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His name is proudly not a marketer's dream, but Sweden's Erik Mattiason, better known as the man behind the band Melpo Mene, is a dream of a songwriter and musician.

Melpo Mene enjoyed a spike of indie blog love last year with the release of the gorgeous and delightful love song titled "I Adore You." Although many people know the song because it was featured on a popular Volvo TV commercial last year, most of them could not tell you who sang it. Nevertheless, the commercial helped fuel Mene's brush with fame. The song reminds me very much of another gorgeous song, "Such Great Heights" by Iron & Wine (one of my favorite artists).

While some indie purists might cast Mene's music aside simply because it was featured in a popular television commercial, the fact is that Melpo Mene is one of the best indie singer and songwriters of our time. The proof is in the pudding.

With rich, soothing vocal arrangements, Paul Westerburg-style melodies, pop, country and rock infusions, Melpo Mene created one of the best under-rated releases of 2008. His songs are sad, introspective, heart wrenching and purely delightful from start to finish.

While "I Adore You" is a magnificent, even addictive, song that will likely be played years from now at high school reunions, it's surprising that the album which hosted the track - Bring The Lions Out - received such little praise, making it clearly one of the most overlooked albums of 2008. In fact, it could be one of the most under rated albums of the past decade.

The album is a breath-taking accomplishment of magnificently composed and produced songs featuring piano, guitar, flutes and perfect percussions on songs like the endearing "We Were Kids" and the alt-indie psychopop of the dreamlike "Snakes and Lions".

Melpo Mene's music oozes with rich choruses, breath-taking musicianship and tinges of electronica throughout. One intoxicating track after another easily makes Bring The Lions Out one of those must-have albums I sometimes recommend strongly.

The song "Klick Klack Clock" sets out on a musical journey lush with layers of instruments and a driving melody reminiscent of chamber pop mixed with folk rock. On songs like "Under The Moon", Mene turns to a lo-fi country rock ballad with near-whisper vocals - think of Mojave 3.
In 2007, Mene released his stellar debut LP titled Holes (listen to featured songs below), a potent example of an artist that would become heard, if not by name, around the world.

Fans of Sufjan Stevens, M. Ward, Bill Ricchini, Andrew Bird and other comparable contemporaries, are most likely to enjoy Melpo Mene's music. And, if you're like me, you'll find yourself going back to it again and again.

It's frustrating when music this good doesn't receive the huge buzz it so much deserves. However, on the other hand, it's good, as alluded to above, because it's kind of like our little secret. But this is a secret we don't mind sharing with others: Melpo Mene is simply brilliant!

"I Adore You" - Melpo Mene from Bring The Lions Out
"Jedi" - Melpo Mene from Bring The Lions Out
"Snakes and Lions" - Melpo Mene from Bring The Lions Out
"Don't Save Me" - Melpo Mene from Holes (2007)
"Wait Up" - Melpo Mene from Holes

Lyrics to "I Adore You"

Lost in a daydream of blue
And I feel so free
And then It's like I fall from the sky
Everything that I see is you
And you should know that I'm
Thinking about what you said
When you held my hand

Oh I adore you

Now we are older and
Things disappeared somehow
And I was thinking that maybe
We'd stand a better chance If we met today
I find myself talking to sharks
On my way to an island and still

I adore you
I adore you
I adore you

I was young I was old
And we were in we were out
I wanna see I wanna see it all
I wanna die I wanna die
Sweetheart sweetheart
I thought I saw I thought I saw a light
See it now see it now

Melpo Mene on MySpace
Buy Melpo Mene's music

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   April 6, 2009    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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We covered Vampire Weekend quite a bit since they burst onto the indie scene last year at this time. So, in the on-going series, More Best Indie Albums of 2008, here's to Vampire Weekend's wildly, and sometimes over-hyped, debut album.

It is rare for a new band to get so much coverage - from Rolling Stone to New York Times - from a debut album. Vampire Weekend came up with a fresh sound, some call it gimmicky (not I), that caught on. Within a few months they were the buzz band of early 2008. They've even been on Saturday Night Live which just propelled VW into another sphere of musical success.

The band's album debut is full of fun, upbeat songs with an underlying swasi-indie pop sound they are so known for. Songs like "A Punk", "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and "Oxford Comma" made the album a big hit in 2008.

There is no doubt that we loved this album and the band's sound - even went to one of their shows in San Francisco - but over the year it became mundane. Now the pressure is really on these fellows from Brooklyn to come out with a solid follow-up to their popular break through debut.

"Ottoman" - Vampire Weekend available as a single only while awaiting word on when a new album is set for release. Interesting single and definitely a new sound.

So far as we can tell, there is only one relatively new song called "Ottoman" and is available for streaming on Vampire Weekend's MySpace page.

Listen to Vampire Weekend's DayTrotter Session from as early as October 2007, just a few months before their name and music exploded on the college radio and indie blogs.

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   February 27, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Brooklyn's indie rock eclectic elective Why? is definitely one of the most original and versatile artists to to receive well deserved attention in 2008.

With the release of their refreshing collage of songs on Alopecia, Why has etched themselves a place in modern indie rock. Many of Why?'s songs are completely different from one another that in a blind test it would be hard to say definitively that they are a set of songs from the same group. Electric eclectic is an appropriate tag.

Why? are very creative and accomplished musicians with a knack for eccentricity. This is part of what makes Alopecia so enjoyable, and definitely one of the best indie releases of 2008.

Whether they lay down - quite successfully we say - the rap in hip hop lo-fi tracks like "By Torpedo or Crohn's" and "A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under" or engage in quirky musical experimentalism with songs like "Simeon's Dilemma" - evoking comparisons to the glimmer psychedelic folk sound of The Flaming Lips.

The song "Fatalist Palmistry" is a memorable chorus-soaked pop song very much in the tradition of 1960s folk rock. Somehow Why? once again manages to pull off what most artists simply could not.

Other songs like "Song of the Sad Assassin", featuring overtures to Billy The Kid and Lee Harvey Oswald, make it even harder to pigeon hole Why?'s sound more than any other band we've heard in quite a while. Next thing you know you're listening to the song "The Hollows" with its Cure-like underpinnings.

Next, bubble gummy pop and drum machines predominate "These Few Presidents", yet another original song that somehow manages to be kind of cool. Nevertheless, the album is not without its weaknesses. The short songs on Alopecia, like opener "Exegesis" and "Twenty Eight" (44 seconds in length) are forgettable.

The over-riding theme of Alopecia is one of constant surprises. Just when you think the band had out done itself, another track spins and proves you wrong. I've haven't heard a record in a while from a relatively unknown band that instead sounds like an awesome compilation of the great songs from a line-up of talented artists.

What strikes me is that a creative writer could probably write an amazing story based on songs on Alopecia. It has all the elements of a great movie, in addition to being a spectacular album. In fact, Alopecia may turn out to be in the years to come must-have in any reputable indie rock music collection.

Why?'s MySpace page

"The Vowels, Part 2" - Why? from Alopecia

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   January 16, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Atlanta's very own indie music magic makers Deerhunter have become one of the most talked about quirky indie psychedelic rock bands of recent years. And for good reason.

But the band's latest 2008 double release Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. solidifies Deerhunter as one of the best non-mainstream bands of the so-called 'indie scene' despite frequent band changes and a string of misfortunes.

Just about every indie music blog, and even mainstream press, are hailing the band's latest work, but more importantly, the amazing journey listeners are taken on through songs, sounds and stories all along the way.

The two albums offer listeners a compendium of dreamy, warm songs full of sprawling concepts, singing and choruses, plus instrument experimentation mixed with psychedelic and garage style rock songs.

Sure, it has detractors that kicked it for being too 'straightforward' and 'generic indie', but as a complete work, that criticism is overly simplified. There's something for everyone on this album.

Microcastle highlights include "Never Stops", "Nothing Ever Happened" and "Little Kids" among others. One thing that is a bit annoying about so many of Deerhunter's songs is the time it takes for the song to reach and groove on the inevitable song climax.

Numerous Deerhunter songs start off slow and pick-up pace near the end. And then once you're into the meat of the song, it's over. A good example of this Deerhunter template is the album title song "Microcastle" (listed below). Is everyone competing with Sigur Ros (who we love!) for the longest dream-like intros to songs that end triumphantly?

"Nothing Ever Happened" - Deerhunter from Microcastle
"Games of Diamonds" - Deerhunter from Microcastle
"Microcastle" - Deerhunter from Microcastle

Stream Deerhunter on MySpace
Stream Weird Era Cont. on Lala

Check out Deerhunter (and other projects of Bradford Cox like Atlas Sound) on the official blog
and download rare, demo and other tracks and mixes

Check out this exclusive live recording from the tribute to John Peel, the famous BBC DJ who brought post punk and other genres to the masses for more than a decade.

Stream Deerhunter live in concert at Ellyot Island in England. (Deerhunter fans will love this)

Also, see our reviews of a Bradford Cox playlist and IRC's playlist challenge.

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   January 15, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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While receiving some blog acclaim in 2008, Deastro's release Keeper's failed, in some respects, to stir up the excitement that we believe it deserves. An example of this: We were stunned to find that Deastro's MySpace page, at the time of this printing, has received only about 125,000 profile views. WTF!? Talk about head scratchers.

One way to describe the man behind Deastro is that he is this musical prodigy who has been mixing music in his parent's basement since age 12.

Deastro is one moniker - another is Our Brother The Megazord - of indie electronica-pop artist, engineer and producer Randolph Chabot, a native son of Sterling Heights, Michigan. Chabot is not an unknown in the indie music spectrum, especially after the release of his 2007 double album Young Planets/Time The Teenage Twister.

Last summer, Chabot released his follow-up album, Deastro's Keeper's, as an Emusic exclusive digital download. Keeper's is a continium of one masterfully arranged track after another - an eclectic collection of wonderfully-written, well executed songs.

Keeper's is full of driving, lush beats and instrumental embellishments, sprawling and swirling compositions that are transcendental, harmonic and inspirational. Other songs, like the pop acoustic ballads "Child of Man, Son of God" help solidify Chabot's reputation as an amazing artist and technician.

Sprinkled throughout Keeper's are songs that range in style from German electronica, post-punk, new wave rock, shoegaze and psycho-pop. There is no template to pigeon hole Chabot's music - which is one of his strengths - other than a predictability that whatever he puts out has been impressive so far.

It very likely that once you start listening to this album, you won't stop. It might just grow on you, and songs like "Songs like "The Shaded Forests" "Open Up Ye Dark Gates!", "Light Powered", "The Goodman of the House" are hard to turn away from repeating. In fact, just about every song is

Thematically, it's hard to miss an overarching theme - nature, energy and an ode to another time and place. If there is a special place you would like to transcend to, chances are this album will take you there, and you might just find yourself going back to it time and again because "there" is a good place to be.

The entire album is a celebration of one man's ability to make a great record pretty much all by himself, from the writing, playing instruments to engineering and even drawing the album cover art. That makes Keeper's even more impressive, and definitely a keeper.

Enjoy the journey.

"The Shaded Forests"
- Deastro

"Light Powered"
- Deastro

Stream songs from the album at Deastro's MySpace page: and at

Randolph Chabot on Facebook

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   January 4, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Over the next month, IRC will publish our choices for the best indie releases of 2008.

There are too many great releases for 2008 to put out a rushed list. With that in mind, IRC will not rank the best albums for 2008 as so many reviewers do. Instead, we'll just publish what we think were the best indie albums of 2008 and let you decide which are your favorites.

For the actively curious, you can get a good sense of what our favorite albums will be by checking out the songs featured in our Best Indie Rock Songs of 2008 playlist series, but that's just a sampling.

So many other albums, the more we listen to them, are emerging on to the list, including releases from bands and artists like The Little Ones, The Rural Alberta Advantage, School of Seven Bells, Atlas Sound, The Tallest Man on Earth and others to be revealed in the coming month.

"Morning Tide" - The Little Ones from their debut full-featured album, Morning Tide

Download two other WMA music files from The Little One's previous releases and if you dig the band, we encourage buying their music - it's definitely worth it.

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   January 1, 2009    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Wow, we made it to volume No. 15 in the Best Indie Rock Songs of 2008. No matter what, it'll never be a full sampling of what's out there. A few months ago we said that we were a bit disappointed by the indie releases of 2008 compared to 2007.

In a way that's still true, but the point is 2008 is turning out to be another stellar year for new indie rock albums and artists (or at least artists that somehow got under our radar in previous years).

Albums of 2008 that rise in the top echelon of our playlists include The Walkmen's You & Me (absolutely freaking amazing), The Little Ones' Morning Tide, White Denim's Workout Holiday, TV on the Radio's Dear Science and Plants and Animals Parc Avenue.

"In The New Year" by The Walkmen from You & Me

"Morning Tide" by The Little Ones from Morning Tide

"Golden Age" by TV on the Radio from Dear Science

"Sitting" by White Denim from Workout Holiday

"New Kind of Love" by Plants and Animals from Parc Avenue

Well, the holidays are upon us and folks at the cafe are busy with festivities and family and everything else that clobbers us during this time of year. This, Vol. 15, of the Best Indie Rock Songs of 2008 playlist series, may just be the last for this topic.

But check back in case we decide to belt out a couple more of these lists. If you've missed any of the previous playlists, check out the series while all the songs are still available for sampling. And if you really like something buy it as a gift for someone special or just for yourself (you're special too!).

Peace on earth (better chance once the Bush regime finally leaves) and happy holidays everyone.
Cannot resist: "Hey Bush, we've got shoes for you."

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   December 17, 2008    5 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Current and upcoming releases (US dates)

12/7/09 Ólafur Arnalds - Dyad 1909
1/12/10 Vampire Weekend - Contra
1/19/10 Cold War Kids - Behave Yourself EP
1/19/10 Spoon - Transference
1/26/10 Beach House - Teen Dream
1/26/10 Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own
2/1/10 Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring
2/2/10 Midlake - The Courage of Others
2/9/10 Yeasayer - Odd Blood
2/23/10 Shout Out Louds - Work
2/23/20 Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
3/2/10 Rogue Wave - Permalight
3/2/10 The Whigs - In The Dark
3/9/10 Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
3/9/10 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks
3/16/10 Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
3/16/10 The Whigs - In The Dark
3/22/10 Jónsi - Go
3/23/10 She & Him - Volume 2
5/4/10 The New Pornographers - Together

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