Thursday, June 26, 2008

Throw that beat in the garbage can

Image: Christina Romeo

The Snow Leopard - Shearwater
Shearwater's new record, Rook, sounds comfortable, like the band pulled the shades, settled into vast, fluffy floor pillows, drank black tea (or 12 year old scotch) and picked up their instruments only as they felt moved to do so. Palo Santo (which I still prefer), came from the highwire. It was desperate, anxious, angry, spooky, spooked. And fierce, so fierce. Jonathan Meiberg's wondrous voice can still generate some snarl when necessary, but I don't know that it -- or the songs on Rook--extend any actual claw. That said, "Snow Leopard" is a grand thing and Shearwater is still intense, even electric, in person. (And wow, Meiberg's boy next door in need of a hot bowl of chicken soup sure pulls the indie chicks, huh?)

Buy Rook (eMusic), Myspace

Fort - Pumice

I'm not going to lecture you again on neglected New Zealand bands of yore or argue that The Clean is probably the most awesome musical act ever to put sound to twisty tape. Pumice shares a homeland and really, really poor recording equipment and that's pretty much it. This is messy, abrasive shit (Pumice, indeed) that buries any insinuation of melody under miles of grime. Nine out of 10 of you are going to hate this. I guess that's a challenge.

Buy Quo (eMusic), Myspace

Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks - The Rapture
Working on something else, I was reminded of how this is pretty much the awesomest track ever for kicking off a mix. The pacing is brilliant and when the guitar and Luke Jenner's voice come in, it's like being pierced by a long, sharp needle at the same time your bones are shook broken. I mean, if multiple forms of torture felt extremely good.

Buy Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks (Amazon), Myspace

Catching up:
Speaking of mixes, Locust Street has a Ting Tings, Girl Talk, Cut Copy-free summer mix (instead, Vivaldi, Michael Jackson, Al Green, The Pogues and the Meatballs theme, among others). One of these days I'm gonna get mine up here. Hopefully before the end of summer.

The ever-pragmatic Catbirdseat/Catbird Records offers multiple options to pay or not pay (as your budget, ethics, medication dictates) for the new Forest Fire LP.

Dusted's mid-year list talks up albums I've never heard of. Yay Dusted!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Looking through lucite panels

Image: aperrigue

Brightness - Organic Stereo

First off, Organic Stereo has the prettiest album cover this year, the linearity of its buildings buffeted by cotton-ball clouds, color-saturated by buckets of orange popsicle and Hello Kitty toaster cheer. Hiroyuki Morikawa builds folktronic layers with pastel tinted lucite panels, and when the clear, white light of morning lands its beam where violet meets yellow meets green, it's joy.

The Stories Linger in My Mind is only available in Japan right now, Myspace.

Trading Things In - The Voluntary Butler Scheme

Based on the band's EP, I'd say that in the future, The Voluntary Butler Scheme might want to follow their Jackson Five obsession rather than their Archies (tho it sounds more like The Archies via The Apples in Stereo). This song is the exception--relentlessly clapped, intensely shakered, silly lyrics sincerely sung ("If you were broccoli, I'd turn vegetarian for you"). But what bumps it from unremarkable 60s-worshipping pop song to summer playlist essential is an amateurish drum shuffle/cymbal crash that's so overused and so badly recorded that you've gotta love it. It's like someone keeps tripping over a cable and falling into the drum set. And it's the most wonderful musical move I've heard in months. I mean, these kids are having fun.

Trading Things In single (iTunes, July 21), Myspace.

Friday, June 06, 2008

June jangle

Image: New York Times/Westminster Dog Show

Leave That Scene Behind - The Wave Pictures

It's not a matter of "getting past it." You either hate Dave Tattersall's voice, or you hate it less. It's whiny and nasal and so maddeningly atonal you want to reach through the speakers and grab Tattersall by the shoulders and shake him til his ears fall off (they're not doing him any good anyway). So why do I crush so hard on this nerd and this song and his rickety band and inconsequential--but oh so lovingly detailed--lyrics?

From Instant Coffee Baby (Amazon), Myspace

Whole Wide World
- Wreckless Eric

I'm embarrassed to say how few of the tracks on the new John Peel favorites collection I already knew (very few). But even if I couldn't say how, I recognized this song from somewhere. I didn't think it was ever a radio hit in the US, but didn't want to google it (Google just makes everything too easy). Then it came to me: the underrated Will Farrell & Emma Thompson & Maggie Gyllenhaal vehicle, Stranger Than Fiction, which has one of the best soundtracks of recent memory. That could have something to do with the fact that Britt Daniel helped out (so lots of Spoon songs and smart picks like post-punk classics "That's Entertainment" and "Mind Your Own Business"). And it's not difficult to hear "Whole Wide World" as a Spoon antecedent--as something that could even inspire a musical career--with its elegant and discrete pieces, its chug of bass, dash of tambourine, guitar squiggle, drum thumps. Nothing extraneous, everything perfectly in its place.

From Perfect Unpop: Peel Show Hits and Long Lost Lo-Fi Favourites: 1976-1980 (eMusic)