Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bayside - "Killing Time"

Bayside returns this week with the release of Killing Time, their highly anticipated fifth album and first for new label Wind-Up Records. Everything you love about the band remains intact but with a heightened pop sense and more sing along choruses, along with precise production from Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies).

Opening with a bang, the album’s first two singles are set back to back, with Anthony Ranieri’s acerbic, biting lyrics set to squealing blasts of guitar and a punchy pop-punk backdrop on “Already Gone” and the classic hardcore-style shout-out vocals on “Sick, Sick, Sick”, already a live favorite. “Mona Lisa” features Weezer-like guitar chugging and an impossibly catchy chorus. “It’s Not A Bad Little War” is an emotional, radio-ready anthem ready to explode. Standout track “Sinking And Swimming On Long Island” locks into a mosh pit-ready half-time groove with an equally exciting sing-along chorus. Another standout, “Seeing Sound” is built on a tightly-wound tom-heavy verse before its cathartic chorus takes over with fist-in-the-air gang vocals. The piano-led balladry of “On Love, On Life” features a lush string and horn arrangement, showcasing the band’s range. And the album closes with the soaring melodies and metallic guitars of the title track, “Killing Time”.

With Killing Time, Bayside definitely wasn’t wasting their time crafting yet another satisfying album, again setting the standard for the genre.

For more info click here:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Marcellus Hall - "Laughing With You" (Newest signing to Issac Brock's Glacial Pace label. Quirky, lyric-driven Dylan-esque folk with a twist from former frontman of 90's indie vets Railroad Jerk, he moonlights as an illustrator for The New Yorker and The New York Times.)


2. Toro Y Moi - "Still Sound" (Funky and fresh single with glistening synths and loads of melodies from the excellent new album Underneath The Pine out now on Carpark.)


3. The Luyas - "Tiny Head" (These Montreal multi-instrumentalists make vintage sound futuristic on their mind-blowing Dead Oceans debut Too Beautiful To Work out now. Catch them and their one-of-a-kind show as they are touring pretty much the rest of the year!)


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Builders and the Butchers - "Dead Reckoning"

The Builders and the Butchers return with the release of their third album Dead Reckoning out today on Badman Recording Co. To best capture the band’s signature live intensity, the Portland band recorded the album live with minimal overdubs and the result is a pounding, energetic and sincere set of blues and bluegrass-infused folk rock.

Downtrodden and grim, “I Broke The Vein” opens with ominous drums and organs to set the tone for the album. “Rotten To The Core” pummels with an end-of-the-world recklessness and a sing-along chorus. “It Came From The Sea” bellows with the same urgency of a sailor’s last lament before being overtaken by the storm. The first single, “Lullaby” is actually an anti-lullaby with thundering drums and dark overtones. “Moon Is On The March” stands out with a sweaty swagger, makes their organic acoustic sound become almost electric with intensity. Another standout is the stomping and hollering of the short “Blood For You”. And the album closes with “Family Tree” which features call and response vocals for a Sunday service sound with hymn-like organs and flickering mandolin figures.

As inspiration both lyrically and musically, singer/guitarist Ryan Sollee and his crew connected the dots between the current state of the world with that of the 1930’s, and the universal dark truths on Dead Reckoning gives an inspiring and timeless quality to their best album yet.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Free Friday: Guards - "Cover Songs 7 inch"

Guards is the project of Richie James Follin formerly of the Californian garage band The Willowz. Now he trades in blissful 60's inspired lo-fi mixed with New Wave/chill wave sensibilities and guests include his friends from Chairlift, MGMT and Cults. His debut EP was released as a free download on his Bandcamp page last July to great acclaim. And now he is back with a small collection of cover songs that he has released for free download as well.

On the first track on the Cover Songs 7 inch he turns Metallica's classic head-banger "Motorbreath" into a ballad with breathy vocals, smoldering guitar leads and fuzzy organs, sounding nothing like the original. Next, he puts the brakes on Vampire Weekend's "Taxi Cab" striking a new emotional chord with a slower pace and big vintage organs. The final track is a more upbeat cover of "Born Free" by M.I.A. that retains the original's abrasiveness but sounds like a lost psychedelic 60's garage rock nugget.

Download the Cover Songs 7 inch here:

Download the Guards EP here:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Asobi Seksu - "Fluorescence"

Yuki and James of Asobi Seksu continue to deal out the lushly layered dream-pop on their fourth album Fluorescence out now on Polyvinyl. Although the album artwork is an homage to the 4AD-isms that have become their calling card, the new album shows off a more poppy and brighter side to their music just as colorful as that same artwork and the results are stunning.

The album opens with rumbling drums and glistening synths with washes of thin New Order-like guitars on “Coming Up”, sounding like the soundtrack to an 80’s dream sequence. The first single, “Trails” begins with a stampede of guitars and ends with Yuki’s siren-like vocals soaring above the wreckage. “My Baby” is a coy and playful song of heartache with 60’s inspired keyboard melodies and doo-wop vocals. “Perfectly Crystal” stands out with an upbeat and jangly early 90’s guitar-rock vibe and layers of echoing angelic vocals, while the airy “In My Head” drifts off in a weightless atmosphere with only a church-like organ tethering it back down to earth. “Leave The Drummer Out There” features marching drums and brings their prog-rock tendencies to the fray while also remaining incredibly catchy. Other standouts include “Ocean” with its ebb and flow that perfectly captures its title and “Trance Out”, featuring hypnotic, swirling melodies and chanted vocals that really showcase Yuki’s vocal prowess. The album closes with a hazy and lush atmosphere created by male/female vocals and a wall of guitars and cascading synths on “Pink Light”.

Asobi Seksu may have tried to reign in their sound a bit by not “obsessing over everything” as James describes in the band’s recent press release but there is clearly no harnessing the band’s melodic sensibilities and songwriting skills as Fluorescence impressively proves.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. The Dears - "Blood" (Cathartic and anthemic new single from The Dears' new album Degeneration Street out today on Dangerbird Records. The album is filled with their trademark glorious and grandiose indie rock mixed with a soulful pop undercurrent for their best album yet.)


2. The Twilight Singers - "Blackbird And The Fox" (This smoldering duet with Ani DiFranco is the first single from the highly anticipated new album Dynamite Steps, Greg Dulli's latest dark opus, out now on Sub Pop.)


3. Poor But Sexy - "Hotter Than A Pop-Tart" (New project from former Dismemberment Plan guitarist Jason Caddell. The D.C. band's debut album Let's Move In Together sounds like the smooth and funky soundtrack to a yacht party with Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder on the guest list.)


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bright Eyes - "The People's Key"

Conor Oberst returns with his Bright Eyes moniker for the seventh time with new album The People’s Key out today on Saddle Creek. After focusing on folk and Americana for the last few albums, he breaks out the keyboards and pop choruses that echo back to Fevers & Mirrors and 2004’s electro-inspired Digital Ash In A Digital Urn. Again Conor is assisted by full-time members Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis, who also produced the album.

Just like every Bright Eyes album that has came before, the album opens with a strange intro, with this one being a two and a half minute shamanic spoken word piece from Denny Brewer before easing into the meat of the opening track, “Firewall” featuring foreboding atmospherics and background vocals from Andy LeMaster. The first single, “Shell Games” follows with possibly Conor’s catchiest chorus to date and a driving rhythm. Musically “Jejune Stars” is upbeat and poppy with a bouncy beat but with contrasting apocalyptic lyrics. “Approximate Sunlight” begins with more spoken word, before revealing a gloomy outlook with a trip-hop vibe that also sounds like a lost Fevers & Mirrors-era track. “Haile Selassie” stands out with chugging electric guitars, swirling synths and infectiously catchy vocals. “A Machine Spiritual (In The People’s Key)” mixes steady acoustic guitar strumming and heady lyrics with a dreamy haze of echoing vocals and synths. Other standouts are “Triple Sprial” with its happy handclaps and the aching “Beginners Mind” which both feature guest vocals from Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds. The album closes with the piano-led “Ladder Song” which harkens back to classic Bright Eyes while also sounding fresh and the gaunt New Order-like guitar lines and hazy atmosphere of album closer “One For You, One For Me”.

After perfecting folk-rock over the last few albums and projects, the charge of electricity on The People’s Key provided Conor a much needed change of pace without missing a note.

For more info click here: and

Download "Haile Selassie" here:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Free Friday: earsauce - "story so far, the"

earsauce is the electronica-informed folk project of instrumentalist/vocalists Evan Valentine and Steve Bower. Their self-recorded and self-released debut album story so far, the was released on their Bandcamp page in September as a free download. The expansive 20-track collection of sound collages flow seamlessly allowing for an intimate experience for the listener, as you feel like you are present during the recording process, complete with band chatter between songs.

The album opens with the surreal ambiance of “Beyond A Broken Dream” featuring contrasting acoustic/electronic production reminiscent of Brian Deck (Califone, Iron & Wine). The instrumental “J3” even incorporates some jazz into the mix albeit with a glitchy beat and some clever voice samples, showcasing the artists’ broad range. “All These Moments Pass Me By” stands out with its poignant lyrics and sweet vocal harmonies alongside steady but gentle acoustic strumming. Other standout tracks are “Criterion”, which samples and loops various violins over a choppy beat that I have had stuck on repeat all week and “Cor’Du’Roy”, mixing harmonica and subtle “la, la, la’s” with a scraping beat and a cyclical guitar for a futuristic folk jam. Also on their Bandcamp page is a 9-track B-Sides collection to the album that is available for free download.

earsauce’s story so far, the is best absorbed with headphones to capture each nuanced note and get lost in every layer of their crafty folktronica debut. Download it now and help spread the sauce!

Download story so far, the here:

You can also download the B-sides collection to the album here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Esben and the Witch - "Warpath" (The Brighton trio make their Matador Records debut this week with their new album Violet Cries. Ethereal gothic atmospherics and rumbling percussion that you can feel mix with Rachel Davies' reverb-rich vocals on their first single.)


2. Yip Deceiver - "Sadie Hawkins Day" (New 80's inspired electro-pop project of multi-instrumentalists Davey Pierce and Nicolas Dobbratz who double as live band members for of Montreal. Debut EP out soon on Aerobic International.)


3. Colour Revolt - "Our Names" (Textured, grandiose indie rock in the vein of Arcade Fire and Remy Zero from the Oxford, MS band's sophomore album The Cradle out now on Dualtone Records. Check them out on tour now.)


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - "Tao Of The Dead"

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead return with their seventh album Tao Of The Dead, released today on their own Richter Scale Records imprint through Superball Music. Ever ambitious, Conrad and Co. buck the digital age with an epic record meant to be listened to from start to finish as the 12 track record is split into two parts and only two tracks; the first consisting of 11 songs clocking in at almost 36 minutes, while the second, a five-part opus clocks in at 16 and a half minutes. So much for your “shuffle” button, huh?

The album opens with the instrumental “Introduction: Let’s Experiment” that builds until crashing into the pounding, power chord-heavy “Pure Radio Cosplay” with a punk meets classic rock feel that captures the spirit of their earliest releases. “Summer Of All Dead Souls” follows with some cosmic swirling synths and Rush-like riffage and a shout-along gang chorus for a standout moment. “Cover The Days Like A Tidal Wave” opens with strummed guitars and a spoken word-verse before building and exploding with a cascade of synths and distortion for an arena-sized chorus circa 1991. Other standouts from the first part of the record are “The Wasteland” with its soft/loud dynamic and psychedelic paranoia and “Spiral Jetty”, a strange little interlude-like track with plinking piano and unhinged guitar noodling. “Pure Radio Cosplay” is even reprised near the end of the first part of the record with an even larger wall of sound.

The band’s more atmospheric tendencies and theatrical outbursts are reserved for the second part and track of the album, which even has a subtitle: “Strange News From Another Planet”.

With Tao Of The Dead being split into just two tracks, it’s almost like having a full-length album and an EP for the price of one. So forget your iPod, buy this on vinyl and listen to this album as it was meant to be heard. You will not regret it as Tao Of The Dead marks a return to form from Trail Of Dead for their best album in years!

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. The Civil Wars - "Barton Hollow" (Pitch-perfect haunted harmonies highlight the first single from the organic folk duo's full-length debut of the same name out this week on Sensibility Music.)

2. Zoey Van Goey - "The Cake And Eating It‟ (Dangerously catchy first single with complex boy/girl vocals and tinny, jangly guitars from the Glasgow group's sophomore album Propeller Versus Wings out Feb. 15th on Chemikal Underground.)

3. Prussia - "What Am I Gonna Tell Your Mom" (Rhythmic first single from the energetic and quirky Detroit band's super-catchy new EP Four For Attention out now. And look for their new full-length Poor English, soon!)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Daniel Martin Moore - "In The Cool Of The Day"

Obviously Daniel Martin Moore is not concerned with the age-old sophomore slump, as he has decided to release a collection of re-worked traditional hymns alongside a few new songs he has written that serve the same purpose. And he shouldn’t be because his new album, In The Cool Of The Day out now on Sub Pop Records (probably the label’s first Christian-leaning, spiritual release ever) makes for an easy, uplifting listen and really showcases Daniel’s crafty songwriting and arrangement skills. The singer/songwriter enlisted his friend and fellow Kentuckian Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket to play banjo on several tracks as well as enlisting his Dear Companion cohort Ben Sollee to play cello as well.

The album opens with the short, bluegrass-y DMM-penned “All Ye Tenderhearted”, followed by the upbeat, “Dark Road” which kicks up the dust with a back-porch jam, complete with fiddle, slide guitar, banjo, and accordion. “O My Soul”, another original is more bluesy and tender with a bellowing vintage organ and Ben’s aching cello; that could become a traditional itself over time. Daniel jazzes up the hymn “In The Garden” with a walking upright bass chasing the piano line along with a finger-snapping rhythm for a standout moment. In the hands of DMM, the traditional hymn “Closer Walk With Thee” now swings with an equally buoyant bass line and rounded out by vibraphone. “Up Above My Head” retains its traditional instrumental vibe with a violin that echoes the vocals and duels with the acoustic guitar, like a musical history lesson in old time Mountain music. The more subdued “Softly & Tenderly” features gorgeous vocal harmonies from Haley Bonar and more beautiful cello from Ben on this interpretation of the classic invitational hymn. Daniel sticks to just a piano and his voice and again shows his pride for his home state with a cover of “In The Cool Of The Day” which was written by “The Proud Kentuckian” Jean Ritchie and inspired the naming of the album. Another standout is the faithful (in more ways than one) take on the uplifting hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”, which features only Daniel’s smooth voice and guitar. The album closes with an instrumental, “Lay Down Your Lonesome Burden”, penned by Daniel Martin Moore and played only by Earl D. Moore, Jr. on piano and Paul Patterson on violin; and another original “Set Things Right”, a sweet duet with Haley that features a fully formed arrangement.

For many artists, a Gospel album would be a questionable career move, but for Daniel Martin Moore it just fits and feels natural and even if you don't believe in the message of the songs, you can agree that In The Cool Of The Day is a beautiful album as timeless as its roots.

Download the single "In The Cool Of The Day" here:

Download or Stream the video for "It Is Well With My Soul" here:

For more info click here: