Hutch's Hi-Fi 9 for the Fourth of July

With Summer 2009 just getting into full swing in NYC and Paris, we figured it was time to posit some tracks that we think you should have on your Hi-Fi this holiday weekend and beyond. Fire up the grill, take the top off and grab the girls in the Sookie shorts and get something going.

"Continue to Call" - Nino Moschella
The funky vibe on this track from Boomshadow is the perfect way to start a day in the sun. Get out your shades and slip into the slow groove.
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"Stillness Is The Move" - Dirty Projectors
Sexy and seductive soul from the New York experimental outfit. It's hot like Apollonia from Purple Rain.
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"Big or Small" - Fresh Espresso
This Seattle duo take a Bee Gees sound sample and lay chill rhymes over smart electronic thumps. Pure fun for a sunny day.
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"Animal" - Miike Snow
This track picks up the pace at your party. Its got a subtle ska sound that always pays off. These Swedes can melt a room with their fiery sounds.
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"The Reeling" - Passion Pit
Not much to say about this song except get on it before you hear it in the mall or on your mom's hi-fi. Still a great track.
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"Magic Powder" - Minitel Rose
Even though these guys are French and this is a list for the Fourth of July, I couldn't leave it off. This track is a new fovourite song that will have everyone whistling along.
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"Bulletproof" - La Roux
She hasn't quite hit the the States but she deserves some time on the top of our pop charts and some time on your summer hi-fi. it's really fun British dance-pop at it's best.
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"15 to 20" - The Phenomenal Handclap Band
The double-dutch beat on this jam will remind all of the great early 80's sounds of the Tom Tom Club and features Lady Tigra at her fiercest.
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"Hold the Line" - Major Lazer
Our favourite Jamaican commando goes all out dancehall mad with help from Santogold. If your friends aren't dancing to this check their pulse and put a mirror under their noses.
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Compiled by Jonathan Hutchison - Editor/Contributor

What's On The Hi-Fi...Major Lazer

Major Lazer
Guns Don't Kill People Lazers Do!
Downtown (2009)
Download: "Hold The Line"
It's bad enough that Major Lazer, Jamaican commando lost his arm to zombies but he is constantly besieged by monsters and vampires. Of course during his downtime the Major is chief hedonist in the land. Not only does he get the bikini, booty babes and party like Led Zeppelin in 1976 but he throws down some mean dancehall tunes to boot. Who lives like that?

Well, no one really does. Major Lazer is the mad cap creation of producer/DJ's Diplo and Switch. Their previous collaborations include work with Santogold (featured on the album) and the Grammy winning "Paper Planes" for M.I.A. Now its important to mention that both are nothing like their adventurous alias. Diplo is a slight, creamy guy from Philly and Switch is equally milky and hails from the anti-dancehall hotbed of Birmingham in the UK. They do share one thing with the Major, they make a mean dancehall album.

Guns Don't Kill People Lazers Do! was recorded in the hallowed rooms of Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica, the duo enlisted the help of some of dancehall's heaviest hitters including Gyptian and T.O.K and a few modern alternative voices like Santogold to broaden their albums reach. Although the it lyrically might not be the most appropriate material for everyone, the beats, rhythms and melodies are spot on and had us rocking around at 10am on a Tuesday. Get out the Appleton's and ginger beer and crank this album at your next summer party.

Major Lazer(Official) | MySpace

Summer Tracks with The Embassy

With their catchy summer electro-pop tunes, the sound of The Embassy harks back to an era of the likes of The Beloved, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, all with a breezy Nordic twist. Their outstanding albums Futile Crimes and Tacking are excellent soundtracks to which you can quite easily wile away the languid days of summer.

The Göteborg, Sweden duo shares with us a few of their top tracks for this summer.

"Neighbourhood Threat" - David Bowie
Nothingness, yet still threatful.

"Satisfied" - Esser
Very typical British nonsense. Cheerful and urban.

"Acperience 1" - Hardfloor
Last night it struck me that this song has followed me almost all my life as amateur-dj -- always knocking in the right context.

"Jalsat Atabat" - Omar Souleyman
Best music for car trips up North.

"Als Wär's Das Letzte Mal" ("Like It Was The Last Time") - DAF
Laughable, provocative, gasping and hot.

Download or stream the new Service label's Live Forever or Die Trying compilation -- includes the releases "Some Indulgence" and "It Pays To Belong" from The Embassy here.

The Embassy (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca
Domino Recordings Co (2009)
Download: "Stillness Is The Move"
One of the new bands to get excited about from Brooklyn, the Dirty Projectors are an ever-shifting lineup captained by Dave Longstreth. The collective have released two solid albums including The Glad Fact in 2005 and Rise Above in 2007. The cast for Bitte Orca includes Amber Coffman (vocals, guitar), Angel Deradoorian (vocals, keyboard, samples, bass), Brian Mcomber (drums), Nat Baldwin (bass) and Haley Dekle (vocals).

The album has many personalities beginning with the hard bass, hand-clapping drum thumper opening track "Cannibal" which gets you thinking that maybe Longstreth has been listening to a lot of late Led Zeppelin for inspiration. This assumption is meant in the best way, as a lot of modern alternative rock tends to be weak and non-committal. All of the songs on Bitte Orca strongly progress and never hide. You hear more of this trend on "Temecula Sunrise" and "The Bride" with one opening with sweet, acoustic blues guitar that bursts into a hard-thumping bass drum and the latter showing a similar bombast with the addition of Deradoorian/Dekle on backing vocals.

Angel Deradoorian is where the true growth comes in the group. She has a melodic, unabashed soul divas voice and shows it on the excellent "Stillness Is The Move" with its' African soul by way of 1980's Vanity 6/Apollonia sounding vocal style. It falls somewhere between Tom Tom Club and Blondie and is just slithers around the basket to an electronic flute sound.

Another real standout on the album is "No Intention", a song that makes me visualize the band in a spur-of-the moment of spontaneous playing. All of the band members stomping and clapping to the twiddle of the electric guitar and adding a bass line here or a sweet vocal call out there.

There has been a lot of hoopla about this band and it is well deserved. They deliver a full, innovative, thoughtful and well-crafted album with Bitte Orca. We look forward to many more.

Dirty Projectors(Official) | MySpace

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

Coconuts, Plenty of Junk Food (EP)
Self-Released (2009)
Download: "Coconuts"
The sisters Casady, Sierra and Bianca, are both a unique and simple pair. One born in Hawaii, one in Iowa, the part Native American girls were out exploring the world on their own terms from an early age. Before forming the duo each spent time developing outside of the alternative-pop world. Sierra studied opera at the Conservatoire de Paris and Bianca visual arts and linguistics while living in Brooklyn, NY. After years being apart the older Bianca migrated to her sisters Paris' apartment in Montmartre and immediately took to writing a simple bedroom EP, La Maison de Mon Rêve, that was to be distributed only to a few friends. The quirky yet inspiring group of songs made its way to the folks at indie label Touch and Go and Cocorosie was born. (The name comes from nicknames Coco and Rosie from her mother)

Since their first EP release the duo has added full lengths Noah's Ark in 2005 and Adventures of Ghosthorse & Stillborn in 2007. The latter yielded the excellent "Rainbowwarriors". Both albums show a steep progression in the quality of the songwriting and production but still retain Sierra's controlled guitar/harp playing and Bianca's Billie Holiday purr alongside her tinker toy drums and samples. A lot of this growth could be contributed to the seemingly endless tour that the girls have been on.

Their current EP Coconuts, Plenty of Junk Food (only available at live dates) continues where the last single release "God Has Voice..." left off. The first track "Happy Eyez" is a child's dream pop song with carousel organ and double-dutch jump rope beat. Bianca sings along in kind with a kind of stream of consciousness rap. But like all of their songs the simplicity is just for face value. The lyrics always provide a wealth of unique images and thoughts. On the single from the set "Coconuts" Cocorosie continue the kid's tea party mood with a Kid Loco-esque drum beat below a toy piano and regular piano and an off time harmony by the duo. The oddball of the mix is "Milkman" which is a very grown up blues/jazz lament that features Bianca's best vocals over a cool, laconic jazz piano best compared to Leon Russell’s pared down offerings.

Because this EP is only available at live shows it might be a tough find but the group has an entertaining and singular live set so its worth a go if they get to your fine town. If not I imagine the contents will show up on their upcoming full-lenth which is being recorded now at studios about the globe.

Cocorosie (Official) | MySpace

The Music For Toys Festival

The Music For Toys Festival is one of the quirkiest Paris music festivals, and its back this week! Over three days from 26 - 28 June, the festival features 10 artists / groups performing only with toy instruments. As a bonus, all shows are free!

On Friday the 26th at 1Bis (Ivry-sur-Seine), the young Englishman Michael Wookey opens the festival with his brand of "bizarre folk", along with duo Kids on Holidays and the folk/rock mini-orchestra KIM & His Toy Orchestra. Saturday's show kicks off at 7pm at Glaz'Art and features the musical miniatures of Klimperei & Friends, multi-instrumentalists Chapi Chapo & Les Petites Musiques de Pluie and the sound collages of GNG. The festival closes on Sunday night at l'International with Swedish duo Tada Tata, the atmospheric pop of UKE, the "drill'n'bass" inspired Madame Patate and the delicate, parsimonious intensity of Eleanor L. Vault.

Festival organizers, the label MonsterK7, are releasing a compilation in connection with the festival. Since the festival is free, picking up a copy of the compilation is a way to help support the festival and its artists!

For more information: MONSTERK7

Listen to “Kim” MP3

Listen to “TadaTata” MP3

Listen to “GNG” MP3

What's On The Hi-Fi...Sleep Whale

Sleep Whale
Little Brite
Western Vinyl (2009)
Download: "Josh Likes Me"
There is much to like among the six songs included on Sleep Whale’s Little Brite. The Denton, TX based duo craft beautiful soundscapes which are warm, engaging and luxurious which show a level of complexity that sets it apart. Joel North (guitar/cello) and Bruce Blay (violin/sequencing) join expertly played, organic acoustic sounds with a myriad of electronic and recorded samples that are blended effortlessly.

Little Brite begins with the languid water framing of “A Pebble Garden” setting a perfect canvas for the albums sound. Then we step up the tempo with Hindu tabla influenced and popping harmonics of the single “Josh Like Me.” From there we hear harp, cello and electronic reverbs on the calling of “Sleep Whale” and then the rotary whisper beat that opens “Airplane Arms”.

As a whole the album is a thought provoking, redolent, sweet, tender affair that really works when you lay back with some good headphones and take some time to daydream in the clouds.

Sleep Whale (Official) | MySpace

Listen to “Josh Likes Me” MP3

Asobi Seksu at Northside Festival 2009

Although the rain fell on day two of the Northside Festival in Williamsburg the throngs that gathered along Bedford Avenue showed the signs of success of the event. With most of the What's on the Hi-Fi crew in town for the weekend, we decided to take in the Cymbals Eat Guitars and Asobi Seksu show at the Music Hall. Unfortunately, due to horrible sound conditions the bands were painful. By appearance alone they seemed game enough but I can't really tell you whether it was a good live show or not. One could definitely say that lead singer Yuki Chikudate has a promising career as a front woman. We are inquiring into why the sound leveling was so off with management at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
I imagine it was a one time issue as we have been to many shows of all types there and never had this problem.

Summer Tracks with Kathy Foster of The Thermals

Oregon group The Thermals have been making thoughtful and irreverent indie-pop since 2002 with four albums including 2009's Now We Can See to their credit. We asked bassist Kathy Foster to let us know what songs are on her hi-fi this summer.

"Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" - Beyonce
I know Charlie from Panther thinks its anti-feminist, but I don't care. That s**t is tight! Whoa-oh-oh...

"Slow" - My Bloody Valentine
This song makes me think of summer sex in the afternoon and that sweaty drowsiness.

"Oh No" - All Girl Summer Fun Band
A perfect song for summer loves that don't last. And a perfect opportunity to plug my other band!

"Borderline" - Madonna
My favorite Madonna song. It reminds me of making up dance routines in the driveway. A fantastic summer activity.

"Good Day Sunshine" - The Beatles
The title says it all. And the lyrics in this song perfectly describe the way we Portlanders feel when the sun comes out.

The Thermals (Official) | MySpace

Listen to “Now We Can See” MP3

What's On the Hi-Fi...Deradoorian

Mind Raft EP
Lovepump United (2009)
Download: "High Road"
Brooklyn-based musician Angel Deradoorian, best known for her work with Dirty Projectors, has crafted a quirky, moody and eclectic sound on her solo EP Mind Raft.  Where the Dirty Projectors mine an experimental and indie pop vibe, Deradoorian is much more subdued and almost zen in her approach to her music . Her voice is interesting and wraithlike, while the supporting music exhibits a solemn and sparse sound often consisting of a simple strummed guitar or echoed piano.  The standout at this early stage in her writing is "High Road" which ambles slowly ahead like a caravan following the night stars, lost but pushing on.

Although we are presented with only five songs, Mind Raft makes us take notice, and we look forward to hearing her debut full-length in the near future.


What's On the Hi-Fi Talks To...Original Folks

Original Folks is the French indie folk / pop project headed by vocalist and guitarist Jacques Speyser who has been performing under more or less personal aliases like Grand Hotel for the past 15 years. The sextet's well-received debut release Common Use has had a long gestation period -- 12 fleeting tracks which have been recorded piecemeal since 2006, mixed this past winter, and released this May on the French indie label Herzfeld. Nevertheless, Common Use has a marked coalescence, while allowing the songs to reflect an independent evolution.

While Common Use is the result of a collaborative effort, Speyser brought most of the album's tracks (whether as finished demos or broad outlines) to the group when it formed. Nonetheless, the release shows Speyser exploring the opportunities presented by working with a group. Speyser explains that "[m]y first musical projects took place without a fixed group, each time on specific and limited occasions On the other hand, Original Folks is a real group, which has taken a bit of time to stabilize. The first album, Common Use, reflects the evolution of the group until 2008, with many of my own musical fantasies. Since then, with a set and active line-up, the work of the group overrides my own wants. Each one of us is an influence and a driving force. I had always wanted that with Original Folks."

Original Folks pairs indie folk inflections with, at times, a decidedly French pop sensibility. Speyser is a self-taught musician, and the album reflects his attraction to simple musical structures and unpolished vocal harmonies. The lyrics are in English, a choice made by Speyser based, in part, on the musicality of the English language as well as considering the important influence that US / UK artists continue to play for Speyser and the group. The lyrics and welcoming melodies of Common Use evoke abstractions of travel and wanderlust, of simply changing where you are -- a sense of being less confined.

The album opener "Daze" sets the tone for the album, a delicate, shimmering track for the blissfully happy (featuring Speyer's long-time collaborator Franck Marxer on guitar). This effect is reflected on the down tempo "Holy Ghost" as well as on "Six-Wired Bird of Paradise" (Part II), a beautiful unfurling instrumental, reminiscent of Matt Pond PA. "Modern Drive", as featured by the French daily Libération on its 28 May LibéLabo playlist, does not shy away from current French pop. And on other tracks such as "Golden Age" and "Well", the group explores an ambling, poppy, indie-Americana sound. However, the group comes into its own on "Gone With The Weather", the album's strongest track, which is an upbeat, jangley guitar, sing-a-long affair.

Speyser has said that the group's next album will be increasingly reflective of the group as a whole. "A second album is now being recorded. Most of the songs have already been prepared and completed during rehearsals, and others will be in the works from September 2009. Certain rhythmic parts were already recorded last year. We are anxious to pick up recording and to release the album towards the end of 2010, once again with the label Herzfeld…. The tracks will reflect a style similar to Common Use...[b]ut, I can't yet describe what it will be at the moment. On the other hand, I continue to be attached to the melodic and immediate side of pop music."

In any case, Original Folks' is keen for the music from Common Use to reach an international market, "if our French-pop (obviously quite influenced by US / UK artists) can reach an American audience, we would be honored!".

What's on your hi-fi?

Bill Callahan, Hall and Oates, Grizzly Bear, Sébastien Schuller, Sexton Blake, Great Lake Swimmers, Buggy, Ashes of American Flags from Wilco, Beach Boys and Tim Hardin.

Herzfeld (Label) | MySpace

Listen to “Gone With The Weather” MP3

Listen to “Holy Ghost” MP3