The Weather Station
This one opens with a soft stunner in The Way It Is, The Way It Should Be. It's the sort of song that makes you realize that you got your money's worth just one song into the listen. Other reviews will glow about the intimacy of the lyrics and soft guitar strumming. We're good with all that, it is a beautiful album after all. But we'll just queue up this album opener when we need that special song that only we know about ... until some motion picture music director discovers it and puts it in their movie to accompany the emotional ending. (May '15)
Laura Marling
Short Movie
We love the song Howl on this album. A softly picked electric with some breathy singing over it. That works. The rest of the songs, while beautifully song, played and recorded, didn't connect so much. (Mar '15)
The Helio Sequence
The Helio Sequence
A solid sundrenched psychedelia album that combines does a nice job combining electronics and traditional instruments in a modern feel. A lot of good songs here, but none that really stand out as heads and shoulders above the others. (May '15)
Jenny Hval
Apocalypse, Girl
Experimental and critically aclaimed will often lead to music that will clear out a room at a party. But sometimes experimental music reaches moments of sublime that can't be achieved with more conventional arrangements. This has been the case with some of Hval's previous tunes (The Seer comes to mind). In this case though, not so much. That said, this may be Hval's most accessable album to date and her piercing voice, one that is not afraid to hit minor notes, still prevails providing for some moments where we get answers to the question "what would happen if Jenny Hval made a standard pop song?". (June '15)
Jane Weaver
The Silver Globe
Jane Weaver casts off the woodsy, forest folk, folksy vibe of her last album and dons a silver jet-age suit for some space rock ... and she succeeds brilliantly. The only small complaint we might have is that some of the songs drone on a little too long. Considering you're more likely to be playing this disc on a lenthy car ride rather than during a listening party, that's probably just fine. We also love that even on a space-age album like this, Weaver can still close with some otherworldly beautiful singing on Your Time In This Life Is Just Temporary. While we're throwing out accolades of the under appreaciated Jane Weaver, let us also acknowledge The Quietus for the nice job they've done on recognizing the brillance of this artist and giving her some good press. (Nov '14)
Cult of Youth
Final Days
We noticed a trend around here recently. A lot of the bands we like came from the Sacred Bones label. We decided to start looking at their catalog in more detail and came across Cult of Youth. A singer that you'd expect in death metal band, tribal drum banging like you'd see in a hippy drum circle, and a sort of classic indie rock jangly + acoustic guitars backing. What the hell are we listening to? Do we like it? Another unique, only on Sacred Bones band and yeah, damn straight, we do like it. (Nov '14)
Lily & Madeleine
We've often been accused of liking the "slit your wrists" type of music. Well we may have just found the pinnacle of that style song, in the midst of a pop girl sister act no less. Blue Blades, the close of Lily & Madeleine's second full length is a slow, moody, atmospheric song full of contemplation and as enveloping as the underwater scenes in which the music video was shot in. You just may slit your wrists as you fire up the music video, except you can't take your eyes off the two teenage girls singing the song. Bonus - the rest of the album contains some solid girl-girl harmony pop songs. Consider them pick me ups after you're done with Blue Blades. (Oct '14)
Maggie Bjorklund
Danish chica rocking out some outstanding Americana ... perhaps some of that playing in the background band for Jack White has helped. (Oct '14)
Soular Power
Some solid hip hop and jazz blend inspired by San Francisco and Tokyo from young Shimo. (Oct '14)
Purfume Genius
Too Bright
We like Purfume Genius' first couple of discs, we love that he's getting his wings under him now and branching out into more accessable songs - e.g., Queen is a standout. (Sept '14)
Jenny Hval & Susanna
Meshes of Voice
We're giving this a great rating not because the whole album is a great listen. We're rating it high because if you are an adventurous listener that likes intense, moving music, you need to buy I Have Walked This Body. This song travels from the mellowness of a soprano singing a church solo to an agressive rager that would make Fugazi look like an AM Pop band ... in the course of one song. One of the most beautiful, powerful songs we've ever heard. Your friends will hate it! p.s. download A Sudden Swing too. (Aug '14)
Robyn Hitchcock
The Man Upstairs
Solid Robyn Hitchcock disc. (Sept '14)
Jack White
Another solid album from Jack White. Boy, there's a shock. (June '14)
Lana Del Rey
Meshes of Voice
Sometimes even we will buy music from popular artists that have sold millions of albums ... but only when it's a really good release. This one is. Which leaves us perplexed. What are those millions of people who have bought this disc listening to when they aren't listening to this? It's not like there are a lot of other top 10 artists making, dreary, reverb drenched slit your wrist songs. (June '14)
Owen Pallett
In Conflict
Not your everyday indie rock. The Passions is the highlight for a end of the evening nightcap. (May '14)
The Lake Poets
Honest Hearts
Nice moody, Antony and the Johnsonsesqe (but without the dreery voice) music from this little-known English act. We caught wind of them because they were playing in a London club when we happened to be in town. (June '14)
The Black Keys
Turn Blue
We'll let other folks right the reviews on this one - there will be enough of them. Suffice it to say, this is a good release and will no doubt be adorning your favorite playlist soon if not already. (May '14)
The Landing
We Are
We like well done electro pop. This is well done electro pop. (May '14)
The Apache Relay
Apache Relay
What a great discovery. We heard about them when they were announced for the 2014 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. We were pleasantly surprised. Solid album of well-crafted americana pop songs. Valley of Fevers is a big highlight on this disc. Just imagine yourself barefoot on the grasses of speedway meadow, spinning around and 'round and 'round, arms and hair flung out sideways from the centrifugal force, smile on your face as it's tilted backwards to face the warm yellow afternoon sun. That gives you a pretty good idea of what this song is all about. (Apr '14)
Damon Albarn
Everyday Robots
Finally! Don't get us wrong, we enjoyed Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad and the Queen and Albarn's other side projects. But we knew the dude who turned out the pure genius of "13", Blur's moody, introspective 1999 release, had more in him. We weren't wrong. This album was worth the wait. The fact that it is probably best suited for playing start to finish at a low volume during a lazy afternoon nap... implying that Albarn's musical growth is in lock step with our own ... is a minor miracle. Especially when you consider the regurgitated garbage that other, more commercially successful old rockers are putting out. (Apr '14)
Dean Wareham
Dean Wareham
In a year that has us digging the musical growth in new releases from old musicians (BJM, Albarn), we are also loving the same-old, same-old from others. The tracks on Dean Wareham's new album sound like they can be pulled right off of 1992's Lunapark album ... and that's a good thing. Don't believe us, go back and spin some early Luna again. What a timeless band. (Mar '14)
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Our favorite band at the turn of the century comes out with (or, at least Anton comes out with) a new release so we have to pick it up and spin it. We love that Anton is still creating music. We love that that he is still growing and experimenting with this music while keeping an some of the jangly psychedelic guitars around to be called for from time to time. We just can't though, however much we wish we could, go back to who we were in the late 90s and early 00s when BJM was the best band on the planet in our eyes. (May '14)
Broken Bells
After The Disco
We loved Broken Bells' debut release in 2010. We loved it back then and still now. Outside of a couple of tunes on this one (Lazy Wonderland, The Angel and the Fool), we are not so crazy about this release though. The formula seems to be the same, as is the personnel. Perhaps expectations were too high the second time around or similar sorts, but better, releases came out around the same time (e.g., The Black Keys, Damien Jurado)? (Feb '14)
Bombay Bicycle Club
So Long, See You Tomorrrow
The song So Long, See You Tomorrrow is a treat and is on our high rotation. A unique song that can combine chill and dance/drums and bass grooves all in one song. We were looking at initial listen. The rest of the album? We weren't quite as hooked at initial listen ... not necessarily because there weren't good songs, just not different songs. (Feb '14)
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
Piano Nights
Lonely late nights at creepy, poorly light, underground jazz club. Too depresssed to sleep, you re-light the candle on your table-for-one and order another a burbon to numb yourself until daylight. (Jan '14)
Courtney Barnett
The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas
We love the deadpan, slightly off beat musings of Barnett as she barks her lyrics over her jangly guitars and tap tap drumming. Especially on the song Avant Gardener ... "the paramedic thinks I'm clever because I play guitar, I think she's clever because she stops people dying". We're not sticklers about lyrics around here. They don't make or break our experience. Give us a good mood and we don't care what your lyrics are or what language you're singing in (see: Sigur Ros). But we find ourselves trying to squeeze a little extra entertainment value out of following along with the lyrics on this one. (Feb '14)
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
Piano Nights
Lonely late nights at creepy, poorly light, underground jazz club. Too depresssed to sleep, you re-light the candle on your table-for-one and order another a burbon to numb yourself until daylight. (Jan '14)
Damien Jurado
Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
Solid indie rock release. Even Terry Gross from Fresh Air likes them. (Jan '14)
John Grant
Pale Green Ghosts
Just fucking wow. Take a listen GMF and you'll know immediately if you'd like this one. We love it and are listening to this song about 5 or 6 times a day it's that good. Spirtual, uplifting, mysterious, dark, foreboding, elegant with some great lyrics to boot ("Half of the time I think I'm in some movie, I play the underdog of course; I wonder who they'll get to play me, maybe they could dig up Richard Burton's corpse"). All the odd number songs (and song 10) on this disc are musts. (May '13)
Beth Jeans Houghton & the Hooves of Destiny
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
Orchestrated, big, expansive ... we're tempted to file this one under our show-tunes genre folder. Guess we shouldn't have expected otherwise from another strong female lead act on the same label as Goldfrapp. (Feb '12)
Inner Classics
Thinking you got your normal girl sings indie pop record here until you hear the first tune (Pray for Surf) and you realize there's something a little deeper with this one. (Aug '12).
Beth Jeans Houghton & the Hooves of Destiny
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
Orchestrated, big, expansive ... we're tempted to file this one under our show-tunes genre folder. Guess we shouldn't have expected otherwise from another strong female lead act on the same label as Goldfrapp. (Feb '12)
Bhi Bhiman
Solid! Lyrical wit crooned out against a playful country tinged background makes this one live up perfectly to the expectations set by the cover art. "what chew talking 'bout business trips, you work at the mall." (Jan '12).
The White Buffalo
Once Upon A Time in the West
The big guy is getting big in SF: We saw him play to ~90 people @ Hotel Utah in March, to ~350 @ Cafe du Nord 3 months later in July, then to tens of thousands @ Hardly Strictly in Oct. His show is killer. Looks like word of that spread quickly in SF. (Feb '12)
Case Studies
The World Is Just A Shape To Fill The Night
Sparse, baritoney singer songwriter sings against multi-girl harmonies in our favorite record of the year. (Aug '11)
Nice jangly, reverb drenched guy/girl pychedelic twee folk. Reminder us of early Essex Green. (Nov '11)
Perfume Genius
Beautiful, slow, haunting songs as one guy struggles with his sexuality in front of a mic and piano. (June '10)
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins
Diamond Mine
Lovely, lonely, slow Scottish seaside story and soundscapes. Stellar. (May '11)
The White Buffalo
Hogtied Revisited
Big guy with big voice belting out some country ballads, shitkickers, and even a little yodeling. Great album. (Mar '09)
Jane Weaver
The Fallen by Watch Bird
Beautiful lifting, droning pychedelic folk concept album. (May '10)