New Music From Sóley

Happy Wednesday kids!  Today we’ve got a tune for you from Icelandic artist Sóley, who some of you may recognize from indie veteran bands Sin Fang and Seabear.  This is the first solo record from the typically quiet singer songwriter and a taste of her progressive style can be found below.  The new song “I’ll Drown”, appears on debut LP We Sink out October 4th on Morr Music.  Interested parties should also check out an intimate video of Sóley performing new song “The Sun is Going Down (pt. 2)” over on Vimeo.


Download: Soley – I’ll Drown [MP3]

Show Preview: The Men @ Emos (9/1)

Date Thursday, Sept. 1st
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $8 from Ticketweb

This year I seem to be in the mood to really rock, or at least to mildly rock, in so much as I just can’t go full-on metal.  That being said, one of the band’s I’ve really enjoyed is NY’s The Men (not to be confused with the Le Tigre side-project).  They’ll be bringing their bit of raucous noise our way in support of their latest album Leave Home, which came out earlier this year on Sacred Bones. Also, another excellent band on the bill is Grave Babies, who have just put out a nice little 7″ by our dear friends over at Hardly Art.  As the season begins to really pick up steam for rock n’ roll, this is just as good a place as any to get your rocks on.


Download: The Men – Bataille [MP3]

Am & Shawn Lee – Celestial Electric

Rating: ★★★★☆

Originally a solo artist, AM hails from America, bringing the diverse sound that you would expect from someone who was raised New Orleans. Producing music steadily built upon the mixture of Americana folk pop as well as various R&B elements, he already had a whole lot of genre conglomeration going on before he decided that he would collaborate with London acclaimed groove master, Shawn Lee, on this album. What one would think is far too many different kinds of sound to be packed into one album, but the result is surprisingly refreshing.

First, let me just say, do not be intimidated by the size of this album. At fifteen tracks, with the medium range time around three and a half minutes, Celestial Electric comes in at around an hour total, which to me, sounded like I was going to be bored by the final track; I mean come on, how much electronic beats can you dish out without repeating yourself? However, I was stunned at the variety and these two’s ability to keep things fresh pretty much consistently through the fifty four minute long album.

With any preconceived notions about electronica, or anything else out of the way, let’s get to the actual music. Celestial Electric opens on an instrumental track, “Dillon’s Song,” which is by no means brief, but also by no means boring. It’s a lovely little groove, which builds the whole way from a funky bass line. The next track is “I Didn’t Really Listen,” another groovy beat that will make you sway in the verses and party dance in the choruses/breaks from the normal serene beat. Overall, it sort of sounds like a mellowed and more electronically driven Phoenix, which is a connection probably made on the vocals, which are most similar.

So, introduced to this massive mix of genres, you continue your trek through these waves of chill, each track inducing some head bobbing, and maybe a little shimmy-shaking—if you’re feeling it especially. For me, someone who doesn’t normally get along too well with dancey music, this feels different. Each song pulls me in, making it hard to skip a song. Sure, there are some real standouts, like the early “City Boy, ” which combines a sweet guitar base with a falsetto chorus that will have you crooning right along. Or even “Promises Are Never Far From Lies,” which is perhaps the grooviest track on here, bringing those handclap sounds and the made for dancing synth meanderings.

All in all, Celestial Electric is as its name would suggest—a stunning and ridiculously enticing slew of electronic beats. Give it a try before you knock it.


Download: AM & Shawn Lee – Dark Into Light [MP3]

New Music From Sea Pinks

Ah yes, that old familiar new band smell is in the air today with a new tune called “Fountain Tesserae” from UK outfit Sea Pinks.  The new project is fronted by a familiar face in the form of Neil Brogan who spends most of his musical time in indie hit makers Girls Names.  Neil’s new project has a debut LP Dead Seas ready for release physically and digitially on September 6th via CF/Records.


Download: Sea Pinks – Fountain Tesserae [MP3]

Total Babes – Swimming Through Sunlight

Rating: ★★★☆☆

When press first came out for Total Babes, a lot of attention was given to the fact that it featured a member of Cloud Nothings, and to a certain extent, that’s a fair association, as the similarities are definitely visible. However, Swimming Through Sunlight, the band’s debut on Old Flame Records isn’t just a re-imagining; it stand up on its own merit.

If you’re looking for a catchy lo-fi hook, you won’t have to look beyond the first song, as “Like They Always Do” features a chorus that grabs you while the noise distortion swells in the background.  It’s a quick hammering, not staying around too long for fear of giving you a little bit too much sugar. But, while this shares that affinity for noisy-garage pop a la the aforementioned association, the next track, “Be So Sure” shows resemblance to another lo-fi pop band, The Thermals (it’s not just me is it?).  Perhaps the vocals could be cleaned up a bit more on the recording, but it definitely has that sweetness mixed nicely with a bit of excessive noise, just like Hutch would want it.

One of the best things about listening to Swimming Through Sunlight is that you can see various touches of the modern musical landscape, but the inherent melodies and songwriting enable to group to move beyond pure mockery.  “Someone to Blame” sounds an awful like Wavves at their best, even featuring a similar lyrical style, using simple words to convey a message.  I suppose that various sources can knock the group for a lack of originality, but you can easily look beyond that once you get to the core of the songs.  They’re not too long, giving you just a taste of their glory, then moving on, asking you to revisit at a later point.

Personally, I would like to see Total Babes revisit the studio with a bit more of a polish and sheen.  For instance, there’s a brightness to the opening guitar line in “Without Your Heart,” but that clarity eventually parts for a grittier sound.  This isn’t entirely a bad thing, as it serves its purpose in a great deal of the tracks featured on the record, but a certain sharpness could really propel these songs to the next level.  Even in the closer, “Tip of My Tongue,” there’s this incredible element of pop, but it’s buried so far beneath the mix that it comes off sounding more like a demo than a final product.  It’s the slightest difference between an incredible song and just a really good one.

All in all, Swimming Through Sunlight is full of bright spots, and its clear that the songwriting is far more than just your moderate fare, but Total Babes still have a bit of work to do in the finished product.  Clear vocals here, bit of distortion removed there, and you’ve got a wonderful record full of memorable hooks, sing-a-long moments, and enough power to kick the rest of the genre in the face; looking forward to that day!


Download: Total Babes – Be So True [MP3]

New Music From Southerly

Here’s a new song called “Without A Cause” from Portland, OR based band Southerly.  Those unfamiliar with the group should know that it’s basically a straight up side project from Portland based songwriter Krist Krueger.  This track will appear on a new upcoming album from the band Youth due out September 20th on Greyday Records.  It’s got a great driving rock sound.


Download: Southerly – Without A Cause [MP3]

Show Preview: Olivia Tremor Control @ the Mohawk (8/31)

Date Wednesday, August 31st
Location Mohawk
Doors 630PM
Tickets $10 from Frontgate

If you’ve been listening to indie rock for the last two decades or so, you’ve probably heard of Olivia Tremor Control.  They’re part of the Elephant 6, the collective that spawned Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal.  They’ll even have Music Tapes opening the show, another band associated with NMH.  Now, Jeff Mangum probably won’t be there, but you’ll still get to see a bit of history, not to mention some great music.

If you’re not into the band’s sound, you can also catch local acts such as Grape St. or Leatherbag rocking across town as well.


Download: Oliva Tremor Control – Holiday Surprise 1 [MP3]

Beirut – The Rip Tide

Rating: ★★★½☆

Although Beirut first stepped onto the musical scene five years ago, front man Zach Condon had been making music for much longer. In fact, Condon had been writing and producing music since he was a wee lad, holed up in his bedroom. So it was no real change to his life when he started producing music that others would hear; all the songs on his debut just felt like the hundreds of other songs he had already furnished. Audibly, this means a certain intimacy from the start, one that caught the attention of a large number of fans of this band, and one that continues to hold the attention of indie music aficionados with The Rip Tide.

The first song, “A Candle’s Fire,” starts off with some quiet accordion and then jumps right in to the horn’s ablazin’, jangly, folk pop that they do so well. After a brief instrumental interlude, Condon’s deep, yet alluringly nasal tones chime in, and the song carries on, backed by the rolling, marching band-sounding drums. It’s a good opening number, but it is no “Santa Fe,” or “East Harlem,” the two songs that follow it, which happen to feel like the singles for the album, as they stand out from the rest of the tracks on The Rip Tide. “Santa Fe” has synth backing that weirdly fits in with the classic instruments that Beirut introduced you to on their recent EP’s. “East Harlem,” the third track on the album, plays with the cohesive elements of Beirut’s normal sound, by having choppy percussion and constant piano carry the song.

Sadly, as this record progresses, it does not climax as all good records should, but simmers to its mediocre end. When I say mediocre with this band, it does not really mean the classic definition of boring and blegh that may apply to other music. For Beirut, a mediocre track means one that is still significantly better than what most bands produce, but with the expectations that I have for them, the tracks fall a little flat. There just isn’t that explosion into new territory that will blow a new or old listener away.

If you’ve listened to anything that Beirut has produced prior to this record, and liked it, then you will find that you will probably like this just as much. Sonically, this band doesn’t really go anywhere that far away from previous efforts, but this should not be a deterring factor; the group doesn’t go in a negative direction either.  The result is a collection of songs, some better than others, which should fit nicely into your regular listening queue.


Download: Beirut – New Harlem [MP3]

More New Music From Gem Club

Here’s another new chill single called “Twins” from recent Hardly Art pickup Gem Club.  I’ll admit that I was at first reluctant to give in to the swooning voice of Christopher Barnes, but I’m now coming back to his John Lamonica style vocals more and more.  As we previously mentioned, debut LP from Gem ClubDreamers, is due out September 17th on Hardly Art.  Give it a listen.


Download: Gem Club – Twins [MP3]

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