Thursday, December 31, 2009
I been so busy of late but with any luck I will be increasing (dramatically) my postings.
Instead of acknowledging the artists here, I will acknowledge the labels who I think have done consistently good things this year:
These guys live around the corner from me. They are special, there is a loose relation to the Good Boys hip hop posse, who totally rock.
I don't know much about these guys, their releases are kind of dark, but I like their ethos. The Ambassador From Everywhere nights are really something to watch out for.
The first of two Canadian labels, kind of affiliated, love Mt Eerie, and LOVE the David Shrigley artwork usage.
Blocks Recording Club
I have been listening to a release that showcases their artists practically non-stop and the Picastro album is finally out!
For consistency and reliability in awesome indie pop.
The most personally important of the bunch, because Christopher's heart and dedication are so strong, that anything Series Two does is worthwhile.
I hope everyone's New Year was great.
*Here is a listing of best albums introduced to the ears of “Series Two Chris” during the year 2009. The list prominently contains albums released during 2009 year but may also include a few from year(s) prior. Among the few hundred albums heard during 2009 by me, here below I present my list of albums I enjoyed the most.
BEST FULL LENGTHS:
1. Cleemann “45 Minutes Mostly About Caring”
2. Poland “Interstellar Policeman”
3. Minakumari “Rasa”
4. Homestories “Click-Click-Clack-Clack”
5. Mr. Wright “Diary of a Fool”
6. Nebraska Pop Festival mixtape
7. Kings of Convenience “Declaration of Dependence”
8. Malkovic “Little Estrada”
9. Spencer McGillicutty “Games”
10. Zanin’s Magic Crayon “S/T”
11. My Autumn Sons “Perfect”
12. Series Two Compilation: Volume 15 through Volume 23 (9 CD set)
13. Hearts By Darts “S/T”
14. Series Two Christmas Compilation
15. Chuck Morgan “Patchworks”
16. James & The Express “Are Your Tomatoes Safe?”
17. Mammoth Life “Kaleidoscopic Art Pop”
18. Brave Radar “A Building”
19. Pennyhawk “The Mystery Mines”
20. Artisokka “Sea Bed”
21. Argyle Wishlist “My Thoughts Exactly”
22. Tinycakes “The First Two Years”
23. Christopher Ostrom “Audio Loading…Please Wait…”
24. Mother Z’s “S/T”
25. Landerim “Shallow Draw”
Honorable Mentions (FULL LENGTHS):
Pretty Abandoned Quintet “Searchlights”
2 out of 3 rule “Really Elementary”
Andras Toth (his three long play CDRs)
We & Lisa “Dreams Within A Dream”
1. Thunder Power “Love Yourself”
2. Mr. & Mrs. Muffins “S/T”
3. Transmittens (3 inch)
4. Jodi & the Morning Glory Parade “Every Morning We Must Say Good Morning”
5. Mari Shimamura “S/T”
6. Old Time Radio “Find the Difference”
7. Double Dan “At Dawn”
8. Cowboy Indian Bear “S/T”
9. Weak Ends “We”
10. Man From Another Place “The Loneliest Cowboy”
11. Astruval “S/T”
12. Robert Church and the Holy Community “Wizard On Fire”
13. Opaluc “Including Five Tracks”
14. Pedestrian Pets “Over”
15. French Woods “The TV Outlaws”
MOST ADMIRED PERSONALITIES (no particular order):
Cesar (Zanin’s Magic Crayon/UK)
Dereck (Cleemann/Son Ambulance/NEBRASKA)
Gunnar, Jeanne and Michael (Cleemann/DENMARK)
Hiroho (Hiroho’s Music Friends/JAPAN)
Edward (Workerbee Records/IOWA)
Bibo (Cuddle Pop/INDONESIA)
Matt (Electric Needle Room/Mav Radio/NEBRASKA)
Will (Thunder Power/City Weekly/NEBRASKA)
Jef (Barley Street/NEBRASKA)
Nate (Ames Progressive/IOWA)
Yves (Hands & Arms/FRANCE)
Jesse (Argyle Wishlist/Postcard Music/WISCONSIN)
Joseph (EIF blog + very good man/AUSTRALIA)
Javi (Shake Finger Pop/SPAIN)
Matt + Chris (Charlie Big Time/UK)
Sergio (A Pleasant Dream/SPAIN)
Eike (Das Klienicum/GERMANY)
Thomas (Pigeon Lane/GERMANY)
Shane, Mark B & R, “Brian”, Noah, Nanda, Janet, Karen; (Poland/WASHINGTON)
Anders (My Autumn Sons/SWEDEN)
Kevin (Mr. Wright/UK)
Andy & Becca (Mother Z’s/ILLINOIS)
Casey (MAV RADIO/NEBRASKA)
Honorable mentions: Special thanks to all that make “Series Two” what it is today. And to all that ever supported the bands and all the projects I’ve worked so hard for.
1. The Mary Onettes - "Islands"
2. Afternoon Naps - "Parade"
3. Cheap Red - "Cheap Red"
4. Burning Hearts - "Aboa Sleeping"
5. The Besties - “Home Free”
6. A Sunny Day In Glasgow - "Ashes Grammar"
7. Camera Obscura - "My Maudlin Career"
8. Dream Date - "Patience"
9. The Drums - "The Drums EP"
10. Summer Cats - "Songs For Tuesdays"
11. The Lovely Eggs - "If You Were Fruit"
12. Bricolage - "Bricolage"
13. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart"
14. Let's Wrestle - "In The Court of The Wrestling Let's"
15. Hiawata! - "These Boys and This Band is All I Know"
16. Brilliant Colors - "Introducing"
17. Cats On Fire – “Our Temperance Movement”
18. The Raveonettes - "In and Out of Control"
19. The Legends - "Over and Over"
20. Very Truly Yours – “Reminders” EP
Worth a listen:
21. Suburban Kids With Biblical Names – #4 EP
22. Bad Lieutenant - "Never Cry Another Tear"
23. Dum Dum Girls - "Dum Dum Girls"
24. The Pastels & Tenniscoats - "Two Sunsets"
25. God Help The Girl - "God Help The Girl"
Monday, December 21, 2009
To find out more about Haunted Stereo please visit: http://www.myspace.com/hauntedstereomusic or
Monday, November 23, 2009
MR. & MRS. MUFFINS is a true story of two muffins united in love in Jakarta. Now the Muffins reside in Seattle. Together they share lovely melodies, whistles, and of course lots of love in their songs. My most favorite muffin creation has to be “The Ladybird’s Theme” which is a song that sports some of the most lovely vocals I have ever heard. Looking forward to more fully baked creations coming from them soon I hope.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/mrandmrsmuffins
Panda Face hails from Lincoln Nebraska. When he is not is his natural habitat being held by a beautiful woman wearing gloves, he is making some interesting bedroom recordings. They sound very funny yet cool at the same time. Panda Face recalls lots of memories of songs from artists such as Erlend Oye, Niklas Tafra, and Flannel.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/pandafacebboy
Starshy (formerly Bubblegum Summer) hails from Glasgow Scotland. He’s been making music for a while now and this EP is his comeback effort. Under his new moniker, Gary makes some very interesting experimental sounding pop music and appears that he has reinvented himself in some positive ways. The songs are all still very listenable and still maintain the catchy element to an extent.
In his free time, Gary now operates Bubblegum Records and is planning some EP releases and compilations forthcoming. Also he now organizes occasional “pop nights” in Glasgow.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/bubblegumsummer
Monday, November 16, 2009
The Feelds are a family band, fittingly made up of John and Katy Feelds. John does the music. Katy does the lyrics and vocals. I love the whole husband and wife band dynamic and the Feelds really make it work. John's jangly instrumentation is perfectly complemented by Katy's sometimes off-key vocals. The first two songs on this three-song ep — “Save me” and “ You got me crying” — are straight up jangle. The third song — “You don't know” — cranks it up a bit and really closes out this short promo disc on a high note. This is really fun ’90s-inspired indiepop.
The Feelds on MySpace
The insert I received with the self-titled Rannoch ep says it has three songs on it. Really there are four songs on the disc … the fourth being some very faint but pretty guitar plucking to close out the cd. Rannoch plays that darker, moodier Swedish pop — possibly along the lines of The Radio Department. The four-piece creates lush, dreamy pop that doesn't sound like it was recorded in someone's bedroom, which it was, according to the band's MySpace page.
Rannoch on MySpace
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Homestories hail from Switzerland. They are one of the few bands from that land that have been given reviews by the Even In The Future blog. That land surprises me in regards to how much great music is actually coming out of Switzerland right now, so take note. Homestories remind me a lot of early songs from The Chap. Their playfulness, the fun and the upbeat to their songs also reminds me a lot of bands like Springfactory and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names.
The Swedish influence to their songs takes the cake at least for me anyways. I really love bands like SKWBN but this full length release by the Homestories puts the sole SKWBN full length to shame.
Check them out here: www.myspace.com/thehomestories
Spencer McGillicutty hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play some very lovely pop songs that have well thought out arrangements. The band features a total of four primary members although the album features an army of 18 additional contributors. The vocals in the songs are very pleasant and in many of them they include the voices from most or all primary members of the band. The vocal styles are quite professional as they remind me a lot of Beach Boys, Elliott Smith, Ben Folds Five and Belle + Sebastian. With such a display, Spencer McGillicutty could be perceived as overachievers or perfectionists.
Instruments included on the album include: acoustic guitar, harmonica, electric guitar, piano, bass, keyboard, trumpet, trombone, tambourine, Hammond organ, glockenspiel, vibraphone, accordion, timpani, tubular bells, wind chimes, triangle, congas, cowbell, sleigh bells, xylophone, slide guitar, vibraslap, shakers, castanets, claves, wood block, drums, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, viola, French horn, flute, oboe, clarinet;
Check them out here: www.myspace.com/spencermcgillicutty
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Before any notes escaped from this excellent EP, I was struck by how gorgeous the cover art and liner work was. Pictures drawn from old family photo albums show beaming kids ankle deep in the water and young mothers driving their first cars, all assembled in a perfectly faded layout by cAPS LOCK HELSINKI.
The 7 songs that make up the insides of this great packaging are just as wonderful as the shell; ethereal, reverbed dream pop that fits the band's name perfectly. These melancholic songs shimmer with an atmosphere and depth which is more than evident in the opening track "Desert Island Song", and in the straight ahead beat and chiming chords of "Tarantula/Holding on". The spacious instrumental, "Resurrection of Sonic Blue", serves as a fitting closer with its huge, echoing guitars and distant, falsetto backing vocals. The Finnish band has received much praise from the International community on this release and one listen from this strong debut illustrates why.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
There is an awesome new British female folk artist called Line And A Dot, her debut EP is coming out on a small London based label called "Things To Make and Do".
She has toured NY 3 times, showing dedication indeed. If you had talent to the likes of Line And A Dot you would have dedication too. It's like, girl is going places. Her songs have a shambly jangly huggable sweetness to them, music for people who like nice things.
Her label says she is similar to "Elliot Smith, Alela Diane and Neutral Milk Hotel." but I think that it's a little more like this: strings sometimes as delicate as Final Fantasy's plucking, energy on par with Hallelujah the Hills, vocals to the likes of (Devendra Banhart collaborator) Jana Hunter and a feel that is like holding hands with your favourite gal (or guy).
Check her at http://www.myspace.com/abovethevaultedsky, and her video at http://vimeo.com/5822610.
"The Championship Cup", a 2008 release by The Yellow Melodies, is an EP in the truest sense of the term; an extended-play, 6 track record on thick 10" vinyl. This format is where "mini" albums really work best. Instead of acting as a placeholder for a full length album, it exists as it's own cohesive unit. This Spanish band has assembled a complete musical statement here, and it is a lovely one.
Opening with a great staccato guitar and piano progression (and laden with wonderful string work) the title track, "The Championship Cup", bounds through at a succinct two minutes and twelve seconds. Things quickly transition into "They'll Come True", which takes a page straight from the Troggs songbook until veering into louder territory with super fuzzy guitars and big drum build-ups. This loud-soft dynamic works well here and helps build a sense of urgency within what would otherwise be a fairly straight forward folk-pop song. Finishing out the A side is "The Sunshine of Your Dreams", also featuring prominent strings, which starts which a great march-feel on the snare and builds up through a stand-out chorus and ultra fuzzy synth solo.
The B side of this record is just as enjoyable with the opening track, "Something That you Do", plowing through a classic pop chord progression which is further enhanced by soaring back vocals and a buzzing organ track. "I Want to be with You" has a slight 90's indie rock feel, even with hints of Lou Barlow in the vocals, and is defined by it's swelling lead viola line . The final track, "Mr. Sand and Mrs. Sea, is more epic (both in length and feel) with a long, slow, shoegaze-esque build and another great, overdriven organ melody. This 2008 release can found at the band's website and through their label, Clifford records.
the yellow melodies
Monday, October 12, 2009
Year Of The Dog hail from the small but still wonderful state of Vermont. The thing I really enjoy about this band is that they have crafted an entire album of fresh and unique sounds which is commonly pleasant for those tired of hearing too much derivatives. It is clear that they are musicians that draw great influence from the obscure or artists considered by many as being mysterious. They take that influence as more of a great inspiration by creating obscure sounds of their own and not necessarily borrowing them directly from those influences.
If you are a fan of bands like Radiohead, Nick Drake or the works of Feist and feel like you have played the heck out of their albums, this album by the Year Of The Dog is another you can play the heck out of.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/yearofthedogmusic
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Brave Radar's band members hail from Montreal Canada and Sydney Australia. The band describes their genre of music as being a mixture between Surf, Soul + Pop. I would liken their style to a very nice retro pop/ experimental pop type of sound. The vocal styling evokes Thurston Moore, Brian Wilson and at times a more independent sounding Thomas Mars. To me, Brave Radar is possibly one of the better under the radar bands of today.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/braveradar
Friday, October 9, 2009
Plêiade (no idea how to pronounce this one) are from Curitiba, Paraná
(Brazil). It’s hard to find any information written in English about them. But here’s a starter:
They’re glowing indie-pop of south America that we all love. What’s more is they mix in elements of folk and alternative rock, with an electronic tweak. Forming in 2006, the 5 piece includes members assigned to the following two instruments: ghost guitar and elegant guitar.
As an Australian reading that I wonder if it is an error in translation, but I sincerely hope it isn’t. Those are awesome adjectives to relate to guitars. The term “ghost” as an adjective means manifesting, but not actually existing. Which really makes sense of their guitar sounds.
FF is a recommendable album to any fan of South American indie pop, but to draw a couple of well known comparisons, they are similar to the Crayon Fields and to some of Dreamworld records’ mid 80s releases.
"Lamna Mig Ifred" is the wonderfully bouncy "A" side to Blanda's 2008, self-titled 7" release. The track is rich with tight harmonies, punchy bass work and scrappy lead guitar lines (taken straight from the bridge pickup) which are all layered on top of sunny, country-esque chord progressions that resonate with a slight tinge of Americana. An upfront "Byrds" influence is laced amongst the pop overtones, with vocals slightly reminiscent of Nick Drake and bits of Camera Obscura apparent in the intro and harmonies.
Based out of Stockholm and Kalmar, Sweden, the band seems to evoke California more than Scandinavia on this side. West Coast harmonies and late 60's melodies dominate on this track and give it a well worn feel that makes the first listen seem like an old favorite.
The "B" side, "Aningar Om Dig", takes a more minor turn with the addition of strings and slide work drenched in reverb that almost perfectly mimics the swells of pedal steel. Here again, the group manages to combine those subtle, slight country elements with a strong sense of Swedish pop and arrangement to produce a superbly strong track. Several instrumental sections dominate this song with a fitting guitar and string crescendo in the finishing fade. Combined with great packaging this is a excellent record that demands multiple listens.
Information on the band can be found here: www.myspace.com/blandaband
and here: fashion police records
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Pennyhawk hails from Ames, Iowa. The singer-songwriter approach from member Kate Kennedy is very confessional. The songs tell a story that is semi personal at worst and not too vague. The 9 song album features not only vocals, percussion and guitars but also flute, accordion, clarinet, and trumpet.
The vocals, lyrics and variety to the songs surely grab the listeners attention throughout this album on a very consistent basis. Qualities that very few songwriters possess today. Their live show can be described as fun, playful and spontaneous. Also would like to note that "The Mystery Mines" release is the first that I've seen with a hand stitched cover.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/katekennedymusic
Thunder Power hails from Omaha, Nebraska. They craft meaningful and catchy songs. Among their influences is Belle & Sebastian and thunder. Their song "Take A Hike" is quite possibly one of the catchiest independent pop songs in recent memory. A band like Thunder Power may not be considered by many (other than myself) as better than Belle & Sebastian, but I must note I enjoy listening to Thunder Power over any album by B + S or Camera Obscura any day of the week.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/thunderpowermusic
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Iowa Super Soccer are like a warm cup of tea on a cold winter’s afternoon. They are soothing, beautiful and well matched to your mood. Their 2008 LP “Lullabies To Keep Your Eyes Closed” is one to listen to in an intimate environment.
The bands’ website says “Iowa Super Soccer was concerting with artist like Mark Kozelek (USA)” I’m going to go ahead and assume that means they opened for him, which would make sense: a good unsigned act opening up for a more established one. The comparison is also slightly relevant in terms of the “feel” of their sound, if that makes any sense.
They started as a band in July 2004, 2006 saw them release 2 demo EP's ('Iowa Super Soccer' and ‘Teenage dreams so hard to beat’). This LP is their debut LP and is out on GUSSTAFF RECORDS/LETTERBOX.
On certain tracks there is a major contrast between the female and male singers. Really soft and luscious vocals against the slightly obscure Polish male voice creates an interesting play, there are some awesome background harmonies too, listen to "Cold" it's great.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The vocals on the self-titled ep by Londoner Ben Shoben are charmingly buried under crisp guitars and distant drums. They peek out at just the right times during these 3 pop songs. “Don't You Go Changing Your Mind” is a nice dreamy opener. “Five Long Miles” throws in a twist about halfway through the song with some more aggressive guitaring … it's a nice change. “Right Place, Wrong Time” is a bit more upbeat and probably fits the “britpop” description better than the other songs. This is a nice offering … I'm ready to hear more.
The Upstairs! - “Hockey, Please”
The Upstairs alternate between cute pop songs and utter rock-outs. Normally, I'd say pick one or the other, but this really seems to work on “Hockey, Please.” Maybe it's the lo-fi production. Maybe it's the singer's voice that makes the cute songs not quite as cute as they could be. Either way, it's all pretty seamless.
“Hockey, Please” opens with the sing-along “Hockey League Of Her Own.” It's a toe-tapper for sure. After a very quick 2 and a half minutes, the song disintegrates into reverb and feedback, which opens the surfy, rockin' ballad “I'd Surf Pine Trees.” It builds, it falls and before you know it, you're back in full-on cute mode with “I Love Wednesdays.” It keeps going like this … alternating, until you get to what might be the gem on this album, “She, She, She, She.” “She” bounces along with stacatto drums and upbeat vocals.
Bottom line with this record: Go to their MySpace, send them the $6 and get a copy of “Hockey, Please.”
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Iris Waves is from Oslo, Norway. The music project consists of Ida Nicoline & grand guests. This CD came to me with very lovely drawings that consisted of a grown cuddly looking bear sitting on a log having tea with his/her little dog friend. The songs are very peaceful, lovely and playful all in one. The voice is very distinct sounding and could be compared to some of the finest female vocalists in our own music collections.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/nicolines
This artist has a very well produced grouping of 5 songs, though the information surrounding this release is a tad bit over stated. The songs take on their own life at times while most times they come across as a very strong derivative of bands like Postal Service. Each song of Kites With Lights nearly matches the emotional output of songs by artists such as Junior Boys.
The beats for this album are very dreamy sounding with some of the beats worthy of being replayed until you get rather sick of them and then require playing them again. This smallish grouping of songs is a sure start to something that could be very special. I highly appreciate receiving a danceable album such as this.
All that jangle … all that head-bobbing goodness you've been hearing so much about … it's all provided by Secrets In The Salt. Handclaps, catchy rhythms, harmonies, whistle solos and jingling tambourines round out the offering on “Krill Through Baleen.”
The band mentions The Shins and The Kinks, among others, as influences. I'd agree.
The problem with “Krill Through Baleen” is it's too short. Just as it starts to really pick up and draw you in it ends after only six songs. The gem on the short album (and sounding most like The Shins) is the first proper song, “Hello Sam.” Keyboards open before tambourine and sweet vocals kick in. By the time the pace picks up a bit your head is already bobbing … and it'll keep bobbing until the album ends.
So Noel left Oasis … and Blur hasn't really done anything as a band in recent memory. So what. Who cares? Just listen to Some Beans instead. Some Beans should be able to get you that brit pop fix you need. With some song sounding like Oasis' early offerings and some sounding Blur's more experimental songs, Some Beans have their bases covered.
“All Too Real” opens the CD with a great bass line before the smooth vocals kick in. A great looped beat carries us deeper into the album. “Dark Days” offers a good comparison to Oasis. From song structure to vocals, Liam and Noel would be proud. “All About You” has an almost ’70s R&B sound to it. It really works though and adds some depth to the album. On a few songs I'd swear I was listening to Damon Albarn. “Fear and Loathing” ends well with the low-key “Eight.”
Though Some Beans obviously borrows heavily from Oasis and Blur, it doesn't really matter. Honestly, I'd rather listen to Some Beans.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The 2009 edition of the Nebraska Pop Festival (A benefit for local UNO College Radio named "Mav Radio), I personally consider a success in the sense that new friends were made, it was fun for all, & we had 24 great bands that took part in playing during the festivals' 4 days. Each member from each band that I personally met seemed to be genuine and passionate about playing Nebraska Pop Festival & supporting UNO's Mav Radio. Also enjoyed meeting and interacting with the supporters in attendance. Of the special guests that traveled from outside of Nebraska many of them did so out of the kindness of their hearts and came on vacation and others had the success of building a tour around their appearance at the Nebraska Pop Festival. While the traveling bands were in Omaha they enjoyed the many beautiful attractions in which Omaha had to offer including the world renowned Henry Doorly Zoo, The Art Gallery(s), The Old Market, Live Music, the Parks & Trails, Omaha Royals baseball game(s); among other things. And also many of them were able to enjoy the unique tastes of food from a variety of restaurants in the Omaha area.
If any of the fans/bands have photos or videos of Nebraska Pop Festival in which you would personally like to share instead of hoarding them, we would appreciate that you send them to email@example.com or let us know about them on myspace.
I would like to say that proudly, we announce that WE ARE COMING BACK AGAIN FOR A 2ND NEBRASKA POP FESTIVAL IN 2010. Stay tuned.
THANKS TO THE BANDS:
Official list of the bands that performed NEBRASKA POP FEST 2009 is: Zanin's Magic Crayon (UK/Italy/Brazil), Argyle Wishlist (Milwaukee), The Sleepover (Lincoln, NE), Honey & Darling (Omaha), The Tinycakes (Chicago), Pennyhawk (Ames), Spiders For Love (Omaha), Transmittens (Lawrence KS), Mr & Mrs Muffins (Seattle/Jakarta Indonesia), Poland (Seattle), Strega (NYC), Talking Mountain (Omaha), Electric Needle Room (Omaha), Hanwell (Des Moines), Labrador (Germany/Denmark), Cleemann (Denmark), Dereck Higgins (Omaha), Mammoth Life (Lawrence KS), Thunder Power (Omaha), The Love Technicians (Omaha), Andy Butler & band (Lincoln, NE), Cowboy Indian Bear (Lawrence KS), At Land (Omaha), The Mother Z's (Chicago), Darren Keen (Lincoln, NE);
WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT:
UNO's Mav Radio & personnel, the fans, Pizza Shoppe in Benson for providing discounted meals to the bands, The City Weekly, The Reader, OWH, Tim McMahan, Slam Omaha, Joseph Walsh (Australia) for designing flier/logo/CD cover, Chris @ Indiepages, Dereck Higgins, Nui Noraset, Hype Machine alliance blogs, the wonderful community of Benson/Omaha & those from abroad, equipment sharing of local bands, the local bands/musicians/fans that hosted traveling bands for safe place to stay during the festival and for meals provided, We'd like to thank the sound guy's Jeff @ Barley Street & also Jeremy @ The Waiting Room. We would like to also thank Jeff for sharing a night of the festival at Barley Street and would like to thank Marc & Jim for supporting UNO MAV RADIO & for sharing (3) nights of the festival @ The Waiting Room. A very special thanks to Hiroho of Japan for the MANY handmade commemorative pop festival compilation- distributed for free to fans @ Nebraska Pop Festival & in Old Market. Thanks to those in the local music community that helped spread the word. Special thanks to Brando for putting up fliers in Omaha and also would like to thank the local bands for this also. Would like to thank Matt Beat for the fliers/participation/contacting the blogs/helping bands with directions ;) & for his foot work in Omaha with the promoters;.We'd like to thank Matt from Omaha for video graphing during all 4 days of the pop festival. Also a general thanks to all others that helped make this possible. A thanks goes out to Christopher (myself) for organizing the bands that played the Nebraska Pop Festival and responding to the over 1000 messages sent by e-mail & MySpace on the behalf and for the good of this special Nebraska Pop Festival. Very sad the the festival had to come to an end following (4) great, fun & memory filled days. As I have said proudly above and I will say it again, WE ARE COMING BACK AGAIN FOR A 2ND NEBRASKA POP FESTIVAL IN 2010.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I had the pleasure of seeing Craig perform last weekend at a house party hosted by a friend of mine named Tanya (check her music blog). I had seen Craig in person the previous weekend at a Bowls club concert that Bermuda's drummer organised, but never before that weekend. Note that the above is the only picture of himself on Craig's myspace - he is a very smart looking young man in real life.
He used to be in a band called Eleventh He Reaches London, who I have never seen, though judging by the amount I hear of them, they are also worth your time. Anyway, done with introductions; Craig's music is made by a guitar and approximately 3 other machines that he puts on tables (but not a laptop - or at least, I don't remember a laptop). The music is easily classified under the umbrella term of 'experimental'.
I deem it more as beautiful noise, that isn't noisy. His sound is clear and well thought out, in a surgical manner, as the music he is making matters. He knows the importance of his execution in providing an experience, he is very talented and affiliated with one of my top 3 western Australian labels (Meupe). His music is of that special breed which helps you focus but grabs you from inside, holding you until it concludes.
Also, go to his myspace and absorb the 5 tracks he has up. Here is the place to buy one of his albums.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Moon Candy, an EP from Sugarspun, a quartet from San Francisco, is every bit as sweet and enticing as the band's candy coated name. Harmonies abound, hazy vocals that sweep through thick, layered guitars. Pop writing is in full force, with influences melded – as if they were cooked in an oven – into a shiny new whole. One can hear bands from Teenage Fanclub to the Jesus and Mary Chain, the only link a good hook and a love of song craft. It’s that perfect blend between feedback and more comfortable sounds.
The EP starts out with chimes and lyrics about a rocket being built for the singer, before winding up into a soft punch of catchiness. This whimsy continues throughout the charming EP and the songs evidence a similar sense of build. Boys and girls trade vocals for a sense of at times, jubilant bounciness and at times a real sadness, such as in the song “Absence.” They remind me a little of Papas Fritas, vocals traded and despite the sadness, a sense of fun in music is never lost.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Also known as “Mina” she comes from Japan. She makes very soft songs that make you want to “chill” and she cites her inspiration as being from Indian classical music & Bossa Nova among other things. The backing music gives me the same feeling as lets say Kings Of Convenience’s “Quiet is the new loud” album although there is a little more instrumental variety I am hearing from Mina. The voices she makes are just as memorable as those that appear on albums such as “Frengers” by Mew.
There is nothing “scary” about Mina although some of her songs have an eerie vibe to them as would songs from classic Nick Drake albums or Elliott Smith’s “Figure 8”. Her music is described as being “calm, sweet, & relaxing” and I’d say that is valid. A perfect album to sleep on, rest on, and to play to others especially children and female friends ;)
Artists such as Minakumari bring up an argument rarely touched that is Japan is an ever growing pop scene with some very strong sounding and very appealing artists that ears from around the world need to hear and experience for them selves. Go check her music out now.
Check em out here: http://minakumari.net/
Weak Ends is a band that comes from Orlando, Florida. They make songs that combine a mixture of Indie Pop and Shoegaze. I honestly hear more pop than the latter. They are said to be influenced by Radio Dept and Camera Obscura. The female vocals remind me quite a bit of Camera Obscura & Autolux.
In addition to the references already made the songs remind me a bit of very early music from Shout Out Louds. The band offers their E.P. for the price of 3 US Dollars. Get yours today. Also I got a nice T-Shirt with mine. If you would like one of those I’m sure that costs a little more ; )
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/weakendz
This is a side project from Rickard (Robert Church) based in Sweden. It is very rad and fundamentally different in style by far compared to Robert Church. I am glad to be hearing this CD. It reminds me quite a bit of the feeling I get when I am hearing Jazz music. The songs are very interesting as the experimental aspect doesn’t take hold and ruin them.
It’s very possible that some of these song(s) were improvisations and there is nothing wrong if that holds to be true. A very similar artist I must note would be Jaga Jazzist. Most of the tunes from this EP would work well for many bands as backing music. As I have referred to before sometimes people wished certain songs didn’t have vocals on them because the music sounded so much better and the vocals maybe sound a little crap. Here is maybe one of the best examples of great music minus the vocals around today.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/frenchwoods
They are based in Bologna, Italy. The female singer has one of the most beautiful higher voices I have heard in quite a long time. She gives others that have this same characteristic a run for their money. Very few high voices in general grab my attention in this way for good. Seriously yet strangely think as if Elliott Smith or Conor Oberst were female (yeah) this is what it would sound like maybe. It is ever so evident that there was a lot of time and hard work put into this album and the efforts show the listener well.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/ofeliadorme
Friday, August 14, 2009
They are a 3 member band from Japan. They play some of the most beautiful Indie Pop sounds from that land. There is a lot of love, heart, charm and other things to these songs I surely have not had the pleasure of hearing as often as I would like. According to the site for the label (MiMi Records- Portugal) which released this fine album they say that the music is a mix between Japanese and Portuguese, the latter I would have never guessed largely since I am not exposed to music and or language rooted from the land of Portugal.
Also if you look into more information of the label which released these recordings you’ll surely learn and be surprised at it’s humble beginnings.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/opaluc
Move over Oxford, UK this band “The Fox and the Bramble” is moving in. They come with very cute and lovely songs along with a nice handmade CD. The songs will surely meet and greet anyone that will appreciate them for what they are. This is an all age friendly album (whatever that means). The album is full of creative sound ideas not prominent in ordinary pop bands/songs and the song craft aspect will surely be appreciated by the listener.
Check em out here: http://www.myspace.com/thefoxandthebramble
This is a fantastic side project of Saturday Looks Good To Me released by Little Pocket Records of Ohio. With a name like that you’d maybe think they are from California but this band is actually based in Michigan/New York. The songs have a good “old” sound to them. The song “Kara Keely” has a great feeling behind it with the clapping and playful lyrics and tone from the vocals. “Buried In Snow” has a sunshine pop feel to it despite the title not necessarily meaning that. “Mild Honey” is full of perfect songs for both Spring and Summer.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/santamonicaswimdiveclub
The Mystery Books are Riley and Matty. They are from Gainesville, Florida. The recordings have a very nice DIY pop sound with a very emotional feel to each of the songs. The organ included in on these songs makes them stand out. The voice and emotional tones from the songs remind me quite a lot of Antony Harding in his project “Ant”. And when I think a little more it comes to mind that Riley’s lyrical styling and voice remind me quite a bit of ‘early” Conor Oberst and Teitur recordings.
Riley and his friend Brian started a label in Gainesville named DEL-TONES RECORDINGS which put out this release and other fine handmade releases.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/themysterybooks
Thursday, August 13, 2009
El Mars, aka Raimonds Gusarevs, is one fantastic song writer. This album of his, Bare Love To Bare Soul, is a great example of superb song creation. At times he reminds me of Beirut. At other times I am reminded of one of the most beloved movies of our time, Amelie. I’m even sometimes reminded of Flight of the Conchords! (There are only a few times when that actually applies.) His guitar work mixes with his vocals quite well. He is also a wonderful lyricist. I am told a story as I listen to Bare Love To Bare Soul. This album is calm and collected, well structured, and quite enjoyable; I’ve listened to it around seven times in just two days. There are a lot of good songs on this album and altogether, it’s very sound and secure as a whole, not to mention that this album is a progressing story from start to finish. My favorite tracks on this album are tracks 4 (“Painting Horses As They Dance Their Nights Away”), 5 (“Carving Images”), 7 (“Stars And The Sand”), and 11 (“Bare Love”) stand out to me the most, even though all of the songs on Bare Love To Bare Soul are solid songs. “Painting Horses As They Dance Their Nights Away” is a really nice and calm track. It makes me feel like I am sitting on a porch, looking out at a wonderful sunset, sitting with those I feel strongest about, just in utter happiness. “Carving Images” resonates the sounds of Beirut the most, but it is still a unique track on it’s on. Raimonds does a good job creating a heartwarming song where nothing in it makes me feel negativity. In “Stars And The Sand” he creates a solemn sounding track with a dreary voice and low-lying guitar. It still remains as one of the stronger tracks on the album however. His guitar layering in this song is fantastic. “Bare Love” is by far my favorite song on Bare Love To Bare Soul. Raimonds Gusarevs created a song that I am probably going to love for the rest of my love. This song is so incredibly good. His guitar work mixes so well with the vocal layering he does in “Bare Love” and my heart just explodes with happiness from this musical masterpiece. When you come across a song like this, you don’t forget it. Instead, you want to share it with those that are closest to you, sharing the joy you have just felt from such a striking transmission of sound. This final track is definitely the most complete track on the album. It’s always good to end on a strong note and our friend, Raimonds Gusarevs, aka El Mars, does just that. This is definitely something everyone should experience. Even just one listen to this album will get you hooked. You’ll be glad you listened. I’m actually going to go tell my girlfriend and all my friends about it now!
UPDATE: Okay, so the more and more I listen to this album, the more and more I love it. I was showing my friends this stuff and realized how much I really enjoy it. Raimonds Gusarevs, you are brilliant. This music is wondrous. Keep it up!! (P.S. Everyone should check this out.)
I find it very fitting that these Norwegians have titled their CD “Reefy Seadragon.” The title just emanates Norse Myth. This CD is far from being about Norse myth however. In addition, you don’t find too much alternative-pop music to be about such topics; those topics are left to the creators of death, black, and progressive metal. This is not metal. This is pop. When I popped this CD in, I was automatically reminded of those old shows on TV, back in the day, where people would dress up in huge, untimely costumes where they would be parading all over the screen in the show. I can see the little children running around getting extremely overzealous about the arrival of such costumed creatures. Anyways, Dog Age are a good band. I don’t have music like this on my iPod. I am hard to please with music such as this; it’s cheery, happy, old-school, and poppy. I feel as if Dog Age would have been a band in the 60’s and 70’s. Not my era of tastes, but these guys do a great job. Tracks 4 (God Lives Under The River), 8 (When I Was A Young Boy), 9 (Mystical George), and 11 (Tea, And A Wife) are my favorite tracks on “Reefy Seadragon.” These songs are superb. With each listen, I grow more aware and appreciative of how complete these songs are. There are moments of solitude which grow and grow until there is sound, sound, sound, coming at you. The keyboard work in these songs adds another dimension to these songs and contributes greatly. It’s the little things that make a huge difference, and Dog Age sees that. There are Les Claypool-like guitar riffs and songs that remind me of Of Montreal, with “Tea, And A Wife” producing that sound most reminiscent. Another song worth mention is track 3, “The Puppeteer.” It’s a nice instrumental song to lull you into calmness and coolness, generating an ambient feel. All in all, they have a very solid sound. Throughout most of “Reefy Seadragon”, Dog Age reminds me of a toned down Dungen, who, I believe, are also from Norway. Those Norwegians know what they are doing with music!
Marsh Branch rocks. Her album, The Meat Riot, is fast-paced, driven, and fueled by sweet-ass distorted guitars. The Meat Riot was completely written, arranged, and played by the ever-so-lovely Marsh Branch. I can just see myself watching her jamming out in a house show somewhere, just getting the crowd going. I really find the strong point of The Meat Riot is the distorted electric guitar work she does in this. The electricity flowing from the songs is really fun. I mean, what else could be as fun as rambunctious rock music? She sings with anger and emotion. She sings with a point to prove. She sings to sing, sing, sing. The past couple of CD’s I have reviewed where solo attempts at music. To hear such fueled work makes me happy that music even exists. Marsh Branch must have felt a sense of completion when finishing this album. Finishing an album is one of the better feelings in the world. When you can look at something you’ve just created, by yourself, wow, what’s better? I know Marsh Branch felt this. You can tell she was full of determination in creating this album; it definitely shows. Great job Marsh Branch, great job.
WALK are based in LA, California. The sounds they do make are very interesting. Among their many proudly listed influences one name sticks out for me. That name being Elliott Smith. The vocals by this band most closely resemble Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart) and strangely the backing music sounds like something Elliott Smith would have done in his albums from Figure 8 to prior.
In Elliott Smith songs it was common that he would do all the instruments in most of his songs while for this band WALK they have four members putting together all of the sounds. The whole recording sounds as if the band members share a lot of common interest in influence and playing abilities. Which is rare for a band these days. This ep sounds relatively good aside from the recording being relatively lo-fi and also the vocals being a little hard to hear at times.
check em out here: www.myspace.com/thewalkspace
This band hails from Aline, France. They have an appealing retro sound. The guitars funnily sound a lot like The Strokes “Is This It” album and some of the jangly guitars remind me of some early independent pop bands as well. The French lyrics are fairly catchy also. With just 3 songs on this CD, it is very likely you will hear more from this young band soon.
Check em out here: www.myspace.com/youngmichelin
All that I know and remember initially of this band is their member Thomas and that they are based in Switzerland and also through research found out that they have released three different songs on three different compilations by the now defunct CDR label named Asaurus. This full length CD has been very well loved by me for many months. It got pushed to back burner and now it’s on the front burner. These simple bedroom recordings are very heartfelt and meaningful to the listener to say the least. This CD is highly recommended for the fans of early Radio Dept or Asaurus Recs, if you can find a way to get your hands on it.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Released in 2008, Fierce Pale Hen is the 4th album that Muarena Helena have made. This makes a lot of sense to me, on my first listen I was under the impression that this was their debut - this intrigued me, as to how a band could be this well formed and constructed so early on. Anyway, this is not something to hold them back for. They’ve been on a journey to arrive here.
Starting in Canada and relocating to London, this is apparent in their sound, outside of the U.S. Canadians are well liked people, and MH are no exception to the rule. They make very thought-through pop with an emphasis on the instrumental side of things. Whether you call the experimental rock, I don’t know, but I saw that on the internet somewhere. “We'll Think of Yetis” was the standout track to me, it’s the newer side of post-rock, that doesn’t like to be labelled.
And so it shouldn’t be, Muarena Helena (I’m not sure if that ‘a’ is meant to be there - it seems to disappear and reappear), are very much worth your time, I recommend them to people who like The Tumbled Sea or Theo Angell.
There are one or two songs available for free download from their website. But you'd be better off to get the whole album!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Trio Pigalle are three dudes from Sweden. Max Olsson, Gustav Broman and Sebastian Hegedüs. Their album “artwork” is probably one of the best I have seen, ever. Though not for technical ability, just for awesomeness. You can see it here.
In terms of their musical prowess, they are talented young men. There are elements of psychedelia apparent, that are accompanied by an extremely chilled out vibe. The music has a very relaxed feel to it, reminiscent of a more stripped back and coastal version of Cinematic Orchestra’s early material.
The drums are very delicate, and melodious guitar strums alongside a friendly bass line. I recommend this music to people walking down busy streets. This will put everything in perspective and make you feel as though you’re strolling down a sunny + carefree street, to a friends house.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Matchu sings so softly and sweetly on this 2 song release. The disc is accompanied by some hand made drawings that serve as the artwork. These songs could best be described as "chill" and would fit well with a good weather day or even to share with younger children. Five minutes is definitely not enough time. I wish to hear more.