Tag Archives: mp3

May 20, 2016 — “Evan Evan” by Pale Dian

Pale Dian

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Evan Evan” by Pale Dian (2016, from the forthcoming album Narrow Birth).

Pale Dian is a dream pop/shoegaze trio from Austin. They’re fronted by Ruth Ellen Smith (vocals/synths/drum machine). She and Derek Kutzer (guitar) used to be in the Austin synth popdream pop outfit Blackstone Rngrs. I don’t know what happened, but that band apparently disbanded, and Pale Dian rose from its ashes.

Like Blackstone Rngrs, Pale Dian is definitely going to appeal to fans of Cocteau Twins, Siouxie and The Banshees, and the like. The tail end of late 1970s UK post-punk/goth and the front end of dream pop. If you’ve got a lot of 4AD records in your collection, this is for you.

I didn’t know that this project had gotten started, but I got something in the mailbag about this song and the forthcoming album. I immediately recognized Smith’s name, and recalled Blackstone Rngrs. Even without listening, I knew that I was going to love this song.

“Evan Evan” by Pale Dian

I love the goth-y/post-punk flavors mixed with the shoegazey dream pop flavors. I like the delay and the other effects on the vocals. But really, I just love the buzz at the end of the song. It all comes to a beautiful, noisy head. And I just want to listen again and again.

Play it loud and play it often.

The album comes out on June 3 via Manifesto Records. You can pre-order a physical copy via Amazon here.

May 19, 2016 — “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski

Mitski Miyawaki (Mitski)

If you only listen to one song and watch one music video today, make it “Your American Girl” by Mitski (2016, from the forthcoming album Puberty 2).

Mitski is an indie rock/indie folk singer/songwriter from Brooklyn. She has released three albums, including the remarkable 2014 album Bury Me at Makeout Creek. She has a stunning new album called Puberty 2 coming out on June 17, and it’s my guess that she’ll instantly go from being just under the radar to being a proper indie queen with this record. I’ve said before that Mitski reminds me of Torres, and I still say that. But with this album, there’s a bit of St. Vincent flavor. It’s indie as hell, but it also has some mainstream accessibility. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

She played at last year’s Hopscotch festival, and I featured her song “Drunk Walk Home” last May, ahead of the festival. She played on the middle night of the festival at Tir Na Nog, and I was unfortunately shut out of the show. I was really disappointed to have missed that, but I’ll have my chance to see her in Durham when she plays in support of the new album next month.

25 year-old Mitski Miyawaki was born in Japan, and has lived in the Congo, Malaysia, China, Turkey, and the United States. She’s “Japanese-American”, but identifies neither as fully Japanese nor fully American. That’s what this song is about, and that’s especially what today’s song is about. It’s about wanting to fit in, but not fitting in. It’s about being frustrated with that. It’s about feeling inferior.

“Your Best American Girl

I love the quiet/loud/quiet thing, and I’m especially fond of the fact that the chorus gets louder the second time through.

The first verse:

If I could, I’d be your little spoon
And kiss your fingers forevermore
But, big spoon, you have so much to do
And I have nothing ahead of me
You’re the sun, you’ve never seen the night
But you hear its song from the morning birds
But I’m not the moon, I’m not even a star
But awake at night I’ll be singing to the birds

“I have nothing ahead of me”. That’s a pretty bleak look. And she compares herself as something very little in comparison to the very big object of her affection.

This is, for the record, autobiographical. In this interview with NPR’s Bob Boilen, she says:

I don’t think I have the kind of creativity to write fiction… (T)his song is quite autobiographical because I didn’t grow up in the U.S. I am half Japanese, and it came from wanting to just fit into this very American person’s life and simply not being able to. Just fundamentally being from a different place and feeling like I would just get in the way of their progression if their life, because I could just never get to wherever they’re naturally going.


Here’s the main chorus:

Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me
But I do, I think I do
And you’re an All-American boy
I guess I couldn’t help trying to be your best American girl

In the last chorus, she changes it from “your best American girl” to “THE best American girl”. I suppose that’s to say that she’s tired of trying to impress that one guy, but she’s still struggling with trying to be an “American” girl.

Also, in the last chorus, in that line about approving of the way her mother raised her, it changes to “I do, I finally do” and then back to “I do, I think I do”. So it’s possible that she’s constantly questioning her own approval of the way her mother raised her.

You can pre-order a physical copy of the fantastic new album via the Dead Oceans site here, and you can pre-order the digital download via Bandcamp here.

And here’s the video, which makes me a little uncomfortable. But it’s amazing anyway:

It goes in a direction that I wasn’t really expecting. She and the guy awkwardly glance in each other’s direction and wave in each other’s direction. He starts making out with some white girl, and she starts making out with her hand. It’s weird, and I think the director wants the viewer to feel like a creep. I certainly do.

Anyway, what I really like about the video is what happens in the second chorus. As the fella and the other girl continue to make out in increasingly explicit ways, Mitski gets a mischievous grin on her face, the camera pans out, and she got her guitar slung over her shoulder. It’s fantastic.

I got my ears on the whole album a little early, and I really, really like it. I probably listened to it three times in a row yesterday.

Buy the album. Buy a ticket to her show when she plays in your town.

May 17, 2016 — “Vincent” by Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Vincent” by Car Seat Headrest (2016, from the forthcoming album Teens of Denial).

Car Seat Headrest is one of the many great bands on the Hopscotch lineup this year. More on that in a bit. First, some bio, some stuff about the new album, some stuff about Ric Ocasek. And obviously, some stuff about today’s song.

Car Seat Headrest is an indie-rock band currently based in Seattle. Although there is a full band right now, it’s really a one-man project of Leesburg, Virginia native Will Toledo. Between 2010 and 2014, he digitally self-released 11 home-recorded albums. The project gets its horrible name from the fact that Toledo recorded the vocals for the first couple of albums in the back seat of his car. Apparently, he was too embarrassed to sing in his parents’ house, so he went to parking lots, and did his work there. Toledo went to William & Mary, and continued to home-record albums. At some point very recently, he moved to Seattle, got a full band, and got a contract with Matador Records.

Last year, Toledo released a Car Seat Headrest album called Teens of Style. It’s just a bunch of his older songs reworked and re-recorded. Teens of Denial will be the band’s first studio-recorded album of new material. The album was scheduled for release this Friday May 20, but there’s been a last-minute delay. The album will be released digitally, but the physical copies will be pushed to July, and it has everything to do with Ric Ocasek.

The new album was supposed to feature a song called “Just What I Needed/Not Just What I Needed”, and that song does appear on initial pressings of the album. Promo copies, advance releases, and things that had already been shipped to distributors. The song’s intro is exactly the intro to “Just What I Needed” by The Cars, and the last verse of the Car Seat Headrest song takes lyrics directly from that Cars song. What’s brilliant, though, is even in lyrics directly lifted from the Cars song, Toledo squeezed in a direct reference to Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair”.

I don’t mind you comin’ here
And wasting all my time
Coz when you’re standing oh so near
I kinda lose my mind. Yeah.
It’s not the way you cut your hair
that’s a pretty nice haircut

Toledo, and the people at Matador Records thought that the lyrics and music had been cleared for use. They had negotiated a contract in good faith, but as it turns out, the publisher didn’t have the authority to complete the license. That’s the boiled-down explanation of the legal aspects of it. Above all, however, Ocasek himself put the kibosh on it. He just “preferred that his work not be included in the song”. Whatever.

Matador will now have to recall and destroy the existing physical copies and remove the Cars reference. The album will come out digitally as planned on May 20, but the song will be replaced with a completely different song called “Not Just What I Needed”. The offending song is included on the digital copy that I have, and it’s a great song, but for obvious reasons, I can’t share it.

Today’s song reminds me a bit of The Dismemberment Plan. At least their Change album. It also reminds me a bit of Ought. Other songs on the album remind me of Guided by Voices.

“Vincent” by Car Seat Headrest

It takes a while for the song to get going, but once it does, I love it. Toledo is known for some clever lyrics, and there’s definitely some of those right out of the gate:

Half the time I want to go home
And half the time I want to go home

then later…

If I’m being honest with myself
I haven’t been honest with myself

Between 5:30 and 5:40, he gets a bit shouty in a Stephen Malkmus way, so there’s another connection to Pavement.

Although we don’t know the schedule, we do know that Car Seat Headrest will be at Hopscotch in September, and I’m guessing that it’ll be one of those where the venue reaches capacity quickly. You can check out the Hopscotch lineup here, and you can get your three-days passes here. At some point in June or July, they’ll announce the main stage lineups and they’ll put individual day passes on sale. Then in August, they’ll announce the full schedule.

You can pre-order Teens of Denial via Bandcamp here, or via the Matador store here.

May 14, 2016 — “Your Cigarette Was Glowing” by Seven Tin Stars

Pablo Alvarez Garcia (Seven Tin Stars)

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Your Cigarette Was Glowing” by Seven Tin Stars (2016, from the Return to the White Tide EP).

Seven Tin Stars is a dream pop/shoegaze band from Gijón, Spain. The band was started by Pablo Alvarez Garcia in 2002. I think it’s pretty fair to say that the band is the domain of Alvarez (vocals/guitars/keys), but he has a bunch of frequent collaborators to make it a full band. That full band usually consists of Fernando de la Flor Prieto (bass/keys) and Fernando del Rio Alberdi (guitars/vocals/keys). There are other past members and frequent collaborators, but I can’t be sure about anything other than those three guys. I really know nothing about this band, and the internet only offers scant help.

The band put out an EP called Songs My Mother Never Sang to Me in 2013, then an EP called Goodbye Stars (Daylight is Coming) last year, and then the Return to the White Tide EP in January of this year. I didn’t know about any of this stuff until I came across one of their songs in my Soundcloud feed earlier today. The band name looked familiar, and I recalled that they were on the We Are All BOOs tribute to The Boo Radleys. The compilation was another in a series of great compilation tributes curated by the Brazilian blog and micro-label The Blog That Celebrates Itself. Seven Tin Stars’ contribution to that was their cover of “Barney (…And Me)”. I’m not a huge Boo Radleys fan, but I do love that album Giant Steps (1993). That compilation is worth a listen, so see the link above. TBTCI just released another compilation tribute to Galaxie 500, which you can visit here. It’s also great, and includes Thrushes doing their cover of “Tugboat”. I’m severely disappointed that they couldn’t get anyone to cover “Listen, The Snow is Falling”, but I digress. This isn’t about that.

This super-dreamy/gazey song is reminiscent of a bunch of mid-1990s stuff, while also sounding contemporary. There’s even a little bit of something that reminds me of the whole Toronto/Arts&Crafts scene.

“Your Cigarette Was Glowing” by Seven Tin Stars

The band is signed to a tiny Mexican shoegaze/dreampop focused label called Emma’s House. They just began operations in January of this year, and they only have six bands on the roster. Four Mexican bands, an Argentinian band, and these guys.

You can grab a download of Return to the White Tide via the Seven Tin Stars Bandcamp page by naming your price here. You can also support the label by buying a download of the EP for the low, low price of $1.20 here“. There was a “limited release” of the EP on compact disc, but since that was a run of only fifteen copies, that sold out quickly.

May 12, 2016 — “Agoraphobic” by The Cabin Fever

the cabin feverIf you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Agoraphobic” by The Cabin Fever (2016, from the forthcoming album Enjoy Yourself).
The Cabin Fever is a fuzzy indie rock/shoegaze-y trio from Los Angeles. They were formed in 2015 and are set to release their debut album Enjoy Yourself sometime very soon. They’re indicating “late spring”, but nothing else.

They’re a fairly new band, and there’s not much out there about them. All I know is that the band got its start when frontman Sean Moriarty checked himself into a rehab facility. Joel Bedolla (guitar) was a counselor at the facility, and he and Moriarty quickly bonded. They added Tripp Beam (drums) to the mix, and they’ve made a little bit of noise in advance of their first album.

A few months ago, I got some stuff in the mail bag about this band, and specifically about tonight’s song. Between late January and last week, however, I was really busy with work, school, and other things, so a LOT of things blog-wise got pushed to a back burner. I’m still catching up with some emails that I haven’t even read, and trying even harder to work with some of the great things that I’ve received over the last few months.

When I revisited the emails about this, I was completely floored by this song. Moriarty has a vocal style that reminds me a little bit of Courtney Taylor-Taylor out of The Dandy Warhols. The music and everything else reminds me of some stuff from the glorious golden age of fuzzy, guitar-oriented east coast indie rock: 1993. Think about Jawbox’s outstanding For Your Own Special Sweetheart. Think about Archers of Loaf’s magnificent debut album Icky Mettle. It’s albums like those that I’m reminded of when listening to this song.

“Agoraphobic” by The Cabin Fever

I love the tumbling, tom-heavy drums that remind me of David Narcizo out of Throwing Muses. I love the early 90s feel of it. I love Moariarty’s hushed raspy vocals. I love the horns. One of my favorite things, though, is a really little thing. In the middle of the song, there’s a slight instrumental break and there’s a super-fuzzy guitar just chunking out a couple of chord strokes, and it’s only in the left channel. Meanwhile, there’s a different guitar bit that’s only in the right channel. Check it out at around 1:42 until about 2:00. I love stuff like that, and although I was already enjoying the song a lot, it made it so much more enjoyable.

Incidentally, the band just yesterday released their first music video for the song “Paranoia”. It’s another good song with a bit more of that Welcome to The Monkey House-era Dandy Warhols vibe that I was talking about. You can watch that video/hear the song here.

May 9, 2016 — “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast)

Obviously, everyone’s listening to the new Radiohead record, but if you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast (2016, from the album Psychopomp.

Japanese Breakfast is a Philadelphia-based indie pop project of Michelle Zauner out of the indie punk band Little Big League. In 2013, she set out to do something different from the guitar-oriented stuff that she was doing, and she released a tape called “June”, which featured 30 songs: one song written and recorded every day of the month. The goal with Japanese Breakfast was to showcase her vocals and to play around with pop melodies. Even if they were dark. The project started off as a solo project, and in June 2014, she released a seven-song EP called “Where is My Great Big Feeling”. That was followed one month later by an eight-song EP called “American Sound”. These were met with warm reviews, and there was much anticipation about an album. Japanese Breakfast is now a full band, and the debut album Psychopomp, which came out via Yellow K Records on April 1 of this year.

I got something in the mailbag several weeks ago, and I received a preview copy of the album. I’ve been enjoying it very much, but I’ve been busy with life and haven’t had time to write very much. Still, though, I had this very high on my list of things to write about.

Today, the Hopscotch Music Festival announced the lineup for this autumn’s seventh annual festival. I’ve been to at least part of the festival every year except the second, and this will be my fifth consecutive year going to the whole festival. It’s the only festival I go to, and it’s the only “vacation” that I take every year. When the lineup was released this morning, I was really excited about some of the “larger print” bands like Beach House and Sylvan Esso, and I was even more excited about some of the “small print” bands like Diet Cig. Julien Baker, and of course Japanese Breakfast. There are many others that I’m already excited about and many more that I’ll become excited about as I do my research, but this one made me really happy.

There’s a little bit of a twee/c-86 feel to this song, and in that respect I’m reminded of the c-86 revival that keeps trying to gain some momentum. But underneath that twee/c-86 vibe, there’s also a bit of saucy times. Take the song’s first verse:

Can I get your number?
Can I get you into bed?
When we wake up in the morning
Will you give me lots of head

Today’s song is all of two minutes and thirteen seconds, but it’s full of jangle-y goodness, a little bit of darkness, and just a ton of fun. And the aforementioned naughty sexy time. It’s a warm spring day with nothing to do but drive around with the windows down and music blaring. This is that song that’s blaring:
“Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

The rest of the album has some different sounds, moods, and textures. This is far and away my favorite song on the album, but the whole album is very good.

Apparently, Zauner wrote this song six years when she and a friend were in a band called Birthday Girls. The rest of the songs are written exclusively by her.

You can buy the album via Bandcamp here. Get it on “clear aqua” vinyl, black vinyl, cassette, or digital download.

We don’t know the Hopscotch schedule yet, and we won’t know that until about two or three weeks before the festival. But we do know that Japanese Breakfast will be there. And that makes us happy. They had a pre-sale for 3-day wristbands, and tickets go back on sale later this week.

Stay tuned over the next four months as I’ll have a lot of focus on the bands who will be playing this year’s festival.

May 7, 2016 — “Field” by School Dance

School Dance

School Dance

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Field” by School Dance (2016, from the forthcoming album School Dance).

School Dance is a dream pop/dark wave duo from Philadelphia. Allison Lorenzen (vocals/keys/synths) and Sam Tremble (drums/vibraphone) have a story that you’ve heard before. They met in an art store in Philly on the date of the predicted Mayan apocalypse — December 21, 2012. Although the press releases don’t specifically say so, I get the impression that they’re a couple. They’ve released three digital singles and are about to release a self-titled album some time this year. Along the way, they’ve toured North America once, and they’re currently on tour with the one-man synth pop outfit Memory Tapes.

I don’t know anything else about this band, but I got something in the mailbag and immediately fell in love with this song. The song and the band remind me a lot of the LA ambient electronic/dream pop duo Houses, whose most recent album A Quiet Darkness was my 16th favourite album of 2013. That band played at Hopscotch in 2013, and their set was marked by delays and technical problems, but it was amazing. And I missed Waxahatchee because of it. I loved that band and the fact that this reminds me of that is a very good thing.

Today’s song was just released digitally last week, but it’s my understanding that they wrote it a few years ago, just after they met and started working together. Either way, I love it. This is that song.

“Field” by School Dance

This is a beautiful song that has a lot of bits that hit my soft spots. The vibraphone. The lush, beautiful, layered female vocals. The icy/hot synths. The darkness of it. Yes. It’s sad, but it’s also very lovely. When a band can pull that off while adding those other elements, it’s a no-brainer for me.

I don’t know when the album will be out, but I’ll be looking forward to it very much. In the meantime, you can download the single by naming your price at Bandcamp here.

Also, here’s the somewhat disturbing video for the song:

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