Chin Up Chin Up

“We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers” is one of those cleverer-than-thou song titles that’s long, pretentious, and altogether undeserving of seriousness. Yet it’s full of chaotic meaning, the kind indie musicians strive for and then deny striving for just to keep their ambivalent cred. It’s pretty much perfect for the song itself: a burbling rush to nowhere that comes across as a math-rocky Polyphonic Spree. When I read back over that description I feel like I should hate the band, but I don’t. In fact, I think I love those crazy skyscrapers.

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Camper Van Beethoven

3hive is more than just a good time, it’s an education. Today’s lesson covers one of the classics. If I may share, the very first t-shirt I made myself (designed and screened!) as a skinny 16 year old was a Camper Van Beethoven t-shirt. The second was a legendary Memphis band, Think as Incas, but that’s another story. CVB — while one of the founding fathers of indie rock — was really all things to all people, genre-hopping as they felt so inclined. ‘Cause, you know, it really was all about the music. The new album from the re-united CVB, New Roman Times, comes out in October.

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Palomar make me hungry. They sing a song about my favorite cut of sushi. The song’s got so much zip it’s like getting a few, thin slices of jalapeÒo and a sprig of cilantro on your shiro maguro. If you tend towards the darker side of “pop-rock,” hit “The Planeiac.” It’s a more mature sound, no need for frills. Like the first time I walked into my neighborhood sushi bar. One look at this gaijin and they quickly said, “No rolls!” They meant business. Palomar mean business.

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An all-star collective from the Minneapolis underground, featuring the chaps who record individually as/with Fog, Dosh, Hymie’s Basement, and Neotropic. Post-rock instrumentals with an improvisational jazz flair. These are early recordings, birthed before the debuts of Fog and Dosh. Merck’s re-releasing Easy Pieces this month, with new recordings and a tour to follow next year. This generation is lucky to have more “easy-listening” options than Windham Hill.

* For residents of the OC: join me Tuesday at the Apple store for a little presentation. Would love to meet any local 3hivers.

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Walking Concert

Those who were ushered into junior high by Gorilla Biscuits, into college by Quicksand, and into adulthood by Rival Schools are all too familiar with what Walter Schreifels can do with an aggressively tuned guitar and a chest full of angst. The blister-hooks of those past efforts still make an appearance here and there in his latest band (also featuring a journeyman from Salt Lake City and a freelance underwear designer — viva la difference!), but Walking Concert showcases Schreifels expanding his horizons into areas more melodic and, dare I say it, quietly retrospective. He�s grown up, and growing up still sounds just right.

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Travis Morrison

Travis Morrison, the artist formerly known as 25% of The Dismemberment Plan, drops his first solo record just a year after the demise of TDP. A glimpse into Travistan (the first three tracks offered here) reveals PETA-inspired pop, an eager, piano-driven morality play, and a sing-song memoir cluttered up with live studio audience effects and Defender(TM) samples. Lick off Ben Fold’s sugar-coating, but don’t go as dour as Elliott Smith, and you got Mr. Morrison here.

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The Shifties

West Coast slowpop vibe via Windy City. The pace picks up by “Can’t Go On”: the verses spunky like “Kids in America” while the chorus jangles like something off Reckoning. A fun find from the suggestion box.

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The Legends

A Stockholm band built on the whims of nine friends, many of whom had never even picked up an instrument before, with the simple desire of writing songs together. A study in desire, fuzzed out guitars, drive, and handclaps.

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Dirty on Purpose

Dirty on Purpose are at once oddly familiar and distressingly hard to put a finger on. American Analog Set meets Modern English? Yo La Tengo meets Arab Strap? Or Belle & Sebastian meets Clan of Xymox (…I know, don’t ask)? Or is it just me? They are crisp and clean, their guitars and vocals soaring above the driving rhythms. So listen to “Mind Blindness.” If you like, then and only then download “Monument,” as it’s a miserly 80 kbps.

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