New Video & Single From Chad VanGaalen

Last month we received news Chad Vangaalen about his highly anticipated new album finally coming in September. We’ve since heard one single from the album called “Old Heads”, and today Chad has another beauty for us to enjoy. This one is entitled “Pine and Clover” and features a somewhat creepy, yet still cool animated video of Chad’s always unique and distinct drawings. The song itself is of course full of subtle power and beauty typical of what we’ve come to expect over the years. He’s still got it.

Light Information is due out on September 8th via Sub Pop (pre-order now).

Chad Vangaalen – Shrink Dust

Chad-VanGaalen-Shrink-Dust-608x608Rating: ★★★½☆

Shrink Dust is the fifth release from Chad Vangaalen, so you’re likely to know what you’re getting into when you press play.  You’ll find bits of ambling noise and samples, but most importantly you’ll find the heartfelt vocals that make Chad’s music so enticing.  In fact, this is how things start off here, which captured my attention immediately.

“Cut Off My Hands” begins with a calmly picked guitar, recorded in a manner that lets you hear Vangaalen slide his fingers up and down the fret board.  Then he enters with a stunning vocal performance; it’s the perfect pitch to fit the sound of his guitar, though I’ll admit the track gets a little bit muddy with excess touches of noise.  It’s similar in structure to what you’ll get when you press play on “Lila,” another down-trodden tune that’s dominated by its simplicity.  A slight touch of gang backing vocals and a solid guitar solo elevate this song just a touch, leaving it as one of my favorites on Shrink Dust.  But, as many listeners will note, the guitar/voice combo is not the only area where Chad Vangaalen excels in his songwriting.

Lately, he’s had a knack for incorporating multiple layers of sound into his tracks, building on top of a very simple song structure.  Your first venture into this arena comes via “Where Are You;” this song features an affected vocal that adds a bit of an echo, while there’s a wash of floating noise that goes atop it all.  His vocal delivery of the chorus of “where are you” borders slightly on the psychedelic vein, but not nearly as much as he opts for with the guitar sound on “Leaning on Bells.”  Chad adds a little bit of bounce with the trudging guitar lines, but the way the syllables are drawn out on the lyrics is definitely reminiscent of the modern psych touch.  Yet, what supersedes any of this is that Chad Vangaalen has quite a diverse sound in the grand scheme of things.

“Monster,” another of my personal favorites, has this warble to it. A wavering vocal if you will.  But there’s a swelling chorus that adds a perfect bit of pop to the fold.  And while that song operates in the ballad format, it’s followed by the more folk oriented piece titled “Evil.”  And just as that finishes, you’re off into the previously mentioned psych track, “Leaning on Bells.”  For my two cents, that’s what makes listening to Shrink Dust so ultimately rewarding: none of these songs sound exactly like the one before it, though they’re all obviously related in theme and sound. Chad Vangaalen isn’t going to give you the same song twice, so you’re likely to spend hours listening here without getting labored by too many like-minded numbers.  A little bit of time with this record, and you’ll be swearing on the Vangaalen bible.


Download: Chad VanGaalen – Monster [MP3]

Alvvays Sign to Polyvinyl Records

Processed with VSCOcamI was reluctant for a few moments to post this track from Alvvays; it didn’t hit me immediately.  But, I gave it a few more spins, enjoying the wall of guitars in the far off distance.  That’s when the voice of Molly Rankin really struck me, and I’ve been unable to turn this damned song off.  Musically, the song’s offering your standard fare of dreamy indie pop, but Rankin has this remarkable voice that’s reminiscent of Mazzy Star; I honestly cannot pull myself away from this voice.  The band have just signed on to release their album with Polyvinyl Records; it’s produced by Chad VanGaalen, a personal fave of mine.

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Love Me Some Chad VanGaalen

chadhiresThe great thing about running ATH is all the different personalities that help make this site go.  When it comes to Chad VanGaalen, I’ll admit that RayRay and I wholeheartedly disagree.  RayRay says it’s not his bag, and I get that, but I just love the dude, especially this new song, “Monster.”  There’s a bit of a warble in the vocals, which is part of the draw to me; I like that sort of affectation, particularly when the lyrical content is clever, as you’ll see when you listen to the tune.  His new record is titled Shrink Dust, and you’ll be able to get your hands on a copy on April 29th, courtesy of Sub Pop.  Listen to why I love this man below.



Chad VanGaalen – Diaper Island

Rating: ★★★★☆

Without a lot of prior  knowledge in regards to Chad VanGaalen, I pressed play on this album with the notion I would be hearing cheeky punk beats. When an album is named Diaper Island, I can’t help but feel like there is supposed to be edgy and not-so-dramatic tunes to be listened to. I was shocked upon listening to hear the beautifully meditative craft that has been spun for us. Perhaps I’m jumping on this man’s bandwagon a little late; he does have other album releases dating back to 200, but still, this Shins, yet darker, sound is really enticing.

Despite the first two songs being all right, the one that got me hooked was “Burning Photographs,” the third track. It starts out with some cloudy ambience, and then jumps right into that catchy guitar and soft percussion that has me classifying it as jangly pop/rock and will have you bobbing your head and tapping your feet. VanGaalen’s voice is perfectly sharp and produced to fill the space not already taken by the groovy beat. At this point, I started to listen with extra-keen ears, hoping that more songs like this would grace Diaper Island. Luckily, I was right.

“Heavy Stones” follows, slowing down the album after the last song. While “Burning Photographs” was explosive and sharp, “Heavy Stones” is contained and meditative. On this one, the vocals remind me of those of Tony Dekker from Great Lake Swimmers, but that may just be due to their shared Canadian origins. Regardless, it is a song that presents its calm-sounding self to listeners, luring us into the peaceful sounds, only so it can break our hearts when VanGaalen croons, “I can’t remember your name” during the height of the song. “Sara” continues this calm spin on things, but the vocals have taken more of front spot for this number, becoming the main aspect.

After being introduced to two very different styles this early on the album, you can’t help but wonder if it is going to be a continuation of variety, or if the artist will pick a side in their styling’s. This man is different in that he does not; Diaper Island becomes a culmination of jangle and soothing, with “No Panic / No Heat” serving as the song that ties both sides together into one. The rest of the album continues in this fashion, and at the end, I was quite impressed; there are a lot of stunning qualities that I was missing out on in Mr. VanGaalen.


Download: Chad VanGaalen – Sara [MP3]

New Music from Chad VanGaalen

Man, I absolutely love listening to Chad Vangaalen’s voice, especially on this new recording.  He just put up a sweet little Your Tan Looks Supernatural EP on his bandcamp page to help out with relief efforts in Japan, and now we have another track from his upcoming record, Diaper Island.  Not so sure about the album title, but if the tracks sound as sweet as this one, no one will mind.  You can get your hands on this upcoming masterpiece on May 19th, via our good friends over at Sub Pop.  This lead single, “Sara,” has that gentle quality in voice that always goes with one of Chad’s recordings, and musically, well, he can’t do much wrong. Take a peak.


Download: Chad VanGaalen – Sara [MP3]

Top 40 Songs Of The Year

So when we thought making an albums of the year post was hard, this one proved to be even harder.  How do you take literally thousands of songs and narrow it down to the best 40 of the year?  Not too sure how to answer that question, but we tried.  Each of these songs scream 2008 in our ears.  As evident by this list, the year in music was quite a good one and we had some tough choices to make.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you or links to the song on youtube.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite tune of the year made the list.

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