Caught in the Net: Slow-burn charms from a brainy band


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The Independent Culture

In Twin Hand Movement, the Baltimore band Lower Dens released one of the best albums of 2010; a quietly insinuating art-rock record that only revealed its full charms after several listens, which is perhaps why it didn't get the full attention it deserved.

On 30 April, the five-piece return with their second album, Nootropics – the advance blurb comes with talk of trans-humanism and technology, which makes me a little wary. Regardless, "Brains", the first track revealed from the LP, sustains the high standards. Guitars quietly churn while an electronic pulse drives the track, with understated vocals from bandleader Jana Hunter. The MP3 is available at

Break the bank for a big Bird release

The always interesting US singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird has a new album out in March called Break It Yourself. As is the fashion at the moment, on his website a fancy limited-edition version of the record – 1,000 copies only – is being sold ahead of the full release including vinyl, CD, a DVD film, artwork and "custom-designed stamps and paper" (well, why not?). Meantime, he's dropped the first song from the LP, an indie-anthemic number called "Eyeoneye", which is on his site and at

A comeback worth the wait in gold

It's almost four years since Santogold caused a commotion with some storming singles, and a debut album that fused electronica, pop, hip-hop, dancehall and new-wave moves. She's since tweaked her name to Santigold, and finally returns with a new album, Master of My Make Believe, in the spring. She recently showcased a blaring new single, "Big Mouth"; it comes on like a more hepped-up version of her previous work, and is available free at The semi-animated video for the song seems aesthetically inspired by the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and other early-1990s endeavours; see it at

Hey Mr DJ, load a record up

Every couple of months a new music website seems to pop up to get people excited: last year, a lot of Americans chattered about, a social-media site that allowed people to share music with others in the style of an online DJ. It's yet to get licencing to operate on this side of the world. Another site getting attention is Again it's social media-based, allowing users to showcase their favourite song of the moment – hence "this is my jam". Currently it's only in Beta but you can sign in using a Facebook or Twitter account. And, in keeping with the site, my "jam" this week would be "Brains" by Lower Dens.