Mini-Beats – February 2011 – Edition 37

Cloud NothingsCloud Nothings (2011, Carpark) ♥♥♥
-short, driving, syrupy-sweet indie-pop songs in the Superchunk or Get Up Kids vein; these tracks differ from early singles as they’re a bit more polished and are based around one-liner choruses repeated ad nauseum with little else going on…I was expecting more-
EulogiesTear The Fences Down (2011, Dangerbird) ♥♥½
-LA collective has a penchant for putting one or two really catchy/awesome songs on their LP’s and filling the gaps with mid-tempo pop/rock songs that leave little lasting impression-
AnnabelHere We Are Tomorrow 7″ (2010, Tiny Engines) ♥♥♥½
-another solid release from the Tiny Engines label; these 4 songs (or 5 digitally speaking) pick up right where their lone LP left off with a ton of gang vocals and driving guitar rhythms; a stellar mix of indie, punk and emo to be had here-
Robert PollardSpace City Kicks (2011, Guided By Voices) ♥♥♥
-another notch in a consecutive string of solid releases for Bob (see the latest Boston Spaceships and Lifeguards albums for proof); all but one of these tracks falls below the 3:00 mark so things fire up and end quickly in classic, patented GBV blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion-
Asobi SeksuFluorescence (2011, Polyvinyl) ♥♥♥♥
-each new release finds the production getting crisper and Yuki’s signature vocals slightly more discernible but the trademark swirling synth/dream-pop sound is prevalent and beautiful; a few more spins and this might top 2006’s Citrus
Drive-By TruckersGo-Go Boots (2011, ATO) ♥♥½
-no one can deny the intriguing, tragedy-ridden songwriting chops these guys have displayed over the years but I find the band gets more and more predictable and less memorable with each new album, some moments here even bordered on uncomfortable bar-band fodder *shivers*-
Say HiUm, Uh Oh (2011, Barsuk) ♥♥♥
-this is definitely darker and more minimal compared to releases past and while the hooks are there (you just need to give them time to bubble to the top…) Um is miles behind the top-tier indie-pop of the first half of the SHTYM catalog-
Ivan & AlyoshaFathers Be Kind EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥½
-named for two characters in a Dostoevsky novel but the music is not as bleak and dreary as that would imply; this is simplistic and, at times, uplifting folk-rock that suffers only from its lack of tempo change and diversity-
The Binary Marketing ShowBecause Of This, This and This (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-collage-pop from this Brooklyn duo that follows in the footsteps of their impressive catalog; this is a variation of folk-tronica with tribal, wind-swept melodies and organic instrumentation; RIYL The Books, The Microphones
The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead (2011, Capitol) ♥♥
-I keep giving each new release a few listens in hopes I will latch onto something and it still sounds like folkie, dad-rock to me (a step above James Taylor maybe?) but it’s still far more listenable than the horrificly bloated Hazards
Lia IcesGrown Unknown (2011, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥♥♥
-minimal, almost naked, goth-pop centered around Lia’s dynamic/expressive vocals and various string accompaniments; includes a duet with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) on ‘Daphne’, one of my favorite tracks of the year thus far; RIYL St. Vincent, Glasser
Scattered TreesSympathy (2011, Roll Call) ♥♥♥♥
-promising indie-pop that seems like an oddity coming out of Chicago these days; equal parts mellow and boisterous but wholly therapeutic; almost every song is ready for immediate mixtape placement-
Brown ReclusePanoptic Mirror Maze (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
-9 songs (3 of them instrumental interlude pieces) that hint at a more playful psychedelic pop side (read: Of Montreal/Apples In Stereo) rather than the Belle & Sebby pop of the previous Soft Skin EP; this serves as a primer for the upcoming LP to be released on Slumberland and it’s also available as a free download here
PS I Love YouMeet Me At Muster Station (2010, Paper Bag) ♥♥♥♥
-a feast of melodic, fuzzy/distorted guitar & drums exercises with vocal nods to Wolf Parade & Arcade Fire; omitted from 2010’s year-end list only because I was late in getting to sample the full LP-
Virgin Of The BirdsFugitive Works EP (2011, Abandoned Love) ♥♥♥
-the 4th installment in Jon Rooney’s free EP series that mines the same territory as the previous 3, affecting lounge-y, indie-pop with a sincere focus on songwriting..get it here
The DøThe Slippery Slope (2011, Get Down!) ♥♥♥♥
-quite eccentric, groove-based neo-dance-pop that even borders on the vaudevillian at times; the attentive listener will find a smorgasbord of sounds being deployed in the background of almost all of these tracks, couple that with creative percussion/beats and it makes for one of the most dynamic releases I’ve heard in recent memory; RIYL Björk, Feist, Lykki Li
BikiniRIP JDS EP (2010, Lefse) ♥♥♥½
-sparkling, ambient pop featuring a lot of chill(wave) traits but on the less experimental, super-melodic side of the genre; keeping an eye out for a full-length…-
Moon PearlPearl Jams EP (2010, Life’s Blood) ♥♥♥½
-my second experience with the Life’s Blood label after the engaging Pregnant LP and Moon Pearl’s scuzzy, avant-garage noise seems like it fits perfectly into the label’s mission of wanting to defy classification; the EP will soon be re-recorded and renamed (bummer) but this version still available as a free download on zee Bandcamp
Painted PalmsCanopy EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-nothing tops the shimmering nugget of tropical synth-pop glory on the opening track but there’s enough goodness through these 5 tracks to keep it in rotation; o yeah, get it here compliments of the band-
Porcelain RaftGone Blind EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-Mauro Remiddi finds himself branching out from his main gig (Sunny Day Sets Fire) to record a couple of poignant, mid-fi gems amongst half-realized noodlings (or at least I hope they are…)-
French FilmsGolden Sea EP (2010, Gaea) ♥♥♥♥
-the genetic makeup of this Finnish clan is wholly comprised of the new wave of beach-combing post-punk propelled by driving basslines and ooh-aah’s like the Drums or Surfer Blood by way of Orange Juice and Chamelons UK; can’t get enough of this sound!-
ChappoPlastique Universe EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥½
-the title track will sound familiar as its the background for a Ford/Apple/somethingcorporate commercial but you’ll find little else of value here-
Radical FaceGhost (2007, Morr) ♥♥♥♥
-at first this LP seemed a little too predictable outside of a few mopey gems but it’s charms reveal themselves with repeated listens; makes sense as Ben Cooper (the man behind Radical Face) produced the first two Astronautalis albums, both of which I love-
Easter IslandBetter Things EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
-when my top 40 lovin’ co-worker yelled out from another room that the guitar in the leadoff track ‘Proud’ sounded like Coldplay it hit hard and left a bad taste in my mouth; thankfully, there’s a bit more going on here to allow me to get over that initial reaction; RIYL Teenage Fanclub, Bends-era Radiohead
No JoyGhost Blonde (2010, Mexican Summer) ♥♥♥½
-a hazy novella of 90’s shoegaze and noise pop that seems to end at least 15 minutes before you want it to, unfortunately-
Fergus & GeronimoUnlearn (2011, Hardly Art) ♥♥½
-usually I gobble up this sort of lo-fi, garage-pop stuff up but I wasn’t as impressed with this LP unlike the group’s earlier singles-
U.S. RoyaltyMirrors (2011, Family) ♥♥♥
-DC-based collective who seem like they’d be more at home on the west coast; Mirrors is feelgood rock-n-roll with melodies and guitar jams I could swear were lifted straight out of the 70’s Fleetwood Mac canon (see ‘Monte Carlo’ for proof); RIYL Dr. Dog, Dawes

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Mini-Beats – February 2011 – Edition 37

  1. Love the stripped down mini reviews! Lots of people can waffle – much harder to be concise. Bravo

    • Thanks! Most times I find an album can be summed up in short, quick stabs. I don’t have the attention span or time to read through 5 paragraphs of college-style thesaurus-and-essay abuse! I admittedly ‘stole’ the idea from the great 75orless.com format but we’ll keep that between you and me…

  2. Pingback: Download the Fugitive Works EP from Virgin of the Birds | Abandoned Love Records

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