Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gary Jules

The cover version of the Tears for Fears song Mad World is singer Gary Jules' claim to fame. With a Stipe-style vocal melody, Jules  helped pull the tune out of its synth-heavy early-80s package into the realm of mellow keyboard ballads. Movie score composer Michael Andrews - who played piano on the recording - tailored Mad World  for his instrumental-dominated Donnie Darko soundtrack.

Mad World continues to be featured in television soundtracks and commercials. Jules also wrote and recorded the song Falling Awake, which could be heard during an episode of Grey's Anatomy. Below is the third verse:
You never get to choose
You live on what they sent you
And you know they’re gonna use
The things you love against you

This singer-songwriter proves his chops with clean vocal and acoustic tracks. Not only does he share his words - he shares his heart.

profile @ myspace
mp3 @ saper.infra (mad world - donnie darko soundtrack - 2002)
mp3 @ butterteam (mad world - tears for fears - 1982)
mp3 @ obscuresound (mad world - tears for fears - 1982)
lyrics @ garyjules (falling awake)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Animal Collective

Animal Collective continues to be one of experimental rock's favorite science projects, and fans are eating up Strawberry Jam. Their latest oddysey, through which freak-folk - or psych folk - takes another phonetically modified step into its sonic evolution, leaving us discombobulated as to where such may lead. Or what their tracks may be doing to our collective id.

Their sound is not easy to pin down because the band members themselves struggle with the same task. Founding member Avey Tare admitted, "a lot of times when we’ve written a song and it takes so long to realize that we all had a different idea of what the rhythm or melody of the song was." Like sparkling fireworks spinning off in different directions, that eventually return to their original studio launching pad.

mp3 @ (winter wonder land - animal collective)
mp3 @ (fireworks - animal collective)
mp3 @ blogsr4dogs (safer - animal collective)
mp3 @ (derek - animal collective)
mp3 @ (on a plain - animal collective)
mp3 @ (chores - animal collective)
mp3 @ (for reverend green - animal collective)
mp3 @ (unsolved mysteries - animal collective)
mp3 @ (peacebone - animal collective)

video @ youtube (peacebone)
video @ imeem (fireworks)

player @ myspace

label @ paw-tracks

Thursday, September 27, 2007


L.A.-based indie-rock band Earlimart has returned from a two-year hiatus with Mentor Tormentor, including the Aimee Mann-ish track Happy Alone, which seems to capture the essence of a musical relationship in peril, with bassist Ariana Murray singing about a tormentor. Evident is the angst of the member of a rock band that has been in a continuous state of flux for years. The sorrowfully sweet vocal melody begins with:

call in the air strike, tell them to make the drop
initiate a cycle no one but you can stop

She may be speaking directly to Aaron, through this beautiful gem she wrote.

Frontman Aaron Espinoza listed the complications affecting the band since the 2004 release, Tremble & Tremble. "We had been dropped from our record label, we had money problems, and we had different band members leaving," he informed Seattle Weekly.

Perhaps one could also take Happy Alone as a stylistic reprise to their previous Elliot Smith tribute - for the somber shadow it casts.

Based on hard facts, Aaron and Ariana are survivors.

aaron espinoza interview @ prefixmag
player @ myspace
mp3 @ pitchfork
image @ spin

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Golden Bear

Golden Bear is a hero of the universe, and the personification of a indie-rock group based in Austin, Texas—the band you will find in the galactic-forest rock genre—characterized by themes of triumph, hope and excitement, along with rocking anthemic riffs and bombastic beats to create a melodious roar, according to their label, C-side Records.

Galactic Forest also happens to be the name of a die-hard intergalactic task force mentioned in a novel titled, Reclusive Authority by Bruce Kost, in which a host of various races of lifeforms throughout the universe join forces against a metagalactically sinister force that threatens to destroy them.

It is likely that, frontman Chris "Grizzle" Gregory based the band's name on the legendary Golden Bear, a large golden member of the Ursus arctos species, which includes the brown bear and the Kodiak bear.

To make a long story short, if a multitude of orchestras—from all over the universe—got together for a cosmic jam, Ten Thousand Orchestras would make a good encore.

myspace: golden bear

Julie Doiron

Singer-songwriter Julie Doiron had one track in her MySpace stream machine, No More, which has everything to do with no more singing. Since so few sing at funerals, such a situation seems a sad state of affairs for someone who earns her living singing. Then the bent melancholic harmony vocal enters to tease the lead melody.
no more singing into your eyes
no more singing into your arms
no more singing in the yard
no more singing in the park
The second half of the two-minute tune features a Ringo drum kit beat. It may have taken Julie two minutes to write the lyrics, but her biggest fans are playing it over and over. And then telling two friends about the song, and so on. Sometimes such repetitive simplicity wins out.

mp3 @ endearing
video @ youtube

Amy Millan

Singer-songwriter, Amy Millan, informed her publicist, I wanted to make a record that had a thru line between pop music and old, country music. Former roommates—who were bluegrass musicians—may have had something to do with her country music influence. She struggled to bring about an indie-country mind-meld, until someone told her that her voice was the key. I suppose, she also needs to realise: if she actually began to write perfectly blended—50/50—pop-country songs, she may not be able to turn such an ability off. Some gifts are like that.

Her latest CD, Honey from the Tombs, contains some pop, much country, a bluegrass tune, and then there is one track that departs from all that—the dark horse of the album, Wayward and Parliament. Amy worked at a coffeeshop on Parliament street in Toronto, Canada that housed a collection of about 3000 CDs. There, she got hooked on music by Brian Eno. Pitchfork deemed the track an experimental anomaly. Such manifestations of creativity are part of what help keep the indie genre alive.

Arts & Crafts: Amy Millan

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


This Glasgow-based indie rock band has been described as fun, vibrant music without requiring originality, variety, or strong lyrics, according to Critical Culture. But don't let a review like that drizzle on the parade, because the critical consensus rates the latest album, Cookies, "good". The track, You're Supposed to be My Friend represents rock in all its distorted glory. Another alehouse anthem for young blood that will rub rockers raw-red. And spiked with songwriter Jackie McKeown's painfully honest clowning. The lyrics remind me of the ironic dilemma of being friends with someone who is also too busy with other things and other people to ever be around. Jackie may have been a reclusive studio-dweller while the 1990s were laying down tracks.
You're never home!
You're never at my place neither
Well that makes two of us!

Along with indie rock, Cookies typifies power pop with it's catchy hooks and spunky guitar riffs. But that category title does nothing for the connotation of the partier-driven jams of the 1990s. Your music collection needs another splash - two shots of Rock straight-up.

Monday, September 24, 2007

El Perro Del Mar

One day, on the edge of some Spanish island, a dog appears by the sea to take Sarah Assbring out of her long-term creative slump. From that moment in 2003, her career took a different direction. In 2006, her self-titled release, El Perro Del Mar, received good reviews.

Pitchfork considers You Gotta Give To Get the album's "strongest tune" - I agree in a sense, and it is clearly the fullest track - but at least one of her other songs will delve deeper into your soul. Perhaps Dogs will, or maybe Party. There is something about Sarah's sugar-sweet melancholic melodies that pulls the deepest blues out of the sea.

mp3 @ headphones-on
player @ myspace
stream @ lickingfingers (Hello Goodbye)
video @ youtube (Party)
bio @ tag team media
blog @ elpd.blogspot
interview @ linapark6
home @ el perro del mar
I don't know why you say goodbye I say hello


Busdriver, aka Regan J Farquhar, is firmly rooted in the hip-hop family tree. His father, Ralph Farquhar, wrote the screenplay for the 1985 movie Krush Grooveone of the earliest films focusing on the hip-hop culture.

Have you heard of Ghettotech? Me neither. Not until after listening to the hot wired hip-hop programmed into a jam titled Sunshowers (edIT redo)—a reconstruction of an existing recording. Bus Driver has integrated plenty of urban information technology into this track. From the sliced-and-diced vocal chorus salad, to the quirky rap lyrics delivered by a ghetto nerd—your brain will be break dancing in a hip-hop euphoria.

Imaginary Places, on the other hand, is a concoction of classical music and rap staccato that presents evidence of the idiosyncrasies of Bus Driver's personality and zany sense of humor.

Eons ago, some predicted the demise of jazz, just as some today may continue to insist upon a short life expectancy for hip-hop. But Bus Driver seems to prove how hip-hop is a die-hard genre that will echo through alleys for many years to come.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

José González

The Swedish-born Argentine acoustic folk singer-songwriter, José González, released his debut album, Veneer, in 2003 in Sweden.

Mute Records has slated September 25th for the release of In Our Nature. González—who is not just a folk sylist—has mingled acoustic guitar with experimental electronica, teaming up with Zero 7—in Futures.

A direful downward chord progression reverberates with heavy-handed guitar strumming along with the vocal echoing "don't let the darkness eat you up" in the foreboding track Down the Line. Which has been accompanied by a video inspired by a early 90s comic book Manhog Beyond the Face—the odyssey of a half-man half-pig.

Basquiat Strings

Under the leadership of cellist Ben Davis, this London-based jazz quintet made the 2007 shortlist for the Mercury Prize, which is considered Europe's number one arts prize. Simply to make that list tends to fling nominees into a dramatic increase in sales and media attention in Europe and the UK. Davis was a bit shocked by the nomination, telling the Guardian, I'm still trying to make sense out of it. Each week I've had to order another thousand copies of the CD to be printed up. It's a bit mad.

Imagine neo-beatniks hanging out at a smoky basement club, snapping their fingers to rhythmically cool jazz grooves. Basquiat Strings self-titled debut album, composed by Davis, contains soundtracks of the Beat Generation—which followed the advent of Sputnik(with its own steady beep).

At Basquiant Strings' site, the musically astute can click the listen link for textual notes on the musical framework for three of their pieces. For example, Double-Dares is underlayed with a 7/4 Macedonian tapan rhythm I doubt even the grooviest jazz fans picked up on that.

Jazz may not be your first love, but every once in a while the Irish whiskey drinker might be seen taking a swig from a French cognac bottle.

    Iron and Wine

    Sam Beam—mountain man of the indie renaissance and front man of Iron and Wine—raised the bar a couple of times in the last few years. Previously, with the 6-pack of sounds packaged in Woman King, then again with the highly polished collection of beautiful guitar work and Americana spell cast by The Shepard's Dog. Not even Sam's deadpan expression could keep us from smiling about the latest tracks.

    Shepard's upbeat primary and primo track—Boy with a Coin—deserves applause, or at least inspirits us to clap along. Its lyrical density with strong imagery details a scene as well as any novel could, but with fewer words.

    A boy with a coin he found in the weeds
    With bullets and pages of trade magazines
    Close to a car that flipped on the turn
    When God left the ground to circle the world

    Layers of guitar rhythms, vocal harmonies and a fluid bass line enchant while hand claps mark time. In the background, choppy drum beats spice the rhythmic recipe while slide guitar drifts through the room like wood smoke.

    As the creative talent of Iron and Wine quickly gels, we look forward to another growth spurt, and another road trip through Americana.

    Listen to Iron and Wine MP3s at the Sub Pop site:
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