When the news broke last year that Claudia Dehaza was going to be leaving the Brooklyn-based trio School of Seven Bells, my heart sank a little. It’s hardly a secret that I’m a big fan of their luxurious, shoegazey dream pop…they’ve been featured on The List three times before, HERE, HERE and HERE…and God knows I’ve pretty much worn out their albums, Disconnect From Desire and Alpinisms, so it’s understandable that I couldn’t imagine how the band could continue without the harmonic melodies Claudia and her twin Alejandra spun into their songs. But the new duo of Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Dehaza have recently completed a new album, Ghostory, which is scheduled for a February release. With a bit of creative knob-twiddling, Alejandra is able to harmonize with herself while Benjamin stays at the top of his game assembling layer upon layer of guitars, synthesizers and frantic drumwork into what is unmistakably the SVIIB sound.
You can follow School of Seven Bells on their website and if you’re into planning ahead, the Album Release show is gonna be February 28th at The Mercury Lounge
Damn Ugly Photography has been around for just over two years now, but the main reason it exists at all…the Song of the Day List…started way back in 2004 as a way for me to waste some time by emailing out whatever new music I happened to find to a small list of my friends. That small list grew over time until I hit over 1,000 people and my ISP’s spam filter kicked in, making it no longer possible for me to send the mass email out to the blind list. So in February of 2009 I got this place going and decided to include more and more photo-related posts. I mean, I did call it Damn Ugly Photography, right?!!
Anyway…I was reminded of the early days of The List when I drove into the city yesterday while listening to a playlist of some of my favorite pre-blog stuff from obscure Indie bands that I was typically hearing for the first time. These are songs that I still count among the favorite music I have sitting in my iTunes folder. And as some of you probably know, over the years I’ve actually gotten pretty close with a number of the artists and record labels and we’re lucky enough to have new music fall off the back of the truck well in advance of the actual release dates. Jets Overhead, Say Hi, Kate Tucker, Audrye Sessions, Johanna & the Dusty Floor, School of Seven Bells, Nadia Ackerman and many, many more have all sent leaks from the studio for us to enjoy, and just today, Ryan Karazija sent me some new cuts from his latest project, Tabula Rasa, that I’ll be getting some of it up very soon.
So today I’m gonna give y’all a nostalgic look back of some of that music…without my usual flowery comments…as a little history lesson on how far The List has come. Trust me, this will make one Hell of a great Indie playlist!
With that little rant outta the way, I’ve culled through everything I tossed out over the past 12 months, tried to keep it real by touchin’ on all the food groups, and finally come up with a pretty good mix of indie, guitar-strummin’, singer/songwriter, power-poppy, electronica and alt-rock goodness. And I gotta say, it was bloody hard this year to keep it to only ten choices! Each year, it always amazes me at the sheer quality of the music I stumble upon that quite frankly, most people will never even hear! Cee Lo may get 50 million YouTube views and Kanye is washing the road grime off of his Lamborghini with Cristal, but I’m still gonna champion these performers because they’re turning out music I can actually listen to!
So even though this will undoubtedly be looked upon by some as yet another full-of-shit Top Ten list…I give you…..
The Damn Ugly Photography Top Ten Songs From 2010!!!
10. JOHANNA AND THE DUSTY FLOOR
Love Is A Breakable Thing
The theatrical, Joy Division-like fuzzy vibe these guys have working must have been catchy, ‘cuz a lotta you wrote thankful notes to me back in February and said you coughed up a few bucks to buy the EP. You can follow INU over at Inu Music.
It was indeed a very bad day when Audrye Sessions announced a few months back that they were packing it in…we were crying like babies here at The List…but back in May when Ryan sent me this song we were amped by the frenzy of fun ‘Bad Day’ laid down and so looking forward to more from would end up being the final ‘sessions’. But Ryan assures me his new EP will be out this month and you all know I’ll have a taste when it becomes available!
I loved Portishead, so it was natural I was gonna love Phantogram. The sad, drowsy guitars, the scratchy backtrack and even Sarah Barthel’s voice that’s a dead ringer for Beth Gibbons…’When I’m Small’ had me swaying side-to-side back in January. Check out Phantogram over on MySpace
6. ANDREW BELLE (featuring KATIE HERZIG)
I first found out about Andrew Belle after seeing Katie Herzig (#3 on the list this year) in concert and ‘Static Waves’, the duo they did together, showed up on The List in October. You can follow Andrew Belle on his MySpace Page or over on his website
The first time I heard ‘Changing Your Mind’, it gave me an ache in the back of my throat…the kind of heartfelt ache that convinced me even back then that it was bound for the end of the year list. You can’t fake this kind of soulful singing. Check out Bob Schneider on his MySpace page.
I never knew when I went to see Brandi Carlile I’d come away with a bunch of CD’s from Katie Herzig, but that’s why we go to see live music, right? You never know who’s gonna pop up and grab you! Katie is a special talent and you can follow her on her website or over on MySpace
There was far less electronica on The List this year, but my love of dream-pop and the fact that this song stayed at the very top of my iTunes folder all year ensured it a spot near the top of this years list. And I could listen to Alejandra and Claudia Deheza trade off harmonies all day and night! Get more SVIIB on MySpace or on their Website
Over the past few months, Nadia has become BFF’s with The List…we even shot her new album cover package…so ya can’t be too surprised to find her sitting on top of this years heap, and nobody deserves it more! She’s such an amazingly gifted songwriter and that strong, expressive voice can melt even the hardest heart. Her second album, The Ocean Master, is due to be released this Spring…in fact, she and Harvey are in Wales mixing the record it as I type this…so please, head on over to her facebook page for more information.
School of Seven Bells latest album, Disconnect from Desire, is practically brand new, but the Brooklyn-based trio already has has a new digital EP set to drop September 14. Heart is Strange is one of those crazy little things that happens when the remix-masters fall in love with a band, and SVIIB is one of those bands. The EP contains only four cuts, two versions of Heart is Strange (the Radio edit and the Pantha du Prince Remix), Dust Devil (White Sea Remix), and today’s SOTD, I L U (Phantogram Remix). Disconnect from Desire has been one of my favorite albums this year, but I’m always up for a good bit of knob-twiddling. Check out more from SVIIB on MySpace or on their Website and for you New Yorkers who plan on doing CMJ this year, they’re gonna be playing the Santos Party House Saturday, October 23rd and it promises to be one of the best shows of the week!