Mini-Beats – March 2011 – Edition 38

Beach FossilsWhat A Pleasure EP (2011, Captured Tracks) ♥♥♥
-mega-jangly springtime pop that finds Dustin crisping up production a little instead of hiding behind the wall-of-4track-sound on his debut LP-
British Sea PowerValhalla Dancehall (2011, Rough Trade) ♥♥♥½
-I’ve never really given an entire BSP album a fair shake since none of the ‘singles’ since The Decline struck me as anything special but Valhalla treated me to a sprawling exercise in variety with mostly positive results most especially when they display poise and restraint on the dreamier pop numbers; I can see how some would decry ‘identity crisis’ but I expect this to improve with each future listen; RIYL David Bowie, Catherine Wheel, Spacehog (yep…)-
Teenage PanzerkorpsGerman Reggae (2011, Holidays) ♥♥♥½
-what just happened here…oh, TPK just pummeled your cubicle with a blast of reverb-drenched, dark-wave punk; there’s ties to the Jewelled Antler collective in these ranks but you’d never know it-
The DiggsCtr-Alt-Del (2008, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-if, like me, you loved all those emo-core bands of the 90’s that focused on grand, atmospheric passages and tension instead of relationship heartbreak and acoustic guitars…this will tickle you pink; this is much different from their debut EP and LP but no less essential; the band is now sadly defunct; RIYL Elliott, Sunny Day Real Estate
Hands and KneesWholesome (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
-animated indie-pop troupe from Mass that opened up this LP strong but it flattened out quickly-
YuckYuck (2011, Fat Possum) ♥♥♥
-(Julie Christie) the rumors were true…this taps into the Dinosaur Jr./Yo La Tengo/Elliott Smith vein and draws way more blood than typically acceptable-
Eastern Conference ChampionsAkustiks (2010, Rockhampton) ♥♥♥½
-LA by-way-of Bucks County, PA collective cranking out hook-laden folk-pop and, at this point, most notable for their contribution to the Twilight:Eclipse OST; regardless, there’s no denying the foot-tappin’ rhythms and frontman Joshua Ostrander’s anomalous vocals-
Natural Snow BuildingsWaves Of The Random Sea (2011, Blackest Rainbow) ♥♥♥♥
-devastatingly beautiful ambient folk that should find itself on every self-respecting music lover’s year-end list-
The Baseball ProjectVol. 2: High and Inside (2011, Yep Roc) ♥♥
-I love baseball and all but these serve up little outside of nostalgic musings…most songs sound terribly forced with little no hooks to help embed them into your head-
MogwaiHardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011, Sub Pop) ♥♥♥
-read a lot of positive reviews of this coming in but I walked away feeling less than impressed with Hardcore as there weren’t any explosive/wow moments; still by far the loudest live band I’ve ever experienced-
The Lava ChildrenThe Lava Children EP (2009, Graveface) ♥♥♥
-a hit or miss affair with some really diverse psychedelic garage jams but Sherri West’s vocals occasionally sent my ears packing; thumbs up for the swirly pink-and-sea-green vinyl; RIYL Reading Rainbow, Cibo Matto
Cotton JonesSit Beside Your Vegetables EP (2011, Suicide Squeeze) ♥♥♥½
-a short, 4-song extension of the rustic, Appalachian folk explored on last year’s LP-
CreepoidHorse Heaven (2011, Ian) ♥♥♥½
-very promising local Philly act that spans the realm of dark, reverb-driven, sometimes lush dream-pop with mixed male/female vocals-
Aurelio MartinezLaru Beya (2011, Sub Pop) ♥♥♥
-known to most simply as ‘Aurelio’, he specializes in Garifuna soul native to Central America, notably Honduras where Aurelio is actually an elected member of the Honduran National Congress-

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Special Monday Morning Tape – #92

The Globesstay awake
(taken from their 2011 release Future Self)
Stormswolves and bells
(taken from their 2011 release Lay Your Sea Coat Aside)
Gloriehighrise
(taken from their 2011 release Glorie)
The Extraordinairesthe big show
(taken from their 2011 release The Postcard EP)
ALSOcall it funny
(taken from their 2011 release Music Belongs In The Background)
The Mannequin Bridesthe story of abby
(taken from their 2011 release By The Mannequin Brides)
PS I Love You (w/ Diamond Rings) – leftovers
(released as a digital single only)
Shouldglasshouse
(taken from their 2011 release Like A Fire Without Sound)
High Tension Wiresbackbone
(taken from their 2011 release New Machine)
Laura Stevenson & The Cansmaster of art
(taken from their 2011 release Sit Resist)
Kinchonce, i was a mainsail
(taken from their 2011 release The Incandenza)
The Rural Alberta Advantagenorth star
(taken from their 2011 release Departing)

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Yep


Belleville vocalist/guitarist Mark Caputo and Rubinoo/Vox Pop guitarist/vocalist Al Chan collaborate to make an exquisite cover album. Excellent production here: Very clean guitars and crisp, layered harmonies that sound sunny and confident without a hint of slickness or digital spit shine. The influences on sound are pretty narrow, though awesome: the country-fied incarnations of the Byrds, Teenage Fanclub, and the Everly Brothers (whose “So Sad” is covered here) have probably been in heavy rotation at the Yep HQ. The nods to other artists branches things out a bit more, as the Pernice Brothers, The Kinks, and Richard Buckner all get treatment. Aside from the sound and selection being up my alley, the duo also earns triple bonus points for providing a tolerable take on Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” throwing in one cool original, and turning me on to a new act. Along with their cover of “Hesitating Beauty” (from the Billy Bragg/Wilco/Woody Guthrie project Mermaid Avenue), the song “Noise and Confusion” is my favorite song on the album. Note to self: Look into the Alan Wauters Alliance. Once is an obvious labor of love, and one of the highlights of my year so far. Check out the site here and a few tracks below:

Crestfallen (Pernice Brothers Cover)

Noise And Confusion (Alan Wauters Alliance Cover)

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Mini-Beats – February 2011 – Edition 37

Cloud NothingsCloud Nothings (2011, Carpark) ♥♥♥
-short, driving, syrupy-sweet indie-pop songs in the Superchunk or Get Up Kids vein; these tracks differ from early singles as they’re a bit more polished and are based around one-liner choruses repeated ad nauseum with little else going on…I was expecting more-
EulogiesTear The Fences Down (2011, Dangerbird) ♥♥½
-LA collective has a penchant for putting one or two really catchy/awesome songs on their LP’s and filling the gaps with mid-tempo pop/rock songs that leave little lasting impression-
AnnabelHere We Are Tomorrow 7″ (2010, Tiny Engines) ♥♥♥½
-another solid release from the Tiny Engines label; these 4 songs (or 5 digitally speaking) pick up right where their lone LP left off with a ton of gang vocals and driving guitar rhythms; a stellar mix of indie, punk and emo to be had here-
Robert PollardSpace City Kicks (2011, Guided By Voices) ♥♥♥
-another notch in a consecutive string of solid releases for Bob (see the latest Boston Spaceships and Lifeguards albums for proof); all but one of these tracks falls below the 3:00 mark so things fire up and end quickly in classic, patented GBV blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion-
Asobi SeksuFluorescence (2011, Polyvinyl) ♥♥♥♥
-each new release finds the production getting crisper and Yuki’s signature vocals slightly more discernible but the trademark swirling synth/dream-pop sound is prevalent and beautiful; a few more spins and this might top 2006’s Citrus
Drive-By TruckersGo-Go Boots (2011, ATO) ♥♥½
-no one can deny the intriguing, tragedy-ridden songwriting chops these guys have displayed over the years but I find the band gets more and more predictable and less memorable with each new album, some moments here even bordered on uncomfortable bar-band fodder *shivers*-
Say HiUm, Uh Oh (2011, Barsuk) ♥♥♥
-this is definitely darker and more minimal compared to releases past and while the hooks are there (you just need to give them time to bubble to the top…) Um is miles behind the top-tier indie-pop of the first half of the SHTYM catalog-
Ivan & AlyoshaFathers Be Kind EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥½
-named for two characters in a Dostoevsky novel but the music is not as bleak and dreary as that would imply; this is simplistic and, at times, uplifting folk-rock that suffers only from its lack of tempo change and diversity-
The Binary Marketing ShowBecause Of This, This and This (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
-collage-pop from this Brooklyn duo that follows in the footsteps of their impressive catalog; this is a variation of folk-tronica with tribal, wind-swept melodies and organic instrumentation; RIYL The Books, The Microphones
The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead (2011, Capitol) ♥♥
-I keep giving each new release a few listens in hopes I will latch onto something and it still sounds like folkie, dad-rock to me (a step above James Taylor maybe?) but it’s still far more listenable than the horrificly bloated Hazards
Lia IcesGrown Unknown (2011, Jagjaguwar) ♥♥♥♥
-minimal, almost naked, goth-pop centered around Lia’s dynamic/expressive vocals and various string accompaniments; includes a duet with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) on ‘Daphne’, one of my favorite tracks of the year thus far; RIYL St. Vincent, Glasser
Scattered TreesSympathy (2011, Roll Call) ♥♥♥♥
-promising indie-pop that seems like an oddity coming out of Chicago these days; equal parts mellow and boisterous but wholly therapeutic; almost every song is ready for immediate mixtape placement-
Brown ReclusePanoptic Mirror Maze (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
-9 songs (3 of them instrumental interlude pieces) that hint at a more playful psychedelic pop side (read: Of Montreal/Apples In Stereo) rather than the Belle & Sebby pop of the previous Soft Skin EP; this serves as a primer for the upcoming LP to be released on Slumberland and it’s also available as a free download here
PS I Love YouMeet Me At Muster Station (2010, Paper Bag) ♥♥♥♥
-a feast of melodic, fuzzy/distorted guitar & drums exercises with vocal nods to Wolf Parade & Arcade Fire; omitted from 2010’s year-end list only because I was late in getting to sample the full LP-
Virgin Of The BirdsFugitive Works EP (2011, Abandoned Love) ♥♥♥
-the 4th installment in Jon Rooney’s free EP series that mines the same territory as the previous 3, affecting lounge-y, indie-pop with a sincere focus on songwriting..get it here
The DøThe Slippery Slope (2011, Get Down!) ♥♥♥♥
-quite eccentric, groove-based neo-dance-pop that even borders on the vaudevillian at times; the attentive listener will find a smorgasbord of sounds being deployed in the background of almost all of these tracks, couple that with creative percussion/beats and it makes for one of the most dynamic releases I’ve heard in recent memory; RIYL Björk, Feist, Lykki Li
BikiniRIP JDS EP (2010, Lefse) ♥♥♥½
-sparkling, ambient pop featuring a lot of chill(wave) traits but on the less experimental, super-melodic side of the genre; keeping an eye out for a full-length…-
Moon PearlPearl Jams EP (2010, Life’s Blood) ♥♥♥½
-my second experience with the Life’s Blood label after the engaging Pregnant LP and Moon Pearl’s scuzzy, avant-garage noise seems like it fits perfectly into the label’s mission of wanting to defy classification; the EP will soon be re-recorded and renamed (bummer) but this version still available as a free download on zee Bandcamp
Painted PalmsCanopy EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-nothing tops the shimmering nugget of tropical synth-pop glory on the opening track but there’s enough goodness through these 5 tracks to keep it in rotation; o yeah, get it here compliments of the band-
Porcelain RaftGone Blind EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-Mauro Remiddi finds himself branching out from his main gig (Sunny Day Sets Fire) to record a couple of poignant, mid-fi gems amongst half-realized noodlings (or at least I hope they are…)-
French FilmsGolden Sea EP (2010, Gaea) ♥♥♥♥
-the genetic makeup of this Finnish clan is wholly comprised of the new wave of beach-combing post-punk propelled by driving basslines and ooh-aah’s like the Drums or Surfer Blood by way of Orange Juice and Chamelons UK; can’t get enough of this sound!-
ChappoPlastique Universe EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥½
-the title track will sound familiar as its the background for a Ford/Apple/somethingcorporate commercial but you’ll find little else of value here-
Radical FaceGhost (2007, Morr) ♥♥♥♥
-at first this LP seemed a little too predictable outside of a few mopey gems but it’s charms reveal themselves with repeated listens; makes sense as Ben Cooper (the man behind Radical Face) produced the first two Astronautalis albums, both of which I love-
Easter IslandBetter Things EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥
-when my top 40 lovin’ co-worker yelled out from another room that the guitar in the leadoff track ‘Proud’ sounded like Coldplay it hit hard and left a bad taste in my mouth; thankfully, there’s a bit more going on here to allow me to get over that initial reaction; RIYL Teenage Fanclub, Bends-era Radiohead
No JoyGhost Blonde (2010, Mexican Summer) ♥♥♥½
-a hazy novella of 90’s shoegaze and noise pop that seems to end at least 15 minutes before you want it to, unfortunately-
Fergus & GeronimoUnlearn (2011, Hardly Art) ♥♥½
-usually I gobble up this sort of lo-fi, garage-pop stuff up but I wasn’t as impressed with this LP unlike the group’s earlier singles-
U.S. RoyaltyMirrors (2011, Family) ♥♥♥
-DC-based collective who seem like they’d be more at home on the west coast; Mirrors is feelgood rock-n-roll with melodies and guitar jams I could swear were lifted straight out of the 70’s Fleetwood Mac canon (see ‘Monte Carlo’ for proof); RIYL Dr. Dog, Dawes

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Special Monday Morning Tape – #91

Panda Bearlast night at the jetty
(taken from his 2011 release Tomboy)
Futurebirdsdirty d
(taken from their 2011 release Futurebirds EP)
Snowblinkthe tired bees
(taken from their 2011 release Long Live)
Hammer No More The Fingerssteam
(taken from their 2011 release Black Shark)
Michael J. Epstein Memorial Libraryamylee
(taken from their 2011 release Volume One)
Shipbuilding Co.made out of diamonds
(taken from their 2011 release Radios and Flying Birds)
Poor But Sexycherry delicious
(taken from their 2011 release Let’s Move In Together)
Beach Fossilsout in the way
(taken from their 2011 release What A Pleasure EP)
Arc In Round3am all the time
(taken from their 2011 release Diagonal Fields EP)
tUnE-yArDsbizness
(taken from her 2011 release w h o k i l l)
Southeast Enginenew growth
(taken from their 2011 release Canary)
Columboidstatehoarders
(taken from his 2011 release We Were One)

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The Binary Marketing Show

I stumbled across The Binary Marketing Show back when you could separate new releases by genre on CDBaby. Not that I’m a classification Nazi by any means but the selection of new age and hip-hop was unquestionably less than desirable (still is). It took all of a few 30-second clips to make me want to devour anything I could get my ears on.

2009’s Pattern, a diverse exploration into wind-swept melodies and varied instrumentation, was my introduction to TBMS and ended up being one of my favorite LP’s of that year. I also described it as an inspiring collection teeming with weirdo-pop, sunshine fixes and tribal beats and featured the simply special ‘Fear’ on my December ’09 mixtape. The duo, consisting of Abram Morphew and Bethany Carder and hailing from Brooklyn, have somehow eluded widespread, blogospherical success and that’s a shit-bag of shame. But really, nothing I wax poetic about is going to serve up any justice to the wholesome goodness of their entire catalog. The band was kind enough to share their latest release with me so dig into a few tracks I culled from that (and a few others) below and scour their voluminous Bandcamp page for more. They’ll be playing a house show at The Mitten in West Philly on 3/1 and I’m totally sure it’ll be electric but unfortunately I won’t be able to make it.

RIYL The Books, The Microphones, Fog, any number of your current favorite chillwave crushes

Tromping Through The Valley Of Impending Doom (from 2007’s Destruction Of Your Own Creationpay-what-you-want download)

Wellbeing (from 2007’s Destruction Of Your Own Creationpay-what-you-want download)

Shape Of Your Head (from 2009’s Patternpay-what-you-want download)

Blue Glass (from 2011’s Because Of This, This and This)

Don’t Bother (from 2011’s Because Of This, This and This)

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