I am Polar Bear

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Songs: Ohia - The Tigress

I first heard of Songs:Ohia with The Lioness. It's one of the darkest records I own, and also one of the strongest. It's my favourite Molina release, quite apart in his discography, as it hardly sounds like Neil Young. Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat contributed to the recordings, and you can feel the man's weight in those sticky organ lines, in the underlying tension that holds the record together. "The Tigress" is one of the most moving songs I've ever heard. If you know what he's talking about, you know what i mean.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dominique A - Le courage des oiseaux (live)

Dominique A is the greatest French songwriter. Nobody moves me like he does. Something happens, the choice of words, the tone, everything melts into a lead ball in my stomach. It will appear less obvious to people who don't understand French, but he is not someone to be passed by unnoticed. "Le courage des oiseaux" is his most popular song (that doesn't mean he's popular here, people have already have lots of Britney clones to deal with) and here is a live recording, from 2004's Live aux Bouffes du Nord DVD and the original studio recording, from 1992's La Fossette. Enjoy and expect more as Summer comes.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Tom Waits - Ol' 55

There's something special about Closing Time, Tom Waits' debut album. Something eerie and dead gorgeous, simple and terribly moving. Waits makes every song sound like it's his last. It's music by, for and about bums. "Ol'55" is a truckdriver's favourite.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Buck 65 - Pants on Fire

This Right Here is Buck 65 is a compilation of re-recorded tunes and new tracks and, surprisingly enough, Buck 65's strongest record to date. Gathering jewels from his whole discography and recording them with a rougher voice and his Talkin Honky Blues band was a brilliant idea, no matter why it happened, or who came up with it. "Pants on Fire" is one of these re-worked pieces, it was originally an exerpt from Buck 65's impressive Man Overboard, released by anticon in 2001. It's great.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Antony and the Johnsons - The Lake

The debut album by Antony and the Johnsons couldn't compare with the I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy ep released shortly after, just like I Am a Bird Now couldn't possibly live up to the expectations raised by the The Lake ep. "The Lake" is, along with "I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy", one of Antony's best song, minimalistic, gorgeous and impressively touching. If it doesn't work for you, you can give up on Antony.


Friday, March 25, 2005

The Dead Texan - Beatrice pt.2

The Dead Texan is the solo project of Adam Wiltzie, half of drone-guitar heroes Stars of the Lid. The Dead Texan, his debut album, sounds like louder, livelier Stars of the Lid -and if you have heard some of their records you know that "louder" doesn't really implies that it's loud. It's one of my favourite 2004 records, numb, moving and always rewarding.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Exploding Hearts - Throwaway Style

I don't like to get all wet eyed and stuff, but the death of the Exploding Hearts two years ago really saddened me. Guitar Romantic, their debut album -and the only legacy left- stands as one of the best pop/punk records ever released, full of positive punk energy and unstoppable pop hooks. "Throwaway Style" was and still is my favourite song from the record. Apart from cryptic people who happen to live in wells, i have yet to find someone who doesn't like it.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Envy - A Cradle of Arguments and Anxiousness

"Emocore" used to define (at least around here), angst, fury and noise (ie: Refused, Converge, Isis). Now it refers to white boys whining about how that chick Wendy is a bitch (ie: Dashboard Confessional). I don't know what happened. Envy is a japanese band, furious and tight. The japanese language suits their music very well, it's cold, brutal but also very affecting. "A Cradle of Arguments and Anxiousness" is my favourite Envy song, which can be found on All the Footprints You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead, one of the best records of a genre that got its name stolen, reissued on Mogwai's Rock Action last year. If they happen to play somewhere near you, i would most definitely recommend attending the show, but don't forget your ventolin.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Xiu Xiu - Apistat Commander

This is probably my favourite song, ever. An exerpt from A Promise, Xiu Xiu's demented sophomore lp, released in 2003. My guts curl back into my stomach when i listen to this song. It works brilliantly, half dramatic experimentation, half breathtaking pop. A song to die for.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Castanets - You Are the Blood

Castanets hail from San Diego, a city filled with haunting bands (Black Heart Procession, Pinback, Tristeza...), spanish ghosts and tons of reverb. Cathedral, the band's debut album, released last year of asthmatic kitty records, is the best folk record released in a long time, filled with broken drums, drunk saxophones, echoing guitars, all lost in thick smog. Raymond Raposa's voice and words are bare and delicate, fragile and confident. One of 2004's very best records.


Friday, March 18, 2005

The Futureheads - Hounds of Love

It took me quite a while to finally hear this record. It's angular post punk vs. catchy power pop, with vocal harmonies and plenty of hooks to bite. The Futureheads are british and they released an impressive, flawless record. Things like this hardly happen anymore.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Xinlisupreme - Fatal Sisters Opened Umbrella

Xinlisupreme is a very mysterious japanese band filled with cryptic japanese musicians. Their debut album, Tomorrow Never Comes, is a UFO, showing a band standing in a deserted battlefield formerly occupied by My Bloody Valentine, reverb-drenched 4ad acts and Atari Teenage Riot. "Fatal Sisters Opened Umbrella" is a perfect example of dramatic tension in contemporary music. Listen, and feel.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Fall - Blindness (Aug 12th 2004, Peel Session #24)

On this recording, part of The Fall's last Peel session, Mark E Smith sounds confident and threatening while his band sounds tight, unstoppable and high on speed. "Blindness" is the shortest 7 minutes song you've ever heard, urgent like a tracheotomia done on the sidewalk and definitely one of the highlights of the band's forthcoming Peel Sessions box-set. Fierce.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Arab Strap - New Birds (live)

Arab Strap was my favourite band and then I OD'd. This recording, out of the band's incredible Mad for Sadness 1999 live album is tight, powerful and gut-wrenching. You listen. One of these days i'll tell you more about these inebriated Scots.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

OP8 ft. Lisa Germano - If I Think of Love

OP8's Slush is a hell of a forgotten jewel. Giant Sand (that is, in 1997, Calexico and Howe Gelb) decide to start a series of records under the name "OP8." The plan is, for each release, to have a different artist play with them. For the first (and only) album they had slowcore/folk goddess Lisa Germano around. The result is my favourite record by Giant Sand, as well as my favourite record by Lisa Germano. "If I Think of Love" was originally released on Lisa Germano's Slide (another forgotten masterpiece) and i can't help but like this glorious version better. They had planned on having Clint Eastwood play the honkytonk man on a next OP8 record. His agent said : "no, thanks." I guess they never got over that.

op8_ft_lisa germano_-_if_i_think_of_love.mp3

Monday, March 07, 2005

(Smog) - I Break Horses (peel session)

Bill Callahan is the one of the few great American storytellers. Just listen to any of his records for sufficient proof. He has a new album coming out in May on Drag City titled "A River Ain't Too Much to Love."
The Peel Session recording of "I Break Horses" is my favourite Smog track, an arranged version of a naked b-side. It's Callahan's at his most mysogynous, and also at his most convincing.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Baby It's You

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's Owen Ashworth is often compared to a lo-fi clown, playing with toy keyboards, making funny, inconsequential music. Not a lot of people get the point: he's one of today's fiercest, most underrated songwriters. "Baby It's You" is an exerpt from 2002's Answering Machine Music. It's a song about vivid memories and regret, with unbelievably painful lines. It's massive keyboards chords and a sorry, deadpan voice depicting mistakes that it made and the weight of loss. One of the most affecting songs i've ever heard.

casiotone for the painfully alone - baby its you.mp3

Friday, March 04, 2005

Low - Starfire

Low's latest album, The Great Destroyer, is an impressive record, standing as one of 2005's most brilliant releases so far. It made me feel like listening to some of their previous records, turning the past two months into one foggy slow-motion picture. "Starfire" is an exerpt from 1999's awesome Secret Name and one of my very favourite songs right now.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Iron & Wine - Communion Cups and Someone's Coat

This is one of the best songs I've heard this year, simple and dead gorgeous, two minutes of pure bliss. It was released as a b-side on the "Passing Afternoon" single a couple of months ago.

iron and wine - communion cups and someones coat.mp3

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Matt Elliott - The Guilty Party

Third Eye Foundation frontman Matt Elliott just released his sophomore solo lp Drinking Songs on French label Ici d'ailleurs. "The Guilty Party" is the album's darkest piece, seven minutes, icy and grey like a February morning spent in front of a dim lit bathroom mirror. Funeral music for the living.

matt elliott - the guilty party.mp3

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Ten in the Swear Jar - King Earth

This is just brilliant. Jamie Stewart and Cory McCulloch's pre-Xiu Xiu project, an early version of Fag Patrol's "King Earth, King Earth", full-blown, bombastic and disarming. It was originally released on "Eat Death, Orphans!" a very limited ep, to be re-released by Asian Man records in August with the two other XITSJ eps on one cd titled "Caralee Just Sold Her Plasma to Pay Off Asmodeus".

ten in the swear jar - king earth.mp3