Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Love You

In an abandoned storefront in Kansas City, Missouri, the duo known as ‘I Love You‘ pollute the airwaves with heady-polyrhythmic drone. Having exhibited their solvent circus at nearly 200 shows, I Love You spouts out anthems that cross the boundaries between sabotage and self-improvement. Their combination of noisy DIY punk with thumpin’ dub bass is catchier than you think – conveying emotion and pop sensibility, but mostly madness.

This you should understand: ‘I Love You’ is merely the English translation of the band’s “real” band name which is ‘Yah Tibyah La Blu’. With their second album, Bell Ord Forrest, the doubly named band has regurgitated a sprawling yet remarkably focused work. These are twisted, slightly menacing, yet somehow danceable tunes of indulgence and self-destruction – inviting all sympathetic listeners to smash their way to bliss… Singer/guitarist Justin Randel sings, shouts, rants and croons with a manic paranoia that hasn’t been seen since the last time David Byrne got really coked up before appearing on national TV.

While much of the enjoyment from Bell Ord Forrest is to be had while remaining motionless on a floor, this album does not lack the visceral, bodily experience so prevalent in I Love You’s live performances. Electronic experimentation abounds, though they would seem illogical and counter-intuitive to anyone who has ever considered going to a rave. However, to those versed in medicine-cabinet-rock, the electronic elements are completely sensible. Or at least, as sensible as anything can be on mescaline.

I Love You - The Colloquialism Is Simply 'Gas'
I Love You @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Nirvana - About A Girl (remastered)
(from Bleach (reissue), out November 3rd on Sub Pop)


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Parlour Steps

The keen intelligence, the ambitious ideas, the pride in tackling heady, and cerebral concepts that has characterized the band from Vancouver, British Columbia from the get-go remain intact. But a newfound musical confidence gives a carefree flow to the band’s music, with a vivacious presence and palpable warmth.

Lauded by the Canadian press, Parlour Steps has at various times evoked comparisons to brainy pop of XTC, the drama of Arcade Fire, the lyrical focus of Sufjan Stevens and the snappy rhythmic grip of the Pixies. But it is front man Caleb Stull’s relentless curiosity and daring songwriting that separates the quartet from the indie-rock pack.

What makes The Hidden Names stand out is that the five-piece band contributes with single-minded energy to what Stull calls “the greater good of the song.” That is something the world discovered in 2005, when "Thieves of Memory" won second place in the rock category in International Songwriter’s Competition, an annual event which that year drew some 15,000 entries.

But that was then, and Parlour Steps are not ones to rest on past achievements. In those days, the band got much mileage out of Stull’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek coinage of the phrase “thought rock” to describe the band’s music. Though Caleb is certainly unapologetic about the accuracy or usefulness of the phrase in gaining some attention for Parlour Steps, he is quite content to let fade away what he acknowledges may have been a “rather pretentious sounding conceit.”

Listen to The Hidden Names and you’ll snap your fingers, shake your body, twitch your leg, and soon enough, most tracks will have you dancing – without ever thinking about it. Parlour Step's third full-length, The Hidden Names, will be available at October 20th from Nine Mile Records. Recommended!

Parlour Steps - Little Pieces
Parlour Steps - Bleeding Hearts
Parlour Steps @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Mates Of State - You Are Free (The Mae Shi Remix)
(from Re-Arranged: Remixes Volume 1 digital release, out on October 2009 on Barsuk Records)


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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Laarks is a indie pop four piece from Eau Claire, WI. The band includes Ian Jacoby (keys, vocals), Kyle Flater (guitar), Zach Hanson (bass), and Brian Moen (drums). The band’s sound is defined by Jacoby’s soaring pop vocals, Flater’s atmospheric angular guitar work, and Hanson’s churning bass neatly tied to Moen’s explosive and dynamic drumming. Laarks released their debut full length “An Exaltation of Laarks” in March of 2009.

An Exaltation of Laarks isn’t so much a laudation of the band as it is a summons to experience the exuberance and passion of finely crafted pop songs executed with contagious energy, and in stunning fidelity (especially considering the band did it themselves, from 2” tape to album art). Listening to the record is like flying a keyed kite in a thunderstorm, soaring on textured choruses and layered buildups, waiting for the lighting to strike just to feel it course through your body to your melted soles. Highly Recommended!

Laarks - All The Words You Can't Say Right
Laarks @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: The Black Heart Procession - Rats
(from Six, out October 6th on Temporary Residence)


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Happy Hollows

The Happy Hollows' catchy yet dissonant sound is influenced by genres as disparate as 90's college rock, garage punk, art rock, and 80's pop. The band combines innovative song structures, surreal lyrics, and fiercely adept instrumentation to recreate reality into a jagged panorama of vibrant, kaleidoscopic collage. Listening to their music, one cannot help but see visions of a place oddly askew from the world we experience everyday, a parallel universe that is at once whimsical, demented, and ferocious.

Having born and bred their band in various corners of the L.A. music scene since forming 2006, The Happy Hollows played their first shows in Japanese restaurants, laundromats, and small local clubs. In their first year as a band, they snuck into a studio at night and, in two sessions, recorded Bunnies and Bombs, an EP that attracted the attention of the L.A.'s underground music scene. After seeing them play a show, established L.A. heroes Silversun Pickups asked The Happy Hollows to open for them at The Wiltern and The Fillmore. In 2008, fellow art-rock outfit Deerhoof invited the Hollows to open for them on their album release shows at The Avalon and The Great American Music Hall.

The much-anticipated and highly acclaimed debut album by Los Angeles trio The Happy Hollows officially hits streets at October 6th, 2009. The album, Spells is a culmination of their work with producer and former Mighty Lemon Drops guitarist David Newton (The Little Ones, The Blood Arm), who also produced the group’s 2008 EP Imaginary. Highly Recommended!

The Happy Hollows - Faces
The Happy Hollows - High Wire
The Happy Hollows - Monster Room
The Happy Hollows @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: The Raveonettes - Last Dance
(from In And Out Of Control, out October 6th on Vice Records)


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