NOT SQUARES provide ASYLUM for those of us fed up with the doldrums

you said you lived in an asylum

♫ Not Squares – Asylum

Not Squares are one of the more exciting bands I’ve heard lately. “Asylum” is a whirl of energy with it’s frenetic percussion and punchy vocals taking no prisoners in it’s assault on boredom. The song’s lyrics are a simple declaration and a straightforward observation, the music clearly preferring to shake your ass than stress your brain. Hailing from Belfast they sound like the sweaty teenage love-child of The Dodos and Late Of The Pier (if only those bands were still making good music). “Asylum” is one half of the Asylum / Bi Ki Na single and the latter is even more unhinged while still maintaining that magically tight madness. Their MySpace is regrettably sparse, music-wise, but after hearing 3 jams by these guys I am putting my money on an eventual great album, not to mention live show. Word is they play shows wherever they can so you know their chops are honed and they are just waiting for your invitation. I’m sending mine over right now.

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} TBE Digest 6 – 2.24.10 [Gorillaz, Lil Wayne, Major Lazer, B.o.B., Broken Social Scene, …]

These Digest’s are tough to do because there are really only two emotions I feel while writing them: disappointment and bewilderment. The former for bands I love that are delivering sub-par baloney and the latter for bands other people love who are delivering sub-par baloney. These opinions are of course only my own and that’s why I persist with this series, because others may be really into these tracks and that is great. Different strokes, ya know. On the other hand, some may just be curious as to what different bands are up to these days. Read it for any reason you want, but know that I write it out of a simple desire to pass along the recent happenings in my musical world that I don’t feel are worthy of their own post. (There seemed to have been some confusion last time) Anyway, read on, trudge through, wade in, sally forth, whatever, just know that this edition is exceptionally long for whatever reason but there are some fun covers awaiting you at the end.

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RAFTER makes great music and apparently also needs PAPER

there is a man by the lake, he spends his days in shifty ways

♫ Rafter – Paper

Rafter is the real first name of San Diego’s Rafter Roberts and besides having a cooler first name than any of us, he also makes sweet jams. Rafter is on Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty label but his sound is much more groove-pop than indie-folk as he uses a slew of weird sounds to patch together oddly pleasing music. I had “Love Time Now Please” (below) on regular rotation a few years ago so it’s exciting to hear recent single “Paper” upping the ante. Rafter’s potty mouth contrasts with the song’s summery pop vibe but the end result is just as upbeat and infectious as ever. Just try not singing along to that “You motherfuckers!” in the chorus. Try! Rafter’s 4th LP, Animal Feelings, is out April 13th but there are plenty of free Rafter goodies being served up over at the Asthmatic Kitty website. (“Juicy” off of Sweaty Magic is everything it sounds like.)

♫ Rafter – Love Time Now Please

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MAN/MIRACLE are crafting some HOT jams worthy of SPRAWLing through your ears

the shape of things, the shape of things*

♫ Man/Miracle – Hot Sprawl

I’ll leave it up to you to interpret Man/Miracle’s decision to title their debut album The Shape Of Things along with cover art of “The Hotel Of Doom,” a.k.a. “The Worst Building In The World,” a.k.a. Ryugyong Hotel.** While you are pondering that, turn up your speakers and let “Hot Sprawl” rock you with it’s high-energy spazz-rock hooks. Man/Miracle are one of the latest acts to be praised by eMusic under their eMusic Selects program and after buying their album I firmly agree. The Shape Of Things is exuberant indie rock that is rough in all the right places and is a much more optimistic listen then the title/cover-art combo implies. “Hot Sprawl” is my definite favorite but other sweet jams like “Back Of The Card” and “Multitudes” are packed with frantically zippy instrumentation and vocals stylings that sound like a 2010 Talking Heads reunion sponsored by Red Bull. “Other People” slows the pace a bit and lets you hear the intricate craftsmanship coming from each instrument. If you like your rock loose, energetic and unselfconscious, then this is your album. Throw “Hot Sprawl” on repeat and read more about the Oakland, CA based band and their music in eMusic’s interview with frontman Dylan Travis.

Bury your face in MySpace /// eMusic too

* Reeeaaaly hard to understand this dude’s singing. Any help here?

** Go here for a great article on the history behind the North Korean building/embarrassment.

SIGNALS phil my speakers with SPECTOR

my, how time flies

♫ Signals – Spector

One of last years’ best tracks was the ode to Christian Bale, “R U Professional,” by Los Angeles’ The Mae Shi and if you ever fell for it’s countless charms then you are in for a treat with Signals. Last year The Mae Shi suffered some internal rifts (read: drug abuse) which lead to three of it’s members splintering off to form Signals. They then proceeded to design the best band logo of the year as well as rip out this jam that proves these dudes don’t need celebrity meltdowns to rock socks. They may be a bit to dissonant for most but there is something about the shambolic beat and yelped vocals of “Spector” that gets me pumped. What can you really expect from a song named after this dude. Ayway, if you are on board so far, then head this way for a cover Signals did of Sparks’ “Angst In My Pants.”

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GOSSIP are receiving my LOVE from a LONG DISTANCE away but I’m just one of the MEN IN LOVE with their music for me

i can’t remember having so much fun

♫ Gossip – Love Long Distance

Heavy Cross,” the frst single from Gossip’s 4th LP came through TBE almost 10 months ago, around the same time that Gossip-fever was peaking as the whole world seemed to be stoked on the track and looking forward to the Rick Rubin-produced Music For Men. And then…nothing. Maybe my head was shoved too deep in the assess of the wrong blogs but I don’t remember anyone talking about the album itself, let alone talking about how fucking epic it is. I finally got around to the listening to the thing and as I was expecting the good-enough “Heavy Cross” to be the album’s best track I was sufficiently blown away by Music For Men‘s instant appeal and grin-inducing grooves. “Love Long Distance” ended up being the album’s second single back in September and it’s no wonder why. The real question is how “Men In Love” stayed off anyone’s radar during 2009. Fantastic subject matter aside, this “na na, na na” fueled party anthem is an instant classic in my book and… is that cowbell I hear thrown in among Beth Ditto’s impeccable vocals? This song, no, this whole album, makes me wish I was a prominent DJ at a local club so that I could blindly spin any track and have guaranteed success with flailing limbs on the dance-floor. I mean, the empirical evidence of awesomeness just keeps on going. “8th Wonder”? “Vertical Rhythm”? “2012”? “Four Letter Word”? Guity! Sentenced to rocking my ass for the next 2-5 years.

♫ Gossip – Men In Love

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IS TROPICAL don’t make me SEASICK so much as make me want to form a MUTINY against crappy music

heave ho!

♫ Is Tropical – Seasick Mutiny

If you never though you were down with instrumental music then I double dog dare you not to bust a groove during “Seasick Mutiny.” I like to imagine myself a swarthy mix between The Sea Captain from The Simpsons and Jack Sparrow as I navigate the mighty seas off of Party Island, cocktail in my hook as I flail my one fist in the air enthusiastically. The music video is a good place to start for what my dreams will look like as I await that hangover. Anyway, Is Tropical are a London three-piece who take a unique approach to having a front-man, namely trying to eliminate the role altogether. They all swap instrumental and vocal duties as they create, as one magazine put it, “beautifully coherent chaos.” The Heave Ho/Seasick Mutiny single is out now at eMusic (below) or iTunes or wherever. These guys need to tour with Civil Civic on what I would call The Freshest London Bands TBE Has Recently Fallen In Love With Tour. Oh, and if you want to hear the Is Tropical guys wail more than pirate phrases then “The Greeks” is your jam. It certainly is my jam.

♫ Is Tropical – The Greeks

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HE’S MY BROTHER, SHE’S MY SISTER have some TALES THAT I want to TELL you about

man, i wish i would have chose his best friend instead

♫ He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister – Tales That I Tell

Not to disparage their album art, but it says a lot about this L.A. based quintet. He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister play loose folk jams that put more emphasis on good times and big heart than studio polish. “Tales That I Tell” is the first taste off a yet to be titled forthcoming debut and it’s sing-along chorus and toe-tapping  infectiousness couldn’t be a better way for me to ease into the week. It only makes me bummed that I missed a recent L.A. show that featured BBQ, improv, and free whiskey. And by “only make me bummed,” I mean “makes me stoked to hear what these guys are cooking up for our summer listening pleasure.”

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