Thursday, July 26, 2012
While Aufheben is still very much a rock and roll record and fueled by the band's garage prowess, they've expanded their sounds, textures, and vibes so much it's truly impressive. Aufheben is a psychedelic rock and roll record that's post-shoegazing, chanson, rock and roll, prog, and just about everything else. It's an expansive, huge sounding record that's musically fascinating and exciting to listen to. Anton has a vivid imagination and it's evident all over Aufheben. Songs seemingly stretch on for days and wander the galaxy on a space jam of epic proportions and then fall back to earth for a seductive night with the French. Imagine Stereolab mixing it up with a bunch of hippified prog rockers and you have a good idea of where this album is flying in from. In a word, Aufheben is awesome.
With all kinds of instruments, spacial guitars, lots of riffs that linger, driving beats, vocals from the outer reaches of space and songs that are mystical, mysterious, and out of this world Aufheben is an amazing effort by BJM. Anton has really out done himself here with a cohesive but free roaming series of jams that rock as much as they warp through space. It's so good that it sounds as if things within the world of the Brian Jonestown Massacre might be stable enough to allow this record to kick a little butt. Easily on of their best and quite potentially one of my favorites on 2012, Aufheben is a great record.
Featuring a whole host of genres including techno, chill out and the much maligned dubstep to name a few Stott creates a dizzying and mystifying atmosphere within each of his songs. The songs are expansive, airy, and as mysterious as the image on the cover. Fusing all kinds of traditional sounds with modern wobbles, squiggles, and throbs Arcana comes off as a global journey around the dance floor stopping at all ports along the way. Stott does an excellent job of mixing all these sounds together and the songs on Arcana are in a word awesome. The rhythms, the synths, and the sounds they wash over you in a tranquil, serene and mystical way that soothe your soul while finding new ways to move your feet.
Whether it’s dubstep or traditional wind insturmenation Jef Stott isn't afraid of anything. He's an explorer and music serves as his unchartered sea. Each sound opens the opportunity for something else, something different and an ability to expand his musical consciousness. Arcana is awesome because of this and it's the sort of record that while obviously geared to a certain market has more than enough appeal to cross over into new territories. My guess is that's exactly what Stott wants to do.
Much like their name Obstacles is a bit of a misnomer as it's anything but difficult to listen to. Rather the songs are easy on the ears and almost feel as pure and heavenly as a spring rain. This record has such a classic feel to it and such a cool aesthetic that it's hard not to become gripped by vocalist Savannah's hypnotic vocals. Obstacles is good stuff and while it's not necessarily an immediate record the thing works its magic very subtly. Songs are sublime, quiet, and unobtrusive. This is an album that gently makes its presence felt and when you discover it you feel compelled to pay attention to it. With post-gazing flourishes, jangly guitars, and a sense of contentment Obstacles feels very comfortable.
Excellently played and expertly crafted Obstacles is a classic in the making...and if you're old like me...you'll feel a sense of comfortable familiarity with Island Audio. Island Audio is awesome at what they do. They very artfully go about crafting songs that make gentle impressions in your subconscious and by the time Obstacles finishes the only obstacle remaining is you walking away from the record.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Holy mother of remixes. Some singles are short and sweet, some on the other hand are so incredibly huge that it's not even really fair to call them singles any more. That's the case with ED Sedgwick's new single for Heat Wave. Clocking in at an incalculable eleven mixes the single is really an album with so many different takes on the original it's nearly impossible to keep up with them all. Remixes bounce off of remixes and collide into acapella's and the whole thing is a dance floor destructor of such proportions it might just have to be made illegal.
ED Sedgwick are awesome as is but when you add remix talent from the likes of Triobelisk, Pink Skull, Gold Corner, Davis White, Greg Saunier and many more you have a smorgasbord of styles, genres, and remixes to choose from. Sure not everyone of them is spot on or great but for the most part Heat Wave is very good. It's a post punk synth pop electronic battle weapon so deadly you'll need kid gloves just to listen to it. Think The Rapture but with more grooves and boy girl vocals trading on and off while the whole thing comes off the rails. It's amazing stuff and proves once again that the ED kids are really like the best undiscovered massive talent in this country. Heat Wave is as essential as food and water. Seriously.
When the Japanese Popstars ask you to go for a ride...you simply cannot resist. The groups latest single RS27 is a mind numbing, car racing, cowbell clanging electronic journey at a thousand miles an hour. "RS27," is a massive tune that's ridiculously catchy, fast, furious, and fantastic. In other words this is one ride worth going on. Awesome wavy synths accelerate into infinity as drums race along picking up the pace along the way and the whole thing sounds like a road race and the sort of thing that inspires unsafe behavior.
With two remixes and two B-sides sitting next to it, RS27 is an absolutely massive undertaking. If there's a song that kicks your butt this summer or becomes the soundtrack to Formula One racing this would be it. When you throw in the two B-sides, "Bopper," and "Static," the whole thing becomes unstoppable machinery at work. Bopper is a slaphappy electro banger that skitters its way across the dance floor and disappears into some clangy techno territory; it's nice stuff. "Static," on the other hand starts off as this minimal dark tune that sort of just buzzes around until the static takes over and it fades out and closes the single.
The Japanese Popstars have continually unleashed barrages of good stuff and RS27 is no different. From the B-sides to taking a ride The Japanese Popstars are constantly turning tunes at a high rate of speed.
White Arrows' latest single Fireworks of the Sea is a sun drenched Balearic indie pop slice of heaven. Pieced together with ethereal guitars, danceable beats, and out there in the middle of nowhere vocals it's a perfect three song slab of summer fun and it's otherworldly nature makes the whole thing stick out like a sore thumb. While I couldn't tell you what the heck they're singing about White Arrows' balmy Balearicism is so hypnotic that it's impossible not to move around to.
If you can imagine Paul Simon as the missing member of New Order you have a good idea of what Fireworks of the Sea is all about. If indie dance music can be worldly, chilled out, and ridiculously catchy all at the same time then White Arrows is it's poster child and they do a darn fine job of conveying it's joys throughout this record. Fireworks of the Sea is a fantastic single that ends before it begins and leaves you craving the rays of sunshine they generate. White Arrows take aim for your ears and they launch Fireworks of the Sea to hit them...they do a good job as they've just hit right between them three times over with this single.
It's hard to believe that The Camden Crawl has been going on for nearly twenty years. This annual rite of spring is an epic festival featuring so much talent in one location it's hard to fathom. The festival covers just about every aspect of music and genre on the planet and it all cross pollinates in Camden over the course of several days. As if to prove that point the Camden Crawl Mixtape 2012 is a chaotic blend of musical delights that's hard to resist.
Consisting of sixteen tracks and sixteen different bands covering metal, dubstep, indie pop, indie dance, and everything in between Camden Crawl Mixtape 2012 is an eccentric mix of epic proportions. while not everything will appeal to everybody this slice of sonic skullduggery paints a clear picture of what Camden Crawl is all about. From the brutality of Arrows of Love to the synth pop sexiness of Chew Lips and everything in between this is a feeding frenzy of fine tunes that you'd be crazy not to obtain. Better yet...just go to the festival and experience all this first hand.
As the Camden Crawl approaches and celebrates another year the Camden Crawl Mixtape 2012 reminds us why we love the thing in the first place; it brings the coolest new bands to the forefront of the music industry all in one location. Camden Crawl Mixtape 2012, like the festival, is an essential sort of thing that's the perfect preparation for the fest. This, simply put is sixteen slices of awesomeness.
I don't know too terribly much about Jonathan Sibha. Their latest record, the oddly enough named, Jonathan Sibha is a quirky indie record that has a bit of a Of Montreal, Sondre Lerche, or maybe even Stiff Records feel to it. It's all sugary sweet melodies, jumpy guitar work, and lackadaisical vocals arranged in a near power pop configuration and it's all quite good.
Sibha does a fantastic job of jumping all over the place on this record and their ability to shift moods and melodies when you least expect it is fun to listen to. They draw out vocals on one song and then sugar coat them with syrup on the next. And just because they can Sibha jumps around like mad men with frenetic guitars only to let the piano do the moody talking on the next track. The guys have a flexibility to them that allows them to create diverse and intriguing songs that never out stay their welcome. For the most part though, Jonathan Sibha is energetic despite it's bouts of moodiness. It's a very likeable record and Sibha knows how to play with your ear drums all to well.
They might be an enigma for now, but having spent some time with Jonathan Sibha I can say that it's only a matter of time before everyone figures out who these guys are. Sibha's ability to create power pop in a variety of ways is a tribute to his strength as a songwriter. Layered with moodiness and energy on top of each other Jonathan Sibha is a record that's a joy to just listen to. Sibha is clearly on to something here and lets hope subsequent albums develop their characteristic sound even further.
Monday, July 9, 2012
The Swerve are a band that haunt the ether. They're a band between worlds, trapped in the haze, and lost in a dream. Taking shogazing and mixing it with electronics and trip hop as it sees fit allows The Swerve to create this swirly cosmic sounding music that's like a gift from the gods. Their latest EP Wonder is a slightly twee but altogether gorgeous record that is ethereal, sleepy, and very, very hypnotic; think the Cocteaus you can sing along to. The band easily creates the mood of this record with lush synth washes, distanced vocals, and a sense of a drifting of into the netherworld. It truly is awesome stuff.
Now, if you take that already beautiful single and add a whole host of remixes from the likes of Rubicon 7, Some Ember's, Hyde Street, and just for the heck of it leave an instrumental version on there you have one slice of perfection. While a couple of the remixes do kind of venture into near Radiohead-ish sonic experimentation (see the Some Ember), The Rubicon 7 remix is another slice of heaven and the instrumental mix is just an adventure into beauty. The Swerve has done a nice job all around, then, in making this feel just like a dream and there's no wonder in any of that.
At times sounding like Pantera, Sabbath, Motley Crue (??), Dio, Motohead and every other butt kicking metal band that makes you want to RAWK out The Spittin' Cobras are grindy, thrashy, raw, fast, and completely chaotic. Guitar riffs ricochet all over the place, godly guitar solos shatter ear drums, drums bash at a speed that's close to breakneck and the vocals growl, grind, and scream so loudly that my monitor cracked. This is amazing rock and roll folks and Year of the Cobra is a butt kicking, whiskey swilling, fight starting, fast car driving, and good time. This is the way metal should be; no posturing, no posing, no black hair dye; just plug in, crank it up and kill everything in sight. It's amazing.
Year of the Cobra is a Marshall Stack attack of epic proportions. This is the kind of record that turning it up to 11 means something...it means you might not survive. The Spittin' Cobras are keeping the denim vest over leather jacket, fist pumping, hi tops wearing brand of metal alive and well. This is such a ridiculously good record that if you've ever had hair past your shoulders you just need to stop whatever it is your doing right now and go get this record. This is the sound of mayhem and it's amazing.
Tayisha Busay's Heartmeat/Lovemuscle single is a melodic synthpop gem shining in the summer sunshine. Minimal in its approach but massive in its hooks the single quickly sinks its points into you and refuses to let you go. Utilizing a bare minimum of beats spaced out between washed out synths the song makes its impact felt with each repetitive downstroke. When you add in the trios vocals over it all, you have this mini-chillwave synthpop stunner that will leave you breathless.
Heartmeat/Lovemuscle is a fantastic preview of Tayisha Bushay's album Focus Virus and if this one track is anything to go by, it's going to be a epic. Tayisha Bushay's minimal production, seductive vocals, and massive melodies should combine into something much bigger than the sum of it's three parts. In the meantime, Heartmeat/Lovemuscle is an essential track to have blaring out on a Sunday morning or evening. It's gorgeous and sparse approach will get your heart pumping.
Lost somewhere in the haze of chill out, chill wave, trip hop and ambient lies Keep Shelly In Athens. Their latest EP Our Own Dream is a dizzying array of atmospherics, trippy rhythms, dubbed out bass lines, and seductive vocals. Had the Sneaker Pimps released this in 1995 it would have gone triple platinum and been in more movie soundtracks that you could ever hope to purchase. Its awesome stuff that's pretty much 21st century baby making music for the apocalypse.
Lush keyboards wash over your ears as the vocals whisper in between and cleanse your mind of all thought while dubby and tripped out beats move like sine waves in the night. It's all very post modern post apocalyptic beauty and it's amazing. Our Own Dream is an example of how elements of dubstep can exist within other realms of music and work to its advantage. The drawn out bass lines and staggered beats only serve to add to the ambience of the work here and makes the whole thing sound like one aimless journey in your sleeping subconscious. Our Own Dream is awesome stuff that couldn't be better titled if a psycho-analyst tried. If you love the whole chill wave thing and enjoy a bit of post shoegazing bliss you'll definitely want to Keep Shelly In Athens.
Hudson Branch are a moody and atmospheric band whose album World Kid is fitting description for a record that sounds well traveled, well rounded, and well good. Influenced by everything from chamber pop to blues and everything in between Hudson Branch brew a heady concoction that's something like Burt Bacharach colliding with Vampire Weekend. It's all twinkly guitar riffs, organ hums, nearly jazzy drums, and delicate fey-ish vocals that when they combine together it all sounds very sophisticated and cool.
World Kid is a polished, tightly played record that shows Hudson Branch have ridiculously good skills when it comes to creating and playing songs. If you can picture bands like Aloha and Ivory Coast who blur the lines between indie rock, jazz, and a global sense of cool then you have a pretty good idea of how Hudson Branch go about putting together songs. Atmospheric noises swoosh in and out of songs, lift them skyward and then allow the band to float back down to earth on the gentle strums of a guitar. It's all very moody and sweeping stuff that requires attention to appreciate it. There are no huge radio hits here just a solid set of superbly played songs that are written very close to perfection.
Hundson Branch takes the atmosphere around them and manipulate it by funneling sounds, textures and ideas into it. They excel at this and seemingly can make the simplest things seem rich and intriguing. They may not have a huge hit on their hands but they do have one of the best played records I've heard in a while and you can tell that these guys are World Kids because they refuse to be limited by a single sound idea. World Kid is the kind of record that musicians will love and music fans will enjoy.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
When you name yourself We Cut Corners you kind of set yourself up for some harsh criticism so you should make sure you're darn good at what you do to avoid it. Thankfully, this Irish band is exactly that...darn good. This is a band that answers the question what Placebo or JJ72 would sound like if they were hyper and on speed. Their album, released in Ireland in 2011, Today I Realized I Could Go Home Backwards is shorter than the time it took me to type out the title and ridiculously good.
They might only be a two piece but they play enough tricks on your ears and mind to make themselves sound huge. Thrashy, spunky, and energetic We Cut Corners write short songs packed with noise, turbulence, and snappy hooks that poke holes in your brain. Today I Realized I Could Go Home Backwards is filled with falsetto vocals, off kilter guitars, and bashed drums that when combined together create a right screechy racket that's rather awesome. So while in a round about way they do indeed cut corners with song length the record is still a great listen and long on good tunes.
Today I Realized I Could Go Home Backwards is the sort of record that would make Brian Molko go back to cross dressing. It's dissonant, flustered, and slightly aggressive in it's attempt to blaze through all the songs here. While the band does occasionally slow things down to a snails pace, the songs still remain no longer that three and a half minutes allowing them to cut corners. This is pop music with an agenda and it doesn't have time to waste on anything else. We Cut Corners are called what they are for a reason and you can hear the proof of that all over Today I Realized I Could Go Home Backwards.
NIAS is the latest group to harness the funk of 80's electro and turn it into something all their own. In touch firmly with their inner Chromeo, NIAS takes a bit of kitsch, a bit of funk, a bit of disco, and a bit of R&B and combine it into something that sounds like Sam Sparro having a bit of a personality crisis. Their latest EP, She Would is a five song exploration of the dance floor in all the best ways. Bright synths, soft pads and glittery beats power the single in a shuffly showdown that make your feet contort in directions you'd not expect.
She Would is a great single whose hook is instantly memorable and just about impossible to not hum in your head for hours afterward. This is funk done right and when you add a whole host of remixes from the likes of Maral Salmassi, Mendoza, and Saint Pauli who take the tune in all kinds of directions you have a slice of summer dished out to you on a mirror ball plate. This is a tasty treat of discotastic proportions and the kind of thing Chromeo probably listens to thinking that these guys have it going on. If like energetic sparkly synthetic pop this has your name written all over it.
When you name your band Xerxes you have a lot to live up to. You see Xerxes was a Persian king who was beyond powerful. Having suppressed a revolt in Egypt, he fought against the Greeks defeating them once, and even built a bridge across the Hellespont. The dude was powerful to say the least. With a near godlike status and tales that are legendary, naming yourself Xerxes leaves you with some big shoes to fill. Thankfully for this group of Kentuckians they do a pretty good job of maintaining his powerful name. Their album, Our Home Is A Deathbed is a blast of grinding scenetastic mayhem.
Coming off like a classic Mid-90's post hardcore, grind, sludge, white belt band Xerxes take death-like vocals, post screamo yelps, and churning post-indie rock riff attacks and come up with a bulldozer of a record. Our Home Is A Deathbed is a swirly, heavy, and brutal affair that crosses the boundaries between genres so easily that it's hard to keep track of. Riffs at times are melodic and then switch to being the sound of a blitzkrieg attack on your ears while the vocals rip the rest of you in half. It's awesome post-everything and Xerxes blaze through the eleven songs here like a tank division in a feeding frenzy.
Our Home Is A Deathbed is awesome stuff. Xerxes mix together an ferocious combination of sounds that come together in a feral rock and roll aberration that will leave you beaten, bruised, and defeated. This is the sound of modern day power and the eleven shots fired across your bow are not only meant to scare you but beat you into submission. Resistance is futile, you will listen to Xerxes whether you want to or not.
As one might guess by their name the band No Trigger do not play chamber pop music loaded with AM radio sappiness. Rather this Massachusetts based band play snotty nosed punk that's all three chords, teary eyed melodies, and so filled with angst that the record might just be sent to it's room. All that being said, their album Tycoon is a superbly fun, excitable and an exceptionally speedy affair that takes the best of Epitaph records and the history of pop punk and hardcore and smashes it all together in a panini press.
Tycoon is rich with harmonies, songs that are stubborn about being forgotten and a level of frustration that a lot of people are probably feeling these days. This is the perfect record for 2012; filled with highs and lows, broken hearts, and big smiles and the songs to match. No Trigger play their guts out and give about a thousand percent on everyone of these songs and it's impressive. Three chords are spewed forth like a geyser out of control and the hooks bear hug you into submission leaving you gasping for air but well pleased. Riffs blaze, drums thrash about and the vocals so easily alternate between screaming, soaring, and being being angry that it's something that has to be heard to be believed. No Trigger are awesome at what they do and while this genre has been done to death and then dug up and done to death again, Tycoon is good enough to stand on its own two feet.
With an amalgamation of punk influences, a fantastic understanding of what makes a hook good, and exceptionally strong songs No Trigger have plowed their way into success. Tycoon is a classic in the making. It's three chords and burn methodology brings the power to the melodic pop music in disguise here and ultimately makes the record great. If you like your punk with a bit of zing and a ray of sunshine then be a Tycoon and pick this sucker up.
Peter Peter is a one man band who's far more than just the sound of one man. This singer songwriter from Canada takes the best of folk, chanson, indie pop, and Canada's awesome weather to create a mesmerizing record that's already garnered awards in it's home territories. Now released here in the States, Peter Peter may confuse some but enrapture most with his quirky lyrical beauty.
Peter Peter is an intimate little lo-fi folk pop album that at times sounds like Ian Brown in his living room and at others sounds like a gorgeous day in Quebec at the height of Spring. It's light, wispy, airy stuff and folk its OK to like. Why? Well, that's really because it's hard to consider this just another folk cliche. Sung in French the album reflects modern day Quebec in the sense that's it's language is predominately French, diverse, and ahead of the curve. As for what the songs sound like, if you can imagine someone like Jose Gonzalez being French Canadian then you've got an idea of where Peter Peter is coming from. While there's no "Heartbeats," cover to mention Peter Peter did win 2011 French Single of the Year for, "Homa," which makes an appearance on Peter Peter.
By the time you finish listening to Peter Peter you realize that it is fantastic. It's warm and yet isolated, expansive yet intimate, sad but happy...it's all of these things at once. I believe that's why I find this record good, it offers something more, it's wind swept and exotic and it brings something different to the table. Peter Peter is the kind of record that everyone should own because it's so darn heart warming and charming that it can make even the most ardent non-folk fan think, "that's not too shabby." There's a reason why Peter Peter has won awards and you can hear those reasons all over Peter Peter.
When you name your band Termites you kind of set yourself up for some interesting comparisons. Imagine a band constantly gnawing away, chewing, destroying and carving up everything and being slightly creepy about it. Honestly that's not too far away from what this band's debut is all about. This band of Bristolians gnaw away at normal pop music conventions and twist things in their own special way rearranging and carving things up as they see fit.
Termites is a quirky record to say the least. While it's cleverly disguised under Britpop clothing and might distantly be related to Damon Albarn's more interesting noodling this is a record with an imaginative approach and an unusual set of songs. And yet, despite it's strangeness the songs are remarkably hooky and intriguing and the band seem to take joy in multiple time changes, direction changes, and songs that get your head spinning. If I had to pick a direct comparison I'd say the Super Furries or maybe even The Coral. This is a band that refuses to play by the rules and as a result they use just about everything at their disposal. There are so many kinds of sounds and riffs emanating from this record I feel as though a scorecard would help. While certain songs like, "Dumb Rock," are just straight ahead rock and roll tunes others like, "Ammo, " will have you scratching your head. I love the disjointedness of it all.
Bizarre and outside of the mainstream, Termites have built a record centered around the idea of thinking outside of the box is the only way to think. This is Britpop on acid and the soundtrack to one slowly going mad. The choppiness, odd time signatures, and off kilter melodies keep the record fascinating throughout and I couldn't pull myself away from these insects and what they were on about. Nice work that will probably give me nightmares...but that's OK.
Willis Earl Beal's debut album Acousmatic Sorcery is an interesting study of dedication and self sacrifice to one's art. Having shown up in Albuquerque, New Mexico without much of anything, Willis Earl Beal began singing tunes to cope with his situation. While coping he recorded several of the songs he wrote into a cassette based karaoke machine, utilizing whatever instruments he could find, and a $20 microphone. While far from the pro-tools productions of today those recordings became Acousmatic Sorcery.
Hardly produced or even half sounding good, Acousmatic Sorcery is an album composed of intimate recordings of a man just trying to get by. The recordings, as could be expected, are exposed, tinny, and sound like they were recorded in a basement or subway...it's not the best sounding thing out there but there's an effort being made and you have to respect it.There's a level of honesty, purity, and heart in these songs that's beyond admirable. It's all very minimal sounding stuff that really isn't all that great but shows the honest potential of Beal. It's like a series of live busking recordings put to vinyl and paints a portrait of an artist struggling to survive by any means necessary.
If you were to strip away all the gloss, production, tricks, and cleaning up of most records that's where you'd find Willis Earl Beal's songs. They're untidy, unorganized and pure. Not necessarily catchy, or even all that good it's the sort of thing that you have to respect because of the story behind it. This was an escape, a way to cope, and something done using what resources were available and when you look at this way you can't help but think Willis Earl Beal has made something special on Acousmatic Sorcery.