(sub)urban soundcheck.

Portugal. the Man – The Satanic Satanist [2009 – ApproachingAIRballoons]
June 24, 2009, 11:37 pm
Filed under: indie | Tags:


1. People Say
2. Work All Day
3. Lovers in Love
4. The Sun
5. The Home
6. The Wood
7. Guns and Dogs
8. Do You
9. Everyone is Golden
10. Morning

“Where other acts have failed in their attempt at manufacturing a successful concept album (ahem, Decemberists), Portugal. The Man succeed in the best way possible: each song maintains its own distinct identity, while an undercurrents of cohesion flows through their collective veins. It’s also worth noting that this is a gapless album, meaning many of the songs run together without any pause in the instrumentation…As I reflect upon The Satanic Satanist, I realize there is nothing satanic about the album at all. Rather, it is nothing if not a sunny, groovy, summer soirée with hooks and riffs and anthems sent down from a troupe of bearded angels donning unkempt wings…a work no doubt destined to turn heads…” – liftingfaces.com

Our Brother the Native – Sacred Psalms [2009 – FatCat]
June 24, 2009, 8:19 pm
Filed under: experimental | Tags:


1. Well Bred – 4:00
2. Manes – 3:59
3. Someday – 4:08
4. All Grown – 3:25
5. Dusk – 7:11
6. Child Banter – 4:25
7. Awaken – 4:22
8. Sores – 4:02
9. Behold – 6:09
10. Endless Winter – 5:44

“Recorded, produced and mixed by Josh in his basement studio between January and August 2008, ‘Sacred Psalms’ draws on elements of both previous albums, whilst extending their instrumental range and the sheer depth and quality of their recordings. Inspired by a love of African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Javanese Gamelan music (sampled fragments of which drift through the mix), and with a vast array of sounds and ideas flowing about, this is both their most eclectic release to date and a fully coherent attempt to culminate and draw on everything good the band had previously committed. There are elongated pieces which ebb and flow with a great depth and detail, and somewhat more concise and immediate verse/chorus-based songs.” –

Maudlin of the Well – Part the Second [2009 – Self-Released)
June 21, 2009, 9:49 pm
Filed under: experimental, post-rock | Tags:


1. An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, The Revisitation of the Blue Ghost – 10:56
2. Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying – 5:59
3. Rose Quartz Turning to Glass – 7:30
4. Clover Garland Island – 8:18
5. Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) – 11:50

“Maybe the most exciting parts of Part the Second are the moments that can’t be traced to anything Driver has done before. The opening notes of the album conjure the legato tapping of Minus the Bear covering “Gleam in Ranks.” The smooth pentatonic piano and solo violin of “Rose Quartz Turning to Glass” sound like they belong to Lou Harrison’s Three Pieces, and manage to sweep me off of my feet every time. The synthesized vibes and bells against the violin of “Another Excerpt…” are from some kind of gorgeous, cinematic dream state previously hidden away in the less challenging back rooms of Driver’s music. These moments sound as if they’ve been gleaned from some other composer and woven in – rather beautifully – into Maudlin of the Well’s core sound . . . Part the Second is a truly great album, not for what it can evoke in a pining Maudlin of the Well fan or what it tells a Driver devotee about the composer’s personal progression, but for all it achieves on its own.” – Nick Greer

Odland – The Caterpillar [2009 – Aerotone]
June 21, 2009, 8:27 pm
Filed under: post-rock | Tags:


1. The Caterpillar – 4:45
2. Les yeux de l’oiseau – 4:35
3. La chanson du parasite – 4:22
4. Sur les murs de ma chambre – 5:16
5. Mathilde Rossignol – 5:57

“We called it The Caterpillar, wich is the first song title, because we find it is a proclamation of our thoughts, and of our style. There are discontinuities in it, and very different environments. This song, as other coming, is inspired by Alice in Wonderland, in the Lewis Caroll original work.
There is in these 5 tracks a lot a variations between romantism and ragtime, and we are charmed to propose this diversity for a first production” –

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue [2009 – Warp]
June 19, 2009, 8:10 pm
Filed under: experimental, folk | Tags:


1. Ambivalence Avenue (3:37)
2. Jealous of Roses (2:32)
3. All the Flowers (1:02)
4. Fire Ant (4:57)
5. Haikuesque (When She Laughs) (3:26)
6. Sugarette (3:52)
7. Lovers’ Carvings (3:54)
8. Abrasion (2:45)
9. S’Vive (4:03)
10. The Palm of Your Wave (2:19)
11. Cry! Baby! (3:57)
12. Dwrcan (5:55)

“Stephen Wilkinson, a.k.a Bibio, follows up February’s wonderful Vignetting The Compost with a jaunt to Warp records for his fourth full-length release, Ambivalence Avenue. The near-absence of the lo-fi field music vibe of Vignetting… and its predecessors, coupled with the introduction of programmed beats and an elaboration in genre references, are the clearest signals of Bibio’s marked change in direction here. Fire Ant features relentlessly chopped vocal cuts over a chunky boom-bap beat, that has more in common with the likes of Hudson Mohawke than with any of Bibio’s previous outings. S’vive is a funky slice of continental dance-hop reminscent of Daft Punk or The Avalanches. On more familiar ground are tracks like Haikuesque, Lovers’ Carvings, and the lead single Ambivalence Avenue, which explore a terrain of colour-drenched guitar polyphony, light percussion and psychedelic vocals, which instantly have Wilkinson’s mark on them. Ambivalence Avenue sounds like Bibio flexing his creative muscles, while still fuelled by the subtle flourishes, in both melody and production, that distinguished his previous works. An impressive progression from a natural talent.” – Martin Skivington

And So I Watch You From Afar – S/T [2009 – Small Town America]
June 19, 2009, 8:09 pm
Filed under: post-rock | Tags:


1. Set Guitars to Kill – 5:30
2. A Little Bit of Solidarity Goes A Long Way -3:26
3. Clench First, Grit Teeth…Go! – 6:20
4. I Capture Castles – 7:18
5. Start A Band – 4:54
6. Tip of the Hat, Punch in the Face – 4:22
7. If It Ain’t Broke…Break It – 6:22
8. These Riots are Just Beginning – 4:49
9. Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate – 7:32
10. The Voiceless – 6:28
11) Eat the City, Eat it Whole – 7:46

“Ludicrous, perhaps, but brilliantly so; and low on let-up, fierily wilful in its methodology. That there would be asymmetric time signatures on show is almost a given, and indeed ‘Clench Fists…’ wastes little time before moving first into 13/8 and then something that sounds like it might involve decimal places. But there are African influences here too, although ‘A Little Bit Of Solidarity Goes A Long Way’ deftly avoids Vampire Weekend-style touristic condescension by incorporating its soca stylings seamlessly into some thunderous minor-chord menace. Moreover, there’s even a near-singalong moment on — oh, the irony — ‘The Voiceless’, which is about as stadium as they get and features some sublime guitar crochet over outrageously persuasive bass. As you might’ve gathered, for all the ambition and complexity displayed, they’re anything but afraid to rock, which leads inevitably to ‘Tip Of The Hat, Punch In The Face’ doing exactly what it says on the tin.” – Iain Moffat

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest [2009 – Warp Records]
May 28, 2009, 10:13 pm
Filed under: indie | Tags:


1. Southern Point – 5:03
2. Two Weeks – 4:03
3. All We Ask – 5:22
4. Fine for Now – 5:31
5. Cheerleader – 4:55
6. Dory – 4:26
7. Ready, Able – 4:17
8. About Face – 3:22
9. Hold Still – 2:25
10. While You Wait for the Others – 4:30
11. I Live With You – 4:58
12. Foreground- 3:35

Veckatimest ain’t perfect; lord knows it tries. More than most any album in recent memory not named Chinese Democracy (please keep reading), it is compositionally and sonically airtight, every moment sounding tweaked, labored over. Perfection– and the pursuit thereof– has its price, and in less able hands (with all love to Axl), this obsessive attention to craft and execution could lead to something dull. What’s perhaps the most remarkable thing about the truly remarkable Veckatimest, however, is how very exciting much of it is; no small feat for a painstaking chamber-pop record that never once veers above the middle tempo.” – Paul Thompson