Category Archives: New Music Tuesdays

New Music Tuesday: PJ Harvey, Surf City, Tune-Yards, Drive-By Truckers, and Mogwai

Occasionally, we post on the week’s new music released on Tuesdays. You’d think, given the name, that it was a weekly feature: you’d be wrong.

PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

I wasn’t enthralled by Harvey’s White Chalk, which articulated itself in a sustained whisper. And the first time I heard Let England Shake on NPR’s preview feed, I questioned its worth. But what a difference fidelity makes. As soon as I started streaming it on MOG and its beautiful 320kbps ($5/month for 8 million tracks; Try MOG free!), I was enthralled. Layers of weirdness. An album about war that is chilling and beautiful. Standout track is “The Words That Maketh Murder:” pedaled high-tone guitar, punchy brass, a singsongy refrain, and lyrics about war’s horrors… all yielding to an (ironic? contrapuntal? pleading?) query “What if I took my problem to the United Nations?” borrowed from Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues.”

PJ_Harvey, “The Words That Maketh Murder”
Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues”

Surf City, Kudos

The last time we tuned into New Zealand’s Surf City, we were trying to start a continental shelf war with Australia via their “Icy Lakes”. With an album’s worth of 90s haze, New Zealand has some good ammunition. None of it measures up to the heights of “Icy Lakes,” but it’s a solid effort, and they’re at close to their best when they don their Pavement hat in “Teachers.”

Surf City, “Teachers”

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Object Attachment

The last time +/- {plus/minus} updated their blog was on my birthday, Jan 3. The last time I saw some of the band members’ previous outfit, Versus, live was Jan 3 some years ago. Isn’t that a pointless, delightful little coincidence that absolutely no one cares about but me?

On the subject of object attachment, I recently read research that has found that people–duh–attach special significance to the number of their birthday. But I would argue that there’s no bias here; 3 is clearly the best number.

+/- {plus/minus} just released a CD of previously unreleased tracks, Pulled Punches. So far, so good. But, plus/minus: Could you have thought about the industry & bloggers when you constructed this stupid, stupid band name? FYI, you are pretty much unfindable on allmusic.com.

I’m posting the track “Pencil Me In.” Does anyone know if the track “All Dead, All Dead” is an Elliot Smith tribute? It certainly sounds like it is, in content and form.

I’m also posting a Versus track, one of my faves, “Shooting Star.” Anyone who makes an album titled Deep Red deserves our respect. Because deep red clearly is the best color, and not because my birthstone is garnet.

+/- {Plus/Minus}: “Pencil Me In”

Versus: “Shooting Star”

You can buy Pulled Punches on the band’s website or download the MP3 album here.

Posted in New Music Tuesdays, Where You're From | 1 Comment

1 + 1=10

I’ve been a Stereolab junkie for quite some time. Laetitia Sadier’s vocals and lyrics catapulted the band far beyond its Neu! foundations, creating a lush, layered, and hypnotic sound that was driven by 60s ambient pop, yet still politically grounded and fresh. I’ve always been curious to hear solo work from Sadier, because I’ve always understand her Stereolab partner Tim Gane to be the mind behind the instrumentation and Sadier to be responsible for lyrics and vocalization.

And so I am not surprised that I’m feeling unsure about the first song off Sadier’s first solo release, The Trip, to be traveling around the I-way, “The Million-Year Trip.” It’s stripped-down Stereolab, beautiful, but without the punch and complexity, sonically speaking. What remains are Sadier’s lyrics, which betray the depth Stereolab has always been famous for. In “One Million Year Trip,” Sadier sings her sister’s suicide:

“My little sister’s voice / Forever muted, inaudible / She went on a million year trip / And left everything behind.”

Just as I’d always go see one of my acting heroes, such as Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren, even if they were in B heist police procedural horror films involving Poltergeists (just combined all of my least favorite genres), I’ll buy Sadier’s album and give it the full listen.

Laetitia Sadier: “One Million Year Trip”

Although I was not a fan of Atlas Sound’s full album last year, despite Brad Cox’s new status as the darling of the indie world, I loved what I consider to be one of the strongest tracks off it and that 2009 had to offer, “Quick Canal,” the one Sadier sings on and obviously had a strong role in, because the song is much more layered than most of the other tracks on the album and features Stereolab’s classic drone and repetition.

Atlas Sound: “Quick Canal”

Also out this week are two things I have less to say about. People are losing their lunch over The Hundred in the Hands’ new synth pop post-punk release, their debut album. Here’s “Dressed in Dresden”:

The Hundred in the Hands: “Dressed in Dresden”

I waffle over Gucci Mane, but not over this track of his sophomore release The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted, which features N.E.R.D. frontman Pharell Williams and Nicki Minaj. I refuse to say “Haterade” out loud, though. Luckily, this is a music blog, and I don’t have to.

Gucci Mane: “Haterade”

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New Stuff

My favorite album from last week, good experimental electronica to write to from Gold Panda’s mixmaster Derwin:

Gold Panda

Gold Panda: “You” [Buy]

The experimental:

New York outfit Mice Parade plays around with various genres on their well-titled album What It Means to Be Left-Handed, an interesting, although perhaps not start-to-finish compelling, release. The first track plays with African instrumentation and somewhere near the middle, they cover the Lemonheads’ Mallo Cup, what ends up being the most accessible song on the album, although a disappointingly straightforward cover.

Mice Parade: “In-Between Times” [Buy]

The hyped:

Kings of Leon: “Radioactive” from their upcoming (October) full release

The jury’s out on:

There’s nothing offensive or particularly intriguing about Junip’s release release Fields. Junip is Jose Gonzalez, whose music I like very much, plus two others whose contributions to the album are kind of hard to note, and that’s why my early reaction to the album is not terribly positive. Junip is basically Gonzalez with a little pip. What I love about an artist such as Erlend Oye is that in each of his side projects (such as Kings of Convenience), I recognize his voice, but the different sound compels me to ask, “is this Erlend Oye?” Not the case here. Although this track probably has the most aural interest:

Junip: “Sweet & Bitter” [Buy]

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New Music Tuesdays: the Black Angels, "Telephone"

Back at the end of June, when the Black Angels leaked “Bad Vibrations,” the first single off their upcoming third full-length album, I marked Sept 14 on my calendar.  Phosphene Dream is out today and right now they’re streaming the whole thing free from their website.

If you are a fan of the psychedelic sounds of the late 60s/early 70s, and I believe it has been conclusively demonstrated (with graphs!) that we are, then do yourself a favor and check out their performance on David Letterman of a song thematically similar to but in most other ways quite different from “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.

Here’s the album version:
The Black Angels, “Telephone” [Buy]

Posted in Minutemusic, New Music Tuesdays | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

.Visceral.

I always love it when I start to listen to an album and it hits me in the viscera, you know, those base places. Such is the case with Autolux’s newest release, Transit Transit. Part electronic, part post-punk, the L.A. trio add something new to a sound molded off bands such as Sonic Youth & Nirvana. Or perhaps I’m just particularly susceptible to this fusion.

Autolux: “Highchair”

Posted in New Music Tuesdays, Random Noise | 3 Comments

Arcade Fire Plus ABBA: A Sprawling Match

I’ve been reserving judgement on the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, which dropped today. I never fully embraced Funeral until after I became obsessed Neon Bible. And it took me five or so listens (and about a million on-repeat listens of closer “My Body Is a Cage”) to fall for Neon Bible.

But having listened to The Suburbs a good number of times now, I can safely say that this album is going to continue growing on me. And seeing them, with openers Spoon, knock the socks off Philly’s Mann Center last night, against a beautiful and rain-threatening sky, seals the deal. I still feel like it’s a little fatty, that a song or two could be cut, or at least some of them shortened. But it’s an album to be excited about.

Even as its focus moves from politics writ large to the smallness of suburban life, the music has become richer, more bombastic. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” is the standout, both because it (soft) rocks and because it sounds nothing like the rest of the album, or anything else Arcade Fire has produced. Lil’ brother William Butler (were his parents Yeats fans?) told WXPN yesterday that the working title was “That Abba Song.” I might quibble and suggest “That Late Abba Song,” but with a track this synthed-up and driven, why be such a musical stick in the mud?

Arcade Fire, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

Buy The Suburbs at Amazon.

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Happy Post-Monday!

Don't the Sunbirds look sunny?

Today Rdio gifted me the Sunbirds, whose EP River Run is filled with great melodies, lyrics, and an indie rock beat. The band members apparently hail from London, L.A., and France, and people are claiming they can hear this in the music’s eclecticism, and maybe they can.

Rdio also recently exposed me to a band I’m not sure how I’ve missed for so long, being as Boards of Canada Orb-esque as it is, but it’s fitting that I post Marumari’s “Searching for the Sasha Wolf” today, after a night of hearing coyotes howl while camping in Wyalusing State Park. Marumari is apparently a one-man-band located in Providence, Rhode Island, one of my favorite cities. And his 2000 The Wolves Hollow is a chill, sonically interesting listen, in the vein of, you guessed it, the aforementioned bands.

Sunbirds: “River Run”

Marumari: “Searching for the Sasha Wolf”

You can buy the albums by clicking on the links above.

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Things That are Unfair

I didn’t get to be a twin growing up, and I also didn’t get to be an indie musical superstar, as I used to fantasize I might when I was little and wrote music on my Casio. Apparently, the School of Seven Bells identical twins, Alejandra and Cladia Deheza, got to fulfill all of my secret dreams.

From the songs I’ve heard so far, the band’s sophomore release (the band is comprised of the Deheza twins + Benjamin Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines), Disconnect from Desire, builds on the last one, offering a layered, complex, gorgeous, melodic sound in the vein of Lush,  the Cocteau Twins, and others. My favorite track so far is the extremely Stereolabesque “Babelonia.”

Apparently, the band writes the lyrics first and then builds music around it, which is pretty much the exact opposite way I’ve always composed. I always like to learn about people’s methods, for making music, writing, and everything else. Are there videos out there of famous bands in the process of writing music together?

The band is playing at the Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin on September 15, and I plan on being there in order to be lured in person by these ladies’ siren songs.

School of Seven Bells: “Babelonia”

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Turn Our Brains Off and File under Poptastic

I can’t believe people are still going on about M.I.A. “fighting the power,” because while her recent release offers some great pop tracks, they are more variations on a trend than groundbreaking excursions into new musical terrain.

And her lyrics offer no insight:

“I’ll throw your shit in your face when I see ya cause I got something to say. I was born free.”

“Connected to the Google, Connected to the government.”

“You want me, cause you’re tweeting me like tweety bird on your Iphone.”

M.I.A. waxes politically against “the Google” and the “Iphone,” and then casually refers to being tweeted by a man with an Iphone who wants her. I’m confused.

But confusion aside, this album is filled with some adept pop songs. So I think we should turn our brains off  and  file this one under poptastic.

M.I.A.: XXXO

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