Owen – At Home with Owen (2006)

Those blankets in your bed
So tattered and sad
They’ve seen enough sleepless nights
Both good and bad

(Use Your Words)

Review: To me, listening to Owen is like drinking a warm cup of coffee on a quiet rainy day. It’s both comfortable and familiar at the same time. Perfect introspective music. I first listened to Mike Kinsella’s solo material about seven years ago, and still love his songs even though he has the tendency to sing ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ in places they do not belong. “I Do Perceive” is my favorite album from him, but “At Home with Owen” is the one I’d recommend people to start off with.

Favorite songs: Use Your Words, The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi


Get it here.

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Oren Lavie – The Opposite of the Sea (2007)

The sound of water makes her dream
Awoken by a cloud of steam
She pours a daydream in a cup
A spoon of sugar sweetens up

(Her Morning Elegance)

Review: I hereby declare the clip of ‘Her Morning Elegance’ below as one of the best music videos in the last five years. It’s made of exactly 2096 still photographs, shot and sequenced to create the sense of movement using stop motion technique. You can see all 2096 stills here. The “filming” and editing is extremely difficult to pull off this flawlessly, so a big round of applause to that!  Furthermore, the girl is amazing in bed.

But what about the album? It starts off promisingly, with epic string arrangements in “The Man Who Isn’t There” and “The Opposite Side of the Sea” that is akin to The Divine Comedy.  After that, in the second half of the album, it just feels like I’m listening to Kings of Convenience B-sides and outtakes. Get this for the first few tracks.

Favorite Songs: Her Morning Elegance, The Opposite Side of the Sea


Parody:

Get the album here. (MU)

Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (2010)

You would look a little better
if you just wore less make up

(Eat That Up, It’s Good For You)

Review: Punchy straight-forward British indie rock with a breath of fresh air. It’s nothing revolutionary, but the songs are great. So just believe the hype. At times, I feel the album is quite juvenile, harking back to the days of high-school. Anyways, the music video pretty much confirms my suspicions. I wanted to close the video a couple of seconds into it, but I’m posting it here because the theater’s stage performance is very nice. Get it before you hear it on the *cough* radio.

Favorite Songs: Eat That Up It’s Good For You, Do You Want It All?, Undercover Martyn

Get it here. (MU)

Matt Pond PA – The Dark Leaves (2010)

I dreamt I learned how not to speak,
Let go of words,
Let go of her – to let her be

…With my mouth I shake the leaves
Your eyes get wide you want to leave
When I write, my clumsy heart
will crack its cage, shoot stars apart

(Brooklyn Fawn)

Review: Recently, I feel that many of my favorite bands are letting me down. Minus the Bear’s “Omni” was devastating disappointing. Now they sound just like any other band. The new MGMT wasn’t that good. I found the new Midlake to be so utterly boring that it can lull me to sleep despite being one of my favorite bands. So when the new Matt Pond PA arrived at my doors, I was ready for it to let me down. Well, guess what? It turned out to be great!

I prefer this over Last Light and feel that it’s almost up to Several Arrows Later‘s standard. The album is much more reflective, rustic, and mellow than Matt’s recent albums. If you’re a fan, get it — you’re bound to be pleased. If you’re not one of the converted, this would be a decent starting point, but keep in mind — it’s not the best the band’s done.

Favorite Tracks: Starting, Brooklyn Fawn

Get the album here.

Surrogate – Popular Mechanics (2009)

Nobody really thinks about you
Nobody cares as much as I do
Nobody loves you like I love you
Please remember..

(Cynicism)

Review: Surrogate describes their sound as “intelligent pop songs for people of moderate to great intelligence.” When music critics tabulate their year-end top-10s for 2009, Popular Mechanics by Chico’s Surrogate deserves to be at the top of those lists. Here is a gorgeous indie-rock album that warrants a massive audience. Popular Mechanics will appeal to fans of Death Cab for Cutie all the way to alt-rock suspects Placebo, while maintaining a singular identity through songwriter Christopher Keene’s unique knack for composing genuinely affecting pop songs. I didn’t expect to love the album this much. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Favorite Tracks: Surprise, Cynicism, Exercise Machines, Whiskey (Vomiting Words)

NO MUSIC VIDEO FOR SURROGATE, BUT TRUST ME AND GIVE IT A LISTEN.

Get it here (RS) or here (MU)

The XX – XX (2009)

I am yours now
So now I don’t ever have to leave
I’ve been found out
So now I’ll never explore

(Islands)

Review: Bittersweet and precisely executed male-female vocals over post-punk guitars and solid beats that conjures 00’s trip-hop. What’s not to like? If you haven’t heard this, you’re missing on something very very special.

Get the album here. (MF)

James Yuill – Turning Down Water for Air (2008)


File Under: Indietronica / Electronic pop / Folktronica

Review:  The album cover art screams “my first photoshop.” However, don’t let that fool you.Turning Down Water for Air is a very competent bedroom-music DIY style indietronica affair with British vocals that frankly don’t sound British at all. This is one of the better releases back in 2008 that many of you probably missed. There are many great tracks with emotional songwriting despite a few that are uninspired. Even though it sometimes feels like Mr. Yuill ran out of good songs to put into the album, the gems make the album more than worthwhile.

Fave Track:  This Sweet Love, Over the Hills

Get the album here. (RS)