Friday, August 7, 2009

#31 (Heal Ya-dition)

Science has proven time and again that souls may be mended. All that is needed for a lil soul regeneration is either an inspirational book or a joyous song.

And so it was good news for all of our souls when Californian Alex Ebert dissolved his decidedly less jolly band, Ima Robot, refashioned his new-wave mullet into long hippie locks, and picked up a deca-collective of buskers, wayfarers, and fun-havers (hippies). Ebert also collected a pseudonym (Edward Sharpe) and dubbed his posse the Magnetic Zeros. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros make light-hearted uplifting music with few strings attached. Their debut album Up From Below is as organic as it is uplifting.

In 'Janglin,' the group shows its effusive collective energy and delivers a pair of memorable hooks (along with an opportunity to yell "HEY" in the middle of the chorus). Let Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "heal your janglin soul."

Friday, July 24, 2009

#30 (Percussion Concussion Edition)

White Rabbits offer their ingredients for their beverage: Percussion Concussion

Drums. Plural.
1 Rhythmic Motif
1 Harmonic Motif
Bassy Piano
Radiohead inspired guitar sound & guitar line
Dry hand claps
1 BreakDOWN
3 chilling harmonies

Mix. Repeat. Enjoy. White Rabbits, "Percussion Gun"

Friday, July 17, 2009

#29 (Simple As Sin Edition)

Simplicity is no sin. Campbell's Tomato Soup on a cold day, the aesthetic beauty of a Stop sign...Then there's Bowerbirds. The North Carolinian guy/gal/guy trio play lovely, simple music. Crisp snare drums, dry acoustic guitars, desperately harmonized vocals, sometimes upright bass, sometimes pianos, and sometimes squeezebox coat their rural soundscape.

After their lovely debut Hymns for a Dark Horse, Bowerbirds are releasing the follow-up Upper Air. To this humble listener, the standout is "Northern Lights." And while I've listened to this song at least 10 times today, the only thing I can properly say about it is: "all I want is your eyes PLINK-plink. plinky-plink." Enjoy an autumnal song in summertime...

Friday, July 10, 2009

#28 (More Than a Doppelganger Edition)

English singer-songwriter Nick Drake passed away thirty-five years ago. Drake was never properly embraced in his time. His first three recordings on Island Records sold less than 5,000 copies each during the time of their release. Posthumously, his impressive catalog has come to be revered as it should have been originally. Exhibiting fingerpicking prowess, subtle and crisp arrangements, striking melodies, and a feathery vocal delivery, Drake and his songs have become iconic.

For all those Drake aficionados that never got to see him perform, along comes Alexi Murdoch. While I will never directly compare the two, fans of Drake or songwriting in general should take notice of Murdoch. The Scottish-born songwriter often makes listeners do a doubletake, or simply assume they are listening to a rarely heard Drake song.

It doesn't help that Murdoch's most well known song, Orange Sky, sounds strikingly similar in name and content to Drake's most well known song, Pink Moon, and the two-chord strumming on Drake's Northern Sky. Murdoch also shares Drake's introverted nature, living in a secluded environ, and rarely touring.

Apart from the similarities, Murdoch's work deserves attention in its own right. His guitar playing and songwriting chops are strong and growing. He recently contributed the music for Sam Mendes's Away We Go. Better yet, he's here now (even if secluded). Let's listen to Murdoch's "All My Days" live from NYC's Mercury Lounge...

Friday, May 29, 2009

#27 (I've Got the SPIRIT Edition)

Spritely Spirits Skip Swiftly in Sanguine Summertime, said Solomon sans subtlety.

DELTA SPIRIT comes from San Diego and produces a shimmering Americana soul-rock with twinkle, bounce, pep, and other nouns that sound like detergents. Their 2008 self-produced debut Ode to Sunshine delivered short, explosive pop gems with rootsy n' rustic production. Since the album's release, the band has hit the road with the likes of The Shins, Dr. Dog, and Cold War Kids. They will continue with The Shins this summer before hitting the festival circuit. Their live set has been acclaimed as one of those that simply must be seen to believe. No place on Ode to Sunshine does the spiritsplosion occur more dramatically than on the 2:36 "Trashcan."

That awesome tinny beat that pervades the song is in fact intoned on a trashcan lid. The parallel bass line (in the right ear), and the electric guitar (in the left ear), along with the toy piano call and response hook, drive this propulsion force forward. Singer Matt Vasquez mixes some real dirt and grit into his vocal stylings. The result is a perfect summer song, upbeat in its power.

Enjoy, please. And as a bonus, another Delta Spirit treat off Ode to Sunshine.

This post represents episode 3 of publishing only on bands playing at Bonnaroo, leading up to the festival June 11-15, 2009. Delta Spirit plays Thursday, June 11th. For those interested, I will be tweeting reactions and reviews live from the festival at @nickofcarlo.

Friday, May 22, 2009

#26 (What the Puck Edition)

Put it on ice, friends.

Hockey is a fun up and comer that has more buzz than material. The four-piece puts dance and some 'tude in their step while offering throaty vocals (not Tom Waits throaty. Maybe raspy). Without a full-length at the moment, the band is building up to their first release, Mind Chaos, late in 2009. They play a slew of summer festivals including making a stop on the farm at Bonnaroo.

This post represents episode 2 of publishing only on bands playing at Bonnaroo, leading up to the festival June 11-15, 2009. For those interested, I will be tweeting reactions and reviews live from the festival at @nickofcarlo.

Have a loungey and languid long weekend,

Friday, May 15, 2009

#25 (Look At Me Edition)

We're making moves, ladies and gentlestuffs!

Congratulations to Passion Pit for being the first band to be featured on And If Glory Had a Baby twice. The young men from Massachusetts follow up their debut EP Chunk of Change with their first full-length album entitled Manners. Sure to be a full-on dancer, the album has all the bass and bravado to get the kids up and out their chairs. Their first single "The Reeler" has the requisite snare snap to go with some digi-horns and another killer high-pitched chorus. The bass tone owns more fuzz than these youngsters' faces. Saccharine? Perhaps. Appealing to your sweetest tooth? Absolutely. Enjoy.

In a countdown to this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, this week marks the first post in which I will feature only Bonnaroo artists from now through the event. Passion Pit has nabbed a coveted spot in the schedule, as the last band to play on Thursday June 11th's opening night.

For those interested, I will be live Tweeting updates and recommendations from Bonnaroo (June 11-15) at @nickofcarlo: