Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Was Afraid I'd Eat Your Brains

Ahoy. It took me a good five months to really get into Boxer, The National's excellent 2007 album, so I have been making a conscious effort over the past week or so to get those requisite first listens of their new album, High Violet, out of the way. Sure enough, upon first listen nothing really struck me, with the exception of maybe the calculated (but still really good) bombast of Bloodbuzz Ohio, which I had already heard. I didn't hear a Mistaken For Strangers, an Apartment Story, or a Slow Show - and surely no Start A War (one of the best songs of the last decade). No song begged to be immediately repeated. 

With my expectations appropriately adjusted, the second listen proved to be illuminating. The songs on High Violet take a little more time to develop, but the hooks and genius lyrical turns are still there. Two songs in particular recently jumped out at me - the first one being the closer, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks:

I absolutely love songs with two levels of choruses - and this one's got three (as I see it, anyways). I think the format goes like this: 

Chorus ("Vanderlyle Crybaby Cry")
Surprise Second Chorus ("I'll Explain Everything to the Geeks")
Surprise Third Chorus ("All The Very Best of Us...")
Second Chorus
Third Chorus
Second Chorus (extended)

Now I'm no math expert, but that there is a solid 4:1 chorus-to-verse ratio. No wonder it's such a great tune, especially as an album closer.

Another song, Conversation 16, jumped out at me today when I was listening to the album at work. The song starts out innocuously enough, until the zombie part:

All in all, I am confident High Violet will reveal itself over time as a solid entry into The National's discography, although I don't see it topping Boxer. Check back with me in five months though.

Download Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks and Conversation 16 here. And tell me what you think.


I heard the first 4 songs on The New Pornographers' new release Together - sounds really good and will be tackling that one soon, maybe when the temperature stops dipping below 40 degrees at night.

I also need to give Woods' At Echo Lake a proper listen soon, as well as Blitzen Trapper's new one. So many good releases this spring!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wind is Blowing in Your Face


Ahoy. My friend Cameron used to be in a great band called The Neins Circa. He wrote one of my favorite songs ever written (Flo), a song which I was lucky enough to see performed live at The Railway Club in Vancouver back in 2005. His new musical project, Pineapple, delivers even more gems. Cameron sent me a bunch of Pineapple mp3's last month, and this track, Harvey, immediately jumped out and caught my attention: 

To be honest, I dismissed it as just a goof song at first, but I found myself humming the chorus the next day. Since then, I've listened to this song more times than any other song this year. So many hooks! And whistling! I also got a kick out of this song, New York City:  


I laugh every time the I hear the synth hits. Not because they are funny but because they are perfect and completely unexpected upon first listen.

If you want to support a great artist, I urge you to email Cameron (anicehotbath @ hotmail . com) and ask him for a CD. If you're not convinced yet, download Harvey and New York City here and listen to them a couple dozen times. There's more where that came from.

- - - - - - - - - - - 

In other news, I found out that Woods' At Echo Lake was released today on iTunes. Hooray!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Numbers Make No Difference

Ahoy. May is a beast of a record-releasing month. The National, The Hold Steady, The New Pornographers, and tons of others all have new albums coming out. But the release I am most excited for is Woods' At Echo Lake. Last year's Songs of Shames was one of my favs of '09, but I really fell for Woods after hearing their Daytrotter session (esp. Suffering Season), an acoustic performance they recorded for a French radio station (best song!), and their incredible live show.

Blood Dries Darker is the opening track on the record and reminds me in the best possible way of To Clean, the opening track on Songs of Shame. This one thankfully lasts a little bit longer, and they really nail it on the chorus. Hear! 

I'm also excited to see that 3 songs from their Daytrotter session will be on At Echo Lake, although I really wish Twisted Tongue would've made the cut, since it's in my head almost constantly. Seriously. Here's another track, Get Back, that I liked about 10 times as much the second time I heard it, mainly because of what the drummer (I assume) says after the song is done. I've been there...


Be sure to pick up the new LP when it's released May 11. Woodsist is one of the best labels out there. They need our support.

Until then, you can download the tracks here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Clean Shave in the April Morning

Ahoy. Just posted a new mix on 8tracks. 

1. T. Rex - Mambo Sun - I've been on a huge T. Rex kick lately. Just got Tanx from a coworker last week, but Electric Warrior is still my go-to album. This is one of the best album openers of all time. 
2. Harlem - Friendly Ghost - a song off their new album, Hippies, which was just release a few weeks ago. Such a fun tune.
3. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round and Round - a song off lo-fi pioneer Ariel Pink's album Before Today, to be released in June. You might need to give this one a couple of listens before it clicks. Glad to see him getting more recognition these days.
4. Twin Sister - Phenomenons - see previous post.
5. Casiokids - Finn Bikkjen! - a song from the Norwegian band's May release Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar. And no, they're not singing in English. 
6. Alec Ounsworth - Over and Over - a great stripped down version of a tune from CYHSY's s/t debut, which was released 5 years ago this spring. Wow, seems like only yesterday.
7. So Many Wizards - Nico - a song by a promising LA band I need to learn more about.
8. Woods - Suffering Season - excellent Daytrotter version of a song that will appear on their upcoming LP At Echo Lake.

You can download 4 of the songs here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

All Around & Away We Go

I've been listening to Twin Sister's Color Your Life almost exclusively over the past week or so.  It's a dreamy and sometimes spooky masterpiece that grows more intriguing with each listen. The vocals have a nice Nico quality and float above a solid foundation provided by the rhythm section. Opener The Other Side of Your Face is allowed to stretch out to 7+ minutes, and not a second is wasted.  Over the next 5 songs, Twin Sister visits more pop landscapes, always keeping their sound slightly off-kilter. The track that hooked me in the first place is All Around and Away We Go. It's really apparent within the first ten seconds how great the song is going to be. Check it out:

Lately Phenomenons has really been doing if for me as well. That's the great thing about Color Your Life - each song will hit you in a different way at a different time, and it's a great feeling when you put it all together. 

The entire 6-song EP is available for free download on their website or here. Consider picking up a copy on vinyl when it's released on May 25.