Those damn English have been sheltering Nedry from America for too long! After self-releasing this gorgeous debut album in 2009, Monotreme Records (65daysofstatic’s long-time home) picked up the rights and gave it a proper UK release back in February, with a Stateside release this past April 20th.

It’s about time. Nedry’s lush sound, courtesy of producers Matt Parker and Chris Amblin, pulls from just about everywhere in British electronica and unites it all under the banner of vocalist Ayu Okakita. Shooting for the moon and landing somewhere between Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, her dreamy, sensual musings tie every sub-bass wobble, acoustic guitar sample, and glitched rhythm together in a sumptuous package.

Condors covers an almost frightening amount of sonic ground over its spartan 8-track, 31 minute runtime. ‘A42’ opens amongst a flurry of glitches and distant pads, before Okakita’s croon and an ever-satisfying oscillating dubstep bass line hit at the same moment and take the steering wheel. ‘Apples & Pears’ follows a somewhat similar pattern, with an acoustic guitar sewing a thread amongst the melancholy vocal line until the song’s distinctly Burial-esque midsection drops in something like an evil turn in an otherwise pleasant dream.

After a quick and pretty ambient interlude, Condors makes its first left turn with the introduction of some menacing distortion and the first electric guitars on ‘Squid Cat Battle’. Okakita pulls off a surprisingly convincing La Roux impression and, while the song comes in danger of slipping a few times, mostly holds intact. The angry streak continues onto the instrumental track ‘Scattered’, a vicious burner much in the style of labelmates 65daysofstatic, but with a fervor and energy we haven’t seen from that band since the middle of the decade. The title track returns to the more trip-hop/dubstep influence of the first part of the album, but with a renewed urgency in the drum programming and a late electric guitar appearance.

Condors ends on a high note, with the aptly titled ‘Swan Ocean’s lilting, melodic grace calling to mind the earlier works of Four Tet or Dntel. As always, Ayu carries the track with a quiet confidence. Glitchy instrumental closer ‘Where The Dead Birds Go’ is a fitting bookend; a landing strip where you can check for all your belongings and marvel at the fact that you’ve only been soaring the skies for a mere half-hour.

Very rarely are debut albums this adventurous and confident. Don’t miss out on this one.

FOR FANS OF: Portishead, Burial, Massive Attack, 65daysofstatic

WATCH: ‘Swan Ocean’

LISTEN: ‘A42’

PURCHASE from Monotreme Records

Brian B.

Caddywhompus - Remainder

Since the blog has turned over a new leaf in terms of download sharing, I’d like to have my first post in this new era be a post that has a free album download. As Brian mentioned a few posts ago, we get our fair share of submitted music into our inboxes, and most of this free music gets a listen, but few of these get a second listen. In this case, self proclaimed “noise-pop” duo Caddywhompus sent me a link to their new release Remainder, and it had a free download link attached. While the term “noise-pop” had my cringing a bit at first, the music itself was not as cringe inducing. Although some of the song titles are. Well, maybe just “balloon knot.” Anyways, on to the music. Imagine the singer from Band of Horses, hanging out with the guys from Animal Collective and Lightning Bolt, but right before they head into the studio they go to the circus and a carnival…and have loads of cotton candy and jolt cola. The result is a truly fun album that keeps the energy up while not sacrificing on musicality. This is surprisingly organic for something labeled as “noise-pop” and while there is a great deal of synth work on the album it boils down to a classic guitar based rock band with a great sense of fun and an attention to the craft of “noise-pop.” And yes there is one. How do you add distortion, a few little sounds here and there, and not want the listener to just hit “next” on their ipod? Caddywhompus seem to have that pegged.

The album was relased by Community Records and is available for free here.

Dave

Let Live and Let Ghosts

Jukebox the Ghost is a fun band. Let Live & Let Ghosts is a really fun album. If you wanted to be a negative nancy you could be all ‘man this just sounds like some Ben Folds’, but that would just make you lame. Yes, they are a lighthearted piano rock/indie band whose singers often do sound like the aforementioned influence and touring mate (the pianist is even named Ben, too!), but their music is bursting with a youthful energy that has been lacking from Folds’ work for some time now. More importantly, these guys sound like a band, not just one really talented guy with a lot of touring musicians.

In this age of drum comping and perfectly-quantized rhythms, sometimes you forget what it sounds like to hear a couple of dudes play together and just be naturally fucking on-point, and that’s exactly what Jukebox the Ghost are. When you hear them whip out the snappy syncopation on songs like “Hold it In” and “Lighting Myself on Fire”, you can just feel that these are three guys who are very good at what they do and have played together a lot. It’s tough to consistently sell this kind of upbeat jauntiness over the course of a whole album, but this band is just so tight that everything is a pleasure to listen to.

Said jauntiness is balanced out by a recurring sense of biblical apocalypse in the lyrics, mostly in the songs sung by guitarist Tommy Siegel. It’s remarkable on these songs to hear the way in which the band takes such a rudimentary instrumentation (just piano, guitar and drums) and transforms it from the upbeat and poppy to the foreboding and dramatic, all the while retaining the same joyous energy that permeates the record. Never will you be so gleeful singing along to “mom and dad, wake from your slumber, because we’re going to burn this motherfucker down”.

Buy

~Julian

I recently got sick of screwing around with the abysmal Windows Media Player here on the family computer I’m constrained to in Ohio. After importing my library into a clandestine install of iTunes (I’ve been warned vehemently about installing things on here, since everything on earth has a virus), I was scanning through it to see if anything didn’t get transferred when I saw this interesting band name I didn’t recognize at all. This record somehow ended up on my hard drive, and it’s really really great. They’ve got a few classic, purist post rock tinges (think Tortoise’s dubby rhythms, drones and vibraphones) on some songs, but aren’t afraid to get all ballsy and Pavement on you on the more upbeat tracks. Take these influences, layers upon layers of great melodies, soothing girl vocals, and you’ve got a gorgeous sounding album that takes plenty of cues from the best parts of the 90’s without sounding remotely dated. I’m usually wary of indie rock like this, because I usually feel like I’m automatically supposed to enjoy it for hipster elder cred, so I’m glad I stumbled upon this without any previous knowledge and able to take it in as is. These guys put out another record last year that I’m currently trying to track down, so look out for that if you enjoy this one.

For fans of: Tortoise, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Dirty Three

Myspace / Buy (physical versions of this seem to be out of print)

Brian B.

P.S. James from Shock Mountain has some videos up from the Real Estate and Woods show we attended together last week, which you can check out here.



Little Kingdoms is a young band that makes me feel younger than I am. Their clever, complex guitar interplay dances between speakers. Their light, expressive, glitchy percussion lies somewhere between a slap happy drum machine and a slap happy teenager. Their voices sing along like kids having a good time. All the trademarks are there for being another derivative direct descendent of the Cap’n Jazz tradition. But theirs is something that’s special. This is happy music. This is music that’s in the enthusiastic Kinsella-twinkle aesthetic that I happen to love. They’re original enough. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it puts a smile on my face and that’s all that really matters.

-Brian S

Musicians, music writers and music enthusiasts tend to take themselves very seriously.  Music is serious business and damn it you will respect that.  I will admit that I refer to myself as a “music blogger” any chance I get.  Generally this seriousness is a good thing.  Just think of the bands that don’t take themselves seriously, and you end up with bands like Barenaked Ladies and Smash Mouth, so keep an open mind when I tell you that Whisper Signal do not take themselves too seriously.   Their ebullience is evident in their live shows via frontman Erik Adkins and his rapport with his band-mates on stage as well as their self proclaimed “Light Rock” sound.

This is not a knock on their craft.  Musically and lyrically there is a great attention to detail and each song feels like it has a purpose.  The opening track “Escape Artist” starts with fairly bare piano chords and light drumming accompanying Adkins’ mellow vocals.  Light bass then enters the mix, followed one by one by different layered parts that seem to sneak up to a sonic high point…before disappearing just as you notice them.

There are a few moments on the album that fall short.  Some of the vocals are overly ambitious and sometimes Adkins struggles to rise to the challenge.  Overall though the high-aim pays off throughout.  The second half is in my opinion the strongest section of the record.  The last three tracks, Silent Valentine, Comaglow and Slow Enemies are simply dynamite, and really feature the strong guitar work of lead guitarist Daniel Holmes, who’s talents seem wasted when he is simply providing texture and layering earlier.

Overall the album is a solid first effort for a band still developing and shaping their sound.  New members and a renewed commitment to playing live will only help Whisper Signal, and hopefully will not turn their personalities into something different than they are now…because we all know that music is serious business.

Myspace

– Dave

There have been two records that have succesfully snapped me out of my long running electronic phase over the past 24 hours, and this is the first of them. If there’s any hope for what people generally refer to as ‘post-rock’, its in the hands of bands like Seattle’s Post Harbor. A far cry from the vocal-free gain-level exercises of much of the previous decade’s post rock, Post Harbor use well-timed vocals, visceral songwriting and pacing, and a wide yet consistent palette of sounds to stake their claim.

Don’t get it twisted though, PH definitely aren’t afraid to get loud when they need to, and They Can’t Hurt You… isn’t completely free of certain genre bullet points. But the earnestness that comes across in the recording, as well as a clear willingness to experiment with different sounds (check out that vocoder in ‘Shirakashi’ that somehow works flawlessly) lead me to mark these up to chance intersections rather than easy selling points.

Its always a gamble when bands of this stripe choose to add vocals to their sound, as they flirt with the danger of seeming tacked on at the last minute or worse, bogging down an otherwise grand composition with vocal or lyrical cheese. I haven’t delved into the lyrics really, but the vocals are treated with a great sense of reserve that adds another level of intimacy to their warm, emotive bursts.

I thought I was all but past searching out obscure post-rock bands, but here’s one that managed to burst through my ever-thickening emotional shell and hit somewhere that’s been dormant for awhile now. This album reminded me why I fell in love with this style of music in the first place, and I’m surprised and refreshed that it’s the first 2010 album I’ve really taken to.

For Fans Of: Moving Mountains, Unwed Sailor, Caspian

Myspace

Brian B.

http://www.mediafire.com/?mnmkjjdrqxm

No matter how much love you have for a song, two weeks after it becomes your alarm clock sound, you will hate it. To combat this I have this great little device called the Logitech Squeezebox, it is essentially an alarm clock that has about a million features, one of which is waking you up with pandora or last.fm. This is a blessing and a curse however, a blessing because you never grow to hate one single song, and a curse because it has made me spend a crap-ton of money on buying new music.
One of these such finds is an album from 2007 by the unfortunately named “The Real Tuesday Weld.” I gave up on trying to classify this record, as the genre shifts from place to place throughout the record. It opens with what sounds like a radio show introduction from the 1940’s, and transitions into “Anything But Love” a lightly jazzy number that you wouldn’t mind playing for your grandmother. Up next is a wonderful track “on lavender hill” that reminds me of the clientelle, which is a bit of a shift from the first 2 tracks…and afterward the album ventures off into areas that I can’t really classify, you just need to find some time and listen to the thing from cover to cover. You don’t really notice the blending of genres, you just know that you are enjoying what you are listening to.

Sorry to be so vague oh loyal readers, perhaps I should have picked a more straightforward album to talk about my first post back since the new year, but I couldn’t help it. Deep down I believe this to be a classic example of a concept album, and as soon as I figure out what the concept is, I’ll let you know.

Buy

Dave


File:Thunder, Lightning, Strike.jpg
People of my age and graduating class are among the last people who can (quasi-)legitimately wear those t-shirts from Hot Topic that say ‘Product of the ’80s’  with Flying V’s and sequins and other such garish, retro-fashionable items on them. However, being born in 1989, I, like they, were not really self-aware in the decade in question, and therefore any nostalgic association and identification we have with the era is likely either the result of bleedthrough into the early ’90s or just entirely fabricated. That said, I still feel a warm and fuzzy recollection of a time that never really was when I listen to albums like Saturdays=Youth, or Thunder, Lightning, Strike.

The Go! Team isn’t really the John Hughes throwback music that sentence construction suggests it to be, though. Pitchfork and other reviewers have described it as a pastiche-homage of-to 80’s action TV show theme songs, but I would just call it magical nostalgia collage rock. Built equally on samples and live instrumentation, Thunder, Lightning, Strike somehow makes the dorkiest arrangements ever sound cool as shit. Somehow, harmonica plus horn section plus synthesized strings plus banjo plus not one but TWO drumsets mix together to paint an image of a simpler time you’re not sure you ever really had, but a yearning for all the same.

The action show theme song comparison is probably most apt on early tracks such as Panther Dash and Ladyflash, as you could easily picture yourself driving around a sick-ass muscle car with a heinous-looking bandana wrapped around your head as you jam out to these songs. Inexplicably, it feels cool when this band does it. Once central member Ian Parton starts dropping proto-hip-hop and schoolyard girl chant samples on top of his constructions, you begin to wonder why the hell it all sounds so cool.

However, the real strength of this album lies at its end. Thunder, Lightning, Strike has probably one of the best set of closing tracks I can think of on an album. ‘Friendship Update’ was the first song from the album I’d heard, and my roommate and I sat on the couch listening to it and thinking to ourselves ‘is this real?’ The version of the album I’m writing about is the 2005 reissue, which features in my opinion the crucial ‘Hold Yr Terror Close’, a song absolutely unlike anything else on the CD. It’s one of the only songs on the album with lyrics, and certainly the only with lyrics that aren’t part of a sampled vocal track. The rickety old piano shuffle that drives the song sounds as slightly out of tune as the young girl’s voice does, but the two together somehow create this unplaceable feeling of honesty, depth and emotion that was the absolute last thing I expected to hear on this album. The closing two tracks lay the instrumentation on thickly once again, closing out the album with ‘Everyone’s a V.I.P. to Someone’, the strange-but-wonderful fusion of banjo, harmonica, strings, trumpet and two drumsets that I referenced earlier. Simply put, the music of Thunder, Lightning, Strike sounds like coming home.

Buy

Standout tracks: “Friendship Update”, “Hold Yr Terror Close”, “Huddle Formation”

– Julian

The label certain artists get when they are considered “The Next…” must be so complimentary and nerve-racking.  I don’t want to push any associations in your head with major talents and “if you’re a fan of…” because Ferraby Lionheart deserves to be listened to with open ears.  He was a songwriter when I first heard and read about him, but I wanted to just let him know he was his own artist.  I read a couple reviews that said he was donned the next Elliott Smith, but his songwriting stands on its own without being compared to a timeless artist of our generation.  I can hear Lionheart probably enjoys the recordings of Smith but he has his own voice and songs.  He possesses a great knack for catchy melodies, thought-provoking lyrics, and a sweet sense of tranquility.  I go back to this album quite a bit when I am in certain situations or moods.  It makes me relaxed and happy to be a musician myself.  I am not sure what Ferraby is doing currently, but I am excited for his next album and finally seeing him perform live.

For Fans Of: Elliott Smith, Townes Van Zandt, Simon Joyner, Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes, J. Tillman, Destroyer, John Lennon

Standout Tracks: “Small Planet”, “Under the Texas Sky”

Buy

-Steve