HjaltalĂ­n

“Traffic Music” MP3

May 02, 2009

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This promising new orchestral rock septet from Reykjavík, Iceland was called to Under the Radar's attention by one of our readers. All we can say is "THANK YOU!" Hjaltalín make a joyful sound in the vein of Sufjan Stevens or Frances but are grounded by more everyday lyrics. The winsome track swirls between a fluttering bassoon and its full-band counterpart. When singer/guitarist Högni Lisberg sings about a protagonist who keeps checking "his messages on Myspace" you realize how ridiculous that such a phrase is already dated. "Traffic Music" is a winner despite such negligible things. The digital single is out on May 4 in the U.K. and the band also commishioned a music video from the Icelandic animator Hermann Karlsson.

The Dears

“Halfmast” (B-side) MP3

May 02, 2009

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"Halfmast" is a new B-side by The Dears that was recorded during the same sessions for their last album, Missiles. The Dears recently wrote about the song in an email blast to their mailing list: "For whatever reason the clock ran out and we just couldn't fit this onto Missiles. It has this ridiculous long section at the end that features 4(!) simultaneous guitar solos, one of them on a wah-wah pedal. The solos were played by George Donoso III, Robert E. Benvie, Patrick Krief and Murray Lightburn, recorded in the same session, one after the other. The track was inspired by many things, but notably, the prospect of a black man running for president." Despite just having their tour bus stolen, The Dears are currently on tour.

The Field

“The More That I Do” MP3

May 02, 2009

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On the first single for The Field's forthcoming Yesterday and Today, Axel Willner hits it out of the park. After his breakout From Here We Go Sublime he's favored more live instrumentation and it shows here. A resplendent melody sample (supplied by the always beautiful Cocteau Twins' song "Lorelei" ) serves as the backbone for the wicked krautrock vibe. Synths pinwheel from the background to the foreground of the mix. This could hardly be considered minimal or ambient. For those that stay until the song's coda, Willner plops a tropical surprise into the mix. It's well worth the wait. The Kompakt Kid's transition to Anti- sounds great. Yesterday and Today drops May 19.

Tori Amos

“Maybe California” MP3 & Video

Apr 30, 2009

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Mother's Day is quickly approaching and Tori Amos (a mom who ascribes to a Jungian concept of parenthood) is getting ready. To celebrate the occasion, the piano songstress is giving away a free download of “Maybe California.” Abnormally Attracted to Sin comes out May 19, via Universal Republic. All you got to do is give up an e-mail address for the music video and mp3. Here's the download page ("A Gift from Tori Amos") with a video message that's got a late afternoon PBS vibe to match the song's overcast tempo.

Antony and the Johnsons

“Another World” (Live on Craig Ferguson) Video

Apr 30, 2009

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When talk show host/comedian Craig Ferguson introduced the group he quipped that he he was “quite scared” of the cover of Antony and the Johnsons’ latest album, The Crying Light. The small ensemble's rendition of lead single "Another World' was no joke though. A glacial string trio is barely there; a stark contrast to the strange aural twists Antony took with Matthew Herbert at this year's Coachella. Ferguson may be scared of the butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno but we'll welcome these sounds anytime. There was a feature on Antony and the Johnsons in Under the Radar's Winter 2009 issue.

Wye Oak

“Take It In” MP3

Apr 29, 2009

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"Take It In" is taken from Wye Oak's forthcoming new album, The Knot, to be released by Merge Records.

Phoenix

“1901” MP3

Apr 29, 2009

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"1901" is taken from Phoenix's forthcoming new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. There's an interview with the French band in the current Spring 2009 issue of Under the Radar.

Pink Mountaintops

“Vampire” MP3

Apr 29, 2009

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"Vampire" is taken from Pink Mountaintops forthcoming new album, Outside Love, which is being released by Jagjaguwar. There's an  interview with Pink Mountaintops in Under the Radar's current Spring 2009 issue.