Monday, July 30, 2007


I've been trying to spend as much time with the new Stars album In the Bedroom After the War as I can lately. And therein lies the problem. Maybe I've changed, maybe they have. Maybe they've grown up faster than me but I feel as if I'm forcing myself to love this album.

Amy Milan's voice is as beautiful and probably more prominent here than ever. The album on a whole is just that - very pretty, but I can't find anything quite evocative about it. There is a pronounced lack of the vibrance or bravado I guess that was so evident in songs like "Set Yourself on Fire," and especially "Your Ex-lover is Dead." There is a definite step away from the sound of "Ageless Beauty," which was new and shoegazery for Stars in 2005 but there's nothing like that here. In the Bedroom After the War recalls biologically and sonically to the sound of Torquil Campbell's adult contemporary side project Memphis and the first Stars album Heart.

Nearly every song here is a ballad - if there's anything that Stars have never lacked, it's earnestness and this album bleeds it. And if you ever forget it - the strings that accent nearly every track will remind you - and if not nearly every track - then why does it feel that way? I know, Stars use strings frequently and have done so for a while but instead of being the featured voice like they have in the past, they seem to be a cloying Goo Goo Dollsish presence here - just a production effect - and I guess that's just a bit disappointing.

Probably my favorite song on the album is "My favorite book," which is introduced by a divine Amy Milan vocal - I mean seriously she sounds just as good as anyone acapella. It then proceeds into a jazzy Hall and Oatesy chorus full of island frills and Doo doo doo's which though totally out of character for Stars is actually a pretty interesting dynamic. There are interesting moments in other songs as well: "Life 2 The Unhappy Ending," features a short but well done venture in to electrodance and Torquil Campbell has his own Michael Jackson er...Justin Timberlake moment on "The Ghost of Geneva Heights."

None of the songs have quite the power though of past Stars efforts. Even the released track - "The Night Starts Here," isn't the jam I'm gonna start my night out with - of course unless it's Tuesday and "OMFG I have a BIG CLIENT to meet with at 8am tomorrow." No, it really only has one place and that's in your bedroom after like a really big fight or something and it's just fine that way but that's all.

My Favorite Book.mp3
The Night Starts Here.mp3

A.A. Bondy

I'm not really usually a huge singer songwriter fan but there's something pretty incredible going on here with A.A. Bondy. The picking in "Black Rain" is beautiful. Imagine Zeppelin's "Going to California," without the multitracking.

The album exudes the folk timbre that M. Ward has done very succesfully. But on American Hearts, Bondy keeps the songs pretty minimalist - only his voice and the occasional harmonica to accompany the amazing guitar playing. Bondy's voice can sometimes sound a bit like Conor Oberst, but thankfully without all the drama - though I do know that he has played some shows with him.

American Hearts is out September 4th.

Black Rain, Black Rain.mp3

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Wes Anderson

Well the Wes Anderson movie looks fantastic of course. Adrien Brody is playing surrogate for Luke Wilson but that seems to work just fine. I'll probably be watching this trailer about 40 more times between now and release (September 27th in NYC).

The songs in the trailer are from The Kinks. If you want to download them, go here: The Playlist.

Please Refrain From Purchasing the Hyperbole

This is the first installment of a series I've always wanted to do. Basically bloggers like to talk on and on about how one or another artist is all great and then other bloggers start to think to themselves - "o well I better write something about this artist as well or I won't be interhip," and then you just end up in this quagmire of bloated talk about an artist who's music just isn't all that great but just happens to be the artist of the moment. E.g. Tapes n Tapes, Joanna Newsome. So this little feature is where I'll point out who those artists are and why you should maybe give a second thought to purchasing the hyperbole.

St. Vincent (Annie Hall) has eyes that are so big you'd think she was about to eat your grandmother. According to her press photos she also enjoys wearing garbage bags, pretending to be lost, and standing barefoot in puddles of water while holding giant metal rods towards darkening thunderclouds.

She actually plays the guitar pretty well but she sings like a fed up Mary Poppins. Probably the only tolerable song I have heard from her with the possible exception of a cover of "These Days," a song which I had previously thought to be unbutcherable is called "Now, Now." The song is accented by these precious little guitar harmonics and for four minutes Annie manages to channel her innate cuteness.

The rest of the songs sound as if they were recorded to soundtrack a musical where Woody Allen has imprisoned her in the dungeon of a transylvanian castle, lets her out for two days in Prague, and then forces her back into the dungeon to compose an album while Woody's neurosis gradually wins her over.

If you still want an mp3 from St. Vincent then I suggest you try the internet - they're giving em out for free everywhere.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Candy Bars

I've been looking for an excuse to post about Tampa's amazing and totally underhyped band The Candy Bars since I started blogging. Well I just read on their MySpace that they finally booked their first shows in NYC and I couldn't be more excited for them. Since NYC is sorta my other hometown and since I'm hanging out in Sarasota (My other other hometown) this week I guess that gives me an excuse, right? I'm just a little disappointed that I'll miss them again as I'm leaving Florida soon and won't be in NYC for their show.

The Candy Bars hypnotic and charming release On Cutting Ti-Gers in Half and Understanding Narravation was easily one of my favorite albums of 2006. Start with a bit of Kevin Shields and Jesus and the Mary Chain, throw in a dash of Nine Inch Nails, yes fucking Nine Inch Nails, and top it off with mesmerizing Beach Boys quality melodies and you begin to understand what The Candy Bars are about. The effect is devastatingly good. Reverby electric guitars, distorted vocals, chamber pop arrangements - it's all there.

The Candy Bars - The Flood in Your Old Town.mp3

The Candy Bars - Violets

Tour Dates:

July 14th - Tampa - New World Brewery
July 28th - Brooklyn - Union Hall w/ Beni Hemm Hemm!!!
July 29th - NYC - Piano's


Well I just posted on Minus Story, the Uh...American version of Windmill. Apparently Windmill released a 7 song LP back in September of last year and now have a 12 song EP Puddle City Racing Lights available with a number of the same tracks. Anyhow, they've been getting a decent amount of blog love lately. They've got a big ambitious sound and I've heard a lot of Arcade Fire comparisons which is a reach - ya Windmill's sound is expansive in purpose but not realized the way that Arcade Fire is with their menagerie of sound. Comparison's to Minus Story and Florida's Radical Face are much more apt.

Windmill - Tokyo Moon.mp3

Windmill Myspace

Monday, July 2, 2007

Van She Tech

Holy crap I just banged my head through a fourteen foot ceiling. So far Feist's latest album The Reminder has really done nothing remarkable for me. Ya I thought it was nice and cute and fine to listen to and completely noncomplainable and then GWFA posts a remix of 1234 from Van She Tech and I lose my shit. Female vocals always seem to accent the best electronic and dance music but I've never really considered Feist to be an artist who could be translated well in to that genre. But it's fucking ONE TWO THREE FOUR - this song was just begging to be transformed into ceiling banging hotness and god this remix just does it for me.

Feist - 1234(Van She Tech Remix)

Edit: I just ran a credit report or a fact check or hired a private detective / unemployed blogger and it turns out that Van She Tech are actually the same guys in the band Van She - they've just been focused more on remixing these days. Anyhow I always enjoyed this song:

Van She - Kelly