Jared Mees and the Grown Children – Limber Hearts

I’ve made no secret of my love of Portland’s Tender Loving Empire. I’m their friend on Facebook. That’s right, friend. I don’t “like” them. I’m friends with them. They’re the label behind my favorite discovery since starting this site, Typhoon, and their artist catalog is absolutely excellent. They’re one of few labels that I try to follow intently. So when I got an email representing a group on them a few weeks back, I was naturally interested. When the email said that it was the group of the man behind the operation of TLE I was even more intrigued.

Jared Mees is that man and his group, Jared Mees and the Grown Children, continues the streak of quality output for Tender Loving Empire. No surprise since this is the man who heads it all up (with his wife). Their new album, Only Good Thoughts Can Stay, sounds like you’d expect from its title: Lush, organic, upbeat pop with some great production. It drops May 5th, so be sure to check it out then. In a lot of ways, this band feels like Typhoon on a whole lot of anti-depressants.

“Limber Hearts” is my personal favorite from the album, so its a good thing NYLON premiered it a while back. (I’ll give you a stream, but you’ve gotta go there to download it.) The production shines here a lot, in particular the piano that starts every off and then continues to touch everything up throughout the song sounds absolutely perfect to me. Mees also has a great sense of melody on this one. The instrumental bridge is excellent as well, bringing in the full sounds of strings, horns and voices to a triumphant last call. After a few listens I can’t help but hum along to the first few lines in my head.

“The hearts, the hearts
The limber hears that bend but never break”

It’s a great uplifting song that’s not overbearing in its optimism. The truth exists, “the high life can’t last forever,” but everything will continue nonetheless. It’s a wonderful sentiment for its honesty.

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Woodkid – Iron

Sometimes you can spend days looking around for new music to post and come up with nothing. All recommendations, all emails, somehow fall flat. You go back, look at old stuff, try to get that spark re-lit. Then an old friend sends you a random email: “Hey, check this out. Think you’d like it.” And it all hits perfectly.

I won’t pretend to know anything about Woodkid. It’s probably laziness on my part, but any information seems superfluous to this incredible music video. Wonderfully shot, full of poignant, awe-inspiring visuals that are relatively simple in execution and complex in interpretation. We’ll see where the rest of the year takes us, but this is definitely my favorite video of the year so far.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the song itself. Grandiose in the biggest ways, it truly feels like a war song of the most majestic kind. Stomping drums and those horns just drive the song, all while Woodkid’s vocals smooth over it all. It’s an incredible track that’s perfectly executed. It’s got the kind of bombast I’d expect from someone like Kanye, without you know, everything else about Kanye.

Woodkid’s actually the musical pseudonym for the video’s director, Yoann Lemoine, who also directed Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” video and Taylor Swift’s “Back to December,” as well as several others. Cleary, Lemoine’s a very talented individual who knows how to handle a camera and a song.

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Trapped In The Closet

I would like to present to you a creative rap group hailing from the mean streets of Clifton aka Cincinnati, Ohio. The name of the group is Trapped in the Closet; I assume inspired by one of R. Kelly’s most creative song/video series. To be straight up with you guys, this group is flat out fun to listen to.

Today I share to you three of their songs; Guddies, H***, & Biddies, Brown & Yellow, and Frat Star. The beats chosen for each song adds to the beauty of the actual lyrics. All three of these songs are poking fun at people in life and are hilarious. There’s no problem in making fun of others, if you can’t make fun of yourself (which the group leader successfully does on Brown & Yellow). Hope you enjoy.

Guddies, H***, & Biddies

Brown & Yellow

Frat Star

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Emmalee Crane

Drone/ambient is a style of music I love and I don’t think I could ever properly explain why. I wish I could, because it seems to be one of the few genres of music that I don’t know anyone else really digs. If they do,  I haven’t really talked about it.

I only know of Emmalee Crane because she followed me on twitter. Music funk or not, I was looking for something to listen to and her gorgeous compositions were the perfect thing to get me out of it. I can’t say much about her aside from what’s in her website‘s bio, but she comes out of San Fransisco and is classically-trained in all manner of instruments. She released a debut album, Crux, in 2009 and a follow-up in 2010 called Formantine.

As for her music, the best word I can think to describe it is “Monolithic.” It’s epic in the pre-internet sense of the word. But it’s also beautiful in that grand sort of way. The same way a vast, barren desert is astounding in spite of its lifelessness. Drone as a whole has a tendency towards feeling “cold” and it’s part of what I like about the genre, but Crane’s work has a unique warmth to it. Likely because of the analog nature of the instruments, which include woodwinds and horns over the typical synth lines. At times she approaches my personal favorite, Stars of the Lid–in particular on Formantine’s “I Never Expect You to Stay.” Instead of the languid, distant sounds they produce, Crane for the most part makes her work big and forward.

Her work feels unknowable. Maybe this is because after searching for actual images of her, the best I can get is the back of her head, but the music’s grandiosity seems to carry with it an element of unfathomability–like that of a faceless corporation, fronted only by a large building and a logo, or perhaps more abstractly, like the sounds of Fate and her machinations beyond comprehension. Vast oceans, incomprehensible to the little one, beautiful for their sheer scope. This is the music that can make you feel small, in the best possible way.

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The Tallest Man on Earth – Love is All [Live on Jools Holland]

I love me some Tallest Man on Earth. I love me some “Love is All,” my favorite track off his sophomore album  The Wild Hunt and one I gave the “Must Listen” tag to. Recently, Sweden’s greatest folk export appeared on the English music show hosted by and named after Jools Holland. The performance is magnetic and the pre-show song is filmed a lot more intimately than the during-show song, “King of Spain.” The empty, metallic, brightly-lit studio seems perfect for the song.

You can also check out the in-show performance of “King of Spain” after the jump:
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Ben Sollee – Wild World (Cat Stevens Cover)

Ben Sollee originally came to my attention  (and really won me over) with a cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” He has a great, surprisingly soulful voice that lends itself well to covers of old songs, so when I saw that he’d done a cover from one of my favorite old-school artists, Cat Stevens, I had to check it out.

Sollee, of course, does well with the song. I can’t say I know much about the recording, coming via LargeHeartedBoy‘s daily download series. All indications seem to point towards it being a simple live rendition, recorded early this year in Durham. Sollee sells it hard, his signature cello playing imbuing the song with a folksy flair. His voice is on at full force too, as he sings with an outright passion that’s rare outside the live setting. The audience joins in at times too, singing along with the classic chorus. Sollee’s on my list of “I Want to See Live,” and this recording’s a perfect representation of why.

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Art Blakey Quintet – Once in a While

I’ve been in something of a musical funk the past few days. For some reason, I simply can’t find anything that really “hits” me. To be sure, we’ve gotten some good submissions and trolling the internet has yielded solid results, but for some reason or another it’s all been underwhelming. This is likely a phenomena any music lover experiences and it’s times like these that I go back through my library in search of a forgotten gem, or simply something I’d like enough to warrant a post.

Jazz comes up a lot at times like these. It’s probably for a variety of reasons; foremost is that I love the sound and feel of jazz, even if I know next to nothing about it. I make no attempt to pass myself off as an expert or even one able to really understand jazz. It’s all feeling for me. I’m also not particularly knowledgeable on the history of jazz–I have the standard classics like Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme, and some others, but it all rests on a very surface level. So when I came across the legendary Night at the Birdland recordings of the Art Blakey Quintet, it was for no other reason than that I liked the cover. (I also liked the label, Blue Note, legendary in its own right.)

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Rachel Goodrich – Light Bulb (Awesome New Republic Remix)

Rachel Goodrich makes some damned sunshiney pop music.  Her self-titled debut dropped in February and would be perfect for the sun and green of spring, so if you haven’t already checked it out head over to her bandcamp and give it a whirl.

Bombastic happy pop that’s fairly self-indulgent is pretty firmly in the realm of mainstream ’80’s music, so it’s fairly appropriate that Awesome New Republic’s remix of “Light Bulb” is heavily reminiscent of that era. While I can’t say I’m a fan of the ’80’s, sometimes the synth-heavy, processed sound is perfect for that ridiculously happy feeling. Considering the original is much more hokey and vaudeville sounding, it’s surprising that it actually works. Then you think about it a bit and realize that ’80’s were about as ridiculous as vaudeville and it all works.

Rachel Goodrich – Light Bulb (ANR Remix)

{via RCRDLBL, download there}

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The Middle East – Blood

If this is any proof of what a good thing mumuplayer is, I’m still working my way through all the music I wrote down nearly a week on the first time I used it. It made me realize that being properly exposed to music outside your ‘circle’ is actually rarer than I thought it was. I can’t say I ever would have heard of The Middle East were it not for that night. And what a good thing, too because these guys make some seriously good music.

After doing some preliminary research, this Australian six-piece has already gotten attention from big-wigs like I Guess I’m Floating and That One Music Website that Rhymes with Bork, so I’m again behind the times on this one. Maybe that’s why “Blood” sounds so familiar. It’s also my favorite track from their EP that I picked up, called The Recordings of the Middle East.

Full of warm melodies and wonderful production, this is the kind of song I want to play to a person just to be able to see their reaction. It’s the one downside of blogs–I don’t get to see that look (except for when my friends don’t read it and then I get to do it all over again. Looking at you, Zohair). Simply, I don’t see many people not liking this song and band.

Buy the EP
“Like” them on Facebook to listen to two free songs.

The Middle East – Blood
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Musaic

We got an email a couple days ago, from a 5 piece soul/rock band who goes by the name of Musaic. The band is located out of Brooklyn and brings to the table a great singer. The band seemed to come together in an unusual way, as they say on their website, they “began as a typical New York City five degrees of separation.” Ben Kogan, the groups bassist, began piecing together the band after hearing Jermaine Hardy, the lead singer, at a concert in NYC. They then brought on the remaining three members, Danny Wolf (drummer), David Melton (keys), and David Linaburg (guitarist), to create the talented up-and-coming band.

Jermaine can sing. And the band behind him can play. If you took John Legend and had him record back in Motown era, you would get the sound Musaic brings. While having an older feel to them, Musaic does bring around a pretty original idea, not many R&B artist actually record as an R&B band. You might see an artist bring a band with them to the show but when it comes to recording, usually its just them in the booth while the beat is already produced for them to sing over. If you want to hear their music, they have released an album called Musaic and their website musaicnyc.com has videos from performances and some covers they’ve done. They are definitely worth the listen. Hopefully they come through Ohio for a show.

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