Tag Archive: “Secretly Canadian”

The One With Great Storytellers

On this episode of Best Song Ever, Brian introduces a new segment that allows him to get some things off of his chest, Luke and Brian discuss whether or not nerds need to know more about sports, Luke defends shy white boys from Brian and Brian dips into the past and sings some N’Sync.  Also, there are eight incredible songs and some interesting discussions on hope and fear in politics and how music can bridge the gap between people who don’t see eye to eye.

Every week Ghettoblaster feature writers (and dear cousins!) Brian LaBenne and Luke LaBenne bring you fresh new songs with the hopes of introducing you to some that you may consider to be the best song ever.  Both Brian and Luke have no idea what songs the other has picked, so what you are hearing is their genuine reaction to listening to the songs together.  Also, if you enjoy this episode, head to ITunes to subscribe and rate our podcast with the highest rating available to you.


Songs Played on The One With Great Storytellers

Jens Lekman – “What’s That Perfume That You Wear” from Life Will See You Now out February 17th on Secretly Canadian

Fred Thomas – “Mallwalkers” from Changer out January 27th on Polyvinyl Records

Craig Finn – “Preludes” from We All Want the Same Things out March 24th on Partisan Records

Austra – “Utopia” from Future Politics out January 20th on Domino Recording Company

Brandon Can’t Dance – “Smoke & Drive Around” from Graveyard of Good Times out now on Lucky Number Records

Porter Ray – “Sacred Geometry [Constellation Mix]” feat Palaceer, Shabazz Palaces and Cashtro from Watercolor out March 10th on Sub Pop Records

Tall Tall Trees – “Backroads” from Freedays out February 17th on Joyful Noise Recordings

Priests – “Nothing Feels Natural” from Nothing Feels Natural out January 27th on Sister Polygon Records

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday June 3rd that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

Moonface and Siinai – My Best Human Face (Jagjaguwar)

Wolf Parade member Spencer Krug, under the name Moonface, has teamed up once again with the Finnish prog-rock band Siinai to present us with My Best Human Face, a strangely wonderful hypnotic album.  These songs all settle into nice rock grooves and mix with elements of electronic drone in such a way only they could pull off.  The synths soar and the guitars roar over solid bass and drums, all in service of Krug’s otherworldly lyricism.  My Best Human Face is full of lyrics that are at the same time hard to understand and easy to relate to.  The best example of this is on “Ugly Flower Pretty Vase,” easily one of the best songs so far this year, where Krug sings: “I dance into the dining room wearing my best human face / I’m an ugly flower, you’re a pretty vase.”  Overall, this is an album that is easy to get lost in and zone out to, yet, when it is given the attention it demands, My Best Human Face really digs its claws in and never lets go.


Whitney – Light Upon the Lake (Secretly Canadian)

Light Upon the Lake is an album that is great for special circumstances: be it something to play to soundtrack a road trip, a record to throw on when your parents are visiting, or something to listen to when mowing the lawn.  It is a subtle and smooth folk rock album that breezes along with warm, jangly guitar, somewhat strange yet lovely falsetto vocals and truly magnificent horns.  The overall sound is well defined and assured, especially for a debut album.  These songs feel lived in and organic, as if they’ve existed for years.  There are some shades of the folk-pop side of Fleetwood Mac in their retro-yet-refreshing sound, as well as a guitar tone that before now only George Harrison seemed to be able to pull off.  Light Upon the Lake is a special album, which begs to be played on repeat.


Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death (Warner Brothers)

Love You to Death finds Tegan and Sara picking up right from where they left off with Heartthrob.  This is another expertly crafted pop album with huge hooks, perfect production and overall just wonderfully written songs from the Canadian sister duo.  If you were a fan of Heartbreak, then Love You to Death will be like season two of your favorite show.  Once again Tegan and Sara present 10 songs in a tight 31 minute runtime, which leaves you wanting more.  Tegan and Sara seem to refine their lyricism more and more over their career, and the most recent album is no different.  Throughout the album Tegan and Sara weave together a collection of songs focused on the complexities of adult relationships, making this a really smart really poppy album.  Tegan and Sara have proven that Heartthrob was no fluke and I Love You to Death should establish them as one of the more important voices in pop music today.

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday March 18th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free (Waterfront Records)
Waterfront Records describes the new album from The Drones in the best possible way: “Feelin Kinda Free is a bad trip you can dance to. It’s a punch in the brain.”  The Drones are an Australian band with lyrics largely about Australian politics; however, lack of knowledge on the subject matter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this album.  Vocally, The Drones sound like a wonderful cross between Nick Cave and Joe Strummer, of the Clash.  Musically, this time around, they provide an interesting marriage between the frenetic and unpredictable sounds of Sonic Youth with the eschewed pop styling of tUnE-yArDs.  If it sounds like a strange combination of references, it is, and it works gloriously.  This is quite a difficult, yet endlessly rewarding listen for those who like their music with the roughest of edges.

Damien Jurado – Visions of Us on the Land (Secretly Canadian)
Damien Jurado has been the best, and most consistent singer-songwriter in the 2010’s, and his latest album, Visions of Us on the Land, continues his long winning streak.  He is also on the cover of the most recent issue of Ghettoblaster, out this week!  This is a beautifully psychedelic set of songs, which finds Jurado embracing a sound seemingly inspired by Western films.  Seeing the tracklist number 17 songs could seem like a dense listen, but each song breezes by, blending into the next, over the course of only 52 minutes.  Visions of Us on the Land is a must listen for fans of singer-songwriter music, as is every album Damien Jurado has put out since 2010.

Baauer – Aa (LuckyMe Records)
Ever since Baauer exploded on the scene with the insanity of “Harlem Shake,” listeners have been waiting for him to release an album as great as Aa.  This album is filled to the brim with straight bangers.  Aa should break your sound system, if it doesn’t then you need to turn it up louder.  The sequencing of Aa is also something special to note.  The songs that comprise the front half of the album are all just Baauer doing his own thing, while the songs on the back half of the album are all songs that feature guest vocalists.  This dynamic makes for an interesting and fulfilling listen from start to finish.  Please listen if you’re interested in some of the most enjoyable and creative electronic dance music around.



Welcome, one and all, to the very first volume of Future Sounds.  Every few weeks we will bring you a playlist of singles from upcoming albums to excite and entice your ears.  Below you’ll find the entire playlist via Spotify, as well as Playlist Highlights, which are songs that really stand out as essential listening.  So please, sit back, relax and treat yourself to some seriously great music.

Playlist Highlights

PJ Harvey – The Wheel
Let it be known that I’m a sucker for hand claps, and there is some mighty fine hand clapping in this song.  PJ Harvey is back with her first new music since 2011, and if this is a sign of things to come then it was well worth the wait.  The guitars on this song really stick out as well as the sort of primitive, yet not at all simple feel.
from the album The Hope Six Demolition Project out 4/15/16 on Vagrant Records

Eric Bachmann – Mercy
Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers frontman is back once again as himself.  This song has such a HUGE sound with lovely doo-wop influenced backing vocals.  Lyrically it seems to be about unfollowing friends and family on Facebook, but still loving them despite huge differences.  Seriously in love with this song.
from the album Eric Bachmann out 3/23/16 on Merge

Parquet Courts – Dust
Just a straight up great rockin’ song complete with chaotic freak out. Also, one of the simplest and strangest choruses, which I’m absolutely in love with.  Dust is everywhere … Sweep!
from the album Human Performance out 4/8/16 on Rough Trade

Big Ups – Capitalized
It all begins with an ominous bass line and doesn’t let up over the course of two bone crunching minutes.  Big Ups is a band that I had not heard of before this month, yet their upcoming album grows more and more promising with each single they release ( see also: National Parks).
from the album Before a Million Universes out 3/4/16 on Exploding in Sound

Flume – Smoke and Retribution (feat. Vince Staples and Kucka)
Icy cold synths mixed with dripping hot verses from Vince Staples, one of the most promising young rappers today, makes for an incredible listen.  Vince Staples is what brought me to this song initially, but Flume’s production is what has me excited to hear the rest of his album when it comes out.  Turn this one up as loud as possible, trust me.
from the forthcoming album Skin via Mom + Pop

Whitney – No Woman
A lovely folk song with a bit of a country feel and great horns from members of the band Smith Westerns.  This is about as smooth a song as you’ll find.  I just want to throw this on and drive around in northern Michigan for forever.
from an upcoming release later in 2016 from Secretly Canadian

Full Playlist

Damien Jurado’s new album Visions of Us on the Land is out March 18, 2016 on Secretly Canadian. If you wanted to preview the album you’re out of luck, however you are fortunate enough to hear the first single, “Exit 353.” The album is Jurado’s 14th full-length release, and his 8th for indie stalwart Secretly Canadian. The fuzzed single here draws on his ever expanding creativity while the album shows off a balls to the wall aestheticism finding comfort with his own sound and timbre. Fans should definitely be excited for this release.

Dave Hartley

Prolific sideman Dave Hartley has paid his dues, putting in considerable hours as the bassist for The War on Drugs, and playing bass on Sharon Van Etten’s The Silver Ages.  Finally at the helm of his own enterprise, Nightlands, Hartley conveys a surprising boldness and scope to his own artistic vision.  His sophomore album, Oak Island, is set to drop on January 22 via Secretly Canadian, and offers a melodious pop nod to the sounds of ‘70s AM gold.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t be off base to suggest that he’s on an a upward trajectory to the top of 2013 “best of” lists.

Ghettoblaster asked Hartley what his favorite albums of 2013 and he was kind enough to provide us a list to share with you dear readership.  And, as a bonus, check out the Nightlands track he’s shared, as well as his new hoops-related column for XPN’s The Key (below).

My favorite records this year (that didn’t necessarily come out this year):

1) Jorge Ben – A Tåbua de Esmeralda (1974)

Easily my favorite album this year. Strange, rhythmically complex and endlessly catchy. Made me rethink a lot about singing and melodic sense–I might emigrate to Brazil soon.

2) The Clientele – Suburban Light (2000)

This is actually a collection of singles from The Clientele, but you’d never know it–it sounds like a proper album. It’s very simple and unified, and the vocals just float over the vibrating guitars like a humming bird. Recommended listening the morning after a late night while the skillet gets hot.

3) Jorge Ben – Africa Brasil (1976)

Totally different than A Tåbua de Esmeralda–dirtier, more live sounding, way more electric. There is phaser on the guitar and gang backing vocals, and big washes of percussion. Inspiring. 

4) John Maus – We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (2011)

Hey Moon was on repeat for weeks, as well as a couple other tracks here. He’s doing stuff that seems pretty independent of anything else going on, like it was created in a vacuum. 

5) John Maus – A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material (2012)

A really nice companion to We Must Become… It sounds so very current, or even ahead, and a lot of the tracks are from almost a decade ago. Dark and so very strange. Mr. Bennington could not be improved upon in any world. I will complain, though, that the vinyl mastering sounds pretty terrible, in my opinion. The digital release is much more pleasant to the ear. 

6) Broadcast – Tender Buttons (2005)

Stone cold classic record. Aesthetically perfect with a backbone of great songs. Anytime I play this I either get knowing nods or questions about who it is.

7) Art Garfunkel – Breakaway (1975)

Artie’s first and best solo record. A great selection of covers, especially ’99 Miles From LA’ (Albert Hammond), ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ (The Flamingoes, duh) and ‘Disney Girls’ (The Beach Boys/Bruce Johnston). Crack band and smooth as shit production.

8) Randy Newman – Little Criminals (1977)

The Randy Newman catalog is sort of a nebulous beast, but Little Criminals is a good entry point. It showcases his sense of humor, his restraint, his crushing lyrics (‘Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father’ and ‘In Germany Before the War’ — keep a hanky handy), and his excellent taste in backing musicians (Jim Keltner, Lee Sklar and most of The Eagles on this record). ‘Jolly Coppers on Parade’ is an entire song made from a single, fleeting image. 

9) Longmont Potion Castle – Volume 9 (2012)

If you don’t know what this is, well, I don’t think I could possibly explain it to you. PHONE JAZZ.

10) Brinsley Schwarz (1970)

A side of Nick Lowe most people don’t know about. The seminal Pub Rock band, Brinsley Schwarz are due for a rediscovery. Think of a less-druggy Grateful Dead or The Band singing more love songs and less about The Civil War. Side 1 Track 1 should do the trick. 

(As promised:

Nightlands’ “I Fell In Love With A Feeling”: http://youtu.be/-oTnJJNZ0FI

Nightlands’ “So Far So Long”: http://youtu.be/jdZ6bt4XsPg

Top of the Key (Dave Hartley’s basketball column on XPN’s The Key): http://bit.ly/QVqXTf)

I Know What Love Isn’t


“Every chord I struck was a miserable chord” pretty much sums up this entire record. Written on the tail end of a breakup, Lekman’s newest full length is the epitome of “sad bastard” music. I do give some credit because he at least claims he didn’t want to write about said breakup, but I guess he could’ve said that to gain some credibility. Regardless, the themes of heartache and loss are there, and set to music that teeters between The Smiths and Barry Manilow. It’s not necessarily bad; it’s just a bit too obvious, like he didn’t take too many risks to make it stand out from millions of other records that were made with the same formula. (Secretly Canadian) by Andrew Ryan Fetter

Cut The World

Either you get Antony Hegarty’s Klaus Nomi-meets-Marianne Faithfull schtick or you don’t, but even diehard fans will likely be underwhelmed by this symphonic live album that certainly does a great job of showcasing Antony’s otherworldly voice, but is often dreadfully dull. Antony warbles his way through most of the highlights of his discography, including fan favorites such as “I Fell In Love With a Dead Boy” and “You Are My Sister” (although Boy George’s vocals, which appeared on the original album version, are sorely missed). A rambling speech about patriarchy and the moon’s affects on behavior (“Future Feminism”) will no doubt excite young riot grrrls currently passing the hat to collect funds for Pussy Riot’s legal defense fund, but it mostly serves as the album’s key WTF? moment. For diehard fans only. (Secretly Canadian) by Jason Webber

Yeasayer will release their new LP, Fragrant World, on August 21 via Secretly Canadian.  In the meantime they’ll be doing some touring.  Dates are below.

6/19 Richmond, VA – The National
6/20 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
6/21 Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
6/22 Nashville, TN – Cannery Ballroom
6/23 Louisville, KY – Headliners Music Hall
6/24 Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century Theatre
7/4 Gdyina, Poland – Open’er Festival
7/7 Bruges, Belgium – Cactus Festival
7/8 Liege, Belgium – Les Ardentes Festival
7/9 Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli
7/13 Suffolk, UK – Latitude Festival
7/15 Ferropolis, Germany – Melt! Festival
7/31 Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls Theater
8/1 Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
8/2 Syracuse, NY – Westcott Theater
8/3 Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
8/4-5 Montreal, QC – Osheaga
8/14 Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
8/21 Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
8/22 Chicago, IL – Vic Theater
8/24 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
8/25 Omaha, NE – The Slowdown
8/26 Denver, CO – Ogden Theater
8/27 Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
8/29 Vancouver, BC – Eugene Low
8/30 Seattle, WA – Neptune
8/31 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
9/1 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
9/3 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
9/5 Dallas TX – House of Blues
9/6 Austin, TX – Stubbs
9/7 New Orleans, LA – The Republic
9/8 Atlanta, GA – The Tabernacle
9/9 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
9/11 Boston, MA – House of Blues
9/12 New York, NY – Rumsey Playfield (Summer Stage)
9/14 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
9/16 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer