10 Dec 2010 @ 2:00 PM 

Not a whole lot is has been happening lately, yet at the same time there is still plenty to talk about. I admit that I’m a little late to the party on a couple of these releases, but I couldn’t resist sharing them anyway.

Small Black: Photojournalist/Sun Was High (So Was I)– As I mentioned a couple of entries ago, one of this year’s unexpectedly great records was Small Black’s New Chain. If you bought your version on iTunes, you got the exclusive cover of Best Coast‘s Sun was High (So Was I). Now if you were patient or just liked the song especially, you can get it on a 7inch from Jagjaguwar along with Photojournalist, a favorite from the album. The original is a pretty good song and it was nice to hear an alternate take on it. But, the 7inch presumably only comes on regular black vinyl and you can still get it almost anywhere without having to pay the entire $6. So unless you’re a gigantic fan, simply find a download and enjoy… like right here… 8.1/10

Sun Was High (So Was I)

The Get Up Kids: There Are Rules– Some years ago, a little emo band(when emo was a new and despised term) broke through the indie scene with a unique take on post-punk and heartfelt vocals. Multiple records and years later, The Get Up Kids had amassed a hefty library. I honestly started to care a little less after On A Wire, the first record that they began to walk away from post-punk towards more of an indie sound. By the time Guilt Show came out, you could say that I wasn’t very happy. More accurately, you could say I was irate… and I wasn’t alone. At a show after On A Wire was released that I attended, the crowd was completely still during their new songs. However, when they played songs from earlier in their career, the crowd was visibly and audibly elated. Now, maybe I’m just not privy to their little strategy and maybe they were just trying to build up to their great songs, but I doubt it. THANKFULLY, now that they’ve reunited, all indications from their Daytrotter session a year ago to the single that they’ve released recently are all pointing to them picking up(appropriately, might I add) where Something To Write Home About left off and should have led them to: A modernization of their already great sound. There Are Rules drops on January 25th and though I admit that 11+ years is a hell of a long time to wait for an adequate follow-up, at this point I think I’ll see any progress in the right direction as a complete success… wait, did I just tip my hand?

Regent’s Court

Pararelevant

Beach Fossils: Face It/Distance– If you’re not familiar with Beach Fossils’ sound and you have a fair grasp on indie rock, just think Surfer Blood meets Beach House with vocals similar to Small Black. If I’ve totally lost you, stay with me for a second. Earlier this year, they released a full length album that was a bit more lo-fi rock than this, but not much else was dramatically different. This is simply a 2-song single they released as of late and being that this was a couple of pretty songs AND a slight improvement percussively over their LP, I felt a well deserved bit of attention was due. If they continue to grow like they already seem to have done over the past few months, I think they’re really going to surprise us all…8.0/10

Face It

Psychic Powers: Glide and Brighter– I recently stumbled upon this band looking for something electronic and I’m glad that I did. Psychic Powers specialize in having smooth, airy transitions that they make with synthesizers and vocals over dance beats. Its actually pretty similar to what The Depreciation Guild does, but with more of an emphasis on beats. The 2-man outfit sounds remarkably tight for being a project carried out between a band separated by the Atlantic between New Zealand and Los Angeles. They’ve only released a small handful of songs up to this point, but most are available for free here. Glide’s title track is much better than Blue Icing, the B-side. Its definitely an 80s throwback song(Blue Icing), much to its detriment. It comes a little too close to the Pet Shop Boys to be considered original. Brighter features acoustic guitars and airy vocals and as a departure from their other work, no beats. To round out their other song, they give us an artfully acoustic version of a song from their Frozen EP. I’m somewhat skeptical that they’ll continue to abandon dance beats in favor of acoustically-driven songs, but being that Psychic Powers seem to release singles and EPs with semi-regularity, I’m more than optimistic that they’ll continue to improve with each coming release. Now, that they’ve solved the Atlantic problem in premise, they just need to solve it long enough in practice to amass a tour…8.0/10 and 9.0/10

Glide

Brighter

 04 Nov 2010 @ 10:59 PM 

I know I don’t write actual reviews much, but when I do I try and make them interesting. This time I’m focusing primarily on a couple of ‘Chill Wave’ artists as well as a new solo act and some instrumentalists. Its going to get interesting, so lets get started…

Small Black: New Chain– Small Black’s first EP was a little mucky but showed a lot of promise in the early going. Once they showed a little more of themselves on their split with Washed Out, I started to get a bit more excited. Now that they’ve released an appropriate full-length, we’re able to see what they’re really made of and the result is quite interesting. Chill Wave(though mostly a weak term) is easy to spot once you’ve heard it and Small Black fits it perfectly. One part beats, one part reverb and 3 parts synthesizer is the formula that this record lives by and artfully walks the fence on. Compared to their first EP, this release is much more ambitious and gives a clearer view… clearer in the sense that its easier to distinguish their ideas from each other. The problem with their EP was an overuse of reverb to a point of serious excess. I loved their ideas, as difficult as they were to make out, but I knew there was a chance that they’d clear it up more and stop drowning out their good ideas, basically. And thats precisely what they’ve done on New Chain and the results are still very Small Black but in an easier-to-understand package…8.7/10

Photojournalist

Laetitia Sadier: The Trip– New Stereolab! Well, not really. If you know anything about Stereolab at all, you’ll know that Laetitia Sadier was once their angelic-voiced lead singer for their storied music career. Now that Stereolab is no more, shes striking out on her own with her newest project: Herself. If you were anticipating this deviating somewhat from Stereolab, you’d be entirely mistaken. In fact, this almost sounds like a Stereolab ‘greatest hits’ record at almost every turn. I’m not sure if some of the players were from her former project, but everything from the guitar hooks to the subtle-yet-visible organs to her unmistakable vocal style are very much akin to early Stereolab… we’re talking Sound-Dust minus the horns. So, Sadier’s new project is somewhat of a stripped-down version of her aforementioned band, but not by much. And again, the fact that I casually mentioned that this was like a ‘greatest hits’ album wasn’t a coincidence. Every single track on this record is really remarkable. Nearly any song would be a worthy single. In closing, Stereolab who? 9.4/10

Natural Child

Gold Panda: Lucky Shiner– One of Ghostly International’s newest additions is UK producer, Gold Panda. Filled with plenty of beat-driven electronic melodies, Gold Panda’s full-length debut is an easy record to walk into. I don’t know how often I use this, but as far as electronic music goes, this is really accessible. Its a very smooth LP with plenty of easy transitions and highlighted with bouncy beats. An absence of vocals never really was an issue at any point for me because Mr. Panda always keeps things moving. And movement is key on this record as it is with most instrumental electronic music because too much or too little movement or an inconsistent balance of faster-paced to slower-paced songs is a very fine line that is easy to stray from. This record has peaks and valleys in all the right places and thats always a great thing to come across. Also, its actually very appropriate that this type of record came out at this time of year because this is typically what I like to listen-to during the colder months of the year. So good timing mixed with excellent beats and interesting melodies makes this one of my favorites as of late… 8.8/10

You

MillionYoung: Be So True EPMillionYoung is yet another ‘Chill Wave’ artist thats come on the scene in the last year, but there are a couple of things that make them a bit more distinct than your average run-of-the-mill genre artist. Yes, they are very much entrenched in their respective genre, but their frequent and creative use of guitar and their vocals make them stand-outs. This is also what sort of ruined this EP for me in some instances. Their first EP, Sunndreamm, was absolutely wonderful from start to finish. Be So True‘s vocals tend to go flat from time to time and they ruined otherwise perfectly great songs… which is really too bad because the music itself could be something really special if they could just figure out how to polish them with better vocal tracks. Don’t get me wrong, the whole record isn’t a big flat mess. It only happens occasionally, but it still happens. So while I’m definitely reluctant to score this nearly perfectly, it still deserves a high-ranking with deductions for lack of polish…8.0/10

Cynthia

Del Rey: Immemorial– Not many people know who Del Rey is and thats partly because of their genre: Post-Rock Instrumentalism… I know, it sounds like a class you sleepwalked through in grad school. While it may not be popular, Del Rey do it better than almost anyone. I’ve been following these guys for a few years now, and they’ve definitely had their highs and lows. Their most notable high being their 2003 release, Darkness and Distance, and their most notable low being the follow up to that, A Pyramid For The Living in 2006. While Darkness and Distance really demonstrated an innovative approach to instrumental rock incorporating synthesizers and even double-drummers at times, A Pyramid For The Living fell flat by turning good ideas into long, droning monstrosities that became less compelling the longer they went on and then replicating that 5 more times to finish out the album. So when I saw that 3 or 4 of the songs lasted around the 10-minute mark on Immemorial, you could imagine my skepticism. However, this is where they surprised me. Not only did they incorporate all of the things that made them an interesting band to begin with, the long times on those tracks were barely noticeable because they weren’t loud droning and repetitive. Its almost like a symphony at times with plenty of tempo changes and dramatic crescendos that really keep your attention. I’m not entirely sure if it was written to tell a story, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to write one to accompany it. Overall, this is their best record in 6 years, which if you’re counting is a hell of a long time… 9.5/10

Innumeracy

Posted By: thelittlefield
Last Edit: 05 Nov 2010 @ 07:04 PM

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