New track – “Dead Rabbit Hopes” by The Shoe

The Shoe

Late last week, Jena Malone sent out (via Tumblr and Twitter) a link to a new song by The Shoe (her band with co-collaborator and improvisor Lem Jay Ignacio). The song, “Dead Rabbit Hopes” is a first look at the band’s new EP, coming out in late spring. And, upon listening, it seems to represent a pretty significant development for the band.

We’ve been following The Shoe for years. The Shoe has never been a celebrity vanity project (though you wouldn’t know that from the lazy print review I read in a magazine five years ago). The Shoe is a violon d’Ingres. The Shoe is a band. A band that had, up until now, always seemed to be built around the principles of portability and improvisation. (Perhaps you remember the song they sent us for Christmas a few years ago?) But “Dead Rabbit Hopes”, if it is any indication of what’s to come, is the work of a band taking a more measured approach. The result is still lo-fi, the lyrics still tinted with a touch of the surreal, but this is the work of a band who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their music (which, to be fair, is exactly what the tweet says). As opposed to their earlier EP, this is more reminiscent of Rose Dougall‘s earliest recordings post-Pipettes, or that first Parlours song I fell in love with all those years ago.

The new EP, apparently self-titled, will be released in the spring. No word yet on the format, or whether it will be released through Jena’s own label, There Was An Old Woman, which has handled almost everything up until now (The Bloodstains once had a 7-inch on another label), but I’ll be sure to find out as soon as I can.

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Welcome to the world of Dimbleby & Capper

Some people think this job is easy. It’s true that there are those entries that seem to write themselves and those writers who are perfectly content to bang out a post (read: cut and paste the press release) in 15 minutes. But I’ve never been one to do things the efficient way (in high school English, I was reading Fear and Trembling while my classmates read Ender’s Game). Likewise, I am always drawn to those artists who make my job more difficult—and I’ve been at a loss for words to describe Dimbleby & Capper for six months.

Trouble is, Dimbleby & Capper is a paradox. Never mind the fact that Dimbleby & Capper is actually one person (Laura Bettinson) or that she received heavy airplay from the likes of Huw Stephens very early on. What secured my devotion within the first 12 seconds of “Slick Maturity” was the seemingly perpetual quality of the music. It’s a sound so fresh and original, that it’s easy to assume that it’s just like something else. And with the recent explosion in popularity of female artists from Florence + the Machine to Marina and the Diamonds, it is inevitable that an act like D&C will be compared the same.

While it is true that Laura has worked with Marina and the Diamonds producer Liam Howe on one early track (“Beautiful but Boring”), it’s the self-produced lo-fi looped and layered tracks that make D&C so captivating. And while she and Florence Welch both rely heavily on pounding rhythms, Laura has deconstructed the jungle rhythms that struck fear into the heart of David Noebel to something far more dangerous than the quivering hips of Elvis Presley: an idea.

Of course, an artist who can, in the span of four songs, construct a sonic paradigm that sounds at once like everything and nothing you’ve ever heard (as is the case with the debut D&C EP, Slick Maturity) is bound to arouse high expectations in even the most cynical of critics. What I didn’t expect was the lasting effect a woman clad in fur and gaffer tape would have on the way I think about music (and a lot of other things).

If you aren’t already familiar with Laura and her music, now is the time to change that. Good thing we did that massive interview a while back. I’ll be posting excerpts over the next couple of days, but to get you started, you can download an mp3 of the non-EP single “Want This” (in exchange for an email address) and watch the official video below. It’ll give you a better idea just what we’re dealing with here.

It’s time you met Dimbleby & Capper. You never know, she could change your life.

You’re speaking my Love Language

from the MySpace

I have to admit, I’ve been lazy with my concert attendance over the last six weeks. Sunday night was no different. With the Rural Alberta Advantage playing at the Wexner Center, I spent most of the day convincing myself that I didn’t really need to go. My knowledge of The RAA (more on them later this week) was limited to two songs on their MySpace and a single YouTube video and I was flat out exhausted. For some reason, likely the early start time, I surrendered my $10 anyway. It was the best decision I have made in months. Because, Sunday night, I fell in Love.

For some reason, I had trouble finding any mention of who would be playing with The RAA, so you can imagine my surprise when, from the lobby as I entered (late, sadly), I heard strains of The Love Language, a band I had not only already heard of, but already liked. I had listened to their self-titled debut about 15 or 20 times back in February while it was streaming at RCRDLBL.com, but come the album’s release date, I was unable to track down down a copy and was eventually distracted from my pursuit. But I never forgot it. How could anyone forget the lo-fi hotness of the Love Language? The impassioned and ecstatic lead single “Lalita” (which you should be able to download here) secure this band’s reputation for years to come. Then there’s the intoxicating anthemic ballad “Manteo” and, oh yeah, every other song on the album.

So, yeah, the album is great and will likely finish high in my top 25 this year, but pair that with a live show explodes with so much energy that even a fat guy like me spends most of his time dancing (and I apologize to anyone who witnessed that). And while Stu McLamb’s vocals on the album are stellar, in live performance they propel him to whatever you call that level above rock star. And, where stage presene is concerned, it would not be out of line to apply that moniker to the whole band, but having spent several minutes talking with several of them following the show, I can say they certainly haven’t let it go to their heads.

Confession: the reason I haven’t attended a lot of concerts lately is that they can be unbelievably depressing. Regardless of my willingness to go anywhere just to hear good music, it is inevitable that I will encounter loads of hipsters and scenesters with their skinny jeans and skinnier girlfriends who seem to fill the hall with a sense that I just don’t belong there. Sunday night, I experienced nothing of the sort. I’m sure they were still there, yes, but from the moment I caught my first glimpse of The Love Language on stage, I could neither see nor feel anything else. I have not smiled so ridiculously much since I first saw Super Desserts six months ago. And here I am, once again, in Love.

In 1995, Dr. Gary Chapman published his book The Five Love Languages. There are tests and quizzes all over the internet to help a person identify his or her love language and I have friends who swear by them. I, personally, have never read any of the books or taken the quizzes, but whatever mine is, The Love Language are speaking it.

Follow An Indie Band Wednesday: The Best Day of the Week!

Hello and welcome to Follow An Indie Band Wednesday highlights!

First, some “housekeeping” that isn’t really housekeeping.  Tonight, Eric is too pissed to write (Do we listen to indie music because we are depressed, or are we depressed because we listen to indie music?  I don’t know, John Cusack, I just don’t know) so I am bringing you some fantastic bands to become obsessed with.  Also, if you listen to my mix from Monday now, even though it is Wednesday, I will not harass you about it next Monday.

Anyway, back to Follow An Indie Band Wednesday!  Last week, due to Malta Mayhem, we had to give up our routine and fill our day with Maltese music; today, we are back on Twitter listening to tons of free tracks and myspace pages of great indie bands, and there’s pretty much something for everyone!  You can check it out here, and if you don’t feel like blindly listening to everything posted or if you just really value our opinions (can’t blame you for that), here are some highlights:

We here at The Indie Handbook have multiple musical personalities, and while sometimes I just need some delicious girlie twee, I can be pretty badass.  And Transfer is for when I’m needing something badass.  I’m tempted to call them rockabilly, but that’d be way too extreme…they’re western rock with a bit of grunge.  I like the mellow feel of “Like a Feather” and the build on “A Bitter Pill,” so those are my recommendations for this fine Wednesday evening.  Also, the vox on “Sinking Sailing” remind me vaguely of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” which is always a good thing.  Transfer comes from San Diego, so if you’re a local, I suggest you go find them and be friends with them.  At the moment, I’m begging for an east coast tour…

Now for something completely different…The Aquamen, because all their songs are named after drinks!  But seriously, they are, but also seriously, you’ve been looking for your fun summer music, and I am giving it to you now.  Thank me.  Or better yet, thank the Aquamen.  You know that song “Tequila” where the only thing you do is dance around and then yell “Tequila” in the middle of it?  This is way better.  As San Francisco natives, these guys have learned to capture the beach in sound–it’s a tiny bit garage and a lot of sassy guitar, with very few lyrics, but you don’t care.    Think of a more drunken Ruby Suns.  The Aquamen are playing your quintessential surfing summer drinking tunes and you will listen to them and you will love them.

POPPOPHEADERAlright, I may have been seduced by his precious myspace page.  The adorable picture, the explanation that “Pop plays the six string while Pop plays the blues”…I’m just cute-ed out.  Maybe Pop Pop just started this project recently and joined myspace less than a month ago, maybe Pop Pop is what some people call their grandpas, I don’t care. The Indie Handbook is about what we like, and I like this, and you very well may like it as well.  It is lo-fi, acoustic, the lyrics are lovely, and Alex Thraikill has a voice bursting with character, almost reminiscent of The Mountain Goats.  It’s just so adorably likeable.   You can follow him on Twitter, too.

While you’re listening to Pop Pop, check out his friend Oberhofer.  This is why we like Follow An Indie Band Wednesday…everyone’s got friends!  Oberhofer’s wildness reminds me of the Born Ruffians…the vocals on “I Could Go,” for instance.  It’s very free, kind of dancey, and the lyrics are sassy, and as we all know, sassy lyrics (think Dear & The Headlights) are some of my favorite things in the world.  I could go on, but this post is taking me forever to write and I wish you would all just listen when I tell you to!!  And I’m telling you to!!

Thanks for reading and hopefully listening to our highlights!  This blog is worthless if you do zero listening.  Also, we want to emphasize again that we adore your comments and want to hear all your thoughts!  Seriously.  Just go for it, tangent in our comments.  We’ll love it (or at least I will, and it’s mostly my opinion that matters.  Eric just does badass interviews.)

Much love, my dear musical friends!