Thursday, January 10, 2013

One Line Reviews Volume 3

And here we are once again with another volume of One Line Reviews. We wrap up 2012 here with another series of short, sweet, and to the point reviews. We hope you enjoy reading them and hopefully will pick up some of these records.


Dum Dum Girls: End of Daze (Sub Pop)
Another day another record by the Dum Dum Girls. And that's ok. A bit more gazey than usual, this is still a perfect record that's equal part twee and brokenhearted. Oh how I love these guys.

Metz: s/t (Sub Pop)
Remember when Sub Pop was only grunge (ask your dad)? This record harks back to those days so much so that Metz's tune, "Bats," sounds disturbingly similar Nirvana's, "Negative Creep." Awesome post-grunge grunge...break out the flannel and whiskey. Here we go again.

Ana Gazzola: Musicas e Palavras Dos Bee Gees (Fuel)
Imagine the songs of the Bee Gees sung in Spanish all very seductively by the lovely Ana and you have this record down pat. "How Deep Is Your Love," will leave you in tears. Seriously.

LCD Soundsystem: Shut Up And Play The Hits (Oscilloscope)
As the tag line says...the very lound ending of LCD Soundsystem. Simply an amazing DVD sprawled out across three DVD's. If you love Mr. James Murphy than you definitely need this thing. It's a rave to the grave here. Essential.

Defiler: Nematocera (Razor & Tie)
Melodic metalcore that's got vocals screaming and growling everywhere while grinding riffs churn like butter. It's almost like Carcass if they slowed down...but you know this is all done with studio wizardry instead of being authentic. Regardless, this isn't bad at all.

For the Fallen Dreams: Wasted Youth (Artery)
Well this started out ok...then all these wimpy emo vocals came in and killed the sheer power of this record. Shove the emo kid out of the band and just grind it out guys.

Chelsea Grin: Evolve (Razor & Tie)
Melodic rifftastic metal that combines Dragonforce like guitars with soaring vocals and bucket loads of death grunts. It's interesting stuff that feels like axe blades being repeatedly rammed into your skull.

InDyingArms: Boundaries (Artery)
If Gollum was in a deathcore band this would be the one. Completely frenzied stuff that alternates between spazzcore, Mortician, and doom metal. It's atmospheric, kind of screamo, but surprisingly rather good.

A Bullet For Pretty Boy: Symbiosis (Artery)
You'd think with a name like that they wouldn't be emo/screamo...and they're not really. Instead of overpowering death grunts and screams the band seems to layer in synths and thrashes around a bit more than usual. It's not bad stuff to be honest and the design on this project is top notch. It doesn't look like a metal record at all which I really like.

Close To Home: Momentum (Razor & Tie)
Soaring emotastic stuff that looks and sounds like a million bucks. These guys are polished, produced, and deadly. It's nothing really original, but they fill in the template rather nicely and their soaring choruses will melt girls hearts everywhere. This is the sound of angst.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One Line Reviews Volume 2

As promised, we continue our stroll through the stacks with a second volume of One Line Reviews. Slowly, we're catching up to present day and we hope you enjoy catching up with us.

On with the show...

Egyptian Project: Ya Amar (Six Degrees)
Traditional Egyptian music mingles with modern technology to come up with the sound of what Egypt is hoping for...a peaceful blend of the old ways and the new traditions.

Very Be Careful: Remember Me From The Party (Downtown Pijao)
Traditional accordion lead Columbian vallenato via Los Angeles that has a wonderful gypsy feel to it and is the sort of thing that will have you dancing in the streets.

Helstar: 30 Years of Hel (AFM Records)
Holy's hard to believe these guys have been around that long. But here they are three decades later thrashing like maniacs. This CD sounds ridiculous and is amazing. Perfect thrash that captures all the energy of their 30th anniversary show. Even better than the two CD's of audio that's included is a DVD of the same performance! Throw the horns up and headbang in Hel! Essential stuff.

Johnny 5th Wheel & The Cowards: Music To Shake n' Shuffle To (Sotones)
Quirky as all heck pop that would make the Monochrome Set and Television Personalities blush. Imagine Divine Comedy...only weird and you have Johnny and his Cowards. Fun stuff indeed.

Emerson Lake and Palmer: Tarkus Reissue (Razor & Tie)
If you were to look prog rock up in the dictionary (go ahead we'll wait) you'd see this record listed as a Masterwork. This sprawling three disc set has more music on it than any calculator could calculate. This was the sound of the future circa 1971 and it's still amazing. Absolutely essential this is ELP at their indulgent best.

Emerson Lake and Palmer: s/t (Razor & Tie)
Another masterful reissue spread across three CD's with enough jazzy fusion influenced rock to make John McLaughlin's head explode. This is epic stuff and it's fantastic.

Chaos Chaos: s/t (Self Released)
Despite their name these guys aren't chaotic in any way shape or form. What they are though is another brilliant band to emerge out of Smoosh! This one has Asy and Chloe in it and they create dynamic synthpop that's seductive, cool, and controlled.

Knock Knock: We Will Raise Your Child (Test Pattern)
Fantastic power pop that doesn't reveal it's charms until you sit down to listen to it. This is like Carnival of Light era Ride mixed with an American pop sensibility and boy/girl vocals. Surprisingly brilliant.

Lost Animal: Ex Tropical (Hardly Art)
Atmospheric and worldly sounding indie pop that's kind of sedated. It's an interesting sonic experiment that seemingly works despite being a bit lo-fi and odd at times in a Lou Reed on drugs kind of way.

Empresarios: El Sonido Magico (Fort Knox)
Another impressive album from one of the coolest bands to emerge from DC in recent years. Playing salsa, cumbia, electronica, exotica, chill out and just about everything else Empresarios are as diverse as DC itself. This album does not suffer from a sophomore slump in any way. Enjoy the Magico and chill out with Empresarios.

Ending People: Fill Your Lungs (Unknown)
Crystalline guitars, dramatic vocals and a complex sound that's equal parts post-shoegazing and post-alternative. It's interesting stuff that's deep and soulful.

The Growl: Cleaver Lever (Planetary)
Disjointed blues based rock and roll that had it come out in 2003 could have given bands like Vue a run for their money. This is the sound of hard living and the effects it has on your health both physically and mentally.

Challenger: The World Is Too Much For Me (Self-Released)
The label says Recommended If You Like Peter Gabriel and Vampire Weekend. They're not lying. The first song just feels like a modern take on "Biko," and sets the stage for what follows. It's huge worldly sounding stuff that's seemingly optimistic, ridiculously catchy and jumps back and forth between massive pop anthems and synth pop stylings. Neat stuff.

Allah Las Go Back In Time

Someone has clearly forgotten to tell the Allah Las that it is not 1966. You see, this is a band that is more Rolling Stones than the Rolling Stones and more Sonics than the sonic boom. With a sound that feels, oozes, and seeps authenticity you half expect these guys to be all dressed like Roger McGuinn and sound like him as well. They're that convincing and in a word this band is awesome. How can you not like a band that's more 60's than the 60's and cooler than a pack of James Deans?

The Allah Las self titled album is twelve songs of Hammond organs, jangly guitars, slightly psychedelic vibes, and vocals that almost seem like they've come straight from forty years ago by very primitive satellite. Psychedelic pop with a heavy emphasis on the grooviness; the lackadaisical and hypnotic feel of Allah Las comes to us courtesy of the drawn out vocals, slow rolling drums and strummed guitars. While the Allah Las might have been recorded earlier this year it's so incredibly old sounding that it's hard to believe it's actually new. This record is jaw droppingly amazing and the it's the sort of thing that the Brian Jonestown Massacre could only ever hope of recording.

Psychedelic pop hasn't been this good since the Jefferson Airplane graced Haight & Ashbury and the Allah Las have done their best to make sure of it. They do a great job as Allah Las is a post-modern work of genius that's lost in a parallel universe where everything is feelin groovy; this is one for Baby Boomers and their children to trip the light fantastic to. If ever there was an essential classic rock record that wasn't classic rock the Allah Las would be it.

Dan Deacon Loves America

Dan Deacon isn't what you would call your run of the mill electronic artist. This is a guy that is far to spastic to just concentrate on any one area of music, so he doesn't and as a result he create collages of twisted sounds and loops that manifest themselves into something resembling songs. He is avant garde and slightly atonal at times, but if you look hard enough and listen long enough you'll spot a song just waiting to get out of this guys head. His latest effort, America is no different as it's a journey in electro-acoustic mayhem that sounds like it's about to spiral out of control but never quite does.

America is unabashedly proud of the fact that it is frenzied electronic noise. Sounds, loops, and synths come hurling at you from all directions almost as if Dan was trying to exorcise them from his brain. It's a record that spirals out of control with melodicism and hints of songs that could be hits but never will be. That isn't necessarily a bad thing because this little disc of pandemonium still manages to be an intriguingly strange listen.

To say Dan Deacon has made a hypnotizing record would be understatement. Through simple repetition much of this record will wear you down and make your eyes go cross in a daze. By about the 350th loop you'll be having odd thoughts, cold sweats, and ideas for making synthesizers do things they never thought they could. It's almost as if you're listening to Stereolab on about 50 shots of espresso meeting some wayward indie rock kid hooked on Radio Shack Electronic Project Kits.

As bizarre and as twisted as this all sounds, Dan Deacon actually has made a record that is listenable. American, while frenetic, has loads of melodies coursing through it that save it from being a giant avant garde experiment gone wrong. While Dan Deacon is obviously overjoyed to be experimenting and manipulating sounds like a aural wizard, he knows from experience that you can only do so much before you lose the plot. The key with him is that he teeters on that line between crazy and genius. Thankfully, he never crosses into crazy and instead hides the pop sensibility of each song deep within the spasms of noise and that's what makes America such a good record; its like discovering pop gold on each of it's eleven outbursts.

Helio Sequence Embark On Negotiations

Ya know, the band Helio Sequence always reminds me of DNA. I'm not sure exactly why but I suspect it has something to with it's proximity to sounding like it's part of the double Helix that makes up DNA. Anyway, scientific explanations aside, this atmospheric and dreamy band has returned after a four year absence with their new album Negotiations. After spending some time with this record its easy to say that this release is a woozy doozy spellbinding trip beyond reality.

At times sounding like Echo and the Bunnymen if they were placed on Lithium, Helio Sequence are an ethereal bunch that coax their inner dream popper into something far more grandiose and spectacular. Songs are massive in scale and scope and they seem to spread out over the course of the record filling in every possible gap. The record is gauzy, hazy, dreamy and utterly fantastic. This is a record that conquers your ears with slow, translucent passages that barely raise a ruckus but still find a way to attach themselves to your consciousness. Helio Sequence tune their guitars to shimmer and the vocals to sigh and then just coast heavenward through all of Negotiations.

If ever a record was sleepy in the best possible way this would be it. It seems as though Negotiations was recorded under hypnosis and Helio Sequence were simply too mesmerized by the process to emerge from it. This is a record that is seemingly intimate but in reality rather epic. It's songs are gargantuan and gorgeous and it's effect is calming and peaceful. If there's beautiful guitar music to be had in this day and age, Helio Sequence are making it and no Negotiations are necessary.

Jeremy Panda's Amazing Mystery

Jeremy Panda is an interesting artist that I know next to nothing about. His album just kind of showed up at my door unexpected encased just in a brown envelope w/no bio or information attached. Through clever deduction here's what I've learned...he's Canadian, he's from Toronto and he can play at an exceptionally high level. His album Son Ame Feliz is a heady mix of indie rock, jam rock, fusion, and mighty fine musicianship that combines into a mind numbing concoction.

With riffs flying everywhere and a level of energy that would suggest some sort of post-nuclear thing, Jeremy Panda and his band set out on a course to out play themselves. They just about succeed as this is one band that's spent a fair amount of time in a practice shed for ages. Hopping between more adult oriented alternative and youthful inspired tunes the band tend to be at their best when they have it floored and their chops are on display. Thankfully, Son Ame Feliz gives the band plenty of opportunities to show all this off. From drumming to synths, to guitars and everything in between Jeremy Panda and his cohorts let it all hang out here. Musically, it's an impressive listen that only occasionally stumbles with rather slow paced songs and kinda middle of the road vocals. But for the most part when these guys play they're on fire.

I'm not sure what to call or what genre Jeremy Panda is. That's a good thing because he's all over the place on most of Son Ame Feliz and as a result my interest never faded. From dark and dim passages to jazz fusion-like workouts it all finds a place on Son Ame Feliz and it only adds to the mystery of who the heck this guy and his band are. My advice to you is don't cop out and Google the band but rather pick up the record and become part of the's far more fun.

The Philstines Are Therewolves

To hear the tale of how the Philistines came to be is to understand the phrase (and James song) Born of Frustration. Colin Daly, founder of the band, was literally left at the musical altar as this record was coming to fruition. Abandoned and upset the project was in doubt. Thankfully, his twin brother offered to take a shot at writing leads of the skeletal versions of what would become Therewolves! Through the magic of technology and family sticking together Philistines rose above it all with Therewolves! in hand.

Philistines modus operandi is to take pop music and strip it down to the core and then duct tape it all back together without much precision. The result of this is a shambolic effort to sound something like Radiohead, when they're weren't musos, and smashing al that into some sort of post grunge power pop monster like The Kooks. Therewolves! As a result is noisy, messy, and gnarled in all the right places. Guitars seem to have strings being pulled out of them mid-song while the vocals are gritty and slightly angsty and yet, somehow, the whole thing has this pop sensibility about it that makes you wonder if being left at the musical altar wasn't the best thing that could have happened to Philistines.

Therewolves! is a great little record; it's filled with cool hooks, noisy pedal driven guitars, enough ooh's and ahh's to last you a lifetime, and so much angsty pop you'll think it's 1993 all over again. This is the sort of record that reminds me of so many classic alternative/indie rock albums from my college radio days it scares me. I enjoyed Philistines accidental classicism and their ability to construct a gem out of a potential disaster. Therewolves! is impressive and if you like noisy pop music then howl at the moon w/Philistines.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One Line Reviews Volume 1

As the year closed out we simply weren't able to get to everything sitting on our desk. We get so much music and we want to listen to it all...but between holidays to the UK, Thanksgiving, Christmas and everything in between it just wasn't possible to listen to everything and write a detailed review. So, we present our happy compromise: One Line Reviews. What are they? Well they're short reviews that attempt to nail our thoughts down in as few words as possible...hence the name. It's simply a quantity vs. quality sort of thing here, unfortunately. Our apologies to everyone but we did manage to listen to all of these records at least once and you can tell very quickly if we dug them or not.

So here we go...

Royal Trux: Accelerator (Drag City)
Noisy, raw but some how cleaned up re-issue that sounds like the Trux had a few to many.

Tony Caro & John: Blue Clouds (Drag City)
1972 re-issue that sounds like garage outtakes from the Beatles and VU jamming together. Simplistic and cool.

Mad Music Inc: s/t (Drag City)
Another re-issue, this time from the dark, dank recesses of ambient fairy folk music from Rivendell. Mellow stuff to align your chakra's to.

Analog Players Society: Hurricane Season In Brooklyn (Studio Brooklyn)
Seems kind of ironic that this came out before Sandy...but here it is...chilled globally groovy jazz tunes for a bright sunny day...or reconstruction.

SSION: Bent (Dovecote)
Synth pop grooves that's covered in 80's funk and hipster over effort, but are cool tunes none-the-less. Break out the Carrera's and Members Only...This is 1986 all over again.

Various Artists: Kitsune Maison 14 (Kitsune)
The coolest electro label in the universe releases yet another essential record. Seventeen songs of perfection that you need in your life.

Brainstorm: Heat Waves (Tender Loving Empire)
Northwest indie on an Athens tip via Brooklyn that winds up sounding something like the lovechild of Arcade Fire and Of Montreal addicted to acid. Cool indie pop.

The Chevin: Borderland (So Recordings)
Huge sweeping indie that sounds like it's come straight from the class of 2011 British Pop school. The tunes are huge and almost out U2, U2 at times. Honestly, stadium anthems aren't supposed to be this cool.

Steve Bug: Noir (Poker Flat)
Minimalistic dark building tech-house that at times feels like a Faithless record. It's an impressive and mature album from someone who has released five such things; that's kind of unheard of nowdays...especially from dance music.

Woo: It's Cosy Inside (Drag City)
You know you're old when they start reissuing records you already have the first time around. This is strange mesmerizing stuff that's half ambient and half bizarre.

Stars: The North (ATO)
Can they do no wrong? I don't think they can. Top 25 for the year.

Mozella: The Brian Holland Sessions (Beverly Martel)
As the whole Soul Siren revival pushes on, it's getting harder and harder to make yourself stand out. Enter Mozella who sounds like she just walked in from 1967 and with Brian Holland of Holland, Dozier, and Dozier fame (over 25 #1 records w/Motown) on her arm how could this be anything but spectacular? Awesome stuff.

Sera Cahoone: Deer Creek Canyon (Sub Pop)
Oh my actual Sub Pop record I don't like. Folky, singer songwritery stuff that's just ok.

Jon Samuel: First Transmission (Hidden Pony Records)
More singer songwriter stuff. A little less folk and a bit more oomph but still it's just a guy and his guitar.

Maybeshewill: I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone (Function)
Massive post-emo post rock that takes the best bits of both genre's and runs then through enough effects, riffage, and soaring melodies to leave you dizzy. Brilliant stuff.

3:33: In The Middle of Infinity (Parallel Thought)
I have no idea what these guys are trying to achieve but it's so out there and so well done that it's awesome. It's essentially ambient abstract hip hop that would make DJ Shadow just give up.

Black Pistol Fire: Big Beat 59 (Rife Bird)
Sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover...or it's name. These guys are garage rock that's more traditional than the tradition itself. Rockin countrified blues rock that might just bring Elvis back from the dead.

Shed: The Killer (Monkeytown Records)
Minimalistic glitch ambientronica that's so weird it almost gave me a head ache. I think the military might use this album as part of psychological warfare.

Modeselektor: Modeselektion Volume 2 (Monkeytown Records)
Abstract, haunting stuff that uses beats sparingly and weirdness like it was going out of style. Not sure if this is really dance music but it's electronic mayhem nonetheless. It's like an old Orb record on even more hallucinogens.

Otto Von Schirach: Supermeng (Monkeytown Records)
This record is worth the tune, "Salpica (Miami)" alone. The rest is music the Daleks created to entertain themselves while they conquered the earth.

And there you have it...Volume 1 of One Line Reviews. Hang tight because there's more to come!

Mystic Underground Share Dreamers And Lovers

Remember when the first She Wants Revenge album came out? Remember how perfectly it blended it's inner goth with it's inner electroclash scenester and totally decimated the dance floor? If you don't you should because you're hip and cool right? And well if you don't The Mystic Underground is here to help you remember just how monumental the mixing of goth and electro can be. Their latest ep Dreamers and Lovers is a clove smoking, trench coat wearing, rope pulling excursion into darkness.

Dreamers and Lovers in a word is awesome. This is a darkly delicious record whose synths pulsate in the shadows while brooding beats kick and stomp across every song in steel toed boots. It's a lush, opulent record that just happens to be shrouded in mystery and the beauty of love. Dreamers and Lovers is a gorgeous record that soaks you in synthetic sensuality and seductive danceable beats. At a disturbingly short five tracks, Dreamers and Lovers only begins to hint at what The Mystic Underground have in-store for us. However, if this is any indication, any sort of full length album would be a momentously murky but brilliant affair. One can only hope that they can set aside the Dreamers and Lovers in their lives and make haste with recording a full length album.

The Demos Aren't Primitive

Holy confusing covers Batman...Talk about a graphic design fail, I couldn't sort out if TheDemosPrimitive album was a record called Primitive or if the band was named Primitive and this were TheDemos of the said band. Totally confused I consulted their handy dandy bio (which they were nice enough to enclose) and realized that it was indeed The Demos and their single Primitive. now that is sorted out...the record is over. Ugh.

Having restarted from the beginning I can now tell you that Primitive the single is a short two song blast of west-coast inspired pop music that's light on it's feet, jolly in it's intentions and catchy as the flu. Armed with six members (up from just two) the band takes the stuff that made folks like The Tyde, Teenage Fanclub, and of course The Beach Boys famous and puts a modern slant on it all and then proceed to knock it out of the park. The result being tunes that are simple and melodically masterful; Just listen to, "Neon," and you'll see what I'm talking about. This is a great little single that's syrupy sweet and melodically muscular and if it's any hint of what their next album is going to sound like then this band should probably change their name from TheDemos to TheMasters...because they're way better than a grotty rough sounding demo.

The Lumineers Illuminate

In world where Mumford and Sons are bigger than sliced bread it was only a matter of time before similar bands began to appear with similar sounds and records. Among the more acceptable groups are the Lumineers. This group out of Denver takes folk rock, a smattering of Arcade Fire's artfulness, and a bit of The Decemberists' tweeness and pieces together a creative blend of folk and indie that's not dull. Their self titled album is a good listen that swerves right and left from being just another folk pop record and managed to hold my interest until the very end.

The Lumineers create songs that seemingly yearn to be listened to. They shout, holler, whoop, and call out to get your attention and through the use of this technique as well as fascinating musical arrangements they grab it. This is far from a boring record, it's arty and homey and sounds warm and inviting. This is the perfect record for a miserable day when grey skies make you ponder everything around you and your place in it. It's thoughtful stuff that tugs at your emotions throughout and that alone makes it better than 95% of most other records labeled as folk or folk pop.

Sure there are strummy guitars and intimate moments but there are bombastic drums, those shouts and moments which will make you jump. The Lumineers do not lull you to sleep but constantly keep your brain and ears moving (if that's possible). These guys are different, sound different, and have songs that just feel different. While I normally don't like the quieter end of things, The Lumineers managed to keep my attention throughout their record and that in and of itself is an accomplishment. Cheers, boys!

Erik Blood Loves Touch Screens

Erik Blood is a solo artist with a difference. Having worked with a diverse roster of artists like Shabazz Plaaces and THEESatisfaction the guy has been exposed to an amalgamation of sounds and influences and as a result managed to expand his fan base while doing it. His album Touch Screens is a reflection of all those outside forces and his own personality coming together under the guise of song. The result is a record that sounds like a post-shoegazing blue-eyed soul dream come true that's lost in a sea of distortion.

Easily lumped into the growing numbers of post-shoegazing bands out there, Erik Blood ends up sounding something like Kevin Shields practicing in his bedroom on a 48 track analog recorder. If you can imagine how rehearsals that epic would sound then you can imagine just how great Touch Screens actually is. While released within the last year it has that authentically vintage 90's vibe to it. Probably recorded with more pedals imaginable and enough riffs to last a lifetime, Erik Blood crafts sheets of noise that reverberate off of everything and wash over you like a twenty foot wave. It's dreamy and psychedelic stuff that while noisy and chaotic is still remarkably easy on the ears.

The songs themselves come at you like a right hook because just glancing at the packaging you would not expect what is contained within. These heavenly songs are hidden underneath and behind rather perverse packaging that's all very clever and misleading. Unless you actually sit down and listen to Touch Screens you'll have no idea what you're in for or what it's about. Quite honestly, I thought I was in store for an electro record or synth pop seduction and not something so unearthly and noisy. Erik Blood has done a good job of playing tricks with your ears and sensibilities here and it's one reason why this record is so good.

Good things do come in small packages and Erik Blood is proof of that. Touch Screens is an impressive effort and it's a reflection of Blood's exposure to many outside forces. It's an expansive soaring record that's soulful while being lost in a haze and it has enough distortion and noise to keep you hypnotized and stunned. There aren't a lot of records nowadays that sound as if they were beamed in directly from 1991 but this is one and it's simply fantastic.

Take Maserati VII For A Spin

From the world of automobile named post-rock bands comes Maserati. Named after the incredibly cool Italian sports car company (I'm assuming) this group of musicians turns on the ignition, gives it some gas and just goes with the flow. That of course is to be expected when your named Maserati, in fact you kind of expect a band like this to make albums perfectly designed for driving under a variety of conditions while taping Top Gear. And while they may not be Jeremy Clarkson, the band manage to create a rocket powered trip through sci-fi landscapes on their latest album Maserati VII.

Using synths, guitars, and nary a vocal anywhere, Maserati actually share a bit in common with fellow auto-themed band Trans Am. But, while Trans Am slowly evolved into a bizarre electro pop band, Maserati have remained true to their sound and continued to ponder the universe and automobile through instrumental jams. Maserati VII is awesome, futuristic, crazy stuff that if you're not careful will inspire you to speed through traffic at light speed. It's expansive and infinite in it's reach and the four guys that make this fast paced tour de force are incredible musicians who are willing to push the boundaries of their instruments in the name of a cool soundscape. Maserati VII is the sort of record that will keep your mind gripped and gas pedal floored throughout; you just strap in, hang on, and hope you make it to the end.

Absolutely mesmerizing, imaginative, loud, speedy, cool and good Maserati VII is post rock for the Top Gear crowd. In fact, somewhere right now, the Stig is driving around a mountainside at breakneck speed with Maserati VII blasting out of the car and you know he loves it. Like the Maserati, Maserati VII is a high performance vehicle that occasionally needs the carbon blown out of it so why not pick this record up, start your engines, and take it for a test drive.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Niki and the Dove

Niki and the Dove answer the question what would happen if Stevie Nicks were to join electro weirdos The Knife. This dynamic duo are such dead ringers for that dynamic duo that it's almost impossible to ignore. Their album, Instinct is a lush, sensual, seductive electro slash synthpop record that seems to be covered in luxurious swathes of electronics and vocals that could melt your heart. This is one heck of a record that's sexuality practically oozes out of the speakers.

Instinct is gorgeous music for gorgeous people. It's opulent, crystalline, gauzy, and at times otherworldly. In fact, vocalist Mailin sounds like at angel, cooing and sighing her way through the haze of synths and beats as if she were from the great beyond. It's all very alien sounding and is cool to the touch but warm and in love on the inside. It's a stupendous sounding album whose production seems to bathe itself in translucent sounds that hit your ears like waves caressing a deserted shore. Call Niki and the Dove chillwave, electro, or whatever the heck you want just make sure you understand that Instinct is an excellent album.

Complete with hipstertastic imagery (cheetahs...really??), ridiculously great hooks, and enough chilled beats to lull you into another world, Niki and the Dove are the latest dynamic duo to knock it out of the park. Instinct is an awesome record, it's heavenly synths and lovelorn vocals hit you right between the ears. It's a record that encourages you to just sit back and go along for a ride into the afterlife. Dreamy and seductive Instinct wraps itself around your heart and never, ever lets go.

Poor Moon Is Fragile

In listening to Poor Moon's self-titled album it becomes obvious that if Nick Drake had been a fairy he may well have formed this band before they came along. Poor Moon is an intimate, folky, and mildly psychedelic record with odd flourishes, strange lyrics, vocals that seem whispered and a general feeling of living in a much simpler time.

Poor Moon for most of it's thirty minutes seems almost half awake and half in a dream where the band teeters in and out of REM sleep. It's a weird fairy folk record that at times seems pastoral, winsome and quirky. Poor Moon, I suspect, may have recorded this album after awakening from a Nyquil fueled coma as the dreams they were running through continued. It's an up close and personal record that's so quiet it almost seems like it's a bit too medicated for it's own good; as a result I'm not sure how I feel about it. Things going against it include the fact that it is a folk record and it's got zero in the energy department. But there are things for it including just how original much of the band's ideas are and just how dazed and confused it all seems. Having listened to this thing a bunch it's a bit too hard to decide.

Decisions aside, the album peaks about mid-way through on "Waiting For," and, "Heaven's Door," where the band seems to wake up long enough to skip and march through these two, two and a half minute jovial jaunts. If there were more moments like would be the best thing that Danielson Family never recorded but as it stands it's really the highlight of the record. Not short on ideas, but a bit short in the energy department Poor Moon seem almost too lackadaisical to be imaginative. If they'd let their imagination wake up and run rampant the record would benefit greatly and I'd probably be over the Poor Moon.

The Hives Return With Lex Hives

If the whole garage rock explosion that started way back in 2001 died somewhere around 2003, someone clearly forgot to tell The Hives. These Swedish purveyors of all things rock and roll (and snazzy dressing) have carried on for the better part of the last decade turning it up to 11 and just rocking the heck out. They're discography is a statement of consistency and purity that can't be beat. Their latest album Lex Hives is no different and only goes further to perpetuate the legend of the Hives.

While their look may have changed over the years (ties, bow ties, blazers, and now tuxedo's) The Hives sound hasn't. Still rooted in the sixties and then mixed with a dose of punk, the band sounds something like the Sonics as if they were living with Iggy Pop. They are brash, loud and groovy and their songs force you to move despite how hard you try and resist. Lex Hives is a fierce record of kinetic forces colliding in fifteen different directions and the results are a frenzy of rock n' roll insanity.

While they've obviously gotten tighter and more polished over time, the ferocity that's become the unofficial trademark of the band is well intact. These guys are so aggressive and musically compelling that it's as if they're constantly challenging you not to like them. It's as if they're saying, "Go ahead. We dare you." You just can't dislike this band because with exception of Black Keys and Jack White no one is keeping the torch of rock burning brighter than these guys. Lex Hives is amazing because it's simply pure rock and roll with no gimmicks, no tricks, and no technological reliance. This is a record of five guys having the time of their lives creating face melting, butt kicking rock and roll the way nobody does anymore.

If rock and roll is dead than Lex Hives is the sound of it digging itself out from premature burial. This is the soundtrack to the genre refusing to go away easily and biting, kicking, and punching its way back to life. The Hives are along for the ride, carrying the flag for rock and roll and it seems as though they are only too happy to obliges. Lex Hives is amazing, it's nothing new or different just more of the Hives being the Hives and truth be told that's a lot more than some people can handle. Without a doubt one of my favorite records of 2012.

Naama Kates' Unexamined Life

Ok, most of you know my feelings toward singer songwriters, folkies, acoustic musicians and the like; I can't stand them. So the prospects for Naama Kates wasn't good. Then I listened to her album The Unexamined Life and boy was I pleasantly surprised. Wow, was I. Let me just say that this isn't you're typical singer songwriter album. In fact, I'm not sure it's even fair to consider it something like that at all.

What The Unexamined Life is , however, is a theatrical, emotional, and gut wrenching album that has more in common with Amanda Palmer than Joni Mitchell. Using a piano and what seemingly sounds like an orchestra backing her up she out Tori Amos, Tori Amos and creates this complex, lyrical, and musically rich tapestry of tunes that simply aren't boring. This is lush stuff that's sweeping and breathtaking and on top of it all sounds like a million bucks. It's good stuff and while her voice might not be as polished as some of her contemporaries the whole environment she creates here more than elevates her and her voice.

I'm not ashamed to say I actually enjoyed The Unexamined Life. Naama Kates is a capable musician who constructs fascinating passages and songs that are slightly dark but always striking. She's a thrilling artist to listen to simply because she's sort of carving out her own niche in a sea of cliches. She might be living The Unexamined Life right now but with a record like this she won't be able to for very long.

I'm Across I'm Ashore With Nat Johnson

Nat Johnson and The Figureheads are an interesting clash of ideas. On one side Nat sounds like she's straight out of the 90's and on the other she's a delicate singer songwriter. Here album I'm Across I'm Ashore is the battleground where these two sides compete for attention. It's 90's alternative vs folk in a ladder match of music. Who wins is entirely up to you and your ears.

Her alternative side is something special. Nat's voice is so similar to folks like Tonya Donnelly, Veruca Salt, and the like; it's sweet and authoritative. Her band trounces along with her as fizzy riffs and post-grungy dynamics plow through the songs leaving a trail of old school indie rock in it's wake. I really enjoyed these moments as they're catchy, fun, and really quite good.

On the other side of the coin is Nat Johnson's delicate side. It's the side where she taps into her inner folkie and meanders across songs in an unassuming manner. This is the fragile and sweet angle of the band and while it's charming I much prefer the fizzy energetic side. The softer side of Nat is a bit too gentle, fey, and acoustic for me but I do appreciate the breathers that these odes to quiet provide.

Quiet or loud I'm Across, I'm Ashore is a fine album that takes the best of two worlds and makes them live in harmony.