Sunday, 31 January 2010

Caribou Swim to Odessa

For anyone doubting the power of Twitter - which is more or less everyone online less than 5 hours a day - let me document my wish for new Caribou music a couple of weeks ago via that platform. Hot on the heels of this digital penny thrown hopefully into the tweet pond, news of a new track called Odessa (free download after sign up) and an album due in April surfaced. 

Coincidence......? Probably, yeah.

Nonetheless, this is great news. The track itself is a progression from the utterly wonderful, sweeping melodies of the music on Andorra, taking in more effects and feeling a bit more cluttered in places. Despite this, it does add a tad more groove to the contemplative blueprint of its predecessor, which itself was quite an uptempo jump from the previous record, The Milk of Human Kindness. A track from each of these releases can be found below for your own exploratory edification.

MP3: Caribou - Melody Day
Taken (via Insound) from the album Andorra

MP3: Caribou - Barnowl
Taken (via Insound) from the album The Milk of Human Kindness

Buy it at Insound!

The new album is called Swim and is slated for release on Merge in the US April 20th and UK/Europe the day prior on City Slang. The sonic development of some artists is always more intriguing than others, with Caribou being one of those that will prick up ears with every varied release. Pencil this one into your diary in bold marker.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Real Monsters


Now then, things have gone somewhat soft and sappy in these parts recently, what with all the gorgeously chilled acoustic and electronica tunes passing by.........see? It's happening again. 

Time to man up, fire up, and just generally venture upwards volume-wise. Time for some ripping, snarling caustic rock. Time for These Monsters.

Erupting from the ever-active volcanic territory of West Yorkshire - you can't understand just how incompatible it feels to type that unless you've lived oop Norf - this UK quartet are preparing some ferocious punk-inflected rock for their debut album, Call Me Dragon

MP3: These Monsters
Call Me Dragon

Taken from the forthcoming debut album of the same name, out in UK March 3rd

The lead and title track tears out of the traps, wasting no time in unleashing distorted howls and a caterwaul of frenzied guitar work. As the first track on the album, it's a fiery statement of intent. Far from just bluster, the song also contains more brooding passages, during which the foremost instruments recede and allow the rhythm section to offer more distant threats of further explosions. Punctuated by an ear-catching horn section, these moments allow the song to breathe in a way that Isis perfected long ago while also adding their own musical flair to the mix.

Having previously supported such genre luminaries as Mono and 65daysofstatic, These Monsters top an appealing launch show next in Leeds, also featuring Kong and Hot Club de Paris amongst others. This goes down on Saturday 13th Feb, making it a perfect Valentine's gift for your significant other. Because what says 'I love you' more than edgy post-rock with a rabid streak? I can see the ad campaign now......

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

O.N.E. Love

So the new Yeasayer has arrived - in impersonal MP3 form at least, upon pre-order of the LP - and the good folks are offering the next single O.N.E. for free (via the widget below). 


Having offered another freebie late last year for the first cut, Ambling Alp, one has to doff a cap to the band's approach. Have confidence in your music, get it out there and get people hooked...... 

Having come to terms with the surreal, upbeat electronic pomp of Ambling,  it comes as less of a shock to the system that O.N.E. continues to telegraph Yeasayer's move into synth-heavy territory. Heavy on the throwback value, it's a bright track that gives off a real Cut Copy vibe, as viewed through a lens of their more psychedelic Brooklyn brethren. It certainly advances the distance between the more restrained folk of debut All Hour Cymbals and what Odd Blood offers up.

MP3: Yeasayer - 2080 (via Insound)
Taken from the pretty darn great debut All Hour Cymbals

Buy it at Insound!

Having checked out both new songs, are you feeling the new direction? 

Is this a bold step fuelled by artistic expression or simply a band settling into the comfortable sound of their surroundings? 

Love to hear your comments/thoughts on this one........

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Poetry In Motion

Ever chuffed to be unexpectedly lured in by a band on the first listen, the more reflective moments of the past  week here have been passed in the company of Anglo-French duo Uniform Motion.

The sheer amount of blissed out, dream-like music I've taken in during January has been something of a surprise in itself. Now the chilled folk of this band can now be added to the likes of Beach House, Midlake, and Memory House, as purveyors of 'gazing-into-space pop'. That's a real genre, by the my mind.

Seamlessly blending exquisite guitar tones that bring to mind the fluid picking of Jose Gonzalez with a mild-mannered vocal style hinting at that of Catherine Wheel (back in the day) frontman Rob Dickinson, the end result is some beautiful and calming acoustic folk. Without going into too much hyperbole now - something that will be saved for the album review of Life, to be released 9th February - this is a little known band deserving of a lot more attention.

Saving up for Sundays from Uniform Motion on Vimeo.

For the moment this new video of their song Saving Up For Sundays helps to set the scene for the new release, their second since starting up in 2008. The first is also available for free here, if you like what you hear and want to get a head start.

Monday, 25 January 2010

To Honour a Hashtag - #MusicMonday

Every Monday on Twitter since I joined the site, a dominant hashtag has prevailed on the trending topics: #MusicMonday. Primarily for its alliterative qualities no doubt, yet it succeeds in trending more on the basis of the users passion to share the tunes sound tracking the start to their week.

Limiting posts to a single artist does tend to keep some great music out of the H-T-A pages, so I hereby extend the hashtag to the blog realm in order to share a variety of tunes with you in 140 characters or less. Anyone that reads this rambling bunk regularly will know just how much of a challenge this is to my natural waffle-heavy approach, but here goes nonetheless......

MP3: ortoPilot - Stay One More Day (Bandcamp download)
Emotive acoustic plea to wrest 24 more hours with the one you love before they depart. Softly communicative 'mix tape' perfection.

An early morning walk at sunrise set to soothing electronica and driven by a pulsing synthetic undercurrent. A joy to wake up to.

Moody dubstep with twisting beats alternating between murky threats and fiery attacks. Massive Attack via Burial fighting in 2020.

A self-assured breeze of a tune that summons the summer months long before they're due to arrive. Bright, happy, and all the things that freezing foggy days aren't.

MP3: Wild Yaks - River May Come (via Insound)
Slow burning alt-country rock with a raucous bar sing along vibe running throughout. Like O'death kept on the straight and narrow by William Elliot Whitmore.

A jarring, understated folk lament that spontaneously erupts with noisy outbursts which recede as quickly as they rose. Atmospheric minimalism.

So what d'ya reckon.....something worth doing again 
or a big miscellaneous sack of musical brevity? Or both....?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

REVIEW: Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

Floridians Surfer Blood kicked off the year of posts here on H-T-A and, as expected, it hasn't taken too many spins of their debut Astro Coast to validate the hopes many people have for this band.
With so many diverse niches comprising the overall tapestry of indie rock at the turn of the decade, it's intriguing that a group rooted in more straight shooting alternative rock - the fuzzy mid 90's kind, that is - have so captured the imaginations of much of that crowd. Perhaps the last few Weezer albums have wandered into blithely commercial territory one song too often? Whether or not this is the case - and whether or not they had any intention of doing so - Surfer Blood have certainly taken up the baton of pop, hook-heavy  rock so confidently carried on the Blue album. And a little more too, if one takes the time to listen.

Astro Coast kicks off with a killer one-two of just the style anticipated of them, the breezy melodies of Floating Vibes conjuring up images of a sun-drenched beach town and the powerful punch of top 2009 track Swim perfectly balancing the band's ability to drench a song in reverb and still retain the enormous, addictive hooks that make them so appealing to a variety of listeners. Set together, both songs provide the required introduction to the band for anyone that managed to miss the buzz late last year.

MP3: Surfer Blood - Swim

  Taken from the debut album 
Astro Coast, out now

Buy it at Insound!

Take It Easy reverts to a similar style as the opening track, keeping things easy going and bouncing along to a light summery rhythm. Although less immediate than those tracks, it maintains the momentum already set and succeeds in relaxing the ears for the next track Harmonix. A more reflective affair, it provides the point at which Astro Coast digs a bit deeper into its soul and finds some demons to exorcise. As if feeling somewhat emotionally exposed by this catharsis, Neighbour Riffs follows with a short two minute flurry of happy go lucky guitar lines entirely without lyrics.

By Twin Peaks though, the band again find their voice and go about creating an album highlight that melds all that has gone before into one 3:38 gem. The song bounds in on a bright Foo Fighters/Weezer-esque rhythm section and feels bright in tone but the lyrics tell a different story ("Why is everything a chore? / I'm too young to be defeated"). The album is actually littered with relationship laments and confused emotions, this track marking one of the best juxtapositions of this alongside Surfer Blood's more exuberant musicianship.

Further on, the double of Fast.. and Slow Jabroni are true to their titles and provide an ear pricking change of pace, although by the middle of the latter the attention begins to wane as the track descends into an introspective, navel-gazing spiral. Eventually it does shake the funk, however, and recalls that mellow attitude of the opening tracks. Anchorage then covers many bases and gives the guitars an opportunity to wander all across the tones during an elongated jam, before Catholic Pagans closes out Astro Coast with more Brian Wilson vocal harmonies and a final nod to the ever-present Blue album influence.

Without being anything groundbreaking, Surfer Blood have created an album that both delivers on the expectations forged from their influences (big hooks, pop/rock songs worthy of the nebulous 'surf' tag etc) and offers a pleasantly surprising fragile underbelly to boot. The standout catchy songs to accompany Swim do just that, but it's in the more considered emotion of tracks like Harmonix and Twin Peaks that the band let the listener into their world and, in doing so, lend Astro Coast a greater depth.

If forced to choose one song, I still have to plump for the utterly engrossing and immediate stomp of Swim. What I'm happy to find is that there is plenty more on this album to discover, making it a fine way to start the year's purchases for anyone lured in by that excellent track.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Beach House Building

One of the most anticipated releases in the indie world - aside from Spoon's Transference which happily emerged this past week - is Teen Dream from Baltimore duo Beach House.

The band continued their build up to the release next week - they play a sold out launch party in Brooklyn on Tuesday at the Bell House - with this performance of Zebra on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. A better vid should hopefully be forthcoming from the Fallon site soon.

Although the early listens of material from the new album have been extremely promising, with a hazy, lush pop atmosphere permeating the entire record, this transplant into the live setting felt lacklustre and, dare I say, a little dull. Perhaps it was the bare feel emanating from a studio with a sparse crowd and limited sound, but it definitely seemed to lose something from the deeply layered song on Teen Dream.

MP3: Beach House - Gila
Taken from the 2008 album Devotion

Buy it at Insound!

What matters more are the headphone listens in the quiet confines of one's own abode though. This comes across as an album to be enjoyed alone and given full attention, something that should attract a much wider audience to Beach House in the coming weeks.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Trompe L'Oreille

Tarnation, another missed from 2009. I tuned into the excellent French-Canadian fellas in Malajube again today, courtesy of the trusty old iPod shuffle facility. From 16,000 odd tracks, it plucked the relentlessly upbeat MontrĂ©al -40 °C out of the digital ether at just the moment a pick me up was required.

Malajube || MontrĂ©al -40°.

Despite seeing the band earlier last year, it seems I completely neglected the release of their newest effort Labyrinthes. This song hails from their 2006 release Trompe L'Oeil, a gratifyingly eccentric set of songs with a joie de vivre communicated entirely in Malajube's native tongue. The newie is reputedly more adventurous in a progressive sense, which would fit with the live experience I witnessed when walls of noise just about pipped pop hooks to the attending ears.

Whatever they've gone and done, this is one of those that crops up again in January and simply must be heard on the strength of previous material. And right as the releases for this year really start to rear their heads for's going to be a busy few weeks.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

New Video & EP from I Am The Dot

Just a brief stop in this evening to revisit the work of Denver's I Am The Dot

Ever the productive, creative soul, on the one hand this one man music machine takes us back to the delights of the self titled debut EP with a video for Love Song For Camus, then with the other he delivers a brand new EP entitled Winter. All free too....well, the video cost $25, but that's still less than a tank of petrol nowadays. As Dads everywhere with new Christmas toolkits know, DIY is the way forward folks. 

Painstakingly created by the looks of it - I know nothing of such matters, other than that Wallace & Gromit films take over 5 years to make - the stop-motion capture gives this vid a charming, retro feel and jogs pleasingly alongside the song. One of my favourite tunes from the self-titled EP, its subtle, reflective tones are well suited to the exploits of Mr Puzzlehead here. 

Fast forwarding to the new material - graciously, freely available here - we have three new tracks that come with the theme of this frozen season. Similarly stripped down to the bare essentials of feisty acoustic guitar and multi-layered vocal harmonies, the songs here are, for the most part, closer to the Rare Creatures material in feel and nestle well on a playlist with them. Snow Blindness does incorporate some shimmering effects and distant spoken word passages, though, that afford the song an appropriately icy quality. All in all, a beautiful wee slice of the elements to accompany your hazardous walks along unplowed streets.

More videos are mooted soon and with a release every couple of months, new creative sparks from I Am The Dot are satisfyingly regular. Our iPods are all the better for it. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

REVIEW: Baroness - The Blue Record

Looking back over the H-T-A picks for 2009, most of the albums/artists were covered in some form or another throughout the year. The top 10 in particular, understandably, received plenty of attention. With one nagging exception: Baroness and The Blue Record.

Granted, I did nod towards the release beforehand and a video thereafter, but for such a soaring album that managed to nab the number 4 slot, it received no review and all too little mention up to that point. I caught them live in November too but failed to write anything.....double jeopardy?? Either way, the balance shall be redressed right now.

A free-flowing, very natural sounding album, the Blue Record picks upwhere its predecessor (Red Record) left off....then adds infinitely more to the mix. Despite being an excellent record in its own right, Red's chief strength lay in the beefy riffs that lingered long in the memory. Blue offers more space, influence, and a completely enveloping sound. Mastodon are still a close sonic cousin here, but Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss are also in town for the holidays, adding to the chaos. This, however, is controlled chaos. Everything on Blue feels finely honed, tuned to the exact calibration required for any given moment within a song.

Buy it at Insound!

The Sweetest Curse bridges the two releases perfectly, resurrecting the powerful riffs once again whilst adding moments that wander more widely, peeking into cracks that the band may previously have ignored. As one ventures deeper into the album, Baroness linger more and more in these nooks, digging out new ideas and taking them along for the rest of the ride. Jake Leg winds and turns with athletic pace, still finding moments to breathe and let the guitar heroics take centre stage but always keeping the listener engaged. Steel That Sleeps... slows things for a moment, replete with meditative vocals and sleepy acoustics, only to herald a threatening finale that announces Swollen & Halo in an ominous manner. The latter builds into a driving Colossus, finding innumberable ways to show off the band's furious beauty.
A Horse Called Golgotha perhaps best demonstrates the allure of the album as a whole, if a snapshot were needed. With bombastic enthusiasm, it walks the line between the brash vehemence of heavy metal and the graceful positivity that bands like Torche have recently embraced. Elsewhere the reverb drenched guitars echo the fine influence of Dinosaur Jr. Everything mixed together with masterful strokes and an expert ear. O'er Hell And Hide also charges along with a confidence that only a band with this true mastery of their art can achieve. Integrating sampled quotes only adds to the atmosphere, but the key is again in the skilled playing that opens and closes sonic paths as quickly as the riffs jink and turn.

The preamble to this gushing obviously gives away the game, that this is a top notch album and one that graced the final part of the year with power and poise. The albums ahead of Blue would probably still have been there even if it had been released much earlier. But it would certainly have had more time to settle and give them a damn good run for their money.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Persistence Isn't Futile

If, as Einstein believed, the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over expecting different results, San Franciscan indie rock crew Collider may well be sitting in the corner of their practice space, underpants atop their heads, pencils in each nostril, frequently muttering "awibble". The same e-mail  announcing their new (free) BBM EP having popped into my inbox on several occasions since the turning of the year. 

That said, theirs may actually be a case of pure Machiavellian cunning, as here I type this having listened to said release many times. And it's really rather good, so perhaps that would make me the loony in this particular instance, then?

The songs on this EP sit comfortably alongside its artwork, creating a densely layered spectrum of sound that somehow breathes space into this crowded environment. Meanwhile, the vocals glide effortlessly between all the musical elements in a manner that brings to mind a less depressive Jeremy Enigk fronting Sunny Day Real Estate

MP3: Collider - Time Concerns
Taken from the new BBM EP, available for free at Bandcamp

The keystone of Collider's expansive sound is the guitar work, constantly building walls of reverb heavy sonics that would fall into the category of noise were they not so tenderly crafted and carefully defined. Listen no further than the misleadingly titled Take A Stress Pill for proof, as the calming tones weave patiently in and out of one another, patiently piecing together a gorgeous mosaic of sound. There are elements of post-rock to be found, with said tones hitting the touchstones of instrumental bands like Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You, though the vocals and brevity of most songs limit those comparisons too.

So, despite the fact that I would refrain from encouraging multiple unedited submissions to humble pages such as these, there remains the truth that if your music is so worthy of being heard as this then the persistence is undoubtedly warranted. 

Collider craft elegant, spacious music that both soothes and stimulates, making it all the more pleasant to discover they also have their debut Down In The Saturines available for free. They also play their next show in San Francisco this coming Friday 22nd at the Rockit Room. If you reside out that way, be sure to reward them with your presence and a bit of green, so that they may continue creating material for my inbox.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Hot Blooded

First week of the year? Largely spent indulging nostalgia with 90's alt rock and stumbling around balancing missed releases of '09 with those soon to see the light of day in 2010, if I'm honest. 

This last week has been much more productive, however, with a far better handle on which bands will be releasing new material in the next few months. In some cases this has yielded a preview mp3 or two, one of which is, happily, Blood Red Shoes.

The Brighton duo first caught attention in the UK with a stream of singles in 2007, leading up to their fiery debut, Box of Secrets, the following year. They return this year with a follow up that, in the words of the band, "feels a lot darker and eerie. It has more complex song structures and intricate guitar parts than before".

This definitely rings true on lead off track Colours Fade - available free, as you can see above - as the song builds from the quiet but ominous drum pounding  intro to a crescendo of guitars, haunting singing, and backing vocals that chant relentlessly, as if to drive the listener into a state of catatonia. This does indeed feel more exploratory and bleaker than the spindly, upbeat indie rock sound that powered their debut. 

Bands will rarely speak up and admit to shooting for the exact same style they delivered on previous albums, so often the generic response wheeled out will be darker/faster/harder/bettererer etc. In the case of  Fire Like This though, it feels like they may well have produced something worthy of these darker musings.

MP3: Blood Red Shoes - I Wish I Was Someone Better
Taken from the debut album Box of Secrets, out now 

Blood Red Shoes tour Europe in this first quarter, building up to the release of the album right at the start of March. It will be intriguing to hear whether the type of fire hinted at on Colours Fade blazes into an inferno engulfing the album as a whole.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Hey Unseensters

Another release I pretty much missed the boat on last year, aside from the raw throwback 80's mope of single Cheat On Me, was The Cribs' fourth effort Ignore The Ignorant. Unfortunate, given that it features Johnny Marr joining the brothers Jarman on guitar and adding an intriguing element to their existing rough and ready sound.

A full review will be upcoming by way of making amends, so in the meantime just dig on one of their older tracks here and compare to the shimmering contributions made by Mr Marr on their newer material, well showcased here live on Jools Holland.

MP3: The Cribs - Hey Scenesters! (via Insound)

The band also play in NYC at Irving Plaza tomorrow night, if you have a spare 25 duckets burning a hole in your pocket. Having seen the former Smiths man do his thing with Modest Mouse a few years ago, I can judge it cheap at twice the price for that experience alone.

"I could be someone else if you'd rather,
Try to win you over like a new step father,
Smart but still a sucker for whoever asks you.
I pictured the scene,
so you won't have to spell it out for me"

Thursday, 14 January 2010

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

'Dream pop'......

It's been scattered throughout the daily plays here during the first two weeks of the year, what with the exquisite new Beach House sinking in, various Asobi Seksu releases being revisited, and now courtesy of the rather sublime tones of Canadian duo Memoryhouse.

As a resolute Brit, I will of course lament the American application of our mother tongue from time to time. In this case, however, I find myself firmly on the side of the Yankee contingent, as the dream pop tag is a far more appealing and accurate description than the more widely used shoegaze label. As if to prove the point, Memoryhouse last week unveiled their new EP The Years, an exercise in minimalist synths, hazy guitars, and floating vocals. The dreamlike quality to the music contained herein is undeniable. 

MP3: Memoryhouse - Sleep Patterns
Taken from new EP The Years, available for free now

Such minimalism always holds the potential for tedium if applied without craft, a pitfall that Memoryhouse sidestep with grace and poise. The four songs here are short and varied enough to hold the attention. Sleep Patterns floats in unobtrusively on a gentle loop and ethereal vocal, easing in a beat here and a guitar there for added atmosphere. If anything, Lately (Deuxieme) is even more soothing, descending as a musical mist across its brief 3 minutes.  

The Waves adds just a little extra kick, with a touch more bass providing the undercurrent to a track that isn't entirely removed from the more contemplative moments of Portishead or Massive Attack. Then to close proceedings, To The Lighthouse returns the soporific element of their sound, conjuring the exact form of dreamlike landscape that has been pervading my speakers since the decade turned.


Set alongside the (justifiable) clamour to praise that new Beach House record Teen Dream, Memoryhouse fully deserve to receive some of that attention for this generously free EP. 

And if it proliferates the use of that particular genre label, you'll hear no linguistic objections from this cantankerous Limey.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Rest In Peace Jay Reatard (1980 - 2010)

Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr, better known to the indie rock community as Jay Reatard passed away earlier today in his sleep. Just 29 years young, he was a renowned and dynamic creator of music adored by a great many people.

Despite not having listened to a large amount of his recorded output, I've been increasingly aware of his reputation over the last couple of years, both for making vibrant rock music and his live energy.

As is the nature of death in the music world, many more will now seek out his creations and perhaps this is as fitting a memorial as any musician could wish for.

Condolences to his family, friends, and everyone else his music touched.

MP3: Jay Reatard - Always Wanting More 
(via Matador Records)

Rest In Peace

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Each and every year, around this time, I find a slew of releases from the previous year that inexplicably (inexcusably) passed me by.
Sometimes it's simple procrastination. Fine, can't listen to everything in just twelve months, right? Others, the release flew right under the radar. And when it's a band as vibrantly engaging as punk hardcore vets Strike Anywhere, it becomes a most perplexing matter.

When I picked up their 2003 release Exit English, all that I really expected were some fast, aggressive tunes with which to soundtrack the drive to the Warped tour that year. What I in fact received was a set of timeless, thought-provoking songs that took all the reactionary zeal of punk and injected savvy songwriting with huge hooks to keep the rock kids singing along. In summary, I really liked these fast, aggressive tunes.

Since then, the band has released a solid follow up in Dead FM, albeit one that is somewhat in the shadow of its excellent predecessor. Then, last autumn, they dropped - apparently - a new record on Bridge Nine called Iron Front. The lead off track of which is called Your Opposite Number and is an absolute belter (that's good, Yankee types). It harks back to the simultaneously confrontational and optimistic message delivered time after time on Exit English, updating the subject matter for the current trials of financial meltdown and increasingly segregated cultural identities. It's urgent, vital, and makes you want to be right down the front at their next show.

MP3: Strike Anywhere -  
Your Opposite Number
Taken from the new album Iron First, out now

Buy it at Insound!

Of course, I can't yet judge how the whole album squares up to the quality of that landmark '03 release - hence this post, savvy? - but this is one hell of a flashing neon sign pointing to the fact that it comes close. I should soon be able to pass a more fully considered opinion as I endeavour to catch up, so in the meantime I would suggest  seeking out their most lauded work first, then most likely following up with this newie.

If you want your music energetic and packed with visionary punk attitude, this is one band not to let travel beneath your radar.

"Lower the flags, 
Raise up the earth,
Freedom 'til death,
Death until birth"

Monday, 11 January 2010

Please, Release Me

To neatly bookend the Ten For '10 series, I thought I would recap the bands featured and throw in a few releases by established artists. Y'know, those that were already whetting the whistle in the latter parts of 2009 but which were obscured by the myriad lists required of the season?

So then, those bands to keep an eye on in full: 

Surfer Blood (Palm Beach, FL)

We Are Country Mice (Brooklyn, NY) 

And So I ...Watch You From Afar (Belfast, UK) 

The Minutes (Dublin, IE) 

4 or 5 Magicians (Brighton, UK)

Bagheera (Liverpool, UK)

Revocation (Boston, MA)

The Besnard Lakes (Montreal, Canada) 

Dinosaur Feathers (Brooklyn, NY) 

Dead Confederate (Athens, GA) 

And some exciting releases to keep your peepers peeled for in the coming months:

Spoon - Transference (Released Jan 19th)

Just in time, stream the whole shebang here, courtesy of NPR.
>> It's a new Spoon jam, what else need be said? Go take a listen. 

Buy it at Insound!

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast (Released Jan 19th)

>> See Ten For 10 feature.

Buy it at Insound!

Beach House - Teen Dream (Released Jan 26th)

MP3: Beach House - Lover Of Mine

>> Gloriously skittering dream pop, this isn't one I had anticipated too heavily until I heard 'Norway'. Now I'm hooked with the hazy musical land of this Maryland duo.

Buy it at Insound!

Retribution Gospel Choir - 2 (Released Jan 26th)

MP3: Retribution Gospel Choir - Hide It Away

>> Another I wasn't totally tuned into until the fine fellas at Knox Road gave a heads up in December. This track showcases a dynamic, sweeping take on rock that engages immediately.
Buy it at Insound!

Midlake - The Courage of Others (Released Feb 2nd)

MP3: Midlake - Acts of Man
>> I'll write and write and write s'more about how utterly enamoured I am with 'The Trials of Van Occupanther', so imagine my anticipation for their first release in four years. The initial tracks sound similarly whimsical and utterly absorbing....but I shall refrain from gushing until the full listen.
Buy it at Insound!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Ten for '10: Dead Confederate

Inevitably, as another musical year dawns, we begin to move from the favourites that kept us company the previous 364 days and speculate at which bands might fuel our fire during the next 12 months.   

Finishing off the set, I'm inclined to look back to 2008 for a band I hope will finally catch some attention in 2010, namely Dead Confederate of Athens, GA.

Strange as it may seem to travel well back to tout a band for the coming year, it does in fact mirror my actual experience with their music. Having caught Dead Confederate supporting Manchester Orchestra in late '08, I was blown away by the atmosphere and attitude with which they enveloped the room. Summoning all the demons of the grunge era and contorting them, via thick Southern grooves, into some resurrected alternative beast, the result was compelling. Unfortunately I failed to purchase any of their merch, found none forthcoming on subsequent searches at home, and the band slowly crept back off my radar.

MP3: Dead Confederate - Shadow The Walls (live)
Taken from the Dirty Ammo EP, available in various shapes and sizes here


Happily, a tour with A Place To Bury Strangers brought everything back into focus last autumn and catch up ensued. The debut record, Wrecking Ball, is out and showcasing some of those tunes that so impressed live. Furthermore, a new live EP has crept out over the holiday period, offering a prime opportunity to gain back the lost ground. 

Dead Confederate took their feral alt-rock across Europe towards the end of last year and appear to have made a positive impression on that side of the water. Though the sound and style isn't du jour, there is an authenticity and passion to the music that should be much more important. With a powerful live show also swaying new fans to their corner, the band certainly have many of the qualities required to spread their music by good old word of mouth and reputation alone. Just don't make the same mistake as I did and sit on them for a year.