18.11.05

No Posts

Sorry guys ... I have a terrible internet connection now. No posts, I think, for about 1 month. Sorry -- the lack of internet is killing me, too!
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10.11.05

Vibrations 2.5

vibrations
Okay ... I've got a mish-mash of stuff here. Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be a pretty substantial wave of new bands that are really digging 60s beachy, surfy, poppy sounds. (Re: my previous "Vibrations" posts). So with this post, I'm trying to go in a different direction. Faunts is a "hauntingly beautiful and definitely hopeful" Canadian group whose music is full of "high expectations/low results" (I'm quoting them right now). That's a good way to put it, though ... they certainly have an ambitious sound ... one that mimics shoegaze and atmospheric rock, but doesn't quite pull it off, giving their style a special place in my heart.
Faunts - Memories of Places We've Never Been
Faunts - What I'd Love To Hear You Say

The Wet Secrets is another Canadian group. I like them a lot. Their singer has a voice similar to the Hot Hot Heat guy's voice, but it's more passionate ... more convincing, with a twinge of spite in it. Or something. This is a good description of their style: "The Wet Secrets are what would come if the B-52s had sex with Broken Social Scene, with Lil' John as the midwife!"
the Wet Secrets - Half Whale Half Cow
the Wet Secrets - Boat Gas Death Train
the Wet Secrets - Mr Rimjob 1999
the Wet Secrets - Karate Space Tiger

Now for a complete departure: Calvoon: a light-weight goofy dancey rock group from the UK. I like them because they don't seem to take themselves too seriously and they play dancey music that isn't necessarily inspired by Gang of Four (the most inspirational band for many dance/punk groups), and that is just ... fun! Calvoon's music is like the Blues Brothers stuff mixed with new wave of the 80s. Cute harmonies, but rough voices make for an interesting and never-done-before sound. Good.
Calvoon's Myspace page

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8.11.05

Vibrations 2.3

vibrations
I'm not really into country music. Not even the "better" country. But I like Rumiko Jr., a British six-piece group. Maybe it's because they're British (yet signed to a Spanish label) that they're a little different than most of the country you'll hear coming out of the states.
Rumiko Jr. - Little Nothing
Rumiko Jr. - Broken Vessel
Rumiko Jr. - Sweep the Ashes

I feel another wave of hype approaching, but this time it's the Mystery Jets that are surfing it. They're music is cool because they consistently have really interesting vocal harmonies and the vocals seem to be more central to their songs than most bands' are. I want them to get hyped ... they deserve it.
Mystery Jets - Alas Agnes

The Village Orchestra is the solo project of Ruaridh Law. I have never heard minimalist music like this before. Usually I don't dig it too much, but Law's blend of noise and pretty melodies makes for an good sound.
The Village Orchestra - Love Theme From Two Man Rumble

Fuck-off Machete is, I agree, a very angry sounding band name. And they're promotional photos suggest that as well ... and I guess they are a little angry. The vocalist's voice me of Kim Gordon's, but the guitars and clearer and punkier than anything Sonic Youth has recorded. Still that stop and start sort of sound, though. I really like these guys ...
Fuck-off Machete - Copper And Lead Fight


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7.11.05

Rumble 1.3

rumble
Rumble is the post I'll use from now on to write about reading material.
Japanland, the international director, Karin Muller's new book, looks good, especially for those of us who are living in Japan for one year. From the reviews, it looks particularity interesting, as she did not just stay in the country or just the cities. She did plenty of both, and I think that that contrast will make the book more of an interesting read. I think ... haven't read it yet.
Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door is a new collaborative book of photographs, documenting the densely populated and modern city of Hong Kong. It looks like the book took a tremendous amount of effort to create and compile, so I would be curious to see what's within! (Update: look at many pictures here).
David Marxy's latest post is pretty interesting. He explains that the Japanese system of transportation (and many of their systems) work perfectly when nothing goes wrong, but a slight miscalculation sets the whole structure into chaos.
I liked Stylus Magazine's feature, A Week In The Musical Life ... Diary, as it captured the life of a guy working behind the music scene. Always fun to see how things work and are behind the finished product.
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Vibrations 2.2

vibrations
This week I've got a mish mash of stuff for all of ya. Hope you enjoy some of it:

Wintergreen, is a cutesy British synth-pop band. Maybe a little too cutesy sometimes. Their music reminds me of some of Broken Social Scene's stuff ... or at least the introductions to some of their songs. Listen to:
Wintergreen - The Rule of Small Things
Wintergreen - Squirrel In the Wallspace
Wintergreen - Are Our Future

Phantom Buffalo is a Portland-based group that plays almost wacky, but exuberant Byrds-inspired pop songs. Really neat stuff in terms of instrumentation, with creative and fun lyrics to boot. Listen to:
Phantom Buffalo - Be The Boss
Phantom Buffalo - Killing's Not Okay
Phantom Buffalo - A Hilly Town

Lastly, I've got another girl band for you ... the Schla La Las. Yeah -- gaggy name, as they do take to the Shangri-Las, but they're good. Four guitars and one drummer make for a really pretty girl band sound. Nice, tight harmonies, too. Listen to:
the Schla La Las - Shallowgirl
the Schla La Las - Hawaiian
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6.11.05

Weekly: Not Now

headshoppe
This week, I bring you all two bands that are playing music that is definitely not from this time.
The Dials are a four-piece band (three girls, one guy!), devoted to playing power-punk addled 60s garage rock. A neat kind of mixture of styles that works pretty well. And I always dig female voices ...
They have a MySpace page, too!
But the main reason I wanted to write this post was for the sake of Headshoppe, a London-based collective that plays the music that Architecture in Helsinki would play if they wanted to be more like Madness. It's really hard to describe because the band seems to be not only concerned with making cool music, but also with making a unique unique band image for themselves. Like Madness in that regard, I guess. It's as though the mod crew have returned, but this time they're not interested in Gola shoes and Vespas. This time they're interested in trench coats and psychedelic rock (not that they play much psych, but their guitars have that sort of edge to them).
Listen to Ostopediac and Two Steps. I liked this quote from their blog:
No press things here as of yet. It doesn't sit easy with us to be honest, some kind of 'Hey, aren't headshoppe great and here's why...' spiel that's a bit of self bugle blowing nonsense.

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4.11.05

Vibrations 1.6

vibrations
Vibrations is going to be my mp3 post. I won't talk much about bands here ... just point stuff out briefly.

Spain has a ... power-pop scene!? I didn't believe it, either! Here are the Spanky Darth Vaders:
Bring Those Words To Bed
Strawberry Crush

Au Revoir Simone is a girl band from Brooklyn ... three keyboards and three lovely voices.
Back In Time
Stay Golden

Things That Go Pop is like the Double's [pop] evil-twin-brother ... dissonant and hooky, yet ... poppy!
Pop Yourself
Never Knows Best

All Of A Sudden! is a neato one-man-pop-band ... kind of like the Magnetic Fields with a ukele. Or something.
I'll Watch Some Movies Instead
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3.11.05

Tapes 'n' Cheekbones

tapes 'n' tapes
This isn't a new weekly, because it has no common theme, I think. I should get a name for this sort of post. And I could number them like they're updated versions of the original post (i.e. 1.6 = "week one, day six").
Okay -- anyway ... I've got two new bands. First is Tapes 'n' Tapes. I like this band. They play this hip breed of folk-pop stuff, with a twinge of Western ... it's as though their songs were arranged by Ennio Morricone or something. Also, they record their stuff in the Batwing! How cool is that!? They've got plenty of songs posted on their website, but I find Insistor to be a really good song from their album, The Loon.
You all know the Walkmen, of course. And I'm sure that a bunch of you know how most of the members of the mysterious Jonathan Fire*Eater band quit the group and went off to form the Walkmen. I don't think I've ever heard anything by JF*E, but I've always heard that they were good. Well, apparently, the Walkmen is JF*E minus one guy: Stewart Lupton. Well, Lupton has shown his face again. He is playing in a band called the Childballads. The group will be releasing the single for Cheekbones on December 5th through Loog Records. I'm excited, because the group is good! Much different than the Walkmen, certainly ... they remind me, for some reason, of Rilo Kiley, if there was a solid male vocalist in the group. They do "country" (should I be calling it that? There's also something a little ... wacky about their sound) ... good!
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2.11.05

Why Make A Band?

good shoes
As a mere reviewer and blogger, I find it incredibly difficult to understand the life of a band before a record release. That is, I don't really know why a band forms, and I don't really know how they even write and create their music. It's like if I attempted to learn Japanese just by listening to tutorial tape conversations, as opposed to true conversations with actual people, and not simply re-using textbook lines. For some reason, when I see a band comprised of a bunch of sad-looking, 5 o'clock shadow dudes, I think they must be in their band for fame or self-gratification. And that tends to be the generic press photo: 4 or 5 guys, all clad with creative t-shirts, flashy jackets, and well-worn shoes. Whenever I see this sort of thing, I immediately think "ah -- they just made the band to achieve a 'rock and roll' lifestyle." That's probably wrong of me, but it's what I think. You can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge a band by its photo. Or can you?
Well, anyway, I like seeing crummy band photos ... hastily taken, and poorly thought out. It's that sort of picture that reassures me that the band was created for the sole purpose of music. They didn't slave over a stupid picture for hours ... they don't need that photo to tell us listeners who they are.
So -- first off, we've got Good Shoes, a fantastic London quartet. I can only describe their sound as British indie-rock. They almost sound like a hybrid between the Fall and Aztec Camera, with a bit of the Strokes on top. Their stuff is full of hooks, always upbeat, and nice and jangly. But the vocals are laid back ... sometimes a little lazy. That reminds me of the Strokes and the Fall for some reason. I looked so bloody hard for tracks by these guys, and finally came across a bunch of studio stuff they recorded ... listen to Small Town Girl, a song which is getting them a bit of fame in the UK.
Now, the Young Knives truly remind me of the Fall. Dissonant, yet structured (and also hooky) melodies, and strained vocals. But there's also something very ... Gang of Four about them. Maybe it's the precise drumming or the yelling vocalist. I don't know. Listen to a bunch of their stuff here.
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1.11.05

Weekly: The Follow Up

the pipettes
Okay -- here's two new bands for all of you. Remember when I said that I tend to stay away from girl bands? Well, here's the band that proves the rule wrong: the Pipettes, a three-piece group from, uh ... England. Okay, so they've released one single and have a song featured on a comp, but I still consider them, for the sack of practicality, "unsigned." The group, as they say themselves, is heavily influenced by the work of Phil Spector and the teen pop that followed in his footsteps. And they do a good job of it , too! Really jangly, peppy, and of course poppy stuff. Cute, yet sharp vocals, and crispy production make for a very authentic sound, if you could call a 60s throwback band trully authentic. Listen to Dirty Mind, a song which has an unusual lo-fi, guitar pop vibe. Cool how they sort of change up the "girl band" style of the 60s, I guess.
Okay, so I've been listening to this other, most definitely unsigned band called Ghetto Pony. Really hard to classify these guy. Also really hard to not draw Unicorns comparisons. But they have that same spontaneous, "let's see how this turns" out sort of approach to creating music. Or so it sounds. They like to use drum machines and Casios ... stuff like that. I can't complain, because it's really rather good and well arranged. Kind of like if Arcade Fire songs were performed by a band of 4th graders. Cool, cool ... listen to ... everything they've done here.
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