Expensive Looks: “Nothing More” (Vimeo)

Brooklyn-based imprint Group Tightener recently released “Dark Matter,” the latest recording from chill wavers Expensive Looks. Yesterday Pitchfork didn’t much like the cut of Alec Feld’s jib, but I think they undersell this slice of moody, skittering electronica. Check out the appropriately shaky and diffusely ordered video for “Nothing More” below.

Cuddle Magic readies 3rd LP for release

After finishing school, New England Conservatory of Music graduates find all sorts of ways to collaborate together: orchestras, recording sessions, chamber music, etc. Members of the indie band Cuddle Magic met while studying at NEC. They’ve taken the classical chops they honed in Boston and brought them into a hybridized chamber pop scenario that owes as much of a debt to Steve Reich and Moondog as it does to Beirut and Animal Collective.

Now based in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Cuddle Magic is preparing Info Nympho, its third CD, for release on FYO Records. It combines classical instrumentation with a penchant for 80s keyboards (including the vintage Casio seen in the video below), whimsical toy instruments, and honey-sweet vocal harmonies.

Much of this is captured in the close-miked immediacy of apartment recording. But the band has also been recording at Old Soul Studio in the Catskills, enlisting the help of toy pianist extraordinaire Phyllis Chen (video below). They also guested on Chen’s recent Uncaged Toy Piano Festival. Both Chen and Cuddle Magic are able to re-purpose unorthodox materials to create music that employs a light touch, but is never lightweight.

Courtesy of the band, here’s a free download of album track Moby Dickless.

Wintry greetings from itsnotyouitsme (video)

Everybody’s Pain is Magnificent
New Amsterdam Records

Grey McMurray and Caleb Burhans have been performing together as itsnotyouitsme since 2003. In the past five years, they have released three recordings. Their latest, Everybody’s Pain is Magnificent is a sprawling double album set of material. It celebrates the gradual developing soundscapes and lushly ambient sonics that are signatures the group’s sound. Unlike many ill-fated double albums, which run out of steam or seem padded, EPiM requires the extra time to develop its sweeping musical architectures and allow the listener to luxuriate, bathed in the music’s honeyed harmonies and finely spun textures. It’s been in heavy rotation in these parts this Fall. If you haven’t heard it, you are missing out on one of 2011′s most rewarding ambient treasures.

Below, the band shares a ‘wintry’-sounding video of a recent live performance.

New Amsterdam kicks off 2011 Fundraiser

New Amsterdam Presents 2011 Funding Drive from New Amsterdam Records on Vimeo.

New Amsterdam Records started its 2011 Fundraiser today.

In addition to giving listeners the opportunity to contribute to the continuing vitality of an imaginative imprint, NewAm is also offering free downloads. Every day from December 5-9, a different release from their catalog will be available for free download. Below is an embed of today’s offering: Sarah Kirkland Snider’s beguiling Penelope.

Nova Scotian Arms: “Navigation (Devotional)” (Video)

Saturday listening

Steve Smith shared a variety of links about ambient drone artist Nova Scotian Arms yesterday via  twitter. And when Night After Night praises something, it’s smart to take notice!

NOVA SCOTIAN ARMS – Navigation (Devotional) from Camilla Padgitt-Coles on Vimeo.

Nova Scotian Arms have released a new double cassette, Winds Over Silmäterä, via Hooker Vision.

Katharine Whalen: “Madly Love” (Video)

Director/Cinematographer: Harvey K Robinson
Burst Photographer: Harvey K Robinson
Time Lapse Photographer: Carolyn de Berry

Shot on location in Efland, NC.

©monkeywhale productions, 2011

Katharine Whalen and Her Fascinators
Madly Love
Tiny Human

On September 27th, ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers vocalist Katharine Whalen releases her first CD in nearly five years. Those who associate Whalen with her nineties hits may be in for a surprise: a pleasant one! Madly Love encompasses her diverse musical interests, incorporating jazz, acoustic roots music, and avant pop. She’s joined by the Fascinators, an enthusiastic trio of musicians. Guitarist Nathan Golub, drummer Brad Porter, and multi-instrumentalist William Dawson are fine players, capable of negotiating the various stylistic twists and turns found on Madly Love. The record’s ready supply of songs both whimsical and substantial makes it an engaging listen. Whalen’s extraordinarily rich voice and captivating delivery draws one to return to the CD again and again.