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  • Arizona musicians Adam Mattson and Christopher James, known as the duo The Smiles and Frowns, really got our attention with their well crafted, simplistic pop melodies, instrumentation and beautiful, harmonic vocals.

    Since receiving their debut, self-titled LP last month, we've played it again and again. In fact, we fell in love with it so much, that it became necessary to step back and wonder how does one write a review of such a surprisingly terrific album? First off, they are so original that it's difficult to even begin to classify their sound.

    Each track on The Smiles and Frowns has its own charm, identity and story to tell. This release is easily one of the best indie music debut albums of 2009. Let's jump right in and fire up one of the album's many highlights, "The Echoes of Time."

    "The Echoes of Time" - The Smiles and Frowns from s/t debut (2009)

    If you find yourself playing that song again and again, and eventually singing along, or even humming, you won't be alone. It's one of the catchiest, most memorable songs of the year. The song's appeal can also be attributed to its sweet, organic simplicity.

    The duo's contrasts are intriguing. For example, the guys switch it up on the next song, "Mechanical Songs," which starts off with a carnival like sampling before transitioning into a melancholic lo-fi ballad of sorts where the lyrics are at the forefront of the song backed only by guitar and some keyboard infusions. Interestingly, the song manages to pay justice to its title with a minimal reliance on instrumentation.

    "Mechanical Songs" - The Smiles and Frowns from s/t debut (2009)

    Amazingly, there are very few reviews of this album to be found online. This was a shock, to say the least, but it also somehow makes it all the more special - like our little wonderful secret.

    The song, "Sam," is yet another example of the originality and honesty of The Smiles and Frowns' music. And this is also apparent in our Q/A (see below) with Adam Mattson. In true indie fashion, The Smiles and Frowns recorded their album in their own space using their own equipment, and proceeded to self release it on their own label, The Peppermint Hill.

    "Sam" - The Smiles and Frowns from s/t debut (2009)

    While not everyone is likely to give the LP 4.5 of 5 stars as we have, that's fine because there is a certain appreciation and attraction for the professed stylistic influences of French cinematic music and rock and pop bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and Pink Floyd that swirl and twirl to create a wonderful collage of artistic music throughout the record. Seriously, if you can wear down an MP3 album by playing it too much, we're well on the way with this one.

    In the final analysis, it's nearly impossible to put into words the authentic appeal of The Smiles and Frowns' music, but it is yet another example of why we love great independent music so much.

    The Smiles and Frowns on MySpace

    IRC's Interview with The Smiles and Frowns

    Q: Who are your musical influences, past and present?

    A: It's impossible to list all the things that have influenced us...Well lets just say that all of the classic bands and albums have affected us. As for modern bands we like, just stop by our myspace page and dig around in our friends list and youll find plenty of brilliance. Damien Youth is a longtime favorite. And we recently were blown away by the artistry of R.W. Hedges, and we suggest checking both of them out.

    Q: What genre would you say your music falls into?

    A: A question like that can only be answered in regard to perspective. If you sit far enough back we might as well be just the same old classic pop/folk/psych band. But if you get up close and pay sincere attention, there is no one doing exactly what we are doing in the way that we are. So I'm glad to be such a part of tradition and revolution all at once.

    Q: What are your thoughts on how bands and musicians can make a living in
    time when no one knows how to make money on their music?

    A: This is tough to answer. I guess if there were only 10 bands on earth and there was no such thing as digital downloads those 10 bands would be rich. But there are a billion bands. Everyone and their brother is in a band. Music might as well be free these days because of how easy it is to get it, and how much of it there is. The only thing I can think of is for people to try to be more original and truly look inside themselves to find a more personal way to express themselves. That way, the art they are putting out will be more and more unique and rare, and it won't be something someone can just imitate. People can steal your face. They can steal your riff. But they can't ever steal your memories and your unique outlook, so I say look to those places for inspiration first, then worry about money later. Chances are if you tap into that personal thing in your art to that degree, money won't seem like such an essential part of being happy with your life.

    Q: What are some of your favorite songs/albums?

    A: Here are some songs, just off the top of my head, that we both enjoy:
    "Strawberry Tea" - Tiny Tim "The ABC's" - Dr. Dog "Land Of Oden" - Peter & Gordon "Cold Hard World" - Daniel Johnston "Chapi Chapo Theme" - François de Roubaix

    Q: When did you form your label; any other artists on the roster; or plans for such?

    A: The label (The Peppermint Hill) was first formed as a legal means of releasing music. But after awhile it seemed like a good idea to try to turn it into something more. We will just have to see how it goes. The only reason to do anything with it would be to get out more of the kind of stuff we think should exist and be heard.

    Q: What kind of equipment do you use to record?

    A: We have used all kinds. The realest of the real analog, and the fakest of the fake digital. We use things that are cheap and half broken and also some pretty high end stuff. We have been slaves to both the antique and the modern. But as far as specifics go, we have an old 1/2" 8 track reel to reel tape recorder, a Moog, various old guitars and basses, some effects pedals and tape echos, a tube amplifier, a banjo that everybody borrowed twice, and some old ribbon microphones. Its really just a big mix of all types of equipment from all eras, including modern technology.

    Q: How and why did you guys start recording together?

    A: We have known each other since high school, and both of us had a similar interest in music and art. Art with ironic twists and heavy escapism. We found ourselves in a band after several years of experimental recording and songwriting. It started off as just a means of self entertainment.

    Q: How would you describe your music?

    A: The current sound is a bit of a mix. There are haunted train ride songs, and children's theme music songs, psychedelic science fiction songs, etc. I guess it's mostly just a collection of experiments in sound, patterns, and melodies.

    Q: How would you describe your process for writing and recording?

    A: A lot of the songs are conceived melody first... as an idea forms, it springs forth from Adam into a micro-cassette recorder while banging down the road in a cupcake delivery truck. The melodies and lyrics are later fished out by us and then given a body. This is at least one way that our songs have found life.

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       November 29, 2009    5 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    The good music that we want to share with you all piles up like snow during a blizzard; so, it becomes necessary to put together these random mixes to clear off the decks. But these songs are no less worthy than anything else we publish; otherwise we wouldn't feature them. :)

    Kicking off this playlist is the hauntingly beautiful melancholy, and as a contrast, the fuzzy guitar hooks, of Brooklyn's Hurricane Bells, evidenced on the tracks, "This Year" and "Monsters" (the latter is featured on the New Moon: The Twilight Saga soundtrack - more songs from that film soon, plus a review of the thrilling, rip-roaring flick, Private Radio).

    Following their brilliant pop harmonies-60s style debut LP, Fighting Trees, Philly's The Swimmers are back with their sophomore release, People Are Soft. The opening track, "Shelter," sounds more like Joy Division mixed with Echo and the Bunnymen than anything else the band has recorded.

    Next up, we present one of the most popular tracks from one of 2009's best indie debuts from Brooklyn's Here We Go Magic; plus, the edgy, hip-shaking electro-punk rocker, "My Car is Haunted" by Knoxville's Royal Bangs; a new pop track from Sweden's extremely popular El Perro Del Mar; the foreboding harmonies of London alternative pop band, Scanners; New Jersey punk-influenced teenage quintet The Static Jacks ("like The Strokes with a whole lot more twang and soul" - Relix) offer up "My Parents Lied" from their new Laces EP; California's Furcast present the spooky and theatrical "Grey is Old," a Concrete Blonde-like track that would have been fitting for the New Moon soundtrack. To close out this random mix is a lesser-known single from the Raveonettes' impressive In and Out of Control LP.

    "This Year" - Hurricane Bells from Tonight Is the Ghost (2009)
    Bonus: "Monsters" - Hurricane Bells from New Moon: The Twilight Saga (2009)

    "Shelter" - The Swimmers from People Are Soft (2009)

    "Tunnelvision" - Here We Go Magic from s/t debut (2009)

    "My Car is Haunted" - Royal Bangs from Let It Beep (2009)

    "Change of Heart" - El Perro Del Mar from Love is Not Pop (2009)

    "Salvation" - Scanners from Submarine (2009)

    "My Parents Lied" - Static Jacks from Laces EP (2009)

    "Grey Is Old" - Furcast from Together EP (2009)

    "The Chosen One" - Raveonettes from In and Out of Control (2009)

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       November 27, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    What happens when a band with a major record label deal tosses it away and puts everything on the line in a bold move to return to their independent roots? The answer in the case of the rock band The Sun is simple: they create a masterpiece album.

    But The Sun's split from Warner Bros. was not trouble-free nor fool proof - two band members left as a result, legal battles ensued and major disagreements with management were just some of the fallout in the wake of their decision to sever their contract and go indie.

    “We hawked the gear, we sold the van, we squeezed as much as we could out of the label (Warner Bros.) and severed all ties,” The Sun's singer and guitarist Chris Burney said of the break.

    In the aftermath of their former lives as big label artists, the remaining band members teamed up with Spoon producer Mike McCarthy to work on their second - and reportedly last - LP, Don’t Let Your Baby Have all the Fun, which was officially released as a free download on November 10th via Free is great; but this is one record we'd gladly pay for, so if a vinyl edition comes out (please!), we'll let you know.

    The Sun formed in 2001 after Burney wrote and recorded a tape of slick, gritty garage rock demos. With songs in hand, Burney recruited New Bomb Turks' drummer Sam Brown and Floatation Walls' guitarist Carlos Avendano to start a band. All three members dropped out of Ohio State University in Columbus to make music full-time. Eventually they were joined by another FW member, Brad Fosblom, on bass, and Brad Caulkins, on keyboards and guitar. (Subsequently, Avendarno, Fosblom and Arendt left the band to pursue other projects.).

    In 2001-2002, The Sun began recording with Wilco's Jay Bennett in his Chicago. Within in few months time, the band signed with Warner Bros. and released their debut EP, Love and Death, in February 2003, followed two years later by their first LP, Blame It on the Youth. But the LP, despite its solid collection of songs, was a commercial failure, and the remaining band members - Burney, Brown and Caulkins - were uncertain of what would happen next.

    Sometime in 2008, McCarthy contacted the band to express interest in producing their next album at his Austin studio. "I was a big fan of their first record," McCarthy said. "I was surprised [Blame It on the Youth] didn't become a huge, big, big deal."

    "It was the first time that the band felt natural to me," Brown said. Even though other labels, including Merge Records, demonstrated interest to distribute the album, the band's manager deliberately delayed its release, apparently with the hope to elaborately promote it as a self-release - a formula that has worked well for other artists.

    Frustrated by the LP's state of limbo, the remaining band members started giving away Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun at their 2008 ComFest performance, until its official release earlier this month via RockProper. Essentially giving up hope that the LP would be released by a label, Caulkins left to join LA's Afro-pop band, Fool's Gold.

    The LP's first single, "So Long Sundays," blends catchy rhythms, high octane synthesizers, raspy vocals, and edgy lyrics, resulting in an seductive garage rock hit (and probably the most "Spoon-sounding" track on the LP.)

    "So Long, Sundays" - The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

    "The Goddess," is one of the most memorable tracks on the LP, and frankly of the latter half of 2009. The bright guitar riff alone hooks you into the grooves of the song's T. Rex-meets-Pavement sound. As it marches along enthusiastically for two and half minutes, the song suddenly ends, followed by a 40 second acoustic interlude ("A Prayer Before Dawn") which ends abruptly with a burp and a giggle.

    "The Goddess"- The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

    As you listen to this album, you can't help but notice how much fun the band is having, and it rubs off, as evidenced by tracks like new wave leaning recording "Cold Hands"; the epic, melodic pop rock of "In Perfect Time"; the danceable, excited, "Watch Out," and the lo-fi urgency suspense of "Alien."

    "Cold Hands (Clap Louder)"- The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

    "In Perfect Time" - The Sun from Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun (2009)

    It's just too bad the band does not plan to record another album together. During the past year, Caulkins stated he has no interest in playing with The Sun again; Burney started a new band called Adult Fiction, and a record label, Eastern Watts; Brown continues to tour with RJD2 and has embarked on his new power-pop project, You're So Bossy.

    If you enjoy the C86, glam rock and post punk music genres of the 1970's and early-to-mid 1980's - all of which paved the way for so much of the alternative and indie rock we enjoy today - you're probably going to love Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun. This LP is simply a masterpiece, and a decade from now, it will be regarded as a underrated classic. We can only hope that the band will reunite to record more music and set out on tour in the near future; absent that wishful-thinking, The Sun have left us with at least two amazing albums.

    The Sun on MySpace

    The Sun's Official website

    Get The Sun's new LP free

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       November 25, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    New releases today include LPs from Brimstone Howl, Sunset, Tahiti 80, and others, plus recent worthy releases from Doveman, Old Canes, System and Station, and more. Of all of the releases dropping today, the following are definitely cafe favorites. Don't miss recent (in the past month) releases we recommend that were not previously highlighted in the New Releases series.

    "Suicide Blues" - Brimstone Howl from Big Deal. What's He Done Lately? (2009)

    "Pocketful of Debt" - Sunset from Gold Dissolves To Gray (2009)

    "Green Truck" - Sunset from Gold Dissolves To Gray (2009)

    "Unpredictable" - Tahiti 80 from Activity Center (2009)

    "She Cuts His Hair" - Essex Channel from Love is Proximity (2009)

    "The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion" - Holopaw from Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness (2009)

    Kyle Wyss, better known as one-half of the Kanine Records' duo Blind Man's Colour, is the force behind Chromatic Flights. You can download for free Chromatic Flights' four-track Sunset Bell EP via Bandcamp. What a deal for summer-lush ambient music.Other CF downloads are available for free at Monotonik. The other half of BMC is Orhan Chettri, who records solo work under the moniker Lucid Bus. Interestingly, CF does a cover version here of Lucid Bus' song, "Diamond Skull." Also, check out new tracks from Loney Dear, Doveman, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Old Canes and System and Station.

    "Passagrille" - Chromatic Flights from Sunset Bell EP (2009)

    "Diamond Skull" (Lucid Bus) - Chromatic Flights, unreleased (2009)

    "Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Boy" - Loney Dear from Citadel Band (2009)

    "Breathing Out" - Doveman from The Conformist (2009)

    "The Sound" - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson from Summer of Fear (2009)

    "Little Bird Courage" - Old Canes from Feral Harmonic (2009)

    "Love, Etc." - System and Station from I'm Here to Kill EP (2009)


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       November 24, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Andy Mitchell is a one-man band from Middlesbrough, UK who serves up a remarkably full rock sound for one guy. An unsigned artist, Mitchell writes and records all of his songs himself, as well as sings and plays all of the instruments, including guitars, bass, keyboards and programmed drums. Last year, Ultimate Guitar magazine took notice, naming Mitchell one of the "Top Unsigned Acts of 2008."

    His recordings, he told IRC, were made in his bedroom and bathroom over a number of months. "I had taught myself guitar in 2006, but officially it all started in early 2008 while I was at University. For my final year dissertation I looked at new ways to market music and created an album of my own to use as an example. It earned me a first class honors, and encouraged me to continue making music and albums." For someone who only started playing the guitar a few years ago, Mitchell's work proves he has a natural ability to make impressive alternative rock music. We'll be watching this guy for sure!

    "Why Remember Me" - Andy Mitchell from Of Nature & Minimal Means (2009)

    "Aspire" - Andy Mitchell from Of Nature & Minimal Means (2009)

    Andy Mitchell's official website
    Andy Mitchell on MySpace


    Eric Dina is a New Port Richey, Florida musician who goes by the moniker of Oh, Mountain. He a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, percussion, mandolin and violin. Dina's unpolished, lo-fi instrumental recordings also include various sound effects and samples with interesting results. Oh Mountain cites among his influences The Books (especially the album "Lemon of Pink"), Dosh, The Microphones and Mount Eerie.

    "I favor percussion and the sound of thick drums a lot and in cases more often than not I started a recording with nothing but a simple floor tom beat," Dina told IRC. "In a sense, its easier for me to hear a melody when I know what the drums will sound like. Through the years I have acquired more and more instruments and recording equipment to sort of expand the way things sound." We like Dina's refreshingly original and organic sound very much.

    "Bear's Beat" - Oh Mountain, single release (2009)

    "No. 2" - Oh Mountain, single release (2009)

    Oh Mountain on MySpace

    Wicked Scream is the moniker of the one-man alternative rock project by Charlie Dorrell from White Lake, Michigan, a rather obscure singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer. Signed on by Coy Boy Records, Wicked Scream is currently in the process of becoming a "three to four-piece ensemble," Dorrell proclaims with the hope to "inspire anybody influenced by under-produced, raw & gritty rock." So far, so good.

    Wicked Scream's debut EP, Earwax Casket, contains songs like the hard rocker "Kleptosis" and the Nirvana-like acoustic track "Bluesy." It will be interesting to see what this one man project that may eventually morph into a full band will deliver for their first full length release, and whether they are able to make progress in their quest to "bring back underground rock and take down mainstream rock." Unfortunately, neither he, nor his label, have any solid information online (other than non-optimized MySpace page); and therefore we have no artwork or photos to present.

    "Bluesy" - Wicked Scream from Earwax Casket EP (2009)

    "Kleptosis" - Wicked Scream from Earwax Casket EP (2009)

    Wicked Scream on MySpace

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       November 22, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Brandon Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound highlighted the YouTube video above that features a cover version of a recent Deerhunter track "Rainwater Cassette Exchange," calling it "fantastically superior to the original. It actually sent shivers up my spine." It's not everyday that a popular musician declares a random YouTube cover of his/her own song better than their original version. Here is the original of "Rainwater Cassette Exchange."

    In a live clip of Snow Patrol covering Oasis' "Wonderwall" you'll first notice the loud roar of boos from the crowd when Oasis is mentioned, and yet they sing along to every word of the song shortly afterwards. Interesting.

    Kyle Wess of Blind Man's Colour has just released a very mellow and hazy-like cover version of Simon and Garkunkel's classic hit "I Am A Rock" and Coconut and The Duke deliver their own subdued version of Vampire Weekend's otherwise upbeat song, "Walcott."

    The relatively unknown band Holy Ramos present a decent cover of a rarely known yet 1981 great song by The Kinks, although the subject matter did create some stir among some critics at the time, even though Ray Davies said years later it was metaphoric expression, not an actual song about a dirty old man in the park. Also check out cover songs from She & Him, CFCF, Pedro The Lion, M. Ward, Little Girls, Carlos Pesina and Xiu Xiu

    "Wonderwall" (Oasis) - Snow Patrol

    "I Am A Rock" (Simon & Garfunkel) - Chromatic Flights
    The Original: "I Am A Rock" - Simon & Garfunkel

    "Walcott" (Vampire Weekend) - Coconut and the Duke

    Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths) - She & Him

    "Art Lover" (The Kinks) - Holly Ramos
    The Original: "Art Lover" - The Kinks

    "Forbidden Colours" (Sylvian & Sakamoto) - CFCF

    "Let Down" (Radiohead) - Pedro The Lion

    "Let My Love Open The Door" (Pete Townsend) - M. Ward
    The Original: "Let My Love Open The Door" - Pete Townsend

    "Heinz" (Artery) - Little Girls

    "Little Secrets" (Passion Pit) - Carlos Pesina

    "Isobel" (Bjork)- Xiu Xiu


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       November 21, 2009    3 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Martin Bisi, Bill Laswell, Fiery Furnances, Dresden Dolls and Balkan Beat Box

    Martin Bisi is a famed producer who built a recording studio with Brian Eno three decades ago, producing albums for some of the best bands of the 1980's and early 90s underground rock movement, including Sonic Youth, The Swans, Dresden Dolls and The Boredoms, to name just a few. Bisi, who is also a musician, songwriter and engineer, recently jumped into the sound tank himself to record tracks with folks like Fiery Furnances' dummer Bob D'Amico, prolific producer and bassist Bill Laswell (The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and many others), and members of The Dresden Dolls and Balkan Beat Box. Laswell was also instrumental in creating the studio with Bisi and Eno.

    In fact, Bisi and Laswell collaborated with Herbie Hancock to record the 1983 Grammy Award-winning song, "RockIt" - the first hit song to feature turntable scratching. Jumping forward to this year, all of this talent in one room is a combination sure to result in something interesting, which is exactly what these next songs, "Mile High - Apple of My Eye" and "Drink Your Wine," prove to be. The songs are from the recently released five-track digital only EP Son of a Gun, and were sent to IRC by Bisi himself. The first song featured below is a perfect track for Halloween, or even The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack, while "Drink Your Wine" is more of an uptempo rocker that is fun and infectious at the same time (watch the video above).

    "Mile High - Apple of My Eye" - Martin Bisi & Bill Laswell from Son of a Gun (2009)

    "Drink Your Wine" - Martin Bisi & Company from Sun of a Gun (2009)

    Get Son of a Gun from iTunes.

    Of the recording of the EP, Bisi said: "With Laswell, I did the 'modern' approach of sending him files, letting him do whatever, and then adjusting. He really surprised me. I was expecting his usual very groove or dub oriented bass, and he gave me something very ambient, laden with effects and trippy. That pretty much sums up the M.O. on this EP...With "Mile High- Apple Of My Eye," I asked Butterface (the keyboardist on the EP) to give me some programmed rhythms and sounds with a trip-hop vibe, specifically for Laswell to play on, and he turned it around in 30 minutes."

    Martin Bisi's Official Website
    Martin Bisi on MySpace
    Bill Laswell on MySpace

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       November 20, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    From their first meeting in October 2008, Swimming In Speakersʼ multi-instrumentalist Chris Clarke and talented vocalist Meadow Eliz of Saranac Lake, New York used a Casio, a laptop and a hodge-podge of analog equipment to begin recording songs together. Here is their lo-fi, dreamy pop as featured on the songs "In Knowing" and "Serve Them Well."

    "Serve Them Well" - Swimming in Speakers from s/t EP (2009)

    "In Knowing" - Swimming in Speakers from s/t EP (2009)


    Los Angeles singer/songwriter Scott Ryan, along with his band, create experimental, melodic folk and indie rock using a range of instruments, including mandolin, glockenspiel, wurlitzer, organ, mellotron, guitar, violin, bajno, thumb piano, bass and drums. The band's music is mellow, at times downright somber, as evidenced on the song, "Tree Man." Another of the band's songs, "Houndstooth Coat," has an obvious, but nicely executed, Talking Heads-influence that borders on punk rock. Ryan has opened for artists like Sherwood, Josh Ritter and The Helio Sequence.

    "Tree Man" - Scott Ryan from Tree Man EP (2009)

    "Houndstooth Coat" - Scott Ryan from Tree Man EP (2009)

    Scott Ryan on MySpace


    The first time I heard the Black Mercies I thought of U2. Upon further investigation, some of you will disagree, but it's just what first came to mind. The Portland, Oregon's band describes its music as "infused with the cosmopolitan swagger of Roxy Music and the rapt melodrama of contemporaries like Muse and The Bravery." The band features "BB" on vocals and guitar, Colby Hendricks on bass, Caleb Skinner on keys and Eric Storm on drums.

    "Ballad Of A Kept Man" - Black Mercies from Murder It Sweetly (2009)

    Black Mercies on MySpace

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    In Dee Mail: New Music from Beautiful Small Machines, Looking Glass, Inkwell, Lemonwilde, Cool Devices & More

    New Music Videos from Ash, Surfer Blood, Matt & Kim, Monsters of Folk, Japandroids, Fool's Gold and Little Comets

    In Dee Mail - New Songs from Fearless Vampire Killers and Pope Joan

    Bands to Watch: Brooklyn's Indie Rock Band Low Water


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       November 19, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    realestatedebutalbumSummer still lingers in the musical meanderings of one of today's best new indie releases. The long-awaited debut LP from New Jersey 'buzz' band Real Estate is out today, and for those who received an advance copy last month, we can tell you that it's one of the best indie rock debuts of 2009. That's saying a lot in a year in which there have been so many impressive debuts. Band members Martin Courtney, Matthew Mondanile, Etienne Pierre Duguay and Alex Bleeker got the ears of music bloggers and others as far back as last March during Austin's South by Southwest conference, and they haven't let go since.

    As their 'buzz band' status - an admittedly overused term, but which is quite fitting of the band's warm, hazy sound - increased with the temperatures throughout the summer months, Real Estate began to draw big crowds wherever they performed, and were were one of the most talked, and blogged, about bands at last month's CMJ 'fest' in New York City. Music lovers and others sought them out to soak up some of Real Estate's summeresque sounds; a blend of carefully baked, ethereal psychedelic pop mixed with a constant slow flow of folky vibes, booming drums, muted, unassuming vocals and ambient electric guitar jams.

    The band's themes and lyrics combine the dreary monotony of castaway suburban life ("Suburban Beverage," "The Mall," etc.) with endless aquatic references ("Pool Swimmers," "Let's Rock the Beach," "Green River," and so on), tie-dyed harmonies, glo-fi reverberations and lazy, understated melodies.

    "Beach Comber" - Real Estate from s/t debut (2009)

    It is no surprise that Real Estate have been frequently compared to The Clean, The Beach Boys, Galaxie 500 and Jersey's own The Feelies. Real Estate may be dumped on by some indie lo-fi purists (yes, a contradiction in terms), but hey, Jersey is used to being dumped on. (Real Estate remind us much of Blind Man's Colour, a trippy Florida psych pop duo we featured earlier this year as a band to watch, and who were quickly signed to Kanine Records only weeks later).

    "Fake Blues" - Real Estate from s/t debut via Stereogum (2009)

    "Green River" - Real Estate from s/t debut (2009)

    Bonus: "Beach Point Pleasant" - Ducktails (the moniker of band member Mondanile's musical side project)

    Other new releases today include the much anticipated debut from the indie rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures - featuring Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones - plus a B-side leak of an upcoming Arctic Monkeys' EP, and bands we think you should hear, including Globes on Remote, Bloodsugars, A Grave with No Name; The Chairs; Mark Matos & Os Beaches and 10 great songs from recent LP and EP releases that you may have missed, but we think you'll enjoy.

    "New Fang" - Them Crooked Vultures from s/t debut (2009)

    "Fright Lined Dining Room" - Arctic Monkeys from Cornerstone EP (2009)

    "D.T. Lipps" - Globes on Remote from The Woo Hoo Hoo (2009)
    Double-shot: "Space Camp" - Globes on Remote from The Woo Hoo Hoo (2009)

    "The Light at the End of the Tunnel" - Bloodsugars from I Can't Go On, I'll Go On (2009)

    "Open Water" - A Grave With No Name from Mountain Debris (2009)

    "Charlotte Pipe" - The Chairs from Nine Ways (2009)

    "High Priest of the Mission" - Mark Matos & Os Beaches from Words of the Knife (2009)
    Double-shot: "Hired Hand" - Mark Matos & Os Beaches from Words of the Knife (2009)


    Random Recent Releases You May Have Missed But Should Probably Hear:

    "Terminally Chill" - Neon Indian from Psychic Chasms (2009)

    "Day Glo" - Brazos from Phosphorescent Blues (2009)

    "Free Energy" - Free Energy from s/t debut (2009)

    "In Steps" - Letting Up Despite Great Faults from s/t debut (2009)

    "The Sun Ain't Shining No More" - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from s/t debut (2009)

    "The Economic Chastisement" - Kinch from The Economic Chastisement EP (2009)

    "Tunnelvision" - Here We Go Magic from s/t debut (2009)

    "Cold Floors" - The Steps from Take It All In (2009)

    "Wohlwill" - Friska Viljor from New Beginnings (2009)

    "Invisible Forces" - The Fresh and Onlys from Grey-Eyed Girls (2009)

    What do you think of these songs? Use the comments link below, Facebook, Twitter or whatever social network you prefer to interact with thousands of music lovers, band members and music professionals every day from around the world.

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       November 17, 2009    6 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    MP3: "Joy Kicks Darkness" (sample) - Ash

    With the introduction of their unique A-Z singles subscription service last month, members of the indie band Ash have created a new type of music distribution model. For a one-time subscription fee of approximately $20, subscribers will receive 26 vinyl and digital copies of new songs - one every two weeks - until October 2010. Regardless of when subscribers sign up, they will receive all 26 vinyl and/or digital singles. The first single, "True Love 1980", was released last month.

    After deciding they would never again release a traditional LP record, and instead only put out series of singles, Ash devised the A-Z subscription series (see the promo video below). By doing so, the band has set out into a brave new world where the musicians take back more control of their work while simultaneously focusing on building a stronger relationship with their most dedicated and loyal fans.

    If you think about it - from a marketing standpoint, and other angles like promotion, fan retention and publicity - the idea is genius. Don't be surprised if other artists and bands follow a similar path to releasing new music (we'll have more about this later in a feature called "Is the LP Concept Dead?").

    To find the subscription that works best for you - including iTunes - visit the band's official web store. Check out the FAQs page for full details.

    There are hundreds of new music videos that have come out in the past few weeks and months, but the following are favorites here in the cafe. Included in this installment of New Music Videos are song reels from the awesome 'buzz' band Surfer Blood, plus Matt & Kim, Monsters of Folk, Japandroids, Fool's Gold, The Horrors, Little Comets and an album promo video of Julian Casablancas' Phrazes for the Young. First, though, check out this just released (11/16) video of Beck and The Record Club (including Wilco and Feist members) covering former Moby Grape and Jefferson Starship member Skip Spence's "Little Hands," followed by an MP3 of the original song.

    MP3: "Little Hands" - Skip Spence

    MP3: "Swim (To Reach The End)" - Surfer Blood

    MP3: "Daylight" - Matt & Kim

    MP3: "Say Please" - Monsters of Folk

    MP3: "Crazy/Forever" - Japandroids

    MP3: "Whole New Way" - The Horrors

    Julian Casablancas - Album Preview Video for Phrazes for the Young
    MP3: "11th Dimension" - Julian Casablancas

    MP3: "Surprise Hotel" - Fool's Gold

    In Case You Missed:

    Names in Songs, Mix II: Freelance Whales, Conor Oberst, The Kinks, Animal Collective, The Dodos & Yo La Tengo

    The Musical Genius of Singer-Songwriter Will Stratton

    Today's Best Indie Rock Releases: Zack Martin, Anders Ponders, Tommy T, Pants Yell and Bears In Heaven

    The Interestingly Eccentric Indie Rock of Brooklyn's One Man Band Brad Oberhofer

    Indie Cover Songs, Vol. V: The Format, Ruby Weapon, Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, Dr. Dog & Band of Horses

    Band of The Week: Long Beach Folk Pop Band Avi Buffalo

    Today's New Indie Releases: Orba Squara, The Swell Season, The Whigs, I Love You, Glass Ghost, Pugwash, Lullwater & More


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       November 16, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    freelancewhalesSong titles that include names in them are nothing new; there are literally thousands of such songs that span the history of music. This playlist focuses on mostly indie rock songs that fall into this category. This is the second Names in Songs mix (see Mix One featuring Throw Me The Statue, M83, Deastro and more).

    The opening track in this latest mix is from Freelance Whales, one of the biggest "buzz" bands of the second half of 2009. In fact, Freelance Whales kick off a five-week tour with Fanfarlo tonight at Moe's in Englewood, Colorado. This mix also includes sweet tracks from Loney Dear, The Kinks, The Border Cops, Conor Oberst, Animal Collective, Yo La Tengo, The Fratellis, Gordie Tentrees, Red House Painters, The Dodos, Sunfold, Apples in Stereo and a double-shot from Travis.

    "Hannah" - Freelance Whales from Weathervane (2009)

    "Danny Callahan" - Conor Oberst from s/t debut (2008)

    "Wicked Anabella" - The Kinks from The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)

    "Derek" - Animal Collective from Strawberry Jam (2007)

    "Allie & Donnie" - The Border Cops from Musical Beatings for Your Inner Metrosexual (2007)

    "I Am John" - Loney Dear from Loney, Noir (2005)

    "Madeline" - Yo La Tengo from And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000)

    "My Friend John" - The Fratellis from Here We Stand (2008)

    "Alfred" - Gordie Tentrees from Mercy Or Sin (2009)

    "Find Me, Ruben Olivares" - Red House Painters from Shanti Project Collection (1999)

    "Jodi" - The Dodos from Visiter (2008)

    "Sara The American Winter" - Sunfold from Toy Tugboats (2008)

    "Stephen Stephen" - Apples in Stereo from Stephen Stephen (2006)

    "Sarah" - Travis from J. Smith (2008)
    Double-shot: "J. Smith" - Travis from J. Smith (2008)

    Popular Posts This Week:

    The Musical Genius of Singer-Songwriter Will Stratton

    Today's Best Indie Rock Releases: Zack Martin, Anders Ponders, Tommy T, Pants Yell and Bears In Heaven

    The Interestingly Eccentric Indie Rock of Brooklyn's One Man Band Brad Oberhofer

    New Videos from Grizzly Bear, Yo La Tengo, No Age, Beck and The Record Club and The Valentines

    Indie Cover Songs, Vol. V: The Format, Ruby Weapon, Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, Dr. Dog & Band of Horses


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       November 13, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    If you haven't heard of the young and brilliant singer and songwriter Will Stratton, here's your chance. Stratton's 2007 debut album, What the Night Said, was written and recorded while he was a teenager. Even popular indie artist Sufjan Stevens contributed to the record.

    Stratton just released his new album, No Wonder, on November 3rd, via the indie label Stunning Models on Display. We are excited to share with you songs from the LP, which we strongly encourage purchasing, not just because it's magnificent, almost magically splendid, from start to finish, but also to help encourage this prodigy to continue crafting his warm, heart-felt compositions.

    In fact, NPR called Stratton's music "disarmingly proficient"; PopMatters declared No Wonder "pretty damn close to a straight-up masterpiece" and the highly respected All Music dubbed the album, "stirring and hyper-personal yet universally beautiful."

    Stratton was born in California and grew up in New Jersey where he began composing songs on piano at three years old. Fans of Nick Drake and Mark Kozelek will likely hear why comparisons of Stratton's music have been made to these prolific songwriters. In fact, Stratton's favorite album of all-time, he said, is Drake's classic Pink Moon.

    If you enjoy Stratton's breathtakingly beautiful, and deeply personal, music, please vote for him as Deli Magazine's Artist of the Month. Last month, Stratton performed a set at New York's CMJ supported by the blog Pop Tarts Suck Toasted. In addition, he has previously toured with Sam Moss and These United States. Stratton one of the most gifted musical geniuses of our time, and we hope to hear much more from him in the months and years to come.

    "Your California Sky" - Will Stratton from No Wonder (2009)

    "Who Will" - Will Stratton from No Wonder (2009)

    Earlier this year, Stratton self-released a free EP, Vile Bodies; even more reason why we'll be following Stratton's career for a long time to come.

    "Vile Bodies" - Will Stratton from Vile Bodies EP (2009)

    "Lying in the Dark" - Will Stratton from Vile Bodies EP (2009)

    Note: After downloading and unzipping the free MediaFire EP, make sure to add .mp3 extension to the song titles so you can listen to them in your preferred music player.

    Finally, here are just a couple of the amazing tracks off Stratton's stunning 2007 debut LP, plus a cover from his mentor, Nick Drake. Special thanks to and for the following tracks.

    "I'd Hate To Leave You" - Will Stratton from What the Night Said (2007)

    "Night Will Come" (Demo) - Will Stratton from What the Night Said (2007)

    "Place To Be" (Nick Drake) - Will Stratton from

    Will Stratton: Official Website
    Will Stratton: MySpace
    Download a free zip of Stratton's demos, out-takes and B-sides.

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       November 12, 2009    4 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    The soundtrack to the film The Way We Get By, airing nationally on PBS this week, was composed and performed by Zack Martin of Carrigan and was featured this past Sunday as Amazon's download of the day. The film has also won numerous film awards and honorary mentions.

    At IRC, we send our respect to all veterans who have fallen in service of our country, and our thanks to all of those who serve with honor and loyalty every day. Regardless of whatever one's political ideologies, it is appropriate on this day before Veteran's Day to begin today's playlist with a free MP3 from this touching film.

    The Way We Get By is a story about troop greeters — a group of senior citizens who gather daily at a small airport to thank American soldiers departing and returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "The Trapper" - Zack Martin from The Way We Get By (2009)

    Other highlighted MP3s today include fresh tracks from the following artists and bands:
    Anders Ponders, Tommy T, Pants Yell!, Dragon Turtle, Loch Lomond, The Orange Peels and The Olympic Symphonium.

    "Slowest Motion Miracle" - Anders Ponders from Nodes of Overtones (2009)

    "The Response" - Tommy T from The Prester John Sessions (2009)

    "Cold Hands" - Pants Yell from Received Pronunciation (2009)

    "Darkest Summer" - deVries from Death to God (2009)

    "Island of Broken Glass" - Dragon Turtle from Almanac (2009)

    "Wax and Wire" - Loch Lomond from Night Bats (2009)

    "We're Gonna Make It" - The Orange Peels from 2020 (2009)

    "Intentions Alone" - The Olympic Symphonium from More in Sorrow than in Anger (2009)

    "Burnout" - Ox from Burnout (2009)

    Recent Releases You Might Have Missed:

    "Love Sick Teenagers" - Bear In Heaven from Beast Rest Forth Mouth (2009)
    "Kids" (MGMT) - The Kooks, single cover version (2009)
    "Shattered Shine" - Crystal Stilts from Alight of Night (2009)
    "You Cried Me" - Jookabox from Dead Zone Boys (2009)
    "Gloomy Monday Morning" - The Black Hollies from Indian Summer (2009)
    "Life Magazine" - Cold Cave from Love Comes Close (2009)
    "The Fall Companion" - Afternoon Naps from Parade (2009)
    "Pigs" (featuring a marching band) - DM Stith from Heavy Ghost


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       November 10, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    Brooklyn musician Brad Oberhofer (photo via

    Continuing on with IRC's post-CMJ coverage, it is puzzling as much as it is refreshing that musician Brad Oberhofer isn't more well known within the arguably saturated indie rock genre.

    At first examination of the huge, rhapsodic sound of his work, one would never guess Oberhofer records as a solo artist. A drummer and vocalist primarily, Oberhofer crafts a big sound all on his own, blending various instruments and electronic samples to pump out energy charged, erratically arranged, and somewhat danceable rhythms and melodies that feed off of experimental and traditional influences, making his music both accessible, and unclassifiable, at the same time.

    In 2006, Oberhofer left his native Tacoma, Washington - where he studied classical music - and moved to Brooklyn. Since that time, he has been recording at home, and playing small venues in and around the New York City metro area. He was a featured artist at The Den last month during NYC's CMJ.

    Oberhofer's music runs the gamut of indie sub-genres, from noise pop to dance punk, and even "freak folk." Take the song "Dead Girls Can Dance"; now, imagine Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) crashing into Wavves. And, "I Could Go," with its whistling, oohs and ahhs, vocal layering, smashing cymbals, and somehow catchy hooks, is, all at once, mysterious, engaging and strange.

    The track "Away From You" is another example of Oberhofer's memorable, eccentric sound. If you're walking around the East Side one of these days, and you hear a distinctive howling, whistling and clashing of sounds, it might just be Oberhofer playing at a small bar, or even, a grocery store.

    As we've seen with so many one-man bands featured on IRC, Oberhofer writes and records his music on his own, plays all of the instruments, and even distributes and promotes his work. When he performs live, he is often accompanied by Clyde Kurtis on drums and Andrew Heaton on guitar and keys.

    "I view recorded music and live music as two completely separate art forms," Oberhofer told IRC, "so I try to make sure each have their own distinct advantages." His musical roots, he says, trace back to "competitive freestyle rapping in the 5th grade," his classical music training, and an appreciation for bands like The Unicorns, Hella, Clues and Okay.

    In describing the Brooklyn 'indie scene,' Oberhofer said: "I think there are an insane amount of ridiculous bands that all have super good ideas to the point where I find myself questioning whether or not it is possible to innovate. They deserve to explode as they please. And by explode, I mean 'blow up'."

    The songs included here are off of his self-titled, self-released EP, some of which were recently remastered. What do you think?

    "I Could Go" - Brad Oberhofer

    "Dead Girls Dance" - Brad Oberhofer

    "Away From You" - Brad Oberhofer

    Oberhofer on MySpace

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       November 8, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    "Ready, Able" - Grizzly Bear from Veckatimest (2009)

    Kicking off this latest installment of Indie Rock Videos is the just released official video (above) of Grizzly Bear's "Ready, Able" from their highly acclaimed 2009 LP, Veckatimest. Check out Yo La Tengo performing "Here To Fall" from their latest LP, Popular Songs, on a rooftop in Brooklyn last month for Pitchfork TV.

    Following Yo La Tengo is another Pitchfork TV premier of No Age's video for the title track off their latest EP, Losing Feeling. Smashing Pumpkins' frontman Billy Corgan stopped by David Lynch Foundation's studios recently to talk about the song crafting process, including his contribution to Lynch's film soundtrack for Lost Highway.

    Beck and The Record Club continue to dazzle with their cover versions of Leonard Cohen songs; during the summer, the club launched their project with various cover songs from The Velvet Underground. Featured below is the video for the Cohen cover of "Sisters of Mercy," (plus the original track) featuring Beck, Devendra Banhart and MGMT. Lastly, watch a new video from The Valentines, a UK rock band that you probably unfamiliar with, but hopefully will hear more from in the near future. The vid was sent in by director Liam Simpson.

    "Here To Fall" - Yo La Tengo from Popular Songs (2009)

    "You're A Target" - No Age from Losing Feeling EP (2009)

    "Eye" - Smashing Pumpkins from Lost Highway soundtrack (1996)

    "Sisters of Mercy" (Original Version) - Leonard Cohen from Greatest Hits (1975)

    Stream "We Are The Band" and other songs from this up and coming UK band (not to be confused with The Valentines band of four decades ago).

    Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

    In The Reels: 'Where The Wild Things Are' and Karen O and The Kids Soundtrack

    New Music Videos from The Bright Light Social Hour, Pearl Jam, The Flaming Lips and IndieDoc Film 'East of Sunset'

    Indie Cover Songs, Vol. V: The Format, Ruby Weapon, Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, Dr. Dog & Band of Horses

    Ears To The Music, VIII: Mountain Goats, Chll Pll, Shaky Hands, Mission of Burma, Land of Talk, The Very Most & More

    Today's Best Indie Releases: Julian Casablancas, Yeasayer, The Swimmers and the Nocturnal States Compilation

    Band of The Week: Long Beach Folk Pop Band Avi Buffalo

    Special Playlists:

    Alternative and Indie Christmas Songs Playlist Mix Series

    The Definitive Collection of Indie Halloween Songs

    Follow, Friend and RSS IRC:

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       November 7, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    thekinkscoverThe now defunct indie rock duo The Format recorded a great cover version of The Kinks' 1971 classic song, "Apeman." Listen closely to the lyrics - it's just another example of many that demonstrates the genius songwriting of The Kinks' Ray Davies. Also included is the original version for comparison. Check back in a few weeks because we're going to publish a playlist of cover songs of The Kinks' songs from artists and bands like Stereophonics, Of Montreal, Frank Black, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, The Jam and more.

    Also featured in this mix is a fantastic cover by Ruby Weapon of Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks," plus cover songs from Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, Au Revoir Simone, Band of Horses, Pennywise, Dr. Dog, Venice is Sinking, and Her Space Holiday. Thanks to CaptainObvious and CoverMeSongs blogs for some of these musical rarities.

    "Apeman" (The Kinks) - The Format
    Original: "Apeman" - The Kinks

    "Two Weeks" (Grizzly Bear) - Ruby Weapon

    "The Rip" (Portishead) - Radiohead

    "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division) - Broken Social Scene

    "Oh You Pretty Things" (David Bowie) - Au Revoir Simone

    "Your Love Is Forever" (George Harrison) - Band of Horses

    "We're Gonna Fight" (7 Seconds) - Pennywise

    "Heart It Races" (Architecture in Helsinki) - Dr. Dog

    "Compass" (Okay) - Venice is Sinking

    "I'll Believe In Anything" (Wolf Parade) - Her Space Holiday

    Listen to all the Cover Songs playlist mixes.

    Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

    Ears To The Music, VIII: Mountain Goats, Chll Pll, Shaky Hands, Mission of Burma, Land of Talk, The Very Most & More

    Today's Best Indie Releases: Julian Casablancas, Yeasayer, The Swimmers and the Nocturnal States Compilation

    Band of The Week: Long Beach Folk Pop Band Avi Buffalo

    Indie and Alternative Christmas Songs Playlist Mix Series

    Today's New Indie Releases: Orba Squara, The Swell Season, The Whigs, I Love You, Glass Ghost, Pugwash, Lullwater & More

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       November 5, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    The following playlist mix features a number of songs from recent releases that are music to our ears. There is no time to do a review here in order to concentrate on some really amazing new music from artists and bands that we are prepping to share with all of you. Therefore, we'll let the music speak for itself.

    If you like what you hear, check out the artists' websites and MySpace pages for more and help do your part to keep independent and alternative music alive and well; without all of us doing our part to support the music we like the most, it will be even harder than it is now for relatively unknown musicians and bands to keep doing what they do.

    "Genesis 3:23" - Mountain Goats from Life of the World to Come (2009)

    "Pass Out" - Chll Pll from Aggressively Humble (2009)

    "Allison and the Ancient Eyes" - The Shaky Hands from Let It Die (2009)

    "1, 2, 3, Partyy!" - Mission of Burma from The Sound The Light The Speed (2009)

    "You May Never" - Land of Talk from Fun and Laughter (2009)

    "Autumn" - The Very Most from Autumn (2009)

    "And Suddenly" - The School from Searching For The Now 6 (2009)

    "Another Noon" - Jon & Roy from Another Noon (2009)

    "Fantasy Pictures" - T.H. White from The Private Spotlight (2009)

    "Lullaby" - Dark Mean from Dark Mean EP (free) (2009)

    "Living This Life" - The Dutchess & the Duke from Sunset/Sunrise (2009)

    "The Hero is a Graduate" - Mumblin' Deaf Ro from Senor, My Friend (2009)

    "Down to the Wire" - Son Volt from American Central Dust (2009)

    "Kerouac" - Chris Hickey from Razzmatazz (2009)

    "Nothern Lights" - Bowerbirds from Upper Air (2009)

    "Dreamer" - Tiny Vipers from Life on Earth (2009)

    "Deja" - Helado Negro from Awe Owe (2009)

    "John & Yoko (featuring Yelle)" - Kennedy from Life Is a Party (2009)

    "Peach Cobbler" - Marmoset from Tea Tornado (2009)

    "Caterpillar Playground" - Nurses from Apples Acre (2009)

    "The Diz" - The Love X Nowhere from High Score Blackout (2009)

    Music Related Shorties

    PC Magazine reviews Google Music lists the Best 8 Ways to Share Mix Tapes

    Writer and filmmaker Antonino D'Ambrosio tells the astonishing and dramatic story behind Johnny Cash's virtually unknown folk protest record Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian.

    Free download from Blind Man's Colour member Kyle West's musical project Chromatic Flights

    The Pablove Foundation and Dreamworks Studios will hold an acoustic night of performances at LA's The Avalon Nov. 21st with sets from Tom Morello (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Tom Gabel (Against Me!), Butch Walker and others to raise money for children with cancer.

    Largehearted Boy has been compiling listings of the top songs and albums of the 2000s as determined by other blogs, websites and online press.

    Erlend Oye of Kings of Convenience talks to PopMatters about the band's new album, Declaration of Dependence.

    Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair will return in 2010 and partner with the green i4c Campaign to raise awareness of social issues.


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       November 4, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    juliancasablancasToday marked the official CD release of The Strokes' Julian Casablancas' debut solo album, Phrazes For The Young. So far, the album is mostly a departure from The Strokes guitar heavy sound, which lets Casablancas explore a more eclectic territory, which he does very nicely, raising his status as a talented singer, songwriter and musician.

    Other new releases today include the delicious pop of The Swimmers sophomore LP, as well as killer fresh tracks from Yeasayer, Laarks and Holopaw. Don't miss four additional impressive tracks from a new electro pop compilation out today.

    "11th Dimension" - Julian Casablancas from Phrazes For The Young (2009)
    Double-shot: "Glass" - Julian Casablancas from Phrazes For The Young (2009)

    "A Hundred Hearts" - The Swimmers from People Are Soft (2009)

    "Ambling Alp" - Yeasayer from Ambling Alp (2009)

    "All the Words You Can't Say Right" - Laarks from An Exaltation of Laarks (2009)

    "The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion" - Holopaw from Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness (2009)


    We're excited to bring you four tracks from a brand new 24-track compilation release from Ghostly International's affiliate label, Moongadget, titled Moongadget: Nocturnal Suites. Among the two dozen songs on the compilation are terrific tunes from band-to-watch New Villager, the swirling hip-pop of artist Mux Mool, the minimalistic groove and banjo picking of Shigeto, and the dreamy electro-pop hooks and beats of Worst Friends.

    The label describes the compilation as a "lovingly assembled mixtape, compiling brief, catchy, electronic-minded pop songs built for obsessive repeat listening." Word! Plus, it's a great deal - only $12 for the double CD, or download all 24 MP3s for $10 at Ghostly's website.

    "Rich Doors" - New Villager from Moongadget: Nocturnal Suites (2009)

    "Ballad of Gloria Featherbottom" - Mux Mool from Moongadget: Nocturnal Suites (2009)

    "Is This All for Real" - Shigeto from Moongadget: Nocturnal Suites (2009)

    "I Wish I Don't Drop Dead" - Worst Friends from Moongadget: Nocturnal Suites (2009)

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       November 3, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    The delicious pop harmonies and choruses of Brooklyn's DIY outfit Monogold are hard to ignore. The band's sophomore release, We Animals, has generated a buzz with publications like Spin, and we can certainly see (hear) why.

    "Feel Animal" - Monogold from We Animals (2009)

    "Dead Sea Minerals" - Monogold from We Animals (2009)

    Next, Old Canes is the solo project of Lawrence, Kansas folk artist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Crisci (Appleseed Cast). Old Canes' sophomore LP, Feral Harmonies, was released in October by Saddle Creek, and featured on Stereogum's Gum Drop playlist.

    "Little Bird Courage" - Old Canes from Feral Harmonies (2009)

    The emotionally-charged, neo-glam rock of UK-born, Florida resident one-man band Slideshow Freak is apparent on the song, "Something More," just one of the tracks on the free EP, We Should Swing.

    "Something More" - Slideshow Freak from We Should Swing (2009)

    Hailing from the southern California city of Costa Mesa, the rock band Japanese Motors like writing songs about surfing, drinking and partying, and that formula has caught on; in fact, their MySpace page alone has never half of a million page views.

    "Whatever" - Japanese Motors from Luxury Wafers EP (2009)

    Sean Scolnick, more popularly known as Langhorne Slim, is a Pennsylvania born folk singer and songwriter who has built a following opening for bands like the Avett Brothers, Cake and The Low Anthem, and performing at big festival like Newport Folk Festival and Bonnaroo. The following is a cut from his latest LP.

    "Say Yes" - Langhorne Slim from Be Set Free (2009)

    Laura Veirs recently cut ties with Nonesuch Records, started her own label and released a new LP July Flame. Here's the first single from the LP.

    "Wide Eyed, Legless" - Laura Veirs from July Flame (2009)

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       November 2, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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    avi buffalo mp3sEighteen-year-old Long Beach, Calif., guitarist and singer/songwriter Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, and his band, Avi Buffalo, have created quite a buzz within the indie music circles during the past year with their impressive folky pop hooks, intriguing lyrics and live shows. So it was no surprise to some when Seattle's legendary Sub Pop Records - home of popular indie artists like Band of Horses, The Shins, Iron and Wine, Grand Archives and Blitzen Trapper - signed Avi Buffalo to a record deal last month.

    With Isenberg at the helm, Avi Buffalo, consisting of Sheridan Riley (drums), Arin Fazio (bass) and Rebecca Coleman (keyboards and vocals), are now under the wings of one of the finest indie record labels in the business.

    Tonight, Nov. 2nd, Avi Buffalo will open for the wildly popular Vampire Weekend in a sold out show at the Art Theatre in Long Beach - clearly an indication of Avi's rising star status within the indie music scene.

    Things started to roll for the band after a couple of well received live performances in 2007 and 2008 led to a meeting with musician and producer Aaron Embry. Before long, Embry - who has worked with musicians like Elliott Smith, Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris - was recording Avi Buffalo's material.

    The result of this collaboration is evident on the band's label debut 7", due out next month via Sub Pop. The A-side track, "What's In It For?", is a jangly guitar driven song with a southern rock twang, and rounded out with well crafted, melodic hooks, Isenberg's high pitched and quirky vocals (think Wayne Coyne meets Daniel Johnston), and uplifting back-up choruses.

    "What's In It For?" - Avi Buffalo from What's in It For? 7" (2009)

    Isenberg begin recording home demos in 2006 when he was just a sophomore in high school (most of the band members recently graduated from high school; Riley is still a senior), and as recently as this past spring, he was mixing the demos using Macbook Pro Tools and SM58/57. In August, the band independently released five songs via their Bandcamp page, allowing fans to decide how much they would pay for each track.

    One of those tracks, "We Can't Try This Again," is a lazy, lo-fi acoustic strummer, featuring the following lyrics: no one ever said we can't try this again/brought it so high, brought me so high/spent too much time in there/don't know just what you saw. The translation is, perhaps, typical teenage disillusionment with the highs and lows of young love. Near the end of the song, a brief, but edgy, guitar riff shatters the dreamy soundscape, and closes with a chorus of whistling.

    "We Can't Try This Again" - Avi Buffalo

    If you like what you hear, you can purchase ($1 minimum) more tracks from the band, including "Distaste and Interest", Avi Buffalo's first song - written and recorded by Isenberg (when his moniker was Avi Buffalo before it became the band name) when he was only in the 10th grade.

    It's possible that some of these songs will make it on the track listing for the band's debut full-length album, planned for release in spring of 2010. Avi Buffalo lists musical influences such as Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Wilco, Panda Bear and Grizzly Bear. Isenberg recently told BeatCrave: "As much as I’d love to say we’re not pop, we’ve got some poppy stuff going on. I like the way hooks sound, and I like the idea of infiltrating minds with catchy stuff."

    We are looking forward to seeing Avi Buffalo open for the Grand Archives on Nov. 12th in Santa Cruz, Calif. In our review of the show, we will published more tracks from Avi Buffalo, including a couple of hard-to-find songs. In the meantime, listen to more songs on the band's MySpace page.

    Check out a HD quality video of Isenberg discussing his music, with studio out-takes, plus a video of the 7" B-side track, "Jessica" and a live recording of the song "Remember Last Time".

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