Mini-Beats – July 2011

WarpaintThe Fool (2010, Rough Trade) ♥♥♥
:seems like YEARS ago that bloggers were hard pimpin’ these ladies as ‘the next big thing’…well I’m a little late to the show so this opinion will count for next to nothing now that we’ve not heard a peep from them since they came rolling through here with Zola Jesus and The XX; oh, the music? it’s a muted variety of gothic, dream-pop not unlike those XX cats: (buy vinyl)
Le DaysDead People On Tape (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:sparse and fragile folk from Sweden’s Daniel Hedin (with help from friends); at 78 minutes it runs a bit long but his striking emotional outpouring should keep even the most ADD-afflicted listener on the edge of their seat in anticipation of what will come next:
JesuAscension (2011, Caldo Verde) ♥♥♥½
:this is admittedly my first true experience with anything Justin has ever done so I have no frame of reference to compare this to; with that in mind, I found Ascension more in line with the slow low-end churn of 90’s alt-indie kings Hum than Slint/EITS (amateur Pitchfork reviewer…); tracks 2,3,4 make a killer trio but the album has a tendency to repeat itself and drag on a bit: (buy vinyl)
Snake OilSnake Oil (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
:groove-based instrumental passages featuring members of Weigh Down & Titles that occasionally sound like Black Moth Super Rainbow/Tobacco outtakes: (buy vinyl)
Victory & AssociatesThese Things Are Facts (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:rowdy but melodic indie rock from San Fran featuring the former singer of Replicator (blast from the past there…); this is a West Coast sound filtered through matter-of-fact, Midwestern mannerisms (dig that alliteration) not unlike The Hold Steady: (buy vinyl)
Closely Watched TrainsClosely Watched Trains (2009, Twin Lakes) ♥♥♥½
:CWT present a hodgepodge of back-porch Americana and quasi-hippie-folk-rock from the burgeoning New Haven, CT scene; this is earnest music at its most refined:
Dignan PorchDeluded (2011, Captured Tracks) ♥♥♥
:another entrant into the long (currently) line of melodic, mid-fi garage pop bands from the UK RIYL Real Estate, Beach Fossils: (buy vinyl)
Jill AndrewsThe Mirror (2011, Liam) ♥♥♥½
:Jill has backed up her beautiful, unmistakable voice with an exceptional batch of songs…I was concerned all of her best work was behind her as a member of the (still-missed) Everybodyfields but that’s not the case; might be easy listening for some but this occupies a niche that I sometimes need to call upon; RIYL Lissie:
Sam BayI Have A Fever (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:Sam may or not be recognizable to BTID readers under his former stage name Sam Skarstad due to his inclusion on one of my all-time fave monthly mixes (December 2005); this is crafty, ‘orchestral’ psyche-folk with gentle guitar plucks, electronic flourishes and trippy lyrical passages; don’t pass up Sam’s new Philly/Brooklyn based project Snakes Say Hisss…pretty impressive for a lad of only 20!:
AustraFeel It Break (2011, Domino/Paper Bag) ♥♥♥♥
:Katie Stelmanis has finally found a bit of recognition with her Polaris Prize nominated Feel; her voice is a perfect fit for these euphoric, goth-pop dance numbers; RIYL Zola Jesus, Crystal Castles: (buy vinyl)
Eddie VedderUkelele Songs (2011, Island) ♥♥♥
:it would appear Vedder is one of the few (if not the only) music pioneers of the 90’s grunge era to artisticly thrive in the post-flannel years; he gets help from Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Glen Hansard (Frames) but this is mainly his gig with vocals, uke and minor accompaniment plus a few covers:
The Go! TeamRolling Blackouts (2011, Memphis Industries) ♥♥½
:a playful but scatterbrained trip through indie-pop psychedelia and melodic weirdness from this UK collective…couple of knockout tracks but a lot of (instrumental) filler; rumor has it their first two LP’s are more substantial: (buy vinyl)
The LongwallsCareers In Science (2011, Static Motor) ♥♥♥♥
:having been one of Boston’s best kept secrets for years, The Longwalls have crafted a start-to-finish power-pop gem with equal amounts jangle and twang that hopefully extends their audience beyond Beantown; also features BTID favorite Kurt von Stetten on drums:
Here We Go MagicJanuary EP (2011, Secretly Canadian) ♥♥♥
:I felt the same way about this stopgap/leftovers EP as I did the recent LP (Pigeons)…there’s fine moments here (the bubbly post-punkish sound of ‘Backwards Time’) but not a whole lot to keep this on the iPod permanently:
The ACB’sStona Rosa (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:it might be a bit lazy to say a lot of these tracks sound inspired by (or derivative of) Weezer or Fountains Of Wayne but hot-damn catchy tracks like ‘Italian Girls’ rip a page right out of Rivers Cuomo’s diary; RIYL Weezer, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, modern indie power-pop circles:
SkeletonsPeople (2011, Shinkoyo) ♥♥♥½
:noodly and angular avant-rock sprinkled with elements of jazz, folk, weirdness and profanity; add vocalist’s Matt Mehlan’s inviting, matter-of-fact style (Chris Leo of The Van Pelt?) and this becomes strange brew, but an invigorating affair; peeps whose tastes regularly from 4/4 time signatures and verse-chorus-verse formulas will find a lot to love here; RIYL Battles:
Gray YoungStaysail (2011, 307 Knox) ♥♥♥½
:very melodic, atmospheric post-rock that relies heavily on sounds pioneered by The Appleseed Cast; while not the most unique showing, Staysail still struck me as solid songwriting, especially in a genre that rarely moves me anymore: (buy vinyl)
Trouble Books & Mark McGuireTrouble Books & Mark McGuire (2011, Bark and Hiss) ♥♥♥
:combine TB’s warm folktronica and McGuire’s ambient guitar drones and this will be exactly what you think that marriage would sound like: (buy vinyl)
O’DeathOutside (2011, Ernest Jenning Recording Co.) ♥♥½
:I just can’t seem to latch onto what these guys have been doing; there’s even less of that darkside, Gothic Americana/folk than previous records and the production is sleek and flawless; I think at this point the band seems like an Okkervil River knockoff moreso than the potential pioneers of their own sub-genre: (buy vinyl)
By SurpriseMountain Smashers (2011, Topshelf) ♥♥♥½
:these bespectacled Jersey boys have put together an unorthodox, but welcoming combination of 90’s slacker indie-rock, youthful Promise Ring energy and every English professor’s dusty bookshelves; come for the hyper numbers, stay for the variety: (buy vinyl)
My Morning JacketCircuital (2011, ATO) ♥♥½
:I can’t really say why this band has never done anything for me other than ‘they’re boring’; nothing really sticks in your head or forces your eyebrows north: (buy vinyl)
Hospital ShipsLonely Twin (2011, Graveface) ♥♥♥
:Jordan Geiger has built up quite a resume with a few excellent Minus Story records, part-time gigs with Appleseed Cast and Shearwater and this, his ‘solo’ venture that exhibits many of the same as all of the above; wasn’t as keen on this as I was the debut but there’s enough quality to give it few spins: (buy vinyl)
KindercastleNumber B (2011, Yewknee) ♥♥♥½
:this baby is all over the pop rainbow with samples and nods to free-form Parisian pop or the (dare I say) chillwavin’ Pale Noon; these 2 lads are heavily influenced by ELO and it shows; you might know one half of the duo as Uncle Skeleton; an entertaining listen with endless twists and turns: (buy vinyl)
Alexa WoodwardIt’s A Good Life Honey If You Don’t Grow Weary (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:I’ve been a fan of Alexa’s for a few years now, slowly catching up on her previous releases and I’m always smitten by her affecting, world-weary vocals and minimal, folk accompaniment (most notably the banjo); It’s A Good Life is unquestionably a charmer from start to finish and it’s available as a name-your-price download (free if you pass it along to friends!); RIYL Sharon van Etten, Joanna Newsom:
The KillsBlood Pressures (2011, Domino) ♥♥♥½
:it had just been brought to my attention that Alison Mosshart was the former lead singer for Discount which explains why I unashamedly like this; this is a very minimal, bare-bones variety of garage-pop that bands like Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and The Raveonettes have been making a living off of; it seems a lot of critics disagree but I prefer this to their semi-heralded Midnight Boom LP a few years back: (buy vinyl)
TanlinesVolume On (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
:hard to believe a former member of Don Caballero comprises 1/2 of this duo as this is ready-made tropical beats that ride a not-quite-chill wave (too much open space and minimalism) but close enough to get the hipsteros sweatin’ up a storm at the Barbary; really dig Real Life and the Glasser-assisted Z but this sound is best left to short singles and EP’s:
The Capstan ShaftsKind Empires (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:it would appear that Dean felt it was time for a return to form after a virtually ignored release on venerable Rainbow Quartz; this is classic Shafts – snappy lo-fi bursts of pop noise with Dean’s signature voice jockeying for attention:
DaybreakerThe Northbound Trains EP (2011, Pure Noise) ♥♥½
:this is a case of maturing punks branching out to melodic punk rock ‘n roll with slightly dramatic vocals and ooh-ooh’s; s’ok but there’s not much that’ll make me come back to this in the future; features former(?) members of Ambitions and With Honor: (buy vinyl)
DolfishYour Love Is Bumming Me Out EP (2011, Indiecater) ♥♥♥½
:a handful of heartbreak songs (released on Valentines Day, actually) but coated in humor rather than whining and mulling about; I’d be curious to hear more from Max Sollisch (sole member) as his voice and approach are rather unique:
Kids On A Crime SpreeWe Love You So Bad (2011, Slumberland) ♥♥♥½
:above-average Jesus & Mary Chain worship featuring the dude behind twee folks’ faves Ciao Bella & From Bubblegum To Sky (Mario Hernandez) and Becky from #poundsign# & Scrabbel note…certainly not unique in any way but it’s on Slumberland so you know it’s worth your time and I dare you to pry some of these tracks from out of your head; RIYL The Raveonettes, The Big Pink: (buy vinyl)
The SwordWarp Riders (2010, Kemado) ♥♥
:a few decent metal virtuoso instrumentals but when the vocals kick in it’s waaaayyy too much 70’s ‘hard rock’ influence for me to get into this: (buy vinyl)
Panda BearTomboy (2011, Paw Tracks) ♥♥½
:remember that Justin Bieber song slowed down like 10,000x that went viral about 6 months ago? this is about 50 minutes of that – hollowed out shells of Animal Collective songs that might serve you well as mood music (ya know, what record shop owners play to prove to you how above you they are) but I can’t see myself reaching for this much in the future; I did, however, enjoy the slight dub influences on a few songs and Sonic Boom’s (obvious) contributions: (buy vinyl)
SerynThis Is Where We Are (2011, Velvet Blue) ♥♥♥½
:fans of fragile/delicate melodies, multi-part harmonies, clean/crisp production and folk instrumentation (banjo, uke, ‘mouth sounds’, etc.) will be pleased with this Denton collective’s debut; the rather articulate mix of uplifting and melancholic moments help this to stand out from all the one-dimensional artists in this category: (buy vinyl)
Lil DaggersKing Corpse EP (2011, Song, By Toad) ♥♥♥
:melodic garage in the Dirtnap vein from the swamps of Florida; this serves as a prelude to their upcoming debut full-length on Limited I Fanfare; RIYL Marked Men, Cloud Nothings: (buy vinyl)

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