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Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Cool Yourself

Review of Thao With The Get Down Stay Down’s Know Better Learn Faster and giveaway

Photo By Tarina WestlundTarina WestlundWhen I wrote up Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s last album We Brave Bee Stings And All back in August of last year, I gave it a net stamp of approval, with Thao Nguyen’s exuberant delivery and energy making up for my concerns about the tendency oof her voice to wander from pitch – certainly, that woozy enthusiasm was part of her charm, but I’m a bit of a stickler on that.

So I’m pleased to be able to report that the follow-up Know Better Learn Faster somehow manages to not set off those klaxons while not losing any of her distinctive character. No, it’s not that she’s discovered the joys of autotune but simply that the melodies on Know Better are less given to wander, the songs tighter and more focused and the album simply better. And amazingly, she’s done it while expanding the band’s sonic palette and without dialing down the enthusiasm. “Cool Yourself” is an upbeat, horn-driven pop gem while “When We Swam” is a coy and even slinky bit of doo-wop, and that only touches on the range of styles covered on the record, all delivered with the right balance of biting wit and sensitive underbelly. It’s be easy to miss out on the musical sophistication at work due to the raw and live production aesthetic and Nguyen’s strong presence up front, but repeated listens do bring those extra details and touches to the fore and enrich what’s already a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down are at the El Mocambo on November 1 and I’m excited that after a year and a half of near misses both here and at SxSW, I’ll finally be able to catch their much-praised live show for myself. Tickets are $12 in advance, but courtesy of Kill Rock Stars, REMG and Toolshed, I have three pairs of passes to give away to the show and for those who can’t go, two autographed copies of Know Better Learn Faster on CD up for grabs. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to Get Down Stay Down” in the subject line and full name in the body. And note whether you’re gunning for the passes or the CD – the former are available to anyone who can get to the El Mocambo next Sunday night, the CD to residents of North America. Contest closes at midnight, October 28.

Paste and The Oregonian have interviews with Thao Nguyen.

MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Cool Yourself”
MySpace: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

Pitchfork has details on the forthcoming third album from Beach House. Teen Dream, the duo’s first for SubPop, will be out on January 26 and come with a DVD featuring a video for each song on the record.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews The Anters while BrooklynVegan gets Peter Silberman of The Antlers and Sharon Van Etten of Sharon Van Etten to interview each other.

Boise Weekly chats themselves up some Dodos.

Death & Taxes discusses matters of cosmic and civic importance with Sufjan Stevens.

Paste catches up with Nels Cline of Wilco.

Philadelphia Weekly talks to St Vincent’s Annie Clark, who has diligently been adding to her tour videos collection on her blog.

NPR has a World Cafe session with Patterson Hood available to stream.

Grant Hart, ex of Husker Du, will be at the Horseshoe on December 14 in support of his new solo record Hot Wax, tickets $10.50.

NPR expresses their acronym solidarity by streaming the whole of R.E.M.’s new live record Live At The Olympia in advance of its release this coming Tuesday, October 27.

Stream: R.E.M. / Live At The Olympia

Uptown has a cover feature on Dan Mangan.

Pitchfork reports that The Week That Was and School Of Language have officially been backburnered as the Brewis brothers have reunited as Field Music, and will release a double-album entitled Measure on February 16.

MP3: Field Music – “Measure”

And to help maintain the cosmic balance of British bands in active duty, The Rakes have announced they’re calling it quits effective immediately, thus scuppering their North American tour which was due to stop at the Mod Club in Toronto on November 9. It might have sounded a little like this.

MP3: The Rakes – “That’s The Reason”

The Scotsman interviews Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season. They are at Massey Hall on November 2.

The Hollywood Reporter says that The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn is working on the film adaptation of Chuck Klosterman’s first novel, Fargo Rock City. It’s a pairing so perfect that when I first read it, I barely reacted – it was like, “well of course he is”.

By : Frank Yang at 8:21 am
Category: General

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