Monday, May 30, 2011

Interview: Yourself and The Air

Chicago trio Yourself and The Air create an organic blend of intricate and dreamy indie rock with spacey atmospherics on their excellent fourth EP Who’s Who In The Zoo, released May 24th on Lujo Records. The band has been touring constantly and gliding under the radar for far too long. Who’s Who in the Zoo should finally gain them the attention they deserve.

Here Erick Crosby from Yourself and the Air talks about the band’s new EP, plans for a national tour this summer, and what’s spinning in their stereos.


I am excited that Who’s Who In The Zoo is finally out! This is your first release for a label (Lujo Records), how do you think that will help you guys this time around?

I think it will help mostly get our name around to more people, but it also has a good effect us personally. It feels good to have a team to work with and it makes us wanna play better and write more for the future, so that way everyone gets the most out of the situation.

My favorite song on the EP is “Bicycles Plus” and has been since its debut on Daytrotter in 2009. What is your favorite song and why?

I would have to say “Sick Days”, only because it reminds me of when I was little–at least that’s what it’s about.

In reviews you have been compared to many great bands but who and/or what do you say are your influences?

There are so many to name. We were really into the indie rock scene when we were younger, by that I mean bands like Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Pixies. But nowadays, it’s kind of all over the board. Right now I’m digging Chad Vangaalen.

Who’s Who In The Zoo is your fourth EP. Are you currently writing or planning on a debut full-length in the near future?

Yes, we’re writing at the moment. Hopefully we can have a good amount of songs to put together on a full length for Lujo very soon, but we’re trying our hardest not to rush the process, and to not have to settle on the first songs we write, which has seemed to always be the case in the past. It’s always a bummer when you listen to a song and say, “Man, we should’ve left that one out.” So we’ll try to avoid that as much as we can.

You are getting ready to go out on tour to support the new EP. I saw you last June at the Southgate House in Kentucky when you were on tour with Friendo and let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a packed house, but you guys played like it was! What inspires you while on tour and keeps you going during nights like those?

Well mostly I think we all just enjoy being in other places than home–that’s enough can keep me going forever I feel like. Plus it’s always a bummer when you are that one guy in the place, and the band is super pissed.

What are you guys listening to in the van while on tour?

Lately, NPR. Ha ha! Getting real into talk radio. But I’m making a giant collection of cassette tapes for us to listen to. A lot of foreign music has made its way into that collection, plus a lot of old stuff I never really gave a good listen, like Funkadelic. Also, I’ve been jamming to some newer bands like Thee Oh Sees, Braids, Dustin Wong, Bear in Heaven as of late.

What other bands or musicians would you like to tour or collaborate with?

Hmm…maybe Menomena. We love those guys. It would be nice to write a song with Joe Walsh too. Ha ha, I’m serious though.

What one older and one current song do you wish you would’ve written yourself?

“Black Rice” by Women and “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys.

Besides Erick’s project Hands In, what other side-projects are you guys working on?

Jeff has had a project since High School, called Trancedental, and also Jeff and Drew played a show under Wildcats and Gemstones. I’m unsure if that will turn into something or not.

Not that you would want to, but if you had to, who would you choose to replace yourself in the band?

Ha ha. I would say, John C. Reilly’s character, Dale Doback from Step Brothers, although he deserves packed arenas.

This interview also appeared on

Friday, May 27, 2011

Free Friday: Night Moves - "Colored Emotions"

Minneapolis trio Night Moves (don’t even try to Google them, there are too many Bob Seger-themed wedding bands and nite clubs with the same name!) have just released their new album Colored Emotions as a free download through Afternoon Records.

Their brand of lo-fi indie rock is streaked with sunny psychedelic pop and a reverb-rich wall of sound, like a strange blend of Beachwood Sparks and My Bloody Valentine, for an excellent debut. Echoing drums and soaring synths collide with spacey pedal steel and banjo along with funky, falsetto crooning and breezy melodies on standout tracks, “Headlights”, “Only A Child”, “Old Friends” and “Put Out Your Shoulder”.

Make your move and check out Colored Emotions now!

Download Colored Emotions here:

For more info click here:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Bird of Youth - "Bombs Away, She Is Here To Stay" (Fronted by the affecting Nico-like vocals of Beth Wawerna, their self-released debut album Defender, out now, was produced by Will Sheff of Okkervil River and recorded with a host of friends from The National, Nada Surf and The Wrens, among others. Pop-leaning indie rock with hints of Classic rock and New Wave.)


2. The Elected - "Babyface" (After a long hiatus, Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley returns to his solo project with a new album Bury Me In My Rings, out now on Vagrant Records. This time around he incorporates funky Talking Heads-like grooves into his mix of sunny, psyche-pop and folk, like on the excellent first single "Babyface". Welcome back!)


3. Boris - "Riot Sugar" (First single taken from the critically acclaimed Japanese metal band's beyond-heavy new album Heavy Rocks, out now on Sargent House, features crushing drums and guest vocals from Ian Astbury of The Cult. Released in conjunction with Heavy Rocks is the companion album Attention Please which focuses on cinematic, wide-lens soundscapes with string-laden, icy and ethereal atmospherics.)


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yourself and The Air - "Who's Who In The Zoo" EP

Chicago trio Yourself and The Air create an organic blend of intricate and dreamy indie rock with spacey atmospherics on their excellent fourth EP Who’s Who In The Zoo, released today on their new label Lujo Records.

Shimmering synths and guitars intertwine seamlessly on opener “Trampolines” before punchy processed pizzicato strings and sweeping melodies take over for a dreamy nostalgic trip. Standout track “Sick Days” features chiming glockenspiel and layers of memorable melodies covering every inch of space. The hazy “Bon Voyage” is driven by twinkling, trance-inducing keyboards and a pounding rhythm. Another standout, “Bicycles Plus” opens with harmonica that sounds like it was recorded underwater, rising and falling synths and an off-kilter beat along with lyrics that were inspired by the movie E.T., bringing a sense of child-like enthusiasm. “Colors Alive” is as colorful as its name suggests with an infectious James Mercer-like vocal melody and glimmering guitars. “Ice Age” features muted, tom-heavy drumming and an icy, atmosphere made up of thin guitar lines floating above synth-pad crescendos. And the EP closes with the soaring sing-along chrous and crashing drums of “The Oracle”.

The band has been touring constantly and gliding under the radar for far too long and the Who’s Who At The Zoo EP, should finally gain them the attention they deserve.

Download "Sick Days" here:

For more info click here: and

Friday, May 20, 2011

Free Friday: Glorie - "Glorie"

Memphis instrumental post-rock band Glorie is the new project of Jason Paxton, former frontman of The Satyrs, who formed the group after an eight-year hiatus from playing music. Jason is joined by members of label-mates and psych-pop purveyors Snowglobe and Jonathan Kirkscey, a cellist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra who has performed live with Cat Power and Al Green.

Their engaging, hypnotic melodies, swirling cello and chilled-out vibraphone set them apart from most instrumental bands. Their self-titled debut was released this week on Makeshift Music and also as a "pay what you want" download on their Bandcamp page.

Download the album Glorie here:

Download "Full Circle" here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Chad VanGaalen - "Sara" (The prolific songwriter, producer and illustrator's guitar-led fourth album, Diaper Island, out now on Sub Pop is filled with his quirky brand of off-kilter folk-pop for his most consistent album yet.)


Also check out the EP of album outtakes he released with all proceeds going to the relief work in Japan here:

2. Damon & Naomi - "Walking Backwards" (Taken from False Beats and True Hearts their new album, their 8th, out now on 20/20/20 Records, which celebrates their 25th year of playing and recording together. Vintage organs and smoldering guitars anchor their tight vocal harmonies on the first single.)


3. Amor de Días - "Bunhill Fields" (New project from Alasdair MacLean of The Clientele and Lupe Núñez-Fernández of indie-pop duo Pipas. Their name is Spanish for "Love of Days" and their sound incorporates Spanish guitar along with twee chamber-pop. Their debut album Street of the Love of Days is out now on Merge and catch them on tour with Damon & Naomi as well.)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Okkervil River - "I Am Very Far"

Okkervil River returned last week with the release of I Am Very Far, their first album of new material since 2007. After contributing songs to the latest Norah Jones and The New Pornographers albums, and producing for the legendary Roky Erickson, frontman Will Sheff was inspired to write and produce this new album himself. Free of any album-wide concepts like the last two albums, I Am Very Far is a true showcase for Sheff’s literary lyrics set to darker and moodier take on their brand of country-leaning indie rock.

“The Valley” opens the album with discordant piano notes, frenetic strings, pounding drums and close-knit vocal harmonies throughout. The heavier and moody “Piratess” features a creative solo created by fast-forwarding and rewinding a boombox, highlighting the more experimental nature of the album. Standout track “Rider” bursts from the speakers with a huge, live sound that came from recording the song with two drummers, two pianists, and seven guitarists. The atmosphere and lyrics on “White Shadow Waltz” invoke a sense of paranoia with stabbing strings and rumbling percussion. Another standout track, “We Need A Myth” features angelic harp-like piano trills and a clever arrangement that represents their rough-around-the-edges pop sensibility. “Show Yourself” is laid back but with swells of feedback and noise breaking through, and ends with a frenzied guitar solo. The excellent first single, “Wake And Be Fine” was recorded in the same manner as “Rider” with a large band, featuring a crowded arrangement, but the lilting strings and vocal melodies hover above the crowd. And the album closes with the lushly orchestrated and piano-led “The Rise”.

Will and the band took great care in writing, re-writing and editing I Am Very Far until they were finally satisfied with the results and I think you will be too.

Download "Wake And Be Fine" here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Joan Of Arc - "Love Life" (This stripped down version of JoA features frontman Tim Kinsella, Theo Katsaounis, Bobby Burg of Love Of Everything and Victor Villarreal from Cap'n Jazz and Owls. Recorded in only 5 days, just days after a 20 concert tour of Europe, Life Like, out now on Polyvinyl Records, is loose but heavy on complex rhythms and intertwining guitar lines, just they we like it.)

2. Here We Go Magic - "Hands In The Sky" (Glimmering new single taken from The January EP, a new collection of 6 songs that were recorded shorty after their breakout album Pigeons, is cut from the same cloth. Krauty rhythms and vintage synths highlight their unique brand of art-folk.)

3. Snow & Voices - "Disintegration (Cure Cover)" (L.A.-based atmospheric dream-pop duo of keyboardist Jebin Bruni and vocalist Lauri Kranz are currently dissecting and reinterpreting some of their favorite songs for a covers project with a vinyl release of the album planned for the end of the year. Their take on the classic Cure song is a slow and smoldering with ethereal vocals and pedal steel, giving the song a whole new emotional weight.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sloan - "The Double Cross"

A lot of bands that are celebrating their 20th anniversary seem to try in vain to recapture their old glory but not so with Sloan. In fact, they have never lost it as they continue to churn out consistently great records while remaining true to their retro-informed power-pop sound. Out today on Yep Roc Records is The Double Cross, Sloan’s new album and tenth of their long career.

Album opener and first single, “Follow The Leader” bounces along with pumping organ before shifting gears with pounding piano that fades into the next song, “The Answer Was You”, with its sweet harmonies and soaring strings. The upbeat “Unkind” stands out with a crunchy riff and an anthemic shout-along chorus complete with handclaps. “Shadow Of Love” has an early rock-n-roll feel mixed with vintage organs and chiming guitars as a perfect picture of their ability to sound retro without a stitch of pastiche. The stellar Beatles-esque melodies on “She’s Slowin’ Down Again” rivals the best tracks from their breakout album One Chord To Another. The reflective “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” slows down the pace with acoustic guitar and beautiful melodies. The second half of the album explodes with “It’s Plain To See”, featuring jangly guitars, a shuffling beat, as well as a super catchy chorus and a spacey guitar solo. “I’ve Gotta Know” is a short burst of punk-influenced power-pop bliss. The piano-led “Beverley Terrace” features a nodding beat and New Wave-inspired guitar and synth lines. And the laid back charm of “Laying So Low” closes out the album with an assured, warm feeling.

Straight-forward and as infectious as ever, The Double Cross is easily one of Sloan’s best albums and a testament to their stellar, ever-fresh four-songwriter approach. Check out the album and help them celebrate 20 years and hopefully 20 more!

Download “Follow the Leader”

For more info click here: and

Friday, May 06, 2011

Free Friday: World Gang - "Promise 1"

World Gang is the ambient electronic project of Jeremiah Green of Modest Mouse and Darrin Wiener, a.k.a. Plastiq Phantom. They weave psychedelic synths and jungle rhythms together on their stunning new single, "Promise 1", which clocks in at nearly fifteen and a half minutes.

Also on June 10th, they will release a new recording titled, Live at the ENDOFTHEWORLD 3/11 which includes four new tracks that were performed live at the End of the World, in Port Townsend, WA back in March.

Download "Promise 1" here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. The Fling - "Wanderingfoot" (Nuanced and melodic folk pop with a scrappy, psychedelic bent from the Long Beach, CA-based band's new album When The Madhouses Appear, out now on Dangerbird Records.)


2. Callers - "Ringer" (New digital single incorporates an early punk rock influence into their already eclectic art-rock sound. Their excellent and beautiful sophomore album Life Of Love was released last October on Western Vinyl.)


3. Former Thieves - "Trust Fund Kids" (Unrelenting, venon-spitting, no frills hardcore from the Iowa four-piece band's debut album The Language That We Speak out now on No Sleep Records. For fans of Botch and Converge.)


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues"

Fleet Foxes return with Helplessness Blues, one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, out today on Sub Pop Records. With almost three years between releases, the band’s unexpected fame brought about new opportunities, some self-doubt and recording trouble but the new album produced by Phil Ek (Built To Spill, Shins) shakes all of that off to reveal growth, new experimental instrumentation and even more trance-inducing vocal harmonies, that shines through all of the hype heaped upon it.

Album opener “Montezuma” floats in on a cloud of dream-like harmonies that outweigh the introspective lyrical themes of longing and regret for a perfect reintroduction to their psychedelic folk-pop. “Bedouin Dress” stands out with some gypsy-like violin from guest Alina To and slide guitar, adding a touch of old world style to the country-inspired tune. “Sim Sala Bim” is ethereal and wide-open before launching into a back-porch jam to end the song. The upbeat “Battery Kinzie” features a pounding beat and stair-stepping piano with an effortlessly catchy melody. Standout track “The Plains/Bitter Dancer” builds slowly with a cyclical intro, leading into a harpsichord and flute led tune with their signature CSN-like vocal prowess in tow for one of their most experimental songs yet. The title track and first single, “Helplessness Blues” charges in with an acoustic guitar driven rhythm that needs little percussion to propel the song. “The Cascades” provides a pretty, instrumental division between the album’s two sides. “Lorelai” is a breezy, waltz with winding Beach Boys-inspired harmonies and harmonium. The short “Someone You’d Admire” showcases the true strength of the band with their amazing group vocals and just a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment and is followed by the orchestral swells of the epic eight-minute “The Shrine/An Argument”. The star-gazing “Blue Spotted Tail” is a cross between traditional and 70’s singer-songwriter folk. And the second single, “Grown Ocean” closes out the album with pedal and lap steel guitar and fluttering woodwinds, proving that the band pays just as much attention to the arrangements as they do their complex vocal melodies.

With Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes have delivered on the promise of their excellent debut, creating another "album of the year"-worthy performance.

Download the title track "Helplessness Blues" here:

For more info click here: and