Look out all of you exclamation point using bands, Bitter:Sweet are storming onto the scene to show everyone how cool the colon can be.

When I first heard this L.A. based band, I immediately thought sexy. It’s the type of sexy that you may hear in a James Bond film – playing during the opening credits of the movie. Lead singer Shana Halligan’s voice is swooning, soft, and nearly haunting at times. Their debut album came out at the beginning of April and is starting to pop up on various charts and websites, of course having a gig at Bumbershoot can’t hurt. Although they’re a two-person band, the whole album packs a punch of assorted musical styles, ranging from turntables and violins to trumpets and harps. Nothing like a two-person band that can expand to ten! Needless to say, their unique sound adds up to a musical experience that captivates you with it’s originality.

[MP3] Bitter:SweetThe Mating Game
[MP3] Bitter:SweetDirty Laundry

They just did a set on Morning Becomes Eclectic too, so be sure to check it out. They play a ton of their songs.

[STREAM] Bitter:SweetKCRW: Morning Becomes Eclectic

Their name has to come from Splenda, or something. You know, if you put the right amount of artificial sweetener in your tea (or whatever) it tastes amazing. However, put too much in and it’ll leave a horribly bitter taste in your mouth. Definitely what I’d name my band after, let me tell ya. As always, their MySpace is loaded with more songs and all the Bitter:Sweet information you need. Plus they have a nifty E-Card!

With Bonnaroo exactly a month away, many are preparing their trek to the small city of Manchester, TN. A city that makes a large portion of their annual revenue(s) from the 3-day festival. This will be my second year in attendance and is shaping up to be a memorable one. With 5 weeks separating today and Bonnaroo, I’ll be shelling out a new band per week that you may/may not know about. Maybe you’ll have (yet) another band to see when its all said and done..Who knows? Oh! And if you’re looking for some company at a festival this Summer, see who is going where and hang out with some bloggers!

Most six-piece bands have one of either two paths to travel down: really talented or really awful. Fortunately, Australian band The Cat Empire manage to take the path less traveled. The path fully loaded with talent.

These guys are “kind of a big deal” in Australia, selling out countless shows and racking up accolades ranging from a double platinum debut record to 9 Aria (Aussie version of Grammys) nominations. Their sound is pretty damn unique and will make for an interesting live show. Despite my own reservations for the vocals in their songs, the music they put behind it is great. A jazz/funk/reggae/rock combination that could make the masses dance. They tour the world for 9 months out of the year – so I’m gonna bet they know a few things about making crowds wanna dance.

[MP3] The Cat EmpireHello Hello
Hand claps? Hip hop? Trumpets? This song combines all of the previously mentioned elements and creates a catchy single that you’d find playing at a pool party in Mid-July. Does anyone else notice that Hebrew-like accent?

[MP3] The Cat EmpireSol y Sombra
What starts out as a nice piano melody turns into a seemingly authentic Hispanic song…Minus the whole fact they’re from Australia. The sombrero conscious song hits it’s stride mid-way through the song with a jazz infused piano solo followed up by a brass bit that you would expect to see at Jennifer Lopez’s and Marc Antony’s wedding reception.

[MP3] The Cat EmpireDays Like These
By the time I heard this song, I began to realize how weird/awesome it was going to be watch these guys perform live. Watching them each play their respective instruments would make a decent enough show, let alone watching an Aussie spit out raps from down under.

They recorded their latest CD in Havana, Cuba. So, if you’re thinking that they’re environment plays any impact on their sound, you’re probably thinking correctly. Check out their site for more information and then head over to Bonnaroo’s site for all the last minute news.

In support of his new album, He Poos Clouds, Owen Pallett a.k.a. Final Fantasy has released the album’s first and maybe only single, Many Lives For 49 Mana Points. It includes three b-sides, which Owen calls “knocked-off bastard sons.” Here are two of them:

[MP3] Final FantasyThe Miner Becomes Forgetful
[MP3] Final FantasyJars Of Lars

Find more Final Fantasy MP3s here.
Buy the balls off of He Poos Clouds here.

Bonus MP3:

[MP3] CageDays (rec’d)

A quick post here. Band Of Horses played a short set for KEXP on April 13th. It sounds pretty much like what you’ll find on the album, but it’s worth a listen:

EDIT: Here’s a perfect example of the fact I need to start reading more blogs. Kevin over at So Much Silence kindly made aware the fact that he had not only ripped these songs, but had posted them about a month ago! So, complete credit goes to him, and complete apology comes from me.

[MP3] Band Of HorsesThe Great Salt Lake (Live)
[MP3] Band Of HorsesPart One (Live)
[MP3] Band Of HorsesWicked Gil (Live)
[MP3] Band Of HorsesThe Funeral (Live)

Bonus MP3:

[MP3] We Will BuildDirk

If you didn’t already know, Nathaniel and I are big Elliott Smith buffs. Call it obsession, maybe aided by post-mortum depression, but whatever…anyone that knows Elliott Smith’s music will agree –> it’s pretty hard not to be obsessed. So, for those of you who are admirers, fans, obsessives, and mere advocates alike, these rare, beautiful songs should suit you well:

[MP3] Elliott SmithBrand New Game
This Figure 8-era track was a fan favorite at a lot of his shows…probably because of its unusual (for Elliott) upbeat, rock piano-driven style. There’s some pretty skilled guitar playing in this one, not to mention drumming, etc, considering Smith played all the instruments.

[MP3] Elliott SmithEither/Or (No More)
This is the would-be title track from the Either/Or sessions. It’s a really amazing song, and the organ is a nice addition, but I’d say judging from the rest of the songs that made the album, it’s obvious why it was left off. It’s a shame, too, because it’s such a good song.

[MP3] Elliott SmithSons Into Daughters
Smith really had a knack for low-spirited songs that hit you like a punch in the gut, both lyrically and musically. This one probably came out of his Roman Candle days (originally) although I can’t help but draw connections with the opening lines to Elliott’s crazed dispute with 5-0 outside of that Flaming Lips show…

[MP3] Elliott SmithGoing Nowhere
Here’s one that reappeared in a studio-quality recording in late 2005 with the rest of the “FABOTH II” demos, leading a lot of fans to believe it was a front runner for the originally planned double disc FABOTH. It’s a beautiful, tragic song with Elliott showing once again his superior lyrical and guitar playing abilities.

[MP3] Elliott SmithBaby Britain (Alternate Instrumental)
This simple, beautiful, finger-plucked tune originally debuted in the 1997 documentary Lucky Three, showcasing Elliott in his private recording sessions. This is the original music behind “Baby Britain” which Elliott later replaced with the more rocking, piano-driven version we all know from XO.

[MP3] Elliott SmithStained Glass Eyes
This is probably my favorite unreleased Elliott Smith song… I’d say it’s most likely about Elliott’s deviation from whatever social norms he sees as constructed around him…but knowing Elliott, there’s probably so much more to it that I’m missing. In any event, the line “They can’t be people, not if I’m one / If I have to be like them I’d rather be no one” gets me every time.

[MP3] Elliott SmithTaking A Fall
Another Either/Or-era track that emerged again with the FABOTH II demos. If you can guess it, this song is pretty much about what the title suggests, with the usual metaphor. Not as strong as the others, and a little repetitive, but a good rarity nonetheless.

[MP3] Elliott SmithNo Life
Here’s another rock-ish Figure 8-era demo. It’s too late for me to have the volume loud enough to hear the lyrics well enough to interpret the song (deep breath), so…anyone wanna give a crack at it?

[MP3] Elliott SmithFigure 8
Here’s a Schoolhouse Rock-type song that was included as a b-side to the “Son Of Sam” single. A really eerie, winding, mystery of a song…that at least proves Elliott’s math ability. Reminds me a lot of “Bye” which I’ve come to like more and more upon each subsequent listen.

Bonus MP3:

[MP3] DangerDoomKorn Dogs (NEW! and highly rec’d)