Recent Releases We Almost Missed, Vol. XVII – Ghost Heart, Echo Lake, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship,The Fervor, Pandit, Asteroid #4
It was pretty much unavoidable, but in a good way. That is, the posting of yet another mega MP3 mix full of 2011 songs that many of you have probably never heard of before. Unlike other mixes, this one has been in the works for many weeks as an on-going project, and has evolved quite a bit during its many revisions.
Note: There will be no S-25 this week in order to bring you this special mix, plus our guide to Record Store Day releases, which will be posted on Monday, and is full of all kinds of goodies.
Behind the screens, there’s a good deal of hard work that goes into preparing our mega-MP3 mixtapes, and today’s playlist post is no exception. And, with so much music coming at us from all directions 24/7, there are always going to be note-worthy releases that we don’t hear about until after the fact, or that we didn’t have room or time to feature when they first came out.
So, last year, we started the Recent Releases We Almost Missed playlist series (that we refer to as the Almost Missed series) as a way to play catch up, and most importantly, to make sure that we share with all of you great music that we almost missed. Sometimes it will be music that some of you may have already heard, but we believe most of the songs in the Almost Missed mixtapes are being heard for the first time by a majority of IRC loyalists and visitors.
The Almost Missed mixtape series, while in drafting stages, often allows us more time (than say Best New Releases or Fresh Tracks series do) to listen again and again to already released songs. Therefore, over the weeks, the number of songs in the master Almost Missed draft file fluctuates as songs that don’t make the final cut are removed, while other qualifiers are added.
Since premiering last year, the Almost Missed series has become one of the most popular regular playlist series, especially as it is widely regarded as a supplement to the weekly Best New Releases mixtape series.
To discover, stream and download even more music that you may not have heard before, but might be glad you did, you can browse other regular mixtapes after checking out this huge Almost Missed mix, including popular regular features like Best New Releases, Top 20 Songs of the Month (just started in March), Fresh Tracks, Bands to Watch, Indie Cover Songs, The S-25 Mix, and many others. You could literally spend weeks on IRC filling up your iPod with hundreds of songs. And we know for a fact that people actually have done just that, and continue to come back for more every week. (Read more about our mission at the end of this post.)
So, let’s fire this baby up - Vol. 17 of Recent Releases We Almost Missed. There’s a bunch of great songs in this mix from albums that were released between January and February that otherwise did not make it on the weekly Best New Releases posts. Here are just some of them; they’ll be more in Vol. 18. Today’s mix includes songs from recent releases by bands like Ghost Heart, Echo Lake, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship,The Fervor, Pandit, (i am) isis, Asteroid #4, and others.
Band to Watch in 2011: Ghost Heart
Straight out of Michigan comes indie rock quartet Ghost Heart, a band which combines folk-rock elements with synthesizers, percussion and shoegaze guitar riffs. Ghost Heart’s debut LP, The Tunnel, was released on Jan. 29th via Friction Records. Today’s top track is the epic, seven-minute single, “No Canticle,” followed by a double-shot track, “Wilderness.” Keep an eye and ear out for Ghost Heart. This new band is yet another act over the past five years with “ghost” in the band name.
The London band Echo Lake has quietly been making in-roads to the States in recent months with their February 12-inch debut EP, Young Silence. One of the things as we mentioned before about the releases we feature in the Almost Missed series is the fact that we’ve been listening to them, on average, for a couple of month, allowing for more time to really listen to them, and also to see if they stand the test of time. Now, that’s a total cliche but it’s oh so true when it comes to music. We all know how a song or record we really liked from the beginning can over time lose it’s allure.
But this has not been the case with any of the music we feature in the Almost Missed series, and it certainly is not the case with this terrific debut EP from Echo Lake. Young Silence is a wonderfully crafted collection of six lush, hypnotic, shimmering psychedelic pop tracks, like the Galaxie 500-sounding “Sunday Evening” and “Everything Is Real” that all flow so well together and a good EP to go to for a lo-fi, synth heavy, psych pop sonic excursion.
And yet they also have an entirely different sound on songs like “Young Silence,” the title track of the EP. It’s blazing, exceedingly upbeat, awash in a wall of sonic noise pop. That song reminds us of Best Coast. From start to finish, the EP is terrific and easily one of the best EPs of 2011 so far. The fresh, comfy feel of grass on your bare feet.
And we’re not the only ones digging Echo Lake. Pitchfork tagged their sound as “droney melody lovingly buried under miles of reverb.” Gorvilla Vs. Bear called Echo Lake’s music as “gorgeous, swirling, hypnotic dream-pop” and The Fader wrote: “expansive, wild, ethereal, with endless depths of shimmering reverb.” Yup. Yup. Yup. And that’s why Echo Lake are one of the top featured bands in today’s mix.
From those encouraging words, it’s not hard to make the case for Echo Lake being one of our best radar bands for 2011. Two of the tracks featured here are by way of Gorilla vs. Bear, who was really one of the first blogs to give the band the so-called blogger love.
In an interview with Dazed Digital, band members called their music “hypnotic” and “swoon pop” which are both evident in listening to their music. Asked by DD what their “favorite sounds were (not echoes, not lakes),” two band members replied:
Thom Hill: The Omnichord. It’s a great little instrument that just makes anything you play sound beautiful.
Linda Jarvis: I love the sound of a truly epic guitar solo like in Galaxie 500 and Dinosaur Jr songs. My absolute favourite is probably in Fillmore Jive by Pavement. It makes me so happy.
Omaha’s Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship
While we’re doing the double-shots, here’s another from the rising Nebraska indie punk rock band, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship. The two tracks featured below are from the band’s fantastic Feburary debut LP, Hanga-Fang. From the Omaha area, NAWAS are freshmen on the increasingly popular Saddle Creek Records, which was founded by Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk)
Anyway, back to the music. Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship is an Omaha based band that we’d heard of, but not really hear their music enough to remember anything in particular. Yet, after listening to Hanga-Fang a number of times since it’s release in late February, we’re starting to see the reason why Oberst signed them up. The track “Warm Eyes” is one of the best songs of 2011 (so far) in our opinion. Their sound is definitely influenced by 90′s alternative rock bands like Sonic Youth and The Pixies.
What’s In A Name? We weren’t able to find any info online about how NAWAS got their name exactly, but we suppose the band’s name is somehow attributed to the belief by some alien astronaut theorists that the story of Noah’s Ark was based on some catastrophic, actual event in which extraterrestrials were involved in a rescue to save the planet’s wild kingdom. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the gist of it.
The track from The Fervor is a somewhat mellow, yet forward-driving and shoegazey at the same time. The Atlanta based band also have another the song, “Crazy For The Feeling,” from their February released LP, Arise Great Warrior, that we’ve listened to more than a couple of times now. We say with the right players getting involved, and the right pieces falling into the right places, The Fervor could start to really catch on, with their fine song-writing and individual band member talents, including the Neko Case-like vocals of Natalie Felker. Plus, everyone seems to dig a husband and wife team, as the band’s guitarist, Ben Felker, is also Natalie’s husband. They recruited bassist Michael Campbell and drummer Mat Herron to complete the formation of The Fervor.
What do you think of this band?
It must make sense in some parallel universe to follow up The Fervor’s shoegaze with a raw, imperfect punk rock track from another band almost no one has heard of – Occult Detective Club. Gotta love that name, huh?
Anyways, the fresh track, “C’mon Levi” from their album Crimes pays homage to the U.K. punk sound circa 1977.
“Cmon Levi” – Occult Detective Club from Crimes
Pandit Released Debut Eternity Spin In February
The buzz is bouncing around the blogs as of late for yet another one-man band, Pandit, the moniker of Lumberton, Texas musician Lance Smith. The track here, “Artichoke” is hard not to like. It’s off his full-length, debut, Eternity Spin, released Feb 22nd.
The song is spacey and dream-like, perhaps a bit scary, with a constant beat that supplied the melodies with a backdrop in which to roam freely. Star Slinger and Foxes in Fiction also contributed to the release. Grab a free mediafire zip featuring 17 Pandit demos.
From Brooklyn, is a DIY artist who indulges in attitude-laden, hardcore funk and soul, that is thrashed out more like garage rock. The Newark-born, Minneapolis-raise, NYC resident, isis refers to her music as “spoken soul” and proclaims to be a “phenom” that has created “a montage of eclectic rhymes, emotional rants, socio-political soliloquies and stories of love and growth and inspiration.” Over the past four years, isis has opened for, and shared the stage with, artists like Firewater, Wyclef, India.Arie, Ursula Rucker, Desdamona, Toki Wright, Mujah Messiah, Marvelle and I Self Devine.
“Soul Rebel” - (i am) isis from Amanginly Random - Jan. 21st
“Drive Me” – (i am) isis from Amanginly Random
ASTEROID #4 New Album, Hail To The Clear Figurines
Not too long ago, the Philadelphia psychedelic rock band Asteroid #4 sent us some new music from their latest LP, Hail To The Clear Figurines, the sixth studio album from the “Philly psychonauts,” as they call themselves. The band are not completely obscure, but for an outfit that has put out some spectacular albums during the past decade, they are not as well known as we think they should be. But, hey, there are hundreds of bands we like that we can say that about too. Hail To The Clear Figurines was released by The Committee To Keep Music Evil on February 8th. Notice the range of sound and style between the two tracks, especially with “Wild Opal Eyes,” which manages to sound like a psychedelic folk rock song from the late 1960s, but with a 1970′s arena rock guitar solo near the end.
“Ignition Slated For Eight” – Asteroid #4 from Hail To The Clear Figurines – Feb. 8th
“Wild Opal Eyes” – Astroid #4 from Hail To The Clear Figurines