Archive for the 'Indie Pop' Category

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Make a Deal with the City-East River Pipe

I have entered a productive relationship with Pandora internet radio wherein songs I’ve never heard are played, and then I look on Emusic (not Emu-sic) and find they have the song. This is unpaid product placement at its finest. This is hazy bedroom psych at a very wonderful level. It just hits you with a very standard chord progression, the standard chord progression of almost uniformly awesome songs. This is the song of a lost mixtape presented to you by a friend of exceptional taste, the friends we all wish we are to other people the friends we strive to be. Therefore, I pass this to you.

Death to Los Campesinos! – Los Campesinos!

These guys had a fair amount of P-fork buzz around their first album, and they’ve got endorsements from such luminaries as Gruff Rhys [Super Furry Animals]. I downloaded the first album a while ago, fell in love with “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats”, but took my time getting into the rest of the first album Hold On Now, Youngster. Well, I’m now into it. I really like the upbeat tempo of everything, and I like the juxtaposition of the softly accented female vocals (Aleksandra Campesinos!) and the harder accent of the male vocals (Tom Campesinos!). And yeah, they’re the type of band where everyone changes their last name so that it’s the same as the band.

They may get a little too sugary after a while, but they have some really good stuff, and they strike as the type of band that will be really good live. I’ll find out when they come to Chicago in February. I get the impression they’re the type of band that PP will pan.

Also, what is it about Wales that makes them produce an inordinate number of good bands relative to the size of the country? The Alarm, Super Furry Animals, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics when they didn’t suck…

I Need Direction – Teenage Fanclub

A year or so ago, a post came up on some site (maybe this one?) where PP admitted to listening to this song. This is arguably my favorite Teenage Fanclub Song. From the melody, to the bridge, to the Ba Ba Bas, it’s perfect pop music.

This is a band that I’ll admit to not really getting at first. They had a song or two that I liked, most notably Starsign and I Don’t Know from Bandwagonesque. But the singles (The Concept and What You Do to Me) just sounded boring and repetitive. And without a good background in the genre, this is a band that may sound hit or miss. But like the Posies, after spending a lot of time listening to Big Star, everything sort of makes sense. This song is probably the best of the group from this era that includes Ain’t That Enough, I Don’t Want Control of You, and Accidental Life.

Anyway, thank PP for this one. Sorry for the choppy version. The album track is better.

Too Too Too Fast-Ra Ra Riot

It’s about time we had a band mining Outfield, Rick Springfield, Cory Hart territory. Pretty well done for what it is.

Outfield for the young ones.

Desert Island-Magnetic Fields

Since this song and another wonderful track from the same album, Holiday, are not on the Tuber but were both used by (genius) Errol Morris in commercials for Southern Comfort, I will link those ads, and you can get a small taste of absolute pop genius. Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt specializes in a hard to describe feeling that touches melancholy and nostalgia. I can only describe this feeling as suburban high school nights driving around in your care with nothing better to do but think about that someone. Obviously, if this isn’t your formative experience, the feeling will likely be attached to somthing else. From the way Morris uses the songs in the ads, you can tell he senses the same feeling in Merritt’s work. These earlier tunes have a Casiotone taste, although these two are the lushest on the album and not as chintzy.

The ad “Young at Heart” uses
Desert Island

The ad “Bridesmaids” uses Strange Powers

Head Rolls Off-Frightened Rabbit

Sort of the ultra-earnest British Isles jangle pop that they can pull of across the pond but comes out all emo on this side of the water. This song builds from OK to pretty good, I think. This new single is definitely slicker than their debut Sing the Greys, which is worth a listen. The new album comes out in April.

Annuals – Dry Clothes

If you haven’t heard of Annuals, wait a few months, and look around again. They are going to be popular. Coming off their excellent debut, 2006’s Be He Me, Annuals are the kind of band that will buzz their way into popularity. Their sound is diverse indie pop with all the right influences (ahem, Brian Wilson). But unlike Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene, bands they sometimes resemble, the music always stays under control and doesn’t sprawl into smarminess.

Dry Clothes is a good example of some of the styles of music in any given track, and their ability to surprise. The first half of the song, apparently about the love between a man and a crocodile, sounds like a Beulah track as performed by Animal Collective. Then something dark and probably bloody happens with the transition to Dry Clothes. I’m only sorry that the video truncates the second half, because it is easily the creepiest and most interesting part of the song. But I think you get the idea. They rhythmic shock associated with ‘Clothes’ delights me every single time, and I’ve listened to this dozens of times now. To me, it also evokes aspects of Spoon Fitted Shirt.

Need Your Needs-Georgie James (Chuckles Guest Post)

Chuckwagon is very awesome in a large number of ways, some more recognizable outside the plumbing industry than others. In today’s awesome example, he provides some tunes:

Here is that song I mentioned in an email oh so long ago:

I have seen Georgie James a number of times now and they have played “Need Your Needs” every time. You can hear why, the song bounces along without ever slipping into radio-ready territory and is a perfect example of the Georgie James sound. “Cake Parade” is still my favorite and features more of Laura Burhenn’s vocal range, unfortunately the fidelity of the clip below is rather lower than you could hope:

I am not sure that they quite fit into that faux-sixties genre that Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura have created out and cohabitate, but I think it is only the Wurlitzer-or whatever-style keyboards that invoke that feeling. The entire album, Places, rotates heavily in my nightly music enjoyment. I have played it often and loud enough to annoy the neighbors but it has lost none of its charm. I recommend it to anyone.

Nicole Atkins & the Sea – The Party’s Over

So the other night I found my new indie crush, and it’s probably not an exclusive thing seeing as how she was in an American Express commercial that was pretty widely circulated. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize that before she opened for the Raveonettes (who have a crush-worthy babe of their own).

Nicole Atkins is originally from Neptune, New Jersey, and despite having grown up a metal-head, she’s turned herself into quite the crooner, with a country/classical sounding voice that seems somewhat out of place, yet oddly perfect for the retro-pop that she’s made her calling card (no pun intended). The song selected is both the best song available on her myspace page (though Brooklyn is Burning is a close second), and the song used in the AMEX commercial.

Her style was a welcome lead-in the Raveonettes, who have found their own niche with 50s/60s style surf-rock/motown as delivered by the Jesus and Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine (listen to Noisy Summer and you’ll be trying to drain the feedback from your skull for a week). It was an evening from another time, like the Rat Pack opening for Buddy Holly if he were joined on-stage by Dick Dale.

Her new album is due out later this month, and she’ll be on Letterman on the 30th. She’s also very easy to look at for a 40 minute set. I’ll be honest, this isn’t normally the type of stuff I go in for. It’s more my sister’s speed, but there’s something about it I’m really digging on. I’ll fully admit that after the formerly known as Mazarin and Simple Kid triumphs, I may be laying an egg on this one, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take. I just can’t get this song out of my head.

Here’s the AMEX ad if you want to know what she looks like (she was hotter in person)

Your Lips Are Red-St. Vincent

Drone fuzz cool cucumber pronouncements from a cloud of wonderful. From her debut Marry Me. Would it be a reviewerly cliché to say “answer: yes”? Answer: yes!

Take that UC!

Lil’ King Kong/Serotonin – Simple Kid

Earlier this year I made the mistake of skipping the opening act at the Shins show, and I’ve been kicking myself for it ever since. So yesterday, I finally decided peruse the internets (or the Rhapsodys) and see what I could find from Simple Kid, who opened for BRMC at the Metro last night (not their best performance, in my opinion, but I digress). Sounded decent, got to the show on time, and was figuratively blown away.

Ciaran McFeely is Simple Kid, sort of an Irish version of Beck with a Mac and and Banjo, and not so much the Scientology. Armed with videos, personality, and killer hooks, he plays the live stuff over the recorded stuff, and simply put, rocks the house. I’ve now listened to Lil’ King Kong about a million times in the last two days, and the rest of the album (his second, the appropriately titled ‘2’, which is available on emusic) is rapidly growing on me. Other standout tracks are Serotonin (vid below), Self Help Book, the Ballad of Elton John, and Mommy and Daddy, which was accompanied by videos of deceased professional wrestler Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree. He also performed a video duet on “It’s Not Easy Being Green” with Kermit the Frog. It’s on Youtube if you do some exploring. I’d also suggest checking the live version of “Average Man”.

Don’t be lazy and go straight to the video. Click the darn audio link.

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Insomnia – Electric President

This song popped out of last.fm. It’s got a Postal Service-y kind of goodness going on. (Or are we in a Postal Service backlash epoch? Even if we were I think everyone still would secretly like “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”.) It’s also true that this track is the kind of thing that I can’t tell after just a couple of listens whether I’ll later find it to have the creeping mehs. Except for the ending — which is definitely cool.

Your Postal Service bonus track (a more than adequate home made video for “District”, embedding was disabled)

Calling It Quits-Aimee Mann

A totally astounding and perfect song. From Bachelor No. 2. I will destroy this blog along with the entire world if I don’t get even one comment describing some sort of human reaction to this song, this means that Seitz claiming he does not like it is only 50% credit. I am out here every other day or every fifth or maybe every couple of weeks totally half-assing it for you, finding total pop GEMS that I have found through the labor of my friendship with UC, and I expect the tiniest amount of lip service. The song is SO GOOD and I want to share it with other life forms. Life forms that are not too lazy to click it!

Testament to Youth In Verse-The New Pornographers

Many people will not like this song because of Dan Bejar’s voice, which I guess I can understand, but Geenie C. hates if for a different reason, the reason most people think that this song is altogether excellent. She hates the fact that the bells, they ring, and that they ring no no no no no no no no no no, and they do so in a like million part round. Here’s Geenie C.- “I GET IT. The bells FRACKING go NO NO NO NO NO. MOVE ON.” Wow, super harsh. Anyway, the last minute is great, and GC will freak her shit out if she watchs this because it is a random Harry Potter fanvid from You Tube! Hee hee. The point is the song and the very negative yet awesome bells. Listen for the delightful Neko Case and her wonderful voice going “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” at the end like the coolest, most refreshing drink of water imaginable.

Bookshop Casanova-The Clientele

Song of the Day loves The Clientele. This a jaunty retro-pop uptempo jaunt through what feels like somebodies quiet corner of 60’s London. From their latest God Save The Clientele, another excellent song from one of my favorite current bands. Alasdair MacLean’s voice is a little bit of an acquired taste, but you MUST love the English a-gain (a-gaiyn) that always seems to come up in their songs. This is a really clean in-studio live performance, the only problem is that the guitar and drum are a little buried in the mix so it doesn’t quite feel as jaunty as it should.

No. 1 Blind-Veruca Salt/Slow Dog (Video Mix)-Belly

More 90s bargain bin, until I can put up some of my new drug rock faves. Maybe plover will have something for us this week as well?

Not the lead off radio tracks of their respective albums, instead they were the songs that I preferred (out of the radio tracks). Veruca Salt always got badmouthed like they were ripping off “some other band.” Most likely it was because there is ever only so much room on radio for “chicks,” but never enough for whiny pro-tools emo choads. “No. 1 Blind” followed up “Seether”, which was a monsta for VS.

This is the holy grail of Belly tracks for me, not that it is my fave, but some radio stations played this video mix, which is not the same as the album version, and I prefer this one. “Slow Dog” followed up “Feed the Tree” and possibly “Gepetto”- Seitz will remember the order.

Belly-Slow Dog (Video mix)

1 2 3 4-Feist

I love this song and the seemingly-single long take video equally. I can’t explain it. It makes me less unhappy to see and hear it. The only annoying thing, the dancers seem costumed in American Apparel 70’s generic cheap-ass chic. Blech.

plover says:

I’m afraid I must retaliate for this post:

Sorry Again-Velocity Girl

I think it is funny that Seitz posted an obscure ol’ early 90s indie pop tune yesterday, because that is what I had in mind with the random Velocity Girl tune that popped into my head. One of those great “kiss off” songs. The gist of it: “yeah we said some stuff about sticking together, but oops, I was wrong, suit me. What can I do but say “sorry” (with the implied “but, still, kiss off”)?

Good times. I remember the album being maybe OK (1994’s Simpatico), it was on Sub Pop, but really only had a couple killer songs.

Bros-Panda Bear

A reverb soaked Brian Wilson pastiche, and the only reason I didn’t just unleash a 30,000 word blood clot throwing diatribe on Three Bulls! I think that everyone needs to buy this album immediately. Even if you don’t like the Beach Boys or Brian Wilson, you will love this. I guarantee. Super fantastic A-triple plus.

Same Old Drag – Apples in Stereo

Just saw these guys at Subterranean in Chicago, which is actually above ground. This is from the new album “New Magnetic Wonder” which was just released a couple of weeks ago. You can stream it at their website. It’s probably their best album, for my taste, since Tone Soul Evolution. I also think it’s kinda cool that they have some songs with Hilary Sidney on lead vocals, despite the fact that she’s not really in the band anymore, and she and Schneider are divorced.

I know you’ll be surprised, but Robert Schneider goes for a real departure here by using “ba-ba” style backing vocals and Beach Boys style harmonies. But I kid Robert Schneider. Also, there’s kind of a cool vocoder dealie on the album that isn’t on the video (it’s technically the next track, but it’s like thirty seconds long). Interestingly enough, the album is chock full of vocoder, but they didn’t use one in concert. Go figure. I was, however, impressed with their ability to re-create the feel of the backing vocals in concert. Usually the mics are all messed up and they don’t come through.

Anyway, enjoy.