White Lies: Ritual

RIYL: Bands that sound like Joy Division, Joy Division

Ritual, the sophomore album from freakishly pale London post-punkers White Lies, opens with “Is Love.” It is a love song about love that goes into great detail about how damn awesome falling in love feels. Is it a sign that the group of anemic goth London boys are looking up? Maybe they finally got some sun?

No. Don’t worry. While “Is Love” does extol the virtues of falling in love, nearly every other track on Rituals is a counterargument to that upbeat track, explaining in great detail why love is a hideous monster filled with dread and despair, and something that should be avoided at all costs.

On “Bigger Than Us,” lead singer Harry McVeigh worries that his significant other may be leaving him because she’s taking a different way home from work, “You’ve never taken that way with me before / Did you feel the need for change?” The somber tone of “Peace & Quiet” is a little more abstract, but its a safe bet that when he bemoans a “great pressure coming down on me,” he’s talking about love. He’s definitely talking about love on “Streetlights,” which opens with the oh-so-cheerful lyric “Hold tight for heartbreak, buckle up for loneliness.”

White Lies are mopey bastards, brought up in the school of Joy Division, combining sparse yet soaring riffs with dissonant melodies, all while McVeigh does his best to sound just like Ian Curtis. So yeah, they’re derivative without an ounce of originality in them. But they’re still fun in their own “I can’t believe they’re serious way.” Besides, there are far worse Joy Division rip off groups that you could listen to. On a scale of Interpol to She Wants Revenge, they’re definitely a high Editors. (Fiction 2011)

White Lies MySpace Page


Steal This Song: School of Seven Bells, “I L U”

I’ve been waiting for months to share this song with you. And if I actually read all of my email the day that I receive it – which is frankly impossible if I plan on getting anything else done – this post would have gone up a week ago. My bad.

From the moment I received the review copy of Disconnect from Desire, the fab new record from School of Seven Bells, I’ve been hounding my label contact about one song in particular: “I L U,” a pitch-perfect mid-tempo breakup song that will make Kevin Shields actually get My Bloody Valentine back together just so they can outdo it (though I doubt they actually could). I sent this song to a fellow UK alt rock-loving friend, and she said, “Wow. I’m 18 again.” Translation: extremely high praise. The vocal is one of those simple, ‘how did no one think of this before?’ kinds of things that many, many other bands could take an example from.

Tired of hearing me pimp the song? Fair enough. Go download it, and tell your friends.

School of Seven Bells – I L U

If you want to download a remix of the song, which will hit iTunes September 14 as part of the Heart Is Strange remix EP, you can get one if you’re willing to give up your email address. Go here to check ch-check check check, check it out.


Me, Myself, and iPod 4/28/10: The Silver Seas officially own our souls

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The original title of this post was going to be “Free Crowded House!,” as in I have their new single “Saturday Sun,” which they briefly made available on their web site. I’d repost it here, but that just doesn’t seem right. Plus, I’m loath to do anything that HMFIC, who’s a lawyer, would disapprove of. Sorry, guys. For what it’s worth, it’s good.

The Silver Seas – The Best Things in Life
Their first album, High Society, is one of my favorite albums of the 2000s. Their new one, Chateau Revenge, isn’t far behind, and who knows, it may eclipse its predecessor. It’s not quite as high on the ’70s AM radio sound as the first one, but is yet another first-rate batch of classic pop songs just the same.

April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Movie Loves a Screen
I just love this girl’s voice. Impossibly sunny, and what great pitch. She doesn’t dance around notes – she fucking hits them, hard. And what a sweet refrain. “I just want to mean something to you.” I love a little moon-eyed optimism. It’s a nice antidote to our snark-laden world.

Grosvenor – Taxi from the Airport
Think Joe Jackson’s “Stepping Out” covered by Double (of “Captain of Her Heart” fame), and you’re close. Sophisticated synth pop.

Trentemoller – Sycamore Feeling (Remix Edit)
Fans of Hooverphonic and Propaganda, take note. This moody slice of electro-pop is right in your wheelhouse.

Burning Hotels – To Whom It May Concern
Next time the Airborne Toxic Event is looking for an opening act, they’d be wise to pick these guys.

Kids of 88 – Ribbon of Light
Is it wrong of me for wishing MGMT’s new one sounded more like this?

The Brute Chorus – Could This Be Love?
Attention, Anglophiles. Here’s your next UK buzz band. I like this one because it has a little American swagger in it.

Lawrence Arabia – Apple Pie
Yep, I’m still a sucker for the power pop stuff. Sue me.


Me, Myself, and iPod 4/14/10: Amanda Palmer, the blowjob queen

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Big, big, big selection of free downloads this week. Let’s get to it, before any more songs show up.

Teenage Fanclub – Baby Lee
If your first impulse when you saw the words ‘Teenage Fanclub’ was to say something snarky like “They’re still making records?” – or worse, “Who’s Teenage Fanclub?” – may we suggest keeping your fool mouth shut and giving this tune a listen. They’re not as in love with the feedback as they were in their Bandwagonesque days, but this golden slice of sunny guitar pop has medicinal powers that those Jamba Juice energy boosts can only dream of.

Amanda Palmer – Do You Swear to Tell the Truth the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth So Help Your Black Ass
“When I was seventeen, I was a blowjob queen, picking up tips from the masters / I was so busy perfecting my art, I was clueless to what they were after / Now I’m still a blowjob queen, far more selectively / I don’t make love now to make people love me / But I don’t mind sharing my gift with the planet / We’re all gonna die, and a blowjob’s fantastic.” Note to self: arrange a meeting with Amanda Palmer.

Olney Clark – Tea and Thunderstorms
The orchestral pop market has been positively flooded with sensitive minstrels…really, really sensitive minstrels, if you know what we mean. (Most of them are sissies, all right?) This track from Olney Clark, a duo comprised of a Scot and a Yank, gets the balance just right. And better yet, it’s available in Amazon’s download store, even though the album is still only available as an import. Better move fast, though: those imports tend to get delisted pretty quickly.

Kate Miller-Heidke – Politics in Space
Take the drum beat from Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and give it to KT Tunstall’s well-read older sister, and this is what it would sound like. Love those lower register background vocals, and the stinging indictment, “The ’60s were 50 years ago, you know.” True, dat.

Emanuel and the Fear – Dear Friends
ELO, kiddies. And unlike Cheap Trick, we mean the pun in that first sentence, because any Lynnephiles will instantly take to this nifty piece of baroque pop.

Charlie Faye – Whirlwind
We will readily admit to approaching modern-day country with a healthy dose of skepticism; that country-pop stuff feels like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to us, which is why we’re happy to see someone like Charlie Faye come along. Her voice is weathered (yes, Charlie is a girl) but not whiskey-soaked, and she’s mounting a rather ambitious tour where she’ll spend a month in each city, form a band, play a show, and then move on to the next stop. We still haven’t heard her debut album Wilson St., but if it’s anything like “Whirlwind,” we’re sure going to check it out.

Echo & the Bunnymen – Proxy
As much as we love when the band takes the occasional detour into mellow groove territory like 1999’s What Are You Going to Do with Your Life, they’re at their best when they reach for the rafters. This song, from their album The Fountain, doesn’t scale the frenzied heights of songs like “Do It Clean,” but good luck getting that piano riff out of your head.

Codeiene Velvet Club – Hollywood
This swinging side project of Fratellis frontman Jon Fratelli is still in power rotation. A boy/girl album of songs that recall ’60s-era Hollywood, this shows that the Fratellis’ last album may not have hit the mark, but don’t write them off yet. Indeed, Codeine Velvet Club might be Fratelli’s finest moment yet.

Ex Norwegian – Fresh Pit
This Miami trio casually sent us a friend request on MySpace last week, and proceeded to knock our guitar pop socks off. We asked if they would send us their last album (they’re currently working on a new one), they did, and we were amazed at the band’s versatility. This tune should pacify those jonesing for Band of Horses’ upcoming album.

Deer Tick – Twenty Miles
Is it just us, or did about a dozen Deer bands hit the scene at the exact same time? Whatever the timing, there will be no mistaking Deer Tick from the rest of the pack after hearing this track from their upcoming album The Black Dirt Sessions. Singer John McCauley sounds like David Gray crossed with James Hetfield, and the band’s blend of Southern Gothic will have Joseph Arthur pissing with envy. Good stuff, this.


Me, Myself, and iPod: ESDMusic’s weekly free downloads

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We receive roughly 6,000 press releases per week that include links to mp3s that we are allowed to post for your downloading pleasure. Why haven’t we been posting more than one or two a month, you ask? Quite simply, by the time we get through all of the press releases, we’ve received another 6,000 emails with newer, “better” songs to run instead. It’s the kind of thing that can get away from someone if they’re not right on top of it.

This is our attempt to rectify the problem. Each week we will run a list of songs for your DRM-free downloading pleasure. And in the time it took us to type that last sentence, 15 more songs just came in. Geez.

The Futureheads – Struck Dumb
The band’s second album This Is Not the World was a bit of a non-starter, despite the fact that it should have appealed to anyone who liked the band’s post-punky debut. “Struck Dumb,” from the band’s upcoming third album The Chaos, still showcases the band’s trademark angular pop, but the edges are smoothed out a bit.

Deluka – Cascade (Acoustic Version)
This synth-pop band’s debut is set to drop later in the year, and this acoustic take on their self-titled EP’s best song is damned good. Usually we wrinkle our noses at acoustic versions of electronic songs, but this one works, and works well.

SPEAK – Digital Love
Everyone loves a cover, and this ultra-sheen pop rock band (think Cash Cash) surprised the crowds at South by Southwest with a faithful take on a track from Daft Punk’s seminal Discovery album. Sure, the keytar solo could have been handled a little better, but we bet this was fun to watch when it happened.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round
Rare is the song that carries both a haunted, gothic feel (think Joseph Arthur gothic, not Bauhaus gothic) and a sunny, ’70s mellow gold vibe as well, but this song does just that.

In Tall Buildings – The Way to a Monster’s Lair
We’ll be honest: this is the first we’ve heard of either NOMO or Erik Hall. But one spin of this moody but driving track has us wanting more. Anyone looking for a good breakup song would be wise to check this out.

Kaiser Cartel – Ready to Go
Boy/girl duos: they’re the new animal band name. Still, as trends go, this boy/girl thing is a pretty damn good one (The Bird and the Bee, Mates of State, Codeine Velvet Club, Matt & Kim, She & Him, the Ting TIngs), and now that it’s become a movement of its own, perhaps Kaiser Cartel can seize the opportunity to jump to the next level. If “Ready to Go” is any indication, they are poised to pick up a lot more fans when their album Secret Transit drops in June.