MINUS THE BEAR HOLD on to an old fan: ME. I’m DOWN with Omni..

hold me down, baby, or the wind will catch me out again

♫ Minus The Bear – Hold Me Down

Six weeks ago we got a taste of Minus The Bear’s first single off of their 4th LP Omni. That song, “My Time” (below), has quickly become one of my favorite songs of the year so I was both excited and nervous to hear the rest of the album. I’ve been sitting on it for a week now and can happily say that this is some good stuff. A lot less angular and jagged than 2005’s Menos El Oso and more upbeat than 2007’s Planet Of Ice, it’s the smoothest and most polished offering we’ve heard from these guys. Their quirky guitar noodling and odd beats are still their, they just aren’t the driving force anymore. Omni kicks things off right with “My Time” and while it’s solid until the finish it’s “Hold Me Down” that always catches my ear. It’s got that signature Minus The Bear guitar sparkle/crunch combo and you gotta love that churning ‘I’m giving you up’ chant towards the end! “Secret Country” and “Animal Backwards” are two other standouts that you can luckily listen to right here as you stream the whole album below. Don’t forget to catch up on their other classics in the last TBE post!

Previously: ♫ Minus The Bear – My Time
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KINGS GO FORTH DON’T just TAKE any time at all getting MY SHADOW grooving

take this heart, it’s always breaking, put it back together, it keeps on aching

♫ Kings Go Forth – Don’t Take My Shadow

I don’t care what your musical inclination is you just can’t deny this jam! With 10 members, 3 singers, and endless talent, Kings Go Forth are from Milwaukee and play R&B that sounds beamed straight from the 60’s. I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to talking about that era with any authority but I do know is that all 10 tracks on their debut album, The Outsiders Are Back, are fantastic. “Don’t Take My Shadow” stands out in particular as the LP’s steamrolling centerpiece. It kicks down the door and immediately takes you on a whirlwind ride of horns, harmonies, and other fantastic instrumentation. It mellows itself out in the middle for a bit but for me that only adds to the songs soul and heart. These guys are just great and will be a perfect summertime staple that everyone can enjoy. Get on this album.

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JAVELIN are full of good VIBRATIONZ and good advice

gettin’ cleared up is easy, do it now so we can get sleazy

♫ Javelin – Vibrationz

Javelin’s “Oh! Centra” and it’s potty-mouthed squirrel vocals has quickly become one of my favorite songs of the year and although their debut LP No Mas is not exactly on par with that jam’s grooviness it is certainly good stuff. Javelin are pretty eclectic and play with rapping, singing, and instrumental, of which the excellent “Vibrationz” is (pretty much) the latter. 3 minutes of straight funked up grooves that beg for sunlight and summer breezes. This laid back sunshine-pop is much more the norm for Javelin then the spastic “Oh! Centra” but so far I’m loving both. I went back and got Javelin’s 2009 FREE mixtape Jamz N Jemz (best name ever) and discovered more laid back funk as well as this fantastic token weird rap song. Only this one is about STDs and safe sex. Good times.

♫ Javelin – STD Fury

So for more tastes of No Mas make sure to check out the mashup Dave Wrangler did with their “Intervales Theme” and Jay Z. This Pitchfork piece is also pretty great. It covers Javelin’s early days utilizing 20 shitty boom-boxes as their sound system for concerts. Awesome. And get Jamz N Jemz. Free, baby, free!

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KENSINGTON make my ears feel not SAFE… in a good way.

now you know why it holds you back ’til you reap what you sew

♫ Kensington – Safe

So, regular readers of TBE know that I talk a lot about my “favorite albums” or “favorite EPs” etc but something happened to me recently that made my list-making duties super easy. I discovered Kensington. These guys rip shit like nobodies business. I am struggling how to convey this to you but their EP Youth is fucking fantastic. We are talking about 4 perfectly crafted pop shredders that jump in my ear and start moshing like they own the place but I’m like “woah, that’s my ear” and they are like “fuck off you little bitch, we came to shred shit and that’s what we gonna do, yo!” As you can imagine, there is not much you can say to that. I’m so pumped for these guys that it’s not even funny.

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TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB have a lot of sweet jams but let’s start with UNDERCOVER MARTYN

and she spoke words that would melt in your hands

♫ Two Door Cinema Club – Undercover Martyn

Holy moley. When I first got a taste of Two Door Cinema Club I knew they had the skills for a jam or two but I would have never guessed that these rosy-cheeked Irish kids would be dropping one of the catchiest and most instantly infectious albums of the year so far. Tourist History is a tight ten tracks and wastes no time on ballads or slow jams. Every track is brimming with dazzling guitar work, beautiful harmonies, and a rhythm section that has a the key to dance-headquarters. I’m serious about those guitars though, what makes these guys so great is that they aren’t afraid to shred a tight guitar riff now and then, giving the music an edge that is missing in a lot of over-polished indie/dance/pop. In “Undercover Martyn” I’ve even found myself singing along to that epic ‘wah-wah’ guitar business more than the lyrics. And those brilliant lazer sounds around the 2:00 mark are perfect for a Spaceman Spiff-inspired dance number. Seriously people, if you find any joy in this jam (or the first 2 I posted) then get this album. And get particularly excited for “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You.” I do.

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PORTUGAL. THE MAN are better than THE DEAD, DOG.

yeah, we had ourselves a time

♫ Portugal. The Man – The Dead Dog

Portugal. The Man are from Alaska, based in Portland, serious about that punctuation, and are releasing their fifth album in as many years. They also play some of the best guitar based psych/indie/freak rock you can wrap your ears around. I have to admit up front that I haven’t heard all their albums, nor listened to the ones I have as much as I should, but since my buddy Ted is one of their biggest fans I decided to give their latest LP some real attention. I have been spinning American Ghetto (what a great cover) for a while now and was struggling with my take-it-or-leave-it feelings and trying to figure out what I want to say about the album. I kept waiting for some bright light to go off and signal something loud and clear. However, something else has happened in this process, I have grown really fond of the album. “The Dead Dog” (named after a local bar in their Alaska hometown) kicks things off on such a deep groove of drums and guitar noodling that the ensuing left-of-center jams were a bit off-putting to my more pop oriented ears. Repeated listens have made me realize that each pass through revealed a new favorite track. Like this one, American Ghetto‘s space-funk closer.

♫ Portugal. The Man – When The War Ends

The goodness doesn’t stop there. I could easily have included “1000 Years,” “The Pushers Party,” or any other track. But don’t listen to me, stream the whole album after the jump. Dim the lights, close your eyes, and start your love affair with these guys. I’d love to hear your thoughts, old and new fans alike. Ted?

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SHOUT OUT LOUDS’ new album won’t FALL out of rotation soon. It’s not HARD to like.

gimmie a secret and i’ll tell you i need memories to keep

♫ Shout Out Louds – Fall Hard

Two of last years most disappointing albums for me were Throw Me The Statue’s Creaturesque and The Dodos’ Time To Die and both were produced by Phil Ek. There are many reasons that I like to blame Mr. Ek for these underwhelming follow-ups but mostly ’cause it’s easier than believing that bands I love have done fell off. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous to hear that Ek was producing Shout Out Louds’ follow up to 2007’s fantastic Our Ill Wills. First single, “Walls”, assuaged that fear a bit but it’s decided shift in sound (no more strings or bells) — coupled with that “we hate fun” album cover — left me a little nervous. Well, the verdict is in and Work is solid solid stuff. Yeah, it’s different that Our Ill Wills but by the end of the album you don’t even think about those differences any more. It’s the same band we know and love and their signature earnestness and energy is firmly in place. Take second single “Fall Hard” for example, that opening guitar brings me right into the song and before I know it those tight drums and Adam Olenius’ unique voice have me flying right with the music. It’s a hard song not to enjoy, and the video (below) is pretty great too. The rest of the album ranges in intensity but always packs enough hooks to keep me jamming along and Olenius’ lyrics always tell an interesting story as he bares his soul over tales of love, relationships, and his own stubborn personal baggage.

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YEASAYER have got O.N.E. damn good album on their hands and MONDEGREEN is my new jam off of it

everybody’s talking ’bout me and my baby making love ’til the morning light

♫ Yeasayer – Mondegreen

Despite Yeasayer’s hype peaking at about this exact same moment I can’t wait another day to encourage you to get this album. Pitchfork poo-pooed on it earlier today but don’t listen to them, listen to the album. Their 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbols, was never really my bag but then lead singer Chris Keating lent his vocals to one of the best tracks of last year and followed that up by leaking “Ambling Alp,” which quickly became another best of 2009. At that point everyone was asking themselves if these guys could really bring the heat on Odd Blood. Well, the short answer is “yes.” First track “The Children” is a failed attempt at an ambient album opener but it’s hard to fault them for trying. Luckily “Ambling Alp” is quick to follow and erase any bad feelings. Then it’s track after track of quirky, exuberant, and well-crafted music that stomps around with more swagger than most of today’s hip-hop. The album is sometimes sexy, sometimes ambient, and sometimes bursting at the seams with energy (above). Filled with horns, drums and chants of love and sex, “Mondegreen” is probably the most fun song I can think to put on your Valentine’s mix. Although also fantastic, I’d keep “O.N.E.” off that mix though, even if Keating’s lyrics nail the feeling of fading love and the song is a straight jam. Anyway, Odd Blood definitely raises Yeasayer’s bar and delivers a solid collection of danceable and enjoyable jams. So far 2010 is off to a brisk start and we’ve got great albums pouring out of the woodwork. Good times.

♫ Yeasayer – O.N.E.

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