I really liked Day Sleeper‘s full-length, “Drop Your Sword,” from last year or the year before. But I like this new ep, “Wonderland Kid,” even more.

Maybe it’s just that the ep is shorter and more focused. Or maybe it’s because, with most of the tracks recorded live either on stage or in the WERS studio, the band’s true personality comes through stronger. But whatever the cause may be, all five tracks on this new release sound great to me: from the tentative-decisionness (if you will) of the opener “Wait Stay,” to the comic/tragic poetry of “Maggie May I,” to the melancholic longing of the title track and the brilliant “Windows Left Open” (which this writer compares, quite rightly I think, to Proust), to the shoegazy live closer “You Knew.”

In sum, “Wonderland Kid” captures a maturing band just beginning to hit its stride. Savor the moment, while looking ahead to what’s yet to come.

Download the mp3s from the band’s myspace page.

Gabe Goodman – Conundrummer

February 15, 2010

Gabe Goodman is a local musician with a unique vocal style and an apparent gift for writing songs that are catchy, witty, or otherwise just plain great. Both talents set him apart from the crowd.

He lists Jeff Tweedy as an influence, and so I’m tempted to say yes, kind of like Wilco, but much more interesting. The resemblance is even closer to Chas. Mtn, whose album “Hugs” from 2006 remains one of my all-time local favorites.

Anyway, he’s got a short lp — 8 songs and under 30 minutes — out called “Conundrummer.” You can listen to two of the best tracks, “Ceiling” and “Cops at Crystal Lake,” or even download the entire thing from free, from his myspace page.

Au Revior Simone – Tell Me

February 13, 2010

Tons more, great like this one, at They Shoot Music.

You could call it WhFr2 if chemistry’s your key to better living. But I’ll call it Wh(Fr)2; because there are two full lps worth of great music on this Whitehaus compilation, and its awesomeness seems to increase exponentially with the number of disks.

With excellent contributions by The Woodrow Wilsons, Ambitious Tugboat, Gracious Calamity, Turtle Ambulance, Manners, The Meadowlarks, The Needy Visions, Truman PeyoteAna Fox Rochinski, and Many Mansions, just to name a few.

Listening to this new album, “Bridge Carols,” brings to mind images of the return of spring. And also, maybe, a quiet place in the country to get some clear thinking done.

Laura Gibson’s vocals, and other instruments, filtered through Ethan Rose’s electronics, like breeze through the tall grass.

A brilliant collaboration, through which one plus one definitely equals more than two.

Download one of the best tracks, “Younger,” and stream the entire lp from the “Bridge Carols” website.

Gigi – Maintenant

February 7, 2010

Some might accuse me of being nostalgic for the 1960s by writing about this new lp by Gigi this week and the Keb Darge/Paul Weller disk last. Perhaps so, but it is also true that both are excellent new records that rank among the very best I’ve heard lately.

The story behind Gigi, apparently, goes like this. Colin Stewart, who as it turns out has produced some of my very favorite albums in recent years, including those by Pink Mountaintops, Black Mountain, Young and Sexy, and especially Destroyer, joins forces with Nick Krgovich from No Kids to compose some songs that have a retro-60s vibe, to take advantage of some newly-acquired vintage studio equipment. Then, an all-star cast, including but not limited to Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls, Rose Melberg, Owen Pallett, Karl Blau, and the always-wonderful Mirah, signs on to provide the vocal performances.

Most impressively, the lp manages to avoid the kind-of-half-finished sound that plagues a lot of side projects and wide collaborations. Though the revolving cast of vocalists means that each track has its own special personality, the whole record sounds remarkably, consistently great. And though Stewart and Krgovich draw their inspiration from 60s-era pop music, many of their guests bring in key elements of the sound of the Pacific Northwest/K Records scene as well, adding dimensions that make the songs truly original and not mere tributes, though worthy tributes in part they are.

All of which brings me to the title: though influenced by the past, this lp is very much of the here and now. Tres tres bien!

Four Tet - There is Love in You - Domino Records (2010)

What I find most interesting about this new lp by Four Tet is how it plays around with opposites. These are dance tracks that you can meditate to. Built around electronics that, somehow, give the music an incredibly organic feel. And conjure up images of unexplored landscapes, uninhabited at first glance and so to whom do those disembodied voices belong: real people or ghosts?

All that’s what makes it my favorite Four Tet album so far.