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What’s Playing Now August 21, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Music, What's Playing Now.
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Smile Down Upon Us – Smile Down Upon Us (2008 )
English duo Phelan Sheppard and Japanese singer Moomlooo met each other on Myspace. While sending messages back and forth, it eventually escalated to sound and music clips. Before they knew it, they were creating an album together. I loved Phelan Sheppard’s 2006 “Harp’s Old Master” and actually discovered Moomlooo through their Myspace as well. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to hear her debut album, but this is the next best thing. Multi-instrumentalists Phelan Sheppard bring a warm sound to Moomlooo’s vocals — a summery mood brimming with the sounds of nature. Moomlooo sings in both English and Japanese, but on some songs I could’ve sworn she was singing in gibberish, particularly in “No, Dimitri,” but lyrics aren’t that important anyway. This is a vibrant album brimming with so much prettiness, it’s almost too much at first. How can an album be so damn pretty? Definitely one of the better albums of the year.


Emily Wells – The Symphonies: Dreams, Memories, And Parties (2008 )
Judging by the cover and the name of the album, Emily Wells appears to be another whimsical singer singing about whimsical things with her violin. But “The Symphonies…” is a hard-hitting, yet delicate half-rap-half-classical surprise. The violins are just the backdrop. Wells is the center of each track singing passionately about politics in “America’s Mercy War” to about her life in “The Story.” She does take time out for an all instrumental track, “Symphony 7: Dreams, Memories, & Heaven,” a hauntingly gorgeous track that shows a different potential direction Wells might venture in the future. According to her bio on her web site, she left several major record deals to ride the indie train. She definitely made the right decision. If not, she would’ve been just another whimsical singer. *cringe*

As In Rebekkamaria – Queen of France (2008 )
The former lead singer of the Danish/Swedish band Lampshade, Rebekkamaria Andersson is yet another electro-pop European export, but she sounds less like Kylie Minogue and more like Goldfrapp before she got played out and boring. While songs like “Yours Truly” and “Part of the Game” are straight up pop, other tracks like “Army of Foxy” and “Noreen” are more unconventional club fare that’s brimming with a unique blend of kitsch and dance. The album shows weakness in several parts, but is an impressive debut.

CSS – Donkey (2008 )
I had a love/hate relationship with CSS’s past album “Cansei de Ser Sexy.” Sure tracks like “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above,” “Alala” and “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” were infectious, but the rest of the album seemed sophomoric and overly obnoxious. Their new album “Donkey” gets rid of all the remnants of greatness from “Cansei de Ser Sexy” and flushes it down the toilet. It’s ten times more obnoxious, and on top of that, it’s devoid of any interesting musical directions. This album could have been made in the ’90s by some forgettable indie band. There’s a new retro spin on this record, but not enough to make it any more interesting. They’ve gotten too comfortable being the “hipster” band, and it looks like they want to stay there. But, uh….”Beautiful Song” is good. But yeah, that’s about it.

Ten Kens – Ya’ll Come Back Now
This is a Canadian trio suffering some identity crisis. The tracks on their Myspace are abrasive and loud, but this one little song (not even three minutes long) is a gorgeous track that echoes the most obvious comparison — Grizzly Bear. Not sure if this is a band I’ll follow in the future, but the song is amazing.

KUDU – Thrill of the Night
Ugh, still can’t find their album anywhere. But this track on their Myspace is currently the best thing ever. I already wrote about them a few posts back, but I wanted to include them in the playlist.



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