Posts Tagged ‘the shins’

If sobriety and music are bedmates you don’t cuddle up next to, chances are you’ll get a kick out of the Pittsburgh-based Black Moth Super Rainbow. Their Dandelion Gum album has fragility clinging to its every note, malcontent and mumbling about sleepy summers and lost flowers; agreed not exactly the most breathtaking of concepts, but the music certainly carries it to places very rarely tread even by indie music standards. Hell, Black Moth Super Rainbow is too indie to be called indie; they’re beautiful noisemongers because as discordant as you might think the music is, you’d have to be deaf to miss out on the how gorgeous it sounds. Neon Syrup For The Cemetery Sister, with electronic fuzz washing over it and Untitled Roadside Demo, a space gospel amongst other trippy things, are highlights. In fact I’m yet to find a track of theirs I could do without on a rainy Saturday afternoon; even Rollerdisco gently coaxes my ears despite staying true to the second part of its name. I’m feeling giddy thinking about The House of Apples and Eyeballs (their collaboration with the fantastic pop-tronic band The Octopus Project). Check out Pop Matters’ review too.


Broken Bells has Danger Mouse, uber-producer and one-half of Gnarls Barkley, hooking up with James Mercer, lead singer of indie stalwarts The Shins, creating great music for us to feel the wind in our hair and wag our tongues out of the car window to. No, seriously…this is the stuff that makes road rage a fleeting thought. This is music that sounds feel-good and shockingly also makes you feel good, mostly because it never stoops to down to lows like dipshit happy choruses that rhyme “high” with “why” or fancy guitar solos that never serve any purpose but getting the lead guitarist decent head or better coke. Broken Bell’s debut is scheduled for release in about three weeks (don’t be a dick by downloading the album now) so for now, gorge yourself on the single – the tremendously synth-tastic The High Road.


A British supergroup comprising Damon Albarn (Blur), Paul Simonon (The Clash), Simon Tong (The Verve) and Tony Allen (an Afrobeat legend) released an album called The Good, The Bad And The Queen in 2007 that was very fucking listenable. They decided to remain unnamed as of yet but I doubt it started off as a gimmick considering how lackadaisical each song is towards grabbing our attention. I think that the album remained rather obscure (or maybe I was too busy listening to Anselmo’s side projects in 2007) because it never quite lived up to the reputation of its musicians. While I’m game for musicians letting their legendary status rot in a trophy case rather than stroking it in the recording studio, still a punk icon, two British alternative rock stalwarts and one of the greatest drummers ever could surely have come up with something more than a bunch of dainty, bouncy, and vaguely refreshing melodies neatly packaged as “indie music to look out for in 2007”. The title track however is epic and not because it goes on for seven minutes; it’s a track that puts the spotlight on their collective brilliance. Albarn hurriedly whispers, “It’s the blessed routine, for the good, the bad and the queen, just moving out of dreams with no physical wounds at all” as the rest revisit great Eighties pop briefly with their instruments and then move into a frenzied post-grunge guitar section before calling it a day all hush-hush. Good stuff.


The Raah Project, where do I start?  clears throat and gets knocked down by a silhouette). Ahem, from Scholar’s The More I Make Revolutions, The More I Want To Make Love, “No matter what kind of what music you dig, I hope you’ll be adventurous and give this joint a listen. It’s a cross-section of so many styles that it would be problematic to faithfully paint a picture with words…just an insanely beautiful piece of music.” Yes good man, YES! I can stop overplaying Cool Calm Pete’s remix of Sharon Jones’ Stranded In Your Love; this, my simians, has the smoothest groove I have heard in a long time.


Black Moth Super Rainbow – Neon Syrup For The Cemetery Sister, Untitled Roadside Demo

Broken Bells – The High Road

Untitled – The Good, The Bad And The Queen

The Raah Project – All Of Your Things (or download it from Souled On)


Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Dandelion Gum

The Good, The Bad And The Queen

The Raah Project – Covered Up In Stars

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My first introduction to The Shins was through their sophomoric Oh Inverted World album. A friend of mine shared a few mp3s and well, I wasn’t too impressed with their cutesy, willfully ironic indie rock. It was almost as though Franz Ferdinand had been playing their brand of music for many years, but with a bit more bile in their balls and a penchant for experimental histrionics to boot; and who are those Ferdinand fellows really but Coldplay band members who bunked two decades of choir practice to drink coffee and beer at the local pub. Recently, after listening to their Chutes Too Narrow album, I have turned 360 degrees on these Portland lads. While the tracks maintain that grand mushrooming of gentle pop melodies into bursts of sunny, sometimes alarmingly pensive rock anthems, the ghostly rhythms that are gratuitously made to swim amidst them make all the difference.

chutes too narrow

Saint Simon is one those reasons why music remains as literature’s most cherished companion; some might have believe it’s a warm blanket or a mug of coffee, but to hell with them.  I can picture about seven hundred literary characters walk into the sunset with this track playing in the background. Kissing The Lipless could have so easily been that song, which Rent Boy heard before deciding to call it quits on drugs in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. In fact, those precious seconds of psychedelic guitar noodling towards the end could have made him go running back to Mother Superior Swan. Oh indie music, you gloriously inverted, lovable nincompoop…you.



I’m pretty sure you have met Damon Gough. Maybe in the bar, gently mouthing the words to the songs playing in the jukebox or perhaps crossing the road, whistling an old folk tune…hell, you might have even seen him driving a car on the highway, unperturbed by everything but the music blasting from the stereo.  See, Damon Gough – also known as Badly Drawn Boy – is one of those kaleidoscopic glitches on the pop industry. He seems just like one of those blokes who couldn’t care less if VH1 wanted to do an episode of Cribs with him; he’d probably tell the host, “don’t touch anything and we’ll be ok”. Don’t we all know people like that?

hour of the bewilderbeast

He even strives to look like the average John despite his unkempt beard and trademark skullcap often threatening to make him a regular face on Billboard countdowns and other tripe endeavors orchestrated by bored marketing gurus at media and publishing companies. He refuses to let his music take its normal course into readily conformist U2-like landscapes of sound,  releases an album about once  every two years and promotes it with the enthusiasm of a goldfish fighting long-term cancer. Yet, he succeeds…as a musician making unique, pleasant alternative pop music and as an artist earning more than loaf of bread through his dedication to his art form. Pretty decent living, if you ask me. All Possibilities (Have You Fed The Fish?) is an ideal song to start with; funky, joyous and very aware of its distance from reality. Then you should immediately check out the tender and morose Stone In The Water or the gently alluring The Shining (of the fantastic The Hour Of Bewilderbeast). I swear, if I got paid for crafting something as exquisite as that, I would cry. Yup, me = man after all. You = will understand when you listen to it.



Mathew Stephen Ward (M Ward) makes music you can think about Leonard Cohen to. Matter of fact, at times he sounds remarkably like Adam Cohen – offspring of the man who made me forget every other interpretation of Hallelujah but his own (yes, even Jeff Buckley’s). He even channels the spirit of the late Nick Drake in Let’s Dance – the perfect song for the funeral of a lonely dancer.



I must admit that the Coldplay comparison was rather harsh. After all Franz Ferdinand have been known to put out some decent music out there. Some of them even great enough for us to erase the memory of the British pub rock scene getting fucked in the wrong places by Coldplay’s complete nonchalance towards all that is worthy of a second listen. Everybody say hello to the dark side of the manatee.


The Shins – Saint Simon

The Shins – Kissing The Lipless

Badly Drawn Boy – All Possibilities

Badly Drawn Boy – The Shining

Badly Drawn Boy – Stone In The Water

M Ward – Let’s Dance

Franz Ferdinand – The Dark of The Manatee


The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy, M Ward, my spleen

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