Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh, to Have a Home to Go to...

M. Ward
My sincerest apologies for the lack of posts for the past week or so. I have been, well, homeless. Thank god for friends with couches, am I right?

I seem to have found a resting place for the time being, though, so hopefully I won't be leaving you like that again any time soon.

I haven't come across a ton of great new music lately, but there are a few things I would like to share.

I have, in my possession, M. Ward's upcoming single, To Go Home, from his 06 album, Post-War. As long as you haven't been living under a rock (or maybe you haven't had a home...), you've probably heard Ward's cover of Daniel Johnston's To Go Home. What a great track. I would have picked Chinese Translation for my first single, but To Go Home is cool, too.

Daniel Johnston- To Go Home



As usual, I have fallen in love with a couple of the b-sides...

M. Ward- Cosmopolitan Pap
M. Ward- Headed for a Fall

Headed for a Fall is a Jimmie Dale Gilmore cover, and features Jim James, Neko Case, and guitarist Nels Cline. It seems to be moving up on my list of favorite M. Ward songs.

Also worth noting is M. Ward's appearance on the latest Bright Eyes EP, Four Winds.



Ward appears on the third track, Smoke Without Fire. Trost put me onto this track. I'm not a huge Bright Eyes fan, but I'm digging it.

Bright Eyes- Smoke Without Fire


The M. Ward To Go Home single will release February 20th on Merge Records, and the Bright Eyes Four Winds EP will release March 6th on Saddle Creek.

One final note... Props to Trost for the layout. He's got our humble little site lookin all fresh and whatnot. Also for checking up on me while I was scrambling for a place to stay.

That's all for today.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Andrew Bird Has Made My Day


I mentioned Andrew Bird a week or two ago when talking about the Bowerbirds. What I didn't tell you is that Andrew Bird's last proper album, The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005), has probably become one of my most played albums of all time. There's just something about that album...

Last year Bird released "Fingerlings 3," the third in a series of (mostly) live albums (appropriately preceded by, you guessed it, Fingerlings 1 & 2)



Fingerlings 3 provided a first look at two of the tracks ("Dark Matter" and "Scythian Empire") from Bird's scheduled March 20, 2007 release "Armchair Apocrypha." The live album was enough to tide me over, like a mid-morning snack, but lunch has finally arrived; this afternoon I received an advance copy of Armchair Apocrypha.



Bird is one of the most talented musicians around right now. He isn't going to make any bad music... End of story. The real question for me is will this album hit me the way his last did? Only time will tell, but at the moment I am really, really liking it.

From Armchair Apocrypha:

Andrew Bird- Heretics

Andrew Bird- Spare-Ohs

From Fingerlings 3:

Andrew Bird- Dark Matter (Live)

Just for fun, a live version of my favorite track from The Mysterious Production of Eggs, from Fingerlings 2 (2004):

Andrew Bird- Master Fade (Live)


Enjoy.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Besnard Lakes


Three weeks in, and already I think I have found what will probably be two of my top 5 albums of 2007. It's going to be hard for anyone to eclipse Arbouretum and The Besnard Lakes this year.

The Besnard Lakes have been around for a while. In 2003 they released "Volume 1." It's definitely worth a listen, but at times it seems a bit too loose and unfocused; kind of rough around the edges. There's a lot of promise, though, buried under the layers of fuzz and distortion.



This year, February 20th to be exact, The Besnard Lakes will release their second album (first on Jagjaguwar), titled "The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse."



I am in love.

They remind me of some of my favorite bands; flashes of Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Two more relevant comparisons that I have seen made are Pink Floyd and Brian Wilson.

Check out a couple tracks from their upcoming album...

The Besnard Lakes- And You Lied to Me
The Besnard Lakes- Rides the Rails

And just for fun... From Volume 1:

The Besnard Lakes- For Spy Turned Musician


Everyone should support this band.

Buy their new album.

Go to their shows.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Camera Obscura B-Sides



Up until last week I had never really been a fan of Camera Obscura. Funny that my opinion of the band would be swayed by a b-side to one of their singles.

Obscura's single, "If Looks Could Kill," will release officially on January 23rd in the US, and January 29th in the UK and Europe.

"If Looks Could Kill" is a good track. The band struck gold, though, with the first b-side, "Hands Up Baby," a duet between Tracyanne Campbell and Kenny McKeeve.

Camera Obscura- Hands Up Baby


"Now I could end this here/die and take you with me dear/it could be so easy"

"I don't care what you do/I'll still be rid of you/Just make your mind up baby"


Definitely one of my favorite tracks of 07 so far. To be honest, I'm also digging the third track that comes along with the single, "Alaska."

Camera Obscura- Alaska

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Some Loud What?



I had a scary moment a couple days ago. I put on my newly acquired copy of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's "Some Loud Thunder," their highly anticipated follow up to the wildly successful self-titled 2005 debut. I posted up a track about a week ago, proclaiming everything that had leaked from the album at that point to be brilliant.

Back to the scary moment...

If you're reading this, you probably have already heard the first track from the album... The track titled "Some Loud Thunder." Well, when it came on, I thought my JBL's that have treated me so well over the years had blown out.

Then the second track, "Emily Jean Stock," came on.

What the fuck?

I was hoping that I just had a bad copy or something, but alas, the track is up on the band's myspace, and it sounds exactly the same.

Who told them that this was a good idea? It makes an otherwise awesome track nearly unlistenable. I like bands trying to be progressive, innovative, and revolutionary, but this was a serious misstep. Don't let anyone, inevitable ridiculous pitchfork review included, tell you otherwise.

Remember that post we had about good production making the Band of Horses album come alive? (Now you do...) Well, production can have the opposite effect as well.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Some Loud Thunder (Live)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Some Loud Thunder (Album Version)

The live version is directly from the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Architecture in Helsinki, and Takka Takka 2006 Tour EP (Limited to 1,500 copies). The live version shows so much promise. It's a great song; well written and catchy. I think that, with the right production, Some Loud Thunder could have been one of my favorite tracks of 07.

Oh well, the rest of the album seems to be good enough to overlook the first track (I think I said the same thing when their first album came out...)

Here's a little something extra you might enjoy:

Architecture in Helsinki- It's 5! (Live)
Takka Takka- They Built You Up Too Fast (Live)

Both from the 2006 tour EP that I mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Guillemots B-Sides



Yesterday Guillemots released a new version of "Annie, Let's Not Wait" as their newest single. I got my hands on it last week, but didn't give it a listen until just a couple days ago. The new version of Annie, to put it bluntly, kicks the shit out of the album version. They ditch the synth, add in some backing vocals, and the song comes alive. Suddenly it has a soul.

Guillemots- Annie, Let's Not Wait (Single Version)

The second track on the single is a demo called "Photograph." It's a slower track, in the vein of "Redwings" from Through the Windowpane. Even if a bit cliche, Fyfe Dangerfield sounds sincere when he laments "Oh, make me smile/I used to make you laugh/but then I used to look at you, and not this photograph."

Guillemots- Photograph (Demo)

The single concludes with a cover of Franz Ferdinand's 2004 single "Take Me Out." I'll pass. It's not a bad cover or anything; I really just can't listen to the song anymore.

The first two tracks are good enough to warrant buying the single.

Monday, January 15, 2007

What's New... To Us

I'll admit it, despite being a consummate indie music nerd, I find myself catching a lot of great new music well after it has released or leaked. It may not be new to you; it's new to me, and I'm a generous person...



I honestly cannot remember how or when I heard about the Baltimore band Arbouretum . I somehow recently ended up with an advance copy of their newest album, Rites of Uncovering, which will officially release January 23 on Thrill Jockey. I'm really digging it; it might be the best 07 album I've heard so far. The first comparison that comes to mind is Comets on Fire's latest album, but I'm hearing influences dating back as far as Cream, Blue Cheer, and King Crimson (Three bands that, thanks to my dad, I was raised on)

Arbouretum- Signposts and Instruments



I have to give Trost credit for introducing me to the Bowerbirds . He showed me their self-released EP, Danger At Sea, last week, and I fell in love with it immediately. The first thing I was struck by was Phil Moore's voice, which is eerily similar to that of Andrew Bird. There's really only one misstep on the EP. The fifth track, "La DenigraciĆ³n," isn't that great. I'm pretty sure "La DenigraciĆ³n" is Spanish for "would have been great without the accordion." Something like that anyways...

Danger At Sea was released in August of 06. I would suggest that everyone go to the band's website and purchase the album.

The Bowerbirds- My Oldest Memory



The Ruby Suns self-titled debut, out on Lil' Chief Records, has been around for a while overseas (since some time in 05), but it released in the US through Rough Trade in 06. I'm actually kind of embarrassed to admit that I heard it for the first time no more than 3 weeks ago, when it released in the US way back on April 12. Southern California product Ryan McPhun is apparently the driving force behind the New Zealand-based band that has received comparisons to bands like the Beach Boys and the Flaming Lips. To me they sound a bit like Tripping Daisy. To be honest, I'm not really digging the album as a whole that much, but there are a few standout tracks... A few flashes of brilliance.

The Ruby Suns- Trepidation Part Two



I found Austin, Texas band Tacks, the Boy Disaster through Midlake on... um... myspace. What a pleasant surprise this band turned out to be. After a couple of listens to the songs on their myspace page I went and located a copy of their first release, the 7 track EP entitled "Oh, Beatrice." I want to make a comparison for you, but I really can't. I've heard people compare them to the Beatles and the Beach Boys, but I really don't hear either. The band is currently touring with fellow Texans, Midlake. I've also read that Tacks have completed recording for their first full length LP. I haven't seen a scheduled release date anywhere, though.

Tacks, the Boy Disaster- Forget-Me-Not


That's all for now, enjoy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What's New?

I've come across some quality new music this week. Everyone's looking forward to albums like Neon Bible and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, but most of the time it's the releases that catch you by surprise that end up being the best.



The Ponys new album "Turn the Lights Out" is now out there waiting for you...

I'm liking it a lot after a few listens. I was a fan of their last release, Celebration Castle, but I was by no means anticipating this one. The first single from the album has been floating around the net for a month or so (Double Vision). Double Vision is ok; it's good, but nothing too special.

One of my favorite tracks from the new album: The Ponys- Harakiri

The album will be released on March 20th on Matador. Now if the Ponys would just consider a name change...



Elvis Perkins tours with bands like Clap Your Hands and My Morning Jacket, so he couldn't be bad, right? He's actually good enough that we're willing to overlook the fact that "While You Were Sleeping," from his new album, was featured on The OC.

Elvis Perkins- All Night Without Love

All Night Without Love was released as a single on January 9th, while the album is due out February 20th.



Speaking of Clap Your Hands...

You should all know that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have an album on the way called Some Loud Thunder. Their first album grew on me to the point that I would now list it among my favorites from 2005.

Some Loud Thunder is set to release January 29th, yet, strangely, it has not leaked as a whole to the internet. What has leaked thus far sounds fantastic, though...

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Yankee Go Home

Yankee Go Home was featured on this month's Uncut Magazine CD, and it is apparently going to be the 9th track on Some Loud Thunder.

That's all for now.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Constantines



If someone asked me to list my favorite albums of the current decade, the result would likely include all three Constantines LP's (and I'm not even Canadian)

I sure do like them.

You've probably heard of the Cons' love for Neil Young, and their cover band Horsey Craze. What you might not have heard is the 1,000 copy, vinyl-only split record that was released earlier this year with the Unintended. The first side of the record is the Cons playing Neil Young, while the second is the Unintended playing Gordon Lightfoot... The record was aptly titled "The Constantines play Young/Unintended play Lightfoot."



The four Young tracks covered are "Don't Be Denied," "Transformer Man," "Don't Cry No Tears," and "Shots."

All four covers are, as expected, stellar. As far as I know there aren't any mp3's from this record floating around the web. Excuse me, there weren't any floating around the web... That's right, Born By the River bringing it to you first. Check out the Constantines- Don't Cry No Tears.

And just incase you haven't heard it, check out the original, from Young's 1975 album Zuma: Neil Young- Don't Cry No Tears

If you like the Cons take on No Tears, you might like this as well: Constantines- Fuckin' Up

Fuckin' Up was one of the tracks that the Cons had originally recorded for this release, but unfortunately it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Band of Horses

Band Of Horses

I know there are plenty of different schools of thought when it comes to production of indie music; some people prefer the DIY, recorded-on-a-fisher-price-tape-recorder sound, while some people prefer shimmering, glossy production. I generally like a happy medium. I don't like production to take center stage, but at the same time, I like to be able to hear music over the tape hiss.

One of the albums that really benefited from spectacular production in 2006 was Band of Horses- Everything All the Time. Check out the album's first single, and incidentally our favorite track, The Funeral.

To say that this album benefited from great production isn't to take anything away from the music itself. This is a great band, writing very good songs. The production took the album to another level, though. The production made these songs glow.

The reason I bring this up... The other day Trost showed me the band's tour EP, a short collection of demos and live songs. At first I was excited, but after a few quick listens, it was clear that these songs could not hold up next to their counterparts from Everything All the Time. If you would like to see what I am talking about, check out the live version of The Funeral from the EP, here entitled Billion Day Funeral. The song is still great, but it kind of falls flat. The production from the album version truly adds a new dimension.

Do yourself a favor and listen to Everything All the Time through some decent headphones or quality speakers. Your laptop speakers are not going to do this album justice.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Dashboard



Story time...

Last August, Modest Mouse was scheduled to play a series of west coast shows, including one in my hometown. Those shows were cancelled, apparently because the band wanted to stay in the studio to finish the new album. Needless to say, I was upset, but I let it go because, well, I wanted a new Modest Mouse album. When they announced the December 19th release date, any ill will on my part had vanished. A few months later, a funny thing happened; Modest Mouse scheduled a series of November-January shows (in LA and NY for the most part). According to the band, these shows would mean that the album's release date would be pushed back to "early 2007." First they cancel shows to work on the album, then, two months later, they push back the album to play more shows? Ugh.

The first single from their new album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (still scheduled for "early 2007"), will be released officially on January 16th, but the good folks at Born by the River are bringing it to you now:

Modest Mouse - Dashboard

If you liked Good News..., then you will like this track. I am regionally obligated to love everything that Modest Mouse puts out, so you know I'm happy. Dashboard finds Isaac Brock at his most David Byrnesque, while still maintaining all of the same vocal and lyrical idiosyncrasies that made us fall in love with him in the first place. Dashboard provides a promising first look at one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2007.