Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Low Red Land

Photo Credit

Springing forth from the revitalized Bay Area indie music scene, San Francisco's Low Red Land continue to impress with their latest, Dog's Hymns. Throughout the album the band takes spare folk and country melodies and morphs and bends them in unexpected and beautiful directions, often building to dramatic, noise-drenched conclusions.

The songs ebb and flow between alt-country twang and yelping harmonies, ATDI neo-prog freak-outs, the earnest post-hardcore of Sunny Day Real Estate and the driving, over-driven guitars of a Neil Young and Crazy Horse garage work-out. Even more impressive, each song flows into the next, the album as a whole comprising a single, fully realized composition. Truly heady stuff for their second full-length release.

I'd recommend grabbing a good pair of headphones, picking a particularly forlorn and rainy night, and immersing yourself in Dog's Hymns for a little while - it's that kind of record.

Even better, mark your calendar for Low Red Land's show at the Red and Black on October 25th. I've heard the live shows are particularly intense and not to be missed.

10/25/08: The Red and The Black, Washington, DC

mp3: Dog's Hymns
mp3: Better Angels


Motel California

My last week was spent largely sitting in traffic jams in my hometown of Los Angeles, often desperately seeking something to listen to on the radio. Imagine my surprise when I tuned to the once legendary - but of late truly awful - KROQ and low and behold, heard some interesting indie-pop! Earlimart, Aushua, Kingsize and an artist I hadn't heard before, The Western States Motel.

Well, here I am back inside the beltway and what do I see in my inbox, but a missive from the Western States Motel, asking us to give a listen to "Oh World" and the rest of the the new Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun EP, out September 30th.

Carl Jordan, the man behind TWSM, has truly crafted a hidden gem of an EP, building upon a foundation of softly sung observational lyrics a la Elliot Smith and Iron and Wine ("Powerlines"), the more art rock leanings of the Shins ("Oh World"), and the hazy stoner rock of the California high desert ("New E Blues"). Also for a bit of odd trivia, it turns out "New E Blues" was featured in a slightly different form on one of the final episodes of The OC. Unfortunately, no one was watching that train wreck by then, otherwise I'm certain TWSM would be huge already!

mp3: Oh World


Previously on Lost…

A few weeks ago, a little band going by the name Previously on Lost contacted IA about their music and I immediately gasped in blithesome intrigue. Perhaps this makes me bias, but as a massive fan of ABC’s Lost, listening to peppy, indie pop about island horrors and watery shenanigans is exactly how I want to spend the time I am not spending in front of my TV re-watching seasons 1-3 of the series. So, here’s my hearty fist pump and joyful “God bless you!” to the band members for taking on a sub-genre project like this.

Much like the wildly popular Wizard Rock genre, based on the Harry Potter books series, Previously on Lost (dubbing themselves a “TV recap rock band") has taken happenings from season four of the show and immortalized each one in song. From hilarious to catchy, you don’t really even have to be a fan of the show to appreciate the craftsmanship used in the writing and recording. Even so, if you too find yourself waking up in a cold sweat having recently dreamed of kidnapped babies, massive back funnel clouds, female convicts or the physical moving of islands, this is most definitely the band for you.

Oh, it just so happens that they are finally making their way to DC and it's a free show. See you there!

11/10/08: Millenium Stage @ Kennedy Center, Washington, DC *Free*

mp3: Just Wink


Monday, September 29, 2008

This Week's Mix

Chris got a little tied up with school and asked me to fill in and put together the weekly mix for him. Enjoy!

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - A Children's Crusade On Acid
Fredrik - Black Fur
State Bird - I Don't Love U Anymore
Elsiane - Mend (To Fix, To Repair)
A Brief Smile - Bigger Lies (via RCRD LBL)
Awesome New Republic - 2k3012
Arsenal - Estupendo
Team Genius - Take Me Home
Tigersapien - Youth & Vitality
Marvelous Toy - Waiting For The Fire

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Friday, September 26, 2008

The Area Weekend

Black Kids (photo from band's myspace)

The weekend is finally here and it is loaded with shows to see.

Rachael Yamagata is set to release a new two part album A Record in Two Parts: Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Hear. After playing a few shows in the area recently, she is at the World Cafe Friday for XPN's Free at Noon.

Weezer is back on tour for the Red Album. Opening is Canadians Tokyo Police Club. Friday they are at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Maybe after the show you can catch them on the gaming floor. Saturday, they make the short trip to Camden and the Susquehanna Bank Center.

mp3: Tokyo Police Club - In a Cave

Three cities, three shows, Black Kids don't stop. Joined by The Virgins and Magic Wands, they are playing Black Cat Friday, Ottbar Saturday, then First Unitarian Church Monday.

mp3: Black Kids - Hurricane Jane
mp3: The Virgins - Private Affiars (Daytrotter)

Local folk-jam band Hoots and Hellmouth head west to the Capitol Theater in York for a Friday night show, then head back home to Philly for a Saturday show at Johnny Brenda's with troubador Jim Bianco.

mp3: Hoots and Hellmouth - It's Close, I'm Undone


Geek rock is alive and well and the high priests They Might Be Giants are still going strong. I believe they have some of the most entertaining shows around. Catch them at The Chameleon Club in Lancaster.

Lancaster's Kheris heads across the river with The Thrives for a show at the Harp & Fiddle in downtown York.

Danger Danger Gallery has an interesting line-up featuring Virginians Hot Lava joined by Philly locals Gang, Reading Rainbow and Hermit Thrushes.

The district's own Five Four is playing a hometown show at DC9.

mp3: Hot Lava - Blue Dragon
mp3: Five Four - Crazy


Dressy Bessy just released a new album, Holler and Stomp and is out on tour. Opening for them is Squaaks at the Talking Head in Baltimore. Hot Lava joins the line-up for a Tuesday show at the Black Cat.

Robert Pollard's Boston Spaceships and The High Strung join forces for a show at the Black Cat. Philly fans, you can catch them Monday at Johnny Brenda's.

Chicago-based The Interiors is in the midst of an East Coast swing. They make a stop at The Red & The Black. The North Star in Philly has the honors on Wednesday.

mp3: Dressy Bessy - Just Once More (Daytrotter)
mp3: Squaaks - Fire
mp3: The High Strung - Beautiful Summer (Daytrotter)


Indie hip-hop is a breath of fresh air into a genre that has become way too corporate. Sunday, The Fire in Philly is guaranteed to be raucous when Mr. Lif takes the stage.

Kerr Park in Downingtown is hosting Karmafest. What is karmafest? Don't ask me, check out the website for more answers. Anyway, Philly's musical siblings Sisters 3 and the always playing Cheers Elephant just so happen to be performing.

Later that evening, Cheers Elephant makes another appearance, this time in Fishtown at the Manhattan Room. Creeping Weeds and Butane Variations add to the fun.

Down in Baltmore, The Dodos are playing Sonar with Au and local darlings Wye Oak.

Prabir & The Substitutes are in Arlington at Galaxy Hut.

mp3: Sisters 3 - Bermuda Triangle
mp3: Cheers Elephant - Wide Eyed
mp3: Creeping Weeds - Long Way Down
mp3: Butane Variation - Jackie
mp3: The Dodos - Fools
mp3: Au - Are Animals
mp3: Wye Oak - Warning
mp3: Prabir & The Substitutes - Slow

And be sure to check out the other posts about those playing this weekend

Theresa Andersson
Throw Me the Statue
Multiple Shows

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My Potential New Hot Crush

We Landed on the Moon! recorded their self-titled debut album in 2006 after Jay Chandreskhar (Super Troopers, Beefest), asked them for a song for the soundtrack of the Dukes of Hazard remake. After that, and although they’re said to have enclosed astronaut ice cream in each media package (note: still waiting for ours), the band, which blindly sent out their record to radio stations around the country, made a few non-solicited waves. They’re about to release their newest LP, These Little Wars; an album composed of so much catchy indie electronic-ish pop that I’m already beginning to count the number of times that I’ll be putting it on repeat. Perfecting the art of musical layering, We Landed on the Moon! comes off as the smoother, classier sister of indie sweethearts Black Kids.

mp3: Re: Your Letter


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday and a Little Beyond

It is definitely Autumn. The weather is getting a bit cooler, kids are back in school and bands are out on their fall tours.

It's the last hurrah down the beach. The Dewey Beach Music Conference starts tonight and runs through Saturday. With over 100 bands from all over the country at 7 different venues, it is sure to have something for everyone. The best part is all nighttime shows are absolutely free! Local acts playing that we have covered are Philly favs The Swimmers and Hershey's The April Skies. And it's not just a local showcase either. Milwaukee's Fever Marlene and Brooklyn's In Flight Radio are just a few non-regional acts making their way to southern Delaware.

mp3: The Swimmers - St. Cecilia
mp3: The April Skies - Here Comes the Rush
mp3: Fever Marlene - Lemon King Mahoney
mp3: In Flight Radio - Red Flags

Big shows tonight and tomorrow as Cut Copy comes through the area with countrymen The Presets. Also on the bill is synth-pop duo Heartbreak. You can catch them at The Troc in Philly tonight, but it is a little late if you don't have tickets to the Friday show at 9:30 Club as it is sold out.

mp3: Cut Copy - Lights and Music

Another set of indie darlings are doing the city swap. SubPop artist Oxford Collapse is taking the stage tonight at Black Cat with Takka Takka. Then they head up to Philly for a show Friday at the Manhattan Room.

mp3: Oxford Collapse - Please Visit Your National Parks
mp3: Takka Takka - Everybody Say

Salt Lake City's Alt-country group Band of Annuals is joined by Hymns for two shows in the area. Starting Thursday at DC9, they end up at The Fire Saturday.

mp3: Hymns - Stop Talking

For a more local flavor, The Talking Head is featuring Rahim supporting new album Laughter with the Snowmen and Deleted Scenes. Over at IOTA, Bellflur is on stage with Pree.

mp3: Rahim - Through a Window
mp3: Deleted Scenes - Trying to Remember
mp3: Bellflur - First to the Moon

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Austin City Limits 2008

The middle of September in central Texas. Football is the main focus on most peoples minds. It is usually still damn hot, but it is also time for one of the best musical festivals in the nation, the Austin City Limits Festival. In its seventh year, it shows no signs of slowing down, getting the greatest acts from around the world and showcasing the best of new and local music. Some of those on this years line-up are: Beck, Iron & Wine, G. Love, Band of Horse, Silversun Pickups, Black Keys, Okkervil River, Vampire Weekend, Philly's Man Man and so many more I cannot even list them. One thing that is difficult is knowing what, where and when things are going on. Some one stepped up and created an electronic scheduler. Click the bands you want to see and you can print out a personalized schedule. From past experience, the pamphlets they hand out with the line-up get very worn by the end of the first day or so or lost or water-logged, so they are almost useless after the first few hours. For those of you going, enjoy. Drink plenty of water, enjoy the local food and flavor, and rock out like no tomorrow.


Boobs to the Tubes Swagger

Photo By Mark Maryanovich

In theory, the idea of a female Black Keys strikes me as simply brilliant. Fortunately, it works for me in practice too, as The Pack A.D. knock it out of the park on their latest, Funeral Mixtape. The duo, comprised of Becky Black and Maya Miller, play the type of skuzzy, garage-based blues/rock that personally gets me going. While comparisons to the White Stripes are inevitable, the sound is much closer to the aforementioned Keys, complete with spastic guitar and "woman possessed" drumming.

The CD opens with the almost-but-not-quite rockabilly goodness of "Blackout" before churning into the '80s Clapton-esque "Don't Have to Like You." "Making Gestures" slows the tempo slightly, but with no loss to swagger whatsoever. Things arguably hit their crescendo with "Build", but there's never any lack of balls-to-the-wall (boobs-to-the-tubes?) goodness here.

mp3: Making Gestures


Theresa Andersson

Photo By Miranda Penn Turin

It’s a little unfair, because Theresa Andersson is half Swedish, which means there’s virtually no way that I won’t like her. But, I only noticed this fact after I listened to her music for a few minutes and already decided I liked the sweet indie pop coming out of my speakers, so bias averted. The New Orleans performer grew up on a wool spinnery in Sweden. She recorded all of her album, Hummingbird, Go! in her kitchen and regularly recreates it for a live audience. My tiny indie soul is in multi-instrumental heaven. Check out an mp3 and tons of regional dates below.

09/25/08: The 8x10, Baltimore, MD
09/26/08: World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
09/30/08: DC9, Washington, DC
10/23/08: Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
10/24/08: IOTA, Arlington, VA

mp3: Birds Fly Away


Corey Chisel

Photo By Adriel Harris

Soulful folkist, Corey Chisel, along with his band The Wandering Sons, recently released Cabin Ghosts EP. Alongside the lines of Goodtimes, Goodtimes, the Pernice Brothers and The New Frontiers, Corey Chisel put together a ruddy form of romantic Americana and unwashed melodies. Check out a free download, below.

mp3: Home In The Woods


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Northern Invasion

Photo By Brianna Hughes

Last fall, I booked an indie showcase in Pennsylvania. A couple of the NYC bands that played will be coming through the area over the next couple of days and I wanted to quickly mention both of them.

Wakey!Wakey! is Mike Grubbs and a supporting cast. Their music is best described as piano pop. Mike's heartfelt ballads and intelligent lyrics are sure to draw just about anybody in. Check out a couple of mp3s below and feel free to grab free downloads of his covers EP and a live show.

9/24/08: Black Cat, Washington, DC

If you like your indie rock with a good bit of energy, a dash of pop and plenty of keys, you may want to check out Bridges and Powerlines. They will be heading south for a few dates, put on a great show and they are always looking to say hello.

9/24/08: The Fire, Philadelphia, PA
9/25/08: Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC

mp3: Wakey!Wakey! - Falling Apart (Live)
mp3: Wakey!Wakey! - Say It Ain't So (Weezer Cover)
mp3: Bridges and Powerlines - Floods and Fields

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Italian Mojo

Photo By Antonio Campanella

Based in Venice, Italy, the band known as The Mojomatics released the Devil Got My Woman EP on Shake Your Ass Records in 2003 and immediately started touring wholeheartedly through Italy and the rest of Europe, mostly as openers. The German label Alien Snatch agreed to release the duo’s debut album A Sweet Mama Gonna Hoodoo Me in 2004. (Note: I’m mostly giving this history so I can mention the great album names.) Songs For Faraway Lovers, the second Mojomatics full-length album, was released in 2006 and they again embarked on an European tour, opening for such bands as Black Lips and Arctic Monkeys. The band's newest record Don't Pretend That You Know Me mashes together blues, alt-country, folk, and a little bit of bluegrass, infusing small amounts of British Invasion pop. Check out the thoroughly Euro-fied video for their first single "Wait A While" and enjoy a couple of mp3s.

mp3: Wait A While
mp3: Miss Me When I'm Gone


Throw Me The Statue

Photo By Tae Rhee

Seattle's Throw Me The Statue have been having a huge year. This week, they take the time to stop in the mid-Atlantic and they have all sorts of great bands along for the ride. In DC, they'll be joined by The Broken West. In Philly, locals Drink Up Buttercup and The National Eye share the stage. Finally, Cotton Jones will provide support in Baltimore.

9/24/08: Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
9/25/08: Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA
9/26/08: Talking Head, Baltimore, MD

mp3: Throw Me The Statue - Lolita
mp3: The Broken West - Auctioneer
mp3: Cotton Jones - Midnight Monday and a Telescope


Amy Kuney

Photo By Sascha Knopf

As a teenager, the Los Angeles-based singer songwriter Amy Kuney, was uprooted from her typical, Midwestern home and transplanted to Honduras by her missionary family. That alone is enough to grab my attention; then I saw a video of her performing with Damien Rice and I was all ears. Her You-Tube cover of his song “Blower’s Daughter” won her a spot on stage with him, in Iceland, (see the winning video below) and no doubt opened the door to many future opportunities.

mp3: Love Is Trippy


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brass Bed

Photo By Zach Gonsoulin

Louisiana’s Brass Bed just announced a few east coast tour dates (none near us, sigh) and released their debut album, Midnight Matinee. The slightly psychedelic bunch have some Flaming Lips and a little bit of The Kinks going on. They will be touring on their own this time, after already having won over parts of the south while touring with Colour Revolt and Oakley Hall. Anyone heading up to CMJ can catch them on Oct. 23.

mp3: BBC Midnight Broadcast


Rae Spoon

Photo by Thea Maklowski

Finally, we’ve received word of a songwriter to whom I can make no comparison. Rae Spoon announces the October 7th release of SuperiorYouAreInferior, out on Washboard Records. But, that's only a small part of the tale. Here’s the whole story (as interpreted from the press release): Rae Spoon was born on the Canadian plains in the '80s. In his early twenties, he hit the road as one of the world’s only transgender country singers and toured Canada, Europe, Australia and the USA. Already, he’s 120% more ambitious than anyone else we’ve ever covered, and we haven’t even gotten to the discussion of folk rock yet. Back to the story… When the apparent dangers and contradictions of this role caught up to him, he hid in a small town in Germany for a winter. There he was inspired to write an album about his darker experiences of Canada and it's highways.

SuperiorYouAreInferior is Rae’s fourth solo album, and his first in over two years. Lyrically, the album is his most revealing to date. Musically, his work moves from the whimsical, palpable art folk genre, to indie-rock, to electronic and experimental. Traveling in Europe, and I’m sure, being one to upset the normal way of things, he's started to swap his banjo for a computer and an electric guitar. I’ll work on the movie rights (lie) and you guys work on checking out of his work (truth).

mp3: Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down


Hands Clap Into The Light

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have been laying low for a few months, but they are back with a handful of dates and they all happen to fall in the mid-Atlantic. For this week's dates, they will be joined by Wild Light.

09/23/08: The 8x10, Baltimore, MD
09/24/08: DC9, Washington, DC
09/30/08: The Barbary, Philadelphia, PA
10/07/08: The 8x10, Baltimore, MD
10/14/08: DC9, Washington, DC

mp3: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood
mp3: Wild Light - New Year's Eve

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Darker My Love

Photo By Lawrence K. Ho

Yes, yes, it's me again - holding forth on the virtues of another psych-rock/shoegaze style outfit. This time I'm going to touch upon Darker My Love, who have been getting some recent airplay for their latest release, 2.

Upon first listen, I thought this disc was simply going to go down the dark alleys and bloody valentine strewn streets already traveled by BRMC, The Dandy Warhols, etc. However, upon a second or third listen, I became convinced that these guys were aiming for something a little different. Lyrically and musically mining the sun-filtered ennui (guess who picked up their thesaurus today?) of their Los Angeles home, DML seems to mix in local influences, ranging from The Beach Boys to Kyuss, even tossing in a little early '80s L.A. synth pop.

If you didn't catch them in DC with the Dandy Warhols this week, DML will be touring extensively throughout the fall, so you should have another chance to catch them in the mid-Atlantic region before long.

mp3: Two Ways Out


Listener Request: Lissie

So, clearly we're all over and around the folk pop/rock/indie scene. Or, at the very least, we're getting that reputation and because of it we received a tip on a new, hot songwriter going by the name Lissie. Straight out of Hollywood (via Colorado, via Illinois), the conspicuous darling has been at it for the past few years, traveling around the country with her guitar playing open mics, opening for traveling acts and visiting friends. Then she had her introduction to the indie world when she was featured on The OC and in the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?. After that, she toured with Lenny Kravitz. So the main-stream world is not so far away either.

mp3: On My Chest (Morgan Page Remix)


Monday, September 22, 2008

Eureka Birds

Baltimore’s Eureka Birds recently finished their debut, self-titled album. It is a beautifully arranged mix of piano and vocals, highlighted by emotive lyricism. Always a fan of simplistic and appealing indie rock, it's obvious to me that the band has learned to coordinate their rather large group quite nicely. I strongly recommend this for fans of Stars and Margot & The Nuclear So and So's.

10/28/08: The Ottobar, Baltimore, MD

mp3: Applewood Figure
mp3: The Still Life


School of Seven Bells

Photo By Guillermo Herren

When guitarist Ben Curtis left The Secret Machines last year, The Machines denied that sibling rivalry amongst the brothers Curtis had anything to do with his split. So you have to love the symmetry of Ben now hooking up with the Deheza sisters, Alejandra and Claudia, in School of Seven Bells. Their release, Alpinisms, certainly bears some of Curtis' trademark droning guitar parts, but is a much more electronic-based affair, with hypnotic beats over the airy, electronically processed vocals of the Dehezas, punctuated by icy synth lines.

Secret Machines fans might take a while to warm to the different sound, but in many ways, School of Seven Bells takes inspiration from some of the best of the Machines work, stripping away some of the bombast and adding new sonic layers that make for a more varied sound.

Give the first single "Connjur" a spin and judge for yourself. If you like it, they will be coming through the region this November.

11/13/08: Black Cat, Washington, DC
11/15/08: Starlight Ballroom, Philadelphia, PA

mp3: Connjur


All Over These United States

Photo By Shervin Lainez

On Tuesday, DC's These United States will officially release their second album of the year, Crimes. In honor of that, they have all sorts of goodies in store.

For starters, they sent over a video and mp3 for the lead single, "Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous)." You can also buy the disc right now for $5, here. If you aren't a member and use the promo code "instrumental," you'll even start with money in your account.

mp3: Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous)

If that doesn't fulfill your appetite, they have scheduled enough regional dates to make the most loyal fan satisfied.

10/02/08: Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA
10/03/08: Metro Gallery, Baltimore, MD
10/04/08: Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC (CD Release Show)
11/21/08: Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Finally, we have a download of their entire set from the first night of our Anniversary show last month. It is the best quality bootleg recording I have ever heard and includes a nice Dylan cover.

Live At IOTA 08.08.08 (download zip file)

01. Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous)
02. Kings and Aces
03. First Sight
04. Jenni Anne
05. We Go Down To That Corner
06. Pleasure and Pain and Pride and Me
07. Six Fast Bullets (Five Complaints)
08. Sun Is Below & Above
09. So High So Low So Wide So Long
10. If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got to Stay All Night) (Bob Dylan Cover)
11. When You're Traveling at the Speed of Light


Sounds Like Fun

Here’s the deal. About a year ago, I got an e-mail stating that one my very favorite bands, The Format, was cordially ending their short reign. I sighed several times and listened to both of their records, Interventions & Lullabies and Dog Problems back to back, ending, again, on a long and mellow-dramatic exhale. Time passed slowly. Then, a few weeks ago, another e-mail popped up in my inbox offering news that I could never have come up with, even if given time and drawing pencils: Nate Ruess (lead singer) was not finished with music, was forming another band and he wanted everyone to know it. I am full of joy and possibility as I introduce the band, Fun, comprised of Ruess, Jack Antonoff (of Steel Train), and Andrew Dost (formerly of Anathallo). Just having former members of The Format and Anathallo in one room, near instruments, would be good enough for me. But now? Need I really say what that will be? Even better, they will be coming our way in November.

11/18/08: TLA, Philadelphia, PA
11/20/08: 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

mp3: Benson Hedges (demo)

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Photo By Ari Magg

The crazy man from the Great North, also known as Mugison from Iceland, is about to invade the region this week. He's been all over the place lately, garnering praise from Paste and even us. Now, you can finally see what all the hype is about.

For the entire east coast portion of his tour, DC's own Bellman Barker is providing support. When they played our Anniversary show last month, they debuted a great new track called "Last Name." Over the weekend, they recorded a demo of it and sent it over. Check it out and see why they are one of the most exciting bands to come out of DC lately.

9/22/08: North Star, Philadelphia, PA
9/23/08: DC9, Washington, DC

mp3: Mugison - To The Bone
mp3: Bellman Barker - Last Name (Demo)

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I Wish They All Could Be Scandinavian Girls

Photo By Jonas Westin

There's no denying that there are a few writers here at IA that have a bit of a "thing" for Scandinavian artists. We all know who to blame for this, but that's a different conversation entirely. On a completely different note, it does introduce at least me to a lot of stuff I never would have pursued otherwise.

And thus, I bring to you Sofia Talvik, Sweden's latest export to our fine shores. The blue-eyed blonde (I suppose they grow them that way over there) is just released her third CD, Jonestown. And yes, that's as in, "don't drink the Kool-Aid" Jonestown, but who am I to judge? For most of this CD, Talvik sticks to soaring ballads and chamber pop melodies. The topics range from love lost to love found and, well, a lot about love, I guess. And this is all good and well. There are, however, two stand-out tracks here. "Summer Ended Yesterday" retains the ethereal feel of most of the album, but tacks on an intriguing Far Eastern feeling in the instrumentation. Far more freaky, however, is "Clown." That would be the really creepy sounding song with the ghostly calliope organ and, out of nowhere, a trombone. Assuming you're not the kind that's deathly afraid of clowns (or maybe even if you are), this is a groovy track, indeed.

Now if she can just team up with Lykke Li's video producers, this gal might have a career in front of her.

mp3: Beautiful Naked


Friday, September 19, 2008

This Week's Mix

I would like to dedicate this mix to a friend back in DC. This mix is just as crazy as she is, covering all ends of the spectrum. It will be good to be back in town for the weekend. Have a great one.

The House of Love - I Don't Know Why I Love You
Cory Branan - Tall Green Grass
Fred - Running
Woven - Trumpeting Strength
Magnetic Morning - At A Crossroads, Passive
Mobius Band - Hallie
Watcha Clan - Travelin' Shoes
Dragonette - I Get Around
Black Gold - Detroit (Shark Attack Beach Party Remix)
Maison Neuve - Victor Victor

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big Thursday Night

Tom Morello is best known as one of the best guitarists today, lending his prowess to Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Now he is set to release The Fabled City September 30 under the auspices of The Nightwatchmen. Thursday night at Fletcher's in Baltimore, Music Monitor's Network "Noise in the Basement" series gives you an opportunity to see Tom live. Check out how to get tickets here. Also on the bill making this a show you should not miss is Black Kids and Annuals.

mp3: Black Kids - Hurricane Jane (The Twelves Remix)
mp3: Annuals - Sore

We haven't heard much from Brit-pop band James in quite a few years. Most of us may only know their one major hit "Laid". After a 7 year hiatus, they are back with a new album Hey Ma and a tour, playing 9:30 Club Thursday.

I have mentioned previously Austin's Brothers & Sisters is one of my favorites that I came across while living in Texas. After playing last weekend in DC, they are now in Philly at the Manhattan Room. Joining them is New Yorks Phonograph, Philly locals Adam & Dave's Bloodline and DC band Impossible Hair.

mp3: Brothers & Sisters - The Air Is Getting Thicker
mp3: Phonograph - Radio Waves (Daytrotter)
mp3: Adam & Dave's Bloodline - The Lonely Pioneers
mp3: Impossible Hair - My Little Brother

An all local how is at the Velvet Lounge featuring Olivia Mancini & The Housemates. Also playing is Donny Hue and the Colors and Oscillating Fan Club.

mp3: Olivia Mancini & The Housemates - I Wouldn't Worry
mp3: Donny Hue and the Colors - Real Long Time

photo credit: Artist's Myspace

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Music in the Mid-Week

Those of you who enjoy the experimental side of music, the next few days will surely feed your need. One of the biggest instrumental bands out there, Mogwai is playing two shows in the area with fellow British Islanders Fuck Buttons. Get to the 9:30 Club tonight and the Starlight Ballroom in Philly Friday for one great show.

mp3: Mogwai - The Sun Smells Too Loud
mp3: Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love For Plant Earth

More experimentation can be found tonight at Johnny Brenda's with Texas-based This Will Destroy You supporting their eponymous new album. Philly's Cloud Minder joins them for this show. Thursday, TWDY travels down to DC9 for another great show with Lymbyc Systym, who also has a forthcoming new album.

mp3: This Will Destroy You - Quiet
mp3: Cloud Minder - Casimir Effect
mp3: Lymbyc Systym - Carved By Glaciers

If folk-pop is more your thing, there's a couple of shows to check out. Canadian songstress Basia Bulat is playing tonight at DC9, then Thursday at the Tin Angel. DC's own Vandaveer is opening the District show.

mp3: Basia Bulat - In The Night
mp3: Vandaveer - The Streets Is Full of Creeps (live)

Death Vessel, whose soon to be released album may be on the best of 2008, is doing the DC to Philly shuffle, playing tonight at Black Cat with Micah Blue Smaldone tonight and at Johnny Brenda's with Doylestown troubador Peasant on Thursday.

mp3: Death Vessel - Brunos Torso
mp3: Peasant - We're Good

Finally, something that doesn't really fit into either category. Sunset Rubdown is on tour with Parenthetical Girls. Catch then Thursday at First Unitarian Church in Philly and Black Cat Friday.

mp3: Sunset Rubdown - Up On Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days
mp3: Parenthetical Girls - Love Connection Pt II

photo credit

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Spinto Band

Wilmington, Delaware's The Spinto Band have returned and will be releasing Moonwink in October. The insanely catchy "Summer Grof" has been lost on my hard drive for awhile now and I thought that it was about time that I shared it. If it is any indication, this will be one of the better regional releases this fall.

10/17: First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA
11/14: Black Cat, Washington, DC

mp3: Summer Grof


Mason Proper

The smooth and witty gentlemen of Mason Proper are working their way towards releasing their second album, Olly Oxen Free , due out on September 23rd. Although we've mentioned them before, I can't help but think that the Michigan five-some remind me of one of IA’s very favorite new finds, The Young Coyotes, which I guess also makes Mason Proper one of our other favorites. They are getting ready to hit the road and they'll be in DC on November 10 at Black Cat. See you there.

mp3: Lock and Key


A Restless Slim

If you’re like me, you frantically search YouTube for your favorite artists singing your favorite songs live. When you happen to stumble upon an honest-to-god music video, it’s just an added bonus. So, here is your daily added bonus and you didn’t even have to search for it. Langhorne Slim’s new video for “Restless” incorporates all the good things that should be associated with his rough folk/americana sound, namely dogs, chopping wood, and riding illegally in the back of a pick up truck, playing an old guitar. Check it out, see where he is playing regionally and feel free to download the single below.

10/09: Capitol Theatre, York, PA
10/13: Black Cat, Washington, DC

mp3: Restless


Wye Oak

I've been meaning to write about this for months now, but I guess that is par for the course these days. Anyway, Baltimore's beloved Wye Oak have an unreleased track that was used on a 7" for Free Record Store Day last spring. Merge has made the track available to all and you can find it below. It's been awhile since we've heard something new from the band and this is a nice appetizer before the next album. Enjoy!

9/28: Sonar, Baltimore, MD w/ The Dodos
12/4: Black Cat, Washington, DC w/ O'Death

mp3: Prodigy


Hospital Grade

photo by Christopher Small

The Canadian musical explosion just keeps growing, now reaching all the way to the far-off lands of New Brunswick and the musical stylings of Hospital Grade. Fans of both complex math-rock, as well as harder post-punk, will definitely things to their liking on Secrets and Sawdust, the band's latest full length release. Sporting influences as diverse as Joy Division, Wire, and The Minutemen, combined with an uncanny ability to work ear-catching hooks into their athletic musical chops, Secrets and Sawdust would probably make for a great listen through a pair of Sennheiser headphones while enjoying a little plastic baggy of nature's finest.

mp3: Empty Ambulance Bay


Scandanavians For Office

OK, OK, I know what you're going to say. "Another Scandanavian band?!?!" And, of course, the answer is yes, because like it or not, those crazy one-time-Vikings are making some damn fine music these days, narrowly beating out Canada recently as the top country of origin for today's best indie pop music. Or we're just trying our best to get Lykke Li on Ron Paul's ticket as the best VP alternative to Palin and Biden. You can make the call there.

That discussion aside, let's now focus on Soda Fountain Rag, the brain child of Ragnhild Hogstad Jordahl, Bergen, Norway's latest export of twee-tinged indie pop goodness. Her newest release, It's Rag Time!, fuses a number of different styles and sounds with sparse instrumentation and odd lyrics to create tunes that could well get your shoegazing toes a' tapping. "Angry Girl" uses that spooky calliope sound of which I'm so fond, and "Don't Kill the Clowns" deserves recognition for it's title alone.

I suppose the only remaining question about Jordahl's background that any of us need worry about is what her stances are on hockey moms and gas prices.

mp3: Don't Kill The Clowns


Monday, September 15, 2008

Rachael Yamagata Releases Two Part Album

Photo Credit: Hilary Walsh

A few years ago, Rachael Yamagata began to appear on the public’s radar with her full-length album Happenstance. In addition, I’ve heard her music covered at least a dozen times at local open mics by aspiring female songwriters. Her follow up album, A Record in Two Parts: Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart comes out on Warner Bros. Records on October 7, 2008. The two halves present a complete, emotional timeline circling around complicated relationships and the accompanying fallout. “Elephants is much more intimate” Yamagata says. “It’s about being willing to take a risk even if it’s not going to end up well. Teeth is like rediscovering your backbone after you’ve gone through the loss.” Check out a few of her local shows with my love, Kevin Devine (woot) and hear new tracks on her myspace.

9/22: Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
9/24: Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Shows

Beachwood Sparks hasn't been heard of much since the '90s. Now they are back on tour to celebrate SubPop's 20th anniversary. Playing a very limited tour, Thursday at Johnny Brenda's in Philly is the only IA area show. Opening is the "hippie soaked space rock" of The Willowz and another SubPop artists, Sera Cahoone.

mp3: Beachwood Sparks - Confusion is Nothing New
mp3: The Willowz - Evil Son
mp3: Sera Cahoone - Only as the Day Is Long

Also in Philly, humorous English pop-punk band The Wombats, noted as "the next Arctic Monkeys", are playing the First Unitarian Church. Joining the show is Spring Tigers, an electronic outfit from the music mecca of Athens, GA.

mp3: The Wombats - Lets Dance to Joy Division
mp3: Spring Tigers - Beep Beep

Martha Wainwright, daughter of Loudon and sister of Rufus, is supporting a new album and playing the World Cafe.

Welsh band Stereophonics are also on tour with a new album Pull The Pin. Catch them at 9:30 Club.

Baltimore band Thank You is heading down to DC9 for a show.

Photo Credit: Band's Myspace

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New York's O'Death is set to drop their new album Broken Limbs, Hymns and Skin at the end of October. In preparation for the release, they are in the midst of a massive tour. Over the next couple days, they are rolling through southeastern PA with two shows before heading over seas for some European dates. Thursday night, they are at Mulbury Arts in Lancaster (different venue, was scheduled for Ad Lib). Friday they are playing Swarthmore College. If you miss them this week, they will be back at Johnny Brenda's in November.

9/11: Lancaster @ Mulbury Arts
9/12: Swarthmore College

mp3: Lowtide

Photo Credit: Band's Myspace


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quite Smashing

Have you ever found yourself wondering what Smash Mouth was up to lately? Neither have I and I certainly never thought that I would ever mention that band on IA. As it turns out, former guitarist Greg Camp released a solo CD yesterday, the aptly titled Defektor. While this may sound very frightening, it might turn out to be a good thing.

I've heard the single "Cat's Game," which I found to be strangely addictive. I was definitely a little shocked when I found out who was singing it. Think more along the lines of New Wave and Psychedelic Furs, than "All Star" and you'll have a pretty good starting point. While not ground breaking, a hell of a lot better than you expected, right? Maybe there is hope for the world yet. Just maybe.

mp3: Cat's Game


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Calm Blue Sea

For Austin musicians, it must be difficult not to be pigeon-holed into a specific genre of music. One band emulates Spoon, while another is compared to Trail of Dead and so forth. So many bands and solo artists reside, come through or cut their teeth in the ATX, you almost have to fall into one category or another. When I first listened to the mostly-instrumental self-titled album from The Calm Blue Sea, I immediately labeled them as followers of another Austin instrumental band, Explosions In The Sky. That may be the influence of EITS producer Erik Wofford, but do not think that is a bad thing. They have grabbed the attention of many Austin and Texas publications, like Austinist and Soundcheck Magazine. The Austin Chronicle named The Calm Blue Sea one of the best experimental bands in Austin, along with Ghostland Observatory and The Octopus Project.

Set to be released September 30, this album is a sonic experience. Every song is an epic, the shortest track being a little over five minutes long. Individually, each track is its own micro-symphony. The calm beginning of the opening track "We Happy Few" builds quickly into a complete wall of sound, then just a fast, recedes back into a soft roll of piano and guitar to crescendo once again. The veiled vocalizations in "Literal" add a haunting element to dark, almost disturbing cacophony of feedback and hard-driving riffs that create the major theme of the song. The final song, "This Will Never Happen Again", is the defining piece of the album. Featuring what sounds like an audio diary that is barely audible over the guitar and hum of bass, the music slowly builds in volume to a dream-like, trance-inducing quality, then breaks down into a menacing military style march with heavy percussion and feedback laden guitars. This is a worthwhile pick-up for experimental instrumental music fans and a good introduction to the genre for the uninitiated.

mp3: This Will Never Happen Again
Full Album Stream


Monday, September 08, 2008

Good Company to Keep

I tend to give at least extra consideration to cats who perform or collaborate with established acts that I know I already enjoy. It came as little surprise that I found my curiosity piqued when I found out that Daniel Hart had his own project, The Physics of Meaning. As you may not be familiar with Mr. Hart, perhaps it would behoove us all to point out that he was NOT a part of the Hart Foundation professional wrestling duo from the '80s, but instead is a member of St. Vincent and John Vanderslice's bands, as well as a frequent contributor to The Polyphonic Spree.

The Physics of Meaning's fully-orchestrated, second album, Snake Charmer and Destiny at the Stroke of Midnight ( due out September 16th), seems to hit upon all the chamber pop goodness with which we've come to expect from those stalwarts with whom Hart has chosen to ally himself. Their first single, "Aeroplanes and Hurricanes," starts off with a pounding drum beat reminiscent of the best indie rockers, before the track is reigned back in with lovely melodies and swirling string arrangements. Check out the track below and look for the album next week.

mp3: Aeroplanes and Hurricanes


Monsters are Waiting

You: Love Death Cab, Silversun Pickups, '90s shoegaze and instantly fall in love with a beautiful, breathy voice.

Them: Monsters are Waiting, the LA-based twosome of Annalee Ferry and Andrew Clark, who are keeping busy playing gigs out west and putting out their latest EP, Ones and Zeros.

Me: Very impressed and looking forward to a Monsters are Waiting gig in the DC area sometime soon.

Take a listen to their cover of a classic Stone Roses track.

mp3: I Wanna be Adored (Stone Roses cover)


Emily Wells: Badass Female Award Recipient

LA’s renegade symphonist, Emily Wells, will self release her folk electric fantasy set The Symphonies: Dreams Memories and Parties on October 21st. Part haunting and part enticing, Wells creates and draws listeners in with an uncanny beauty, which in the name of “creative control”, she’s learned to produce and record herself. If I forced myself to write up a helpful description (and I am), I’d pen her as kind of a mix of Ani DiFranco, Bjork and a handful of sharp, nomadic, modern poets. Plus, she’s opened for Lykke Li, so she gets serious bonus points for that.

mp3: Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & The Requiem Mix


Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Sacred Heart

It may just be me who harbors a head-turning affection for largely unheard spirituals from the south, but I highly doubt it. I doubt it, because like most hidden yet wildly popular phenomenon, the genre is getting it's own documentary. Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp is the first feature documentary about Sacred Harp singing, a haunting form of a cappella, shape note hymn singing, with it’s gritty roots extending deep into the American south. The art of shape note singing has survived over 200 years carefully hidden, mainly, in old country churches. On the film’s soundtrack, a dedication to spiritual and musical history, singers break open The Sacred Harp, a 160 year old shape note hymnal, which has preserved some of the oldest songs in America. The two disc project includes one disc of the original film soundtrack; traditional singing recorded in rural Georgia and Alabama, and a disc of covers from various artists. The list of contributing artists includes John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Doc Watson, Elvis Perkins, Jim Lauderdale, Danielson, Richard Buckner, and The Innocence Mission. The CD drops October 14th. Check out movie clips on Awake My Soul’s website.

mp3: Sam Amidon - Kedron


Friday, September 05, 2008

This Week's Mix

As usual, here is my mix for the week. Have a great weekend.

The Stills - Don't Talk Down
Pela - Waiting On The Stairs
Proud Simon - Clockwork On and On
The Kooks - Kids (MGMT Cover)
Rahim - Through A Window
Motel Motel - Coffee
Her Space Holiday - Sleepy Tigers
The Week That Was - Scratch The Surface
The New Up's - Broken Machine
Michael Knight - Coronation Streets

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