31.8.07

Kudu


Not a whole lot is known about the enigmatic soul/jazz/funk/electronica/urban NYC trio, Kudu, so everyone! catch up here! These guys are musical wizards ... they jump from one dance-y, funky, rhythmic genre to the next in a heartbeat and unpredictably, but there are a few uniting aspects to all their songs.

The singer, Sylvia Gordon, has one of the strongest, most riveting voices in pop music today, recalling old R&B or more jazz/lounge-leaning singers.
The rhythm section is impeccable, too ... while Kudu is a live band, you can't help but feel as though you're listening to a little bit of drum 'n bass here and there just because of the sharpness and forcefulness of the drumming.

It's hard to place these three, and you know what? Don't even try. Kudu is doing something new and unique in the messy, confusing world of pop music, and that should be enough to spark anyone's interest. So check 'em out and try to track down their stellar 2006 LP, Death of the Party.
Kudu - Playing House
Kudu - Magic Touch
Kudu - Bar Star (In Flagranti's Sleek City Mix)

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New Le Nombre


The punky, rocky, raunchy, terribly fun, and oh-so-sexy Canadian group, Le Nombre (MySpace), both of which were recorded with Sunny Duval -- of Les Breastfeeders -- on guitar! Quite a treat from the uh ... booming (?) Montreal punk scene.

The single will be released on the always wonderful Canadian label Bonsound (en Français!), which has quite a few more treats up its sleeve. The folks who brought you Malajube have far from fizzled out or become Malajube-centric: they're embracing a new breed of internationalism with a roster of mainly French-Canadian artists, most of whom sing in French, and all of whom play spicy, jerky, exciting, ridiculously awesome (!) punk or rock or some such vivid guitar-focused genre.

Check out one of the two new Le Nombre tracks, "Sur ton Ile" below!
Le Nombre - Sur ton Ile

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30.8.07

Clipd Beaks


The three-word-or-less "categories" that bands select for publishing right beneath their MySpace page names tend to either be ... not adequate or useful or else a complete joke. Yeah, right ... Feist does grime. And they just seem relatively pointless: what practical purpose do those dumb keywords play?!

Strangely, though, in the case of Clipd Beaks, the genres they've decided to attach themselves to on the web seem just about right! Psychedelic / Progressive / Thrash.
The L.A. four-piece plays this outrageously dense, psych-rock-driven-prog, thrash-y, noise-y, rabid music. It's wonderful. Layer upon layer of screams, shouts, murmurs, utterly distorted and detuned guitars and basses, simple, straight-forward drumming, all amassing into a strangely cohesive, edging on funky or psychedelic whole. You absolutely must give these guys a thorough listen. And do it on your stereo. And play it loud.

Lovepump United is releasing their forthcoming LP, Hoarse Lords, on November 6 so definitely pick that up when it's available and when you're tired of hearing the below songs on your teeny tiny laptop speakers. Both you and the band deserve much, much more. (Also, the packaging is stellar ... no barcode (take that, Man!), entirely hand-written in some bizarre sort of hybrid between hieroglyphics and English, with a bold aesthetic to tie it all together.)
Clipd Beaks - Black Glass
Clipd Beaks - Melter

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Thunderheist

thunderheist
Thunderheist (MySpace) will knock yer socks off. The Montreal duo is real hard to place musically, though. While they're spittin' grime-y, garage-y flows and dropping thick, fat, and bouncy bass lines, you'll be dancing like an idiot. It's dance-rap. Yeah, dance-punk died a long time ago ... now we've got dance-noise with acts like HEALTH, and finally ... dance-rap with Thunderheist. Ridiculous. Infective.

There's a 12" and EP coming out sometime soon, I guess, on Bigfoot Records, but for the time being, just dig these rawkin' tunes. Man do I love it when they break down Eurythmics' "Sweat Dreams" on "Suenos Dulces." Ach. Killer.
Thunderheist - Suenos Dulces
Thunderheist - Jerk It
Thunderheist - Horny

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29.8.07

More Glass Candy


Talk about a tease ... Portland's Glass Candy hasn't released a whole lot of anything official in some time now. The web's a flood with demos, remixes, unknown tracks, and appetite-whetting tunes, not to mention a few hot numbers from the recent Troubleman Unlimited imprint, Italians Do It Better, compilation, After Dark.

But the lead up to whatever it is that the New Wave/dark/dub disco/no-wave funk ensemble (led by the Ida No and Johnny Jewel, who also produces the group's work), it's guaranteed to be spectacular: with every new song, the band gets more confident, brings out more killer hooks and jams, and truly never ceases to amaze.

What more could you ask for?

Anyway. Below's an array of bogglingly good songs. Dig 'em again and again and again ...
Glass Candy - Candy Castle (Demo)
Glass Candy - Geto Boys (Demo)
Glass Candy - Rolling Down the Hills (Demo)

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Blood Lines


Blood Lines is no more, but the Social Registry (one of BiBaBiDi's absolute favorite record labels) is releasing the group's debut LP, XX on October 9.

The band was much hailed for its collaboration with Gang Gang Dance and other NYC no-wave/rock experimentalist/noise musicians, although, to me, the band seems more on level footing with old post-punkers of the 80s like Wall of Voodoo or Bauhaus (or maybe some Captain Beefheart? Something from that era?) than anything else coming out of New York. Although, that's not to say there aren't a plethora of comparisons to be drawn between Blood Lines and other noise bands in the area -- from loads of distortion in every area to mystical, creepy instrumentation, eerie atmospheric qualities, primal rhythms, and an underlying not-made-for-the-masses quality -- they are undeniably in a realm of their own.

Check out "Only the Holy" from the forthcoming LP below!
Blood Lines - Only the Holy

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Cannonball Jane


The mash-up has brought about a whole new variety of music, or at least a whole new way in which we digest and assess music. No longer do we see the musical hodgepodge of, say, Beck, as just that, musical hodgepodge; a potpourri of influences, favorites, intrigues, and random ideas and curiosities. Now, whenever I hear something that reminds of something else, I really try to analyze those foundations. I think that's because of folks like Danger Mouse, Girl Talk, DJ A-Trak, etc. ...

Anyway. Cannonball Jane (MySpace) is a complex blending of Carol King, Francoise Hardy, Bikini Kill/Le Tigre, the Raincoats, and many more female visionaries.

On top of it all, the Cannonball Jane's day job is ... elementary music teacher in a Bridgeport, CT school! Ya never know ...
Cannonball Jane - Take It To Fantastic

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28.8.07

Good HEALTH

HEALTH
The noise-y, dance-y, experimental L.A.-based quartet, HEALTH, just dropped another remix, this time by Curses!, as part of their ongoing effort to be remixed by literally every awesome DJ out there.

A valiant goal, and one that's going rather smoothly, I should say. First and foremost, though, HEALTH should be appreciated for its spectacularly spastic, seizure-inducing, totally raw and open, noise-dance. (That's a new genre in the BiBaBiDi dictionary, by the way.) It's truly a phenomenon to see these guys live. The drumming is like that of a speed metal band and absolutely impeccable, the guitar work is scratchy, jumpy, and refuses to be ignored, while the bass and other percussionist fill everything out, strengthen the rhythmic and [slightly hidden] melodic backbones. A spectacle.

Maybe you should get a glimpse of it all here.

And be sure to listen to the wonderful remixes ... and get a face melt from a few tracks off the forthcoming debut LP, out on September 15 on Lovepump United Records.
HEALTH - Perfect Skin (Curses! Remix)
HEALTH - Glitter Pills
HEALTH - Triceratops (CFCF Remix)
HEALTH - Triceratops

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27.8.07

Video for Nico Vega's "Cocaine Cooked the Brain (Guns 'n Bombs Remix)"


One would believe me to be the biggest Nico Vega (MySpace) fan in the world judging by these two posts. I would like to add this comment to the record: I am not. I'm truly intrigued and impressed, by the L.A. trio's efforts to break through into something more mainstream. They're integrating sex, pop, indie cred (cool remixes, synths, heavy beats), easy-to-remember lyrics (sing along!), and, uh ... cocaine so seamlessly! And for that, I give them kudos.

The Guns 'n Bombs remix of "Cocaine Cooked the Brain" recently got the music video treatment thanks to the wonderful talents of Demonbabies. It's a raunchy, energetic, and fun video, so be sure to check it out. And definitely pick up the 7" or digital single for "Cocaine Cooked the Brain" right over here!

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Welcome


welcome
Seattle's Welcome (MySpace) is a fantastic band and a fantastic find, one that I only wish I'd spotted back in March when they released their debut LP, Sirs on Fat Cat Records.

They play a sublime melding of the noodling, quirky, start-stop antics of Deerhoof and the Unicorns and genuine garage-y psychedelic rock. The bulk of the album's songs are rather short, clocking in around the two-minute mark, but never cease to impress and allure. The more energetic tunes are accented by sharp, wandering guitar hooks, reminiscent of the role Gang of Four's lead guitar played in their songs. The slower tracks are complimented with shoegaze-y female vocals or punkier, dragged-out shouts and an clean, crisp atmospheric feel.

This is, for me, mood music. It just sounds right to my ear and the odyssey of taking in the entire long-player is exciting: clearly, the production was well thought-out!

So check out a few songs below, but be sure to get the CD in its entirety! It's not too late to make up for missing out on this band back in the spring.
Welcome - All Set
Welcome - This Minute

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25.8.07

Charts & Maps


Man do I appreciate bands that actually can play their instruments. Enough with the sloppiness of punk and three-chord boring hooks and catch-phrase lyrics. If anything, pop music seems to be taking a more sophisticated turn (or at least a divergent one, with "weird" music and noise on one end and beutifully-crafted, ornate stuff on the other).

Charts & Maps, an L.A.-based quartet, falls into the latter category. Their meticulously crafted, romantic, prog-rock is just what I need right about now! The group plays a mixture of atmospheric shoegaze-y music, classic rock, and progressive rock, with no one element being too overbearing or forward. A perfect balancing of genres that's all at once exciting, unique, and heart-warming (or, depending on how you're feeling, absolutely chilling).

Three of the band's members began playing together when still in high school as Soli i Sombra, a similar, proggy outfit. Now, though, the members seem to have confidently found their sound and style and are just really good at playing enchanting melodies that flow so naturally; like the peaceful ebb and tide of the ocean. While aspects of the tracks -- in particular "10:58" -- are angst-y and abrupt, the underlying vibe is absolutely organic and sincere.
Charts & Maps - 10:58
Charts & Maps - Bury Pierre

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Private


The mysterious Danish electro-pop group, Private (MySpace) recently released a remix of their track, "My Secret Lover."

Sadly, that's all I know. Shrouded in mystery to say the least.

The tune's cool, though. Techno-y and hypnotic dance-pop/electro all at once. As a side note, the band recorded at Delta Lab which is truly one of the most spectacular studio's I've seen.
Private - My Secret Lover (Downsyndrome Mixxx)

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24.8.07

Magik Markers, "Taste" Video


I'm very, very psyched for the forthcoming Magik Markers album, BOSS, out on Ecstatic Peace! on September 25. From the little I've heard, the group -- now just a duo -- has become less noise-oriented a little more accessible, surprisingly. These are, no doubt, songs.

But they're songs in the way that Sonic Youth writes songs. They're footed in the no-wave movement, no doubt, with distorted guitars and thumping, primal drums leading the melodic and rhythmic way, crackled, yearning vocals, and an minimalist quality shrouded, misleadingly, behind fuzz and noise.

"Taste" is the single that's floatin' around the web right now, and a video just came out to promote the thing, too! It's a bizarre amalgamation of slow-mo live takes of the band playing and random, disparate clips of God knows what.

Oh, and this video is pretty cool, too ... Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth) talking about the awesomeness of BOSS.

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Die Romantik


I love bands with history. Groups with a fun or funky or accessible sound or cute girl or guy pop up all over the place, but what about the back story? Unfortunately, either most bands don't have very interesting lives, or else we've just become disinterested in hearing about stuff like how Mick Jagger clipped his tongue and whether or not Jack and Meg White are married and if "Maps" really is about Angus of Liars.

Die Romantik (MySpace) has quite the back story. The "melody rock" NYC trio met way back in 1996 when they were all attending high school ... in Paris! Already they seem to fit their moniker, Die Romantik ...

The group plays these wonderful, brooding, grandiose and majestic songs that drift from classically driven piano lines to Radiohead-esque rock ballads to folksier efforts so seamlessly. The stuff's easy to take in and digest, but a delight to explicate and listen to over and over again. These songs seem to have so much depth, so much inspiration and character. You listen, and are swept away to some memory of your own or a fantastical place of your mind's own making.

They self-released their debut LP, Narcissist's Waltz, which you can purchase via PayPal on their MySpace page or else at Insound!
Die Romantik - Another Round
Die Romantik - Narcissist's Waltz

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Mancino Interview (Part 2 of 2)


And here's part two! Hope you enjoyed reading this thing as much as I did!
Mancino - Five Blades
Mancino - Hetchie Hutchie Footchie
(6) What kind of stuff influences you? What did you and do you listen to?

Mike: It feels like I grew up on Led Zeppelin, one of the advantages of having an older brother. When I started my first band, I was heavily influenced by Nirvana and felt really liberated by Kurt Cobain's limited mastery of the guitar. Prior to that, I was reading all those guitar magazines where noodlers like Yngwee Malmsteen would diagram finger-tapping exercises and shit like that and it was really daunting as a clumsy-fingered 14-year old. Only later did the Beatles and Beach Boys come into my life in a way in which I fully appreciated their songwriting and I'll always be influenced by them I'm guessing.

Jonathan: When I was a kid, I didn't really listen to anything recorded. My parents didn't use their record player, and I didn't have a TV or radio until I was probably 8 or 9. So I mostly heard my parents and their friends. But by my teens I was really into Jazz (mostly Bebop) and later had my obligatory grunge phase. I tend to still listen to jazz tinged music, where its influence can be found in other music especially, like in the punk of Garage a Trois or Dionysos, the funk of Ceux qui Marchent Debout, or the rock of Menomena, Stephen Malkmus, etc.

(7) Additionally, are there any bands in NYC that you're currently supporting or fans of? I feel like people outside of the city always miss out on the gems just because it's not our home, so please, recommend some stuff!

Jonathan: Shot'nez, The Muggabears, Secret Life of Sofia, Man in Gray. Some of the usual crowd you read about all the time are not bad too, but there are so many great and not so great bands in NY, it's hard to keep tabs on it all. I'm also a fan of people like Marco Bevento and the former Tonic crowd (RIP), I feel like that's a scene that gets neglected by music nerds/snobs on places like pitchfork or stereogum.

Nadim: Die Romantik

Mike: Definitely in agreement with all of the above. I would also add Sam Champion to the top of the list too. The absolutely kill it live. I'm looking forward to hearing their new album.


(8) What else are you all doing currently, aside from the band? Any crummy day jobs or awesome projects?

Nadim: Just temping these days. Recently finished a M.M. in music technology. Trying to get involved with a recording studio/production house.

Jonathan: I recently graduated from film school, so I'm pretty much unemployed. I've been free-lance editing and doing stuff from home, but I'm trying to write as much as possible so I can be responsible for the new version of "That's So Raven," in which Raven Simone is an undercover agent in the cold, dark world of shady Russian night clubs in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Mike: I got my Masters in journalism a few months back so that also means I'm somewhat unemployable but have been freelancing at this production company where I used to work full time.

(9) And, in terms of the group, do you've anything planned for the future? Touring, singles, another album (please, please!)?


Jonathan: We had planned a tour for the fall, but had issues with some of the dates. I'd say at this point, we'd much rather meet with a booking agent than a label A&R person. So I think the plan really, is to focus on NY area shows some more, and try and tour later this year. We're also starting to write new material, which is challenging and fun. As far as singles go, we'll see how the album does when it comes out "nationally" on Sept. 4.

Mike: We're definitely looking forward to CMJ when it rolls through in October. And for "the future", I was just talking to Jonathan last night actually about how I can't wait to really immerse ourselves in new material. I'm itching to start working on new songs, play them live, and then eventually record the next album.

(0) Any comments on the Internet and how it helps/hinders your performance, visibility, profits, etc.? We usually don't get to hear about the Internet and the current music industry from anyone but those on the management/executive side of things, so I'm always curious to know what musicians are thinking and feeling.

Nadim: Asides from what everyone says about the Internet (e.g., how it can help unknown smaller bands/artists get their music “out there” and noticed) I actually think that the internet is having a peculiar effect on a people’s attention spans. I know I’m over-generalizing, but I think with random access people now want and have come to expect instant gratification. I’ve heard quite a few people say that “nobody listens to music anymore” and by that I think they mean that by and large, many people don’t really sit down and take the time to really listen closely and fully digest an album in one sitting. It’s all headphones, multitasking, and singles (as opposed to albums). Unfortunately, I actually think that Manners Matter is not an album that is easily digestible, so, while I believe the Internet is definitely a blessing, I’m still not sure people will actually listen to our record and I worry that a lot of music in general might be dismissed if it doesn’t immediately hook people and reel them in.

(1) Alright, I think that covers most of it. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me! Best of luck: you've created something timeless and precious.
Mancino: Thanks for taking the time to listen to the album, Nik.

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23.8.07

Mancino Interview (Part 1 of 2)



I fell hard for Mancino (MySpace). Like asking my first "girlfriend" out in fifth grade. The equivalent of having that butterflies in your stomach feeling, but sonically. Er, scratch the sonically part ... they got right into my heart, went straight for the gut ... a perfect strategy, and now I'm hooked.

I posted about the Brooklyn band all but six days ago, and required more from them. So now we've an interview here! Read on to discover the inner workings of the wonderful Mancino!
Mancino - L'amour (Or Less)

(1) How would you guys describe your sound? I see the XTC comparisons, the Tapes 'n Tapes likeness, and the grungy allusions, but ... how would you put it?

Nadim: I think the album is pretty eclectic, kinda running the gamut between playful/light “major” songs and more serious “minor” songs. Musically, I think that the XTC comparisons might stem from the fact that we like to mold seemingly disparate parts of a song together in ways that sometimes produces unexpected results. I think part of that is that we get bored easily. And as you allude to below, we do spend a lot of time arranging, so I guess you could say our music is somewhat adorned in nature.

Jonathan: Yeah, it's always interesting to see what people compare us to. The XTC thing is pretty recent, and I think started with Spin's review. I had never listened to XTC before but like Nadim said, I think people are responding to the playful nature of the music. But we've had everything from The Doors to Spoon, and Ben Folds to Islands. It's rarely the same thing twice which is good and bad, I guess.

Mike: It's funny because I've never listened to XTC before so I can't speak to that comparison really. As Jonathan said, the comparisons are kind of all over the place, which I'm personally okay with.

(2) How did you three meet? You seem to channel a quirky and off-beat sound that doesn't just come up these days ...

Nadim: Mike and I went to Brown Univ. together. Our senior year we were in a 4-piece band together called Admiral Nelson. After graduation, Mike moved to New York and I followed several months later. Once there, Mike and I started playing music again and coming up with new songs. I then met Jonathan at work, a place called the French Film Office, which promotes French film in the US. Anyway, it turned out that Jonathan played drums and eventually we started Mancino... that was in 2003

(3) I'm totally baffled but charmed by some of your song titles ... "Hetchie Hutchie Footchie," "L'Amour (or Less)," and "Monster Trucks," in particular. Where'd these names come from, and, for that matter, the lyrics?

Mike: "Hetchie Hutchie Footchie" came from a conversation I had with my friend Jake where he couldn't remember the name of this girl we went to college with, so he kind of stammered out, "Hetchie? Hutchie? Footchie?" in frustration and I for some unknown reason thought those three words in succession sounded like the name of a dance. So the lyrics treat it as the fictitious Australian summer dance craze of 1958 that involves guys getting over their aversion to dance by putting down their drinks. "L'Amour (or Less)" was originally called "More or Less" and the lyrics were a conscious declaration of simply categorizing the things I wanted more of in life and the things I wanted less of. I think Jonathan thought to change the title and it just jives a lot better now with the playful feel of the music I think. "Monster Trucks" obliquely uses a random childhood memory, in this case seeing monster trucks flatten cars for my 7th birthday, as a touchstone for the entire range of feelings you have as a little kid and the frustration and sadness that comes when you "grow up" and realize you can't get that innocence back. Sorry, very Holden Caulfield-ish I know...


(4) On that note ... what sort of process do you incorporate to make these songs? They're all immaculately arranged and layered, pieced together and thoroughly thought through. Where do you come up with all the awesome hooks, choruses, and structures?

Jonathan: Thanks, but I think "process" is probably a euphemism in our case. I mean, I guess generally we tend to just sit down at our instruments and jam when we're not cluttered by the thought of preparing for a show. So it can start from a guitar riff, or a noodle on the keys, or some drum beat, and things sort of turn into these ridiculous twenty minute jams. So on top of that, we usually lay on some thick vocal stuff for the hell of it. It's usually pretty silly, but we occasionally get serious, too. If we like a piece of that jam, we'll stop and extract it from the slush. But this system doesn't always work. It can end up taking us in circles, which is fun to play, but not fun to listen to necessarily. So often times Mike will bring in a progression he's worked on at home, or something more thematic like lyrics or a concept, or Nadim will email us a keyboard doodle at 4am and we'll all add to it at practice. In general, it tends to be a very democratic process, which is nice. We work well together, despite the fact we can't stand each other in "real life."


(5) What sort of musical background do you three have? From when you were kids to now ... it's always interesting to learn where a band came from before they catalyzed into the current form.

Nadim: I began playing the piano at the age of 8, taking classical lessons up until the age of 18. I also started to casually dabble in blues and jazz at the age of 14 or so.

Jonathan: I started playing music at a young age, mostly because my father was a professional musician at the time. He made my brother and I play music with him and my mother pretty much every day. It started with Cello, which I played until I was about 16 - incidentally the age where I switched to drums thinking they would get me more girls than the Cello. Turns out I was wrong, and drums are heavier. Stick to the cello kids!

Mike: I think I have the most pedestrian musical pedigree of the three. I watched my brother play "Crazy Train" on his spray-painted Peavey guitar and immediately knew that was what I wanted to do. I started taking lessons when I was 9 and continued until I was about 14 and then played in a series of bands from middle school until now.

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The Coathangers


The Coathangers (MySpace) are like the girl version of the Black Lips. Both bands hail from Atlanta, both are punky and vicious; both play rough-cut garage-y tunes; and both rock hard, man.

The band's being compared to the Slits and the Raincoats (the Coathangers for the Raincoats, perhaps?), and I'd say they parallel both. They seem angry feminist ("Nestle In My Boobies" and "Don't Touch My Shit" being two prime examples of where exactly they're coming from), and I love it. Short, brash, to-the-point, and instantly hooky. They'll make you jump up and down like a lunatic for precisely two minutes, and then, unfortunately, that's enough.

The self-titled LP is out on Rob's House Records on September 4. Keep an eye out for that one, but in the mean time, dig 'em below.
the Coathangers - Shut the Fuck Up
the Coathangers - Don't Touch My Shit

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22.8.07

Sally Shapiro Finally Hits the U.S.!


I'm all about imeem today!

Here's what I'm appreciating about 2007 in a nutshell: musically, people seem to be less ADD and nostalgic about uh ... ten years ago. Enough with the Cassette Playa-fueled Nu Rave, the spasmic artwork and garments of M.I.A. (I love you, M.I.A.!), and the lazy Pavement wannabes. I want some funk, some R&B, some ABBA throwbacks, so good ol' rock. That's what I want now, and it seems I'm gettin' it!

Sally Shapiro (MySpace) finally got around to releasing her spectacular Swedish disco-y -- and aptly titled! -- record, Disco Romance. It's been around for a little while, but hey, the whole idea of overseas releases is to breath a second, and absolutely worthwhile, second life into cool stuff! (I'm lookin' at you, Junior Senior.) The album will be released on October 30 via Paper Bag Records.

For fans of Annie (where'd she go!?) and St. Etienne, I present one of the best tunes on the LP, "He Keeps Me Alive"

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Nico Vega's "Cocaine Cooked the Brain" Continued!


Although you still can't download any MP3s from the new Nico Vega single, you can now hear it in its entirety via I Am Sound's imeem. I know, it's hard, to not have the instant gratification fix, but at least you're streaming, and wouldn't you much prefer buying the thing, holding it, treasuring it?

The b-side for "Cocaine Cooked the Brain" is a remix by Guns 'n' Bombs, and it's hot. Glitchier, jumpier, a little more, eh ... coked-out, shall I say? Streaming below, folks!

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21.8.07

Nico Vega's "Cocaine Cooked the Brain"

nico vega
Have you seen Nico Vega (MySpace)!? They're hot! They're really sexy! Three people, this sexy ... I'd imagine it's difficult to see them live; you'd be smothered by testosterone, lust, sweat, and some boomin' JBLs.

Sorry -- just had to get that off my chest. The girl's cute, man.

Nico Vega, signed to the spectacular I Am Sound Records, just released their single for "Cocaine Cooked the Brain," which was co-written and produced by Squeak E. Clean (the dude who produced YYY's second LP), and features a rad, just-can't-stop-pumpin'-you-up remix by Guns 'n' Bombs. A beautiful, tight, to-the-point, funky, straight-to-the gut, dance-y little package. A+ Nico, I Am Sound, and Guns 'n' Bombs, I say! This stuff is not only radio friendly in its infectiousness (those funky hooks, those strong, forceful vocals, those sharp guitars!), but perfect fodder for remix upon remix and your local dark, dank, and oh-so-hot dance floor.

Buy the single from iTunes or as a 7" directly from the label here. Stream 'em below!

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Murder Mystery

murder mystery
I've had reserves about 2007, musically, as a whole for a while now. The year was marked with a few good releases, plenty of fun ones, and an occasionally timeless/classic one for me.
But, hope is by no means lost for the year ... it can go down in musical history as a memorable and important one, for sure. It's undeniable, though, that the best releases have been saved for the final quarter of 2007. From Beirut to M.I.A. to Dirty Projectors to Jens Lekman to Magik Markers ... the fall and winter period will be jam packed with wonderful hits.

Murder Mystery (MySpace) falls into this category. The New York City quartet goes straight for your gut. The songs are a soft-spoken collection of wonderful surf-y hooks, synth melodies and beats, cute boy/girl harmonies, lo-fi, minimal guitar playing, dance-y drumming ... a spectacular pout potpourri of stylish indie pop, 60s beach-y hits, and New Wave tunes.

Pick up their debut LP, Are You Ready for the Heartache Cause Here It Comes, over at Insound.
Murder Mystery - Honey Come Home
Murder Mystery - Love Astronaut

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Clockclean Er

clockclean er
Sometimes, all I want to hear is loud, angry, sludgy, irritated, breaking-out, flailing punk. Noise, but not just random noise ... no, a terrain of noise, with some sort of structure, singing, voices, a drum routine; in short, some chaotic semblance of a song, but so, so far gone, there's barely anything to hold onto anymore.

Clockclean Er's (MySpace) latest did it for me. Now I'm fulfilled. The single, "Vomiting Mirrors," from their forthcoming sophomore effort, Babylon Rules (out October 3 on Load Records), is a page straight out of Flipper's book or something. Every piece of the song is on the verge of collapsing from the noise and internal pressur or going absolutely insane. It's great. I love it.

The international trio (the guy comes from Munich, the girl and drummer, Pennsylvania) will blow you away, if not from fear or shock, at least just from the sheer volume of these songs. Check out "Vomiting Mirrors" below.
Clockclean Er - Vomiting Mirrors

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20.8.07

Rats With Wings

rats with wings
Rats With Wings (MySpace) is a Brooklyn-based (big surprise there!) quartet that plays, for lack of a better descriptor ... indie pop. At it's core, this stuff is fun and a little folksy, with jazzier drumming, orchestral laptop-generated backing melodies, and a completely sincere and genuine approach as a whole.

At points, the electronic stuff can get a little too cheesy and the vocals a little too Chris Martin-y for me, but hey, maybe that's why these four are so endearing and real. They just released an EP, Tiny Guns, that is chalk-full of their goofy breed of indie pop, that you really ought to check out ...

But first, a couple o' samplers?
Rats With Wings - Everwise Muskellunge
Rats With Wings - Hungry Like the Wolf

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17.8.07

Mancino

mancino
A question I struggle with -- as I'm sure you all, too! -- is "what are you listening to now?" or the even tough ones, "what are your favorites?" and "what would you recommend?"

I fail these tests every time. I hesitantly mutter a few words about the Unicorns, Joy Division, Pavement, Echo & the Bunnymen, and maybe, if we're lucky, I'll spout out a few more before sputtering out all together. When it comes to recommendations, I'm consistently at a loss for words! What does the questioner like? Would something more poppy and mainstream be "better" than a less notorious group? Ahhh, all the reservations and questions I ask myself in response to the rather unobtrusive and passive query.

I can say with much confidence, though, that Mancino (MySpace) will top my current listening, recommendations, and favorites for months and months to come.
The Brooklyn-based trio is ... beyond words for me. Equal parts 60s pop, psych, shufflin' rock, the meticulous hooks of XTC and the like, and loosely assembled, garage/grunge. The heaping pile of musical insight and creativity that amasses to Mancino is truly formidable and a wonderful creation, to say the least.

Buy their album, Manners Matter, directly from them over here, but first ... perhaps a little bit of sampling?
Mancino - Hetchie Hutchie Footchie
Mancino - Five Blades

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New Skeletons Video, "Sickness"

skeletons 'sickness'
As many of you may know, I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. So any group that hails from my state of origin is worth my time ...

Skeletons come from the humble city of Oberlin (although I think they're currently in Brooklyn), which is famous for one thing: Oberlin College. Which ain't a bad music conservatory in it's own right, but ...

Anyway. I digress. Skeletons are a really fantastic band, and that became especially clear with their latest Ghostly International release, Lucas. The LP is a quirky, experimental pop opus ... all starts and stops, off-kilter instruments and arrangements ... lopsided rhythms and ethereal, daunting falsettos ... with an insanely catchy pop backbone supporting it all.

If you've not listened to it yet, get the thing right here. In the meantime, check out their spectacular video for "Sickness" over here. It's all beautifully filmed long-shot, jerky story lines, and an addicting aesthetic appeal. I like.
Skeletons - What They Said

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16.8.07

New Saturday Looks Good to Me

saturday looks good to me
Saturday Looks Good to Me (MySpace) immediately brings back memories of the summer of 2003 or 2004 for me. For some reason their albums all hit me at once, all at the perfect time, and all of my car listening time was devoted to the throwback 60s pop/Beach Boys sugary, warm pop ... so thick with hooks and reverb and layer upon layer of wonderful harmonies that the music nearly drowned in its own splendor.

The band is back with a new album, Fill Up the Room, due out on K Records this October 3. From what I've heard, it's a great comeback (where did they go!?), but unfortunately seems to less prominently feature the wonderful, sultry vocals provided by Betty Barnes. Regardless, it'll be a great LP. Check out the first single, "When I Lose My Eyes," and get ready for a last-minute dosage of summer soundtrack tunes!
Saturday Looks Good To Me - When I Lose My Eyes

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The Glass

the glass
Music is like language in the most literal sense. Music conveys thoughts, ideas, sentiments, feelings, cultural expressions; in short, everything that language is used for. From love stories to introspective broodings to grand tales to political slogans, music has the capacity to convey anything imaginable!

And, like language, music is completely subjective. Our ears and sonic processors in our brains have been conditioned in a way that allows us to make what would otherwise just be a jumble of sound waves ... sense!

Quite a rant, eh? A broad point to make for a post specifically about NYC's the Glass. I mostly wanted to just convey that the Glass is great for what it is. They're a post-punk, dance-y, guitar-driven group that plays real hooky tunes that would appeal across cultural and national bounds. That's the cool thing about music! It's a level playing field. We've all the capacity to hear and process music in a similar manner. We've all been brought up to hear songs like those by the Glass as being fun and nice and easy on the ear. Check out some tracks from their EP, Couples Therapy, on their MySpace and download an awesome mix by them below!

Someday, perhaps, folks like Black Dice and Gang Gang Dance and Wolf Eyes and Excepter and all those experimental bands will become hits. Maybe we'll move backwards, almost ... to the atonal, to the sounds that were around before the era of Classical music. But for now ... I'm diggin' the Glass.
the Glass - Live in NYC DJ Mix

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15.8.07

New Tough Alliance

the tough alliance
The Tough Alliance just released a new single on their label, Sincerely Yours for free download.
Sometimes the aim for reality feels too unrealistic. Sometimes you have to indulge in sweet distractions, gentle escapes and beautiful illusions to be able to stand this excuse for an existance. Sometimes you're just too young.

You can find the thing here, but if you don't want to bother with downloading a .zip file, just grab the thing below!

The track is a sort of remix/collaboration with Taken By Tress, and it's wonderful. There's something folksy and sparsely organic about it that's really charming to me ... but on top of that, there's bona fide TTA floaty vocals, minimal yet confident and dance-y rhythms, plenty of reverb, and an underlying summery, beachy feel that's really difficult to resist ...
the Tough Alliance - Taken Too Young

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Black Lips Do the Middle East!

the black lips
Black Lips are unabashedly destroying our notions of music, the Industry, and now, what touring.
The brash, ragged, tattered, torn and reassembled, untamed and feral throwback rock and garage of Black Lips is unmatched by any currently. They do nothing by the book -- not only do they don gold grills, partake in the illegal making of moonshine, release, as a debut, a live album (against the grain, that!), and disregard any structure and rules in general -- and that's really compelling to me.

Oh, and here's another one that ain't by the book ... the quartet toured the Middle East! Yeah. For real they did. You can hear "Cold Hands" performed live in Israel below. But they tore Palestine and Zion a new one, I'm sure. Probably too dangerous to let them loose any further east ...
Black Lips - Cold Hands (Live in Israel)

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14.8.07

Matt & Kim on Dinner With the Band


I'm a big fan of ON Network's Dinner With the Band series. Just another take on the traditional band interview ... a less awkward way to get to know the character and personality behind a group. In the case of the Dinner With the Band series, hosted by the chef Sam Mason, the means through which we, the lowly viewers, get a taste of the specific band, is ... cooking! Not only will you learn how to make some rather gourmet dishes, but you'll also get to be a fly on the wall for a few minutes as Samson and his guests -- from Tokyo Police Club to Holy Hail -- discuss the culinary arts, tour stories, music, and everything in between.

Matt & Kim (MySpace) were just on the show, helping make a delicious-looking olive cobbler, and, per usual, were a lot of fun. Overflowing with cheery and light-hearted energy ...
The songs they played, too, weren't all that bad, so check 'em out below, and view the entire show here!
Matt & Kim - Yea Yea Yea (Live on DWTB)
Matt & Kim - It's A Fact (Live on DWTB)

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Terrific Tuesdays: Joy Division

joy division
Yes, it's utterly cliche to claim Joy Division your favorite band. It seems as though ever since post-punk really became a genre (rather than an era or niche of artists who comprised the genre in the late-70s and early-80s), Joy Division has been continually hailed as the best band of the bunch. Manchester aside, Joy Division apparently wins on all counts.

And yes, too, it's deserved. There's no doubt in my mind that Joy Division was a seminal and awesomely important and significant quartet. The band encapsulated so, so much ... the forebearers of an electronic age of music; early gothic rockers; trend-setters to the utmost. And with the genius producer, Martin Hannett, behind all their work, the iconic Ian Curtis and his suicide, and the grand Factory Records behind every move, the band could do no wrong neither when they were still together nor in historical retrospect.

It seems fitting to me to write about Joy Division now after Tony Wilson's unfortunate death. The visionary label founder, talent scout, and stunningly driven innovator should not have left this world so early (he was only 57). Never will he nor Joy Division (nor anything he touched, for that matter!) be forsaken, abandoned, or forgotten.

Below are two versions of "Passover," one of my favorite tunes, and absolutely one of the best Joy Division songs lyrically. The first is a recently uncovered mix from Martin Hannett's Personal Mixes while the second is the one that appears on the album.
I really like the new mix ... it's sluggish, more reserved and distant, yet with more daunting force and strain on every drum beat, each bass pluck, all syllables uttered by Curtis ...
Joy Division - Passover (Martin Hannett's Personal Mix)
Joy Division - Passover

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13.8.07

The Slips

the slips
The Slips, a London-based two-piece, has worked with the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Bjork, Massive Attack, and Marylin Manson ... so why haven't we heard of these guys yet? Truly a crime ...

The group sounds like a super sexed-up version of Simian Mobile Disco; a sort of melding of SMD and Chromeo or something (the Slips may in fact use more talkbox than Chromeo!)
Underneath that funky electro beats and sweaty, twitchy bass lines, there's a little bit of throwback Fatboy Slim there, too ... something edging on house but without the worthless irony or cheesy old skool appeal.

Below is a track -- which can also be found on the MySpace page -- that you must get down to, somewhere, before summer's up!
the Slips - Cadillac Crash

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The Pragmatic

the pragmatic
The Pragmatic is a sort of twee electro-pop group from Portugal and St. Louis. Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm not sure, as their MySpace is rather vague and inconclusive.

All you really need to know is that their single, "Circles," is quite a lot of moody fun. Broody and contemplative, sluggish and saccharine, but poppy and rhythmic-y all at once. It's a light-hearted pop take on the more depressing genres like shoegaze and hardcore post-punkers.

I like it. They've also done some remix work, which can be found on their MySpace or here. Definitely worth checking out!
the Pragmatic - Circles

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10.8.07

Deer Tick


Here's another summer come-down for ya ... Deer Tick. The Providence, Rhode Island based singer/songwriter, otherwise known as John McCauley, has been playing since April 2005 or so, but hasn't gotten around to releasing anything official until now! The full-length, War Elephant, is being released on Feow! Records on September 4.
And it's great.

But it seems as though I've failed to describe in any worthwhile detail what Deer Tick is and what McCauley sounds like!
This is Americana and country at, in my humble opinion, its finest. Americana to me means cheesy, folksy, schlocky acoustic guitar-drive crap, but McCauley's breaking those [false] preconceptions and busting out with a completely new and revamped definition of the genre. There's something earnest and sincere about Deer Tick's breed of guitar-based folk music ... something very old fashioned and therefore currently inaccessible.
His music, in short, sounds like lost gems of the '60s and earlier ... random country groups that shied away in the era of Elvis followed by the Beatles, the Kinks, garage, and oh-so-many-more-genres. McCauley, I'm convinced, isn't currently around ... he died well over 60 years ago, but for convenience's sake -- and to get a few records pushed out there! -- he's "come back" from the "dead," and now has an LP and plenty of much deserved hype and discussion.
Deer Tick - Art Isn't Real (City of Sin)
Deer Tick - Diamond Rings

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Metronomy Tour Diary (August 9, 2007)

metronomy diary
On The Road, Chicago to Detroit

Today's Weather: 89F, relative humidity 90%. Starting fair, with heavy rain in the afternoon. A fine evening, cooling off, with light south-westerly breezes.

In A Word: Muggy

After our epic drive up to Minneapolis, we are working our way back with stops for shows. We are "taking a swing through the Midwest." Minneapolis seems enthralled to the twin gods of flour and cheese (the only gods that matter). We play in a park, before a movie on an outdoor screen, and we're fueled by Vitamin Water, which is a sort of very strong squash with plenty of irreverent back chat on the side label. There is another dancing competition (these Prairie Folk move well when prompted). Afterwards we end up at the kind of piano bar you only see in the movies, populated with the kind of people you only see at piano bars like this in the movies. It's my kinda town.

Chicago comes next and is the most American place I've ever been. For breakfast we eat a pizza that could only have been dreamt up here. It's got a high-sided pastry crust, an inch of melted cheese, then a layer of raw dough and tomato sauce on the top. Delicious. Now we're in Detroit and it's got all the chain link and freeways I could hope for. Everthing's just they way it should be.

--Gabriel

We have a book about clouds in our van. Gabriel got it for his birthday. It makes for a surprisingly good read and has plenty of anecdotes about pilots ejecting into thunderstorms and clouds that predict earthquakes. On our current drive from Detroit to New York the book is coming in handy as there is plenty to see in the sky. Our Pittsburgh show has been canceled because of the weather...something to do with the electrics in the building, so now we're on the open road and I'm looking our for twisters. Oscar seems pretty sure that the van we're in is a storm chaser and says he has some kind of prototype machine in the back which can measure a tornado from the
inside. So we might try and track a few down on the way.

Detroit was great last night, we went bowling with some folk who'd driven from Grand Rapids to see us, the game was a two-way tie. I wasn't involved in the tie, but I put that down to the fact that all the balls seemed to be designed for people who have strange long spindly hands; Lizard people.

--Joseph

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Speck Mountain

speck mountain
"Liquid organ drones," "sacramental guitar lines," and and underlying "psychedelically corrupt gospel haze" are the three key phrases that ornately and aptly describe the Chicago group, Speck Mountain. Perfect.

Speck Mountain's music is a perfect addition to any summer come-down mix: sultry, flowing female vocals twisting and turning, gently wandering to your ears atop an overall hypnotic breed of psychedelic pop instrumentals as the strong backbone. Whether you're surviving a muggy summer heatwave or relaxing in a cooler climate, this music will magically calm you down while simultaneously giving you goose bumps.

I love it. Clearly.
The album, Summer Above, was released on Piccadeilly Records and is certainly a must. Check out a track below and get a hold of the wonderful LP!
Speck Mountain - Hey Moon

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9.8.07

Blue States

blue states
Blue States (MySpace) has been around for a while. Nine years to be precise. And somehow, the London trio never passed under my radar. Damn.

Lucky for me and all of you in a similar boat, though, there's a new record coming out on Memphis Industries called First Steps Into ... . (But they've had three albums out already! What the hell is wrong with me!? And they're Memphis Industries most successful signing!? Gah!)

The new material sounds like what would happen if Air went West and became extremely pampered pretty-boy cowboys. Serenely composed and arranged atmospheric electronic music with heavy leanings towards the summery sounds of later-period Beach Boys and the like. The album's looking fantastic to me, so download the first track off of it and get prepared for it to actually drop!
Blue States - The Electric Compliment

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8.8.07

Thrushes

thrushes
More and more from good ol' Baltimore ...
Except this time, it's no Panda Bear, Dan Deacon, Santa Dads, Ponytail, no none of that ... Thrushes (MySpace) is the name, and they've a different sort of vibe than those other hip Marylanders. The quartet plays super dense, super fuzzy, super atmospheric shoegaze that you've not heard this good since the Jesus & Mary Chain, I'm certain. Wash upon wash of distorted guitar, layer upon layer of moody, mellow, and under spoken female vocals, with a rather primitive and sparse drumming style to keep everything in order and terribly catchy.

Shoegaze seems a little too easy to mess up to me: what an easy way to hide all your guitarist's flaws and dilute a weak voice with echoes and reverb that could match an empty amphitheater. This is not the case with Thrushes, though. The four-piece instead uses heavily layered guitar, bass, and noise melodies and bass lines to accentuate swooning melodies and heart-wrenching riffs. Instead of cowering behind the supposed grandeur that the shoegaze aesthetic is prone to produce, Thrushes proudly brandishes it. This is truly neo-shoegaze, the way I see it, and cannot be missed.

Stream and buy the whole LP, Sun Come Undone, right here. Wonderful.
Thrushes - Heartbeats
Thrushes - Aidan Quinn

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7.8.07

Foreign Born Interview (Part 2 of 2)

foreign born
Order the Foreign Born LP (when it comes out!), On the Wing Now here.
Foreign Born - Union Hall
(6) I feel as though Los Angeles is, unfortunately, an overall dull city for music. Too many bands copy each other, too many seek mediocrity, with high hopes of being signed and becoming the next Maroon 5 or the like. How do you feel about music in L.A. and where do you fit in? Any recommendations for our listening pleasure ... ?

I hear you on this subject. L.A. is an enigma that one can only really figure out by living here. I feel like the music scene in L.A. has been consistently improving though. When we first moved here, I was pretty hard up to even think of one local band that I thought was good. But now there's a healthy incestuous community of really talented people that are just playing all the time and it's great! We personally in FB have a few projects each that we work on outside the band including: Fool's Gold, Big Search, Ceramic Isles, and The Color Purrple. As for recommendations, here's a brief rundown of the greats: Luke Top, In Waves, John Webster Johns, RTX, Mountain Party, Women and Children, Darker My Love, Entrance, Glasser, Lion Fever, the Chapin Sisters. Great transients who were living here for a while: Cass McCombs, The Cairo Gang.

(7) I've been a reader of your blog for quite some time now. It's really cool how you're reaching out to your audience via the Internet and on such a personal level. This is rare with musicians and bands today, but certainly should be tapped into more! What inspired you to start the blog up and -- in on a broader note -- what are your feelings concerning the Internet and how it affects the music industry and the group?

We've always had pretty lame web sights as we could never afford to have anyone design one for us, so we figured it might as well just be a blog. Keep it simple. We used to only have band developments up there, but now it's up for grabs. The millionth forum to display one's thoughts. The Internet has created this maze of expression and communication that is just overflowing with opinions and ideas. I am personally still pretty tied to the physical world where I can enjoy a game of ping pong and a beer, and wonder sometimes if anybody reads blogs, because I don't really. I also feel a little pompous or something, writing things for other people to see. Expecting others to read and be interested in what I might write. So whenever I do write something up there, I try to illuminate something humorous or unique, something that might amuse or peak some interest. Lewis posts art that he likes, or comments on something that's going on. I guess it has a personal ring to it because there is no point in putting up more barriers between yourself and others.

(8) Now for a few random questions. Worst decision Foreign Born's ever made ... ? Also, any bizarre stories concerning the group?

Worst decision: Purposefully visiting Roswell, New Mexico. Bizarre story: Garrett ordered the Cod at IHOP once!

(9) What else -- if anything -- are you involved with these days? Any boring day jobs or *secret* lives that we wouldn't have known of?

I personally spend my time not getting hired for about every job in L.A. Apparently I'm not even qualified to walk or wash dogs! Meaning I do odd jobs here and there and temp work. I've done everything from delivering food to hospitals, to taking out the trash at movie premiers. I also do moving jobs with my mini-van through the Internet, which more often than not has turned out to be in the service of porn actresses ... who tip me with weed! Go figure. I am also trying to write and sell mainstream country songs ...
Ariel is a producer who's recorded such bands as We Are Scientists, The Blood Arm, and coincidentally, the number one song on the billboard chart! The Plain White T's, I think they're called. He did that one a long time ago. He also does a lot of production music for television.
Lewis temps as well, but is more successful, actually having retained some of the skills accrued in college. He also works on music for television and bar-backs.
Garrett used to mix paint in a warehouse, but now sells cars on the Internet, or over the phone or something!

(0) I think that's about it. Any parting words or comments? Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview and we'll see you live (or in record stores!) soon.

Don't mention it, a chance to probe one's own thoughts is always rewarding. Articulation is a dying sport.

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Metronomy Tour Diary (August 5, 2007)

metronomy tour
05.08.2007

Last night was Washington DC. We managed to get Rachel to drive us to the White
House, Stephen said it was just like The West Wing, I opted for Independence Day
and Gabriel pointed out the spot where Martin Luther King made his famous "I
have a dream" dream speech. Rachel told Gabriel that he was wrong and off we
drove to the 'Rock 'n' Roll' hotel for our show.
Right now we're on hour 8 of our predicted 20 hour drive to Minneapolis, it's
raining. On driving through the Appalachians Oscar remarked it's similarity to
Jurassic Park.

--Joseph

On the Road

Today's weather: an occluded front runs the length of our trip. Temperatures
averaging 86-90F. Relative Humidity 75%. Overcast with periods of heavy rains
and some thundery showers.

In a word: squally

Driving across America is very different to driving around the UK. For a start,
there's the obvious: the distances are longer, the trucks are bigger, everyone
drives slower, the roads have more lanes, the food at service stations contains
more trans-fatty acid etc. But the real interesting point is how familiar
everything seems, the landscape and place names and so on. I doubt that an
American band touring around Britain and making the drive from Leeds to Hull
would have a nagging sense of recognition as they traverse East Yorkshire. But
here, I've seen the place where Fox Mulder met the Cigarette Smoking Man, I've
seen (pretty much) the opening shots of the Deer Hunter as we passed Pittsburgh,
and even not-too-visually arresting Ohio has roadsigns that people sing about -
CSNY of course, the Band doing Watch Out Cleveland.

Neil Young never sang about Wakefield, and Fox Mulder never came to Hull. A
shame, as he would have seen some pretty memorable goings-on I'm sure.

--Gabriel

I did think the Appalachians looked a bit Jurassic park both in the vegetation
(I could swear some of the plants I saw have not been seen in fossil records
after the Cretaceous period let alone present day but maybe I'm wrong) and also
the sheets of rain billowing against the hillside were reminiscent of storms that
hit islands off the coast of Costa Rica the setting of Jurassic park's park. I'm
enjoying the drive though its quite exciting to be driving through such a huge
country. I said to Joe a couple of weeks ago that the world seemed smaller to me
after all the traveling we've been doing over the past year and a half. But
since saying it our trips keep proving me wrong and it feels like a big place
again. Today's one of those days which is nice.
The gig last night was fun and the people of D.C. gave us a good reception. Thank
you D.C. Although I didn't get as drunk as I would like.

--Oscar

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6.8.07

Metronomy Tour Diary (August 4, 2007)

metronomy tour diary
04.08.2007

Apart from the others moaning all the time, I'm quite enjoying the heat and this morning while the others slept I went for a stroll around Rachel's neighborhood in New Jersey. It was very picturesque. Lots of American flags outside the houses and i even saw papers on peoples lawns. The evidence of paper boys or girls actually throwing the papers from their bikes as they ride along.

Anyway, i found a store called "quick stop" a little bit like a wild bean cafe you can find in many garages in the U.K. but with a subway style deli counter. However the best bit being that you order on a touch screen selecting exactly what you would like in your sandwich right down to extra salt or pepper without having to talk to anyone. Brilliant! one for dragons den perhaps. We have a hotel tonight in Washington D.C. and no driving after the gig so I'm looking forward to getting drunk tonight.

--Oscar Cash

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Metronomy Tour Diary (August 3, 2007)

metronomy tour diary
03.08.2007

Today’s weather in New York City: A sunny start, growing cloudy later, south-westerly breeze picking up in the afternoon. Stormy from mid-evening.

Midday temperature 97F, relative humidity 77%

In a word: Sultry

Last night’s sleep was fitful – sharing a room with Stephen, he and I found ourselves locked in a war of attrition over the electric fan, the only source of comfort in our AC-less, windowless hotel room. With the fan off I couldn’t sleep, as the room quickly became a pitiless furnace, and with it on Stephen couldn’t sleep because of the rattling noise it made. Very few words were exchanged but the artist/manager relationship was, I believe, tested to its limits. It was our Cuban Missile Crisis, with me the steely JFK to Stephen’s bristling Krushchev. By morning an uneasy kind of peace had been re-established, thank God.

After an eary afternoon in Williamsburg we were met by our tour manager, Rachel, who arrived at the wheel of our new home: a well-appointed red Ford van. We took off for Hartford, Connecticut: Sweet Janes was waiting. With a name like that we knew what to expect – we’d be playing the first show of our first US tour in a dimly-lit, underground dive, walls yellow with the smoke of a million Lucky Strikes.

Instead we found ourselves sound checking in front of an enthusiastic party of diners, three screens of baseball behind the bar at the back of the room, and choosing our supper from a laminated menu (the salads, it must be said, were pretty good). Still, I reckon we pulled it our of the bag: the 30 or so folks who chose us over the block party round the corner had an evening they won’t forget in a hurry. We even held a dancing competition. Hell yeah.

The drive back to Rachel’s house in Newark was framed by a jaw-dropping, enormous electrical storm above NYC, and after a good nights’ sleep we awoke to cherry tomatoes freshly picked from her back garden. A good start. Next stop, Washington DC. Condi here we come.

--Gabriel

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Metronomy Tour Diary (August 2, 2007)

metronomy diary
I mentioned this earlier, but here's the refresher. The great U.K. electronic artist, Metronomy (MySpace) is touring the East Coast of the U.S.! He's finally crossed the pond and will be playing a short slew of dates that any fan must check out.
But what happens before and after the concert? For those of us curious to know the down-low on all, read below for Metronomy's tour diary, part one. More to come!


02.08.07

We arrived at Newark airport, New Jersey on Friday night.

The flight was very enjoyable: light westerly wind on take off, some beautiful Cirrus formations somewhere over the Atlantic and the kind of landing you wish your first flight instructor was there to see.

The on-board entertainment was in abundance. I watched Spider Man 3, a few episodes of the Mighty Boosh and 300. I believe Gabriel opted for An Inconvenient Truth.
I occasionally saw him looking out of the window from 30, 000 feet at the very ice caps Mr Gore was discussing. He had a kind of “looks fine from up here”expression on him most of the time.

We landed late in Newark, got into a taxi and headed for Williamsburg. We managed a few drinks with Stephen our manager, but me and Oscar decided it was bed time after a short while. Gabriel stayed out with Stephen for a bit.

It was a very hot nights sleep, but the electric fan 2 inches away from my face went some way to making it more bearable.

--Joseph

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Foreign Born Interview (Part 1 of 2)

foreign born
The Los Angeles four-piece, Foreign Born (blog), has been touring around and creating material for several years now without getting the attention and bigger audience they truly deserve. With their recent signing to Dim Mak Records an LP, On the Wing Now, slated for release August 21, though, it looks as though they may have finally made their break!
Below is the interview I conducted with Matt, the frontman, in which we discuss the web, blogs, odd jobs, musical influences, and much, much more are delved into and discussed! So read on ... Part 2 of the interview goes up tomorrow!
Foreign Born - In the Shape
(1) Explain to me a little about your history and development. You've been together for some time now, but weren't picked up (by Dim Mak) until recently. These days, you hear about groups that play a few shows and immediately are signed ... not so with Foreign Born. Any explanations for this and what are your feelings on it?

FB started to exist just after Lewis and I received our degrees from San Francisco State in 2003. I think he was magna cum laude, and i was "lucky to get a diploma". I moved into Lew's place in the Richmond District for the summer, and FB was born during that time on the heels of a huge collaborative jam we had for a friend who was leaving town. Our room mate John Martin was on bass at the time, and we played some well received, very chaotic shows around town. I met the future members of FB on Halloween, Garrett (drums) was a vampire priest and I think I was "struck by lightning" with a cardboard lightning bolt over my head. Anyway, we hit it off, and went down to LA to rework some recordings and ended up re-recording them with Garrett and Ariel (bass). The energy of these first recordings inspired our move down to LA that Spring. We all moved into together and began chipping away at the avalanche of songs we were writing.
It did take us a while to find some kind of home.. I think this is mainly due to the fact that we didn't fit neatly into any category. We weren't and still are not geared toward the concept of immediate gratification. Not enough pizazz? I don't know. Our band is an investment. We are not going to be a phenomenon, or an overnight sensation (obviously). We are working through the world with our particular trunk of ideas, trying to communicate the things we've absorbed. We've been mystified but what people in positions of power have been "looking for" in musicians - why they support some rather than others. But in the end, although we could have used the dough, I think our self-reliance has allowed us to stay closer to reality (kind of).


(2) I picked up your On the Wing Now album last year, but you've re-recorded it, from what I understand. How was that for you and why did you do it?

We didn't actually re-record it, we just re-mixed a few tracks and changed the song order a little. We originally self-recorded this album in the fall/winter of 2005 and were itching to get it out, so we pressed 500 ourselves in the summer of '06 to sell on our tours.

(3) I'm curious to know where you come from musically. There are clearly many influences that shine through in your songs -- although, to say the least, you've a very unique style! What sort of stuff did you grow up on?

My early years (5/6 years old) were spent on a strict meat and potatoes diet of Beatles and Beach Boys, and then, a little later, Michael Jackson. I went through all sorts of phases throughout the following years from L.L. Cool J to Megadeath, but once I hit Nirvana and Mudhoney, I was on the track I would follow. I later went on to embrace old country blues a great deal, listened to a lot of Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry, Bessie Smith. Other major phases included getting back into the Beach Boys (almost unhealthily so), Kinks, Neil Young, The Fall, Leonard Cohen, Neil Michael Haggerty, Randy Newman, Burning Spear, Willie Nelson, etc..
As for the rest of the guys, Lewis is a classical and world music buff, currently coming off last year's soft rock kick and into the canyon of New Age. He's also been obsessed with African music (resulting in our new band Fool's Gold). He was in a communist surf band in high school, and also played jazz and dub reggae! He's also a strong Fleetwood Mac devotee.
Ariel is a life long Clash fanatic with fervent leanings toward the Talking Heads and Stranglers. Can't stop talking about Daft Punk concerts!
Garrett's musical past, as far as I know, was concerned with Toto and Dream Theater! His father is a drummer, so he grew up among stacks of snare drums and cymbals in Venice. He also likes Fleetwood Mac.

(4) I always like to know about the process of writing and recording for groups. What do you four tend to do when it comes to sitting down and churning out some material?

The process usually begins with either Lewis or me having the original thought. Sometimes Lewis will have the whole song's chord progression already finished and I'll just come up with the melody, or I'll have a large part of it written and Lewis will contribute with structure and changes, and generally busies himself at making it his own. Lewis is also a new music composer and has much method to his madness. He is especially masterful at righting kick-ass chord progressions.. Their structures are very solid and easy to write melodies over. Sometimes he'll have a vocal melody here or there, but that's usually my bag along with the lyrics. We then mind-meld with Ariel and Garrett who fuck around with it on their terms. Ariel has a great ear for structure and production. He produces bands for dollars and provides insight of inestimable value. He'll have some radical idea we didn't think of that turns the whole song on it's head! Which is pretty much always a good thing. Then there's Garrett, our tour de force! He brings everything we come up with to life. I think a lot of people who come to see us play, come to see him play drums.

(5) What are your plans for the future? You're releasing your album, but is there anything else that's coming along with that?

At the moment, we are standing on the groundwork we've laid for the album's release much like a moving walk way at an airport, but it's been that really long one at O'Hare.. We are currently working on video ideas and trying to secure some tours for the Fall. We just booked this all women's choir, that sings Eastern European folk music from UCLA, to play at our record release show! Which I am very excited about. And just writing new songs. We have more than enough in the works for our next album and are ready to jump in to that pool as soon as we're through promoting "On the Wing Now".

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3.8.07

Monarch

monarch
Baltimore is blowing up. Exploding. Bursting at the seams. The city's getting too big, musically, to sustain itself. Well, at least from my far removed perspective. I'm sure the musicians and bands in the city itself are loving the tight-knit musical community their fostering. But for us outsiders, it's a baffling mess of wonderful output; an example for any other city to follow by.

The latest duo of interest for me is Monarch (MySpace). The two, frustrated by the sporadic nature of the Baltimore scene (I guess the number of bands that pop up is equal to the number of bands that break up or sputter out), decided to make a name for themselves and start a band. Within a year, they somehow managed to gain quite a reputation and released an LP, If Children, that gained quite a bit of acclaim.

Monarch plays a combination of uber-textured shoegaze, alternative country, indie pop, all with a twist of twee pop on top. It's great; a unique blending of genres and styles that accurately sums up what's going on the medium-sized Maryland city. Literally, every group to hail from Baltimore is excitedly curious and eager to explore and delve into any form of music they can get their hands on.

So check out a few of the tunes below and get hyped up for the official release of If Children!
Monarch - Regret
Monarch - Warning
Monarch - Obituary
Monarch - Family Glue

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2.8.07

Peter Bjorn & John @ the Fonda, 7.31.07

peter bjorn & john live
The crowned kings of Swedish pop, Peter Bjorn & John, came to Los Angeles yesterday and played a spectacular show with opener Cass McCombs and the Henry Fonda Theater. The show was well rounded and provided a live vividness and energy that's not on the LP, Writer's Block (although that's not to say the album isn't spectacularly recorded ... it just captures a different, refined energy).

From harmonica additions on "Paris 2004" to raved up bongo jam outs during the encore, the show was absolutely fantastic! Unfortunately, the three are returning to Sweden on August 8, but they shall return to L.A. on September 17 -- not too far off! -- for those of you aching for a PB&J live show!

Check out the photos we got and a video clip of "Paris 2004" we caught at the below links!

PHOTOS
"Paris 2004" Live @ the Fonda, 7.31.07
Peter Bjorn & John - Young Folks (Live @ Eurosonic, 2007)
Peter Bjorn & John - Paris 2004 (Live on Sound Opinions)

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New Crystal Castles

crystal castles
Crystal Castles has finally given in to the supreme amount of hype, press, and discussion they've been bestowed. I remember finding these guys right around the BiBaBiDi 2-year Anniversary, when they'd only done one remix (for HEALTH), recorded a few demo tracks in the dude's seedy apartment (I'm guessing here), and refuted any claims that the duo was indeed a band.

Now, after a myriad of concerts spanning the entire globe, an EP and split 7" with HEALTH to be released in the near future, and plenty of other things I've yet to hear about, they've finally broken in (down, perhaps?) ...

So that was the intro. Anyway, CC just sent me the remix of "Trash the Rental" by Soho Dolls (MySpace). It's great (of course), and exactly what you'd expect. Dance-y melodies hidden by an eerie filter of 80s arcade game glitchy synth sounds. As though a ghost had possessed the original game, Crystal Castles ... or something.

Anyway, enjoy the track, and get the EP (whenever it's actually released!) from Summer Lovers Unlimited (shop).
Soho Dolls - Trash the Rental (Crystal Castles Remix)

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Monster Bobby

monster bobby
Everyone here knows the Pipettes, right? If you know the delightful U.K. girl group, than you know Monster Bobby, too! The "pop impresario" was the arranger for the Pipettes and is now pursuing his own solo career. On July 17, his debut LP, Gaps was released in the U.K. (with a limited release in America), and frankly, I'm sorry that an official release date has not been set for the U.S.! This is wonderful stuff!

Monster Bobby has been raising eyebrows in the Brighton scene (think the Go! Team here) for years now with his Phil Spector-esque style of production and twee yet anthemic and accessibly charming pop style.

Monster Bobby is another spectacular example of artists promoting a new sort of DIY, one that focuses on raw talen and skill rather than a desire to be famous and iconic. I appreciate the earnestness with which Bobby makes his music, and boy does it shine through with Gaps! The album, which is being released on Hypnote, is not to be missed, so check out a few tracks below and pick the thing up!
Monster Bobby - Beyong the Reach of Arms
Monster Bobby - I Heard You Moved Away

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1.8.07

Aaron Schroeder

aaron schroeder
I tend to stay away from singer/songwriters. Too easy, I always think (but who am I to say, anyway?) ... too easy to come up with a good song, good lyrics, and good productions, but what's to see you apart? That's my warped feeling, at least, but thanks to guys like Aaron Schroeder (MySpace), I'm being convinced otherwise.

This Washington native is just really, really good and refreshingly unique and compelling. "What We Don't Know" from the forthcoming Black & Gold is a quirky pop serenade that I can't stop listening to. It's an undersold pop hit that literally everyone should be listening and dancing along to. That swing style of songwriting that's been popping up everywhere -- from London to Sweden to Washington now -- is solid gold. Solid gold, I tell ya. And Schroeder has tapped into a reserve of uh ... 24 karat stuff. (Was that taking it too far?)

Anyway, get down to this guy, he'll charm you and sweep you away, and hey, you've gotta agree, that's more than a lot of singer/songwriters can do!
Aaron Schroeder - What We Don't Know
Aaron Schroeder - The Mississippi Line

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