Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Drifting off to Sleep Whale...

Coming in at just under a half-hour, Little Brite from Denton, Texas band Sleep Whale is a gorgeous, brief reverie of electroacoustic ambience and lilting melodies on finger-picked guitar with subtle string arrangements. Apparently the band was formerly known as MOM, but I think Sleep Whale is a much more appropriate moniker since it evokes a cozy, warm atmosphere (and let's face it, not everyone's mom brings that to mind). That atmosphere encapsulates their sound as well, which is a deft touch.

No wonder then that they chose to name one of their tracks "Sleep Whale" (a little like Wilco's new album Wilco with a song named "Wilco.")

Sleep Whale from Sleep Whale on Vimeo.

Are whales the new wolves when it comes to band names? Whatevs as long as it sounds as good as this.

You can pre-order their EP from Western Vinyl (who have also released Peter Broderick's work) here, where I found the mp3 for "Josh Likes Me."

Be sure to check out their Myspace page and website.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Snow In June!

While it's entirely too hot for the white stuff in Winnipeg right now, my ears have been treated to some snow recently. I've been listening to the self-titled album from Miike Snow quite a bit in the last little while and it has been challenging Mos Def's The Ecstatic for top spot in the rotation.

Miike Snow - despite being named after a person (Takashi Miike) - is a group.
For a while there was some mystery (a la Clutchy Hopkins) about who or what Miike Snow was, but it has now come out that the group is a collaboration amongst Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson, and Pontus Winnberg. The latter two have produced under the name Bloodshy & Avant for the likes of Madonna and Kylie Minogue, but teaming up with Wyatt they elevate the electro-pop-production they've employed in the past to create a crisp record that truly pops.

Rather than simply take someone else's material and spit polish it, on Miike Snow the trio build these shiny tunes from the ground up. Drum tracks pulse while the noise effects that dance around on the beat are crucial to the mix and not mere embellishments. Speaking of the mix, this album rewards a close headphone listen as there is so much going on within it. Engineers and producers-in-training would be wise to study tracks like "Black & Blue" when things take off near the 45-second mark. Out of control.

In addition to recording their own material, Miike Snow have been busy with remixes and collabos with the likes of Passion Pit, Peter Bjorn & John and Vampire Weekend (how's that for a hipster's who's-who?) and others have been returning the remix favour. Check out the Fake Blood remix of lead-off album track "Animal" here.

You can hear the original and more where that came from.
And don't forget to check out the Miike Snow Myspace page.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sad Songs Say So Much

I hesitate to say this album hit me like a thunderbolt because it's far too quiet an album for comparisons to thunder (though sadness does hang over Life On Earth like ominous thunderclouds). But Jesy Fortino's new album - her third as Tiny Vipers and second released on Sub Pop - did grab my attention on first listen and after several successive listens it has revealed great depths lyrically and the sparse instrumentation has not worn thin.

Fortino's voice is perfectly matched to her love-worn songs - it's tremulous and tender without being fragile. Her heart is broken but her soul is resilient. I can see her being left by a lover and choosing to straighten her shoulders and walk onward alone as she intimates on "Slow Motion":

I see his eyes are fading / a trail of angels / that's gone away / the world is leaving / where's it left you? / the world is leaving me too

I'm tempted to quote the song in its entirety and could easily quote many of the other lyrics on Life On Earth as Fortino's skill as a songwriter is exceptional. Rarely is the heartbreak of another person so heartbreaking to hear. And rarer still is a solo songwriter with a guitar deserving of more than a disinterested coffeehouse audience. My hope is that Tiny Vipers gains a giant audience.

Here's Fortino performing lead-off track "Eyes Like Ours" live at Public Access Media Studios:

Be sure to check out the Tiny Vipers Myspace page and official website.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Not Unlike Turkish Delight...

A while back, I got turned on to Turkish psych-folk band Mogollar - particularly their 1971 album Danses Et Rythmes De La Turquie. It's really brilliant stuff.
One day I was playing it at the station and another host happened to overhear it and we got talking about how great the album was but how brief the songs were. We imagined that catching Mogollar live the songs would likely have been epic jams that were just too brain-meltingly gigantic to fit on an LP back then so they distilled the essence of the songs for release on vinyl. We kinda wished there were 80-minute recordings back then but shrugged our shoulders and went back to enjoying what the band did record.

Then about a month or so ago, the same host mentioned the new Acid Mothers Temple record , Lords Of The Underground: Vishnu and the Magic Elixir and how it basically played like our imaginary Mogollar live show. The album is credited to Acid Mothers Temple with The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. but reading the liner notes it looks like a strictly AMT affair.

Opener "Eleking The Clay" is built atop layers of drone, squelching guitars and all sorts of bells and whistles and it percolates for almost 15 minutes. Forget Tim Horton's Tea - this is the real steeped stuff.

"Sorcerer's Stone Of The Magi" is actually a short piece written by bassist Atsushi Tsuyama so it doesn't melt the brain like the opener, but it's a decent respite before the epic closer, "Vishnu And The Magic Elixir." A 25-minute behemoth, "Elixir" is what would be playing on the spaceport in Kubrick's 2001 if the station had been built by a Turkish contractor working for a German multinational. Maybe. My mind is too liquid to really put together a coherent thought after listening to this record for the umpteenth time.

Don't forget to check out the band's Myspace page and official website.

I couldn't find an mp3 from the new record, or a video either, but here's a live performance worth checking out:

Thanks for reading, now start listening...