Archive for August, 2009

my girls and boys


well this is just… neat. victoria bergstram’s new album as taken by trees, east of eden, is due out in just over a week on rough trade records. it was produced by dan lissvik of studio fame and it’s all kinds of gorgeous from what i’ve heard, something akin to lykke li backed by an acoustic tough alliance.

a flamenco-flavored track called “watch the waves” is already floating around the interwebs, and a lot of buzz is building for a song featuring noah “panda bear” lennox called “anna.” this greedy bastard just has to have his name somewhere on every awesome album this year doesn’t he?

as if his contribution to that song wasn’t enough, bergstram is perhaps setting a record for quickest cover turnaround in history and including a beautifully buoyant cover of animal collective’s “my girls” on the record. lennox and avey tare rather carelessly left out the boys in their plea for four walls and adobe slabs so bergstram is making sure they get their due, and i for one am totally with her on this.

hear her out after the jump…

now how long before the inevitable mash-up???


first impressions: the big pink – a brief history of love


* this first impression was made possible by the band themselves, who streamed the album for free on their website a few weeks ago.

i meant to get this up earlier in the week but what are you going to do? the album isn’t out yet so this still counts as a first impression. full review after the jump…

the uk press has been building this duo up for months as “the band to watch.” you know. them and basically everyone else with a british birth certificate to release a single within the last year. but all cynicism aside, there is good reason to pay attention to these guys. robbie furze has played guitar for alec empire and milo cordell fostered the likes of the klaxons and the teenagers among others as founder of merok records.

each member of the big pink brings their respective experience to the table on their debut, a brief history of love, and for the most part, it pays off splendidly. one can assume that cordell’s work with his label is at least partially responsible for the commanding sense of melody and pop savvy that permeates the record, while furze’s work with empire seems responsible for the harsh electronic undercurrents on several of the songs, not to mention the explosive intensity of their choruses.

“too young to love,” an early teaser single that resurfaces here in slightly more polished form, is arguably the most textbook consolidation of these strengths. over stuttering programmed drums and squalling feedback, the song plays like one long extended chorus, tailor-made for maximum volume at shows. the other buzz track (and still the pink’s best achievement to date) “velvet” employs all of the same elements in an almost completely different way. the drum loops are more languid, and the guitar squalor more restrained and used to punctuate the gorgeously swooning vocals. one couldn’t be blamed for recalling early verve on initial listens, but i don’t remember ashcroft ever sounding this sincere or unassuming.

most of the other songs heed to either one side of the pink spectrum or the other, never quite matching these previous heights but still coming pretty damn close at best and deserving admiration for trying at worst. opener “crystal visions” is what stone roses’ second coming could and should have sounded like. “dominos” compresses “velvet’s” throb into a radio-ready nugget with a delightully dumb sentiment at its core (“these girls fall like dominoooooes!”). the title track and closing “count backwards from ten” scale back the industrial touches, opting instead for hazy, spaceman 3 territory, and provide most welcome changes of pace, particularly the former with its anonymous, hope sandoval-esque vocal accompaniment (anyone else hear the album and know who she is yet? please tell me).

equal parts brit-pop, m83, and my bloody valentine, it’s no surprise that the big pink have found and made a home at 4ad. there’s an oddly nostalgic quality to this record that fits their aesthetic and history perfectly while also offering glimpses at what till hopefully be a long and fulfilling career for one of the year’s more promising upstarts.

a brief history of love is out on 9/8. here is the video for the aforementioned “dominoes.” rad stuff it is.

my guilty pleasure and no one else’s?


oh sally. i don’t know what happened. most people don’t seem to be as in love with you the second time around. it’s like now that they know you actually are a real person (albeit with a fake name), you’ve lost your allure.

well fear not, sally. we still love you here at pop that rocks. my guilty pleasure may not pack quite the same dramatic oomph that disco romance did (this is all relative, people), but it still brings nothing but smiles to my face and has proven the perfect complimentary summer pop album to its predecessor’s wintry grandeur.

i had the opportunity to say lots more nice things about it and its strengths for mwdwn magazine this past week. find a link to my review and a free track after the jump…

album review: my guilty pleasure

sally said this album was supposed to “make you fall in love with the person sitting next to you on the bus.” i don’t take public transportation so i can’t vouch for that, but i can say that this album bangs in its own adorably winsome way. it may even have some potential pop singles on it hands: the tensnake-tinged “moonlight dance” and freestyling “save your love” come immediately to mind.

but like romance, one of its highlights is a cover, this time of nicolas makelberge’s “dying in africa.” his alternately morbid and melancholy lyric is spliced over rainfall synths and a house-styled beat evocative of underworld. never has third world stryfe sounded so beautiful.

listen for yourself, courtesy of paper bag, and then get the album. it’s out now.

dying in africa

and sorry about the lack of posts this week. still trying to get all of my ducks in a row for the big relaunch next month. stay tuned…

pop that y-rocks 8.22.09


my most recent online radio show aired this past saturday on y-rock on xpn from 1-3. it featured new music from radiohead, the antlers, pictureplane, the xx, and more. full playlist rundown and random observations after the jump…

radiohead – these are my twisted words
phoenix – girlfriend
st. vincent – laughing with a mouth of blood
the pains of being pure at heart – ramona
lansing-dreiden – metal on a gun
throw me the statue – ancestors
xtc – senses working overtime
grizzly bear – two weeks
deastro – shield whip
japandroids – wet hair
health – die slow
delorean – moonsoon
discovery – orange shirt
the antlers – sylvia
jj – me & dean
pictureplane – goth star
the knife – heartbeats
the big pink – velvet
spoon – got nuffin
white denim – regina holding hands
a sunny day in glasgow – ashes grammar – ashes maths
atlas sound – walkabout (feat. noah lennox)
passion pit – the reeling
washed out – you’ll see it
yacht – summer song
the xx – basic space
the streets – fit but you know it
simian mobile disco – audacity of huge (feat. chris keating)
basement jaxx – raindrops

listenership seemed to be up a great deal this week, with a lot of my song selections getting positive feedback.

this may be my last “regular” playlist for a while. with roughly ten shows to do for the rest of the year, i’ve decided to shift my focus from showcasing the new to reflecting on the old for a bit. each of this year’s remaining shows will be dedicated to one year in music this decade, beginning with 2000 and working my way up.

I will be welcoming interaction with readers and listeners during this time, taking requests and recommendations and hopefully shining some light on music you may have missed the first time around. with each shift, i will blog my playlist and progress, posting the occasional mp3 and noting songs and transitions that move me in one way or another as i incorporate them into what will become my definite ipod playlist for the decade, to be unveiled on decemeber 31st, 2009.

so stay tuned. hopefully we’ll all learn something over the next few months and have some fun doing it. it all kicks off this saturday, august 29 at 1pm.


hey annie


annie’s looooooong delayed sophomore album don’t stop is finally coming out in november on smalltown supersound.

i have to admit that i wasn’t quite as enamoured with the leaked version that surfaced last year as i was with anniemal, but i’m guessing annie wasn’t either. she’s played around with the sequencing and deleted and added several tracks.

the bad news: no more “sweet” or “i know ur girlfriend hates me” and we still get the wtf-inducing “breakfast song.”

the good news: we also still get “bad times” and the gliding, glistening “songs remind me of you,” that latter of which is available on itunes as a promo right now and rings truer then any of madonna’s latter-day dancefloor confessions.

follow the jump to access it…

every song i hear reminds me of you

the rest of the album is out november 17 (knock on wood) and still features some nifty contributions from richard x, timo kaukolampi and alex kapranos from franz ferdinand.

here’s the revised tracklist:

hey annie
my love is better
bad times
don’t stop
i don’t like your band
songs remind me of you
marie cherie
take you home
the breakfast song
when the night
heaven and hell

i don’t know about the new tracks, but the new album cover alone makes me like this version better.

these are my twisted words


so there’s this kind of awesome new song by a band called radiohead. maybe you’ve heard of them? it leaked last week to much fanfare and speculation but now the band has made it officially available for download with the following statement:

“So here’s a new song, called ‘These Are My Twisted Words.’ We’ve been recording for a while, and this was one of the first we finished. We’re pretty proud of it. There’s other stuff in various states of completion, but this is one we’ve been practicing, and which we’ll probably play at this summer’s concerts. Hope you like it.”

it’s no wall of ice, but it will do.

these are my twisted words

annnnnnd it begins…


well we all knew this was coming. the double-ohs are winding down and it’s time for everyone to start lecturing everyone else about all of the things that mattered and or ‘made an impact’ over the last ten years. in this neck of the blogosphere, that translates into telling everyone what you think were the best albums of the decade. drawing first blood on this front is popular indie blog (and frequent source of new music for yours truly) gorillavsbear. let’s see how they did…

first off, props for beating pitchfork to the punch. being pitchfork and all, they’ve been hyping up their own multi-week, multi-list restrospective of the ’00s to a ridiculous degree. gvb just dropped theirs today, unannounced and unassuming, like any good blog should. they offer their opinion to those interested without making anyone feel obligated to read it. right on.

next, they are referring to this list as their “favorite albums of the ’00s,” not the best. it’s refreshing to see a blog acknowledge that the opinions on it are simply that, and don’t presume to dictate what everyone else should think.

in a rather bold move, they only dropped a list of 20 albums. 20 albums over the span of ten years, with no explanation for any selected. again, i like this because it welcomes readers to make up their own minds about the selections. after all, no amount of words can tell you what actually listening to an album from beginning to end will say about an its quality or relevance.

i’ve made it this far without actually diving into the music itself. as a whole, for a list of 20 albums, i’d have to say they did the decade pretty proud. i’m not saying i agree with all of their selections (white denim feels a little early to tell and i’d have gone with original pirate material over a grand don’t come for free) or sequencing (the knife – way too low), but i think they do a good job of nailing the diversity of music that these ten years have had to offer. i’m glad to see burial getting the recognition he deserves (take that, mercury prize!) and it’s also nice that someone remembered animal collective actually did release records prior to merriweather post pavilion, even if it did take listening to that one to make this blogger appreciate all of the other ones.

you can check out the full list over at their blog (it comes with a foreward from carrrrrrrrles, y’all) or just keep scrolling. it already appears to be sparking some civil but heated debate in their comment section.

it would appear to be officially on now. betterpropaganda already has a list up, 100 albums strong. the fork’s drawing their line in the sand on monday with 500 songs and 200 albums. who’s next? i suppose i best get working on my own list. not sure how i was going to go about making or presenting it. i’m tempted to avoid ranking altogether and just go chronologically, maybe breaking out my fave songs from each decade on my radio show.

we’ll see. suggestions are always welcome.

01 panda bear – person pitch (2007)
02 the strokes – is this it (2001)
03 ghostface killah – supreme clientele (2000)
04 outkast – stankonia (2000)
05 radiohead – kid A (2000)
06 j dilla – donuts (2006)
07 sufjan stevens – michigan (2003)
08 burial – untrue (2007)
09 joanna newsom – the milk-eyed mender (2004)
10 m.i.a. + diplo – piracy funds terrorism vol. I (2004)
11 sigur ros – Ágætis Byrjun (2000) this was the european release date. not sure if that should count
12 the arcade fire – funeral (2004)
13 white denim – fits (2009)
14 animal collective – feels (2005)
15 the streets – a grand don’t come for free (2004)
16 grizzly bear – veckatimest (2009)
17 clipse – hell hath no fury (2006)
18 beach house – devotion (2008)
19 madvillain – madvillainy (2004)
20 the knife – silent shout (2006)

*on an unrelated note, i’ve opted to refrain from posting on the weekends for the time being, unless something really exciting comes up. check back sometime monday for new updates. cheers.

a new artist a day – power pirate


our next new artist is actually a three-piece band out of washington d.c. who call themselves power pirate. formed in 2007, they consist of emily pakulski (guitar/vocals), annika monari (drums) and michael garate (keyboards), and they’re a diy group in every sense of the term, designing their own website (very nice), taking their own publicity photos and recording their music in homemade booths made out of mattresses (resourceful!).

speaking of their music, it’s a perky yet pummeling mash-up of the heavy guitar melodrama of muse and the squiggly synths of bis. these may sound like strange bedfellows at first but the resulting cocktail is quite fun. it certainly doesn’t hurt that the group has a commanding vocalist is pakulski, whose soaring sneer isn’t too far removed that of the sounds’ maja ivarsson.

their music may not be for everyone, but it has certainly resulted in much involutary head-bobbing at my desk at work. imagine what it could trigger when exploding out of speakers at a club. according to local d.c. press, they positively shred live.

not bad for a group whose members aren’t even old enough to drink yet.

check out a couple embedded tunes below. my pick is the techno-tinged “infecting us.”


3 – Stars by powerpirate

infecting us:

5 – Infecting Us by powerpirate

free deastro!


i know i’m trying to stay away from heavily reported stuff, but i can’t help it when an artist’s shit is this great.

moondagger, the recent debut album from deastro (aka 22 year old randolph chabot) is definitely one of the sleeper hits of the summer for me. the album is bursting with ambition and melody and its intersecting, interlocking electronics and rhythms remind me of early m83. and don’t even get me started on the conceptual, rpg-recalling lyrics.

as if this album wasn’t incentive enough already to love him, chabot has crafted a brand new, 9 song ep that he’s offering for free via his band blog.

the awesomely titled orange swimmer red summer ep offers a sloppier, sunnier take on its album predecessor. it still shimmers and shines like chabot’s earlier work, but also has a more organic feel and with it a touch more urgency. in this blogger’s opinion, it’s just as essential as its older sibling, and will definitely share the glory on my end of year list come december.

don’t believe me? grab it at the link below and listen for yourself right now. seriously. “red summer” alone should be enough to sell you.

orange swimmer red summer

scoring life with antlers


another new thing i’m trying on here is a recurring column that from here on in, unless someone comes up with something better, will be called “scoring life.” for each entry, i will take a newish album at random, listen to it during one of my myriad day to day tasks – some exciting, many mundane – and report back on what i think.

this serves two purposes: one to review music from a unique perspective as i find it interesting how listening to certain songs or artists can color what one is doing at the time and vice versa. two to offer brief, random glimpses into my ever so illusive personal life. aren’t i subversive?

we begin here with a look into the new album by the antlers, hospice

first, some background. i acquired this album just last week. i had casually previewed a couple of tracks (“bears” even found its way onto a recent party playlist at my apartment) but had yet to give the whole the full attention that it required and deserved.

today at work, i was entering the third day of what can safely be called a lull. yes, i have a “real job” beyond this blog and it has its fair share of slow spells, typically at the start of each month. anyway, towards the end of the day, i was selected to undertake the uber-exciting task of scanning imagery and emailing it to myself to sort into folders for future design use. that’s right. my work had finally slowed to doing a receptionist’s job. this isn’t to say i dislike what i do. far from it, actually. but that didn’t make the task at hand any less mind-numbing or repetitive. knowing i’d be standing in front of a copier for the remainder of the afternoon, i thought it would be the perfect time to find something to listen to in-depth. guess which album was at the top of my queue?

and so i listened. the first thing i noticed was how the droning ambience of the opening songs, combined with how many of the individual tracks seemed to bleed directly into one another, perfectly matched both the lethargic pace at which the time and task were moving and the way my mind would slip into cruise control as i moved from scanning one image to the next, often losing track of where i was entirely.

this may sound like a bad thing, but things took on a very zen-like quality for me, and when the noise picked up and horns burst to life in songs like the subtly anthemic “sylvia,” i even cracked a smile and started to enjoy myself, swaying out of rhythm in front of the copier like an oblivious guy trying to entice an indifferent girl at the prom. by the time the aforementioned (and fantastic) “bears” came tumbling into my ears with it’s twinkling verses and rollicking chorus, i could have swayed and scanned for an eternity, even as the lyrics echoed the uneasy feeling that said eternity was a very real possibility:

“and all the while, i’ll know we’re fucked and not getting unfucked soon.”

but eternity never came, or rather it did. whichever. as i neared the end of my pile of crudely colored illustrations, the album followed in kind with sobering comedowns, the hauntingly patient “shiva” and the downbeat, eight-minute epic “wake,” the latter of which almost had me convinced i was back floating in space with spiritualized.

the lyric and melody of “bears” resurfaced, this time in acoustic form delivered in a formidable falsetto by head antler peter silberman, for hospice‘s appropriately titled “epilogue,” just as i reached the final folder in the plastic crate. fucked no more.

i hate to say it, but pitchfork is right. with hospice, one can in fact lose the “sense of boundary” between one’s self and the world around him or her. there’s a simultaneous sense of solitude and togetherness, emptiness and bounty in these songs. would i have gotten this from the album under any other circumstances? possibly. hell, hopefully. but i doubt i would have felt such a personal connection to it.

from the antlers themselves, happy listening!