Phosphorescent | Here’s To Taking It Easy

There are some bands that just seem to get it. Based out of Brooklyn N.Y. the band Phosphorescent is set to release its sixth album called Here’s To Taking It Easy. Phosphorescent is a part of the growing number of musical acts that have made it their purpose in life to blur the lines between country music and progressive indie folk. This might be traumatic to those music snobs who proudly sport an “I Hate Country Music” bumper sticker and believe in the unequivocal dismissal of anything with a classic country riff. Matt Houck the band’s vocalist grounds the whole endeavor delivering a gentle set of songs one after another in an effortless parade of vocal prowess. Contemporaries of Phosphorescent would be: Deer Tick, Jim James, Matt Ward and Dawes. Possible influences of Phosphorescent could be: Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash.


The New Pornographers | An Overview of Together

The New Pornographers are known as one of the greatest Canadian indie bands of all time, among the ranks of Arcade Fire in terms of notoriety and influence. With three people shouldering the vocals for the band, their music took on a truly distinctive sound, often embedded with harmonies and shifts in vocal focus between Carl Newman, Dan Bejar and Neko Case. Based out of Vancouver B.C. the band has left a permanent mark in that part of the world, the band being used as a sort of measuring stick for other local artists to lean against and try to measure up to.

The impact that The New Pornographers have had on the music scene is obvious in every attempted copying of their style seen more and more often among up and coming bands today. Albums like Twin Cinema (2005) and Mass Romantic (2000) were very important. These albums embodied a certain aspect of the band, an intensity and vision generally reserved for the most seasoned musicians. But as the years wore on so did The New Pornographers.

It hasn’t been too long since The New Pornographers came out with their album Challengers in 2007, but since then one member of the Canadian Indie band has released a solo album that challenges the need for other members of the band. The person we are talking about here is Neko Case and the album her 2009 release of Middle Cyclone, an album which redefined her as a solo artist and a standout among her peers. Sure Case has released other albums without the help of The New Pornographers, but they couldn’t hold a candle to Middle Cyclone. Case has fine tuned her own brand of folksy indie rock to a point where it is hard to find a fare artist to even propose a comparison; The New Pornographers on the other hand seem to be struggling to recapture some of their former energy with the release of Together.

The title of this album is Together the more you listen, the more you think they might be better if they were apart. Whenever you think back to some of the great songs that this band has come out with such as July Jones, Jackie, From Blown Speakers and Sing Me Spanish Techno, you are given the distinct impression that Together is not the band’s best work. Aside from a few stand outs on the new album like Your Hands (Together) and Silver Denny Dollar this album is definitely a disappointment. The reason being, Together though it’s definitely a The New Pornographers album but it lacks much of the zest the former albums had in spades. Perhaps it is a sign of the band’s maturing but Together feels like a more moderate example of what they are capable of doing.


The National | A Review of High Violet

Over the years New York’s The National has released several albums, the last of which came in 2007 with Boxer, an album that lacked much of the luster its predecessor captured. The 2005 Alligator, was for most, the height of The National’s musical offerings. Cuts like Baby, We’ll Be Fine and Karen are some of the best out of The National’s song catalogue and they both can be found on Alligator. What The National has always been up against are those who say that lead singer’s Matt Berninger voice is overpowering and consumes the majority of every song the band has released, the baritone’s voice rarely seem to break from a monotone position. The first half of High Violet the latest release of the band is a different story, Berninger pulls back on the vocal side of things and allows the other parts of this band to shine.

As a band The National has slowly been breaking into a more public view. Once an indie darling, the band known among the more snooty indie band aficionados as the New York band with deep voiced lead singer, with influences that seemingly stemmed from a more British style of music. As the years wore on since the band made their first album back in the late 90s, The National and their music has become more recognizable to the average music listeners ear. And with the impressive release of High Violet the band obviously still has gas left in the tank.

The new album quietly draws you in as a listener, partly to prepare you for some somber lyrical narratives, but also to stylishly introduce you to one of The National’s best albums to date. If High Violet were to come on to strong at first you might brush it off but then it wouldn’t be High Violet, the album is an anthem for post rainy day blues. Unlike previous albums provided by this band, High Violet though dark in tone and content is notably more lighthearted than say Boxer or Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers. Key Tracks on High Violet, Anyone’s Ghost, Little Faith and Lemonword.


LCD Soundsystem | A Review of This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem is essentially the brainchild of music producer and co-founder of DRA Records James Murphy. As Murphy’s third LCD Soundsystem album This Is Happening has a playful tone for the most part, with the first single off of the album titled Drunk Girls. The lighthearted track draws a fairly observable comparison between the drunken antics of boys and girls, set to a motivated synth back. Actually, the entire album plays out like something that escaped from the 80s synth revolution, you might have expected the hooks from Gary Numan’s Cars to start off a track or two while listening. This album is classic synth and with Murphy’s lyrical attitude makes for an impressive display of the retro infused albums being put out of late. But this isn’t just an ode to the electronic music of the late 70s and 80s, as a dance friendly kind of album, This Is Happening has a not so subtle element of disco at its very core. As the acts reportedly final album LCD Soundsystem has will be going out on a high note.


Broken Social Scene | A Review of Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene formed in 1999 out of various Toronto based indie musicians. Less of a supergroup and more setting induced coalition, Broken Social Scene has had over twenty members come and go… and then come back again for the past decade. The band’s line up is always a bit of a mystery except for the band’s founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. As their fourth studio album Forgiveness Rock Record, those involved this time around have created palatable set of tracks dipped in jittery rhythms, interwoven with synth loops of every imaginable kind. There is a range and variety that comes with Forgiveness Rock Record moving from dance numbers like the track All to All to much less synthetic sounding tracks such as Art House Director which is peppered with horns and vocal harmonies.

As for the value of this album, well it might depend more on the popularity of the group rather than the actual fidelity of the songs. In comparison to other indie acts currently grinding away trying to come up with something interesting, what you get on Forgiveness Rock Record is on the more pedestrian side of things. A nice, easy to swallow dose of musical styles, and that’s not a bad thing. This album is sort of a snap shot of what is going on in the indie scene in that part of Canada.


Woods | A Brief Overview of At Echo Lake

At Echo LakeWoods, a Brooklyn, N.Y. band, is set to release a new album in the upcoming month called At Echo Lake. The band that is well known for its love of the lo-fi sound has produced yet another homemade sounding garage-band LP. Slightly psychedelic with echoing vocals, (there is a reason why the album is titled At Echo Lake) and it’s all of the echo effect applied to the vocalist. The electric guitar portions are brazen and overlapping at times providing a thick melodic atmosphere. In other parts of the album the breezy acoustic guitar takes center stage and brings out the folksier side of Woods.

Warning: Don’t listen to the track Deep if you are wearing headphones, stoned or engaged in other mind-altering activities because the stereo clapping portion of this track sounds like it’s coming from all around you and the rhythm of it might make you think that there is someone next to you trying to get your attention in the most intrusive way possible. But no one’s there!


Frog Eyes | Paul's Tomb A Triumph

Paul's Tomb: A TriumphFrog Eyes an indie rock band that call Victoria, B.C. home have a new album on the horizon called Paul’s Tomb A Triumph. And as with their previous albums the frenzy of distorted guitars and explosive vocals are still there in spades. Admittedly out of their previous album only a few songs out of their whole catalogue really stood out as more than experimental indie rock. Maybe it was the rate of fire that vocalist Carey Mercer delivered the lyrics or the near impenetrability his songs, but Frog Eyes just never really did it for some. That is until Paul’s Tomb A Triumph. This album is less of a scatter shot and more of a surgical hit, much more focused than the previous albums and more accessible to boot. Frog Eyes has always had a gritty chattering sound to it, riddled with distortion and generous helpings of keyboard induced synth. But that is in part to the structure of most of their songs, which are not the traditional verse, chorus and repeat. Instead they are more sprawling epics with sung parts which meld very naturalistically into diverging instrumentals that at some points feel completely random but some how manage to work. The lyrics off of Paul’s Tomb A Triumph are to true Frog Eyes form, nearly incomprehensible, but that too is part of this albums charm, it’s mystery mixed with iridescent energy and this time around it has never looked better.

Note: Paul’s Tomb A Triumph is reminiscent of Spencer Krug’s earlier efforts with his band Sunset Rubdown. Krug, a former member of Frog Eyes came out with the album Shut Up I Am Dreaming in 2006 and it’s strikingly similar in style to the new Frog Eyes album. Of course one could say that anything that has been touched by the far-reaching members of Wolf Parade has a certain feel to it. Whether it’s with Swan Lake, Handsome Furs, Sunset Rubdown etc., the effect of the group resonates strongly in many bands styles and although Frog Eyes is now apart from Wolf Parade’s tendrils, it too has taken on some familiar characteristics. But that does not somehow undercut what Frog Eyes has done here with Paul's Tomb A Triumph, it’s just an observation on stylist similarities and influences.


Evelyn Evelyn | On Their Self-Titled Debut Album and Its Oddness

Evelyn EvelynEvelyn Evelyn is a duo consisting of conjoined twins Evelyn and Evelyn Neville. Through their self-titled debut album the two tell the story of their live as orphans and oddities, and then as the misfits freaks of the Dillard and Fullerton’s Traveling Circus. Their musical style is playful and dark, most numbers a duet the likes of which has been heard since The Andrew Sisters era. The album plays out like a Timothy Burton film, with spoken word interludes giving the history of the strange pair. Every track off of their album is a playful retelling of events in the lives of the sisters. Nothing too special there, but when put into context very funny and very odd. The tales range from the events surrounding their birth to being raised as chickens until the age of six on a poultry farm. The minds behind this fictional duo are Amada Palmer and Jason Webley who also provide the vocals for this high concept band. You can’t say this album will be getting much air play on the radio but you have to appreciate the execution of this project. If you take a look at the band’s website you should take a look at the fans drawings of the sisters then you will know how this quirky concept has captured the attention and imagination of some.

A Theory About Evelyn Evelyn’s Formation: The artists involved in the conceptualization of the twins are great fans of old timey music and circus freaks. But are far removed from the like, so they created this alter ego – would it be egos since they are conjoined twins but at the same time they have one big body … I don’t know. They do this in order to satisfy this unhealthy urge to be a character from one of Timothy Burton’s films. Or they just have an obsession with the twins from the shining and wondered one night if they would have been scarier if they were living conjoined twins rather than just regular, yet dead, twins. Perhaps, or maybe explaining the motivations for making such personas are better left to those who created them and the imaginations of the fans who follow them.


Sophie Hunger | 1983

As far as indie pop goes, what seems slightly odd to the average music listener is standard fair. Sophie Hunger is a prime example of an indie pop act, she and her band enjoy playing around with ballads incorporating the various language skills that Hunger possesses by moving from English to German to what sounds like French (but is in fact a Swiss dialect) throughout the new album. This isn’t Sophie Hunger’s first go at making music. Hailing from Zurich Germany, Hunger is associated with two other projects and this album 1983 is her third made under her name. 1983 is a collection of delicate tracks that amount to something of substance and impressive design. A good album for the background of a local CafĂ© , something subtle and interesting to muse over while sipping your coffee or tea. Highlights off of 1983 are; Headlights, Citylights Forever and D’Red.