Soundcheck: Dead Leaves

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Published October 15, 2009

Dead Leaves is actually the title of a great old album by Versus, which I’ve been listening to a lot lately. In addition, I’ve been sweeping up lots of dead leaves in my garden and watching a lot of dead leaves fall to the ground all over New York City. Having been so busy falling into fall, I’ve barely had time to pay attention to the ever-growing pile of promos on my desk. However, I did manage to pull a few seasonally-appropriate records to brighten my daily autumnal strolls around Brooklyn.

The Middle East Self-titled EP
This band actually isn’t from the Middle East at all, but from somewhere down under (Brisbane, Australia). Sonically, however, they come from the same folky, pastoral universe as Fleet Foxes or Midlake. Gorgeous harmonies and gently strummed guitars that go on for days and days. You can also download the band’s 5-song debut for the bargain price of $1 by visiting their Myspace page. Every song is a winner, so consider it a bargain.

Built to Spill  There is no Enemy
Having made some of the most wonderfully inscrutable rock records of the 90’s, the band’s last few albums were decidedly hit or miss. There is no Enemy is a return to form, finding the band rediscovering a love for the simple pop song and airtight melody and ditching the 10-minute stoner guitar jams that weighted down past releases. Still, over a decade into their career, there is no one else that sounds like this band. Indie-pop guitar heaven.

Califone All my Friends are Funeral Singers

On those blustery fall days when you find yourself yearning to hear the most gorgeously heartbreaking thing you can possibly get your paws on, thank god for the existence of Califone. These Chicago dudes have been dishing out spookily beautiful backwoods jams for years now and, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve never made a bad record.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions Through the Devil Softly
Hope Sandoval is like a witch (albeit a beautiful one who only practices good kinds of magic) that emerges every seven or eight years to gently unleash another record that sounds like it was recorded in the middle of the night in some impossibly exotic place that you will likely never get to visit.  This record doesn’t deviate from the somnambulistic sounds that Sandoval has been dishing out since her Mazzy Star days, but would you really want her to?

Neon Indian Psychic Chasm
I’m already inclined to like a record that sounds like blippy dance music made by a drunk teenager in 1985, but what sold me on this record was the single “Should have taken Acid with You.” Now, I can think of plenty of people that I should NOT have taken acid with, but only a few that I probably should have and didn’t. It makes for a sweet sentiment and a great song.