August 28, 2009

Introducing: The xx

The xx have been straight blowing up the blogsphere right now. You can't go on to Hype Machine or without seeing their name at the top of every list. And that was before Pitchfork just slapped their self-titled debut album with its "Best New Music" label. If anything the hype is UNDERstated. This is the most exciting debut album I have heard since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah self-released their debut in 2005. I can only hope that the xx do a better job following up this debut than CYHSY has. But all signs point towards them being able to. The average age in this band is 20! ( this as depressing to you as it is to me) To paraphase a good friend, they are the Le Bron Jameses of indie electro alienation. These guys have nowhere to go but up and the maturity they show on this album is mindblowing. Unlike CYHSY, the xx already has an incredibly cohesive and distinct sound. They have clear influences from Massive Attack and Portishead, but their combination of electro, r&b even some bossanova is so focused every single note is precisely positioned to serve an emotive purpose. The dualing male-female singing (remenisant of Stars) is their calling card - both voices are strikingly beautiful and able to evoke staggering emotional complexity given their young age.

Listening to a debut album like this is why I love music, why I am obsessed with it and always looking for that new song, that new sound that will leave me completely speechless. The xx have crafted a nearly flawless and perfect debut - listen and enjoy!

"Basic Space", "Islands" and "Crystalized" are essential starter tracks: LINK


August 27, 2009

Introducing: Washed Out

(Ernest Greene, the man behind Washed Out)

Washed Out is a one man show out of Columbia, South Carolina playing glitchy, loopy electro pop (does it seem like I like that kind of music??) along the lines of Air France, Panda Bear, et al. For me he sounds like the missing link between Panda Bear and M83's Saturdays = Youth. The 80s is an obvious influence, but the music has a timeless quality to it - it is celestrial, breazy and incredibly versatile. I feel like I can listen to this on the beach, a long drive with the top down or getting ready to hit up the town. This versatility comes from Greene's playing with tempo and expectations - all the tracks seem to have push and pull between a dance track and an ambient one and almost all seem to end abruptly leaving you wanting more. "Feel It All Around" LINK is a perfect example of this. "New Theory" sounds like a MGMT track if they downshifted one gear. Washed Out just released their first EP Life of Leisure today and it is available for $3.99 HERE. I have already spun it through a few times - this is going to be on repeat for a while.


August 20, 2009

The End of Lists?

In our current blogger culture, everyone (including yours truly) has an opinion that they want to share and what better way than through ranking our favorite things. Year end lists (and half-year lists see my earlier post for mine) are a staple of just about every music site out there. With the dawn of the new decade approaching it seems like all the major music sites are gearing up for an epic all-out "best of decade" discussion (battle?). I would be lying if I said I wasn't going to partake. Well some of the big guns, Pitchfork and Gorilla v. Bear, have already started their rundown - seems like everyone once to be first out of the gate. As crazy (and somewhat ridiculous) it is that they are starting these lists 4 months early, it has sure brought back some good memories and some incredible tunes back in my current rotation. Both of these lists are fantastic and I will surely have a number of the tracks and albums down as my tops of the decade. For my list though you will have to wait a bit closer to year the meantime.

Check out all of Gorilla v. Bear's lists for:

Tracks here: LINK

Albums here: LINK

Pitchfork's list allows you to listen to all 500 of their top tracks once through in its entirety through the music program lala. Pretty sweet for sampling all this great music. The top 100 here are almost without exception incredible - mandatory listening from the last ten years. If you don't know number 22, "Someone Great" by LCD Soundsystem (profiled earlier in a EYNTKA section) give it a listen - been a little since I did and forgot how utterly brilliant it is. The top 20 comes out tomorrow. LINK

UPDATE: Pretty Much Amazing has posted their list as well - a lot of overlap but pretty great as well: LINK


Introducing: Fanfarlo and Dinosaur Feathers

(Fanfarlo performing live)

Fanfarlo is a London based group with heavy instrumentation along the lines of Arcade Fire or Sufjan Stevens playing everything from trumpet, violin, mandolin to whatever else they can find. Their debut LP, Reservoir, was released earlier this year and with the help of producer Peter Katis (previous work with The National and Interpol) they have made quite the first impression. Fanfarlo follow the orchestral pop laid out by Arcade Fire, The National and Sufjan and Ra Ra Riot. The music is unabashed, openly emotional and brilliantly layered with complex instrumentation. The first track, "I'm a Pilot" LINK, feels very influenced by Arcade Fire with its driving bass line and repeated piano just building and building to its climax. These songs have movements and layers and just seem to build and build. It's not quite Aracde Fire but it is a very strong debut and will sure serve to hold me over until another one of AF's releases. Also check them out playing the Troubadour on September 15th!

Dinosaur Feathers is a three piece out of Brooklyn playing experimental acoustic guitar driven jams like a combination of Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes (weighting these influences to varying degrees for each track). Like Animal Collective on their last album, MPP, Dinosaur Feathers have forged a pop sensibility out of their experimental madness and one that is uniquely their own. The results are on full display in their recently released EP, Early Morning Risers, which is available for FREE download on their website: The title track hints at their past work in an a capella group at Carleton College, but the instrumentation slowly builds to a chorus with gibberish, electronic loops and acoustic jamming (is that a kazzo?) that somehow blends beautiful. Other highlight so far for me has been "Parallel July".


August 14, 2009

The Big Pink at The El Rey: Wed, 11/18

Tickets for this exciting new band went on sale today at 10am. Get them on ticketmaster for $15 each (or more like $25 when you add the Ticketmaster monopoly fees...oh how I despise thee).

Debut album, A Brief History of Love, drops September 22nd.

Read more about The Big Pink in my Introducing post on them from last month.


August 13, 2009


So the internet is all abuzz this morning from a potential Radiohead song leak on Radiohead fan site, At Ease. And for good reason. This song is sick - feels like a natural progression from In Rainbows....taking the beauty and technical perfection of its tracks and tweaking with the sound, adding imperfections and dissonance through its drones and slightly off-beat guitar notes. Feels like "Weird Fishes" meets "All The Best" (the new Thom Yorke cover I blogged on below). Loving this in all its dark beauty!

Thom Yorke spoke (sadly) recently about a new LP from the band being far off if not ever coming down the line (please don't let that be the case) in an interview in The Believer magazine. He did promise releases of new singles, maybe some this seems to fit with the mold.

Check out the MP3 and some more of the backstory at Stereogum: LINK

Listen below:


New Jack White Song from It Might Get Loud

Written and recorded in about 10 minutes - "Fly Farm Blues" is meant more as a demonstration of the writing and recording process, but a sweet lick nonetheless from White. Though (as P4k points out) has a bit of a "Ball and Biscuit" feel to it.

Here is a clip of the recording from It Might Get Loud: LINK


August 11, 2009

Introducing: Volcano Choir

(Volcano Choir debut album, Unmap)

Volcano Choir is a new project from Bon Iver, who's debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was one of the absolute best albums of last year. On this album, he joins forces with Collections of Colonies of Bees, a post-rock outfit from Milwaukee who play instrumental guitar driven experimental music along the lines of Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai. The combination is powerful - adding some brilliant instrumentation to Bon Iver's usually subtle backdrops. The first single off the album, "Island, IS", comes off like a panda bear meets dirty projectors at their more mellow state. At the 2:45 mark the Dirty Projector comparison becomes readily apparent setting up Bon Iver to lead the song to its beautiful climax. This is exciting stuff - I am desperately awaiting the release of the full length on 9/22. Check out the single NOW: LINK

(For Emma, Forever Ago album cover)

For those unfamiliar with Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago is a must. His album is meant to be listened to alone in the woods surrounded by some idyllic setting. His voice is haunting and the emotions he is able to convey are staggering. Try listening to "Skinny Love", maybe my favorite track of 2008, without being moved (on his myspace):


August 7, 2009

R.I.P. John Hughes

John Hughes passed away yesterday at the far too early age of 59 from a heart attack. His films were staples of our youth (I may hold the record for the most Ferris Bueller viewings) and more than any other cultural artifact defined the 80s decade. Hughes was incredibly influential in his use of music in film from the Psychedelic Furs song that inspired Pretty in Pink (with one of the most brilliant soundtracks overall) to Ferris Bueller leading all of Chicago through "Twist and Shout" (my personal favorite). So much of what is going on in current music scene is influenced by the 80s music and 80s spirit embodied in his films. Many acts I have written about here from Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Phoenix, The Big Pink to Passion Pit have clear influences.

Then there is M83, the brilliant French electronic music producer, who raves about Hughes and his influence specifically on his latest album, the exceptional Saturdays=Youth, which Anthony Gonzalez (M83) credits a big debt to Hughes' Pretty In Pink and The Breakfast Club. Saturdays=Youth is a Hughes film soundtrack for our current time. The video below is for M83's "Kim & Jessie" - it has all the teen awkwardness, angst, simplicity and beauty that embodied Hughes' work.

Below is another video that surfaced a few months ago mashing up Phoenix's "Lisztomania" with the brat pack. This was user-generated, but it created so much buzz that the band has been talking about it in interviews. Love this -

And just for fun I have to include this:


August 4, 2009

It Might Get Loud!

A movie with Jack White. The Edge . JIMMY FUCKIN' PAIGE. All sitting around talking music and guitars AND writing music together!! If there is anything else you need to hear to go see this movie then you should stop reading this blog.

Movie opens August 14th.

This preview gives me chills...


Stream The Big Pink's A Brief History of Love Now!

(The debut album cover)

Hot off being featured in my Introducing column, The Big Pink are streaming their whole debut album over at their website, The album won't be released until September 22nd in US so check it out while you can now!


August 3, 2009

Ruminating on (500) Days of Summer

I saw the fantastic film, (500) Days of Summer, last night and am still contemplating its overall impact. What I do know is that you must see this film, even if only for the completely novel take on the romantic comedy and most of all the incredible art direction - this is one of the most innovative and impressive directorial efforts I have seen in a while and it comes from a music video director, Marc Webb, making his feature film debut...amazing. While this blog does not focus on movies, this movie has music at its core and the soundtrack plays beautifully (and hilariously when Hall & Oates "You Make My Dreams" kicks in).

The movie introduced me to a relatively new band, The Temper Trap, from Mebourne, Australia that writes grandiose atmospheric guitar driven rock anthems and "Sweet Disposition" is a perfect example. The song comes on like an old-school U2 cover, but quickly takes on its own character. They just released their debut album, Conditions, in Australia and are releasing it in the UK soon (no US date yet). However, they have a ton of songs on their myspace page so check them out: They worked on the newest album with producer maven, Jim Abbiss, behind the debuts of Arctic Monkeys and Adele so they should be household names in no time. Here is "Sweet Disposition": LINK

(Mark Kozelek is "just one of the out of focus guys" on the far right)

On the car ride back from the film, I stumbled upon an old favorite by Red House Painters, their cover of the lyrically brilliant "All Mixed Up" by The Cars (cover was recorded in 1996 and is found on the incredible record, Songs for a Blue Guitar). The song felt like a perfect fit for the film (for one of its more meloncholy moments) and captures (for me at least) the film's central theme. Matt Kozelek, leader of Red House Painters and also of Sun Kill Moon, is a master of the cover. He takes this already great Cars song, strips it down to its core and allows the lyrics (and his haunting voice) to stand front and center. (Fun fact in my research: Matt Kozelek is the bassist in Stillwater from Almost Famous) Watch the video for Red House Painters' "All Mixed Up": LINK

Here are the stunning lyrics:

she shadows me in the mirror
she never leaves on the light
and some things that i've said to her
they just dont seem to bite

it's all mixed up (x4)

she tricks me into thinking
that i cant believe my eyes
that i wait for her forever
but she never does arrive

it's all mixed up (x4)

she said leave it all to me,
everything will be allright
she said leave it all to me,
everything will be all right

she's always out making pictures
she's always out making scenes,
she's always out the window
when it comes to making dreams.