Feature ·

[March 18, 2008] Heading to the record store? Here's what's new.

This week: Dan Bejar gets back to Destroyer, a legendary indie guitarist gets behind the kit (again), and the line between music and film gets even blurrier. [more:]

Joseph Arthur
Could We Survive
Lonely Astronaut
Joseph Arthur’s prolific prowess is nearing legendary status. Could We Survive is only the first of five releases Arthur has planned for 2008. Fans can expect the EP Crazy Rain in April, two more EPs in May and June, and finally the full-length All You Need Is Nothing in August. All will be handled by Arthur’s own imprint, Lonely Astronaut. The six-song Could We Survive opens with “Rages of Babylon,” which is most likely about the Iraq war, and ends with “King of Pavement,” which is most likely not about Stephen Malkmus. ~John Zeiss

Artist: http://www.josepharthur.com
Label: http://www.lonelyastronautrecords.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/josepharthur

Be Your Own Pet
Get Awkward
Ecstatic Peace!
Album number two for young, brash punk band Be Your Own Pet doesn’t find the group growing up much. Which is perfectly fine. If Be Your Own Pet can find the fountain of youth that allows them to keep kicking out the fast and furious jams until kingdom come, all the better. Adolescence-obsessed tunes on Get Awkward include “Food Fight!,” “What’s Your Damage?,” and “Bummer Time.” Lead screamer Jemina Pearl recorded her vocals for “Super Soaked” on her twentieth birthday, and on the song she laments growing older. The album features new drummer John Eatherly. Like the band’s 2006 self-titled debut, Get Awkward was produced by Steve McDonald of Redd Kross. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://beyourownpet.net/site
Label: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com 
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/beyourownpetmusic

Big Dipper

Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology


The recent reunion of the Pixies was a two-fold blessing. The first was obviously for the stans. The second was for Massachusetts, or more specifically Boston in the '80s. A hub of indie-rock activity, the region played home to many influential bands of the decade, such as the Throwing Muses and Mission of Burma (see below), as well as several underappreciated groups, particularly Big Dipper. As Tom Scharpling of WFMU's The Best Show writes, the band was a group of alums from other noted Boston bands like Dumptruck and Volcano Suns. Sadly, the group's output, most of which was independent, came and went out of print, so Big Dipper's legacy remained alive within a tight circle. That all changes today with Supercluster, which collects all of the group's non-major-label output -- including the debut EP Boo Boo and first two full-lengths, Heavens and Craps -- as well as bonus tracks, a video and the unreleased swan song Very Loud Array. Three CDs of essential music for a ridiculously low price. ~Dan Nishimoto



Band: http://www.myspace.com/bigdipperband

Label: http://www.mergerecords.com

Sera Cahoone
Only as the Day Is Long
Sub Pop
Seattle sad-core band Carissa’s Wierd has been defunct for a while, but for Sub Pop, the broken-up band is the gift that keeps on giving. Out of Carissa’s Wierd’s ashes has arisen the Sub Pop acts Band of Horses, Grand Archives, and now Sera Cahoone. Cahoone drummed for Carissa’s Wierd and was also behind the kit for the recording of Band of Horses’s Everything All the Time and has worked with L.A.-based singer-songwriter Patrick Park. Only as the Day Is Long is the follow-up to Cahoone’s 2006 eponymous self-released debut. Cahoone here shuffles through ten tracks of countrified folk that sound not unlike Cat Power. ~John Zeiss

Artist: http://www.seracahoone.com
Label: http://www.subpop.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/seracahoone

The Chapin Sisters
Lake Bottom
The singer-songwriter/folk vibe that so dominated Los Angeles in the early ‘70s can be heard echoing today through acts like Lavender Diamond, Winter Flowers, and the Chapin Sisters. Unlike some other bands with faux family names, the three ladies here are actual sisters: Abigail and Lily Chapin are the daughters of singer-songwriter Tom Chapin, and Jessica Craven is their half-sister whose father is horror director Wes Craven. Perhaps that explains why the band has a bit of a morbid side. The Sisters list the Manson Family as an influence, and Lake Bottom’s most jarringly emotional song is the breakup-as-end-all “Kill Me Now.” But the band also shows flashes of humor, on songs like “Girlfriend.” This debut full-length was produced by Thom Monahan, a “freak-folk” scene mainstay who has worked with Devendra Banhart and Vetiver, and Mike Daly, who’s produced work for Whiskeytown and Grace Potter. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.thechapinsisters.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/thechapinsisters

Trouble in Dreams
With Trouble in Dreams, Dan Bejar returns to focusing on his main musical project after devoting time to Swan Lake, the New Pornographers and Hello Blue Roses (with gal pal Sydney Vermont). Keeping with that last group’s floral theme, Trouble in Dreams opens with “Blue Flower/Blue Flame,” then continues on through ten more literate tunes carried by Bejar’s quirky voice. Some rock out, like “Dark Leaves Form a Thread,” and others keep to a mellower singer-songwriter vibe, like “Foam Hands.” ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/destroyer
Label (with album stream): http://www.mergerecords.com

A Mad and Faithful Telling

What Juno did for Kimya Dawson last year, Little Miss Sunshine did for gypsy-rock band DeVotchKa in 2006. The band supplied most of the music for that funny little film. So DeVotchKa should see its fan base enlarged for this, the band’s first album for Anti-. Mad is also DeVotchKa’s first album of original material since 2004’s How It Ends, after 2006’s Curse Your Little Heart was a mostly covers affair. Expect plenty of tuba oom-pah-pahs, violin flourishes, accordion sways, and impassioned vocals. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.devotchka.net
Label: http://www.anti.com  
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/devotchkamusic

The Dodos
The birds known as dodos may be long gone, but the band the Dodos lives on. The duo consists of Logan Kroeber on the drums and Meric Long on guitar and vocals. Long used to gig simply as Dodobird before going plural with Kroeber. The band hails from San Francisco, and plays the type of psych-folk so prevalent in the Bay Area for so long. Visiter (misspelling courtesy of a child who gave the band a drawing with the name on it) is the Dodos’ second full-length and first for Frenchkiss. ~John Zeiss 

Band: http://www.dodosmusic.net
Label: http://www.frenchkissrecords.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/mericlong

Adam Green
Sixes and Sevens
Beggars/Rough Trade
The success of Juno gave a jolt to the careers of quite a few people: Ellen Page, Diablo Cody, Kimya Dawson, and even Adam Green. Dawson might have had more of her own material on the soundtrack, but the inclusion of “Anyone Else but You” got the Moldy Peaches, and thereby Green’s name, back on buzzing lips. Green hopes to capitalize on that with his new solo album, Sixes and Sevens. (Green must not be familiar with Sebadoh member Jason Lowenstein’s 2002 solo album, At Sixes and Sevens, or he surely would have picked a more original title.) Many of the songs on the twenty-track album reportedly take inspiration from some time Green spent recently in Nashville. ~John Zeiss

Artist: http://www.adamgreen.net
Label: http://www.beggarsgroupusa.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/adamgreen1

The Kills
Midnight Boom

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl form band. Rocking out ensues. It’s an age-old story, one that’s been repeated yet again with the Kills, a band you shouldn’t confuse with the wussier Killers or other guy/girl duos who rock a reverb-drenched sound, like the Raveonettes. Added to that droning sound on Midnight Boom, the follow-up to 2005’s No Wow, is some beatsmithery provided by Armani XXXchange, who also works with Spank Rock. Jamie “Hotel” Hince and Alison “VV” Mosshart must have a thing for period-punctuated song titles, as tunes on Midnight Boom include “U.R.A. Fever” and “M.E.X.I.C.O.C.U.” ~John Zeiss


Band: http://www.thekills.tv
Label: http://www.dominorecordco.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/thekills

Lyrics Born

Everywhere at Once


The evolution of Solesides Records continues to defy expectations. What began as a collective of music-obsessed dreamers has expanded into a model for independent longevity. Especially surprising has been Lyrics Born. Whereas white producers and black emcees long preceded DJ Shadow and Gift of Gab, the half-Japanese emcee and producer had the least amount of precedent to ease his entry into hip-hop. Yet, he has staked a position -- and one based on numerous identities, to boot: as an American of mixed ethnicity; as an emcee with a highly literate, polysyllabic and rapid-fire flow; and as a hip-hop artist that can embrace live musicianship. On his appropriately titled Everywhere at Once, Lyrics Born searches for the common ground between all these overlapping, sometimes synchronous, sometimes conflicting identities. ~Dan Nishimoto



Artist: http://www.lyricsborn.com


Label: http://www.solesides.com

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/lyricsborn


Mission of Burma
Signals, Calls, and Marches; Vs.; The Horrible Truth About Burma [reissues]
Matador has hosted Mission of Burma’s two recent reunion albums, 2004’s OnOffOn and 2006’s The Obliterati. Now the label is reissuing the seminal indie-rock band’s entire catalog from its heyday on Ace of Hearts Records. All three reissues come with copious extras: bonus tracks, DVDs of vintage live footage, booklets with band interviews. It all adds up to some must-haves for indie completists. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.missionofburma.com
Label: http://www.matadorrecords.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/missionofburma

Neon Neon
Stainless Style

Neon Neon is a musical collaboration between electronic artist Boom Bip and Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals. The duo’s debut, Stainless Style, has been long in gestation, with the two working on it in London and Los Angeles amid all the other projects they’re involved in. Stainless Style is a concept album loosely based on the life of John DeLorean, who designed the car baring his name made famous in the Back to the Future movies. (DeLorean later went through a mess of legal problems before, as these stories often go, becoming a born-again Christian.) The album features guest spots from Spank Rock, Yo Majesty, Har Mar Superstar, Fatlip, the Magic Numbers, and Cate Le Bon. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/neonx2
Label: http://www.lexrecords.com
“I Lust U” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNQsajC8Zcs

Retribution Gospel Choir
Retribution Gospel Choir
Caldo Verde
Retribution Gospel Choir has been hailed as Alan Sparhawk’s big rawk move away from the hushed sounds of his main band, Low. But the two acts really aren’t all that different. Sparhawk already started cranking things up a bit with Low’s 2005 album, The Great Destroyer. Matt Livingston manned the bass on this debut Retribution Gospel Choir full-length (as he did in Low until very recently), and even Sparhawk’s wife and longtime Low bandmate Mimi Parker shows up to lend her lush, beautiful harmonies. An amped-up version of “Breaker,” from last year’s Low glitch-pop diversion Drums and Guns, shows up here, and other songs like “Destroyer,” “Holes in Our Heads,” and “For Her Blood” keep to the violent theme. The album was produced by singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, who runs Caldo Verde. ~John Zeiss

Label: http://www.caldoverderecords.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/retributiongospelchoir

She & Him
Volume One
The “She” of She & Him is actress Zooey Deschanel, who has previously showed off her singing talents in films like Elf and the occasional music and comedy revue in Los Angeles. The “Him” is M. Ward, old-timey troubadour and Conor Oberst bud. The album was recorded in Ward’s Portland studio with Mike Mogis producing, DeVotchKa’s Tom Hagerman on violin, and Norfolk & Western’s Rachel Blumberg on drums. Deschanel’s original songs are joined by covers of the Beatles’s “I Should’ve Known Better” and the Miracles’ “You Really Got a Hold on Me.” ~John Zeiss
Band: http://www.myspace.com/sheandhim
Label (with album stream): http://www.mergerecords.com
“Why do You Let Me Stay Here?” MP3: http://www.mergerecords.com/audio/shehim/whystayhere.mp3

Tall Firs
Too Old to Die Young
Ecstatic Peace!
Too Old to Die Young is full-length number two for Tall Firs. It finds original band members Aaron Mullan and Dave Mies joined by the new addition of drummer Ryan Sawyer. The band plays a slower, softer brand of rock than other louder acts on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label (see this week’s new one from Be Your Own Pet). The nine-track album ends with Holly Miranda of Jealous Girlfriends joining Mies on “Secrets and Lies.” ~John Zeiss 

Band: http://www.tallfirs.org
Label: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/tallfirs
“Hairdo” MP3: http://www.ecstaticpeace.com/kits/mp3/hairdo.mp3

These New Puritans
Beat Pyramid

As always seems to be the case, the British rock scene is brimming with young talent. These New Puritans is a band consisting of three guys and one girl, none of whom are out of their teenage years. Beat Pyramid is the band’s debut full-length after some earlier EPs and singles. It was produced by Gareth Jones, who has worked with Wire, Liars, and Einsturzende Neubaten. As the name-dropping of those three bands might suggest, the songs here toe the hip, post-punk/dance-rock line. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.thesenewpuritans.com
Label: http://www.dominorecordco.com
Audio: http://www.myspace.com/thesenewpuritans

Tee Pee

What do you get when you take an indie-rock guitar god and relegate him to the drum kit? You get Witch, which features J. Mascis on the skins. He’s joined in Witch by his longtime friend Dave Sweetapple and two members of the band Feathers, Asa Irons and Kyle Thomas. Is the band heavy, you ask? Are you familiar with Mascis’s oeuvre? This is Witch’s sophomore full-length after the band’s 2006 self-titled debut. ~John Zeiss

Band: http://www.myspace.com/witchofficial
Label: http://teepeerecords.com
Boris - Boris: Interview Week in Preview [March 25, 2008] Heading to the record store? Here's what's new.
Week in Preview

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