Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Starflyer 59

Starflyer 59 - "Something Evil"

Alright, so we're two weeks away from a brand new Starflyer 59 album, Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice, from these 10+ years Tooth & Nail veterans, so I thought it'd be a good time to dish out this little preview. It's the only track off the album that I've heard so far, but it's enough bait for me to bite the hook again. I've never passed up a SF59 disc and I don't think I ever will. Every record is just solid. This song here contains this sort of...brooding, spooky rubber-band-stretching-wider-and-wider guitar riff that lurks up behind you and ensnares you. Pretty sweet, if you ask me. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the record. I've heard nothing but good stuff said about it so far.

UPDATE: Just found this song, too. Might even like this one better. Enjoy...

Starflyer 59 - "Good Sons"
(where'd it go? you missed it! come back often so you don't miss out on future mp3s.)

Out Hud

Out Hud - "How Long"

Holy geez. March is the month for much-hyped-about album releases. There are several records that have a notable amount of anticipation attached to them that will finally be coming to a store near you. However, the one that's really got me lurking in the shadows and ready to pounce all over it is Out Hud's Let Us Never Speak of It Again, the follow-up to their 2003 effort, S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D., which absolutely blew me off my fanny.
The most notable change between this and the five-piece's last album is the addition of vocals, courtesy of the girls in the band. I think it adds just the right amount of accessibility to their grungy, post-punk house. That'll be good for them, I think, and may get them some additional and much-deserved attention from the less adventurous listeners out there who can't get into anything without lyrics.
In this song, you'll hear what vocals I'm talking about, and I'm almost certain you won't disagree with me that it's a nice touch. It's a great track all around, but I'll just add that there are even better ones found elsewhere on the album, "Old Nude" being my current favorite. I just chose this one to post here b/c it's the only full track available to download from the band's official website. There are a few other short samples from the album that you can listen to here. The thing that is easy to forget when listening to Out Hud is that this is a LIVE BAND, not some electronic project from a guy sitting behind a turntable and a Roland 808 or something. Amazing.
Buy Let Us Never Speak of It Again on March 22nd.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Squeak E. Clean & Karen O.

Karen O & Squeak E Clean - "Hello Tomorrow"

I'm obsessed with this new Adidas commercial. The first time I saw it on TV, I was instantly reminded of...

...'Being John Malkovich', first of all, because of all the going down dark holes and stuff. I loved that whole Alice In Wonderland-type of thing that was going on in 'B.J.M.' - shwoop!, right down the rabbit hole ear canal! And so, of course, I'm inclined to love it here in this commercial, too. I also thought of...

...'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', due to the way a spotlight is used to create the sense that what's going on is not in the waking world, but in the mind. I imagine this is quite similar to how things look in my dreams while I'm dreaming them, but I can't say so with much certainty. Most of my dreams are not something I can remember with a high degree of vividness. When I do remember them, it's just the storyline and not so much the details of my surroundings. That's one reason I like the use of black and darkness surrounding the action.

So I thought to myself, "Could it be possible that either Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry - the directors for the 2 films above, respectively - were responsible for creating this gem of a commercial?"
A little research helped me to figure out that the video was, in fact, helmed by Spike. Sweetness. Anyway, It's a really cool spot and the song that's used suits it perfectly, too. It reminds me of something that one of those things that hangs over the crib would play to lull a little baby to sleep. Took me a bit of searching to figure out who it was. Initially, I thought it was the Concretes. They did just have a song featured in a Target commercial, after all. But I was wrong. The track was actually composed by Spike's brother, Sam Spiegel, under the pseudonym of Squeak E. Clean, with Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontgirl Karen O. on vocals. Thank you, Boardsmag, for helping me solve that minor mystery and for posting the commercial to the 'net.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


13&goD - "Soft Atlas"

This is the b-side off the first single to be extruded from the upcoming 13&goD collaboration. This Voltron-like team of experimental musicians is half-German (the Acher brothers & Console of the Notwist) and half-American (Doseone, Jel, & Dax Pierson of Themselves). Who said you couldn't mix glitchy electronic pop with off-the-wall, almost stream-of-consciousness free-rap? The philosophical meandering, the stark & minimal piano, the Speak-n-Spell samples, the lazily delivered but well harmonized rounds of the repetitive rhyme that takes us out...it all adds up to a pretty hypnotizing track. I feel like I'm caught in this state of dreaming like Wiley Wiggins was in Waking Life, and I can't tell what's real and what's dream. My heads even bobbing up and down, as if I was dozing off in my front of my computer...idgkle ziuyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
- oh, sorry...
If you can listen to .ram files, you can get a sneak-preview of the self-titled full-length record at Alien Transistor, the site which bears the same name as the recording studio that belongs to 13&goD/Notwist member Markus Acher.
You can bet your sweet ace in the hole that I'll be tracking that disc down as soon as it becomes available (May 3rd on Anticon). Til' then, if you're the impatient type, you can find this song on the flipside of 13&goD's "Men of Station/Soft Atlas" double-single 12" or CD, out now and available from Midheaven. If you pick that up, you'll also be treated to a couple remixes from Alias, Why?, and Hrvatski. Sweeeeet.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Brendan Benson

Brendan Benson - "What I'm Looking For"

"To some people it's an easy choice
But for me it's the devil in an angel's voice"

This is a catchy-as-hell tune from Royal Oak, Michigan native Brendan Benson (what up, represent Royal Oak, yo!). It's taken from his brand new album, The Alternative to Love, which will be out this Tuesday, March 22nd.

Though I've only lived in Royal Oak myself for about two years, I've known about Brendan since way back in 1996, after I bought his debut album, One Mississippi from a Newbury Comics in Salem, New Hampshire. Ten years and three major labels later, Brendan's proving once more that he is no stranger to crafting memorable, fun, and pretty damn irresistible pop songs. The Alternative to Love is the catchiest bunch of songs I've heard all year, hands down. I can't get them out of my head. I can't stop listening to the album (it's absolutely owned my listening time for a couple weeks now). And, after 2002's equally solid Lapalco, I can't believe he's hasn't earned more notoriety around the music world by now. Each time Benson releases an album, critical acclaim soon follows. Yet for some reason - maybe because of the pathetic state of radio today - he remains a secret to a, relatively speaking, small legion of loyal fans. That may change soon, however, as The Alternative to Love is just way too good. Couple that with the fact that this tune landed a spot on last night's episode of The O.C. & a full-length collaboration with Jack White already put to tape and awaiting release (probably early 2006), and I've got my money on the name 'Brendan Benson' making its way across many more lips real soon. Do yourself a favor and, on Tuesday, buy the CD and become B.F.F. with it. Spread the love. This guy deserves it.

In 'What I'm Looking For', Benson entertains the thought of settling down with somebody for good. It's pretty amusing and yet strikingly personal and endearing, as well. And like I said earlier, it's super catchy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Early Day Miners

Early Day Miners - "Errance"

Bloomington, Indiana's Early Day Miners are one of those bands that I've long heard about but never actually heard. I also recognized their name from a split 7" that they did with Unwed Sailor, instrumental post-rock vehicle of one Jonathan Ford (ex-Pedro the Lion/ex-Roadside Monument). Four or five years ago, I sort of *accidentally* witnessed Unwed Sailor live at the unlikeliest of venues (David's Place, VA) and had been completely blindsided by them. It was eye-opening, surreal. So when I noticed Early Day Miners had released a new record, All Harm Ends Here, on Secretly Canadian a couple months ago, I decided to finally give them a listen. After all, if they could somehow be aligned with Unwed Sailor, maybe they were pretty good. In fact, as it turns out, my suspicions weren't off the mark at all. Hear for yourself. If this song is any indication, then I've got some backtracking to do in EDM's catalog.

Their sound is one that leans a tad toward the side of mellower rock, but it's exquisitely rich. Listening to this song, my mind conjures up images of sunlight and open skys just as they're beginning to peek through thick layers of clouds. There's a sense of some kind of healing taking place - it's refreshing, almost cathartic. There's an undeniable presence of some element of hope in EDM's music (for me, at least). I know things like that and visual imagery connected to music are usually quite subjective. Regardless, the product of this band's densely layered & noodled guitarwork and it's driving rhythm section is quite enveloping, mood-inducive, and incredibly soothing. And it's so gentle. At certain moments, Joseph Brumley's vocals are so delicate that they practically disappear in the mix. These are things that I do not feel can be argued.

Also recommended: check out the video for "Comfort/Guilt", another track from All Harm Ends Here. It's pretty cool.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Lucksmiths

The Lucksmiths are just about as infectious as S.A.R.S. Their happy-go-lucky whimsical pop is just too hard to resist, even to the coldest of hearts. It wasn't long after I was first introduced to them (via the tune, "Guess How Much I Love You") that I was quickly searching out and scooping up everything else they had recorded. I was doing okay for awhile, keeping up with their recorded output. But those crazy kids are so freaking prolific that before I knew it, I'd missed out on their last couple releases. Hey, it's hard to stay in the loop when they're all the way over in Steve Irwin Country. And just as I was getting caught up on all their latest stuff, they've gone and finished another batch of new songs. Twelve new songs, grouped together under the name Warmer Corners, will be released in Australian stores on April 4th courtesy of their long-time label home, Candle Records (Matinee Records and Fortuna Pop for those in the US & UK, respectively).

Here's what the Lucksmiths have to say about their new album:

"So here it is – Warmer Corners; everything we’ve always wanted a Lucksmiths album to sound like and more! As usual, there are lots of guitars, some soothing loopy basslines, and a singing drummer who’s far better than Phil Collins, but this time there’s also a horn section who are having a party, a string section who dig Phil Spector, some fiery organs, a lazy pedal steel, and a whole lot of other things that I can’t recall just now."

Those interested in giving it a listen, go here to hear a few samples. You have to promise to tell me how it sounds afterwards, though, since I can't listen to them myself. See, I'm way too cool for RealAudio.

1. A Hiccup in Your Happiness
2. The Music Next Door
3. Great Lengths
4. Now I'm Even Further Away
5. The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco
6. Sunlight in a Jar
7. If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now
8. Young and Dumb
9. Putting It Off and Putting It Off
10. I Don't Want to Walk Around Alone No More
11. The Fog of Trujillo
12. Fiction


Headphones-"Pink & Brown"

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce to you the latest indie supergroup...Headphones.

The bio page on the official Headphones website states:

"Headphones features David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Tim Walsh (Pedro the Lion, TW Walsh), and Frank Lenz (Starflyer 59). Headphones was engineered and mixed by Jared Hankins in Seattle in the early days of 2005.

Built wholly from synthesizers (that’s right, no guitars), live drums, and the familiar warmth of Bazan’s syrupy vocal delivery, Headphones boasts deft arrangements with timeless melodies and uncanny lyrical depth, finding Bazan, Walsh, and Lenz at their best. Clean, open room recording; digital subtleties with analog affectations; seamless integration of electronic and rock and elements — Headphones is a striking, sophisticated success.

Headphones poses a stark simplicity, relying on a limited number of voices — reminiscent of early records by Low. Thematically, Headphones treads dark waters where a certain frankness and antagonism work to confront issues of love, loss and loyalty head on - straight forward, no bull***, no f***ing around."

Headphones' self-titled debut disc will be released by Suicide Squeeze Records on May 10th. Until then, you can stream audio from it over at purevolume.com.