Archive for January, 2012

January 31, 2012

The ‘Telos EP’ is just asking to be part of an indie movie soundtrack

SERIOUSLY, you guys. This EP by Henry Jamison of The Milkman’s Union sounds totally primed to be in one of those understated, coming-of-age/romance flicks that you see on the independent film fest circuits. I can see Ellen Page riding her bicycle through a middle-class suburban neighborhood on a dreary day right now.

This band hails from the OTHER Portland (the one in Maine that’s just as awesome at producing indie folk as Oregon’s) and consists of three talented young dudes. Though, this sweet little collection is just some solo work by vocalist/guitarist Jamison, so look around at some of their other stuff to hear the full setup with bassist Jeff Beam and drummer Peter McLaughlin.

January 30, 2012

Dare Dukes brings some star power to new album

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been rocking Georgia songwriter Dare Dukes‘ latest release, Thugs and China Dolls (Mazarine Records), and I love it more with each listen. Self-professed as a better songwriter than an instrumentalist, Dukes wrangled a dazzling handful of seasoned musicians to bring his new set of songs to life, and it’s paid off beautifully.

You may not recognize their names, but you’ve possibly heard their work. Pianist Thayer Sarrano (of Montreal), accordionist JoJo Glidewell (Modern Skirts), trombonist Kevin Moehringer (worked with TV on the Radio), and backup vocalist and violist Marla Hansen (worked with The National and Sufjan Stevens, among others) all make various contributions on the album, along with Dukes’ already present band and a smattering of other musicians.

Thugs and China Dolls opens with a leisurely waltz, “Old West Broad,” featuring gentle horns and accordion lighting the way. Dukes picks up the pace on the following tune, “Meet You at the Bus,” opening with precise banjo picks met by bass strings and trumpet before falling into step with his lyrical verse.

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January 26, 2012

Indian Handcrafts Came to Melt Some Faces

Sargent House just picked up Toronto’s own Indian Handcrafts. I wont lie, I just heard of these guys. I will be honest with you, I was listening to their Bandcamp page for 2 hours before I even started writing this. I easily shelled out the 5 bucks for the digital download. I listened to it on my way to work the next day and even at my desk. I was swept back into my teenage years listening to a dirty, fuzzed-out guitar, strained yet satisfying vocals and solid, hard-hitting drumming. Think subtle hints of the Black Keys, MGMT, Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. twisted into an album with an aggressively modern take wrapped up in a two-man package.

January 24, 2012

Knife City hands out MAGFest recordings, promises ‘legit EP’ soon

Over the first weekend of 2012, one of the coolest gaming conventions occurred in National Harbor, Md. It’s called MAGFest (Music and Gaming Festival) and it’s ultimately better than PAX (the Penny Arcade Expo) in that it gives as much attention to music inspired by gaming culture as it does to gaming culture itself. Which means it came along with a pretty sweet lineup of some of my favorite chiptunes artists and rock musicians whose basic M.O. is paying tribute to the games that rock the most.

See what I mean?!

I have yet to attend a MAGFest because it occurs during one of the most treacherous travel times of the year. Last year I had tickets, but flights were cancelled for days, so I gave my ticket to a stranger in need. But thank goodness for the Internet, because I can see videos and hear recordings from the event on my computer after it’s over.

Luke Silas (aka Knife City) went so far as to release an EP of recordings he made during the fest on Bandcamp and posted the link to Facebook. With the post, he also assured fans that he’s “also going to release a legit EP soon!” set for release in March, so get stoked, chiptunes lovers. He really is one of the best. If you don’t believe me, just listen to his magfest sucky ep. I mean, legit EP or not, you’re gonna want this one. And in case you need further incentive, you can name your own price, which means it can be yours for $0. Donate a little money if you can though, cause this dude deserves it.

January 23, 2012

It Was The Best Party Ever: With The Ultrasounds!

Lately, I’ve felt as if my shindigs have been becoming increasingly more and more successful but I have to level with you, my parties very well might have reached their pinnacle of awesomeoness with the New Year’s Ultraparty. It was named as such because of the featured band The Ultrasounds and boy, let me tell you that this was most certainly, at many times, the party that we all thought would never happen. Planned specifically around the fact that our Chicago friends The Ultrasounds were in town, our private, speakeasy-themed New Year’s bash was plagued by last minute venue changes, personal drama, and all sorts of other craziness but when the proverbial clock struck twelve, all of my friends and I rang in 2012 at the most massively successful party ever.

There’s a lot I can tell you about New Year’s Eve. I can tell you how great Nora’s cleared out living room was as a makeshift stage. I can tell you how amazing it was to be surrounded at all times by my friends, a handful of which are very talented musicians who were there specifically to play an awesome house show for all of my friends that aren’t very talented musicians. I can tell you how we were loud and young and stupid and drunk and I can tell you that the cops did not get called a single time. What I can’t tell you, however, is the one thing I’d love to tell you: How great The Ultrasounds were. I mean, by the time the band actually started playing, I was totally peaking, a term which here has nothing to do with drugs whatsoever. Thankfully, however, I’ve seen The Ultrasounds a number of times in the past, dating back to just over a year ago when my friend (and co-party planner) Matt forcibly made me listen to the band because they were “just so rad.” Thankfully, Matt is one of those people whose taste can be trusted, especially so far as music is concerned so it was only natural that I loved The Ultrasounds. Before long, the band became my friends too. When the opportunity arose to plan my New Year’s party around an Ultrasounds live show (the band was in town to play the Michigan-themed bash, Mittenfest), I was super stoked because I knew it wasn’t going to be my usual party. It was gonna be much more epic.

See, the thing about me that you might have picked up on is that I’m a pretty big folk music fan. Naturally, this means “Amber party” bands are usually much more in the vein of past party players The Appleseed Collective than, you know, Pantera. This is all well and good but nothing livens things up like a change of pace and I was pretty gung ho about making n.y.e. rocking enough to put Dick Clark to shame. Naturally, what I’m getting at here is the fact that there’s nothing folky about The Ultrasounds. I mean, there might have been a smoke machine in their living room show! I say “might” because I know there was going to be a smoke machine but I don’t remember if it happened or not. Regardless, nothing says “rock and roll” like a power trio of jean-clad Midwestern kids with a smoke machine and a tight, psychedelic sound.

The Ultrasounds – After You Close Your Eyes

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January 20, 2012

Chansons d’Amour: An Introduction To French Girl Music

I’ve always disliked the idea of being pretentious. I mean, always. Even when I was a kid, when I liked something, I liked to learn about it and understand it better so I could actually justify my reasoning for liking it. The first case of this that I remember happening was with My Little Ponies around the age of four. So, when I was in high school and I decide to research my French roots, I went all out. I started to learn the language. I bought a beret. I started watching Goddard films. My hair was already black and short so I had that part in the bag but honestly, I basically all but got my citizenship. Some of it, like the fashion, stuck with me long after I forgot the rudimentary French I’d committed to memory. In fact, I still steadfastly live in a uniform of skinny black pants and monochrome striped shirts. While I’ve never been ace at authentic French cooking, I did discover an adoration for French music and that, like the clothes, has never abated. I don’t claim to be an expert on French music whatsoever but I think I could hold my own in a conversation about the best female French singers of all time.

I don’t know about you but I find feminine French culture to be intensely fascinating. French women, it seems, can do anything. Just look at Jonny Depp’s lady, Vanessa Paradis. She’s a supermodel, actress, and singer. And we all know that there’s nothing Charlotte Gainsbourg can’t do. She is the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, after all. In my attempts to emulate the effortlessly beautiful aesthetic of my French style icons, I’ve taken to listening to tons of French girl music again lately and when I told this to my friend, she suggested I make her a mix. Initially, I didn’t think I knew enough about French girl music to do this. Then I realized that I probably know more than everyone else I know. So here, friends, are a few of my favorite French singers — from the incomparable Francoise Hardy to the severely underrated Chantal Goya to the captivating modern muse Keren Ann. Dig it!

Chansons d’Amour: An Introduction To French Girl Music

Francoise Hardy – Le Temps de l’Amour

Chantal Goya – C’est Bien Bernard

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