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Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012

After Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode high and dry in 1981, no one would have guessed he and the man who succeeded him as the band’s primary songwriter would ever collaborate again. Yet Clarke and Martin Gore are releasing new material together, under the name VCMG. The two technopop icons never shared a studio,collaborating mainly via internet. Still, this marks a monumental development for Depeche Mode fans, hardly two years after Clarke’s replacement, Alan Wilder, joined Depeche onstage for the first time in 16 years. Clarke, of course, has made a name for himself in Yazoo, the Assembly, and Erasure. Here is “Spock”, the title track of VCMG’s first EP, which released December 12 last year. As Clarke and Gore have promised, it is an instrumental dance track that reflects its creators’ interest in minimal European house. The full VCMG album is slated for release this month.


  VCMG - Spock by Mute UK


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Friday, Feb 3, 2012

The Dø (pronounced “doh”) is an indie folk/pop duet whose sound is as diverse as their members’ nationalities. The band is comprised of two members, Olivia Merilahti, who hails from Helsinki and Dan Levy, from Paris. The two collaborated to release their first studio-produced album, A Mouthful in 2008, which went on to top the French charts and earn rave reviews from critics. Their sophomore album, Both Ways Open Jaws dropped in 2011, and garnered much critical acclaim and audience attention. The Times even went so far as to call it “a late contender for album of the year”.


Citing influences that include Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, Eminem and The Wu Tang Clan, the Dø’s sound is incredibly varied. With elements ranging from classical to hip-hop, the Dø defy classification, as they prove with their cover of Janelle Monaé’s “Tightrope”, a song that once claimed the position of number eight on Rolling Stone’s Best Singles of 2010 list. While the original starts out fast and upbeat, the Dø cover builds to its climax slowly and, clocking in at just over nine minutes, includes an instrumental featuring sliding electric guitar and pulsating drumbeats. The vibe varies from blues to rock to a few things in between, and is tied together by Olivia Merilahti’s excellent wailing vocals, sure to become a fixture on the indie pop scene.



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Friday, Feb 3, 2012

Back in 2004, the Washington, DC-based indie band Cartel generated a lot of buzz with the moody, Echo & the Bunnymen-esque “Fleets”. Then, they discovered a rock band from Georgia had dibs on the Cartel name. So, Cartel became the Cedars. They released an excellent EP, Another Season, in 2007. Rightly figuring that if such a strong, Coldplay-if-Coldplay-was-three-times-better effort wouldn’t get them a proper record deal, nothing would, they split.


Now, they are back, under the name Ms. Director, with a seven-track EP, Santo Domingo. The overall sound hasn’t changed much, and that’s a good thing. The guitars and keyboards are a bit more hazy, but the muscular rhythm section and Brian Leatherman’s beguiling voice hold it all down. Let’s hope the third name is the charm. Have a listen to Santo Domingo via Bandcamp, and download it there or from iTunes.


 


Tagged as: ms. director
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Thursday, Feb 2, 2012
Al Doyle (of Hot Chip and formerly LCD Soundsystem) and Felix Martin (Hot Chip) joins forces with studio producer Tom Hopkins.

New Build was created as a “drop-in centre for friends” as the London-based group told Mixmag last fall. Al Doyle (of Hot Chip and formerly LCD Soundsystem) and Felix Martin (Hot Chip) joined forces with studio producer Tom Hopkins, along with Pat Mahoney of LCD Soundsystem occasionally joining in. The band has released four songs from the upcoming album, Yesterday Was Lived and Lost (due 5 March), on soundcloud.com for consumption. The tracks are filled with the buoyant dance music expected from these solid synthpop/indietronica types. Before kicking into movement-oriented grooves, the session begins with the ethereal intro of “Do You Not Feel Loved?” Multi-layered world music rhythms of “Mercy” features synth solos in between melodic verses. “Finding Reasons” brings in the steel drum of many Hot Chip songs, capping off a slower tune of vocal harmonies and fuzzy guitar. “Misery Loves Company” presents a confident stride and crooning similar to Bryan Ferry’s Roxy Music, calling us all to ruin.


Steady as I start to loose control
It’s not good for the body, but it’s good for the soul



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Friday, Jan 27, 2012
Listen and read about the songs with details from the songwriter

SPIN Magazine‘s “First Listen” program is featuring the upcoming release from Of Montreal, Paralytic Stalks, due out February 7th. This is Kevin Barnes’ eleventh collection of musical visions since 1997 and he is still clearly at full command of his band. SPIN provides notes from the frontman for each song, making it not only a welcome listening session but a complete artistic immersion with this intimate, behind the scenes read as well.


The album kicks off with the percussive blast of “Gelid Ascent” that is both alarming and intriguing, much like Barnes himself. It opens up to a classic rock feel with echoing vocals saying, “Speak to me”. Music at once experimental and catchy for the next tune,“Spiteful Intervention”, is classic Of Montreal. The soulful singing and funky beat of “Dour Percentage” and “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” expands to the sound explored in more recent albums. A softer approach is found in “Malefic Dowery”, a “troubled love song” explains Barnes. Buzzy blips and electronic dance grooves return for “Ye, Renew the Plaintiff”, with experimental forays to keep the eight minute song interesting. (Indeed, this is one of Barnes’ favorite on the entire record). The next track, “Wintered Debts” begins with an acoustic guitar yet quickly expands into “a country shuffle”, according to Barnes. The experimental focus returns through the final song, “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission”, 13 minutes of euphoric psych pop with Barnes singing, “I love how we’re learning from each other.”


Listen and read about Paralytic Stalks here.


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