How’s it Holding Up? Destroyer — Kaputt

Early on every year, there are those records that you’re certain will make the top of your year-end charts, that you’re sure is going to be among the very best the year has to offer. Perhaps it’s in part due to our particular demarcation of years as periods for music, when clearly the shifts and swings are more organic than that.


Perhaps it’s just out of a desire to start with a clean slate: The music really piles up when you’re making those year-end lists, then there’s nothing of note for two, three, maybe four weeks. That break is a bit like those coffee beans they give you to cleanse your palate at a wine tasting, and after a full year of listening, a cleansing is certainly beneficial.

This year, my early pick was the consummate Destroyer album Kaputt — easily my top pick of January and somehow still in the running for my year-end list. It’s full of little things that are easy to ignore but brilliant to take in: Every listening produces something a bit different. And those melodies — oh, those melodies — are impossible to ignore. It’s the lack of jumpiness, both in construction and in presentation, that really define Dan Bejar’s outpouring. The melodies are evocative in the smooth, definitive quality that permeates the album.

It’s even better on vinyl, too! The third side of the album is a bit of a suite that’s not found in other releases, and it adds a nice quality to the flow of the album. Sure, it pushes the runtime to a lengthy 70 minutes, but it completes the album. The thing is, I’m not even sure it needed completion, and it was dangerous to mess with what was already very strong — but here it is nonetheless, and it’s one of the best parts of the double LP. See what a little risk-taking gets you?

Standout tracks include “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker,” “Song for America,” and “Kaputt,” though it’s a bit odd that tracks can stand out when the whole of the album is at a high level. To be fair, any of the songs could have reasonably been picked as standouts, and any decision has a degree of arbitrariness to it.

Has it held up well? Certainly so. It’s one of the few albums released this winter that have held my attention raptly through the spring and summer, and I don’t think I’d be lying if I said that I expect it to last a good deal longer than that with consistent listening. Is it Destroyer’s Rubies? No, but it certainly holds up favorably next to it. Thankfully, I’m not in the business of ranking Dan Bejar’s work on some mysterious scale.

At this point, it would take a downpour of brilliant releases to seal this one out of the top ten. It is, I think, one of the few surefire bets of the year.

“… this is an early contender for album of the year — when the end comes, don’t forget about this January masterpiece.” — Me, in January.

Yeah, I’d say it’s held up just fine.

Released this Week: Regina, The Rapture, The Horrible Crowes, Roberts & Lord

Every week, we’ll take a look at some new releases (not all of them, unfortunately!) and talk a little about them and give you a chance to listen. God bless Tuesdays!

Regina — Soita Mulle

While people in the U.S. are busy sleeping, Regina are busy making beautiful indie pop in Helsinki. Unless they record at night. That’s possible. Check out “Unessa” and “Haluan Sinut” from Soita Mulle, due out September 20 on Friendly Fire. They’ll be releasing the album in Finland tomorrow.


The Rapture — In the Grace Of Your Love

In The Grace Of Your Love: More dance rock from the band that helped kick off the post-punk revival in the early 2000s. Stream it right here and give it a listen while you make some food. Or, you know, something. Dance, maybe.


The Horrible Crowes — Elsie

The Horrible Crowes, Brian Fallon’s new project, ranges from moody to energetic, but it usually falls on the side of the former. The instrumentation’s solid if not stunning, and that’s probably enough motive to give it a listen. If you’re only up for one track, try “Sugar,” but the whole thing’s available on SoundCloud.


Roberts & Lord — Eponymous

Rafter Roberts & Simon Lord have produced an endearing debut on Asthmatic Kitty: Eponymous promises some vaguely unconventional instrumentation and a wonderful sense of timing. Listen to “Oblique” and “Windmill” below and try not to get sucked into the sound. Check out more from Roberts in his project Rafters and more from Lord in Simian.


Father, Son, Holy Ghost sees Girls reaching toward new styles

Father, Son, Holy Ghost

When Girls released Album two years ago, most reactions were incredibly supportive of their debut effort. It was a stunning indie rock album that avoided the complications flooding the genre at the time — it wasn’t soaked in reverb, the band seemed to understand when it was okay to let things quiet down for a few minutes, there was obvious passion involved — and as a result, it was named one of the top albums of 2009.

In November, Girls charged out with Broken Dreams Club, a six-song EP that saw the band moving in a forward direction, trying out a new feel while retaining the unique value of Christopher Owen’s vocal outlet and the relaxed mode that made Album a sonic joy.

Shift forward to 2011: In 8 days, the band’s second full-length effort, Father, Son, Holy Ghost hits shelves. It’s again the band moving in a forward direction, taking what they did with Broken Dreams Club, picking up the successes and weeding out the failures (or half-failures — it’s a very good EP) and adding a boost of excitement.

Now, that’s not to imply that it’s all fleet-footed and stunning — for example, the delicately named “Vomit” shows the band slowing things down more than they have before. But when it comes time to kick things into that higher gear, there’s no fear to be found. Where Album was at times daunting in its consistency, Father, Son, Holy Ghost takes a more varied approach.

Check out the video for Vomit

Where instrumentation is concerned, there’s a clear inclination toward a strange country music melded with the San Francisco band’s indie rock sound. They’ve managed to combine that laid-back big-city feel with something a bit more rural, and while the sound is a little lacking in the refined quality you’d expect from others practicing an indie with country music aesthetic, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Girls.

Father, Son, Holy Ghost is what the band needed to do for their sophomore release. They’ve avoided staying dreadfully the same (though I’m not sure it would have provoked huge complaints) while treading some new ground as a band. It’s neither as raw nor as exciting as Album, but at the same time, it’s more musically engaging and interesting, and it’s proof that there’s more to Girls than a great album and an EP.

Track Review: Lotte Kestner – “Halo”

Lotte Kestner

Even the meekest and most pretentious hipster on earth should clearly admit Beyonce Knowles has a voice that can call upon the angels of the midnight hour tstare the world down until all of their children are safe.  We also know, based upon the words of the one of the finest artists of the modern world, that she made “THE GREATEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME!!!”.  But, what happens when the king of modern R&B is unintentionally outdone?  Is it possibly that a goddess from the independent music world could legitimize a pop princess?  The answer is yes.  Yes, because the great Anna-Lynne Williams decided she would strive for such a feat.

Lotte Kestner — “Halo” | download

Lotte Kestner’s (Anna-Lynne William’s solo project) latest album, a collection of somewhat obscure covers, is obviously beautiful.  Her interpretations of Trash Can Sinatras and Interpol are obviously commendable as she spews her beautiful vocal chords upon the world.  But, somewhere on the bonus disc of the aptly titled Stolen, we find the wife of the hip hop legend Sean Carter.  We find Williams creating something so sensual and captivating, it is extremely hard to believe these words did not come straight from her heart, but from any given songwriter who will probably always remain nameless.

Beyonce can sing.  This is obvious.  But, anyone who hears Lotte Kestner spill out her heart to the same words the lady of R&B once did, should instantly realize that an improvement was made.  Should Mrs. Carter ever come across this track, I can feel that even she would agree that she was trumped.  Hopefully she can understand.  And if she doesn’t, we can still be entirely thankful that we have beautiful voices all over the world.  From Knowles to Williams, we can be happy for these tones of beauty that plague even our darkest moments.  Within these folk’s talents, we can find peace.  We can find love.
Lotte Kestner’s latest album “Stolen”, and the 5 song bonus EP, featuring “Halo”, can be found at  The critically acclaimed debut of Lotte Kestner, “China Mountain”, can also be purchased from the site as well.

Jonathan Jones readies Utah, Idaho tour in support of Community Group

Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones of We Shot The Moon is coming to you, Utah! Yes, the piano man behind the acclaimed indie pop troubadours We Shot The Moon is striking out on his own to support his latest solo effort, Community Group. He’s got a swell band to cover his ass on the way through the Inland Northwest as well. To help distribute the wealth of piano laced excellence, Jones has enlisted his fellow Moonies, as well as some new recruits including Spokane, Wa., based drummer Ben Hilzinger (The Young Professionals). It is suffice to say, something brilliant is in the work for you his already adoring fans.

Community Group is likely to be known as Jonathan Jones’s finest work to date. One listen to a track like “East Coast Feeling” brings to might the powers that be as being ever present and phenomenal in an entirely non-theological sense. Only the sense that one man’s sensual ability can bring your heart ablaze as melodies and harmonized beauty sweep and swill through your body. The kind of feelings only a wonderful song can invoke within you. So, find your way to whatever fine venue our hero of virtue and musical genius might be spitting his venom of positivity into the faces of an adoring crowd. Go ahead. Go get spit on!

To hear Community Group in its entirety and for three free downloads, including the amazing “East Coast Feeling”, visit

Find Jonathan Jones in a city near you very soon:

6/22 – Logan, UT @ Logan Arthouse

6/23 – Provo, UT @ Velour

6/24 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

6/25 – Rexburg, ID @ Hemming Village Complex (FREE Show)

6/27 – Boise, ID @ The Venue

Brian Eno evokes youthful exuberance with new record

Drums Between the Bells, vinyl edition artwork

Brian Eno’s 40-year career has seen him push the bounds of art rock, innovate ambient and redefine the sounds we hear every day.

His last album, 2010’s Small Craft on a Milk Sea, is still sinking in, but Eno’s wasting no time in sending out blasts of experimental, boundary-pushing music. Drums Between the Bells, due for release July 4, promises to evoke that same imaginative young man that literally shifted musical paradigms.

It’s a dazzling combination of music and poetry — a marriage that so often turns over-wrought and uninspired, but Eno and the poet behind the work, Rick Holland, dart around the obstacles with such ease — it’s clear that this is the work of two artists who know their way around their respective craft.

Brian Eno – bless this space (taken from Drums Between The Bells) by Warp Records

Drums Between the Bells, Physical Editions

The three released tracks, “Glitch”, “Pour it Out” and “Bless This Space” are not just full of the electronic work Eno’s mastered — they’re boiling over with it, and the only thing keeping these from spilling into chaos is the poetry. The music’s familiar in a way, but there’s an exuberance in the instrumentals that feels more akin to Here Come the Warm Jets than anything he’s done since.

Brian Eno – pour it out (taken from Drums Between The Bells) by Warp Records

Drums Between the Bells will be released July 4 on Warp Records and is available for preorder from Brian Eno’s online store in the UK and Bleep in the US. It’s being released as a 2-CD hardback edition and as a double LP 12” vinyl.

Read more about Drums Between the Bells on Brian Eno’s site.

Brian Eno – glitch (taken from Drums Between The Bells) by Warp Records

Brief: David Bazan’s latest showcases efficiency, secularism

Strange Negotiations

When an artist “goes solo,” does the sophomore album rule of thumb still apply? No matter, David Bazan’s avoided that particular pitfall with the solid Strange Negotiations with — not grace, but something like it. He’s never been a particularly graceful artist, and it’s one of his enviable strengths.

When he was fronting Pedro the Lion, Bazan was clumsy, awkward even, but he was ruthlessly efficient. That’s continued into his solo career: Bazan doesn’t just throw ideas into a song; he molds and crafts them to a point that the music almost seems secondary — not an ignored secondary aspect, and one that’s not given short shrift. by David Bazan

…This is an album that’s more lyrically subtle than Curse Your Branches, and in that same way, it’s sounds a deal less angry. Of course, we still have lines like, “Wake up in the morning / Check your revelation / Make sure you know it as well as you can,” in Level With Yourself. It’s clear that Strange Negotiations is not a wholly secular piece, but Bazan is clearly moving in that direction.

Read the entirety of this review written by Matthew Montgomery at No Ripcord.

(from No Ripcord)

Cool Albums, Cool Art #1: Yo La Tengo

And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out

Yo La Tengo — a band with a penchant for album art that lives on its own but never overpowers the music (that would be a feat!) — produced one of my favorite albums, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. Musically, it’s sublime, and its packaged in something strangely compelling. The photographs of Gregory Crewdson line the album and provide scenery that matches the musical approach the band takes. They’re surreal, evocative — even edging toward creepy at times — but they feel genuine and believable.

Check out Crewdson:

• Crewdson at White Cube
• Crewdson at ArtNet