Monthly Archives: January 2010

Beach House – Teen Dream

9.6/10

Beach House are an indie/experimental band from Baltimore, MD.

When Beach House came onto the indie scene 4 years ago, they instantly caught my attention. I downloaded their self-titled record straight away after I heard and loved ‘Apple Orchard‘. I loved their original vocal style, their keyboards and most of all, their simplicity. They are quite literally echo-y vocals, keyboards, sprinkled guitars and a drum machine. Thats it. My biggest problem was the fact that nearly every song  was slower-paced, dragged on and on and worst yet, just sounded the same to me. 2 years later, Devotion came out and I decided to give them another chance because I heard and loved their single, ‘Gila‘. Yet again my hopes were quickly dashed by the same slow-paced and little variation of their first album. Sure, there were a couple of noteworthy tracks on each album, but mostly they were full of sweet, echo-y afterthoughts. If only they’d just try a little harder, they could be so awesome. Oh well…

So 2010 rolls around and Teen Dream comes out. At this point, I’m not sure why I’m trying anymore. I mean, they’re just going to let me down again, right? Wrong… and I’ve never been so glad to be wrong. Teen Dream is exactly what I always hoped Beach House could do. The difference this time around only begins with a better variation of slower-paced songs to faster ones. Well, faster for Beach House anyway. They’ve also written songs with brighter melodies and the contrast of their dreamy vocals and guitars to the slightly faster tempos are something I can’t help but admire. Beach House has taken a great, simplistic idea, worked on their melodies, picked apart their song structures and as a result have realized their potential. Its what great bands do… and now Beach House is one of those bands.

A more balanced piece of work that lets Beach House’s best qualities shine… 9.6/10

MP3: Norway

MP3: Lover Of Mine

Pit Er Pat – The Flexible Entertainer

8.1/10

Pit Er Pat are an experimental/electro duo from Los Angeles, CA.

The day I first heard Pit Er Pat they were opening for The New Year @Schubas in Chicago. There was a guy in the back row recording the whole affair and refused to let me sit down because his recording device was taking up that particular seat. Coincidentally, you can hear that bastard’s recording here. Despite that, not a bad show in the least. I was instantly taken with Faye Davis-Jeffries’ delicate vocalizations and playful keyboards, Rob Doran’s aggressive-yet-hooky bass lines and Butchy Fuego’s incredibly precise drumming. Soon after the show, I bought all their material: Their Emergency EP from Overcoat Recordings and a button or 2.

Soon after that show in 2004, Pit Er Pat were signed to Thrill Jockey Records and have put out 5 records since then; each more different than the last. The Flexible Entertainer is no exception to that. With each record that has proceeded Emergency, Pit Er Pat have evolved ever so slightly towards a more experimental sound to a point where today they are nearly indistinguishable from themselves 6 short years ago. With Rob Doran’s departure from the band and Faye Davis-Jeffries’ departure from playing keyboards in favor of the guitar nearly entirely, this is further evidence of the natural transition of their sound. With their last record, High Time, Fuego began experimenting with electronics in his drumming and the evolution to this record has resulted in even more frequent use of those elements. The end result is a record that remains intrinsically Pit Er Pat: Experimental, entirely unpredictable, and worth taking notice of.

Emergency‘s follow-up, Shakey, was easily accessible and easy to love at first listen. They then followed that up with 3D Message: A more experimental-yet-interesting listen that seemed like a natural move towards the aspects they’d more frequently adopt on their next record, Pyramids. Pyramids was by far their darkest record and a clear departure from what I was used to hearing from them. This was then followed by High Time: A dark, yet somewhat electronic-focused record that began their next phase of evolution. This of course leads us to this year’s The Flexible Entertainer. Not nearly as dark anymore and with plenty of hooky beats and guitar leads, this record redefines who they are yet again… and without any argument from me. Every track on this record builds on the next and actually gets better the more it goes on. This is due in part to the simplicity of their songs’ make-up and fusing of ideas from only 2 members, I’d imagine. Sometimes one less member makes it that much easier for a song come together more quickly and more cohesively. The result is Fuego’s tribal-like drumming alongside intricate beats that compliment Davis-Jeffries’ guitar and delicate-as-ever vocals.

Overall, The Flexible Entertainer is quintessential Pit Er Pat: You never see them coming and you wonder who/what they’ll inspire next with their innovation… 8.1/10

Godspot on Myspace

MP3: Water

Aloha – Moonless March

Aloha is finally releasing a new LP after a 2-year hiatus. Home Acres will be available March 9th, but until then, Polyvinyl has seen fit to debut the first single from that record, Moonless March. This song was actually previewed over 2 years ago live on Daytrotter in promotion of their last full-length, Some Echoes. The newer studio version is a welcomed improvement over that recording and I can’t help but get a little excited in anticipation of a new full album. Full review coming soon…

MP3: Moonless March

thelittlefield’s Top 10

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most people don’t know what my favorite music consists of. Since we’re as new as can be here at VS and background is important, I’ve decided to name off my top 10 favorite albums. Now, I know you’ll probably skip down to the top 5 anyway, but choosing just 10 was difficult enough. When you love music as much as I do, you’ll find that just doing 5 isn’t as easy as you think. So without further ado…

10

The Mercury Program – A Data Learn The Language

This is one of the most brilliant instrumental pieces of music I’ve ever heard. The opening track is worth the price of the whole LP alone… then it continues without missing a step.

MP3: Fragile or Possibly Extinct

9

Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary

When I first heard this, I only moderately liked it. In fact, out of every album on this list, its the only one that had to grow on me in order for me to like it as much as I do. I just couldn’t stop listening to it… and I still can’t.

MP3: Grounds For Divorce

8

The Clientele – God Save The Clientele

The moment I heard this, I wasn’t sure why I liked it, I just knew that I did like it. My instincts led me to listen to this more than most anything for more than a couple of years after that. The Clientele at their absolute best.

MP3: Winter On Victoria Street

7

Karate – S/T

This record changed the way I looked at music and was one of the most influential bands of my early 20s. They still have a sentimental place in my heart and library and always will.

MP3: What Is Sleep?

6

Errors – It’s Not Something But It Is Like Whatever

In my opinion, there isn’t anyone who does electronic music much better than Errors. This record is absolute perfection from top to bottom. Brilliant.

MP3: Dance Music

5

Damien Jurado – Rehearsals For Departure

From the first moment I heard this LP, I knew it was going to be one of my favorites. Jurado has the unmistakable knack for crafting songs that sound like they were written generations ago. Rehearsals is simply one of his best.

MP3: Ohio

4

Faunts – High Expectations/Low Results

Ethereal dream pop that blends keyboards, guitars and vocals into some of the most unforgettable songs I’ve ever heard. Beautiful is an understatement.

MP3: Memories Of Places We’ve Never Been

3

Bjork – Post

If there was one album by Bjork that keeps me coming back to her as much as I do, its this one. Bjork is a musical genius and you can hear it in every beat and note on Post if you don’t believe me. An easy decision.

MP3: Hyperballad

2

Tortoise – Its All Around You

To me, Its All Around You embodies exactly what my standards for instrumental music are: Smooth, experimentalist, visual, innovative. Perfect and absolutely captivating.

MP3: Crest

1

The Radio Dept. – Pet Grief

Theres a reason that this is my top album– It combines everything that I love about music: Airy vocals, synthesizers, moving lyrics, distant guitars and emotion that drips from every note and vocal on this masterpiece. You couldn’t possibly convince me otherwise.

MP3: I Wanted You To Feel The Same

Hooray For Earth – Momo

8.4/10

Hooray For Earth are a synth pop outfit based in New York City and Cambridge, MA.

Though I admit that I’m a newcomer to Hooray For Earth’s music, I’m no less impressed with their latest release, Momo. Combining a sound somewhere between Deerhunter and Foreign Born, Hooray For Earth have seemed to have carved a niche of their own among other indie pop experimentalists. Indie rock/pop has had quite a few contributors over the years, but while more popular bands have opted to drift towards a more experimental sound (Animal Collective, Atlas Sound), Hooray For Earth have opted to stay focused primarily on their ability to craft poppy, synth-driven songs with catchy melodies without compromising their indie-cred.

Speaking of indie-cred, my only complaint about Momo is the stand-alone, Scaling. Scaling (track 4 of 5) is officially their indie-cred song and incidentally, the worst thing about Momo. Now, I don’t really feel like berating the whole EP because of one lousy track, but it is after all 20% of the record and the reason I couldn’t score this closer to a 9 or 10. But despite nearly falling on their face and effectively losing me as a listener completely, they recover nicely with Form– a fun, anthem-like song that, just like all great closers, leaves you wanting more.

Even though Momo came in at the end of 2009, its nonetheless one of last year’s best synth-pop albums… 8.4/10

MP3: Surrounded By Your Friends

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