Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Here's a look at my favorites for Sunday:
Alela Diane (11:45pm): I caught part of her setlist earlier in the year when she opened for Blitzen Trapper in Athens, Georgia last February. Alela has a sweet folksy voice, and made an strong impression on me despite the fact I did not know her music beforehand. That alone earns her another look from me.
The Dodos (12:30pm): This San Francisco based group warms listeners with their energetic and lively folk ballads. Their lo-fi style combines a variety a influences with a pulsating, yet simplistic drumming. They are my first must-see band playing on Sunday
Heartless Bastards (4:00pm): Lead guitarist and vocalist Erika Wennerstrom leads the Heartless Bastards' edgy-alternative rock, complemented by orchestral and twangy components. Wennerstrom's voice is the thing to see here, which is beautiful in its own right.
Passion Pit (5:00pm): 2009's MGMT, Passion Pit offers listeners electronic indie-dance pop, where catchy would be considered an understatement when describing their work. Their electronic indie pop is bound to please onlookers. The choice between them and the Dirty Projectors is, in my opinion, the toughest decision to make during the entire Austin City Limits Festival between two opposing bands.
Dirty Projectors (5:00pm): Dave Longstreth's Dirty Projectors have been praised recently as one of the more innovative indie-rock bands of the past decade. And as their 2009 release Bitte Orca shows, this group has continued their tradition of making experimentally catchy music. The band creates music that is a beautiful mess, through their combination of indie-rock and chamber pop, dashed with beautifully broken funk. Their grooves do just enough to grab listeners' attention and get them off their feet, only to pull them back and forth between the cracks of their fragmented riffs.
Ben Harper and Relentless7 (6:00pm): Songwriter Ben Harper showcases his new backing band, Relentless 7, which plays a much more grungier and hard-edged style than the Innocent Criminals had showcased. What will remain constant, however, is Harper's stunningly beautiful voice and impeccable guitar work. I have seen him numerous times in different settings, and his shows never fail to disappoint.
Girl Talk (7:00pm): Mashup phenom Greg Gillis has built up a reputation for his ridiculous, out of control shows. There is no doubt that Girl Talk will leave any onlookers on their feet, as his performances are dance parties more than anything else.
Dan Auerbach (7:00pm): Black Keys lead guitarist Dan Auerbach brings his solo act to ACL, offering a different side of his musicianship. Known for his loud and dirty blues with his regular band The Black Keys, Auerbach instead shifts to a more traditional style, while retaining some of garage fuzziness of his Black Keys work. Combined with his unique bluesy voice, Auerbach showcases his musical alter-ego almost as well as he manages his usual style.
Pearl Jam (8:00pm): Alternative-rock legends Pearl Jam will close out the 2009 Austin City Limits Festival with what will probably be the best show of all the headliners. Expect Eddie Vedder and the rest of Pearl Jam to bring a set combined with their classics, new tracks from their recently-released album Backspacer, and a handful of deep cuts as well.
Check back over the weekend for more in-depth stories and commentary from the festival!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Here's a look at my favorites for Saturday:
The Raveonettes (1:15pm): One of the few bands I have heard of in the early part of Saturday. Not much else going on, so I'll check out this Danish duo based on my liking of their dark rocker "Lust".
Grizzly Bear (3:00pm): The afternoon finally gets rolling with the good acts of Saturday with Grizzly Bear. These indie post-rock darlings have captured the imaginations of Pitchfork and a myriad of other critics and fans with their impeccable use of song structure and dynamic to make what can be aptly described as art more than anything else. I have never seen them live, so this is a must-see show for see.
Flogging Molly (4:00pm): Although I'm not that familiar with their music, I like the style of their Irish punk rock, and have heard that they put on energetic and entertaining live performances.
Bon Iver (5:00pm): One of my favorites--Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver have the ability to create captivating buildups and breakdowns with a relatively simple setup. Vernon's voice, a mix between Sam Beam and the falsetto of TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, offers a cathartic energy matched by few others.
Levon Helm Band (6:00pm): Like Daniel Johnston on Friday, this show is another can't miss legend that everyone should see. Once the drummer and vocalist of The Band, Levon Helm has battled back through a bout with throat cancer to sing and perform once again. Another person must-see show, although more for the opportunity to see Levon Helm than his band itself.
Devotchka (7:00pm): While most may recall their music as the Eastern-European gypsy folk-rock featured in the indie classic film Little Miss Sunshine, this band is much more than that. Along with the similarly influenced group Beirut, Devotchka creates stunning folk-rock derived from influences not often heard in most indie rock today. They are my final must-see band for today.
Decemberists (7:00pm): C0lin Meloy and crew bring their chamber-pop to Austin's dusk on Saturday evening, as they offer their dramatic, emotional ballads featuring some of the best songwriting today. There is a reason they are one of the most popular indie-rock bands today, but this show most likely will be too crowded and packed for me. I hear they put on a great show, however, so check them out if they are of interest to you.
Dave Matthews Band (8:00pm): These road warriors will hopefully bring another solid end to a long day at Austin City Limits. Despite what will probably be a crowded, and rather annoying crowd, or the fact that the band has settled on their past merits during their last few albums, Dave Matthews Band typically put on an excellent live show.
Check back tomorrow for Sunday's ACL Preview!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Here's a look at my favorites for Friday:
Low Anthem (12:20pm): I just came across this band over the past month, with their song "Charlie Darwin". That track alone, which offers astounding vocals and harmonies, stands as one of the best folk songs I have heard in recent memory. I'm curious to see what else the band has to offer.
Blitzen Trapper (1:30pm): These Oregon natives have been one of my favorite indie rock acts of the past couple years. They remind me of a harder rocking indie version of the Grateful Dead, particularly with their Americana grooves and aesthetic. I have seen them three times this year, and its safe to say I'm ready for round four.
Avett Brothers (2:30pm): My good friend Melinh really turned me onto them within the past month, and to be quite honest, I don't know how I missed them in the past. The trio prides itself on combining traditional folk with rock, and do so in a beautiful manner. While their older music is more country-leaning, their most recent album I and Love and You (came out today) features a more polished sound, without losing the band's roots. Out of the bands on Friday that I have not seen before, the Avett Brothers are the act which I am anticipating the most.
The Walkmen (3:30pm): These guys are another great live act that I have seen previously. The band recalls an antiquated and meandering style, filled to the brim with a warmth in their sound. Mixed with lead singer Hamilton Leithauser's impressive Dylan growl, The Walkmen are a perfect late afternoon act to see.
Dr. Dog (3:30pm): Falling somewhere between the influences of The Beatles, The Band, and The Beach Boys, Dr. Dog provides fans with indie-pop ballads worthy of their influences. Deciding between them and The Walkmen will be one of the tougher choices on Friday.
Phoenix (4:30pm): With indie hits such as "Lisztomania" and "1901", Phoenix has blown up in 2009. Their indie-synth-pop has brought the band into conversations with other indie-dance-pop names such as MGMT and Passion Pit.
Daniel Johnston (4:45pm): While Phoenix might be a more aesthetically pleasant and enjoyable show, having the opportunity to see a influential legend like Daniel Johnston is something people should not pass up. Johnston is one amongst a lineage of creative songwriting geniuses who has suffered through mental illness throughout his life. A master of lo-fi singer-songwriting, his work has been cited as influential by many, if not most of the indie-rock community that followed him.
Andrew Bird (7:30pm): Chicago instrumentalist Andrew Bird will showcase his pop-dexterity once again on Friday. I have seen him twice in the past year, and feel confident in saying that he is among indie's elite live performers. This man is a musician in every sense of the word.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (8:30pm): Apparently, Karen O and company performed well enough as replacements for the Beastie Boys at Lollapalooza that they were recruited to do another headlining fill-in.
Kings of Leon (8:30pm): These Southern dirty-blues rockers have hit the jackpot this year, once again headlining another major festival. The last album has truly turned them into arena-rockers, and subsequently has exploded their career path into a largely successful one.
Check back tomorrow for Saturday's ACL Preview!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Volume 6: 9/28/2009
1. My Morning Jacket - Wordless Chorus
2. Jenny Lewis - Bad Man's World
3. Heartless Bastards - The Mountain
4. Real Estate - Black Lake
5. Beirut - The Concubine
6. Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For The Others
7. Cass McCombs - You Saved My Life
8. Sufjan Stevens - You Are The Blood
Friday, September 25, 2009
Breakers Broken is a Chicago-based electronic rock trio. Comprised of brothers Tim (vocals, guitar) and Herf Yamaya (vocals, keys, bass), along with drummer Neal Wehman, the group formed in 2007 while attending the University of Miami-Florida. The band decided to come back to their hometown, where they have been touring heavily in support of their dance-rock style. The genre-labels "dance-rock" or "electronic rock," however, do not do their music justice. While those terms may apply directly to a band such as MGMT, who create catchy indie-dance hits, bands of this lineage do not always have the talent that Breakers Broken possesses. The trio's all-around musicianship shines abundantly through their work, in both their individual proficiencies, and in their tight, cohesive overall sound.
Their recently released Reset offers ample examples as to why Breakers Broken is a band to look out for in the near future. "Last Man on the Planet" leads off the release with a precise drum track locking in the song's beat, while an electronic ambient atmosphere hangs over the trio at every note. Breaking through all textures are the combination of very pop-based vocals, and guitarist Tim Yamaya's funk-filled riffs, providing lightning quick flashes to the songs phrases. "When She Needs Me" recalls a variety of influences, including a driving guitar reminiscent of Vampire Weekend's "A-Punk", and bits of Mute Math's drums, along with a chorus filled with unique, catchy, high-pitched harmonies.
Their aptly named instrumental track "The Climb" strongly showcases the trio's technical chops. Starting with a floating piano intro, the track builds up as Wehman's funky pocket drumming enters, along with synthesizers, a distorted guitar, and voice samples--all of which are layered in slowly but surely. About a minute into the song, the band kicks into full gear, and Tim's electric guitar teeters on the brink of shredding, going in full force, meticiulously building up to the point of chaos. The track reaches its climax without ever losing its textured nuisances. Soon after the pinnacle, the momentum slowly winds down, fading into silence just as the track started.
"Fools and Gold" is their most accessible song on Reset. The mid-tempo rocker is backed by a drum sound circa 1985, with lead vocals standing out as they provide a reflective and insightful commentary. While the guitar and keys are present at times, they primarily provide a coloring accompaniment on the track. The song slowly fades and echoes out near its end, bringing a close to an EP that offers a wide variety of influences, that are both obvious and perfectly placed amongst each other.
Reset is now currently available on iTunes. Please be sure to support Breakers Broken by purchasing their album.
Check out the selected samples below: "Last Man on the Planet," "When She Needs Me," "The Climb," and "Fools and Gold."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Note: These are two interesting lists focusing on the good and bad in pop music using Auto-Tune.
Auto-Tune Abuse in Pop Music - 10 examples
Pitch correction software has applications from restoration and mix-rescue to outright distortion of a voice or instrument. I'll discuss some of the more tasteful uses of these auto-tune tools (whether the original from Antares, or a variant like the free GSnap) below. But first I thought I'd highlight their misuse to illustrate the effects we usually try to avoid.
So, listen here to 10 of pop music's most blatant auto-tune abuses:
If you're unfamiliar with Auto-tune, and especially if you listen to much pop and rock, you might not hear it initially. When overdone, the effect yields an unnatural yodel or warble in a singer's voice. But the sound is so commonplace in modern mainstream music that your ears may have tuned out the auto-tune!
The songs in this clip, in order, and the phrases most affected by auto-tuning to help you spot them:
Dixie Chicks - The Long Way Around - Noticeable on "parents" and "but I."
T-Pain - I'm Sprung - Especially obvious on "homies" and "lady."
Avril Lavigne - Complicated - Listen to "way," "when," "driving," "you're."
Uncle Kracker - Follow Me
The whole vocal sounds strained, but especially the word "goodbye."
Maroon 5 - She Will Be Loved - Listen for "rain" and "smile."
Natasha Bedingfield - Love Like This - "Apart" and "life."
Sean Kingston - Beautiful girls - "OoooOver" doesn't sound human.
JoJo - Too Little Too Late - Appropriately, "problem" stands out.
Rascal Flatts - Life is a Highway
Every vocal, foreground and background, is treated, but "drive" in particular.
New Found Glory - Hit or Miss - "Thriller", and every time Jordan sings "I."
Top 10 Auto-Tune Songs(via http://top40.about.com/od/top10lists/tp/top10autotune.htm)
The Best Examples of Positive Use of Auto-Tune In Pop Music
Auto-Tune is an audio processor created by Antares Technologies. It was initially designed to correct pitch problems in the recording studio. The use of Auto-Tune technology is controversial in pop music. Many claim that is over-used to give singers perfect pitch who otherwise do not possess the skill. However, producers also use Auto-Tune to create a specific, obvious sound as part of their artistic creation. These are 10 of the best examples of creative use of Auto-Tune effects in pop music.
Back in 1998 no one had seriously considered the use of Antares' Auto-Tune pitch correction software as a recording "special effect." Reportedly, producer Mark Taylor added the distinctive effects on a lark testing out what Auto-Tune could do. Cher says that when she heard the sound she demanded it be left in the recording. The futuristic effect on her vocals is an integral part of the subsequent record, and "Believe" became the biggest hit of Cher's career. To this day, the distinctive Auto-Tune sound is often referred to as the "Cher effect."
When rapper Kanye West set out to record his album 808s and Heartbreak in the aftermath of the tragic death of his mother, he says that he had emotions to express that couldn't be expressed solely through rapping. Consequently, West sings frequently throughout the album. He uses Auto-Tune liberally, because it gives his voice a "heartbroken" sound. T-Pain was consulted on the proper use of the technology in the recording studio.
The electronic duo Daft Punk had already used vocoder distorted vocals in their worldwide hit "Around the World." They turned to Auto-Tune to alter vocals by singer Romanthony in the recording of "One More Time." The use of the technology was criticized in much of the music industry, but Daft Punk likened the criticisms to those leveled in the early days of the use of synthesizers in pop music.
"Live Your Life" features a dramatic, catchy recreation of the yodel-ish hook of O-Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei" by Rihanna. However, when she shifts into English, the Auto-Tune distortion makes her singing sound almost as exotic as the previous Moldovan lyrics. Later in the song a clear, non-distorted break has extra impact due to the earlier distortion.
Chris Brown is not a singer who would require Auto-Tune to stay on pitch. In fact, the opening of "Forever" is sung without its use. However, the judicious use of Auto-Tune by producer Polow da Don is an essential element in creating the overall gorgeous, sweeping sound of this song.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Of all the endeavors indie-folk statesman Sufjan Stevens takes on, for better, for worse, or for those just simply out there, one thing is certain--the man thinks in epic proportions and partakes in grand ventures. From his multi-instrumental talents, to his exploratory themes and concepts, Stevens has embarked on an illustrious career path, earning a spot among the indie elites of the past decade.
The Michigan native was born in Detroit, and spent the early years of his life throughout various parts of the state. His third album, Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State (2003), heavily alludes to his home state, and embarks Stevens on an upward career as a musician. This release marked the beginning of his proposed 'fifty states project', an supposed attempt to create a concept album for each of the fifty states. On Michigan, Sufjan combines a variety of styles in expressing his views and feelings toward the state, its cities, and people. In doing so, he showed brilliance through his symphonic majesty in "Detroit, Lift Up You Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!) and "All Good Naysayers, Speak Up!". In contrast, the somber simplicity of tracks such as "Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid)," "Romulus," and "For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti" prevail over the majority of the album, decorating the album with heartfelt tales of melancholy and hardships. The album put Sufjan on the map due to his impeccable songwriting and composition, but as a whole fell slightly short of being a truly cohesive concept album from front to back.
Although Michigan was mostly impressive and successful in its own right, Sufjan Stevens recorded and released his magnum opus to date with 2005's Sufjan Stevens invites you to: Come on feel the Illinoise. The album was widely recognized as one of the best releases of that year, topping the lists of major music critics such as Pitchfork, Amazon, Los Angeles Times, etc. The album, with its obvious introspection of the state's themes, accomplishes what Michigan set out to achieve (but fell short of). Illinois not only dazzles with the lively orchestrated "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts," the beautifully reflective "Casimir Pulaski Day," and the indie-rock staple "Chicago," but the arrangement of tracks is what takes the album from great to one of the best albums released in my lifetime. Sufjan Stevens implores listeners to travel on a journey with him as he ventures and discovers Illinois, and ultimately rewards them for their commitment to the near 80-minute masterpiece.
Although Stevens has been relatively quiet since Illinois, he has lived up to his reputation with his limited work thus far in 2009. "You Are The Blood", his contribution to the mega-compilation album Dark Was The Night, easily topped the rest of the tracks on that double-disc release. The ten-minute journey departs from the sound of his previous work, as it offers a darker, more electronic-based sound. What results however is a brooding, commanding tone that stands present over the first half of the song, slowly building up to its climax. Just after reaching that point, the climax collapses into a scrambled noise, and dies down, before building up once again at the track's end. The mixture of astounding dynamics and a dark warmth have led this track to contend as one of the year's overall best songs.
In addition, Sufjan also plans to release MQE, a CD/DVD combo of a live multimedia project he performed in 2007-an original film and accompanying score inspired by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. While this project may not be the next album in his proposed fifty states project (instead being a rather random topic), his new work is more than welcome, especially given his relative silence over the past couple years.
Check out the following tracks below: "You Are The Blood," "Chicago," "Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts," Casimir Pulaski Day," "For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti," and "Romulus."
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Is The New Moon Soundtrack the Best Album of 2009?
Whoops, looks like two cultures just got shocked. Obviously that headline is a joke! Except that maybe it isn't? Rumors had been swirling about Thom Yorke and Bon Iver penning songs for the The Twilight Saga: Teen Vampires In Love Some More soundtrack, and those rumors are confirmed with today's OST tracklist, exclusively revealed by MySpace. But you already knew that because MySpace is your homepage. And hey, this thing looks good, like mini-Dark Was The Night good.
In addition to Thom's new tune "Hearing Damage," and Bon Iver's duet with St. Vincent's face on a song called "Rosyln," Twilight scored previously unreleased tracks from Grizzly Bear and the Killers. Atlantic, in conjunction with soundtrack curator Alexandra Patsavas's Chop Shop, will release the album, and so there's a correlatively strong showing of Atlantic-affiliated artists (Death Cab, Lykke Li, and Muse, the lone holdover from the first film's OST) and a Patsavas pet (her Chop Shop puts out Anya Marina who made the cut). You've heard Death Cab's "Meet Me On The Equinox." Here's a few more reasons you suddenly love vampires:
01 Death Cab For Cutie - "Meet Me On The Equinox"
02 Band Of Skulls - "Friends"
03 Thom Yorke- "Hearing Damage"
04 Lykke Li - "Possibility"
05 The Killers - "A White Demon Love Song"
06 Anya Marina - "Satellite Heart"
07 Muse - "I Belong To You (New Moon Remix)"
08 Bon Iver and St. Vincent - "Rosyln"
09 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Done All Wrong"
10 Hurricane Bells - Monsters"
11 Sea Wolf - The Violet Hour"
12 Ok Go- Shooting The Moon"
13 Grizzly Bear - Slow Life"
14 Editors - "No Sound But The Wind"
15 "Alexandre Desplat - New Moon (The Meadow)"
The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack is out 10/20 via Atlantic, and the soundtrack artists will tour Hot Topic outlets nationwide. As if you needed another reason to go there after school.
This summer, we sat down with the Monsters of Folk. Read our two-part interview here. The four members (that’s Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and M. Ward) (the man with the golden pen, the man with the golden ear, the man with the golden voice, and the man with the golden mind) were punch drunk from being cooped up in a hotel room all day, answering questions about themselves.
Now, as the album’s release date finally arrives, more interviews are hitting the ‘net. In this one by Express Night Out, Mike Mogis breaks down each song on Monsters Of Folk (which you can stream in it’s entirety here!) Here’s how he describes “Man Called Truth.”
“That was one we actually did play as Bright Eyes a couple of times on our last tour. That was the first Monsters of Folk song that was ever written. We were playing “Morning Becomes Eclectic” [on KCRW] in California. We were on Bright Eyes Tour, M. Ward was opening and we said, “You should come play with us.” On our way to there they stopped by – it was brutally early and Conor was hung-over — we stopped by this herbalist store, to try to get some sort of magical herb to make you feel good. The salesman, his name was Truth. We went back to KCRW and Conor was f***ing around on guitar with Matt and they came up with that chord progression and refrain: “Never buy nothing from a man named truth,” together as Matt and Conor, and we said right away: “That was going to be our first Monsters of Folk song.” We tucked it away as a Monsters of Folk song, but Conor ended up finishing it. It was a collaborative effort for like the first two minutes of that song. This was two years before we got to recording anything for Monsters of Folk.”
Check out the rest of Mogis’ Tales From the Folk Side here.
Fucked Up Win the Polaris Music Prize
Every year, a mob of Canadian music-biz folks (full disclosure: including Pitchfork contributor Stuart Berman) get together to pick the Canadian album with the highest artistic merit, awarding it the Polaris Music Prize. The winner gets $20,000, as well as the peace of mind that comes from vanquishing rivals. In Polaris' first three years, the prize went to Caribou, Patrick Watson, and Final Fantasy. This year, though, the Polaris went to a decidedly heavier recipient: Fucked Up's The Chemistry of Common Life.According to the National Post (via Prefix), the Toronto sextet didn't think they had much of a chance going in. Said frontman Damian Abraham, aka Pink Eyes: "We got frisked on our way in and I said, 'This [evening] is gonna suck, but at least we'll get a free iPod.' Well, we won the Polaris. It's a lot better than an iPod." Indeed, that $20,000 should pay for a whole lot of emergency post-show medical care when the band is on tour in the U.S., where they won't get to take advantage of that socialized medicine thing.
Fucked Up beat out fellow Canadian heavyweights like Metric, Great Lakes Swimmers, and Malajube for the award. At the award ceremony, they performed with guests Final Fantasy and Lullabye Arkestra, and Abraham stripped down to his undies. All the nominated artists performed at the ceremony, and you'll be able to watch the whole thing on Saturday if MuchMusic is part of your cable package.
On November 5, Fucked Up will perform Chemistry in its entirety at Brooklyn's Masonic Temple alongside guests like Andrew W.K. and the Vivian Girls, as previously reported. And early next year, they'll release the singles compilation Couple Tracks: Singles 2001-2009 on Matador.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart can be described in a nutshell as pure pop bliss. Their innocent, noised-laced indie-rock combines a shoegaze sound topped with undeniably catchy riffs. The New York-based quartet, consisting of members Kip Berman (Guitar and Vocals), Peggy Wang-East (Vocals and Keyboards), Alex Naidus (Bass), and Kurt Feldman (Drums), originated in 2007. Earning a notable following since their formation, the band released their eponymous debut full-length release in early 2009. The album received a significant amount of acclaim, earning the band a spot at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
The band ascended within indie-rock circles during this year due the release of their full length debut The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. With this effort, the group arguably justified the large buzz which they had received. "Come Saturday" constantly bombards listeners with a noise-layered pop surrounded by a hazy warmth. The band's talent as pop architects surfaces on "Young Adult Friction," where their synthesizers and vocals fill the track with a bouncy, upbeat melody and rhythm. On this album, however, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are at their nostalgic best with the track "Everything With You" which demonstrates their beautiful simplicity, combining shoegaze and indie-pop with relative ease in their carefree expression of longing and desire.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will release their Higher Than the Stars EP today--their first release of any kind since their timeless classic debut earlier this year. The EP's title track lives up to the quartet's previous body of work, and hopefully the remainder of the EP continues the consistency that they have displayed thus far throughout their short career.
Check out the following songs: "Come Saturday", "Young Adult Friction", Everything With You", "Higher Than the Stars".
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Volume 5: 9/21/2009
1. Phoenix - Lisztomania
2. Micachu and the Shapes - Golden Phone
3. Passion Pit - Cuddle Fuddle
4. YACHT - Psychic City
5. MGMT - Kids
6. Of Montreal - Gronlandic Edit
7. Diamond Rings - All Yr Songs
8. Spoon - The Underdog
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Originating in Champaign, Illinois, Sunset Stallion has showcased a strong penchant for writing and performing tightly crafted indie-pop songs. The group formed in 2008 after band members Chad Warner and Marty O'Donnell left their previous band. Soon after, the two teamed up with vocalist Hannah Newman and Chris Devoo in forming Sunset Stallion, eventually adding a fifth member in guitarist Bryan Kyveton. Despite having only been together for only two years, this band has proven to be a talented and cohesive group that should garner more attention in the near future.
Highlights of Sunset Stallion’s work include the piano-driven “Leaves”, the beautifully haunting vocals on “Separated”, and the insightful lyrics of “Nocturnal Eyes”. All these songs warrant repeated listening; however, I would like to focus instead on their best song—“Ghost Stories on a Trampoline.” This track delicately coasts into its first part, starting with a piano intro, and slowly adding in musical parts as each phrase strolls along. About a minute into the song, the track kicks into a moderate groove backed by a near-perfect vocal arrangement. The interaction of Chad Warner’s lead singing and lyrics, combined with the accompaniment of Hannah Newman and her subtly stunning voice, stand out as one of the group’s best qualities. Drummer Marty O’Donnell also shines here, doing his best impression of an indie/folk-rock version of Glenn Kotche—never imposing, yet provide shape and color to the song with his syncopated, seamless fills.
Sunset Stallion is performing at this weekend’s Pygmalion Music Festival in Champaign, Illinois, which features indie-stars such as Iron and Wine, RJD2, and Ra Ra Riot, among others. After that, the group has plans to release a full-length album sometime in October.
You can check out their music on their website (http://www.sunsetstallion.com) or on their Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/sunsetstallion).