Monday, January 26, 2009

Very Vest Friends

In the backyard in C'ville. Photo by Jordan of Corsair / Nice Jenkins. Can you spot his Brandy in the grass?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cake it away!

We discovered Mazzy Star by way of Beach House when reading blogs/zines saying that Beach House was channeling a very Mazzy Star vibe, so we got an album.

I normally don't like female singers, because it sounds like they're trying too hard. I do however have a few exceptions. Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks, and Ann and Nancy Wilson, to name a few. But today I am writing about Hope Sandoval singer of Mazzy Star, who realized their moment in history with mid '90s hit “Fade Into You”.

Kind of 90s, yes, but look past it and you realize it's really sweet. And the vocals: earnest and effortless.

peace out, LP

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some Favorites of 2008 (Part 2)

DBB Plays Cups

Super-unique, catchy songs that always seem on the verge of breaking apart, yet somehow the magical dark matter in them provides the necessary gravity to hold it together. Reminds me of a much weirder version of the Magnetic Fields with a little Velvet Underground influence sprinkled in the mix.

For being such a small town, Charlottesville actually has a pretty awesome number of great musicians and bands. That being said, if I were to pick a favorite local artist of 2008 it would have to be DBB Plays Cups. In the spring of '08 a kindergarten teacher here in town named David Benson (DBB) made a freakin' awesome record which has yet to see a proper release. He usually plays with a band whose lineup is slightly different every show. One of the main contributing members is our friend John Ruscher, formerly of the C-Ville and founder of As of now, DBB Plays Cups has supposedly just finished a second full-length album but I don't think the band has a website or myspace page. All I can say is, you gotta try to go see them live; it's really incredible.

Vampire Weekend

Somehow Lindsay and I weren't really aware of the hype surrounding this record when we got it, which may have helped make it such a pleasant surprise. This is one of those albums where all the songs stick in your head for weeks. Great hooks, great clean production, and overall a great pop album. Perfect for spring or summer weather, chilling outside, driving with the windows down, being happy and not thinking too deeply about anything. I think that if the Beatles were young Ivy-League kids living in the northeast US today, this is what their music would sound like. I like how every song on the album sounds like a different style of music but it all sounds like their name.

Shaun Harvey of cvilleMUSE turned me on to this sweet Wes Anderson-style music video:

Atlas Sound - Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

The lead singer of the band Deerhunter has an awesome solo project called Atlas Sound. This guy, Bradford Cox, has become a sort of idol for me this past year. He has a great blog where he is constantly posting new material for free download. He is so prolific and all of his projects are amazing. In fact, the new Deerhunter album was also one of our favorites of the past year. But anyway, I spent many a hot summer day in my cool, cave of a bedroom soaking in these blissful psychedelic sounds. It's more about texture than melody, but every part of it is beautiful. Bradford Cox does his own graphic design too, which I think is really cool. Click on the album cover to get a better look at the Lichtenstein / Warhol influenced pop art.

Beck - Modern Guilt

Superb start to finish. This is the album I wish I had made this past year. We both love Beck, but sometimes his records are a little too long or unfocused for my taste. This one is much different from all his other albums, and it's definitely my new favorite. It's got the focus of Sea Change but sounds like a late 60's / early 70's psychedelic pop album. And he's got some really tight videos to go along with it.

Check out 'Orphans' and 'Gamma Ray'

I've got a couple more I'll post later

~Clifford John

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some Favorites of 2008 (Part 1)

Been meaning to do a little post about some of the albums we've been digging this past year, so here they are in the order we came across them:

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals

We went up to play a show at Cake Shop in NYC in January of '08 and when we were hanging out with some friends in Brooklyn we asked if there were any sweet up-and-coming Brooklyn bands. They gave us a copy of Yeasayer's new album (technically a 2007 release) and it blew both our minds collectively on the drive home the next day. We went and saw Yeasayer later that month at the Black Cat in DC. They played downstairs to a writhing sold out madhouse. MGMT opened for them. MGMT has really blown up this past year but I personally think Yeasayer is a much stronger band both live and on recording. Although I must say Yeasayer is even better live than on the record. It's hard for an album to capture the energy of a live show as spectacular as Yeasayer's blend of psychedelic / spiritual world-prog. The prog rock aspect comes out a lot more in the live show. Kind of like Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, TV on the Radio, and Kansas all rolled into one. SEEEEEE

Check out '2080'

Beach House - Devotion

Absolutely one of our favorite bands. Devotion is their second album, although Lindsay and I were both really into their debut when we first met. We went to go see them at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC with Papercuts, another very cool and retro band back in August of 2007. When we saw them, Beach House was a guy-girl duo (although now they tour with a drummer). The guy (Alex Scally) plays guitar and the girl (Victoria Legrand) plays keyboard and they play over simple beat tracks and use lots of reverb. Lindsay and I were thinking of getting a band together to play the stuff we were recording (Cardboard Wings) and we were like "ohhh, we can do this for Birdlips; we can just be a duo!" Their first album was great and the second, Devotion, is even better.

The awesome video for 'Master of None' from their first album:

More to come tomorrow.

Clifford John