Elogy: One

RIYL: Coldplay, Aqualung, Passion Pit

Not everyone can lead. It’s just a fact of life. Some will lead, and the rest will follow, and you will find no greater place to observe this behavior in action than in the world of music, where every band who scores even a sliver of attention inadvertently gives birth to a gaggle of copycats. Most of which, naturally, suck hard.

However, just because someone is a follower does not mean that they’re not bringing something new to the table, and California trio Elogy is a good example. From the first breath that singer Derek Cannavo takes on One, the band’s debut album, it’s clear that he really, really likes the way Chris Martin sings, executing both of Martin’s trademark moves (the aching baritone, followed by the aching falsetto) in a matter of seconds. And yet, for all the tricks the band may have stolen from other bands’ playbooks, One is a consistently engaging listen, stuffed to the gills with anthemic choruses and slice & dice programming that will make Passion Pit green with envy. The soaring “Eager We Are” will surely land in a CW show in the next six months, while “Welcome to Inertia” out-Aqualung’s Aqualung, skillfully blending major keys with full-blown melancholia. The band’s true star, though, is drummer Nick Lyman, who positively bashes his set when he’s not unleashing drum samples that sound like Everything but the Girl’s Walking Wounded set on puree.

If they can stay away from overblown power ballads like “Rest Your Senses” (think Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile” for the bedroom pop set), there should be little preventing Elogy from jumping to the next level. It may not be the most unique first step a band’s ever taken, but it would not be at all surprising to see Elogy evolve into a band that others want to copy. (Elogy 2010)

Elogy MySpace page
Click to buy One from Amazon


Me, Myself, and iPod 7/14/10: Set phasers to chill

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Note to self: never go away for the weekend. Had 160 emails waiting for me when I got back. Ugh.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Vocal Chords
Fans of Robin Williams comedy album Reality, What a Concept surely laughed out loud when they saw the name of this Detroit band (“Oh no, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.!”). For a city known for its no-nonsense rockers, this tune is remarkably sunny and airy, a lot like many were expecting the most recent Vampire Weekend album to sound like.

SAADI – Bad City
Sounds like an unfinished Curve track. That’s not a bad thing, in our book.

Here We Go Magic – Casual
Ooh, dreamy. Perfect post-rave chill music. I bet the Magic Numbers like these guys.

New Collisions – Dying Alone
After my beloved Tribe stalled on their way to world domination, I never miss the chance to pimp a Boston band, especially if it’s a female-fronted five-piece, just like Tribe. Oddly enough, this group may be coming 20 years after Tribe, but this song sounds like it was recorded roughly five years before them. (Read: it’s new wave-y.)

Neon Indian – Psychic Charms (Apache Beat remix)
As Otto said when he watched Bart play his drums “Hardest Button to Button”-style on “The Simpsons,” “Ooh, trippy!”

Lower Dens – Hospice Gates
Bravely venturing into Mazzy Star-ish ambient guitar pop territory without boring me to tears. Well done, gents. That’s a compliment, seriously.

S. Carey – In the Dirt
Bon Iver percussionist makes solo album. Pitchfork wets themselves. And while I live for resisting anything that can be remotely classified as hipster, this is pretty. Very pretty, in fact.


Me, Myself, and iPod 6/23/10: A literal animal collective

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!!! – AM/FM
I am admittedly late to the !!! party, as I spent a good year trying to figure out how to even say the band’s name (Jason Thompson finally set me straight by going “Ch-ch-ch”), but after hearing this Frankie Goes to Hollywood-sampling number – and if it’s not Frankie, it’s gotta be something produced by Trevor Horn – you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye on them going forward.

Joemca – Big Dreams
It’s like a glitchy Bruce Springsteen song. That’s a good thing, by the way.

Brock Enright – Maybe
Blissed out Jesus and Mary Chain? Sounds good to me.

Marco Benevento – Greenpoint
There are few things that make me roll my eyes faster than seeing “sound sculptor” in quotes in a press release. Having said that, this is a neat little instrumental.

Unicycle Loves You – Mirror, Mirror
I wrote a piece a while back about how band names have gone to shit. I cited Unicycle Loves You as an example of this. Their fans let me have it, though in a playful way, unlike the unfiltered hostility that one normally finds on the web. A few weeks later, the band sent me a friend request on MySpace. Had to give them points for that. Now they have a new album, and wouldn’t you know it, I like the first single. Still hate the band name, though.

The Rattles – Wavy Lane
These guys are animals. Literally. The album cover shows a cat, a hippo, a lizard and a goat. Not sure if this is just another Wiggles act or a really meta joke, but the song will have Nuggets fans dancing in their seats.


The Chemical Brothers: Further

RIYL: Fatboy Slim, 808 State, Crystal Method

After briefly flirting with the mainstream in 2005 thanks to their Indian-riffing rump shaker “Galvanize,” one would forgive the Chemical Brothers if they liked the look of the spotlight and decided to spend some more time there. It’s to their immense credit, then, that their post-“Galvanize” efforts have been the most noncommercial work of their career, and their latest album, Further, is the most insular album they’ve made to date, not to mention their most fitting album title.


If they recorded for anyone other than Astralwerks, one of the last artist-friendly labels left standing, the A&R man would surely be telling them “I don’t hear a single,” because Further, well, doesn’t have one. In fact, the album has a lot of “silhouette” tracks, a trick that electronic acts use where they start with an existing song and keep adding bits to it while slowly removing everything from the original track until they have something brand new. The 12-minute “Escape Velocity” is a direct descendant of “It Began in Afrika” and “The Sunshine Underground” (but not as catchy as either), while “Another World” is a slower version of “Star Guitar” and “Horse Power” sounds as if it were built from the bones of “Break Shake Bounce” and “Hey Boy Hey Girl.” The closest the album comes to a pop song is the blissed-out psychedelia of “Dissolve.” Not coincidentally, this is also the album’s finest moment.

Further is both admirable and damned frustrating. Rowlands and Simons only make music for themselves, and that is how it should be (they refrained from using guest performers this time around, which is a nice change of pace), but we’re beginning to see the limits of their range as songwriters. They’re also trying just a bit too hard to avoid anything that could be classified as Big Beat, even though those records were some of the best things they’ve ever done. It’s good to be true to yourself, but there are times when it’s not such a bad thing to give the people what they want. (Astralwerks 2010)

Chemical Brothers MySpace page
Click to buy Further from Amazon


Me, Myself, and iPod 6/16/10: Rock chalk Jayhawk

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Mark Olson – Little Bird of Freedom
As a longtime fan of the Jayhawks’ 1995 gem Tomorrow the Green Grass, I’ll do anything for Mark Olson, Gary Louris and Marc Perlman. The three are occasionally moonlighting as the Jayhawks – this after Louris personally told me when he was promoting his last solo album that the Jayhawks were done; thank goodness he was wrong – but this is from Olson’s upcoming solo album Many Colored Kite, due in late July.

The Silver Seas – Another Bad Night’s Sleep
Here’s the amazing thing about Chateau Revenge, the forthcoming sophomore effort from the Silver Seas: we’ve posted two great songs from the album for download (you can find the other one here), and we still haven’t touched my favorites from the album. Singer Daniel Tashian sounds a bit more like Rufus Wainwright on this one than his usual Jackson Browne baritone. It’s all good to me.

Hey Champ – Neverest
There are a lot of bands making valuable contributions to the new synth pop wave – the tricky part is finding them. For every band like Hey Champ, there are 20 shit bands who play vintage synthesizers and sneer a lot. That’s not synth pop; that’s just posing. These guys get it; their songs are based on songs, not attitude. And if you really want to get freaked out, check out the video for this song. Dolphin boobies!

Everything Everything – Schoolin’
Not to be confused with shit ’90s band Everything, who had that lame-ass song about seeing better days. This is a UK band that sounds like they’ve been spinning a lot of Neptunes productions. Funny that I keep comparing bands to other artists who haven’t sold any records, but the first person I thought of when I heard this was Kenna.

Crocodiles – Sleep Forever
I’m just going to assume that the band name came from the Echo & the Bunnymen song of the same name, because these guys have clearly heard a few Echo records. Big, jangly, quasi-psychedelic ’60s guitar rock song. Here’s hoping the full-length is just as good.

Olafur Arnalds – Tunglio (Moon)
Because even download columns need a come-down song. This string-kissed instrumental is heartbreakingly beautiful. Don’t be surprised if it winds up serving as the score to a “Grey’s Anatomy” montage in the fall.


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