Wednesday, 28 July 2010

I'm So Rrronely: Harper Blynn Hit the Charts With New Video

On holidays this week, so apologies for the scarcity of posts. It's worth taking a second to note the swanky new video from our New York buds in Harper Blynn, however, which is taking the MTVu charts by storm.

Another catchy, melodic number and the title track from their splendid debut album, Loneliest Generation, these pages have thrown more or less all the superlatives available at them already, so enjoying the vid is all that's really suggested here. 

And, if you feel so inclined, helping continue their dominance on the charts. Enjoy!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Rising Above The Crowd: Freedom Or Death Soar With New Video

As a city of over 8 million people swelters in fiendishly hot summer days, is it so wrong for one to wish, albeit momentarily, for freezing and tranquil tundra regions?

Possibly. Though I excuse myself, in this case, as it affords the opportunity to introduce a Canadian duo called Freedom Or Death.

Newly formed but relative veterans of other musical endeavours up there, these chaps seem to be pursuing particularly organic sounds in this guise, both in sonic and visual terms. Their sole video for the rather cinematic This Crowded Room is a case in point, with its look at Inuit types traversing frozen, largely unexplored parts of the world. 

Musically it's a free-flowing, floating track, with subsumed beats gently nudging their way from the base to occasionally pop a head above the surface for air. Gentle xylophone tones add a Sigur Ros quality without ever pushing for the orchestral heights of that comparison. Instead, Freedom Or Death keep things light and endearing in their approach, lending the song an innocent beauty.

Not having had time to check out their debut EP as yet, that's the next move on my 'to-do' - or 'to-listen', really - list. You can check it out for yourselves here on Myspace first, then do the respectable thing and drop a few $$ in their pockets here if you dig it.

If it follows in the alluringly cool vein of This Crowded Room, it may well prove to be just the escapist flight required to get away from the rigours of a packed, superheated city. 

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Payback: Time To Show Beat Radio Some Love

H-T-A has always found favour in the hard-working endeavours of bands willing to shoot a few tunes to the fans for free. In that particular kingdom, Beat Radio and its main man Brian Sendrowitz are surely royalty, with several full albums and a singles series available for nowt on the group website.

If you're anything like me you'll be digging these tunes and, from time to time, feel a twinge in the old gut that one should really contribute something to such heartfelt efforts. Well, now is the time to assuage that troubled conscience, as Beat Radio are seeking some assistance from fans to gather funds for their first vinyl release. This will be a proposed 10" for the marvellous singles series track Golden Age

MP3: Beat Radio - Golden Age

Appropriately the song is about "laying it all on the line, and expecting everything in return. It's about believing in your dreams." In this case, it would be outstanding if we can all get together and chip in to help Beat Radio just a little to that next step. 

Donations towards the $1800 total are being gather via a Kickstarter project, with rewards for various levels of pledge. It closes on Saturday August 14th, so let's get on this one and give back to a very deserving band. What say you?

Monday, 19 July 2010

#MusicMonday - Songs in 140 Characters (Or Less) | Recommendation Run

"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences; what others say in a whole book."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

So it's been a while since #MusicMondays last surfaced here, what with the World Cup posts and summer freebie notifications, but I feel a penchant to unearth its still twitching corpse and ram a few thousand volts through it, nonetheless. 

To switch it up a bit however, let's introduce the random factor and allow Last.FM's recommendations radio to pick the songs in line for some succinct analysis. I'll simply set it to play and dispense summary justice as it pops into my grey matter. Here goes....

Somewhat plodding musically but brimming w/ attitude & Doves-esque confidence vocally. Derivative but encouraging a listen of other material. 

Plants & AnimalsFaerie Dance [Stream via Secret City Records Band Page] 
Loose, lilting pysch-indie that sounds exactly as its lyrics describe; a slightly surreal, aimless wander through the woods. Rather alluring.

Blind Pilot - Paint or Pollen 
Pleasant but ultimately bland sounding acoustic folk-type number. Seems like there are now scores of similar chaps plowing this furrow, no?

Horse Feathers - Walking & Running
...and another. That said, this is short, subtle beauty in a Bon Iver vein. Seems to be the voice, which conveys substantial heart in 2 mins. 

Very lo-fi, submerged sound that seems out of context, as though it requires the album experience to make sense. One for the headphones.

Another psychedelically inclined indie-rock number which again feels like it shouldn't stand alone. Pretty but understated. Pretty understated?

So, Last.FM appears to think I need to kick back and listen to a metric shitton of lackadaisical indie with druggy leanings. Not entirely complaining but there is of course very little time to get sucked into such activities, unless one's parents are funding the NYC lifestyle. Which they are not right here. 

The other difficulty lies in the songs it selects not necessarily being readily available in MP3 or video format, so here are some alternatives from the same bands where this wasn't the case. 

MP3: Horse Feathers - Belly of June (via Insound)
Taken from the new LP Thistled Spring - BUY
MP3: The Ruby Suns - Cranberry (via Insound) 
Taken from the new LP Fight Softly - BUY

MP3: GAYNGS - The Gaudy Side of Town (via Jagjaguwar) 
MP3: GAYNGS - Faded High (via Jagjaguwar) 
Taken from the new LP Related - BUY

Thoughts? Waste of time or intriguing music suggestion engine experiment? you can let rip, I've a thick hide. Comment or Facebook us up. 

At the very least, I'll be looking into some more Plants & Animals.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Synth Success: Murder Mystery Cool Down Brooklyn

With sporadic listening from the charismatic Britpop of Blur, through the more downbeat shoegaze of Wye Oak, and on to the aggressive raging of the new Deftones material, I've struggled to plug into some upbeat summer jams to accompany the oppressive heat here in the last month or so. Last year Phoenix filled that role very effectively early on. This year? A deficit. 
Step forward, then, NY purveyors of immediately engaging indie-pop Murder Mystery.

With two new songs recently unveiled, each with a different singer, the band explores the use of understated synths and upbeat melodies to craft nuggets of pop with just a slight nod to the classic synth acts of the 80's. Both have a light summer air to them, blending seamlessly into a sunshine stroll (though perhaps some baked stoner rock would be more appropriate for the record temps we've been experiencing...?). 

MP3: Murder Mystery - I Am (If You Are)
MP3: Murder Mystery - Change My Mind

Plumping for one, I'd probably take the slightly more charming tones of Change My Mind, though each has its unique attractions. Best bet? Take a listen for yourself as you enjoy a summer weekend lounge-around, see which fits best. Then if you're hungry for more (and catch this early enough) Murder Mystery plays the new Knitting Factory in Williamsburg tonight. More details on that here.

So the sounds of summer are officially beginning to take hold. What's brightening up your listening as you crank the A/C to breaking point?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Wye Oak Return to NYC: Siren Festival & Mercury Lounge Show Planned

Having fallen well and truly for the music of Wye Oak during their Shearwater support slot this past Spring, repeated listens of last year's The Knot and their impending Siren Festival appearance today require a check in with the band.

The Maryland band released the My Neighbor/My Creator EP in April and following a great reception on the aforementioned support, have another slew of East coast US dates, as well as some in Canada, planned in smaller clubs this autumn [details below]. This includes a visit to the fairly intimate Mercury Lounge, in which their very personal, introspective shoegaze should resonate particularly well.

MP3: Wye Oak - Take It In (From 2009's The Knot - via Insound)
MP3: Wye Oak - Warning (From 2008's If Children - via Insound)

Buy it at Insound!

As if all this weren't enough, the duo were recently joined by Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater to cover The Kinks' original Strangers. You can check that out at The Onion's AV Club page here.

Upcoming Tour Dates for Wye Oak:

07/17/10 - Brooklyn, NY @ Siren Festival
07/20/10 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s w/ Deer Tick
07/22/10 - Washington, DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Deer Tick
07/25/10 - Baltimore, MD @ Whartscape
08/18/10 - Washington, DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel w/ Lou Barlow
08/19/10 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle w/ Lou Barlow
08/20/10 - Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle w/ Lou Barlow
08/21/10 - Nashville, TN @ The Basement w/ Lou Barlow
08/23/10 - Madison, WI @ The Frequency w/ Lou Barlow
08/25/10 - Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar w/ Lou Barlow
08/26/10 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern w/ Lou Barlow
08/27/10 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop w/ Lou Barlow
08/28/10 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern w/ Lou Barlow
08/29/10 - Montreal, QC @ Il Motore w/ Lou Barlow
08/31/10 - Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse w/ Lou Barlow
09/01/10 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ Lou Barlow
09/02/10 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East w/ Lou Barlow
09/03/10 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s w/ Lou Barlow

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

LIVE REVIEW: Bear In Heaven / Zola Jesus @ South Street Sea Port, NYC

 The South St Sea port in downtown Manhattan is a supremely scenic, if somewhat incongruous setting for an indie-rock gig. What with the unsuspecting tourists milling around and the after-work suits starting their weekend libations, the thrift-shop clad rock crowd are almost in a minority . 

Nonetheless, the River-to-River series returns to the area for another year, with a promising schedule of events. One of the first of which is this varied psych-fest with Brooklyn's Bear In Heaven, supported by Wisconsinites Zola Jesus.

As a surprise bonus, we also get a few songs from YellowFever. Scheduled to play the previous week but detained due to a knife incident less dramatic than it sounds, they warm the crowd up with some minimal, stuttering numbers that both intrigue and confuse in equal measure. A full set would be required to comprehend exactly what they're shooting for but it's interesting to take in as a little extra.

The scheduled programming resumes as Zola Jesus - essentially the project of singer Roza Danilova and her powerful backing guitarist - take the stage. On a greying night belying the oppressive sun and heat that preceded it all week, their introspective no-wave revival strains to fit the atmosphere but is always at odds with the mixed crowd and undeniably summer feel. Danilova's voice fluctuates in tone and timbre, a powerful hook as the music floats around the large open space, and the guitar swirls underneath it. At her best, she's every inch the captivating and enigmatic indie diva, emotional and on edge. At times the songs fall flat though and attention begins to wander. In a dark and moody club room, however, one has to feel Zola Jesus would own our souls. 

MP3: Zola Jesus - Clay Bodies (via Last.FM)
MP3: Zola Jesus - Devil Take You (via Last.FM)

Buy it at Insound!
With more of an accessible side to their particular take on psychedelia, Bear In Heaven fare much better in winning over the masses. Their songs have the intricate instrumental meanderings familiar to the style but, crucially, they anchor their sound in passages that can best be described as 'huge', in a not dissimilar manner to Muse. Singer Jon Philpot's high-pitched tones set off the more moody, low end guitar work going on behind him, with his synthesized effects adding pleasingly to the electronic maelstrom. 

MP3: Bear In Heaven - Lovesick Teenagers (via Last.FM)
MP3: Bear In HeavenWholehearted Mess (via Last.FM)

Buy it at Insound!
The biggest cheer of the set is reserved for the familiar understated charm of Lovesick Teenagers, a great track but trumped for this listener by the moments when this often restrained band simply slip the shackles and let their sound run free. At those points, these Brooklyn chaps sound ready for the arenas and have the varied audience eating out of their collective hands. 

The band now heads out on an extensive tour that covers much of the USA and takes in Europe too, so do head out and catch them at your very first opportunity, dear friends.

Next up at the Seaport this Friday is Thee Oh Sees, who have a renowned live reputation if I recall correctly, alongside the less enthusing Golden Triangle and the unknown-to-me-as-yet So Cow. Love these summer freebies.

For some striking photographic memories of the evening, take a butchers at Brooklyn Vegan's coverage too.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

That American Twang: The Gaslight Anthem Return With New Vid + Album

One album in particularly heavy rotation here at the moment is American Slang, the latest effort from Jersey boys The Gaslight Anthem. It's another slice of nostalgia for a bygone US way of life, in keeping with their debut but moving things on in enough ways to feel like a solid stride forwards.

This new video for the title track gives a good idea of what the band achieve on the newie, all wistful word and tone from singer Brian Fallon, overlaying simple but engaging melodies and beats from the band behind him. It's the sound of a band stepping into their developing position as mainstream rock staples, with songs that could certainly chart but not lose the honesty with which they're imbued simply because they suddenly cover the airwaves. 

Buy it at Insound!

Despite only a brief period with the record, I'm already envisioning it sound tracking upcoming road trips and summer moments, a sure sign of a year highlight. And if it can top the return value of the 2008's The '59 Sound, we'll be onto a real winner here. Furthermore, you can stream the whole thing at Rolling Stone, to prove just how utterly right that is. 

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Around the World (Cup) In 30 Days: Australia

In a race against the clock - otherwise known as the final on July 11th - H-T-A is attempting to check out artists from around the 32 nations competing at the World Cup Finals in South Africa. Check out the rest of the posts to date here.

Australia may have faced an uphill struggle before even kicking off, not to mention being dismantled by a mercurial German team early on (a sign of things to come, England and Argentina, eh?), but the plucky Aussie spirit never relented and kept them interested right to the last few minutes of the group games.

Similarly spirited and proving his worth in a tough foreign environment is Lucas Kane Hall. This charismatic Australian import to New York City has it all to do, with plenty of singer-songwriters pounding the subways and venues every day just trying to get noticed, but one listen to his new album My Name In Wingdings shows just why he has a head start. 

From smouldering introspection (Stars & Blue) to breezy, upbeat sing alongs (Tomorrow), the release has plenty for everyone and runs the range of emotion, relying no little on the singer's soulful, passionate vocal.

MP3: Lucas Kane Hall - Tomorrow
Taken from the album My Name In Wingdings

Currently available for free, there's every reason to check out the release on this Bandcamp page. Even if the Socceroos couldn't take up as much of our summer as we might have liked, the songs from My Name In Wingdings have a much stronger chance of making a big impact. Provided no German artists come along to spoil the fun, of course. Achtung.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Free Wheelin': Gratis Gigs In NYC This Week

As mentioned last week, the summer freebies will come think and fast in New York City now that July is upon us. 

Here are a few options if you'll be in the city this week and want to enjoy the sunshine with some quality tunes:

Wednesday 7th July

12:30pm - Left on Red at Zuccotti Park (Financial District, Lower Manhattan)
Rock duo hitting the strings with some vibrant violin work. Lunch time treat for our banker 'chums'. More info...

Thursday 8th July

6pm - Phosphorescent + Dawes at Pier 54 (Meatpacking District, Manhattan)
Indie folk songsmithery hits the river front for the first of the River Rocks series. Having caught Yeasayer at the same place last year, I'm plumping for this spot as my favourite so far, as the sun sets over the Hudson and lush tunes are played on a seemingly forgotten pier. Check out Phosphorescent's 'All of it All' (via Insound) and a free tune from Dawes here. More info...

Friday 9th July 

6pm - Bear In Heaven + Zola Jesus at South Street Seaport (Financial District, Lower Manhattan)
Very excited for this one, with Bear's 'Lovesick Teenagers' (MP3) firmly implanted in my synapses for the last month and good words coming from the U.K. on Zola Jesus ('Clay Bodies' MP3). Start your weekend with this one, if you like your psychedelia melodic and blissful. More info...

Sunday 11th July  

5pm - OkayAfrica w/ The Roots, Talib Kweli & many more at Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Celebration of World Cup Final day and the amazing tournament put on for the first time in Africa. A quite stellar line up that promises surprise sets and who knows what else, once the footy has wrapped up for another four years, of course. An amazing way to spend a sunny day in my borough of choice. More info...

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Around The World (Cup) In 30 Days:England / U.S.A.

In a race against the clock - otherwise known as the final on July 11th - H-T-A is attempting to check out artists from around the 32 nations competing at the World Cup Finals in South Africa. Check out the rest of the posts to date here.

So this one will be short & sweet for the holidays, as we cover English and US bands alllll the time here. 

The Three Lions failed miserably, more or less, even if there should have been a second goal and the humbling of favourites Argentina by the same German kids makes the victory look less enormous with hindsight. Team U.S.A. - get a better nickname would you? - won lots of friends but eventually still succumbed to a powerful Ghanaian squad on the same day....deja vu, given the result 4 years prior. 

So a tune each from the album Blew It Again by New Yorkers Electric Tickle Machine will work just fine in our coverage of these two countries and their abortive attempts to reach the quarter final stages. 

The U.S.A. gets Honest Injun for their sincere efforts...

MP3: Electric Tickle Machine - Honest Injun
Taken from the album Blew It Again

Buy it at Insound! 

... while the broken, aging England team gets the new video for Bones, as Don Fabio will almost certainly have to go back to the bare ones of his team and start almost from scratch for the next campaign (Euro 2012...England Expects...blah blah bloody blah!


So, back to the real ones this week. On double time, probably, given that there are now only 7 days and 4 games left....eeek, how long until the new domestic season kicks off?