Frankie Welfare Boy Age 5/Age of Octeen/Movie Music Vol. 1 & 2 Vinyl Reissues (Polyvinyl, 04.2010)
Friday, April 30, 2010
Frankie Welfare Boy Age 5/Age of Octeen/Movie Music Vol. 1 & 2 Vinyl Reissues (Polyvinyl, 04.2010)
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Froot Da Loop (Never Come Down, 04.2010)
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Prespring (self-released, 2010)
For: Múm, Air, Sigur Rós
Byline: From Russia with love.... lots of love.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: timeliness. It really is an essential component to the blogosphere... one that I haven’t always been the best about, admittedly. But for the Russian outfit known as 2muchachos, it felt somehow more consequential to get this little gem into your hot little hands sooner rather than later—it’s not as much about staying on top of new music here as it is about pure seasonality and relevance as this debut EP couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It’s appropriately called “Prespring,” and the short, four song collection is a soft, windy, drizzly affair, that is somehow also uplifting and warm. Think of it as a windbreaker album. 2muchacho’s light guitar work and mellow bedroom synths are best experienced outside as it almost feels like some of this was recorded there—a breeze blows by the microphone, or a babbling brooke bubbles by the duo sitting in the grass, perhaps, pawing casio keyboards and gently harping acoustic guitar strings. Though 2muchachos find a comfortable nook in methodic ambience, the ticking clock of time measures these compositions into structured forms, bringing the band’s sound closer to the realm of Icelandic slow core like Sigur Rós. Or, when factoring in the much more subdued, delicate touch the band employs and its mastery of pastoral bliss, more precisely still might be Múm. But the best part about Prespring is how little effort it takes to “get” the music. Everything is so simple and pure, and based on a solid foundation of gorgeous melodic motifs that almost feel personally channeled through your consciousness. This works in so many situations—throw it on the ol’ iPod, and enjoy at sunrise, on a spring bike ride, or beneath a starry night sky and feel your worries melt away. Clocking in at just under 20 minutes in length, coupled with the fact that it’s free, makes this (easily) the easiest listen of the year so far. Be on the lookout for a full-length from the band to be released on Parallax Sounds in the coming months.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans, 04.2010)
Monday, April 26, 2010
Daughters (03.2010, Hydra Head)
...Daughters is universally described as the group’s most accessible album, and it is easy to see why. For all the lucid pop moments, however, Daughters takes these steps with great trepidation. Howling shout-along choruses are squelched by ferocious math freak-outs as quickly as they come up. Tight grooves that plod along effortlessly are torn apart by atonal blasts of noise and then recycled later in the song. This uncertainty is spelled out in Sadler’s guitar work, which grinds and grates with malevolent ferocity, but is often layered with the same kind of pop sheen that make bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and Torche relatively easy on the ears.
On tracks like “The Hit,” the terror-inducing squeals of dentist drill guitars are gone, replaced with melodic thrash-metal lines that arc above the frantic dissonance reproducing beneath the surface. Moves like this signify explorations into greater accessibility rather than a total surrendering of ideals. They are quickly and self-consciously muzzled the next second with pummeling blast beats and cheese grater guitar work. For a brief moment it works, even if under the scrutiny of the rest of the band
The push-pull tendencies between accessibility and a ne’er-do-well wall of noise render some of the album’s most thrilling moments. “The First Supper” turns big, dumb power chords into a squall of processed art-noise, like The Refused used to do during a song’s epic breakdown. “The Theatre Goer” comes about as close to a guitar solo as grindcore ever does—although the solo is essentially Sadler vs. the amplifier, accruing massive amounts of feedback while he quite literally strangles his guitar. Despite the grind-heavy intro, “Sweet Georgia Brown” is a trashy-bluesy strut that showcases Marshall’s rockabilly-swagger like James Chance on acid...
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Person Number (Circle Into Square, 2010)
For: The Notwist, Boy in Static, Magnetic Fields
Byline: Around the world, back in time, and straight into your subconscious—Consulate General’s melodies go just about everywhere.
It’s not likely you’ve heard the name “Consulate General” in your weekly indie-nerd sewing-circles. Yet. You may, however, recognize the name Alexander Chen, who is this relatively new project’s mastermind, also of a certain TOME fav known as Boy in Static, previously gushed upon (and rightfully so) by our wonderful command-itor-in-chief Ryan Hall sometime last year. This guy also has ties to the Anticon crew, made friends with pop-tronic gurus the Notwist, and boasts contributors like Montag and Slowdive on his record. It’s pretty much a bulletproof formula for success. And yes, it’s working—we couldn’t be more proud that he’s offered us this opportunity to share his music with you.
If I were to start describing this record’s ghostly undertones, electronically looped beats, nervous scritches and scratches, and fiddling string twangs, you may get the wrong idea. Yes, these elements all flood Person Number’s diverse patchwork of instruments, but they do so in a way that is light, melodious, and though often twinged with the bitter-sweet sting of melancholy, the Consulate General never treads far into the dark and mysterious. This is, at its core, a pop record top to bottom—uniquely composed, challenging, and thought provoking, sure, but endlessly relatable and accessible. Person Number deftly marries meticulous arrangements of everything from strings to playful keyboards (including glockenspiels, synths, electric and toy pianos) to wind instruments with an aching nostalgia for styles like doo-wop and (quite miraculously) even European classical forms. The cake’s icing is the voice: meek and modest, pitch-perfect, and sounds filtered through AM radio. One of the best musical elements—and this is subtle—is that everything is linearly constructed. Each instrument plays contrapuntally with the mix (even drums play a role in melodic development) as pieces and parts overlap, but with a sense of considerate economy, offering a sparse and varied texture throughout. The record morphs from instrumental tracks like "Liesa Lietzke" (which will undoubtedly have you mouthing the words “Duke of Earl” alongside) to the beautiful, soft balladry of “Have You Seen My Girl,”—a touching lament of a lost pup or a lost love (maybe both... I haven’t decided), to the ingenious tango-feel of “Sweet Solano.” Thankfully, there’s also juuuuust enough “indie pop” here to keep things relevant in 2010.
Admittedly, the first two tracks didn’t strike me as anything too special upon first listen. But as a casual spin slowly turned into a downright obsessive listening regimen, it’s become clear there’s not a single weak track to be found. One of the best s—... Alright, screw it. I’m gonna lay my cards down now: “Half-Day Honeymoon” is the reason God invented the repeat button. The song is composed around a pair of slinky plucked violin patterns that sound almost like a Japanese shamisen (likely because the melodies have an Asian undertone to them) and has a stately tempo that marches forth but steps ever so softly, so sweetly with its flutes and horns and vocal harmonies and well... in three words: So, so nice.
Overall, you’d be hard pressed to find a more unique album in the realm of “pop” this year. Come for the pop, stay for the laughs, the sobs, the sighs, and the endearing, earnest, and honest sentiments contained within. You can order this (and please do) from the Consulate General’s website linked below. There’s also an interactive toy on the site that makes me feel like a kitten with a ball of yarn. Just look at those strings vibrate! Woo!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
203 (Sunrise Acoustics, 04.2010)
"The one upside to having a bone in your wrist start dying is that when you barely play the guitar like a normal person anyway, what's the big deal? I got the idea to keep recording when I was watching a friend's apartment. He had a pedal steel that I started plucking on. The goal was to see what I could accomplish without my wrist."
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Collider / Monochrome 7” Split (Fire Talk / Din Records)
For: Acid Mothers Temple, Sonic Youth, Comets on Fire
Byline: Denver serves up a platter of psychedelic rock at its finest. This year’s worst trip is also its best.
Wow, sorry about the lack of posts lately. It’s a good thing Ryan is so on top of stuff... but seriously, look at this first page. I’m squeezing this in just before my last one fell off the roll. Yikes. Rest assured, I’ve been sitting on a mountain of stuff that should get—NAY—needs to be posted, all of it well worth your time, so I’ll start chipping slowly away. I swear you’ll be hearing from me more often in the future. I promised Ryan Consulate General would come first... but this particular post is loooong overdue, and it’s just too good to pass up.
Ahoy - Denver, Colorado! Best known in recent years for producing... the Fray... this town is actually a pretty hip place to catch some progressive live music. Being in the center of the country has its disadvantages, for sure (Lord... the ocean, how I miss thee), but one cool thing is that a “scene” here doesn’t revolve around a single venue or a single style of music as it does with many other cities around our fair motherland. People come in from coast to coast to share their music with us, and this fact coupled with the undying diversity harbored by the amazing interwebs has allowed for a truly multi-faceted, colorful spectrum of music to emerge from the Mile High city. We’ve got our share of glo-fi here, we’ve got our share of new wave, we’ve got our share of experimental, we’ve got our share of hip hop, we’ve got our share of indie, we've got our share of folk, and we’ve got our share of psychedelic... and boy, do we ever have our share of psychedelic rock bands. Chief among the best of them are represented here on this wonderful 7” disc released this past February. Fissure Mystic wrote in their blog that each copy comes complete with its own hit of LSD. Even if they’re joking... uhmm... actually, they might not be joking. Order one for yourself and see. For $5, it’s worth checking.
“Collider” fills the Tjutjuna side of the disc, and is a Fire Talk release. Haven’t heard of Fire Talk, eh? You have now, and rest assured you’ll be hearing more from them. It’s a tape-only (well, and apparently 7”s are OK) label started by another Denver band, Woodsman, who just released an excellent full-length album on Mexican Summer. “Collider” isn’t so much a song as it is an interstellar journey at light speed with an untraceable warp signature. It's got an internal clock of its own that ticks unrelentingly forward towards an infinite apocalypse without blinking. The bass and drums hold this cyclone of sound down as long as possible before the entire mix is swept up in a maelstrom of breathtaking noise and chaos, only to lock back in moments later without so much as skipping a beat or looking back on the destruction caused in its wake. Lucky for us, they do this, like, three times, and each is successively orgiastic. Instruments are squeezed and shrieked beyond belief, breathing a living force into guitars that are haunted and tortured, and like being that way.
“Monochrome” is the Fissure Mystic side, and it’s a whale of a song. Transitioning nicely from the whirlwind Tjutjuna side, the track starts with a gnarly guitar lick matched note for note by pummeling snares and toms before leading into a magnificent sigh of a release—a throbbing half-time jam. Here the Fissures display the sweet side of psychedelia with a beautiful vocal melody rife with melancholia. The best music should be able to take you from majestic highs to devastating lows within minutes, and Fissure Mystic manages to do this several times over in a single track. Heavy syncopation propels the chorus, lifting the song into unforeseen heights before plummeting again into its coasting refrain with a giant splash. Everything’s given plenty of gestation time before the nightmarish opening riff returns for a final blast into oblivion.
And that, my friends, is how they do it in Denver. But you don’t have to take my word for it, head over to your local Fire Talk website and grab yourself a copy. You can hear these tunes on the bands’ respective MySpace pages, but this one is absolutely best when taken as the big ol’ pill o’ wax it was meant for. Swallow this one whole and fly high. You won’t regret it. (♪ Da-dun DUN! ♪)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Pumps! (Vice, 04.2010)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Oversteps (Warp, 02.2010)
Read full review at www.inyourspeakers.com
...Beats on Oversteps have their place in recognizable musical patterns before they are dissected, put through a washing machine of delays and tempo changes, and spit out the other side. Rhythms range from the tight-fisted two-step of the album opener to oriental gamelan clank-and-clatter of “known-1,” to ambient beatless synth-scapes on “see on see.” The beats do, however, do follow some prescribed musical expectations. The rearview-mirror-shaking bass devastates the lowest frequencies with fuzz on the cracked, hip-hop inspired “Treale.” One of their more inviting numbers “d-sho qub” replaces heavy synth washes with sampled vocal loops over an 8-bit melodic line in the almost tropical sounding dub.
There are moments when Oversteps actually sounds like a battleground where human musical statements are stymied by a sense of non-linear editing. Synth- lines are cut short before they reach their climax on “r ess,” the melody on “known-1” is punched full of holes, siphoned through a tiny sieve, picked apart, displaced and then resurrected as a Frankenstein’s Monster of barely recognizable snippets and discarded odds-and-ends. With moves this meticulous, it is difficult to imagine computers possessing this level of aesthetic awareness or the obvious joy of discovery that Brown and Booth geek out over.
Oversteps, for all of its seemingly aleatory elements, is still very much programmed, directed, even played by two human beings. Who knows when Autechre is going to run their course, but after another two decades of making music we may be able to look back to Oversteps as a cumulative statement in which the term “electronic artist” actually made sense.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Memory Static (Self-Released, 2010)
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Christie Front Drive/Boy's Life split 10" (Crank!, 1995)
3 Steps to Quitting: The Voyage to Nowhere (Killer Buds, 2010)
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Black Sands (Ninja Tune, 03.2010)
After a warm up of gorgeous ascending strings and a descending piano line, “Kiara” starts mid rave-up. A glitched-out beat gallops into the mix riding a cut-up vocal sample, before the repeated violin sample introduced in the intro sweeps back into the track with dynastic glory. While the violin is an oft and easily sampled standard, Bonobo waits for “Kong” to showcase what he can do with a live band at his disposal. A slinking bass-line and steady drumming step out from behind their timekeeping roles and become the true vehicles of the track, propelling Green’s orchestral compositions on one hand and his Massive Attack throw-back programming and live turntable scratches on the other....
...For as undeniably solid as Black Sands is, the last two tracks “Animals” and “Black Sands” are more than worth the price of admission. Both sound the most “live” on the album, with Green settling comfortably into the role of band leader more than a producer. The jazzy swing, “Animals” showcases the proggy leanings of late seventies jazz-fusion while “Black Sands” pulls off an elegiac, traditional folk waltz composed of acoustic guitars and alto-saxophones and trumpets to reach a thrilling climax. This is Green in top form.
With every listen and in writing this review, I think the only major genre that I haven’t mentioned is heavy metal. If at any time in the reading of this review you’ve gotten the impression that Bonobo is some hyper-kinetic ADHD blender of disparate genres, I have failed as a writer. Black Sands is incredibly cohesive and Green’s moves are so deftly subtle that it takes several dedicated listens to get a grasp on just how breathtaking this album is. Bonobo, you’re doing it right.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Similes (Temporary Residence, 02.2010)
Monday, April 5, 2010
Peel (Self Released, 03.2010)
Friday, April 2, 2010
Our Inventions (Morr, 04.2010)
“Remember?” is an easy choice for their first single, featuring a spot-on chopped up vocal sample that found its way into tons of IDM (remember, we aren’t using that term anymore) tracks back in the nineties, with a flurry of microhouse high-hats and a steady undercurrent of near-wobbly low tones. Lali Puna have always chosen great company to remix their material and aren’t afraid to let their songs be improved upon. It is hard to imagine how Boom Bip, Alias, or even To Rococo Rot (stand out remixes on I Thought I Was Over That) could chop up beats finer than what is already displayed here.
Following on the heels of “Remember?” is the like-minded “Everything is Always,” which marquees Trebelijhar’s voice as the expository vehicle. Her wistful nostalgia never betrays her strong hold on the melody-driven chorus, as Archer’s beats arrange themselves from hiccupping segues to climactic revelries of blissed-out synth delays.
Things move smoothly until the album’s only interruption “Move On.” With an album so monolithically subdued, it is a welcome reprieve. “Move On” begins with a reverb-drenched minor beat before a hip-hop synth line rips a jagged hole through the relative peace of the album. But even Trebelijhar’s intense speak-sing cadence gives way to a gorgeous chorus and Archer’s instrumentation diminishes into a chiming outro full of warm, buzzing synths and a metronome beat.
Our Inventions largely abandons the occasional foray into the heavier moments of Faking The Books and emerges with something that nears pop perfection. Not one of the tracks ever overstays its welcome or overstates its case. Our Inventions feels warm, lived in, and as inviting as anything the group has ever done. Staring down close to a decade of music making, and never straying from what brought them international attention in the first place, Lali Puna have released an album that seems completely unfazed. Our Inventions is a record that has its nose close to the grindstone, carving deeper niches into the electronic-acoustic arrangements whose experimental nature never outweighs their inherent tendencies toward pop.