Deer Tick: Born On Flag Day 2009

Deer Tick, a band with a name that makes you want to squirm, with music that will make you swoon. The second album release of this band that hails from Providence Rhode Island titled Born on Flag Day. For, non Americans this album title may incite a chorus of eye rolls. That is until you realize the sheer accuracy of what the album title is pointing to. Deer Trick’s musical style is not a part of very popular folk or electronica movements emerging from the indie scenes around the world. No, Deer Tick takes its queues from Bob Dylan, with a lead singer’s always gritty vocals and almost American country western guitar riffs. Sometimes John McCauley, the lead singer of the band, can sing a bar from Born on Flag Day and almost transport you back to the time you first heard a Dylan song. That is not to say this band is unoriginal. In the current musical environment they are striking at the heart of what made American music great, in Deer Tick’s self defined style of blues, folk, and… grunge; all styles as American as apple pie. As for the album itself, Born on Flag Day is full of great tracks worth multiple listens. If anything this is a road trip album, you can almost picture yourself blissfully cursing across country with this album filling out the background with its subtle sounds.
Born on Flag Day - Track List:
Little White Lies
Smith Hill
Song About A Man
Houston, TX
Straight Into A Storm
Friday Xiii
The Ghost
Hell On Earth
Stung + Hidden
Track Good Night Irene


Metric: A Review of Fantasies

Emily Haines and her band Metric have come out with a new album Fantasies. As a type of She-Punk with a deep electronic foundation, Metric is a fine example of what happens when you take classically trained musicians put them in Montreal, then mix. This is just what happened in the formative years of the band, all members coming from some kind of Arts background whether it be training in Juilliard (James Shaw) or being the daughter of a well known poet (Emily Haines). Their newest offering is more ethereal if not confused than pervious albums. With lyrical visions of panic at conformity in one verse of a song, only to go on to make reference to identifying musical kinship with the Rolling Stones and The Beatles as an either or proposition in another. Is there a third option one less confirmative? Nevertheless, this album offers us a music selection which is inventive at some points and comfortingly familiar in others. Though, this album is far less appealing than others released by the band and if you are a fan of Metric you may be disappointed with this one. Songs from Fantasies that might be considered the best if not the only good songs of the album, Gimme Sympathy (acoustic), Help I'm Alive, Satellite Mind.


Passion Pit: Songs Off Of Manners – Must Have Songs For Your Summer Playlist

Manners [VINYL]

Passion Pit, a fresh band founded in Cambridge Massachusetts, has only recently released their first full length album entitled Manners. Their style of music: a kind of happy pop that inspires one to dance. Incredibly upbeat and full of life, Passion Pit is just the right stuff to get us through these dreary economic times. Having gained much recognition with their EP Chunk of Change, the band found themselves an early hit first at Emerson College, the alma mater of band member Angelakos. Passion Pit went on to top The Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll as Best New Act, all happening within a few years time. This band carries with it a sense of ease in every song, as though the tracks were put together through simple artistry and not through months/years of unneeded toil and sacrifice. While listening to the Manners you have a sense that you should just be relaxing and having fun with this new band that would fall under the new electronica/synth altpop category of bands, which seem to be leading the trend this year in terms of good new music. It seems that bands such as MGMT, Passion Pit or the upcoming Vampire Weekend Ra Ra Riot collaboration Discovery, are on the cusp of this welcome upbeat movement in music today. With all of the bands mentioned you can hear a real the playful discovery as though what they ended up producing was a pleasant surprise even to them. To be sure this album is a must have for the summer months, all of those warm evenings would not be complete without a bit of Passion Pit to spice up your playlist. Best songs off of Manners, Little Secrets, The Reeling, Eyes As Candles.


M. Ward: Folk Rock With A Touch of Soul

If you haven’t heard of M. Ward and are a fan of the Portland Oregon music scene, then M. Ward might be right up your ally. M. Ward aka Matthew Ward has more recently been caught up with the wonderful Zooey Deschanel on the She and Him project. That hasn’t stopped him from coming out with a rich and complex album of his own with his newest solo release Hold Time. With fourteen tracks you would think a few would be worthy of your iPod’s skip button, not so. Ward has a value album if there ever was one, loaded with solemn and moody tacks, delivered with Ward’s signature soft raspy voice. When listening to Hold Time one can’t help but feel relaxed and slightly more content with the universe, it’s just the nature of his music, darkly peaceful filled with a kind of imagery that will take you places. Tacks to pay close attention to on this album are, Jail Bird, To Save Me, Fisher of Men.


Arcade Fire: A Band That Makes You Feel

The Arcade Fire has produced two full length albums, Funeral and Neon Bible. The first was not widely recognized and was filled with dark imagery, explosive ballads bordering on emo rock. Think of the first track of Funeral, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), its over the top imagery of what can be made out, is of escaping an unfriendly home to a neighbor house via tunnels and secret meeting places. This album seems to be influenced heavily by fellow Canadian band The New Pornographers, although much darker in content. The use of dual lead singers along with an incredible assortment of instrument usage conjures up memories of Mass Romantic. Neon Bible is in many ways a concept album taking one theme, not unlike The Killers’ Sam’s Town, Sam Robert’s Chemical City, or Green Day’s uber popular American Idiot. Like these albums, Neon Bible tells the listener a story in this case the story starts with the ironic image of the neon bible and simply expands upon it. In Neon Bible we can hear the need for escape in Keep The Car Running, a desire for truth in the title song, and what seems to be the heart of Arcade Fire’s misanthropic view of the world with Intervention mp3. Arcade Fire has recently released a live album/DVD entitled Miroir Noir (or for the French impaired Black Mirror). As a live album, Mirior Noir has a sort of ethereal quality by using song interludes comprised of fan calls to an Arcade Fire hotline. This hotline is what makes this live album stand out from other live albums and provides a kind of window in the mind of an Arcade Fire fan. The call segments are often strange given the hotline acts as a kind of Arcade Fire Anonymous and range from angry hate calls to fans heartfelt pleads to hear from their favorite band. There are also never before heard songs on this album such as Surf City East Berlin & Cold Wind. Arcade Fire continues to surprise all with its ability to create thoughtful music and inspire its listeners to feel great joy and complete distain. If anything at all, Arcade Fire has proven with Mirior Noir that it incites people to feel... something.


Thao And The Get Down Stay Down: We Brave Bee Stings and All

Thao And The Get Down Stay Down have released a new album We Brave Bee Stings And All. With breezy guitar riffs and occasional banjo this Indie folk band is in the same line of performers as M. Ward, but with a female lead vocalist. Lead singer Thao Nguyen was raised in Falls Church, Virginia by her mother and met her band members throughout high school and College. Thao And The Get Down Stay Down have made a total of three albums together, Like the Linen (2005), Day Trotter Sessions (2006) and their newest We Brave Bee Stings And All (2008). If you are in a Feist type mood and have overplayed her albums then Thao And The Get Down Stay Down will satiate your indie folk needs. Similar contemporaries of the band are Metric, Feist, Nouvelle Vague, Lilly Allen and other artists that fall under the category of light acoustic song styling accompanied by wistful vocals. Songs that may grab your attention while listening to We Brave Bee Stings and All, Swimming Pools, Fear and Convenience, Violet.


Wolf Parade: An Indie Underdog If There Ever Was One

Wolf Parade has been overlooked by the world and is bursting with talent. So much so, that in between album releases for Wolf Parade the band members have all have had side projects, some very good…Handsome Furs, and some very Bad…Frog Eyes. Nonetheless, this band’s contributions to indie music have gone greatly unnoticed out side of the Montreal indie scene. The members of the band formed on the west cost, somewhere in-between Portland Oregon and Vancouver B.C. in April of 2003. The band’s style is a neo-Punk Rock filled with the now familiar sound styling found in Montreal indie music.
There first album, a self titled EP, was recorded and released while the band was on tour and it shows, the album is very raw and has vocals that are virtually incomprehensible. Even with its problems, this first record bursts with innovative sounds.

Wolf Parade’s first full length album Apologies to Queen Mary (2005) is completely unfocused, but that’s what makes it great. Once you listen to the album you can’t help but be amazed at the variety of sounds and styles that are enlisted to make up its track list. This album feels like every side project that the band has come out with from then on, all of the best parts without any of that dull continuity that with a more commercial product. Apologies to Queen Mary is a roughly formed concept, that is filled more with visceral emotion expressed in a uniquely Wolf Parade way. Every track on this album is worth listening to over and over again, it is a must have for any indie music fan. Wolf Parade is the raw embodiment of the Montreal indie music scene, dynamic, confused, wonderful and it will take you on a journey with every track.

Wolf Parade’s second full length album At Mount Zoomer (2008) leaves you thinking about Apologies to Queen Mary and the happy mess that it was. At Mount Zoomer was made three years after Apologies to Queen Mary. In between these albums all members of the band took up side projects, and by doing so exhausted the creativity that fueled their first full length album. For a follow up album we may not have gotten all that we wanted, but the trade off is worth it. The Handsome Furs & Sunset Rubdown, the best of the band’s side projects, can be thought of as an exploration of all the confused musical ideas flying around in Apologies to Queen Mary. These ideas are more focused, sometimes fantastic, always a true to form.


Sunset Rubdown: Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown is about to come out with a new album entitled Dragonslayer on June 23rd. The band, lead by one of Wolf Parade's co-lead singers' Spencer Krug, has already released two full length albums. The latest of which only having eight tracks you may think that you are being cheated. That is until you hear what the foursome has produced. Dragonslayer holds true to the vision of Spencer Krug, leaving the listener feeling engulfed in the wonderful yelping anarchy which is Sunset Rubdown, yet the tracks are not as extended as some from previous albums. The work of Sunset Rubdown is the finished expression only touched upon in Krug’s other band, Wolf Parade’s, fantastic album, Apologies to Queen Marry. More specifically, you can hear the beginning of Sunset Rubdown in one song in particular, I Believe In Anything. It really does seem like the touchstone for the musical philosophy of Sunset Rubdown. To say this album’s style is just synth/psychedelic rock is a misstatement, it is many things, as with all of Sunset Rubdown’s albums you never really know what type of musical instrument or turn of phrase will be in a song. “When someone says f*** me, someone else says O.K.” upon hearing this lyric in one of their former albums, Shut Up I Am Dreaming, you will fall in love with this band. What a pleasant shock it was to hear that phrase after an extended instrumental part in the The Men Are Called Horsemen There. Camilla Wynne Ingr takes on a more noticeable role in this album to a pleasant affect; her soft voice curbs the often overpowering lyrical delivery of Krug. Track to look out for in Dragonslayer, Idiot Heart, Pager Lace, You Go on Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II), and the ten minute twenty-eight second monster of a track Dragon’s Lair. Dragonslayer is a great addition to any indie library. If you are of the Wolf Parade persuasion then Sunset Rubdown’s Dragonslayer is a must have.
Release Date: June 23rd 2009.

Track List
1. Silver Moons
2. Idiot Heart
3. Apollo And The Buffalo and Anna Anna Oh!
4. Black Swan
5. Paper Lace
6. You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)
7. Nightingale _December Song
8. Dragon's Lair


White Lies: To Lose My Life

If you haven’t already heard of them…You will. The White Lies are an Alt Rock band form West London, and they have just released their first album To Lose My Life. Relative unknowns in the Americas the White Lies have already reached # 1 on the UK Album Charts early this year. For good reason too, their newest album is so retro you may think on hearing it for the first time that Billy Idol has come back to the stage with a vengeance. Thankfully that is not the case, not that we don’t love Billy. These boys from London have made an album which incorporates the BIG sound music of the 80’s had in spades…think White Wedding, with song narratives that would make even the most hopeless romantic blink with lyrics like, “lets grow old together…and die at the same time”. You will definitely be hearing about this band over this summer. Songs from their debut album to keep an ear out for would be, To Lose My Life and From The Stars.


Kings of Leon: Discography Retrospective From Youth And Young Manhood to Only By The Night

1. Youth & Young Manhood

On listening to their First full length album Youth and Young Manhood (2003) some might find the boogie-woogie elements of some of the songs jarring but this only adds to the diversity of the album. As a point the album is one that combines electric guitar riffs at an uncommon pacing at some point making it fresh to the ears weary of Nickel Back power ballads. That is exactly what makes this album rough but good, the music is a reflection of the past in many ways and lyrics are a commentary on the now as seen through the eyes of southern boys with a strong sense of funny and guilt. The best songs on the album are Happy Alone, Trani, Molly Chambers, Dusty and the hidden track Talihina Skies. These songs are, in a nut shell, the musical style of Kings of Leon in its most raw and diverse state. This sense innovation is something that maybe lacking in their later albums.

2. Aha Shake Heartbreak

An album that followed only a year after their first record release Aha Shake Heartbreak. A more commercialized album to be sure, the quality of the musical styling is a marked improvement from their first album. And in the King of the Rodeo we can hear the beginnings of the now oh so popular claps and vocal backups of the entire band. Something that has been becoming more and more popular among alt rock and indie rocks bands, even in Coldplay’s last album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends the technique is used. That is not to say that the clap clap sing sing, we all sing together song style owes its creation to the Kings of Leon, perhaps they just did so well that many other bands followed suit. For a sophomore album Aha Shake Heartbreak is very focused and you really have a sense that it has a style of its own. The best songs on the album are King of the Rodeo, Soft, Day Old Blues, and Where Nobody Knows. Out of the bands catalogue Aha Shake Heartbreak has a real sense of fun, you can feel it whenever you play the songs, they are among the best the Kings of Leon have to offer.

3. Because of the Times

After a few years without a new album the Kings Of Leon released Because of the Times (2007). A much darker album than the positive energy power house which was Aha Shake Heartbreak, Because of the Times begins with Knocked Up, a seven minute ten second long pseudo love ballad. A song which sets the tone for the entire album, as a kind of Dear John Letter to a world encumbered by panic, pain and lust. The content that permeates the lyrics of Because of the Times is a mixed bad, filled with dark imagery with choruses that insight a real sense of struggle. Against what, I guess that is where the black space is left for the listeners to fill in for themselves? The best of this album can be heard in Knocked Up, My Party, Fans, Camaro and my favorite of the album Arizona. Out of all of the band’s albums this one is by far the darkest, and in some ways the most satisfying.

4. Only by the Night

Considered the Kings of Leon’s breakout album Only By The Night was released in the summer of 2008. When first hearing this album, having heard the band’s earlier work you may find yourself doing a little bit of a comparison. In terms of originality is seems that the band has hit a bit of a plateau. Having found their sound, with this album the band has made its first truly commercial product. With the least amount of their original boogie-woogie timed styling, the band has focused more on the collective element of their music. With many vocal assists given to the lead singer courtesy of the rest of the band, the Kings of Leon have now perfected the clap clap sing sing we all sing together style of music which has become almost old hat by now with bands like Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, and others gaining so much popularity and air time on the radio. That is not to say this is a bad album by any means, if anything it is their most refined album to date. Though it does not leave you with the same sense of satisfaction that Because of the Times did or the feeling of playful energy that Aha Shake Heartbreak had in spades. No, this album falls somewhere in the middle of all the albums that have come before it. Not as original as Youth and Young Manhood or as fun as Aha Shake Heartbreak, nor does it leave you with the sense of satisfaction that one gets from Because of the Times. Out of the Kings of Leon catalogue, Only By night is its own beast, made for the masses and delivered in style.


Born Ruffians: A Band To Look Out For

The Canadian indie rock band Born Ruffians draws on Influences such as the Pixies, and is akin to the musical styling of Vampire Weekend and M. Ward. The Born Ruffians are a talented new band out of Ontario Canada. Their first full length album Red, Yellow & Blue has a subtle ska influence, without the horns, not unlike other bands of that nature, like Modest Mouse. Don’t tell the members of Born Ruffians that, they insist that their sound is their own and any comparison to Modest Mouse is met with irritated expressions. And I for one would tend to agree, this album definitely has that, fresh out of the brain-oven smell to it. With a very raw sound that works for the new band. An interesting note, the band lives together in one house in Toronto, and they do their rehearsal work out of their basement. Songs to look out for on this album, I Need A Life, Badonkadonkey, Hedonistic Me.