TEGAN AND SARA have earned SAINTHOOD

tegan-and-sara-sainthood

it’s been so long since you said ‘well i know what i want and what i want’s right here with you’

♫ Tegan & Sara – The Ocean

It’s been 2 weeks since I dropped “Hell” on you to celebrate the release of Tegan & Sara’s Sainthood. That day I started listening to the album and it’s been on steady rotation since. The sisters have definitely stepped up their game on this one and have brought a faster, tighter, more in-your-face album with over 6o% of the tracks clocking in under 3 minutes. “Northshore” is the most punk, all ripping guitars and punched up vocals, while still retaining a very T&S sound. “Alligator” (below) and it’s sauntering beat might be the most traditional track and “The Ocean” (above) might be my favorite, but that’s a super tough choice. I wish I had some zippy remarks to make here but this is just going to be a boring endorsement of a great album. Every track is a jam and if you have ever appreciated Tegan and Sara you just can’t go wrong with Sainthood.

♫ Tegan & Sara – Alligator

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NINELIVES THE CAT is CRASHing around my speakers like some TESTy little KITTEN

NineLives The Cat

you know that three is a crowd but two is an act

♫ NineLives The Cat – Crash Test Kitten (feat. Kitten)

I kinda dig the album art but it makes it seem like the music is going to be super lo-fi and unlisteable which really couldn’t be farther from the truth. Australian-bred NineLives The Cat covers a whole gamut of vibes on his debut LP Are We Dead Yet? Crash Test Kitten is all super-bleepy synths and a perfect head bobbing rhythm that you can’t hep but grooving with. It was all I needed to track down the rest of the album which is filled a handful of other gems. “Sick” has an infectiously smooth beat, over which NineLives lays his distorted wail, giving the track a fantastic complexity that I can’t stop listening to. “Twirl My Hair” is almost bubbly pop, if it wasn’t for the growly voice and naughty words.

♫ NineLives The Cat – What’s My Name?

“What’s My Name” has a reggae bounce and hip hop flavor that would be perfect for a cruise-up-the-coastline montage. Are We Dead Yet?‘s last third falls off a bit as the tracks loose their pop, but there is plenty else to keep me coming back to this album for sure.

On a side note, NineLives The Cat is also in the Baltimore based The Death Set, who play a much harder brand of rock. They recently lost one of their founding members, Beau Velasco, so I am sure NineLives is going through hard times these days. Our hearts go out to you and yours. Thank you for the great music.

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DEAD MAN’S BONES is music for when MY BODY’S tired, feeling like A ZOMBIE, or FOR YOU to enjoy at Halloween!

deadmanbones

i can’t fit in this skin
it’s worn and used and thin

♫ Dead Man’s Bones – My Body’s a Zombie for You

In April I saw this video. It was a new band performing their only song in a cemetery. It was fantastic. Considering that the only mp3 available was a rip off the video (below) I figured I would a wait a bit so I could share a proper recording with you all. Well now their debut LP has finally come out and the damn song isn’t even on it! I don’t think Dead Man’s Bones ever recorded a studio version. I would be pissed, except that what they did record is a fantastic album. The collaboration between Ryan Gosling (yes, the actor) and Zach Shields began as a”theatrical monster ghost love story for the stage” but quickly evolved into an album. Keeping those themes, they learned a bunch of instruments, brought in a children’s choir (brilliant), and recorded the perfect Halloween album. (Read the pretty interesting full story here). Considering it’s origins (monster-theater, Hollywood actor) the album is surprisingly not-corny, and considering it’s themes (ghosts, death, cemeteries) it’s surprisingly not-scary. The music is at times haunting (“Dead Hearts”), dancey (“In The Room Where You Sleep”), and catchy (“Pa Pa Power”), but always solid and has a surprisingly universal appeal for such a niche concept. I know you don’t have your shit together for Halloween so get this album and get to work! Just don’t let the rhythm take control of your pumpkin carving hand or you could end partying with real ghouls! AAHHAahaaa… Oh boy, that may have actually had some weight if the guy in their awesome promo video had said it.

♫ Dead Man’s Bones – Name In Stone (Live Version)

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KINGS OF CONVENIENCE make music for a quiet BOAT ride. I can get BEHIND that.

KOC-DOD

through the air there’s a fluffy cloud falling down as rain

♫ Kings of Convenience – Boat Behind

Kings Of Convenience’s new album, Declaration Of Dependence, is the perfect album for chilly Sundays. It’s light, tender, and intimate; perfect for nursing your body back to reality after a Saturday’s worth of BAC-alteration. I first fell in love with Kings’ 2002 groovy remix album, Versus, which set me up for some disappointment when I discovered how sparse and mellow their music really is. Except for “I’d Rather Dance With You,” I never got into 2004’s Riot On An Empty Street, and sort of wrote Kings off as too downer for my tastes. In recent years I have fallen much harder for Erlend Øye’s dancey, full-band, side project, The Whitest Boy Alive, and that pleased me just fine. Then I heard the Declaration and got down with it. Sure, it was the bouncy “Boat Behind” (above) that sucked me in, but the rest of the super sparse (two voices, two guitars, and the occasional string instrument) album has found a home in my ears. Pitchfork has some more to say on the album’s themes and genesis, etc, but if you are like me you just want to sit back with some hot tea and soak in the music.

♫ Kings of Convenience – Peacetime Resistance

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FUN. know ALL too well that THE PRETTY GIRLS are often less-so without BARLIGHTS

fun aim Ignite

i just hate the band ’cause they remind me of you

♫ fun. – All The Pretty Girls

Anyone who has ever read Pitchfork knows that haters are no fun (except when they are), but the truth is that even a sunshine-blinded optimists like myself struggles with hateration. It’s this struggle that has taken me so damn long to post about the charming, silly, upbeat, and pretty darn good debut album by fun. (yes, lowercase and yes, with the period). fun. front-man Nate Ruess was one half of The Format, a mid-00’s power duo with 2 fantastic LPs and a legion of fans who were bummed to hear that they broke up in early 2008. When I heard the first few tracks from Nate’s new project, fun., I just couldn’t get into it. I mean, first of all that’s just a stupid name. Just go ahead and name yourself Good Music and let me forget about making my own opinions (Oh wait, Kanye already did that…). But after months returning to the album in search of a spark I finally found two songs I liked enough to write about.

fun pretty girls

Then the really funny thing happened. As I listen to the album right now, writing this, I am enjoying it more than I ever have. It’s like the instant I got over myself and my nostalgia for The Format I was able to really get into the music and enjoy it for what it is. It’s not The Format but that’s OK, it’s great even. Because somehow I feel like Aim And Ignite might even end up on my best albums of 2009 list and that is really weird, considering. So if you are feeling these two jams, or were ever into The Format, I recommend you get over yourself too and give your time (and yes, money) to these 10 tracks. I refuse to fall into the easy pun here so let me just say that fun. really is… entertaining, amusing, diverting, pleasurable, pleasing, agreeable, and interesting.

♫ fun. – Barlights

p.s. I just had to include the art for the “All The Pretty Girls” single because it’s fresh.

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JAMIE T presents CHAKA DEMUS. It’s just the name of THE MAN’S latest single, a MACHINE of a jam.

kingsqueens-jamiet

if your gonna learn a song you gotta sing along

♫ Jamie T – Chaka Demus

After becoming mildly obsessed with Stick N’ Stones, the first single off of Jamie T’s sophomore album, I was a little scared to be let down by the rest of Kings and Queens. Luckily for the whole damned world Jamie T did not disappoint, delivering such a fantastically varied and solid album that I still grin while listening to it. It doesn’t hurt that Jamie is one of the sharpest lyricists out there, slicing words over beats as a perfect double whammy. I don’t really know what else to say except that you should get this album. If you dig the punked-up Stick N’ Stones, the bouncy “Chaka Demus” (above) or the arm-over-shoulder bro-jam “The Man’s Machine” then you will love Kings & Queens right off the bat. If those songs haven’t spoken to you then you need to buy it anyway and just listen to it until you come to your senses.

♫ Jamie T – The Man’s Machine

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CASSETTES WON’T LISTEN is QUICKLY APPROACHING my top albums of the year list

IntoTheHillside

♫ Cassettes Won’t Listen – Quickly Approaching

Yes, you have seen that album art before. It was attached to my ramblings on the title track. Since getting the full album it has basically been on all the time which is really weird because it’s instrumental. Definitely not my usual steez. I figure it was fitting to quickly revisit it (and bait you into getting it with one more track) since the album is inspired by Jason Drake’s move to Los Angeles, a city I will be departing today. Yup, back to Warsaw to continue the adventure. Good thing I have this collection of jams to keep me company on the plane and there are no lyrics to tempt me to sing along! The dude sitting next to me won’t even know how lucky he is. Seriously though, this album is great. I had a really hard time picking the song for this post. So many good ones. And that cover!

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MARIACHI EL BRONX surprise every CELL in the body. Right, MATES?

MariachElBronx

your kind of face could save a soul, it keeps me cryin’ all night to you

♫ Mariachi El Bronx – Cell Mates

Now I know that of all the reasons you guys visit TBE, my meticulous coverage of Mariachi music is only, like, number 6, but stay with me. In addition to one of the best album covers of the year (sorry PETA), Los Angeles’ Mariachi el Bronx have crafted better mariachi than at that overpriced Oaxacan restaurant in Hollywood. Lead single, and album opener, “Cell Mates” [fun video] is a horn-infused hip-shaker that hooked me from left field the first time I heard it. The rest of the album follows suit, with jangly guitars, fantastic horns, and clearly crooned lyrics. It’s probably the album I am most excited about playing today at my BBQ. I recommend you fire up the grill and do likewise.

OK, now with all that said and done, let me drop a little knowledge on you. Although this is their first album with the Mariachi el Bronx moniker, the band has been playing hardcore/punk as The Bronx since 2002. Yes. Hardcore. I saw them at Sunset Junction 2 years ago and my little brother demanded that we leave. Growing up in Los Angeles the band had always been inspired by Mexican culture, mariachi music included, and after 3 self titled albums as The Bronx, they decided to do a little side project of straight up mariachi. Strange but true. I love it. For comparison, here is the only Bronx song I ever really got into.

♫ The Bronx – Around The Horn (from 2006’s The Bronx)

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