January 19, 2012

Yuck

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If you name your band “Yuck,” you pretty much have an obligation not to sound awful; otherwise the joke’s on you. Fortunately, this British noise rock band doesn’t live up to its name. Their self-titled debut is far from disgusting. I daresay it’s delicious.

Yuck has been likened to old-school garage rock like Dinosaur Jr. I definitely hear the resemblance, but my initial listen actually reminded me more of Japandroids. Yuck’s squealing, distorted guitar lines scream of everything that noise-rock and garage-rock is made of, but the lead singer’s vocals, especially in songs like “Get Away” or “Operation,” are more aggressive than J Mascis’. He certainly sings with vigor!

Get Away by Yuck

But Yuck are not at all Japandroids clones. If noise-rock isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be relieved to know that these guys also know how to play without feedback and distortion on full blast. Their debut is sprinkled with quite a few “clean” tracks, which I assume are the reason that Yuck has been labeled as an “indie-rock” band. “Shook Down” and “Suicide Policeman” really caught me off guard on the first listen, as they’re not what you’d expect from an album that opens up “Get Away.” “Georgia,” yet another sound, sees a blending of male and female vocals that has a hint of The Velvet Underground & Nico in it (that could be the only time I say that in a positive light). Yum.

Enjoy on Spotify or Grooveshark


[currently listening to: Femme Fatale — The Velvet Underground]


MAN it feels good to write here again.

Posted by Anna at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2010

Eyelid Movies - Phantogram

Oh hey, what's up

I can't stand to leave October off my archives so here's a short little writeup on an album that's no longer relevant ;( I've found that I have very little time to work on anything for this blog, but there is so much new music to write about that I am going to have to make time!

In other news, the first issue of Nordic News came out today! <3 I'll try to post my two articles here (both music related).

- - -

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Phantogram’s debut is one of those albums though excessively bathed in repetition, is all too easy to enjoy initially. The melodies are simple and all too predictable, but just interesting enough to hold in your attention for the tracks’ short, 3-4 minute spans. The rhythms get away with their lack of variation and boldness just by being catchy. And even when these elements don’t completely satisfy, you can mellow out to the female vocalist’s sweet voice.

Sarah Barthel and Joshua Carter have fairly equal roles as vocalists on the album, but the tracks with Barthel’s vocals are really the ones that stand out. Her very fluid vocals are better suited to the drowsy, dreamy feel of the record than Carter’s are. His voice sounds very dry in a place where things are constantly flowing. His stronger moments in songs like “You Are The Ocean” and “Futuristic Casket” find his voice submersed beneath the melodies, following them more smoothly, but Barthel’s similar vocal approach feels more natural.

But just a few spins on this record leaves it feeling very run down and boring. Besides “Mouthful of Diamonds” and maybe “When I’m Small,” none of it is worth revisiting frequently. The first couple listens drains the album of all its vitality and the songs become monotonous; merely “background music.”


Rating: 6.7/10

Posted by Anna at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2010

Homba - Wild Dogs In Winter

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Wild Dogs In Winter's debut, Homba, plays as if recorded in a most secluded place; maybe a cave snowed in during the slowest part of winter where the only thing to be heard apart from the lonely drone of the instruments is the distant sound of wind wailing in the frozen world outside. The echoes of reverbed guitar gently rattle the cave's icy walls. The steady fuzz of the synthesizers absorbs a soft dripping sound in the corner. Cautiously, the vocals enter. Is anyone listening?

It’s quite impressive for British ambient group, Wild Dogs In Winter, to have created such an empty, yet emotional atmosphere on just their debut album, their only release aside from a self-titled 3-track EP. There are many dark works in post-rock and ambient music, but Homba stirs up some truly depressing and hopeless feelings. In a way, it has a similar feel to Sigur Rós’ emotionally wrenching ( ) with numbers that drone on sorrowfully through seemingly repetitive patterns, guided only by that lone, remorseful voice. Homba apparently has little intention aside from completely draining you of all hope and positivity.

But unlike Sigur Rós on ( ), the vocalist of Wild Wolves In Winter does not sing unintelligibly. Although vocals are rarely used for more than another instrumental layer in this style of music, Homba has easily understandable lyrics. And somehow this vocal style fits the album very well aesthetically in addition to providing another level of emotional outreach. It reminds me of British post-rockers, iLiKETRAiNS, who also pull off vocals in this fashion just as well. Only in an interlude track, “A Hu Li”, is this balance strangely broken when a brief M83-esque sample of a girl speaking is randomly introduced.

It seems that most everything in this album flows together perfectly, and that’s probably true: when the delay pedals are on and the sounds of muddled bass notes continue to numb the listener, there are virtually no complaints to be made. The band definitely knows how to craft their songs, which is why every track on this album sounds like it’s meant to be there. But what they perhaps haven’t yet discovered is that they’ve really been writing an album here. And not just an album but an ambient album. The songs should bleed into each other, leaving behind little white space, but they don’t. They fade down towards the end and give each other space. At some moments, this feels just mildly awkward, but it begins to ruin the running atmosphere towards the end of the album when things get a bit more intense.

It’s a very good idea to allow this album a full, uninterrupted listen. Though “Lung Wine” or “Powder and Tin” alone are heartbreaking enough to give the listener a decent understanding of what Homba is about, there is still much more to understand. Even by the end of the album, after the last crash of “The Butcher’s Wife” ’s finale settles in, you wonder if that is really it. It doesn’t seem like this album is building up to any particular climax, much less that one. Homba’s overall lack of concrete development could be because at the end of 51 minutes, nothing is really over. For all we know, this is the first winter of many more to come.

Rating: 7.8/10

[webstore]
[Frontal Noise Label]


[currently listening to: Seven - Sunny Day Real Estate]

Posted by Anna at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2010

sleepmakeswaves

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With only several minor releases to their name, sleepmakeswaves don’t have any one concrete release to speak for. Since their formation in 2006, the small Australian post-rock group has only released a self-titled demo, a 37-minute EP, and a split with fellow Australian instrumentalists, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving. Having had little opportunity to write full albums, sleepmakeswaves have found a way to condense their epic post-rock in individual tracks, while maintaining the same impact and intensity. They take varied, but obvious influences from many of the ‘big guys’, but whether building off of 65daysofstatic-esque electronic textures and beats, Mono’s dramatic atmospheres, or guitar lines with Mogwai’s ferocity, each song takes on a sparking individuality. They may lack complete originality, but are definitely engaging.

Though each of their releases are well worth dl’ing (they’re all free via net label Lost Children) and listening to, I personally enjoy their split with TToL most. It reaches the most beautiful climaxes and reminds me a lot of This Will Destroy You (whom I love very, very much omg). In Today Already Walks Tomorrow, their only EP, is a much darker and heavier piece, taking hints of post-metal at various points throughout. Their demo is their first work, and probably a worthy introduction. They also released a single song last month, titled “The Obstacle Is The Path”. Check it all out at either of the two lovely links below.


[bandcamp]
[website]

Posted by Anna at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2010

Spirit Youth - The Depreciation Guild

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The Depreciation Guild’s latest poses a difficult comparison to 2007’s In Her Gentle Jaws, the band’s debut. Gentle Jaws, a swirl of fuzzy guitar laden with 80s-esque electronic sounds, drowned us in loud, dizzying shoegaze. Whatever hint of pop existed in their music then, Spirit Youth then took and expanded on. Now immersed in a dream pop sound, The Depreciation Guild tries their hand out while wandering down this new, cleaner direction— well okay, not always clean… they’ve just switched out some of blaring guitar for some lighter pop sounds.

While Gentle Jaws was a little less “generic”, upping up the band’s unique points, Spirit Youth presents something a little more familiar. That does not at all credit it to being boring or unoriginal though; it’s just layered with easily identifiable influences. The beginning of the album opens up with several Cocteau Twins–like melodies (songs like “Blue Lily”) and of course, a hint of MBV is undeniably evident in a lot of Spirit Youth’s guitar work (this is a shoegaze/dream pop album we’re talking about after all). But oddly enough, I’m most frequently reminded of Mew when listening to this album. Constantly, actually. The Depreciation Guild must have happened to land on the same line of dream pop that Mew often toys with, because “November” and especially “White Moth” could easily be songs from Frengers. Kurt Feldman’s voice also happens to have a strange likeness to Jonas Bjerre’s, so maybe that’s why this resemblance seems to be glaring me in the face so strongly.

Ultimately, it’s a pretty well polished dream pop album, despite not being so OUT THERE 100% original. “My Chariot”, “Crucify You”, and “White Moth” are really key tracks, in my opinion. Dear dream pop album, maybe I’ll reserve a place for you in my best of 2010 list. Possibly maybe.

Rating: 8.2/10

[website]
[myspace]


[currently listening to: Hunter – Björk]

Posted by Anna at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2010

Say hello to my kids

School has been shitty and taking up the majority of my time, along with other things, so I haven't had any time to write anything. That list of "Overlooked Albums" obviously hasn't been completed, but I have a 4-day weekend ahead of me so I'll likely have to time to finish and post that.

I'm going to begin a little "feature"-type blogging... a brief mention about some lesser-known or maybe just very recently-relevant band or album which will be every week or so. Since I've very, very bad at trying to write and post full album reviews regularly, maybe this will work out better.

But anyway...

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Though I haven't gotten a chance to listen to it too many times, I'm really enjoying the self-titled EP by the post-rock band, Say hello my kids. I've probably mentioned at one point that I'm very fond of post-rock. It's perhaps my most favourite genre, but like almost all genres, there's a great deal of crap to sift through before you find the goods. Post-rock has the unfortunate reputation of being known particularly dull, and while I would agree to a certain extent (I really don't find too much variety in EitS, the Album Leaf, etc), there really are some excellent bands out there. I typically try to reach out into the more exciting end of post-rock spectrum and only post the real gold here.

That being said, I think Say hello to my kids meets some of the higher expectations of post-rock. Their debut EP doesn't form around any one stable sound, which I like, because it gives them various areas in which to branch off to. They use vocals in a lot their music in an "abnormal" manner for post-rock; there's more focus on lyrics than is typically found. Interestingly enough, the songs with vocals also include the most interesting instrumentation and end up grabbing the most attention. Say hello to my kids resemble a sort of... toned-down version of iLiKETRAiNS that uses the ambient elements of This Will Destory You's music. And somewhere throughout that we hear some Mono-esque dark droning guitar notes and also the shy piano typical of The Tumbled Sea. (ALL those bands really need to be name-dropped around here more often!). It skips around a bit, but I highly suggest listening to the entire EP (which you can download from the band's last.fm). So it's kind of a downer to listen to, but in that good "I want to spend all these dreary winter days alone in my house eating dried fruit, reading out-of-print books, and reminiscing about the ones I miss, being content, but not happy" way. It's not wintertime, you say? Well, I live in Washington and it's always winter here... (rain rain rain rain rain rain)

Rating: 8.1/10

[last.fm]
[myspace]
[website]

Posted by Anna at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2010

ODDSAC screening

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I think there’s a reason I’m a little afraid to watch Animal Collective music videos. So okay “Who Could Win a Rabbit” is pretty funny every so often, but just getting a glimpse at “Peacebone” unsettles me… It’s creepy, and not the same type of creepy as Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy” music video. There’s a “disturbing” factor involved, which is expected considering that AnCo’s music isn’t exactly easygoing all of the time (no MPP interjections allowed here). With this thought in mind, I purchased tickets to see ODDSAC somewhat nervously. I had little idea of what to expect. Did anyone really? The 30 second trailer for the movie didn’t provide much to expand on, but it turned out the movie didn’t either.

If you don’t already know, ODDSAC is a long-term visual album/movie project of Animal Collective and Danny Perez (who has done music videos for AnCo before). The idea was apparently conjured several years back whilst AnCo was on tour, which could explain why ODDSAC is dramatically different from the band’s 2009 releases. They claim it to be their most “experimental” work yet which I think I’m willing to agree with. The movie has been screened on 8 different dates so far (w/ multiple showings on some dates), and more is to come. I saw the most recent showing at the Egyptian Theatre in Seattle a little while ago. There is a release planned for the DVD this summer, but nothing concerning just the audio.

I’m not really sure what the hell these guys were thinking when they came up with the idea of this psychedelic horror film. 2009’s MPP was a leap for them, drawing in a new, larger audience, but I don’t think it made ODDSAC a safe territory to venture into. In a way, I’m also sort of glad they decided to retain their weirdness and create ODDSAC instead of continuing down the MPP/Fall Be Kind pop route (and I say this as someone who really enjoys their latest work), but it became a disappointing attempt more than a creative side-tangent. But perhaps one thing we can still admire AnCo for is their unpredictability.

Both artistically and musically, the movie begins somewhat ambitiously. The opening scene includes a little box-house in a dark field. From a window in the house, you can see dancing figures carrying lit torches or something outside. There is a girl inside the house who is looking rather unsettled and worried. Between possibly-artsy shots of the light-dancers outside and her in the house, the focus is directed towards the wall of the house. The girl is pretty interested in the battered wall, especially when it starts oozing bloody black goo which she then frantically tries to hold back, but fails as the flow becomes more and more intense. Things get messy and soon enough it seems as though the girl has stopped fighting the goo and instead is tossing it around almost with enjoyment. The music accompanying this scene is equally dramatic: layers of strange noises over a thumping ambience and somewhat-distorted low vocals. As the scene progresses, dark sounds erupt beneath the ambience that give a feeling of pounding drums (though nothing in the song actually implies clear instrumentation). These thumping echoes add an explosive and disturbed atmosphere to the goo-battle. I was actually excited by this scene, but disappointedly found that this is basically one of two parts in the movie that is aesthetically pleasing.

The canoe scene, along with the “canoe song”, is another well-recognized part of the film. Here, we see a creepy white monster thing (I honestly couldn’t recognize who was who throughout most the film— the guys from AnCo do play in it though) sailing his little canoe through what seems to be a dark cave, lit only by a light positioned on his canoe. The filming in this scene is gorgeous. The camera is never directly focused on White-Face Monster, but instead slowly reveals eerie shots of his canoe slipping along the dark waters, the white light illuminating just parts of his face. The music also does its part to add to the scene’s beauty. Not only is this the first entrance of Panda Bear’s lovely voice in the movie (are those sighs of relief I hear?), but that familiar voice is also singing to the dark melody of an acoustic guitar. What?! When was the last time we heard that in Animal Collective’s music? Beautiful song, and even quite relieving after the sea of messy noise that precedes and follows it. I had heard this song prior to the show (from a source which has now removed it), but getting to hear it along with the stunning imagery was all the more impacting.

Only about 20 minutes into ODDSAC, the artistic value of the movie begins to diminish and the entire thing goes downhill. We continue to see more unrelated scenes filled with dysfunctional creatures, each one more bizarre than the last, yet none of them seem to find any solid ground to stand on. Though there is no "meaning" directly conveyed behind the canoe scene and the goo-scene, those scenes make your mind struggle with their story and are interesting enough to invoke thoughts and ideas in the viewer/listener. Aside from those two scenes, there are only underdeveloped ideas that also float around through the film. Nothing too cohesive. There are marshmallows eating people, a vampire bleeding to death under the rays of the sun, some strange creature washing egg-like rocks in a river, and the White-Face Monster also makes another bizarre appearance at a girl’s slumber party. Most of it is incoherent, but a few of the more amusing scenes warmly invited some snickering and hushed what the fuck’s from the audience. But after carrying on through the same ideas for extended periods of time, the humor was easily lost. The musical accompaniment was no stronger, nor more interesting. Most of the music in the second half of the film is fuzzy seas of noise, a messy ambience that doesn’t actually get anywhere.

The scenes in the movie that have strong visuals and complementary audio raise interest and are worth seeing, but they are few and become overpowered by an incoherent mess. It also didn't help that the venue screening the film also had awful, awful sound and image quality. Nevertheless, it didn’t fail to attract an abundance of pretentious idiots shitting themselves over the film. Don’t get me wrong, I’m friends with plenty of AnCo fans, but just listen to some of these people talk. The guy in front of me spewed out the most illogical, babbling heap of a question during the Q&A, AnCo had no idea what he was talking about and I’m not even sure he did himself. Probably just fapping over the idea of speaking to them. I imagine they have to put up with a handful of those egotistical idiots at every show.


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Thankfully there were some intelligible discussion during the Q&A. Which came first, the music or the visuals? [response below]. Where is Panda Bear? Well, he is in Lisbon and it’s sort of a long way to fly just to answer some questions. Deakin, are you back in the band now? What? I don’t see myself as ever having left the band. But please, let’s keep all questions about the film. I appreciate your concern though (lol).



So... did it blow my mind?
No.

Am I going to buy it on DVD?
No.

Am I glad I went?
Yes, as a big fan of Animal Collective, I am glad I went. (My dad on the other hand... ;)


[ODDSAC website]


[currently listening to: Villa Del Refugio - This Will Destroy You]

Posted by Anna at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2010

futurerecordings // Service Bell EP - Years of Rice & Salt

Recently, well, a few weeks ago actually, I came across futurerecordings, a label that puts out all their releases for free. For the most part, these releases fall under the post-rock and ambient umbrella, but also stretch out to encompass screamo (Indian Summer) and other genres. What’s really neat is that the label offers high quality downloads for whatever album you choose to download— Which makes me wonder… are post-rockers generally audiophiles? I’m not sure. I’ve always gotten the impression that being an audiophile doesn’t necessary entail good taste, but it’s debatable— however, getting back to the label…

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I’ve come across quite a few nice albums and EPs from this label. Both albums by The Tumbled Sea, a one man ambient project, are worth downloading, but I think by far the greatest release is the Service Bell EP by Years of Rice and Salt. As far as lesser-known post-rock acts go, Years of Rice and Salt’s EP matches up to the sheer brilliance of This Is My Normal State’s debut EP, Angel Falls ++, that I’ve been shitting myself about since November (and speaking of which, TiMNS is planning on releasing new material soon—more on that later). It’s that good.

I think it would be safe to say that about 9 out of 10 post-rock songs are sad. Post-rock is music that makes you think, so is it sadder music that is more thought-provoking and emotion-distilling than music that is cheerful? The Service Bell EP makes me disregard that thought. It’s just a four-song EP, running about 30 minutes in length, yet it manages to invoke more emotions than just the generic “sadness” post-rock generally does. “Plankton”, a song full of eerie whispering, begins the EP on a melancholy note, but wavers a bit, giving off the impression that it won’t stall on the idea. “Plankton” leads right into “Splendid Isolation” which feeds off of the previous song’s edgy sorrow only for a bit. It turns into a sweet, bouncy jam (imagine: post-rock parade) before retreating to a slower, thoughtful section, and ending with a painfully gorgeous guitar line that struggles to toss its head above the sea of strings. These odd transitions put the album at risk of becoming inconsistent and unfocused, but Years of Rice and Salt changes the mood of their music so naturally that these jumps are hardly questionable.

What “Plankton” and “Isolation” do to impress the listener in an controlled manner, “(Rearranging) Deckchairs”, the third track, also the one with the coolest name, does with its intensity and energy. The first three minutes consist of intertwining guitar and violin(?) parts. The violin plays the prominent role the guitar would normally assume, while the guitar stays in the background. The band often takes interesting approaches like this on the EP, giving their music a unique sound yet uncreated by another post-rock band. The song builds its dynamic as it goes along, eventually exploding into the EP’s most forcefully-fueled section. Every instrument sings with absolute vigor and determined mentality, demonstrating the band’s ability to allow their carefully crafted masterpieces to remain both pleasantly natural and naturally pleasant.

If it could be considered to have one, the Service Bell EP falls into its weakest section with “Occasional Flashes of Warmth”. The yearning strings and guitar move at a seemingly delayed tempo after powering through “Deckchairs”. Eventually this restrained part gives way to the EP’s only comprehensible vocals; a sort of turning point and conclusive idea. I do lose a bit of interest when making it to this last track, but the entire EP still comes together very beautifully. It’s supposed to be music about a shipwreck. That may not be how you or I picture it, but the music is so vivid and friendly that you can easily create your own story. It's bands like Years of Rice and Salt that make me wonder how people can possibly find post-rock uninteresting.

Rating: 8.6/10

[download the Service Bell EP here]
[Years of Rice and Salt myspace]


futurerecordings
[downloads]
[physical releases]


[currently listening to: Dsco – Sweet Trip]

Posted by Anna at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2010

American Ghetto - Portugal. The Man

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Nothing really screams “summer” like a new Portugal. The Man record. For me, this is very easy to say, as I was first introduced to PtM through The Satanic Satanist, when it was released last July. I had this gorgeous 11-track album on heavy rotation for months after I initially heard it. File it under “love at first listen”, I guess. Satanist quickly became the soundtrack to (the rest of) my summer and easily slid into slot number 2 on my best of 2009 list.

Yet somehow, not even 8 months have passed since Satanist’s release, and these guys are eagerly handing us another album like it’s no biggie. And it’s really not. Since the band first formed in 2004, they’ve almost effortlessly put out a new album every year, with an EP thrown in here and there for good measure. And each year they’re revving up their productivity even more, now, almost so it seems that American Ghetto came too fast. When explaining PtM’s spontaneous new release, vocalist John Gourley said in a post on the band’s website, “American Ghetto was an album that, though drum machined and programmed and synthesized, maintained a lot of feeling and the soul and heart of what this band is.” True to his word, the band’s music seems to sustain, if not exceed, their regular quality of work given a shorter time frame. They’ve just got this shit down.

To be completely honest, it’s really hard to level up any two PtM albums side by side. The band writes incredibly consistent albums— consistently incredible, that is— so even if you find anything to pick at it’s more likely the general direction of the album instead of a minor detail. I haven’t yet been disappointed by any of their albums and Ghetto is no new exception. From start to finish, they’ve created yet another masterpiece in which the threads are weaved together perfectly, allowing the album to throw forth its brightest colours and dance like crazy as the sunlight reflects them from above.

As far as influence goes, Ghetto echoes Satanist’s captivating pop sound more than anything else the band has released. But besides that faint vibe, Ghetto heads off into territory yet undiscovered by PtM; a world where synths dominate layers of muddled guitar and work with Gourley’s ever-catchy vocals to give a new name to Portugal. The Man as far as pop is concerned. Only during “The Pushers Party” does Ghetto temporarily remove its mask and explode into a Satanist-esque jam (that’s hard to pronounce). The rest of the time, the album jumps out with catchy tracks like “All My People” and “The Dead Dog” or the melancholy “Some Men”, which remind us that PtM has lost none of their songwriting talent whilst straying from their traditional sound.

Ghetto doesn’t maintain its strength through its entirety quite as well as Satanist did. Around “Fantastic Pace” and “Do What We Do”, the album actually stumbles a bit, despite starting off so strongly. But I think it makes up for this with the last three tracks, particularly “When The War Ends”. Satanist honestly could have spun up a better ending after repeatedly setting such high standards, but Ghetto’s finale actually lives up to its name. “When The War Ends” almost mimics “People Say” ’s uncertain attitude with its own matter-of-factly-ness, perhaps suggesting that American Ghetto is a more mature Satanist. Is it? Well, I dunno, but I love this song and I sure can’t wait till summer, because Portugal. The Man during the summer is the shit.

[download "The Dead Dog" ]

Rating: 8.5/10

(And if you are wondering, Satanist gets an 8.8 in my book)


PtM RETWEETED THIS. I LOVE YOU -->
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[currently listening to: In Response to Irresponsibility - Algernon Cadwallader]

Posted by Anna at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2010

Heligoland - Massive Attack

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Like many artists, electronic masterminds Massive Attack (known by their stage names as Daddy G and 3D) have been known to take multiple years in between releasing their albums. Sure, they manage to fit several soundtracks and compilations inside those gaps of time, but the true masterpieces we patiently await for are their studio albums. The last Massive Attack album given to us was back in 2003. Released as both a follow-up to the godly Mezzanine and also a solo effort by 3D (after some lineup struggles), Protection was considered shabby and disappointing by some. Now, 7 long years after Protection and over two decades since the duo first arrived on the scene, we are given Heligoland.

I’m a little young to have observed the growth of anticipation for this album, but I suppose that after 7 years there is much to be expected from this group. I think I’m also safe to assume that no one was actually expecting another Mezzanine. There are few artists who can repeatedly top their best work, let alone do it once. But does Heligoland even stand up to Massive Attack’s other albums? Driven by repetition and maintaining a fairly low-profile for the majority of its 52 minutes, Massive Attack’s latest has mainly been beaten to the ground with words like “unimpressive” and “disappointment” (but also received some occasional praise).

The album opens up on a somewhat weak note with “Pray for Rain”. This song mainly rides along its repeating piano-drum pattern (very bland compared to the lush electronic sound we typically associate with Massive Attack), but later rises into a haunting crescendo of ‘oooh’s and ‘ahhh’s. Though slow, the progression through the song eventually becomes rewarding. This climax, however, is completely ruined when the song decides to return to what it was doing at the beginning, allowing us to forget about everything that happened in between.

Disappointingly enough, “Pray for Rain” is sort of a set up for the entire album. Most of the tracks don’t stray from the boundaries they set up at the beginning, putting the listener at a distance instead of inviting them closer. And if they do manage to break new ground, they won't develop on it, but instead run back whimpering with their tail between their legs. “Girl I Love You” may be one of the few exceptions to this general direction of Heligoland. It sings, it doesn’t whisper (take this as literally as you want, the vocals on half the songs sound very laidback and uninterested). Built from thick bass tones, a chorusing brass ensemble, rickety percussion, and all topped with vocals from Massive Attack favourite, Horace Andy, the song draws back to a familiar Massive Attack sound, while also entering a new, exotic territory. The album’s first single, “Splitting the Atom”, a dark droning number, exhibits some of Heligoland’s love of repetition, but uses it to establish its eerie atmosphere. Even though it's not as outspoken as "Girl I Love You", it's still one of the greater highlights of the album. But I do have a feeling that it would lose its charm if it had been placed later in the tracklist and allowed to be overdriven with the monotony of the entire album.

Songs like “Flat of the Blade” and “Saturday Come Slow”, however, are just dull and struggle to contribute something of substance to the album. “Rush Minute” is a total callback to Protection-era sound, perhaps it’s the child of “Small Time Shot Away” and “Name Taken”. Though their child is not disappointing, it fails to try anything its parents haven’t already accomplished. It seems like Massive Attack has forgotten how to make their music as emotionally impacting as it was before. Nearly every song on Heligoland lacks the spark that their older music had.

“Paradise Circus” almost gets away with its restrained vocals and laid-back sound, had not the majority of the album already tried that. On “Paradise Circus”, these elements seem to add to the song’s direction and create a timid-yet-edgy mood. The song could work well as quieter moment on another album, but in this situation the impact of its soothing simplicity is less memorable since Heligoland provides it with nothing it can suppress.

Despite weaving through undeveloped and mediocre moments, Heligoland still manages to catch itself and deliver a strong closer. Like “Rush Minute”, “Atlas Air” is also reminiscent of an earlier Massive Attack; a cross between the moody ambience of Protection and Mezzanine’s dramatic compositions. Del Naja’s (3D) vocals form a slick, catchy melody against the electronic-laden track, and the whole song is rather comforting and pleasant to hear at the end of the album. It may not be as epic and moving as “Group Four”, but it’s a very well-rounded finish. (It’s a shame Heligoland featured so little vocal appearances by 3D and Daddy G though. This album became much more of a ‘guest-vocalist party’ than Massive Attack’s other albums).

With some reassurance from the last track, Heligoland proves to be less of a tragedy to live through than it has been credited to be. In fact, it’s in no way a disastrous album. It’s that lack of disaster, disagreeable or pleasant, (a pleasant disaster?! What’s that?) that makes it mediocre in the end. It’s neither a stain to Massive Attack’s reputation nor a new source for praise and admiration. I’ve found it to be most enjoyable when the songs are listened to individually instead of all at once, since none of them adhere to make the album strong as a whole anyway.

Rating: 6.5/10

(Way to post this a month after it's relevant, right?)

[currently listening to: Better Things - Massive Attack]

Posted by Anna at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2010

Sugar Crush - Useless Beauty

sugar crush.jpg

Sugar Crush
Useless Beauty
2010
- - -

So this post is going to be a little different than usual. I’m reviewing an EP by Useless Beauty, a local indie band from NYC consisting of pianist and producer, Nam Choi, and singer and percussionist, Katie Boone. Nam kindly emailed me asking me to review their newly released EP Sugar Crush. Never having received a request like this before, I’m excitedly taking on the opportunity.

Claiming to take influences from distinct female musicians such as Joni Mitchell, KT Tunstall, and Regina Spektor, Useless Beauty have created their own style of sweet, melodic pop music that sounds about as intoxicatingly sweet as the cover of their EP looks. Sugar Crush is primarily run by Katie’s soothing, sing-song-y vocals and supported by a melding of keyboard, guitar, and percussion. There is even an added element of saxophone that gently rises up in the background of the first track, “Shut Up and Let Me Love You” and “Broken Bones”, and solos during “Giggling Eyes”.

Useless Beauty’s carefully constructed pop music might seem cheesy at times. I mean, when you put cupcakes and gumballs on the cover of your album and name it “Sugar Crush” it might be hard to avoid the stereotype. But for two young musicians trying to create something fun and new in the modern music scene, this EP still comes off as a decent attempt despite hitting some cliché moments.

“Mer Song”, the second track and longest on the EP, would probably be the best example. It opens with a sugary sweet keyboard melody, reverb’d guitar, and some la la la’s from Katie. It’s your typical love ballad, but develops as it goes along and becomes a little more than the other tracks do. Nam’s gentle and somewhat shy voice makes an entrance halfway through the song, creating a delicate atmosphere Katie’s singing couldn’t quite establish at first. Katie’s voice seems to fit better in the pop-rock flavoured songs, but towards the end of “Mer Song” both vocalists sing a pleasant harmony together that works as a great ending to the song. It's moments like this when the vocals start to slip beneath the layer of instruments that Sugar Crush moves away from a forced, clean-cut pop sound to something more natural and enjoyable.

It may be that I had Citrus and Hush set on constant repeat during January, but I’m definitely hearing some Hush-era Asobi Seksu in “Broken Bones”. I’m guessing it’s not an immediate influence, but I can’t help but be reminded of Asobi’s “Sing Tomorrow’s Praise” or “Gliss” in “Broken Bones” 's vocal stylings (is that a word?) and dreamy mix of keyboard and guitar. Sadly, the song remains fairly laid-back for the most part, but its overall sound resonated with me and I consider it a highlight on Sugar Crush.

Naturally, my own music taste leads me to choose the beauty of “Mer Song” and “Broken Bones” over the pop-rock focused side of Sugar Crush. I enjoy “Shut Up and Let Me Love You” to a certain point, but “Giggling Eyes” is more iffy and “Get There” doesn’t catch my attention at all. “Eyes” almost gets away with its unoriginal sound just by being catchy, but the excessive guitar soloing ruins it. Even the sax starts to lose its magic. The problem with straightforward rock and pop-rock is simply that it’s boring. Useless Beauty should direct the effects of their sugar intake toward making cute pop music and stay away from mixing that with rock elements.

Download Sugar Crush

Check out the band’s myspace here.

EDIT: Looks like Soundcloud is currently down so no track downloading is available at the moment. Servers are expected to be up again soon. Servers are up!

[currently listening to: Kolniður - Jónsi]

Posted by Anna at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2010

Ashes Grammar - ASDiG

ashes grammar.jpg

Ashes Grammar
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
2009
- - -

Remember me saying that I missed a lot of awesome albums last year? Yeah. I bought Ashes Grammar, the band's second album, two or three weekends ago, at the same time I got Hush, and have been listening to it endlessly since. I also just went through the band's very amusing tour diary and downloaded some live tracks, free mp3s, etc etc etc from their website. Not only are these guys one of the most overlooked shoegaze acts I can think of, but they also sound a very cool bunch of people. Probably my favourite band at the moment.

...But getting back to the actual album. To be completely straightforward, it's just mind-blowing and beautiful. Sure, there are little things wrong with it, most notably its having about 51894486 million songs, but that only pushes it a little past an hour. And let me tell you, that is one enjoyable hour.

ASDiG describe themselves as making "dreamy pop" music and I suppose this is a better way to label their style than "shoegaze". From the very beginning of the album, which opens with some shorter tracks before launching into the first actual (regular length? solid?) track, we can tell that this will be very dreamy indeed. Faint, echoing voices float above a background of droning something-or-other before a tambourine enters, stirring up the ambient atmosphere for the upcoming song "Failure".

"Failure" is one of the more eccentric songs on the album— Not to say that the others aren't as creative, but this one is... well... you listen to it. It's bouncy and weird and makes you want to jump up and start clapping and chanting. Annie and Jen sing "Fall forward / Feel failure". Sort of inspirational in a non inspirational way. How this band manages to write a song this weird and get it away with it is beyond me, but hell, it's a blast.

"Curse words", which is what I just said when my computer after my computer randomly decided to crash a second ago and I couldn't remember whether or not I saved a draft of this entry (I did), is some more whispery stuff. It acts as a beautiful interlude before "Close chorus", quite possibly the greatest song on this album. Here, you start wondering if what you're hearing is even real. If maybe all these unearthly sounds you're hearing are just fragments of thought passing through the mind of a dreamer. One who speaks in colour and sees in emotion. Who may not even remember his dream once he wakes up, but will faintly remember the rush of ecstasy and confusion he felt during it. "I don't understand why it's wrong to feel happy...". Ashes Grammar as a whole is very emotionally distilling, although you don't always know exactly what you are feeling.

It's hard not to say the same for the next few songs. "Shy" always gives me chills when I hear it. The layered vocals buried beneath the blurred instruments create such an airy effect that you almost think you'll disappear into it... But then that fiddle jumps out of nowhere and you're back on the surface. And if I honestly had to pick a favourite song on this album, I think it would be "Passionate introverts". It's absolutely flawless and loses me every time. I've been listening to it every morning before school while I'm half asleep and still dreaming...

You could say that "Failure" to "Passionate Introverts" is the greatest section of the album and possibly be right, but there is no excuse to saying that the rest is not worth listening to. Perhaps the largest climax has passed (and really, it's hard to beat that stuff back there), but the album continues its creative streak and churns out some more gems.

"The white witch" starts off sounding like some regular rockin' shoegaze, but is still subject to ASDiG's spell. It's simple and lovely. The band has this distinct sound they stick to all of their songs, but this mold is rather flexible and it gives their music virtually no limitations.

"Close chorus" had a nice little deconstruction and crescendo, but it really doesn't beat what's going on in "Nitetime Rainbows". This song is running all over the place dropping little uncertain hints of this and that, but it definitely knows where it's going (don't question it). By the end you'd think it had already run out of innovative juices, but at around 5:00 we hear the greatest crescendo known to man (don't question that either).

...But before you get a chance to even think on that, "Canalfish" jumps out from its canal and snaps its vicious jaws at you, reminding you that you're just a visitor here. Don't get so comfortable!

Toward the end of Ashes Grammar, the songs start to display some overused concepts repeated throughout the album. Extensive intros, predictable song structure... I can see why people would say it's somewhat monotonous at times. While these last songs don't add much to the album, there were rather high standards set at the beginning and I, personally, wasn't expecting them to be beat. Another (somewhat irrational) disappointment for me was that the title track wasn't anything special.

Ashes Grammar seemed to generate mixed reactions among its listeners. Many seem to find the album messy and sort of a disappointment, while others thinks it's rather brilliant. While I can agree that it seems to drag on at some moments, mainly due to lack of extreme variety amongst the tracks, it honestly takes a few listens for it to all sink in. On first listen, only several tracks seem to stand out and yes, those are the ones of regular length. The developed ones. You only ever really remember certain parts of a dream, don't you? But what about the stuff floating amongst that? To be honest, I think the majority of it is necessary to complete the album. Ashes Grammar is not so much about individual songs as it as the entire impact. Listening to it in one go and giving it your full attention is a must.

Rating: 8.9/10 (This would definitely have made my top 10 of 2009).

Whether or not the band can recreate the magical effect this album gives live is a different question. But from the looks of this and this, it seems rather promising. I'm seeing these guys on March 9th. I'm so stroked!

Sorry for the obnoxious length of this review! I'll be updating with other (shorter) interesting things soon.

[currently listening to: keep your splendid silent sun - sleepmakeswaves]

Posted by Anna at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2010

Hush - Asobi Seksu

hush.jpg

Asobi Seksu
Hush
2009
- - -

So I've been going through a big "shoegaze phase" lately. A lot of what I've been listening to are recommendations given to me by others (A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Sweet Trip, The Depreciation Guild) and others are bands I heard a while ago, but for some reason didn't make a large move into until now. Asobi Seksu would be one of those bands. I heard "Thursday" again last month and remembered the pure magic of that song. Since then I've been hooked.

I don't remember Hush making it onto very many lists last year. In fact, I hadn't even heard about the album until the end of December (I could just be really oblivious though). I think people tend to overlook it, because Citrus was considered such a masterpiece. It's a shame though, since Hush is a fairly decent album. I won't spend too much time making comparisons between the two, but I think a few are necessary.

I haven't listened to Citrus as much as Hush, but I can tell that the latter took much more of a pop-ier direction. Citrus is straightforward rockin' shoegaze. Hush is borderline shoegaze, leaning more towards some creative sounding dream pop.

Hush doesn't really have a "Thursday" on it. That song is the obvious climax of Citrus, because it's simply captivating and addictive. It's like one of those fuzzy dreams where you're running and then leap into the sky and find that you can fly. And everyone loves those, right? There are little highlights on Hush; my personal favourites are "Familiar Light", "Sing Tomorrow's Praise", and "Glacially", but nothing that stands out that much. And this is just because the album as a whole is more laid back than Citrus.

Sometimes I feel like the track order wasn't thought out very well. It opens kind of confused with "Layers", and ends with one of the more upbeat and outspoken tracks, "Me & Mary", followed by the slow, but teasing "Blind Little Rain". It makes it kind of different from Citrus though. I feel like that album sort of runs itself down a bit.

The other songs are scattered in between, not completely nonsensically, but not in a particular order either. "Transparence" always catches me off guard. And "Risky and Pretty" following it? I mean it's a cool song, but I don't even know how it got there. I'm guessing it doesn't either.

Some individual songs on sound rather polished, like "Glacially" and "Sing Tomorrow's Praise", but the album as a whole doesn't seem absolutely complete. Yuki's vocals help to reach climaxes and despite her voice being so fragile and beautiful, the album hits some dull, undeveloped points that could have been better. The chorus of "Gliss" is a weird contrast from the eerie whisperings of its beginning. "Meh No Mae", one of the few times on Hush that we hear Yuki sing in Japanese, uses that same overused sound and adds nothing to the album. Each song takes on a similar structure, and a lot of them try to end the same way (bloop bloop bloop dee bloop bloop bloop... )

If you try not to read it too deeply, it doesn't really come off this way. I think I've been unnecessarily over-criticizing a bit, but that's the only way I've been able squeeze everything out of it. But maybe that's not how this album works. Maybe it's just shy. Maybe it doesn't want to tell me everything. Because really, a lot of the melodies on here are downright sweet, nice-sounding, and overall satisfying. And if you're listening for pleasure that's all that matters, right?

Rating: 7.2/10

Posted by Anna at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2009

Fall Be Kind EP

Animal-Collective-Fall-Be-Kind-EP.jpg

Fall Be Kind EP
Animal Collective

I know this leaked last month, but I waited to listen to the whole thing until I had a bought a copy of it. So here we are.

This year has obviously been big for Animal Collective. "Merriweather Post Pavilion" has made "Top _____" lists everywhere and now after the release of this EP, they've gotten even more attention. It's said that they're at their "creative peak" right now, which may or may not be true, I mean... they've put out some pretty "creative" stuff before. A better word to describe it would just be "successful", seeing as how more and more people are recognizing their music to the point where the've become one of the most talked about bands of the decade. This, of course, has lead to them to also get a lot of shit from the "antihipsterantihipsterantihipster" crowd, but whaaaaatever. Maybe I'm just a hipster, but I believe their recognition is well-earned.

"Fall Be Kind" starts off where "Merriweather" ended. But it goes far beyond where that album could go; a promising sign that the next decade holds more pleasant surprises from this band.

It opens with "Graze", which is essentially a song with two parts. The first half is sung by Avey Tare. It's a rather atmospheric, almost ambient, introduction to the EP, I like to think. Let me begin. Almost unexpectedly, the song changes into a bouncier, happier tune and Noah/Panda Bear joins into the signing. And here comes the Animal Collective Express again! (see Brothersport) There's some weird stuff going on here that just seems out of place, but these guys seem to know how to pull it off (they almost always do). And just when you think things couldn't get better...

The next song, "What Would I Want? Sky", is the song that sets "Fall Be Kind apart from Merriweather. It's my favourite song. It's everyone's favourite song. It's Pitchfork's favourite song. It's probably your favourite song too. "Sky" is focused around the repeating line "What would I want? Sky" (no shit), which emerges out of nowhere after "a bunch of noise and some weird words muttered over and over". A whole catchy melody is built off this to, undeniably, create one of Animal Collective's greatest pop songs. Do you get up up up? / Clouds stop and move above me / Too bad they can't help me / What is the right way? Face it. "My Girls" was good, but nowhere this good.

These songs flow so well into each other. After some messing around with the track order, it seems that almost any order you put them in works great (but of course the original is best). "Sky" flows right into "Bleed", where we here some more weird muttering that reminds me of the voices meathead uses in his videos, but that's irrelevant. "Bleed" is on the dreamy side, kind of like the first half of "Graze". Panda Bear hits some high notes in the background while Avey Tare sings a slow, surreal melody. It's my least favourite track on the EP, but it's still very good.

Animal Collective's sound has obviously changed a lot in the past few years. They've given up the more raw/acoustic sounds of "Sung Tongs" and "Feels" and taken up a more electronic-based/"i'm not really sure what instrument that is" sound where we often hear looped noises and sounds combining to form a more complex melody that often isn't meant to be taken apart, but heard more as a single flow of sound (major run-on sentence, sorry). This was especially prevalent in "Merriweather", where basically every song was constructed in this way, though it's seen in parts of "Strawberry Jam" as well. This definitely applies to all the songs on "Fall Be Kind", but "On A Highway" is an especially good example. Not only is the main melody in the background repeating in a drone-like fashion, but the lyrical structure does the same thing, and the song doesn't ever fall into that point of monotony that songs on "Merriweather" are often accused of. It might be notable to mention that I didn't really listen to the lyrics very closely on the first time through, but I definitely couldn't avoid hearing On a highway / There are some workers pissing / It starts my bladder itching / Can I wait for the exit?

The EP hits its darkest point with "I Think I Can". This song is almost creepy at times. I'll try to remember to put it on my Halloween playlist next year. The layered, almost droning vocals combined with the resounding drum pattern and weird distorted piano (?) sound like some caveman ritual you might stumble across while walking aimlessly through the woods at night. O-kay— maybe not, but randomly finding Animal Collective in the forest would be pretty cool. I think I can I think can I think I—

"Fall Be Kind" is a really sound EP. It's both addicting and fun to listen to. Animal Collective is definitely building on their pop sound, and they're doing a great job. I hope the next album is this good. Also... What Would I Want? Sky single? Yes plz

Rating: 8.6/10

- - -

In other news, I'm on winter break right now, which is why I have time for writing novels like this. This is my first not-completely-stupid review, so thank you for reading/skimming/falling asleep at the keyboard. Next year I hope to write more of these, given I have an album to write about and the time to write. New Massive Attack and solo album by Jónsi in February.

Before the end of the year I'm also going to post my own "Best of 2009" list, so I'll get started on that soon...

Posted by Anna at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2009

The Incident

theincident.jpg
The Incident
Porcupine Tree

O-kay, this album came out September 15 I think, but I needed time to first actually buy it, and take it in... slowly... which is why I'm writing this in November.

My first reaction to this album was similar to what the large majority of people have been saying about it: it's not that good. After listening to it more my opinion has changed, but let's first lay down some basics as to why people might get that first impression:

1. There aren't really any "pop songs" here to catch your attention the first time around, like in most of their previous albums. Proggg On!!!!!!!! \m/

2. More metal, less rock. For lovers of "In Absentia", it might be harder to get into.

3. It's looooooooo)))ng. One hour and 15 minutes. I don't mind long albums too much, but when that time is split up into lots of short tracks like here, it does kind of irritates me. I like how the tracklist FoaBP ran better.

It opens with a dramatic "dunn dunn duhhhnn" Funeral Diner-esque guitar riff in "Occam's Razor", that I later found is also repeated in "Degree Zero of Liberty" (sneaky!). I guess you could say that the first bit of the album is heavier than the rest. It does balance out a little bit with quiet songs and louder songs... kind of... There's some cultural references in this first part as well, since I guess PT is trying to pull a Tool and be deeeeeeeep or something, IDK.

O-kay, so I lied earlier. "Drawing the Line" is actually quite pop-y, or maybe just the catchiest song on the album. And coincidentally, it's one of my favourites (predictable listener is predictable!).

The title track— no... we're talking The Incident, not Ænema, has some weird whispering going on, but it progresses on to be a p. good song. There's lots of nice guitar solos; also in "Your Unpleasant Family".

"The Yellow Windows Of The Evening Train" is kind of out of place, but awesome. It sounds a lot like Parachutes, that cool Icelandic group that has nothing to do with the monotone, sleep-inducing mess that is a Coldplay album.

David Gilmour's guitar work in the next song, "Time Flies", is amazing— oh wait! ...Am I mixing up songs? Hmm... this sure sounds an awful lot like "Dogs"! I know Steven Wilson takes lots and lots and lots of influence from Pink Floyd, but this sounds just a little too familiar... ;)

"Octane Twisted" is when you start getting into the better section of the album (not to say that the stuff before wasn't good). They incorporate such a wide variety of sounds here, it's impossible to just call it "prog rock", let alone to describe it at all. All I can say is THE GUITAR WORK IS BEAUTIFUL. "I Drive The Hearse" might just be the loveliest song on the album, along with "Flicker" and "Remember Me Lover" (I can't decide, obv). It's so light and atmospheric.

The four "bonus" tracks are nearly better than the entire rest of the album. The instrumental work is simple and gorgeous and the vocals very distant and dream-like.

I'd like to say something cool like 2nd half > 1st half, but this album is sooooooo long it'll end up being 4th fourth > 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fourths or something. Long, but good. Rating...? 7.1/10

TL;DR: This album is good, so stop whining about it and listen.

[currently listening to: Black Dahlia - Porcupine Tree]

Posted by Anna at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2009

No More Stories...

MEW - NO MORE STORIES.jpg
No More Stories...
(EXACTLY HOW LONG IS THIS TITLE?!)
Mew

I know this was released over a month ago, screw that. I'm just getting around to talking about it now because right now I actually have time to waste writing terrible music reviews that nobody will actually read.

The first thing I'd like to call to attention about this album is not exactly music related, but the album art is flipping adorable. Really. Well, actually, I liked the cover for the EP that came out before this better, but it's basically the same thing so it doesn't matter. It's cute, yeah.

So... I first got into Mew because I heard they were touring with NIN (lol, if only you knew how many times I've said something like that). The first song I heard was Introducing Place Players, which is probably still one of my favourite songs of theirs. The first thing that stood out to me was the really interesting polyrhythmic intro which includes a cool-ass guitar and drum part. This slowly progresses and erupts into one of the most beautiful songs you'll ever hear. It's fairly upbeat and happy, like most of the album. The vocals also impressed me on my first time hearing this, mostly because I have a thing for guys who sing like girls, but also because Jonas is GOOD at what he does (: BTW, this song has an awesome music video filled with cute snails and levitating rocks and other things that make me squeel in joy.

The album opens up with New Terrain, a short-ish song which actually played backwards. Like the song that it leads into, Introducing Palace Players, it's upbeat and has an intriguing sound and somewhat noisy sound (it annoys my mum, lol).

Beach and Repeaterbeater continue the cheery mood before the album transitions into a softer section with its first Intermezzo and Silas the Magic Car. I'm not sure how exactly to describe the latter, you'll have to listen to it yourself, but it's definitely one of my favourite tracks on the album. I even named my new iPod touch, Silas, after it :D It's light and atmospheric, and the vocals are really unmatchable.

Cartoons and Macrame Wounds is also rather indescribable. It flows between different moods, from quiet and gentle to louder and more powerful, but overall is just a magical song. It progressively gets more and more "intense" (for lack of better word...) farther into its 7 minutes, 19 seconds, but still ends on a quiet note.

The next section of the album includes more brilliant songs that will make you appreciate the instrumental talents of this band as much as their vocals. Hawaii and Vaccine are outstanding, unmissable songs, but not exactly something you'd listen to when you're in the mood for Joy Division ;)

However, as amazing as the album is this far in, it doesn't impress me as much to the end. Tricks of the Trade is interesting, but Sometimes Life Isn't Easy and the rest of the album just doesn't move me. The ending is no where near as powerful as Comforting Sounds is. <-- Ignore this. "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy" is awesome, and "Reprise" might be a soft ending, but it's very lovely.

I'm not really one to "rate" albums, but I guess I'd give this one 156/10 (hahaha...). It's much different from Frengers, the first album of theirs I got, and the one most people are probably familiar with. Less rock, more pop maybe? Jonas said "I think that we combine pop music with something that’s much more experimental, in our own way. I don’t think I would even try and describe it. It’s difficult,". Experimental pop? Sounds good. I already have enough problems with genres, not to mention trying to pick one to describe this band.

Well, that's that. If I ever have time I'd like to write about Portugal. the Man's "The Satanic Satanist" and Modwheelmood's "Pearls to Pigs". I haven't heard Porcupine Tree's new album yet, and I'm looking forward to the one Radiohead is apparently going to record this winter! And oh, I'd review DREAM THEATER'S SHITTY NEW ALBUM, but I think all you need to know is that it sucks >:0

[currently listening to: Reprise - Mew]

Posted by Anna at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2009

Some Music Reviews

Yay, first entry of '09. I really have nothing to write about. I haven't ridden since October, and my life has been the definition of boring, so I decided I'd write about a few albums that have recently caught my attention, since I really have nothing else to talk about. My comments toward music usually don't go further than "OMG THIS IS SO DAMN AWESOME I THINK I COULD CRY!!" so we'll see how this goes.

The Ocean and the Sun
by the Sound of Animals Fighting

theoceanandthesun.jpg


If you've never heard of this band (which I assume most haven't) I highly suggest you should go check them out. They're a really cool experimental/rock-ish band, (though their music covers many genres, so don't let that description stop you). The band was formed by some of the members of Finch, Rx Bandits, Circa Survive and Chiodos. Each band member takes the name of an animals (The Lynx, The Nightingale, The Skunk, and The Walrus), and I must say, they are quite talented.

The Ocean and the Sun is their third album I think, and most people have credited it to be their best. I, personally, have only heard a few songs from their previous albums, so I can't really compare, but this album is definitely outstanding.

The thing that probably stands out to me the most is their excellent guitar work. This is especially evident in tracks such as "Cellophane" and the instrumental "Lude". Lots of complex rhythms. Layers and layers of awesome.

What I also find interesting is how some of their songs are just spoken poems, some are wild rock pieces, and others a combination of things you couldn't even name. So much variety makes this band endlessly interesting. There's bound to be at least one song you will find that satisfies your taste.

My favourite tracks from this album would probably "I, the Swan", which features some childrens' vocals, "Cellophane", which leads right into another favourite "The Heraldic Beak of the Manufacturer's Medallion". "Uzbekistan" is an echo-filled electronic track, which happened to be the first song I heard from TSOAF, and made me fall in love with them.

So basically, this album is just made of epic win. The songs are stunning, and the artwork is lovely. Definitely something you should check out. I'll try to add some links to songs later.


Annd..


Fear of a Blank Planet
by Porcupine Tree

fearofablankplanet.jpg


I started listening to Porcupine Tree (yes, funny name) late last year. There's a greater chance you've probably heard of them. They're a fairly popular English prog rock band. They pretty much caught me from the start. "Trains" or "Blackest Eyes" were probably the first songs I heard, but "Anesthetize" remains my favourite song to this day. Their lead singer Steven Wilson has a lovelllly voice.

Fear of a Blank Planet was the first album I bought, and is still my favourite even after listening to In Absentia and Deadwing. Well, I just got Deadwing today, and I'm still letting it soak in, but I don't know if can compete with FOABP... In Absentia maybe, but not FOABP. In Absentia had a few genius songs, but I found the rest of the album to be slightly uninteresting. FOABP was consistently awesome. Anways...

...Compared to the others, FOABP is a much heavier, and darker album. I wouldn't go as far to call it metal, but you can clearly see the difference if you listen to "Trains" (In Absentia) and "Way Out of Here" (FOABP). There are only six songs, but each of them are pretty long. Though I have my favourites (the title track "Fear of a Blank Planet", "Anesthetize", and "Way Out of Here") there's not a single weak song on here. I highly suggest you give this a listen if you are a rock fan of any sort. A lot of their songs have a Pink Floyd-y vibe to them, so if that interests you.... ;o)

Thanks for bearing with me... if you read :D

[currently listening to: I, The Swan - The Sound of Animals Fighting]

Posted by Anna at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)