Mini-Beats – June 2011 – Edition 45

JEFF The BrotherhoodWe Are The Champions (2011, Infinity Cat) ♥♥♥♥
:I knew I was going to love this immediately after hearing the opening 30 seconds of swirling 90’s indie guitar jamminess; it’s sweet and hooky when it needs to be and scuzzy/grungy when it loosens up…kudos!: (buy vinyl)
Bill CallahanApocalypse (2011, Drag City) ♥♥♥½
:it took a few spins for Bill’s ultimate charm to reveal itself on Apocalypse; the arrangements reminded me heavily of what Van Morrison achieved on Astral Weeks only peppered with Callahan’s signature (and unmistakable) baritone; my favorite ‘solo’ release out of the big three: (buy vinyl)
The AntlersBurst Apart (2011, Frenchkiss) ♥♥♥
:I couldn’t enter into this listening experience expecting Deuspice but I wasn’t prepared for such a drastic drop-off in quality; the diversity and emotional buildups have more or less disappeared and been replaced with average mellow-core sprinkled with highs (literally… check that falsetto on ‘Parentheses’) and lows (various and sundry cheesy moments throughout the album); RIYL Grizzly Bear: (buy vinyl)
Mumford & SonsSigh No More (2010, V2) ♥♥♥
:don’t cast this rating off as backlash for their enormous explosion in popularity…this is normally my bag…however, the formula of hushed, introspective intro then banjo hoedown breakdown, verse, chorus, verse chorus gets old after about hm, the first 3 tracks: (buy vinyl)
GenerationalsTrust EP (2010, Park The Van) ♥♥♥♥
:this band has officially taken over the spot left blank by Spoon’s last couple of albums; each of these 4 tracks revealed charms on different levels; RIYL The Love Language, Spoon:
Sin FangSummer Echoes (2011, Morr) ♥♥♥
:pleasant and playful collection of tunes from the frontman of Iceland’s premier indie-pop/electronic band, Seabear; those keen on the Morr sound will probably extract a bit more enjoyment from this than I did; RIYL Múm, Tunng: (buy vinyl)
Parenthetical GirlsPrivilege Pt. III: Make and Mend Do EP (2011, Slender Means) ♥♥♥
:surely you’ve heard that the Privilege album will be split up into 5 fairly limited 12″ EP’s, each volume hand-numbered in the blood of a different member of the band; regardless of what you think of the music found within THAT will be hard to top!; RIYL Owen Pallett: (buy vinyl)
Israel Nash GripkaBarn Doors & Concrete Floors (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
:very accessible rural Southern-influenced rock ‘n folk with Steve Shelley on drums (huh?); I could see this being gobbled up by fans of the current wave of indie/Americana/festival-folk RIYL Neil Young, Ryan Adams:
Dreamers Of The GhettoDreamers Of The Ghetto (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:a unique Bloomington collective of (mostly) family members with deeply affecting vocals and a rather proletarian feel and approach to their music; we should expect big things from these guys…hopefully a vinyl release of this album…:
Maggie BjörklundComing Home (2011, Bloodshot) ♥♥♥½
:file this under desert-folk with many helpings of spaghetti and pedal steel guitar thrown in for authenticity (Joey Burns from Calexico plays a huge part in this..) plus tasteful vocal appearances by Mark Lanegan, Jon Auer and Rachel Flotard (Visqueen); the Danish-born Björklund is most known for her pedal steel playing and session work as well as her full-time gig, Darleens; RIYL Calexico, Giant Sand: (buy vinyl)
Bon IverBon Iver (2011, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥♥½
:we can all agree that Justin has powerful & easily likeable/discernible vocals but, unlike Forever, they’re rather one-dimensional here and a lot of these songs have no open space to let them breath and develop into memorable passages/chapters; still, most of this is above-average and admittedly better than I expected except for the cringe-inducing, Phil Collins-esque shart that closes up the album…: (buy vinyl)
The DeloreansAmerican Craze (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:self-described eccentric power-pop from Louisville filtered through show-tunes, modern psychedelia and vaudevillian/baroque pop; a most pleasing experience that very few critics will be able to pinpoint or set to words very easily; couple of these tracks (like the opener and ‘Non’) actually reminded me of Devotchka: (buy vinyl)
Epic45Weathering (2011, Make Mine) ♥♥♥½
:a breeze of an album that strays very little from their tested formula of open-spaced dream-pop; this feels a lot like The Antlers’ Hospice without Peter’s signature falsetto/delivery if you need a reference point:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.It’s A Corporate World (2011, Warner) ♥♥♥
:there’s a juicy rumor going about that Mr. Zott is actually the lead singer for Victorious Secret, the winners of the freecreditscore.com contest last year…but as for the music goes I feel like I’ve heard all of these songs before…done much better…aside from the gorgeous single-of-the-year candidate ‘Morning Thought’; RIYL Local Natives, Generationals: (buy vinyl)
Centro-maticCandidate Waltz (2011, Undertow) ♥♥♥
:definitely not Will Johnson’s finest work but these tunes are easy on the ears and his voice is always a welcome addition to any verse/chorus rock formula: (buy vinyl)
Love InksE.S.P. (2011, Hell, Yes) ♥♥♥
:simple, soft-spoken, indie-pop from Austin that begins and ends in a blink of a (black)eye; fans of The XX might dig this: (buy vinyl)
Hunx And His PunxToo Young To Love (2011, Hardly Art) ♥♥♥♥
:a throwback variety of queer-core that champions all that is good with the sub-genre of Spector-influenced garage…handclaps, oohs/aahs, Grease/Rocky Horror flashbacks, his/her call-and-response; if you’re looking for infectious smiles and fun in 2011 consider this your gold standard; next up – ’09’s Gay Singles: (buy vinyl)
Eleventh Dream DayRiot Now (2011, Thrill Jockey) ♥♥½
:I struggled to find any remnants of their occasionally brilliant past; Riot seemed sloppy and disjointed but not in an interesting Chicago scene kinda way: (buy vinyl)
Way YesWalkability (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:couple of dudes from the Columbus, OH area who take advantage of the Afrobeats-and-indiepop trend on their sophomore EP; RIYL The Dodos:

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