Album Review..."Arthur Unknown" from John Gold

John Gold
Arthur Unknown
Self-Released (2013)
By Contributing Writer Katryn Macko

Florida singer/songwriter John Gold says that he “likes going into a room and finding the little secret treasures that are hidden”, and that’s what his fifth full length album Arthur Unknown is like. He has been working diligently on this self-produced record for two years, and the multilayered yet seamless tracks create a setting of hopefulness and promise. This album is bursting with vulnerability and soul, which is something that has remained constant within all of John’s writing, but he also breaks new ground by incorporating experimental indie influences. He mentions that “There are a lot of hidden things in it, I doubt most people will ever find them.”

Each song emulates the experience of a journey with the natural movement between a large variety of parts. The powerful and inviting nature of “Bluebird (~670-610 THz)” paired with the calm reassurance of “Careless Hands Came” and “The Daughter’s Sons” introduce the record in a way that captivates the listener immediately. The catchy yet intricate single “Edgar Allen Poe” still holds John’s folk roots, but also sounds like Born Ruffians or Vampire Weekend with its staccato rhythms and layered chanted vocals. The most satisfying part of the song is in the bridge breakdown when John yells out “I’ve got my own free will, I know I’m a Son of God”, making his self-control and motivation concrete.

He notes that, “The lyrics are simple unless you know what I’m talking about. That’s when it becomes really complicated.” In between the diverse woodwind samples in “Everywhere/Everything” he sings, “I’ll pay you back in blood with interest, with my crooked teeth”. He has a simple way of explaining things that is distinctive and unusual. “The Last Page of the Bible” is made complete right from the start with the words, “I’ve been dreaming, hoping, singing, writing all my sins upon the last page of the bible; blank white for a reason”. Through these lines and all of the lines in the album for that matter, he effortlessly portrays the flaws all people have within themselves while revealing roads to happiness.

“I pretty much lost everybody over this album, and saved a couple best friends. It's meant to help people”, he explains. This is especially apparent in the spoken interlude tracks such as “Completely With Ease”, which is a flashback of a near death experience for John, and “Intro” which has commentary about death. “Outro” is an uplifting track where several people say, “I love you”, and “Thirty Kids a Year For Life” contains a girl discussing about her love for children and her reasons behind wanting to teach. These make the listening experience more personal and sentimental.

John makes every song separable with different styles that add individuality. The track “Excuse May” sounds as if it could be on Bright Eyes’ album The People’s Key, and “Fourth Tier Mortality” has an old school southern rock vibe to it. It also contains a piano bridge that brings a tempo transformation that changes the whole feel of the song, catching the listener off guard in the best way possible. “It’s Lesser Light” is a smoother and more minimalistic track about desperation and self-deprecation, but it still remains solid and full. The jazzy guitar tracks brighten up this song and set it apart from the rest. “My Best Friend” is a song of names and foreign words that is sung like Dear and the Headlights, while “You Can’t Own” is feisty and bluesy. “Youth Be Gone” is warm and discusses the fleeting nature of summer love and innocence, leaving the album off on a positive cliffhanger.
John is setting out on a national tour starting June 29th in Denver and he is working his way back down to Florida, stopping at as many places as possible on the way. His advice to new singer/songwriters is to “Talk, don’t sing, talk. Say it like you would if you were talking when you sing, that way it will always be you.” Arthur Unknown is completely representative of John, making it a must-listen for 2013.

Official | Facebook | Youtube

Track of the Day..."Unstoppable" from Enerate

Good Times Airlines
Enerate Project (2013)

Listen to "Unstoppable” MP3

Sydney based band Enerate deliver a fun, effortless synth-based but entirely melodic pop sound on “Unstoppable” that will put you on Bondi Beach, watching the surf with a cold beer even if you are in you car traveling to work in Detroit with a hot coffee.

Check out their equally buoyant video for the track here. Makes you want to call the parents and check if they have that old Colecovision under your bed.

Official | Myspace | Facebook

Track of the Day..."Careless" from Beach Fossils

Beach Fossils
Clash of the Truth
Captured Tracks (2013)

Listen to "Careless” MP3

Brooklyn band Beach Fossils bring a loose, intimate sound that is filled with an alternately staccato and soaring guitar, melodic rumbling bass and terse drumming redolent of the best of 80’s Cure to their excellent new album
Clash of the Truth.

The lead single “Careless” is a sweet, effortless gem that will thaw those snow-filled ears and bring the sun to even the dreariest winter day.

Facebook | Captured Tracks | Myspace

Track of the Day..."Ye Ye" from Daphni

“Ye Ye”
Merge (2012)

Listen to "Ye Ye” MP3

Caribou creator Daniel Snaith has another hit under his new moniker Daphni with the album Jiaolong on Merge Records. This dance-oriented album features the standout track “Ye-Ye”. The song is highlighted by a deep bass sample sound that almost sings over the deftly crafted and very rhythmic beats.


Track of the Day..."Give Love Back" from Californiaman

“Give Love Back”

Listen to "Give Love Back” MP3

Inspired by the late 70's and early 80's sounds of artists such as Steely Dan, Robert Palmer, and Phil Collins, Stockholm's Californiaman (solo project of Joel Igor Hammad Magnusson of Me and My Army) creates music that is "fitting for both lovers, condors and cabriolets." 

The track “Give Love Back” serves this up in spades.  Head over to Soundcloud and the Californiaman YouTube page to hear other tracks, including the track “Drums Don’t Play Themselves”

Soundcloud - Californiaman  |  YouTube - Californiaman

Track of the Day..."Night & Day" from Solar Year

Solar Year
“Night & Day”
from Night & Day 7"
Stratosphere (2012)

Listen to "Night & Day” MP3

Montreal production duo Solar Year has created exciting and edgy tracks over the last year including the critically praised “Brotherhood” which featured a standout video for the song which can be seen here.

Following that success in grand style the group has just released Night & Day 7” that will serve as a debut single for new Berlin label Stratosfear from the editors of No Fear Of Pop. The track features a thumping beat and pulsing, ethereal sounds that are deftly layered with a lustrous vocal overlay.

Solar Year  |  Facebook - Solar Year

Track of the Day..."Boys I Like" from Desert Stars

Desert Stars
“Boys I Like”
from Boys I Like/Farewell Decade

Listen to "Boys I Like” MP3

As a teaser for their first long player to be released next year, Brooklyn's Desert Stars have released the beautiful blissed out, psych-pop track BOYS I LIKE.  Originally founded by Janelle Best, she is now joined by Melanie Moser (ex-Cass McCombs), Gregg Giuffre (Free Blood / Hunters), Jane Herships (Spider / TEEN) and Carrie Ashley Hill.  Watch the fitting road trip video directed by the bands own Carrie Ashley Hill.

Desert Stars  |  Facebook - Desert Stars

Track of the Day..."Mtn Tune" from Trails and Ways

Trails and Ways
“Mtn Tune”
from (upcoming album) Trilingual

Listen to "Mtn Tune” MP3

This DIY four-piece met while studying at UC Berkley. Now relocated to Oakland, the band looks to make music that is grounded in the idea of blending influences and taking the listener to different places. The band's debut album Trilingual is expected to be released early next year and will feature songs in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Keep an eye out for the band's upcoming interactive webcam project.

Trails and Ways  |  Facebook - Trails and Ways

Track of the Day... "Windvane" from NEØV

from Orange Morning
Fullsteam Records (2012)

Listen to "Windvane” MP3

“Windvane” is the dream pop single from Kuopio, Finland's NEØV, led by brothers Annsi and Samuli Neuvonen. The band's debut album is set to be released later this year on indie label Fullstream Records. Be sure to check out the remix of the track from one of our favorites Korallreven (Marcus Joons and Daniel Tjäder of The Radio Dept.).

Facebook - NEØV  |  Fullstream Records

Track of the Day..."Symptoms (Wild Cub Remix)" from Atlas Genius

Atlas Genius
"Symptoms (Wild Cub Remix)”
from Through The Glass
Warner (2012)

Listen to "Symptoms (Wild Cub Remix)” MP3

Atlas Genius are a band of three brothers from Australia who write addicting indie pop songs.  "Trojans," the lead single, is an absolute gem. They recently put out their debut EP, Through The Glass and embarked on their first ever US tour.  Atlas Genius are presently touring with Silversun Pickups.

Check out the official video for “Symptoms” here.

Official | Facebook | Twitter

Track of the Day..."Bear Cubs" from Museum of Bellas Artes

Museum of Bellas Artes
“Bear Cubs”
7" Bear Cubs / Dead Silence
Force Majeure

Listen to "Bear Cubs” MP3

While we patiently wait for the Stockholm trio's debut album, we are enjoying Museum of Bellas Artes' new 7" featuring the beautiful and fleeting track “Bear Cubs”.

The official video from band members Leonard Öhman, Alice Luther Näsholm and Joanna Herskovits can be seen here, or for a pared-down live version of the track check out the video the band recorded with PSL.

Facebook - Museum of Bellas Artes / Tumblr - Museum of Bellas Artes / Force Majeure

Track of the Day..."Time" from Merchandise

Children of Desire
Katorga Works (2012)

Listen to "Time” MP3

With their ambitious release
Children of Desire, Tampa, FL's Merchandise build on their post-punk roots and embrace a more romantic 80's alternative pop aesthetic.  Merchandise, whose core members include David Vassalotti, Carson Cox and Patrick Brady, are making their LP available as a free download on their website or via Katorga Works.  You can check out the video for the first reverb-heavy single “Time”  here

Merchandise / Katorga Works

Track of the Day..."Traci’s On The Phone" from Honeydrum

“Traci’s On The Phone”
from Pleasures of the Sun EP
AMDISCS (2011)

Listen to "Traci’s On The Phone” MP3

“Traci’s On The Phone” is a wonderfully warped and lo-fi track from the Pleasures of the Sun EP from New Brunswick, NJ’s Honeydrum.  The EP is available as a (free) download from Honeydrum’s Bandcamp page or on cassette from AMDISCS.  You can check out the 80’s inspired video for the track.

Honeydrum’s new release Stranger Calls 7” and Do You Party? EP are available from the band’s Tumblr page.

Bandcamp - Honeydrum / Facebook - Honeydrum / Twitter - Honeydrum / AMDISCS

Track of the Day..."Forever" from Haim

from Forever EP
National Anthem (2012)

Listen to "Forever” MP3

L.A.'s folk-pop quartet Haim (the three Haim sisters and friend and drummer Dash Hunter) have been picking up steam since their SXSW shows earlier this year. This guilty pleasure title track from their debut Forever EP is a summery mix of easy harmonies, cowbells, funk guitars and cymbals.

You can check out their video for “Forever” directed by Austin Peters.

Haim / Facebook - Haim / National Anthem

Track of the Day..."Endless Flowers" from Crocodiles

“Endless Flowers”
from Endless Flowers
Frenchkiss Recods / Souterrain Transmissions (2012)

Listen to "Endless Flowers” MP3

Endless Flowers is the third LP from San Diego’s Crocodiles, seeing Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell joined by Robin Eisenberg, Marco Gonzalez and Anna Schulte.  The band continues their mixing of rock noise, melodies and distortion, and the title track is no exception.

video for the track is a psychedelic teen dream directed by Pete Dee.

Facebook - Crocodiles / Blogspot - Crocodiles

Video: Interview with Liars

We sat down and chatted with the band Liars at their Paris hotel about the new album WIXIW, the use of new technology in making music and brain scanning videos.

Directed, Shot and Edited: Jonathan Hutchison (What's on the Hi-Fi)
Interviewer: Michaell JH Smith (What's on the Hi-Fi)

Track of the Day..."Captain of a Ship" from Three Blind Wolves

Three Blind Wolves
“Captain of a Ship”
Sound of the Storm
Communion Records 2012

Listen to "Captain Of A Ship” MP3

Glasgow, UK natives Three Blind Wolves led by singer and main songwriter Ross Clark have created a dreamy, romantic and rhythmic track on “Captain of a Ship” redolent of Vampire Weekend with less of their standard alty-cuteness and erudition.

The song begins with a vibrating, echo that blends effortlessly into a gently plucked acoustic guitar and then met by an ethereal howl. The tempo rises and becomes a west indian style beat buoyed by a brightly plucked electric guitar. The chorus yields yet another tempo change that is a sing-along, sea shanty type of ditty.

Clark’s vocals are the glue in the mix as they power the song forward. It’s a sound that is reminiscent of Mike Peters of The Alarm.

Looking forward to hearing what Three Blind Wolves have in store for the future.

Myspace | Facebook | Bandcamp

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Bertrand Burgalat

Bertrand Burgalat is a truly impressive figure.  He is at once a musician, producer, soundtrack composer (LES NUITS FAUVES), remixer, founder of the fabled French label Tricatel, and recipient of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Cultural Ministry in recognition of his contribution to the arts.  All the while, Bertrand has an immediate warmth and a refreshing sense of humility and approach to music and the world that surrounds it.

We met
Bertrand at the buzzing Tricatel office to talk about, among other things, his current record TOUTES DIRECTIONS, his collaboration in the 1980’s with Laibach, the icon that is David Bowie, the adventures of running an independent record label, and how the loo might just be the best place to listen to Madonna’s latest single.
“The more that time goes on, the more I try and be clear and sharper. I am using the same tools.  What changes is the way that people perceive my music.”  This neatly encapsulates Bertrand’s approach to his music, from the more romantic pop sounds of THE SSSOUND OF MMMUSIC (2000), the more electronic PORTRAIT ROBOT (2005) to the more rock based production of CHERI B. B. (2009).  With TOUTES DIRECTIONS, Bertrand brings these sounds together, embracing the post-modern and futurist.  While remaining true to his songwriting, TOUTES DIRECTIONS marks an evolution to a tighter and more concise approach to music.  “Maybe, because it’s the first album recorded in a proper studio.  Because most of the time, I recorded in places that were not treated acoustically.  I put more energy in trying to find the right sound combinations.” 

The new record also marks another departure for
Bertrand, that of standing back in the process and working with a sound engineer (Séphane Lumbroso). “This is the first album of mine that I did not mix myself, and I think that is why it sounds better.”  Laughing,Bertrand adds, “I am a very bad mixer, especially for myself.  He succeeded in making the record sound powerful in a way, but with an intelligent use of compression.”

This overuse of compression [reducing the volume gap between loud and quiet sounds] is an approach that
Bertrand set out to avoid on TOUTES DIRECTIONS, an album on which he wanted to give the sounds the space to breathe.  “I think it completely kills the dynamics.  I think a lot of records over the past 10 years will be hard to listen to because of this compression.  I was in Brussels the other day doing interviews, and I went to the loo.  I was pissing and listening to Madonna’s new single on the radio.  It actually works really well in the loo – there is nothing – there is a voice and a snare kit.  And I was thinking that I still have a lot of progress to do.  I don’t think my records would sound that sharp in the loo.  The guy who makes that is probably the trendy engineer of the moment, a guy in LA with probably 200 compressors, and it sounds so bad.”  He laughs, “yes, I am still far from Madonna’s standard.”

The conversation shifted to his various collaborations, and in particular with Slovenia’s multi-disciplinary artists Laibach.  “It is probably one of my most interesting experiences, and probably my first real experience like that.  It brought me so much in many ways because we were very different.  They are not real musicians, they are more conceptualists.  And they were involved in something which was to me wonderful, which is hard for people here to understand.  They had guessed what was going to happen in Serbia, and they had a role -- a role of very intelligent, and witty provocation.  Using all of the elements of the Titoist word and turning them in the most absurd and totalitarian way, but only using elements from the uniforms and speeches.  Their graphic artist went to jail.  There was a contest every year for the poster for the day of peace, and the graphic artist had won.  Three months later, a minister noticed that the poster was from the Third Reich.  They had just changed the eagle and swastika and swapped it with a dove.  These idiots had taken a Nazi poster without knowing.”

“They [Laibach] were free with music and technology.  Where I would say that I like or don’t like and artist, they would say that an artist is interesting for this or that reason.  A lot of the freedom that I try and have in the studio comes from that time. That was a really good education.  Very disappointing to return to France and see the local scene that was a bit dull.”

As to whom
Bertrand admires the most musically, one name immediately springs to mind.  David Bowie. “To make records that are both ambitious and understandable by a lot of people, that’s fantastic.  For a musician, that’s a dream.  And with Bowie, I like his use of influences.  He is someone who has never hidden his influences, and because of that, he did something very different.  Like when he was quoting Kraftwerk, but never did anything at that time that sounded like Kraftwerk when he was in Berlin.  Even the B-side of LOW, these instrumentals which are beautiful and don’t sound at all like Kraftwerk or any German rock of the period.  It’s a masterpiece.”

Bertrand never set out to create a label.  Tricatel was originally born purely out of practicality, providing a way for Bertrand to be paid for work he was doing in London with the likes of Mute in the early 90’s.  It was only after he returned to France, and as part of an unplanned progression, that the company transformed into a label beginning with an album with actress Valérie Lemercier.

He had said a few years back that he was going to write a book about how not to run a record label.  “This label, I think in France we have really been ahead.  Ahead in bad sales, ahead in the catastrophe.  So, I think this makes us stronger.  Why are we spending all this energy to sell so few records?  So, let’s keep the energy to make music.  But, then let’s consider that the record sales have no more importance than the sales at newsstands for fashion magazines.  So, that’s the idea that everyone has now.  The problems that we have, we share with lots of other labels.

Bertrand doesn’t think in terms of taking risks.  “Maybe because in France this is a word that is very over used, ‘this actress took such a risk by doing that role.’  The thing is that this is a label.  And maybe it’s a mistake.  But, I never, never planned anything.  Every time that I am doing things, I say that I am going to stop after that.  So, I say that I have to stop before I do something good.  That is the thing that pushes me.  In 1998, we did the first Tricatel compilation in France, and I thought that that was the end.  We couldn’t find any distribution.  But, we have not been badly welcomed enough to stop.  That is the problem.  For this album, I think that my secret dream would have been to sell 20 copies.  That would be fantastic.  Even maybe one would be sent back.  Then I could stop.”  Bertrand laughs, “but, yesterday we had already sold 200 copies on the first day.  That is much too much.”

TOUTES DIRECTIONS is available through
Tricatel.  You can check out the video for BARDOT’S DANCE here.

Tricatel    Facebook - Tricatel     Twitter - Tricatel

Track of the Day…“The House That Heaven Built” from Japandroids

“The House That Heaven Built”
From The House That Heaven Built EP
Polyvinyl Records 2012

This energetic jam is spreading amongst indie college students’ ears like wildfire, giving the already well-established garage punk band Japandroids the prevalent recognition they’ve been working towards. After two albums, The House That Heaven Built EP steps further into their signature punk rock roots, being both poppy and brooding, while cleaning up the unrefined sound that the duo started six years ago. These young Canadians really made a hit here with a rebellious anthem fully equipped with the catchy chanted “oh’s”, a pulsing rhythm, and tantalizing crunchy guitars. Make sure to watch for Japandroid’s new album Celebration Rock, which will released in early June.

Check out the track here.

Official | Facebook

Album Review..."Beware and Be Grateful" from Maps & Atlases

Maps & Atlases
Beware and Be Grateful
Barsuk Records (2012)
By Contributing Writer Katryn Macko

For indie music fans that are growing tired of the over-simplified indie music that is becoming the mainstream, there is a versatile prodigious quartet that is currently taking the underground airwaves by storm. Windy city natives Maps & Atlases’s sophomore album, Beware and Be Grateful, is a delightful concoction of layered vocals, intricate and clean guitar lines, and obscure drumming patterns, which is enough to make any mind-stimulating music fan satisfied.

The math rock musicians mastered the seamless composition skills that they built in their previous album, Perch Patchwork, while maintaining both an energetic and emotional edge. The ten song LP begins with the imperious “Old and Gray”, a vocal feature that beautifully sets up the album with the constantly changing rhythms and instruments subtly being added and subtracted with every new line. The honest ending lyrics, “When you are old and gray, I hope that someone holds you… the way that I would” drifts right into the LP’s single, “Fever”. This song seems to flawlessly morph electropop with raspy and honest vocals, while utilizing modern rock instrumentals to create a grooving ballad. “Winter” is a fun filled pop song which divinely contrasts the following track, “Remote and Dark Years”, which radiates with vulnerability and longing. The echoing vocables that introduce “Silver Self” produce a delicate beginning to what becomes a quick-paced Vampire Weekend-esque sound.

The sixth track, “Vampires” brings out more of the alternative elements of this group’s unmatchable style, along with some piano and tambourine parts thrown in. The most impressive guitar work on the album is in “Be Three Years Old” and “Bugs”. The former is accompanied by a multitude of overlapping melodies that mesh tastefully together, and the latter contains a quickly tapped recurring riff and the memorable chorus line, “If I said that we were bugs, would you say that I was taking the easy way out?” The relaxed yet vindictive “Old Ash” provides a pleasant break from the involute nature of the previous tracks. “Important” ends the album on a strong note, specifically due to the straightforward and authentic lyrics that roll out of lead singer Dave Davison’s mouth.

This technical yet completely organic sound is one that is constantly strived for yet rarely ever achieved. In this new and inventive album, Maps & Atlases has put people’s formerly concrete ideas of what indie music is into perspective. God only knows what this novel blending of styles will inspire in the future.

Official | Myspace

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Here We Go Magic

We recently sat down with Here We Go Magic’s passionate front man Luke Temple on his trip through Paris to talk about the formation of the Here We Go Magic project, the majestic new release A DIFFERENT SHIP, and working with Radiohead producer / “sixth member” Nigel Godrich.

Having studied visual arts in Boston, Luke moved to New York City to pursue painting.  However, becoming disenchanted by the painting culture and its financial realities, he began to explore music.  Luke began performing at open mike nights on Mondays at the East Village’s Sidewalk Café, alongside the likes of Kimya Dawson, Jeffrey Lewis and The Moldly Peaches.  As to switching his focus to music, Luke explains that “[y]our brain doesn’t notice the difference between any creative pursuit.  It thinks that it’s doing the same thing.  [It’s] the same process in a way.  Writing a song, writing a record – it’s painting.  It just kind of took over.” more

Track of the Day..."Chin" from Sleep Party People

Sleep Party People
We Are Drifting On A Sad Song
Blood and Biscuits 2012

Listen to "Chin MP3

Sleep Party People is the project of Copenhagen-based multi-instrumentalist Brian Batz. The new release includes 9 tracks of wonderfully imaginative electronic dream pop. Otherworldly and hazy melodies deftly build into post-rock climaxes. Wearing rabbit masks on stage (to overcome shyness), Brian and his band put on an excellent live show. Be sure to catch them on tour this spring.
We Are Drifting On A Sad Song is also available on 12" color vinyl (with MP3 download) directly from Blood and Biscuits.

Check out the unsettlngly beautiful video directed by young Danish director
Marie Limkilde for the album opener A DARK GOD HEART.
MySpace - Sleep Party People / Twitter - Sleep Party People / Facebook - Sleep Party People /Facebook - Blood and Biscuits / Twitter - Blood and Biscuits / Blogspot - Blood and Biscuits

Track of the Day..."Amber" from Labyrinth Ear

Labyrinth Ear
Apparitions EP
Digital Release 2012

Listen to "Amber” MP3

London synth-pop duo Labyrinth Ear have digitally released their follow-up
Apparitions EP.  The group combines indie with sparkling synths, dreamy vocals and driving drums.  The blissed-out track “Amber” is the first release from the EP.  

You can check out the 
video for “Amber” directed by Alex Southam.

Apparitions is available for download at the band's Bandcamp page.

Labyrinth Ear / Twitter - Labyrinth Ear / Facebook - Labyrinth Ear / Bandcamp - Labyrinth Ear

Track of the Day..."Make Up Your Mind" from Here We Go Magic

Here We Go Magic
“Make Up Your Mind”
A Different Ship LP
Secretly Canadian (2012)

Listen to "Make Up Your Mind” MP3

One of our favorites Here We Go Magic are back this spring with a new release A DIFFERENT SHIP.  The new release see Luke Temple and his band teaming up with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, creating an album that Luke described to us as three dimensional and sculptural.  Keep an eye out for our interview with Luke that will be posted soon.

Here We Go Magic will be hitting the road on tour starting in May, with festival dates at Sasquatch! and Bonnaroo.  Check the
Secretly Canadian Tour Dates page for updates.

Facebook - Here We Go Magic / MySpace - Here We Go Magic / Tumblr - Here We Go Magic / Secretly Canadian / Twitter - Secretly Canadian

Track of the Day..."Love's Taking Strange Ways" from The Mary Onettes

The Mary Onettes
“Love's Taking Strange Ways"
Love Forever EP
Labrador Records 2012

Listen to "Love's Taking Strange Ways MP3

Sweden's The Mary Onettes have shifted gears with their new EP.  Working with producer Dan Lissvik, the band moves away from some of their darker and grander moments, while still exploring 80's inspired sounds.  Most reminiscent of the band's earlier releases, the heartbroken LOVE'S TAKING STRANGE WAYS recalls the sweeping choruses of the band's stellar 2009 release ISLANDS.  The track is available as a free download at
Labrador Records.

The Mary Onettes / Twitter - The Mary Onettes / Facebook - The Mary OnettesLabrador Records / Twitter - Labrador Records /Facebook - Labrador Records

Track of the Day..."Genesis" from Grimes

Arbutus Records / 4AD 2012

Listen to "Genesis” MP3

The new Grimes (a/k/a Montreal's Claire Boucher) release VISIONS is getting a lot of well-deserved attention.  Newly signed to famed independent label 4AD, Grimes explores a variety of genres from synth-pop to atmospherics, drawing from influences as diverse as Enya, TLC and Aphex Twin.
The track “Genesis” is an excellent example of Grimes's approach to the use of reverb, layering, arpeggios, chunky beats and obscured vocal melodies.

The Canadian vinyl from
Arbutus records includes two additional bonus tracks (plus download).

Grimes / Myspace - Grimes / Facebook - Grimes / Arbutus Records / 4AD

Track of the Day..."I Didn't Know (Erik Omen Remix)" from Tristesse Contemporaine

Tristesse Contemporaine
"I Didn't Know (Erik Omen Remix)"
Dirty / Pschent (2012)

Listen to "I Didn't Know (Erik Omen Remix)" MP3

Named for a book on the main moral and intellectual movements of the 19th century, La tristesse contemporaine by Hippolyte Fierens Gevaert, Tristesse Contemporaine are a group of like minded musical vagabonds from Japan, Sweden and London. Each of the members, Narumi, Léo and Maik, bring a unique style of their own to the group ranging from influences such as Godard, Primal Scream, Cocteau Twins, Talking Heads and London trip-hop. It’s the trio’s coalescence through their love of Paris that unites them into an exciting and evocative band to watch.

On their stellar new Erik Omen remix track “I Didn’t Know”, the band unveils a slinky and sexy, beat driven, lounger that displays the highlights of their influential range.

Official | Facebook | Myspace

Track of the Day..."Young Dreams" from Young Dreams

Young Dreams
"Young Dreams"
Modular People (2011)

Listen to "Young Dreams" MP3

In 2010, Bergen, Norway band Young Dreams uploaded three songs to Facebook including “Young Dreams”. The song touches on the issues of the transition of youth to adulthood.

The song features a wall of sound of ethereal harmonies said to be inspired by some of the lesser known works of classical master and Norway hero Edvard Grieg.

Watch the excellent Kristoffer Borgli directed video for “Young Dreams” here.


Track of the Day ... "Ta Ta Dana" from Tomten

"Ta Ta Dana"
Wednesday's Children

Listen to "Ta Ta Dana" MP3

Seattle, Washington based quartet Tomten are often described as "Baroque Pop" for their retro organ driven sound. Formed in 2010 by four Cornish College of the Arts students and started performing regularly in Seattle that summer, they soon recorded their eponymous debut LP in late 2010. Soon after Tomten won First Place in the EMP/SFM's Sound Off! Competition which secured them a slot at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival 2011.

After spending the summer of 2011 preparing and recording new material for their 2nd LP "Wednesday's Children" they traveled to Iceland in August to perform at Menningarnot in Reykjavik. The "Ta Ta Dana" EP will be released on April 10, 2012 on Flat Field Records with the full length due in the summer. 

Official  | Facebook  | Myspace

Album Review…”Divine Providence” from Deer Tick

Deer Tick
Divine Providence
Partisan Records (2011)
by Contributing Writer Katryn Macko

This album really is nothing short of Divine Providence. It seems as if a higher power did in fact play a part in this fun-filled alt-indie country record. The rustic instruments accolade the rough vocals superbly, and the carefree lyrics commendably play up the band’s matchless style in their fourth studio album. Every track is an innovative sound and experience, abandoning any traces of monotonous moments in this musical revelation.

We are introduced into the world of Divine Providence with the honky-tonk inspired “The Bump”, which precedes the classic rock stylings of “Funny Word”. To change up the genres even more, “Let’s All Go To The Bar” is a punky fusion of chants, distorted guitars, and pounding drums. The single “Main Street” is a lustrous track dripping with Bob Dylan-influenced everything. Following this song is the tranquility of “Clownin’ Around”, which incorporates all facets of being ignorant and young, but songwriter/front man John McCauley articulates the sentiment marvelously. “Chevy Express” also excels in this manner, with the guileless and significant words rolling flawlessly through each note.

The most energized and salient track in this collection is indubitably “Something To Brag About”, which is laden with old school Chuck Berry-like rock and roll. The vocals make a silkier shift in “Walkin’ Out The Door”, but the track still upholds its momentum. The vicious and livid “Make Believe” has a scorching guitar solo that replicates the mood of the McCauley’s lines. Next is the unexpectedly striking “Now It’s Your Turn”, and it arrives with an elegant piano melody and lingers in it’s soft and folky splendor with the earnest chorus lyrics “But out eyes make bridges burn, those nights are all we’ve earned”. In the despairing “Electric”, McCauley spills his guts and laments in the most poetic of ways. The group lightens the mood for the end of the album with the sweet escapist “Miss K” that is full of blissful simplicity.

Deer Tick has once again created a wide-ranging compendium of songs that are equipped with resplendent veracity. Even those who hate all country music will not be able to resist taking part in enjoying this exceptional band.

Official | Myspace

Album Review…”Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll” from Foxy Shazam

Foxy Shazam
Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll
Sire Records (2012)
by Contributing Writer Katryn Macko

This may not be the most eloquent way to put it, but classic rock plus Foxy Shazam front man Eric Nally’s sultry vocals equals one bad ass record. Plain and simple. The band’s fourth studio album, Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll, refines this crew's wild tendencies and highlights their myriad of strengths. This Cincinnati six-piece took a daring step by completely changing their signature funkcore sound by attempting to make a strict themed album, but they accomplished it brilliantly.

Church of Rock and Roll has a promising start with its sterling title track and the hit single “I Like It”. Both are the quintessential classic rock tunes, complete with ripping distortion guitar riffs, chorus vocals, and sizzling lyrics. One pleasant surprise was the heart-wrenchingly honest “Forever Together”. This track gambles with pretty much everything Nally does, through the sincere frankness of his emotions, the unconventional vocal pattern, and the rare use of his authentic squeaky voice rather than his suave stage voice, but luckily he knows exactly how to make it all work. The distinctiveness continues with the digital percussion and beautifully harmonized intro choral feature in “(It’s) Too Late Baby”. Nally drags the listener in right when the opening line pours out of his mouth: “When we were young I played the cowboy and you were my beauty queen”. “The Temple” is hands down the most natural and sexy song on the album. The dirty guitar fits seamlessly with the sinful lyrics, “If you want inside my temple, I’m gonna have to let you in”. There is an eerie spoken word bridge followed by a smooth trumpet line that is pristine and entirely satisfying. “The Streets” is a piano rock anthem oozing with raw passion and drive, paying tribute to his hometown and supportive wife. A gorgeously finger picked guitar riff appears on the last track, “Freedom”, and it’s followed by a screamed chorus which creates a fascinating juxtaposition that concludes the album in an ultimately compelling way.

Check out the booty thumping, tongue-in-cheek (we hope) video for “I Like It” here.

Official | Myspace

Album Review..."Boom!" from A Great Big Pile of Leaves

A Great Big Pile of Leaves
Top Shelf Records (2011)
Album Review By Contributor Katryn Macko

For a band whose first tour ever was with Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves have had large shoes to fill, but their new EP Boom! illustrates the range of their talents as they move towards a more rustic sound while maintaining the indie flair we all love. This Brooklyn quartet with heavenly vocals and smooth blending guitar riffs displays to the world their softer, more acoustic side in this EP of recreated old favorites and a new gem.

Revamped tracks such as “This Is A Country Song” and “Drought of Snow” off their first album The Fiery Works leave the listener lingering on every word, and every twangy note on the dueling acoustic guitars. Boom! even contains an acoustic spinoff of “Alligator Bop”, the single from their break through album, Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? It is everything any fan of theirs would dream of, plus it is chock full of tambourines and slide guitars. The foursome brings it down with the fresh song “Learning Curves”, a ballad of physical longing in a library where maracas and a soft glockenspiel complement sensuous vocals.

With this bold divergence from their signature style, Boom! unveils the true capabilities of this endowed group of musicians.

01. This Is A Country Song
02. Drought Of Snow
03. Alligator Bop (Acoustic)
04. Learning Curves

Bandcamp | Top Shelf Records | MySpace

Track of the Day ... "La Forêt" from Lescop

"La Forêt"
La Forêt EP
Pop Noire (2012)

Listen to "La Forêt" MP3

Lescop is the solo project of France's Mathieu Lescop, formerly of La Rochelle-based group Asyl.  Referencing 80's French new wave (think Taxi Girl), Lescop's sound is truly infectious, as showcased on the addictive single "La Forêt".  His eponymous EP is out now on Pop Noire, the label of fellow musicians John and Jenn.  In fact, John produced the EP, and Jenn directed the accompanying

If you are in London, head over to see Lescop live (free entry) on 24 January at 
The Shacklewell Arms.  

Pop Noire  | Facebook  

Track of the Day..."I'm His Girl" from Friends

"I'm His Girl"
Lucky Number 2011

Listen to "I'm His Girl" MP3

Chances are you will be hearing a lot more more about Friends in 2012.  This Brooklyn 5-piece have been included in many a "ones to watch" list for 2012, including Q Magazine's Faces of 2012 and the BBC's Sounds of 2012.  

With their debut full-length to be released in 2012, Friends have as of yet only released a few singles.  Their second single is the infectious "I'm His Girl", showcasing the band's infinitely danceable, lo-fi indie pop sound.

Check out the video for the release
here, as well as the video for the band's first single "Friend Crush".

Also, keep an eye out for a Friends full-length release in 2012 and for what surely will be a slew of tour dates (including 1 February 2011 at La Flèche d'Or in Paris).

Official | Twitter | Lucky Number

Track of the Day ..."Assembly" from Elephant

Assembly EP
Memphis Industries 2011

Listen to "Assembly" MP3

Elephant is the duo of Emlia Rivas (vocals / keyboards) and Christian Pinchbeck (guitars / production).  The London-based duo met up in May 2010 and have now released their first EP with Memphis Industries.  The four tracks on the new release, including the hooky title track "Assembly", showcase their love of 80's synth pop and catchy baselines.  Elephant are scheduled to release their debut LP in 2012.
Bandcamp | Memphis Industries

Album Review..."Cold Still" from The Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion
The Cold Still
PID (2011)
Album Review By Contributor Katryn Macko

After two full length albums, The Boxer Rebellion has seemed to perfect their unique and incendiary sound in their new album Cold Still. With smooth, raw vocals paired with honest lyrics, they manage to find the impeccable instrumental tonality amalgamations that blend it all into one coherent sound of love, loss, and new hope.

Cold Still opens with a song of complete surrender. “No Harm” breaks the listener down to his most exposed state, leaving him defenseless and ready for the next song to fill up his spirits again.

“Step Out of the Car” effectively accomplishes this with twangy distorted guitar in a fast-paced, high-intensity track that gives one the illusion of everything beginning to burst at the seams.

A sense of reassurance with a hint of sensual longing is transmitted in “Locked in the Basement”’s repeated lyrics “I will love you down, I will. Oh, I will.”

The purest tones imaginable pour out through the instruments in this song, as well as in “Cause For Alarm”, “Caught by the Light”, and “Doubt” with their mirrored genuine lyrics.

While “Organ Song” adds fresh instrumental dimensions, it remains fairly constant throughout with little variation.

“Memo”, “Both Sides Are Even”, and “The Runner” pick it back up with an emotional high unlike any other. They seem to release all internal anguish, confusion, and desire at once, refusing to hold any emotions inside. Now that they have refined their style with these brilliantly formulated songs,

Cold Still seems like just the beginning of this rising band’s future.

See the video for “Step Out Of The Car.”

01. No Harm
02. Step Out Of The Car
03. Locked In The Basement
04. Cause For Alarm
05. Caught by the Light
06. Organ Song
07. Memo
08. Both Sides Are Even
09. The Runner
10. Doubt

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day ..."Afternoon" from Youth Lagoon

Youth Lagoon
The Year of Hibernation
Fat Possum Records / Lefse Records (2011)

Listen to "Afternoon" MP3

While on last year's short Christmas break from Boise State, Trevor Powers working under the moniker Youth Lagoon, recorded his debut release
The Year of Hibernation. The tracks from the album came together close to home -  from recording keyboards in the kitchen and vocal reverbs in a large family garage. Drawing inspiration from such releases as Treasure from the Cocteau Twins, Trevor plays with loops and programming, his vocals often distant and awash in treatments.  The Year of Hibernation summons up a sense of nostalgia, a look back at a time that may never have been or at fears and anxieties with only the slightest tether to reality.

Have a listen to the track "Afternoon", a song that's wistful energy belies a deeper worry of returning to the one that you love, only to find that they are no longer there.

Throughout November, Youth Lagoon will be on tour in North America with Young Magic, including a 2-day stay at the Mercury Lounge in NYC.  A few additional dates have already been announced for January 2012 -- check the concert
page at Lefse Records for updates.

Also, check out the
video of Youth Lagoon performing "July" for Tunnelvision.

Facebook  | Twitter | Blog | Fat Possum Records | Lefse Records 

Track of the Day..."Fake Pretend" from Carter Tanton

Carter Tanton
"Fake Pretend"
from Freeclouds
Western Vinyl 2011

Listen to "Fake Pretend" MP3

Inspired by touring as part of Marissa Nadler's band playing guitar and recording and arranging parts of her recent self-titled release, Carter Tanton (also of Lower Dens and the now defunct Tulsa) has released a new solo album Freeclouds on Austin's Western Vinyl. On the new release, Carter draws references from David Bowie's 1969 song "Wide Eyed Boy from Freecloud", a song for those removed from the center of events, those left outside.  Primarily recorded in his apartment, Carter pushed himself beyond the early intention of keeping the tracks simple and stripped down, exploring the use of synths, samples, drum programming and guitar textures and delays.  Have a listen to one of our favorite tracks "Fake Pretend", a wonderfully stylistically pick 'n' mix, featuring Marissa Nadler on vocals.

You can pick up a copy of Freeclouds from the Western Vinyl online shop (also available on vinyl with a mp3 download).

Carter will be playing in NYC on 8 November at Cameo Gallery with Boy Without God and Wailing Wall.  Along with other dates in Europe in November, Carter will be playing in Paris on 1 December at Point Ephémère.

Official | Twitter | Facebook | Western Vinyl  

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more. You can also subscribe to our podcast free at What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi

Listen to "Pocast 17" MP3

Artist - Track Names

Track of the Day..."Shadows On Behalf" from The Stepkids

The Stepkids
"Shadows On Behalf"
from Self-Titled
Stones Throw (2011)

Listen to "Shadows On Behalf" MP3

The Stepkids are bassist and keyboardist Dan Edinberg, Jeff Gitelman (Alicia Keys’ former guitarist) and Drummer Tim Walsh. Each of the members are amazing singer/songwriters in their own right.

After a decade of musical experimentation, the trio settled on an eclectic synthesis of punk and jazz, folk, neo-soul, funk and electro. This everything and the kitchen sink filters out into the making of their tracks as the band produce, engineer and record themselves all on a reel-to-reel.

The song “Shadows On Behalf” features pure grooves, meticulous harmonies and heady lines that are at once funky, retro-cool and modern in the same moment.

Check out the video for the song here.
Official | MySpace | Stones Throw

Track of the Day ..."Lungs Quicken" from Lanterns on the Lake

Lanterns on the Lake
"Lungs Quicken"
from Gracious Tide Take Me Home
Bella Union (2011)

Listen to "Lungs Quicken" MP3

Recorded on a borrowed 8-track in an isolated house in Northumberland, Gracious Tide Take Me Home is the beautiful full-length debut from England's Lanterns on the Lake.

The sextet, which formed in 2008 as Greenpeace, is made up of Hazel Wilde (vocals / guitar), brothers Adam (vocals / guitar) and Brendan Sykes (bass), Sarah Kemp (violin), Ol Ketteringham (drums / piano) and Paul Gregory (guitar / electronics).  Inspired by bands such as Low and Sigur Rós, Lanterns on the Lake's sound is a difficult to categorize mix of folk and electronics, featuring some rather incredible guitar effects from Paul.  Forgoing the studio, this debut remains personal and intimate.  The songs reflect a sense of traveling and time, often drawing inspiration from darker moments -- "Ships In the Rain" is inspired by a the story of a local fisherman who disappeared at sea, and "A Kingdom" draws upon a book of letters sent back home from WWII soldiers.

Have a listen to the quietly hopeful track "Lungs Quicken", a song which hesitantly leaves the ground, the melody circling high above.

Also, check out the seaside video for "Keep on Trying", directed by Alex Southam. 

Lanterns on the Lake will be playing dates throughout Europe this October and November:

Oct 20 @ The Roundhouse, LONDON (Supporting Yann Tiersen)
Oct 21 @ Concord, BRIGHTON (Supporting Yann Tiersen)
Oct 22 @ Brudenell Social Club, LEEDS (Supporting Yann Tiersen)
Oct 23 @ ABC1, GLASGOW (Supporting Yann Tiersen)
Oct 24 @ Academy 2, MANCHESTER (Supporting Yann Tiersen)
Oct 25 @ Academy 2, BIRMINGHAM (Supporting Yann Tiersen)
Nov 1 @ The Sage, GATESHEAD
Nov 2 @ Leaf, LIVERPOOL
Nov 3 @ The Harley, SHEFFIELD
Nov 5 @ Festival Les Inrocks, PARIS 
Nov 6 @ Kavka, ANTWERP
Nov 8 @ Botanique - Witloof, BRUSSELS
Nov 9 @ Studio 672, COLOGNE
Nov 10 @ Privatclub, BERLIN
Nov 16 @  Amager Bio Beta, COPENHAGEN
Nov 18 @ Crossing Borders Festival, DEN HAAG 
Nov 20 @ The Attic (In The Forum), HERTFORDSHIRE
Nov 22 @ The Lexington, LONDON
Nov 23 @ The Cooler, BRISTOL
Nov 24 @ HMV Institute, BIRMINGHAM
Nov 25 @ Bodega, NOTTINGHAM
Nov 26 @ Brudenell Social Club, LEEDS
Nov 27 @ The Deaf Institute, MANCHESTER
Nov 29 @ King Tuts Wha Wha Hut, GLASGOW
Nov 30 @ Electric Circus, EDINBURGH

Official | MySpace | Bella Union 

Track of the Day…“An Argument With Myself” from Jens Lekman

Jens Lekman
“An Argument With Myself”
from An Argument With Myself
Secretly Canadian / Service (2011)

Listen to "An Argument With Myself" MP3

One of our favorite artists / storytellers Jens Lekman is back with an excellent 5-track EP An Argument With Myself, a smart and sharp follow-up to his 2007 release Night Falls Over Kortedala.  On these wonderfully site-specific tracks, Jens shares the personal, all keenly observed, with a warm and laid-back sense of humor.
Jens wrote on his website about the title track, “(i)n the case 'Jens Lekman vs. Jens Lekman', we will look closer at the evidence presented - the photo I had carried in my breastpocket for a whole year, the pressed honeysuckle, the wind so rich on summer and so sweet - how are these things connected and why are they relevant?"
Have a listen to the title track, a song that bobs and weaves as Jens has a nice go at himself as he walks home through the streets of his adopted home of Melbourne, Australia.
Be sure to catch Jens on tour this October in Europe and the USA (quite a few shows have already sold out).  He puts on an excellent live show that you shouldn’t miss.
Also, have a listen to the Summer Never Ends mixtape from Jens (from 2009) which includes a wonderfully imagined conversation with Alicia Keys (about the 15:10 minute mark).
EUROPE Oct 29 - Paris, FR - Pitchfork Music Festival (SOLD OUT)
Oct 27 - Milano, IT - Salumeria della Musica
Oct 26 - Vienna, AT - Odeon Theater
Oct 24 - Köbenhavn, DK - Koncerthuset Studio 2
Oct 23 - Göteborg, SE - Nefertiti
Oct 22 - Stockholm, SE - Södra Teatern (SOLD OUT)
Oct 19 - Manchester, UK - Band on the Wall
Oct 18 - Bristol, UK - Thekla
Oct 17 - London, UK - Heaven (SOLD OUT)
Oct 15 - Düsselfdorf, DE - Schumannsaal Düsseldorf
Oct 14 - Nijmegen, NL - The Vereniging
USA Oct 9 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (SOLD OUT)
Oct 8 - Boston, MA - Somerville Armory (SOLD OUT)
Oct 7 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (SOLD OUT)
Oct 6 - Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia Ethical Society (SOLD OUT)
Oct 5 - Washington DC - Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (SOLD OUT)
Oct 3 - Chicago - Lincoln Hall
Oct 1 - Seattle, WA - Columbia
Official | Secretly Canadian | Service

Track of the Day..."Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears" from A Winged Victory for the Sullen

A Winged Victory for the Sullen
"Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears"
from A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Erased Tapes (International) / Kanrky (US) / 2011

Listen to "Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears" MP3

A Winged Victory for the Sullen is the collaboration of Adam Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid / ex-Sparklehorse) and Berlin-based Dustin O'Halloran (a self-taught pianist who is a member of Devics and who has scored such films as Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette).  Their self-titled release is a striking mix of neo-classical and ambient, echoing the vastness of Berlin's Grunewald Church where the album was principally recorded.  The piano often takes prominence on the album, buoyed by strings, bassoon, french horns and clarinet, frequently over a shifting, bass drone.  Adam and Dustin are keenly aware of textures and layering of sounds, all the while remaining patient and restrained, guiding with the lightness of touch and allowing their songs to develop in their own time.

The album also features guest appearance from Hilder Gundnadottir (cello) and Peter Broderick (violin).  AWVFTS is also available as a limited edition vinyl via Erased Tapes.

AWVFTS will be playing various dates throughout North America this fall, including 30 October in NYC at the West park Presbyterian Chrurch (dates supported by Benoit Piolard and Ken Camden).


1. "We Played Some Open Chords and Rejoiced for the Earth Had Circled the Sun Yet Another Year"
2. "Requiem for the Static King, Part One"
3. "Requiem for the Static King, Part Two"
4. "Minuet for a Cheap Piano, Number Two"
5. "Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears"
6. "A Symphony Pathetique"
7. "All Farewells Are Sudden"

Official | Erased Tapes | Kranky 

Album Review..."Pleasure" from Pure X

Pure X
Acephale Records (2011)

Listen to “Easy” MP3

Texas band Pure X (formerly Pure Ecstasy) first made their mark two years ago with the release of “Easy”. Their debut album Pleasure is defined by this breakout track which features Nate Grace's sun drenched, reverb filled vocals fighting through prominent effect-laden guitar eruptions and backed by a throbbing bass and pedantic drums. Although “Easy” branded the band’s sound it doesn’t limit them creatively.

Much has been written about Pure X’s similarities to The Jesus and Mary Chain (especially by the UK press). There is no denying a kindred sound. However, I am sure if we dug around NME from 1986 we would find a comparison between JMC and The Velvet Underground. It’s a style that has been defined before but necessitates new chapters to grow the story.

On “Twisted Mirror” the same technique is used but in a more progressive tone. The song utilizes the sparse, roomy style of their songs to allow the life around you to merge with the track. At first it blends and binds to your surroundings then emerges, ingrained in your senses. It is very organic and rich.

The natural feel of the album is owed to the fact that the band recorded the album live as a unit. The choice to eschew bloated production techniques such as overdubbing and sampling is what illuminates this album.

01. Half Here
02. Pleasure
03. Dry Ice
04. Stuck Livin
05. Surface
06. Voices
07. Easy
08. Twisted Mirror
09. Dream Over
10. Heavy Air
Official | Acephale Records

Track of the Day..."XCPR" from Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams
7" / Captured Tracks

Listen to “XCPR” MP3

"XCPR" is the infectious, short and sharp first release from the young sextet Hoop Dreams.  The band hails from Blacksburg, Virginia, and features Max Brooks (vocals) and Jeff Haley (guitar / ex-Wild Nothing), Tommy Davidson (bass / Dream Cop), Jordan Mrazik (guitar), Julie Shepherd (violin), and Marcus McDonald (drums).  Hoop Dreams are signed to Brooklyn label Captured Tracks, and a full LP is in the works for a release in early 2012.

If you are in NY, you can catch Hoop Dreams on 12 November at Glasslands Gallery.

Bandcamp | Captured Tracks 

Track of the Day ..."Always Everything" from Sin Fang

Sin Fang
"Always Everything"
from Summer Echoes
Morr Music (2011)

Listen to “Always Everything” MP3

To mark Iceland's Sin Fang's (formerly Sin Fang Bous) upcoming show in Paris we wanted to share "Always Everything" from this year's release Summer Echoes.  The perfect opportunity to rediscover this beautifully layered album.

You can download a free non-album version of the track "Slowlights" from Sin Fang's website.  Also, follow the link to watch videos from Sin Fang for album tracks "Because of the Blood" and "Two Boys.”

Be sure to catch Sin Fang at La Flèche d'Or on 9 September in Paris.  Sin Fang will be playing other dates in September throughout Europe joined by labelmate Sóley.

Summer Echoes tracklisting:
01. "Easier "
02. "Bruises"
03. "Fall Down Slow" 
04. "Because Of The Blood"
05. "Rituals" 
06. "Always Everything" 
07. "Sing From Dream"
08. "Nineteen" 
09. "Choir" 
10. "Two Boys" 
11. "Nothings" 
12. "Slow Lights" 

Official | MySpace| Twitter | Morr 

Track of the Day..."Hacienda Motel" from Pickwick

"Hacienda Motel"
Self Released 2011

Listen to “Hacienda Motel” MP3

In 2008 Los Angeles native Galen Disston picked up his microphone and headed to the Great Northwest city of Seattle and formed Pickwick. The group started their path as an alt-country band but after two years of playing, experimentation and struggle they found their sound. It came in the form of the classic melodies and singing styles of the Stax and Motown R&B/Soul movement of the 60’s and 70’s. This new musical style allowed Disston - an intriguingly, full voiced and rangy singer - to develop and flourish.

With reverence to the greats of soul history the band is paying homage by releasing their music as a set of 45's (also available via digital download) which include cool, old school, soul album art with a modern twist.

Among the singles are the standout tracks “The Round” and “Hacienda Motel.” On both tracks the band carves their name in the big soul tree with a slinky modern approach. Disston’s voice is the standout on both tracks reminding one of early Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame. There are no shy, twee hipster or overall quirky vocals like we are used to from most alternative rock lately. Instead Pickwick draws us in with well-crafted, spot on and tight playing and singing. The kind of music that you can play a game of pool to and your ladies swoon and sway by the bar.

Pickwick is currently working on their debut full-length album, expected to be released in 2012. We look forward to getting our hands on the first pressing!

Check out the atmospheric, B&W basement vibe video of the track here.

Official | MySpace | Polyvinyl

Track of the Day..."My Heart" from Loney Dear

Loney Dear
from "My Heart"
Hall Music
Polyvinyl 2011

Listen to “My Heart” MP3

Loney Dear’s sixth album Hall Music, out in October, looks to be a more blissful effort than his 2009 Polyvinyl debut Dear John. The Stolkholm, Sweden native (aka Emil Svanängen) became internationally known as a do-it-yourself, home recording wonder creating five elegant, multi-layered albums of separation and yearning.

On the tranquilly orchestral first single “My Heart” Emil seems more vibrant. The track is replete with subtle layered bell chimes, strings and acoustic guitar strengthened and lighted by his sometimes soaring vocals.

Check out this live performance of the track along with the Göteborg Symphony.

Official | MySpace | Polyvinyl

Track of the Day..."Island Answer Anywhere" from Pulseprogramming

"Island Answer Anywhere"
from Charade is Gold
Audraglint 2010

Listen to “Island Answer Anywhere” MP3

Pulseprogramming began in the late 90's as an experimental musical project, releasing various material on labels such as Peacefrog and Aesthetics. The group is now based in Chicago and is centered around founding member (singer / composer) Marc Hellner and (vocalist) Chanel Pease. Pulseprogramming maintains the spirit of a multimedia arts collective, all the while shifting gears.  With Charade is Gold, the group embraces the more melancholy side of 80's synth-pop. "Island Answer Anywhere" is one of the album's standout tracks, an icily melodic track beamed from the comfort of the shadows.

MySpace | Audraglint  

Track of the Day..."Come Rain, Come Sunshine" from Pallers

"Come Rain, Come Sushine"
from The Sea of Memories (to be released 26 September 2011)
Labrador Records / EMI

Listen to “Come Rain Come Sunshine” MP3

Pallers is the project of Henrik Mårtensson and Johan Angergård, two old friends from southern Sweden delving into a shared passion for electronic pop.  Their debut album The Sea of Memories is due out in September, an album recorded in the disparate locals of Sweden, Spain, Miami and Cape Town.  Check out the track "Come Rain, Come Sunshine", one of the first tracks written by the duo, for a taste of Pallers' understated and shimmering electronic pop buoyed by laid back vocals.

MySpace | Labrador 

Track of the Day..."A Little Lost" from Nat Baldwin

Nat Baldwin
"A Little Lost"
People Changes
Western Vinyl 2011

Listen to “A Little Lost” MP3

Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Nat Baldwin has a truly original sound. Baldwin is an upright bass player and a singer that flourishes in the soulful simplicity of his music.

Check out the track “A Little Lost” from his album People Changes available now on Western Vinyl.

Myspace | Western Viynl

Track of the Day..."You In The Fires" from Jonas David

Jonas David
"You In the Fires"
Keep The Times
Volkoren (Munich) 2011
Listen to “You In The Fires” MP3

Born out of rush of vivid dreams, Germany’s Jonas David’s debut Keep The Times plots a cinematic path along the universal touchpoints of hope, love, anger and pain.  Acoustic guitar, percussion, vibraphone and Rhodes piano provide the backdrop to tracks which reflect a smartly edited approach to indie folk coupled with a pop sensibility.  Jonas’s vocals wrap around infectious melodies, often lifting into a Justin Vernon falsetto.  Warm and carefully restrained, Keep The Times is a welcome summer debut.
Check out a video from a living room performance of the track “Shield”.

Myspace | Official | Volkoren

Track of the Day..."You For Leaving Me" from Colourmusic

"You For Leaving Me"
from My ____ is Pink
Memphis Industries 2011

Listen to "You For Leaving Me" MP3

(Be aware track has a pause after the first note. We wanted to leave it as we received it. Thanks)

Oklahoma’s Colourmusic has a reputation for oddity in both their approach to recording having once composed an entire album based on the work of Sir Isaac Newton and their live act which featured mock graduations, pre-recorded messages between songs and a wedding. Though this might sound possibly annoying or pretentious to some reviewers or music fans, I say: “lighten up a little”.

As for the band’s new sound on their latest album My ___ is Pink (I like to insert “flower”), the sound is full, richly conceived and tremendously straight ahead rock music in the vein of T-Rex. Check out the standout track “You For Leaving Me” which lays down a Billy Squier stomp and clap played against gospel-style rock and roll chorus. The track is decidedly sexy and tough.

Myspace | Official

Track of the Day..."Glowing Mouth" from Milagres

"Glowing Mouth"
Kill Rock Stars 2011

Listen to "Glowing Mouth" MP3

Other than having one our favorite publicity photos (see above), Brooklyn based indie popsters Milagres have put together a stirring and effective new track for their new label Kill Rock Stars.

“Glowing Mouth” is a simply constructed track featuring prancing 50’s dancehall keyboard backed by a 90’s R&B slow jam groove with ethereal falsetto laden vocals. Sounds like a bit of a hodgepodge but it flows and integrates perfectly. The song is an exciting first effort for Milagres and we expect to hear it out of bars and cars, at beaches and barbecues throughout the summer.

Myspace | Official | Kill Rock Stars

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


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


Track of the Day…"Plumy Tale" from Dumbo Gets Mad

Dumbo Gets Mad
"Plumy Tale" from Elephants At The Door
Bad Panda Records 2011
Listen to "Plumy Tale" MP3

There is not a lot of detail out there about Dumbo Gets Mad, other than it’s the DIY project of an unnamed Italian who has since migrated to LA and who shares vocal duties with his girlfriend Carly.  There you have it.  The project's debut LP Elephants At The Door is a frenetic and eccentric grab bag of compacted experimental sounds and trippy rock, all recorded using the likes of analog synths and tape machines.  The first track to be released "Plumy Tale" throws together classic guitars and keyboards, sax solos, schizophrenic sound effects and dreamy choruses.  Somehow, it works.
The LP is available as a free download directly from Bad Panda Records, all for the price of a Tweet.   You can also pick up a limited number of 12" vinyl .
MySpace | Bad Panda Records 

Track of the Day…"Walk Slowly" from Botibol

"Walk Slowly"
from Born From a Shore
HipHipHip 2011

Listen to "Walk Slowly" MP3

Born From a Shore is the debut album from Botibol, a project led by Bordeaux native Vincent Bestaven.  Tracks edge between folk and indie pop, with Bestaven writing in English and influenced by the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird.  The track "Walk Slowly" casually unfolds, combining elements found throughout the album and providing a thoughtful introduction to this young songwriter.
Catch Botibol at La Flèche d'Or in Paris on 1 June.
MySpace | HipHipHip 

Track of the Day..."Enter The Brahmin" from Thunderball


"Enter The Brahmin"
from 12 Mile High
Eighteenth Street Lounge 2010

Listen to "Enter The Brahmin" MP3

Thunderball first came on our radar in 2001 on the fine compilation Modular Systems which included Thievery Corporation, Blue States and Nicola Conte. Much like their Eighteenth Street Lounge label mates Thievery Corporation the group has put out consistent entertaining and funky world music inspired albums and DJ sets over the last 10 years.

Their new album 12 Mile High is no exception. The standout track “Enter The Brahmin” is world lounge at it’s best filled with a heady mix of sitar, tabla and indian singing samples. The mixture makes for a fun, trippy ride.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day…"Flowers Bloom" from High Highs

 High Highs
"Flowers Bloom"
Self-released 2011

 Listen to "Flowers Bloom" MP3

Originally from Australia and now living in Brooklyn, Jack Milas and Oli Chang are High Highs (the name taken from a song from Viva Voce).  Wrapped in his warm songwriting, Jack's often falsetto vocals blend with Oli's subtle electro production. Yet unsigned, the young band is taking a measured DIY approach for the moment, assembling the right team and working on releasing an EP joined by drummer Zach Lipkins.
The track "Flowers Bloom," along with the tracks "Horses" and "Open Season" can be downloaded for free from the band's website.
Be sure to catch High Highs at Bowery Ballroom (NYC) on 19 May.
Official | MySpace 

Track of the Day… "Images" from Norman Palm

Norman Palm
from Shore to Shore
City Slang 2010
Listen to "Images" MP3

Inspired by life on the move among different cities (Mexico City, Paris, Berlin), 10 personal songs come together to form Norman Palm's personal new release Shore to Shore.  Norman  moves away from the mainly acoustic sound of his debut Songs(accompanied by a 200-page book of Norman's artwork), mixing up and stretching his sound with the help of producer Janne Lounatvuori.  Daniel Nentwig (The Whitest Boy Alive) and Le Corps Mince de Françoise also lend their talents. 

One of our favourite tracks is the insistently pulsating "Images", a timely indie pop call to a fresh beginning.
Take a microscopic look into the push and pull of love and hate with the video to "WDYD?" (designed by Mareike Graf).
Also, be sure to check out the beautiful collage graphics for the album, the work of exciting Paris-based Ahonen & Lamberg.
You can catch Norman on several European dates this spring, including at La Flèche d'Or (Paris) on 2 April and for a special show in Berlin (Grüner Salon) on 23 April, playing with his band and special guests.
Shore to Shore is out now on Berlin's City Slang.
Official | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Up and Down" from Chad Valley

Chad Valley
"Up and Down"
Chad Valley (EP)
Cascine 2010

Listen to "Up And Down”

Oxford collective member Hugo Manuel, has channeled a new electronic look that focuses on shine and sumptuousness with his Chad Valley EP.

The track “Up And Down” is in the same vein as Peter, Bjorn and John and Animal Collective. The song is filled with electronic congas and bongos that are replete with organic substance. That main part is fine but it’s the unexpected percussion you have to listen for that warms the spaces between.

Facebook | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Firecracker" from Frazey Ford

Frazey Ford
Nettwerk 2010

Listen to "Firecracker" MP3

Canadian singer-songwriter and The Be Good Tanyas founder Frazey Ford has crafted a skilled solo debut called Obadiah. The title is taken from her middle name and her personal feel is felt throughout the album.

Her track “Firecracker” brings to mind a lazy days Sunday walk with no troubles in the world. The song is rich and clean with a slow plucked banjo filling in the light spaces with lovely color.

Facebook | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Weekend" from Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde
Fat Possum 2011

Listen to "Weekend" MP3

Chicago band Smith Westerns blend a refreshing, modern pop sound with a distinctive, pure rock sensibility. The album is filled with sparkling ELO with John Lennon guest singing tracks. And dare I say Lynard Skynard? (re: “All Die Young”)

On “Weekend”, the band channels a 60’s surfer boy vibe typified by the happy anti-lament “Ooh Weh”. Besides the fun chant the vocals are sharp and smart.

Check out the video for “Weekend” here.

Official | Facebook

Track of the Day..."The Great Pan Is Dead" from Cold Cave

Cold Cave
"The Great Pan Is Dead"
Cherish the Light Years
Matador April 2011

Listen to "The Great Pan Is Dead" MP3

This April, Cold Cave (led by Wesley Eisold) is set to release the group's follow-up Cherish The Light Years, an album recorded with Chris Coady who has worked with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, !!! and TV on the Radio. Wesley describes the upcoming release as "...a love letter to the path that has lead me to where I am now, to loss and love and friends and enemies and the dizzied and blurred ways of the world."

On the first release from the new album, "The Great Pan Is Dead", Wesley looks to his hardcore and noise roots. The track plays off of the drive and sharpness of industrial rock, all the while not shying away from the embrace of melody and bright synths.

Official | Matador

Track of the Day... "Transatlantic" from Christian Kjellvander

Christian Kjellvander
from The Rough and Rynge
Tapete Records (February 2011)
Listen to "Transatlantic" MP3

The Rough and Rynge
is Christian Kjellvander's follow-up to his 2007 release I Saw Her From Here / I Saw Here From Her. The new album came together from stories from the road, where Christian spent about 2 years touring in support of his 2007 release. He believes in the power of playing live, as he says, "[i]t's the only thing, besides family and friends, worth living for.  And a good song can be done anywhere, anyhow." Touring left Christian phased by what he saw, about the direction where he saw society and people heading.  He retreated to write the songs that make up the new album, all of which were recorded over a short five days.
The track "Transatlantic" is the opener to the new album, a quietly moving and nuanced song which highlights Christan's broken vocals style.
Official | MySpace | Tapete Records

Track of the Day..."Tomorrow" from Daughter

Self-released 2010 / 2011

Listen to "Tomorrow" MP3

Daughter is the project of London-based singer-songwriter Elenda Tonra.  She has made available a 4-track demos EP which is currently free to download on the Daughter MySpace page.  Once of the tracks "Run" has been enjoying some time of the Hype Machine 'Popular' chart.  We wanted to share with you a track that is a bit different, something more left of center.  This track is the haunting and reverb-heavy "Tomorrow", a plea in the face of the chilly reality we have no doubt will come.
There are quite a few dates for Daughter in London in February and March, so be sure to check her MySpace page for updates. Also, check out the video of an excellent live performance of Daughter performing the track "Peter" (Tales From Shop Session). 
MySpace | Twitter

Track of the Day..."Please Ask For Help" from Telekinesis

"Please Ask For Help"
from 12 Desperate Straight Lines
Morr Music (February 2011)
Listen to "Please Ask For Help" MP3

Telekinesis is the project of Seattle's Michael Benjamin Lerner.  To write the tracks to his follow-up release, Michael headed to Berlin where he focused on creating the dozen tracks which make up 12 Desperate Straight Lines.  The songs are compact and deceptively bright, with the tracks striking at something more personal and bittersweet.  Michael is hitting the road in support of the new release with Jason Narducy (Robert Pollard band, Verbow) on bass and Cody Votolato (Jaguar Love, The Blood Brothers) on guitar.  Be sure to check the Telekineses MySpace page for tour date updates.
Have a listen to our personal favorite from the album "Please Ask For Help".
Official | MySpace | Morr Music

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with The Innocence Mission

The Innocence Mission have been creating exquisite music for over 20 years, honing their distinctive sound over the span of 10 studio albums. At the heart of the project are Karen and Don Peris, partners in life and in the band, who have been joined by various collaborators over the years, including founding member Mike Bitts on bass. Drummer Steve Brown rejoins the band for the band's latest release called My Room In The Trees, out on Badman Recording Co.

The Innocence Mission are rare in their ability to create songs which, both lyrically and musically, connect on an emotional level with listeners -- like walking into a room filled with your favorite people, everyone laughing and catching up, immediately comfortable and bright, bringing the warmest of smiles to your face.

We caught up with Karen who shares with us about My Room In The Trees, on hearing songs from earlier albums, working as a partnership, upcoming projects and what's on the Peris hi-fi.

Listen to "Rain (Setting Out In The Leaf Boat)" MP3

The band’s latest studio release is My Room In The Trees. Could you tell us a bit about how this release came together and what inspired it?
It came together gradually, over the past couple of years. Mostly what inspires the writing, and then the sharing of the songs is just wanting to, or even needing to, communicate in some way. I always feel tongue-tied in conversations. I am much better at listening to someone else speak. So writing -- the luxury of being able to take the time to work with words and sounds and colors, not to mention the joy of just playing and singing, discovering melodies and they way they move over chords -- it is something I never get tired of, something I'm always grateful for.

The self-titled debut for The Innocence Mission came out back in 1989. What goes through your mind when you listen to these songs now? How do you see your sound as evolving?
To tell the truth, it is painful for me to hear that album, so I avoid it. While the experience of making the first two albums was a happy and exciting one for us, I am embarrassed about the writing and the singing. I was young enough to be trying to sound like someone else, and if I were to hear those albums it would be hard to recognize myself in them. The records we have made since then -- since Birds of My Neighborhood onward -- I still feel close to those songs, and the way they sound is probably true to what we are still striving towards.

We have always been struck how many songs appear to capture a certain closeness, both lyrically and musically -- songs that seem to welcome you into a personal and relaxed setting. Is that part of what you look to create?
I'm glad that you think this about the songs. I always have the feeling that writing songs is like joining in a conversation with other people. I've been glad for the experience of feeling a connectedness in reading or listening to someone else's writing. I'm happy if someone who hears our songs can feel that way.

When you close your eyes, where do you imagine your songs being listened to?
I don't know. The letters and e-mails we've received are written, in the kindest voices, from many different places, which never stops being a surprise to me.

What it is like to work with your partner?
It is something that is so natural. I never have to question it, but I am grateful for it, to be able to work with Don. I think it is a great help to have the energy of two people, two friends working with a shared purpose.

If you could create any type of music with complete anonymity, would you create something completely different?
Maybe not completely different. But it would be an adventure to make a wholly instrumental album. Or the reverse, an album that has very ambient group singing, with a large group of people.

What artists do you see as currently creating particularly creative or inspiring music?
Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Mark Kozelek, Yann Tiersen

Can we expect any solo projects in 2011?
Maybe something from Don. I am working on another children's album, not lullabies this time, but I don't know when I'll be able to finish it.

Where have you been most surprised to find inspiration?
A tube of watercolor paint, the name of the color was geranium lake, which I thought was the most wonderful, visual name.

What is on your hi-fi?
Van Morrison, the song "Fair Play" from Veedon Fleece. This is one of my very favorite songs / recordings, and I just have to hear it at least from time to time. This is a very moving piece of music, and it has a quality and a space that I can't put into words. And the lyrics of this song, too, are so visual. I hold them up as an ideal.

The Rachels, Music for Egon Schiele. This is such a beautiful record, and I listen to it a lot with my kids, who play violin, viola and piano, the main instruments in this band, along with cello.

Pablo Cassals, "Song for the Birds", from the 1961 concert for President and Mrs. Kennedy. Don found this recording this week, from a news story about this concert, and we have been listening, mesmerized by this, all of us.

Vashti Bunyan, "Train Song". This always affects me strongly. It is the beauty of her voice, and also the great atmosphere of the recording.

Music from the film Amélie by Yann Tiersen. We play this at our house at least a couple of times a week. I love this music. I love the simultaneously melancholy and joyful sound of the accordion-based songs and also all of the piano. I have wanted to play the accordion, especially out of love for this album. Don gave me one for Christmas, and I am trying to play it. Right now it is a bit less like playing and a bit more like a wrestling match (the accordion is winning).

Official | Badman Recording Co.

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more. You can also subscribe to our podcast free at What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi

Listen to "Pocast 14" MP3

Artist - Track Names

Track of the Day...."Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" from Fredrika Stahl

Fredrika Stahl
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" from Sweep Me Away
Sony Music Entertainment France

Listen to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" MP3

Yes, its rooted in a beloved child's song. And yes, it is the soundtrack to a ubiquitous Nissan Juke advert. But get back here, there is more to this track than this may have you think. Fredrika Stahl carefully sidesteps the pitfalls which are inherent in playing with such a well known melody. This Swedish artist's tribute is unabashedly poppy and tender, without becoming saccharine.

Watch the video to Fredrika's track "Rocket Ship To Mars"


Track of the Day: "Mile Marker" from Amy Seeley

Amy Seeley
"Mile Marker"
Plum Coulee
Self-released 2010

Listen to "Mile Marker" MP3

"Mile Marker" is one of those tracks that we keep coming back to. The keyboard-driven instrumentation is restrained yet insistent, with Amy's emotive voice front and center. There is a charm and clarity which comes through the song, a seeming effortlessness and a paired back eye which makes this track stand apart.

Plum Coulee is Amy's self-released album which is available on Bandcamp. Amy is playing on 10 February in Portland at The Woods.

Official | Twitter | Bandcamp

Track of the Day..."Champion Sound" from Crystal Fighters

Crystal Fighters
"Champion Sound"
from Star Of Love
Zirkulo Records

Listen to "Champion Sound" MP3

Crystal Fighters are an international London-based collective, fusing uplifting progressive dance music with old world Basque folk music. The group draws inspiration from the 80's Spanish / Basque "anti-todo" ("anti-everything") youth movement, taking their name from an unfinished opera written by singer Laure's deceased grandfather during his final months of insanity. The group has worked to expand upon the wild spirit of these writings, releasing their debut Star Of Love (acronym for SOL, Spanish for "sun"). This is a stand out album that continues to surprise with its inventiveness and wonderfully chaotic energy.

Be sure to catch Crystal Fighters live at Point Ephémère in Paris on 19 February. Not to be missed.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Laut" from Lockerbie


Album TBD

Listen to “Laut” MP3

Icelandic post-rock band Lockerbie gained some small momentum opening for For A Minor Reflection in 2008 but didn’t gel as their initial lineup.

The new group has pulled together to create “Laut”, a thoughtful, melodic and evocative track that shines a shimmer with a welcome worn hat. The opening salvo of the song feels like it can’t wait to explode into epic reverie and it does. Lockerbie is a new bunch that we look forward to in 2011.

They are currently working on a full- length.


Track of the Day..."Chinatown" from Destroyer

from Kaputt
25 January 2011
Merge Records, Rough Trade

Listen to “Chinatown” MP3

Destroyer, led by Vancouver native Dan Bejar, is soon releasing Kaputt, an excellent album that will be spending quite a bit of time on our hi-fi. The album opener is the soft rock, slow-burner “Chinatown”. The album continues with eclectic and intriguing smoky turns on pop, mixing sax and horns with electric guitars and electronics.

Check out the video for the seductive track “Kaputt” (our personal favorite) for a look at a bygone era.

This tracklist for Kaputt:
01 “Chinatown”
02 “Blue Eyes”
03 “Savage Night at the Opera”
04 “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”
05 “Poor in Love”
06 “Kaputt”
07 “Downtown”
08 “Song for America”
09 “Bay of Pigs”

MySpace | Merge Records | Rough Trade

Track of the Day..."Fighting Smiles" from Jonquil

“Fighting Smiles”
from One Hundred Suns
Dovecote Records 2010

Listen to “Fighting Smiles” MP3

Jonquil was formed in Oxford, UK by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Hugo Manuel. The band has since released two albums including Sunny Casinos and Lions.

On their most recent EP release, One Hundred Suns, one can find the lovely, sunny pop track “Fighting Smiles.” The song is filled with warm, willing melodies that fuse an off-beat percussion track with bright, effervescent vocals reminiscent of Vampire Weekend.


Track of the Day..."Boxer" from Lovers

from Dark Light
Badman Records 2010

Listen to “Boxer” MP3

Lovers are the Portland, OR band fronted by the wistful and glossy throated voice and lyrics of Carolyn “Cubby” Berk. On their new release Dark Lights the three-piece show a smart, full sound of melancholy that rises above the shallow platitudes of most of the moribund set of today.

On the fine track “Boxers”, Berk and company echoes the voice of Hope Sandoval at her finest with a modern, rhythmic beat replete with wondrous star shots and sample effects that bring a perfect balance to the vocals.

MySpace | Official

Track of the Day…"Let's Go Down" from Family of the Year

Family of theYear
"Let's Go Down"
From Songbook
Washashore Records (US) / CRC (UK) / Volvox (France) 2010

Listen to “Let’s Go Down” MP3

With the track "Let's Go Down", Family of the Year highlight their debut full-length with an unabashedly bright sing-a-long, plain and simple. From Silverlake, California, Family of the Year delivers a particularly well-timed, toe-tapping call to come together on that perfect summer evening.

Be sure to catch Family of the Year in Paris on 11 February at La Maroquinerie.

Official | Myspace | Volvox  

Track of the Day..."Soak It Up" from Houses

“Soak It Up”
from All Night
Lefse Records 2010

Listen to “Soak It Up” MP3

We generally never get so lazy as to let an artist explain their album but in the case of Houses effort All Night the effort and the story is worth the pass.

“I got laid off from my job at the end of last year and decided I needed a change. My girlfriend put in her two weeks and we moved out to a little cabin in Papaikou, Hawaii. It’s a pretty remote place outside of Hilo (i.e no plumbing/electricity/gas). We worked for meals during the day cultivating indigenous micro-organisms and learning the basics of sustainable living. We drank showered and cooked with rain water. It was a beautifully simple experience. In our downtime, she would paint and I would record. We’d have to light candles in an effort to save solar power to keep my computer running. We inspired each other a lot out there, and I think it shows on the album. She sings on a lot of the tracks on All Night. The music comes from a place of love and ease.”

It’s cold out there and we know that this song might be a dream world. The track “Soak It Up” is a simple, emotional, sound architecture based track that embodies the story of the songwriter. There is no loneliness or blues in the song nor craving for love; it exists plainly and fluidly as a moment on a beach or in front of a fire filled cabin. The sounds are the idealism and comfort of humanity.

MySpace | Lefse Records

Album Review...Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird from The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth
Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird
Dead Oceans 2010

Listen to “The Dreamer” MP3

The Tallest Man On Earth is Kristian Matsson from Dalarna, Sweden. After fronting fellow Swedes Montezumas he released two full length albums (Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt) but has really caught lightning in the bottle with the faultless Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird five-track EP on Dead Oceans.

“Sometimes the blues is just a passing bird, oh why can’t that always be…”

The EP title is not only a lyric but it is a palpable theme to the piece in general. All of the songs lay in a bluesy, seemingly mawkish tone but Matsson expertly sings his way out of that pool and rockets the songs to prominence.

From the light and energetic fingerpicking on the opening track “Little River” to the bare bones electric guitar and plaintiff yearning on “The Dreamer” (which includes the title lyric) to the soft earnestness of “Thrown Right At Me” there isn’t a forgettable or over-indulgent track.

Although his guitar work and song-crafting is spot on and fills the air perfectly, it is the power of the lyrics that fuels the album in its entirety. You listen and come back and back again finding yourself singing a moment either internally or in an under-the-breath hum while grabbing your morning coffee or just taking a break from your day to day life.

The sound and the songs are truly special and we can’t wait to see where The Tallest Man On Earth might take us next.


01. Little River
02. The Dreamer
03. Like the Wheel
04. Tangle In This Trampled Wheat
05. Thrown Right At Me

MySpace | Dead Ocean

Track of the Day..."Babylon Is Burning" from Thieving Irons

Thieving Irons
“Babylon is Burning”
From The Midnight Hum
Seabird Recording Company 2010

Listen to “Babylon is Burning” MP3

After years recording and touring with Pela, Nate Martinez (aka Thieving Irons) has completed his first solo album. This Midnight Hum is a collection of songs written and produced by Martinez with Mike Brown co-producing.

On “Babylon Is Burning” Martinez explores the joining of instruments into one sound. The track begins with a lightly picked guitar, a slide electric guitar that is joined by a tinkling to chord piano riff followed by a walking tom-tom drum, a slow pulling accordion and ultimately united by the joyous meanderings of a folk banjo.

The song exults in a convergence of sounds that builds to an anthemic and deep crescendo in which all the instruments (including vocals) meet and swoon together in a long, languid stretch to sweetness and harmony.

MySpace | Official

Track of the Day..."Skull Cakin'" from Pomegranates

“Skull Cakin’”
From One Of Us
Afternoon Records 2010

Listen to "Skull Cakin’" MP3

Having released two albums in two years (2008’s Everything Is Alive and 2009’s Everybody, Come Outside!), Cincinnati band Pomegranates have finally hit pay dirt with their latest LP One of Us.

Led by founders Jacob Merritt (drums) and Isaac Karns (vocals, guitars, keyboards) the art-punk band has found the midway between experimental psych-rock and anthemic punk.

Their sound works especially well on the standout track “Skull Cakin’” which stands as an exemplar to pure, pounding garage rock in all its glory.

MySpace | Afternoon Records

Track of the Day..."Photojournalist" from Small Black

Small Black
From New Chain
Jagjaguwar 2010

Listen to "Photojournalist" MP3

Brooklyn based synth quartet Small Black’s debut album New Chain shows an impressive progression from their self-titled EP. The band kept the melodic but refreshingly experimental sounds from standout track “Despicable Dogs” and built a solid freshman output.

From New Chain comes the quirky, chillwave track “Photojournalist.” Filled with deftly created chiming and wriggling percussion and oddball sample sounds the song flows over you like a wave of echoes. The group’s effort on the track really shows upon repeated listening when you break down the intricacies within.

Check the video for “Despicable Dogs” featuring a fantastic surf van and killer gray fu-manchu moustache.

MySpace | Official | Jagjaguwar

Track of the Day…"Draw In Light" from Wild Palms

Wild Palms
“Draw In Light”
One Little Indian 2010

Listen to “Draw In Light” MP3

Things have moved quickly for the Chatham/Southgate band Wild Palms. After just over a year of playing together the band fronted by singer Lou Hill stands to make some quality noise on the indie music circuit. With comparisons that run the reference gamut from Can to Cut Copy to New Order, the band has a lot to live up to in the future.

They have made huge strides towards that goal by signing a three-album deal with One Little Indian and getting into the studio to sculpt a new album with Gareth Jones (Grizzly Bear, Clinic, Interpol, Wire, Depeche Mode). The as yet untitled album is set for release next spring.

The band hasn’t left fans wanting by releasing a double AA sided 10” that includes the excellent “Draw in Light.” The track is bathed in rollicking, fuzzed out, white light sound but continues the sensitive yet unrestrained momentum that they delivered on their single “Deep Dive.”

MySpace | One Little Indian

Track of the Day…"Once And For All" from Clock Opera

Clock Opera
"Once And For All"
From Kitsuné Maison Compilation 10
Listen to "Once And For All" MP3

The latest single from London's Clock Opera is "Once And For All", an uplifting electro "chop pop" (self-described) charge coupled with Guy Connelly's imploring vocals. 
Word has it that the track is inspired by a play from the Belgian performance company Ontroerend Goed entitled Once and for all we're gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen, exploring what its like to be teenagers who feel like teenagers.
"Once And For All" is featured on the latest compilation from Kitsuné.  You can also check out various remixes of the new single on the band's MySpace page, including a remix from Little Loud. 
MySpace | Kitsuné (Clock Opera Page) | Little Loud (MySpace) | Ontroerend Goed

Track of the Day…"Home" from Glasser

From Ring
True Panther 2010

Listen to “Home” MP3

Following-up on last year's EP Apply and various appearances including opening spots for the likes of XX and Jonsi, Glasser (a/k/a Cameron Mesirow) has released her exciting debut Ring.  On the release, Cameron worked with producer Ariel Rechtshaid, experimenting with, developing and opening up many tracks which she had originally recorded herself (rather amazingly) on GarageBand.
An excellent example of Cameron's textured sound is the track "Home".  The song is insistent - retreating and attacking in equal measure with Cameron's melodies riding on string progressions and tribal percussion.
Official | True Panther

Track of the Day…”Watch the Glow” from Museum of Bellas Artes

Museum of Bellas Artes
“Watch the Glow”
from Days Ahead
Force Majeure / Transparent 2010

Listen to “Watch the Glow” MP3

Following-up on their excellent release “Who Do You Love”, Stockholm’s trio Museum of Bellas Artes are back with a new 4 track EP Days Ahead. The track “Watch the Glow” plays on the crunchy Balearic sound of their earlier release, teasing out the pop-bliss memories of summer.

Check out the kaleidoscope / forest afternoon video for the title track.

A limited 10” vinyl is available at Pure Groove and Rough Trade Shops.

Be sure to catch Museum of Bellas Artes on 17 December 2010 at Point Ephémère (Paris).

MySpace | Force Majeure | Transparent

Track of the Day…”Satellite” from Lelia Broussard

Lelia Broussard
from Masquerade
Elle Beezley 2010

Listen to “Satellite” MP3

Though she is only just 21 years of age, Lelia Broussard’s swish revels in a soulful and intelligent sound. On her new release Masquerade, Broussard has combined the impact of her Southern Louisiana home with a pure Philly pop sound.

“Satellite” is the lead single from the album (released on Nov. 2). The track pulses with an uptempo, washboard scratch that encourages her honey-tone voice. The warmth generated is a subtle pop gem.

MySpace | Official

Track of the Day…”Fribourg” from The Late Call

The Late Call
from You Already Have a Home
Tapete Records 2010

Listen to “Fribourg” MP3

You Already Have A Home is Johannes Mayer’s stunning follow-up release as The Late Call. This new release shows the Stockholm-the based Johannes expanding his sound and venturing out from the introspection of his debut Leaving Notes.

The new release is intimate without being close, each track solidly rooted in the core of Johannes’s voice and acoustic guitar. Orchestration and percussion are used with deft economy, gently lending shape and depth to the album. And collaborators such as Maria Eriksson from The Concretes and Ylva Ceder complement Johannes’s warm and throaty vocals.

You Already Have A Home speaks to universal life experiences -- working to build a life, the inevitable struggles and setbacks, as well as the incredible joys along the way. All of this driven by a confidence and an unflinching belief that we can shape our own circumstances.

The German label Tapete Records will be releasing a special vinyl version of You Already Have A Home which will include the otherwise unreleased track “Valley”.

MySpace | Tapete Records

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Anoraak

As a follow-up to some stellar singles including “Nightdrive With You,” French electro artist Anoraak (a/k/a Frédéric Rivière) has released his excellent debut album Wherever The Sun Sets (on Grand Blanc and Naïve).  The Valerie collective member continues to deftly play with retro electronic sounds and romantic grooves.  The album’s first single “Above Your Head” is available as a free download from the Anoraak MySpace page.

Listen to “Above Your Head” MP3

Wherever The Sun Sets has been spending a lot of time on our hi-fi of late, and we were happy at the chance to catch up with Frédéric to talk about the new release, the influence of retro American pop culture and, of course, the unrivaled Mr. Miyagi.

Wherever the Sun Sets is your first album, but by no means a first release. Could you tell us a bit about how you got started as an artist (including the excellent Nightdrive With You EP) and about joining Valerie Collective?
 I've actually been playing music in bands for 15 years now, so it's not a new interest.  Anoraak is about 8 years old now and was born in Paris.  I kept it as a "bedroom project" for a couple of years, and thanks to MySpace and the cheering from many random people, I let it grow outside my little student room.  When I moved to Nantes 5 years ago (on the French west coast), I met all the guys from Valerie, and we started it as a family of artists, helped by the blog.  Nightdrive With You came out in that period.
Were you surprised by the reception to the track “Nightdrive With You”?
Definitely yes, especially because at this time, the music scene was all about banging beats and saturations!
You have described your sound as “romantic” in a larger sense, a sound which draws upon various influences from the late 70’s and 80’s.  Is there an attraction to American pop culture?
You've got it.  American pop culture is definitely my background as a kid.  I was born in 1980, so I grew up in a world taken by American music and movies.  And I have a special crush for this late 70’s culture.  I'm really into old school disco and funk music: I've got that feeling of a time where simple things were cool. Romantic is a way to explain my love for good feelings, sunsets and a little bit of melancholy.
Sally Shapiro and Siobhan Wilson make guest appearances on this album. How did the idea of working with these artists come about?
 It really came about spontaneously.  I’ve worked on a remix for Sally in the past, and her voice fits the tracks perfectly.  Siobhan is a friend of friend, and when I saw her live once.  I just thought we should sing one together.  She liked the idea, so we did it!
We hear you are a fan of Karate Kid.  You won’t find any argument from us. Any reason in particular why it is a favorite?
 Aha!  It's always tricky to talk about that movie, but I just love it.  It's so funny, and I think it's one of the only "karate movies" that really describes perfectly (but in a funny way) the spirit of karate.  I must say that I did practice karate for a certain time, maybe it helps.  And I love Pat Norita (Mr. Miyagi in the movie).
Any plans to head over the US in support of the new release?
 Nothing to talk about yet, but it's getting planned.  More news about that really soon!
If you close your eyes, where do you imagine Wherever the Sun Sets being listened to?
 On a Sunday morning, in a car going to the seashore, in a plane....  I hope it can fit many situations!
Who do you see as creating particularly interesting music at the moment?
 The new Ariel Pink is amazing.  I really love everything about it.
Do you see France currently holding its own on the international music scene?
 I don't really know.  I guess I don't have the step back to see that from a distance, but French music is exporting much better now.
What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
- Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today [my album of the moment]
- Minnie Riperton - Adventures in Paradise [always with me]
- Luke Million - Italo Journey [I've just discovered this Australian guy, creating new Italo Disco crazy tracks]
- You! - Battles [a new French band people forget to talk about, amazing]
- Cut Copy - the whole discography [because it's Cut Copy!]
MySpace | Valerie 

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more. You can also subscribe to our podcast free at What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi

Listen to "Podcast 13” MP3

Artist - Track Names

Track of the Day....”Time Is of the Essence” from Cold Mailman

Cold Mailman
“Time Is Of The Essence”
from Relax; the mountain will come to you
Kråkesølv October 2010

Listen to “Time Is Of The Essence” MP3

“Time Is Of The Essence” is the new single from Cold Mailman’s second album Relax; the mountain will come to you. At the core of this Oslo collective is Ivar Bowitz (singer, singwriter, guitarist) writer, working with his friends to give flesh to the structures he creates. The result is indie-pop tracks which are airborne, bouyed by guitars and melodies and Ivar’s restrained vocals with lighthearted storytelling.

Here is a link to a live living room performance of “Time Is Of The Essence.”

Also, check out the album’s other addictive standout “Pull Yourself Together And Fall In Love With Me.”

Cold Mailman will be playing several dates throughout Norway in October and November, and hopefully we will be seeing them play a few dates in the rest of Europe later this year.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day…”Either Way” from Beta Radio

Beta Radio
“Either Way”
from Seven Sisters
Self-released 2010

Listen to “Either Way” MP3

Beta Radio is the collaboration of longtime friends Ben Mabry (vocals, guitar, glockenspiel) and Brent Holloman (vocals, guitar, glockenspiel, banjo, piano). Together, these guys from Wilmington, North Carolina blend together a welcomingly familiar and disarming blend of Americana (folk / gospel) and pop, buoyed by charming melodies that burrow into your head.

Earlier this year, Beta Radio self-released their debut album Seven Sisters, a release which includes standouts “Either Way” and “Highlight on the Hill.” Ben tells us that the track "Either Way" is a track that he wrote while on vacation with his family in Hawaii. Ben was at a Samoan event and started hearing the melody for what would become the song. Se, he went into the bathroom and recorded the melody in his phone so he would remember it. Brent and he worked on it and then that winter, they recorded that song with their first round of songs in the studio. They decided to add the drums just a few days before they recorded it - one of Ben's favorite parts of the song.

You can stream all of Seven Sisters on the band’s official site (link below) and download a digital copy from major digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon).

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day...”Summer Loving Song” from Katell Keineg

Katell Keineg
“Summer Loving Song”
from At The Mermaid Parade
Honest Jon’s Records

Listen to “Summer Loving Song” MP3

It was years ago at the NYC’s Mercury Lounge when we first saw Katell Keining perform. She came out to play songs from her release Jet, the room comfortably filled with people who seemed to know what they were in for. From the first track, the Brittany-born singer-songwriter exuded a disarming intensity and passion – her unique and powerful voice pushing with abandon to the back of the room. Joining the drinking crowd, she grew more emotive, her voice changing in register and focus, culminating in the song“One Hell Of A Life”, an arresting and unapologetic look back at a life fully lived.

Katell’s latest release At The Mermaid Parade was released earlier this year on Honest Jon’s Records. A continuation of Katell’s singular form, frequently basking in the glow of New York, from the title track which takes place at Coney Island’s unrivaled Mermaid Parade to “Summer Loving Song” which invites you on a road trip in the dog days of summer.

MySpace | Official (not up to date) | Honest Jon’s Records

Track of the Day…“Reconstitution” from Alexandre Chatelard

Alexandre Chatelard
from L’Homme et la Femme
Ekleroshock (2010)

 Listen to “Reconstitution” MP3

Parisian Alexandre Chatelard creates a retro futurist world, one that is erotic and both blessedly louche and humorous.  Tracks like “Parade” call to mind an image of Sylvia Kristel playing with her nicest pearls while perched upon a wicker chair, while “Scene de Crime” seems ripped from some lost French adaptation of Flash Gordon.  The single from L’Homme et la Femme “Reconstitution” straddles the line between these disparate worlds – synth sultriness and rock guitars mixed with Alexandre’s nonchalant, Gainsbourg inspired vocals.
Fans of Sébastien Tellier take note.
MySpace | Ekleroshock

Album Review…Lucky Shiner from Gold Panda

Gold Panda
Lucky Shiner
Ghostly International / Notown 2010

Listen to “Same Dream China” MP3

At his origins a remixer (Bloc Party, Health, Telepathe, Simian Mobile Disco), UK’s Gold Panda has now released his excellent debut full length Lucky Shiner. Out earlier this month as a digital release (featuring a few bonus tracks), the physical copy will be released in October on Ghostly International (North America & Europe), as well as on Gold Panda’s own label Notown.

Having been tipped as one of BBC’s Sound of 2010 nominees, Gold Panda is the happy recipient of well-deserved praise for Lucky Shiner. This debut offers up colorful electronica with a depth of field, where beats drive and spiral, without forgoing the warmth of sparkling and emotive melodies. Standouts include “Same Dream China” with its otherworldly soundscape and “Snow & Taxis” mounting shining bells propelled on snare beats. The acoustic interlude “Parents” breaks with the rest of the album, featuring field recordings with grandma and the unexpected treated sounds of a squeaky wheelbarrow.

On Lucky Shiner, Golda Panda deftly mixes the influences of place (the English countryside, memories of studies in Japan) with an array of personal experiences (falling in and out of love, touring, mixing). All of this combining to create a stellar album which captivates with subtlety and depth.

Check out the video for “Snow & Taxis” directed by Ronni Shendar.


01. You
02. Vanilla Minus
03. Parents
04. Same Dream China
05. Snow & Taxis
06. Before We Talked
07. Marriage
08. I’m With You But I’m Lonely
09. After We Talked
10. India Lately
11. You
12. Greek Style (Digital Bonus)
13. Casio Daisy (Digital Bonus)
14. Rush Job (The Ghostly Store Exclusive)

MySpace | Lucky Shiner | Ghostly International

Track of the Day…”Windstorm” from School of Seven Bells

School of Seven Bells
Ghostly International / Vagrant / Full Time Hobby 2010

Listen to "Windstorm" MP3

School of Seven Bells was born back in 2004 when Benjamin Curtis from Secret Machines crossed paths with twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza of on!air!library!. Steadily devoting more time to the new group, these Brooklynites rallied behind the band's name, a reference to a mythical 80’s South American pickpocket academy, where seven separate minds combined to work as one.

As a follow-up to 2008's Alpinisms, the trio is back with an excellent new release Disconnect from Desire, out now on Ghostly International, Vagrant and Full Time Hobby. The album opener is “Windstorm”, a haze of Lush guitars and beats and swirling vocals from the sisters Deheza. You can check out the traffic stopping video here , directed by David Altobelli (director and editor for the latest video of the quietly stunning group Hammock.

Catch School of Seven Bells on 23 October at Santos Party House (as part of CMJ) and later in Paris on 3 November 2010 at La Boule Noire as part of the Petit Bateau / Kitsuné Inrocks event.

Official | MySpace | Ghostly International | Vagrant | Full Time Hobby

Track of the Day…”Flóð” from For A Minor Reflection

For A Minor Reflection

Listen to "Flóð" MP3

Young Reykjavik rockers For A Minor Reflection are an energetic, post-rock band that have been gaining attention since their 2008 tour with country honeybees Sigur Rós. While their sound is dynamic and strong, it is not as esoteric and detached as SR; we could see how they would pair well with them on tour. What we have heard of the group leaves us wanting more.

The rocker side of Icelandic music is apparent on “Flóð.” The track starts with a simple piano line and builds to an almost hallucinogenic finish.

Official | Mspace | Twitter

Track of the Day..."Cosmic Bacon" from The Samps

The Samps
“Cosmic Bacon”

Listen to "Cosmic Bacon" MP3

The Samps is a sample-loving collective, made up of Cole M. Greif-Neill (guitarist from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti), Harley B. and Jason Whitemare. The group plays with jumbles of sound, cleverly slicing and dicing and creating hook-laden grooves.

Look for the release of “Cosmic Bacon” as a 12” later this year on the Japanese label Big Love. The Samps debut 6-track EP is now available on Mexican Summer .

MySpace | Mexican Summer | Big Love

Track of the Day..."I'm Aware" from Clinic

“I’m Aware”
from Bubblegum
Domino (2010)

Listen to "I’m Aware" MP3

Clinic is a Liverpool based band led by founding members Ade Blackburn and Jonathan Hartley. Their sound is best described as indie rock but they are universally known for their use of vintage instruments. They have gained acclaim over the past decade since signing with Domino Records in 1999.

On their new album Bubblegum the band has changed up their normal roiling hooks with a softer, more melodic pop sound.

The lead single “I’m Aware” is a pretty track built on a cowboy loping beat and bass underlying a sweet harmonic choir. It’s childlike sing-song tune float along in a mesmerizing, oscillating drone.

Check out their sweet, youngster puppet manual of a video for the song here.

MySpace | Official

Album Review …Spirit Guides from Evening Hymns

Evening Hymns
Spirit Guides
Kütu Folk Records (France) 2010 / Out of this Spark 2009
 Listen to “Lanterns” MP3

Evening Hymns evolves around Toronto-based songwriter Jonas Bonnetta.  His debut full-length under the moniker Evening Hymns Spirit Guides was released in North America late last year on Out of this Spark, and is seeing its release in Europe this month on France’s Kütu Folk Records.

In many ways, Spirit Guides came together as a way for Jonas to deal with his father’s long illness and passing.  Eschewing the obvious pitfalls, his record embraces hope, allowing his songs the time to develop and take the time necessary to play out.
“Lanterns” is a standout track which builds, slowly adding layers and sounds (guitars, drums, strings, horns), providing buoyancy to lyrics which gently reassures that “everything is going to be alright tonight”.  “Mtn. Song” captures a sense of a certain wonderment, a rolling and impulsive track.  While “History Books”, “Dead Deer” and “Cedars” follow a starker course, bare and seemingly exposed.  “Broken Rifle” stands apart with its assured rock swagger., and on “November 1st, 2008, Lakefield”, quite simply put, it rained.
Be sure to catch Evening Hymns in Paris on 14 September at Point Ephémère. Jonas will also be in London on 27 (The Hoxton Bar and Kitchen), 28 (The Windmill) and 30 (King’s Cross Social) September.  For a complete list of tour dates (France, UK, Belgium, Germany) check out the Evening Hymns MySpace page.
While not on Spirit Guides, check out the video for the excellent track “Port Hope” for a bit of the wonderfully understated spirit that is Evening Hymns.
Official | MySpace | Kütu Folk Records| Out of This Spark

Track of the Day..."Down The Drain" from Alexis Foxe

Alexis Foxe
“Down The Drain”

Listen to "Down The Drain" MP3

New Yorker Alexis Foxe spins a sultry yet thought provoking blend of electronica and 1940’s big band nostalgia. Her vocals are sultry and crisp. The music derives from her global journey and yields tremendous results.

“Down the Drain” is a perfect song for the “debt” generation. This is a brassy, energetic uptempo number that has the feel of an electronic boogie woogie. The lyrics are sassy and insightful, highlighted by the phrase “My mother tells me that my spending habits, are as wild as copulating rabbits.”

The video for her song “Cynic

Check out the charm and sass of Alexis Foxe live on September 23 at Piano’s in NYC.

MySpace | Official | Twitter

Track of the Day..."Heart Stab" from Champagne Riot

Champagne Riot
“Heart Stab”

Listen to "Heart Stab" MP3

What began as a solo project of Caspar Bock in 2008, Champagne Riot has since transformed into a duo with the joining of fellow Dane (and music journalist / producer) Anders Reuter. The band’s stated inspiration of Hedonism, Dadaism, Nihilism and Abba sums up their sound pretty neatly – infectiously melodramatic tracks which delve head first into the blissful froth of pop.

Head over the Champagne Riot’s MySpace page and have a listen to the excellent tracks “Ingrid Bergman” (which has been on our hi-fi for awhile now) and “The Champagne Anthem”.

Champagne Riot’s next release is slated as a double A-side single “Heart Stab / A Friend of a Friend” for release on 27 September.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Above Your Head" from Anoraak

“Above Your Head”

Listen to "Above Your Head" MP3

As a follow-up to some stellar singles including “Nightdrive with You”, the French electro artist Anoraak will be releasing his debut album Wherever The Sun Sets on 21 September on Grand Blanc and Naïve. The Valerie collective member continues to play with retro electronic sounds and romantic grooves on the album’s first single “Above Your Head”, available as a free download from the Anoraak MySpace page.

Check out the video for “Above Your Head”, a flat rendering of a 360° dizzying descent through the French Alps.

In case you missed it, read our interview with Valerie Collective founder David Grellier

MySpace | Valerie Collective

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more. You can also subscribe to our podcast free at What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi

Listen to "Podcast 12” MP3

Artist - Track Names

Track of the Day..."What My Life Could Have Been" from A Classic Education

A Classic Education

"What My Life Could Have Been"
from Hey There Stranger
Lefse Records/Holiday Records 2010

Listen to "What My Life Could Have Been" MP3

Bologna, Italy outfit A Classic Education is a promising young group, which has a distinct stateside approach to indie rock. Formed by Canadian singer and guitarist Jonathon Clancy and his Italian friends Luca Mazzieri and Paul Pieretto, the band is now a six piece with the addition of Giulia Mazza, Federico Oppi, and Stefano Roveda. Their sound could easily be mistaken for the best of Arcade Fire or the Decemberists and they translate that impressive aptitude onto their upcoming release Hey There Stranger (due out September 21).

On the lead single “What My Life Could Have Been” A Classic Education provide us with a rich, multi-layered, up-tempo dashboard - possibly dance-floor - pounder that glows with self-confidence and fun. The track gives you that feeling like you’ve heard early-New Order for the first time. In short, this band is hitting on all cylinders and seemingly, just in first gear. We will be watching.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Sleep Tight" from Rollerskaters

"Sleep Tight"

Listen to "Sleep Tight" MP3

Andrew McKee may be better known for his project The Young Friends, a project which has recently been featured in Clash Magazine and which will see Andrew and co. touring with The Drums and Surfer Blood this September.

However, Andrew's Phoenix-based side project Rollerskaters is not to be overlooked. The project's sole track thusfar "Sleep Tight" was written during Andrew's senior year in high school as a means of procrastinating, avoiding studying for finals. The track is a slice of reimagined nostalgic indie pop, accompanied by a video featuring some of those mighty fine metal clip on rollerskates.


Track of the Day..."The Truest Faith" from Korallreven

'The Truest Faith"
Acéphale Records (2010)

Listen to "The Truest Faith" MP3

Korallreven is the coming together of talented Swedes Daniel Tjäder (of one of What's On The Hi-Fi's favorites, The Radio Dept.) and Marcus Joons. Together they create the perfect bright Balearic backdrop to those dog days of summer.

'The Truest Faith" is available as a limited edition 7" single or as part of a remix EP with the track "Loved-Up".  Be sure to check out the rather amazing Sail A Whale remix of "The Truest Faith" which grabs onto the track's shimmering haze.

Keep an eye out for the duo's first full-length hopefully to be released later this year.  Meanwhile, check out the video for "The Truest Faith."  

If you are in NYC, be sure to catch Korallreven at Glasslands on 12 September in Brooklyn.

MySpace | Acéphale Records (Korallreven EP page)

Track of the Day..."Just In Case" from Miles

“Just In Case”
from As Fast As You Can

Listen to “Just In Case” MP3

Miles are a Brooklyn-based band that creates delicious pop soaked treats. Their new album As Fast As You Can is a testament to that notion filling the ethos with lighter than air melodic dreams.

On the track “Just In Case”, singer/songwriter Marc Plotkin shows off his high-range vocals and feather soft arrangements. It’s a hip spark that will grow on you listen after listen.

MySpace | Official | Twitter

Album Review …Make Out Room (Part 1) from Living Days

Living Days
Make Out Room (Part 1)

Listen to “Let’s Kiss” MP3

Living Days is a new romantic pop group from Brooklyn which includes former members of Matisyahu, Coco Rosie, Lee Scratch Perry, and sci fi thrash band AQUI. Their unpredictable frontwoman, Stephonik Youth, is an underground legendary performer.

On the their debut effort Make Out Room the ever-loving group provides a straightforward new-wave, punk spirit over a synthesized soundtrack that is buoyed by charismatic lead singer Stephonik Youth's deep, sultry vocals. She is not your average indie-pop girl.

Each track on the album not only relives Human League, Berlin and The Cure’s mantras but succeeds in re-inventing each with a superstar panache that will have you hitting the play button every time you need a jolt.

Their VHS-aesthetic on “Let’s Kiss” is a lip-locking gem. Watch it here.

Living Days’ debut album Make Out Room Part 1 drops Aug 24th and will host a record release party at Webster Hall’s The Studio on Aug 27th with bare-bones indie rockers Naked Hearts.

MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Track of the Day..."She Was A Vision" from Active Child

Active Child
“She Was A Vision”
from Curtis Lane
Filter Records / Merok Records 2010


Listen to “She Was A Vision” MP3

Active Child is the moniker of Los Angeles based artist Pat Grossi.  This former choirboy (he is a former member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir) continues to surprise with his clean falsetto, knack with the harp and subdued 80’s synth-pop inspired electronics.  Have a listen to the woozy track “She Was A Vision” with its tribute to the chorus from Cocteau Twins’ ’84 release “Lorelei”.
You can find “She Was A Vision” on Curtis Lane, Active Child’s six-track debut EP released this past June on Filter Records (US) (Filter Magazine’s label) and Merok Records (UK).  A 10” white vinyl is also available directly from the official Active Child website or via Insound.
Watch a session online with Active Child on KCRW’s excellent Morning Becomes Eclectic.

NYC residents, you can catch Active Child on 9 September at Brooklyn Bowl.  Active Child will stay out on tour through North America through October.
Official | MySpace | Twitter  

Track of the Day..."Mowgli The Lynx" from Deastro


“Mowgli The Lynx”
from Mind Altar EP
Ghostly International (2010)

Listen to “Mowgli The Lynx” MP3

At the tender age of twenty-two, Deastro’s Randolph Chabot has created an unmistakable record filled with exciting starry-eyed, laptop pop.

His new EP, Mind Altar, continues the same life and spirit that he has shown on previous effort Keepers and Moondagger. At the heart of the work is “Mowgli The Lynx” – an ethereal, glossy electro-gem that harkens back to early 80’s synth without being overly derivative.

The eight-song Mind Altar —originally released on cassette through Deastro’s blog—comes with three bonus tracks from the also-blog-released Orange Swimmer Red Summer EP, all of which has been remastered and reissued into a cohesive, album-length EP.

MySpace | Ghostly International

Track of the Day...“Kentish Town (Walls Remix)” from Tracey Thorn

Tracey Thorn
“Kentish Town (Walls Remix)”
from Opposites (Available August 24)
Merge Records (2010)

Listen to “Kentish Town (Walls Remix)” MP3

On August 31, Tracey Thorn will release Opposites - a special digital-only EP of experimental remixes of tracks from her latest album Love And Its Opposite.

While many of her recent remixes have been geared towards the dancefloor, the tracks on her upcoming EP are more futuristic and heady.

The track “Kentish Town” returns Tracey’s sound to that her work with Massive Attack. The remix for the song was created by WALLS - Sam Willis (from influential electronic music blog, Allez-Allez) and Alessio Natalizia (Banjo or Freakout).

Tracey Thorn’s Opposites EP will be available beginning August 24 exclusively on Beatport and then on the usual digital outlets beginning August 31.

Official | MySpace | Merge Records

Track of the Day...“Round and Round” from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
“Round and Round” from Before Today
4AD (2010)

Listen to “Round and Round” MP3

The track “Round and Round” is the captivatingly curious single from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s latest influence-spanning release Before Today. “Round and Round” is a real change-up groove. Lo-fi vocals and instrumentation set the groove, breaking it up with smooth choruses reminiscent of summers past. The track retains the best elements of a home-recorded feel, with the lightest of production touches.

The DIY cult-character himself Ariel Pink heads-up the group, joined by Tim Koh on base and vocals, Kenny Gilmore or guitars and Aaron Sperske on drums. Now through October, the LA-based band will be hitting the road and playing a slew of dates across North America. Check the band’s MySpace page for tour dates (including 24 July in NYC at Irving Plaza).

Before Today is out now on 4AD.

MySpace | 4AD

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more. You can also subscribe to our podcast free at What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi

Listen to "Podcast 11” MP3

Artist - Track Names

Track of the Day … “Echoes” from The Royal Palms

The Royal Palms
Listen to “Echoes” MP3

The Royal Palms is a collaboration of two artists who, as of yet, have worked hard to keep their actual identities a bit of a mystery.  Never mind. The smooth redux Yacht Rock of The Royal Palms basks in the neon thrill of the 70’s/80’s with the likes of Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald. Grab a six-pack of Bartles & James, roll up your trousers and walk barefoot on the beach at sunset.
Also check out the track “High Class Lady” which is streaming on the group’s MySpace page.  A Patrick Nagel print come to life.
If you are in London, catch The Royal Palms at The Macbeth on 29 July.
MySpace | Twitter | Facebook

Track of the Day..."Western Hospitality" from Club 8

Club 8
“Western Hospitality”
From The People’s Record
Labrador (2010)

Listen to "Western Hospitality" MP3

Stolkholm, Sweden duo Club 8 went to Brazil for inspiration for their latest album The People’s Record (out now on Labrador Records). You can feel the sun-drenched samba sound in every beat of their exciting single “Western Hospitality.”

Karolina Komstedt’s ethereal, loose vocals float over Johan Angergård’s jangly guitar and congas and creates an effortlessly catchy track. It’s the perfect, summer party song that will take your cares away - a little cachaça and lime would make it paradise.

Check out the video for the track here.

Official | MySpace | Labrador Records

Track of the Day… “Dreamin’” from Feldberg


To be self-released August 2010

Listen to “Dreamin’”

Feldberg is the laidback Reykjavik-based duo of Einar Tönsberg (a/k/a the laptop creative Eberg) and Rósa Birgitta Ísfeld. The first single ”Dreamin’” features the duo’s coy and infectious back-and-forth, with calls of “dreamin’ of you” sailing over the strains of Einar’s quirky brand of effervescent pop:

To coincide with the release of “Dreamin’” on 30 August via iTunes, a track which won Best Song in this year’s Iceland Music Awards, Feldberg will be releasing a 10-track remix album. Check out the just updated Feldberg MySpace page for additional tracks and videos.

Eberg’s new release
Antidote is out now. Check out his toilet holidays video for the track “The Right Thing To Do” on his MySpace page (trust us, watch the video and it will click).

Official | MySpace

Album Review … Lucy and the Wolves from Martha Tilston

Martha Tilston
Lucy and the Wolves
Squiggly Records (2010)

Listen to “Wild Swimming” MP3

Martha Tilston is a deeply imaginative English singer-songwriter whose latest album Lucy and the Wolves is a collection of eleven seductive modern folk songs. Martha’s poetic lyrics unfurl vivid environments, her vocals crisp and wonderfully unaffected. 
Throughout the album, the feeling of the outdoors remains tantamount through imagery and field recordings (such as the a capella “Searching for Lambs” recorded in a Somerset wood). Stylistically, songs range from more traditional folk (“Lucy”, “Tom Cat”) to the more elaborately instrumented (“Wave Machine”). Each track remains richly organic, lending this album a warm and intimate coalescence.
Joining Martha on this latest release are members of the Woods, including bass player Jon Thorne (ex-Lamb).  Martha’s stepmother, the Irish singer Maggie Boyle, adds flute and harmonies to the standout track “Wild Swimming”, a celebration of the exhilaration of the world outside.
Lucy and the Wolves is out now on Martha’s own label Squiggly Records.  Watch a video for the track “Lucy”, recorded in a wagon nestled in the woods.
Be sure to catch Martha at La Maroquinerie (Paris) on 30 June with Fredrika Stahl.
“The Cape”
“Who Turns”
“Wild Swimming”
“350 Bells”
“My Chair”
“Searching for Lambs”
“Old Tom Cat”
“Wave Machine”

Official | MySpace

Album Review...Well Done Europe from The Chap

The Chap
Well Done Europe
Lo Recordings 2010

Listen to “Few Horoscope” MP3

North London based group The Chap might be named after a magazine on how to be the perfect modern gentleman but the songs on Well Done Europe are not your standard gentile pop songs. The group has crafted an intricate and evocative album that really starts to move on “Few Horoscope”. It’s a simple track filled with funky breakbeats and sexy squeals of delight.

Also check out the track “Gimme Legs” which is a sweet sauce of samples and “Neverless, The Chap”. The latter is filled with cool distortion and is a serious, flat out challenge to all electro-pop comers.

The rest of Well Done Europe is coated with sleepy, artistry that bathes in a hook-heavy, electronic rock feel. The Chap shows off its massive talent on this sizable and fun album.


1. We'll See To Your Breakdown
2. Even Your Friend
3. We Work In Bars
4. Obviously
5. Gimme Legs
6. Well Done You
7. Nevertheless, The Chap
8. Pain Fan
9. Torpor
10. Maroccan Nights
11. Few Horoscope
12. Chalet Chalet

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day …“Bye Bye Cellphone” from 1973

“Bye Bye Cellphone” from the self-titled album
2010  Blonde Music Publishing

Listen to “Bye Bye Cellphone” MP3

1973 is the French trio of school friends Nicolas Frank (vocals and guitars), Thibault Barbillon (from Nouvelle Vague on bass, keyboards, guitars) and Jérôme Plasseraud (guitars and keyboards).  With their first album Bye Bye Cellphone, 1973 have created a loving homage to the collectively imagined sound of California folk-pop and Beatles infused melodies.  The album was recorded in Thibault’s home studio in the French countryside over the last remaining weeks of summer. A soundtrack to that romanticized late afternoon in summer – the barbeque fired up, faces pink from the sun and the lingering light.
The tracks on Bye Bye Cellphone rise in wistful choruses, with lyrics often speaking to reminiscing, escaping or being set free.  In this vein, the title track speaks to suddenly becoming un-tethered with the loss of a cellphone and the freedom to reinvent.  Settle back and enjoy.
“Bye Bye Cellphone”
“Sexy Plane”
“Little Sis’”
“Simple Song (For A Complicated Girl)”
“Little Thing To Take Away”
“Late Night Call”
“We Are Nowhere”
“You Say You Will”
Official | MySpace | Blonde Music

Track of the Day… “I Can’t Feel” from Matthew Dear

Matthew Dear
“I Can’t Feel”
from Black City
(to be released August 2010 on Ghostly International)

Listen to "I Can’t Feel" MP3

Musically, Matthew Dear is many things: artist (under various aliases including Audion), producer, keenly sought after remixer and DJ, label co-founder (of both Ghostly International and Spectral Sound).  And he is back this summer with his fourth album (under his own name) Black City, his follow-up to 2007’s Asa Breed.  

The title track from Black City “I Can’t Feel” is spun from darker stuff.  The track begins with an afro-rhythmic clip, a hypnotic bass loop, organ chords and restrained effects.  This off-kilter groove is joined by Matthew’s distinctive baritone croon, gliding fitfully forward, until the track simply dissolves.  Enjoy the sexy darkness.
As a sidebar, check out the Ghostly International’s free ‘Discovery’ App to stream full tracks from the Ghostly International and Spectral Sound catalogues (with it’s mood-based tool).
You can sign up for updates about the new album at and a get a download of "I Can't Feel".
Below is the tracklisting for Black City:
“I Can’t Feel”
“Little People (Black City)”
“Soil to Seed”
“You Put A Smell On Me”
“More Surgery”
Official | MySpace | Ghostly International 

Track of the Day…“How The Game Is Played” from The Redwood Plan

The Redwood Plan
“How The Game Is Played”
Racing Towards the Heartbreak
Fish the Cat Records 2010

Listen to “How The Game Is Played” MP3

The Redwood Plan bust out of speakers and headphones. On the track , “How the Game Is Played”. lead singer Lesli Wood just plain rips it up like few of her peers.

Is it true that the Seattle band has finally perfected the groove-heavy sound that they have promised? This hook-laden charm is immense and is the answer.

Official | MySpace | Twitter

Track of the Day …"Schoolin’’’ from Everything Everything

Everything Everything
From the band’s debut album to be released in 2010

Listen to “Schoolin’” MP3

Everything Everything are a pick-n’-mix quartet hailing from Manchester, crafting smart, catchy and unconventional pop harmonies. They have come a long way since there first gig in 2007, having since released multiple singles including the excellent track “MY KZ, UR BF” (“My Keys, Your Boyfriend”) in 2009 (watch the video).

Everything Everything has since signed to Geffen, and the band’s debut album to be released later this year is already being pegged as one to watch.

The upcoming album’s first genre-melding single, “Schoolin’” will be available to download from 13 June, and out on 7" and CD on 14 June.

Also, check out the Visions of Trees (who will soon be featured on What’s On The Hi-Fi) blissful and tribal remix of “Schoolin’” on the Visions of Trees MySpace page

The band will be hitting the festivals this summer (Glastonbury, Latitude, Reading).  Check here for dates.

Official | MySpace | Twitter

Track of the Day...“Second Guessing” from Eddy Current Suppression Ring

Eddy Current Suppression Ring
“Second Guessing”
Rush To Relax
Goner Records (2010)

Listen to “Second Guessing” MP3

“Second Guessing” from Eddy Current Suppression Ring is a rollicking, punk infused romp in the tradition of X, The Cramps and The Troggs. On the track the Melbourne-based four-piece spark a high energy, slow burn rocker that is highlighted by lead singer Brendan Suppression’s rambling, nasally but ultimately cool vocals.

Check out the band here in their video for “Which Way To Go” and catch them live at the Cake Shop on June 18th in NYC.

Official | MySpace | Goner Records

Album Review… Laukinis Suo Dingo from Alina Orlova

Alina Orlova
Laukinis Suo Dingo
MetroMusic 2008 / Fargo 2010

Listen to “Vaiduokliai” MP3

On her debut album Laukinis Suo Dingo (translated as The Wild Dog Dingo, taken from the title of a Russian book on adolescent love), the young Lithuanian artist Alina Orlova captures the spirit of playful Baltic folk pop.  Her sound provides an extension of the likes of Regina Spektor and the wonderful Swede Frida Hyvönen, lending proceedings her unique twist.  The album features tracks sung in Lithuanian, Russian and English, all set to the seemingly unstudied accompaniment of piano, glockenspiel, violin, strings, banjo, tuba, accordion, bass, percussion.  Nevertheless, the heart of each song is the same – Alina’s voice and piano.

Tracks like the album opener “Lovesong” tumble on nostalgic strings and piano.  “Ligo” and “Žeme, Sukis Greitai” which ebb and flow with a darker urgency contrast with the altogether sweetly sad refrains of tracks like “Paskutinio Mamuto Daina”, “Utomlionnoe Solnce” and “Po Tiltu” (the latter being one of our favorites from the album).  Other tracks like “Transatlantic Love” and “Vaiduokliai” are simply sunny toe tapping affairs. “Slėpynės” sees the rare introduction of the non-organic, if only for a brief mid-song interlude.

Check out beautiful footage of Alina performing a few tracks for the folks at La Blogothèque.

Laukinis Suo Dingo, originally released in Lithuania a couple years back, is now available in Europe on the French label Fargo Records.

“Paskutinio Mamuto Daina”
“Žeme, Sukis Greitai”
“Po Tiltu”
“Transatlantic Love”
“Utomlionnoe Solnce”
“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”

MySpace | Facebook

Track of the Day..."Knock On Wood" from Halsted

“Knock On Wood”
From Life Underwater
Ashbury Records (Due in July 2010)

Listen to “Knock On Wood” MP3

Sometimes being a songwriter and performer can be strange roller-coaster ride. One moment you feel all the golden promise that you worked so hard to attain turn to lead and the idyllic strength you once depended on seems gone in an instant. And sometimes the better of these fallen dust themselves off and try again better than before.

Ryan Auffenberg is the latter of the two scenarios. After a promising debut LP, Marigold, and a subsequent tour the singer-songwriter returned home to find his label had folded amidst the recent financial collapse. Rather than dwell on what could have been, Auffenberg turned to friends and in the process put together a group to support his new material.

Out of these collaborations Halsted was born. The group, named after the first street Auffenberg lived as a musician, has created an inspired and exciting sound on their debut LP Life Underwater. Built around straightforward, passionate and poignant songwriting and playing, the songs on the album remind me of the best parts of Wilco, The Church and Paul Westerberg.

“Knock On Wood” is a driving, melodic track that feels like it snakes and bounces down a lonely country road at night. Filled with fine guitar riffing and Auffenberg’s plaintive vocals, it’s just a small sample of a great debut album.

We can’t wait to experience the trajectory of this band and look forward to checking them out live.

Official | MySpace | Twitter

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more. You can also subscribe to our podcast free at What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi - What's On The Hi-Fi

Listen to "Podcast 10” MP3

Artist - Track Names
1) ANA TIJOUX - "1977"
5) JJ - "LET GO"

Track of the Day..."1977" Ana Tijoux

Ana Tijoux
From 1977
Nacional Records 2010

Listen to “1977” MP3

After a great showing at this year’s SXSW, Ana Tijoux seems poised to launch large into the US market. The Santiago, Chile native is no newbie though. She proves it on the title track to her North American debut 1977.

The track has a hypnotic glare that features Tijoux’s monotone yet sensual flow over a cascade of latin bullfight horns and staccato guitar blasts. What she hides behind this near flawless bit of cool is a strong message that makes her stand out above peers. It’s definitely a track to party to that will open your mind.


What's On The Hi-Fi...The Acorn Album Review

The Acorn
No Ghost
Paper Bag Records (Canada) / Bella Union Records (US / Europe)
 Listen to “No Ghost” MP3

The Acorn initially began back in the summer of 2002 as the solo project of Ottowa’s Rolf Klausener.  The coming years saw the band’s membership grow to become a collective, releasing the 2008 Polaris Award nominated Glory Hope Mountain.  The band is no stranger to touring, having hit the road to play with the likes of Calexico, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Elbow.
Work on The Acorn’s third full-length album No Ghost (to be released in June) began in the summer of 2009 when the band retreated to a secluded cabin in Northern Quebec.  Tracks came together out of improvisation and an assured experimentation with both acoustic and electronic sounds.  The Acorn then headed to Montreal to complete work on the album, leaving the cool wooded comfort to record in the midst of an urban heat wave – the result being a truly adventurous and rewarding release with staying power.
No Ghost deftly conveys a vivid folk / rock landscape, guided by the subtlest and most effective use of multi-instrumentation and modern / traditional contrasts, both sonically and lyrically.  The album opens with the guitar feedback driven “Cobbled From Dust” and moves into indie folk / rock territory with “Restoration”, a beautiful track with struts along at an excited clip (listen to the Four Tet dreamy take on this track on the Bella Union website).  “Misplaced” is tenderly exposed, along with the intimate “On The Line” and “Almanac”.  “I Made The Law” jolts along on a blend of folk / country / rock guitars while “Bobcat Goldwraith” is an excellent track buoyed by eclectic instrumentation.  The title track revs on frantic guitars and building rhythms and backward guitars and strings.  The album closer “Kindling To Cremation” is one of our favorite tracks from No Ghost, a track that encapsulates The Acorn’s sound – the use of subtle effects and instrumentation and visual lyrics including the wonderfully curious line “I can hear the wrinkles whisper in your dress.”

The album will be available in the US and Canada digitally on 6/1.
Be sure to catch The Acorn in London on 3 June and the following day in Paris at La Flèche d’Or.  Check the band’s website for complete tour details.
Official | MySpace | Paper Bag Records | Bella Union

Track of the Day..."Sleep Paralysist" from Neon Indian

Neon Indian
“Sleep Paralysist”
Green Label Sound 2010

Listen to "Sleep Paralysist" MP3

We first heard rumblings from Alan Palomo while working as alter-ego Vega and with the band GhostHustler but its with new band Neon Indian that he has started to roar.

Formed in Denton, Texas in 2008, Neon Indian garnered a cart full of accolades with their debut LP Psychic Chasms. The fuzzed-out, electronica and melancholy vocals in such songs as “Should Have Taken Acid With You" and “Deadbeat Summer” were surprise indie hits in 2009.

With the release of their new single “Sleep Paralysist”, Palomo has continued his blend of tripped-out, bleeped up, psychedelic electronic that is both cool and accessible. If this is the future for Neon Indian, we like what we see in the cards!

Make sure to check out Neon Indian in NYC at The Music Hall of Williamsburg on June 17th.

Twitter | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...LCD Soundsystem Album Review

LCD Soundsytem
This Is Happening
DFA 2010

Beginning with his 2002 single “Losing My Edge” production guru James Murphy has hit the bohemian hipster target dead center. As the chief progenitor of the disco-punk sound Murphy’s alter-ego LCD Soundsystem has become the godfather to a generation of anarchic beat-makers.

His now seminal Sound of Silver was one of the breakthrough albums of 2007 and took the idea of dance music to a new place. The album represented a folk sensibility to the lyrics. Murphy spoke of loneliness, aging, and the ever changing socio-cultural world around him backed by the best dance beats of the decade

On This is Happening LCD Soundsystem continues this winning paradigm and expands on it in earnest. The nine tracks on the album seamlessly blend organic and synthetic sounds and doesn’t stray from the beats that are his bread and butter. “Dance Yrself Clean” begins with tip-toeing drum beat that bursts into a rocking electronic bit of synth mayhem.

One can definitely hear Bowie’s mid to late 70’s Berlin sounds as influence on the album. That persuasion is apparent on “All I Want”. The track is a synthed-out and sped up, modern “Heroes” for a new crises generation.

All this is not to say that there isn’t any easy fun to be had beyond the beats on the album. On “Drunk Girls” and especially in its accompanying video Murphy shakes loose any agendas and orders a keg for a few friends of the fairer sex.

If you missed Sound of Silver on its initial release don’t make the same mistake on This Is Happening. Your hi-fi might never forgive you!

Official | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Team Ghost

Team Ghost is the new project fronted by Nicolas Fromageau, co-founder of M83 with Anthony Gonzales.  The two co-wrote M83's first two releases M83 and Dead Cities, Red Sea and Lost Ghosts.  Before the release of M83's third album, Nicolas and Anthony parted ways, seeing Nicolas moving to Paris from the South of France.  It was there that he formed Team Ghost, joined by multi-instrumentalist Christophe Guérin and producer / manager Jean-Philippe Talaga (founder of Gooom Disques).  Nicolas and Christophe also formed a production team called Kiss Me First.
Against this backdrop, Team Ghost has released their first EP You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me next month on the UK's Sonic Cathedral Records.  Along with being available as a digital download, the release is also be available as a limited edition black and white 10-inch vinyl.
We caught up with Nicolas who shares with What’s On The Hi-Fi a bit about how Team Ghost came together, making a move to Paris, the decision to release You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me as an EP, and late night bedroom listening sessions.
Listen to "A Glorious Time" MP3

Could you tell us a bit about how Team Ghost came into being and how you all met up (Nicolas, Christophe and Jean-Philippe)?
Christophe and I created Team Ghost in 2007, we are friends since we were 15, and it's a pleasure to play music with him, as he's such a great musician.  Jean-Philippe used to be the manager of M83 and, as I've been working with him for years, I trust him so much!  His advice is always so helpful -- he's a great producer!!
You relocated to Paris from the south of France.  Looking back on this now, what do you make of the move?
Oh, I really enjoy living in Paris -- it's a great city!  In France, it's easier for a band to find gigs or a label when living in Paris.  Of course, I miss my friends and my family, but I love big cities.  Paris is quite a perfect place for living.
How did the production team Kiss Me First come together?
When we started recording for the EP, we had no label yet, so the three of us needed to create Kiss Me First.
Your EP You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me is out now.  Could you tell us about the decision to make the release an EP (as opposed to a long player)?
Oh, we wanted to start with an EP, even if we already had many songs.  It's cheaper to release and, for me, it's a good start.  Now we are working on an LP!
"A Glorious Time" is one of our favorite tracks from the new EP.  The track seems to speak of a certain nostalgia, a feeling which (to us) also appears to run through other tracks.  Is this off the mark?
That's true.  This song is about nostalgia, and about leaving the people you love when you move from your hometown.  Most of my lyrics are about melancholy, feeling lonely, missing someone, etc.  But I'm quite a funny guy in real life (well, I hope so)!
When you close your eyes, where do you imagine your music being listened to?
In a bedroom, at night, with your (boy/girl) friend.  Oh, and with a big joint, it's perfect.
What do you get most out of playing live? Any cities that you particularly enjoy playing?
I love playing live!  No matter where in fact.  When we do a good gig, it's always a perfect moment for me, I love it!
Is there any artist who you see as creating particularly creative and innovative music?
Superpitcher!  He's my hero, and I want him to remix one of my songs someday.  His song "Irre" changed my life, and now I'm really into German minimal house music.
What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
Slowdive Slowdive Slowdive Slowdive Slowdive Slowdive Slowdive!  Oh, and the new LP of Crystal Castles, some tracks are incredible!  Joy Division and, well it's kinda weird, but I'm into punk rock these days like The Clash's early recordings, Ramones' "Rocket to Russia", The Damned's first LP, and The Stranglers.
MySpace | Sonic Cathedral Records 

Track of the Day..."Let Go" from JJ

“Let Go”
From jj nº 3
Secretly Canadian (2010)

Listen to “Let Go” MP3

jj are the duo of Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden (taking their name from Truffaut's 1962 film Jules et Jim). Following up on last year's beautiful debut jj n° 2, the pair is back with the handily named jj n° 3, the band's first album to get a broader release with the help of Secretly Canadian.

This new release sees jj honing the often R&B and dubbed-out Balearic sound of their previous releases. The album kicks off with a soulful and simple, piano-backed track borrowing Lil Wayne's chorus from The Game's "My Life''. Several tracks such as "And Now", "Voi Parlate, Lo Gioco", "You Know" and "No Escapin' This" swagger along on an infectious and warmly crystalline tip. "into The Light" explores electronic synths, beats and washes, punctuated by snipits of excited latin football commentary. One of the standouts is the single "Let Go", building from a solo harmonica, adding blurring and icy beats and synths over Kastlander's sublime vocals.

As an aside, lest we forget that jj also brought us their take on the theme song to the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter.

jj have just wraped up playing a few dates with The xx in the US and are heading to Europe for several dates, including Paris on 21 May, Berlin on 23 May and Amsterdam on 26 May.

"My Life"
"And Now"
"Let Go"
"Into the Light"
"Voi Parlate, lo Gioco"
"Golden Virginia"
"You Know"
"No Escapin' This"

Make sure to check out the video for “Let Go” as it just makes you think this duo has more than a few avant-garde ideas going through their heads. This is definitely a twosome to watch.

Secretly Canadian | Sincerely Yours  

Track of the Day…"Icarus” from White Hinterland

White Hinterland
From Kairos
Dead Oceans (2010)

Listen to “Icarus” MP3

White Hinterland is the project of Portland-based Casey Dienel, who is joined by Shawn Creeden on the new release Kairos.  This atmospheric album has the classically trained Casey leaving former territory behind, eschewing acoustic instruments for electronic instrumentation and effects, percussion and washes of sound.  The result is an ambitious collection of off-kilter pop that shines in being just that bit different.

Casey said that making the album was like swimming in a cave, trusting only the instinct to just keep swimming. This is also a particularly fitting description of the single “Icarus”, a chilly swing propelled into the vastness on echoing minimal percussion and looping calls.

Check out the beautiful animated video for the release “Amsterdam” (featuring mystical gherkins no less) created by Michaela Copikova.

Kairos is out now on Dead Oceans.  White Hinterland is on tour now in the US with stops planned in Europe in May and June (21 May, London / 2 and 3 June, Paris).

White Hinterland (Official) | MySpace | Dead Oceans

Track of the Day..."Excuses" from The Morning Benders

The Morning Benders

From Big Echo
Rough Trade (2010)

Listen to "Excuses" MP3

With Big Echo, Berkeley, CA band The Morning Benders have made a huge leap forward from the delightful but simple pop sounds on their 2008 debut album Talking Through Tin Cans. The new release is deeper, more eclectic and features lush, layered songwriting and thoughtful, exciting production from singer Christopher Chu and co-producer Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear.

On the opening track “Excuses”, Chu takes on the role of 50’s style balladeer with his cool, gentle and ethereal delivery. The music follows suit from the opening timpani drum sound, to the orchestral strings and the slow dance, prance of the keyboards. What makes the song so marvelous is that they make the sound refreshing. It’s a perfect soundtrack to soak up the summer and remember how a well-crafted pop tune can change your day.

Big Echo is available now in the US and will drop in the UK/Europe on June 28th.

MySpace | Rough Trade Records

What's On The Hi-Fi...MGMT Album Review

Columbia Records 2010

Things seemed to go so easilyy for Brooklyn based duo MGMT in the last few years. Their 2008 debut, the hook-heavy Oracular Spectacular, spawned several hits that were heard on every radio from Madison Avenue ad agencies to pizza shops in Williamsburg to 15-year-old girls' bedrooms in Cocoa Beach, FL and of course on the Hi-Fi here at the office.

With the release of Congratulations it would seem the rumors of their distaste for the limelight were true. The album is a surprisingly complex departure from the groove and funk-fest of their first album. It's much more layered and eclectic with unusual time signatures and tempo changes. The vocals are more subtle and diverse than the sexed up wails of before. And let's take our hats off to these boys for not being afraid to tackle a 10+ minute song with "Siberian Breaks" which in my opinion is the standout track of the album.

The screaming throng probably won’t get this album and maybe it won’t garner MGMT another Grammy nod. It’s might just be too much of a deviation for the casual pop music listener. However, Congratulations is filled with skillfully crafted songwriting, elegant production and lovely vocals that make this set of songs a sonic gem for real music lovers all over.

"It's Working"
"Song for Dan Treacy"
"Someone's Missing"
"Flash Delirium"
"I Found A Whistle"
"Siberian Breaks"
"Brian Eno"
"Lady Dada's Nightmare"

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day..."A Glorious Time" from Team Ghost

Team Ghost

"A Glorious Time"
From the EP You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me
Sonic Cathedral Records (2010)

Listen to "A Glorious Time" MP3

Team Ghost is the new project fronted by Nicolas Fromageau, co-founder of M83 with Anthony Gonzales. The two co-wrote M83's first two releases M83 and Dead Cities, Red Sea and Lost Ghosts. Before the release of M83's third album, Nicolas and Anthony parted ways, seeing Nicolas moving to Paris from the South of France. It was there that he formed Team Ghost, joined by multi-instrumentalist Christophe Guérin and producer / manager Jean-Philippe Talaga (founder of Gooom Disques). Nicolas and Christophe also formed a production team called Kiss Me First.

Against this backdrop, Team Ghost is set to release their first EP You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me next month on the UK's Sonic Cathedral Records. Along with being available as a digital download, the release will also be available as a limited edition black and white 10-inch vinyl.

It is no surprise that Team Ghost builds on the M83 sound -- tracks crafted on shoegaze synths and guitar washes, bringing a welcome and slightly dark closeness. One of our favorite tracks "A Glorious Time" builds along on an uplifting drone with a hypnotic chorus of abandon and moving forward, charging you to "leave it all behind you"….

Be sure to catch Team Ghost in Paris on April 26 at Nouveau Casino with Crystal Castles. Other European dates are set for April, with a few shows in London and Brighton in May. Check the Team Ghost MySpace page for updated concert information.

Tracklisting from You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me

"Lonely, Lonely, Lonely"

"A Glorious Time"

"Sur Nous Les Étincelles Du Soleil"


"Only You Can Break My Heart"

"Colors In Time"

"Deaf" (digital release only)

MySpace | Sonic Cathedral Records

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more.

Listen to "Podcast 9" MP3

Artist - Track Names

Track of the Day… "Everyday" from Twin Tigers

Twin Tigers
From Gray Waves
Old Flame (2010)

Listen to "Everyday" MP3

Ahhh! Rock music has returned to Athens. I have no problem with the cacophony of auto-tuned, hip-hop, blah from most of north Georgia that has been spilling out of the vine in the last ten years. Yeah, well, I guess I do. I miss good old fashioned college rock and that's what Athens, GA is all about. Now, the haircuts are much better than Stipe in '86 but the quality is there in spades. Twin Tigers' straight-forward yet sharp sound is as welcome as the spring warmth. It's on the hi-fi and should be on yours' as well.


What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with The Ruby Suns

Maybe it’s the album’s infectious and hyper blend of tropicalia and modern pop, or the synth riffs and warped beats, or the exciting change-up unpredictability. Whatever the reason, we find ourselves coming back to bask in the melodic sunshine of the new release Fight Softly from New Zealand’s adventurers The Ruby Suns.

Fight Softly is out now on Lil’ Chief Records,Sub Pop, and Memphis Industries.

Listen to “Cranberry” MP3

We caught up with the band’s frontman, songwriter and producer, Ryan McPhun, who shares with What’s On The Hi-Fi what got him excited about making music, how the new release took shape and a few of the tracks which are now making the rounds on Ryan’s hi-fi.

Is there any particular album that you heard growing up that made you excited about making music?
I loved Michael Jackson when I was a kid. My sister and I used to dance on top of our upside down laundry baskets. I also loved Phil Collins and Hall and Oates. When I was about 9 in the early 90’s I started getting into gangster rap, funnily enough. I think the funky drum beats attracted me to them. I started playing drums a couple years later.

We understand that you are originally from California and moved to Auckland a few years back. What brought you to New Zealand?
I'm an New Zealand citizen, so it has always been an easy option for me. I had been going to university in Los Angeles, and I'd had enough of it and wanted something new so I headed to New Zealand. I also had started seeing someone from New Zealand who I'd met on a prior trip there so I wanted to hang out with her some more.

Could you tell us a bit about how the band’s third album Fight Softly took shape? Were there any particular influences or motivations?
It was a pretty long process. I started a few songs in '08 that were sort of a continuation of what I was trying to do on Sea Lion [2007]. The ones with a little tropical flavour. But when I went to write the bulk of the songs, I wanted to do something a bit different to that. I wanted the songs to be a bit more pop, while still being challenging in some way. There are definitely touchstones throughout the album. I was listening to Tango In the Night (Fleetwood Mac) a bunch and was getting really inspired (again) by Bad by Michael Jackson. I was also getting more and more into heaps of different dance music.

How did you approach the engineering / production of Fight Softly?
I used a lot more samples this time around. Whether it is drums from sample sets or little snippets of songs. So a lot of the tracks have a more electronic base to them. I mostly would plug synthesizers and keyboards and even guitars straight into my sound card, and I would effect them in my recording program. My friend Bevan Smith (signer, ex-Ruby Suns) also helped a bit with production and sound ideas. I would send him demos, and he would tell me what he thought. In some songs he added some sounds or instruments, and for 'two humas' he even wrote the outro vocal melody and lyrics. He's been writing, producing music with Signer, Aspen, and Skallander for years, and he's one of my favourite producers around.

You are out now on a busy tour schedule (including 15 May at Point Ephémère (Paris)). Any stops that you are particularly looking forward to playing?
Definitely looking forward to the Paris show. I was nervous about the New York show ‘cause it's a big venue, but it ended up being sold out, and we went bowling at the venue (also a bowling alley) ‘til they closed at 4am. Amazing. I'm really looking forward to coming back to Europe though. There's a few festivals we might be doing that look amazing.

We read that you enjoyed spending some time off in Paris last year. What is it about Paris that appeals to you?
I actually haven’t spent too much time in Paris. But the time I've spent there has been great. The coffee and food and wine blow me away every time. Our last show there was with some friends of ours from the States, and we had the best time.

What is the most ridiculous question you get asked about New Zealand?
I think a recent question was: So, where is Hobbiton?

What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
Alicia Keys, “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”: Such an amazing song. I love her voice in this track and I love the melodies and the ascending synth chords.

Oh No Ono, “Eleanor Speaks” (Caribou Remix): I like the Oh No Ono album, but this remix by Dan Snaith (Caribou) blows me away. Its got such an amazing techno swing to it. The sounds are incredible. I wish I could produce like that guy!

Smith and Thomas, “Even If You Try”: One of my bud Bevan Smith's projects. This track has a nice housey feel to it and beautiful melodies.

Arthur Russell, “Springfield”: I've listened to this track so many times, but i'm still not sick of it. He's one of my very favourite vocalists and a big influence on my singing, especially for Fight Softly. It's a long jammy track but has the most amazing keyboard riffs ever, with perhaps Russell's best vocal melodies.

Michael Jackson, “Another Part of Me”: listened to this track pretty much on repeat while making Fight Softly.

Dizzee Rascal, “Tongue n’Cheek”: Don't know why I haven't listened to this album until fairly recently, but I really love it. The production is really great, and the songs are great. The track where he talks about getting blowjobs from complete strangers is particularly, uh, interesting.

MySpace | Lil’ Chief Records | Sub Pop | Memphis Industries

Track of the Day… "Everything Purple" from 800Beloved


"Everything Purple" from Everything Purple
6 April on Moodgadget

Listen to "Everything Purple" MP3

Hailing from Michigan, 800beloved is Sean Lynch (vocals/songwriting), Anastasiya "Stacy" Metesheva (bass) and Scott Masson (drums). And contrary to what some may expect when they hear of Sean's day job working at the family funeral home, the band's second release Everything Purple bears no kinship to goth or more macabre sounds. Rather, 800beloved's sound is a bright and dreamy homage to love, obsession and watery landscapes, borne out of dreams of purple. The title track from Everything Purple is unmixed and features Sean's measured baritone over jangly and melodious guitars and lo-fi drums. A sound which, along with that of the other tracks on the album, remains organic and retains a characteristic richness.

Moodgadget has set up an Everything Purple mini-site where you can stream the upcoming release and download a free MP3 of "Everything Purple".

"If temptation's red as our eyes are blue, together we'll make everything purple".

"Everything Purple"
"Surf's Up"
"Slasher Flick"
"If Butterflies Never Burned"
"No More Unicorns"

MySpace | Twitter | Moodgadget

Track of the Day..."Hammock" from MillionYoung


From Be So True (EP)
Arcade Sound Ltd (2010)

Listen to "Hammock" MP3

First off, MillionYoung is not a one trick pony as many electronic artists seem to be. With several good tracks making the rotation right now you should expect to see this South Florida button pusher around for years to come.

"Hammock" is just one of our highlights but you can find several other outstanding tracks at his official site below.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day..."None Shall Sleep" from Pepper Rabbit

Pepper Rabbit

"None Shall Sleep"
From Clicks (EP)
BFM Digital (2009)

Listen to "None Shall Sleep" MP3

California duo Pepper Rabbit has created a superbly languid, emotionally redolent and harmony rich track with “None Shall Sleep” off their Clicks EP. Band members and multi-instrumentalists Xander Singh and Luc Laurent throw the kitchen sink of sounds on the cut but weave them all together masterfully. Their eclectic offering is most apparent in the percussion of the song in which you can happily get lost. Dreamy layers of bongos and shakers mix with just enough electronic beats to make for a sublime pairing with Singh’s ethereal callings.

Along with Clicks the band also released a companion EP entitled Shakes that includes the equally impressive “Red Wine.” Check out the video for that track here and you get to really see these creative gents at work.

Definitely keep your ears perked for more from these guys in the years ahead.

Myspace |Twitter: @pepper_rabbit

What's On The Hi-Fi…Trouble Books Album Review

Trouble Books

Gathered Tones
CD available on Own Records / Green vinyl available through Bark and Hiss / MIE Music

Listen to "Past the New Parking Deck" MP3

With this three-piece, the devil is in the detail. As on the band's 2008 release The United Colour of Trouble Books, the tracks on Gathered Tones are an intricate mash-up of percolating bleeps, found sounds, and treatments. The naive vocals forego the reliance on choruses. And for that matter, tracks often forego a continuing reliance on vocals, with instrumentation taking over and ushering songs away until they completely unfold ("Arms Full of Lemons", "Dusk Accelerator").

Gathered Tones is a tight collection of tracks which together create a warm spaciousness, conjuring up washed-out images of locations and stories ("Houseplants", "Abandoned Monorail Station"). The track "Past the New Parking Deck" is the album's single, a track which sums up the band's sound on this release. Well into the song, the vocalist intones "meet me behind the loading dock for a quick kiss and a sandwich". A simple tenderness which resonates throughout the album.

Trouble Books are not afraid to experiment, and Gathered Tones is all the better for it.

"Ascending Kidney"
"Past the New Parking Deck"
"From Colfax Place"
"Arms Full of Lemons"
"Abandoned Monorail Station"
"Tropical Islands, Germany"
"Night Indoors"
"Dazzle Ships (Parts IV & V)"
"Sudden Loop"
"Dusk Accelerator"

MySpace | Bark and Hiss

Track of the Day …"Lion Face Boy" from Seabear


"Lion Face Boy"
We Built A Fire
2010 Morr Music

Listen to "Lion Face Boy" MP3

Released this month on Morr Music,
We Built A Fire is the fruit of the on-going evolution of Iceland's Seabear. The project originally began as a one-man endeavor of singer and multi-instrumentalist Sindri Már Sigfússon (a/k/a Sin Fang Bous : check out our review of his 2009 release Clangour). However, today Seabear has matured into a seven-member strong collective. "Lion Face Boy" is the first single from the band's second release and reflects the collective's beautiful take on melodic orchestrated indie-folk. Watch the video for another release from the album called "I'll Build You A Fire".

In conjunction with We Built A Fire, Seabear will be releasing When The Fire Dies, a six track EP highlighting the band's folkier balladry.

Be sure to catch Seabear at Mercury Lounge (NYC) on 25 March and at Point Ephémère (Paris) on 20 May. See here for a full list of concert dates.

Tracklisting of
We Built A Fire
"Lion Face Boy"
"Fire Dies Down"
"I'll Build You A Fire"
"Cold Summer"
"Wooden Teeth"
"We Fell Of The Roof"
"Warm Blood"
"In Winters Eyes"

Tracklisting of
While The Fire Dies
"Pocket Knife"
"Bright House"
"Singing Arc"
"Leafmask II"

Official | MySpace | Twitter | Morr Music

What's On The Hi-Fi...Emanuel & The Fear Album Review

Emanuel & The Fear
"Dear Friend"
Paper Garden Records (2010)

Listen to "Dear Friend" MP3

We couldn't say better things about this bridge locked band last year when for a week we did nothing but proselytize "Jimme's Song" as it was on the original EP. The Listen version is unrecognizable from the original. The EP version was a timely, smart and fresh take on modern rock. I miss that song! It's the one song from the EP that got seriously hurt.

For this full length, I love the prog-rock angle at first. The similarity to Maynard from Tool is so good it curls my toes sometimes but I didn't expect that so soon!

Now, I didn't think I would hear an album that would meet up to their EP potential until "Dear Friend." It's a McCartney type horn piece that really makes sense and shows life. There are also several passages of tunes that sound like the Rachel's and Emanuel's voice. It's a welcome mix of the group.

What makes this album really good beyond the first layers are the lyrics that the leader sings. It could be trite but it resonates. Forget the Debussy, Shumann and Brahm's salvos that are struck and relax into the sweetness of the songs and slip into your bar seat and go.

Emanuel & The Fear (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day …"Yours" from Gaspard Royant

Gaspard Royant

You Can Have Me (If You Want To) (EP)

Listen to "Yours" MP3

Gaspard Royant is a young Parisian artist whose first self-released EP You Can Have Me (If You Want To) was released last month. Gaspard's style is a mix of folk and pop, with the slightest hint of honky tonk-lite à la français. The EP's 5 tracks were honed on the road, Gaspard traveling with his guitar and playing across Europe and the US. It was actually during his travels in the US, perhaps in part drawn by a certain sense of romanticized adventure, where Gaspard decided to invest fully in his music. Gaspard writes in English, tackling in his songwriting the wild extremes of the human condition.

The track "Yours' is a wonderfully deceptively tender duet with singer-songwriter Marie-Flore. The EP also includes a favorite "Grow", a quietly confident and swaggering ballad.

Watch the video for "Yours" directed by Ben Berzenker : when a untroubled stroll in a snowy wood turns sinister


The Mary Onettes Share Five Tracks On Their Hi-Fi

Philip Ekström of The Mary Onettes shares with us five tracks which are now on his hi-fi. Click here or the image below for the complete list. Also, check out our review of the band's single "Puzzles" here.

What's On The Hi-Fi...Tunng Album Review

…And Then We Saw Land
"Don't Look Down or Back"
Full Time Hobby (2010)

Listen to “Don't Look Down or Back” MP3

Much of the writing on …And Then We Saw Land took place as it was actually recorded in east London's Play Studios. In the studio, the band was free to play and experiment with sounds and instrumentation, in particular with the studio's impressive collection of vintage synths and mics. The result is a decidedly bigger and more confident sound -- a sound which the band's remaining co-founder Mike Lindsay has said has been described as "Epic Folk Disco Brass Magnificent". Tunng succeed in moving their quirky, jaunty folk roots forward on this their fourth release, filling …And Then We Saw Land with joyous and sonically updated seafaring-themed singalongs. As Mike puts it, "[t]hese are songs about journeys and mini adventures and themes of discovery and enlightenment coming out of chaos…."

On this release, Mike collaborated with Ben Bickerton on songwriting duties and is joined by Becky Jacobs who provides warm supporting vocals. Mike also produced this album, as well as one of our favorite releases from last year, Speech Therapy from Speech Debelle.

Have a listen to "Don't Look Down Or Back" which features what the band calls The Mega Chorus -- a band of 15 collaborators and friends who got together and lent their talents to this album one rainy night in an old school hall. It is in this way that Mike wants …And Then We Saw Land to reflect the sound of the band's live shows, with the audience stepping in to take on the role of The Mega Chorus.

It Breaks
Don't Look Down Or Back
The Roadside
With Whiskey
By Dusk They Were In The City
These Winds
Weekend Away

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day…"Careful What You Say" from Class Actress

Class Actress
"Careful What You Say"
From Journal of Ardency (EP)
Terrible Records 2010

Listen to "Careful What You Say" MP3

A transplant to Brooklyn from California, Elizabeth Harper has shed her solo acoustic sound for full-throttle 80's retro-electro pop. In forming Class Actress, Elizabeth (a former drama major) hooked up with producers Scott Rosenthal and Mark Richardson, recording the debut EP Journal of Ardency in Elizabeth's apartment. The sound is a wonderful mix of vintage Dynasty-era synths and dance beats sampled from vinyl. There is a particular strength in the songwriting, each track wearing a preppy dark heart on its sleeve. The result is a collection of tracks which are, as Elizabeth puts it, for people to become obsessed with their lovers over -- the definition of pure stalker pop.

MySpace | Terrible Records

Track of the Day..."So Derobe" from Joy Orbison

Joy Orbison
"So Derobe"
From The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow
Aus Music 2010

Listen to “So Derobe” MP3

Joy Orbison (a/k/a producer Darren J. Cunningham) has outdone himself on this follow-up to 2009's massive, jet fuel on Xanax, "Hyph Mngo". Once known as “She Dressed the Best,” “So Derobe” is included on his new EP, The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow, and the sound just percolates inside your ears running the length of your spine and into your feet. It paints an evocative picture which expands his normally blissed out sound with the deep touch of latin tinged, percussive, finger snaps and Human League/Boyz II Men samples. The transition to the ambient part is unexpected, but it works well with the overall tone. A little bit of sonic-cine!

The track is smart and is such a genre mixer that it has been embraced by just about everyone out there. If we were forced against a speaker to make a comparison, the track sounds most like Alex Gopher with 21st century production -- but that is just musical hairsplitting. It's simply an amazing dance cut.

Check out video for "Hyph Mngo" here.

Joy Orbison(Official) | MySpace | Aus Music

What's On The Hi-Fi...Balmorhea Album Review


Western Vinyl 2010

Listen to “Bowsprit” MP3

Constellations is the impressive fourth album from Austin's Balmorhea, a group founded by Michael Muller and Rob Lowe (both songwriters and multi-instrumentalists). The album draws upon the imagery of a variety of sources such as Moby Dick (a work which itself contains various references to heavenly patterns), translating these influences into delicate and reflective instrumental compositions. Recorded in the fall and winter months, Constellations retains the seasonal quality of winding down and rest. The album was actually written prior to the release of the band's third release All Is Wild, All Is Silent (released in March 2009). After over a year of hibernation, Constellations is released this month on Western Vinyl.

Apart from the impressive calibre of their musicainship, Balmorhea stands apart through a confident melding of experimental classical influences (piano, strings, composition) with folk instrumentation (guitars, banjos, claps). Not altogether unlike Clogs or Rachel's, Balmorhea retains a unique American identity.

Constellations is an evocative album for the beauty to be found in the spaces around sounds, for the quiet vastness of the clearest of night skies.

Balmorhea will be touring North America throughout March with Efterklang and heading to Europe in April with Nils Frahm. Keep checking the band's official site for updated tour dates.

Constellations Tracklisting
To The Order Of Night
Winter Circle
Steerage And The Lamp
Night Squall
On The Weight Of Night

Official | Western Vinyl

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Liars

Listen to “Scissor” MP3

We had the chance to catch up with Liars' Angus Andrew on his recent trip to Paris for a quick chat about the upcoming release Sisterworld (to be released 8 March 2010 on Naïve).

Asked about what we can expect from the upcoming release, Angus explained that he and his band mates Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross are known for taking tangents, and that this album is no exception. Sisterworld forms a natural progression from the band's earlier work, arguably taking a darker path, and incorporating layers of orchestration for the first time.

In order to prepare for their earlier release Liars (2007), the band went back and immersed themselves in sounds that they liked as kids, bands such as OMD, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. However, this time around, the band looked closer to home. Angus explained that they looked to their current home of LA, with an eye to trying to understand how it works -- getting a view of the city's underside. A city, which Angus explained, has its share of rejected people. And if there is a theme which connects the songs on Sisterworld, it is about being uncomfortable in one's own place and looking for an escape -- what Angus calls a "Sisterworld".

In conjunction with Sisterworld, Liars have embarked on an ambitious project of including a remix / reinterpretation of each of the album's 11 original tracks. Angus explained that this project took on a life of its own, against a background where remixes tend to be stale and boring. The idea behind the project was to collaborate with artists who are not particularly known for doing remixes -- to invite these artists to reinterpret the tracks on Sisterworld. Angus admits to being a bit surprised at the warm reception of artists to the project -- all of whom are artists which the band admires and continues to enjoy (e.g., Thom Yorke, Melvins, Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio), Bradford Cox (Deerhunter / Atlas Sound) -- full tracklist below).

In the past, the band has spent stretches of time living and working in Berlin. Angus explains that he was attracted to Berlin since it provided a certain alienation, having moved there from NYC. In Berlin, Angus was removed from media sources and able to focus on creating music. At the same time, Berlin presented various difficulties - not knowing anyone or the language, a place where even buying a guitar string was a particular challenge. And now, the band is really enjoying LA. As Angus puts it, LA is like coming home and recording in your parent's bedroom.

As to the group's appeal, Angus believes that part of this attraction may relate to the band's integrity. For Angus, Liars are not about placating anyone - they are making music for themselves, regardless of what others might be saying.

Liars will be heading out on tour next month throughout the US and Europe. Check the group's official website for tour information here.

What's on Angus' Hi-Fi?

PJ Harvey, "My Beautiful Leah": A track which has been personally influential for Angus. There is a bass sound on this track which Angus has tried (and continues to try) to replicate.

Bauhaus, "All We Ever Wanted": A spooky classic.

Psychic TV, "Just Drifting": Angus loves the lyrical content, and, well, the weird sense of drifting.

OMD, "Waiting For The Man": This version gives the original Velvet Underground classic a new lease on life.

Blond Redhead: "In an Expression of the Inexpressionable": This is a track which Angus first came across before he started to make music. For him, this a track which makes one realize the possibilities of song craft, the idea that songs can be more of an idea -- providing the inspiration to think of possibilities.

Sisterworld - Reinterpretations Tracklist
Scissor - By Pink Dollaz, Lance Whitaker & Transformation Surprise
No Barrier Fun - By Duetonal (Alan Vega / Suicide)
Here Comes All The People - By Atlas Sound (Bradford Cox)
Drip - By Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead)
Scarecrows On A Killer Slant - By Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio)
I Still Can See An Outside World - By Boyd Rice (NON)
Proud Evolution - Thom Yorke 500qd Remix
Drop Dead - By Fol Chen
The Overachievers - By Devendra Banhart & The Grogs
Goodnight Everything - By Melvins
Too Much, Too Much - By Carter Tutti (Throbbing Gristle)

Liars (Official) | MySpace

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more.

Listen to "Podcast 8" MP3

Artist - Track Names
3) YEASAYER - "O.N.E."


Track of the Day..."Fold" from CLAPS


From (EP) New Science
Guilt Ridden Pop (2010)

Listen to "Fold" MP3

CLAPS is a minimal synth pop three-piece from Saint Paul, MN formed in April 2009. On "Fold", their first single from their debut EP New Science, the trio mixes some heart into the minimal electronic beats by way of lead singer Patrick Donohoe's plaintive delivery. Although they haven't been together as a group for very long, we expect great things in the future from this band.

New Science is available now on Guilt Ridden Pop.

MySpace | Guilt Ridden Pop

Track of the Day..."Marchin' In" from Lo-Fi-Fnk


"Marchin' In"
New album expected in 2010

Listen to "Marchin' In" MP3

Lo-Fi-Fnk are two young Swedes, Leo Drougge and August Hellsing, who make playful indie-pop dancefloor music. The two met in high school and formed the group back in 2001. In a complimentary division of labor, Leo is charged with songwriting, production, lead vocals, bass and percussion, while August focuses on production, mixing and keyboards.

The group's first full-length release Boylife was released in 2006, seeing the duo hit the road, headlining dates in Europe and opening for bands such as The Rapture, Hot Chip and Justice in the US. NME referred to the Boylife track "City" as conjuring images of Daft Punk tossing aside their helmets to reveal Bangalter and de Homem-Christo in a state of ecstasy. And in 2008, Kitunsé featured the track "Want U" on their Compilation 6.

Lo-Fi-Fnk are now working on their second album which is expected to be released later this year. A hint of the sound to come takes the form of the track "Marchin' In", a laidback call to youth with a snapping and piano chord driven melody, featuring the backing vocals of Maja Gödicke.

Watch the video for the track here -- however, don't be fooled by the languid images of sea life, there is danger in these waters.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day ..."Teenage Romance" from Bear in Heaven

Bear in Heaven

"Lovesick Teenagers"
From Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Hometapes / Dreamboat (2010)

Listen to "Lovesick Teenagers." MP3

Beast Rest Forth Mouth is the second release from this quartet made up of Jon Philpot, Adam Wills, Sadek Bazaraa and Joe Stickney. The album speaks to the points of the compass ("Beast Rest Forth Mouth" / "East West North South") and the inevitable pause of uncertainty at reaching a crossroads. All transplants to Brooklyn from the American South, Bear in Heaven create a distinctive sound wrapped in a rolling fog of kraut beats, treated vocals and synth washes. The second single "Lovesick Teenagers" is a darkly optimistic reminder that while the years seem to tick by with an unfaltering regularity, you never lose hold of that teenager that you once were.

Released in the US last year to a warm critical reception, Beast Rest Forth Mouth will be seeing its European release in April 2010 on Hometapes in association with Dreamboat Records. The band are now on the road with Cymbals Eat Guitars throughout in North America, interrupted by a stop at SXSW, and then off on their first European tour. Be sure to catch Bear in Heaven at Point Ephémère in Paris on 27 April, or in London at The Lexington on 20 April and at Windmill Brixton on 26 April.

The band will also be in Brooklyn on 18 February at Grasslands and again on 9 April at The Music Hall of Williamsburg with Cymbals Eat Guitars.

MySpace | Hometapes | Dreamboat

Track of the Day…"O.N.E." from Yeasayer

From Odd Blood
Mute / Naïve (2010)

Listen to "O.N.E." MP3

The Brooklyn trio are back this February with their second album Odd Blood. Giving a new twist to their experimentalism, Yeasayer have left behind the progressive world beat tip of the 2007 album All Hour Cymbals. On the new release, the band focuses their sights, embracing a more electronic and underground pop sound (inspired, in part, by 70's ambient electronica). Fret not, the blessed quirkiness remains. Give a listen to the warped Caribbean-beat inflected second single "O.N.E.".

Not shy of dropping trow and running through the dessert, Yeasayer have put together an otherworldly video for the first single "Ambling Alp".

Download "Ambling Alp" here.

Official | MySpace

Track of the Day…"Funny Symphony" from Ninca Leece

Ninca Leece

"Funny Symphony"
From There Is No One Else When I Lay Down and Dream
Bureau B / Tapete Records (2010)

Listen to "Funny Symphony" MP3

Ninca Leece's debut album, There Is No One Else When I Lay Down and Dream, is the distillation of her travels, playing clubs and festivals, writing soundtracks and various musical collaborations over the past few years. Having grown up in France, Ninca went on to study music production and vocals in Rotterdam and then to tour the globe as part of various projects. She has now relocated to Berlin, and the musical imprint of her adopted home on her brand of minimal electro, "glitch and synth pop" is undeniable.

In producing and arranging her album, Ninca plays with electro sounds and melody, mixing in layers of organic instrumentation and field recordings. As she explains, the result is a "collection of my experiments in sound and emotions -- lots of funny little things, broken hearted sounds and melodies. It's about glitchiness, quirkiness, sexiness".

Have a listen to "Funny Symphony" - Ninca's French and English vocals provide a looping melody, gently warming the chilly permafrost of electronic clicks and cuts.

Watch the video to the track "On Top of The World".

Official | MySpace | Bureau B | Tapete Records

Track of the Day…"Spirited" from Laura Gibson

Laura Gibson
From Beasts of Seasons
Hush Records (2009)

Listen to "Spirited" MP3

Before we speed too far into 2010, we wanted to take a quick look back at the year that has been and see if there were any gems which we may have overlooked. Beasts of Seasons from Laura Gibson is just one of those albums which we regret not having discovered sooner.

As the title suggests, "Spirited" is a track which speaks to grabbing at a moment before it slips away. For this track, Laura was inspired by summer nights spent with friends around the dappled light of a fading fire, smoldering away in a rusty old washtub. Indeed. A beautiful track, from a wonderfully reflective album.

Listen to Laura Gibson's session with Daytrotter from last December (includes additional tracks such as "Funeral Song" (a favorite), "Glory" and "O Frailty").

MySpace | Hush Records

Track of the Day..."Bright Red Cords" from Loomis & The Lust

Loomis & The Lust
"Bright Red Cords"
From (EP) Nagasha
Kings of Spain (2009)

Listen to "Bright Red Chords" MP3

Formed in 2008, Santa Barbara rockers Loomis & the Lust spin an infectious, groove filled coat of forgotten early 80's styled R&B rock (think Tommy Tutone or The Greg Kihn Band). On "Bright Red Chords", the band provide a jolt of needed rock and roll good times into the overly indulgent landscape of Gaga-era glam ram. We are looking for big things from this band as they have already garnered spots as a selection for Urban Outfitters, MTV and are working with hot producer Brandon Mason.

Watch the video for "Bright Red Chords".

MySpace | Official | Twitter

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

While you listen to the podcast click here or on the image above to go to our podcast artist gallery to find out descriptions, links and more.

Listen to "Podcast 7" MP3

Artist - Track Names
1) Beach House - "Norway"
2) Real Estate - "Beach Comber"
3) Museum of Bella Artes - "Who Do You Love"
4) Owen Pallett - "Lewis Takes Actions"
5) Banjo Or Freakout - "Leave It Alone"
6) The Mary Onettes - "Puzzles"
7) Ramona Falls - "Bellyfulla"
8) Fear of Tigers - "Sirkka"
9) Warpaint - "Krimson"
10) The Ruby Suns - "Cranberry"


What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Beach House

Baltimore, Maryland indie rock group Beach House has lived a charmed existence. For singer/organist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, it is a much-deserved success.

After just one year of playing together, the duo’s first single “Apple Orchard” caught fire when they were included on Pitchfork’s Infinite Mixtape in August 2006, and their subsequent full-length release Beach House garnered enthusiastic praise from alternative music fans and media alike.

When their second album Devotion was released in February of 2008 on Sub Pop Records, Beach House grew in popularity and acclaim, but more importantly, the band made new strides in their song development adding more expansive organ material and guitar.

Now with the release of their third album, Teen Dream, the group seems poised to breakout onto a new playing field and are even toying with a subtle pop sound on their fantastic new single “Norway”.

Victoria Legrand spoke to the Hi-Fi about Beach House’s upcoming release Teen Dream (released on January 26th), Baltimore and her love of Bobs.

Listen to "Norway" MP3

Victoria Legrand spoke to the Hi-Fi about Beach House’s upcoming release on January 26th, Baltimore and her love of Bobs.

How has the sound on Teen Dream developed from your first album Beach House and your second effort Devotion?
V: Beach House self-titled was recorded in two days and Devotion was recorded in little under three weeks. We had a lot more time to concentrate for Teen Dream. Devotion was written in gaps between tours; Teen Dream was written almost entirely once we had ended touring for 2009. The energy and the conviction behind Teen Dream reminds me alot of the feelings we had while writing the first Beach House record. I'd say Teen Dream has more of a hi-fi sound than the previous records.

Could you tell us about your single “Norway”? What is the song about? We noticed the lyric “in the season of the sun”. Is that a reference to Jacques Brel’s “Le Moribund” (also a 1974 hit by Terry Jacks)?
V: "NORWAY" is a song we started writing in Norway. It's probably the pop-iest perhaps. A lot of the visuals in the song are inspired by the landscapes of the country but then I abstracted them of course. To me it's a song of fantasy and longing. There is an icy imaginative quality to it. I didn't know the Jacques Brel reference, oh la la.

We predicted Baltimore would be a place to watch in 2010. Wye Oak, Ponytail, Animal Collective, Yeasayers and yourselves are just a few of the marquee indie groups to come out of the “charm city”. What’s going on in Baltimore? Is there a scene going on there that people are missing out on?
V: There are alot of bands in Baltimore and there are some bands that say they're from Baltimore but they don't live there anymore. It's a very supportive community, laid back and free. For how small the music community is, there is a really healthy variety of stuff. I don't think people are missing out on the scene in Baltimore because it's always going to be there. That's because there are no threats to the quality and purity of the energy going on in the community. Baltimore isn't a flashy destination for hordes of people to move to so I think and hope the community will retain its sincerity and innocence.

You are going to visit Paris on your 2010 tour. (Victoria lived in Paris before the band got started) Is there anything particular you look forward to when you play the city of lights? How are the fans different from the UK and the US?
V: I just love being in Paris. It always feels surreal to me because of how beautiful it is. I did live there before I moved to Baltimore. Someone once said that in the US, you can get alot of fans quickly but then they'll drop you and that in Europe, it takes a while to get fans but when you do, they last forever. I don't think that's true for us. I feel our US fans are wonderful and energetic and we're really just starting to uncover the wonders of European fans.

If push came to shove, how would you describe one another?
V: I don't know. I guess he's a push, and I'm a shove.

What’s on your hi-fi at the moment?
V: Bob Marley's "Reggae on Broadway" and Bob Dylan's "Day of the Locusts". I'm just Bob-crazy.

Official | MySpace | Subpop Records | Bella Union

What's On The Hi-Fi...Delphic Album Review


Polydor (2010)

Delphic have been on the receiving end of heaps of rather excited hype over the past few months, setting the bar rather high for the Mancunians' debut release Acolyte. What a welcome relief to see that there is more than just a flustered little man tugging at random levers behind a curtain (sorry for the analogy -- Christmas season TV to blame).

The band originally formed to energize the local music scene, melding indie guitar riffs with 90's dance / electronica, creating an energetic and intoxicating smash-up. Looking no further than the inevitable and numerous New Order comparisons would do a serious disservice to the band -- Acolyte stands on its own and provides a refreshing and forward looking kick off to 2010.

Acolyte includes two tracks which were released last year including the driving standout "Counterpoint" (April 2009 on the Belgian label R&S) and the swelling "This Momentary" (August 2009 on Kitsuné). The third radio-ready single "Doubt" (video from Later with Jools Holland) was released earlier this month (and for which there is already a flood of remixes). One of our favorites is the infectious "Red Lights", a track which could fit neatly into the catalog of Swedish label Service. "Clarion Call" provides a building staccato intro to the album, and tracks like "Remain" provide a nod to chilly electro-pop, while tracks like "Submission" and "Halcyon" follow a more guitar-heavy tip.

Ewan Pearson (Tracey Thorn, M83, The Rapture) has leant his production talents to Acolyte.

The band which has in the past supported acts such as Orbital, (to whom the band points as an influence) Bloc Party and Kasabian, is now moving into the limelight and heading out on a water-testing tour through Europe. They put on an excellent live show and one not to be missed. Check them out at Nouveau Casino (Paris) on 16 February. A full list of shows is available on the band's website.


Track of the Day..."Beach Comber" from Real Estate

Real Estate
"Beach Comber"
From Real Estate
Woodsist Records (2010)

Listen to "Beach Comber" MP3

In the midst of this icy cold winter we thought we would give you a little peak through the snow to the summer ahead. New Jersey quartet Real Estate serve up smooth, chiming, staccato guitars that are reminiscent of the sun soaked sounds of West Coast surf pop of years past. On "Beach Combers" the group finds a welcome balance of psychedelia and heartfelt harmony that will make you get out that swimsuit and dance around in your apartment as the snowflakes peer in the window from outside. Warning: Avoid mirrors if dancing in your trunks or bikini…at least until you get tan.

MySpace | Woodsist Records

Track of the Day …"Who Do You Love" from Museum of Bella Artes

Museum of Bella Artes
"Who Do You Love"
Force Majeure (2009)

Listen to "Who Do You Love" MP3

With friends moving abroad and Stockholm feeling emptier, friends Leo, Alice and Joanna got together to form a music project called Museum of Bella Artes (after the site in Valencia). As an initial target, the group set their sights on updating the 1964 hit "Who Do You Love" from Philadelphia's The Sapphires. The result moves away from the classic Motown sound of the original and re-imagines the track with a simple crunchy electro beat accompanied by dreamy and naively catchy vocals, seemingly betraying the anguish of the lyrics.

Look for Museum of Bella Artes to release new material with Force Majeure (also home to Bandjo and Nhessingtons) later this year. We will post release dates when available.


MySpace | Force Majeure

What's On The Hi-Fi...Owen Pallett Album Review

Owen Pallett
Domino Records (2010)

Listen to "Lewis Takes Action" MP3

In a time when new releases often seem to focus on a single track or two, it is refreshing to come across a release which is conceived as a singular whole. Heartland from Owen Pallett (formerly Final Fantasy) is just such a release, featuring storytelling on a wonderfully off-kilter and cinematic scale. On his third release, the Ontario native tells the tale of a young and violent farmer and explores the universal phases of relationships, from the initial flutters of excitement to a disappointing end (and regardless of the cause, an end which seems to leave you a little winded and blinking into the sun).

On Heartland, Owen looked to such diverse sources of inspiration as 19th century military music to various synth-pop of the 70's, ducking among them on this release with the collaborative help of drummer Jeremy Gara of Arcade Fire and mixer Rusty Santos (who worked on Panda Bear's Person Pitch). And no stranger to composing modern string arrangements (including for Beirut's The Flying Cup and Arcade Fire's Neon Bible), on this release, this multi-instrumentalist continues his exploration of layers and the parameters of orchestration (provided by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra).

Spend some time with this release, and you won't be disappointed.

Be sure to catch Owen's excellent live shows, including in Paris at La Maroquinerie on 24 January (we will be there)!

Official | Twitter | Domino Records

Track of the Day …"Left It Alone" from Banjo or Freakout

Banjo or Freakout

"Left It Alone"
Half Machine (2009)

Listen to "Left It Alone" MP3

Banjo or Freakout is the moniker of Allessio Natalizia, an Italian "bedroom artist" now living in London. Allessio creates sample-heavy, shoe-gazing tracks, each carefully wrapped in a downy cocoon. Check out the dreamy guitar wash and lyrics of déjà vu on "Let It Alone", out now on a 7" (transparent vinyl) with the track "Breathe Out".

Watch "Left It Alone" here.

Allessio is also behind some excellent remixes including "All of the King's Men" from Wild Beasts (accompanied by an intriguing video of vintage performance art clips here).

Free Banjo or Freakout downloads are available at Hush Records.

Also, if you still have a bit of the holiday spirit left in you, check out the free download from Allessio of his recordings of some Christmas classics here.

Official | MySpace | Twitter: banjoorfreakout

Track of the Day..."Puzzles" from The Mary Onettes

The Mary Onettes

From Islands
Labrador (2009)

Listen to "Puzzles" MP3

The Mary Onettes are an indie rock band formed in the town of Jönköping, Sweden in 2000. After some unfortunate major label dealings, the group eventually landed squarely on their feet with November’s release of Island on Labrador Records. The sound is reminiscent of early Echo and the Bunnymen and demonstrates the integral swell and abandon to innocence present in 80’s British pop music. This heartfelt, romantic sound is most evident on the tracks “Puzzles” and “Dare” both of which glisten with Cure-like guitar riffs and synth hooks. Get out the eyeliner and your creepers and enjoy.

The Mary Onettes | MySpace

Track of the Day….."Bellyfulla" from Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls
From Intuit
Barsuk Records (2009)

Listen to "Bellyfulla" MP3

Ramona Falls is the solo project of Brent Knopf, also of the Portland trio Menomena. In creating the project, Knopf looked to the inspiration of one of his favorite Oregon hiking trails, a place which is at once a refuge and a space to come together. In this vein, Knopf explored working with over 30 guest artists over the span of the 11 diverse tracks which make up his debut Intuit.

Knopf's songs are at their most powerful when they are at their most simple, allowing the melodies and the lyrics to ease into being. In this way, the penultimate track "Bellyfulla" builds with a reserved and plucky urgency, clearing the way for Knopf's lyrics, eventually leaving the author blissfully overwhelmed by "more happiness than a body can hold".

MySpace | Barsuk Records

Track of the Day…"Sirkka" from Fear of Tigers

Fear of Tigers
From Cossus Snufsigalonica
Self-released (2009)

Listen to "Sirkka" MP3

Fear of Tigers is the moniker of Ben Berry who has a knack for crafting layered compositions from a wonderful mishmash of retro inspired electronica. Mr. Berry (born and raised in Kobe, Japan and now living in Greenwich, England) seems to approach songs like multi-pronged arrangements, with attention given to the minutiae of the overall soundscape. The track "Sirkka" sums up the Fear of Tigers' sound nicely. On this track, the sounds of rain and thunderclaps lead us in over hooky synths and a dipping beat, cue the waka waka guitars, side step to early anthem rave, and then the staccato strings, and back again…. Hats off to Fear of Tigers for these 10 blissfully upbeat and cynicism-free tracks.

…and Happy Holidays! Fear of Tigers is making the debut release Cossus Snufsigalonica downloadable for free at here.

And, thanks to the Valerie Collective for putting us on to this!


Track of the Day…"Krimson" from Warpaint

From Exquisite Corpse
Manimal Vinyl Records (2009)

Listen to "Krimson" MP3

Warpaint is a quartet formed 5 years ago (on Valentines Day no less) by LA (Echo Park) transplants and childhood friends Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocals). M Quinn (from the group Corridor) was recently added as the group's latest drummer and multi-instrumentalist. Earlier this year, the group self-released their debut Exquisite Corpse, an EP which proudly made its way to the top of Amoeba Records' local artist's chart. Lucky for us, Exquisite Corpse has been re-released on Manimal Vinyl Records.

This re-release includes the excellent tracks "Billie Holiday", "Elephants" and "Stars" from the original release, as well as a new track called "Krimson". On this track, a post-punk beat emerges from a blurry guitar loop, sliced by distantly raw vocals, all building to a wonderful trailing psychedelic blur.

Catch Warpaint touring the US with Akron / Family this coming February and March. Also, look for the band's new release and appearance at SXSW, both in 2010.

MySpace | Manimal Vinyl

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

Listen to “What's On The Hi-Fi Ep. #6” MP3

"Blessa" - Toro y Moi
Toro y Moi is the solo project of The Heist and The Accomplice lead singer Chaz Bundick. “Blessa”, off his album Causers of This, is a unique sound that has elements of TV On The Radio, MGMT and crate robbers like Blockhead and R2DJ, but takes its own path. There is a psychedelic vibe behind the track like the best of Animal Collective and doesn’t run off the rails like many of his psych-pop contemporaries. What sets the track apart is the sexy yet maudlin station it orbits above.
Toro y Moi (Official) | MySpace

"Everybody Knows It's Gonna Happen Only Not Tonight" - The Go Find
Morr Music artist and Belgian native The Go Find aka Dieter Sermeus provides a smooth, sweet and upbeat track that will make you kick your feet up and love life.
The Go Find | MySpace

"Golden Chain" - Lake Heartbeat
Trust in Numbers is the debut release from Swedes Lake Heartbeat. The Gothenburg-based duo is made up of Janne Kask (formerly of Brainpool) on vocals and Kalla Kåks on guitar / bass. Put out by Service (home of bands such as The Embassy, The Tough Alliance and Jens Lekman), Trust in Numbers glows with hooks and bright, romantic pop. The album is produced by Dan Lissivik of other projects such as Studio and Fontän (listen to "Early Morning" from Fontän). "Golden Chain" is our favorite track from the album, with its modern and sun bleached take on 60's guitar-pop, providing a welcome escape from a shortening of days and the nearing stretch of winter.
Lake Heartbeat (Official) | MySpace | Service

"I Felt Stupid" - The Drums
With "I Felt Stupid" from The Drums you can hold onto the increasingly fading memory of the dog days of summer. The Brooklyn duo (and Florida natives) delve into their New Wave influences and create a track which bops along on synths, Cure guitars and unabashedly shiny melodies. Lyrics of lost love mingle with talk of treks to the Eden that is the beach, where life seems slightly less complicated and "where we can finally be free". Grab the towels and lets go.
The Drums (Official) | MySpace | TwentySeven Records (MySpace)

"May You Never" - Land of Talk
Montreal's Land of Talk is back with a follow-up to the excellent 2008 release Some Are Lakes (produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon). The group, led by frontwoman Lizzie Powell (also part of the Broken Social Scene caravan) who is rebounding from vocal chord ailments earlier this year, has released the excellent EP entitled Fun and Laughter on the Omaha, Nebraska-based Saddle Creek Records. The EP includes 4 new tracks like the guitar driven change-up "May You Never", as well as videos for earlier releases, including the woozy standout "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)". Look for a new full-length from the band in 2010.
Land of Talk (Official) | MySpace | Saddle Creek

"Queen Kong" - Last Man Standing
Part glam era Bowie and part classic Pretenders, this track is all cool, tough jungle strut. Learn what festival goers all over the UK have known for several years: Last Man Standing is a force!
Last Man Standing | MySpace

“Scissor” - Liars
After traveling on a musical odyssey through the realms of a Jesus and Mary Chain and Pere Ubu post-punk revivalism, a Nitzer Ebb, industrial pit-stop and a formless, cinematic sound collage period, Liars - Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross – seemed to have found their sound. “Scissor” is the first track from their upcoming album Sisterworld. The song retains an ominous and bleak residue from their earlier work but takes that previously scattered, confusing group of sounds and reveals a rich, evocative and succinct cry that is filled with wraithlike harmonies and vocals. When the “Scissor” bursts with brutal intensity you know the members of Liars have arrived. And they are going to be welcome on our hi-fi for a while to come.
Liars (Official) | MySpace

“Rollerskate” - Matias Aguayo
Dust ‘em off, lace ‘em up and hit the rink. It’s time for couples skate at the roller disco. With Ay Ay Ay, Matias Aguayo (formelly of Closer Music) departs from his more established electronic style and explores a full-on world of left-of-center songcraft riddled with layers of wild vocal effect buckshot. Matias is at his most playful on tracks such as “Rollerskate”, one of the release’s most light hearted and unapologetically fun highlights.
Facebook | MySpace | Kompact

"War Bells" - Royal Bangs
Royal Bangs hail from Knoxville, Tennessee and with their sophomore release Let It Beep, deliver a gunning mix of 70's guitar rock tinged with just enough vintage electro wonkiness. To help put this sound in perspective (or not as the case may be), the band cite such far ranging influences from Bruce Springsteen to the soundtrack of Blade Runner. Let It Beep kicks off with the excellent track "War Bells", and the joyride continues for another 11 refreshing tracks.
Royal Bangs (Official) | MySpace | Twitter: royalbangs | Audio Eagle Records

"Darlin Dear" - Little Fish
Singer songwriter JuJu Sophie creates a heartfelt, strong and passionate song that reminds you of the best of PJ Harvey or Patti Smith. This Oxford lady is fierce and one to watch.
Little Fish | MySpace


Track of the Day…"Time Machine / Submarine" from Shelly Short

Shelley Short
"Time Machine / Submarine"
From A Cave, A Canoo
Hush Records (2009)

Listen to "Time Machine / Submarine" MP3

Shelley Short's excellent third release A Cave, A Canoo came to life over the span of a year, recorded over the winter months and slowly evolving in its own time as each track began to take on its own form, whether over a matter of weeks or recorded on the first take in the wee hours. The Portland native draws upon her upbringing, growing up around music. "It was like growing up in a time machine; in some ways we lived like in 1876, chopping wood, growing our own food, wearing old clothes in a Victorian home and singing our own songs. Other times it seemed like we were living in 1955, driving around Cadillacs and Studebakers and listening to Jonny Ray and The Flamingos. And yet it all felt like growing up in a blurring movie made in 1963."

On the track "Time Machine / Submarine", Shelley welcomes you in from the cold, stoking a warm closeness with her delicate vocals and the sounds of an organ and guitars, all as if sung to a hushed beat coming from somewhere across the frozen fields.


Shelley Short (Official) | MySpace | Hush Records

Track of the Day...”Scissor” from Liars

From upcoming album Sisterworld
Mute (2010)

Listen to “Scissor” MP3

After traveling on a musical odyssey through the realms of a Jesus and Mary Chain and Pere Ubu post-punk revivalism, a Nitzer Ebb, industrial pit-stop and a formless, cinematic sound collage period, Liars - Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross – seemed to have found their sound.

“Scissor” is the first track from their upcoming album Sisterworld. The song retains an ominous and bleak residue from their earlier work but takes that previously scattered, confusing group of sounds and reveals a rich, evocative and succinct cry that is filled with wraithlike harmonies and vocals. When the “Scissor” bursts with brutal intensity you know the members of Liars have arrived. And they are going to be welcome on our hi-fi for a while to come.

Liars (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day...”Rollerskate” from Matias Aguayo

Matias Aguayo
From Ay Ay Ay
Kompakt (2009)

Listen to “Rollerskate” MP3

Dust ‘em off, lace ‘em up and hit the rink. It’s time for couples skate at the roller disco.

With Ay Ay Ay, Matias Aguayo (formelly of Closer Music) departs from his more established electronic style and explores a full-on world of left-of-center songcraft riddled with layers of wild vocal effect buckshot.

Ay Ay Ay is a truly intriguing mix from this Chilean born musician who currently splits his time between Buenos Aires and Paris making music and djing. Matias is at his most playful on tracks such as “Rollerskate”, one of the release’s most light hearted and unapologetically fun highlights.

Facebook | MySpace | Kompact

Track of the Day…"War Bells" from Royal Bangs

Royal Bangs
"War Bells"
From Let It Beep (2009)
Audio Eagle Records (US) / City Slang (Europe)

Listen to "War Bells" MP3

Royal Bangs hail from Knoxville, Tennessee and with their sophomore release Let It Beep, deliver a gunning mix of 70's guitar rock tinged with just enough vintage electro wonkiness. To help put this sound in perspective (or not as the case may be), the band cite such far ranging influences from Bruce Springsteen to the soundtrack of Blade Runner. Let It Beep kicks off with the excellent track "War Bells", and the joyride continues for another 11 refreshing tracks.

Check out a live session (from January 2009) from Royal Bangs on Daytrotter here.

Royal Bangs (Official) | MySpace | Twitter: royalbangs | Audio Eagle Records

Track of the Day..."I Felt Stupid" from The Drums

The Drums
"I Felt Stupid"
From Summertime!
TwentySeven Records (2009)

Listen to "I Felt Stupid" MP3

With "I Felt Stupid" from The Drums you can hold onto the increasingly fading memory of the dog days of summer. The Brooklyn duo (and Florida natives) delve into their New Wave influences and create a track which bops along on synths, Cure guitars and unabashedly shiny melodies. Lyrics of lost love mingle with talk of treks to the Eden that is the beach, where life seems slightly less complicated and "where we can finally be free". Grab the towels and lets go.

Check out the EP Summertime! From The Drums, out now on TwentySeven Records. Various UK dates for The Drums are scheduled throughout the UK in February 2010.

The Drums (Official) | MySpace | TwentySeven Records (MySpace)

Track of the Day… "100 doLLa biLL" from Monica Rush

Monica Rush
"100 doLLa biLL"
From (To Be Released Album)
Self-Released 2009

Listen to "100 doLLa biLL" MP3

A young veteran of the New York music scene, Indian-American Monica Rush is a prolific songwriter including the demo of “Bad Girl” for Brittany Spears. Her single, "100 doLLa biLL", takes a tongue in cheek spin on the playgirl being played for her cash.

The single provides a colorful mix of electronic, glam, funk, pop, and hipster-hop. Look for more from Monica Rush on her on her new album slated to drop soon.

Her video for “100 doLLa biLL”, directed by Chadd Harbold, is a cool, colorful, graphic art and lyrics driven piece that will get you moving and grinning. Video

Monica Rush (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day… "May You Never" from Land of Talk

Land of Talk
"May You Never"
From Fun and Laughter EP
Saddle Creek (2009)

Listen to "May You Never" MP3

Montreal's Land of Talk is back with a follow-up to the excellent 2008 release Some Are Lakes (produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon). The group, led by frontwoman Lizzie Powell (also part of the Broken Social Scene caravan) who is rebounding from vocal chord ailments earlier this year, has released the excellent EP entitled Fun and Laughter on the Omaha, Nebraska-based Saddle Creek Records. The EP includes 4 new tracks like the guitar driven change-up "May You Never", as well as videos for earlier releases, including the woozy standout "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)". Look for a new full-length from the band in 2010.

Land of Talk (Official) | MySpace | Saddle Creek

Track of the Day… "Golden Chain" from Lake Heartbeat

Lake Heartbeat
"Golden Chain"
From Trust in Numbers
Service (2009)

Listen to "Golden Chain" MP3

Trust in Numbers is the debut release from Swedes Lake Heartbeat. The Gothenburg-based duo is made up of Janne Kask (formerly of Brainpool) on vocals and Kalla Kåks on guitar / bass. Put out by Service (home of bands such as The Embassy, The Tough Alliance and Jens Lekman), Trust in Numbers glows with hooks and bright, romantic pop. The album is produced by Dan Lissivik of other projects such as Studio and Fontän (listen to "Early Morning" from Fontän).

"Golden Chain" is our favorite track from the album, with its modern and sun bleached take on 60's guitar-pop, providing a welcome escape from a shortening of days and the nearing stretch of winter.

Lake Heartbeat (Official) | MySpace | Service

Track of the Day..."Blessa" from Toro y Moi

Toro y Moi
From Causers of This
Car Park Records (2009)

Listen to "Blessa" MP3

Toro y Moi is the solo project of The Heist and The Accomplice lead singer Chaz Bundick. “Blessa”, off his album Causers of This, is a unique sound that has elements of TV On The Radio, MGMT and crate robbers like Blockhead and R2DJ, but takes its own path. There is a psychedelic vibe behind the track like the best of Animal Collective and doesn’t run off the rails like many of his psych-pop contemporaries. What sets the track apart is the sexy yet maudlin station it orbits above.

Toro y Moi (Official) | MySpace

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

Listen to "What's On The Hi-Fi Ep. 5” MP3

"Good Morning" - Bikini Machine
France's Bikini Machine (whose name is taken from the B-movie Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine) thrive on inspiration from the sounds of 50's / 60's subculture - coupling vintage guitars and melodies with modern rock and electro sounds. The imprint of Jon Spencer as producer and mixer on "Good Morning" is undeniable - playing here with many of his hallmark sounds.

"Early Morning" – Fontän
Welcome to the sound of kraut-pop revisited. Fontän's "Early Morning" is an epic trek through retro electro sounds, treated token vocals and wailing electric guitars tumbling over 80's synth beats. The duo of Jesper Jarold and Johan Melin hail from the (unlikely) burgeoning musical hotbed that is Gothenburg in southern Sweden.
Official | MySpace | Information Records

"100 doLLa biLL" - Monica Rush
A young veteran of the New York music scene, Indian-American Monica Rush is a prolific songwriter including the demo of “Bad Girl” for Brittany Spears. Her single, "100 doLLa biLL", takes a tongue in cheek spin on the playgirl being played for her cash.
Monica Rush (Official) | MySpace

"Better Days" - Speech Debelle
Speech Debelle has come to the forefront this year with her win of the 2009 Barclycard Mercury Prize for her debut album Speech Therepy. Inspired by the likes of Ms. Dynamite (Mercury Prize winner in 2002), the 26-year-old South Londoner approached her label Big Dada back in 2005 looking to make a "hip hop version of Tracy Chapman". While far from the original brief, what results is a very different type of rap album.
Speech Debelle (Official) | MySpace

"Long Way From Home" - Stephen Luke
Childhood troubles caused Stephen Luke to have a falling out with his drum kit at the tender age of 17, which happily landed him in the arms of the guitar – for a time.

After losing his musical way, he had a few injuries that brought him back to the guitar and the music he loved. On “Long Way From Home” , Luke draws on his experiences to craft a deft song that reminds one of Chris Whitley with a polished and consuming production.
Stephen Luke (Official) | MySpace

" Oh No" - Kaiser Cartel
The Brooklyn based duo of Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel got together in the summer of 2004 and have been touring their world ever since. There is an edgy, out of tune sound to “Oh No” that reminds one of the first time you heard Alice In Chain’s Sap EP. The modern twist is Courtney’s loose wailing of the title.

"Dragon" - The Amazing
The Amazing have crafted a well-balanced, sweetly melodic and soulful album with their self-titled freshman effort. It’s overflowing with languid, intimate songs that could best be compared to the dreamier slow jams of The Allman Brother’s Eat A Peach, the subtle ethereal synths of 10CC and the organic guitaring and vocals of Fleet Foxes.
The Amazing (Official) | MySpace

"Can we Stay" – The Woodlands
There is a touching intimacy to the track "Can We Stay" that can only be attributed to a wonderful love affair. Portland, OR natives The Woodlands are just that. The husband and wife duo (Hannah & Samuel Robertson) have created a lush and evocative song that calls out from a warm and gentle place of yearning and deep need. Hannah Robertson's voice is a light that peers through a world of emotion and wonder. They are definitely a duo to watch.

"Falleg Depurd" - Blindfold
Blindfold are an Icelandic quartet now living in London, creating watery and muslin wrapped indie-pop. The group cites Radiohead and Sigur Rós as influences, while the more pop oriented strains of Coldplay and Keane are not far off the mark. One of the standout tracks from the group's second release Faking Dreams is "Falleg Depurd", a tender lament which gently builds, only then to quietly slip away. This track highlights the vocal and writing style of the group's frontman, founder and composer Biggi Hilmarsson. Blindfold also has an uncanny ability to translate their sound live, retaining the melting richness of their cinematic sound.
MySpace | CinePop Records

"Snow" - Lisa Germano
After a hiatus, Lisa Germano is back with her new release Magic Neighbor on Young God Records. Much has been said about her confessional and intimate style of song writing. The track "Snow" from the new release continues in this vein, building on Lisa's impressive solo catalog which spans almost two decades. With this track, as well as many of Lisa's songs, there is a unifying sense of comforting and appeasement, from wherever it may come. With Magic Neighbor, Lisa continues to prove herself to be a powerful artist, unwavering in her devotion to pursuing her singular vision.
Lisa Germano Official | Young God Records

"Low Files Tropical" - Get Back Guinozzi
Get Back Guinozzi is a London / Toulouse -based quintet headed by friends Eglantine Gouzy and Fred Landini. The group thrives on a pick 'n' mix of influences from reggae, dub African, Tropicalia with a hefty dose of summery pop. One of the highlights from the group's debut album Carpet Madness is the infectious single "Low Files Tropical" - a breezy groove which highlights the wonderfully warm childlike vocals of Ms. Gouzy (you can check out her solo work here). Also, check out Get Back Guinozzi's take on the Junior Murvin song "Police and Thieves" (a free download of the track is available on the FatCat Records site).

"Levi Blues" - Dala
High school BFF’s Amanda and Sheila of Dala have created a sound on “Levi Blues” that in any other hand’s would be too saccharine sweet for normal consumption. It’s the type of song that smiles a step before you do but always looks back and waits.
Dala (Official) | MySpace


What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with David Grellier of College and founder of the Valerie Collective

Hands down, the Valerie Collective is responsible for some of the very best original electronic music now coming out of France. And no, these sound are not coming from Paris as you might expect, but from further afield in Nantes in western France.

After starting his own brilliant musical project College in 2005, David Grellier went on to found Valerie (a name which resounded with David from the 80's). David created Valerie as a way to foster musical talent, by providing opportunities for collaboration and taking advantage of the Internet and blogs. The Collective is now home to artists such as Minitel Rose (a reference to adult services/sites provided on the French precurser to the World Wide Wide), Anoraak (responsible for the excellent track "Nightdrive With You"), English producer Russ Chimes, The Outrunners and Maethelvin. These artists share a common retro-futurist thread that is the hallmark of the Collective, bucking the French musical mainstream and seducing us with their romantic blend of 80's inspired electro.

We are excited to share with you an exclusive and yet unreleased College track "Blue Camera" (also, watch for it on our next podcast).

Listen to "Blue Camera" from College MP3

David spoke with What's On the Hi-Fi about the origins for the Collective, its influences and identity, the Paris-centric music scene and those artists which inspire him.

(Answers translated from the French)

Could you tell us about the philosophy and your inspiration for creating College and the Valerie Collective?
College was created in 2005 - I wanted to synthesize into my music the emotions of my childhood. During this period, I discovered the amazing opportunities offered by blogs, an excellent means by which to extend my universe and to share my visual and musical references, and thus, Valerie was born in 2007.

Is there a particular sound or outlook which unifies each of the artists of the Collective?
I think that today there are various groups of projects within the Collective. The Outrunners, College and Maethelvin, for example, represent a more instrumental branch. The Collective exists to stimulate creativity and to help artists present their projects. In addition, with New York Collective member Freedanger, we have produced a new 7" with the participation of Stephen Falken (member of the Outrunners) and Maethelvin (available at the Valerie on-line store:).

American 80's pop-culture references seem to run throughout the Collective. What are some of the most significant influences of the Collective and its artists?
Maybe to be more precise, we would ideally need to ask each project since the references are so varied. As for me, College is primarily influenced by 80's soaps and an aesthetic which I particularly like: color, images, silvery films and the sun - images of Los Angeles, Chicago and all of the other cities that I discovered through my television and which continue to fascinate me.

How did you decide upon the graphic feel for the Collective's identity?
I believe enormously in artistic collaborations which are facilitated today by various media such as MySpace and blogs. Thanks to this amazing development, I was able to contact The Zonders who have created a number of our album covers to date. Beyond this working relationship, a real passionate relationship (which is essential for me) has developed and that is what guarantees our creativity.

Do you feel that the French music scene is particularly Paris-centric? If so, are you affected by this?
There is certainly an artistic and media "microcosm' in Paris, but all of that doesn't really interest me, and its rather sterile from a creative point of view. The internet has exploded this little word and allowed underground projects to emerge and given a wider audience access to music, and that is very good thing!

Do you see any particular differences in the way that your music is received abroad?
We have a particular resonance in the U.S., and that means a lot to me.

What artist (apart from those of the Collective, of course), do you see creating particularly inspiring work which genuinely excites you?
I have had the chance to play with The Hasbeens and Alden Tyrell in Holland, and I must say that this is the live performance that has most impressed me - for its beauty as well as its melodic power - a rare moment … marvelous!

What artist would you love to see join the Collective at a Valerie Party?
The Hasbeens, Alden Tyrell.

What can we expect next from the Collective?
Beautiful productions, and perhaps, for some, a coming together with the world of film, and as always, the blog which is at the center of our artistic compositions. I also hope to still produce releases as my finances allow and highlight talented artists like Stephen Falken and The Outrunners.

What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
"You and Me" - The Hasbeens (for all of the reasons above)

"Cruising" - Stephen Falken (if a track could sum-up the spirit of the Valerie collective, this would be it)

"Hound Dog" - Elvis (because on Sunday, listen to Elvis. It's perfect.)

"Silent Running" - Joan Baez (I recently discovered the film, and love the slightly hippie side of things)

"Playback Fantasy" - O'Gar (an older Spanish / Italian track, poorly sung and not quite right, but all this fragility creates a rare, melodic and emotional equilibrium)

"Ich habe dich gesehen" - Schwefelgelb (the last German group with Electronic Body Music - also great live)

Valerie (Official) | Valerie (MySpace) | Twitter: valerie_friends | College (MySpace)

Track of the Day… "Low Files Tropical" from Get Back Guinozzi

Get Back Guinozzi
"Low Files Tropical"
From Carpet Madness
FatCat Records (2009)

Listen to "Low Files Tropical" MP3

Get Back Guinozzi is a London / Toulouse -based quintet headed by friends Eglantine Gouzy and Fred Landini. The group thrives on a pick 'n' mix of influences from reggae, dub African, Tropicalia with a hefty dose of summery pop. One of the highlights from the group's debut album Carpet Madness is the infectious single "Low Files Tropical" - a breezy groove which highlights the wonderfully warm childlike vocals of Ms. Gouzy (you can check out her solo work here). Also, check out Get Back Guinozzi's take on the Junior Murvin song "Police and Thieves" (a free download of the track is available on the FatCat Records site).

The titillating video for "Low Files Tropical" was created by director Jean-Luc Charles and features a mix of footage of the band at the Midi-Festival in France and vintage super 8 films shot at the "Bingo Club" on the French Riviera. Watch.


Track of the Day… "Better Days" from Speech Debelle (with Micachu)

Speech Debelle
"Better Days"
From Speech Therapy
Big Dada / Ninja Tune (2009)

Listen to "Better Days" MP3

Speech Debelle has come to the forefront this year with her win of the 2009 Barclycard Mercury Prize for her debut album Speech Therepy. Inspired by the likes of Ms. Dynamite (Mercury Prize winner in 2002), the 26-year-old South Londoner approached her label Big Dada back in 2005 looking to make a "hip hop version of Tracy Chapman". While far from the original brief, what results is a very different type of rap album. On Speech Therepy, Ms. Debelle combines various influences with organic jazz-inflected instrumentation. What you will immediately notice about Ms. Debelle is her connecting and genuine narrative - often distinctly intimate and personal. Speech Therapy often gives flesh to darker times, and with her Mercury Prize win, Ms. Debelle says that she is now ready to focus on the days ahead.

On "Better Days", one of the standouts from Speech Therapy, Ms. Debelle redirects her organic sound in a beat-centred direction, set off against her immediate and hopeful lyrics and Micachu's quietly melodic chorus. This track will get in your head and stay there - guaranteed.

Check out Speech Debelle's MySpace page for concert date updates, including the 1 December show at Nouveau Casino (Paris).

Speech Debelle (Official) | MySpace | Watch

What's On The Hi-Fi...The Amazing Album Review

The Amazing
The Amazing
Subliminal Sounds (2009)
Download: "Dragon"
The Amazing have crafted a well-balanced, sweetly melodic and soulful album with their self-titled freshman effort. It’s overflowing with languid, intimate songs that could best be compared to the dreamier slow jams of The Allman Brother’s Eat A Peach, the subtle ethereal synths of 10CC and the organic guitaring and vocals of Fleet Foxes

A Swede “supergroup” made up from members of bands like Dungen, Anna Jarvinen and Sagor & Swing, The Amazing are singer/songwriter Christoffer Gunrup, lead guitarist Reine Fiske, drummer Johan Holmegard, and multi-instrumentalist Fredrik Swahn.

Although the album stands on its own, the tracks "Dragon", "Beach House" and "Is It Likely" are extraordinary, all filled with shining and effortless songwriting, melodies and lyrics. The Amazing is an album that will help you drift away in front of fire on a cool, autumn night.

Listen to "Dragon" MP3

The Amazing (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day…. "Snow" from Lisa Germano

Lisa Germano
From Magic Neighbor
Young God Records (2009)

Listen to "Snow" MP3

After a hiatus, Lisa Germano is back with her new release Magic Neighbor on Young God Records. Much has been said about her confessional and intimate style of song writing. The track "Snow" from the new release continues in this vein, building on Lisa's impressive solo catalog which spans almost two decades. From the simple piano and strings which occasionally reel as if stumbling, only then to right themselves, Lisa's intimate and guarded vocals dare to rise, both personal and contentedly spent. As is the case with this track, as well as many of Lisa's songs, there is a unifying sense of comforting and appeasement, from wherever it may come. With Magic Neighbor, Lisa continues to prove herself to be a powerful artist, unwavering in her devotion to pursuing her singular vision.

So much melancholy beauty.

Lisa Germano Official | Young God Records

Track of the Day… "Falleg Depurd" from Blindfold

"Falleg Depurd"
From Faking Dreams
CinePop Records (2009)

Listen to "Falleg Depurd" MP3

Blindfold are an Icelandic quartet now living in London, creating watery and muslin wrapped indie-pop. The group cites Radiohead and Sigur Rós as influences, while the more pop oriented strains of Coldplay and Keane are not far off the mark. One of the standout tracks from the group's second release Faking Dreams is "Falleg Depurd", a tender lament which gently builds, only then to quietly slip away. This track highlights the vocal and writing style of the group's frontman, founder and composer Biggi Hilmarsson. Blindfold also has an uncanny ability to translate their sound live, retaining the melting richness of their cinematic sound.

MySpace | CinePop Records

Track of the Day… "Early Morning" from Fontän

"Early Morning"
From Wintherhwila
Information Records (2009)

Listen to "Early Morning" MP3

Welcome to the sound of kraut-pop revisited. Fontän's "Early Morning" is an epic trek through retro electro sounds, treated token vocals and wailing electric guitars tumbling over 80's synth beats. The duo of Jesper Jarold and Johan Melin hail from the (unlikely) burgeoning musical hotbed that is Gothenburg in southern Sweden - home to acts such as El Perro del Mar, Lake Heartbeat, Air France, The Tough Alliance and The Embassy (and the birthplace of Jens Lekman and José González).

Fontän lead us in a game of frenetic musical hopscotch across their excellent release Wintherhwila - never content to stay with any singular sound for very long. As a result, Fontän's musical ADD is our beguiling reward.

Watch (fan video)

Official | MySpace | Information Records

Track of the Day… "Good Morning" from Bikini Machine

Bikini Machine
"Good Morning"
The Full Album
Platinum Records (2009)

Listen to "Good Morning" MP3

France's Bikini Machine (whose name is taken from the B-movie
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine) thrive on inspiration from the sounds of 50's / 60's subculture - coupling vintage guitars and melodies with modern rock and electro sounds. The imprint of Jon Spencer as producer and mixer on "Good Morning" is undeniable - playing here with many of his hallmark sounds. The track revs up and swings out in full retro-garage-pop mode, while French songstress Laetitia Shériff lends her backing vocals to this raucous opener to the quintet's excellent release The Full Album.


Track of the Day..."Can We Stay" from The Woodlands

The Woodlands
"Can We Stay"
From The Woodlands
Self-Released (2009)
There is a touching intimacy to the track "Can We Stay" that can only be attributed to a wonderful love affair. Portland, OR natives The Woodlands are just that. The husband and wife duo (Hannah & Samuel Robertson) have created a lush and evocative song that calls out from a warm and gentle place of yearning and deep need. Hannah Robertson's voice is a light that peers through a world of emotion and wonder. They are definitely a duo to watch.

We hope to see much more of this band in the future and look forward to getting a sense of their live show.

Listen to "Can We Stay” MP3


Back Again "Rhythm Is A Dancer"...Mux Mool Edit

Brooklyn based Mux Mool, by way of Minnesota, has made amazing strides in the music industry since he captured iTunes "Best of" in 2006 with the song “Lost and Found” . He has really gotten traction lately with his slowed down and minimized update of Snap's, 1992, top 5 US hit "Rhythm Is a Dancer".

The original released as a single from the album The Madman's Return was written by Benito Benitez, John 'Virgo' Garrett III (aliases for German producers Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti), The track is back again and looks to score another wave of fans going into 2010. Check it out below.

Listen to "Rhythm Is A Dancer” MP3

Mux Mool (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Thieves Like Us

Listen to "Really Like To See You Again" MP3

“Music for outsiders. Or I should say pop music for outsiders.”, is the way that Andy Grier of Thieves Like Us succinctly describes the group’s musical universe, a sound which refuses to slot neatly into any particular style.

Hailing from the US, Andy (vocals) met Swedes Björn Berglund (keyboards) and Pontus Berghe (drums) while living in Berlin. As a counter to the ubiquitous electro / techno scene, they started deejaying together, spinning a cross-over mix of tracks (to the befuddlement of Berliners) from Krautrock, Italo Disco to French filter house. They then formed Thieves Like Us and released their critically successful debut Play Music. This unconventional electro-pop soundtrack is often glacial and minimal, but tracks nonetheless resonate with a certain empathetic intimacy, side stepping becoming uninviting or aloof. With their latest EP Really Like to See You Again and work underway on their next long player, Thieves Like Us continue to develop their modern sound.

Andy talks to us about working together across cities, dissatisfaction with cultural harmonization, the group’s sour relationship with the Kitsuné label, musical innovators and what we can expect the group to deliver next.

All three of you subsequently moved to Paris -- what was behind the move? What do you make of Paris in terms of sparking / fostering creativity, particularly as compared to Berlin and NYC?
I think Paris is pretty bad for actually creating something. The atmosphere was inspiring -- the buildings and streets -- the Parisian people and such. But, to find time and space to actually make music there was pretty difficult. It is too expensive. New York and London are equally bad.

With ‘Globalism’ and all, cities and youth culture are becoming the same everywhere. Same clothes. Same parties (thank you very much Vice Magazine and American Apparel). I think some slower rustic town like Porto or Val Paraiso in Chile would be better for us to record in. I want to make a record in Antarctica, but I think the two Swedes would freeze to death. So, Berlin is better somehow, for slowing down and taking time to make something.

You have all since moved to separate spots. How does this affect working on new material?
We recorded our new record, Again and Again in Paris. So with that being finished, we can live in different cities again (for a little while). We try to record new ideas independently and then work them out into songs when we meet up.

How did you come together with the label Kitsuné?
Kitsuné . . . mmm. They suck actually. They have some say for hyping bands. But then they are incapable of releasing full lengths. They f**ked around a lot with us . . . promised us a lot. [They] [m]ade us wait one year and didn’t release our record . . . Gildas [Kitsuné co-founder] . . . makes the label for fashion purposes. Not music. C'mon, they sell blue jeans for 300 euros and sweaters for 800 euros . . . think about it. In December, when we released our record Play Music on a small independent (Sea You Records), he tried to sue us and block its release, claiming that he owned the masters. . . No, we do not share their beliefs or aesthetics. We would like to expose the company as being -- soulless!

The debut album Play Music received a lot of (well-deserved) critical attention, and particularly the brilliant track "Drugs In My Body". Could you tell us how the latest EP Really Like to See You Again follows from and departs from the debut release?
Well. We were still learning how to produce when we made Play Music. “Drugs In My Body” was recorded in our living room in one evening. There is kind of a dislocation in Play Music. Some songs we began in 2005 but did not finish until 2007. Really Like To See You Again is kind of a preview to our next album. I think it is more solid.

When can we expect the next long player? Any surprises in store?
It has lots of backing vocals. And it is more organic. Lots of guitar. I think it is more catchy than the last record. It is still pretty psychedelic in that space rock kind of way.

Could you tell us a bit about the imagery you gravitate to for you videos (for example, the video for "Program Of The First Part" features clips from the classic (TRON)?
Well, I saw a lot of these films late at night on television when I was a child. The film stock and lighting maybe reminds me of my childhood. There is a purity to these films that is missing in new cinema I think. The characters are mostly outsiders / people running away. We are going to try to produce some videos for the new record. Hopefully they will turn out good too.

Who do you see as being particularly innovative in music right now?
Mikey Bones. He has got a story to tell. Nobody is really telling stories anymore.

If you close your eyes, where do you imagine your tracks being played?
I think it is played in a variety of settings to a variety of people. Morning, day and night. At home or in the car. Probably by some confused people.

What's on your hi-fi at the moment?
Scott Walker, “Best Of Both Worlds” (from Scott 2, 1968)
Sade, “Why Can't We Live Together” (from Diamond Life, 1984)
Sam Cooke, “Feel It” (from Live At The Harlem Club, 1963)
Pat Metheny “Phase Dance” (from The White Album, 1978)
Michael Nyman, “Fish Beach” (from Drowning By Numbers, 1988)


Track of the Day…"Two Dots" from Lusine

"Two Dots"
From A Certain Distance
Ghostly International (2009)

Listen to "Two Dots" MP3

"Two Dots" is the first single from the release A Certain Distance from Seattle's Lusine (a/k/a Jeff McIlwain). On this track, McIlwain (a sometimes soundtrack composer) manipulates the organic sounds of drums and strings, setting them off against the crisp, accented vocals of Finland's Vilja Larjosto. The strength of this track lies in its seeming simplicity, altered snares racing at a steady clip coupled with an uplifting, melodic chorus which foregoes the usual dance lyrics, instead seeing Larjosto asking who is responsible for the not so benign consequences of geometry (relationships - as - trigonometry). "Two Dots" is just one of the highlights on this excellent second release from Lusine on Ghostly International.

The "Two Dots" single also contains a remix by Dave Pezzner (of Jacob London) as well McIlwain's own dance floor rethink.

Check Lusine's MySpace page for a list of European dates through the end of November 2009.

Lusine (Official) | MySpace | Watch

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

What's On The Hi-Fi Podcasts are also available for subscription at iTunes.

Listen to "What's On The Hi-Fi Ep. 4” MP3

"In The Summer In The Heat" - Shannon Stephens
We see a broad and bright future from the former Sufjan Stevens bandmate. On the track she bares her soft but not brittle vocals over a richly picked and strummed acoustic guitar and a distant, spare bassline.
Asthmatic Kitty Records | MySpace

"Words of Love" – Jeremy Jay
Inspired by Françoise Hardy and the French New Wave (fans of Jens Lekman take note), Jeremy Jay creates an exceptional cover of a Buddy Holly classic. It's just him and a guitar, and it works so good.
K Records | MySpace

"Dishwasher" - Fujiya & Miyagi
Formed in Brighton in 2000, Fujiya & Miyagi are purveyors of the 70’s Krautrock popularized by bands such as Can and Neu!. The band’s name comes from the now infamous, waxing on and off teacher from The Karate Kid movies and a brand of a record player. They've produced several LP's and remix albums including 2008's Light Bulbs and their songs have found mainstream commercial success being featured in ads ranging from Jaguar to Miller Lite Beer.
Fujiya & Miyagi (Official) | MySpace

"Boulders" – Luxury Pond
Toronto-based musician, Dan Goldman is the force behind this sweet, lush and eclectic track that effortlessly fuses vocal harmonies and electronic samples into a building, ethereal and at times somber sound.
Luxury Pond(Official) | MySpace

"Halleluja" - [ingenting]
Thanks go out to Kristian Dahl of Lacrosse for turning us on to this steller pop track from Sweden's [ingenting]! "Halleluja!", sung in Swedish, confidently swaggers along on Brit-pop riffs and a joyous melodic chorus. Its no wonder why this indie-pop track has been a top play on Swedish radio over the past few months. While the subtleties of the Swedish language may escape us, this delightfully addictive tune remains firmy stuck in our heads. "Halleluja!" is the first single from the album Tomhet, idel tomhet (which, in a rather stark contrast to the track, we understand means "emptiness, nothing but emptiness") and is out now on Labrador. Watch
[ingenting] (Official) | MySpace

"6174" - Don’t Wait Animate
Fusing indie and dubstep, Londoners Don't Wait Animate create a terrifically warped and frenetic vibe, which as the story goes, was first christened "strumstep" by an excited (and rather lit) fan after a show. Each of the members of this five-piece brings to the group varied musical influences and affinities, and together they meticulously distill these into a heady and genre / era crossing concoction. Keep these guys on your radar! Watch the video for "6174".
Don't Wait Animate (Official) | MySpace

"Bicycle" - Memory Tapes
Weird Tapes, Memory Cassette and Memory Tapes are all monikers of one-man-band Dayve Hawk who has recently released his first full-length Seek Magic. Liquid mercury tracks stream along on drum machine beats, detailed layered melodies and Dayve's pitched and muted vocals, creating an album of energized, but confidently chilled, electro-pop tracks. Give a listen to the first single "Bicycle" which ebbs and flows with late 80's New Order-style electro-pop guitars, synths and sharp-edged beats. The track is also available for download at We're Tapes.
Official | MySpace | Acephale Records | Sincerely Yours

"My Body’s A Zombie For You" – Dead Man’s Bones
Hollywood star Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields take their love of all things macabre into the studio for an intriguing mix of doo wop, kid's chorus anthem, and the Misfits.
Dead Man's Bones (Official) | MySpace

"War" - BMX
Hailing from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, BMX bring blissed-out fun on this refreshing and imaginative track. The electro-pop sound is a wandering journey of danceable energy.

"König" - Omo
Born in spring 2004. Omo (a.k.a Berit Immig and David Muth) have developed a sound based on mellow acoustic textures, amped-up casio's and Theremin sounding vocals.
Omo (Official) | MySpace

"Tall Countryside" - Shannon Wright
Wright's "Tall Countryside" from her album Honeybee Girls is a beautiful and melodic piece that combines her soft, commanding voice, a steady fingered guitar and a lonely snare drum keeping time. It feels like a walk through the woods on a distant, autumn afternoon watching the sun punch wholes through the falling orange leaves. It is an evocative tale from a powerful singer-songwriter.
Shannon Wright (Official) | MySpace

"Beyond Blue" - Limes
The Limes must surely be the only North Carolina / Paris band around. The band recenty now released a cinematic self-titled collection of songs which run the gamut of styles highlighted by the sunny strains of Beach Boys sing-a-long "Beyond Blue". The Limes is out now on Sauvage Records.
The Limes (Official) | MySpace

Podcast Quicktime

Back Again...SPACE

Founded in 1977 by Didier Marouani (also known as Ecama), Roland Romanelli, and Jannick Top, Space first three albums — Magic Fly, Deliverance and Just Blue — sold over 12 million records worldwide and spawned the #1 hit "Magic Fly". Leader Didier Marouani left the band in 1979, but the other two members Roland Romanelli and Jannick Top released the forgettable Deeper Zone under the name of Space. The original lineup was officially disbanded by 1981. Although, Marouani released albums as Didier Marouani & Space and Paris-France-Transit in the 1980's the efforts failed to reach the success of the original lineup.

The bands legacy was apparent in bands such as Daft Punk (who even wore the trademark Space helmets), Cassius and Alex Gopher who started a new wave of French electronica dance-pop in the 90's.

Nang Records has brought Space back again full circle with the release of digital versions of the bands four albums and a best of set available in November. Listening to songs such as "Magic Fly" you can experience a sound as fresh today as it was 30 years ago.

Watch out for a subsequent revival and get ready to hear remixes in clubs and lounges around the world.

Listen to "Deliverance" MP3

Listen to "Magic Fly” MP3

SPACE (Official) | Nang Records

What's On Their Hi-Fi...David Best of Fujiya & Miyagi

Formed in Brighton in 2000, Fujiya & Miyagi are purveyors of the 70’s Krautrock popularized by bands such as Can and Neu!. The band’s name comes from the now infamous, waxing on and off teacher from The Karate Kid movies and a brand of a record player.

They've produced several LP's and remix albums including 2008's Light Bulbs and their songs have found mainstream commercial success being featured in ads ranging from Jaguar to Miller Lite Beer.

David (Miyagi) Best of Fujiya & Miyagi was kind enough to give us a few examples from his vast knowledge of Krautrock and electronica. Here's what's on their hi-fi this week.

Franco Battiato - "Mecanics"
This is from the 1972 LP Fetus and there is an Italian and English version. It is a very unique sounding record with lots of good synth sounds and great melodies. It's hard to describe as there is so much going on in it. It's quite proggy in places but seems more mental than self indulgent. I believe Jim O'Rourke is a big fan.

Vangelis - "The Dragon"
This is more like an Elongated Aphrodites Child song than Chariots of Fire. It has a fuzz bass all the way through it and it lasts for about 15 minutes. It reminds me of Beefheart and Zappa's "Willie the Pimp" for some reason. I like to listen to this when i'm shopping in supermarkets.

Silver Apples - "I Have Known Love"
I love the Silver Apples and this is probably their most accessible song from their second LP called Contact. It's like a number one pop song from a parallel universe that keeps going round and round your brain. Any song that just has live drums, singing and electronics on it is always going to be a favourite.

Chrissy Zebby tembo & Ngozi Family - "Troublemaker"
This is from an LP called My Ancestors from 1974 which was recorded in Zambia. The music reminds me of a fuzzed up Modern Lovers but i'm just listening to it again as I write this and it sounds nothing like the Modern Lovers. Maybe it sounds like an outtake from Can's Delay 1968 . Maybe it doesn't.
it's a joyous sounding record.

Don Cherry - "Brown Rice"
This has a wahwahed fuzz double bass and very, very whispered vocals. I don't know if Don Cherry did any other songs like this one, if so i'd like to hear them. It's a cross between Donald Byrd's "Cristo Redentor", Miles Davis' The Complete Jack Johnson sessions and something from Can's Landed LP or maybe "Dizzy Dizzy" from Soon Over Babaluma.

Listen to Fujiya & Miyagi's "Dishwasher” MP3

Fujiya & Miyagi (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day…"Tall Countryside" from Shannon Wright

Shannon Wright
"Tall Countryside"
from Honeybee Girls
Vicious Circle (2009)

Listen to "Tall Countryside” MP3

Wright's "Tall Countryside" from her album Honeybee Girls is a beautiful and melodic piece that combines her soft, commanding voice, a steady fingered guitar and a lonely snare drum keeping time. It feels like a walk through the woods on a distant, autumn afternoon watching the sun punch wholes through the falling orange leaves. It is an evocative tale from a powerful singer-songwriter.

Shannon Wright (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...CMJ 2009 Ten Bands To Watch

With New York bracing with excitement for the upcoming CMJ NYC 2009 (October 20-24), we've put together our list of favourite bands to watch out for this year. We will add a supplement list at the end of the week. Check back in!

Care Bears On Fire
October 20
@ Bowery Ballroom - 6 Delancey St.
7:00PM to 8:00PM

Mon Khmer
October 20
@ Cameo Gallery - 93 N. 6th St.
9:00PM to 10:00PM

Paper Route
October 20
@ Union Hall - 702 Union St., Brooklyn, NY
10:00PM to 11:00PM

Takka Takka
October 21
@Knitting Factory - 361 Metropolitan Ave.
8:30PM to 9:10PM

October 21
@ Bowery Ballroom - 6 Delancey St..
9:00PM to 10:00PM

October 21
@ Cake Shop - 152 Ludlow St.
9:45PM to 10:30PM

Bear Hands
October 21
@ Mercury Lounge - 217 E. Houston St.
11:00PM to 12:00AM

Choir Of Young Believers
October 23
@ Pianos - 158 Ludlow St. (btwn Stanton & R...
1:00AM to 2:00AM

October 23
@ Bowery Ballroom - 6 Delancey St.
10:00PM to 11:00PM

Sin Fang Bous
October 24
@ Le Poisson Rouge - 158 Bleecker St.
8:00PM to 9:00PM

What's On The Hi-Fi...The Limes Album Review

The Limes
September 2009
Sauvage Records

Listen to "Beyond Blue” MP3

The Limes must surely be the only North Carolina / Paris band around. Started in 2006 as a transatlantic writing project, David Simonetta (Paris), Brent Ballantyne (Durham, NC), Orouni (Paris), John Hale (Carrboro, NC) and Mina Tindle (Paris) have now released a cinematic self-titled collection of songs which run the gamut of styles. Tracks range from the sunny strains of Beach Boys sing-a-longs (the infectious "Beyond Blue"), spaghetti western pop ("San Francisco Waters", "Dead Furniture"), nostalgic folk ("Between Roof & Bird"), to Devo-style electronica ("City Lights"). One of the standouts is the mini-epic "Big Top Head", a track which coaxes you down the eerie fairway of old time carnival, and with its wizened hand on your shoulder, leads you into the glow of the fortune teller's tent. A wonderful mix of tracks from an uninhibited imagination, The Limes is out now on Sauvage Records.

The Limes (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi Interview with Frànçois

Frànçois is an artist (both musical and visual) who deftly melds the influences of his native France with those of his adopted home of Bristol. His lo-fi indie pop is at once warm and intimate and often unabashedly joyous. There is a welcome unhurried and ambeling feel to his naive songcraft and a soft reassurance in his reserved vocals, combining to lay out landscapes often plucked from Frànçois' passions and memories, as is the case on the beautiful EP Her River Raves Recollections. A true delight.

Look for Frànçois' releases on Stich Stich Records, Lejos Discos and Talitres Records.

Listen to: "Royan" (opener from the EP Her River Raves Recollections) MP3

You are originally from Charente-Maritime (the South-West of France), but have been based in Bristol for a few years now. How did this move come about?
I got offered a job as a French assistant at the Bristol Cathedral School. I was very pleased to move to Bristol; I liked the atmosphere of the music coming from there (Crescent, early Tricky, Portishead).

How does growing up in Saintes play into your music and lyrical imagery?
Saintes was a boring city for the teenager that I was. It's very calm especially at weekends. When my friends took me on the back of their scooters to go skateboarding on Sundays we would be riding in deserted streets. There is a feeling of melancholy and desolation in the air.

It's exactly the type of city described in Dominique A's song: "Je suis une ville de chantiers ajournés, de fetes municipales de peu de volonté".

How would you describe Bristol to friends back in France? How did you become involved with the local music scene?
All my French friends who visited Bristol loved it. It's a very easy city to love. The underground art scene is dynamic and friendly. It's easy to get involved. There's no snobbery. Crusty hippies and trendy hipsters work together in volunteer run cinemas and cafés.

How did you assemble the musicians of "The Atlas Mountains"?
By meeting friends. By involving whoever is available amongst the people I get on with. The Atlas Mountains is just the name I give to my backing band, but its members change all the time and are from different group of friends. A few examples: Rory Pilgrim was a pupil at my school, Victor Crespi and Amaury Ranger are old friends from Saintes, Rozi Plain is my girlfriend, Rachael Dadd is a singer I met at an open mic night, Rob Hunter is my flatmate, etc.

One of our favourite tracks is "Tracy Emin" from the Brother release. Could you tell us a bit about this track dedicated to the Turner prize winner?
It's a dream I had one night. She was keeping people locked up to make them go crazy and filming their reactions.

You are also passionate about painting and filmmaking (the artwork on your releases is often that of Frànçois himself). How do theses passions weave into his music?
I see it as one big body of work. My stage name is also my artist name. Frànçois the painter = Frànçois the musician. It's a different way to express my vision of the world and explain my way of life. I think they join. I think my music and my drawings have a common feel. I rarely lie when I do art. It's very honest most of the time. Sometimes I use a bit of effect here and there, but the intention is always to be direct and true.

How do you choose between writing / singing in French or English?
Poetry comes to me in both languages. I think French is a beautiful language. I can't get enough of reading poems by Baudelaire or novels by Camus and Vian. But at the same time English is very playful and funky sounding. I need both to express feelings and create imagery.

The tracks from your EP Her River Raves Recollections and the long player Plaine Inondable [Out 14 September on Talitres Records] were recorded in an array of locations. Could you tell us how these recordings came about and your approach to the releases?
Her River Raves Recollections
is a sort of collection of songs recorded at different places and times, but they have in common the feel of water. One side of the vinyl is the River Side, and the other is the Sea Side. I need to go in the water very often. If I don't swim in the sea or the river for a long time, I start feeling confused … All the songs on the EP refer to that feeling in one way or another. It's an intimate affair - a lot of it was recorded on a 4 track that fits in the palm of my hand. So when I recorded it, it was like talking quietly to someone. I recorded a lot of it outdoors, picking up the surrounding sounds.

Plaine Inondable was recorded in one place: Saintes. The songs talk to the city and its surrounding, the fields along the river Charente that gets covered by the water every winter when the rain makes the river flood. It's got melancholy in it and also more foreign rhythmical backgrounds that express the desire to move away from Saintes, the will to travel to Africa (calabash beats), California (70's guitars) or Eastern Europe (Bulgarian female vocals harmonies), etc. Sound wise it is more produced, the ideas are more developed and the sound is richer.

It has been said that you are not particularly influenced by contemporary acts? Is this the case, and if so, what types of music are you the most attracted to?
I like some modern things, and I love watching bands live. At the moment I enjoy listening to hip hop and R&B artists like Kanye West, Clipse, Lil' Wayne. But it is true that a big part of my influences is music from the 70's (Arthur Russell, Philip Glass, music from Mali, Nigeria and Ethiopia recorded in the 70's), and also composers from previous centuries (Debussy, Satie, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Bach).

What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
"The Balled of Dorothy Parker" - Prince
Because I just found out Prince is a giant. I love the way he combines the profile of a superstar who looks and acts cool and an artists who spends all of his time in his studio experimenting with funky ideas.

"Two Weeks" - Grizzly Bear
An example of how modern production can create purity of sound and make simple pop songs that don't sound dull.

"Silver Boat" - Ladybird
He is my friend and a constant inspiration. The simplicity in his music and its intentions move me.

"Mr. Me Too" - Clipse
Because it's pure groovy.

"The Lady With The Braid" - Dory Previn
A lesson in songwriting. Better than Dylan because she's not a poser. I discovered her through my friend Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura, so I also like that song because it reminds me of her.

Frànçois (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Bicycle" from Memory Tapes

Memory Tapes
from Seek Magic
Acephale Records / Sincerely Yours, 2009

Listen to "Bicycle” MP3

Weird Tapes, Memory Cassette and Memory Tapes are all monikers of one-man-band Dayve Hawk who has recently released his first full-length Seek Magic. Liquid mercury tracks stream along on drum machine beats, detailed layered melodies and Dayve's pitched and muted vocals, creating an album of energized, but confidently chilled, electro-pop tracks.

Give a listen to the first single "Bicycle" which ebbs and flows with late 80's New Order-style electro-pop guitars, synths and sharp-edged beats. The track is also available for download at We're Tapes.

Pick up Seek Magic from Rough Trade Shops and get a bonus CD

Official | MySpace | Acephale Records | Sincerely Yours

Track of the Day…"Boys Don't Cry" from Norman Palm

 Norman Palm
"Boys Don't Cry"
From Songs
Ratio Records / Morr Music, 2009

Listen to "Boys Don't Cry” MP3

Along the way between Berlin, Paris and Mexico City, Norman Palm assembled a mesmerizing collection of often winsome songs, pairing each with his own artwork to create the unique release / book entitled Songs. The original run published by Ratio Records having quickly been picked up by fans, Songs as a book / CD package is now enjoying a wide re-release via Morr Music. On the album, Norman provides most of the instrumentation himself and worked with Finnish producer Jonas Verwijnen (Annie, The Whitest Boy Alive), looking to the basic structure of the songs as his musical plumb line.
One of Norman's oldest tracks which appears on Songs is the sympathetic cover of The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry". Norman approaches the song with a sense of melancholy and deliberate stillness. The track was first released on a limited edition vinyl together with a cover of Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". Norman told us that he gravitated to these songs "because they are both icons of the 80's, saying so much about the roles of women and men at the time. In 'Boys Don't Cry' it's about the guys who can't really show their feelings because they are not supposed to as guys. The song is really sad, but in the original version its up-beat and people dance to it…. So I wanted to give the song its meaning back by singing it in the saddest way possible, even adding this moody almost whining trombone (which was played by Sebastian Maschat from The Whitest Boy Alive)."
Norman celebrates the release of Songs in France with a show at the Pop In in Paris on 30 September.

Norman Palm (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day..."6174" from Don't Wait Animate

Don't Wait Animate
Album to be released in 2010

Listen to "6174” MP3

Fusing indie and dubstep, Londoners Don't Wait Animate create a terrifically warped and frenetic vibe, which as the story goes, was first christened "strumstep" by an excited (and rather lit) fan after a show. Each of the members of this five-piece brings to the group varied musical influences and affinities, and together they meticulously distill these into a heady and genre / era crossing concoction. Keep these guys on your radar!

The band's debut single "6174" won't be released until early 2010, but they have been kind enough to let us give you an advance listen!

Watch the video for "6174".

Don't Wait Animate (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Wild Beasts Album Review

Wild Beasts
Two Dancers
Domino Recordings (2009)
Download: "The Fun Powder Plot "
The four piece out of Leeds in the UK are a young bunch with one album under their belts and a good amount of praise already heaped upon them. On Two Dancers the group has crafted an often spellbinding, daring and ultimately charming album. I am always a bit suspicious of an album that is sung almost entirely in falsetto. It's a personal thing but it often strikes me as overly theatrical and can cause a quick click of the remote with even the best of backing music. Even Prince breaks out of it once in a while. There is just something about this new Wild Beasts' album that draws me in again and again.

From the opening track, the very fine "The Fun Powder Plot", there is a real sense of confidence in their style. It does make me think of a thousand different references from the 80's UK canon but like much of the better music out there they make it their own and move on.

Two Dancers exhibits atmospheric early-Edge guitar echoed riffs from Ben Little, Chris Talbot's booming drums and Hayden Thorpe's more than revelatory falsetto and thoughful lyrics rolled up into 10 solid and mesmerizing tracks that should force these Wild Beasts to raise their able heads above the fray.

Wild Beasts (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Halleluja!" from [ingenting]

from Tomhet; idel tomhet
Labrador 2009

Listen to "Halleluja!” MP3

Thanks go out to Kristian Dahl of Lacrosse for turning us on to this steller pop track from Sweden's [ingenting]! "Halleluja!", sung in Swedish, confidently swaggers along on Brit-pop riffs and a joyous melodic chorus. Its no wonder why this indie-pop track has been a top play on Swedish radio over the past few months. While the subtleties of the Swedish language may escape us, this delightfully addictive tune remains firmy stuck in our heads.

"Halleluja!" is the first single from the album Tomhet, idel tomhet (which, in a rather stark contrast to the track, we understand means "emptiness, nothing but emptiness") and is out now on Labrador. Watch

[ingenting] (Official) | MySpace

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

Listen to "What's On The Hi-Fi Ep. 3” MP3

"Lust For Life" - GIRLS
Christopher Owens formed GIRLS in San Francisco with ladykiller Chet “JR” White when his former band Curls dissolved in 2006. After a buzz filled showcase at SXSW and a quirky video making the rounds for "Lust For Life" the band is mounted to take a huge leap in 2010.

"Long White Ride" - Maplewood
Maplewood model their music on the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers of the American Southwest in the 70’s. The group has a stellar lineup with co-vocalists and guitarists Mark Rozzo (of Champale), Steve Koester (of Two Dark Birds), guitarist Craig Schoen, bassist Jude Webre, and Nada Surf drummer Ira Elliot. Their album Yeti Boombox was released on Hamburg, Germany's Tapete Records in 2009.
MySpace | Tapete Records

"Dixie Cups in the Dead Grass" - The Skygreen Leopards
The Skygreen Leopards are Glenn Donaldson and Donovan Quinn, a unique psych-pop band from San Francisco that explore exceptional and clever wording atop loose but well crafted music.
MySpace | Jagjaguwar

"Mirrored And Reverse" - White Denim
Austin-Texas rockers White Denim have put together a brilliant and uncompromising sophomore release with Fits. The trio continues to move the goalposts from their 2008 debut Workout Holiday; playing with an amalgam of disparate sounds and rhythms, agilely shifting (often mid-track and without warning) from garage rock, to blues, country, punk to psychadelica. Recorded in their trailer, tracks reel with howls, gigantic riffs, impressively tight and explosive rhythms and reverberating inventive energy. It should be a complete pileup, but instead, it makes for a wonderfully chaotic and heady more from our interview
White Denim (Official) | MySpace

"Birds That Move" - Panther
Panther is Charles Byron Salas Humara and Joe Faustin Kelly (Philip Glass Ensemble, Steve Reich ensemble) and occasionally Sara Welker on violin. With the release of their new record Entropy (Kill Rock Stars), they have sculpted a more melodic and cohesive our interview with the band
Panther (Official) | MySpace

"Charlie Darwin" - The Low Anthem
Formed in Providence, Rhode Island in 2003 and consisting of multi-instrumentalists Ben Miller, Jeff Prystowsky and Jocie Adams The Low Anthem offers meticulously crafted songs. Oh My God, Charlie Darwin and the single "Charles Darwin" are full of lyrics about longing and are often impressively beautiful
The Low Anthem (Official) | MySpace

"Walking the Dog" - fun.
Like the name of the band “Walking The Dog” is an up beat pop gem that harkens back to the early 80’s British pop like Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello.
fun.(Official) | MySpace

"I See A Brightness" - Lacrosse
Lacrosse is a wonderfully sunny six-piece pop combo from Stockholm who are purveyors of a singularly clever brand of (intense) euphoria. The tracks on the band's excellent Bandages For The Heart are far from saccharine, wide eyed ditties along the lines of Love Is. but are rather musical Polaroids which delve into the intricacies and inherent messiness of all that is romantic love. On this sophomore release, multiple male / female vocals thread back and forth atop indie-pop I'm From Barcelona-like anthems. Bandages For The Heart is out What's On Lacrosse's What's On Lacrosse's Hi-Fi
Lacrosse (Official) | MySpace | Tapete Records

"Comin To Getcha" - Kool Dj Dust
Laptop and sample wizard Daniel Savio provides a cool and catchy dance vibe on “Comin’ To Getcha”. Get the track here.

"I Talk To The Trees" - Masha Qrella
Berliner Masha Qrella continues her solo efforts with her third release Speak Low - Loewe and Weil In Exile and creates a laid-back, lo-fi pop gem with the standout track "I Talk To The Trees". On the album, Masha shares her surprising and blessedly un-theatrical take on songs by Kurt Weil and Frederick Loewe. The album was born out of a 2007 project with Berlin's Haus der Kulturen der Welt as part of its "New York - Berlin" celebrations. The challenge of the project was to find new and fresh approaches to Weil and Loewe songs, and Masha unquestionably succeeds in avoiding the obvious pitfalls and gives the tracks a welcome twist. Speak Low... is out now on Morr Music.
Morr Music | MySpace

"Linger With Pleasure" - Ane Brun
"Linger With Pleasure" is an all too brief and mesmerizing track inspired by an island off the Norwegian coast where her father is from -- a longing for that rare and fleeting feeling of tranquility and clarity. The beautiful album Changing of the Seasons highlights some of the best of Ane's songwriting and her ability to craft the rawest of bittersweet love songs.
Ane Brun (Official) | MySpace

"Bitch Of The Bitches" - LCMdF
Emma and Mia Kemppianen and Malin Nyqvist hail from Helsinki and make up the frenetic electro-pop trio that is Le Corps Mince de Françoise ("The Slim Body of Françoise"). These young ladies whip up furious musical dust devils and scatter in self-knowing and biting lyrics. The first single "Bitch of Bitches" off their debut album of the same name is produced by Berliners New Judas who also had a hand in Annie's release Don't Stop. An ode to the second sex, the ladies declare on "Bitch of the Bitches": "I'm gonna marry Agent Cooper, he'd be good as a wife! I don't want to marry you, stay out of my life!"

Bitch of Bitches is out now on Stimulus.



Track of the Day…"Bitch of the Bitches" from Le Corps Mince de Françoise

Le Corps Mince de Françoise
"Bitch of the Bitches"
from Bitch of Bitches
Stimulus 2009

Listen to "Bitch of the Bitches” MP3

Emma and Mia Kemppianen and Malin Nyqvist hail from Helsinki and make up the frenetic electro-pop trio that is Le Corps Mince de Françoise ("The Slim Body of Françoise"). These young ladies whip up furious musical dust devils and scatter in self-knowing and biting lyrics. The first single "Bitch of Bitches" off their debut album of the same name is produced by Berliners New Judas who also had a hand in Annie's release Don't Stop. An ode to the second sex, the ladies declare on "Bitch of the Bitches": "I'm gonna marry Agent Cooper, he'd be good as a wife! I don't want to marry you, stay out of my life!"

Bitch of Bitches is out now on Stimulus.

LCMdF (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Calvin Harris Album Review

Calvin Harris
Ready For The Weekend
Ultra Records (2009)
Download: "Ready For The Weekend "
Scottish electronic musician, singer-songwriter and record producer Calvin Harris (a/k/a Adam Wiles) had a gold album with 2007's I Created Disco which spawned top 10 singles "Acceptable in the 80s" and "The Girls", has written and produced records for Kylie Minogue and a #1 UK collaboration with Dizzee Rascal, but he has not had the same success here stateside. That should change with the recent release of his studio album Ready for the Weekend.

Harris definitely provides his usual healthy dose of positive house anthemic, mirrorball twirlers and thumpers like "Ready For The Weekend" and "I'm Not Alone" on the album, but like LCD Soundsystem (a favourite on the Hi-Fi) there is a crafted and thoughtful development to the songs. Many of the album's finest tracks such as "Blue" harken back to some of the great French dance albums by Cassius, Alex Gopher or early Daft Punk from the late 90's. Other standouts such as "You Used To Hold Me" ably reuse (you can almost hear Thelma Houston) past dance themes without losing their own integrity.

Ready For The Weekend is just the type of album that will make pop, alternative and dance lovers jump on the floor with equal gusto. It's filled with infectious hooks that will be warming up the winter months ahead and pumping out of pods and stacks everywhere.

Calvin Harris (Official) | Ultra Records | MySpace

What's On Their Hi-Fi...Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a wonderfully sunny six-piece pop combo from Stockholm who are purveyors of a singularly clever brand of (intense) euphoria. The tracks on the band's excellent Bandages For The Heart are far from saccharine, wide eyed ditties along the lines of Love Is..., but are rather musical Polaroids which delve into the intricacies and inherent messiness of all that is romantic love. On this sophmore release, multiple male / female vocals thread back and forth atop indie-pop I'm From Barcelona-like anthems. Bandages For The Heart is out now on Hamburg label Tapete Records.

Listen to "I See A Brightness” MP3

Tobias, Henrik and Kristian of Lacrosse share with us what's now on their hi-fi!

Tobias Dahlström (drums)
"The Tears and Music of Love" - Deerhoof
It's just one hell of a pop song from one of Tobias' favourite bands from this decade. Watch

"Kilometer" from the album Sexuality - Sébastien Tellier
I hated almost everything with an eighties sound, until I heard this fabulous song! I am a changed man. Watch

Henrik Johansson (guitar and vocals)
"Jim Cain" - Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan takes melancholy to an entire new level with some fantastic melodies. From his latest album Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle. Watch

"Grass" - Animal Collective
It's impossible to be angry after listening to that song. Watch

Kristian Dahl (lead vocals and guitar)
"Halelluja!" - Ingenting
The best Swedish pop song this year - so far. ["Hallelujah!" will soon be appearing as a Track of the Day here on What's On The Hi-Fi!] Watch

Lacrosse (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day…"I Talk to the Trees" from Masha Qrella

Masha Qrella
"I Talk To The Trees"
from Speak Low - Loewe and Weil In Exile

Listen to "I Talk To The Trees” MP3

Berliner Masha Qrella continues her solo efforts with her third release Speak Low - Loewe and Weil In Exile and creates a laid-back, lo-fi pop gem with the standout track "I Talk To The Trees". On the album, Masha shares her surprising and blessedly un-theatrical take on songs by Kurt Weill and Frederick Loewe. The album was born out of a 2007 project with Berlin's Haus der Kulturen der Welt as part of its "New York - Berlin" celebrations. The challenge of the project was to find new and fresh approaches to Weill and Loewe songs, and Masha unquestionably succeeds in avoiding the obvious pitfalls and gives the tracks a welcome twist. Speak Low... is out now on Morr Music.

Morr Music | MySpace

Track of the Day…"Bloodshed in the Woodshed" from Modernaire

"Bloodshed in the Woodshed"
from the EP Velvet Never Dries

Listen to "Bloodshed in the Woodshed” MP3

With "Bloodshed in the Woodshed', Manchester's Modernaire flirts with theatrics and a sense of intrigue, juxtoposing a dark and grisley tale of a spurned lover's revenge against a wonderfully catchy and addictive electro-pop tune. The track was released awhile back on the group's Velvet Never Dries EP but is getting well deserved recent attention on compilations such as the Sisters album now out on SisterPhunk.

SisterPhunk | MySpace

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

Our continuation of White Denim's interview.

James, did you rebel and become a music playing, beer drinking, smoking teenage nightmare on purpose? Do you keep fit, and is fitness and athleticism a priority?
At the time when I began playing music I was a pretty serious athlete. By the end of that year my interest in organized athletics had waned significantly, and I began to dedicate more and more of my time to the practice of my instrument. When I was an awful musician, my parents perceived my behavior as rebellion, but as I improved over the years, they understood that I was completely dedicated to a new thing. My goals had simply changed. I learned what I know about practice and dedication and focus through playing sports.

Yes, but I wish I were more fit. Getting older and the touring lifestyle can make it slightly more difficult to stay in good shape.

At what age does touring and the physicality of touring become a complete pain in the ass?
Depending on how you behave on the road, any age can probably feel like fifty. The bar is my workplace, and there is a bit more temptation at my job than there would be at a typical office. I just try to remember that there are consequences to every action.

Do you get anxious about the hotel you are staying in before you see it?
Yes. A nice hotel room can make a positive difference in your well being while on the road. Bad hotels and bad food can make you dislike an entire city.

How many really incredible ideas or music riffs and parts have you not been able to put down because you didn’t have a pen or paper or a guitar on you at the time or have forgotten, and have you ever tried to obsessively, like really tried, to remember one and does that ever haunt you?
I believe that 99 percent of my ideas are lost. I also believe that I only have had twenty or so ideas in my life. So I am not missing that much really I guess. Some nights I do have trouble sleeping because it feels like a flood of awareness of missed opportunities occurs in the moments before I drift off. I imagine that is a pretty common behaviour though.

Are you cut throat ambitious as musicians?
No. Music is personal, communal and it has a life of its own. Being a musician is not like being a lawyer or a politician. I would however, like to be successful. though success is measured differently when it comes to creative endeavors.

Has a roadie ever left the band because they thought you were too difficult to work with?
We have never hired a roadie.

Being in a band is a collaborative exercise, do you have to be an amazingly good diplomat?
You have to be sensitive when you live and work with anyone. At any given time you could find yourself playing peacemaker or any number of roles. "Indie rocker" can be an occupation with a varied list of duties.

Do you wish you could sing like Jeff Buckley or like an opera tenor?.
Jeff Buckley has a nice voice but it seems like opera training would open up more musical possibility for the singer. So I would rather be an opera tenor.

If you were an artist and you were to compare your voice to an artist who paints, makes contemporary art, etc., who would that artist be?
I would hope to be compared to someone like Andrew Wyeth. I enjoy his line drawings and water coloring. I think that the line drawing could represent a set of changes, and the water coloring could represent the melodies, arrangements, and instrumentation in a piece of music. An artist who respects tradition but has an identifiable and distinct vision of his own. This is what I hope to become.

What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
Clothilde. Superlipopette.

What is it about playing bass that you like? Is it the size of the strings, the fact that there are only four strings, the sound of the low tone on the base?
I guess I like to groove and there's something about the bass that makes me groove harder.

You have a sound that is bit in the vibe of Jean Jacque Bernel. Do you like the crunchy heavy sound?
Crunchy and heavy is where it's at. Round and soft is cool too, but it's harder to feel like a badass when the tone isn't all gnarled up.

You've never heard a bass solo? Get with the program! Youtube it.

Do you get nervous about the girls outside?
I am not nervous about the girls outside because I have a wonderful and beautiful lady at home in my house to look forward too.

Do you care about your graphic representation or do you leave that to other people?
I care and I leave it to the other people. We are talking about fonts right? I like seeing myself represented in typewriter font.

What is on your hi-fi at the moment?
Right now I have a Ralph Records sampler on. It has the Residents, Tuxedomoon, Fred Frith, MX80 Sound, Snakefinger, Yello and other greats on it.

White Denim (Official) | MySpace

Track of the Day..."Royan" by Frànçois and The Atlas Mountains

Frànçois and The Atlas Mountains
from the EP Her River Raves Recollections

Listen to "Royan” MP3

"Royan" is the gently unfolding opening track from the warm and intimate EP Her River Raves Recollections from Frànçois and The Atlas Mountains. Frànçois, a Frenchman who has relocated to Bristol, shared with us about his new release which he describes as "a sort of collection of songs recorded at different places and times, but they have in common the feel of water. One side of the vinyl is the River Side, and the other is the Seaside. I need to go in the water very often. If I don't swim in the sea or the river for a long time, I start feeling confused … All the songs on the EP refer to that feeling in one way or another. It's an intimate affair - a lot of it was recorded on a 4 track that fits in the palm of my hand. So when I recorded it, it was like talking quietly to someone. I recorded a lot of it outdoors, picking up the surrounding sounds."

Her River Raves Recollections is available now on Stich Stich Records. Watch for the release of his new long player entitled Plaines Inondables later this month, as well as our upcoming interview with Frànçois!

Frànçois (Official) | MySpace

Track Of The Day..."Linger with Pleasure" by Ane Brun

Ane Brun
"Linger With Pleasure"
from Changing of the Seasons

Listen to "Linger With Pleasure ” MP3

"Linger With Pleasure" is an all too brief and mesmerizing track inspired by an island off the Norwegian coast where her father is from -- a longing for that rare and fleeting feeling of tranquility and clarity. The beautfiul album Changing of the Seasons highlights some of the best of Ane's songwriting and her ability to craft the rawest of bittersweet love songs.

Ane begins her Sketches Tour 2009 next month with shows throughout Norway, Sweden and Denmark with a final show in Paris on 17 November at Café de la Danse (Changing of the Seasons is scheduled for a September release in France). Check her official site for updated tour dates.

Ane Brun (Official) | MySpace

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 ( 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

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

The Mummers
Tale To Tell
Big Bass Drum (2009)
Download: "Wonderland"
Much has been said already by some American reviewers about the Mummers and their significance to the Philadelphia New Year's Day parade, all much ballyhooed and taken on as a cause by such luminaries as Kevin Bacon of Friday The 13th and Footloose fame. Also, yes the lead singer's vocals bare a striking resemblance to Bjork. Okay, now that is said, let's review the album.

Tale To Tell is an exotic, electronic piece of showmanship that centers itself around the beauty and voice of singer-songwriter Raissa Khan-Panni. Like the Icelandic sugar hiccup and Alison Goldfrapp before her Raissa mesmerizes with tight-wire Kurt Weillian' sweet yowls. The album is her showcase and she is spellbinding in her task.

The music does not wander too much farther than big top hijinks, mixed with Cafe Del Mar Otto or Cinco. I forget because of the champagne. There is a bit of a wander after the middle that becomes a grander march out of the circus tent. Cattiness aside, It takes skill to produce this sound and some level of credence should be afforded to the music makers.

It's a brilliant piece of treacle overall and will be enjoyed by many. And for the Philly crowd, remember she is from the UK and they certainly were Mummers first. Now grab a Geno's with cheese and chill!

The Mummers (Official) | MySpace

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

See Mystery Lights
DFA (2009)
Download: "Psychic City (Voodoo City)"

YACHT (Make sure you always capitalize the name! Read why here see article) was originally the solo project of Portland, OR-based electronic musician and multimedia artist Jonathan Warren Bechtolt. Working mainly as a performance artist from 2003-2006, he released I Believe in You, Your Magic Is Real in 2007. The following year, YACHT dropped the gangplank and invited Claire Evans aboard for See Mystery Lights.

The album is reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem's highly-praised and oft-purchased Sound of Silver which deftly pairs an eclectic and refreshing take on electronic dance music with rock. What we don't hear on this album, luckily, is the down side of a performance artist/musician, which is best exemplified in the work of Fischerspooner. Unlike that group, there is skilled and thoughtful lyrics and composition in this work.

The album swells with refined musical ideas and cool phrasing. Listen to the wonderful "Psychic City (Voodoo City)" and you will find fun, quirky, narrative lyrics and walking beats in the vein of the Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club.

"Summer Song" scintillates with the heat of the season. Who doesn't love handclaps popping over call and response chants, all riding over a dirty Niles Rodgers-esque 70's bass-line?

YACHT explores unusual, almost profound territory asking metaphysical and theological questions about life and universal truths on "The Afterlife" and the gospel sounding "Ring the Bell". The tracks never get heavy or overbearing though as they are buoyed by trance inducing dance beats.

The most surprising track on the album "It's Boring" features storming punk drums, metal guitar and a Haircut 100 bass-line. At well over eight minutes it could have easily become unhinged and dulling, but the group keep throwing new sounds at you to keep it fresh.

Simply said, See Mystery Lights is excellent. It is looking like it will definitely be on my year end Top 10, and it's now ruling the hi-fi.

YACHT (Official) | MySpace

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

The Nightgowns
Sing Something
Self Released (2009)
Download: "Narwhal Aerobics"
Born from the smoldering and belligerent ashes of Tacoma, WA band The Elephants are The Nightgowns. The expanded and reformed lineup has created a sweet, simple yet deceptively distinct sound on their debut Sing Something.

The album opens with its strongest and most defining track with “Narwhal Aerobics”, a thoughtfully catchy, Casiotone diddy that really digs in upon repeat listens. The fall off from the opening track is minimal and there are several other gems on the album including the ominous “White On White” and the more upbeat, danceable sound of “Cosmic Clancy”.

Sing Something doesn’t offer a revolutionary sound and I don’t think the band wanted to change the world with this output. What you do find is an engaging and well-built album from a band that we will be keeping our eye on in the future while we enjoy this one now.


Summer Tracks with Leo Maymind of Spanish Prisoners

Listen to “Los Angeles Guitar Dream” MP3

Spanish Prisoners
Los Angeles Guitar Dream
Earfarm (2009)
Download: "Los Angeles Guitar Dream"

Brooklyn band Spanish Prisoners have followed up their highly praised 2008 debut album Songs to Forget with an even more poised, cohesive and diverse EP, Los Angeles Guitar Dream. Leader Leo Maymind has assembled a strong band for the short set that is highlighted by the airy voice of keyboardist Amberly Hungerford on the title track.

There is a strong resemblance to Soft Bulletin era Flaming Lips here but Maymind and crew have a much fuller bag of tricks. One can hear influences as wide-ranging as early Echo and the Bunnymen, The Moody Blues and Aussie group The Sleepy Jackson throughout the tracks. Although they present an eclectic mix of sounds on Los Angeles Guitar Dreams, Spanish Prisoners merge them to create three, beat filled, cunning cuts that resonant. We look forward to seeing what they do on their next full-length.

Spanish Prisoners leader Leo Maymind recently shared his top tracks for the summer with What's On The Hi-Fi.

"Cobrastyle (RAC Mix)" - Robyn
My friend Andre Allen Anjos, who remixed one of our songs, did this mix and I like it so much more than the original version. Someone actually just told me that the chorus is taken from a Kid Rock song. Oh well. Listen

"The Boys Are Back in Town" - Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy's one of those bands that I heard a lot about and I've heard the hits on classic rock radio, but its not till I got a compilation of theirs that I really sat down and listened to them and realized how well-constructed these songs are. This song to me is all about summer. Watch

Since I Left You" - The Avalanches
Put this song on. It'll be summer wherever you are immediately. Watch

"Lust for Life" - Girls
I've been listening to this song on a near daily basis since I found out about this band when they came to NYC for their first shows here. Just a great pop melody, supplemented by some hysterically out of tune harmonica playing. What else do you need? Watch

"Phones Don't Feud" - Holiday Shores
A jangly, reverb'ed number. This band's getting compared to the Walkmen, which I don't hear, but this song really skips along. Listen

"House Jam" - Gang Gang Dance
I saw them play a free show at Barnard and it blew my mind. This album (Saint Dymphna) is good but overall not as exciting as their live show. That always amazes me. Listen

Spanish Prisoners (Official) | MySpace | Earfarm

What's On The Hi-Fi...Jónsi & Alex

Jónsi & Alex
Riceboy Sleeps
XL Recordings (2009)
Download: "Indian Summer"
More than five years in the making, Jonsi and Alex's Riceboy Sleeps is a deep, contemplative and brilliant piece. At first it seems that duo of Sigur Rós' singer Jon Thor (Jónsi) Birgisson and Alex Somers created a tranquil, languorous set of lullabies but once you release yourself from the boundaries of tracks, chords and melodies you open a door to the full light of the album. It is the picture on the album cover that most defines the album's sound for me. It represents the quiet peace of childhood and the purity therein. From the opening track "Happiness" the group paint an idyllic setting that rises and expands through the excellence of "Indian Summer" and beyond. The album breathes (sometimes literally) and exists as an entity all its own.

Jonsi and Alex were making a very intense and specific concept album from the beginning. Their website states that they used only "acoustic Instruments played in Iceland" and "toyed on solar-powered laptops in a raw food commune in some far corner of Hawai". The effort has richly paid off for the two as you can hear both the comfort of home and the sounds of nature slowly resonating, undulating and speaking to the listener.

As a reviewer you find yourself musically hair-splitting every album you come across. This band sounds like this band. It is a way to derive some safety and comfort from a particular sound. I went back through everything from Eno to the Last Temptaion of Christ Soundtrack to Lohengrin to Andres Vollenweider's Down To The Moon looking for some comparison. Riceboy Sleeps is unique, incomparable and stirring.

Jonsi and Alex (Official) | MySpace

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

Listen to “What's On The Hi-Fi Ep. #1” MP3

"Los Angeles" - Sr. Chinarro
Single from Ronroneando, released by Mushroom Pillow, from this cult figure of the Spanish independent underground scene.
Sr. Chinarro's leader Antonio Luque shares his top summer picks with What's On The Hi-Fi here.
Sr. Chinarro (Official) | MySpace | Mushroom Pillow

"Airsuit" - Windmill
A wonderfully quirky track off the Epcot Center-inspired album Epcot Starfields from Windmill to be released on Melodic on 14 September 2009. Various European tour dates are in the works for this fall!
Windmill (Official) | MySpace | Melodic

"It Pays to Belong" - The Embassy
Catchy summer electro-pop tune from the Göteborg duo's just released album Tacking on indie Swedish label Service! Check it out!
The Embassy shares their top summer picks with What's On The Hi-Fi here.
The Embassy (Official) | MySpace | Service

"Gone With The Weather" - Original Folks
A wonderfully upbeat sing-a-long affair from the release Common Use from French indie folk / pop project Original Folks.
Read our interview with Jacques Speyser of Original Folks here.
Herzfeld (Label) | MySpace

"Window" - Whalebone Polly
A joyous new track from the duo Rachel Dadd and Kate Stables (of This Is The Kit), to be released on the EP Taproot and Sill on 13 September 2009. The duo have so far scheduled the following UK dates in September (be sure to check the group's MySpace page regularly for updates):

3rd - Wigan
4th - Norwich
5th - Suffolk
6th - Winchester
8th - Bournemouth
10th - Bristol
11th - Bristol
13th - Brighton

Read our interview with Kate Stables here.

"Already Over" - Violens
A sparkeling, summer inflected track from NYC's Violens' excellent self-titled debut EP!
Violens (Official) | MySpace

"Imperial Climb" - Acetate Zero
A swooning and explosive track from the new release Hesitation Blues from Paris-based Acetate Zero.
Acetate Zero (Official) | MySpace | Arbouse Recordings

"Open Organ" - Sébastien Schuller
Stunning track off the evocative release Evenfall from French artist Sébastien Schuller.
Read our review of Evenfall here.
Sébastien Schuller(Official) | MySpace | Green United Music (MySpace)

"Don't You Say Your Heart Is Broken (We Know It's Not)" - Pets

Infectious summer track from Sweden's Pets to be released on their debut album this autumn on April 77 Records -- trust us, you will be hearing a lot more about Pets in the months to come!
Pets (Official) | MySpace | April 77 Records

"Summers" - Loney, Dear
Track for the season off the release Dear, John from Loney, Dear, the alter-ego of Swedish multi-instrumentalist / songwriter Emil Svanängen. Be sure to catch Loney, Dear on an extensive North American tour this autumn!
Emil shares his top summer tracks with What's on the Hi-Fi here.
Loney, Dear (Official) | MySpace

"Golden and Green" - Builders and the Butchers
An unusual new song from a great sounding new band from the great Northwest.
The Builders and the Builders (Official) | MySpace

"Joints" - Holly Miranda
Off of her Sleep on Fire Ep this Tennessee gal shows some real chops on this song.
Holly Miranda (Official) | MySpace

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

Upper Air
Dead Oceans (2009)
Download: "Northern Lights"
On their sophomore release Upper Air, Raleigh, North Carolina band Bowerbirds mature their homespun, American roots sound into territory untouched by the likes of kinsman such as Bon Iver and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. While both these artists’ sounds are fascinating, they can, at times, be confused and slightly impenetrable. However, Bowerbirds’ Beth Tacular, Phil Moore and Mark Paulson, establish a wonderful connection to a more bracing sound on this record that shares a tone with the Dodos and the Fleet Foxes rather than the aforementioned glumsters.

Standout songs include the accordion driven “Beneath Your Tree”, the measured brilliance of “Ghost Life” and “Northern Lights” sweet, simplicity reminding one of Whiskeytown’s finest efforts. On all three songs (and the album in general) the band provides a soft but intricately layered timbre that is full of life, love, lament and melody.

Upper Air is a very fine album that holds up and becomes more nuanced after repeated listens and will make it onto our hi-fi for the rest of 2009 and beyond.

Bowerbirds (Official) | MySpace

Summer Tracks with Antonio Luque of Sr. Chinarro

Sr. Chinarro's leader Antonio Luque is a true cult figure on the Spanish underground scene. Since the early 1990's, Sr. Chinarro has undergone various configurations, and the group has released a prodigious catalogue of acclaimed ironic indie-pop releases. Antonio is a rare talent, whose strength lies in subtle songcraft, often evoking the imagery of Andalusia and stories of childhood.

At their best, the Seville-based group's songs are luminous adventures, coupled with simple, yet surrealist, storytelling -- gently reminding us of our fondest memories.

2003's El Ventrilocuo de Sí Mismo, one of Sr. Chinarro's most paired down and melodic releases, remains one of our favorite summertime albums.

Antonio shares with us a few of his top tracks for the summer.

"The Summer" - Yo La Tengo
I´m not sure if they composed that song or it´s a cover. I heard it for the first time in summertime, of course. I really like acoustic recordings, because only the good songs can pass the test of being naked.

"She´s Still Suffering" - Cass McCombs
I discovered Cass McCombs' music in the summer of 2007. This album, Prefection, is a masterpiece for me, and this song seems to me to describe things that happened to me as a logical consequences of whatever happened to me those crazy months, my last summer of an already wasted youth.

The Queen is Dead - The Smiths
Every song on this historical album come to my mind from the summer of 1986, when I went to the nearest shop on a stolen bicycle to buy it. I listened to "Bigmouth Strikes Again" in a very commercial radio station. The whole album wasn't what I expected. It was (is) much better than I imagined.

"Loser" - Beck
I spent the summer of 1995 in a villa with air conditioning, watching MTV (not smoking crack, thanks). That song was a kind of revelation about how to sell what seemed impossible to sell. And in a really funny way. In July 1997 I went to a Beck's gig in Dublin. Another beautiful summer.

"I Should Have Known" - Lonna Kelley
I think this is the CD I listen to the most often this summer. I discovered her music a couple of years ago, maybe less. My friend Fernando Vacas, who released this recording in Spain, gave me a copy. I usually don't pay attention to any CD which is given out for free. In this case, it would have been an awful mistake.

Sr. Chinarro (Official) | MySpace | Mushroom Pillow

Listen to “Los Angeles” MP3

Summer Tracks with Emil Svanängen of Loney, Dear

Loney, Dear (perennial favorite here at What's On The Hi-Fi) is the alter-ego of one-man band Emil Svanängen. To the uninitiated, Emil is a remarkably talented Swedish multi-instrumentalist (piano, clarinet, acoustic guitar...) and one hell of a songwriter. Emil has an uncanny ability to pair beautiful lyrical tales, which are at once sad and hopeful, with winsome and organic multi-instrumental pop -- an arresting and instantly appealing combination.

Don't miss the chance to catch Emil (and band) on an extensive North American tour this autumn (with a one-show stop in London on 10 September).

Also, look for the excellent track "Summers" from Loney, Dear on our inaugural and soon to be released podcast.

With summer (supposedly) upon us, Emil shares with us a few of his top tracks for the season.

"Du Och Jag" - Allan Edwall
Swedish actor singing his own songs.

"Bach Goes to Town" - Benny Goodman
What can I say.

"Unrequited" - Brad Mehldau
Amazing song, the peak is when he decides to switch hands and start playing a tenor melody while he plays a vast arpeggio in the right hand.

"Schlafenzeit" - Unknown, but probably played by Karolin Broosch.

Any solo by Per "Texas" Johansson (Swedish reed player).

Loney, Dear (Official) | MySpace

Listen to “Summers” MP3

What's On The Hi-Fi...Sébastien Schuller

Sébastien Schuller
Pias / Le Village Vert/Green United Music (2009)
Download: "Open Organ"
Sébastien Schuller's second album Evenfall is full of understated moments -- an impressive nuanced effort of restrained melodies. The Parisian's second release is decidely less electro-oriented than his debut "Happiness" and continues to reflect this occasional soundtrack composer's love of melancholy soundscapes.

is rather neatly divided into two parts, opening along more organic lines and then evolving to incorporate chilly synth beats and warped vocal effects. The stunner "Open Organ" builds determinedly on waves of strings and horns, and all the while Sebastien's vocals remain reservedly pitched, gradually walking you to the edge of Sebastien's lyrical cliff.

Following the sober ballad "The Border" and the wisp of a demi-psychadelic instrumental "New York", the second half of Evenfall changes direction slightly and sees Sébastien bringing muted glitchy beats and effects into the works. On the particularly strong track "Last Time", the plaintive vocals seem to be engaged in a clever game of tag with the backing track which only catches up as the song winds down, all finally collapsing to catch their collective breath. The album closer "High Green Grass", sees the album come full circle, returning to a more paired down vocal style and backing piano chords, slowly building on beats which are never allowed to dominate.

As an album, Evenfall awakens rewardingly over time and draws the listener in with its evocative and spectral beauty.

For the keen observer: you might recognize the sleeve's distinctive collage style from Agnes Montgomery, who also created the great piece "Pool Party" for the cover for Panda Bear's Person Pitch.

Sébastien Schuller(Official) | MySpace

Listen to “Open Organ” MP3

What's On The Hi-Fi...Little Boots

Little Boots
Elektra Records (2009)
Download: "Stuck On Repeat"
Released a month ago in the UK, Little Boots’ Illuminations EP made its stateside debut, and it shows itself to be an enjoyable and stimulating electro-pop indulgence. Much as there was a wave of white neo-soul singers coming from parts outside the U.S. to take over the pop scene in 2006 - think Winehouse, Adele, Duffy and others - a new neo-glam look and retro synth dance sound has emerged in the wake of Lady GaGa and Ladyhawke's popularity which includes the likes of La Roux and most recently Little Boots. Like the Brit-soul slingers before them, the gals following in this vein have a pleasant magnetism in their party girl with a brain tracks.

For Little Boots, a/k/a Victoria Christina Hesketh, much of the EP rides the line between Anita Ward’s classic "Ring My Bell" and Giorgio Moroder 80's synth sound. She shows a lot of style and panache throughout each offering with standouts coming on “Stuck On Repeat”, an impulsive sidewalk dance stomper, and “Magical” featuring a pure Trinere-esque early 90’s dance club beat.

This is not a serious album by any means, but it proffers a rewarding opportunity to relax and get into a party mood.

Little Boots(Official) | MySpace

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

What's On The Hi-Fi...Emanuel & The Fear

Emanuel & The Fear
Emanuel & The Fear (EP)
Ishlab Music (2009)
Download "Jimme's Song"
Brooklyn based Emanuel & the Fear is an 11-piece rock band led by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Emanuel Ayvas. Their sound concentrates its heart on weaving intelligent, ornately arranged and conceived songs, which linger and grow with each play.

The hook filled songs on their self-titled EP are dreamy and melodious exhibiting skilled musicianship, song crafting and in-depth lyrics reminiscent of Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens. “Rain Becomes The Clouds” develops from a simple hand-clap synth beat then weaves in pretty orchestral strings which rise up to meet horns and piano. All the while, Emanuel sings arms open,embracing all the sounds as they squeeze between his capable grasp. It’s a competition of sounds that bear a lovely tune.

The standout track on the set is “Jimme’s Song” a cool, shuffling corner blues track that builds and conquers in a Dylanesque foot-stomp call, “I don’t wanna do nothing but be in a rock. Don’t wanna get a job. Don’t wanna a be a man”. It's in this song we see the truest nature of Emanuel and the Fear. Smart, poetic, and lovely.

We look forward to hearing more tracks on their debut LP that they are currently recording.

Emanuel & The Fear (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Here We Go Magic

Here We Go Magic
Here We Go Magic
Western Vinyl (2009)
Download: "Tunnelvision"
Fronted by critical darling of the Seattle music scene Luke Temple, Brooklyn based Here We Go Magic's eponymously titled album is filled with facile playing, straight-forward melodies and simple yet redolent lyrics all of which culminate in a very solid and eclectic output that eases and rolls out of the hi-fi.

Here We Go Magic opens with "Only Pieces" driven by a lively, hypnotic electronic beat sequence that recalls African drums and rollicks in circles of cascading sounds added every few bars. "Ahab" brings to mind a mid-seventies Steve Miller Band track or Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness track with its slow, lilting synth style chilling under the Police era Sting whisper.

The standout on the album is "Tunnelvision" a bouncy tune that lives on a handclap, leg slap and guitar strum but holds your attention with the subtle voice overdubbing that builds throughout.

There are a few other tunes that might catch attention like "Fangela" but the whole album is filled with passion and attentive song crafting that makes every one of the nine songs a gem.

Here We Go Magic (Official) | MySpace

Villette Sonique Festival

The Villette Sonique festival is back on 27-31 May at Parc La Villette in Paris with an eclectic line-up of shows and events under this year's banner of "Mutant Drums".

Chicago noise rockers The Jesus Lizard opens the festival with Men Without Pants (Dan The Automator's project with Russel Simmins of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) at La Grande Halle de la Villette. The second night sees Atlanta's Black Lips and Krautrocker's Liars taking over the circus tent that is Cabaret Sauvage. On the 29th, NY minimal punk funk stalwarts Liquid Liquid are up with the Japanese rhythmic noise trio Nissenenmondai, and Goblin reinterpreting the soundtracks of cult composer Dario Argento.

Not to be missed are the free weekend outdoor shows on the park lawns with Deerhoof, Lightning Bolt, Syrian folkster Omar Souleyman, Dan Deacon & Ensemble and Ebony Bones. The festival's electro line-up is over two days and features the likes of Diplo, Ritchie Hawtin, Jesse Rose, Boy 8-Bit, and DJ Hell.

The festival also welcomes Sunn O))), Ariel Pink, Magda, Erna Omarsdottir, Extra Life, Tussle, Duchess Says, Monotonix, Gaiser and Barem.

As is the style (think Jarvis Cocker and his children's dance workshops earlier this month), Scratch Massive will be hosting an "introduction to electronic music and organic sampling" for the wee ones on the 30th.

Click for full lineup:

What's On The Hi-Fi...The Arch Cupcake

The Arch Cupcake
Box of Bees
Patriarch Recordings
Download: "Wasabi"
Over the past decade we have seen the rise and popularity of the crate-digger sect in alternative electronic music. Turntable helmers and knob twisters like DJ Meiso, Blockhead, DJ Shadow, R2DJ and Z-Trip have changed the way we think of sampling and have created a modern music style of their own. One that invades the borders of any musical genre that has a sound worth sampling. One newcomer has been making waves in this new musical pursuit. The Arch Cupcake is NYC native Frederick Sargolini, formerly of Ming+FS. He first hit the scene as a solo with his acclaimed Wash Out EP and has shown himself to be a talent to watch with his debut full-length.

On TAC's Box Of Bees, Sargolini mines beats, echoes and scratches like he invented them. They swerve and swirl around each other in an effortless blend of rhythm and time. Just take a listen to "No Dice" if you scoff. He also is a skilled beat boxer but doesn't limit himself to the cliched Doug E. Fresh model and adds a sexy seventies jazz vibe and some wickedly tight scratches to his version of the "The Human Beat Box." The standout track on the album is "Wasabi" a Mocean Worker like sixties go-go grind that oozes cool from its opening beat and continues with utra-sleek Hammond riffs.

Listen for Box of Bees to be on the hi-fi at the next Brooklyn BBQ your at or load it up and bring it yourself. It's guaranteed!


What's On The Hi-Fi...Art Brut

Art Brut
Art Brut vs. Satan
Downtown Records
'Download: "Slap Dash For No Cash"

Art Brut has been that odd band during these days of albums that are too polished but trying to be real and organic. Make no bones about it; this band has no interest in being Arcade Fire or TV On The Radio. I like both bands but thank God, warts and all, they are more like the Ramones, the Damned or Black Flag. After two really cool and fun albums, Bang Bang Rock & Roll and It’s a Bit Complicated, you might expect Eddy Argos and crew to flounder, but there is a truth and purity in their sound that is sorely missed in the modern alternative music landscape.

On Art Brut vs. Satan, produced by Frank Black of the Pixies, each track storms into sing along lyrics by Eddie Argos that are unabashedly self-effacing without being humiliated. Just kick back with a beer and a trashy rock magazine and fall in love with “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes.” Or have a laugh at U2 and Brian Eno’s overly earnest outputs on “Slap Dash For No Cash.” On “The Replacements” we are reminded just how late most of us got into Westerberg’s band.

No one is going to accuse the guys from Art Brut of tuning up or practicing their scales soberly all night. What you get on Art Brut vs. Satan is a full throttle rock and roll album performed like it’s supposed to be done. Soapbox available for any difference of opinion

Art Brut (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...St. Vincent

St. Vincent
4AD (2009)
Download: "The Strangers"

Born in Tulsa, but currently residing in Brooklyn. St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) attended the Berklee College of Music. She has played guitar for both Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree. Clark released her debut album, Marry Me, in 2007 for which she was nominated for three 2008 PLUG Independent Music Awards eventually taking home the prize for Female Artist of the Year.

With Actor, she has created a diverse, engaging album that initially seems sanguine but harbors some dark and foreboding elements in the music and lyrics. The opening track “The Strangers” perfectly illustrates her shadowy penchant. Beginning with the slow 1940’s MGM-styled orchestral arrangement, the song picks up a thumping beat and soon Clark’s fresh sounding voice floats into the mix. Finding yourself singing along to chorus of “paint the black hole blacker” is an odd feeling. It’s because her music sounds so mysterious and upbeat that it doesn’t devolve into the doldrums.

The album presents new gems throughout the life of its 11 songs. From “Save Me From What I Want” and its ubiquitous “watch yourself” in the background to the Cocteau Twins’ sound of “Laughing With A Mouth Full of Blood” to the slow, easy sounds of longing on “The Party”, St. Vincent’s song crafting and style makes you listen over and over and find beautiful corners to hide in and eavesdrop through the walls of this fine effort.

St. Vincent (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone
Vs. Children
Tomlab (2009)
Download: “Natural Light”

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, the one-man band also known as Owen Ashworth, has crafted a lush, evocative album on Vs. Children. Although there is a solemn tone that pops up throughout, Asworth’s vivid stories draw the listener into the simple beats and melodies and create a world of characters reminiscent of early Asylum era Tom Waits. The songs are filled with loss, betrayal and game players that are on the run or wish to getaway but can’t.

It is his love of film (Ashworth was a former film school student) that brings out the most interesting part of the album. With just a glance of the cover art with the bereted, blonde-bobbed Bonnie and the Model T Clyde in the background you get a foreshadowing of the early songs. On “Tom Justice” Ashworth tells the tell of a Dillinger-esque character that robs banks with a smile which segues perfectly in “Optimist vs. The Silent Word” which speaks of betrayal and ends with a humorous blending of the “Saints Come Marching In.”

From there, Ashworth unfastens his album to a broader landscape albeit with the same thematic tones of wayward Midwesterners. What makes the album work so well in the end are the lyrical style and the visual nature of his storytelling that lives in your head for hours after the first listen.

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone (Official) | MySpace

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

Friendly Fire (2009)
Download: “Hurts Me All The Time”
Recently the norm for electro-pop outputs has been to fall back on deceptive noise and feedback to add false depth to the songs. Canada’s Faunts have ably avoided these trappings and assembled a well crafted and toughtful album with Feel.Love.Thinking.Of.

The band was formed in Edmonton in 2000 by brothers Steven and Tim Batke. Their first offering was the well-received 2005 release High Expectations/Low Output. For gamers they are best known for their inclusion in the 2007 shoot em’ up Biowar.

On their latest effort, the band present listeners with a full sound complete with skilled musicianship, qualities that often get lost in the style-over-subtance electro-pop genre.

The album opens with the eponymous thumper “Feel.Love.Thinking.Of” and the Radiohead inspired “Input” and really hits its stride with the lovely pop sounds of “Hurts Me All The Time”, the 80’s synth-funk rocker “Out On A Limb” and the dreamy “Lights Are Always On.”

We see a noticeable shift towards krautrock on the Tangerine Dream tinged instrumental “Das Malefite” and a spare serving on the next few tracks.

Faunts’ Feel.Love.Thinking.Of is a strong album based in songwriting and good production. We look forward to hearing more from these Friendly Fires Recordings’ artist in the future.

Sidenote: Brooklyn based Friendly Fire Recordings is a label to watch with a stable that includes Asobi Seksu, Elk City and the Whitsundays.

Faunts (Official) | MySpace

Les Femmes S’en Mêlent Music Festival

Le festival musical itinérant Les Femmes S’en Mêlent entame sa douzième édition cette année !

Indie music festival Les Femmes s’en Mêlent (Women Mix It Up) kicks off this week on 16 April. Over its 2-week run, the festival will feature up-and-coming and established female-led acts with shows in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and England. Past acts have included the likes of Catpower, M.I.A., CSS, Metric, Feist and Peaches.

Juana Molina, Wildbirds and Peacedrums, Cranes, Tamara Williamson, Eleni Mandell, Telepathe, St. Vincent, Battant, Our Broken Garden, Scary Mansion and Frida Hyvönen are some of the acts confirmed for shows in Paris this year (unfortunately, Swedish singer / songwriter Jenny Wilson has had to cancel her shows in France).

Check the Les Femmes s’en Mêlent site for the full line-up:

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

Tight Knit
Bella Union / Sub Pop (2009)
Download: “Everyday”
Tight Knit, Vetiver’s first release on Sub Pop / Bella Union records, is a fine collection of melodic Americana, Southern-funk and hazy California folk.

Virginia native Andy Cabic fronts this San Francisco collective, which on the group’s debut release in 2004, saw Cabic collaborating alongside friends Colm O'Ciosoig (My Bloody Valentine), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), Devendra Banhart, and Joanna Newsom. The line-up has evolved and with the group’s fourth release, Cabis is joined by various compatriots including guitarist Kevin Barker, Sanders Trippe on guitar and vocals, drummer Otto Hauser, and bassist Brent Dunn.

Tight Knit neatly encapsulates and refines the various styles of Vetiver’s earlier releases and adds a lick of polish to songs which have been honed over many days out on the road. Recorded in Sacramento and LA, Tight Knit was produced by longtime Vetiver collaborator Thom Monahan, who maintains a light touch, allowing the pared down and nuanced essence of the tracks to gently unfold. A deeply rewarding listen.

Vetiver (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...The Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion
Self-Produced (January 2009)
Download: “Evacuate”
The Boxer Rebellion’s debut album Exits garnered justified critical success and led to slots opening for the likes of Keane and the Killers. In May of 2005 their label Poptones dropped the band. The band forged on and financed their own gigs, music production and enjoyed opening spots for Lenny Kravitz and Gary Numan.

With the release of their self-funded second album Union to the world in January 2009 the band have used their unencumbered status to craft a remarkable album that harkens back to early U2, Coldplay and The Doves.

From the first few bars of “Flashing Red Light Means Go” with its driving drum by Piers Hewitt and the sweet honey-tined voice of Nathan Nicholson you are drawn into a sweeping, glorious album. And make no mistake it is a full body of an album. One that is hard to find nowadays.

Much like U2 you can hear standout contributions from the whole band. Lead guitarist Todd Howe’s licks howl and wail in the wind, buoyed by Adam Harrison’s rock steady bass playing. Its American Nathan Nicholson and drummer Piers Hewitt who make you fall in love with the album. Nicholson’s vocals are inspired and you can’t help but feel Hewitt’s power on every beat.

Right now the album is available exclusively through iTunes and the lead single “Evacuate” peaked just behind King’s of Leon on the UK iTunes chart.

Call me hyperbolic but I could say now that this will be one of What’s On The Hi-Fi’s albums of the year come December. And we will definitely be watching out for The Boxer Rebellion for years to come.

The Boxer Rebellion (Official) | MySpace

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

The Brighton Port Authority
I Think We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Southern Fried Records (February 2009)

Download: “Island”

Seems every-time we are about to forget about Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) he creates a new window in your house. On The BPA’s I Think We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat, he does that and more with help from such varied help as David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Dizzee Rascal, Pete York and Martha Wainwright. Although the cast he surrounds himself with fly from one end of the room to the other ripping off ambient sweetness to punk-pop ska and 60’s era Motown soul the whole quality and catchiness of the songs make for really a fun listen.

There are highlights from everyone. iggy Pop’s “He’s Frank” wriggles and purrs like the coolest of cats. Wainwright’s ska tinged “Spade” felt like Dolly Parton in Kingston missing a lover. And of course who could forget the odd pairing of Byrne and London two-stepper Dizzee Rascal on “Toe Jam.” What makes the album so good is that its held together by fresh new sounds and samples provide by the truly underrated Cook. Get this album now! Try it on your friends. You will hear it back from them after their independent discovery a few months later and you can remember its tough to be a musichead!

The Brighton Port Authority (Official) | MySpace

What’s On The Hi-FI…Sin Fang Bous

Sin Fang Bous
Morr Music / Kimi Records (December 2008)

Download: “Catch the Light”

Sin Fang Bous, is the solo project of Rekjavik’s Sindri Mar Sigfusson, vocalist of the folk-pop collective Seabear.

In keeping with the quirkiness of many of his more well-known compatriots, the name of Sin’s project is said to be an invented muddle of a truncated version of his name, his teeth and the way his music sounds. Bless.

Clangour sees Sin sidling away from the mellow, folk-inspired sounds of Seabear to having a whale of time experimenting with all kinds of electronic and organic sounds. Gone are the compromises (and the shared accountability) of the group dynamic.

The result is an intricate and playful mix of often dense layers and electronic snippets, held together by Sin’s uplifting vocals and catchy refrains. The songs evoke images plucked from a child’s imagination, from the rhythm of cowboys on horseback (“Catch the Light”) to the twists and turns of a gripping whodunit (“Poirot”) -- all lovingly and patiently cobbled together in his dad’s basement.

The video for the first release from the album is for the track “Advent in Ives Garden”, directed by animator Kjartan þór Trainer.


What's On The Hi-Fi...Hush Arbors

Hush Arbors
Hush Arbors
Ecstatic Peace (2008)
Download: “Follow Closely”

Keith Wood and Leon Dufficy create an album that is a sweet and sometimes inspiring work of psych-folk. After glossing over the now tiresome (can’t anybody think of another free thinking folky father) Neil Young comparison, the duo really lift the arc of the sub-genre. On “Follow Closely” - easily the bands most accessible song - there is a confident, pulsing country rock vibe. Other standout tracks like “Sand” ripple with the same power and Wood’s vocals beam from a shy, untouched place. Although, this bunch don’t reinvent they pick and perfect with a quiet ease.

Hush Arbors (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Juana Molina

Juana Molina
Un Dia
Domino (October 2008)

It’s hard to fathom Juana Molina beginning her career as a comedic actress on Argentinian TV after listening to her new album Un Dia. Her electro-folk style is a refreshing blending of sweet lilting lyrics and harmonies with rich overdubbed guitar work. This is especially present on the eponymously titled lead single. The song, “Un Dia”, swirls and spins a dreamy web around Juana’s multi-layered vocal production causing a trance-like dervish effect to ensue.

After years circling her albums and hearing songs and buzz from Entertainment Weekly and best world music lists, it seems that we finally caught up with this elusive and charming talent. It was definitely worth the wait.

Juana Molina (Official) | MySpace

What's On The Hi-Fi...Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun
Empire of the Sun
EMI Australia / Virgin UK (2008 / 2009)
Download: “Walking On A Dream”

It has taken a bit of time for Australia’s Empire of the Sun to make their way to our fair shores here in Europe / US. Their debut release is a breezy blend of catchy clubby beats, high hats and falsetto choruses. The project sees Nick Littlemore of the sample-happy, electro-dance group Pnau collaborating with vocalist / guitarist Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson (whose album Lovers is still a favorite). Sure, Walking on a Dream is an indulgent and quirky exploration of disparate sounds that the duo have clearly been excited to try for some time, some attempts which they pull off with considerably more aplomb than others. That being said, the group’s sound is infectious polished pop in the MGMT / Phoenix vein.

The title track is a hook-laden highlight of when the project does meld, bringing together what each musician does best. The clip for the title song was filmed in Shanghai and provides yet another glimpse into the eccentric Mr. Steele.

Expect to be hearing a lot more about Empire of the Sun in 2009.

Walking On A Drea (Official) | MySpace

Listen to “Walking On A Dream (Remix)” MP3

Falkor Needs A Bath Atreyu...What's On The Hi-Fi with Futurecop!


The Unicorn & The Lost City of Alvograth
Beatport (2008)
Download: “Starworshipper”

In a mystical world, far off in our past and future, just passed Krull and The Never Ending Story the demon wizards of Futurecop! were spawned. These English lads channel the ghost of Limahl (that's not a bad thing) on most efforts and this time we find them stirring their pot of early 80's dance synth making a batch of surprisingly palatable groove potions. Let's hope that the lovely Ladyhawke from down under never starts an evil brood with these boys. My handblown glass unicorn set just might explode!


Listen to “Futurecop! Starworshipper” MP3

What’s On The Hi-Fi…Faded Paper Figures

Faded Paper Figures
Shorthand Records (January 2008)
Download: ‘North By North’
Existing between the lines of the coolness of Tahiti 80 and the energy of Electric President is Faded Paper Figures. Begun as a side-project by southern California students. John (vocals/guitars) and Kael (guitars/keys/machines) in Kael's apartment bedroom FPF found they hit paydirt almost immediately. Eventually Heather (additional vocals/keys) added some beguiling harmonies, and trio forged a brilliant blend of electronic and pop that radiates on every track of their debut album.

Faded Paper Figures (Official) | MySpace

Listen to “North By North” MP3

What's On The Hi-Fi…Welcome To The Welcome Wagon

The Welcome Wagon
Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
Asthmatic Kitty / Differ-Ant (December 2008)

Download: “Sold! To the Nice Rich Man”

Listening to the Welcome Wagon, I can’t help but be reminded of my third grade teacher Sister Tilly who kept a rather well loved poster of Rod Stewart secreted away in the classroom cupboard -- both are earnest in faith and charmingly left of center.

The Welcome Wagon are the Brooklyn-based duo of Vito Aiuto, a Presbyterian ordained minister, and his wife Monique (who, if the liner notes are to be believed, rather dauntingly “arouses tales of Puritan neatness, with sanguine maxims and beneficent characters”.

Their debut album is a mix of stomp and clap sing-alongs, many adapted from old time hymns, and a few covers including The Velvet Underground’s “Jesus”, and a slightly out of place version of the Smith’s “Half a Person”.

The couple swaps singing duties, and the homespun songs swell with banjos, brass, choirs, percussion and guitars, all under the careful production of friend and label mate Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan’s contributions (both production and musical) to the album are unmistakable and numerous, even to the point where it sounds, at times, like this effort could slot neatly into his own early catalogue.

Despite the project’s highly stylized persona, The Welcome Wagon offer up songs which affirm the couple’s passions, avoiding pretence and a heavy hand. A rare thing indeed.

Come On! Feel the Joy!


Listen to “Sold! To the Nice Rich Man” MP3