Sunday, December 20, 2009

NEW HEAVY BLINKERS SONG

The Heavy Blinkers return with a Christmas song from their highly anticipated new album "HEALTH".

"Silence Your Drum" is the new Christmas song from The Heavy Blinkers and the first glimpse at their forthcoming double album, Health. The song is the story of the fabled little drummer boy, as told through the perspective of Joseph & Mary. The song features lead vocals from Jenn Grant, backed by the group's trademark orchestral arrangements.

Recently named one of "The Greatest Bands You've (Probably) Never Heard' by Spin magazine (July 2009), The Heavy Blinkers long awaited 5th album, Health, includes contributions from renowned artists such as Sondre Lerche (Astralwerks) and Sean O'Hagan of the High Llamas (Drag City). When will this album be released?!

MP3: "Silence Your Drum" from HEALTH:
http://www.pigeonrow.com/HeavyBlinkersSilenceYourDrum.mp3



Video for "Silence Your Drum":



I'm convinced that this is not really a Christmas song at all. It's more like asking the question "What if the Little Drummer Boy had annoyed Jesus and his parents instead of making them joyful with his snare?" It seems that after traveling through the night with his drum our drummer boy just can't ever do enough for the baby he is trying to impress. It seems The Heavy Blinkers don't like to look at the bright side of the situations they sing about, even Christmas.

However, the story Jason MacIsaac invents in the song is very poetic and fully thought out. I'd also like to mention how beautifully the Heavy Blinkers new vocalist Jenn Grant is (I'm not quite sure if she is their full time lead singer yet, but when you sing lead on more than 3 songs you might as well be the lead singer). But it is the production of this single that makes it shine as bright as it does! It just sounds amazing; the balance between the vocals and instruments of the music is as precise as a Mozart Symphony (and perhaps just as big).

It goes without saying that the music in this song is more spectacular than most other songs that try to pass themselves off as Christmas singles. The Heavy Blinkers have put together something great this Holiday season that will regrettably get far less listens than it deserves. I'm amazed to believe that The Heavy Blinkers still keep getting better, even after the loss of founding members Andrew Watt and Ruth Minnikin.

It's clear that Jason MacIsaac is what made the Heavy Blinkers so wonderful on their first 4 albums, and from the looks of things, he will continue to lead his Heavy Blinkers until they are bigger than even Christmas itself.

Silence Your Drum is a bit unexpected, but a very exciting peak into what could be the best album of 2010, The Heavy Blinkers' "HEALTH".




myspace
| label

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Album Review: Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

I want to give you an introduction to the next few entries, just so you can get a full understanding of what I'm doing. After doing a lot of album reviews and after getting quite a few requests for me to listen and review new releases from their labels, I've become backed up with albums to listen to and review.

The truth is, it's tough to write down how you are feeling at the computer, so I had to do something else. One notebook, iPod (plus headphones), and pen later, all I needed was time.

So now at work, I'm going to write in my notebook (then arduously type it out later), and explain how I feel, paper-and-pen, honestly about these albums. I'm going to write a review of each track individually, and then a summary of what I thought about the album as a whole. I want to really be fair.

So grab a listen to each album on last.fm and read on.


CAMERA OBSCURA - MY MAUDLIN CAREER

1. French Navy - This song is totally pop. I really like the string melodies in the middle of the song. The repeating introduction motif is really powerful too. Very good singing as well; it's no wonder it's a hit.

2. Sweetest Thing - This is probably my favorite song on this album. The strings are just totally appropriate, and that chorus! It's a totally joyous chorus. I would trade my mother to have written that.

3. You Told A Lie - The A Cappella beginning of this song reveals the massive amount of reverb used to mix this album. The pre-chorus used to mix this album is pretty interesting though. It's just a country shuffle mostly.

4. Away With Murder - A rather slow foxtrot with a pretty depressing lyrical focus. I do think the guitar licks and keyboard riff in the background of the mix are rather pleasant, but too mellow. Overall it's just too mellow.

5. Swans - I think this song is rather popular too. I know this is supposed to be a first listen, but this album came out a while ago. I kind of think the guitar/marimba riff in the beginning sounds childish. I can't get over that.

6. James - The band Rocketship released a song in 2003 called James, sung by a girl about a persistent unwanted lover named James. Coincidence? Both songs are endlessly monotonous ballads. I'm sick of ballads.

7. Careless Love - I love the beginning of the song with the strings and clarinet playing that descriptive melody together. The guitar and organ give nice counterpart in the verses.

8. My Maudlin Career - There's a nice piano riff in this song that I like to hear. The lyrics are pretty humorous and smooth too. Maybe this song is a little long and drawn out. This is a middle point for sure.

9. Forests and Sands - The reverb is huge. Everything sounds pretty far away. Overall, the song is sweet and floats by on it's own, but nothing seems to make this song stand out or startle me to write anything interesting.

10. Other Towns & Cities - One guitar, one voice. Three tons of reverb. I just don't know what else to say. It's just boring.

11. Honey In The Sun - All of a sudden, things are fast and happy again. But is it too little too late? I think so. The verses are guitar-focused with little variation, and the chorus is just a variation of the riff the saxophones plays in the very beginning of the song. Then they repeat it all over again. "I can't go for that." - Hall & Oates


OVERALL REVIEW

Camera Obscura as a band are doing better than ever. They have a very respectable 3 albums and a slew of EPs, and My Maudlin Career shows the lead singer, Tracyanne Campbell, taking bigger risks and leaving behind a lot of the cheer they seemed to have before.

happy songs sell records, but sad songs only sell beer. Fortunately Camera Obscura will sell more albums than a lot of bands this year, but listeners of My Maudlin Career may be purchasing a lot of beer too.


website | myspace

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bikeride - The Kiss

The Kiss is the 5th album from Bikeride. Recorded inside lead singer Tony Carbone's home on a recording machine from the 1970's, The Kiss is Bikeride's very best album.

For starters Bikeride needs to be praised for their use of bizarre instruments and interesting song construction that isn't used nearly as much as it should. On the song Your Lips and You has Didgeridoo, Davul and everything they can to make it sound as Arabian as possible. Also, the song A Dancer's Feet Are Not So Neat has some of the very best pedal steel playing in a pop song ever, and it should, seeing as how Sheryl Crow's former pedal steel guitarist is who they chose to play on it.

Of course the album is filled with more pop hooks than you could imagine. Worth mentioning is the great vocal reprise and pedal steel riff at the end of the previously mentioned A Dancer's Feet Are Not So Neat. The bonus track Siamese Twins is also unbelievably catchy.

Also worth mentioning is the exceptional mixing. As I read on their blog "It was mastered in the same room and on the same equipment as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, biggest seller of all time. Maybe some of it will rub off on The Kiss." It most definitely did. Every song just sounds really great. Good job to Kevin Bartley at Capitol Records.

The album has a few trouble spots in the middle where the songs just aren't as original or moving. I also never liked Bikeride's habit of putting several silent tracks of varying length to eventually reveal a secret track or two. Just don't do the silent tracks; no one listens to them or cares about them.

Sadly, Tony Carbone died last March and left behind a really gorgeous daughter and wife. The band hasn't updated their myspace or anything yet, but I think its safe to say the band won't be them same without Tony. Who knows what the future is for Bikeride, but as for The Kiss, it is one of the best pop albums of the new millennium, but slightly haunting how it echoes his absence.

Myspace | Label | Buy it

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Update and reviews

Hi there! It's been a long time since I've felt like blogging. For a few reasons, mostly being that I don't feel quite as passionate as I did before. The internet is a wonderful place where you can voice your opinions on just about anyone and you can probably find a group of people who will agree with you.

Another reason being that I am legitimately a pretty busy person. I make music myself and I am now making music for a television program on the PBS channel. I am a very big fan of Joe Raposo and this is a dream come true for me, so I try to put as much of my energy into my artistic endeavors as I can.

Finally, a few people have asked me why I never provide links to download music without paying for it. My first thought to that is that there are so many other music blogs out there that already do this, but I've always just cared more about journalism than piracy and I've cared more about music than uploading files online. (See my Beach Boys blog for evidence of this). Then, my second thought is that I am one of the few rather small blogs (not counting websites like pitchfork) that actually interview artists that I really love on the telephone. I spend days and sometimes weeks researching things and really gathering my thoughts to do my updates and interviews and I would hate to lose the respect that I think I earn from my favorite artists by insultingly sharing music that I have no permission to share after complimenting them by speaking to them.

I hope you will always want to get to know small artists better by reading about them, and then choose to support them if you really like them. Having said that, I hope I will be able to do a lot more interviews and reviews (which are the things that I care about the most) on my blog.

I'll start right now with some quick reviews on some of my favorite new albums.


The male member of this band, Johan AngergÄrd, is also a member of one of my favorite Swedish bands, Acid House Kings and the girl at his side is Karolina Komstedt, from another beautiful band, Poprace. This supergroup of soft indiepop have released several albums together over the last 13 years, but their most recent album, The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming is their best to date. Slightly religious toned, the album is still gentle and beautiful. If you enjoy bands like the Submarines or Acid House Kings this is for you. (myspace)










The debut album from the Italian group Fitness Forever is nothing short of a masterpiece. The band is now signed to the brilliant Spanish label Elefant Records and rightfully so. Personal Train is loaded to the brim with strings, horns, bells and vocals that create a symphonic sound that even surpasses the best Beach Boys arrangements. The band's song writer Carlos Valderrama describes the band as his challenge to create pop perfection and it is extremely clear that he has created nothing but perfection with this beautiful album. (myspace)










This album came out a while ago, but I don't care because I still like it. The theme of this update is mostly extremely gentle orchestrated music and The Postmarks are just about the most beautiful band I know of today. Their singer Tim Yehezkely (yes, a woman) has the best female voice since Karen Carpenter passed away. This album just screams class, with jazzy arrangements and lush production it stands in a league its own. It is just impossible to explain why this album is so much better than all the others who attempt to copy their sound. The only way to know is to listen. Heart break never felt so good. (myspace)

The Very Most - Spring

One of my very favorite albums last year was The Very Most's second album, Congratulations forever (maybe you forgot about when I interviewed Jeremy Jensen, the band's lead singer and song writer?).

Well anyway, The Very Most are back in a big way, with a new EP released on Indiecator records. But please don't let those 2 letters "EP" make you think that this release is somehow less important than their full length last year. The nearly 14 minute EP is filled with all kinds of new sounds that show the promise for something that very few bands in this new millennium are showing - Growth.

Much in the same way that the Beatles were constantly evolving, The Very Most are expanding and experimenting in exciting new ways. In fact, every song on this EP has some form of strange percussion used. I'll just name a couple off the top of my head: Woodblocks, Vibraslaps, Scrapers, an army of Tambourines, Egg Shakers, and a lot of things I don't even know. The amount of percussion on "Spring" is really delightful and an extremely welcome addition.

However, all the experimentation in the world can never make a "bad" song "good". It should be mentioned that all the songs on the EP are extremely well written pop songs and fit very well together. The album is extremely enjoyable and pleasant and for the rest of my life I will associate this release with memories of spring. The band is actually making an EP for every season this year and I am confident that they will keep very true to this theme and do something that (as far as I know) no other band has done yet.

Probably the prettiest song on the EP is the third song "The Only Pretty Ring Time". The band sings an ode to the beauty of their home city Boise, Idaho and mentions how strange it is that their city is called the City of Trees. But I really just can't explain how great every voice on this song sounds. It really is wonderful.

Also, their label has commissioned a few remixes of some of the songs on the album. These remixes are also a blast and are all done so well. They make a very lovely companion to the EP and you can listen to the remixes for free on their label's website.

The Very Most are extremely committed to music and despite the speed that they release their records, they still put so much effort and joy into their work. "Spring" is the beginning of a new era for The Very Most and they have invited us to spend a year with them... A year?

I think I will be spending a lifetime with the Very Most.


MYSPACE | LABEL | BUY THE EP

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Found Love

Below is a positively perfect cover of the song "I Found Love" originally performed by The Free Design on their 1968 album You Could Be Born Again. This cover was done by the English band Trembling Blue Stars on the tv show YO GABBA GABBA. Check out their myspace!


video



i found this here

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Glasses - Story Problems



I just found this wonderful album from an artist named Will. Inside this disc are 10 perfectly crafted pop songs that makes me excited for West Coast indie pop again.

Story Problems is a beautiful album and its being offered for free on their website. I really suggest you take a listen to it and don't be afraid to fall in love with a new group.

http://www.story-problems.com/Home.html