Feb
13


Monomaniacs Vol. 1 is the sixth album from Chris Joss, who is originally from France. It’s another highly entertaining instrumental affair from Joss. No lyrics here, just 12 awesome, funk-influenced, 70’s-vibed cuts. There’s enough sounds mixed in to keep anyone occupied for a while trying to pick through all the layers. There’s even some Indian sitar thrown in on the track “Kali Flowers”. Highly recommended for anyone who’s got a soul and likes to groove.

Just take a look at the album cover, you’ll know if this is the kind of music for you or not. And if you still don’t know after looking, try it out anyway.

www.myspace.com/chrisjoss
chrisjoss.free.fr

Feb
07

When I first heard of this album, it was described as “electronic.” I haven’t been listening to a lot of “electronic” music lately but the cover art was too amazing for me to pass this up without a listen. The artwork was made by having a number of artists each illustrate what they saw after listening to one track off of the album and the end result for the cover combined all of the images. Very cool stuff.

Now that I’ve talked about the cover, how to describe the music? It is electronic, but there are also guitars on this record. I’m sure this music could be played live by a band of talented musicians. The music doesn’t feel overprocessed like so many electronic records I sat through last year. Instead, it feels lush and warm: a jungle of melodic sounds. For over a year I have been searching for music in the same realm as B. Fleischmann’s The Humbucking Coil: great beats, great melodies, no lyrics. This album illustrates what I’ve been looking for.

There’s a number of great songs on this album so it’s hard to pick a favorite one. I love how “Falling Asleep To The Glow Of The Television” makes me feel like I’m playing a classic Nintendo video game. “We Can Live In The Forest” is upbeat and would be suitable to play for a whirlwind romance with the couple falling in love. The album was made with Ernest’s wife in mind and this track probably has something to do with their love. “When You Are Lost I Will Find You” is the epitome of the B. Fleischmann chilled-out vibe I’ve been searching for. I could go on and on about each of these tracks and the way they make me feel and think but instead I’ll just recommend that you have a listen to the album and see what you feel. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Been Meaning To Tell You is scheduled to be released on February 9, on Exponential Records. Exponential Records was founded in 2002 by Gonzales and DJ Jester the Filipino Fist (I’m not making that name up). This is Gonzales’s second or third full-length album, I can’t figure out which, and he has also released music under the moniker Theory Of Everything. Now go get this album, why are you even still reading this post?!

www.myspace.com/theoryofeverything
www.beenmeaningtotellyou.com
www.antipop.net/expblog/(Exponential Records site)

Feb
06


My recent interest in pop-punk bands (see: Blink 182) led me to pick up the latest release from this Minneapolis band. Referred to as “a leading light in the punk-pop genre” on the AllMusic site, I figured I might as well try them out. My Dinosaur Life is the band’s fourth full-length album and their first for Columbia Records. It is, indeed, pop music. I don’t know if I would necessarily call this pop-punk because it really doesn’t have a lot of punk rock in it; it is closer to pop-rock than pop-punk.

The album isn’t bad by any means and I listened to it three times through without noticing. Herein lies the problem with this album. There isn’t anything that stands out about it; despite my repeated listens, I couldn’t tell you any of the lyrics or what any of the hooks are. Maybe with thirty listens, I’d actually remember something about the album. As it stands, there isn’t anything too memorable on here for me. I guess I liked the song “A Lifeless Ordinary (Need A Little Help)” best but I could be wrong since I can’t remember how the other songs go.

www.myspace.com/motioncitysoundtrack
www.motioncitysoundtrack.com

Jan
31


Savvy Orange Juice Party Noise readers may recall that in 2008, I reviewed the latest album by the Cold War Kids, Loyalty To Loyalty. If you don’t remember, I will sum up the review: I did not like that release from these four boys from Fullerton, California.

Fast forward a little over a year; I find myself with a copy of the Cold War Kids’ latest EP, Behave Yourself. I decide to give it a shot because it’s just a tad over 14 minutes in length; I might as well throw it on while I do some chores. I don’t know if my taste has changed since that last album review, or if they have just gotten a lot better, but I find this to be a decent release. Many of the same points I raised on that last review appear again on this one but in a different context; they are strengths instead of weaknesses.

The sound on here is one of soulful, indie rock. It seems like Nathan Willett has gotten comfortable with the sound of his own singing voice and is no longer trying to ape Thom Yorke (he still sounds like the dude from Ghostland Observatory, but not in an annoying way). He injects emotion into his words and when he sings, “Lord, have mercy on me!” in “Sermons,” it sounds like he means it. While listening to this EP, I feel like the CWK have turned into a less-Southern, more soul-influenced version of the Kings of Leon. Surely that will be to their benefit as the Kings are currently on top of the music world, and the songs on this EP are better than the songs on the Kings’ last release, Only By The Night.

It’s good to give bands second chances; they just might surprise you with how much they’ve grown into their sound.

www.myspace.com/coldwarkids
www.coldwarkids.com

Jan
30


NOVELS is a project conceived by several Canadian dudes who range in popularity in the indie music scene. Personally, I only recognized the names Graham Wright and Luke LaLonde. The other three guys are Will Currie, Dean Marino, and Jay Sadlowski. In January 2009, these lads and some other musically-inclined people got together in Toronto and recorded an EP in one recording session. The end result, which is now available, is NOVELS.

Consisting of five songs, NOVELS clocks in at under 12 minutes.

-The first song, “This Wouldn’t Be The Last Time,” is two minutes of bouncy, jangly pop music. Very catchy, this opening song is probably my favorite of the bunch.

-The next track, “Mr. Foster’s Teenage Daughter,” reminds me of 50’s pop and is a song you might hear for a slow-dance at a prom. Great piano intro and I love the harmonies (“ooh-wah-ooh”) on this song.

-“Big Run” is the third track and I’m certain this is sung by Luke LaLonde of Born Ruffians. I’d recommend this track for people who loved Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s first album.

-“Record in Hand” is much slower, tempo-wise, than the previous tracks. Laid-back lounge indie-pop.

-The EP closes with “No Hard Feelings,” which is sung by Tokyo Police Club’s keyboardist, Graham Wright (I’ve just discovered that Graham has some solo music out which I hope to review on here in a future post). This last song is similar to the other four songs: jangly pop that goes by so quickly that even the track’s runtime of 1 minute, 44 seconds, seems exaggerated.

My overall impression of these five songs is that it is a cohesive set of indie pop which everyone should listen to at least once. The good news is that NOVELS is available as a free download from the guys who made it. They are interested in having people burn copies of the music and give them away to other people so that their music may be heard. They also had a small number of limited-edition NOVELS notebooks with cd’s included made up which they will give away for free. It’s a great way to promote not just the music on NOVELS, but also their respective bands, and I wish them well in doing so. Now go download the EP and give it a listen.

www.okaynovels.com

Jan
29


The debut from the West Palm Beach, Florida band. I got this album to review a few weeks ago but was delayed by other projects so I haven’t been able to listen until now. In those short few weeks, it seems to me that the band has been labeled as the next big thing and have gotten a lot more popular.

I finally found the time to listen to Astro Coast and I hear a blend of garage pop/psychedelia/shoegaze/rock. I understand that “Swim” is the album’s single and that isn’t shocking; it’s catchy and has a simple chorus that you’ll be able to sing along to before the end of the song. I can see the big appeal to this album: it combines the pop sensibilities of a band like Vampire Weekend with the fuzz of The Jesus and Mary Chain. While so many bands are choosing to go one way (indie pop) or the other (shoegaze/experimental), Surfer Blood choose to straddle the line.

Final impression: I think some of the songs are great (album opener “Floating Vibes” and the aforementioned “Swim” make for a fine 1-2 punch) but by the end of the album the songs all seem to blend into one. I wish there was a bit more variety, is what I’m alluding to. Even so, decent.

www.myspace.com/surferblood
www.surferblood.blogspot.com

Jan
17

What don’t you already know about Fall Out Boy? They formed in 2001 just outside of Chicago and From Under The Cork Tree was released in 2005. It was their third full-length and first for a major label (Island Records). This album features their breakout single, “Sugar We’re Going Down”, three minutes and 49 seconds of pure emo-pop bliss. Their bass player, Pete Wentz, became the dude everyone loved to hate (Remember when he jumped off a speaker and nobody caught him and he came crashing down to the ground?! Yeah.), and overshadowed all of the other band members (Wait, there were other guys in the band besides Mr. Wentz?). I’m sure you know all about Fall Out Boy (FOB) already.

You: “So why are you writing a post about them then? The album is four years old and everybody already knows if they like it or not.”

Me: “Well, you see, when I first heard “Sugar We’re Going Down”, I was in my first year of college. I remember seeing the music video on mtvU (It was a channel you could get on my college campus. It frequently was blacked out or the picture was messed up. But when you could see it, they actually played music videos! It was a novel idea for the MTV network). “What the heck? That kid has antlers!” I thought to myself. “Oh my, look at how they dress and the makeup and OH MY! They must be EMO. I can’t like this, it is surely uncool.”

But that first big single stuck with me, and occasionally I would call it up on youtube to watch the video and hear the song. I never paid much attention to their other singles, but “Sugar We’re Going Down”, man, what a great song. I was cruising last.fm a few days ago, and found Fall Out Boy’s new album (Folie à Deux) on their most-played of 2009 list. I acquired From Under The Cork Tree and I put on that much-loved song. I can’t help but play air guitar to those few chunky chords that come after the chorus. I am done being “cool” and I don’t care if you think it means I have crappy musical taste (Because musical taste is all subjective anyway so what does it matter? I’m sure you like some crappy things too, right?), I like that song. Say what you will about the band; damn, it’s a catchy single. It’s no wonder every teenage girl in America was head over heels for this band.

I’ve listened to the rest of the album, and there are a few duds (“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)” and “I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written about Me” come to mind) but there are also a few good ones (“I’ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)” comes to mind). Towards the end of my listen some of the songs seemed to run together, but if I had to grade this album, I’d give it a B-. Most of it is poppy rock with stereotypical emo vocals (you know ’em when you hear ’em, is all I can say). Some of it’s good, some of it’s eh, but “Sugar We’re Going Down” is a song I will always appreciate.”

There you have it. This post has a lot of parentheses, but I think the gratuitous parenthetical usage would make Fall Out Boy proud (or irritated that I am sort of making fun of their song titles in a passive-aggressive manner).

www.myspace.com/falloutboy
www.falloutboyrock.com

Jan
16

Pants Yell! are from Cambridge, near Boston, and they formed in 2003. In the past they had a girl drummer but it seems the trio is now comprised of all dudes. If I understand correctly, Received Pronunciation is their fourth full-length and their first release for Slumberland Records. I saw this band perform in Rochester in 2006 and while I was most impressed with their bass player’s good looks, I also recall them having a very poppy, “twee” sound. That sound is present on this album so I must remember their gig well enough. The nine-song album clocks in at just over 26 minutes but nonetheless is packed chock full of upbeat indie pop. The last song on this album, “To Take”, is probably my favorite as it has a very nice instrumental ending. The vocalist is kind of wimpy but I suppose that is to be expected with this type of music. If you like wussy pop music you’d probably like this, it’s good.

www.myspace.com/pantsyellmusic

Jan
10

Let me preface this post by saying that I love Spoon. They are the band that I hear whenever I think of my freshman year of college. I fell in love with them that year and I was constantly listening to them. During my junior year of college I got to see them play in Austin, their hometown, at SXSW 2008. The crowd was huge, perhaps because it was a free show, but also no doubt because more and more people were discovering just how good Spoon is. And damn they are good.

Transference is the seventh studio full-length from Spoon. Spoon have been hailed as the kings of minimal rock ‘n’ roll, and this album has them maintaining that stance. The music isn’t minimal like lo-fi music is often said to be; it is minimal because they don’t heap on layers of unnecessary sounds. This results in more stripped down songs than you might normally hear from a ‘rock band’, but that doesn’t mean it’s not rock and roll. I don’t see any of the songs on here being a breakout hit like “The Underdog” off of their last album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, was, but the 11 songs on here are still satisfying and show a band who is known for its consistency continue that trend. While I’m pleased with this release, after only a few listens, it doesn’t knock things out of the park for me just yet.

www.myspace.com/spoon
www.spoontheband.com

Jan
09

I’m sure there’s already a million blog posts out there about this album, so I may as well throw in my two cents. I have somehow managed to avoid all reviews regarding this album, perhaps by unintentionally avoiding all music sites lately, so my opinion remains untarnished.

Contra is the sophomore album from everyone’s favorite Ivy-League indie popsters, Vampire Weekend. It is very sonically similar to their self-titled debut album, though this release has them experimenting with new effects and faster tempos. The album shows a slightly more mature sound but it is not as instantly hummable as their first. I think that with time, however, it will be appreciated more than their first. It’s pretty great. Overall I like this album and it will be a good way to keep warm during this cold winter we are having – it is sweet, summery pop music, with just enough complexity to make sure you’re not bored but aren’t overwhelmed either.

www.myspace.com/vampireweekend
www.vampireweekend.com

Nov
15

Yes, I know that this album was released in 2003. However, recently, it’s been playing a lot while I’m at home so I figured I might as well write about it. I don’t know what it is about Blink 182 that makes me like this album so much, but I love it. It might be that Travis Barker, whether you love him or hate him, is one of the best drummers in recent years. His drumming is intricate, adding a whole new layer to the music and fleshing out the sound for the trio. It might be that they have two different vocalists, Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge, who can alternate between sounding heartbroken, angry, giddy, and a wide range of other emotions. It might be that the simple lyrical content actually makes the songs stronger; they are easy to relate to and won’t make you scratch your head wondering what they really mean. You just listen and bob your head and hope that the energy in these songs is transferred to you by some sort of cosmic intervention. Or it might be that these three guys write some very catchy pop songs which I just can’t stop listening to. Yeah, that might be it.

www.myspace.com/blink182
www.blink182.com

Oct
14


The first new Chromeo song since the 2007 release of their sophomore album, Fancy Footwork! The sound of “Night By Night” is instantly recognizable as Chromeo: upbeat, synth-driven pop/electrorock with Dave One’s smooth vocals and Pee Thug contributing vocals through his vocoder. Lots of fun; you will surely want to put this on at your next dance party. If this song is any indication, their next album is going to be even more awesome than their past two (even if you didn’t think that could be possible).

www.myspace.com/chromeo
www.chromeo.net

Oct
11


While you may not recognize the name, if you’re familiar with the bands on CMJ’s charts, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the work of Todor Kobakov already. Born in Bulgaria, Kobakov emigrated to Canada when he was sixteen with many of his family members (his mother stayed in Bulgaria). Currently based out of Toronto, Kobakov has had his string arrangements featured on the second album by Stars, Set Yourself On Fire, and has played keys for Luke Doucet, Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, Small Sins, and many others. Pop Music is his solo debut and showcases his chillingly beautiful classical piano compositions. The album is instrumental save for two songs, “Carpe Diem,” which features the vocals of Emily Haines, and “Loving Hands,” on which Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio provides vocals. If you enjoy piano, there’s a very good chance you will enjoy this album. Kobakov is a very talented musician and this release definitely demonstrates that.

www.myspace.com/todorkobakov
http://todor.ca

Oct
02

Poetry of the Deed
Born in Bahrain, the London-raised punk rock troubadour presents his third full-length album. He’s released several other solo EPs and compilations and has played in the bands Kneejerk and Million Dead as well. He plays punk rock with mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation and meaningful lyrics. The sound is similar to that of Billy Bragg. I highly recommend this album, it’s great.

http://www.myspace.com/frankturner
www.frank-turner.com/

May
01


From Seattle, this is the debut album for Andy Werth and his band. The sound is pop rock/power-pop/rock with male vocals that are reminiscent of the sound of Aqueduct’s. I heard Andy’s Seeing Stars EP in 2008 and really liked that and I like this album, too. Fun, carefree tunes and many of the tracks have horns. Recommended if you like Aqueduct, Sloan, the New Pornographers.

www.myspace.com/andywerth
www.andywerth.com

Apr
30


California 3-piece gives us their fourth full-length. Fun, upbeat punk with ska influences. Recommended if you like new-school punk and The Clash (“Sad Story” even seems to have a reference to the Clash).

www.myspace.com/leftalonepunx
www.leftalone.net

Apr
29


Second full-length for the Californian band. They might be on the Side One Dummy label, but they’re far from your average punk band; they combine elements of folk, country, classic rock, punk, and more to create a highly enjoyable sound. They have toured with bands like Flogging Molly, Dirty Pretty Things, and Gogol Bordello. Their singer often made me think of what Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler might sound like if he had grown up in the Southern United States. Cool stuff.

www.myspace.com/dustyrhodes
www.dustyrhodesmusic.com

Apr
28


San Francisco band’s debut. Reverby 60’s influenced pop/garage rock/pscyh with male vocals and female backing vox. Overall really cool. Recommended if you like Thee Oh Sees, Raveonettes, and similar bands.

www.myspace.com/thefreshonlys
thefreshandonlys.com

Apr
27


Ripper I, Ripper II, Ripper III, and Ripper IV are from Sardinia, Italy. Their newest album (to date) packs twelve songs into thirty-three minutes of kick-ass garage punk/rock, a bit of harmonica for some added awesomeness, and Ripper IV spewing out lyrics that are difficult to decipher. They seem like the kind of guys who might spit on you from the stage, then have a beer with you at the bar afterwards and laugh about it. Then somehow they would wind up going home with the girlfriends of you and your friends. They’re just that cool.

www.myspace.com/therippersinaction
http://spazioinwind.libero.it/therippers/index.html

Apr
24


This is the third album (and second for Wicked Cool) for the all-female band from Oslo, Norway. They play a mix of powerpop and garage rock with lots of girl-group harmonizing. Some of the artists they remind me of are the girls in the B-52’s, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and the Pipettes – but the Cocktail Slippers are unlike the Pipettes because they play their own music, and have cooler names (Sugar Cane, Modesty Blaze, Rocket Queen, Squirrel and Bella Donna). Little Steven wrote the title track for the album and also “Heard You Got A Thing For Me” and contributed some bongo playing; this band is also further proof that he picks the coolest bands on the planet for his Wicked Cool label. Awesome!

www.myspace.com/cocktailslippers
www.cocktailslippers.com

Apr
23


Art Brut Vs. Satan is the British quintet’s third full-length; this one is produced by Frank Black aka Black Francis aka Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV aka the lead singer for the Pixies. We get eleven songs of fun, upbeat British rock/post-punk goodness filled with witty lyrics (many referencing other bands, songs, and music in general, along with several other pop culture references) that are delivered in singer Eddie Argos’ trademark deadpan talking style. I’ve liked this band since I heard them in 2005 on their debut, and this album is no exception to their awesomeness.

www.myspace.com/artbrut
www.artbrut.org.uk

Apr
22


Born in France but raised in Los Angeles, here comes Fitz (and the Tantrums). This EP of 5 songs is said to have been recorded in Fitz’s living room using only one microphone and written about an ex-girlfriend. The sound is one of poppy soul with a retro vibe that recalls the 60’s heyday of soul. Even the album cover is made to look like it’s old. It’s a cool record and the songs are put together nicely.

www.myspace.com/fitzsoulmusic

Apr
21


The Swedish trio’s third album, following their debut, Writer’s Block and their instrumental album, Seaside Rock. This album is more on the experimental side of indie pop as they branch out into sparser, stripped down songs that still exhibit a decisive 60’s pop influence. Nothing on here is as poppy as their hits “Young Folks” and “Amsterdam,” but there is still plenty of good stuff to be had.

www.myspace.com/peterbjornandjohn
www.peterbjornandjohn.com

Apr
20


The fourth full-length for the Brooklyn-born, Canadian-raised quartet. This set seems very polished and glossy to me (maybe a bit too much?) and is quite heavy on the synths. They’re still in fine form and Emily Haines sure does have a good voice, but there aren’t many songs to dance to, which makes me sad.

www.myspace.com/metric
www.ilovemetric.com

Apr
17


Third full-length for the Canadian duo of Jeremy Greenspan and Matthew Didemus. It’s really laid-back electropop with lots of blips, bleeps, and bloops. The vocals are sung/whispered in a manner so that they sound very intimate. Recommended if you like Hot Chip’s slower tracks. The album title references the abstract animated film of Norman McLaren, a pioneering animator and also an electronic composer.

www.myspace.com/juniorboys
www.juniorboys.net