Tuesday, 29 March 2011

new tracks // Death Cab For Cutie, Panda Bear, Fucked Up, tUnE-yArDs, Burial, Big K.R.I.T., Taking Back Sunday & Fleet Foxes

Death Cab For Cutie - You Are A Tourist
As if you needed any assurance that Death Cab's upcoming full-length Codes and Keys (out May 31st) was going to be one of this year's best, here's a preview track from it - You Are A Tourist. As per usual, there's nothing overly complicated about it, but it just works so so well. Ben Gibbard's voice is one of the most distinctive and effectual in Indie today, and coupled with the upbeat harmonies and drums of the track, as well as the contagious guitar riff....winning.

Animal Collective are a band who've never made any bones about the side projects of their members. All extremely talented musicians in their own right, the 4 of them have each contributed a track to a cassette that you've got to buy with a pair of shoes, through Keep. Weird concept...cool music. Here's Panda Bear's effort.

Fucked Up - The Other Shoe
Fucked Up seem to have thie unique ability to completely defy genres....it's very rare to find a band loved by Indie, Metal, Rock, and Hardcore fans in equal measures. Well they seem to be aiming to break down more walls with upcoming '18-track punk opera', David Comes to Life, out June 7th. While 'interesting' will likely be the word on many people's lips when it comes to describing the album, first glimpse The Other Shoe suggests that it could be really quite brilliant too.

tUnE-yArDs - Powa
So I may have been going a bit OTT on this lot recently, but I just find there's something so captivatingly weird/brilliant about Oakland CA's tUnE-yArDs, and in particular vocalist Merril Garbus. Powa tends to plod along a little and doesn't neccessarily have the energy of excitement factor of Bizness, but frankly, what does? Another extract from upcoming w h o k i l l, out April 19th through 4AD.

Though slightly tainted by the DJs' incessant natterings over the top, Stolen Dog and Street Halo are ominous signs of things to come from the untouchable Burial. Hyperdub are apparently releasing a 20-minute EP shortly, featuring these 2 tracks.

Big K.R.I.T. - Country Shit (Remix) ft. Ludacris
Mississippi's Big K.R.I.T. has been so kind as to give away new mixtape ReturnOf4Eva in exchange for just an email address from his website. What I've heard so far doesn't seem to quite reach the lofty heights of his material on last year's sublime K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, although I'm loving this remix of Country Shit - one of my favorite songs of last year, across any genre. He's even managed to rope in Luda to do his thang on the track.

Taking Back Sunday - El Paso
Maaaaan, I thought I'd kicked this whiole emo thing. Apparently not, as I just couldn't resist posting on Taking Back Sunday's new jam El Paso. As a band I grew up listening to, I think they're one of the few groups in the genre still around today who are making music of quality and integrity. I can 100% guarantee that not everyone will agree with this however....

Fleet Foxes - Bedouin Dress
Whether it's an intentional strategy or not, cuts from Fleet Foxes' upcoming Helplessness Blues seem to be flooding on to the web. All very encouraging stuff, and one track that I heard this morning in particular, Lorelai, is a beaut. In the absense of an MP3 or Soundcloud link to post, this'll have to wait, but for now here's Bedouin Dress - not their strongest to date, but still enough to whet the appetiate a little sum'n.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Morning Benders // Japan Echo EP

Following the tragic occurences in Japan over the past few weeks, Brooklyn's The Morning Benders have launched a fantastic new initiative to raise money for the Japan Society's Eathquake Relief Fund - offering a new 8-track EP in exchange for donations starting at $5. Not only is this a great cause, but it's also a top EP - featuring two new tracks Better in Blue and Little Riot, as well as remixes of tracks from big Big Echo from some of the best remixers in the game, including Star Slinger, RAC, and Wild Nothing. You can stream a few of the tracks below, and head to their website to make a donation and download the EP.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Although not traditionally considered as one of the UK's musical hot spots, Newcastle has recently been pumping out nuff talent - predominantly of the Indie variety. Little Comets are problaby the most well known example in recent years, but bands such as Mammal Club, Vinyl Jacket, and Let's Buy Happiness are further case studies of a city currently on a run.

Well you can now add Polarsets to that list. They remind me Two Door Cinema Club in a number of ways - the vocals of Rob Howe, the angular, stabbing guitars, and the general youthful exhuberance of their sound, but they also incorporate a tropical/afrobeat vibe - not dissimmilar to the aforementioned Little Comets.

Download a few of their tracks below, including a great remix by Thomas Sasgtad and Hawkins, and stream a couple of others including the Kitsune released Sunshine Eyes. I get the feeling these guys would be a lot of fun to see in a live setting too, so be sure to check out whether they'll be playing a town near you.

Polarsets - Morning
Polarsets - Leave Argentina
Polarsets - Leave Argentina (Thomas Sasgtad and Hawkins Remix)

tUnE-yArDs // Bizness vid + new track

Possibly my favorite song of the year so far, tUnE-yArDs have just premiered a suitably bizarre video for Bizness. 

I can't wait to hear upcoming album w h o k i l l, out April 18th - it's going to be all kinds of mental. Another cut from the album, entitled Gangsta, surfaced a few weeks ago. I'm struggling to get my head round it, although there's no denying the infectiousness of that chorus. I think that could be a common theme for the albums - tracks that finely tread the line between genius and atrocious.  

tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

new Friendly Fires

St Albans' Friendly Fires are set to follow up their massively successful 2008 debut with new album Pala, out May 16th through XL Recordings. New single Live Those Days Tonight provides a sneak peak into what's to come, and if it's anything to go by then the band's contagious brand of balearic disco is showing no signs of slowing up. With the sun streaming in through the window this morning, I can picture listening to this, half-cut at a summer festival....it can't come soon enough.   

Friendly Fires - Live Those Days Tonight

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

new tracks // White Denim, Cults, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Bear Driver, The Chemical Brothers

White Denim - Anvil Everything
Woah, this has got me extremely stoked for upcoming album D, out May 24th. Previous preview track Drug left me feeling a little underwhelmed, but this...this pushes all the right buttons for me. White Denim at their techincal and contructively-erratic best.

Cults had to be one of last years most hyped bands - their contagious, uplifting brand of dream-pop turning many a head across both sides of the Atlantic. Wall of Sound won't have done anything for this rep leading up to their self-titled debut, out May 30th. The song starts in a blissfully relaxed, meandering fashion, while the chorus retains a Pop-y element but seamlessly introduces cruchy guitars and swirling electronics to give it a wall-of-sound feel. Awesome.    

Another band with an upcoming debut under a large weight of expectation are Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., who take their name from a NASCAR driver...as you do. Morning Thought is a track off It's a Coroprate World, due June 7th, and is a lovely mix of Folk, Psychedelic and Indie.

Bear Driver - Enemy
Bear Driver are a 6-piece from London, by way of Leeds, who sound remarkably like Arcade Fire. But if you're going to sound like anyone, why not the Canadian Grammy-slayers? This is some really high-quality, intellegent Indie music with expertly harmonised, mixed gender vocals, bright instrumentals, and possibly the best whistling since Mike and the Mechanics. That chorus is a catchy one too, mind. 
The Chemical Brothers - Hanna's Theme (vocal version)
If you're going to challenge Daft Punk, you need to do it well. Fortunately, in composing the score for upcoming film Hanna, The Chemical Brothers haven't just done that, but if anything they're probably done it better than DP (unfortunate acronym, their fault not mine) from what I've heard. Hanna's Theme is one cut from the movie, and is nothing short of stunning. 

new Fleet Foxes

Got some more Fleet Foxes for ya! Last month they gave us a sneak preview of upcoming album Helplessness Blues with the title track, and they've just given another insight with the strangely named Battery Kinzie, premiered yesterday evening by excitable kiwi Zane Lowe. This cut is a more upbeat, foot-stomper of a jam, not far removed from what The Low Anthem did so well on Smart Flesh - although comparing Fleet Foxes to others seems almost disrespectful. Helplessness Blues will see the light of day on May 3rd through Sub Pop.

Fleet Foxes - Battery Kinzie

Monday, 21 March 2011

High Highs

I don't know whether this is a movement or a coincidence, but there seem to be a variety of bands emerging out of the States at the moment with a post-Grizzly Bear feel to them. Plenty of emphasis on the raw sound of the acoustic guitar, yet with a psychedelic edge and dreamy consistency, while maintaining a really high vocal quality. We Are Trees were one such band that started making waves towards the end of last year, and more recently New York's equally-promising High Highs have been making a name for themselves. Two duo show a remarkable music maturity considering their ages, as well as a formidable appreciation of effective vocal harmonies. One more reason I'm bummed out that I could make SXSW....as if I needed any more.

High Highs - Flowers Bloom
High Highs - Horses
High Highs - Open Season

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Strokes // Angles preview

Angles, the 4th full-length from New York Indie deities The Strokes, finally surfaces this coming Tuesday March 22nd. There have already been a number of tracks popping up on the internet in anticipation of the release (a few of which can be downloaded below), starting with Under Cover of Darkness - still the most promising cut yet. The album can be streamed in full from The Strokes' website, and listening through it now it seems like the guys have reverted back to the style that made 2001's Is This It? such a hit. Taking on such an iconic effort is never going to be easy, even if you are the bunch that crafted it in the first place, and from the first couple of listens it sounds like they're struggling to replicate its quality. Nevertheless it's still an enjoyable listen, and a cut above the armies of Strokes-replicant bands. Two Kinds of Happiness, Taken For A Fool, and Life is Simple in the Moolight seem like other choice cuts from the album.    

The Strokes - Machu Picchu
The Strokes - Taken For a Fool
The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness

Menomena // TAOS video

Although Menomena's 2010 album Mines wasn't quite consistent enough to ensure a place in many publications's Top 5's of the year, the quality of some of the tracks in undeniable - TAOS possibly even the best of them. This new video sees the lead dude biting off way more than he can chew with the ladies, and subsequently getting his ass served. Top track, great video.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


The advantage of music discovery through a relatively faceless medium such as the Hype Machine is the sheer quality of tracks that can pass your ears in any given day. The disadvantage of music discovery through a relatively faceless medium such as the Hype Machine is the sheer quality of tracks that can pass BY your ears in any given day.

While I like to think I've defined my ear over the years to more often than not pick a good track first time up, the reality is that strong songs will often pass me by, either to be rediscovered later, or completely vanish into the black hole that is the internet. NewVillager's Lighthouse was not one of them. And with the intro that it has, was never going to be overlooked, even for a second. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this is one of the best, most individual tracks by a new artist I've heard in some time. The Brooklyn duo make contagiously upbeat, quirky Indie Pop awash with triumphant strings, instrumentation, and layered vocals. TV on the Radio seem to be an influence from a creativity perspective, but really it's redundant trying to compare these chaps to anyone as this is very much a NewVillager sound. Love this shit.

Check the video for Lighthouse below, and below that you can download the track, as well as an older song Rich Doors.

NewVillager - Lighthouse
NewVillager - Rich Doors

Burial x Four Tet x Thom Yorke

Nope, not a track by each of them, a track by all of them! Hottest menage a trois in (musical) history? They'll be releasing a 12" on March 21st (I wonder which of them had the idea to make it so short notice....) featuring two tracks including Ego below. Unfortunately it's just a radio rip, but you can still get a measure of the outstanding quality of this collaboration, which takes equal parts of each act's stylings and fuses them excellently.

Burial, Four Tet & Thom Yorke - Ego

Thursday, 10 March 2011

San Cisco

I'm 24 years old....a statement that seemed unfathomable years back. I mean...that's pretty old. Sure, it's not REALLY old. I mean, there have existed older people throughout time. But you compare that to the carefree youth I was...it's pretty old.

And on the subject of carefree youth, I present to you Freemantle, Western Australia's San Cisco. 17 year old Jordi and 18 year old Josh are the main songwiters and vocalists, and the outfit is completed by Scarlett on drums and Nick on bass. On the weekends they play Snes, skateboard and, when they can be arsed, pen fantastic Indie Pop full to the brim with youthful exhuberance, inescapably cheerful melodies and instrumentals, and staggering artistic nouse given their ages.

They've already played Australia's Big Day Out and Laneway festivals, received airplay on Triple J radio around Australia, produced an EP with Matthew Chequer (Little Birdy) and Steven Schram (Little Red, Cat Empire, Little Birdy), and are due to play Brighton's Great Escape Festival. Not bad going ey?

San Cisco - Golden Revolver
San Cisco - Girls Do Cry

new tracks // Clock Opera, The Good Natured, Okkervil River, jj, Joan As Police Woman, Here We Go Magic

Clock Opera - Belongings (via Soundcloud)
Belongings only further enhances Clock Opera's reputation as one of the most promising bands in the UK right now. These guys have such a mature sound, and I'm yet to hear a song of theirs which is anything short of brilliant. The piano lines in this track are awesome, and it builds so well towards the anthemic explosion towards the end of the song. Out soon on Moshi Moshi.

The Good Natured - Wolves
Another hugely promising Brit with a realy strong repertoir of tracks to date. Wolves occupies a great space between commercial and musically accomplished, and keeps her well on track to become the UK's, and world's, next Electro Pop starlet.

Okkervil River - Wake and Be Fine
Okkervil River have Indie Rock down to a tee. Such an accomplished sound..like they could write any old shit and it would still sound brilliant. Fortunately, their song writing is far far from that, and the vocal melody and piano chords of Wake And Be Fine bode very well for upcoming album I Am Very Far - released May 9th through Jagjaguwar.

jj - The End
From absolutely nowhere...jj drop a new track on us. There didn't seem to be any advance warning, or really any album that the song is building towards - but, whatever. The End samples Swedish act Rebecca & Fiona’s Bullets, and sees them at their ethereal best - with rolling drums and sweeping strings to boot. How do these Scandanavians capture ambience so well?!  
Joan as Police Woman - Magic
This is actually the first I've heard of Joan As Police Woman, but mos def won't be the last. Magic has rightly blown up all over the internet, bloggers and critics captivated by her sultry, soulful vocals. She also shows that instrumentals don't have to be complicated...that 3-note synth part in the chorus is one of the most infectious riffs I've heard in recent times. The song is off recent album The Deep Field.
Here We Go Magic - Hands in the Sky
Watch out, curveball...Here We Go Magic's The January EP will see a May 10th release date through Secretly Canadian. Intentional mindfuck? Longer-than-anticipated recording process? We'll never know. What we do know however is that it will be 6 tracks, penned around the same time as their 2010 LP Pigeons. And what I predict is that it'll be brilliant, if the gentle, textured, krautrock-influenced Hands In The Sky is anything to go by.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The National // Conversation 16 video

The National

Ah, to have a video budget! The National have roped in Kristen Schaal (Mel from Flight Of The Conchords), John Slattery (Mad Men) and James Urbaniak (The Office) for the vid to Conversation 16. As one of the best tracks of last year, it needed a formidable video to do it justice. While the names certainly do that, the video is also an entertaining watch tho I think the symbolism's been completely lost on me...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Venus Illuminato

Why choose between playing Folk OR Rock'n'Roll, when you can play Folk AND Rock'n'Roll? That was presumably the thinking behind The Venus Illuminato's mission statement, and what a bout of inspiration it was.

The writing team of Brandon Kennedy and Rob Franco, joined by Chris Tressieris (bass), Jamie Saunders (violin), and Lauren “Feather” Levin (percussion), are soon to release their 2nd EP Children of the Earth, and a couple of tracks from the EP can be heard below. Both have very different feels to them, and it's always good to see a band who can pull off a diverse range of sounds. The title track is based around bouncy piano and bass lines, and is the considerably more Pop'y of the two. Not to say the band have contstructed this one specifically for radio...it's over 6 minutes long...but it's a track that can be cherished by muso's and everyday radio listeners alike. The time absolutely flies by, and actually leaves you feeling like it could've been longer....

Well, if you felt the same way about Children of the Earth then you'll be glad to know that Civil War Ballad clocks in at a whopping 9 minutes 22 seconds, but really it could last all day and I'd be more than happy. The word 'epic' is heinously over-used these days, but fuck it....this song is epic. Starting with a darker dose of acoustic guitar with added strings for dramatic effect, the chorus is huge and soaring, for the first time illustrating just what a brilliant set of pipes Franco owns. The track then breaks down around the 3 minute mark, and what ensues is a flurry of strings and drums, followed by a frantic minute long guitar solo....'solo' barely doing this fret wizardry justice. A bridge builds the song into a second guitar solo to rival the first, before exploding into a chorus and outro which fittingly brilliantly brings to a close one of the best songs I've heard in quite some time. And breathe....  

The Venus Illuminato - Children of the Earth

The Venus Illuminato - Civil War Ballad

Jack Steadman

So Jack Steadman has just gone an elevated himself into genius status. Not only is he the frontman of Bombay Bicycle Club - one of the best British Indie bands in recent years - but, having left his mark on both the Indie and Acoustic scenes with two top albums in as many years, has tried his hand at Electronic music....and slayed it. Check out his newest jam I Will Change You below, and check out the other few tracks he's put up on his Soundcloud page.

Jack Steadman - I Will Change You

Sunday, 6 March 2011

U.S. Royalty - Mirrors

Artist: U.S. Royalty
Album: Mirrors
Released: January 25th '11

From: Washington DC, USA

John Thornley
Paul Thornley
Jacob Michael
Luke Adams 

RIYL: The Black Keys, Band of Horses, The Killers

It may just be a trans-Atlantic distance thing, but U.S. Royalty have seemed to come from nowhere. Since hearing Flosstradamus' brilliantly worked remix of their track Equestrian for the first time just a few weeks ago however, I rapidly initiated some investigatory work and discovered not just a couple of stand-out tracks, but an absolute gem of a debut album.    

The songs on Mirrors vary from blissful, expertly harmonised Acoustic/Folk to more raw, scuzzed out Blues Rock - not far removed from the sound of The Black Keys. In between there are also clear influences of Americana, Alt-Country and Indie, while the majority of the tracks are melody heavy and contain the level of Pop sensibility normally displayed by bands on their third or forth album. The varied segmentation of each track ensures that Mirrors is an interesting listen throughout; an extremely mature debut from a band who, while probably not royalty in literal terms, could well become U.S. musical royalty at this rate.


U.S. Royalty - Equestrian
U.S. Royalty - Equestrian (Flosstradamus Remix)
U.S. Royalty - Monte Carlo

Friday, 4 March 2011

Nickstape - February '11

It's that time again - the Mad Notes monthly recap. Again, February was another month in which a number of top tracks have been surfacing all over t'interweb, which I'll do my best to cover in full below.

In the Jan recap I had a bit of a bitch and moan about the lack of outstanding albums around, and I'm afraid it's more of the same this month. Don't get me wrong, there have been some very very good albums...Toro Y Moi, Lykke Li, Sims, Yuck, Chapel Club....all strong. However I still feel like we're waiting for this year's The Suburbs, Merriweather Post Pavilion etc. What is encouraging however, is how many awesome songs have been emerging as previews of upcoming albums. So maybe this month's been more about potential than results....

Anyway, as always, let me know what you think. If you think I'm being a turd and have missed a trick...say sum'n.

Young Buffalo - Three Deep
Sims - Future Shock
Yuck - Get Away
Painted Palms - Falling Asleep
tUnE-yArDs - Bizness
When Saints Go Machine - Pinned
Chapel Club - After the Flood
We Are Trees - Afraid of Love
Kanye West - All Of The Lights (Pretty Lights Remix)
Real Fur - Birds
Two Inch Punch - Breaking Hearts
iSH - Cobrastyle (Ft. Robyn)
Architecture in Helsinki - Contact High
Team Me - Dear Sister
Caveman - December 28th
U.S. Royalty - Equestrian
Foo Fighters - Everlong (Alphabet Pony Remix)
The Raveonettes - Forget That You're Young
Childish Gambino - Freaks & Geeks
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Cheap Thrills - Hold On Tight (ft. Wiz Khalifa & Foster The People)
Foster The People - Houdini
Motopony - King of Diamonds
Digits - Lost Dream
Radiohead - Lotus Flower
Lord Huron - Mighty (Painted Palms Remix)
Pete and the Pirates - Mr Understanding
Dry The River - New Ceremony
Pharaohs - Photosynthesis
Vessels - Recur
Surfer Blood - Take It Easy (RAC Maury Mix)
Javelin - Tryouts (Brenton Duvall Remix ft. Childish Gambino)
The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness
The Seedy Seeds - Verb Noun
Stupid White Men - Walk And Slaughter
Cassette Culture - We Once Had An Empire (Jungle Fiction Remix)
Moths - 3
Lykke Li - Love Out Of Lust
Bayside Seeing Sound
Toro Y Moi - How I Know
Love In The Asylum - Bumble Fish
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
Gotye - Eyes Wide Open
The Forms - Fire To The Ground (ft. Matt Berninger)
Sloan - Follow The Leader
Matthew and the Atlas - I Will Remain
Half Hearted Hero - Periphery
Big Boi - Shutterbug (Jack Beats Remix)
More Amor - Young Hollywood
Scientist - Your Teeth In My Neck

Download the whole damn thing here

and a selection from Soundcloud:

Yaaks - Cavalcade

Big Sleep - Ghosts

Tinie Tempah ft. Ellie Goulding - Wonderman (Bare Noize Remix)

TV On The Radio - Will Do

Foo Fighters - Rope

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Stupid White Men

While my musical taste may have gravitated more towards the 'Indie' side of things in recent years - whatever that now means - I've always got time for a whiskey-soaked, dirty rock n' roll stomper. Stupid White Men are from Copenhagen, Denmark, but upon first listen you could've sworn they were straight out of the US. The song is based around a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-esque riff, with a huge soaring chorus reminiscent of some of Audioslave's better moments, all the while with an industrial edge a la Nine Inch Nails. Check out their track Walk & Slaughter below, which recently featured as Denmark's entry for February 2011's Music Alliance Pact

Stupid White Men - Walk And Slaughter