The Belle Jar- Union Station
Mar 5, 2014
The Migrant is the brainchild of Bjarke Bendtsen, a Dane with a flair for psychedelic dream like pop. The album is his first and was recorded with some fellow Danish friends in a cabin on the coast. With the vocal stylings of Fleet Foxes, the laid back feel and silly lyrics of Devendra Banhart and the pleasant plicking of bells that would make Page France proud, The Migrant is catchy and subdued at the same time.
Like any well put together album, the first song, “The Organ Grinder,” catches your attention. It’s a bit slow at first, but by the end of the song the melody moves along nicely. It is this way for a lot of the album – a slow start, but an awesome fully developed ending complete with violin and trumpet galore. Definitely a must listen for anyone whose has the desire to be a gypsy in the Baltic Lands. And who wouldn’t want that!
Check out "The Organ Grinder"
After three long years of settling into their own sound, Klaxons have released their sophomore album, Surfing The Void. You shouldn’t be surprised by the outburst of melodic lyrics and strong vocal harmonies exploding from the first track. Right away, these 2007 Mercury Award winners show their full potential.
“Echoes” is the perfect re-introduction for Klaxons. They prove they’re back from the very first note. It pulls you in from the first verse and attacks you from all angles. Don’t let this lead you to believe that the rest of the album doesn’t match up to this caliber.
If you want to repel your grandparents, throw on “Surfing The Void,” and listen to the thrashing bursts of guitar and drums that line the song. It is the center of the album mistakenly placed as the third track. It grabs and drags you to the deeper meanings of the album.
Klaxons have smashed their debut with Surfing The Void. It is an artistic breakthrough in the world of indie rock and should be in everyone’s library.
Listen to "Echoes":
So, you're buried in leaves as autumn weaves into the air. A child builds another pile and destroys it in a dive. The air is brisk, but your breaths aren't yet visible. Your face flushes with the breeze. It's almost dinnertime, and Mom's baking pumpkin pie for dessert.
Breathe Owl Breathe is the voice of your father calling you in for supper.
Micah Middaugh's voice croons over natural, minimal orchestration. "Own Stunts" peddles mindfully, if slowly, but builds to a picturesque finale. The band's presence and embodiment of that autumnal feeling feels unique, though it's been done before. There's something refreshing about the band's sound; something stands out. Like a slow gulp of hot apple cider, Breathe Owl Breathe satisfies a seasonal craving, though their promise extends past winter.
Dive into "Own Stunts":
Owen Pallett is a multi-instrumentalist, artist and composer known for his flavorful string compositions. Pallett co-wrote the string compositions for the Arcade Fire‘s first two albums and he also worked on some of the string arrangements for the Arcade fire‘s latest album, The Suburbs. Pallett has also written arrangements for Beruit, Fucked Up, the Mountain Goats and Great Lake Swimmers.
With each album or EP, Pallett always seems to outdo the previously release. This can be said with Pallett‘s second release of 2010, A Swedish Love Story, which clocks in at just under 17 minutes. A Swedish Love Story differs from Pallett‘s earlier release this year, Heartland, in that the songs are more cheerful. The mind-bending string arrangements flow exceptionally well especially on the opening track "A Man with No Ankles."
Check out the lush orchestration of "A Man with No Ankles":
Saying that a dude named José González is Swedish seems incorrect, but we‘ll go with it. In keeping with the tradition of fellow Swedes like Björk and The Tallest Man on Earth, José González has been cranking out some very heartfelt and personal music since the early 2000s. With two studio albums and a handful of EPs, González has already proven his worth as a singer-songwriter, so why wouldn‘t he try his hand at making music with a full, cohesive band?
Junip is that band. And Junip sounds a lot like González‘s solo stuff, as it should. But Junip is also about growth. González has grown—he‘s added a drummer and a keyboardist/organist. The sound has grown—it‘s become fuller and more realized. González‘s warm, earnest vocals howl and hum over ringing nylon-stringed guitars, silent cymbals, handclaps and bright keyboard tickles (imagine Phoenix playing Radiohead‘s “I Might Be Wrong”). There‘s something ominously charming about Junip‘s sun-behind-the-clouds sound. Whatever it is, it‘s bound to captivate.
Listen to the warm strums of "Always":
Hailing from Brooklyn, Sisters has been on the music scene since early 2006. Only two people make up the whole band, with Aaron Pfannebecker on the guitar and vocals and Matt Conboy picking up the drums and keyboard, but they make enough sound and have enough energy to not need anyone else.
With their newest album, Ghost Fits, Sisters shows off their signature sounds: distorted guitar solos, catchy keyboard melodies, hard-hitting drums and vocals that never sound the same in two different songs. Sisters has been compared to the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, incorporating as many different styles and genres of music into their work as they can while still making it sound good. Everything Sisters play is an explosion of noise and energy, and they weren’t far off when they told listeners on their myspace page that their sound could be compared to that of a firecracker.
Listen to "Wake Me Up," off of Sisters' new album:
Screamed, poetic vocals and sharp instrumental intrusions embody the ideals of Les Savy Fav‘s noise rock. Their cavalier speak-singing matched with a grungy, garage band underscore in songs like "Excess Energies" creates nostalgia for teenage rebellion and authoritarian hatred.
In contrast, "High and Unhinged" shows lead singer Tim Harrington‘s attention to quality as the lyrics take precedence over instrumentals. "Calm Down" creates a middle ground between the two, keeping some of the angst from "Excess Energies" while continuing the emphasis on lyrical quality found in "High and Unhinged."
Though Les Savy Fav may come across as cliché, tormented punk rock, Harrington‘s expressive lyrics keep the listener from hitting the "next" button.
Check out the angst-ridden anthem "Excess Energies":
Under the leadership of percussionist Adam Pierce, Mice Parade (an anagram of Pierce‘s name), has been around for over a decade. With members constantly shifting, Mice Parade currently is Pierce, Doug Scharin (HiM), Dylan Cristy (The Dylan Group), Rob Laasko, Caroline Lufkin, Dan Lippel and Josh McKay (Macha). Hailing from New York, the band is ready to release its eighth (and first since 2007) album on Fat Cat Records, What It Means to be Left- Handed.
Mice Parade sounds like Fridge and Modest Mouse mixed with the electronic experiments of The Dylan Group. They‘re influenced heavily by a post-rock genre, incorporating world beat and some electronica influences, too.
The instrumentation and vocals in the first half What It Means to be Left-Handed are dazzling in a "feel-good" sort of way. Beginning with an almost majestic "Kupanda," co-written by the band and Swahili vocalist Somi, the first half is the album‘s finest. Immediately following "Kupanda" is something more inventive and better "In Between Times." Also noteworthy in the first half is "Do Your Eyes See Sparks."
Although What It Means to be Left-Handed challenges boundaries, it‘s with a grace that will not disappoint.
Check out "In Between Times":
After nearly a year of touring with Cursive, the band’s lead singer Tim Kasher retreated to Whitefish, MT to work on his first solo album--The Game of Monogamy. Mixing classic orchestral instruments like the trumpet, harp, cello and piano with the electric guitar and drum, Kasher’s debut transports the listener to a time where 1950s music meets the brash lyrical honesty of the 2000s.
The Game of Monogamy tells the stories of love, lust and regret over a jazzy, ‘50s pop-influenced music. Kasher isn’t afraid to poke fun at society’s take on these subjects. In the tongue-in-cheek, upbeat, cabaret-style “Bad, Bad Dreams,” Kasher sings about lusting after women and cries out “I need a priest.” Other tracks are more sobering tales of lost, faded love.
The Game of Monogamy is a treat for the ears and soul. Kasher doesn’t hold back, giving an unabashed performance the indie world is more than ready for.
Check out "Cold Love":
With two full-length albums already under their belt, the Megafaun trio took a break from touring to record Heretofore, a six song EP that clocks in at just less than 34 minutes.
The first half of the EP breezes through with strong songs that show off the vocal and orchestral talents of all three band members, Bradley Cook, Phillip Cook and Joseph Westerlund.
The second half has two strong efforts with “Volunteers” and “Bonnie’s Song.”
Overall Heretofore is a strong step forward for the band, and considering it was only an exercise in songwriting and recording, we can expect bigger and better things from Megafaun in the future.
Listen to "Volunteers":