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New Music: Pikelet: "A Bunch" [MP3]

In just a couple of years, Evelyn Morris has gone from drumming in hardcore bands to being named as the opening act for Sufjan Stevens' upcoming Australian tour. Under her Pikelet alias, which shares its name with an Australian word for "pancake," the Melbourne-based artist records layered, percussion-heavy ambient pop that makes her transition seem perfectly natural. Take "A Bunch", from Morris' self-titled 2007 Pikelet debut on Chapter Music (the Melbourne imprint that's also home to previously Forkcast, Jens Lekman-approved indie-popper Sly Hats).

On this song, Morris puts gently murmured lyrics about "making out" over a thumping kick drum, toms, and tambourine, while twinkling harp strums and her own ghostly backing harmonies close in around her. "To all of those that I've loved so dear," she begins, about a minute in, with delicate, unusual phrasing. As the track continues, the words become a mantra, and delay effects give the primarily acoustic affair some additional druggy atmospherics. It could be an offbeat koan for romantic Aussie adolescents as easily as a pop song, and like a pancake, it can be enjoyed anytime, morning or midnight.

MP3:> Pikelet: "A Bunch"
[from Pikelet; out now on Chapter Music]

Posted by Marc Hogan on Thu: 12-13-07: 02:25 PM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
On Repeat: Telepathe: "Chrome's On It" [MP3/Stream]

Look into the minds of Telepathe (pronounced "Telepathy", but you knew that) and you might see hippies chanting, morning dew glistening like shoegaze ambience, or a gang gang dancing like the cast of "Soul Train" fucked up on ecstasy and Björk. The Brooklyn group of Busy Gangnes, First Nation's Melissa Livaudais, and Ryan Lucero have turned each of those visions into aural reality over just a handful of official releases to date. "Chromes On It"-- which will appear in slightly different form on the band's forthcoming full-length debut, produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek and expected sometime next year-- finds Telepathe merging a few of those disparate impulses into some kind of chant-encircled alien abstraction of post-FutureSex pop.

Recorded with former Don Caballero bassist and current Good Morning guitarist Eric Emm at his studio, the track develops out of distorted, guitar-like synths and electronic percussion that stutters and pans left to right but always hovers around the edges of the beat. Higher-pitched synths zip and unzip overhead. As for Gangnes and Livaudais, they don't sing much differently than they probably speak; although obscured a bit by the round-like melody and elliptical lyrics, their subject here seems to be just the typical pop, hip-hop, or r&b scenario of meeting a potential lover on a night out. "We can do the real bang bang/ But first you gotta know my name," they sing. The Spice Girls would probably appreciate the sentiment, but it's just as easy to see why TV on the Radio's Sitek might've been drawn to the post-apocalyptic production. And when Telepathe sing about "taking over", a DJ Khaled mash-up creates itself in my head. Listen!

MP3:> Telepathe: "Chrome's on It"
[via MySpace; the Farewell Forest EP is out now on Social Registry]

Posted by Marc Hogan on Thu: 12-13-07: 12:28 PM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
New Music: Blood on the Wall: "Junkeee...Julieee..." [Stream]

Blood on the Wall's Awesomer made Nick Sylvester gushingly nostalgic for his own personal early-1990s, as remembered in 2005. "Junkeee...Julieee...", from the Brooklyn trio's forthcoming third album, Liferz, has me nostalgic (in a good way) for Awesomer. Brother-sister songwriting duo Brad and Courtney Shanks, plus drummer Miggy Littleton, are still scratching the museum polish off of the throat-rending loud-soft stonedness of your favorite 90s indie-rockers in a way I totally would've dug back when I was texting Nick terrified last-minute questions about track reviews ("mp3 for that Grizz Bear rmx?") round about when Awesomer dropped. It sounds pretty good now, too.

In fact, if "Junkeee...Julieee..." feels so familiar you think you've heard it before, well, you might not just be lapsing into premature senility. The track appeared in a rough, live take on The Believer's 2006 music-issue compilation CD (compiled by Matthew Derby and Pitchfork writer Brandon Stosuy). On Liferz, this whoa-ohing tale of a "picture perfect" junkie who just won't quit (and needs the narrator to hold/load her up) doesn't have quite the same lo-fi scraggliness, but that's OK. With a trilling, goofily thrilling guitar solo and dank Velvets-y narcotic rush, it's still-- how Pixies say?-- gigantic. You can't go back and remake that I-like-you mix for Casey G., but you can make something new to get nostalgic about.

[from Liferz; due 01/22/08 on The Social Registry]

Posted by Marc Hogan on Thu: 12-13-07: 10:30 AM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
Videos: Ike Turner: Various Songs

Ike Turner died yesterday at the age of 76. It's hard to give the man his due. Despite having a claim to the earliest rock'n'roll recording with the Kings of Rhythm's 1951 hit "Rocket 88", people still think it all began with Elvis. Even today, Ike is a cheap punchline for unimaginative comedians like Tyler Perry and is better known for abusing his wife and serving time than for making music. But he was an ace bandleader and a solid musical foil for Tina Turner, who sings the hell out these songs. Instead of glamorizing or romanticizing, let's simply acknowledge a man who contributed a great deal to popular music and who kept playing piano and guitar like a badass until his death.

Ike & Tina Turner: Medley (The Big TNT Show; date unknown)
(Please note: Best. Choreography. Ever.)

Ike & Tina Turner: "I Smell Trouble" (Soul to Soul Concert; 1971)

Ike Turner: "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (Montreaux Jazz Festival; 2002)

Ike Turner: Unidentified Pinetop Perkins Song (Green Bay Rockin' Fifties Fest; 2005)

Posted by Stephen M. Deusner on Thu: 12-13-07: 09:00 AM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
Video: The Clientele: "I Had to Say This" (fan video)

We've seen new music videos created by editing existing films, now here's the next step: placing the visuals from one video with the song of another. I'm not sure why someone decided to pair the video for the Tough Alliance's "A New Chance", a clip that made our Top 50 Music Videos of 2007 list, with the Clientele's "I Had to Say This". And obviously there is nothing skillful about the editing here-- the song ends early, and the rest of the story continues in silence. But dammit, it works. The song's chiming guitars, heavily reverbed voice, and tinny drums that sound like rain falling on cardboard perfectly capture the simple romance of a motor scooter ride through the countryside. All it needed was a fade-out-- maybe next time.
[from Suburban Light; out now on Merge]

Posted by Mark Richardson on Thu: 12-13-07: 08:00 AM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
Video: Feist [ft. members of Grizzly Bear]: "1234" (Live on the "Today Show")

As she did when she played this song on Letterman back in August, Ms. Feist enlisted indie rock notables to help her with "1234", one of the songs that came to define "2007". Returning to provide background vocals and handclaps are members of Grizzly Bear, dressed in spiffy, er, letterman sweaters. (via Brooklyn Vegan)
[from The Reminder; out now on Interscope]

Posted by Mark Richardson on Wed: 12-12-07: 03:47 PM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
New Music: The Depreciation Guild: "Sky Ghosts" [MP3/Stream]

Photo by Katelyn Roof

The Depreciation Guild is a duo based in Brooklyn, who combine 8-bit electronics and overdriven guitars in a classic nu-gaze style. "Sky Ghosts" packs the midrange full with all sorts of shimmery textures-- the lo-res digital snares land with a static-laden splash, ringing guitars are haloed in harmonics, and stretched along the back is a fluttering curtain of white noise. Voices are buried but not mumbled-- for a band in this sphere, the singing is uncommonly melodic and direct. The billowy sound owes something to the presence of Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv on the mixing board, who also mixed Apparat's way-underrated Walls, one of the best-sounding records of this past year. This production isn't up to that standard (the aesthetic is much more bedroom, obviously), but "Sky Ghosts" is certainly a nice track to get lost in. The whole album In Her Gentle Jaws, which includes this track, is available for free download from the band.

MP3:> The Depreciation Guild: "Sky Ghosts"
[from In Her Gentle Jaws; available now as a free download]

Posted by Mark Richardson on Wed: 12-12-07: 01:30 PM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
Video: Dave Gahan: "Saw Something"

I prefer this song to "Kingdom", the video for which we discussed here a while back. People of my generation have been deeply imprinted with Gahan's voice in angsty ballad mode, it just does something to us, brings us back to that vulnerable adolescent place where nothing could speak like to us like Depeche Mode. It's such a powerful reflex it can make you forget about stuff like this lame guitar break. As for the video, well-- it's dark, curtains are pulled open in slow-mo, and something heavy seems to be lurking around every corner.
[from Hourglass, out now on Mute]

Posted by Mark Richardson on Wed: 12-12-07: 11:26 AM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
New Music: Hey Willpower: "In The Basement" [MP3/Stream]

Will Schwartz's day job as frontman for Imperial Teen has always provided ample opportunity to show off his pop chops-- albeit in a messy, sort of subversive way. But now that he has teamed up with fellow San Franciscan Tomo Yasuda, keyboardist for electro nerds Tussle, he can really explore the computerized textures, sugary choruses, and cleanly produced, danceable beats that make up today's true pop songs-- the sort that are found on commercial radio. In fact, many of the songs on the duo's debut (which, though available in Europe since 2006, is just now getting its Stateside release) pulse with envy of Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson or Rihanna's "Umbrella."

In lesser hands this would come off as ironic, a winking nod to the prevailing pop culture in the guise of criticism. But Schwartz and Yasuda clearly have an earnest love for this stuff. So instead of tarting up "In The Basement" in neon or giving it an acid wash, Hey Willpower play it straight, right down to the panting orgasm of its extended outro. With the buzzing, glossy synths and itchy, thick beats of Britney Spears' "Toxic," the track feels similarly dirty and forbidden-- it is after all about sneaking away for illicit nookie-- and yet strangely scrubbed clean for maximum consumption. Few could get away with such silly syllables as "We could do it like Mr. Clean and you could wink at me" or "We'll shake and bake it," but Schwartz's delivery-- which at once deadpan and in heat-- makes them totally believable.

MP3:> Hey Willpower: In the Basement"
[from P.D.A., due 01/22/08 on Tomlab]

Posted by Rebecca Raber on Wed: 12-12-07: 09:38 AM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
New Music: Rahim: "The Same" [Stream]

With knotty plods like "Something from an Amputee" at one end of the spectrum and sturdy pop like "Forever Love" at the other, Brooklyn's Rahim compressed Ian MacKaye's Fugazi-to-Evens creative arc into their Dischord-flavored debut, Ideal Lives. Despite the material's simultaneity and the fact that Rahim sounded equally comfortable sculpting in rusty barbed wire and stiffened gauze, the MacKaye template made "Forever Love" sound like Rahim's future. New single "The Same", also streaming at the band's MySpace, tentatively bears this out: Like "Forever Love", it's unrepentantly linear, with drum thwacks and orderly ranks of acoustic chords marching in metronomic 4/4 time. Instead of twisting time signatures and splintering guitars for color, we get opiated funk-bass and vapor-trail synths. Stasis is as stasis does, but even a dollop of mobile melody or dramatic development would've gone a long way toward moving around the stagnant air in this song-- as it is, nothing stirs.

Stream:> Rahim: "The Same"
[from the "The Same" 7"; out now on Dimension Arts]

Posted by Brian Howe on Wed: 12-12-07: 08:00 AM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
Premiere: Xiu Xiu: "I Do What I Want When I Want" [MP3/Stream]

Darkness becomes Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart. One of the San Francisco-based warbler's most maniacal, sadomasochist moments came on a track called "Ian Curtis Wishlist". Gender-bending suits him, too-- see the same album's "Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl" or last year's The Air Force's "Hello From Au Claire", the latter sung by longtime Xiu Xiu multi-instrumentalist Caralee McElroy. For a singer who at his best can seem like a kind of gothic Morrissey, with tremulous vocals akin to those of Antony Hegarty, a new album entitled Women as Lovers (after a 1994 novel by Nobel Prize-winning Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek) looks to be a tantalizing opportunity for both.

Jelinek's work has been dismissed by some as pornography, and Xiu Xiu's music also openly expresses emotions and situations that are typically tidied up or repressed. Women as Lovers opener "I Do What I Want When I Want" suggests Xiu Xiu's musical experimentation is not yet done, as distorted do-do-dos, whistles, feedback, skronky sax, and what sounds like harmonium spar with pick-heavy guitar downstrokes and Stewart's fluttering whispers. The setting begins with "a dream about loss", and no amount of fancy verbiage or off-kilter instrumentation can mask the sense made explicit in Jelinek's novel: that, man or woman, nightmare or daydream, loss and love both hurt. You might be surprised to hear D.H. Lawrence novel Women in Love isn't all sugar and spice, either.

MP3:> Xiu Xiu: "I Do What I Want When I Want"
[from Women As Lovers; due 01/29/07 on Kill Rock Stars]

Posted by Marc Hogan on Tue: 12-11-07: 03:30 PM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
Video: Tone Loc and Peaches: "Wild Thing (Peaches RMX)"

Dan Leroy's book Paul's Boutique goes into some detail about the origins of Delicious Vinyl, the independent hip-hop label founded in L.A. by Matt Dike (he later worked on the the Beastie Boys record and was an associate of the Dust Brothers) and Michael Ross. The L.A. scene during the late 1980s was weird and exciting, and it's worth a read. Delicious Vinyl was huge there for a few years, with smash singles from Tone Loc and Young MC, along with some awesome records by the Pharcyde a bit later. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Delicious Vinyl commissioned Peaches to remix the iconic "Wild Thing", and here's a video her and Loc rocking the tune at a label party. The whole thing is goofy and way over the top-- hey, it's Peaches and Ton Loc, what do you expect?-- which suits the song perfectly. Bucky Fukumoto directs.
[From the "Wild Thing (Peaches RMX)" single; out now on Delicious Vinyl]

Posted by Mark Richardson on Tue: 12-11-07: 03:21 PM CST | Digg this article | Add to | Permalink
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