Black Kids

September 27, 2007

Winner of the crown called “indie (or rather, unsigned) band of the moment” would likely be Jacksonville’s Black Kids.

The last month has been quite kind to the Florida-based five piece, after what I imagine must have been an inspired performance at the Popfest in Athens, Georgia. Following the electronic rumblings bounced from MacBook to MacBook, larger media outlets (Vice, NME, and finally the godhead Pitchfork) took notice and made it official: let the next big thing discussions commence.

Poor, poor Black Kids. Along with the immediate benefits of having your band’s name thrown around the internet like naked pictures of Paris Hilton, comes the inevitable nay-saying poo poo parade. So let’s cut the shit: can the Black Kids live up to the hype?

Well, for starters, as has been pointed out on the internet previously, they can’t even live up to their name. But to be disappointed that there are white people in the band is retarded, and I might point out that they technically aren’t kids either. (I mean, were you sad when you found out Panda Bear wasn’t a fucking panda bear?)

So what about the songs? There are only a few, as there is no formal release, though I can’t imagine the drought will last long. “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” is pure 80’s Cure Brit-synth-pop (with a little Love Is All thrown in for good measure), and the rest of the songs follow suit, littered with occasional retro hooks, doo-wop style girl group back-ups, and even a Sam Cooke reference.

Not since the Arcade Fire has such an eclectic grab bag of influences worked so well together for one band. And you know what a disappointing career those guys are having. Not bad for a demo. Expect good things.

You can download the songs from their MySpace page below.
Oh yeah, it’s Blasian, bitch.

Listen: “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You

The Weakerthans

September 25, 2007

The Weakerthans play a bit of nice guy pop rock filtered through an MFA in creative writing and backed by a punk rock resume; they are the would-be Canadian counterpart to Death Cab For Cutie (shouldered with the irony of playing a more straight-ahead version rock and roll met with less commercial success).

John Samson and company offer up their fourth full length record to the world today, full of catchy soft-side guitar work and sensitive boy lyrics. It’s a record consistent with their previous records, and finds the band in territory similar to their most recent release (in a world four years removed), Reconstruction Site.

The Weakerthans are the band you wouldn’t be ashamed of bringing home and introducing to mom, able to make pleasant and literate table conversation, and not in the least intimidated by the salad fork. So if salads are out of the question for you, steer clear of this record. Otherwise, enjoy the endive.

Sure Propagandhi (Samson’s former affiliate) was an anarchist punk band, but the Weakerthans play well with others. They are only as offensively leftist as your average college freshman, writing well-punctuated letters to the editor of the New York Times, guilty by association with the College Democrats (or in this case, punk label Epitaph Record’s more mature subsidiary, Anti).

So standby world and get ready for the Weakerthans. Spoiler warning: “Night Windows” is bound to end up on some prime time drama or movie montage.

“Our Retired Explorer”

Listen: “Sun In An Empty Room“, “Night Windows” from Reunion Tour, available from Anti Records.

Invisible Songs vol. 8

September 23, 2007


Summer’s finally over. Bring on the seasonal affective disorder.

1. Black Kids – “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You

2. Johnny Foreigner – “Our Bi-Polar Friends

3. Bella – “Give It A Night

4. Bowerbirds – “In Our Talons

5. Vampire Weekend – “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

6. Brad Laner – “June Gloom

7. Iron & Wine – “Innocent Bones

8. The Weakerthans – “Night Windows

9. Motion City Soundtrack – “This Is For Real

10. Animal Collective – “Peacebone” (hosted by The Pelican’s Perch)

Shudder to Think

September 18, 2007

The faithful fans of Craig Wedren were treated to a reunion of sorts at the Mercury Lounge yesterday, when Craig and former band mate Nathan Larsen once again took the stage playing Shudder to Think songs.

If this was an impromptu collaboration and a coincidental function of circumstance, we’ll likely never know, but it was the only acceptable result of the combination of the band A Camp, which features the Cardigan’s Nina Persson (wife) and former Shudder to Think guitarist Nathan Larsen (husband), opening for a Craig Wedren solo gig.

One might hope the set is indicative of a reunion-ized future for these two men, as the off-kilter hyper-originality of Shudder to Think’s Pony Express Record has been missing from rock and roll for over a decade. (Feel old yet?) It seems, however, there are no plans for further reunification.

Until that wall comes tumbling down, Wedren’s second solo record, Wand, is readying for release.

Shudder To Think – “Hit Liquor” from The Pony Express Record (Keep clicking…)

Listen: “Shake Your Halo Down” from Get Your Goat and “Lies About the Sky” from Funeral At the Movies, both available from Dischord Records.

The A-Sides

September 11, 2007

To all the haters out there who believe that Philadelphia (my home town) gives a limited contribution to the art of pop music or culture, let me remind you of two words and one number: Boys 2 Men. And for everyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, please refer to Wikipedia regarding the following excellent bands: Man Man, The Delta 72, Prema, and Ink & Dagger.

But perhaps what Sean and the Philadelphia vampire society lacked in mass-marketing appeal (misappropriated by Microsoft, among other things), can be found in the city of brotherly love’s rising new stars: The A-Sides. Formed at Drexel University (not quite the Oberlin of the East Coast), The A-Sides are preparing for the release of their record, Silver Storms, on Vagrant Records (Dashboard Confessional, The Get Up Kids).

It’s a record of guitar pop goodness (listen to “Cinematic,” for example) that sounds more Brit than Motownphilly or Marah, with a hint of Brian Wilson/Beach Boys retro sheen. The Invisible Prediction: the record goes gold after being featured on Grey’s Anatomy and The OC.

The new album, Silver Storms, will be released on September 18, 2007. The A-Sides are currently on tour with Pinback, and then will be playing some dates with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

Listen: “Cinematic“, “Diamonds“, “We’re The Trees” from Silver Storms, available on Vagrant Records.


September 4, 2007

I’m talking ’bout the man in the middle…

Zach Condon, everyone’s favorite Gypsy boy wunderkind via New Mexico, is again raising high the Beirut flag with his new album, The Flying Cup Club.

Condon, who was a few years shy of the legal drinking age of this country at the time of his celebrated debut as Beirut continues onward with the Balkan musical themes of our immigrant great-grandparents.

Following Beirut’s debut, The Gulag Orkestar, is difficult business. The record was met with early approval by critics and fans alike, who were drawn to the unique sounds of Eastern European music emerging from Brooklyn (ever been to Greenpoint anyone?) orchestrated by a teenager and a Neutral Milk Hotel alum. Comparisons were occasionally made to that legendary band in particular, and while Condon is no Jeff Magnum (yet), he’s certainly got time to grow into the role.

So enter The Flying Cup Club. The record releases on October 9 on Ba Da Bing and 4AD. Below is the debut track, so you can judge for yourself, but things seem to be just fine in Beirut land: Condon is set to prove that he can still channel the Romani muse like this was the Ottoman Empire.

Listen: “A Sunday Smile” from The Flying Cup Club, available on Ba Da Bing! and 4AD.

Beirut will be playing at the Masonic Temple in Fort Greene Brooklyn on September 20, and at the Delacorte Theater on September 26 in NYC.