Thursday, October 29, 2009

Delay Trees "Soft Construction EP"

Before any notes escaped from this excellent EP, I was struck by how gorgeous the cover art and liner work was. Pictures drawn from old family photo albums show beaming kids ankle deep in the water and young mothers driving their first cars, all assembled in a perfectly faded layout by cAPS LOCK HELSINKI.

The 7 songs that make up the insides of this great packaging are just as wonderful as the shell; ethereal, reverbed dream pop that fits the band's name perfectly. These melancholic songs shimmer with an atmosphere and depth which is more than evident in the opening track "Desert Island Song", and in the straight ahead beat and chiming chords of "Tarantula/Holding on". The spacious instrumental, "Resurrection of Sonic Blue", serves as a fitting closer with its huge, echoing guitars and distant, falsetto backing vocals. The Finnish band has received much praise from the International community on this release and one listen from this strong debut illustrates why.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Line And A Dot - Debut EP

There is an awesome new British female folk artist called Line And A Dot, her debut EP is coming out on a small London based label called "Things To Make and Do".

She has toured NY 3 times, showing dedication indeed. If you had talent to the likes of Line And A Dot you would have dedication too. It's like, girl is going places. Her songs have a shambly jangly huggable sweetness to them, music for people who like nice things.

Her label says she is similar to "Elliot Smith, Alela Diane and Neutral Milk Hotel." but I think that it's a little more like this: strings sometimes as delicate as Final Fantasy's plucking, energy on par with Hallelujah the Hills, vocals to the likes of (Devendra Banhart collaborator) Jana Hunter and a feel that is like holding hands with your favourite gal (or guy).

Check her at, and her video at

The Yellow Melodies "The Championship Cup"

"The Championship Cup", a 2008 release by The Yellow Melodies, is an EP in the truest sense of the term; an extended-play, 6 track record on thick 10" vinyl. This format is where "mini" albums really work best. Instead of acting as a placeholder for a full length album, it exists as it's own cohesive unit. This Spanish band has assembled a complete musical statement here, and it is a lovely one.

Opening with a great staccato guitar and piano progression (and laden with wonderful string work) the title track, "The Championship Cup", bounds through at a succinct two minutes and twelve seconds. Things quickly transition into "They'll Come True", which takes a page straight from the Troggs songbook until veering into louder territory with super fuzzy guitars and big drum build-ups. This loud-soft dynamic works well here and helps build a sense of urgency within what would otherwise be a fairly straight forward folk-pop song. Finishing out the A side is "The Sunshine of Your Dreams", also featuring prominent strings, which starts which a great march-feel on the snare and builds up through a stand-out chorus and ultra fuzzy synth solo.

The B side of this record is just as enjoyable with the opening track, "Something That you Do", plowing through a classic pop chord progression which is further enhanced by soaring back vocals and a buzzing organ track. "I Want to be with You" has a slight 90's indie rock feel, even with hints of Lou Barlow in the vocals, and is defined by it's swelling lead viola line . The final track, "Mr. Sand and Mrs. Sea, is more epic (both in length and feel) with a long, slow, shoegaze-esque build and another great, overdriven organ melody. This 2008 release can found at the band's website and through their label, Clifford records.

the yellow melodies
clifford records

Monday, October 12, 2009

Year Of The Dog “Island Hymn”

Year Of The Dog hail from the small but still wonderful state of Vermont. The thing I really enjoy about this band is that they have crafted an entire album of fresh and unique sounds which is commonly pleasant for those tired of hearing too much derivatives. It is clear that they are musicians that draw great influence from the obscure or artists considered by many as being mysterious. They take that influence as more of a great inspiration by creating obscure sounds of their own and not necessarily borrowing them directly from those influences.

If you are a fan of bands like Radiohead, Nick Drake or the works of Feist and feel like you have played the heck out of their albums, this album by the Year Of The Dog is another you can play the heck out of.

Check em out here:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brave Radar "A Building"

Brave Radar's band members hail from Montreal Canada and Sydney Australia. The band describes their genre of music as being a mixture between Surf, Soul + Pop. I would liken their style to a very nice retro pop/ experimental pop type of sound. The vocal styling evokes Thurston Moore, Brian Wilson and at times a more independent sounding Thomas Mars. To me, Brave Radar is possibly one of the better under the radar bands of today.

Check em out here:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Plêiade - FF (2008)

Plêiade (no idea how to pronounce this one) are from Curitiba, Paraná
(Brazil). It’s hard to find any information written in English about them. But here’s a starter:
They’re glowing indie-pop of south America that we all love. What’s more is they mix in elements of folk and alternative rock, with an electronic tweak. Forming in 2006, the 5 piece includes members assigned to the following two instruments: ghost guitar and elegant guitar.

As an Australian reading that I wonder if it is an error in translation, but I sincerely hope it isn’t. Those are awesome adjectives to relate to guitars. The term “ghost” as an adjective means manifesting, but not actually existing. Which really makes sense of their guitar sounds.

FF is a recommendable album to any fan of South American indie pop, but to draw a couple of well known comparisons, they are similar to the Crayon Fields and to some of Dreamworld records’ mid 80s releases.

Blanda "Self-titled 7 inch"

"Lamna Mig Ifred" is the wonderfully bouncy "A" side to Blanda's 2008, self-titled 7" release. The track is rich with tight harmonies, punchy bass work and scrappy lead guitar lines (taken straight from the bridge pickup) which are all layered on top of sunny, country-esque chord progressions that resonate with a slight tinge of Americana. An upfront "Byrds" influence is laced amongst the pop overtones, with vocals slightly reminiscent of Nick Drake and bits of Camera Obscura apparent in the intro and harmonies.

Based out of Stockholm and Kalmar, Sweden, the band seems to evoke California more than Scandinavia on this side. West Coast harmonies and late 60's melodies dominate on this track and give it a well worn feel that makes the first listen seem like an old favorite.

The "B" side, "Aningar Om Dig", takes a more minor turn with the addition of strings and slide work drenched in reverb that almost perfectly mimics the swells of pedal steel. Here again, the group manages to combine those subtle, slight country elements with a strong sense of Swedish pop and arrangement to produce a superbly strong track. Several instrumental sections dominate this song with a fitting guitar and string crescendo in the finishing fade. Combined with great packaging this is a excellent record that demands multiple listens.

Information on the band can be found here:
and here: fashion police records

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pennyhawk "The Mystery Mines"

Pennyhawk hails from Ames, Iowa. The singer-songwriter approach from member Kate Kennedy is very confessional. The songs tell a story that is semi personal at worst and not too vague. The 9 song album features not only vocals, percussion and guitars but also flute, accordion, clarinet, and trumpet.

The vocals, lyrics and variety to the songs surely grab the listeners attention throughout this album on a very consistent basis. Qualities that very few songwriters possess today. Their live show can be described as fun, playful and spontaneous. Also would like to note that "The Mystery Mines" release is the first that I've seen with a hand stitched cover.

Check em out here:

Thunder Power "Love Yourself" ep

Thunder Power hails from Omaha, Nebraska. They craft meaningful and catchy songs. Among their influences is Belle & Sebastian and thunder. Their song "Take A Hike" is quite possibly one of the catchiest independent pop songs in recent memory. A band like Thunder Power may not be considered by many (other than myself) as better than Belle & Sebastian, but I must note I enjoy listening to Thunder Power over any album by B + S or Camera Obscura any day of the week.

Check em out here: