Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

I feel like the Halloween festival has a few phases, and most kids my age have entered the third level in its evolutionary process.  The first phase is the young age, where Halloween is all about getting a cool costume and trick-or-treating with your parents.  The second phase carries less emphasis on the costume, and instead is about obtaining (in many cases stealing) as much candy as possible.  The third phase, one that many college students enter in, suddenly has a heavy emphasis on alcohol consumption.  Either way, whichever level you may be a part of, Halloween is an awesome holiday.  To honor it, I made up a little 10-song playlist for you to download if you're in the mood for the creepy, eerie songs of Halloween.  You can check out the track listing below.  I hope everyone celebrated the way they wanted to this weekend and had fun, for's back to the daily grind.  Happy Halloweens and happy Sundays to everyone out there.

I'm In Your Church at Night by Active Child
Vanished by Crystal Castles
Irene by Caribou
Silent Shout by The Knife
Smokes Quantity by Boards of Canada
Double Helix by Emeralds
Ready for the World by How to Dress Well
Arcadia by Apparat
Everlasting Light by The Black Keys
They Are Night Zombies!!  They Are Neighbours!!  They Have Come Back From the Dead!!  Ahhhh! by Sufjan Stevens

If you want, you can download it here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Macpodz

I'll put it to you bluntly: UConn is in the middle of nowhere.  It's farm country.  I am not kidding when I tell you there are times I wake up to the smell of cow manure drifting into my window.  On extra special occasions when the wind is blowing in the right direction, the entire campus is blanketed in a scent of animal feces (my random transfer roommate last year loved these days).  Due to its seclusion, UConn usually only gets around one big name concert for a semester, so in most instances you have to cross your fingers and hope it's someone good (this semester's fall concert was wasted on Ludacris).  Also, since there isn't anything in the area, there aren't any venues to explore and the best you'll get is some unknown band playing at a local bar.  Basically, there isn't much going on music-wise here.  That's why I was ecstatic to see a band called The Macpodz was playing at a nearby pub tonight; to have such good band play in such a small venue is a rare occurrence, this never happens!

I was introduced to The Macpodz by one of my best friends at Ohio University during my freshman year, and he was obsessed with these guys.  One of the things I loved about this friend is that whenever I'd go to one of his house parties, he'd play The Macpodz instead of the usual run-of-the-mill stuff.  It was awesome to see such a change.  The Macpodz are self-described "bebop funk" and are closely associated with the jam band moe., who they have opened for multiple times.  They're fast paced, upbeat, and have a heavy reliance on the trumpet.  They also have some obvious parallels with Jethro Tull with the use of the flute (my friend referred to it as "flute beat-boxing")....and The Macpodz use it very well.  I've also heard they put on a stellar show, which I won't be able to see tonight cause the pub is 21+.  Fuck that.

Below I've posted "You Got Me" and "Ascention".  Hope you like the grooves.

 You Got Me


You can download these and more here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I never knew that indie hip-hop producers traveled to places like Stockholm, Lagos, or Khartoum.  Apparently, though, producer Oddisee has proven me wrong.  Earlier this year, he came up with a fantastic idea for a hip-hop album; creating a song to capture the feel of every city he toured in.  While in each city, he would make a short, instrumental, hip-hop song to try and acquire the essence and flavor of each location.  Such places include the likes of New York City, Boston, Philly, or international cities like London, Tokyo, or Melbourne.  I think it's a really creative and ambitious task to pursue such a goal as this, trying to put a label on a city musically.  In most cases, it works well.  I certainly like the songs, but then the question of accuracy comes into effect.  Obviously, I've never been to Khartoum, so technically Oddisee can make any song, label it "Khartoum", and I'd have to believe him.  To me, though, I find it intriguing to try and imagine the city through his eyes.  Or, if I have been to a city he makes a song about, not to judge it on accuracy but instead look at it through his own personal perspective.  With the release of this new CD, I've started the tradition of putting on a song of the city I'm visiting.  When I went to visit my cousin earlier this year, I threw on "New York City", and when I was on the subway in Georgia on the way to a wedding, I put on "Atlanta".  Each song is a small sampling, barely eclipsing one minute for each song, which allows for a broader range of cities.  On the album Traveling Man, there are 24 tracks (or cities) to explore, coming only to a total of about 45 minutes.  Below, I have posted a few of my favorite places/songs; "Stockholm", "Inglewood", "Long Beach", and "Atlanta".



Long Beach


I've posted a few others here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boy & Bear

The band Boy & Bear sound like a group that would wear worn down flannel, have long hair, and grow out their beards; at first listen they might be confused with Fleet Foxes.  They possess the airy folk ambiance and vocal harmonies that is essentially synonymous with the now-famous Seattle group.  In fact, the first five seconds of Boy & Bear's "Mexican Mavis" sounds like it was copied and pasted from the beginning of the Fleet Foxes' "Heard Them Stirring".  Upon further listening, though, it can be seen that the parallels between Boy & Bear and Fleet Foxes aren't so identical.  While Boy & Bear utilizes many of the same concepts, they have a little bit of a rougher sound in comparison, including electric guitar in many of their tracks.  It'll be interesting to see how they progress with this sound, especially since Boy & Bear is still relatively new.  They formed in late 2009 and have released only one EP in their tenure (With Emperor Antarctica), but with the music writing talent that's present on their EP, who knows what they're capable of.  I've posted the songs "Mexican Mavis" and "Rabbit Song" from this year's With Emperor Antarctica, have a listen:

Mexican Mavis

Rabbit Song

You can download the EP here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

El Ten Eleven

The music genre post-rock was a term popularized by music critic Simon Reynolds in 1994, he described the music as "using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures rather than riffs and power chords."  Post-rock bands typically produce instrumental music (or have a strong focus on instrumentation), and are usually associated with epic builds and crescendos of sound.  Anyone familiar with Explosions In the SkySigur RósGodspeed You! Black Emperor, or Talk Talk wouldn't be surprised to hear that.  A year or two ago, one of my really good friends introduced me to one of the most unnoticed post-rock outfits called El Ten Eleven.  More specifically, he made me listen to their self-titled 2004 debut, El Ten Eleven.  I was pretty blown away by it, and listened to it pretty consistently.  El Ten Eleven follows all the post-rock guidelines, they use their guitars for texture and have a heavy focus on instrumentation (well, they're instrumental, so I guess they'd have to).  The tone of El Ten Eleven is slightly subdued and softer in comparison to some of the aforementioned bands, making it very tranquil.  For a while now I've considered the song "My Only Swerving" as one of the absolute best late night driving songs.  On top of that, the whole album flows extremely well together, almost becoming one full song.  After a few listens, I couldn't believe these guys didn't get more recognition for their work.  They have a new album coming out November 9th, and I'm hoping it lives up to expectation.  Below I've posted the songs "My Only Swerving" and "Sorry About Your Irony" from their 2004 album El Ten Eleven.

My Only Swerving

Sorry About Your Irony

If you like it, you can download here.

I have one more thing I'd like to mention on today's post, just because it's so cool.  What if I told you that if you went to see a Phoenix concert at Madison Square Garden, that Daft Punk would appear out of nowhere for their encore?  Well, according to what I read today on Pitchfork, this happened last night!  While Phoenix was playing one of their best songs, If I Ever Feel Better, for their encore, the lights went down, and when they came back up, Daft Punk was there.  They played a set with Phoenix that included "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", which transitioned into "Around the World", and eventually an extended "1901".  HOLY FLUCKING SHIZNIT.  The sheer epicness of it just blows my mind.  Words cannot describe how badly I wish I could've been there to experience it.  For everyone in the audience, the show must've been unreal.  I posted the video of it below.  Prepare yourself for unparalleled awesomeness:

I've never been more jealous in my life.  I wonder if I'll ever be lucky enough to have a surprise of such magnitude at a concert.  My favorite part is when people actually realize what's going on and start screaming their heads off.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grand National

Late sophomore year, I went through an LCD Soundsystem resurgence with the impending release of This Is Happening.  The listening party I went through with LCD led me to explore more bands that had an atypical, upbeat, dance sound.  I was intrigued by LCD's abnormal technique; I have never danced so hard to a song like All My Friends where it literally sounds like someone is just jumping up and down on a piano.  James Murphy's ability to have something as chaotic like that sound incredible had me thinking, what else is out there that is unique and upbeat?  Throughout my search I found one of my favorite albums of all-time Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team and another band that caught my attention called Grand National.  They are upbeat, and they most certainly are unique.  Instead of using a lively and colorful singing voice like James Murphy or Michael Angelakos (Passion Pit), the lead singer of Grand National subdues his voice, and in many cases sounds like he's whispering.  Also, they tend to stray away from the common synth use of most dance artists.  Although it makes for a peculiar sound, I find it incredibly catchy.  Unique is what I was looking for, and unique is what I got.  To get a sense of what I mean, I have posted the songs "Drink to Moving On" and "Coming Round" from their 2004 album Kicking the National Habit.

Drink to Moving On

Coming Round

You can download some more here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beach Fossils/Houses

Three posts ago I mentioned the band Beach Fossils when talking about Craft Spells.  Since the post is relatively recent, I figured it would be appropriate to mention the new single that they released earlier this week.  For anyone who didn't listen to the song I posted by them, Beach Fossils is a trio that channels the summery lo-fi genre, utilizing fuzzy guitars and echoed vocals that bring you back to the sandy beach days of July.  On May 25th of this year, just in time for summer, Beach Fossils released their debut album with very positive results.  Well, earlier this week Beach Fossils finally released new material; a single which includes the songs "Face It" and "Distance".  They seem to have toned down the far out echoey singing, perhaps trying to appeal to a larger range of listeners.  This release makes me very excited for their future, it's a brilliant continuation of what they were doing in their initial album release.

Earlier in October I also wrote about the band Houses and their uplifting path to internet recognition and potential success.  They, too, have released a new single called "Reds" from their upcoming debut album All Night.  It's more upbeat than their previous two songs "Endless Spring" and "Soak It Up", but is still dreamy enough to remind you of the calm nature of Hawaii (where they recorded the album).  I think the song's strong point, though, is the lyrics, which accentuates the island feel and strong bond between the boyfriend/girlfriend romantic!  Overall, it's a beautifully crafted song, and its addition to "Soak It Up" and "Endless Spring" is getting me pumped for the album.

I have posted the three songs, "Face It"/"Distance" by Beach Fossils and "Reds" by Houses below.

Face It



You can download the songs here.

Friday, October 15, 2010


At times, I can't help but feel that one of this year's most overlooked albums is Elsinore's Yes Yes Yes.  This also ties in with the EP they released in January called The Chemicals.  Although the releases experienced some very moderate success, overall it seems as though both have flown under the radar.  I am kind of surprised by this. They have a very youthful, college pop sound that I would think my generation would enjoy.  Yet it also steers away from a lot of synthy, electronic computerized sounds that my parent's generation wouldn't like.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel like their sound can be enjoyable to several age groups.  Despite this, Elsinore hasn't caught on.

After some thought, though, I realized that maybe Elsinore's sound is a little too contrived.  Currently in a time when the indie music is experimenting with new ethereal chillwave techniques and Sufjan Stevens, arguably the best contemporary folk musician at the present time, is getting away with making songs that involve glitch hop and scratchy noises, it might just be that Elsinore doesn't have its place quite yet.  Perhaps they haven't been able to break free of the nerd-pop barrier like Ra Ra Riot was able to do.  They do for sure sound, and look, nerdy.  Just look at Elsinore's lead singer:

Yarg!  I'll fight you with my level 60 Mage and pwn you newbs.

This isn't meant to bring Elsinore down or anything, I really really enjoy their music and I think they're very underrated.  I just think they still may need to find their own niche in order to gain more recognition.  Don't take my word for it, check out the songs "Lines" and "Yes Yes Yes" from Yes Yes Yes below to develop your own opinion.  Enjoy!

You can download them here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Seba Jun is one of the more tragic stories in music.  At 36 years old, he got into a car accident in Tokyo that took his life on February 26th, 2010.  He made music under the name of Nujabes (Seba Jun backwards) and consistently worked with some of the better underground hip-hop artists like Five Deez and Cyne.  In the past, he had also worked with C.L. Smooth, one of the more recognizable names in early '90s east coast hip-hop.  There's a good reason he worked with C.L. Smooth; the rap production of Nujabes carries much of the same jazz elements that was present in the Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth duo.  In fact, many of the songs on his 2003 album Metaphorical Music sound like a jazz track with a side of hip-hop instead of the other way around.  This helps create a very casual atmosphere to his music, and from top to bottom, it's not quite like any other hip-hop album I've heard before.  I think this speaks to the range that Nujabes was able to reach and the talent that he possessed.  He and his music will be greatly missed.

Below I've posted a remix of the Five Deez song "Latitude" and an instrumental "Letter from Yokosuka" from his album Metaphorical Music.  So feel free to kick back and relax to the pleasant jazz rap production of Nujabes.

Latitude (Remix)

Letter From Yokosuka

I've posted some more stuff from Metaphorical Music here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Craft Spells

The Stockton, California duo of Justin Vallesteros and Frankie Soto have been pretty busy the past year making some damn good music.  Their band, Craft Spells, released a single in February of this year entitled  The Fog Rose High and later released an EP in July called Beauty Above All.  Also, at some point they will have a full album called Idle Labor.  Craft Spells is releasing these on Captured Tracks, the same label that has signed the likes of the Dum Dum Girls, Beach Fossils, and (one of my favorites) Wild they're in good company!  Chances are if you like the aforementioned bands, Craft Spells is something you'll be in to.  In fact, Craft Spells sounds like a hybrid of Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing, fusing the upbeat lo-fi pop of Beach Fossils with the dreaminess of Wild Nothing and putting that over some catchy electronic beats.  You can also tell that Craft Spells is trying to urge you to get up and dance around a little bit, whether you do or not is up to you.  Below I've put the tracks from their newly released single Party Talk ("Party Talk" and "Ramona"), which are also from the EP Beauty Above All.  Hope ya dig it.

Party Talk


You can download both songs here, and I threw in some songs from Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing just for shits and giggles.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has joined the likes of Dananananaykroyd and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin as bands with far out, ridiculous names.  The tactic works, though.  Let's be honest, how will you ever forget the name Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin?  Of course, it also helps to remember a band name when they put out a good product, which is exactly what Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. did on their cleverly named debut EP Horse Power that came out July 13, 2010.  The Detroit duo of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott describe themselves as "men of music and leisure", embracing a fuzzy synth-folk tinted with tropical influence.  Horse Power includes a funky cover of Beach Boys masterwork "God Only Knows" and an electro-Andrew Bird style song "Simple Girl".  Their full LP is supposed to be released in early 2011, and if it's anything like Horse Power it'll be guaranteed to thrust them onto the music scene.  So let's hope for the best!  Below I've posted "Vocal Chords" from the EP.  Hope ya'll like it, and enjoy the weekend everybody!

Vocal Chords

You can download it here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

TV Girl

Ahhhh California...the land of sun, waves, surfing, and big ass trees.  In parts of the state, California is basically a paradise.  Many people who think of California view it as a hub of relaxation and absolute beauty.  Therefore, I guess it would make sense that some of the best beach-bummin' music would come from bands who have lived there to experience it.  Sublime was from Long Beach, The Beach Boys were from Hawthorne, and The Grateful Dead from San Francisco.  That same style of sun-soaked music is what's coming from San Diego based TV Girl currently.  They're still unsigned to a label and have yet to come out with an EP (which is still forthcoming), but one of their tracks "If You Want It (You Got It)" has made its way onto the internet.  It's a pretty infectious song, and since it's relatively short, it's easy to play over and over and over.  I like to picture myself walking down Venice Beach, iPod in hand, listening to this song in a pair of worn out Sanuks.  Gotta love those Cali-vibes!  Check it out below:

If You Want It (You Got It)

Snag it up here if you want to download it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Zombies

Most people know of The Zombies because of their song "Time Of the Season".  Why not?  It's a pretty memorable and remarkable track.  But the fact of the matter is that the true Zombies sound is vastly different, and I didn't realize this until I listened to their album Odessey and Oracle.  Their real voice is a psych-folk, sunshine popish, summer of the '60s type that I am sure would dispatch a wave of nostalgia over my father.  It's pretty shocking how the rest of the album is completely overlooked.

It's possible that this is due to similar reasoning than that of Belle and Sebastian.  As I wrote yesterday, Belle and Sebastian is a band whose music didn't come to prominence until later on in their career.  While Belle and Sebastian only released an album in 1996, The Zombies released Odessey and Oracle in 1968, taking much longer to become recognized.  Even though their first album The Zombies experienced moderate success, Odessey and Oracle did so poorly upon its release that the group actually disbanded, not regrouping and making another album until 1991.  Even the August 1968 release of the single "Time of the Season" didn't make it on the UK or US chart.  It wasn't until the 2nd issue of "Time of the Season" two months later that it became a nationwide hit, and eventually, an oldies classic.  I have to wonder, what if the band stayed together?  Could they have followed up on their hit song to help solidify their legacy?  We'll never know.  I guess we should just be happy that we have Odessey and Oracle to listen to.

If you're a fan of "Time of the Season", you'll immediately be able to distinguish the contrast between that song and the ones I have posted below.  While "Time Of the Season" is a broody sex-cry for the horny remnants of the Summer of Love (and an awesome song), tracks like "This Will Be Our Year" take a different viewpoint, instead talking about the warmth of prolonged love and waiting for the right person.  "Brief Candles" also hints at love and is about a break-up that seemingly needed to happen despite the fact that they cared for each other.  A little different than seduction and an easy lay, eh?

If you enjoy '60s psychedelic pop full of harpsichord, The Zombies are right up your alley.  Below I have posted "This Will Be Our Year" and "Care of Cell 44" from Odessey and Oracle.  Hope you guys dig it.

This Will Be Our Year

Care of Cell 44

If you like what you heard, there is more here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Belle and Sebastian

It's almost here!  The masters of twee pop Belle and Sebastian have the UK release of their new album in only a week (October 11th)!  The countdown has been long and arduous so far, but with only seven days left I feel like I can finally begin to purge my excitement.  Much like Nick Drake and The Velvet Underground, Belle and Sebastian's musical aptitude wasn't distinguished until later in their career.  Their 1996 album Tigermilk initially released a mere 1,000 copies while the next album If You're Feeling Sinister earned a peak chart position of #191 in the UK, not even making the charts in the United States.  That's not very impressive for two albums that are considered some of the best of all-time, helping to revolutionize the twee pop genre.  But alas, Belle and Sebastian are past cult status and are now widely acknowledged as one of the most talented bands out there; since 1996 they've had a steady release of high quality albums.  If they practice consistency on this album, it should be a good treat for 2010.  Below I have posted a few songs from the earlier Belle and Sebastian days that I hope will get you energized for the new album.  And remember, mark your calendars for October 11th!

Sleep the Clock Around

Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying

Like Dylan In the Movies

She's Losing It

You can download a Belle and Sebastian mix here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


As much as I enjoy watching music videos, I've never considered it an essential part of my music experience.  Yet, every once in a while one comes up that completely floors me; a video that not only has killer music but has a visual appeal that seems to make the song even better.  Such was the case this summer when I was introduced to Blockhead (the solo project of Tony Simon), who is the well-respected hip-hop producer of Aesop Rock, a relatively popular rapper that started gaining underground prominence in the early 2000s.

Unlike Aesop Rock albums, Blockhead creates instrumental hip-hop.  The only vocals that are in his tracks are samples, nothing from him.  This has been the case since 2004 with the release of his album Music By Cavelight until the most recent release of The Music Scene in 2009.  It's the video from the title track of the most recent album that stuns me.  The song alone is absolutely fantastic, fusing together a mix of '60s psychedelic rock and modern hip-hop flawlessly.  What's even more impressive is how the music video complements the song.  They go together beautifully!  I recommend checking out the trippy, acid-induced video below:

Watching the video makes me extremely jealous that I'll never have the creative ability to make something like that.  It's quite a journey, and is open to much interpretation.  If you're curious and like what you've heard above, I have posted the songs "Which One of You Jerks Drank My Arnold Palmer" and "Tricky Turtle" from 2009's The Music Scene below for you to listen to.  If you like both, I have posted additional downloads here.  Hope everyone enjoys the remaining hours of the weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010


The story behind Houses is as romantic as it is inspirational.  For you see, Houses has finally answered the age old question: What do you do if you get laid off from your job in Chicago and have nothing in your savings account?  Well, move you and your girlfriend to a cabin with no electricity in the remote town of Papaikou, Hawaii of course!

This story is blanketed in an aura of glorious neo-hippiedom, and the more I read, the better it sounds.  Like I mentioned before, Houses is a couple that moved to Hawaii when the boyfriend lost his job, saying that he just felt like "he needed a change."  So, on a whim, they left.  They would work for their meals and learn about "cultivating microorganisms for sustainable living."  The cabin had no electricity or plumbing; so they'd have to extract as much energy as they could through their solar panels and cook/shower using pure rain water.  On many occasions, they'd have to use candle light in order to conserve energy to keep his laptop running.  During this time, their love for each other grew, and it's quoted that they "melted into one person."  Romantic?  Sexual?.....Both?  I think the best thing I've heard about the album though, is that the boyfriend is quoted as saying that "the music comes from a place of love and ease", which sounds quite beautiful.

The effort, the passion, and the purity of everything that went into the album really shines through on the tracks that have been released so far.  It's very interesting to listen to it knowing about its background, immersing you further into its experience and allowing you to appreciate it from a different perspective.  Their full debut album, All Night, is set to be released on October 19, 2010, but below are two singles from that LP; "Soak It Up" and "Endless Spring."  Download 'em here.