Give and take

I have two very special things for you tonight.

1. Music to pay for, pleeeease: As I told you the last time I posted (ages ago, as it always is), I am still on my sweet indie pop and folk kick (so thank you Neon Filler for the Sally Seltmann tip). This is the reason I am asking you, begging you, DEMANDING you to pre-order Jenny O’s The Home EP.  I’ve been listening to the few songs on Jenny O’s myspace over and over again for a couple of weeks and even tried desperately to find her first full-length album Love and Sleep ANYWHERE TO PURCHASE until I found that she hasn’t released it yet.  This is confusing, but I know you can follow–she has finished her first full-length album, hasn’t released it, and is instead focusing on the release of new music, The Home EP.  Here’s the deal, though.  The girl needs some money (like us!) to release this EP.  As of right this second, she’s 60% funded and has 2o days to go.  Can we make it happen?  I pre-ordered my copy.  She’s got awesome pledge opportunities, too–just pre-order the EP, or pre-order and get a mix CD, or pre-order get a mix CD and have her write you a song, you get the idea.  But!  Don’t just take my word for it.  Listen first.  And then once you’ve done that, you can jet on over to this lovely website to help Jenny O produce her precious music.

2. Music for freeeeeeee!: Sea Oleena is one of those things that just happens to you and you’re not really sure where it came from (it came from Canada, but I mean, how does one find such a thing?).  However, Sea Oleena is Charlotte Oline and her brother, and their album Smudges is currently a free download or stream on their website.  It reminds me of the Laura Gibson/Ethan Rose project, Bridge Carols, in its mix of old, new, altered, and manufactured sounds, but it’s a bit more accessible and acoustic.  Also, the vox are purer, I think.  As an album, Smudges has successfully achieved the “parts of a whole” effect, piecing each track together so the entire album flows like water into itself.

The very short description of Smudges on the Sea Oleena website says the album “is to be listened to as a sort of rough draft; a preliminary sketch to a beautiful portrait.”  This description is perfect.  The tracks are long, flowing, and minimalistic, as if the music just came pouring out in one long thought.  But it’s absolutely lovely.  I love rough drafts.  Brainstorms.  Stream of consciousness.  Jam sessions.  I almost always use the first, passionate thing I’ve written in favor of making lots of edits.  Is this lazy and foolish of me?  Well, yes, probably.  But there’s something so pure about the transition from the mind to the medium, and that purity is definitely found here in Smudges. The website says the tracks will be released at a later date.  Whether they are cleaned up and refined into a final draft, or whether Sea Oleena will release this “rough draft,” it is (and will be) beautiful.  Download or listen here.

Maltese Additions…

Although I generally eschew domestic responsibilities/activities of all sorts, there’s some housekeeping to be done before I begin my “actual” post tonight.

1. Gee whiz, Eric and I sure do love to write about music, y’all!  Is it because we’re terribly pretentious and dreadfully pompous people?  No, sillies!  Reference our About Us section to sweeten our sarcasm with sincerity.

2. If you read our About Us section and can still stomach us, be our fans.  For realz.

3. Also, as much as we love love love writing, our day jobs sometimes get in the way of us doing all we would like to do (and knowing all we would like to know).  We value your knowledge, and also your writing abilities.  Send us guest submissions at the.indie.handbook@gmail.com — we are great editors, promise!

Now, onto this evening’s post.

Well, the great thing about having weeks dedicated to music of other countries (re: Dutch Week, Malta Mayhem…) is that often, we’ll hear back from musicians and music lovers in those countries with glorious recommendations,  picking up what we have missed.

So, although Malta Mayhem is over and done, it lives on in our hearts and our ears!  And I have two more bands to share with you, thanks to a lovely email from a Maltese music connoisseur extraordinaire.  Yes, I did make that title up myself. The first is a band I had previously considered reviewing…but Brikkuni beat them out.  Maybe only because Brikkuni’s myspace page is better-looking, I’m not sure.  Packed with interesting sounds and instruments, Hunter’s Palace must be named experimental.  With such an emphasis on guitar motifs and a percussive feel, melody definitely isn’t the main focus here.  Hunter’s Palace achieves something very similar to what Sigur Ros achieves, but through very different means–atmosphere; the listener can’t be half-hearted, as they must immerse themselves in the musical experience or they probably won’t be very interested in what’s going on.  This may or may not be what my grandma calls “noise.”

To be quite honest, I don’t really listen to much electronic music; it isn’t really my style.  I’m more indie-folk, I think.  But when I heard Mathematikal (and passed them on to my little sister, who is into some electronic music, and by that I mean, she really likes Crystal Castles), I agreed that they were definitely worth mentioning and experiencing on our little indie blog here.  They’re electrosynth all the way, with plenty of beats and changes and voice distortions to go around.  I asked my sister whether she got an 80’s vibe from it, because I kind of do, but she doesn’t–she said she gets a strobe lights vibe.  I’m not sure what that means, but I’m gonna go with it.  If you check out their myspace, I especially recommend “The Mathematimix,” which reminds me of Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds at some points (and to me is a good thing, soooo is Eric going to kick me off the blog for that?), and in the middle, there’s a little Michael Jackson remix (I’m still in mourning).  I also really enjoy PonyPonyRunRun_HeyYouRMX–the beat, the layers, and the vox are a pretty awesome combo.

Well folks, if you were still yearning for a bit more from Malta, here you go!  If nothing else, these two great bands are a bit different from mine and Eric’s usual taste, which you better not be sick of yet, and so isn’t it always nice to have something fresh and exciting?  Answer: yes.  Enjoy!

It’s a landslide nation

Among certain circles who think along these lines, Jena Malone is the perfect woman. And while I confess I have never seen any of her movies, I have seen her on Craig Ferguson and I was beginning to see their side of things. Then I found out that she is a musician. Then I heard her music. Then I saw the face of God and I died.

OK, OK, so Jena’s music (along with Lem Jay Ignacio, of course) did not exactly result in an encounter with the divine (or the Divine, for that matter) and the last check of my vitals confirmed that I am, in fact, very much alive. I can’t even promise you that there are actual circles that consider Jena to be perfect (they tend to be more elliptical). But I can assure you that, of all the movie-star-turned-singer-side-projects, this is the most ambitious and least pretentious. It is also one of the best (on par, I think, with Go-Getter co-star Zooey Deschanel’s work with M Ward if completely different).

In the past, her music has been performed with Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains, but now she works with Lem Jay Ignacio (“Lem Jay Ignacio: playing water love, wurly and hand claps. Jena Malone: playing with fire always”) as The Shoe. From what I understand, “the shoe” itself essentially amounts to a steamer trunk full of keyboards, processors, mixers, pedals, a guitar, and various other buttony things I wouldn’t know the first thing about using, ready to be plopped down on a street corner at a moment’s notice for an impromptu concert, which, I think, is sort of the point.

If you’re not lucky enough to find yourself on one of these street corners or dive bars, then I suggest you head over to MySpace and listen to the Shoe and the Bloodstains while you’re at it. I love the rant at the end of “Landslide Nation” and Raccoon, but there is a special place in my heart for “freestylechuckp’s radio show”, not only because of the David Byrne and Suicide Girl references, the use of the word “fictionary”, or the fact that it may actually be freestyle number 46,700, but also because she coins what could very well become our motto: “I’d know what is indie if it hit me”. Suddenly, I feel vindicated.

This is one band I would love to have on our Christmas album. I think they would do something truly incredible.

And, if you want even more electrified-pseudo-anti-folksy-bang for your buck, head over to therewasanoldwomanrecords.com and explore. There are even more tracks available there. They’ve got a YouTube channel, too. This video is my favorite, even if it isn’t exactly from the album.

[Apparently, I am not allowed to embed the video, so you will have to click here, or here, or here.]

Pien Feith, In A Cabin With…how do you say “part four” in Dutch?

I freaking love the Netherlands!  What a fantastic week this week is–every day I have like 17 more reasons to love the Dutch and to love life!  I have hope for tomorrow!  I am reflecting on my childhood trip to Dutch Wonderland with such nostalgia (oh, the Amish!)!

I am so with Eric when he talks about the incestuous streak running through The Indie Handbook.  Except hold on to your belt buckles kids, because this incestuous streak is not just running through The Indie Handbook–oh no, it also seems to be running through the Dutch music scene itself!

Before listening to The Very Sexuals ( I know we keep harassing you, but you don’t know what you’re missing, just download it!), I was listening to Pien Feith on myspace and loving her.  She has an album called The Wilderness Sound which came out in 2007 on Badmintone records, and you can find three of those songs on her myspace, a couple more on her personal website, and the rest on itunes.  Her sound is pretty experimental, and I’ll bet you ten bucks you can’t tell where each song is going–but not in a bad way!  No, she’s honed her craft, and she knows how to do experimental music in a way that makes sense and is accessible without compromising her talent.  GENIUS.  You may hear a bit of Cat Power or Fiona Apple (especially “Extraordinary Machine”) in her voice and style, and some of her songs even remind me a bit of Bloc Party.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little beat poet influence in there somewhere…a little Allen Ginsberg in her lyrics and flow.

But!  While I was listening to Pien Feith, I noticed that she has been a part of some other collaborations–most relevant to our previous posts, she is a member of The Very Sexuals!  Eric also mentioned NEONBELLE in his first Dutch Week post, another band of which Pien Feith is proud to be a member.  And!  With NEONBELLE, she is a part of the In A Cabin With international recording project.  More on NEONBELLE later from one or both of us, but I have got to tell you about the In A Cabin With project and why it has made me love Dutch people even more.  In one short paragraph.  Because this is getting long and I am getting distracted.

Basically, the In A Cabin With international recording project is where this recording studio in Netherlands called The Green Motel decided hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we invited some musicians to cabins in awesome locations to have jam sessions and record incredible music?  [Answer, in case they were looking for one, or in case you are: HECK YES THAT WOULD BE COOL]  So they did–they tried to create collaborations between local musicians and Dutch musicians, many of which had never worked together before, and the result has been several full length albums.  Now this is what I call art.  What a fantastic concept!  I also love that all of these are available for free download on the In A Cabin With website.  Since I’ve been listening to Pien Feith and The Very Sexuals, I’m going to recommend the In A Cabin With NEONBELLE, but why not check them all out? Best part: they aren’t done!

Thank you, the Netherlands, for rocking all of us like a hurricane, and showing us what art can be.  I love you.

Here is a video of the In A Cabin With in Tonatico Mexico (featuring artist Stan Diego):

IN A CABIN WITH in Tonatico Mexico | February 2009 from inacabinwith on Vimeo.