Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Aid Kit cover Fleet Foxes

Swedish sister-duo perform "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song"

A sweet, soft rendition of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" has just been posted by up-and-coming Swedish sensation First Aid Kit. The cover, performed by sisters Klara & Johanna Söderberg, can be heard at the band's blog (and also below). If you're a fan, then head over to First Aid Kit's MySpace page to hear three tunes off their new EP, Drunken Trees, released on Rabid Records. Now anyone who lands their first record deal along side The Knife must be doing something right... anyone who does that before reaching the age of 18 must be doing everything right. I'd wish the best of luck to these lovely ladies, though it seems they already have that, too. Enjoy!

White Denim - Exposion in November!

Exposion date set to drop

Finally! The boys of White Denim have revealed news on the long delayed release of Exposion. Following a tip from the band, and also just posted over at Gorilla vs. Bear, the band's debut US full length will be officially released November 3, 2008 on Transmission Entertainment. This album is an extremely solid release, and I am very excited for it to make its official debut.

As for what's next, the band is currently finishing yet another LP. According to lead singer James Petralli in an email, "We are recording our new record right now which has a few tunes we played on [the US spring] tour as well as a slew of tunes that we haven't played yet. It has been a long arduous process getting this record out, but we are close..." These are a great group of guys. Even when they're busy on the road they take time to answer questions from obsessed fans like myself. I wish them the best of the luck.

From Exposion: "Heart From Us All"

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Handsome Furs Songs - Wolfe Island Music Festival 2008

Handsome Furs unveil a set with 80% new material

Well this may be a little late, but I got my hands on a bootleg of Handsome Furs' Wolfe Island '08 set, and it's pretty sweet. The recording is a little distorted (apparently low battery on the mic), but you get the picture how sweet this new album is going to be. As Dan stated in the intro, "We're going to play a bunch of songs that we've never played for anyone before." The set kicks off with the foot-stomping, speaker melting "Legal Tender" which sounds even better than it did in Seattle o tour-opener. "Year Zero" follows next (not to be confused with NIN's), which is another quality live track. The whole set is fantastic, even with some technical difficulties during the last half of the show. Closing the night off, the band finished with incredibly catchy "Radio Kaliningrad" (formerly titled "Radio and the Heart" on my April show review). Hopefully now, Sub Pop will decide to release the album soon.

"Legal Tender"*
"Year Zero"*
"Snakes on the Ladder"
"Office of Hearts"*
"Dead + Rural"
"Thy Will"*
"Radio Kaliningrad"*

* New Song (set for release on Face Control)

Listen for yourself: Wolfe Island Music Festival 2008 (Handsome Furs set)

-Much thanks to
rgsc at the forums for the recording and upload.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes EP

Fleet Foxes self-titled 2006 EP

When Fleet Foxes decided to abandon their old sound and concentrate on making the style of music heard on Sun Giant and the critically acclaimed Fleet Foxes LP, they left behind a gem, and buried it deeply in the hard-to-find music section. I'm referring to the band's self-titled, self-released debut EP. Sold almost exclusively in the Seattle area at shows in 2006, this six-song release showcased the band's great potential, and also hinted at the direction the band would soon take. Posted on their MySpace page soon after signing to Sub Pop, the band revealed to its fans a map of where they were headed:
With the new music, we decided to put an emphasis on harmony, simple three- and four-part block harmony. The songs would be simple as well, songs about our friends and family, history, nature, and the things around us in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of complicated vocal melodies, we would try and use guitars and mandolins and banjos and other little guys to fill the melodic spaces in the music. We'd try and avoid conventional song structures, sometimes putting two songs together as one, or avoiding choruses and verses in favor of long vocal rounds and alternating instrumental sections.
This reinvented sound is most exemplified in "Blue Ridge Mountains", in which singer Robin Pecknold sings of his older brother Sean (who's responsible for their music video for "White Winter Hymnal") and alludes to escaping to the chilling back country where shivering dogs rest under the glowing moonlight. While I can't complain with the band's new bearing, I hope that fans, who haven't heard their older sound, are not under the belief that the Fleet Foxes EP is sub-par. On the contrary, this early glimpse at the band's emerging sound is excellent. Below are the key tracks, in my opinion. I always enjoy a little historical context while exploring bands' back catalogs...

Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes EP (2006)
  1. "She Got Dressed"
  2. "In the Hot, Hot Rays"
  3. "Anyone Who's Anyone"
  4. "Textbook Love"
  5. "So Long to the Headstrong"
  6. "Icicle Tusk"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line Review

First Impressions of Ra Ra Riot's debut The Rhumb Line

Any time a band releases its debut LP, which features songs from their early EPs, I always fear that something will be lost in the process. For some strange reason, that first time you hear a song and latch onto it, no other version (whether it's a re-release or someone's cover) can compare to that initial feeling when the hair on your neck stood straight. I'm not sure if the new versions of these songs are entirely that bad (in fact, a lot of times they're cleaner tracks with better recording), they just lose that raw, elemental quality. Take Cold War Kids for instance: when I first got my hands on their 3 EPs (Mulberry Street, With Our Wallets Full, and Up In Rags), I spun those albums incessantly. So when the band finally signed with Downtown and released Robbers & Cowards, I felt that the newer versions lacked the gritty and turbulent sound that characterizes a CWK live show. Don't get me wrong, R&C is a fantastic debut, I just prefer the EPs.

With Ra Ra Riot, however, polish and shine have done wonders to the sound of this Syracuse sextet. Ra Ra Riot's complex and layered orchestral arrangements, which were sometimes hidden on their EP, are truly enhanced with this studio recording. And versions from the EP sound better - you can hear the confidence in these growing musicians... Sadly, though, you can also hear the weight of the band's tragic loss bearing over the new songs:"Dying Is Fine", when first released before John Pike's death, was a bouncy pop song - a fun spin on a sad subject; however, on The Rhumb Line, the newer version of the song has taken on a much darker tone. Nevertheless, on first listen the band seems to have hit its stride. Newer songs like "Oh La", "St. Peter's Day Festival", and "Winter '05" (to name a few) are nice additions to the band's catalog. A pleasant surprise for my ears actually came with the Kate Bush cover, "Suspended in Gaffa".

Take a listen for yourself:

"Oh La"
"Suspended in Gaffa"
"Dying Is Fine"

My prediction: with the positive 4 star review due out in Rolling Stone's next issue, I expect this band to blow up on the college scene (much like we saw with Ra Ra Riot's best friends, Vampire Weekend, after they had their debut release).

If you haven't done so already, go pre-order yourself a copy at Insound... act quickly and receive a free 7" single on blue vinyl!

And if you're in Seattle, check out Ra Ra Riot September 20 at Capitol Hill's newest venue, King Cobra.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty

First listen to Cold War Kids' new single "Something Is Not Right With Me"

With the first bit of news on Cold War Kids' sophomore effort Loyalty to Loyalty since they revamped their website months ago, I was very pleased to see a new track posted at their website, "Something Is Not Right With Me". To download your own copy of the song, head on over to RCRD LBL. As "SINRWM" will undoubtedly be CWK's first single of the album, the band plans to drop their second LP on September 23, 2008.

Also revealed was the track listing:
  1. "Against Privacy"
  2. "Mexican Dogs"
  3. "Every Valley Is Not A Lake"
  4. "Something Is Not Right With Me"
  5. "Welcome To The Occupation"
  6. "Golden Gate Jumpers"
  7. "Avalanche In B"
  8. "I've Seen Enough"
  9. "Every Man I Fall For"
  10. "Dreams Old Men Dream"
  11. "On The Night That My Love Broke Through"
  12. "Relief"
  13. "Cryptomnesia"

Friday, August 1, 2008

We Were Promised Jetpacks

Scotland's Glaswegian Quartet Showcases New Fresh Tunes:

Not since Beta Band's Heroes to Zeroes have I been so excited for a new album to drop out of Scotland - We Were Promised Jetpacks have shown great potential for what's to come... Just check out their MySpace page for some sample tracks. The unsigned four-piece rockers (who are just barely old enough to drink in the US) have created quite the buzz about themselves in the UK, finding air-time on BBC1, and very recently reaching their way across the sea - KEXP here in Seattle has been playing "Quiet Little Voices" quite a lot these days. For a listen, check out these two songs from their self-released, self-titled 2007 EP - reminds me at times of a string-free Ra Ra Riot.

"Quite Little Voices"
"Moving Clocks Run Slow"