April 16, 2017

Wildflower

I just listened to "Wildflower," the second full-length album by the Avalanches. "Wildflower" came out sometime last summer, but somehow it slipped under my radar until now. I discovered the Avalanches in 2012, and it feels I've been waiting forever for "Wildflower." I used to frequently search the web for any information about the long-awaited successor to "Since I Left You". I made due with short tracks and samples off the band's website. I guess that eventually my Avalanches fever wore off for a bit, but now it's back again!

Because I'm Me -- very reminiscent of "Since I Left You" (the title track).

Subways -- new favorite.

Posted by Anna at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2014

Top 5 Albums of 2014

This is only the second time I remembered to make one of these. Last time was probably 3009. Here are my top 5 albums of 2014, in descending order:

Syro - Aphex Twin
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Lighght - Kishi Bashi
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Reflections - MisterWives
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Blue - iamamiwhoami
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Weird Drift - Heterotic
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Posted by Anna at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2014

iamamiwhoami singles

The new iamamiwhoami single came out last night. I'm super excited for her new album. So far, the new stuff sounds a little less dark, but still great.

Hunting for Pearls


Fountain

Posted by Anna at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2014

CEO - Wonderland

I've been listening to CEO's new album "Wonderland" a lot lately. I can't help but hear some things in this album that remind me of other artists. I hear Passion Pit, Baths, M83, Animal Collective, and maybe even some jj. The last track is an especially good example, it sounds like something off of Passion Pit's "Gossamer":

I don't mean to say that CEO doesn't have his own sound. He certainly does, and I've enjoyed it since hearing "White Magic." "Wonderland" is a pretty creative and fun album. It borrows from the best elements of electropop artists and the like, but doesn't seem to find any constraints.

Posted by Anna at 01:00 AM | Comments (1)

January 29, 2014

Fun Samples

I just love Lemon Jelly for being able to make nice songs using the same few samples.

Posted by Anna at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2012

Stages of Listening to an Album

Stage 1: This is your first one or two listens of the album, in which you make your first impressions. This stage is important because in many cases, this is the way you will think of the album forever. Your first impressions can be affected by many (seemingly unrelated) factors: your listening environment, who/what shared the album with you, the time of year, your emotional state, the amount of attention you give to it, etc.

Stage 2: If the album really stood out to you in the first few listens, then you might enter this lovestruck stage. It is the period of time when you are not entirely familiar with the album, but you always want to listen to it. You are unable to recall how any particular song goes. You are just aware that the general flow or sound of the album was pleasant, and this makes you want to revisit it over and over again...

Stage 3: Unfortunately, your honeymoon period with the album will end. You will "get to know" the album—all its quirks, pauses, and highlights. You will be able to read it like a book while it is playing, remembering exactly how each part progresses. Sometimes, you might get a certain song stuck in your head, and you will even be able to put a name to it. The album does not become any less "good" at this stage, but its novelty wears off. The parts that first felt so magical and flawless are now less impressive, because you know exactly what to expect. You realize that the album will never sound as good to you as it did the first several times you heard it.

— — —

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In my personal experience, I only find a couple albums a year that I follow through all these stages. In each case, I overplay them to oblivion, until I reach that disappointing Stage 3. The most recent casualty has been The Avalanches' electronic classic, "Since I Left You," which still gets played by me at least once every other day. I've hit Stage 3 pretty hard with that one, which is regretful, but oh, well... there are other albums.

Posted by Anna at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2011

Another New Year, Another Disappointing Post

For some reason, the "Happy New Year" post is especially popular with v.iagra-selling spammers. This is getting really annoying so I think I'll post a new New Years-esque post and use it as an opportunity to namedrop some interesting bands/artists I've been listening to lately. I'm sorry about all review requests I did not fulfill and the lists I did not post. Somewhere in the future lies a day I will redeem my blog again, but it is not today, nor tomorrow.. —But back on topic, here we go:

Autechre
Bark Psychosis
Beirut
Boards of Canada
Baths (I saw him live a couple weeks ago!)
Avi Buffalo (also saw live, with the Antlers, a couple months ago)
Lily Allen
The Drums
Yuck

That's all for now.

Posted by Anna at 03:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2011

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Showbox SoDo

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor has simultaneously always been on my list of bands I would kill to see live and list of bands that I was convinced that I would never see live. I was obviously a bit late to jump on their bandwagon, like many bands of the sort. As much as I would love to have listened to post-rock in my youth, I was only eight or nine when GY!BE stopped touring and went on an indefinite hiatus. I only discovered their music a little over a year ago.

Yet last year, out of absolutely nowhere, this legendary group announced their reunion, of which was to be accompanied with touring throughout Europe and the US. I crossed my fingers for a Seattle show and when a string of tour dates was released in September, my wishes were granted. I’m pretty sure the show had sold out in under a week, further reminding me of how special of an experience this show was going to be. And sure enough, it surpassed all my expectations.

While I hope to never fall to the level of a vain and incomprehensible Sunn O))) fan when describing some incredible live show experience, I must say that this show definitely claims a name as one of the best that I’ve seen and it’s difficult to communicate after experiencing something like that. I connect with music on a very emotional level, especially when it comes to post-rock. My senses were, of course, flooded with the music—from the rushing energy gathering from the furiously approaching climax to the piercing notes of the violin, dropped so cautiously into the tense ambiance—but also the visual half—the nostalgic lighting was just enough to partially illuminate the faces surrounding me and cast the shadows of the musicians on stage onto the backdrop behind them, where film loops of lonely landscapes and sad birds were being played. Put simply, it was quite hypnotic. I, like most of those around me, just stood there captivated with eyes and ears open as dark, desolate atmospheres were constructed around us.

I was a bit surprised at the length of time for which they played. It’s a common known fact that GY!BE ‘songs’ are lengthy pieces, usually spanning upwards of 20 minutes, yet they played seven of them. I was thrilled that “Storm,” a rather upbeat and giant crescendo of a song, was their opener—such a great gathering of energy. And being most familiar with Yanqui U.X.O. and Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, I excitedly recognized “Sleep” and “rockets fall on Rocket Falls” within their first couple seconds. Out of the full tracklist, posted here, I can now only not recognize “Albanian.” Not sure where that comes from, or whether it’s even been officially released? I just wish I hadn’t gone to this show so sleep deprived, because after four or five hours of standing in one place, I was hit by a wavve of fatigue.

Regardless, months of patient waiting have been appropriately awarded and I’m certain that that anyone else who has the pleasure to be seeing this group play a show on this tour will feel the same. Embrace the apocalypse that GY!BE are playing for—it’s a beautifully lonely world.


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Photos by Monika Sapek

Posted by Anna at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2011

Top 20 Songs of 2010

Yeah, so at this rate the actual list of albums will be posted next summer.

1. Kolniður – Jónsi
2. The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – Arcade Fire
3. A Father’s Son - iLiKETRAiNS
4. Dance Yrself Clean – LCD Soundsystem
5. Celestica – Crystal Castles
6. Blue Blood – Foals
7. When The War Ends – Portugal. The Man
8. Horchata – Vampire Weekend
9. Lung Wine – Wild Dogs In Winter
10. Oliver Twist – Avey Tare
11. Sex Karma – of Montreal
12. My Chariot – The Depreciation Guild
13. Stare Like You’ll Stay – Circa Survive
14. You Know - jj
15. Mouthful of Diamonds – Phantogram
16. Girl I Love You – Massive Attack
17. Demons + Lakes – Ravenna Woods
18. Norway – Beach House
19. Rocket – Goldfrapp
20. Colouring of Pigeons – The Knife

Posted by Anna at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2010

Boris & Red Sparowes @ Neumos

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Helms Alee played as well. I mostly went to this show to see Red Sparowes (call me boring, whatever), but Boris headlining was also a plus. I'm not even obsessed with Red Sparowes or anything, but I've been wanting to go to a post-rock show for ages. Most all post-rock bands that filter through Seattle play at Neumos, where nearly every show is 21+. So... this Red Sparowes show is probably one of the few opportunities that will come up for me for a while to see some post-rock live.

I was fairly impressed by all three bands. I wasn't even expecting to like Helms Alee, as I heard their music online prior to the show and didn't enjoy it much, but apparently they sound much better live. Still, I was stroked to see Red Sparowes, and when they took the stage I was absolutely astonished. Up till that day, their latest album had never really 'clicked' with me, but hearing them play it live definitely changed something. They were just killer, but sadly only played a 45-minute set.

Boris. Boris was insane— but let me first say that I'm not actually familiar with their music all that much. I listened to Pink maybe once in 2k8 or something and enjoyed it, but I'm not well acquainted with anything beyond that. I feel like it's necessary to 'know' their music in order to fully appreciate their live show, but I was impressed regardless. I just wish I had stayed in the front longer (I was around 3rd row at the beginning) instead of going to the back in hope of actually getting to 'hear' their music. The acoustics blow in almost every corner of that venue and the insane volume at which Boris played at didn't really help. Better to stay in the front and have just have fun. I guess my only other complaint would be about the length of their setlist. One and a half hours? It would've been nice if Red Sparowes could have had 15 of those minutes (that's like one song I know w/e).


Helms Alee
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Red Sparowes <3 u

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Boris
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so dro)))ne
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Photos by Monika Sapek

P.S. Sorry for the lack of content this month. I'm currently working on a review of a lovely ambient album that will be posted soon and also have plans for other things too.

[currently listening to: You Make Me Like Charity - The Knife]

Posted by Anna at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2010

Panda Bear on All Songs Considered

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Yes, I want to join in the fun! If you don't already have it, here's a high quality rip of Panda Bear's new song, "Slow Motion", from the feature on NPR's All Songs Considered. His upcoming album, Tomboy, is out this fall. And I'm putting up "All We Are" - Dirty Projectors + Björk as well. Enjoy!


[Slow Motion]
[All We Are]

Posted by Anna at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2010

Overlooked Albums of 2009

It’s July… why are we posting Best Of lists? Well, last year being my first year tasting life as a music critic, I wasn’t all that great at keeping up with new releases and as 2010 began my list of “overlooked” albums began to accumulate. Now, over halfway through the year, I feel like I need to give some recognition to several remarkable albums that I missed last year. Many of these would probably replace other albums I put on my Favourite Albums of 2009 list, but that won’t be modified. It goes with Top 10 Songs of 2009, also posted recently.

So this list is basically what I’ve been sparingly working on since late May; something lengthy for not having posted much recently. But it’s also a goodbye for another month as I’m leaving for a camping trip to Yosemite this coming Thursday and upon my return will head off to journalism camp in central Washington. So… this will likely be the last entry for a period of time.


1. Ashes Grammar – A Sunny Day in Glasgow

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Ashes Grammar created a whole new sounds for “dream pop” that artists like Cocteau Twins never managed to introduce when the genre first emerged. It’s about as close as you’ll get to dreaming with your eyes open. While that doesn’t exactly set it up as an album to fall asleep to (careful for “Canalfish”), broken up into pieces, it works as the perfect soundtrack for a quiet moment during the day when you just want to, well… daydream…


2. S/T – Fever Ray

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I don’t know much about electronic music. I know that the term “electronic music” is very broad. I know to avoid anything that musically-un-oriented people call “techno”. I know that Deadmau5 sucks ass. But beyond that, the musical ocean encompassing all things electronic is dark and murky to me. I can’t even begin to name any of its currents. I can, however, tell you that the cold Scandinavian waters which Fever Ray originates from, though indefinable, are definitely worth exploring.

[When I Grow Up]


3. Hymn to the Immortal Wind – Mono

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I don’t understand any negativity surrounding this album. You Are There is just a tiny breeze compared to the Immortal Wind! No, but all stupid jokes aside, this is my favourite post-rock release of last year and favourite Mono release period. With Immortal Wind, the band took a more orchestral-oriented approach in their sound and it worked beautifully. We still hear the same loud guitars, but the dramatic soundscapes they create also have a delicate air enclosing them. The album continuously tests the boundaries of that thin surface, often enough breaking through the shell to give us a taste of that reckless post-rock chaos… Mono style, of course.

[Follow The Map]

…but please do listen to the entire album


4. jj n° 2– jj

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For some reason I associate jj with The xx quite often. It could be the fact that I saw the two bands play together live. Or maybe it’s the similarity in their minimalistic album covers. It could even be their collective membership to the Duo-Letter-Double-Syllable club. Most importantly, I think there’s a musical connection. In my mind, I see both groups as making very sweet, spacious music. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when trying to describe jj n° 2. It’s buoyant and lighthearted almost to the point of being childish. The not-quite-30-minute album is comprised of gentle, ambient soundscapes laden with flickering island sounds and jumpy percussion. It’s hard to take seriously, but it’s also hard to not give in. Whether its friendly nature has anything to do with the album cover is up for you to decide.


5. Service Bell EP – Years of Rice and Salt

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When looking at the more underground side of the post-rock scene, Years of Rice and Salt is one name which immediately comes to mind. Their debut Service Bell EP, 4 songs about a ship wreck, is a near-flawless release. It’s a very promising beginning for an emerging band as I know few others that could put together something so varied into a 30-minute EP and let it sound this effortless. There’s no trick of complexity, just the typical post-rock elements and some obvious ability.

[download entire album]


6. You Will Never Know Why – Sweet Trip

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Sometimes it’s necessary to view an artist’s works independently from each other as they are too varied to make reasonable comparisons. In the case of Sweet Trip, this statement stands accurate. The band’s well acclaimed sophomore release, Velocity : Design : Comfort, a dizzying mix of glitch and spacey dream pop could at best be a distant cousin of follow-up album, You Will Never Know Why, the only noticeable similarity being the vocals. In 6 years time since V : D : C’s release, the band shot out some of their innovation in exchange for a catchier, poppier sound. But with horn and synth embellished pop songs lasting into 5 and 6 minutes, You Will Never Know Why is anything but a conventional pop album; rather a stylistic twist on mixed influences.


7. What It Takes To Move Forward – Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)

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While it may come as a surprise, I do like emo a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t happen to know much about the genre so I haven’t dove into it too much yet. Empire! Empire! is therefore not a band I happened to randomly stumble upon, but rather one I heard about a lot. Their music is layered with those nice twinkly guitars, but they also have a unique vocalist. His soft voice, which always reminds of Anthony Green’s (minus Green's occasional whininess) fits in very naturally amongst the mixed guitar melodies. (I know the comparison seems like a stretch to many, but I guarantee you that there is a likeness). The album has a pleasant simplicity to it and is very easy to listen to.


8. Hospice – The Antlers

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There is some music meant to be listened to only in the early hours of the morning, during a silent and undisturbed night. Often, this is grounds for ambient and post-rock music that needs that space and silence to be fully felt and heard. While Hospice isn’t an entirely quiet album, it deserves that careful attention to be sincerely appreciated. The album’s secret lies in its dramatic atmosphere and delicacy. Its softer sections lie in wait to be contrasted with their outspoken counterparts. This intimate balance gives the music a chilly, but cozy feeling. The icy lyrics contrastingly shed all sense of innocence, forcing the listener into a naked corner completely lacking of any comfort.

[Two]


9. Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit – Snowing

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“WHYYYY CAN’T... SEE THE SUNSPOTS IN YOUR EYESSS?” …Yes, more unexpected emo. This is just a 13-minute demo, but it’s a very nice listen. I imagine that the vocals, nowhere as subtle as that of Empire! Empire!, are very hit-or-miss. I found that they appeal to me very much (and I like falsettos ;). But if “Important Things (Specter Magic)” just isn’t doing it for you, I guess you could just stare at the album artwork, which is almost as nice.

[download entire album]


10. Post-Nothing – Japandroids

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It’s difficult to find something to say about Post-Nothing as it basically speaks for itself. It is raw emotion picked up from a dirty street and sung against a thick wall of noise. It holds back nothing, waits for nothing, and regrets nothing. It understands before you even ask it to. It’s the most simple and honest rock album to exist and I want it to soak up all my feelings and memories so I play them back one summer evening in a rush of nostalgia.


[Young Hearts Spark Fire]
[Wet Hair]


11. Hush – Asobi Seksu

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Hush is in no way a flawless follow-up to 2006’s Citrus. The band’s sophomore effort was a cheery shoegazing triumph perhaps too curious to even be labeled. In many ways, it strode out further than Hush even dared. Hush is therefore set to perform within fairly tight confinements, but it finds a comfortable balance floating by on dream pop clouds instead of testing the limits of shoegaze. With whirling keyboard sounds, droopy guitar lines, and Yuki’s light soothing vocals, these are in no way not storm clouds, but identical white whisps scattered evenly over a pale sky.

[Transparence]
[Me & Mary]


12. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix

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While Phoenix cannot avoid being of Montreal clones on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, they are pretty damn good at it. What makes up Wolfgang is an assortment of quirky pop songs that could only be meant to be summertime jams. The highly energetic “Lisztomania” and “1901” are the obvious hits of the record and while it’s tempting to listen to them exclusively, the remainder of the album is short enough and inviting enough to allow an easy escape into more glorious pop.

[1901]


- - -


[currently listening to: Iamundernodisguise - School of Seven Bells]

Posted by Anna at 11:57 PM | Comments (1)

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)

May 16, 2010

Top 10 Songs of 2009

Recently, I realized that my “best of” list from 2009 was neither very complete nor accurate. So to wrap things up from last year a little more neatly, here are my top 10 songs from as of now:


1. Introducing Palace Players – Mew
2. Passionate introverts (dinosaurs) – A Sunny Day in Glasgow
3. Close Chorus – A Sunny Day in Glasgow
4. Boy Lilikoi – Jónsi (this counts, yes…?)
5. What Would I Want? Sky – Animal Collective
6. Seven – Fever Ray
7. Things Will Never Be the Same Again - jj
8. Summertime Clothes – Animal Collective
9. People Say – Portugal. The Man
10. Islands – The xx


A list of overlooked albums will be posted soon… (as in hopefully before next year ;)


[currently listening to: When The War Ends – Portugal. The Man]

Posted by Anna at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2010

The Antlers at Neumos

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I’m beginning to have doubts about the quality of shows at Neumos after seeing two flawless ones at The Showbox last month. It’s nice to be able to get close enough to the band to touch their feet (I don’t actually do this), but it’s definitely not worth it when you can’t hear shit; just the deafening thumps of overpowered bass. And of course, it gets worse and worse the closer you get to the stage. I guess I was also expecting the Antlers’ show to be kind of quiet-er. The sound didn’t work too hot for them here. Vocals were basically gone. Drowned beneath the LOUDNESS. Which is a real shame, since the singer has a pretty nice voice.


But from what I could make out, they played pretty well. I couldn’t see the drummer that well, but the dude on the keyboards was turning all sorts of knobs and tapping all these pedals through the entire show… I found myself watching his feet a lot.


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Those little plants on the set were the greatest things ever.
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[currently listening to: In The Attic – The Antlers]

Posted by Anna at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2010

last.fm removes track streaming

I feel like I've been neglecting posting anything lately and wow...! nothing for almost 2 weeks. That Go review I was promising is still in the works—well, yet to be begun actually—for whatever reason. I can’t think of a good excuse. Perhaps when I scramble all my thoughts together again, that will be posted, and soon I hope since I’m yet again behind on other things I would like to write about.

Sometime around last week, I think, some dramatic changes took place on last.fm. Primarily, the site has been stripped of all on-site track streaming and instead suggests redirecting the user to an alternative streaming service, all which claim to “scrobble” tracks like normal. Yes, this even happened to artists and labels who initially uploaded their music on their own to share with the last.fm community. No doubt, this instantly infuriated users who subscribe to last.fm, as the main service they pay for with their subscription is for on-site music streaming. I, personally, don’t subscribe since I live within the countries that are offered limited on-site streaming, but I would never even consider it now. What use is there in paying a company for a service when they only redirect you to an otherwise already free alternative site? Absolutely none, I think. It's only a complete waste of time and a selfish move on the part of those behind these changes. The last.fm “community” has been severely tampered with, and I don’t believe it will continue to exist in the same way as before. I used to be able to suggest and support last.fm for its convenience and excelling functionality in providing music for the online community, but now I can’t say that I will be able to speak for it as much.

["The artist feedback loop" from lastHQ]


[currently listening to: Mílanó - Sigur Rós]

Posted by Anna at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2010

The xx at the Showbox

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Last Monday, just two days after seeing Jónsi, I saw The xx play in Seattle! Same venue too! The Showbox is a bit infamous for its unreliable sound quality. It really varies with the headliner, but I have to say the sound really delivered at both shows I saw. The show was originally supposed to be at the Nightlight way up in Bellingham, but it got closed down or something, so it was moved to the Showbox. Whatever it takes to bring these guys to Seattle, I guess. (I’m not going to Sasquatch :( … )

I was actually expecting a larger crowd to flock The xx show, but having arrived after the doors were opened, we found that not too large of a crowd had accumulated. I grabbed a place in the first row, right on the rail for most of the show (which I had been unable to do at the Jónsi show, despite arriving over an hour prior to the doors opening), after buying a copy of jj’s jj n° 2 at the merch stand (!!!). It felt like a beginning to a perfect night, you know?

I should have suspected that a show from identity-secreting and media-eluding Swedes, jj, should not sound as promising as I longed for it to be. Maybe the very amusing matchup of two-letter, double-syllable band names was a premonition of something too good to be. Whatever it is, jj seem to take touring as a joke, I guess. It took a few tries for The xx to get them to accompany them on tour and it seems like jj still aren’t convinced. Their live show is pathetic and disgraceful to both themselves and The xx. It consists of their music being played from a laptop while singer Elin half-heartedly sings, no doubt drugged up, in between drinking from a plastic cup and having a conversation on stage with her fellow band member, Joakim, whose main role appears to be facing backwards holding his guitar and occasionally jumping off stage. Unprofessional doesn’t even begin to describe it. Unlike Nosaj Thing, the first opener, they don’t even put effort into pretending to play their music. It’s karoke on drugs or something. Seriously, how snotty do you have to be to commit such disrespect, to both the audience and the band bringing you on tour? You can tell from the way Oliver Sim, bassist and vocalist of The xx, thanked jj for opening for them that their insolence had hit him somewhere.

The xx on the other hand, played such a fantastic show, definitely compensating for jj’s less than sub-par performance. They played nearly every song from their debut album and also a cover (the only song I don’t remember being played was Crystalised, but I could easily be missing something; I was having too much fun to remember the setlist!). Romy and Oliver’s voices proved to be very strong live and the instrumentals matched that. Their spacious pop music doesn’t seem to have much room for variance, but they managed to stick in some interesting twists while still keeping it very recognizable. I enjoyed the show as a whole, but if I am to recount “favourite parts” they would be: 1. The resonating thump of Jamie’s drum machine thing during “Fantasy” (the live version of that song also drew my attention to what Oliver to was singing), and 2. Romy’s vocals during “Shelter”. Beautiful.

Here be photos!—mostly taken by Monika Sapek, but I also snapped a few:

Nosaj Thing
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jj
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The xx
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When was the last time I went to sleep before 11 on a school night?


[currently listening to: Basic Space – The xx]

Posted by Anna at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2010

Jónsi at the Showbox SoDo

By reading this blog entry, I’m going to very safely assume that you’re either reading about a concert of Jónsi’s for: A. the first time, or B. not the first time (maybe the millionth). Whichever it may be, I’m not going to waste too much of your time with words. What use is there in trying to describe something so indescribable? I can toss around words like “beautiful”, “otherworldly”, and “unbelievable”, but they won’t do much good. So I suppose that from this point you can either skip to the photos and videos below, or continue reading through my spurt of messy thoughts if you’d like; but do keep in mind that I’ve still got my head way up in the clouds.

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I remember when it was announced that 59 Productions was working with Jónsi on his tour, they said that no way would this just be Jónsi on stage with an acoustic guitar through the whole set. And from watching the show preview videos I knew that they were planning to produce something more than just a live show. It would be mindblowing. It turned out that the show did start out on a soft note, Jónsi at first unaccompanied by the band, and gradually grew to an immense climax as more instruments and more energy was introduced. But as soon as Jónsi stepped on stage alone, holding just his guitar, and let his haunting falsetto hit the air in “Stars in Still Water” ( “then did a shiver erupt amidst the crowd…”), I knew he didn’t need an expensive production to wow us. His voice is enough to drop the jaws of his audience and glaze their eyes over with tears.

That said, with all the added elements, the show rose to an even more seemingly unattainable level of awesome. The music was perfect and the production gorgeous. Everyone in the band played with incredible passion. And as the show rolled along so many things began to happen in the background it was hard to decide where to look and what to focus on. My mum and I both admit to tearing up during “Kolniður”. Musically, I can say it was the greatest part of the show, and if you add that to its gorgeous animation of the running wolf unwinding in the background, you’ve got a recipe for the most heartbreaking performance ever. The sky seemed to explode during that blowing crash in the middle of the song. Oh, just thinking about it…! “Animal Arithmetic”, during the encore, was also especially memorable. Jónsi came out in a headdress and danced like crazy. It was so fun! The energy kept flying till the very end of the show through the dizzying “Grow Till Tall”. But oh! This was “Grow Till Tall” like you’ve never seen it! The musical crescendo was complemented by a visual one as blinding lights and snowflakes swept off the stage and straight through your very heart till you were high with sorrow and euphoria. Really, if this wasn’t one of the greatest shows I will ever see in my life, then I’ve got a hell of a concert-going future ahead of me.

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cutest picture of all time ^^^


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^^^ I met him after the show. He signed my CD in Icelandic and shook my hand :) Needless to say, it was the greatest day of my life.



Now, I'm hurrying off to go see The xx at the Showbox very very soon (same place, 2 days later! I feel some nostalgia coming on!). Might expand on this a bit later.

These photos were featured on [jonsi.com]!

You can see them on my [flickr] as well. I think I'm going to start using that thing!


[currently listening to: Passionate introverts (dinosaurs) - ASDiG]

Posted by Anna at 07:00 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 09, 2010

Godspeed You! Black Emperor reunite

Hot damn, that's right! After 7 long years, the most post of post-rock bands are re-stringing their twangy violins and guitars in preparation for several live shows this winter. Tour dates in Europe and in 9 US towns. Maybe possibly some new material? Oh pleeeease!

You can read their entire message right here.

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Yeah, I did actually know about this yesterday, but was too lazy to right about it. But now I'm ready to share the Godspeed love on this blog. Time to listen to Lift Your Skinny Fists...


[currently listening to: Our Love Has Made Us Pariahs - Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)]

(definitely in the mood for listening to bands with long names containing obnoxiously placed punctuation. Oh and PS, I'll have that ODDSAC review up in a matter of hours.)

Posted by Anna at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2010

Happy Easter ;|

You have no idea how long I've wanted to do this.

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hehe


[currently listening to: The Light That Failed - Atlas Sound]

Posted by Anna at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2010

Jónsi limited edition signed print!

Well today I got my copy of Jónsi's new solo album, "Go", in the mail along with one of those... limited edition prints, which btw is SIGNED by Jónsi! ;) Behold, one of 500 beautiful copies!

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that is one awkward hand position


I'm using a scanned image of this print as artwork for the album on my Squeezebox and iTunes. Would you like to use this image as well? Take your choice from the sizes listed below:

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The album itself is gorgeous, what else is there to say? Well, more hopefully! I am writing a review for this album which I hope to post within a week (or two, I'm going to try not to screw this one up). I'm on spring break right now so I have plenty of time to post things. It's perfectly timed too since there's going to be plenty to write about. Next Saturday I'm seeing Jónsi and then The xx the following Monday! I'm also going to begin uploading some scans of my photo negatives (just when I thought I could call this a music blog).


[currently listening to: Lover of Mine - Beach House]

Posted by Anna at 11:47 PM | Comments (1)

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 30, 2010

New Circa Survive Song: "Imaginary Enemy"

Circa Survive just posted a new stream-able song, "Imaginary Enemy", on their website. When Circa first broke the news on their upcoming third studio album, we got to hear the first track from the album, "Get Out". I wasn't too impressed with that song, but "Imaginary Enemy" restores some of my hope in the album. Let's hope they've still got something better to show us though. Blue Sky Noise will be released April 20th, 2010.

stream "Imaginary Enemy" here

and let's not forget about the free streaming of Jónsi's Go available right here on NPR, or on Jónsi's myspace, depending on whether you are a cool British guy or not.


[currently listening to: Tornado - Jónsi]

Posted by Anna at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2010

Jónsi on NPR's "All Songs Considered"

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One of my very favourite people, Jónsi, was featured on this week's edition of "All Songs Considered" on NPR. This show contains a wonderful forty-five minute interview and a collection of songs chosen by Jónsi. From January's WNYC interview, we already know Jónsi grew up listening to a lot of Iron Maiden, but now he also reveals some other musical interests and influences, including Billie Holiday (who he enjoys singing along with), Alessandro Moreschi (whose music is sort of a background soundtrack in his life), and Django Reinhardt (a famous castrato singer). I wouldn't expect anything more eccentric. Host Bob Boilen also plays two songs ("Animal Arithmetic" and "Tornado") from Jónsi's upcoming solo album, Go. We get to hear Jónsi talk a bit about his early introductions to music, his process of recording, his thoughts on his own music, and many other interesting things. It's quite worth its entire 45 minutes, so go listen!

[download on this page]

You can also now stream "Go" in its entirety on the NPR website right here (until the album's release, April 6th).

[12 days till I see Jónsi live <3. Tomorrow I'm seeing a screening of Animal Collective's new visual album/movie ODDSAC. Should be fun.]


[currently listening to: Sinking Friendships - Jónsi]

Posted by Anna at 06:10 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 27, 2010

Suzanne Vega @ The Moore Theatre

Two days ago, my mum and I were lucky enough to be able to go see Suzanne Vega preform live at the Moore Theatre in Seattle.

Suzanne Vega is a well known singer-songwriter in folk-pop music. She was first recognized for her incredible songwriting talent (her songs are like poetry, no joke) in the late 80s and has released 8 studio albums over the years. Recently, however, she was dropped by her record label, who snatched up the rights to the original recordings of her songs and left her with nothing (like we didn't already know record labels were complete whores). And in response to this, Vega has started down a path that potentially could have looked like a half-assed way of saving her career, but instead came off as a rather bold move. On her own independent label, she's re-recording acoustic versions of her songs and releasing them on a series of themed albums, the first of which is called Love Songs. We got a signed copy of this album after the show!

I promised photos in my post yesterday and I'm done editing them, so here we go!

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the Moore from the outside, but here's the stage before the show:
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This is probably the best photo from the whole show. Everyone was seated and there was almost no one else taking photos, so I was hesitant in taking out my camera (flashy light!) so I didn't get that many shots, but this one is nice.
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Also, I was sitting in the very center which is a very fun angle to take photos from...
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In addition to her guitarist and bassist, Suzanne was also accompanied by 4 string players Andrew, Alina, Danah and Seth from the Seattle Rock Orchestra for part of the set.
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Signing albums after the show.
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Go see more photos taken by the Seattle PI's photographer Kam Martin.

[currently listening to: A Rook House for Bobby - iLiKETRAiNS]

Posted by Anna at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2010

Sisters! Brothers! Small Boats Of Fire Are Falling From The Sky!

I haven't posted anything but album reviews for a while, which I'm trying to get in the habit of doing more often (I'll be posting my review of Massive Attack's Heligoland soon), but right now I feel like some sort of interlude is necessary.

I've been messing with the website a lot lately. "Experimenting", I guess. A few weekends ago, I managed to edit the post layout to make it more "blog-like" (note: more compressed posts), which is quite an accomplishment for me, since I know shit about html. Yeah. A "nice job, mang" would be appreciated.

I also learned how to upload music files, which is pretty cool, because I've been doing all sort of piano and guitar covers lately that I'd like to upload. Here is a piano cover of Sigur Rós' "Fljótavík" I recorded today using my mum's skype headset (classy, I know). I also recorded and mixed a cover of The xx's "VCR". The quality of the recording itself was not so hot so I won't post it, but it's the knowledge of the recording process that counts. So yeah, expect lots of Sigur Rós covers coming up in the future.

In other news, I'm stroked for the upcoming Portugal. the Man album, American Ghetto, which comes out on March 2nd. Also, Circa Survive finally released news on their forthcoming album, Blue Sky Noise. I'm not at all impressed by "Get Out", the first single... and the fact that they're touring with Coheed & Cambria is disappointing, but I still have very high expectations for the album. (But even if it does end up sucking, the artwork is still amazing).

Oh, and guess who I'm seeing April 10th? Jónsi (: I'm also seeing Suzanne Vega next week and A Sunny Day in Glasgow in early March. And if you by any chance know how it's possible to age 6 years in 2 months, please let me know, because I want to see Caspian this April too.

[currently listening to: Antennas to Heaven - Godspeed You! Black Emperor]

Posted by Anna at 01:19 AM | 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)

January 21, 2010

Jónsi: radio debuts and live tracks

jonsi2.jpg

Last December, Jónsi of Sigur Ros released the song "Boy Lilikoi" off his upcoming solo album Go as a free download. This is old news to a lot of us, but if you happened to miss it, the song is still available for download on .

As if "Boy Lilikoi" wasn't teasing enough, "Go Do" made its radio debut a few days ago, and today, WNYC released a podcast featuring Jonsi playing a few songs from Go live in their soundcheck studio. I made individual copies of all four songs available for download below. Enjoy!

Go Do (acoustic)
Boy Lilikoi (acoustic)
Around Us (acoustic)
Go Do radio rip

"Around Us" is definitely my favourite song at the moment! I apologize for the abrupt endings though. I tried to keep as much of the song in while leaving out that guy's voice. He interrupted Jónsi too much.

Jónsi is releasing his solo album in March (not April... dunno what Mr. Schaefer is smoking :). He also revealed in an interview that he will be touring in the US this coming April and in Europe during May! It all seems so far away!

EDIT: lolsorry for accidentally deleting this entry for 10 minutes. How embarassing.

[currently listening to: Walking with his earphones - Frakkur]

Posted by Anna at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2009

Favourite Albums of 2009

Before I sat down to try and remember what my favourite albums of 2009 were, I realized that I really hadn't listened to that many albums released this year. I only really got very interested in music about two years ago and I've spent those two years listening to great things I had been missing. Most of what I listen to is either from the '90s or 2000s (whatever this decade is called), so I'm not too far out of it, but there's definitely things that have come out in the past year or two that I've missed simply by not focusing enough on the present. So I've decided to limit myself to ten favourites from this year (because I honestly didn't hear more than 15-20 albums from this year) and fifteen favourites I heard this year that were released prior to 2009.

Favourite Albums of 2009

10. Logos - Atlas Sound

atlas_sound-logos1.jpg

This is a questionable album to put in a top ten list... I mean, it's good, but not extraordinary or anything. There's a few standout tracks like Walkabout, Criminals, etc, but overall it's just a nice album to put on when I'm in the mood for something chill. Lots of nice intertwining guitar melodies, but I think I prefer Deerhunter's material more.

Hipster Level: Very High


9. The Fame Monster - Lady GaGa

the fame monster.jpgI don't usually have similar tastes in music with my friends — besides the occasional Cure or Sigur Rós listener — but I can always count on knowing plenty of people who love Lady GaGa. What can you say? "The Fame Monster" outdid "The Fame" and made Lady GaGa an even more successful pop star than she already was. So it may not be hxc enough for Bring Me the Horizon fans, but we all know they secretly listen to Bad Romance when no one's checking their "screamo" cred.


8. Tertia - Caspian

img_1_pr.jpgI've started listening to a lot of post-rock this year and this band has become one of my favourites in the genre (second only to GY!BE). Their music is interesting and actually goes somewhere, unlike so many Explosions in the Sky knockoff bands. "Tertia" is both an energetic and beautiful album, and really quite a good listen. I just love the way the first track quietly leads into the explosive second, and the whole thing picks up from there. Yet it still calms back down to gentler points like Concrescence, which is my favourite track.


7. Angel Falls ++ - This Is My Normal State

e4147b946860.jpgYou might remember me praising this EP when it was released in November. Since then, I've only had more time to appreciate its beauty. It's basically a really dreamy post-rock meets shoegaze album. So beautiful and ethereal... not to mention flawless. This band really has their stuff together, and the vocalist has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. I'm hoping to see another release from them in the near future (hopefully a full length studio album).


6. XX - The xx

xx.jpgThe release of the xx's debut album, "XX", has created a big stir, not only drawing attention for lovers of "indie british stuff", but from a variety of listeners in general. Their gentle guitar riffs almost draw back to an older post-punk sound, but they're obviously not a pop-y Joy Division or anything. With their drum machine and careful sampling, the xx have created a very simple, but unique pop sound for themselves that sounds almost too perfect at times... "Crystalised", if you will.


5. Riceboy Sleeps - Jónsi & Alex

riceboy.jpgTypically when I say I could "fall asleep" listening to something, it's more of a downgrading comment than a positive one, but when I say I could fall asleep to this album, I mean it in the most flattering way possible. This is one of the most peaceful albums I have ever heard. It was made entirely with just acoustic (string) instruments and vocals; no electronic stuff. I haven't made a big move into ambient music yet, but this, along with Alex's other project, Parachutes, is really pushing me in that direction.


4. Fall Be Kind EP - Animal Collective

Animal-Collective-Fall-Be-Kind-EP.jpgNow we really don't need to go over this whole thing again (not that I wouldn't like to)... BUT RLY ITS GUD.

WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!
WHAT WOULD I WANT? SKY!


3. No More Stories... - Mew

mew-no_more_stories.jpgI think the cover alone scores points for this album. I'm really in love with it. My original review of the music itself wasn't very insightful, but now, having had more time to absorb and appreciate it, I can honestly say it's (almost) a masterpiece. Perhaps too different to try and compare with their previous albums, but alone it stands as a good representation of a band that knows how to make their sound. There are elements of so many genres in here... all these creative twists. It takes more than a few listens for all of it to sink in, but in the end it's truly a lovely "experimental pop" record. (And might I add, Mew is stunning live).


2. The Satanic Satanist - Portugal. The Man

The_Satanic_Satanist-Portugal._The_Man_480.jpgIt seems like every rock band these days is oh so influenced by "classic rock" (which btw, is one of the dumbest musical tags I can think of) and most of the time said bands are some of the more boring lumps of snoozefest I've ever heard. But Portugal. The Man? They've got the influence, no doubt, but how did they get so interesting? So creative? So... good? Everything just flows together like honey on this album. Sweet, sticky pop goodness. My best memories of last summer are reminiscent of this record.


1. Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective

merriweather.jpgYeah, suck it up. I kind of bought this album out of desperation early this year when I failed to find "Strawberry Jam" in any record store I searched in (ironically enough, I see it all the time now). It's easily become one of my favourite albums since, and I suppose my favourite of the year. Besides the two or three "super catchy" songs, Merriweather is really an album album, meaning you have to listen to the whole thing to get it. And obviously some people don't. Sucks for them.


Favourite Albums Heard In, But Release Prior To, 2009

1. Frengers - Mew (2003)
2. Blonder Tongue Audio Baton - Swirlies (1993)
3. Relationship of Command - At The Drive-In (2000)
4. Yanqui U.X.O - Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2002)
5. Juturna - Circa Survive (2005)
6. On Letting Go - Circa Survive (2007)
7. Some Kind of Cadwallader - Algernon Cadwallader (2008)
8. Strawberry Jam - Animal Collective (2007)
9. Lover the Lord Has Left Us… - The Sound of Animals Fighting (2006)
10. The Destruction of Small Ideas - 65daysofstatic (2007)
11. Amnesiac - Radiohead (2001)
12. Loveless - My Bloody Valentine (1991)
13. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - of Montreal (2007)
14. Skeletal Lamping - of Montreal (2008)
15. Cell Scape - Melt-Banana (2003)


I probably should have posted this earlier this month instead of at the very end of the year. Oh well. I have a lot of music to listen to that I got for christmas. And in addition to that, I'll add a few albums released this year that I heard were good to the "listen to" list, such as "Post-Nothing" - Japandroids, "What Happened?" - Emeralds, "And So I Watch You From Afar" - And So I Watch You From Afar, "Love Comes Close" - Cold Cave, and maybe even that Grizzly Bear album. Yeah. Hope you enjoyed the list.

[currently listening to: Sounds of Sebring - Swirlies]

Posted by Anna at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2009

boy lilikoi

Old news, but in case you haven't already heard, Jónsi of Sigur Rós is releasing an new solo album in March and you can download one of the songs right here on his website :) It's one of the lovliest things I've heard all year.

I'm looking forward to hearing the whole album next spring, but for now I'm extremely excited to see Mew at Neumo's this Thursday... just two days away. First show I will have seen in six months.

[currently listening to: Boy Lilikoi - Jónsi] (of course!)

Posted by Anna at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2009

Angel Falls ++

In these last few hours of November I'd like to draw attention to a beautiful debut EP released last month by This Is My Normal State. I don't normally do this, mainly because I don't have enough time, but these three songs really impressed me. They're a beautiful combination of post-rock and dream pop accompanied by unmistakably some of the most stunning vocals I have ever heard. Honestly, this left me speechless on my first listen (and continues to amaze me), so I encourage you to download!

[currently listening to: Monster - Lady Gaga]

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

May 02, 2009

I Want To Eat Your Artichoke Heart

(Someone needs to guess the song references in the title....)

Hah, I just realized I completely forgot of writing something last month. It's kind of silly, but I like having an entry at least once a month so my archives have all the months... but instead it goes straight from March to May. Damn.

Anyways, things have been really nice lately. I honestly couldn't ask for more at the moment... But that's all I'm saying on that matter :)

I think I'm going to just randomly spurt out a bunch of thoughts, so here we go.

Depeche Mode's new album "SoundsoftheUniverse"
Sounds of the Universe.jpg

Screw Rolling Stone. This was an amazing album. From beginning to end. Maybe it doesn't beat "Violator", but no ones expects DM to ever create another album that does.
My favourite songs would probably be "In Chains", an awesome album opener, "Wrong", their first single from the album, "Fragile Tension", "In Sympathy", a revisit to their classic sound, "Miles Away / The Truth", and "Jezebel".
They definitely entered some new territory in this album, very evident in tracks like "Spacewalker", "Perfect", and "Jezebel". I've heard plenty of "blahblah they've totally lost their edge" / "a real bore" but I really don't see this the same way. Listen to the album again. It definitely grew on me after the second listen. If you haven't already, at least listen to "Wrong". It's a pretty dark tune, and has an equally creepy video.

And... moving along to Tori Amos. As repulsive as the cover art is (well... not as "repulsive" as American Doll Posse, but it's giving me some serious Beekeeper vibes...), I'm really looking forward to the new album. I loved the free download of "Maybe California". Quite simple and sweet, and even better than "Welcome to England" in my opinion. She's playing WaMu Theater, Seattle this July. Waiting for tickets to go on sale...!

And speaking of concerts, I'm seeing Porcupine Tree this September :D I'm so excited for all these concerts! (Despite not getting to see nin again......)

I just finished reading "Feed" today. It's a really interesting story... sad ending though... And I'm still "The Shining". It's really retarded how I can't finish it. It's just not keeping me captivated like his other books for some reason. It seriously took HALF THE BOOK for something to happen. I haven't seen the movie before, so I still have hope that the ending won't be disappointing. I'm also going to reread "Rosemary's Baby", The Foundation Series, and I'd like to start another one of Sherman Alexie's books (WHY?! I don't know. Thanks, Flahiff -_-)...

I'm learning some new stuff on guitar. Lots more bending (which I need to work on..) and other fun things in lead parts. Right now I'm working on "Another Brick in the Wall" (Floyd, duh), "Something" (the Beatles), and "Angie" (the Rolling Stones.. LOVE THAT SONG). I'd record something, but it would be lame cause I can't play very well. I'll definitely record me playing "Winter" by Tori Amos on the piano when I get the chance. It's so damn pretty. I'm trying to learn "Horses" too, but I never get enough time on the piano. I NEED MY OWN KEYBOARD...

Annnnnnd, the other week, my mum and I went to Skagit Valley. I took a bunch of photos (on her NICE Nikon D200), but those will be coming sometime next month next week soon.... ;)

It just rained, but all the flowers are blooming and the trees are all full of leaves, . So, I think I'm going to get off my ass, stop writing all this, and do something with my life. BAI.

[currently listening to: If It Is the Deep Sea, I Can See You There - Melt-Banana]

Posted by Anna at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2009

NIN/JA EP Download

Yay for more free music! I already downloaded the Live With Teeth Rehearsal tracks earlier today, but now I get a free EP featuring unreleased NIN, Jane's Addiction, and Sweet Sweeper (yeah, who are they...?) tracks! Wow! Okay, I'll admit when I first saw the words "FREE NIN/JA EP" I thought they had actually recorded something together, but I guess not haha... Don't get me wrong though, this shit's awesome! This studio version of "Non-Entity" (NIN) and "Whores" (JA) are great songs.

But enough of this talking, go download!

[currently listening to: Banshee Beat - Animal Collective]

Posted by Anna at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2009

A Little Mental Yoga

Okay, so I realize it's been a while. I actually can't even remember what I last wrote about (probably something uninteresting)... Oh, right... Sasquatch. Well, I have better news this time! I may not be going to see NIN/JA, of Montreal, and AC, but this June I will see Alessandro Cortini's band Modwheelmood (he's from NIN)!

mwm.jpg
That's my sexy guitar in the background ;D

He's also got another side project called blindoldfreak. The first album "1" was really nice, definitely worth checking out!

But moving on from music... This weekend, I did a sketch of Rob Sheridan's "Broken Robot Girl" photograph. He's just about my favourite artist and I love robots (so does he!!!) so I really couldn't resist. If I'm violating some copyright that prevents me from reproducing this in any way... Sorry, I'm just a big fan of your work ;D And I can't wait to see the next photos in the series. Anyways, here it is:

robotgirlforblog.jpg

I know I don't have the face right at all, but it was really fun to draw.

Aside from that stuff... things have still been pretty chaotic... Some mixed up feelings about things which I will not go into detail about. Bleh... A teenage life ;)

[currently listening to: Purple People (Christmas in Space) - Tori Amos]

Posted by Anna at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2009

I Am Not Going ...

... To the Sasquatch Music Festival. Where NIN + Jane's Addiction will be playing their (last ever?) WA show on this last (EVER?) tour? Apparently it's too far. Hell, if I could drive ... I seriously hope they come to Seattle for another show after Sasquatch, or I will have a mental breakdown ... Okay! I need to stop.

Did I mention of Montreal and Animal Collective are playing too? Well, Animal Collective isn't on the same day, but they're still pretty awesome. Started listening to them ... around December? First Feels, (which is a really great first album by the way), and I just got Strawberry Jam the other day. "For Reverend Green" is just about my favourite song at the moment! Sorry, if you didn't care, but I needed to let that out there. I'd love to see them live too.

And Depeche Mode is going on tour too. Agh, I should just make a list of bands I need to see and eventually, (maybe), I'll complete it.

Yeah, that's basically all I think about, throughout my crazy days (they've been quite wild lately). Haha, I think this entire post was to get things off my mind ...

By the way, check out Rob's mad concert footage. That's one BA camera:

Burn

1,000,000

[currently listening to: Heysátan - Sigur Rós]
(Yeah, I'm so bored, I actually put in the time and effort to add the accents).

Posted by Anna at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2008

"Curtain Call"

Taken from nin.com:

"File this one under lost opportunities.

I'm very proud of the show we've put together for this tour and have been working hard the last few months to find a way to capture it. I had an amazing situation lined up that would have allowed me to film the show in 3D with James Cameron's team for a theatrical release as well as DVD / BluRay, etc. We had an extra date added to the tour that we were going to give away all the tickets for and have a filming party / thank you show.
I made two critical mistakes. One was to approach a certain record company that owns some of the song rights about producing / funding. The second was to allow said company to fuck around as usual for months before saying um... no. We then achieved the impossible by finding alternate production / funding but the timetable is too rushed to get it filmed comfortably with the remaining time left on the tour. This tour and a lot of the personnel involved finish at the end of this leg, so we can't push filming into Jan / Feb.
Deep breath...
This was an amazing tour and production - certainly the best thing I've ever been involved with and likely the final tour for NIN on this scale. Thank you to those who came out to see it and forgive me for having a Kanye West moment, but this was FOR SURE the best show of the year and any bullshit end-of-the-year poll you may read in the next few weeks that says otherwise simply has it wrong. Those of you who saw it know I'm right.
The shows we have announced in 2009 and any more that may be announced will be a completely different approach with some different personnel and will likely be the last for the foreseeable future.
** UPDATE **
The venue for Friday night's performance in Victoria will have a very relaxed camera / camcorder policy... hmmn... "
EDIT** UPDATE SUNDAY Dec 7**
The relaxed camera / camcorder policy continues for Portland. Bring and shoot what you want and share what you get. Please understand local security has been made aware of this policy change but I cannot assure you every single one of them will be cool about it. Change can be hard for some.

I am now very concerned. Especially regarding the last paragraph...
Does this mean no more NIN? Or just no touring? Either way, I think I'm going to go cry in a corner...
DVD's a shame too.. I was looking forward to that =[

EDIT: I love how the concert he's talking about now is the other one I wanted to attend. Portland. Three hours away. @%$(@&#%*!!!!!!!!

EDIT AGAIN: And everyone's teaming up for creating this awesome fan video at the Vegas show this Friday. It's amazing how well organized it is.
And I'm still somewhat unsure about NIN releasing a video. It seemed like they already had a lot of filming done in the teaser. A little suspicious....
Anyways, I'm going to school. Yes, this is all I think about all day... :)

[currently listening to: Piggy - NIN]

Posted by Anna at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2008

Progress!

A few new piano videos, because there's nothing else to "blog about".

Vidar Vel Til Loftarasa - Sigur Ros. I'm still working on it... obviously ;o)


Hurt - NIN (piano cover). An octave high, but I think it sounds even prettier that way.


Gone, Still - NIN

Posted by Anna at 06:33 PM | Comments (1)

August 16, 2008

Horribly Misguided Attempts at Playing Music

Well I'm obviously very talented ;D

The Frail - NIN:


Harry Potter:


Untitled 1 (Vaka) - Sigur Rós:


1 Ghosts I - NIN


And here are the long awaited videos from the NIN concert!


19 Ghosts III and Piggy: Features Trent on the tambourine ;D


25 Ghosts III:


1 Ghosts I: Sorry about all the noise at the beginning. The crowd quiets down. I promise.


Concert photos right here. Forgive me for not posting any other NIN videos. My camera really couldn't withstand the volume of anything more intense than Ghosts or Piggy.

Look forward to more intense videos right here, at this extremely popular website!


[currently listening to: mechanical animals - marilyn manson]

Posted by Anna at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2008

Lights in the Sky

For those not aware, NIИ is currently on their Lights in the Sky Over North America tour, and making their stops throughout the US and Canada. Tomorrow night marks the 5th performance of the tour. Just a few days ago [July 26th], the first "official" day of the tour, they stopped in Seattle, and I got to see the most amazing band ever preform live! :o)

IMG_7908.final.jpg

Set-list:
999,999
1,000,000 [!]
Letting You
Discipline [!]
March Of The Pigs [!]
Head Down
The Frail
Closer [!]
Gave Up [!]
The Warning
The Great Destroyer
Ghosts 1 [!]
Ghosts 25
Ghosts 19
Piggy [!]
The Greater Good
Pinion
Wish [!]
Terrible Lie [!]
Survivalism [!]
The Big Come Down
Ghosts 31
Only [!]
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole [!]
Echoplex [!]
The Beginning of the End
The Good Soldier
Hurt [!!!!]
In This Twilight


We got there a bit late, so we missed most of Crystal Castles' performance. And frankly I'm not too upset about that... I do admit to liking two of their songs [Crimewave and Alice Practice], but they kind of scare me.

Anyways, NIN was AMAZING. They played lot of my favourite songs [and I have to say, Year Zero is now finally starting to grow on me] and the light show was spectacular. Apart from there being some idiots in the audience, it was an awesome night.

Since I'm very talented, I took my camera in with me and got some kickass pictures....

Robin, Josh, and that nine inch nails guy..... whatshisface... oh, right, Trent ;o)
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Alessandro, Trent, half of Robin, and you can even sort of see Justin [far left].
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Justin, Alessandro, Trent and Robin.
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Straight from the crowd.
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He lost an arm. Poor guy.
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Why does Justin always stare up at the sky?
IMG_7969.final.jpg


Nevermind.
IMG_7970.final.jpg


Terrible Lie, I think...?
IMG_7974.final.jpg


Trent showing off his awesome guitar skillz.
IMG_7976.final.jpg

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Survivalism, with a live 'music-video-like' visuals. We got to see a lady pee, people walking around, and creepy closeups of Trent screaming. Yay.
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IMG_8001.final.jpg

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Love the lighting.
IMG_8015.final.jpg


I guess they decided it's cool to hide from the audience behind a screen for half the show.
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Pink.
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Head Like A Hole, or The Hand That Feeds or something weird like that.
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Pink again...?
IMG_8029.final.jpg


Bow down before the one you serve....
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Echoplex.
IMG_8041.final.jpg


That ends my album of amazing pictures. Please contact me at amazingphotography@anna.sapek.com to purchase full size prints of any of the above shown images..

..[not]

Oh, by the way, I'm renaming the site as "Pretty Hate Machine". Stay tuned to watch me screw up my website again!

[currently listening to: Man That Your Fear - Marilyn Manson]

Posted by Anna at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2008

My Great NIN Obsession

If anyone actually knew something about me, they'd know I'm a complete NIN freak. (Nine Inch Nails, to the clueless people). After downloading The Slip and Ghosts (two albums which Trent Reznor generously gave to the world for free) last week, my NIN obsession has been completely taking over me.

I'm now sitting here waiting for 10 am to go buy tickets to a concert. That's how obsessed I am... Just thought I'd share.

Posted by Anna at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)