Weekend Winddown

timelord graveyard

Image taken from here

Dan Black – Wonder
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Dan Black falls into the category of blogged hype and accessible pop but he hits something long abandoned. There’s a very nineties feel to the whole album, Un, as we get a bit of R n’ B, dance and acoustic electronica. Starting out using the drum beat from Rhianna’s Umbrella, Dan Black shows he’s really at his best when he’s doing his own stuff, like in Wonder.

Chad VanGaalen – Sing me to Sleep
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Chad VanGaalen’s best album remains his latest, Soft Airplane. However I recently found his back catalogue and there are some nice hits amongst some misses. This is one such exception, with beautiful guitar licks, strings and wind instruments keeping it from being even remotely repetitive. How someone with this voice can sound so good I don’t understand. You can almost hear his voice cracking, but Chad VanGaalen always hits the note and it’s even quite affecting for both soft and rockier songs.

Caroline Reese – From Where I Stand
Check out Caroline Reese’s myspace for more info

Caroline is still fairly new to the scene, and frustratingly young at 18. There’s something very Jenny Owen Youngs about Caroline, but she works with simpler sounds, perhaps retreading the steps of Gillian Welch. Which is a good thing because oftentimes the rich sounds of a lot of what’s out there wins out over good song writing. Appropriately Caroline is residing in a ranch in Montana. You can picture her sitting on a bale of hay playing this song. I love the harmonising in From Where I Stand.

The Welcome Wagon – Up on a Mountain
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I recently noticed I’ve never blogged about these guys. The album, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon is a bit weak but there are a few good songs. This one I love just because it sounds like old Sufjan Stevens (who worked on the album). And we all need a little new “old” Sufjan since he fell off his own musical wagon and started up on wanky projects like the Run Rabbit Run Remix album.

Meursault – Nothing Broke
Check out Meursault’s myspace for buy links, videos and other streaming songs

These guys are good simply because they avoid falling into the trap of playing the same stuff over and over. It’s a healthy dose of folk and electronic and not mixed together in some attempt to wow everyone with a “new” sound. It reminds me a good deal of James Yorkston. Personally I favour the more folk driven songs, like Nothing Broke but I’m yet to hear more of the electronic-charged album. I love a good sad song, and the echoey vocals are wonderfully (excuse the heavily used term) haunting.

Kes – The Bruise
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An Aussie band affiliated with the lovely Laura Jean, these guys have actually disappointed me for the most part. I haven’t got my hands on their latest self titled album, Kes Band. The Bruise, taken from the ordinary The Grey Goose Wing, is an exception and reveals what they are capable of. Even so, at one point you can see that the singer is yet to “find his voice,” and it nearly cracks when hitting the high notes. But there is a Devendra Banhart charm to it.

Nurses – Lita
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I’m pretty excited to hear more of Nurses’ new album, Apple’s Acre. Nurses sound a bit like The Walkmen but are more ambitious and organised. The focus seems to be less on “let’s play rock and roll” and more on “let’s work this around the piano.” The sound of their older stuff leans a bit towards The White Stripes but they’re ebbing into their own sound more now. This song is very whisky-at-the-pub piano.

The xx – Islands
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I first heard this thanks to the recommendations on Last fm. The xx are shooting up the popularity ladder on the blogosphere at the moment, and deservedly so. There’s a casual cavalier approach to electronic here. It’s the kind of music I’d expect to hear at a fashion show or exhibition. Classy stuff. The singing is gorgeous!

Radiohead – Gagging Order
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Anyone else remember when Radiohead weren’t caught up in the marketing of their own music? When an interview with Thom Yorke meant you learnt what political concerns were being explored, what new approach to their own sound they were taking? I do when I listen to their songs.
Ignoring their pretentious attitude, I quite love In Rainbows because I’ve always liked their slower stuff. Let’s hope whatever they end up doing next is a good indication that Yorke’s self indulgent debate on what’s right and wrong about music today isn’t completely dominating his thoughts.

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