Monday, April 27, 2009

The Assistants – Fiction

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There is a kind of 90s alt-rock feel to this, I think it is sweet: building up songs, and layered vocals, feel good melodies. The Assistants are from Toronto – or at least, they are based there – this comes through in their sound, they aren’t a wishy-washy east coast alternative band.

They’re classic indie-pop, and looking at their press pics, they look like a group of pals that one day decided to make some sweet music, and it took off. Fiction is their second release, but their first EP – and self released at that. This does not come through in their sound (or look), everything about the band is very professional, I guess that’s a testament to them as musicians and promoters.

They use some trumpet in the second track, “Stop Dead”, which is not a run of the mill indie-pop-strument. Though they make it work, it’s this kind of trumpet that you want to hear more of, it complements their sound and gives it a whole other aspect. On the whole, there is a subtlety of jangle-ness apparent in this EP. Very controlled and smartly done, I would recommend this to any indie-pop fan.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Rodeo - My First EP

“The Rodeo” is an anagram for the birth name of this young lady, and up until track 5, I was all like “Yeah. This girl sounds like a chilled out version of the CSS singer (Lovefoxxx?)” But then I hit the fifth, and the beautiful piano totally stopped me. The Rodeo has an amazingly beautiful voice that perfectly complements a piano played in sombre tones.

Smart or brave then, that most of her songs are folky… I think this was an unconscious decision, as her musical upbringing led her through “the pioneers of folk, blues and country music.” The word homage is used. Anyway, this folk style leads her to sounds like Alela Diane, minus the pirate element, but plus the attitude of Karen O.

The Rodeo’s “My First EP” was released under the label “Emergence” in 2007, Emergence is a French label, I think, and I think that The Rodeo is from France too, well it would make sense as her songs (though sung in English) have that French vibe to them. I strongly encourage you to listen to the song “I Could”.

Viva Maestro! - Y Luego...

Viva Maestro! are from Spain, they are “electro-pop” I guess; a genre that I do not (generally) get in to. Lucky then, for Viva Maestro! that I do find myself wanting to listen to this. It’s got a kind of 90s dance music vibe to it, unabashedly so. As in, I find myself wanting to get drunk with close friends, and close all the doors and windows of my house, and have a crazy all night dance party.

The words are all sung in Spanish, which I find to be a major positive, as for us non-Spanish speakers, it adds to the music, as opposed to being a separate layer of vocals, kind of like skat, but better. Viva Maestro! are from Barcelona, and in their influences list “VolksWagen New Bettle”, I agree with that. They do sound like the newer VolksWagen Beatles. Bright, shiny, bubbly, moving fast and smooth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Man From Another Place "the loneliest cowboy ep"

Reminds me a lot of Belle and Sebastian, Kings Of Convenience, Todd Rundgren, retro sounding Josh Rouse... and to top it off these are just instrumentals. Some can put in an album that has the lyrics with music and they will say something like hey this would sound much better if you left it with music only. Would be neat to see another side of this band to see how this stuff with sound with vocals and if it didn't turn out the best they could leave them without. Either way this is a masterpiece that is catchy and pleasant and leaves you nodding your head in excitement and undoubtedly wanting more.

It is fair to say i haven't quite heard an album like this in my life. The experience reminds me of when i first discovered Kings of Convenience while being much younger or the first time i heard Sondre Lerche. I am very ecstatic and amazed at this masterpiece.

Check em out here:

Vacuum Spasm Babies "Whipping Clowns"

I have to start off saying how much i like the artwork for this release. Also i am quick to notice that these songs are very energetic. And from the sounds of this album it would be very interesting to see this band play live. The songs are very fun and some even have humorous sounds added to them. The voice sounds very much like the late Joe Strummer of The Clash meets Carlo Van Putten of the German band Dead Guitars.

One of the tracks reminded me a lot of the New York based band The Secret Machines. This album was very diverse in sound and was overall really hard to keep up with at times. The album has a lot of good things going on and from the sounds of things these very talented musicians will have a lot of bright years ahead.

Check em out here

Painted Romans "Evil Wigs And Bedroom Moments"

They went far and beyond in regards to the packaging of this release. The CD comes with a very nice full color poster plus a nice photo. The sounds are very pleasant. The vocals remind me of a slightly upbeat Dave Gahan. This artist also reminds me of the up and coming Pop band from Seattle area named Poland. When speaking of Poland and Painted Romans they both have something very in common which is both bands are overly original and exciting to listen to. At times the vocals also recall Sondre Lerche which is quite interesting since both Sondre Lerche and Painted Romans both hail from Norway.

Check em out here

The Cubby Creatures "After the Deprogramming"

This album reminded me of west coast singer songwriters Elliott Smith and Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart).
The lyrics in some of the songs appear awkward at times but catchy nonetheless. This album also reminds me a bit of Ben Folds Five. These songs have some very fine and promising moments to them.

Check em out here:

godsmania (demo ep)

Godsmania makes some really nice indie pop. Recalls indie poppers The Sunny Intervals (which is you don't already know them it's Andy from Pocketbooks). There are times that Godsmania comes across sounding like a Neo Beatle but in a cute Sondre Lerche kind of way. If that makes any sense at all. Godsmania has started their own label Spanner Records where they will self release some of their recordings. Sounds like there is some interesting British influence in here. I hear too many recollections that it would be hard for me to name them all here.

Check em out here

The Gravitons - Redetermination LP

From the United Kingdom and armed with a list of influences that rivals any other I have come across, the Gravitons are self-described as sounding (among others) like Californian and English 60s & 70s Psychedelic Folk Rock. A broad but fitting description, their sound has nuances that you can’t just nail down to one genre.

The name “The Byrds” seems to come up a lot in reference to them, however I think a more fitting name is Cass McCombs (a less electronic reliant version). That is to say, the Gravitons “Psychedelic Acoustic Indie Folk Country Rock” is steady and very real, the “Contemporary British Folk Music” that they liken themselves to is a good movement that they fit nicely into.

I think I have used enough quotations in this review, as such here is something straight from my mind: The Gravitons 2009 LP Redetermination, is the album you put on mid morning, on a day that you have to do something stressful, the LP soothes you, makes you happy, and reminds you that everything is going to work out fine.

Sofa City Sweetheart - S/T EP

Sofa City Sweetheart, I’m glad the name paints a very accurate portrait of the music they make. It’s on the more introspective side of indie pop, of the ‘sweetheart’ denomination, as for the term sofa city, it’s as though you were lounging around on a couch, chatting and enjoying yourself with friends. This is the music that plays to remind everyone how sweet it is.

This 5 track self-titled EP is around the 25 minute mark, yet the last track includes a ‘hidden’ 50 second vocal arrangement that I found very intriguing. I liked all of this EP, however the first song had the perfect balance of their sound “Good News For Jackie” a song dedicated to Jackie Johnson. Judging on their honeyed sound, I think that we’re talking in reference to the KCAL-TV weather forecaster and personality.

I found part 1 & 2 of "The Blind Man And The Boy He Used To Be" (each with respective titles) are the most absorbed songs referencing a childhood memory, a romantic one at that. Juan Lopez is Sofa City Sweetheart and his voice is one of the sweetest going around.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Boundary Jim ep

Very nice lo-fi recordings. EP came with instructions which tell the listener to play the songs as maximum volume. Very nice vocals reminescent of Thom Yorke in a good kind of way which is a very nice sound but not always easy to understand the lyrics but the end result is quite amazing. Oddly this reminds me a bit of Panda Bear and it also has a nice folk-y sound. Too bad none of the year end lists i've seen asked about what your favorite lo fi EP of the year was cos if they asked me i'd have a hard time deciding because of how great this record sounds.
Check em out on here:
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