Mini-Beats – August 2011 – Edition 49


Natural Child
1971 (2011, Infinity Cat) ♥♥♥
:lots of vintage Stonesy blues ‘n roll for the enthusiasts but I don’t think this has enough character to extend itself beyond that audience; that said, this album could serve as a suitable backdrop for a party involving rednecks, cheap beer/drugs and the confederate flag: (buy vinyl)
The War On DrugsSlave Ambient (2011, Secretly Canadian) ♥♥♥♥
:the full album experience didn’t stray too far from the general feeling one got after listening to the first couple of singles for weeks on end; picture Bruce Springsteen cooing/howling into a steady, swirling stream of guitar atmospheres and then point it through a prism of current-day indie rock somebodies = the exact opposite of a sophomore slump; RIYL Kurt Vile: (buy vinyl)
Paul SimonSo Beautiful Or So What (2011, Hear) ♥♥♥½
:Simon can still write the occasional brilliant song and while this will not add up to his work with Garfunkel or Graceland, it manages to incorporate enough charm, personality and depth to propel this on to many writer’s year-end lists: (buy vinyl)
The Michael J. Epstein Memorial LibraryVolume One (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:buoyant, ‘intelligent’ indie-pop not unlike anything you’d have heard on the Magic Marker label over the years… features members of Neutral Uke Hotel and The Motion Sickness:
Wugazi
13 Chambers (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:I am no fan of mashups in general but this combo brought me much pleasure and not just for nostalgic purposes; these beats, rhymes and grooves go together like chocolate & peanut butter & my mouth; mountains better than The Grey Album:
Young Buffalo
– Young Von Prettylips EP (2011, Cantora) ♥♥♥½
:somehow this Mississippi collective has flown under the big indie blog radars; I say this because their sound is very in – a culmination of 90’s indie rock moves blended up with quirky newcomers like Fanfarlo, Local Natives and Cloud Cult; lots of big choruses and call-and-response vocals to please the ‘now’ indie crowd:
Christine OwmanThrowing Knives (2011, River Jones) ♥♥♥♥
:Christine is a Swedish-born multi-instrumentalist infatuated with the burlesque; as her press sheet and several live videos will attest, she is known for her spontaneous actions and homemade video projections during live performances but on record you’ll find very capable songwriting with lots of cello, uke and dimly-lit undertones…kind of like the female counterpart to Nick Cave..this also has a bit of an early Liz Phair feel to it:
Sad AccordionsThe Colors and The Kill EP (2011, Rainboot) ♥♥♥½
:it’s kind of weird, almost every track here immediately reminded me of another band that I love whether it be GBV, Wolf Parade, Clap Your Hands or The Antlers so the EP was a little difficult to pin down to just one sound but, hey, quality songs are quality songs, right?:
JoasihnoYou Say: Oh Well (2011, Red Can) ♥♥♥♥
:Joasihno is really just Germany’s Cico Beck (great name, if I do say) and he likes arranging pretty songs that run the gamut from quiet/hushed folk to sparkling chillwave type numbers; one of the many great discoveries from the monthly Musical Alliance Pact mixes:
Oscar & MartinFor You (2011, Two Bright Lakes) ♥♥♥♥
:I tried really hard to not like this for it calls upon the recently-trendy R&B/dubstep school-of-thought but there’s an adorable geek element to these songs that made me want to keep playing it over and over again; Sean from StG got it right when he described this as a combination of James Blake and Dirty Projectors…I’d throw house favorites CocoRosie in there as well; best thing I’ve heard from Oz in a few years; formerly known as Psuche (Ensemble) to their fellow countrymen:
Gem TrailsTimeshares EP (2011, The Curatorial Club) ♥♥
:this is basically the soundtrack to any number of ‘life on earth’ Discovery channel shows you stumble across while fumbling through your TV guide; I expected something a little more scintillating from the Woodsman frontman…good news is he’s giving it away:
The Gifted ChildrenThe Portable Sun EP (2011, Tinhorn Planet) ♥♥♥♥
:another classic entry into the seemingly endless TGC catalog; much like recent releases Jeff & the gang have perfected the art of minimalist dream-pop focused around piano ballads and, in the case of this EP, pessimism:
Big Spider’s BackMemory Man (2011, Circle Into Square) ♥♥♥
:a swirly, yet gentle, concoction of tempered bliss-pop and ambience from Seattle’s Yair Rubenstein; there’s a couple of real gems here (like whoa, Black Chow) but not enough stimulation to make me recommend the album as a whole: (buy vinyl)
Unknown Mortal OrchestraUnknown Mortal Orchestra (2011, Fat Possum) ♥♥♥
:shortly after sitting down with this I realized I had heard half of these songs many times over from my travels on turntable.fm ‘indie’ rooms; for those unfamiliar you’ll be greeted with an amalgation of 60’s psyche, soul and funk all awash with reverb and wrapped up into something the kids can dance along to; RIYL Peter Bjorn & John, Foster The People, Dungen: (buy vinyl)
The Japanese War EffortSurrender To Summer EP (2011, Song, By Toad) ♥♥♥♥
:see front-page review: (buy vinyl)
Turf WarYears Of Living Dangerously (2011, Old Flame) ♥♥♥
:mid-fi, meat-and-potatoes garage-punk-rock from the bowels of Atlanta, GA; couple of nice party jams to be extracted from this release:
Y La BambaLupon (2010, Tender Loving Empire) ♥♥♥½
:it takes a few listens to get over Luzelena Mendoza’s sweetly irresistible voice and reveal all the charm and eccentricity strewn about this album’s 11 tracks like the downright depressing ‘Monster’ or the haunting backdrop of ‘Juniper’; love love love the tracks with multi-part harmonies (Fasting In San Francisco); also see their poignant Tiny Desk Concert: (buy vinyl)
BeirutThe Rip Tide (2011, Pompeii) ♥♥♥½
:admittedly, I’ve not been a huge supporter of Zach’s endeavors since the unstoppable duo of albums from ’06/’07 (Gulag Orkestar & Lon Gisland EP) but this has struck a favorable chord with my scrutinous earholes even though the formula is quite basic – brass, marching band drums, Zach’s sleepy-eyed croon and a batch of quality songs: (buy vinyl)

 

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