Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, and Yim Yames - "Old L.A." (Out now on Rounder Records, New Multitudes is a new album of Woody Guthrie lyrics old-fashioned into 12 Americana-loving folk rock songs by some of the genre's best: Jay from Son Volt, Will of Centro-matic, Anders of Varnaline and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.)


2.  School Of Seven Bells - "The Night" (Now a duo, guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis and vocalist Alejandra Deheza released their third album Ghostory this week on Vagrant/Ghostly International.  Haunting, 80's inspired electro dream-pop with gigantic beats and Deheza's breathy vocals, set the tone for a lyrical ghost story concept on their best album yet.)


3.  Memoryhouse - "The Kids Were Wrong" (Canadian duo of composer Evan Abeele and singer/photographer Denise Nouvion released their full-length debut The Slideshow Effect this week on Sub Pop.  With a more direct and pop-leaning approach, their confidence and songwriting now shine through the hazy layers of reverb.)


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Daniel Levi Goans - "BrotherStranger"

North Carolina-based indie-folk troubadour Daniel Levi Goans, formerly of Nashville-based folk rock band The War, self-released his beautiful sophomore solo album BrotherStranger last September.  Recorded, mixed and produced by Goans himself, "Bon Iver-style" in an old library on the Chesapeake Bay, the lush music captures the beauty around it.  He even used his surroundings to help create his music with creaking floorboards, old tables and book-bindings being put to good use.  Lyrically, Daniel uses an evocative folk narrative to comment on affairs of the heart, nature and life with a strong Christian message.   

The sprawling "Albatross" opens the album with ethereal cello and a softly chugging rhythm and introduces us to Daniel's gentle yet assertive voice on the seven-minute track.  The ambient almost-instrumental "Arcana Echoes" follows with the wispy, wind-swept soundtrack to a breezy day on the Bay.  The soulful stand out track "Gates Of Heaven" is a gospel-inflected hymm with softly picked acoustic guitars, big open piano notes and an angelic choir of uplifting voices.  The title track, "Brother Stranger" is a twangy, waltzing duet with guest vocalist Lauren Plank that builds into a rag-tag jam before fading out with their Heavens-reaching harmonies.  The steady strumming, harmonica, and lively melodies lead to a stomp-and-clap back porch jam on "Guess I'd Better Take Off My Shoes".  Another standout track, "Enemies" breezes by in seven minutes with insistent strumming, heartfelt vocals and a touching story of love and redemption.  "Blue To Black" features churning fingerstyle guitars and breathy vocals.  The piano-led balladry of "My Mind Became My Home" stands out with its soaring, room-filling vocal melodies and close-knit harmonies.  "Do You?" adds a little bit of bounce to the mix with springy acoustic guitars and more gorgeous female backing vocals.  That spirit follows on "Silver Tongue" with its handclaps, jangly percussion and choir-like sing-along chorus.  The reverent "57" features cyclical, finger-picked guitars and pleading lyrics straight from Psalm 57 set to glorious male/female vocals.  The twelve-track album closes with the epic almost fourteen-minute long "Family Name" and it's cascading piano, yearning electric guitar and a tale of love like only Daniel can tell.

With his stunning sophomore album, BrotherStranger, Daniel Levi Goans shows that he is a voice to be heard in the folk scene.  I only wish I had heard this album when it was released last year because it would have made it onto my Top 10 list without a doubt.

Download "Do You?" here:   

Stream/buy BrotherStranger here:

For more info:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  James Vincent McMorrow - "We Don't Eat" (The hushed folk troubadour returns with a new 5-song EP with the glimmering, Bon Iver-like title track as well as a stunning cover of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" and the Youtube sensation live cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game".)


You can also get his debut album Early In The Morning and many other great Vagrant albums on sale in the iTunes store for only $7.99 here:

2.  Jonquil - "Mexico" (The Oxford, UK-based quartet has released their debut album Point Of Go this week on Dovecote Records.  Modern yet timeless, their colorful indie afro-pop has a feel good quality.  A perfect break in the clouds on a dreary winter day.)   


3.  Dot Hacker - "Order Disorder" (New project featuring new Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, whose experimental debut self-titled EP is out now on ORG Music.  The 4-song EP is full of textural guitar-heavy psych-rock and sets the tone for their debut album set to be released later this year.)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cursive - "I Am Gemini"

Cursive returns with their new album I Am Gemini , their seventh, out now on Saddle Creek. The ambitious new album is the first Tim Kasher has written lyrics for that follow a storyline from the first song to the last, like a play. Musically, it is their heaviest and most aggressive in years, thanks in part to producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis) who also contributes keyboards to a half dozen of the tracks.

“This House Is Alive” opens the album with an introduction to the two main characters of Kasher’s story, Cassius and Pollock, brothers separated at birth, one good and one evil. “Warmer, Warmer” follows with charging, dissonant guitars and Tim’s distinct talk/sung phrasing. The first single, “The Sun And Moon” stands out with a super-catchy power-pop chorus and a bouncy, persistent rhythm. “Drunken Birds” is one of the heavier songs on the album with sinister guitars and a cagey beat. “Lullaby For No Name” is a short disorienting instrumental interlude. The surging “Double Dead” stands out with a heavy breakdown and a sinister spoken word passage and flows into organ-led “Gemini” with its stop and start rhythm. Angular and snaking guitars and an inventive prog-rock arrangement highlight the schizophrenic “Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton”. The searing second single released, “Wowowow” features tumbling, tom-heavy drums and a choir of female background vocals, who play the angels in the story. “This House Is A Lie” is the second gorgeous instrumental interlude that along with the lyrical concept, give the album a movie soundtrack vibe. Another standout, “The Cat And Mouse” is twitchy, unnerving and explosive, like a climax to the storyline. “A Birthday Bash” features more female vocals and a clever arrangement with shape-shifting guitar riffs. And finally, “Eulogy For No Name” brings the album to a mournful and careening close.

After releasing the orchestral indie rock of Kasher’s solo album The Game Of Monogamy, it is refreshing to hear a re-energized Cursive return to their heavy post-punk roots on I Am Gemini.

Download "The Sun And Moon" here:

For more info: and

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free Friday: NO - "Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever" EP

Los Angeles-based indie rock band NO released their debut EP Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever last fall as a free download on their Bandcamp page.  But this week they celebrate the limited edition release of the six-track EP on vinyl through Origami Vinyl.   

NO creates anthemic, atmospheric and sweeping romantic balladry with baritone vocals similar to The National but with a Californian cool.  The single, "Another Life" stands out with its churning guitars, cascading drums and catchy, sing-along chorus.  "Coming Down" also stands out with a pulsing electronic beat, rich vocal harmonies and a simple synth line that will stick in your head for days.

Download Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever here:

Order a vinyl copy of the EP here:

For more info:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dr. Dog - "Be The Void"

Dr. Dog have recently released Be The Void, their seventh album and second for Anti- Records.  Their last album 2010's Shame, Shame which found them recording with a producer (Rob Schnapf) for the first time, who brought out their poppier side and tightened the reigns on their homespun, ragged rock and roll, found them great acclaim from both critics and fans alike.  This time around, they took what they learned back to their own studio and once again have created another album with their unmistakable retro vibe and close-knit harmonies but with added electronics and 70's rock muscle in the form of raw guitars, focusing on their live energy.

"Lonesome" opens the album with a genuine love-letter to the Delta blues with a ragged acoustic guitars and a rollicking and rickety drum beat along with one catchy call and response chorus.  "That Old Black Hole" follows with clever lyrics, a bouncy rhythm and some well placed electronic blips and bleeps on the standout single.  Two of the other standout tracks also are the more experimental tracks the band has put to tape in "Vampire" with its growling vocals and a serrated guitar riff and the immediate infectiousness and psychedelic synths and harmonies of the jamming "Warrior Man". 

After seven albums, Be The Void shows the band's experience and confidence in their craft to consistently create another album that is distinctly Dr. Dog but that continues to expand their sound in new and exciting ways.

For more info:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Isidore - "Song Of The City" (The haunting and dream-like music for this project was created by Jeffrey Cain of Atlas and the Anchor favorites Remy Zero and boosted by the rich baritone voice of Steve Kilbey of 80's psych-pop champions The Church.  Their inspiring sophomore album Life Somewhere Else was released this week on Cain's own Communicating Vessels label after an eight-year drought since their debut.)      


2.  Heartless Bastards - "Parted Ways" (The Austin by way of Ohio-based rock band fronted by singer-songwriter/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom released their new album Arrow this week on their new label Partisan Records.  Produced by Jim Eno of Spoon, the album is their most varied with Erika's soulful delivery and their blend of country, blues and gritty garage rock, yet is stripped down with all of their live energy intact.  Fittingly, you can also catch the road-warriors on tour from now until May!) 


3.  Callers and Delicate Steve - "Further Out" (The barreling locomotive-like A-side from the Brooklyn art-poppers and the Luaka Bop artist's limited edition collaborative 7" out now on Western Vinyl, features Sara's distinct vocals meshed with Godwin's production to great results.) 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shearwater - "Animal Joy"

Shearwater return with their highly-anticipated new album Animal Joy, released today on their new label Sub Pop Records.  Following the thematic "Island Arc" trilogy of their past three albums, the trio, led by former Okkervil River member Johnathan Meiburg, drummer Thor Harris and bassist Kimberly Burke have created a looser yet more personal and heavier, new album that captures the primal exuberance of the album's title. 

"Animal Life" opens album with gentle acoustic guitars, slowly building steam into a cathartic release with Meiburg's soaring falsetto.  First single, "Breaking The Yearlings" features a propulsive, pounding beat, an elastic guitar line and a noisy passage made up of dissonant keyboards and feedback for a standout moment.  "Dread Sovereign" follows with an understated arrangement and ethereal background vocals, showcasing a more darker pop side.  The atmospheric second single, "You As You Were" features steady cascading piano and various fluttering synths and samples but really makes it's money with an anthemic and defiant chorus.  "Insolence" alternates shimmering guitars with long, sweeping open chords set to a rickety beat and an equally cloud-scraping chorus.  "Immaculate" is a short burts of fast-paced roots rock tethered only by Johnathan's crooning vocal melodies.  "Open Your Houses" is reminiscent of the dark, 80's-like pop of The The and "Run The Banner Down" churns slowly with a soft tom-heavy beat, glimmering guitars.  "Pushing The River" stands out with a busy beat and a dense arrangement of ringing guitars, synths and waves of haunting vocals.  The 11-track album closes with slights nods to prog-rock with the tick-tocking piano-led "Believing Makes It Easy" and the spaced-out squelching synth outbursts of "Star Of The Age".  

Animal Joy finds the band on a new level, adding new twists and more muscle to their already supremely melodic and unclassifiable indie rock sound for their best album yet.         

Download "You As You Were" here:

For more info: and

Friday, February 10, 2012

Free Friday: Harriet - "Tell The Right Story" EP

Harriet is the new project from Alex Casnoff, formerly of Dawes.  Tell The Right Story is their debut EP and they are offering it up as a free download at their website.  Mixing the organic and electronic, Harriet falls in line somewhere between the sun-soaked roots rock of Dawes and something a little more muscular with synths, samples and beats.  Alex's whiskey-bent vocals are raw yet warm, molding to each song perfectly. 

The five-song EP opens with the standout first single, "I Slept With All Your Mothers" with a warped synth line shifting underneath a dusty, Californian folk rock song.  Another standout, "Soldier" features a room-filling vintage organ and some Beatles-esque melodies.

Download the Tell The Right Story EP here:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  of Montreal - "Wintered Debts" (The sprawling first single trades in the loping country-pop of their Elephant 6 beginnings and is mixed with an ambient, psychedelic passage. It is taken from the lyrically, more personal and musically, less glammy new album Paralytic Stalks out now on Polyvinyl.)


2.  Sharon Van Etten - "Sepents" (First single taken from the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter's third album, Tramp is out now on Jagjaguwar.  The new album shows her growth and confidence and features guests like Zach Condon of Beirut and Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak but it is Sharon's sultry voice and stellar songwriting that takes the spotlight.)


3.  Big Deal - "Chair" (American Kacey Underwood and Brit Alice Costelloe released their debut Lights Out on Mute at the end of January.  The duo create a minimalist yet big sound filled with heartbreak, swirling and fuzzy 90's guitars and charming male/female vocals but no drums or percussion.)


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Band Of Skulls - "Sweet Sour"

Band Of Skulls return with Sweet Sour, their sophomore album and first for Vagrant Records today on iTunes and everywhere else next week.  The Southhampton trio create an exciting blend of 70's-style psychdelics and stomping stoner rock riffs with pop-leaning choruses and some blues rock boogie for a larger than life arena-rock sound.

The album opens with the churning title track and first single, "Sweet Sour" with its murky bottom end, fluttering guitar fills and tight vocal harmonies.  The aptly titled "Bruises" follows with a heavy stomping riff, a quiet/loud dynamic and the dual male/female vocals of bassist Emma Richardson and guitarist Russell Marsden.  "Wanderluster" features a buzzing guitar and a creative time signature that deviates from the straight-forward rock beats.  Standout track "The Devil Takes Care Of His Own" is highlighted by a crunchy, fuzzed-out blues rock riff that would make Jack White blush.  "Lay My Head Down" slows down the pace with acoustic guitars and blacklight-drenched harmonies for a bit of classic rock balladry complete with a melodic bluesy guitar solo.  Russell takes the lead on vocals for "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On"; an arena-ready slice of blues rock swagger.  "Navigate" and "Hometowns" are two more ballads with swirling melodies and cyclical acoustic guitars with the focus on the duo's vocal prowess.  "Lies" is a two and half minute burst of heavy psych-rock that leads into album closer, "Close To Nowhere" which is the perfect heart-tugging emotional comedown from the powerful songs that came before. 

Download the title track "Sweet Sour" here:

Friday, February 03, 2012

Free Friday: Carsie Blanton - "Idiot Heart"

Philly-based folk-pop singer/songwriter Carsie Blanton just released her new album Idiot Heart this week on her Bandcamp page using the "pay what you want" pricing model.  The album produced by Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers is filled to the brim with Carsie's coy and confident vocals and blended with her New Orleans jazz-inflected classic pop stylings, it is worth every penny that you chose to pay. 

The stand out title track, "Idiot Heart" is a vintage organ-drenched country-leaning send-up.  And the dark and sultry, "Little Death" features a contrastingly bright, swinging melody and a male vocal counterpart for another standout moment.   

Fans of Regina Spector and Norah Jones rejoice!

Download the album Idiot Heart here:

Download the track "Backseat" here:

For more info:

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Hospitality - "Betty Wang" (The New York-based band released their highly anticipated self-titled debut on Merge this week.  Led by singer Amber Papini and her sometimes coy, always unique voice that has a hint of fake British accent, the band plays an off-kilter brand of retro-laced pop.  "Betty Wang", the super-catchy first single, was written about Amber's old law firm co-worker.)


2.  Martin Sexton - "Fall Like Rain" (Soulful singer/songwriter returns with a politically charged new EP Fall Like Rain, out now on his own Kitchen Table Records.  The 5-song EP also features a cover of Buffalo Springfield's famous "For What It's Worth" make new with Martin's malleable voice.)


3.  Rodrigo y Gabriela - "Juan Loco" (The guitar maestros return with a full Cuban Orchestra in tow to remake 9 old songs with the full band treatment on their new album Area 52 out now on ATO Records.  White Zombie drummer John Tempesta also provides the thundering backbone to 2 tracks and their complex blend of Latin, jazz and metal is taken to new and exciting heights.  They will also tour this spring for the first time with a full band.)