March 30, 2010

How To Make a Better Miley Cyrus Song.

This is what I've been listening to all week. Thanks to Thom.

Download it from youtube, because I'm too lazy to make a new filesharing account right now.
March 29, 2010

Rare EPs, part 6

Keeping it simple:

Broken Social Scene’s 7/4 (Shoreline) Single

This was a very cool EP I picked up a few years ago, and has some great tracks on it. The first track is of course the title track, and the single itself- 7/4 (Shoreline). This was actually the first song I heard from the to-be-released self titled album, and I instantly fell in love with the song- from simple guitar chord to driving drum beat and harmonious vocals.

This is an important single because it answers important questions. Ever what would happen if Stars and Sons and Lover’s Spit had a baby? Wonder no more! I can’t do any justice by trying to explain the combination of these two seemingly opposites- one, a strong, driving song, and another a lingering, enigmatic ghost called Stars and Spit.

Death Cock is also a very interesting track (stemming from the name I suppose). A simple snare and piano overlay, and Kevin Drew being as indecipherable as he was on Shampoo Suicide. The trouble lays in the fact that his most poetic and beautiful lyrics are often turned into esoteric mumblings (see what I did there?):

Trouble, my trouble, mourir
Left my lungs with the fear
Test patterns on the air
I killed you, I did it, my dear

Download these rarities and enjoy what happened in between You Forgot It In People and Broken Social Scene (s/t).

7/4 (Shoreline) Mirror
Stars and Spit Mirror
Death Cock Mirror
March 28, 2010

Phoenix live and remixed

Phoenix's Wolfang Amadeus Phoenix was in my opinion one of the best releases of 2009, and I'm still coming back to some of its most unforgettable tracks (my favorites being the two opening tracks, the two "Sunset" tracks and "Armistice") almost on a weekly basis, almost a year after I first started listening to it.

Phoenix have now been generous enough to offer a free live EP for download on their website, with live performances of no less than eight Wolfang Amadeus Phoenix songs recorded in Sidney, Australia. The album is packed with great tracks, and it's great to get to hear some different takes of them. If you're looking for more alternate versions of WAP songs, here are my favorite remixes of tracks from the album:

The Rome remix is my favorite of the bunch – it's a truly unique remix that really adds something special to the song. If the original and its lyrics didn't touch and move you, the remix most definitely will. How many remixes can you say the same thing about? A close second favorite is Classixx' take on Lisztomania, though - the remix geniuses once again manage to take an extremely danceable song and make it even more danceable. The Yacht and Animal Collective remixes are great too - with so much personal touch that these Phoenix songs end up actually sounding like Yacht and Animal Collective tracks with Thomas Mars vocals.

Rare EPs, part 5

Keeping it simple. This is Feist's Red Sessions.

1. Intuition
2. Leisure Suit
3. Mushaboom
4. The Eastern Shore

After her 1999 debut album, Monarch, Canadian indie singer/songwriter Feist recorded the four-track The Red Demos (2003), which in my opinion are four of the very best songs of her whole career. Each of these four songs changed shape numerous times and evolved gradually through the years, finally becoming hit songs on her future LPs. "Leisure Suit" and "Mushaboom" became some of the best songs on her sophomore LP Let It Die (2004), while "The Eastern Shore" changed name to "The Water" and appeared alongside "Intuition" on her third album The Reminder (2007).

The Red Demos is definitely worth checking out for any Feist fan, even if just to see how these popular songs started out, or to hear some of her newer songs in what basically sounds like a Monach-style arrangement. Personally, I much prefer this early version of "Intuition" to the version she realesed on The Reminder four years later – the latter honestly just sounds like it has been worked on for too long, losing the straightforward beauty and simplicity of the tune. In fact, the original "Intuition" is possibly my favorite Feist track of all time – check it out for yourself and see what you think!
mp3: Jónsi - Tornado

Jónsi, the modest, shy and low-talking frontman of Icelandic postrockers Sigur Rós, is releasing his first solo album Go on April 5th. In this track from the much-anticipated album, he once again showcases his charismatic, confident and very strong voice. The musical arrangement is now slightly different from Sigur Rós, but Jónsi's songwriting talent and amazing vocal performance are as strong and mesmerizing as ever – the only difference being that it's now all in English, and not his native language Icelandic or his self-invented language "hopelandic". Although I'm sad that Sigur Rós most likely has come to an end as a band, I can't wait to get my hands on Go – its release is for me just as big of an even as any Sigur Rós main release. The last time the eccentric, charismatic and hyper-creative vocalist of a truly world-famous Icelandic band went solo, Bjørk of The Sugarcubes, it was not the end of anything, but rather the start of an even more amazing career. I don't think anything can stop the very talented Jónsi from going down the same path from now!

mp3: Two Door Cinema Club - Something Good Can Work

Northern Irish indie pop band Two Door Cinema Club plays happy, uplifting and catchy guitar pop that's perfect for the sunny spring weather I (and hopefully all you readers) am enjoying at the moment. Two Door Cinema Club's debut album Tourist History was released on one of my favorite labels, the French indie/electro label Kitsuné Records, on March 1st. It has often been compared to Foals and Bloc Party's debut albums, and I can see the similarity – like these fellow UK indie rock debut albums, Tourist History also incorporates elements of post-punk sound with dance-oriented melodies for a fresh and young sounding LP.

video: Two Door Cinema Club - I Can Talk

Time to introduce lots of new releases here on Esoteric Mumblings again! Here are some newly released songs that I'm currently enjoying a lot.

mp3: Broken Social Scene - All to All (mp3 download removed)

First off, another new track from Canadian indie collective Broken Social Scene's upcoming fourth studio album, Forgiveness Rock Record. All to All came out as a digital single yesterday, and I like it a lot. With its lush, atmospheric and ambient sound, combined with very sweet female vocals, it reminds me of the classic Broken Social Scene track "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" from their 2002 album You Forgot it in People. If the three tracks (from the album's thirteen) released so far are anything to go by, the new album will be another eclectic mix of genres and moods – BSS at their best, in other words!

mp3: MGMT - Flash Delirium (mp3 download removed)

In my opinion MGMT sounded a lot like the Flaming Lips on their debut album Oracular Spectacular (2007), with their euphoric psychedelic rock, and also thanks to the production work by long-time Flaming Lips producer David Fridman. While the Flaming Lips moved in a quite different direction with last year's Embryonic, MGMT's new track "Flash Delirium", from their upcoming sophomore album Congratulations, due out April 13th, in my opinion sounds more like the Yoshimi / Mystics era (former half of the 00s) Flaming Lips now than ever. I can also sense a stronger influence from trippy 60s psychedelic rock, and less disco beat and 90s britrock nudges, this time around. This track left me very excited for MGMT's return!

mp3: Foals - Spanish Sahara (mp3 download removed)

Post-punk/indie rock band Foals from Oxford, England, released their very funky and danceable debut album Antidotes in 2008, which was one of my favorite albums that year. The album was full of vigor and punch, and when I saw them live in the spring of 2008, their almost endless-seeming energy impressed me. Their sophomore album Total Life Forever is due out in May, and judging by the album title alone one would expect it to be even more energetic than before. But this time, Foals have slowed down a bit, and switched danceable indie anthems for slower and more modest, atmospheric and reflective tunes. According to the band, they had been planning another "funky" album, but then plans changed. The first track from the album, Spanish Sahara, indicates that this new style suits them just as well, and although the soundscape is rather different now, it still unmistakably sounds like Foals.

March 21, 2010

Rare EPs, Part 4

Heads Up! EP

One of my favorite bands: Death From Above 1979. This is their 2002 EP Heads Up!. This is a great little EP for a number of reasons. It shows the beginnings of the band, this being their first release- 2 years before any other major release, including their own full studio album You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (what great titles for everything).

1 Dead Womb
2 Too Much Love
3 Do It!
4 My Love is Shared
5 Losing Friends
6 If We Don’t Make It We’ll Fake It

You may recognize the first song, Dead Womb, being sampled heavily in Crystal Castles' Untrust Us- yes, it's sampled from this EP. You can definitely see some of the influences Crystal Castles has by listening to this album. The sampled quotation begins...

la cocaina no es buena para su salud

All in all, a great EP. Definitely download it.
March 20, 2010

An Album Leave

A Chorus of Storytellers

I am usually a huge fan of Jimmy LaValle. However, his most recent release under The Album Leaf has been disappointing and under par for his talents. This album features a full live band, keyboard, drums, guitar, trumpet- a nice twist for LaValle, known for his heavy electronic instrumentation.

I'll start with the album cover- it looks like an Impressionistic baby from Renoir and Kroyer, but it is nothing new.

Compare this to In A Safe Place:

even One Day I'll Be on Time or Into the Blue Again:

Impressionism? Already did it. White font style for the band name and album title? Did it. Simple doesn't have to be bad- as seen in that cute pink album cover above. It's monochromatic, shades of pink with simple lower-case black text and a line drawing. Ultimately, the album cover is really indicative of the product inside- something recast, already thought of and executed, and in the end- something that doesn't stand out or live up to its reputation.

There are a few good songs on the album. My favorite is Falling from the Sun. It begins with a simple electronic beat and keyboard, followed by the echoing voice of LaValle. It's simple and brings back memories of other amazing songs from the Album Leaf. In this song he successfully blends his electronic and organic instruments. The guitar and drums work beautifully with his hollowed voice and electronic noises underlying the song. This is where LaValle gets it right.

Until the Last
is another song he does well. The song is in 5/4, and this is a great example of LaValle creating an interesting soundscape using the contrast between the organic and inorganic sounds. Great stringed instruments and cymbal work (I'm a cymbal fiend). All in all a good song on the album.

Where he gets it wrong is on songs such as Blank Pages and Stand Still. The songs show themselves to be bland and unable to stand out. We hear the same quick drum beat and cymbal washing, but it doesn't stand out like it can in Until the Last. There are too many Sub Par songs on this album to make it anything praiseworthy. I am happy that Album Leaf might be branching off into other instrumental uses and contrasts, but I am not pleased with how poor this album was on its own, and compared to the former body of work.

Blank Pages Mirror 1
Falling from the Sun Mirror 1
Stand Still Mirror 1
Until the Last Mirror 1
March 18, 2010

Rare EPs, part 3

Keeping it simple. This is Sigur Rós' Ný Batterí EP.

1. Rafmagnið Búið
2. Ný Batterí
3. Bíum Bíum Bambaló
4. Dánarfregnir Og Jarðarfarir

While I'm a big fan of everything Sigur Rós and their frontman Jónsi have ever released (including all Sigur Rós LPs and Jónsi's two recent side project albums), their sophomore album Ágætis Byrjun will always stand out as something special to me. This masterpiece is one of my definite favorite albums of all time – an intense 1-hour long deep dive into Sigur Rós unique and mesmerizing world. The track Ný batterí is in my opinion one of the most hypnotizing out-of-this-world experiences on the whole album, and I'd almost call it one of the album's highlights, if it wasn't for the fact that I think there are nothing but highlights on the entire album.

Ný Batterí's perfect progression, its beautiful build-up, is what really does it for me, and I used to think it was perfect – until I discovered this EP a couple of years back. On this EP, Sigur Rós extend Ný Batterí's initial horn section by almost five minutes, and dub this introductory part Rafmagnið Búið. Since this track continues directly into Ný Batterí, the result is essentially a twelve-and-a-half minute long extended version of one of my favorite songs. Track 3 and 4 on this EP are cover versions of two well-known Icelandic songs. Sigur Rós originally recorded these amazing cover tracks for the soundtrack to the Icelandic movie 'Angels of the Universe'.

For anyone out there who loves Ágætis Byrjun as much (or even half as much) as I do, these four tracks are bound to be happy revisit to this excellent period in Sigur Rós' career.

Rare EPs, part 2

Keeping it simple. This is Her Space Holiday's Something Blue EP.

The theme to the extended is a traditional wedding custom- having something old, new, borrowed and blue.

1 Something Old (Floating)
2 Something New (Happy As A Ghost)
3 Something Borrowed (Fan Club)
4 Something Blue (Our First Date)

Something Old is an instrumental track, and Something New is a highly lyrical track with organic drums and ethereal vocals with a simple accompanying chord with highly memorable lyrics:

I don't know where I hide my emotions
Wanted to show you my undying devotion
Something New is easily my favorite track on the EP, because of its density, emphasis on vocal tonality, and simple, organic instrumentation. The lyrics and mood are revealed slowly, and make it one of my favorite Her Space Holiday songs.

March 17, 2010

Mock the pretentious

As a musician, you're bound to meet a lot of 'interesting' and 'alternative' people. While most 'interesting' people are great and fun to be with, we all know that some of them are just plain annoying. And incredibly pretentious. Imagine then, that you're not only a musician, but even a 'alternative' or 'indie' musician - you surely must be regularly dealing with masses of annoying 'alternative'/'interesting' people – both amongst your social network/scene and amongst your own fans. And it really seems like this is frustrating certain musicians a lot, at least judging by the lyrics of the six songs I'm presenting you today.

What kind of 'alternative' people really get on the nerves of the songwriters of Beck, CSS, Eels, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, of Montreal and Wilco? Let's find out, and let's indulge in some of the most sarcastic and satiric song lyrics out there, filled with genuine contempt and strong suppressed pent-up annoyance which must have been built up over a considerable period of time.

Beck seems to have (had) a major frustration with a vegetarian, wannabe poet 'alternative'/hippy lady in his life:

mp3: Beck - Nitemare Hippy Girl
yo, she's bustin' out onto the scene
with nightmare bogus poetry
she's cooking salad for breakfast
she's got tofu the size of Texas
she's a witness to her own glory
she's a never-ending story

CSS's Luísa Hanae Matsushita (aka Lovefoxxx) has a background as an illustrator and fashion designer, before she moved on to music and became world famous as the lead singer of indie rock / synthpop band CSS. Apparently she left the fashion world because she was completely sick of the people in that particular industry. In the following lyrics however, she leaves the fashion world's many annoying people alone, and instead kicks the same direction as Beck - towards people with no real talent who're full of themselves.

mp3: CSS - Art Bitch
I poo on a plate and get it published on visionaire
I have no port-fo-lee-o
Cuz i only show
Where there's free al-co-hol

For a biting, sarcastic and spiteful critique of the fashion industry's superficiality, though, you have to look no further than Eels' "Fashion Awards". One of frontman Mr. E's beautiful 3-minute acoustic guitar and string based beauties, the track sounds quite harmless and harmonious until you start paying attention to the hilarious lyrics:

mp3: Eels - Fashion Awards
let's go down to the fashion show
with all the pretty people that you don't know
we'll sit down in the velvet chairs
we'll hand awards out for best hair
and if we don't win one well then
we'll blow off our heads in despair
we'll blow off our heads in despair

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in my opinion does one of her greatest vocal performances of all time in the track "Art Star" off one of their early EPs. She switches naturally between loud and intense screaming, innocent and cutesy humming and ridiculing monologues mimicking young and hip artists:

mp3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Art Star
I got a dealer in Tokyo
I got a rep in Paris
I got an agent in Cologne
Shit, I got a gallery in New York
It's a madhouse, this modern life

Kevin Barnes of of Montreal has apparently had it with elitist snobs who pride themselves so highly on knowing all 'high culture' authors/composers/directors 'worth knowing' and look with contempt at anyone who can't namedrop and/or enjoy them. While the highly cultivated Barnes himself makes countless references to painters, directors, authors and more in his band's song lyrics, he makes it very clear in the sarcastic "Art Snob Solutions" that he doesn't want to be perceived as one of those jerks who think they're superior because of their 'cultural capital'.

mp3: of Montreal - Art Snob Solutions
Come on artists, the day is here!
And your mission is very clear
Put an end to the bourgeoisie
And death to everyone who's never heard of me

Similarly, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy also seems annoyed at people who feel superior for knowing/namedropping the right artists. In "The Late Greats", however, he targets his mockery specifically at indie music fans. Enjoying music that's not considered part of the 'mainstream' is all well and good, but making it a major point to avoid music that is in any way known to the general public, or even deliberately and consistently picking music that's "so indie that they'll never play it on the radio", is pretty pretentious.

While Wilco made music throughout the 90s, their real breakthrough didn't come before 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. "The Late Greats" is a track from the first album they made after having 'become famous', 2004s A Ghost Is Born and I'm sure it must have been meant as a tongue-in-cheek mockery of some of their 'former fans' who chose to distance themselves from the 90s 'unknown' alternative band once it started having some real success and publicity. Judging by Tweedy's mockery, he can't have been very sad to see these people go.

mp3: Wilco - The Late Greats
The best band will never get signed
K-Settes starring Butcher's Blind
Are so good, you won't ever know
They never even played a show
You can't hear 'em on the radio
The best song will never get sung
The best laugh never leaves your lungs
So good, you won't ever know
I never hear it on the radio
Can't hear it on the radio
March 16, 2010

Rare EPs, part 1

Let's keep it simple. I will upload any "rare" EPs that I have found/collected over the years.

This is Her Space Holiday's Keystroke EP. It's neither on wikipedia or for sale on their website, and it's definitely worth the attention.

1 Keystroke (awayTEAM mix)
2 Microfilmed
3 Hassle Free Harmony (Bench remix)

I'll let you all discover the buried treasure for yourself.

If anyone has any suggestions for free file uploading services whose download links end in ".mp3" or ".m4a", etc. please contact us or contact me directly.
March 5, 2010

It's simple- vote for them
One of our beloved writers is actually in this band, the wonderful non serviam aka Mr. Guitar aka the voted one.

1. Make an account. It takes 30 seconds.
2. Vote once a day until it is over.
3. They will play Warped Tour, and you will all have helped a deserving, undiscovered act eventually reach success.

About a week ago, Norwegian oddball electropop band Casiokids signed with American Polyvinyl. With their highly energetic shows and eccentric, euphoric and highly danceable music, they've been a live favorite in Norway for years, and it's great to hear that they'll reach US audiences too now. Another person besides me who seems happy about these news is Kevin Barnes off of Montreal, who wrote the following Tweet today on the band's official Twitter account:

so happy!1 of r fave bands just signed 2 PV! if u get the chance to see them live,do it!they're amazing!

Barnes shares Casiokid's passion for weird and wonderful untraditional "dance" songs with funky synths and obscure samples – and theatrical live shows with crazy animal costumes – so I can see why the of Montreal frontman is a fan. Casiokids have done warm-up shows for of Montreal in a past tour of theirs, but the quartet from Bergen is now crossing the atlantic to play three shows on their own in Texas. Having recently witnessed their intense show at By:Larm, I'll join Barnes and wholeheartedly recommend the Casiokids live experience. Catch them if you happen to live near Austin, their live performances are priceless!