Kishi Bashi – 151a [Listen]

“Grand and transcendent… the layers of beautiful sound, homage to Japanese culture, and use of violin make 151a a dreamy, pocket-sized symphony, perfect for anyone needing a lift.”
BUST

This artist has jumped to the top of my ‘most played’ this summer. Kishi Bashi, aka K Ishibashi is a solo artist who has toured with the likes of Of Montreal, and is also a founder of the NY indie rock band, Jupiter One. Now going solo, K Ishibashi has produced something fresh, new and wonderfully weird. From listening to the first intro track on his debt album, 151a, you wouldn’t expect what would follow.


It’s electronic, folky, classical – a tornado of musical goodness that’s entertaining from the beginning to end. Drawing from his classical routes as a violinist, K Ishibashi conjures a melody of genres, which I can only compare to an artist such as Animal Collective. He mixes up English and Japanese in his lyrics, which add to the sometimes manic feel to the songs. The transition from each track to the next leaves you wanting more of his feel-good musical world he creates.


The birth of this album was conceived through a Kickstarter campaign – a site where entrepreneurs, filmmakers, musicians etc pitch their project and rely on the support of the public to donate money to fund it. Ishibashi’s target was $12,000, and within three weeks he raised $20,000, an impressive achievement, and one that paid off. Since the album’s release in April, Ishibashi has been impressing critics and the public with his live loop-based performances.

“The way I create my loops, I just kind of — they’re not exact. So a lot of it has to do with a feeling and it might be faster, I also like changing things up, so I’ll change things and kind of make it different, and I also like the audience to have a different experience.”
KISHI BASHI – RIVERFRONT TIMES

The album is diverse and unexpected. It paints a picture of both joy and melancholy, and it leaves you feeling great. Ishibashi is currently on tour around the US, and is yet to pencil in anything for Europe. You can get your hands on his album here.

The Lumineers [Listen & Watch]

This band has done a good job of being heard in the States, and they’re about to bring their stomping feet and country strings to Europe. I discovered them from a cool blog called instagigs – worth checking out.

Lumineers released their self titled debut album in April this year, and managed to squeeze into the top 10 of the Alternative Chart position. They even recently played on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno .

“The Lumineers walk that line with an unerring gift for timeless melodies and soul-stirring lyrics” 

A few tracks on the album stick out for me. I really appreciate short, well strung songs, and Flowers in Your Hair and Ho Hey are both under 3mins, and are probably the two most catchy tunes. The band are known for wearing their hearts on their sleeve; the general themes are of broken relationships and unfair love – but somehow you still feel good when listening

One song from the album that stands alone for me is Flapper Girl, this is the kind of song that would be on the B-Side of an EP. It’s subtle melody with relaxed vocals breathes a warm breeze into the album as it nears towards the end.

The band are currently on tour, and are set to play in the Uk on the 17th of September at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. Click here to treat yourself to their album – it’s a good investment for when the sun is shining and you’re swinging in your hammock.

Check out their newly released music video for Ho Hey. Simple idea executed very nicely:

The Antlers – Undersea EP [Review]

“Undersea is the feeling of suspension – memories suspended in time and space, energy suspended in the air around us.”

It’s finally come ashore, The Antlers‘ latest EP named Undersea has been teasing fans with sneak previews and imagery for weeks.

People were somewhat surprised when the Brooklyn based band announced they were going to release a new EP in the summer since they had recently released their second album Burst Apart (2011). It seems lead singer Peter Silberman isn’t wasting any time.

Their first release was Hospice (2009), a critically acclaimed concept album that sent shivers down your spine. The Antlers launched into the music scene with haunting melodies combined with beautifully fine-tuned lyrics which started a tidal wave of excitment amonst the eclectic listeners around the world.

Undersea went on release in the US yesterday, and is to be officially released in the UK on the 30th of July. It’s another concept piece with a principle theme of the watery underworld. This is their most experimental and also uniform release. The 4 track EP has a constant chilled tone of swelling instruments and rippled beats. The distinct vocals of Silberman are what create the Antlers atmospheric sound which proves to be very successful in this EP.

It would be hard to not listen to the EP in one go, each track blends into the next creating a feeling of submersion. The opening track, Drift Drive eases you into the EP so well, it’s possibly my favorite track of the EP, the pacing sets the tempo for the rest of the tracks which as I mentioned – harmoniously drift through your ears.

Since yesterdays release, the EP has received mixed reviews, which in my mind can’t quite be justified yet, it’s a concept album, and it’s going to need time and a few listens to really understand what it’s all about. I personally find it thoroughly enjoyable, it would be hard for Antlers to go wrong with their current setup.

The Antlers are currently on tour, and will be making a stop in the UK on September 1st for the glorious End of the Road Festival. I saw them play live there 2 years ago and had the pleasure of taking Peter’s portrait (photo at top). Hopefully i’ll squeeze the rest of the band in the frame this year.

Undersea tracklisting:

  1.  Drift Drive
  2.  Endless Ladder
  3.  Crest
  4.  Zelda

Check out the first track Drift Drive which they released a few weeks back.

Emil Friis [Listen & Watch]

Emil Friis is a solo musician from Copenhagen, Denmark. He started out wanting to be a filmmaker, but states that, “For some reason which I’m still not quite sure of, I started writing songs”.

I came across his music while watching a fashion promo, and was completely drawn to the very atmospheric and filmic sound. The track’s called Sand In Your Eyes and there’s a video that’s been made for it, which in my opinion is very well executed.

He’s released three albums which you can stream here. He also has a bunch of recordings on his Soundcloud. I’d recommend checking out a track called The Man In The Wind which sounds like it was recorded in a bar – it’s a good’n.

Ladies and gents I give you Sand In Your Eyes

Tom’s ‘recently found & loved’ playlist

I started compiling this playlist for a friend, but then realized I hadn’t posted for some time and so I thought I’d share it here too. What I’ve got here, (besides a couple of tracks) is a mix of new music I’ve found while sifting through blogs and music sites.

TV Girl:

A band from LA, they’re slowly on the rise, give them a year and they’ll touring the states, and hopefully Europe. It’s feel good electronic, indie shoe-gaze goodness. I’ve been enjoying pretty much all their releases.

Tyler Lyle:

This is my favourite track from his album, it’s got a good pace that seems to get more enjoyable as the song progresses. The other songs on his album are worth checking out too.

J:

I dug and found gold with this guy, he’s from Czech Republic even though he sounds very American. I love this track, it’s part of a series from his EP that all seem to be about childhood. His album is free, and it’s very good.

surely i come quickly:

I don’t even know how I found this guy, but his music is really enjoyable. It comes from an album called, you never wanted me. I believe the artist is from Saskatoon, Ca. The low-fi recordings really do add to the atmosphere of his music.

Soko:

This girl is pretty well-known around the blogs, and I believe made an appearance in the charts. She’s got some nice music vids, one directed by Spike Jonze. I love her voice, and even though this is a pretty sad song, It takes you on an ‘enjoyable’ journey I think.

Birds of America:

An American artist from Oakland, described as Dub/Folk. This track is super chilled and builds nicely, it sounds like it was recorded in a barn after a good party. It’s been on repeat for a while on my iPod.

Tom Eddy:

A folk band from Seattle. This track comes from their album called, The Bread Maker’s Blues. I think it’s the plucking and soft vocals that makes this track fun to listen to. Reminds me a bit of Herman Dune’s stuff.

Cass McCombs:

This is a pretty well-known artist in folk scene. He’s from Baltimore and has toured with a bunch of folky/rock artists. This track comes from his 2009 album, Catacombs.

Cotton Jones:

I love duets, XX are a good example, and these guys execute this song so nicely. This is an alternate version of their song, Gone The Bells, which they released on Soundcloud, I actually prefer it to the original. The dreamy guitar and bells sound beaut.

The Oh Hello’s:

These guys have an EP on Bandcamp which you can ‘name your price for’. They’re working on a full length album which looks promising as this song demonstrates a lot of talent. They say they’ve taken a lot inspiration from Mumford and Sons, personally i think they sound better.

Grand Salvo:

He’s known as ‘Australia’s Iron & Wine’, Grand Salvo has a knack of writing original songs about everyday observations. This is a song that triumphs on its simplicity. You might find you won’t take in the lyrics until the 3rd or 4th time since the acoustic instruments glide through your ears so gracefully.

Of Monsters And Men:

Time to pick up the tempo, this is another boy/girl duet. For me this is Edward Sharpe and XX mixed together. Of Monsters and Men is a 6 piece band from Iceland. This track is from their EP that was released in 2011, they’re currently working on bringing out a full album. They’re one to keep an eye on I feel.

Angus Stone:

I first heard of this artist back in 2007 when he released a single called Mango Tree with his half-sister, Julia. Definitely check out the song if you don’t know it. This track comes from his new album, Broken Brights, I hadn’t really been following his solo venture, so this album came to be a nice surprise.

Helios:

One of my all time favourite instrumental/ambient artists. He’s usually playing in my car during long drives through the countryside. literally love everything he produces, and somehow i missed this track from his last album, which resulted in a nice surprise.

Tallest Man on Earth:

Tallest Man on Earth hit the ground running with his 2008 debut album Shallow Grave and has been impressing fans and critiques since. This track comes from his newest album There’s no Leaving Now. It’s my favourite on the album – and no, he’s not putting on a Bob Dylan voice….

To Just Grow Away by Tallest Man on Earth

Alt-j:

I’ve started to spot adverts around London for Alt-J’s debut album An Awesome Wave. They’re a British band and have been gathering a lot of hype with their indie/electronic sound. I’m not gonna say I heard them before they got big because I don’t think I did. They’re playing at End of Road Festival this year which should be a treat.

Blackbird Blackbird:

Another of my favourite artists. I got to see Blackbird Blackbird play this year in the UK which was amazing. This guy constantly puts out great sounding music. This is one of his newest tracks, and it sounds like he’s far from losing his touch – nice one Mikey.

Fortune Howl:

I found this on some blog, it’s a remix of one of the songs from Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom. It’s a really enjoyable track to listen through.

Poor Moon – Illusion [Listen]

Whilst the Fleet Foxes ponder what to do next after last years frankly outstanding Helplessness Blues, Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls) Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes, Cystal Skulls) and brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards) have been busy signing to Sub Pop Records and preparing the freshly released EP Illusion under the monicker Poor Moon.

While it’s clear there are elements of the Fleet Foxes woven through the EP, equally it would be naive to think they’re simply a carbon copy of the band. Any Place is the perfect slow burning dirge which brings to mind not only the Fleet Foxes more mellow numbers but also Midlake. There are shades of The Flaming Lips – most audible on the superb upbeat People In Her Mind and it’s easy to draw Simon & Garfunkel comparisons on the hushed finale Widow. It’s a wonderful blend that really brings this EP to life. Production on the EP is handled with care and varies from spacious light reverb soaked acoustic guitar, to a more electric and full bodied sound that wouldn’t sound out of place back in the 70’s. There’s a lot of variation between tracks but all five sit together gracefully, it builds before dropping down again and as a complete piece it satisfies immensely.

While I’m not familiar with The Christmas Cards music this is without a doubt an EP that fans of the Fleet Foxes can pick up in confidence. For others who might be curious it’s definitely worth a look as a solid debut EP which can slide easily into the Indie Folk genre tag. I look forward to hearing a full length from Poor Moon if this is anything to go by.

Sub Pop have the entire EP up for stream and if you can spare fifteen minutes of your day it gets my recommendation wholeheartedly.

Illusion is out now on Sub Pop Records.

Tracklisting

1) Illusion
2) Any Place
3) People In Her Mind
4) Once Before
5) Widow

Isbells – Stoalin’ [News+Listen]

This is very exciting. One of my favourite artists has announced their new album. Isbells launched themselves in 2009 with their self titled album, Isbells. The Belgium band have a likeable trait of producing sweet melodies and often somewhat melancholic lyrics – this of course made it my perfect ‘break-up’ album at the time. I highly urge you to get your hands on it, you won’t regret doing so.

They released a charity song in 2011 called, No Light Bright Light, to raise money for the Psychiatric Hospital St. Annendael in the Belgian city Diest. This track confirmed my hope that their first album wasn’t a golden one-off, their songwriting was as beautiful as ever. I recommend you check out the song.

Their new album titled Stoalin’ is to be released on March 26th, and they’ve released a single from it called Illusion. From listening to it a few times, it sounds as good as their older stuff. In this track they’ve employed a more choral feel, and the recording sounds a little more professional. The melodic guitar and well written lyrics are the same. I’m glad to hear that everything is keeping to their original formula.

Click here to pre-order the new album.

Here’s a track from their first album to introduce you to their sound, it’s called As Long As It Takes:

UPDATE:

Here’s the full album, Stoalin’.

Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself [Review]

My introduction to Andrew Bird was while browsing the shelves of the small and rather wonderful record store People Independent Music of Guildford, Surrey. A superb Indie store packed with a range of genres and always something interesting or new, if you’re ever in the area check it out, it’s well worth a look. So, I’m standing there, browsing the Alternative/Indie section, I have one CD in hand, probably all I’m going to spend today and then this song kicks up, it’s beautiful, it reminds me of the Fleet Foxes, with a little Ryan Adams, but with a whole lot of violin and a little more subtlety, it’s sort of quirky as well. The guy next to me leans over to the counter and asks “Who is this?”, to which the girl replies with a smile “It’s Andrew Bird’s new album”, “Hmm…” the customer ponders for all of half a second, “I’ll take one!”. Handing the CD over in my hand to pay I echo, “You know what, I’ll take one as well”.

It was one of those moments I had to hear more on my own stereo, if I hadn’t bought that album there and then I’d be a mug. That’s a great start, first track of the new album and I’m totally sold, as was my fellow customer. I’m happy to report Break It Yourself delivers. I’d heard Birds name thrown around before, I’d heard his outstanding whistling skills (seriously, check it out – this song also features on this album), but never taken the time to check out his music properly. I was pleasantly surprised to find a sound that mixes beautiful strings with soft guitars and rock elements, arranged with just enough oddities to keep it fresh. It straddles modern acoustic songwriting and traditional folk music pretty comfortably and never feels like an unnatural or forced combination. Desperation Breeds elevates itself to one of my favourite album openers of the year beginning slow and brooding before bursting into life with beautiful flourishes of violin. These frequent the album and compliment most songs bringing the music alive with a bright and vibrant feel. The aforementioned whistling is there and is as excellent as ever, Bird really does have some skills and no matter what he is playing it all comes together so perfectly well with a natural and effortless flow. The short recording window and live studio recording only helps to give the album the organic, natural sound is presents. Pacing is graceful and mixes the uplifting with the more gentle mellow tracks.

The only complaints I have are aimed at the latter half which drags slightly before soaring again with the absolutely superb Hole in the Ocean Floor. It never becomes wearisome however and overall it can be taken as a very well rounded full-length. It’s worth keeping in mind that this is my first Andrew Bird album so I cannot compare it to previous releases, but it’s definitely a great place to start and I can safely say I’ve come away a fan.

Andrew lacks a website at the moment but check him out on facebook if you want to keep up with news and tour info.

The Gertrudes [News & Listen]

“The Gertrudes sound like a ol’ time saloon party in deep space … experimental noise beds with down home folk passengers, frolicking through original material, played by a veritable orchestra of instruments.”

I feel like that quote pretty much nailed it on the head. Here’s a band you tell have a lot of fun while making their music. The Gertrudes is a mishmash of folk, rock, and pop. There are nine members, and they play a wide spread of instruments, including the theremin! You can imagine the songwriting process to be them all in a room together and suddenly someone goes, “I know let’s try this!”.

They’ve very recently released a new album, Till the Morning Shows Her Face to Me. One of my favourite tracks on the album, Dreams is one of their softer, slower paced songs. I love the vocals and banjo in it, I have a soft spot for girls who sing country music, so this sits nicely for me.

 

Check out their two albums here. Their first is as enjoyable as the second, I highly recommend you give them both a listen. Here’s a track from the 2010 album, Dawn Time Riot.

Enjoy!

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro – Look Around The Corner [Listen/News]

Quantic has teamed up with Alice Russell for a full-length backed by the Combo Bárbaro. It’s still only January right?

The first single and album opener Look Around the Corner has made it’s way onto soundcloud and seamlessly mixes soul, blues and Columbian vibes with Alice Russell’s trademark swaggering vocal style. It’s summer distilled and nails a classic 60’s feel with warm, dusty production, live instrumentation and excellent song writing.


Quantic and Alice Russell are a pretty big deal for UK based Tru Thoughts and this marks the first time the pair will have worked together on a complete album, having collaborated only on single songs previously. Backed by Quantic’s own Combo Bárbaro this looks set to be a bright and soulful release that will land just in time for summer. Look Around The Corner is out on deluxe full-colour 10” vinyl and digital download on 20th February; the album (of the same name) follows in April. Quantic will be touring with Alice Russell in the USA, Europe and UK through from March to May.

If you enjoy this, it’s worth grabbing a copy of Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro’s excellent album Tradition In Transition.