Articles posted in March 2011

Swallow those pills you’ve got

Everyone leans away from Moustauche Man
I first heard the Albertans because they used to practice in BeatRoute‘s office. It turns out that the magazine wasn’t the only good thing coming out of that room. As I previously wrote for Exclaim!, the band has a new album, New Age, which came out this month.

Listen to the haunting, keyboard-led single “The Wake” below. It’s got bleak lyrics, some pretty boy-girl harmonies, and extremely Modest Mouse-esque guitar breaks.

These guys and girls are currently based out of Vancouver, but apparently they will be leaving the city soon. They will be missed.

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You take the Hudson Line

Pretty sure this isn't the full lineup
The titular image of “Clutching Stems” by the Ladybug Transistor perfectly encapsulates everything that’s good about indie pop. It’s sweet and dorky with a faint undercurrent of sadness and an implication of melancholy. Also, my last name is in the lyrics (see the title of this post), and singer Gary Olson sounds a bit like Lou Reed when he sings it. Rad.

This is set to an upbeat groove that mixes atmospheric keyboards with folksy strumming, faux-Brill Building synth strings and gorgeous pop melodies.

Clutching Stems is also the name of Ladybug Transistor’s upcoming album. Go to Exclaim! for the scoop.

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You’re the only one for me

In a huff
On the about page of Digits‘ website, project mastermind Alt Altman writes, “I think file-sharing is awesome and nobody should feel bad about doing it.”

This Toronto songwriter puts his music where his mouth is, since this track is available as a stream as well as a free download. It’s a mellow synthpop tune called “Rachel Marie,” which sounds a bit like a chilled-out “Billie Jean.”

If you dig, Altman is offering up a bunch of tracks for free over at Soundcloud.

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Mountains swallow up the sun

Caitlin Livingston behind the lens
A few nights ago, Brave Irene threw a release party for the record that contains my most-played song on iTunes. Only two of the five band members were in town, but they played through the entire eight-song mini-album (which is out now via Slumberland).

Here’s another great tune from that collection. It’s called “Longest Day,” and it’s a two-minute blast of peppy rhythms, catchy organs and charming indie pop melodies.

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We’ll all get there someday

Orioles hats are way in
If I talk about how much I’m digging Panda Bear‘s Tomboy, I feel like I’m bragging, since the album hasn’t leaked yet. But seriously, it’s really good. I recently interviewed Mr. Bear for Color, so that will be published next month.

Here’s the new track “The Preakness.” This comes from a mixtape that Animal Collective made for the shoe company Keep. I don’t really need to describe why this one is a must-hear, do I?

I wrote about the Animal Collective-designed shoes for Exclaim! a while back.

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Such a heavenly way to die

Beach Goth: not just a Wavves song
Covering the Smiths‘ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” takes some guts. After all, it’s generally accepted as one of the Smiths’ finest moments, as well as one of the best indie pop songs of all time.

Dum Dum Girls manage to pull it offer because they put a new spin on the old favourite. Unlike the mid-tempo melodrama of the original, this cover bristles with distortion and goth-y, understated vocals. Bravo, Dee Dee.

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Sultry in the summer heat

I wanna hold your hand
When I made my post earlier today, it occurred to me that I never wrote about the recent Tennis single. It’s called “Take Me Somewhere,” and it begins as a peaceful waltz before busting into a bouncy pop rocker halfway through. Okay, so it’s not as gripping as some of the band’s work, but it’s another good cut off of Cape Dory, which is an altogether pleasant album.

I reviewed the band’s recent Vancouver show for the Georgia Straight.

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Tell me what’s wrong with my brain

Kool-Aid drinkers
Cults just dropped the first single from their upcoming debut LP. It’s a pretty, ’50s-infused waltz, but I can’t help but think that it sounds a lot more like Tennis than a genuine artifact of the Eisenhower era.

It’s atmospheric and cute, and it rocks out nicely at the 47-second mark, but it doesn’t quite live up to the brilliance of the band’s early singles.

Make your way to Exclaim! to read my preview of the band’s forthcoming album (and here for the tour announcement).

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You be me, I’ll be you

Badass Saturn
Tennessee is a long way from England, both culturally and geographically, but there’s no mistaking the British influence in And the Relatives‘ “Hammer Down.” It’s got brittle guitar strums, a fuzzy bassline and some distinctly English-sounding vocal inflections. There’s also an absolutely fantastic instrumental break, punctuated by a jagged guitar solo and some 8-bit-sounding keyboard leads. Nashville has never sounded quite so much like Manchester.

You can stream all of the band’s recent album, Green Machinery, over at Soundcloud. “Hammer Down” is below.

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You don’t know up from down

Meet the Bea...uh, Freedom or Death
I recently received a copy of Freedom or Death‘s debut EP, Ego, in the mail. It included a hand-written note from singer Sway, responding to one of my recent articles (this one, if you’re curious). Of the scores of albums I’ve been sent in the last couple years, I think this is the first one to ever include a note like that. This band knows how to stand out from the crowd.

Here’s a song from the EP, the smoldering “This Crowded Room.” It’s a slow-burning electro pop tune, with swirling synths joined by gorgeous R&B harmonies.

Go to Exclaim! to read my album announcement story about Ego.

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