Pocketbooks have already started teasing us. Though their new album Carousel isn't officially due out until September (you can currently grab a copy from the lovely Oddbox Records), the first single "Promises, Promises" was made available yesterday.
The bittersweet lyrics about empty promises are almost poetic in their earnest, and the backing girly harmonies and sweeping strings just make an already great song greater. Basically, it's another Pocketbooks insta-classic. Promises, Promises .mp3
You know that wonderful moment when you get a new album and just have to sit down and listen to it? When your only distraction is the occasional sip of tea or nibble of cake and the ever-so-slight grit and warble isn't an imperfection but a reminder that music is personal and hand-crafted? It's not an everyday occurrence, but Fika Recordings would sure like it to be. To make every Fika release a special treat, a hand-selected bag of tea and recipe for something yummy accompany every order. A very neat concept if you ask me.
A good concept doesn't mean much if the goods don't back it up, and fortunately Fika delivers in spades. Red Shoe Diaries' new 10" EPWhen I Find My Heart is brimming with eloquent pop songs for "messed up grown ups," complete with all the cynicism that entails. Each track on When I Find My Heart does a great job of taking the band's astounding number of influences to bring some variety to the five tracks without making them sound disparate in any way. A little surf here, some folk there, and some good old fashioned jangly-guitar-pop everywhere.
Red Shoe Diaries launch party is tonight at 7:30 in London (that's the gig flyer up there)! You can purchase tickets here! They're also playing a free show in Nottingham tomorrow at Spanky Van Dyke's.
I wrote about Life Size Maps a little while ago, but they almost sound like a different band on their new EP, so a second post is warranted. Their pop-sensibilities and and orchestral elements remain, but they've been amped up and distorted in the very best of ways. Magnifier is probably the only time prepared piano and harpsichord have been used on a pop album, and along with the more familiar cello and strings they add a really unique aspect to a guitar-driven rocking. The controlled chaos and sort of punk anthem-ed choruses are great when you're on-the-move, or if you want to listen to something a little different.
Magnifier releases on July 7th, but if you're in New York, you can probably grab a copy at their July 1st release party at Monster Island Basement.
Or maybe you can't hear, because that new(ish) Ringo Deathstarr album fucking rocks. Sure, Colour Trip came out two months ago, but I forgot to post about it, and their headlining Shea Stadium next month seemed like a good enough excuse.
Anyways, if you haven't picked up a copy yet, it's a little more MBV than JAMC and that's okay with me. I'm a sucker for fuzz, boy/girl vocals, reverse reverb, and gliding, so I can't take a single issue with the entire album. Plus, tracks like "Tambourine Girl" are straight up sing-along-with poppy and help shift gears, so even those "it all sounds the same" naysayers can't complain.
Head over to their bandcamp to stream the whole thing, and Club AC30's got them for sale.
And of course, they're on tour, so New Yorkers should keep July 3rd free. Everyone else, look it up.
Here's the video for the opening track "Imagine Hearts"
If you feel your indie-folk-pop library is looking a little lackluster, just start going through Big Rig Records' roster. While Big Rig has artists from all over the world, it just so happens that both groups on today's double-billing hail from Adelaide, Australia.
The Sea Thieves are a sort of collective project based around Zac Coligan and have a knack for taking instruments like the uke, singing saw, and bellows, and making something new, yet familiar and comforting with them. They Will Run is the type of record that sounds like it should be pressed on a phonograph cylinder, so you can play it late at night while relaxing in a big, dusty armchair. Or at least that's the setting I'd imagine would compliment the dusty atmosphere that permeates the album.
Focus The Stars.mp3
Cheer Advisory Council sound like The Lucksmiths covering Wilco being mixed by Phil Spectre. Distance's sparse finger-picked guitars are almost guaranteed to climax in an epic orchestral crescendo, and on the rare occasion they don't, they serve as the foundation for a slow and steady layering of an eclectic mix of instruments.
Transfusao Noise Records has the perfect 7" comp for anyone with an insatiable appetite for fuzz and pop. With bands like Lê Almeida and Top Surprise, Coração Transfusionado is the perfect 7" comp for popkids who want the who want their noise served six ways to Sunday (including not very noisy at all), and in bite-sized little pop morsels no less. By bite-sized I mean all the tracks are well under three minutes. Scrumptious. Anyways, it's 6 different a-side-worthy singles crammed onto one piece of wax, so obviously if you've ever wished someone would put their foot on a fuzzbox, this will be one of the best purchases you make all year.
Great movie, or greater cat? The Hit Parade seem to think the cat takes it, so we're spared a tribute to the Ben Stiller film. What we do get from "There's Something About Mary" is a three minute pop corker, just the way you remember the Hit Parade: jangly and filled with harmonies about kitty love. What else would you expect from London's number one pop group?
The b-side gave me a chuckle, especially with the blurb in the press release: it's "a tribute to the 1989 Sarah Records indie band Brighter who were famous for being melancholy and playing all their songs in the key of D." Remember that awesome song about the Japanese girl with a broken heart? How about the English boy version? No? Oh that's right, it's not out yet because it's "The Boy Who Loves Brighter" (and maybe one or two tracks from the back-catalogue, but who's keeping count of melancholy Hit Parade love songs?).
JSH Records is putting out the There's Something About Mary single on 7" vinyl today, and for digital download on May 2nd.
Colin and Dana's labor of love is almost ready to see the light of day! Well, I guess it already is ready, it's just picking out it's favourite outfit. Let's Whisper have been a sort of Smittens side project for years, but The Shortest Days is their very first album. The firsts don't stop there, as it's also WeePOP's first full length! It's due out April 9th, so mark your calendars because you don't want to miss out on the hand-screened goodies.
Like with the Keep A Secret EP, Colin and Dana's songwriting on The Shortest Days comes from opposite sides of the same spectrum to make an album that delivers far more than you'd expect from a band named "Let's Whisper," while still remaining coherent, and identifiably Whispered.
Tullycraftian in its variety, you're as likely to hear something reminiscent of Pipas or Pocketbooks as you are The Smittens. I've got no trouble saying this is one of the best albums of the year, and I'd be surprised if my mind's changed 8 months from now. Order your copy here. I promise it'll literally make Spring seem better.
Remember when Twin Cinema come out? That album fucking rocked. Ever wonder what it would sound like if it popped? No? Well, Brooklyn's Overlord have already come up with an answer, so don't worry your pretty little head. In Soviet Russia, My Heart Breaks You is due out April 1st on Storm Tower Records, and as I alluded, there's a bit of a New Pornographers thing going. That, and the Smiths, but they're not complaining about the comparison, so neither will I. I will give them a little more credit though: by mixing influences from the bast 50 years Overlord have developed a sound more complex than just a "poppy New Pornographers." Wow, that was almost silly-professional-reviewer sounding, but basically it's the first album of the year that's "Summer Jam" worthy.
I don't even need to be witty with the title on this one.
Two If By Sea is a long distance project between Teresa Daniele (formerly of The Haircuts), Lisle Mitnik (Fireflies, Very Truly Yours) and Kevin Clark (Homeville Circle, Wooden Owls). Lush would be a pretty good way to describe the 5 track Staysail. It's also a pretty good...ehh...what's that acronym "RIYL?" The Field Mice covering The Softies wouldn't be a bad summarization either (or maybe the other way around?). If that doesn't entice you, maybe talk of jangling guitars, swirling soundscapes, and breathy vocals will. If you're still thinking "eh, not for me," then you're a lost cause anyways.
Scoop up a 7" from February Records and get ready spend way too much time watching some grooves spin.
While you're at it, give the video for the opening track "Apron of Flowers" a watch/listen.
Boy, it's a good thing I don't have to deal with deadlines at work, because I sure am lousy at making them.
V-Day, and the equally popular Desperation Day came and went (all the while most of this was sitting as a draft ready to be posted, but I digress), and some unfortunate souls were undoubtedly alone. Do not despair pop losers, for The Bynars have you covered!
The first single from their forthcoming album was equally lonely on the 14th and looking for love. Luckily, your chance to find each other hasn't passed, as it's available as a pay-what-you-will on their bandcamp.
"How Does it Feel to Be In Love" takes the Boston band's patented rockin' synth-pop sound and turns it up to 11. That's more drums, guitars, and synths to boogie on down to, even if you have to do it by yourself. Heck, even that body pillow you dressed up like Buddy Holly's going to want to cut a rug, so finding a real, live partner shouldn't be too hard.
So one of my favourite Christmas presents this year came from Matthew over at Shelflife, and this time I don't have to hoard it (though I do thoroughly enjoy hoarding)! Nikita Pavlov's White Wishes seems like it would be the equivalent to sunshine-pop back in perma-frosty Mother Russia, with jangly guitars floating behind reverb-y drums and soothing vocals. The occasional dash of delay or fuzz adds a touch of shoegaze without being abrasive enough to offend anyone. What I'm trying to get at is for the past half hour I've been in this weird state where I'm not sure if I should be perky from the popiness, or in a daze from the gazeyness.
Everyone and their mom should click here for their "I'm nice and cozy inside while it's all cold and snowy out" soundtrack.
Weeeelllllll, I think this sets the record for "Most Overdue Post" by about 10 months. I've never heard of squatter punks holing up in a library, but apparently anything's possible in Yorkshire. As their name might suggest, The Wind-Up Birds have read a book or two, and that translates into hyper-literate lyrics that are as much poem as they are prose, and filled with a poignant English wit. Their songs can ramble, jangle, and squeal. Sometimes they blur the line between (please excuse the useless genre pigeonholing) indie-rock and post-punk, and sometimes you might have to pull out the old Oxford English Dictionary lest you get beaten with it, but for the educated drunk, The Wind-Up Birds will be your new favourite band. In a Yorkshire Call Centre I Knelt Down and Wept .mp3 This Boat is Going Nowhere Tonight, Son .mp3
Sound like a good way to get through the winter? There's currently an EP and 7" out on Sturdy Records, both of which John Peel would undoubtedly blare whilst pissed.
The stuff I post on here is for primarily for sampling purposes. If you like something you hear, you should go buy the album. And while you're at it, you should buy a t-shirt so the world can see that you support good things.
If you're a band and want something taken down, just say so. I'd say you should sleep on it first. Or at least have some cookies. If you're certain you still want something removed, I can make that happen.
If you're a band and you think that you fit in with what I talk about, then let me know right now! I'll put up a nice little blurb, and a picture, and some files (if they're available). It'll be a good time.
Some places to go
Sat 1/15 8:00 PM * The Depreciation Guild, The Click Clack Boom, The Vanguard The Rock Shop21+
Sat 1/15 8:00 PM * Tyvek, The Beets, Eternal Summers, Sweet Bulbs Glasslands21+