April 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Johnathan Rice.
Singer/songwriter originally from Scotland, based out of Washington D.C.

Johnathan Rice

After graduating from high school in Washington, D.C. Rice moved to New York where he began work on his debut album. Shortly after arriving in the city, the World Trade Center was destroyed and this, along with other themes of war can be heard in his lyrics. The album was recorded several times before Rice was happy with it, finally settling with Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis, creating a rich, diverse sound with most tracks leading into one another as a single “work” of music. Rice has cited Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Beatles, and country legend Gram Parsons as influences on his work. (wikipedia)

Rice’s Scottish influences are not far from his music, but don’t discount his growing up in the USA. There’s a very Americana feel to his songs, all bar hopping and guitars, though they still keep an element of foreign grace. I’d compare him to an early John Mayer. Here’s to hoping Rice doesn’t turn out like Mayer did.
(from the album Trouble Is Real)
“So Sweet”


FEATURED ALBUM: Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down – Noah and the Whale.

April 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Peaceful, the World Lays Me DownNoah and the Whale. (2008.)

Noah and the Whale

What lovely music. The band cites both punk rock and folk as their influences, and while more of the latter is at first seen in their songs, the former peeks its way through in unexpected ways. Laura Marling is considered a member of this group, even though they switch out female singers, and so both this album and her solo work have some intertwining themes.
If you’re looking for something dark and visceral, you won’t find it here. However, you will find something beautiful. The lyrics themselves are like dirty pools left over after rain: sure, they’re a bit filthy, but they’re fun to jump in, and oh, how they shine in the sun!
buy Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down on amazon
“2 Atoms In a Molecule”
“Do What You Do”

COVER: “With or Without You” – Keane.

April 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Oh, Keane. You dependable little band. Yes, you’ve been all over the radio for the past few years. Yes, you’ve been accused of being another generic British band riding on the coattails of Radiohead. But I have faith in you. I think that you’re more than that. Though yes, much of your music fits perfectly on radio playlists, you have a certain je ne sais quoi, a quality I can’t quite put my finger on. I affectionately think of you as the gateway drug to other, more indie bands. “You listen to Keane? Awesome! Here’s some other bands I think you should hear….”


But this post is not about Keane the band, or about their discography at all (I’d start with Hopes and Fears, if you’re wondering). It’s about a cover of a song called “With or Without You,” a song that on its own has a reputation and by proxy has been covered by too many bands to count. It’s the pop-rock version of “Hallelujah.” Originally by U2 (of course), the song takes on an almost acoustic property in the hands of these mates. Recorded for a radio show, it’s soft and sweet and minimally deviates from the original. And believe me, that’s more than okay.

Keane on
“With or Without You” – Keane.

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SPOTLIGHT: Joshua Radin.

April 18, 2009 Leave a comment

A lot has been said about Joshua Radin in the past few years. After one of his demos was heard by close friend Zach Braff, his music was consequently played on Braff’s show Scrubs and quickly gained notoriety. For good reason too, because Radin uses an everyman persona to really deliver his music as something heartfelt and, dare I say it, ordinary.

Joshua Radin

Ordinary sounds like an insult. But it’s not. To me, ordinary music is the best music of all: it’s simple, and beautiful in that simplicity; it sounds as though anyone could compose it in a moment of greatest vulnerability. This is what makes Joshua Radin so amazing. He sings, and that song exists as just itself. Whether you relate to it or not, it doesn’t make the song any less perfect.
(from the album We Were Here)
“Everything’ll Be Alright (Will’s Lullaby)”
(from the Unclear Sky EP) [iTunes exclusive]
“The Fear You Won’t Fall”

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April 17, 2009 Leave a comment

First Aid Kit.
Indie band from Sweden.

First Aid Kit

Authenticity and honesty have come to characterize the music of First Aid Kit. It has the feel of forest folk songs, full of enchanting storytelling, and even a sense of compelling, ancient mystery. Their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” has gained much press as of late, and the sisters that comprise the group as planning a full-length album released in September of 2009.

This group is made up of two girls, aged sixteen and eighteen, and by listening you’d never know it. Their music is mature beyond expectation, though there’s still the beckoning of a childhood you’ve yet to live in every song. Though their Fleet Foxes cover is exceptional, their original material should not be disregarded, as it is like a freshly laundered sheet during the summer: sweet, innocent, and smelling of sunshine.
buy Drunken Trees EP on amazon
“Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes cover)”
“You’re Not Coming Home Tonight”
“Jagadamba, You Might”

SOUNDTRACK: Music for Egon Schiele.

April 16, 2009 Leave a comment

You’ve probably never heard of Egon Schiele, much less whatever production the music was made for. I’ll admit, it is rather obscure. But let’s have a little lesson, shall we?
Egon Schiele was an Austrian major figurative painter of the early 19th century. His work was widely controversial for featuring nudes and so-called “pornographic” constructs, though his paintings are now considered to be associated with the art nouveau movement. His life was made into a German film in 1980, and was later adapted into a theatrical dance production in 1995. This theater production was scored by American post-rock group Rachel’s. (wikipedia for Egon Schiele)

Music for Egon Schiele

Rachel’s is an American post-rock group formed in Louisville, Kentucky in 1991. The group’s work is strongly influenced by classical music, particularly inspired by the minimalist music of the late 20th century, and its composition reflects this. The group’s recordings and performances feature a varying ensemble of musicians, who play a range of string instruments (including viola and cello) in combination with piano, guitars, electric bass guitar, and a drum set that includes a large orchestral bass drum. (wikipedia for Rachel’s)

This is classical music, if classical music had a present-day stigma. There’s certain elements of modern musical qualities, but above all the instrumentals never lose their sense of far-away times and pure musicality, back when it meant string instruments and sheet music.

Music for Egon Schiele on wikipedia
Rachel’s on
buy the album on amazon
“Family Portrait”
“Egon & Gertie”

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FEATURED SONG: “Creeper” – Islands.

April 15, 2009 Leave a comment

“Creeper.” It’s become my generation’s slang term of choice, meaning someone who is a stalker or just generally creepy. I’ll admit to overusing it, because it’s just so gosh darn applicable. But in this case, “Creeper” means an intensely catchy song by Islands.


Islands is an indie rock band based in Montreal, Quebec. Their sound has been described as “some dancehall influences, some calypso” and being “more diverse and sprawling and ambitious” than others. (wikipedia)
I personally would describe them, and this song in particular, as being utterly danceable. I’m not sure if they’re making fun of our cultural lexicon or simply taking part, but either way I’m happy.
(from the album Arm’s Way)
“Creeper” – Islands.

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