Monday, May 31, 2010

Introducing... Justin Couch + Phonogram Vol. 1 & 2

Remember when I mentioned Justin Couch in my review of Gayngs Relayted album? Remember how he is that saxophone hating curmudgeon who attests that the saaax ruined music in the 80's? Well, turns out Justin is a fantastic writer, a passionate comic book afficienado, and has the most encyclopedic knowledge of all things music out of anyone I ever met. Justin and I met in a sophomore AP European History class in High School. Justin was a gateway to all those formative indie rock bands that you listened to in High School. Remember your first time listening to Built to Spill....Justin Couch. Modest Mouse...JC. Uh, do The Fugs count?....Couchman. Anyway, Crawford was his roommate in college, we met at Justin's wedding (how romantic)...and the rest is history.

Now, he has offered to lend his writing talents to the TOME, you should read his and Ben Martin's movie blog. The Movie Advocate. His weekly column will focus on all things music culture. His first installment is an in depth look into the comic book Phonogram Vol. 1 & 2 which explores music, its devotees, and all of its mystical properites. So, with no further ado....This is Justin.

Phonogram Vols 1 &2 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Image Comics, 2007, 2010)

For: Anyone who loves music and has had even a passing interest in comics

Byline: Music is literally magic


If you're a regular reader of Tome, then you probably already know that music is magic. I'm not talking magic in the high fantasy sense, but in a broader, more grounded sense. Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) contends that ALL creation is magic, that the act of bringing something into being from imagination to something that exists corporeally is magic in itself. Music has major transformative properties - you can be a complete skeptic and believe that. You know this if you've experienced a moment of clarity at show, if you've ever been at a party and someone put on just the right record, or when you hear an album for the first time but it's already as familiar as your favorite old t-shirt. 7 inches of vinyl can alter your path in life dramatically.

The premise of Phonogram as a whole is that there are magicians, Phonomancers, who use music as a way of channeling mystic energies. But I really don't want to say that for fear that all of the sudden, this may be a little too nerdy. It definitely is a little nerdy, but the magic angle is simply a device for explaining why we're obsessed with music, and what it can do to us under the right circumstances. At this point, I want to give some disclosure, I'm a total comic geek, I read about 50 of comics a month covering nearly every genre. I also totally understand why you don't read comics, and it's OK, trust me, you're going to love this one. I'm not trying to win you over to comics. Frankly, I could care less, but you really really need to read this one if you love music, trust me – it's the message not the medium we're concerned about.

I recommend starting with Phonogram Volume 2, The Singles Club. You don't need to have read the first book to understand what's going on. This volume is more accessible both in terms of comic book convention and the music discussed requires less specialized knowledge. The premise is that 2 phonomancers are doing a DJ set at a club and there are 3 rules: no music will be played with a male vocalist, if you have legs – you must dance, and no magic. The trade paperback collects 7 issues each focusing on a different person over the course of the night, stories overlap, the time line is consistent, and you get to see how the different characters relate to the music being played. If there is a song that seems a little off, chances are one of the characters actually shares your opinion. For instance, the first issue focuses on a vapid party girl who wants nothing more than to dance to “Pull Shapes” by The Pipettes, while I'm totally gay for this song, some of the characters in the comic talk about it derisively like I know a lot of people do.



If “Pull Shapes” seems like kind of a dated choice, that's because the comic actually takes place in 2006. Which was something about this book that actually gave me a much stronger connection to it. I was the same age as most of the characters at the time this comic takes place. I have fond memories of going to dance parties and playing these songs or dancing to these songs, or begging whoever had the i-pod to play these songs. This was also probably the last year that I followed music as intensely as the music obsessed in this comic.

Where this comic excels is through Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's ability to convey the different experiences of listening to music. Listening while you're dancing, when you're distracted by someone else, when you don't fit in to the scene, when you're the one picking the music, when you're using music as emotional fuel, when you listen to music alone in your room, and when you totally get high on the energy of a song. Each issue focuses around a different song, and each one is absolutely appropriate and wonderful. Without giving too much away, my favorite issues were “Konichiwa Bitches,” (after the Robyn song) which immediately captured the drunken bravado of batting .900 when DJing, and “Ready to be Heartbroken,” (after the Camera Obscura song), which I related with way too much.



The first volume of Phonogram, Rue Britannia, has a more traditional a to b story. It follows David Kohl, a supporting character in volume 2 as he confronts ghosts from his past particularly relating to second wave Brit-Pop (Oasis, Blur, Pulp, etc.) Essentially, David's magic center is the Goddess of Brit-pop, Britannia who appeared for the Bristish invasion in the mid-60's as well as for the resurgence in the 90s before unceremoniously dying as Brit-Pop ebbed in popularity. This story takes place in about 2002 as it looked like another aborted attempt at Brit-Pop was coming to fruition with The Libertines and The Arctic Monkeys. This is symbolically portrayed as Britannia being resurrected far too early as flesh droops from her face and bones are exposed. It's quite funny and is a really good device. Additionally, there's a B-Plot involving one of David's ex-flames and needing closure from the old part of her life shown through the lens of the mysterious disappearance of Richey Edwards from The Manic Street Preachers.

Aside from the engrossing and engaging plot, the comic deals with broader themes of reconciling the present to the past, even the embarrassing parts. One phonomancer, Indie-Dave has an extremely unhealthy obsession with and inability to move beyond Joy Division, he's portrayed as a Golem-like caution. The book contains a wealth of wisdom and endless fascinating ruminations on living in part by defining yourself off of what you listen to and what happens when your scene dies. As David Kohl says in volume 1, “Being an indie kid is a little like Catholicism. You never quite get over it.”

No matter how deep you are into this indie thing, no matter what your background is with regard to music, no matter how many new albums you listen to a month, there's something here for you and I humbly ask you to take a chance outside of your comfort zone. Each collection costs less than a CD, and used bookstores usually pay pretty well for lightly used comic trades if you don't like it.

If you take a chance and end up enjoying Phonogram and are interested in more music related comics, I would suggest David Lapham's Young Liars and Brian O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series.

Justin Couch

Justin plays in a band called Lil' Slugger in Denver. Check em out here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Project! + FLASHLIGHTS

Hey everyone. Ryan H. here, I have a new side project/side blog-thing going on. So when you check the TOME, why don't you just take a second to see what I've got going on at VIDEODRONZ (that is videodrone without the "e" and Videodrome without the "m" and the weird snuff films). The idea is that I post a couple of rad music videos/visual art projects from across the internet that are beautiful/breath-taking/terrifying and allow you to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my hard labor. Sound cool? Need a break from a work? Want something to post on your facebook page to show how cultured and quirky you are (OMG...LOOOOVE THIS!!!)? Then come on over to VIDEODRONZ. Have a suggestion of something I should check out? Or better yet, did you make a music video (all tracking shots, video overlays, and abandoned buildings, plz)? Let me know! I will gladly oblige. Now...on to the music.


FLASHLIGHTS Flashlights EP (05.2010, self-released)

For: Javelin, Hollagramz, Memory Tapes

Byline: So hot right now.

This is how I imagine Phoenix would sound if they weren't from Versailles and instead formed in a dank basement somewhere in the midwestern U.S. Actually, that is pretty much exactly how FLASHLIGHTS sound, to their credit. Somewhere, is in fact Boulder, CO, much more known as a playpen for the million-dollar babies of Marin County Democrats to stop bathing or wearing shoes and starting Grateful Dead cover bands than it is known for spawning deliciously sweet glo-fi basement party jams. But here we are. Granted there isn't an easy reference I can point to past 2009, but still, these three songs hold a lot of promise. Endlessly listenable and incredibly catchy, it is clear this duo listen to the right stuff and know how to process it through laptops and midi controllers. Sam Martin's spaced out synth lines revel in a deeply syncopated discohouse groove that makes it impossible not to imagine laserz and smoke machines. The strength of the music comes from how processed it is (an acoustic guitar line on "Diving Bell" is kind of embarassing), even down to Ethan Converse's oddly robotic voice, but you know, a sexy robot. A sexbot. Filtered but unbowed, Converse's falsetto is a compelling homage to Prince and Noah Lennox, and is one of the most flattering components of the album. Three songs, more than worth downloading, which you can do.....here.


Ryan H.

Friday, May 28, 2010

FRIDAY NOSTALGIA!! — Isis


Oceanic (Ipecac Recordings, 2002)

For: Neurosis, late-era Converge, Red Sparrowes

Byline: The game changing post-metal album that started it all.

With the news that the 13 year run of Isis is coming to a close this summer (no SLC dates or Denver!?) we thought it would be fitting to dedicate this round of FRIDAY NOSTALGIA!! to the undisputed kings of cerebral post-metal. I am not even sure what prompted me to pick up this album a few years back, I have never been much of a metal fan, in fact in the past couple of years has seen a huge upswing in tolerance for the musical violence so casually associated with metal. Perhaps that is what attracted me to Isis in the first place. Isis is heavy, at times even brutal, but the long, sprawling tracks on Oceanic have something that most metal albums previous to 2002 didn't have. Space. Moments of dead air between massive power chords and chugga-chugga riffs that let the sheer heaviness sink in, to let it settle deep in your chest. Climaxes that have equal valleys to their mountains of loudness. Metal, to me, has always seemed like a race with itself to get to the end of the song, hardly stopping to enjoy the nuclear-blast dystopian wasteland it was ferrying the listener across. Oceanic, at eight tracks, spans almost an hour, pitching massively heavy riffs, locked-in-time drumming, and Aaron Turner's gruff singing (somewhere between a bark and a tuneless howl), with a sprawling sense of glacially-timed pacing and atmospherics. Waves of noise crash on the brittle the shores of distortion-filled swells like a moon-tide ebb and flow, matching the indecipherable lyrics full of maritime imagery. A mist-shrouded ambient segue breaks up the heavier side-A and the more fluid side-B. A disembodied female voice floats in and out of the album's b-side, giving rise to the speculation of the albums lover-scorned thematic arc. Oceanic was the start of something huge, the start of metal dudes who weren't afraid to wear their post-rock and shoegaze influences on their sleeves. The huge slew of similar sounding bands and albums that all use Oceanic as a touchstone is evidence of the far reaching influence of this album. Although informed by bands experimenting with pacing and heavy-soft dynamics before them, Oceanic is a gem in the glowing crown of early 2000's post-metal. An absolute must hear before you die album.

Ryan H.



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trans Am


Thing (Thrill Jockey, 2010)

For: NEU!, Kraftwerk, Man or Astro Man?

Byline:Twenty years is a long time to be doing the same thing. Luckily, more of the same is just what fans want, and these Thrill Jockey vets deliver on nearly every front.

*Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used by permission from inyourspeakers, LLC. Please read full review here.*


...Is it a difficult thing to be a true Trans Am fan? It’s not that the band isn’t talented. To the contrary, the veteran Thrill Jockey trio has enough mega drum fills, frenetic synth lines and gnarly guitar work to fill that basket nicely. It’s not that they don’t have great songs. Coming up on 20 years of life and nine full-length albums deep now, the band has been known to put together a plethora of punchy, positively catchy tunes. They pull from familiar places—krautrock, classic rock, prog, electro—and they combine them in a way that is geek-meets-muscle, sometimes atmospheric, sometimes motorik, and often sweaty, electrically charged and intense. So why aren’t these guys as popular as, say, Tool—their unlikely headline-buddies on tour a couple of years back? What’s kept Trans Am with the same label for such a long time? Why does the band fail to truly grow?

It might be that Trans Am is a bit ridiculous. Just look at the album artwork for Thing. It’s full-on 80s future-retro sci-fi horror. Look at the silliness of the song titles—”Naked Singularity,” “Interstellar Drift,” “Maximum Yield,” to name a few. Listen to what’s going on in the album—odd time signatures for the sake of odd time signatures, way over the top drum cadenzas (with roto toms... remember those?), and weird, dated vocorder vocals. The key to Trans Am is to recognize their inscrutable sense of humor, and Thing succeeds largely along these lines: the band has found a consistent path following their tongue-in-cheek, unabashedly nostalgic ways, and exploding that course in ways that are technically bewildering, unapologetic and focused and showcase a seasoned tightness that can only come from having such a long and storied past. Therefore, Thing’s pitfalls are only apparent if you haven’t bought into the Trans Am phenom first. As is often the case, the best way to get into the band would be to pick up their earlier records before attempting to fully digest Thing’s wide-eyed science-fiction-fried tracks. Trans Am takes some work, but the labors are rewarding on many levels.

Granted, there’s nothing here that one would call remotely revolutionary, even (and especially) by the band’s own standards. Twenty years have given the group a solid formula, and it’s one that stays largely intact throughout Thing’s twelve tracks. Drumming is predictably top-notch, the bass drum absolutely locked in to the swerving syncopation of the staccato’d synth-bass stabs (see “Bad Vibes” specifically). The tones used are more of the same too—the band does little to explore the sonic palate beyond simple Korg synths that are saturated with buzzy, scuzzy effects and phased with moderation between right and left channels. Guitars take a more prominent stance toward the end of the record, which offer the album’s more accessible (if you can call them that) and rewarding tracks, like “Interstellar Drift” which harkens back to jams as old as “Ballbadaos” from their debut.....

Please Read the full review on (www.inyourspeakers.com)

—Craw'z 05/27/2010



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Dog To Visit The Center Of The Earth


On Every Machine (Never Come Down, 2010)


For: Mouse on Mars, Boards of Canada, Gold Panda, Excepter


Byline: Pt. 2 in our ongoing obsession with the adventurous dog and his endless quest for subterranean spelunking.


Woah there, First Dog to Visit the Center of the Earth. Woah there, Boy Fruit. Wha’ happen’ here? You may recall back in March, when the TOME was first made privy to the existence of this wildly creative, talented regime of off-the-charts experimental noise-scramblers that Boy Fruit was the one making the singles, not FDVCE. Well, the tables have evidently turned. Boy Fruit’s latest (reviewed here) sunk his muted songs even deeper into the mud than before, circumventing the need for real melodic motifs with a wallowing texture that stewed humbly in its own tasty porridge of gloppy sound making for an at-least-as-satisfying listen to its predecessor, Repulsive. And so here, on the flip-side of things, is FDVCE, not half a year after the release of the amazing Colossus Archosaur, with an album that finds the artist really discovering the advantages of stabilizing noise and a seemingly random, multi-faceted palate of textures into a more rhythm-centric approach with some surprisingly banging beats and very compelling melodic hooks to front. FDVCE: we’ll make a producer out of you yet. Now, this of course isn’t always the case with On Every Machine, but it’s at least noticeable on a fairly large scale... and make no mistake, none of these are “pop” songs in the slightest. But check out the raga-stomp of “P-Queen”—though rife with machine-gun, percussive stabs and a rhythmic variance that rivals Aphex Twin in complexity, underneath it all is a head-nodding, driving forward motion that’s all but unstoppable. “Inner Dudsmind” and (the hilariously titled) “God Damn it, My Neighbors are Barbecuing?” find success in a similar way, the latter especially, having a faster groove with outer-space synths and nervous triangle patterns. The track sounds like the follow-up single to Geogaddi that Boards of Canada couldn't quite figure out for The Campfire Headphase... but you know, weirder. And harder. “Gator 6” meanwhile draws on a techno base, utilizing similar textures as Mouse on Mars did on Idiology, but again... weirder. So I guess the point is that none of On Every Machine will likely make it into your local discotec, lest the cool crowd in your town happen to be a bunch of freaky-deakies. But you and me and some other like-mindedly geeky music nerd friends of ours should be able to rock this one down in my mom’s basement next weekend at my birthday party. We'll just have to keep the volume down, and lights out by 11:00. We're going to freak out and it's gonna be amazing.


To me, what’s most impressive about FDVCE is his keen sense of space, timing, and volume—how each sound is so distinct and direct, yet mixed with constant and complete proportion to whatever else is going on, even while pieces and parts rise and fall and constantly fluctuate in texture. Some sounds are just so awesomely loud and robust, they’ll rattle your skull until your brain is mush, which is a much more pleasant experience than it might sound. Listening to On Every Machine is like being Neo in the Matrix movies (oh no I didn’t!) and seeing everything in digital binary to the point where all the random 1’s and 0’s come together to magically create a beautiful, harmonious din that surrounds your very essence. I’ll sum up shortly and sweetly... you’ve already waited long enough to get obsessed with First Dog to Visit the Center of the Earth. If you’ll notice, there’s no shiny, glimmering link down below that says “free download” anywhere on this post. That’s because both FDVCE as well as his equally inventive buzz-cousin Boy Fruit are both officially on a (really sweet looking) Chicago-based label. It’s not too late for you, however... you should absolutely visit the Never Come Down label’s site and haul in as much from these two astounding young men as your little hard drive can carry. GO!


—Craw’z 5/26/2010


First Dog to Visit the Center of the Earth Official MySpace


Never Come Down Official Website (buy here)



Directed by Ryan Watson


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Holmes


Have I Told You Lately That I Loathe You? (Haleri/Black Star Foundation, 06.2010)

For: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tobias Fröberg, The Devil Whale

Byline: File under: Another Swedish band doing our music better than us.


Coming from the same fertile soil and label that produced Lars Ludvig Löfgren's excellent 2010 release Heterochromia, Holmes sophomore album Have I Told You Lately That I Loathe You is a tightly-wound package of melancholy Americana transplanted in central Sweden. The bleak existential loneliness of midwestern America/Canada that inspired Neil Young and Alan Sparhawk is infused into every tale of heartbreak and betrayal from this Vänersborg quintet. Sounding like he just came out of a hellacious break-up (if you couldn't tell by the title) , Holme's vocalist Kristoffer Bolander's accented and affecting croon broods on the quiet numbers and soars above rafter-shaking crescendos with cathartic heroism on the noisier ones. Most of the output on HITYLTILY is filtered through subdued sense of sadness, rife with lap-steel punctuated moments of lilting beauty that accompany the exquisite pain in Bolander's voice. "Afar" finds his vocal register climbing into the Jonsi Birgisson-range falsetto if Birgisson sang flannel-shirted alt-country. Holmes gets loud, occasionally, the Young accolyte comparisons seem to stick the most. "The Strangest Calm" showcase the bands mastery of pacing and delivery, weaving dueling guitar melodies that hold on single notes over the din of reverb-drenched guitar feedback. Have I Told You Lately That I Loathe You gets major points, aside from ripping off Rod Stewart, in producing something that sounds totally honest. Honest and sad. But doing it without the self-aware pretension that is stuck so righteously to a majority of the alt-country ghetto. Bolander doesn't have to fake a country accent, or prematurely destroy his vocal chords to produce that haggard two-pack-a-day-since-fifteen croak in order to produce authenticity. The honesty of Holmes comes from their ability to play with real emotion, packing enough throat-tightening catharsis in the second act of the album closer "Breathing" to satiate my once fond feelings for the genre. I guess it just took a group of Swedes to show us that we were doing our own music wrong.

Ryan H.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gayngs


Relayted (Jagjaguwar, 05.2010)

For: Prince, CFCF, pretty much the whole Dirty Dancing soundtrack

Byline: Midwestern supergroup (feat. Bon Iver, P.O.S, Solid Gold, Megafaun, Prince?) create a sprawling record filled to the brim with easy-listening, bedroom soft rock, with jaw dropping results.

**Note: The above picture is not the official Relayted artwork. Rather, a rad, commissioned portrait of the band.**

My good friend Justin Couch (more on him later) once said that the saxophone ruined music in the 80's. While I am inclined to agree with him, I can't say enough about the saxophone's welcome contributions to Midwestern supergroup Gayngs' debut album Relayted. While the very appearance of a saxomophone may bring on cringe inducing memories of man perms, open collared button up shirts, and pretty much anything Michael Bolton related, the brassy timbre of the baritone sax on Relayted push the already saccharine smooth jam studio session into, "this couldn't get any more chees....OMG, that is a saxophone"...And so it begins. Gayngs' music, while an already head-scratching enough tribute to the FM dominated soft rock of the late eighties/early nineties, is even more perplexing given the impressive 23-member roster that makes up the band. Some of the most notable members include Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver, Minneapolis rappers P.O.S and Dessa, freak folk outfit Megafaun, electro-glam outfit (and masterminds behind the project) Solid Gold, as well as various members from Leisure Bird, The Rosebuds, and Digitata. These members share a common loci, and apparently (who knew?) an affinity for the music played during steamy, red filtered, made-for-tv love scenes.

The question you are probably asking is: Does it work? I am here to give a resounding yes in their favor. Yes it is totally self-aware, at times tongue-in-cheek (just check out P.O.S spoken word outro confession on the album closer "The Last Prom on Earth"), but on the whole, the album rises above the weight of its influences and pens some incredibly gorgeous tracks. The album is significantly more than the sum of its members, there is hardly a scrabbling for top-billing, everyone's voice is heard either as the revolving door band leader or somewhere in the liner notes. Megafaun's drawl and slide guitar bow gracefully to autotuned vocals, vaguely safe 808 hip-hop beats and smooth jazz guitar solos, all while the buzzing keyboard driven undercurrent unearths sounds we haven't heard since Eric Carmen's "Hungry Eyes". There are some delicious anachronous moments that rear their head in the course of the hour +, year long studio experiment. The discordant, tribal-drummed, gorgeous mess of "False Bottom" is all squawking horns and dive-bombing synths. A pretty welcome reprieve from a polite but almost too nice of an album, an album that you wouldn't mind buying a used car from but would never let your sister date. "Faded High" is a watermark moment on the album, a relatively upbeat number replete with multi-tracked falsetto vocals by Dessa. "Spanish Platnium" begins in typical Gayngs fashion, hollow sounding drums with a liquid solo guitar breezily panning from headphone to headphone, some saxophone in there (why not?), but oscillating beneath the surface is a swirling guitar drone gluing the whole thing together. The 21st century is not lost on Gayngs.

If Bon Iver fronting a soft rock band had you at "Bon," Vernon's vocal contributions do not disappoint. To those already familiar to his experiment in making autotune software cry on "Woods" off of 2009's Blood Bank, his exclusively auto-tuned vocal contributions on "Spanish Platnium" and elsewhere are no surprise. But I think all of us took a step back when he trades Bone Thugs n' Harmony (midwestern legends shamefully not called into the studio)-style call and response machine gun fast raps with P.O.S on the excellent, excellent, excellent album closer "The Last Prom on Earth" ... Best musical moment of 2010. In fact lets call this one of the best albums of 2010, saxophones and all.

Ryan H.

Friday, May 21, 2010

FRIDAY NOSTALGIA!! — Braid pt. 2 and UPDATE!!!

Heyo there all ye' faithful TOMErs. This is just a quick note to tell you: We are tired. We wanted to have an extra special-cool FRIDAY NOSTALGIA!! post today... but alas, we just weren't able to crank a new one out for you to feverishly devour. If you'll notice, the TOME is now on track for a post every single day, and we couldn't be more proud to have you visiting us often for reviews on the exciting world of music we're constantly being immersed in, so thank ye' kindly. We really appreciate the readership and the comments peppering our little blog here, and are especially grateful for the wonderful bands and musicians sending new music our direction every day!

A couple of reminders — As always, we are looking for talented writers to join team TOME! If you think you share a similar taste and passion for music as either Ryan H. or Craw'z and have a knack for the written word, please feel free to e-mail us with a sample of your work: tometotheweathermachine@gmail.com. Don't be shy now. Second, you may have noticed our flashy little badge on the right-hand side of our page... yes, we totally caved and set up a Facebook account for the blog. Feel free to "fan" us or "like" us or whatever as you see fit by clicking on the badge—the Facebook page allows for folks who don't necessarily visit every day to see in a flash what today's post is all about. Go ahead, join the party... you know you want to.

And now, just so we don't leave you empty handed on this glorious Friday afternoon, please enjoy pt. 2 of Ryan H.'s healthy obsession with that wondrous proto-prog/emo outfit Braid by reading his in-depth interview through SLC's (completely awesome) SLUG Magazine. Enjoy, and happy weekend!



—Craw'z 5/21/2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Pirate Signal


No Weak Heart Shall Prosper (Self-Released, 2010)


For: Anticon, The Prodigy, Massive Attack


Byline: Craw’z takes on the Pirate Signal... My greatest challenge yet.


I’ve had this monkey on my back. This “Pirate Signal” monkey... it’s been haunting nearly every single one of my days for the past three weeks solid. It’s not that I didn’t want to review No Weak Heart Shall Prosper. I’m all for supporting Denver artists and musicians in any way I can.... but being an unpaid music critic and blogger certainly has its limitations, especially in regards to good ol’ fashioned Craw’z time. Matched with this ridiculous amount of music in my “2010” custom iTunes playlist (yeah... go ahead, call me a freak), my brain is seriously addled as of late. So then there’s this hip hop album, and I find myself staring at a blank document, trying to gather my thoughts on it... a style of hip hop I don’t typically find myself jamming on a regular basis. It’s jagged. It’s hardcore. It’s edgy. In YO’ FACE, y'know? At least it’s in my face...


The Pirate Signal knows how to bring the party, but it’s not the sunny, ecstasy-laden bliss-fest many might hope for. The Pirate Signal has an additional project known in these Denver parts as the “Blackhearts.” They rap about the blackness of their endlessly black lives and personas—hearts, dyed hair, clothes, shoes, etc... quite a bit. And like the Blackhearts moniker might suggest, No Weak Heart Shall Prosper is generally dark in its assessments of socio-politically charged, topical issues (see “Love in the Time of Swine Flu”), murky subject matter seeps into the production like rain through warped floorboards in a crumbling house. Most beats are massive, atomic blasts, underscored with deep, low synthetic dirges that paint a thick curtain of opaque and grim textures. Samples are used if you listen close for them, but largely they’re disguised in attempt to create what the Signal would hope is a unique hip hop aesthetic, which is modestly successful here... but there are still some tired tricks (like the auto-tuned vocal hook of “The Saga of Dirty Street Kids) used that weigh Abraham’s original voice down a bit. “Darker, My Love” finds the group digging into a Michael Jackson neo-soul/funk groove that chugs along nicely, complete with a compelling vocal hook... it’s a hot track, and a shame Yonnas doesn’t take more advantage of it, spitting only one full verse this time around. “Automatic,” meanwhile incorporates Kraftwerk-via-Afrika Bambataa influence with a forceful, propulsive beat that lays the path for a biting, rhythmic lyrical flow.


Rapper Yonnas Abraham’s delivery is a mish-mash of styles that come together to fuse a singular vision—there’s the grim, raspy growl of Dälek, the matter-of-fact rock-ready shout of Run DMC, and the faster, syllable-cramming bounce of Twista, too... all excellent tools with which Yonnas can mollify his cultural frustrations while simultaneously gettin’ folks in the crowd to reach for the sky. If you’ve ever seen a Pirate Signal show, peeps go bonkers over this. Overall No Weak Heart Shall Prosper is a winning formula, but Yonnas surprisingly keeps this one close to home: “I’m a Col. Boi” and others are shout-outs to Denver and Denver only, which is curious... this stuff has the ability to spark some serious raves on a national scale, and it makes you wonder how far the Signal sees this one reaching for themselves. Showing regional love to your hometown is standard operating procedure in hip-hop, but The Pirate Signal have the chops take this one out of the stranglehold of the no-coast region and out to the masses…2010 and beyond.


—Craw'z 5/20/2010


The Pirate Signal Official MySpace


Download the teaser EP for No Weak Hearts Shall Prosper here



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sightings


City of Straw (Jagjaguwar, 04.2010)

For: AFCGT, These Are Powers, The Dead C

Byline: The noisiest, busiest, dirtiest no-wave noise punk this year in a year full of great noisy, busy, dirty no-wave noise punk albums.

Holy wow. Give me a second to compose my thoughts while I pick my guts off the floor. City of Straw is a massively disjointed, disemboweling masterpiece of snarling, minimalist electronic beats and precision timed noise terrorism. Distributed through Jagjaguwar after a long stint on Load and Oneida's Brah records (who own probably the coolest brand image imaginable), it is hard to imagine City of Straw fitting into the discography of the record label behind Bon Iver, Julie Doiron, and Okkervil River. Even as I write this, however, Jagjaguwar is in the process of distributing new albums and back catalogues of improvised noise giants The Dead C, Richard Youngs, not to mention their long-standing relationship with Oneida and the release of 2008's best slice of fuzz-pop Women. I suppose label acquisitions play little into the 8 + year existence of no-input art-squalor of Brooklyn's Sighthings. Sighthings sound like a bizarro-Nirvana, processing and capturing the massively dirty swells of fuzzed out power chords and playing them back through a million blinking sequencers in the catacomb-like sewers beneath New York City. Guitars are played like bowed violins of sweeping noise swells, resonating with a low end hum that give these waves of noise and a grimy, yet often inexplicably graceful, arc of distortion laden screeds. Beats split time and are triggered by live drumming spit glitched-out, drunken, binary manifestations of nightmares a la Burial meets Atari Teenage Riot (esp. on "Weehawken" and "Saccharine Traps". yikes.) "Sky Above Mud Below" is an anthem in the truest sense of the world with impossibly-fast triplets stereo pans along to Mark Morgan's tortured howl. Sighthings often sound like a band that is ostensibly immune to easy comparisons or relationship to anything considered pop music. But with a classic rock band three piece (guitars-vocals, bass, drums) and discernible verse-chorus song structures in a majority of the album it is clear that Sightings work with the same toolset that their labelmates own, but they constructed a mechanical, fire-breathing pterodactyl about the size of a young whale out of theirs.

P.S Did I mention this was produced by Andrew W.K? As if this couldn't get any more rad.

Ryan H.





Constellations


Lady Coast/Reflection Mandible (Self-Released, 2010)


For: Autechre, Public Image Ltd., Burial


Byline: Denver proto-dance-punk-electro band returns as a “nationwide collective” ...finally. Plz and thx.


In a world where there’s no shortage of bands that make things look easy (and I hate most of them for it), Constellations purposefully make their music sound hard. That’s because music is hard... especially for this gang, the once Denver-based dance-punk-gone-electro-infused outfit that made serious waves on the scene before ever having the chance to release a full-length record. As members began piling on the projects and other members began to disperse about the country, hopes for an official LP from the band were nearly dashed altogether. But just like the challenging nature of their dark, highly intellectual, intensely layered, syncopated, grinding beats and scathing textures, the group’s reemergence as a “nationwide collective” represents a refreshing tenacity—some things are just too good to give up on, distance-obstacles be damned. Several years in the works now, this single is at once a welcome return for the band, but it’s also, frustratingly, only but a taste—but a morsel of that sickly-sweet’n’sour mix of sound that’s somehow progressed fantastically beyond expectations. Lady Coast is über-meticulous, fascinating, but maintains an extremely high level of listenable gusto.


For those new to the band: Expect dark. Expect beats. Expect electronics. Expect rad (uh... really rad) bass lines. Expect haunting vocals. Expect piercing guitars. With Lady Coast, you’ll get all this and more, though—Constellations is certainly parts and pieces, but it’s uniquely whole and individual. Instruments and elements simply wouldn’t survive without their symbiotic partners... Constellations is an electro-ecosystem. Real drums rely on their glitchy, gated counterparts, synth lines flow relative only to threnody drones, and so on. See those “For” artists listed above? Yeah, those guys all certainly had something to do with the overall sound of Constellations, but this band’s got something else... these are but primers pieced masterfully together to (at the risk of being cliché here) sound one of a kind. Nothing else today comes across quite like it—an extraordinarily, uncommonly unique blend into something new... and thank Jebus for that.


The songs themselves find the band largely slowing things down and really pulling from the monstrously massive dinosaur stomp of dub-step. A new-jack swing feel finds its way into hi-hats alongside a biting backbeat that lays the path for the bass to flicker in and out with catchy snippets. Zack Brown’s hushed, creepy whisper will have you following his every command in your nightmares. The best part is the detail with which programmer Cory Brown so painstakingly saturates his work. Uncrackable codes and rigorous trial and error surely worked to ensure that nothing sounds the same twice, as beats and tones are cut up and scrambled with the complexity of a calculus equation. The music constantly, consistently evolves itself, tricking you into looking for patterns where there aren’t necessarily any. This’ll have you digging for days to unlock its mysteries... but you may never be able to go quite deep enough. Accompanied by a couple of remarkable remixes, Lady Coast is one of those don’t-miss-the-boat releases of the year. Plus, it’s free, so you don’t really have an excuse.


—Craw’z 5/18/2010


d-d-d-Download this


Constellations Official Facebook


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Good Weather for an Airstrike


Signals (Sonic Reverie, 2010)

For: Max Richter, Eluvium, Kevin Greenspon

Byline: Winchester, UK ambient musician battles Tinnitus, emerges with masterpiece of nocturne beauty.

Being a recent college grad thrown into the hostile world of job-seeking in a down economy is a tough gig. I often am lured into job fairs and expos with little more than my resume and haircut to try and convince large corporations that I can write convincing enough prose to sell their products. I mean, I write a blog! Tome to the Weather Machine! It is pretty soul-sucking work and every once in awhile I am trapped in a room with former CFOs and Database Programmers forced to listen to a motivational speaker before getting our chance to pitch ourselves to HR reps from some company that nobody wants to work for. These speakers usually work on the format that a once debilitating blow actually inspired them to work harder than they ever had and achieve success they never thought possible. As cliché as it sounds, it is usually the most interesting and inspiring part of the program.

Tom Honey a.k.a Good Weather for an Airstrike could probably get up there with a power-point presentation and do the same thing. Diagnosed (if that is the right word) with tinnitus, which resulted in a long bout with insomnia and hearing issues. A story similar to, although way less dramatic than, TOME fav. Aarktica who lost all hearing in his right ear and sought to make music that replicated the far away, underwater sounds that made up the way he interpreted sound. The result was 2009's masterpiece of graceful tonality In Sea. Signals follows a similar trajectory, gorgeous warm tones of synth and guitar-based drones punctuated with moments of classical beauty via bowed violins. The idea was to create a short record of songs to help him fall asleep. The experiment would be a success if the album wasn't so engaging and heartfelt. I'm not sure if it is easy to fall asleep to staccato picked guitar lines, but album opener "Hand In Hand Into the Ocean Blue," while elegant in its delivery, seems to defy the premise of the album. Not a bad way to start an album by pretty much destroying the listeners expectations of complete Steve Roach-esque snooze-fest. "We Fall Back into the Ocean" strays the farthest from the tried and true guitar and synth based drones featured on the album, the minimal bowed violins and impeccably-timed piano lines recall Max Richter in mood and pacing, and at its best, Arvo Part in emotional weight. "Beside Me Today" and its ambient-drone cohorts are slow-drip stalactites of crystalline swells and ebbing moontide purity. Honey's compositions sound almost too perfect, sometimes allowing sound to pass right through a flawless prism instead of some needed refraction and distortion around the rough edges to keep things dangerous. With that said, for an album whose stated purpose to put the listener (or in this case the musician to sleep) often doesn't quite know how to approach this. Self-titled "Signals" and "A Last Farewell and We Shall Run," with their angel-cooing synth lines serve this purpose almost too well, while "Beside Me Today" and "We Fall Back..." are simply too engaging to let go of. So, GWFAAS, I hope you got some sleep, I hope you are feeling better, but I really hope you keep putting out records like this nocturne collection of post-classical lullabies like you would never sleep again without them.

Ryan H.


Friday, May 14, 2010

FRIDAY NOSTALGIA!! — Gastr Del Sol


Camofleur (Drag City, 1998)


For: Oval, Jim O’Rourke, US Maple


Byline: A definite contender for my favorite record of all time. A true work of art.


One day, I’ll have a book written about Camofleur. This is a record with so much to unpack, it’s daunting... where to start even? The instrumentation? The formless-forms? The dada-patchwork lyrics? The ingenious electronics? The nakedness of it all, the hollow moments? The fact that to this day, over a decade later, nothing sounds remotely close to it in scope, beauty, or vision? One day... one day, I’ll write a book about Camofleur. Today, I write a blog post. I write a blog post because I fear that Camofleur is in danger of becoming lost and forgotten. It’s the strange and obscure side-project of the magical Jim O’Rourke—his somewhat unlikely collaboration with the post-punk innovating Squirrel Bait’s David Grubbs. O’Rourke’s had his hands in enough masterpieces to solidify his immortality by now. But it’s depressing that he may not be remembered for his greatest achievement. So this is just a little nudge. A little reminder.


Camofleur... This is folk. Gorgeous folk. This is electronics, ambience, free-floating dream sequences, space-station static. This is backwards delay effects. This is trumpets, trombones, saxophones, pianos, organs, slide guitars, strings, woodwinds, accordions, steel drums. This is rock, this is celtic jams (that segue into the most beautiful 3:38 of recorded music I think I’ve ever heard), this is kraut, ballads, this is... pop. This is rubato guitar interludes. This is timing, surprises, twists, turns, jokes, tragedies. This is drums—grooves you’ve never heard or dreamed possible. Best of all: this is emotions. This is poetry, imagery, allegory... wait, wait. Emotional. What a terrible, derivative, cliché word used to describe music these days. It’s not even cool to be emotional (unless you're the Arcade Fire or, more recently, the Antlers) anyway. So, distinction: Gastr Del Sol is not emotional. This is one of the only bands and one of the only albums I’ve experienced that makes me truly emotional. You see, “emotional” in music usually ends up being nothing more than sympathy or empathy. Like watching a movie—you cry for those whom you’ve seen suffering sadness. You cry for others—nothing has really happened to you. Camofleur happens to you. Camofleur makes you suffer. Camofleur makes you joyous. Camofleur makes you scared. It makes you wonder, and inspires your imagination. It is both impressive and expressive. It makes you breath with it, live with it, die with it. “As corpse” is a phrase that will haunt me for the rest of my days.


Hallelujah, Drag City somehow still has this available on LP... grab it up before it’s too late. Study it. Grow with it—let it grow you. After Camofleur, nothing seems impossible. Gastr Del Sol represents the limitless potential of music and the unique hyper-creative abilities humans have in artistic expression. One day, I'll write a book about Camofleur... today I just haven't done it justice.


—Craw’z 5/14/2010




Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adelyn's pick of the month: Parallels


Visionaries (Marigold, 05.2010)

For: Class Actress, Golden Filter, Madonna

Byline: An unapologetic journey into the day-glo heart of Eighties dance music.

There is an internal logic to the dance song that I will never understand. Something with the ever ascending chord progressions, relentless back beat, an infinite upwards spiral of un-arced energy that I can never keep up with. Something about having an unwound internal clock and subsequent lack of rhythm, a born-with immunity to calculated and controlled kinetic release that has vexed me. With that said, Toronto's Parallels defy my genetic predisposition to swim in safe waters of rhythm-less ambience and face-flattening blast beats and unlock the side of me that always wanted to be a dancer. All mesh tank-tops, Jehri curl, and fingerless gloves.

Parallels is the brain-child of ex-Crystal Castles drummer Cameron Findlay and Toronto muse Holly Dodson, who participated in a Postal Service type musical relationship before circumstances led Findlay to team up with Dodson to unleash their uncompromising take on 80's synth-pop. Where their contemporaries sometimes experience an identity crisis in making tongue-in-cheek nods to synth heavy pop groups while at the same time try to update a musical style most fondly remembered as nostalgia, Parallels rarely run into this wall, placing all their eggs in the basket of Dodson's chartreuse-like Madonna, Tiffany, Lauper mall-pop voice and Findlay's fine balance between monotone synth pad rhythms and soaring lazer beam synth lines. There is no coy wink in these songs, they hopped in that Deloreon and are broadcasting live and direct from the gilded age of excess. The occasional use of the vocoder on Dodson's voice, while used conservatively, is a cheesy effect that nevertheless stops me dead in my track. The ghostly remnant of a twin-tracked, pitch-shifted voice gives the more subdued tracks of "All We'll Ever Know", "Magnetics" and "Dry Blood" a haunting sense of emotional weight that is hinted at across the whole album. This isn't "Material World" Madonna, this is True Blue era Madonna when she had something to say. This is by far the best synth-pop album I have heard this year, and I have heard a surprisingly large number of them. For how much my wife loves the sticky sweet pop of modern hip-hop radio and for the platinum blond excess of the eighties, this has quickly climbed to the number one most requested album in the house. Move over Usher.

Ryan H.


Future Islands


In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey, 2010)

For: Frog Eyes, The Knife, xx

Byline: The Baltimore trio rise to the occasion, creating soulful and boundary pushing electro-pop to match the throat-rending howl of their lead singer. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Used by permission by inyourspeakers, LLC.

...Having a scene-stealing frontman is clearly not a point against the Baltimore based trio. Future Islands recently signed with Thrill Jockey (who already swooped fellow Baltimore band Double Dagger) this year after attracting buzz in the already teeming beehive of artists associated with Dan Deacon’s Wham City art collective. Future Islands have enough backlog musical stock to benefit from a single “must hear” facet rather than running the risk of folding under the weight of miniature horse gimmickry. To wit, J. Gerrit Welmer’s austere synth work never falls into the synth-pop dungeon of infinitely repeated minimalist chord progressions. While decidedly minimalist in scope, Welmer’s keyboard tackles a variety of different textures and sounds within a traditionally closed shop of elaborative possibilities. For example, the album is book-ended with refreshingly original takes on the genre: “Walking Through That Door” features swirling church-organ lines that peal off bassist William Cashion’s lock-step bass. The finale “As I Fall” is built on sampled vocal choir lines that ebb and flow just enough to be considered rhythmic while Cashion reinterprets the menacing rhythms of Jeff Ament’s proto-grunge pounding bass work.

Welmer’s contributions often serve to counter or at least keep grounded Herring’s full cast of vocal personae. The ambiguously Caribbean sounding instrument (steel drum? Gamelan?) that punctuates Herring’s most vocally expressive track, “Tin Man,” keeps the track climbing steadily as Herring tears his heart (and throat) out with near sobs and a roaring chorus. There has been a lot of talk of a first-wave goth revival with bands like Blessure Grave, Crocodiles and The Soft Moon making significant strides in 2009-2010, and if we are to favorably compare Future Islands to this group we can do so, not in terms of the dispassionate gloom that these bands exude, but with the subtle turning of synth-pop back on itself. Instead of providing an escapist vehicle for the kids of baby boomers to blow their inheritances on soft drug habits and expensive shoes they will end up vomiting on, Herring unleashes a wail from the catacombs of warehouse art galleries and high school theater clubs. Herring’s vocal histrionics move from the glass-in-the-throat growl of “Tin Man” to his near Elvis-sounding sneer on “Long Flight,” to a baffling English-accented talk-sing on “An Apology.” If you find the vocal intonations of Casey Mercer too tame and predictable you may be ready for Future Islands....

Please read the full review at here.

Ryan H.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kyle Bobby Dunn


A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn (Low Point, 2010)


For: William Basinski, Stars of the Lid, German Shepherd


Byline: Slow-blooming, gorgeous ambient drones from the young Brooklyn composer... easily the best of its kind this year.


Names can be deceiving... The fact that the artist in question was born “Kyle Bobby Dunn,” coupled with this record’s (kind of hilarious) title, A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn had me fully expecting this to be either shit-kicker country or hushed, gentle folk tunes from an aging artist perhaps long forgotten and retrospected on a two-disc collection long after his fabled hey-day of yore. Wrong. Kyle Bobby Dunn is rather a Brooklyn-based ambient/drone composer. And he’s a damned fine one at that. And the fact that this guy is only 24, and that many of these compositions have been in the works for six years is astonishing and a bit humbling. Americana, he ain’t...what they in the music biz call “legit,” he certainly is. This collection can serve as an exemplary introduction to someone who’s sure to master this style even more throughout his potentially massive career than he already has... these 12 tracks in and of themselves represent something close to a masterwork already, but my guess is the best is yet to come.


“Composer” is an interesting word being thrown around these days, especially when used for this genre... it’s so difficult to imagine these songs on the printed page. Key signatures? Rhythm? Measures? Even something as fundamental as individual notes or chords seem irrelevant here... in the case of Kyle Bobby Dunn, none of that really matters. The result is a music that is much more about visual imagery than it is musicality or theoretical mastery... but don't tell him I said that. I'm sure Mr. Dunn has had plenty of Classical/Romantic-period music education to back up that "composer" handle, and it has indubitably paid off.


Discernible instruments are definitely here—bright trumpets, mellow horns, organs, pianos, strings... but largely they are not. Long-tones are held to such lengths that the physical frequencies emitted from the bells of horns and the strings of cellos become the true “instruments” that Dunn actually plays. They are living, breathing entities which Dunn fathers and attentively nurtures. He watches them grow up and mature with a tactful eye, sculpting each individual sound in such a way that lofty potentials are fulfilled in gloriously glacial monuments that reach high and rumble deep below. Layering and intricate details are subtle and gentle—so much so that they're hardly noticeable—but the big picture is stunning: tones overlap to the point where he’s creating and orchestrating something as natural as an outdoor day, but it's all synthesized in the concert hall, on a stage and in a room that is deep, wide and cavernous.


A couple of suggestions: listen to this album indoors, listen to this with noise-canceling headphones, and listen to this music often and at different volumes. The music has a keen relationship to nature—as most evident in “Promenade,” which features samples of a trickling creek and cricketing insects—but it’s best to let KBD create the images for you, rather than trying to suture the music with your immediate surroundings. Patience is also key, as these songs are long, for the most part hovering nonchalantly around the ten-minute mark (the album in full clocks in at over 2 hours). But as with most ambient music in this vein, forbearance rewards in spades: this music has the ability to wash over and fully consume you as textures segue with relaxed swooshes and sways, here and then quickly gone. If only they did that from track to track as often... some of these pieces just conclude a bit too abruptly. But with closed eyes and deep, nasal breaths, being lost in the world of Kyle Bobby Dunn is no different from being found: it’s just where you want to be.


—Craw’z 5/11/2010


Kyle Bobby Dunn Official MySpace


Buy A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn Here


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flying Lotus


Cosmogramma (Warp, 05.2010)

For: J Dilla, Charles Mingus, Four Tet

Byline: Legendary producer takes jazz head on, but never loses any of his beat heavy production. I think my neck is broken.

Three important events happened last week that have a direct relationship to each other. 1) At the ripe old age of 25, I graduated from college. I know that most of my colleagues of this age have already graduated and are working real people jobs or are completing graduate degrees or PHDs. That is cool, but cut me some slack, I took two years off and graduated with two degrees. 2) Flying Lotus released his latest album since 2008's genre-defining masterpiece Los Angeles. 3) I acquired a skateboard. I am going to learn to skateboard and be a skateboarder. Don't judge me, this is the form my quarter-life crisis has finally taken. After growing a pretty nasty pseudo-beard and getting addicted to Zelda for a week, I should be so lucky that this is what it has amounted to.

So, what does this have to do with Steven Ellison dropping his most anticipated album to date? Well, graduating college hastened my onset quarter-life freakout, and with that brought my new passion for learning to skateboard. And how can you skateboard without a dope instrumental hip-hop soundtrack? I can understand if you cry "foul" here. Ellison's compositions are near academic studies in beat composition blurring the edges between jazz and hip-hop right? Surely, the musical heir to Alice Coletrane would never sink so low to have his work accompany something so pedestrian as landing my first kickflip, right? I doubt FlyLo would think so. For as awe-inspiring as Cosmogramma is (and oh my, it is) there is a free-flowing playfulness throughout the entire album, a sense that Ellison, while a structuralist at heart, has no problem taking his music back to the baseline: the beats. Cosmogramma's beats are never what they appear to be on the surface. Something as straightforward as rhythm is opened up and unraveled the deeper we get. The syncopated "Computer Face" has fractured half-beats and hiccuping sitar lines that run just about every way but with the propulsive rhythm line. "And the World Laughs with You" features a largely improvised and totally buried vocal contribution by Thom Yorke. Instead of giving top-billing to one of the biggest rock stars in the world, he simply packages Yorke's voice as another instrument, giving it little more spotlight than the descending, squiggly synth lines. I think this says something about this album, as incredible as Ellison and his guests are, everything is auxiliary to the beats. Ellison's left-field vocal samples, twinkling piano lines, and world-hopping instruments are simply there to augment the beats at the core of the compositions. Even if those beats are as far into outerspace as the Cat's Eye Nebula.

I am not an expert on jazz by any means (any jazz related questions should be directed to our resident musical theorist/history genius Craw'z) but from what little I know I can easily point out FlyLo's mission to bring hip-hop and jazz into some unifying theme. The deep hits of an upright bass take the aural rigidness of programmed beats and gives them a deeply organic "swinging" feel that permeates the album. Playing his influences and mentors close to his chest is what makes Cosmogramma so thrilling, but the way that FlyLo never lets himself take these too seriously is what makes Cosmogramma such a game changing masterpiece. These are song-songs and this is an album that feels like an album, with a traceable arc of post-jazz funkiness finely diced by the scalpel of dubstep's chopped percussion, laced with the playful wit of streetwise Tennyson. All this while being one of the most accessible and easily loved albums of the year, worthy of the aplomb of austere music aficionados as well as choice guest spots on the next Shorty's skate vid. So, if you see some dude cruising the streets of SLC unsteadily and on a skateboard, first get out of his way, second, realize that he is probably deeply absorbed by some liquid beat by 2010 Flying Lotus. Just wait until I turn 50...BMX bikes? Agressive inline skating? Yikes.

Ryan H.