the Sounder and the Fury

There can be something startlingly effective in committing music to tape unpolished. I think it goes back to the fact that no one is ever "perfect" in real life. When I hear something immaculately constructed, recorded and performed, it hits me in a different place than something unfinished: my head, where at night I imagine perfect scenarios with flawless and flowing soundtracks. So when I hear ((Sounder)) laying these broken tunes to track, I feel something else is being spoken to. Call it heart, soul, or whatever else you want.

Listening to this, I know with certainty that it's ok to be imperfect. Hell, it's preferable. ((Sounder)) is saying it's acceptable to not have all the answers. They're saying we all look in the mirror and see the scars from childhood accidents across our chins. We all know the pain and joy that is buried underneath the shiny exteriors of our eyes. We are who we are. Rock what you've got and make no excuses.

Get Use to Falling
Things are Gonna Get Worse (Before They Get Worser)
[from Good Things Come and Go Like Bad Things|buy]


18 years of Cool, Stereolab

I'm going to say the name of a popular underground indie band and you're probably going to shudder with how immeasurably cool they are. Stereolab. There, I said it. Shuddering? Quintessentially cool, atypically fresh, and much longer-lasting than Big Red. Even the name is money.

Stereolab has been the soundtrack for cool kids to screw to since 1990, so long that those cool kids are now probably in their 40's and their cool kids will soon be screwing to Chemical Chords. This is the circle we live in, and this is the staying power of this unique band. They've lived through the grunge era and the accidental death of a talented band member. They've outlasted countless sound-alikes, influenced hundreds of bands (Pavement, Belle and Sebastian, The Little Ones, Crystal Skulls), and practically invented "post-rock". They were kind of like the Broken Social Scene of the '90s, their little fingers dabbling in numerous side-projects and other outlets.

If you loved High Fidelity. If you supported the space program. If you dig the Velvet Underground. If you gobbled Pez like it was going out of style. If Max Headroom is your hero. If you see your dreams in technicolor. If your parents were the cool kids mentioned above.

Stereolab is here for you.

Three Women
[from Chemical Chords (out 8.19)|buy]
Miss Modular
[from Dots and Loops|buy]


Listening Assignments 7.28.08

1. Calexico - Two Silver Trees - Everybody's favorite western alt-folk group is pouncing back to Feast of Wire form with the upcoming release of Carried to Dust. Sounds like they're singing out over an expansive plain, echoing across canyons, accompanied by the whispery grasslands and wild dogs. They survive on dust and dew. [from Carried to Dust (out 9.9)|info]

2. Chad VanGaalen - Willow Tree - This is so Chad. Tiptoeing along with timidness. It always sounds like trembling fear, but it always gallops into redemption. This time, especially. [from Soft Airplane (out 9.9)|info]

3. The New Frontiers - Spirit and Skin - I spent a week with this record, after reading numerous reviews saying it was the Militia Group's best release since Copeland's Beneath Medicine Tree (one of my all-time favorite records). And it's good, but not transcendent in any way, save this one song. A simple and beautiful ballad that would be huge if it were recorded on a cheap tape recorder and Sam Beam were singing it. But being on Militia just isn't "cool" enough. [from Mending|buy]

4. My Brightest Diamond - Inside a Boy - Something tells me if it were a dude singing a song called "Inside a Girl", it'd be a major taboo. As it stands, it's more of Shara Worden's Jefferson Airplane-esque spaciness, spinning through an enormous space with violins and tons of reverb. [from A Thousand Shark's Teeth|buy]


Soapbox Anti-Hero

Is it just me or is it kind of funny that 15-year-old Miley Cyrus' new record is called Breakout?

I saw The Dark Knight everybody! I'm officially the 21,435,678th person to be able to say that! I have a feeling I'd have liked it more if I saw it opening weekend. Why? Because you can only hear so many best movie I've ever seen's and biggest grossing movie of all-time's until the movie will have no chance of meeting expectations. Maybe if I'd been a part of that first wave, propelled by insane hype, I would just be brainwashed into wanting to make out with Batman like everyone else does. My friend Kevin, a big movie critic up in D.C., gave it a 6-star rating (out of 5 stars), his first ever. Come on, people! It was good! Really good (I shivered at the end!). But not that good.

You know what I'm finally done with? Complaining about gas prices. I don't know if I'm just desensitized to it or what, but I'm just over it. We're a spoiled society, though you'd never guess it by the oil headlines. You can find DVD's for $5 all over the place! Cheap cable internet, DVR's, On-Demand, Flat-screen TV's, all within a reasonable budget. Even organic food and products are becoming wide-spread and well-priced. Minimum wage is going up, almost $2 an hour by 2009. We'll pay money hand-over-fist for coffee, beer, and bottled water, but god-forbid we pay increasing amounts for gas, the thing everyone loves to take for granted. Most of us (including myself) are too young to realize that oil has really only been huge in the last 80 years (all of our lifetimes), thanks to modern technology that has revolutionized the extraction and utilization of its bounty. In the grand scheme of the world, that 80 years is like a blink. We've developed that fast, this thing that is limited and non-renewable. And now, we're going to be forced to find something else, to develop something else. As we should be. And I can't think of a better way to bring that change on than this "outrage" at paying ever-increasing prices at the pump, forcing car companies and this country to clamor for a solution (electric cars/bicycles/takethedamnbus). It takes a lot of stress to make a diamond, my friends.

And now, my pedestal crumbling, I will sit down, shut up, and get back to writing about music for awhile.

It's a Musical, Really

It's a Musical is impossible to Google without the inclusion of quotation marks. This German duo is musical indeed, though more reminiscent of numerous Canadian acts than anything coming out of Germany these days. That is until the dude starts singing, belying an adorably broken accent. Are you opposed to trumpets? Glockenspiels, droning keyboards, pianos? Mates of State meets The Most Serene Republic? Frolicking across flowered fields? Rope swings? Brightly-colored t-shirts? Hopscotch, wall-ball, foursquare? If you're against these things, move along. There's nothing to see here.

It's a Musical's debut full-length The Music Makes Me Sick LP will be released in October on Morr Music (Seabear, Radical Face, Electric President, AmAmSet)

Bad Day

Pain Song
Take Off Your T-Shirt
[from The Music Makes Me Sick EP|download]


Merrill = tUnE-YaRdS

Ever felt like you're getting slightly stale? Your outer edges are drying out, you're a crumbly saltine, you're an unappealing handful of old popcorn. The constancy of the surrounding environment becomes like a steady hot breeze, slowly sucking the love from your cuticles and sapping the hope from the edges of your mouth. Sometimes your life seems less like a choose-your-own-adventure and more like a cracked record, doomed to repeat that same skip over and over.

Musically, I feel that way a lot. It's inevitable in my position, listening to countless hours of music a week in order to provide you with the best 30 minutes of it, always trying to find that new oasis in the middle of a vast, bland desert. For my sake as much as for yours. I need it. Precious drops of the stuff that keeps me from drying out and losing hope.

Today I found it in tUnE - YaRdS, one of the strangest, most beautiful things I've ever heard come out of Vermont. tUnE - YaRdS is Merrill Garbus, a by-all-accounts odd gentleman with obscene amounts of freshness. Merrill is going to be the ziploc bag I've been looking for.

His album is available by donation here, and was apparently recorded with only a digital voice recorder (plus some programming and arranging on Audacity).

When You Tell the Lions
[from BiRd-BrAiNs|buy]


Born on a Bender

Considering Blogdom's well-documented love affair with cover songs and the fact that I haven't written about Berkeley's The Morning Benders in well over a year, I am determined to deliver a double-dose of delish.

It's less important to whom they sound similar (early Shins, The Kooks, SSLYBY, What Made Milwaukee Famous) than to what genre they call home: positive, inspiringly unpretentious rock. This not-so-fearsome foursome has been busy crafting an album of sun-soaked bits and pieces, lashed into a happy battering ram of indie pop. Your door is going to be smashed in, but you're going to be totally okay with that.

And as a gift to you and me, they've also fashioned a near-full-length EP of lovingly-recorded-in-a-bedroom covers, aptly titled The Bedroom Covers. For the most part, it consists of deeper cuts from their favorite artists including The Velvet Underground, Paul Simon, Talking Heads and Fleetwood Mac. It's a nice companion to the sparkling, studio-produced Talking Through Tin Cans. You can by the LP on iTunes for 5.99 and the EP is free. Make sure both find homes with you within a week's time.

Boarded Doors
Patient Patient
[from Talking Through Tin Cans|buy on iTunes/amazon]
Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)
[from The Bedroom Covers|free]


Water Wings

I'm going to Ocean Breeze Funpark today, getting a harsh white-boy burn/tan, and soaking myself in various bodies of water that may or may not contain human urine. I'll be dreaming of you and my next music post, to come tomorrow, which may or may not contain new Calexico, old Apollo Sunshine, or an proper listening assignment for this week (monday's was an assignment mixtape).

I saw Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D Monday. Don't see it in 2-D unless you enjoy activities related to shredding money. 3-D, however, has come a long way since I saw Captain Eo when I was 10. You really feel like you're in the movie.

Didn't see The Dark Knight yet. How important is it that I see it at my earliest possible convenience?

Can't stop listening to Beck's Modern Guilt or Shearwater's Rooks. Damn.

Scourge of the Sea - Water Wings


Summer Muxin'

Ahh yes, Muxtape. You're back. You were making me look rather foolish there for a few minutes.

So I made a mix for you guys with no specific theme other than it's Summer and it's time to kick back and relax. And that muxtape makes it so easy!

So I scoured my library and picked artists and/or tracks that haven't appeared on the blog before, for whatever reason, but deserved some facetime. Some are long holdovers from the days where the listening assignments were 4 songs in my AIM profile and on the Mae messageboard every week. The Fire Theft, Crystal Skulls, Decibully, PushStars, The Arts & Sciences, and more. I hope you enjoy it. We've come a long way, you and I.



What rhymes with Muxtape?

If Muxtape wasn't being a little brat right now, I'd be posting the new mix I've been making you the last few days. Until tomorrow...


L'and of Talque

Montreal's Land of Talk just signed with Saddle Creek Records, so I thought a post might be in order. They recently released a "little" in-between-albums acoustic teaser with 10 tracks. One brand new song from their upcoming LP, one Wintersleep cover (which I wrote about here), and acoustic re-workings of the songs that have been floating around since 2006's EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss (as well as its extended re-release). They're nothing if not precious, singer Elizabeth Powell's lazysexy warble weaving ropes around imperfect (and alive) acoustic guitars and powerful piano. While some of it sounds slapped together in a few days (which I'm sure it was), its bright spots are powerful and raw, those moments of serendipitous strums and harmonious accidents. Powell's uniquely emotive voice remains constant, tying those woven ropes off into butterfly knots, their gossamer wings flapping at the still air.

Street Wheels
Young Bridge
[from L'adventure Acoustique|buy]


Fresh Pomegranates, Year-Round

How omnipresent are Pomegranates these days? You can find them in just about every juice out there, shampoo, hand soap, sorbet, smoothies, even bagels. (I'm pulling for pomegranate wallpaper, myself.) I remember back in the day when they were just annoying-to-open (yet delicious), rarely available fruits. On the outside, they don't look like much, just a vaguely red, leathery ball. But the inside is a myriad of tightly packed, brightly colored cells, just waiting to burst on your pointy teeth and let out their tart, all-staining bounty.

Oh, you meant the band? Of course you did! Well they might be on a similar career path to their fruitious counterparts. They seem to be getting significant blog love these days, citing well-worded reviews from reputable places like KEXP's blog, Berkeley Place, and Amplifier Magazine, and WOXY.com (to state only a few) on their promotional schwag. And I'm here to add to the pile.

The best part about listening to Pomegranates is how unpretentious it all is. They most decidedly are not leather-jacket-donning, coordinated-all-suit-wearing, or eye-liner-applying. They're a foursome of fresh-faced lads who show up to rock wearing the same t-shirt they wore all day. I have the good sense to assume they are smiling with every downstrum and stomping with every handclap, kind of like I do when I listen to it. Everything Is Alive is 11 tracks of sparkling, unassuming indie-pop along the lines of The Little Ones or SSLYBY. Four young gents enjoying the ride and making tracks across this great U, S, of A.

Catch them live:
7.18 - Hickory, NC - Tea & Coffee Co.
7.19 - Chapel Hill, NC - Jack Sprat
7.20 - Richmond, VA - Rumors Boutique
7.21 - Charlottesville, VA - Gravity Lounge
7.22 - Norfolk, VA - The Boot
7.23 - Washington, DC - The Black Cat
7.24 - Pittsburgh, PA - The Lava Lounge
7.25 - Columbus, OH - Scully's Music Diner
7.26 - Louisville, KY - Forecastle Festival (west stage 1pm)
7.28 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean
7.29 - St. Louis, MO - Lemp Art Center
9.14 - Morrison, CO - Monolith Festival @ Red Rocks

The Bellhop
[from Everything is Alive|buy]
Osidious the Emphatic
[from Two Eyes|buy]


Save Me, Amos Lee

Now that AT&T has ushered the sweet stylings of Amos Lee into America's households via "Sweet Pea", I'm hoping his new Last Days at the Lodge gets a little more love. With a soul this shiny, it's hard not to. His velvety voice resonates with heart, vibrating alongside twangy gospely guitar. This back porch is a pulpit, these tumbleweeds are parishioners, and over these airwaves flow the means to salvation.

Jails and Bombs
[from Last Days at the Lodge|buy]


A Department of Eagles

I think most would credit Ed Droste with the recent success of current Death + Taxes coverboys Grizzly Bear. It was he, after all, who recorded GB's heralded debut Horn of Plenty nearly by himself, but it was the addition of local songwriter Daniel Rossen in 2005 that propelled them to greatness. Need proof? Tear yourself away from Yellow House and take a listen to his side-project duo Department of Eagles.

"In Ear Park", the first song released off the upcoming album of the same title, is cautious and momentous like a baby bird taking its first flight. As it stretches and grows, it is bathed in light, it is swaddled in wind. It is cradled by soft feathers and soars like new love.

In Ear Park
[from In Ear Park (out 10.7.08)]


Listening Assignments 7.14.08

1. Ray LaMontagne - Crazy (Gnarls Barkley) - Looking through the archives, I'm finding that Ray is more of the linesthroughlines everyman that I assumed him to be. With appearances on Blankets V.1 (though not with this song), Sing Her Name, Oh It is Love, and Spring/Summer Roadmix V.1, Mr LaMontagne is comfortably the most deployed mixtape weapon on this blog. I've even posted about this song, almost two years ago, when this blog got about 20 hits a day. Some of you are still around, but I thought this morsel would be a fitting kick-off for this weeks mini-Blankets assignments, no?

2. Night Shall Eat These Boys and Girls - Where Did Our Love Go? (Supremes) - 1. It's not going to be what you think. 2. It's going to be far better than you imagined. 3. Beautiful. [live on WCBN]

3. Anoraak - Talking in Your Sleep (The Romantics) - One last Buffet Libre offering to convince you to download the whole thing. The vocals on this are acceptable, but the original got out-'80s-ed by Anoraak's bouncy synths and drum machine.

4. The Acorn - Good Enough (Cyndi Lauper) - I could listen to the delicate stylings of Canada's The Acorn until the proverbial cows come home. This bears little resemblance to the original Goonies theme but takes it much deeper. It's much more affecting. It breaks my heart. *Sob*


Noise Therapy with Apollo Sunshine

It's a damn shame that Apollo Sunshine has never been covered here, mostly due to the fact they haven't released an album in three years. Still, their previous works deserve some love and will receive it at my earliest convenience. This I vow.

We are gathered here today, however, to celebrate the upcoming newness of Shall Noise Upon, the boys' long-awaited 3rd proper proper LP. It will fittingly enjoy the fruits of the modern double-release with vinyl/digital versions available August 5th and a hold-it-in-your-mitts CD release on September 2nd.*

These two tracks are just a peek through the window. I'm on my tippy toes but I can make out Sam, Jesse, and Jeremy sitting on tri-colored couches. Jesse's beard is as potent as it ever was. I can't quite make it out through the glass, but I think I hear the muffled chords of '60s psychedelia emanating from the turntable in the corner. I see Beach Boys posters on the walls. The three men nod their heads and sing in unison. This place sure looks like the cabin in the woods where Katonah was recorded. I feel really good about this.

Singing to the Earth (To Thank Her For You)
666 (The Becoming of the New Earth Government)
[from Shall Noise Upon (out 8.5/9.2)|pre-order]

*Honestly, this could be the most efficient way to market an album in today's filesharing, album-leaking environment. They've released these two tracks to the public as free downloads, but no full-length LP will be available to leak until the digital version is already released. Then they'll have a month to play with marketing the released files to convince people they have to have the hard copy.


General Music Stuffs

1. Ben Folds announces new album Way to Normal (9.16). Contains a song called "Bitch Went Nuts".

2. The most embarassing moments in music history, caught on tape. Yeah, not so much.

3. Teaser for the upcoming Cold War Kids album, as yet untitled, also due in September.

4. Apollo Sunshine is set to release their upcoming Shall Noise Upon on Sept. 2, though it'll be available digitally and on vinyl on August 5th. I'm going to post two of the tracks from it tomorrow, so stay tuned.


Guiltless Beck

I was just sitting here thinking that it's pretty amazing to still find Beck in the forefront of commercial consciousness. I remember listening to "Loser" in the car 14 years ago in Seattle when the Dj's actually were playing a hand-dubbed tape of it because they were so desperate to play it on the radio. At the time, "Loser" seemed like a gimmicky satire of the grunge movement, still in full swing in 1994. And here we are, 2008, listening to his newest offering Modern Guilt, produced by none other than Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley).

And it's really good. And I'm not sure how he's still doing it after all this time other than this: Beck Hansen is hella tight, yo. The production here is stellar, at times delving into lo-fi Spoon territory ("Modern Guilt"), bouncing right into glitchy breakbeats that would have been at home on Thom Yorke's The Eraser ("Replica"), and sauntering into '60s/'70s underground ("Gamma Ray") flawlessly. His voice is drawls as forlornly as ever on the slow-burning "Volcano", proving you'll still recognize this incarnation of Beck. He is the ultimate hipster changling, tackling genres with bravado, diving into the muck of mainstream expectations and coming out clean on the other side.

Hell, yes.

[from Modern Guilt|buy]


Mumbling About Sigur Ros

I'm not too tough to admit that when Wes Anderson deployed Sigur Ros' "Staralfur" at the end of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, my eyes got a little sweaty. Ok, so they got a lot sweaty. There's no denying their ability to stir the soul with a giant spoon made of starlight. Their new record Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (With a Buzz in Our Ears, We Play Endlessly) was released essentially as a gift. The amazing first single was a free download, the entire album was eventually streamed for free. But the gift part doesn't necessarily have to do with money. One listen to the entirety of "Festival" and you'd gladly pay most anything to be able to hold it in your arms.

1. "Gobbledigook" is so good and there is nothing else on the record like it.
2. Unless a song is transcendently beautiful, there is a ceiling with how "into it I get, because I can't connect with any lyrical content because it's nearly all in Icelandic or Hopelandic (intentional gibberish).

One "Gobbledigook" is better then none, and there is a sufficient amount of transcendence present here. It may not be a home run, but a stand-up triple is nothing to complain about.

Gobbledigook (good enough to be reposted ad infinitum)
[from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust|buy]


Listening Assignments 7.7.08

1. Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Doubt/Hope - This is assuredly the most interesting thing you will hear today. It's like a spell. Drums and vocals, claps and chants. Deep, bruising soul. [from Heartcore|buy]

2. Daniel Ledwell - I Have Made You a Mixed Tape - Mixtapes have probably formed the crux of at least one of your myriad relationships over the years. And here is a song about that very act, sung out an open window into the dark cold night. And all he wants is a chance. [from Two Over Seven|buy]

3. Tape - Moth Wings - There needs to be something beautiful in your life. There should be one thing that astounds you, something that you turn over in your hands and marvel. A thing that you dream about. Perhaps this could be that thing. [from Luminarium|buy]

4. Devics - Salty Seas - This girl is broken and beautiful, wandering with tear-blinded eyes. Dustin O'Halloran's arrangements haunt me. [from Push the Heart|buy]


July 4th, 2008

Looking through my archives, I've never blogged on Independence Day, even though we've been given a gift-wrapped song in Jason Anderson's July 4th, 2004, the original of which I have written about before and made my top 50 of 2007. That version topped 6 minutes and was jam-packed full of some of the rawest and most uplifting enthusiasm I've ever heard, while this one clocks in at a more single-friendly and faster-paced 3:28. Well Mr. Anderson put out about 6 records so far in 2008, of which I own two. He records nearly completely live, for fairly obvious reasons. The life in his voice is enough to fuel the whole of us.

July 4th, 2004
The Hopeful and the Unafraid
[from The Hopeful and the Unafraid|buy]


Buffet Libre

Before this morning, I'd never heard of Buffet Libre. A small part of me wishes I still hadn't heard of it, because the intro audio/header plays every time you go to the page and there is no mute button to be found.

The larger part of me is grateful, however, because the e-mail informing me of the aforementioned site also informed me of a huge '80s cover project being undertaken there. The first part (18 tracks) was released July 1st and the remainder will be released September 1st, bringing the total to 58.

As a collection it's hit and miss, like anything else, but there are a few intriguing interpretations from some linesthroughlines faves I thought you might enjoy.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Another Satellite (XTC)
PYC - Summer of '69 (Bryan Adams)
Saint Bernadette - Owner Things (Yes vs. Howard Jones)
[from Rewind|stream or download a .zip of the whole thing here]

The Truth About Domingo

Somewhere between the sounds of Kimya Dawson (of Juno fame), Ida, and Jose Gonzalez lies the fictional aural location of Domingo. It's a nigh-ungoogleable band, buried far beneath countless links to the opera singer Placido Domingo, Santo Domingo (the 7th largest city in North America), and Domingo (a NYC rapper). Complications like this arise when choosing a name of this sort and when you list Paris/Albuquerque(?) as your primary location on myspace. Fortunately for them (and unfortunate for the googling public, because they're missing out), Domingo is really a unique and engaging folk group (which is why you've come to a place like this to get your fill). I'm (using) a lot of ()'s today, no?

(just open your ears) and listen

Hold Your Horses
The Grace
[from Domingo|buy]