Cool News: Over the Rhine Concoct Harebrained Scheme to Fund New Album!

Looks like Over the Rhine is gearing up for recording a new album in the next few months. They’ve released their last few records on their own label, Great Speckled Dog, but this time around they are looking to partner with their (completely obsessive in a good way) fans in order to fund the album up front. You can get the details by going here, but the short of it is that if you can shell out, oh, $2,500, you can get credit for producing the record in executive fashion! BAD-ASS!!!

You can also pay a lot less and still get some pretty cool stuff, but this is the first time I’ve heard of something like this, and I have to say, daggonit, I think it’s a totally cool idea. No matter what you think, a new Over the Rhine LP is a worthy cause, so get on over and donate your kids’ futures!

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Real Estate: s/t LP (2009)

Real Estate
Real Estate
Woodsist; 2009

My Rating: 95/100

As a kid, I never stepped foot on a beach north of Cumberland Island, Georgia. I was a complete southern surf snob, and to this day I find myself cringing at the thought of putting my bare feet onto oceanside territory north of Myrtle Beach. Jersey shores? I would have said a big “no way” even a year ago, but having had the opportunity to bask in the warm, slow sunrise of Jersey’s own Real Estate for the last few months, I might just learn to see the Garden State’s beaches in a different light. Real Estate is neck and neck with The Low Anthem for my favorite breakthrough act of 2009, and the more time I spend with their eponymous debut, the more these beach kings seem fit to ascend. At first, Real Estate rubs off like any given garage act recorded on a ceiling-suspended vocal mic, with a few gobs of vaseline slathered on for maximum haze. But for all the amateurism apparent in the recording quality, this record achieves the same lo-fi grandeur that Pavement achieved with Slanted & Enchanted, resulting in a magical, misty band-next-door aura shot through with melody and wit. The album wins because the songs themselves are gorgeous and perfect. The chattery, twin guitar interplay of Mathew Mondanile and Martin Courtney dwells on the winsome side of the Marquee Moon, and Etienne Duguay’s understated percussion shepherds the tracks into dreamland. It’s hard to identify standouts because this is an incredibly consistent record, but I’d to say my top three are “Beach Comber”, “Green River”, and “Suburban Beverage.” Overall, this is a record brimming with nostalgia and good vibrations, as true to the beach life as you can get. It also might be the last classic debut LP of the decade now past, but for what its worth, I think it makes the case that Real Estate’s best days lay ahead of us.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (5/5)

Tracks:

1. Beach Comber (5/5)
2. Pool Swimmers (5/5)
3. Suburban Dogs (5/5)
4. Black Lake (5/5)
5. Atlantic City (5/5)
6. Fake Blues (5/5)
7. Green River (5/5)
8. Suburban Beverage (5/5)
9. Let’s Rock the Beach (5/5)
10. Snow Day (5/5)

Second Story Man: Screaming Secrets (2010)

Second Story Man
Screaming Secrets
Noise Pollution; 2010

My Rating: 69/100

Tragically under-recognized Louisville band delivers a solid third full-length…

Having grown up in Louisville, I’m astonished to say that while I have known of Second Story Man for years now, their third long player SCREAMING SECRETS is my first full length exposure to the band. I’m not really sure why. As a 90’s scene kid, I was a fan of the members’ work in bands like Itch House and The Flats, but for whatever reason, Second Story Man have managed to hover just below the national radar for 12 years now. While they have toured occasionally with the likes of Shipping News and Sebadoh, they have otherwise contented themselves with churning out apparently masterful noise pop records whenever the mood strikes them. So unfortunately, I can’t really speak to Second Story Man’s growth as a band, but I can attest to the fact that this is a marvelous record that will most likely go tragically under-recognized. SECRETS succeeds by finding a Beatles-esque middle way between the ultra-dynamic river city indie of hometown greats like Slint and Rodan and the scrappy indie pop of early 90’s Chapel Hill bands like Superchunk and Polvo. While opener “The Want Within the Need” and A-side closer “Traffic Jams” attest that the band can rock at full-power, I find myself continually drawn to the lilting and lush “Quietly” and the pastoral acousti-pop of “Suicide Dream.” Elsewhere, the dissonance of “Flies” recalls Murray Street-era Sonic Youth, and “The Mav” best exemplifies the band’s powerful dual vocal approach. Given the overall quality of SCREAMING SECRETS, I’ll definitely search out the band’s back catalog. Having grown into this record over the last few months, I can entusiastically say that it’s high time the world get to know Second Story Man.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)


Tracks:

1. The Want Within the Need (4.5/5)
2. Clocks (4.5/5)
3. OompaLoompa (4/5)
4. Quietly (5/5)
5. Traffic Jams (4/5)
6. Flies (3.5/5)
7. The Mav (4/5)
8. Floor Falls Out (3/5)
9. Suicide Dream (4.5/5)
10. Bottom Line (3.5/5)

START WITH: Quietly, The Mav, The Want Within the Need

Dawn Landes: Fireproof (2007)

Dawn Landes
Fireproof; 2007
Fun Machine Music
My Rating: 77/100
Dawn Landes’ dreamy urbanicana draws from the same Kentucky well as My Morning Jacket’s debut. FIREPROOF, her second full-length, shows the kind of restraint and melodic prowess common to artists like Feist, M. Ward, or Kings of Convenience. Still, unlike her sometimes-cohorts Hem, Landes’ outlook is infused with an off-beat humor and sleepy-eyed optimism that, on first listen, churns imperceptibly below the surface. Give the straight-laced groove of “Bodyguard” a second listen, though, and you’ll soon feel the joy. Landes shines brightest in simplicity. The simple strums and harmonies of “Tired of this Life” are playfully modest, and the afore-mentioned “Bodyguard” sounds like the rhythm was hammered out during recess twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the album sags dramatically in the middle, with novel excursions like “Picture Show” and the unbalanced and awkward “Kids in a Play.” But Landes saves the best for last, closing with a run of four brilliant tracks, including the angelic sway of “Dig Me a Hole” and the last dance of “I’m in Love with the Night.” Bonus points to Landes for her hushed and intimate take on Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down”, sneaking it in a few minutes after the star-crossed romance of “You Alone.” FIREPROOF proves that Landes is a big talent, someone with a unique and alluring vision. I expect we’ll be hearing from her for years to come.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Tracks:
1. Bodyguard (5/5)
2. I Don’t Need No Man (4/5)
3. Tired of this Life (5/5)
4. Twilight (4.5/5)
5. Private Little Hell (4/5)
6. Picture Show (3.5/5)
7. Kids in a Play (3/5)
8. Toy Piano (4/5)
9. Dig Me a Hole (5/5)
10. I’m in Love with the Night (5/5)
11. Goodnight Lover (5/5)
12. You Alone (5/5)

Dawn_Landes___FireproofDawn Landes
Fireproof; 2007
Fun Machine Music

My Rating: 77/100

Dawn Landes’ dreamy urbanicana draws from the same Kentucky well as My Morning Jacket’s debut. FIREPROOF, her second full-length, shows the kind of restraint and melodic prowess common to artists like Feist, M. Ward, or Kings of Convenience. Still, unlike her sometimes-cohorts Hem, Landes’ outlook is infused with an off-beat humor and sleepy-eyed optimism that, on first listen, churns imperceptibly below the surface. Give the straight-laced groove of “Bodyguard” a second listen, though, and you’ll soon feel the joy. Landes shines brightest in simplicity. The simple strums and harmonies of “Tired of this Life” are playfully modest, and the afore-mentioned “Bodyguard” sounds like the rhythm was hammered out during recess twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the album sags dramatically in the middle, with novel excursions like “Picture Show” and the unbalanced and awkward “Kids in a Play.” But Landes saves the best for last, closing with a run of four brilliant tracks, including the angelic sway of “Dig Me a Hole” and the last dance of “I’m in Love with the Night.” Bonus points to Landes for her hushed and intimate take on Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down”, sneaking it in a few minutes after the star-crossed romance of “You Alone.” FIREPROOF proves that Landes is a big talent, someone with a unique and alluring vision. I expect we’ll be hearing from her for years to come.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)

Tracks:

1. Bodyguard (5/5)
2. I Don’t Need No Man (4/5)
3. Tired of this Life (5/5)
4. Twilight (4.5/5)
5. Private Little Hell (4/5)
6. Picture Show (3.5/5)
7. Kids in a Play (3/5)
8. Toy Piano (4/5)
9. Dig Me a Hole (5/5)
10. I’m in Love with the Night (5/5)
11. Goodnight Lover (5/5)
12. You Alone (5/5)

Jeremy Enigk: OK Bear (2009)

OkbearJeremy Enigk
OK Bear; 2009
Lewis Hollow Recordings
My Rating: 86/100
Void of pretense, full of wonder…
OK BEAR is quite possibly the most sincere record you will hear the indie side of CCM. It is also proof positive that Jeremy Enigk is a songwriter that we
can expect great things from for years to come. Enigk is one of only a few artists to transcend the hyper-hipsterism and slacker-than-thou mentality of the
indie scene and deliver fantastic music that is entirely void of pretense and cynicism and completely brimming with joy and wonder. In fact, OK BEAR might
just be Enigk’s purest statement of his own artistic vision. Apparently taking its overarching theme from the tension between child-like wonder and adultist
realism, the twelve tracks herein, like the kid on the cover, serve as guardians for a “magic world” that Enigk’s imagination seems to inhabit.
Stylistically, Enigk continues to play to his strongest suits, with the classic Sunny Day Real Estate track “Guitar and Video Games” being the obvious
touchstone for the album’s sound. This is a truly inspiring record. In a world where EMO tends to be a bad word representing an overwrought obsession with
self, Enigk takes the trappings of the genre he helped define and rather uses it to elevate the listener.  I can’t wait to see what’s next, and I hope I can
catch him live at some point.
COHESION (5/5)
CONSISTENCY (4.5/5)
CONCEPT (5/5)
CONSEQUENCE (4/5)
Tracks:
1. Mind Idea (5/5)
2. Late of Camera (5/5)
3. April Storm (5/5)
4. Life’s Too Short (4/5)
5. Just a State of Mind (4/5)
6. In a Look (5/5)
7. Sandwich Time (3.5/5)
8. Same Side Imaginary (5/5)
9. Restart (5/5)
10. Make Believe (4/5)
11. Vale Oso (5/5)
12. Snt Feliu de Guixols (5/5)

OkbearJeremy Enigk
OK Bear; 2009
Lewis Hollow Recordings

My Rating: 86/100

Void of pretense, full of wonder…

OK BEAR is quite possibly the most sincere record you will hear the indie side of CCM. It is also proof positive that Jeremy Enigk is a songwriter that we can expect great things from for years to come. Enigk is one of only a few artists to transcend the hyper-hipsterism and slacker-than-thou mentality of the indie scene and deliver fantastic music that is entirely void of pretense and cynicism and completely brimming with joy and wonder. In fact, OK BEAR might just be Enigk’s purest statement of his own artistic vision. Apparently taking its overarching theme from the tension between child-like wonder and adultist realism, the twelve tracks herein, like the kid on the cover, serve as guardians for a “magic world” that Enigk’s imagination seems to inhabit. Stylistically, Enigk continues to play to his strongest suits, with the classic Sunny Day Real Estate track “Guitar and Video Games” being the obvious touchstone for the album’s sound. This is a truly inspiring record. In a world where EMO tends to be a bad word representing an overwrought obsession with self, Enigk takes the trappings of the genre he helped define and rather uses it to elevate the listener.  I can’t wait to see what’s next, and I hope I can catch him live at some point.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)

Tracks:

1. Mind Idea (5/5)
2. Late of Camera (5/5)
3. April Storm (5/5)
4. Life’s Too Short (4/5)
5. Just a State of Mind (4/5)
6. In a Look (5/5)
7. Sandwich Time (3.5/5)
8. Same Side Imaginary (5/5)
9. Restart (5/5)
10. Make Believe (4/5)
11. Vale Oso (5/5)
12. Snt Feliu de Guixols (5/5)