Mini-Beats – July 2011 – Edition 47

Gray YoungStaysail (2011, 307 Knox) ♥♥♥½
:very melodic, atmospheric post-rock that relies heavily on sounds pioneered by The Appleseed Cast; while not the most unique showing, Staysail still struck me as solid songwriting, especially in a genre that rarely moves me anymore: (buy vinyl)
Trouble Books & Mark McGuireTrouble Books & Mark McGuire (2011, Bark and Hiss) ♥♥♥
:combine TB’s warm folktronica and McGuire’s ambient guitar drones and this will be exactly what you think that marriage would sound like: (buy vinyl)
O’DeathOutside (2011, Ernest Jenning Recording Co.) ♥♥½
:I just can’t seem to latch onto what these guys have been doing; there’s even less of that darkside, Gothic Americana/folk than previous records and the production is sleek and flawless; I think at this point the band seems like an Okkervil River knockoff moreso than the potential pioneers of their own sub-genre: (buy vinyl)
By SurpriseMountain Smashers (2011, Topshelf) ♥♥♥½
:these bespectacled Jersey boys have put together an unorthodox, but welcoming combination of 90’s slacker indie-rock, youthful Promise Ring energy and every English professor’s dusty bookshelves; come for the hyper numbers, stay for the variety: (buy vinyl)
My Morning JacketCircuital (2011, ATO) ♥♥½
:I can’t really say why this band has never done anything for me other than ‘they’re boring’; nothing really sticks in your head or forces your eyebrows north: (buy vinyl)
Hospital ShipsLonely Twin (2011, Graveface) ♥♥♥
:Jordan Geiger has built up quite a resume with a few excellent Minus Story records, part-time gigs with Appleseed Cast and Shearwater and this, his ‘solo’ venture that exhibits many of the same as all of the above; wasn’t as keen on this as I was the debut but there’s enough quality to give it few spins: (buy vinyl)
KindercastleNumber B (2011, Yewknee) ♥♥♥½
:this baby is all over the pop rainbow with samples and nods to free-form Parisian pop or the (dare I say) chillwavin’ Pale Noon; these 2 lads are heavily influenced by ELO and it shows; you might know one half of the duo as Uncle Skeleton; an entertaining listen with endless twists and turns: (buy vinyl)
Alexa WoodwardIt’s A Good Life Honey If You Don’t Grow Weary (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:I’ve been a fan of Alexa’s for a few years now, slowly catching up on her previous releases and I’m always smitten by her affecting, world-weary vocals and minimal, folk accompaniment (most notably the banjo); It’s A Good Life is unquestionably a charmer from start to finish and it’s available as a name-your-price download (free if you pass it along to friends!); RIYL Sharon van Etten, Joanna Newsom:
The KillsBlood Pressures (2011, Domino) ♥♥♥½
:it had just been brought to my attention that Alison Mosshart was the former lead singer for Discount which explains why I unashamedly like this; this is a very minimal, bare-bones variety of garage-pop that bands like Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and The Raveonettes have been making a living off of; it seems a lot of critics disagree but I prefer this to their semi-heralded Midnight Boom LP a few years back: (buy vinyl)
TanlinesVolume On (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
:hard to believe a former member of Don Caballero comprises 1/2 of this duo as this is ready-made tropical beats that ride a not-quite-chill wave (too much open space and minimalism) but close enough to get the hipsteros sweatin’ up a storm at the Barbary; really dig Real Life and the Glasser-assisted Z but this sound is best left to short singles and EP’s:
The Capstan ShaftsKind Empires (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:it would appear that Dean felt it was time for a return to form after a virtually ignored release on venerable Rainbow Quartz; this is classic Shafts – snappy lo-fi bursts of pop noise with Dean’s signature voice jockeying for attention:
DaybreakerThe Northbound Trains EP (2011, Pure Noise) ♥♥½
:this is a case of maturing punks branching out to melodic punk rock ‘n roll with slightly dramatic vocals and ooh-ooh’s; s’ok but there’s not much that’ll make me come back to this in the future; features former(?) members of Ambitions and With Honor: (buy vinyl)
DolfishYour Love Is Bumming Me Out EP (2011, Indiecater) ♥♥♥½
:a handful of heartbreak songs (released on Valentines Day, actually) but coated in humor rather than whining and mulling about; I’d be curious to hear more from Max Sollisch (sole member) as his voice and approach are rather unique:
Kids On A Crime SpreeWe Love You So Bad (2011, Slumberland) ♥♥♥½
:above-average Jesus & Mary Chain worship featuring the dude behind twee folks’ faves Ciao Bella & From Bubblegum To Sky (Mario Hernandez) and Becky from #poundsign# & Scrabbel note…certainly not unique in any way but it’s on Slumberland so you know it’s worth your time and I dare you to pry some of these tracks from out of your head; RIYL The Raveonettes, The Big Pink: (buy vinyl)
The SwordWarp Riders (2010, Kemado) ♥♥
:a few decent metal virtuoso instrumentals but when the vocals kick in it’s waaaayyy too much 70’s ‘hard rock’ influence for me to get into this: (buy vinyl)
Panda BearTomboy (2011, Paw Tracks) ♥♥½
:remember that Justin Bieber song slowed down like 10,000x that went viral about 6 months ago? this is about 50 minutes of that – hollowed out shells of Animal Collective songs that might serve you well as mood music (ya know, what record shop owners play to prove to you how above you they are) but I can’t see myself reaching for this much in the future; I did, however, enjoy the slight dub influences on a few songs and Sonic Boom’s (obvious) contributions: (buy vinyl)
SerynThis Is Where We Are (2011, Velvet Blue) ♥♥♥½
:fans of fragile/delicate melodies, multi-part harmonies, clean/crisp production and folk instrumentation (banjo, uke, ‘mouth sounds’, etc.) will be pleased with this Denton collective’s debut; the rather articulate mix of uplifting and melancholic moments help this to stand out from all the one-dimensional artists in this category: (buy vinyl)
Lil DaggersKing Corpse EP (2011, Song, By Toad) ♥♥♥
:melodic garage in the Dirtnap vein from the swamps of Florida; this serves as a prelude to their upcoming debut full-length on Limited I Fanfare; RIYL Marked Men, Cloud Nothings: (buy vinyl)

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