St. Vincent

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, used to play guitar with the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, which might account for her pleasingly random-seeming musical influences. Contrary to standard operating procedure, I don’t have a whole lot else to say other than I really like this woman, she has pluck and style and and I think you should listen to her. Plus, you’ve gotta love a woman who names her album “Marry Me.” Brassy!

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The Early Years

Incubating across the Atlantic in their native London The Early Years released this, their first single, almost a year ago. “All Ones & Zeros” bounces along with a cheerful Joy Division-esque bass line, then the guitars hit. And hit. And hit. Droning, reverberating, backwards, forwards, feeding back and just making wonderful noise. You get an idea of what The Early Years’ first show was like, David Malkinson, on stage, alone, armed with a guitar, amp, and a plethora of effects pedals treating the small crowd to a twenty-minute long wall of sound. The vocals remind me of (brace yourselves for a really obscure reference here….) Butterfly Train, with Brett Nelson of Built To Spill on bass and vocals (In fact, the two bands have a similar vibe, but Butterfly Train had that certain Seattle-in-the-90s sound). The Early Years do a fantastic job of holding back the guitars just enough so they don’t lose control of the song. Stop by the band’s myspace page for a few more songs and to get an idea of their range. Expect their self-titled debut early next year on Beggars here in the U.S.

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Another example of our diabolical scheme here at the ‘hive. Wait for every other site in the world to talk about a band, then we swoop in, iconoclastically late. Is the Voxtrot party still on? You bet it is. And there’s still plenty of time to sport Voxtrot merch and not look sooooo 2005. The Austin-based band warns there won’t be a proper album for a while. So they do what any respectable band should, keep teasing their fans with EPs. “Trouble” is one third of their next installment of American-bred, Britishy smart-pop that holds up remarkably well under all the buzz.

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The National

Here’s how out of it I am (and not even because of our new month-old kid) — it took a couple of burned CDs from Katherine delivered in a Ziploc to clue me in to The National. All the while, I thought it was just the CBC’s nightly news program hosted by the stately, handsomely balding Peter Mansbridge. Instead, we’re talking a brooding, dark, intensely rocking band with heavy duty coverage from CMJ, BillBoard, Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, Pitchfork and a bunch of other media sources I never have time to read. For those who are as clueless as me, try “Murder Me Rachael” for starters, though you might have to listen to it twenty times before moving on to the next track. Don’t worry; it stays good. Thanks, Kath!

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