Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Oversleep Excuse – Holding Hands

Hailing from Japan, the Oversleep Excuse seems to be a mixed band of Japanese (or maybe Japanese-Americans or something, I don’t know) and foreigners. This throws me back to when I lived in Daegu, South Korea and one of the best bands in town was a mixture of a foreign guy and some South Koreans. That band sounded a lot like Yo La Tengo, and Yo La Tengo has had so many phases it’s easy enough to pick and choose pieces that are reflected in the Oversleep Excuse, who are so precious that they make me sigh indie, yet I can’t think of a single band to compare them to.

The Yo La Tengo influence is there though, in the softer edges, in the hushed and whispered vocals (this is talking quiet YLT only), in the guitar meanderings that settle someplace for a short while, and only briefly. Sound effects creep in and out of the music, adding texture and never detracting from the melodic points. There’s harmony and there’s singular singing. There’s fun and there’s games. There’s a bit of darkness. There’s a lot of sunshine and romance. And the expected resulting bliss.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kanina “A Short Story”

This band from Japan named Kanina can surprise a person in many ways. The album contains 3 songs of what appears to be their short story. The song length is a big surprise with each song averaging to be almost 8 minutes in length. When the Danish artist named Mew came out with their album “Frengers” some years back people were calling it one of a kind or genre defining music. I think though Kanina’s music couldn’t be described in that way but I choose to describe it as extremely lovely. These would be perfect songs to fall asleep or songs that could serve as “Bed time stories”.

Check em out here

Leo Leoson ep

Leo Leoson has a very interesting voice. In a way it seems like the voice can take over each song for good and for bad. The good parts is that the voice fits the melodies very well and that if he's saying the right words it can make for a very lovely song. His songwriting is good but not quite excellent. There is nothing wrong with that. If he were able to achieve excellence in songwriting which Leo doesn't appear to be far from and if/when he makes it to that point he can only go up.

For now the lyrics to tell you a story but a story that is quite vague. If he goes beyond basic feeling in his songs and gets more descriptive in his songs they may appeal to a much larger legion of fans. On a final note the guitar playing by Leo in some of the songs are so good they can be found irresistible at times.

Check em out here

The Pedestrian Pets "Over" ep

The Pedestrian Pets hail from Denmark and they make some pretty interesting music. They are affiliated with a label named BSBTA over there in Denmark. And that's a pretty interesting label collective as well. Nis of The Pedestrian Pets writes commonly good songs that have unpredictable endings and fairly long choruses. The songs recall memories of the smaller label collectives in Sweden such as Canarie and Bedroom. And these songs also recall to memory a few of the earlier artists from the K label.

Check em out here

Bryan Drummond "Sea Of Timber"

This is a great album. Upon listening to it it's very easy to notice similarities to albums by artists such as Beck, Nick Drake, and early Jose Gonzalez. Regarding the Beck comparison one of the closest album comparisons that comes to mind is the "Sea Change" album. Like most artists that sound like much better known artists often times singers and songwriters try to sound too much like the other band or artists style way too much to the point where it makes the artist sound 2nd or 3rd rate or worse. Bryan Drummond doesn't appear to make efforts towards taking too much from his influences. It's his style and it's class. If he keeps with it you'll definitely be hearing more great stuff coming from him.

Check em out here

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Shot Heard 'Round The World - “Ten Songs For Town And Country”

Folk. Psych. Whatever name you want to try to give to Brooklyn's The Shot Heard 'Round The World — it's really just pop at its finest. This album has a virtual orchestra of instruments featured on it — clarinet, violin, piano, trombones — and of course all your required pop instruments, as well.

The album opens with “Lentin,” sounding very folky with guitar and sporadic tambourine. The vocal harmonies really make the second half of this song. The crank the psych-factor up a few notches for “Mtn. Song (for M-- Howell)” and pick the tempo up as well. This track has some great guitar play and some very fun piano work. The piano instrumental, “Time Covered Bridge,” breaks up the album before “Dead on Night” goes all psych on you again with feedback and horns and such. “Evening Prayer” ends the album with a great little jangly pop song before lapsing into something like a drug-induced cowboy trail song.

I think The Shot Heard Round The World are really onto something here. This is definitely a “listen-through” album. I hope to hear more from this band — they deserve to be heard.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Artificial Sea – City Island

I am really surprised to be reviewing this, mostly because these guys should be very well known by now, their music is applicable to television. For example they could appear on a medical drama show, a romantic comedy show, or in a number of movie genres.

The easiest comparison for me to draw was The Sneaker Pimps. But they have a little something else, a more soul. Think Sneaker Pimps with a serve of quality folk music for the side dish. Good music for driving around on overcast days, and brooding by yourself.

Track number 5, Vor, was my favourite. Introverted/different/imaginative are 3 words that came to mind in trying to describe this. The music has an Indian/gypsy edge though, very downplayed. I recommend this to people in their Mid 20s all the way through the 30s. It’s very chic and designed, in a positive way.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quince – The Devotion Dance

A mysterious traveler, shirtless and female, on horseback, journeying through the woods adorns the cover of Quince’s Devotion Dance. Like the quirky cover, which as you can see above, looks to be a mixture of photo and paper collage, the lyrics to this CD are full of weirdness, endearing weirdness. The opening song, “The Desert” goes starts with dogs barking and goes, “I have heart disease and chicken knees/I used to water the desert/would you believe.” Now, there’s a change I’m hearing that wrong, and water could be wander, and chicken knees something else entirely, but it’s still something sweet that rhymes.

The singer’s voice helps propel the offbeat lyrics along, it’s somewhere between throaty and charming. The band plays an electronic funk, a mixture of genres that never sounds like straightforward rock. It’s always tantalizing, especially the “remix” tracks that highlight the electronic elements of the songs, working with delay and satisfaction in slow motion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Dynamo - The Average Genius EPs (2008)

No, not the criminal mastermind who first appeared in Pow Annual 1971, more the German electronic/new wave/indie pop mastermind, Hauke Schmidt. Lo-fi, indie-pop, packaged, jangley… however you want to describe Great Dynamo’s sound – it’s up to you. This release is very ‘home made’, not that it is bad, more that it has loads of heart.

“The trains on your one track mind never run on time” is repeated on the third song which targets presumably one person, followed by “Own This Town” in which Hauke then focuses on a group of “little shits”. Usually I am not one for these type of defamatory type songs, yet in Great Dynamo’s case, I find myself warming to them. Since there is a steady degree of spirit to back it up.

The second half of the 14 songs is a tad more obscure, but in a very pop friendly way, these songs have a way of getting into your head. The beats and lyrics are very attention grabbing, making you listen. Then think about. His respectable and wide range of influences come in to play here, namely Cleaners from Venus and The V.U.

Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany) is where Great Dynamo comes from, and Hauke sings in English, which I am all for, especially since his lyrics would be lost on me otherwise. Though his ever changing guitars and back ground orchestration are so intriguing I’d still happily listen if it was all sung in German. experience it for yourself.

Khancoban – Limbs May Fall [2008]

Described on their website as “Half Noise, Half Folk Music”, Khancoban are from Melbourne. Their intriguing brand of folk is largely unparalleled in Australia at the moment; their sound is smart and thought through.

I had the pleasure of seeing Khancoban last Thursday. They are a 5 piece now, though in this album they are but 4. The vocalist André Hooke has a very beautiful voice. His singing perfectly complements the folk styling of the band, dealing with pop elements in a downplayed and intelligent manner.

Andrew Bonnici’s guitar playing is the second most notable aspect of Khancoban’s sound, which is rather unusual in a folk band. What made it stand out was on the second last song “Such A Big Sky” it is very atmospheric and beautifully suited to André’s lyrics, in the last couple of minutes is when his playing truly shines (Kind of like in Red House Painters’ ‘Make Like Paper’”.)

The best part about Khancoban is that they are great people, watching them play live was really something, as the circumstances were not exactly perfect - they took this in their stride and played excellently. The album is available at and

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mammoth Life "Kaleidoscopic Art Pop"

Mammoth Life hail from Lawrence, Kansas. They have an interesting pop scene in that college town to say the least. They make an album full of interesting pop songs. Like most Midwesterners due to lack of things to do depending on a variety of factors, many find themselves in need of a good imagination to get you through. Mammoth Life does better than some pop bands at times in the sense that they have a lot of energy spent into creativity and imagination.

The male and female vocals together strangely recall early Eux Autres but with more decency in lyrics and tone. A good share of these songs have noticeable themes to them. For those that pay great attention to detail you will discover those themes : )
The male vocals come out in a Ben Gibbard like way but to me the vocals are delivered to the listener in a more tolerable manner. Recently the band has put together a 7 inch release and will set out for a Midwest tour this month.

Check em out here:

2 Out Of 3 Rule "Really Elementary"

2 Out Of 3 Rule band from the United Kingdom has released "Really Elementary" full length album that includes 20 songs. I was quite pleased with the consistency and variety in the recordings.
More can be learned from this release compared to the EP. Given more songs it gives the listener more of a chance to hear more from this band where as most "pop" bands typically stop a full album with around 10 tracks or there abouts.

I am not the best with genres but to me this album is filled with pop songs and also includes a dash of a little rock added to some of the tracks. Maybe i'm wrong. Either way it sounds great. Even though this album is full of great songs since there is 20 it does seem to drag on a bit. It's very evident this band can craft an abundance of great recordings in little time.

There are even bands where i'm content if they can make 8 song recordings over 3 years. With this band 2 Out Of 3 Rule may be setting a new standard for track totals of pop albums ; )
This album is likely one of the most remarkable follow up's to an EP in quite some time especially for pop music.

Check em out here:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Apricot Rail - Pouring Milk Out The Window [Single]

When Apricot Rail play live, you kind of nod your head slowly, well, it’s not really a nod it’s more a progression of their sound. Then when one of their beautiful choruses hits, it is possessive. On my first listen to this single, I felt just like their live shows make me feel, which is a rare quality. They don’t “rock” so much as make you thank yourself that you’re listening to them at any given time.

It’s like walking around in a beautiful forest, looking up at autumn leaves falling, and feeling the delicate promise of rain.

Their debut LP comes out on July 4th, and until then you can get the single for a free download on the Hidden Shoal Records page:
and check out Apricot Rail at: