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Archive for October, 2011
31 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Monday 10-31-11

Happy Halloween officially! Hopefully if you’re reading this you’re old enough to be beyond the level of trick or treating, at least for yourself, so I hope you celebrate the holiday in other ways. That is, outside of the wild parties that took place over the weekend. Watch a horror movie at home. Drink or eat something that’s pumpkin flavored. Put on a scary mask and hide in some bushes, periodically jumping out of them to put some fear into kids that don’t know any better. Or maybe just eat the Halloween candy you were planning to give to all those kids showing up at your door. I myself am most excited for tomorrow, when I can stop by the grocery store and get bags of candy for super cheap. They always overestimate the amount of candy they’re going to sell vs. the amount they actually do sell. Advantage: candy lovers willing to wait. Okay, so let’s get to this Halloween edition of Pick Your Poison. I’ve got a few Halloween-related songs for you today, and a couple that just sound scary from their titles. Batwings Catwings is a solid band name built on scary staples like bats and (black) cats. Black Matter has that same sort of spooky connotation and their song “Pressure” also gets the recommend. If you’ve seen the photo associated with the song by Estasy, it’s a bit freaky, but the song is freaky good too. If you’re Glass Candy, calling your song “Halloween” is basically asking for the holiday association. Also unleashed today specifically because of the date are tracks from Proper Villains and Superchunk (who cover the Misfits). In the Soundcloud section, there are scary moments from Calaca Strides and Hattie Murdoch. WHen speaking of just plain good, non-Halloween songs, be sure to listen to cuts from Elsie (covering Stereophonics), Chicago’s own Fotosputnik, The Jezabels, Julian Wass and Sandman Viper Command.

Baron Von Luxxury – The Last Seduction

Batwings Catwings – Radio

Black Matter – Pressure

Dream Love – Be My Man, Woman

Elsie – Dakota (Stereophonics cover)

Estasy – Wild Wants

The Finger – Die! Die Superhero!

Fotosputnik – Spanish Inquisition Garage Sale

Glass Candy – Halloween

The Jezabels – Try Colour

Jiony – Waiting for the Sun

Julian Wass – Red

Muscle Drum – Compromise

Proper Villains – All Out of Bubblegum

Sandman Viper Command – Rough Love

Superchunk – Where Eagles Dare (Misfits cover)

SOUNDCLOUD

Calaca Strides – Graves

A Certain Ratio – Wild Party

Derek Bishop – Counterfeit

Hattie Murdoch – Black Shadow

Lissi Dancefloor Disaster – Pop Musiiic

31 Oct

Album Review: Justice – Audio, Video, Disco [Ed Banger Records]



When you examine it really carefully, hopefully you come to the understanding that the French electronica duo Justice are really just two guys that know how to market themselves really well. They’ve adopted a style all their own, both musically and visually, that is excessive in most every way. The leather jackets, the sunglasses, the blindingly bright live show (hence the sunglasses), and songs that demand to be played at volumes higher than any doctor would recommend as healthy. The poor mixing doesn’t do much to help them either, but it still doesn’t stop songs like “D.A.N.C.E.” and “DVNO” from becoming indie dance hits and raising their profile to the point where they’re nearly ready to headline a music festival. And to think all that came from just their first record, titled “†” and otherwise pronounced “Cross” when speaking about it. With the other, vastly more popular French electro duo of Daft Punk working on things like film projects or soundtracks to “TRON” sequels with a rare tour date here and there, a certain void has been left these last several years that nobody has really volunteered or attempted to fill. On their way up, Justice certainly aren’t objecting to the positive press they’ve been getting for their music, because even as everything about it feels exploitative and obvious, the band possesses a certain winking charm through it all. Think of them like a really gorgeous person you can’t help but stare at, maybe even lust over, yet after a brief conversation with them you realize they’re dumber than a box of rocks. Not somebody you’d want to spend all your time with or get involved with long term, but if you’re able to shut them up and just stare for awhile, hooking up for a few hours isn’t out of the question. Justice has tended to be the auditory version of that, getting tiresome, obvious and even a little annoying after awhile. When you’re on that dance floor just looking to have fun for a short bit though, their music seems like a great idea. So a few years and a whole lot of touring later, Justice has finally polished off their sophmore record, “AUdio, Video, Disco”. If you were hoping the duo was going to get harder, better, faster or stronger this time, prepare to be sorely disappointed.

Mid-March was when Justice first unleashed the song “Civilization” on the world, primarily as a sign that they were still alive and presumably were preparing a new full album’s worth of material rather than just a one-off single. A portion of it essentially premiered in an Adidas commercial, a sign of exactly what sort of headspace the duo appeared to be in going forward with their careers. While the song still carried many of the laser beam-like synths that made “†” a club favorite, it marked the start of something a little bit different for Justice – closer attention paid to song structure, which ultimately meant more careful development and build-ups to payoffs rather than throwing you into the dance pool from note one. “Civilization” takes a minute of psych-pop swirling before the chorus finally slams into high gear, and even then actual verses calm the dance storm while some smooth piano work closes things out rather gracefully. Across the track’s 3.5 minute duration, the hook only comes around twice. Previous Justice singles pushed the idea that repetition was the key to memorability, which is perhaps why “Civilization” doesn’t particularly stick with you. In fact, barely anything on “Audio, Video, Disco” is pure enough dance pop to strike at the pleasure center of your brain, and that’s a problem when your fans have come to expect exactly that.

There’s some sense of brilliance at the heart of this record though, and it largely stems from how challenging these songs are to enjoy. The title track is a great indicator of exactly how far these guys have come and the perfect display of how they should have composed the entire album. The hook is consistently repeated, but goes through a series of sonic changes that range from heavy dancefloor beat to light and airy and nearly a capella. In essence it is a microcosm of how the full record goes, dancing one minute, held in suspended animation the next, and indulging in progressive fantasies after that. The problem is they make these shifts from track to track instead of within a single song. The primary influence on this record appears to have changed as well, moving away from the club environment just a bit to embrace a much more classic rock feel. Guitars have suddenly become a huge part of Justice’s sound, and inventive beats come second. You can absolutely hear The Cars’ influence on “Newlands” or Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” (with some flute) in “On’n’On” or Roxy Music’s riffage on “Brianvision”. Place some Queen-style march-like beats along with some synths behind these melodies and they become some sort of hybrid that’s not quite dance and not quite rock either. All these genres are blending together anyways these days, right? In essence yes, but such style twists are only effective if you know how to use them right. For the majority of “Audio, Video, Disco”, they do not know how to use them right.

You can’t blame Justice for wanting to expand on their sound and try something new. After all, their sound was somewhat novel on “†”, but if they tried to make the same thing as a sequel it’d sound bland and repetitive. Pop stars and DJ types from Skrillex to Deadmau5 have all adopted a similar style, sharply taking away its more unique aspects. “Audio, Video, Disco” avoids that trap, but winds up ineffective anyways because they fail to Frankenstein these disparate sounds into a genuine juggernaut. What it wants to be and what it is are two different things, and die hard fans of the first record will likely be left out in the cold, wondering what happened to this great electronica duo. For others, this can be considered a stepping stone for Justice. That’s not to say they’ll be trying out full-fledged arena rock next time around, but maybe they’ll use this new record as an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t so they won’t repeat their mistakes next time. Some artists go through growing pains on their way to brilliance, and this just might be theirs. At least the party vibe is still present, even if you can’t always d-a-n-c-e along to the b-e-a-t of every song.

Justice – Audio, Video, Disco (Single Edit)

Buy “Audio, Video, Disco” from Amazon

28 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Friday 10-28-11

Halloween weekend is always a great time if you’re of a certain age. Between the ages of about 4 and 12, trick or treating is where it’s at (though that’s pretty much all confined to the actual holiday, be it on a weekday or weekend). Once you get older, specifically around college age, it becomes a big drinking holiday – a reason to dress up in a costume (or a slutty costume, if you’re female) and have a party with your friends. Sooner or later though, you get old enough where big parties and drinking become old hat, and you settle down and have kids and then take them trick or treating. So just about everybody has something going for them in and around this holiday. It’s one of my absolute favorites every year too, primarily because it’s fun and there’s a bunch of horror films that also get unleashed as well. “Paranormal Activity 3″ anyone? So have fun and be safe these next few days. And check your candy in case some stranger wants to poison you or your kids. And hey, that works into a nice segue about Pick Your Poison. Today’s highlights include tracks from Bass Drum of Death, Carter Tanton (with Marissa Nadler), Korallreven (with Julianna Barwick), Papertwin, Sapphire Slows, and Yamantaka/Sonic Titan.

Acid Invaders – Change (Kevin Saunderson Remix)

Bass Drum of Death – I Dunno

Canyons – See Blind Through (DJ Harvey Remix)

Carter Tanton – Fake Pretend (ft. Marissa Nadler)

Elika – We Have Failed

Kodak to Graph – Express/Cause

Korallreven – Sa Sa Samoa (ft. Julianna Barwick)

Le Chevalier – Fields

LeeSun – Missing You Already

Mighty Mouse – Ice Beer (Bootleg Version)

The New Division – Opium (Quiet Lights Remix)

New London Fire – The Dirt, The Blood, The Faith

Papertwin – Coma
Papertwin – Sleeptalk

Sapphire Slows – Spin Lights Over You

Thee Cormans – Open the Gates

Yamantaka/Sonic Titan – Hoshi Neko

The Zolas – Cultured Man

SOUNDCLOUD

Anthony von Seck – That Movie We Were In (ft. Amy Millan)

Attaque – Moderate

BIGkids – Rather Go Blind

Juveniles – We Are Young (Trésors remix)

Wale – Slight Work (ft. Big Sean)

28 Oct

Album Review: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto [Parlophone]



Simply put, people love to hate on Coldplay. It’s so easy to do, and their massive popularity places a huge target on their backs. Most simply, their reputation has been harmed since the band’s inception because they’ve been marketed incorrectly. From their arrival courtesy of 2000’s “Parachutes”, they were painted as an alternative rock band that was like a more pleasant and marketable version of Radiohead. At the time, alt rock was actually developing in the opposite direction – rap rock became this huge phenomenon (that everyone would soon regret) and it was no surprise to hear something like Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” one minute and Coldplay’s “Yellow” the next. The closer reality was that Coldplay fit in perfectly with the adult contemporary audience, next to bands like Train and Barenaked Ladies. That of course would eventually catch on and open up a whole new realm for the band popularity-wise, yet their ties to alternative remained intact. Even into 2006 you could hear the immensely schmaltzy “Fix You” on rock stations, most of them hoping to use the band’s arena status as a springboard to more listeners. Those that like Coldplay might stick around and listen to this new Incubus track, even if they’ve never heard of Incubus before. Anyways, by painting Chris Martin and the boys in that harsher rock and roll light, they became singled out for a lack of masculinity in their sound. Cap it off with one of the more famous lines to come out of “The 40 Year Old Virgin”: “You know how I know you’re gay? You listen to Coldplay.” That about sums it up. You know who’s not complaining about all the vitriol hurled Coldplay’s direction? Coldplay. Their music keeps selling, and at this point they’re one of the main gauges as to the health of the music industry. If a Coldplay record doesn’t sell “x” number of copies, the industry is in trouble.

By now, most of us know what Coldplay is all about, and can make our own decisions as to their worth in our own lives. But there remains a small sector of people that continue to light a candle for the band, holding out hope that they’ll ditch the stadium-sized and emotionally universal melodies in favor of something obscure, pure and altogether challenging. Hiring Brian Eno to produce your album practically comes off as a statement of intent that you’re looking to get pushed creatively, and while their last record “Viva La Vida” certainly patterned things in the right direction, they never strayed too far from their path, either afraid to alienate too many fans or because their label wouldn’t let them. The positive is that Coldplay appear to know the fundamental flaw in their music and are working within the realm of reason to try and earn the respect of more intense music lovers. They want to be known less as a band that cranked out hit after hit and more as a band that made great albums. With that in mind, they once again entered the studio with Eno to try once again to find a sound that pleases both critics and fans. They exited with “Mylo Xyloto”, the title and artwork both of which bear an eerie similarity to U2’s 1993 Eno-produced record “Zooropa”. Given how much the songs on records like “A Rush of Blood to the Head” and “X&Y” seemed to invite direct comparisons with U2’s grandiosity, here was yet another parallel that felt par for the course from a band such as this. Ignoring the superficiality of it all though, this new album pulls one over on us by sonically shying away from the bombast and overt drama of Bono & Co. while still very much maintaining their status as a crowd-pleasing arena band. It would seem that there are many layers to this Coldplay onion, but take comfort that they’re not repeating themselves and only some of those layers will make you cry (tears of sadness or auditory pain, depending on personal tastes).

“Mylo Xyloto” is a name concocted of pure fiction, and it theoretically fits into a story concept that Coldplay appears to be wary of talking about. They want to emphasize that while the songs on the record tell a happy love story between two characters known as Mylo and Xyloto, this does not define the music itself, nor should you be placing close analysis on the lyrics searching for plot points. What the band is trying to say is that these songs are upbeat and passionate without that heavy layer of sap they’ve often been known to espouse. That, and maybe they started with this grandiose tale, put some effort into developing it out, and then kinda sorta forgot about it halfway through writing the record. You can’t really tell either way, it just seems odd how the concept is mentioned only in passing like a closely guarded secret or something they’re looking to shove under the rug. But upbeat love songs? That’s not being kept quiet, and with good reason. This is Coldplay’s happiest album to date, and that playful nature definitely makes it a little easier to stomach. Even a song you’d expect to be a crier, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”, goes for celebratory live show staple even as the dreadful lyrics and painful titular analogy threaten its very existence. At least the ballads like “Us Against the World” and “Up in Flames” come across as genuine and heartfelt rather than blatant and emotionally manipulative as has been the case on the band’s last two records. It’s a nice reminder that this band can still do lovely and intimate without completely overselling it.

For those that know and love Coldplay’s anthemic side, there’s plenty for you on “Mylo Xyloto” as well. Clearly the hope was for “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” to continue the band’s trend of strong singles, and while it has served its purpose, you get the feeling it’ll wind up being treated the same way as tracks like “In My Place” and “Trouble” have been – swept under the rug when the truly huge one hits. On “A Rush of Blood to the Head”, that was “Clocks”. On this record, it may be new single “Paradise”. It’s formula Coldplay, and its chorus is one of the easiest things in the world to remember and sing along to (complete with requisite “whoas”), even if you’ve never heard it before. The propulsion of opener “Hurts Like Heaven” screams with inspirational energy and a call to action, and it’s a remarkably well constructed track even if the platitudes don’t make any sense half the time. You can naturally expect it to be a future single as well. A pair of darker and quite frankly cooler tracks in the form of “Charlie Brown” and “Major Minus” bring a much more masculine energy to the band, something that this record needed to buck the feather-light touches of their last couple efforts. It would appear that Brian Eno has done this band quite a bit of good, his fignerprints throwing an interesting wrench into their otherwise big and rather plain sound. Some reverb here, some Auto-Tune there, a bit of ambience in between and Coldplay starts to come across as smart for the way they never fully repeat themselves and provide subtle auditory twists on the same framework. You definitely can’t call them stupid or even wholly untalented because while they’re not diving head first into rampant anti-commercial experimentalism, they’re making a conscious effort to keep you guessing while remaining true to their gigantic fan base.

Not every experiment that Coldplay tries works out for them. Ironically, the one track on “Mylo Xyloto” that feels like the band was aiming for a sure fire hit is the one track on the record that turns out the worst. Pretty obviously pointing to the idea that they’re not in any way an alternative rock band, Coldplay did a one-off collaboration with a pop star. The song is called “Princess of China”, and it features Rihanna on guest vocals. Here is where their label gets stars in their eyes, upon the mention of the words “crossover hit”. You’ve got the adult contemporary market covered, your Top 40 fans, and your hip hop and R&B fans. In other words, here’s a song that can introduce Coldplay to a whole new sector of people that might not have liked them before, and by parallel, the same goes for Rihanna. Here’s the thing – the collaboration feels forced. A number of Coldplay songs actually lend themselves to more beat-driven, club atmosphere, and you can hunt down some remixes to support that point, so the issue isn’t so much a formatting or “different worlds” one. It’s primarily that they secure a big name guest star in Rihanna and then barely do anything with her, vocally or otherwise. Not only that, but on a record that largely explores the band’s lighter, more playful side, this song feels like everyone is all business. The t-shirt and jeans vibe gets turned in for 4 minutes of suits and ties. It doesn’t ruin the overall feel of the record, nor does it sound entirely out of place, but it is a little bit of a head scratcher compared to the company it keeps. Undoubtedly you’ll be hearing “Princess of China” as a single before this album fades from memory, so here’s your advance warning to prepare accordingly.

Listening to “Mylo Xyloto” is a decent reminder that Coldplay’s career is marred with tragedy. Okay, so multi-million dollar bank accounts is less tragic for them and more tragic for those of us that feel they don’t deserve it, but haters can take some pleasure in knowing the band will likely never make a truly great record. Sure, they can write and have already written a ton of great pop songs so far in their careers, but in doing so they’ve had their legacy set out in front of them. They’re trapped in the world of arena rock and the mainstream pandering that requires, whether they like it or not. You can choose to believe that Coldplay wanted this, practically begged for it, and are now “living the dream”, but cursory examinations of both their interviews and their records seems to indicate that they’re in a constant struggle with their own identities. Specifically, they want to be Radiohead or R.E.M. or U2. They want a blank check to write whatever record they feel like writing, no matter how oddball or experimental, in the hopes of earning worldwide critical acclaim as well as the success to back it up. Few artists have found that magic combination where you can be artistically pure AND popular. Coldplay only has one of those things, and they’ve got too much to lose should they try and earn the other. So we get something only slightly left of center, about as much rebellion as they can afford without catching some odd stares from long time fans. Their label might have outright rejected “Mylo Xyloto” if it were a tougher listen. Knowing the existential dilemma this band is dealing with, it’s tough to punish them too harshly for attempting to innovate and keep people guessing. Here is yet another Coldplay album that is moderately different than everything that came before it. At this point it’s just nice to know they’re still trying.

Buy “Mylo Xyloto” from Amazon

27 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Thursday 10-27-11

What’s in the news, what’s in the news…here’s an interesting tale. Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, is 19 years old and apparently engaged. Interesting that she’s getting married at such a young age, but even moreso that the guy she’s engaged to looks…a LOT like her father. He also is the lead singer in a rock band. According to Carl Jung, that might signify she’s got a little bit of an Electra complex going on. Of course she never really got to know her father too well, so that makes it just a little less creepy. Still, it’s a fun little pseudo-Halloween story, less in a terrifying way and more in a generally disturbing one. Okay, let’s talk Pick Your Poison. Today’s edition is a particularly good one. I can give gold stars to tracks from Alyssa Graham, Clem Snide (covering Journey, no less), Giraffage, Guided By Voices, Jonathan Coulton, Marine Dreams, The Phenomenal Handclap Band, Remember Remember, Singapore and The Spits. In the Soundcloud section you can stream some pretty great cuts from DATAROCK and Summer Camp.

Alan Wilkis – Come and Go (ft. The KickDrums)

Alyssa Graham – Watching the Sky

Clem Snide – Any Way You Want It (Journey cover)

Compuphonic – Sequoia (Original Mix)

Giraffage – Moments
Giraffage – LUV

Guided By Voices – The Unsinkable Fats Domino

Holy Ghost! – Hold My Breath (Cosmic Kids Remix)

Jonathan Coulton – Sucker Punch

Keys N Krates – Let It Rain (Lotus Remix)

Marine Dreams – Fold the Sky

The Phenomenal Handclap Band – Following

Remember Remember – John Candy

Singapore – Vampire Teeth

The Spits – My Life Sucks

The Through & Through Gospel Review – Please, St. Peter

Warning Light – Meet Me at the Cliffsides

SOUNDCLOUD

Baru – Open Ears

DATAROCK – Roller Coaster

Junius – A Universe Without Stars

Kathleen Edwards – Sidecar

Sneaky Sound System – Big (Nicolas Jaar’s Always By Your Side Version)

Summer Camp – Down

26 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 10-26-11

Ah, nothing like a hangover to bring you right back down to earth in the middle of the week. I’m not on blog vacation this week, but I am off from all my other responsibilities for a few days, thereby leaving me time to have some fun with friends and family. Sometimes that results in too much fun. So I’m nursing a massive headache that only rest can cure. Before I knock myself out, here’s today’s Pick Your Poison. I’ll annoint tracks from Dempsey, Ivan & Alyosha, Mwahaha, Nada Surf, Oneohtrix Point Never, The Pale Corners, Wet Illustrated and Wooden Wand as personal favorites from this set.

Blind Tango – Pasadena

Dempsey – Late Night

Higgins – Slap or Pinch

Ivan & Alyosha – Be Your Man (Acoustic)

Jennifer O’Connor – Running Start

Lydia Loveless – Can’t Change Me

Manuel Migs – Close Your Eyes (Salva Remix)

Midnight Lion – When Doves Cry (Prince cover)

Mwahaha – Poinsettia

Nada Surf – When I Was Young

Oneohtrix Point Never – Sleep Dealer

The Pale Corners – Fireflies

Wais P – So Bad

Wet Illustrated – Gypsy Town

Wooden Wand – The Mountain

x3no – Distress

SOUNDCLOUD

Abadabad – Park Slope (:papercutz Remix)

Anomie Belle – Machine (feat. Mr Lif)

Black Daniel – People Watchin’

Hammock – No Agenda (ft. Steve Kilbey of The Church)

Pepe Deluxe – The Storm (Radio Edit)

25 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 10-25-11

As I like to do most Tuesdays, here’s a list of some significant music releases this week, available at your local independent music retailer or online if you prefer. If it suits your fancy, there’s new stuff out there from Ashtar Command, The Beets, Bjork with Dirty Projectors, The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, A Classic Education, Coldplay, Comet Gain, Deer Tick, Gospel Music, Jedi Mind Tricks, John Prine, Justice, Mark Sultan, Mr. Gnome, Phantogram, Russian Circles, Spectrals, The Strange Boys, Surfer Blood, Tom Waits, Wet Illustrated and Woodsman. If you’re really itching to get your holidays started early, there are Christmas albums out this week from Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland and the Zooey Deschanel/M. Ward project She & Him. That out of the way, let’s talk about what’s directly in front of us: a fresh edition of Pick Your Poison. Today I’ll recommend tracks from Andy Steele, Loves It, The Migrant, Miracles of Modern Science, Night Shining, Robert Deeble, and Shirk Circus. In the Soundcloud section, you can hear a great track from Dolfish and a b-side/cover from Yuck off the deluxe reissue of their debut album. Oh, and happy birthday to me.

Andy Steele – The Devil That I Know

Buil_dings – Eyes on Sunrise

David’s Lyre – We Found Love (Rihanna Remix/Cover)

Escort – Caméleon Chameleon (Club Remix)

Florence and the Machine – Shake It Out (VOODOO FARM Moombahton Remix)

Fuck Art, Let’s Dance! – The Conqueror

Loves It – Bobby Kennedy

The Migrant – 2811 California Street

Miracles of Modern Science – Eating Me Alive

My Bloody Valentine – Soon (Christian Strobe Remix)

Night Shining – Faces

Races – Big Broom (Sun Glitters Remix)

Robert Deeble – Undertow

Shirk Circus – Understanding

They Might Be Giants – Can’t Keep Johnny Down (Midnight Sun Remix)

Wowser Bowser – Water Story

SOUNDCLOUD

Anchorsong – Ghost Touch

Blondfire – Where The Kids Are

Dolfish – Digitized Love Letters

Monument Valley – Round and Round

Yuck – Natsu Nandesu (Happy End cover)

25 Oct

Album Review: Real Estate – Days [Domino]



As we learned from a string of (primarily) West Coast bands in the last couple years, summer is no longer a time of year. It’s actually a feeling and has a distinct sound – something that can be created with relative ease if you know what you’re doing. The lackadaisical warmth glowing off of records by bands like Best Coast, Tennis, The Drums, Beach Fossils, The Morning Benders and Wavves could make even the most brutal of winters seem that much more bearable. It was like taking a mental vacation to the beach. Real Estate also fell into this category, though the boys are from New Jersey. The cover of their 2009 self-titled debut album had what appears to be some triangle-shaped thatch hut with bright blue skies behind it. Their first single was titled “Beach Comber”, and it was a delightful romp through the sand filled with people tanning and playing volleyball and frisbee and that one guy who carries around a metal detector searching for buried treasure. The rest of the album follows suit, even as the closing track “Snow Days” recounts “February down by the shore” where the “waters never freeze/despite the ice and snow”. They can’t stay away from the beach even in the middle of winter. 2011 has seen the beach-bound sound fall a little by the wayside, the result of overexposure more than anything, but that doesn’t mean a great record can’t push through such challenges. Real Estate’s sophmore album “Days” tries with grace and polish to reinvigorate our love for that partly cloudy sound, and it’s amusingly apt that they waited until the fall, where the swim trunks and surf boards are traded for jackets and heaters, to release it.

For those familiar with Real Estate’s debut album, you know it was a rather ramshackle lo-fi effort, recorded on the cheap and collecting a number of songs written in the band’s earlier days. In that sense there was an unpredictability and rawness to it, which was partly charming but also proved imperfect. “Days” seeks to correct that by upping the recording quality to a standard layer of sheen and pulling together 10 tracks that have all been written and recorded within a small time frame. The result is added beauty and a welcome cohesion that creates additional depth for a band that might otherwise have run out of ways to keep us interested. In a way all these songs are instrumentally cut from the same cloth and utilize the same instruments in the same way each time, but the melodies and tempos are just variable enough to avoid falling into a bland or whitewashed template and remain individually memorable. A big part of that comes via the serpentine guitar work of Matt Mondanile, whose work on tracks like the instrumental “Kinder Blumen” and the 7+ minute closer “All the Same” make for interesting detours from the band’s poppier side. And through all these rather laid back yet hypnotic melodies, the band never sounds like they’re trying to do too much or too little. Nothing feels over-long or extraneous, as if they’ve whittled each track down to only the barest of essentials. Such a balance is not easy to come by, and it’s a big part of what makes “Days” work so well.

The lyrical cues on this record largely keep with Real Estate tradition, as on opening track “Easy” where there’s talk of “floating on an innertube in the sun” and running “around the fields”. The guitars jangle and light touches of xylophone bring an added sparkle next to the dayglow vocal harmonies. The shimmery “Green Aisles” speaks of “aimless drives” through the tree canopys and street lights of suburbia as part of a “careless lifestyle”. If you’ve ever done exactly that, not only will this song trigger said memories, but it comes across like a soundtrack to them as well. The immense relatability to the stories and images presented in these songs is part of the album’s charm, and even if you grew up in a big city surrounded by crime, there’s a certain idealized aspect in these songs that functions well as escapist fantasy too. If nothing else, there are moments such as “It’s Real” and “Out of Tune” that worm their way into your brain and stay with you, even as you become enamored with other tracks on the record. They’re not all highlights, but they’re all purposeful and enjoyable in their own way, and there’s not much more you could ask for.

With “Days”, Real Estate lives on to fight another day. That’s not meaning to suggest they’re fated to eventually wind up in the post-hype bin with hundreds of other artists, but their sound at the moment doesn’t lend itself to long-term sustainability. There’s only so much lazy day nostalgia you can take, and as with any good thing there are bound to be copycats to dilute the potency of what’s already being done. Real Estate is fortunate that off their debut they had something with which to improve upon. They made all the necessary upgrades, and have outdone themselves thanks in no small part to the sheer talent of each and every band member. Hopefully those same guys will be able to spark yet another wave of creative innovation for next time, because much like summer itself, the winds change and those once green aisles of trees turn brown and lose their leaves.

Real Estate – Green Aisles

Real Estate – It’s Real

Buy “Days” from Amazon

24 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Monday 10-24-11

Oh noes! Amy Klein has left Titus Andronicus! Lots of people appear to be upset about this. I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier. Not that she was unhappy or a bad fit with the rest of the band, but to me she always seemed destined for bigger and better things. When I heard about her couple of side projects, most notably Hilly Eye and Amy Klein and the Blue Star Band, I assumed they’d eventually steal her focus away from the boys in Titus. And so it has happened. Her leaving Titus does not spell the end for either her or the band, and I continue to expect great things from both. So allow me to wish a best of luck to Amy Klein, now formerly Amy Andronicus. I hope to be writing about her music in the near future. Here in the present, let’s talk today’s Pick Your Poison. I’ve got positive things to say about tracks from Chris Bathgate, Eric Sarmiento, FIDLAR, Parts & Labor, Silver Swans (covering Fleet Foxes and doing a good job), and V.C. In the Soundcloud section, there’s a new track from K-OS that’s worth your time if you enjoy hip hop.

Black Light White Light – The Militia

Carousel – Games

Chris Bathgate – No Silver

The Dragons & Gorilla Pits – Crazy

EchoRev – Sparks (Izzi Willow Remix)

Eric Sarmiento – Bilumsman

FIDLAR – Oh

Hectic Zeniths – Curtain

Justice – Helix (Don Diablo Remix)

Lana Del Rey – Video Games (Erol Sabadosh Remix)

Ming + 2Beeps – Crazyish

Parts & Labor – No Nostalgia

The Silent Comedy – Exploitation

Silver Swans – He Doesn’t Know Why (Fleet Foxes cover)

Two Dark Birds – Black Blessed Night

V.C. – 123

Zodiac Death Valley – La Razon

SOUNDCLOUD

The Alcoves – Sad Clown

Iowa – Complete Control

Keep Shelly in Athens – Lazy Noon

K-OS – Holy Cow

Nero – Me and You (Steve Angello Remix)

Pinebocks – Flee

24 Oct

Show Review: Cymbals Eat Guitars + Hooray for Earth [Lincoln Hall; Chicago; 10/21/11]

Fall is the best time of year for several reasons. It could be the weather, still relatively warm with a slight chill in the air. It could be the leaves changing, a beautiful reminder that we need to prepare for the harsh winter ahead. There’s also plenty of seasonal foods to enjoy, from pumpkin-flavored treats to freshly picked apples, particularly of the honey crisp variety. But set all those lovely things aside for a moment because fall is also fantastic for its concerts. So many bands are out on tour, freed from the glut of summer music festivals which have massive bills and radius clauses keeping some out of town through much of August and September. And while going to a summer festival where 100+ artists are performing can be a great way to discover new music, going to see a smaller show with just a couple artists on the bill can give you a much more impactful and perhaps surprising experience. You’re paying to see a headliner, but showing up early reaps plenty of rewards in and of itself. Case in point, this past Friday in which I dropped by Lincoln Hall for a headlining show from Cymbals Eat Guitars. Their first two records “Why There Are Mountains” and “Lenses Alien” struck a chord with tastemakers, and the band has been on the rise ever since. On their current fall tour they’re being supported by the band Hooray for Earth, whose debut full length “True Loves” turned many a head this past summer, even as it wound up a little lost in the shuffle of other, bigger releases.

On what was a crisp October evening, the show had an uncharacteristically late start time of 10pm. It makes sense in that none of the 3 bands performing had enough material for a full 90 minute set, but there was no real reason why things couldn’t have kicked off at a more normal 9pm and ended at midnight instead of 1am. Does it make that much of a difference in the end? Not really – once you’re out for the night, there’s not much difference between midnight and 1am. Plus it gives people more of their earlier evening free to do things like drink more before the show and then try to start a mosh pit during Cymbals Eat Guitars. More on that in a minute, but right now I want to give a quick shout out to Chicago’s own Bailiff, who was the first band on the bill Friday night. This was a one-off show for them as they’re not part of the tour, but those that know Chicago’s local music scene were smart enough to arrive on time for their set. While I like what I’ve heard on record from Bailiff, I had never seen them live before, and due to some small travel delays I only had the chance to see the last 10 minutes of their 25 minute set. Those 10 minutes were enough to impress me though, and I can’t help but think that those guys are well on their way to becoming a band that earns worldwide attention. The “it” factor is clearly there, and I’m absolutely looking forward to hearing and seeing much more from them in the next couple years.


A fairly sizable crowd had arrived at Lincoln Hall by the time Hooray for Earth took the stage, and most of them had never heard the band before. I know that because people kept asking me who the band was. That’s great news though, because it means they were intrigued by what they heard and saw. It’s the opening sets where everyone passively watches or talks the whole time that are bad signs. A couple drunk girls asked me if it was Yeasayer on stage. They clearly didn’t know their Yeasayer either, but at least they were in the ball park sonically. One of the great qualities about Hooray for Earth is how they’re able to marry psychedelic and pop sounds with electronica and dance elements, which at this show resulted in an unorthodox dance party. The guys in Hooray for Earth weren’t so much taken aback by the dancing, but they did seem just a touch surprised to see a number of people getting their groove on. It’s relatively challenging to get cross-armed indie kids to dance, so that was just one of the small victories Hooray for Earth could claim during their set. Another was some charming stage banter, highlighted by the mid-set pause in which frontman Noel Heroux called a friend to wish him a happy birthday. Really the music itself did all the talking that was needed though, and in their 45 minute set the band powered through much of their record. Naturally it was the title track off their new album “True Loves” that got the biggest crowd response, aided by the fact that it’s a highly addictive and fun single that has gotten some radio airplay by a few forward-thinking stations. Their live rendition of “Black Trees” was blisteringly cool as well, aided in no small part by the swirling, psychedelic video projections that washed over the band. Hooray for Earth likely made a bunch of new friends thanks to their reliable and enjoyable set. I think they can do even better though, and hopefully bring a little more on stage energy to their songs in the future. As they do more touring and write new material, that should all evolve naturally. Hooray for Earth remains a band to watch, and if we’re lucky, the next time they come through town they’ll be the ones headlining.

Hooray for Earth – True Loves
Hooray for Earth – No Love

Hooray For Earth – Black Trees

Buy “Lenses Alien” from Barsuk Records


It’s been a tough couple years for Cymbals Eat Guitars. Relentless touring around their debut record “Why There Are Mountains” resulted in two of the band’s four members quitting and frontman Joseph D’Agostino blowing out his voice. Such tragedy also comes with a ray of sunshine though, and in this case the sheer exhaustion pretty much meant the band was leaving it all on the stage each and every night. Now with a revamped lineup and a vocal tune-up for D’Agostino, Cymbals Eat Guitars unleashed their sophmore effort “Lenses Alien” to more critical acclaim, effectively proving their debut was not a fluke and they could not only sustain but evolve as well. The small tragedy on Friday night was that more people didn’t make it out to the show. Lincoln Hall wasn’t sold out by any measure, but those that did come were largely die hard fans. The ones that weren’t die hard fans upon arriving hopefully left with a sharply increased appreciation for these guys. They started their set with the bouncy “Indiana”, which had at least a few people jumping up and down right away, though things wouldn’t really escalate until about the final 30 minutes of the show. It was somewhere right around “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)” that things reached an apex they could not top. The track itself is 8.5 minutes long on record, and on stage the band drew it out and enhanced it even more than I ever thought possible. The tension built up over the course of the song was held for as long as possible before the quiet exploded into a wall of sound and D’Agostino’s visceral scream. It has been awhile since a live rendition of a song has given me goosebumps like that. To their credit they also bled “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)” into “Keep Me Waiting” effortlessly, the whole thing seeking to provide the auditory definition of the word “epic”. The seamless combination of songs would happen a couple more times in the second half of the set, and the noisier and more experimental the band got, the more energized the crowd got. That is to say a bunch of guys near the front felt it would be a great idea to start a mosh pit. As they bounced into one another more and more, those of us not looking to potentially get hurt backed away and gave them some space. THankfully things never got overzealous or violent, and respect was maintained not only between sectors of the crowd but towards the band on stage as well.

For me, the only disappointing thing about CEG’s set was an apparent lack of applause/cheering by the crowd once they finished their set. Perhaps my perception was off and the crowd was smaller than I thought, but I just assumed it would be a louder response for an encore than what was given. Almost as if they resigned to do an encore because they were headlining and less because it was demanded of them, the band came back out after a very brief moment backstage to play one more song. It was a nice cap on the evening, though it probably wasn’t necessary. They played for an hour, hit all the songs I had wanted them to and slayed them all, and while I was cheering for the band when it was all over, I was also satisfied to the point where I didn’t need any more. If the crowd isn’t going to give you the sort of response that warrants an encore, my opinion is don’t do one. Again, maybe I just had a disconnection between crowd size and the loudness of said crowd and everyone was begging for an encore. It’s also very possible my hearing was a bit off after such a loud and punshing set. Ultimately my stance is this: for the talented bands involved, this show should have been close to sold out – especially for a Friday night. That it wasn’t is the biggest disappointment of them all. Bands like Cymbals Eat Guitars and Hooray for Earth are the type worth listening to and investing in because they push creative boundaries within their respective genres. If you can’t be bothered to go and see them, they can’t be bothered to make more music. Please take that into account the next time either of them rolls through Chicago or whatever city you live in.

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)

Cymbals Eat Guitars – …And The Hazy Sea

Buy “Lenses Alien” from Barsuk Records

21 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Friday 10-21-11

20 Oct

Album Review: M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming [Mute]


90% of double albums are failures. In more recent years, everyone from Foo Fighters to the Red Hot Chili Peppers have attempted to show off creatively by unleashing multi-disc efforts. Some claim the music is all thematically sound, tied to a concept or something else, and therefore entirely necessary to extend beyond your traditional single album length. Others say they went into the studio and got far more recorded than anticipated, and because everything was so great, instead of cutting tracks they just left it as-is, bleeding it out into dual records. You’ve also got a band like Radiohead, who made “Kid A” and released that, then followed up 8 months later on with “Amnesiac”, essentially more new songs from those same sessions but contextually different. A staggered release schedule forming two separate albums tends to be the smarter move, particularly in this day and age when albums are largely down for the count and singles reign, the attention span of music fans growing increasingly shorter by the day. Still, there is the occasional double album that works, generating enough positive response to go down with the status of “legendary”. We’re talking Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” or the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”. It was reportedly that Pumpkins record which served as the main inspiration for M83’s main man Anthony Gonzalez to craft his own double album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”. This may be one of the worst times in music trends to unleash 73 minutes of music intended to be heard in one sitting, but let’s just be thankful somebody has the balls to keep trying anyways.

The first thing you look for in any double album is filler. Instrumental tracks? That’s typically the first sign of filler, but if you know M83 then you also know they do a fair share of instrumentals on their single disc records. Their electro-synth sound is built to where instrumentals can be not only welcome, but sometimes encouraged. One listen to “Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts” will teach you all you need to know about M83 and instrumentals. There’s somewhere around a half dozen instrumentals spread across the 22 total tracks here, and almost all of them are wholly engaging or serve a particular purpose other than apparent filler. This isn’t a record with an overarching theme or concept holding it all together, outside of just a generalized dream state it otherwise seeks to achieve. Yet there are so many big pop songs and dramatic ballads that transitional pieces and more minor moments are almost required as balance. “Train to Pluton” or “Fountains” may not be the most exciting or brilliant pieces of music, but they are fully functional set-up pieces and never really hurt the overall pacing that gets established. You can also look at moments like “Where the Boats Go” and “When Will You Come Home?”, the former which aids the adjustment from the red hot “Reunion” into the massive drift that is “Wait” and the latter which serves as the start of a trio of songs that effortlessly blends the first disc with the second.

Long time fans of M83 should automatically feel comfortable with “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, as the 80s synth-pop motifs continue to permeate everything Gonzalez touches. That’s his thing, crafting a soundtrack to an imagined version of his teenage years. The last record “Saturdays=Youth” felt like musical accompaniment to a long-lost John Hughes film, and while there’s still some resemblance to that on the new double album, it comes across as far less cinematic in nature. That doesn’t mean it’s any less expansive or epic though, as it’s tough to call 74 minutes of music minimal or small. But those bigger, arena-style melodies were explored in a similar fashion on “Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts”. To bring out the full M83 past album retrospective, fans of “Before the Dawn Heals Us” will find the darker, more urban pop of that record bearing an influence here as well. Darkness would be a theme on this record, as any record with the word “dreaming” in its title hopefully implies sleeping and night time. Despite all this looking back providing a “complete picture” of what M83 has been all about, there’s still the future to be concerned with. In response to that, Gonzalez has taken to expanding the number of instruments on this record to include the occasional saxophone (“Midnight City”) or flute (“New Map”) while pushing his own vocals into entirely new territory.

Past singles like “Kim & Jessie” or “Don’t Save Us From the Flames” provide great reference samples featuring Gonzalez keeping his vocals restrained at an almost whisper-like level. It becomes apparent from the very first track on the new album, the aptly titled “Intro”, that those days of calmly reserved, passive singing are over. Gonzalez’s voice may not be the most impressive thing when he’s belting out songs at full volume as his newfound range and key reveal some limitations, but you’ve got to give him credit for laying it all out there. He sounds a full octave higher than he used to, now fully up-front and brimming with confidence, taking the reins like he’s ready to conquer the world. For once his singing matches the scope of his arrangements, which is probably why cuts like “Midnight City” and “Steve McQueen” also make for some of M83’s best songs to date in a catalogue dense with highlights already.

If you’re not prepared for it, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” might seem like a chore to listen to from start to finish. There’s so much material to digest that it can be a little overwhelming at times, making it that much harder to become enraptured with important moments because there are quite a few. To Gonzalez’s credit he spreads them out fairly evenly to continually engage the listener for the duration, though the first five tracks of each disc can feel like a pileup of pure sonic delight. There may not be a storyline or abstract concept linking these tracks together, but like the two halves of “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”, each separate disc has a sonic counterpart on the other. Consider them then like fraternal twins – different, but inextricably linked to one another. The more carefully you listen, the more obvious it becomes. It would seem then that going the double album route has worked out remarkably well for M83. Count this was one of those rare cases where a multi-disc effort is worth the time and money you invest in it. There are not really any bad songs in this bunch either, and even the child’s spoken word moments of “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” can’t derail the momentum this beast generates for itself. Will it go down in history as one of those rare double albums that still gets talked about 5, 10 or 50 years down the line? Probably not, if only due to technology. Up until the early 00s, album releases were regarded as events, and people’s options were confined to physical mediums such as vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs. You couldn’t really skip any tracks on The Beatles’ “White Album” because at the time that luxury didn’t exist. With the advent of the digital era, not only are people skipping or cherry picking, but access to music itself has become so fluid there’s far more music to take in than any one person can even begin to digest. Hence the rise of the single, so we can listen to that song and get on to the next artist. But here’s a piece of work that while created today is distinctly 80s in sound and scope. If you’re a child of the 80s or earlier decades, that’s something you can understand, even as you may have a hard drive filled to the brim with other music. Calm yourself down and set aside 74 minutes to take in “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” at least once in full. Hopefully it will speak to you and maybe even reinstill a faith in the long player. The death of the album (single or double) has been greatly exaggerated, and M83 makes for some great evidence in support of that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and find the exact time when this album and the film “The NeverEnding Story” sync up perfectly.

M83 – Intro (ft Zola Jesus)

M83 – Midnight City

Buy “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” from Amazon

20 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Thursday 10-20-11

To my fellow Chicagoans, I want to make a quick mention that if your Friday is not yet booked, there’s some great live music you can go out and see. Then again, pretty much any night of the week there’s great live music to go and see. But this Friday the bands Cymbals Eat Guitars and Hooray for Earth will be performing at Lincoln Hall. It’s a 21+ show, and tickets are $12 in advance ($15 at the door). I’ll be there and will have a show review for you by Monday, but early warning this should be a great show. Tickets are available here. Okay, let’s get on with today’s Pick Your Poison. I can say nice things about tracks from Adrienne Drake, Anna Rose (and her Arcade Fire cover), The Beets, St. Even (with Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak), The Trophy Fire and Yojimbo Billions. Hip hop fans may want to have a listen to the new Wale track ft. Kid Cudi, up for streaming in the Soundcloud section.

The Adamski Kid – Je Veux Une Cassette De Bowie

Adrienne Drake – Between Space and Clouds

Andy Steele – On Kentish Ground

Anna Rose – My Body Is A Cage (Arcade Fire cover)

Baron Bane – Echoes (The Deer Tracks Remix)

The Beets – Friends of Friends

Foster the People – Call It What You Want (The Soundmen Remix)

Geoffrey O’Connor – So Sorry (Chet Faker Remix)

Gigamesh – It’s So Intense (Fare Soldi Enrico Pallazzo Remix)

Metronomy – Everything Goes My Way ft. Roxanne Clifford (Psychemagik Remix)

St. Even – Having Sex (ft. Jenn Wasner)

Suddyn – Naked Prophecy

Talk in Colour – Nightshifts

Touch People – Sound Expression

The Trophy Fire – Tired Eyes

Yojimbo Billions – Collapsed Unloaded

You Can Be A Wesley – Giants

SOUNDCLOUD

Crespo & Landis – Rebirth

Filip Filipi – Kosovka (ft. Laws)

Jet Link – Foxes

Rogue Valley – Disappearing Ink

Wale ft. Kid Cudi – Focused

19 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 10-19-11

Allow me to take a moment to address a topic that has been widely discussed by most music sites around the globe: the validity (or invalidity) of Lana Del Rey. People are so quick to criticize. Yes, Lana Del Rey is a fake name, and she already attempted to become a music star under her original name Lizzie Grant. Yes, she’s adopted a sharply different look in becoming Lana Del Rey, one that seems to have involved possible cosmetic surgery (her lips? more?) and a pinup-style wardrobe. In essence, there’s not much about her that’s genuine, and apparently that gets people upset. It goes without saying she’s also using her sexuality to also generate press, what with her good looks and subservient-like nature recalling a time in which women were both ruled over and ogled over by men. My stance is that all that doesn’t matter in the least. When you’re sitting in your car and a song like “Video Games” or “Blue Jeans” comes on the stereo, does it stick with you beyond those few minutes? Can you deny that the minimal pieces of music we’ve heard from Lana Del Rey have all been strong when you completely remove the context behind them? The look is a way to draw our attention, but the music is what keeps it. I dislike the way it’s being sold and packaged, but cannot say it’s a bad thing in the least. If you want to weigh in on Lana Del Rey, feel free to leave a comment. As to today’s Pick Your Poison, Bombay Bicycle Club does an interesting take on Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” in the Soundcloud section. Also there you can stream Thievery Corporation’s remix of an AM & Shawn Lee track. In terms of mp3s, I”ll give gold stars to tracks from Friends By Fire, Hospitality, Raymond Raposa (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Vesper), Steel Phantoms, and Water Babys.

Convaire – The New You

De Montevert – Du kommer ångra dig

Eight and A Half – Scissors

Friends By Fire – Magic Johnson

Gordon Voidwell – MalcolmXXXMcLaren

Hospitality – Friends of Friends

The Inspector Cluzo – Fuck the Bass Player

Lid Emba – Stuttercrow

Mighty Moon – Vampire Plans

The Oyster Murders – Ghosts in Our Wake

Raymond Raposa ft. Sufjan Stevens and Vesper – Beyond This Place

Satellite Stories – Family

Steel Phantoms – Floodlight

Tits & Clits – Ariadne (ft. I’m Not A Band)

Water Babys – Binary Birds
Water Babys – Radio

World History – Forcefield (Beck cover)

SOUNDCLOUD

AM & Shawn Lee – Promises Are Never Far From Lies (Thievery Corporation Remix)

Bombay Bicycle Club – Video Games (Lana Del Rey cover)

The Campbell Apartment – Autumn

The M Machine – Promise Me A Rose Garden

Union Starr – I Know About Art

18 Oct

Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 10-18-11

It’s new album release day, and as I try to do every Tuesday, here’s your list of notable records you might want to pick up. These aren’t so much recommendations as they are listed for informational purposes as I can’t attest to how good or bad all of these are because I haven’t heard them all. This week sees new albums from Body Language, Brown Bird, Brown Shoe, Carter Tanton, Class Actress, Forest Fire, Gauntlet Hair, I Break Horses, Jane’s Addiction, Kimya Dawson, M83, Moholy-Nagy, The Mommyheads, My Brightest Diamond, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Penguin Prison, Psychic Ills, Real Estate, Richard Swift, Rob Crow, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Tennis System, The Trophy Fire and Turf War. Speaking directly of Pick Your Poison today, I’ll toss a handful of actual recommendations your way as you try to navigate these choppy download waters. Honorable mentions today go to tracks from 33Hz, Boston Spaceships, Grand Atlantic, Mirador, The Morning Clouds and These United States. In the Soundcloud section, stream a new one from Benjamin Francis Leftwich and check out Lotus Plaza’s (aka Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter) cover of Cut Copy’s “Where I’m Going”. It’s pretty dope.

33Hz – Nightspot

Absofacto – Feathers (Don’t Change on Me)

Boston Spaceships – Christmas Girl

City of Satellites – Machine Is My Animal (Tin Manzano Remix)

Comasoft – 10 Volt

Garrett Pierce – Everybody Breaks

Grand Atlantic – Searchlights

Kris Orlowski – Way You Are

Low Roar – Tonight, Tonight, Tonight

Mirador – Dance of the Lantern People

The Morning Clouds – Ends

Pieta Brown – I Want It Back

Public Jones – Alright

The Silent Signals – Spark

These United States – The Great Rivers

Trailer Trash Tracys – Dies in 55

SOUNDCLOUD

Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Shine

Black Daniel – People Watchin’

Leverage Models – Men Of Certainty

Local Hero – Press Box

Lotus Plaza – Where I’m Going (Cut Copy Cover)

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