Mini-Beats – August 2010

Admiral RadleyI Heart California (2010, self-released) ♥♥½
-this is clearly dripping with irony and sarcasm but I think it mostly got lost on me; features Jason Lytle from Grandaddy and Aaron Espinoza from Earlimart
My Heart Belongs To Cecilia WinterOur Love Will Cut Through Everything (2010, Chop) ♥♥♥½
-don’t let the emo-hearkening moniker dissuade you from indulging in the Swiss answer to The Walkmen
The Love LanguageLibraries (2010, Merge) ♥♥♥
-wispy indie-pop with romantic vocals that will please lovers of their debut as well as garner them new fans; give this one a little more time to sink in as its far more laid back and less in-your-face-
Setting SunFantasurreal (2010, Young Love) ♥♥½
-indie-pop that reminded me of Grandaddy and that Marcy Playground album everyone loved back in the 90’s-
LilleTall Shoulders EP (2010, Whale Heart) ♥♥♥
-18yr old wunderkind from Atlanta with ethereal vocals that should please fans of Casey Dienel; sounds range from darker folk (a bit of mandolin and theremin) to trip-hop-
The DrumsThe Drums (2010, Island) ♥♥♥♥
-forget the fact that almost every song here shares the same beat and single-note guitar line – anyone with a heartbeat and a fondness for the 80’s will dance along-
Free EnergyStuck On Nothing (2010, DFA) ♥♥♥♥
-super-fun infectious power-pop straight outta Philly; vanquish yer hipster goggles and jorts and sing along!; RIYL Fountains Of Wayne & Sloan
Blitzen TrapperDestroyer Of The Void (2010, Sub Pop) ♥♥½
-BT have successfully assumed the title of indie rock’s most competent Dylan revivalists though that doesn’t mean anything stands out here-
Best CoastCrazy For You (2010, Mexican Summer) ♥♥♥
-new project from Beth Cosentino (Pocahaunted) that’s been hyped and tagged as ‘beach-fi’; I’m all about the Specter-inspired, girl-group hooks but after the first 3 or so tracks this lost a bit of steam and fell victim to a lack of variety throughout-
Maps & AtlasesPerch Patchwork (2010, Barsuk) ♥♥♥½
-they’ve moved on from twisted, angular and mathematical to summery and whimsical and infectious; see ’em live if ya can, they pound-
Amanda PalmerPerforms The Popular Hits of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukelele EP (2010, 8ft.) ♥♥½
-as its name implies…live and studio versions of Radiohead songs performed (pretty much ad lib) on the ukelele (and piano) by the lead singer of The Dresden Dolls
MisophoneI Sit At Open Windows (2009, Another Record) ♥♥
-lo-fi folk that leans more towards the hushed experimental side of carnival muzak; not nearly as good as it sounds-
VA – The Rough Guide To African Street Party (2008, World Music Network) ♥♥♥½
-my introduction to this sub-genre proved fruitful as these songs yielded danceable (and hummable) street music that oddly had as much in common with Latin beats as it did Afro-beat-
HolleradoRecord In A Bag (2009, self-released) ♥♥♥
-this pretty much defines the broad term ‘pop-rock’ – 4 guys getting together, kickin’ back and writing simple but humorous tunes that will offend no one and impress the occasional Harvey Danger fan-
Fang IslandSky Gardens EP (2008, Corleone) ♥♥♥
-you’ll at least need to grab this for the melodic, tech-jam of ‘Absolute Place’ RIYL The Advantage (sans the 8-bit homage)-
Housman’s AthletesRace To The Finish (2008, B.O.A.T.S.) ♥½
-a hook around every corner but this more or less felt like a punker, um, Nickelback
Beach HouseBeach House (2006, Carpark) ♥♥♥½
-possibly the soundtrack for a ghostly waltz with Victoria’s trademark, not-of-this-world vocals, theremin and subtle piano; not as realized or powerful as their latest but still worth a few spins-
Alasdair Roberts & FriendsToo Long In This Condition (2010, Drag City) ♥♥½
-more traditional Scottish folk than sad bastard type affairs from fellow countrymen, Malcolm Middleton, Frightened Rabbit et al; I’ve read a lot about this being a return to form but its definitely my least favorite out of the 4 LP’s I’m familiar with-
Hexes and OhsBedroom Madness (2008, Noise Factory) ♥♥½
-harmless boy/girl dance-pop from Montreal that will fit snugly between your Mates Of State and Headlights CD’s; 15 songs, 54 minutes of this was a bit much but dig the single ‘H-H-High School’-
DeastroMind Altar (2010, Ghostly) ♥♥♥½
-Randolph Chabot has been executing near-flawless, space-age, synth-chill-wave since before there was a chill-wave to talk about…so that must make him Chuck Norris
tUnE-yArDsBird-Brains (2009, Marriage) ♥♥♥½
-skatterbrained, yet ingenuous lo-fi pop centered around the ukelele, subtle Afro beats and melodic sound fragments; hard to pin this one down…which I guess makes it a success in more ways than one-
Lonski & ClassenClimbing On Branches (2009, Matrosenblau) ♥♥♥½
-Berlin bunch focusing on a less-is-more Radiohead-pop format with vocals front and center; there’s also a few slower tracks that reminded me of awesome-period Low (Secret Name et al); tons of potential here-
Bars Of GoldOf Gold (2010, Friction) ♥♥♥½
-see front page review, suckas-
YeltsinA Closer Walk With Yeltsin (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-a deceptively hook-laden effort that could appeal to fans of modern, brighter post-punk like We Were Promised Jetpacks or Interpol; a noted improvement from their debut-
Peter Wolf CrierInter-Be (2010, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥♥
-it’s immediately evident that this duo hails from the same general area as Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon but there is potential to distance themselves like the jittery ‘Hard As Nails’ and ‘You’re So High’; a grower-
Michael WookeyYou Shield Me From Darkness (2008, self-released) ♥♥½
-Australian pop wunderkind who channels the spirits of Donovan and Sufjan Stevens, especially when he puts his toy instrument collection on display; suffers from a lack of focus, these songs are kind of all over the place and don’t really maintain any kind of logical flow or consistency-
HammockChasing After Shadows…Living With The Ghosts (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-painfully overlooked except to those among devoted post-rock communities; crisp, dreamy soundscapes best heard through your dad’s headphones; one of these tracks features vocals which I believe is a first-
WoodsAt Echo Lake (2010, Woodsist) ♥♥♥½
-my first experience with these two lads from the once-and-sometimes-great Meneguar; psyche-folk with a serious vintage feel to it; the general consensus seems to think their previous output far exceeds this so I may be in for a real treat when I work backwards.. RIYL The Clientele
Teenage FanclubShadows (2010, Merge) ♥♥½
-TFC have handed in a rather ho-hum essay of pleasant but MOR pop that’s more lush than jangle-
This Piano Plays ItselfAs The House (2010, Adair Park) ♥♥♥½
-psychedelic shoegaze/dream-pop with soaring highs and graceful low; a rather surprising and skillfully diverse LP-
LissieCatching A Tiger (2010, Columbia) ♥♥♥½
-acquire if you have been waiting for something to bridge the gap between Stevie Nicks and Avril Lavigne; much glossier production and approach than her stellar EP but there’s no denying this is a solid batch of tunes; she’s dead sexy and she’s going to be huge…-
The Dukes Of Stratosphear25 O’Clock EP (1985, Virgin) ♥♥♥
-there’s no scarcity of psyche aping on this debut from the XTC side-project RIYL Nuggets, Of Montreal
pat JORDACHEFUTURE songs (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-pat warbles and mumbles his way through 8 interestingly-titled explorations of lo-fi pop (or ‘poo-fi’ as he self-deprecatingly calls it…); RIYL Visitations, Dent May
Golden AgesAfrica EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-a so-so cover of the title track but the real treat is the last of these 3 songs which you’ve heard before on the July 2010 mix
Delta SpiritHistory From Below (2010, Rounder) ♥♥♥♥
-hearty and melodic indie/Americana that features above-average storytelling and sweeping choruses; hard to believe there’s former members of Noise Ratchet up in this piece-
Clean EquationsPeople/Variables (2010, State Capital) ♥♥♥½
-noise-pop featuring a variety of sounds, keys and textures but mostly sounding like a successful amalgation of Broken Social Scene (on the rowdy numbers) Death Cab For Cutie and Emperor X (vocals); hopefully a soon-to-be major player in the up-and-coming Philly scene-
The Mae ShiHLLLYH (2008, Moshi Moshi) ♥♥♥♥
-an intensely gorgeous schizo-electro-indie masterpiece that spends 46 minutes ‘gracefully’ spoiling the secrets of Christianity to anyone who will listen; RIYL the Paper Chase
Darker My Love2 (2008, Dangerbird) ♥♥♥
-neo-psyche from Cali with a decidedly British bent; fans of the Verve, Doves or early Oasis take heed for there will be much booty to plunder; good for what it is but I most likely will never come back to this-
My Heart Belongs To Cecilia WinterMy Heart Belongs To Cecilia Winter (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥
-this leans more towards the cutesy indie-pop tendencies the band displayed on their ’10 LP with more than a smattering of playful boy/girl vocals to satiate fans of the genre-
16 HorsepowerSecret South (2000, Razor & Tie) ♥♥♥½
-my first experience with 16hp since first hearing them on a CMJ sampler years ago; full of ups and downs; tracks like ‘Clogger’ and ‘Straw Foot’ and ‘Praying Arm Lane’ will keep me interested in the rest of their dark, faux-goth variety of Americana-
Rocketship ParkOff and Away (2008, Serious Business) ♥♥♥½
-earnest folk-pop with bright melodies a la Matthew Sweet; sprinkle a little country inflection on here as well-
Royal BangsLet It Beep (2009, Audio Eagle) ♥♥♥½
-crunchy but playful indie rock from Knoxville’s favorite band of beardos and staches; the south’s answer to The Joggers
CornershopJudy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast (2009, 101) ♥½
-i gave it a shot after reading two separate positive reviews but this is just cheesy faux-funk with kitschy Eastern embellishments-
Who KnewBits and Pieces Of A Major Spectacle (2010, Devilduck) ♥♥♥½
-not as good as Apologies To The Queen Mary but much better than Expo 86…oh, wait…-
David Karsten Daniels & Fight The Big BullI Mean To Live Here Still (2010, FatCat) ♥♥½
-David teams up with a jazz ensemble; there’s no denying its creativity and diversity but the brass seemed a little ‘loud’ and out of place against David’s typically fragile tale-spinning-
PhantogramEyelid Movies (2010, Barsuk) ♥♥♥½
-nothing tops the smooth and sexy opening #’s 1 and 2 but that’s enough to propel this into ‘recommend’ territory in of itself-
Kite OperationsFestival (2009, Actually) ♥½
-they’ve traded in the unintentional melodies of Dandelion Day for structured dissonance, yelping and shards of guitar noise; it’ll piss off your geriatric neighbors but that’s about it-
Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsDig, Lazarus, Dig! (2008, Anti) ♥♥½
-I’ve not ever been much on Nick since his halcyon Birthday Party days so you might want to ignore any negativity if you are a fan; with that said this is the most lighthearted offering in many years…if not ever-

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