Saturday, March 31, 2007

Interlude: I Still Remember

Bloc Party, Sebastien Grainger, Albert Hammond, Jr.
United Palace Theatre, NYC - Mar 30th, 2006

It's been a while. My immersion into Bloc Party came at a somewhat unfortunate time, somewhere between their final shows in New York and the second album recording hiatus. While I never realistically contemplated going to their planned shows supporting (cough) Panic! At The Disco a few months ago, the freakish injury to drummer Matt Tong put an end to any possibilities there. So, it was one of the more exciting moments of musical existence when I heard that they would be playing locally in the Spring. Despite some surcharge mangling, as well as one heck of a trip uptown, the show really met all my lofty expectations, emotionally, physically, and anthemically.

Sebastien Grainger
Due to that aforementioned uptown journey, we arrived at the tail end of Sebastien Grainger's set. What it lacked in length, it definitely made up in intensity. Although he's now bolstered by actual guitars, Sebastien is still using the practice of abrasively loud guitars and vocal pyrotechnics. I can't say that what I heard was particularly impressive, but you can stream tracks below.

MySpace: Sebastien Grainger

I've never been a huge devotee of the Strokes, but I appreciate their place as one of New York's prominent indie bands. Albert's solo material seems somewhat in the same vein as his regular band, and there's definitely a lot of upside to that. While pretty straightforward rockin', things were kept pretty engaging with a full band effort. The two and three part harmonies were particularly enjoyable, and I'm pretty inclined to check out his album after a fine set.

MySpace: Albert Hammond, Jr.

Bloc Party

As Bloc Party took the stage shortly before 10 PM, the crowd rose en masse, and things were pretty much euphoric from then on. The set began, intuitively enough, with "Song For Clay (Disappear Here)," featuring Kele Okereke's croon before erupting into a full-band blast. "Positive Tension" carried the momentum to greater heights, with the crowd providing that incredibly cathartic climax. As on the albums, this energy was deftly diverted into something mellower in "Blue Light" as the band was bathed in the same substance. But as is the case with most live renditions, this song also featured a blazing second half. After a short bit of banter, they band shifted back to A Weekend in the City's "Hunting For Witches," replicating the spliced radio sample and jittery beat.

So far, so great.

Things continued with "Waiting For The 7.18," one of my favorite tracks from the new album. It sounded gigantic, but one of the few flaws in the set prevented it from being totally sublime. For some reason or another, the songs from Weekend didn't feel that immediate, at least compared to the ones off Silent Alarm. This undoubtedly has something to do with my preference - and greater familiarity - for the latter, but on occasion the vocals kind of blended together on the newer songs, and a lot of the meaning was lost. However, the energy was sustained throughout the set, and I'm dumbfounded by the skill that the whole band demonstrates live. The fact that they were able to do so in what was a huge venue - approximately 3,000 seats - is really impressive. What was also impressive was how the end of "7.18" gave way to "Banquet" in a really incredible transition. I can't say enough about this song, and in its live form, it really approaches the transcendent.

Things get a bit hazy post-"Banquet," (I believe "Where Is Home?" followed) but another huge highlight was "This Modern Love." I've really fallen for this track after repeated listens, and I really think it epitomizes Bloc Party. It's yearning romanticism, perhaps overly dramatic as a result, but so sincere and melodic ("I'll pay for you, anytime") that one can't help but appreciate it. Aside, it's a real shame that they didn't play "Sunday," because I really think it's one of the few songs that comes close to encapsulating all those qualities ("I'll love you in the morning/When you're still hung over"). But in another amazing transition, the mass clapping at end of "This Modern Love" led to the crunch "The Prayer," and things continued with gusto.

Later highlights included the idealist "So Here We Are" (complemented by appropriate lighting, as shown above), and "Like Eating Glass," which closed out the main set. We prepared ourselves for the encore - and what an encore it was. "She's Hearing Voices," one of the few songs that didn't click for me in studio form, created a claustrophobic, frantic mood, with Kele dashing around the stage (and into the audience) and proved overwhelming with its "Red pill/blue pill!" chorus. "SXRT" began as a stripped down vocal track, and then was expanded into a dual harmony and soaring instrumental. Finally, the final track we had all been waiting for: "Helicopter." While this muscular live version didn't quite match the nervy energy of the studio recording, it brought a spectacular conclusion to a brilliant set.

All in all, one of the greatest shows I've ever had the pleasure to attend, or for that matter, an evening of songs as good as any live recording I've posted in this blog. And upon exiting into the brisk Harlem air, I was informed that Bloc Party will be playing at Asbury Park Convention Hall on June 7th. Tickets go on sale at noon today.


For a wealth of live recordings, b-sides and demos, check out

Friday, March 30, 2007

Two of Those Too: Tegan and Sara in NYC

Earlier this week, I received a pleasant surprise in my inbox, notifying me that the new Tegan and Sara record, entitled The Con, will be released on June 24th. Perhaps what is even more exciting is a plan for various small shows and in-stores, followed by a full tour in the fall. I can't think of a more engaging, charismatic band in live form, and I'm really looking forward to these shows. On the other hand, I'm a bit more ambivalent about this potential new album. The legendary (well, relatively) Chris Walla produced it, and the tracklist is rather intriguing. But for some reason, there's been a bit of disconnect when it comes to recent work. I guess the age gap, however slight, is a factor; I find it a bit hard to relate to all these songs on heartbreak that predominate later work.

So, yeah, my favorite album is still This Business of Art. Although I won't hear a significant portion of that album in a live setting this year, there are a huge number of recordings dating from that era, and here's one of them, recorded at our own Bowery Ballroom on May 22nd, 2001.


1. Frozen
2. Proud
3. Freedom
4. All You Got
5. My Number
6. Buried Alive
7. Divided
8. Hype
9. Goodbye
10. Your Love
11. Superstar

Confidence: Here

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mezzanine / Massive Attack in Berlin

It’s a wonder that Massive Attack’s Mezzanine was ever released.

The album came in midst of a disintegration, as the band’s three core members - Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall, and Andrew Vowles - were barely on speaking terms (Vowles would leave shortly after its release). Fittingly, the result is an intense, deeply troubling work, but not one merely satisfied with producing catharsis or vitriol. Mezzanine is powerful because of its insidious, relentless mood, mainly derived from Del Naja’s production, with diverse influences ranging from jazz and rock to hip-hop and electronica. The album is not merely a collection of songs, but an immersive experience.

Opener “Angel” features sinister break beats and distorted guitars, but its defining feature is a soulful delivery from the reggae vocalist Horace Andy, setting up a sequence of stunning vocal performances. Del Naja and Marshall entwine raps on the following track, “Risingson,” a nocturnal sequence that samples the Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason.” Perhaps most stunning – and undoubtedly the prettiest – is the sublime “Teardrop,” featuring the ethereal voice of Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. “Inertia Creeps” caps off a remarkable first half with Middle Eastern-style percussion and another strong performance from Del Naja.

While this four song set is insurmountable in quality, the rest of the album does not lag far behind, maintaining an impenetrable moodiness. Additional tracks from Andy (“Man Next Door”) and Fraser (“Black Milk”) maintain vocal diversity, while the eight minute crescendo of “Group Four” brings “Mezzanine” to a climactic conclusion.

Darkness has been a mainstay of music of all genres, but never has it been so seductive.

Previously: Maria Taylor's Lynn Teeter Flower

Massive Attack - Live in Berlin, 2003

1. Future Proof
2. Everywhen
3. Risingson
4. Black Milk
5. Angel
6. Special Cases
7. Karmacoma
8. Butterfly Caught
9. Name Taken
10. Teardrop
11. Mezzanine
12. Hymn of the Big Wheel
13. Safe From Harm
14. Inertia Creeps
15. Antistar
16. Unfinished Sympathy
17. Group Four

Unwind: Here

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Set Yourself On Fire: Ada in Barcelona

At the risk of coming off as an overt tech-head again (which is really what I aspire to be anyways), here's a kickin' DJ set from another excellent German artist, Ada. I really think this is one of the best ways to experience her music, as even her album material is structured like an extended mix, with each track syncopating and evolving as it progresses. Music is, at least to some degree, about creating a mood, and I think she really suceeds in this regard.

Many thanks to Arivia for getting me into Ada in the first place, and for allowing me to commandeer her MyDataBus account. Hopefully downloading should proceed smoothly, at least for a bit.


MP3: Ada - Live at Sonar Festival, Barcelona (06.17.05)

Bonus Tracks:
MP3: Ada – Cool My Fire (I’m Burning)
MP3: Ada – Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)

Who Pays The Bill: Here

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Adventurous: CocoRosie in Amsterdam

A few tracks have emerged from CocoRosie's upcoming album, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn. The Casady sisters still sound incredibly unique, but this new material seems a bit more accessible, or at the very least a bit more grounded. (I particularly appreciate the lines, "Now, everybody wants to go to Iraq/We might have our freedom, but we're still on crack" from "Japan.") I'm hoping the rest of the album follows a similar line because, well, I'm a bit turned off by the excessive weirdness of some of their older material. One of the real strengths that I hope they really capitalize on is Sierra's incredible operatic vocals, which does seem to be happening on the leaks.

Here's a set that provides both a nice musical intro to the group, and also reveals a quite a bit through various interview segments. It was recorded on VPRO Radio in Amsterdam on May 13th, 2004. CocoRosie play locally at the Warsaw on April 20th.


1. Not For Sale
2. Interview Part 1
3. Interview Part 2
4. Left-Hand Shoe
5. Interview Part 3
6. Armageddon
7. Interview Part 4
8. By Your Side
9. Interview Part 5
10. Good Friday
11. Interview Part 6
12. Tahiti Rain Song
13. Interview Part 7
14. Beautiful Boyz
15. Madonna

For Sale: Here

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Week That Was #10: Do Not Break

Well, this update comes to you a couple weeks behind schedule, but hopefully I'll be able to justify the wait. Enjoy!

I've discussed Morcheeba recently, and this is one of the songs that have made them a listening staple over the past few weeks. While the acoustic version of the song preserves the vocal, you really miss the wicked turntableism and thumping percussion that makes the studio version so very enjoyable. I also forgot to mention that Skye put out a solo album last year, and I'm sure I'll be checking that out in the near future. You can check out material via her KCRW set, in which she also covers Gorillaz.

MP3: Morcheeba - Blindfold
Buy: Here

Like a large portion of the music-devouring populace, I've been listening to (prefix optional) Arcade Fire's new album, as well as giving Funeral a spin in this particular week. I'm not really blown away by the new album after limited listening, save for the highlights "Intervention" and "No Cars Go," but that's probably my own shortcoming, at least as far as effort goes. Sadly, the band has just cancelled the remainder of their European tour because of Win's illness, and I wish him and them the best. To tie them into their neighbor Ada, here's their take on "Maps."

MP3: Arcade Fire - Maps
Buy: Here

Mirah's understated acoustics are a bit tricky live, and while I wasn't blown away by her set, I've really grown attached to this song. In the same vein as her live shows, C'mon Miracle isn't particularly immediate or hooky, but with time, it's become a comforting listen. There's some really pleasing in the simplicity of this track, and it concludes with a nice drumming burst. I'll definitely explore her other albums, and I'm particularly interested in hearing the remixes on Joyride.

MP3: Mirah - Don't Die In Me
Buy: Here

I may finally have weaned myself off of Maria Taylor, which is to say that sustained album listening has dropped off, but I'm still going through the various pockets of her prolific career. Now It's Overhead is more Andy LeMaster's project, but you can hear a little bit of the girls on the chorus on this track. The rest of the album, which is their self-titled debut, wasn't particularly outstanding, but it seems that they've grown a lot with later work. The second track is a great duet from the two, combining Maria's ethereal "Xanax"-esque voice with Andy's twang to great effect. For those keeping score at home, that track appeared on the Saddle Creek compilation, Lagniappe.

MP3: Now It's Overhead - Blackout Curtain
MP3: Andy LeMaster & Maria Taylor - Breathe
Buy: Here

Ulrich Schnauss doesn't merely make music, he composes. There's an epic quality to his sound that's really absent from most of his peers, and in "indietronica" in general. My first conscious encounter with Ulrich came, fittingly enough, from a couple Slowdive covers on Morr Music's Blue Skied An' Clear tribute. His impressive remix catalogue returned the favor with this emotional reworking of Slowdiver Rachel Gowell's standout single, but it's Ulrich's original material that is really been revelatory. He also happens to be acquaintances with Mahogany, and look for some collaborations in the future.

MP3: Ulrich Schnauss - Monday - Paracetamol
MP3: Rachel Goswell - Coastline (Ulrich Schnauss Vocal Mix)
Buy: Here

Groove Armada lives up to its name. I got into them on a bit of a whim after seeing that a new album (and video) was incoming. I went with their last album, Lovebox, for a proper intro, and in retrospect, that might have been the wrong choice. It's an eclectic affair, with a rotating vocalists and styles, and while there's nothing spectacular here, earlier work looks more promising. I know that's not a huge endorsement, but this track (as well as the new stuff) does bring appealing beats.

MP3: Groove Armada - Groove Is On
Buy: Here

Of course I'm obliged to like Apparat after all of his great work with Ellen Allien (and Damero), but I've found his solo material to be a bit more difficult. Duplex is a pretty glitchy, minimal record and lacks the immediate accessibility of Orchestra of Bubbles. But there's a lot of emotion, particularly in these two tracks, which feature those understated vocals that I'm so fond of.

MP3: Apparat - Contradiction
MP3: Apparat - Wooden
Buy: Here

So, I didn't actually hear this song for the first time until last night (go shuffler!), but it was pretty much love at first listen. I keep telling myself to listen to this band more, and this song was an easy excuse to conform that request. While some critics haven't taken as kindly to this particular Ivy album, I think Dominique's swoon-inducing vocals are the perfect complement to the electronic textures that pervade the songs. Unfortunately, Adam Schlesinger is currently working with Fountains of Wayne, but hopefully we haven't heard the last from Ivy.

MP3: Ivy - One More Last Kiss
Buy: Here

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Interlude: Mixtress

For some background on Ellen, check out Friday's Washington Square News, as well as the interview.

The L Train and I are becoming very good acquaintances. My previous experiences in Brooklyn have all been very enjoyable, but this one definitely topped them all in sheer excess. It was the first real DJ set I've been to, and although I expected something radically different from your straight-up rock show, I still ended up being blown away. While my fixation with more straightforward pop songs prevents me from becoming an exclusive devout of the 4/4 beat, there's something really refreshing in, to paraphrse James Murphy, trading in your guitars for turntables.

Lauren Flax

Lauren is a local DJ who may or may not be White Lightning. Upon first glance at around half-past-ten, I thought she was Ellen Allien, but that flew in face of all concert methodology. The confusion was dispersed after the resident MC extolled the crowd (which grew to a pretty staggering size rapidly) to "give it up for Lauren Flax," or some similar gesture, and in retrospect, there are some pretty large stylistic disparities between the two. While I'm not particularly skilled at identifying the various electronic genres (it seems a pretty subjective practice, anyhow), the set was pretty house-centric, with a relatively uptempo aesthetic.

But music aside, there's something really human about dancing, quality nonwithstanding, with complete strangers. I can understand why people dislike electronic music, as it's admittedly pretty devoid of meaning in most cases, but that hardly means that you can't have a deep connection with it, particularly when those around you are flinging themselves about with abandon. I like uses the analogy of abstract and realistic visual art when comparing electronica and "pop" music, but there's always overlap.

Anyhow, here are the few songs I did recognize from the set:

MP3: Daft Punk - Burnin'
MP3: Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up For Detroit
MP3: Green Velvet - Shake & Pop
MySpace: Lauren Flax

Ellen Allien

When Ellen Allien (finally) came on at 1 am, the mood changed pretty drastically. While the opening set was propelled with prominent beats, I thought Ellen's sound was a bit more subtle. Whil it wasn't as initially immediate, the velocity did increase with time, although I still felt a sparsity even when the percussion went into overdrive. But one of the things that I find most appealing about Ellen's music is the way it conveys emotion while maintaining detachment; there's a sophistication here that really distinguishes her from the hordes of DJs out there.

One of the pleasant surprises of the evening was the inclusion of Thom Yorke's gloomy "Harrowdown Hill," one of my personal standouts from The Eraser. (Does anyone know if her remix of the title track ever emerged?) While the vocal in particular isn't really dance floor friendly, it definitely matched the overall mood. Finally, just before 3 am, I got what I came for: the downright anthemic "Way Out," featuring live vocals, the definitive personal highlight of the night. Here are some versions of those two tracks that you may not have heard:

At this point I was pretty wiped out, and I'm sorry to say I made an exit just as Miss Kitten took over the turntables and the microphone (she also contributed some dissonance to "Way Out"). If anyone has any thoughts on her set, or overall feelings (when did it end?), feel free to shout 'em out.

Official Site: Miss Kitten

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Drukqs: Morcheeba at La Boule Noire

Hey. Sorry things have been quiet over the last few days; it's been quite a week. I'm sure some of you have run into MyDataBus bandwidth troubles, and I apologize for the inconvenience, but if it isn't available today, try again tomorrow. I'm shuffling hosts at the moment, and if anyone has info on a particularly good one, please let me know. If you really need a set, feel free to contact me and I'll get it to you somehow.

I've been recommended Morcheeba from virtually the instant I got into trip-hop, and it's a shame I didn't pick up on them earlier. The first Morcheeba album I've heard, Big Calm, is a collection of accessible, upbeat songs, which is a bit of a respite from their more languid peers, and it's great stuff. Singer Skye Edwards' smooth delivery is especially fantastic, and the various genres present on the album all serve to complement her voice.

Unfortunately, the band has gone through a bit of an identity crisis since, working with a various vocalists in recent years, but this set represents an early peak. It's a stripped down, acoustic rendition of some of the highlights of Big Calm, as well as their first album, Who Can You Trust, ala, say, recent Portishead. It was recorded in June of 1998 in La Boul Noire France, and broadcast on OuiFM.


1. The Sea
2. Part of the Process
3. Col
4. Blindfold
5. Let Me See
6. Moog Island
7. Over and Over
8. Fear and Love

Who(m) Do You Pay: Here

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Bird of Music: Doves at SXSW

I feel a bit out of the loop at the moment. Maybe it's the Daylight Savings, or the avalanche of post-break work flooding over me. But most likely than not, it's that temporal void of missing the musical mecca of SXSW, although vicarious atonement after the fact is nice. Another pleasant surprise was realizing that this set, which I had acquired rather arbitrarily, took place at 2005's SXSW. I suppose the relative brevity of the recording is a byproduct of those tight schedules, but many thanks to the dedicated festival goer who managed to capture the moment.

As for Doves, while they're not quite at the level of my favorites, there's definitely an element to their music that distinguishes them from your generic rock band. There's a sort of grittiness and darkness, at least to Some Cities-era material, but it's pulled off with lots of emotion and sincerity that makes it quite accessible.


1. Intro
2. Snowden
3. One Of These Days
4. Caught By The River
5. Almost Forgot Myself
6. There Goes The Fear

Bonus Track: Black and White Town

Lark: Here

In other news...

rbally is BACK!

The Village Voice has a pretty interesting cover story from last week, as well as a writeup of The Blow's show from last week.

Lone Star State natives Eisley played an obscene number of times at SXSW, and Boyd's got you covered.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Interview: Ellen Allien

Ellen Allien is a woman of many talents. I had the pleasure of contacting her during her ongoing tour, and here's the text. Many thanks to Ellen and Marit, aka Damero, for making this possible. Ellen plays at Studio B this Saturday with Miss Kittin.

Question: I’ve read that the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the subsequent environment, was a major inspiration for your music. However, you were first introduced to electronica in England. What prompted you to return to Berlin?

Ellen: After one year in London I got homesick, I just missed Berlin. When I came back to Berlin I knew why immediately. There I could hang out with friends, do music ... Then the wall came down and Berlin was finally united again. The youth conquered the streets. A lot of people moved and still move to Berlin to do arts, open galleries, bars, clubs ... It was and is the city of hope.

Question: What are your impressions of the current scene?

Ellen: The electronic music scene in Germany and Europe is really big. And everybody and everything is connected. The technical gear and software is so advanced now that as an artist you can hardly follow ... The market is full of releases and labels are popping up everywhere. It's really necessary to filter. This is what I try do to with my label and as an artist. We get a lot of demos and if I don't want it, another label will definitely release it for sure - the scene is boiling!

Question: How did you become Involved in creating The Other Side of Berlin with TimeOut?

Ellen: I was asked if I'd like to participate in this project and I said yes. Last summer we then started to shoot and tried to catch the street life of Berlin.

Question: What impact has BPitch Control had on your music?

Ellen: It's important to me to spread music. BPitch Control is a label, an artist management and a booking agency. We are trying to support our artists at its best, to help them produce good music, to release it. We are always looking for talents and we are trying to modernize the label constantly. I find it fascinating to move things. We were one of the first big labels from Berlin - and see now - there are so many. This is important - to have variety.

Question: What inspired you to start a fashion line? How do these different fields – fashion and music business – compare to being a musician?

Ellen: Fashion is my hobby. I love to draw clothes, to choose fabrics, to work with them .. To do music is like a mirror reflection, it's a deeper artistic level. And BPitch Control is the perfect social environment where everybody pulls on the same string. It's like a lego world.

Question: What artists have influenced you? What led to the collaboration on Orchestra of Bubbles, and can we expect similar albums in the future?

Ellen: Ellen Allien sound is IDM, Techno, Breaks and Song. The next album will be a solo album - I don't want to talk about the details yet. For now there will be remixes and a mix CD for Fabric/London, and some singles in summer. And my new fashion summer collection.

Question: Two tracks were added to Orchestra of Bubbles after it leaked.

As an artist and a label owner, what are your impressions of online distribution? Does additional exposure make up for a potential loss in sales?

Ellen: We can't complain. We sell a lot of MP3s. More formats mean more sales. Unfortunately it's really easy to get free MP3s. So please buy not steal our music!

Question: In Orchestra of Bubbles, particularly in the single “Way Out,” there’s a really strong vocal element. What prompted you (and Apparat) to start singing? How has this affected the live show? How has playing to a worldwide audience affected you? What kind of format can we expect during this spring tour; will you be singing?

Ellen: I sang on all of my albums - it's fun to sing. And I love playing live with Apparat. We will play more this coming summer.

Question: What approach do you take when it comes to creating a song? Do you begin with an idea in mind, or a beat or instrumental? How does your approach to remixing differ?

Ellen: Normally I have an idea first and write a song. I then work on it for a while. When I work on an album I have a main idea before that I want to create. And then each track has its own idea too. To be in the studio is something really important for me. It absorbs me and I don't do anything else - it's all about music. It's a lot of fun! And I can concentrate on one project.

Question: You’ve had a major release in each of the last six years. How do you manage to stay so prolific, while still managing a label and touring?

Ellen: I just like producing music, to do remixes, to write songs, to travel and to DJ. The label works on its on - I have a really great team! I love to meet people and to talk to them, to see how they live. And it's great to work with the label team and the artists, it's very creative. And I still find time to meet my friends, do Yoga, see movies, fashion whatever ...

Question: Any idea what direction your future work will take?

Ellen: I do where my heart leads me to. The summer will be fun, a lot of festivals! And I will be in Ibiza for one month and start working on my solo album, but slowly ... there are still so many other projects I want to do! And the label will move back to its old office, that got renovated - nice!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Week That Was #9: Tribulations

Before you even begin reading this post, go watch Portishead. In Bristol. Last month. I'll wait. Okay.

The week before spring break is notorious for being a deathtrap of exams, papers, and other academic hazards. Mine was relatively light (but heavy on music!) compared to many of my friends, but I still managed to totally procrastinate on this update. That whole "do a blurb a day" plan? Not so much. So yeah, I'm writing this from scratch on Saturday evening, so I better get started. Enjoy!

I guess the first thing you'll notice is that Maria Taylor has staged a major coup, backed by her various associates. I've written about Azure Ray excessively, but has really thrilled me is Maria's first group, Little Red Rocket. Although still a collaboration between Maria and Orenda Fink, this band channels a youthful energy that's definitely been substituted for more mature introspection in latter work. It's fun, pretty, and really rocks out at times.

MP3: Little Red Rocket - Back To Where I Started
Buy: Here

Wait, so what about Orenda Fink? Well, she composed a solo album of her own, called Invisible Ones, and it's quite unique (inspirations include Haitian folk music), if not as accessible as Maria's wistful pop. Although there's definitely a vocal similarity, this album is a lot more solemn, even at its loudest. Unfortunately, this disparity seems to signal the end of Azure Ray, as Orenda has gone on to form another band called Art In Manila, although they've yet to release an album.

MP3: Orenda Fink - Invisible Ones Guard The Gate
Buy: Here

Man, this album is amazing. Although Aphex Twin is probably known more for his hard, slightly freakish work, perhaps epitomized by the disturbing "Come To Daddy," he really has a melodic side. Ambient suggests a certain minimalism, but although the instruments (or programs) are sparse, there's a real substance to this work that most electronic artists spend a career trying to duplicate.

MP3: Aphex Twin - Pulsewidth
Buy: Here

Ellen Allien's collaboration with Apparat yielded one of the best albums of last year. While I haven't delved into her prolific solo catalogue nearly enough, I did hear more of Berlinette, which, as the name suggests, is a bit of a tribute to her German hometown. While the actual singing that makes me so fond of Orchestra of Bubbles is more along the lines of vocal interjections, the immediacy of the music is so great, you don't really notice. Ellen plays at Studio B in a week with Miss Kittin.

MP3: Ellen Allien - Sehnsucht
Buy: Here

Damero is Marit Posch, a BPitch promo employee who recently released an album entitled Happy In Grey. While it's been called intelligent nap music, it's far from boring. While fair to say that the generally relaxed mood obscures any lyrical message, the point of this kinda of music is, well, not to make a point. Anyways, the album features a number of collaborations, including this great one with Apparat.

MP3: Damero - Passage To Silence (Feat Apparat)
Buy: Here

Rilo Kiley is working on an album after a hiatus year due to side projects. I finally gave their last album, More Adventurous, another listen, and my appreciation has definitely grown. In a market saturated with female vocalists (which I know more than anyone, eh?), Jenny's powerful delivery really stands out. The first track really emphasizes her soulful side, while the second is a really fun cover of The Postal Service's classic, with Blake handling vocals.

MP3: Rilo Kiley - I Never
MP3: Rilo Kiley - Such Great Heights
Buy: Here

Shuffle is a great feature, as long as you're open-minded. I heard of Doves about a year ago, as their album Some Cities placed on some end-of-the-year list (I think it was Under The Radar or something). I've had the album for ages, but finally got around to listening to it only recently. "Black and White Town" is a clear standout; it's pretty much a blueprint for anthemic, melodic rock. Look for a live post on these guys in the near future.

MP3: Doves - Black and White Town
Buy: Here

I'm From Barcelona is actually a 29-member crowd from Sweden, as just about everyone is these days. You've probably heard a lot about them elsewhere, but if you're late to the party, as I am, this song is particularly apt. It pretty much describes my usual mornings: throwing on clothes and racing to class, but in such a fun, catchy way, I don't really mind the sleep deprivation. Oh, and remember, if you live in the States, turn those clocks forward an hour. Yeah, I'm not a fan of Daylights Savings either, but this track should make the transition easier.

MP3: I'm From Barcelona - Oversleeping
Buy: Here

So that caps off a rather excessive day of posts. I am, as noted, now on spring break, and updates will be sporadic over the next week. To help guide you through SXSW (and beyond), check these sites:

Brooklyn Vegan has comprehensive pre-coverage, including a list of bands from Sweden and Montreal.

Music Is Art celebrates a year of visually stunning posts with a listen back.

Faronheit has Emily Haines' live solo set on MPR.

And, of course, there's always the usual suspects.

See you soon!
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