Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Day 2013 Discoveries

     Maybe we’re just late to the party, again. But today we heard two songs we consider blogworthy. Since the preference is toward the number three, we added a song to the discoveries. Technically, The Districts released “Funeral Beds” in 2012. However, the band recently signed with the record label Fat Possum and the song resurfaced this month as something of a promise of an upcoming LP release. Currently, the release date is identified as January 28, 2014. 
     The Districts is based in Pennsylvania and its members are Rob Grote (guitar, vocals), Mark Larson (guitar), Connor Jacobus, (bass), and Braden Lawrence (percussion).
     “Funeral Beds” has a dark side, but we have always appreciated the emotion that travels with such songs.

     Red Panda is the sole project of Brian Oakes, who is based in Bemidji, Minnesota. The song “Emma” grabbed our attention. The echoed vocalization is effective and the electric guitar works well with the acoustic guitar. But the song is at its best after the transition that occurs at the 2:57 mark. 
     "Emma" is currently a free download.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-Oakes-Red-Panda/

     Prince of Spain is a Seattle band. The band and its hometown have one thing in common - they both trigger the question, “How can the good music keep coming with such rapidity?” Their Facebook page was started in 2013, but music has been dropping regularly. “Find Love” hit Bandcamp on August 13 and “Rising Sun” hit on August 27. “Away We Go” and “Brothers” arrived in September. Then, other songs joined in the band’s debut album “His Majesty,” which dropped in October. Our personal favorites are “Find Love” and “Brothers,” but “Explore” is not far behind.   
     Truth is, Prince of Spain had a running start, since the duo The Scene Aesthetic flowed into Prince of Spain. But the only thing that really matters is that the music is now available for all of us to appreciate.  
      “Find Love” by Prince of Spain

      “Brothers” by Prince of Spain

      “Explre” by Prince of Spain

Website: http://www.princeofspainmusic.com/
     For at least today, the song "Find Love" is being offered for the price of an email address (and hopefully a tip). 

Silver Firs – A Band Review

     We intended to introduce Silver Firs to Indie Obsessive this year and there are only ten hours left. Since the band is based in Bern, Switzerland, there is only about 90 minutes left by their clocks. So, we quickly introduce the blogsite to Siver Firs and its members Olivier Vogel, Belia Winnewisser, David Elmiger, Moritz Stettler, Christoph Barmettler, and Raphael Elmiger.
     In June 2013, Silver Firs released a three-track EP that was cleverly named EP#1. They seem to have a firm grasp of the notion that creative music writing is more important than creative music naming. 
     We particularly enjoy the band’s emphasis on percussion and the surfer-like guitar tone in the song “Motherland.”

     Our first experience with Silver Firs was sometime in 2012, when we heard “Away We Go.” The band is still allowing free downloads of the song, if you head to http://silverfirs.bandcamp.com/track/away-we-go-2. But we like the direction of the band, since the current EP has more of a draw for us.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/silverfirsmusic

Monday, December 30, 2013

Three for Free – The December Version

     Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of new releases.  The end of the offer may be based upon reaching a maximum number of downloads or the expiration of some period of time.  But at least for now, here are songs that qualify as Free, Legal and Recommended (FLR) downloads.
     Young Braves is offering the song “Youth” as a free download. The UK quartet was formally known as Arcade Parade. The members are Ollie Scott (lead vocals, guitar), Jakob Ferguson (lead guitar, synth), Elliot Scott (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Dan Byrne (drums, backing vocals). Rumor is that Elliot Scott and Byrne are 15 years old, while Ollie Scott and Ferguson are in college. But their song “Youth” has a sophistication that belies the rumored average age.
     "Youth" by Young Braves

     Anberlin is a more established band, with their first album being released in 2003. They are based in Winter Haven, Florida and the five members are Stephen Christian (lead vocals, keyboards), Joseph Milligan (guitar, backing vocals), Christian McAlhaney (guitar, backing vocals), Deon Rexroat (bass), and Nathan Young (drums). While it requires an input of an email address, Aberlin is currently offering three versions of “Type Three.” The three versions are a) radio, b) live, and c) remix.
     Because the Soundcloud version is more easily manipulated, we are including the Soundcloud stream and the Noisetrade offfer of the free download of "Type Three."

     Beecher’s Fault is based in Astoria, New York. The driving forces are Ken Lamken (vocals, keys) and Ben Taylor (guitar, vocals). They are offering “Matchstick Kings,” which begins with piano and low energy vocals. At the 1:08 mark of the song, the caffeine takes effect.   
     "Matchstick Kings" by Beecher's Fault

Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Accumulation of Lists for “Best of 2013”

     At the end of each year, we take advantage of the many blogs that post their favorites of the particular year. There are a number of benefits. Of course, our tastes are more closely aligned with some lists than with others. Here are some of the posts with which we have some alignment:

A. Best Tracks
     1. Hearty-Vibes (the 1-20 post) - CLICK HERE.
     2. Sounds Good to Me Too (Their Top 10 of 51) - In its entirety, this is our favorite list, so we recommend looking at the links to the other 41 songs) - CLICK HERE.
     3. Said the Gramophone (Top 100) - CLICK HERE.   
     4. The Fly (Britain) (The Top 10 of their 100) - CLICK HERE.
     5. I Found Music (Their Top 25 of 75) - CLICK HERE.
     6. NPR (Top 100) - CLICK HERE.
     7. Blahblahblahscience (Top 50) - CLICK HERE.
     8. Write.click.cook.listen (Top 25) -  CLICK HERE.
     9. Rollo & Grady (Top 100) - CLICK HERE.
     10. The Bins (top 100) - CLICK HERE.

B. Best Albums
     1. The Pop Cop (Top 10) - CLICK HERE.
     2. Rollo & Grady (Top 25) - CLICK HERE.
     3. Turntable Kitchen (Top 10) - CLICK HERE.
     4. Sunset in the Rearview (Top 5 of the 20) - CLICK HERE.
     5. Earbuddy (Their Top 25 of 100) - CLICK HERE.
     6. Mad Mackerel (Their Top 10 of 50) - CLICK HERE.
     7. I Found Music (Their Top 10 of 30) - CLICK HERE.
     8. NPR (top 50) - CLICK HERE.
     9. The Sound of Confusion (Top 20). The alignment with our tastes isn’t that close, but we love this blog! - CLICK HERE.
     10. Another Dying Artform (Top 50) (We are  suspicious of the legality of certain free downloads, but we cannot say for sure) - CLICK HERE.

C. Artists to Watch in 2014 - These predictions are always interesting, but we recognize that predicting breakouts is nearly impossible. 
     1. Indie Shuffle - CLICK HERE.
     2. Australia Triple J - CLICK HERE.
     3. Flavorwire (15 anticipated album releases for 2014) - CLICK HERE.
     4. Crack in the Road (214 songs for 2014) - CLICK HERE.

     The hope is that the lists have enough consistency to be interesting to people with preferences similar to ours, but not have a similarity that Conan would find amusing.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Girl Power Video That Doesn’t “Borrow” from the Beastie Boys

     Earlier this year, a toy manufacturer (Goldieblox, Inc.) used its version of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” in a video. Goldieblox then pulled the Beastie Boys into a lawsuit to determine whether it had the right to use the song. The message of the video was certainly one we support – girls should not be stereotyped out of the sciences. On the other hand, we don’t support the company’s legal finagling. Hey Goldieblox, take a lesson from the duo Faul & Wad Ad. 
     Faul is a DJ in France, whose actual name is Maxime. “Faul” is German for “Lazy,” a nickname given to Maxime by his brother. Wad Ad is a producer in Paris, with the actual name of Camil.
     The French duo found a Youtube video for a song that belonged to Pnau, which was a side project of a member of Empire of the Sun. The song was “Baby” and segments of its Youtube video included a choir. [This is where the story is different from the Goldieblox situation.] Faul and Wad Ad did not make a video until they were authorized to use the property of others. Obviously, they do things very differently in France than in California.
     Here is the video for “Changes.” Gotta love the saxophone and the cinematography. Our recommendation is that you put the video in "full screen" mode.  

“And Now for Something Completely Different” (Apologies to Monte Python)

     If it is possible to describe a collection of music as being both raw and highly processed, then we know how to refer to the music of Slow Machete. Before the Haitian earthquake and its aftershocks did their damage in January 2010, Joseph Shaffer made the journey to Haiti in order to visit a friend. While there, the native of Pittsburg gained an appreciation for the music of the region. Shaffer continued to visit Haiti regularly, helping with the recovery when possible.
     In July 2013, Joseph Shaffer released an EP entitled “Mango Tree,” which is a follow-up to the 2012 LP “Evening Dust Choir.” The music is raw, since it features Haitian choirs, as recorded by Shaffer during his visits. On the other hand, the choirs are heard in samplings that are woven with instruments and other rhythms to achieve the texture Shaffer was targeting, so the music is “processed.” The instruments include a machete that is used percussively. But while the instrument is raw, the machete’s sound was sampled and pitched down (thus the name Slow Machete). After the other sounds were combined, Shaffer added his voice.

     "Dead Waiting" by Slow Machete    

     "Gray Eyed Bird" by Slow Machete  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlowMachete
Website: http://slowmachete.com/

Friday, December 27, 2013

Folks We Oughta Know – The December Version

     “Folks We Oughta Know” posts are regular visitors of Indie Obsessive. But we have never felt more enthusiastic about endorsing the Folk-related music within the post. Even if the genre is not in your wheelhouse, these are bands that should be given attention. As Miles Davis put it, “Good Music is good no matter what kind of music it is.”
     Mason Brothers is a band from Richmond, Virginia. As their name implies, it’s another group that includes brothers. The members are James Mason (lead vocals, guitar), Christian Mason (guitar, lap steel, backing vocals), Ben Willson (piano, keyboards, organ, backing vocals), and Patrick Strollo (bass). In June 2013, Mason Brothers released “Falling Together,” which is still available as a free download. The song begins quietly, with background vocals layered with the lead vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards. Then, at the one-minute mark, an electric guitar signals an increase in energy.
     In late 2012, Mason Brothers experienced a degree of traction with the song “Game of Cards.” Our favorite feature of the song is the harmonica.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/masonbrothersmusic

     Weathered is the performance name of Upile Mkoka, who hails from Queensland, Australia. He describes his music as being New Folk. In July, Weathered released the song "Coast," which is currently available as a free and legal download.

     Streets of Laredo is a band based in Brooklyn, but with its roots in New Zealand. The members are Daniel, David & Sarahjane Gibson, Si Moore, and Tom Darlow. This is "Hey Rose."

     Mikkelsen is the moniker used by Justin Mitchell, a singer-songwriter in Tri Cities, Washington. As a point of reference, Mikkelsen is the Lumineers with some attention to his religion. We are embedding the Bandcamp offering of “Through Darkened Caves.” Our personal favorite is “Where You Are,” but “Heart of Oak” is not far behind in terms of preference. "Heart of Oak" includes Lumineers "Heys" and Eddie Vedder voice quivers. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikkelsenband

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chameleon – A Band Review

     We received notification that a New York band named Chameleon is offering an EP for the price of an email address (and preferably a tip). The offer is on a Noisetrade page that includes the video for “Stay Wait,” one of the six songs on the EP. We listened to “Stay Wait,” liked their sound, and explored further.
     Chameleon is the duo of Chloe Lowery and Andrew Ross, with Lowery generating the powerful vocals and Ross providing the rock guitar.

“Stay Wait”

     “The River" is interesting in itself, but we particularly like the Pink Floyd-like combination of guitar and female "wailing" in the portion that begins at the 3:13 mark of the song. Embedded below are "The River" and thirty seconds of a Pink Floyd song.

Thirty seconds of "The Great Gig in the Sky" for comparison purposes. 

WHAT????!!!! It's Gone?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

“Teal” by The Night Jars – A Song Review

     The Night Jars released a three-track EP on December 10, 2013. While we are not typically fans of psychedelic/garage rock, the guitar work in the song “Teal” distinguishes the song from the rest of the pack in this genre. The Night Jars are based in London. On the Facebook page of the band, the members are identified simply as Tommy, Kevin, Tim, Rollo, and Jimmy.

     “Teal” by The Night Jars

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sivu – A Singer-Songwriter Review

     It is Christmas Eve and there just are not going to be many readers of music blogs. So, let’s have a very high ratio of music-to-text. That said:
     Sivu is the performance moniker of singer-songwriter James Page. Sivu is currently based in London, but claims St. Ives as his hometown. We have intended to introduce his songs to Indie Obsessive for more than a month, but intent and execution are often not closely aligned.

"Bodies" - Our favorite track from Sivu

"I Lost Myself"

The next three songs are currently available as a free download. Just enter an email address at http://sivusivu.co.uk/freedownload.
"I Hold"

"Over & Over"

"Dimmer Down"

Monday, December 23, 2013

The 2013 Saturday Night Live (SNL) Christmas Show

     Even if you’re entrenched in the camp that criticizes SNL for providing a product that is too inconsistent to justify the hype it still receives, you have to appreciate the December 21, 2013 Christmas Show. The writing was strong, the creativity was stronger, and the good chemistry among the participants (particularly Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake) was unquestionable. Below are our favorite skits, but the show included other portions that should be viewed.  

This is the opening monologue.

The Christmas Album

This one is not music related, but it's our favorite from the show.


Madonna visits The Barry Gibb Talk Show

Kimye Talk Show episode

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Chapel Steps It Up

     In October 2012, The Chapel opened in San Francisco as a music venue. At one time, the building was a mortuary with a chapel room, which is where the bands now perform. The configuartion of the room (pictured above) and its forty-foot ceiling present challenges for the sound system, but the sound quality has improved noticeably since the early concert opportunities at The Chapel.
     Even in the first few months of operation as a music venue, The Chapel was able to attract some quality bands. Still, in terms of consistency of drawing power, the venue appears to be stepping it up in 2104. And the consistency is not a result of finding something that works, repeat, and repeat again. The bands already booked to play in 2014 vary widely with respect to genre and the attention they receive in the music community. For example, the UK band Toy features psychedelic rock and guitars, Mother Falcon is a large (about 17 members) Austin-based orchestral band, and Arthur Beatrice is a London rock band with an emphasis on melodic vocalization.
     Embedded below are songs from bands scheduled to perform at The Chapel in the first three months of 2014. In each case, we either already purchased tickets for the performance or we are waiting to see if there are conflicts that will prevent us from attending.

MARCH 6 - Arthur Beatrice
     Indie Obsessive is littered with positive references to Arthur Beatrice. In fact, we listed their song “Grand Union” as our favorite track of 2013 within the listing at: http://indieobsessive.blogspot.com/2013/12/best-songs-of-2013-songs-1-10.html
Arthur Beatrice will be at The Chapel on March 6. For ticket information CLICK HERE.

MARCH 4 - San Fermin
     The Chapel will host San Fermin two days before the visit of Arthur Beatrice. This is a Brooklyn band that has received some attention from satellite radio play of “Sonsick.” We also like “Daedalus (What We Have),” so both are embedded here.
San Fermin will be at The Chapel on March 4. For ticket information CLICK HERE.

January 18 - TOY
     On January 18th, Toy will be the headliner at The Chapel. Toy qualifies as a “guitar band.” Are experience is that even if it’s a song you enjoy in your car, a song of a guitar band is almost always more enjoyable in a live setting.
 Toy will be at The Chapel on January 18. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.

February 13 - Royal Teeth and CHAPPO
     Royal Teeth are a pop band from Louisiana. Earlier this year, they opened for a band we were anxious to see (A Silent Film). Royal Teeth was a pleasant surprise. They are a high energy live band with an ability to connect with the audience. The opening band is CHAPPO.
 Royal Teeth and CHAPPO will be at The Chapel on Febuary 13. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.
Royal Teeth - "Wild"

CHAPPO - "Come Home"

January 20 - Pure Bathing Culture
     Staying in the pop scene, Pure Bathing Culture was given attention in the blogosphere this year. The song “Pendulum” in particular found its way into many blogs. This is our first mention, but the band certainly deserves to be included in a post about interesting bands scheduled to play at The Chapel. 
Pure Bathing Culture will be at The Chapel on January 20. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.

February 27 - Mother Falcon
     As noted above, Mother Falcon will be paying a visit. The better phrase may be that they will be invading The Chapel. Seventeen members – you cannot question the love a band has for its music when it has to split the payment seventeen ways.
 Mother Falcon will be at The Chapel on February 27. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.

March 15 - This Will Destroy You
     This Will Destroy You is another Texas band (like Mother Falcon), but that’s as far as the similarities extend. In terms of music, This Will Destroy You is much closer to Explosions in the Sky. The band is about lengthy and layered instrumental tracks.
 This Will Destroy You will be at The Chapel on March 15. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.

January 23 - Wooden Shjips
     It seems fitting to end with a San Francisco Bay Area connection. Wooden Shjips will hit The Chapel on January 23. For tjicket jinformatjion, CLICK HERE.

Friday, December 20, 2013

From the Indie Obsessive Mailbox - Tellison

     Today, the mailbox received its first charity request. The charity is CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), which has a mission statement of reducing the high suicide rate amongst men who are 34 years old or less.
The email stated:
     "Cult alt-indie-rock Londoners Tellison this week unveiled a brand new single ‘Snow (Don't Tell The Truth This Christmas);’ available now exclusively from the group's bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download here: http://goo.gl/abkrBr and just like their 2011 Christmas single (Good Luck It's Christmas), all profits are going to the charity The Campaign Against Living Miserably."

In describing the song:
     "The song itself is a hopeless request for a Christmas truce, a sad plea for a stay of execution. Where most Christmas singles emphasise the ephemeral positivity of the season and ignore Winter's more sombre aspects, Davidson's song acknowledges the value in that pretence without denying December's underlying melancholy. The song begs for the protection of the joyful Christmas period precisely because without it the freezing sadness might become too much to bear."

     The charity suggestion is a name-your-own-price download.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best Songs of 2013 Songs 1-10

     This is a shameless “Best of 2013” post. It is shameless in the sense that we know that two of the songs were released last year, but didn’t hit the radar of very many people until 2013. For anyone who is offended by this fact, we sincerely want to apologize. However, we cannot, because this post is shameless. Besides, the only real benefit to a “Best of” post is derived from the post’s function as a vehicle for sharing music with others. We certainly learn from going to the year-end posts of others
     Here is the math that we first presented in the September 1 explanation of the ranking algorithm.   
     We are providing our ranking using the above formula. For two reasons, we will not provide full descriptions of the formula’s factors and the justifications for the process (the second reason is infinitely more important than the first). First, we don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence - the complex portion of the formula is an adaptation of the well-known arbitrage pricing approach developed in 1973 by Fisher Black and Myron Scholes. We suspect you use this formula for all of your arbitrage-related endeavors, just like us. More importantly, since the complex portion is than multiplied by “0,” the values within the complex portion are irrelevant to the outcome.
     Consequently, the ranking of a particular song is based on its value of “P,” where “P” is personal preference. Pretty simple – if we like a song, it ranks higher than songs we don’t like.
     Other comments:
1. As noted above, these year-end lists are vehicles for sharing music discoveries. So, this list favors bands on the rise.
2. Out of consideration for people with slower connections, which struggle with loading a large number of songs in a reasonable time, the list will be split into groups of ten.
3. Unlike many other year-end lists, we will start from the top.
The other sets of ten songs are available at:
Songs 11 through 20 – CLICK HERE
Songs 21 through 30 – CLICK HERE
Songs 31 through 40 – CLICK HERE
Songs 41 through 50 – CLICK HERE

 1. "Grand Union" by Arthur Beatrice (Their debut album drops in March 2014. The band is positioned for an explosion.)

 2. "Sahara" by Bear's Den (When a song has an almost minute long intro portion without an identifiable melody, followed by another 90 seconds before the instruments land on a melody, the rest of the song better deliver. This song delivers)

 3. "Steam Dream" by Andy Clockwise (The Soundcloud waveform foreshadows the energy build that characterizes this song.)

 4. "The Park" by These United States (This is a song we liked immediately, but appreciated its quality only after playing it repeatedly.)

 5. "Diamonds" by The Boxer Rebellion (This a song with the Scottish power guitar we love.)

 6. "Metal & Dust" by London Grammar (Other songs by London Grammar are getting the attention, but this is the one we prefer.)

 7. "My Type" by Saint Motel (Gotta love the use of the horns.)

 8. "Pinhole of Light" by Heart-Ships (This one is just flat out fun! The song has warbling, falsetto, and other features that make it a perfect song for certain moods.)

 9. "Riptide" by Vance Joy

 10. "Speak" by Spring Offensive

Songs 11 through 20 – CLICK HERE