Reader, it has been a rough fuckin’ week. Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires,VOLCANOS…If you’re anything like us, you need a break. And, long being students of the ‘Practice What You Blog’ school of thought, we are indeed taking a break. A little later in the week, we’ll be cruising out of town, late summer beats pouring out of rental car speakers as the skyscrapers and work woes shrink behind us. But, being ever-loyal to our dedicated readership, we’re doubling down before we go—proudly presenting you with TWO doses of Wednesday’s helpful home-based hints, Tuesday’s fine-tuned finds, and Monday’s music.First up—the always pleasingly poppy tunes of the esteemed Mates of State, who have a new album out September 13…probably in honor of our anniversary. I mean, I assume. We’re far from alone in possessing a long, long-time admiration for this duo. They rarely disappoint and somehow make the writing of innately emotional, catchy, substantial songs seem effortless. Jackasses.

Last week, we were lucky enough to catch a private show put on by the band’s label, Barsuk, (I know—fancy dancey, right?) that the Mates used as a bit of a tour warm-up and press showcase. In short, they were awesome. More awesome than they’ve been in the past, and they have indeed been very awesome in the past, Reader. The new stuff is built off solid, solid material that sounds unmistakably Mates-of-State-y but not at all redundant or tiresome to long-time fans. And they’re playing with this crazily humorous back-up duo that we’re positive is destined for some sort crime-caper-y spin-off sit-com.

Two of our favorite tracks from the new album, Mountaintops—”Maracas” + “Palomino” (one of this week’s Songs of the Week)—are especially dynamic pieces of music that pull you along from peaks of upbeat bounciness to tiny hollows of intimate melody. Both last week’s showcase and the studio tracks we’ve heard to date have got us hyped for the new LP—which you can pre-order here—and their supporting tour.

Yellow Ostrich • WHALE

Serendipitously enough, our other band of the week, NYC’s Yellow Ostrich, opened last week’s label showcase with a compelling set. We had already heard a track or two from the band prior to the show and liked the sound well enough, but we were especially impressed with how well they translated what came across as heavily produced, complicated studio recordings to their live performance.The hook and focal point for many of the band’s songs is frontman and songwriter Alex Schaaf’s voice. Looped, layered, and woven around and through the musical structure of the songs (skillfully replicated with a looping foot pedal live), the end result is music that’s thickly melodic, benefiting greatly from the harmonies Schaaf builds off of his own voice, ranging from viscerally rough tones to whispered swoons. The band’s got some pretty tight chops own their respective instruments too.
After a while, the layered vocals can get a little tired, causing a bit of a repetitive sound, which is why we were happy to hear the newer songs relying on that technique less than most of the album material. You can order the album on the band’s site and also download a FREE MP3 of their Beat Happening cover, “Left Behind,” which we highly recommend doing.

Alright, corvids out! CAW!