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  • Citay Little Kingdom
    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Bad things first: the formula's exactly the same for nearly every song on Citay's second album, Little Kingdom. Heck, I'd even venture to say that about 85% of the record sounds the same. They're all psych-rock/folk numbers, with swirling guitars, synths straight out of prog-rock circa 1976, Moogs from outer space, strumming acoustic guitars, and men and women harmonizing over big, epic rock numbers. In short, shit could get old, man.

    But it doesn't. While the song might remain the same, when it's of a quality, does it really matter? In Citay's case, no, it does not. Ezra Feinberg and Tim Green did something rather astute: they've created a few basic circular melodies and they've crafted an album's worth of songs around them. As convoluted and high-falootin' as that might sound, it's true; when you listen to "Former Child," you'll hear that the melody seems to float around in a circular method; listen carefully, and you'll hear notes and melodies start to repeat themselves. Repetitive motion could be monotonous, but Green and Feinberg have enhanced these patterns with wonderful things: the wonderful electric guitar solo on the aforementioned "Former Child," the wonderful synth patterns on "A Riot of Color," and the utterly dreamy singing on the title track. The result? Something heady, something mesmerizing, and something that will leave you thinking, "Didn't I just hear that song?" Or, as I discovered, "Wait, that sound wasn't in there the first time I heard it!"

    At the end of the day, you really shouldn't overanalyze Little Kingdom. I know I found it bit difficult to think of what to say about this record, because it puzzled and confounded me. I was too caught up in thinking, "These songs are all the same!" When I stopped thinking too hard about trying to find the right words to describe it and I simply listened to it, I discovered that that's what you're supposed to do here: shut up and listen. Slap on some damn headphones, while you're at it: it'll blow yer mind!

    Listen To: "First Fantasy"

    Little Kingdom is available now on Dead Oceans

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 12:16 PM   0 comments
    VCV 3753 Cruithne/Brian Grainger Eight Thousander
    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    I recently bought the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Strange, really, that I'd not considered doing so until recently, because it's one of my favorite films of all time. Every time I watch it--and I do so a lot, mind you--it still leaves me a bit puzzled, if not pensive. But Kubrick's decision to make the soundtrack a mixture of modern composers and classical compositions proved quite astute. Hell, I'll even be honest enough to say that the soundtrack scares me a bit.

    I bring this up simply because I'm hearing a lot of that soundtrack on VCV’s 3753 Cruithne. The work of Brian Grainger and David Tagg, these nine compositions are deep, heavy, and dark; they embody space, literally. The songs are slow, brooding, and about as vast and meandering as outer space. Like the 2001 soundtrack, these songs haunt you as they wonderfully soundtrack a disturbing journey to Jupiter. In fact, I made a playlist containing a few of these songs and a few of Grygori Ligeti's compositions, and I never noticed when one switched to the other. When I shared a song with a friend of mine, he said, "Oh, by the way, I just sold some Stars of the Lid records on eBay." Yes, VCV follow in SOTL's footsteps, too; unlike other drone artists who have imitated the Texas duo, the duo of VCV seem to understand "understated" in the same way.

    3753 Cruithne is an excellent debut. I don't know if VCV is a one-off; let us hope not. If it is, then let us praise it as a harbinger of greater things to come.

    If you want more, though, Brian Grainger has also released a solo record. Entitled Eight Thousander, the album contains songs not unlike VCV's epic, calm space rock, but Grainger also explores more terrestrial sounds, and he incorporates piano throughout, producing gentle sounds that remind me of Harold Budd. It's beautiful and not as ominous as VCV's style, and it is a relaxing instrumental trip.

    Listen To: VCV--"229133 Vargas"
    Listen To: Brian Grainger--"Wind Calmly Bends Our Hair "

    VCV’s 3753 Cruithne and Brian Grainger's Eight Thousander are both available now on Attack9

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 1:21 PM   0 comments
    The Hussy's
    Monday, November 26, 2007

    I am not the only person annoyed by incorrect apostrophe usage, and I have a feeling I'm not the only one annoyed by the nomenclature behind Scottish band The Hussy's. When it comes to their mini-album We Expected, I am quick to forgive them of that annoyance; grammatical peeve aside, everything else about the record is utterly perfect. It's easy to see why their previous releases--which this Japanese collection compiles--have earned them critical raves.

    Where, then, to begin? Lead singer Fili sounds a lot like the Cardigans' Nina Persson, and her backing band possesses the utterly rare ability to replicate every righteous element of every good British band for the past two decades--but they turn every melody, every note, and every idea into something quite original. It's hard not to be won over by the wonderfully crunchy guitars of the title track, and the jingle-jangle one-two power-pop punch of "Please Don't Call Me At Home" and "Napoleon Dynamite" only seals my instant love and obsession. They also do mellow and downbeat, as heard on "Friends Re-United" and "Sunday Morning." The one song, though, that has me hitting the repeat button over and over and over is "Tiger," a song in heavy consideration for the most addictive song of 2007. That the song is two years old is no matter.

    It might take a bit of a search to find their record, but We Expected is a record well worth the search. Though 2007 is coming to a close, it's really not unrealistic to say that 2008 very well could be The Hussy's year.

    Listen To: "Tiger"

    The Hussy's EP, We Expected, is out now on Quince Records

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 12:46 PM   1 comments
    Lights Out Asia Tanks and Recognizers
    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Well, if I were the type to devise genres, I would unhesitatingly describe Tanks and Recognizers, the latest album by Lights Out Asia, as "Sleep Rock." Lights Out Asia has effortlessly crossed the genre borderline, as their sound combines rock, ambient, experimental, electronica, and, um, new age, in a way that sounds completely natural and convincing. I would use the term sparingly, though, because I would not want to imply that their music is boring, for their melodies are most assuredly not boring. Instead, their sound is big, but it’s never terribly baroque; it’s large, but it never overpowers you. Sure, some of the songs go on for a bit, but, again, it never seems monotonous. I’m reminded of Brian Eno, Robin Guthrie, and occasionally Sigur Ros, but never to the point where what they do feels derivative. Their sound, though big, will assuredly ease your weary soul to a place of sleepy snoozy slumber—and, really, what’s wrong with that?

    Listen To: "Roy"

    Tanks and Recognizers is available now on n5md

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 2:11 PM   0 comments
    The Bird and The Bee Please Clap Your Hands
    Monday, November 19, 2007

    The Bird and The Bee close out 2007 in the same way they started it--by releasing a wonderful little record. They released their debut LP in January, and now they've followed it up with a wonderful five-song EP, Please Clap Your Hands. These songs are very much of a piece with the debut, but as the band has always fared better in short bursts, this record is extremely concise. Inara George voice is soft, sweet, and never precious or twee; indeed, hers is one of the few truly pure pop voices. "Polite Dance Song" is one of the funniest songs I've heard all year, too; she's obviously placed tongue deeply in cheek, but her singing style makes her sound entirely earnest. "Man" and "So You Say" are two upbeat numbers that remind me of April March. The record's only weak spot is a cover of "How Deep Is Your Love." George sings it over a minimal, ambient accompaniment, and while this version is enjoyable it feels weak without the harmonies, and after the first time I heard it I said, "Gee, if they want to be the Captain & Tennille of the twenty-first century, then mission accomplished!" Still, it's not a terrible song, and it doesn't really ruin the beauty of the other songs. Overall, though, this EP is simply ace!

    Listen To: "Polite Dance Song"

    Please Clap Your Hands is available now on Blue Note

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 12:15 PM   0 comments
    The Brother Kite Moonlight Race EP
    Tuesday, November 6, 2007
    Last year, I proclaimed The Brother Kite's Waiting for the Time to be Right one of the best records of the year, and I have to say that the record still strikes me in the same magical way it did when I first heard it. So I recommend it as highly as I did back then. The band's latest release, Moonlight Race, is ostensibly a single for the album song "Get On, Me." It's definitely a wonderful choice for a single; it's a medium-paced rocker with a slightly spaced-out vibe that is the perfect song for cruising down the interstate.

    The B-sides, though, are a different story. Two of them are different versions of album tracks, one is a live version, and two are unreleased. "Hopeless and Unsung" is an acoustic ballad version, and though it's pleasant, it doesn't really compare to the full band version. "Unearthed/Digging In The Dirt" is a brief instrumental--very dark and ominous. "Half Century," another unreleased number, is jaunty and fast-paced; it's rougher than Waiting, but it's every bit as catchy as that record. It reminds me of early Weezer. "Never in Years" is a live recording from a radio broadcast, and captures the band without the studio sheen. It also reveals that the band is more than studio polish and obsessively produced songs.

    Moonlight Race's real reward is the final song, "Waiting for the Time To Be Right." On the album, it's sonically similar to "Get On, Me," but the version here removes most of the instrumental accompaniment, leaving only harmonies, harmonium, and a beautifully plucked bass. In so doing, this song reveals just how indebted to Pet Sounds their music is. It's a wonderful song, but it also makes me thankful that the band didn't overwhelm Waiting with arrangements like this; after all, do we really need another Beach Boys rehash?

    Listen To: "Get On, Me"

    The Brother Kite's Moonlight Race EP is available now on Clairecords

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 5:35 PM   0 comments
    Just a friendly note
    Monday, November 5, 2007
    I am currently recovering from surgery, but I just wanted to let you know that regular posting will (hopefully) resume later this week. THanks for reading!
    posted by joseph kyle @ 10:16 AM   0 comments
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