I love a song that grows on me with repeated listens, but that isn’t to say I can’t appreciate a more “direct” pop song that requires little or no investment.  In fact, there is a certain immediate satisfaction from hearing a song once and feeling floored by it.  For example, I knew I loved “Living in America” by DOM the first time I heard it, and I feel the same way about “Crime Pays” by Bear Hands.  “Crime Pays” is the first single off of their forthcoming full length Burning Bush Supper Club which features the similarly rewarding cut “What a Drag.”  This will definitely be an album to check out when it is released.  Speaking of which, Burning Bush Supper Club will be released on November 2, but 3 tracks from the album can be streamed now at Bear Hands’ bandcamp page.  And if you like what you hear (and live in the Bay Area) – why not stop by the Rickshaw Stop on November 18, 2010 to catch ’em live.

Bear Hands – Crime Pays

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Los Angeles-based all-girl quintet Warpaint have been growing on me in the past several weeks.  I’d received their debut album, The Fool, in my inbox several weeks ago, but mostly shrugged it off.  Flash forward to the present, and I’m spending a lazy day cooped-up in the apartment listening to the album again – and honestly dumb-founded as to how these dreamy and deftly layered shoegaze melodies and these punchy, chugging rhythms got past me the first time.  My best guess is that I just hadn’t turned up the dial on my stereo loud enough when I first listened to ’em because these strangely spiraling, psychedelic tracks can be warmly all-surrounding and hypnotic if you give them the room to breathe.  So turn it up and feel the breeze.

Warpaint – Undertow (edit)

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When I tried the delicious poached salmon salad with horseradish dressing that Kasey is featuring today, I knew this recipe had to pair with a band from the Pacific Northwest. This salad is fresh, it is big, and it is bold.  And all of those adjectives apply equally to the 4th LP from Portland-based trio Menomena: Mines.   But then, Mines is an album that can be described with a string of superlatives and adjectives that imply intricacy and largeness in scale — beautiful, vast, dense, complex and grand — for example.  Nonetheless, although each of those descriptors are spot-on, they also don’t bring you any closer to understanding what the album sounds like or why Mines is one of the year’s best albums.  But yes, let’s put that out there from the beginning: Mines is one of 2010’s best albums.

Menomena’s unique songwriting process has proven to be one of the most distinctive and defining elements of their music to date.  So, in describing what the album sounds like, it is useful to understand how the songs — and most of the songs from Menomena’s other albums for that matter — were constructed.  First, Menomena record their songs in a democratic process — put another way: there is no primary songwriter.  Also, there is no true “lead singer,” there is no “lead guitar,” etc., so each of the band’s three members alternate singing duties, instrumentation, and songwriting.  All of their songs are developed using a computer program that was programmed by band member Brent Knopf.  From there (according to band member Danny Seim), they usually set the tempo of the click track, lay down an improvised riff (usually beginning with drums), loop said riff, and then build upon the track with whatever noisemakers are handy.  Further, Mines specifically was recorded piecemeal via e-mail, and according to Knopf — there was never an occasion when the trio were together in one room during the recording process.  So, with that process in mind, you’d probably expect each of these tracks to incorporate a little chaos — and indeed they do.  But you might also expect the songwriting to suffer, and in that, you’d be wrong.  Instead, the songwriting here is explosive, elegant and wonderfully unpredictable.  Melodies often begin simply – a guitar and a down tempo drum beat on album opener “Queen Black Acid” for example – but unfurl slowly with additional depth being carefully, precisely, layered onto the mix in the form of snarling electric guitars, shimmering bells, bright bass lines, and more.  The album is phenomenally mixed which means that no matter how deep the layers of a given melody, the song never sounds muddied, the soundscape is spacious and broad, and individual elements have room to breath and shine on their own.  As a result, you can listen to the album over and over again, each time focusing on different elements and happily discover additional nuance.  If you couldn’t tell, let it be known now, I think very highly of this album.  You might want to buy a copy from Insound.

Menomena – TAOS
Menomena – Five Little Rooms

Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for that tantalizing poached salmon salad with horseradish dressing.

This post has moved to Turntable Kitchen!

Paperfangs are “a collective of three daydreamers scattered across Finland.  A brother, a sister and a friend.”  They are also recording some of the catchiest — most melodically infectious — dream pop you could ever hope to find.  Indeed, the output released thus far by this trio of Finnish daydreamers is hazily upbeat — reflectively sparkling like light from a puddle of water, and propelled forward with crisp, thin rhythms that shimmer in the distance.   Their latest release is a free digital single available from EardrumsPop.   If you like these tunes I strongly urge you to head over to their Soundcloud page to stream the track “Oh I Wandered.”

Paperfangs – The Fastest Planes
Paperfangs – Violet (Kiss Kiss Fantastic Cover)
Paperfangs – Books

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As my readers know, I’ve been in love with Memoryhouse at least since when we first posted their cover of Grizzly Bear’s ‘Foreground’ back in February that featured what I described as “soft acoustic guitar sparkl[ing] alongside a gently droning production and Denise’s lovely but affectless vocals.”  And although there is no question that I prefer their original material (“Bonfire” may be one of the best songs this year), their covers are pretty inspired too.  Well, they have unofficially/officially released another beautifully inspired cover — this time it is a live recording of My Bloody Valentine’s “When You Sleep” featuring Evan on piano.  The recording is from a performance that was recorded for Yours Truly at The Sub in San Francisco (which gets my vote for the coolest place in the city right now).  It is was a warm, intimate performance that I hold especially close to my heart as Yours Truly invited me to join them for the show.  Give it a listen below, and grab that Grizzly Bear cover if you missed it before.

Memoryhouse – When You Sleep (My Bloody Valentine Cover)
Memoryhouse – Foreground (Grizzly Bear cover)

Don’t forget to “heart” our songs on hypem if you like what you hear!

The lavender almonds that Kasey is featuring today on eating/sf are floral, flavorful and refreshingly unique.  They make me think of a light pre-dinner snack you might enjoy at an idyllic, rustic bistro found after a long drive into the countryside of Southern France.  For this reason, I believe this recipe pairs well with the band selected for today’s pairing: The Limiñanas.  The Limiñanas are a French band originating from Perpignan, France that cook up a sonically sexy stew of 1960’s Franco-cinematic scuzz-n-fuzz lined garage-rock.  As you listen to their self-titled debut, you’ll catch hints of surf rock, Serge Gainsbourg styled yé-yé, Stereolab, and the Velvet Underground all blended together in the disaffected croons and beatnik-vibed chords that the trio slink out of the melodies they’ve crafted for the albums’ dozen tracks.

Featuring cool, disaffected French vocals that are spoken as often as they are sung; seedy, rubbery bass lines that sound like they are up to no good (without appearing menacing); and go-go club inspired, hip-swaying rock ‘n roll rhythms enhanced by tambourines instead of hand-claps: it’s an undeniably French perspective on the surf and garage rock revival that has been steadily teased out of the American indie-scene in recent months.  That change in perspective combined with talented songwriting and solid musicianship makes the Limiñanas debut both refreshing and enjoyable — perfect for repeated listens. The album is officially released today, so go buy a cut of Limiñanas vinyl over at Insound.

The Limiñanas – Je ne suis pas trés drogué

Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for Kasey’s lavender almonds.