Unless you’re a total music fiend, you need friends to turn you on to new bands–or an unpretentious music blog like Ear Farm. Founded in the East Village three years ago by Matt Tyson (who says the Brooklyn move is imminent) and now co-written with musician Mike Grimes, its eclectic mix of interviews, downloads, reviews and news all reinforce its straight-shooting tagline: “Music information helps grow ears.”
So it was natural for BB to ask Matt to curate a mix tape, comprised entirely of Brooklyn bands, that you can download for free! here>>, or listen to here>>. (You can print the album art too–just click to enlarge first.) He’s even given a little background on each song, so when a friend asks you about Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors or Beat the Devil, you’ll actually have something to say.
1. “Opposite Sides” by The Epochs – Formed by two brothers, electro-rock hybrid band The Epochs could fall into the familiar trappings of trying to add too many layers to their Pro Tools projects (see TV on the Radio), but they don’t. And that’s precisely what makes this band successful: plenty of space for harmony, melody, and ever-shifting beats.
2. “Fuck and Run” by Cassettes Won’t Listen – Last year Cassettes Won’t Listen, aka Jason Drake, released a free EP of covers of songs from the ’90s that featured favorites from Pavement, Butter 08, Blind Melon, Sebadoh, and the Liz Phair classic, “Fuck and Run,” that’s posted here. All of the cover versions from that EP are worth checking out, as is Drake’s most recent effort Small-Time Machine, but none flowed better into the next song than “Fuck and Run.”
3. “The Mule” by Z-Ro, Devin The Dude & Juvenile, remixed by Ratatat – This song, originally a Z-Ro joint, has been masterfully Ratatat’d and is a shining example of two things. #1 – Ratatat Remixes Mixtape Volume 2 is worth seeking out (note: it’s free). #2 – Ratatat should do an album full of songs featuring guest vocalists and rappers. Shit, that would be the shit.
4. “Golden Prize” by Apes & Androids – I was told by a friend in early 2006 that Apes & Androids was a “must see” band, but I didn’t listen. Stupid me. What, I didn’t want a bit more Beck/Queen influence in my life?? Well, now I’m listening — you’re listening — and Androidery abounds as the band continues to build upon their reputation as having one of Brooklyn’s top live shows. See them in person to find out for yourself. Trust me.
5. “Sunrise” by Yeasayer – This is Yeasayer: cerebral tribal rock that rises above flavor of the week status by offering layer upon layer for listeners to peel back and enjoy with each repeated spin. Scrobble. Whatever. Yeasayer’s album All Hour Cymbals has gotten lots of critical attention lately but I still stand by my assertion that their recorded output has yet to fully capture what the band does live. Which is simply another way for me to say “don’t miss them live.”
6. “Plea Bargain” by Beat the Devil – Beat the Devil is easily one of NYC’s top “unknown” bands. By a long shot. They’re unique, visceral, and instantly memorable. If you long for sultry dark dirgey folk rock that climbs into your mind and never lets go (“wow wow, a WOW WOW”), then this is the band you’ve been waiting for. I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t fall in love with this song after hearing it once.
7. “Buy My Product” by Mancino – EAR FARM writer Mike Grimes plays guitar and sings in the band Mancino, so we’ll leave the dissecting of this track to you. But I can tell you this much: it’s included here for the most honest and transparent of reasons, I love the song and I’m willing to bet you will too.
8. “Monolith” by Hopewell – Hopewell literally reaches for the stars with their soaring, anthemic, psychedelic-infused rock. They blend the romantic ambition of Bowie with the spaced-out snarl of Spiritualized and what comes out is pop-rock that’s, in a word, immense. In some ways slightly out of time, Hopewell would’ve been a huge success in the ’70s. Like, sold-out arena huge.
9. “What Would Wolves Do?” by Les Savy Fav – People “know” vocalist Tim Harrington but the real superstar of this band is guitarist Seth Jabour, who alternates between understated rhythms lurking at the back of the mix to insanely catchy lead lines. On last year’s Let’s Stay Friends he helped bring Les Savy Fav out of postpunk-by-numbers and into the realm of truly great.
10. “No More” by Dirty Projectors – This song is taken from the most recent record by Bed-Stuy’s own Dirty Projectors. The record, Rise Above, was Dave Longstreth’s re-imagining of the entire Black Flag album Damaged, apparently from memory and without any revisiting of the original. Which, I suppose, explains the absence of T.V. Party and Life Of Pain. Regardless of what was forgotten, Rise Above is fantastic.
11. “On A Neck, On A Spit” by Grizzly Bear – Grizzly Bear has blown me away, literally, with every step they’ve taken, from Horn of Plenty to Yellow House to the Friend EP to their outstanding cover versions of Paul Simon songs at BAM. “On A Neck, On A Spit” is as fine of an example as any other song as to why myself, Radiohead, and everyone else who hears the band, are such big fans of Grizzly Bear. The sky’s the limit for these guys.
12. “Something of an End” by My Brightest Diamond – My Brightest Diamond is the project of singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden who has been seen performing with Sufjan Stevens. If you like Antony and the Johnsons and/or Joanna Newsom, you’ll love the unique blend of cabaret, chamber music, rock, and opera that is My Brightest Diamond.