Wednesday, May 31, 2006

you're throwing me off.

Philadelphia rockers Hail Social will likely cause you to do a double take. Their debut album, released on Polyvinyl last August, has cover art that will creep you out, and from the aggressive first notes of "Hands Are Tied," you'll feel you can categorize the band completely. But you won't be able to stop listening. The rhythm section is too energetic and hypnotic to let you go, the guitar is charming and controlling, and Dayve Hawk's lyrical delivery fits perfectly within the songs. A futuristic Cure? A bad-ass Bloc Party? "80's roller-skating music played by a metal band?" Frontman Hawk would describe the band's sound as such, and if that doesn't intrigue you, I'm not sure what will.
With 2005 being the year that Polyvinyl signed several new bands with unexpected sounds, Hail Social holds their own. Opening for Interpol for a lengthy tour and playing alongside Unicorns, TV on the Radio, Joan of Arc, and Of Montreal to name a few, the fluctuating-in-size band have been spreading the word of their dance-damaged songs relentlessly. I doubt you'll find an inspiration or answer to some of your deepest questions about life, but you shouldn't be looking towards a dance-rock band for that anyway. Allow the self-titled debut to throw you around the room and inspire new dance moves instead. Pitchfork says a mouthful by stating that Hail Social are "armed with LCD Soundsystem bass pulsation, staccato new-new-wave guitars, Rick Oca-slick type production and Duran Duran arena stomp, an emo falsetto in a post-punk mask." I'm under the impression that material for a second album has already been recorded and, judging from the two recent Warning Sign songs and "Nuclear Wasted," the future looks swell. You can listen to both songs from the new 7" on MySpace.

Hail Social's "Start/Stop"
from Hail Social 7"

Hail Social's "Hands Are Tied"
from Hail Social

Hail Social's "Nuclear Wasted"

Thanks (again) be to Mike for the friendly reminder of how worthy of my ears Hail Social are.
That's two posts you have Mike to thank for, directly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

this land is your land... now that you mention it.

Born in Detroit over thirty years ago with the ability to play nearly all musical instruments proficiently and an ever-sharpening aptitude for creating relatable characters and stories, one man is considered the song-writer of our generation. Establishing the prolific 50 States project in 2003 with an homage to his home state, he paved his way to release (by most accounts) the best album of 2005, the 74 minute, 22 track Come On Feel The Illinoise, solidifying Sufjan Stevens as a master of his craft.
You may be asking yourself who I could possibly be introducing Sufjan Stevens to. Your question is valid given the majority of my target audience. However, I'll admit that it was just around the Illinois era that I truly discovered Sufjan. Maybe you've avoided him because of the hype, or you just never got around to listening. Maybe you've only listened casually and have only delved into an album or two. Maybe you know every note played by every instrument on every album. Regardless, Tuesday's Spotlight is shining brightly on the savior of the concept album; the man with the next forty-eight (minimum) years of his life planned out; the truly likeable soul, Sufjan Stevens.
Sufjan's first album was an amalgam of instruments and stylistic elements. Sure, there are hints at the genuine indie-folk that would later become more predominant but, more significantly, there is a stew of influences with Middle-Eastern, Celtic, Indian, and rock flavors. Sufjan said of the album that it incorporates "traditional pop music, medieval instrumentation with Middle Eastern inflections, tape loops, digital samples, literary vocals, manic percussion, woodwinds, sitar, amp distortion and Arabic chants." It's probably the only time you'll be able to hear Sonic Youth's impact on the budding songwriter, and with the lyric "She'll shoot a super fart, the deadly silent kind" in the mix ("Super Sexy Woman"), A Sun Came is the hardest to swallow. It's significance is in hearing the progression of Stevens' work.
Those who heard A Sun Came upon it's original release may have been on the edge of their seat to hear where Stevens would go next. Where indeed. Enjoy Your Rabbit was en excursion into the vastly different world of electronic music. Not worlds apart from the work of Kid606 or even Four Tet at times, the album contained a song for every animal of the Chinese Zodiac. It's both ambient and filled with glitches, blips and found sounds. It's long and hints at Stevens' desire to create lengthy concept work, but the thing that's missing is not the heart electronic music is generally void of, it's Sufjan's refreshingly honest and fertilely touching voice. Like A Sun Came, Enjoy Your Rabbit was important for Stevens to create, both albums represent a progression with over a dozen instruments and musical programming, which would be vital for the creation of his state-based masterpieces.
Michigan was an homage to his home state, a state not well-known for being upbeat, but rather it's blue-collar (say "Git 'Er Done" and you're banned from this site) status. It's on Michigan that we first hear the charm of Sufjan's voice atop a gently picked banjo. Pensive hymns, bluegrass spirituals and upbeat arrangements driving in the same car, watching the factories and fields pass by on a drive through "The Great Lake State." Greetings From Michigan... was the album that caused a gentle wave of heads turning toward Stevens' sublimely original story-telling. Possibly just a single concept album for his home state, the idea began here.
The idea needed tweaking, and a gentle prodding in order to continue properly. Stevens needed to work in a completely different way to figure out where he was headed. Seven Swans was a sparse, largely acoustic, largely banjo-driven, significantly religious album not of Christian propaganda but rather of human compassion. It's in the stripped down and delicate nature of Seven Swans that holds it's power, "like Elliot Smith after ten years of Sunday School." (Spin) This was the first time that it was proven that Stevens is capable of working wonders with very little; a miracle-worker, if you will.
Then it happened. Even after (or perhaps sparked by) legal problems getting the album out (due simply to the original cover having a drawing of Superman), Illinois started selling and just didn't stop. Critics were amazed. Casual listeners were convinced. The Illinoise-makers were in full effect. Complete with an ironically beautiful ballad about serial killer and part-time clown John Wayne Gacy, Jr. and an homage to the Man of Steel himself, Come on feel the Illinoise's spot atop countless Top Ten lists shouldn't be contested. Read Pitchfork's glowing review here or spend some time reading up on the long list of references present in the 74 minutes here.
Somehow, in writing and recording the commodious tribute to the Prairie State, material was in over-abundance. Rather than over-populate the world with a negligible double album, Stevens cut about half of the songs in his arsenal only to return to them later in the year. The Avalanche was born and will serve as a way for fans to be held over until we are met with the next state on the list (or another out-of-left-field surprise). The surprise within the album is that it's actually fully capable of standing on it's own two feet. If you're in tune with the blog-o-sphere, you're already familiar with a few of the standout tracks from the top half of the 76 minutes of "outtakes and extras." The title track, "Dear Mr. Supercomputer," "Adlai Stevenson," and "The Henney Buggy Band" are some of the strongest tracks, but like Illinois good things come to those with patience. "The Pick-up" and "Pittsfield" are very solid, and the artwork makes the album complete. Even casual fans won't be disappointed by this collection.
The only era when there was more than a year between albums was between Enjoy Your Rabbit and Michigan. Was this Sufjan's introspective time away from music? What are you, new? In this period, Stevens and his friends recorded three EPs of Christmas music. Could there be a more glorious notion? No. There couldn't. You can find the twenty-four holiday necessities from a few places online, but I've provided a link below to a sure-fire location.
You can't afford to be missing out on the web Sufjan is spinning.

Sufjan Stevens' "We Are What You Say"
from A Sun Came

Sufjan Stevens' "Year of the Dragon"
from Enjoy Your Rabbit

Sufjan Stevens' "O Come O Come Emmanuel"
from Hark! Noel! Songs for Christmas: Volume One

Sufjan Stevens' "I Saw Three Ships"
from Hark! Noel! Songs for Christmas: Volume Two

Sufjan Stevens' "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!"
from Ding! Dong! Songs for Christmas: Volume Three
Download the EPs in their entirety at Irresponsible Journalism

Sufjan Stevens' "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)"
from Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lake State

Sufjan Stevens' "All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands"
from Seven Swans

Sufjan Stevens' "Casimir Pulaski Day"
& "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!"
from Come On Feel The Illinoise

Sufjan Stevens' "No Man's Land"
& "Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)"
from The Avalanche

Monday, May 29, 2006

i got nothing to say but the things i know.

In taking the time to consider each impetus for decisions or events that have lead me to where I am in several aspects, I've found remarkable the small moments that shape so much. I worked at a record store about two years ago alongside some pretty great people and an eventual great friend. After just a couple months of working there, at a pharmacy and taking classes, I was offered a promotion at the pharmacy. The hours (and pay raise) dictated that I leave the record shop. I even stopped taking classes for the time being. It's presently still the time being and I'm faced with the bizarre notion that the lower-paying job at the used record/movie/game store was better suited for me. It's a discernment that is arguable and potentially out of line, but i's almost unshakable for the moment. And do you know why?
As five CDs were being selected for the random rotation for the day, I brought Phoenix's Alphabetical up, and no one had heard of the Lost In Translation (Sophia Coppola's Bill Murray & Scarlett Johansson masterpiece) featured French pop rock band. Towards the end of the day, the manager (who I look very much up to) shrugged off the album and asked if it was some sort of boy band. I was very impressionable and hadn't grown into myself around the crew and kind of walked away, dejected. The poppy, catchy qualities of Alphabetical that had drawn me to it were apparently some sort of inherent flaw. Of course I recognize now the ego involved with most record store employees (Kevin and Melanie are of a different breed), and am confident in my tastes. I'm sure my head would be eleven times bigger than it already is had I stayed there.
It was a mediocre job with many aspects that made up for that fact. Maybe I shouldn't have shrugged it off so quickly. Maybe it was the right decision. Phoenix are much better than mediocre. They're much better than average. I've heard that their live shows are stunning, and the albums are getting there. It may be easy for you to shrug off Phoenix, given the fairly straight-forward nature of the new album, It's Never Been Like That. But occasionally intentions are better carried on the sleeve of the hand strumming the pop hooks and albums are better when written and recorded quickly. These boys are radio friendly, that much is clear. But you may just find that there's more to what's obvious , and that's what you enjoy the most.

Phoenix's "Rally"
from It's Never Been Like That

While everyone I know would find this album through it's U.S. Atralwerks distribution, I am under the distinct impression that (Broken Social Scene's) Arts & Crafts will be releasing the album in Canada. I think this is very cool, but slightly odd and quite unexpected. I can only hope they'll alter the artwork to match the rest of the label's releases.

I got my hands on some great releases a little ahead of schedule today and you should look very much forward to this week on no one is awake.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

i don't care what the song's about.

In mid-July a line will have been drawn in the sand. Please, for your own sake, be on the side that Becki, Gwenno and Rose are on. The Pipettes represent what made music great in the 50's when girl groups and Motown gave girls a very subtle power with the way they swayed and wooed. The three polka-dot clad girls have everything together in order to make you simultaneously ask "Tilly & the Who?" and "Martha & The Vandell-who?"
"Pull Shapes" from the forthcoming We Are The Pipettes is the perfect representation of what the girls will mean to your speakers all Summer long. Play it loud. Dance often. In the car and on the beach. But remember to get on the right side of the line in the sand.

The Pipettes' "Pull Shapes"
"Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me"
& "Dirty Mind"
from We Are The Pipettes

The Pipettes on MySpace.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

i can see through everything.

Time is an actual element to music. Not the real time it takes to simply listen, but the elapsed time (months, or more appropriately: years) it takes for albums and artists to gel, and on rare occasions, cement. It's the reason Pitchfork changing their rating and review of Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea to a 10 is logical and the Arctic Monkeys album being named the fifth best British album of all time before within the month of it's release is absurd.
Time is also a personal element to music. The reason you feel you grow out of (or away from) some albums is obvious, but the reasons some come back are the reasons music is such a complex and living aspect to our lives.
French Kicks (pardon the euphemism, but) had me at 'hello.' From the start of their debut One Time Bells I was thrilled. I listened to it quite a bit and it was around the most crucial stage of my music-listening life. Why The Trial of the Century didn't stick is, at this point, beyond me. Upon hearing a new track from July's Two Thousand (their third full-length on StarTime, which kickstarted The Walkmen among others), I felt both elated to enjoy a song from a band I had unfortunately nearly forgotten about, and incredibly guilty for not making better use of the last two years I should have been spending with Trial. Well no more, French Kicks. I promise you. I'm here now and not going anywhere.
French Kicks have definitely gelled. The Brooklyn-based quintet modified their original stylish and sensible garage post-punk with lush synths and less powerful drums with Trial, but I'm under the impression that Two Thousand will build on those changes and bring the band to it's true (and quite excellent) sound.
Time has made all the difference for French Kicks, and it's my belief that it will continue to benefit the band.

French Kicks' "Wrong Side"
from One Time Bells

French Kicks' "One More Time"
from The Trial of the Century
There are currently four more songs from this album on MySpace

French Kicks' "Also Ran"
from Two Thousand

you wouldn't have thought it was the middle of spring.

Really, after 2005's Illinois, it had to be expected that 2006 would be a big year for Asthmatic Kitty. Having already released an unstoppable Half-handed Cloud album, a long-lost Marzuki-surrounded Shannon Stephens album, a Castanet/Illinoise-maker solo album from Belltower, and an epic compilation. I've already mentioned that the balance of the year still holds releases from My Brightest Diamond, Shapes & Sizes, and the Illinois B-Sides The Avalanche, which just may sell a few copies. Also slated for release this year is the label debut from Chris Cohen's The Curtains.
After several albums and changes in line-ups, The Curtains' Calamity was recorded entirely by Cohen. But in adding guest performers and harmonies, the new Curtains four member cast list was born.
I feel compelled to tell you, however, that this is where my interest is at it's peak.
It's new Curtains member Nedelle Torrisi that appeals to me most (due to a perfectly timed recommendation). Nedelle has released three albums (two on Kill Rock Stars), and of her most recent album it was said, "From the Lion's Mouth is a compassionate coo that cuddles your ear like a warm whisper."
The Curtains' Calamity will be released in the Fall. Nedelle is recording her next album for release in early '07. More Curtains on MySpace. More Nedelle on MySpace.

The Curtains' "World's Most Dangerous Woman"
from Calamity

Nedelle's The Natural Night"
& "Begin To Breathe"
from From the Lion's Mouth

I should mention that Chris Cohen is formerly of Deerhoof. That may reel you in if you are a fan of Deerhoof. I myself am not. Hence, the mention is a guilt-driven addendum.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

there used to be jesus, but now there are other things.

A storm is coming. Judging from the pre-thunder humidity, it should be a great force. Here's hoping.
In eight days, I'll be heading to Athens, Ohio for Lobsterfest '06. I don't know the origin of the Ohio University festival, but I know that Owen, Matt Pond PA, Saturday Looks Good To Me, and Kevin Devine will all be playing, along with Ohioans Joe Anderl, Fine Dining, and Southeast Engine.
Southeast Engine calls Athens, Ohio home, and have been quietly churning out some quality alt-country/folk for over half a decade. The six-piece has played shows with The Wrens, Lucero, Head of Femur and Magnolia Electric Co., to name a few, and I've become increasingly excited to see them since I first heard them (this morning).
If you enjoy Goodmorning Valentine, you'll probably like Southeast Engine. I referenced (and linked to) a GMV post I did just yesterday, as well.
I'm afraid a power outage could cause hefty computer damage, so I'm speedily finishing this post. Enjoy.

Southeast Engine's "Holy Ghost"
& "Coming To Terms With Gravity"
from Coming To Terms With Gravity

Southeast Engine's "Where Are You Know?"
from One Caught Fire EP

The band's website has a few more songs, including two very good new demos and their MySpace has another CTTWG track.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

purple mountains ain't a hill of beans unless you're on top.

Perhaps Will Courtney is Davey Von Bohlen's (Maritime) brother. The brother that moved south and spent his hours divided into equal parts of working a 9-5 day job, slouching at a bar, having his heart broken, and gathering friends to play indie folk rock about all of the above. Well, all except the brotherhood seem to hold true. But you knew that that supposition was rhetorical and more an allusion to Courtney's voice than a genuine proposition. Courtney is the primary song writer and singer of Brothers and Sisters, a Texan group of eight that doesn't let the despondent nature of Courtney's lyrics bring them so down that their brand of alt-country/folk is hindered too much.
Here are two songs from Brothers and Sisters' debut. They've got a few more on their MySpace. And more beards than most bands.

Brothers and Sisters' "Sunday Living"
& "Grass Is Brown"
from Brothers and Sisters

Please spend some time with yesterday's Of Montreal Spotlight.

Please spend some time rejoicing that the Page France/Suicide Squeeze deal has happened. The Squeeze is now nursing two phantasmagorically great young bands. It's hard to believe I haven't done my own Page France post, but I did post on the other. Remember?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

every sound sounds new again.

Today is the day that I present an Athens-sized Spotlight on a Titanic-based band. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it. The Elephant 6 collective began with Neutral Milk Hotel, The Olivia Tremor Control, and The Apples In Stereo, but at the forefront of it's second wave was Kevin Barnes, who not only drew from 60's pop (of the girl-group persuasion) but notably from more vaudevillian elements. Through the course of releasing nearly a dozen albums, Barnes' roster of band-mates has been ever-changing and at times elephantine. The acidicly sweet sugar pop has evolved as well, but has always been a vehicle for Barnes' uplifting lyrical and absurdist musical genius. The cast of characters, scenery, and story lines Barnes has created are not of this world. They are of a Wonkaesque Chocolate Room. Of a place where everything is sweet and tangible and occasionally dangerous. Of a dream so believable only until it's put into words. Of Montreal.
Of Montreal is a Wizard Of Oz-ian package deal. Barnes' music is extremely intelligent, but with an astonishing amount of sincerity and heart. He has the courage to take on hundreds of topics, feelings and stories and each album has a home-made feel courtesy of David Barnes' artwork and designs. Kevin takes risks with the melodies he sings, and doesn't hit each note effortlessly, but such is his charm. Whether the recordings are high or low quality, this charm is backed perfectly by eighties beats and synths, plunked piano, giddily strummed guitar, kazoo, choirs, and sincere pop worthy of the history books. While I came late in the Of Montreal discography, it's still my (and a collective shared) belief that The Gay Parade is the quintessential Of Montreal album. I've mentioned that it was the album that made me give Of Montreal more of my time than I had. And it's been a worthwhile investment.
As is now a recurring theme with Tuesday's Spotlight, most of the proceeding albums can be purchased from the kind people working at Polyvinyl.

Of Montreal's "Baby"
from Cherry Peel

Of Montreal's "I Felt Like Smashing My Head Through A Clear Glass Window"
from The Bird Who Continues To Eat The Rabbit's Flower

Of Montreal's "It's Easy To Sleep When You're Dead"
from The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy

Of Montreal's "Old Familiar Way"
from The Gay Parade

Of Montreal's "The Problem With April"
from Horse & Elephant Eatery (No Elephants Allowed): The Singles & Songles Album

Of Montreal's "Dirty Dustin Hoffman Needs A Bath"
from The Early 4-Track Recordings

Of Montreal's "Penelope"
from Coquelicot Asleep In The Poppies: A Variety Of Whimsical Verse

Of Montreal's "An Ill-Treated Hiccup"
from If He Is Protecting Our Nation, Then Who Will Protect Big Oil, Our Children?

Of Montreal's "Jennifer Louise"
from Adhil's Arboretum

Of Montreal's "Lysergic Bliss"
"Know Your Onion"
from Satanic Panic In The Attic

Of Montreal's "Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games"
"Everyday Feels Like Sunday"
from The Sunlandic Twins

Of Montreal's
"Psychotic Feeling"
from Deflated Chime, Foals Slightly Flower Sibylline Responses

Monday, May 22, 2006

resistance is futile.

Eric Elbogen has been the sole member of Say Hi To Your Mom through the course of three albums but the world, she's a-changing. Say Hi To Your Mom is a little over a month away from releasing it's fourth album and first with two additional full-time members. Elbogen is no stranger to quirky vulnerability and intrinsically human sounding thematic albums, but what is different this time around may be exactly what SHTYM needed to get you hooked. Impeccable Blahs' theme is vampires. Wait! I know the second you read that you stopped caring about anything I could write about and wanting nothing more than to scroll down and listen for yourself, but come on. That's just rude. Hear me out. Or at least promise to scroll back up and finish. Deal? Alright. Start with "Blah Blah Blah" then.
Originally turned on to the SHTYM bus through an Insound recommendation for fans of DCFC, Bright Eyes, Pavement, and Pixies, I found last year's Ferocious Mopes to be quite good. Different than what my expectations had been lead to, but still impressive. Now, with correct supposition of their sound and FAQ-based excitement, I can correctly fall for a Say Hi To Your Mom album, and I'm thrilled that it's Impeccable Blahs. Bands with humorous "Ask The Band" website sections have a soft spot in my heart. SHTYM's FAQ section is not up to par with We Are Scientists' advice column (Your time is well spent in W.a.S.'s advice archives), but clever nonetheless, and complete with around 100 potential band names. And yes, maybe quite a few of them would have been better than Say Hi To Your Mom, but does it really have to bother you? With Elbogen drowsily singing just above a whisper about drinking your blood, it shouldn't. Just let the fuzzy, slouching, (dare I say) shoegaze-y rock more than make up for the moniker. Trust me. It does.

Say Hi To Your Mom's "Blah Blah Blah"
& "Sweet Sweet Heartkiller"
from Impeccable Blahs

Sunday, May 21, 2006

heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

Preconceived notions can come from just about anywhere about just about anything. Unfortunately, they can also originate from absolutely nothing. This was the case for me for a while, keeping me away from Voxtrot. Oddly enough, it was upon hearing two side-projects of Voxtrot first, that I finally took in a few songs, and damned if I had no reason to stay away this long. Voxtrot is a five-piece from Austin, Texas, but I'll bet you'd never have pinned them there on a map. They play infectious indie pop that will actually stick with you. Occasionally I utilize CDNOW's "Customers Who Viewed This Also Viewed..." section to try to identify an amalgam of sounds. The albums listed under Voxtrot's Raised By Wolves EP didn't really surprise me (Band of Horses, Tapes 'n Tapes, Beirut, etc.), but what did catch me off guard were the items listed under customers viewing the recent Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives EP. Sunset Rubdown, Matmos, and (wait for it) The Greatest Hits of ABBA. The common thread among all of these bands will be the Pitchfork Music Festival (as soon as Beirut and ABBA sign on). For the record Insound was closer by recommending Voxtrot to fans of Housemartins, The Smiths, The Beatles, The Beautiful South, and Belle & Sebastian.
Sure sure. I'll give Voxtrot a listen now, but what about those two side-projects? Why are you holding back? Ugh! This blog blows!
Watch it, negative Nancy. Give me a chance. I want nothing more than to gladden you. So allow me to reveal all my cards. On the folky songwriter end of the spectrum is Voxtrot member Jared Van Fleet, playing songs as Sparrow House. At the synth-pop end of the spectrum are Voxtrot members Matt Simon and Jason Chronis playing as half of Belaire. I'll allow both projects to speak for themselves, as they are both very solid and enjoyable. It would also be impossible for me to not post Voxtrot's spirit-lifting Talking Heads cover. Relish away.
More songs from all three are ready for your ears at their respective MySpace pages. Each can be found by typing the artists' name after

Voxtrot's "The Start of Something"
from Raised By Wolves

Voxtrot's "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives"
from Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

Voxtrot's "Heaven" (Talking Heads)

Sparrow House's "When I Am Gone"
& "The Reflection"

Belaire's "Haunted Castle"
& "Back Into The Wall"

ABBA, if you're reading this, please sign on to Pitchfork.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

cowboys, foxes, & seals. oh my.

I've been meaning to shine a light on Chicago and Brilliante's Sharks and Seals for a while. At it's core a duo, this outfit created a dazzling album largely from documenting improvised music. Swirling around hushed fragmental guitarwork that I have come to attribute to Chicago and Joan of Arc-ians are blips, sweet vocals and appearances from Tim Kinsella and Ryan Rhapsys to name a few. None of these things should be too surprising considering that half of the band's skeleton had been a contributor to Joan of Arc and a full-fledged band member during the quintessential The Gap era. It Used To Be Knobs And Machines Now It's Numbers And Light. is mostly an album full of great twilight music with moments that jar you from a lull in a refreshingly pleasant manner.
What propmted me to bring up Sharks and Seals today was a discovery of two bands from Utah that share that (in my mind) Chicago feel. I truly know very little about either band other than that they share a member and one has opened for Limbeck. The bands are Cowboys Aren't Indians and Foxes In The Attic. It'll be a little bit of a role reversal. I'll provide the songs and you dish out the information about their creators. Really. I'd truly like to know.

Sharks and Seals' "Expand Against Forward Movement"
"4-Way Stop"
& "Argentine" (featuring Tim Kinsella and Amy Cargill)
It Used To Be Knobs And Machines Now It's Numbers And Light.

Foxes In The Attic's "Creature of Tonight"
& "Rabid Wolves Whistling"

Cowboys Aren't Indians' "Bob The Builder"
& "A Quiet Life Inside"

behind my game boy i got game, girl.

I've got to be honest. I only had a passing interested in Spank Rock until driving forty minutes to buy YoYoYoYoYoYo for $2.50. I put it in for the drive home and immediately turned it up louder than I've been compelled to listen to most albums since the drums kick in on Bloc Party's "Like Eating Glass." Spank Rock annihilates. With hip-hop, it tends to come down to production with me. Voice, flow, and message are important, but I just won't be as drawn in without production that gets me going. Xxxchange does impeccable work on this humorous, clever, catchy and innovative album. Gnarls Barkley (and I love St. Elsewhere) is the foreplay to Spank Rock's nitty-gritty sweat-fest with YoYoYoYoYoYo. I just hope you can handle it.
It's Saturday morning and I have several things to do before heading to Cedar Point. So, if ever there was a reason to burn a CD, it's to have some Spank Rock material where you can crank it. Or maybe you just have better computer speakers than I do.
In case you're curious, read up on the long list of work Rick Rubin has been associated with.

Spank Rock's "Backyard Betty"
"What It Look Like"
& "Rick Rubin"
from YoYoYoYoYoYo

b is for we will always overcome.

EZArchive has been down all evening, and I need to watch Wonder Showzen.
So Friday's post is more an IOU. Or at least, I owe you and IOU.
The thing is...I really like BARR.
Listen here

Have a great weekend. Twenty months.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

i can't stand to watch the tv.

Q: How great will August be?
A: Quite.

Among many other solid albums to be released in August, Champaign trio Headlights' debut full-length is toward the top of my list of excitement. There is absolutely no reason that Kill Them With Kindness shouldn't kill. The debut EP was stellar, the band has toured relentlessly - honing their talents - and the first song from the album is fantastic. Check out this (currently hidden) section of Polyvinyl's site or simply download the new track below.
Remember that there are four other songs on their MySpace and one I posted a month ago here.

Headlights' "TV"
from Kill Them With Kindness

you tried fixing it by taping it up.

Nearly two decades ago three pre-pubescent boys made friends and traveled the country with the five most important men in the world. The men were Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Jon, and Joe. The boys were Corey, Maurice, and Tyrone. You may know the former by their collective stage name, New Kids on the Block. But you are probably not familiar with the latter, Perfect Gentlemen. Their 1990 debut album Rated PG took the world* by storm.
If ever there were a band that I needn't describe and allow them to make you a fan with their music alone, it's Perfect Gentlemen. It's a few days too late for Mother's Day, but "Mama" may be the most well-conceived song throughout the history of man. Has a song ever been a breakdown so profound? And peep the uber-chic name-dropping on the title track.

*My sister's room and her younger brother's desperation to be as cool as she.

Perfect Gentlemen's "Ooh La La (I Can't Get Over You)"
"Move Me Groove Me"
"Rated PG"
from Rated PG

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

jesus sometimes makes a better door than a window.

Short post tonight, but in no way lacking in it's ability to musically blow you away. Here's the skinny. Memomena = Menomenamazing. Danny of Menomena = Lackthereof. Lackthereof = Lackthereoverwhelmingly amazing. Sigh. Puns = Difficult.
Lackthereof, a solo side-project of Menomena's Danny Seim is actually just the inverse. Seim had self-released five albums alone, before joining forces with his two comrades of Menomena (a side project for his solo work). He released Christian the Christian! through FILM guerrero, which has released Menomena's critically acclaimed debut I Am The Fun Blame Monster and modern dance soundtrack Under An Hour. Danny's Lackthereof website has several songs from his albums and is very easy to manage and understand. The same cannot be said for the still enjoyable Menomena site.
I recognize that I have failed to describe a lick of music here, but there're just no good ways to tell listeners what they're in for with either Menomena or Lackthereof. Best to just open up and say 'Awh-some!' G.D. Puns.

Lackthereof's "Let U Down As Good As I Did!"
& "Fear of Rapture"
from Christian the Christian!

Addendum #1: Scroll back up. Those websites are worth your time. As are both MySpace accounts: Mmmenomena & Lllackthereof.

Addendum #2: Islands show tomorrow night = Short post tomorrow, riddles with Swaaans excitement.

Addendum #3: Ashley owns every single one of you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

a car full of japanese gangsters.

I've danced around the inevitable for long enough. Today's Tuesday Spotlight is on one of my (if not absolute) favorite instrumental bands. Bands members came from the ashes of, or went on to play with, or reunited in such bands as Alligator Gun, Loomis, Tussin, Telecognac, Raccoons, Hatmelter New Rising Sons, Paris Texas, The Promise Ring, The Portable Quartet, and Collections of Colonies of Bees. Jon Mueller is one of the most inspired drummers of our time, from his minimalist solo work to his bombastic rhythms with today's Spotlight. Chris Rosenau's guitar-work is entrancing, enlightening, energetic, and a constant struggle to wrap your mind around, and Matt Tennessen's rolling, toppling bass rounds out the songs. The later addition of Jon Minor's electronic/laptop sounds topped off the sound perfectly. This is Pele.
It's been over eight years since the first Pele record, 1998's Teaching the History of Teaching Geography, and over four years since the last, 2002's Enemies. Elephant is considered their best work and bridges the gap between early and late Pele. While it was originally run as a limited release in 1999, Polyvinyl resurrected the album in 2003 before the band called it quits in 2004. While albums were released by Star Star Stereo Recordings and Polyvinyl Record Co., the label that is tied more closely with Pele is Crouton, founded by drummer Jon Mueller. Crouton has released about thirty editions and most are both extraordinarily uniquely packaged and extremely limited in quantity. The first Crouton release was Pele's Emergency Room Egg, remixes of the first album on CDR. Only two hundred were pressed. Jon Mueller and other members of Pele have been a part of a bulk of Crouton's releases, not to mention three Collection of Colonies of Bees releases. As evident, however, with the catalog of both Pele and CoCoB, these guys have done some of their best work together.
It's a treat to listen to the progression of this band, with each album and throughout time. With blips and bleeps present at the beginning and the end of Pele's five year tenure, use of acoustic guitars with Enemies (which was recorded entirely in a women's locker room), and Jon Mueller's refusal to relax for very long.
It's somewhat of an oddity for an instrumental band very gifted with time signature changes (see: Math Rock), tapping, and electronics to sound so accessible - playful, even. In fact, one of the only difficult things about Pele is not feeling light-hearted and energized after an album ends. Always a worthwhile soundtrack to whatever you're doing.
Don't tell, but I'm even including "Realize It" from the limited two track LP/CD of the same name. It's over eleven minutes long and represents Pele's effort to put to tape interpretations of their three-hour live sets. You can buy four of these releases from Polyvinyl and the rest on rare occasion on eBay. Why? Well, would you want to get rid of music this vital to your collection?

Pele's "A Car Full of Japanese Gangsters"
from Teaching the History of Teaching Geography

Pele's "Realize It"
from Realize It

Pele's "'Goal!'"
from People Living With Animals. Animals Kill People.

Pele's "Black Socks"
from The Nudes

Pele's "Hummingbirds Eat"
from Enemies

Pele's "Pickled Pear"
from Elephant

Monday, May 15, 2006

i'll level you with my whip.

Thank you thank you thank you for all the kind words and resurgence of energy for nooneisawake. All of that and three packages in the mail make me excited to update again. Bottoms of Barrels has arrived, but more importantly two ebay treasures have made their ways into my life. Two Longmont Potion Castle CD's are now essential members of my collection. You had better be familiar with LPC or I'm gonna take a tree branch to your lip. If for some reason you aren't already quoting Longmont with your friends, co-workers, etc. then you should take a small crash course. A crash course in ointment. Ointment sandwiches. You need Late-Eighties-Vein. Simple as that. I may make most or all of it available, depending on whether you fine folks are into this.

Longmont Potion Castle's "Rope"
"Frickey Weaver"
Dirk Funk"
"I Don't Have Any Brothers"

Now that we've got that out of our systems, I want to thank Michael. With the exceptions of Owls, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc, Cex, The Promise Ring, and a few other releases, I haven't necessarily trusted Jade Tree. But I have to admit that Snowden has turned my head and peaked my attention. I have to admit that I am looking forward to Anti-Anti, but more importantly have three new Christmas songs to listen to at invalid times. I hope I've mentioned my obsession with Christmas music. You should know that Snowden have opened for The Unicorns, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Xiu Xiu, and The Arcade Fire, but in reading a short background on the band, one word stuck out: Isolated. I get from the songs I've heard (which is rapidly and exponentially growing) that the four guys of Snowden are locked in a room in a tall building in a big city, isolated from the world, not rushed or adulterated in writing songs they thoroughly enjoy playing together. Again, thank you for turning me on to Snowden.
Here is the title track from the debut full-length, a link to the band's MySpace page with three more new songs, a link to their website with a downloadable EP, and the three Christmas songs that I'll be overplaying until a time that it would be logical to play them.

Snowden's "Anti-Anti"
from Anti-Anti

Snowden's Christmas Time Is Here"
"Happy Christmas (War Is Over)"
& "White Christmas"

It should be known that John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" is my favorite Christmas song to date, and every cover of it hold a special place in my heart.

It should also be known that The IO's don't merit all the comparisons to Stars that they've been receiving. Good. But not Stars good.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

feedback overload.

The following paragraph is personal and a downer, feel free to skip to the next for music...
I guess I can deny it all I want: there are many downfalls with the upkeep of an mp3 blog. Sometimes I wish I could have a love affair with one album. Listening to one CD for days are weeks is a pleasure I'm pressured out of in trying to explore new terrain. If I let myself spend more than a day away from this blog, I'll inevitably just give up, and I just don't want to do that. But then there's the idea that virtually no one cares. I appreciate to great lengths my three (to my knowledge) faithful readers, but it's just plain tedious to work forty hours a week, coming home every day to at least an hour and a half posting, and getting zero feedback. Sure, I can shamelessly plug the blog on MySpace (and I do) or on message boards, but if no one wakes up and tells more people if they like this site, then it will surely wear me out. This sounds like a guilt trip and it's rude. I thoroughly apologize. There are many perks to being involved in this, that I'll try to share when they have overwhelmed me. Unfortunately this Sunday post is overwhelmed with the other side.

The winner of Tuesday's Spotlight on
54º 40' or Fight! with a grand total of one vote and one secondary vote is a trio of friends (from grade school) that each contribute heavily to creating songs that fans of slow folk-dipped indie rock will love. Ticonderoga records and mixes their songs at home for an added warmth that shines through. 54º 40' or Fight!'s website advises that if you like Pavement, Tortoise, and/or Calexico, you'll probably enjoy Ticonderoga. Who am I but to agree? Ticonderoga's website has a few more gems for your ears. So, for the one of you who voted, and the one that "and also'ed" for Ticonderoga... Enjoy (and tell your friends anacquaintances).

Ticonderoga's "Sparrow"
from The Helig-Levine LP

Ticonderoga's "Kim & Kelly"
& "Arrowhead"
from Ticonderoga

Saturday, May 13, 2006

a child believes in grandma more than god.

Bob Massey is an under-appreciated songwriting genius. The clarity-driven mastermind of The Gena Rowlands Band penned a lush, slightly skewed paradigm of a debut album with last year's La Merde et Les Etoiles, which is French for "The Shit and the Stars." Originally intriguing due to a comparison to American Music Club, Nick Cave and Red House Painters, this album took me by surprise last year. Most of this album is comprised of the calibur of songs that are classic, instantly. They deserve numerous listens and have a seductive charm that place a gentle hand on the back of the listener's neck and lead them back home. The Gena Rowlands Band make rainy days events to look forward to. "Garofalo, C'est Moi" is one of the sweetest songs you've yet to hear, and as the album's opener, the perfect introduction.
The Gena Rowlands Band is comprised of at least three members, but plays with members of Anti-Social Music (including two contributors for Ida and one for Maritime). The two entities have solidified as a whole for this year's The Nitrate Hymnal, an opera of sorts inspired by Bob Massey's grandparents' home movies of their lives; from their honeymoon, flirting on the beach just weeks away from Pearl Harbor, through the years as their carefree youth and relationship faded away. Bob Massey said this of the new opus:
"In [The Nitrate Hymnal], our aged heroine finds her fading memories sparked by the old home movies. Each act takes her back in time toward that perfect honeymoon film - and forward to her moment of death. In January 2003, four singers and a brave orchestra of classical and post-punk musicians premiered the work in a Masonic temple lit by three giant projection screens."
The Nitrate Hymnal will whisk you away, fill your heart, and leave you breathless, and as you grow closer to Bob Massey and The Gena Rowlands Band, that should become less and less of a surprise. I can't do any more than point you in the direction of the band's website. Their 'story' is written too well for me to summarize. Bob Massey cannot remain under the radar.

The Gena Rowlands Band's "Garofalo, C'est Moi"
"Kong Meets His Maker (A Parable About Dating)"
& "Seceding From Our Union"
from La Merde et Les Etoiles

Anti-Social Music + The Gena Rowlands Band's "The End"
"Pictures From Her Perfect Life"
& "The Body Wants More Than Skin"
from The Nitrate Hymnal

Another coincidence: I purchased Home Movies: Season Four today.

i'll never return to this sad place again.

I have found one of the most unique and coolest artist sites these eyes have seen and fingers have scrolled. Domotic is confounding minds with his confection of computer-generated pop. He's Stephen Laporte. He's from Paris and maybe his sound isn't unparalleled in France, but it certainly stands alone (or in a small, tightly-knit group) in these here United States of Oil Consumption.
Now, although it wouldn't be too difficult for you to find Domotic's MySpace, I'm not even going to bother linking you there. Just spend the next hour and a half at Sure, I've already extracted two of the best surprises in the hodge-podge of multimedia, but there's so much more for you to discover on your own. It'll be enough to hook you; beat, scratch, and sample. Please don't let the webmaster's yawning and throat-clearing get to you, or you'll miss the grin-causing videos. Hell, if he's bugging you, just ask him for advice. He'll take the stress out of digging (like you'll want that). Now, once you've seen or heard most of the audio tapes, mini videos, and photography, find the tape with a large "74" in the upper right-hand corner. Find this tape last, play the twenty-one minute melange of glorious music and samples called "Stupid Vynil Collection." Play it, open up a new tab (you ARE using Firefox by now, aren't you?) and go about your inter-business.
Ladies and gentlemen... Domotic.

Domotic's "I Hate You Forever"
& "Captain Forest's Word of Advice"
from Ask For Tiger

Domotic's "These Days" (Nico)
& "Christmas For Berry" (Wham!)

What a day for France and me. I bought Jean-Pierre Juenet's (Amelie) Delicatessen on DVD. A post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about cannibalism with Juenet's touch? Magnificent.