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Sporadic MP3age: Double Dagger (Tonight!) + Talib Kweli (Tonight!) + Hungry Villagers + Joan Of Arc + Rural Alberta Advantage + Or, The Whale [6/23/2009 11:23:00 AM]:
Yeah, it's been a while, and the MP3s have been piling, piling, piling up; some are just kinda "eh" to me, but once I get a chance to sift through things, there's always some good stuff to download, like the tracks linked below. I honestly wish I could post more of the stuff we get in the mailbox; sadly, I often don't even have the time to listen to all of it...

Double Dagger - "The Lie/The Truth"
This isn't quite what I was expecting from those Baltimorean Double Dagger guys; for some reason, even after hearing bits & pieces of new album More, I'd had these boys pegged as some kind of broken-amp proto-punk band, but based on this song, I'm way, way off. Rather than being straight-up punk, it's a lot more reminiscent of math-rock/post-rock luminaries like June Of 44 or The For Carnation, mashing spare, bass-heavy (guitar-less, I think?), sideways-leaning almost-melodies with nearly contemptuous, "flat" sing/talking and full-on yelling for a track that comes off less as meditation and more as condemnation. And it works beautifully, for that -- once the drums come crashing down, the Mudhoney-esque fuzz kicks in, and Nolen Strals starts howling out his rage into the mic, my feet can't stop moving and I'm wondering what the heck just happened.

BTW, Double Dagger will also be in town this very evening (Tues., June 23rd), playing at the new-ish Super Happy Fun Land with locals Black Congress (who will fuck your shit up with their roaring, face-punching old-school hardcore and should be seen to be truly comprehended) and Muhammid Ali (whose nicely backwards-looking, sloppy-drunk take on '90s indie-rock noise I'm enjoying quite a bit).

DJ Deckstream feat. Talib Kweli - "Keep In The Pockets (Kero One Remix)"
Okay, so this isn't technically a Talib Kweli track, but hell, he's the one rhyming over Bay Area-based remixer Kero One's gently funky beats, congas, and Santana-esque guitar lines (although, to be fair, I've never heard the original, so I've got no clue what of that's his and what's DJ Deckstream's), so I figure it's appropriate. Not as socially-conscious as I'm used to from Kweli, either, but nobody else but Blackalicious or Kweli's former cohort Mos Def can really do justice to this kind of tongue-twisting flow.

And yes, Kweli will also be in town tonight, playing up at The Meridian all by his lonesome, and I'd highly recommend checking him out -- he's one of the few remaining smart, deep, positive-thinking, non-bitches-&-money rappers out there these days, and more people really, truly need to hear that, I think. Hip-hop does not begin & end with Lil' Wayne, 50 Cent, or Soulja Boy. (Thank God.) Not sure where this track's been released, but I like the other stuff I've heard so far from Ear Drum...

Hungry Villagers - "Tree Full of Ghosts"
This one's been around a while, really -- I picked up a copy of the Hungry Villagers' CD single (which includes "Tree Full of Ghosts" as a B-side to "Little Fingers" -- also a decent song, but not as good as this one) back at the last FPH Block Party, partly because I felt bad for the pair of folks sitting out in the sun at their little booth not seeming to sell many copies of the CD, and now I'm kicking myself for missing the band's actual performance. I was initially a bit leery of these folks, for no real good reason, but this track is flat-out stunning, a deep-voiced, insistent gem of an art-rock song that brings to mind both the Talking Heads & The Arcade Fire and practically gleams with a cool inner light. Plus, it's intriguingly mysterious (why in the hell are all these ghosts infesting this tree, anyway?), and I think there's some kind of Buddhist message buried in there, too. If this is what these guys really sound like, I desperately need more.

Joan of Arc - "Explain Yourselves #2"
I must confess that I've always been fairly ambivalent on Joan of Arc. I tried getting into 'em back when I first discovered The Promise Ring, figuring that if Cap'n Jazz led to one band I liked, it might well lead to another, as well, right? But it just never clicked for me, for some reason; I can't even really explain why, but whenever I heard a track, the best I could do was shrug. With "Explain Yourselves #2", though (from the recently-released album Flowers), there's a nicely jolting drums/congas groove to it that makes me think favorably of Space Needle, some coolly disjointed, half-funky guitars that sound like the guitarist staggered in from the other room just in time to do his thing, and a woozy bed of organ popping in and out at random (and apparently playing a totally different song, at one point), and hell, I'm liking it.

The Rural Alberta Advantage - "Don't Haunt This Place"
With a name that includes the world "rural" and a title like "Don't Haunt This Place," I think I can be forgiven for thinking this track from The Rural Alberta Advantage would be some O Death-y, possibly Okkervil River-y murky rootsiness. Except that no, it's definitely not that. Instead, it's a desperate-sounding, jagged-edged little shard of Brooklyn-esque indie-pop, with awesomely off-beat, skittering drums that drive the whole thing along beneath the pleading, downcast girl/boy duet vocals. (And no offense to Albertans out there, but what would be the advantage to that place? The admittedly little bit I've seen of it makes it look like Texas with more snow...)

Or, The Whale - "Rope Don't Break"
I dunno much of anything about San Francisco-based crew Or, The Whale (the name of which, yes, does include the comma), but this song is a gorgeously melancholy bit of seriously depressed backwoods country-folk, bridging the gap between Low and William Elliott Whitmore. The track lopes along, slow and resigned like a man headed to the gallows for his final dance...which is fitting, since I think is what the song's actually about, a condemned man hoping the hangman's noose is strong enough to end it quick.

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