I’ve been listening to an early copy of Logan Lynn‘s new album, From Pillar to Post, for a few weeks now, and it’s been gradually infiltrating itself into my brain. The Portland-based Lynn describes his music as ‘electro-pop’, but that carries connotations that are a little too saccharine. The gentle tenor vocals over a background of electronica are like the smooth, reflective surfaces of mirror shards, belying the razor-sharp edges of the complex song structures, syncopation, and bleak lyrics—as his bio puts it, putting the ‘disco’ back into ‘discomfort.’ This album, his third full-length, is on the Dandy Warhols‘ label, Beat the World Records. I don’t know if there’s a release date set for it, but here’s a couple of tracks to whet your appetite in the interim. More on Logan Lynn at his website or on Myspace.
Archive for the ‘Neophile’ Category
I first came across The Craft Economy last year, through a post at Boing Boing. They attracted attention by stapling their CDs to telephone poles in Kensington Market in Toronto, their hometown (and mine). The CDs, released under a Creative Commons license, were part of a protest against Bill C-61, the Canadian analog to the justly-maligned Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Somewhat more to the point, however, I really enjoy their music – it kind of reminds me of a poppier, female-fronted Alkaline Trio. Their new EP, Is On Your Side, came out in the fall, and it’s terrific (and did very well on Canadian college radio). I especially enjoyed the little CanCon lyrical joke embedded into the driving rhythms of “The Tonic” – the lines “Bye-bye mon cowboy/bye-bye mon rodeo,” which sounded really familiar. A few seconds of Googling reminded me that they were from Quebec pop star Mitsou’s first hit in 1988.
And if you’re interested, The Craft Economy makes their tracks available for remix, as part of its CC-license.
One of the most intriguing bands on the MPress Records sampler CD is Ten Minute Turns, out of Brooklyn. Following in the long tradition of rock bands birthed at art schools, principals Roger Mason and Alan Foreman met while at RISD. Their sound occupies the middle ground between guitar-driven indie pop and the electro sounds of bands like Cut Copy; evident in, for example, the slightly-vocodered vocals on “Aluminum Shine,” of their sophomore full-length, Leaving Robot City. The driving rhythms are accented by horns and accordion, and the resultant songs range from gently melacholic (“Somethin’ That I Don’t Know”) to out-and-out stompers (“Sad Animals,” from the EP of the same name). Plus, any band gets bonus points from me for referencing circuit-bending in their lyrics.
There’s been a number of high profile compilation CDs for charity recently, including Dark Was the Night and the new Heroes CD to benefit War Child. Brooklyn’s MPress Records approach is the polar opposite of lining up big names for your charity CD, although its genesis was somewhat accidental. The first of their New Arrivals label samplers was scheduled for release shortly after Hurricane Katrina; rather than giving it away free as a promo item, MPress and the artists decided to sell it and give the proceeds to Gulf Coast Hurricane Relief. They’ve continued to do this with their sampler CDs, designating a new charitable recipient every year. New Arrivals 3 is now out, and it’s worth checking out. The CD includes Toronto indie band Ember Swift, Jay Clifford (as heard on Grey’s Anatomy), a bonus track by Toad the Wet Sprocket lead singer Glen Philips, and more, with proceeds going to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Full details on the CD, including a link to retailers, here.
Hamilton, Ontario’s The Rest are set to release their sophomore album, Everyone All At Once, in April. It’s an appropriate title for an intensely-collaborative effort from the seven-member group (large groups seem to in the zeitgeist these days). Nearly two years in the making, the album was a two-stage process. First, they left the distractions of the city behind and holed up in a pair of cabins on a lake to write and arrange all the songs, and then followed it up with a return to the city and an intense period of rehearsals and recording.
And boy, does it show. The arrangements are gorgeous, and the production is clear and atmospheric without sounding overproduced. The music cross-pollinates intense, bombastic Arcade Fire-like sounds with melancholy and heart-tugging vocals, reminiscent of The Awkward Stage. The combination is both immediately engaging and rewarding of multiple listens. “Apples and Allergies” is the official single, but I found myself humming the B-side, “Walk On Water” to myself at odd times, so I’m going to share that here instead.
Hear more of The Rest at their Myspace page, where you can also buy their first album and the new single. So far all their tour dates are in Southern Ontario, but I’m hoping for a wider-ranging summer tour in support of the new album.
I am not working-class. I’ve been tenure-track practically since I learned to read, and instead of wisely spending my youth drinking in the woods, hanging out with the ‘bad boys,’ and learning to play pool, I wasted it in libraries, doing calculus problems, and starting college early. I suspect that my fondness for bands with lyrics like “this whole town is like this/been that way our whole lives/just work at the mill until you die” stems from the same root that leads suburbanites, who’ve never been closer to a cow than the plastic-wrapped-packages in the meat case, to go to dude ranches. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a similar urge – for an idealized, all-American, authentic experience – contributed to UK music mag’s Kerrang!‘s decision to put New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem on the cover a few months ago, with the headline, “The Best New Band You’ll Hear in 2008.”
The Gaslight Anthem’s second album, The ’59 Sound, is filled with teenagers, cars, and teenagers in car crashes. Their musical aesthetic is post-punk melded with classic rock – fellow Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen meets Alkaline Trio. It sounds instantly familiar, in the best possible way, and certainly will make you nostalgic for a life you probably haven’t led.
More The Gaslight Anthem: myspace
Along with Good Night, States, Brooklyn-based The Bloodsugars will be playing at the All-Asia in Cambridge, MA on Friday, November 21st. Their songs are best described as ‘sweetly catchy,’ like a more dance-y Belle and Sebastian. And like Belle and Sebastian, who come across as all twee on their records and totally rock out on stage, word on the street is that The Bloodsugars have a killer live show. If I wasn’t on the wrong coast, I know what I’d be doing on Friday night (although I will be at this, so you don’t have to feel too sorry for me).
Also check out the lovely video for ‘Purpose Was Again,’ with its Simon in the Land of the Chalk Drawings-style conceit (I’d have embedded it, but the DailyMotion player doesn’t seem to play nice with WordPress).