Articles posted in February 2010

Always the ones that you least expect

OMG they're getting divorced!
This morning I wrote an Exclaim! news piece about Tracey Thorn‘s upcoming album, Love and Its Opposite. In writing the story, I became rather taken with the disc’s lead single, “Oh, the Divorces!” A heartbreaking, percussion-less ballad, it pairs stark piano chords with baroque string fluorishes as Thorn complains about the ubiquity of modern divorce.

As a child of divorce myself, this song hits pretty close to home. I feel like I’m eleven again! Daddy, don’t leave!

MP3: “Oh, the Divorces!”
 
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With your heart in your pen

So, you band is called Sand the Whole?
Said the Whale‘s first ever release was a mostly-acoustic EP, Let’s Have Sound, which was home recorded by songwriters Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester. The band returned to its roots for the iTunes-only EP Bear Bones, which was recorded in Worcester’s bedroom, and features stripped-down instrumentation and bite-sized track lengths (“Pretty City” clocks in at under a minute).

“A Song for Me” is a gorgeous love song, Worcester’s guitar and voice by subtle keyboard tinkling and falsetto harmonies. Like much of the band’s recent (and awesome) Islands Disappear, the tune appears to have been written on tour, as Worcester refers to the prairies, mountains and Great Lakes while pining for a lover back home.

I recently spoke with Tyler Bancroft about the EP for the Georgia Straight.

MP3: “A Song for Me”
 
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I must have done something wrong

Not running anywhere, apparently
Dear Vivian Girls,

You ladies have lots of great songs, but could you please play “Where Do You Run To” live? I know that the song was written by Frankie Rose, who isn’t in the band anymore, but I doubt that most audience members would even notice. And that song is such a fucking jam! Surf guitar licks, shoegaze fuzz and girl group hooks make me happy.

Sincerely,

Alex

PS: Read my review of Vivian Girls’ recent “Where Do You Run To”-less show at the Biltmore over at Exclaim!.

PPS: Click below to download “He’s Gone,” the group’s lovely new Chantels cover. It’s mostly a cappella, and appears as the B-side to the band’s new “My Love Will Follow Me” single, due out this month via Wild World.

MP3: “He’s Gone”
 
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I can’t stop the blushing

What do you mean you hate my embroidery?
February 13 is a bad day for a breakup. Not really worse than any other day of the year, I suppose, but I’m using it as an excuse to substantiate my hatred of Valentine’s Day.

Then again, maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t all bad. It recently inspired Vancouver singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas to record a love song, “The Right Time,” which she has now released as a free download just in time for the big day. It’s a sugary piano ditty, featuring Tyler Bancroft of Said the Whale on vocal harmonies, and its charmingly romantic lyrics make it perfect for your Valentine’s Day playlist.

Amor eterno, you guys.

MP3: “The Right Time”
 
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When I’m with you I have fun

Doing her best Brian Wilson impression
Those who saw Best Coast last night at the Biltmore already know that Bethany Cosentino & co. neglected to bring any merch with them across the border. If, like me, you were jonesing to get your hands on some of her recent singles, you’ll have to satisfy yourself with this mp3 download of “When I’m with You.”

Beginning as a bleary guitar-and-voice ballad, it suddenly explodes at the 45 second mark, speeding up dramatically as drums enter to propel it to a fuzzy, sun-scorched crescendo. “Shitgaze power ballad” might sound like a contradiction in terms, but that’s kind of what this is.

The song was previously released on 7″ via Black Iris. Hopefully you’ll have better luck than me in picking up a physical copy.

MP3: “When I’m with You”
 
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Here’s your punk rock back

Crashing and burning?
Japandroids are currently faced with the unenviable task of attempting to follow up the massive success of last year’s Post-Nothing, which earned rave reviews and propelled the group to a massive tour on both sides of the Atlantic. Actually, come to think of it, that’s extremely enviable.

Rather than launch right into their second LP, Japandroids are opting to release a series of 7″ singles. After all, it can’t be a sophomore slump unless you release another album, right?

“Art Czars” doesn’t get things off to the best start. It aims for a more in-your-face sound than the fuzzed-out Post-Nothing, with pummeling drums and a lyrical dismissal of “Here’s your money back / Here’s your punk rock back.” It sounds a bit like a self-referential attack on on the band’s newfound popularity. And even if it makes for kind of a catchy hook, it doesn’t really hold up after endless repetitions.

That said, the guitar tone is pretty badass. Make up your own mind below. If you dig, you can buy the single over at Polyvinyl.

MP3: “Art Czars”
 
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Waiting to creep for a long time

You fuckers busted my Thriller!
Neon Indian is pretty sweetass. You probably already knew that, since songwriter Alan Palomo first hit it big-ish with his chilled out electro jams last year.

Really, the only reason I’m posting this is that it gives me an excuse to link to my review of Indian WarsIf You Want Me 7″ in this week’s issue of the Georgia Straight. Neon Indian? Indian Wars? I give this segue a B-.

Seriously through, Neon Indian’s “Terminally Chill” is a dreamy, hazy and totally awesome DIY electro jam. If you’re still confused about the whole glo-fi/chillwave thing, this should clear it up.

MP3: “Terminally Chill”
 
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Later on, up on a ledge

Still not famous enough to quit their day jobs
Band name aside, there’s nothing particularly creepy about the Kansas pop rock outfit Ghosty. With sugary melodies and bright guitars, this is a ghost of the Casper variety.

The new single “Secret Language” is a jangly summer jam, its chorus supported by sunny Beach Boys-style harmonies. The lyrics aren’t nearly so chipper as the tune would suggest, however, beginning as a nostalgic reflection on childhood before flashing ahead to contemplations of suicide.

Okay, so maybe the band is kind of scary after all.

MP3: “Secret Language”
 
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Things we’re all too young to know

Cheer up guys, I like your music!
It’s February, so you’re probably in the market for sweet songs to put on Valentine’s Day mixtapes. Or better yet, to put on apology mixtapes after you fuck up on Valentine’s Day, with all of its stupid expectations and tacky traditions. Damn Valentine’s Day!

There’s no better mixtape band than the Magnetic Fields, whose catchy tunes offer just the right balance of wit and sincerity. It also helps that songwriter Stephin Merrit’s specialty is love songs, as he put 69 excellent ones on 1999′s aptly-titled 69 Love Songs.

Lately I’ve been listening to the track “I Don’t Want to Get Over You” on repeat. Of course, that’s a breakup song, so here’s the more seasonally appropriate “The Book of Love.” It’s a gorgeous song that’s ideal for late-night serenades and overly-earnest YouTube clips.

On April 20, Merge will reissue 69 Love Songs on vinyl. Pre-order it now and you will receive a printable e-Valentine card. Y’know, in case you’re really sorry. A new documentary called Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields will premier at SXSW.

MP3: “The Book of Love”
 
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Smoking her last cigarette

$250,000 richer, but Hollerado still won't splurge for a photographer
Hollerado‘s Record in a Bag has been rocking my iPod for the past year, ever since the band released it as free download in January 2009. Now, the album will finally be able to rock my turntable as well, since the group will be releasing it in physical formats on January 9.

I’m guessing this release has something to do with the fact that the band recently won $250,000 in a battle of the bands contest (which I wrote a news story about for Exclaim!). The band’s rapidly-growing profile is boosted by its outrageous touring schedule, which has included a South American jaunt plus two trips to China. Of course It also helps that Record in a Bag is one of the best power pop albums I’ve ever heard.

Click below to download the new single “Juliette,” which is propelled by buoyant electric riffs and an unforgettable chorus that will be your stuck in your head for a week. Which is pretty much the same thing you could say about any track on Record in a Bag.

Click here to watch the video for “Juliette.” Head over to the Tyee to read the profile I wrote on Hollerado back in the summer.

MP3: “Juliette”
 
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