Thursday, September 18, 2008

Heard These Guys Yet? - Sept 08

We're back with another healthy dose of recommendations! Take your medicine:

Recommender: Biz
Band: Dianogah
Blurb: Sticking with what I know... another Chicago band! Although named after the trash compactor creature on the Death Star, Dianogah's sound is not garbage. In the past Dianogah has been a 3-piece featuring 2 bass players and drums in a mostly instrumental format. I have always liked the 2-bass sound, and Dianogah delivers it with deep grooves of interest. For their latest album released last month, Qhnnnl, their first in about 6 years, they have brought in many special guests, including vocalists and an occasional guitarist. It also features the always amazing Andrew Bird on violin on many tracks. Dianogah also appeared as Bird's backing band, as they do in this recent video for Lull. Bassist Jay Ryan is a man of many skills, probably better known as a talented poster artist. In fact, it is likely you've seen his silkscreen prints used in poster and album artwork for your favorite bands. Just like in Jay's artwork, you can hear lots of squirrels in the Dianogah sound... if you listen carefully! Even with the more diverse instrumentation, the new album still features lots of cool bass sounds. I think Qhnnni is an exciting direction for the band, and I hope we can hear them collaborate with Mr. Bird more in the future, as they have expressive, yet complementary styles.
Reminds me of: A bass-heavy more fun version of Tortoise
File Under: Diggin' for the Disco Dump
But don't take my word for it: Dianogah at Myspace

Recommender: PMaz
Band: Blitzen Trapper
Blurb:If you like bands that have a consistent sound, then you are not going to like Blitzen Trapper. My first introduction to them was the title track off their latest album, “Wild Mountain Nation”. “Sounds a bit like Wilco…back when they were good”, I thought to myself. But songs like “Devil’s A Go-Go” combine the recklessness of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks with the blues rock crunch of The White Stripes. And the playfully warped “Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant’s Hem” (who named this song…Robert Pollard?) is in a league all its own, probably belonging on a Flaming Lips album. Speaking of Robert Pollard, BT is a bit “lo-fi”, and their songs rarely extend beyond the 3-minute mark for those of us with short attention spans. I hear a bit of a Beck influence in here as well, though Beck is quite the chameleon in his own right. The synthesis of all of these sounds comes together best in a song like “Murder Babe”, a piece of power pop/prog rock bliss. It’s doubtful you are going to hear anyone say, “Hey, I heard this new band and they sound a lot like Blitzen Trapper!” And that’s a good thing.
Reminds me of: The Flaming Lips covering the Grateful Dead
File Under: Son of Son Volt
But don't take my word for it: Blitzen Trapper at Myspace

Recommender: Jonas
Band: Fujiya & Miyagi
Blurb: I first stumbled upon Britain ’s Fujiya & Miyagi in 2007 while sitting at my computer listening to a radio stream from Seattle . I realized my head was bobbing up and down and determined that I needed to hear more. The album was Transparent Things, and I fell in love with it and them during the first listen. That’s rare for me, it usually takes 5 or 6 listens of an album to come to a conclusion like that. I would best describe the band as “indie electronic” because they really do an impressive job of balancing both synths and guitars throughout their albums. A good baseline is always present and can at times give songs a funk or almost disco feel. The electronics really come out on their instrumental tracks, and the beats per minute ramp up in these as well. The music is simple and is well done, and it wouldn't hold up as well as it does without the lyrical aspect. Their lyrics are always simplistic and quirky, but sung softly in a serious manner as to personalize their purposefully weightless subject matter. And what I mean by weightless subject matter is that in the songs “Reeboks in Heaven” or “Sucker Punch”, that is indeed what the songs are about. Nothing more. I highly recommend Transparent Things, and they have just recently release their follow-up to that, Lightbulbs. I am new to the latter, but I’m already pretty sure I’ll enjoy it just as much since it doesn’t stray far from the groovy, indie, electronic pop that got me hooked in the first place.
Reminds me of: A bit of The Beta Band with more energy and less attitude + a Casio keyboard from 1983.
File Under: Domo Arigato, light on the throttle
But don't take my word for it: F & J at Myspace

Recommender: Kyle
Band: Lykke Li
Blurb: After the initial shock of being freaked out slightly by her Little Bit music video wore off, I gave this gal a chance and she won me over. This Swedish tart has spacier vocals than most of her female pop counterparts. On a personal note, I absolutely love the mandolin in "Little Bit." Produced by the Bjorn from Peter Bjorn & John, every member of the band appears on the record for at least one song. This swedish tart has spacier vocals than most of her female pop counterparts. Even though it feels like she's sneaking around away from the microphone, she's not afraid to sex things up just a bit.
Reminds me of: Feist + Peter Bjorn and John
File Under: Makeout Music on Mars
But don't take my word for it: Lykke Li at Myspace

Recommender: Reed
Band: The Most Serene Republic
Blurb: I can't imagine a band with a name that's harder to remember. It has taken me two months of rote practice to get it straight. But all that effort has been worth it. I first heard of these guys when they crammed all 46 members (an exaggeration) onto a tiny stage at this summer's Wicker Park fest. Their band-geek appearance didn't exactly inspire confidence in their ability to rawk out. But from the get-go, their bright, high-energy indie rock wowed everyone in attendance. Their latest release, Population, features their strongest collection of tracks, but all three albums are worth checking out. Unfortunately, they're not on tour now, but the next time they roll through town, you'll need to see them live and in person, just for the sake of observing the sweet precision.
Reminds me of: The Harlem Shakes meets Broken Social Scene
File Under: Canadian Jumping Beans
But don't take my word for it: TMSR at Myspace

1 comment:

Biz said...

Just got this week's Chicago Timeout, and Jay Ryan was featured as one of the 40 cultural heroes of Chicago. He's on there with many more recognizable Chicago icons. Pretty cool. You can see the part about him online here.

They have a video with him being interviewed that goes longer than the printed article.

I guess they'd heard him already. :*)