wears the trousers magazine

free music friday: the pack a.d.
March 5, 2010, 10:11 am
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The Pack a.d.

Right from the moment the bass dunk-dunk-dunk arrives amidst the grating fuzz of ‘Crazy’, it’s clear that The Pack a.d., Vancouver’s rawest and buzziest duo, aren’t holding anything back third time around. A gem of the grittiest kind, the song teeters on White Stripes messiness but retains enough composure to keep driving and driving its hooks into our heads. A perfect retort to those who still brainlessly contest the ability of women to really rock hard, The Pack a.d. make it look so easy, so effortless. There’s a fantastic energy to ‘Crazy’, building throughout the song’s duration to reach a passionate, climactic ending with shrieks and grunts. There’s also one hell of a chorus, which benefits from Becky Black’s fearless and brilliant vocal performance. New album We Kill Computers is due May 3 through Mint Records. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday: rah digga
March 5, 2010, 9:56 am
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Rah Digga
‘Warning Shots’

Much-missed rapper Rah Digga announced her imminent comeback this week with this aptly named free download. Just over two minutes of tight, swaggering salutations, it’s a taster to whet appetites in anticipation for her upcoming album, tentatively titled The Big 10, which is set for a late spring/summer release through Raw Koncept Records. The release will be managed from end to end by producer Nottz, whose resumé includes hip hop giants such as Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes, an erstwhile colleague of Digga’s since her induction into the Flipmode Squad in the late ’90s. Previous to this, Rah Digga had been a member of Outsidaz, a New Jersey clique who made their brief mark on the mainstream through a close association with Lauryn Hill’s former outfit The Fugees. According to Raw Koncept, ‘Warning Shots’ will not be included on the eleven-track album, which is being touted rather boldly as a “female Illmatic”. It will mark the New Jersey MC’s first release since her 2000 debut Dirty Harriet, which is widely regarded as a classic. Watch this space for more news. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday: alessi’s ark
February 26, 2010, 10:07 am
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Alessi’s Ark
‘Hands In The Sink’

Not a track from her upcoming EP, Soul Proprietor (due April 5), but a wee little taster for the forthcoming 21-track compilation from Communion, the popular club night turned music community formed by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, Cherbourg’s Kevin Jones and producer Ian Grimble in 2006, ‘Hands In The Sink’ is a soft acoustic ditty about the humble joys of domesticity from Alessi Laurent-Marke. It’s slight but charming, and slots in nicely with other featured tracks from the likes of Peggy Sue, Johnny Flynn, Jeremy Warmsley and Broadcast 2000, to name but a few. The compilation, out Monday, also features tracks from a couple of ladies who are new to our ears: Elena Tonra and Rachel Sermanni – check them out. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday: the new pornographers
February 26, 2010, 10:01 am
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The New Pornographers
‘Your Hands (Together)’

On listening to the first few seconds of ‘Your Hands (Together)’, you would be forgiven for thinking you had just tuned into the latest incarnation of ‘CSI’. The Who-esque opening guitar riff promises to take you on a journey to an anthemic climax, but sadly the trip is cut short by a slightly repetitive beat which never quite steps up to the desired level. The two lead vocals are the highlight of the track; perfectly harmonised and complementing each other in both tone and attack, together Carl Newman and Neko Case create a veritable feast for your eardrums. While the thundering bass keeps the momentum for a time, the classic rock guitar riffs would benefit from some melodic counterpart. This is not true air-guitar fodder but does a fine job of raising the heart rate, if not the sign of the horns. ‘Your Hands (Together)’ is taken from the band’s forthcoming album Together, out May 4 through Matador. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday (ish): charlotte martin
February 20, 2010, 10:16 am
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Charlotte Martin
‘Tremble’ (acoustic)

It’s been four years since Charlotte Martin last released an album of all-new material but she’s been far from unproductive. A steady flow of fan-pleasing EPs and rarities bundles, 2007’s covers collection Reproductions and regular touring have kept her musically active, while caring for her young son, born in 2008, has inevitably diverted some of the focus away from her music. ‘Tremble’ is one of several new songs written for an as yet untitled fourth album (including the intriguingly titled ‘Sluts & Bitches’), work on which was interrupted last October by Charlotte’s sustaining a serious rib injury but is now back on with a view to a summer release. A notoriously intense and fiery performer, whose studio output has grown increasingly layered and complex, it’s likely that this acoustic piano version will sound nothing like the final product, but the foundations are solid. A love song that edges on a deep catharsis, it’s a simple and sensitive evocation of the power of having total faith in another person, hinting at the ruin that their absence might herald. “The record has taken a dramatic turn since I started back to work and it’s turning out quite dark. Something I’m not opposed to at all since it’s saving me money on a shrink. Although, I might get a shrink too,” writes Charlotte on her blog. Sounds good to us. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday (ish): tracey thorn

Tracey Thorn
‘Oh, The Divorces!’

As one half of Everything But The Girl, Tracey Thorn’s distinct vocal presence helped spawn some of the finest boy/girl harmonies of the ’80s and ’90s. Continuing the momentum of a long-forgotten solo career she resurrected in 2007 with the critically acclaimed Out Of The Woods, ‘Oh, The Divorces!’ acts as a teaser for her forthcoming release Love & Its Opposite (May 17). The horribly cutesy title may seem slightly too naïve for such a seasoned professional, and the subject matter itself comes off sounding a little smug given Thorn’s long-term romance with husband and Everything But The Girl collaborator Ben Watt, but the song is not without its merits. There is no questioning the beauty and simplicity of Thorn’s soothing voice, especially when accompanied by the contrast of gentle piano plinks and soaring string arrangements. But perhaps a quick call to the hubby to provide some sorely missed harmonies would have given a much needed prod to this inoffensive little number. MP3 after the jump.

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[updated] free music friday: marissa nadler
February 12, 2010, 8:33 pm
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Marissa Nadler
‘I Love My Man’ [demo]

UPDATE: You can now download the finished version of ‘I Love My Man’ from Pitchfork as a preview of the forthcoming Amnesty International benefit album Peace, an epic compilation curated by Buffet Libre and featuring artists from 56 countries around the world. It’s available from March 1. Read all about it here.

When Wears The Trousers interviewed Marissa Nadler for our issue 7 feature, we asked her whether her music was becoming a bit less deathly considering that her newest release Little Hells had a noticeably lower body count than previous albums, which she thought was pretty funny. “Lately I have been writing tonnes of songs, and they are all about situations and about living people,” she reassured us. A few months later we started hearing of a new romantic element to Marissa’s latest compositions, and rumours that the general feel of the next record might in fact be more lovestruck than lovelorn.

Over the last week or so, followers of Marissa on Twitter have been treated to an exclusive listen to a demo of a new song with the working title ‘Love Song 2’, so we thought we’d pass it on to the rest of you. All the hallmarks of Marissa’s unique sound are there, even in this simple home recording, with beautifully finger-picked acoustic guitar and that spectral, timeless voice, but it’s easy to imagine how it might come alive with a full band studio treatment if it ever gets one. The lyrics tell of spiritually uplifting visits to old burial grounds and New England towns with a man the narrator loves “like I was your darling wife”. But it’s not all sweet nothings. It gets a bit existentialist towards the end as Marissa sings (I think), “Farewell then world, I’ve had enough of thee / and now I’m careless, wilt thou save me?” – all in all, a very promising glimpse at what might be to come. MP3 after the jump

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free music friday: anaïs mitchell
February 12, 2010, 5:21 pm
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Anaïs Mitchell
‘Flowers (Eurydice’s Song)’

We’ve been harping on about Anaïs Mitchell’s new album Hadestown for well over a year now, so it’s with great pleasure that we’re finally able to bring you a freebie from it. It’s worth reiterating first that this project was originally conceived and performed as a stage musical based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, retelling the tale from the perspective of a commercially exploited Depression-era mining town seen through a vintage futurism lens. It then took on a life of its own in the recording studio with a hugely impressive cast of characters. With Greg Brown as Hades, King of the Underworld, Ani DiFranco as his wife Persephone, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver as Orpheus, Anaïs as Eurydice, The Low Anthem’s Ben Knox Miller as the messenger Hermes, the original Hadestown cast as the Chorus, and Petra, Rachel and Tanya Haden (aka The Haden Triplets) as the Fates, Hadestown has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and it’s definitely an album that demands to be heard in one sitting.

In ‘Flowers (Eurydice’s Song)’ – the only solo Anaïs track on the album – we find Eurydice in the throes of a deep regret, having been lured into Hadestown on the promise of a better life. Here she pines for the natural beauty of the world outside the walls of the industrial hell of Hadestown (“Flowers, I remember fields of flowers / soft beneath my heels / walking in the sun”), and for her husband Orpheus. Beautifully orchestrated by Michael Chorney, it’s magical stuff. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday: the pipettes
February 12, 2010, 4:55 pm
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The Pipettes
‘Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen’

Pity The Pipettes? It all seemed to go so improbably right for a short while, when the likes of ‘Pull Shapes’ and ‘Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me’ were soundtracking every indie-pop club night in the country, but just a few years later a reputation-decimating revolving door of members seemed to leave them up shit creek. Now fronted by sole remaining member Gwenno Saunders and her sister Ali, ‘Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen’ is their stab at clawing back some of that glory and, you know, it’s a bit of a grower. As the decade has turned, so have The Pipettes moved on; instead of ’60s girl-group faux naiveté, here they’re playing on a 1970s sci-fi vibe – just as kitsch but perhaps a little bit more grown up. A little. The song itself doesn’t quite carry itself all the way through, occasionally lapsing into a generic backbeat, and Ani’s vocals take a bit of getting used to, but it’s altogether twinkly and sweet and proves that The Pipettes can’t yet be written off. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday: the caitlin rose edition

Caitlin Rose presents
a Free Music Friday special

This Friday we’ve done things a little differently by inviting our favourite hard-talking, fast-drinking country singer – the mighty Caitlin Rose of Nashville, Tennessee – to pick five songs she loves and tell us about them. With her 2008 EP Dead Flowers finally getting a well-deserved UK release next Monday through Names Records (the rave reviews are pouring in) and the promise of a full-length album in the not too distant future, Caitlin looks set to have a storming 2010. You can download the EP’s opening track ‘Shotgun Wedding’ here to see what all the fuss is about while you check out her playlist, where tracks from fellow Nashville songwriter Tristen and the ever fabulous Pepi Ginsberg rub shoulders with those of – gasp! – menfolk like Justin Townes Earle, Deer Tick and Jonny Corndawg.

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