Archive for February, 2008


still lust this….

Neon Neon (Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals fame) unveil their debut video, ‘I Lust You’. I still stand by what I said over a month ago: this album could have the goods to be a best of album by the end of the year. Smooth…..


Scouse pop act The Wombats extend the debate

Brits are not quite sure what to make of its latest animal act, Liverpool’s The Wombats.  Featured on last week’s NME cover, the band has elicited its equal share of disdain and love.  Ever since The Arctic Monkeys’ hit “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor,” there seems to be an increasing focus on, as the NME cover calls it, the “indie dancefloor.”  This is music to move to, just as Little Man Tate brought us the unforgettable singles “Sexy in Latin” and “House Party at Boothy’s.”

The Wombats are quirkier and probably even more interested in simple, hook-laden pop that stays clear of sounding at all manufactured.   How many bands would begin their debut album, The Wombats Proudly Present… A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation, with an a cappella song called “Tales of Girls, Boys & Marsupials?”  The song sets the stage for an album’s worth of material about romantic tiffs with titles such as “Kill the Director,” (check the linked video) “Backfire at the Disco,” “Patricia the Stripper,” “Little Miss Pipedream,” and “Dr. Suzanne Mattox, PhD.”  The last song, an ode to a general practitioner believed to have interest beyond the examining room, includes the repeating chorus, “Help me Suzanne, help help me Suzanne!”  Let me be clear.  These are ridiculously catchy songs, and much like The Kooks, the band is able to not take themselves seriously in the least without crossing that fine line into cloying or annoying.

It’s hard to just pick one song of this album to post, but I think “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” is appropriate given my musings.  The band’s album was released last fall in the UK, but I’m not certain when a release will be slated for the States.  No doubt, when it is, we’ll hopefully be blessed with a full tour (aside from limited dates ahead for SXSW in Austin and NYC).  By that time though, there might be little room on this indie dancefloor.

The Wombats, “Lets Dance to Joy Division”

LIMITED TIME BONUS: A cappella “Tales of Girls, Boy & Marsupials” for Jason.

Hear more songs at Myspace


I Spy(ies) More Canadian Goodness


According to the band’s website, Toronto’s The I Spies:

…will lead the next wave of Canadian indie rock to new heights! Due for nation-wide release on March 11th, The I Spies’ full length debut, “In The Night”, is currently creating a buzz as a small-run release in independent record shops across Toronto. “To the City” and “In The Night”, The I Spies’ first double single is currently making waves on college charts across the country and on the internet. Canada is taking notice.

Their collaboration breeds an imposing sound. Robertson’s gritty guitar hooks scuzz up Kay’s strong pop rants, while Payne’s infectious bass melodies race alongside Saks’ machinegun-percussion. The music is urgent, tastefully abrasive, and unabashedly hook-laden. “In The Night” frames themes of urban claustrophobia and retro-futuristic disappointment with a grande-scale tone of cinematic escapism. This is indie rock at its absolute finest!

Who am I to disagree?  No one, so I won’t.  After listening today, I’m buying it hook, line, and sinker.  This album will be a indie hit.  Catchy, catchy pop goodness; post-punk guitar pop, reminiscent of early 80s British rock.  Call them the Canadian Interpol if you must, or the Canadian Franz Ferdinand if that further helps.  As someone who hasn’t gotten into either of those bands much though, there’s something I find more genuine in the crunchy guitar and hook-laden craftsmanship of what I’ve heard from “In the Night”, the debut from The I Spies (five songs are streaming at the band’s website, specifically here).  There’s an additional song at Myspace, although the sound quality isn’t as good.

Listen, and remember, you heard it first here.  Out March 11th in Canada.  Also, watch this space for a review of another new Canadian band, Modernboys Moderngirls, released yesterday February 23rd.


Those Drugs….


Go downtown with the drugs in my body…

While attempting to situate my totally unorganized collection of digital files, I stumbled upon this track from Paris, France’s Thieves Like Us. (none of them actually stem from France though) They are relatively new to the Daft Punk meets New Order game and have only generated a few studio tracks so far. Local fashion label meets electronic music label Kitsune, quickly took interest in this trio, and over the course of the past few years, they’ve dug many acts I frequently come back to. I hear nothing but potential in their first single, ‘Drugs in My Body’. Repetitive robotic beats, an energetic bounce and the overall vibe that would have fit perfectly in ‘96’s Trainspotting or ‘99’s Go.

Thieves Like Us :: ‘Drugs in My Body’

Their video has that total youth exuberance feel to it that totally reminded me of the two above flicks. I’m thinking this was shot in Germany, maybe?


Because We Can’t Get Enough…


Just to show their true versatility, Hot Chip took their lead club ready single, ‘Ready For the Floor’ and smoothed it out on the R&B tip. These soulful fellows joined AOL’s The Interface for a mini-set. Check the video below for a taste and then jump over here for a few more laid back jams.

 Hot Chip :: ‘Ready For the Floor’ (on the laid back tip)

Vodpod videos no longer available. video source posted with vodpod


I Walk the Streets, a Loaded 4-String On My Back. . .

Dent May Rocks the Ukulele!

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele.  The name speaks for itself, but here are a few additional tidbits.  Mr. May is from Oxford, Mississippi.  He put together a 6-song EP last year called A Brush With Velvet which is available for free download on his site. The songs within the set are short, little pop songs based around the ukulele — obviously.  His style is slightly reminiscent of a crooner from the 1950’s with blends of doo-wop tied to amusing lyrics about young thrills and innocent diversions.  Glorious, light-hearted pop!  Does it get much better?

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele :: When You Were Mine

You may also wish to check out the video for “Oh, Paris.”  It’s a new song expected to be featured on his LP due later this year.  It’s also quite brilliant.


Urgent Future Funk

Leon Jean-Marie

Producer-turned-artist is a familiar story in the music world.  It’s been happening for years.  People start laying down tracks for other folks only to find themselves yearning to take the helm of an entire song or album from start to finish. 

Leon Jean-Marie, a 25 year-old from East London has followed a similar path.  After producing and remixing for a host of prominent names (Beck & Mark Ronson to name a couple), Leon hit the studio and recorded a few songs by himself.   The finished product has been labeled as ‘urgent future funk.’ 

In March 2007, he dropped a 7″ single featuring a song called “Scratch.”  The rumbling bass line is tough to refuse, as a quick snare-loop snickers to create a crazy funky vibe.  His voice and cadence are smooth, which blends so well with the atmosphere created in the intro. 

The perfect song to keep you company on an evening walk to your local pub for a pint, perhaps forecasting a silent flirtatious encounter with someone at the other end of the room.

Leon Jean-Marie :: Scratch


Denver’s Flobots Bring the Fight with Emcees and Strings

My first post about a hip hop artist/collective.  Put your hands together, it’s about time!  While the first single, “Handlebars” lacks the more obvious hip hop tone of its other popular Myspace-posted song “Stand Up” from its debut album, it is a clever Hobbesian-tinged analysis on the common drive and will of man.  As my first introduction to the band, despite what I had seen/read, I was still impressed by the instrumentation and variety of instruments, I turn to the opening paragraph of a review from the online site Hip-Hop Linguistics for better perspective (and cred) than I can provide:

Flobots’ “Fight With Tools” is an album that immediately jumped out from the stack of CDs I was considering for review this week – and for several reasons. First, the Flobots are an instrumental hip-hop band. In addition to two skilled emcees, the group features instrumentation uncommon in hip-hop these days, including lead violin (MiS-it’s a viola), guitar, bass, drum and horns in virtually every track. Second, the Flobots are a hip-hop group deeply rooted in conscious political dialogue. Of the twelve tracks in “Fight With Tools,” there is not one that fails to comment on current events, world history or humanitarian unity.

Songs from Fight with Tools are posted to the band’s Myspace page.  The collective’s lofty political goals and belief in civic engagement have been receiving considerable attention in early press coverage.  As recently featured in The Denver Post, the band states it is out to

“use our social and cultural capital to promote civic and academic engagement through literacy, volunteerism and creative expression.”

As discussed in the Post, the band will soon be starting its own nonprofit organization at to help in achieving its activist aims.  Not to mention, they’re receiving local airplay and attracting interest from indie and major labels (and MiS).  Read the entire story about them at at The Denver Post.

Below is the video for the first single, “Handlebars.”  Once again, I would also check out the group’s Myspace page, which includes songs from its debut album Fight with Tools.  Also, check out the great cover of “Happy Together,” which can be purchased as an MP3.


The Jam’s “Carnation”

I mentioned wanting to post some older songs occasionally.  I posted a Sly Stone classic on Martin Luther King Day.  With Valentine’s Day it only seems right to post The Jam’s “Carnation” from The Gift, one of the band’s admittedly less appreciated albums, released in 1982.

It’s most appropriate, at least this year:

If you gave me a fresh carnation
I would only crush its tender petals
With me you’ll have no escape
And at the same time there’ll be nowhere to settle –
I trample down all life in my wake
I eat it up and take the cake
I just avert my eyes to the pain
Of someone’s loss helping my gain
If you gave me a dream for my pocket
You’d be plugging in the wrong socket
With me there’s no room for the future
With me there’s no room with a view at all –
I am out of season all year ’round
Hear machinery roar to my empty sound
Touch my heart and feel winter
Hold my hand and be doomed forever –

If you gave me a fresh carnation
I would only crush its tender petals
With me you’ll have no escape
And at the same time there’ll be nowhere to settle.
And if you’re wondering by now who I am
Look no further than the mirror –
Because I am the Greed and Fear
And every ounce of Hate in you.

The Jam, “Carnation”


A Jangly Rant: From Vampire Weekend to Sordid Humor

A lot has been written about Vampire Weekend in a few short months.  Dave posted early on here about the hype (with the smooth title, “The Lost Boys?”), and the coverage has only intensified since then.  Moreover, his call out to me in the review, if I’m not mistaken, was due to the poppy/jangly sound of VW, something that seems to have been missed by many Indienet goonies.  For better or worse, I typically roll my eyes at the latest NYC indie/[insert some indie review site] band.  Even with Dave’s recommendation and my happy initial listen, it took my blogmates going to a show for me to admit I was more than curious.

Indie has become the new rock (this cycle is complete in the UK, and will take longer here) and its continued mainstreaming fuels a constant search for the next act outside that mainstream, just look at the NY Times covering “Black Kids,” a band with a few songs on Myspace in a review that nearly mocks itself.  It’s a vicious joke of a cycle.  The Brooklyn/NYC hype in particular has been less than stellar.  I have both Clap Your Hands albums, I’ve presented an academic paper on what happened with them in Birmingham, England at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.  I certainly do not hold any issues with them, since I view their vision to sign directly with ADA, and not with a label, groundbreaking.  Yet, what we have, is a young band with some solid to great songs, and a singer who is a dead-ringer for David Byrne.  Yes, there are some great songs, but instead we get reviewers clearly with their hands down their pants.  Billboard, as if thinking it needs to trump the review of its Pitchfork/Prefix competitors wrote: “CYHSY is at the best point in the lifecycle of a band: un-styled, simply produced and deserving of the hype for what is — quite possibly — a nearly perfect album..”  I’ll let that comment speak for itself.  If the debut is the best CLHSY has to offer, no one will be remembering them in a decade.

So, what inspired this rant?  That would be reading many many reviews of Vampire Weekend’s debut.  I picked up the album earlier in the week, along with four other recent releases.  It is definitely the album that grabbed my attention after hours of listening in a near vegitative state on my “hi-fi,” as my Dad would say.  But it didn’t stand out because of any secret love I have for Congolese music.  The overuse of this angle in nearly all reviews, notably by indie music critics, is embarrassing.  What, are we living back during the days of “Graceland” and Deep Forest, when authenticity is ascertained by throwing some stereotyped “un-moderns” paltry recording fees, while millions are reaped by white musical elites?  There’s a lot of lazy reviews going on here.  We’re a blog, this isn’t our livelihood, yet our reviews are better than many of the sites throwing around shit about VW being some Congolese-worshiping indie mistros.  As Jason commented in replying to Dave’s posting, “I don’t hear much of the African influences in the two songs posted.”  That’s because there wasn’t on those songs, and there’s not on much of the album.  Yes, there are some, notably the constantly mentioned “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”  But, I wonder how many of these same critics realize The Police used reggae rhythms.  This isn’t genre-bending.  These are Columbia-educated smart kids, intelligent musicians who have heard different styles, and they’ve chosen to intermingle them in very traditional pop trappings.

The last bit, is what really got me rankled.  VW sounds A LOT LIKE early 80s jangle pop.  I thought I would read that in review after review.  I didn’t, instead I read about the Congolose Appreciation Society at Columbia, and how they formed a band, and wear nice clothes, sing about commas, and are producing music that is simply uncategorizable.  Actually, it’s pop, jangle pop more precisely.  My bet: all the free press CDs and press materials say the same thing about African rhythms, or something about Columbia’s excellent ethnomusicology dept.  Again, lazy writing.  Thankfully, not everyone missed the obvious comparisons:

Greg Kot writing in the Chicago Tribune:

“But in general, this is clean-cut new-wave music that echoes the chattering guitar lines and agile percussion of the early Talking Heads and Feelies.”

And, while also pointing to the common African mentions of critics, Popmatters gets it right too:

“Most predominantly among those sources are the high life sounds of King Sunny Ade, the jangle-and-strum dalliance of The Feelies and yes, though you have probably read this in every other review of this album, the Afro-metro ascensions of Paul Simon’s Graceland and, perhaps even more so, “Shaking the Tree”-era Peter Gabriel.”

One observant comment on Stereogum made by “kidacomputerok” (we’ll forgive his name) comments:

I liked them better the first time when they were called The Feelies.”

Yes.  These guys sound a lot like the Feelies.

Continue reading ‘A Jangly Rant: From Vampire Weekend to Sordid Humor’

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February 2008