Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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Circulatory Systems!

August 27, 2009

So, Circulatory Systems, part of the Elephant 6 Collective of musicians, has released a new album and it’s great.  It’s like if Goldfrapp’s beats snuck off for a quickie with Muse and My Bloody Valentine. Members of Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control played on this album as well.

If you want to listen to the full album, it’s streaming on NPR for a couple more days.

-amanda seamus

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The Best Indie Pop Album I have Heard this Year:

August 6, 2009

…is The Ruminant Band by the band Fruit Bats.  I know that Noble Beast by Andrew Bird is a great album and that other albums have come out this year that are equally worthy of note, but I would be a liar if I said I had enjoyed listening to any of them as much as I love The Ruminant Band. This album is consistently great from beginning to end which these days I find rarely in pop albums.  It’s like CSNY and Robert Plant in Tangerine had sex and then produced a baby, but it was sickly (oh drugs!) so they left it on a mountain where it was found and raised by the Shins.   Listen to the album streaming on spinner.com here.

Or, if you’re lazy and need a taste:

Note: Eric Johnson has been recording under the name Fruit Bats for a number of years and he is a member of the Shins 🙂  This album is what Wincing the Night Away could have been but better.

-Amanda Seamus

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Kevin Shields has Apparently Been Kidnapped…

April 10, 2009

Ok not really, but I’ve been listening to the “Second Stage” on NPR, and I can’t help being struck by the thought that Shoe Gazer music is back, at least stylistically a bit. Listening to all of these new bands like The Pros, Papercuts, Loxsly, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it’s like they have taken the lovely fuzzy guitar tracks from “Loveless” by My Bloody Valentine and are recording Mates of State/generally twee-ish vocals over them… and it’s great! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all, I just am constantly amused by the cycles music goes through.

Seriously though, NPR Music’s Second Stage is worth listening to, they’re playing lots of unsigned bands that had to record an entire album in the month of Februrary and it’s really great because they didn’t have a million years to doubt themselves, they just recorded and were done because they had to be, and there’s a raw honesty to it that’s great.

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Andrew Bird is “Not a Robot, But a Ghost”

March 18, 2009

Andrew Bird continues to record music that I greatly enjoy.  His albums traverse great distances stylistically and have range that I cannot attribute to many artists that are recording today.  His work is DENSE and full of life, working well as background music for other activities while at the same time holding up to deep concentrated listening.  It soars and meanders with both electric and analog influences as well as his iconic whistling.

Noble Beast and Useless Creatures are heart-warming.  He has returned to some of his strongest pop-based work a la Armchair Apocrypha.   Andrew Bird has grown.  There are more fuzzy guitar sounds layered over then violin with his voice emerging from within it, with all the elements flowing together like a perfectly stirred glass of chocolate milk.  “Natural Disaster” is a beautiful guitar song/anthem with finger picking that almost feels like Nick Drake by way of Crosby Stills and Nash (just via guitar playing, not the oodles of harmonies).  It’s a lovely dreamy little song.

You could read Pitchfork and hate this album because Andrew Bird usually explores a new genre each album and instead with this album he has decided to tighten up his sound and pull all those influences he’s been exploring into something really great.  But why would you?

He wrote the album that he wrote, and you can listen to it and enjoy it, driving around somewhere late at night with no particular destination, perhaps sitting in the car with someone that you like, stealing looks at each other and having haltingly awkward conversation

(This video belongs to Andrew Bird, no copyright infringement is intended)

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“This is My Story”

March 8, 2009

Recently, I went to a concert by the Video Game Orchestra, a group of highly talented student musicians from Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, Boston University and Boston Conservatory formed by Shota Nakama to:

“[Gain] ‘Musical Respect’ for the video game community, but also to provide practical learning experiences, exposure, and networking opportunity for student composers, musicians, and engineers outside of school” (VGO Facebook Page)

It was thrilling to see such a large group of talented musicians playing this music by choice.  I found the music extremely moving to hear, especially the Final Fantasy Medley which included Aerith’s Theme (FFVII), Hymn of the Faith (FFX), and Liberi Fatali (FFVIII).   Other pieces they played included a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 medley,  and music from Caesar IV, Brothers in Arms, Myst, and  God of War 2.  The main conductor for Video Games Live, Jack Wall, was in attendance to guest conduct the music from Myst, which he co-wrote.  In addition he conducted music from Advent Rising for the show, which was written by Tommy Tallarico with whom Jack co-created Video Games Live.

Seeing this concert with a couple friends of mine made me realize again how much these stories and the music they are associated with are in some ways the myths of a section of our generation.  Within the gamer community, community is formed over things like how you felt when Aeris died or that awkward laughing scene in Final Fantasy X, or the first time you went through the casino level in Sonic.  These are our stories, and these silly, hexagonally modeled characters, whether they are cross-dressing, waging battling or mourning the loss of a friend are something that we can relate to and remember.  These are our stories too.

-Amanda/Seamus

PS: To learn more about the Video Game Orchestra or Video Games Live, check out their websites!  If you live in the Boston area, VGO does shows fairly regularly and Video Games Live has been touring for quite a while.

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WILT: All About An Horse

February 10, 2009

What I’m Listening to:

There’s this charming little band from Australia that has been majorly growing on me of late, and they’re called An Horse.  They remind me of a mix of Sleater-Kinney and Rilo Kiley, with a nice helping of The Shins thrown in.  It’s enjoyable, dance-able power pop with a rock undercurrent, which is always a good time.  Here, check this out and see for yourself:

An Horse’s Myspace page

Their debut album is available on Itunes now and in stores on March 17 in the US.

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What I’m Listening to: 2/9/09

February 9, 2009

I’m gonna come clean, I tend to be a pop music person in general, be it regular pop, indie pop, power pop, electro-pop or pretty much any other kind of pop that you can name.  I can be perfectly happy listening to M. Ward or Estelle, Britney or Rilo Kiley, etc.  I just like catchy tunes with a beat that you could bop about to a bit.  Rocking out is important.  That being said, here are some of the people I happen to be listening to right now:

  • M. Ward and Zooey Deschannel: The thing about this is, I realize that I’m really just listening to M. Ward, and Zooey’s cool and all, but note that she’s featuring.  That being said “Never Had Nobody Like You” is a nice little pop song.  M. Ward sounds kind of sleepy and lazy when he sings and I like it.  This song is available on spinner.com and I highly recommend it, the rest of the album is worth checking out as well but this is definitely the stand out track for me.
  • The Appleseed Cast: I love early songs by the Appleseed Cast, and I am pretty much always encouraging people to listen to them.  It might be a product of my listening to bands like Los Desparecidos and Thursday in high school and going to Daughters shows, but I like really epic-but- subdued guitar sounds that just rip it wide open when it’s time and vocals that soar.  That being said, I think Mare Vitalis is their rawest and best album, and it might be the reason I like Explosions in the Sky as much as I do.  I love music that feels like traveling across great distances and triumphing over obstacles.  That being said, Mare Vitalis is a well-crafted gem, one song flowing directly into the other, something that I always love having grown up on Pink Floyd.
  • “International Player’s Anthem”:  UGK feat. Andre 3000.  This song is amazing, Andre 3000’s rap in the beginning feels like he’s painting with words, and then UGK just brings it home with their hilarious rhymes.

That’s all for today, have a good one.

-Amanda/Seamus