Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 EPs of 2010

Ahhhh yes, lists.  People love them, and people hate them.  The greatest thing about creating a list is that it's extremely rare for any two people to agree on the exact same one, they're all unique.  This is demonstrated by some of the comments I see directed towards some "Top 10" rankings on sites like Pitchfork or Drowned In Sound.  They can be so hateful and so seething; readers literally become offended when their choices aren't picked.  Someone's picks can become so personal that their list, in a sense, becomes a representation of their musical self...and any disagreement cuts to their core.  At first, I'll admit, I was worried about getting caught up in all of the "end of the year" hoopla, but with some encouragement from readers to deviate my mind from potential controversy, I decided to just go through with it.  So alas, today I will post my favorite EPs from 2010.  At some point in the upcoming days I will also post my favorite albums, as well as a collection of my favorite songs to wind down a great music year. Some may like it, and others will disagree.  Either way, I hope you take some entertainment in reading it.  So without further ado, here is my top 10 EPs of this past year...

Honorable Mentions
Broken Dreams Club by Girls
North Dorm by Evenings
Young by Summer Camp
Beach Dreams by Teen Daze
Horse Power by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.


10.  With Emperor Antarctica by Boy & Bear
When I was first turned on to Boy & Bear, I heard constant comparisons to Fleet Foxes. This association is definitely appropriate; both have an airy folk ambiance and utilize ethereal vocal harmonies, which at some points sound identical.  The one major distinction I see between the two is that there are segments of Boy & Bear tracks that are edgier and more electric than Fleet Foxes.  Overall, it's a great debut, and I can't wait to see what happens when they release a full album.


9.  Settings by Tanlines
When I interviewed NazcarNation earlier this year, one of their band members mentioned that they're all about the "donut holes rather than donuts" approach.  What this signifies is that as a band, they'd rather release their songs in small doses; this includes EPs, singles, and remixes....but not a full album.  Tanlines follows this methodology.  Settings is another EP in a group of remixes, compilations, and singles from the group, and it's a damn good one.  I first heard about it in the summer, which was perfect timing since the whole EP is an uplifting synth collection of tropical pop beats.  When I first heard it, my mind headed straight toward the Caribbean.  Now, whenever I decide to re-listen, I am put into one of my happy places.  So for that, I thank you Tanlines.
 Policy Of Trust by Tanlines


8.  Surf Noir by Beat Connection
How could I not be tempted to listen to an EP that combines the title of Surf Noir with cover that looks as summery and beautiful as the picture above?  Throughout the year I had been drawn into listening to the EP, having seen it pop up here and there on multiple sites to good reviews.  What I found was a band that sounded a lot like Air France, an electropop outfit complete with lush melodies and the idea of sand underneath their feet.  Perhaps the EP can best be described as if Air France decided to take a more...dare I say it..."chillwave" approach?  I'll take it.
 In the Water by Beat Connection


7.  The Years by Memoryhouse
The Years was a bit of a late-bloomer for me.  Released in early January of 2010, I actually didn't hear any of it until early November.  So if my calculus class taught me anything this year, that's about 10 months late.  Just a litttllee tardy.  It didn't take me long at all to get into their dreamy haze, though, and "Sleep Patterns" quickly became a consistent late-night jam.  It all comes together very well; ethereal synths, fuzzy guitars, and the beautiful angelic voice of Denise Nouvion.
 Sleep Patterns by Memoryhouse


6.  Color Your Life by Twin Sister
Color Your Life can be a little tough to categorize since they play such a broad spectrum.  A lot of the tracks have a lo-fi tinged sound to them, and at parts can be classified as psychedelic.  Some people would probably just be content with calling it indie pop.  But perhaps their diversity is best exemplified in their song "Galaxy Plateau", which is a long 6-minute ambient drone ballad that is decked out in crazy reverb. Someone who first recommended it told me I'd like the EP if I wanted "to hear what Stereolab would be like if they were more soothing", which may just be my favorite way of hearing it described.
 Lady Daydream by Twin Sister



5.  Static On the Wire by Holy Ghost!
I absolutely love it when a band chooses a great opening act.  In all honesty, I owe my awesome introduction to Holy Ghost! to the one and only LCD Soundsystem.  When I saw LCD at Terminal 5 this May, Holy Ghost! was their chosen opener.  It was love at first site, and a perfect choice.  The heavily layered and disco-injected EP has some of the catchiest hooks and best dance beats of the year.  They were a great warm up to LCD, putting on a wonderfully energetic show.  It was also a great warm up to Static On the Wire, which promptly became a favorite.
 Static On The Wire by Holy Ghost!


One of my good friends recently asked me what I do after I get home from a night out. She texted me saying that she "knew I couldn't be with my friends hanging in the treehouse relaxing and listening to rock 'n' roll music" because it was too cold outside.  Before I could respond, she sent me a text saying "...or chillwave music in your case".  It's not a tag I'm offended by, but it's a distinction that can't come without a mention of Teen Daze.  Four More Years first helped me realize the growing chillwave movement that happened this year, and quite honestly may have been the release that launched my own personal enjoyment of chillwave (and spawned my love for artists like Washed Out and Toro Y Moi).  In the end, many of the songs on the 8-track EP became anthems for many of my best summer moments this year.  And the more I think of it...wasn't that the goal?  Didn't he want to engulf me in a comforting blanket of hazy nostalgia?  I certainly like to think so.
 Neon by Teen Daze


3.  Golden Haze by Wild Nothing
Anyone who has been reading this site frequently probably gets the friggen point already: the kid who keeps up this blog really likes Wild Nothing.  I have already written about them specifically, as well as referring to him regularly on a variety of other posts. Yet, here Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing gets another call out with his Golden Haze.  Upon listening to his debut album, one of my favorites of the year (which you will probably be hearing about in the upcoming days...hint hint), I was craving more of what he had to offer.  I found Golden Haze to be the perfect dessert to Tatum's main course.  His mix of dream and jangle pop became a perfect channel to his '80s influence, where he also found ways to dabble in his knowledge of "new wave" music.  So do I like Wild Nothing? Yes.  I love it.
 Golden Haze by Wild Nothing


2.  Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird by The Tallest Man on Earth
Kristian Matsson had a pretty great year.  Starting with the critically acclaimed album The Wild Hunt in April, he followed up with this fantastic EP in September.  To my surprise, I actually enjoyed this EP more than the album.  On this release, I feel like Matsson really shows off his raw talent as a magnificent songwriter.  His honest lyrics and Dylan-esque voice call out to the listener, reel you in, and aid in evoking some sort of subconscious emotions.  His guitar work is also fabulous; at times he is just picking away to the point that it sounds like an orchestra of three or four guitars instead of one lone musician.  At other times his poor guitar is strummed so vigorously and with such passion.  I also love Matsson's experiment with "The Dreamer", the only electric song in his set.
 The Dreamer by The Tallest Man on Earth


1.  RIPJDS by Bikini
Bikini is a group that came out of no where for me.  It was the most random of finds on the most random of websites, a band I figured I'd give a listen to for shits and giggles.  I couldn't be more happy that I haphazardly wandered into them, for my kryptonite is bands just like Bikini; present day uptempo electro/synth pop (hence my love of Crystal Castles, Passion Pit, and the holy grail Cut Copy).  Bikini has beautifully contrived beats with some of the most addicting riffs and melodies I've listened to in a long time.  I also feel like Bikini is a great representation of where the music scene is today.  There are a few bands that just seem to "get it", who really have an idea of what people want. Judging by how quickly Bikini exploded onto the scene, I like to think that they're an example of one of those bands.  Catchy, refreshing, and experimental all at the same time.  Just brilliant.
 American Mourning by Bikini

More to come soon!  Thanks for tuning in.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to wish everyone out there on the internet and blogosphere a very merry Christmas and a very happy holidays.  I hope everyone is enjoying their time off, eating well, and relaxing.  I absolutely love this time of year, and with snow forecast to pile on a couple of inches in my hometown, it'll be (even if a tad late) my first white Christmas in a while...the cherry on the sundae.  Forgive me for the lack of posts in the recent days, I've been much busier than I expected since finals have winded down, but I am making an effort to get another few posts in between now and New Years.  Since it is Christmas, though, and spirit of giving is high, my gift to the world wide web is a YouTube video of a song from my favorite Christmas album A Charlie Brown Christmas presented by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.  Perhaps one of the reasons why this collection of songs has so much sticking power to me is the fact that my parents have played it since I was a toddler.  I've heard the entire thing dozens and dozens of times. Nostalgia runs high in it, which is an important factor for me during the Christmas holiday, when I tend to feel like an innocent little rug rat all over again.  Anyway, here is the song "Linus and Lucy" from A Charlie Brown Christmas.


Best of wishes to everyone out there.  Be safe and have the merriest of Christmases!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cemeteries

Kyle Reigle of Cemeteries has been climbing the charts over at Bandcamp the past couple of months, and as of a few weeks ago, he can officially say that he is the most popular band/musician in the Buffalo area.  This is an impressive feat, especially considering that Reigle has done it all on his own; the percussion, guitars, keyboard, and vocals....the entire production....is done entirely by himself.  Yet, it also shouldn't be too big of a surprise, because when you deliver a good product, it sells.  Cemeteries is just that, a fantastic collection of work that is starting to get discovered.  His debut LP entitled Speaking Horrors applies a range of elements spanning from folk to dream pop, complete with melodies that border on ambience that play softly on the listener.  On his newly released single, Reigle increases his electronic use, incorporating more synth into his songs.  His spectrum of play is large, his ambitions are high, and the talents are there. It'll be exciting to see where he ends up going with his music.  If you're interested, I was lucky enough to have an interview with Cemeteries.  Have a read below:


What's the background story behind Cemeteries?  When did you decide
you wanted to pursue music?
Well I learned how to play piano and guitar at a really early age, so I guess a small part of me always enjoyed music and wanted to pursue it. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started my first band (Mutiny on the Belafonte). We actually played a few songs that are on Speaking Horrors. That was fun but due to some differences and a lack of equipment/practices we kind of fell apart. I tried playing with a few more people but that didn't work out either. Early this year I realized I'm probably better off alone, at least during the recording aspect of it all so I just kind of went for it and ended up with enough material to put something out.

Which past artists/bands inspire you most when it comes to making music?
I grew up with a wide variety of music. My mom worked a later shift when I was young so my dad, my sister and I would just lay on the floor and listen to a ton of albums until she got home. Neither of my parents are musically talented but they are definitely responsible for getting me interested in it. I think I was just inspired by music as a whole since some of the music we listened to was pretty bad. It wasn't until about five years ago that I got into independent music and my tastes and influences started to shape.

What are some of your favorite releases to come out in 2010?
My favorite was probably Teen Dream by Beach House, I just love the direction they're going with their sound. High Violet by The National, Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter and Heartland by Owen Pallett are all great. Some artists really came out of nowhere and blew me away like Avi Buffalo, Future Islands and Twin Shadow. It was a great year.

The entire production of your music releases is done by you; guitar,
percussion, vocals, mixing, etc.  Do you find it difficult producing as a
solo artist without having band mates to bounce ideas off of or record
with?
I definitely find it easier to work alone but I really want to get a band together so I can play some shows. I think it would be fine working with band mates if I found the right people, it's just pretty hard to find them.

Since you do the entire production, I suppose I should congratulate
you on the sound quality.  The production value is extremely good, where
do you do the majority of your recording?
Haha thanks, I actually did it all in my spare room. I used a Tascam DP-004 four track and Garageband to mix. Nothing special at all. I love the whole bedroom recording movement that's blown up lately, it really proves that you can create something worthwhile without spending a ton of money to do so.

On your album Speaking Horrors, I noticed you incorporated a lot of
folk influences into your tracks.  Yet on your newly released single,
which sounds great by the way, you seem to have put less emphasis on
acoustic.  Is this a new direction you're trying out?
Yes and no. I spent awhile on Speaking Horrors so I just wanted to do something fun for a change. I wrote both the songs acoustically and they kind of turned into upbeat synth songs. I'm not sure if I'll keep pursuing that direction or not, I just figured it would be a nice change of pace for the time being.

So...you go by the name of Cemeteries, you say that your album is "a
collection of ten songs about ghosts", and your newly released single is
slightly based off the 1977 Italian film Suspiria, which is widely
considered one of the scariest movies of all-time.  What is it about the
horror or supernatural theme that inspires you so much?
A lot of bands and artists are influenced by nostalgia and that's exactly what it is for me. I love film and I'm a huge fan of the horror genre. There's something about old grainy horror movies that makes me feel like a kid again and I feel my most creative when I get those feelings. Someone reviewed Speaking Horrors and complained that it wasn't scary at all but I wasn't trying to make it scary. A lot of recent albums have 80's or 50's influences and I guess hazy slasher movies are just one of my bigger influences.

Which modern music website (like Myspace or Bandcamp for example) has
helped you the most in getting your name recognized and why?
Bandcamp hands down. They just get it and their formula is perfect. Music Is Amazing is a great site that put my album up with a link to my Bandcamp page and my downloads just blew up, they helped out a lot. Tumblr is nice because I can talk about any random thing I want but Bandcamp is definitely the best.

If you could play in any city in the world, where would it be and why?
It's going to sound lame but probably Buffalo. My album is the most popular in Buffalo on Bandcamp which is amazing and I haven't even played a single show. I should probably start with with my home town haha. Besides that, probably anywhere. I rarely get out of the city let alone the state.

Lastly, what can fans expect from Cemeteries in the future?
If more people catch on to the virtual 7" I'll probably do those frequently. Right now I really want to get out there and play, that's my biggest goal. I just need to figure out if I want to get a band or go at it alone with electronics, loop pedals etc. but who knows?


Below I have posted the song "Living Alone" from his new single as well as "Fires In Your Cities" from his debut album Speaking Horrors.


 Living Alone


 Fires In Your Cities


You can download all of his stuff over at his Bandcamp, so be sure to check it out.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Birthday Girls

Ottawa's dance-punk band Birthday Girls are loud, rambunctious, and in your face.  When you throw on a track from their Birthday Girls EP, they want you to stand up and cause a raucous.  It's a relatively short debut, lasting just over 15 minutes, but it is packed to the brim with heavy distortion, screaming, and head-banging punk influence...cramming all the static and intensity they can manage within that brief time span. Normally, I would be weary of such heavy, pulsating music.  In fact, I usually become intimated whenever something is labeled as "punk".  Although there are a few bands or songs I find myself enjoying, recordings like the Dead Kennedy and Black Flag albums tend to scare me more than anything else.  Yet, when I was sent their EP, they had to throw that damned word "dance" in there.  After all, LCD Soundsystem is one of my favorite acts, and I've heard them labeled as "dance-punk" before...so why not?  I found them to have a pretty unique sound, establishing a niche for themselves somewhere between The Strokes and Bloc Party. Much like Bloc Party, they toy around with explosive guitars and drowning synths; and relative to The Strokes, lead-singer Kyle Kilbride isn't afraid to use his harsh, screeching vocals to challenge you into waking the hell up and partying...no, raging.  It's like a caffeine shot straight to your eardrums.  With finals finally over and the weekend only hours away, it's time to make up for all the lost time and release all the built-up stress. It's okay, go ahead and flip over a table or smash your crappy printer to bits....after all, it's probably what Birthday Girls would want.

"Teenagers" and "Balcony" from Birthday Girls below.



If you're interested, you can listen to the rest of the EP (or find out more info) at either their SoundCloudMySpace, or Facebook.  Happy weekends everyone!  Don't do anything Mick Mars wouldn't do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Polarsets

Upon first listen of the synth-rocking British trio Polarsets, you can tell they are earnest and enthusiastic.  It's noticeable that they're excited, revved up, and ready to go, which is represented through a sense of their energy, which appears to be honest and genuine.  Perhaps they have good reason to be so amped, maybe it's the fact they've shared a stage with Ellie Goulding and De La Soul after only one year of being together?  Or is it possible that it's because they've received praise from British record producer Paul Oakenfold (Beastie Boys, Run D.M.C.)?  Their highly touted live shows and fast-growing following in Northern Europe could also be a factor. Whatever it may be, when they sent me their two singles I couldn't help but get absorbed into the danceable beats and captivating melodies.  They show good variation in their tracks as well; some of the materials sounds like it could be classified as house music, even borderline trance.  Tie this all together with some catchy guitar hooks and Rob Howe's higher pitched vocals, and you get the singles "Leave Argentina" and "Morning", electro-pop anthems that grow on you and grow on you.  I almost forgot to mention, they're not afraid of using those cowbells to the max, either.  Below I've posted "Leave Argentina" and an equally as awesome revamped club remix of the same song.  Give 'em a try.

 Leave Argentina

 Leave Argentina (Thomas Sagstad & Mike Hawkins Remix)

If you like these, I highly recommend you check out their other single "Morning".  You can do that at their MySpace, or you can check it at their SoundCloud for some free downloadddzzzzzz.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shake the Baron

As the rumor goes, in 2007 first day college students Andrew Oedel, Matt Addison, and Max Currier bonded and became friends over a "common love of good music and bad beer"...something I'm sure we can all relate to (must've been Keystone or Natty).  They chilled, they raged, they played awesome music.  Over time, the "acoustic jam sessions" and "impromptu sing-a-longs" that occurred amongst themselves became "collaborative songwriting sit-downs" and "electrified noisefests"; but it wasn't until this year that the three of them added a second guitarist, Jon Markson, to complete their outfit.  A few months following the addition, they signed with Super Duper Records, recorded their debut album Shake the Baron, and then received help with mixing from engineer Justin Gerrish, who has also worked with bands like Ra Ra Riot, Vampire Weekend, and Weezer.  That is certainly not a bad resume to be working with....and it's only befitting that Shake the Baron should work with someone like Gerrish, for their sound does bear a close resemblance to a mix of Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend, combined with a touch of power pop...like Weezer perhaps?   I was very impressed with the debut Shake the Baron, a 10-song assembly of fast-paced, fun, and refreshing indie pop tracks that call you back for multiple listens.  It's definitely worth acquiring the album and giving it a listen or two, and I'm excited to see what they have to offer in future efforts.  Below I have posted two songs from the album; one is their single "Zodiac Name", where you can clearly hear the Vampire Weekend influences, and the other being "Seafoam Sofa", which has distinct comparisons to Ra Ra Riot.  Have a listen:

 Zodiac Name

 Seafoam Sofa

For more info you can visit their MySpace here or their homepage, which is located here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

MIRS

Continuing on from the chillwave-ish, easy listening theme I had yesterday with Work Drugs, I would like to present to you Amir Motlagh, born and raised in Los Angeles, who goes by the name of MIRS.  On November 2nd, 2010, MIRS released his debut EP entitled Spin Cycle on Bandcamp, and was kind enough to send me over a few links to have a listen to.  I was immediately drawn into not only the sound of the EP, but also the concept behind it.  Spin Cycle consists of four songs, each one named after a season, following a fictional character "through the changing seasons, cycling through a trans-figurative metamorphosis".  On top of this, what's also cool is that the recordings "coincided in real time with the changing of the seasons", the song "Spring (Bombs)" being written during spring, "Summer (Farahavar)" in summer, etc.  I love that kind of shit.  In an odd way, I feel like creative projects such as this open a window into the mind of the composer.  Not only do you follow a story through your listening, but in a way you get an exclusive perspective of a certain event or time period through the eyes of someone else.  If I'm listening to "Fall (Birds)", I'm getting a sense of what MIRS was experiencing at that time, which is pretty neat.

Although this is MIRS's first solo endeavor, he certainly isn't new to music.  He is a an American Independent Film Maker and multi-media artist who has scored multiple movie soundtracks.  Furthermore, he has fronted two albums with his previous band called Shanks and the Dreamers, which has released some pretty fantastic material as well, spanning from genres like "electro hip-hop", to "post-rock", to "instrumental ambient" music.  MIRS carries a lot of this experimental drive onto his Spin Cycle EP, but at the same time seems to be trying to create a more concise tone for himself.  While "Spring (Bombs)" channels a more chillwave atmosphere, "Winter (Little Tokyo)" tries something new with heavily distorted guitars, focuses more on instrumentation, and drowns out the vocals slightly.  Yet, they both sound like they belong to be on the same release.  What I also like about the EP is the thought out layering of guitars, which MIRS really seems to like playing around with.  I feel like this is exemplified in "Fall (Birds)", where I fell in love with the background acoustic riff, which surreptitiously aids in driving the track forward.  Below I've posted what I think may be my favorite two songs off Spin Cycle, "Fall (Birds)" and "Spring (Bombs)".  Hope ya'll dig it!

 Fall (birds)

 Spring (bombs)

You can check out these and the rest of Spin Cycle at his SoundCloud here.  To download, check out his Bandcamp page here, and for more information in general, MIRS has a new homepage located here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Work Drugs

Final exams are fast approaching, and given that my first test isn't until Wednesday, I have a few days to mull over my impending doom.  There are still many chapters to be read and practice problems to be completed.  Given the large quantity of work myself and other students have in front of us, perhaps it is only appropriate that I have been listening to a band called Work Drugs. They sent me their first single "Third Wave" just in time for the onslaught of stress, anxiety, and burden of exams; in essence the track really did become a drug for work, it was a most pleasurable gift to help ease the tensions.  I suppose the most immediate parallels to "Third Wave" would be songs from artists like Washed Out or Memory Tapes, a lush mix of chillwave and dream pop with some parts consisting of "smooth sailin' yacht rock".  The song goes down so smoothly and absorbs itself so effortlessly that before long you'll be playing it over and over, wanting more and more.  Like work drugs, the track is addicting.  "Third Wave" is set for an official single release early next year, with a second single to be unleashed onto the internet shortly after.  The presently unnamed debut album that both tracks will be on is all recorded and mixed, and is also planned to be released early next year.  Another record to get psyched for!  Can't wait to hear the next single, and I'm already eager for the album.  Check out "Third Wave" by Work Drugs below.

 Third Wave

Best part?  You can download the song entirely for free at their SoundCloud here, so be sure to hurry over there and snag it before they change their mind!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dow Jones

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of modern rap/hip-hop, in general my taste for current rappers is very narrow; Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Soulja Boy, 50 Cent and the likes simply don't do it for me.  I still love rap/hip-hop, but instead I tend to rejoice more in the glory of the old-school (particularly east coast) era during the early to mid-'90s.  I am much more down with Nas, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, De La Soul, Wu-Tang, Notorious B.I.G., and so on and so on...you get my point.  That's why when Detroit-born (now located in Charlotte, NC) rapper Dow Jones dropped his new single "Tweeters" in my inbox the other day, I was taken aback by how much I liked it.  Going into it I definitely had my doubts, my initial thought was: "Great, another person who thinks he can spit and rap in front of annoying Garageband-manufactured beats".  This was followed by, "What the hell is a Tweeter?  Is he on Twitter?" (for those who don't know, a tweeter is a loudspeaker meant for high frequencies).

Yet, despite my qualms, I listened...and I'm glad I did.  What surprised me about how much I enjoyed it was the fact that the song doesn't really have that old-school feel, instead it actually does sound relatively modern.  On multiple listens, though, the track really grew on me; I was attracted to its laid-back aura, the delicate addition of the background piano, Dow Jones' voice, and the seemingly inconspicuous backing synth.  All the pieces come together to form a well-crafted, catchy, fun and gratifying hip-hop track.  Dow Jones is starting to make a name for himself, too.  "Tweeters" is starting to spread around the Southeast region of the United States, and on top of that he has performed/toured with such artists as Chiddy Bang, Jedi Mind Tricks, Brother Ali, Goodie Mob, Warren G, and Wiz Khalifa.  He also just finished a mini-tour with the popular hip-hoppers Wale and Savoy, where he gained a lot of recognition for his great live shows.  Anyway, I know it's a Friday and the last thing people want to do is read a lot, so I'll just cut to it and give you the song.  Below is the single "Tweeters" from Dow Jones' Lyrics and Liquor EP, hope ya'll dig it.

 Tweeters

You can download the song at his SoundCloud here.  If you like this and want more Dow Jones, he offers his entire Lyrics and Liquor EP for a free download at his Bandcamp here.  Happy weekends everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Midnight Ghost

Where I am currently located, temperatures are forecast to dip to the single digits, wind gusts are reaching up to 25 MPH, and there is the threat of snow in the near future.  On top of this, final exams are fast approaching, and my impending doom is starting to manifest itself in my head.  In times like these when you want to escape the stressful Arctic surroundings, it's nice to imagine yourself on the beach during the lazy days of summer.  No studying, no papers, hell...no real responsibility.  Enter: Midnight Ghost.  Listening to his music recently has been a good remedy for the frigid conditions and early 4:15 PM sunsets.  His most recent album, Monument (released September 1st), is an impressive assortment of dream pop, psychedelic, and lo-fi influenced tracks complete with that breezy summer ambiance.  Much like the recent bands Wavves and Best Coast, Midnight Ghost enjoys taking those fuzzy guitars and echoed vocals to create that classic, old-school, west coast music.  This is particularly true for the song "Pineapple Sunglasses", which has a distinct Beach Boys sound to it, as well as the song "We Have to See", which slows down the tempo and places you underneath the simmering July sunshine.  So while it may be winter, I'm kicking off the boots and replacing the snow with sand.  Take a listen to "We Have to See" and "Easy Way Out" from Monument below:

 We Have to See

 Easy Way Out

He offers the album Monument at a "name your price" option at Bandcamp, where you can also check out some of his other releases.  Be sure to download it and check out some of his other stuff, which you can do here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ace Reporter

Ace Reporter's threesixfive project is certainly one filled with ambition and enthusiasm.  What is it you may ask?  It's Ace Reporter's attempt to write and release one song, every day, for the entire 2010 year.  Yep, that's right.  One song every...single...day.  Even Ace Reporter himself admits that it's a "mildly insane" project. Nonetheless it definitely seems like an awesome idea; I feel like it opens up the gates of creativity allowing a boundless flow of ideas and experimentation.  It seems that Ace Reporter needed this outlet to get his imagination working once again; in 2009 he spent a lot of time touring, twittering, and promoting a record.  This didn't leave him with a lot of time to write music, at which point he became "frustrated with the situation" and decided to begin threesixfive as his "re-commitment to music".  What caught my eye is when Ace Reporter sent me his "Day 336" song today....a cover of Beach House's "Walk In the Park", which is easily one of my favorite songs of the entire year.  It's largely a violin and acoustic based cover, much more subdued than the original.  It's a very interesting take, and Ace Reporter crafts it delicately, still showing respect to Beach House's version.  You can listen to it on his SoundCloud below:

 Day 336: Walk in the Park (by Beach House)

You can access all of his tracks, which he offers for free download at his SoundCloud here.  Or if you want, you can check out his Bandcamp where he has offered his first of four free EPs, which will consist of a variety of handpicked tracks from the threesixfive project.  So be sure to take a look at that here.  For more information in general, you can visit his homepage here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Evenings

A month or two ago, I caught wind of a new single that had dropped by the artist Evenings that was entitled "Chesapeake".  Admittedly, I had never heard any of his previous work, but following my first listening of "Chesapeake" I knew that it was something I had to check out.  Conveniently enough, I was able to locate his MySpace and Bandcamp, where I learned that on June 28 of this year, the one-man project of Evenings released a North Dorm EP.  I was immediately drawn to the brilliant collection of glo-fi, experimental gaze, and ambient tracks that were so soothing that I found the EP to be a regular member of my late-night jams to help nurse my quiescent mind.  In particular, the song "Goodbye Forever" would help me unwind as I lay in bed trying to sleep.  It starts off with a sampling of ocean waves, which seems to help blanket you in tranquility as the noise begins to surround you.  I found this to be especially true while listening to it with headphones, something I'd highly recommend.  I became such a huge fan of the EP that I decided I'd try and reach out to him.  I was thrilled when he actually responded to me, and did so quite positively!  Following which, he was kind enough to answer a few questions I had.  So if you're interested, please feel free to have a read below:


Which past bands/artists inspire you most when it comes to making music?
AIR, Bibio, The Books, The Six Parts Seven, Gold Panda, and M83.  I listen to a lot of '80s music, too.

What are some of your favorite releases to come out so far this year?
Gemini by Wild Nothing is probably my favorite of 2010.  But also Moon Deluxe by Andrew Cedermark, Lucky Shiner by Gold Panda, Stoned Alone by Coma Cinema, Cyanide Sisters by Com Truise, Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus, and all the Teenage Reverb stuff is really good, too....it's all I've listened to it all week.  I know I am also forgetting a lot.

If you could play in any city in the world, where would it be and why?
I think it would be really cool to play in Geneva, Switzerland.  I've never been, but the culture there just seems really, really diverse and unique.  The fact that it's beautiful doesn't hurt either.

Do you feel that modern music technology is helping you in becoming recognized? Or has it made it more difficult?
Well, I think it has definitely helped me in the recognition department.  I guess because almost everyone has access to a computer and the internet now, it does challenge you to tweak and polish things a little more....but without it I don't know where I'd be at the moment.  That said, even though I make somewhat electronic music, I have this innate feeling that technology is sorta....I dunno, evil.  Sometimes I look at my cellphone which is also a camera/computer/Gameboy/calculator/iPod and just think about how much I really don't need that; how no one needs all that.

What can fans expect from you in the future?
A super secret remix soon.  Hopefully an album eventually.


Below I've posted the songs "Friend [Lover]" and "Goodbye Forever" from the North Dorm EP along with his newest single "Chesapeake".  Hope ya'll enjoy it.

Friend [Lover]

Goodbye Forever

Chesapeake

To get the EP you can head over to his Bandcamp where he offers it for a "name your price" download, so be sure to check that out here.  You can also get updates from his MySpace here, or you can follow him on Facebook, where he announced a week ago that he'd be playing a show with Home Video, so congrats and major props to him for landing that.  All of that can be found here.  Thank you to Evenings for taking time to answer the questions!  Enjoy!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bikini

As I've mentioned before, I am a huge fan of modern electropop.  I can't get enough of the Cut Copys, Passion Pits, and LCD Soundsystems of the world.  Well, a new EP by the band Bikini dropped around Thanksgiving time that falls into that category; catchy, danceable, and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.  Bikini has released an album before called Concerning the Number 7 and Your Love, but failed to create the buzz that their new EP RIPJDS has been able to achieve.  Now, with the success of RIPJDS they're being exposed on such distinguished sites like Pitchfork....quite the accomplishment.  It seems to me like Bikini went about this quite well, releasing the captivating single "ACheerleader" and following it up with a song of equal or greater value, "American Mourning".  Considering it's a Friday and most people will be out partying tonight, I figured I'd throw these two dance tracks (and another from the EP) your way to get you moving for the weekend.  Definitely can't wait to see what these guys come out with next, I'm sure it'll be pretty incredible.  Check out some of the tunes from RIPJDS below.  Hope you guys like it, and happy weekends to everyone!

American Mourning

ACheerleader

Palm-Aire

Be sure to head over to their Bandcamp, which is located here.  Also, you can view them on iTunes here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Oyster Murders

I was in for a delightful surprise the day following Thanksgiving when I went to check my university e-mail.  Instead of finding notifications from professors or advertisements to participate in human experiments, I was graced by the presence of Grant Redgen from the band The Oyster Murders.  The band consists of key members Redgen (guitar, vocals) and Shaun Edwards (drums), who play alongside a rotating list of musical contributors.  The recording for their upcoming album Whatever Became of Marie St. Clair? took place in a renovated old church that also just so happens to be operated by Australian Recording Industry Association award-winner Lachlan Goold, who goes by the name Magoo.  I can only imagine how the musical process must be influenced when surrounded by such rustic, and probably slightly haunting, surroundings.  Upon initial listens to The Oyster Murders, I was immediately drawn to the early '90s alternative music influence, a genre that has recently become a favorite of mine.  The more I listened, the more I could envision their particular setting in which the songs were produced...it seemed quite fitting.  I especially liked the song "Ghosts In Our Wake"; the vastly atmospheric guitar riff fantastically accompanying the lyrics relating towards the sea.  Since the ocean itself is voluminous, why shouldn't the song be as well?  Have a listen to "Ghosts In Our Wake" and also "Lovers Who Drink the Sea" below.

 Ghosts In Our Wake

 Lovers Who Drink the Sea

Both tracks are from their upcoming album Whatever Became of Marie St. Clair?, which will be released during March of 2011.  The band offers several downloads for free at their SoundCloud, so be sure to check that out here.  For more updates, you can also check out their MySpace, which is located here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Les Sins

Some people in the world just have the gift of making music.  They have a natural ability to compose beats, riffs, and melodies in mass amounts and have it sound good.  Dan Snaith, the genius behind Caribou and Manitoba, apparently recorded 670 songs for his album Andorra, while Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound releases albums and mixtapes at an alarming pace (he recently released four "Databank Bedroom" Volumes under Atlas Sound for free here).  Although I can't seem to locate the exact article, I once read an interview where someone said that Cox "shits out music that takes others months to make".  Yes, it's unfair.  Yes, I wish I could do that.  But alas, I cannot, and therefore I will instead pitch the idea that maybe Chaz Bundwick of Toro Y Moi is emerging as one of those artists.  In early January of 2010, he released the chillwave Causers of This, and has already announced a new album Underneath the Pine to come out in February of 2011.  Meanwhile, in July he released a single entitled "Leave Everywhere", and now has released a single for his side project called Les Sins.  Needless to say, it's been a busy (and successful) year for Mr. Bundwick.  What's cool is that Les Sins is not like Toro Y Moi, but very different.  As mentioned before, Causers of This was a chillwave album, utilizing dreamy synths and glitch.  Instead of making something that I'm sure a lot of people get high to, Les Sins is all about moving your feet, not bumming out on a couch.  The single Lina includes two European disco-inspired tunes full of awesome bass hooks and beats, with a sampling of a female vocal in the first song "Lina".  Damn, is it ever catchy as hell.  The future looks promising!  Have a listen to it below:



Pick it up here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jonquil

As I emerged from my Thanksgiving food coma the other day, I was happy to come across the emerging British band called Jonquil.  On November 16th of this year, they released a new EP called One Hundred Suns, a fun and happy collection of songs that plays from beginning to finish quite easily.  I think one of the things that drew me to it was it's jangle pop influence, reminiscent of The Smiths and R.E.M., two of my favorite acts from the '80s.  This is a little different from their previous releases, which tend to be more folkish and dreary, not quite so pop.  Yet the different direction they seem to be taking might be working well; they recently signed with Dovecote Records (same as The Futureheads, Aberdeen City, and Bad Veins) and have played with such acts of Foals.  This EP just might be the one to launch them a little higher, I am pumped to see where they go!  Below I've posted the song "Fighting Smiles" from the recent release One Hundred Suns.  Hope ya'll like it.

 Fighting Smiles

Snag this and another track here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kisses

The two-person band Kisses had a good deal of buzz leading up to their debut album The Heart of the Nightlife, especially with the song "Bermuda", which is a delightful Air France sounding tropical inspired tune.  It was enough to sprout my curiosity, and finally on November 16th of this year, the full album was released.  Overall, the songs on The Heart of the Nightlife are pretty consistent with "Bermuda"; most possess a catchy Caribbean-pop beat intertwined with some definite New Wave inspirations.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if Kisses listened to a lot of bands like XTCNew Order, or Prefab Sprout, some of the more influential bands of the '80s.  Most tracks use those elements to create laid back and beach sounding atmospheres, which shouldn't be too much of a surprise considering that they're from Los Angeles, the land of cool.  I've posted the songs "Kisses" and "Lovers" for you to have a listen to.  Hope you guys dig it.

 Kisses by Kisses

 Lovers by Kisses

Pick up these and few more tracks here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sky Hiker

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite ambient/chillwave artists Sky Hiker about his musical background, inspirations, and ambitions.  Now, on top of being kind enough to give such great and detailed answers to the interview, he has sent me his new track to hear and post on to the blog before uploading it onto his Myspace and Bandcamp.  The track is entitled "Run, Love, Fight" and it's off of his upcoming EP called thebeat myheart willskip.  It's a very uplifting and inspirational instrumental piece with a brilliant build towards the song's climax, making it a fantastic addition to Sky Hiker's earlier EP, Underwater Colors.  The intention of it is described as a "revolution which is happening in your heart", the song being a "journey with no return" where "going back isn't an option".  With this being said, I not only think the premise behind the song is a fantastic one, but it is also accomplished beautifully.  Given his great talent, I am looking forward to hearing what comes next!  Be one of the first to listen to "Run, Love, Fight" below:


And as he has mentioned in the interview, he is offering all of his music for free.  He has sent me the link, where you can download it here.  Be sure to check out his Bandcamp and Myspace for upcoming news and updates.  I'd also like to give a huge thanks to the Sky Hiker for sending me the fantastic track!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cut Copy

Finally.  This is exactly what I've been waiting for!  Yet another Cut Copy single to tease me until February for the release of their new album Zonoscope.  If you're a huge fan of Cut Copy like I am, everything pointing towards the new record suggests that it'll be fantastic.  Firstly, the two singles that have been released so far are great; beginning with "Where I'm Going" (although they've since told us that it isn't going to be the exact version) and now "Take Me Over".  Secondly, it's being mixed by Ben H. Allen, the same guy behind the masterminds of Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley, and Deerhunter.  And lastly, the band has said on multiple occasions that they're experimenting with more organic instrumentation and trying to create a different "music universe" within the album.  If anything, the new song "Take Me Over" hints that they're doing that quite well, just adding to the excitement.  Now, all we have to do is wait until February 8th........this is going to be a very long two and a half months.

Have a listen:

 Cut Copy - "Take Me Over" (Radio Edit) Premiere

You can grab it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lemâitre

The Facebook page of Lemâitre states bluntly: "We is discodudes."  They're certainly not lying; with such influences as Daft Punk, Justice, Deadmau5, and Phoenix (as stated on their bio), Lemâitre offers some fresh electro-disco/electronica to the music scene.  They pull it off well, too.  Most notably their new song, "Blue Shift", which was posted on to their SoundCloud, has had me rockin' my head back and forth with its light and extremely catchy synth beat.  I wasn't surprised at all to find the duo of Lemâitre (Ketil Jansen and Ulrik Denizou Lund) are from Norway, which has developed a fantastic electronic music scene.  They've started to grow outside of Norway, though, and as stated on a Musigh interview (which is worth checking out), they'll start playing abroad in the near future.  I definitely wish them the best of luck in their travels, I am sure they put on a pretty mean show.  What's also sweet is that they offer all their music for free to download on their SoundCloud, which you can check out here.  Below I've posted their new song "Blue Shift", and an older one entitled "Come Again".  Have a listen, hope ya dig it:

 Blue Shift by Lemâitre

 Come Again by Lemâitre