One of the most brilliant things about music is the ability express a mood or articulate a feeling that you just can’t put into words yourself. Chicago indie rockers, The Layaways, do just that for me. I think La Blogotheque expressed it best when they said, “J’aime bien les chansons de The Layaways.” Moi aussi. Their bittersweet, melodramatic indie pop hooks tap into a kind of universal woeful lament that anyone can relate to at some point in time in their lives.
But best of all, the band is giving away their latest release, “The Space Between“, for free! Absolutely no strings attached. Go get it and enjoy.
While on holiday in Greece, nothing has bridged the gap for me musically better than Jeremy Jay. It’s just the right mix of down tempo electro pop fitting for the sunny Mediterranean climes I’m inhabiting at the moment, and the perfect transition from the Euro electro madness I’m assaulted with on a daily basis.
Described by Pitchfork as “the type of guy who tours with Deerhunter but covers Madonna,” Jay’s latest album, Slow Dance, is disco done right. With just the right touch of that 80s synth, early Bowie sound, it really is the perfect album for my European vacation – cool and sexy. Listening to it is comfortably familiar and, just like the soundtrack of a John Hughes film, it nails my ethos perfectly.
Artist: Say Hi (To Your Mom)
Album: Oohs & Aahs
File Under: Indie Pop
Recommended if You Like: ‘The moment just before orgasm’
This album is so damn catchy I can’t stop listening to it. I’ve been a longtime fan of the band and don’t think they’ve made a bad album to date. This one is no exception. I love frontman Eric Elbogen’s quirky lyrics and musical arrangements. Just take a listen to “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh” and try to not get hooked.
Elbogen has an incredible ability to mix sad and happy together into a delightful contradiction. I can’t think of many other artists who could have me bopping around to a song about vampires singing – “Oh I just want to drink your blood…”. (“Blah Blah, Blah” from the album Impeccable Blahs.) While previous albums have been on the darker side in terms on subject matter – vampires, drinking blood and rejection – this one seems to lean more toward the lovelorn than the macabre. And built more around layered harmonies too – like in the gem “November Was White, December Was Grey“. It makes for an easy album to listen to and like – and sure to get stuck in your head!
San Francisco, you can catch Say Hi at Bottom of the Hill on March 12.
Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second:
Here it is. My last Album of the Week recommendation for 2008! And what better way to close out the year than with a little Starf**ker. Come on, say it. You know you want to. Starf**ker!!
The debut album of this Portland-based group has grown into one of my favorite listens these last few weeks. The band’s dreamy, tranquil grooves are just the right anecdote for these foggy, wet San Francisco days of late. It’s just downright refreshing and fun from start to finish. Their lyrics are whimsical and kooky – but never kitschy – bringing a smile to my face with every listen. From the hilarious ‘German Love‘ (I’m gonna give it to you) and the completely nonsensical ‘Iaadeedaa’ to the obsessively catchy ‘Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second’, this album has me hooked. Now go get your groove on.
As many of you who read this blog already know, I’m mostly indie rock girl but I do dabble in a little indie pop/electronica from time to time. I am attracted to that Euro/ambient/dub pop/downtempo groove. However, it’s the rare album in this genre that can hold my interest all the way through. Which is why you won’t find many (if any) electro/pop albums on my top 20 list for 2008.
But there were many great songs of this variety that stood out to me this year. And here is a compilation of some of those tracks that moved me. I love listening to this mix and hope you will too. Enjoy!
Listen to Best Songs of 2008 – Electro/Pop:
- Koushik, ‘Lying in the Sun‘
- Air France, ‘Collapsing at Your Doorstep’
- Martina Topley-Bird, ‘Phoenix’
- The Black Ghosts, ‘Full Moon’
- Nightmares on Wax, ‘195LBS.‘
- The Notwist (Panda Bear Remix), ‘Boneless’
- Tobacco, ‘Hairy Candy’
- Lemonade, ‘Sunchips’
- Raised By Robots, ‘I Love You/U Luv Me 2′
- Starf**ker, ‘Florida’
- Rafter, ‘Juicy’
- Cut Copy, ‘Lights & Music’
- Nightmares On Wax, ‘Da Feelin’
- Rainbow Arabia, ‘Omar K’
Beach House is streaming a new track, ‘Used to Be‘, from their forthcoming 7″ single (here we go with the Indie artists and 7″ vinyl again) to be released on October 21. I love their etherial, haunting, lovelorn music and their latest album Devotion is a late night favorite on my headphones. The duo is set to play The Swedish American Music Hall this Sunday, September 28. How cool is that?
Stream ‘Used to Be‘.
Listen to ‘Gila‘:
Artist: Ra Ra Riot
Album: The Rhumb Line
File Under: Indie Pop
Recommended if You Like: Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend
Featured Track: Under Ghost Rocks
The best way I can describe Syracuse-based Ra Ra Riot is Arcade Fire meets Vampire Weekend – upbeat rhythms layered over rich orchestral-based melodies. And their live shows, with their huge ensemble cast, are raucous and infectious – just like Arcade Fire. If you like either of those bands, it would be worth your while to give Ra Ra Riot a listen. They were the darlings of SXSW this year and are fast becoming a critics choice for 2008 as well.
‘The Rhumb Line’ is the band’s first LP and a tribute to the recent drowning of band member, drummer John Pike, who co-wrote most of the lyrics for their debut album. The title of the album, ‘The Rhumb Line’, is fitting in both its nautical theme and meaning – a term for the constant course a vessel takes in a give direction. Which is what the remaining band members have had to do.
See them live tomorrow, September 24, at The Rickshaw Stop or watch the video for, ’Ghost Under Rocks’:
First up in the ‘Crystal’ band category is the Long Beach, CA based group, Crystal Antlers, whose hard core psyche rock sound certainly puts my preconceived notion of all ‘Crystal’ bands as Indie Pop rockers to shame. The indie rock music world has been buzzing about their self-released, eponymous EP. The band has received many comparisons to Les Savy Fay. Check out the featured track, A Thousand Eyes.
Crystal Castles, however, falls squarely into my 80s synthpop stereotype. This Toronto-based group is all synthesizers and drum machines . Their self-titled debut album is a bits and bytes bump and grind fest. Featured track, Courtship Dating.
Here’s one of the more talked about additions to the Indie Pop circuit, who also pay homage to 80s synthpop. Their debut album, ‘Partie Traumatic’, is releasing this month. This is a video of their single, ‘I’m not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance.’ If you weren’t looking you might mistake this for a new track from The Cure.