Tuesday, February 24, 2009

North Elementary

The Chapel Hill quartet of North Elementary play, in the tradition established by their hometown at the end of the 20th century, eclectic alternative/indie pop/rock. John Harrison, formerly of the Comas, wrote most of the songs on their 2002 debut CD Out of Phase. The band also includes another ex-Coma, Margaret White, who was also in Sparklehorse when the album was released.

As 2006 melted into '07, North Elementary and producer Alan Weatherhead (Hotel Lights, Sparklehorse) were busy patching together a record weekend-by-weekend at Weatherhead's Richmond, Va. studio. The result, Not For Everyone, Just For You, is the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based North Elementary's most complete artifact yet. And for two years, it collected dust. The band recorded and released a whole separate album, 2007's Berandals (Pox World Empire) after finishing NFEJFY. False starts and missed connections plagued the record, putting the release date farther and farther into a nebulous "eventually." Eventually is now. Check It Out!

North Elementary - Decade Stylin'
North Elementary - Golden Tigers
North Elementary @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Throw Me The Statue - Ship
(from Purpleface EP, out Febraury 2009 on Secretly Canadian)

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free album release... Death Heart Bloom

Dead Heart Bloom began in 2005 after the breakup of Washington, DC band Phaser as a one-man-band: Boris Skalsky, Phaser's bassist, singer, and keyboardist, wrote and recorded the Dead Heart Bloom self-titled debut, releasing it in 2006. The debut was followed with a second album, Chelsea Diaries, released in 2007 - an acoustic follow-up to the debut. Chelsea Diaries was recorded at Dead Heart Bloom's Brooklyn studio.

In 2007, Boris began writing and recording with guitarist Paul Wood, also formerly of Phaser. The two wrote throughout that year and in the summer of 2008 began releasing what would become a 3 EP series, each EP embracing differing musical styles. The first, Fall In, was described by Rollingstone as “a sublime combination of dour, druggy vocals and corkscrewing guitars”. The second, Oh Mercy, was called “an unusual blend of intentionally unsettling bluesy yet aggressive rock" by CMJ. Now Dead Heart Bloom returns with In Chains, continuing the stylistic experimentation of the series but exploring a softer dimension, ending the series on a sigh of resignation.

What began as a cast-of-one, with revolving musicians, now includes Paul Wood, bassist Nathan Goheen, and drummer John Hadfield. A number of guest musicians perform on Dead Heart Bloom recordings and join the band for the live show.

All Dead Heart Bloom music is available for free download and is self-released through their own KEI Records. Recommended!

Death Heart Bloom - Free Albums
Death Heart Bloom @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: The Televangelist & The Architect - ...By The Pond
(from There's A Song In There Somewhere, out on February 26th on Undetected Plagiarism)

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eleni Mandell

Eleni Mandell is a supremely talented and critically acclaimed songwriter with a singular gift for writing wry, literate songs that synthesize jazz, country, folk, blues, rock and pop. Artificial Fire builds on her 2007 breakthrough, Miracle of Five, adding a more direct, full-band sound to Mandell’s sharp-edged tales of romance, lust and love.

Miracle Of Five ended up on a slew of critics “Best of 2007” lists, including Paste, Harp, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times. LA CityBeat described Mandell’s music as “a kind of pop-out-of-time, often dark yet somehow comforting, and as unforgettable as a warm winter day.” In an “A-” review of ‘Miracle Of Five,’ Entertainment Weekly said Mandell’s lyrics explore “the elusive promise of romance with wry wit and moony wistfulness.” The New Yorker says "Mandell was weaned on artists like Tom Waits and X, and her dark and sexy songs have been compared to those of everyone from Chan Marshall to Patsy Cline. She has a sometimes smoky, sometimes wistful delivery, and, more often than not, her songs take on love from some new perspective."

Based in Los Angeles, Mandell is a leading light in the city’s Silver Lake music scene, and is part of The Living Sisters, a local “supergroup” also featuring Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Inara George (The Bird and the Bee). All the songs on Artificial Fire were written by Mandell, and arranged, recorded and produced with her longtime band (Drake on guitar, Ryan Feves on bass and Kevin Fitzgerald on drums.), allowing the group’s cohesiveness and musical acumen to shape the tracks while Mandell’s articulate lyrics hold centerstage. Guests include DJ Bonebrake (X, The Knitters), fellow Living Sister Inara George, and Silver Lake music scene regulars Jason Borger, Danny T. Levin and Charlie Wadhams. The album was produced by Mandell, Drake, Feves, Fitzgerald and Dave Trumfio. Recommended!

Eleni Mandell - The Artificial Fire
Eleni Mandell - The Artificial Fire (video strem)
Eleni Mandell @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: The Thermals - Now We Can See
(from Now We Can See, out on April 7th on Kill Rock Stars)

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


Finding themselves laid-off from their jobs within weeks of each other, Lohio leader Greg Dutton and guitarist/songwriter Josh Verbanets decided to fill their days of unemployment constructing a recording studio. They spent weeks in Dutton’s garage; building out the space in which the bulk of the band’s latest album, History, the Destroyer would later be recorded. Musically, the album shows no signs of that winter’s manual labor. It’s all effortless sixties pop, with hints of country and 90’s Brit Pop tied in. Since its recent release, History, the Destroyer has been named as one of the year’s best efforts by people such as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and 91.3fm WYEP.

Lohio is based in Pittsburgh, PA. Since their formation in 2006, the band has garnered national airplay on stations such as KCRW and KUSF, found placement on MTV, and shared the stage with a range of acts including David Bazan, The Avett Brothers, American Music Club, Tokyo Police Club, Ricki Lee Jones, Jennifer O'Connor and Ra Ra Riot. Both of their recorded efforts have been well received, earning year end credits from various local and national media sources. Recommended!

Lohio - Modern Days
Lohio - You've Got A Lot Of Nerve
Lohio - Owen!
Lohio @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: The Cramps - Goo Goo Muck

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Bitter Tears

That was The Bitter Tears’ first review: Halfway through their first show, a member of the audience approached them between songs, uttered the above gratitude and turned and walked out. The Bitter Tears songs are obtuse and catchy. Their stage show is uncomfortably fun. If you don’t want songs crashing around like curious slobs in your head, The Bitter Tears could ruin your night.

Crafting an assault of absurd lyrical undertones, The Bitter Tears started as a country and western band but broadened out into other genres, blending different kinds of pop (country, folk, rock, brass band) while flying by the seat of their pants with whatever direction a song happened to be moving.

Taken hold by Alan Scalpone (vocals, guitar, brass, woodwinds), Michael McGinley (vocals, bass, brass, strings), Bill Borton (drums), John Leonard (piano) and Greg Norman (vocals, guitar, trombone), The Bitter Tears will release their second album, Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse, through Carrot Top Records on March 3, 2009. Recommended!

The Bitter Tears - Slay The Heart Of The Earth
The Bitter Tears @ MySpace


Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Old Panda Days
(from Advance Base Battery Life, out on on Tomlab, March 10, 2009)

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