A music blog, established 2010. My name is Chris Cappello and I'm a Yale student from New Haven, Connecticut.

"Porcelain Raft"
Saturday, March 10, 2012

Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 3/9/12

Last night’s broadcast of Left of the Dial on WNHU was my first time doing my radio show in three weeks! It felt good to be back. On the show last night I played a lot of new stuff by artists such as The Men, Arcade Fire, and Bruce Springsteen. I also played some new music from Cheap Girls, whom I saw live the night before in New Haven. Check out some photos from that show HERE. Additionally, I played one of my favorite tracks from Love At The Bottom of the Sea, the new record from The Magnetic Fields. I reviewed that album HERE

Here’s the full playlist, complete with youtube links to each song whenever I could find them. Thanks for tuning in!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stream: Lewis and his Blog February 2012 Mix

I’m posting this a little late because the past few days have been extremely busy for me. Last night was particularly cool; I played a show in New Haven with some other local acts at my friend’s apartment and it had a pretty great turnout. Anyway, this is the second installment in a monthly mix series that I started in January for this blog. The goal is to recap some of the best new music that I’ve covered on here in the past month. Each mix features 10 tracks. Feel free to stream the mix HERE on my 8tracks page, where you can also listen to last month’s mix

Lewis and his Blog // February 2012 Mix

1. The Magnetic Fields - “Andrew In Drag”

On March 6th, Stephin Merritt’s long-running project The Magnetic Fields will release their highly anticipated new album Love At The Bottom Of The Sea, which, among other things, marks their first use of synthesizers on a record since 2004’s i. The bouncy “Andrew In Drag” was the first track to be released in advance of the album, and if it’s any indication of how the record as a whole will sound, then I look forward to falling in love with Love At The Bottom Of The Sea. This track is vintage Merritt — ironic, catchy, and unabashedly gay — and I love every second of it. Pre-order the new record from Merge Records HERE.

2. Porcelain Raft - “Drifting In And Out”

Porcelain Raft's new record Strange Weekend wowed me a lot when I first heard it, but it hasn’t held up too well with subsequent listens. Still, I can’t seem to get the opening track “Drifting In And Out” out of my head. If you’ve been paying any sort of attention to indie electronic music trends over the past few years, you’re sure to be familiar with at least some aspects of Porcelain Raft’s sound. If you haven’t, then Strange Weekend should be a good introduction. Purchase the album now from Secretly Canadian Records

3. Grimes - “Oblivion”

The best description I’ve heard of Grimes' music is that it sounds like the singing of Greek Sirens. Even if you approach it with this knowledge in mind, you still can't help but get sucked in until the pixie-voiced Claire Boucher has you in her hyper-melodic musical grasp. “Oblivion” is one of the best tracks from her new record Visions, a delightfully twisted synth pop record with a lot more heart and spirit than most of the similar albums I’ve heard from the past year. Like the album as a whole, “Oblivion” is messy and certainly flawed, with a looping synth bass line that constantly straddles the line between working and falling off, but such flaws only make the realization that it won’t get out of your head more fascinating. 

4. Burial - “Loner”

"Loner" may not be the best track from British dubstep producer Burial's new EP Kindred, but it is the most immediate. From the eerie vocal sample that introduces it ("There is something out there…..") to when those vaulting synthesizer arpeggios come in around the 1:30 mark and never seem to leave for any sustained period of time, “Loner” conveys that creepy, walking alone in the city at 3 AM mood even better than anything on Burial’s 2007 full length Untrue. Now we just need another full length. Until then, the Kindred EP is out now on Hyperdub

5. The Saddest Landscape - “This Heals Nothing”

I was a fan of The Saddest Landscape before seeing them live last weekend, but I don’t think I realized just how great they were until that show. In particular, I’ve come to appreciate their new record After The Lights quite a bit, largely due to their performance of this track “This Heals Nothing.” I firmly believe that it’s the best song on the record now, and certainly the most emotionally charged. Andy Maddox’s vocals are the highlight here, and his use of militaristic lyrical imagery is seriously chilling. It all comes to a head at the very end with a shouted repetition of the song’s title. It’s powerful stuff. Hopefully I’ll get to see them again soon, when they officially release After The Lights at The Space in Hamden on March 18th. The album is available for purchase now from Topshelf Records

6. Ceremony - “Quarantine”

If it hasn’t already, Ceremony's new LP Zoo is sure to piss off some hardcore purists when it comes out on March 6th. If you want to see why, look no further than this track “Quarantine,” one of my favorites from the album. Instead of staying true to the raging hardcore punk style of their previous releases, Ceremony adopts a sort of lackadaisical Replacements-style slacker swagger. I’m not sure if the stylistic change is meant to be a “fuck you!” to 80s hardcore purists or if it’s just a genuine representation of what they want to sound like now, but I’m all for it either way. Zoo is out now on Matador Records

7. Matt Elliott - “Dust Flesh and Bones”

As far as I’m concerned, Matt Elliott's masterfully-constructed The Broken Man is an early contender for the most interesting folk record of the year. With a lush classical guitar as the instrumental foundation, Elliott layers eerie choir sounds, strings, and subtle ambient inflections onto his music, along with his own distinctive baritone vocals. But The Broken Man is not just aesthetically beautiful; it’s also incredibly moving. Perhaps no other track on the record cuts as deep as “Dust Flesh and Bones,” on which Elliott proclaims, “This is how it feels to be alone.” 

8. Leonard Cohen - “Crazy To Love You”

With his new album Old Ideas (his first full length in eight years!), the legendary, 77 year old singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen has crafted one of his best LPs ever by finally admitting, unlike so many other aging musical geniuses, that he really is an old man. On the wonderfully minimalist standout track “Crazy To Love You,” he sings, “I’m old, and the mirrors don’t lie.” It’s a powerfully statement coming from Cohen, and one that works wonders in humanizing him. In the best sense, Old Ideas makes Cohen seem like a Tom Waits figure — old indeed, but still very full of ideas. 

9. Katie Buonanno - “East Of Hudson”

This wouldn’t be Lewis and his Blog without a little shameless self-promotion. My friend Katie Buonanno recorded her debut EP Mediocre Songs For Mediocre People this month, and released it on her bandcamp page for free. I produced the record and we recorded it together at my house. I also play instruments and/or sing on a couple tracks. Anyway, I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’d love it if you gave it a listen. This is my favorite song on the record and I’ve been thinking about covering it for a while. Enjoy!

10. First Aid Kit - “King Of The World” (Featuring Conor Oberst)

On the closing track from their new album The Lion’s Roar, the Swedish sisters known as First Aid Kit offer a wonderfully skewed interpretation of American folk rock music. The best moments are when they diverge slightly — either intentionally or otherwise — from the distinctly American musical format and display other influences that transcend lingual and national boundaries. Complete with a guest vocal spot from Conor Oberst, “King Of The World” makes a strong contender for the best folk rock song of this early year. 

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Thanks for reading and listening! I hope all of you have a wonderful March. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
"Drifting In And Out" by Porcelain Raft.

Porcelain Raft - “Drifting In And Out”

Porcelain Raft's new record Strange Weekend sounds to me like a good retrospective summation of indie electronic music over the past few years. It has the catchy melodies and psychedelic influence of groups like Starfucker and MGMT, the reverb-laden vocals and hazy atmosphere of chillwave, and, in its best moments, the emotional yearning of dream pop, all packed into a breezy and enjoyable 34 minutes. 

All of those aspects are present on the album’s exemplary opening track “Drifting In And Out.” True to its name, the track seems to float in on the wind, immediately establishing itself with a sun-soaked synth line and a bubbling electronic rhythm. Singer Mauro Remiddi, the Italian-born figurehead of the Porcelain Raft project, displays an affected laziness in his vocals that gives the song a carefree, summery feel, while his voice literally drifts in and out of the mix in the chorus. It’s not exactly subtle, but it works. 

Pick up a copy of the genre-bending electronic hodepodge Strange Weekend now on Secretly Canadian Records

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