Thursday, January 15, 2009


The Oaks' bio is an interesting one; back in 2003 lead singer/guitarist Ryan Costello worked and lived for a humanitarian organisation in Afghanistan. The result is some impressionistic rock and roll that has a very subtle Middle Eastern influence. As the airy folk gives way to a two minute instrumental breakdown, it almost captures some of the anguish and joy of his experiences - even if you don't know the backstory

MP3: The Oaks - Masood

Okay so it looks and sounds Emo but bare with us. Supposedly rising from the debris of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans-based Oh, Juliet! are still very much an underground concern, and their sound is remarkably structured and polished considering their apparent inexperience.

MP3: Oh, Juliet! - Hunting The Canyon

Oliver Future will sound comfortably familiar to fans of acts like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and Clem Snide. Well it might have something do with the fact that they're all produced by Adam Lasus, but the Brookly five piece are quickly garnering acclaim for their own brand of left-field indie.

MP3: Oliver Future - Signing Off

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Best Of SXSW A-Z: "N"

A famous dead person once said "You can tell a lot about one by the company one keeps". Or something like that. Jason Chung, otherwise known as Nosaj Thing, has shared the stage with Flying Lotus, Daedelus, Architecture in Helsinki, DJ Krush, and many others. He recently won Turntable Lab's remix competition featuring MF DOOM. If you like any or all of the above mentioned bands, you're likely to enjoy Nosaj Thing's thing - squelchy electronica, with beats and blips.

MP3: Nosaj Thing - 1685

The Nouvellas are a new-soul group fronted by Jaime Kozyra and Leah Fishman, backed by a three-piece band, and all five are from the recently broken-up band Dansettes. Those with a keener ear will have heard Jaime & Leah contributing vocals to recordings of that other new-soul band of the year, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. If you like them, you'll be sure to like this.

MP3: The Nouvellas - Satisfied

Personally, I'm really glad that the music world seems past the infatuation it once had with acoustic singer/songwriters - I never got onto the Ben Harper/Jack Johnson bandwagon; at times, it seemed to me they were essentially one and the same. That said, Toronto's Justin Nozuka takes acoustic pop, adds soulful vocals and a catchy chorus, and comes up with something palatable. I guess that's a backhanded compliment, but it's a compliment nonetheless.

MP3: Justin Nozuka - Golden Train

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Well "M" was littered with great singer-songwriters, but the props really have to go to My Brightest Diamond, the alias for Shara Worden. Previously she honed her craft as a member of Sufjan Stevens' band, and if this ethereal cut is anything to go by, he's had a positive influence. Hers is a music of dreamy haze and layered harmonies given an edge by her lyrics and potent voice.

MP3: My Brightest Diamond - Disappear (String Quartet Version)

The band's moniker is a deceptive one, you'd hardly call this pop 'mini', dreamy perhaps, but it doesn't sound small. Minipop create wide-eyed vistas on which Tricia Kanne's airy vocals can waft and shine against, they sound a little Aussie to these ears - Ladyhawke comes to mind - which is no bad thing in our book.

MP3: Minipop - Like I Do

Noting that The Most Serene Republic are signed to Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts, home to Stars & Broken Social Scene, is a good place to start. They contain the same textured sound and rock orchestra elements of their label-mates: boy-girl vocals, wordy lyrics and an intriguing sound that rewards on repeat listens.

MP3: The Most Serene Republic - Present Of Future End