PS I Love You :: "Facelove"

On the day after we walked Wolf Parade out to a soft patch of the backyard and buried her (this is what bands call an "indefinite hiatus"), PS I Love You's fuzz-heavy, guitar-charging, yelp-fest "Facelove" feels appropriate. As always with things of this nature, nothing will exactly replace her, even if the new iteration looks or sounds like the last one, but that doesn't mean PS I Love You are bad, owing what they do to their now deceased predecessor. Think of them as carriers of a worthwhile torch, rather than zombies walking through Ontario wearing Spencer Krug's jacket.

Listen :: PS I Love You - "Facelove"
Listen :: PS I Love You - "2012"


Everything Everything :: "Photoshop Handsome" [Il Figures Remix]

If Clock Opera hadn't remixed Marina's "I Am Not A Robot" this year, this Il Figures remix of Everything Everything's "Photoshop Handsome" would certainly be our favorite of the year; which is a fancy way of saying, there's nothing wrong with the medal stand. "Photoshop Handsome" is known unofficially in our circle of friends as "that song that has the extra life line in it," nominally referencing video game metaphors with a straight face over beatnik synths. On this recasting, lasers and packaged drums open like a Nintendo playing a drum interlude (see, now that's a video game simile), before shimmering loops and swirling strings soar over glitchy beats, turning "Photoshop Handsome" into one of those life-affirming anthems with "I will give you an extra life" as its marching orders. The original was twitchy, late night and underground. This version takes us to the top of the bell tower shouting the central lyric as evangalism. If it's something this good, you need everyone to hear it.

Everything Everything - Photoshop Handsome (II Figures Remix final) by EverythingEverything


Marina and the Diamonds :: "Obsessions" [oOoOO Remix]

The first demos that ever surfaced on Marina and the Diamonds were the tiny, echoing type. It was just her and a piano, the beautiful brunette going live to tape. This original iteration of Marina is now long gone, lost in a sea of publicity and an excellent first LP, meaning that demo moment in 2008 is today recapturable only in memory and in the power of a shockingly lonely remix from oOoOO. Dropped in a pool of liquid lithium, the remix ripples out from the point of impact with chilly snyths and the echoing vocals that managed to forecast so much with so little three years ago.

Marina And The Diamonds - Obsessions (oOoOO RMX) by Radar Maker


Kanye West @ Bowery Ballroom [10.23.10]

Yesterday as news leaked out that Kanye West would be playing Bowery Ballroom, I was on a train from DC to Providence. Immediately emailing my editor with Bowery Presents, I swore I would get off in New York if he could set up a guest list for the show. We had 70 minutes to make it happen and, well, it didn't happen in time. No hard feelings and an amazing effort, but what about the people who snuck through Ticketmaster's labyrinth and paid their 106 dollars to see Mr. West? They saw the entirety of West's new record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and an encore that would close with a nearly ten minute rant. By all reports it was explosive, heavily documented and down right weird. Would you expect anything less?


Abe :: "Think Of More"

Like a lost the XX demo that got pressed on vinyl and ended up on your record player, spinning too fast with a glitches in the grooves, Abe stutters alive with atmospheric minimalism, only to explode out of the darkness over the clouds. "Think Of More" takes off into a glittering array of vocal loops and twinkling keys, each time settling back the austerity of the verses. But these breaks, these tense little eruptions, are waking up with stars in your eyes, a zero-gravity dream that seems very, very real.


Interview :: Acid House Kings [11.21.10]

Acid House Kings are like a huge smile from Sweden. With their next LP on deck for release, a new single on the loose, we shot some emails back and forth with Johan. He reflected on small themes like fears of dying, how to we learn to love, and why people don't (but should) buy their records. Follow us and them.


California Wives :: "Purple"

California Wives' Affair EP is one of the best of the year, echoing the same territory, though profoundly more American and sunwashed, that The Stills charted with such depth and efficacy on their first record in 2003. The second song to be released from the EP, "Purple" is full of ratatat, dance-rock drums and a pace that leaves the song and its singer out of breath. This speed is matched by lyrical sparseness and a collision to the finish leaving more questions than answers. Expansive, but soft at the edges, with just enough taut energy to vibrate off the ground, "Purple," will send you soaring into, all apologies to Michael Chabon, a winter of undialated times.

Listen :: California Wives - "Purple"


Joy Formidable :: "Whirring" [Live at Bowery Ballroom 11.16.10]

Joy Formidable have been one of our favorite new bands ever since NME gave away their debut EP in early '09. Over the last two years, we've caught them opening for Passion Pit at T5 and crushing the basement of Union Hall. They are one of the most explosive rock bands touring, and this is no more evident than on "Whirring," a song that took over and erupted at a sold out Bowery Ballroom last night.

Shadow Shadow Shade :: "Say Yes"

We aren't too polite to be exuberant. Or, if we are, we shouldn't be. We aren't so cool that we can't be impressed. We aren't so critical that we've lost the ability to affirm anything. We aren't so artsy that we associate bombast with a lack of credibility. Or, if we are we shouldn't be. The seven members of Los Angeles' traveling roadshow Shadow Shadow Shade are none of the above in their creation of big, stomping, wide-open "Say Yes," from their self-titled debut record. Built on the wreckage of the band Irving, this iteration crowds themselves on the tiny club stages of LA, before trying to blow the roof off with a spectacular blend of throw-back pop and rock. Think of the band Fun, the ashes of the Format and then add some Southern rock and less polish in the group vocals. And if you can find a way to hate that, see above.

Listen :: Shadow Shadow Shade - "Say Yes"


Murder Mystery :: "Problems"

Last week I was in a conversation about whether or not we become more or less selfish as time goes on. In essence, does physical maturity necessarily lead to altruism or does it just give you a better vocabulary for why you'll do what ever the hell you want? The trappings of adolescence are undeniably snow-globish; we are limited and painfully focused on ourselves. But what next? Murder Mystery offers a delicate slice of electro-pop into this void. Lush synths meander toward a chorus built on the lyric, "After day after day in a row/yeah, I've got problems of my own." These are the silky, adorable female vocals of the Caroline Polachek school, making the chorus seem somehow less about declaring a republic of self. So maybe we aren't less selfish; we just know what we can fix and what we can't.

Listen :: Murder Mystery - "Problems"


Acrylics :: "Nightwatch"

It could be this band promo photo, but it seems like Acrylics live in the middle of a 3-minute 21-second movie montage. You know, the ones that are inserted to explain certain circumstantial details of the plot; the things that the director needs you to know but doesn't have time to labor over. For Acrylics, their movie is something slick, maybe the lush neon of a glowing downtown, and the band is in their Sunday worst, playful in the exploration of the side streets, youthfully optimistic without being annoying. On "Nightwatch," the band insists they believe in both truth and infinity before light-hearted guitars lead us back out into a street where the cars always stop for two pedestrians weaving in and out of order, hands held and throats straining with laughter you can't hear over the music.

Listen :: Acrylics - "Nightwatch"


Wildlife :: "Stand In The Water"

Toronto's Wildlife sound a bit like Wolf Parade; it's best to get this out of the way early because I would hate for it to be a distraction from what is an incredibly impressive debut in its own right. On "Stand In The Water," the band explodes out of its first insistent motifs with a soaring breakdown at the 1.49 mark. Gaining momentum from there, the song is a miasma of group vocals, double-tap drums and roaring major keys. The final movement is meant to be turned up, all these disparate elements colliding and the song's one major lyrical contingency, "As long as you're looking for me," shifting into real marching orders, the shout-along, "We're all going somewhere!" Even with a song built on a tiny guitar progression, you can be certain Wildlife is absolutely headed somewhere.

Wildlife- "Stand In The Water" by 32feet


Computer Magic :: "The End Of Time"

One our favorite new New York artists is the shabby, youthful lo-disco of Computer Magic. On latest single, and this is becoming a link in a chain of good ones, "The End Of Time," shimmering and shuddering synths blink under the hook-filled melodies that are actively making this girl a good name. Not nearly as menacing as the name might suggest, the tune seems to evaporate into thin air after the last chorus, suggesting that this apocalypse, whatever is it is, might be sublime.

The End of Time by Computer Magic


Interview :: The Jezabels [11.6.10]

Sometimes when you see a band live, you just know they are the real deal. Seeing the Jezabels at Fat Baby during CMJ was exactly this moment. With three enormous EPs in the can, a full length on the way in 2011 and certain label interest, they are one of our break out acts of the next year. Last week we traded some emails about fear of cruise ships, shooting pool and what the hell is next, you know, other than being the biggest little band in the world.


Acid House Kings :: "Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?"

Even in a world of Belle and Sebastians, Camera Obscuras and Lucksmiths (RIP), Acid House Kings make the sunniest of sunshine pop. With four albums under their belt and standing threat from 2005 that they would release a record "defining the meaning of pop music" in 2010, they are back with digitial single, "Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?," forcasting a coming LP. It is a dizzy, swirling mix of sacherrine strings and lighter-than-air guitars, meditating on the central and age-old theme of unrequited love. But human relations are never so simple. Call-and-response vocals tinge the edges of the chorus, as the final question is ultimately posed, not about love or friendship but about possession, "Baby, will you be mine?"

Listen :: Acid House Kings - "Are We Lover Or Are We Friends?"
Listen :: Acid House Kings - "This Heart Is A Stone"
Listen :: Acid House Kings - "Do What You Want To Do"
Listen :: Acid House Kings - "Sunday Morning"


Wolf Gang :: "Lions In Their Cages" [Memory Tapes Remix]

Wolf Gang's stunning single, "Lions In Their Cages" is getting the rework from the Memory Tapes folks. Mixing the original's penchant for elevation with the cold medicine space of Memory Tapes sonics seems antithetical, until you hear the walking bass line step out underneath Max McElligot's soaring vocals, somehow both detached from and connected to their original intentions. Memory Tapes settle in on the central lyric, "Check the time/'cause time keeps moving on and on," pulling it out with greater and greater authority. The bridge sees a glittering array of synths explore every direction of your headphones before we again return to McElligot's reminder to look at our watches. It is, after all, almost over.

Wolf Gang - Lions In Cages (Memory Tapes Remix) by radarmaker


Lord Huron :: "Mighty"

Remember the fall of 2009, when Vampire Weekend's "Horchata" snuck onto your hard drive and exploded with a burst, like the first warm days of spring? What about October 1990, when Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints did the same thing for a generation of music fans still so stunned by Graceland that they claimed the follow up was somewhat underwhelming?

Los Angeles' Lord Huron has broken through the clouds with the a similar impulse, if without the catalogue of Simon or the 2010 commercial success of Vampire Weekend. On "Mighty," he uses the same polyrythmic impulses and tribal flair to create a nearly six-minute meditation on the power of youth. It glitters and soars, sounding like Yeasayer taking on "The Obvious Child," with all the boldness and clarity of an artist certain of his own power. One of the year's best songs, "Mighty" will clear your tangled mind, brighten the darkest corners, stunning to submission the doubters and converting the wicked.

Listen :: Lord Huron - "Mighty"


Erland & The Carnival :: "Trouble In Mind"

Sounding a bit like the traveling roadshow their name insinuates, Erland & The Carnival craft a specific brand of post-folk that manages to be hushed without telling any secrets. In fact, it is perhaps the directness of the lyrics on the rambling, "Trouble In Mind" that prove most compelling. The unavoidable admission of the chorus, "I didn't mean to disappoint you/I'm just sorry that I had to" gains an even sharper edge on the back of the second couplet, "Didn't mean to disappoint you/I'm just sorry that I did." The arrangement slams its doors shut, shrugs with pointed and only partial regret, and shuffles down the road with a wake of casual destruction in its rearview mirror.

Listen :: Erland & The Carnival - "Trouble In Mind"

Erland & The Carnival played Knitting Factory last night and take the stage at Mercury Lounge this evening.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. :: "Vocal Cords" [Diego and the Dissidents Remix]

One of the most promising bands on the horizon of your tasteless friend's iTunes is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Rephrased as an English sentence: This is a band you have the pleasure of enjoying now, before you have to reconsider your original feelings because of how many people (and not terribly credible critics of music either) like them. We caught the Dale E. boys at CMJ and were floored by how they were able to operate without all the ironic overtones of their normal stage show. Sonically, it is the mixture of the second Vampire Weekend record and the melodic subtlty of a Justin Vernon tune. In that moment before they blow up, they have a remix EP ready with retakes done by the likes of Deastro. On this reimagining of "Vocal Chords," the back beat emerges as a Nintendo drum pad while the melody soars out of zeros and ones with the ebullience of a helium balloon fleeing a child's hand. Now, whether that child had good enough taste to appreciate the balloon is another matter entirely.

Listen :: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - "Vocal Chords" [Diego and the Dissidents remix]

Frightened Rabbit [feat. Craig Finn] :: "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart"

Last night at Terminal 5 Craig Finn joined Frightened Rabbit on an explosive little cover of Elton John and Kiki Dee's 1976 hit, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." From the lead singers of two bands who traffic so much in heart-break, it is a plea and a bit of irony in the melody and lyrics of a gay man and a motown chick from the 70s. Seems just about correct for a Scot and a guy from Brooklyn who have written enough misery to fill a book.