Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

02 FEBRUARY, 2009

Monday Music Muse: Matt and Kim


How to drive your neighbors crazy, or why Columbia has nothing on the Pratt Institute.

Despite all cultural evidence to the contrary (Pitchfork best-of’s, we’re looking at you), punk/dance is far from dead. Not if Matt and Kim get any sort of say in the matter.

And say they do. The duo has been in the business of keeping the indie music scene danceable since 2004, when the two met randomly at the Pratt Institute and proceeded to play local warehouse shows in Brooklyn. By 2006, they were signed and cruising away with their ridiculously good self-titled debut album.

They are, if you will, Vampire Weekend long before there was Vampire Weekend, vaguely reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, with a surprising touch of Clash here and there. Which is to say, rather hard to capture in comparisons. And it may just be us, but they also seem to have a weird thing about never being captured in photographs together.

Hey, we don’t judge.

Matt and Kim are Matt Johnson (vocals & keyboards) and Kim Schifino (drums & vocals). Their latest album, Grand, was released last week and is loaded with the stuff of wild, infectious, makes-you-jump-and-sing-along-till-the-neighbors-start-banging-on-the-floor-with-a-broomstick goodness.

Check it out.

Thanks, Jen

26 JANUARY, 2009

Monday Music Muse: Rachael Cantu


Cross-country coolness and how to go down with the devil’s thunder.

Rachael Cantu Rachael Cantu is an indie music poster child.

Off-mainstream mindset? Check — a SoCal native, Rachael decided to go against the grain and move… gasp… east on her 21st birthday, where she quickly made her mark on the Boston indie music scene, then victoriously returned to California. Touring with indie icons? Check — Tegan and Sara, we’re looking at you. A “whole package” deal? Check — this singer-songwriter comes with haunting vocals and a deeply human lyrical sensibility.

And since it’s time for the obligatory comparison to put Rachael’s music in context, we’ll just say she’s part Ingrid Michaelson, part Iron & Wine, part something else entirely, all dipped in the vocal magnetism of an early Sarah McLachlan.

Rachael Cantu: Run All Night We recently caught one of Rachael’s most powerful songs, Devil’s Thunder, on an episode of ABC’s Private Practice. The song, unfortunately, is yet to be released — but you can hear it on Rachael’s MySpace or settle for this crappy YouTube version.

Give Rachael’s latest album, Run All Night, a spin for a taste of this up-and-comer.

19 JANUARY, 2009

Monday Music Muse: The Midnight Show


A stride-stopping hit from Brooklyn’s notoriously hit-or-miss indie music scene.

The Midnight Show This week’s musical discovery takes us to Brooklyn, the grand stage where indie-folk-rock band Joanna Erdos & The Midnight Show gifts unsuspecting hipster audiences with supreme outstandingness.

(They also happen to be one of those last quintessentially “indie” bands left — think nada on Amazon, not even a two-liner Wikipedia page.)

From the keyboard magic to the fantastic vocals of lead-singer Joanna Erdos, The Midnight Show is indeed a rarity of talent. It’s also rare that we struggle to muster an appropriate comparison to better-known musical greats in order to put a band’s music in context. But, if we must: Imagine the low notes of Fionna Apple done right, the high notes of Rachael Yamagata layered over the equally excellent piano, all wrapped up in the musical aura of an early Tori Amos.

Joanna Erdos You know what, stop imagining and just go give them a spin.

The Midnight Show is Joanna Erdos (vocals + piano), Jesse Krakow (bass + vocals), and Kevin March (drums + vocals).

Their ridiculously good self-titled debut album is available for the ridiculously low price of $8.91 on iTunes — so start practicing that “best indie band you’ve never heard” spiel for your next dinner party.