[video] Great Elk - "Bow Echo" & "Further North"

BUZZsession: Bow Echo - Great Elk from the WILD honey pie on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago I introduced you to Great Elk - today the Brooklyn band tipped me off to two in-studio live videos that have been featured over at The Wild Honey Pie. Watch the guys perform “Bow Echo” and “Further North” from their excellent upcoming debut EP, Great Elk(self-released, 6/22), and check out the free studio version of “Vibrations” below if you haven’t already.

MP3 :: Vibrations
(from Great Elk. Info here)

BUZZsession: Further North - Great Elk from the WILD honey pie on Vimeo.


LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

This Is Happening is the latest album from LCD Soundsystem, and finds James Murphy setting himself further apart from every other band out there walking the line between indie-rock and IDM. For me, the most interesting aspect of Murphy’s songs are not their explosive arrangements (though the way “Dance Yrself Clean” brings down the house just after the 3-minute mark might make me rethink that statement), but how he manages to inject so much gut-wrenching, heart-on-the-sleeve passion into a genre that often forgets that side of songwriting. Having only made myself familiar with a handful of their songs (“Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “Losing My Edge”) prior to 2007’s Sound of Silver, that album’s 1-2 punch of “Someone Great”/"All My Friends" was completely eye-opening for me - I don’t think I ever heard music that so many would classify as “dance” with so much heart. That aspect of Murphy’s songwriting continues to come through loud and clear on the new record. Though the smarter-than-you’d-think-but-still-kinda-ridiculous “Drunk Girls” was released as the first single, it’s “All I Want”, in all its “Heroes”-aping glory, that’s the most unforgettable song here - a tour-de-force homage to one of the most classic classic-rock songs in existence. Elsewhere, electric guitars fight with quirky, 80s synths for prime positions (usually to lose), and the clattering beats continuously make me shake it like a Polaroid picture, when no one's looking of course. The album’s not perfect - “Somebody’s Calling Me” plods and the first two and a half minutes could be cut from “You Wanted A Hit” without altering the song's impact - but, for the most part, Murphy nails it. Whether earnest, sobering, self-deprecating, or deadpan, this album shows an artist with the ability to write songs equally interested in your ass, your brain, and your heart.

Stream :: This Is Happening
Video :: Drunk Girls
(Buy here)

[mp3] Toro Y Moi - "Leave Everywhere"

Chaz Bundick, better known as Toro Y Moi, has gotten a lot of blog-love over the past few months for the warm, sleepy glo-fi/chillwave sounds that populated his recent debut, Causers of This. On July 20 Carpark Records (home of Dan Deacon, among others) will release a new 7” single called “Leave Everywhere” that finds the normally beat/synth-dominated songwriter expanding into the realm of guitar-based garage-pop. The result is this really terrific song that’s been circulating around lately.

MP3 :: Leave Everywhere (via Pitchfork)
(from the forthcoming Leave Everywhere 7”. Info here)

[video] The Mynabirds - "Numbers Don't Lie"

MP3 :: Numbers Don’t Lie
MP3 :: Let The Record Go
(from The Mynabirds’ What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood. Buy here.)

The Black Keys - Brothers

After several unsatisfying albums this year from bands I love (Transference, High Violet, The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, Heaven Is Whenever, etc.), The Black Keys’ Brothers is like a breath of fresh air. For their sixth album, the Akron, OH duo has once again delivered a batch of gritty, dirty blues-rock jams that don’t so much show musical growth as a honing of the particular sonic aesthetic that the band absolutely owns. This isn’t to say that Brothers is simply "more of the same", though if you aren’t into the Keys’ straightforward sound by now this record won’t do much to change that. 2008’s Danger Mouse-produced Attack & Release was a career peak, but I think they’ve outdone themselves once again on their latest. What Brothers does so effectively is extend the subtle differences between Attack & Release and their earlier material - there’s more of a soulful feel to many of these songs (as on “Everlasting Light” and “The Only One”), singer Dan Auerbach successfully sings in a falsetto on several songs (including the dazzling “Never Give You Up”, which you’d swear was some old Motown gem), and the grooves are ominously heavy throughout, even on the slower songs. “Howlin’ For You”, with one of the album’s most old school-blues melodic structures, even sports a pure Gary Glitter thump. But scattered throughout are some of the band’s most arresting scuzzy blues-rock songs - “Tighten Up” (the only Danger Mouse-aided track), “Next Girl”, and the Old Testament heavy “She’s Long Gone”. Sure, reinventing your sound and approach is a tremendous accomplishment when bands successfully pull it off. On this instantly familiar album, The Black Keys prove that knowing what you do well and delivering can be just as exciting.

Stream :: Next Girl
Stream :: Tighten Up
(from Brothers. Buy here)
There have been a few very funny videos so far from this album - here’s another, though Frank the dinosaur doesn’t make an appearance:

The Black Keys "Tighten Up"

The Black Keys MySpace Music Videos


[video] Free Energy - "Bang Pop"

Bang Pop

FREE ENERGY MySpace Music Videos

Free Energy’s debut Stuck On Nuthin’ is full of 70’s rock-radio-aping gems like “Bang Pop”, whose new video captures exactly what my high school was like every single day. Yep.

MP3 :: Hope Child
MP3 :: Dream City
(from Stuck On Nuthin’. Info here)

Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts

Like Sleigh Bells, Male Bonding are a young guitar band generating an enormous buzz. Nothing Hurts plays it pretty loud and fast - melodic punk full of fuzz and grit - that blur by in just under a half hour. Check out the two free downloads Sub Pop has shared.

MP3 :: Year’s Not Long
MP3 :: Franklin
(from Nothing Hurts. Buy here)

Sleigh Bells - Treats

The internet has been ablaze with Sleigh Bells of late, and after spending the past 3 or 4 days with their debut, Treats, I can say the hype is completely understandable. The boy/girl duo combine the hardcore background of guitarist Derek Miller with the girlie-pop origins of vocalist Alexis Krauss to create an abrasive form of pop music that kicks a lot of ass. They first caught my ear last October when a few of their songs (including “Crown On The Ground”, which is revisited here) began circulating after their CMJ shows. Since then they were picked up by M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. label and have been quickly building “next big thing” status ever since. Treats finally arrived last week and is quite the first impression - as if M.I.A. herself were recording with Deerhoof. Stereogum shared leadoff track “Tell ’Em” the other day, which you’ll find a link to below, but the showstopper for me, the song that forced me to hit repeat 3 times in a row my first time through the album, is “Rill Rill” (watch this), formerly known as “Ring Ring”. I haven’t heard a more immediate, more exciting pop song since “Paper Planes” exploded back in 2007. Throughout these 11 songs, Miller’s riffs pierce the ears while mimicking his classic rock heroes, the beats slam with an unnatural crunch, and Krauss’s vocals display a confident, sexually-charged vocalist capable of carrying the songs, but willing to be just one part of a better whole. Treats is an album that’s sure to be divisive - it’s “of the moment”, it’s distorted, M.I.A. tweeted about it, and, like Times New Viking, it’s just recorded so fucking loud. But it’s also 2010’s first great debut, has one (maybe more) of its best singles, and is stacked with unbridled joy. Dig in:

MP3 :: Tell ’Em (follow link to Stereogum)
(from Treats. Buy here)

The New Pornographers - Together

Though the internet is virtually unanimous in declaring Together as The New Pornographers’ return to form (after the fairly blasé Challengers, save “Your Rights Versus Mine” & “Myriad Harbor”), I still think you need only look back to the underrated Get Guilty to see that the addictive melodies A.C. Newman has churned out for the past decade plus didn‘t disappear for long. That being said, Newman proves he doesn’t mind taking a back seat to Dan Bejar, Neko Case, or Kathryn Calder on this new one, as all but two of his lead vocal songs appear on the back half of the album. Overall, Together packs quite the wallop - it’s the most energetic Newman/Pornographers album since Twin Cinema, and perhaps their most flat-out collaborative since Mass Romantic. It also continues their path towards a more carefully orchestral sound, with a ton of ornate flourishes filling in the gaps on nearly every track here. Together shows The New Pornographers are still the best in the business at churning out blissful, heavenly power-pop. Neko Case’s lead on “Crash Years” is my early favorite, and was performed recently on The Jimmy Fallon Show.

MP3 :: Your Hands (Together)
(from Together. Buy here)


[video] Here We Go Magic - "Collector"

Here We Go Magic’s autobahn-ready “Collector”, one of my favorite songs of the year, had a video premiere at Pitchfork earlier this week. Pigeons will be released on June 8th by Secretly Canadian.

MP3 :: Collector
(from Pigeons. Pre-order here)

[video] Memoryhouse - "Lately (Troisieme)"

Here’s a video for that haunting new song from Memoryhouse, “Lately (Troisieme)”, that I shared a few weeks back. Beautiful on many levels.

MP3 :: Lately (Troisieme)
(from a forthcoming single on Inflated Records)

[video] The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio" (official video) from The National on Vimeo.

So, after all the waiting and hype (guilty as charged), High Violet is, in a word, overrated. “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, with it’s familiar sonics and unforgettable chorus, is one of two songs I would say have really struck me as rivals to their best work (the other, “Terrible Love”, got an unofficial video last week). Then there’s a few very likable songs that may yet grow into favorites (“Sorrow” and “Runaway”, in particular). But I find I’m skipping over a bunch of the others every time they come up (“Conversation 16”, “Vanderlyle”, “Lemonworld” - bleh), with another batch that I can listen to but am just very ambivalent towards ("Afraid of Everyone", "Anyone's Ghost"). And honestly, I’m surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response High Violet is getting now that we’ve all had some time to digest it. How dare other people love an album when I don’t! I mean, I know certain realms of the internet had amends to make with The National based on their unfair lukewarm reactions to Alligator (clearly their best album) in 2005, but over-praising a good-not-great album such as this isn’t the way to do that. Anyway, I’m enjoying parts of High Violet - especially this song.

MP3 :: Bloodbuzz Ohio
(from High Violet. Info here)

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Though it’s lacking an instant classic like “Cause=Time”, “Almost Crimes”, or “Superconnected”, Broken Social Scene’s Forgiveness Rock Record has been growing on me with each spin over the past two or three weeks. I might go on record as saying it’s the Canadian collective’s most listenable record, start to finish, ever. That’s saying something considering You Forgot It In People’s status as one of indie-rock’s quintessential albums of the past ten years (a statement I understand, but don‘t necessarily agree with. To me it’s 5 or 6 great songs surrounded by a bunch I usually skip). On Forgiveness Rock Record the band seems to have figured out a way to play to their immense strengths (selfless collaboration, slapdash performances, awe-inspiring expanse) while keeping the focus on presenting a strong set of songs straight through. Credit producer John McIntyre (Tortoise/The Sea And Cake) for tightening up the sound while keeping all the key elements firmly in place. Everything’s good here, but right now I’m especially loving the sly “Ungrateful Little Father”, “All To All”, the horn-fueled “Art House Director”, and the gently pulsing “Sentimental X’s”. I guess I probably could do without a two-minute ode to masturbation, but being that that one comes 58 minutes into the album, I’m willing to not quibble. Listen up:

Stream :: Forgiveness Rock Record
(Buy here)

[video] Soft Black - "The Earth Is Black"

Soft Black - The Earth Is Black from Drew Norton on Vimeo.

PHW favorites Soft Black are gearing up for the release of a new EP called We Scatter Light. But before we get any official announcement on that one, here’s the first in a series of videos by director Drew Norton that have been filmed for all of the songs from last year’s Top 10-worthy full-length The Earth Is Black. This one finds the band playing the bristling title track in the woods, complete with a bass player-gone-crazy and one shlock horror scene, with some very fake looking fake blood, that might be NSFW.

MP3 :: I Am An Animal
MP3 :: The Lions
(from The Earth Is Black. Info here)

[mp3] Marah - "Valley Farm Song"

Another day, another new song cherry-picked from Stereogum. Earlier today they premiered a new song from Marah, whose upcoming album Life Is A Problem will be self-released through the band’s brand new label, Valley Farm Songs, on June 22. It will be the first Marah album to not feature co-founder, sibling rival, and new father Serge Bielanko, brother of lead singer Dave. No official word yet as to who will be playing guitar with the band on their upcoming world tour, but my sources tell me it will be a long time PHW favorite. More to come on that one soon, hopefully.

The first single, “Valley Farm Songs”, finds the newly re-organized band at its most bizarre. There is a really intriguing mess of sounds going on here - bagpipes, banjos, pianos, is that beat boxing? - all kind of doing there own thing. Somehow though the song coalesces into something really good, and glides to an ending that sort of recalls “Limb” from Let’s Cut The Crap And Hook Up Later On Tonight, their classic debut. This is an exciting sneak peak. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album - you might recall that this band, and Kids In Philly in particular, is very highly regarded around these parts.

MP3 :: Valley Farm Song (via Stereogum)
(from Life Is A Problem. Info here)

Of course, this is a band that you should see live. They always put on a killer show. Dates here.

[mp3] Wolf Parade - "Ghost Pressure" & "What Did My Lover Say?"

New music from Wolf Parade, courtesy of Sub Pop. Expo 86 comes out June 29.

MP3 :: Ghost Pressure
MP3 :: What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)
(from Expo 86. Info here)

[mp3] The Acorn - "No Ghost"

Paper Bag Records will release No Ghost, a new album from The Acorn, on June 1. The title track is more adventurous than what I’ve heard from them in the past and sounds promising.

MP3 :: No Ghost (via Stereogum)
(from No Ghost. Pre-order here)

[video] The National - "Terrible Love"

Here’s a beautifully shot live video of “Terrible Love” - the leadoff track (and my current favorite) from The National’s upcoming High Violet. It was filmed at an abandoned castle on the Hudson River by Pitchfork TV, with stunning cinematography by Ray Concepcion.

MP3 :: Bloodbuzz Ohio
MP3 :: Afraid of Everyone
(from High Violet. Info here)

[video] The Black Keys - "Next Girl"

The Black Keys, and their ridiculous lip-synching puppet Frank, have gotten me very excited for their upcoming album, Brothers (Nonesuch, 5/18). Or maybe I’m excited for other reasons. “Tighten Up”, the first video with Frank that appeared a few weeks back, was very funny, but this one for “Next Girl” is better and even seems to be working with a budget - maybe one that was paid for by the hour. You go Frank.

Introducing: Great Elk

I’ve waited a long time to be able to share the music of my friend Paul Basile with you. I’ve known Paul since I was about 18 or 19 - working together for a few summers during our formative years, sneaking off to record stores while we were on the clock, trading Son Volt, Steve Earle and Wilco CDs, and exploring all sorts of new music together. After going off to college in Upstate New York he started playing guitar and writing songs with friends, and the creative ball kept rolling through post-collegiate moves to Montana and Alaska. It was in the cold, barren landscapes of rural Alaska that Paul’s muse really started to take flight. He wrote a batch of folk songs that made him a sort of local celebrity in Bethel while he worked as a sled dog handler. He recorded some of these songs and brought a very DIY album called Skeletons home with him to New York in 2006. It didn’t take long for Paul to make a name for himself on the local scene, playing open mic’s and small club shows around Brooklyn and Manhattan.

It was around this time he met Patrick Hay, my favorite living guitarist :~), and formed the short lived but much loved Here Lies Pa. Their first show was actually one of my very first (painfully awkward) PHW posts way back in early 2007. Though the band never made it into the studio for anything significant before disbanding, their time together provided the blueprint for what would come next. In the ensuing years Basile and Hay played shows either as a duo or with a variety of rhythm sections, waiting for the right combination to solidify a new line-up and officially start a new band. They have, and Great Elk is the name. This isn't simply a plea to listen to my friend's music - it's an introduction to music that truly matters to me, as well as a band that you could very well be hearing about for years to come.

Great Elk's upcoming, self-titled EP is a stellar first look at the band. Debuting on Magnet last week, “Vibrations” highlights Basile’s concise yet evocative lyrical style, raspy vocals, and Hay’s expert touch on guitar (making a slide weep like a pedal steel). “We waited for today”, indeed. The other 4 songs are equally strong - “Bow Echo” and “Jester & June” are impassioned, anthemic indie-folk, “Further North” is a slow-building torch song written in Alaska that recalls Stranger's Almanac-era Ryan Adams, and the traditional “Down In The Willow Garden” gets dusted off and amped up, kicking things off in memorable style. Great Elk will be self-released and comes out June 22. They’ll be throwing a record release party June 24 at NY’s Mercury Lounge. Don’t miss out on this one.

MP3 :: Vibrations
(from Great Elk. Info here)