Mini-Beats – November 2010

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam BandWhere The Messengers Meet (2010, Dead Oceans) ♥♥½
-i wasn’t particularly smitten with any of the sounds on here until the last few tracks…perhaps too late; oddly, this is the same exact feeling I had with their debut…shenanigans!-
GlasserRing (2010, True Panther) ♥♥♥♥
-the beautiful Cameron Mesirow has blessed us with her most celestial voice set to electronic ryhthms that will no doubt bounce and slink their way into your must-have year-end lists; her father happens to be a member of the Blue Man Group, for what it’s worth…-
StereofanYou Can’t Go Home Again (2007, Space Photo) ♥♥½
-Bloomington, IN husband/wife duo checks in with their sophomore release which, unfortunately, doesn’t do much to expound upon their folk-pop gem of a debut-
Kid IcarusImaginary Songs & Aluminum Hits (2010, Summersteps) ♥♥♥½
-see front page review
Cotton JonesTall Hours In The Glowstream (2010, Suicide Squeeze) ♥♥♥♥
-it seems like everything has finally fallen into place for Michael and Whitney after the terribly unimpressive Paranoid Cocoon; the warm, organic texture of the production propels this into a category of its own (Midwestern soul?); in the top ten for ’10, easily; RIYL Roseanne and Johnny, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Shy MirrorsReactors EP (2010, Thinking About The Needle) ♥♥♥♥
-do you ever find yourself wishing that Superchunk would record No Pocky For Kitty and On The Mouth over and over again? Meeee too!; the second release on No Love For Ned’s super-limited record label and every song is mixtape-worthy, no kidding-
Strand Of OaksPope Killdragon (2010, eMusic) ♥♥♥½
-mope-folk not unlike Will Johnson or Bill Callahan but with a little more to offer by way of diversity, loud/soft dynamics, lyric repetition, droning and even a few hints of stoner-rock allegiance-
Magic KidsMemphis (2010, True Panther) ♥♥♥
-infectious, good-times twee/indie-pop that thankfully clocks in at about a half hour; too much of this will rot your teeth out-
Sun AirwayNocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier (2010, Dead Oceans) ♥♥♥½
-i was surprised to see out of all the recent Animal Collective devotees that Sun Airway was signed to Dead Oceans but this debut of some older tracks re-recorded as well as a handful of new songs makes for a solid listening experience capable of inducing a dream-like state-
Ambience AffairPatterns EP (2010, Indiecater) ♥♥♥
-Scottish dream-pop that offers up a lot of potential; RIYL Wintersleep, Aarktica
Olan MillPine (2010, Serein) ♥♥♥
-delicate movie-score variety post-rock that serves as excellent background music but little else-
VersusOn The Ones and Threes (2010, Merge) ♥♥
-don’t expect the edgy, seat-of-your-pants version of Versus that you were listening to 10+ years ago in your indie rock formative years; this is mostly ineffective and lifeless-
Someone Still Loves You Boris YeltsinLet It Sway (2010, Polyvinyl) ♥♥♥
-still a great moniker, still very average indie-pop with one or two worthy mixtape tracks….EP next time?; RIYL Free Energy, Fountains Of Wayne, Nerfherder
The WalkmenLisbon (2010, Fat Possum) ♥♥♥♥
-10 years into their career and the lads in The Walkmen have unquestionably carved themselves out a definitive niche/sound in today’s indie scene by which a hundred other artists can be judged against; oh, the record? it’s great, maybe even their best-
Arcade FireThe Suburbs (2010, Merge) ♥♥♥♥
-I tried not to unjustly over-analyze this LP like I believe many critics have; it’s a seemingly perfect move away from the bitter, ineffectiveness of Neon Bible into a more relaxed state of melodic (and sometimes satirical) indie-rock that most of us know they can excel at; it’s solid and consistent from start to finish with perfect bookend tracks, thus making this their best effort to date-
Lord HuronInto The Sun EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-a short safari into a tropical landscape built on the heels of Animal Collective’s success-
Pepper RabbitBeauregard (2010, Kanine) ♥♥♥½
-Nawlins duo comprised of multi-instrumentalists Xander and Luc; there are several beautiful moments to soak yourself in here-
VA – Afro Rock Volume 1 (2010, Strut) ♥♥♥½
-a collection of 70’s Afro-beat unknowns re-issued on the dub/reggae/Afrobeat-centric Strut Records; I can see every ancient, unkempt record store owner spinning this in their shops to create a ‘groovy’ atmosphere and that, if for no other reason, is why I love and recommend this!-
Carolina Chocolate DropsGenuine Negro Jig (2010, Nonesuch) ♥♥½
-lord knows I love this hee-haw, porch-swing-on-a-hot-sunny-day, bluegrass sound with lots of banjo, kazoo, jug etc. but this came off a little too predictable/kitschy as opposed to feeling genuinely Appalachian; the cover of ‘Hit ‘Em Up Style’ is fun though-
The ThermalsPersonal Life (2010, Kill Rock Stars) ♥♥♥
-simple songs about love and heartbreak that stray from their normal instense indie-punk diatribes against The Man and whatnot; takes a little getting used to but not as repugnant as some have claimed-
UnivoxUnivox (2010, ROIR) ♥♥½
-a scattered affair of garage, psychedelia and fuzz-pop; seemed like there was a little bit too much variety here, I’d prefer them to stick to the propulsive sounds on the opening track-
Three Mile PilotThe Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten (2010, Temporary Residence) ♥♥♥½
-my initial reaction was ‘blah’ but the 2nd and 3rd listen yielded an understanding of how long it can take the current version of TMP to allow its sweet underbelly to float to the surface unlike the immediate melodies of Systems Officer or Pinback; its not as abrasive and dark and profound as Another Desert but miles beyond what I was expecting-
Ludlow LionsNo Stories (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-I had a difficult time describing where this fits into the grand scheme of music right now which could be construed as a positive note; however I don’t see myself coming back; the press sheet compares them to Chavez and I can at least agree on that as well as Kite Operations
Small BlackNew Chain (2010, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥♥
-this is probably one of the weaker choices from the crowded chill-wave genre to make its way up to a major indie (what I consider Jag) though hazy tracks like ‘Photojournalist’and ‘Light Curse’ might keep you coming back for more; RIYL Washed Out
The Tallest Man On EarthSometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP (2010, Dead Oceans) ♥♥♥½
-as with every other release Kristian’s soothing coo and effortless finger-picking evokes uncontrollable daydreaming and waves of nostalgia, thus qualifying this as NSFW-
No AgeEverything In Between (2010, Sub Pop) ♥♥♥
-modern-day shoegaze with a tendency towards aggro post-punk; sounds better than it was but this will no doubt grow on me-
Centro-matic/South San GabrielEyas EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-there’s no shortage of moping about by Will and his gangs here; the Lionel Ritchie cover was a pleasant surprise as well-
Weed DiamondCarry On + Sweater Kids (2010, Bridgetown) ♥♥½
-gathering up all of WD’s tracks into one album seemed like a good idea but little outside of the killer opening two tracks will keep me coming back to this-
Dax RiggsSay Goodnight To The World (2010, Fat Possum) ♥♥½
-Dax’s progressive (?) journey to his latest solo album has much in common with Jay Reatard’s path, having started out fronting thrash metal band Acid Bath and currently channeling that energy in a more subdued, bluesy folk manner-
KarkwaLes chemins de verre (2010, Audiogram) ♥♥♥½
Karkwa’s 4th proper full-length ended up winning them Canada’s esteemed Polaris Prize in 2010 but it came and went without a peep as this falls on the French-Canadian side of their musical spectrum, meaning the lyrics are all sung in French; nevertheless this is a beautiful and diverse, indie-pop record that is held back only by the fact I have no idea what they’re singing about…-
Darren HanlonI Will Love You At All (2010, Yep Roc) ♥♥♥
-can’t say I’ve ever been more than a mild fan of Darren’s story-telling, mang-and-a-guitar style but this ended up being a palatable group of charming tunes with the occasional sign of depth and diversity – see the barrage of drums that magically appear in ‘Houses’…more of this next time, plz-
FopsYeth Yeth Yeth (2010, Monotreme) ♥♥½
-a side project featuring the vocalist from Thee More Shallows; memorable moments are a bit sparse here, meandering electronic indie rock that reminded me of Paper Chase without all the excess energy-
A Sunny Day In GlasgowAutumn, Again (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-this displays the qualities and sounds of its predecessor but lacks the musical footprint Ashes Grammar left behind in 2009; regardless, there is much joy to be gleaned from this as well as a chuckle (if you dissect the song titles); available as a free download or burgundy colored 12″ here
Belle and SebastianWrite About Love (2010, Matador) ♥♥♥
-this is back to basics for B&S as it breaks free from recent brushes with superstardom and instead finds itself heavily steeped in 70’s radio and, of course, indie/twee-pop cliches; sure to please old fans-
Dark Dark DarkWild Go (2010, Supply and Demand Music) ♥♥♥½
-gothic folk centered around piano and accordion and Nona Marie Invie’s powerful, trance-inducing vocals; RIYL Zola Jesus
Michael ParallaxMountain (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-an epic, synth-heavy, sample-laden beast of an album that is not only spiritual and enveloping in nature but also freely available to download here
Radical FaceTouch The Sky EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-apparently this is just a teaser for a themed, behemoth 3-album opus…can’t wait; aka Electric President, Patients RIYL Cloud Cult
DaughtersDaughters (2010, Hydra Head) ♥♥♥½
-blasts of grimy, but somehow melodic noise-core with vocals that will immediately make you miss David Yow; RIYL Jesus Lizard, Big Black
Daniel G. Harmann & The Trouble StartsRisk (2010, Burning Building) ♥♥♥
-as far as i know this is my first foray into Daniel’s music and it yielded mixed results; some tracks meander about in a Death Cab sorta way and others work their way up to the clouds via fragile, melancholic crescendos that make you feel like your heart is going to burst (see the aptly titled ‘Estrella’)…more of the latter please-
Icarus HimselfMexico EP (2010, Science Of Sound) ♥♥♥
-folk-pop with keys, drum machines and indie swagger from the former leader of National Beekeepers Society
Ra Ra RiotThe Orchard (2010, Barsuk) ♥♥½
-we get it, this isn’t Rhumb Line but the fact of the matter is it’s not nearly as sonically dense or rewarding…it feels like a cheap imitation of the recent 80’s revivalism with several songs bordering on the side of ultra-cheesy or plagiarism (see the Vampire Weekend-like ‘Massachusetts’)-
Kristin HershCrooked (2010, CASH) ♥♥♥
-can’t say that I’ve done much swooning since Hersh’s debut solo LP, Hips and Makers, but Crooked is definitely worth a listen if you like your female singer-songwriters to flex a minimalistic, darker side; RIYL Shannon Wright, Nina Nastasia
Blonde RedheadPenny Sparkle (2010, 4AD) ♥♥½
-gone is the signature dissonant indie-rock sound of BR in the 90’s; its since been replaced with a dreamier, if not harmless, variety of trip-hop that I enjoy slightly more than the critically acclaimed Misery Is A Butterfly
Candy ClawsHidden Lands (2010, twosyllable) ♥♥
-ever imagined what it would sound like to drown in a sea of exotic tropical fish?-
Dan ManganNice, Nice, Very Nice (2009, Arts & Crafts) ♥♥♥♥½
-this is as solid as a pop-folk-Americana album can be these days with skin-piercing hooks and melodies around every bend as well as engaging lyrics; RIYL the first couple of Josh Rouse albums, Tom McRae
Everyone EverywhereEveryone Everywhere (2010, Tiny Engines) ♥♥♥♥
-this could serve as an integral part of the imminent return of that mid-to-late 90’s-style emo that really mattered as opposed to watered-down, over-produced dreck of the last 5+ years…sign me up; RIYL Piebald, Knapsack, Promise Ring
PomegranatesOne Of Us (2010, Afternoon) ♥♥♥
-there were moments of beauty and sparsely mixed interludes but this just blended into the background, even after 3 full listens; this is vastly different from the high-energy indie rock of the last album-

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