Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2007 Halloween Mix - Part 1

this image of Heidi Klum and Seal from last year still gives me the creeps

Apparently, this year I'm strangely not so enthused with the idea of Halloween. Maybe the forthcoming midterm exams due next week are to blame? I have the whole day unplanned, so probably by tomorrow night I'll just end up sitting by the couch watching a 'Treehouse of Horror' marathon, again.
With that in mind, I made this mix, not so much in a 'let's wear ironic costumes, go out and trash some parties' manner, but more like 'let's just sit here by the window with a bowl of candies, all worn out and bored'.
The tracks I chose are not as spooky as their titles might imply, but unintentionally they all tend to have an indie folk/rock vibe. My fave out of the bunch is probably The Rosebuds' track, a cinematic 6-minute haunting nightdriving jam. Both Akron and Band Of Horses are bands whose new tracks I dig, but haven't actually heard the albums yet. And Lost In The Trees should have deserved more blog hype.
Have fun, folks. Maybe come back later and tell me about your Halloween experience - like the silly costumes you saw or something. Not that I will get any kind of weird, creepy thrills from reading your comments, though. :-)

Nouvelle Vague - Bela Lugosi's Dead
The Rosebuds - Night Of The Three Furies
Akron - Don't Be Afraid, You're Already Dead
Band Of Horses - Is There A Ghost
Lost In The Trees - If You're Afraid Of The Dark
The Postmarks - Every Day Is A Halloween

Part 2 now available at The Bamboo Orchestra.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Covered: The Carpenters

Nothing like a bit of nostalgia for the weekend.
Yesterday, I was listening to some Carpenters covers on my iPod and this thought rose up: 'Are there more I'm not aware of?'. So I went ahead and did some extensive research (i.e. googling 'carpenters cover'), and found out there was an entire tribute album called 'If I Were A Carpenter', with covers contributed by these mid-90s alternative bands, released in 1994. Not until then did I realize that Sonic Youth's age-old cover of 'Superstar' was from this compilation. Had this album been released in 2007, it would have been featured in just about every music blog already. There are definitely some great gems here. They just brought back so many memories. I was kind of brought up getting used to this kind of melodic music, with my parents' habit of listening to stuff from The Carpenters, The Beatles and pre-Saturday-Night-Fever Bee Gees. I still remembered watching that music video for 'Only Yesterday' on an ancient VHS tape. Poor Karen...
Enjoy these covers from that compilation, and a couple more. Nice weekend, everyone.

Shonen Knife - Top Of The World
Jaunty and Japanese-y.
The Cranberries - (They Long To Be) Close To You
Faithful and Irish.
Cinerama - Yesterday Once More
Sonic Youth - Superstar
Lo-fi, heartbreak drone.
Grant Lee Buffalo - We've Only Just Begun
Emmy Rossum - Rainy Days And Mondays
Thickly layered and unnecessarily dramatic, to be honest.

Purchase the compilation album

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bits and Bobs

Those who have visited this blog long enough sure knows I appreciate a well-crafted pop record just as much as some offbeat indie music. And since I haven't posted anything pop-related for a while, I think it's apt that I weigh in my thoughts on some of the most important pop releases in recent weeks.

Firstly, the Roisin Murphy album 'Overpowered'. Undoubtedly, the first two singles are killer, however, in an album context, it seems she isn't fully commited to being a commercial pop dance diva yet. It is a fine album, indeed (in this case, a rather high 3.75/5 stars), but some tracks just didn't win me over instantly, some left me scratching my head a bit, to be honest. So it's not the tremendous album I hoped it would be, but it doesn't make me love her any less. 'You Know Me Better' as a third single would be nice, I guess, as it is the only other immediate track I can think of. Maybe some are meant to be growers etc. By the way, check out her Gossip live cover, woman can sing live (thanks to XOLondon for the heads up).

Roisin Murphy - You Know Me Better
Roisin Murphy - Standing In The Way Of Control (The Gossip Cover)

Kylie's comeback single '2 Hearts': hit or shit? Obviously, it's a guaranteed number one, and I acutally like it. Yes, it sounds like a Goldfrapp b-side, and the Paul Harris extended mix didn't lead me into thinking otherwise, but it is still a sexy, faux-glam-rock track. Maybe the fact that I'm quite an indie head these days made it easier for me to digest it? It's just not the bang everyone expected it to be. Anyhow, the remixes did gain my interest in the song, especially the outstanding 7-minute remix done by Swedish electro outfit Studio. They brought their balearic style to the song, and aced it.

Kylie - 2 Hearts (Studio Version)

Question of the week: is Brittany Spears' new album 'Blackout' amazing? Unfortunately, I may be one of the few to find it leaving me cold (not cold as fire...). I admit I walked into it with not much of an open mind, secretly wishing that it's crap so that it'll tank so hard Jive will have no choice but to drop her this time, so that she can disappear off the face of the Earth, get her shit together and never to be seen in any tabloids again. So much for wishful thinking, because, let's face it, even if the album is crap (which I think it is), it will still climb to the top spot it its first week, since this is Britney we're talking about. The amount of press coverage on her latest antics is enough to pique people's curiousity. 'Gimme More' is quite decent, yes, but the only track on the album that I can see as a single is 'Break The Ice'. Her voice never sounds so heavily processed before, and with all these producers saying they saved the best tracks for her, is this all they can come up with? It's all very samey and tiring, going electro for the sake of being trendy, and it is not even the good kind of disposable pop. Maybe I just wasn't in a good mood then? I just don't get what all the fuss is about. Britney IS a performer, and if she can no longer be bothered with lip-synching and doing choreographed moves properly, and making decent music videos, then what's the point? Does she really need our money? Hopeless trainwreck. I'm not that fond of FutureSex/LoveSounds either. Maybe I am losing my pop appetite. Maybe I'm just a few steps away from collecting limited 7" singles of obscure indie bands, obsessively and religiously. A mere 2/5 stars for now.

Now, about that Emmy Rossum album, 'Inside Out'. Sure no one saw this coming? For me, it's like an odd vanity project for her to add to her budding career. Okay, she can sing, and the music's pretty much unique in the mainstream market now, but it's more Enya than Imogen Heap, and she just doesn't possess the quirk of Imogen or the depth of Kate Havnevik. Her vocals were mixed so densely, it almost seems like an acappella affair. It's just a bit weird for me. I respect her nerves, though, and 'Slow Me Down' is a good choice for a lead single. Did you know she used to star in a Disney Channel original movie? Um, don't ask me how I know that...

Moving to the two most famous girl groups of the UK. 'Change' was a pretty conventional album for Sugababes, it's missing some edge, and some sparks, however, there are some excellent singles materials here, 'Never Gonna Dance Again' and 'Denial', in particular. Can't stop listening to those two...As for Girls Aloud, the new single 'Call The Shots' is quite nice, I do like it, but it seems they're getting stuck, desperately in need for a mindblowing track to get back on top again...

Surprise ! The Vines, of all bands, has done a cover of The Veronicas' hit '4Ever', for a compilation released in Australia called No Man's Woman, in which male artists cover women's songs. And it is very good, a bit psychedelic, but the harmonies are sweet. By the way, The Veronicas' new single 'Hook Me Up' is one electro corker. Nice change in the twins' direction...

The Vines - 4Ever (The Veronicas Cover)

Bjorn, of Peter, Bjorn & John, has done a good remix for Robyn's 'Handle Me'. It's a bit military. I find it strange that even though I love all of the three singles to date, (Konichiwa Bitches, With Every Heartbeat, and this), I still haven't checked out the album. Maybe it's about time.

Robyn - Handle Me (Bjorn Remix)

I've been on a Carpenters kick lately, embarassingly. And someone's been downloading pilots of all these vintage '60s shows like Bewitched, I Dream Of Jeannie or Twilight Zone. I start to suspect that some old dead soul is taking control of my body...It's all a bit scary. Funny though, the one Carpenters song I kept going back to is also coincidently the one recently butchered by Emmy Rossum.

Last but not least, Pushing Daisies is the best show on tv this fall. Period. The excess of cleavage's clearly helping the ratings, as it's now picked up for a full season. Woot. Somehow Anna Friel just reminds me of Jenny Lewis. Just the kind of show I can get into.

Oh and Halloween's around the corner already? I should start working on a mix already...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An Indie Pop Mix

Presented in a similar fashion to that of my last post, here are five more tracks from five indie pop bands/artists that I'm fond of, but didn't find the time to blog about them around the time their records came out. Their albums are all worth a listen if you dig what you hear here, but chances are you might be aware of them already.
Respectively, I have a spoon of sprinkling, charming keyboard pop from the lovely ladies of Brooklyn-based trio Au Revoir Simone, cartoonish, breezy novelty pop from Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, some cute, sunny '60s twee pop of The Icicles, an infectious, fun power pop track courtesy of The Apples In Stereo (the kids should get a kick out of this ditty, seriously), and finally, a deceptively-titled bittersweet track full of boy/girl harmonies from the husband/wife duo The Submarines (with an interesting backstory to boot).
Click on their names to get to their MySpace, if you'd like to. Enjoy.

Au Revoir Simone - Stars
(The Bird Of Music, 2007)
Gruff Rhys - Candylion
(Candylion, 2007)
The Icicles - La Ti Da
(Arrivals & Departures, 2007)
The Apples In Stereo - Energy
(New Magnetic Wonder, 2007)
The Submarines - Hope
(Declare A New State!, 2006)

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Female Folk Mix

As you know, I listen to music quite more than humanly possible, and it's hard to find something different and interesting to say about each track I like. So posts like these, at times, come in handy. The following five ladies obviously are talented, and they do have great songs up their sleeves, but I wasn't quite sure of how to put it down to words, so instead of conjuring up 5 separate posts, I'm just gonna merge them all into one neat entry. If you're into indie ladies with sweet voices, accompanied by a guitar/piano, singing lo-fi acoustic folk pop, then these tracks are just what you need to get through another manic Monday. Like one? Then pick up the rest. They're all equally great. For more info about the artist, click on their names to be directed to their Myspace. Enjoy.

Laura Veirs - Galaxies
(Year Of Meteors, 2005)
Julie Doiron - You Look So Alive
(I Woke Myself Up, 2007)
Lily Frost - Enchantment
(Cine-Manique, 2006)
Meg Baird - Do What You Gotta Do
(Dear Companion, 2007)
Eleni Mandell - Moonglow, Lamp Low
(Miracle Of Five, 2007)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kim Richey

So this is one of those "ooh this artist/band used to have this great song featured on Buffy/Angel I wonder what they're up to now" post.
In a key episode of Angel season 5, the one where Fred was dead and Illyria took over her body, there was a pretty song playing as the screen fades to black. That one song is 'A Place Called Home', by Kim Richey. It remained the only song of hers I ever heard, that is until I'm aware that she's back with a new studio album after 5 years on hiatus, entitled 'Chinese Boxes'.

And I'm glad that she returned. For me, 'Chinese Boxes' is a strong effort, 10 tracks and there's no single dud. She's got a great voice and a knack for writing simple, and sweet tunes about love & relationship. It's the kind of record that needs a booklet with lyrics inside, so that on a nice, cloudy day, you can put it on, sit down, have a cup of coffee and listen to every word she says. If you're into folk-pop singer/songwriter stuff, then this is well worth a listen. For a start, check out the opening track, "Jack And Jill", a song about two lovebirds' ideal day, with this opening line: 'She wore that dress like it was a Saturday, pretty as the summer rose, picked in the morning..."

Kim Richey - Jack And Jill
Kim Richey - Follow Me

Visit her MySpace
Buy the album

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I'm screwed. Yesterday I was doing my usual fun and educational 'googling-myself' and something came up. Something unexpected. I found out there was actually a French electronic band called 'Bamboo Orchestra' and their MySpace has about 30000 friends! I swear I had no idea of their existence! When I was thinking of possible names for the new blog, I decided to go with that one because I thought 'Hey, this sounds cool and 'quirky'. Sure no one has ever used it before'. Well, stupid, naive me. Why couldn't I just be cautious and check it up on either Myspace or Google first? It's not the first time this happened, either. Months after I started this blog, I accidentally discovered that there was some Latin band called Zeon, and Zeon's also some anime robot character name. But this time around, I might get into trouble.
I'm really pissed off right now. What should I do, people? Should I close the blog (the other one, not this), make a new one and start from scrap or should I just pretend that I do not know and keep blogging til the day they come knocking at my door? Seriously, I don't know what else to do. Temporarily, I'm gonna have to call off updates while I'm trying to figure out a decent solution. Ideas are appreciated.

D'OH part deux: My account on Youtube has been permanently disabled, just because I uploaded a nicer version of a Gwen's video. I checked the official version and thought that it wasn't cool of her people to tag a big white link of her website on the video, so I just decided to provide a better alternative for viewers as I happened to have a high quality one. This happened before, once for 'The Salmon Dance' video and once for a Feist live performance on Carson Daly (stupid NBC, they didn't even have it up online...). And now the man has come and brought me down once and for all, therefore making about 30 videos uploaded by me go to waste. And they're all really good ones, some of which was the only copy available on YouTube. Fuck it, I give up. Fuck those major label c**ts. I can't bother creating another account and start it all over again. I'm through with this shit. What the fuck is going on these days? I'm so tired of bullshit.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weekend Special: Erlend Oye

*I hope this post will make up for the lacks of updates in the past few days. That was me and blogging, I just couldn't do it if I wasn't in the right mood.

There he is, one of the true music icons of our times. The uncoolest bespectacled, curly-haired music geek. Yes, you can tell I'm quite a fan. I've been meaning to made a monstrous post that he deserved, covering all of his projects past and present, and I can't put it off any longer. Norwegian musician, the Erlend Oye, is the center of this weekend special.

I first knew Erlend as one half of Kings Of Convenience. The video for 'Misread' was playing on TV and I thought 'Hey, this video's kinda clever! And the music is quite something'. Never did I expect then that this band would become one of my all-time favorites. Kings Of Convenience is like the modern-day Simon & Garfunkel. They're immune to trends and fads, just two friends in Scandinavia that like to play guitars and pen songs in their youth. Erlend's voice is distinctive and easily recognizable, one that can emit many feelings. It's like sitting under the shades of an apple tree in a summer afternoon. It's like a day spent looking through all of your old photo albums and realize how things can change. Their music might be better if listened to alone. Timeless bedroom music...

Kings Of Convenience - Misread (there's a one-take springtime-themed video...)
Kings Of Convenience - I'd Rather Dance With You (there's a video of Erlend Oye teaching ballet kids silly moves...)
Kings Of Convenience - Cayman Islands (there's a boring 'performance' video)

So after the success of the debut 'Quiet Is The New Loud', while Erik was busy studying, Erlend started exploring his other side of musical interests, the electronica side, and soon he collaborated with Royksopp and others, released a stopgap remix album, had his own electronic solo debut, and eventually, a DJ-Kicks mix. None of them appears to be uninspired and pretentious, it really seems that Erlend enjoyed his newfound passion with a genre so opposite to that of KOC, and it's refreshing for me, too, to hear his emotive, wistful voice harmonizing with IDM beats and seas of synths. Here are some choice cuts from those aformentioned albums.

from VERSUS:
Kings Of Convenience - I Don't Know What I Can Save You From (Royksopp Remix)
Kings Of Convenience - Weight Of My Words (Four Tet Remix)

from DJ KICKS:
Erlend Oye - The Black Keys Work (Phonique Remix)

from MELODY A.M.:
Royksopp - Remind Me (Someone Else's Radio Remix) (his best collab ever, IMO)

from UNREST:
Erlend Oye - A Sudden Rush (fave track on the album)

from Limited Edition "7 Single (2006)

Kompis & Erlend Oye - All Ears

In 2006, a band named The Whitest Boy Alive started popping all over the blogosphere, and it took me a while to take notice and find out that it is Erlend's new side project. It was first started as an all-programmed, electronica outfit, but eventually, they decide to strip it all down to a sparse arrangements of just vocals, bass, drums and guitars. The result is 'Dreams', an album for those who had been wondering 'What if KOC gets a bit more dancier?'. There are songs that are awestricken, indeed, and here are a couple of them.

from DREAMS:
The Whitest Boy Alive - Golden Cage (you must search the video up on YouTube, the animation is just amazing...)
The Whitest Boy Alive - Fireworks (love this bit: "Patience is just another word for getting old/Resolution's just as impossible as letting go"...)

As a bonus, here are some more rare covers. Be sure to check out the Feist one, if I hadn't known it better, I would have just thought of it as a new, unreleased song of their own.

Erlend Oye - No Train To Stockholm (Lee Hazlewood Cover)
Erlend Oye - Friends And Lovers (Bread Cover)
Kings Of Convenience - Gatekeeper (Feist Live Cover)

Apparently, Erik, the other king, has his own side project, too, which is called Kommode, but do not expect any album to be released soon, as they only got one song up at their MySpace, and both Erik and Erlend have confirmed to be working in their Bergen studio again, for album #3. I'm counting down the days...

If you need some more fantastic live recordings for your download pleasure, this is the place to be. It's quite incredible what they have in stores over there...

Erlend Oye's fan MySpace
Kings Of Convenience's MySpace
The Whitest Boy Alive's MySpace

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Keren Ann

Keren Ann is a Israeli-born singer, but spent most of her life living in Paris and NYC. She can sing in both French and English. Though she's on the same label with Norah Jones, in my opinion, she's actually the better alternative, with a fuller, more engaging sound that's more than just typical coffee-shop background music. Her latest eponymous English album was released earlier this year. It was a bit of a letdown for me, as she seemed to go for a more Americana vibe, and most of the tracks are pretty play-by-numbers. However, this outstanding track, 'Lay Your Head Down', resumed what I love about her. Soothing and sweeping, with lovely bits of handclaps. I shouldn't say this...but just lay your head down and listen to this.

Keren Ann - Lay Your Head Down

And here we go back in time, to the first album that introduced her to me, 'Not Going Anywhere'. The title track is a quiet, melancholic chant, one to listen to at those chilly nights, and 'Sailor & Widow' has this kind of vaguely visible French cool vibe about it, some have linked its similarities to a track of Feist (My Moon My Man).

Keren Ann - Not Going Anywhere
Keren Ann - Sailor & Widow



Life's been quite chaotic in the past few days, which explains for the lack of updates lately. Still struggling to adapt to the new changes. Nevertheless, I've pitched the idea for the weekend special, and it should go online tomorrow, according to plan.
And before I ended the post, let me just make an official announcement.
The winner of The Crystal Method contest is: Donovan D., US.

Congratulations! Hope you'll get the prize soon and enjoy the hell out of it.

Thanks to all of you for participating and to those who missed it this time - don't hate me. Hopefully there's plenty more to come in the near future.

The Bird And The Bee

The Bird And The Bee has been my object of affection ever since last year, when I first got a hold of their teaser EP. Their self-titled full-length was my first favorite album of 2007 and it still hasn't worn out for me so far.
The duo was formed as a project of producer Greg Kurstin and singer Inara George. Together they make dreamy, luscious, and melodic pop that blends elements of jazz standards and electronic overtones. The description on their MySpace, "A futuristic 1960's American film set in Brazil...", is downright accurate. Their music is sun-soaked, dipped in crayon colors, glowing brightly with the alluring charm of Inara's vocals, flawless songwriting skills, and supposedly adult-oriented lyrical content. It was a very strong debut in my opinion, one you can play without skipping because there's not really a single weak song on it. Here are three cuts from the album, including a tune you might have heard in a little iPod Touch commercial.

The Bird And The Bee - Again & Again
The Bird And The Bee - La La La
The Bird And The Bee - Fucking Boyfriend

And just when I thought I got enough of birds and bees, a new 5-track EP arrived in September to my pleasant surprise. It's a nice addition to the album, with slightly different sounds to the album's tracks. However, the one track that got me dumbstruck was their SUBLIME cover of the Bee Gees' 'How Deep Is Your Love'. Inara's vocals in this song are just heavenly, and Sia even dropped by to sprinkle some backing vocals. This is definitely the best cover of this song I've ever heard, a must-listen. It's just so fucking awesome, which makes me yearn for an entire cover album from them.

The Bird And The Bee - How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees Cover)