New Music – Grizzly Bear, Broken Social Scene

First of all, I’ve been suffering from tonsilitis the last few days so I’ve been quiet.

The gradual release of decent-quality MP3’s from Grizzly Bear’s Veckitisawhatsitagain? continues, with “Cheerleader”, previously heard live, making its way out onto the big wide Interwebz. The live version, as you would expect, was rough and lacking their expert use of the studio, but certainly sounded promising.

Now, bizarrely, I got hold of this last week and thought it was fab. And thought I’d uploaded it here. But I hadn’t. Doh!

The word on the street is that it’s actually one of the weaker tunes from Veckatiswheresmyspellchecker. If that’s the case, then we’ve got rather a lot to look forward to when the album is released on May 26th. (Don’t you go and download the leaked version, as it’s pretty poor quality and you’ll miss out on all the detail. When I get the CD it’ll be ripped at about 14,000kbs, you know, and will take up half my iPod. And I’ve got a biiiig iPod)

“Cheerleader” is certainly a bit more relaxed and less ominous than tracks from Yellow House, it fair floats along in a rather dreamy way, with guitars cutting through Ed Droste’s beautiful singing, and yes, a children’s choir. A five minute slice of loveliness and I think, yes, I’ve got to mark it with my famed1 Sonic Cathedrals of Sound tag.

An album that passed me by last year, thanks to a continually changing UK release date that baffled the lovely folk at Rough Trade as much as me, was Brendan Canning’s “solo” album with Broken Social Scene. The founder of Broken Social Scene who’s not Kevin Drew, he’s the chap who looks a bit like a physics teacher who someone has put a bass on him and told him to be funky2. Lovely fella, having had all of a thirty second conversation with him and Kevin after their Shepherd’s Bush show last year. Anyway, I stumbled across their video for “Churches Under The Stairs” the other day, and rather fine it is too:

The band, who at their smallest number about 16 (ok, 8), do a Soundclash-style face off, Drew vs Canning. The song itself is almost Type-A BSS, with that wonderful motorik/New Order groove and great little drum rolls, fills and pauses that make your heart stop for an instant before suddenly throwing you forward again. Great interplay between Canning and Drew as well, as you’d expect.

Is it just me that prays every night to an uncaring God, to get all the top people in BSS together – you know, Feist, Amy Millan, Jason Collett, Emily Haines
3 – to make another album as good as “You Forgot It In People”? Yeah, I know, it’ll never happen.

1 Round here, at least.

2 The bassline of “Stars and Sons” was his work, and quite frankly is possibly the funkiest bassline in indie music since “Barbarism Begins At Home”:

3 Speaking of which, the new Metric album rocks.

Cheerleader by Grizzly Bear

Churches Under The Stairs by Broken Social Scene Featuring Brendan Canning

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More New Old Stuff – Wye Oak, Grizzly Bear

In my typical fashion, I heard some great new music the other day, only to discover that they had been around for ages. That’s what you get round here, year old news. Ah well.

Anyway, the two bands I was listening to were Monarch and Wye Oak. Both deal in that dreamy late-80’s, early-90’s British vibe, as perfected by My Bloody Valentine, Lush etc. And sounded oddly similar. Including having the same album title and a couple of tracks the same. So, with a bit more research, and finding a bunch of bands called “Monarch”, I managed to discover from here that Monarch had had the same problem, so renamed themselves to Wye Oak.

And what a lovely name it is, too, being the state tree of Maryland. I love that US thing of having state trees, state animals, and state moods (New Jersey: Angry, Idaho: Gloomy, California: Smug). You could never do that in the UK. The state tree of most of the north would be a “That shrubby bush that some kids have tried to set fire to”.

Anyway, Wye Oak. They are a couple from Baltimore, who sound about as far from the city of The Wire than you could imagine. A bit dreamy, a bit noisy, and really quite good.

In other news, I’ve heard that Veckatimoomoo by Grizzly Bear has been leaked. I am not going to post it as I’ve already had my ass busted once, thank you, and it just doesn’t seem the right thing to do to such a lovely band. Please pre-order it. Though if the band do release any more songs from the record I shall be sure to post it here, hopefully within a month or two. Cough.

Warning by Wye Oak

If Children Were Wishes by Wye Oak

A New Bit Of Grizzly Bear And Other Fierce Animals

So, new chunks of Veckitamitsawhoozle keep creeping out, this time a lovely new track by the name “While You Wait For The Others”. According to some sources it’s the new single, others state it’s just another track on tha ablum, but who really takes much notice of singles these days anyway? Ooh, back in my day, 7″, shall I spend the extra on the 12″ with the extra tracks, jumpers for goalposts etc. In any case, it’s got a touch of the “Little Brother (Electric)” from the “Friends EP”, which frankly is absolutely fine by me. Certainly bodes well for the album, out in May, and is hugely anticipated. Oh yes, I’m going to be posting more stuff as I get it (ok, I know this came out last week but I’ve been busy).

In other animal-related news, Super Furry Animals are recording a new album and have got themselves four cameras, which they are using to record themselves recording the album. You can see this fascinating experiment on their website. Certainly has a particular hypnotic quality to it. One of them is having a kip on the sofa right now!. Fantastic.

Anyway, this is a really quick post as I’ve been busy all day. I’ve got the next bit of the Pitchfork 500, which is all post-punky and no-wavey to do, so hopefully that should be in tomorrow’s blog.

I’ve also been neglecting the Friday Python. Here’s a great one:

Ah, Graham Chapman. The man was a genius. “And a bit suspect, I think”.

While You Wait For The Others by Grizzly Bear

Review – Dark Was The Night – Various Artists

Dark Was The Night is a new charity compilation released by those lovely folks over at 4AD. It features a bunch of newly recorded songs, both new songs and covers, by some of the brightest and greatest bands around at the moment, from Grizzly Bear and The National to Feist and Sufjan Stevens. The charity Red, for AIDS sufferers around the world, is the benefactor, and the album assembled by the Dessner brothers from The National.

Now I’ve got to say that some of the bands on here are top favourites round L&L Mansions, so I was rather keen to give this a spin (can you spin MP3’s?) to see what they’d come up with. And it’s mostly pretty good. A few things I have learned from this album. Some artists can be covered, like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Others, like Nick Drake, just sound like weak interpretations, no matter how skilfully done. Sorry, The Books. That the pairing of Anthony Johnson’s voice and Bryce Dessner’s guitar is a match made in heaven (and I’m not really much of an Anthony fan). That The Decemberists still sound like an American Levellers. That Sufjan Stevens, though a genius, isn’t always perfect. And neither are Arcade Fire, bless them.

That My Morning Jacket have a nice line in 50’s doo-wop. That Dave Sitek, stripped of much of the cleverness of TV On The Radio, can be suprisingly charming, though still bizarrely reminiscent of AR Kane. That Stuart Murdoch sounds like a Scottish Nico. That Cat Power, Buck 65 and Spoon should go and take a long, hard look at themselves for what they have done.

Feist and Grizzly Bear combine on the old Grizzly Bear track “Service Bell”, which is not quite the sum of its respective parts. But Grizzly Bear’s own track “Deep Blue Sea” is one of the highlights, and finds them in pleasant acoustic live mode rather than we’re-going-to-creep-you-out Yellow House mode. And the track is followed up by a new The National song, “So Far Round The Bend”, featuring a string and horn arrangement, from Nico Muhly, who’s also worked with Grizzly Bear on their new album Veckaitimawhatsit (by the way, check that link out – a blog purely devoted to the new Grizzly Bear album). Incestuous? Ah, who cares if the music is great. And this song’s a peach, boding well for whatever The National do next. For yeah, sayeth the Lord, Boxer was top.

And there are loads of other decent tracks on here. I haven’t even started wittering on about Yo La Tengo or David Byrne. Or Iron & Wine. Or how I still don’t get Bon Iver.

Anyway, charity albums have a habit of having a couple of good tracks with lots of filler, or re-released material. Dark Was The Night manages to serve up a whole load of what’s called alternative music these days, and it’s a treat for fans and newcomers alike. You might even find yourself listening to it a whole bunch of times. Well done, folks.

Some New Old Music – Grizzly Bear, Here We Go Magic, Devendra Banhart

Little bits and bobs of Grizzly Bear’s new album keep creeping out, mostly live versions. It’s likely to be one of the highlights of 2009 (well, musical ones anyway), and their last album Yellow House was my most played album of 2008. Yes, yes, I know it came out in 2006. I was busy, ok? (and on that note, whilst I would love to be able to post funky new tunes every day, I really am not disciplined enough to find great things every day. There’s loads of fantastic places for that, and you can find some on the right hand side of this blog. Sorry, rant over. Anyway, next I’ll be finding a great new collective from Toronto called Broken Social Something or other and posting their stuff soon. Oh ok, only kidding)

Anyway, courtesy of Gorilla Vs Bear, here’s a lovely new-ish live track, called Cheerleader. Certainly promising, and Lord only knows what it’ll sound like after being put through the famous Grizzly Bear Studio Technique. Probably uniquely wonderful in that Grizzly Bear way.

And whilst we’re on the subject of new albums, here’s a lovely tune from some people called Here We Go Magic. Now I must admit, I know very little about them, but this tune is a charming little bit of dreamy pop. And they are liked by Grizzly Bear. And they like Department of Eagles. Anyone see a connection?
(In fact, just listening to it yet again, it’s a bit of an earworm this one. I rather likes it)

And lastly, Kath Bloom, another person about whom I know next to nothing (shame on me) has an album out, consisting of covers by, amongst others, L&L faves Bill Callahan (Smog) and Devendra Banhart, plus an additional sort-of-best-of. Well worth a listen, I say.

Speaking of which, I’ve just got to post some Bill Callahan/Smog stuff soon. I love him, but not in that way.

Cheerleader (Live) by Grizzly Bear

Forget About Him (Kath Bloom cover) by Devendra Banhart

Tunnelvision by Here We Go Magic