A murderous MacGuffin in Efterklang’s “The Ghost” video

Efterklang: PiramidaEfterklang: Piramida (4AD, 9/25/12)

Having recorded Piramida in a ghost town, its perhaps unsurprising that one of the tracks on Efterklang‘s fourth album was entitled “The Ghost.” A droning composition with bells, brass, and an echoing percussive background, it’s reminiscent of some of the more ambient work of groups like Underworld and Radiohead, which is to say that it’s unique and beautiful.

ALARM's 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

ALARM’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.


Review: Efterklang’s Piramida

Efterklang: PiramidaEfterklang: Piramida (4AD, 9/25/12)


Efterklang: “Apples”

Efterklang can hear dead people, or so it seems. Perhaps that’s why the Danish post-rock ensemble visited Pyramiden — a ghost town on the Arctic Norwegian island of Spitsbergen — to create its new album of similar name.

At the abandoned Russian settlement, its members wandered a landscape of streams and mountains, recording the sounds of seabirds, footfall, and rushing wind. In the studio, they added the ethereal vocals of a choir and the chime-like peals of a glass-bottle collection. Whether or not these sounds are messages from another realm, they summon haunting melodies and shiver-inducing rhythms. It makes perfect sense, considering that “efterklang” means remembrance and reverberation.

David Byrne & St. Vincent

Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent’s Love This Giant

David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This GiantDavid Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant (4AD, 9/11/12)


David Byrne & St. Vincent: “Who”

David Byrne has one of the most recognizable voices in music, ranking somewhere between Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe. No doubt this is why everyone wants the former Talking Heads front-man to guest on their records. Dirty ProjectorsArcade Fire, Jherek Bischoff — they’ve all taken advantage of the static friction of that back-of-the-mouth tenor.

But Love This Giant, Byrne’s collaboration with St. Vincent, a woman who’s known more for her multi-instrumentalist abilities than her voice, is the first full-length he’s co-written with anyone other than Brian Eno.


The Groove Seeker: Tune-Yards’ Whokill

The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

Tune-Yards: Whokill (4AD, 4/19/11)

Tune-Yards: “Bizness”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/06-Bizness.mp3|titles=tUnE-yArDs: “Bizness”]

If you’ve ever seen Merill GarbusTune-Yards play live, you understand how resourceful and creative a musician she is. With a ragtag set of drums and ukulele close at hand, Garbus builds her songs from scratch by live-looping repetitive drum and vocal patterns. Crafty to say the least, her performances are a multitasking puzzle of pedal stepping and vocal-scat arranging, revealing compositions and melodies that are spontaneous but clearly logical.

As Tune-Yards, Garbus surprised many with a gem of a debut in 2009. That record, Bird-Brains, thrives on the same weirdness and DIY attitude that make Garbus’ live shows so enjoyable. Not only were the songs recorded using a freeware program, but the folk-inspired experiments are packed with field recordings, Dictaphone samples, and intermittent elements of R&B and hip hop, all loosely fastened down by Garbus’ versatile Afro-pop-influenced vocals.

Whokill, Garbus’ second album under the case-sensitive moniker (generally stylized as tUnE-yArDs), sees her trading in the Dictaphone for some full-blown studio time. Tracked and mixed by Eli Crews (producer for Deerhoof and Why?), with co-writing credits going to bassist Nate Brenner (Beep), the record shows definite growth from those lo-fi-recording days. Thankfully, a bit of studio polish doesn’t take away her charm and musical wit.  If anything, the new approach gives her avant-garde pop the right venue in which to be properly heard.

Landlocked Music

Behind the Counter: Landlocked Music (Bloomington, IN)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

Landlocked Music in Bloomington, Indiana has been around since 2006 and has since proved to be a staple in the small college town. The store has hosted a number of notable in-store performances and curates a collection of music to satisfy almost any taste. With its fifth anniversary coming up in March of 2011, we spoke with Landlocked c0-owner Jason Nickey and got the inside scoop on one of the Midwest’s top record stores. A message to any straightforward rock-‘n’-roll bands from Bloomington: get in touch with Nickey; he doesn’t believe that you exist.

What was your motivation for starting a music store? / What is your background in music?

I had no choice, really. It’s the only thing I’m fully qualified to do; I’m otherwise unemployable. All I ever did at any other job I ever had was talk to people about music and records and try to discover new stuff I hadn’t heard yet. So it was probably inevitable. Also, at a certain point, when you’ve acquired a certain quantity of recorded music, it’s the next logical move.

I worked in record stores all through college, and I’ve worked a bit on the distribution side of things, as well as some writing for magazines, websites, etc., and deejaying at college and then community radio. All of those experiences have come into play to some degree. Also, finding a partner was key. It would be near impossible to do this alone. I’m sort of the behind-the-counter guy; my partner is the marketing/social-networking guy, broadly speaking.

Jason Nickey holds the Flamin' Groovies' Shake Some Action
Jason Nickey holds the Flamin' Groovies' Shake Some Action

The Breeders Announce Tour, Ready for Album

The BreedersThe Breeders, the on-and-off project from Pixies bassist Kim Deal and her twin sister Kelley, have announced dates on the 4AD website for their tour in support of their coming April release, Mountain Battles. After an appearance at Coachella and a handful of West Coast dates, the group will make their way across the country to the East Coast. The Breeders will also be offering a single not available in the U.S., featuring “We’re Gonna Rise” (previously found for .2 seconds on their Myspace page) and “German Demonstration” — a preview of the linguistic endeavors on the new album.