Infinite Shuffle

September 23, 2012

131 – Team Me

Filed under: Norway, T — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Anyone who pays attention to the indie music scene knows that Scandinavia is a hotbed for up-and-coming acts. It seems like every time you turn around, there’s a heavily hyped band whose members’ names are full of funny-looking letters.

For a region so small in terms of population, it turns out a disproportionate amount of great music. Sweden gets most of attention, and rightfully so, with a slew of talent that includes First Aid Kit, Lykke Li, Shout Out Louds, The Radio Dept., Junip, Fine Arts Showcase and Marching Band — just to name a few.

But just to the west lies another incubator of indie talent — Norway. And the latest Norwegian export that is trying to gain a foothold in America is Team Me, a six-piece from the city of Elverum.

Falling somewhere on the indie spectrum between The Polyphonic Spree and New Pornographers, Team Me churn out electro-tinged pop anthems that beg to be sung along to.

In case you didn’t catch the title, that was “With My Hands Covering Both of My Eyes I Am Too Scared To Have a Look at You Now”, easily the most fun and catchy track on the band’s debut full-length, To the Treetops!, which was released in the United States in March.

The group was thrown together somewhat haphazardly in early January 2010 to perform at a Norwegian music competition. It didn’t win, but it did start receiving some critical praise. Eventually, as the buzz grew, Team Me toured, signed with a label and put out an EP.

By the time To the Treetops! came out in Norway last October, the native bloggers were racing to proclaim the band the best thing to ever come out of their country.

Besides a cameo appearance at SXSW in March, Team Me have pretty much sequestered themselves in Europe. But, as their popularity grows, it’ll be hard for them not to tour worldwide.

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August 7, 2012

My new favorite website: Plixid.com

Filed under: A, B, F, H, T, W — assman41 @ 4:26 am

The last few months, it’s been difficult to find reliable websites to download music for free. The old standbys, such as MegaUpload, MediaFire and FileTube, have either been shut down by the government or simply don’t return any worthwhile results.

Rather than download RAR and ZIP files, I’d been forced go the torrent route and hope that Vuze would have the albums I was looking for. But that’s generally hit or miss.

But a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon my savior — Plixid.com. Not only does this site provide reliable links to albums, it’s also become an invaluable source for discovering new music.

The site adds one album every 15 minutes. They cover numerous genres and include a lot of new stuff — but there’s also plenty of old albums.

Instead of sifting through everything, I stick to the Indie/Post-Rock/Post-Punk feed and have already found numerous gems. The highlight so far was The Darlingtons, who I featured in last week’s post. But there’s been enough good stuff to keep me busy.

Here are the standouts from the past few weeks:

Air Traffic Controller

Immediately at the start of “Hurry Hurry”, the opening track the album, Nordo, I figured Air Traffic Controller had to be a side project for one of the dudes from They Might Be Giants. You cannot listen to that song and think of TMBG’s “Birdhouse In Your Soul”.

But as the album plays on, the similarities die down and are replaced with some rather catchy tunes. But in the way that one fan’s “catchy” is another fan’s “annoying.”

With some quirky songs about “Field of Dreams” and “Star Wars”, this group keeps things light while still churning out some solid tunes.

Heavenly Beat

When he decided to try his hand at the whole solo thing, John Pena decided not to stray too far from his bread and butter.

Pena has taken the electro-dream pop he helped create as the bassist for Beach Fossils and jazzed it up, infusing it with a new level of complexity.

The songs on the recently released Talent are the kind of dream pop catnip that could lull someone to sleep. But there is also a whole other layer of electro-pop that makes the music more engaging. It’s this dichotomy that makes every track so enjoyable.

Factories

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be humming “It’ll Be Alright” for at least a couple of days after your first hear it via Factories’ debut album, Together.

The second track on the disc, this song is a perfect example of the heights this band can reach when its lyrics live up to the standard set forth by the sonic electro beats that permeate throughout.

The rest of the album is pretty solid, with such notable songs as “Canada”, “Calypso”, “Kamikaze”, “Pressure”, “No One Noticed Me But You” and the title track.

Brainstorm

Here’s one reason you may feel a little apprehensive using Plixid.com. Apparently, Heat Waves, the debut full-length release from Brainstorm, isn’t officially out until Oct. 2. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying it for the past couple of weeks.

Oh well. I’m glad I was able to hear it early. The album is definitely solid, filled with catchy indie rock-pop ditties. But that description does not do these songs justice.

This Portland trio has an intoxicating mix of influences that work so well together — kinda like Vampire Weekend, except the two bands really don’t sound anything alike.

Check out a few of their videos here. 

Westkust

If you prefer your shoegaze with plenty of fuzzy instrumentation, check out Westkust. Their EP, Junk, is so entrancing.

Trespassers William

The indie gods giveth, and the indie gods taketh away.

Shortly after downloading a few tracks by the group, Trespassers William, I’ve come to find out that they are disbanding. The September release of Cast, a collection of B-sides and rarities, will be the final output of the Seattle group.

After three full-length albums and two EPs, the group’s two main members — Anna-Lynne Williams and Matt Brown — have decided to focus on their solo projects.

From what little I’ve heard of the group’s music, I know that it will surely be missed.

April 29, 2012

112 – Tired Pony

Filed under: Northern Ireland, Portland, T — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Have you ever wondered what Snow Patrol would sound like if they had more of a country tinge?

Of course you haven’t. But now you are. (Ha! I’m totally in your head.)

To extinguish that now-burning question, you need look no further than Tired Pony, the pseudo-supergroup formed in 2009 by Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody.

While touring with his main band, the native of Northern Ireland expressed his yearning to record a country album. Since it was not in step with Snow Patrol’s ethos, he enlisted the services of various collaborators — including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Belle & Sebastian drummer Richard Colburn — and set up shop in Portland in January 2010.

Out of the weeklong recording session came 10 tracks that would comprise the album, The Place We Ran From, which was released in the United States in September of that year.

The album starts strong with such solid tracks as “Northwestern Skies”, “Point Me at Lost Islands” and “Dead American Writers”. The best song at the front end of the album is “Get On the Road”, which features backup vocals from Zooey Deschanel.

While Lightbody’s very distinct vocals are plastered throughout, the most notable songs at the end of the disc are those where he is absent. On the penultimate track, “The Good Book”, Editors lead singer Tom Smith lends his vocals. And the album’s best track, “I Am a Landslide”, was both written and sung by Iain Archer, a one-time member of Snow Patrol and a solo artist in his own right.

While a follow-up album would be highly anticipated, this is likely just a one-off project for Lightbody, who has said that he just needed to get this stuff out of his system.

If that’s the case, it’d be interesting to see what else he’s got building up inside of him.

December 3, 2011

92 – Tammar

Filed under: Bloomington Ind., T — assman41 @ 3:32 pm

I’ve always said that my biggest hang-up with heavy metal is the fact that I can’t understand any of the lyrics. If I don’t have something to sing, or hum, along to, then it’s just not gonna do it for me.

That’s why it’s interesting that I immediately fell in love with the latest album from Tammar. Even though I couldn’t understand a word that lead singer Dave Walter was saying, I could not help but bob my head to all seven of the tracks on Visits.

I should note that the band is nowhere near the heavy metal genre. The five-piece, which hails from the college town of Bloomington, Ind. — just a few hours south of me — churns out a hybrid synth/psychedelic/post-punk.

If that description seemed confusing, just listen to a track, and come up with a better label.

More than one online reviewer compared the band’s sound to 1970s krautrock. And NPR offered a more vivid description in its Song of the Day post.

The music is versatile enough that you could probably listen to it in any setting — while doing the dishes, driving to work or making out with your significant other.

Tammar put out a self-titled EP in 2008 and a live album, I Live Here Now, in 2009, but Visits, which came out this past October, is their first studio release. You can find more songs on their MySpace page and can download a few tracks for free at their Bandcamp page.

May 16, 2010

27 – Two Door Cinema Club

Filed under: Northern Ireland, T — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Two Door Cinema Club has been tearing up the blogosphere for the past year. As for my discovering of the group, chalk this one up to the classic “record store recommendation.”

While on a recent trip to Indianapolis (for an amazing Pearl Jam show), my friend and I happened upon Luna Music. When we walked in, we were immediately greeted by a wall of employee suggestions. As I scanned through them, one in particular caught my eye. I was sure I’d heard of Two Door Cinema Club at some point in the past couple of months, but I knew nothing about them. The description — which went something like, “band from Ireland channels the best of ’80s New Wave/synth pop” — was enough to sell me.

I don’t feel totally out of the loop, since the electro-indie duo from Northern Ireland only released their debut full-length album, Tourist History, in the U.S. on April 27.

Perusing the web, the one band that pops up the most in terms of comparison is Phoenix. It’s no wonder that TDCC remixed the French band’s song, “Lasso“, and also toured with them earlier this year.

To me, from the opening track, “Cigarettes in the Theatre”, I couldn’t help but compare them to the less-heralded VHS of Beta. The electro instrumentation that permeated the entire album sounded just like that of the latter band’s 2004 release, Night on Fire.

Other bands that came to mind at various points in the album included The Bravery, The Killers, Editors (briefly) and MGMT.

There isn’t one bad track on the disc, and there are several solid ones, including “Do You Want It All?”, “Something Good Can Work”, “I Can Talk”, “What You Know”, “You’re Not Stubborn” and the aforementioned opener.

My two favorite songs were “This Is the Life” and “Undercover Martyn”, one of the album’s three singles.

The group was supposed to make a tour stop in Chicago recently with Phoenix, but it was postponed because of travel delays caused by the volcanic ash hovering over Europe.

They promised to make up the missed shows, and, with any luck, I’ll be in the audience for one of them.

In the meantime, they’ve got a whole slew of songs on their MySpace page for you to listen to.

March 28, 2010

21 – Those Darlins

Filed under: Murfreesboro, T — assman41 @ 12:01 am

The three girls that comprise Those Darlins are natives of South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia, respectively, but they consider their home base to be Murfreesboro, Tenn., where they originally met at the first-ever Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp. They recorded their debut album in New York City with the same guy who produced Vampire Weekend’s first LP.

So, from that description, you can probably detect something of a contradiction in genres.

But before I delve into the band’s sound, I should probably provide a bit of a personal backstory.

The first time I heard of Those Darlins was in January when I received a Facebook invite from a radio station in Charlottesville, Va., that was sponsoring a show of theirs. Obviously, I would not be attending said show, but considering my love of the station, I locked away the band’s name in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to early March, and I’m preparing for a trip to St. Louis to hang out with friends and watch some college basketball. I didn’t feel like going to games the first night I was in town, so I looked up concerts in the local alt-weekly. One of the editor’s picks was for a Those Darlins show.

So, I figured, why not? I downloaded their debut album and listened to it four times during the drive to The Lou.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I started listening to the self-titled album, but from the opening lines of “Red Light Love”, I was hooked. (Sidenote: I know I’ve heard that song somewhere before, but I have no idea where)

The band can’t really be pegged into one clear genre. It describes itself as country/punk/pop. The initial description I recorded on my cell phone during the drive was: “Those Darlins are like a mix between Dixie Chicks and Vivian Girls. Their music is something of a modern country-honky-tonk hybrid, but it’s infused with an indie-punk ethos.”

Eloquent, I know.

Here are some of the labels I gave their various songs after listening to the album recently for a fifth or sixth time: “garage rock”, “country”, “very country”, “garage/country”, “Appalachia country”, “honky-tonk”, “honky-tonk that comes from an Old West saloon” and “indie-punk country”.

So, I was clearly intrigued my their music, but after seeing them live, I was blown away. Most of that country vibe was replaced with a punk rock/riot grrl edge that I just fell in love with.

As a band, they’ve been getting solid reviews from some of the top tastemakers in music journalism, but they still don’t even have a Wikipedia page.

They do, however, have a MySpace page and official website where you can hear for yourself what they sound like. Their best, most widely accessible song is probably “Red Light Love”, but here is my personal favorite …

Those Darlins – Who’s That Knockin’ At My Window

February 7, 2010

Outroversion threeplay #1

Filed under: England, F, NYC, Outroversion, Sweden, T — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Shortly after beginning this blog, I stumbled upon Outroversion, and it quickly became my go-to music blog — especially for stuff from across the pond.

I have since downloaded many an album and track from the site, most of which I haven’t even listened to yet. But during a recent trip home, I had plenty of time to finally delve into my iPod, and here are three solid acts that I probably never would’ve discovered if it weren’t for Simon’s offerings.

Frank Turner

I wasn’t sure of the best way to describe Turner. But then I saw on his Wikipedia page that his music falls into the “folk/punk” category. While those two genres seem pretty disparate, that’s actually a perfect description of the sound on his third and most recent album, Poetry of the Deed.

The first couple songs, he’s sort of introducing himself before he seems to find his rhythm. From Track 3 on, I was reminded of Dexter Holland’s vocals from The Offspring’s single a few years ago, “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?” It’s fitting since Turner considers The Offspring a huge influence and toured with them throughout Europe in 2009.

His songs have a lot of Irish trad/punk/rock vibes, so it’s no surprise he also recently toured with Flogging Molly.

Here’s one of his least punkish songs …

Frank Turner – Sunday Nights

First Aid Kit

The only comparison that really came to mind while listening to this Swedish duo’s Drunken Trees EP was Joanna Newsom fronting the Fleet Foxes. Coincidentally, one of the singers is named Johanna and they cover a Fleet Foxes song on the disc.

Considering my annoyance with Ms. Newsom, that might sound like something of an insult, but it actually works here. Sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg don’t go off into a bunch of crazy-sound-filled vocal solos. They stick to the music and we’re all the better for it.

They just released their first full-length album, The Big Black & The Blue, in late January.

Here’s the song that first got them noticed by Swedish radio stations …

First Aid Kit – Tangerine

fun.

Of the three bands listed here, fun. is the only one I’ve actually seen other music bloggers mention as well.

The trio from New York City has a solid pedigree and is something of a supergroup. fun. formed when Nate Ruess’s band The Format split up and he joined forces with Andrew Dost (Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) in early 2008.

After listening to the band’s debut album, Aim and Ignite, the only thing I could think of was Mika — for those of you not familiar with him, imagine Freddie Mercury at his most flamboyant.

But upon listening to the disc again, I realized fun. has a pretty full, robust sound, with all three members making notable contributions.

They seem to be at their strongest and most theatrical on this single …

fun. – All the Pretty Girls

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