Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pompeii - Bear's Den and Bastille

A couple of years ago, we started a list of songs that are different, but share the one word title “Crazy.”  The count stopped at 86 separate songs.  Some “Crazy” songs were very popular, including the ones by Seal, Gnarls Barkley, Aerosmith, and Willie Nelson (made famous by Patsy Cline).

The number of songs entitled "Pompeii" is much smaller, but the total is significant.  Two newcomers have thrown their hats in the ring for best "Pompeii."  Both bands are from London.
The first is a relaxed, "Saturday morning" song from a London trio called Bear's Den.  The band uses the banjo very effectively (I think my friend Maggie would agree).  Andrew Davie is the lead sing of Bear's Den, as he was with Cherbourg.
This "Pompeii" is by Bear's Den

A September 16, 2013 update - for more regarding Bear's Den, visit today's entry at:

The second "Pompeii" is the single from the debut album of Bastille.  The lead singer was born on Bastille Day - thus the name.  The album is scheduled for release in the U.S. on March 5th (albums are released on Tuesdays in the U.S., but Mondays elsewhere).   We admit to loving "tribal" vocals, and that's what sets this "Pompeii" apart from others.

With a break, the Bastille album could be a success.  The diversity is a plus, altough less rap would be better.  As a bonus non-"Pompeii" song, below is another song from Bastille.
"No Angels"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Free, Legal and Recommended - "End"

Blank Maps is offering its new single - "Everything Ends."  They are a guitar-heavy band from the U.K, with some shoegaze mixed in with crisp rhythem guitar.  Technically, it's not a 2013 song, since the song was released in late Decemeber.  Still, it is interesting to consider which bands have the potential of being a breakout band of 2013.  We aren't predicting Blank Maps will be such a band, since their earlier 2012 releases ("Further Maths/Projections) did not catch the attention of the music world.  But what is it that allows far less talented bands to become far more successful?
"Everything Ends"

Then, there is Red Aces - More good music from Melbourne Austrailia.  They are offering "The End."  The band is comprised of four brothers.  That could lead to good chemistry, or it could be a mess.  The family band hasn't worked well for Kings of Leon, but Red Aces probably has fewer personal issues.
"The End"

This is "Ends of the World" by Lord Huron.  It is from a performance on "World Cafe" as part of an interview in November, 2012.

Finally, there is Royal Concept from Stockholm.  The band is allowing free downloads of "In the End."  We like this song, but the Royal Concept song that attracts the most attention is "Gimme Twice."  If you're waiting impatiently for the upcoming album from Phoenix, "Gimme Twice" will help.  The song channels Phoenix.
"In the End"

"Gimme Twice" a bonus track added as "the end" for this post.

The download link is not apparent in all browsers.  If you do not see it, the link is:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Biffy Clyro - Yet Another Scottish Band We Like

A high percentage of friends who trust us to make good concert choices have seen at least one Scottish band in the last 12 months (Alan, Pat, Michelle, Mark, Karen...).  We are certainly partial to the "wall of sound" created by bands like We Were Promised Jetpacks.  But there isn't any common trait of music from Scotland.  Compare Mumford & Sons to Biffy Clyro and you come up with far more differences than similarities.  "Black Chandelier" is the new single by Biffy Clyro.  Within its four minutes and seventeen seconds, it smoothly (sometimes abruptly) transitions between a ballad and an attack of driving guitars - "a rock-power ballad."

Biffy Clyro - Black Chandelier (The Official Video)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vacationer- Review

Vacationer just had a show at the Independent in San Francisco on Saturday, which unfortunately, we did not make.  Vacationer is a new project in which the members remain nameless.  However, the vocals are from Kenny Vasoli, who was the lead singer of the band The Starting Line.  Vacationer is based in Philadelphia, which Vasoli considers the Eastern Seaboard.  Their music is very dream-pop, with an easy jazz feeling that you can just chill out to.  Their theme is a "vacation from anywhere at anytime".  Even their videos have a dream-like undertone that makes you feel, well, like you're on vacation.

Two Indie Folk Crossovers - The Mariner's Children and Hospital

It will  be a busy week, but there will be time for some quick posts.
This post is a free and legal download alert for the U.K. band The Mariner's Children and the Russian band Hospital.  The music of both bands is a "crossover" from Indie Folk to Indie Pop/Rock.

The Mariner's Children

The Mariner's Children is a seven-piece group, which permits some powerful vocals.  This is evidenced in portions of "In My Bed." The song will be the lead for the EP, Sycamore, when it is released on March 18th.
The song was uploaded to Soundcloud only yesterday, so there are very few "plays."

The free and legal download is

Interestingly, nothing about Hospital's name or music says, "Russia."  The song "Time Will Tell" is not traditional and does not include a tell-tale accent.  The dream guitar is an attractive touch.  It's worth a listen, at least to determine whether you want to download the song.

For an update on Hospital, go to the more March 1 post at More regarding Hospital - CLICK HERE

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Superbowl Rap-off.

Surely, more Superbowl songs will surface as the week continues.  But the early entries in a Superbowl Rap-off are included below.  If you find a favorite, you can enter a vote in the box at the top of the left-hand column (for some reason, it takes a few minutes for the vote to register, but it happens eventually).

The video entries:

The Audio entries:
Audio 1 - Raven Anthem

Audio 2 - The 49er Anthem

Towers and Future History - Bandcamp vs. Soundcloud

     There are a number of low-cost or no-cost audio streaming sites available to Indie bands. The most popular are Spotify, Soundcloud and Bandcamp. The bands prefer that everyone use Spotify, because artists  are paid with each play of their music (although a VERY small amount per play).  But not every blog reader wants Spotify installed on a personal computer or feels comfortable with programs executing from a website.  
     As a blog reader, there are advantages to Soundcloud. Sometimes the waveforms are interesting or useful in navigation through a song.  And a simple “mouse click” is all that is required to jump to a different segment in a song, as compared to bar dragging required by Bandcamp.  Best of all, if you start a Soundcloud song, it automatically pauses any partially played Soundcloud song you may have been sampling on the same page.
     But Bandcamp certainly has its place.  Consistently, it provides high resolution streaming.  And sometimes bands select Bandcamp over the alternatives.  As two examples, in mid-2012 our Indie obsessiveness was directed at two songs by bands from Toronto, Canada (Towers) and Melbourne, Australia (Future History).  The songs are included below.  At least temporarily, they are free and legal for downloading (although Towers would appreciate a tip).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Best Laid Plans of Modest Mouse and Of Monsters and Men

A person can only attend a limited number of 3-day festivals in a year.  We had picked our three festivals and even purchased tickets for Austin City Limits.  But Coachella announced their lineup yesterday, forcing us to reconsider - damn 'em.  The strength of the lineup is impressive - the best we have seen anywhere.  Maybe 2013 will just be a great festival year, but this is the only lineup that we will see before Coachella tickets are sold out.  And Coachella is within driving distance.

Among the better known artists are Of Monsters and Men, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, and Two Door Cinema Club.  Then, there are performers recommended in early posts - Lord Huron and Ben Howard.  And there are others we would like to see.  Just looking at the first day, Metric, the Foals, Neighborhood, Polica, Divine Fits, Stars... (For more information, visit

But the best news is that Modest Mouse is touring again.  Most of our obsessive attractions to groups or individual songs are short term.  There is a relatively short shelf life to most music.  It's the same as movies.  A person may enjoy a particular movie and recommend it to friends, but be well aware that seeing it once is enough.  Other movies are able to withstand the test of time and periodic viewing.  Modest Mouse is the musical equivalent to a classic movie (A "thank you" to our Indie-knowledgeable friend Bob G., who first introduced us to Modest Mouse).
The lyrics of a Modest Mouse song are worthwhile by themselves.  Just as one of a large number of possible examples, in "Missed the Boat," the band states, "Our ideas held no water, but we used them like a dam" (although the lyrics of some songs are just plain odd).  However, if the lyrics were changed to nonsensical statements, the music could carry the load.  The musicians are skilled and the production planning and quality exceed that of most major label releases.

If forced to select ten songs as the limit of our musical library for the next ten years, one of us would select "Missed the Boat" as part of the library.  Unfortunately, Modest Mouse hasn't used Soundcloud or another blog-friendly streaming site.  Only lower resolution versions are available on-line.  So, below are Youtube videos that may not fairly represent the band.

"Missed the Boat"


"Float On" (Warning: Odd lyrics)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Deep Elm Records Samplers – For Those Who Want to Explore and Discover

Deep Elm Records is a record label that describes itself as being fiercely independent. While some indie record labels receive a degree of corporate funding, Deep Elm takes pride in being 100% independent of outside influences.
 Periodically, Deep Elm organizes a collection of songs by its musicians and allows downloads of the collection for the price of an email address. Before downloading, you can listen to each song. After the download, Deep Elm uses the email address sparingly.

 The best webpage to visit is

It seems that each sampler from Deep Elm has at least one track that makes the visit worthwhile. In the most recent sampler ("I Am in Danger"), the track is “The Lines above Our Heads” by Again for the Win.
We liked the track before we understood its significance to the band, and like it more afterward. The band is from Austin, Texas. When asked about the song, the explanation was that within a short period of time, each member of the band had experienced the death of a family member or close friend. The song reflects the process of coming to a resolution in parting with someone who will be missed. At the beginning of the song, the capabilities of the lead singer seem to be stretched as he describes being in the room with the person, quietly dealing with the inevitable. But as the instruments are added and the force of the commitment is increased, the vocals are solid.  In the last statements, it's clear that the resolution has been reached:
Go where you want to be. 
I am where I need to be."


If you venture to Deep Elm, happy hunting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Free and Easy – “Mellow” Music Downloads

     Almost everyone goes through music-related phases.  [If you want to find out who your true friends are, go through a bagpipes-in-rock phase (the best use of bagpipes is the AC/DC song “It’s a Long Way to the Top.”)]
      Well, during a portion of last year, there was a phase of greater appreciation of a more melodic sound and simple vocals.  Junip, a Swedish band, will release an album this spring that would have fit well within that phase.  As a means for gaining exposure, Junip is allowing free downloads of the first single “Line of Fire."  The vocals and the timbre of the guitars are attractive enough, but the song takes off when the strings and Mellotron are introduced in the last portion of the song. 

The download is available at, until the band decides otherwise.

     Another song that fits this blog entry and is free and legal is “Taking Alcatraz” by Field Report.  The song is about the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz by American Indians, but its message applies to courageous stands we see in newscasts today – “And if I die, well at least I have made a choice” and "That a line in the sand don't matter, if you don't care."

     And then there’s the Lord Huron song “Time to Run,” which is still free from the band’s recording studio.  It’s this song that is responsible for our most memorable day of 2012.  The song provided justification for going to a World Series game in San Francisco and afterward driving to see Lord Huron perform the song at The Independent.  The lead singer is originally from Detroit and voiced his unhappiness with the Giants’ victory over his Tigers.  However, his performance was unaffected.  

     Lastly, while it’s NOT being offered for free download, a song that we strongly recommend is “Embers” by Maitland.  This is a project of Josh Hines and Jeff Mach.  “Embers” is on the EP “from a cabin in the woods.”  The simplicity of the song is a plus, since there is no interference with the quality of the vocals.  Don’t make the mistake of judging the song before you hear the final 70 seconds.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Trails and Ways at Cafe Du Nord - A Concert Review

We just saw Trails and Ways at a sold out show at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco last weekend.  They are a Bay Area group from Oakland consisting of four members, all who sing (which is an impressive aspect of this indie pop group).  They classify themselves as "brazilian shoegaze" and generate an array of elate tracks that are uplifting and fun to listen to.  From what I've noticed, they're really down-to-earth individuals who clearly love what they do.  Each of the members contributes to the production and writing of the songs, and they give one another credit as the songs are played, which is awesome.

Trails and Ways does a brilliant job at capturing the audience while decorating their mic's with flowers and fairy lights.  Here is an image that I snapped on my iPhone 4, while standing in the front row.  All four members of the band are skilled musicians, but Hannah Van Loon (pictured) stood out.  She played a clean, tight lead guitar for most to the songs of the setlist.  After the start of one of the early songs, Hannah discovered that her keyboard was unresponsive, but seemlessly played her part on the guitar.  I doubt many people noticed the problem, until the band praised her after the conclusion of the song. 

I've really enjoyed listening to the music they've released in 2012 and am looking forward to what is to come in the future.  Below is "Border Crosser."  Unfortunately, it is no longer a free download.

Opening for Trails and Ways were My Satellite from Los Angeles and Tremor Low, another Bay Area band.  We recommend all three bands, particularly in a live setting.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Public Service Broadcasting

     We just today came across this unique band, Public Service Broadcasting. The musical duo is based out of London consisting of J. Willgoose, Esq. on the guitar, banjo, and other stringed instruments, and Wrigglesworth on drums and piano.  Both members take samples from electronic instruments, old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material in order to construct these tracks.  The two have been creating these impressive pieces since 2009.

     PSB attempts to "teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future" with their main focus to inform, educate, and entertain.  Their most recent album was released on May 28, 2012 entitled The War Room, where both the following tracks derive from.

     The music esentially speaks for itself and is evocative with the brilliant imaging of London during the war.

Atlas/Team/Perfume Genius

Thanks to high speed Internet connectivity, worldwide band recognition is more commonplace.  To "make it," a starting band still needs a song that grabs the attention of a difference-maker and needs at least one other song that is interesting enough to hold that attention.  But things have gotten easier.

However, it sometimes seems that we are running low on band names.  In 2011, the Australian group Brother (love the combination of bagpipes and the didgeridoo - they often perform within easy driving distance of SF, because one brother now lives in Monterey County) sued the British group Brother for trademark infringement.  The British group changed its name to Viva Brothers.
In order to distinguish themselves, bands drop the vowels, such as SBTRKT.  Or they change a couple of letters, such as Com Truise.

Oddly, within a couple of months, three bands by the name _____ Genius stepped forward with releases in 2012.   Atlas Genius is from Australia, but has been touring regularly within the U.S.  Currently, they are touring with Imagine Dragons (March 16th at The Warfield in SF).  Team Genius is from Brooklyn, NY (why are so many good Indie bands coming from that one borough?).  Perfume Genius is the stage name of a Seattle-based solo artist - Mike Hadreas. He's not shy about dealing with his personal issues in his music (which reminds us of Blue October, but in a different genre).

All three versions of Genius met with success.
Atlas Genius:
Team Genius:
Perfume Genius:

Ben Howard - A Concert Opportunity

Ben Howard is returning for another U.S. tour.  It starts in N.Y. in February and includes April 14 and 15 performances at the Fillmore in San Francisco.  A trip to a Ben Howard concert proved worthwhile in 2012, and he has added to his setlist since then.

While other songs on his Every Kingdom album received much more attention, our favorite is "Keep Your Head Up."  Dissecting the song, there are a number of reasons to love it: 
     (a.) It's positive, as indicated by the title (coincidentally, "keep your head up" is also a message in "Stubborn Love" by the Lumineers, which is another of our favorites in 2012). 
     (b.) The production adds to the feel of the song.  For example, the "choir" is introduced very effectively at the 2:15 and 3:09 marks.
     (c.)  Ben Howard's voice is a good mix with the other backgroud vocals.  The best example is the portion of the song that starts at 3:09.
     (d.)  We would like to be the type of friend who is introduced after the revelation descibed in the first portion of the song.  The lyrics that start at the 1:50 mark are:

"I saw a friend of mine the other day,
And he told me that my eyes were gleamin'.
Oh I said I had been away, and he knew,
Oh he knew the depths I was meanin'.
And it felt so good to see his face,
Or the comfort invested in my soul.
Oh to feel the warmth of a smile,
When he said "I'm happy to have you home.
Ooh I'm happy to have you home."

"The Fear" is another song that shows his talents - not as positive.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Brave Baby

In the U.S., album releases typically occur on Tuesdays.  Today, the South Carolina band Brave Baby released Forty Bells.  The album includes a number of strong tracks, with "Living in a Country" being our favorite.  The band is still allowing free and legal downloads of the song from Soundcloud, but that may not be the case for long. 
The songs on the album feature some strong guitar work and attractive vocals.  Brave Baby has the potential to be a 2013 breakout, despite its seemingly inability to promote itself.  The music draws listeners to the Brave Baby website (, but the website includes little more than links to other websites.  Hopefully, this will change soon, so that fans can easily track when there are opportuities to see Brave Baby at live performances. 
Below is a choice of using Youtube or Soundcloud.

Another song from the album that is currently available for a free and legal download is "Magic and Fire."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

These United States

Have you ever had a school or work project with multiple components, but you put so much time and thought into one of the components that the remaining components couldn't possibly live up to the same standard.  "The Park" by These United States is GREAT. The rest of the album cannot live up to that standard.  No one's fault - it just cannot be done.

During the first 1:42 segment of the song, the lead singer paints a picture that sets up the rest of the song.  Within that segment, there is a haunting, almost country feel to the vocals and the instruments come and go non-forcefully (other than the three notes by the guitar at the 1:16 mark).
Then the drum beat triggers the energy adjustment at the start of the next segment.  But the original energy level returns temporarily, during the lyrics

You get to this place in your life,
come across all these people who inspire,
and the trick is you can’t know who’s leaving,
left behind,
or just arrived.