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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
  Rogue Wave, St. Vincent, Wilco, Tegan & Sara: shan whips out the mixtape.
hello my devotees (because i like to pretend i have them),

i'm just twittering off this note to let you know i am not yet in season. it's august, and the tomatoes are doing their thing. i'm doing a lot of traveling in the next couple of weeks and i figure labor day weekend is a good time to come back in full swing.

so until then, here's a little mix tape of my Current Top Recommendations (she whips out the bold and everything) -- because if for some reason you aren't already really, really into them, it's high time that you are.

Rogue Wave - Asleep At Heaven's Gate (preview)
Rogue Wave is a very special thing to me. i mean, very special. in the world of independent music, they may very well be my Favorite Band... as in, they make the very small list of bands in my prefs before i just smash the whole thing with an ellipsis. also, i think i've cried at every live performance i've seen of them (did i really just admit that?).
this is why i have mixed feelings about their album leaking. you're always stoked for music ahead of its release date -- until it happens to you. and that's sort of what this feels like. i feel like going out on September 18th and buying six copies, just to aleviate my guilt.
here's my point: if you haven't been aquainted with the fellows of Rogue Wave, now is the time to do so. their music stitches itself into your little fibers and stays there, changing you. no, it really does. beyond beautiful harmonies, haunting progressions of pure pop euphoria. they are incredible masters of sound.
::::i will only do the right thing and give you their single.
Rogue Wave - Lake Michigan
Rogue Wave - Are You On My Side - from their last album, Descended Like Vultures. in giving you this song i feel like i am giving away a deep secret of mine. this song is beyond description.
myspace, hype machine

St. Vincent - Marry Me
if you haven't already been seduced by the spirited, spritely, spunky being that is St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark), shame on you. all summer this lady carried both my sense of humor about life and my wonder for good, unexplored musical talent. she is refreshing like only a fellow female can be (i do mean that!) and she's fucking brilliant. choral and electronic elements hold hands with grungy, sexy love notes in a marriage (har har) of swanky pop wonder, with bountifully quotable lyrics to boot. it's too late to do the review i'd like to, but suffice to say this gets my Absolutely Tip Top Music Of Summer 2007, Hands Down award. (Rogue Wave isn't out yet!!)
::::exclamation of how much i love this album and this girl goes here.
St. Vincent - Now Now - this song might be everywhere, but i wouldn't be true to Toaster if i didn't make this your sample mp3 today. this is the song i have played and played and played until poor Annie probably didn't want to sing "I'm not" ever again. you will hear this song and you will need more.
myspace, the hype

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
oh, you know. you know. it's Wilco, for crying out loud. Jeff Tweedy. the man knows his music like you and i know the corners of our refigerator -- we open the door, and everything is familiar, everything is ours, everything may not be stitched to our memory banks (when did i buy this jar of capers?) but we can feel it, we have it, it is nourishing and ready for our use or disposal at any time. and if you think the refrigerator analogy is way in left field, it's okay, because no one can stand up to Sky Blue Sky's intensely amazing lyrics (par for the course). i could sit here all day going song by song and telling you my favorite parts. it does that to you -- you want to get into it, dissect everything, then let it wash over you. sing along. the quintessential alt country, and good god, it never disappoints.
::::just keeps getting better.
Wilco - You Are My Face - i have always loved how a single Wilco song can take so many directions in just five+ minutes. this is one of the greatest examples.
myspace, the hype

Tegan and Sara - The Con
no one is more surprised than i am exactly how much i like this album. T & S are an anamoly in my "typical" likes and dislikes -- but i guess they always have been. my love affair with their 2004 release So Jealous was fierce and brief, leaving (like usual) their imprint on an era and a passed time. The Con may very well do the same, but i don't think so -- not this time. something about relating to their upfront angst, their raw emotions, the tell-all lyrics and their inescapably girlish attitudes. yet there's also something about them that renders their music sexless, above that bullshit, on a plane far and well above a hype or a story. it's good. it grabs you. and you can just play it on loop, all day long.
::::take it from the title track.
Tegan & Sara - The Con - this song will bang on your head until it gets stuck in there for a good long glorious time.
myspace, the hype

woo! all done. this is really a list of Most Listened To the last month or few months or however long it's really been. i feel like i've been true to you, dear Readers Of NfT, in getting all of that out (even if you've already heard these songs a hundred times). now i can go on in peace these next few weeks and i'll be back sooner than you'd like (considering i'll be coming in with Labor Day...)

love and work holidays for all,
shan
 
Friday, August 03, 2007
  Maritime and infectious singles

so this is me..... jumping on the bandwagon. yep. right now, grabbing ahold of the side, hoisting myself up, swinging my legs over. taking off. here we go.

band Maritime (together now: who the hell are these guys?) came out of nowhere to bring up and bang around two of the catchiest tunes i've heard in a while. but not that kind of catchy -- i'm talking sweaty, grumbly, yeah-whatever rock catchy. isn't nonchalance so exciting?

the birth of broken bands The Dismemberment Plan (i so remember them) and The Promise Ring (not so much), indie label darlings Flameshovel Records picked them up, dusted them off and let them create. their first record We, The Vehicles flew well under my radar, but with the stuff dripping out of their forthcoming Heresy And The Hotel Choir, i'm not going to be able to shut them off.

you can get the tunes just about anywhere right now, but why not just get it here? you can jump up right behind me. plenty of room on this here bandwagon. come on now.
::::my favorite is this one, so here you are: Maritime - For Science Fiction

- myspace
- wiki bit
- label page
 
  new Sunset Rubdown mp3s. the real thing.

fresh.


you have me at first listen, here, which is usually an uncomfortable feeling from this reviewer's perspective. but so far i'll say i'm not only frustratingly impressed with the directions Krug has taken this project, but i'm also really delighted in his influences -- some choral elements, some big-band sounds, some vocal progressions which are (dare i say it?) a little like Sufjan. but that never, ever hurts. in fact, for Krug, it balances something harsh which knocks down a whole bunch of gates and makes him (somehow) even more wonderful than before.

but no more for now. a letter, in true shan-style (i've got swagger), to keep you busy before i've got everything i want to say about Random Spirit Lover.

dear Spencer Krug,

your voice is all of my confusion and desperation rolled into a vitamin-tongue and i take you liberally in order to ensure i will live a good, long life. you have a way with words and music that both delights me and makes me sad, like a fabulous piece of candy that must begin but must also end, ephemeral and vanished. you see, undeniably, it is those moments of NEW SOUND ringing in my ears, clamoring up my neck and into the canals of my brain like so many ferocious children, which make me love you the most. and when those children lay down to rest and i have found every nook and cranny of their daunting newness, that is when i turn them away. and that is when i turned away
Shut Up (they were dreaming).

this note, however, is a Thank You. because you
are Spencer Krug, and because that vitamin-tongue of yours will not stay put, and you must -- and you have -- keep producing. hello! hello, Random Spirit Lover. i can feel the children climbing again, nipping at my earlobes, hanging on and hoisting themselves in...

you will run rampant for days. and during this time your Newness will supply me with perfect company for that confusion and ripe mayhem. the candy wrapper is only now coming off, and you will have your album review, and you will have my head spinning with your only just-accessible [hush] genius, and we won't worry, for now, about that time when the closing music for "Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns" will play over and over and over and the little sound-children will dizzy themselves into a cyclone of energy and build and build and run and --

stop. and like
Shut Up i will give you away to a time period, set you as a soundtrack to a feeling and a place. oh Krug. you are like sea salt caramels. who else will ever say that to you.

again, a Thank You -
the rustling of plastic -

shan.

::::you'll have your "normal review" (all of you picky, logical people) but i need some time, and you must have your song!
Sunset Rubdown - The Courtesan Has Sung - instantly loveable -- a newish quality, wouldn't you say?
Sunset Rubdown - Stallion - deep, beautiful. twilight zone lives on. lovely build and finish.
(had to take 'em down)

heavy intake:
- sunset in a studio and (other) Free Songs: thank your lucky stars for Daytrotter
- sunset on their label page (yay, Jagjaguwar!)
- anything you can find (surprisingly sparse) on the hype

love me, dears. i'll be back with this one.
 
Thursday, August 02, 2007
  Fionn Regan - The End Of History

i chose this pic because it's what his music sounds like. believe me.


there are artists and lead singers whose lyrics mean more to them than the music they overlap. recently i can think of Voxtrot as being so guilty -- i can also site the vast majority of popular emo bands, perhaps occasionally the almost-infallible matt pond, and Jason Mraz as fellow contenders in this "wordplay." i think an important balance has to be struck between the message and the artwork behind it -- both in terms of the language and, hello, the notes and chords it takes to get there. oh, balance! oh, picky ears! and then, the plight of the outgoing lyricist: will we forgive John Roderick his humor in order to get to his depth, or Conor Oberst his pain in order to get to his quiet serenities? will we let ourselves dig into the bottomless lines Jeff Tweedy laughs in our direction? and then do we, as patient listeners, have to decide between those words and their sound?

so i ruminate after my twentieth listen of Fionn Regan. his work appeared on the scene while i was still disappeared (grammar intentional) -- and so, new to my ears, i have taken a different approach to dissecting what i've heard. regarding the above i can tell you that, at first listen, i am (nearly) always a sound person. yes! i have made that personal distinction, i have decided between those words and their sound. notice you will never read my dissection of "what the lyrics say." notice i usually don't care. notice i usually speak figuratively about sound, the mood it puts me in, the times and places it reminds me of, the pictures it conjures and the inspiration i gather. it's only after many listens -- it's only when i find a record with intense staying power -- that i begin to grab onto the lyrics and say, i can hear what this song is telling me. funny, coming from someone whose whole business is words. or is that to save me from my own high expectations? hmmmm.

but Fionn saves himself, as far as i'm concerned, from walking the fine line between the lane and the gutter with a style that highlights both sound and lyrics. he manages to have his words be heard immediately (no chance for this Sound Girl to ignore Lyrics Boy) but nothing is compromised, nothing is lost. the poor Irishman has the name "Conor Oberst" graffitied all over him before you even get to listen to his record -- and sure, he sounds a little like Bright Eyes, but i have to tell you that i like him more. (gasp.) i think he has enough of Sondre Lerche ("Penny") in him, enough Teitur ("Abacus," "Noah"), enough stuff for me to say -- well! let me just hear that one more time. and i have. and i will.

what this brings up, of course, is still the quality of sound. he is instantly atmospheric in a way that Iron and Wine can be. it's not just that pensive plucking of the guitar, but also a confidence in his pace, an innate sense of himself and his style. he also lacks the desperation that i get when listening to his ever-present Oberst comparison (trust me, or i wouldn't have been able to listen to him the other nineteen times). the fluidity of his voice, the sweet darkness, the slight croon: all of these things say, Oh, I know myself enough to sing. and i say, Oh, sing it just a little more.

::::the net has been all over "the Irish Bright Eyes," so i don't pretend to be the first, but i like his shit a lot.
Fionn Regan - Be Good Or Be Gone - available everywhere, but i want to make it available here just in case you haven't been sold yet -- because this will undoubtedly do the job.
Fionn Regan - The Underwood Typewriter - listen to this with headphones.
Bonus (we're fresh back, might as well give you the most)
Fionn Regan - The End Of History - it is, after all, the title track. stick with this one, again with the headphones, and i promise you'll hear... more.

looking for more? i know you are. that's why you've still got the hype (oh, it feels good to be back!) and Fionn's brave myspace (listening post) where you can explore what it means to be Fionn. remember! i am the Album Girl! and that means you best buy the whole thing if you like the small taste of what you get. and though i'm not happy to do so, it's easiest (as usual) to point you in the direction of itunes for the quick fix.
 
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
  what a long, strange dream i've had.


oh, my.

well. imagine me, little me, tapping on a microphone in a loud room. you are all bustling and hustling and moving very fast, talking louder, yelling over the sounds and beats which clash in a cacophony called Headache. ah the noise, the noise(!), the noise the noise the noise

and suddenly, the Noise is now in capitals, and the crowds start to part, and it is the Noise for toaster (for who?) for Toaster, damn it, and it is me at the microphone tap tap tapping AHEM!

hello. welcome back. this is the blog, it is about my great fish (alive and well!) Sir Toaster, and it is my duty to bring him the music which he cannot find for himself. it's been a stormy few months (you wouldn't believe me if i told you the whole story) but the fact is, we're back, and as much as we're treading the ocean, we're still in it for the fish.

come on back. the water's fine.
 
Monday, March 05, 2007
  Feist - The Reminder: Even Cowgirls Get The Blues


the unmistakable Feist has managed a move i truly didn't think was possible. somehow, in the spirit of both her old fans and her new, she produced a record that wavers, ever and always, between accessible and Feist. her country twangs, jamborees, pop madness, and mastered spunk ties it all up with a ribbon, beckoning: "i didn't pay attention to any of you," she says. fame will come her way regardless - bare shoulders and microphone seduction or no. she will damn well do as she please. thankfully.

her wavering vocals, ever a wave of pressure and relief, stop and go, swing and release, come through as the sensual tie to her somewhat western-prairie sound. her range of capability is always astounding, as she goes from the driving and addictive single to the haunting and moving "The Water," in which a minimalist landscape of instruments drives her sorrowful declarations over wind and plain. album opener "So Sorry" is one of her classically Feist-sounding numbers, which still seem updated and playful, a little dramatic and perfectly sarcastic, especially next to the fireside tune "Sea Lion Woman," complete with claps and soulful echoes, which rises into a perfect guitar jamboree, tambourines and nearly scatting vocals. she certainly drew on wild influences for the feel of this album, which has taken her jazz influences and slid even deeper into a world of alternative country and cowgirl blues. in my constantly moving mind, this is the perfect soundtrack to a trip west, a bumping van, bare feet, passing hours with a guitar and singing true to all the hope and emotion of moving onwards. go, Feist, and your audiences will follow.

::::Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.
Feist - So Sorry
Feist - Past In Present
Feist - One Two Three Four
(hidden catchy gem)
[more on the hype machine]

[removed by DMCA request, before anyone really noticed they were there.]

this album drops April 23rd in Europe, and May 1st for silly US and Canada. i know you will have preordered your copy already (i'll be so mad if you don't) and really, i mean it, you're going to swoon.
(RIAA/DMCA countdown, anyone?)
 
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
  Field Music repost - bonus video
with just five minutes to post today, i want to repost on a band that really stood out from almost everything i found last year and has made it to at least six spots on my crazy iTunes "Top 25 Most Played" playlist. whoopee, i know. they're really quite something, these guys, and i hope they make it very big (but not big enough to ruin it, like, oh, The Shins).
[original post]


lovely, jangly, poppy, happy and British, but not the Kooks (by any means). your ears perk, yes? and they should. they are Field Music, and they're back with a new full-length LP (UK readers: "you have it?" US readers: "who?"), called Tones Of Town. this thing is amazing. i'm going to go ahead and tell you it's the best pop i've heard from overseas all year, just to make a point. they take their cue from old giants (Beatles) and the mediocrity of today's Kooks and mix it with a new depth to take much more seriously. they're talented as hell, expertly employing a wide range of sounds (strings!) and producing a complete work of art, often stringing songs together, flowing one into the next almost undetectably (until you try to pick mp3s to share). Tones Of Town has been the perfect remedy to pick me up in the face of this ever-colder city, snapping my steps to a new beat that just won't leave my head. oh, i promise you a good time. you'll be so glad you believed me.

::::take 'em for a spin:
Field Music - Give It Lose It Take It

-- this is the first track of the album. i hadn't heard anything from the album, and i was walking out of my building as this started, and i paid particular attention to the opening. i was so surprised when the music started up after the bells, and was instantly hooked. watch out at 40 seconds in... and just let the beatles influence floor you. a minute:thirty in and you'll see just why they're so fucking good.
Field Music - Working To Work
-- seventh track presents a catchy-as-hell breakdown, a slightly more simplified arrangement, and quite simply a great song. the Brits in them shine through here, and a little Paul McCartney...
BONUS:Field Music - She Can Do What She Wants
-- it was so impossibly hard not to give you this entire album, i'm telling you. instead, i closed off this line-up with their intended closer, which is just such a great song. oh, man. fantastic lead-in, irresistable harmonies, tambourine, strings (keyboard-produced or no) - oh, luscious. and it will be stuck in your head for the next five years.
edit: this is now probably my very favorite song by them.

::::for all of you lovely Field Music fans! i have bonus material, here - a great video of the band playing this very song live, which is a great way to see the band without leaving your chair. i just love videos, don't you?
Field Music - She Can Do What She Wants.mpg

i mean, this whole album is so incredible it almost makes me angry. it's this frustration that i know not every reader will pick up these tracks, that not everyone will believe me, that i'll fail in conveying my honest passion for the music i've found. but that's the gig here, i guess.

the hype will only grow and grow, so check there often for more and more tracks (so you can believe me, really).
also, tell them hi on their myspace, and listen to good songs.
 
Thursday, February 22, 2007
  new Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob

to be perfectly honest, i wasn't a very big fan of Kaiser Chiefs until very recently. their lyrics often made me laugh -- as, yes, they're supposed to -- but i was never quite into their songs. i found nothing more to latch onto than a nudging sense of "aw, aren't these Brits cute," and nothing grabbed me. i had no reason to play Employment over and over until i fell on the floor with it.

but now? i'm pretty sure they've taken lessons in catchiness, grabby tunes, and most of all -- voice. it might be me, but this seems to be the strongest change from their first album to now, what i'm happy to present to you: Yours Truly, Angry Mob.

::::they've really caught on to the addictive tune-making.
Kaiser Chiefs - Heat Dies Down
Kaiser Chiefs - Love Is Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)

Bonus: Kaiser Chiefs - Boxing Champ
- a real treat. a little piano ditty that breaks up the speed of the rest of the album.

[removed by DMCA request.]

check out the rest, including the single "Ruby," at the hype

honestly, the more i heard of this album, the more impressed i was with who this band has become. they really know their stuff this time, and they've produced just a terrific record. it's definitely still the same post-punk, Brit-rock style with all of their little art-rock influences jammed in there. but, like all bands that have the spotlight, they've insisted on maturing slightly -- turning up the quality, revising old beats that worked so well for them. this is an extremely successful release, including their demandingly catchy single, "Ruby," which hopefully you snagged from us a couple months ago. all in all, really looking forward to this album and the super-status they'll continue to get, both across the pond and "in the states."

kaiser chiefs on myspace
now - this album comes out next week in the UK and the US and is available for pre-order at this very minute! go get your copy now.
 
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
  new Kings Of Leon - mp3 tripleblast

let me first just remind you that, pretty much as always, my Number One Goal is to stress the importance and the significance of the album. that means the whole thing, Track Uno to 10 or 12 or 15 or whatever. this is how, in my opinion, real bands get to prove themselves -- by showing an understanding of a range of styles, a coherent sense of composition and arrangement, and most of all, a commitment. an album is a commitment to a musician's artwork and should uphold whatever expectations they set out for themselves and for their listeners. granted, this is all very subjective, and i should really write up an essay or something sometime, just so i don't have to bore you mid-post.

that said! in relation to the upcoming Kings Of Leon, i can't do anything but rave about "the whole album" until my voice is hoarse (or moreso than it is already) and just continue to make myself out to be That Blogger Who Really, Really Likes Everything She Posts. so, instead of go over just how impressed i am by all of Because Of The Times, i'd rather just give you the first three songs, which i've been playing on repeat.

::::Kings Of Leon - Knocked Up
- - boy, just when i thought maybe my obsession with opening tracks was dying down a little. i'm so impressed with this song that i played it over three times before i even got to the rest of the album, first time around. first off, it's seven minutes long, and it stays good the entire time. i haven't seen anything like that since, i suppose, Destroyer's "Rubies." this song gently climbs in, rolls along like A Dusty Plain, and in sweeps The Songbird with a lonely, desperate, core-grabbing call (translation: low repetitive guitar, insert stanzas of - well, i think flute - for a real southern-rock thing). not to mention the lyrics - woo.

::::Kings Of Leon - Charmer
after 7:10 of the above preparation, we get old Kings flair (suggestive of their live performances) with this addictive tear into the rock scenery. man, the sex and swagger in Caleb's voice when he comes reeling in with "she's such a charmer - oh no." the old-time rock riffs mixed with that impending sense of urgency and Trouble Ahead make for one of the very best songs on the whole album.

::::Kings Of Leon - On Call
ah. the single. you know what i have to say about this song? it's the dog's bollocks. (is that correct? is this something people still say? Eddie, my man, have you made me corny?) i honestly have a tendency to dismiss singles as the band's way of selling themselves, and not necessarily appropriately reflecting their preferences, capabilities, etc. (Modest Mouse - Dashboard? i think yes!) but "On Call" is not just a properly catchy rock tune -- it's so, so well done, and it fits in so seemlessly with its surroundings that i didn't jump up and say "aha! i spotted the single!" the moment i heard it. if you haven't already, this is at least the track to get your hands on.

[removed by DMCA request.]

i will never apologize for being long-winded. at least, not too much. get ready for linkage...
- KOL on wiki, in case you haven't had the pleasure.
- their myspace, with fancy words and noises 'n stuff.
- this awesome fansite, called happy alone, which is awesome mainly because i haven't stumbled on anything like this for bands i deal with in a LONG time. check this out, yo.

lastly, PRE-ORDER. this album will rock your world. yes, just as cheesily as i make it sound.

p.s. those kinds of titles amuse me. i tried it on for size for today, just to see how it looked. i should have used italics somewhere.
 
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
  limited time offer - NIN leak three
some of you may think this is just getting out of hand now, and i can understand that. if you have any complaints, you may file them here and i'll take them into consideration before posting about it again, but for now i feel like i'm almost obligated to keep you updated.

for the most comprehensive summary of the web sites, stories, conspiracies, and whatever else is part of this supposed viral marketing campaign, i'd like to direct you to this link: echoing the sound.

if you want the just the basics, another flash drive was found in a bathroom at a Nine Inch Nails show. this time it was Barcelona. it contained two mp3s; one was another track off Year Zero, the other part of this increasingly weirder story. the non-album mp3, simply labeled 2432.mp3, contains only what sounds like a bunch of noise. when viewed in a program that can produce a spectral analysis, this is the result:



[click for full screen view]


it's a very clear phone number. strange? call it and be prepared to be at least a little freaked out: 216.333.1810

::::get it while it's hot
NIN - Me, I'm Not
[NIN] 2432

[album track removed upon RIAA request. the static track will stay up in case you're curious. 2432 has been removed upon DMCA request.]

i'm very serious when i say that these will not be up for very long; you probably have about two days to get here and grab them. we were requested to remove My Violent Heart and we don't want it to get to that point.
 

NOTE: as much as toaster loves free music, he'd like to encourage you to buy the cds of the artists you enjoy. he'd also like to remind you that any music hosted by or linked to from this page is property of its respective owners, so if that's you and you'd like it to not be here, just let us know.


READ ME: if files are not working properly upon opening or saving [ex: unknown file type], make sure that there is a .mp3 at the end of the filename, and all will be well.


also: all files posted will only remain available for two to three weeks. if you find something in an old post that you'd really like to hear, tell us.


be our god damn myspace friend. damn it.