New Music - Chris Mills

So, this little hobby of mine where I demonstate for the world that I have too much time on my hands has extended itself to the world of professional music journalism. I wrote my first non-blogspot published album review recently for Treble, which went up on their site on Friday. Yay for me, right?

The album I took a look at is Living In The Aftermath by Chris Mills. You can read here for my complete thoughts if you want to, but overall it’s mostly a pretty middling collection of socially conscious pop-folk songs that I had a mix of nice and not nice things to say about. The best song of the bunch is “Can’t Believe”, a genuinely affecting and beautiful acoustic ballad that closes the album with some much needed understatement.

MP3 :: Can’t Believe
(from Living In The Aftermath. Buy here)

PHW Songs of the Month - 5/08

MP3 :: Lights Out
(from Santogold. Buy here)
Previously on PHW :: New Music - Santogold

Wolf Parade
MP3 :: Language City
(from the forthcoming At Mount Zoomer. Info here)
Previously on PHW :: [mp3] Wolf Parade - “Language City”

MP3 :: Sinkhole
(from You’re No Dream. Buy here)

MP3 :: My
(from Huggable Dust. Buy here)
Previously on PHW :: [mp3] Okay - “My”

PHW Album of the Month - 5/08

I know it’s originally from 1984, but the most essential album (re)released this month is The Replacements’ classic Let It Be. Call me crazy, but I just felt like spicing things up here at PHW this month. That, and Nouns and Santogold are good, but not album of the month good. I did bitch a little about the shortage of bonus material (which got some very interesting feedback from none other than Mats producer Peter Jesperson himself), which certainly had the potential to be more generous, but the album itself is one of my all time favorites and has never sounded better. Let It Be is the culmination of The Replacements’ early Twin Tone years and, more so than any of their albums before or after, captures the searing “power trash”, beer-breath spirit, and poignant Paul Westerberg songwriting of the band at their best.

MP3 :: Unsatisfied
MP3 :: Perfectly Lethal (Bonus Track)
(from Let It Be. Buy here)


January :: Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
February :: Beach House - Devotion
March :: Fuck Buttons - Street Horsssing
April :: Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

[mp3] Wire - "One Of Us"

When you think of Wire, what comes to mind? If you’re like me (and most of the world, I’d bet), it’s their first 3 seminal late 70’s albums. These guys were so ahead of the curve they were playing post-punk around the time punk was breaking to begin with. If you haven’t heard Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154 then you should do something about that very soon. In 2 short years (1977-79, and 154 shows to be exact) they went from near-primitive art-punk to creating music that was more complex and experimental in scope than any of their punk peers.

For those paying attention (not me) Wire never really went away for long after that initial burst. This July they will release Object 47, named as such for it being the band’s 47th release (their 11th LP). “One of Us” is the first track and first single, and, though not as tense and dynamic as their early material, acts as a fine introduction to the 21st century version of Wire - it’s a vaguely 80s sounding pop song with a catchy-as-can-be chorus. For a band that’s always had plenty of critical acclaim, maybe it’s time for their commercial appeal to catch up.

MP3 :: One Of Us
(from Object 47. Buy here)

Suicide (don't do it)

I doubt much of the world knew what to do with Suicide when they emerged from the New York art-rock scene of the 1970s with their self-titled debut. A deliberately confrontational mix of punk, synth-pop, rockabilly, early-industrial, and electronica, all infused with a sinister punk rock attitude, the album still sounds as fresh in 2008 as it must have been confusing in 1977. Suicide, a caustic mix of Martin Rev’s organs & synthesizers, throbbing bass lines, eerie sound effects, and Alan Vega’s breathy croon, was a huge influence on post-punk and new wave bands throughout the 80’s. And it seems unlikely on first listen, but it helped shape Bruce Springsteen’s classic Nebraska as well (with their shared Frankies and Johnnies, not to mention the post-Vietnam desperation). The New York band’s stripped down sound doesn’t seem to have much in common on first listen with the Boss’ 4-track acoustic masterpiece, but close listening reveals a striking similarity in theme, character, and mood between the two. Get caught up with this often-overlooked classic.

MP3 :: Cheree
(from Suicide. Buy here)

[mp3] Sigur Ros - "Gobbledigook"

This one is for those of you who didn’t get enough ass over the weekend. I just learned today that, according to the U.N., Iceland is, per capita, the world’s richest country. How ‘bout that? For all intents and purposes, Sigur Rós should be raking it in. On June 24 in the U.S. the band will release an album and hope to make some money from it. It will have a title you can’t pronounce and be filled with the most intensely gorgeous music of the year (speculation, but seriously).

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is that title which, according to Stereogum, translates to “with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly”. Cool. Not so cool is the title of the first single, released today via their website, along with a video. “Gobbledigook” is that title. Not sure what it means in Icelandic (or Hopelandic?), but in English it basically means a big pile of turd. Fortunately the song is anything but. After years of languid, widescreen epics, the band is finally getting its freak (folk) on.

And don’t miss a very not safe for work video that is also available for your viewing pleasure if you like naked folks hopping over logs and stuff.

MP3 :: Gobbledigook
(from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. Info here)

A.A. Bondy re-releases American Hearts; records Daytrotter Session

I’ve already written about what a moving experience listening to A.A. Bondy’s American Hearts can be. Bondy and his debut solo album were my favorite discoveries of 2007 (check the list boys and girls), and with the recent Fat Possum re-release, which is available now, more people than ever should be able to catch on.

Bondy also stopped by Daytrotter recently and recorded a set which was featured on the site last week. He used the session to play a few new songs, cover an old blues standard, and play “Witness Blues” - one of the true standouts of American Hearts. Check out 2 from the set, then go download the rest:

MP3 :: Witness Blues
MP3 :: Among The Pines
(from Daytrotter Sessions. Download the rest here)

MP3 :: There’s A Reason
(from American Hearts. Buy here)

In a truly brilliant pairing, Bondy will play The Bowery Ballroom on June 11 with another PHW favorite, Deer Tick.

Related :: Live Review - AA Bondy @ Southpaw [October 2007]
Related :: Year In Review, Vol. 9 - A.A. Bondy [December 2007]

[mp3] Silver Jews - "Strange Victory, Strange Defeat"

More brilliant but weird-as-hell album art for you. The first song from the upcoming Silver Jews album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, has been making its way around the blogs this week. “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” is a fine introduction to another strong effort from David Berman’s band. How could it not be with an opening line like “squirrels imported from Connecticut, just in time for Fall”? This one sounds an awful lot like something off of Tanglewood Numbers - a good thing since that was one of 2005’s best albums.

MP3 :: Strange Victory, Strange Defeat
(from the forthcoming Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. Info here)

[mp3] Bodies Of Water - "Under the Pines"

Bodies Of Water made some waves last year around the blogs with their self-released debut, Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink. The attention was enough to get them signed to Secretly Canadian, who will release the follow-up, A Certain Feeling, this July. Here’s the first track, “Under The Pines” - a sprawling mini-epic of skewed pop that unravels itself through several expansive sections, highlighted by the creative co-lead vocals of David & Meredith Metcalf.

MP3 :: Under The Pines
(from the forthcoming A Certain Feeling. Info here)

Talkin' New York, Vol. 13 - The Basement Band

I haven’t written anything about The Basement Band yet, but I have a feeling that’s going to change over the next few months. As a genre I don’t have a great deal of faith left in alt-country music, but this NY-based, harmony-drenched sextet proves there are bands still doing that sound with passion and expertise. The Basement Band are preparing the release of their brand new, self-released record Until The Evening Came - due out June 28. Until then you can hear 3 new songs over at their myspace, or check out these tracks from a free internet EP called Meeting House released some time back.

MP3 :: Another Reason To Be Down
MP3 :: Kick Me (bluegrass)

CD Release Show: Piano’s, June 28, NYC

And check out other Talkin’ New York features on local NY acts over there --->

[video] - Bon Iver plays Later...With Jools Holland

If there’s a better voice out there today I’d sure love to hear it. From Later… with Jools Holland.

MP3 :: Skinny Love
(from For Emma, Forever Ago. Buy here)

Justin Vernon and band play NY again in late July:

July 29 @ Bowery Ballroom w/ Bowerbirds
July 30 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ Bowerbirds

More dates and music here


I’ve already mentioned the new Rhino re-issues of the 4 Twin Tone albums The Replacements made in the early-80’s. I know this. But I was listening today to Let It Be and realized that there are several noteworthy absences from the new CD that for all intents and purposes have no business not being included among the bonus material. [UPDATE :: check the comments, apparently there is good reason for them not to be included!]

Of the 6 bonus songs included, 2 are alternate versions of Let It Be songs, 3 are covers (I‘d never heard “Heartbeat - It’s A Lovebeat” - and it was a welcome surprise), and there is but one previously unreleased original - “Perfectly Lethal”, which has been cleaned up nicely from the bootleg versions I'd previously heard. In hindsight these 6 songs seems to be on the slight side, especially considering the wealth of bootlegged material that has been circulating for years among fans, not to mention that the CD could hold at least 20 more minutes of music.

Noticeably absent are the Paul Westerberg originals “Who’s Gonna Take Us Alive?” and “Street Girl” - both of which would certainly be of interest to any Mats fan who has never tracked them down before. Hopefully the rumored re-issues of the post-Let It Be Sire years, scheduled for later this year, will be able to be a bit more comprehensive.

MP3 :: Who’s Gonna Take Us Alive?
MP3 :: Street Girl #1
MP3 :: Street Girl #2
(Let It Be outtakes)

Related: Pitchfork has a new, in-depth interview with Paul Westerberg in which he discusses lots of interesting Replacements details.

Gold Soundz: "Nite Club"

Of the albums I love to play loud and shout along with, I can’t think of any I like better than Too Far To Care. The Old 97’s alt-country classic is stuffed full of songs that practically beg to make your throat sore. On it an impossibly charismatic Rhett Miller wrote a series of youthful anthems documenting heartbreak, drunkenness, and a handful of (very) short love affairs which together still stand as the finest set he’s penned. Musically, the band’s rousing shuffle beats and memorable riffs come on like a runaway train. Too Far To Care is the apex of their career, a perfect synthesis of the barreling speed-country of Wreck Your Life with the more traditionally pop-inspired songcraft of Fight Songs and Satellite Rides.

So, picking one song to feature is quite the daunting challenge. Opener “Timebomb” may be the sentimental favorite and somewhat obvious choice. “Barrier Reef”, “Salome”, “Melt Show”, and a handful of others are no different. But tonight I’m in the mood for “Nite Club” - a true barn-burner (in every sense) and perhaps an under appreciated gem from deep on the record’s back half. For all the wild nights and questionable decisions brimming out of Too Far To Care, it’s the struggling musician‘s frustration heard in “Nite Club” that might be the most volatile. "Well I just might get drunk tonight and burn the nite club down" comes off as the most fun sounding borderline-psychotic song lyric since "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die". And just like that classic line, you’ll find yourself feeling good about singing right along.

MP3 :: Nite Club
(from Too Far To Care. Buy here)

Gold Soundz columns highlight some of my favorite songs of all time. It‘s called “Gold Soundz” because I thought this blog would be cooler if I ripped off a title for a “column” from a not-at-all obscure Pavement song. Previously featured:

Slobberbone :: “Gimme Back My Dog”
The Jam :: “In The City”
World Party :: “Way Down Now”
Elmore James :: “The Sky Is Crying”
John Prine :: “Lake Marie”
The Band :: “Jawbone”
Neutral Milk Hotel :: “Holland, 1945”
The Velvet Underground :: “I Heard Her Call My Name”
Hank Williams :: “I Saw The Light”

New Music - Hallelujah the Hills

Boston band Hallelujah the Hills released their debut last year, Collective Psychosis Begone, through Misra Records. Despite being a somewhat uneven collection, the album wound up housing one of my favorite songs of 2007 in the song that actually gets its name from the band. Or vice versa. “Hallelujah the Hills” has kept, er, Hallelujah the Hills both on my radar and on my playlists for almost a year now.

Last month the band released a new FREE EP through their website. The 7 tracks that make up Prepare To Qualify once again display the band’s penchant for very skewed pop songs with memorable melodies and creative arrangements. “Monster Eyes”, is a lo-fi folk waltz and an instant standout. The song itself is a collaboration with best-selling author Jonathon Lethem. The music was written by the band around lyrics from his latest novel, You Don’t Love Me Yet.

MP3 :: Monster Eyes
(from Prepare To Qualify EP. Download the rest here)

Bonus MP3 :: Hallelujah the Hills
(from Collective Psychosis Begone. Buy here)

[mp3] Wolf Parade - "Language City"

Along with that crazy ass cover art, another new song has leaked, er...I mean, graciously been given away by Wolf Parade (the outstanding side project of Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs, and Swan Lake). This track, from the upcoming At Mount Zoomer (June 17, Sub Pop), comes from the Dan Boeckner half of the singing tandem and follows the Spencer Krug led first single, “Call It A Ritual”. It was made available through their myspace.

“Language City” continues Boeckner’s impressive songwriting evolution, which has always been critically under-appreciated compared to the sporadic genius of his partner. The song’s thumping beat, deft guitar/synth interplay, and sharp lyrics (urban dismay, go figure!) place this among his finest compositions. I haven’t heard the whole thing yet (wink wink) but these first two tracks are indeed appetite wetting.

MP3 :: Language City
(from At Mount Zoomer. Info here)

[mp3] The Cotton Jones Basket Ride - "Midnight Monday And A Telescope"

I was a big fan of Page France’s 2007 album …And The Family Telephone when it was released last year, which led me to backtrack to their even better 2006 effort Hello, Dear Wind. Band leader Michael Nau has put them on a temporary (?) hiatus as he works at establishing his other project, The Cotton Jones Basket Ride. Looks as though their aforementioned debut album, Paranoid Cocoon, will be pushed back until later in the year, which leaves some time for an EP or 2. Quite Scientific will be releasing a limited run of EPs - the first being 500 copies of The Archery, released this week. That’s 500, so get a move on. Another as-yet-untitled EP will see release at a later date. Check out the first single from The Archery:

MP3 :: Midnight Monday And A Telescope
(from The Archery EP. Buy here)

Check out the band on tour:

Wed May 14 - Hamden, CT - The Space
Thurs May 15 Brooklyn, NY - Union Hall
Fri May 16 - New York, NY - Pianos
Sun May 18 - Philadelphia, PA - The M Room
Mon May 19 - Arlington, VA - The Iota
Tues May 20 - Norfolk, VA - The Boot
Wed May 21 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
Thurs May 22 - Charlotte, NC - The Milestone
(full dates here)

[mp3] Okay - "My"

It seems that if your band is better than average you don’t name it Okay. I’m no band naming expert here. Just a guy and a keyboard and some time on his hands. But that should be a given, no? Maybe they mean it as an word of agreement. Do you want to listen to this awesome song I just heard? Okay. I don’t know. I don’t think I like it.

I sure do like this song though. Absolutely Kosher will release Huggable Dust on May 20, and I am now officially looking forward to hearing more from it. “My” is a sort of space-aged little folk song, not unlike some of those from Deserter’s Songs without the fancy David Fridmann orchestration. Singer/songwriter Marty Anderson has a disarming voice on first listen - part Mark Linkous, part night insect. Gradually though it overcomes those awkward first few seconds and reveals itself as full of hurt and honesty. It didn’t take long, but it’s my heart you got. Am I speaking too soon?

MP3 :: My
(from Huggable Dust. Buy here)

[video] - My Morning Jacket play SNL

"Evil Urges"

"I‘m Amazed"


While I’m not yet convinced that Evil Urges, as a whole, is a particularly worthwhile addition to the MMJ catalog (I‘m sure there will be many who disagree, most likely the same people who championed Sky Blue Sky last year), I am quite comfortable saying that the title track is among the year’s best tracks (which I pointed out here and then again here). I’m not at all amazed by “I’m Amazed” - wished they would have done the E-Street-esque rave up “Aluminum Park” or the pulsing “Smokin’ From Shootin’”, but beggars can’t be choosers. At least they didn’t embarrass themselves with “Highly Suspicious”.

MP3 :: Evil Urges
(from the forthcoming Evil Urges. Info here)

Catching Up w/ New Music

I’m not a youtube junkie like so many people. Usually it’s my brother who passes on “must see” videos. I first saw this one last summer, and today I thought I’d throw it in an unrelated post for your viewing pleasure. Over 30,000,000 people with 9 free minutes to spare have watched “Battle For Kruger”, but if you are one of the ones who hasn’t yet, now is your chance. It’s long, but give it time. 30,000,000 people can’t be wrong.

Here’s an attempt to catch up and post a bunch of songs that have been waiting patiently in my inbox for me to get around to. I’m only one guy here at PHW so I can’t get to everything, but these songs are all worth checking out - and some are quite good. Maybe you’ll find a little gem that I should have given a proper write up….

MP3 :: Couch On Fire
(from Boo And Boo Too EP by Boo And Boo Too)

MP3 :: Odds And Ends
(from Colonies by Canon Blue)

MP3 :: Paper Float
(from Small Time Machine by Cassettes Won’t Listen)

MP3 :: Everybody Here Is A Cloud
(from Feel Good Ghosts by Cloud Cult)

MP3 :: Coming Down The Hill
(by El Perro del Mar)

MP3 :: Westward Bound
(from Lander’s Peak by The Fairline Parkway)

MP3 :: Dog Years
(from Ghetto Cross 7’’ by Ghetto Cross)

MP3 :: Out of School
(from Housewifelovers by HouseWifeLovers)

MP3 :: End Result
(from 12 Crass Songs by Jeffrey Lewis)

MP3 :: Cinco de Mayo
(from Entropy by King of Spain)

MP3 :: The Good Old Days
(from Life Is Sweet by The Lodger)

MP3 :: Come On Feet
(from Little Death by Pete And The Pirates)

MP3 :: Right
(from Shooting Spires by Shooting Spires)

MP3 :: Cacophony
(from O by Tilly & The Wall)

MP3 :: Highway Robbery
(from Unicycle Loves You by Unicycle Loves You)

[mp3] Brendan Canning - "Hit the Wall"

Last year Kevin Drew released the wordily titled Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If… to solid reviews, even if most fans saw it for what it was. Which, truth be told, was basically the next Broken Social Scene album, minus lead vocals from the other guys, part timers, and side men (and woman). Spirit If was spirited, sloppy, sexual, and, like the prior BSS outings, overlong - in essence encapsulating everything that made Broken Social Scene special in the first place. It was also, arguably, a more marketable release. Despite featuring most of the usual BSS contributors, it put Drew’s boyish good looks and laid back regular-dude persona front and center, revealing a likable front man from out of this near-anonymous collective.

Following its success comes the second release of this new series. Occasional BSS lead vocalist Brendan Canning, a founding member of the group, will drop his solo debut, Something For All Of Us, on July 22. It comes via Arts & Crafts (home of Drew, Feist, and now Constantines, among others) as well. First single “Hit The Wall” is a dense, robotic rocker led by a driving rhythm and an repetitive electric guitar riff that, like the song, begins murky and gradually builds in intensity. In fact, if not for Canning’s buried, breathy vocals, the last 2 minutes of this song could almost be described as anthemic. Though not nearly as distinct as the best songs from Spirit If, “Hit The Wall” is competent indie-rock, even becoming quite memorable as it evolves towards its explosive ending.

MP3 :: Hit The Wall
(from Something For All Of Us. Info here)

[mp3] The Black Keys - "I'm Glad"

Just in case, somehow, Attack & Release didn’t satisfy your craving for new music from The Black Keys, the boys just posted this free Captain Beefheart cover over at their myspace. After recording their latest effort in a real studio with a real producer for the first time, it seems the Keys must have been hankering to get back to the basement recording of their good old days, and the slow building blues of “I’m Glad” delivers all the cement wall grit of their first few records.

MP3 :: I’m Glad

Related: Album Review: The Black Keys - “Attack & Release”

MP3 :: Strange Times
MP3 :: Remember When (Side A)
(from Attack & Release. Buy here)

Bill Hicks - "Play From Your Heart" / "Great Times On Drugs"

On a day when I’m home sick and feeling pretty crappy I thought I’d share some comedy with you from the late great Bill Hicks - certainly a comedian who lived the rock ’n roll lifestyle if there ever was one. I first heard the man’s work - equal parts shock value hysterics, biting social critiques, and cathartic soul baring - on a compilation CD from Uncut Magazine way back earlier this decade. The mp3 here - “Great Times On Drugs” - is, let’s just say, true for many. Seriously funny shit, just don't play them if you're at work.

MP3 :: Great Times On Drugs
(originally from The Best Of Bill Hicks: Philosophy. Buy here)

And from an album that is certainly deserving of its own post (note to self) here is a tribute to Hicks from Ed Hamell, aka Hamell On Trial - a hero of the New York’s anti-folk scene. The song “Bill Hicks” appears on his terrific 2000 album Choochtown.

MP3 :: Bill Hicks
(from Choochtown. Buy here)

[mp3] South San Gabriel - "Trust To Lose"

South San Gabriel has always been a decidedly more low-key affair than Will Johnson’s primary songwriting outlet - the feedback soaked hard indie-folk of Centro-Matic. You are most likely aware at this point that we are mere months away from the release of both project’s split LP, Dual Hawks. A few weeks ago the first of the Centro-Matic contributions made their way online, and now comes the first glimpse at what we can expect from SSG.

“Trust To Lose” begins cautiously, with a vaguely Middle-Eastern violin giving way to simple acoustic strums and Will Johnson’s gruff voice. An unlikely choice for a first single, the song rambles on gently for a little over 2 minutes before just kind of fading out, no doubt seamlessly into whatever track follows on the record. And that’s the way, if history is to repeat, the SSG side of Dual Hawks will most likely play out - songs that don’t necessarily impress for their individuality so much as their strength in numbers.

MP3 :: Trust To Lose
(from Dual Hawks. Info here)

And just in case you haven’t heard this one yet:

MP3 :: I, The Kite
(from Dual Hawks. Centro-Matic side)

New Music - No Age

Here’s a friendly reminder to check out the new one from No Age, Nouns, which hits stores, actual and digital, today. You may have noticed that it was awarded Best New Music honors by you-know-who yesterday, and deservedly so. My initial excitement for this album (12 songs and barely a half hour) has only intensified over the past few weeks - Nouns was a terrific first listen, but also has been quite the grower. Full of fuzzed-out, murky lo-fi jams, as well as the occasional beautiful space-aged instrumental, the record should only intensify the momentum started by last year’s singles collection, Weirdo Rippers. Take a listen to the whole thing over at their myspace.

MP3 :: Eraser
(from Nouns. Buy here)

Tickets are still available (as of this writing) for tonight’s show at The Bowery Ballroom.

What A Long Strange Trip It Was

Albert Hofmann, 1906-2008.

BBC News

How could I mention this without posting some products of the era?

MP3 :: China Cat Sunflower>>
MP3 :: >>I Know You Rider
(The Grateful Dead. from Europe ‘72. Buy here)

MP3 :: Third Stone From The Sun
(Jimi Hendrix. from Are You Experienced. Buy here)

MP3 :: Moonlight On Vermont
(Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. from Trout Mask Replica. Buy here)

New Music - Santogold

Yeah yeah yeah - late to the party. No shit Sherlock, I know. Maybe I wanted to be the last music blogger on the planet chime in on Santogold (aka - Brooklyn's Santi White). For those of you who haven’t checked her out yet I’d recommend you do so very soon - I haven’t heard a more impressive genre-hopper of a record in a long while. Her self-titled debut proves in the first few tracks that there isn’t a genre that can contain her, and from there continually surprises and impresses. Santogold encompasses an incredible array of influences - hip-hop, r&b, pop, 80s, reggae, club, punk, indie, soul, rock, you name it - somehow melding each into a continuously fun and rewarding listen.

She makes it all work, but not in a ‘you can hear it all in every song’ kind of way. The charm of this record is instead how every song is different and genre defining on their own terms. “Lights Out” is just an absolutely perfect pop song. “L.E.S. Artistes” has an opening riff that borrows liberally from The Strokes’ “You Only Live Once”. “I’m A Lady” features a bass riff that sounds like The Pixies’ “I Bleed” and then evolves into an infectious jazz-pop song. “You’ll Find A Way” flat out rocks, “Shove It” features a tongue-twisting verse from rapper Spank Rock, and “Creator” solidifies the often used M.I.A. comparison. There really is something for everyone to enjoy on Santogold. But better than that - the album can be everything for some.

MP3 :: L.E.S.Artistes
MP3 :: Shove It (ft. Spank Rock)
(from Santogold. Buy here)

And don’t miss this exclusive non-album track, “Your Voice”, available from RCRDLBL.

Introducing: Chris Kiehne

One of my favorite records of last year was The Dead Will Walk, Dear, the gentle and haunted folk debut from The National Lights. Lead singer/songwriter Jacob Berns’ songs about love and murder had simple and sublime arrangements that seemed to purposefully contrast the startling beauty of the music and the shocking violence of his stories. The production ear behind the album belonged to Chris Kiehne - who produced, arranged, and played many of the instruments on it. Kiehne also produced the debut from Sonya Cotton last year, Out Of The Ocean, which was another album filled with pretty folk songs and gorgeous harmonies.

After so much work helping to record his friends, Chris has finally decided to focus on his own music. He has been planning his debut album for about 5 years now, writing many of the songs that were intended for Pray For Daylight way back in 2003. Unfortunately, as he was finishing up the recording process a few weeks ago his hard drive crashed, leaving him with completed versions of only half his intended 10 songs. Not wanting to start over on a batch of songs that were so old already, Kiehne decided it best to take what was left and release it as a free EP on his myspace before looking forward.

So, Pray For Daylight has essentially become his lost record. Not many artists can claim that for their debut. The songs themselves recall the work he has already done with his friends - as you’d expect being that Cotton once again delivers some beautiful harmonies, and he and Berns have practically grown up together as songwriters. But where The Dead Will Walk, Dear was essentially a very pretty record about killing your girlfriend, Pray For Daylight acts almost as its opposite - here there is a sense of trying to protect her from something. While it surely would have made for a terrific full length, the 5 songs saved for this EP satisfy nonetheless as a seamless collection, introducing the world to another special talent in the Americana genre.

MP3 :: Diomedea
MP3 :: A Special Providence
(from Pray For Daylight. Listen here)

The Hold Steady get Stay Positive ready

But forget to include "Ask Her For The Adderall"?

So by now you’ve probably heard (via Pitchfork or Stereogum or wherever) that, in addition to being called Stay Positive, the new Hold Steady album has a tracklist (see below) and a street date (July 15, Vagrant). It’ll be interesting to see if the band can continue their string of great records after releasing one of the decade’s best rock albums (Separation Sunday - 2005) and a damn fine follow up that catapulted them to the indie-rock A-list (Boys & Girls In America - 2006). I don’t mean to be negative here, but by a quick first look at the track list I’m not sure if Stay Positive will be quite as great as it potentially could be. No “Ask Her For The Adderall”? They’ve been playing this song live for a while now and it kills (I know, I was there) - so how could it not make the cut? Has it got a new name? Someone, please fill me in….

Stay Positive:

Constructive Summer
Sequestered in Memphis
One for the Cutters
Navy Sheets
Lord, I'm Discouraged
Yeah Sapphire
Both Crosses
Stay Positive
Joke About Jamaica
Slapped Actress

And yeah, that Craig Finn press release is pretty great: Possibly the most exciting aspect of our band is the community of fans that have followed us around the country. In talking to them, we have found that no matter their ages, they are so much like us as people, that they seem at times an extension of the music. A great American philosopher named D. Boon once said "Our band could be your life." I think that is true. But "Your Life could be Our Band" is also a true statement. I know this because we have lived it. These are our lives. These are your lives. This is our fourth record. Stay Positive.
Here are more videos of new songs to keep you positive until July:

“Lord, I’m Discouraged”

“Joke About Jamaica”

“Sequestered In Memphis”


MP3 :: The Swish
(from Almost Killed Me. Buy here)

MP3 :: Your Little Hoodrat Friend
(from Separation Sunday. Buy here)

MP3 :: Stuck Between Stations (Live on the Current)
(originally from Boys & Girls In America. Buy here)

PHW Songs of the Month - 4/08

February was all about the ambient folk of Beach House and Samamidon, and March belonged to the electronic adventurists in Fuck Buttons, but April was about dudes with electric guitars and their amps turned up. Case in point - Frightened Rabbit, Constantines, The Black Keys, Centro-Matic, Ladyhawk, King Khan & The Shrines, etc. I could go on. Here are some of my favorite tunes released (or heard for the first time) in April.

The War On Drugs
MP3 :: Taking The Farm
(from the forthcoming album Wagonwheel Blues. Info here)
Previously on PHW :: [mp3] The War On Drugs - “Taking The Farm”

Tall Firs
MP3 :: So Messed Up
(from Too Old To Die Young. Buy here)
Previously on PHW :: Tall Firs - Too Old To Die Young
My Morning Jacket
MP3 :: Evil Urges
(from the forthcoming album Evil Urges. Info here)
Previously on PHW :: [mp3] My Morning Jacket - “Evil Urges”