The Griz!

Grizzly Bear

As we officially enter the final stretch in our wait for Grizzly Bear‘s breathtaking third full-length, Veckatimest, the band has hit us with a few excellent tidbits to help make the next few days go by that much faster. Yesterday, the boys dropped by the studios of WYNC Radio to give an interview interspersed with performances of some stripped-down, acoustic versions of songs from the upcoming record. I’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of Grizzly Bear’s live sessions — they’re always remarkably tight, textured, and penetrating — and this most recent foray is surely one of their finest sets. You can stream the whole session (“All We Ask”, “Two Weeks”, “Dory”, “While You Wait for the Others”, “Too Little Too Late (JoJo cover)”, “Foreground”) over at NPR.

And now the first video from Veckatimest has arrived. The fantastic lead single “Two Weeks” was the subject for prolific music video director (and member of The Directors Bureau) Patrick Daughters and not unlike Grizzly Bear’s video for “The Knife” (directed by Encyclopedia Pictura), Daughters’ take on “Two Weeks” is pretty effective at fostering some discomfort for the viewer… at least this viewer. Watch the band get their explosive ventriloquist dummy/zombie choir boy on down below.

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Download: Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
Buy: Pre-order Veckatimest from Insound on CD or vinyl and get an awesome free poster (while supplies last). You can stream the whole record at Grizzly Bear’s myspace and don’t forget about their tour (which starts in two days). Check out the dates here.

St. Vincent: Actor Pull

St. Vincent

Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark, who records as St. Vincent, is set to release her sophomore full-length on May 5th via 4AD. Don’t get it twisted, this bona fide indie heartthrob is much more than just a pretty face — aside from her remarkable debut album, Marry Me (which I must point out is an Arrested Development reference), Clark has also spent time as a member of The Polyphonic Spree as well as Sufjan Stevens‘ touring band and before that attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. But, like any great musician, the elements of her impressive past are really just becoming notes in a constant progression as she unravels a range of emotions and themes in increasingly majestic elegance.

St. Vincent’s latest opus, Actor, is not primarily an Arrested Development reference (though it could be), but instead appears to be an allusion to the songwriting process she adopted for the album. While cycling through some of her favorite films (including Picnic at Hanging Rock, Badlands, Pierrot Le Fou, Stardust Memories, The Wizard of Oz, and Sleeping Beauty) with the volume turned down, Clark began each song on Actor as a kind of soundtrack for particular scenes. These musical interpretations were later fleshed out and propelled into their own artistic orbit with exceptional songwriting, clever lyrics, rich arrangements, varied instrumentation, and notable guitar chops. At once cinematic, intimate, genuine, eloquent and at times playful, these songs represent a new level of artistry for St. Vincent and yield a record that is more comfortable, confident, and cohesive than her previous work.

One of Annie Clark’s most apparent strengths is her ability to incorporate ostensibly disparate elements in graceful juxtaposition. Throughout Actor, sweeping woodwinds and strings collide with intricate and occasionally crushing guitar work, bubbling synth, driving electro-bass, and moments of unsettling dissonance. Album opener “The Strangers” is a pastiche of nearly all these elements — its brief, ethereal introduction quickly fades into forceful kick drum stomps and a mysterious swirl of acoustic guitar picks and what could be effects-laden harmonics. Accented by woodwind flourishes, Annie’s angelic vocals float atop this slowly building crescendo until it all explodes into a dense, distorted guitar attack.  The latest single, “Actor Out of Work”, is far more immediate; just over two minutes, the track opens with a quick intake of breath from Clark before an unrelenting burst of bold drums and guitars pierce the momentary silence, with splices of noisy synth cutting in between her smooth, swaying vocals.

Somehow Marry Me was criminally overlooked when I compiled my list of favorite albums from 2007, but I can assure you that Actor won’t experience a similar fate.

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Download: St. Vincent – The Strangers

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Download: St. Vincent – Actor Out of Work
Buy: You can pre-order Actor from Beggars Group USA as MP3 ($8), FLAC ($10), CD ($12), or LP ($12, free mp3 download).
Watch: Check out the video for “Actor Out of Work”, which features a series of actors that make the fire too real and fail to highlight the sale for Annie Clark, who sits in aloof, melodious judgment.

Also, be sure to go see St. Vincent on her upcoming U.S. tour with Pattern is Movement. I haven’t seen her as of yet, but it sounds like her live show is solid. Tour dates included after the jump.

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Grizzly Bear: “Cheerleader”

Grizzly Bear

Many of you have probably already listened to the upcoming album from Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear (posed above in a promo shot that I’m assuming was conceived as “come-hither Kraftwerk”), which leaked earlier this month in the form of painfully low-quality mp3s. If you haven’t yet, try not to. The leak really doesn’t do Veckatimest justice. Luckily, Grizzly Bear and Warp Records have made exercising that restraint all the easier with the release of the first official mp3 from the record.

Standout “Cheerleader” features a myriad of gracefully layered sounds, from sparse flourishes of percussion and surging guitar riffs, to delicate accents of brass and woodwinds, to ethereal vocal work and a haunting children’s choir. The production, fully revealed here, is also predictably incredible. These guys have really stepped their game up for this one…

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Download: Grizzly Bear – Cheerleader
Buy: You can pre-order Veckatimest directly from the band (or elsewhere) over at their webpage. The record comes out May 26th on Warp Records.

Grizzly Bear also start a Veckatimest-supporting tour at the end of May, check out the dates here (complete with links to buy tickets for the all the gigs).

Shugo Tokumaru: Exit (U.S. Release)

Shugo Tokumaru, pictured here in his magical music lab.

One of the best artists hailing from Japan these days, intricate experimental pop-folker Shugo Tokumaru, has finally released his latest record in the U.S.  Last year’s Exit, another one of my favorite albums from 2007, is the first of his to see a release in the States and came out yesterday via Almost Gold Recordings.  So, for all of you who haven’t been able to check out this excellent record (or those who’ve downloaded it), lend some support and pick up a copy from your local record store or just order it online.

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Download: Shugo Tokumaru – Parachute
Buy: Order Exit from Amazon or the iTunes Store.

Shugo will also be playing a few shows in the U.S. and Canada. If you’re anywhere near these cities, I’d recommend you make a serious effort to get there… unless you plan on going to Japan, chances are you won’t get many opportunities to see him again.

Sept. 13 — Chicago, IL — Empty Bottle (Wire’s Adventures in Music Festival)*
Sept. 23 — New York, NY — Mercury Lounge (w/ Twi the Humble Feather)**
Oct. 3 — Montréal, QC — O Patro Vys (Pop Montréal Festival, w/ special guests)

*Solo (with Lau Nau, Blues Control, and Flying Lotus)
**Feat. Jon Natchez & Perrin Cloutier of Beirut & Lawson White of So Percussion

Complex Full of Phantoms

Tera Melos

Tera Melos is back again this year, now teaming up with Texas-based aggro-instrumental rockers By the End of Tonight for a split EP, Complex Full of Phantoms. These guys just can’t be stopped, giving us even more schizophrenic insanity and lacing their crushingly complex math-riffage with sporadic vocals and a bit more dreamlike, ambient electronica this time around.

We’re so ready for another full-length, guys. But, until then… the EP comes out in early November on Temporary Residence.

Listen:

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Download:
By the End of Tonight – Philthy Collins

Listen:

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Download:
Tera Melos – When Worms Learn to Fly
Buy: Pre-order Complex Full of Phantoms from Temporary Residence.

Not only is Tera Melos working hard in the studio this year, but they’ve also been in a near constant state of touring. Check out the dates of their upcoming tour with Heavy Heavy Low Low after the jump.

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This One’s a Facemelter…

Facing New York / Tera Melos Summer Tour

I had nearly forgotten about the Facing New York / Tera Melos tour that starts tonight in Texas. This may or may not have been caused by my severe disappointment that Tera Melos is dropping out a couple days early… a couple days before the show in San Diego. Either way, I recommend that anyone in the vicinity of a stop on this tour set aside the evening. Between the technical wizardry and pure ferocity of Tera Melos and the soaring pop-punk/prog (it works much better than you think it might) of Facing New York, you will not leave disappointed.

Remaining dates:

Jun 28 – Red 7 – Austin, TX*
Jun 29 – The Fallout – Baytown, TX*
Jun 30 – The Incubator – McAllen, TX*
Jul 1 – Atomix – San Antonio, TX*
Jul 2 – Chic’s – El Paso, TX*
Jul 3 – Skrappy’s – Tucson, AZ*
Jul 4 – Phix Gallery – Phoenix, AZ*
Jul 5 – The Troubadour – Hollywood, CA
Jul 6 – Che Cafe – San Diego, CA

*with Tera Melos

Listen:

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Download: Facing New York – Full Turn
Buy: Order their self-titled album from Insound.

Listen:

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Download: Tera Melos – A Spoonful of Slurry
Buy: The extremely limited, vinyl-only Drugs to the Dear Youth EP (which this song is from) is sadly sold out at the moment… however Tera Melos does plan to release a CD version very soon. For now, I recommend you pick up their immaculate (untitled) debut album over at Springman Records.

Maps & Atlases

Maps & Atlases

Maps & Atlases

Maps & Atlases released one of the best EPs of last year, and I’ve been fiending for some new material ever since. No word on any plans for a full-length, but they are embarking on a short West Coast tour:

Apr 3 – Chop Suey – Seattle, WA
Apr 5 – Towne Lounge – Portland, OR
Apr 7 – The Egg – San Francisco, CA (w/ Tera Melos)
Apr 8 – The Barnyard – Corvis, CA
Apr 9 – Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
Apr 10 – The Casbah – San Diego, CA (w/ Nurses)

I’m particularly excited to see how this band holds up live, as much of their sound is based on ridiculous math rock virtuosity. The videos I’ve seen on YouTube, though most are of awful quality, suggest that they are just as tight as they are on their record. I just don’t understand how that guy can sing AND play those face melting riffs with that kind of precision. I recommend checking them out if you live near any of these shows… especially San Francisco. Tera Melos, as those of you who are familar will attest, is quite the experience.

Listen:

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Download: Maps & Atlases – Every Place Is a House
Buy: Order Tree, Swallows, Houses at their Merchsquad page