Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wolf Parade

Expo 86 (Sub Pop, 06.2010)

For: See: all Wolfy P's related side projects

Byline: The Montreal band returns with their third effort—a rock-solid set of rock-hard rock tunes that, for better or worse, reign in the penchant for serious emotional weight that once made the group so instantly compelling. Originally published on Used by permission from inyourspeakers Media, LLC. Read the full review here.

....Wolf Parade represents Spencer Krug’s most rockin’ of rock bands, and it’s easy to see why the quartet’s output might rank among his most celebrated work. And rock Expo 86 certainly does. He and his partner Dan Boeckner are back to their Wolfy ways for the new album, and Expo should satisfy fans to the extent that they were perhaps expecting. The bummer is that Expo fails to ever exceed those expectations. The album’s general mood aside (this is a decidedly darker affair than the group’s last effort, 2008’s At Mount Zoomer), Wolf Parade is still an indie band bringing the synth back into the forefront of the mix, the keys and their various textures driving the compositions in both melody and harmony. Guitars and drums are stacked up appropriately to fill out the band’s sound, matching the song’s more anthemic moments with a beefy mix that bolsters big sounds from all directions.

As lofty as their ambitions are on Expo 86, the band succeeds by never over doing it. And maybe that’s because, compared to some of the more goose-bump raising moments on their debut, their ambitions aren’t so lofty after all. Still, the new album is emotional without letting those emotions overpower the songwriting itself, which is consistently satisfying throughout, and only gets better the further you dig into the record. “Pobody’s Nerfect” is a highlight with an airtight guitar riff that stretches itself over the bar line and makes use of some sparser arrangements, dropping instruments here and there to give the song shape next to the frequently planar texture that fills out much of the album. Wolf Parade finishes strong with “Cave-O Sapien,” ramping up the energy into a driving drum beat and smart, tri-harmonized melodic movement.

But Wolf Parade really aren’t taking any daring chances here, opting instead for locked in, airtight song structures, solid performance (some really kick ass drumming, by the way), and a series of tracks that are all good enough. Maybe I’m just spoiled, and I’d be kidding myself if this was some new band’s debut and I wasn’t salivating buckets. But for a third album, Wolf Parade should be experimenting, pushing the envelope the way Krug has proven he’s more than capable of in his other projects. Don’t forget, Wolf Parade, that wonderful time when you, along with others like the Arcade Fire, reminded us that it was OK, awesome even, to let your emotions get the better of you. Instead of letting go, Expo 86 feels somehow sheltered, holding in....

Read the full review here

—Craw'z 6/31/2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Braden J McKenna Superpost: WYLD WYZRDZ + Weighted Pines

A partial list of Braden J McKenna's varied musical projects include: Navigator, WYLD WYZRDS, Sleepover, Mario Kart, and Braden J McKenna, as well as frequent collaboration with members of High Country and Stag Hare to name a few. With such a storied back catalogue I am dipping into 2009 to showcase two albums that slipped by me last year when I was so busy trying to keep up with the landslide of amazing music coming out of SLC. The pace of amazing music coming out of SLC has slowed this year (I blame the economy), allowing me to play catch up on McKenna's insanely prolific output. First up...Weighted Pines.

Weighted Pines

Weighted Pines (Magic Goat, 2009)

For: Sad, Sappy Sucker-era Modest Mouse, Beach Fossils

Ever wondered how the misanthropic, bedroom tape-recording Isaac Brock went from singing into answering machines and primitive four-track recorders into becoming the misanthropic, mega-rockstar Isaac Brock? This is a question that McKenna takes up on his bedroom pop experiment Weighted Pines. The spirit of the earliest incarnations of Modest Mouse haunt these collections of songs, which often sound like they are coming from a basement bedroom where a young man plays crouched over his amp, trying not wake his parents. Calling McKenna's output anything but lo-fi up to this point would be a mistake. His output has ranged from the self-parodied, fidelity-as-incendiary-weapon with Mario Kart to his recent forays into cleaner fidelity with WYLD WYZRDS. Weighted Pines disregards low fidelity as an aesthetic choice and recalls the days when strictly analog was a strict necessity. Coming in at 14 tracks in almost as many minutes, Weighted Pines is a study in conservative pop songs. Not that there is anything necessarily conservative about the sound, McKenna nicely utilizes the four-tracks provided him, and fills in every possible nook and cranny with fuzzed out guitar lines, cavernous drum fills, and his barn-door creak of a voice. Brief squelches of noise punctuate "Trick or Treat" and "low" while the rest of the album rests on about one single hook per song. That is all McKenna really needs, and usually that hook is strong enough to demand repeated listens. This may be my favorite of all McKenna projects, that is until he re-emerges with some new creation spiraling out of the WYLD WYZRDZ universe. Until then I am latching onto this project as my go-to for nostalgia tinged, 90's inspired bedroom pop.

Ryan H.


Millennium Breeze (Magic Goat, 2009)

For: White Rainbow, Silver Antlers

WYLD WYZRDZ, McKenna's ambient drone project, has always displayed a keen sense of timing. Millennium Breeze is a 25 minute track with a traceable ark from gorgeous buzzing, chirping ambient guitar sounds into a tribal/free-jazz tribal dance party, and then back again. The first six minutes of Millennium Breeze begin with a sustained guitar tone that gradually stacks guitar drone on top of guitar drone with ample amounts of volume swells bringing the whole anthill of sound to the absolute peak in how much beauty the guitar is allowed to produce until the immediate (somewhat jarring) introduction of tribal beats and single note guitar lines break the tension and ushers in the sea change that Millennium Breeze goes through. Then, just wait for it, a gorgeous alto saxophone makes it's triumphant palm-sunday march into the track. If you thought the saxophone killed music in the eighties, like some unnamed TOME contributor, and have held a grudge against its place within the realm of rock and roll, be prepared to have your ears cleansed in the celebratory revelry of Millennium Breeze. Sax-slayer Jake Birch displays some serious talent and virtuosity to sustain a twelve minute improvised solo while still riffing in and out of McKenna's fresh beats. The beats stop suddenly, and Birch's sax fades gently into the resurgance of McKenna's gorgeous guitar tones. Top-notch stuff, and as always it can be downloaded for free at Magic Goat. Link below.

Ryan H.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Keith Canisius

Openness Is Dreaminess & Everything In Between (Pen & Pad/Darla, 06.2010)

For: Ride, M83, Cloudland Canyon

Byline: Perennial Danish TOME fav. drops a salivating dream-pop EP before his third full-length

"Openness is Dreaminess & Everything in Between"... yep, that pretty much covers it.

Keith Canisius, who captured our hearts with his so (x 1,000) good remix of Aarktica's "Autumnal" on the In Sea Remix album and his 2009 Waves album, has a body of work that is an addendum filled tome, from the multi-layered exploratory percussion, to buried-under-an-avalanche-of-effects to clear-as-a-bell assured guitar lines, to his multi-tracked, often keyed up but always confident voice. Canisius' oeuvre is rooted in a nostalgic nod to shoegaze and dream-pop acts of the eighties and early nineties while repackaging these influences through a relentless exploration of texture and spatial positioning filtered through the underwater fidelity of 2009 chillwave acts. There is something to be said about persistence of vision. While we are on the topic, this four song EP is a poised and elegant step in the direction of 2009's textured Waves. Mr. Canisius knows how to write hooks, but also knows when to open his compositions up to fuzzed out guitar drones, drum n' bass seques, a cicada-hive of buzzing synths, and at least one semi-disturbing vocal sample rife with pre-teen angst. The EP's title track opens with a ridiculously cheerful, tip-of-the hat to "Sweet Child of Mine" type guitar slaying before being swarmed with a hive of fuzzed out synth lines and Canisius' characteristic nasally, effects-laden voice. "Until we Have Sunshine in our Hearts" is all swirling guitars, propulsive drumming that dips and resurfaces beneath the multi-tracked, shoegaze guitar work. While bands like Ride, Jesus and the Mary Chain come easily to mind it is easy to hear Madchester scene's nouveau brand of psychedelia holding a commanding sway. Early Verve and New Fast Automatic Daffodil, even Brian Jonestown Massacre show up in these songs' aggressive guitar work. The Album closer "Second Thoughts" strips away all the auspices of a rock and roll track to reveal the floating, gorgeous ambient tones and textures that underpin every Keith Canisius track. This may be the most revealtory moment on the album and answers the most questions about who Keith Canisius is.

Ryan H.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Family Trees

Dream Talkin' 7" (Father Daughter, 2010)

For: The Supremes, Beach Fossils, Cass McCombs

Byline: Dear winter: Piss off.

Question: Do the seasons dictate the music or is it the other way around? This week, Denver hit its first extended stretch of 90 degree weather, and also, California's Father Daughter label sent over this Brooklyn band's debut 7" record for us to have a listen-see. Coincidence? Probably. But as soon as I threw this on ol' lady iPod and told her to jam, I started sweating. But it was a nice sweat... nothing unbearable—almost cool and shady. Inside-and-out warmth, but not scorching to the touch. Flip flops, straw hats, sunglasses, iced tea, the whole deal... closing your eyes, swaying with this band's light breeze and finding yourself 'neath the palm fronds is just about the easiest thing to do in the entire boiling-hot planet. For a band that sounds lo-fi, Dream Talkin' doesn't sound very lo-fi at all. The electric guitar shimmers like salmon in the lake with whispers of tremolo, the bass is deep and hollow, and the drums are just there... nothing super special, but nothing on this record really is, and that's what makes it so super special. Three simple songs, a lightly nostalgic eye for Motown days, and hummable tunes that necessitate the frequent use of your playback device's repeat function. I prefer the manual approach, personally: Play, sip, flip, repeat. Play, sip, flip, repeat. Yeahhh.... it's summer alright.

—Craw'z 6/25/10

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Elektryk Bestia

Elektryk Bestia (Self-Released, 06.2010)

For: Pink Floyd, Beta Chicks, King Crimson

Byline: I finally break down and use psychedelic as an adjective. But this time I mean it. Synth-based prog rock out of NY state.

Writing for a small blog like the TOME yields itself to some pretty interesting tangents. If you look at our previous posts the breadth ranges from misanthropic noise acts like the Drowner/Sterile Garden split to Platinum selling Swedish pop acts (see Robyn below). Submissions come to us from just about everywhere, exotic places like Norway, Japan...Denver. I am not, in any way, trying to sound boastful; but finding, and subsequently listening to and interpreting music that I would never hear any other way is the single most rewarding thing about writing for this blog. If you are ever thinking about starting one, do it.

I have been trying to get a pulse on which vein of sub-categorized music floating out there in the interwebs the TOME assiduously covers, and have been coming up with nothing... and everything. I am using this sentence, as well as the first paragraph, to temper and justify one of the latest submissions into the TOME's growing arsenal of bands that I guarantee you have never heard of before you read this. Enter...Elektryk Bestia, from Binghamton, NY. Elektryk Bestia came to my attention by the way of Jarod Goff, a friend with impeccable music tastes. He was at a bar one night and heard Elektryk Bestia play what can only be called the most anti-bar rock imaginable. Bar Rock by definition is supposed to be grating, driving patrons to drink in order to drown out yet another cover of The Doobie Brothers "Give Me The Beat Boys." Elektryk Bestia sound more like a house-band to the milk bar where Alex and his droogs drink in A Clockwork Orange. A polished veneer, full of psychotropic atmospheric properties, but with a very real, and very dangerous, violence boiling beneath the surface.

Elektryk Bestia are at their best when they are at their most exploratory and experimental, utilizing two keyboards to fashion Vangelis-like synthscapes with broad strokes of psychedelic (I know I am a hypocrite for using this word) noise experiments. Think lengthy introductions of sound-art were lost with Dark Side of the Moon? I couldn't help but geek out to the totally awesome recording of a train panning from left to right on the album opener "Enter Bestia." Like I said, Elektryk Bestia succeeds in spades when they let their tightly structured proto-prog numbers slip into free-form, expansive improvised segues that allow the keyboards and lead guitar to wander into various slipstreams of textured ambience and improvised riffing. With that said, the major scale keyboard lines work best when kept out of the drivers seat. The guitar work is amply strong enough to carry the weight of the compositions, it is a wonder why the keyboards aren't kept as simply an exploratory vehicle, shading and filling in where the guitar and bass can't reach. Elektryk Bestia is also at its best when their songs are purely instrumental, the vocal driven tracks carry with them the typical trappings of your everyday rock band. Not bad if you are into that kind of thing, but as developed as Bestia's music is, the vocals feel cumbersome and expected. Bestia seem like they have just about anything up their sleeve, extended improvised bridges stretch out infinitely, synth lines Genesis would covet, and dark, textured atmospherics that literally appear out of thin air. Adding vocals full of double negatives, narrated drug trips, etc... seem too bald-faced, too apparent for a band thriving on doubling back on your expectations.

While such psychotropic milk bars don't exist (except probably somewhere in Holland) Elektryk Bestia will have to settle for setting the faces of bar patrons and basement show attendees afire in Binghamton, NY.

Ryan H.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Body Talk Pt. 1 (Konichiwa/Interscope, 2010)

For: Madonna, Prince, Annie

Byline:Part one in a forthcoming trilogy of pop records sets a high bar on one of the Swedish star’s finest works of to date. Originally published on Used by perimission from inyourspeakers, LLC. Please read full review here

It’s dizzying how much good can fit in such a small folder within the depths of your ever-shrinking hard-drive space. Body Talk pt. 1 is at once painfully short, and packed to the brim with songs that run the gamut from scorching hot to ice cold, and it’s all so pristinely executed in both production and performance. Robyn’s Body Talk series, a forth-coming trilogy of albums all expected to be released this year, represents the finest in pop-song economy, freeze-dried but fully flavored to the max, offering a titanic punch to the gut that’s perfect for your busy schedule (or possibly your daily workout routine). It’s all this and not much more: banging beats, gorgeous singing, sentimentality, humor, heartbreak, and sass all for the modest price of half-an-hour of your time. Impressive, no?

But more impressive is what we can all learn from Robyn in such a short period. How to be cool, how to be reserved, how to be explosive, how to be fearless, how to write a melody, how to hire the right producers, how to make people dance, how to ask someone out on a date, how to do “the robot,” what the hell “dancehall” actually means, how to sing a ballad better than anyone else on the planet, how to speak some Swedish (or at least what a beautifully musical language Swedish can be), and why no matter what, Prince will always be the greatest pop star of all time.

Robyn straddles the line between over-confident hubris and humility-laden honesty, backing up her call-outs when necessary but also letting her emotions get the best of her just when you think she’s being a bit too cocky for her own good. It strikes the perfect balance; she’s your BFF who treats you like shit sometimes but only (you realize later) to make you a better person and because she needs your friendship just as bad as you need hers. But like most pop musicians (and like most movies or TV shows with bitchy characters), she’s most fun during her more scathing moments. In fact, the album’s one and only weak spot might be “Cry When You Get Over.” The textured, lazy synths sound great, and the verses have some truly goose-bump raising moments, but the chorus feels like one of those chord progressions you’ve heard enough times in emo pop-punk to last you the rest of your life. Matched with the live-love-and-learn lessons that aren’t even trying to be disguised, the tune might have you thinking Junior High all over again (and seriously, who wants that?)....

Please read the full review here

—Craw'z 6/23/2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Homemade Extacy (Waaga, 06.2010)

For: Crystal Castles, HEALTH, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Buttons

Byline: Electro beat-terrorism from Denton, TX. White hot.

I have pretty nice headphones. I think I'ver bragged about them in past posts, but still, they are my pride and joy. Even the most malevolent noise-distortion, buried-under-an-avalanche-of-tape-hiss bands sound unbelievably deep and well mixed. It's all in the headphones. With how much I love those guys, there have been two instances where I have thrown—literally hurled them—across the room in terror. And for that, I apologize. The first was when I watched the Spanish horror film Rec. on my laptop while my wife was studying. If you've seen that film you know what I am talking about. The second time happened just yesterday, and was 10-times scarier than the incredibly terrifying final image of that film. I had unwittingly turned the iPod and volume knob to maximum volume before I put on the ol' cans. Everything was turned up to 11. Unfortunately, so was Florene. I put them on unknowingly, and with the first stab of post-industrial beats on the album's title track "Homemade Extacy" I was subjected to something louder and more visceral than the U.S government's experiments in noise-as-torture in Guatanamo Bay.

Florene is loud. Loud in that corporeal sense of chest crushing, breath-shortening oppressiveness of sound. The beats, which sound refreshingly cracked, snowed under, and homemade, are pushed to the absolute front of the mix creating a buzzing, rearview-mirror shaking front end that is informed by the post-rave of Crystal Castles and the industrial grandeur and grime of HEALTH. And Florene stacks up as a worthy contender to both in terms of both power and ingenuity. But where the aforementioned bands use electronica in its form as a launch pad into music with a dizzying amount of qualifiers, Florene is less hyphen-jammed and more likely to fall squarely into the realm of electronic music, albeit in a twisted, fractious way. While Florene's relationship to electronic music is less tangential than their predecessors, they still spit fire with the best of them. "Invitation To Sailing" is full of dizzying climaxes, false summits, and an "omni-tempo maximalism" that justifies the almost 8-minute electro-jam. Vocals, while always present, float freely beneath the cavernous beats, ascending synth lines, and post-punk bass lines in wordless jabbering, Aztec war-cries and whoops. Guitar work comes in washes of processed noise, swirling drones and gorgeous noise swells with a body count. While unhinged from the serpentine melodies on the surface, the human voice recorded low in the mix is the only thing that makes Florene three-dimensional. Without it, Florene would be all in-your-face percussion; pure beat aggression. While doing nothing to soften the exposure of being so close to a nuclear explosion, they do help to give their drawn-out compositions some much needed depth. So far Homemade Extasy has been one of the most exciting and downright jarring releases of the year. This 2010 album, released on Waaga alongside the also-promsing FUR, and soon to be released Sunglasses, represents only the glacier tip of their limited-run, self-released cassettes and CD-R releases. Homemade Extasy is a best-foot-forward kind of introduction into the musical populous. Welcome!

Ryan H.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Holy Ghost!

Static On The Wire EP (DFA, 05.2010)

For: Justice, FLASHLIGHTS, Cut Copy, Double Fantasy

Byline: Brooklyn's dynamic disco duo most notable for their stellar remixes drop their long-awaited EP on DFA records.

Indie-dance music, or whatever you want to call it, for how insular and pigeon-holed it is, has its share of certified club bangers—those songs that get the biggest returns from DJs when played in the club. It'd be a waste of our time to rattle off a list here, if you know what I'm talking about you know what I'm talking about. Agreed? If there has been one group that has been setting the dancefloor ablaze with their minstrel-like take on disco-house, diving head-first into minimalist interpretations of Kraut heroes NEU! through the sexed up glitter-jams of Prince it is...Oh man, I totally lost interest in that sentence. Let's start over: Holy Ghost! are two Brooklynites who make beats but are mostly known for their stellar remix work. The remix of Panther's "Goblin City" is transcendental, spiritually edifying, "like looking into the face of God and him telling you that you are his most treasured creation," or something to that effect. They've established themselves as credible remixers of the stars, doing choice cuts for MGMT, Moby, Phoenix, and just about every band to ever be attached to the DFA roster. So to hear these dudes doing their own thing provides some insight onto the group's overall aesthetic: Static On The Wire jives well with their remix history, sporting long droning beats over cheesy 80's influenced synth lines and even cheesier guitar shredding courtesy of John MacLean (of The Juan MacLean). None of the songs are too obtrusive; polite little numbers that would fit in well in any DJ's set (and their July appearance at Fabric in London should prove this). But on the whole, these tunes fail to garner any real satisfying rewards. That is, until "I Will Come Back" drops. That song has a vocal hook that is structurally designed to be remixed into the next century—hot as the center of the sun itself. Holy Ghost!'s music is athletic, has the energy of a jazzercise class, and the steely, locked in gaze of Don Johnson's Miami Vice Ray-Bans. You've been warned, but by the time you catch your reflection in the mirrored shades, it's over.

Indie-dance may have its hits, and Holy Ghost! has remixed probably about half of them, but this time, they're about to add a few of their own.

Ryan H.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Drowner / Sterile Garden

Split CD-R (Basement Tapes/What We Do Is Secret, 2010)

For: John Weise, Christian Meth, Supersilent

Byline: ...WHAT?!

So today is Friday, and I guess I just needed my ear drums blasted out. You ever get that way? You come into work, your boss is hammering you for just about anything he can/wants to, you're exhausted, you have a shitty lunch waiting for you in the freezer, the phone is ringing off the hook and you just want to get out? Of the office? Of your life? Scream, shout, run your nails on a chalkboard, make everyone around you just shut the cuss up? I need something to drown out the ambient stupidness of office life. Ah, here we go. Meet Drowner and Sterile Garden—a friendly pair of ear-splitters by way of Seattle, WA and Ft. Collins, CO (respectively) who are helping me out today with my little problem. This disc is full of high-pitched squeals, terrifying feedback, windy wooshes, creepy wooden knocks and enough unsettling static to fill a department store-full of broken TV sets. Drowner is admittedly the louder of the two, unabashed, unapologetic, and unbelievably deafening. This side feels more industrial with hissing pipes, yards of tape, flickers of coded messages in atmospheric frequencies, and dank, wallowing pit-of-dispair sewer-like settings. This music, with its pulsing, beating, throbbing volume gives you the urge to grab your hair in anguish: Yes. You are going insane right now. Sterile Garden represents the stormier, moodier, creepier set of compositions. Three tracks that remind me of Blair Witch Project for some reason (or maybe some other budget horror movie...) - dark, cold, lonely, a sound filtered through old scratchy film, and Sterile Garden also captures a suspenseful tension that will make your spine simply crawl. That deep yellow-brown color of the paper the artwork was printed on paints an appropriately hollow landscape for the sounds—old, sepia-tone, and haunted with ghostly apparitions. Oddly enough, with all this horrific (TERrific) noise, the result of playing this one through is somehow sheer silence. Nothing else is there because nothing else can fit in my head. Sorry boss, I'm busy not hearing you right now. Leave a message.

—Craw'z 6/18/2010

Buy this here: Basement Tapes Blog

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beach Fossils

Beach Fossils (Captured Tracks, 05.2010)

For: Real Estate, The Clientele, Yo La Tengo, Sleepover

Byline: Breezy, summery lo-fi sweetness from the indomitable Captured Tracks label.

Summer albums. You either love to hate them, or you hate that you love them so much. I am going to tip the scales here and say I am absolutely in love with this album. No begruding "yeah, it's goood, buuut..." I am smitten. Released on Memorial Day, Brooklyn's Beach Fossils revel in ubiquity... the clean single note guitar lines, cardboard drumming, and washed out vocals are designed to tread lightly, as to not intrude on your beach party, summer road trip, or back deck kegger overlooking a moonlight beach (as beer commercials have lead me to believe happen on a regular basis). When it comes to hooks, Beach Fossils choose to embed these deep into Dustin Payseur's rambling guitar lines instead of the standard verse-chorus arrangement. In fact, aside from the strong vocal melodies on each song, there is nary a vocal hook on the whole album. Things get dodgy when Payseur's floating vocals try to compete with the already overstated guitar lines. This misstep occurs only occasionally, most notably on the album's most grating song "Vacation". Other than that Beach Fossils is pitch-perfect. The 11 songs swim by in a way that simultaneously enraptures you while lulling you into the haze of a sunset captured on 8mm film. Things don't get much brighter or warmer.

While not having much ambition to rise out and above the current musical landscape of similar lo-fi summer boardwalk bands, there isn't much to complain about either. Musically astute, Payseur's guitar work is top notch, creating memorable, hummable hooks that serve vehicle for the album's emotional weight. Beach Fossils evoke an emotion, it is just difficult to categorize what that is. While incessantly up-tempo, a pervading sense of nostalgia saturates the album. Perhaps Beach Fossils (as the name would imply) isn't so much a summer lived in right now, but an adolescent summer vacation remembered through a picture album stored in the wood paneled living room of your parents house. Either way, Beach Fossils is the best summer album of 2010, or 1993.

Ryan H.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Devil Whale

Young Wives EP (Kilby, 06.2010)

For: The Animals, Blitzen Trapper, John Wesley Harding era Bob Dylan

Byline: While only a six song EP, the classic rock-inspired SLC group's latest effort is the most accomplished and instrumentally lush album of their career. Originally published on Used by Permission from inyourspeakers, LLC.

Please read full review here.

....On paper, Young Wives seems like it could fly apart at any second. A stylistic expansion, an about-face in lyrical content, an attempt to incorporate diverse instrumentation while playing looser than they ever before—all of this crowded beneath the backyard wedding tent of a six song EP. Young Wives is centrifugal in scope, keeping all the spinning plates fixed at an unmoving center by an abundance of incredible hooks. Hooks. The Devil Whale have got ‘em. And while the hooks on Young Wives are tantalizing moments of pop melodic brilliance, they are often too huge to reel in. They drag the listener, almost unwittingly, into the heavy undercurrent of a composition like “TV Zoo” in which a swirling woodwind section and Rhodes piano make grand overtures to artists as diverse as Lou Reed and Efterklang. Moments like these, are wholly unexpected, and ensure residual returns because of the steady foundations of classic instrumentation and wide-eyed experimentation Young Wives is built on.

Aiming at a more refined sphere musically, Brinton Jones’s lightly twanged, gravelly voice (sounding like Ryan Adams before he became a parody of himself) and songwriting corral everything into a fluid, moving composition. Characteristically subdued, Jones’ AM-Gold voice makes his vocal-chord shredding audible on the bluesy chorus “Barracudas”. A much-needed burner on an EP full of gorgeous, fully formed songs. Jones’ songwriting is at its best when he decides to bunt rather than go for the grand slam. His sparse phrases that rely on subtext more than description pull more emotional weight than his clown-car jamming of nouns and last-verse desperation in songs like “TV Zoo” and “Barracudas”. While overly verbose at times, these moments don’t come often, and in this case a swing and a miss is more admirable than playing it safe would have been.

Young Wives, although relatively short, is informed by a pedigree of albums produced in the late 1960s-1970s that were meticulous in their exploration of sound. This weekend, I found myself on a long drive with nothing but a Journey three-disc compilation to listen to. While being completely eye-rolling at times, I couldn’t help make similarities between early Journey songs and The Devil Whale, not that they sound anything alike. Listening to those songs I began thinking, “man, they don’t make songs like these anymore”, songs with meticulous attention to detail and space enough to fill with handclaps, oboes, group sing-alongs, and bottomless instrumentation. The Devil Whale makes those songs. Don’t stop believing.

Ryan H.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Philadelphia Experiment - Kurt Vile, Rosetta, Free Energy

Greetings! - Back from the Keystone state and I would like to dedicate this section of the TOME to two good friends, Theo Wheeland and Devin King, both residents of Philadelphia, PA. This goes out to them, and to all those of you living in the City of Brotherly Love. These three albums came out this year, were written about by me and Crawf, but have yet to see the light of day on the TOME, so with out further ado....

Kurt Vile

Square Shells EP (Matador, 05.2010)

For: Bruce Springsteen, Wooden Shjips, Blues Control

Philly's Constant Hitmaker's 2009 release Childish Prodigy was rightly praised up and down on the TOME last year. Mr. Vile's combination of strumming singer-songwriter looseness and blues madman howl paired with his psych-drone experimentation (ran through the ubiquitous analog fuzz of 2009) was incredibly refreshing take on the genre, yielding some immediate summer jams. Square Shells largely picks up where Childish Prodigy left off, but with this new batch of songs, the omnipresent lo-fi pall of tape-hiss is gone, leaving Vile's unadorned voice to carry the bulk of the songs. Kurt Vile is one of the few singers in this realm, who, when stripped of the auspices of the lo-fi aesthetic, has more than enough talent to remain a listenable and downright talented singer. No Age pulled off a similar transition last year with their incredible Losing Feeling EP. Vile's voice strikes a keen resemblance to the lazy strummers of Lou Reed, the nasally sneer of Bob Dylan, and a less-paranoid Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen (minus the obvious Suicide influence). The bulk of the album is made up of strummed acoustic numbers are interspersed throughout the EP. Kurt Vile, more than anything is known as a talented and innovative guitar player, a close listen on most of these laid-back acoustic songs reveal a buzzing hive of guitar drones, looped effects, and deep-buried backwards weirdness that characterized the amazing Childish Prodigy. These moves are less apparent on this EP, but the hardest found corners of backtracked bizarreness offer the greatest rewards. One track that shows its hand on its onset is the album's most memorable song, "Invisibility: Nonexistent". Starting with a 4-4 electronic beat and a distorted wash of guitar that gradually fades into a picked acoustic guitar line and a bevy of sustained guitar tones floating in and out, the song reveals itself, for the first three minutes at least, as Kurt Vile's best written song. His voice has never sounded this naked, or honest, and his lyrics are the most heartbreakingly candid of his career, he sings, "there is no peace in the songs they sing/maybe comfort is to come traveling/I find it in a dog/I find in a drug/I find it, but I don't know where to put it/then it's gone." After these confessions Vile retreats back behind his wall of noise guitar drones, letting his eastern-influenced guitar ragas be his voice in communicating a palpable feeling of sadness. Kurt Vile is ingenious, here's to hoping the full-length exceeds our already lofty expectations.

Ryan H.



The Determinism of Morality (Translation Loss, 05.2010)

For: Isis, Pelican, Envy

Originally published on Used by permission from inyourspeakers, LLC.

Please read the full review here

In a recent and excellent interview with SLUG magazine, Rosetta guitarist Matt Weed said, “I’m getting more intentional in figuring out how you can communicate hope in the format we are using.” The format, for those unfamiliar with the Philadelphia quartet, is genre-blurring metal that relies heavily on atmospherics and soaring shoegaze-influenced guitars to create sprawling tracks that move from brutally heavy to immediate and cathartic. A Determinism of Morality coalesces the ambient segues and straightforward metal of their wildly ambitious debut double LP and expands on the melodic genre-meld of 2007’s Wake/Lift...

So where does “hope” exist in a genre so casually associated with violence (both musically and lyrically) and cultural isolation? How does a metal band turn the conceit back on itself without, you know, going all Stryper on us? I can pinpoint it down the exact second. After about 1:30 of subtle major chord riffing over Bruce McMurties all-over-the-place snare rolls and plodding bass drum kicks on the song “Revolve,” titanic gang vocals rip through the track at 1:43, in a moment that splits the difference between a rolling-in-the-aisles Pentecostal outburst and a gladiatorial war cry. It is in this moment that Rosetta’s mission, their whole raison d’etre, makes sense. A declarative statement of purpose and personal evolution coming out of a genre so rigidly transfixed in its own cultural baggage that expressing anything outside of the basal line of general worldly dissatisfaction seems impossible and woefully uncool. A total abandonment of principles, man....

....It is safe to say that Rosetta are not working in a vacuum. While being informed by peers Tombs, Cave-In, Balboa, and Pelican, Rosetta stand apart in their ability to combine their influences seamlessly while pushing into sonic terrain that is relentlessly optimistic, exploring emotions that exist on the periphery of metal....

...Being a non-musician in the world of music journalism sometimes has its advantages. For example, most music, no matter how ill-executed, still retains a sense of mystery for me, just for the sheer fact that I can’t do it. While I rely heavily on musician friends to help me navigate through some of the technical aspects of basic musical structure, I still engage music on a purely emotional level, a subjective knee-jerk reaction tempered by years of over-analyzing and a commitment to listening to an album at least three times before even beginning to formulate an opinion. Hearing Rosetta for the first time is an experience in which the pure emotional release cuts through any formulaic breakdown of the elements going into the music. All other considerations go out the window; sometimes it is better to listen to music in a cloud of unknowing.


Free Energy

Stuck on Nothing (DFA, 04.2010)

For: Girls, T. Rex, Citay

Originally published on Used by permission from inyourspeakers, LLC.

Please read the full review here

Free Energy are a new band out of Philadelphia, and one with the luckiest luck in the entire free world, getting miraculously placed on the distinguished DFA record label, and having its debut album gorgeously produced and released by the one and only James Murphy. Or—and this is the one I’m having trouble with—Free Energy is just a truly kick ass band. Why is it so hard for me to admit one, and recoil with defeat on the other? Does the good outweigh the bad, or is this one just not even worth your time?

For one, and I’ll get this over quick, it’s a bit disheartening and totally annoying that you can hum “Louie Louie” over several of the album’s tracks (especially “Bang Pop”—a clear exercise in simpleton, numskull high-fivery). It’s also a bummer that both “Dream City” and “All I Know” are extremely close to being utter ripoffs of T. Rex classics—see the latter group’s “Mambo Sun” in particular. “Dark Trance,” has a melody I swear Rivers Cuomo owns the copyright on... the list just goes on and on.

But the band gets some bonus points for sounding amazing, which is likely due primarily to the production work of James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Guitars are not only appropriately shredded track to track, dueling and solo alike, but they’re also mixed and processed wonderfully in brilliant hi-fidelity stereo. Everything is thick, full, and crisp. “Bang Pop” makes use of subtle effects like slap-back that make the guitars pop like neon colors. Some clever arrangements of strings, horns, and auxiliary percussion save a track like “All I Know,” keeping some of the less-than-original compositions at least mildly interesting. And I have to give some love for the panning drum fills on “Bad Stuff”—just cheesy enough to raise a smile.

Additionally—and this is the key to Free Energy—there are the lyrics to buoy this one up a bit. Ultimately, there’s nothing terribly evil going on with Free Energy—at least nothing as insidious as with a band like Jet. At first, it seems like these guys are performing a similar function, writing pop tunes about getting wasted and chasing tail. But upon repeated listens, there seems to be an underlying optimism that finds its way into these tracks’ subconscious. And it’s a feeling that uplifts, excites, and inspires, rather than just give the listener a boner. “If you wanna get high, just open your eyes” is the kind of line that reminds us it’s not simply enough to be alive, but rather, it becomes endlessly important in this soul-sucking media overload of culture to recognize that we’re alive and remember why that is important. This album is about seizing life moment by moment through a refusal to sit still. It is about abandoning authority, and championing a neglect for inhibitions above all else. It’s wind in your hair, foam in your glass, and a summer’s worth of freedom.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Blank Dogs

Phrases EP (Captured Tracks, 2010)

For: Blessure Grave, The Crocodiles, Joy Division

Byline: Goth-bedroom pop

Captured Tracks has really made some headway this year releasing consistently amazing records and perhaps single-handedly ushering in a first-wave goth revival. The label's newest acquisition to their already stellar roster is this 2009 slacker/goth-pop blog fav. Blank Dogs. We're backtracking a little bit here in anticipation of the band's third, forthcoming full-length (and first for Captured Tracks) this month, but what we have in the way of this four song EP is leaving us salivating... so much so we had to say something. Given the above comparisons you probably already have an idea of what Blank Dogs are working with. Coming out of 2008's summer fuzz-pop explosion, Blank Dogs steer these new tracks out of the warm analog hiss and into the cold, bored austerity of 80's post-punk and pop. Joy Division is almost too easy of a comparison, with lockstep bass line-following, ice-cold synth lines and consistently wicked guitar riffing. But where Joy Division and their black-clad minions were consistently bleak, Blank Dogs find ways to filter the "what-do-we-care" surf bum mentality of those summer '08 lo-fi luminaries through the icy landscape of a Brooklyn winter. The result is more akin to Echo and the Bunnymen type jangle-pop melancholia, especially on the album standout "Blurred Tonight." A backwards steel drum comes out of nowhere, punching a hole in the the angular guitar playing and constant click track. This recent prospect of a new wave of bedroom-goth bands making names for themselves, most of them associated with Captured Tracks (with Blank Dogs, Blessure Grave, Soft Moon, and Crocodiles) has me thinking it might be time to dust off that old Killing Joke T-Shirt.

Ryan H.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tame Impala

Innerspeaker (Modular, 2010)

For: The Clientele, Dungen, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix

Byline: I guess "psychedelic" is a 4-letter word. Oh well. These guys are psych-tastic.

So... time to be confrontational: Ryan H. hurt my feelings. In his recent review of Woodsman's new Mystery Tape EP, Ryan said he "hates" using the word "psychedelic."


Should I feel bad about using the word myself, like millions of times throughout my reviews here on the TOME? Should I feel bad about wanting to use said 11-letter/4-letter word like a gazillion times in my review of this Aussie trio's debut LP? Well, even if I should feel bad, I'm not going to let that stop me. So SOR—RY, Mr. Hall... there's so much reverb, delay and swirling textures saturating these 11 absolutely beautiful songs, it's impossible to not at least recognize that listening to Innerspeaker is the audio equivalent to soaring gracefully high on LSD—seeing shit that's not really there, feeling a little uncomfortable and yet wonderfully at peace with the cosmic riddles of the universe and finding the beauty in just about everything that crosses your eye's (and ear's) path. The sounds are so visual, visceral, buzzingly buoyant (edit: sometimes... see the heavy Zeppelin-stomp of "The Bold Arrow of Time"), hyper-colorful, and radioactively glowing. And the good thing is that Tame Impala's music is also grounded in the wonderful world of pop — 70's riff-centric rock song structures and a heavy focus on melody tether the band before they take off into tempestuous, rip-roaring improvisational feedback-laden noise jams. Tame Impala's axe is actually a chainsaw—motorized, sputtering and searing with a deadly abandon for something you might consider "clean." Tame Impala continues on where Dungen sort of left us all sitting there slack-jawed and wide-eyed from Ta Det Lungt, and holy wow did we ever need for that to happen (Don't get me wrong, 4 is a gem, too, just for different reasons). The 70's just don't seem to want to go away, and another dose is anything but unwelcome, especially when the aesthetic is so perfectly captured—Harrison, Hendrix (yeah, OK, late-60s, too), and Page (and all those other awesome dudes on those fabulous Nuggets compilations)? They're all faithfully memorialized here, and this writer, for one, couldn't be happier.

Oh, and for the record, I only used the "P" word... twice! That's pretty good, right?



—Craw'z 6/11/10

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Funki Porcini

On (Ninja Tune, 2010)

For: Amon Tobin, Squarepusher, Bonobo

Byline: Ninja Tune turns in another winner despite dangerously flirting with the "lounge" tag as James Bradell's latest runs a wide gamut of electronic styles alongside wistful improvisations. ***Originally published on Used by permission from Inyourspeakers, LLC.

Theoretically, could a robot play jazz? Like any other genre as old and storied as jazz in all its various permutations throughout the years—such a vigorously, consistently studied, practiced, and performed art—this style has endured largely through its cultivation and use of certain basic properties. Many of these have to do with sheer mechanics—what tones are produced through which instruments, the rhythms used, the essence of rolling-triplet swing, the ballad, the burner, the 12-bar blues, the 32-bar A-A-B-A form, etc. It makes sense that any mechanical attributes to a style of music could indeed be emulated by a computer processing unit, and this simple fact, from classical to rock, to hip-hop, to disco and dance and back again, has created a massively huge macro-genre of electronically generated music, (perhaps foolishly) blanketed simply as “electronica.” But there’s something cold behind a lot of electronic music, that icy beating heart of a metronomic calculator regurgitating simply what it’s been programmed to do. And jazz is a bit different—there’s something else there; something less predictable, inherently tied to the emotional and imaginative responses of which only the human brain is truly capable. This, of course, is the style’s ultimate calling card: the art of improvisation. That wonderful, whimsical way an artist can use technical mastery combined with the creative human spirit to make something wholly unique with each go around—to tell a different story each time.

It is this element that James Bradell, a.k.a. Funki Porcini, wisely clings to in his moody, meditative compositions, and indeed what shines most brightly on this, his sixth official release for the cult-followed experimental hip-hop label Ninja Tune. And actually, this is really the only element of jazz that carries through to Bradell’s work (except for swing... yeah, he can do that. Hard.) Much like his contemporaries, Squarepusher and Amon Tobin, his Funkiness seems to be on the cusp of jazz music’s next step, dropping a traditionally structured format, traditional band setups, etc. and opting instead for a visceral, modal approach, creating soundscapes based on simple motifs—generally bass and drum grooves—and building from there, layering soft textures and harmonic undertones to solidify the feel before allowing an instrument to head off to the races—a synth, a vibraphone, a piano, a demonically processed saxophone (Charlie Parker... in Hell?). Instruments flow from the recognizable—found in the bewilderingly precise, bop-tastic drumming, walking upright bass-lines, and scattered horn samples—to the mysterious, synthetic, and obviously processed, including his trademark time-stretched manipulations of vocals...

...Computers will (hopefully... let’s not get into “Terminator” conspiracy theories quite yet) never be without their organic components—the men and women who so painstakingly connect their brains with circuit boards to create recordings for us to ponder and enjoy. Those in the Ninja Tune coup (which is currently on a refreshing upswing with the release of Bonobo’s notable Black Sands earlier this year), are thankfully putting in the extra effort to connect with listeners in a way that is undeniably human. Funki Porcini is nowhere without his laptop, but his style simply can’t be divorced from what comes naturally to a true musician: the creative, mindful spirit that is overflowing with fleeting, in-the-moment ideas that blurt forth with both excitement and control.

Please read the full review here.

—Craw'z 6/10/2010

Funki Porcini Official MySpace

Ninja Tune Records Official Website

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Mystery Tape EP (Lefse Records, 06.2010)

For: High Country, Wooden Shjips, Emeralds

Byline: Blissed-out, wooly drone-psych from Denver, CO. containing one of the best singles of the year. See below.

Greetings from the Keystone state! I am in Troy, PA visiting my wife's family for the week. Crawf is holding down the fort so I am going to be brief. But I just couldn't wait to get this off my chest. Do we have a treat for you in the way of a stellar EP from one of Denver's most distinguished (in terms of the sheer amount of semi-mainstream media gushing) export in the last couple of years.

The surprisingly long EP, five songs at thirty minutes, is split between three nomadic, psych-drone compositions that bleed into each other. A sort of emulsified poultice made out of rainbow blood and dirt. Woodsman is all murky tones, distorted feedback loops conjured out swirling guitar drones. Vocals, when present, are buried deep within the troths of infinite waves of analog warmness. Side A holds a truly magical moment for me, all the quasi-spiritual imagery aside, "When The Morning Comes" is a hot contender for best single of the year in 2010. Starting with a rocksteady 4-4 time signature and some Enigma-like tribal singing, a wash of noise comes rumbling across the headphones slowly, like watching a thunderstorm gather over a prarie, until it envelops all sound, sucking noise from every possible outlet until the absolute breaking point. When it breaks, it breaks like a levee of creative possibility. The quartet breaks out in just about every direction. The "Return To Innocence" shouting intensifies, the drums break into a deeply hypnotic groove, and guitars swirl, double back on themselves, layer feedback upon no-input distortion laden passages, with some Tone Loc-style vinyl scratches thrown in for good measure. Holy wow, what a great song.

The record's latter half and bulk of the album is a slightly more psychedelic affair, as much as I hate using that word. But when I say "psychedelic" I don't mean some lazy, journalistic term used to describe something hazy and free-floating, I use it to tie this album into the timeline of rock-and-roll itself. With obvious references to their Kraut idols, "Balance" and "Smells Like Purple" are instrumental long players that utilize the standardized tools within the rock-and-roll garage kit. Anchored by a heavy rhythm section, guitars and weird sampled noises are set loose like a 16 year old behind a wheel, with just about the same sense of reckless wonder. Deep washes of Pink Floyd, Amon Düül, and Can appear on the last, and triumphantly placed, side B.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Tjutjuna (Self-Released/Fire Talk, 2010)

For: Pink Floyd, Acid Mothers Temple, Tortoise

Byline: Q: Can a mythical beast be found in the stars? And if so, does he wear rainbow sunglasses, and why would he do such a thing? A: Probably “yes” to both. I would think. And I have no idea why he would do such a thing. Shut up and download this.

So I’m going to go ahead and call this self-titled effort a debut. Now, this Denver quartet has been around the block, there’s no question. When I first met these fellas, they went under the moniker of “Mothership.” The group has been together as Mothership for quite some time now, growing up together in the mountainous town of Evergreen, Colorado, spending almost every summer BBQ holiday together, and jamming epic space-prog since high school, or even possibly further back. So when the group dropped the previous name for the much more awesome “Tjutjuna” last year, I guess it was meant to signal a change. What happened, here, you may ask, to this band you’ve never heard of before (except that amazing vinyl single you never actually ordered... remember that one?), and is now being blogged about on the cusp of the group’s first-ever (finally) tour of the Southwest with friends and co-producing cohorts Woodsman (currently riding some recent buzz and on the brink of a brand new EP out through Sacramento’s Lefse imprint)?

Well the first thing they did was drop the vocals entirely. Tjutjuna is now an instrumental band, and this is a very welcome change of internal structure. The band revolves around the band now more than anything else, and even with all the swirling effects, digital noise-noodles and clouds of distorted ambient bliss, they somehow manage to sound more like a true quartet than many... you know, other quartets. Bass, drums, guitar, and synth-noise. It’s as simple as that, and when stripping down and zeroing in on musicianship and texture first and foremost, the fruits of a more intensified, detailed look at each of these elements pays off in spades with moments of psychedelic swathes that streak across starry skies and traverse thickly wooded marshes. Tjutjuna’s songs are cyclically structured, centering around simple chord progressions, hypnotically repeating bass lines, and hard driving drum grooves that run a breadth from jungle-treading low tom jams to astral-gliding, motorik krautrock. But the guitar tones are what sets this band apart—so full, robust, and thick, but also weightless, floating and achingly beautiful. Warping textures throughout the record’s short span ensure that even the 9-minutes of “Riseset” remain hopelessly engaging, so easy to get lost in while you’re subconsciously banging your head against the wall to its throbbing forward motion, and its hard-rocking sections will all but force you to throw up the horns to boot. But the best is saved for last with “The Swish” and “Tatanka Spirit," which recall the beautiful harmonies Pink Floyd always seemed hellbent on force-feeding devotees. No matter what type of groove Tjutjuna chooses to champion (alliteration!!) from track to track, the band remains uncommonly focused for a “psychedelic” outfit, and with the benefit of time and experience, they've reemerged on record as truly a fully-formed grouping of talented artists and devoted, detailed tone-smiths, thus proving to be the next big thing in the world of prog-rock. This is neither presumption nor prediction. This is certainty. You’ve got a chance to hop on the bandwagon early before this thing gets picked up on a label and all your friends have to buy what you discovered for free. Head to Tjutjuna’s blogspot and download this............................


—Craw’z 6/8/2010

Tjutjuna Official MySpace

Tjutjuna Official Blog

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shugo Tokumaru

Port Entropy (P Vine Records, 2010)

For: Sufjan Stevens, Pastels/Tenniscoats, Miki Odagiri

Byline: Japanese multi-instrumentalist flexes his songwriting muscles to the max in this endlessly fun, gloriously upbeat and optimistic album of which you won’t understand a word

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

Hi there! How are you? It’s so good to see you! My day? Well, thanks for asking! Yeah, my day was good. You know, the Gulf of Mexico is spewing oil at an unsettling rate, and has been for well over a full month now. President Obama just ordered a bunch of troops to the border to monitor illegal immigration. That’s pretty cool. Also, the stocks fell today! I got yelled at by my boss at work again—sales are down for the company for about the sixth month straight! Oh! And I listened to this Port Entropy album by Shugo Tokumaru, like, five times straight. So, me? Yeah, life is good... life is just great! How could it be bad?

What’s that? You feel rotten? Down in the dumps? You feel like life is caving in all around you? You don’t know where to turn? Well my buddy, my chum, my pal... I don’t blame you. But hey now, there are steps you can take toward a sunnier, happier life, and one of them is to listen to this music—these accordions, toy pianos, ukeleles, steel drums, glockenspiels, strings and more; these sugary-sweet melodies, these upbeat poly-rhythms, these playful stoccato patterns and floating acoustical musings. You can, and you will, smile. You’ll smile wide; ear-to-ear, goofy-looking, shit-eating grins, that’s what you’ll have. I don’t have a single clue in the world what this Tokumaru fellow, this Japanese multi-instrumentaling, indie folk-pop, singer/songwriting guy is saying to me in my headphones. He could be telling me to go to hell. He could be telling me to purse-nap the next little old lady I see walking down the street. Somehow, though, these scenarios are very doubtful. Take “Lahaha,” and “Rum Hee”—a one-two punch that represents the musical equivalent of laughter itself. To listen to Port Entropy is to know Shugo Tokumaru as little more than the sweet, sensitive, effortlessly jubilant young man he likely is. He wants you to feel better, look outside at the gorgeous spring weather, go swimming, eat an ice cream cone, and above all enjoy your life, because it is beautiful.

Port Entropy opens with “Platform,” a short instrumental piece that fades in softly, as in a morning sunrise over a rolling prairie landscape before the entire environment comes to life with banjos, synths and a stately tempo. The instruments, which are many, varied, and all excellently performed (instantly recalling the work of Sufjan Stevens), take on certain personalities within Port Entropy’s careful and manifold song arranging. They assemble an animated, bubbly cast of cartoon characters that skitter and dance about the album’s more upbeat numbers. Sometimes, the resulting effect is a bit much, like in the closing seconds of “Laminate,” which ends the beautifully sentimental ballad with a quirky xylophone scale that almost trips over itself with excitement. But on the whole, these instruments are chosen carefully and wisely, providing a full and lush backdrop for Tokumaru’s breezy songwriting to sit in a warm, and comfortable nest of sound....

...I’ll admit, my last two experiences with Japanese culture have not been quite so upbeat. First was my renting of, watching of, and subsequently bawling over Louis Psihoyos’ compelling and excellent, yet completely depressing documentary about the Japanese dolphin industry, “The Cove.” Next was “Battle Royale,” a sunny little tale about a Japanese government who forces a middle school class of children to fight to the death on a deserted island using various weaponry with brutally grotesque results. Yeah, that one improved my outlook. The point (not that these two films in any way represent some overarching doomsday aesthetic for the culture as a whole) is that it’s refreshing to have this product of Japanese art in my life that’s not quite so dismal, especially right now. We could all use a good, healthy laugh; something heartwarming, full of curiosity, hope and joy. Even if that’s not what this album is all about, that’s what this album is all about. If you can scrounge up the 2,500 yen and shipping costs, this one is absolutely worth the effort to seek out and find yourself falling into like the soft, pillowy bed of feathers it is. Or, we can all just start a petition to get this thing released stateside. Let me know... I want vinyl.

Please read the full review here.

—Craw'z 6/7/2010