April 26, 2007

Among the front-runners in the current class of Brooklyn hopefuls to transform from starving artists to rock and roll phenomena are Red Hook’s Pela. They’ve had the songs (How did “Diphenhydramine” or “Venom” not make the Garden State Soundtrack?), the charismatic good-looks of dashingly handsome next-door types (I never ran into them while living in Red Hook, believe me I looked…), and now a promising debut album.

Their album, Anytown Graffiti, was released on Tuesday with a sold out record release show at the Mercury Lounge in the East Village. The band exploded into their opening number, “Waiting on the Stairs,” and then soared through the rest of their set never looking back. The band continues onward with a US tour for the next month or so and end with a two night stint back at the Mercury Lounge. (Buy your tickets now: when they get back, they may be famous.)

The quality of the record itself stands out amongst a strong season of indie-rock releases, and you really should pick it up… now. (If you thought their EP All in Time was good, you have no idea.) Billy McCarthy is as passionate and emotive as any singer today, armed with raspy melody, lyrical wit and occasional falsetto beauty. Their songs combine the indie-pop/rock sensibility of the Pixies with occasional Edge-styled reverb-laden guitar work and cues taken from some of the excellent post-punk/hardcore bands such as Jawbox, Chamberlain and Compound Red.

Sure, the work here is mature, but hell, the kids are gonna like it too. Pela can’t stay a secret forever, so here they come. Pela’s debut full length album, Anytown Graffiti, is out now on Great Society.

Listen: Lost to the Lonesome from Anytown Graffiti.


Dean & Britta

April 14, 2007

Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips (of Dean & Britta, of course) are many things: a music group, husband and wife, and half of the former favored VU-styled indie pop band, Luna. On their second record, Back Numbers, they are all of these things for sure, but most of all they are the latter.

Back Numbers could easily be the new Luna record you’ve been waiting years for, and though Pitchfork hypothesizes that there may not be many pining for a Luna reunion in the first place, Back Numbers is a good reminder of why Wareham et al were admired by so many.

Here, Wareham and Britta sing sweet love songs softly to each other and kindly allow us to eavesdrop. It’s signature Luna: intimate dreamy indie-pop that’s consistently good, with occasional beauty, and little to complain about.

If you’ve never recovered from the Galaxie 500 break-up or the Luna dissolution, you already own this record. But not to worry, this one’s ’til death do we part.

Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say”

Listen: “Singer Sing” from Back Numbers, available from Zoe Records.

Parts & Labor

April 10, 2007

Are horn arrangements and more attention to melody the tell-tale signs of indie kids growing up and out of tattered Chuck Taylors and thick plastic-framed glasses? Is the graffiti-walled Williamsburg loft being abandoned for Park Slope and children? Have Brooklyn’s Parts and Labor reached punk rock maturity, ripe for a major label harvest?

No fucking way. Sure, the new offering from BJ et al sounds more expansive than the characteristically dense electronic mayhem of their previous records. In a sense it builds logically on last year’s excellent Stay Afraid. Yes, there is more melody. Yes, there are horns. And, no it does not sound like a jackhammer playing Nintendo in your headphones. But this is no bid for arena rock.

The sounds remain distorted and broken; the instrumentation defies naming; the drumming is still fucking insane. BJ and Dan continue to develop as vocalists (remember when there were no vocals?), and the songs have gone from a Jackson Pollock mural of electronic noise to something you might just catch yourself humming.

Parts and Labor are on tour across the US, heading far away from New York in a counter-clockwise direction.

Listen: “Fractured Skies” from the forthcoming Mapmaker, available from Jagjaguwar on May 22, 2007.

And be sure to check out their new label, Cardboard Records at

Jarvis Cocker

April 5, 2007

Brit-pop hero, ex-Pulp frontman, and cultural commentator/stuntman is out to buy his father a retirement home, offering a shiny new album, The Jarvis Cocker Record, or Jarvis, for short. It received a stateside release this week, though it’s been out in the UK for months.

Does it sound like Pulp? Well of course it does, at least a little, after all Cocker was Pulp’s singer. Is it witty and ironic? Sure… a piano ballad called “I Will Kill Again,” a “Crimson and Clover” sample, a breezy pop gem called “From Auschwitz to Ipswich,” and of course the secret track, “(Cunts Are Still) Running the World,” which was reportedly inspired by Live8/the G8 Summit in 2005.

Sadly, the video of Cocker’s Soy Bomb-style protest of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” at the 1996 BRIT Awards has yet to make it to YouTube. Anyone?

Jarvis Cocker – “Running the World” (The faux karaoke video, for your K-Town pleasure.)

Mr. Cocker plays Webster Hall on April 22 and 23.

Listen – “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” from Jarvis, available on Rough Trade. (And the hidden track, once offered free on his MySpace page, “Running the World.”

LCD Soundsystem

April 4, 2007

LCD Soundsystem is playing at my house. (My house!)

The last time we checked in with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, he was DFA indie-dance disco king, championing scenester booty shaking everywhere with, “Daft Punk is Playing at My House.” But since then, if you haven’t noticed, his LCD Soundsystem sophomore album, Sound of Silver, is working the hype machine, being touted as one of the best albums (if not the best) of the year thus far.

It’s all been said, but I guess I’ll reiterate: the album finds Murphy in top form, at times with tried-and-true DFA dance-punk (“North American Scum” for example, with vocal stylings/lyrics at times recalling Jonathan Richman), and then switched up with some massive Bowie/Eno brilliance (“Someone Great” & “All My Friends”).

You will be sad if you miss this record. You can purchase it from the Virgin Megastore on Union Square for $10, just like on iTunes. (FYI: You are unlikely and shouldn’t attempt to find it free off of blogs, etc.)

The LCD Soundsystem just played the Bowery Ballroom, and will be playing Studio B in Brooklyn on May 12, and Webster Hall on May 15. (“New York’s the greatest, if you can get someone to pay the rent.”)

“North American Scum”

Listen: LCD Soundsystem – “Us v Them” (Go Home Productions Remix). And everything streams from the band’s page:

Invisible Songs vol. 2

April 4, 2007


Here’s the current Springtime 2007 run-down:

1. LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum

2. The National – Fake Empire

3. CocoRosie – Rainbow Warriors

4. Patrick Wolf – Magic Position

5. Love of Diagrams – Pace or the Patience. See Despite the Times post here.

6. Wilco – What Light

7. Blonde Redhead – 23

8. The Rakes – The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect

9. Panda Bear – Bros (radio edit)

10. Junior Boys – In the Morning


April 3, 2007

Brooklyn indie-popsters, Palomar, are back with a new record called All Things, Forests. While the catchy female-fronted quartet have lost none of their guitar pop likability, the first song off their new record finds the band at a slightly darker place than a group who used a sample of a squeeky toy on their last record.

The New York record release party is at the Mercury Lounge on April 12.

Palomar – Albacore

Listen: “Our Haunt” from All Things, Forests available on Misra Records.