Archive for July 3rd, 2010
It has been some time since I have bestowed a mix upon TWJ’s reading public. Here, I present 22 songs that have recently seized my ears, or recently recaptured them. A short description accompanies each.
DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE MIX HERE
1. Airport By Vital – Duranto Cook grew up in Vallejo, California as well as Chicago. After releasing two hip-hop and R&B EPs, he recorded his first solo album in 2008. It’s just now getting some recognition from labels (Black Sky Records) and is worth a listen. This song sounds as though it would fit in a slow-motion sports montage or a dramatic ending to a romantic comedy.
2. Flashover By Klaxons – I remember hearing Klaxons for the first time when I checked out the song “Gravity’s Rainbow” in 2007. It’s been three years since the British band released Myths of the Near Future, and they are now set to release Surfing the Void. “Flashover” is the first new single, and it’s the same hybrid between dramatic, Muse-style arena rock and electronica.
3. Gabapentin By Scott Lanaway – A good word for Scott Lanaway’s brand of electropop is textured. The eerie drumbeat here wafts in and then moseys over a simple acoustic guitar line. And Lanaway throws in sounds from nature and keyboard riffs that allow both for layers and the space between them.
4. My Boys By Taken By Trees – Matt has written glowingly of Victoria Bergsman, known away from her time in The Concretes as Taken By Trees. Here, she takes one of 2009’s biggest hits by Animal Collective, “My Girls,” and makes it her own.
5. Rat By Canby – Canby is the name for the solo work of Scott Yoshimura. This first single from his first full-length album is a slow burn alt-rock tune with Yoshimura’s work on guitar, drums and vocals leading the way.
6. Yo Mama By Peggy Sue – This Brighton, UK female duo constructs folk-rock songs that sound oddly American. They did spend time in New York City for inspiration, so that makes more sense than you think.
7. The Strums By The Dodos – This is a song I had forgotten about until recently from 2009’s Time To Die. It is aptly named, for there is plenty of lovely guitar strumming on this track, which is charming.
8. Tallymarks By Thao and The Portland Cello Project – How can you get better than the wonderful Thao Nguyen and her song from Like The Linen, her debut record? Put an “indie cello orchestra” behind it. Awesomeness ensues.
9. Wash U Clean By Beth Thornley – On this track, Beth Thornley sings like she’s winning an argument with a misbehaving lover. The funky horns and big-bandish sound that accompanies her makes the song a lot of fun.
10. Yes Yes Yes By Elsinore – This Champaign, IL group creates catchy indie-pop tunes that are lifted to great heights by the lead vocals of Ryan Groff, who has a voice that rivals just about anyone out there making honest, unabashed rock music. There are impressive flourishes here, and a chorus that begs for a concert singalong.
11. Liv Tyler By The Roadside Graves – This is an impressive turn from these New Jersey alt-country rockers. I can imagine the tempo changes live — from fuzzy, energetic guitar to powerful piano key-plinking. At more than seven minutes long, the song never gets stale. And that’s a credit to these guys, who sing about the cash they ain’t got and the love & good times they do.
12. Wasted Daylight By Stars – If you haven’t checked out this Canadian group’s latest LP The Five Ghosts, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. They do intimate-yet-expansive bedroom pop better than a large number of bands trying the same thing out there today.
13. Switched On By Islands – I feel as though this record was one of the forgotten releases in a great 2009. This song is a pop gem from start to finish that will keep your toes tapping.
14. Carlyle Lake By Sufjan Stevens – Only Sufjan Stevens could put together a collection of outtakes and extras as finely tuned as The Avalanche, a spillover from his most-recent state-themed stable Illinoise. This is a standout track.
15. Gimme Sympathy By Metric – This tune from Emily Haines and co. popped up on my iPod whilst I made the long commute home from a Sunday at work with the windows down. Its sugary melody and Haines’ vocals guided me to familiar territory. I had forgotten this song existed. Shame on me.
16. I Feel Better By Hot Chip – This song from Hot Chip’s One Life Stand is dramatic and club-worthy from the very beginning. And I love it for that.
17. Summer By Magic Kids – Not to be redundant, but this song is magical. Magic Kids are a group from Memphis, Tennessee that has a knack for creating pop songs that make you nostalgic even if you’re hearing them for the first time.
18. Right On By The Roots (Featuring Joanna Newsom and STS) – Umm… do I need another reason for recommending this song besides the fact that it’s a meeting between The Roots and Joanna Newsom? Yes? Okay, how about a dope beat and authoritative rhymes from Black Thought? That’s right, I said dope. Cause I’m serious.
19. Johanna By Way Yes – I’m happy to recommend bands from my hometown, and Way Yes are a talented one that hails from the music hotbed of America, Columbus, Ohio. Ok, we’re not a hotbed. But there are plenty of good bands here, and Way Yes — with its afro-caribbean infused island rhythm sound — are a lot of fun.
20. Terrible Vision By Rhett Miller – I happen to think that Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller did his best work on The Instigator, his first foray into solo territory. Whenever any song from that album ends up on my iPod, I cannot skip ahead. This is one of my favorite ones, a melancholy ode to devotion.
21. Plus Ones By Okkervil River – This Austin, Texas six-pack makes some of the most melodic, intelligent and earnest indie rock out there. I adore Stage Names, which this song comes from. Revisit it, discover it, whatever. Just listen.
22. Next Girl By The Black Keys – Need a fresh, funky break-up anthem with serious rock chops? Behold this kickass selection from Akron’s The Black Keys, Track 2 on Brothers.
DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE MIX HERE
I know why Cloud Cult chose “Running With The Wolves” as the promo single for their newest LP, Light Chasers. It’s the somewhat safe pick. The most cohesive and normal song on the new album (which is available for digital download on their website now).
The song is good, make no mistake. But I encourage anyone not familiar with the wonders of this Minneapolis, Minnesota to take in an entire album. Cloud Cult is often tagged with “experimental,” and with good reason. They use keys, strings, and vocoders in addition to standard rock instruments like guitar and drums. And they blend it all into a cocktail that is typically moving and always interesting.
Having immersed myself in Light Chasers as soon as I could buy it from the band’s website, I can say it’s a grower. But I think all of Cloud Cult’s albums are like that: It takes time and effort to absorb all the elegant touches and powerful emotion. That required patience might be why the band hasn’t achieved success on the scale they deserve.
In short, Light Chasers is a fantastic album. And “Running With The Wolves” is the perfect song to introduce any newcomers to the band with a small dose of what they offer: unique, intriguing and for lack of a better word “experimental” indie rock. Take in the new single, and check out some of the older material here as well.
Buy Light Chasers here.
“Running With The Wolves” By Cloud Cult (From Light Chasers, physical release September 2010, available digitally now)
“When Water Comes To Life” By Cloud Cult (From Feel Good Ghosts, out now, self-released)
“Chemicals Collide” By Cloud Cult (From The Meaning of 8, out now on Earthology/Rbg) Earthology/Rbg)