I get the warm and fuzzies whenever Jenny Lewis‘s voice comes on.
In true form, I got them when I listened to NPR’s First Listen of The Voyager (out July 29 via Warner Bros Rec) for the first time last night.
She’s perfected the art of nostalgia, in my books.
Though it wasn’t the first show I’d been to, seeing Rilo Kiley live was probably the first show that moved me. (I know, “ew ugh gross”–BUT IT DID! It really did make an impact.) It was Sam’s first show ever, and she, Hannah, and I went downtown right after school (backpacks and all) and ended up pretty much front row centre. It’s the one concert I never forget I went to, and it’s always one that I bring up if anyone asks me for my dreaded “best of” list. If you know me at all, you know that I am incredibly indecisive. Like, the kind of indecisive that finds me standing in front of the toothbrush section for a good 2 minutes trying to figure out if I want to switch brands or if I want the soft or medium bristles this time or if I need a brush with a tongue cleaner; the kind that waits until the last hour of the last day of university acceptance to choose which university I’m going to spend the next 4 years of my life.
So the fact that Jenny Lewis is a steady for me is a pretty big deal. Jenny in all her forms: Rilo Kiley, with the Watson Twins, with Johnathan Rice. Whatever. As long as she’s involved. Obviously, there are certain albums I prefer to others (for me, Under the Blacklight is the tiniest blip in her catalogue), but hey, that’s human nature and the constant progression of an artist, and I’m down for the ride.
Faves on first listen: “Head Underwater,” “She’s Not Me,” “The New You,” “Aloha & the Three Johns”
On another note: “Slippery Slope” sounds so much like “Under the Blacklight” it’s a bit startling on first listen. So many thoughts ran through my mind: Was in intentional? Perhaps a call back? It had to be a conscious decision right? Right?
I leave you with the video for “One of the Guys,” the first single off the record. Kristen Stewart, Brie Larson, and Academy Award winner (?!?!?) Anne Hathaway are in it. It’s… yeah.
Backstreet Boys > N*Sync
I don’t know about you, but I was a BSB girl back in the day (N*Sync who?). Millennium was the first album I ever owned (sorry Britney), and if last.fm scrobbling and the Internet had existed back then, you best believe the Backstreet Boys would be the #1 top scrobbled artist on my charts.
Clearly Ryan Hemsworth knows what’s up. (90s throwbacks, boy bands, remixes, and Amanda “I’m suing everyone” Bynes.) Chopping up BSB’s 1999 hit, “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely,” amidst stuttering electronic beats and the ever-classic “Amanda please!”, the Halifax, Nova Scotia native gets the nostalgia levels pumpin’ so well that I’m almost left wanting to hear more of the original chorus. But really, it’s the feel good boy band harmonies and flamenco guitar juxtaposed against blitz claps, warped synths, and quick start-stops that makes for bumpin’-thumpin’-fist-pumpin’ good time.
Hello 1999, how nice of the self-professed Remix Ryan Gosling to usher you into the sample-heavy, nostalgia-infused 21st century. #Backstreetsbackalright!
You can download the track here by tweeting (just close the pop-up window and download away if you don’t have twitter) or by clicking the link above!
I used to have a serious aversion to remixes (“ORIGINAL 4EVER”), but I’ve now chalked that up to being young and very very confused. (Never) quit playing (remix) games with my heart, Hemsworth.
If you know me (I’ll assume you don’t), you’ll know that I’m not much for belt-y, powerhouse vocals; I’m more keen on whisper-sweet serenades that require you to almost lean in (even if you’ve got headphones on).
Priscilla Ahn more than checked off that box for me when I first came across her sparse ‘girl with a guitar and a loop and sometimes a harmonica’ easy listening tunes. I caught her at the Drake back in 2009, and sitting cross-legged on the floor with everyone else in tiny venue, there was a collective hush over the crowd and everyone was actually leaning in.
Now she’s back with Sweet Hearts, a duo project with fellow musician Charlie Wadhams, and they’ve just released their mellow, mushy, and blush-worthy self-titled EP for free download just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Or if you’re a single lady (“all the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up!”), why not celebrate Galentine’s Day à la Leslie Knope?
Guys, you can follow suit. And then on the 14th, cozy up with a glass of wine, some cheese, a mirror, and celebrate a little good, healthy narcissism. Celebrate you! (It’ll be like your birthday except better because you’re not a year older!)
Oh sweetheart, when I see you again, you’re never gonna let me go. That’s right, you’ll always be my dearest friend. My, my, I’ll love you till the day I die.
Put on Sweet Hearts’ EP, gaze into your own eyes (that’s what the mirror’s for) and pretend all the lyrics are about you. It’s the new affirmation nation.
[Download]: Sweet Hearts’ EP here by entering your email address!
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Guelph, Ontario dream-pop duo Memoryhouse. Having just self-releasing their digital EP The Years the year before (2010), Sub Pop quickly snatched them up in them in 2011, remastered the EP, added a couple of new tracks, and re-released it–this time with a full-fledged physical release (cd and vinyl).
Their debut full-length, entitled The Slideshow Effect, is due out February 28. “Walk With Me,” the second single from the album, dropped today and is available for the price of an email address (so basically, it’s free)! The cuts that we’ve heard from the new LP thus far are little more uptempo than their predecessors, slightly more sonically optimistic, and much easier to sing along to–which is actually quite fitting since it’s still relatively early into new year and we’re (maybe) still stickin’ to our resolutions and laughably idealistic notions.
The lead single “The Kids Were Wrong” is also available below for less than a penny. With all the controversy surrounding SOPA and PIPA, you really begin to appreciate the exchange of an email address for a track. Commodity exchange for the new age. Oh the beauty of free (or is it “free”?) legal downloads!
The recent couple years have seen an uprising of lo-fi bedroom musicians (see: Youth Lagoon, Coma Cinema) and when Brad Oberhofer appeared on the scene in 2010 unsigned and with a free EP for download, he was no different.
“Heart,” the first single from Oberhofer’s debut LP Time Capsules II (out March 27), is a departure from the reverb-laden fuzz-filled soundscape that we’ve come to identify with him. From the crisp and clear opening notes of a solitude piano to the addition of orchestral strings towards the end, it’s immediately clear that Oberhofer (now signed to Glassnote) is heading in a new, bigger direction. I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first upon hearing that he was going polish up his sound for his full-length, because I worried that it might lose the youthful fervor and frenetic energy of the o0Oo0Oo EP that really caught my attention.
Everything’s a little more pristine and little more calculated and thought out, but the youthful energy (albeit a little more mature) is still there bubbling under the surface, so I think I’m coming around to it. After all, we all have to grow up some time, right? Besides, that signature throaty Oberhofer yelp embedded in mix at the 30-second mark of “Heart” gave me my sigh of relief and kind of sort of won me over.
[MP3]: Oberhofer – “HEART”
Getting to know an artist is like making a new friend.
There are some people that seem standoffish in the beginning (maybe because they’re shy or because they’ve eaten a crap sandwich and it’s ruined their entire day–sandwiches have that kind of effect on people, y’know), so it takes a couple of visits or run-ins for them to get comfortable around you and for you to warm up to them; then there are those people you take an instant liking to (perhaps you both find great pleasure in watching/making fun of what has become of America’s Top Model over the years).
It’s the same with music. There are some musicians that require a couple listens to get into (Joanna Newsom, anyone?) and others where the connection is undeniable and instantaneous. For me, Youth Lagoon was the latter.
Even better, it was like revisiting an old friend. That’s the kind of nostalgia-tinged feeling The Year of Hibernation is wrought with.
“Five years ago, in my backyard I sang love away. Little did I know that real love had not quite yet found me.”
[MP3]: Youth Lagoon – “July”
Raw vocals with a sort of youthful reverie, crackling and hazy with reverb, beg for a closer listen, for a more concentrated ear. With synths, organ, guitar, and some heavy beats layered on–usually starting off quietly and then building up to thicker, fuller sound (think wall-of-sound)–Youth Lagoon crafts introspective bedroom anthems.
Also, I cannot lie. During my first listen of the entire album, I thought it was a girl singing. (Sorry, Trevor.) Alas, Youth Lagoon is Boise, Idaho’s awesomely named Trevor Powers. (Yes, that’s his real name.) And with a name like that and a penchant for bedroom music and introspection, you’d think that Powers might be walking around with a superhero costume hidden underneath his button-ups.
However even amidst the quiet introspection, Powers references the past only as a way to look to the future. Like the experiences and memories that make us who we are today, The Year of Hibernation is a memento of sorts, to the past.
[MP3]: Youth Lagoon – “Cannons”
From the opening track (“Posters”), I could immediately feel a quiet sense of understanding between Powers and I, like a quiet nod. Like, a musical ‘hey, I feel ya!’ What started as a bedroom project (where the whole LP was recorded) has found resonance beyond his four-walls.
You make real friends quickly. You make real friends quickly. But not me.
I get him. I feel where he’s coming from; from his lyrics, to his delivery, to the entire atmosphere that’s created when everything comes together perfectly. And for me, that’s the beautiful thing.
“…But where is her face?”
I’m sure this was the first thought to cross the mind of every single longtime St. Vincent fan when they saw the album art for her forthcoming album, Strange Mercy (out Sept. 13 via 4AD).
When it was first released, I was pretty stunned not to see Annie Clark‘s pale skin and wide, bewildered eyes front and centre among a bed of bouncy curls. I, for one, will admit that I was looking forward to another (for lack of a better word) headshot [classic St. Vincent!], so I was not particularly captivated by the mute tones of the cover and the lack of, well, face.
I was crossing my fingers for some Top Model-worthy, Tyra-sponsored “smizing” this time around! (Smizing is ‘smiling with your eyes’ for those you who aren’t familiar with the term, even though I have no idea why you wouldn’t be since Tyra invented it and mentions it every single time she can get a word in.)
But considering the entirety of the album and the theme of a strange mercy, it’s quite fitting. Whereas Clark’s first two albums were more “people-focused,” Strange Mercy seems to run on a unifying theme, and I can’t wait to see where she takes it and how she weaves it into her lyrics and sounds.
Fans had to unlock this free track by tweeting with the hashtag #strangemercy, so it was all pretty interactive and ingenious on the promotions front.
“I spent the summer on my back…”
“Surgeon” is different from previous material in that it is a bit synth heavy and more electronic-based–lacking the harsh, thrashing guitar sounds (save for build up of screeching synths at the end). However, it’s still classic St. Vincent: wispy and slightly reverbed vocals atop layers of eerie, orchestral, and score-like instrumental tracks. I can dig it.
I have so much love for Memoryhouse that it’s seeping out of my every pore.
But it is summer, so it could just be the heat. I don’t know. Regardless, here is the just released “Modern, Normal”–one of two new tracks that will be added to the re-recorded/remixed/remastered version of The Years EP to be released via Sub Pop. (It will the band’s debut on the label!)
So much Canadian pride going on here. Who needs hockey, anyway!? (Too soon? Not soon enough? Whatever.)
P.S. Apologies for the lack of updates. Life sort of took over unexpectedly, and a person can’t really argue with life right? I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, so expect to see more posts soon!
I’ve been waiting for an eternity for some new Bon Iver, and finally, we get our first taste of new material with the release of the first single off the band’s doubly self-titled sophomore LP–Bon Iver, Bon Iver (due out June 21 via Jagjaguwar).
As usual, the lyrics are cryptic as all hell, but Justin Vernon’s vocals weave themselves into a harmonic tapestry that I want to envelop myself in for days. It’s still the barebones Bon Iver we’ve all come to love, but this time the soundscape is fuller, more vast, and eclectic. The addition of synthesizers and electronic elements embedded into the the backdrop create a heavier, rounded experience.
Sure it’s supposed to be spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a “good winter,” right? I mean, the weather isn’t exactly warm and sunny, and my hands are effectively ice blocks as I type this.
Plus it doesn’t hurt that it’s about a Canadian city, either. Canadian pride and wintery wonderland both check off!
Bon Iver, warm me up.
*Tour dates after the jump! (more…)
Fleet Foxes’ highly regarded sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, was released May 3, but that isn’t stopping Sub Pop from giving away another freebie: “Grown Ocean.“
[MP3]: Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean” (right-click, save as)
If you haven’t already, you can also grab the lead single and title track that was given away as a teaser to the band’s second LP.
Fleet Foxes’ frontman Robin Pecknold also took to twitter a while ago to showcase 3 tracks he’d previously recorded in California while on a break, one of which features Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste.