Found Gems

Bella Ruse

Take Carol Channing, Joanna Newsom and some old wire recordings from the 1940s and you’ll be able to somewhat approximate the antique indie pop of Bella Ruse. Led by the whimsical warble of singer Kay Gillette, the Minneapolis band makes strange bedfellows out of their instrumentation, mixing glockenspiel with piano, guitar, kazoo and typewriter. The music that emerges is jaunty, teasing and a little magical. Gumption & Guts bounces along with kazoo chasing piano, as Gillette declares, This hell I’m living is no worse than knowing / That I just never had the gumption or the guts to try. Romantic satisfaction continues to evade the songstress on Complicated Rhythm, a quirky hodgepodge of tambourine, guitar, piano, trumpet and (again) typewriter that punctuates each lovelorn sentiment with a cheerful ding. There’s a lot to love about Bella Ruse, if you’ve got the gumption and the guts to try them out.



Swing Low

There’s a sort of quiet desperation that permeates the music of Timothy Bracken and yields songs that are pitch perfect for restless nights. The West Virginian manages to conjure a lot of feeling out of just a couple instruments”namely keyboards, acoustic guitars and drums”to create a collection of sleepy-eyed slacker anthems. Overflowing is dreamy, multi-tracked bliss meted out in small installments. Braken’s voice is similar to Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, especially on You Saw Me In The Light, a twilit dreamscape with skittery beats and reverbed vocals. Baseball fans will love the allegory of Dugout, where Bracken warily navigates a doomed relationship, saying, Guess I better put on my helmet before you throw a knuckleball at my head. Love ain’t easy, but it makes for a good song. If Bracken needs to strike out to keep these gems coming, well, batter up.

“Dugout” – Timothy Bracken

Manic Nirvana

Manic Bloom

When Manic Bloom found sudden international fame after providing the soundtrack to the YouTube videos of hoopster sensations Dude Perfect, they had to rely on online translators to communicate with new fans. Their music, on the other hand, speaks a language that’s universal. Technically flawless and tremendously melodic, Manic Bloom crafts total pop-rock seduction. It’s emo on steroids”big, bold, confident but still fraught with angst. Never Back Down crashes down with grinding guitars, thrashing drums, symphonic keys and the powerhouse vocals of David Stevenson. It’s no wonder Dude Perfect chose the track to accompany their impossible basketball shots”few songs are more anthemic. Push Off The Ground is just as impeccably arranged, but darker. Eerie beats give way to a full metal grind while digital textures rain down. Manic Bloom has a lot of ideas, but each is executed beautifully. They shoot, they score”every time.

Captains Of Hook


These are the things you’ll need to love in order to truly appreciate Osgoods: Hooks. Big, ballsy hooks. The Los Angeles-based band purveys quirky, ambitious rock that sounds like the rebellious offspring of Barenaked Ladies, Spacehog and the Flaming Lips. Steady is a plucky, bass-laden groove composed of electronic swirls, grungy guitars and singer Anthony Nigro’s muscular croon. Like much of Osgood’s songcraft, it’s lush, bold and catchy as hell. The band likes to top-load their arrangements with different textures and parts, which makes what would be a straightforward power ballad like You Made It Easy take on a Queen-like grandiosity. Moody blues are served up on My New Excuse, just before a crescendo of blistering guitars solos light the melody on fire. There’s definitely range within Osgood’s musicology; listen closely and you can hear anything from electro-pop to sludge. Staunch rockers, pop lovers with a tolerance for quirk”this band’s for you.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein beat up Sarah McLachlan

We already told you to check out Portlandia, but this time we really mean it. IFC has released a teaser for next week’s episode, and it’s a chortlefest. Watch Carrie and Fred ravage a Sarah McLachlan piñata while their maid, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, tries to intervene.

Nicki Minaj creeps on to SNL

Nicki Minaj is both sexy and macabre, and nowhere do those two sides come together more seamlessly than in SNL‘s new digital short starring The Lonely Island. Watch her do the creep on a corpse, and try not to wish you were the corpse.

The Bad


Now don’t panic, he’s still the same Bieber, only a little deeper. In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, the teen pop star admitted his voice was changing. It’s definitely lower, he says, but I have a great vocal coach who’s helping me. A better Bieber is just on the other side of the puberty rainbow, kids. So don’t stop beliebing.

White Stripes officially break up

After a prolonged hiatus, the White Stripes announced that they will no longer record or perform as a band in a message posted on their Web site. Please know that it’s not because of anything you did. As the message explains, The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health. It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way. Third Man Records will continue to issue recordings from the vault. And Meg and Jack want you to know that they both love you very, very much.

The Ugly

Robbie breaks into Moby’s place

Robbie, in case you didn’t know, is the name of the stranger who broke into Moby’s house in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles. The musician awoke at 7 AM to find Robbie standing in his living room, lost and tripping on acid. That Robbie! Always up to something! To read Moby’s account of the whole experience, go here.



Jesus rock may seem like a niche market, but Christian/gospel music sales last year amounted to nearly half a billion dollars, according to the Christian Music Trade Association. That’s nothing to scoff at, even if your tastes lean towards the more agnostic. Wichita’s The Lost Colors wear their Christianity with pride, but their turbo-charged pop-rock is palatable for both saints and sinners. Say OK begins with big, meaty guitars that send up banks of fuzz for singer Ellie Gorman to power through, while arcs of keys and chugging riffs up the urgency. Turn Around, with its spinning chorus, has just as much aggression, this time turned inward. But Blame veers from introspection to incrimination, challenging the listener to take stock of his or her actions and quit foisting the blame on others. The Lost Colors steep their rock in stormy hues. Which makes sense, because when your soul is at stake, things can sometimes seem a little bit bleak.