Friday, March 25, 2011

Help Japanese survivors of the tsunami (and listen to music, too)

Hello all,
We're taking a break from our break for a brief announcement: record label Thrill Jockey is donating 100% of the proceeds of certain titles in their library to Peace Winds and Civic Force, which are among the recovery efforts in the troubled nation. Here are links to these groups (in case you want to learn more, or directly donate):

And now, onto the music slant of this story. The first link is to an MP3 compilation by David Daniell/ Antiopic Records, with a whopping 64 tracks of great music! All for $15! That's like three discs of music for (and all of it goes to those organizations above).

Some of these bands include Nat Baldwin of the Dirty Projectors, Giant Sand, and School of Seven Bells, who made it onto our year-end list (so definitely not lightweights).

Moreover, Boredoms and OOIOO will be donating the dough from these discs:

BOREDOMS - Super Roots 9 -

OOIOO - Taiga -
OOIOO - Gold and Green -
OOIOO - Eye Remix EP-

Hope you guys (and gals) enjoy the music,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Takin' Care of some Business

Hello all,
Just got a new job, and a really nice one at that! We're going to be off for a couple weeks, and we'll be back with a review of one of our all-time favorite performers (he's old, coined "kinky," and adores Waterloo). We'll see you in a few, and till then, catch up on Twitter. Peace out for now,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Starfucker indulges in celestial, electro-pop therapy

Starfucker - "Reptilians"
Polyvinyl Records
-out now
3.5 / 5

Okay, so the band name sounds like an insult a Stormtrooper would throw during a South Park episode. But give us a minute, because we think this Portland, OR electro-pop group is onto something. Right out of the gate, Starfucker has us right away, with a bit of guitar and Flaming Lips-styled electronica melting into a dense, pounding dance/pop groove. Then most fun thing about Starfucker is its, ummm... sheer fun. They play well, play hard, and don't take themselves too seriously. And just because Starfucker lacks a serious bone in their collective bodies doesn't mean they don't mean business: "Reptilians" lacks pretension (look at the album name, for one), is chock-a-block with great, effortless melodies, and is stacked with wonderful layers. We don't think this is going to be your next "Graceland" or "Joshua Tree," but we do know that if Superman had to save a city with super-groove, this would be his album of choice. Enjoyable, well-constructed, and a simple joy; recommended.

Listen to: "Death as a Fetish."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Longwalls make "Careers" a science, instead of art

The Longwalls - "Careers in Science"
Static Motor Recordings
-out now
3 / 5

Nothing against Boston's Kurt von Stetten, but his quartet's blend of Americana/ country comes off a bit tepid. The Longwalls hit a good stride in title opener to "Careers in Science," introducing us to the band's sophomore full-length with a simple, catchy whistled hook that erupts into full-on guitar and drums; it's got pep, step, and sway. But after this solid opening, the rest of "Careers in Science" leaves much to be desired. This is what we think they're lacking: the fifth element, the quintessence of music. You break down their individual elements - interesting song construction, some fun sonic elements, a good singer and lyrics - and, on paper, you've got a good band. Take it up a notch, and you get a great band. But what the Longwalls don't quite do is gel together; simply put, they perform music together, but we don't get a sense that they play that music together. The result is a collection of songs (well under 30 minutes) that don't pull in their audience, that aim but don't quite impress, perhaps because the musicians themselves aren't pulled into it. It's the joy of music that yields all those great guitar solos, all those great vocals and magic moments, and here, The Longwalls come close but don't hit it. Take a pass.

Listen to "Careers in Science."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pains of Being Pure at Heart stream new album, "Belong"

You guys heard that right: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart stream their new album before it comes out on the 29th. We're excited, we're giddy, we're expecting a great album... but the connection is down right now. Nuts.

Here's where you can listen to "Belong"; let us know what you think (when it starts working)! Ciao ciao,

Edit: okay, so we found another, still official place for "Belong." Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Honey Pies think of England, should think of catchiness instead

The Honey Pies - "Think of England"
2.5 / 5
-out now

The Austrailian punk (yes, not British) of The Honey Pies is much like any other punk: rough, agitated, and pretty bad (in a good way). Coming off like a punkish Strokes on their debut, The Honey Pies have some good things going for them: a rough, distorted sound, some grit, and that album cover. They also have some detractors, including that band name (my girlfriend thought they'd sound more like Ms. Deschanel). Their biggest detractor, however, is just a lack of song stickiness, that is to say, these songs come and go, and don't really linger. Though "Get it Right" does, indeed, get it right (with surf guitar sounds, no less), much of the album could well go through you as if it were fiber, minus the health benefits. It's not bad, but it's not great, and on this blog, you need to at least be great at what you do. Here's to the next one, and until then, take a pass.

Listen to "Get it Right." Or, what the heck, just stream the album.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Noah and the Whale enjoy this cheery "Last Night on Earth"

Noah and the Whale - "Last Night on Earth"
Island Def Jam
-out March 15
3.5 / 5

London's pop quartet sends out an uplifting album rife with tender melodies, handclaps, and general cheeriness. Their third full-length, "Last Night on Earth," cements Noah and the Whale's ability to craft enjoyable choruses filled with bright instrumentation and a general upbeat attitude. Now, let's be very clear: depressing is good. We like depressing. But that's not to say Noah and the Whale hasn't done a fantastic job on "L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.," the clear single here, as well as on the rest of the album. That track, on which one of the characters is a rather lascivious waitress, is more infectious than the diseases she likely carries (yes, it's a good track, though we're not doing it justice). "Last Night" is one of those albums that makes it easy to enjoy music: straightforward, fun, and definitely recommended.

Listen to "Life is Life" and "Tonight's the Kind of Night" on a really cool website.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Seedy Seeds make grammar slip in Verb Noun

The Seedy Seeds - "Verb Noun"
-out now
3/ 5

Cincinnati's electro-pop trio The Seedy Seeds know how to make good music. Check out the dense "Ethel" or "Nomenclature," a soothing, harmony-laden chill-back-and-sway-to-it song. Then why aren't we recommending this particular album? Excellent question: as a whole, "Verb Noun" falls a bit short of the expectations built up in the first three tracks. "Hey Exponent," an instrumental track, is bland as a biscuit, and the title track, despite it's NPR accolades, isn't all that special. Why not special, then? Another excellent question; gut instinct. Perhaps it's the lack of vocal variation and a need for just a bit more energy that negates the excellent bridges, the banjo and strings. That's not to say we won't be blown away by their next album, as there is definite potential here, but two in the bush isn't the one in the hand. Get those recommended tracks and cross your fingers for their next.