Album Review..."Boys And Diamonds" from Rainbow Arabia

Rainbow Arabia
Boys And Diamonds
Kompakt 2011

Listen to "Without You" MP3

Rainbow Arabia is an electronic duo out of Los Angeles, California featuring Whisky Biscuit Keyboardist Danny Preston and his wife Tiffany. They have been alternately described in any combination of post-punk, pan-global, fourth world, synth-pop, tropical ethno-electro or world-beat new wave. In truth all of these description are not only fun sounding but accurate. Rainbow Arabia like their peers Gang Gang Dance and Lucky Dragons use any influence they feel works. Throw a dart at a map and you will probably hit a country or culture that the duo use in their music.

On their latest effort, Boys And Diamonds (out on Kompakt), Rainbow Arabia continue this globe-trotting trend infusing their songs with a cultural grab bag of sounds. The pair also channel catchy, hook driven music on the album. The lead single, “Without You”, reminds one of a modern mixture of Haircut 100 and Siouxsie Sioux with it’s jungle percussion and ethereal, punk wailing. Other album standouts are “Papai” which evokes late 90’s Kruder and Dorfmeister, the percolating percussion of “Mechanical” and finally the Cerrone/Moroder-esque, 70’s Euro-disco floor filler “Sequenced”.

Remarkably, Boys And Diamonds with all the varying influences works as a complete album with songs building up from slow percussion tracks to the final crescendo at the end. It’s an intriguing album that might be too much for less experimental listeners but for Rainbow Arabia’s fellow sonic trekkers it will be on the hi-fi for years to come.

TRACK LISTING: 01. Boys and Diamonds
02. Without You
03. Nothin Gonna Be Undone
04. Blind
05. Papal
06. Jungle Bear
07. Hai
08. This Life is Practice
09. Sayer
10. Sequenced
Official | Myspace | Kompakt

Track of the Day..."After The Moment" from Craft Spells

Craft Spells
"After The Moment"
from Idle Labor
Captured Tracks 2011

Listen to "After The Moment" MP3

Craft Spells began as a DIY project of Justin Paul Vallesteros in his bedroom in Stockton, California around winter of 2009. With no apparent publicity help or label aid the catchy synth-driven, dream pop he put together began catching traction on blog after blog. Craft Spells’ rise from obscurity is a testament to the new music wave of self-starters and dreamers making their own fates in bedrooms instead of boardrooms across America. On a deeper level it’s the hook-laden music Vallesteros recorded that should be the real story.

Craft Spells debut album Idle Labor is a charmer from beginning to end. The album is buoyed by outstanding tracks like “Party Talk” and “After the Moment” which feature Vallesteros soft, idyllic yet engaging vocals and perfect pop percussion work that are a welcome soundtrack to the upcoming summer.

Check out his site for upcoming tour info and see the video for “After The Moment” here.

Myspace | Official | Captured Tracks

Track of the Day…"Grown Ocean" from Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes
"Grown Ocean"
from Helplessness Blues
Sub Pop / Bella Union 2011
Listen to "Grown Ocean" MP3

Helplessness Blues is the beautiful follow-up to the Fleet Foxes' 2008 eponymous full-length debut.  Helplessness Blues took over a year to record and was born out of a difficult creative process.  The result sees these Pacific North West folk-rockers exploring more intricate arrangements and psychedelic folk influences.  Robin Pecknold's lyrics have shifted, focusing at looking beyond the self and tackling all that is uncertain.  However, staying true to form, the tracks are at heart comfortingly simple, each enveloped with warm layers adding brightness and depth.
Check out the track "Grown Ocean" for a taste of Helplessness Blues out now on Sub Pop and Bella Union.
The band is on the road now with dates throughout North America and Europe.  Check here for a list of dates, many of which have already sold out. 
Official | Sub Pop | Bella Union 

Album Review..."Thao & Mirah" from Thao & Mirah

Thao & Mirah
Thao & Mirah
Kill Rock Stars 2011
Listen to “Eleven” MP3

Thao & Mirah is the welcome collaboration of two very different and accomplished singer songwriters, each bringing a unique and yet complimentary voice and approach to this project.  Each alternate roles and songwriting throughout the album.  Mirah’s voice tends toward the breathy and ranging with starry-eyed lyrics (“Spaced Out Orbit”, “Little Cup”), while Thao’s voice reaches low with more direct and rollicking tales (“Squareneck”, “Teeth”, “Folks”).  The overall sound shifts from folk, to pop to blues, all held together with a carefully liberated energy.  Tracks remain immediate and somewhat raw, coming together in their variety to create an impressive and cohesive album.
Have a listen to “Eleven”, the celebratory album opener and our favorite track, with sparking rhythms and Thao & Mirah’s lyrical volley and chorus of “when love is love, don’t let it go away”.  There is no missing the experimental imprint of the track’s co-writer and album co-producer Merrill Garbus of tUne-yArDs, whose new album W H O K I L L should definitely be on your shortlist for album’s to check out.
Thao & Mirah are on tour throughout the US starting this month, with a stop in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on 8 June.  Hopefully we will see some European dates later in the year.
Thao & Mirah each work with Air Traffic Control (ATC), an organization dedicated to helping musicians promote social causes. Part of the ticket price to each of their shows will be donated to local community organizations working for positive social change, particularly in the area of raising awareness and offering resources in response to physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the home.
01. Eleven
02. Folks
03. Little Cup
04. Rubies and Rocks
05. Teeth
06. Spaced Out Orbit
07. How Dare You
08. Sugar and Plastic
09. Likable Man
10. Hallelujah
11. Squareneck
Official | Kill Rock Stars 

Track of the Day …"Damn These Vampires" from The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats
"Damn These Vampires"
from All Eternal Decks
Merge 2011

Listen to "Damn These Vampires"MP3

The Mountain Goats’ is the musical project of singer-songwriter John Darinelle. Hailed by the New Yorker, GQ and Paste Magazine as one of the best lyricists of his generation, his songs are brimming with references as far reaching as mythology, religion, pop culture and literature.

During the last decade Darinelle played with several different musicians for studio and touring purposes but it was mulit-instumentalist Peter Hughes and former Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster that made The Mountain Goats gel together into a band.

On their new album, All Eternal Decks, Darinelle focuses his keen writing skills on his fascination with the occult. The title itself comes from the name of an apocryphal tarot card deck. Following in that vein, one of the standout singles of the album is “Damn These Vampires”, a subtle, quirky but inordinately catchy track that tells the story of one man’s journey to become a bloodsucker of the night.

Get All Eternal Decks now available on Merge Records.
MySpace | Official | Merge


Rock Against Cancer Concert at Southpaw NYC

On Thursday May 12th, 2011 Rock Against CancerNY will be hosting a benefit concert series to raise money for various cancer charities. The event will feature fresh local music and headlined by The Bottom Dollars, The Times, The Instant Classic, Lifted Crew, Flearoy and Special Guests.

The concert will also include a raffle featuring autographed sports items, bar tabs and gift certificates to local restaurants. All proceeds will be donated to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in Training.

The Particulars
You must be 18+ w/ ID
Admission: $12 advance /$15 at the door
Door time: 7 pm doors/8pm show

Southpaw (125 5th Ave in Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY)

Try to make the show and support these folks and their very worthy cause.

Track of the Day …"Last Night At The Jetty" from Panda Bear

Panda Bear
"Last Night At The Jetty"
from Tomboy
Paw Tracks 2011
Listen to "Last Night At The Jetty"MP3

Panda Bear is the solo moniker of Noah Lennox who is also a member of those independent souls that are Animal Collective.  On his excellent new releaseTomboy, Panda Bear foregoes the sample-heavy and compact sound of his 2007 release Person Pitch, favoring instead guitars and synths and an expanded field of sound.  He explains, “I got tired of the severe parameters of using samplers. Thinking about Nirvana and the White Stripes got me into the idea of doing something with a heavy focus on guitar and rhythm.”  As to other more rather unexpected influences on the new album, this transplant to Lisbon is "… definitely reliving middle school and all the Baltimore R&B radio we used to ingest."
Check out the track "Last Night At The Jetty," churning with electronics and distant beats, with Noah hanging aching lyrics on deceptively sunny melodies.
MySpace | Paw Tracks