Department of Eagles – In Ear Park

 

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Artist: Department of Eagles
Album: In Ear Park
File Under: Psychedelic Folk, Folktronica
Recommended if You Like: Grizzly Bear, Elliott Smith, Fleet Foxes
Featured Track: Phantom Other; No One Does It Like You

‘Phantom Other‘:

‘No One Does it Like You’:

Department of Eagles is essentially a side-project of Grizzly Bear singer-songwriter Daniel Rossen, who developed its dreamy, autobiographical songs with college friend and cohort, Fred Nicolaus. Their latest album, In Ear Park, was developed over the years between the two, stealing time on weekends and between tours. Other Grizzly Bear band members were also involved in the endeavor.  Chris Taylor acted as producer/engineer and played electric bass and horns and Chris Bear, Grizzly Bear’s drummer, also contributed heavily to the album. 

Most people, like me, are immediately struck by the track, ‘No One Does It Like You‘.  I obsessed over that track initially too.  The rest of the album is on the mellow, quieter side. But dig deeper and you’ll start to appreciate the complexities and amazing orchestral arrangements that continue to unfold listen after listen. Which for me makes it one of the better albums I’ve heard so far this year.  

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Deerhunter – Microcastle

 

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Artist: Deerhunter
AlbumMicrocastle
File Under: Ambient Indie Rock
Recommended if You Like: Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Grizzly Bear, Atlas Sound
Featured Track: Agoraphobia

I’ve long been intrigued with the work of Bradford Cox and follow all of his projects – from his solo venture, Atlas Sound, to his five piece group, Deerhunter.  I love his haunted, dreamy vocals and ambient, atmospheric sound.  It’s right up my alley.  And while I enjoyed Deerhunter’s last release, Cryptograms,  I must say I’m liking their latest release, Microcastle, even more.  It’s beautiful and I can’t stop listening to it. It’s hard for me to even pick out a single song to highlight as it’s truly one of those album experiences that should be listened to and enjoyed in it’s entirety.  The music builds upon itself, ebbing and flowing from moments of quiet, hypnotic bliss into smashing, reverb drenched crescendos. 

Much more song oriented than their last release, Microcastle is sure to convert more than a few skeptics. If you were once one, you should definitely give them another listen.  This one’s a classic.

Catch Deerhunter at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall November 24 with Times New Viking.

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The Sea and Cake – Car Alarm

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Artist: The Sea and Cake
Album: Car Alarm
File Under: Indie Rock
Recommended if You Like: Stereolab, American Analog Set, Japancakes, Sparklehorse
Featured Track: Aerial, On A Letter

Aerial:

On A Letter:

This Chicago quartet has been around for quite a while and there’s a comfort in the familiarity and consistency of their music.  Their latest release, Car Alarm, is no exception.  And from the buzz out there in the blogosphere, this is their best album in over a decade.  I’ve been listening to their electronic grooves a lot this week. Mellow yet powerful at the same time, they are firmly rooted in Indie rock with a splash of that electronica sound I like so much.  It’s smooth, well balanced, easy on the ears and layered with just enough complexity to keep it interesting listen after listen.  Like a fine wine.

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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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