Underwater Peoples Winter Review

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On Xmas day this year the music-blogosphere was given an amazing present by the folks over at Underwater Peoples: a winter music compilation from the labels’ artists.  Following the fantastic Underwater Peoples Summertime Showcase, the Winter Review had a lot to live up to, and it seriously does not disappoint.

Much like the Summertime Showcase was fantastic for laying on the beach, in the sun, and reading a good book, the Winter Review is fantastic for laying on the couch, in front of the fireplace, and reading a good book.  My favorite tracks so far from the Winter Review are those from Julian Lynch, Pill Wonder, Ducktails, Fluffy Lumbers, Dana Jewell, Family Portrait, and Alex Bleeker, but the compilation plays nicely from end to end.  It’s actually stunning how well UP’s roster compliments one another.

Restless” really kicks this compilation forward after Julian Lynch’s excellent, semi-ambient introduction, and is hands down my favorite Pill Wonder track to date.

MP3: Pill Wonder “Restless” (320kbps)

These Days” should be reason enough to take a listen to the new Alex Bleeker & The Freaks 12″.

MP3: Alex Bleeker “These Days” (320kbps)

The output from Underwater Peoples since the labels’ conception has been consistently wonderful.  The label’s musicians definitely fill a niche in my listening habits.

Download the full Winter Review for free, for a limited time only, from Chocolate Bobka.  It’ll also be available on CD from UP.

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Beach House

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As you’ve probably heard from various sources, Beach House‘s forthcoming Teen Dream LP is fantastic.  And this is true; my 20+ spins so far would indicate such.  It seems like 2010 will be the year that Beach House receives official “Alternative Tenure” (see “Beach House Theory of 2k10“).  And that’s good, because Beach House deserve to make millions on their Sub Pop contract.  Now show your savvy and introduce soon-to-be Teen Dream fans to the other beautiful Beach House albums, like 2008’s Devotion, which boasts the highest play count in my iTunes over the last 12-months.  Teen Dream does move at a slightly quicker pace than Devotion and 2006’s self-titled Beach House record, so it’ll probably become the most accessible entry point.

Norway” is the lead MP3 from Teen Dream, and is one of the record’s many highlights (see also, “Lover Of Mine“).  Victoria’s ‘breathy’ backing vocals during the chorus give me the shivers.

MP3: Beach House “Norway” (211kbps//VBR)

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Pantha Du Prince

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Pantha Du Prince‘s 2007 album This Bliss is one of my more enjoyed minimal-ish records of the past few years.  It’s simple yet intricate; it doesn’t demand your attention yet it still feels meaningful.

Thankfully, Pantha Du Prince is releasing a follow-up long-player called Black Noise this winter.  After reading Pantha’s own description of the album I feel inclined to share it:

“music slumbers in all matter; any sound, even silence, is already music. The mission, then, must be to render audible what is unheard and unheard of: black noise, a frequency that is inaudible to man. Black noise often presages natural disasters, earthquakes or floods; only some animals perceive this “calm before the storm.” Black noise is something archaic and earthy. The music on Black Noise balances precariously on the slippery threshold between art and nature, between techno and folklore, which lends it a certain spectral and intangible aspect.”

Earlier this week “The Splendour” — the lead single from Black Noise — ‘hit the blogosphere’ and quickly ‘made the rounds’.  However, there is another track from Black Noise floating around that ventures into riskier electronic territory than “The Splendour” and succeeds flawlessly, thus raising my hopes for the album to an unreasonable level.  That track is “Stick By My Side”, and it features aesthetically-irresistible vocals from Panda Bear.  If you haven’t heard the song yet you seriously have something to look forward to.

“The Splendour” features Tyler Pope (of !!! and LCD Soundsystem) on bass, and is a pleasing 6-minute continuation of Pantha Du Prince’s signature style, but it’s ‘got nothing’ on the aforementioned destined-for-hype collaboration with Noah Lennox.

MP3: Pantha du Prince “The Splendour” (96kbps)

UPDATE: Take a listen to “Stick By My Side”.

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VEGA

Overshadowed by Palomo’s standout Neon Indian project, VEGA has been not-so-quietly amassing an impressive play count amongst my music savvy friends.  Ideal for both real and imaginary dancing, VEGA’s seraphic nostalgia is kind of a throwback in ways that I relate to — and then there’s the 16-bit reference.

Supposedly VEGA’s Well Known Pleasures EP has seen an official release — I’ve been content playing the tour CD/bootleg(?) of said EP since last May — and I’ve heard there may be some sort of VEGA release in early 2010.

Presumably a plethora of Neon Indian and/or Ghosthustler (remember them?) supporters, Crystal Castles detractors, and blog house revivalists/laggards possess MP3’s for “All Too Vivid”, “No Reasons”, and “Well Known Pleasures”, as they’ve been around a while; if you haven’t heard them all ‘thank your lucky stars’ for the untimeliness of this post.

“All Too Vivid”‘s synthetic melodies and simulated hand-claps will make you “fall in love” because they were “meant to be.”

MP3: VEGA “All Too Vivid” (192kbps)

“No Reasons” begins with two bars of anticipation, the highs and mids gradually gaining force, until the lows kick in and the ‘shameless fun’ begins.

MP3: VEGA “No Reasons” (192kbps)

“Well Known Pleasures” are OK, because we should all “do the things that we’d like to.”

MP3: VEGA “Well Known Pleasures” (192kbps)

While I’d argue that a 6.0 merely hides the urge to succumb to VEGA’s immediate retro/dance-appeal under an unnecessary pretense, there are some worthwhile insights in Mark Hogan’s VEGA review, for example: “Given the evolution in band logos, it’s tempting to see VEGA as Sega to Ghosthustler’s N.E.S.: same computing power, more of a “cult” appeal.”

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Tamaryn

Tamaryn‘s music elicits a similar emotional response to a late evening spent listening to Robert Smith’s band.  The music is dark, emotional, and kind of gothic, but it’s not depressing, and it’s not meant to put you to sleep.  If this were the 80’s Tamaryn might actually be creating mainstream buzz.

Last years’ Led Astray, Washed Ashore EP is an impressive first release; Tamaryn’s sound is already well-developed.  This is the kind of EP that can spend hours on repeat without wearing thin — it could easily have been hyped, but somehow managed to stay relatively under the radar.

The three new songs I’ve heard from Tamaryn this year — “Mild Confusion”, “Light Shadows” and “Weather War” — all exemplify the band maintaining its course, and heading towards a promising debut-LP.

“Mild Confusion” is dark, meaningful and catchy; the vocals passionately melt into the reverb, a bit of a shoegazer I suppose.

MP3: Tamaryn “Mild Confusion” (256kbps)

“Mild Confusion” is a True Panther release, and has graced Fader, Stereogum, Pitchfork, and Insound, but, curiously, has yet to appear on Hype Machine.

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OoOoO

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OoOoO are based out of San Fransico, and describe their own sound as “the Nightmare of Darkness swallowing up rare spirits.”  Fittingly, OoOoO is the “noise ghosts make.”

As GvsB‘s Chris observed, SALEM recently featured OoOoO in their interesting entry into the We Make It Good Mix Series.  The comparison is translucent: SALEM and OoOoO share an electro-goth/dark-wave style.  So far OoOoO’s music feels slightly less gothic than SALEM’s, and has a more distinct guitar presence (see “Seaww” at the 2:11 mark).

I’m actually surprised that I haven’t encountered more artists slipstreaming SALEM’s recent rise in popularity.  But if 2010 is actually “gonna be all about despair,” as OoOoO assured Pinglewood, then I imagine the indie-music rhetoricians are going to want to coin a sub-genre more exclusive to the sound/scene than electro-goth/dark-wave… perhaps dark-chillwave?

I didn’t fully absord OoOoO upon first listen, but when “NoSummr4u” surfaced — with it’s SALEM-esque beat pattern — my attention was caught.

MP3: OoOoO “NoSummr4u” (128kbps)

“Seaww” is the darkest of these 3 OoOoO tracks, but looses a lot of its eariness when the guitar-solo kicks in.

MP3: OoOoO “Seaww” (128kbps)

“Mumbai” sounds like it could make a good ‘transitional moment’ on an OoOoO full-length.

MP3: OoOoO “Mumbai”(128kbps)

If you’re curious, OoOoO completely dismembered Lady Gaga’s “PokerFace” and haunted the Gossip Girl featured “My Egyptian Lover” by Nadiah Oh — thanks to the earliest innovator Get Off The Coast for the remixes.

MP3: Lady Gaga “Poker Face” (OoOOo Remix) (128kbps)

MP3: Nadia Oh “My Egyptian Lover” (OoOOo Remix) (128kbps)

If you speak Spanish read this Vice interview with OoOoO.

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Beck “Harry Partch”

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When Beck‘s nod to the composer/instrument creator Harry Partch recently surfaced I was taken aback by the impressive experimentation, and — I presume — timely writing and production of such a complexly orchestrated piece of music.  I also appreciate the moments that ‘sound’ a little like Beck might (hypothetically) be saying “I can make music that sounds like the Fiery Furnaces if I want to” (see the 1:18 mark).

If this song is actually the result of Beck being dissed by the Fiery Furnaces, here’s hoping more relevant artists diss Beck in the near future.  I mean the man is obviously feeling prolific these days, so why not inspire him?

“Harry Partch”, according to Beck’s website, “uses a 43 tone scale in reference to Partch’s innovations with alternate tonalities. A peregrination across disparate territory to ascertain an unassumed frame of reference.”  Basically that means it’s really interesting and deserves a listen.

MP3: Beck “Harry Partch” (192kbps)

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