malleus&incus

The Pariah Dogs

Posted in Folk, Indie, Singer-Songwiter by jurbanik on September 1, 2010

I’m quite a bit late with this post, so I figured I’d just do a feature instead of a full album review to save some time. I know I’ve been on a folk binge for a couple posts here, but it is just what I’ve been into. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I think that Ray LaMontagne has one of the best voices in music right now, and ‘God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise’ was released on August 17th. The record was released under “Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs” – the first of four LPs where Ray gives credit to his live band. This seems a very big step for the very private man – he refuses to do music videos and plays live shows in the dark because he doesn’t find himself beautiful enough.

Truth be told , ‘God Willin’ is one of the few albums in recent memory that has ‘shrunk’ on me rather than growing. Thats not to say that I don’t like the album – I probably wouldn’t be posting this if I didn’t, and individually, the songs on the album are pretty great. The thing is, at first I was extremely happy to hear Ray returning to the folk stylings of ‘Trouble,’ his first album and possibly my favorite – I have been slightly hesitant to like 2008’s ‘Gossip in the Grain’ because of how much of an exploration it was for Mr. LaMontagne. As compared to ‘Trouble’, the new album has better production and a lot of good jams – a sign of more maturity and Ray having a little more money to spend on producing the album. However, after  a few listens, it has become apparent to me that ‘God Willin’ is a little flat – single dimensional. With the exception of the first track, Repo Man, almost all the tracks are interchangeable within the album and they sound awfully similar. (more…)

Who is Jon Black?

Posted in Acoustic Guitar, Folk, Indie by jurbanik on September 1, 2010

Late last night, malleus&incus received a pingback from another blog: apparently we were mentioned in episode 22 of the Up From the Ground podcast. Embarrassingly enough, it was my earlier post about a surprising Ke$ha demo. Turns out the guys running the podcast were as surprised as I was to hear how (half) decent Ke$ha’s voice is capable of being. However – as I looked around the website, it became immediately apparent that the website wasn’t just for the podcast. Turns out that ‘Up From the Ground’ is the podcast of Jon Black, and is just one of the many features on his blog/website, Who is John Black.

The question of the hour seems to be ‘Who is Jon Black?’ Turns out he is a singer-songwriter based out of Alabama. Story has it that Jon started his music career after the fire alarm went off at his software corporation and he realized how much corporate America wasn’t for him. Whatever the deal is, I’m glad he made the decision to focus his life on music. Though I was too out of it to give him a good listen last night, I’ve revisited him over the past couple of hours and I like what I hear. He has a voice that could fit in an indie pop band as well as indie folk. It is one of those rather marketable voices – it reminds me of Wilco sometimes, Damien Rice others, and even has a hint of City and Colour in it. (more…)

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Ben Folds, Nick Hornby, AND Pomplamoose!?

Posted in Indie, Pop by jurbanik on August 30, 2010

I really should be asleep right now – it is 5am as of starting this post. But about an hour ago, Pomplamoose tweeted that there would be a new video in an hour… and now it is here. I honestly could not be much more excited about a collaboration – I was well aware of Ben Folds’ album collaboration with Nick Hornby (author of High Fidelity and About a Boy), but I had no idea the album would feature Pomplamoose. If you don’t already know, I’m a huge fan of Jack Conte – check out my post on his innovative VideoSongs. Apparently Ben Folds is a fan of what Jack and Nataly do too! Anyways, lets get to the video.

Entitled ‘Things You Think’, the new song/VideoSong features some extremely complex layering, but is executed almost perfectly. Some people might be a little turned off by Nick Hornby’s role in the song – he reads interesting statistics, cutting away from the musical aspects of the collaboration. Personally, I’m a fan – Nick has a comforting, but intelligent voice, and it just works. Really exciting to me is the fact that both Nataly and Jack sing along with Ben, bringing together some really great voices. The chorus ‘smoke your little smoke/ drink your little drink/ try to make sense of the things that you think’ is unimaginably catchy, especially since it is Ben Folds singing it repeatedly. After the jump, the other single from Ben Folds’ new album. (more…)

A Plea For Duets

Posted in Indie, Singer-Songwiter by jurbanik on August 28, 2010

One thing I have noticed in the past couple years is the lack of duets between male and female songwriters. I can count on my hands how many memorable ones I’ve heard – there is the sickeningly cute and horribly overplayed ‘Lucky‘ by Colbie Caillat & Jason Mraz, the aptly name ‘Duet‘ featuring Rachael Yamagata and Ray LaMontagne (I still want to review his new album…), the perfectly harmonized ‘Paperweight‘ by Schuyler Fisk & Joshua Radin, the catchy but anti-romantic ‘You Don’t Know me‘  by Regina Spektor and Ben Folds, the heartfelt ‘I Don’t Feel it Anymore‘ by Priscilla Ahn & William Fitzsimmons, and the previously mentioned ‘Train Song‘ by Feist & Ben Gibbard.

Of course this doesn’t include the few artists (like She and Him or Arcade Fire) that have both male and female vocalists, but that is six whole collaborations. I’m not saying there aren’t other good ones out there, but those are the only ones that have been particularly memorable for me. I really can’t understand why: male-female duets seem one of the promising musical possibilities out there. They appeal to audiences that like male and female vocalists, the multiple main voices gives the potential for more narrative lyrics, the male and female tonal ranges are typically different and a good match can create great harmonies, they’ve got the potential for extreme romanticism… the list goes on and on. I can understand that it might be hard to find artists that interface well in terms of rhythmic, vocal, stylistic, and lyrical tendencies, but I would think more artists would at least try to capitalize on this potentially vast marketability. Certainly Hip Hop and R&B artists seem to have no problem executing collaborations… I can’t understand why it is so different for singer-songwriters. (more…)

Heartbreaks

Posted in Funk, Hip Hop, Indie by dc3 on August 23, 2010

No one is immune to the pain of heartbreak, especially when its hands reach viciously into your chest and suffocate your soul until you’re left a bitter and heartless shell. Today, my heart was broken by a 16-year-old androgynous pop star. A friend told me today that Bieber now wants to date Emma Watson. Bieber, you’re a bitch for stealing my woman.

But music heals all wounds. A few words from me to Emma via the Cee-lo Green (of Gnarls Barkley fame):

Cee-Lo Courtesty Stereogum

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whooping throngs

Posted in Indie, Live Music by Giri Nathan on August 23, 2010

Epic songs call to mind epic scenes: rolling meadows, endless sea, snowy peaks (like you could almost see the hobbits trudging in the distance). Also, multi-million dollar stadiums. And when you find yourself in Madison Square Garden, like Arcade Fire did a few weeks ago, you play the venue to your advantage. The epic space was already there; they just needed to stuff it with sound. By chugging through a solid, stolid set, stowing away their not-so-secret weapon in the encore, they kept us writhing in our seats just waiting for the arena to erupt. Then they delivered.

obligatory crappy iPhone picture

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Djohariah Stevens

Posted in Folk, Indie, Rock, Singer-Songwiter by jurbanik on August 22, 2010

It seems that the final Stevens sibling has finally gotten her 15 (or more precisely, 17:02) minutes of fame. The morning of August 20, Sufjan released a new EP entitled ‘All Delighted People.’ The last track on this sprawling 60 minute EP is titled Djohariah, the name of Sufjan’s little known sister. The Stevens brothers have made big names for themselves – Sufjan has essentially indie god status while Marzuki is a marathoner who qualified for the 2008 Olympic trials after finishing 20th overall in the 2006 Boston Marathon.

As if this wasn’t enough, it seems as though the Stevens brothers are very close. Whether it be recording things in their tape recorder at a young age, as in the clip Godzuki from Sufjan below, appearing in press photos together, Sufjan recording some of his early albums at the school Marzuki worked at, or Sufjan naming the band he was part of at Hope College after his older brother (more on this after the jump), it seems the brothers are good friends. As for Djohariah, it is very hard to know.

Godzuki// A Sun Came!

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A Little Heart to Heart Music Group

Posted in Experimental, Glitch, Indie, Lo-fi by jurbanik on August 20, 2010

I’m pretty late with this, but I think everybody could use a reminder about Heart Music Group. The music management company is a recent project by Joshua Fisher that is attempting to help promote some smaller bands, and has acts like Baths, Kárin Tatoyan, and Fol Chen under its arms. I’m not going to claim that I completely understand how the project works, but if you want to check it out, the LA Times Blog is a start. Heart Music Group (HMG) put on a warehouse concert tuesday night (8/17), but I haven’t heard how it went. With the talent and energy that HMG brings, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t great.

However, of more relevance to this post (since I was nowhere near LA for the show) is the recently released EP ‘<3.’ It has tracks by Baths, Teen Daze, Light Pollution, Blackbird Blackbird, Gobble Gobble, and Kites Sail High. A lot of you would probably be interested to know that it is available completely free at HMG’s bandcamp (I love that website more and more every day). Because it is free, I’ll just embed the player, and link to some other tracks by each artist (gotta save some storage sometimes). (more…)

This is What Happens: An Album Review

Posted in Indie, Jazz, Record Review by jurbanik on August 14, 2010

Those of you who have been following malleus&incus know by now that I’ve been planning on reviewing The Reign of Kindo’s new album, This is What Happens, for quite a while now. I hinted in my chiptune post that the review was coming soon, and much earlier on mentioned that I was anticipating the album to be one of my favorites of the year (in my post on indie jazz).

The Reign of Kindo live

The other day, I sat and listened through all of the This Day & Age songs I have, every single released The Reign of Kindo album/ep in chronological order, and Jeff Martin and Steve Padin’s album ‘The First Joke & Other Matters.’ I’ve waited several weeks and several listens before attempting to tackle judging this album, and yet I still don’t feel qualified to have a real opinion. Part of the problem is that the album keeps growing and morphing on me as I notice different subtleties, part of it is that I just don’t feel a little biased. But as it is, I’m tired of waiting, and I’ve finally decided ‘well, the time for a review is… now.’

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The ABC’s of Indie Rock part 2

Posted in Acoustic Guitar, Alternative, Folk, Indie, Lo-fi, Playlists, Punk, Rock by dc3 on August 13, 2010

Jumping right in from the last post:

Sequestered in Memphis // Stay Positive

Though they formed just six years ago, the Hold Steady has a sound that feels like it came straight from the ‘80’s. It’s a modernized, Midwestern Springstein with a classic rock feel. Such a strange strange sound.

Love Vigilantes // Around the Well

So folksy I wanna die. Sam Beam never sings above a whisper so his voice feels like it’s right up against your ear, like if you and him were stuck in a small room together and his  face was the only thing you could see in the dark. (more…)