Vampire Weekend

October 25, 2007

Vampire Weekend are a band that sound as if Paul Simon had started writing songs for the Walkmen, and David Byrne had signed them to Luaka Bop. Self-described as “preppy African music” (not exactly sure what that means, but see the video clip below), Vampire Weekend play catchy ivy league pop infused with a healthy dose of World Music. If Wes Anderson played in a band, for some reason one might guess that it would be this one.

Vampire Weekend (along with every other band currently in existence) recently played during the CMJ Music Marathon prior to leaving for a European tour. As one of the current up-and-coming next-big buzz acts, considerable attention has been suddenly focused on Vampire Weekend (their pedigrees, cirriculum vitae and formidable grooming habits, in particular). Although the band isn’t scheduled to release their debut record until January 2008, you can get a preview of all the goodness there is to come as a 2-song single released on XL Records this week called, “Mansard Roof/Ladies of Cambridge.”

Predictably, all is already lost for these fine, educated young men. A theme has already emerged: “Well, their earlier stuff is better…” Well, for fuck’s sake. This isn’t Voxtrox in shorthand. I mean, can the statement even be made given the band has about six songs officially out there crawling the world wide web? (This single is 33.3% of their released material.)

I’d encourage all the haters to give the single a second listen. “Mansard Roof” is a short, bubbly tune that makes reference to an architectural style and incorporates the crossword favorite, “eaves” into it’s lyrics. “Ladies of Cambridge” is the stronger of the two songs, which starts a little ska and for some reason vaguely recalls Billy Joel’s, “Only the Good Die Young.” It’s alternating keyboards and strings will make you smile and sad, just as if you were watching (appropriately) Love Story.

While admittedly neither song is as immediately satisfying as “Oxford Comma,” it’s really not as bad as all that. I’m for one still looking forward to the record in ’08. So guys, keep the shirts tucked and pressed.

Here’s an interview courtesy of Philebrity.

Listen: “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” or visit the fine folks at stereogum.com for “Oxford Comma.”

In addition, here’s the Vampire Weekend Daytrotter Session.

http://www.vampireweekend.com/

Johnny Foreigner

October 21, 2007

Please flashback to 1995, when Oasis and Blur were battling for the title of undisputed champions of popular British music, putting forth (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and The Great Escape, respectively. While the bands claimed to share little more than common accents and stakes on the Beatles’ legacy, each was forced to fight against the overwhelming shadow of the Pacific Northwest musical movement that had dominated the early nineties. One could easily imagine all parties involved referring to much of the popular American music of the day as “rubbish.”

So fast forward to 1997: Blur succumbs to increasing American indie influences and releases their most popular album stateside to date, while Oasis essentially disappears from the global pop music radar. Since, Albarn has increasingly laid claim to multiple musical genres and remained relevant through various groups, including the hugely popular Gorillaz. The brothers Gallagher have recently re-emerged, here, and we’ll see for how long they remain stable.

Ten years after the Blur transformation, Johnny Foreigner emerge from across the pond, providing a revival of sorts of a musical time capsule that was previously much maligned by their fellow countrymen. Johnny Foreigner sounds like your favorite bands back from high school and college (if you were there in the late 90’s). People describe them as Cap’n Jazz meets the Dismemberment Plan, channeled through Pretty Girls Make Graves, Sleater-Kinney, and Rainer Maria, while playing Bloc Party covers to a bunch of people who have never heard of The Most Secret Method. It’s a fairly accurate description. (Check out the list of influences on their Myspace profile!)

The band was featured on Channel 4’s Road to V, which seems to be some form of reality television band competition that is likely the source material for lamer American versions, and has popped up on music sites and blogs across the world, including none other than Pitchfork. It remains to be seen if Johnny Foreigner herald a new wave of cool Brit indie bands, or merely represent a lucky momentary break in the space-time continuum.

Recently the band signed to Best Before Records, and are slated to release a debut “mini-album” called Arcs Across the City in late November. Some of their new songs are streaming on their Myspace page, and they sound quite rad. Quite rad, indeed.

Road to V – interview and “Sofacore”

Listen: Our Bipolar Friends, Yes! You Talk Too Fast (almost finished). Download their demo for free here.

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyforeigner

Radiohead

October 18, 2007

Fine. Radiohead are brilliant. We’ve suspected this ever since “Creep,” hit the Buzz Bin on MTV back in the 90’s, and our suspicions were confirmed remarkably by multiple albums including (but not limited to) The Bends and OK Computer.

And now the brilliance is back. Last week Radiohead self-released their new album, In Rainbows, through the internet for as little or as much money as listeners want to pay. The concept is akin to the suggested donations on no-fee museum days, though in this case they haven’t even bothered to suggest an amount. If you would like to pay nothing, then you can download the record for free. (NB: There is a transaction fee of 45 pence if you do choose to pay anything over nothing.)

The concept seems simple, progressive, democratic. It’s even been called revolutionary. You (the consumer) get to purchase a product you wish to buy for a price you deem fair. Radiohead (the producers) get to keep the majority of the money, since they have no record label, and the production and distribution costs are simplified to recording and web maintenance. (This is likely a gross over simplification, but you get the idea.)

This model works well for a band like Radiohead because, a) You already know who Radiohead are, and b) You already know that Radiohead are releasing a new album. (Or at least you do now.) For even casual Radiohead listeners, the concept is appealing.

But it gets better. For the downloading file-sharing rogue listeners who weren’t going to pay anything anyway, the record is still free. For the conscience-conscious listeners, international banking transactions are taking place, albeit on the consumers’ terms. I’m guessing that even if purchasers pay fifty percent of iTunes retail, meaning five bucks, it’s far more than Radiohead would have seen previously. (So it’s the sound of a one-sided haggle, done in the key of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.)

And for the die-hard Radioheadders, come just in time for Christmas, there is an $80 deluxe set available, that includes a vinyl pressing, a hardcover book, and maybe just maybe Thom Yorke’s new fragrance, “Creep.” (NB: The price is exchange rate dependent.)

As for the music: It’s Radiohead, and In Rainbows falls in line with the high quality of their previous recordings. The majority of these songs are favorites the band frequently plays live, and some are quite old. If you like Radiohead, then no doubt you already own this record, for whatever you decided to pay. If you don’t like Radiohead, then you should download it anyway, because hey, for you, it’s free.

Listen: “Bodysnatchers” from In Rainbows

You can download In Rainbows at http://www.inrainbows.com/

Jimmy Eat World

October 16, 2007

Jimmy Eat World return today with Chase This Light, their Butch Vig-produced follow-up to 2004’s Futures.

Best known for their breakthrough record, Bleed American (the title was later dropped after 9-11) and its single, “The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World were always a band who danced at the crossroads of cool and not: their polished pop-rock always fell into the indie-emo bin, but felt slightly out of place on split seven inches. Sure they were produced by a guy from Drive Like Jehu, but their second album, Clarity, was hardly hardcore or punk.

So enter Jimmy Eat World again, now in a post-Fall Out Boy world, with a new album in tow produced by none other than the guy that had Nirvana crawling up Michael Jackson’s ass on Billboard. It was always a mystery why Capitol Records never got fully behind Clarity (which remains the band’s finest recorded moment), and how Jimmy Eat World didn’t become immensely popular in 1999. (Perhaps emo wouldn’t have died such a horribly grotesque death.)

It was less of a mystery, however, why Jimmy Eat World’s fifteen minutes would follow the release of a lesser, more radio friendly album, ready to usher in the new age of auto-tuned eyeliner emo. Chase This Light essentially raises high the white flag on this genre. From a band that once split vinyl with Mineral and Christie Front Drive, comes the shimmering radio perfection of the first four songs on this record.

“Big Casino” is catchy. You will hear it on the popular teen podcasts. It will soundtrack beautiful Hills montages. The cord is cut. Hooray for Jimmy Eat World. Three years after the painful monosyllabic poo of Futures, comes an unabashedly enthusiastic radio-rock pop song that, after abandoning all prior notions of indie cred, leaves you singing, “I’m a New Jersey success story.”

Admit it. It’s a better comeback than Britney’s.

“Rockstar” from Static Prevails (1996)

Listen: “Big Casino” from Chase This Light , available from Interscope Records. Hosted by Can You See the Sunset From the Southside?

http://www.jimmyeatworld.com/

Invisible Songs vol. 10

October 15, 2007


Stereo Total

Another collection of fine songs.
Writing to return soon.
In the meantime…

1. Nada Surf – “See These Bones

2. Stereo Total – “Ich Bin Der Stricherjunge

3. Tunng – “Bricks

4. Farewell – “Stay Pretty

5. Jens Lekman – “The Opposite of Hallelujah

6. His Name Is Alive – “Go To Hell Mountain

7. A Place To Bury Strangers – “To Fix The Gash In Your Head

8. The Radishes – “Good Machine

9. Le Loup – “We Are Gods! We are Wolves!

10. Skeletons and The Kings of All Cities – “What They Said

Invisible Songs vol. 9

October 8, 2007


Band of Horses

Sorry for sleeping…

1. The Cave Singers – “Seeds Of Night

2. Sunset Rubdown – “Winged/Wicked Things

3. Caribou – “Melody Day

4. Band of Horses – “Is There A Ghost

5. Division Day – “Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode cover)

6. Sunday Drivers -“The Sweetest Disguise

7. Ani DiFranco – “Both Hands (new version)

8. Robert Pollard – “Rud Fins

9. Robert Pollard – “The Killers

10. Celebration – “Hands Off My Gold (Simian Mobile Disco Remix)