Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Wind Up Birds Get Wound Up

This time next week (on December the 6th) Sturdy Records is putting out Courage Now, For Tomorrow Will Be Worse, the new EP from Leeds’ almost embarrassingly brilliant post-punk literary genii The Wind-Up Birds.

They are larger than the average bird, have a grey, dour plumage and an unusually intense, piercing stare. They generally travel in a group of four males. The Wind-Up Birds are mainly recognised for their song. Once heard, no one can forget their awkward, screeching, unsettling call.

Sounding something like The Fall if they sobered up and beat up Art Brut, The Wind Up Birds are spiky, slightly out of sync, and properly angular in all the best way. This is the kind of band that bashes you on the side of the head with an Oxford Press Guide to Paleontology and then reads to you from it.

The Wind Up Birds are a fascinating lot and so is their new single.

Download: This Boat Is Going Nowhere Tonight, Son

Sleeping In The Aviary

I was going to do a post on Sleeping in the Aviary regardless of what they sounded like because the picture that came with their songs just happened to feature a pack of demented looking Mr. Beans ready to commit some serious crimes. The picture is just scary and hilarious at the same time.

Thankfully, along with this rather creepy photograph came a couple of good songs that happen to be rather well played indie pop with just the right dose of brashness and inability thrown in for good measure.

Think a little drunk Elephant Six collective and you might be on the right track.

The lineup of Kozel, Phil Mahlstadt (bass), and Michael Sienkowski (drums) churned out their debut album, Oh, This Old Thing? in 2007. The disc's intense bursts of lo-fi pop-punk drew comparisons to The Thermals, Buzzcocks, Violent Femmes and Nirvana. Then another side of the band’s musical personality was captured on SITA’s sophomore album from 2008. Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel (wow!!) was a move towards indie-folk heralded by the addition of fourth member, Celeste Heule, on accordion and musical saw. Kozel switched from electric to acoustic guitar for many of the songs, and also found himself screaming just a little less, exposing more of a tender side. This album cued comparisons to artists such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Bright Eyes, Baptist Generals and even Bob Dylan. For 2010, Great Vacation once again finds the band in fresh musical territory, and also with a newly-added fifth member; Kyle Sobczak on guitar.

Download: You Don't Have To Drive
Download: YMCA (No, Not That One)

Freedom Or Death

Freedom or Death is not a Tea Party mantra, but rather a band from Toronto, Canada who escaped from the music industry in the hopes of having complete control over their own destiny. Having spent a decade in the industry, they parted ways with it and took matters into their own hands.

They've done a pretty good job of it as well. Sounding something like a bit more informed Chris Martin if he were a bit more depressed, Freedom or Death sound like the Coldplay you've always wanted them to sound like; touched by Primal Scream and on heavy sedatives.

Their self-titled EP was released over the summer and the Wall Street Journal (!?), called them one of the twelve must see acts at CMJ this past fall.

Check out their cover of Nas', "Rule The World," and watch their video as well for a taste of how good Freedom is.

Download: Rule The World

Monday, November 29, 2010

School of Seven Bells Touring This Winter...

School of Seven Bells, whose album Disconnect From Desire is one of our Top 25 albums of 2010, are about to head out on the road. But before they do, they figured they'd release a new video AND a new track.

So while you're waiting for them to come to your town, you can watch/listen to "I L U," on repeat.

School of Seven Bells Tour Dates...
Dec 02 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 supporting The Walkmen
Jan 27 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theatre
Jan 28 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox SoDo
Jan 29 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Jan 31 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre
Feb 02 – La Jolla, CA @ RIMAC Arena
Feb 04 – Santa Barbara, CA @ UCSB Events Center
Feb 05 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
Feb 07 – Salt Lake City, AZ @ In The Venue
Feb 08 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theatre
Feb 11 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
Feb 12 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
Feb 15 – Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
Feb 16 – Montreal, QU @ Metropolis
Feb 19 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues Boston

Download: I L U

Thursday, November 25, 2010

La Femme Tunerita

What happens if you show a bunch of French 20 somethings Peter Griffin's "Bird is the Word" episode of Family Guy? Well they form a band of course and call themselves La Femme.

Mixing chanson with surf guitars and seducing everyone in their path, La Femme are clearly destine for huge things. As La Femme prepares to for their first U.S. gigs, the band remains an enigma. Hailing from Paris, the group walks the line between erotic avant-pop and lo-fi surf rock. Their music can be flippantly light-hearted or aggressively dark depending on their mood and that's why we love these guys...and so does Peter Griffin apparently.

La Femme’s upcoming four-track EP — set for release on December 13th on 3rd Side Records. In the meantime catch a wave and check out their single, "Sur La Planche."

Download: Sur La Planche
Watch Peter Griffin:

We Were The States

We Were The States had nearly completed the recording of its new album Rasa when the Nashville floods came. With two feet of water in the basement of Coat of Arms studio, the band went from euphoric to discouraged, thinking the record they had worked on for two years would be indefinitely derailed.

Regrouping at Nashville’s Club Roar studio, the Murfreesboro-based five-piece quickly prepped for very long hours on a very limited budget, but ultimately persevered. The resulting album captures all of the energy and precise abandon of the band’s much-loved live show while also reflecting the realistic frustrations of their situation. It’s a tense record, but still a joy to listen to.

Judging by single, "Gold," the band are reaching for the stratosphere and might just make it. Take a bit of the Stereophonics and Americanize it and you have a good idea where We Were The States are coming from. Soaring, far reaching, and catchy as hell, "Gold," is a terrace anthem waiting to happen. Floods be damned, this is a band that's headed for the stars.

Download: Gold

Rock It Science Labs Strikes Gold

Folks...it's been a dreadful week. The number of mediocre tracks coming across the POP! Stereo headquarters has been stifling. Here it is Thursday and this is the first thing that seems worthy of our time. That being said, lets hop to it shall we?

The latest drop on the hot new label Rock It Science Laboratories, created and run by Eric Sharp and DJ Fame, is a masterpiece from S.I.M.O. & Native Intelligence complete with genre-busting remixes including veteran of the UK tech scene Evil Eddie Richards,Dubnoir’s Chris James, NYC’s Bit Crushers and Dubstep phenoms The Flying Skulls.

With this the label's fourth EP, the figured they'd just hand out a bazillion tracks and let you sort out which ones are your faves. They're all over the place and you might just end up getting dizzy by the time you finish listening to them all.

Download: Wiggle Room (Santiago & Bushido Remix)
Download: Wiggle Room (Till Bass Remix)
Download: Wiggle Room (Andrew Phelan Synth Mix)
Download: Wiggle Room (Andrew Phelan Strip Mix)
Download: Peak Time

Friday, November 19, 2010

Treefight For Sunlight

Due for release in February next year, Treefight For Sunlight’s self-titled debut album bottles their epic sunshine pop into ten mini-symphonies and shows Bella Union are embracing the new year with the same eclectic enthusiasm as ever…

The band, who have known each other since childhood, hail from Denmark; clearly a breeding ground for mavericks judging by the likes of Mew, The Raveonettes, Oh No Ono and Treefight’s fellow Bella Union voyagers The Kissaway Trail. Bands that unstitch rock/pop’s rich tapestry and weave in their own unique and challenging DNA. In Treefight For Sunlight’s case, it’s the legacy of California’s west coast pop art, from its origins in the epic harmonies of The Association and The Turtles, which had a knock-on effect in the 70s with Sparks and the 80s with LA’s Paisley Underground scene. Fans of the Flaming Lips, MGMT and Panda Bear will surely also appreciate Treefight For Sunlight’s layered, twisting, caramelised energy and absorbing imagery.

Treefight For Sunlight is released 14th February on Bella Union, preceded by the singles “What Became Of You And I” and “Facing The Sun”.

Download: What Became Of You & I

Love Those California Wives

Formed in 2009, California Wives, aka Jayson Kramer (vocals, keys, guitar), Dan Zima (vocals, bass, guitar), Joe O'Connor (drums) and Hans Michel (guitar, keys), have spent the past year working on their 5-song EP Affair. Since then, the Wives have kept busy - they just wrapped a Daytrotter session last week, and are preparing for their upcoming Winter tour.

With a rather simple approach and a sound that sort of taps into that Drums kind of post-80's British pop tradition with out being British or being from the 80's, California Wives make some darn fine indie pop. If they should actually record an album w/in the next two years they could be on to something here. Lets hope that happens.

Download: Purple

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Glass Vaults Make New Space

New Zealand duo Glass Vaults are Richard Larsen and Rowan Pierce. The duo grew up in the rural town of Manawatu, New Zealand and both enrolled at the University in Wellington to study music.

Glass Vaults may have only been around a short time but they've pretty much defined what it is to make glacial pop. Their super cool and frigid tune "New Space," is a minimal, sort of ambient sound scape that breaks into a beat driven break down that has avalanche written all over it. It's good stuff that's perfect for the falling temperatures.

The band have recently released their 12" Glass EP on colored vinyl via new Florida label JUKBOXR.

Download: New Space

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ladycop Catch A Wave

Formed in New York City in early 2006 as a recording project, Ladycop is the brainchild of singer-bassist Cliff Rawson, (formerly of Boston cult faves Araby), and drummer-composer Kolby Wade. The duo quickly gained attention with a surprising 3-song demo that sounded more than home-made, and immediately set about searching for musicians to complete the live band. After several incarnations, the group now includes two more permanent members, Anne Carlisle and Derek Kretzer. Ladycop's debut self-release EP was greeted with enthusiasm from fans and critics.

After a wildly successful first tour of Europe in the spring of '08, Ladycop put the finishing touches on their second home-made EP, We're Not the Man, and headed back to Europe for a follow up DIY road-show. This excursion netted the band three outstanding live reviews, including one from the prestigious ZXZW festival in Tillburg, Holland, as well as attention from a number of European record labels. In addition, the group was thrilled to play a week-long string of engagements with the much-loved London five-piece Cats and Cats and Cats to enthusiastic audiences across England.

Ladycop is currently touring Europe in support of their debut full-length record Waves, and will embark on a North American tour in January.

Dinosaur Bones Claim Their Birthright

The Toronto-based indie pop quintet, Dinosaur Bones, has amassed an impressive amount of accolades to date, no doubt adding weight to their shoulders, but it certainly isn't enough to keep them from forging forward. With their sound originally hatched in the college dorm room of guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Ben Fox, Dinosaur Bones (comprised of Fox, bassist Branko Scekic, keyboardist Dave Wickland, drummer Lucas Fredette, and guitarist Josh Byrne) have wasted little time of their relatively young career pushing forward, turning plenty of heads along the way.

Hazy,downtrodden, and a bit sleepy, Dinosaur Bones create tunes that are like waking up from a dream; they're sort of there but sort of not and are they're all distorted like your vision. When you finally comprehend them you realize they're pretty, rich, and very good.

Dinosaur Bones' latest EP Birthright was recorded and mixed by Jon Drew (Fucked Up, Tokyo Police Club, Arkells). Thankfully, fans will not have to wait too long to get more of the band's brand of haunting, indie-pop. My Divider, their debut LP (also recorded and mixed by Jon Drew) drops in early 2011.

Download: Birthright

No Talk More Beats

Talk is Daniel Lewis. No, not Daniel Day Lewis. This Daniel's music is an intoxicating mixture of the mystical and guttural elements of strange late night lifestyles. Talk's music is surprisingly cinematic yet, at heart, everything he produces is dark club music. With an ear toward beats that seem to be on the verge of going thirty directions at once, Talk seems to have attention defecit disorder. When you take this sort of scatter shot approach and mix it with a sound pallet that seems to have come from deep with in the abyss you have something that's not sunshiny and happy. Dark, scary, and minimal, Talk cast a brutal found sound spell that's destined to break something.

The Holy Mountain EP is Talk's debut release and it's pretty challenging. The title track is an epic bass music anthem and an ode to the 1973 psychedelic film by Alejandro Jodorowsky of the same name. "Finland" finds haunting choirs melding together over a percussive backbone, while "Burning Alive" is a dark, artful tech house wasteland of delayed voices and synths. "Walking Disease" finds Talk at work with lazer sitars, cinematic strings and haunting synth stabs; it's a dark journey through dark places.

The EP is available now...broken guitar strings, pads and all at the usual outlets.

Download: Holy Mountain

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Alan Wilkis Heads To Film School

Lots of stuff going on today so I'll make this quick...

Brooklyn-based musician, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alan Wilkis has taken on Film School and remixed it in his own special way.

He makes the track noisy, distorted, but none the less lovely. It's a bit glitchy but it shows a completely different side of Film School and that's probably why I like it.

Download: Heart Full of Pentagons (Alan Wilkis Remix)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Modern Skirts Skirt Convention

Born of four hopeful rednecks and numerous misconceptions, Athens, GA's Modern Skirts crept onto the scene in 2005 with a piano-laden debut, Catalogue of Generous Men. The record was well received, landing at #11 on Paste Magazines' 50 Best Albums of 2005 and praised by Pop Matters for its “impeccably structured, gorgeous pop.” After successful tours around the South and sold out shows at Athens’ legendary 40 Watt Club, Modern Skirts took to the road nationally for almost two years. They quickly gained a small but passionate following, while losing massive amounts of steam and developing a creeping ambivalence towards their initial musical output.

Fearful of being pigeonholed as a piano-pop band, Modern Skirts began writing a follow-up to Catalogue of Generous Men. Darker and more electronic than its predecessor Gramahawk will definitely keep the pigeonholes away. That is, unless Ben Folds starts doing heavy doses of acid and begins listening to Larry Heard.

Download: Bumper Cars

Kill Frenzy Is Stuck In 2019

Kill Frenzy has released a new mix and to say it's epic would be an understatement. You see, 2019 is over two hours long. That's ALOT of music but I'll let him explain exactly why he made it as long as he did...

"I decided it was time for another extensive mix from me. Basically, I thought one hour was too short for what I really wanted to do. I wanted to make something that really builds up from the beginning to the end and has alot of different feels and moods trough the entire mix. Something you can kick back to and just listen to in these rainy winter days. From chill out in the beginning to more uptempo at the end. I felt if I did it in any shorter time you wouldn't have the same effect so i made it 2 hours and 17 minutes long."

As for the title? "Throughout the set i sampled parts from the movie Blade Runner which, is why I called it 2019 because the story takes place in November 2019. I hope you enjoy. "

Download: 2019

Don't Step On The Glass

The Glass are Dominique Keegan and Glen 'DJ Wool' Brady. Dom runs the Plant Music label in NYC with partner Adrian "Stretch Armstrong" Bartos, and Glen lives in Berlin, where he runs the label We Collect Enemies and releases music under his DJ Wool moniker. Both originally from Dublin, the duo started collaborating in 2004. Their first two singles "Won't Bother Me" and "Hear The Music" were released on Four Music out of Germany and showcased on The Sound of Young New York compilations (which Dom compiled & the duo mixed). They subsequently released the seven-track EP Couples Therapy in 2007 and have been remixed by Mylo, 20/20 Soundsytem, Nadastrom, In Flagranti, Luke Solomon and more recently Black Van and Ian Pooley.

Their debut album At Swim Two Birds is released next week in the Americas with Europe having to wait until 2011. A nod to Dominique's and Glen's interest, the album title comes from a love of the sea from Glen (he was a water polo champ) and Dominique's budding ornithological career! Birds, water, and beats...what more could you want out of a record? Yeah, you got me...I have no idea.

Until the record comes out next week enjoy the single, "Four Four Letter."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer Camp Isn't Over

British duo Summer Camp's acclaimed EP Young is in stores this week in North America via Moshi Moshi records. It's pretty much an essential release since it's all you can get at the moment and will have you dreaming of warmer days and large open fields.

Everybody in the world already loves them and so should you, so download the songs below, but the EP and rejoice.

Following a highly successful tour of the UK and Europe this fall, Summer Camp is set to begin work on recording their full-length album. In anticipation of its planned release in spring/summer 2011, they will make their first visit to North America to play select dates, including an appearance at SXSW.

Download: Round To The Moon
Download: Ghost Train

Acid House Kings Return

Look I'm not even going to lie...I'm going to go listen to this song ALOT right now. So enjoy the press release below, download the song, and join me. The Kings have returned and this is a very, very good thing.

Almost six years since the release of the highly acclaimed "Sing Along with Acid House Kings" album, Sweden's pop perfectionists no. 1 are ready to release new material.

The first single "Are We Lovers or Are We Friends?" is a drive in the Swedish countryside with nothing planned and a feeling anything can happen. The radio is playing lush and heavily orchestrated 70's soul with huge arrangements and a distinct sentimentality. It's a blistering pop explosion inspired by the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, Tommy Körberg and flamenco percussionists with a chorus that will stay with you.

Stemming from huge elitist's pop record collections and a slightly embarrassed admiration of ABBA, Stock Aitken Waterman and Swedish "dansband", Acid House Kings have continued their slow, but steady fine-tuning towards perfect pop music. And half a decade of song writing means the fans are in for something extraordinarily fabulous. - We've allowed ourselves to be extremely self-critical. Songs good enough for any of our other albums have been singled out repeatedly, says Niklas Angergård.

Acid House Kings are brothers Johan and Niklas Angergård and Niklas' sister-in-law Julia Lannerheim. "Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?" is taken from forthcoming fifth album Music Sounds Better with You, out on Johan's birthday, March 22th, 2011. An album that during a short period was tentatively and logically named "A family affair". According to the band the new album is "sharper, catchier and livelier", a "goodbye to genre obligations" and "it's got castanets on every single song".

Download: Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends

Shugo Tokumarua Sees US Arrival

Hailing from Tokyo, Japan, Shugo Tokumarua is a gifted songwriter and multi-instrumentalist responsible for producing every sound heard on his records. With his latest album, Port Entropy, Tokumaru takes the magic of his previous full-length, Exit, and expands on it. Throughout Port Entropy his arrangements soar to new heights -- most prominently in the coda of standout track "Lahaha." Conversely, the twinkling piano lullaby "Linne" showcases a quieter, more introspective side of Tokumaru's songwriting.

Introspective or jolly, Tokumaru is a twee pop genius without actually realizing he's twee or probably pop. There's a sense of innocence and joy in his songs and that's what makes them so darn good. "Lahaha," is a fantastic whimsical example of this and provides a glimps into the world he's created with Port Entropy.

Port Entropy was released in Japan on P-Vine in April of 2010 and Berlin-based label Soulterrain Transmissions in October 2010. February 15th, 2011 marks the first time the album will see a North American release through Polyvinyl. Throughout 2011, Tokumarua plans to tour extensively in support of Port Entropy, with stops planned in Europe, at SXSW, and a tour of the US from coast to coast.

Download: Lahaha

Telekinesis Avoid A Car Crash

On February 15, Merge Records will release 12 Desperate Straight Lines, the sophomore album from Telekinesis on CD, LP and digital download.

When Telekinesis mastermind Michael Benjamin Lerner set out in July to record songs for the follow-up to his debut album Telekinesis!, he found himself with no band, a case of vertigo, and a wrecked van. The long-distance relationship that inspired his debut album’s songs of wanderlust had ended, and he had just returned from a much-needed escape to Berlin where he banished himself to a room in the warehouse district to write songs from 9 to 5 each day.

With the original recording date scrapped, Michael was inspired (by the heavy, fuzzy bass in Flin Flon’s A-OK) to buy a bass guitar and, in a sudden burst of inspiration, wrote four more songs for the album. His second attempt at recording led him to Portland and Jackpot! Studios. Michael and Chris Walla continued their partnership from Telekinesis! and again recorded to tape. They tossed out all the rules—as they are wont to do when they get together—and, as Michael says, “went a little crazy,” with impromptu dance parties and recording drum parts backwards.

The result of all of this is 12 Desperate Straight Lines, twelve new songs of heartache, anger, and even a little hopefulness. Telekinesis has re-emerged with a new band featuring Jason Narducy (Robert Pollard band, Verbow) on bass and Cody Votolato (Jaguar Love, The Blood Brothers) on guitar. The van is fixed, the dizziness is gone, and Michael Benjamin Lerner has returned.

Judging by "Car Crash," the album is going to be a doozy and it seems like all the crap that Michael had gone through only made the songs on 12 Desperate Straight Lines even better. I mean, while it's hard to judge an album by a single song...it's a pretty good bet the whole thing is going to be at least half as good as this tune. Fun stuff and quite honestly, it seems as though all this trauma prior to recording was worth it in the end!

Download: Car Crash

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Good Natured Are So Good!

The Good Natured's new single Be My Animal was released this past week.

This is the band's second official single after the release of Your Body is a Machine which has already acquired huge popularity on YouTube and plenty of public attention.

The Good Natured have also been receiving great radio and TV support for Be My Animal, including being play listed on NME TV and daytime Radio 1 airplay from Fearne Cotton.

As for the single itself, it's like a slice of Bjorkian weirdness mixed with a bit of La Roux, Florence, Little Boots, and Harriet from The Sundays. It's fantastic stuff that's literate, glossy, and as scary as it is tense. It's the sort of single that's going to make The Good Natured a name everyone will remember (just try and forget the chorus...I dare you).

Download: Prisoner
Download: Be My Animal (Zebra & Snake remix)
Download: Be My Animal (Portmanteau Remix)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Future Islands Hit The Deep South

Future Islands are on tour for much of November across the Deep South. While they're getting their tour on...you can download a couple of tracks and pretend you're riding in their dirty cramped van!

Future Islands tour dates...
Nov 5 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 *
Nov 6 Greenville, NC Live Nightclub *
Nov 7 Columbia, SC New Brookland Tavern *
Nov 8 Savannah, GA The Wormhole *
Nov 9 Tallahasse, FL Farside *
Nov 10 New Orleans, LA The Saint *
Nov 11 Houston, TX Fitzgerald's *
Nov 12 Austin, TX Mohawk *
Nov 13 Norman, OK Opolis *
Nov 14 Hot Springs, AR The Exchange *
Nov 15 Oxford, MS Red Star Bar *
Nov 16 Knoxville, TN The Pilot Light *
Nov 17 Atlanta, GA Eyedrum *
Nov 18 Charlotte, NC The Milestone *
Nov 19 Raleigh, NC Kings *
Nov 20 Baltimore, MD Ottobar *
* w/Lonnie Walker

Download: In Evening Air (Jason Urick remix)
Download: Tin Man (Jason Urick remix)

More Fukkk Offf...

Bastian 'Fukkk Offf' Heerhorst has been renowned for some time in his hometown of Hamburg for storming live sets in the clubs scattered around the city’s red light district. "Die sündige Meile" or "the sinful mile" as it is known, has seen its walls shaken and thighs quaked by the throbbing depths of Bastian's big room Fukkk Offf sound.

Bastian is back with his latest single called Worldwide and it's a corker. With four smokin’ new tracks this is bound to be the freshest soundtrack to Hamburg’s red light district the Reeperbahn.

"Brain Rock," comes off like a more acidic Chemical Brothers at their 90's best. Fukkk Off pretty much light the fuse to this single and run away as the tune throbs, rocks, and wobbles til it explodes. "Worldwide," on the other hand sees Fukkk Offf teaming up with Hazel for a full on Hip-Hop electro workout. It's a funky tune that funks the hell out as Hazel flows like the Rhine.

Be on the lookout for a full remix package of ‘Worldwide’ in early 2011.

Download: Brain Rock
Download: World Wide

Madison Makes Some Noise

While NYC via Miami's independent pop noise-maker Madison only recently announced the impending release of her debut EP in January of next year, it's no surprise that she's quickly begun to turn some heads.

Madison's signature sound is a postmodern pop pastiche with street-smart style--high fashion for lowbrows, if you will--and a refreshing reminder that great pop music is essential even in today's world of pervasive indie. She lives this ethos everyday. Madison left the world of academia to pursue music, trading a past as a published neuroscience and medical school student for the New York art scene to pursue the science of pop.

The first installment of a 4-part EP series/multi-part pop and art project, The Noise Some People Make will be released on January 11th, 2011 on her very own G Records. Madison is madly pursuing a new perspective to pop music: the setting of trends, the making of tastes, a business model that is perfect for the new music "industry" - playing by one's own rules, which for Madison means having no rules at all; pop made with no boundaries, no labels, no super star producer--and entirely on Madison's own terms.

Download: Hot Hot Love
Download: Number One

Victim of Sensual Harassment

If you've ever experienced one of those nights and dreamt you were being chased through an enchanted black forest by an army of blood-thirsty zombies, Sensual Harassment may have just created the perfect accompanying soundtrack. "Boss", the lead single from their new album Alpha Draconis, is a fist-pumping, rock massacre staged on a hypnotic horror-disco dance floor.

Working closely again with producer Jesse Cannon (Animal Collective, The Cure), the Brooklyn band has crafted a dense and otherworldly blend that melds the precision percussion and screaming TB-303 synth lines of 'Homework' era Daft Punk with the bold and brassy synth jabs of early New Order, all narrated by a claustrophobic vocal so densely packed with reverb and delay that it's panic-inducing in it's own right. In true form, the band avoids convention and ends the journey with unexpected waves of ear-piercing shoegaze guitar noise that despite it's somber overtones, feels like a cathartic escape.

Dramatic, proggy, epic, and sounding as though they've come from another planet, Sensual Harassment have come up with some special blend of rock and dance music that' would make Moroder blush. "Boss," is crazy post-everything that fits somewhere between Blue Oyster Cult, the dance floor and a car chase.

Download: Boss

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Take a Trip to Bell Gardens

Bell Gardens began with just two friends (Kenneth James Gibson and Brian McBride) over many late nights talking and playing for each other the songs that have inspired them over the years. Songs such as the Beach Boy’s, "Cuddle Up," Jack Nitzsche’s, "We Have to Stay," and even a Bobby Vinton song or two, seemed to make sense of their lives at the time. Even when the duo first thought about making music together, Skeeter Davis’s, "End of the World," was unanimously chosen as a piece that the duo would aspire to properly cover.

When Brian traveled to Europe in the Fall of 2007 to tour for Stars of the Lid’s And The Refinement of the Decline, Kenneth had sent him some demos of some tracks he had been working on. While Brian sat in the van awaiting his next performance, he starred out at the European countryside studying the Gibson’s tracks and other songs that he had loved for some time but wanted a better understanding of why. Occasionally before the beginning of a performance, Brian would turn to these recordings. Upon returning from tour, recording for the duo began.

Initial recordings found Kenneth and Brian trying to stay faithful to a time period in which songs had been recorded. Wanting to experiment in what they believed to be a classic type of sound, the two used mainly live instrumentation, thinking about what was available in studios from the 50s to the mid 70s. Pre-set software sounds were rejected for their own recording of pianos, strings and horns. Even the sounds of the strings were often recorded flat in an attempt to preserve both room sounds and the natural sound of the instrument. If you were to ask Kenneth and Brian about the process of recording, they would probably say that the music they’re making in Bell Gardens is more “experimental” for them than their previous work.

A search for Kenneth James Gibson in the Discogs.com database, will turn up eight or more different monikers, from the California dream noise rock project of the middle 90s, The Furry Things to his current techno artisanry as [a]pendics.shuffle. Brian McBride is better known as one half of the nocturnal lullaby giants, Stars of the Lid.

The EP Hangups Need Company by Bell Gardens is loosely based on a sense of “pop” from another time. Although pop is what you could call it, there is still a sense of restraint and unhurried beauty here combined with a sense of heady beds of weirdness. The LA Weekly describes it like this: “It’s gorgeous, rapturous pop balladry with candy-coated Beach Boys falsettos and pre-afro-Phil Spector production. It’s weightless with gravitas. Gibson might be the techno flavor du jour, but this is the stuff that will mark his place. I found him.”

The resulting tunes are haunting ambient works that are layered with all kinds of unique sounds and influences. It's gorgeously quiet stuff that might just scare the bejesus out of you if you're not careful. It's nice to know that in todays crazy world, there are still loads of people that appreciate reflective music...Bell Gardens are one of those bands.

Download: Can We Get (Robert Hampson's La nuit étoilée remix)

La Sera Never Comes Around

Since joining all-female punk trio Vivian Girls during the spring of 2007 Katy Goodman's DIY-style bass playing and drifty-faded vocals have sent waves of adoration rippling throughout Brooklyn's pop punk circuit. Her newest band La Sera showcases her signature style, bringing her talent for creating dreamy pop songs even more to the forefront.

After touring the world with Vivian Girls, releasing a handful of well-received records, and starting record label Wild World with her band mates, Goodman started exploring other outlets. She played in the short-lived dream-pop band All Saints Day in the spring of 2010, and a self-titled limited-edition 7" of spectral tunes was released on indie label Art Fag earlier this year.

In February 2010 Goodman started working on some fresh material that inspired the formation of her brand new band, La Sera. Her inspiration sprung from an attraction to early pop hits from the 1950's and ethereal choral vocals. Her new songs contain warm celestial-pop melodies that echo with the dreamlike effect of a church choir and effuse a softer, less aggressive sound than the Vivian Girls.

La Sera's new single, "Never Come Around," is pure genius. It's all dreamy lovelorn pop with a sort of doo wop feel to it and shows a completely different and slightly psychotic side to Katy Goodman that makes her all the more endearing.

Exit Clov Is All About Fun

Blending the essential ingredients of electro pop and grunge like a best of the 90's super combo, DC's Exit Clov has one trait you'll be hard pressed to ignore... FUN!

Exit Clov were discovered as a recommendation from DeVotchka's management and have kept an eye on the band ever since. Their single, "District Menagerie" beautifully combines electronic drums with twin female vocal harmonies over a simplistic piano melody. Alternatively, their music video for"MK Ultra" has more of an old-school punk feel with a touch of Atari filling in the gaps.

It's fun stuff and a throw back to bands like Moonpools and Caterpillars or even Letters to Cleo!

Download: District Menagerie
Watch: MK Ultra

Sistol Looks On The Bright Side

Under the moniker Sistol, Sasu Ripatti just released his most club-friendly album yet, On The Bright Side fuses the thump of 4/4 tech-house with the sound palette of the contemporary post-dubstep movement.

A welcome return for his Sistol moniker, the new album has been getting great reviews and his works are being reinterpreted by some of today's finest young producers. This November, Halo Cyan will release two 12-inches of singles from the OTBS album and remixes called On The Brighter Side.

On The Brighter Side Vol. 1 (out 11.9)
A1 (Permission to) Avalanche
A2 (Permission to) Avalanche (Redshape Remix)
B1 Contaminate Her
B2 Contaminate Her (Jori Hulkkonen Remix)

On The Brighter Side Vol. 2 (out 11.16)
A1 On the Bright Side (Scuba's Brighter Side Remix)
A2 Hospital Husband (FaltyDL's 90s Bleep Mix: When Purple Was Green)
B1 Funseeker (Oneohtrix Point Never's Rainbro Remix)
B2 A Better Shore (Walls Remix)

Download: On The Bright Side
Download: Funseeker (Oneohtrix Point Never Rainbro Remix)
Download: On The Bright Side (The Brighter Side Scuba Remix)

The So So Glos Meet Fred Astaire

Meet The So So Glos. Theirs is a New York story, not in the "only in..." sense-despite their unusual beginnings-but in the way that New York's story is about inclusion amidst tumult, about embracing both dark days and bright nights, about politics being personal and doing it yourself.

They are, literally, a band of brothers. Singer-bassist Alex and guitarist Ryan Levine were raised under the same Brooklyn roof. Drummer Zach Staggers became their stepbrother at the age of 4, and lived nearby anyway-they'd gone to preschool together and founded their own proto-punk "Bad Boys Club." Guitarist Matt Elkin arrived in 2007, one year after the band formed, a long-lost sibling in spirit whose induction to the fraternity was immediate and complete. And in their four years, the Glos have cut a brash creative swath through their native city that includes three records made, two all-ages venues founded, and at least one jaw broken.

Along the way, the Glos have earned a reputation for a ripping live show, which they've brought to all-ages clubs, fans' kitchens, scene fundraisers and traditional venues alike. They've also constructed (literally) a new performance space and HQ, Shea Stadium, which has hosted punk rock fetes as well as overnight dance parties with Danceteria and avant 1980s DJs. October brings a fresh EP recorded at the Rare Book Room by Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Fiery Furnaces, Animal Collective). Naturally, it's named Low Back Chain Shift, after a distinct facet of the New York drawl.

Download: Fred Astaire

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sub Swara Have Itchy Trigger Fingers

I'm still playing catch up from being on vacation over the last two weeks and rather than spend time writing loads and loads, I figured I could cut to the chase with some of the stuff I'm posting.

With that in mind, here's what Sub Swara had to say about their latest mixtape, "When we set out to create a series of mixtapes around “Triggers,” we wanted to do more than the standard re-arrangement of the album track list, with features by some of our favorite artists. The Sub Swara live sets have grown from a shared-DJ-set program into an amalgam of a lot of things: our own original material is the foundation, to which we add live percussion, sampled elements, field sounds, horn sections… all presented as a 90-minute spontaneous, dance floor journey though a myriad of tempos and genres, tied together by intense basslines and relentless percussive energy. We wanted to showcase these things–but with more of a mixtape vibe than a live show."

Here's the track list to the mixtape...
Triggers Volume 1
1. Sub Swara – Steam
2. Distal – Coke Bottle
3. Sub Swara – Bend You
4. Moldy – Embrace the Filth
5. Julio Bashmore – Batak Groove
6. Sub Swara – Vagabond Knowledge
7. Sub Swara – In Ether
8. Kraddy – Minotaur
9. Tinie Tempah – Written in the Stars (Starkey Remix)
10. Sub Swara – Schemes
11. Sub Swara – Future Fresh
12. Ultragamma – Stars Collapse
13. Big Boi – Shutterbug (Sub Swara Remix)
14. Stuart Bogie (Antibalas & Superhuman Happiness) – Horn Interlude
15. Sub Swara – October
16. Sub Swara – Bird of Paradise

Download: Triggers Mixtape Volume 1

Gospel Claws Testifies!

Gospel Claws formed in late fall of 2007 when Marquard decided to team up with long time friend Sloan Walters. Marquard stepped away from his founding role in Dear and the Headlights in the fall of that year and tapped into the enormous catalog of songs that he had amassed outside of the band. John Mulhern was a long time friend of both Sloan and Joel, who was listening in on a practice one day when Sloan had the idea to put a bass on him and teach him how to play it. Mulhern had never played anything besides the radio (as they say), but picked up the bass guitar duties quickly enough.

Wesley Hilsabeck joined on guitar in late 2007 thanks to Marquard’s propensity for stalking. Marquard, who was a DHL driver at the time, made a delivery of cookies to Hilsabeck’s house and recognized the name on the box. The two had met years back and had some mutual acquaintances, so Marquard left a note with the cookies, "Kind of a will you join my band: YES, NO, or MAYBE kind of thing." Hilsabeck called Marquard that night and the two made an instant musical connection. With the group complete, they began playing shows in the downtown Phoenix art scene.

In late 2009, Gospel Claws began recording their debut LP, C–L–A–W–S at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, Arizona. The band co-produced and tracked entirely with Bob Hoag (The Format, Joel Plaskett), who mostly recorded the band live except for vocals and some ancillary instrumentation. This was a departure from the band's previous recording methods, which had been recorded layer by layer to a click track. The results of these “live on the floor” recording sessions with no tempo mapping or extensive over-dubbing showcased a band that had become surprisingly tight and polished, but still had plenty of timing swing to live up to the “gospel” in its name.

Sounding something like a refreshed and still vital Clap Your Hands & Say Yeah, Gospel Claws bring the indie rock with a nice serving of quirkiness on the side. The songs that make up C–L–A–W–S are melodic and catchy despite sounding as though they're about to shatter into a million pieces. It's angular and choppy stuff that lays on the harmonies so that your mind will be able to piece it all together in order. It might not bash you over the head with its accessibility but they'll wear you down and as a result makes C–L–A–W–S is an impressive debut.
Download: Walk Me Down
Download: Avenues

Atashi Tada Gets Sick

Atashi Tada was born in Riga, Latvia and began her musical career at age of 6 in a piano class at school. From that moment on, it's been nothing short of a white knuckle roller coaster ride that's included participation as a vocalist in several rock-bands and the creation of a Japanese language musical partnership with a friend. From there she took part in acoustic band covering popular songs and then finally discovered the joys of electronic music. The rest as they say is history.

'Atashi Tada' has two different meanings in Japanese: "Just me", and informal "Me for nothing". In combination they reflect the contradictory nature of the singer's philosophical outlook in a every cynical world. Her versatile nature translates into a clear awareness of imperfection and transience within the material world and yet despite all that her feet are placed firmly on the ground. Such a personality allows Atashi Tada to play with extremes and create vortexes of different energies around herself and that carries on to her music.

At the moment Atashi Tada co-operates with electronic music label Spanda Records based in Berlin, Germany. She's just released her latest single, Sick which you can hear below.

Download: Sick
Download: Acceleration

Tahiti 80 Are In Solitary Bizness

Formed by multi instrumentalists Xavier Boyer, Médéric Gontier, Sylvain Marchand & Pedro Resende, Tahiti 80’s adventure began in the French cities of Rouen and Paris in the mid 90s.

Now on their ninth EP, Solitary Bizness EP, is a prelude to their upcoming fifth album, The Past, The Present & The Possible, and represents the strongest experimentation of the band’s career while still maintaining the it’s signature sound. Recorded in T80s “Tahitilab”, the new EP and album once again capture singer/guitarist Xavier Boyer’s breezy vocals and heartfelt lyrics, while infectious beats, rhythms and boops uncontrollably propel the mind and body. Both the EP and album are being released on T80s own label, Human Sounds.

And you know both are going to be good...have Tahiti 80 ever steered you wrong? No, I don't think so. These guys have mastered the art of breezy pop and whether it's experimental (?) or full on pop, the quality and songs are always going to be there. It's just hard they've been at it for as long as they have.

Download: Keys to The City

Monday, November 1, 2010

Throw A Wild Party!

What do you get when you take five gangly kids from the middle of Texas, give them a laptop and some beat up guitars, and tell them to make a record? Well, a Wild Party of course. Developing from its conception in Lincoln Kreifels (vocals) and Lucas Hughes' (guitars) bedroom laptop demos, the Party is now getting started in the UK with the release of double A-side single ‘Take My Advice / Life’s Too Short’. It will be released on 15 November through Friend Vs Records, on 7” vinyl and download.

Sounding remarkably like The Killers at times; Wild Party could easily be the love child of The Killers and The Strokes. However, upon closer listen, it sounds like the band have taken the best parts of the sixties, seventies and eighties, put them in a blender, then shaken with a few shots of vodka. Imagine The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and Flock of Seagulls got locked into a studio for a week with nothing but their instruments, a disco ball and a healthy supply of grain alcohol.

Take My Advice is anthemic in its aspirations and it's catchy enough to reel in even the most cynical listener.

Download: Life's Too Short

Rachel Goodrich Turns On A Light Bulb

Hailing from Miami Florida, Rachel Goodrich arrived on the scene with her 2008 debut album Tinker Toys, which turned the heads of some notable press outlets for it's upbeat, addicting, and eclectic version of vaudeville-inspired indie pop.

In a city chock full of djs and electronic artists, Rachel captures a different part of her hometown's sunny elements to create music that truly stands out from the rest of the pack. The New York Times which dubbed her as a "queen of the Miami indie rock scene," and her music has already been featured in the Showtime TV series Weeds, the MTV show My Life as Liz, and a national Crayola advertising campaign.

Rachel Goodrich is putting the finishing touches on her second full length album, Rachel Goodrich, which will be released on February 21st, 2011 on her own Yellow Bear Records imprint. Joining the fray this time is Grammy winning producer Greg Wells, who has worked with the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Weezer, Katy Perry, Timbaland,Jamie Cullum, and many more. The 11-song full length album will be accompanied by a handful of Spring tour dates as well.

Check out a "Light Bulb" for a bit of so twee it hurts indie pop that's so filled with sunshine and happiness it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face THEN watch the video for a truly unreal experience. Seriously. Some people get it...Rachel and everyone associated with her, clearly do.

Download: Light Bulb

NDF & Banjo or Freakout & You

DFA Records released NDF’s single Since We Last Met as a 12” & digital single on August 30th. Soon after, the label asked London-based bedroom pop artist Banjo or Freakout (aka Alessio Natalizia) to cover the track- one week later, the final cover version found its way to DFA!

Since We Last Met is NDF’s first single on DFA. Bored with both rock and roll and his own name, ex-drummer Steven Ford released his debut 12", a techno single titled Read Me/Silver City, under the pseudonym Bruno Pronsato in 2003. The response to that release, though overwhelmingly positive, was dwarfed by the critical praise heaped on its follow-ups: 2007's Why Can't We Be Like Us, which effectively established Pronsato as one of the most innovative and vital producers in dance music, and 2009's groundbreaking The Make Up The Break Up, which further cemented his credentials as a visionary.

NDF combines Pronsato's talents with those of Sergio Giorgini – one half of Benoit & Sergio, whose rose-lensed debut EP, What I've Lost, was released through Pronsato's thesongsays label. On their auspicious first outing, Since We Last Met, NDF offer music almost perfectly summed up in their own words as "dance music twilit by…melancholy."

And if you want melancholy, just wait til you hear the cover. Banjo or Freakout disembody the tune and send it into the grey and grim ether between the netherworld and ours. It's a haunting rework that's about as far away from being dance music as one could be. Gorgeous, slow, and chilling, the version that they've come up with is something to hear.

Download: Since We Last Met

Do You Have Impossible Hair?

Hailing from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Impossible Hair have been quietly constructing pop songs, conspicuously jumping up and down on stages, and convincing rooms of people that it is OK to move at a rock n’ roll show.

As is to be expected from a horse racing record, their latest release, Toast a Dozen (on the outside), is a high-energy, fast-paced affair with fifteen songs flying by in just over thirty minutes. Song titles like “High Official,” “The Girl & the Echo” and “White Knuckle Flyer” would seem as at home on a Preakness Stakes exactly as they do on the back of this record.

Toast a Dozen was recorded to analog tape with producer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth) during the blizzard of 2010 in the band’s basement. Toast a Dozen (on the outside) will be released tomorrow. Look out for Impossible Hair east coast tour dates!

Download: The High Official
Download: You Can Own