Top 10: Ghostland Observatory, Amplive, Léonard de Léonard
- Words: Jennifer Marston
A weekly examination of our favorite current and forthcoming albums, compilations, and singles.
Release Date: January 15, 2008. Digital only.
It's nice to see Modular breaking the party-music pigeonhole with its latest signing, Ghostwood. The Sydney, Australia-based four-piece writes tracks appropriate for sitting pensively at home, and while the band members resemble popular acts on the current dance-rock circuit, their songs–more akin to The Cure or My Bloody Valentine than Daft Punk–should clear up any confusion as to what this band is about.
Dot Tape Dot
Release Date: February 26, 2008
If you can imagine The Postal Service and Christopher Willits making music together, you're in the ballpark of what Tomasvistas sounds like. A collection of CD-Rs and rare releases from 2002 to 2007, the album marks Spanish musician Daniel Romero's first release in the U.S. under his Dot Tape Dot moniker and also proves that foundsound-heavy music doesn't have to be boring. Romero wedges clicks and bleeps between gentle keyboard notes and start/stop melodies, making an album that sits somewhere between minimal and music box.
Release Date: January 4, 2008
We'd love any indie hip-hop artist for trying to remix a Radiohead track, and the fact that Oakland, CA-based Amplive has tackled an entire album, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, makes him that much more worthy of our praise. "Weird Flashes" is a taste of the goodness to come on January 4, when the entire Rainydayz Remixes becomes available online. Thom Yorke's angst-ridden falsetto chopped up and thrown over some crisp hip-hop beats? It's almost too good to be true.
Kill Rock Stars
Release Date: February 19, 2008
If you own 2005's Fryk Beat Sampler, you'll be familiar with the music of Charlie Salas-Humara (a.k.a. Panther). But even devout fans of the Portland-based artist–whose trademarks are his hectic beats and falsetto vocals–will find 14kt God surprising. Salas-Humara has slowed down the tempo on many tracks, toned back the electronics, and added drummer Joe Kelly to the mix, so that the album showcases not only those antics we've come to love from Panther, but also a maturing style of songwriting we hope to see evolve in the years to come.
The Depreciation Guild
In Her Gentle Jaws
Release Date: Available now for free
Often when an album is available in its entirety from a band's website, one's first impulse is to raise a skeptical eyebrow and wonder about the quality of the music. Not so with Brooklyn-based duo The Depreciation Guild. These two gents' music is a wonderful collage of guitars, drums, fuzzy electronics, and heartfelt lyrics that, in this writer's opinion, places them a couple steps ahead of most post-rock acts. Makes me want to hop the L train and give these guys a hug.
Shangri La/Artist First
Release Date: Out Now
Now that the French have conquered the dance music world, it seems they are turning to indie rock, and if Neimo's self-titled EP is any indication, we're more than willing to welcome another Francophone invasion. In just five tracks, this four-piece band traverses the relentless guitar chords of a straightforward rock song, softer, poignant moments fit for indie-pop ballads, and a smattering of programmed drums, to keep the dance element firmly in place.
Professor Smith's Reggae Xmas
XLR8R Exclusive Mix
Release Date: Get it right here.
We don't normally praise our own work on the Top 10, but I'm loving the latest installment of our podcast so much I felt the need to share it. XLR8R head-honcho Andrew Smith has compiled 42 minutes of reggae jams made for the holiday season, from a brand-new Christmas Riddim to Yellowman's take on the "Twelve Days of Christmas." Watch that lead track though–one listen and you’ll have "All I want for Ismas is the colly herb!" stuck in your head for days.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band
13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
Release Date: March 25, 2008
A quick listen to this disc and you'll be compelled to write it off as another strange noise-art release with no rhyme, reason, or concept. Listen again. Besides the album’s intro–11 tracks of feedback all clocking in at under 10 seconds–noteworthy elements here include aggressive guitar riffs paired with soft cellos, wailing vocals and free noise turning into mournful, organ-driven ballads, and some wonderful album artwork that recalls the days of proper liner notes.
Release Date: March 4, 2008
The vocals might not be to everyone's taste, as they sometimes call to mind an '80s knock-off band, but Ghostland Observatory more than makes up for that with its tight production and creative instrumentation on Robotique Majestique. The Austin-based duo spent umpteen hours in its studio making this album, culling from influences that range from Daft Punk to The Clash. The result is a frenzy of crashing synths, live drums, and fast-paced keyboards all held in place by a steady, crisp beat.
Léonard de Léonard
Screaming Dance EP
Release Date: February 4, 2008
He's known for his infusion of dance, hip-hop, and 8-bit, all of which Leo uses on his latest release for France's Ekler'o'shock imprint. The Screaming Dance EP, as its title suggests, is a spastic trip through distorted electronics, catchy-yet-incoherent vocals, and a couple remixes of the title track by pals Chris de Luca (Funkstorung) and Phon.O step. Spice up all your holiday parties with this one.
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