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Justin Townes Earle Lives The Good Life

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There are a lot of ways that you could say Justin Townes Earle resembles his father but, surprisingly enough, his stylistic delivery has no relevancy to such comparisons. Though his acoustical interpretations of country and folk are not exactly reflective of Steve Earle’s rootsier, more rock ‘n’ roll-oriented nature, the younger Earle encompasses the same form of distinctive talent, impressive artistic vision, and overwhelming personal obstacles that stood alongside his father when he broke out in 1986 with the classic Guitar Town. Steve is nicknamed “the hardcore troubadour” for good reason, with his rise to stardom being that of dramatic ups and downs. He certainly had his share of legal trouble during the ’90s, ending up in jail on separate charges involving drugs and firearms. Mix these legal issues with the fact that his releases during the same time were mediocre at best and you had a musician who mostly everyone regarded as a washout. Sure, he could have done the time, gotten out of jail, and become a complete recluse, but Earle clearly had the maturity to do otherwise. After kicking the habit in jail, he returned in 1995 with Train a Comin’, an album that many perceive to be Earle at his finest. The comeback album marked the first of many albums in the second stage of his career, as Earle continues to release admirably enjoyable material to this day.

For Justin Townes Earle, he has already experienced many of the the trials and tribulations that the music industry has to offer, even at the young age of 25. Becoming an avid fan of music at an early age due to his father’s rising fame, he saw first-hand how talent is only one factor in defining a successful artist. Commitment, responsibility, and even morality were philosophical attributes of revered importance, most of which his father did not implement into his lifestyle until he was out of prison in 1995. “My dad wasn’t around much growing up,” the younger Earle said. “And when I went to live with him in my early teens, he was on the road. But being in Nashville, where you have blue-collar working class and a middle class steeped in the music business, well, you see what you learn.” For Justin, the talent is undoubtedly there and comparable to his father’s, but this also means that he has had to face many of the same temptations. Like his father, Justin had a period where drugs reigned in his life to a disturbing extent. It even was so afflicting at one point that Justin was temporarily fired by his own father when touring with them as a guitarist and keyboardist. However, it appears that talent is not the only thing that Steve passed down to his son. Like his father, Justin Townes Earle has now kicked the habit and appears to be well on his way to becoming an individualistic songwriter whose acquired maturity has a bold way of speaking for itself.

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On his impressive solo debut album, The Good Life, it appears quite ironic that Earle was named after the legendary country-folk songwriter, Townes Van Zandt. Instead of linearly dwelling in the realm of one musical style, Earle follows in the footsteps of Van Zandt by simultaneously embracing both folk and country in a delivery that alternates comfortably without being overbearing. Though folk and country remain the most fixated genres at hand, Earle’s acceptance of both classic and modernistic production techniques makes for a listen that is both eclectically refreshing and nostalgically invigorating. In fact, when asked to describe his style of music, Earle likens himself to material that was even before his father’s time. “It’s not your daddy’s country — it’s your granddaddy’s country,” he states, clearly proud of the veteran folk-centric influences that many other songwriters his age do not even have the slightest familiarity for. Even more impressively, nearly half of the songs on The Good Life were allegedly written before Earle turned 18. The opener, “Hard Livin'”, is one of them, being an astute statement in itself that Earle has no problem writing an extremely catchy song. Like the majority of tracks on the album, an acoustic guitar is the most initially assuming instrument, but Earle shows his multi-instrumental prowess over an array of old-fashioned keys and steel-core strings that complements his fluidly captivating vocal delivery in impressive form.

While songs like “Hard Livin'”, “What Do You Do When You’re Lonesome?” and “The Good Life” provide for energetic examples of Earle’s infectious capabilities as , about half of The Good Life offers songs of a more somberly reflective nature. Such tracks also prove to show Earle at his most personal, especially in the concluding “Far Away in Another Town”. Showing both courage and genuine ardency, it depicts the emotional that one feels when they leave an environment and lifestyle that has stuck with them for 20 or so years. As Earle recalls, the song is representative of his battle against drugs when he was 21. “It was after my fifth overdose. I laid unconscious in a hospital room for seven days and then had a dealer deliver drugs to the hospital… just unclipped the tubing from the IV bag and shot them straight in.” It may be disturbing to think about, but Earle openly sharing his own personal weaknesses and how he overcame them is nothing short of extremely commendable. And on songs like the beautiful “Far Away in Another Town”, where the hushed strain of an organ accompanies the occasional licks of an electric guitar over Earle’s bleakly rousing vocals, Earle’s artistic vision is at its strongest. Music may run in his blood, but the stories that he tells and the emotions he expresses on the are unique to his own self. Alongside infectious tracks of a more instantaneously accessible nature, the candid fervor demonstrated on gems like “Far Away in Another Town” is what makes The Good Life a debut to look out for.

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Justin Townes Earle – Hard Livin’

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/jtearle-har.mp3%5D

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Justin Townes Earle – Far Away in Another Town

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/jtearle-far.mp3%5D

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Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/jtearle-goo.mp3%5D

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Obscure Sound: Best of March 2008

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In terms of style, March seemed to have it all. Whether you find yourself personally enamored with neo-psychedelia (Jim Noir, Fujifabric), throwback folk (The Tallest Man On Earth, Sera Cahoone), epic post-rock (Our Sleepless Forest), or straightforwardly infectious indie-rock (Hilotrons, The Pharmacy), I feel content in guaranteeing that this compilation will introduce to you at least a handful of enjoyable new artists who view style as a variable in the quest for success. Your taste would have to be admirably broad to fully enjoy all 15 artists, but I would be shocked if at least one does not fit your fancy. Oh yeah, spring is here, which also means that baseball is back. My embarrassing brackets suffered at the defeats of Georgetown and Duke and the crushing feeling leaves me even more ready to move on to the sport that I love most. Go Yankees.

01. Jim Noir – Happy Day Today (post)
02. Ane Brun – 10 Seconds (post)
03. Hilotrons – Deep River (post)
04. Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws – Let Me (post)
05. Fujifabric – Strawberry Shortcakes (post)
06. The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found (post)
07. The Pharmacy – Tropical Yeti (post)
08. Sera Cahoone – Runnin’ Your Way (post)
09. Hush the Many (Heed the Few) – Revolve (post)
10. Ghost Bees – Vampires of the West Coast (post)
11. Murder by Death – Comin’ Home (post)
12. Our Sleepless Forest – The Tinderbox (post)
13. Frightened Rabbit – The Modern Leper (post)
14. Micah Dalton – Looking For a New Way (post)
15. Sleepercar – A Broken Promise (post)


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Hush the Many (Heed the Few)

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The charm of a vocal duet can be dependent on a variety of things. Melody, pitch, and coordination are a few of the most basic aspects, but one that continues to be constantly dismissed by musicians and critics alike is the chemistry between the two respective vocalists. Sure, it may sound a bit corny, but no one has the desire to hear emotional inconsistencies and harmonic strain just because two people fail to see eye-to-eye on a musical level. Indie-pop has been a recent style where this vocal technique has flourished abundantly, with all of the genre’s subtleties and charms most often steered toward the most melodic components at work. Much like the forms of soul, R&B, and doo-wop that ushered in the style as a more full-fledged form in the ’50s, artists continue to show no hesitation toward simultaneously sharing vocal cues. The conventional instrumental focus found in the majority of indie-pop makes these vocal presentations a commonplace source for hooks, with even minimalist instrumental structures reaping benefits from doubly effective vocal deliveries. Still, discovering a modern artist that is able to expose the craft in flawless form is rare to do. When I heard Hush the Many (Heed the Few)‘s “Revolve”, I found it impossible to ignore the genuine chemistry between vocalists Alexandra Brown (the gal) and Nima (the guy). With the classic male-female counterpoint working to perfection, I was immediately hooked.

While their name may appear to be a bit confusing upon first glance, a second look clarifies that Hush the Many (Heed the Few) fits the band’s repertoire perfectly. Though they linger most in the generally conventional realm of indie-pop, glimmerings of eccentric folk collide with chamber-pop instrumentals to create a very amiable sound that often serves to be representative of Hush the Many (Heed the Few)’s supreme originality. Brown and Nima prove to be exceptional vocalists on all of Hush the Many’s available tracks; they have a very different delivery and pitch, but they manage to create vocal harmonies that intertwine exceptionally with one another. Nima also provides bits of guitar and Brown serves additionally as the bassist, with the rest of the (current) sextet being rounded out by guitarist Jonathan White, cellist Steph Patten, violist Ella, and drummer Velibor. However, if you plan on attending a few shows by Hush the Many (Heed the Few), do not be surprised to see a different backing band take the stage each time. Though Nima and Brown are mainstays, the other slots have alternated between dozens of different performers since the group’s formation in 2004. Hush the Many (Heed the Few) now find themselves singed to Alcopop! Records with a debut set to drop sometime later this year. They only have a handful of songs available online at the moment, but if the ability demonstrated on tracks like “Revolve” and “Storyend” are any indication, there are a lot of reasons to look forward to the debut.

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Like a number of aspiring acts and most of humanity alike, the beginning of Hush the Many (Heed the Few) was conceived in a bedroom; to be specific, it was Nima’s bedroom. In a creative burst that seemed nearly like a spur-of-the-moment thing, the group recorded their debut, Mind the Sprawl, in that very room. Cargo Records happened to hear it and, upon realizing its amazing potential, decided to distribute it. It later proved to be a good business decision, as all 1000 copies sold out relatively quickly. This immediate form of local success led to two headlining tours, a tour with Ed Harcourt, and appearances on radio programs sponsored by BBC Radio 1 and XFM. In addition to the Harcourt tour that he calls “a real privilege”, Nima considers the radio aspect of exposure to be vital toward the group’s apparent success thus far. “Our first radio session was with Radio 1, so that kind of got people interested in hearing us,” he said. “So through all these different forms of media and also the press we’ve had have been wonderful and people have really positively embraced us.” I hope to add another glowing review to the growing list of positive critical acclaim, as Hush the Many (Heed the Few) certainly have the talent to back it up.

As I previously mentioned, there is only a limited amount of music available online. Even so, the stylistic multifariousness represented on both studio and live recordings . That being said, I cannot wait to get my hands on a studio copy of “The Man”. Nima sings intensely over a bursting array of orchestral instrumentation, primarily aided by the constant flurry of strings. It is enjoyably infections and, even if Nima’s unique vocals provide for more varied comparisons, the orchestral-pop approach is slightly reminiscent of Owen Pallett’s work. If it sounds this fantastic when played live, I imagine the studio version will be quite astonishing. And as for the two tracks featured that were actually recorded in a studio (or a bedroom), they are crisper examples of the group’s melodic prowess.

As I mentioned all the way back in the first paragraph, “Revolve” is a very enjoyable track that seems poised to break the group out, even more so than selling 1000 copies. I would not be surprised if it finds substantial success throughout the blogosphere within the next few months, as it mixes both infectious indie-pop melodies with rich and vibrant duet-aided melodies that are commendably supplemented by impressive orchestral accompaniments. “Storyend” is a serene acoustical effort that once again sees Nima and Brown commit to an excellent vocal collaboration, backed by the subtle chirping of birds and the occasional whir of a synth pad. It is certainly the most subdued out of the three tracks, but “Storyend” has its own unique charm to it due to the exceptional atmosphere both Nima and Brown are able to mend from their vocal deliveries and fulfilling backing instrumentation. There is not yet a date for Hush the Many (Head the Few)’s full-length debut, but I will undoubtedly be keeping a watchful eye out for any news. Expressed in the fantastic quality of their current work, the sheer potential that this group exhibits in their songcraft is leaving me very impressed.

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Hush the Many (Heed the Few) – Revolve

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/hmany-rev.mp3%5D

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Hush the Many (Heed the Few) – Storyend

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/hmany-sto.mp3%5D

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Hush the Many (Heed the Few) – The Man (Live Orchestral Version)

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/hmany-man.mp3%5D

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Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws

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When I was 8 years old, my taste of music was generally limited to conventionally accessible acts in the vein of The Beatles, Radiohead, and Zeppelin. True, no one will deny the significance of any of those artists, but my taste had clearly not yet reached a level where people would respond with “who the hell is that?” after asking who my favorite new artists were. That being said, if an 8 year old trotted into their 2nd grade with a presentation assignment to share with the class their favorite artist, there is a chance that even teacher would be startled if the answer was someone like Tom Waits. Waits, as most of us know, is one of the most enigmatically successful songwriters of the past 30 years. Still though, how his ingenious lyrical intellect and blending of various – and often inaccessible – musical styles could capture the usually inattentive ears of an 8 year old is beyond me. Well, as it was easily apparent at an early age, Phoebe Killdeer had a natural tendency to stray outside the artistic norms. “Tom Waits got to me at the age of 8 and I’ve been a constant listener ever since,” the aspiring songwriter explains, effusively confident in her unconventionally fulfilling ways. It is easy to believe that songwriters are most efficiently groomed by stylistically analogous influences they discovered as a child. In Killdeer’s case, she was and still appears to be ahead of the pack.

Even before she became enamored with the individualistic audacities of Tom Waits, Killdeer also proved mature beyond her years when she expressed an interest in the choreography of dance. “I was fascinated with the relationship between movements and sounds and always felt that they communicated through a language I could understand,” she says. This sparked interest later prepared Killdeer for her current occupation as a talented songwriter with a potential that remains as high as the sky. Like Waits, she continues to disregard any stylistic norms in favor for her own tendencies. Is she a beatnik at heart? Sure, I guess you could call her that if the term fails to bother you, but Killdeer’s embrace of stylistic philosophies both old and new provides for an experience that is freshly stimulating. As for her influences apart from Waits, Killdeer believes that her most important influence derives from a broad level of sociology that we can all relate to. “People are my inspiration,” Killdeer says, referencing civilization as a whole instead of through specific individuals. “They are a never-ending source of emotions, feelings, reactions, disturbances, and surprises. If you sit long enough you will always catch a moment, just like a photographer who has caught a story, a thought in a snapshot.” For Killdeer, her first snapshot in the world of songwriting happens to be one of the most enjoyable debuts of 2008.

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Like many young artists looking to get their share of experience, Killdeer began her musical career collaborating with artists who had been around long enough to know a helpful thing or two about the industry. Basement Jaxx, Bang Gang, and Nouvelle Vague were a few of these names, with the latter providing a surreal experience for the young Killdeer. After contributing to Nouvelle Vague’s second album, Bande à Part, she participated in a world tour with the French duo, apparently lasting 3 years. Knowing Nouvelle Vague’s leading man, Marc Collin, also helped out to a large extent in the long run; he went on to produce Killdeer’s solo debut, Weather’s Coming. To be released on April 1st, it is truly one of the most impressive debuts of the year so far. “It dramatizes the elements I love most about our little world; people and what makes us so undeniably us,” Killdeer says. “I wanted the sound of the album to be dirty enough to represent the quirkiness of these characteristics, so with Marc Collin we got some crazy horns, ghostly vibraphones, edgy guitars, and tribal drums together to capture the necessary mood.” And after six weeks of working with producer Marc Collin and mixer Oz Fritz in the city of San Francisco, Killdeer realized just as much as her listeners that her debut has the capability to be something special.

Alongside an extremely capable backing band that goes by The Short Straws, Killdeer’s outstanding debut tackles a variety of genres that include hints of rockabilly, blues, and folk. With tinges of surf, punk, and even funk also being evident, her ability to write addictive pop songs with such underlying stylistic leanings is extremely impressive. With Killdeer’s seductively swanky vocals complementing her eclectic stylistic approach, it proves to be a lethal combo. The lush “Let Me” utilizes forms of folk, soul, and even Afro-pop as Killdeer breezily glides over a twinkling set of keys. The keys have the simple job of providing chordal whole notes, with the single-handed spur of percussion supplementing the rhythm. Separate keys in a deeper tone appear after each verse, establishing a hook that mainly relies on the melodic similarities to nostalgic soul-like ballads. “He’s Gone” sees Killdeer playing more with elements of R&B and vocal jazz; the brass section provides for a refreshing alternative to guitars and keys. And for kicks and giggles, many will find the brass to be particularly reminiscent of… Tom Waits, of course.

For vocal jazz, however, nothing on the album can come close to comparing to “Big Fight”. Killdeer vocally reflects the melodic arrangements of each brass instrument, providing a “bang!” for every note during the bridge. She whispers seductively and croons like a jazz bar veteran throughout the entire track, backed by a devastatingly infectious instrumental section; the music is compliments of the outstanding The Short Straws. “I Get Nervous” is one of the most devastatingly haunting tracks I have heard so far this year. An organ leads this minimalist gem as the reverb-soaked Killdeer asks, “Why can’t love be a little easier on me? Scratch me, pinch me,” before the brooding rush of guitars and percussion. Almond also provides outstanding production, using techniques of implementing orchestral elements into pop music somewhat similarly to Matthew Herbert. Even tracks in the vein of traditional Americana and rockabilly, like “Paranoia” and “How Far” respectively, bode well. However, it is in avant-garde gems like “I Get Nervous” and “Big Fight” providing the best examples of Killdeer’s outstanding songwriting, even if “Let Me” remains the most instantaneously infectious. If you fail to pick up Weather’s Coming on April Fools’ Day, the joke is simply is on you.

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Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws – Let Me

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/killdeer-let.mp3%5D

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Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws – Big Fight

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/killdeer-big.mp3%5D

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Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws – I Get Nervous

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/killdeer-ige.mp3%5D

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Ready Fire Aim Changes Nothing

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These days, it seems that anyone can call themselves an “artist”. With the internet and other forms of digital technology allowing for mass distribution of various art forms for little to no cost of production, it is not a difficult task for one to capture at least a handful of fans if the quality of one’s music, film, or illustration is commendable and it is promoted with modernistic sensibility. This creates very desirable circumstances for those who tend to classify themselves as eclectic artists, seemingly trying their hand at nearly every style of art imaginable. Sure, anyone can attempt to succeed gracefully, but actually doing so in all areas of music, film, and illustrative tasks is a rare feat that only a select few have the raw ability to accomplish. Though Sage Rader is far from being a recognizable name at this point, I imagine that those who look at his list of artistic accomplishments would not be surprised if he breaks out soon. Rader spent some time as an acclaimed poet (The Guardian called him the “Michael Moore of Poetry”, whatever that was meant to say), an actor (he was in “Beyond the Ocean”, a film nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize), and an illustrator (he published an illustrated confessional titled “Sex Drugs and Sunday School”). While these accomplishments are merely the markings of a young artist looking to try his hand at a variety of crafts, it simply goes to show that Rader’s great potential can be seen as something of a dying art in itself.

Following in the footsteps of Leonard Cohen or any number of poets or writer who successfully became great musicians in the process, Rader hopes that his most recent project finally finds him the success that he has openly yearned for. Calling it a recent project would be slightly erroneous though, as Rader has been refining his musical skill; since he was a young schoolboy in England. Violin was his first attempted instrument, later studying it at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He pushed aside his musical endeavors for a short time while pursuing other arts, but it came of little surprise when he found himself back where he started, with more skill and experience to boot. However, it was not until a meeting at an art show last year that Rader’s musical ambitions began to blossom yet again. He met Shaun “Stakka” Morris, a Brighton-based DJ and producer, and the two found each other holding similar intentions to their heart. To gauge his musical intentions, Morris gave Rader a copy of a Ror-Shak album, derived from the project Morris had been working on with DJ DB. “He did an interesting little sketch with violin over one of the tracks,” Morris said of Rader. “We stayed in contact, and he brought some tracks ‘round my studio that he’d been working on.” And thus, after sporadic stages of compiling and mixing, Ready Fire Aim was born.

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For several consecutive months after their first meeting, Rader and Morris continued to work together by swapping demos back and forth, eventually deciding on a sound that satisfied both their needs. Their first album, This Changes Nothing, eventually emerged and is scheduled for a May 27th release on Expansion Team Records. The result sounds like a hybrid of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and synth-rock revivalists in the vein of White Rose Movement and She Wants Revenge, both of whom capitalize on such aforementioned influences in order to produce a more accessible and danceable sound. Both Rader and Morris appear to split their work evenly, with Rader providing leading vocals and a few instruments while Morris tackles the bulk of the production aspects. “I’m a big fan of processing, even to the point of extremes,” Morris said. “I mean, when the mix was near completion, we were recording big chunks of the actual record back into samplers to mess around with it. It could be something simple at the end of a track, like a whole beat section sinking into a filter or going through a bit-cruncher — there’s some crazy stuff that can be had out of that. If you keep that processing mentality going, you can get to an interesting place.”

I will also go on to say this one thing: This Changes Nothing is not for everyone. Considering that the group takes its dues from a melodramatic style of synth-pop that dominated the ’80s, I expect to find a handful of critics bashing Ready Fire Aim for having an outdated sound . While originality is truly only found in Morris’ unique methods of production, it is simply the duo’s ability to write catchy pop songs that makes This Changes Nothing a worthwhile listen. Both Rader and Morris appear set to release “Wannabe Your” as the debuting single and – while I find it too generic – the simplistic hook is enjoyable enough to garner a substantial amount of radio play. It would actually be easiest to compare the track to an early effort from Collective Soul. Still, I find myself more attracted to tracks like “As If It Were That Easy”, a slow-tempo charmer that shows shades of Erasure as Rader reaches a falsetto that Andy Bell would grin in delight upon hearing. More brooding tracks in the vein of “Beautiful Thing” and “So Fine” remind me of early Depeche Mode; the simultaneous emphasis on both synth-pop and dance supplies a variety of commendable hooks, even if the lyrics happen to be overly cheesy at times. Showed best on “Beautiful Thing”, Rader and Morris have the ability to make the seamless transition from minimalist synth-pop (a single synth and drum loop) to grandiose depictions of dance with keys, guitars, and varying degrees of percussion on full display over Rader’s suitably ardent vocals. Sure, This Changes Nothing will not be hailed as a breathtaking achievement when it drops on May 27th, but a substantially sized niche will undoubtedly find solace in the duo’s nostalgic trends.

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Ready Fire Aim – Beautiful Thing

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/rfaim-bea.mp3%5D

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Ready Fire Aim – As If It Were That Easy

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/rfaim-asi.mp3%5D

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Ready Fire Aim – Wannabe Your

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/rfaim-wan.mp3%5D

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A Frightened Rabbit in a Midnight Organ Fight

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With acclaimed artists like Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, and Mogwai becoming highly reputable names over the past few years, even the youngest of indie-rock fans are beginning to recognize the Scottish town of Glasgow as arguably the most productive city for new and talented musicians. While one would be able to make a compelling argument for other cities being more active in relevance to music-related quantities or other financial matters, the music scene in Glasgow has always been recognized as ceaselessly exciting due to the sheer amount of stylistic variety. There are no forms of stereotypical rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, or country to be expected from the city’s most successful artists, but rather a smörgåsbord of different artists who achieve success from stylistic methods that differ dramatically from one another. Whether one prefers the epic post-rock of Mogwai, contemporary indie-rock in the vein of Franz Ferdinand and The Fratellis, or varied legends of their craft like Aztec Camera, Teenage Fanclub, and Orange Juice, Glasgow is a city where musical tastes are not a variable factor in an equation for artistic enjoyment; one will find some form of localized satisfaction regardless of their preferences, as the city offers a plethora of artists suited for a wide array of tastes.

Though Glasgow serves up plenty of artists who take their style from no geographical archetypes, Frightened Rabbit happen to be a band that American and British fans will have a difficult time differentiating from the form of indie-rock that they have grown accustomed to. I mean that mainly as a compliment too, as the four-piece sees substantial success from a generally accessible methods of successful indie-rock songwriting that rely on overlapping vocal melodies, driving guitar progressions, and steadfast rhythm sections in similar forms to that of western indie-rock staples like Modest Mouse, The Shins, and even the Arcade Fire when their early releases propelled them into a state of cult-like fanaticism. Like fellow Glasgow-based contemporaries Belle & Sebastian, Frightened Rabbits’ broad sense of ambition remains admirably prevalent, yet they allow enough room for such aforementioned classifications of indie-rock conventionalism too be classified more appropriately as independent futurists. Founding members Scott and Grant Hutchison probably meant for their craft to be delivered in such a familiarly comforting form as well, as the brothers have shown a noteworthy amount of potential since they formed the group in 2004. With Scott as a guitarist and Grant as a percussionist, the two originally began writing songs and preforming them for family members. Upon the urging of friends and family, they eventually decided to pursue the project full-time. Guitarist Billy Kennedy joined the group in 2006, with bassist Andy Monaghan making his debut with the band earlier this year.

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When Frightened Rabbits started work on their second album, The Midnight Organ Fight, the four members found themselves in a position that was quite unfamiliar to them. For the first time in their musical careers, they had others apart from their families and friends in Glasgow who recognized their talent. Because of their critically acclaimed debut, Sing the Greys, in 2006, Universal decided to pick up the album and re-release it in the U.S. and U.K. last year. Now, after playing at a variety of American shows and festivals like SXSW in a coinciding effort with their re-release, they have amassed an overseas audience that is very respectable for a band with merely one album. On an artistic standpoint, The Midnight Organ Fight also proves to be the first opportunity for the group to rework any of the minor flaws that dragged Sing the Greys down. Considering that it got in the hands of many people, they likely had plenty of critiques to work off of. Well, whichever method they chose to use, The Midnight Organ Fight is a significant step-up from their impressive debut. Produced by Peter Katis (he was behind the first two Interpol albums and the two most recent albums from The National), it represents an improvement upon both aspects of production and the songwriting.

The four members of Frightened Rabbit also consider The Midnight Organ Fight to be the most personal piece of art they have released. “This album [The Midnight Organ Fight] is a lot more intense than the first one. There’s a lot more blunt imagery,” Scott Hutchison said, alluding to the somber feelings of suicide, depression, and regret that lingers throughout the album. Still though, Scott considers optimism to be a proud component of his band’s lyrical output. “I always feel that no matter how morose the subject matter, there’s always a way that we – as a group – find of putting a positive slant on it, whether it be a depressing lyric put to a really pleasant melody or just a positive spin in the end. I hope people don’t feel depressed when they listen to our music.” With the abundance of hooks, fleeting melodies, and underlying instrumental additives, I doubt Scott has any reason to worry about listeners feeling down. Take the opening “The Modern Leper” for instance, an infectious tune whose success owes a significant amount to Hutchison’s distinctive Scottish accent. In stark contrast to Glasgow-based bands like Belle & Sebastian or The Jesus and Mary Chain, their accent is enjoyably evident and adds a uniquely enjoyable flavor to the result. Despite the lyrics foretelling the impact that ignorance has on societal limitations, melodic elements like Hutchison’s genuine yelp during the song’s bursting chorus can’t help but remind listeners that hope always has a chance of prevailing in the end. And on Frightened Rabbits’ gratifying Midnight Organ Fight, the sense of hope has turned simply into an element of great expectancy; instead of treading in unfamiliar waters, Frightened Rabbits’ newest effort commendably shows them as a band comfortable with their own stylistic delivery.

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Frightened Rabbit – The Modern Leper

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/frabbit-mod.mp3%5D

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Frightened Rabbit – Fast Blood

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/frabbit-fas.mp3%5D

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Frightened Rabbit – Head Rolls Off

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/frabbit-hea.mp3%5D

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