Mini-Beats – December 2009

Jay Farrar & Ben GibbardOne Fast Move Or I’m Gone (2009, Columbia) ♥♥♥½
-recorded to compliment Kerouac’s Big Sur; turned out to be a moving bunch of songs and a
Tap TapOn My Way (2009, Stolen Recordings) ♥♥♥
-we all loved the first Shins record….some of us more than others-
Friends Of LizzyThe Answer (2004, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-a surprising release that tapped in that syrupy Twice Removed-era Sloan, The Argument and Fountains Of Wayne; sadly the band has called it quits-
Alec OunsworthMo Beauty (2009, Anti) ♥♥½
-lead singer from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; some tracks border on the chamber side of pop a la Antony & The Johnsons with horn flourishes and whatnot; completists only here….-
HulaboyOlympic Krush On (The) Hulaboy (2008, 555) ♥♥♥
-equal parts indie-pop a la Teenbeat and post-punk lite; some really nice moments here-
Ola PodridaBelly Of The Lion (2009, Western Vinyl) ♥♥♥♥
-enveloping folk not unlike Fleet Foxes; very solid through and through-
Universal Studios FloridaOcean Sunbirds (2009, LFT) ♥♥♥½
-almost as much fun as the theme parks; they do that earthy, tribal, feel-good, lo-fi pop thing-
Jonathan BouletJonathan Boulet (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-Australian wunderkind is definitely onto something here; mid-fi garage-lite tunes with a sunny pop side to them-
Dark Dark DarkLove You, Bye EP (2008, What A Mess!) ♥♥♥
-European folk tinged shanties not unlike Beirut; male/female vocals backed up glockenspiel, accordion etc.-
Kristofer ÅströmThorskag Sessions (2005, Startracks) ♥♥♥
-companion disc to So Much For Staying Alive held up by Kristofer’s powerful voice and a clever Faithless cover-
XX, TheXX (2009, XL) ♥♥♥½
-at first it didn’t succeed and then it revealed its quiet, understated charms and sexy cool-
Daniel JohnstonIs And Always Was (2009, Eternal Yip Eye) ♥♥
-pretty much over this shtick-
The RaveonettesIn And Out Of Control (2009, Vice) ♥♥♥½
-the band sings about nefarious topics in such a sugary, sweet manner; love the dream-pop direction they’ve taken the past few albums-
First Aid KitHard Believer EP (2009, Wichita) ♥♥♥½
-short 2-song single from these up-and-coming Swedish twin sisters; worthy primer to their pending full-length-
The Denver GentlemenIntroducing (2001, Smooch) ♥♥½
-a dark variety of vaudevillian chamber-pop featuring ‘The Professor’ from DeVotchKa; RIYL DeVotchKa and Nick Cave
Tigers On TrainsGrandfather (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-mellow, tuneful pop-folk with Christian undertones-
The Pet Ghost ProjectThe Great Satisfactory (2007, self-released) ♥♥½
-a psychedelic pop affair that ends up being a little too eclectic and unpredictable for its own good-
Track A TigerI Felt The Bullet Hit My Heart (2009, Deep Elm) ♥♥♥
-a little more up-tempo than their last effort; the nice arrangements here are marred slightly by the amateurish vocals on a few tracks-
One For The TeamGood Boys Don’t Make Noise (2006, Afternoon) ♥♥♥
-cut from the same cloth as their latest album; bouncy indie-pop with a shit-ton of tunefulness-
His ClancynessHissometer Cassette (2009, Secret Furry Hole) ♥♥½
-had high hopes for this but these tracks felt a little incomplete and demo-ish-
Br. DanielsonBrother Is To Son (2004, Secretly Canadian) ♥♥♥
-my first experience with these guys and it will force me to seek other episodes in their catalog; a few brilliant tongue-in-cheek, quirk-pop moments; Sufjan plays a little banjo on this one-
Candy ClawsIn The Dream of The Sea Life (2009, Indiecater) ♥♥♥½
-I somehow get the feeling I’m drowning when I listen to this; clearly my opinion of drowning in music is higher than like really drowning for real-
World’s Greatest GhostsNo Magic (2009, Lucky Madison) ♥♥♥♥
-super catchy, synth/keys heavy indie that will keep your head and feet moving for the full 33 minutes; RIYL The idea of The Thermals playing D&D instead of reading Chomsky or Phoenix
Washed OutLife Of Leisure EP (2009, Mexican Summer) ♥♥♥½
-the new secksy time music for hipsters and their loved ones-
HolopawOh Glory, Oh Wilderness (2009, Bakery Outlet) ♥♥♥½
-another solid album from this (now) duo; expect engaging pop flavored with horns, cello and less weirdness than previous releases-
Immánu ElMoen (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-Swedish dream-pop/post-rock; not as epic or interesting as their first; Moen has a heavily religious tone but mostly this album is marred by unnecessary melodrama and lack of diversity-
PantherEntropy EP (2009, Kill Rock Stars) ♥♥♥
-think along the lines of Spoon marrying 31knots and you’re close; included a couple of dancier remixes-
Loney, DearDear John (2009, Polyvinyl) ♥♥♥♥
-uptempo yet introspective pop spiced with well-placed electronic beats; RIYL Bon Iver
SlaraffenlandPrivate Cinema (2006, HomeTapes) ♥♥½
-I really want to like these guys more than I do; seems their artistic hearts are in the right place but it’s not catching on with me…-
The Hidden CamerasOrigin:Orphan (2009, Arts & Crafts) ♥♥♥
-still weaving scandalous tales of ‘youthful exuberance’ and cumraderie albeit with less of that Episcopalian backdrop-
Foreign BornPerson to Person (2009, Secretly Canadian) ♥♥♥
-an oddly upbeat offering from SC – i’m sensing a Vampire Weekend vibe on some of these songs; the downside being most tracks sound more or less the same-
BoxwoodThe Secret Life Of Rocks (2006, Pollen) ♥½
-mostly acoustic bedroom-pop with terribly whiny, melodramatic vocals; gave it a shot because it’s on the same label as the great Subterraneans album-
Elusive ParallelogramsAnd Everything Changes (2009, Rainbow Quartz) ♥♥♥
-an eclectic mix of fuzzy lo-fi garage cuts, 70’s power-pop and melodies galore; what you’ve come to expect from Rainbow Quartz-
Dark Dark DarkThe Snow Magic (2008, Supply and Demand) ♥♥½
-Eastern European gypsy folk influenced thing loosely-strummed guitar, accordion, banjo etc.; i usually gobble this stuff up but the actual songs were lacking-
The Novel IdeasThe Sky Is A Field (2009, self-released) ♥♥½
-boy/girl vocals tapping into the story-telling Decemberists thing-
Chriss SutherlandWorried Love (2009, self-released) ♥♥½
-mopey folk that bears a good bit of resemblance to Neil Young
Systems OfficerUnderslept (2009, Temporary Residence) ♥♥♥
-you know the deal – Rob Crow fronts band, makes no less than decent music-
Dave Rawlings MachineA Friend Of A Friend (2009, Acony) ♥♥½
-country folk/old-timey songwriter performing songs by such notable acts as Conor Oberst and Ryan Adams
Sharon Van EttenBecause I Was In Love (2009, Language Of Stone) ♥♥♥½
-Sharon weaves her tales of love lost with a beautifully warm and relaxing coo; RIYL Alela Diane, Cat Power
Strangers Family BandStrangers Family Band EP (2009, self-released)
-see upcoming front-page review-
Tin Star OrphansYonder (2009, Sparks) ♥♥♥½
-ecelectic mix of back-porch folk that turns up the volume as well on a few tracks; includes a clever rendition of ‘Plastic Jesus’-
DiscoveryDiscovery LP (2009,  XL) ♥♥♥
-heavily sampled bro-fi sunshine pop featuring a member of Vampire Weekend; has its moments including a cover of the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’-
Kurt Von StettenHistory EP (2009, Static Motor) ♥♥♥½
-mid-fi poppy garage tunes not unlike Jay Reatard but not as slammin’; keep an eye on this joe-
The MantlesThe Mantles (2009, Siltbreeze) ♥♥♥
-aggro-pop with hints of all the great 80’s post-punk acts; takes a little time to grow on you since there’s not much variance between the songs-
James PantsSeven Seals (2009, Stones Throw) ♥♥♥
-electropop with more samples than you can shake a stick at; quite hit or miss-
The Flaming LipsEmbryonic (2009, Warner) ♥♥
-whatever Wayne Coyne and the guys are on about here…I’m not understanding; there were a few moments where big, smashing drums were employed like the good ol’ days but the fun ends there-
DeastroKeeper’s (2008, Ghostly) ♥♥♥½
-compilation album of shimmery, electronic indie-pop (duh, it’s on Ghostly….); a few songs here were sheer bliss-
AudiotransparentChekhov Guns (2009, Katzwijm) ♥♥♥
-Dutch indie that carries the same feel and pace of Say Hi To Your Mom but less catchy; start with Nevland (a much more memorable beast of an album)-
Micachu (& The Shapes)Jewellery (2009, Rough Trade) ♥½
-sounds like spoons on furniture and dying animals; caveat emptor-
The AntlersHospice (2009, FrenchKiss) ♥♥♥♥
-i got a very heavy Jeff Buckley/The Walkmen vibe here; dreamy, emotive indie stuff commonly mistaken for slowcore but it’s really just awesome-core-
Daniel And The LionHandmade EP (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-sad, acoustic/piano based pop songs with a little bit of sheen; RIYL Ray Lamontagne
David BazanCurse Your Branches (2009, Barsuk) ♥♥
-David may still flex lyrical prowess but the accompanying music seems to keep getting cheesier…in like a bad 80’s kinda way-
Open Work Stocking
Diademia (2009, Fluttery) ♥♥½
-mellow electronic stuff that really didn’t go anywhere-
Apollo GhostsHastings Sunrise (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-short concise pop songs that are as varied as they are melodic-
The DecemberistsHazards Of Love (2009, Capitol)
-terrible and annoying; in their defense I’ve never met a ‘rock’ opera that i liked-
Libbie LintonBird Wings In The Bleak (2009, Metrowake) ♥♥♥
-folk sung and played in a traditional old-timey manner but modern enough to appeal to the kids-
Binary Marketing ShowPattern (2009, The 8088 Record Collective) ♥♥♥♥
-a clever mix of weirdo-pop, sunshine fixes and tribal beats; never heard anything like it before-
AarkticaIn Sea (2009, Silber) ♥♥♥
-long gone are the days where females ruled the vocal duties, i miss them; this effort is mostly instrumental and sometimes haunting and powerful-
SloanHit & Run EP (2009, Murderecords) ♥♥♥½
-5 very promising songs that hopefully hint at the sound they exhibit on their upcoming full-length-
Camera ObscuraMy Maudlin Career (2009, 4AD) ♥♥♥½
-not as instantly catchy and memorable as past releases but there are moments like the two brilliant openers-

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