Mini-Beats – August 2011 – Edition 48

Cults- Cults (2011, Columbia) ♥♥♥½
:this comes very close to being deserving of the abundance of hype its received over the past year; mostly culled from singles that have slowly emerged over the past year and then rounded out with a few other tracks that fit nicely in with their easily digested 60′s pop á la Jesus & Mary Chain (Stoned & Dethroned era…) by way of Spector: (buy vinyl)
Okkervil RiverI Am Very Far (2011, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥½
:Will & Co. have fallen into a category of classy, sophisticated, story-telling pop-rock that, while capable on a literary level, puts little to no focus into the actual music itself; I must have listened to this 3 solid plays through and not a single note displayed staying power which does not bode well: (buy vinyl)
Point Juncture, WAHandsome Orders (2011, Mt. Fuji) ♥♥♥
:Portland collective who have not changed their m.o. over the years – warm, organic dream-pop with unpretentious intentions and boy/girl vocal tradeoffs; you can pick up 2 of their earlier releases gratis here; I wrote a review for the Juxtapony EP review here and featured several of their songs on monthly mixes: (buy vinyl)
Warm WeatherDances EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:exceptional indie-pop with Beach Boy influences and multi-part harmonies abounds; their sound is highly reminiscent of Vampire Weekend with nods to Afro-beat guitar rhythms and percussion but this is hardly a knockoff band; available as a free download here – go get it!:
The Nighty NiteDimples EP (2011, Graveface) ♥♥♥½
:new project for Paper Chase ringleader John Congleton will have you wondering what the difference between the two projects is and the answer is…nothing; 4 songs presented in such a dark and eerie manner that only John can conjure up including a tasteful Magnetic Fields cover to round out the EP: (buy vinyl)
IdahoYou Were A Dick (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:the king of all sad shit, Jeff Martin, returns with his first album since 2005′s spectacular The Lone Gunman and the formula hasn’t changed…ethereal soundscapes peppered with minimal amounts of piano plucks and guitar atmosphere and Jeff’s forlorn vocals; not going to top the finer moments of his past but I still expect to see this on a few year-end lists: (buy vinyl)
BattlesGloss Drop (2011, Warp) ♥♥½
:a mess of an album if I were to say so myself; contrary to what I’ve been hearing Tyondai Braxton is most definitely ‘missing’ from this equation; occasionally you’ll hear an interesting Books-like embellishment but that and the ‘human element’ of cameo appearances does very little to keep this in rotation: (buy vinyl)
Other LivesTamer Animals (2011, Play It Again Sam) ♥♥♥½
:turns out this is the same group of musicians who recorded under the Kunek moniker about 5 years back and released a pretty decent instrumental LP (go here for a very interesting back-story on lead singer Jesse Tabish that involves his old band and the All-American Rejects…); anyways, if you are familiar with Kunek this is only slightly different so I’m puzzled about the name change; RIYL Shearwater, Bon Iver: (buy vinyl)
The Loose SaluteGetting Over Being Under (2011, Graveface) ♥♥½
:breezy pop with a slight bit of twang featuring a few former(?) members of Mojave 3; really, really loved their debut EP back in ’04 but since then they’ve re-worked their style to a harmless (though ineffectual) sound: (buy vinyl)
Little SurLittle Sur EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:a sparkling gem of a folk EP here with lots of warm melodies, banjo and rustic campfire vocals (courtesy of Olivia Gerber); available as a free download on their Bandcamp – highly rec’d!:
ObitsMoody, Standard and Poor (2011, Sub Pop) ♥♥♥♥
:not nearly as dissonant as Drive Like Jehu or as propulsive as Hot Snakes but this is still pretty fantastic garage rock ‘n roll packed tight with hooks and Rick Froberg’s signature howl; sure to please fans of Dirtnap and In The Red Records catalogs!; RIYL Marked Men, Mind Spiders, The Catheters: (buy vinyl)
RefrigeratorDangerous (2011, Shrimper) ♥♥
:this isn’t the electric/eccentric ‘fridge of old on the classic Shrimper catalog but merely a shell of its former self with Allan Callaci only wielding an acoustic guitar and a lyric sheet; this comes off as too much guy-and-a-guitar-in-a-dive-bar for my liking; if you need a reference point think a decaffeinated version of Dean Wells (Capstan Shafts) but not nearly as good as that sounds:
IceageNew Brigade (2011, Dais) ♥♥♥½
:once the foreboding intro ends we’re all treated to an onslaught of buzz-saw guitars and angsty post-punk energy; this is raw & messy art-punk descended from the Times New Viking-via-Wire school of thought and its likely the most veritable Danish export of the last ten years aside from maybe the Copenhagen Wheel…: (buy vinyl)
Brown RecluseEvening Tapestry (2011, Slumberland) ♥♥♥½
:one of my favorite local Philly acts returns with another great collection of psyche and paisley pop with simple but enlivened arrangements and indelible melodies; RIYL Essex Green, Belle & Sebastian, the direction Of Montreal should’ve taken their music: (buy vinyl)
Ringo DeathStarrColour Trip (2011, Club AC30) ♥♥♥½
:as heard before on x blog, this Austin group are wholly derivative of the Jesus & Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine/Pale Saints school of sound but these songs are just too good to pass up and cast off as mere lesser-thans…feast and prosper!: (buy vinyl)
Eleanor FriedbergerLast Summer (2011, Merge) ♥♥♥♥
:a whimsically diverse and accessible offering from one (major) half of the Fiery Furnaces (whom, for the record, I’ve never liked…); it feels like Eleanor has successfully culled bits and pieces of the last 3-4 decades and churned out one of this year’s finest LP’s: (buy vinyl)
BraidCloser To Closed EP (2011, Polyvinyl) ♥♥
:I’m sad to announce that I cannot endorse this ‘modern’ version of a band I’ve held dear and true to my heart for the past 15 years; these 4 songs don’t have much oomph/life/energy behind them: (buy vinyl)
Black BooksAn Introduction To EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:I was quite impressed with this debut 4-song 10″ and ashamed it took me so long to listen to it after featuring ‘The Big Idea’ on the June 2011 mixtape; fans of sleepy dream-pop (this guy) will love this; RIYL Beach House, Band Of Horses: (buy vinyl)
Colin StetsonNew History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges (2011, Constellation) ♥♥♥♥
:I’ve gone on record numerous times to decry my hatred for the saxophone…however, Colin’s left-field skronking and ‘circular breathing technique’ adds a human element that takes this instrument to an entirely different level; it even works when he’s accompanied by avant-songstress Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond on a few passages; given that I don’t travel too far into the depths of experimental music this could very well be my favorite release of the year in that realm: (buy vinyl)
Nick JainaThe Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here Are Gone (2011, Hush) ♥♥♥♥
:Nick has finally topped what I thought to be his master work (read my review of 2005′s The Bluff Of All Time) and I would’ve never expected it to arrive in such a way – 10 different female vocalists, including BTID faves Laura Gibson, Luze (Y La Bamba), Amanda Spring (Point Juncture, WA), Jolie Holland & Corrina Repp, tackling an eccentric array of genres ranging from alt-country ballads to jazzy lounge and even playful (dare I say) twee sounds on ‘The President Of The Chess Club’; I kept trying to turn it off and move on to the next album in my queue but it kept pulling me back in…:
White DenimD (2011, Downtown) ♥♥♥½
:when these boys from Austin aren’t raising hairs with flute-driven psyche numbers their getting their 70′s hippie folk jam shiz on; WD have managed to take sounds I’m typically not impressed with and turn them into something tangible and impressive; glad I took a friend’s advice on this because I found nothing of note on their last Daytrotter; RIYL Dr. Dog, Blitzen Trapper, Black Mountain: (buy vinyl)

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