Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Basement...

The Basement makes some straight up toe tapping music. They're from Ireland so inevitably will garner comparisons to Hothouse Flowers and Van Morrison as well as requisite mentions that point towards early U2 and Dylan Thomas. But really they just play a fun brand of blue eyed soul that leans just a little towards pickin' and grinnin' Americana. They're pushing a 5 song EP called The Basement EP on Zealous Records with a full length due in the "spring" (that's nebulous label talk for "we're not sure").

Here's the video for their very catchy song Do You Think You're Moving On

As well as one for I Just Caught A Face

Monday, January 29, 2007

Berg Sans Nipple...

More weird and good from our friends at Team Love. I don't know squat about Berg Sans Nipple aside from what my ears have told me. And they've told me that Berg Sans Nipple projects an odd confluence of electronica, percussion, rock and pop that ends up soundinng like Apostle of Hustle on mushrooms playing in a vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes. I think they're french. They've got an EP called Along The Quai that came out on Jan. 23rd and seems to possess the ability to light a fire of buzz on par with Funeral if given the chance. Good odd stuff, takes a few listens to digest but then blossoms into a full fledged jaw dropper.

1 from Along The Quai:

Mystic Song

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Broken West...

I may be hopping on the band wagon here (I haven't really checked to see how many other "alternative media outlets" have talked about these guys) but damn this new record from The Broken West is good. It's called I Can't Go On I'll Go On and is as fine an example of power pop sweetness as I've heard in awhile. I've gotta go all the way back to The California Oranges Souvenirs to remember a record with such a consistent ability to make my cynical ass grin.

Here's a Broken West video:

Have a good weekend. Hey look, it's raining in San Francisco. "bout time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Creeping Weeds...

Ok, so there's this band called Creeping Weeds that sent me their CD. Actually they emailed me and asked if they could send it to me, I said yes. Usually that's where these little interlocutions stop because I end up listening to the first track of the CD, skip through the rest of the tracks and decide that Pro Tools and My Space were the worst things to ever happen to music. But Creeping Weeds' CD We Are All Part of a Dream You Are Having actually shows a degree of professionalism and dedication to craft that many bands with rehearsal spaces can only dream of. Customarily I like to spend at least a week with a CD before I consider posting about it as I try to stay true to my mantra of "music I like and music I think other people should like". I diligently try to avoid simply cutting and pasting the vast number of links that are emailed to me every day by a variety of labels and publicists who are, I believe, very good people trying to do their job. I like to believe in the music, feel a little moved by it, be convinced that there's something special going on in a song. But there are a couple of songs on We Are All Part of a Dream You Are Having that I have found to be immediately affecting. And that's good. Creeping Weeds wear their influences on their collective sleeves (or at least on the sleeve of primary songwriter Pete Stewart) and those influences are classic indie rock. I'm talking about Pavement primarily, Modest Mouse, Shins (my jury is still out on the new record)and the like. The band has done a good of synthesizing said influences into something that is at the least notable for the fine effort they have made to be true to those influences. It's not a completely original undertaking but it's a fine place for a talented young band to begin. Does it require some polish? Sure, I could do without the noodling of the 7 minute plus "Derelict", but then they come back with the schizophrenically charming "Our Country Home" which is as all over the place as my youngest nephew after 2 Cokes and a box of Zots. There are good heartfelt songs here. Sometimes a little sincerity goes along way with me.

my 2 favorite songs from We Are All Part of a Dream You Are Having:

The Desert

Wired Shut

If you live in in the city that no longer has Allen Iverson (and I spent alot of time there in college so I have opinions) Creeping Weeds CD release party is on Jan. 26th @ 1201 N. Frankford Ave.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Woes...

I can't believe that it was nearly three years ago that I wrote about The Woes and their fantastic EP Coalmine for Stylus Magazine. Since that time it seems that Osei Essed and company have been busy refining their banjo laced delta blues brand of soul. It's a magical music and as odd as that reference sounds I really believe it to be true. The magic lies in Essed's voice. There are plenty of other singers to draw comparisons to, say Tom Waits or Nick Cave, but ultimately Essed's voice is so unique and so powerful that he owns every song he sings completely. The music of The Woes varies from a slow moving funereal dirge to upbeat boot stompers that sound like a distant cousin to Lightin' Hopkins. The songs are full of banjos, organs, guitars, varieties of percussion, and that expressive baritone of a voice. The Woes are completely outside of what I tend to listen to and also exactly what I love, that's magic.

Go to The Woes My Space Page and listen to the songs there, if you're not moved to some degree you're dead. Stone cold grey, know wha' I'm sayin'? I find the music that Essed and The Woes produces to be unclassifiable, a unique listening treasure that both lives within and transcends their influences. This hyperbole is over the top even for me, but it's special and that's in short supply these days.

1 song from The Woes 2006 That Coke Oven March:

The Best Is Yet To Come

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Strugglers still get me...

The more I listen to the The Strugglers 2005 album You Win the more I love it. For whatever reasons it's been on heavy rotation for the last two weeks, so despite the fact that posted about them in June of last year. Honestly though that's the best kind of record, isn't it? The kind you find and enjoy, that get lost in the shuffle of listening, only to be rediscovered and enjoyed even more than the first time around. Even better is the the news that The Strugglers have about completed their next album The Latest Rights. No word on when it's be out, but I wait eagerly.

From the excellent You Win:

The Rejection Letter.

Also of note regarding The Strugglers, mostly because it's more recent news and doesn't make that post a complete redundancy, is a split CD EP that they released on Tract Records called If We Were Ghosts. It's a pretty cool deal where Tract Records does a four way split series (four bands each doing a couple of songs), home spun art work, collectable, very cool, very un digital which is nice. If We Were Ghosts brings together The Strugglers, Pink Nasty, The Black Swans and Virginia Reel. There are MP3 samples on the site. This is the kind of thing worth owning, reminds me aesthetically of the Dark Beloved Cloud singles club. Very nice.

Also recently noticed that UnBunny quietly put out a little EP called Typist like a year ago. I'm a big fan of Jared/Unbunny and have no excuse as to why this one slipped by, aside from the obvious fact that I have a life and can't possibly be expected to keep up on every single dingle thing that every indie singer/songwriter out there is doing. You can listen to the "X" from Typist at the Unbunny myspace page.

That's it for me this week. I'm going to go fall down in the snow this weekend. Hopefully all limbs will remain attached.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Great Northern...

Here's a little nugget from the good folks at Eenie Meenie. The band is Great Northern and if you live on the West Coast you may have a chance to catch them. First it's LA, then they play here in San Francisco on Jan. 21st, then up to Portland and Seattle. You can check the dates on their site.

Otherwise it's really cold here and I'm tired because I had insomnia last night. Maybe I need a new mattress. Maybe I should keep myself under some semblance of control on the weekends. Maybe I need arch supports.

from Great Northern:

Low Is A Height

A kind of squealchy brooding number that's all about the beautiful vocal harmonies.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Centromatic Video...

Centro-matic's Fort Recovery was one of my favorite albums of last year. I found a video for their song "Triggers And Trash Heaps". It's good. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sparrow House...

I forgot what cold is like. Despite having grown up on the east coast (and north of the Mason Dixon line at that) I've been thoroughly Californicated. Currently in No Cal we're experiencing a cold snap. We're talking mornings in the 20's or 30's days in the upper 40's. Now if you're reading this in Canada or Germany or Maine you're thinking to yourself "pussy". But it's been years since I've felt a chill like this. Tomorrow morning I'll get on my bike to ride to work and it's going to be like 6 degrees. I'm mentally unprepared.

So I've been warming the cockles (what the hell are those) of my heart with the delicious melodies of Sparrow House. Sparrow House is the work of Jared Van Fleet whose full time gig is playing in the also excellent Voxtrot. While Voxtrot is pretty rocking semi-new wave, full of upbeat songs and a jangle worthy of Johnny Marr, Sparrow House is an introspective affair closer to Iron & Wine's The Creek Drank The Cradle. Hell I'll even give you the classic folk of Simon & Garfunkel and mean it. Sparrow House is pimping an EP called Falls right now, six songs of mellow carefully plucked songs that are fleshed out with light percussion and the doubling of the vocal track. Van Fleet is working alone here so there's a certain lo-fi bedroom quality to the recording that only adds to the charm of the EP. It's excellent cold weather music, makes you want to hole up with a warm cocktail, a turtleneck, and your best sweety. You know, stay under the covers and make some love because sex anywhere else in the house is unfathomable since it's like 12 even with the furnace burning half the natural gas in Prudhoe Bay.

Order the EP on the website. Listen to additional songs over here. For a side project you're going to find the quality of these songs to be excellent. Try "Foxes (sighing like a furnace)".

from Falls:

When I Am Gone

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Woods...

Hey guess what? Macworld starts today in San Francisco! Yeah! Are you fucking kidding me? I love my iPod, okay? But there's nowhere to park for the next 4 days and even when you're on your bike you've got to avoid 4th and Howard like the fucking plague because you never know when some sweet tech geek is going to walk in front of you because he's (and it's always a he) busy masturbating with his iFoozle. Yeah Macworld! Yick.

So the perfect antidote to the tech implosion occurring 5 blocks from me? Why it's lofi freak folk, of course. And who better to give us some of that back woods strum and weird then The Woods. They have a record called At Rear House coming out on Shrimper in about 2 weeks. It's a seriously odd but often catchy slice of lofi back woods americana. At its best the record recalls The Baptist Generals fabulous "Going Back Song" or Akron/Family or a well twisted Carpenters. At other times the record is a droning reverberating, breathing, cacophony of dog barks, feedback and the occassional scream, that never really arrives anywhere. But when it all comes together, as on songs like "Don't Pass On Me" and "Night Creature", you can actually believe that birds can read our thoughts and rocks have souls and trees lead secret lives we never see.

from The Woods forthcoming At Rear House:

Don't Pass On Me

Friday, January 05, 2007

Flog me for I have erred...

It seems that in this recent post I erroneously attributed the song to Christian Kiefer. While Mr. Kiefer does have a record coming out on Undertow Records called Dogs And Donkeys that involves Nels Cline and Mimi Parker of Low and that I'd really love to hear (hint, hint), it seems that the song I posted really belongs to a band called The Artificial Hearts. The main (only?) member of said band is also named Christian. Go figure. However I do have to point out that Undertow has the song attributed to Christian Kiefer on his Undertow artist page. Therefore I can successfully pass the blame onto someone else confirming that I am indeed an American. So here's the correct attribution:

from The Artificial Hearts Heavy Rock:

Building A Rocketship

Check out more songs over at Artificial Hearts MySpace page

Apologies to Christian Kiefer and thanks as well to him for pointing out my error. I'm just trying to keep us "new media" on the up and up.

Keep up with Christian Kiefer and his excellent podcasts right about here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Amy Millan + a welcome return...

Boy did I get a surprise when I checked the mailbox yesterday. No, the neighbors hadn't put another rat in there (those crazies know how to party let me tell ya). It was two new eps via the fabulous Dark Beloved Cloud Singles Club. If you've never heard of DBC it's well worth a look since membership in the club is free. All you have to do is provide them with six pieces of art that will end up being covers for other peoples singles and you're in. Very cool. In addition to more mainstream offerings like Ida they also get deep into the nooks and crannies. The eps I received yesterday were from The Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet and the Museum of Modern Insect Art and The In And Out. Both very different and both very cool. If you can't or don't want to join I highly recommend purchasing from these good people.

I've also been digging Honey From The Tomb by Amy Millan out now on Arts and Crafts. It's a country tinged set of folk pop from the voice that makes Stars "Ageless Beauty" so frickin' sexy. It's solid, maybe unspectacular, but very enjoyable record. Think Jennny Watson without twins or Jenny Toomey without the Burt Bacharach obsession.

There's an excellent interview/performance from Ms. Millan over on KCRW that was recorded on Dec. 7th.

Here's a video from Amy Millan:

Skinny Boy

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bishop Allen...

IF you weren't paying attention last year then you missed one of the most musically satisfying projects in Bishop Allen's EP a month excursion. By "excursion" I don't mean an actual trip but more of a mental release or a process by which we are taken from one place (in this case the boring mundanity of our everyday working lives) to another (the pleasing jangle of well written pop songs offered very affordably), don't be so literal. Jeez.

These two songs are from the last two months of 2006, that would be November and December. Duh.

Calendar - Decemeber EP

Tea for Two - November EP

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

if you've got some time why not play the album quiz. Let me know how you do. I pretty much sucked.

new Apostle of Hustle...

Starting the year with a lazy post, since I imagine any reader of music blogs worth their salt has already heard this. But it's got a couple of worthy things going for it: 1) it's a great song, 2) it's from Apostle of Hustle which gave us the outstanding Folkloric Feel which eclipsed, in my opinion, labelmates, and sharer of band members, Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It in People.

The new song is dynamic build up that lays the slowly developing melody on a bed of bouncing drums. It reminds me of early Genesis for some reason and I do intend that as a compliment.

The new A of H record National Anthem of Nowhere comes out on Feb. 6th and, if "My Sword Hand's Anger" is any indication, it should be a killer.

from the forthcoming album:

My Sword Hand's Anger