urgencytobleed: (Default)
So... here's the deal. I enjoy making lists. I also enjoy torturing myself in the form of forcing myself to pick favorites (it's a very painful process for me, okay? I feel bad leaving things out and choosing one thing over another!). So what better way to combine these two boredom-induced activities than by making lists of my top twenty songs by my favorite musicians? Naturally, first up is none other than Rilo Kiley.


I had planned on posting this particular list awhile ago and I had this whole entry with in-depth explanations for each choice all ready to go... and then I somehow accidentally clicked refresh and the saved draft ended up being not-so-recent so I lost it all and got so frustrated that I didn't even want to post it anymore. But I have the songs uploaded so it seems a waste not to. But I can't do all the explaining over again. I've posted about a good amount of these songs before anyway so if you want to know my reasons for loving them, just look back through the Rilo Kiley tag or something. Or just let the songs speak for themselves; come on, I think it's pretty obvious why they're awesome. If you somehow have not heard any of these, get to doing that right this moment!

As a disclaimer of sorts, I must stress that this is a list that's constantly changing; the top ten has been pretty static for awhile but the bottom ten are more fluid and move around depending on what I'm in the mood for. Also, please don't hate me for not including a certain song. I do love almost every song of theirs and this was a hard list to narrow down! And I was hoping this would make a nice "ultimate Rilo Kiley" mix but unfortunately it won't quite fit on an 80-minute disc as is. The last couple of songs would have to be knocked off. Or maybe only one if the silence/interludes at the end of certain songs was edited out but I'm too lazy to do that right now.

Drumroll, please. )
urgencytobleed: (ki i wanna fuck it up)
To make up for my sporadic posting as of late, here are two lovely bands/performance artists/what have you that I have never posted about before. So without further ado...

The Bridges



 
Description + mp3s. )

Miranda July

 
Description + mp3s. )
urgencytobleed: (mindy and leighton are so cute)
Lydia



So, hey, I know I've posted about this band ad nauseum at this point, but I have reason to this time - I swear! Here's a little announcement that was made yesterday:

Linc Star is proud to announce that Lydia will be signing to Universal/Motown Records today, August 25, 2008. Stay tuned for Lydia's Major Label debut, Illuminate, coming this fall. Also be sure to keep updated on Lydia's myspace for upcoming tour dates, as they will be supporting a major tour this fall.

Obviously, this is very exciting news. Right now, the album is only available online, but this re-release means that it will be much more widely available and hopefully fairly easy to find in stores. And of course, more exposure = more fans = more touring, etc. It's kind of strange to get used to them going from having basically no label to being on a major label and I hope that the major label thing will actually work out for them; if it does, it can only lead to very good things. So... here are a few songs to celebrate!


And if you've somehow been living under a rock regarding this blog for a few months. )
urgencytobleed: (mindy and leighton are so cute)
Apparently, I've found my niche in sharing with all of you my latest discoveries in the world of bands that feature both male and female vocals prominently... so to keep in that direction, here's another!

One for the Team



So here's an interesting story: I saw a promo ad for this band's new album in a magazine a couple weeks ago and based solely on the adorableness of the above photograph, I decided that I would give them a listen. I was expecting to be let down, honestly, because of the totally random non-music-related reason for checking them out, but I was surprised - very pleasantly surprised. It turns out they are actually extremely good and their album, Build It Up, is very steadily making its way closer to the top of my ongoing list of favorite '08 releases.

What exactly do they sound like? Well, I myself would call them slightly lo-fi power pop (and it seems that I'm at least semi-close - their MySpace lists one of their genres as power pop as well). Anyway, not wasting any more time with meaningless genres, basically their music is full of synth-tastic melodies, uber-catchy hooks, perfect boy/girl harmonies, and cute-cute lyrics ("Let's move, let's move to Brooklyn together/We'll both get internships at Matador records/And we'll get an apartment there so small we'll only call it a part/One part you, one part me/We'll live in moderation in the NYC"). In other words, all of the ingredients to be completely awesome. Here are a few songs from Build It Up, which is currently available at Amazon mp3 and other digital music retailers and will be released on CD August 19th through Militia Group (pre-order here).


In other news, I haven't been keeping you up-to-date very well with the latest developments in my two most anticipated upcoming releases. So, let's get to that!

urgencytobleed: (where do i belong)


Johnny Foreigner

So here's the deal. I've tried to get into this band about ten times now. And every time, I absolutely hated them; I seriously thought they were nothing more than terrible noise. But I kept hearing good things so I kept trying anyway. So I downloaded their recently released album - Waited Up 'Til It Was Light - and I liked it a lot better than any of their previous recordings I'd heard (probably because the actual sound quality is a lot better) but still wasn't really into it. Then, I had deleted it from my computer but not my mp3 player, so I ended up hearing one of the songs on shuffle. It was a lot quieter and calmer and nicer than I remembered any of them being and I thought it had to be another band before I actually looked to see that it was them. I quickly became obsessed. This song was "DJs Get Doubts", which as I mentioned, is about the only slow-ish song they have, but apparently it works well as a starting point because from there, I've kind of fallen in love with most of the rest of the album as well. The rest of these songs are a lot more aggressive and frenetic than the above-mentioned but I like them a lot, especially "Lea Room" which is just insanely catchy. I'm sure to some people, they still will sound like terrible noise because they can be pretty harsh on the ears at times, but I'm glad that I finally can say that I like them now. I guess if I had to make comparisons it'd be like a much more aggressive Be Your Own Pet (who unfortunately just broke up, by the way), or for some reason I keep thinking Los Campesinos! (who are putting out another album in October, by the way) if they did punk rock, or maybe the closest would be Help She Can't Swim, another punk rock-ish girl/boy band from the UK, or possibly like a sloppier, louder Blood Red Shoes. I don't know. I'm terrible at making comparisons, I've said a million times. Just listen and decide for yourself.

urgencytobleed: (zooey deschanel)
Now It's Overhead



Now It's Overhead is essentially Andy LeMaster. He is the band's frontman in every way imaginable - aside from singing, he also happens to be a talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and visual artist (all of NIO's album covers are created by him; I adore this one though I'm not really sure why). He has worked with everyone from fellow Saddle Creek artists like Bright Eyes, Azure Ray, and Art in Manila to bands like Drive-By Truckers, R.E.M., and more. Is there anything he can't do? It doesn't seem like it.

Anyway, I first listened to NIO about a year ago (and even posted a couple of songs) but never really went deeper than a handful of listens to their newest album before completely forgetting about them for awhile. After listening to Maria Taylor's new EP a lot over the past week, I've realized that I kind of really love Andy's voice and needed to go back to his band again. So I've been listening to them quite a bit lately and have come to the conclusion that I like them a lot more than I originally thought I did. I'm terrible at describing music half the time, but I'll try anyway. There are a lot of shoegaze-esque layered, slightly distorted vocals and a good amount of electronic elements, but their music doesn't really fall completely into either of those categories - it has more of an indie rock feel overall and is often very catchy, especially their more recent material. And then there's Andy's voice, which is unique without being annoying and impressive in a very simple, subtle way. Basically, it's just really good music, though it might take a few listens to actually sink in and worm its way into your brain. And I'm still extremely in awe (and jealous) of how much talent Andy possesses.

As for the picture I used, I don't think Maria and Orenda are really in the band anymore or at least aren't as big a part of it, but come on, they're so much prettier to look at than any of the guys. Except for Andy... he's pretty, too.

* = most highly recommended
 
urgencytobleed: (matthew gray gubler)
My Brightest Diamond



My Brightest Diamond is singer-songwriter Shara Worden. I've been meaning to post more about her latest album, A Thousand Shark's Teeth, but I don't really think I can put together an actual review without it sounding terribly repetitive, so instead, here are a couple more songs from that (I posted Inside a Boy a month or so ago) and some from her first album, Bring Me the Workhorse. Basically, the music is very gorgeous, dark, atmospheric, and slightly avantgarde and Shara's voice is simply to die for, ranging from banshee-like shrieks ("Freak Out") to operatic warbling ("Golden Star") to sexy and dramatic ("The Ice & the Storm"). Her debut is a bit more lively and rock-oriented but still quite mellow, while her recently released sophomore effort is more on the sweeping, orchestral, classical side of the spectrum. They are both excellent and if you enjoy other slightly kooky artists like Kate Bush, St. Vincent, and Bat for Lashes it is almost a given that you'll love Shara as well.

The Grates

Jun. 19th, 2008 12:59 pm
urgencytobleed: (ki i wanna fuck it up)
The Grates



The Grates are a highly energetic, insanely catchy trio hailing from Brisbane, Australia. Back in 2006, when their very good debut album - Gravity Won't Get You High - came out, I was extremely obsessed with this band for awhile, but by the time I started posting here, the obsession had waned and I haven't shared much of their music. But I still think they are awesome. I guess if comparisons have to be drawn, the easiest (and possibly laziest) ones to make are to bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Be Your Own Pet, though the Grates are more poppy than both of them, more fun than YYYs, and less harsh than BYOP. Overall, their music is nothing terribly deep or life-altering, but it is tons of fun and sticks in your head for ages. Plus, frontwoman Patience Hodgson is perhaps the cutest, most adorable girl in the entire world - or at least in Australia. She has quite a voice on her as well and when it's called for, can belt it out with the best of them. And of course, there's that equally adorable Australian accent that just makes everything sound better.

Anyway, what propelled me to post about them now in the first place is that they have a brand new album due out in August called Teeth Lost Hearts Won and I just heard the single, "Burn Bridges", for the first time yesterday and as expected, it is terribly catchy and addicting. Patience's vocals are as charming as ever and as if that chorus isn't already perfection, there is also the added bonus of handclaps! Which everyone knows I love so this song is a complete winner in my book. Here is the video, which is quite odd and I'm not sure if I actually like it or not, but it sure is interesting, at least.


And, finally, here are a few of my favorite songs from Gravity Won't Get You High. They all come highly recommended, of course.

urgencytobleed: (zooey deschanel)
The Anniversary



My latest obsession, further cementing the fact that I can't seem to listen to anything except bands that take advantage of both male and female vocals these days. I've tried to get into them on about three separate occasions over the past year or two. The first time I hated them, the second time I was a bit more accepting but overall wondered what was so great, the third time about a week ago I thought it was actually quite awesome. Which all leads up to where I am now: not completely obsessed but pretty close.

Their first album, Designing a Nervous Breakdown, is fucking awesome and extremely close to perfect. It kind of reminds me of early Rainer Maria, with the addition of catchy-as-hell synth and keyboard lines and better harmonization vocal-wise. I think I've mentioned before that I don't really care for early Rainer Maria, but if it sounded like this, I imagine I would love it - it's like all of the good parts magnified with all of the bad parts removed. As far as their second album, Your Majesty, goes, I haven't completely decided yet; it's so completely different and sometimes comes across as really forced and contrived but it also has a few brilliant moments. And anyway, I'm totally in love with Adrianne Verhoeven's voice, which I already knew from other projects she's involved with that I like (Art in Manila, Fourth of July), so listening to her almost makes up for anything lacking in the actual music.

The band broke up in 2004 but there is actually a 2-disc collection of rarities and unreleased tracks being released this summer, so look out for that. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite songs from both albums. (The first two songs are especially recommended, sooo catchy.)

Designing a Nervous Breakdown:


Your Majesty:

urgencytobleed: (mindy and leighton are so cute)
Mates of State


I've posted about the other albums coming out in the next couple of months that I'm extremely excited about, but not this one yet, so let's fix that right now! Mates of State consists of husband and wife duo Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner and their sound is pretty expansive and full for it being just the two of them, usually with organ/keyboards and drums as the only instrumentation. Their last release, Bring It Back, saw them maturing and varying their sound a bit more - without sacrificing any of the charming harmonies or infectious energy of their back catalogue. Re-Arrange Us, out May 20th on Barsuk records, seems to take this concept even further. The first single, "Get Better", is as catchy as ever but in a more subtle way; the lyrics are more mature and less abstract and - gasp! - piano and strings have even replaced their signature organ sounds. But it all works. I have to admit, I was a bit iffy about the song on first listen because it wasn't what I was expecting, but now that I've heard it a few times, I've grown to love it and I can't wait to hear what else is in store. Check out the song and its strangely adorable video below, along with a track from each of their previous albums - if you haven't listened to Mates of State before, now is the time to do so! Recommended for fans of Tilly and the Wall and similar energetic indie pop bands, but really, everyone should love them if they know what's good for them. ;)
 
Everything's gonna get lighter even if it never gets better. )



You can pre-order Re-Arrange Us now at Mates of States' official webstore, with or without a special edition t-shirt.

And so that this post isn't completely devoid of downloads, here are some of my favorite Mates songs, one from each of their four albums and one EP. Enjoy!

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Shannon

April 2012

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