Infinite Shuffle

November 29, 2010

53 – Kopecky Family Band

Filed under: K, Nashville — assman41 @ 3:03 am

Even though I have a big logjam of All Songs Considered podcasts, I will make it a point to listen to every single one of them. Not only because they play songs by so many great bands — many of which I haven’t heard of — but because otherwise, I’d miss true unknown gems such as the Kopecky Family Band.

The gurus over at NPR led off their CMJ recap podcast with a track from this band that they’d discovered during the showcase.

Each song by this seven-piece outfit from Nashville is led vocally by a man (Gabe) and woman (Kelsey Joy) working in perfect harmony. They kinda remind me of The Magic Numbers in that way. But I don’t want you to think that’s necessarily who they sound like — this group has much more of a folk vibe going for it.

With seven members in the band, you get a lot of different instruments, but the two that will catch your ear immediately are the cello and violin.

With all those instruments, along with the dual vocals, all of the songs are very full. Gabe’s vocals remind me a lot of the lead singer from Gomez, while Kelsey Joy’s don’t remind me of anyone in particular — they’re just really solid.

The dudes at NPR said the band is amazing live, and after watching this impromptu clip, I would have to concur.

Since forming in late 2007, the group has released a pair of EPs — Embrace and Disaster. I already consider the latter to be among the best albums of the year.

For more on Kopecky Family Band, check out their MySpace page and the official website.

November 23, 2010

52 – Lower Dens

Filed under: Baltimore, L — assman41 @ 12:17 am

Sometimes when I review a band, I’ll make some comparisons to other bands that are tenuous at best. This review, however, is not one of those instances.

When I first heard Lower Dens, there was no mistaking their similarities to fellow post-punk, electro-drone bands Wild Nothing and The XX.

In fact, after hearing the Lower Dens’ debut full-length release, Twin-Hand Movement, I immediately added them to my “Trance” playlist that includes the two aforementioned bands — as well as Zola Jesus. The soft vocals, slow pace and fuzzy guitars are a perfect accompaniment to an evening on the couch.

While I’d say they probably lean more toward Wild Nothing’s sound, you can hear elements of The XX throughout as well. Here’s a great example of both:

This Baltimore-based four-piece formed in early 2009 when vocalist Jana Hunter — she of many varied solo and group projects — set about finding a full-time band. Their first album hit the streets this past July.

I had seen their name here and there but had not heard any music until their ditty, “Blue & Silver”, was included on a recent NPR All Songs Considered podcast. I knew immediately that I needed to hear more.

Other strong tracks include “Completely Golden”, “I Get Nervous” and “Hospice Gates”

The group is touring in Europe right now, but its heading back to the States in January for a few shows in the Mid-Atlantic. Keep an eye on the band’s official website to see if it’s headed your way.

And if you’re really digging Lower Dens, you can check out the Tiny Desk Concert they did at NPR.

November 14, 2010

51 – Brackett and Co.

Filed under: Austin, B — assman41 @ 12:01 am

The most interesting part of discovering new bands is the weird ways you sometimes come across one.

While researching the Austin-based group, The Orbans, for a recent post, I was scrolling through their MySpace page and noticed some random concert flyer posted in the comments section. Normally, I wouldn’t even give it a second glance, but for some reason I looked it over and noticed in tiny, almost undecipherable print that one of the performing bands included members of Okkervil River.

“Hmm, I like Okkervil River. Maybe I should check these guys out.”

And that is how I discovered Brackett & Co., a quartet from Austin that includes three members of Okkervil River — former drummer Travis Nelsen, studio guitarist Brian Cassidy and keyboardist/horn player Scott Brackett, who plays guitar and sings in his namesake band.

The band formed about a year ago, and, so far, I’ve only heard the five songs that are posted on its MySpace page. But, in terms of sound, it’s clear B & Co. is definitely its own band, with a slower, heavier sound than the band that spawned them.

Occasionally, I can hear vocals that distinctly remind me of Okkervil River, which makes me think two things — either Okkervil vocalist Will Sheff is sitting in with the band, or Scott Brackett has a larger vocal role in the big band than I realized.

Anyways, this is a pretty solid side project, one that is still unsigned and has yet to properly release any music. So, for now, just check them out on MySpace, or go see them in person if you’re ever lucky enough to make it down to Austin.

November 7, 2010

50 – Junip

Filed under: J, Sweden — assman41 @ 9:43 pm

When I first heard that Junip was headed by Jose Gonzalez, I immediately scrunched up my nose in disgust. I’m not sure if I was getting him confused with someone else or if I really haven’t heard as much of his solo stuff as I thought I had, but my general attitude toward the man’s music is one of indifference with a tinge of dislike.

However, after the initial contempt wore off and I actually gave the band a chance, I realized Gonzalez really knows what he’s doing.

While the three men that comprise Junip all hail from Sweden, the sound and mood of their music screams Spain or Latin America — actually, it’s probably more of a whisper rather than a scream.

The group has released a pair of EPs — Black Refuge in late 2005 and Rope & Summit in May of this year — followed by its first full-length album, Fields, in September.

There is nary a bad song in Junip’s catalogue, which includes a few standouts, such as “Always” and “Rope & Summit” from the LP, “Official” from the debut EP and the single “Chickens”.

Junip just came through Chicago this month, but, while the group is definitely solid, it’s not the type that I’d want to see in concert. Junip isn’t necessarily a band I’d turn to to drown out the world. Their lo-fi sound is more suited to be played in the background while you read a magazine or balance your checkbook — do people still do this?

For more on the band, check out its official website and MySpace page.

November 1, 2010

49 – The Orbans

Filed under: Austin, O — assman41 @ 10:42 pm

The only thing you really need to know about The Orbans and their recently released full-length album, When We Were Wild, is that I actually purchased it via iTunes. I’ll repeat that — I didn’t find some site to download it; I actually went ahead and forked over $10 to obtain it.

Now, admittedly, I couldn’t easily find anywhere to download it — as I do with the vast majority of my music collection — but normally I would just wait it out and download it at some point down the road.

But from the few songs I heard on their MySpace page and elsewhere, I knew that the album was a wise investment.

Although it doesn’t seem to be very well-known outside of its native Texas, this five-piece from Fort Worth clearly has the chops to compete with such alt-country gods as Wilco and Ryan Adams.

It’s almost shameful that I never would’ve heard of The Orbans had it not been for their amazingly beautiful track, “Like a Liar”, being promoted on NPR’s Song of the Day a couple of months ago.

There’s no reason that song shouldn’t be getting a ton of airplay right now on stations across the country.

In fact, this 12-track album has several gems that could easily find a home on the airwaves. The very solid opener, “New Dress”, has a kinda Killers/Band of Horses feel to it. You can hear it on their MySpace page or check out this acoustic version.

Other highlights include “Were Her”, “Mother” and the title track.

For the most part, The Orbans’ music would be classified as alt-country, but they clearly aren’t bound by labels. They mix in indie rock and even a little pop throughout the album.

The closing track, “Go”, is one of several slower songs, and it totally reminded me of seeing Son Volt live at a botanical garden a few years ago.

If you dig their sound, which you will, buy the album online and you’ll get a bonus track, “Cover Your Ears”.

Also of note, according to the iTunes review, “under an earlier moniker, Lifters, the band released the also impressive Switchblade Waterpistol in 2007.”

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