Tag Archive: the best new indie music

  1. Turntable Kitchen’s Top 7″ Vinyl Singles of 2012

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    As an avid fan of music, I love putting together my “best of” lists at year end. As an avid record collector, I especially love compiling by 7″ vinyl singles list. This year was an especially fun list to compile because there were so many good singles released. As usual, this list is not ranked. In my opinion, with collectible 7″ singles there are too many factors to weigh, such as whether the single is limited edition, the number pressed, the profile of the artist, the collectible value of the single, and more. Like last year, I limited the list to one single per artist. In other words, if an artist released two singles in the year, I selected only my favorite of the singles by that artist.

    And, yes, I included our Pairings Box singles on the list. Despite the obvious bias, it only makes sense that I would include them. After all, each of the singles were created after I reached out to the featured artist because I loved their music. These artists released some of my favorite music this year – that’s why we featured them. Not only that, each of our singles are limited edition, each is hand numbered, and each is on colored vinyl. Those are all the right buttons for me. In other words, I think we’re releasing some of the best singles out there. So, yeah, they are here because they deserve to be on this list.

    I’m not providing a review of each of the singles. Frankly, that would take forever. However, I will say that what is exciting about many of these singles is that many of them represent the debut release by a very promising up-and-coming artist including those by: Algiers, Amateur Best, Cheerleader, Conveyor, DIIV, Field Mouse, Francisco The Man, Ghost Loft, James & Evander, Mind Enterprises, Moons, Oscar Key Sung, The Record Company, Save The Clocktower, Thousand, TRAILS AND WAYS, Turtle Giant, White Arrows, and Yalls. Most of the rest simply represent great one off releases by already established artists including Andrew Collberg, Beach House, Cat Power, Deerhoof, Iggy Pop, Iron & Wine, Japandroids, Mikal Cronin, Seamonster, St. Vincent, Toro y Moi, Typhoon, and Wild Nothing. That single by The White Stripes? It’s a recording of the first ever The White Stripes set which was performed at an open mic night. It was sent to members of Third Man Record subscription service.

    How many of these did you pick up this year? Lay a number on me in the comments. And, of course, I probably missed a number of great singles (I can only include what I heard). Let me know what’s missing in the comments as well.

    Turntable Kitchen’s Essential 7″ Singles of 2012

    stream the tracks below

    1) Algiers – Blood / Back Eunuch (sold out)
    2) Amateur Best – Be Happy / The Wave (buy from Double Denim)
    3) Andrew Collberg – Dirty Wind (buy from Fort Lowell Records)
    4) Beach House – Lazuli / Equal Mind (sold out Record Store Day exclusive)
    5) Cat Power – Back In The Days (For Christopher Wallace) / Fire 7″ (sold out LP pre-order bonus)
    6) Cheerleader – New Daze / Do What You Want (sold out)
    7) Conveyor – Mane 7″ (buy from Gold Robot Records)
    8) DIIV – Geist (buy from Insound)
    9) Empress Of – Champagne (buy from No Recordings)
    10) Exray’s – Ancient Thing / Something Else (buy from Howell’s Transmitter)
    11) Field Mouse – Happy / You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom (buy from Small Plates Records)
    12) Francisco The Man – Tiger / Broken Arrows 7″ (buy from Small Plates Records)
    13) Ghost Loft – Seconds / Morning (sold out)
    14) Half Waif / Deerhoof – Famous Class Records / LAMC 7″ (buy from Famous Class Records)
    15) Iggy Pop & Zig Zags – If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up (buy from Insound)
    16) Iron & Wine – One More Try 7″ (buy from Insound)
    17) James & Evander – Let’s Go 7″ (buy from Gold Robot Records)
    18) Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built / Jack The Ripper (sold out)
    19) King Tuff – Wild Desire 7″ (buy from Insound)
    20) Leisure – Follow Me / Follow Me (Keep Shelly in Athens) 7″ (sold out)
    21) Mikal Cronin – Violitionist Acoustic Sessions 7″ (sold out)
    22) Mind Enterprises – Summer War (buy it from Double Denim)
    23) Moons – Bloody Mouth (buy from No Recordings)
    24) NO – Stay With Me 7″ (sold out)
    25) Only You – White Iris 7″ (buy from Insound)
    26) Oscar Key Sung – All I Think About / Higher 5th Bounce (sold out)
    27) The Paperhead – Pictures of Her Demise (buy from Trouble In Mind Records)
    28) The Record Company – This Crooked City / Tallahassee Lassie (sold out)
    29) Save The Clocktower – Like That / Drip (sold out)
    30) Seamonster – Neighbors 7″ (sold out)
    31) St. Vincent – GROT / KROKODIL (sold out Record Store Day exclusive)
    32) Thousand – The Fall / Your Wild Heart (sold out)
    33) TRAILS AND WAYS – Nunca / Sure Thing (Miguel Cover) (sold out)
    34) Trouble In Mind – Mikal Cronin / Apache Dropout / The Paperhead / The Liminanas (sold out RSD)
    35) Turtle Giant – Gold Tooth (Killer) / All Light (Live Session) (sold out)
    36) Typhoon – Common Sentiments / Green (buy from Insound)
    37) White Arrows – Get Gone (buy from Insound)
    38) The White Stripes – Live on Bastille Day 7″ (sold out Third Man Records Vault Member Exclusive)
    39) Wild Nothing – Nowhere 7″ (buy from Insound)
    40) Yalls – Fantasy 7″ (buy from Gold Robot Records)

  2. Single Serving: Port Isla – Sinking Ship

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    It’s always exciting to discover fun new music in my inbox. For example, Port Isla has been lighting up our home ever since I received a nice email from them. They also happen to be an example of a well-written, interesting bio, so I’ll let them introduce themselves: “On a good day, Port Isla are a four piece Folk Rock band from Norwich. Formed by Will Bloomfield in 2011, he quickly enlisted the help of fellow U.E.A. School of Musicians Stanley Spilman and Henry Kilmister and spent the next couple of months of writing and playing acoustic gigs around Norfolk. Will Olenski soon joined to complete the line up . . . On a bad day, they cover 80’s power ballads, complain about beard growth and argue about correct usage of knots.”

    Port Isla – Sinking Ship
    Port Isla – Adventurers

    You can find more on their Facebook page.

  3. Musical Pairings: The Fresh & Onlys – Long Slow Dance

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    San Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys have been on an exceptionally solid run since officially forming in 2008. What began in its earliest days as a side-project for frontman/vocalist Tim Cohen and guitarist Shayde Sartin has evolved into an impressive band of its own merit. Indeed, they’ve released four catchy and ever-so-slightly off-beat albums in as many years. Long Slow Dance, which was recorded at Lucky Cat Studios late last year, is their latest and best to date. Not only that, it’s arguably one of the year’s best albums over all.

    Long Slow Dance is built upon a foundation of catchy hooks and acoustic guitar-led rhythms imbued with psychedelic grooves and hints of darkly-lit romance. The album opens with the melodically upbeat and glossy “20 Days and 20 Nights.” It’s an acoustic slow-roller drenched in sugary layers of reverb with downcast melancholy lyrics balanced against the tune’s bouncing rhythm.

    The album’s title track “Long Slow Dance” features the band at it’s most heart-achingly romantic. It’s a tambourine-spined, black-and-wine love song with a smooth hook as Cohen sings with his most debonaire croon: “Cos true love will drag you out into the road, and set fire to your soul. It’s one long so-called slow dance forever…” It’s a tune full of passion and excitement.

    Indeed, Cohen and Co. have stitched their-brand of John Hughes-inspired romance into every available nook of Long Slow Dance. As that implies, despite feel good, crowd-pleasing tunes, it’s often tinged with melancholy and heart break. For example, both “Presence of Mind” and “Dream Girls” are jangly grooves with Cure-esque flourishes. On the latter, which features a beautifully lush vocal hook, Cohen sings atop bright harmonies, his voice dripping with woe: “Dream girls, and the dreams they ruin. Sing a little tune and they break your heart. You can have anything in the world, but you’ll never hang on to a dream girl.”

    But things aren’t always so morose in Cohen’s world. For example, “Fire Alarm” is flushed with an upbeat new wave slink and Cars-like rhythm guitar and synths. Indeed, Ocasek and his boys couldn’t have done it better themselves. On it, Cohen is driven to acts of heroism to save the girl he loves: “Tonight I’m gonna dance for the firing squad. Pumping my getaway sticks so hard, to make it to your bed and fall into your arms.”

    Long Slow Dance is so melodically upbeat, so catchy, and so sweet it makes a perfect musical pairing for Kasey’s Chocolate, Cardamom and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwich. I’m sure you can tell from the name alone how awesome that recipe is. It’s supreme. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the pictures. They don’t lie. And I might add that today is Kasey and I’s three-year anniversary. Despite Cohen’s suggestions, I have been able to hang on to my dream girl. But, he was right, true love will set fire to your soul. It turns out that’s a good thing.

    The Fresh & Onlys – Presence of Mind

    Buy Long Slow Dance on Insound (they’re throwing in a bonus 7″ while supplies last). Then head to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s Chocolate, Cardamom and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwich.

  4. Musical Pairings: Sean Hayes – Before We Turn To Dust

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    Sean Hayes isn’t a new face in the music industry. His latest release, Before We Turn To Dust, will be his sixth full length. Indeed, Hayes has been a beloved staple of the local music scene in San Francisco for many years now. He’s worked with a who’s who of other local musicians and he’s been a highlight for many festival goers at two separate Outside Lands Festivals including the most recent one. And despite having arguably reached veteran status as a musician, it also feels as it Hayes is just getting started. Indeed, Before We Turn To Dust is almost certain to bring Hayes a host of new fans.

    Hayes blends smooth r&b melodies with shuffling folk instrumentation supporting his woodsy, vibrato-accented vocals. As you’d imagine from that combination, there is a little sexiness to the grooves, yet there is nothing prurient about Hayes’ lyrics. For example, on opening track “Before We Turn To Dust” Hayes crows: “You may spend all of your money before you turn to dust / you’ll never spend all your love” and then “My little boy’s smilin’ / soon he’ll be sitting up / holding his own weight / grabbin’ for ya.”

    Indeed, much of Before We Turn To Dust hinges on sentiments of mortality, fatherhood, and love. If that all sounds a little, well, boring… it isn’t. Hayes clearly writes personal lyrics inspired from his own life and experiences, and yet they are universal enough to offer broad appeal. For example, the album’s second track “Miss Her When I’m Gone” is an ode to the loneliness and struggle of a career spent on the road, away from the people you love, working hard to support those same loved ones. Even if you aren’t a touring musician, if you’re a working stiff you probably relate to the sense of working hard, sometimes struggling, to support the people you love.

    Yet, it should be noted that Before We Turn To Dust isn’t all death, fatherhood, and work. The album’s third track “Bam Bam” for example features a loose, piano-led groove to accompany Hayes’ croon: “Damn, the way you walk that thing / all locked in a pocket make a grown man sing.” But, unlike a lot of contemporary r&b, Hayes can be sexy without being lacivious: “I want to do you… right. I want to be with you.”

    Before We Turn To Dust makes a great soundtrack for the recipe Kasey is featuring in the Kitchen today: Soba Bowls with Tea-Poached Salmon. The recipe is exotic, yet surprisingly straight forward. It’s flavorful and unique. And so smooth and crowd pleasing.

    Sean Hayes – Miss Her When I’m Gone

    Watch Sean’s site to pick up a copy of Before We Turn To Dust. It’s scheduled for a September 11 release. Then head back to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s recipe for Soba Bowls with Tea-Poached Salmon.

  5. Musical Pairings: Aesop Rock – Skelethon

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    Dead cats being mummified. Dog’s saving babies from pools. Bob’s Donuts in San Francisco. Racing stripe haircuts. Vegetable hating teenagers. These are the things that Aesop Rock had on his mind when he recorded his latest triumphantly dense LP of occasionally near-indecipherable strange-rap mind-melters. Titled Skelethon, the record is another win for the San Francisco-by-way-of-New York emcee.

    It’s immediately clear that Rock’s remains at the pinnacle of his game. As usual, his lyrics again alternate between cryptic, impressionistic, and abstract to narrative, colorful, and entertaining (oh, and quite often very funny). But what struck me on my first listen wasn’t just that Rock was as “on” as usual, but rather just how instrumentally organic Skelethon sounds compared to his prior albums. More than ever before Rock’s tunes blend samples, scratching (via long-time collaborator DJ Big Wiz) and live instrumentation. Rock’s wife Allyson Baker (of Dirty Ghosts) returns providing either bass or guitar on at least five of the album’s cuts. Hanni El Khatib provides guitar on three tracks and El Khatib’s long-time ally Nicky Fleming-Yaryan provides crisp percussion on four jams. Kimya Dawson and Rob Sonic provide additional vocals on several tracks. Finally, Grimace Federation, a Philadelphia-based band known for making an ungodly messy groove out of samples upon samples swirled into a multi-percussionist rhythm, provide additional instrumentation on a pair of cuts.

    The result is that the beats and accompanying instrumentation sound fuller, more lush, and livelier than they’ve ever before. It proves to be an ideal stage for Rock to showcase his lyricism and songwriting. It’s entirely unsurprising considering the fact that Rock’s wife provides the track’s grungy guitar riff, but the track “ZZZ Top” instrumentally sounds like Rock rapping over a Dirty Ghosts’ album highlight. Baker does her work atop clattering, break-beat percussion as Rock lyrically explores the minds of three individuals as they, in order, carve a word into a desk, write on a pair of chucks with a magic marker, and scrawl a band name onto the wall in a bathroom stall.

    The album’s first single “Zero Dark Thirty” is the album’s most immediately catchy groove and also the track most able to bridge the gap between Rock’s latest and None Shall Pass. It’s one of the least lyrically straight-forward jams on the album as well. But, despite the puzzle-like nature of the lyrics, Rock manages to evoke the vision of an unpopular kid rising up through the rap scene to become the last man standing as he spits about a “minotaur-fugly stepchild” with “zero friends” that “nevermind straw to gold [can] spin hearts on sleeves into heads on poles.” In the end, it’s “down from a huntable surplus to one.”

    Meanwhile, on “Ruby ’81” Aesop paints the tale of two year-old baby Ruby who escapes from the house when her parents aren’t looking and falls into their pool. Only the family’s beagle notices what’s happening and is able to save the small child. Later in the album, things don’t end nearly as merrily for Aesop’s feline friend on “Homemade Mummy” which (as the title implies) provides instructions for making your own D.I.Y. mummified kitten.

    A personal favorite, is the hilarious “Grace” in which Rock narrates the story of a stand-off between himself and his father when he refused to eat his vegetables. A few key lyrics for me: “Chris and Graham hate ’em too but advocate a braver chew invented for the code red, cola chaser, nose held, gulp moments. Later two have been released, leaving me the legroom and the legume police” and later “a single portion canned, frozen or fresh, defies the glory of the Poultry or fish.”

    Kasey’s featuring a recipe for Chanterelle Tacos today in the Kitchen. For me, chanterelles are an unusual and pretty non-traditional ingredient for tacos (or in any other traditional street food). But although the main ingredient is relatively unorthodox in this context, it’s a beautifully flavorful recipe. Similarly, rap is often regarded as street music, and within the context of the genre, Aesop Rock is wildly untraditional both lyrically and instrumentally. Considering those similarities, (and despite Aesop’s childhood aversion to vegetables) I think today’s recipe makes a great musical pairing for Skelethon.

    Aesop Rock – Zero Dark Thirty

    You can order Skelethon from Insound. Then head back to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s recipe for Chanterelle Tacos.