Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winter's end

Image: Christopher Davidson

Iceland - Bark Cat Bark

It's been a long, hard winter. But I don't need to tell you that; it's been a long, hard winter for you too. And even as gray rain slushes my windows to say spring has (sort of) arrived, I don't think winter is over just yet. You know what I mean. So does Bark Cat Bark (Josh Todd), a man of no decided abode who calls himself after an improbability and plays his piano on the dotted line between today and yesterday, here and not-here as dust motes wink in the weak late afternoon sun.

From A Lifi. Myspace

Candy Cigarette - Boy in Static

I love the part where static boy (Alexander Chen) sings
"let's lull divorcées from their households" with a hint of Antony's tremulous tremelo and the promise of something illicit, but also totally right. What could be more natural than swinging open windows and doors on a warm spring day and running into the street barefoot to a toy instrument orchestra? If Chen sings about childhood games, starting over, novelty candy (frankly, I'm just not sure), he delivers it like metaphysical verse, like a breathy, deep-felt pillowy pop poem.

From Candy Cigarette (eMusic), Myspace

Friday, March 20, 2009

Soul of the machine

Hiroshi Sugito

Strider - Paper

I've heard the first album this year that I can say absolutely unequivocally will make my year-end best list. "Strider" is one of the awesome tracks from it. Just to show you how awesome: Cept for the first two seconds (the song starts like something from Suicide--but don't worry!), this track is vocals-free--and I'm almost always partial to the human voice. I hesitate to call "Strider" instrumental because, like a lot of good electronica (for clarity, "Strider" is more punk than anything), it seems to eliminate the very concept of vocals as a medium through which to convey overwhelming emotion. Its hammering headlong, yet running-in-place, rush does a very close approximation of that alarming moment when you realize you've done or said something incredibly stupid and are totally fucked and there's nothing you're gonna be able to do about it and everything seems simultaneously to be going in fast and slow motion. I've heard the band is really really loud in person, which makes me really really anxious to see them.

From An Object (eMusic), Myspace

I Want to Be Your Girlfriend - Bachelorette

Can't stop listening to this. Supposedly the New Zealander (with the pouty French robot inflection) has an album coming out sometime this year, and if it's anything like this lush, pillowy electropop number, I'll be all over it. So maybe I'll wait until later to drown
Bachelorette in purple prose. In the meantime, you know what to do.


No, I'm not jealous of y'all in Austin right now. Or wasn't anyway until I saw this listing (gasp x 4):

The Local: Sam Amidon, Alela Diane, David Thomas Broughton, Shearwater - 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn

And although a small part of me wants the Stone Roses rumors to be true, I was actually relieved to see this. You go, John!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Girls rule

Image: Susan Seubert

Correspondence Course - The Hermit Crabs

You don't hear a lot of musical
a-ha-moment stories, conversion narratives or even conversations in which music is an end to itself--as opposed to a gateway to friendship or romance or opportunity for personal branding--from and among girls. That might be changing, what with Lavinia Greenlaw's pointedly titled memoir The Importance of Music to Girls and, perhaps, a song like "Correspondence Course." I wrote about Glasgow's Hermit Crabs and their delightful "Feel Good Factor" two years ago and apparently that song wasn't a fluke: The newish Correspondence Course EP is start-to-finish pop delish. "Sing me something that I don't already know" is the song's key phase, a summing-up of this kismetted meeting of music-geek minds, "have you heard" exchanges and ok, yes, flirtation. Music is personal and social, natch. But name-dropping This Mortal Coil and plotting an instrumental combo ("I'll play guitar, she'll play cello") seems to signal a certain commitment to the thing and not just the relationship wound around it. The music's fantastic, of course. Sweet violin, chugging guitar, Melanie Whittle's great girlish voice and a chorus way catchier than anything I've ever heard from Camera Obscura's camp.

Buy from
Amazon, Myspace

Monday, March 02, 2009

Foreign dispatches

Image: Squareamerica

Sinkership - Sin Fang Bous

Economically speaking, Iceland makes the U.S. look like it only needs to borrow some quarters for the soda machine (pay ya back tomorrow!). I hope the financial meltdown doesn't pop these Icelandic kids' balloon, because
Clangour is a, yes, clangorous bounty of breathless folk jangle and electronic pitter-pattered joy. It's a pop record. There's tambourine. "Sinkerships'" beats, harmonies and a certain kindergarten playground milieu will have you, inevitably, think of Animal Collective. Try not to. Don't get me wrong, Merriweather Post Pavillion is really good--it would be ridiculous to say otherwise--but Sin Fang Bous isn't trying to challenge anyone with anything. If there's math on this test, it's simple arithmetic. Jeez, times are hard enough as it is. (btw, Simon Reynolds has a worth-reading Guardian piece on AC's critical cultural juncture and why we're suffering a plague of [unfortunate, tiresome] AC polemics.)

From Clangour (Amazon), Myspace

Rattlin' Bones - Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson

My first thought: Australian country? But that's just my own shameful ethnocentricity. And if you think about it, who better than the
hardscrabbled Aussies to pick up and rub through their calloused hands those home-ditching/homesick, sinner/saint, lost/found, dreamer/wanderer narrative threads? Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson perform this particular redemption tale with tons of professionalism (no rustic authenticity bullshit here), not to mention the hand-in-glove ease and relaxed chemistry of a happily married couple. Understandably, it was a radio hit in Australia. Also understandably, it will never be one here.

From Rattlin' Bones (Amazon), Myspace