Saturday, May 31, 2008

Heard These Guys Yet? - May 08 Edition

We're getting this month' s editions of new/underground/upcoming artists out a bit late. Blame me, not your devoted recommenders. We started this feature last month, and plan to continue it because it's fun and educational. On with the tunage!

Recommender: Biz
Band: Four Tet
Blurb: This isn't really such a new band, and it's really not so much a band as one guy. Kieran Hebden, an electronic "folktronica" Musician from London, is probably as well known for remixes as his own material. He's done remixes of tracks by bands you might have heard of like Radiohead, Explosions in the Sky and Andrew Bird, among many others. The album I've been enjoying recently, Rounds, was actually released in 2003. The music on this album doesn't rawk: this is good music to relax and think to. Many of the tracks start out seeming almost ridiculously simple, like a single note piano line, and then usually evolve with increasingly complex rhythmic elements, using drums mostly sampled from jazz albums. The music builds dynamically but never loses its sublety. He uses a lot of samples/loops, but there are also a few guitars and other diverse things layered in, such as when he adds what sounds like chinese folk instruments, or in another instance a Tori Amos piano sample. It's pretty experimental, and each of his albums has a different feel. The latest short album, Ringer, has a much more overtly electronic-techno feel.
Reminds me of: Pretty closely related to Manitoba, Fridge and Prefuse 73.
File Under: Futurefolk for Thinking Blokes
But don't take my word for it: Four Tet at Myspace

Recommender: PMaz
Band: The Nines
Blurb:In the comedy piece “Rock, Rot, & Rule” (check it out if you have never heard it), the phony interviewee claims that the band Chilliwack “rules’ because they come from Canada , and it is hard to "break out" from a place like that. Well, Rush has done pretty well for themselves and I have always had a soft spot for Sloan, but the next big thing out of Canada has to be The Nines. Truth is, the Nines have been hovering around for about 10 years but are now getting noticed by power pop heavies Jason Falkner, Bleu, and Andy Partridge (XTC), who have all worked with The Nines in some capacity. They play straightforward, piano-driven power pop and the songs rarely go over 4 minutes. The latest album, “Gran Jukle’s Field”, is their most eclectic album yet, and released one year after “Calling Distance Stations”. Tracks such as “Don’t Be a Fool” crossover into Scissor Sisters-like disco territory, but don’t be fooled (nice reference back to the title, eh?); they are all about great, melodic power pop. Lead vocalist Steve Egger’s voice is very reminiscent of Andy Partridge, just without the extreme quirkiness, and that's a good thing. Note: There is a U.S. band called The Nines, and they stink.
Reminds me of: Later period XTC, Ben Folds, Matthew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne, Paul McCartney.
File Under: Pop for your pop.
But don't take my word for it: The Nines at Myspace

Recommender: Jonas
Band: Why?
Blurb: Why? first intrigued me when I read that Boards of Canada remixed a song for them on their ‘The Hollows’ EP. That specific remix is incredible, but the EP itself was lackluster due to the other remixes and other bands covers of Why? songs. However, the few original songs gave me a taste of their true talent. So when they recently released their full length, ‘Alopecia’, I was eager to listen. Excellent album! The style is slightly spoken word singing (think Beck) with a dark gritty and sometimes haunting indie-rock background. The musicianship is extremely tight, but not over polished. I find my head bobbing up and down to the funky bass-line while silently mouthing the lyrics, that’s the sign of a good band. There is a good mix of rock instrumentation, the aforementioned excellent bass-line, with just the right amount of electronic manipulation tossed in. And their lyrics, I absolutely love them! They are all over the board, rather cryptic and dark, and many times… humorous.
Reminds me of: An angry Beck pancaked with Gomez in a minor key when it’s cloudy outside.
File Under: They Might Be Gigantic
But don't take my word for it: Why? at Myspace

Recommender: Reed
Band: The Brunettes
Blurb: New Zealand's leading indie-folk-pop couple haven't really hit their stride yet. Their new album, Structure & Cosmetics isn't the best album they have within their reach. It's a bit all over the place in terms of sound and style, but the high points are ultimately extremely rewarding. At their best, actual brunettes Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield manage to encapsulate the sweet swing of 70s era pop-folk while putting a modern spin on things. A recent stint opening for The Shout Out Louds in Europe brought them to my attention, and scouts placed there claim that the duo put on a very solid performance. I recommend Her Hairigami Set for starters, but again they have a lot of different angles in the works. Check 'em out!
Reminds me of: Halfway between Broken Social Scene and Wilco, if you can imagine that.
File Under: Yummi Bears Bouncing Everywhere
But don't take my word for it: The Brunettes at Myspace


Anonymous said...

Jonas can be faggish (as in "like a cigarette").

PMaz said...

"As Serious as Your Life" by Four Tet is a great song that I have had on my Ipod for years. I need to check out more. Thanks for the reminder.

Don't look now, but is that Ron Howard in the middle of that picture of The Nines?

PMaz said...

Jonas reminded me (OK, more like TOLD me) that Skinny Puppy is from Canada. However, I am sure most Canadiens would rather we not know this.