Architecture in Helsinki

July 30, 2007

The Australian a cappella group turned cool indie band (after hijacking a bus-load of band geeks) returns this summer with hand claps and tubas in tow on their new record, Places Like This, which will be released on August 21, on Polyvinyl Records. It’s been two years since their successful, In Case We Die, which fell somewhere between infectiously annoying and disturbingly supergenius. “It’5!” remains one of those songs I can’t quite turn off despite all of my natural instincts to do so. (Really, the first half of that albums is a pure pop addiction.)

The first glimpses of their latest release, “Heart It Races” and “Hold Music” continue the tradition in full force. While it may be difficult to keep from rolling your eyes and feigning cool, suppressing a smile may be more trouble than it’s worth. (After all, Architecture In Helsinki are well, kind of cool… opening spots for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Death Cab For Cutie among others… a festival of ridiculous names perhaps.)

Embrace your inner Art Nouveau, baby.

Architecture In Helsinki – “Hold Music”

Listen: “Heart It Races” from the Heart It Races EP, available on Polyvinyl Records.


Invisible Songs vol. 6

July 23, 2007

Les Savy Fav

1. Maritime – “For Science Fiction

2. Les Savy Fav – “The Equestrian

3. Spokane – “Thankless Marriage

4. The Long Blondes – “Once and Never Again

5. Antelope – “Mirroring

6. Hot Hot Heat – “Give Up

7. They Shoot Horses Don’t They – “A Place Called LA

8. The New Pornographers – “Myriad Harbour

9. Pelle Carlberg – “Clever Girls Like Clever Boys More That Clever Boys Like Clever Girls

10. Pinback – “Nothing to Nowhere

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

July 22, 2007

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs return as the most powerful band in the universe with their new Is Is EP. I suppose the release is officially slated for a July 24 release, but has been ready for purchase around NYC. (Though not on your $600 iPhone, bitches!*)

The EP features five songs written previously while on tour and played live (and on DVD) frequently. Like their self-titled debut EP, it’s a brief and intense affair that’s priced to move (but with better production and slightly less hype). “Down Boy” is the popular-standout, a mid-tempo rocker ready to be remixed into something like dance-hall phenomenon, but all five songs are quality YYY’s tunes.

There’s nothing done here that is revolutionary with the YYY’s sound. (Remember, these are older songs.) Karen O re-ignites the old howl-stomp-growl like only she can. (If you’re a microphone, you should check out the videos.) Nick Zinner’s gone electric again, and Brian Chase is pounding away keeping everything together. These songs sound as good as anything the band has done in the past, ie. Fever To Tell, “Art Star” and “Our Time.” So don’t write off the YYY’s yet and check it out.

Oh, but the Spiderman 3 Soundtrack can go fuck itself.
YYY’s play Webster Hall on August 7.

Listen: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Down Boy

*Well, that’s not exactly true. Live videos for all five songs shot at the Grasslands Gallery in Brooklyn have been posted on Youtube, and are available for your viewing pleasure. So the rich kids win again. (It was so worth the money, dude.)

“Let’s party like it’s 1995,” a fragment of eavesdropped conversation while in line at the Bowery Ballroom for the Girls Against Boys play Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby show. 1993 would be a little more accurate, but the point is well made.

Clockcleaner played the opening set to a thin but growing audience. Their music fit into the theme of the evening, and has been compared to aggro-noise rockers (and GVSB labelmates) The Jesus Lizard and other post-hardcore Touch and Go artists, with dark aggressive sounding riffage and partially appalling partially humorous lyrics.

A certain amount of respect is due to a flying V and frequent expectoration-high-kick combos. Throw is some rumbling 5-string bass action, growling back-ups and a drummer brutalizing his kit, and you get the picture. But after the singer says something to the effect of, “Show me all of the women. Show me all of the white women,” I’m not sure if the audience was ready to cheer or protest.

Girls Against Boys opened (obviously) with “In Like Flynn,” and the nostalgia was quick to set in. The fourteen year old songs sounded surprisingly fresh, and for a band on some sort of semi-permanent hiatus, they sounded (and looked) about the same as when we last saw them. The band sounded most vibrant on longtime favorites, “Let Me Come Back” and “Bulletproof Cupid,” and though the concept was to play the entire album from start to finish, requests were frequently shouted (hopefully in jest).

While the aging process has been kind to GSVB, it was slightly unnerving to take a look at the crowd. It was the first show in quite a while that I didn’t feel like one of the oldest people in the room, and it’s not like I’m headed to see Justin Timberlake every week. I was surprised everyone could get babysitters, and thought maybe on-site daycare would have been a good idea.

With the release of Play, an indie-rock children’s record available on DeSoto Records that features artists like Channels (ex-Jawbox), and major bands like Fugazi on hiatus for personal reasons (read: domestic family responsibilities), I feel a midlife crisis coming on. Do the indie-rockers break down and buy little red sports cars too? (Or do they just get the band back together?… I thought that if you had an acoustic guitar, it meant you were a protest singer…)

Back at the show: at the completion of Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby, GVSB broke into “Tucked In” and “Cruise Your New Baby Fly Self” from Cruise Yourself as an encore, and momentarily I thought they might play the entire record. “Kill the Sexplayer” proved once and for all GVSB can out sexy-sleaze even Greg Dulli. So, if you missed them, fly to LA and catch GVSB tonight.

(Don’t Look Back wish list : Fugazi plays Repeater. Quicksand plays Slip. Helmet plays Meantime. Jawbox plays For Your Own Special Sweheart. The Nation of Ulysses plays Plays Pretty for Baby. Pavement plays Slanted and Enchanted. R.E.M. plays Murmur.)

Listen: Clockcleaner – “Missing Dick“, Channels – “Always Check For Holes” from Play, Girls Against Boys – “Let Me Come Back” and “Super-Fire

Rilo Kiley

July 16, 2007

Jenny Lewis has put the alt-country sound on pause for the moment, given the new single from Rilo Kiley’s forthcoming album, Under the Blacklight. “Moneymaker” sounds more like Bowie’s “Fame” than Johnny Cash, with its pulsing bassline and video replete with seedy midriffs of LA County. The album is out on August 21.

Rilo Kiley – Moneymaker

Listen: “Science vs. Romance” from Take-Offs and Landings, available on Barsuk Records.

Imperial Teen

July 15, 2007

Imperial Teen is making a comeback record. So for the love of Kurt Cobain, take a trip down memory lane to 1996, and re-visit the indie-pop greatness of Seasick.

Easily the best queer boy-girl rock and roll action this side of the Pixies, Imperial Teen disappeared some time ago after their third album, On. Over the last five years, the Imperial Teens have been preoccupied by other endeavors (i.e. the hair, the tv, the baby and the other band, hey willpower). But fortunately for us, the band returns to reign over a new age with a new record called The Hair, The TV, The Baby and The Band, which will be out on Merge Records on August 21.

The first song from the new record, “Shim Sham,” is available to hear on their myspace page. It’s a fresh return to the catchy palm muted indie-pop guitar riffs that made Imperial Teen so popular in the first place. The new record, which was leaked in mid-June, will be, like, totally awesome.

“You Hoo” from What Is Not To Love (& the Jawbreaker Soundtrack).

Listen: “You’re One” from Seasick. “Shim Sham” from The Hair, The TV, The Baby and The Band, the forthcoming album on Merge Records.


July 10, 2007

The Canadian indie-pop band, Stars, have got the updated version of the Beautiful South nailed to perfection. Their last album, Set Yourself On Fire, was a personal favorite, armed with the 1-2-3 punch of “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” the title track and then “Ageless Beauty.” And now Stars are back, with an album lined up for a late September release.

“The Night Starts Here” is the first track released from the forthcoming, In Our Bedroom After The War. Like all great things Stars, it’s a boy-girl duet between Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan that starts out quietly orchestral and ends up dreamy bass-driven U2-esque rock. Though the moments of great lyrical prowess caught on our favored tracks of the last record are not as obvious (e.g. “All of the time you thought I was sad, I was trying to remember your name.”), we’re certainly looking forward to hearing more of Stars.

Listen: “The Night Starts Here” from the forthcoming album, In Our Bedroom After the War, which will be available from Arts & Crafts on September 25.

Stars – “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”

One of the greatest break-up songs ever.