Monday, June 30, 2008

King Of Spain

Named after a rare TV comedy skit reference, King of Spain is Matt Slate, former guitarist for 90’s emo-darlings Pohgoh and The Maccabees (both out of Tampa, FL). Here’s how he feels about his first solo outing: “…at 31, I started writing songs again. Now, it's enough time where I'm not just the guy from Pohgoh or the guy from The Maccabees… it’s quite different, a whole new resurgence.” In 2006, after a 5 year hiatus from making, writing and/or performing music of any kind, Slate decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. He purchased a Zoom MRS-1680 self-contained studio and set up shop.

What was originally intended as lo-fi handouts for friends and at performances slowly began to evolve into Entropy, Slate’s solo debut for New Granada Records. Taking cues from the Brians (Wilson and Eno), The One AM Radio, Portastatic and many other (at one time or another) one-man acts, Slate recorded his inaugural venture in the leisure of his own home, creating a singer/songwriter album stretching convention normally associated with this genre. Entropy, with it’s warm combination of layered vocals, guitar effects, loops, household items as percussion, and other subtle (and not so subtle) nuances, is a pensive yet eclectic collection of songs and sounds. Recommended!

King Of Spain - Animals, Part 1
King Of Spain - Decades
King Of Spain @ MySpace

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Monday, June 23, 2008

New album release... Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado first appeared in the Christian hardcore group Coolidge, a band also featuring future Pedro the Lion member David Bazan on drums. In 1996 they were featured on the Tooth & Nail compilation I'm Your Biggest Fan Vol. 1 with the track "Trapped". The group later went on to release a 4 song EP that was released on Radio Recordings.

Jurado's solo career began during the mid-1990s, with him releasing lo-fi folk based recordings on his own cassette-only label, Casa Recordings. Gaining a local cult following in Seattle, he was brought to the attention of Sub Pop Records by Sunny Day Real Estate singer Jeremy Enigk. After two 7" releases ("Motorbike" and "Trampoline") Sub Pop issued his first full album, Waters Ave S. in 1997. His second album Rehearsals for Departure, released in 1999, was a relative breakthrough. Produced by Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star), Jurado's second album established him as both a singer and songwriter of great ability.

He often makes use of found sound and field recording techniques, and has experimented with different forms of tape recordings. In 2000 he released Postcards and Audio Letters, a collection of found audio letters and fragments that he had found from sources such as thrift store tape players and answering machines. Also released in 2000 was Ghost of David, Jurado's bleakest and most personal sounding record to date. I Break Chairs (Produced by long time friend, Pedro the Lion's David Bazan (2002), his last album for Sub Pop, was a much rockier, electric affair. After signing for the Indiana-based label Secretly Canadian, Damien Jurado reverted to his trademark folk ballad-based style, releasing three more albums: Where Shall You Take Me? (2003), On My Way To Absence (2005) and And Now That I'm In Your Shadow (2007).

The new album "Caught In the Trees" marks the dawn of a new era for Damien Jurado. It may not be a huge departure from some of his past albums musically, but lyrically Jurado has taken a giant leap forward and there is no turning back. Best known for his dark yet fragile first person fictional tales, Jurado now unlocks the door and invites us into his own enigmatic world with an energy and intensity that is

Jurado took a full year to make this record, longer than ever before, as he ran away from and eventually found himself in his own songs. He subsequently found refuge in sharing the songs with his closest friends and bandmates, Eric Fisher and Jenna Conrad. Having walked alongside him through this most challenging journey, the songs that came out of it are as much theirs as his. Jurado, Fisher, and Conrad collaborated on the compositions - some much more rocking than Jurado fans are used to, but ever as intense - and pulled in producers Kory Kruckenberg and Casey Foubert to contribute their own unique stylings.

Recording started in the summer months and the sweltering heat, and wrapped in the freezing temps of winter. (It is clear on first listen that two distinct seasons are represented through "Caught In the Trees" - an accidental metaphor perhaps?) There was laughter and there was introspection, and the result is a record that Jurado loyalists will find was worth the wait. And perhaps a reason to listen for those who have yet to give this bedraggled storyteller a chance. Damien Jurado releases "Caught In the Trees" at September 9th. Recommended!

Damien Jurado - Gillian Was A Horse
Damien Jurado - Gillian Was A Horse (radio edit)
Damien Jurado @ MySpace

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Friday, June 20, 2008


Few producers in modern day hip hop respect the art of sampling quite like Canadian beatsmith Factor. Whether he's reworking dusty Canadian folk tunes or hidden funk anthems, Factor thrives on creating diverse, drum heavy, and wonderfully catchy beats. Over the last 10 years Factor has built a reputation as being one of the most prolific and consistent producers in independent hip hop. He has laced tracks for a veritable who's- who list of West Coast underground rappers including members of The Shapeshifters, Living Legends, Swollen Members, Freestyle Fellowship, Project Blowed and others. In Canada Factor has helped put Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on the map by founding and running the independent label Side Road Records all while producing music for every Side Road release. While most beat makers stay put in the lab, Factor is an exception to the rule, touring relentlessly as a supporting DJ around the world with many rappers including Busdriver, Subtitle, and Josh Martinez.

On "Chandelier", his first solo release on Fake Four Inc., the melodic elements of Factor's production shine while perfectly complimenting vocalists such as Sadat X of Brand Nubian, Awol One, Myka9 of Freestyle Fellowship, Moka Only and others. Unlike many producer/guest rapper projects of the past Chandelier does not come off sounding like another run of the mill hip hop compilation, instead this is a fully flowing, fleshed out album from start to finish complete with lyrical themes and musical odes to soul, folk and psychedelia. With Chandelier, the hardest working producer in Canada has become a master of his own style and has dug himself a niche on the fringes of a hip hop world all too often cluttered with imitators and uselessness.

Currently, he is performing alongside Awol One on the road with Montreal rock band Islands. Recommended!

Factor - Good Old Smokey (feat Myka 9)
Factor @ MySpace

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Daniel Ahearn

Daniel Ahearn is a singer and songwriter living in LA. He is the creative center of folktronica pioneers Ill Lit. His first solo effort, Pray for me by name has been highlighted on iTunes and by taste-makers KCRW in Los Angeles.

Daniel Ahearn, releases his solo EP, Pray For Me By Name, at 18. June on Riparian Records. Late in 2007, Daniel was robbed. His electronics, his boom box, keyboards, and pedals—all stolen. All the songs on his new EP, Pray For Me By Name, were written to be songs that Daniel felt like he could play with just an acoustic guitar and his singing.

The songs on Pray For Me By Name are the result of a theft and subsequent change of heart and character- a step aside from the body and sound of his band Ill Lit. His solo material has recieved early praise, including a recent Singer/Songwriter spotlight at iTunes and a Download of the Day at Los Angeles based KCRW. As for influences, Daniel says; “It seems as though most of the music flying these days is steeped in a posturing I don't relate too, a fashion I don't understand and “ethics” that feel a wee bit hollow, if not outright forced. This recording was an effort to be as honest as a liar can be, and an effort to get to the songs at the bottom of the night.”

Pray For Me By Name was recorded between two houses, one in Malibu and one in the Valley. Daniel recorded enough material to also release a full-length album by the end of 2008. These songs are about traffic, drugs, hookers, the gymnastics of relationships and a fascination with the West Coast. Every one of them is a love song. Recommended!

Daniel Ahearn - Down For The Count
Daniel Ahearn @ MySpace

Daniel Ahearn - Down For The Count

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Zita Swoon

Zita Swoon surprised and impressed the world with the splendid ´A Song About A Girls´ album, and received some extra admiration after the amazing ´Camera Concert: A Band In A Box´ CD/DVD. This unique acoustic live concept of ´Band In A Box´ touched thousands of people on concerts everywhere in Europe, and was a true inspiration for the band. On an artistic level, the extensive touring brought the band members closer together. This re-discovered pleasure of performing together is a central piece on the 2007 album ´Big City´.

Most of the songs on ´Big City´ were written while touring in 2005/2006. The arrangements were made up on short sessions in between the concert tours (in Belgium, Hoboken, Ostende, in France: Rognes, Aulnoye-Ameries and in Corsica)
An insight on the making-off of this album is offered on a 50 minute long bonus DVD, containing early versions of the songs recorded on some exceptional and attractive locations.

Zita Swoon released their ninth album to date Big Blueville. Big Blueville stands out from the rest of Zita Swoon’s discography because it was partly produced with the French market in mind. The band’s previous attempt to break into the French market ended in failure when the release of their 2007 album Big City was cancelled in France after their record label bit the dust. Undefeated, Zita Swoon are now back with Big Blueville, the second stage of their French onslaught. Big Blueville features five tracks from the ill-fated Big City including Infinite Down (a song originally written for Jane Birkin but which that most English of French ‘chanteuses’ has never sung). Needless to say, all five tracks from Big City have been significantly revamped for Big Blueville. Deftly mixing acoustic ambiances and amplified volts with songs in French and English, Zita Swoon affirm their reputation with a sound that is more vibrant and luminous than ever. Recommended!

Zita Swoon - I Feel Alive In The City
Zita Swoon @ MySpace (1)
Zita Swoon @ MySpace (2)

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Friday, June 13, 2008


A mid-tempo approach to their start-stop motions of experimental post-punk and folky undertones are what Earlimart became known for in their native Los Angeles. Named after a small town located between their hometown and Fresno, California, Earlimart's unconventional songwriting structure resulted in many comparisons to The Pixies, Sonic Youth, X and Sparklehorse. This attention resulted in a deal with Devil In The Woods Records, who eventually released their debut albums Filthy Doorways Kingdom of Champions in the winter of 2000. The Avenues EP appeared three years later, while also introducing Aaron Espinoza on vocals for the first time. The full-length Everyone Down Here followed a few months later, and Treble & Tremble in 2004. Moving further away from their post-punk beginnings, the band released Mentor Tormentor in 2007, an album sonically influenced by Elliot Smith and heavily rooted in chamber pop and lo fi.

"Song For" is the first song off the duo's stunning new album, Hymn and Her. It's a driving melancholy pop song that manages to be both economical in arrangement and still lush, with pounding piano bass, serpentine cello, and insistent drums, all bolstered by terrific vocal performances. Hymn and Her will be released on Majordomo on July 1. "Song For" is really just the tip of the iceberg on this diverse and wonderful album. Highly Recommended!

Earlimart - Song For
Earlimart @ MySpace

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marching Band

Marching Band (formerly known as Second Language) is Erik Sunbring and Jacob Lind. They live together and make life hard for their other flatmates by creating music at inappropriate hours. Two bikes, one laptop, three microphones and a shameless use of other peoples instruments is the recipe for a Marching Band recording. They have been writing songs together for 1.5 years now, and it is getting better and better. Their music is dynamic, hum-worthy and witty. Lately the songs tend to go in unexpected directions. If their songs puts a smile on your face and makes your life a little less dull Marching Band has completed its mission. When not recording Jacob is bidding on glockenspiels on internet auctions and Erik is trying to get some reading done without falling asleep.

The Swedish-based indie-pop pair combine eccentric musical elements with mainstay rock sounds, creating a unique sonic fusion that finds instrumentation of xylophone, marimba, banjo and vibraphone meshing with guitar, bass, drums and lush vocal harmonies. Marching Band's distinct sound and style arrives on August 5, 2008 with the release of their debut album Spark Large.

Produced by Adam Lasus (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Yo La Tengo, Clem Snide), Spark Large spans 12 tracks of beautifully crafted indie-pop and atmospheric folk. The disc's first single "Gorgeous Behavior" has already caught the attention of KCRW's Nic Harcourt where he has been spinning the song on Morning Becomes Eclectic. Meanwhile, another standout track from the disc, "Feel Good About It," has been put into rotation on Los Angeles' Indie 103.1FM.

Sunbring and Lind note that the development of Marching Band was a natural progression. "We met 4 years ago in our first year at university, and creative forces were released at that moment. Since then we've been constantly evolving," the pair says. Their collaboration with producer Adam Lasus then brought Spark Large to life. "We are very pleased to have been able to work with a great producer like Adam Lasus who really made our songs sound great."

Beyond Marching Band's early radio attention, the band has also placed songs in film and TV including Gold Circle Film's My Sassy Girl, Story Film's Play The Game, and CW's Aliens In America. Recent critical praise also includes nods from Pitchfork and Saturday Night Magazine.

Over the years we got used to good pop music coming from Sweden. Marching Band isn't an exception. Catchy pop tunes, happy melodies, two complementary vocals and accumulated positive energy in their songs give enough reason to believe that this band will have a promising future. Recommended!

Marching Band - Feel Good About It
Marching Band @ MySpace

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vanilla Swingers

Vanilla Swingers exist in a lineage of sophisticated, imaginative and slightly leftfield British pop music that has been overly neglected for about fifteen years in favour of dumbed-down alternatives. Think Pet Shop Boys, ABC, and The The; literate, eclectic, auteur-ish popstars, slick and professional. Probably their closest contemporary reference point, if you’re desperate for one, is Stephen Merritt’s Magnetic Fields. Other named influences include Blonde Redhead and the book Straw Dogs by John Gray.

Their eponymous debut album is a concept affair about two people who meet, run away together, go back in time, lose each other, and meet again in 2015. But it’s also just a bunch of songs. Good ones. There are genuine pop hooks and riffs in “I’ll Stay Next To You” and the deliberately catchy but repetition-avoiding prog-pop experiment of “The Hive”, a successful attempt to write a song that stitches together multiple pop moments into a prog template. If you’re following the concept, it’s during “The Hive” that the time-travelling bit happens. More importantly, some ace music happens too.

Johny Brown, of near legendary punk folkers the Band Of Holy Joy, provides lyrics and vocals on “The Way She Walked Out The Door”. The album is, importantly, mastered by Kramer, who has produced the likes of Galaxie 500, Low, Dot Allison, Daniel Johnston, and Urge Overkill (of “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” fame, and little else), as well as played bass for Butthole Surfers and Ween, and who knows how to bring the best out of a woozy melody and dreamy arrangement. It was recorded and mixed with Ian Catt, who has worked with St Etienne, Stars, and Kylie Minogue.

The upcoming release from Vanilla Swingers is deep, emotional, chilly... A perfect music to make love by. The album comes out at 28th July. Recommended!

Vanilla Swingers - Danger In The Past
Vanilla Swingers @ MySpace

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Anthem In

Allen Orr and Ashley Proffitt met in the fall of 2000 in Atlanta and instantly became fans of each other’s music. Allen was in the band Igloo and Ashley was playing quiet solo shows. Over the next seven years the two of them each moved several times to different cities and countries, only to reconnect in New York. Allen had a bunch of songs, Ashley had a Wurlitzer and one thing led to another.

On September 15th of 2007, Allen and Ashley met in a rehearsal space in the Lower East Side, exactly seven years to the day after the two of them met for the first time in Atlanta. They bonded over a mutual love of Def Leppard’s Hysteria, and Anthem In was born.

Ashley knew Keith Vogelsong in Atlanta, where he was fronting The Blue Hour, a band she loved. Keith moved to New York to relocate the record label he runs, Goodnight Records, and about five minutes after he got off the plane, Ashley nabbed him as Anthem In’s bassist. Drummer Paul Petitto was procured by theft from the band he was playing with at the time in New York, Russian Vogue, and Anthem In was complete.

Recording for Anthem In’s debut album wrapped in January of 2008 and is due out in June on Quiet/Loud Records. Recommended!

Anthem In - Down
Anthem In - Hold On To Me
Anthem In @ MySpace

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