New Releases - 5.22.07

What is there to say about Voxtrot that has not been said already? It seems everyone loves Voxtrot, with good reason. They have taken everything good about Belle & Sebastian and made them into a more marketable, accessible band. Where B&S are simply too twee at times, Voxtrot is not afraid to rock out a bit. A favorite for me.

Voxtrot - Every Day

The Maccabees don't do much to stand out from other British rock bands at the moment, but they are still quite enjoyable and have been praised by NME & others. This song in particular struck me as super cute and sweet and not at all like The Arctic Monkeys or The Klaxons or whoever.

The Maccabees - Toothpaste Kisses

Featuring this album is cheating a little, since the album The Swell Season has been out for some time now and features several of the same songs. Together, Glen Hansard (of the Frames) and Markéta Irglová made an album that is so beautiful and full of emotion. The movie "Once" is now out in limited release and stars both Glen and Markéta. If you enjoy the duo of Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, be prepared to fall in love with Glen and Markéta.

Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová - Falling Slowly

Other honorable mentions for today:

Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long (80s flavored pop)
Erasure - Light At The End Of The World (still-doesn't-compare-to-The-Innocents dance pop)
The National - Boxer (too-dreary-for-me rock)
The Bravery - The Sun And The Moon (no-longer-synth-band upbeat rock)
Meg Baird - Dear Companion (traditional-sounding folk)

Sinful Sunday: Gabrielle

I think I'm going to start a new feature called "Sinful Sunday". I don't really believe in music as a "guilty pleasure" because I honestly don't feel ashamed for any of the music I like. But that said, I think it would be good to have a place to put songs that are purely for fun. Nothing deep or intellectual. And what better artist to feature for my first "Sinful Sunday" than British pop star Gabrielle? I first heard Gabrielle back in middle school. I went to London in '94 and came back obsessed with everything British. I bought Smash Hits magazine every time my parents would drive me to Tower Books. I am pretty sure that is how I was first exposed to Gabrielle's music. I do remember that I listened to the song "Dreams" hundreds of times. I still think it is a brilliant song. It only reached number 26 on the U.S. charts but broke records in the UK as the highest chart entry for a new female artist. I didn't think about Gabrielle for a long time, until finding her album Rise in a bargain bin several years ago. I have no qualms admitting that I have listened to it dozens of times since. I was reminded of it yesterday when I heard "Falling" whilst shopping in PetSmart. Gabrielle has a droopy eyelid so she is often seen wearing an eye patch, which makes her even more kickass in my book. She also wears sunglasses or sports a hair do that covers her eye. I read that she covered "Driftwood" by Travis and so I am on a mission to find her version of it. Her music is so perfect for a relaxing, sunny day by the pool. It is soulful pop music at its best. Her cover of Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" is absolutely lovely too. Sometimes the U.S. just doesn't get it when it comes to good pop music. Actually, make that most of the time.

Gabrielle - Dreams (From 1993's Find Your Way)
Gabrielle - Falling (From 2000's Rise)
Gabrielle - Give Me A Little More Time (From 2001's Dreams Can Come True: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1)
Gabrielle - Walk On By (From 2001's Dreams Can Come True: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: Special Edition)

RIYL: Janet Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Lisa Stansfield, Diana Ross

Dawn Landes

A few people have posted about Dawn Landes covering Peter Bjorn & John's "Young Folks". The You Tube video has already been viewed over 18,000 times. I first heard the song without seeing the video and so I kept wondering why she added the annoying backing vocalists. Now I realize they are "Old Folks"... Cute. The first time I heard Dawn's music was during the movie Winter Passing. Her cover of "Young Folks" is a nice novelty track and will hopefully introduce more people to her music. She is originally from Louisville, KY but currently resides in NYC where she is a recording engineer for artists like Hem, Joseph Arthur and Ryan Adams. She is a multi-instrumentalist; she's got skills playing the accordion, glockenspiel, optigan & more. These are the two songs that were featured on the Winter Passing soundtrack.

Dawn Landes - The Kissing Song
Dawn Landes - You Alone

RIYL: Hem, Beth Orton, Joanna Newsom, Cat Power

The Young Republic

I've been meaning to write about The Young Republic for some time now, but just never got around to it (oh yes, the most common fib by blogger-types!). I was reminded of them because they were in town last night for a show at The 5 Spot and an in-store at Grimey's. I didn't go to either because I wanted to stay in... You'd think I was 60 instead of 26. Anyway, I first read about the band over on Another Form of Relief. I didn't immediately listen to the songs, but when I did, I think iTunes was just set on random. I heard the song "Modern Plays" and immediately checked to see the name of the band. Then I went to their website and turns out I worked at Tower Records (RIP) with the band's lead singer and main songwriter, Julian Saporiti, who was likely just in high school at the time. I only worked at Tower one day a week (mainly for the discounts!), so I only vaguely knew him and I doubt he'd remember me. Regardless, I definitely enjoy the band's Mozart/Debussy influenced Beatles-meets-Belle-and-Sebastian style of music. According to their site, they formed one day in the cafeteria during freshman year at Berklee in Boston. You can find more MP3s on their official site. The chorus to "Blue Skies" sounds eerily similar to "New Slang" by The Shins. You can get the 7-inch single here or purchase their full length albums here.

The Young Republic - Modern Plays
The Young Republic - Blue Skies
The Young Republic - Girl In A Tree

Bonus! The Daily Growl has a live set from the WOXY Lounge.

RIYL: Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Arcade Fire, Voxtrot

New Releases - 5.15.07

I feel like Trading Twilight for Daylight is one of those albums I will revisit many times and always discover something new with each listen. The songs are densely layered pop... I love that they aren't afraid to have this big melodic sound with big arrangements and big epic choruses!

Great Northern - Our Bleeding Hearts

The Avett Brothers are like a punk band that has been transported back in time to the days of Uncle Dave Macon. They make old-timey music that somehow sounds contemporary. They are hard to categorize but I'd recommend them to fans of Old Crow Medicine Show and the like.

The Avett Brothers - Will You Return?

Tom McRae consistently releases excellent singer/songwriter folk rock, and somehow goes mostly unnoticed. King of Cards is his fourth album, and it is a must buy for fans of Travis, Badly Drawn Boy and Ed Harcourt. His voice is unique, at times you might mistake him for a girl.

Tom McRae - Bright Lights

Other honorable mentions for today:

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (alt-country again)
Rufus Wainwright - Release the Stars (cabaret pop)
Pink Martini - Hey Eugene (worldly jazzy pop)
Dungen - Tio Bitar (Swedish psychedelic rock)
The Horrors - Strange House (snarling garage)

Land of Talk

I hate when I find out about a band long after everyone else. But I guess better late than never, right? I have a tendency to judge bands by their name, thinking "oh that sounds like some new generic blog-rock band" and then I'll assume that they will be forgotten in a months time. I remember hearing the name Land of Talk but never took a chance to listen to the actual songs. What a mistake! Elizabeth Powell's vocals have been described as "snotty yet sensitive at the same time". Their mini-album Applause Cheer Boo Hiss takes the "riot-grrl" attitude and melds it with the best indie sounds of late. Loads of fun... I can't wait to hear a proper album from them!

Land of Talk - Magnetic Hill
Land of Talk - Speak To Me Bones

Bonus! Chromewaves has a live set from the WOXY Lounge.

RIYL: Metric, Tegan & Sara, The Cardigans, PJ Harvey, Cat Power

The Cinematic Orchestra

I wrote about Patrick Watson about a month ago, and now he has reappeared for an absolutely breaktaking collaboration with The Cinematic Orchestra. I've never been much into "ambient" or "chillout" music, which is what The Cinematic Orchestra is generally filed under... But their new album Ma Fleur reaches outside of that genre and should appeal to a much broader audience. The album was written as a "soundtrack" to an imaginary film and each song has a coordinating photo. This song, in particular, is heartbreakingly beautiful.

The Cinematic Orchestra (feat. Patrick Watson) - To Build a Home (Radio Edit)

RIYL: Magnet, Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley, Tom McRae

Mother Mother

It seems Canadian band Mother Mother has been stumping a lot of people lately. No one can figure out what genre they belong to. I'm going to classify them as pop, simply because their music is fun and upbeat and playful. But it is completely wacky pop with elements of bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, punk and in certain songs even mariachi and hip-hop (yes, really). By reading a description of this band, I would have guessed that I would have hated it. On paper, it sounds like music that is just too eccentric for its own good (probably my least favorite kind of music). But after listening to the entire album, I am definitely a fan. Yes, it is out there, but it's also somehow accessible and infectious. Their debut album, Touch Up, is out now on Last Gang Records.

Mother Mother - Polynesia
Mother Mother - Oh Ana

RIYL: The Ditty Bops, The White Stripes, Old Crow Medicine Show, Regina Spektor

New Releases - 5.8.07

My first reaction when hearing this song was "THE MONKEES!". I'm sure this wasn't the intended response, but honestly Alasdair Maclean sounds just like Davy Jones here. The album is very Beatles-esque, and yet also very 70s/AM easy listening too. Recorded in Nashville with Lambchop's Mark Nevers.

The Clientele - Here Comes the Phantom

I don't see how anyone could dislike Travis. Maybe you don't love them, but you can't hate them. The Boy With No Name is Travis doing what they do best. Lovely, melodic rock with Fran Healy's sweet Scottish accent making you swoon... Perfect for lazy summer days.

Travis - Sailing Away (Bonus Track)

Alsace Lorraine released their second album today after a six years. On this album, Chicagoan Paul Franke pairs up with Argentinian illustrator Isol. The result is a breezy, quiet album that brings to mind a soundtrack from a 1980s John Hughes movie.

Alsace Lorraine - Call For Papers (Ian Catt Mix)

Other honorable mentions for today:

Keren Ann - Keren Ann (sexy French vocals)
Bjork - Volta (you know, Bjork)
Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love (Joanna Newsom-lite)
Page France - And The Family Telephone (whimsical indie)
Maxïmo Park - Our Earthly Pleasures (solid Britpop)

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles

It has been a long time since I've been hit so quickly by a new artist. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the new album from Sarah Borges, and I have already listened to it four times today. I feel like I've been featuring a ton of female artists recently but if you only listen to one, make it this one! This is not your typical "chick-music". Sarah is based in Boston and actually has a day job in the admissions office at Berklee School of Music... I would say not for much longer, though. Her new album Diamons in the Dark is set for release on Sugar Hill Records on June 12th. It's like rockabilly and blues and country and americana and punk all mixed together and I just cannot get enough of it. Sarah's voice is raw and sweet all at the same time. I guarantee that after one listen to the first single "The Day We Met," you will feel forced to listen to it on repeat at least twenty times. At least that's what I did.

Sarah Borges - The Day We Met
Sarah Borges - Belle of the Bar

RIYL: Lucinda Williams, Sarah Harmer, Maria McKee, Lori McKenna, Kasey Chambers


The 1990s are a ridiculously fun new band out of Glasgow. Do not listen if you are looking for something serious or life-altering. With lyrics like "You are my boogaloo, you wear my favorite shoes," you wouldn't expect anything more than the silly ear candy that it is. They also have a song titled "Hayley Mills" which makes them even more awesome in my book. Bernard Butler of Suede produced their debut album, which is titled Cookies and will be released on Rough Trade this coming Monday in the UK.

1990s - See You At The Lights

RIYL: Franz Ferdinand, The Yummy Fur, The Pigeon Detectives, The Boo Radleys, Mando Diao

Lay Low

I just sat through a horrid episode of Grey's Anatomy (I feel like I was totally duped into watching a crap pilot episode of "Addison's New Life In LA"). Not sure why I bother with the show anymore, but it comes on after The Office, so it's convenient, at least. Anyway, I was reminded of my discovery from an incredible trip to Iceland over New Year's (please, just go, if you ever have the chance!) - Lovisa Elisabet Sigrunardottir, better known as Lay Low. I had to be really careful about buying CDs in Iceland, because they were around $25 with the exchange rate. I only bought two: this one and the new release from Ampop. Lay Low won the award for Best Female Artist in the 2006 Icelandic Music Awards, for her debut album Please Don't Hate Me. So, now, thanks to Grey's Anatomy, despicable or not, millions have been introduced to "Iceland's Answer to Cat Power". There is something endearing and simple and just plain lovely about her music. It will always remind me of being scared for my life, driving in a Toyota Yaris rental, on icy roads in the middle-of-nowhere Iceland.

Lay Low - Home
Lay Low - I'll Try

Visit the ultimate Icelandic Music shop, Smekkleysa, to buy her album and for a free download of her song "Boy Oh Boy".

RIYL: Cat Power, Neko Case, Jolie Holland, Feist

Candie Payne

Candie Payne was pretty much destined to go into music, with one brother in The Zutons and another in the (sadly) defunct band The Stands. She was born in Liverpool, but raised in NYC, then moved back to the UK for her teens. She makes stylish, jazzy "pop-noir" in the style of 60's spy movie soundtracks. She looks just like Françoise Hardy, don't you think? Her debut album I Wish I Could Have Loved You More is set to be released on May 21st in the UK on Deltasonic.

Candie Payne - All I Need To Hear
Candie Payne - I Wish

RIYL: Dusty Springfield, Nancy Sinatra, Cilla Black, Amy Winehouse, St. Etienne

New Releases - 5.1.07

I don't generally feature country music on this blog, but this one deserves attention! With her third album, Balls, Elizabeth Cook could come off as a novelty act but she's just so cute and sincere that it works. Check out her live show, which is straight up honky tonk, complete with clogging.

Elizabeth Cook - Times Are Tough In Rock 'N Roll

Protest Hill is the softer side project of RFK Heise, the band leader for System and Station. I have not heard the entire album yet, but if the single "Hopeful" is indicative of the rest then I am sure I will enjoy it. (Hint: It would help if it was available on iTunes or eMusic!)

Protest Hill - Hopeful

If Elizabeth Cook is today's Loretta Lynn, then The Puppini Sisters are today's Andrews Sisters. The Pipettes took on the 60s and The Puppini Sisters have taken on the 1930s. The result is fun and refreshing and brings to mind the golden days of radio. Makes you nostalgic for a time you never even knew.

The Puppini Sisters - Sisters

Other honorable mentions for today:

Feist - The Reminder (most-blogged-about-yet-deservedly-so-album ever)
Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (fiesty country)
Tori Amos - American Doll Posse (Tori-album-for-those-who-don't-care-for-Tori)
BRMC - Baby 81 (catchy classic rock)
Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position (imaginative pop)