By: Renee Canada
1. à tout à l’heure by Bibio – The English music producer has captured a deliciously layered summer groove with 12-string guitar and sampler paired with plastic watering can and garden shears as percussion. Recorded in his garden on a gorgeous sunny day—can you get more summery than that?
2. San Francisco by The Mowgli’s (they are at Bumbershoot)– Having had my own romance with the Bay Area in my college years, I can share The Mowgli’s affection for its vibe in this infectious, peppy, feel-good tune. Even more so, the lyrics of love, brotherhood and universal oneness envelop you in a warm embrace that endures beyond the last note.
3. Let It Live Free by He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister – Oh, this one makes you want tap your feet or swing your body to the beat, calling up images of couples seductively swaying to swampy blues in bars in the sultry South with every window and door wide open. “Let it be free” is the song’s refrain, encouraging us to free our minds and free our hearts and embrace the change of time. One can’t also help but feel inspired to embrace the freedom of the warm, open air, the bare legs and feet, and the lazy, sunny afternoons of summer.
4. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa by Vampire Weekend — It’s not at all surprising that Peter Gabriel decided to cover this song, and not just because he’s mentioned in the lyrics. The kwassa kwassa is a dance rhythm from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, stemming from the ‘70s, where your hands follow your hip movements back and forth. The song moves from the Caribbean with an umbrella drink in hand to the Congo, with some Dave Matthews Band-like melodies tying it all together. Though this song is now a good 5-years-old, it’s still new to me, so yep, I’m including it here.
5. Endless Summer by The Jezabels – I fell in love with this song from the very first note that Australian lead singer Hayley Mary dreamily sang, reminding me of Kate Bush as she vocally soared with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks-like harmonies. Fuzzy guitars meet an intensely rocking drum beat and ethereal lyrics hint of moments and experiences in love that pass by in a blink, but last forever in your mind.
The National used to be the best kept secret in Indie rock but as we all know, a good secret doesn’t stay that way for very long. Even the band admits that they might rather not be known for their first two albums, but starting with their third, Alligator, The National can do no wrong. Alligator is an unusual rock album in that it feels like it shouldn’t work but it does. Lead singer Matt Berninger’s deep one-note baritone and deceptively clunky lyrics (“I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain”) don’t sound like a recipe for superstardom, but this band creates so many layers that you eventually get wrapped up in them. During The National’s live shows, Berringer is known to drink a bottle of wine (from the bottle) while wailing at and literally climbing the rafters. It’s hard to stay remain entirely obscure under those circumstances. Their next album Boxer added to the formula, elaborating on The National’s recipe for sad, sweet nostalgia in the face of things unraveling. The anticipation preceding High Violet, needless to say, was…high. Fans were thrilled and amused when the New York Times accidentally leaked the album a week before its release. From the first muddled guitar strains on the album opener Terrible Love you knew they had another winner, which is a strange word to use because the lyrical content is so dark. Pills to fall asleep, panic, sorrow, deceit, lonely kicks, debt, exhaustion…sounds great, sign me up. The beauty of the album is in the little two and three song thematic passages and the continuing perfection of their sound. Bryan Devendorf’s always propulsive drums have more in common with Taylor Hawkins’ and the Foo Fighters live shows than they do with most Indie rock, and the quivering guitars, stately string arrangements, and later in the album, the atmospheric piano, horns, keyboard and electronics, particularly on Conversation 16 and England, make such a rich sound to make you forget the plague of black dreams and loss as you begin to sing along, “I was afraid I’d eat your brains, cause I’m evil…”
Buy Songs: The National
- Irish blog mp3hugger is taking on new writers and has asked us to join them so we’ll be over there for the foreseeable. Thanks for being so nice and sorry for being so short…Eve x
- Hey! New band alert, the Baxter Special confusingly drift from MBV to acoustic wilderness but we do love ‘The Understudy‘.
- The fab Glaswegians Mitchell Museum are handing out a slew of remixes of their anthem ‘Warning Bells’ and as a treat there is a few free EP’s also available. That’s even better news than Fleet Foxes’s re-emergence.
- One or two people will probably raise at smile now that Fleet Foxes are back. Not only that but they are giving a free taster from the upcoming LP called ‘Helplessness Blues‘.
- And now for something completely different, yeah it’s a creepy shoegazey version of ‘Creep’. We likey, we likey a lot but Matt Finney doesn’t really belong here.
- Slowcoustic has a slowbie from Joe D’Amico new album, quaint and relaxed for another Monday morn.
- Oh So Famous! dishes the electro from the neatly named yet linguistically challenged Ou Est Le Swimming Pool.
- Mr Perpetua is up with the first sun Beams and he has a new Iron & Wine track under his arm.
- Light and airy dreampop from the Delfield’s, a whole album of the stuff for nowt!
- A fall from grace for Mark E. as he sees some rare chart action – well it was back in 70’s so we’ll and he didn’t write the song so we’ll forgive him. Courtesy of the Vinyl Villian.
- Yep, they’re legendary and yep they are famous but that doesn’t stop Faust from giving some of their new stuff away for free. As moody as expected and quite a thrill it must be said. Coming to a cinema near you soon, Mogwai you could do with taking notes.
- Ahh, the mystery of the band with just one good song just rolls on and on. Heartbreaking.
- Toad has a spring in his step, a nice 5-song selection in his mp3 player and a word of congrats for perhaps the most annoying tennis player that ever was.
- After the slight disappointment of ‘Breaker Breaker’, the first taster from PB&J’s new album, the Swedes follow it up with something a bit better (still not convinced mind, let’s be honest we’re still pretty disappointed) as covered by those sufjan obsessives (just a guess) All Things Go.
- Don’t worry we don’t have a clue what they’re talking about half the time either. Still pretty like flowers though. Said The Gramophone has 2 new tracks for your perusal, Reiko Kudo one is especially fetching.
- No it’s not lord henry in cool artistic endeavour, more a band YANP can tell you all about over here.
- If ‘James Vincent McMorrow is Dublin’s answer to Bon Iver‘ is not enough to curl your ears then you should probably head over to the HearYa blog for a tempting piece of said McMorrow. Meanwhile we’ll probably just whistle ‘Cheer Up Charlie’ instead.
- A new blog called Bourgeois Blue has us excited because they’ve already given us the heads up on a newbie for us called the Young Evils. We’ll be keeping a close eye on new developments over there and boy do we love their passion.
- Colin speaks about and links to a band from 1987 called the Cats Head, who sound 1987 but that’s a really good thing right? Yes it is, you hipster bumpkins.
- This was intended as a Christmas song by Beach House but probably works better for January. Oh how easy it is to twist things for our own uses.
- What do you make of this? Our ears have opened to a new world.
- The BBC via Lauren Laverne are hyping Yuck‘s ‘Coconut Bible’. Hooray for b-sides!
- Nirvana will never be far from our consciousness, they were that sort of band. They played some gigs in Ireland in the early 90’s, one of which – Cork’s Sir Henry’s in 1991 – has been uncovered by Jim Carroll and one of his readers. My, what a delightful surprise this is. And for this gift I feel blessed. Some classic vids from the band here.
- Xrfarflight from Hamburg have a neat new EP for download. They sound british in many ways, accents included!
- Sweden’s The Radio Dept. might not always hit the bullseye but then have you heard how brill their bullseyes are? No? Well you should scramble over to their free download page which is a mass of brilliant radio jingles.
- Because we are in a funny kind of mood this mornin’ we’ve fallen badly for the broken down children’s toy that is ‘Seagull‘ from Hot Sugar. It’s like Def Leppard never happened.
- Das Kliencum does a good impression of Indie Rock Cafe and comes close with a bumper post full of new songs (episode 321, wowsers!) from bands we’re hearing about for the first time.
- Mega mega bright thing courtesy of Indie Rock Cafe with a huge roundup of the best new releases. Very impressive dispatch from a much underrated blog.
- Baltimore’s Celebration appear to have lost the plot but in the process found the mystery of the tarot. No matter, they still so fine to us. Their new album is available for name-your-price which means anywhere from free to 1 million dollars. You decide or rather let the cards do it for you.
- FMLY turn out a nice Animal Collectivesque tune of the day from Birthdays. As sweet as cake.
- They mightn’t do much in the way of downloadable tracks (hit return) but that doesn’t stop Tiny Mix Tapes from being one of the best music sites. It’s the humour you see. Anyway, here is something to wake you from couch potato land – a track from Capillary Action – everyone now Give It Up, Give It Up, Give It Up.
- You can bank on northern rock.
- New song from Bright Eyes in exchange for your little old email address!
- Will Patterson is but a tadpole but his music has been charming us for a couple of years now. His 4th (!!!) album as Sleep Good is out now on Autobus and there are a couple of freebies available on their site. He’ll make the jump soon I’m sure.
- Oooh this is spooky from the Swedish only Swedesplease blog (run by an American!). Christine Owman can call around my house any day, except Halloween.
- Most of us have been to the Canaries but how many have danced to a tune from an act from there? Lots I would say unless the joys of El Guincho are still foreign to you. Here is a mardy gras delight called ‘Palmitos Park‘.
- An initially reticent Nay is eyeing up Go Panda Go (not to be mixed up with the other Irish band Panda Kopanda) and their new song ‘DeCoded’ before squarely jumping to their defence. A shot in the arm for conservation we say.
- If you are into such things PMA has a (low bitrate) track from the upcoming R.E.M. Album ‘Collapse Into Now’ , we’ll just stipe our lip and let you decide whether it is any cop.
- Some nice kookiness a la Andrew Bird from the bloggers friend John Valderslice on his new song ‘The Piano Lesson‘. Seems he has stepped up his game and we’re roaring him on.
- Bearded folk be alert because you favourite bearded folky Iron & Wine is handing out a track from his new album. For rest of us it’s razor time.
- New electronica artist we’re digging called Teeel (anything but wooden) is giving a song from his forthcoming album away. ‘Triangle Waves’ is minimalist but stands out from its contemporaries via its Kraftwerk motions.
- A quiet start to Wednesday courtesy of Little Tybee and their ‘Nero‘. Soothing stuff, more of which can be heard on ‘Humourous To Bees’ which is out in April.
- The Guardian is reporting on a free album from the Something In Construction label to coincide with their 100th release. Top notch stuff available from Chappo, A Lull, Houses and Memory Tapes.
- mp3hugger looks back into his own archives (5 years worth) and pulls what sounds like an epic track from the now sadly defunct London combo Sunny Day Sets Fire (name chosen by a computer btw – some things should be left to us humans).
- David’s daily deluge of freebies includes a delightful new artist called Dolfish with a neat line in Daniel Johnston homilies.
- Last.fm – an online music scribbler – has hundreds of free mp3s and right now sitting at the top of the pile is a pile driver from Fanfarlo called ‘I’m a Pilot’. Incidentally the band are giving a free College Radio Session away from their site.
- The Interpol sounding Significant Other are giving a single away for free. Bright lights? Maybe.
- For those who prefer Radiohead Mk 1.0 (us, us, us) then Vinyl Villain should be your next stop for much reminiscing about the old days and how much better they used to be.
- New Things On The Blog does a piece on electronic whizzkid Golden Ages along with a haul of free tracks – he is loud but very very close to being perfect.
- The zeitgeist is well and truly safe in Woodsman‘s hands. Nicely spotted by Mike Mineo of Obscure Sound. Further props to Mike for tagging his mp3s so well, a rarity unfortunately.
- If the common denominator of time being on ones side, owning an iPhone and living in the UK is YOU then you can download the Streets LP for free. It’s a bit of a chore but Some Kind Of Awesome have all the scandal and the album for stream.
- Holy F**k, no not the splendiferous band of the same name but Liam Gallagher’s attrocious new project Beady Eye. Stream (no download, couldn’t do that to you) the Roller (new (old) John Lennon single culled from archives he thought he’d destroyed) on Under The Radar (trade descriptions act anyone?). And Andy Bell, all your Ride goodness has been sullied forever.
- Some top geezers named the Dodo Fightback release their new EP to the world for nadda. We can vouch for their greatness based on past releases.
- The bewilderingly popular Gorilla vs. Bear ushers new songs in the way others take their breath. Consistently short on narrative it has a great record on firsts so you got to paw it to them. Today they have Irish band Solar Bears on remix duty. Huzzah.
- Top notcher Said The Gramophone has a delightful piece (the song and the words) from Shugo Tokumaru to brighten your day. Just think about it, the hump is only 36 hours away!
- The All Things Go blog has just turned 5 and has picked 2 appropriate songs from Sufjan Stevens and Noah and the Whale (pre-order their ‘Last Night On Earth’ before it’s too late!) to celebrate. Some achievement Zack, kudos!
- Muzzle of Bees is showcasing Over The Rhine and boy do they have attitude. Don’t mess with ‘em.
- Feeling chilled out but wanna go positively icicle? Then you’ve gotta visit Tearjerker’s bandcamp for lots of slow electronic marches northwards.
- Something from the distant past but still sounding magical from Voice of the Beehive. Madrid’s 7iete Pulgados is a blog we’ve just found but their selections from the vault are very much to our own liking – like this little heartbreaker from the Harvest Ministers.
- Lord Huron is becoming quite the blogger’s favourite (and you can include us in that statement) for his tropical bellydances, his newest effort is being hosted by FMLY who don’t appear to be your standard bog ordinary spotty geeks sitting behind a luminous screen. Incidental note re Monsieur Huron, my Nan really likes his use of elephants in his promo shots.
- The adorable Ravens & Chimes are giving their new single ‘Division Street‘ away for free (no email address required, only a set of finely tuned ears) and it’s purely belter (not that they come from the west country or anything).
- Brooklyn girl Computer Magic only entered the scene last year but already she has the blogs in a spin. Lots to download gratis from her site if you’re into electro sheen.
- Our inbox was full after a weekend of submissions, the best of which were the lounge lizards Queen Elvis (with a singer that sounds very like Carol Keogh), Chicago’s Aktar Aktar who have a cosily robotic take on indie rock and the jazzy jeff funk of The Interstellar Elevators.
- The Home Tapes label prove they are mp3 sweethearts with a haul of great free tracks from the likes of Bear in Heaven, Slaraffenland and Pattern is Movement.
- Rewind your head back 24 hours and imagine it’s a pleasant valley Sunday courtesy of the Wedding Present and Vinyl Villain. Stop smiling ya monkee.
- What a lovely start to the week with a new track from Oxford trio Jonquil courtesy of SF’s 5 Acts.
- The voice is distinctive and the song has a little something later Gomez records have been missing. Ben Ottewell continues his quest to bring genres that are not normally the preserve of indiedom in from the cold. Still it’s still not this.
- The hugely impressive and wide ranging L.A. Record have featured a band we’re tracking ourselves called Hi Ho Silver Oh (says it all really). L.A.R. Really get into the nitty gritty of this slightly experimental yet pretty tune.
- Hark! It’s 2 new songs from Welsh wizards Los Campesinos! (including a festive one), both of which are available on the letterly titled DBF-Music blog. The ‘Theme From R.A.S.H.’ is, dare we say it, quite catchy. You + Me = Dancing?
- Sonic Bids (EPK land) was the precursor to bandcamp except there was money involved. It is a great source of free stuff from bands on the lookout for new fans. Have a good mooch around but to get to you started here is a fab band called Unsparing Sea we’ve admired for the longest time. Check out ‘The Diamond Caverns’, stupendously awkward.
- So daft it could almost be I’m From Barcelona if they spent 3 hours spinning in a tumbler dryer. Utopia Park are to be commended for the madness that is ‘So Long Silly Rabbit‘. Lettuce all thank them.
- Must be a C90 as Consequence of Sound’s Friday mixtape is an absolute monster of free tunes. ‘The Wedding Song’ by Heidecker & Wood (are they related to the blogger?) is particularly atrocious but the standard overall is quite high. Looking forward to next Friday already!
- Oh yes! Little Boots visits Daytrotter in a dream move. She recorded her best stuff via youtube from her bedroom so the dusty studio will suit her perfectly.
- Leading Irish blog Nialler9 features Billy Bragg’s son (or thereabouts) who calls himself Zoo Kid. Not sure about this, would be interesting to see the reaction if he was 27. Apathy methinks, I know a 2 year old who can whistle dixie.
- QBIM‘s has the big bold sound of Reversing Falls which have a lot going on in the confines of a tiny digital file. Apparently all 15 in the band can comfortably fit into a Morris Minor.
- Wow, now this is a real find courtesy of Knut (thanks Knut!). EardrumsPop is a Norwegian label that sprung from the music blog of the same name. We love Eardrumspop for 3 reasons, first the music is ace, second it is so beautifully packaged for the digital world and third every single release on the label is completely FREE. Needless to say we were salivating at the though and have a weekend’s work ahead to get through it all but our first impressions are that Baffin Island might just be our favourites.
- How about completely free streaming of 6 million+ tracks? Trying out the WE7 service this morning and it’s ace. Bye bye radio and go riddance to mid-atlantic accents. Get started here.
- Unless you’ve only just discovered the internet you should have heard of the music blog aggregators the Hype Machine and Elbows but have you heard of the potential huge shuffler.fm? We’re impressed as are, I’m sure, the music bloggers who are going to harvest quality hits.
- How about this for a conclave of loveliness, lovely Bar/None label (hi Mark!), lovely band Standard Fare and lovely Brooklyn Vegan blog for hosting a lovely song called ‘Dancing’. Nice.
- We’re always sniffing for new free stuff so that’s why ‘Cocaine‘ and its ilk from the Leadership went down (up) a treat. They have an album of their grizzled rock to give away on their bandcamp.
- Indie Muse pulls a slow one from his back pocket and we’re impressed. Yellow Ostrich are a new one on us but IM has all the deets and some clever songs. Incidentally Yellow Ostrich’s album ‘The Mistress‘ is free or for whatever you can afford. Wowsers.
- Bit late this given that it was a Christmas present from the band but it’s still available for download so what the heck. Low are offering a live EP recorded in Holland, slowly does it…..
- We’ll probably be dipping into Shelflife‘s catalogue pretty frequently because of the aceness on offer. Don’t believe us, well listen to ‘I Lost My Colour Vision‘ for a couple of seconds and if you are not nodding like it’s 1984 by then you are a prude.
- 5acts has one of our fave songs from last year ‘When We Were Young’ from new band Hosannas. Praise the lord!
- Norway’s Remington Super 60 run their own label and on it they give most of their music away for free. If you are in the mood for happiness then their cute tunes will do the trick.