Monthly Archives: October 2009

Downstairs: DWNSTRS



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Beams of sweat on his bare chest reflected the burning sunlight from the lens of the Telescope. The verdict was as cruel as can be: there’s still no land to be seen. They had been lost for weeks now. No fish, no water, only the breath of the salty air and the sun above their heads. Hopelessness of the situation was turning into cravings. Nothing but male tenderness to hold on to.

For these four sailors it was their second full attempt to conquer the seven seas. It was an outbreak from the country which had tried to cage them for 24 years now. For this journey they were the perfect crew: the bearded, the torn shirted, the four-eye and the almost bald. With fire and faith of youth as their weapon, together against the ruthless sea. Nothing to win, everything to lose. Comrades forever.

And then the worst of the worst happened. The ship wrecked leaving the four young seamen stranded somewhere on The Baltic Sea. It took the bravest of them to finally whisper it out loud: “This god-forbidden vessel is sinking. We are heading to the everlasting love beneath the sea…”

DWNSTRS by Downstairs will be in stores November 4th, 2009 in Europe, January 2010 in North America.
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Critic's Pick: Guster – "Keep It Together"

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This is the first in a never-ending series of articles that will look back at some of our favorite albums.

One day in high school I found myself wandering around the mall aimlessly, which is the only way I can justify stepping foot inside Sam Goody to peruse a music store with a 75% markup and 98 Degrees thumping in the speakers.

Like then, I still don’t believe much in portable music. Maybe I’m just a cheapskate or I listen to music too hard, but I need my walkin’ time to think. So, much like a kid in Wisconsin might have done in the 70′s, I bought an album blind — based on the song titles and the CD cover. (For the record, this method didn’t always have the best results: it led directly to a regrettable obsession with the pop-awful band Yellowcard – but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)

The album I bought began with football stadium-style thumping drums backed by a progression of three chords that sounded as if they were still warming up. Then came an utterance of vocals that delivered like the singer was reading a letter that he could never bring himself to leave under her pillow.

“The secrets that we keep/ we say them in our sleep/ and wrestle down our souls if they would speak/ I watched you board a train/ in the London rain/ and waved bye-bye as you slipped out of view/ Diane…”

I was hooked.

Guster’s Keep It Together is one of the most masterfully produced and written pop rock albums of all time. It’s all parts personal, wistful, inane and just plain fun.

The true triumph of the album is the 7-minute long title track “Keep It Together”

“When we all finally washed ashore it was clear there was no one else around/ we declared a national holiday/ a chance to build it from the ground/ so far away from everyone – and everything starts today/”

The song chronicles their escape from a world riven by war and their failed attempt to create a society that isn’t based on senseless violence.

“The thunder struck/ the clouds appeared/ our fearless crew was not prepared/ and pretty soon their boats came for us half-a-million strong/ we gathered arms, we fired shells/ we built a wall around ourselves/ and pretty soon the spirit was a lot like what it used to be back home.”
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Springsteen Wednesday: Racing In The Street

BUY ALBUM | WEBSITE | Posted by David Debiak

For me the follow-up song to “Thunder Road” was “Racing In The Street”. This was what happened after Mary got in that car, left that town full of losers… to win. A reality check indeed. One line still sends chills up my spine every time I hear it.

“For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels,
Rumbling through this promised land
Tonight my baby and me, we’re gonna ride to the sea
And wash these sins off our hands.”

The car, the race, the girl, it was the innocence, it was the passion you lived for, but time takes it’s toll and sooner or later work and love make you grow up and face the reality of this world… But you can always have that one thing that can help you slip away and forget, that can take you back to a time when it was fun, when you can remember why you’re here and why you still come home at night and wash up and go racing in the street.

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Everything Is Made In China

Everything Is Made In China

How many bands from Russia can you honestly say you’ve heard of? Of those bands, how many can you say are actually good? Until a few months ago, I could honestly say “zero” and I’m sure you can’t even count them on one hand. I gave up even paying attention… until I was invited to the Illosaarirock Festival in Joensuu, Finland. Looking over the roster, I noticed one band on the 2 day long festival from Moscow called Everything Is Made In China. Awesome name. Could they actually worth listening to, though? “Probably not,” my Russian friend said “there are 3,500 bands in St. Petersburg alone and not a single one even knows how to play their instruments.”

We were both wrong. EIMIC took the stage and absolutely mesmerized the entire crowd. 1000 people stood in perfect silence as the band fill the tent with lush synths, beautiful melodies and epic, Caspian style drums keeping everyone entranced. I immediately got my hands on their debut album, 4 (2007), and didn’t stop listening for months… Now they have a new record in the works, a new video (posted below for the track “Automatic”) and a fan here in the US hoping that someone will put the record out.

New London Fire "Water Park" Preview

We have some new New London Fire shit in our hands right now! The band just finished recording their new record over the last 2 years, tentatively titled Happiness Through Radios and Wires, and below is a borderline-creepy preview video for the track “Waterpark” created by the artist Catherine Min. The band also put up another new song “Olivia” on their MySpace page. It’s a huge step away from their debut, but a sound welcomed with open arms here at A&SB.

Some Rainy Day Music

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Higher Than The Stars EP


It’s gloomy days like this in Northern, NJ where not only does your car get a cheap wash from all of the rain, but your head can also get a complete flush-out if you listen to the right music. The Higher Than The Stars EP by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart leaves you in a daze, filling up the room in a wall-of-sound distortion with influences ranging from The Jesus & Mary Chain to My Bloody Valentine. It soothes, it lowers stress levels and sort of makes you want to take a nap. Perfect rainy day music.

EDIT: I also like this EP because the artwork matches our website…

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Why We Failed

If there is one thing I have learned this year, it’s that writing a music blog is hard when you aren’t listening to or making any music.

It’s been about a year now since I made the (archetypal, emblematic, classic…? no, I’ve got it) stereotypical move to New York City from my humble Midwestern hometown in Wisconsin. For some reason that’s beyond me, I left music back there in ‘real’ America, too.

A life without new music isn’t so grim an existence, really. But something is missing – the thing that pulls together new experiences.

In the City of Giants, you lose the perspective that someone else’s emotions offer. Moments run together as if tethered to the anchor of reality and winding around in circles aimlessly in the current. Just because there is nothing objectively wrong with that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong – it just means that I am beyond my own understanding.

Maybe it has something to do with this city — with the density or all the unwhite noise. This is a place where the pleasantries you exchange with strangers mainly occur in your head. And yes, my fellow New Yorkers, that is not normal.

We need something to remind ourselves that the emotions of others are important, or at the very least, real — not some figment of an overanalyzed glare on the subway. But that they are all just as illogical, ugly, beautiful and fucking disgusting as our own.

That’s why I picked up the headphones again.
Or maybe its that my expensive pair of Austrian headsets broke, and I just stole my roomate’s old ones out of the bathroom.

Either way, we’re back. For good this time.
Even if that’s what I said the last time.

- By Bassey