Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bodies Of Water

Bodies of Water started in David and Meredith’s closet. They were newly married and lived in a very small house. The closet was the only place to put the computer that they used to record songs. They were content doing this for a while but eventually decided to send these songs out into the world. The first step was to form a musical group. Meredith had never played a piano before but she was willing to give it a shot. She had known Kyle for a decade or so and he decided to try playing the bass. Jessie was a new friend from Arizona who was making a big splash in LA. They all thought that since she was a gifted dancer she would make a good drummer, and so Jessie learned to drum.

‘Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink’ is their first record (and the first release from their Thousand Tongues label). The songs draw on an admixture of traditions; the transcendent intensity of gospel, brutish gusto of punk rocking, earnest idiosyncrasy of American folk, sonic inclusiveness of tropicalia, planned jamming of prog, and the sincere bombast of musical theatre. These songs can be likened to a sort of emotional topiary; an unruly living mess lent its shape by the psychic framework around which it grows.

The language of these songs obliquely references what is the overarching concern of the record; the irreconcilable tension between the physical and metaphysical worlds and the human creature that stands precariously astride the two, being pulled by forces indistinguishable from desire and pushed by compulsions masquerading as emotions.

Since its inception Bodies of Water have added an auxiliary corps of musicians and when playing in L.A. their ranks can swell to as many as 10; hitting, blaring, strumming and bowing away. The four core members’ vocal synchronicity remains the group’s hallmark. Their calls, responses, shouts and harmonies ride above and around a retaining wall of sound in a fleeting burst of neo-tent revival immediacy.

Bodies of Water aren’t providing a soundtrack for catharsis, surrounding the listener with “good feelings” or “bad feelings.” They only hope to give encouragement in the lone struggle against adversity, to proffer up a thing to be internalized (and evolve therein) or die. Comfort engenders complacency and neglect, while dissatisfaction/ingratitude begets cruelty and self-absorption.

Their second full-length, A Certain Feeling, and first release for Secretly Canadian, features instantly familiar melodies, rich harmonic color, expansively deft arrangements, and compositions that ebb, flow, and double back on themselves in cathartic synchronicity. It comes out feeling like the anthemic prog/gospel/psychedelic/kraut-tribal movie score that Ennio Morricone and Phil Spector never got around to collaborating on. Highly Recommended!

Bodies Of Water - Water Here
Bodies Of Water - Gold, Tan, Peach And Gray
Bodies Of Water @ MySpace

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Monday, October 20, 2008

New Releases from Juana Molina & CFTPA

Un Día, the fifth release from Argentinean artist Juana Molina is a brave departure from her previous work. It is every bit a Juana record, personal and intimate as always, but with pronounced rhythms and bold low end added to the mix. The album was recorded entirely by Juana (with the sole addition of guitar by Gareth Dickson from Vashti Bunyan’s band) at her home outside Buenos Aires. It is a hypnotic record, restless, alive with melodies that surface imperceptibly before burrowing into your brain, never to leave. The tracks are informed by an ever shifting and polymorphous sense of groove. The rhythm writhing over and inside each other, played out on wood and cymbal and bombo legüero, and woven from electronic glitches. Recommended!

Juana Molina - Una Dia
Juana Molina @ MySpace

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone has released a new EP. The Town Topic EP consists of thirteen instrumental pieces, book-ended by two vocal tracks. “Ice Cream Truck,” a simulated July soundscape of Mr. Softee jingles, cicadas and trunk-rattling bass from passing cars, tells the story of criminal-minded kids who go joy-riding in a stolen ice cream truck and make other poorly-informed decisions along the way. “Green Cotton Sweater (version),” features blown-out drum machine rhythms, clattering pianos, and loads of vintage amp abuse. Other stand-out tracks include “Town Topic (instrumental),” easily mistaken for the backing track of a long-lost Patsy Cline hit, and “Nashville Parthenon (instrumental),” which re-imagines the original electro arrangement as a lovely and minimalist electric piano lullaby. The Town Topic EP collects tracks from two limited, vinyl-only EPs plus bonus track “Lesley Gore on the Tami Show.” Recommended!

CFTPA - Ice Cream Truck
CFTPA @ MySpace

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Lucksmiths

Australian indie-pop trio the Lucksmiths teamed singer/percussionist Tali White, guitarist Marty Donald, and bassist Mark Monnone, longtime school friends who initially bonded over their mutual admiration for the Smiths. After going their separate ways to attend university and travel, the threesome reconvened in their native Melbourne in early 1993, playing their debut gig that April opening for the Sugargliders. The Lucksmiths' debut tape was soon released, and in 1994 the group resurfaced with an EP, Boondoggle. After signing with the local Candle imprint, the Lucksmiths released their first CD effort, The Green Bicycle Case. What Bird Is That? followed a year later, and in 1997 the band made its American debut with the single "The Invention of Ordinary Everyday Things," released via the small Michigan label Drive-In Records. Following the release of the 1998 full-length A Good Kind of Nervous, the Lucksmiths played a handful of European dates in support of Belle & Sebastian, a frequent reference point not only in light of the Lucksmiths' wispy folk-pop sound but also their self-effacingly witty lyrics. At a subsequent gig, Mannone survived a near-fatal on-stage electrocution, and the road-weary trio rounded out the year with the release of a new single, "Untidy Towns." While White spent the next several years living in London, the Lucksmiths toured and recorded only sporadically, cutting a handful of tracks in such far-flung destinations as Washington, D.C. and Paris. Both the Happy Secret collection and the Staring at the Sky 10" appeared in 1999, with the superb "T-Shirt Weather" single and the tongue-in-cheek "Greatest Hits" cassingle following a year later. The outstanding Why That Doesn't Surprise Me, the Lucksmiths' first full-length studio record in close to four years, was issued in early 2001. In 2002 the band released Where Were We? followed with Naturaliste in 2003.

Over the course of 15 years and almost as many albums and international tours, Australian popstars The Lucksmiths have penned some of the most adored songs this side of the pop underground and built up a massive fanbase in the process.

Most recent studio album ‘Warmer Corners’ received considerable praise, with Pitchfork calling it “idiosyncratic but accessible, literate but unpretentious, gentle but not weak, sincere not so much in presentation as in presence”. Two singles lifted from the album — “A Hiccup in Your Happiness” and “The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco” — both received heavy rotation across the globe. The latter also found its way onto Qantas Airlines in-flight playlist in 2006 — an achievement not celebrated lightly by a band with an enduring penchant for the somewhat ridiculous and irrelevant.

More recently, 2007 saw the release of a b-sides, rarities, and live compilation entitled ‘Spring a Leak’ with an accompanying set of US tour dates. At 45 songs in length, this exhaustive double-CD was well received and hearty enough to sate even the most impoverished Lucksmiths fan whilst awaiting a new batch of songs. In reviewing the album, Time Out Chicago declared “If a band can be this good on its cast-offs, imagine what the albums are like”.

A trip to Tasmania has yielded ‘First Frost’—the finest and most dynamic Lucksmiths album to date. Camped out in the wilderness, the band was free to explore and expand the musical palette, and with all four members contributing songs, the end result is a 14-song masterpiece bound to surprise anyone who thought they had The Lucksmiths pegged as sounding too much like The Lucksmiths.

On the album, the bands’ trademark lyrical hooks shine warmer than ever. Opening cut "The Town and the Hills" sets out some of the album’s central themes, examining the distance (geographical and metaphorical) between city and country. Meanwhile, "California in Popular Song" is a sweet slice of sun-kissed pastoral pop that combines sweeping strings, a throaty low-down guitar, some gentle fingerpicking and Tali White's pensive vocal to become your new favorite Lucksmiths song.

Recent live hits, the jangly "Good Light" and the surprisingly glam-rockin' "A Sobering Thought (Just When One Was Needed)"—the latter concerning a late-night drunken escapade at a public swimming pool — both receive a fine rendering on ‘First Frost’. Elsewhere on the album, The Lucksmiths' familiar strum is traded in for brief dalliances with a disorderly fuzz pedal, a choir of misplaced mittens, and a bird that just wants to know why you got drunk. Highly Recommended!

The Lucksmiths - Good Light
The Lucksmiths @ MySpace

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Magnolia Electric Co

After retiring Songs: Ohia, Jason Molina started up Magnolia Electric Co., a new avenue to explore his country-rock. The name of the new group was taken from the title of the last Songs: Ohia record and proved to be the appropriate connection from the past to the next phase of Molina's projects. The early makeup of the four-piece band in 2003 consisted of Pete Schreiner (Panoply Academy, Coke Dares) on drums, Mike Kapinus (Okkervil River) on bass and trumpet, Jason Groth (Impossible Shapes, John Wilkes Booze, Coke Dares) on guitar, and Jason Molina providing the other guitar and vocals. Magnolia Electric Co. recorded Trials & Errors live in Brussels in 2003, which Secretly Canadian released in January 2005. With later tours, Magnolia Electric Co. shifted the lineup of the band, adding Mark Rice (Impossible Shapes, John Wilkes Booze) on drums and moving Schreiner to bass and Kapinus to trumpet and keyboards, while Groth and Molina remained on guitar. Magnolia Electric Co.'s full-length studio debut appeared to glowing reviews in spring 2005 via Secretly Canadian. The band didn't slow down, touring for most of the summer and issuing the five-song EP Hard to Love a Man in October. The band released Fading Trails in September 2006, and then followed it up in August 2007 with Sojourner, a limited-edition four-CD set for the fans.

Jason Molina and his Magnolia Electric Co. have been a little quiet since the release of their magnificent box set Sojourner, last year. But never fear Magnolia fans, when Mr. Molina goes quiet it usually means he's gearing up for something big, and the first wisps of the next Magnolia Electric Co. project will be landing soon in a town near you. Jason Molina, now living in the UK, has spent much of the recent months touring solo in his new home, and writing, writing, writing. Now starting on October 21 he will be reuniting with his fellow Electricians: Jason Groth, Pete Schreiner, Mikey Kapinus, and Mark Rice for a thirteen date U.S. tour. The band will be fleshing out new songs on the road, as well as Magnolia classics. It's even been rumored that the band has been practising some old Songs: Ohia tunes for the tour as well. The tour will end with a performance at Chicago's Abbey Pub, and a subsequent studio session with Steve Albini in the Windy City for a new Magnolia Electric Co. album to be released in mid-2009! Recommended!

Magnolia Electric Co - Texas 71
Magnolia Electric Co - Lonesome Valley
Magnolia Electric Co - Little At A Time (mov)
Magnolia Electric Co @ MySpace

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Ting Tings

The Ting Tings are an English electropop band, with Dear Eskiimo’s Jules De Martino (drums & vocals) & Katie White (vocals, guitar & bass drum). They formed in 2006 while based in Islington Mill, Salford.

Katie White first appeared, as a teenager, in girl group TKO - short for Total Knock Out. The band consisted of Katie and two friends. TKO supported acts like Steps and Five but never signed a record deal or released a record.

Jules De Martino started out in a teenage band called Babakoto, and released a single called “Just To Get By” in 1987. After Babakoto split up De Martino was singer in an indie rock group “Mojo Pin”. Mojo Pin released two singles, “You” in 1995 and “My Imagination” in 1996.

The Ting Tings’ first single “That’s Not My Name” was released on local label Switchflicker, and together with their second single “Fruit Machine”, were on heavy rotation in British radio (amongst others BBC 6 Music, played regularly by many DJs including a session for Steve Lamacq), are considered indie music hits. “Fruit Machine” was a limited-edition, 500-only seven-inch single on Legendre Starkie Records, which was only available at the group’s gigs at Islington Mill in Salford, Eleckrowerkz in Islington, West Germany in Berlin and at Glasslands in Brooklyn, New York City.

They had a notable performance at Glastonbury Festival 2007, and after an October 2007 tour of Universities in the UK with Reverend and the Makers, signed for Columbia Records, and appeared on Later with Jools Holland on 14 December, 2007.

In January 2008 they were voted third in the annual BBC 6 Music poll of industry experts ‘Sound of 2008,’ for acts to emerge in the coming year. In February 2008 they were the opening slot act on the 2008 Shockwaves NME Awards Tour, performing with The Cribs, Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong and Does It Offend You, Yeah?.

In conjunction with the NME and HMV the band contributed a demo version of “Great DJ” to a limited, 5000 copies only 10” vinyl release of all the artists on the NME Awards Tour.

The first single released on Columbia was “Great DJ,” which received considerable airplay on new music stations BBC Radio 1 and Xfm in the UK, and was hyped by magazines such as the NME. The single “Shut Up and Let Me Go” appeared in an iPod commercial in late April 2008, peaking at #93 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Their debut album, “We Started Nothing” was released on 16th May 2008 with 10 tracks. Recommended!

The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
The Ting Tings - Shut Up And Let Me Go
The Ting Tings @ MySpace

The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name

The Ting Tings - Great Dj

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Jon Langford of The Mekons and Kat Ex of The Ex share a history outside their duo, KatJonBand. Both members of the 70s punk-rock squad, each faced their share of successes and failure in two of the biggest bands to emerge from the scene. Through a series of mishaps and shared friends, Jon and Kat join forces to bring their self-titled release on September 23, 2008.

Musically and lyrically, KATJONBAND, is a tough album; stripped down, basic and to the point. The Mekons and The Ex have always been explicitly political bands, so it’s no surprise that the Iraq war, globalization, class, greed, patriotism and kinky sex all rear their ugly heads in these bone-bare, blood-boiling anthems. With Kat on drums and Jon on guitar, the duo shares the microphone, summoning Jon’s gruff Welsh pirate howl and Kat’s clear-as-a-bell Swabian soar. Recommended!

KatJonBand - Bad Apples
KatJonBand -Do You
KatJonBand @ MySpace

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