Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mazes - A Thousand Heys

Manchester’s Mazes’ influences are from just across the border to the North: Teenage Fanclub and Yatsura noise-pop infiltrate their sound. Sometimes they fall back on the influence of those bands: Pavement. It is no wonder they have signed up with the briljant Fat Cat Records label that has already given us We Were Promised Jetpacks, Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit. Songs like ‘Most Days’ should be in all the alternative radio charts. A short powerful uptempe song including woo-hoos. ‘Boxing Clever’ doesn’t even try to not sound like a “Slanted & Enchanted” song, not even in the title but do we really care? These guys have found that hard to find gift of blending shambly pop with indie sentiments.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brave Irene

Brave Irene. Brave indeed, unpretentiously slinging 8 new songs into the world. This is one of those fun bands that gives us absolutely nothing new but it still worth listening too. Fuzzy guitar at fast speed accompanied by organs/keyboards, and not always trained vocals harking back to Phil Spector girl groups. Future of the band seems to be uncertain, and that’s a bad thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Death Cab For Cutie - Codes & Keys

Death Cab for Cutie has gone through a R.E.M. type of development. From small and slightly scruffy to well crafted indie pop songs. From a mediocre post-grunge group they became one of alternative rock’s shining beacons. Codes & Keys is their New Adventures In Hi-Fi: an album that goes into a new direction but not one that’s immediately a better directions. Granted, Codes & Keys still has some songs that are instant indiedisco hits like “You Are A Tourist” with it’s incredible guitar riff. But in songs like “Doors Unlocked and Open” a certain something is missing. Were Gibbard and consorts always able to touch some emotion , the steady beat and staccato guitar leading into to a halfbaked chorus gives us nothing lasting. The aforementioned “You Are A Tourist, the steady and mellow “Monday Morning”, jumpy “Portable Televion” end closer “Stay Young, Go Dancing” fortunately lift the album slightly above the mediocre music coming out these days, but DTFC have for now lost touch with indie rock teens.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Airborne Toxic Event, Aquabats, Darlings

Airborne Toxic Avent – All at Once

The first Airborne Toxic Event album is still one I regularly play and I was much looking forward to the second. ATC’s crispy indie rock has remained for the most port, but at sometimes they veer dangerously into John Mayer territory.
But let’s start with the positives: some of the songs easily fit into the ATC canon, the brilliant singles “Numb” and “Changing” or the ballad “All For A Woman”. “All I Ever Wanted” needs some time to get to you but the chorus is vintage ATC.
‘All at Once’ is a more political album than the first one. “The Kids are ready to die” is about soldiers and the war. They with strong lyrics it’s too much a Bruce Springsteen/The River song, and you know he will do a much better version. “Welcome To Your Wedding Day” is a song about a bombing at a wedding. Same goes here, strong lyrics but this time they have figured out a way to combine the Dropkicks and the Arcade Fire, unfortunately with slightly disastrous results turning the song into a mediocre Green Day song.
The music is the most disappointing aspect of the album, when they’re not busy copying others they are poorly covering themselves, “Half of Something Else” is a halfbaked attempt of re-recording “Sometime Around Midnight”. I don’t think it’s too late for the Airborne Toxic Event to get back to the refreshing songs they made and get more attention than so far, but “All At Once” is hopefully not they direction the band is going in, they are too talented for that.

Aquabats – Hi Five Soup
If you don’t like these guys you have no sense of humor. Funny but never vulgar the superheroes describe their fight against sharks, their friends, fangs, hugging and grandma’s money in very catchy punkpop songs. Nerf Herder sans the sad losers.

Darlings – Warma
This 5 song EP contains some catchy fuzzy punksongs, down to a My Bloody Valentine like front cover. Lo-fi indie rock albums keep being made of high quality and this isn’t any different. Now if they could only find a more unique sound…

Monday, August 8, 2011

Martyn's Playlist for August 8th

OK, 15 songs and a YouTube feed, deal with it.

1. Beirut - East-Harlem
2. Best Coast - Gone Again
3. Bright Eyes - Jejune Stars
4. Chase & Status - Hitz ft. Tinie Tempah
5. Cloud Control - This Is What I Said
6. Two Wounded Birds - All We Wanna Do
7. The Wombats - Techno Fan
8. Yuck - Get Away
9. Times New Viking - No Room to Live
10. The Leisure Society - This Phantom Life
11. The Black Angels - Haunting at 1300 McKinley
12. Grouplove - Naked Kids
13. The View - Grace
14. THE WoWz - Bubbles in a Bath
15. Death Letters - Temporary Frame

Monday, July 25, 2011

Braids, Herman Dune, Babies

Braids – Native Speaker (5)
Dream pop trend continues with Braids’ strong nine-song “Native Speaker”. But where other bands veer towards the organlike synthesizers Braids turned the other way into Animal Collective-like repetitions and rhythms. Layers of sound and vocals, sometimes with foul yet fitting lyrics. This album is one of the finest and most exciting to come out of Canada this year. This could turn out to be one of those albums I will be playing for a long time after the first spin.

Herman Dune – Strange Moosic (3)
This French band’s music isn’t as strange as the title might suggest. It is pretty much your average acoustic folk-pop songs. They are obviously strong songwriters as the opening song “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” makes us know. I can’t get rid of the idea however that I am listen to BruceSpringsteen’s discarded B-sides from the 80s but stripped down. The lyrics are interesting story songs but the trick wears out, especially when it’s sung in such a nasally flat voice. Singing in English from a French band and furry animals aside, we are seeing through the trick now.

The Babies (4)
Woods’ indie melodies meet Vivian Girls’ fuzz in this collaboration of Kevin Morby of the former and Cassie Ramone of the latter. The Babies’ first record truly is a mix of both bands; 60’s sped-up harmonies sung in a Titus Andronicus style over Sonic Youth Daydream Nation and Experimental Jetset chord changes. Kevin and Cassie are ‘Partners in Crime’ in this interesting side-project that never reaches the level of the parent bands, but is still worth a few spins.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

3 More Revies: Dodos - Parts and Labor - Head and the Heart

The Dodos – No Color
The Dodos’ new album is just nine songs long, perhaps a result of the slightly disappointing previous album. Fortunately the good elements have remained: the strange time signatures and the percussion like strumming of Meric Long. Opener and single “Black Night” is a good example of the newer, louder style. Long’s singing is still mediocre at best bur the vocal melodies make up for a lot. They were also helped this time by Neko Case who lends here remarkable vocal talent to a few of the songs, lifting them up and giving a nice extra color. Songs that are already dominated by some great hooks, making you remember at least part of the song after only a few plays.
The new sound doesn’t always work live, where they can become too loud. It works on this album: The Dodos are back on track.

Parts and Labor – Constant Future
I first heard of Parts and Labor when they opened for Battles. Their musical style fits into the mathrocking experimental mold. Off-kilter drumming supported by guitar noise and pointy keyboard sounds. But this New York band gained some pop sensibility making their songs more transparent. They are not the next Hootie, but it has that Butthole Surfers vibe that makes it fun to listen to. Weakness remains the singing, which isn’t helped by the at times poor vocal lines. The music is powerful and exciting. This should be an able that will lead to more fans.

The Head and the Heart
Sub Pop has unearthed another gem right in their backyard. Seattle’s The Head And The Heart debut album came out in april and is yet another fine folk rock album on the label. The link with Fleet Foxes is easily made. The don’t quite reach the level of musical and lyrical strength but the multiple vocals contrast each other well. The high tones of the piano add a happy flavor.
Some of the premier folk bands of today can be heard: the aforementioned Fleet Foxes, the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons sans the terrific singing. But where these bands blend old time folk with their own 21st century interpretation of the genre, the Head and the Heart bring us nothing new. Every song is well written and performed but everytime I couldn’t help imagining it being performed by one of those three bands. And it always sounded better in my imagination. But even without any originality the album still stands out as one of the nicer ones of the year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

15 New Songs

Been a while, but here are 15 new songs we think you should listen to.

Paulusma - Back Of Your Car
Daryll-Ann might be gone but the singers keep producing remarkable new songs. A grayer Paulusma performs this beautiful song for Dutch National

Deerhunter - Memory Boy
psychedelic keyboards dominate in a song that could easily have been written and performed by the Zombies.

The Zombies - Breathe Out, Breathe In
While we are on the subject of The Zombies, they are back with a new record that retains some of the harmonies and sound of the majestic Odessey and Oracle.

Bon Iver - Calgary
Nightmare/dream video accompanying the first Bon Iver single of the new record.

The Dears - Blood
The new album Degeneration Street is a Tour de Force with the stress on force, an album with 'too many notes'. Blood is the exception.

Two Wounded Birds - All We Wanna Do
Wonderful sub 2 minute punkpop song. Lot of beach songs these days

Two Door Cinema Club - This Is The Life
Starting to like the sound of this band more and more, and apparently it also works live.

The Boxer Rebellion - The Runner
Somehow i doubt this video will played a lot on day time tv... They got oscar nominated directors to make the video and it shows.

Broken Records - The Motorcycle Boy Reigns
Hysterical? Nah, just emotional.

The Galacticos - Aunt Mary
Belgium's favorite youngsters strike again. funny video full of costume and scenery changes.

Fucked Up - The Other Show
Some 14yr olds with new electric guitars are trying to play the opening riff.

Birdy - Skinny Love
Doesn't reach the Bon Iver original, but we can only admire youngsters listening to great music and trying to recreate it.

Anthony David - God Said
Brilliant protest song about the absurdity of religious figures.

Young The Giant - My Body
Another great single from these guys. Let us all jump around in the heather.

Aux Raus - Oh No It's Them
Yes, you heard right, that's gabberindie.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Antlers - Burst Apart

The Antlers’ first connection with a larger audience, “Hospice” was a an album so haunting and moving that it has remained in high rotation on my iPod. A beautiful concept album about a dying cancer patient and the man who takes care of her made The Antlers a new name to be reckoned with, especially after some powerful live shows where they were able to get an entire crowd dead silent. One thing that came out of these shows and the news songs they played was that the new album could never be as dark as “Hospice”. “Burst Apart” sounds at first listen less dark, but hasn’t changed my perception of The Antlers in the least.

Ok, a title like ‘I Don’t Want Love’ doesn’t particularly sound upbeat. Peter Silberman’ falsetto voice is however much more clear and stretched and really shows the big steps they made into a much more professional band.

The keyboards are a little more 80ish and the drums slightly muffled but still the songs make you listen intensely so you cannot but get overwhelmed and get in a trance induced by the layers of keyboards, guitars and Silberman’s hovering high voice. A good example of this is the dubby ‘Parantheses’ or the hypnothic ‘Rolled Together’.

“Burst Apart” has less layers of sound than “Hospice”, it has less to hide. The final two songs are for Antlers standards quite clear. The overall quality of the songs remains high but never reaches the heights of “Hospice”. But this wasn’t to be suspected and cannot be a blemish on the Antler’s body of work, if anything they show they remain a quality indie band who will give us much more unique stuff.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 Reviews: Strokes, Shannon & The Clams, Tune-Yards

The Strokes - Angles
With “Is This It?” the Strokes made one of the best records of the new century. Following albums were good but got gradually worse. After a long hiatus “Angles” came out and unfortunately it fits neatly into that line.
Opener ‘Machu Picchu’ can only endear in the chorus, but the empty 80’s pop sound is annoying. This hollow sound is continued in ‘Two Kinds of Happiness’ and basically throughout the album

It’s not all bad. The single ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ makes up a lot. It’s a vintage Strokes song with both strong verses and chorus and where every instrument sounds great. ‘Taken for a Fool’ has a great chorus as well but these are sparse highlight on a disappointing album.

Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk
Unknown Shannon and the Clams caught my ears with their 2009 album “I Wanna Go Home”. Their music is 60’s garage rock powered by the singer’s powerful voice. Their raw sound must sound great live. The energy is again at a very high level, sometimes distorting the amps. A more raw version of the Ramones, sometimes even nearing The Stooges. With just 36 minutes of playing time it is also the right length before become too monotone.

Tune-Yards - w h o k i l l
Go see her (them) if you have a chance because of their originality. Overlapping vocals and exotic beats give you an interesting musical experience. “w h o k i l l” is a breakthrough album. The vocals are varied, though at times varied, but they color the songs like no other instrument, like in the jumpy/jazzy ‘Gangsta’ or the single ‘Bizness’. 10 songs that are guaranteed to make your ears perk up.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It Has Melodies! : Battles - Gloss Drop

Battles’ musical style is such that losing a member means losing all the songs he played on, which was shown at their show in the Melkweg not too long ago. No Atlas or Tonto were played, but it was still easily one of the best concerts of the year so far. The departure of Tyondai Braxton left some, including me, wondering what would become of the Battles sound. “Gloss Drop” provides the answer, and a surprising one. Some elements are still intact; John Stanier’s drumming is still some of the best in the alternative music scene. It takes about a minute in opener ‘Africastle’ but the pounding is relentless and tight, like it was on “Mirrored” but it does not dominate the album.

What has changed is the overall mood. “Mirrored” could be dark and brooding at times, “Gloss Drop” is at times almost upbeat. This is in part because of the high pitched keyboards, which Ian Williams has more space for now. It even has melodies! The drumming and beats are almost more towards hiphop where the funky beats have replaced the really weird solid beats on “Mirrored”.

Dave Konopko still provides the rumbling background sound with bass and lowtuned guitar.
Braxton was the singer but has been replaced with a score of guest vocalists. How do they do this live you ask? Well, two screens show images of the singer singing the vocals, and this can be manipulated. The brilliant ‘Ice Cream’ vocals are provided by Chilean/German Matias Aguayo, and even Gary Numan shows up in the drum-heavy ‘My Machines’.

It is unfair to compare “Mirrored” with “Gloss Drop”. The moods of the album are different, mostly because of the changing musical dynamics. “Gloss Drop” is stronger overall. While lacking some of the top tracks like the monumental Atlas (maybe the best piece of alternative music recorded in the first decade of this century) it is easier to access and a more pleasant listening experience. One thing is still certain, Battles is still as unique as ever and is as 21st century as music can get.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Explorer 15, May 30th

Vacation time so it took me a little longer than usual, but here are 15 new songs

Young The Giant - Apartment
Music: Well manufactured indie rock
Video: Band playing in a cozy environment

Little Red - All Mine
Music: Getting a little too Coldplay-y at times, but another fine Ozzie band.
Video: Skateboarding lonely through the streets of Melbourne

San Cisco - Golden Revolver
Music: Reverb on high, you gotta love Australia
Video: Old home movies

British India - March Into The Ocean
Music: Heavier Stuff, anthem?, third Oz band on the list
Video: Guys on speed playing scrabble

Fleet Foxes - Grown Ocean
Music: Fleet Foxes
Video: Road movie

Deep Sea Arcade - Lonely In Your Arms
Music: They made the list before with the Zombies like Don't You Worry, similar style but more modern
Video: Don't adjust your television set.

Husky - History's Door
Music: Australia's Fleet Foxes?
Video: Band playing

Last Dinosaurs - Time & Place
Music: Really, I can't help so many Australian bands made the list, and yes 2:48 is a brilliant break
Video: Guys in nature.

Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know
Music: Starts very Darwin Deezy
Video: Young guys and gymnasts

Maps & Atlases - Living Decorations
Music: Old video, but the music is too good not to share
Video: Fake band playing

Herman Dune - Tell Me Something I Don't Know
Music: Vintage Herman
Video: By far the coolest video of today, also great that it's on Funnyordie, hitchhiking with a yeti! And yes, that's Jon Hamm.

Joy Formidable - Whirring
Music: Melodic noise is possible
Video: Let's move into a strange house

Beastie Boys - Make Some Noisehttp:
Music: Beastie Boys
Video: A legendary video already: Seth Rogan, Danny McBride and Frodo playing the Beasties, can you count the celebs?

The King Blues - Set The World On Fire
Music: Skarockpoprappunkpolitical
Video: Band playing and other stuff

The National - Think You Can Wait
Music: if you don't know the National there's something wrong with you
Video: For a movie, with funny bits

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quarterlife Crisis

Around the age of 25 men start to look at their life and start wondering where they stand. Comparisons come with other people of their age and with their parents at that age. Children, work, still studying, it’s all different but you can’t help comparing. Robin Pecknold is like all of us, realizing in the first line of the new album “Helplessness Blues” that his parents already had a kid. He is just back with his girlfriend and finally released the long awaited follow-up to the eponymous debut.

The beautiful title track explains a lot of his thinking of his place in the world, as a ‘cog’. A song with questions that everyone has at one point in their life. Who am I and what is that world outside really like. Realization comes in ‘Lorelai’: “so, guess I got old, I was like trash on the sidewalk”. “Helplessness Blues” is an album with more questions than clearcut answers, or as Pecknold sings in ‘Blue Spotted Tail’: “Why is life made only for to end?”.

Musically the album gives us nothing new. Expanding on the sound of the debut along the lines of all the great westcoast folkies from the 60’s and 70’s: Byrds, Beach Boys (the opening bars of ‘Lorelai’, Neil Young etc. The focus is on his vocals, harmony background vocals and acoustic instruments. While lacking the radio “hits” it features some future classics in “Battery Kinzie”, the title track and “Someone You’d Amire” which should be able to silence a crowd of 80.000. The sound worked on the first one, it does so again on the second.

The real strides have been taken in Pecknold’s songwriting. “Helplessness Blues” is a much more personal and mature record that for people in the same age group might be at times confronting but also rewarding. So I wasn’t alone when I thought those things that spun around in my head.

I was still mucking about at university at the age Pecknold and his Fleet Foxes made an impressive second album. Best album of 2011 so far. It’s been worth the wait and questions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

Britain always seem to give birth to a few new exiting new bands every year. The Vaccines are the next in the list with their fun and short album “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?”. Did we expect a 1:22 rolling song? Well I didn’t but it’s a great start to the album that is full of youthful energy.
The album is full of relatively easy songs with incredibly catchy sing-along choruses in double choruses reminiscent of the Fratellis. Most of their influences seem to lie in New York however. The Ramones and sixties Brill Building give a fresh vibe that’s hard to miss. The Ramones of the 21st century The Strokes aren’t missed either in the suave ‘A Lack of Understanding”. That’s it’s not just punk and post-punk is clear in the fragile ‘Wetsuit’ with it’s thumping drums and vocal lines could be a Vampire Weekend song.
This is a fine debut, fun, fresh and short. Don’t expect anything new but if you want a happy 30 minutes in your life this album is for you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Explorer 15, April 28th

New tracks you all should listen to: J Mascis, a brilliant new Death Cab for Cutie song and new work by Arctic Monkeys and Strokes

Here's the link to the playlist

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Papercuts - Fading Parade

Dream pop keeps producing new fine records and Papercuts latest disc ‘Fading Parade’ is another keeper. Beach House set the standard last year with the excellent ‘Teen Dream’ and Papercuts adds another to the list.

From the opener “Do You Really Wanna Know” (a slowed down Drums song) on we can hear the soft, almost muffled production and the double tracked hazy vocals. “I’ll See You Later I Guess” starts off as a baroque 60s song fitting the Zombies and Procul Harum mold before melding into more Beach Housy stuff. When we mention Beach House we have to point out the great track “Wait Till I’m Dead”.

The voice, though weak, is perfect for the music but it is a good thing the album is as long as it is. More would become too boring and bring the album down. His voice is in the high range and sometimes sounds like Nico.

‘Fading Parade’ is a good example for a Dream Pop album. It doesn’t break any musical boundaries and is too similar to other, and better, bands in the genre, but ‘Fading Parade’ might nevertheless end up on some end-of-the-year lists.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Explorer 15, April 10th 2011

Time doesn't permit me anymore to make lists, so from now on every time I find 15 new tracks worth sharing I will post it here.

Airborne Toxic Event – Numb
Music: Oh how we late them.
Video: WEE favorites ATE with their latest video, Negative shots with cut frames in color.

Braids – Plath Heart
Music: Grizzly Bear with a female voice
Video: eeuh, are they following a snake or a mole or something?

DEV – Bass Down Low
Music: OK, definitely not a Wide Explorer Song at first listen, but I can’t resist the bassline…
Video: People we will never meet at a party we will never be invited to

Dodos – Black Night
Music: Dodos, if you don’t know them by now check out all their music. People can still be inventive drummers these days
Video: Black & White, artful play on Fight Club maybe

Emma’s Imagination – Brighter Greener
Music: This is going to be some 14 year old girl’s first song she knows how to play on the guitar.
Video: Who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon on a bed in a pond?

Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
Music: Don’t pass them off too fast as a slower Drums clone, though they actually might be.
Video: Band playing, road trip shots.

Happy Camper – Born With A Bothered Mind
Music: Soulful, Jazzy, Laidback, Jack Johnson stuff. Another great track released by Holland’s Premier indie label Excelsio
Video: A Cartoon about camping, showing once more that cartoon videos usually work.

Kraak & Smaak – Dynamite
Music: Excellent Dutch Dance Track
Video: Holland seems to be giving us the best videos this week. Spinning turntable graphics.

Okkervil River – Wake And Be Fine
Music: Smart song again, maybe their most accessible song with which I hope they reacher a bigger audience.
Video: Band playing, but with some nice color schemes, background video and effects.

Papercuts – Do You Really Wanna Know
Music: Another Sub Pop gem. Reverb high on all instruments and strum away. Atmospheric vocals make for a brilliant pop track.
Video: Just them playing.

Pete and the Pirates – Come to the Bar
Music: Going the Horror’s way it seems, chorus is pure Pete and the Pirates.
Video: A singing fish!

Primitives – Rattle My Cage
Music: They’ve been around for a while. Primal Scream stomping beat with a slightly disappointing chorus.
Video: Let’s see what video effects I can do with my pc! Also, singers who point at the audience while singing about ‘you’ should usually be automatically dq’ed, but I’m in a good mood.

PS I Love You – Get Over
Music: Choppy, distorted Canadian awesomeness by a bearded spectacled guy.
Song: At a party, watching hockey, doing karaoke with their own songs. Frat party stuff including the puking.
The Vaccines – If You Wanna
Music: 2011 is Vaccines year! They didn’t even reinvent the wheel but oh what fun!
Video: Band playing

Young Knives - Love My Name
Music: Choppy chord changes by boring Englishmen who make excellent songs, classic song in the making.
Video: Band playing

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Explorer 23 for March 10

01 -- 1 The National - Conversation 16
02 02 2 Radiohead - Lotus Flower
03 01 2 The Walkmen - While I Shovel The snow
04 04 2 Does it offend you, Yeah? - Monkeys are coming
05 03 2 The Vaccines - Wreckin' Bar
06 -- 1 Airborne Toxic Event - Changing
07 06 2 Bright Eyes - Shell Games
08 05 2 Cold War Kids – Louder Than Ever
09 08 2 British Sea Power - Living Is So Easy
10 -- 1 The Thermals - Not Like Any Other Feeling
11 13 2 Smith Westerns – Weekend
12 23 2 Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down
13 10 2 Hercules and Love Affair - My House
14 07 2 Black Keys – Howlin’ For You
15 11 2 Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
16 19 2 The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness
17 -- 1 Wanda Jackson feat. Jack White - Thunder On The Mountain
18 -- 1 Vivian Girls - I Heard You Say
19 09 2 Crystal Fighters – At Home
20 -- 1 The Wombats - Anti-D
21 22 2 Lyrebirds – Now I Know Why
22 -- 1 Those Dancing Days - I'll be Yours
23 15 2 The Streets – Going Through Hell

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Explorer 23 For March 1st

It's back! Every ten days a new list there will be.

01 The Walkmen - While I Shovel The Snow
Snow won't be falling anymore this year, the Walkmen melancholy sounds will make it melt

02 Radiohead - Lotus Flower
Thom Yorke can also dance, if the entire new album is like this another classic

03 The Vaccines - Wreckin' Bar
Name a better song this year that clocks in under a minute and a half

04 Does it offend you, Yeah? - Monkeys are coming
Don't you love videos that start with a guy cutting his nose hair?

05 Cold War Kids – Louder Than Ever
A band with their own sound and a kickass chorus.

06 Bright Eyes – Shell Games
Conor can write songs, didn’t you know that already?

07 Black Keys – Howlin’ For You
The song gets a little snowed under in this video that looks more like a trailer.

08 British Sea Power - Living Is So Easy
Or why Valhalla Dancehall might be the best album of 2011 so far

09 Crystal Fighters – At Home
Seriously cool Spaniards

10 Hercules and Love Affair - My House
Early 90’s house with video to match

11 Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
So did she kill the guy?

12 Lupe Fiasco – The Show Goes On
Any hiphopper sampling Modest Mouse should always be in the list.

13 Smith Westerns – Weekend
3 guys with axes go shopping

14 Frankie & The Heartstrings – Hunger
Jack Morgan strokes cats and likes good music

15 The Streets – Going Through Hell
Is this really the end of the Streets? Sad day.

16 MF/MB/ - Seconds Away
Not a video for people with tree phobias

17 Cloud Nothings - Should Have
Another great 90s shoegaze throwback

18 Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young Man
Ok, these guys have been recording the same song over and over, but why shouldn’t you when the song’s good

19 The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness
The Legends return

20 Young the Giant - My Body
Don’t you think the guy in the video looks like The Tallest Man on Earth?

21 The Partysquad & Reverse ft. Gers, Adje & Jayh - Ik Ga Hard
Don’t know why I like this, but I do.

22 Lyrebirds – Now I Know Why
I Don’t know anything about this band, just that I like this song a lot.

23 Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down
So is the elephant named Cage, or do they want to lock up the animal?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buy One, Get One Free!

Freelance Whales and Broken Records in de Melkweg, February 9th

Why both bands were on the same bill is still a mystery but America's Freelance Whales and Scotland's Broken Records played the old Melkweg room last wednesday. Different bands with a different sound. But if you liked both bands it was 2 for the price of 1.

Freelance Whales debut "Weathervanes" is a rich, smart album in line with other Ivy League groups like Vampire Weekend, Bishop Allen, MGMT etc. Wellcrafted songs, good lyrics and use of instruments that don't fit the standard rock format. Xylophones, keyboards, harmonies. Freelance Whales' strength is the quality of their songs that are full of MGMT/Clap Your Hands easy but effective keyboard licks mixed with some Vampire Weekend doing Graceland, Sufjan Steven's melody lines and Postal Service interplay of keyboards and vocals. It's not an overpowering rock band but a group of people who want the songs the speak for themselves, and they do.

Different and effective in a very different manner are Broken Records from Scotland. They have been around a little while longer and that shows with a mature set. Touring in support of their latest, and great, album they showed that good songs can be made great if played right. Singer Jamie Sutherland's contact with the audience was engaging and confident. Funny stories about German interviews followed. Broken Records are one of the many amazing bands coming out of Scotland with a similar style and emotionality; We Were Promised Jetpacks, Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit to name but a few. Broken Records has the addition of a violion that thanks to use of pedals never becomes a classic edition but an extra layer of sound.

Both bands might have had little in common, but seeing both live shows the many faces of rock and roll and the power of alternative music today.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Airborne Toxic Event is camping out in Amsterdam

Singing more than 350 times about your ex-girlfriend should make any guy miserable. But writing ‘Sometime Around Midnight’ and performing it every one of those shows has brought Mikel Jollett and his colleagues in the Airborne Toxic Event all over the world touring for their eponymous debut album.
April will see the release of the second Airborne Toxic Event album but while looking in their schedule the band noticed a large white space in February. So they booked some rooms, took their gear and are now, as they themselves put it, camping out in Europe. This means that apart from some single shows they will have residencies in a few European major cities. Every Monday night they will play in Paradiso’s upstairs room.
It’s always great to see band that enjoys playing, numerous times Jollett mentioned it was great to be somewhere far from home (which would be Los Angeles) but be with a lot of people. The room was almost at full capacity, and I guess it will be the same the next three shows. Playing smaller venues seem to be more enjoyable for bands as well than one big impersonal hall.
If the concert is anything to go by the new album will have some songs however that won’t be as great as on the debut. It will also be a little heavier in content, as a beautiful song about soldiers in war showed. That the band really enjoyed themselves was obvious from the very long encore which even included a great medley of Bruce Springsteen’s “On Fire”, Bobby Fueller’s “I Fought The Law” and Johnny Cash’ “Folsom Prison”.
So if you want to see an indie band that loves playing for under ten euros, get a ticket for any of the three remaining Airborn Toxic Event shows.

Some more songs:
Happiness is Overrated