Stranded In Stereo: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Little Hands of Asphalt

Those of you not paying attention will probably not realize that there is quite the musical renaissance going on in Norway right now, and I was lucky enough to see it in action in February when I was invited to the by:Larm Festival and Conference in Oslo. The list of bands playing representing all of the Nordic territories and I discovered some great music that week, including Norwegian act Little Hands of Asphalt.

The band eschews the dark shoegaze many of their contemporaries are playing for a refined, absolutely pure pop, a band whose name can be uttered in the same breath as local kids I Was a King.

Their LP Leap Years is available domestically on Spoon Train Audio and in the UK through Lazy Acre Records.

[mp3]: "Bait"

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Million Years

Sometimes music just clicks, like Tom Petty or Bloc Party or Blur. It's music that's timeless because it immediately strikes a chord, getting stuck in your head for days at a time. These bands have an ability to write tunes that move millions, and you can't really explain it, but they have staying power because they connect with each and every person that listens.

Young Brooklyn quartet A Million Years is cut from the same cloth, as evidenced by their debut Incadescent EP. It's an early statement from a band that has a lot of life in it, and that's nowhere more than evident than on "By Yourself." The song adroitly veers down a path that is both familiar and new, quickly turning into a perfect summer pop nugget. It's one of the year's best songs.

[mp3]: "Suspicious"

EDIT: You can download the band's entire EP here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


With the new release of their Tour EP at Insound, Chicago’s Apteka has been cooking up some good tunes. Thrashing guitars and Perry Farrell-esque vocals create the perfect storm for this four-piece. Their influences include everything from Bauhaus to Shellac—and it shows.

Having SXSW 2009 under their belt has gotten the attention of many. Their track, “The Sheet” has been featured on the Future Sounds 27 compilation. They have also been played on New York’s BreakThruRadio.

They also have a new track, “Traitors”, fresh from their practice sesh a few hours ago. Check it out here.

[mp3]: "Traitors"


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Photo by Gabe Benveniste

Step aside, Mika, Fergie, and all those in between. Oakland’s Oona has beats straight from that ghetto blaster in the attic. Her track “Remote Control”, featuring Jet Stream, is packed with that familiar funk and gives the biggest wallflower a reason to dance. Other tracks sample jazzy pianos and harp, as well as classic grand pianos used for poppier tracks. Whatever the vibe is, those vocals transcend and carry throughout each track.

Accompanied by three other members, Oona has recently been nominated for an MTV VMA for Best Breakout Bay Area Artist. Vote for them here:

[mp3]: "Trouble"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Clinical Trials

Who doesn’t dig the perfect mix of sassy and sultry female vocals? Perfectly executing the use of the MIDI file, along with edgy guitars and complimentary synth, Clinical Trials brings it. Vocals and main mastermind, Somer Bingham had her solo time, playing festivals like the Anti*Pop Music Fest and Phasefest in D.C. Her songs are all internally inspired by the ups and downs we all know ourselves.

She now joins three other members who assist with beats, bass, and keyboards live. Their performances are the perfect conglomeration of loud, dark, grundgey, and dancey sounds.

Their self-titled debut EP is set to be out this fall. Keep your ears peeled.

[mp3]: "Hey"


Monday, August 24, 2009

Phenomenal Handcalp Band @ the El Rey Tonight (Los Angeles)

Photo by FotonovaNYC/AlexSolmssen

If their name sounds like a band from your parents’1967 Summer of Love record collection, you wouldn’t be too far off. Though not from the ‘60s hippie era, The Phenomenal Handclap Band is a collective of artists and musicians who echo elements of harmonious times past in their epic blending of disparate genres. At the same time, their psychedelic throwbacks to the past do not stop them from pushing the boundaries of modern music. NPR says, 'The Phenomenal Handclap Band fills venues with a mesmerizing sound and eight-person stage presence. The band is equal parts psychedelia, proto-disco, heavy rock ‘n’ roll, ‘60s soul and hip-hop – what NPR Music calls “a perfect mix of everything from the past 40 years of popular music.'

Formed by New York DJs Daniel Collas and Sean Marquand, their album also features members of TV On The Radio, Antibalas, The Dap Kings, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, L’Trimm, Calla, The Mooney Suzuki, Si Se, and Honeycut, just to name a few. Their self-titled debut (Friendly Fire Recordings) has received critical acclaim from both the US and overseas. The Guardian UK praises, 'The PHB are astronauts of progressive soul, moored at the stellar point where rock, funk and psychedelia bloom into cosmic-disco amazingness.' Join them for the second night of their first ever Los Angeles gigs Monday 08.24 at the El Rey (5515 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA) and Tuesday 08.25 at Cinespace (6356 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd Level Hollywood, CA 90028).

[mp3]: "15 to 20"
[mp3]: "You'll Disappear"


Lights On

Photo by Deb Caponera

The lights are on and they’re not turning off anytime soon. San Diego’s five-piece, Lights On, keeps us whimsically peachy with their garden of tracks. “John and Anne” is a soft personal love letter duet coated with youthful bliss.

Making #14 on HypeMachine’s charts, this band reminds us of the bright artists on your summer playlists, including Elefant, Polyphonic Spree, Stars, and even Modern English. One Kind Radio blog reviewed their EP, “Waiting for the Heart to Beat”, as “varied, solid sounding, and promising”.

Lights On has played several shows in New York this month before they make their way back home to San Diego to finish off a show at the Beauty Bar on August 20th. If you are in the area, stop by for a listen.

[mp3]: "Boy"


Friday, August 21, 2009

The Growlers

Straddling county lines with roots in Long Beach and Costa Mesa, The Growlers bring a bit of grit and dust from your parents’ old record collection. With riffs like The Animals and vocals like Devendra, it’s safe to say that these guys have their own charm working for them.

Let’s not forget that these guys have a "Greatest Hits" album under their belt. With that said, the band continues to work on new hits to add to the repertoire. Beginning September 27th, they will be releasing couples each month that will consist of 2 new songs until the full-length album is done. They are also currently working on 2 music videos for the first couple.

Currently, they are finishing a residency at The Echo every Monday night. Enjoy them for the next two shows on August 24 and August 31.

[mp3]: "Soul of Coral"


Thursday, August 20, 2009

A B & the Sea

Photo by: Nate Rea

Just when you thought you got your alphabet right, you discover A B & The Sea. The SF-based band boasts traces of California surf sound, mixed with good ole familiar contemporary indie. Chris Chu of the Morning Benders discovered and helped to produce the foursome.

Featured in SF Weekly’s “Best of 2009”, we’d have to support such a mention. One of their tracks, “We Love the Life That We’ve Got” is the perfect anthem for your good days.

The band plays two shows at the end of the month. Do check them out:
08/25- The Independent- San Francisco
08/26 Spaceland- LA


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


It’s a feline! It’s a dino! Nope, it’s Ventura’s own Cheetahsaurus. The band just posted two new songs from their upcoming LP. “Lights Out (early bird gets the worm)” has a dreamy mood, much reminiscent to The Arcade Fire. “Black Eyes and Alibis” is one to hear for the vocals alone. Both tracks prove to be an impressive preview of the album to come.

The 5-piece recently played August’s LA Rumble (the monthly party we co-sponsor), completely mesmerizing those who got a chance to peep the set. Keep your ears peeled for the new LP—but until then, stream the tunes via their Myspace.

[mp3]: "Trailblazer"


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Joel Plaskett Video: "Through & Through & Through"

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that we're HUGE Joel Plaskett fans. In a true mark of fandom, I was one of the only five people that showed up on a bitterly cold Sunday night for a Boston gig a few years ago.

This man has made some seriously great music, with his band Thrush Hermit, The Emergency, and on several solo albums. His latest album, Three, came out earlier this year in Canada and is massive -- it's a triple album, and although I have yet to hear it in it's entirety, I am sure it's as great as everything this man has touched. If you've ever wondered what Ted Leo might sound like if he came from Nova Scotia, then here's your chance.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Bombay Bicycle Club Video: "Magnet"

I just watched this video two times in a row. This is the third single off of Bombay Bicycle Club's debut album.

The album still has yet to be released in the US. It's off of their debut album I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, and it's one of my favorite songs off of it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chew Lips Remixed

Last month, London-based electronic popsters Chew Lips released their second single on Kitsune, "Salt Air." It's yet another promising statement from the group who have quickly become one of the in demand outfits in England. Posted below is a remix from Plastician, which is unavailable on this single.

[mp3]: "Salt Air" (Plastician remix)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mumford and Sons Sign to Island UK

It was a rainy day in London in May '08 and I had just returned from a short pilgrimage up North (Leeds, to be exact) and I was wedging in a few meetings before heading down to Brighton for the Great Escape. One of the meetings was with Laura Marling's management, who insisted that I see Mumford and Sons that night.

I made it to Sallis Benney Theatre just before the band was to go on, and honestly, it was love at first sight. By the end of their first song, I was sold -- the music was enrapturing, and I've been an obsessive ever since. First it was "White Blank Page," then "Little Lion Man," then "Sigh No More," and now "Dust Bowl Dance." The band has s many songs to love, which is why I am ecstatic about their debut album, which is called Sigh No More, and will be out in October on Island in the UK.

No word on a US label, but like most bands like this, the album will likely see a release here early next year with a lukewarm promotional push. Let's hope that doesn't happen -- this band deserves better.

[mp3]: "White Blank Page" (BBC Radio Session)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Fitz & the Tantrums Video: "Winds of Change"

This is the first proper video for Los Angeles soul act Fitz & the Tantrums which does a great job showcasing the band. If you haven't seen Fitz yet, it's definitely a great experience, and coming this fall, you'll get to see himself outside of LA, as he will be opening a string of west coast dates for Flogging Molly. Watch this space for more info.

9/10 - Radisson - Sacramento, CA
9/11 - Fox Theatre - Oakland, CA
9/12 - Greek Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
9/14 - The Senator Theatre - Chico, CA
9/15 - Roseland Theatre - Portand, OR
9/16 - Knitting Factory - Spokane, WA
9/17 - Marymoor Ampitheater - Redmond, WA
9/21 - House Of Blues - San Diego, CA
9/24 - Pearl-Palms Concert - Las Vegas, NV
9/25 - In The Venue - Salt Lake City, UT
9/26 - Red Rocks - Morrison, CO

Check out the live video for "Breakin' the Chains of Love."

[mp3]: "Winds of Change" (Live)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lightspeed Champion: New Song

Feeling a bit wistful, I decided to browse some of the old Lightspeed Champion videos on Youtube, at least the proper ones, as each one of has something special about it that makes me feel all warm inside. "Tell Me What It's Worth" reminds me of walking around London, and the pure joy that it gives me, while "Midnight Surprise" is one my favorite songs. The concept of the video could easily fall flat on its face, but the finished product works brilliantly.

"Tell Me What It's Worth"

"Midnight Surprise"

Mr. Hynes has moved from London to Brooklyn and is working on his second album. "Heavy Purple" is a teaser of what's to come, and while it may exhibit a bit too much of Prince, it's still a killer song. According to him, it "sounds nothing at all like the album, just a bit of fun..."

[mp3]: "Heavy Purple"

Friday, August 7, 2009

Noah & the Whale: New Album

Noah and the Whale are set to release their second album, the excellent The First Days Of Spring later this year. It hits UK shelves on 31 August, while the US will see it on 06 October.

US dates forthcoming.

3 London ICA - SOLD OUT
4 London ICA - SOLD OUT
27 Gateshead The Sage
28 Leeds The Cockpit
29 Manchester Club Academy

1 Oxford O2 Academy
2 London Koko
4 Norwich Waterfront
5 Cambridge Junction
7 Brighton Concorde
8 Derby Rockhouse
10 Exeter Phoenix
11 Bath Komedia
12 Falmouth Princess Pavillion
14 Sheffield Leadmill
15 Glasgow Oran Mor Auditorium

The album will also be paired with a film, available as a DVD the same day.
You can see the film at the following.
7th + 8th August - Belladrum Festival (Read Bed Stage) - Inverness
9th August - Big Chill Festival (Film Four Tent) - Malvern Hills
10th August - Cameo Picturehouse - Edinburgh*
30th August - Watershed - Bristol*
31st August - Cornerhouse - Manchester*
1st September - Film Theatre - Glasgow*
2nd September - Showroom - Sheffield*
4th September - ICA - London*
* = includes Q&A with Charlie Fink

The track heard is "Blue Skies" and will be the first single off of the album.

[mp3]: "The First Days of Spring"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Rumble LA: One year Anniversary

Not only is it the one year anniversary of me being in Los Angeles, it's the first birthday of the Rumble LA! Tonight's event is special, and not because of the totally obvious reason of the great bands we have -- Chief (newly minted Domino Records signees), Princeton (our fourth flirtation with a Kanine Records artist), and Cheetahsaurus (Ventura County all stars whom I am very excited to see), but also because of the industry mixer we're having beforehand. Please don't be fashionably late.

Gig starts @ 9 pm with help on the decks from DJ S.I.S.

It all goes down at 3 Clubs in Hollywood (Vine and Santa Monica)


The Drums

Not quite sure how to pin down Brooklyn's The Drums. Could they funtimecore? The tunes are catchy and fun, but in the least cheesy way possible. It makes you wonder how Brooklyn could ever be grumpy when you have a band this positive, that's shining this bright. They somehow filter Britpop through '60s American garage and make it work.

If Surfside 6 were on the air in 2009, we know who would be doing the theme song.

The band will be having a CD release show at Don Hill's tomorrow night in New York. The gig starts at 11 pm, and the band hits the stage at 1.30am.

[mp3]: "Don't Be a Jerk, Johnny"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SIS At The Cinema: Big Fan

Now that Rusty isn't around here to spout off about Jerry "Look at me" Jones and the Dallas Cowboys, we can delve into more interesting football topics, like the Philadelphia Eagles. While Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt, is about a 35 year old fan of the New York Giants who receives a beatdown by one of his idols, if you look closely at the end of the trailer, it would seem that Oswalt is wearing a Donovan McNabb jersey.

So what could it be? A dream sequence? Oswalt feels as though the Giants failed him and turns to their hated rivals?

Team allegiances aside, this looks like an excellent film, one that should be worth checking out whether you're a football fan or not.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Danko Jones on Tour

There is a new Danko Jones album out this autumn and to celebrate, the band will be supporting classic punk band The Damned for a string of dates across the US. The Canadian band, who have achieved genuine rock hero status in Europe, will no doubt be adding more dates and more action to support this fifth album.

Wed. Oct. 21 Cleveland, OH x House of Blues
Thu. Oct. 22 Cincinnati, OH x Bogart's
Fri. Oct. 23 Pittsburgh, PA x Diesel
Sat. Oct. 24 Detroit, MI x St. Andrew's
Mon. Oct. 26 Chicago, IL x The Metro
Wed. Oct. 28 Denver, CO x Bluebird
Thu. Oct. 29 SLC, UT In the Venue
Sat. Oct. 31 Seattle, WA x Showbox
Sun. Nov. 1 Portland, OR x Wonder Ballroom

[mp3]: "Code of the Road"

Monday, August 3, 2009

New LoveLikeFire Video: "Boredom"

Bay Area band LoveLikeFire is set to release their third single, "Boredom," on 24 August. The band's debut album Tear Ourselves Away is out 17 September on Heist or Hit Records in the UK.

[mp3]: "Abigail Belle of Kilronan" (Magnetic Fields cover)