Archive for September, 2010

27
Sep
10

THE RECOMMENDER – GLASSER

GLASSER

All budding artists could take a note from Glasser – if you’re going to make music and you find yourself getting to the stage where you’re signed and recording material, please aim for the stars and don’t stop until you reach them.  If you don’t quite manage it then perhaps that retail job isn’t so bad when you re-consider.  Not that Glasser, (real name Cameron Mesirow), was ever destined for retail, with a mother that tasted the charts back in the 80s, with the band Human Sexual Response and a father who was a member of the odd-ball stage show Blue Man Group.  Following a few brief temptations that have been calling out to us from the mist since mid-2009, with tours supporting the likes of Sigur Ros and The XX, Glasser are now ready to release the debut album, Rings.  The music blogs have enjoyed ameliorating that mist ever since, with buzzing plaudits and much online salivation.  On board for the album is Matt Popieluch, from Recommender favourites, Foreign Born, who are masters of yearning alt folk with a little pop and a little indie found at either edge.  We consider that band to be Autumnal and cosy, where as Glasser is the leaf blower, clearing the clutter with synths and strings in place of the acoustic guitars.  Much like our recent post on Niki And The Dove, with comparisons to Natasha Kahn and Liz Fraser, you will hear celestial vocals, but Cameron is colder, more like the wintery Fever Ray, or the upcoming IAmAmIWhoAmI.  However, the synths never buzz, rather they drift in waves and the melodies are floating in a motionless freeze.  Tracks such as Plane Temp will remind you of Enya at her most pointless, with intangible vocals, but it’s still enchanting and just as pretty.  Things warm up a little with tracks such as Glad, which sounds like one long pause for thought, or the album opener Apply, which sounds like she drafted in the Doozers on drums.  Tremmel oxygenates things once again hitting the kind of vocal notes that would make sirens seem baritone.  The whole album fixes a stare upon you from the start and it’s unease never lets up throughout, although this is no ambuscaded attack, for it’s more like receiving a long glance from a strikingly beautiful member of the opposite sex – the kind that disarms you right before their eventual smile warms your heart.  Rings is released on the hot indie label True Panther Sounds this week – you can buy it here.  Whether or not Glasser makes it to the aforementioned stars that she’s aiming for, one thing is sure, on this evidence, the trip was worth it.   (MB)

Find her here:          Myspace

Hear her here:         GLASSER – APPLY

Hear her here:         GLASSER –TREMMEL (JAMIE XX REMIX)

Hear her here:         GLASSER – LESSONS LEARNED (YACHT REMIX)

23
Sep
10

THE RECOMMENDER – FREEDOM OR DEATH

FREEDOM OR DEATH

Bands made up from former employees of the music industry isn’t a particularly new story.  Out of all the artists covered on The Recommender it is a trick that’s perhaps impressed us most with We Have Band, formerly of EMI, but here we turn our attention to a new Toronto duo, Freedom Or Death, who called the major label Sony home for over ten years.  Those who leave major labels will have had a vital education, giving them crucial insider knowledge and what is perhaps most on show with this new act is a keen refusal to play by the industries rules.  It’s as if Steve Fernandez and studio partner Sway are setting themselves up as staunch independents, as seen with their selection of a band name.  Freedom Or Death was chosen as a descriptor for their art, so important was their creativity that they’ve sworn to protect its freedom, rather than have the record labels try to kill it off.  It ties in well as their name is the rallying call for revolutionaries the world over, from The Suffragette’s Emily Pankhurst to the 19th Century Greeks that the duo claim as inspiration – it’s a story of freeing one’s passions rather than allowing them to be abused.  It doesn’t reflect on the industry that well, but it’s also worth pointing out that they remain unsigned – a fact that cannot go ignored, as the real test will come when the industry comes knocking, for that will be a better indication of how much they really value their freedom.  Insider knowledge can prove helpful, if not actually powerful, however it’s the music that will open up the most opportunities and we are pleased to confirm that it stands a strong chance on this evidence.  The Crowded Room begins with chords reminiscent of Miike Snow‘s Animal and is a tidy example of the smooth synths that breathe throughout their new self-titled EP.  In fact all six tracks are packed with the scent of sophistication, with the drifting acoustics played over echoing drums – they even make the abrasive Pink seem symphonic with their cover of Sober.  The tracks mirror the likes of Sting or TV On The Radio at their most vulnerable, but although this is ultimately music with the kind of high-end production usually found in genres such as hip hop (Fernandez informed me that they’re both big hip hop junkies), you will notice that the beats are mainly kept in the background.  What the tunes lack in a driver they more than make up for with atmosphere and power, particularly with the charming vocals.  Stand out track, Lost In Dances, brings in the afro-beat from the start and it places a punch where the voice was focussing, allowing us to completely fall under their spell.  You too can get hypnotized by catching them live at New York’s CMJ Festival this October.  Don’t be surprised to see the major labels sniffing around as it would take more than a defection to put them off this scent, but one thing is certain – whilst they are free from shackles they’ve produced a consistently impressive set of mellifluous songs, so any label would be a fool to mess with them. (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        FREEDOM OR DEATH – LOST IN DANCES

Hear them here:        FREEDOM OR DEATH – SOBER

21
Sep
10

HOW GOOD IS THIS!!!??? – OK GO VIDEOS

OK GO – THE VIDEOS

We’ve never covered OK GO on The Recommender before.  The main reason is that their music is a bit shit.  Oh alright, that’s a little harsh, but their music definitely suffers from heavy doses of averageness – a plight befitting many bands, guaranteeing them a miss on this blog, as we are proud bunch of very picky bastards.  So you would be forgiven for asking why we open our books to them today?

Well, there’s one outstanding feature of OK GO, which obviously is NOT their music – it’s their incredible videos.  They clearly save their inventiveness and effort for these astonishing showcases and as a consequence have become Youtube sensations – at the time of going to post this they had a total of 73,179,142 views on their Youtube channel for their main videos, winning awards for being the most creative music channel of any band on the giant website.

If that quantity of attention turned into sales of their singles, they would find themselves dominating the world’s  charts.  However, being great at one thing – perhaps the world’s best even – is something to be proud of.

Having watched their latest production, the brand new video for White Knuckles, which they uploaded just yesterday, we thought we would list five of their best to date, including their first sensational hit with Here It Goes Again.  We think you will agree that each video grows in both it’s scale and cost, but also in its grandeur, effort and results.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

1HERE IT GOES AGAIN (over 52 million hits)- This creative spark, produced four years ago, set off the inspiration for exceptional videos and spawned a thousand treadmill-based copies by fans, even having its idea ripped off for an advert.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

2WTF? (over 616,000) – The first of a new batch of videos created at the end of their relationship with major label, EMI.  Directed by Tim Nackashi, it’s the most colourful of all the videos – with bold hues becoming a bit of a theme for future productions.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

3THIS TOO SHALL PASS (over 16 million) – The fist of the new videos for their 2010 album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky. This was the second version and most popular of two videos made by the band for this single.  We think you will agree that this giant Rube Goldberg-inspired set is a step up in scale, as well as song-writing.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

4END LOVE (over 2 million) – This summer saw the production of this new video with its stuttered time-lapse photography.  It’s nothing short of exceptional and must have been a mammoth effort to complete – notice that they even have to go to sleep mid-video at one point during the lengthy process.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

5WHITE KNUCKLES (over 800,000) –  The latest release from the band – this video arrived only yesterday, but already has over 800,000 views!  Once again it shows off an inventive video that you just know must have taken hundreds of attempts before they nailed it.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

We want to conclude by asking our readers which video they think is the best, but also which tune you prefer? Are the new songs stronger, perhaps raising the band’s appeal and finally providing the complete package?  How does the new video compare with its predessors?
(MB)

17
Sep
10

THE RECOMMENDER – THE PASS

THE PASS

To get your attention marketing has to be clever these days.  Very clever.  We now live in such a noisy and crowded environment, with millions of messages reaching us on a daily basis, that it’s virtually impossible to get noticed unless you do something remarkable.  It seems that, for the most part, traditional media has struggled in the age of the internet, even though they may be brilliant, they’re simply too slow and cumbersome as organisations to adapt.  We are over a decade into the wider public’s adoption of the internet, yet some of them are still failing.  The music blogger seemed to step in to this gap as naturally as a boxer to the ring, being as equally linked to their community as they are the musicians.  It was therefore only a matter of time before the bands cottoned on to this and started to sidestep traditional media, utilising our reach and hit their public.  It also married perfectly with the new DIY approach that bands were taking up online – who needs the traditional routes to market anymore?  This streamlined, interactive, direct approach has worked well for some time now and a precise example of how bloggers and bands can work together recently arrived with a video for The Pass.  The four piece from Louisville, Kentucky, who have perfected the art of monumental dance indie anthems, approached the excellent music blogger Zach, from We Listen For You, and requested he made a video for their tune Vultures.  His idea, (see the video below), was to create a collage of props and images that represent the names of over 39 music blogs.  What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in charm and outright fun.  As you would imagine, it swept around the blogosphere and Twitter like wildfire, as folk tried to guess all 39.  The winner received a copy of The Pass’s full length debut album, Burst.  Everybody seems to win in this clever – but by no means underhand – piece of marketing.  This is one of the buzz bands to watch for in 2010, with hit after hit in the waiting.  This kind of masterful, throbbing, upbeat indie is of the highest order, with bubbling synths and giant choruses.  Sounding in part like Passion Pit, it’s actually the album that The Killers would love to be able to make, if they weren’t so lost in the game.  They put it up for streaming in its entirety on their Soundcloud today.  The Pass officially release their work on September 21st, on Sona Blast Records, and we are pleased to state that it’s an LP that’s just as packed with fresh ideas as their commercial approach.   (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here
:         THE PASS – TREATMENT OF THE SUN


Hear them here
:         THE PASS – TRAP OF MIRRORS


Hear them here
:         THE PASS – CROSSWALK STEREO

14
Sep
10

THE RECOMMENDER – NIKI AND THE DOVE

NIKI AND THE DOVE

If you like your pop music to be cool and glacial, yet draped in effortless theatrical brilliance, then wrap your ears around this new Swedish group, fronted by Malin Dahlstrom.  Comparisons to Bat For Lashes will no doubt follow, for Malin manages to pull the same trick as Natasha Kahn – like she’s writing from another world, luring you into a soundscape of drama and cinematic majesty.  It’s mystical and ethereal, but never dull and on tracks such as DJ, Ease My Mind you get a sweeping chorus so overblown it would make the performers on the Eurovision Song Contest re-consider their applications.  Malin also demonstrates precisely how rounded her skills are on tracks such as Winterheart, where you get bubbles alongside the atmosphere, handing a perfect slice of slow pop cake that’s as easy to digest as whipped cream.  Much in the same direction that The Knife and IAmAmIWhoAmI aim their musical arrows, there’s much owed to the Liz Fraser/Cocteau Twins school of song craft, with pop that’s as cold as thin ice, and just as delicate.  Frigorific music such as this can often leave the listener a little detached, but Malin’s lyrics provide a voice that calls at you through the snowstorm, luring you onwards, until each track warms you like a rewarding wine. Percussion is occasionally laid on quite heavily, like a hundred of the Emperor’s drummers, but they’re theatrics are deliberately meant to be like a stage production, which is no more evidenced than the playful videos that have circled around in recent weeks.  We expect Malin to adorn costumes and giant headdresses when performing, as this type of music could never be the same if not delivered with overblown panache, but there’s no tour on offer quite yet, so follow the Recommender’s tweets for more information. Their debut single is a double A-side and was released on August 30th on the Moshi Moshi label.  Allow the curtain to lift for the next 15 minutes by sifting through the below mp3s and videos.

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        NIKI AND THE DOVE – UNDER THE BRIDGES

Hear them here:        NIKI AND THE DOVE – WINTERHEART

Hear them here:        NIKI AND THE DOVE – DJ, EASE MY MIND

10
Sep
10

THE RECOMMENDER – ALEX WINSTON

ALEX WINSTON

So many of pop’s roads lead back to Motown and if you were to take a meandering wander down the rich musical heritage of Detroit you will find at the end of the lane a man named Berry Gordy – no doubt sat there tapping his feet and clicking a finger at you. He masterminded that important period in 60s pop music and perfected the art of creating songs that did something very rare – each one was instantly enjoyable, but utterly timeless. All of it sprinkled in sugar, but also rather perfect in its solid construction.  The ripples of this period have affected so much since, but Alex Winston specifically marks it all as a direct inspiration and there’s no denying that the same genetic notes of Motown are easily located within her music. Even though she’s also a branch from the same musical tree from which Regina Spector blossomed, it should come as no shock to hear that she called Detroit home during her childhood.  Every track on her new EP of covers, which arrived this August, has her wonderful magic sprinkled over tunes from the likes of Mumford & Sons, The Rolling Stones and Jack Penate, amongst others.  Now being produced by The Knocks and releasing on their Heavy Roc Music label, this a pop star waiting to burst.  She’s a multi-instrumentalist, having initially had a guitar given to her by her father at just 7 years old, but going on to also record the piano and even the drums on this new EP.  Her original work is what will deservedly earn her the real plaudits however, such as her double A-side single, Choice Notes, with the track,  Medicine, on the reverse.  She’s baked the perfect pop cake with both songs, of the kind you can taste on your tongue for hours afterwards.  Be warned – it’s very morish too, with her cute vocals shining throughout and the tambourine beats, all played with a childish smile.  It’s like Regine Chassagne, from Arcade Fire, making an appearance on Sesame Street.  We expect Feist is shaking in her little fur-lined boots, but to be honest this music aims much higher, has more soul and the variety of edge located within it gives it way more depth.  You can catch her at Neon Gold’s showcase during their New York CMJ Festival this October, so if you’re in town for that then we strongly suggest you take a peek and duly shake your tailfeather. (MB)

Find her here:         Myspace

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – CHOICE NOTES

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – MEDICINE

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – PULL MY HEART AWAY

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – ANIMAL BABY

06
Sep
10

THE RECOMMENDER – GRANDFATHER BIRDS

GRANDFATHER BIRDS

This five piece from Newcastle are carving out something fresh and enjoyable on the northern circuits, getting described by some as progressive indie.  Any genre with the words ‘progressive’, or ‘prog’, attached to it usually makes us wince at the potential self-indulgence, but this band create music that has plenty of breathing space and never stares at its own shoes for too long.  They generate stacks of melody, as each tune arrives in waves of charm and sophistication.  This is music that gets the girl simply by winning over the parents first.  On the track, The Waves Roll Back And Forth, they stay in first gear, creating more of an atmosphere than a song, with a Brian Eno-styled ambience, but don’t be fooled into thinking that there’s no meat on the bones of this band.  On their stand out track, The Woods, it begins with a gentle refrain of fear, that kicks into a full paranoid march after a minute and a half, as the pace strikes up.  The dissident lyrics “don’t want to go to work anymore” share a complaint that most of us have felt at some point in our lives, especially on a Monday morning.  It’s a fantastic piece of well-rounded work, self-released by them earlier this year.  The song Grandfather’s Bones once again starts by creeping up slowly like an incoming tide, before finding its full flow and climaxing in a smash of cymbals.  This is a band that makes full use of its numbers, regularly making their songs very much feel like there’s five people contributing.  The stand out instrument though is the lead guitar, which tinkers up front like a star striker, often starting and closing each tune.  We are pretty sure it’s unintentional, but their tune, Higher Bridges, has the timeless riff from Tears For Fears‘ tune, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, wound throughout it.  This is no bad thing and is the kind of delightful element that will continue to gain them attention – something that’s already had Tom Robinson give them some 6 Music airplay and a listing as a ‘featured artist’ on NME.com’s Breakthrough section.  The North East continues to produce some the UK’s most interesting music, (did it ever stop?), with bands well equipped to make the rest of us sit up and take note.  On the current evidence, Grandfather Birds are set to be near the front of the charge as one of the most mature and interesting of the lot.    (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        GRANDFATHER BIRDS  – THE WOODS

Hear them here:        GRANDFATHER BIRDS – HIGHER BRIDGES (NYMARKS BIRDHOUSE REMIX)




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