For those of you that completely missed the memo, The Notwist are a German indie rock band that formed almost 20 years ago, yet only have released six albums in that span, with their breakthrough coming in the form of 2002’s gem, Neon Golden. The sound has drifted into darker and more ambient music, but their ability to set the mood is something that has stayed constant.
Their newest album, The Devil, You + Me, represents the quartet’s effort to gain a more broad audience, and they do so quite nicely without losing their uniquely full sound. With songs like “Gone Gone Gone” and “Good Lies” (the first single), the band demonstrates their versatility, with “Gone Gone Gone” embodying their soft, acoustic sound, and “Good Lies” showing off the band’s knack for building emotion through layered instrumentation and vocals that are equal parts nostalgic and hopeful. The Devil, You + Me is a top-notch album that has captivated me since the first listen.
That’s easily the best thing I’ve ever created in photoshop.
Yeah, you’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: Wale is the second coming (no, not this WALE). He is the face of the growing Washington D.C. music scene (take that Ian McKaye) and is set to explode onto the national scene after what seems to be an eternity of waiting for his debut album. Until then, however, his unbelievable mixtapes will have to tide us loyal Wale fans over. His newest mixtape, The Mixtape About Nothing, is based off of Seinfield, which is not only awesome but may just be the coolest concept album ever. Not only does dude love Seinfield, he apparently loves hockey? Check his newest, “Back in the Go-Go”, in which he refers to himself as “Wale Ovechkin“, and gives shout-outs to Eric Lindros (“Flyer than the rest of them”) and the throat-slashing of Richard Zednik. Can you imagine Jay-Z giving props to Henrik Lundquist? Or Nas giving Sidney Crosby love? I think not. This couldn’t come at a better time, as the Caps have made a historic comeback from being the worst team in the NHL to the three seed in the NHL playoffs, with the hottest goalie (Cristobal Huet) and best player in the world, Alex Ovechkin.
Check “Back in the Go-Go”, where Wale steals the show from Bun B and Pusha T (from Clipse), as well as the magnificent “W.A.L.E.F.R.I.E.N.D.S.”, in which Wale raps over yet another Justice track (see: “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.”). Thanks to Derek for the heads up on the Justice mix.
Wow. Thank you Syme, you Norweigan indie-pop starlets, for creating the song that will brighten my day…nay…my life. A perfect blend of Sigur Ros, Mew, Radiohead, Electric President, and the most soft, adorable bunny rabbit you’ve ever seen, you are the butter to my bread; the mac to my cheese, the Ike to my Tina. So thank you, Syme, for blessing my ears with your beauty. Do it again sometime, maybe in the form of a follow-up to your 2006 gem, Modern Love EP. Hurry, please.
Honestly though, how can you not be completely in love with this little songstress from Louisville, Kentucky. Of course, after a listen or two you wouldn’t need me to tell you where she’s from, what with the traditional southern instrumentation, as well as the soft voice and lovely lyrics. But despite the country roots which tend to be a bit constricting in terms of innovation, she is making uniquely simple alt-country, borrowing equally from Joanna Newsom, Chan Marshall, Sufjan Stevens, and even a bit from Suzanne Vega (whom she has toured with). And as if you needed any more reason to enjoy this up-and-coming talent, look at that picture. Cute as a goddamn button.
Check out “Bodyguard” off of her newest release, Fireproof (which dropped on March 4th, my birthday). Also check out her stripped-down take on Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”, which might just be the best vehicle to showcase her perfect voice.
The Helio Sequence have just released their fourth full length album (two on Cavity Search, and the last two on Sub Pop), and first in over three years. Keep Your Eyes Ahead is a beautifully complex album, with a quirky mood and layered melodies that are hard to match up with contemporaries. I just can’t stop listening to “You Can Come to Me” and I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the Rilo Kiley/Postal Service-like intro. Maybe it’s the full, contemplative voice of Brandon Summers (due to the fact that he damaged his vocal chords and had to learn to sing all over again between 2004’s Love and Distance and Keep Your Eyes Ahead). Or maybe it’s a bit of both; a perfect harmony of instruments, synths and voice. Whatever it is, I love it, and I want you to love it. Also check “Hallelujah”, an equally fantastic song with one of the most interesting and enthralling drum patterns I’ve heard in a while.
Surprise! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on ATG, but I want to assure you all that I’m back for good and I won’t be taking anymore long vacations. I would have preferred to return with a bang, preferrably à la belated-Best of 2007 list, but I’m still putting the finishing touches on it. Instead, I’ll begin with a post on a band that made quite an exciting announcement today regarding their signing to a new record label that’s known to be home to the “next big thing.”
You may recall on my Best of 2006 list I mentioned a band called Set Your Goals and their album Mutiny!. I found the music of this Bay Area five-piece to be both refreshing and exciting; they took everything I loved about old school punk (i.e., the attitude, the fast-paced instrumentals, and oh yes – the gang vocals) and mashed it together with the melody and catchiness of pop-punk. Well, 2007 saw the rise of a band that basically takes a similar musical approach but surpasses SYG in all senses (much love to Set Your Goals!).
Hailing from Boston, Four Year Strong are appealing in the same way as Set Your Goals – they balance melody with aggression. However, what I like better about FYS is that not only do they incorporate punk elements into their music, but they also draw a little bit from metal bands as can be heard through their frequent use of rapid guitar-muting and double bass pedal. And they have a keyboardist too, so I that brings a little more variety to the band. I also find FYS to be a little heavier on the pop-punk side, which, depending on your musical taste, could be a good or bad thing. But compared to SYG, most of the tracks off of Four Year Strong’s latest full-length, Rise Or Die Trying, to be a lot more easier to go crazy/sing along with.
As I began to mention earlier, Four Year Strong recently signed to Decaydance Records, a label that has been home to so many of the bands you love like…Panic at the Disco! So this pretty much means that there will only be good things in this band’s future – all the more reason to check out their music.
…They’re also giving away their album for free for a week so there’s no reason not to listen. But if you’re not willing to do that then I’ve included two of their best songs in this post.
Download Four Year Strong’s Rise Or Die Tryinghere.
Don’t let the extremely emo and uncomfortable band name fool you, The Cyanide Valentine do not have black hearts, nor does their music inspire the use of eye-black. No, The Cyanide Valentine are in fact a quartet from Boston who just so happen to make beautifully surreal, gorgeous music, like maybe an electronic Cloud Cult with more synths and less drums. Their newest effort, The Three Sides of The Cyanide Valentine, is being released for free on the band’s site, and is an unpolished gem. It stands in contrast to the much of the over-produced and over-edited garbage being put out today, instead opting for seemingly structureless songs (much like Explosions in the Sky) that entrance listeners, allowing them to drift in and out of conciousness, and, in my case, put me right to sleep. Check out “The Sweetest Season” and “MegaFauna”, and go pick up your free copy of The Three Sides of The Cyanide Valentine. Don’t be skeptical because of the name and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I can honestly say that my older brother Dan was the primary reason for my musical upbringing. However, in the last few years that tide has turned as I have proudly introduced him to a few gems. Now that I’m the one finding most the new music, excitement builds whenever he gives me a new band to listen to, because I know it’s going to be good. This was certainly true with Alberta Cross, the English-Swedish rock band rooted in gospel/soul influenced ‘70s folk and classic rock. After attending the CMJ Marathon Festival in New York City last month, Dan came back with rave reviews about these longhaired skinny dudes whose appearance doesn’t stray far from their sound. They are now one of both of our favorite new bands. These guys seriously rock. The Thief and the Heartbreaker, their debut EP, was released this past fall. The sound is “influenced by The Band, Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen” with clear “elements of The White Stripes and The Shins” but I think they sound more like Neil Young meets My Morning Jacket meets Ryan Adams (If this doesn’t sound awesome to you, I am sorry).The all-too-short EP is complete with clever lyrics, catchy tunes, and some brilliant vocal performances by front man Petter Ericson Stakee. The only recent word from the band is that they are currently working on their first full-length album to be released sometime around April. They have also announced that they will have some sort of residency sometime/somewhere in New York City coming up in around January. This band might be a change of pace compared to some of the other artists introduced on ATG, but seriously check them out and expect big things.
Until then, check out my favorite tune “Lucy Rider” and watch the video for their most fun and catchy song, “Hard Breaks.”
I must’ve been under a rock for the past few months because I COMPLETELY missed out on the Cloud Cult love. Well, it’s better late than never, so welcome to the All Things Go Cloud Cult Lovefest. Seriously, how did I miss these guys? They’ve been around since 1995 and have released seven albums? What? Shame on me for never coming across a single track even though apparently the entire blogosphere got the memo. I must, therefore, thank my boy Mickey for turning me onto the band through, of all things, a mashup of their awesome single “Chemicals Collide” and the T-Pain’s club banger, “Buy You a Drank” (aptly titled “Collide You A Drank” courtesy of thehoodinternet). The mashup is quirky and awesome, and prompted me to pick up a copy of The Meaning of 8. I could not be happier with myself. After listening to the album on repeat for about the last two weeks, I’ve concluded that this is one of those albums that, every time I listen to a song, that song becomes my favorite on the album (if that makes sense). While “Chemicals Collide” and “Take Your Medicine” are the heavily-downloaded singles (which is not a knock on them, as they definitely deserve the love), hidden gems such as “Chain Reaction” and “Pretty Voice” create one of the most well-rounded albums I’ve listened to in a good long time.
If you are like me, and have yet to experience the magic (which is highly unlikely, ’cause apparently EVERY other blog posted on them, and I assume you guys read more than just ATG), check out “Chain Reaction” and “Pretty Voice”, as well as thehoodinternet’s mashup, “Collide You a Drank”. ALSO, pick up a copy of The Meaning of 8 if you haven’t yet.
Allow me to introduce my newest crush. Kate Nash, a 20-year-old pop-starlet born in Dublin and raised in London, began playing piano and writing songs at a young age. She released an A-side single of “Birds” in February, then, in August, dropped a bomb on England, releasing her first full-length, Made of Bricks. Since I am not a whore for the newest hot British bands (like Derek of GWFAS), her release went unnoticed by me. Shame on me. On my drive up to Martha’s Vineyard in August (after the Daft Punk show in Brooklyn), Derek popped a copy of Made of Bricks into the stereo of my new car (which is also new and awesome). I was a bit skeptical at first, as Derek tends to overhype every band he has ever presented to me (ex. “Dude THIS is the jam. The best jam since “Trains to Brazil”. Veritably AMAZING). After hearing Kate’s accented twang and stylish vocals, I was intrigued. I was then informed that Paul Epworth (producer of Bloc Party’s A Weekend in the City) had produced the whole album, which got me even more excited. Then “Foundations” came on. I had to promptly pull the car over, get out, walk to the trunk, open up my suitcase and retrieve an unsoiled pair of underwear.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am absolutely obsessed with Regina Spektor. I adore pretty much everything she has released, and even rated Begin to Hope as my #1 album of 2006. This may sound completely irrelevant, until you listen to Kate Nash. To borrow Derek‘s words, Nash is “like a better Regina Spektor or a wayyyy better Lily Allen”. For months I have been looking for an artist that rivals Regina, from her songwriting to the lyrics to the unbelievably catchy hooks and expertly crafted melodies. My search is over. While I may not crown Nash as the queen of this genre inhabited by Regina yet, I feel the need to emphasize that if you enjoy Regina Spektor (and would like Lily Allen’s music if she weren’t such an attention whore), you will absolutely love Kate Nash. Consider this: “Foundations” knocked Rihanna’s “Umbrella” off the top of the British charts, ending a twelve-week domination over the music industry. It’s that good.
Those of you that also read Good Weather (see: most all of you) will have read a review just like this a week ago. I’m aware I pretty much repeated word-for-word what was said. I just love Nash’s music so much that I felt the need to reiterate her awesomeness, and re-trumpet the release of Made of Bricks. Give “Merry Happy” a listen, as it’s my favorite song on the track, and the closest she comes to imitating Regina, with her use of “da-doo-doo’s” and bouncy, soft vocals. Also recommended are “Birds” (the single she released before Made of Bricks), “Mouthwash” (which features the quirkiest lyrics), and “Skeleton Song”. Actually, every song on this album is recommended. If you’ve never trusted me before, please trust me now. BUY THIS ALBUM.
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