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March 2012
Here We Go Magic
""A Different Ship"

We've always been big fans of Luke Temple, and it's good to see that, together with the Here We Go Magic crew, the man is keeping at it with increasingly beautiful records and videos. The band's new album "A Different Ship" (stream it here) will be out on May 8, and betrays at least a partial return to Luke Temple's more intimate and melodic sound from his solo repertoire - in this regard, lend a ear to "Hard to Be Close," "Alone but Moving" and "Over the Ocean". This is welcome news for fans like us who always thought that in most HWGM material Luke's noteworthy songwriting skills seemed a little sacrificed on the altar of textural experimentation. This doesn't mean that the band's signature hypnotic, impressionistic sound is lost - it's just that these two elements work together better than they did in past records, and this is what makes this album one of the NYC highlights of the year so far. Indeed, this collection also features songs more in line with the band's past releases ("Make Up your Mind", "I Believe in Action"), which follow on the steps of brainy-pop icons like Brian Eno and The Feelies, but there's definitely a balance here, also betrayed by the almost perfect alternation of melodic songs and less traditional ones.The just released video of "How Do I Know," telling the story of a rejected dancing robot that ends up revitalizing an older man's appreciation for life, seems to reflect on this brain/heart, mechanic/organic dichotomies and somehow bring them to unity. - PDG

Get Carried Away with Friend Roulette

From the moment the ear buds dock and Friend Roulette’s ‘Sailing Song’ came up; I found I was already climbing mountains and working my way across unfamiliar canyons. There’s a perfectly hummable sentiment somewhere in this song that keeps working its way back to the surface, but only after first progressing through all manner of uneven meter changes, brass fanfare and incidental thematic adventure. At times stepping boldly into a space usually exclusive to the imagination of score composers like Danny Elfman, the group essentially writes Baroque pop pieces for an imagined Brechtian musical, casting its talented singer/songwriters Julia Tepper and Matthew Meade as the show’s unlikely protagonists.

After moving through so much landscape, you might think it reasonable that you’d eventually get a good idea about how this band operates. But the more I listen to Roulette, the less sure I am of where the genre’s fault lines are drawn. And it doesn’t help that the vocals are surrounded by generous portions of airy synth playing and legato violin bowing. So I’ve concluded one should only expect to approach the band’s after-hours sound while sifting through a thick haze of fog and mystery. Like an old Noir film, Friend Roulette never gives away the plot, but the distinct pleasure of discovering their dreamy Cabaret texture is enough to keep your ears duly occupied during the journey. - Mike Levine (@goldnuggets)

This band submitted their music for review digitally here.


Happy New Year - Walking Her Own Path

Happy New Year (who made our 2011 Best of NYC list of Emerging Artists) doesn’t worry about making a mess; things will work themselves out eventually. In the opener to her two-track EP ‘Twins,’ singer/songwriter/noise-maker Eleanor Logan allows a deep bed of noise to envelope her airy vocals entirely for a good minute and a half prior to the drums kicking in. But once things get going, her works take on a life all their own. Like in her latest 7-inch, where the artist seems to drown in a warm bed of synths and buzzing guitars before the bass drum reaches out to pull the song forward, and Happy New Year forges a path all on her own. - Mike Levine


Aaron Roche - Writing from an Elevated Place

If you’re a fan at all of Beck’s ‘Sea Change,’ you’ll no doubt find a familiar place with Aaron Roche’s string arrangements and hypnotic croon. But what you won’t be prepared for is how many instruments and textures Roche brings to the table. Given to elevating pop tricks to a high art sensibility, tracks like ‘Cyclocardorary’ and the haunting murkiness of ‘Death is all Around’ from new record “!BlurMyEyes” place Roche in the company of John Cale and R. Stevie Moore, artists elevating the usual pop canvas to a spiritual dimension.


Get Turned on by Highly Suspect

I have yet to find a picture of Highly Suspect with their shirts on. With their blend of summertime hooks worthy of late-era Incubus, I guess this shore readiness is well-suited. The slow skank verse and distorted hook hum in songs like 'The Alligator Song' and 'Gang Lion' were practically made for an MTV spring break jam, but the rock trio's lush tenor harmonies reveal an appreciation for subtler moments and the occasional lift to a loftier plane. And did I mention they have no shirts?

Mike Levine (@goldnuggets)

MP3: Highly Suspect - The Alligator Song

This band submitted their music for review digitally here.


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