the cinematic orchestra

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After reading Oliver Sacks’s “The Island of the Colorblind,” I feel the need to celebrate my ability to see colors by ruining my eyesight with music videos. W00t!

01. At Spinner, some nice Sons & Daughters.

02. Via Boingboing, the new Jamaican flavored Gnarls Barkley. Despite allegations of the video’s “African/urban” look being appropriated without asking (and it’s pretty obvious that it was), if I saw a magic door on the beach, I’d totally walk through it. Unless the gunslinger was there.

03. Via Fabulist!, “A Parisian Analogy.” I have no idea what they’re singing about (I mean, I have a general idea), but I lurve this video.

04. My boys the Black Keys rock up the stage on Conan. Uh … is Conan just freakishly tall, or is Auerbach really short? I’m mystified.

05. Via Idolator, some new Cure that isn’t … too … bad … uh … can’t take my eyes off that skull tattoo. Also, let me say this with all fandom behind me: Robert Smith, NO ONE WOULD CARE IF YOU GOT A HAIRCUT. We’d probably all thank you.

06. Everybody Cares collects some red-hot Redding tunes and includes some video. Mmmhmm, that’s what Youtube was made for. That man could rock.

07. Via the Music Slut, the new Coldplay video. Yes, I have a soft spot for Coldplay. Even though dude, Chris Martin’s teeth are just not pretty at all. AT ALL.

08. Also via Music Slut, the Cinematic Orchestra on Kimmel. So freaking gorgeous.

09. I love Mattafix. I adore their release from last year, “Rhythms & Hymns.” Electroqueer has video for “Things Have Changed.”

10. And one for Juliette, via Stereogum — The Mountain Goats, “Lovecraft In Brooklyn” (Aesop Rock Remix)

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15.
St Vincent
Marry Me
Beggars Banquet
Landmines

The way Annie Clark handles an electric guitar is sheer magic. The first time I heard “Paris Is Burning,” a couple years ago, I said, I have to have more of this music. Finally, Clark came through for me and the result is excellent, layered rock and roll, bursting with sound and image: They gave me a medal for my valor / Leaden trumpets spit the soot of power.

When this album is on, it’s on in a big way; but some songs drag, and I get bored listening to the whole thing (which, I probably don’t need to mention, makes me sad. I wish every song were as good as “Paris.”). But between her physical beauty and presence, and the smart music, she lives up to the hype that surrounded the album and declared her a certified Indie Goddess.



14.
Bodies of Water
Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink

Our Friends Appear Like The Dawn

Everyone talks about Bodies of Water with a little awe; the sheer vocal power harnessed in this record simply makes war on your ears. And when the vocals pair up with the gospelesque lyrics, the result can be sheer beautiful bliss, as in “Doves Circled the Sky.” Even the most hardened blogger might unironically recommend music with such power, turning a blind eye to lyrics like Oh please do not forsake me / where is Your finger upon my lips / and though I sleep in the dirt and the leaves, please touch
my heart with Your tongue
. We’re talking religion like an 1820s tent revival here.

When the music goes wrong, it goes really really wrong. There are promises in songs on this album (one of the few that I bought in physical format) that the vocals simply cannot fulfill — the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and can’t get to those high notes. So while listeners sometimes might find themselves screwing up their faces like they were eating lemons, the powerful songs like “These Are The Eyes” and “I Turned My Face” outweigh the lesser concerns of which tracks deserve the fast-forward.



13.
The Cinematic Orchestra
Ma Fleur
Domino
As The Stars Fall

Billed as the soundtrack to a movie that may never be made, “Ma Fleur” sets the imagination free to roam. It is a very sensual album, and it just builds up beautiful pictures in the listener’s mind. In places where Swinscoe sings, he just adds to the general ambience instead of trying to drown it out. And he’s got ambience in spades.

The music swoops from the melancholy “To Build A Home” to the jazzy stylings of “Child Song” and the old-timey sound of “Breathe.” “Prelude” really sounds like something that would play over opening credits, and as it zooms in from the crane shot, the viewer can see … your house. Or mine. Or someone you know. What are they doing as we look in the window? Only the
viewer knows for sure.



12.
Cake On Cake
I Guess I Was Daydreaming
Desolation
You Make My Heart Say Yes

Man, I do not care what anyone says about this album. I played it about a thousand times in my car, and it was perfect for LA. See, the thing about LA traffic is, people cut you off all the time for no reason. And so after a few years of it, you start thinking that everyone driving in the next lane is going to cut you off. You stare suspiciously at them, grinding your teeth. “GO AHEAD!” you yell, shaking your fist. “JUST GET IT OVER WITH!”

All this is to say that the pure simplicity of Cake On Cake soothed my road rage. If the song is called “Come On Rainbow,” that’s what the words say: come on, come on (x3) / come on, rainbow. For the entire song. Nothing more, nothing less, but with the sugar-sweet addition of Sundin’s instrumentals. Maybe it would make some people’s teeth ache, but screw ’em. We want to be happy.



11.
Eisley
Combinations
Reprise
Come Clean

I already wrote paeans to Eisley earlier in the year, so this feels like overkill. OK, in case you weren’t listening before — beautiful pop, better than anything you can find on the radio, put out by a quartet of young’uns in Texas. Did I miss anything? Maybe just that the harmonies are spectacular with a capital Spec.

It’s outsize music; the whole eclipses the sum of its parts. I can listen all day to the soaring, effortless “you / you / you” on “Invasion” and, well, the effortless harmonies punctuating almost every other song. Other standouts: “Come Clean” and “Combinations,” with its wistful country music chorus: I went for so long and I was so wrong / and then I met you and
now I can’t live without you / and I don’t want to; I’ve done that all my life up till now.

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Catchup time

Time to find out what some bands from last year are doing now!

Before I start, some of you may have watched “Friday Night Lights” last Friday … you did, right? Right? When Street throws himself off the boat into the water, the song you’re listening to is “To Build A Home,” by the Cinematic Orchestra. You can listen to the song (and others) at their Myspace, and it is SO worth it.

Klee — Klee has a new album out, called “Zwischen Himmel und Erde” (trans: Between Sky and Earth, or Heaven & Earth if you’re feeling religious). Sadly it appears to be only out in Deutschland. While you wait for Minty Fresh to get their act together, you can preview tracks (in German) at the site.

Band of Annuals — the awesome hometown crew released their album in May. It’s called, “Let Me Live.”

Justin Rutledge — from my cursory look, I don’t know if the Junction Forty are still around, but Justin released an album earlier this year as well, entitled “The Devil On A Bench In Stanley Park.” Buy the album at Amazon or preview some tracks at his site. I’m really loving “This Is War.”

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Songs by Email, part three

I got some great responses from my last post, and thanks to all the ladies who dropped by and gave me more names for my list. We only need one more site and we’d be at fifty, so if you’re out there, give us your name, precioussss. I was just glad to get so many more blogs for my RSS … I have trouble keeping up as it is, but so what? I’ll drown happy.

And now onto songs by email, part three. You know the drill.

Ali Marcus

Ms. Marcus is mentioned below in conjunction with female bloggers, but she is also a musician and her music sounds like something you’d hear on old timey radio, sitting with your ear pressed up against a vacuum tube. Very Dar Williams, using her voice and lyrics as instruments.

She has kindly made much of her 2007 album, “Miles and Miles and Miles,” available on her site. Can’t beat that. I’m really liking “A Pearl Is Just A Pearl.”

Ali Marcus – Site | Myspace | Label (Turtle Rock)

The Cinematic Orchestra

Recently released record entitled “Ma Fleur” is “the soundtrack to a specially commissioned screenplay for an imagined film (which may or may not yet be made).” Which is so frakking cool! It could be the soundtrack to your life, people! You just don’t know it.

The music is extra jazzy, sometimes sounding Bjorkian, like a song off of “Debut,” and sometimes just like what you said to your girlfriend last night on the phone before you hung up and cried. Yeah, admit it … the soundtrack already knows you did.

The Cinematic Orchestra – Site | Myspace

TCO — To Build A Home (edit)

TCO — Child Song (US 7″ b-side)

Kosovo

I appreciate the backwards-paddling mindset that it takes to compose blippity electronica, because often it’s not the kind of thing that makes the hoi polloi sit up and take notice. Kosovo decided that the rock they were churning out was ‘pretty generic’ (I quote their Myspace), so they tried something different, and bless them for trying.

It’s experimental and very laid-back, not something I could listen to all the time, but it would make excellent background for a Karazhan raid (gratuitous WoW reference). Your raid leader could give orders over it, and they’d fit right in.

Kosovo – Myspace

Robert Francis

Prettily played and sung, Ryan Adams crossed with Chris Isaak; thinks a bit much of itself. From the presskit bio:

Unlike most teenagers, Robert is not seduced by the decadent lifestyles of today’s pop stars and has only disdain for the over produced empty songs on the radio. Writing and producing all his own material, he injects one hundred percent truth and emotion into each of his songs.

Awww, teenage disdain and sincerity, you gotta love it. Album entitled “One by One” is coming out on Aeronaut records in August.

Robert Francis — Myspace | Label (Aeronaut)

Robert Francis — One By One
Robert Francis — Little Girl

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