Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kenneth Pattengale

Kenneth Pattengale works outside-or at least on the fringes-of what the music industry might traditionally call its own. Over the last eight years, Pattengale has taken inspiration from the career paths of artists like Randy Newman, Elvis Costello and personal hero Joe Henry by exploring what it means to wear the differing hats of film composer, record producer and performing songwriter. The music called into question is hard to classify. It runs the gamut from swamp music to rhythm & blues, lullaby to country & western, folk song to piano ballad and beyond. The songs take direction from the stories they tell, not necessarily held together by a clear musical style but by the authenticity with which the stories are told. Along with the artists that Pattengale looks towards for career inspiration, he hopes to follow Tom Waits, Gillian Welch, Chris Smither and Loudon Wainwright in their ability to conjure a unique American voice by transforming emotional experience into narrative.

Beginning with Downtown LA in 2001, Pattengale has independently released five full-length albums of original material. He has just finished recording a new collection of material entitled Storied Places, the first to see a departure from Pattengale's own label Four Six Productions. The record is to be released on January 27, 2009 by Milan Records (Ryko/WEA distributed). Recommended!

Kenneth Pattengale - Memoirs Of An Owned Dog
Kenneth Pattengale @ MySpace


Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - 1999
(from #4 EP, out on February 4th on Labrador)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jenn Grant

From her debut record, Orchestra for the Moon, Jenn Grant's name has surfaced in four star reviews from Harp and The Globe and Mail, earned her several East Coast Music Awards nominations, and landed her on tours with the Great Lake Swimmers, Hayden, Justin Rutledge, Martin Tielli, Danny Michel, and The Weakerthans.

There are traces of Orchestra for the Moon in her latest offering, elements that helped shape Jenn's sound into what it has become. Producer/pianist Jonathan Goldsmith (Bruce Cockburn) leads a heart-on-sleeve band through Echoes: Kinley Dowling on violin, David Christensen on bass clarinet, Sean MacGillivray on bass, Gary Craig on drums/percussion, and Jenn herself on guitar. These are all sincere songs captured in the moment, on tape. Echoes was recorded and mixed with a fully analogue process at Puck’s Farm.

Without the songs being old or feeling old, Echoes' analog heart reflects the art and the heart of Jenn herself, inciting a familiarity that connects the listener with the roots of music. Recommended!

Jenn Grant - Heartbreaker
Jenn Grant - Blue Mountains
Jenn Grant @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Asobi Seksu - Familiar Light
(from Hush, out on Feb 17th On Polyvinyl Records)

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free album release... The Dogs

“Stirrin’ up trouble like a mixing bowl.” Taken from their breakout “hit”, Dandy Lion Wine, these lyrics have begun to define The Dogs. This folk-rock outfit from Chicago, Illinois has played their fair share of clubs including Elbo Room, Lilly’s Bar, and Cal’s Bar, but they’ve become most known for their unannounced performances in outdoor parks that occasionally have resulted in their forced removal by local authorities.

After spending the summer gigging around the Midwest and self-recording, The Dogs just released their new and highly anticipated self-titled debut album. Though they got their start recording Phil-Ochs styled folk tunes into a four-track, their most recent endeavors draw heavily on the sounds of the Fleet Foxes, Espers, The Dodos, and Neil Young.

Although the band can boast upwards of 15 members on stage at a time, the group’s core consists of three members, James, Peter and Matt. With the release of their new album, The Dogs are sure to be rising stars on the indie rock scene. Check It Out!

The Dogs - The Dogs (album)
The Dogs @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Julie Doiron - Consolation Prize
(from I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, out on March 10th by Jagjaguwar)

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Mike Bones

A Fool For Everyone, the second record from Mike Bones, provides another ample demonstration of the artist's compositional range and depth as a songwriter. Mike has long been known in New York as an accomplished guitarist and on A Fool For Everyone he continues his journey to the top of the songwriter heap.

The record is best described by its creator who has this to say:

"A Fool For Everyone was made in April 2008 at a place called The Seaside Lounge. A few musicians joined me, old and new friends. Recording took four days. I don't particularly enjoy being in studios, but this time was easy. Decisions presented themselves naturally and we got good takes. Everyone was on top of their game.

All these songs were written after June 2007, except "Everybody's Always Coming Down On Me" which is quite an old song. I wrote one on the beach in Spain, the rest at my desk in New York City. Other songs were written in that time and in those places. Those aren't on A Fool For Everyone. Most songs exist because of beautiful women and existential despair, but that's no surprise.

There are a lot of guitars on A Fool for Everyone, not just mine, but Matt Sweeney's too. Our moves go well together. My last record purposefully had no guitar solos, this one purposefully does. Intention is important when making things, having complete understanding of one's intentions less so.

I heard my father doesn't like the cover this record because it's a naked picture of me. It's OK, I sort of knew he wouldn't. I like the picture and I like the girl who took it. I have my reasons.

All of the above is factual as far as I can tell. Memory is a tricky thing, but you know that. We've probably read the same books. Good night." Recommended!

Mike Bones - What I Have Left
Mike Bones @ MySpace



Phosporescent - Reasons To Quit (from To Willie, out on February 3rd on Dead Oceans)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Friendly Foes

Strip it down. Cut the fat. Verse chorus verse. No bridge? No problem.

That's it: the simplistic formula behind Friendly Foes — a pop-inspired three-piece hailing just outside of Detroit. But hold up...just because they choose the most economic way to get to power-pop's Pleasure Island, it doesn't mean their songs don't come without a hefty wallop, a fierce bite, and a few twists and turns to keep you on your toes. In Friendly Foes' world, simple does not equate with boring.

Inspired as equally by 70s punk-songwriters like Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello as they are the glory days of 90s indie rock (Superchunk, Guided By Voices, Chisel) — with a healthy dose of Husker Du and Replacements-style bash 'n pop thrown in for good measure — Friendly Foes craft rag-tag, rough around the edges rock songs that do away with pretense. Instead, they choose quick routes to get to the gooey guts of what makes for rock-solid jams: whip-smart lyrics and anthemic melodies delivered at an unrelenting pace.

Their first full-length, "Born Radical" (released on Gangplank Records), delivers the Foes' compact message in spades. Bursting with 13 dynamic songs, the album boasts lyrics that range from nostalgic looks at life before MySpace and Mp3s, to raging diatribes on rock and roll's currents state of affairs. Guitars slash and burn, the bass rumbles like a heard of stampeding elephants, and drums crash and bang with precise abandon. And it all comes from three distinct players who are hardly indie rock rookies— Allen also sings and plays guitar in Thunderbirds are Now!, Wittman is one half of Kiddo, and Brad Elliott has done his time in the Satin Peaches, amongst others.

Friendly Foes are just but a year old, but have already shared the stage with an impressive list of bands, including Sloan, the Walkmen, the Whigs, the Jealous Girlfriends, Born Ruffians, School of Language, Dosh, Cadence Weapon, Most Serene Republic, Rose Hill Drive, the Golden Dogs, and loads more. Recommended!

Friendly Foes - Couch Surfing
Friendly Foes - My Body (Is A Strange Place To Live)
Friendly Foes - Get Yr Shit Together
Friendly Foes - Born Radical (album stream)
Friendly Foes @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Bon Iver - Blood Bank


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Women is Patrick Flegel, Matthew Flegel, Michael Wallace and Christopher Reimer, and the four young men live in Calgary, Canada.

The debut album by Women was recorded over 4 months on ghetto blasters and old tape machines in Chad VanGaalen's basement, an outdoor culvert and a crawl space. Sometimes light and spacious, at other times eerie and dense with an ominous weight, this self titled album touches upon Velvet Underground, Swell Maps or This Heat while not really having any obvious precursors - a lo-fi masterpiece cloaked in layers of vibrato and guitar wash.

Noisy and claustrophobic songs smash through junkyard trash brawls while others lift and soar across the landscape of 50's-informed pop; a contradiction and an enigma, the debut album by Women will find its way onto summertime pool break-in boombox mixes and the turntables of record store devotees. Highly Recommended!

Women - Group Transport Hall
Women - Black Rice
Women @ MySpace

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