Friday, March 3, 2017

Astrid Swan - From The Bed And Beyond

From The Bed And Beyond is a profoundly personal album on which Finland's Astrid Swan tells of her journey over the past several years, becoming a mother and then fighting breast cancer.  It chronicles three years of illness and recovery, and it is an album that might never have made it to our ears had the battle with cancer turned out differently.  But it has arrived, and it is magnificent.  The emotions are raw and sincere.  Fear, hope, loss, grief, hope, uncertainty and anger appear seemingly as three dimensional elements of the songs.  But it is all beautifully rendered with nuanced performances from the players, sophisticated arrangements and production, and, most of all, Swan's gorgeous vocals.

Swan is a performer that possesses the theatrical charisma to captivate her audience.  The musical smarts to hit the pop hooks and the technical competence to arrange it all perfectly.  But the triumph here isn't Grammy-level perfection.  It is the presentation of a personal story in a manner that is accessible to and appreciated by all listeners.  You can stream several songs below, including the powerful "Song of Fear", written by Swan about learning of her cancer diagnosis.  You can explore the entire album at the Bandcamp link, as well.  My favorites are "Song Of Fear", "Queen Of Broken Hearts", and "Special Ones".

In addition to Astrid Swan, performers include Alina Toivanen, Mikael Hakkarainen, Veli Kauppinen, Johannes Salomaa, and Emmi Kujanp√§√§.  Swan engineered, mixed and produced the album, with additional engineering and mixing by Nick Triani.  From The Bed And Beyond is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.








Website
Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for From The Bed And Beyond
Soundcloud
Soliti Music

Sodastream - Little By Little


Welcome back, Sodastream!  After a decade of meditation and reflection (I made that up as I have no personal knowledge of how either of them spent that ten years), the Melbourne indie pop duo consisting of Karl Smith and Pete Cohen is back with Little By Little.  The album contains ten graceful, melodic, acoustic songs of the sort the band delivered in their previous four albums, earning them fans at home and abroad.   And don't be fooled by the "acoustic" tag; these songs have a bristling energy and drive, as if they've been straining to leave the songwriters' heads and be heard.  Moreover, Smith and Cohen have augmented the proceedings with guest musicians (including some horns) and vocalists, adding to the vibrancy and scope of the recordings.

There should always be a place in your life for albums like Little By Little.  It is available now via Sodastream Music.  See the Bandcamp link below.

And here is hoping that we don't have to wait as long for the next album.







Website
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp for Little By Little

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Meursault - I Will Kill Again

Neil Pennycook, as we've noted here on several occasions, can rock very hard.  But the man is versatile.   On his latest album as Meursault, the ominously-but-not-entirely-seriously-named I Will Kill Again, Pennycook instead provides a gorgeous tapestry of emotion-packed, piano-driven songs.  Perhaps more remarkable is that the album had been meant to be a rock album, with the songs first drafted several years ago, but when Neil's band dissolved he recast his creations.  However, even in singer songwriter mode Pennycook deals in multiple textures, from the dark currents of his themes, to his biting phrasing and delivery, to his detailing of the arrangements.  His vocals are both plaintive yet rich and expressive, and as the man plays the piano, the piano plays with the listener's head and heart.  If you don't like music that can accomplish that, I don't know how to help you.

In addition to Pennycook, other players and vocalists on the album are Liam Chapman, Faith Eliott, Alex Livingstone, and Reuben F. Taylor.  I Will Kill Again is out now in vinyl, CD and digital formats via Edinburgh's Song By Toad Records.





Website
Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for I Will Kill Again
Song By Toad Records

"Black Ice" by Delay Trees

It may be too early to tell you that one of our favorite guitar pop albums of the year will be Let Go by Finnish band Delay Trees.  Oh, it seems we just told you.  The details will wait until closer to the album's release date of March 24.  But since we already teased you, it is only fair to bring you the glorious sounds of album track "Black Ice".  The opening line is "I'm Amazed We Survived", which could represent the thoughts of many that have driven on frozen roads.  But the line here also refers to the band and their personal stories.  Put on your headphones and give yourself a treat.

Delay Trees are Rami Vierula, Lauri Jarvinen, Sami Korhonen, and Onni Oikari.  Let Go will be released by Helsinki label Soliti Music.



Website
Facebook
Twitter
Soliti Music

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Dancing" by Djustin

Sparkling, surging synth pop with gorgeous vocals - that's Sweden/Detroit duo Djustin, and we love their sound.  Their first album is titled Voyagers and it will be out in early May via Stockholm's Labrador Records.  But Djustin is too nice to make us wait that long for a taste, so they have shared "Dancing".   The song does, indeed, dance, and so do we while we listen to it.  Out of kindness, we keep our curtains drawn.

Djustin is Johan Andergard and Rose Suau.





Website
Facebook
Twitter
Labrador Records

Ibibio Sound Machine - Uyai

If you like the bright pop/rock sound and poly rhythms of West African High Life, electronic dance music, Afrobeat, and pulsing, grinding funk, London's Ibibio Sound Machine delivers it all simultaneously in fine style on their new album Uyai.  Led by London-born Nigerian-raised Eno Williams and a proficient and energetic supporting cast, the music is exuberant, enticing and, ultimately, sexy.  Most of the lyrics are voiced in the language of the region of Ibibio in southwest Nigeria, but we don't think that affects enjoyment of the music at all.  As we head into spring, this is a non-stop party soundtrack as we needed.

Uyai is out Friday, March 3, via Merge Records.






Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Even Love" (video) by CHINAH

We have been following the Danish dreampop/electronic/R&B trio CHINAH for some time now.  We have learned that their 7-track EP Hints will be released on March 10, following their appearance at SxSW in Austin, Texas.  New track "Even Love" perfectly showcases their smooth but sincere style.

CHINAH is Fine Glindvad (vocals), Simon Kjaer (guitar) and Simon Andersson (piano/synths).  The band was formed in 2014.





The Ocean Party - US Tour Tape (and US Tour dates)

With multiple songwriters and vocalists, Melbourne's The Ocean Party produces some of the most consistently interesting and excellent indie pop on the scene today.  The boys have brought their party to the Unites States, and to highlight the goods on offer they have released their US Tour Tape as a $4 digital release via Emotional Response Records.  It is good stuff, and we highly recommend grabbing a copy.  Of course, we also suggest checking out the tour dates listed below to see if you are fortunate enough to be in the path of The Ocean Party.  When You Motor Away intends to be at the Seattle Show, which we understand also includes local standouts Zebra Hunt.

The Ocean Party are Jordan Thompson, Liam Halliwell, Curtis Wakeling, Lachlan Denton, Zac Denton and Crowman.



Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for US Tour Tape
Emotional Response Records page for US Tour Tape

TOUR DATES 
FEBRUARY 
22TH - LONG BEACH, CA – PIKE BAR 
23TH - TUCSON, AZ – SKY BAR 
25TH – PHOENIX, AZ – LOST LEAF 
28TH – AUSTIN, TX – CHEER UP CHARLIE 
MARCH 
2ND – NEW ORLEANS, LA – GASA GASA 
3RD – NASHVILLE, TN – TBA 
4TH – LEXINGTON, KT – BEST FRIEND BAR 
5TH – MEMPHS, TN – THE HI TONE 
9TH – MANHATTAN, NY – SHRINE 
10TH – BROOKLYN, NY – BAR MATCHLESS 
12TH – PROVIDENCE, RI – MACHINES WITH MAGNETS 
14TH – CLEVELAND, OH – HAPPY DOG, EUCLID 
15TH – CHICAGO, IL - SCHUBAS 
19TH – FLAGSTAFF, AZ – FIRECREEK COFFEE 
21ST – SEATTLE, WA – VICTORY LOUNGE 
22ND – BOISE, ID – TREE FORT FESTIVAL 
23RD – TACOMA, WA – KUPS 
24TH – PORTLAND, OR – TURN TURN TURN 
25TH – DAVIS, CA – ARMADILLO MUSIC 
26TH – OAKLAND, CA – THE WHITE HORSE

Monday, February 27, 2017

Beloved Elk - Distractions

It seems to us that Distractions, the new album from Melbourne's Beloved Elk comes to us from the inside to the outside.  By that we mean that the duo takes their internalized feeling of dislocation from society, anxiety, uncertainty and alienation and then present it too those of us on the outside.  Their approach is direct, unapologetic an undisguised.  The result is bold, yet intimate.  It also is breathtakingly good.

One of the hallmarks of Beloved Elk is balance.  For every moment of dissonance there is a sweet hook, riff or vocal,  for every hushed or spare moment, there is a swelling sound or thunderous crash, for every moment of abandon there is a withdrawn sob.  But like life, lines get blurred.  Veins of darkness shoot through the light, and spots of sunshine brighten dark anxieties.  The band takes you on their sonic and psychological journey, and your only job is to relax, learn, and enjoy.

Beloved Elk is Amy Wright (lyrics/vocals/guitars/keys/bass) and Tina Nguyen (drums/bass/keys/guitar/vocals).  Distractions is out now via Listen Records in digital and limited CD/cassette formats.







Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for Distractions
Listen Records



"Don't Ask Many Questions" by Former Bullies, new LP Stranger out now

Former Bullies, the Manchester, UK project headed by Nick Ainsworth, aren't prolific in the recording studio, but their music always is welcome.  Their sweet spot is warm, accessible guitar pop with a touch of melancholy -- simple but affecting.  They remind me a bit of Liverpool's The La's and San Francisco's The Mantles, both of whom are in regular rotation in my collection.  The band's new single is "Don't Ask Many Questions", which also appears on Stranger, their latest album.  The single is available now, and you can take it for a test listen on the sweet video below.  The album is out now in digital and vinyl formats via CF Records and Towed By The Ghost Records.  See the Bandcamp links below.  I highly recommend the single and the album.  Stream along, and I think you'll agree.

In addition to Ainsworth (guitar/vocals), Former Bullies are Matthew Taylor (bass) and Tom Settle (drums/guitar/vocals).




Former Bullies on Tumblr
Former Bullies on Twitter
CF Records' Bandcamp for Stranger
Towed By The Ghost's Bandcamp for Stranger