Beach House’s Teen Dream was a pleasant surprise and is an all around ethereal album. On track one, harmonies coalesce with guitar and soft use of the hi-hat to begin the album. “Zebra” builds up as the bass drum comes in softly, and lyrics begin to form. The harmonies fade into the background, as the instruments used so delicately at first start to be utilized for harder sound and finer details can be noticed. The same guitar melody stays throughout the song, with an underlying bass ride.

Track two, “Silver Soul,” begins with more melancholy harmonies, and a simple tambourine makes an appearance as vocalist Victoria Legrand hits the high notes.

“Norway” comes next and is even more pleasant than the first two tracks, with sweet “ah, ah, ah’s” complimenting the dominant vocals. Guitars murmur and percussion whispers back, making you wish the song would never end.

However, it does, as all songs must, and “Walk in the Park” commences, introducing the use of a drum machine that could only be made to work as well as it does by a band like Beach House. One’s ears capture the importance of the chorus upon first listen, but it’s not until you listen to the song through a couple times that it really begins to impact you. “In a matter of time, it would slip from my mind / In and out of my life, you would slip from my mind” unites listeners whether they realize it or not, the thoughts of all hearing the words simultaneously traveling to a common place for different reasons. It’s a song that’s hard not to start over right away once it ends.

Keyboards compete in “Used to Be,” making the off-beat of this one the most interesting. As the song progresses, the melody grows more and more beautiful, providing instant happiness upon listening.

Guitars match synthesizers and everything about “Lover of Mine” seems constant, making one of the most peaceful tracks on the album.

Elements of previous songs on the album reappear on “Better Times” at first, making it sound like the song’s already been heard. However, a unique guitar riff finally kicks in and allows Beach House to enter a new plane of existence. Climaxing rhythms take away the relaxation of the song for just a moment before returning to peaceful regularity, but further surprises lie just around the corner with enthralling vocals and a fast fade.

“10 Mile Stereo” is an airy number that would be best perceived while flying on an airplane in the midst of clouds. Its dreamy synthesizers make it one of the best tracks on the album.

Delightful piano parts make up “Real Love” and the gentle vocals augment the song further, leading into the final track ten, “Take Care.” It’s no different from any other song on the album in the way that it allows your thoughts to swirl around you as you take the music in.

Teen Dream is a release that most will find hard to take off repeat. Beach House may not create the most exciting albums, necessarily, but this one is sure to clear your mind and take you to a better place when you need it.

Most important tracks to check out: Walk in the Park, 10 Mile Stereo, Zebra

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Diplo Remixes

November 27, 2009

I love Diplo’s selection of songs to remix; the finished products are always impressive.

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Circles (Diplo Remix) – As Tall As Lions
Reckoner (Diplo Remix) – Radiohead
The Perfect Crime #2 (Diplo’s Doing Time Remix) – The Decemberists
Helicopter (Diplo Remix) – Bloc Party
Shake a Fist (Diplo’s Noise of Art Remix) – Hot Chip

My favorite time of the year

November 27, 2009

Who doesn’t love a good indie Christmas song?

1. Christmas Party – The Walkmen
2. It’s Only Christmas – As Tall As Lions
3. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – Damien Rice
4. Splitting up Christmas – Kevin Devine
5. Christmas Time is Here Again (Bring Out the Joy!) – My Morning Jacket
6. Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved it!) – Sufjan Stevens
7. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – Thrice
8. White Christmas – Bright Eyes
9. Jinglebell Rock – Arcade Fire
10. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – The Polyphonic Spree
11. It’s Christmas Time – Yo La Tengo
12. Holly Jolly Christmas – The Format
13. The First Noel – Bright Eyes
14. Get Behind Me, Santa! – Sufjan Stevens
15. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Death Cab for Cutie
16. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Daphne Loves Derby
17. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
18. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Bright Eyes

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Bowerbirds

November 3, 2009

One of my new favorite bands is Bowerbirds. Perfect to listen to in the midst of autumn, their folky sound warms my heart and gives me chills at the same time. Soft percussion, clean acoustic guitar, sweet accordion and even sweeter violin, subtle keys, and beautiful vocal harmonies. Their second album, Upper Air will undoubtedly make my top ten for the year – I’m so impressed and wish I had discovered them sooner.

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Bowerbirds – Ghost Life

Minus the Bear – 10/15

October 21, 2009

Last Thursday, I went to see Minus the Bear at Blender at Gramercy. It was my first time seeing them live, and I was extremely impressed by every aspect of their performance. Not only was each member of the band evidently skilled and seemingly more familiar with their instruments than many other musicians, but their set list truly made it a fantastic experience. They played songs off of nearly every album/EP they’ve ever released; something many bands refuse to do, for fear of not pleasing their newer fans. I was also amazed that they played songs off of Planet of Ice that were never as popular as others – my favorites off the album, as well.

Some of the set included: Dr. L’Ling, Memphis and 53rd, Throwin’ Shapes, Into the Mirror, White Mystery, Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!, Ice Monster, Let’s Play Clowns, Hooray, The Fix, Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse, Pachuca Sunrise, as well as a few others.
-Dr. L’Ling and Memphis and 53rd, two of my favorite MTB songs, were better live than I ever could have imagined.
-Not a single person wasn’t singing along during Throwin’ Shapes and The Fix.
-Into the Mirror proved to be the highlight of the set for me – absolutely flawless. Heather Duby came on stage to sing, as she does on the album – she has a great voice (She also opened for MTB).

The crowd was so much more fun than I had expected it to be. In every video I had watched of them live, people seemed to be standing still, but where I was in the crowd (2nd/3rd row in the center), everyone was dancing and singing.

The venue was also one of my favorites of all I’ve been to. It used to be an old movie theatre, so there’s a descending seated section, as well as a pit smaller than that of Irving Plaza, but a little bit bigger than the one at Highline Ballroom. The lights were spectacular and made the show even better.

My love for Minus the Bear is greater than it ever has been after such a wonderful night. I hope to go see them again as soon as possible.

On a similar note, I just heard their second single off of their upcoming album – “Broken China.” It’s a good song, without a doubt, but it doesn’t seem to compare to “Into the Mirror,” the other new song. Based on these songs, I’m fairly confident that I will love the new album.

Minus the Bear – Broken China

Check out David Bazan of Pedro the Lion’s solo album, Curse Your Branches.

Lost My Shape

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