New Tunes Reviews, September 10: The Pixies, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, and more

If you were not lucky enough to secure a copy of Pixies EP1 last Tuesday when ordering was announced, you can listen to it now on Spotify. These 4 songs are the first in a series of EPs to be released in the next 15 months (via article in NYTimes).  “Andro Queen” sounds like a dreamy Flaming Lips-inspired song, while the other three tracks follow the typical Pixies’ quiet-loud-quiet formula. “Another Toe in the Ocean” does seem like a refined version of that equation. “Indie Cindy” and “What Goes Boom” are a great throwbacks, complete with Black Francis’s talk-singing. 

For fans of Sonic Youth and noise-rock, Body/Head‘s Coming Apart came out this week. The new project of Kim Gordon and Bill Nace is definitely for those like guitar noise albums.

UK garage-rock band Arctic Monkeys released a new album called AM this week.   With more harmonies and a crisper sound, this album does have some good songs. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” seems like the next logical step after 2007’s “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor.” But again, it sounds mature and toned down.  The club/barroom sentiment is still there.  As Franz Ferdinand’s latest album went more 80s-new-wave, this album continues with a more refined garage sound.  If you are a fan of bands like The Strokes, this album may be up your alley. 
Baltimore-based indie rock band Arboretum released Coming Out of the Fog. I saw them open for Band of Horses at Carnegie Hall in 2009 and was very impressed. Their new album feels very much like roots rock. It is worth a listen if you enjoy that genre and are looking for modern bands that do retro things.   
Another album for those who are in the mood for a more retro release, listen to Trombone Shorty‘s Say That To Say This.  Brass instruments are front and center on this great new album from New Orleans-based musician Troy Andrews and his band, Orleans Avenue.
Arcade Fire posted a song called “Reflektor,” from their forthcoming album. Based on this song it seems like the album, produced by James Murphy, will be more electronica-dancey than previous releases. Thoughts?  I like it especially the mix of French and English lyrics.WNYC posted a round-up of bloggers’ “knee-jerk” thoughts of the song, as well as links to the interactive and music video. 

Top 5: Soundtrack for a Vampire Obsessed Nation

It seems inappropriate to talk about anything non-Michael Jackson related these days, but I have watched enough tribute specials, heard enough “Billie Jean” on the radio, and even laughed at enough dead MJ jokes (“His heart just couldn’t beat it anymore…”) to know that there is no such thing as “too soon”.
Instead, I’d like to write about a trend that has been and continues to sweep the nation. Vampires. They’ve always been present in common folklore, but suddenly they’ve taken over the books we read, the movies we watch, and even HBO. Not only are these blood-lusting creatures, inexplicably sexy, but they’ve got indie cred too. Although the Twilight soundtrack surprised me with moments of goodness, Radiohead’s “15 Step” in particular, I can’t help but think that a few of these tracks may have also benefitted. Here are my favorite vampire songs for your listening pleasure, in between episodes of True Blood and Twilight novels, of course.
  • Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, “Vampires in Blue Dresses”mp3
It was with the help of this Indiana band that vampires found their way into chamber pop. With lyrics such as, “Your mother is a vampire/ She sucked your old man’s life away/ Turn everything off/ Just cover your neck/ Cause life is full of your regrets/ And I should be one,” and a drumbeat outro resembling an execution, this song is utterly appropriate.
  • Chad VanGaalen, “Red Hot Drops” mp3
If you have ever listened to a Chad VanGaalen song, or better yet, watched one of his animations (recommended) you know that just about everything he creates is eerie in the most terrific of ways. Check out his new album, Soft Airplane, and give this creepy ditty a listen. It reads like an vampiric meditational chant, calmly urging, “Sharpened teeth that dive deep into veins/ Slowly draining with no pain, sinking and drinking in a thick way.” It’s no wonder he creates everything in a hermit-like style, barely emerging from the privacy of his Calgary basement.
  •  Arctic Monkeys, “Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…” mp3
Who could forget the English breakout band from Myspace? The term “vampire” is used as an insult in this song, and it sure sounds like one through Alex Turner’s churlish Yorkshire accent as he snarls, “Cause all you people are vampires/ And all your stories are stale/ And though you pretend to stand by us/ I know you’re certain we’ll fail.”
  • Sufjan Stevens, “You Are The Blood” mp3
Although not quite about vampires, this song still fits the mold with the unearthly quality it possesses. Stevens turned this Castanets song into an odd anthem weaving in and out of genre’s all in the name of good will. The cover was released on Dark Was the Night, the compilation release for the Red Hot Organization, a charity dedicated towards HIV and AIDS awareness and research.
  • Radiohead, “We Suck Young Blood (Your Time Is Up)” mp3
Radiohead are the champions when it comes to producing hauntingly beautiful music. Thom Yorke poses questions in his trademark falsetto, crooning, “Are you sweet?/ Are you fresh?/ Are you strung up by the wrists?/ We want the young blood.” Whether it’s young blood or true blood, these days, it seems like everybody wants it.