New album from Prisoners

Prisoners, "Fix Yer Head" (DOWNLOAD)
Prisoners, "Brain Drain" (DOWNLOAD)

So, Drew asked me to write about the new Prisoners album, Pass the Stone, & was even kind enough to send me a Mediafire link with a download of the album, which is a big change from him handing me a CD and asking me to burn 5 copies of it, which is why I actually have three different versions of this album on my computer, BUT ANYWAY, it's actually pretty hard/weird for my to write about it for a lot of reasons, including, but not limited to:
  1. The inevitable conflict of interest one enters into when they write about a project that their partner is involved in. (I worry that I will be either too nice as to avoid hurting feelings or too critical to prove that I'll say whatever I REALLY feel, even if my boyfriend is in the band.)
  2. The fact that I'm actually accustomed to writing complete and total gushing praise for indie pop and lo fi indie rock bands, and what Prisoners do is something pretty different.
  3. Also, thinking about writing about this album makes me feel like I'm really bad about writing about music.
So, that's my "full disclosure" list. All that aside, there are a lot of things that I really, really like about this album & two of those things are the first two songs, "Fix Yer Head" and "Brain Drain." In fact, I'd just as happily have accepted a 7" with just these two songs in place of an entire album (which is not to say that the album doesn't have any other good songs, it's really just that I like 7"s and have a relatively short attention span.) Honestly, it was an act of pretty good faith on Drew's part to even ask me to share my thoughts on Pass the Stone since my previous nuanced commentary of Prisoners has included such jams at, "It's so sad that you guys will never have a song as good as 'Freewheel' by Team Dresch."

Anyway, I think that part of what makes this album so interesting to me is that, over the last few months, I was really able to hear it develop. (You know, because every time they had a new set of mixes Drew would A) make me listen to it in the car and B) put it on my computer and burn copies so that other people in the band could listen to it.) The fact that I was able to hear these songs in various stages of development and sequenced in multiple ways really lends something to the experience of listening to the final product. In fact, the experience of watching the band in general grow, writing new songs, working to tighten up their live shows, etc. has helped me to reframe my own feelings about them (initial feelings: Does a band really need three guitars? Really?, present day feelings: It is sort of hard to imagine this band playing a show with only two dudes playing the guitar.)

The aforementioned "Fix Yer Head" and "Brain Drain" are both fantastic (and will be familiar to anyone who has seen Prisoners play a show in recent months), but aside from these two, the album's closing track, "Art Song," is probably my favorite (which is really saying something considering how frequently I complain about not liking slow songs.) The album also includes live show staples, "Boom Cha Cha," "Make You Cry," & "Street Creep," which are all all right songs (I know, I know, this is a really, really noncommittal statement -- I think talking about these "middle of the album" songs is where I really, really struggle, partially because of the overload of having heard these songs so many times & partially because, for me, some of these songs just don't "click.")

Prisoners have garnered a lot of comparisons to The Replacements in Cleveland's local music press -- something that Drew has whined to me about at length because he "just [doesn't] think [they] sound like The Replacements." I think that The Replacements comparison is an easy (and, to a degree, lazy) one to make, based largely on the fact that they wear flannel, have sloppy live shows, & feature a lead singer with a sometimes raspy sounding voice. I think there's also the fact that they're more or less a straight up rock and roll band with some garage and country influences at a time when there aren't many other young bands in Cleveland with a similar sound. I can see how comparing them to The Replacements might seem like a natural thing to do (especially when you hear the last 45 seconds of "Goner," which has undeniably Westerbergian elements.) Regardless of Drew's thoughts and feelings, I think that this comparison is one that's going to follow them for a long time.

I'm not going to lie, albums are all well and good, but I think that Prisoners' strength is really their live shows. They're honestly just a fun band to go see. I know I've seen them upwards of ten times this year & it's not just me -- I see a lot of the same people coming out for show after show. In fact, they have a show tonight with Wooly Bullies and The Prohibitionists at The Boo Box (1834 W. 45th in Ohio City).

If you can't make it out tonight, their album release show is December 30th at the Grog Shop with Cloud Nothings and Very Knees. Their new album will be available on cassette from Cylindrical Habitat Modules. (Their first album is still available on vinyl from Smog Veil.)

Prisoners, "Fix Yer Head" (DOWNLOAD)
Prisoners, "Brain Drain" (DOWNLOAD)

Brave Irene (New music feat. Rose Melberg!)

I am so excited about this!!! This morning I got an e-mail from Alexa (who, practically a lifetime ago, hosted some of my poorly made websites) saying, that she was sure I had already heard, but just in case I hadn't, Rose Melberg was releasing a new EP this February. I hadn't heard! I am thrilled!

According to this Exclaim article, Rose has been fronting an all-female five piece band, Brave Irene, since December of 2009. They'll be releasing a debut 8 song EP on Slumberland Records on February 15, 2010.

Midheaven Mailorder has reviewed the EP and based on their description I am super stoked to hear it!
Melberg’s latest project is the Vancouver-based Brave Irene. Formed in December 2009 around the core of Melberg and Caitlin Gilroy, Brave Irene is comprised of five best mates whose friendship and camaraderie shines through the warmth of these lovely recordings. Gilroy’s and Jessica Wilkin’s keyboards play a prominent role in Brave Irene’s songs, adding a slightly psychedelic vibe that slots in well with early Flying Nun releases and even some of the Los Angeles Paisley Underground scene.

Opener “No Fun” is a fuzzy gem that recalls New Zealand legends Look Blue Go Purple in its organ-driven folk / pop groove. The rhythms are really key here, with Laura Hatfield’s muscular drumming giving the songs a real oomph and momentum that perfectly complements their catchy-as-heck tunes. “Tangled Line” is an uptempo rocker that sports a unforgettable melody and droning organ lines. “Longest Day” continues where “No Fun” leaves off, the harmony vocals pushing the song forward. The EP wraps up with “Good Ideas” and “Campfire,” two more uptempo tunes full of great melodies, jangling guitars and those bubbling organs.
Brave Irene's EP will be available on 12" and CD on February 15th, 2010. According to Exclaim, the tracklist is as follows:

1. "No Fun"
2. "River to Sea"
3. "Tangled Line"
4. "Bank Holiday"
5. "Longest Day"
6. "Hit the Grass Running"
7. "Good Ideas"
8. "Campfire"

Brave Irene does has a MySpace, though there are no songs on it yet. (Hopefully as we get closer to February, the band will throw something up there.)

Though I've really enjoyed Rose's solo work, I'm very, very excited to hear that she's working with a full band again and hearing that this new release would fit well with early Flying Nun stuff has me even more excited. Thanks again to Alexa for so thoughtfully remembering how much I love Rose and sending this e-mail my way!

2010 in Review: 7"s

Slowly (but, hopefully, surely) I'm continuing with my 2010 year in review posts. Last week I wrote about my favorite albums of 2010, this time I'm working on 7"s. There are a few other posts I'd like to make before the end of the year (most listened to artists, albums, and songs, best shows, & maybe a post about the handful of releases that don't fit in either the 7" or the album category...) Anyway, here are my 10 favorite 7"s of 2010 presented in alphabetical order by artist.

Best Coast, Something in the Way (PPM, out of print)

I tried not to double up on these lists (i.e. if someone was on favorite albums, I tried not to put them on favorite 7"s as well), but I couldn't help it. As much as I love the glossy (at least, comparatively glossy) sound of Best Coast's debut album, there's a soft spot in my heart for the fuzzed out pop sounds of this 7". "Something in the Way" is great, but "Already Gone," a sorrowful, drone-y meditation on lost relationships is (for me) the standout track.

("The Road")

The Blanche Hudson Weekend, Hate is a Loaded Gun (Squirrel Records) BUY IT!

God I love The Blanche Hudson Weekend. Really, I do. The Blanche Hudson Weekend consistently releases some of the most amazing songs out there. It sounds cheesy, but you get the sense that they really craft their songs. Every track on Hate is a Loaded Gun is a perfect mix of layered guitars and echoing vocals. Hate is a Loaded Gun's dark title and stark cover art suggest a series of bleak songs, but "Let Me Go" is an uptempo tune with driving pop guitars and a beat that, at times, mimics hand claps. "So Sick" is a little darker, with a composition that actually mimics the feeling of having a pounding headache (at least, as someone who currently has a pounding headache, that's what it sounds like to me.) The EP's closing track, "Song for Kristen," finds the space between "Let Me Go" and "So Sick" and settles in perfectly. It's just amazing.

("Let Me Go")

Cloud Nothings, Didn't You (Old Flame Records) BUY IT!

2010 was a big year for Cleveland's Cloud Nothings. They released a handful of great 7"s, did a ton of touring, and recorded their second album (forthcoming on Carpark), their 2009 debut Turning On (originally released on Bridgetown Records) was reissued on Carpark and Whichita... But my favorite thing Cloud Nothings did in 2010 is the b-side of this 7". "Even if it Worked Out" is the perfect pop song. I first heard the band play it earlier this year at the Happy Dog. I was sitting down playing a game of Ms. Pac Man, turning around in between completing boards so that I could see the band. Everything about "Even if it Worked Out" is just right on. I can't wait to see/hear was Cloud Nothings does in 2011 and am stoked about attending what is (I believe) their last show of 2010 (at the Grog Shop with Prisoners and The Very Knees on December 30th) -- hopefully Jami will be there with me!

("Even if it Worked Out" (live))

Japandroids, Younger Us (Polyvinyl) BUY IT!

Japandroids are probably the bro-est music I listen to, excepting the hardcore punk of my teen years that I refuse to let go of. "Younger Us" is the ultimate youth anthem -- the opening line, "Remember when we had them on the run," conjures up every last late night, legs up on the dashboard and out the window while friends drove, walking along train tracks, spitting at dudes who catcalled us. It doesn't hurt that the b-side, a cover of X's "Sex and Dying in High Society," is totally solid, too.

("Younger Us")

Mirah, Don't! (Mississippi) BUY IT!

What would any list of mine be without something by Mirah? Though Mirah didn't have any new albums in 2010, she did release this stunner of a single. "Don't!" originally appeared on Ragazza Pop, a girl group inspired comp, & I had initially thought that this single was just a re-release of that version -- instead, Mirah re-recorded it with a slight country twang, mixed with girl group-esque backing vocals, and just a hint of horns and piano. It sounds fresh and perfect and Mirah's voice is clear as a bell. I sincerely hope that 2011 brings me another Mirah album because I could listen to a solid hour of songs that sound just list this.

("Don't!" (Ragazza Pop version))

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Say No To Love (Slumberland/Fortuna Pop) BUY IT! US and UK

My favorite thing about "Say No To Love" (aside from the moment in the impeccably crafted video where Peggy eats a soft pretzel) is the line where Kip sings, "with the parking lot kids, with the loneliest crowd." Those few words hit me with such intensity and such precision, calling up the most specific, beautiful, and dark teenage memories I can recall. This song is heartbreakingly gorgeous and the Pains' second album is high atop my list of things to look forward to in 2011.

("Say No to Love")

Seapony, Dreaming (Double Denim, out of print)

It's fitting that Seapony should follow the Pains in this alphabetical list since it was Kip's recommendation that motivated me to listen to them in the first place. Seapony makes some of the music that I like best -- jangly, poppy, "Hey, I could do this!" sort of music. Though I occasionally venture into something edgier or harder or more "advanced" sounding, it is this kind of simple pop that I am most grateful for, that really reminds me of why I collect records and why I occasionally get my guitar out and play the few simple chords my tiny hands can handle. Though this 7" is sold out all over the place, you can stream it here.


Sourpatch, Mira Mija (HHBTM) BUY IT!

Sourpatch is the perfect band and it's breaking my heart that I have yet to catch them live. (I'm not writing an entry about the biggest letdowns of 2010, but if I was, my boss denying my request for time off and preventing me from attending the Athens Pop Fest would DOMINATE LIKE NO OTHER.) Anyway, Crushin' (released last December) was one of my favorite albums of 2009 and for good reason -- it took everything I like, mixed it all up, and spit it back out in a perfect half hour. The Mira Mija 7" brings four new songs echoing (and, in some cases, advancing) the pure pop perfection that was Crushin'. "Sky is Falling" is probably my favorite track -- it starts out with a dark guitar riff that reminds me of something from Black Candy and quickly builds into a simple & beautiful love song built around incredibly simple lyrics and accented with moments of feedback.

("Deli Dream")

Sweater Girls, Pretty When You Smile (HHBTM) BUY IT!

I was late to the game as far as Sweater Girls are concerned & only started listening to them earlier this month thanks to Matthew from Skatterbrain Good god, what I've been missing out on! Finally, a band that perfectly occupies the space between All Girl Summer Fun Band and The Softies. I'm so glad that I gave Sweater Girls a chance prior to the end of the year so that they could assume their rightful place on this list!

("Pretty When You Smile" (live))

Weed Hounds, Beach Bummed (Iron Pier) BUY IT!

Weed Hounds consistently produce some of my favorite shoegaze-pop blends out there. The two songs on Beach Bummed continue right where last year's debut tape left off. The b-side, "Skating Away from the Cops" is hazy and winding, like a summer afternoon in suburbia. Something about Weed Hounds' songs feels rough, incomplete, not quite form, and in that absence of perfection: perfect. Beach Bummed happens to be the only Weed Hounds release with the privilege of still being in print & I'm not sure how long it will last, so snap a copy up while you can.

("Skating Away from the Cops")

2010 in Review: Albums

It's so hard for me to make end of the year posts. I know (without a doubt) that I will forget something, that I will misremember my relationship with an album, that something I will absolutely fall in love with will come out as soon as I "publish" my list, etc. Last year I did a post with my 10 favorite songs, 5 favorite albums, and 5 favorite shows of 2009. This year I'm going to start things off with my 10 favorite albums (UNRANKED, I cannot rank things!) and see how things go from there.

Allo Darlin, s/t (Fortuna Pop) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD and vinyl)

Allo Darlin topped my list of favorite songs last year with their single "Henry Rollins Don't Dance" and their full length album was probably one of my most anticipated albums of 2010. Thankfully it didn't disappoint! In fact, it probably exceeded my expectations. I don't know exactly what it is, but something about Allo Darlin just strikes a chord with me -- their lyrics are thoughtful, but never pretentious, their songs are catchy, and each one leads seamlessly into the next. The songs on Allo Darlin work well as songs but they work even better as a whole, coming together to assemble an album that works its way deep into your heart and stays there, keeping you young and sentimental.

Song That Caught Me By Surprise? Normally I don't like slow songs. In fact, I may or may not whine, "No slow songs!" any time Drew tries to listen to something slow in the car. Because of this, I didn't expect to develop any deep affinity for "Let's Go Swimming" & was more or less shocked when I found that it's one of the songs from Allo Darlin that's most likely to be stuck in my head at any given time.

(video for "My Heart is a Drummer")

Best Coast, Crazy for You (Mexican Summer) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD and vinyl)

So, I really have to give April credit for getting me into Best Coast. I wasn't a huge fan of Pocahaunted, so it's very likely that Best Coast would have flown right under my radar if she hadn't been actively championing their cause. Over the last year or so, I snapped up every Best Coast 7" I could find & fell in love with Bethany and Bobb's brand of sun drenched power chord driven pop ballads. I was worried that Crazy for You would be almost like a Best Coast Best Of, collecting their out of print 7"s, so I was stunned & surprised when they released an album that was almost 100% new material! "Goodbye" and "I Want To" are perfect pop songs -- they go as straight as an arrow right into the most teenage part of my heart, tapping into a sense of nostalgia that I didn't even know I had.

My favorite thing about this album? That it motivated me to start playing the guitar again.

(video for "Boyfriend")

Grass Widow, Past Time (Kill Rock Stars) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD, vinyl, and mp3)

Just like I owe April for Best Coast, I also owe her for Grass Widow. So much great music came out in 2010, but Grass Widow's Past Time was one of the first albums I heard in a long time that made me catch my breath and say, "Who is that and what are they doing?" Grass Widow is art and science. Listening to their music is like watching something come to life -- small sounds knit themselves together and unlikely words and phrases weave in and around each other and all of these elements come together in this beautiful, fragmented whole. Listening to a Grass Widow album is like getting the auditory equivalent of a micromosaic. I feel simultaneously overwhelmed and comforted by the mysteries of the universe.

Something weird that comes to mind when I listen to Past Time? About a million years ago, I remember seeing this animated show about kids who were enrolled in a mysterious academy where they were engaged in a series of duels that took place in an upside-down castle in the sky. The song that played as they were preparing to duel (an odd and frantic mix of pop, rock, and opera) comes to mind whenever I think of Grass Widow.

(video for "11 of Diamonds")

jj, jj n°3 (Sincerely Yours and Secretly Canadian) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD and vinyl)

You know? I really wasn't sure that I was going to put this album on this list, mainly because I was worried that people would think it was a bad pick. But you know what else? Nobody cares what I think, so why should I care what other people think? jj was one of the most disappointing live acts that Drew and I caught in 2010 & I know that experience totally ruined them for Drew, but I'm not gonna lie, I still really like jj. A lot of people panned this album when it came out & it does have a slow start, but there are some really, really gorgeous songs toward the middle/end of the album. Cleveland is literally enshrouded in snow today -- you can't see anything except this moving blanket of snow -- and it's perfect weather for listening to this album. I'm sitting at my desk with a mug of hot chocolate, a peppermint brownie, and "You Know" on the stereo and it just sounds/feels perfect.

If you still like jj in spite of their mega-bad live performances They have a new mixtape that will be dropping on Christmas eve!

(video for "Let Go")

Marnie Stern, s/t (Kill Rock Stars) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD, vinyl, and mp3)

I first got into Marnie Stern during my senior year of college. I was working in a data entry job for a non-profit. The work was mind numbing and there were days when Marnie's tapping was the only thing that could keep me going at my desk. I was so stoked when I heard that Marnie was going to have a new album and the more I heard about it, the better it sounded. Stylistically, this album is not a departure from Marnie's previous work, but there's something else happening here... There's an emotional undercurrent, a sense of immediacy -- I feel like on this album you get to hear Marnie as a person, not just as a guitarist. Maybe that's why this one is self titled?

Loving this album in spite of that bizarre Marnie Stern/Best Coast "feud."

(video for "Nothing Left")

No Joy, Ghost Blonde (Mexican Summer) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD, vinyl, and mp3)

There's a lot to love about No Joy's debut album. The first track, "Mediumship," is one of my favorite first songs on an album this year. I loved No Joy's first 7" on Mexican Summer and had been looking forward to their album for the last couple of months. Ghost Blonde is a dense swirl of guitars -- the albums ebbs and flows in terms of intensity, but it never stops being engaging. No Joy is definitely a band that I would love to have the opportunity to see live.

(video for "You Girls Smoke Cigarettes")

Robyn, Body Talk (Konichiwa) BUY IT HERE! (CD only)

The first CD single I ever owned was Robyn's "Show Me Love." The video was in heavy rotation when I was in the 5th grade and I vividly remember hanging out at my neighbor's house & watching video countdown shows so that I could hear & see Robyn. Much, much later, I saw the movie Fucking Åmål (notable not just for being a good movie, but for reminding me that "Show Me Love" existed), and even later, Robyn reinvented herself, ditching RCA & starting her own label. I feel like Body Talk seems almost out of place on this list, but seriously? It is so good! I mean, there are a dozen amazing songs on this album & I love it because listening to this record is like having my musical interests come full circle. Now, the kid I was like 15 years ago can connect with the person that I am now.

The only letdown? Robyn is coming to Cleveland and I would totally go, except she's playing at the House of Blues and I have a strict policy about not supporting chain venues in Cleveland. It's one of the few areas in my life where I can afford to "vote with my dollars." BUMMER.

(video for "Hang with Me")

Sleigh Bells, Treats (N.E.E.T.) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD and vinyl)

I spent a big portion of time (here on this blog) trying to decide whether or not I should write about the Sleigh Bells album. I mean, calling it "polarizing" makes it seem like a really big deal, but seriously? I feel like I spent a ton of time this year watching people bicker about whether or not the Sleigh Bells album was "good" or "interesting" or "gimmicky" or whatever. You know what? I really don't care. This album is full of jams! You know that Sweet Valley High book where Jessica Wakefield decides that she is sick of being a goody two shoes (which is sort of weird because it's not like Jessica was ever a particularly "good" person) and she dies her hair black and starts acting really bitchy? This album is that book! (Without a French accent.) Seriously, Sleigh Bells is the band that could have happened if Jessica Wakefield decided she wanted to adopt an edgy "musical" persona and stole the guitarist from The Droids (Sweet Valley's most popular and only band.)

What makes this album is The riffs! The riffs on this album fucking rule. Sometimes they're lifted from Funkadelic songs, sometimes they sound like they could have come from a lost Waitresses demo, sometimes you wonder if someone has replaced the lead guitar with some weird space guitar gun. RIFFS, PEOPLE. RIFFS.

(video for "Tell Em")

Surfer Blood, Astrocoast (Kanine) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD, vinyl, and mp3)

Astrocoast came out way back when in January -- it's almost like a distant memory. The songs still sound just as fresh, though. Surfer Blood came out of nowhere for me -- Drew mentioned offhand that he had heard something about them and that he wanted to hear their album & the next thing I knew, I was gushing all over the place about how good Astrocoast is. If jj was my surprise live act disappointment of 2010, Surfer Blood was my surprise live act "hey, they turned out quite well, didn't they?" They had a dynamic stage presence & seemed to honestly be having a great time playing their songs for an audience which is something that I feel like I sometimes don't see a whole lot of. I was shocked to hear that they'd signed to a major label (Warner Brothers), but it will be interesting to hear whatever comes from them next.

It was weird (but cool) to hear "Fast Jabroni" on last year's season finale of Community.

(video for "Swim")

Superchunk, Majesty Shredding (Merge) BUY IT HERE! (available on CD, vinyl, FLAC, and mp3)

It's no secret that I love Superchunk. I would probably put any old Superchunk album on my top ten list, whether or not I even liked it all that much, just out of solidarity with my love for Superchunk. In fact, I actually listened to Majesty Shredding twice before writing this just to make sure it's actually good & I'm not just looking at the world through Superchunk colored glasses. Fortunately, I am not delusional and Majesty Shredding really is an awesome album. Superchunk has been a constant for me for something like the past ten years & Majesty Shredding was a particularly exciting album for me because it was more or less the first "new" Superchunk album since I started listening to them.

In case you were wondering, the best thing about a new Superchunk album is that it's just as strong/good as an old Superchunk album.

(video for "My Gap Feels Weird" here -- embedding disabled)

A sampling of additional albums that could have been on this list...

Dum Dum Girls, I Will Be
Janelle Monáe, The ArchAndroid
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kevin Greenspon and Cloud Nothings, split CD
Let's Wrestle, In the Court of Wrestling Let's
Los Campesinos!, Romance is Boring
Tender Trap, Dansette Dansette
Wavves, King of the Beach
Wild Nothing, Gemini

Double Murder Suicide (Yes, Again)

Double Murder Suicide, lexlugersexmagik (DOWNLOAD)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an entry about lexlugersexmagik, a lo-fi concept album about wrestling that Drew brought home a mystery copy of. Josh (the mind behind said lo-fi concept album about wrestling) has since given me permission (via a very friendly blog comment) to upload the entire album here (thanks, Josh!) So, for those of you who read about lexlugersexmagik & were, perhaps, intrigued by what you read, you're welcome to download the entire album.

You can read some really thoughtful prose on Josh's work at Coke Machine Glow. You can read my not so nearly as thoughtful prose here.

Double Murder Suicide, lexlugersexmagik (DOWNLOAD)
I have been keeping these little post-it notes on my desk at work with reminders of things that I wanted to write about at great and extra-lengthy-length here, but the list just keeps getting longer and longer to the point where I am feeling not so much like "It will be fun to write about these things," but more like "Help me, help me, oh god, oh god." So here is my list, offered up with minimal commentary! I promise, I'll write more soon (I've been working on my end of year lists, so hopefully I'll actually get those done before, uh, the end of the year...)

Seapony (free EP + 7" on Double Denim Records) Seapony has been getting a lot of buzz lately & that buzz is well-deserved! Their free downloadable EP (available on their Bandcamp site) is a pop delight and so is their 7" (released on Double Denim Records.) Sadly, the 7" seems to be sold out (I snagged a copy from Rough Trade last week, but it looks like they're all gone now!), but you can still stream the 7" tracks here. I wouldn't be surprised if this was repressed (I also wouldn't imagine that it's too difficult to find mp3s online.) Seriously, though, if you're into Sourpatch or any number of great recent and classic pop groups, this won't be a disappointment.

Bad Banana Bad Banana's Crushfield demo is 10 songs of pop-ish, punk-ish nature written & performed by sisters Allison and Kate (who you may be familiar with by way of P.S. Eliot.) Their demo is up for free download and you can stream four of the demo tracks on Muxtape. On December 12th they're getting ready to hit the road with Sourpatch for a handful of east coast dates (Sourpatch will then head over to the UK and Bad Banana will continue touring the US.) You can view tour dates here.

Johnny Reb Okay, okay, I'm always talking about how I get these e-mails saying, "Listen to this!" and I am like, "Oh, okay," and then I don't and then months later, I think, "Well, maybe I'll give this a shot" and it turns out that it's something I would have really liked all along? Well, that happened again (surprise!) Johnny Reb has three tracks up for streaming on their MySpace along with relatively little information to accompany them. I don't really know who Johnny Reb is or if they have any official releases, but I do know that "When Were Spring" is an awesome song that I could listen to for quite awhile before burning out on it. Really, all three of the songs are quite good in a way that takes you by surprise in bits and pieces -- a lyric here, a guitar line there. I can sincerely say that I'm looking forward to hearing more. (You can read another write up of Johnny Reb on Brill Dream, who clearly responded to their press release in a much timelier fashion than I did. When will I learn?)

New 7" & video from Allo Darlin Allo Darlin's debut album was one of my top albums of 2010 (an entry with more on these "top albums" is likely forthcoming) and I have basically accepted the fact that I am just going to buckle down and buy every single single that this band releases. "My Heart is a Drummer" (a gorgeous Paul Simon-esque pop song) was one of my favorite tracks on their self titled album & it's just been released as a single on Fortuna Pop. You can pick up a copy direct from the label (to my knowledge, there aren't any US distros currently carrying this.) "My Heart is a Drummer" also recently got the video treatment -- you can check the video out here.

New 7" from Sweater Girls (& re-press of their first 7") Sweater Girls have a new single out on HHBTM (featuring great pop jams and adorable cover art by Leslie Dallion.) I'd heard a lot of buzz about Sweater Girls, but didn't give them a chance until recently (thanks to Matt from Skatterbrain.) I've ordered the new single from HHBTM along with the repress of their first 7". You can stream some Sweater Girls tracks on their MySpace.

New single from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart On December 14th Slumberland will release a new single from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The a-side, "Heart in Your Heartbreak" has been floating around on the internet for awhile, but the b-side, "The One", recently became available for free download via Fortuna Pop (which will release the single in the UK.) You can download it for free (you just need to supply an e-mail address) here.

New Blanche Hudson Weekend Release The Blanche Hudson Weekend was one of my top bands of 2010, so I'm so stoked to say that Squirrel Records has put together a CD compilation of their 7"s. Reverence, Severance, and Spite features tracks from The Blanche Hudson Weekend's 3 7"s along with a handful of new tracks and early demos. You can view a full tracklist and order direct from the label here. To my knowledge, there aren't any US distros that have this in stock, though Jigsaw Records does have the first 2 Blanche Hudson 7"s.

Broadcast One (Dandelion Radio Compilation) I always look forward to hearing from Odd Box about their new releases because they're either things that are right up my alley or they're things that challenge me & push me in new directions. Odd Box's latest compilation, Broadcast One, pays tribute to Dandelion Radio, an online radio station broadcasting in the tradition of John Peel and named after Peel's Dandelion Records label. Broadcast One features over an hour of music handpicked by Dandelion DJs (you can see a listing of who chose what song here.) You can pick up a copy of Broadcast One from Odd Box.

Odd Box Singles Club And speaking of Odd Box, they've sold out of the early bird edition of their singles club, but it's not too late to subscribe at the regular price. For (roughly) $56, you get 6 split singles featuring exclusive tracks from 12 different bands. I'm most excited about The Blanche Hudson Weekend and Bracelettes, but there's loads of great artists (you can view a full lineup and get more ordering information here.)

November Singles from EardrumpsPOP There's been another batch of free downloadable singles from EardrumsPOP. November offered new originals and covers from Insect Guide, Sometimes Always, and Baffin Island. These singles continue the series that EardrumsPOP began in October. I absolutely loved "Bats" from the Insect Guide single and "You Can All Hide" from the Sometimes Always single, both of these tracks are available to stream online on the EardrumsPOP site. Keep an ear out for new singles on the 10th and 20th of every month!