The Belle Game’s Solid, Traditional Debut

courtesy of Yours Truly

Like many of you (or at least those who don’t have their ear to the ground in the Vancouver indie scene), my first exposure to The Belle Game came from indie-rock kingmakers Pitchfork, who named their single “River” as a Best New Track earlier this summer. They were right, but to call this band “new” isn’t entirely correct. After amassing much acclaim in Vancouver with two EPs over the course of four years, debut album Ritual Tradition Habit is a chance to cement The Belle Game as a new player in indie-rock (and another chance to prove the good ol’ Pitchfork effect). While it doesn’t quite follow through on the promise of that aforementioned revelation of a track, The Belle Game’s familiar sound lends itself to a solid debut.

A Modest Proposal in Defense of the EP

I’m a Modest Mouse fan–more or less old news, for those who know me–and my recent fixation has been a revolving cycle of classic Modest Mouse songs: “Night on the Sun,” “Here It Comes,” “King Rat,” “All Night Diner”. Except these aren’t classics. In fact, they’re relatively forgotten because none of them is featured on a single LP. Nor is the National’s excellent “Sin-Eaters,”, nor Interpol’s darkly seductive “Specialist,” nor The Decemberists’ 18-minute epic “The Tain.” These are songs that too few people have, because they were relegated to the lowly EP.

In an era in which music is increasingly consumed by either buying single tracks on iTunes or shelling out $25 for an album on vinyl, the half-length EP is often forgotten.

It shouldn’t be.

Michael Pollack and Singing Your Own Lyrics

Michael Pollack has always had confidence behind a piano; only recently did he gain confidence behind a microphone.
Michael Pollack has always had confidence behind a piano; only recently did he gain confidence behind a microphone.

Hello everybody!

My name is Zach Blumenfeld and each Sunday at 9pm central I host The VU Backstage, which features a live performance by and interview with a Vanderbilt student musician.  This week’s guest was Michael Pollack, who gained fame when he played New York State of Mind with Billy Joel on January 30th.  He’s really come a long way from where he was the last time I had him on the show, in February.  Since then, Michael has gone viral on YouTube, appeared on nationally broadcast talk shows like Today and Jeff Probst, recorded and released an eponymous EP, and played in front of a sold-out crowd at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.  If you missed the show, you can catch the whole thing here.

Neko Case Impresses on Stunning Return

A solo artist since the 90s and a core member of the Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers, Neko Case has worn many hats throughout her career.  But while her output has always been strong, her last release—2009’s “Middle Cyclone”—didn’t do much to push the envelope of Case’s sound, and it seemed as though we might’ve seen all she had to offer.  Fortunately, 20 years into her career, Case has crafted her most innovative and engaging album yet.