Mini-Beats – April 2010

Toro Y MoiCausers Of This (2010, Carpark) ♥♥½
-everyone seems to be all a-buzz about this glo-fi product but I think it’s been trumped by many others lately-
Fang IslandFang Island (2010, Sargent House) ♥♥♥
-guitar(hero)tronics with some bro-fi tendencies and maybe a little Vampire Weekend; this is somewhat unique if not a little too overly playful-
Crooked HookThe Captain Will Be Your Guide (2007, Safety Meeting) ♥♥♥½
-some serious slow-burning Sabbath-worship; dig my alliteration, bishes-
Adam Arcuragi/AudibleOpening Acts & Great Surprises EP (2002, Father) ♥♥♥
-4 songs of Adam’s mellow, mope-folk and 4 Pinback-like offerings from Audible
Pushing Red ButtonsThe Butterfly Net (2008, Blockchord)
-terrible, generic power-pop that tried and failed to emulate XTC…and I actually liked their debut-
AbsofactoTagalong EP (2009, self-released) ♥♥½
-batch of 4 songs that neither stink or wow; features member of Mason Proper for what it’s worth-
Air WavesAir Waves EP (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-a demo of sorts that showed promise; newer material has already shaped up to be impressive fuzz-pop-
The Besnard LakesThe Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night (2010, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥♥♥
-two really solid 4-star albums in a row for this husband and wife couple from Canada; melodic dream-pop that completely washes over you and sends yer mind into the ether-
Butterfly ExplosionLost Trails (2010, Revive) ♥♥♥
-breezy shoegaze that hit a few sweet spots but didn’t quite qualify for that next level-
King Of PrussiaThe Time Of Great Forgetting EP (2010, Kindercore) ♥♥♥½
-a little more frolicky and melodic and, thusly, far better than their debut LP-
Wye Oak – My Neighbor/My Creator EP (2010, Merge) ♥♥♥½
-I don’t recall their last LP making much of an impression on me but this EP was a top-shelf effort aside from the misguided remix closing out the disc-
KissesThe Heart Of The Nightlife (2010, Surrounded By Sound) ♥♥♥½
-nothing original but their brand of electro-indie-pop a la Labrador Records/Jens Lekman is done with enough panache to make me come back to this-
Kaki KingJunior (2010, Rounder) ♥♥
-this is unfortunately the direction I had hoped Kaki wouldn’t move towards; especially awkward if you are familiar with her back catalogue-
White HinterlandKairos (2010, Dead Oceans) ♥♥½
-Casey Dienel’s powerful vocals atop spacey, trip-hop beats; more or less becomes background noise
Vic ChesnuttSkitter On Take Off (2009, Vapor) ♥♥♥
-the second part of Vic’s wry farewell output in ’09; this being more he-and-a-guitar than At The Cut
Pattern Is MovementThe Impossibility Of Longing (2004, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-the precious debut that put them on the (indie) map and set the standard for future, less inviting, releases; their live show is not to be missed-
One For The TeamGhosts (2010, Afternoon) ♥♥♥
OFTT have managed another solid indie-pop effort; if you like all their other releases, this will not disappoint-
Thinking MachinesWork Tapes (2010, TMvFM) ♥♥♥½
-a slight improvement from their last LP; the band improves upon their ability to exercise restraint or just flat out burn when necessary-
Pearl JamBackspacer (2009, Monkeywrench) ♥♥♥
-I struggled with this rating; sometimes the band is on (The Fixer & Just Breathe), other times this treads tired and old status (Speed Of Sound)-
The MissionariesDark Animals (2008, Magic Twig) ♥♥½
-mellow, wistful folk not unlike Phosphorescent and Horse Feathers
The Leisure SocietyA Product Of The Ego Drain EP (2009, Full Time Hobby) ♥♥♥½
-a diverse collection of songs centered around melody, sunshine and um, pancakes-
A WeatherEveryday Balloons (2010, Team Love) ♥♥♥
-harmless indie-pop folk with its fair share of ‘pretty’ moments; suffered from Sameness Syndrome at times-
Apples In StereoTravellers In Space and Time (2010, Simian/YepRoc)
-futuristic disco-junk centered around girls ended up not being as compelling as it sounds-
The Leisure SocietyThe Sleeper (2009, Full Time Hobby) ♥♥♥
-very mild-mannered psyche-pop with some cutesy twee tendencies; not as good as the EP release around the same time but it could get better with age-
My Gold MaskMy Gold Mask (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-throaty female vocals and minimal beats made me think early Throwing Muses or the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
Donkey Boy (USA)And The Anthony Graigs (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-well executed lo-fi pop songs with enough angst and enough pop-culture bashing to satiate the needs of every jaded hipster; available as a free download here
Josh PrestonThe Complex Wooden Heart EP (2008,  self-released) ♥♥½
-4 acoustic versions of previously recorded songs I’ve not yet heard; modern folkie singer-songwriter vibe; available as a free download here
Totally NebularBoat Boat (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-see front page review-
The Story of EverestConsuelo y Mas (2006, Blonde) ♥♥½
-indie-folk with lots of banjo and gadgetry and random bursts of noise and chaos; available as a free download here
SwansawFlight And Falling (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-dynamic instrumental post-rock with crescendos, the occasional nod to shoegaze and metal and grouped ‘movements’; available as a free download here
Jason CollettRat A Tat Tat (2010, Arts & Crafts) ♥♥♥
-a noted improvement from Jason’s Here’s To Being Here though still far below his maximum potential-
Lying In StatesThe Bewildered Herd (2002, RockProper) ♥♥½
-you can expect a noisy mix of 90’s college indie and emo; available as a free download here
SnowblinkLong Live (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-Daniela sings quiet, introspective folk songs that made me daydream about the first couple Julie Doiron albums-
The BloodsugarsI Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On (2009, Engine Room) ♥♥½
-middle of the road dancey synth-pop; can’t recommend this for anything but the super-catchy ‘I Want It Back‘-
The Young SinclairsCeto’s Return (2007, Magic Twig) ♥♥♥½
TYS dig deep into the jammy, psychedelic innards of the 60’s and 70’s-
The Long BlondesCouples (2008, Rough Trade) ♥♥
-disappointing to say the least; essential if you’ve been champing at the bit for a new Cardigans or Elastica album…-
JónsiGo (2010, XL) ♥♥♥½
-a few strangely upbeat electro-tunes; Jónsi could pretty much fart in a can of beer and I would approve; frontman of Sigur Ros for those lost on an island the past 6 years-
Laura Gibson & Ethan Rose
– Bridge Carols (2010, Hush) ♥♥
-mostly mood music with a lot of empty spaces and ambience; seems like a waste of Laura’s talents as a vocalist-
Matt Pond PAThe Dark Leaves (2010, Altitude) ♥♥½
-things have really started to tumble downhill since Emblems and Several Arrows Later
Piano MagicArtists’ Rifles (2000, Rocket Girl) ♥♥♥
-engaging dream-pop that can be simple and powerful or cheesy (see Password’s lyrics)-
Nils ØklandStraum (2000, Rune Grammofon) ♥♥♥
-traditional Norweigan folk with strings-
Starling ElectricClouded Staircase (2008, Bar/None) ♥♥♥½
-jangly, sunshine-pop that channels the ghost of Robert Pollard circa mid 90’s-
The TransmissionsBurning The Winner (2007, self-released) ♥½
-with a name like The Transmissions I expected something a lot more intriguing and worthwhile-
MilhavenMilhaven (2010, 12rec) ♥♥♥½
My Father, My King style post-rock with samples and crescendos; quite competent and lovely and available as a free download here
ShackTime Machine: The Best Of Shack (2007, Sour Mash) ♥♥♥
-this is highly competent Brit-pop; these guys are quite heralded in some circles but this really isn’t my Cup Of Tea….-
MonzanoBy This Time Last Year Everything Will Seem Younger (2010, Spoon Train) ♥♥½
-effeminate indie-pop/twee that can be extremely flat at times-
HussaloniaAttention Deficit Disorder EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-Hussalonia turns your pop world upside-down with 20 songs in 8 minutes…thus the title of the EP; available as a free download here
The Get Up KidsSimple Science EP (2010, Hassle) ♥♥♥
-they’re back and it feels like they never left-
FanfarloYou Are One 7″ (2010, Sub Pop) ♥♥♥½
-2 tracks recorded just for this Record Store Day release; features a Fleetwood Mac cover-
Cloud CultRunning With The Wolves EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-released to coincide with Earth Day 2010; one new track and 3 b-sides that have appeared elsewhere on ‘leftover’ compilations-
Beach HouseZebra EP (2010, Sub Pop) ♥♥♥½
Zebra is already universally loved, 2 new tracks aren’t all that memorable and the 10 Mile Stereo remix is infinitely better than the original-
Holler, Wild RoseYarn EP (2009, DDM) ♥♥½
-a stopgap 4-song EP that features a live version of the excellent Color That Sky but not much else of note-
DevoFresh 12″ (2010, Warner) ♥♥♥
-this modern take of Devo has me thinking Violent Femmes; I can get behind this even if it seems comical in theory-
Menomena/The Helio SequenceRecord Store Day Split 7″ (2010, Barsuk) ♥♥♥½
HS take the cake here; the Menomena track actually sounds more like recent Lackthereof or Ramona Falls
Takka TakkaMigration (2008, Ernest Jenning) ♥♥♥
-an eclectic offering of mellow psyche-pop; would have made a smashing EP, there were some dull moments to be had-
Nada SurfIf I Had A Hi-Fi (2010, Barsuk) ♥♥♥½
-tasteful batch of covers that’s ironically miles better than anything they’ve recorded themselves since Proximity Effect
SenryuInkling (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-the band seemed a little subdued this time around; I’m all about melody but it doesn’t suit these guys well-
Titus AndronicusThe Monitor (2010, XL) ♥♥♥½
-believe the hype; this is intense, beautiful and scandalous; RIYL Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Man/MiracleThe Shape Of Things (2010, Third Culture) ♥♥♥½
-high-energy freneticore from Oakland; currently on tour with Rogue Wave…and probably kicking Zach’s ass all over the stage-
Campfires / Cloud NothingsSplit Cassette (2010, Bathetic) ♥♥♥½
-this is a serious fuzz-fest from both attending parties; Cloud Nothings’ lo-fi gems are starting to near brilliance-
Youth Pictures Of Florence HendersonYouth Pictures Of Florence Henderson (2010, How Is Annie) ♥♥♥
-an hour of hazy post-rock
Electric Love MuffinPlaydoh Meathook (1987, Buy Our) ♥♥♥½
-melodic thrash punk that could have fit snugly into the SST catalog; the guitarist happens to also double as my electrician…-
Karen O and The KidsWhere The Wild Things Are OST (2009, Interscope) ♥♥♥
-i was a latecomer to both the movie and soundtrack but this is the most impactful OST since O Brother, Where Art Thou
The Tallest Man On EarthShallow Grave (2008, Gravitation) ♥♥♥
-the Swedish Bob Dylan creates an excellent backporch folk album with more than a nod to Jeff Mangum
CoolrunningsBuffalo EP (2010, Arcade Sounds Ltd.) ♥♥♥½
-the band re-worked these tracks for an official release on the up-and-coming Arcade Sounds label; these versions are more compact and focused-
Ted Leo & The PharmacistsThe Brutalist Bricks (2010, Matador)
♥♥½
-as always a few rowdy tunes for mixtapes but ultimately this might as well be Pearl Jam for the pretend hip crowd-

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