The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion

Artist: The Ruby Suns
Album: Sea Lion
File Under: Psychedelic Indie Pop
Recommended if You Like: Panda Bear, The Magnetic Fields, Cocteau Twins
Featured Tracks: These Are Birds, Kenya Dig It?

Listening to The Ruby Suns on the sunny beaches of Santa Cruz this weekend, feeling all bleary eyed and relaxed, reminded me how much I love this album.  The band’s founding member, Ryan McPhun, is a California native whose love for travel took him to far flung destinations like Africa and Thailand before settling in Auckland, New Zealand.  

Knowing that trajectory helps to make sense of the band’s sound, which is like a combination of sunny California psych pop and world music.  Some of the songs on the album are actually sung completely in Maori.  Co-vocalist Amee Robinson adds an etherial, dreamy quality to tracks like ‘These Are Birds,’ and at times her voice gives me flashbacks to the Cocteau Twins.  It a beautiful and atmospheric album, perfect for a sleepy Sunday morning at the beach.

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School of Language

Artist:  School of Language
Album:  Sea from Shore [released February 4, 2008]
File Under:  Brit Pop
Recommended if You Like:  Rock Symphonies
Featured Track:  Extended Holiday

It wasn’t until I took my Sonos player off shuffle and listened to this album in its entirety did I actually ‘get it’.  Now I can’t stop listening to it and the more I do, the better it gets. Testament to a great album and an exceptional musician by the name of David Brewis, member of the on-hiatus group Field Music.  The songs are exquisitely constructed and I love the way he plays with structures and sounds. 

The album is almost entirely a solo project showcasing David’s genius and is a true album experience.  Like a mini rock symphony, the album starts and ends with a series of songs called ‘Rockists Part 1 and 2’ and ‘Rockists Part 3 and 4’.  Parts 1 and 4 are different versions of the same song but strung together and listened to in it’s entirety, is a stunning arrangement.  

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Bon Iver, Mon Ami

For Emma, Forever Ago

Artist:  Bon Iver (pronounced bon hiver – as in French for good winter)
Album:  For Emma, Forever Ago ( Released February 7, 2008 )
File Under:  Singer/Songwriter; Make out Music
Recommended If You Like:  Iron & Wine
Featured Track:  Skinny Love


The label Jagjaguwar knows how to pick artists and Bon Iver is no exception.  Their release of the band’s debut album, “For Emma, Forever Ago,” made waves among critics and music lovers alike.  And for good reason, the album is stunning. The band’s driving force – Justin Vernon – wrote this masterpiece holed up in a cabin in Wisconsin for three months during the winter.  The sense of isolation, longing and loneliness are palpable in his songs, but in a beautiful way.  The tempo and rhythm of the CD washes over you in a way that just makes you want to curl up and touch someone. 

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