Friday, January 21, 2011

Brown Recluse - Impressions of a City Morning

Anyone who emulates the Zombies and sounds this good doing it is fine by me.
Brown Recluse "Impressions of a City Morning" by Slumberland Records

It's Friday night, I just got off work, and I'm making Funfetti cookies with this song on repeat. Am I lame in a new city, or just damn awesome?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Dodos - No Color

The Dodos have found their Avatar. Visiter, their 2007 sophomore release, may have been their Titanic, putting them on the charts. But two albums later, they are back with an opus that is so vividly three-dimensional, you don’t need glasses (or headphones). The San Francisco duo’s strength has always centered on a syncopated drumbeat that ropes its way into the body and around the heart. It sneaks into hidden pockets of their songs, shocking layers of guitar to life. Whereas Visiter has a more hollow, bare-boned core, and their 2009 follow-up, Time to Die, seems calming in comparison, No Color fleshes out the feral, tribal percussion with layers of guitar. The gaps and holes in the songs are gone, yet the ear can still catch every nuance without feeling extra clutter.

More than ever, the tone of the new record is menacing. Meric Long’s acoustic finger picking is coated with jarring bursts of electric fuzz. Simple vocal melodies are at the core of the best songs on No Color. “When Will You Go” is striking in its melancholy beauty. Logan Kroeber weaves a thumping backdrop to the verses, allowing them room to breathe, and aggressively thrashes forward between them. Long imitates Rodrigo y Gabriela’s dexterous guitar playing on “Don’t Stop” and “Companions,” fingers flying across the strings like a flickering fire.

With every measure, The Dodos contradict the album’s title. No Color has a bright vibrancy, a sense of movement rare in non-dance music. “Sleep” is the ultimate anthem for insomniacs, seemingly conveying the simultaneous frustrations and excitement of being awake long after everyone else. You get the idea these guys thrive on late-night ideas, channeling creative forces at odd hours. Rather than envisioning blue aliens, though, Long and Kroeber have found living, breathing incarnations of their musical compositions. And it’s an otherworldly pleasure.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


but when did the Dodos become Gabriela y Rodrigo?!

listening to an advance copy of No Color, and i seem to have fallen in love with the ridiculously quick guitar picking. the tribal drumming madness is a given, but THIS?! good, folks. good.

Zero Plans, Multiply Nostalgia by 7

There was a time I used to sit underneath my lofted bunk bed in a skinny dorm room in the corner of the second floor of a quaint building in Athens, Ohio. I mostly tried to adjust. It was the beginning of college... my roommate was spending time with her girlfriend, and I was usually alone. I had friends, but it was the beginning of this new journey for me, and on weeknights, I had to get some work done. I would sit there, a giant desktop computer that the school lent to freshmen taking up most of my space. The printer, which sat beside it, took up the rest of the desk. I used it as my coffee table. I would sit two water bottles next to one another on the printer, and the occasional cookie I had stolen from the dining hall.

I was never really a group studier. I spent most of those nights alone.

Music was my company, as it is today. Friday night, past midnight, I find myself once again in a new city with few friends.

Zero 7. I don't remember how I first heard of them, but I spent a lot of time with them those first couple years of college. Later, I would find Pitchfork, and read scathing reviews that belittle their work. It was a long time ago that I cared to do this, and I can't remember much except that they called Zero 7 lazy and boring. Point taken. I disagree. I was disappointed in that assessment.

You see, this was, to me, the perfect accompaniment for a lonely night. Slightly uplifting, contemplative... the music seems to hint that they are about to stumble upon something... it's an exploration of some sort.

"Somersault," I thought (and still do) was one of the sweetest love songs. Maybe it's a little cheesy, but I don't care. This is coming from a girl whose favorite love songs include the cheesiest - Stars' "My Favourite Book" and The Cardigans' "For What It's Worth." (I think I'm just focusing on female-fronted love songs at the moment, but you get the point.)

When I feel the unknown
You feel like home, you feel like home

You put my feet back on the ground
Did you know you brought me around
You were sweet and you were sound
You saved me

I mean, come on.

I remember getting a 4 track EP that previewed their 2006 album, The Garden. I was in a music meeting for ACRN, and I grabbed it before anyone else could. Sia sings "Throw it All Away." This song still gets me carried away.

I accidentally stumbled upon it today, and it was sort of a hidden blessing. Life repeats itself, and here I am, trying to sort things out again.

So I sit, at a white desk, in a cold room that smells vaguely of smoke, where the echoes of the baby that lives in the apartment downstairs sometimes travels up through the floor. I sit, with a small laptop, and bottle of water on the desk next to me, alongside a container of hummus and bag of crackers. I wonder what I'm going to do this weekend. I think about the work ahead of me. And somehow, I know it's all going to be ok.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hooray for Earth - True Loves

Sometimes I like music to be a little rough around the edges, and I think Sleigh Bells proved that to me this year. Hooray for Earth is this suddenly exploding machine of music makers. They sort of sound like they recorded this song in the middle of a cave with some electric razors and a really fun beat.

You need a song every now and then that you know you'd swagger to when walking down the street with headphones on. Now that I live in corporate America, on the busiest effing street in Louisville, I don't really anticipate myself walking around with headphones on the side of a 6-lane street... but you know, a girl can dream.

This song is as easily bad-ass as it is sensitive. Random piercing electronic noises spike up from a skittering beat. Vocals are kind of lethargic, the feeling is sort of communal (let's get all of our friends, stand on a beach, and start a drum circle... if you know what I mean), and it's spaced-out enough to create some kind of distance from the listener. Sort of cold. Which works in this chilling weather, I think.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Surprise Culture Shockwave

Hey! I moved South, but I kinda wish I moved East... all the way to Japan.

Check out this gooey twee pop goodness from Tokyo.

Shugo Tokumaru plays all his own instruments (wikipedia estimates about 100, but I doubt that) and he's kind of brilliant. I'm not going to lie, this isn't the first time I've wished I was Asian.

Come on, how does this not make you super happy?

And if you want to go to the other end of the spectrum and just feel really bummed out, check this shiz out.

Pretty sure it's impossible to hate on Dan Auerbach. I aspire to be his female version, minus the whiskey drinking, depression, and beard. Then again, if you're gonna be a bearded whiskey drinker, Dan Auerbach is really the way to go.