Invisible Songs vol. 5

June 28, 2007

Bad Religion

Hooray for New York summers!
(This shit is hot.)

1. Spoon – The Underdog

2. Bad Religion – Heroes & Martyrs

3. John Vanderslice – White Dove

4. Shout Out Louds – Tonight I Have To Leave It

5. Midnight Movies – Coral Den

6. Immaculate Machine – Dear Confessor

7. The Clientele – Bookshop Cassanova

8. The Veils – Advice For Young Mothers To Be

9. White Rabbits – Kid On My Shoulders

10. Electric Soft Parade – If That’s the Case, Then I Don’t Know


Tokyo Police Club

June 22, 2007

Tokyo Police Club – Your English is Good

The new 7″ single (or digital) is out on Memphis Industries, July 9. Go and buy a record player (or an iPod).

See previous post.

Under Byen

June 20, 2007

Under Byen (translated: Below the City) is the Danish answer to rock and roll, as interpreted through orchestral arrangements of non-traditional rock and roll instrumentation and Bjork-esque vocals. Imagine the Icelandic pop icon fronting Blonde Redhead without guitars and you’re getting warmer.

They have at one time or another (2003) been called the best band in the world (by none other than Rolling Stone’s David Fricke), but it’s hard to imaging singing along with this particular group of Danes. It might be that most people in the world don’t speak a word of Danish, or that most aren’t particularly fond of this brand of the avant-garde.

But leave it to the critics to pick an obscure band from an obscure country and heap on the praise and accolades without knowing what the fuck is being said. (Please note that I can’t even figure out how to pronounce one of the symbols used in a song title below.)

Still, spend some time with this band and these songs, and you may just be convinced that Denmark is a place worth checking out for ethereal, Bjork-type brood rock. (This I predict may become their chief export, right after Hans Christian Andersen and Lars von Trier, so time to invest in Under Byen futures.)

Under Byen play the Knitting Factory on July 9, with the Album Leaf.

Under Byen – Af Samme Stof Som Stof

Listen: “Hjertebarn” , “Plantage” ; “Af Samme Stof Som Stof” , “Den her sang handler om at få det bedste ud af det

Pela –

It was all smiles at the final show of the Pela, BrakesBrakesBrakes, Electric Soft Parade US tour. The Pela boys are back in the city they affectionately call home, relieved to be across state lines, they say, headed to their familiar Red Hook waterfront. The BBB (or Brakes as they are known in the UK) and ESP will be crossing the Atlantic, finished with the States for now.

BrakesBrakesBrakes sing Clash meets Mission to Burma meets The Replacements, all with an acoustic guitar and the punk rock ethos of occasional 30 second caustically humorous rants (e.g. “Cheney” or “Porcupine or Pineapple?”). Throw in a Johnny Cash cover, some occasional Western twang and you’ve got the idea.

The BBB seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, all winning banter and wit. While the genres collided, the band stayed consistent and convincing. Eamon Hamilton is as energetic and charismatic a singer as they come (sort of like Billy from Pela, come to think of it), and for some reason makes me think the band is from DC. (Maybe it’s the shaved head, the political edge, and the whiff of Gang of Four.) The White brothers (guitar, drums) should get paid overtime for their double roles in the BBB and ESP.

Pela took the stage as the headliners (though BrakesBrakesBrakes headlined on the previous night), into the welcoming arms of an affectionate F Train and the hometown advantage.

It’s been about two months and a US tour since their record release party in the same space, but our enthusiastic claim that these fellows are now the Brooklyn band to watch continues to be broadcast far and wide. (The National who?) Billy et al looked less than road weary, and endorsed the notion that more touring was still to come.

The set included many of the Anytown Graffiti favorites, starting with a breakout version of “Waiting on the Stairs” and “Tenement Teeth.” Missing were the gems from the near perfect All in Time, but hey, Pela still rocked the fuck out, and at the end of a tour can play whatever they want. It was the closing song of the tour, “Clavary,” with all three bands on stage banging various instruments and objects, that was the revelation of the night, leaving them singing la la la into the night.

BrakesBrakesBrakes – Porcupine or Pineapple

Listen: BrakesBrakesBrakes – Hold Me In the River from The Beatifik Visions. Pela – Lost to the Lonesome from Anytown Graffiti. Electric Soft Parade – various tracks stream here.

(Shake your ass. Show me what you got.)

That’s right Street Fighter fans, Hadouken! is a band from the UK that rocks the genre-bending dancehall madness with great trans-Atlantic cross-over potential. We don’t really care if they’re indie or rave or whatever, just so long as they’ve got fireballs firing out of their hands.

Hadouken – That Boy That Girl

Listen: Hadouken! – That Boy That Girl


The obvious choice for indie-rock dance party star, however, is still the multi-cultural First World meets Third World international music sensation, M.I.A. Her greatly anticipated new album, Kala, drops in the US on August 21.

M.I.A. – Boyz

*And just for fun, be sure to check out the West Coast DraculaZombieUSA party mix below, which features their remix of Spank Rock’s “Put Your Pussy on Me” (of course).

Listen: M.I.A. – Boyz (movie), DraculaZombieUSA – Nice Fixtures Party Mix.

2007 marked the 25th Anniversary of Chicago’s Touch and Go Records, an occasion marked by a celebratory concert that included of many of the label’s past favorite greats, reunited for a single passing moment. Unless you were in Chicago though, you missed out. But now you can relive the experience over and over on a series of videos posted by the veteran indie.

Two bands in particular hold favored spots in the invisible heart: Seam and the Monorchid. The two groups were polar opposites of a single universe occupied by six strings, day jobs and a certain notoriety amongst the dark corners of rebel sewing circles.

Seam, the heir apparent band to the Sooyoung Park (genius of the Bitch Magnet fame), played a smart brand of hushed guitar-based college rock disguised as an engineering department. It was surely their Asian-ness that first caught our slanty eyes, but the interest was held by their catchy Pixies in slo-mo songs, and the Liz Phair connection.

The Monorchid from DC practiced in the same Maryland arts center that the invisible friends formerly occupied in a previous life. They sounded like punks in a garage, but with a decade of experience playing live shows, touring and recording in previous bands (like the spectacular Circus Lupus), Chris Thomson et al had carved out a niche as a ranting, growling punk rock poet fronting a band that was the real fucking thing.

Roll the videotape.

Click here for the Seam video page.
Click here for the Monorchid video page.

Listen: Seam – “Little Chang, Big City“; Monorchid – “X Marks the Spot: Something Dull Happened Here

Voxtrot: Voxtrot

June 12, 2007

I was recently told by reliable sources to return my unopened copy of the new Voxtrot record. Rumor had it that Voxtrot was disappointingly bad, and rather than destroy the abstract ideal of Voxtrot with the less than mediocre debut, I should avoid the heartache and get my ten bucks back. Money better spent on Amy Winehouse, for sure.

So Voxtrot stayed unopened on my desk for about two weeks. The disappointment surrounding the record I found wasn’t relegated to my circle of friends: the judge and jury Pitchfork gave the record an underwhelming score of 5.9, and most reviews were equally as lukewarm. Voxtrot clocks in at just over 70 on the Metacritic analysis.

But two weeks is just too long to hold on to a record from a local store. Bu then I figured I couldn’t take it back, and so I opened the disc and put the record on. And to my surprise, I sort of dig it.

As far as I can tell, the first five songs of the record make a pretty damn good EP, which is all we can really expect from this band’s previous batting average. Sure, the entire record is less consistent than prior EP’s, but that’s an expected hazard of releasing twice as many songs. Does the formula get a little old? Sure, but the record’s a quick listen, and to their credit the boys are trying to mix it up with strings and things.

Instead, the greatest problem currently facing Voxtrot is Voxtrot. There is just no getting around the idea that the band is its own greatest adversary, which comes as a surprise for such nice guys playing heart-your-sleeves pop. It’s easy to forget the short and steep trajectory of their rise as Austin locals to the next Belle and Sebastian. And so this record reminds us, these guys are not the Smiths.

The consolation in all of this is that all the misery and heartache surrounding lousy reviews and tepid audience response to the new record is sure to be channeled back into the Voxtrot industry, giving the popular mopesters even greater sad-boy pop power.

Listen: “Kid Gloves” from Voxtrot. Versions of “Kid Gloves” and “Steven” from the Daytrotter sessions are available for free downloading here.