Thursday, May 24, 2007

Elk City - New Believers

After her band’s original line-up dissolved with the departure of her main singing partner, Peter Langland-Hassan, Elk City frontwoman Renee LoBue wrote an album’s worth of material and turned to producer/percussionist Ray Ketchem for assistance. The reshuffling seems to have done the band some good, and with new recruits such as psych folk troubadour Brother JT on guitar and backing vocals, Elk City have made their best album to date. LoBue’s unique songwriting voice makes ‘New Believers’ a moving rendering of naked emotion without the usual cloying indie tricks of emo overindulgence or ironic detachment. Ketchem’s deft production, with its warm guitars, simple beats, and ear-candy swells, keeps the focus where it should be: on LoBue’s powerful pipes.

1. Cherries In The Snow
2. Little Brother
3. Silver Lawyers
4. Los Cruzados
5. White Walls
6. Totally Free
7. You Got Me
8. My Type Of Criminal
9. Melody
10. Nighttime
11. Magic Door

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Julie Doiron - Woke Myself Up

Julie Doiron has returned in 2007 with her first solo record in nearly three years. ‘Woke Myself Up’ is an unofficial reunion of her 1990s dream pop band Eric’s Trip, with all the members of that long-since defunct band regrouping to back Doiron’s delicate and warm-hearted tunes. Doiron has grown into a compelling indie-folk songwriter, with haunting minor-key tunes that mesh perfectly with the confessional, poetic lyrics of songs like the yearning title track. Although this is a gentle album on the surface, the chaotic emotions of Doiron’s compelling songs are soon enough revealed.

1. I Woke Myself Up
2. You Look So Alive
3. Swan Pond
4. Yer Kids
5. I Left Town
6. No More
7. Don’t Wanna Be Liked By You
8. Dark Horse
9. Wrong Guy, The
10. Me And My Friend

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The Zincs - Black Pompadour

Though a Chicago resident, the Zinc’s frontman Jim Elkington hails from England. And his band’s sound on its debut, ‘Dimmer’, fits nicely between Morrissey and Belle and Sebastian on the Anglo meter, yet somehow the Zincs were able to dust off the proceedings with sly hints of Chicago Americana. ‘Black Pompadour’, the band’s second collection, contains similar allusions to Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company, but ups the ante with dazzling electric guitar interplay that toughens the sound and recalls a young Johnny Marr.

1. Head East, Kaspar
2. Coward’s Corral
3. Hamstrung And Juvenile
4. Rice Scars
5. Mogul’s Wives, The
6. Finished In This Business
7. Burdensome Son
8. Lost Solid Colours
9. Dave The Slave
10. Rich Libertines

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Page France - …And The Family Telephone

On its third full-length studio outing, the Baltimore-based ensemble Page France offers up another accomplished set of indie-pop. Like the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, frontman Michael Nau sings in a reedy voice, and, like Sufjan Stevens, he gilds his oddly ornate songs with plenty of bells and whistles. The band’s good-natured, whimsical aesthetic is evident throughout 2007’s ‘…And The Family Telephone’, particularly on the jaunty “Rooster and Its Crow” and the chiming “Hat and Rabbit,” which sounds like the Danielson Famile on a Velvet Underground kick.

1. Ruby Ring Man, The
2. Wet Dog Afternoon
3. Me Violin And Dancing Bear
4. Be My Pianist
5. Pigeons
6. Hat And Rabbit
7. Belly To The Sea, A
8. Belly In The Fish, The
9. Rooster And Its Crow
10. Joker’s Joke, The
11. Here’s A Telephone
12. Beggar’s Table Legs
13. Circus Head (Nobody Knows)
14. Casting Day

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Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

While Wilco’s fifth studio album, ‘A Ghost Is Born’, didn’t come equipped with quite the same artsy, experimental flourishes as the album’s infamous predecessor, ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’, it made officially clear that the band’s days in the world of alt-country had long since passed. 2007’s ‘Sky Blue Sky’ finds the band not so much in a holding pattern, but rather a state of artistic contentment. The album moves one step further away from Jim O’Rourke’s atmospheric production style, and finds a pleasant mid-tempo groove that reminds one of ‘Pretzel Logic’-era Steely Dan, mid-period Dylan, and even certain elements of John Lennon’s solo work. Of course this is still Jeff Tweedy’s band, which means ‘Sky Blue Sky’ never strays too far from what has emerged as a basic Wilco template. The constantly shifting Chicago ensemble (in its umpteenth incarnation by the album’s release) still displays an instrumental precision and studio professionalism while working within a newfangled roots template, and Tweedy himself remains as searching as always, both lyrically and musically. With nary a rave-up in sight, the album could be criticized for being overly serene, but in a career marked by nearly constant tumult and controversy, it’s more appropriate to see this as Jeff Tweedy’s much needed and well-earned rest.

1. Either Way
2. You Are My Face
3. Impossible Germany
4. Sky Blue Sky
5. Side With The Seeds
6. Shake It Off
7. Please Be Patient With Me
8. Hate It Here
9. Leave Me (Like You Found Me)
10. Walken
11. What Light
12. On And On And On

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Arctic Monkeys - 505 (Live Jools 2007-05-04)

The Comas - Spells

On 2007’s ‘Spells’, the Comas offer up a dynamic set of songs that bristle with inventiveness and energy. Founded in North Carolina, the New York City-based band excels at edgy, guitar-driven tunes that make unpredictable turns (see the catchy-yet-quirky “Red Microphones”) and sometimes feature unexpectedly prominent keyboard lines (the urgent “Come My Sunshine”). Boasting a restless sound that is difficult to pigeonhole, ‘Spells’ is one of ’07’s most notable indie-rock surprises.

1. Red Microphones
2. Hannah T.
3. Now I’m A Spider
4. Come My Sunshine
5. Stoneded
6. Light The Pad
7. Sarah T.
8. Thistledown
9. New Wolf
10. After The Afterglow

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s third album, ‘Howl’, was a near-total reinvention of the Los Angeles-based trio’s sound, introducing previously unknown folk and country influences. Although the experiment was artistically successful, the band completely abandoned it on their fourth album, ‘Baby 81′, in favor of a return to their original, far more aggressive sound as heard on their self-titled debut and second album (’Take Them On, On Your Own’). ‘Baby 81′ reiterates all of BRMC’s original influences, primarily the Jesus and Mary Chain’s mix of ear-piercing feedback and pop hooks and My Bloody Valentine’s love of massed guitar drones for their own sake. These combine with co-leaders Peter Hayes and Robert Turner’s familiar vocal style on songs as diverse as the poppy first single, “Weapon of Choice,” and the Sonic Youth style nine-minute noise-rock epic, “American X.” Other highlights include the strutting opening track, “Took Out a Loan,” and the Stooges-like sleaze of “Berlin.”

1. Took Out a Loan
2. Berlin
3. Weapon Of Choice
4. Windows
5. Cold Wind
6. Not What You Wanted
7. 666 Conducer
8. All You Do Is Talk
9. Lien On Your Dreams
10. Need Some Air
11. Killing the Light
12. American X
13. Am I Only

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Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara

On their first two albums, the Toronto-based outfit Great Lake Swimmers offered up drowsy, spectral indie rock reminiscent of Low, Codeine, and Red House Painters. The band’s third effort, ‘Ongiara’, doesn’t deviate from the formula, but Tony Dekker’s fine songs and singing still shine through the lovely, dreamy mist of guitars, especially on “Backstage with the Modern Dancers” and the album’s closer “I Became Awake.” Those who like their slowcore with a dose of pastoral color will find the sonic landscapes of ‘Ongiara’ enchanting.

1. Your Rocky Spine
2. Backstage With The Modern Dancers
3. Catcher Song
4. Changing Colours
5. There Is A Light
6. Put There By The Land
7. I Am Part Of A Large Family
8. Where In The World Are You
9. Passenger Song
10. I Became Awake

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Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls

‘No Shouts, No Calls’ is alive with Electrelane’s signature impassioned organ melodies, primal drum beats, rhythmic bass and weaving guitar riffs, but there’s an underlying softness present. Where the last album ‘Axes’ offered edge and experimentation and ‘The Power Out’ before it being Electrelane’s first vocal offering, ‘No Shouts, No Calls’ is a collection of eleven, strong, infectious and individual songs. There’s a psychedelic tinge at times, a bit of motorik at others, but sheer beauty of sound comes to the fore, as on the lovely “In Berlin,” complete with ravishing vocal harmonies. Each track stands in isolation, both exciting and powerful; while collectively they fit and flow together as Electrelane’s most diverse and accessible album to date.

1. Greater Times, The
2. To The East
3. After The Call
4. Tram 21
5. In Berlin
6. At Sea
7. Between The Wolf And The Dog
8. Saturday
9. Five
10. Cut And Run
11. Lighthouse, The

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Do Make Say Think - You, You’re A History In Rust

On the fifth release from Toronto’s Do Make Say Think, ‘You, You’re a History in Rust’, the post rock pioneers have created perhaps their most cohesive and satisfying record yet. A jumble of genres, from Four Tet-ish folktronica to crescendo-building post-rock to melodic indie rock (there are vocals on this one), this record has a beautiful flow to it and never sounds cluttered. And while other post rock outfits have been guilty at times of meandering and pointless virtuosity, Do Make Say Think is a remarkably tight band, one obviously inspired by its environs (the band has been known to record in barns and the like) to make music that’s as poignant as it is powerful. They know when to shift gears, when to pull back, and when to turn things up a notch, making ‘You, You’re a History in Rust’ a true album of peaks and valleys best absorbed as a whole.

1. Bound To Be That Way
2. With Living, A
3. Universe!, The
4. Tender History In Rust, A
5. Her Story Of Glory
6. You, You’re Awesome
7. Executioner Blues
8. In Mind

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jana Hunter - There’s No Home

Jana Hunter’s 2005 debut, ‘Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom’, is akin to Elliott Smith’s Roman Candle: ghostly, engaging tales of death and anxiety. Her latest finds the paranoia sliding away slightly. Recorded at a home in Houston with accompaniment from brother John on bass and drummer John Adams of Fatal Flying Guilloteens, the 15 songs eye home longingly, kicking up a folkier dust. Last summer’s sailboat tour with Peter & the Wolf was no doubt an influence, nomadicism as a lifestyle weaved throughout, from the procession of misplaced opener “Palms” to the awkward trot of “Babies.” Thankfully, Hunter still takes a witching stance: “Valkyries” and “Vultures” cast tales of mythical birds and hangings, “Regardless” mirrors Elliott Smith tethered with lap steel, and “Recess” is pure sunburned narcotic. On the closing title track, one finally gets to hear Hunter’s vocal range and her feeling comfortable in her skin.

1. Palms
2. Babies
3. Valkyries
4. Vultures
5. Movies
6. (Guitar)
7. Regardless
8. Bird
9. Pinnacle
10. (Guitar)
11. Oracle
12. Recess
13. Sirens
14. Sleep
15. There’s No Home

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Benjy Ferree - Leaving The Nest

The Washington, DC singer songwriter Benjy Ferree’s debut album has a DIY sound that’s often stunningly pretty. He augments his small combo songs with strings and an off-key piano, but unlike many other lo-fi indie artists he remembers to include hooks, and has a natural ear for harmony. An unsettling darkness lurks beneath the surface of many of his songs–”Private Honeymoon” is a gorgeous love song that may or may not be sung by a stalker, the sylvan “Why Bother,” with its pure, woodland sprite backing vocals, features a narrator being stalked by people wearing hoods, and the bouncy optimism of “Hollywood Sign” is undercut by a singer who may just be planning to jump off the Los Angeles landmark.

1. In The Countryside
2. Dog Killers!
3. Little At A Time
4. The Desert
5. Private Honeymoon
6. Leaving The Nest (It’s A Long Way Down)
7. Hollywood Sign
8. They Were Here
9. Why Bother
10. In The Woods

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Wooden Stars - People Are Different

With close male/female harmonies over peppy, straightforward tunes, Ottawa’s the Wooden Stars mine a familiar indie-pop territory, hearkening back to bands like the Blake Babies and Glass Eye. Their originality shines through when they bust out with the nakedly emotional stuff, like the pretty waltz “The Last Secret Infirmary” and the cathartic “Blackouts.” The song “Microphones” is another stand-out, combining post-rock angularity with a pure pop chorus.

1. Orphans
2. Pretty Girl
3. Blackouts
4. Microphone
5. Gold Dust
6. Boating Accident
7. Last Secret Infirmary
8. Clouds

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Book Of Knots - Traineater

On ‘Traineater’, the Book of Knots’ sophomore effort, the Brooklyn avant supergroup (Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu, Carla Kihlstedt of Tin Hat Trio, producer/engineer/guitarist Joel Hamilton and Matthias Bossi of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) crafts a soundscape conceptually based on the decaying of the Rust Belt. Mining a sound somewhere between Tom Waits and Sonic Youth, the quartet layers metallic shards and plucked strings over bracing percussion clips and samples to create something akin to post-industrial Americana. Always interesting, and at times quite beautiful, ‘Traineater’ also includes cameos from indie stars such as Mike Watt and Jon Langford. Simply put, this is fascinating music from a heavy, beautiful, dark, slow, melancholy collective.

1. View From The Watertower
2. Hands Of Production
3. Traineater
4. Pray
5. Pedro To Cleveland
6. Red Apple Boy
7. Where’d Mom Go?
8. Ballad Of John Henry, The
9. Midnight 10. Boomtown
11. Salina
12. Third Generation Pink Slip
13. Hewitt-Smithson
14. Walker Percy Evans High School

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Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worse Nightmare

On 2007’s ‘Favourite Worse Nightmare’, Arctic Monkeys follow up their excessively hyped and undeniably catchy debut with another round of fiery post-punk-influenced tunes. Given the Sheffield, England quartet’s newfound status as full-blown rock stars in their homeland, they wisely avoid the working-class-bloke-isms that rang true on their first album, and instead opt for a broader lyrical scope and a significantly weightier approach. The Monkeys’ Mark II aesthetic is best embodied by the lead single “Brianstorm,” a pounding track (about a friend, hence the misspelling) that kicks off the outing with rapid-fire guitar riffs and pummeling percussion. ‘Favourite Worse Nightmare’ also finds the band looking good on the dancefloor with songs such as “Teddy Picker” and “D Is for Dangerous,” which combine inescapably funky rhythms with frontman Alex Turner’s raspy howl. To his credit, Turner turns his Yorkshire-accented voice into a comforting croon on the surprisingly atmospheric “Only Ones Who Know,” imbuing the record with the dynamism that was somewhat lacking on their debut. A sure sign that the Monkeys aren’t fading away after their big bang, ‘Favourite Worse Nightmare’ is the sound of a tough young band playing for keeps.

1. Brianstorm
2. Teddy Picker
3. D Is For Dangerous
4. Balaclava
5. Fluorescent Adolescent
6. Only Ones Who Know
7. Do Me A Favour
8. This House Is A Circus
9. If You Were There, Beware
10. Bad Thing, The
11. Old Yellow Bricks
12. 505

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Mouse On Mars - Varcharz

This 2006 release finds Mouse on Mars in a typically playful mood, but with perhaps a more frantic and harder edge than fans have come to expect. The beats here are aggressive, with abrasive layers of sound that build in intensity. The duo pays noisy respects to their Krautrock forebears on “Duul” and the Kraftwerk-esque “Retphase,” and they hypnotize with the thwack-thump electronica of “Inocular.” As un-bubbly as ‘Varcharz’ may be, it is inspiring to witness an act still growing and poking at the edges 10 albums into their career.

1. Chartnok
2. Igoegowhygowego
3. Duul (U With Two Dots)
4. Inocular
5. Skik
6. Hi Fienilin
7. Bertney
8. Retphase
9. One Day, Not Today

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Mugison - Little Trip

Mugison is Iceland’s one-man-band answer to Beck, an endlessly inventive performer who crams cool funk, music box balladry, and sound innovation into a suitcase filled with electronic sampling and studio gear. Creating loops in real-time, Mugison fills ‘Little Trip’ with a sardonically dark mood as he rolls across several varieties of pop music, absorbing all that fits his sound and discarding the rest. A fire burns in the heart of his work, no matter how chilly the surroundings may seem.

1. Petur Gretarsson
2. Go Blind
3. Little Trip To Heaven
4. Watchdog
5. Mugicone
6. Piano For Tombstones
7. Clip 10
8. Alone In A Hotel
9. Rush
10. Petur Por Ben
11. Watchcat
12. My Nobel Prize
13. Alone In The Office
14. Mugicone Part 2
15. Stiff
16. Sammi & Kjartan

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The Puppini Sisters - Betcha Bottom Dollar

Every now and then something comes along that causes a massive “why on Earth didn’t I think of that?” reaction. Something that is original and quirky and fills a gaping void and that appeals to just about everyone. Dressed with 1940’s glamour, The Puppini Sisters are that something, as they perform tongue-in-cheek classics in three-part harmony. ‘Betcha Bottom Dollar’ offers swing-style backdates of contemporary pop songs, such as their Italian wedding reading of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and a slinky version of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” Also featured are 1940s and ’50s pop classics, including their a cappella take of “In the Mood” and the Andrews Sisters’ own “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.” With their unique blend of retro style, pop kitsch, and crisp vocals, The Puppini Sisters give infectious, fun music that everyone needs now and again.

1. Sisters
2. Mr. Sandman
3. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (From Company B)
4. Java Jive
5. Bei Mr Bist Du Schon
6. Wuthering Heights
7. Jeepers Creepers
8. I Will Survive
9. Tu Ouo Fa L’Americano
10. Heart Of Glass
11. Falling In Love Again
12. Heart Of Glass
13. Sway
14. Panic
15. Heebie Jeebies
16. In The Mood

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country

Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Camera Obscura formed in 1996, when Tracyanne Campbell (vocals), John Henderson (percussion, vocals), Gavin Dunbar (bass), and guitarist David started playing together. They went on to release a number of singles, one of them including the contribution of Richard Colburn, Belle & Sebastian's drummer. Three years after the band's first releases, Lee Thompson joined the band as a permanent drummer while David abandoned the crew, and was later replaced by Kenny McKeeve. Keyboardist Lindsay Boyd joined the band not long afterward, defining the band as a six-piece. In 2002, after being referred as one of the promising bands of the year 2001 on John Peel's playlist, Camera Obscura presented their first full-length, Biggest Bluest Hi-fi, through the AndMoreSound Records catalog, with production help from Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch. Trumpeter and percussionist Nigel Baile joined the band soon afterward, swelling their ranks to seven. The group's next effort, the luminescent Underachievers Please Try Harder, was released by Spanish label Elefant in 2003 and by American indie rock stalwart Merge in 2004. (Merge also reissued Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi in 2004.) For the band's third John Peel session in early 2004, they were asked to put music to the words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, a task the band enjoyed so much they ended up recording studio versions of two of the songs: "I Love My Jean" and "Red, Red Rose." After touring the world and reaping critical success, the band returned to Scotland and suffered two losses — the death of Peel, one of their biggest supporters, and the defection of John Henderson. The band released the I Love My Jean single as a tribute to Peel in early 2005 and decamped as a six-piece to Sweden to record with noted producer Jari Haapalainen. The resulting album, Let's Get Out of This Country, was released in June of 2006 on Merge and Elefant.

Track List

1. Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
2. Tears For Affairs
3. Come Back Margaret
4. Dory Previn
5. False Contender
6. Let's Get Out Of This Country
7. Country Mile
8. If Looks Could Kill
9. I Need All The Friends I Can Get
10. Razzle Dazzle Rose

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Bu Ben Miyim?
Us Kids Know
alçak BASınç
Pop Songs Ltd.
Modern Music
Bozuk Kaset
Papara Dergi
Rock In Stroll
Suet Kafa
colors of myself
The Modern Way
Emre T.