Wednesday, June 29, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Shabazz Palaces - "Swerve...the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir notwithstanding)" (The first hip-hop release on Sub Pop comes from Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler formerly of Digable Planets but gone is the cool Jazz influence, as his debut Black Up is full of futuristic, minimalist indie hip-hop but his smooth and tricky wordplay remains.)

2. Handsome Furs - "What About Us" (For their third album Sound Kapital, out now on Sub Pop, the duo of Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and his wife Alexei Perry dropped most of the guitars, to rely almost solely on synths and drum machines. The results are stunning, like an after-hours dance party with Dan's distinct vocals over driving, anthemic electronica.)

3. The Fruit Tree Foundation - "I Forgot The Fall" (Soaring collaboration between Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit and Rod Jones of Idlewild from the album First Edition, a one-off collection from Scotland's greatest musical exports. Also included are unique collaborations from James Graham of Twilight Sad, Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow and the Workshop, Emma Pollock of The Delgados, as well as Karine Polwart, Jenny Reeve, Alasdair Roberts and James Yorkston. The album was created to spread awareness for mental health and wellbeing in partnership with The Mental Health Foundation.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Graham Wright - "Shirts vs. Skins"

Graham Wright the keyboardist from Tokyo Police Club is set to release his debut album Shirts vs. Skins, out today on File Under: Music Records. Following the 2008 release of The Lakes of Alberta EP, which focused on understated folk, Graham wrote over sixty songs with plans to release a trilogy of albums, the first being Shirts vs. Skins. The new album incorporates many different styles and is more straight-forward and upbeat.

Right off the bat, “Heaven’s Just For Movie Makers” is an energetic slice of early-Tokyo Police Club punk- pop with tumbling drums and exuberant vocals. First single, “Soviet Race” features circular guitars, analog synths and a racing vocal cadence on the verse which opens up on the wide-open chorus. “Your Heart Is My Heart” slows down the pace to focus on Graham’s sweet and quirky vocals on the earnest and heartfelt standout track. “Leftovers” has an early 90’s alternative vibe with jangly guitars and power-pop melodies that will find their way into your brain and make themselves at home. Another standout, “Keys To The Kingdom” is more in line with the music found on the EP with a simple acoustic guitar, harmonica and an earnest vocal with clever phrasing. The rollicking folk-rock of “Canadian Thanksgiving” features shouted “Oh’s” and is over before you want it to be. “Potassium Blast” stands out with a skronky horn, vintage organs and joyous background vocals, sounding like Vampire Weekend if they were from New Orleans instead. “Evening Train From Kingston” continues with the Afro-pop, featuring a rhythmic ukulele but with blasts of distorted guitar and Graham’s best Paul Simon impression. The album closes with the short, jaunty, piano-led “No Hard Feelings”, leaving you wanting more.

At first, I was slightly disappointed with the change of direction on Shirts vs. Skins, only because I loved the heart-on-sleeve folk of The Lakes of Alberta EP. But the melodies and mood of the album is undeniably catchy and now I can’t wait to hear more music like this from Graham!

Download: "Soviet Race" here:

For more info click here: and

Also: (to download the excellent EP The Lakes of Alberta for free!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Skysaw - "No One Can Tell" (New prog-rock project from Jimmy Chamberlin includes Mike Reina and Anthony Pirog from The Jackfields. Their impressive debut Great Civilizations is out now on Dangerbird Records and features Jimmy's trademark drumming set to soaring guitars and complex arrangements.)

2. City And Colour - "Fragile Bird" (Little Hell out now on Vagrant Records, is Alexisonfire frontman Dallas Green's 3rd solo album under this moniker and it is by far the most expansive and accessible to date. With help from producer Alex Newport, he adds touches of Country and Blues to his emo-tinged folk without dimming the spotlight from his impressive voice.)

3. Burning Hearts - "Into The Wilderness" (Dreamy, 80's inspired indie-pop from the Finnish duo of Cats on Fire drummer and instrumentalist Henry Ojala and Le Futur Pompiste singer Jessika Rapo. Title track to their hazy new EP out now on Shelflife Records. For fans of Summer Camp and Stereolab.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rubblebucket - "Omega La La"

Energetic Brooklyn eight-piece Rubblebucket are set to release their new album Omega La La today on Sin Duda Records. Their nearly unclassifiable indie-pop features buoyant synths and punchy horns for an album that is psychedelic and infectiously catchy. Omega La La was produced by DFA-vet Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair) who maximized the kinetic energy of their live show to its most danceable potential.

“Down In The Yards” opens the album with intertwining male/female vocal harmonies and an exuberant chorus with horns that match it in intensity. “L’Homme” features bubbling synths and lyrics sung in French with 60’s psychedelic background vocals. First single, “Silly Fathers” is led by a flickering disco guitar riff and a catchy call-and-response chorus. Also included are two re-recorded standout tracks from last year’s excellent Triangular Daisies EP; “Came Out Of A Lady” features the same jubilant horns and sugary sweet pop-meets-World Music hook but the infectiously catchy whistling at the heart of the original, has been sadly diminished. And the EP’s title track “Triangular Daisies” with its rapid-fire, echoing vocals and whistle solo is polished up with cleaner production and subtle bits of new instrumentation added. Other standout tracks are “Raining” with its stomping, clapping beat and jazzy chords, the hypnotic synths and 80’s vibe of “Breatherz” and the positive message and skronky saxophone of the “Worker”.

Rubblebucket’s quirky arrangements and bright melodies make for the perfect summer record on the first day of summer!

Download "Worker" here:

For more info click here (Where you can also download the new album for free if you help spread the word on Facebook!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Free Friday: Josh Garrels - "Love & War & The Sea In Between"

Portland singer/songwriter Josh Garrels has decided to give away his excellent new album, Love & War & The Sea In Between, his sixth, as a free download on his website and on his Bandcamp page.

His carefully crafted eclectic music combines chamber-pop, world music and folk with ambient, electronic textures along with a voice that flutters with vulnerability one moment and soars the next, while even touching on hip-hop. Lyrically, he writes from the Christian perspective about love, suffering and life but the themes and melodies transcend to reach all listeners.

Josh's new album is beautiful and affecting and deserves your attention. Check it out and help spread the word yourself!

Download Love & War & The Sea In Between here:

For more info click here:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Life On Repeat - "Struggle + Sleep" (The anthemic title track to their powerful and melodic debut album out now on Equal Vision, delivers on the promise of their excellent As I Grew EP. Catch them on tour all Summer with There For Tomorrow and then with Greeley Estates.)


2. Niki And The Dove - "The Fox" (New single from Stockholm duo of Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf out now on Sub Pop. Sinister, seductive and soaring, their deconstructed danceable pop is now on display for the U.S. with a full-length due later this year.)


3. Stuyvesant - "St. Cloud" (New Jersey band's new album, Fret Sounds, out now on Dromedary Records, is a sweat-drenched set of power-pop, punk rock and bar-room sing-alongs from members of 90's college rock champs Footstone and Friends, Romans, Countrymen.)


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vetiver - "The Errant Charm"

Vetiver songwriter Andy Cabic’s lushly layered folk-leaning pop is on display yet again with the Sub Pop release of The Errant Charm, their fifth album, out today.

A glowing haze of vintage keyboards and a steady stride propel the six and a half minute opener “It’s Beyond Me”. The glistening “Worse For Wear” features an insistent beat and ringing piano notes as the liquid melodies wash over you. “Can’t You Tell” stands out with a hop-scotching electronic beat and sun-drenched guitars and the breezy “Hard To Break”, with it’s velvety vocal harmonies both make for the perfect soundtrack for Summer. “Fog Emotion” could fit right in on a 70’s light rock station between Jackson Browne and James Taylor. Another standout, “Right Away” is a breezy rocker with a pretty string and vocal arrangement, featuring background vocals from friend and label mate Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats. The upbeat “Wonder Why” features intertwining guitar and piano lines with a dirt road guitar solo and a catchy, sing-along chorus. “Ride, Ride, Ride” features background vocals from Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice along with a hip-shaking, country-rock swagger. The album closes with the excellent, slower-paced and affecting “Faint Praise” and the hypnotic ambiance of the aptly titled “Soft Glass”.

With The Errant Charm, the album’s charm is not as elusive as its title might suggest because Andy has created another smooth album with some of his most poppy and rocking songs yet.

Download "Wonder Why" here:

For more info click here: and

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dream Concert: Iron & Wine

Over the years I have seen many of my favorite bands live but many times life has gotten in the way and I have missed them. There is a growing list of bands I want to see. With the Dream Concert feature, I list the set list and venue of my choice for one of my favorite bands that I have yet to experience live. My current selection is Iron & Wine who has been near the top of my list since I first heard Sam Beam's brand of hushed folk in 2002. So finally I get to see Iron & Wine live this Saturday at the Madison Theatre in Cincinnati. And here is my "dream" set list, if I was able to choose it for the show.

SET LIST: (In order by album)

Lion's Mane

The Rooster Moans

Southern Anthem

The Night Descending

Naked As We Came

Cinder And Smoke

Teeth In The Grass

Love And Some Verses

Free Until Cut Me Down

Woman King

Gray Stables

White Tooth Man

Wolves (Song of The Shepherd's Dog)

Resurrection Fern

Boy With A Coin

The Devil Never Sleeps

Me And Lazarus

Tree By The River

Half Moon

Rabbit Will Run

Godless Brother In Love

Big Burned Hand

Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me

Hey, maybe I will get lucky and they will play for hours on end and play each and every song I picked! I can dream, can't I?

Download "Southern Anthem" here:

For more info and tour dates click here:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. The Appleseed Cast - "Middle States" (Atmospheric and affecting, the title track to the long-standing, boundary-breaking group's excellent new EP out now on Graveface Records proves they haven't lost a step. Look for their 8th album due to be released next year on Graveface.)


2. The Rosebuds - "Second Bird Of Paradise" (Dark and moody single from their new album, Loud Planes Fly Low, out now on Merge, is cathartic and beautiful as it reflects their decision to continue the band post-divorce. You can also see them on tour with Bon Iver this Summer.)


3. The Poison Control Center - "Dracula's Casket" (The Iowa-based band delivers on their eclectic new album Stranger Ballet out now on Afternoon Records with unhinged guitars and crazed vocals to go along with the charged, theatric rock found on the super-catchy new single.)


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

31Knots - "Trump Harm"

Today marks the release of Trump Harm, the seventh album from 31Knots. The Portland band consistently churns out incredibly artistic punk rock that continues to defy classification. The new album was recorded during frontman Joe Haege’s time off from touring with fellow Portland band Menomena, as he became a member early last year and while writing his first solo album, the beat-heavy and synth-driven Chroma Key, under the moniker Vin Blanc, which was also released today in conjunction with Trump Harm on Polyvinyl Records.

“Onanist’s Vacation” opens the album with tumbling drums and bass before Joe comes in with a carnival-barker’s enthusiasm as the track takes on Afro-pop melodies. First single, “Candles On Open Water” is upbeat with a steady, walking bass line and a glassy atmosphere. “Middle Ages” hearkens back to their prog-y earlier material with winding guitars and mesmerizing vocal harmonies. “Egg On My Face” features glitchy and distorted electronics, adding yet another layer to their inventive arrangements. The off-kilter rhythm and extended quasi-bluesy guitar solo of standout track “A Lot Can Tell” is a perfect example of what sets the band apart. The album closes with “One Tongue Room (Come To My Senses)” with a bobbing vocal cadence set to a driving guitar and organ riff.

With Trump Harm, 31Knots proves once again that their anything goes mentality and creativity keeps them one step ahead of everyone else.

Download "Candles On Open Water" here:

Download "Red Thread" the piano-led first single from Chroma Key by Vin Blanc, the debut solo album from Joe Haege, here:

For more info click here: and

Monday, June 06, 2011

Contest: Communicating Vessels 7" Series

Communicating Vessels is the label run by Jeffery Cain of Remy Zero. He has released music by his solo project Dead Snares as well as the solo project of the late Gregory Scott Slay, the drummer for Remy Zero who passed away last year.

Currently, he has signed three of his hometown's best songwriters and has released a gorgeously packaged 7" for each one. The Birmingham musicians are Sanders Bohlke, who has shared the stage with everyone from Gomez to Tom Morello; Duquette Johnston, formerly of 90's alt-rockers Verbena, who performs roots rock mixed with dusty folk; and The Great Book of John, the solo project of Taylor Shaw formerly of Wild Sweet Orange and whose ethereal arrangements and crooning voice have been compared to Jeff Buckley.

You can win a copy of all 3 of these limited-edition 7 inches from Communicating Vessels and Atlas and the Anchor. Just send an email to and tell me your favorite Remy Zero song! One lucky winner will be chosen randomly on Monday June 13th and will be notified by email. Thanks and good luck!


The Great Book of John - "Let Me Slide":

Sanders Bohlke - "Quiet Ye Voices":

Duquette Johnston - "Roll Baby Roll":

For more info click here:

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dream Concert: Bright Eyes

Over the years I have seen many of my favorite bands live but many times life has gotten in the way and I have missed them. There is a growing list of bands I want to see. With the Dream Concert feature, I list the set list and venue of my choice for one of my favorite bands that I have yet to experience live. My current selection is Bright Eyes. I have been a fan since 2000 when I first heard Fevers & Mirrors. And now I finally get to see Conor Oberst after waiting well over a decade! Bright Eyes is currently on tour supporting the excellent new album The People's Key and I will be attending the show on Wednesday June 8th at the LC Pavillion in Columbus. If I had my way, here is the set list I would choose for the night.

Set list: (listed in order by album)

The People's Key:

Shell Games

Haile Selallie

Jejune Stars

Approximate Sunlight

One For You, One For Me


If The Brakeman Turns My Way

Four Winds

Soul Singer In A Seesion Band

Classic Cars

I'm Wide Awake It's Morning:

We Are Nowhere And It's Now


First Day Of My Life

Another Travelin' Song

Digital Ash In A Digital Urn:

Take It Easy (Love Nothing)


Hit The Switch

Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground:Bowl Of Oranges

You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.

Make War

From A Balance Beam

Fevers & Mirrors:

Something Vague

A Scale, A Mirror And Those Indifferent Clocks

An Attempt To Tip The Scales

Letting Off The Happiness:

The Difference In The Shades

Pull My Hair

Hey, maybe I will get lucky and I will get to check off many of these songs off of my list...

Download "Something Vague" from Fevers & Mirrors here:

For more info and tour dates click here: and

Thursday, June 02, 2011

My Morning Jacket - "Circuital"

My Morning Jacket returned this week with Circuital, their sixth album and first recorded back home in Kentucky since their break-through album It Still Moves (2003). The new album, while still expanding their limitless sound and no less creative, is much less experimental than Z and Evil Urges but more straight-to-the point and raw, as it was recorded live with very few overdubs.

“Victory Dance” opens the album triumphantly, marking a return to form and the title track, “Circuital”, appropriately sparkles with the same wide-open, classic rock sound that we have been missing. “The Day Is Coming” is heartfelt with punchy piano, a bouncy beat, swirling strings and soulful background vocals. “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” stands out as a showcase of the band’s beautiful and breezy balladry. “Outta My System” blends Beach Boys-like harmonies with surf-y pedal steel melodies into a lush but jaunty jam. The excellent single “Holdin’ On To Black Metal” has more in common with 70’s psychedelia and funk than it does with its Swedish namesake. “First Light” is a rafters-reaching rock song with skronky horns and unhinged guitars. The bouncy, piano-led “You Wanna Freak Out” features Beatles-esque melodies and a fuzzed-out guitar solo that creates a welcomed dissonance. To close out the album, “Slow Slow Tune”, a 50’s style ballad lives up to its name with ringing guitars and closer “Movin’ Away” allows Jim James space to show off his crooning, vocal chops.

Circuital provides a nice middle ground between their earlier matierial and their more recent experimental indulgences for an excellent album, again showing why they are one of the most inventive and rewarding bands around.

For more info click here:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Seapony - "Blue Star" (The Seattle three-piece or 4-piece, if you count the tiny drum machine used instead of an actual drummer keeps things simple on their debut album Go With Me out now on Hardly Art. Singer Jen Weidl's pretty and melodic voice rises above the fuzzy yet twee guitar lines and steady beat on the album's standout second single.)


2. John LaMonica - "Heartling" (Glitchy, cut-up folktronica with an understated beauty from the producer/songwriter's new album Volunteers out now on Moongadget Records.)


3. Duquette Johnston - "Roll Baby Roll" (Duquette, formerly of the 90's alt-rockers Verbena, blazes a new path with upbeat roots rock steeped in dusty folk for a limited edition 7" released on Communicating Vessels, the label ran by musician/producer Jeffery Cain of Remy Zero.) and