Hawks of Paradise
I’m gonna dive right into this week’s roundup with another great Denver band, this one of four I managed to see on Friday night through a combination of clever planning and masterful club shuttling. Hawks of Paradise were recommended to me by someone who is very much into the Dandy Warhols, and they absolutely dial into that sound as well as folks like Brian Jonestown Massacre and, more recently, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (notably their beat-poet-influenced Howl album). They are amazingly fun to see live, even if you’re just coming to watch their female tambourinist, who was cool and calm and fantastic as she kept her beat. A few more free songs are up for download on their MySpace, and they open next month for the Drive-By Truckers.
The Truth And The Lies
My grandma’s given name was Ruby Nell, and I am fond of that name and this band. And I think she would have been too. Rubies is something that you can listen to with your grandmother, but that is not to say it is staid, boring, or a waltz. This trio of ladies from California makes songs that are throaty and gorgeous, whether a coffeehouse slowburner or a dance-floor filler. Members of Kings of Convenience, The Concretes, and Feist guest on their current album Explode From The Center (out now on Rough Trade) and this could be the perfect soundtrack to those moonlight winter nights that, sorry to say, are coming soon. Also speaking of Feist, Simone from Rubies designed that stunning artwork for The Reminder, which makes me want to give her a very enthusiastic hug. That was some of my favorite album art of the year. [tune via Julioooo]
At that DNC shindig, Jenny Lewis charmed us early in the set with this ballad and her indie-supergroup backup choir that night. The song is absolutely winning, and really illuminates her warm, open, and slightly knowing voice. But after hearing her perform it live twice now, I gotta say that this studio version sounds like Sunday gospel in a a full church with those backing vocals swelling up. Her solo album Acid Tongue is due on Warner Bros September 23, and 2 of her Unconventional stage-mates (Johnathan Rice and Zooey Deschanel) guest on the album, along with M Ward, Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson. Not bad, Jenny. Not bad.
Dying Is Fine
Ra Ra Riot
This Syracuse band blew me away when I saw them live in the tiny, sweaty Larimer Lounge this spring. Ra Ra Riot blends this irresistible “chamber pop meets indie rock meets synthesizer danceability,” and they all were so tightly unified as a band that they practically cast off a humming vibration of synergy. Or something like that. I am so pleased to hear that their new album The Rhumb Line (out now on Barsuk Records) sounds absolutely divine, and this song in particular will stick in your head for days — those delicate strings, the hipshaking syncopated beat, the chimey female harmonies that try to assuage your fear of dying.
You Don’t Know Me
Ben Folds and Regina Spektor
I’ll admit that Ben Folds may be an acquired taste, as he doesn’t have a traditionally pretty voice but rather one that’s … pretty dorky. But he writes amazing songs. On this new tune he goes and experiments around with some early ’90s-feeling beat samples and high school musical duet play. But for whatever reason, I still enjoy listening to this perky collaboration with the lovely Regina Spektor (whose set I so enjoyed at Outside Lands). Way To Normal is out September 30th, and Ben plays with his reunited five in North Carolina on September 18th.