Monday, May 30, 2011

What I Listened To May 13 - 19, 2011

1. Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

2. Low - C'mon (Sub Pop)

3. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

4. Torches In Trees - Torches EP (self release)

5. DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers (ANTI)

6. Lord Huron - Mighty (self release)

7. Pinback - Offcell EP (Absolutely Kosher)

8. Low - Trust (Krank Records)

9. Obi Best - Sentimental Education EP (self release)

10. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade (Reprise Records)

Chad VanGaalen first popped onto my radar back in 'o6, when I was in my infancy as a new rock and roll fan (part II). I saw a couple of his music videos, for "Clinically Dead" and "Red Hot Drops", back then and was very impressed with, not only his songwriting, but with his artwork as well. I saw him back in October '06 at Avalon opening for Band of Horses, and though the audience was pretty restless, I was able to focus on Chad and see how serious he was about his music. For some reason, I still didn't pick up any of his albums back then. Because he only ventures out infrequently from his home in Canada, he kind of moved to the back burner for me, until I saw he was coming to Spaceland in 2009.

At that time I picked up his last album, Soft Airplane, and I fell head over heels in love with it. The combination of amazing songwriting, his expressive and plaintive vocal style, and the simple orchestrations, with the sophistication of a lot of computer sounds, totally intrigued me and I played the album over and over. I was completely overwhelmed by his live show and reviewed his Spaceland concert back in 2009 here.

On that basis alone, I picked up his newest CD, Diaper Island, almost the day it came out and I think it's even better than the last one. If there's a more beautiful song this year than "Sara", I need to hear it.

The other new album is the debut of The Belle Brigade, who gave a fabulous account of themselves at Amoeba that week. Released by Reprise, it's about as professional a recording as I've ever heard and showcases all the bands strong points. It's upbeat, uptempo and filled with magnificent songwriting. Stay away if don't like a happy band, because these kids are exploding with joy, and who can blame them with the press they're getting.

Pinback's Offcell EP is back on the list because they played such a magnificent version of the complex and eight minute "Grey Machine" at their concert in the 10th. Lord Huron also blazed back owing to their super show at The Troubadour on the 14th. The rest you know.


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