ever the optimist…

“I want to pretend, I want to pretend
The shape of the past could walk in the present tense
I’m shaking my head, you’ve certainly said
I don’t like you much now”

I don’t know if I’ve stated my love for Australia’s Modular Recordings enough here. They are by far my favourite indie label these days as they consistently put out quality releases and have brought some brilliant tunes from down under giving some great artists a chance to shine. From the Presets to Ladyhawke to Cut Copy to Van She, it doesn’t stop. Of all the bands on the label that have stolen my heart on countless occasions, none do it quite so effectively or with such stealth as New Young Pony Club.

Their 2007 debut Fantastic Playroom was pure new wave heaven. It speaks to how great and solid a record is when you can easily play it two years later and still feel the impact you did when you first listened from track one to the end. That kind of replay value holds true here. At long last, I’m happy to say the band is back!  There is a new single afoot! It’s called Lost A Girl and it retains the band’s relentless charm while making things a tad but darker.

Less pep, less immediate than The Bomb or Ice Cream but the band is better for it.  Tahita is still the star of the show here with her simple lyrics delivered with such panache, you’re sucked in instantaneously. NYPC , on the debut blended perfect pop moments with killer grooves showcasing some honest to goodness musical chops. That is still evident here in case you were at all concerned. Prepare to fall in love with the Pony Club all over again.

Just remember to pick up the new record The Optimist when it’s released in March unless of course you live in the US where you get to wait…

New Young Pony Club on MySpace
New Young Pony Club on Facebook
New Young Pony Club on Twitter

“Lost A Girl” by New Young Pony Club from the forthcoming Modular release, “The Optimist”


hey! the fakery’s back!

“And all of my dreams are only dreams
And all of my schemes are only schemes
And if this is my punishment
Then I want my crime to fit”

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I don’t like the Fakery, the band better known to the world as The Bravery.  You want contrived? Check? You want boring? Check? You want lacking in ideas and a band bereft of any inclination towards anything resembling a tune. You’ve got the Bravery. Here’s their new single called Slow Poison. Enjoy it now because I’m sure you’ll forget about it by this coming Tuesday, the first of December when the record Stir The Blood is released.

Before I get the hate comments, let me simply state that I thought the self-titled debut record was decent enough with songs like Unconditional & An Honest Mistake. The problem for me was simply that a) the record did not meet the hype which was really not their fault, to be fair. b) much like the The Fillers’ Hot Mess aka The Killers’ Hot Fuss, the record was extremely top heavy and by the second half, you knew what you were getting, weren’t floored by what you heard before and found yourself filing the record away in your cabinet.  That’s not what I want from the music I listen to. I want something vital. I want something to fall in love with the process of discovering music all over again. Never mind the fact that if you listen closely, the chorus closely resembles that of Bombers Bay by Echo & The Bunnymen, it only adds to the Bravery’s list of crimes against humanity. It all adds up to why The Fakery simply don’t do it for me and there you have it.

The Bravery on MySpace
The Bravery on Facebook
The Bravery on Twitter

“Slow Poison” by The Bravery, taken from the forthcoming Island/Def Jam release, “Stir The Blood”

who are you and what have you done with julian casablancas?

First things first. I am a Strokes fan. Check that. I am a HUGE Strokes fan. Dating back to the first time playing at Arlene’s Grocery way back when then getting my filthy mitts on The Modern Age EP, I was smitten with this band who quickly became the pride of New York and the purveyors of what would be the return of new wave whether they liked it or not. With the ten year anniversary of the seminal debut record Is This It approaching, it’s about time we get an idea of what lurks in the mind of the face of the franchise so to speak in Julian Casablancas. I was never particularly taken by the Albert Hammond Jr. records and Fab’s Little Joy project left me cold but when the news came about Julian taking a dip into the solo pool, I was interested.

If you, like me, were bored to tears by that Converse-sponsored earache-inducing error-in-judgment involving Julian, Santigold and Pharrell called My Drivethru, I can say for certain it’s okay to place your faith back in the shaggy-haired one. It appears Julian has traded in his lo-fi sound for a cleaner, much more polished electronic pop sound that almost sounds like he’d been listening to the first Electronic record and been taking notes. Needless to say I am highly in favour of the first track taken from Julian’s solo debut record Phrazes For The Young called 11th Dimension. For most, this would be considered quite a change in direction in sound but here it seems to suit Julian just fine.

The record is due out 3 November via Cult/RCA and you can be sure there will be a review so before I waste more space waxing poetic over this track, let me simply say that it’s quite specatacular and you should play to your heart’s content over and over. By the way, New York City cops still aren’t too smart.

Julian Casablancas on MySpace
Julian Casablancas on Facebook

“11th Dimension” by Julian Casablancas, taken from the Cult/RCA release, “Phrazes For The Young”

these girls fall like dominos…

“As soon as I love her it’s been too long

And I really loved breaking your heart
These silver apples will shine on I was wrong
The hardest love has the coldest end”

From London with love comes The Big Pink. A brash duo consisting of Robbie Furze (vox, guitars) and Milo Cordell (keys) who’ve arrived with their recently released debut record A Brief History Of Love (4AD) to remind us all that nothing can summon up varying degrees of emotion than love.  With their booming drums combined with a love of dance music, this duo is blowing up in a big way in the UK and it’s only a matter of time before they invade the States. While it’s a safe bet the greater masses will probably pay them no mind, those of us with a pulse and a brain will find The Big Pink to be the first big band heading into 2010.

Dominos thus far would rate as my favourite of the three singles released to date.  I simply can;t enough of the deadly combination consisting of head-pounding drums and killer fist-raising chorus. This, friends, is what you call an anthem.

The Big Pink on MySpace
The Big Pink on Facebook

“Dominos” by The Big Pink, taken from the 4AD release, “A Brief History Of Love”

they are women, hear them roar!

Back from my near week-long sojourn into the ether, I have indeed returned, my dear friends!

Early last week, I witnessed a truly fun show put together by the members of the band, Electric Chariot to appreciate and highlight local female fronted bands. When I was told of this idea, I thought it was definitely a show that I should check out and so I did!. The show took place at Public Assembly here in Williamsburg and it was a fun time had by all who chad come down to support the bands and the concept itself.

Psychedelic Disco Angels

Leading off were the Psychedelic Disco Angels.  They are a local duo whose sound was an interesting blend of Mazzy Star and Portishead. The eye-opener during their set lay in the fact that the male guitarist seemed to have a greater role than the female bassist. Aside from that minor quip, theirs was an enjoyable set and I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Next up were a band called Audio Fiction. Theirs was a fun set if you enjoy hearing straight-forward pub rock.  I’m not saying this is a knock to the band’s sound at all as they do have the pieces intact to be a fine act and they excuted quite well. It just left me with a feeling where if one were to close their eyes, it would be feasible to imagine this sound emanating from any given band playing in any given bar in any given region at any given time.

Hank of Hank & CupcakesDSCN0237Hank & Cupcakes

Next up was my discovery for the night, a band called Hank & Cupcakes.  A bass and drums duo made up of Cupcakes on drums and vocals and Hank on the bass with help from really cool synthesizer effects.  Their set was definitely an eye-opener and so much fun as they truly had the audience eating out of their hands with the band’s brand of infectious tunes. They even threw in a great rendition of Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control for good measure. The band recently had a party this past Friday at Piano’s to celebrate the release of their EP, Pleasure Town. I regret that I was not able to attend but this is definitely a band to keep your eyes on. Remember the name…Hank & Cupcakes.

Electric ChariotElectric Chariot
Last but most certainly not least, the headliners, Electric Chariot. The alt-rock outfit is simply getting better every time they hit the stage and it’s simply a pleasure to watch them as they evolve. Led by the siren of New York rock, Victoria Schwartz, the band blistered through their set of head-bashers and even premiered a newly penned track, Cheshire Cat.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening.  Some quality tunes, some promising new talent and a good time had by all!

i’ll sign up for these clinical trials…

Clinical Trials

I think it’s fair to say that I love my city and have no problems representing it when at all possible. What makes it so much easier is when there is such a treasure trove of artistry that constantly replenishes itself. One such example is a new band called Clinical Trials fronted by one Somer Bingham who, in my humble opinion, has got the goods and then some.

Very little in music excites me than a fiery vocals coming from a bad girl. Think Polly Jean Harvey, Joan Jett, etc. That sense of angst, so true, so guttural can often draw you in and make the listener feel her presence, her pain, her desires. We have that here in spades as evidenced by the two tracks Somer was gracious to send me in Polly Got Away and Disco Headphones.   Both songs show Ms. Bingham’s versatility veering from a sultry purr to a mighty wail that would make Ms. Harvey do a double-take.

So there you have it, friends. Listen to your heart’s content and remember the name. Go to their MySpace.

“Polly Got Away”, from the forthcoming release, “In The Wake Of The Digital Afterlife”

“Disco Headphones” from the release, “In The Wake Of The Digital Afterlife”

who doesn’t love friendly fires?

“Rub that line out of the sky
I can feel the night crawl
A broken drum and tambourine
Rub that line out of the sky
I can see the clouds form
Taking shape in front of me”

I’m going to take a wild stab in assuming that if you’re reading this blog, you’re already well aware of the Friendly Fires.  Last year’s self-titled record was definitely brimming with tons of promise. A simply ferocious blend of new wave, dance, and punk-funk, Friendly Fires burst into the blogosphere with songs like Paris, Jump In The Pool, & On Board. Theirs is a sound that exhibits an enormous amount of sophistication and intensity that puts many other bands that the blogs and the NME were waxing poetic about to a miserable shame.

Fresh off their co-headlining tour with the almighty White Lies, the trio have returned with a stunning new single, Kiss Of Life. Simply put, the Fires, in this track,  took the script from the first record, flipped it and went back to basics. What kicks this track into gear is the drums. A pleasant surprise is it appears that African tribal rhythms were an influence here and used to some great effect turning the song into something more than your average head-bopper. Throw in Ed McFarlane’s vocals (some of the best you’ll hear anywhere) and you’ve got yourself a hit for a band that’s truly in the ascendant.

“Kiss Of Life” from Friendly Fires (XL Recordings)