Thursday, January 31, 2008


Sambassadeur debuted on Labrador in winter 2005 with the release of the "Between the Lines"-EP. The EP was followed by their self titled debut album later that year. The songs were all recorded at home which gave the production a primitive quality that labled them by some as being a lo-fi-twee act. This was never the bands intention.

If the cliché is that songs are like children, then Sambassadeur saw no purpose in stagnating in front of their home-computer while watching their kids being taken custody by those who didn't have the ability to, indeed, read between the lines and see through the understated surface of the songs. This called for some change.

The Ep "Coastal Affairs", relased in may 2006, marked the start of a development towards a more luxurious setting. Without loosing their enigmatic qualities, songs like "Kate" and "Marie" introduced a breeze of new confidence. The Sambassadeurs saw the oportunity to take things to even greater hights and returned to the scene in late august 2007 with "Subtle Changes". The first single of the upcoming album "Migration" and also the first Sambassadeur-song to feature a saxophone.

Three words to get you started on "Migration": Melodies, bitterness and some minor thievery. Now it's up to you to listen, draw your own conclusions and misinterpret. Have fun! Recommended!

Sambassadeur - Final Say (from Migration)
Sambassadeur - Subtle Changes (from Migration)
Sambassadeur - Kate (from Coastal Affairs EP)
Sambassadeur - New Moon (from Sambassadeur)
Sambassadeur - Between The Lines (from Sambassadeur)
Sambassadeur @ MySpace

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Frightened Rabbit

Though the past year has seen Frightened Rabbit finally step into public view, with more extensive touring and some recordings now publicly available, the past few years have largely been about the band quietly, commitedly honing their sound, and cultivating their art. Now a three-piece comprising Scott, Billy and Grant, the origins of the band are rooted in 2003, when Scott began playing solo shows under the name Frightened Rabbit, mostly in support of fellow art-schoolers Shitdisco. Recordings were made on a tascam 4-track recorder, with Scott playing all the instruments (some more proficiently than others). Though looser, sparser, and certainly more lo-fi in terms of production values, their early demo’s still attest to a burgeoning talent with a defined personality, and a now familiar penchant for being able to nail a near perfect pop song.

In 2004 Scott’s brother Grant moved to Glasgow, contributing drums to certain recorded tracks, and playing live. Frightened Rabbit became louder and better. They burnt 50 copies of their subsequent demo, and sent some out to labels, resulting in three tracks being hosted on the FatCat MP3/demo website, and marking the beginning of a wonderful relationship. In 2006, Billy joined the band playing primarily second guitar, making Frightened Rabbit in the band’s own words, a wee bit better and louder still. That February they went into The Diving Bell Lounge studio with Glasgow based producer Marcus Mackay to record some songs over the course of a week. The intention was to record a better quality demo, but the resultant recordings ended up as the bands debut LP ‘Sing The Greys’, of which 1000 copies were pressed and released that May on home grown label Hits The Fan.

An incredibly accomplished live outfit (seemingly without any effort whatsoever), further live dates followed into 2007, including a brief but succesful US jaunt, culminating in a sold-out show at The Mercury Lounge in NYC, before the album was even available in the US. After an intense spate of writing, rehearsing, recording, and remixing, and of course playing more live shows, ‘Sings The Greys’ was remastered by Alan Douches, and re-released in significantly revamped form by FatCat Autumn 2007, along with debut single ‘Be Less Rude’. Rounding off the year with the incredible 'It's Christmas So We'll Stop' single, 2008 promises to be another busy one for Frightened Rabbit.

Following less than six months in tow of the aforementioned LP, ‘Head Rolls Off’ precedes the bands forthcoming album, ‘Midnight Organ Fight’, a progression in terms of songwriting, sonic depth, and as a fully realised entity. Recorded by Peter Katis (Mercury Rev, Interpol) over the space of two weeks, and mixed over the ensuing fortnight, ‘Midnight Organ Fight’ was conceived and realised in a much shorter time span than its predecessor, with the intention of creating a more coherent, ‘pop’ sounding album. Yet although musically more immediate, vitally, the band have not forsaken the personality or passion of any of their earlier recordings. The new album is out at April, 1st. Highly Recommended!

Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
Frightened Rabbit @ MySpace

Frightened Rabbit - The Greys

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Monday, January 28, 2008


PANTHER is the two-headed effort of Charlie Salas-Humara (The Planet The) on vocals, cello, guitar, and keys and Joe Kelly (31 Knots) on drums. But even when it was Charlie's solo effort he was never really alone. Whether live or on record there was a sense that PANTHER was being overtaken by something, not an alter-ego, this was something else. Think Ian Curtis' convulsive intensity and James Browns spastic swagger and you still won't have PANTHER, but a sense of what-the-fuckness that all of them seem to call up. The early recordings born in the basements and warehouses of Portland OR around 2001 brought a new brand of broken electro that when coupled with the lunatic immediacy of his modern dance meltdowns defied categorization entirely PANTHER landed on bills as varied as opening slots from PEACHES to WOLF EYES. The monstrous throb of the beats matched by Charlie's intensity bring a sense of religious visitation to any room PANTHER humps the floor in. His panic-driven falsetto howling non-sequiturs about paranoid sexuality make his jams hysterical, compelling but most importantly danceable.

After several successful releases on indie labels Kimosciotic and Fryk Beat, the art galleries soon turned to sold out venues when PANTHER caught the attention of headliners like GOSSIP and RATATAT. And while touring in support of 2007's epic and cheerfully damaged SECRET LAWNS Charlie realized he wanted to dance to a new beat. Soon after employing the ferocious drumming of Joe Kelly the HE became a THEY and on the upcoming 14 KT GOD contagious hooks and loops over crushing drums usher PANTHER into new and lucid songwriting territory, even hinting at the political with songs like "Violence, Diamonds" and "Beautiful Condo." But just when things seem to be making sense the fever kicks in and everything suddenly unglues and before you know it you're dancing to full blown anthems about sexual obsessiveness and airplane paranoia. Rest assured, PANTHER hasn't calmed down in the slightest, they're just poised and ready to pounce. Recommended!

Panther - Puerto Rican Jukebox
Panther - Violence, Diamonds
Panther @ MySpace

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Josh Steinmetz

Josh Steinmetz performs under a number of names and with several groups including Proteus, Morgana, and Origin of Species. the album "9" marks the first time all the pseudonyms were dropped and the crutches of a multi piece band left behind... the long and often over thought recording process replaced by a nine day explosion in which all nine songs were written and recorded. the unadulterated voice of a confused, obsessed, and audibly desperate man sure does make for interesting listening...

9:NINE is the new album from singer/songwriter/ & multi instrumentalist Josh Steinmetz (released digitally and as 12" Vinyl) who for the past year has been shuttling between Minneapolis and Los Angeles touring and recording both by himself and with his band Origin of Species. This group of 9 Songs (recorded in 9 days) feels dark and moody and yet never mellow dramatic..but this music is undeniably a collection of indie pop of sorts. This is the new pop music: Eclectic sincere, complex, rough around the edges, and yet deceptively simple in a way that reminds one of the Cure. With bits and pieces of folk, electronica, rock, drum & bass, doo-wop and the list goes on. Recommended!

John Steinmetz - More Everyday
Josh Steinmetz - Hypertenderly
Josh Steinmetz - So Gone
Josh Steinmetz @ MySpace

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Friday, January 18, 2008


In 1983, a club booker at Folk City, located in Greenwich Village, turned down Lach, a young singer songwriter. His reason? Lach’s style of folk was too punk. Lach then opened up his own club on the Lower East Side called the Fort; which hosted its first event the same week as the New York Folk Festival. His event was called the New York Antifolk Festival, which is still held annually, now at his new club, the Sidewalk Cafe.

Lach is credited with coining the phrase ‘Antifolk’, which has served as a launching pad for musicians like Beck, Michelle Shocked, the Moldy Peaches, and Regina Spektor. His music is influenced by his conflicting love of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, versus his love of The Jam, Sex Pistols, and the Clash. He has released four albums in twenty years, each one receiving rave reviews from everywhere from Billboard to Mojo to the NY Times.

Antifolk founder and New York mainstay Lach will release his fifth LP, The Calm Before, on March 25th, 2008 through Fortified Records. His new LP is his finest release to date: it’s heartfelt, intelligent, good-humored, and expertly constructed folk played with the irreverent attitude that has become the hallmark of the Antifolk aesthetic. The new record delivers classic Lach tunes influenced by his love of folk and punk. As always, Billy Ficca from Television handles the drum duties on the album. Recommended!

Lach - Egg
Lach - I Want To Be With You
Lach @ MySpace

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Steppin’ out of the woods of Gothenburg, Sweden and right into your head is Graveyard. The quartet features Rikard Edlund (bass), Axel Sjöberg (Drums), Joakim Nilsson (Guitar/Vocals), and Jonathan Ramm (Guitar/Vocals). When recording of the album was complete ex-member Truls Mörck quit and was replaced immediately by Ramm. Upon their initial formation Graveyard quickly recorded a two track demo, which would serve as a preview of what was to come. After playing only three gigs and recouping from three severe injuries, Graveyard managed to find themselves recording an album for the venerable Tee Pee Records.

Graveyard’s self titled debut resurrects the sounds of 70’s psychedelic rock. The clash of folk, psychedelic, and blues makes for a mind-bending trip back to the days of Cream, Sabbath, and Blue Cheer. The classic vibe is evident throughout, from the masterful analog production of Don Ahlsterberg (Soundtrack of our Lives, The International Noise Conspiracy, José Gonzalez) to the wah-wah guitar solos on tracks like the urgency filled “Lost in Confusion”. The hard, blues infused opener “Evil Ways” features vocalist/guitarist Joakim Nilsson unleashing a Chris Cornell-esque howl, declaring “There lies a hole in my soul, that cannot be filled.”

Track by track Graveyard brings back to life all that is right with rock and roll, from the dark haze that is brought upon by the space blues of “Blue Soul” to the rocking trip of “Submarine Blues”. The band proves they have what it takes to hang with the classics while delivering a sound that is all their own.

Graveyard’s self-titled debut is due on CD and LP February 19th on Tee Pee Records. Recommended!

Graveyard - Thin Line
Graveyard @ MySpace

Graveyard - Evil Ways

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Library Is On Fire

The Library Is On Fire is a three piece art punk band hailing from the industrial neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. The band began in Kent, Ohio, in November of 2006 as singer/guitarist Steve Five started compiling songs following a bad breakup and a move from New York back to Ohio. The material quickly progressed and Five enlisted bass player Antoine Henderson, who had benn playing in a multitude of bands in Ohio at the time. Original drummer Cory Race of Ohio band The Party Of Helicopters originally played drums, but moved to Chicago soon thereafter.

With demos completed, The Library Is On Fire enlisted Todd Tobias of Guided By Voices to produce and engineer their debut album entitled Cassette. The Band then self-released the album. Subsequent to the release of Cassette, Steve and Todd began a recording project called Brother Earth.

Following Five's acceptance in the writing program at Manhattan's New School (where other noted alumni include Jack Kerouac and Sufjan Stevens), the band moved to New York City, recruiting drummer Pete Sustarsic, another Ohio native. The band has played shows with friends Pterodactyl, Ex Models, Marnie Stern, Christy & Emily, Knyfe Hyts, and Oneida among others.

Though unique and idiosyncratic, the band's sound has been likened to such disparate artists as Hüsker Dü, Plastic Ono Band, or "Guided By Voices and Nirvana on crack" as their friend and fellow Williamsburg recording artist Miles Robinson said.

The band has raised a lot of interest in the Manhattan art scene, garnering a performance at the opening celebration of Manhattan's New Museum Of Contemporary Art on December 1.

The Library Is On Fire CD entitled Cassette to be released to the General Public at the Grog Shop on Friday January 11th! Recommended!

The Library Is On Fire @ MySpace

The Library Is On Fire - Pink Rock (In The Front Yard)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Billionaires

The Billionaires are Tim Laursen (vocals, guitar), Joe Keefe (vocals, guitar, keys), Sebastion Keefe (drums, group vocals), Farley Glavin (bass) and Laura Jordan (vocals).

Really Real For Ever, the astounding indie pop debut from Los Angeles-by-way-of-Massachusetts group The Billionaires, displays an extraordinary songwriting spectrum. It’s hard to imagine a listener listening to sterling songs like “The End of Summer Song” and “Butterflies” and not coming away all smile. By the end of the final track, “Confidence”, you’ll be sitting a home alone with a fist full of Percocets and a bottle of vodka, trying to feed that sucking vacuum that is all that is missing in your life.

The album is the product of the environment in which The Billionaires grew up. A bunch of working class kids from Martha’s Vineyard, that tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts, where the Summer is Peyton Place and Winter is The Shining.

Tim Laursen, one of the band’s many singers, explains the bands beginning: “We have grown up together playing music but mostly being a part of a large creative group of friends, a sometimes very drunk, loving, angry, and sexy group of people. Sometimes there is no loving: just drinking and fishing and starting fires. We spread out over the island chasing kicks like fried clams or house parties. We are now looking for you to hang out with us.”

The band recently relocated to Los Angeles, where they recorded their debut with the help of producers Todd Philips (Bullet LaVolta, The Juliana Hatfield Three) and Wally Gagel (Sebadoh, Folk Implosion).

Really Real For Forever will be released on March 4th on the Too Soon label. Recommended!

The Billionaires - The End Of Summer Song
The Billionaires - Eighties Movies
The Billionaires @ MySpace

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Santa Maria

Maria Eriksson is Santa Maria. She is mostly known as guitar player, singer and songwriter in the Swedish popconstellations The Concretes and Heikki. Even though the forthcoming Santa Maria album is crammed with brilliant pop songs, the musical content is not very related to the pop music of The Concretes. Santa Maria is significantly more multi-faceted; she mixes intricate singer/songwriter-tunes with deeply progressive pieces, intelligent and distinctive dance anthems with stunningly beautiful tracks.

The musicians involved in Santa Maria are some of the most creative and sharp Sweden has to offer. Bass player, as well as the producer of the album, is Johan Berthling. Besides being a member of the internationally acclaimed electronica-act Tape, he also plays with artists like Nicolai Dunger, Tenniscoats and Bill Wells. On guitar, keyboard and vocals we find the frontman of Laakso, Markus Krunegård. And on drums another member of Laakso, Lars Skoglund. He also plays with Moneybrother - and is rightfully considered to be the greatest talent of the new generation. Also featured on the album are guest performers like: The Tiny-members Ellekari Larsson (vocals) and Leo Svensson (vocals), Anna Maria Espinosa (vocals), Sara Wilson (vocals) and Eric Malmberg of Sagor & Swing fame (organ). Recommended!

Santa Maria - Everytime
Santa Maria @ MySpace

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


WHY? is, most often, a trio of handsome Midwestern men with a shared past, present and future. Today, they fiddle around with skins, strings and bells through microphones attached to tape, presenting their “findings” to the waiting world. In an earlier decade they were all born in Cincinnati. And in the time in between, much did happen. Yoni Wolf, for instance, grew up the second son to an art book editor and a rabbi. He got his start recording bad poems and sloppy beats on the family synagogue’s forgotten 4-track. In junior high he discovered hip-hop; in art school he learned how to drop out. His brother Josiah played drums at worship service as a tot, dominated Concert Band as a teen, and fell in love with the compositions of Thelonious Monk on his way to University of Cincinnati’s music conservatory. Doug McDiarmid would eventually get expelled from UoC for carrying a stun gun, but was first conceived by two French teachers and taught piano while in kindergarten. He went to high school with the Wolfs, where he played in Steve Miller cover bands. In various permutations together and with other now-notables (Dose One, Odd Nosdam, Mr. Dibbs, Slug), these three created and/or contributed to a number of freewheeling rap and lofi bedroom-rock related projects, some still unexcavated: Miss Ohio’s Nameless, Apogee, Greenthink, Reaching Quiet, and the now seminal cLOUDDEAD. Their wildest dreams were achieved when they relocated to the West to make pop-inflected psychedelic folk-hop.

Yoni was the first to make the move. For four years, two EPs and one color-drenched album (2003’s Oaklandazulasylum), WHY? was his alone. He honed his trademark delivery—that sickly sweet, half-rapped, singsong-suicide style—shined up his wry, picturesque poetry on life, love and self, and developed a clip-andcollage composition aesthetic using keyboards, toys, guitars, samplers and anything worth banging on. When Doug and Josiah joined Yoni in Oakland, they brought a hoard of instruments and the ability to wail on every last one of them. By chops and imagination, WHY? grew into a thing of flesh, bones and fully fledged songs. In 2005, the band released Elephant Eyelash, and suddenly that once tenuous future seemed solid. Critics swooned; ladies lauded; WHY? did not rest. They toured (with Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, and Islands). They collaborated (with Danielson, Department of Eagles, and Subtle; Yoni made Hymie’s Basement with Fog’s Andrew Broder). They put out yet more music (the Rubber Traits EP and “Dumb Hummer” 7-inch).

Thus, the impending release of WHY?’s latest, brightest, darkest smile-twisted opus, Alopecia, isn’t so much a return as it is an affirmation of something already in the air. In February of 2007, the trio temporarily relocated to Minneapolis and became five, officially inducting Andrew Broder and Mark Erickson of good-art friendlies Fog into the band, then recording their new work live. As can be expected, Alopecia is a fantastic offering of raw sweat and dreams inspired by nothing more or less than the infinite erring bits of daily existence. Recommended!

Why? - The Hollows
Why? @ MySpace

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Crushed Stars

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Todd Gaureau, Crushed Stars released its first album, Self Navigation, in 2001. Gautreau had made his mark as an electronic musician recording and releasing albums under the names Sonogram and Tear Ceremony. But secretly he longed to return to his first love of guitar and intimate bedroom pop. The album received warm reviews and was quickly picked up for distribution by Carrot Top.

After playing SXSW in 2005, Crushed Stars signed to Arena Rock Records. The band returned to SXSW in 2006, to support the Obsolescence CD. They also appeared at 2006’s CMJ New Music Conference.

The band now returns with Gossamer Days, recorded and mixed by Stuart Sikes (Cat Power, White Stripes, Modest Mouse). The new record sees more complex arrangements along with more guest players, including drummer Jeff Ryan of Pleasant Grove, expanding the bands sound without losing the intimacy of Gautreau’s songwriting.

Crushed Stars will release its third LP, Gossamer Days, on February 19, 2008. Crushed Stars delivers pop sophistication with soulful songwriting, deftly weaving subtle electronics with gentle folk musings, and bringing to mind Big Star’s Third, Red House Painters,The Clientele, Durutti Column, or even Burt Bacharach. Recommended!

Crushed Stars - Spies
Crushed Stars @ MySpace

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