Moroccan Role: August 2006

Moroccan Role

A Totally Kiler Music/MP3 Blog.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Newest Blog Darlings and Band I'm Excited About:: ANNUALS

My initial exposure to Annuals was via their tune "Brother" and its entry onto Pitchfork's Infinite Mixtape series. The P4k blurb called the band a "fantasy hybrid of Animal Collective, the Arcade Fire, and Broken Social Scene" and this description grabbed my attention and made me excited, yet not-a-little skeptical. I feared this was a gross example of critical hyperbole. Upon a cursory listen to "Brother" (through my laptop speakers, even), I was totally impressed.

This band's sound will be immediately familiar to those who listen to modern indie-rock and to round out the above-mentioned blurb from Pitchfork, let me provide this: "Brother" features the raw, explosive energy reminiscent of the rockers on Animal Collective's Feels, Arcade Fire-type grand orchestration, and even a bit of Broken Social Scene's communal vibe and densely layered production. The other two tunes I've heard are just as good, albeit maybe not quite as immediately compelling. "Bleary Eyed" illustrates the band effectively craft a (mostly) straight-forward rock song and "Dry Clothes" is a toe-tapping, head-bobbing indie pop number. On these three tracks, Annuals provide a fairly strong case that they are no one-trick-pony and have the versitility, chops, and songwriting skills to craft an impressive full-length.

Annuals will release their debut album Be He Me October 17th through Ace Fu Records-- home of MAN MAN, DeVotchKa, An Albatross, and Pinback. The band will be sharing some dates with Man Man and Art Brut before hitting the road with Tapes 'n Tapes in October.

While I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the album to arrive, the band has made a few tracks available for download. If you are into the music featured on this site, you will like Annuals; it's that simple. Enjoy these tracks and watch out for these guys, it looks like they are gonna be huge. With Pitchfork's main man Ryan Schreiber and many influential bloggers on-board, how could they possibly not be?

MP3: Annuals - "Brother"
MP3: Annuals - "Bleary Eyed"
MP3: Annuals - "Dry Clothes"

ANNUALS Tour Dates:
Sep 1 The Brewery Raleigh, NC w/ House of Fools
Sep 12 Khyber Philadelphia, PA
Sep 14 Sin-E (KEXP) New York, NY w/ Friction
Sep 15 North Six Brooklyn, NY
Sep 16 The Middle East Boston, MA
Sep 18 Grog Shop Cleveland, OH w/ Man Man
Sep 19 Subterranean Chicago, IL
Oct 19 Irving Plaza New York, NY w/ Art Brut
Oct 20 Starlight Ballroom Philadelphia, PA w/ Art Brut
Oct 22 Bottletree Birmingham, AL w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 24 Club Down Under Tallahassee, FL w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 25 Common Grounds Gainesville w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 26 The Social Orlando, FL w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 27 Cafe 11 St. Augustine, FL w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 28 Tasty World Athens, GA w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 29 The Loft Atlanta, GA w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 30 The Local 506 Chapel Hill, NC w/ Tapes 'n Tapes
Oct 31 Black Cat Washington, DC w/ Tapes 'n Tapes

Visit Annuals on MySpace.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Couple of New Releases of Note This Week:: 8/22

Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection

Singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen's sophomore album was released this week on Sub Pop and this 15 track collection is all over the map stylistically. I caught the tailend of Chad's live set nearly a year ago at the Southgate House in Newport, KY when he was opening to Fruit Bats and Rogue Wave. Though I enjoyed his performance and really dig "Clinically Dead" and "Kill Me in My Sleep", I have not absorbed his debut Infiniheart in any real respect and this album marks my first substantial exposure to his music. I cannot say exactly how the new album compares to the debut, but I can definitely say there are some excellent tracks present on Skelliconnection.

VanGaalen employs a distinctively DIY approach to his art-- playing nearly every instrument on his records, recording the material in his "bare-bones" home studio, and even undertaking the illustration of the album artwork and his videos. I have only had the album a few days now, and I'm torn as to whether I prefer his more folk rock-orientated material ala the Neil Youngian "Graveyard" & "Mini TVs", his guitar-driven post-punk "Flower Gardens" & "Burn To Ash", his synth-pop explorations "Red Hot Drops", or his sublime stripped-down acoustic ballads "Sing Me To Sleep". Hell, my favorite track is probably "Dead Ends" and it doesn't fit into any of the above categories. His myriad of influences are readily apparent, but what makes this album special is that fact he transcends these influences (with little-to-no outside help) to create a work that is uniquely his own. HIGHLIGHTS: "Dead Ends", "Burn to Ash", "Sing Me to Sleep"

MP3: Chad VanGaalen - "Dead Ends"
MP3: Chad VanGaalen - "Sing Me to Sleep"
MP3: Chad VanGaalen - "Flower Gardens"

Buy the album here.

BONUS: A highlight from his debut Infiniheart -->
MP3: Chad VanGaalen - "Clinically Dead"

Snowden - Anti-Anti

Snowden's full-length debut saw its release on Jade Tree Records Tuesday. These guys are clear blogger favorites-- briefly skimming through could yield 7 tracks from Anti-Anti at the time of this writing. This Atlanta quintet specialize in melodic, occasionally dark post-punk. The title track is probably the most immediately accessible track here and so what if the intro sounds vaguely like Jimmy Eat World, I dig the songs not-so-subtle poke at hipster concert attendees who assume the requisite completely still with arms crossed stance. The subject matter is not always so light and these dudes are not afraid to tackle politically-tinged material. (see e.g., "Victim Card" & "Counterfeit Rules") So what exactly do they sound like you ask: Take 1 part dance-rock, add a healthy dash of Interpol and a pinch of the Cure, drench the whole thing in classic shoegaze elements (reverb, distortion, and ethereal effects) and stir liberally. HIGHLIGHTS: "Anti-Anti", "Black Eyes", "Counterfeit Rules"

MP3: Snowden - "Anti-Anti"
MP3: Snowden - "Black Eyes"
MP3: Snowden - "Counterfeit Rules"

Buy the album here.


Don't forget Ratatat's new album Classics hit stores this week as well. Click here for info about the album and a couple of killer MP3s.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Akron/Family :: Meek Warrior

I became a fan of Akron/Family upon first hearing their March 2005 self-titled debut album and their excellent tune "Running, Returning". My interest in the band increased significantly upon hearing their late 2005 split LP with Angels of Light. In fact, I still consider their epic psychedelic freak-out jam "Raising the Sparks" (which appeared on the split LP) to be one of the finest songs of last year. Now, they have a "mini" LP due September 25th on Young God Records and I am even more eager to hear their "proper" follow up to their debut album.

Meek Warrior is 7 track collection which features "very special guest Hamid Drake, as well as contributions from members of Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene" and will be sold at a "special low price" (currently $11 on Young God's website). It appears this album is meant to hold-over fans until they finish touring this fall and winter and wrap recording on another new album, to be released early next year on Young God-- this according to Young God Main Man, Micheal Gira.

Though there are a couple of rockers present ("Blessing Force" & "The Rider" (Dolphin Song)), this effort is mostly a subdued and backporch folk affair. Opener, the aforementioned "Blessing Force" has its moments, but ultimately never quite gets off the ground and this 9-and-a-half minute behemoth comes to an end with 2 minutes+ of nearly unlistenable noise. (See also, Pitchfork's track review) The other rocker, "The Rider" (Dolphin Song), suffers a similar fate-- a good melody and guitar lick that are spread too thin over its 7 minute plus run-time and, as the lyrics suggest, the track seems to have "no destination" in mind.

The folk numbers fare much better and have a distinctly Winterish vibe. "Gone Beyond" features simple, yet catchy acoustic guitar figures, minimal percussion, and its one line, "Gone, gone, gone beyond/ gone completely beyond", provides the most memorable vocal melody on the record. The title track is another highlight and finds the guys seemingly at their most comfortable. "Meek Warrior" is a whimsical folk-pop song showcasing acoustic guitar, mandolin, handclaps, and some fine vocal harmonies. Things come to a close nicely with "Love and Space"-- which features barely audible single guitar strums and fine (at least 3 part) southern gospel vocal harmonies.

Meek Warrior was most likely intended to be a gift to tide over fans until their new full-length arrives and as a vehicle to allow these guys to continue their neverending tour itinerary. It is modest effort and probably should not be viewed as a proper album. This collection ultimately serves to make what the more savvy among you already knew even more clear-- Akron/Family are an incredibly exciting young band and potentially a force to be reckoned with. Whether they revert to the more folkish material of their debut and featured prominently on this effort or decide to crank up the electrics ala "Raising the Sparks" and "Moment" on the split LP, provided they remain focused and trim the fat seen on the two rockers on Meek Warrior, these guys can go virtually anywhere from here.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Gone Beyond", "Meek Warrior", "Love and Space"

MP3: Akron/Family - "Gone Beyond"

Buy the album here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out

Viva Voce is comprised of the husband-and-wife duo Kevin and Anita Robinson. Anita handles the guitar work, Kevin mans the skins, and they share vocal duties. Their upcoming Barsuk release, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, will hit stores September 12th. The new album is a pleasant mix of a variety of influences-- from classic psychedelic guitar rock ("Beliver", "When Planets Collide", "So Many Miles", "Faster Than a Dead Horse") to shoegaze pop ("Drown Them Out", "Special Thing"). Get Yr Blood Sucked Out is a dark and sexually-charged affair and is more of a "loud" rock album than the usual release from a band on Barsuk's roster.

The album starts strong with "Believer", a straight-ahead acoustic guitar and heavy-handed percussion stomper with occasional harmonica, fuzzed-out guitar leads, and subtle vocal harmonies. "When the Planets Collide" and first single "From the Devil Himself" keep the rock a-comin' and the handclaps and guitar work on the latter transition nicely into one of the album's more pop-orientated numbers, the pretty "Drown Them Out".

Following an instrumental interlude, "So Many Miles" -- an 8 minute+ noise rock jam -- again brings the distorted guitar leads to the forefront and features a tasty trumpet figure about 4 minutes in. "We Do Not Fuck Around" begins with Kevin's plaintive piano and vocal work and slowly builds until the one line chorus hits you over the head with its brilliant simplicity. The last half of the album is highlighted by the downbeat Kevin sung pop dittes "Special Thing" (on which he sounds reminiscent of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne) and "Never Be Like Yesterday".

Get Yr Blood Sucked Out grinds to a halt on the last two tracks. "Helicopter" is too similar to a number of the album's other rockers and has a lackluster vocal melody and uninspired guitar riffing which render it flat and vaguely monotonous. When they sing, "just keeps going on and on" near the end of the track, the line hits a little too close to home. The (mostly) instrumental closing number isn't bad, but comes across as somewhat of an afterthought and unnecessary filler.

Overall, a very solid effort with a few standout tracks. The album drags a bit in places but has enough bright spots to keep you coming back for repeated listens. HIGHLIGHTS: "Believer", "From the Devil Himself", "We Do Not Fuck Around"

MP3: Viva Voce - "Believer"
MP3: Viva Voce - "When Planets Collide"
MP3: Viva Voce - "We Do Not Fuck Around"

Buy the album here.


Viva Voce will hit the road with Silversun Pickups in the fall:

28 - Rickshaw Stop - San Francisco, CA
29 - Howie and Sons - Visalia, CA
30 - The Echo - Los Angeles, CA

1 - Modified - Phoenix, AZ
3 - Emo's - Austin, TX
4 - Opolis - Norman, OK
5 - Randy Bacon Gallery - Springfield, MO
7 - Courtyard Cafe - Urbana, IL
8 - Southgate House - Newport, KY*
10 - Iota Club and Cafe - Arlington, VA
11 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
12 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
13 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA
15 - Middle East Upstairs - Cambridge, MA
16 - The Bug Jar - Rochester, NY
17 - Lee's Palace - Toronto, ON
18 - The Lime Spider - Akron, OH
20 - Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
21 - Maintenance Shop - Ames, IA
24 - Hi Dive - Denver, CO
26 - Neurolux - Boise, ID
28 - Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, OR

MP3: Silversun Pickups - "Well Thought Out Twinkles"

Friday, August 18, 2006

WOW...this was way over-due.

So, it's been over 2 months since I've done this. There are a number of reasons why I haven't blogged lately, but it has nothing to do with a lack of great new tunes. I've heard a ton of good stuff this summer and have seen some really great shows. Among the artists I've seen live over the past 2 months or so: Man Man & Danielson, Ghostface et. al. at Desdemona, Phoenix & the French Kicks, and Sound Team & Cold War Kids. If you ever get the chance to catch Man Man perform, do not miss these guys. They are insanely good live; frenetic on-stage energy coupled with the fact they all can actually play. I saw them opening for Danielson a little while back and the dudes absolutely blew them out of the water...Danielson came across like completely bookish nerds (looking downright silly in those little uniforms) who were in the unenviable position of following the BEAST that is Man Man. Phoenix and the Cold War Kids are both very talented live bands who played impressive sets, but Man Man's live show is simply in a league of its own.

I've decided to post a little blurb about some albums I've been enjoying lately and a couple of MP3s to sample. I plan to resume updating the blog regularly, so keep the CDs and emails coming. I listen to every CD I receive, but I only open a few of the emails a day due to the sheer volume.

I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends

I had never heard this 29 member collective prior to reading the Pitchfork Review and I've only been listening to the album a little over a week now, but it is revealing itself to be one of best indie-pop albums of the year so far. These Swedes do not rely on their outrageously large roster as some sort of gimmick; they stick to penning catchy pop ditties with melodies that burn in your brain long after you've stopped listening. HIGHLIGHTS: "Collection of Stamps", "We're From Barcelona", "Treehouse"

MP3: I'm From Barcelona - "We're From Barcelona"
MP3: I'm From Barcelona - "Collection of Stamps"

Buy the album here.

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther

Like many others, I first encountered Midlake via Gorilla vs. Bear and their great single, "Roscoe". This Denton, TX five-piece have a sound reminiscent of '70s AOR; warm, folk-aware, guitar-driven mid-tempo rock. Midlake often garner comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and this is quite accurate, but I would add the caveat that they sound more "masculine" in comparison to FM's often estrogen-laced feel. HIGHLIGHTS: "Roscoe", "Head Home", "Young Bride"

MP3: Midlake - "Roscoe"
MP3: Midlake - "Head Home"

Buy the album here.

Ratatat - Classics

I usually don't care much for instrumental albums. It usually takes me quite a long time to warm up to a band or album with no vocals, but this album grabbed my attention almost immediately. This electro-rock duo have crafted one of the year's most crushing riffs on the thunderous "Lex" and have placed themselves as front-runners in the "Best Use of an Animal Noise" category via the infectious "Wildcat" and its sweet cougar roar sample. This is really great driving music here people-- not only because it gets the blood pumping so effectively, it also sounds so hip and modern that you feel like the coolest person on the road with it blasting. HIGHLIGHTS: "Montanita", "Lex", "Wildcat"

MP3: Ratatat - "Wildcat"
MP3: Ratatat - "Lex"

Buy the album here.

Girl Talk - Night Ripper

This album virtually came out of nowhere and knocked me on my ass. Pittsburgh native Greg Gillis created this work, which is definitely the most enjoyable mash-up CD I've yet to hear. This album relies on samples from nearly every genre of popular music: hip-hop, 80s pop, indie/alterna/classic rock, and countless others. Provided he's not residing in a jail cell for crafting this highly illegal work (kidding), Gillis will surely have no shortage of artists approaching him to collaborate in the near future. This is a great party album and as Pitchfork noted, "the soundtrack for Summer '06". HIGHLIGHTS: "Smash Your Head", "Minute by Minute", "Bounce That"

MP3: Girl Talk - "Smash Your Head"
MP3: Girl Talk - "Bounce That"
MP3: Girl Talk - "Hold Up"

Buy the album here.

Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime (EP)

In just 7 songs and 16.3 minutes, these dudes from Toronto have got the indie-rock world buzzing and have effectively demonstrated some serious potential. All of these tracks clock in at about 2 minutes and rock with the urgency of the early Strokes. They guys employ amphetamine-fueled garage rock riffing, tasteful keys, and earnest singing with good melodies on this very promising EP. I'm definitely looking forward to a full-length from this band-- as you will be upon hearing them. HIGHLIGHTS: "Nature of the Experiment", "Citizens of Tomorrow", "Be Good"

MP3: Tokyo Police Club - "Nature of the Experiment"
MP3: Tokyo Police Club - "Be Good"

Buy the album here.