portland pop quartet parenthetical girls recently dropped untanglements, an album of rarities and alternate versions from their 2008 lp entanglements. their musical sharing binge continues with the release of covers., a collection that’s exactly what it sounds like: the girls bringing their orchestral pop flavor to tunes by other bands, and vice versa. the standout track, “joan of arc (maid of new orleans),” is a phenomenal electronic stomper that climaxes with a nearly tribal percussive breakdown. it’s inspiring, addictive, and, like all the girls’ best work, quixotic. in a fun twist, it’s a track for which i’ve been searching for quite some time – since i caught the girls’ live show (they closed with it). after the jump, listen to the studio version and catch live video i took at the concert, in which band leader/mastermind zac pennington leaves the room when the song begins, only to return moments later and play drumsticks on the venue floor. Read the rest of this entry »
matthew cooper, better known by his stage name eluvium, was behind 2010’s magnificent similes, but that’s not all he got up to last year. the indie flick some days are better than others got the soundtrack treatment from the ambient mastermind, and this year it’s going to get an official release. the title track has been released, and it’s a melancholy blend of a simple, echoing piano line and atmospheric synth effects. enchanting and ethereal, this has quickly become one of our most anticipated releases of 2011.
matthew cooper – “some days are better than others”
some days are better than others is out april 26 on temporary residence.
parenthetical girls have been a quiet favorite of mine since i stumbled into one of their live performances. peculiar, awkward, and energetic, the experimental rock foursome has gone through as many different incarnations as albums. they’ve been relatively nonexistent since 2008’s entanglements, but as 2011 rolled around, untanglements, an album of rarities and alternate takes appeared on bandcamp. the album prominently feature pennington’s vocals over piano-driven tunes (though electronics and orchestral flourishes occasionally burst forth). it’s a startlingly good collection, one that proves that the girls are still indie pop’s best kept secret.
okkervil river’s particular brand of melancholy indie pop has gained them a sizable cult following, but they’ve yet to break into the mainstream. will scheff’s liberal use of literary songwriting may have been a factor, but in recent interview’s he’s stated that with the band’s forthcoming release, he aims to retreat from the cerebral and aim more towards the emotional. judging by single “mermaid,” it’s a good move – the tune tugs at the heartstrings without falling into introspective or clichéd territory. even his pained vocals sound more genuine than on the band’s fantastic (if depressing) the stage names. backed by what seems at times to be a full orchestra, piano, and choir, “mermaid” appears a proclamation of things to come. it’s not an unfamiliar sound, but lyrically it’s a welcome change from the sometimes heady songwriting of albums past.
okkervil river – i am very far is out may 10th on jagjaguwar.
noah and the whale’s debut peaceful, the world lays me down was a mixed bag with spots of brilliance. favorites like “jocasta” and “5 years time” overshadowed the album’s weaker points, and showed potential for the english indie poppers. following frontman charlie fink’s painful breakup with then-bandmate laura marling, they released the drab the first days of spring. fans feared the worst; where had the joy gone? but with their newest single “l.i.f.e.g.o.e.s.o.n.” noah and the whale is back on the forefront of happy-go-lucky orchestral indie pop. it’s everything wonderful about the wes anderson-inspired band: a chanted, chirpy chorus, orchestral flourish, and maybe most of all, optimism and hope.
noah and the whale – last night on earth is out march 7th on mercury records.