Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lucinda Williams Returns With 'Blessed'

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams will release Blessed on March 1st, along with a Deluxe Version that has a 2nd disc dubbed "The Kitchen Tapes," which are home recordings "Lucinda made of each song on the day she wrote it."

Williams will be on a short U.S. tour in March.

Track listing for Blessed:

1. Buttercup
2. I Don't Know How You're Livin'
3. Copenhagen
4. Born To Be Loved
5. Seeing Black
6. Soldier's Song
7. Blessed
8. Sweet Love
9. Ugly Truth
10. Convince Me
11. Awakening
12. Kiss Like Your Kiss

Download the Free + Awesome Target Christmas Album!

What's your seasonal soundtrack?
Is it a jolly ol' beat?
Or do you prefer a little peace and love with your lyrics?
Discover the fresh songs below to rekindle your spirit -
A free gift from Target to your ears.

Download HERE. Tracklist below!

1 Guster - "Tiny Tree Christmas"
2 Blackalicious - "Toy Jackpot"
3 Darker My Love - "Snow is Falling"
4 Jenny O. - "Get Down for the Holidays"
5 Crystal Antlers - "10,000 Watts"
6 Bishop Allen - "You'll Never Find My Christmas"
7 Natalie Hemby - "Perfect Gift"
8 Little Jackie - "Mrs. Claus Ain't Got Nothin' On Me"
9 Blazer Force - "Electronic Santa"
10 Best Coast + Wavves - "Got Something for You"
11 Coconut Records - "It's Christmas"
12 Little Isidore - "Party Hard"
13 The Pinker Tones - "Súper Mamá (Supermom)"
14 Ceci Bastida - "Un Regálo Para Mí (A Present For Me)"

Bright Eyes to Release 'The People’s Key' in February

Bright Eyes will release their seventh album, The People’s Key, on February 15th via Saddle Creek.

They'll celebrate the release at Radio City Music Hall on March 9th and London's Royal Albert Hall on June 23rd.

Full track list for The People’s Key

1 Firewall          
2 Shell Games   
3 Jejune Stars   
4 Approximate Sunlight  
5 Haile Selassie   
6 A Machine Spiritual (In The People’s Key)   
7 Triple Spiral    
8 Beginner’s Mind
9 Ladder Song  
10 One For You, One For Me
Additional Bright Eyes players on The People’s Key: Andy LeMaster, (Now It’s Overhead), Matt Maginn (Cursive), Carla Azar (Autolux), Clark Baechle (The Faint), Shane Aspegren (The Berg Sans Nipple), Laura Burhenn (The Mynabirds) and Denny Brewer (Refried Ice Cream).

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Banjo or Freakout - 105

Photo credit: Robert Bellamy

Banjo or Freakout is Alessio Natalizia, an Italian multi-instrumentalist and producer living in London. You might know his previous work: remixes and reworks for such bands as Bloc Party, LCD Soundsystem, The Soft Pack, and Bombay Bicycle Club. Today's JOTD, though, is synthy, folky, shoegaze-y pop all his own. 

Named "105" because it was Natalizia's 105th demo for the new album, this is the perfect track for our collective - yet perhaps unwilling - transition into the winter months, particularly because it seems that all the world has gone dark.

On top of shimmering guitars, Natalizia sings, "I was seriously thinking of going to sleep..." The lyric makes this twilight lullaby all the more apropos. We are on the edge of hibernation, we will all be unconscious soon enough. But, we'll make sure to listen to "105" in between sleeps. 

Banjo or Freakout - 105

The self-titled debut album is due out in early 2011.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jam of the Day | Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith - Not in Love

I’m going to start the week by opening up fully with you guys. I think we’re to that point now in our blogger/reader relationship, right? I mean, I have a toothbrush at your house now, so blunt honesty should be allowed at this point without the worry of ruining the good thing we have going. So, here we go.

I think I’m in love with our Jam of the Day, “Not in Love,” by Crystal Castles and Robert Smith.

OMG – I can’t believe I just wrote that. That feels SO much better! Good lord, it’s like a weight has been lifted from my chest. I mean, I had practiced saying it in the mirror, but you never know the reaction you’re going to get!

It’s been all over my mind for weeks now. And really, how could I not be completely in love after a plethora of daily spins to get my fix? The song is actually a cover of 'the 80s new wave band, Platinum Blonde, but modern technology takes the synths to an entirely new level, and the addition of The Cure's Robert Smith turns this jam into something I just can’t help being enamored with.

Download it below via our friends at Gorilla vs. Bear, and pick up Crystal Castles' latest album Crystal Castles II which was released earlier this year.

Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith - Not in Love

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jam of the Day | Gorillaz (feat. Daley) - Doncamatic (All Played Out)

Blur frontman Damon Albarn has proven, time and again, that he can craft some pretty darn catchy tunes. Albarn established and honed his songwriting endowment with Blur, and has continued to cultivate it with his wildly popular project, Gorillaz (not to mention The Good, The Bad, and The Queen). Gorillaz cranked out a banger of a concept record, the group's third LP, with 2010's Plastic Beach.

Albarn and Co. have now chased Plastic Beach with a new single entitled "Doncamatic" that features vocals from Brit singer Daley. The single is pop music pure and simple, with a sleek beat and an infectious hook. Daley's impressive voice melds effortlessly with Albarn's skilled composition and backing vocals.

Dance your turkey and pumpkin pie off with the studio EP version of "Doncamatic." Buy it on iTunes. Watch the official vid below.

OR, if you're still in a tryptophan-induced coma, here is a delightfully chill in-studio version from BBC Radio 1.

AND, just for fun (or if you can't get enough of Daley's hair), here is "Doncamatic" performed live in, of all places, Phoenix, Arizona.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jam of the Day | The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

What happens when a "chance meeting" brings together a California gal (Joy Williams) and an Alabama guy (John Paul White)?

Well, last Friday, let's just say it took me all of three minutes and forty one seconds to decide that I have a new favorite duo: Williams and White of The Civil Wars. One listen to their song, "Poison & Wine," off their 2009 debut EP of the same name, and I was in love. (Okay, fine, I fall in love pretty easy with music, but stay with me here.)

And as wonderful as "Poison & Wine" is, today's JOTD is just as special. It's the title track off their upcoming album, Barton Hollow, which drops February 1st. If you like passion and harmony mixed to near perfection, this one's for you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Apache Relay | 10 to Spin

One thing the most gluttonous of gormandizing holidays is not lacking is...girth. Given Thanksgiving is now overflowing with deep fried turkeys, blow-up yard pilgrims, ethnic cleansing debates, wine, family tension, pickled beets (you know who you are), and football, it seems as though there's barely enough room to pack in one extra pinto bean.

But The Apache Relay, a band that's earned a  Jam of the Day, as well as a stellar concert review from us, has given us a little something extra to consider at the beginning of this holiday season: a brand new 10 to Spin playlist for your drive to grandma's house!

Give it a spin below!

1. Patrice Holloway - "A Touch of Venus"

2. Jessica Lea Mayfield - "Our Hearts Are Wrong"

3. Sam Quinn and Japan Ten - "Gun"

4. Tony Rice - "Why You Been Gone So Long"

5. Girls - "Heartbreaker"

6. Elliot Smith - "Happiness"

7. The Band - "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)"

8. Loose Fur - "Laminated Cat"

9. Wolf Parade" - Cave-O-Sapien"

10. Bon Iver" - Bloodbank"

In the Studio with Andy Berkhout + STL LOUD

All photo credit: Katie Guymon

Last Sunday, I had the distinct and super cool privilege to attend one of the STL LOUD recording sessions at R&R Music Labs. Andy Berkhout, a local singer-songwriter (by way of Milwaukee), was there to record his orignal song, "Times and Things," for the inaugural STL LOUD EP, the first in what is guaranteed to become an ongoing series that celebrates the best of Saint Louis local talent. (More guaranteed if you find it in your kind heart, sir or ma'am, to donate to its Kickstarter fund).

Berkhout brought his lovely friend, Joanna Landis, in the studio with him. Landis provided the hushed harmonies for the track while Berkhout sang, played guitar and banjo, and even went a little crazy with the stomp box.

"Times and Things" is one of those songs that instantly feels like home the first time you take a listen, and I found myself humming the melody for the rest of the day, as I did ordinary jobs such as dusting my coffee table and cooking broccoli.

Attending the recording session, however, was anything but ordinary. It was thrilling to see a group of people, bound together by yarns of varying weight, weave acoustic intricacies right before my very eyes. The company was easy, the time spent comfortable. Sunday afternoon was visible proof of music's magnetic qualities. I know it sounds so cheesy to say, but watching one-sixth of the STL LOUD grand plan come together was sort of magical.

So, jump on board the STL LOUD train. I implore you to please donate a few dollars to this project's Kickstarter fund.

Save the date for the STL LOUD showcase at Off Broadway on January 14th. All six artists, including Langen Neubacher, The Dive Poets, The Orbz, The Warbuckles, Via Dove, and Berkhout, will play a set that night. It's bound to get LOUD.

To see the entire album of photos from the recording session, head thisaway.

Jam of the Day | The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart In Your Heartbreak

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, a foursome from New York City, is back with the new track, "Heart In Your Heartbreak." After multiple listens, I've come to this conclusion: the song is the musical equivalent to one of Willy Wonka's Fizzy Lifting Drinks. I'm pretty sure that if you scoped the list of ingredients for both, you'd surely find synthesizers and bubbles.

This first single from the band's upcoming 2011 LP2 oozes with candied vocals and crystalline guitars. It gobstopper-smacks you into everlasting bliss.

You'll be so high, you'll have to belch to come down. Give it a listen below.

The band's second LP, Belong, is due for release in March 2011.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jam of the Day | Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Destroyers

Since he last left us, Ryan Adams has quit the music industry, gotten married, started a record label, become a sheriff, become a musician again, and put out a heavy metal record. Now, he’s moved on to archiving some old shiz and letting us hear it.

But whether it's material that is new or just new-to-us, a Ryan Adams jam that we’ve never heard is just the thing we need to bring a sleepy Monday some juice, right?

This one comes from his III/IV double album that was recorded with his band, the Cardinals, in 2007 during the sessions for Easy Tiger. It’s all set to drop on December 14th.

You can download a lossless version our Jam of the Day, "Destroyers," HERE, and pre-order the album via Pax-Am HERE.

Concert Photos | Beth Bombara's Record Release Party at Off Broadway

Last Friday, Saint Louis local music fans packed Off Broadway to celebrate the release of Beth Bombara's new solo album, Wish I Were You. For the girl who, admittedly, went from "punk to country," it was clear, as she played to an adoring crowd, that she made the right move. On Sunday, she tweeted about how much she loved the jumpin' dance floor and the audience sing-a-long. But, honestly, she could have told us to all go jump off the Poplar Street Bridge, and we would have raced each other to the Mississippi. Bombara decidedly had the crowd in the palm of her hand, and she handled the affection with ease.

With a rotating cast of all-star players, including Bombara's oft-collaborator, Cassie Morgan, her husband Kit, Old Lights' David Beeman, and Seth Porter of The Blind Eyes, among other talented, local musicians, Bombara wowed the crowd with her brand of boot scootin', and the cherry on top was her obvious humility and happiness. What a woman.

Bombara's new album, Wish I Were You, is (fabulously) available on vinyl. But, you can grab it digitally here.

To see our entire Beth Bombara photo album, head here.

David Beeman's Old Lights opened the show. I did not know what to expect from this band, but after seeing it play, I know that I (and you) need Old Lights in my life. I was blown away.

Pick up the Old Lights album, Every Night Begins the Same, here.

To see the entire album of Old Lights pictures, head here.

Dropkick the Robot opened the show, and the band also showcased a little side project known as Intergalatic Sweater.

You can get Dropkick the Robot's album, Join the Club, here.

See our entire album of Dropkick the Robot photos here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

MP3 | The White Buffalo - Oh Darlin' What Have I Done

The White Buffalo is a one-man show, a solo act with the same name as a 1997 western film starring Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, and - get this - Slim Pickens. The first track off his new EP, Prepare For Black & Blue, "Oh Darlin' What Have I Done" is also cinematic: a whiskey-fueled trip through crime, paranoia, and regret with striking, bloodstained vistas.

The White Buffalo - Oh Darlin' What Have I Done

The Prepare For Black & Blue EP is out now.

Jam of the Day | Cults - Go Outside

If one attempts to uncover information about the NYC film school duo known as Cults on the all-seeing, all-knowing world wide web, one will find all sorts of good info on various forms of religious and worship-based sects or groups of people bound together by the common adulation of the same object, ideal, or person. Whew. What is more difficult to find, however, is high-quality, lo-fi, dream pop with xylophones. It is out there, trust me. I've seen it. I've heard it. I'm a believer.

Cults' way-out single, "Go Outside," leads off with a xylophonic melody that permeates the whole tune laid over historical audio of the Jonestown suicide cult leader, Jim Jones. Clearly, cults are not just a moniker for Cults... Dare I say they are an inspiration? Potentially creepy muses aside, the track alternates seamlessly between dreamy verses and groovy hooks, creating a highly pleasant head-bobbing experience. They "know what's good" and they've "been there before." Trust in Cults, and you will be free...

So strap on your brand new, black and white Nike Widerunner shoes, and download "Go Outside" (FREE) and other Cults jams (including the delightfully bouncy "Most Wanted" (also FREE) over at their Bandcamp site HERE.

Concert Photos | Robyn at Metro in Chicago

Last Saturday night, Swedish dance pop princess Robyn graced Chicago with her presence. The night before, in Toronto, Robyn fell ill and was forced to cancel her concert. The Chicago show seemed in jeopardy, but the pint sized pop powerhouse rallied and rocked Metro Chicago's sold out crowd. Dancing was required and the joint was jumping. Here are a few shots from the show...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jam of the Day | Augustines - Book of James

Photo by Brendan Stuart

It's a glorious day for those of us whom, for the past few years, have been crack-scratching our left arms for some new music from Bill McCarthy and his band of merry-men once known as Pela. I, luckily, found their music later than some others, seeing them open for The Gaslight Anthem on their '59 Sound Tour and was so enthralled that I went to the merch table like a 16 year-old girl to pick up the album and get my Trapper Keeper autographed.

Augustines, McCarthy's new band along with fellow Pela alumnist, Eric Sanderson, sounds like it picks up right where the stellar LP, Anytown Graffiti, left off with our JOTD, "Book of James." Building upon strained and emotional vocals by digging deeper musically to create something that is all but mind blowing, they give us the perfect taste of what's to come with fulfilling that itch for the time being.

I cannot suggest it enough. Click ye' olde widget below to get that track.

10 to Spin | Hannah Miller

Singer-songwriter Hannah Miller grabbed my attention the other day.

See, I'm a sucker for a gal, a voice, and a guitar, and her song "At My Best" sure did the trick. I like simplicity in music; I like the cold truth. Give me something that is real any day over what has been manufactured, or "mashed up." And when it's done the right way - or maybe just the way I like it - I fall for it. Hard.

Take a few minutes and listen.

I could listen to a song like that for years and years.

Luckily, there's more. Miller released a fabulous four-song EP, Journey to the Moon, earlier this year, and if you liked what you heard above, I suggest giving it a try. It has some spunk to it - "Way About Ya" might even make you get up and shake it. Modestly, anyway.

What makes Hannah Miller tick? We asked her, and thankfully, she answered. Please enjoy our latest 10 to Spin.

I know it's different for everybody, but when I listen to music, the first thing I notice is the voice...(excepting classical or instrumental, of course...) I cannot really separate the music from the singing, and if I fall in love with a song, nine times out of ten, I'm falling in love with a voice, because it moves me, because it has this undefinable quality that makes me want to hear it over again, because there is something mysterious and gut wrenching contained in it...So, I thought my theme for this playlist would be Voices; ten voices that wreck me, in the best possible way, and some of the songs that showcase those voices and allow them to be all they were meant to be...and in no particular order...enjoy!

1. Over the Rhine - Latter Days
I love these guys, and Karin Bergquist was one of my earliest (and only female for awhile) influences!

2. U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
What can I say really? The definition of gut wrenching...

3. Elton John - My Father's Gun
Again, any commentary should be unnecessary here too...arrrggghhhhh!

4. Tom Petty - It'll All Work Out
It just makes you feel so much, you know? I wanna be him...I wanna do that to people with my music.

5. Matthew Perryman Jones - Save You
Okay, I love this guy; his music makes me wanna cry, and he is an awesome person, and I was so, so honored to sing some background vocal on his upcoming record!

6. Tom Waits - Singapore
I remember hearing this for the first time in college, and wondering how a voice like that could have existed in the world for so long w/o me knowing it! It's kinda earth shattering...

7. Dolly Parton - Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That
Again, what can I say?...it's like magic

8. Thad Cockrell - The Master's Calling [listen]
This track is a 2 for 1 b/c Julie Lee is on background vocal and she is amazing, too; love 'em both.

9. Cary Ann Hearst - Hells Bells
Oh my goodness, a fellow South Carolina musician with me, and one that the whole world is gonna know about soon.

10. Simon and Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy in New York
Yes, another 2 for 1, and these guys have been in my head since I was in elementary school...I know exactly where I was when I heard these voices for the first time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Laura Marling - The Needle and the Damage Done

I love you baby, can I have some more?

There's darkness in that lyric. Of course, it comes from Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done," one of the best songs off Harvest, a great album from 1972. And yes, he wrote it about it about Danny Whitten, the original Crazy Horse guitarist whose life was taken by drugs.

Said Neil Young himself in the liner notes of Decade: "I am not a preacher, but drugs killed a lot of great men."

I'll leave it at that.

Many musicians have covered this song, and Laura Marling's version, which was produced by Jack White, is certainly poignant. It's as soft and haunting as the original, with the words clearly being the damaging weapon of choice. Kudos to Marling/White for reaffirming, not necessarily reinventing, this timeless gem.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MP3 | Birds of Avalon - Invasion

Raleigh NC’s Birds of Avalon have spent the better part of the past three years on the road with the likes of The Racontuers, The Flaming Lips, Black Mountain, The Fucking Champs, Mudhoney,and Ted Leo. And judging from a few first-hand accounts, they have one of the best live rock shows going.

The band will re-emerge from studio-land in January 2011, rejuvenated on Portland's Bladen County Records, with the overdue release of an album completed in early 2009. The forthcoming self-titled release builds on the pop-aesthetic of previous LPs, but blazes new progressive trails by dabbling in psychedelic experimentation.

Prepare yourself by being the first on the block to have "Invasion" on your Discman below.

Birds of Avalon - Invasion

Jam of the Day | Tennis - Take Me Somewhere

The indie scene in 2011 has seen more '60s girl group-inspired tracks than Carter's got liver pills. (Think: The Crystals, The Shirelles, and The Shangri-Las). And I've got more antiquated sayings than you can shake a stick at. You can thank artists like Lissie, La Sera, and now Tennis for the former. You can thank my father for the latter.

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, who make up the Denver duo, bring you the Jam of the Day, "Take Me Somewhere." On this song, Moore skirts the Mickey Mouse games and delivers a perfectly poetic, yet straight-to-the-point, wish that her big, strong sailor will return home: "Sittin' in the sand/ waitin' for you to return to land..."

Give it a listen below.

The band just wrapped its next album, Cape Dory, its first for Fat Possum. You can pick up the whole kit and caboodle on its January 18th release date.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jam of the Day | Cadillac Sky - Hangman

A Speakers in Code Proclamation:

We, the united bloggers of Speakers in Code, henceforth declare this tenth year of the 21st century, the official year of the percussive-stringed instrument known as the banjo.

It's an unlikely instrument, in a landscape of electronic bleeps and bloops, auto-tune, and mashups, but the banjo has stirred up underground fury and launched massive careers this year. From Mumford & Sons’ and Bombay Bicycle Club’s folky Brit twang, to Freelance Whales’ banjo infused indie-goodness, the sleepiest of sleeping giants has awoken to bring us a barrage of bands in 2010.

And we must give thanks! Thank you to Sufjan Stevens for single-handedly keeping the banjo alive whilst the rest of the music world moved firmly into the electronic age. Your albums now serve as perfect example of keeping it real.

Real like our Jam of the Day, by Nashville-via-Texas’ Cadillac Sky, which has heralded some major acclaim and buzz over the past few months while on the road with those Mumford boys. So real, in fact, the band even has a CMT profile while kicking up dirt in our lovely indie-world at the same time. Crazy.

So, banjo, your Deliverance-fueled backlash is now over.

Take your bow.

Cadillac Sky - Hangman

Friday, November 12, 2010

Emerging | Gross Relations - Fuzzy Timelines

This one just bleeped up on the ole' radar, and I must say I like what I see and hear here! All we really know about Gross Relations at this point is they're four dudes from Brooklyn, who have written and recorded at least one catchy-ass song. 

They are at this point unsigned. This is just one of those times there needs to be a Speakers in Code Records. You can however pick up a self-released 7" that will be out in a few weeks.

Check it out for yourself below.


A Speakers Endorsed Show | Firebrand Recording Showcase

Pictured: Kentucky Knife Fight

Hey, whaddya doin' Saturday? Gotta hot date? Doesn't matter. Bring her (him?) along to the party.

Of course, I'm talking about the super spectacular Firebrand Recording Showcase at one of the best venues in all of Saint Louis, Off Broadway. It's a night designed to celebrate the local recording studio, owned and run by Nelson Jones and Brian Scheffer, that works with an obscene number (too many to count!) of local bands.

With projects for the Humanoids, The Blind Eyes, Theodore, Fire Dog, The Livers, the Ocean Rivals, Sine Nomine, and Lion's Daughter in the pipeline, Scheffer notes, "I feel like I get a privileged glimpse into all these really great bands." And even though the studio doesn't have a formal mission statement, Scheffer would like to think an impromptu one would go something like this: "Make the best quality record possible in a way that suits the band or artist we're working with." Hey, sounds good to us.

In turn, the bands playing Saturday night's showcase can't say enough nice things about the brains behind the Firebrand Recording outfit. Seth Porter, vocalist/guitarist of The Blind Eyes, raves about the support from Jones and Scheffer, and Nate Jones of Kentucky Knife Fight told me that the two are absolute "workhorses."

So, come out Saturday and join the Humanoids, The Blind Eyes, and Kentucky Knife Fight as they (and we) raise a glass (or many a beer bottle) to Firebrand Recording. Jones and Scheffer deserve it, and by God, you do, too.

Need more proof? Grab mp3s by the two of the three bands performing at Off Broadway:
Kentucky Knife Fight - Same Streets, Same Clothes
The Blind Eyes - January

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Decemberists Reveal Cover Art + Release Date of New Album

Hazards of Love was on your 2009 year-end best of lists, right? Right? It's pretty much a fact: the last Decemberists effort was crazily adored by just about everyone we know. That's why today's announcement makes us all giddy and squrimy like a newborn pup.

Colin Meloy's gaggle of storytellers and musicians has announced a January 8, 2011 release date for the next album, The King Is Dead.  Check out the woodsy cover art above. Is anyone else picking up a Robin Hood vibe?

The album, comprised of ten, country-tinged, stripped-down tunes, features special guest appearances by Gillian Welch on seven (yeah, count 'em, seven) tracks and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck on three.

The band will play "Down by the Water" on the newly launched Conan on November 18th, but you can buy the song two days earlier when it's digitally released. The King Is Dead is available for pre-order on Decemberists.com on November 22nd.

1. Don't Carry It All
2. Calamity Song
3. Rise to Me
4. Rox in the Box
5. January Hymn
6. Down by the Water
7. All Arise!
8. June Hymn
9. This is Why We Fight
10. Dear Avery

Jam of the Day | Ducktails - Hamilton Road

Ducktails, the one-man indie-pop project of Real Estate's Matthew Mondanile, has officially made my morning. I mean, not only did seeing the name remind me of my Saturday mornings spent in Duckberg as a kid, but this first morsel from his new LP is just built for a sunny fall morning in the south.

Our JOTD, "Hamilton Road," is about as lax as indie projects get. A plucked acoustic, gently-played electric, and some campfire inspired percussion is all it takes to frame Mondanile's laid back vocals for this pleasant little ditty.

Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics, is Mondanile's third official full-length LP and will be released by Woodsist Records in January 2011.

Give her a play below.

Ducktails - Hamilton Road

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Poison Tree - Come On Come On

The Poison Tree is the new project by The King of France frontman, Steve Salett. According to Salett, the upcoming album has been a long time in the making...since high school, to be exact. Carefully crafted, The Poison Tree's songs were developed with the help of a rotating cast of collaborators including Dawn Landes and Thomas Bartlett.

Check out "Come On Come On," the first track released from the new effort. It's rousing yet gentle. It envelops your ears in a swarm of gauzy piano. It's just pretty gorgeous.

The Poison Tree - Come On Come On

The band's self-titled debut LP is expected in March 2011 on EmBarque.

Jam of the Day | Frightened Rabbit - The Loneliness And The Scream

Photo Credit: Katie Guymon

When I saw Frightened Rabbit in Portland last month, there were two things that left me impressed.

One, Scott Hutchison is a heck of a front man. He's personable, he has passion, and he genuinely gives the impression that there's nowhere he'd rather be when on stage performing in front of his fans. At the show in Portland, he even took a request from a fan to play an obscure B-side, "Fun Stuff," and he did it solo acoustic, remembering all the words.

Two, their closing song from that show, "The Loneliness and the Scream," today's infectious JOTD, is one of their best songs. It's off their latest album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, and for some reason, it gets overlooked.

Today at Speakers in Code, it doesn't.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 to Spin | Brooke Fraser

In early 2008, I fell in love with New Zealand indie-pop-rock sensation Brooke Fraser's second album, Albertine. I played it everywhere - in my house, in my car, even outside while I fertilized my lawn. I enjoyed its honesty and pop flavor; songs like "Shadowfeet" and "Albertine" were among my favorites of the year.

What I didn't know at the time was that Fraser was already a star in her homeland of New Zealand. Her first album, What To Do With Daylight, which featured the gorgeous ballads "Arithmetic" and "Scarlet," went eight times platinum, selling more than 120,000 copies. She had already come a long way, little to my knowledge.

But, as we know, success comes with a price. After two highly successful albums, Fraser was spent. She "could barely get out of bed, let alone think about writing songs for a third album.”

That is, until she saw Fleet Foxes at the 2009 Coachella Music and Arts Festival.

“Robin Pecknold began to sing and the purity of his voice seemed to melt away every memory of trauma and disillusionment,” she recalls. “Then the other voices joined his and it all felt so human and honest; I and everyone around me was enthralled.  We were all being spoken to, and we were all listening. It was a moment where I remembered the power of music as a language, a connector. I remembered that I’ve been given the gift of speaking a particular dialect of this language and realized I didn’t have the option of being resigned to silence and I didn’t want it.”

Fraser is back in 2010 with Flags, a strong collection of songs that has little, if any, weak moments. It's sad ("Who Are We Fooling"), playful ("Something in the Water"), funky ("Jack Kerouac"), and inspiring ("Coachella") in all the right places. It's also been a hit, debuting at #59 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.

We're lucky to have Fraser as part of our 10 to Spin series, as she unveils her "Pre-Show Playlist (warming up from mellow to hyper)." She's on tour now, so catch her in the U.S. while you can!

The First Days of Spring - Noah & the Whale

Conversation - Joni Mitchell [listen]

Clean White Love - Lisa Mitchell


Basketcase - Sara Bareilles


Pressure Suit - Aqualung


Mexican Mavis - Boy & Bear


Late in the Evening - Paul Simon


Go Do - Jonsi


My Delirium - Ladyhawke


Bang Bang Bang (feat. Q-Tip & MDNR) - Mark Ronson & The Business Intl

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Cassie Morgan and The Lonely Pine - His Hands Are Tied

I have a special affinity for small town girls, particularly those from my original neck o' the woods. Cassie Morgan, a local musician and songwriter, is one of those girls.

As a fellow "chick from the sticks" turned resident of a medium-sized city, I'm always equally amazed-slash-proud of native Southern Illinoisans who take the road less traveled, the road that leads to Something Different...even if that hometown still shines emphatically in the rearview mirror.

For our Pajammy Jam of the Day, Morgan's offered up a track from her band's (another SIC fave, Beth Bombara, is the Lonely Pine) latest LP, last spring's Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes. "His Hands Are Tied" features minor-key whistling, straight from a John Wayne movie, that perfectly sets the stage for Morgan's ghost town vocals. The song is eerily intriguing, complexly delicate. It lolls and lumbers the in that easy way small towns do.

Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine - His Hands Are Tied

Of course, the best story inspirations are also the most authentic ones. And, for Morgan, that makes all the difference.

Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes is available now on iTunesAmazon, and CD Baby.

If you're an STLer looking to blow off some steam and rage to a little indie-folk this weekend, Cassie Morgan and The Lonely Pine will play a happy hour gig at The Gramophone Friday, November 12th. Doors at 6 PM; show at 7 PM.

Furthermore, Morgan opens for Jill Andrews at the upcoming December 9th show at Off Broadway. With all that gorgeous female singer-songwriter action happening, I predict SIC Jason's head might explode.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Video | Ingrid Michaelson - Parachute

Ingrid Michaelson is charming as hell. Can we all agree on that?

Plus, the girl can write pretty much whatever she wants -- including tearjerkers and pop masterpieces, which is what her new single, "Parachute," is. The video, directed by Adria Petty (Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams” and Duffy’s “Mercy”), shows Ingrid being rocketed off into space. You gotta watch it now, right?

Jam of the Day | Great Lakes - Summer Fruit

With its frank and personal folk- and country-influenced personality, our Jam of the Day, "Summer Fruit," has a bare, emotional style that's far from the innocent optimism and lighthearted psychedelia of Great Lakes' first two records.

And the band's new LP, Ways of Escape, is equally adorned with gentle guitar, stately piano, beautiful pedal steel, soulful organ and subtle-yet-powerful drumming. Ways of Escape is distinguished by the accomplished musicianship of the group of veteran players who made it.

Plus, it features an all-star line-up that includes musicians from Mice Parade, Beirut, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Ryan Adams, and more. So what's not to like?

Check it out below and go ahead and pick it up here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jam of the Day | Smith Westerns - Weekend

Look out, America. A Chicago rock outfit known as Smith Westerns is packing some serious heat. This garage-ish, '70s-inspired, band of youths (all just reaching, or close to reaching, 20 years of age, but still seasoned vets in the Chicago rock club scene) are set to release their second full length LP, Dye It Blonde, this January and "Weekend" is the first taste of the new record's sound.

"Weekend" is a groovy frolic that espouses the virtues of (what else?) the week's end (while evoking hints of T. Rex and Thin Lizzy), but only if a certain someone is by the singer's side. The crisp riffs let you know Smith Westerns have the chops to bang out some seriously catchy jams. The well-groomed production also confirms that the boys likely had a little more loot this time around than when they pressed their delightfully lo-fi self-titled debut record. The safe bet is that Smith Westerns will continue to rock better with age...though they're already pretty rock solid.

Look for Dye It Blonde when it drops in January. To hold you over, grab their debut record HERE.

Stream "Weekend" HERE.

And, if you're in Chicago, they play Lincoln Hall TONIGHT.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MP3 | Your Youth - Awake

First, let me draw your attention to the above picture. Just what is going on here? Mirrored sunglasses, confetti, oranges, and...Abe Vigoda? I couldn't help but giggle a little at the utter randomness happening in the shot.

Yet, Brooklyn's Your Youth's press shot perfectly embodies its music: punky fresh and blatantly brazen.

"Awake" takes me back to the olden days where the biggest concern in my life was fighting for my right to parrrr-tay. It's idyllic without being naive.

Maybe the bio says it best: "Your Youth are a bunch of fucking liars with loud fucking guitars and huge fucking drums, who just want to escape."

Your Youth - Awake

The boys have recently signed to Gigantic Music (The Walkmen, Harlem Shakes), and the new EP, Aloha, is out now.

Liz Phair (The Interview)

When Liz Phair released the song "Bollywood" from her new album, Funstyle, on her website in July, it caused a few Twitter waves. And these waves had teeth. They were "how could Liz Phair rap and release this song?" waves. People were pretty sure Liz Phair had rabies, or something.

On first listen, I didn't think much of "Bollywood;" sure, it was humorous, maybe a bit catchy (it makes more sense to me presented on the album). But, I wasn't surprised by it - how can you be surprised by Phair? You must expect the unexpected when it comes to her and her art.

So what if Phair rapped on "Bollywood." Neil Young rapped on Fork in the Road's "Cough Up the Bucks." They both have a lot of work to do as rappers, but they are artists who do what they want, when they want to do it. If you object to that, I'd really love to have a long conversation with you. I'll buy the drinks.

We're pretty giddy that Phair took some time to answer a few questions for Speakers in Code. Enjoy.

1. In 2004, I saw you perform at The Pageant in St. Louis, and I got a sense that you were really enjoying playing songs off your latest album at the time, Liz Phair. As far as making music goes, have the last couple of years been enjoyable?

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing and recording recently. My introduction to television scoring has afforded a new creative vein in terms of sound design and production and working with Dave Matthews and his influence in terms of approach have both been very fruitful for me.

2. Your new album, Funstyle, is part personal, and part mockery/self-deprecation. Can you talk a little bit about that?

I think I have always incorporated wry humor in my work, it just may be more overtly stated on Funstyle. I felt that an over the top approach really suited the sense of incredulity I felt at some of the responses I had to my music. Self-deprecation is really just a way to set up the joke, as I mean for the stories in my songs to represent the crap that happens to all of us, just as seen through the lens of my very personal experience.

3. On "You Should Know Me," you sing, "You're building a dam where our lives should be/ And you're lying on top of the beauty." To put it bluntly, that song really affected me. Can you talk about what that song and what those lyrics mean to you?

Thank you for noticing a lyrical passage that is deeply meaningful to me, as well. I don't want to be too specific, but I feel that when people or a person is trying to control something that is essentially organic, emotional, and alive, it kills the very thing that person seeks. You should stand back and marvel at love, relationships and creativity, not cram and squash it into a form you feel more comfortable with.  

4. Funstyle is packaged with a bonus disc called the Girlysound Sessions, a collection of songs that predate Exile in Guyville. What do you remember most about recording those sessions?

I remember the peacefulness of playing music for hours on end in the privacy of my parents' house when no one was home, or at a house of one of their friends when they were out of town, and I was allowed to house sit in exchange for setting up my little recording rig. It was all a time of dreams - there was no audience, no critics, no job - it was just music. I was so young I didn't even have anything else to do. Just record songs, go home, take a run, and eat. Perfection!

5. Finish this sentence: The hardest thing about being a musician in today's society is...

The same thing that has plagued the artist for centuries. Most people focus on externals, don't place a premium on their inner life, so the artist, whose job it is to nurture that inner life, is subject to undervaluation at the marketplace. Yet if you removed us, the world would quickly feel the absence!

6. If there is one thing you would like the listener to know before he or she spins Funstyle, it would be...

What freaks you out about it now is what you will love love love about it later.

Jam of the Day | Lord Huron - Mighty

Sometimes looks can be deceiving, and I fully admit to judging those books by their covers on more than one occasion (a day). But being narrow-minded and judgmental can sometimes pay off in the form of surprises when you least expect them. Insert Ben S. and his band of merry men now known as Lord Huron here.

Fully expecting something beachy and mellow when clicking play for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to have my ears berated with a jam that makes me want to do the Umteyo around a campfire with some Amakwenkwe peeps in Ghana. Or, in the least watch some people do that spinny-hippie dance in some white sand somewhere.

"Mighty" is included on the second EP from Lord Huron by the same name and it's out via Bandcamp as of yesterday.

Check it below.

Lord Huron - Mighty

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jam of the Day | Elizabeth and the Catapult - Go Away My Lover

For a record that has been described as blatantly honest, and even rude at times, this song suuuure is pretty.

Judging by the title though, even the happiest-sounding pop songs on the new Elizabeth  and the Catapult record, The Other Side of Zero, have a tinge of regret and darkness to them. And you know, to be honest, that's a good thing. Who the hell needs happy all the time? When someone asks you, "How's it going?" in the hallway, you don't actually tell them the truth, do you?  Maybe this song will lead by example.

Listen below and pick up the whole thing here.

Elizabeth and the Catapult - Go Away My Lover

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MP3 + Video | The So So Glos - Fred Astaire

Well, look at that. We told you about the band a few weeks back, and now The So So Glos are unveiling the MP3 and music video for "Fred Astaire," the second single from their Low Back Chain Shift EP.

The video, directed by Matthew Greeley, sees the band in full suits and ties, with a dancer who portrays Fred Astaire, dancing and spinning through New York City in full tuxedo and top hat.

Sounds delightful! Check out the song below.

The So So Glos - Fred Astaire

And watch the video here!