Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spring '09 - The End Of The Semester Report Card

Now that the Alternative Ulster is on hiatus until September, I have to force myself to keep my head in the conquest that is finding new music. Daily, I scouer the internet for new bands with new songs, old bands with unheard old songs, and the old bands with new songs. As it now stands, I have nothing better to do with my days besides read, go to the gym, look forward to drinking that evening, and said music searching. So now I give you ten of my favorite tunes from the past Spring semester.

The Thermals - "We Were Sick"
- On an album chock-full of catchy power-pop gems, it's pretty hard to narrow it down to just this track. With its three-chord poppiness and irresistible harmonies by singer Hutch Harris and bassist Kathy Foster, "We Were Sick" is everything you would want in a Thermals song. (OK, maybe it isn't "Returning To The Fold.")

Wilco - "Wilco (The Song)"
- It's not even out yet! Ahh! Ever since the band played this tune on The Colbert Report, I've been salivating for the new Wilco LP (see below). In a driving, "Waiting For The Man"-type fashion, Jeff Tweedy and his pals offer a pop gem, that reminds the listener that "Wilco will love you, baby." (I wonder what they'll change the "Colbert" lyric to?)

Art Brut - "Alcoholics Unanimous"
- Whenever Art Brut performs, they consistently walk the line between an energetic punk band and a stand-up comedy routine. Actually, they do that on about every song they've ever written (remember "Formed A Band"?), and the first single from their latest album, Art Brut Vs. Satan, is no exception. "I've been up all night," yells frontman Eddie Argos, "I've been making mistakes!/I'm hiding it well/But I don't feel great!" Story of my life.

Animal Collective - "Summertime Clothes"
- I have no problem admitting that I'm new to AC. The first video I ever saw by them scared the bejeezus out of me, and that was about it. But when January '09 rolled around, it was virtually impossible to avoid all the praise for Merriweather Post Pavillion. And rightfully so: Avey Tare, Geologist, and Panda Bear have delivered the most consistant, accesible, and sonically-pleasing album of thier career.

Peter, Bjorn, and John - "Nothing To Worry About"
- What? No whistling? Exactly. The guys who broke through the American main stream with "Young Folks" (thanks to "Grey's Anatomy") bring the incredible catchy "Nothing To Worry About" from thier forth album Living Thing. Watch the video and get ready to giggle.

St. Vincent - "Actor Out Of Work"
- Now that she's got the David Byrne stamp of approval, expect to hear a lot more about Annie Clark's group St. Vincent. The former member of the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Steven's touring band has established herself in her own right with the first single from the highly-lauded album Actor. She also gets a lot street-cred for covering the (made-famous-by-Nico) Jackson Browne song "These Days."

The Decemberists - "The Rake's Song"
- Colin Meloy of the Decemberists is a firm believer in the album as a whole. He and the group have been writing rock dramas since thier inception in the early 2000's, and doing so has earned them quite a following. The newest act, The Hazards Of Love, is the Decemberists' second major label album, and the lead (and most likely only) single doesn't disappoint.

Phoenix - "1901"
- France's pop quartet Phoenix have been at it since the late 1990's, and from the same scene that produced Air and Daft Punk. Thankfully, the band didn't just blend with their peers; they decided to make electro-rock-dance and downright fun pop music. Will thier fifth album break them in the states? I mean, they've already done SNL...

Miike Snow - "Animal"
- Truth is, I don't know much about Miike Snow. So I'll let you in on what I do know: They're a three piece, their first album comes out June 9th, and they'll be at Lollapalooza. Oh, and did I mention that the first time you listen to the first single, "Animal," you won't be able to get it out of your head?

Telekinesis! - "Coast Of Carolina"
- Recent Merge signees Telekinesis have created a power-pop gem with "Coast of Carolina." Produced by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla, its got all that catchy "ba ba ba baaa baaa" goodness of DCFC, only without a depressing video. They sure do wear their influences on thier sleeve, but hey, at least they're ripping them off well.

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