January 11, 2010

Today's Hotness: CNC, Van Gumby, Portastatic

[PHOTO CREDIT: Zuzia Skoczek] >> As our 2003 trashing of the debut by poptrash audioporn puppets T.A.T.U. suggests, we are interested in learning about music scenes in non-English-speaking countries. So we were eager to listen to Polish shoegaze duo CNC when we received a pitch from their organization late last year announcing the November release of the new EP No Mood. The band casts itself as "shoegaze psych-pop" (its MySpace blurb charmingly promises "same f*cking riff again"), and we suppose that is a pretty apt description, although we hear elements of straight guitar pop in "Magenta Ants" and even Darla Records-styled ambient trip-hop (Junior Varsity KM, Sweet Trip) in the icy gleam of the droning title track. About CNC we know little. The act is comprised of Borys Dejnarowicz (also a principal behind CNC's label Draw Records) and Piotr Maciejewski, and we're told its music isn't typical of what is going on in Polish popular music (since they are a shoegaze band, this does not surprise us, after all, where is shoegaze typical?). Typical or not, we think there are more than enough sparkling moments to warrant recommending to your attention No Mood. CNC has permitted us to offer a teaser, so we are posting below the title track.

CNC -- "No Mood" -- No Mood
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[buy No Mood from one of these various outlets 1, 2, 3, 4]

>> On the day that we read of Gumby creator Art Clokey's death, we received our second email missive from Florida-based indie pop quartet Van Gumby. Odd coincidence. We had been mildly intrigued by Van Gumby's prior release "Mostly Chimp," but had doubts as to whether the home-spun-sounding production effectively presented the combo's music. Van Gumby's new EP She Has Arrived is a sonic step forward, and the four songs clearly benefit from clearer production. The title track, written in London in 2008, is a mid-tempo strummer appointed with a surf guitar lead that will fit nicely into your picnic playlist once warmer weather arrives (it is 21 degrees fahrenheit in Cambridge, Mass., as we type this). The second track "Astrogirl" is an acoustic ballad with tons of phaser on the vocal. The phaser is a little distracting, but the Oberst-y vocal, synth and melodica make up for it. The highlight of the four tunes is "Seasons Go" (co-written by band fronter Spencer Tricker and Shomik Chakrabarti) which recreates the chiming electric guitar lead over acoustic strumming that underpinned the title track, but with more insistent pacing and a weary vibe that reminds us of some of our favorite Okay Paddy tracks (Van Gumby cites Teenage Fanclub, Stone Roses and Blur as influences on this latest collection). You can stream the entire She Has Arrived EP at the Van Gumby Bandcamp page right here, at which page you may also purchase tracks for a price of your choosing. Van Gumby has graciously allowed us to offer "Seasons Go," so have a listen.

Van Gumby -- "Seasons Go" -- She Has Arrived EP
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[download/purchase Van Gumby releases here]

>> While we expect you have seen this file all over the Interzizzles by now, we couldn't ignore the fact that Portastatic has released a free download of its cover of Destroyer's amazing "Foam Hands." The original was one of our top songs of 2008. Merge Records is selling the track as part of Portastatic's Make It Sound In Tune digital-only covers EP, the proceeds of which will go to benefit certain charities selected by subscribers to the SCORE! subscription service.

Portastatic -- "Foam Hands" -- Make It Sound In Tune EP
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[purchase various Portastatic musics right here]

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