July 4, 2008

Free Range Music: Albert Hammond, Jr., Frightened Rabbit, Lithops

>> [PHOTO: Valérie Jodoin-Keaton] Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. in recent years has proven himself a more reliable purveyor of solid indie rock music than The Strokes themselves. This is unfair to the group, of course, which still struggles with meeting the insurmountable expectations set by its stunning 2001 debut. But Mr. Hammond's records sound unencumbered by such concerns and embrace and deploy a broader arsenal of textures and tones, and his forthcoming collection ¿Cómo Te Llama? may be his best yet. Highlights include the straight-ahead rock of "In My Room" and the airy guitar lullabye "Spooky Couch." The latter track rounds out with a kick-heavy drum beat that gives the proceedings the feel of an analogue analog to a B. Fleischmann track, and it is our favorite Hammond track to date. ¿Cómo Te Llama?, Hammond's sophomore effort, will be released Tuesday on RCA/Black Seal, and you can stream the entire set at his MySpace dojo right here. Hammond's solo debut Yours To Keep was released in 2006.

>> Selkirk, Scotland's finest Frightened Rabbit, fresh from rounding out a U.S. tour with final dates in Boston and Brooklyn, has posted a guest playlist to Imeem.com that you can stream right here. Better still is interspersed among the tracks is commentary from band fronter Scott Hutchison and "the rest of Frightened Rabbit, as they're known." The playlist itself is a bit surprising, as it includes selections from acts as wide-ranging as The Band ("Jawbone") and Portishead ("Machine Gun"). And perhaps a little more surprising is when Mr. Hutchison discusses shaving his crotch and going to a Sigur Ros show.

>> You know the big deal that was made about that fellow from DFA creating an exercise mix for Nike? Well, if we had our druthers we'd have farmed the job out to Jan St. Werner based on the strength of his skewed dancefloor/cardio machine banger "Rosa In A Light Speed Vessel." You know Mr. St. Werner's name because he is one half of veteran electronic music pacesetters Mouse On Mars, and you likely recall the duo collaborated with The Fall's Mark E. Smith for the brilliant Von Sudenfed project last year. "Rosa In A Light Speed Vessel," which is a product of St. Werner's Lithops project, smears a lot of slithery abstraction over top of a propulsive beat, giving you a lot to listen to on the treadmill if you feel like listening, and at the very least providing a crushing 4/4 to buoy you along the way. The track is from the set Mound Magnet pt. 2 - Elevations Above Sea Level, which was released in late May on Killer Pimp.

Lithops -- "Rosa In A Light Speed Vessel" -- Mound Magnet pt. 2 - Elevations Above Sea Level
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[buy the set from Killer Pimp right here]

>> While winnowing out -- or attempting to, anyway -- our inbox this morning we came across music from My Milky Way Arms, a shoegaze trio based in Houston. The act, about which there is fairly little useful biographical information, is currently touring the east coast of the United States to promote a self-titled EP. We streamed the thing this morning [link below] and found its five songs to be very engaging, melodic, swirly and distorted. There is most certainly some (orchestral period) Flaming Lips influence at work, as well as nods in the direction of vintage Mercury Rev and Slowdive. It is the big surprise of the weekend. Check out some MP3s below, and hit the band's MySpace domicile to see if they are coming to your town; The Milky Way Arms play Richmond, Virginia tonight.

The Milky Way Arms -- "Magneto (Aahhh!)" -- The Milky Way Arms EP
The Milky Way Arms -- "Unbearable Lightness Of Being" -- The Milky Way Arms EP
The Milky Way Arms -- "Sunshine" -- The Milky Way Arms EP
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[buy The Milky Way Arms EP from Milky Syndication here]
[stream the entire EP here]

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