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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Moods - Self-Loathing

For the most part, I like myself.  I'm a pretty decent person with a pretty decent future, and I write a pretty decent blog about music.  Who couldn't like that?  Unfortunately folks, there's a side of me that I just can't stand: my musical tastes in the past.  The following playlist is not only a playlist of songs that I used to like, or that I used to own, but still own.  Do I still enjoy listening to this stuff?  In a comedic way, yes.  While assembling this list, I literally cracked up several times when thinking about how bad these songs are.  "What If?" is laughably bad, while N.E.R.D. is just downright suckage - but they all have their place in my past, in my life.  I suppose if I ever needed a reason to hate myself, this would be a good place to start.



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Submitting Your Music to Audio Overflow

LAST UPDATED: July 6, 2008

Hey there! My name is Cale, and I am the creator and Editor in Chief of Audio Overflow. That's a fancy way of saying that I started this blog and run the day to day operations. I appreciate your interest in the site, and I would hope that we share the same goal of getting quality music into the ears of people who may not have heard it otherwise. Below you'll find Audio Overflow's policy on music submission. Please read it over and decide whether or not you feel Audio Overflow can be of service to you.

Submission Policy

At Audio Overflow, we try to be as helpful to artists and labels as we can. As such, we offer a variety of services to ensure that your music can be discovered by our readers.

Formal Review - As a general rule, we only offer formal reviews on music contained on a physical medium (CDs, Vinyl, etc.). We do not accept CD-Rs, as all submitted music must be professionally pressed and freely available for our readers to purchase and/or obtain from an online or "brick and mortar" retailer. Out of appreciation, Audio Overflow has reviewed every CD sent to us so far (minus a few that are coming soon), and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Please alert us via email when you send us a CD for review, so that we may contact you if there are any problems. As of July 6, 2008, CDs will only be reviewed if they have been preceded by an email. For an example of a Formal Review, click HERE.

myspace music monday - Every Monday, Audio Overflow casually reviews the songs from an independent artist's myspace page. This is a great way for unsigned or up-and-coming artists to expand their listener base, and for our readers to discover new music. If you do not have professionally-made CDs to send Audio Overflow, I highly recommend that you get in touch with us to see if we can spotlight your music. In the past, artists have found this feature helpful in determining what works with their music and what doesn't. Due to the sheer magnitude of artists on myspace, we can't guarantee that your music will wind up being featured on Audio Overflow, but we will try our best to do so. To get started, send us an email, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. For an example of a myspace music monday entry, click HERE.

MP3 Submissions - We are currently in the process of finding a host for audio files so that we can freely distribute them through Audio Overflow. In the coming months, we will begin hosting free, legal MP3s for our listeners to download. We really do need your help in this endeavor. If you have MP3s that you'd like our listeners to hear, please send them to us in an email as a link or an attachment. They will be featured on our site as soon as we get hosting worked out.


Contact Information

Email: audiooverflow@gmail.com

Mailing Address:

Audio Overflow
Cale Reneau
900 Chateau Woods Parkway Dr.
Conroe, TX 77385


Again, we ask that you always contact us by email before sending a package our way so that we may inform you of any problems. If you have any questions, we'd be happy to answer them. Just send us an email, and we'll get back to you.

Thanks again, for your interest in Audio Overflow. We look forward to hearing you (Get it? 'Cause we'll be listening to your music! You won't get comedic gems like that at other sites. That much I can guarantee.).

--Cale

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Video of the Week - Week 69

Ladies and gentlemen, I'll only get one chance, just one chance to post some seedy, inappropriate video for Video of the Week - Week 69.  But I'm going to rise above that and just post the first single to one of my most anticipated albums of 2008.  It may not be as exhilarating, but it'll do (pig).




"I Will Possess Your Heart" by Death Cab for Cutie, from the upcoming album, Narrow Stairs.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reviews - 100 Words or Less

While writing one review a week may seem like an easy feat, the fact of the matter is that it can sometimes get a little tough. Sometimes I want to review an album, but other albums take priority. Other times, the album is just so average that it's hard for me to devote any amount of time to it - especially when there's something better waiting in the wings. What follows are a couple of mini-reviews that are past-due. If you've been waiting in eager anticipation, fret no more. The time has come!

--------------------------

Del the Funky Homosapien: Eleventh Hour - To me, Del is one of the most skilled rappers of all time. While other rappers are worried about image and style, Del is rapping about video games or personal hygiene. His latest album, unfortunately doesn’t live up to expectations. There is still great emphasis place on humor and unconventional topics, but these rhymes are nothing extraordinary and the beats, while quality, aren’t interacted with. It just sounds like two tracks, each without regard for the other. Del can definitely do better, but this late into his career, I have doubts about whether he’ll ever get another chance to impress.

Key Tracks:
1. "Raw Sewage"
2. "Slam Dunk"
3. "Foot Down"
4. "Str8t Up and Down"

5 out of 10 Stars
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound
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Destroyer: Trouble in Dreams - Dan Bejar’s latest album as “Destroyer” is one of his most peculiar, which for him is actually more familiar than anything else. It starts off strong with the eloquence of “Blue Flower/Blue Flame” and the energy of “Dark Leaves from a Thread” but eventually wears thin with songs that go on for much too long, and are often quite repetitive. Bejar’s unique style may not bode well for first time listeners, but long time fans will undoubtedly find a lot to enjoy here. It’s talent is inarguable. It’s longevity...well.

Key Tracks:
1. "Blue Flower/Blue Flame"
2. "Dark Leaves from a Thread"
3. "The State"
4. "Introducing Angels"
5. "Plaza Trinidad"

6 out of 10 Stars
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound
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The Dodos: Visiter - This review never came around simply because by the time I finally heard it, it had already been out for weeks. This is my first time hearing The Dodos, and I’m really impressed. Their music is some strange mix between Animal Collective and Belle and Sebastian, and the end result is actually fairly entertaining. The fact that it’s just two guys making music as deep and enjoyable as this completely blows my mind. There are a few duds on this album, but for the most part Visiter is one of the most uniquely impressive indie rock albums of 2008.

Key Tracks:
1. "Walking"
2. "Red and Purple"
3. "Paint the Rust"
4. "Jodi"
5. "Ashley"

7 out of 10 Stars
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound
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The Duke Spirit: Neptune - I was first made aware of The Duke Spirit when an email rolled through my inbox, alerting me to their new album, Neptune. I took a listen to the mp3 that was provided and got pretty excited. However, after listening to this album, and I can pretty much say that there’s not a whole lot that this band has going for them. Somewhere between U2 and powerpop, Neptune just screams of unoriginality and repetitiveness. The only thing that is really welcomed on the album is its ending. Everything else is some of the most boringly upbeat music I’ve heard.

Key Tracks:
1. "Into the Fold"
2. "This Ship Was Built to Last"
3. "Neptune's Call"

4 out of 10 Stars
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound
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I'll have a freshly written "normal" review ready for your prying eyes next Tuesday. Until then, check out the key tracks to these albums and see if there's anything that catches your interest. Then let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Word. Thanks for reading.

Does anyone else think its weird that all of these artists start with the letter "D"? Crazy.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

myspace music monday: Snow Friends

So apparently I'm in this band with this guy who has something to do with this band called "Snow Friends." What better way for me to weigh in?


Snow Friends

Location: Houston, TX
Genres: Pop/Indie
Sounds Like: A Party?

The Short of It: Not bad for a couple of guys playing around...but kinda bad.

Songs:
"Everything" - Question: what do you do if have a vocoder and a copy of Zero 9 - Pro Samples: Future Beats 1 (from Chemical Beats)? Well, you make this song, exploiting those two things the best you can. The thick, heavy synth and unrelenting drums give off a very Joy Electric vibe to me, and I totally adore the sound. But past that, what you have are some lame lyrics and annoying vocal performances (enhanced by the vocoder, but would be downright intolerable without it).

"The Night Never Ends" - The best song on the page, by far. The verse synths are amazing, while the chorus synths are a bit more obtrusive. The lyrics are cut from the same, "Baby, I want you" pie as the first song, but this one has a much stronger groove and more solid vocal melody throughout. There's this odd, out of place breakdown in the middle of the song (where else, right?) that just doesn't blend well with the rest of the song and that dissonance is heightened by the terrible "explosion" sample that brings it back into the song proper.

"Make it Snow" - Clearly the first song that these guys made, and totally hilarious. This short, Justin Timberlake-lite song is filled with such lyrical gems as,"My name is the only thing that I'ma let you scream all night / and then when I am done with you, you won't be able to sit right." Of course, that pales in comparison to hearing one of the guys say, "My ear pussy just got raped," after the song concludes. Of course, the guys are still using the vocoder, even when unnecessary (like when talking). But if ever there was a way to be completely charming while also being ridiculously crude, this song would be it.



The Long of It: Keeping in mind that the majority of Snow Friends' music is completely ridonkulous and probably not meant to be taken seriously, it ain't all bad. As long as you don't expect greatness from two guys with a vocoder, synthesizer, and drum machine (we can't all be The Postal Service, right?), you should find their music to be an interesting little diversion from your "case of the Mondays." Listen to it. Smile. Forget about it. Maybe not the most conventional choice for myspace music monday, but I could certainly do worse.

Links:
Snow Friends' myspace Page

So if you know of a myspace artist that should totally be featured on Audio Overflow, leave a comment below. I'd totally appreciate it.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekend Recommendations (4/26/08)

Cale's Recommendations

Loney, Dear: Loney, Noir
Buy from Amazon
Loney, Dear's 2007 North American debut is just as innocently affecting today as it was back then. These songs are timeless works of art, filled with his self-doubt, desperate longings, and honest confessions. I know that a lot of people never really got around to listening to this one, so I'm reminding you and encouraging you to seriously check it out. I still listen to it on a regular basis, after more than a year of solid play. For realsies.

The Cyanide Valentine: The Three Sides of the Cyanide Valentine
Download for Free!

Cursive: Happy Hollow
Buy from Amazon

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Erin's Recommedations

Dream Theater: Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
Buy from Amazon
A strange album choice for a female, I know, but really, it’s pretty interesting. It falls under the genre of “progressive metal”. While not too familiar with the genre, I can tell you that Dream Theater sounds a lot like a mix of Rush and Journey, to me. The vocals are very similar to that of Steve Perry, so if you’re not a fan, I’m not sure how you’d feel about Dream Theater’s vocals. While this is certainly not my favorite album or band, I think they are immensely talented at each one of their crafts. The musicianship is some of the best ever and definitely worth the time it takes to listen to!

Alanis Morisette: Jagged Little Pill
Buy from Amazon


Frank Sinatra: Classic Sinatra: His Greatest Performances (1953-1960)
Buy from Amazon

Sorry for the poor formatting. This is just one of those days where Blogger is not a fun thing to work with.


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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Top 5 Artists I Never Want to Hear Ever, Ever Again!

Let's face it, some musicians just suck.  As a writer on a blog that deals primarily with indie music, I'm exposed to a lot of suck on a regular basis.  But little known to most people, there are actually two kinds of suck.  "Suck Type A" is when an artist sucks, but has enough talent to pique your interest and hope for better days.  "Suck Type B" is when an artist sucks so badly that it completely changes your outlook on the music world, so badly that you never want to even think about that artist ever again!  Naturally, this list is about artists who fall into Suck Type B.  So I present to you, faithful reader, the Top 5 Artists I Never Want to Hear Ever, Ever Again!


#5:  The Go! Team - Every. Song. Sounds. Exactly. The. Effing. Same!  Honestly, I'm all for getting fans pumped up, jumping up and down and grinding on each other.  But after about 12 minutes, just give it a freakin' rest already!  The Go! Team isn't bad enough musically to warrant being #1 on this list, but they have absolutely no idea how to put together an emotionally gratifying song; no clue how to make something that isn't a barrage of loud instruments and unintelligible lyrics.  If you've heard one song, you've got a pretty good idea of what the rest of 'em sound like.  That's good enough reason for me to never listen to them again.

#4:  The Teenagers - You may remember The Teenagers from a little playlist I made, oh, two days ago.  The lead-off track to their debut album, Reality Check, "Homecoming," is really one of the most awkwardly inappropriate songs I've ever heard.  Unfortunately, there's nothing really all that impressive about it.  The beginning of it sounds like a car commercial, and the rest of it is just gross...and kind of funny.  The rest of the album just tries to recreate that kind of immature humor, but fails miserably.  I can only listen to a dude talking over instruments for so long, and my threshold for such "music" decreases with every damn pop culture reference and poorly-executed joke.  No thanks.

#3:  Mike McCarroll - I'm with Erin on this one.  Mike McCarroll seems like a nice guy and all.  My brief correspondence with the guy led me to believe that he's just a regular guy trying to live out his dream of making music.  That's what makes me feel so horrible about putting him on this list.  But damn, his CD just didn't do it for me at all.  I stopped listening after about 3 songs and proceeded to pawn the album off to Erin to review.  Country music isn't my thing to begin with, when you mix it with blues and rock - well, I'm almost forced to find some sort of gouging object for my ears.

#2:  Benny Benassi - He literally uses the same damn synth sound for every single song that he does!  This is why I don't go to clubs!  It's not because I'm 6'7" and would be entirely awkward the whole time, it's because of crappy music by Benny Benassi.  I mean, if I'm going to stick to the whole "I never want to hear this artist again" thing, then I need to avoid going to places where said artist can be heard.  There's just something so appropriate about seeing a bunch of unevolved apes out on a dance floor listening to the most simplistic, repetitive, uninteresting nonsense that has probably ever been made.  Benny Benassi gives electronic music a bad name and has probably done more harm to the human race than anyone else in the last 20 years - dictators excluded, of course.

#1:  Boddicker - I reviewed Caleb Boddicker's debut album about a year ago, and I'll be damned if it isn't as gut-wrenchingly bad today as it was back then.  The guy can barely play music, he can't sing for balls, and his lyrics are just obnoxiously bad.  Take this little gem, for example,  "When I go out/ I find things out/ I twist and shout/ and kiss your mouth."  No, that's the actual lyric to, get this, one of his better songs.  I loaned this CD to a friend last May, just to show her how bad it was.  I haven't heard from her since.  That's what I'm saying, folks!  Boddicker is so bad that she a.) decided that I wasn't worth being friends with after letting her hear it, b.) killed herself, or c.) moved to Nova Scotia.  The bottom line is this:  friends don't let friends listen to Boddicker!  Now, I would consider some of my readers friends, so I must insist that you don't listen to the following song.  But for those of you reading who I don't know or care to know, brace yourself for badness.  



EDIT: Sorry, I had to add this song in there. Totally the worst thing you'll ever hear!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy


You're first question very well might be, "Why not the album with 'Stairway to Heaven' on it"? My answer is simple. I think it's a solid song, but too overplayed and too often credited as being their best song, usually by fair weather fans. I'm here to enlighten you to the fact that Led Zeppelin has many more great songs... better songs. Songs that blow "Stairway to Heaven" right out of the water. And lucky you, some of those songs can be found on this album. Yay! So grab your beverage of choice, sit back and enjoy the beauty that is Houses of the Holy.

The album begins with a track titled, "The Song Remains the Same" whose intro is enough to bring you right in. Back in the day, intros could entirely be their own song, they were so long. However, this one is moderate in length, building up as fast paced, vocal free music. As soon as the intro is over, the rhythm has switched to a much slower, much more mellow tempo, as Robert Plant begins to sing. The vocals are extremely mild for Plant, but very intricate and intriguing. The rapidness of pace quickly picks back up, and the slower parts of the song are seldom revisited throughout the track. With a guitar driven track from Led Zeppelin, you might expect it to sound similar to other songs of theirs, but it is completely original. A good beginning to Houses of the Holy. "The Rain Song" is my absolute favorite song by Led Zeppelin. Unlike the previous, this track is completely mellow in that it is a "drive on a rainy day" song... At times it might almost seem depressing, until you hear the synthesized strings in the background, that give it the perfect amount of lightheartedness... Just enough to keep you from falling asleep. This song is heavy in instruments, especially the acoustic guitar, and at times, is completely devoid of vocals. Please don't be fooled by this fact because when Plant does grace us with his voice, it's magical and brilliant. Although not as many vocals as instrumentals in this song, the vocals that are featured are enhancing. Probably the greatest surprise in this song, is the way that it begins to "lightly" rock out at the end, but only enough to leave you wanting more. At 7:39 it is their longest song on the album, but in my opinion, definitely the best.

"Over the Hills and Far Away" is simply fun. It begins with a crafty little diddy on the guitar. Several different guitar techniques are implemented here to begin a somewhat memorable intro taking you into the slower verse where Plant tries to draw you in with a little bit of softness, but also some spunk. The rest of his spunk is soon delivered as the track picks up in pace. This song is pretty heavy with guitars but it's a nice balance of electric and acoustic. One thing I love about Led Zeppelin is that you never really know what to expect with their music; it's extremely unpredictable. Case in point, "The Crunge". This is truly the weirdest song on this album, but again, one of my favorites. The rhythm in this song is so strange. It's consistent with only itself in that fact that listening to it makes you feel like you're lost in a time signature swamp. It's all over the place... but in a good way. Another great thing about this song, other than the obviously magnificent, almost Axel Rose-ish vocals, is the creative use of various sounds in the instrumentation. I can proudly say that I've never tried drugs, but I think if I had, this song would be a darn good reflection of my perceptions while under the influence. It's that bizarre. During the last minute of the song, I can best describe it by saying it's like listening to music while on a pogo stick, as it literally has that elastic sound. And what's with trying to find that confounded bridge?

The first time I ever heard the song "Dancing Days", I was listening to my new Stone Temple Pilots album, so you can imagine how shocked I was years later to learn that it was a Led Zeppelin cover. To be quite honest, I'm not sure which version I like better. I liken it to watching a movie that is about 80% better than the book from which it was adapted. Maybe that means I like the STP version better, but Zeppelin's sounds much like a first draft to me, though it was the original. I would encourage everybody to listen to this song and determine for themselves what they feel, but for me, it's likely to be second to STP. As for the next track, it can be summed up in two words, "The Shizzle". "D'Yer Mak'er" is one of the first Led Zeppelin songs that I ever heard and quite appropriately, was the reason I purchased this album. The words are "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh... you don't have to go, oh, oh, oh, oh." and "I, i, i, i, i, i... all those tears I cried, oh, oh i, i." There are other variations of these lyrics that make up this song, but with it's abrupt percussion mixed with cheerful guitar melodies, and unusual lyrics, this song is not likely to be forgotten. I would doubt very seriously if it wasn't one of the best songs they ever wrote and if it doesn't become a favorite of any listener. It's creativity pushed to the extreme.

"No Quarter" though awesome musically, leaves me with a weird feeling. For one thing, Robert Plant sounds as if he's singing this whole song under water. The vocal effect is unlike others that I've heard, which scores huge points for originality, but as far as trying to win over fans, it's just a little too bizarre... and not in the good way that "The Crunge" is. I'd venture to say that it's probably my least favorite song on Houses of the Holy as it fails to capture much emotion from me. It's not bad and I figure that a lot of people will like this song... but I don't. The last song on this album is great and sounds like a true Led Zeppelin track. It's exactly what you'd expect to hear from them. You get Plant's stylistic vocals with their much more recognizable musical style of interesting electric guitar driven music. It's what I would typically consider a classic Led Zeppelin sound. As not to contradict my statement earlier, this is about as expected as you can get. In the middle of the song, there is a vocal breakdown which starts with one voice, but before long, there is a three part harmony. I think it's a great element to this seemingly traditional song. Other than a few "different" moments, this song sounds like a good ol' Zeppelin tried and true.

Houses of the Holy takes a few turns throughout it's 8 song course, but in the end, what you have is a unique, and extremely memorable Led Zeppelin album. If by this point, you're still missing "Stairway to Heaven", I'm sorry, and I might even pray for you, but all I can say is open your mind to a different kind of Led Zeppelin... you won't regret it. I have faith in you!

Key Tracks:

1. The Rain Song
2. The Crunge
3. D'Yer Mak'er

7 out of 10 stars




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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Moods - Horny

Oh yeah.  I'm totally going there.  Let's face it folks, sometimes you just want to hear some sexy music to play during your sexy times.  So I've created a playlist of songs that could all be considered "sexy" (with the exception of song #2, which is just flat out inappropriate).  The next time your lady or man gets that look in their eye, say, "Hold that thought," run to your computer, pull up this post and turn those speakers up!  Or if you want to add a little something to spice up all that boring internet porn, this should also do the trick.  Oh yeah.  I totally went there.



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Video of the Week - Week 68

I've been meaning to post this one for a while, but just kept on forgetting.  I'm not sure why there's a flying table, but hey, it's a good song!






"Milk Lizard" by Dillinger Escape Plan, from the album, Ire Works.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Portishead: "Third"

A 10-year hiatus is enough to make even the most optimistic fan doubtful. Portishead decided to stop making music together back in the late nineties, so it's hard to believe that there were many people out there holding out hope for a comeback by the time the band started to reemerge in 2005. But now, basically 11 years after their last studio album was released, the trip hop pioneers have been gracious enough to give us another fantastic album; whether we were expecting it or not.

From the very beginning, long time fans will notice that Third has a very different feel from their previous two albums. The album begins with a seemingly insignificant soundbite of a man speaking in Portuguese. He speaks of the Wiccan "Rule of Three," which is similar to the "golden rule" in Christianity or Karma in Eastern religions. Essentially it means that any energy put out by a person will be returned to him, be it good or bad. The lyrics of the song reflect this cyclical idea. Beth moans in the song's chorus, "Did you know when you lost?/ Did you know when I wanted?/ Did you know what I lost?/ Did you know what I wanted?" It is a haunting way to reintroduce yourself to the world, but in many ways its sets the tone for Third.

On "Hunter," a neo-noir masterpiece, Beth's vocals float hauntingly over acoustic guitars and a jazz kit. In the chorus, Beth coldly questions, "And if I should fall/ would you hold me?/ Would you pass me by?" The song breaks down several times with a jarring 4-note synth line that serves to add to the song's already frightening nature. "Nylon Smile" is more in line with Portishead of old, with a very cool reverse-synth line that carries throughout the song's 3 1/2 minutes. Beth sings of self-doubt and her need to change into someone that she can stand. She sings, "I struggle with myself/ hoping I might change a little/ hoping that I might be/ someone I want to be." It's a beautiful song despite its depressing subject matter.

"The Rip" is a personal favorite of mine, being the first song on the album that got stuck in my head. In the song's first half, Beth sings, "Wild white horses/ they will take me away/ and the tenderness I feel/ will send the dark underneath/ Will I follow?" over a simple acoustic guitar and what sounds like an oboe in the distance. Those lyrics are gorgeous, people. Also gorgeous is then the acoustic guitar that is soon replaced with a moog-ish synth sound. It's one of the album's cooler moments and I can't get enough of it!  It's followed by "Plastic," a less poppy, darker affair.  Its chorus is complemented by bombastic drums and a thick electronic buzz-saw of a bass.  The production here is incredible, taking seemingly incompatible parts and making them sound fluid and natural.





"We Carry On" takes a bass-heavy, industrial beat and carries it throughout its length, adding in sketchy guitars and minimalist drums as it progresses.  It's one of Third's most memorable songs, if only for its persistence.  Where other songs tend to be somewhat reluctant, this one charges out of the gate and never lets up, forcing the listener to perk up and listen intently.  "Deep Water" is the album's only "upper."  Featuring nothing but a ukulele and vocals, it is a hopeful song about overcoming adversity.  Beth sings in a childlike whimper, "I'm drifting in deep waters/ alone with my self doubting again/ try not to struggle this time/ for I will weather the storm."  It's one of my favorite songs on Third, mostly because it's a glimmer of hope in an album that is as bleak as they come.

"Machine Gun," the album's first single, features a commanding drum loop and Beth's haunting vocals almost exclusively.  Beth is left to harmonize with herself, and the end result is truly affecting.  Still, the song can get a bit repetitive by the time the haunted house synths come in at the 4-minute mark.  It's a decent song, to be sure, but there is better on Third.  Case in point: "Small," the album's longest and most chilling track.  It starts out softly, with Beth crooning, "If I remember the night that we met/ tasted a wine that I'll never forget/ open the doorway and saw through the light / motions of movement, and I felt alive."  It slowly builds, adding an upright bass and harmonies before busting out with one of the album's trip-hoppiest chord progressions.  After several minutes of uptempo grooves, the instrumentation once again drops out, leaving only the bass and vocals.

"Magic Doors" gives the albums one of its catchier tunes, and it's one of the few that I can even picture myself singing along to.  It features Third's most upfront arrangement, with lush instrumentation throughout, including, a steady drum beat, synths, a piano, and bass.  It's a great song, and a wonderful change of pace.  The band slows things back down for the closer, however, and it's simply stunning!  "Threads" is a song that is brilliantly arranged, with nothing feeling excessive or lacking.  It changes pace unpredictably, and features Beth's best vocal performance on the album - possibly ever!  The moment comes at about the 4:05 mark when Beth begins singing with every ounce of her being.  To be honest, the first time I listened to  Third, I wasn't that impressed with Beth's vocals.  I felt like she spent too much time trying to sound like a floaty witch, even when the music didn't require it.  But this one moment completely negated my concerns, and made me realize just what she was trying to accomplish with her vocal stylings. 

If Third could be described in a single word, that word would be "claustrophobic." From the very beginning to it's amazing conclusion, Third is an album that exudes hopelessness and despair. Listening to it, I can't help but close my eyes and picture the band playing inside of a tiny cell, desperately longing to be free.  There are glimpses of hope - beams of light shining through a tiny cell window - but the overall mood that is conveyed with Third is incredibly bleak.  As such, many of the more radio-friendly sides of Portishead have been shed to make way for a sound that is much more raw, more emotional and real. Whether this album is even definable as "trip hop" is debatable. I have heard the term "torture chamber pop," applied too, which is definitely headed in the right direction. As it stands though, Third is a difficult album to define, and Portishead should be credited with that.  It is an album whose technical merits are outdone only by the emotional shadow that it casts on its listener.  It is unlike anything I've ever had the pleasure of hearing, and it is a journey that absolutely needs to be experienced!

Key Tracks:
1. "Hunter"
2. "The Rip"
3. "Deep Water"
4. "Magic Doors"
5. "Threads"

9 out of 10 Stars

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Monday, April 21, 2008

myspace music monday: Past Artists Update

So occasionally I like to go back and revisit some of the artists that I've profiled on myspace music monday, just to check in and see how things are going. Maybe you're interested too. Maybe you're not. Maybe you feel like the person who recently told me, "You know, I read everything on Audio Overflow...but I just don't care about that myspace thing." But all that's irrelevant, because I'm posting it anyways. So onward!


Hanne Kolstö
Unfortunately, finding new music for Hanne is difficult because most of her work is done with other bands and groups. I did manage to uncover the fact that she filmed a video with the band, Post, for their song, "Slow Song." It's a good song, so it's good to see that they've managed to film a video for it. What's more, from the images on Hanne's page, the video looks to be rather awesome! I can't help but think of that scene from "The Descent" where the main character [spoiler]bursts through the ground and makes a run for it [/spoiler]when seeing the second picture here. Lookie!

Sadly, I can't find said video anywhere on the interwebz. Hopefully, a diligent reader will pick up the slack on that one.

The Sailor Sequence
The Sailor Sequence has had some pretty cool stuff happen recently; namely being featured on One Tree Hill. According to their blog, the episode aired last week and featured a poster of them in a record store. Nothing too exciting, but the band designed it themselves, specifically for that show. Cool beans.

They also managed to add a new song called, "ATC Remix" which I would assume is a remix of "Around the Corner," an already-stellar song.



The band will be playing a few dates in Kansas soon. So if you're in the area, be sure to check them out.

The Cyanide Valentine
There's not a whole lot of new stuff to report on here. The band will be playing a handful of shows in New England (Maine, Massachusetts, and New York) in May, and judging from their studio recordings alone, I'd say they'd be an awesome live band! Also, the band was kind enough to give Audio Overflow a shout out on their myspace blog, and official blog. Looking at my analytics report, that resulted in about 4 new visitors! Sweet action!

Bicycles and Gravel
The band has added two new songs to their page since I profiled them back in January. The first one is called "Trees and Fruit" and is pretty...cute. This song totally reminds me of The Boy Least Likely to or I'm From Barcelona (two great bands). There's a drum loop that seems a bit out of place, despite the fact that it sounds cool. Overall though, it's a very charming song that I recommend to fans of either of the two above-mentioned bands.

The other new song is a live recording of "Best Dressed." There's a voice at the beginning of the recording that sounds exactly like me, which freaks me out. Thankfully the rest of the song doesn't, because its mostly awful. That's all. You can hear for yourself at either of their two upcoming shows.



The Eastern Sea
Things are going well for my old friend, Matt Hines. He's got a couple new bandmates and is working on an EP to release to the world. Keeping that in mind, he's decided to upload all new songs to his myspace page. All of them are clearly labeled "Preproduction," but that doesn't stop them from being good. In the interest of time (and taking into consideration that you probably stopped reading this post after seeing Hanne Kolstö's pokey nipples), I won't write about each one of them. I will, however, point out that these songs show Matt taking his music to an entirely different level. "The Sea" showcases this point particularly well. You can't miss it! Now I just have to find a way to score some copies for review or contests. We'll see how that goes.

Teacups
They say that people remember what you write first and last more than what you put in the middle. That's why I started this post and ended it with Teacups. It's no secret that this band totally rocks my world, and while they haven't added any new songs since I profiled their site back in November (!), they have added a few things to get me excited. Like this:

Ok, you probably can't read that. I'll help.

dear friendlies, ('specially felix)

we are currently working on our debut E.P. We want it to be delicious so it's taking a tad longer than expected (honest, we checked the middle with a knitting needle and found it's still not quite cooked all the way through).

Anyway, once it's done just say the word and we'll have liz deliver it right to your door along with a kiss on the cheek (thats her job in the band).

Love,
Teacups xo


That's good news right? Well if that wasn't enough, they also left us with a short clip of them opening for Jose Gonzalez. It's short, but it's nice.



Other than that, hell, I guess we're finished for the day. Thanks for reading, and please send any myspace bands that you'd like to see profiled in to me. I always love hearing new music...except the bad stuff. Keep that to yourself!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jars of Clay: Much Afraid



So the year was 1999 and the place... somewhere on a highway in Texas. During my stay at a choir camp for a week (true, very dorky), we traveled to Austin, Texas from Brownwood, TX. While on the charter bus trip, it began to storm outside, though due to the loud mechanical sounds of the bus, you could hear no storm noise. Instead, the bus' sound system played a tremendously mellow, sleepy album. Not boring, just extremely relaxing. It was musically beautiful, yet thoughtful at the same. Much Afraid by Jars of Clay is not a fan favorite, but I find myself liking it the most out of their other albums. Though it is a Christian album, it is not overly obnoxious about being such and in fact, trumps many Christian albums by several standards including musicality. While the genre can sometimes be flat out torture, I believe listeners will find Much Afraid to be out of the ordinary.

We begin... 90% of Much Afraid is slow music. It's one of the more distinctive features. The first song, "Overjoyed" brings the listener right in with it's mellow, yet impacting story of pure love; the kind that is untarnished despite ones faults. The guitars drive this song with its unique chord structure. "Overjoyed" is a great way to begin this album as the tempo is slow, but not dragging, and its powerful lyrics are enchanting enough to keep you interested. "Fade to Grey" is completely opposite. While still a fantastic track, it's entirely more fast paced and probably their liveliest song on the album. It's got some great harmonies and some changes throughout the song that keep you on your toes wondering where it's going. "Fade to Grey" is sprightly and hopeful at the same time with its lyrics, when during the chorus, make you literally not want to miss a word while singing along. This song is addictive. "Tea and Sympathy" is one of their prettiest songs on the album and definitely takes me back to that rainy day on the bus. It's completely relaxing and slightly pensive in nature. It's a great song to just sit, listen to, and ponder over. Appropriately, there are strings on this track, and with its title, anything less would just be a disappointment... something that this song isn't.

"Crazy Times" and "Frail" are both very good, but very different. Neither are favorites of mine, but neither are bad. The listener will likely listen to and sing to these songs repeatedly, but in my opinion, there is nothing that draws me to these as there is with the others. Besides the above, the two have nothing in common. "Crazy Times" is much faster and heavier on guitars where "Frail" feels like it drags at times. I don't think you'll be disappointed at all in these two tracks though I don't know if they'll be quick favorites. "Five Candles (You Were There)" is a blast to listen to. It's lighthearted, airiness makes me want to have a picnic with my closest family and friends and enjoy a beautiful day. The song is a positive track about faith and trust. Again, Jars of Clay's music can be interpreted in the Christian viewpoint that's intended, or just unreligiously viewed altogether. Either way, you can't deny this song's positively pleasant sound and message.

"Weighed Down" is a nice track that upon first hearing it, appears to resemble their first hit in the early 90's, "Flood". It has the same same sound to the guitar strums and his voice takes the same tone. However, in a matter of a few seconds, you'll realize that's about the only similarity. They're completely different tracks. "Weighed Down" is nowhere near as much of a rock song as "Flood" (a song that I'd highly recommend). While I like this track, it has never made much of an impression on me as a contender for a favorite. On that same token, "Portrait of an Apology", "Truce", and "Much Afraid" take similar places in my book. They all have some good musical elements including their instrumentation and lyrics, but overall, nothing too memorable or special in my mind. "Much Afraid" is probably the most interesting of the three because it has some very unexpected chord structures, but despite the chords in this song, nothing else makes me really want to listen to this song repeatedly.

However, the last track, "Hymn" is not only a beautiful song musically, but lyrically. It's a song about worship. Yep, there's no mistaking that this song is very much a Christian song. Though the lyrics mention pure worship, it's not obnoxious. It's quite beautiful, as worship is depicted in an extremely detailed manner. While I think this song is pretty, it doesn't change the fact that the lead singer's naturally shaky voice is highly exposed in this song. It sounds a little more uneven than usual, a factor that is probably more evident in "Hymn" because of the song's softness and timidness. Vocal quirks aside though, it's a wonderful song.

So while Jars of Clay may not be your cup of tea, and while some of you may turn and fun fast in the opposite direction of any music which is Christian in nature, I would encourage you to listen to Much Afraid, for I feel that you will be pleasantly surprised by how enchanting and relaxing of an album it is. 85-90% of the music is great and the other 10-15% is good. I can't call anything on this album bad... it would just be complete nonsense. Having said that, you'd be doing yourself a favor to listen to this one. I think it will surprise many people.

Key Tracks:

1.) Overjoyed
2.) Fade to Grey
3.) Tea and Sympathy
4.) Five Candles (You Were There)
5.) Hymn

7 out of 10 stars



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Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekend Recommendations (4/18/08)

Cale's Recommendations

Of Montreal: The Gay Parade
Buy from Amazon | Insound

Today's mention of Sgt. Pepper's got me to thinking about my generation's Sgt. Pepper's. While nowhere near as influential or important, The Gay Parade features all the drug-induced fun of supposed classic. Trust me when I say that this is a very weird, but very cool album.

M83: Saturdays=Youth
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound

The Grass Roots: 20th Century Masters - Best of the Grass Roots
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound

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Erin's Recommendations

Band of Horses: Cease to Begin
Buy from Amazon | Insound

Cease to Begin is an amazing album. It's got a multitude of sounds. For real... Sometimes it sounds like you are listening to some weird country band and at other times, the lead vocals resemble Ozzy Osbourne. It is a complete roller coaster of a ride from start to finish, but pure brilliance the entire way through. Where else can you get this kind of musical genius? Only in America, mi compadres.

Marty Casey and the Lovehammers: Marty Casey and the Lovehammers
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound

Imogen Heap: Speak for Yourself
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound


What do you recommend?

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The Top 5 Retro Reviews I Want to See

As a general rule, AT&T's DSL internet service sucks. I know this because I am plagued by slow connections and (as South Park noted this week) that damned blinking orange light. Erin, who writes out Retro Reviews here on Audio Overflow, also has AT&T internet. So when the time came for her to post her Retro Review yesterday, wouldn't you know it, her internet started to suck it up. But rather than make an entire post explaining why her review isn't up yet, I've decided to make this week's Top 5 Friday related to the issue at hand. That way, I not only get to explain the absence of said review, but I get a totally sweet introduction paragraph out of it! So the following list is a list of Retro Reviews that I want to see written on Audio Overflow. Keep in mind, this isn't an upcoming schedule, or orders for Erin to follow, just a list.

#5: Atom & His Package: Redefining Music - An odd choice, yes, but one that I think would be humorous to see Erin tackle. For the uninitiated, Atom & His Package is a now defunct one-man, synth punk band. It's all fairly humorous music, with songs that are either silly, funny, or on serious subject matters - but all of it is actually pretty decent. Take, for example, the song "If You Own the Washington Redskins, You're a Cock," which is about racism in sports team names like the Braves, Indians, or Redskins. Atom makes some good points, noting that if we're going to allow that, we might as well have the "Carolina Negros" and the "New York Kikes." Ouch! I'd totally love to see this one get reviewed.

#4: Nirvana: Bleach - Bleach was Nirvana's first album, released on the indie label, Sub Pop. As such, only the really die hard fans have heard it. I'm not one of those people. I happen to find Nirvana severely overrated, and I think people often overlook the technical flaws of the band and focus more on the commercial and cultural impact that the band had on music. I'd like to see a review that focuses on the band's music prior to their big breakout! Is it as good as their other stuff? Is it good at all without the nostalgia factor added in? These are questions that should be answered, mostly because I've never heard it myself.

#3: Michael Jackson: Thriller - The 25th anniversary edition of this album was released a few months ago, which probably would've been a perfect time to review it. Still, I'm interested to see how the best selling albums of all time hold up today. There are some definite hits that will probably never die; like "Thriller," "Beat It," or "Billie Jean." But was this an album that thrived on it's singles, or one that deserves the above-mentioned title? Is there anything to this one besides those three songs? Does it even matter? A retro review on this one would be awesome.

#2: Creed: Human Clay - Creed was the shiz. No doubt about it! I remember being in high school when the song "What If" came out and everybody was all over it. My sister's boyfriend was totally in a band that performed this song at the school talent show. It was awful, and at the time I thought to myself that it didn't do the original justice. About a decade later, I can safely say that the original didn't even do itself justice. Creed sucks soooo hard! How did we ever enjoy this crap? There are no urgent questions that need to be answered like the above two albums, I just sometimes like to see an album get torn to shreds. That being said, I'm just glad I'm not the one that would have to review it - 'cause then I'd have to listen to it all over again. Not cool.

#1: The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Widely considered to be the greatest album of all time, this one seems like a natural choice for the #1 pick on this list. But there's more to it than that; namely that I have just never been able to get into The Beatles. Strange, I know, considering my adoration for indie pop, which is heavily influenced by the band. But still, it's just never done it for me. Sgt. Pepper's has some classic songs, and is without a doubt, the oddest CD that The Beatles ever put out. I have no intention of listening to it any time soon. But if Erin reviews it and gives it a score that's an 8 or higher, ok...I'll bite. Your play, Erin.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Moods - Antsy

Have you ever just wanted to move? You've been sitting at your desk all day, or wasting your Saturday just lounging around. Get up! Go do something! Just move! Me and my restless legs syndrome totally know all about this sensation. Well, as always, I'm here to help you with this most dire of predicaments. Here is a playlist that is almost sure to get you moving. It may make you dance, it may make you bob your head, tap your foot, or defiantly throw a fist in the air. Or it may do all of those. But it will get your antsy ass moving. That's kinda the point.



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Video of the Week - Week 67

Well, in the spirit of continuity, I've decided to go ahead and post the video to M83's "Graveyard Girl." If you think back to the wild, untamed time of yesterday, you'll recall that I reviewed the album from which this song comes with a 9 out of 10 Stars rating; my highest yet of 2008. Needless to say, I'm a fan of the album and a fan of this song as well. Enjoy the cheesy 80s goodness of it all!



"Graveyard Girl" by M83, from the album, Saturdays=Youth.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

M83: "Saturdays=Youth"

M83's Anthony Gonzalez has always embraced the epic nature of his songs. When browsing through his catalog of amazing songs, you start to realize that his best are always the ones that build into grand displays of what electronic music can be with the right person behind the synth keys. On, Saturdays=Youth, Gonzalez is expanding this idea by introducing an increased importance placed on songwriting and pop sensibilities. The album is, by all accounts, a new wave album in the purest sense of the genre. Recalling the best work of groups like New Order, Flock of Seagulls, or Depeche Mode, Gonzalez has created what could possibly be his most impressive album to date.

Saturdays=Youth plays out like the long-lost soundtrack to a John Hughes movie (actually cited by Anthony as an inspiration for the album), or a bonus CD for Donnie Darko. The scene pictured on the album cover should back me up on this. Gonzalez does more than just capture the mood of the cinematic era, however. The majority of the lyrics on the album are just as lovingly cheesy and melodramatic as can be, filled with such poignantly bad lines like "7am/dusty road/I'm going to drive until it burns my bones" or "The cemetary is my home/I want to be a part of it/invisible even to the night/and I'll read poetry to the stars." But these awesomely bad lines hardly distract from the mood of the album; if anything, they enhance it! It's like watching Sixteen Candles all over again!

That's not to say that you had to be around in the 80s to enjoy this though. I'm too young to remember anything from that era, and everything I know about it is second hand (Anthony, himself, is only 26). Still, I've found Saturdays=Youth to be an enchanting album. In the past, M83 has been about these really deep synth-heavy songs that build and build and assault your eardrums with pure electronic bliss. This album is a much softer, spread-out experience. There's never a sound that is too harsh or commanding, despite the fact that every song is built upon several layers of different synthetic instruments. Album opener, "You, Appearing," for example, never ventures beyond a simple piano line and atmospheric synth harmonies.



"Kim & Jessie," meanwhile, starts out of the gate with heavy drums and a blast-from-the-past synth lead that should totally be the intro song to some 80s throwback film, like Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heals" on the aforementioned Donnie Darko. "Skin of the Night" is a brilliantly sexy tune with shrill female vocals. She sings, "She digs her nails into her naked chest/miles of veins fan out like a road map/she pulls back the skin to show her ribs/that twinkle like shooting stars." It's pretty decent "mood" music for anyone who happens to still be living in 1985. "Graveyard Girl" replaces a lot of the keyboards for guitars, and the overall feel is unlike anything else the album has to offer. Gonzalez does manage to throw in some vocal synths, however; you know, the choral sounds on a keyboard that never get used? To be able to make them sound cool, to me, is a great sign of talent.

Possibly the greatest thing about Saturdays=Youth is that everything feels familiar despite the fact that this is all original material. There are not very many artists out there today who share Anthony's love for 80s new wave music and bring that love out in their music; so being able to hear a fairly stellar recreation of it is entirely welcomed. It should go without saying that many M83 fans may feel disenfranchised with the new approach that Gonzalez is taking to creating music. There are only a few moments on the album that sound like they could've been on another one of his works. "Couleurs," is clearly one of them, as is "Dark Moves of Love." Beyond that, however, this is completely new territory; both for Gonzalez and his fans. Personally, though I enjoyed his past albums almost without exception, Saturdays=Youth seems like the culmination of his work; an album that will not die out after a handful of listens, but one that will continue to receive plays for years. New wave is not my favorite of genres, to be honest, but this is an album that I simply cannot get enough of! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to relive the 80s, or at least be reminded of their better musical moments.

Key Tracks:
1. "Kim & Jessie"
2. "Skin of the Night"
3. "Graveyard Girl"
4. "Up!"
5. "We Own the Sky"

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Monday, April 14, 2008

myspace music monday: Dictaphone Blues

The last time we took a virtual stroll through New Zealand, I wound up hearing a little band called "Teacups." Well, Teacups is still the bomb, but I came across someone else with an entirely different sound that also happens to be awesome. Check it out.


Dictaphone Blues

Genres: Indie/Electro/Pop
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Band Members: Edward Thomas Castlelow
Influences: People that listen more than they talk, Morgan Schroeder, Christine Castelow, Sandringham Rd traffic on a wet day, The Jubbley Spufflewupps and anyone that is nice to me.

The Short of It: Charming indie pop music with jaw-droppingly awesome vocals.

Songs:
"Your Eating is You" - The actual title to this song should be "You're Eating is You," which, honestly, should've been enough for me to leave this dude's page and forget it forever. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I had already fallen in love with it. Edward sings passionately and confidently, and his vocals are probably a bit too front-heavy. Still the song is a blast to listen to, with a catchy, sing along melody and harmonies that challenge the likes of Field Music or Queen. This song is somewhere between the former and Belle and Sebastian. I can't download the song to place on Audio Overflow, but you should totally listen to it!

"Lantern" - Edward's vocals are once again the best part of this song, most notably in the chorus when he's playfully singing "I won't ever see until I hold a lantern." The song has a very groovy vibe to it that makes me want to compare it to some of Spoon's music...like "Rhythm and Soul." I'm totally digging this one.



"About 8 Hours" - This song is the only ballad featured on the page. After about 3 listens, I've decided that I'm not the biggest fan of it. It features some pretty decent production, but Edward seems less sure of his vocals, probably because a decent vocal melody never really enters the picture. It's the polar opposite to "You're Eating is You."

The Long of It: There's a ton of potential here, and even more potential that has already been realized. I think that Dictaphone Blues has a fairly marketable sound and I wouldn't be surprised to find Edward picked up by a label in the near future. Whether or not I actually hear his music on a grander stage than his myspace page really depends on how said record deal works out. I do think he deserves to be heard though, so here's hoping for some good luck and smart decisions!

Links:
Dictaphone Blue's myspace Page
More songs, in an entire radio set (streaming)

If you have any recommendations, or would like your band featured, please leave us a comment or shoot us an email at audiooverflow@gmail.com. Word.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekend Recommendations (4/11/08)

Cale's Recommendations

Portishead: Third
Preorder from Amazon | Insound

I just got my promo copy of this in the mail this week, and while I wasn't completely sold on it on my first listen, it's slowly growing on me. It's released April 29th, and I think it's worth mentioning. You should definitely consider picking this one up when it's released.

The Honorary Title: Anything Else but the Truth
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound

Dntel: Life Is Full of Possibilities
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound

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Erin's Recommendations

Of Montreal: The Sunlandic Twins
Buy from Amazon | Insound

I own 3 albums of Of Montreal and out of those three, The Sunlandic Twins is by far my favorite. I find that a lot of the songs on this album are lighter than on others and I generally like singing these more. Not to mention, “Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games” is so recognizable now from the Outback Commercials, I feel like they could easily win over new fans. I play it all the time for people at work and they start singing the jingle… All this to say, The Sunlandic Twins is my favorite Of Montreal album and my favorite for the week.

Sufjan Stevens: Come On Feel the Illinoise
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound

Jaymay: Autumn Fallin'
Buy from Amazon | Buy from Insound


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