Caught in the Net - A lo-fi wall of sound effect

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The Independent Culture

The Morning Benders are a Californian four-piece signed to Rough Trade. In early March their second LP, 'Big Echo' (produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear), will be released. The band, in the months preceding the record, picked up some textbook music blog/viral hype with a video for their song "Excuses", one of their first songs to be heard from the album. The video, shot by San Francisco bloggers Yours Truly, is a simple live studio recording that included a cast of San Francisco's indie musicians, including John Vanderslice and members of Girls. The band and their backing ensemble of vocalists and instrumentalists combine nicely to create a lo-fi "wall of sound" effect. Watch the video at vimeo.com/8322868, while on themorningbenders.com a free mp3 of the album version of the track is available (another song, "Promises", also streams there). The song is an unashamedly romantic and something of a love letter to Phil Spector. Indeed, one of my colleagues considered it "a retro step too far" and I can see his point, but I still liked it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for such niceties.

Anyone for tennis?

Vampire Weekend's ever more ambitious music videos offer a sign of their exalted status. The latest, for "Giving up the Gun", is a bizarre and star-studded affair, which takes place in a futuristic indoor tennis court. In it, a serious looking, red-haired woman takes on all-comers in tennis – with the RZA looking on as umpire (while dressed like a character from 'The Matrix'). The woman plays against, among others, one of the Jonas Brothers and the actor Jake Gyllenhaal, drinking whisky and wearing very short shorts and a headband. Meanwhile, the rapper Lil John offers advice in French from the sidelines. An odd affair. Watch it at bit.ly/9QgvjS.

Broken Social Scene finally return

It's five years since the last full album by the Canadian art-rock collective Broken Social Scene. There have been a few solo records and other projects in between, but they return in May with their fifth full-length record, co-produced with Tortoise's twiddler- in-chief John McEntire. The LP is the literal sounding 'Forgiveness Rock Record'. On their website brokensocialscene.ca, they are giving away the album's first track, "World Sick". It's big, dramatic and pretty good.

Go west for some truly smart sounds

San Francisco music website Yours Truly were behind the celebrated Morning Benders video. Like London's more renowned Black Cab Sessions and the Take Away Shows from Paris, this excellent site combines savvy low-budget video-making with music blogging and old-school fanzine-like devotion/celebration of bands. Follow the site at yourstru.ly and see all their videos at vimeo.com/yourstruly.

A feisty departure

At various points the Canadian singer Feist has been a member, acolyte and friend of Broken Social Scene, though her fame has now surpassed the band's. At a gig last week in Vancouver she debuted a new song; the confident work-out called "He Was Free" can be heard at bit.ly/aAsaCx. Another Broken Social Scene friend – and Feist collaborator – is oddball producer/performer Gonzales, who has flitted from ironic rap to piano with many stops in between. In his current incarnation as Chilly Gonzales, he spent November playing piano in a residency at a club in London. He has more shows lined up in the coming months and is giving away a piano-based mixtape, "Pianist Envy", at Chillygonzales.com.

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