Thomas Feiner & Anywhen

David Sylvian resurrects what he calls a “lost classic,” in this the third and final album by the Swedish band Anywhen, The Opiates. The band dissolved before the album was completed and singer Thomas Feiner pushed on, dedicated to finishing the project. He did so at risk to his own well-being. A self-described loner, “being around people [has] always caused me some tension and discomfort,” Feiner nevertheless sought out the talents of the Warsaw Radio Symphony Orchestra. Working with them made him a “nervous wreck,” but he also described it as the high point of his musical career. The Opiates seem to benefit from these tensions. The album leads with “The Siren Songs,” a lush, celebratory epic in which Feiner revels in submitting to his muse, then slowly wanders along a road less traveled to “All That Numbs You,” a mournful study of a life dragged down by a “job you hate to buy things you don’t need.” Every step in between features Feiner’s rich baritone accompanied by either delicate or driving cinematic orchestrations. A lost classic indeed.

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Eerie is one man, Eric Obo, who splits his time between Sweden and St. Helier, Jersey in England’s Channel Islands, who’s gathered his friends to create an intimate recording. His self-titled EP, offered here in its entirety courtesy of the generous Komakino label, is what I like to call whispercore at its finest. It opens with a straight forward acoustic track, a country-western Elliott Smith type thing, with just a hint of distortion swelling in late in the song. “In the Twinkle of an Eye” is about as upbeat as you can expect from Eerie, and equally as noisy. Which isn’t much. Obo’s languid vocals linger below sliding chords and gauzy guitars. Here his voice takes on a new wave air which adds an interesting dimension to the track. At the bridge he slows the pace and turns up the distortion. Coupled with this heat wave we’re experiencing out here in lower California Eerie has loosened my bones and I find myself melting into my chair…Ladies and gentlemen we’re slowly diving into space…

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Bon Iver

Sometimes I fall in love a little when I listen to the perfect music at the perfect time and it seems that the stars have aligned because I am listening to Bon Iver RIGHT NOW and I am definitely feeling musical butterflies. I’m not sure what it is, but I think its because the album “For Emma, Forever Ago” is just so damn pretty. Of course there is a whole lot of pretty music out there, but there is something truly simple and honest to this. The music is often bare, doesn’t fuss when it doesn’t need to and nods a couple of times to some of my musical favorites (Elliott? Bonnie?). Fortunately, a quick search of the interweb has confirmed that Bon Iver appears to be just as simple and honest and real as he sounds. Good thing since, lets keep it real, he is totally my new imaginary boyfriend.

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Vanilla Swingers

It was my daughter’s birthday yesterday and the major festivities happen today, so the in-laws are in town (they just walked in the door) and my hosting and fathering skills are required, but I don’t want to short change the ‘hive or this band. Lucky for me, Anne and Miles of Vanilla Swingers just dropped these tracks of gold into our suggestion box yesterday, saving me the trouble of digging through piles of mail, electronic and snail. While their name rings oxymoronic (I imagine swingers to be more of a Rocky Road or Chocolate Fudge Ripple variety) there’s nothing contradictory about Vanilla Swingers’ music. Moody, electronic tracks are the backdrop for hushed boy/girl vocals telling the story of two lovers who run away to London then travel back in time. “I’ll Stay Next to You” epitomizes Vanilla Swingers’ cinematic themes and sound, while “Danger” sounds as if the Pet Shop Boys slowed things down to about 90 bpm and were fronted by a gorgeous, brunette chanteuse. Oh yes, despite their name Vanilla Swingers sound very brunette, the color of my desire.

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Really? Has it really been two a half years since Rademacher first appeared on 3hive? This foursome, led and driven by Malcolm Sosa, continues to mature, while still doing their own thing, man. Yes, they’ve made some changes over the years–style, personnel–but they still have their independence, their quirkiness, and an ear for a good tune, finally releasing their first full-length Stunts in December 2007 after three earlier EP’s.

Original Post 8/24/2005:
Okay, there are three good things that come from Fresno, Californ-I-A, and no, not one of the three is Cher. My old lady (oh crap, she’s gonna read this, make that my young bride, to quote my father-in-law) hails from Fresno, as do Let’s Go Bowling and Rademacher. The relative isolation of the Central Valley has allowed the young ones of Rademacher to develop their own take on indie rock that is intense, melodic, and original while being vaguely familiar. The first song is from their new EP out this fall.

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A Weather

A Weather are a whisper out of Portland, Oregon, playing the some of the softest and easiest sounds of the year. Slow, smooth, captivating, trance-inducing — the intertwined vocals of Aaron Gerber and Sarah Winchester are hard to break away from once they’ve caught you. There is an incredible beauty to these tracks, all off the band’s debut efforts on Team-Love Records. If you like things low, lush, hushed and hazy, this is the place to be.

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Hello, Blue Roses

Today I will be brief in favor of yet another satisfying nap. I love slow, electronic-ish, mixed-voice fare. I really, really love it, actually. And from this vantage point, Sydney Vermont and “her man” [direct quote from Myspace bio, interesting…] Dan Bejar (who spends some time with Destoyer and the New Pornos as well) are yet another antidote to seasonal indulgence. This one was recommended by my dear friend Seth, who will leave New York City this week for more verdant vistas. How appropriate and delicious the melancholia.

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Michael Brook

Michael Brook fits my mood to a T these days. Melancholic, introspective, thoughtful, and downright chill. I first discovered Brook via his work with David Sylvian and Rain Tree Crow (and later with Robert Fripp). This prompted a purchase of his album Cobalt Blue, which I often turn to for a dose of sheer mellow bliss (Do yourself a favor and track down the song “Breakdown” from that album). Brook lures listeners in with his infinite guitar, an instrument of his own making, designed to sustain a note indefinitely. I’m not sure if he uses this instrument on his current album, but his guitar work remains gorgeous nevertheless. The first two tracks come from his newest album, Bell Curve, which is a companion piece to last year’s RockPaperScissors. He also scored the movie An Inconvenient Truth where you can find the song “Election.” His soundtrack to the Michael Mann movie Heat allows deserves investigation. Oh, and I just about forgot his score for Sean Penn’s Into The Wild. Michael Brook is quite possibly your favorite movie composer you never realized you’ve heard. Until now.

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For seven years, Athens, Georgia’s Japancakes have reliably turned out what, if it were distortion-laden and featured ethereal vocals, would be labeled “shoegazer.” Instead my people call it good ol’ fashioned instrumental country music with the occasional twist. It’s only fitting, then, that they decided to cover the shoegazer classic-of-all-classics — My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless — in its entirety. Pedal steel and cello replace the vocal and guitar melodies. The mood and structure remains very much intact and it’s lovely…just not as fulfilling as the original, or as a regular Japancakes record. Which might be why, as a sort of insurance against cynics like me, they released Giving Machines, an incredible album of originals (plus one Cocteau Twins cover), within a couple weeks of Loveless. As a package, it’s one of the sweeter releases of the year. Double down, I always say.

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It’s only been about seven months since I first posted Efterklang, but they have a new album out and a fantastic, playful, M.C. Escher-esque video and, well, it’s all very exciting. Both “Cutting Ice to Snow” and “Mirador” (the video track) showcase Efterklang’s beautiful knack for creating soundtracks to films that haven’t been made — though I guess in the case of “Mirador” that’s only half true. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a sublime way to add a lilting soundtrack to your own never-ending film. Oh, and for those of you in Europe, Efterklang will be on tour all season, so go to their website and see if they’ll be near you…

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