Feature ·

[January 22, 2008] Heading to the record store? Here's what's new.

Each week, we preview a handful of notable albums scheduled to hit the shelves, plus offer a full list of the current new releases.


Baby Dee
Safe Inside the Day
Drag City

Baby Dee has been quietly making a name for herself as a cathartic singer-songwriter for some time now. Along the way, she’s picked up influential admirers such as Antony Hegarty and Will Oldham. Those friends were influential in bringing her music to the venerable indie label Drag City (she earlier recorded for Jnana). The result is Safe Inside the Day, which Oldham and fellow indie-rock legend Matt Sweeney produced. They also play on the album, as do Andrew W.K. and members of Current 93 and Psychic TV. ~John Zeiss

Artist: http://www.babydee.org
Label: http://www.dragcity.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/theonlybabydee
“The Only Bones that Show” MP3: http://www.dragcity.com/mp3/dc351bdteeth.mp3

Catherine Avenue
Love Minus Zero/Drive-Thru

As with other bands from Los Angeles, the city’s favorable climate has seeped into Biirdie’s music, making it light, airy, and as fun as a day at the beach. The indie-pop threesome has been compared to many an Elephant 6 act. Catherine Avenue, the band’s second full-length, has been available on iTunes and at the band’s shows since last year, but thanks to good buzz (Biirdie is a favorite on influential radio station KCRW and has recently played with the likes of Arthur and Yu and Sondra Lerche), the album is now getting a proper physical release. Among the album’s tunes is “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of,” a cover of a Tex-Mex song by the Texas Tornados. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.flyawaybiirdie.com 
Label: http://www.loveminuszero.net
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/biirdie

Black Mountain
In the Future

After splintering off into many side projects, the Canadian retro rockers of Black Mountain are back together for the band’s second album, following up the 2005 self-titled debut. Despite the album’s forward-looking title, expect to hear more harking back to rock staples like Zeppelin and Floyd than any cutting-edge technological blip-bleepery. Songs like “Bright Lights” stretch out in noodling, synthesizers shimmer, guitar lines ascend to the heavens, and the drums pound mightily. It’s all held together by Stephen McBean’s overarching goal to put the classic back in rock. All of the songs on the album except “Stay Free” -- from the Spiderman III soundtrack -- were mixed by John Congleton, who has also worked with Modest Mouse and Explosions in the Sky. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.blackmountainarmy.com
Label: http://www.jagjaguwar.com 
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/blackmountain
“Tyrants” MP3: http://www.scjag.com/mp3/jag/tyrants.mp3

Blood on the Wall
Social Registry

"Endearing" may seem an unusual adjective to describe a band called "Blood on the Wall," but it fits the Brooklyn trio of Miggy Littleton and siblings Courtney and Brad Shanks. They achieve that rare balance of rough-hewed, homegrown charm and too-good-for-their-estimable-smarts wizardry, and they channel the Pixies, Pavement, and the Jesus and Mary Chain without sounding like the thousands of other bands trying their hardest to do so. Album number three may not invoke the epicness of the preceding Awesomer, but it does sound promising. ~Dan Nishimoto

Band: http://www.bloodonthewall.com
Label: http://www.thesocialregistry.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/bloodonthewall

Bodies of Water
Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink
Secretly Canadian

Things are looking up for Bodies of Water. The Los Angeles-based band released Ears last year on its own Thousand Tongues label, and the praise it garnered led to being signed by landmark indie outpost Secretly Canadian, which is now re-releasing the album. It’s a joyous and buoyant affair, reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens and Stereolab. Bodies of Water is centered on husband-and-wife Meredith Arthur and David Metcalf, who were originally joined in music-making by two more friends. Now when the band plays live, its multi-instrumental ranks can number in the double digits. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.bodiesofwater.net
Label: http://www.secretlycanadian.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/bodiesofwater
“I Guess I’ll Forget, I Guess, I Guess” MP3: http://www.scjag.com/mp3/sc/iguessillforget.mp3

Cat Power

Perhaps part of the appeal behind Cat Power's Memphis blues and soul excursion, The Greatest (2006), had to with the disruption of context. Not for the Southern-born Chan Marshall but for her mostly indie-indulging audience. The embrace of her roots (along with the help of a few great friends) not only broadened the singer's appeal but also the palette of her fans. Marshall continues to explore this new territory on her eighth full-length. Though she previously indulged her penchant for a fellow artist's good choon on 2000's The Covers Record, Jukebox arrives with more temerity and the brass of her road-tested Dirty Delta Blues backing band. A deluxe version of the record with a bonus disc of covers (which finds her interpreting Hot Boys' "I Feel" and the more familiar Nick Cave's "Breathless") and a gatefold cover is also being released simultaneously. ~Dan Nishimoto

Band: http://www.catpowerthegreatest.com
Label: http://www.matadorrecords.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/catpower

The Cool Kids
Bake Sale EP
Chocolate Industries

When I first moved to Brooklyn, I often passed through a store called Vinnie's Styles(http://www.vinniesstyles.com). The purveyor of urban regalia attracted a mostly young, black demographic. And, as the ancient proverb (or at least the moral of Hairspray) goes, "Where there are cool black kids, white kids trying to be cool (and Japanese tourists) must follow." And then the circle became unbroken. The cool black kids came back. And, of course, with some even flyer gear. The Cool Kids hail from this latest generation. “Black Mags"(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b34U3-CutuU), that Rhapsody commercial(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bXXxx1HeWk), and even this EP are just the jump-off. A full-length is slated to be released mid-year. ~Dan Nishimoto

Band: http://www.myspace.com/gocoolkids
Label: http://www.chocolateindustries.com

Dengue Fever
Venus on Earth

Though constantly hailed by local outlets like the Los Angeles Times as the city's most "original pop band," the Cambodian-American psyche–surf rock quintet has sat patiently at the precipice of a national break for several years now. The group shifted into overdrive the last two years: an appearance on the Broken Flowers soundtrack; a documentary about singer Chhom Nimol's homecoming and the band's first trip to Cambodia, called Sleepwalking Through the Mekong; and now its third album, Venus on Earth. On it, Nimol's gorgeous Khmer and English vocals are paired with the band's inventive blend of garage rock, Cambodian folk and Ethio-jazz. ~Dan Nishimoto

Band: http://www.myspace.com/denguefevermusic
Label: http://www.m80records.com

Drive-By Truckers
Brighter than Creation’s Dark
New West

Southern-rock torchbearers Drive-By Truckers just keep trucking along. The band is now minus Jason Isbell, who has veered off into his own solo career. That’s left bassist Shonna Tucker to pick up some of the slack. Brighter than Creation’s Dark, the Truckers’ eight full-length, is the first she’s written songs for. It follows on the heels of 2006’s A Blessing and a Curse and the Truckers’ diversion last year into backing Bettye LaVette on her album, Scene of the Crime. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.drivebytruckers.com
Label: http://www.newwestrecords.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/drivebytruckers

The Evening Descends
Dead Oceans

Evangelicals burst onto the indie-rock scene with its debut, So Gone, released in 2006 via Misra. The group garnered comparisons mainly to fellow Oklahoman outré outfit the Flaming Lips while also being reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel and Jeff Buckley at times, thanks to lead singer Josh Jone’s at-times honey-sweet voice. Follow-up The Evening Descends finds Evangelicals widening its pallet even further, largely abandoning traditional song structures while employing audio clips from old movies and spoken-word dialogue. It’s an interesting, independent step for the young band. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/evangelicals
Label: http://www.deadoceans.com

Liam Finn
I’ll Be Lightning
Yep Roc

Quite the DIY streak has always seemed to run through the veins of New Zealand musicians. And so it is with newcomer Liam Finn. At only twenty-three years old, Finn already shows massive talent. He played all of the instruments on this, his debut album, including the usual guitar, bass, and drums, as well as rarer gadgetry like the theremin. It all adds up to an energetic sound brimming with the vitality of youth yet the polish of a seasoned vet. ~John Zeiss

Artist: http://www.liamfinn.tv
Label: http://www.yeproc.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/theliamfinn

Hello, Blue Roses
The Portrait Is Finished and I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty. . .

Furthering his bid for the title of “hardest working man in indie rock,” here comes Dan Bejar with yet another project. Here, the Destroyer/New Pornographers/Swan Lake musician collaborates with his lady friend Sydney Vermont, a multitalented musician and visual artist. Vermont handled all of the songwriting (with Bejar plugging in the instrumental arrangements) for the fourteen-track album, save for the lone cover, a revisiting of Kevin Ayer’s “Hymn.” The duo originally fleshed-out the songs in Malaga, Spain, before putting them on record in Vancouver, Canada. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.helloblueroses.com
Label: http://www.locustmusic.com 
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/helloblueroses

Instruments of Science and Technology
Music from the Films of R/Swift

Secretly Canadian

There must be a rule somewhere in the rock ’n’ roll handbook that at some point in their careers, all rock artists have to dabble in the electro arts. For Richard Swift, that time has come. Swift usually leans more toward the folk and blues side of things; he was last heard impressing many in that style on his sophomore album, last year’s Dressed Up for the Letdown. Here he gets all knob-twiddly with his appropriately named side venture, Instruments of Science and Technology. The album’s music ventures into the realms of dub, hip-hop, and other bass-heavy and beat-oriented genres. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/instrumentsofscienceandt
Label: http://www.secretlycanadian.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/richardswift
“Shooting a Rhino Between the Shoulders” MP3: http://www.scjag.com/mp3/sc/shootingarhino.mp3


’Tis the time in which world-accented indie rock is in the ascendancy, so you can go ahead and lump Majhongg in with the likes of Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer. Mahjongg certainly invests a bit more in rhythm than your typical band of Pavement-adoring hipsters. The band did so on its 2005 debut, Raydoncong, and does so again with this sophomore set, Kontpab. Both albums were recorded with the assistance of Benjamin Balcom. Mahjongg shares members with the similarly tribal-sounding Chicago collective Waterbabies. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/machinegong
Label: http://www.krecs.com
Album stream: http://www.krecs.com/mahjongg/kontpab

Connie Price & The Keystones
Tell Me Something

There's something in the air of Los Angeles. The city's oft-overlooked hip-hop scene helped revive interest in sample culture through the excavation-style productions of Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark and the live breakbeat interpretations of Breakestra. Add to this list Connie Price & The Keystones, a group of the city's best and brightest musicians. Their debut, Wildflowers, conjured '60s and '70s smoky instrumental soul (and was aptly released on the reissue-heavy Now Again imprint by way of Stones Throw), the band takes a significant step forward on its sophomore release, Tell Me Something. The production of the record is a full-blown hip-hop affair, including samples and loops of the group's live performances and emcees galore (from recent collaborator Big Daddy Kane to Freestyle Fellowship's Mikah 9). Both CD and LP versions come with two slabs: one for the regular album, the other with instrumentals. ~Dan Nishimoto

Band: http://www.myspace.com/conniepricethekeystones
Label: http://www.ubiquityrecords.com

Sex Death Cassette
Asthmatic Kitty

Who what the what?! What is Rafter Roberts doing talking about sex and death on Asthmatic Kitty, the little label run by unabashed Christian and seemingly all-around nice guy Sufjan Stevens? Perhaps it’s just a combination of three random words, like Olivia Tremor Control or Neutral Milk Hotel. And if so, perhaps it’s meant to recall the pop inventiveness of those acts, which Rafter’s own eclectic music tends to do. This is Rafter’s second proper full-length, a return to focusing on his own music after working with many other Asthmatic Kitty artists as well as producing albums for the Album Leaf and Fiery Furnaces. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/rafterroberts
Label: http://asthmatickitty.com 
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/rafterroberts
“Zzzpenchant” MP3: http://asthmatickitty.com/mp3/rafter_-_zzzpenchant_-_sex_death_cassette.mp3

Times New Viking
Rip it Off

On Rip It Off, Times New Viking, a trio from Columbus, Ohio, churns out sixteen high-energy tunes in just over a half-hour. This is the band’s third full-length and first for indie stalwart Matador -- the band previously recorded for Siltbreeze. ~John Zeiss


Band: http://www.myspace.com/timesnewviking
Label: http://www.matadorrecords.com

*Release dates may change. E-mail brandon@prefixmag.com with corrections or additions.
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Week in Preview

things picked up this week.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

I know. It seemed like an eternity since an album I wanted to hear came out. I'm thinking I'll pick up Cat Power & Times New Viking this week. I think there's a new KRS-ONE also, that I may look into.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/prefix/no-user-pic.gif noise redux

Times New Viking record is noisy as hell, but totally sweet.

Jeff K.

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