Not your ordinary sunglasses

March 1, 2010

Sunglasses from Savannah, Georgia will be an exciting contribution to the music scene this year. What is interesting is that this collaboration between Samuel Cooper and Brady Keehn started through a film production. Their sound is fresh and a good example of “out of this world” music, but is incredibly difficult to describe. The crossovers and style are not something I have heard much before but are something to appreciate as music should keep expanding and explore new areas.

One thing for certain is that you can hear the hip hop influences, and I am not normally a fan of that genre. It is just that I have not found any satisfying music that is strictly hip hop related. However, this duo is offering an amazing crossover combining the unique aspects of both Hip Hop and Psychedelic music. The music isn’t constantly the same loop, and the melody progresses playfully which I fail to hear with Hip Hop. The beats are incredible and makes you want to move unconditionally even if you aren’t usually into spontaneous dancing patterns.

It is very pleasing to hear these styles and references come together so uniquely. This helps make them one of the most anticipating duo to look out for this year. I am certainly looking forward to the inevitable debut, but so far there is no news of such release. In the meantime before we unravel the mysterious future of these geniuses, lend your ears to these tunes!

Sunglasses – Referee

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The beauty of instrumental music

February 21, 2010

It is not often that instrumental music has a lasting appeal for me. This has something to do with howI see vocals as an integral part of music. I admit though that good instrumentation can cover up for bad vocals more so than the opposite. However I would like to say that the music benefits from having both sides integrated. Unfortunately a lot of instrumental songs I have come across tend to last eons, unable to find a fitting ending. Continuing this uninspiring endless journey in one sitting. The melodies don’t seem to have many exciting layers and easily fall into repetition without the aid of a vocal range.The instrumental composers that I find interesting have been film/video-game related which isn’t something I usually listen to outside the visual/engaging experiences.

However, now I have finally found an independent artist that is instrumental, and seems to hit the right notes with me – while keeping the music interesting until the end. He is far from being as complicated as I make music sound like at times. The music here is simple and colourful. Therefore I find it worthwhile to feature the first instrumental artist to have blown my ears away.

Musette is a project by Joel Danell who is based in Stockholm. His arsenal consisting of whistles, guitar, violin, accordion and piano, helps to shape these pleasurable melodies. Even if the music doesn’t have any singing vowels, his whistles are great. I would say his whistling quality is comparable with Andrew Birds. It is used beautifully with some range and vibratos. This sheer simplistic music with carefully composed instruments helps *to create a playful, fresh and beautiful experience. The songs are expansive and diverse. The latest album “Datum” is a shining example of what I’ve attempted to describe here. There’s no album I could recommend more than this one.

Musette – 23 Oktober

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Vampire Weekends second album

February 8, 2010


Vampire Weekend have been a fresh contribution to the music scene with their unique classic and african inspired music. The music world was taken by surprise with their self titled debut in 2008. which gained broad acclaim followed by many festival appearances. Since then, time has not passed for a long time before a new album came from the hasty slumbers. Now it will be interesting to see if this album is a worthy sophomore effort ,or just a rashful effort to cave in on fame to finance a posh dame.

Their latest newest release Contra has been out for a few weeks and we shall see in this review how well it fairs. The first thing you notice this time around is that there is less of the classical style of the first album. We hear more electronic sounds and effects this time around. Despite this minimal change the African inspired rhythms and tempo stand out more. The band’s style seems much more refined this time. I will try to describe what makes this album a departure from the debut and how it manages to stand on its own legs.

The opening track Honchata introduces playful African rhythms mixed with quirky styles intertwined with another. It gives a good indication of the style throughout the album. A strong first track is always a good start along with being an incredible catchy well crafted melody too. The electronic sounds and effects added are very welcoming and cleverly added. This distinct quality we are witnessed to here continues throughout the first half of the album. The songs in between are diverse and different from another which effectively keeps the music interesting. It is very common for bands to resort to using the same sounds, effects, style and opening in most of their tracks. Luckily here things are more varied, playful and interesting. The blend of contemporary styles complimented with afro-beats and classic touches makes this album fresh.

However there are a few setbacks that keeps this album from being a highlight of the year. Despite how original the band is with their style, some songs are easy forgettable and rather unimaginative. Some overdone styles and effects. These songs aren’t terrible by all means ,but very underwhelming and unoriginal in contrast to their incredible counterparts. However it does not get in the way for making this is a good album with some great memorable songs among some “filler”.

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order the album here

The wonderful ukulele

December 14, 2009

There are countless variations when it comes to explaining how this 4 stringed instrument started its life. One of the most common conceptions is that the Portuguese brought their instruments to Hawaii; which ended up impressing the locals. In return, the locals produced their own instrument inspired by the Portuguese ones.

The name itself roughly translates as “jumping flea”. It is speculated that the name refers to how the strings are plucked; like a hopping flea. Personally, I have no desirable input when it comes to over-analyzing such a name. However I don’t think it is wrong to acknowledge that the ukulele can be like a “Jumping Flea” at times. Many people have the idea that the ukulele is a toy due to its size. The purpose of this article will be to showcase how it is more than a pitiful “toy”.

When talking about size it is rather ironic that people associate a small instrument with a “toy” ,but unaware of how the ukulele has 4 different sizes by today that vary.
Originally there was only the soprano, but overtime we have been introduced to the concert, tenor and baritone type. The differences between them aren’t really that noteworthy; other than the amount of frets and longer necks are increasing the differences between them.

Some unique differences:

– Concert can be seen as an “enhanced” soprano with a slightly louder and deep tone.
– Tenor tends to have more volume and a deeper bass tone on the G string.
– The baritone has a guitar standard tuning.

Due to the baritones unique tuning it has been said that it compliments jazz very well when adapting from the guitar. Otherwise most of the time the standard G-C-E-A tuning is used . There is nothing wrong about tuning the baritone the same way.

From the time of the invention of the ukulele in the the late 19th century, it was not until 1915 that it started it’s popular entry into the US. It first spread from San Franscisco and continued to cross the whole country. The popularity even reached the UK. The instrument kept rising in popularity and was adapted by some of the biggest entertainers (Cliff Edwards) at the time during the following decades. With the introduction of published chord tablatures of popular songs combined with the portability and inexpensiveness of the ukulele; made the instrument very accessible to both common people and musicians.

Now I would like to introduce some musicians who had an enormous influence at their time and helped introducing the ukulele to the people.

Cliff Edwards (also known as Ukulele Ike)

Nowadays Cliff Edwards may be recognized worldwide as the voice of Jiminy Cricket and the singer of the Oscar winning “When You Wish Upon A Star” in Pinocchio. However not many are aware that before that time he used to be known as an amazing ukulele player with a unique three-octave voice and a scat-singing style he called effin’. He has appeared in over 100 films and recorded hundreds of songs during the period of 1920s – 1960s. During his prime he manage to gain the nickname Ukulele Ike ,and was widely recognized for playing ukulele arrangements of popular songs. He also helped to popularize the instrument by publishing a collection of three ukulele arrangements.

George Formby

George Formby was an English entertainer who was a comedian and music performer. His career lasted from 1921 til his death in 1961. In these 4 decades he had managed to appear in 21 films, recorded hundreds of songs and made hundreds of stage performances.
He is known for a special rhythmic technique which has been called the Formby style with the aid of his banjolele (a ukulele crossover with a banjo type of body) and his unique voice. By 1939, George Formby was the most popular and highest paid entertainer in the British Isles and was estimated to be earning over £100,000 a year.
Even if he never performed in the USA he managed to get very popular in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He charmed his audiences around the world with his down to earth personality with Lancashire dialect and cheeky humour.

Tiny Tim

Herbert Khaury (Tiny Tim) became a star and associated with the ukulele in 1968 after performing his own rendition of “Tiptoe Thru The Tulips”. He was a musical archivist with irreplaceable knowledge about music ,and recorded over 100s original covers of old songs with his distinct humour and style. He even adapted to contemporary music during his career and continued his unique take on 70s/80s songs. His voice was an exceptional case, varying from a deep baritone voice combined with a high vibrato falsetto. He might not have been the most technical ukulele player, but it was part of his style and performance. He helped to inspire many to pick up the instrument.

An album review of Headlights recently released Wildlife

October 7, 2009

wildlife

If people aren’t familiar with the band, Headlights is an indie rock band located in Campaign, Illinoise. The band was formed in 2004 after the break up of their previous band by the name Absinthe Blind.

They first released their EP The Enemies in 2004, then followed with a split single with the Canadian band The Most Serene Republic which was how I got to know the band. Their debut album entitled Kill Them With Kindness that came out in 2006 was positively received by critics. However since then the band seem to have been developing their sound and style a bit. I would say they had more shoegaze elements and upbeat tempoed songs, and by the sound of their later album releases the style has gotten a much “softer” and pop oriented sound. Which is not a bad thing as bands who develop their sounds are better those who stick with the same old tired formula.

Here I have taken an interest to review their third album release which is entitled Wildlife, which was just released on 6th of October at Polyvinyl records which is the home to other critic favourites such as Asobi Seksu, Architecture in Helsinki, Of Montreal and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Will this album be their best release yet or be just a shadow of their former well recieved debut album Kill Them With Kindness?

Now to start off with the review! The album starts off with an interesting build although I must say it’s a bit underwhelming at first, but it manages to pick up nicely at the end with some improvisation with electronic guitar sounds that are enjoyable. However right afterwards starts a good example of very generic overdone indie pop melodies, with little challenging and thoughtful tunes other than something than sounds to pass time with. Hurray for generic synthersizer background music!. When you reach the 4th track, it starts picking up and very enjoyable tunes with a personality appear. The song im refering to hear is called Get Going which is a really good pop song, albeit the generic chords the melody still works with its playful and careful additional effects. It is a good improvement compared to the horrible keyboard/synthesizer based songs before it. The pleasant melodies continues right afterwards with Love Song For Buddy a simple piano melody with nice lush vocals and a soothing tempo. Unfortunately it falls a bit short on the next song when the anticipation arrives. The next track is way too similar to many songs they have made before, unfortunately only ending up sounding worse. As I stated in beginning this album really falls into being a mixture of quality that isn’t around steadily despite the promises with a few gems. The songs with acoustic elements tend to be the complimentary songs, which seems like a style they handle well alongside with minimal effects and sounds. An example of this is the track Wiscousin Beaches and previously Get Going.

The most “busiest” melodies in comparison are just forgetable and mindless repetive, the worst offenders and best example of this are the songs Secrets and I Don’t Mind At All. Despite mentioning ealrier some promising tracks, We’re All Animals is truly a song that shines the most through the album. Again proving their excellent skill with crafting pop songs with acoustic references, that are not in high tempo or having many forgettable layers.

Headlights are still a promising indie rock pop band ,but unfortunately their songs end up as an uncomplete package without anything stellar shining through. The album manages still to indicate something pleasant despite its shortcomings with the track choices.  However it falls short if you are to compare it to other releases this year, but keep in mind to appreciate the sound of the band which isn’t something you hear too often even if its not mighty original. It’s truly well crafted when at it’s best. However, let’s hope for a better album next time!

Headlights – Get Going

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Dreamy shoegaze

September 10, 2009

the airfields

I have been a big fan of The Airfields from Toronto, Canada since their laneways EP (great EP!) release days. Their debut album which is entitled Up All Night came out last year ,but I didn’t aquire it until some weeks ago. I must say I was a bit disapointed with the overall quality of the album, but sometime in the future I’ll try to write a fair review. I dare to say I prefer their EP if you are to compare the value you are getting here, even if the debut has clearly more gems.

Don’t get me wrong its not necessary a bad album, but the lack of a consistent quality through all of the album tracks is what manages to drag it down here. The dull and forgettable songs manage to ruin the overall experience, but eventhough that may be the case they still make one of the greatest and most beautiful shoegaze/dream pop music I have ever heard.

It is rare for me in general to find an album with a consistent almost perfect song selection, so they aren’t alone in this.
Their inspiration from the 80s is very obvious ,and they truly shine when complimenting that with comptemorary music and their own unique sound. The debut has been praised by many blogs which isn’t unwarranted either as I tend to be a very strict selective person.

The purpose of this post is to showcase their talent and hopefully be able to create more fans. As I already stated I will give the debut a few more goes and a final proper verdict in the future. For now enjoy these sweet well crafted melodies.

The Airfields – Prisoners of Our Love

The Airfields – The Long Way Home

The Airfields – Rock Flare

If this sounds like the music for you:

for more music

get their debut here

Awesome garage band

September 8, 2009

girls

I have been hyped about Girls (the bands name mind you!) ever since I heard their song Lust for Life earlier this year. It took some time before newer tracks surfaced from their upcoming debut with the same name.

Therefore I found it fitting to make a hypeworthy entry about this band as their album is being released very soon on the 22th of september. It was a bit difficult to find info about this band other than it being based in San Fransisco, California but I manage to dig up this:

In 2006, Christopher Owens and Liza Thorn began a music project called Curls, which dissolved itself when Liza decided to focus more on her new band, BRIDEZ. Not to be dissuaded, Christopher recruited San Francisco’s infamous ladykiller Chet “JR” White to join him and changed the band’s name to Girls.

I would describe the music as garage rock, with some pop references. I am not usually a fan of this genre but at times you can find some nice bands within it. As it’s about the bands talent and not the genre it represents. The singers voice might be a bit of a hate and love affair as I had some trouble to enjoy it at first. It was the bands melodies that caughed my ears. However now I see them blend together very nicely now.

Heres a little description I found about the album:

Built on the powerful songwriting of Christopher Owens and the ethereal production of Chet “JR” White, Girls recorded Album in a variety of bedrooms and rehearsal studios in their adopted hometown, San Francisco. The resulting 12 tracks are the perfect San Fran summer record, evoking a narcotic, sunny afternoon in Dolores Park, yet promising the eventual hangover of summer’s departure. Album is self-described as “honest, loose, ethereal, obnoxious and perfect,” it is a sincere tribute to the majesty of great pop music and the healing power of rock and roll.

Girls – Lust For Life

Girls – Laura

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commence pre/ordering here!

A Wisconsin band of amazing delight

August 29, 2009

pale young gentlemen 2

This band is hardly news as they dropped their second album last year, but their talent is hypeworth despite time and place. It is almost unmatched I would say.

I stumbled upon them through a blog some years ago and started listening to Fraulein and was amazed by this unique playful style of theirs. Blending elements from pop, folk and rock accompanied by a beautiful Cello. If there is a band with style I would suggest Pale Young Gentlemen which is the bands name. You can hear noticably differences with the style between their debut and their second record by listening to these songs from both albums. Which showcases a band that manages to mature over time than what most musicians do today. Their second album Black Forest (tra la la) was produced by Beau Sorenson who is credited as a producer for Death Cab For Cutie and Sparklehorse.

Black Forest (tra la la)

Pale Young Gentlemen – The Crook

Pale Young Gentlemen – Kettle Drum (I Left a Note)

Self Titled Debut

Pale Young Gentlemen – Fraulein

Pale Young Gentlemen – Saturday Night

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buy their albums here

A lil bit of Twee love for the day

August 29, 2009

indie band 2

As I was going through the mp3s of cloudberryrecords releases today I stumbled upon this nice indiepop band called Very Truly Yours based in Chicago, Illinoise.  According to indiemp3ukblog the band members appear in bands Fireflies, Tiny Microphone, The Starlette Canvas and The Lorimer Sound.

Was a bit vague most of the info I found about the band. Like this description on their myspace page said the following:

One day a girl found a message in a bottle. The message was from a person she’d never met in a place she’d never been. Every day, the girl would read the message and every night she would write a song. She would imagine all the things the person would do, the things they would see and the sounds they would hear. This went on for some time until one day the little girl took all of the songs and put them in a bottle. She went down to the ocean where she found the message and wrote a letter telling the person about all the songs she’d written about them. She signed the letter “Very Truly Yours” and threw the bottle into the ocean, hoping it might one day it might reach that place she’d never been and find the person she’d never met.

However that doesn’t matter since it is a interesting story to tell.

I would describe this music as sweet indie pop with a lot of twee references. Keep im mind I am no master with my understanding of genres, however I would say with confidence that their song Popsong 91 is as twee as you can get. The other songs sound less twee like and more standard comtemporary indie pop. Either ways this bands makes some nice songs despite being twee or not.

Very Truly Yours – To See You Here

Very Truly Yours – Pop Song 91

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Great folk music from ye ol danish Faroe Islands

August 27, 2009

klak tik

Klak Tik comes from the Faroe Islands which is quite a unique place. The Faero Islands are an island group located between Scotland and Iceland. Even to this day it’s still part of the Kingdom of Denmark. People might be familiar with the folk artist Teitur who comes from the same country.

Heres some information about this project on myspace:

Speak Klak Tik”, the rain said, and I understood. With that statement it all began, Søren Bonke locked himself away deep inside Pandangle House using his new found inspiration to fill the air with the seeds of music he hoped would blossom… and they did. An organic, acoustic, multi layered sound of voices, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, violins, trumpets and whatever else he could find thrived around him. But he knew he wanted to experience this creation with others so he sent forth for kindred spirits to aid him in his vision to nurture this garden of melody. Improvisational roots sprung into strong stems of song. Some simple, some with tender orchestral arrangements, some in three measure time, some awash with vivid lyrical imagery, but all come from the same true rich musical soil. And this soil is given life as the rain speaks Klak Tik.

It was quite a enjoyable coincidence how I got to discover this musical savant from the Faroe Islands (now located in London). He added me on myspace  a while ago and I checked a few songs and ended up very impressed by the song I chose to share with this blog.

Klak Tik – Zeitgeber

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