperantly whatever the fuck Zeller's is has my favorite track "Ton Plat Favori" in a commercial. Brings a tear to my mind's eye. However, when it comes to the United States they're hardly known, because of the ill-effect singing in anything but English has on attempts to get labels here to sign on to the idea. Therefore I was torn, they aren't famous here because they sing French (to which I'm partial as I've spend a lot of time and money to learn minimum levels of it) and that they seem to have already sold out in their native Quebec. I sure hope I'm not offending any French Canadian readers I might have by posting this disclaimer, or posting them at all, but I make the damned calls here people! Their music is fantastic, and if it wasn't for this quick hands for the moneys they'd have likely stayed in a same select circle of listeners and been remembered fondly, but the nature of indie bands is that commercial success is bad press to the indie kids.

To be had here (224 VBR kbps):
Malajube - Trompe-L'œil

Friday, May 30, 2008

Saturday Looks Good to Me - Green Mansions & Cold Colors EP (2007)

Saturday Looks Good to Me infuses me with a special swell of pride in Michigan I normally lack. I was unaware for the longest time in my younger years that such wonderful indie pop could be produced here. Fred Thomas, the main songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist, is from Ypsilanti, Michigan, which is placed right next to the grand city of Ann Arbor. My parents used to bring us there on trips every summer because they raised me and one of my siblings in the area until the age of 3. Beyond my personal sentimentality, Saturday Looks Good to Me is a respected group, having formerly been on Polyvinyl and now on the illustrious K Records. Fred Thomas writes beautiful, sometimes sad others joyful, short songs for the band. If I'm not mistaken Betty Marie Barnes who used to share singing duties with Thomas parted ways with the groups before the music I'm sharing here, so he's singing on them exclusively. Green Mansions is a one-sided 12" LP done for a tour while same applies for the Cold Colors EP. The first has song short but sweet, some bittersweet, tracks broken up with instrumentals marked by parenthesis around their titles. I find "(Yelling)" to be noisy for the band, yet I love noisy so I think it is great, whereas "Glowering Gaze (Every Other)" an attractively sung and instrumented tune. Cold Colors has more experimentation to the set of songs than normally released by Saturday Looks Good to Me. The lovely "Drink My Blood" and "Idiots" are somewhat more akin to the older material released, but the tracks they're sandwiched in are ethereal at moments and have instrumentation that is different. Both are very good to get a scope for how band is no one-sound act. Constantly evolving and changing this group continues to please me.

To be had here:

Green Mansions (2007) @ 192 VBR kbps

Cold Colors EP (2007) @ 224 VBR kbps

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pete Seeger - God Bless The Grass (1966)

Pete Seeger is one of my absolute favorite music personalities. Born in the long gone year of 1919, Seeger has witness a great many things I haven't the power to comprehend yet. Whilst being a living legend that memorializes a period of American history past; he was light-years ahead of his time as well. Personally, as a leftist I find Seeger to be something of an aged crusader for noble causes, but he holds up as one of the finest of America's folk musicians from the 20th century, along with his fellow left-winger Woody Guthrie. God Bless The Grass was originally release back in 1966 by which time Seeger was already a middle-aged man. The theme, as the title my hint at, is an environmentalist agenda, although I doubt it would've been called that in its day. The year was the same that he co-founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater which helps combat pollution in said river; proving he had more than just song to sing about it. None of this is to take away from how good his music is, rather just to explain the epic man behind it. The songs are fantastic folk songs with finely done banjo and guitar playing to Seeger's stunningly clear and handsome voice. "God Bless The Grass" to which the album owes its title is a great ballad; while "Preserven El Parque Elysian" is a lovely sing-along featuring Spanish lyrics and instructions in English. The song "Business" is a brief jab at capitalism's drive for profits and how it is starting globalization. "From Way Up Here" is a tale of perspective told from someone looking down at Earth deploring warfare's existence. My favorite track on the album is the amazing "My Land Is A Good Land" that hold one of best lyrics I have ever heard, 'its grass is made of rainbow blades'. The idea of rainbow blades puts the most beautiful imagery into my mind. However, it is good to note these songs for the most part were not written by Seeger, but just a wonderful singing of them. I found this album in the library during my middle teens and I feel it helped shaped my current personality and political views. I hope you like it at least half as much me.

To be had here (128 kbps):
Pete Seeger - God Bless The Grass

The Sea, Like Lead - The Sea, Like Lead EP (2005)

The Sea, Like Lead were a three-piece from Pittsburgh and played some interesting post-rock for their brief existence as a band. Post-rock as a genre has grown on me greatly over the last year (it took bands that weren't Sigur Rós and Mogwai, they aren't the best in my opinion). However, The Sea, Like Lead are good for what they were, a band that put together only a couple EPs and a split then moved on. The music is well made but is well within the norms of post-rock, and there aren't any vocals most of time excepting the typical use of spoken word audio clips overwhelmingly likely extracted from a film. To my surprise there were some really nice vocals in "Last Vestiges of Rust" and it wasn't just ethereal sounds of what might be voices. I find them quite enjoyable because they're one of the bands that tried but so often never makes it to the ears of many guys like me at their computers. Additionally, the way I see it, post-rock is really the music of people who really just want to enjoy making some music. I see no reason not be give them a listen if you like the genre.

To be had here (192 VBR kbps):
The Sea, Like Lead - The Sea, Like Lead EP

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Ann Arbor's Nomo is a large band with much to thank for Fela Kuti's pioneering afro-beat, along with other greats from the wide world of jazz. Starting with a University of Michigan grad named Elliot Bergman and friends. By the time of the first full length release, the self-titled Nomo, there were more than 60 contributing persons when records and live performances are totaled. The music is complex, as so many members might hint at, with clear infusions of jazz and funk but all of it in a theme very much part of afro-beat. The seocnd album, entitled New Tones, is far more polished in production, but this doesn't harm anything. The sharpness allows for the jazzy sound to really come alive. The songs are both average over five minutes, but with more consistency in length on the latter. The horns found in Nomo's music are absolutely terrificly played and make the songs loudly awesome. The first track of New Tones, "Nu Tones", is a favorite of mine for social events of nearly any nature. Oh boy, there's handclaps too, and who doesn't love that shit? Basically, this stuff has soul, and it can't be denied a good several listens.

To be had here:

Nomo (2004) @ 160 kbps

New Tones (2006) @ 224 VBR kbps

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Marshmallow Kisses - I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me An EP (2004)

With a name like the Marshmallow Kisses one can safely assume it is gonna be twee. No disappointments here, this duo makes sugary sweet pop ditties that anyone not too soured to smile at cuteness can enjoy. If I didn't look it up, I would have sworn they were one of many American or British twee groups, albeit a good one. However, inspection unearthed that they're from Hong Kong. Avowedly not romantically linked, the two are out to make lovely tunes to share with others. As far as I'm concerned, they've beautifully achieved that much. The music has a flavoring of bossa nova rhythms and child-like vocals from both members often sing back to back or in unison. The instrumentation which have harmonic strings, guitars and tapping drums are great compliments to the lyrics and mood of the EP. The EP reminds me of the Softies and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light by Belle & Sebastian. It's fucking pretty, it's twee.

To be had here (256 kbps):
The Marshmallow Kisses - I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me An EP

Black Ox Orkestar

Every now and then a band has too much uniqueness even fit in with regular indie discourse. I feel like Black Ox Orkestar is one of those bands. Klezmer music is not something I've had any experience with in my life, nor anything to do with Yiddish. The songs crafted by the Montreal-based veterns that make up Black Ox Orkestar certainly bear out that they have. Pulling several members from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band and one who was also in Godspeed You! Black Emperor, these guys have weighty post-rock credentials. However, this undertaking is not post-rock, but rather is a folk band throughly soaked with Jewishness. Their songs are sung in Yiddish and are about (or reworking of songs from) the dispora, specifically the Ashkenazim. As I understand it, they're attempting to place traditional Jewish musical culture into their contemporary lives. The well-versed musicianship of the members shines prominently throughout their albums. The mood of Ver tanzt? meandering and calm yet provoking as good folk music should be, whereas Nisht Azoy features more percussion and group singing to achieve the same end. The Yiddish lyrics gives the music more cultural grounding than the previously posted A Hawk And A Hacksaw, but I don't think it is fair to compare them too sharply as their goals are far from the same. I suggest this album for any persons who are partial to lovely folk music or something different even if you've no knowledge of Judaic culture.

To be had here:

Ver tanzt? (2004) @ 192 VBR kbps

Nisht Azoy (2006) @ 224 kbps

Monday, May 26, 2008

Suicide - Second Self-Titled (1980)

It still blows me away to think that this album was released in 1980. There's one quote that always comes to my mind when I think about suicide: "... I never heard anything avant-garde. To me it was just New York City Blues." - Alan Vega 1980.
Suicide are a duo that formed in New York City in 1971... blah blah blah, they impacted bands such as OMD, Human League, Spiritualized, Orbital, Pulp, Soft Cell, Nick Cave, Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Chemical Brothers, Luna, Foil, Bloodstar, etc etc). Bruce Springsteen covers suicide live sometimes. weird.

Suicide - The Second Album (Second Self-Titled) (1980)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Giant Brain - Plume (2007)

I won't pretend to know much about the Giant Brain. Credit must be given to NPR's All Songs Considered for bringing this group into my realm of knowing. I know they're Detroit boys and have some considerable talent, but outside of my usual, I hesitate to use the word 'scene' yet I suppose it is the best I can conjure. I dug up what I could and found they cite influence from the krautrock greats Can, Neu!, Amon Düul, and Faust in addition to good old My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Thus they've created a satisfying mixture of electronic and rock music; all of it completely instrumental. Plume is a five track release, but I'd refrain from calling it an EP as it times in at 48 minutes and change. Not coming off overly heavy for my tastes is something remarkable for a band I've seen labeled as stoner rock, which is not a label I choose to use ever. "Ausgesetzt" was the song NPR played that got me interested enough to go after them, because truth be told just the fact of being a Detroit band doesn't hold much sway, we've got a lot of music. "Die Festzeit" has a distinctively dreamy feeling to it while "Looper" and "Krauter" are long enough to have many transitioning moods (oh, how I fancy lengthy tracks). For fans of krautrock and great instrumental music alike I recommend this strongly.

To be had here (192 VBR kbps):
Giant Brain - Plume

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Besides being an important day of recognition of labor struggles, a holiday based in pagan traditions and the international distress call, Mayday is a Nebraskan band. If you haven't heard of them, and didn't guess from their being from Nebraska, Mayday is indeed belongs Omaha's Saddle Creek. I won't lie, I had an affection for Saddle Creek that is almost unnerving in retrospect. However, I shan't deny some of the music from this ever-expanding label is tiptop. Ted Stevens, also of Cursive and of the now defunct Lullaby For The Working Class, heads up Mayday. Having more in common with the earlier Lullaby For The Working Class than the other material he's worked on, including his contributions to several Bright Eyes releases. Thusly, its alternative country mixed with the rock he also partakes in. The brooding lyrics and soberness of much of the songs has lead to it being branded as sadcore, which is really whatever you make of it. Personally, I find a sense of liveliness and realism to much of it. Three albums have been released by the band so far. Old Blood being the first, and in my opinion the weakest but fairly well made, especially the tracks "Captain" and "Confession" which has vocals by Saddle Creeks' most famed son, Conor Oberst. If listeners stuck it through to the second attempt, I Know Your Troubles Been Long, they get a well-composed album. It has an appropriate unvarnished sounding recording and catchy songs that are terrificly sung. The latest LP, Bushido Karaoke, is again more polished, but has considerable songwriting and excellently executed instrumentation, probably the best release Stevens has managed with Mayday. The bittersweet ballad "Rock & Roll Can't Save Your Life" is charmingly done. "Booze & Pills" has got country swagger to spare. Although not one of my favorite tracks, "Old World New World" is a cover of Australian new wavers INXS. I'd suggest this as a good intro into a brand alternative country, within which there are numerous great artists.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet - Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet (2004)

Ahh, 8-bit sounds... how many of us recall you fondly. I never had a game system growing up, it was forbidden in my house (not from conservative attitudes but from practical costs and application). Yet even I can tell the noises made by video games without a moment of trouble. Fittingly, the local NPR station broadcast a brief report on chiptune music, but unsurprisingly they acted as if it was something just conceived. Well, we know better, that is has been firmly established by those that care for it for two decades; admittedly to a much lesser extend in North America than elsewhere. Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet is merely one is a line of successive groups and artists to make wonderful harmony from game systems supplemented with additional instrumentation. They are nevertheless good notably at it. The band features record label Ninja Tunes founder Jeff Wayne and CBC radio contributor Patti Schmidt of the show Brave New Waves. Schmidt lends some vocals to several tracks, like the lovely "Stopstart" amongst others. I'm partial to the finale "In Kode" because of the liberal overlaying and tempo shifts plied with brooding comments. Within the framework on the 8-bit and supplementary sounds Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet achieves overall pleasant album. As one might expect, there is the issue that it may come off as silly if not in the correct mindset. Hopefully, as I frequently say, you'll take it for what it is and savor it.

To be had here (192 kbps):
Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet - Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dananananaykroyd - Sissy Hits EP (2008)

I have had doubts about posting this EP, for part of me feels it might just be the being of one of those bands that the big guys just pick up exploit into ruining their own creditability and losing their original fan base (too many examples to bother citing any). However, I'll give them the benefit of freshness to the reviewing game and just do it. Dananananaykroyd is a witty enough name after all. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland this group is a six-piece featuring two drummers. I'd like to point out, they are millions of times better than the drivel they are still playing on the radio at my employer's (fucking same shit my sister listened to 8 years ago). Although far from unique with the dual drumming, it is a sign that the trend on the increase, which I've no qualms with thus far. The songs are pop-rock flavored with punk accents, but they do it fairly well. The singing seems like other bands I've heard, but I can't place any particular names (I was hoping for more Scottish accent i.e. The Twilight Sad). These guys and gal try to get loud, and succeed somewhat. They've self-described as 'fight-pop' but I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean shit. Whatever your opinion comes out to be, it is only 22 and half minutes, which isn't a lot any way you feel. Please do tell me if you think they're good or not worth while; I'm always interested in other opinions.

To be had here (192 VBR kbps):
Dananananaykroyd - Sissy Hits EP

Shogun Kunitoki - Tasankokaiku (2006)

Shogun Kunitoki is a name that is borrowed from villain of the 1987 game The Last Ninja for the Commodore 64. These Helsinki gentlemen have been messing around with computer sounds since the latter part of the 90s but only in this decade have the released anything substantial, which occurred with their transformation into a slightly more traditional, multi-instrumental make-up. The movement back towards more tangible instruments is something they've taken pride in, with their own wobsite proclaiming "a mission to help electronic music regress back to a more human state." Sometimes described as minimalist, Tasankokaiku lacks nothing in instrumentation in my opinion. There's no singing whatsoever, and I hardly feel it could add to it if there was. "Montezuma" is a galvanizing track that one feels completely comfortable with right off the bat. The entire album keeps a steady flow yet can move from more eerie songs like "Tulevaisuus-Menneisyys=1" to more joyfully composed ones such as "1918-1926." Thus I say next time you want some interesting electronic music, look no further until you've tried Tasankokaiku.

To be had here (192 VBR kbps):
Shogun Kunitoki - Tasankokaiku

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Coughs - Fright Makes Right (2004)

Coughs are a noise rock, alternatively they're referred to as no wave, group from Chicago. The lead singer is one Anya Davidson, and she seems to be angry at something. Be prepared for loud screams, hollers, and crackling lyrics lain over loud, distorted bass. Basically, what I look over when I wake up. Giving the music more flavor is the use of horns in some tracks to a creepily unsettling effect. There are some damned sweet guitar sounds blasted throughout this album, and all the booming drums one could hope for (including the playing of 55 gallon oil barrels). They understand the art of the calm introduction and exciting climax of song craft very well. However, they do know to shake that up too, with a unnerving yet wonderful spastic beginning in tracks like "Penal Colony." The light-hearted "Come Back To Me" is seemingly out of place, but very enjoyable, break in the blasting audio. The tracks "Elephant" and "Narwahl" are just long enough to really get into. Be sure to give these guys a deservingly loud listen.

To be had here (192 kbps):
Coughs - Fright Makes Right

Ffa Coffi Pawb - Am Byth (2004)

Am Byth is a compilation of songs recorded between the years 1986 and 1992. Ffa Coffi Pawb is Welsh for 'everybody's coffee beans' but if said quickly supposedly sounds like 'fuck off, everyone.' The band was made up of the previously posted about Gruff Rhys (which sparked a request for this band's material), the Super Furry Animals' drummer Dafydd Ieuan, along with current member Rhodri Puw and manager Dewi Emlyn of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (another fine Welsh group). The band is seen as a precursor to SFA but was never as popularly embraced. I don't feel this lack of attention is merited though, as the music is quite well done. I recall myself repeated showing friends the song "Colli’r Goriad" which has some catchy, if less than understandable (for non-Wlesh speakers like me), singing. Yes, all the songs and titles are in Welsh. Some of the tracks remind me of elephant 6 pop ditties ("Gafael Yn Dynn" and "Ffarout") whilst other are more garage-like ("Valium" and "Hydref Yn Sacramento"). Overall, the compilation is able to pull together a very solid album displaying the talent of these Welshmen before they reached their current status.

To be had here (192 kbps):
Ffa Coffi Pawb - Am Byth

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lovesliescrushing - Xuvetyn (1996), Flying Saucer Attack - Further (1995),

Lovesliescrushing are an early 90's shoegaze duo that started out playing dream pop, but dropped conventional song structures in exchange for swirly soundscapes and dreamy layers..

Lovesliescrushing - Xuvetyn (1996)

A favorite of mine, Flying Saucer Attack have a good sound, having recorded most of their music at home directly into a stereo system.. walls of feedback and quiet vocals.

Flying Saucer Attack - Further (1995)


Emerging from a city I hope to visit someday, Copenhagen, Denmark is Efterklang having formed in early 2001. The first release I have to offer you is their first real, or at least widely released, EP, Springer. However, it wasn't re-released for British and American audiences until 2005, with the album Tripper appearing in the interim year. Then in 2007 there was the release of both a new album, Parades, and an EP, Under Giant Trees. Now, there are other releases, some 7-inches and the one-sided LP, but I am sharing what I've got at the minute. The music is epically graceful. Composed with five core members and then preformed on tours in a larger group up to ten, the music has a complexity to it belying its minimalist front. Though much of the music is instrumental, utilizing guitars, strings, drums, computers and more, there are vocals, both of an ethereal backdrop not unlike Iceland's Sigur Rós and more concrete singing. The range of emotion they are able to allude to within this framework is simply astounding. The earlier albums have a feeling like they're more glitch-like, but Parades has a certain folk sound to it. The use of choir-like singing gives some songs an old-time feeling they'd otherwise lack, to feel like chants in someways. Many of the songs are long enough to achieve a transition within the track itself. Everything they've produced is worth a good listen in my humble opinion, and should be approach with an open mind even if post-rock has wronged you before.

To be had here:

Tripper (2004) @ 192 kbps

Springer (2005 [2003]) @ 192 kbps

Under Giant Trees (2007) @ 224 VBR kbps

Parades (2007) @ 192 kbps

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gruff Rhys

A Welshman best known for his fronting of Super Furry Animals, has released two solo albums to date. Having release numerous albums with Super Furry Animals and previously in Ffa Coffi Pawb he part of a wave of Welsh musicians to achieve notoriety outside of their native country. In 2005 Rhys, while still penning the songs for SFA, released Yr Atal Genhedlaeth. The album is done completely in his country's language, which is obliviously Welsh. He also played most of the instruments heard on the album, including of course his left-handed upside down guitar playing. Reportedly, much of the use of puns and other language devices are completely lost to the non-Welsh speaking world like myself, but it is pleasurable nevertheless. The Welsh language, at least as Rhys sings it, is gorgeous. The tracks have a psychedelic quality at times, but are not very abstract. The whole thing feels like an extension of the fantastic album Mwng that he did with SFA, yet I won't complain about that. 2007's Candylion was his second solo attempt and is considerably different. Save for a humorous intro track, the album is acoustic, although not without accompaniment. An especially pleasant surprise for me was his singing in English, Welsh and Spanish. He makes some beautiful, and sometimes fanciful, songs for this album and it grows in enjoyability with a few listens. Personally, I find that hearing music in other languages is greatly pleasing, because I feel it allows for exposure vocalizations that English can't provide properly. Just because I don't know exactly what somebody says doesn't mean it isn't pretty and interesting.

To be had here:

Yr Atal Genhedlaeth (2005) @ 192 kbps

Candylion (2007) @ 192 VBR kbps

Mississippi John Hurt - Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings

Mississippi John Hurt was amongst the oldest of the blues men to be recorded. A native of Avalon, Mississippi, who began the guitar playing that made his fame at age 9. Back then, the genre was as firmly defined nor was it really in huge demand, so he played folk and traditional songs while working as a laborer on farms during the 1920s. Luckily for us, a friend recommended him to the folks at OKeh Recordings. Whereby, he was recorded in Memphis and New York City, with the compiled tracks making up the album shared here. The songs are simple, just the man and his guitar. However, adding almost anything would be more like subtraction, for he did what he knew very well, folksy blues. The lyrics of these reworked traditional tunes are alternate between poor relationships with women and good relationships with God. The song "Got The Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)" is featured, which even those unfamiliar with the blues should have a rough idea about. "Blessed Be The Name" seems too quaint not to love for myself. Moreover, some of the raciest sentences I've heard in music are preformed in "Nobody's Dirty Business" with lines like 'Sunday morning gonna, wake up boozy; gonna grab my gun, gonna kill old Suzie.' Another prime find from the public library, even if the blues wasn't where I thought to look first I'm glad I did.
John Hurt's affects were felt beyond his two sessions in done on the eve of the Great Depression, when a musicologist sought him out and helped to relaunch his musical career when folk was in a revival overall in the mid-1960s. Thus giving him some of the recognition he rightfully deserved before his death in 1966. Additionally, this resulted in more recordings, so there's more for anyone that may like this work to seek out.

To be had here (128 kbps):
Mississippi John Hurt - Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Detroit is known for music, at least I'm told so. However, I find it hard to believe in the hard rocking D-town there is much press and fame for the sweet indie pop bands. Foremost of this type in my mind is Pas/Cal, who have released three mind-boggling cute EPs. The three added together sum less than an hour play time, but are well-crafted and charmingly endearing songs. Each EP is remarkably good to listen to, but if I had to pick what I felt was the best, I'd say The Handbag Memoirs. They resemble in some ways their fellow Michiganders, Saturday Looks Good To Me. Standout tracks include "The Bronze Beached Boys (Come on Let's Go)", "C.A.U. (Sans Muscle)" and "I'd Bet My Life That You Bet Your Life" which are wonderfully sung in falsetto often accompanied by hand claps and lovely guitar. A new release is expected on July 22, which I'll post as soon as I get my hands on and recall I promised this.

To be had here (192 VBR kbps):

The Handbag Memoirs (2003)

"Oh Honey, We're Ridiculous" (2004)

Dear Sir (2006)

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I must admit, Beulah is most likely the closest thing I have ever had to a favorite band, though even that title I wouldn't grant them fully. However, I do know I enjoy everything done by these gentlemen. The San Franciscan group was part of the Elephant 6 collective, but only by the virtue that Robert Schneider (of Apples in Stereo, Ulysses, etc.) recorded their early material including their first album, Handsome Western States. Once Elephant 6, forever so is the rules the game though. Handsome Western States is a delightful album, for all its roughness and somewhat lacking nature when compared to the band's later attempts.
The second release, When Your Heartstrings Break, is truly incredible with the addition of horns and strings, more liberal use of piano, and more developed lyrics. I to this day frequently find reason to listen to the entire album through, which is never a disappointment. Even so, the final track "If We Can Land on the Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart" will hold a special place for me. The fact that much Beulah's music is upbeat but has less-than-joyful lyrics has been said to be a manifest of founding member and singer Miles Kurosky's bipolar disorder.
Next was The Coast Is Never Clear, which is disputably their best album. The opener "Hello Resolven" has temped me to still a child just to name it that and then return it to a life surely full of glory. Perhaps the most stand out tracks of the band's carry can be heard to with "A Good Man Is Easy to Kill" "Silver Lining" and the single "Popular Mechanics for Lovers"(and for non-Magnetic Fields fans, has a jesting reference to Stephin Merritt). Personally, as time as passed, I find the melodic lyrics and sounding horns of "I'll Be Your Lampshade" be very laudable in their own right.
The final album before the band's break up in 2004 was Yoko. When this shit was made, nearly everyone in the band had a bunch in their panties to has the least. Kurosky broke with his girlfriend and three others was amid divorces. Thus this is the most gloomy sounding release the band would ever make. The music is still excellently composed nonetheless, with brilliant tracks like "Landslide Baby" and "My Side Of The City" to be heard here. The sadden tone of the band can be felt in even the naming of other songs, like "Me And Jesus Don't Talk Anymore" and "Don't Forget To Breathe." Yet, something remarkable, even when singing about shitty girlfriends or anything else that would make a band into something depressingly emotional or terrible at trying to be so, Beulah never fell victim to such mistakes. The songs possess a cheerfulness straight through the depression and the lyrics are proudly sung with beauty. Overall, an incredible career for an indie pop band, producing four wonderful albums, a feat many couldn't dream to achieve. Although I'm weary to proclaim favorites, I will never tired of listening to them.

To be had here:

Handsome Western States (1997)

The Coast Is Never Clear (2001)

Yoko (2003)

The Chameleons - Script Of The Bridge (1983)

Script of the Bridge is an amazing release from the extremely underrated post-punk group, The Chameleons. Formed in England in 1981, the band recorded their first demo and sent it off to John Peel who loved it, and immediately had them record a Peel Session. They called it quits in 1987 after the death of their manager. Their influence can be heard in bands such as the Comsat Angels, Interpol, and Editor. Especially in how the Chameleons used 2 guitars.

The Chameleons - Script Of The Bridge (1983)

Don't Fall

Sad Lovers & Giants - Epic Garden Music (1982)

Sad Lovers & Giants are a post-punk who started playing shows in 1981 alongside their contemporaries, The Chameleons, The Sound, Cocteau Twins, and Modern English. SL&G have a pretty unique sound. I'd describe them as a psychedelic Joy Division, but that would be lame of me. This is their first record, Epic Garden Music. I like it a lot.

Sad Lovers & Giants - Epic Garden Music (1982)


Talkdeomonic gets called many things, but I've never heard a negative one yet. Experimental at its core, two minds that make up Portland's Talkdemonic are Lisa Molinaro (viola and synths) and one Kevin O'Conner ("drums, synths, pianos, programming beats, bass, accordion, banjo, guitar, rhodes, wurlitzer and everything else sounds" as puts it). Nothing about the experimentation in their work has a crazy-as-all-get feel, just a uniquely new and wonderfully harmonious mixtures of sounds. Both albums are decidedly mellow but not so slow to be ambient, which is really exactly what I'm looking for often enough to have enjoyed listening to them repeatedly. Have fun hear what instrumentation they picked for each song, they never seem quite the same. This is further bolstered in importance by the lack of voacls throughout Talkdemonic's releases. Enjoy the audio bliss.

To be had here:

Mutiny Sunshine (2004) @ 192 kbps

Beat Romantic (2006) @ 160 kbps

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Hawk And A Hacksaw - The Way The Wind Blows (2006)

Oh my, how I have a strong affection for elephant 6 and related bands. A Hawk And A Hacksaw connected, of course, through Jeremy Barnes (formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel). The collective is best known for the many indie pop albums to be produced by the groups belonging, but this group isn't doing the indie pop thing. For this unfamiliar with A Hawk And A Hacksaw, it is a New Mexico-based folk band that plays songs absolutely soaked in Balkan influence. As well, many probably know the young lad Barnes helped get heard, Zach Condon a.k.a. Beirut.
The Way The Wind Blows is the third of now four releases, and it is where Barnes really begins to show his brilliance. Both Barnes and the violinist Heather Trost wrote the songs, and both show remarkably more control over their playing of the genre. Amazing accordion playing (something I wish I got opportunity to say more often) and beautiful chorus-style lyrics can be found right off the bat with "In The River." In this mood of whimsical song-crafting there shines "God Bless The Ottoman Empire" that features stunning sounds of a horn which are carried straight into further tracks like "Gadje Sirba" which is a retooling of a traditional song by the pair of songwriters. Some songs have the multi-person choir singing, other are fittingly instrumental. Nevertheless, the entire album is undeniably fantastic (in every sense of the word). I have a habit of playing some of the sections with horns loudy in my car with the windows down. Not because I relish so much in the looks I get, but because is reminds me fondly of my first boss, who happened to be surly Albanian man who'd always play traditional music in his rusty van.

To be had here (192 kbps):
A Hawk And A Hacksaw - The Way The Wind Blows

Vetiver - A Thing of the Past (2008)

Andy Cabic's Vetiver has come out with their third release this year, and it is not a disappointment for audiences of the young folk movement often epitomized by Devendra Banhart, who frequently plays with Vetiver. However, what's arrestingly new is that it's a whole album covers. This comes across all the more natural for folk musicians, where so much of the genre is based on direct borrowing and reworking of existing material. Yet as covers, they are subject to comparisons to the originals, but I'll leave it up to you to sort out which you prefer. Of my favorites are the mildly sappy "To Baby" and the upbeat traveling song "Blue Driver" written by Michael Hurley, who has a guest spot on the album. Also of note, Vashti Bunyan is featured as a guest; logically so after Vetiver accopomanied her latest tour. I recommend this for an outdoorsy day or for a mellow break from one less outdoors-filled than you'd like. So you can know the songwriters I'll put the track listing with their names:
Houses [Elyse Weinberg]
Roll on Babe [Derroll Adams]
Sleep a Million Years [Dia Joyce]
Hook & Ladder [Norman Greenbaum]
To Baby [Biff Rose]
Road to Ronderlin [Ian Matthews]
Lon Chaney [Garland Jeffreys]
Hurry on Sundown [Dave Brock, Hawkwind]
Swimming Song [Loudon Wainwright III]
Blue Driver [Michael Hurley]
Standing [Towns Van Zandt]
I Must Be in a Good Place Now [Bobby Charles]

To be had here (320 kbps):
Vetiver - A Thing of the Past

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Voxtrot is an amazing 5 piece indie pop group from Austin. This band first caught my attention when I was introduced to their Raised By Wolves EP for the first time. I couldn't believe my ears! It was the EP that was perfect in every way. Jangly, but not too jangly.

Voxtrot - Raised By Wolves EP (2005)

Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives EP (2006)

Voxtrot - Self-Titled (2007)

M83 M83 M83 M83 M83

Ahh.. M83. Amazing work from an amazing french man named Anthony Gonzalez.. M83 are unique in the way that they combine heavy synthesizer layers (and I mean heavy, Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts for example) , whispy guitar hooks and tastefully done hushed vocals to top it all off. No other group I really know of can pull off tones like M83.

M83 - Saturdays = Youth (2008)

M83 - Digital Shades Vol. 1 (2007)

M83 - Before The Dawn Heals Us (2005)

M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts (2003)

All of the above links belong to their respected owners/uploaders blah blah blah.
Osmotic Lode - Playshones

Osmotic Lode is a literal enigma, seemingly sticking to no specific genre, and having no specific members. I can't remember when this was released, but I know it's on Pedophobic Records. Howling guitars combined with a subtle drum machine and static. I recommend it.

Get it here:

Disco Ditto - Into The Void EP (2006)

Disco Ditto is a shoegaze band from Singapore that produces an amazing blend of ethereal dream pop. Swirly guitar hooks and a drum machine keep this EP together nicely. Kind of reminds me of the Depreciation Guild in some aspects.

Get it here:

Times New Viking

Times New Viking have made some roughly-cut, noisy music that has extremely catchy rhythms underneath it all. These Ohioans of Columbus have been kicking around in the US underground scene for a few years now. With three releases out, still there's no disappointment whatsoever. The latest was issued through Matador records, and thus the album seems to have gotten a bit of press even from those dicks at NME. However, we shan't let them ruin our fun again, so just avoid them like the plague and enjoy the album's combination of raw emotion and chaos-driven order. The especially lo-fi nature of the recordings are absolutely necessary for the sound of the band, for I feel if it was removed them would almost be like light-heart indie pop group instead of the more raunchy musicians it makes them. Anyways, my blagmate requested these albums be post for the world after I showed him some tracks the other day, so his wish has been granted. Perhaps the beginning of completed full-release discography posts that might have a place in a spacerockmountain future.

To be had here:

Dig Yourself (2005)

The Paisley Reich (2007)

Rip It Off (2008) repaired link