When I first heard this song by Fried, I thought that it sounded eerily similar to Gabrielle (a guilty pleasure of mine who I posted about several months ago). Then I did some research and found out that she was discovered by David Steele (formerly of the 80's group Fine Young Cannibals), who produced Gabrielle's first album. It seems he was looking to recreate that success with Jonte Short, a young singer from New Orleans. This song is retro-soul at its best. It makes me wonder whatever happened to Lauryn Hill?

Fried - I'll Be There

RIYL: Jill Scott, Macy Gray, Lauryn Hill, Gladys Knight, Gabrielle

New Releases - 7.24.07

Over 400,000 people viewed Dutch band Alamo Race Track's video for "Black Cat John Brown" on YouTube, and millions more heard the song on Grey's Anatomy. Comparisons I've heard so far: "early Radiohead with pizzicato strings", "Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips with The Strokes", and "slap-happy Peter, Bjorn John".

Alamo Race Track - Kiss Me Bar

I am pretty much in love with anything retro, and even more so when it is authentically retro like Nicole Willis and her Soul Investigators. Miss Willis is Brooklyn born and the Investigators are from Finland. Who knew Fins could be so funky?!

Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators - A Perfect Kind Of Love

"Spanish Teeth" was one of my favorite songs of 2005, so I was happy to hear that Robbers on High Street had a new album out. Grand Animals is less Spoon sounding, and more heavily Beatles-esque. Their sound is bigger and better this time around - I'm really digging it.

Robbers on High Street - You Don't Stand A Chance

Other honorable mentions for 7.24.07:

Tegan & Sara - The Con (their best yet!)
The Lovemakers - Misery Loves Company (80s leaning pop)
Tiny Vipers - Hands Across The Void (sparse folk)
Bishop Allen - The Broken String (indie must-have)
The Manchester Orchestra - I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child (grandoise punk/pop)
John Vanderslice - Emerald City (indie-rock singer/songwriter)

New Releases - 7.17.07

Josh Rouse proves yet again that he is incapable of making a bad album with his 7th full length Country Mouse City House. Don't expect any big changes in his sound, though. Still the irresistible country-tinged pop/rock we have grown to expect from Josh. It seems moving to Spain from Nashville was a good move for him.

Josh Rouse - London Bridges

A Fine Frenzy is the stage name of L.A.'s Alison Sodul. She has a lot going for her: she has celebrity friends (Selma Blair), she is drop dead gorgeous, she's currently on tour with Rufus Wainwright, but most importantly her music is like a fascinating mix of Fiona Apple, Kelly Clarkson, and... Coldplay?

A Fine Frenzy - The Minnow & The Trout

Teddy Thompson (son of folk royalty Linda & Richard Thompson) heard a lot of country music growing up in a commune in England, and so it stood to reckon that he might make a country album one day. His voice has a pure folk sound, but somehow still works on these songs (all covers, except for one). "My Blue Tears" is a Dolly Parton tune.

Teddy Thompson - My Blue Tears

Other honorable mentions for 7.17.07:

Rooney - Calling The World (retro rock)
The Rocket Summer - Do You Feel (Hanson-if-they-were-a-Christian-emo-band-so-why-the-hell-do-I-like-it?)
The Honorary Title - Untouched and Intact (near perfect pop/punk)
The Magic Numbers - Those The Brokes (modern Mamas & Papas)
Eilen Jewell - Letters From Sinners & Strangers (less gritty Lucinda)
The Cribs - Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever (edgier Franz)

The Electric Cinema

The Electric Cinema is a four piece band based in London and headed up by siblings Dan and Rebecca Neale. They have been accused of being merely a rip off of other bands out there (yet aren't they all? Just some more obviously than others). And yes, they do sound eerily similar to The Flaming Lips. But I might label this "Flaming Lips Lite" because you don't have to be a fan of their swirling psychedelics to enjoy this. I also feel very guilty for being so judgmental, and almost not listening to this band because of the horrid haircut on the one female in the band. All four of them just have this contrived rock star look, when I'm sure they are all ten times more attractive in their normal look and clothes. I am glad I gave it a go though, because I have really been enjoying this album as background music. The only thing that gets old for me is the distorted guitars that are inevitable around the time each song gets about three quarters of the way in. I give the band the benefit of the doubt, though, because I read somewhere that these songs were created as a soundtrack to their old Super-8 home movies. I selfishly hope that their next album will be less Flaming Lips sound-alike, and more of the sweet and laid back pop sound that I prefer. I feel like I haven't said anything positive about this record but honestly, I do like it! At its best, their music sounds like a modern day Prefab Sprout.

Electric Cinema - I Could Know All Of You
Electric Cinema - Heat Exchange

RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Coldplay, Death Cab For Cutie, Grandaddy

Noah and the Whale

I have meaning to post about this band for such a long time now, because I do believe I have listened to their song "Rocks and Daggers" at least four dozen times by now. I must admit I am generally very impatient when it comes to songs. I like to be drawn in very quickly and I usually never get into bands that require "repeated listens". But luckily I kept an open ear with this one, because it starts out slow and slightly boring... Then the violin kicks in round the two-minute mark and hooks me. Thirty seconds later, Emmy the Great adds backing vocals and you can't stop me from smiling and singing along. Even when you think the song ends - twice - it starts back up and you are hooked again. I don't even know what to compare it to because it is like some kids got hold of some sticks and boxes and maybe a xylophone and tried to make traditional English folk music.

Noah and the Whale - Rocks and Daggers

RIYL: Jens Lenkman, Emmy The Great, Laura Marling

New Releases - 7.10.07

This Michigan band was a very pleasant recent discovery for me. Very Decemberists-esque folk rock. Somehow I feel like I've heard all these songs before, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. It's easy on the ears, but never boring.

Great Lakes Myth Society - Midwest Main Street

Oh, sweet troubadour boy... You are such a weakness of mine. The more fragile and precious you are, the better. This album has been out in the UK for some time now, but was just released in the US. Fans of Damien Rice, Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley... Prepare to swoon.

Fionn Regan - The Underwood Typewriter

So, it seems Seattle's Josh Hodges has started going by the moniker "Sexton Blake," maybe because he is ashamed of recording a Milli Vanilli song under his real name? But regardless, I am a sucker for well done cover songs and he has made me happy with an entire album full of them.

Sexton Blake - Bette Davis Eyes

Other honorable mentions for 7.10.07 (so many!! heaven!):

Crowded House - Time On Earth (stunning dream-pop)
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (loads of fun)
Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (disappointment mostly)
Justice - Cross (massive dance party)
St. Vincent - Marry Me (eccentric piano pop)
BOAT - Let's Drag Our Feet (left-of-center indie)
Look Mexico - This Is Animal Music (the-good-kind-of-emo)

Taken By Trees

June 18th saw the release of ex-Concretes lead singer Victoria Bergsman's solo project, Taken By Trees. The album, Open Field, is much more subdued and melancholy than most songs by The Concretes, but still has a lovely quiet feel to it. You can just picture a Volkswagen commercial with a cute yuppie couple driving along in the rain, or possibly stopping for a picnic. Many folks know Victoria as the female counterpart on Peter, Bjorn and John's blog-famous "Young Folks". Her voice is an instrument in itself, with the cutesy phrasing and accent.

Taken By Trees - Lost and Found
Taken By Trees - Too Young

RIYL: Camera Obscura, Hello Saferide, The Concretes, Lucky Soul

BONUS! I will also share my favorite songs from The Concretes when Victoria was a part of the band... "Reverberation" sounds closest to her work in Taken By Trees.

The Concretes - Seems Fine (From 2004's The Concretes)
The Concretes - On The Radio (From 2006's In Colour)
The Concretes - Song For The Songs (From 2006's In Colour)
The Concretes - Reverberation (B-side from 2006's The Chosen One single)

The Concretes have since gone on without Victoria to make Hey Trouble, which is decent in its own right, but pales next to the songs that had Victoria's trademark vocals. For your comparison:

The Concretes - Keep Yours (From 2007's Hey Trouble)

New Releases - 7.3.07

[Note: You'll have to click on these links... No right click, save as... Filexoom and Fileden are not being friendly lately. Any suggestions?]

Sara Bareilles makes lovely, accessible singer/songwriter piano pop a la Rachel Yamagata or Anna Nalick. I have to admit I have a soft spot for a female singers with pianos, even though I know that's not cool to admit. Even cheesy, cliche lyrics can't scare me away.

Sara Bareilles - Love Song

Every week, I have a new favorite rock band from the UK. Air Traffic is it for this week. Although I do have that soft spot for female singer/songwriters, my soft spot for cute English boys is probably twice as big. Mix Coldplay, The Feeling, and Kaiser Chiefs and you have Air Traffic.

Air Traffic - Shooting Star

Album releases were pathetic this week. So, I'm going to cheat a little and feature the new single from Iron & Wine. I love Sam Beam because he appeals to everyone - both snobby hipsters and casual music fans. His new album (to be released Sept. 25) is supposed to be more "upbeat" so I am anxious to hear it.

Iron & Wine - Boy With A Coin

No honorable mentions for today. Sad.