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Dinah Thorpe

20 Dec


I’m gonna open up this next review with a simple comparison, a comparison that’s going to date me something fierce, but it’s just so spot on. And I can’t get it out of my head, so here goes: Laurie Anderson meets The Lilac Time. Old and obscure, unfortunately. Like Anderson, Thorpe’s rich, multi-layered vocals playfully haunt your brain as they weave back and forth between your ears (headphones strongly encouraged) and the banjo and tempo remind me of the upbeat moments of Stephen Duffy’s work with The Lilac Time. Of course my 16-year old thinks this track sounds like Mumford & Sons, but he’s never heard Peggy Honeywell. Thorpe is literate, politically astute, and crafts siren songs around her dreams and visions with everything from a synth to a ukulele. The results will brighten your day as does her album’s sparse, bold cover.

Daphni

12 Dec

Daphni is the new project of Caribou’s Dan Snaith. JIALONG (JOW-long), his debut release as Daphni, is out now on Merge Records.

As Daphni, Dan set out to record a more spontaneous album, without the careful attention to detail that goes into a Caribou release. The results are just as Snaith intended, a loose, spontaneous album perfect for the dance floor. Enjoy.

Daphni – Ye Ye from JIALONG (2012)

Daphni – Pairs from JIALONG (2012)

Merge

Wazu

9 Dec

Don’t judge this album from its cover. Wazu’s music is stronger and more confident than their over-wrought Art Deco and ’80s brushstroked cover. And yes, the opening track to Wazu’s debut album plays like a lost recording from the Black Celebration sessions. They owe a lot to a handful of chaps from Basildon, England for the sound and name, but Wazu are no retro-plagiarists. They depend more on guitars and add a distressed sound to the synths. Their back-and-forth boy/girl vocals soften the darker tones and harsher industrial flourishes. Or you could say Wazu fleshes out the sensibilities of the xx, amps up the tempo and fills in the gaps with big, dance-floor beats. The band released their debut full-length Robobo earlier this year on Halloween, but this thing’s got legs to last well into 2013. It’s a great album for any retro-fetishists, or for anyone in the mood for a sultry, dark and smoky, dance album. So let me cut all the reviewer and critic nonsense, crank this album back up and encourage you to do the same. Revised 12/19/12.

Wazu – Symbol System [MP3]

King Loses Crown

4 Dec

Darker than Devo, faster than Depeche Mode, denser than Killing Joke, but sharing the apocalyptic atmosphere of those artists, San Francisco trio King Loses Crown releases their new single today, “My Revenge.” We reviewed an earlier demo version of this song a few years back, but the band has since added a member, beefed up production and further honed their sound. And as luck would have it, their sonic assault met its visual match in visual effects director Jim Mitchell (Harry Potter, Sleepy Hollow, and Jurassic Park III). Mitchell directed the video, also released today, a documentary style, sci-fi look into the future where our technology catches up with us and our darkest impulses.

It’s not everyday that a full-fledged Hollywood filmmaker produces the video for an emerging band, so I checked in with Mitchell to see why he decided to get involved with King Loses Crown. He told me that a friend invited him to see the band at the Elbo Room and he was “blown away by the intensity and energy of their songs.” Mitchell had been developing a robot character and when he heard “My Revenge” he realized the song’s theme was “similar to what [he] was imagining for the world of the character.” He edited a few of his robot animations to the song and “couldn’t believe how it just seemed to naturally sync up like they were meant to be together.” The band agreed. So do I. You probably will too.

My Revenge from You Can’t Escape EP, February 2013

Hot Sushi Club

1 Dec

I know sushi rolls aren’t really sushi. I get it. I respect it. On my block there’s a sushi place that flat out doesn’t serve rolls. They won’t have anything to do with desecrating the simple beauty of fish on rice. I also respect our western notion of wrapping up fish in a slathering of mayonnaise, deep frying it until it’s delicately golden, chopping it up and dousing it with Sriracha, or any combo of the three. My favorite sushi roll in the world is the Bungee Roll from a place called Sushi 21 on the Newport Beach peninsula. It begins with a slab of cream cheese, a stalk of asparagus, and a row of avocado rolled up in nori and rice. Spicy salmon is piled on top, then the roll is baked and topped with sweet eel sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It’s at once hot, sweet, savory, and soft with a gentle snap of the asparagus. I wanna jump up on to the sushi bar and dance a jig of delight every time I take a bite, or every time I even think about taking a bite.

It should be more than obvious at this point what I started dreaming about as soon as I saw the words Hot Sushi Club hit my inbox. The added bonus is that this brand new band out of Karlsruhe, Germany is as tasty as the Bungee Roll itself. They’re a little bit Hot Chip, sweet like Phoenix, and completely danceable. They give off that same air of giddiness I enjoy when my belly’s full of Bungee. And they’re as generous as the kind sushi chef that hooks you up with a good salmon cheek or sweet shrimp. Their debut EP is available in full, free of charge. Enjoy!

Lost in a Good Way

Hot Sushi Club – EP (full download)

soundcloud.com/hot-sushi-club

hotsushiclub.tumblr.com

Crystal Castles

26 Jul

Crystal Castles have been priming the pump via Facebook and Soundcloud this week. They’ve released a remixed song from each of their albums, a brand new track, “Plague,” and then yesterday they announced dates for their upcoming North American tour. I doubt I’m introducing a new band to many people, since Crystal Castles are somewhat of a household name within the indie music world. Years ago I realized they were more popular than I imagined when kids at Disneyland were pointing out my son’s Crystal Castles t-shirt. Either that or it was Goth-tronica day and no one told me.

The new track is throbbingly ethereal and more atmospheric than their earlier work. NME posted fan footage of the live premiere of the song where they described it as having “a clear ’90s rave influence.” Whatever your take on the song, it’s great to have new Crystal Castles rattling around in my ears with a tour and new album on the horizon.

Crystal Castles – Plague

Crystal Castles – Suffocation

Crystal Castles – Suffocation (HEALTH remix)

Washed Out

28 Apr

Let me first reiterate that this site has never been about being first. There’s just too much music and too many critics out there playing that game. We share what we love when we find it, or in this case, when we get around to it. Forgive me for waiting so long to get this out to you. I deserve a sound beating. I’ll take it from Washed Out. It’s a pleasure to be pummeled by Washed Out’s gentle rhythms and epic synth-scapes.

Also known as Ernest Green, Washed Out creates soundtracks for sunsets. He uses a wide, soft-focus brush and paints with generous strokes of hazy vocals and undulating echoes of blisstronic. This album messes with your head—you get swept up into some sort of time warp, making every present moment feel like a past memory. A couple lines from a poem by Geoffrey Hill seem to capture this mood I’m reaching for here, “What paradises and watering-places! / What hurts appeased by the sea’s handsomeness!”

On tour now!

From Within and Without (Sub Pop 2011)
Eyes Be Closed [MP3]
Amor Fati [MP3]

From Life of Leisure (Mexican Summer 2009)
You’ll See It [MP3]
Feel It All Around [MP3]

subpop.com
washedout.net

Craft Spells

2 Mar

I absolutely adore the various influences that Craft Spells have ingeniously grafted into their songs. This particular track opens with an echoey guitar riff that has a very Hawthorne, CA circa ’67 feel, if you know what I mean. Mix that with a low-fi version of New Order’s rhythms and distant Ian Curtis-esque vocals and you get a clear vision of where this Central California band’s heads are at. They don’t shy from wearing such influences on their sleeves either. Literally. Check out their album cover. Looks really familiar, right?

More power to them, I say. Such a flagrant display of their influences serve as a display of their confidence as artists and their ability to borrow and steal as such. That, and I’m just as geeked as they are about their pet sounds, and about Craft Spells’ crafty channeling of such.

The band recently announced their US tour with The Drums, plus released a single from their forthcoming EP, Gallery, due May 15th.

Craft Spells – Party Talk

Craft Spells page on capturedtracks.com

Kono Michi

6 Nov

Attempting to review music while your wife and son are jamming to The Beatles Rockband is like making a suicide at a fountain dispenser–taking a hit from each flavor of soda you get a little taste of this, a little taste of that, but it’s all really just a blur. Not the ideal situation to be sure. I’m gonna go get my headphones….ah, that’s much better.

Kono Michi is a concert violinist with a beautiful voice and a knack for writing interesting songs. And excuse the blasphemy I’m about to embark on, but I find her voice warmer and more pleasant than that of Annie Clark’s (St. Vincent). If that’s even possible!

Violins open her track “My Monster,” then her vocals glide in, the strings drop out and a slow drumbeat thunders in. And like that you’re hooked. A deep male voice rolls in with the violin again, la-la-la-la-la-ing along, and the song kind of turns into a duet between Kono Michi and the monster on the cover. He sounds like a gentle fellow, and like she sings in the song, as long as they’re singing along, they’re getting along. Maybe a good relationship healer. Feeling sour towards your partner? Sing a song or two together!

If you’re not yet moved to give Kono Michi a try, then check out the video for “You are the First.” It’s a DIY stop-motion effort in which Kono Michi, a Brooklynite, traveled 6,000 miles across the country photographing herself jumping in the air so it looks as if she’s floating around. If that doesn’t mesmerize you for a few minutes, then you’re a sad, jaded soul and I feel for you…

My Monster [MP3]
You are the First [MP3]

www.konomichimusic.com
www.sharkbatter.com

Icebird

17 Oct

The title to the album’s opener is antithetical to what’s happening around us economically. Not many people feel as if they’re living a charmed life these days. But the song’s about holding it together despite the mayhem that circles around us. “‘Charmed Life’ is about struggling to maintain sanity when it seems like the world around you is falling apart,” says Aaron Livingston, the vocal half of Icebird. Add RJD2′s production skills and beat-making abilities and you’ve got the makings of a musical opiate that’ll soothe the soul no matter what ails you.

The album, The Abandoned Lullaby, dropped last week and you can get a taste of another track via video below. And if you’re looking to add some charm to your life, RJD2 has offered up individual tracks to “The Charmed Life” for your remixing pleasure. If Icebird likes your remix best, they’ll set you up with some goodies. Details here.

Charmed Life

Going and Going and Going – RJD2 Remix

rjselectricalconnections.com