Monday, 30 November 2009

Collective Conciousness

A few Animal Collective covers have been sneaking their way through the inbox recently, so why not shoot them out there for the world to judge?

Having not joined in the immense love fest for the band's Merriweather Post Pavilion release earlier this year - more a wish to avoid further blog clutter rather than any issue with the album, which I thoroughly enjoyed - it can only be a matter of weeks before it returns at the high end of many 2009 lists. Covers serve an interesting use in reflecting on the qualities of the original song and re-evaluating their value to the album as a whole. 

MP3: JL Stiles - No More Runnin' (Animal Collective Cover)

MP3: :Kinema: - My Girls (Animal Collective Cover)

MP3: Animal Collective - Brother Sport 
(Fetch's Tropical Preservation Edit)

MP3: Animal Collective - Peacebone
Taken from Strawberry Jam, out now

Buy it at Insound!

The stripped down JL Stiles version of No More Runnin' takes the song down an intricately plucked acoustic line to bizarre yet strangely satisfying results. I care less for the :Kinema: cover of My Girls, which feels somewhat lightweight, losing the depth of the excellent original track. Then of course there are any number of remixes floating around, of which this energetic Brother Sport is an interesting take.

Worthy homages or blights on a far superior original blueprint......what say you? 

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Party Time

It's always good to get away. Time spent either relaxing or simply passed outside the usual routine is time well spent......for a wee bit, that is. Spend too long and it might just suck the momentum from one's prior efforts at said routine.

All of which is the motivation for getting back on the wagon here after a couple of days gorging on turkey and confectionaries rather than music. And what more motivating soundtrack to reboot the system than some new mixes from rising purveyors of upbeat electronica Pretty Girls & Lasers? (The answer, for those unfamiliar with the rhetorical device, is that there isn't one).

MP3: Pretty Girls & Lasers - Late November Mix (Track 1)

Straying well and truly into the dance club DJ territory, this New York-based duo have a distinct penchant for the indie-electronica phenomenon that picks up the more hip-oriented Brooklynites, when the downbeat lo-fi stuff has taken its toll and the weekend rolls around. Hitting such reference points as Cut Copy, Daft Punk, and MSTRKRFT in their various mixes ensures an H-T-A friendly element,. 

It follows, then, that their new mix finds the pair bridging the musical gap between indie chic and danceable beats as effectively as the Manhattan Bridge links the north Brooklyn haven of the former to the clubs of the Lower East Side.  

Tying this all together perfectly, the next of the monthly parties held by the PG&L DJ's goes down this week on Wednesday 2nd December at Arlo & Esme. Just in time to really get back into the rhythm of the city and dance away all that excess poultry you inhaled. Full details and RSVP info can be found here

There will undoubtedly be more to come around these parts on both the crossover appeal to the increasing number of DJ-based acts incorporating indie-electronica (and vice versa) into their trade, as well as the continuing efforts  of Pretty Girls & Lasers. For the moment, though, the best possible cure for post-break malaise is to  follow the advice of my countrymen Arctic Monkeys: and "get on yer dancin' shoes, ye sexy little swine".

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thank You

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and, despite not being of this land, I am happy to be inextricably linked to its traditions. Especially those that involve eating a week's worth of food in a day.

MP3: Chris Cornell - Thank You (Led Zep cover, live in Stockholm)

In the cheesy spirit of the holiday, I'm thankful for those close to me, the opportunities to listen to/work with amazing music and those that create it,  and most importantly in H-T-A terms to YOU for reading whenever & wherever you so choose.

Have a great holiday weekend if you're here in the US and, even if you're not, stuff your face in its spirit and feel free to lay the blame at our door. Cheers!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

What's In A Name?

Bands change names all the time. Witness BeyoncĂ©'s ego-triptastic transformation to Sasha Fierce as just one (pompously overblown) example. So the re-imagining of New York residents Pete & J into Harper Blynn isn't that noteworthy, in and of itself. When accompanied by news of a new release before the year is out, however, it makes the jump firmly into the "write right now" column. 

Having gushed over the songwriting ability of the duo in passing for CMJ, we now have something more digitally tangible to focus on, as well as the fact that the remainder of the band is recognised as part of Harper Blynn. Rounded out by drummer Sarab Singh and Whynot (?!) Jansveld on bass duties, the quartet will squeeze in the digital release of new album 'Loneliest Generation' on December 15th, confounding H-T-A's attempts to get well ahead on the best of 2009 lists in the best possible way.

MP3: Harper Blynn - 25 Years
Taken from the forthcoming album 'Loneliest Generation'

Expectedly showcasing further the skills of these gentlemen to craft a beautifully laid back slice of melodic guitar-pop, '25 Years' already sounds timeless. Summoning memories of so many classic pop/rock songwriters, it offers every indication that the full length will follow suit and deliver an emotional, uplifting listening experience. 

Harper Blynn will play NYC's Bowery Ballroom on Dec 17th to celebrate the release. I await with baited breath.

And just to avoid any confusion, yes this will be the first and last time Beyoncé is mentioned in these pages. Apologies in advance for any trauma that may have caused.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Decaydence (2000): At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command

The minute I began thinking about reviewing H~T~A's albums of the decade, I knew the very first year would cause problems. Good problems, in much the same way as selecting the midfield at Real Madrid is a stumper, but problems nonetheless.

A brief sort by year and run through of iTunes shows defining releases from The Avalanches, Deftones, Modest Mouse, The Appleseed Cast, Spoon, Ocean Machine, earthtone9, Glassjaw, In Flames, and Queens of the Stone Age..........all that without even beginning to search outside of those ripped selections. The assumption being, of course, that if it hasn't made it's way into the iTunes library in the past 5 years, it's unlikely to warrant attention as one of the most essential listening experiences of the decade.

All told, however, there could be no denying that At The Drive-In's 'Relationship of Command' was the most influential, enjoyable, and consistently brilliant album laid into my sweaty post-teen mitts at the turn of the century.


A caustic collection of dynamic, raging post-hardcore mixed with introspective (but no less enthralling) slow burners, it can be difficult to assess whether Relationship of Command was before its time or a direct reaction to it. Created at a point when the often Neanderthal approach of nu-metal prevailed in both scene and chart popularity, the complex layers and nigh impenetrable lyrics were diametrically opposed to much of what would receive attention from the still crucial American radio medium. 

MP3: At The Drive-In - Arcarsenal

Buy it at Insound!

Whilst this was true in the USA, in the more fragmented scenes of the UK,the Texan outfit carved something of a niche for themselves. Appealing to both indie-rock fans receiving their wisdom from NME and the more heavily inclined on the back of support from Kerrang! and the like, the band reached a highly respectable #33 in the album chart. Coupled with several live performances that became the stuff of legend, At The Drive-In carried huge respect overseas with critics and fans alike. 

The album itself channels influences from seminal hardcore-leaning bands such as Fugazi, Jawbox, and Drive Like Jehu, focusing the purest elements of their sounds and projecting them through the eccentric lens of co-vocalists Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Notoriously tense relations between the duo and the remainder of the band would later lead to ruin, but at this moment they aligned perfectly - as is so often the case with landmark albums - to create 11 tracks with incredible energy coursing through them, all rooted in the relative stability of rhythm section.

Listening through the triple salvo of openers Arcarsenal, Pattern Against User, and perhaps their best known, most accessible track One Armed Scissor, it's a wonder the whole effort isn't derailed before it departs the station. The explosive vitriol of the guitars, the breathless delivery of the cryptic yet impassioned lyrics (try "yes this is a campaign / slithered entrails in the cargo bay / neutered is the vastness / hollow vacuum check the oxygen tanks" for starters), the powerfully frantic percussion........

 .....all vye for attention and threaten to overrun each other at any given moment. Somehow it all manages to stay the course and provide one of the most incendiary openings to an album any rock fan could desire.

Brief respite is found in the comparatively serene Invalid Litter Dept. Even here, though, the subject matter delivers an emotional weight and discomfort, chronicling the disappearance of underpaid female factory workers in Mexican border towns (video below). There are a couple more restrained moments in the latter sections of the album, but this slow down is only momentary before  further explosive material forces its way to the surface. Indeed, this happens to glorious effect on the album's penultimate - and my personal favourite - track Cosmonaut. An undulating, vicious yet somehow positive-sounding song, it epitomised all that is great about the band and Relationship of Command in particular.

In the intervening years this collection of songs - and iconic art, I should point out - has become increasingly essential and spawned a variety of imitators, to various degrees of success (highs like The Fall of Troy or Blood Brothers vs. lows like much of latter day screamo). The band members themselves have split off into their logical sections, Bixler and Rodriguez-Lopez forming the progressive if often inaccessible The Mars Volta, and the more steady rock of Sparta characterising Jim Ward and co's influence. Nothing has come close to this level of post-hardcore perfection though.

As the end of the decade is filled with endless rock reunions - some enthusiastically welcomed, others deeply depressing - it's actually an unreserved compliment to this band that I'd rather they preserve their legacy in this stunning collection of songs and the reports of a live show I never got to witness. A truly cathartic gem of an album that not only weathers the test of time but stands distinctly removed from its passage.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Natural Fibres

Firmly ensconced in a web of Brooklyn indie-rock credibility, rising city duo Acrylics have received plenty of attention on the basis of their connections over the last couple of months. Happily, the music itself more than backs up the hyperbole machine gathering momentum behind them.  

The debut EP All of the Fire covers a satisfyingly diverse amount of musical territory, hitting mellow, dream-like indie on Avenue I and the title track, then kicking things up a notch on the more straightforward rocker Honest Aims. A reflective nonchalance connects all the dots across the 5 songs presented here, keeping the flow natural throughout the varying styles.

MP3: Acrylics - All of the Fire
Taken from the EP of the same name, out now

Buy it at Insound!

This bodes well for a bright future and some exciting new material on releases expected in 2010. Whatever synthetic strands gather around the band in the intervening period, it's heartening to hear that Acrylics have the organic sound required to make that vital human connection.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Those Summer Nights

Being a Brit I know a thing or two about arriving late. With the train system back home being reliably unreliable, it's rarely easy to show up at the most appropriate time. Quite what Floridian Mike Diaz's excuse is for the timing of his bright and beachy new musical output, however, is open to debate.

Released last month under his alias MillionYoung and appropriately entitled Sunndreamm, this new EP radiates a warmth ill at ease with the descending temperatures of the current season. Instead the music - not misleadingly tagged ambient surf - should soundtrack lazy days passed in sun-kissed coastal regions at the height of summer. 

MP3: MillionYoung
- Sunndreamm 

MP3: MillionYoung  
- Youthless

From tranquil opener Chlorophyl, replete with echoing vocals and worldly percussion, to the relaxed acoustic strumming, tropical melodies, and almost reggae-tinged singing of final track Youthless, it's a fond memory of a holiday I neglected to take this year.

Although I picked up the new Phoenix disc in good time for the sunny months, Sunndream would certainly have supported the more cheery cuts of Wolgang Amadeus Phoenix on those languid, lilting lists of play. As it stands, it would be churlish to overlook quite how relaxing this pleasurable listen is, regardless of weather patterns. All the better that the EP is available in its entirety for free over this way, then.

MillionYoung plays Don Pedro's in Brooklyn 
this Sunday 22nd November, 8pm.

Now playing:
Beach House - Norway
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Decaydence: Albums That Survived the Ravages of Time

With the Noughties - has anyone come up with a less abominable term for this decade yet? - drawing to a close, the inevitable year-end lists will undoubtedly have a supporting cast of best of the decade run downs.  

Now, Heavier ~ Than ~ Air could certainly shun this trend, standing above the noise and tutting like some cantankerous old crone lamenting today's youth, but the truth is I'll read as many of them as I can point my browser at and have fun doing so. Thus begins the Decaydence feature this weekend with a look all the way back to 2000. As old Rolf might put it, "can you tell  what it is yet?"

In the meantime, to whet the appetite, here are some links to interesting early adopters of the decade lists. Comments on your best of the past 10 are also very welcome. Go ahead, challenge what I think I might perhaps already know, maybe.

"10 blogs, 1 decade, too many albums to count."
(Made known to me via CYSTS? and DECKFIGHT)

 "From the beginning of October through the end of December, Monday through Thursday, AD will feature a post, or posts, from a particular writer detailing their favorite albums of the decade."

 "After creating and combining our individual “best of” lists, we have created a sort of patchwork of what we think are the greatest albums from 2000 to 2009."

Sure they're perennial Brit 'hype then gripe' merchants, 
but they can also pick out a gem here and there

 "The decade in music" 
(More lists than you can shake a shitty stick at. 
Animal Collective guaranteed or your money back)

Now playing:
Muse - Time Is Running Out
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Thrill of the Chase

Earlier this year, The pAper chAse released the first installment of a two-part concept album in the form of 'Someday This Could All Be Yours'. Since their darkly exquisite 2002 disc 'Hide The Kitchen Knives', I've had an awareness of their activity though strangely not one that pulled me into their intervening albums. Having seen them perform a spectacularly off-kilter, unsettling late night set at ATP 2008, however, my interest was rekindled and this new work is a perfect reason to play catch up.

Always a difficult sound to pin down, the Dallas-based group continues to explore the darker side of the psyche and humanity on their new album. Following a different natural disaster on each song, the lead track posted here is a jittery, often frenzied affair, with noisy assaults erupting from the misleading calm of the quieter passages.  It recalls their earlier material in its style, if not so much in delivery. This is for the better, though, as the production has clearly advanced and lends even more to the blanketed malevolence of the instruments, particularly the underlying electronics and the schizophrenic percussion of new drummer Jason Garner.

MP3: The pAper chAse -  

Taken from the new album 'Someday This Could All Be Yours', out now

 Buy it at Insound!

The closest description I can conjure for The pAper chAse is  an apocalyptic take on the ramshackle indie-rock of Mclusky, blended with the visceral imagery soundtracked by Murder By Death, although even this fails to address some of the more unique subtleties of the songs.

Probably best to explore the disturbed recesses of their sonic world - cuts from previous releases can be found here - and work on your own take. Just don't expect to get much restful sleep after doing so.

Monday, 16 November 2009

20 Years On

Plenty happened to the world in 1989 - there's your 20 years, mathematicians - from the celebratory fall of the Berlin Wall to the tragic massacre in Tiananmen Square and huge earthquake in San Francisco. With my vague recollection of the general time period as opposed to the specific events, it's always interesting to dig back and see how history remembers the details.

The world of music also received a critical shove in the right direction, even if it didn't completely recognise it at the time, with the release of the Pixies' sophomore effort 'Doolittle'. In hindsight, a seminal album that paved the way for countless key alt-rock acts including Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins to dominate throughout much of the 90's.

Skillfully produced through a focus on accessibility from scouser Gil Norton and the artistic tenacity of Black Francis, 'Doolittle' successfully blended the raw energy of the band's debut 'Surfer Rosa' with slower, reflective and surreal material covering various subject matters. The impact of the album is still felt today, from song structures to guitar tones, and is currently being celebrated on the US stint of a global tour

The band site also offers a freebie download EP, featuring live cuts from the album recorded at the Paris show. Well worth a listen, whether this is your first introduction to this influential band or your 4,678th spin of 'Monkey Gone to Heaven'. Now, I wonder how much eBay wants for a couple of those NYC shows that have been helpfully placed right around Thanksgiving......hmmmmm?

"Pray for a man in the middle
One that talks like Doolittle
I believe
In Mr. Grieves"

Now playing: The Pixies- Monkey Gone To Heaven
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 15 November 2009

LIVE REVIEW: The Gay Blades & Millions of Brazilians @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)

In the morass of live activity towards the end of last month, the concert that kicked it all off for me that week was criminally buried for a while. Rising zombie-like from its freshly patted down grave, then, is a barnstorming show from two highly charged rock bands hitting gentrified Brooklyn for six.......

A  three band bill with comedy-rockers Electric Six at its peak, my chief reason for attending was to catch locals The Gay Blades deliver their swaggering best in a venue fuelled by $1 Colt-45's. Which for us Brits translates as the cheapest stubbies from your local Asda.  Before that, however, another ball of energy rock act has a set to play in the form of Detroit trio Millions of Brazilians (left).
MP3: Millions of Brazilians - Vermont
Taken from Half Horse/Half Horse, out now - BUY

Playing a skittering brand of fuzzed-out but mostly upbeat rock, they touch on influences from their native city without ever feeling derivative. Entertaining a handful of early arrivals, the band certainly sets the tone for the night to come. Garnering quietly impressed applause until the culmination of their energy pulls lead singer Nicky Cicchetti into the crowd, remnants of drum kit in tow, and leaves him pounding frantically away on the bar as we look on part amused, part bemused. Still, it's good to visit with new found fans right?

The Gay Blades also have a well-established reputation for entertaining live, not only for their cocksure 'trash pop' tunes that get firmly internalised within seconds, but also for the onstage banter of singer Clark Westfield. True to form, he's no less on it tonight, saluting the aforementioned drink of the poor and calling out anyone using Sunday night as an excuse for lacking energy, as apparently everyone in this area is a web designer or 'stay at home Dad' and won't be up before noon. Sounds like a plan to me. 
Focusing on the music, there's plenty in the songs to keep proceedings upbeat and rolling along regardless of what's being said between them. Singalong indie-pop/rock cuts like 'N.H.D.N' and 'Hey She Say' deliver the catchy pop sensibilities that will occassionally be suspisciously viewed in this borough - particularly its Northern region - yet the Blades rip through them with such a ballsy attitude that only the most uptight would fail to get just a little down. In addition, consistent highlight 'O Shot' proves again what a cracking slice of  short, strutting garage rock it is, only invigorated by the live setting.

Oh Shot by The Gay Blades from CTOAN films on Vimeo.
Buy it at Insound!

Not the biggest E6 convert by any means, this marked the end of my evening - after one more Colt, of course - with the two openers having transferred a satifying dose of their kinetic rock energy into my synapses. And, being neither a web developer nor a slack father, it is a Sunday night after all, you know?

Now playing: The Minutes - Harmonic
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Under the Radar: I Am The Dot

In a world of overblown press releases and artists claiming to be "tired of the current musical trends" and going their own unique direction - of whom 90% always seem to be rehashing '90's alt-rock - it's refreshing to receive a simple e-mail with a link to music and a polite request to take a listen.

Hence the lending of ears over the last week or so to I Am The Dot, the new musical outing of Zach Tipton from Denver's Young Coyotes.

Sparse yet engaging melodies are the building blocks of this debut 4 track EP, with minimalist indie-pop nuggets sticking almost exactly to the 3-minute mark. If either The Notwist or The Whitest Boy Alive were stripped down to their bare essentials, they might come out sounding something like I Am The Dot. The beauty is in this apparent simplicity, though, as the lack of clutter allows the skillfully layered vocal harmonies to take centre stage, lusciously  backed by some subtle beats here (Middle of April) and a lick of acoustic guitar there (Oranges).

MP3: I Am The Dot - Middle of April

Taken from the new self-titled EP, out now - BUY

The cut selected here jumps out thanks to its lilting verses, interspersed with Oriental-esque samples and the aforementioned harmonies just floating over everything, lending an almost meditative quality to the track. The other songs follow in this vein with subtle variations, culminating in a short but eminently satisfying overall listen.

I find myself spinning this one alongside Dinosaur Feathers quite regularly just now, possibly due to commonality of soothing singing over precise yet pleasing laptop beats. Whatever it is, if someone could see fit to arranging a bill with these two back-to-back then that would be just dandy. In the meantime, those of you further West can check out the various live shows lining up for early 2010 right here. Grand Junction, eh? Yeeeee and, indeed, haw.

So there we have it. Good music created by an independent musician, in a home made studio far from the music industry hubs and spread by humble word of (digital) mouth. Not sure about anyone else but it certainly elicits cause for hope at this particular keyboard. 

Now playing: Alice In Chains - Check My Brain
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Noise Pollution

New York has had an affinity for sonic dissonance for many years now. Pioneered most notably by Sonic Youth from the early '80's to the present day, the city has provided fertile soil for such current noise merchants as A Place to Bury Strangers and Cymbals Eat Guitars.

Well, a couple more groups that successfully walk the narrow tightrope above a chasm of inaccessible noise over to the promised land of melodic redemption have come to my attention in recent weeks.

First up we have Kite Operations, whose track 'Dasepo' has been luring me in over the last month or so. A short, caustic blast of loose riffing, feedback, and frantic vocals, the song thoroughly assaults the senses whilst clinging doggedly to an underlying melody. As heavily buried as it may be it lies beneath, effectively informing the chaos above.

MP3: Kite Operations - Dasepo
Taken from new album 'Festival', out now - BUY  

Buy it at Insound!

The band's third album, 'Festival', looks set to be a belter and deserving of more attention. Purveyors of this style often provide a powerful live show as well, something which will hopefully be demonstrated at their release party for the album in Brooklyn on Nov 21st. Full details of that here.

The next band, Brooklyn trio Grooms, attracted my attention in the reverse manner, with an immersive live performance at the recent CMJ Music Marathon requiring further listening of their recorded material. Much attention was lauded upon them that week and, although such hype elicits a certain amount of skepticism, their impassioned playing at Brooklyn Bowl coupled with the more hook-laden, pop leaning songs proved them the genuine article.


Buy it at Insound! 
As with Kite Operations, Grooms' new album hit recently. 'Rejoicer' is out now and by all reports keeps the quality shown on 'Dreamsucker' rolling for the duration of the album. Expect more soon and keep an eye on the tour dates here, as the band is pushing through a number of US cities before the year is out.

"I wanted to know the exact dimension of hell
Does this sound simple?"

Now playing: Sonic Youth - The Sprawl
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Some recent notable metal releases elicit further positive spin-offs, in the form of their lead videos below. Let's take a butcher's hook, shall we?

Immediately familiar with Killswitch Engage's tight, galloping guitars and the ever powerful vocal of Mr Howard Jones, the video adds to the urgency of the song with a fast-paced cityscape racing around the slo-mo couple personifying the lyrical matters. It has a certain amount of cheesy schmaltz to it but is visually class, which is the main thing. The self-titled album from whence it came is out now and available here.

A Horse Called Golgotha

Baroness | MySpace Video

By far the trippiest of these selections, Baroness recruit the fella that shot their 2007 clip for 'Wanderlust', one Joshua Green, for this original Star Trek via Wizard of Oz oddity. The bald nutjob traversing various astral plains is subjected to a variety of effects - many seemingly intentionally dated - before his eventual transformation back to a regular looking Joe. Bizarre in the extreme and not entirely clear how it relates to the song, but it certainly catches the eye. The new Blue Record can be picked up over here.

Katatonia: Day And Then The Shade video

KATATONIA | MySpace Video

Most likely the lowest budget effort here, the tune fully trumps the visuals on show here. A relatively stereotypical metal vid, there's a gothic looking lass wandering around a wooded area with various unpleasantness afflicting her travels. The sparse, harsh landscapes are the most alluring, in fact, and could easily have lost the melodramatic thrashing of the vampiric chick. But maybe I missed the plot somewhere? Feel free to hip me to that in the comments. In the meantime I'll just keep digging the music that backs it. Which, incidentally, is taken from newie Night Is the New Day, available here.

Now playing: Katatonia - Forsaker
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 9 November 2009

Simplicity Itself

I had intended to post this - and may yet do so - as a more in depth look at the cover song, given the variety of takes I have on the tune. But the timing seems right for this particularly enchanting version of 'Simple Man' by Alessi's Ark and as the song itself recommends: follow your heart and nothing else.

Originally by Lynyrd Skynyrd of course, this cover by 18-year old Londoner Alessi really elicits the warmth of the song, her voice conjuring both hope and longing from words that could easily become trite in the hands of others. It settles particularly well against the original whilst adding a personal flavour of the musician covering, which is certainly one of the hallmarks of a good cover song.

I'm sure I can dissect this further in future pieces but for now the song is more than capable of speaking for itself.

"My mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me my only son
And listen closely to what I say

And if you do this it will help you some sunny day

Take your time, don't live too fast

Troubles will come and they will pass
You'll find a woman and you'll find love

And don't forget that there is a someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
And be something you'll love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?

Then you can

Don't get your lust from the rich man's gold
All that you need now is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby if you try
All that I want from you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
And be something you'll love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?

If you can

Oh, don't you worry, you'll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby if you try
All that I want from you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you'll love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?
So baby be a simple, be a simple man

Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?"

Now playing: Madita - Ceylon
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Change (In the House of Yeas)

In a healthily expanding approach to exchanging music for some useful fan info, Brooklyn psych-indie troupe Yeasayer have become the latest to embrace the e-mail for free tune concept. Their newie 'Ambling Alp' - available here - is pulled from the second album Odd Blood, due out in February next year.....actually next decade, but who's counting? Me.


Of chief interest here is that the band appears to have embarked on a much more upbeat, outward-looking journey with their sophomore effort, the song bouncing along in a not dissimilar fashion to recent Animal Collective. With its cartoon like quality and extrovert chorus, it contrasts quite starkly with the pensive, restrained material to be found on their engagingly introspective debut 'All Hour Cymbals'.

Yeasayer "Wait for the Summer" from Mixtape Club on Vimeo.

Buy it at Insound!
Yeasayer - 2080
Taken from 'All Hour Cymbals', out now

As beautiful as that album was - and is, probing as it does into new corners of the mind on each subsequent listen - it's always a pleasure to hear a band unafraid to move in a new direction despite having already established a successful formula. And with 'Ambling Alp' retaining the more astral, psychedelic bent of their earlier material it seems likely that Yeasayer will keep a key part of the identity running through the releases.

All of which points to a bright start to the next ten years. Something which is all too disturbing, as I currently have little idea what will form my best of 2009 and, worse still, am toying with the prospect of a series spanning the best of this current decade we inhabit.

If only the clocks had gone back 1 month rather than just 1 hour...........

Now playing: Biffy Clyro - Mountains
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 7 November 2009

CMJ Report: Day 4

Day 4 centred mostly around the afternoon and early evening, given the full day of activity planned for the big final push on Saturday. Great diversity and performances were nonetheless abound.

Wandering along the Bowery, Crash Mansion presents itself as the most appealing line-up of the day. The first act is one I've never heard but Helado Negro do a fine job of easing one into the setting. Reclined in the venue's ample and comfortable, the languid latin melodies of Roberto Carlos Lange and crew wash over the early attendees like gentle waves lapping a quiet Mediterranean beach. Only aided by the flowing Spanish lyrics, theirs is a low-key yet engaging start to the day.

MP3: Helado Negro - Deja
Buy it at Insound!

As pleasant as this gentle beginning is, Friday night is starting to kick in and requires something a touch more feisty for the next act. Enter the familiarly eccentric sounds New York's own Kiss Kiss.

A quirky, varied quintet, the band employ synths, loops, and a towering-sounding violin to conjure up an eerie atmosphere something akin to a haunted carnival. They soar and plummet musically, occasionally in an overtly dissonant fashion but more often than not to unsettling success. The set is cut short - just 4 songs by my count - on account of an evening show to be played over in Brooklyn, so it's not much of a showing but certainly one that piques the interest to catch future performances.

Kiss Kiss "Machines"

Kiss Kiss | MySpace Video

Buy it at Insound!

Playing a number of different spaces is part and parcel of the CMJ week and one which next band Pete & the Pirates are embracing wholeheartedly. One of my own - not to mention plenty of other people's - picks for the marathon, the venue becomes decidedly more populated for this free performance as the lads from Reading take the stage.

MP3: Pete & the Pirates - Mr. Understanding (Live in Amsterdam)

Buy it at Insound!

An energetic and accessible group, the Pirates play an enthusiastic blend of rock that regularly flirts with that fickle pop stuff. No gimmicks and no hooks, other than the ridiculously catchy ones littered throughout their repertoire of songs. A particularly enjoyable set, greeted warmly by the assembled throng and playing a fine part in kicking off the evening shenanigans for many.

With energy waning from a full day at work and the umpteenth gig in 6 days, it's all I can manage to head over to the SoHo home of Apple for an in-store acoustic performance by Portugal. The Man. On later reflection it's a very good decision, as the Alaskan band play a hypnotic set of quietly enchanting songs. One that regularly nudges into the 'beautiful' category, aided by some wintery images projected up behind them.

Portugal The Man "Everyone Is Golden" acoustic from Portugal The Man on Vimeo.

Having a passing familiarity with the group, I had them down as one of mild interest to check out further should the opportunity arise. Having done so, I can certainly say the live show paints in all the colour and texture required to push home the quality of their songwriting. Various downloads from previous releases here will testify to this and explain why most recent effort, 'The Satanic Satanist', just shot up my list of 'Overdue shit to buy'.

Buy it at Insound!

Happily sated by the variety of the few performances caught, I take a briefly longing peek at the plentiful shiny Apple iTems for which I have insufficient funds, then skulk away into the rainy streets and home. Saturday will prove to be a huge and wide-ranging day of music, making this decision the correct one.

But that's another story, for another post......

Now playing: Alessi's Ark - Simple Man
via FoxyTunes