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The Illin' Music Thread

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Tag Archives: pop

A long while back in middle school, as I was discovering my first taste of independent music in the heyday of Drive-Thru records, I listened briefly to a group on their roster called Steel Train.  For eighth grade me, they were nothing that really stood out compared to the other Drive-Thru bands that had captured my attention, and I went back to listening to The Early November and The Starting Line (nothing wrong with that!).

A few years later Lucas tried to tell me how good they were by sending me their cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”  I became a little more interested and checked out “Better Love,” a song that details the lead singer, Jack Antonoff’s, high school relationship with…Scarlett Johansson.  Yep.  That would be a tough one to get over.  Anyway, their music for some reason still didn’t hook me and thought that I would never really enjoy the band that much.

Cut to last week when I saw the cover of their new independently released self-titled album.  I loved the album art immediately, and the image of the punk girl particularly struck me because I’ve been reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series recently.

Their most recent Self-Titled album plays out like a retrospective study on the last half decade of indie rock, which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing!  There are Animal Collective-like whoops and hollers, chiming guitars that evoke Vampire Weekend, and a general epic feel that echos the recent Springsteen obsession of punk bands like the Gaslight Anthem

The standout track for me, however, is the pop abandon of You Are Dangerous.” Piano and palm muted guitars periodically rise and fall over a stop-and-start rhythm section, which gradually builds to a catchy-as-hell post chorus guitar riff that makes me want to dance around forever.  Add in some obligatory vocal “oohs” and you’ve got a great mid-summer jam.

With specific online purchases of the album the band is also giving away an alternate version with every track covered by a different female artist!  This is a pretty sweet idea, and is made only better by the fact that Lexington native Amanda Palmer lays down her own version of Steel Train’s “Behavior.”  Awesome!

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A quick post before I go back to work. I’m in the middle of finals here at Colby, but here’s something to brighten your day: we made a music video!

My friend Molly asked me to make a song based on a song Nancy Updike wrote for the 400th episode of This American Life. I complied, and she organized this music video. IT’S AWESOME. She’s sending it to This American Life, so hopefully we’ll hear back from them soon! In the mean time, click the picture to see the video!

Free download:

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If you have ever read John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, you may recognize this band’s moniker. In addition, you may also understand the vibe of this album–warm, subtly tragic, and incredibly human. Although this album isn’t exactly a soundtrack to the book, and while there is a definite lack of valves, the fact remains: Oh Fortuna’s music is about as big-hearted and tragically sad as the story of Ignatius J. Reilly.

These guys are rocking my world. If you need a new band to get obsessed with, get obsessed with these guys. The first time I listened to The Fireworks of Electric Human Love, their debut album, I was charmed, but not really moved. The second time around, I started to understand that–holy shit! These guys are unbelievable! How have they not been featured on The Illin’ Music Thread?

This album seems like it was made by a bunch of human beings creating an album about how amazing it is to exist in this strange, beautiful world called Earth. Atmospheric soundscapes, catchy-as-hell melodies, unforgettable lyrics, and pumping electronic drums dominate this album. I also really enjoy their use of certain electro clichés–cheesy synth bass lines (see: “Woodpaint Rainbow”), gated saw synths (see: “St. Bernadino’s Fire”), etc.–in a completely different context. That’s just to say, it’s just one of the many things that makes this album FRESH.

Download these guys. Seriously. You’ll get hooked. I guarantee it. I don’t guarantee many things, but I this I will. I’m putting the whole album up–The Fireworks of Electric Human Love has made it onto my list of “perfect albums”–albums that I can listen to any track of and love. Check it, yo!

Click here to download Oh Fortuna’s The Fireworks Of Electric Human Love!

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Hey gang. I’ve been posting my new track on facebook, but I thought I’d post it on here in the hopes that someone who is not a “friend” of mine will download it. I’m happy with how it turned out! I’ve been making music under the pseudonym of Deaf Country since 2008, and I can say that I’m probably happiest with this song so far.

I used a quote from Flannery O’Connor for the chorus. The actual quote is:

Where you come from is gone,

Where you thought you were going to never was there,

And where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

Depressing shit. I changed a few of the words around, but there you have it.

Maybe it’s not kosher to post your own music on your own blog, but fuck it. I hope you enjoy it!

Click here to download “The Sound Is The Sound” by Deaf Country!

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Last weekend, my friends Monica, Caitlin and Darcy showed me this video. Needless to say, I was completely blown away. Marina & The Diamonds’ “I Am Not A Robot” is suuuuch a good song. I feel like Marina Diamandis (after whom the band is named) is poised to become The Next Big Thing.

First of all, the song is catchy as all hell. Although her voice is pitch-corrected, it’s lovely to hear a pop song sans obscene autotune in this post-T Pain era (I guess I’m a hypocrite, what with my Deaf Country thang). The chorus of the song, “Guess what? I’m not a robot!” although simple, is just belted from the soul, dude. She means business.

Secondly, the music video is amazing. No, there aren’t any insane dance moves or Lady Gaga vaginas, but that doesn’t really matter. The few dance moves she does use–the hair flip, the shoulder pump–make her seem so liberated and free. Also, the rhinestones on her face are beDAZZLING. And the paint! Oh, the paint!

She’s also so pretty! According to Wikipedia, that “ever-expanding index of questionable validity” (oh, how I love John Hodgman!), she’s a Welsh singer-songwriter of Greek descent. DAMN, Greece. Way to make people like Marina!

Some people find her somewhat obnoxious or too twee, but I can’t get enough of her. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!

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I’m not sure I remember how I learned about Thick Shakes. My friend Sei (always the Sei Harris!) has been playing a lot of garage rock in his car recently, and I guess it rubbed off on me a bit. They were the Boston Phoenix’s Song Of The Week a while ago, too.

I’m not really sure why I’m trying to remember where I learned about these dudes, because it doesn’t really matter–the band kicks ass. They’re two dudes and a lady from Somerville, MA. The music is just so much fun to listen to. It’s really sloppy, grimy garage rock. Fuzzed out guitars, retro basslines and energetic drumming makes listening to Thick Shakes SO FUN. In another review on Heads Up Boston, one can see a correlation between their recording process and how fun their music is:

We did the whole thing in a weekend, and it was a ball. Jerry MacDonald recorded us at the Shop in Weymouth, he is a good friend of ours who understands our tastes. We showed up to his studio and he pulled out a box of homemade telephone mics. He had a way of making us sound like I hoped we sound but wasn’t sure, and brought out new things too. He gets a kind of sadistic grin on his face when figuring out how to coax things into even fuzzier and messier places. Some people warned us that recording is a grueling process that will make us hate our music and each other, but I suspect I might have found a loophole in doing this with my boyfriend and best friend. No drama, just pizza.

No drama, just pizza. Fucking awesome. The fun they had recording this literally leaks out your headphones.

It’s just good old honest feel-good rock n’ roll. Thick Shakes has taken the heritage of garage rock and given it an update, bringing the genre into the modern era without giving up what makes the genre inherently fun to listen to and without being all smarmy and obnoxious about it like Jet. FUCK JET

In any case, Thick Shakes kick ass, and you should download their music! In fact, here are some download links for some of their songs!!

My two favorite songs are “(Baby) You’re a Starfish” and “Julie K”. Although sometimes I have no idea what the fuck the lyrics are, I can’t help but sing along anyways. Baby you’re a star, baby you’re a star, baby you’re a starfish.

Click here to download “(Baby) You’re a Starfish” off of Thick Shakes’ new album Ooh Mommy!

Click here to download “Julie K”!

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Mikel will love this song.

I just downloaded Breakfast Of Champs Records’ Mozart Park All-Stars, a compilation CD with a bunch of sweet-ass traxx. I randomly listened to Cop Magnet’s song “Benched”, and was immediately charmed by this poppy, dance-y song. Also, LOOK AT THAT CAT WEARING THE DEVO HAT

“Benched” is from Cop Magnet’s debut album Cop Magnet Is… Maxwell Velocity, recently released on BOC. The track is super listenable, thanks to a fat dance beat, vintage, disco-era synth tones, and prodigious amounts of autotune. I can already hear Mikel singing the lyrics of this song in his best pop-punk inflected voice: “Benched, I need a backup!”

Click here and download this fresh new track immediately! Play it on repeat at every party you go to so everyone will ask you why you aren’t playing Gaga and so, eventually, you’ll be quietly asked to leave. Then you can go home and dance alone in your room to this catchy-ass song. Because that’s why you go to parties, right? Enjoy!

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