Astrid Swan

Astrid Swan hails from Finland, and can ease the anxiety for you as you wait for the new Feist record to hit stores tomorrow. She is quirky and sweet at the same time, and I have been enjoying her debut album Poverina. Her bio seems it necessary to mention that "Astrid Swan is not heavy metal". I am wondering if this disclaimer is needed, if possibly there is a disproportionate ratio of heavy metal to non-heavy metal music coming out of Finland. The name Astrid Swan does not strike me as a metal-head kind of name, like Masters of Destruction or similar. But indeed, she is not heavy metal, which is a good thing for me and hopefully you.

Astrid Swan - Rock 'n Roll Blonde
Astrid Swan - They Need You If They Think You Love Them
Astrid Swan - When You Were Young (The Killers cover)

RIYL: Imogen Heap, Bjork, Emiliana Torrini, Regina Spektor, Feist


Polytechnic are a Manchester five-piece band, who sound somewhat similar to The Shins if they happened to be British, but slightly more poppy and fun. They released a few singles, to good reviews, and their debut album Down Til Dawn will be released on April 30th in the UK. They have already opened for Keane and Doves, so I am expecting this band to be big soon. "Won't You Come Around" is a lovely, jangly pop tune and I can't make myself stop listening to it. I keep reading about comparisons to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but I don't particularly care for that band and I love Polytechnic, so decide for yourself!

Polytechnic - Won't You Come Around

RIYL: The Shins, Kaiser Chiefs, The Wombats, Bombay Bicycle Club

Erin McKeown

Erin McKeown is often lumped into the whole late 90s folk scene, but her music is less folk and more quirky jazzy cabaret pop. She does not own a TV. She is a multi-instrumentalist and she has a degree in ethnomusicology from Brown. She is possibly my hero. I heard this song while trying on clothes in Macy's the other day, and realized We Will Become Like Birds is the one of her albums I don't own, which I quickly rectified. This song is perfect for this time of year, when you stop using the heat in your car, and you can keep the windows open at home instead of using A/C. Also, check out her most recent album Sing You Sinners, which is a truly swinging set of cover tunes from the 30s, 40s and 50s. She sounds like a modern day Judy Garland on her version of "Get Happy".

Erin McKeown - Beautiful (I Guess)

RIYL: Eleni Mandell, Madeleine Peyroux, Jenny Owen Youngs, The Be Good Tanyas

New Releases - 4.24.07

The most recent album by The Go Find is noticeably less "electro" with more guitar and less synth. The result is a lovely, laid back album somewhere between Iron & Wine and The Postal Service. Listen to the album as background music, you will find yourself instantly less stressed.

The Go Find - Dictionary

I feel a bit left out because I only recently discovered Mando Diao. They have been described as "Sweden's answer to The Strokes". Their sound is retro rock and roll straight out of 1960s England. If you find the Arctic Monkeys just a tad too rowdy, try this instead.

Mando Diao - The Wildfire (If It Was True)

"The Wild Son" from The Veils' debut album The Runaway Found was one of my favorite songs of 2004 (possibly the best Smiths song not by The Smiths). Their follow up Nux Vomica is a bit wilder and moodier but still full of big epic songs, and it was definitely worth the wait.

The Veils - Miles

Other honorable mentions for today:

Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55 (dreamy French pop)
The Electric Soft Parade - No Need To Be Downhearted (perfect indie-pop)
The Arctic Monkeys - Favorite Worst Nightmare (energetic British punk rock)
Various Artists - A Tribute To Joni Mitchell (worth it for the Prince cover)
Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band - EP (less-freaky-than-usual folk)

Lullaby Baxter

I distinctly remember buying the debut album from Lullaby Baxter Trio. It was in the bargain bin at a used record store for ninety nine cents. I was so intriqued by the cover, and the song titles, and really everything about it, that I couldn't imagine not spending the ninety nine cents to find out what in the world it might sound like. It was like a circus, set to jazzy cabaret sounds. I had completely forgotten about the album, until I read somewhere that she had released a follow up. Capable Egg was almost too quirky for its own good, but Garden Cities of To-morrow fits a good many more occasions. If you like Norah Jones, but wish she had more personality, then you would enjoy this album. As for the six years between albums, Lullaby Baxter spent time waitressing, fell in love with a painter, had a baby named Lorenzo Wolfgang, and wrote a manifesto.

Lullaby Baxter - Rattled Little Clam (From 2006's Garden Cities of To-morrow)
Lullaby Baxter Trio - Knucklehead (from 2000's Capable Egg)

RIYL: Nouvelle Vague, Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones, Aimee Mann, Nellie McKay

The Minor Canon

The Minor Canon is the seven piece project from LA-based Paul Larsen. I am a huge sucker for trumpets, so I immediately loved their debut album No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Imagine Death Cab, with less emo lyrics, more piano, and a big horn section. Not to mention, it holds a special place in my heart because Paul's manager was the first person to email me about my blog!

Trivia: The album Give Up by The Postal Service was recorded almost entirely at Paul Larsen's house. The movie Heathers was also written at his house (crazy!).

The Minor Canon - It Never Was

RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, Hotel Lights, Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos

New Releases - 4.17.07

The Chrysler make pretty indie pop in the style of Kings of Convenience, Loney Dear and Peter Bjorn & John. I just recently discovered their music, although this album was actually recorded back in 2004 in a little yellow cabin in Sweden. The US version was released today with five bonus tracks.

The Chrysler - Dear Dad

Keep Your Silver Shined is the first new album from Devon Sproule since 2003's Upstate Songs. It only improves on her previous work. I'd compare her to Rose Polenzani, with her jazz & appalachian tinged folk music. This particular song is very reminiscent of Kami Lyle, who kind of dropped of the face of the earth?

Devon Sproule - Let's Go Out

I can't say I had heard of Joshua English (or his previous band Six Going on Seven) until today. His first solo album Trouble None is certainly fun and catchy and does the two minute rambunctious pop song thing better than most. Apparently his days in a Boston punk band served him well, but now he has calmed down (a little).

Joshua English - Miles

Other honorable mentions for today:

The Noisettes - What's The Time Mr. Wolf (if-Jack-White-were-British-and-a-girl rock)
Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing (guilty pleasure)
The Cowboy Junkies - At the End of Paths Taken (haunting americana)
The Old Soul - ST (silly fun indie)
The Clorox Girls - J'Aime Les Filles (French rock)

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson has that gorgeous Jeff-Buckley-esque soprano. He sounds almost identical to Jeff, but that does not bother me at all. His music is still amazingly beautiful and worthwhile in its own right. Patrick Watson is actually the name of a band, fronted by (you guessed it) Patrick Watson. He was born in California but grew up in Canada, and is one of the brightest names in the Montreal music scene at the moment. "The Great Escape" has already found itself onto Grey's Anatomy but don't let that stop you from downloading.

Patrick Watson - Luscious Life
Patrick Watson - The Great Escape

RIYL: Jeff Buckley, Ed Harcourt, Coldplay, Andrew Bird

She's Spanish, I'm American

I've been a fan of Josh Rouse's music for almost ten years... It baffles me as to why he is not a bigger name outside of Nashville. He moved to Spain a few years ago, and met his current lady friend Paz Suay. They made a cute little EP together titled She's Spanish, I'm American, and are now touring the US together. I'm going to see him in Louisville tonight with my two best friends. We needed an excuse to get out of town, and seeing Josh Rouse seemed like a perfect plan.

She's Spanish, I'm American - Car Crash

If you haven't heard of Josh Rouse before, do yourself a favor and buy any one of his lovely records. He makes the best singer/songwriter fare you will find these days. Most of his songs are produced by Brad Jones, who adds his trademark sound (gorgeous, lush arrangements). Here is a "sampler" to get you started:

Josh Rouse - Dressed Up Like Nebraska (From 1998's Dressed Up Like Nebraska)
Josh Rouse - Laughter (From 2000's Home)
Josh Rouse - Feeling No Pain (From 2002's Under Cold Blue Stars)
Josh Rouse - 1972 (From 2003's 1972)
Josh Rouse - Sad Eyes (From 2004's Nashville)
Josh Rouse - It Looks Like Love (From 2006's Subtitlo)

RIYL: Ryan Adams, Wilco, Pete Yorn, Josh Ritter

Lucky Soul

I have recently fallen in love with six piece British pop group Lucky Soul. I keep reading about comparisons to The Pipettes, and even though I adore The Pipettes, I feel that they are much more of a novelty band. The sound of Lucky Soul is sugary sweet 60s styled pop, and they do it so perfectly that many of their songs sound as if they could have actually been recorded in 1965. I keep thinking of the song "Then He Kissed Me" by The Crystals (remember that scene in Adventures in Babysitting?). I think The Great Unwanted will be the album of the summer for me. Head to their official site to download acoustic versions of "One Kiss Don't Make A Summer" and "The Last Song".

Lucky Soul - One Kiss Don't Make A Summer
Lucky Soul - Give Me Love (b-side to "My Brittle Heart")

RIYL: The Pipettes, The Bird & The Bee, Phil Spector, The Cardigans, The Sundays


I just stumbled across this band today. Their 5th and most recent album The Kiss was a featured "Editor's Choice" pick on the homepage. They are based in California and do the whole sunny-sounding, Beatles-esque 60s rock thing. It's just indie enough for hipsters, and just accessible enough for the rest of us.

Bikeride - Hideaways
Bikeride - Our Lips Are Sealed (Go-Go's cover)

RIYL: Beulah, The Perishers, Youth Group

New Releases - 4.10.07

I think that Limbeck does The Old 97's better than The Old 97's do it these days. They make catchy, jangly rock with a definite country twang. I have heard Limbeck described as a country version of The Format, to which I wouldn't disagree. A must for fans!

Limbeck - Wake Up

Laura Veirs has such a non-descript voice (reminiscent of Suzanna Vega) but still her music draws me in. She takes her folk songs and adds some synthesizer loops and the result sounds like a female Death Cab for Cutie (meant as a compliment).

Laura Veirs - Don't Lose Yourself

This album has actually been out since 2005, but just saw an official release to stores today. It is easy to compare Jenny Owen Youngs to Erin McKeown, because their voices are fairly similar and both have a tendency towards cabaret styled folk/pop. But she definitely has her own unique sound. Regina Spektor fans should enjoy her songs.

Jenny Owen Youngs - From Here

Other honorable mentions for today:

CocoRosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (freak folk)
Blonde Redhead - 23 (art rock)
Guster - Satellite EP (bongo rock)
Cloud Cult - The Meaning of 8 (out-there indie)
The Rosebuds - Night of the Furies (sounds-British-but-not rock)


When I heard that Martina Sorbara had started a pop group, I knew I would have to check it out. The last I heard of her was back in 2002 when I used to play songs from her debut album The Cure for Bad Deeds on my college radio show. I played mostly folk music a la Dar Williams (you can laugh). Martina's solo album is definitely folky, but still holds up for me today because of the strength of her voice. She sounded like a happy Ani DiFranco. Then five years go by, and now I read about Dragonette, a band Martina started with her husband. Imagine if The Cardigans set out to make a dance album where every song could be a Top 40 hit. While doing some research on Martina's whereabouts, I found that she does the vocal on "Take Me Back To Your House" by Basement Jaxx... I knew there was a reason that was my favorite song on Crazy Itch Radio. Dragonette's debut album, Galore, will be released on July 16th. If you preferred Martina as a folk singer, try "Get Lucky". It's less dance-floor, and more cabaret, than most of the Dragonette songs I've heard so far.

Martina Sorbara - Undone
Basement Jaxx (feat. Martina Sorbara) - Take Me Back To Your House
Dragonette - Take It Like A Man
Dragonette - Get Lucky

RIYL: Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Basement Jaxx, Annie, Goldfrapp

Mr. Hudson & The Library

If you like the more catchy bits of The Streets (ie the chorus of "Never Went to Church"), then you will love Mr. Hudson & The Library. Their music has similar beats as The Streets, but there is no rapping and it's a slight bit more melodic. Somehow I am hearing Phoenix and The Streets within this one band, but add a dash of R&B and you have Mr. Hudson. Check out their debut album A Tale of Two Cities, which was released in the UK about a month ago. Every song is quite good, which is rare to find these days!

Mr. Hudson & The Library - Ask The DJ
Mr. Hudson & The Library - 2 x 2

RIYL: The Streets, Jamie T, The Maccabees, Just Jack

Laura Marling

Laura Marling is a 17 year old singer/songwriter, and is poised to be the next-big-thing. She is British, and writes cute, quirky songs about boys... Which is bound to create comparisons to Lily Allen, although Laura is more talented and not nearly as obnoxious. Calling her a younger version of Regina Spektor or Martha Wainwright is more fitting. No word on an official release yet, but she has been courted by many labels in London recently and has been seen opening for Jamie T on tour.

EDIT (1.14.08): Since I can't find my original MP3 of her demo, so here is the version from the My Manic and I EP...

Laura Marling - New Romantic

RIYL: Lily Allen, Regina Spektor, Kate Nash, Beth Orton


I have not heard a song this catchy in a long, long time. I first read about this band on Into The Groove and #1 Hits From Another Planet and I am now 100% hooked. They hail from Denmark, and they make the text-book definition of pop music. Makes you smile. Makes you dance. With lyrics like "You're so oooh, you're so ahhh" and "You came like a thief in the night and stole my heart", you'd think it would be almost too cheesy. But it's not. It's just pure pop bliss for four minutes and twenty four seconds. Four minutes and twenty four seconds that you can forget about everything else. And, when it comes down to it, isn't that what music is supposed to do?

Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights of Thunder

RIYL: The Wonders (yes, the fictional band from That Thing You Do), B*Witched, S Club 7, McFly

New Releases - 4.3.07

Sia gained attention a while back when her song "Breathe Me" was featured on "Six Feet Under", and before that as one of the vocalists in Zero 7. Her voice is addicting. Lady Croissant is primarily a live album (recorded in London and NYC) but this is the one new studio song and it's perfect for summer.

Sia - Pictures

It amazes me how the US and UK can be on such different pages musically. Thirteen Senses are fairly well known in the UK yet very few in the US have heard of them. Yes, fans of Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and Keane will enjoy their music, but this band deserves attention on their own. Melodic rock with gorgeous, graceful vocals.

Thirteen Senses - Follow Me

Mêlée is a bit of a guilty pleasure. There are so many generic pop-punk bands that could have a hit song, but just don't stand out at all, and that is kind of where Mêlée is right now. Their songs are catchy and MTV-friendly and teenage girls are bound to love them. My inner teenage girl definitely does.

Mêlée - Built To Last

Other honorable mentions for today:

Kings of Leon - Because of the Times (southern rock)
Hilary Duff - Dignity (guilty pleasure)
Martin Sexton - Seeds (soulful folk)
Gina Villalobos - Miles Away (lucinda-esque americana)


I have been listening to a lot of Top 40 music lately. It's something about this warm spring weather that just makes me feel like listening to pop music. And pretty much only pop music. Over the weekend, I think I listened to "Be Mine" by Robyn at least 30 times. Make no mistake, this is the exact same Robyn that had mid-90s hits with "Do You Know (What It Takes)" and "Show Me Love". I think I'm really late on this discovery, because the album was released in 2005. The problem is, it was only released in Sweden. Tomorrow it will be released in the rest of Europe. I haven't heard the entire album yet, but this song has quickly become one of my favorite pop songs of all time. I can't decide if I like the original version or the ballad version better.

Robyn - Be Mine
Robyn - Be Mine (Ballad Version)

RIYL: Gwen Stefani, Girls Aloud, Sugababes, P!nk, The Knife

The Wombats

While using Google Image Search to look for a photo to feature for this band, I had the pleasure of learning the ultimate cuteness that is a baby wombat. The boys in The Wombats are just as cute, although invoke a bit different feeling for me, one of those that only British boys in rock bands can do. I can't keep up with all the bands with this same kind of sound coming out of the UK right now. There are just too many. This one has definitely caught on with me, because of the incredible amount of fun in their songs and the pop sensibilities. It reminds me of the first time I heard The Boo Radleys over ten years ago, only The Wombats are a more Franz-fashioned version. I had to use this song, because how often do you hear pop songs based entirely around board games??

The Wombats - Caravan in Wales

Visit their website, which is second only in cuteness to the baby wombat.