What's On The Hi-Fi Talks To...White Denim (Part One)

Austin-Texas rockers White Denim have put together a brillant and uncompromising sophmore release with Fits. The trio continues to move the goalposts from their 2008 debut Workout Holiday; playing with an amalgum of disperate sounds and rhtyms, agilely shifting (often mid-track and without warning) from garage rock, to blues, country, punk to psycadelica. Recorded in their trailer, tracks reel with howls, gigantic riffs, impressively tight and explosive rhtyms and reverberating inventive energy. It should be a complete pileup, but instead, it makes for a wonderfully chaotic and heady mix.

The album opener "Radio Milk / How Can You Stand It" bolts out of the gates with reverberating beats, wailing guitar and a dizziying change-up, eventually shifting gears for the catchy and jolty single "I Start To Run" and the swirling, moody instrumental "Sex Prayer". Flip the record for the mellower half of the album for the sunny grooves of the likes of "Paint Yourself" and "Regina Holding Hands". But the real highlight of the album is the excellent "Mirrored And Reverse".

Once the dust cloud settles, the sheer cleverness and subtlety of
Fits becomes clear, rendering this album such a compelling listen.

"Fits" is out now on Downtown (US) and Full Time Hobby (Europe). White Denim will be playing at Point Ephémère (Paris) on 9 September - check their MySpace page for updated concert dates. In the UK, pick up "Fits" from Rough Trade Shops and get a bonus mix CD put together by the band

Josh, is drumming noise or does drumming become not noise when accompanied by guitars and vocals, keyboards, etc.?
I’m not sure it’s ever just noise, or maybe it’s always noise. I try to remember that melody, by very simple terms, is harmonic ideas moving left to right. If that’s the case, it makes it difficult to peg ‘drumming’ as the barbaric instrument you make it out to be in that question.

Do you play by feel only?
Yes, and I bathe in a river, and rode a horse to school every day.

How do you go about creating a rhythm for the other guys to play to? Can you describe your process in a song like "Shake Shake Shake" which is very drum commanded?
We all try to represent each other in our own playing. That being the case, I’m thinking about what the other guys hear in their parts. Sensitivity towards the other players is very important. That song is pretty easy to describe. Steve (bass) and I locked on to a groove very quickly, and I stripped my part back to the bare essentials. After that, I rebuilt my part based on the space and tonality of James’ guitar parts.

Is it possible for an over 70's active age group to dig your vibe? Would you ever consider playing a gig in an old folks home?
Yes, and heck yeah.

How do you think you will view your music when you are 70 if you live that long?
I hope that we’re producing work that I will always be proud of.

Have you ever worn white denim while drumming?

What is your worst injury from drumming in a complete state of drummer ecstasy on stage?
Stomach cramp.

Is it possible for you to flirt with sexy girls while drumming, and are you successful afterwards?
No. I look like an imbecile when I play. I’m only successful when I go to a different bar, and someone pities me for not speaking the language.

What's is on your hi-fi at the moment?
Dynastie Crisis’ Singles ("Vivre Libre", "Faust 72", "Rock’n Roll Dans la Rue", "Réveille-toi" , "Jesahel" and "Le Monde Eclate")

Check out part two our White Denim interview on Thursday featuring James Petralli and Steve Terebecki.

Listen to "Mirrored And Reverse ” MP3

White Denim (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Land of Talk

Montreal's Land of Talk will be back this October with a follow-up to their excellent 2008 release Some Are Lakes (produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon). The group, led by front woman Lizzie Powell (also part of the Broken Social Scene caravan) who is recovering from vocal chord surgery, will be releasing an EP entitled Fun and Laughter on Saddle Creek Records. Along with a few new tracks, the EP includes videos for earlier releases, including the woozy, jangle-guitar track "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)". Catch a sneak peak below of the video, which was directed by bassist Joseph Yarmush.

Watch the video here.

Land of Talk have set a handful of dates for this fall along the west coast of the US and in Vancouver. Visit the group's site for updates.

Land Of Talk (Official) | Saddle Creek Records

What's On The Hi-Fi...Choir of Young Believers

Choir of Young Believers
This Is For The White In Your Eyes
Ghostly International (2009)
Download: "Wintertime Love"
Once in a while you stumble on a debut album that just makes you cock your head, furl your brow and then just smile with surprised delight. It’s been since Radiohead’s OK Computer that I have heard such a consistently mesmerizing and fresh album as Choir of Young Believers’ debut album This Is for the White in Your Eyes.

Written by Denmark’s Jannis Noya Makrigiannis while he was developing solo work in Greece after a band breakup, the album is a brilliant blend of folk, orchestral-pop and somber yet illuminated lyrics that make for a sound that is unique.

The greatest standouts on the album are “Wintertime Love” and “Hollow Talk”. Both songs rise and ebb with inspired thoughtfulness as layered sounds develop patiently in a seemingly effortless forte. It is hard to pick a few songs to highlight, as I feel attracted to the whole album and suspect to meet new favourites.

I can’t wait to listen to these lush melodies, majestic builds and Jannis’ heavenly vocals for the rest of the year and far into the future. It’s that good.

COYB (Official) | MySpace

Summer Tracks with Sébastien Schuller

Busy touring in support of his brilliant and nuanced release Evenfall, the Parisien Sébastien Schuller takes a break to share with us a few of his top tracks for these precious last weeks of summer.

For more on Sébastien and Evenfall, read our review here. Also, check out Sébastien's MySpace page for updated tour information here.

"Rusty Nails" - Moderat
I've just heard about Apparat for a time without knowing his first album, same for Modselektor. I always said to myself that I wanted to hear their project when I have time. I'm just discovering Moderat now, and I really love the result of this song. Great electronics with a good melody and good ideas. Listen / Watch

"Pass This On" - The Knife
Even if I'm falling more and more in love with Fever Ray, "Pass This On" stays my favorite song by The Knife. It's highly creative. You don't know where it's coming from. I like the mice singing in choir in the chorus. Watch

"We Built A Robot" - Panda Bear
I don't think this song is so well known from Panda Bear. It's a great old one. I like the homemade production. Listen

"Woordy Rappinghood" - Tom Tom Club
A funny song from the 80's. Watch

"The Caterpillar" - The Cure
I had this song in mind during the processing of the album Evenfall. The butterflies flying around, the rhythm of an acoustic guitar. We re-found this feeling in the live version of "Balancoire". Watch

Sébastien Schuller(Official) | MySpace

Listen to “Open Organ” MP3

What's On The Hi-Fi...Podcast Two

Listen to “What's On The Hi-Fi Ep. #2” MP3

"40 Day Dream" - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zones
Edward Sharpe and his 11-piece band caravan of neo-hippie, bus riding mates deliver an infectious hook on this string driven, love song that John Lennon would smile if he heard.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros | MySpace

"Good Friends, Bad Habits" - Owen
Chicago's Mike Kinsella provides rich and provocative lyrics in this lush and smart ode to friends on the shadowy side.
MySpace | Polyvinyl Records

"Los Angeles Guitar Dream" - Spanish Prisoners
Spanish Prisoners' Leo Maymind and band are developing a singular sound on this track that will separate them from the normal Brooklyn pack. Read Leo's Summer Tracks and brief album review here.
Spanish Prisoners (Official) | MySpace

"La Llama" - Savath & Savalas
Enjoy the full-layered sound of one of Barcelona's newest groups. It's dreamy, electronic and sung in Spanish. All I need is a sunset and a drink!

"Take It On" - Wye Oak
Off their darker, sophomore effort the Baltimore based duo quietly rock you into a percussive, groove on their newest single.

"People Say" - Portugal, The Man
We need a new rock anthem sing-a-long for the war-like face of the modern world and Portugal, The Man have delivered in spades.
Portugal, The Man (Official) | MySpace

"Ancestors" - Throw Me The Statue
This is a sweet and well-balanced rock confection from a Seattle band to watch.
Throw Me The Statue (Official) | MySpace

"Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" - Magic Arm
This Sussex band create a refreshing remake of LCD Soundsystem's modern classic.

"Gravitate" - Lou Barlow
The Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. founder is still at the height of his creativity on this new track from his forthcoming album.
Lou Barlow (Official) | MySpace

"Unfold" - Julie Peel
A wonderfully sensitive and emotive new track from Cannes native filled with heartfelt vocals and deep cello.
Julie Peel (Official) | MySpace

"Maybe I'm Crazy" - Milke
These British boys might have created a perfect pop song that only slightly drinks from the 80's cup. What do you think?

"Your Hand In Mine" - Liam Frost feat. Martha Wainwright
This is a sly and sexy track from the Manchester alt/folk rocker and the wonderful Ms. Wainwright.
Liam Frost (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Ebony Bones!

Ebony Bones!
Bone of My Bones
Sunday Best (2009)
Download: "W.A.R.R.I.O.R"
For British soap enthusiasts Ebony Bones! is better known as the critically lauded teen actress Ebony Thomas from Family Affairs. After re-inventing herself with a self-taught, do it yourself, attitude to music, Ebony began releasing material in 2007. Her debut album is far from her earlier roles onstage in Macbeth.

First off, it will be easy to label her as the English Santogold but she brings a different and altogether fun style to both the music and her appearance. Truthfully she is a lot more interesting than her competition.

From the opening salvo from Bone Of My Bones, “W.A.R.R.I.O.R”, Bones exudes a modern, cool, urban chic. On the track she employs a rhythm reminiscent of a Howard University step team and revels in the beat.

“We Know All About You” flows from the first track and adds a dark forebodingly dark electronic bass line that dances with a cacophony of percussion instruments. It’s a straight up dance brew that would work without remix.

Much of the album streams as such in a new wave, rock, and dance vibe that just works. I know this will be rolling out of speakers in Europe and hopefully in America this fall and beyond.

Ebony Bones! (Official) | MySpace

Summer Tracks with Liam Frost

Armed with a guitar, Liam Frost began writing and playing songs as a teenager around Manchester, eventually releasing his debut album "Show Me How The Spectres Dance" in 2006 with his band The Slowdance Family. This rather introspective and personal record features the delicately building standout track "The Mourner's of St. Paul's".

Taking on board subsequent heartbreak and a split with his label, Liam set out to create an unashamedly upbeat and soulful pop record under his own steerage, replete with love songs and a tinge of darkness. Liam was determined to move away from the acoustic singer-songwriter approach, and the result is We Ain't Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain which is out 14 September through Emperor Records / Pias. Get a taste of this upcoming release with the excellent track "Your Hand In Mine", which you can download here.

This wonderfully "Dirty Love Song" (as described by Liam) was written with the brilliant Ed Harcourt and features the smoky, swaggering harmonies of Martha Wainwright.

While gearing up for what promises to be a busy autumn, Liam shares with us a few of his top tracks for the summer.
"Juxtaposed With U" - Super Furry Animals
A really, really great song by a consistently brilliant band. I turned 18 the year that this was around, and its been on my record player at least once every summer since. I read somewhere that both Bobby Brown and East 17's Brian Harvey were asked to sing on this. They both turned it down, which in some ways is a true comic tragedy. In other ways, it's isn't so much. Watch

"I Wanna Make It Wit Chu" - Desert Sessions
Summer or winter, this is a sexy song. But specifically in the summer I think. That is all. Listen

"Pouring Water On A Drowning Man" - James Carr
I think it's between Solomon Burke and James Carr as far my favourite soul singers go. I'm listening to You Got My Mind All Messed Up by James Carr a lot at the moment. He's not as well known as the other numerous folk that have sung "The Dark End of The Street" (which is on the same album as this one, for those of you that haven't heard him), but he was the first. Watch

"Two Weeks" - Grizzly Bear
A friend introduced me to this band while I was on a boat in the middle of the Arctic with the Cape Farewell group (www.capefarewell.com) in 2007. They've become one of favourite bands since. Ace. Listen

"Summer Wind" - Frank Sinatra
It's there in the title pretty much. This song has an excellent memory attached to it. While I was in New York recording the new album, I took my girlfriend to a beach on the North Shore of New Jersey for her birthday. It had reached the end of the day, and we lay there watching this old couple sat on some beach furniture listening to a radio. This was the song that was playing at the time. Lovely. Listen

Listen to "Your Hand In Mine ” MP3

Liam Frost (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Desire

Italians Do It Better (2009)
Download: "Dans Mes Reves"
After the seamless departure from his earlier post-punk, guitar driven work with The Chromatics to a more dance oriented synth-pop model, Portland's Johnny Jewel has scored yet again with his new group Desire.

On II, Jewel provides the same luxurious and layered sound he has with previous work with Glass Candy and later Chromatics. He doesn’t try to fool the listener with Chinese food production that leaves you feeling empty 20 minutes after you’re finished with the album. There is of course a healthy dose of sumptuous, dreamy sounds here but it is textured with melody and strong vocals.

It’s the vocals that add a lot of the depth to the album. Singer Megan channels her inner Debbie Harry throughout the effort, albeit a French Canadian version. She is especially satisfying on the standout track “Dans Mes Reves” that breathes and moves with an ethereal, Lover Speaks' quality.

Much of the album relies on a throbbing 4/4 dance beat but is balanced by heartrending vocals as heard on the fine “If I Can’t Hold You”.

Desire's II won’t consume you immediately but it will surprise you.

Italians Do It Better (Official) | MySpace