Mini-Beats – March 2010

Shapes Stars MakeThese Mountains Are Safe (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-clean, polished post-rock with the occasional vocal RIYL recent Explosions In The Sky, Hammock
Jack RoseLuck In The Valley (2010, Thrill Jockey) ♥♥♥½
-as always a pleasant listen; we’ll miss ya buddy-
YeasayerOdd Blood (2010, Secretly Canadian) ♥♥♥♥
-smells like cocaine, leggings and Teen Wolf….sign me up!-
EfterklangMagic Chairs (2010, 4AD) ♥♥½
-mellow, by-the-numbers electronic indie-type stuff from Denmark; loved the 70’s PinkFloyd-esque cover art though-
Miles KuroskyThe Desert Of Shallow Effects (2010, Majordomo) ♥♥½
-I always thought Beulah were a teensy bit overrated; this provides a little more backbone for that sentiment-
The Seven Fields Of AphelionPeriphery (2010, Graveface) ♥♥♥
-side project of Black Moth Super Rainbow member Maureen Boyle that specializes in reflective ambience and manipulated synths-
AlohaHome Acres (2010, Polyvinyl) ♥♥♥
-considerably more accessible than their truly unique early catalog; memorable even if there’s less xylophone and off-kilter drumming-
Fionn ReganThe Shadow Of An Empire (2010, Heavenly) ♥♥
-not the chilled-out folk album I was expecting (like the fabulous debut); fans of recent Brendan Benson and the first couple Josh Rouse albums might dig this but Fionn seems really awkward in this skin-
MillionyoungSunndreamm EP (2010, Arcade Sound) ♥♥♥½
-solid synth-heavy chillwave-
Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin MooreDear Companion (2010, Sub Pop) ♥♥½
-what seemed like a match made in heaven (Ben’s jittery cello & Daniel’s banjo) ended up not being all that interesting-
QuasiAmerican Gong (2010, Kill Rock Stars) ♥♥♥
-the albums starts off with 3 fairly solid, pulses of 90’s-style indie rock but gradually gets weaker; ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard coming from a great band-
Shannon McArdleSummer Of The Whore (2008, Bar None) ♥♥
-this is a rather uninspiring batch of songs from my favorite ¼ of The Mendoza Line (R.I.P.)-
Wow & FlutterGolden Touch (2008, Jealous Butcher) ♥½
-I recall these guys being a fairly competent post-rock band; it appears they’ve traded in the peacefulness for rowdy, MOR-core-
Keith John AdamsUnclever ‘Personal Songs’ Vol. 1 & 2 (2008, HHBTM) ♥♥♥
-at 43 songs there is definitely a length issue (that’s what she said); worth it if you dig Syd Barrett-inspired lo-fi pop nuggets-
Owen PallettHeartland (2010, Domino) ♥♥½
-i always want to love Owen’s albums more than I do…never really translates as well as his live performance; there’s still enough charm here to warrant a listen if for nothing but the 2 ‘Lewis’ tracks-
Alexa WoodwardAn Early Dream (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-sparse girl-and-her-banjo/guitar folk; i’m thinking there needs to be more buzz about this lass; RIYL Jolie Holland
ModdioFloriography (2010, Impeller) ♥♥♥½
-moving goth-folk with interesting arrangements from Norway; a few songs reach epic status-
Tuung…And Then We Saw Land (2010, Full Time Hobby) ♥♥♥½
-a somewhat happier, more organic affair than its predecessor but just as warm and inviting-
My Gold MaskA Thousand Voices EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-Gretta Rochelle’s bedroom-sexy vocals are what keep this train a-rollin’-
Surfer BloodAstro Coast (2010, Kanine) ♥♥♥½
-melodic indiepop/post-punk that excels when the songs stay under the 4:00 mark-
Robert FrancisBefore Nightfall (2009, Atlantic) ♥♥♥
-melancholic singer-songwriter who tries to calls upon the ghost of Jeff Buckley; beware, a couple awkward adult contemporary moments here…-
The Radio Dept.Clinging To A Scheme (2010, Labrador) ♥♥½
-I’m not convinced these guys have ‘it’ anymore; a few nice shoegaze-lite moments but it ends there-
Dinosaur FeathersFantasy Memorial (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-a near-perfect union of Vampire Weekend’s tribal riddims and Akron/Family’s gang vocal harmonies; someone sign these guys fast-
The Ruby SunsFight Softly (2010, Matador) ♥♥½
-the band’s move from focused psyche-pop to the hazy confines of chillwave did not bode well-
Bettie ServeertPharmacy Of Love (2010, Palomine) ♥♥♥½
-another solid BS experience; Carol’s vocals are as strong as ever and there are plenty of hooks to grab onto-
Roma Di LunaCasting The Bones (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥
-a noted improvement from their scattered debut; self-described as ‘makers of new old music’-
Magic ManReal Life Color (2010, Arcade Sound Ltd.) ♥♥♥♥
-a perfect blend of Postal Service-like beats and vocals with this rush of current glo-fi madness; the Arcade Sound label strikes gold again-
Serena-ManeeshNo. 2: Abyss In B Minor (2010, 4AD) ♥♥½
-somewhat darker, more art-damaged affair than their debut; sadly, the album had no real flow to it-
The Kissaway TrailSleep Mountain (2010, Bella Union) ♥♥♥
-pretty standard pop-rock type stuff from Denmark-
Electric PresidentThe Violent Blue (2010, Fake Four) ♥♥½
-this reminded me of Say Hi To Your Mom without all the memorable hooks-
VA – Future Magic Vol. 1 (2010, Mushpot) ♥♥♥
-compilation of mostly fuzz-pop, glo-fi and experimental sounds; forgettable if not for the excellent Emperor X and Arc In Round songs-
Bullets In MadisonWe Became Your Family When You Died (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-well-played dreampop but not much here to help it stand out from this crowded genre; available as a free download here
Shout Out LoudsWork (2010, Merge) ♥♥½
-I really hope Merge isn’t headed toward the abyss of mediocrity…-
Laura GibsonSix White Horses EP (2008, Hush) ♥♥♥
-six traditional blues covers done in Laura’s style of eerie folk beauty; not as good as expected but worthy of a listen-
So CowMeaningless Friendly (2010, Tic Tac Totally) ♥♥½
-Costello-style geek-pop melodies that can be a little too rough around the edges-
The Soft PackExtinction EP (2009, Merok) ♥♥♥½
-10″ with 6 songs of gritty and underproduced post-punk; i prefer this to their recent full-length and anything they’ve ever done under the Muslims moniker-
Do Make Say ThinkGoodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead (2000, Constellation) ♥♥♥♥
-classic post-rock that pinches all the right nerves at all the right times-
Virgin Of The BirdsBanquet Years EP (2010, Abandoned Love) ♥♥♥½
-my favorite of the free downloadable EP’s thus far; got a recent Mountain Goats vibe to this one-
John K. SamsonCity Route 85 EP (2009, Epitaph) ♥♥♥
-3 mellow, acoustic stories; pretty much what you come to expect from the Weakerthans frontman-
Gildon WorksArtful Rifle (2008, Swim Pony) ♥♥♥
-local Philly band with pulsing rock riddims and U2 atmospherics but without all the pomp-
Pants Yell!Received Pronounciation (2009, Slumberland) ♥♥½
-no less than 9 tracks of their signature indie-pop with off-key vocals; I’ve admittedly never been a fan-
Malcolm MiddletonGirl Pop Song EP (2009, Full Time Hobby) ♥♥
-4 cover songs of female artists drawn up in Malcolm’s sad-bastard phrasing-
Hallelujah The HillsPrepare To Qualify EP (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥
-a meatier brand of indie-pop not unlike Okkervil River; the band is giving this away as a free download
Twin SisterVampires With Dreaming Kids EP (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-diverse 4 song debut EP of mostly mellow indie-pop; RIYL the current Polyvinyl Records roster; available as a free download here
The ChasmsAdvance Paranoia, Advance (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-slow-paced psychedelic jams with shouty Mark E.-like vocals; available as a free download here
PrussiaBlessed Be, Yours Truly In Spirit & Soul (2009, Common Cloud) ♥♥
-skewed twee-ish pop that reminded me of a less in-your-face Danielson Famile; available as a free download here
The ParentsThe Parents EP (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-I don’t know what ‘the BART’ is but I’ll take some of it too; features members of the Wiggly Tendrils collective; available as a free download here
Drive-By TruckersThe Big To-Do (2010, ATO) ♥♥♥
-more southern-fried tales of murder, misery and the daily grind; can’t seem to fully endorse this or their last few albums though-
Neko Case and Her BoyfriendsFurnace Room Lullaby (2000, Bloodshot) ♥♥♥
-Neko’s voice is up front and center; upside = she has great pipes:downside = all the songs sound the same-
ClogsThe Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton (2010, Brassland) ♥♥♥½
-if there is such a thing this would be Hobbit-folk with classical/baroque arrangements; engaging enough to recommend; features members of The National and My Brightest Diamond
Borrowed Beams Of LightBorrowed Beams Of Light EP (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-Adam claims to be influenced by Village-era Kinks and Destroyer; this EP is as good as that sounds-
Joe PugThe Messenger (2010, Lightning Rod) ♥♥♥
-Joe can serve as a Bruce Springsteen fix for the younger crowd; these songs are little glossier than previous EP’s but the storytelling makes it worth a few spins-
The Failures’ UnionSinker (2007, One Percent Press) ♥♥♥½
-a pleasant surprise of 90’s style fuzz-pop like Lotion or Seven Storey Mountain
I’m From Barcelona27 Songs From Barcelona (2010, self-released) ♥♥½
-27 members each doing a song sounded like a great idea but it didn’t translate well onto record; available as a free download here

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