Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Starbucks aside, this is, by far, the coolest thing ALK3 has done in the past five or six years. I admire their venture back into the realm of punk-infused satan-pop, but something about three men in their mid-30's trying to recreate the great music they wrote when they were in their 20's just doesn't sit right with me. I'll always have a soft spot for Alkaline Trio, though, and the likes of Godammit!, From Here to the Infirmary, and Good Mourning will never be stranger to my car's CD changer.
Also, the original version of "Web In Front" and the Archers of Loaf album it comes from, Icky Mettle, are more than worth checking out. Archers of Loaf are (or were) a tragically underrated band. And the video really couldn't be much better.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The idea behind the cover album is this: Gabriel covers indie giants, indie giants are so thrilled that the ex-Genesis frontman gave them the time of day that they instantly rush to their basement studios and bang out a Gabriel cover. Then all the Gabriel covers are released on a compilation album titled I’ll Scratch Yours…get it?
Albeit a bit conceited, the idea is somewhat interesting. It would have been refreshing to see an old-timer recognize the music of his kids’ generation, but Gabriel’s minimalist string and piano arrangements make him sound as out-of-touch as his age would indicate. He makes The Aracde Fire’s “My Body Is a Cage” sound like the score to a dramatic montage in a Lifetime movie.
One of the few exceptions, however, is Gabriel’s cover of Bon Iver’s “Flume.” He makes the seemingly untouchable song sound less like the realization of winter-borne melancholy and more like the triumph over it. The off-kilter piano and powerful vocals actually work for Justin Vernon’s rickety acoustic crooner.
But one right move in “Flume” doesn’t make Gabriel’s undertaking a success, and his cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit” makes it downright unforgivable. The guitar-driven The Bends closer is reduced to a piano warm-up exercise as Gabriel stretched his vocal capacity to its limit. With this insultingly miserable rendition of a landmark song, good luck getting Thom Yorke to agree to the Gabriel tribute album.
We all know these are great songs…I, for one, don’t care what Peter Gabriel and his string quartet has to say about them.
It's pretty clear when you listen to the Codeine Velvet Club's first album that they have a ton of potential. From start to finish the 11 song album manages to bring you into a 1950s nightclub (clad in feathers, lights and sparkles of course), mix surf music, big band, jazz, indie, and 60s rock in no more than 42 minutes. While at first glance you may be apprehensive due to their Evanescence-esque appearance, drug referencing title, and pretentious track names don't be deterred from sticking it out and listening to the album.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I can’t sleep when I think about the future I was born into,"
Why break what wasn't broken?
This is Yeasayer in their young and uncorrupt days.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Besnard Lakes’ music introduces you into a world of psychedelic and thrilling sounds. Their newest album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, has an epic sound that make you want to stand up and shake your hair to the music. The album initiates with a very atmospheric feel. The first song Like the Ocean, Like the Innocence lures you in with a soft synthesizer that slowly evolves into an electric and thrilling piece.
The whole album is an experience. Each song builds up well to the next one and each one is an original and captivating musical experiment with guitar solos, synthesizer effects and harmonious background vocals. The song Albatross integrates background vocals that resemble the beach boys harmonizing, but the instrumentation has an alternative feel. Overall the band has a very new sound, yet they are obviously influenced by older psychedelic masters like Pink Floyd. In their newest album, The Besnard Lakes have succeeded in creating dark, electrifying ambiance music that invades your entire body.
Recommended tracks: Land of Living Skies, Albatross, Glass Printer
World Sick by Broken Social Scene is the bands first single off of their new album Forgiveness Rock Record. Broken Social Scene is a Canadian art rock/indie “super group”. If you are unfamiliar with the Broken Social Scene, you are more than likely familiar with the band members side projects: Metric, Do Make Say Think, Stars, The Weakerthans, and many more.The single World Sick marks the end of the bands 5 year recording hiatus (due to tours and record contracts with their other projects.)
Monday, March 22, 2010
The Boston-based The Magnetic Fields are definitely on my radar. Headed by singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt, their newest album Realism, is a captivating and organic listening experience. Filled to the brim with strings (banjo, dobro, violin, and dulcimer to name a few), horns and “no-synths”, this album manages to transition from bitter and cynical at one moment, to innocent and wondrous at another.
Merritt has composed an album that is at many times sarcastic and hurt, but never lets it get entirely gloomy. The opening track You Must Be Out Of Your Mind, features the contrasting twang of a banjo with layered and post-sour romance vocals such as, “If you think you can leave the past behind, you must be out of your mind.” This frank and vaguely resentful feeling soon makes way for the track Interlude, sung with soft, child-like ruminations backed by a bell, string, and piano lullaby. Other, similarly fanciful tracks include The Dolls’ Tea Party and Painted Flower. Awaken from the dream to the honest and jovial We Are Having a Hootenanny, a blatantly silly but never-the-less enjoyable barnyard romp. It’s hard not to tap your foot along to similarly rambunctious and bizarre tracks including Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree and The Dada Polka.
Realism is like a raucous night out at the pub, followed by a whimsical waltz through a child’s fantasy world. Often sad, but never defeated, this collection of songs shows Merritt’s maturity as a musician and an individual. Each song’s tongue-in-cheek lyrical content, folksy arrangement, catchy melody, and refreshing lack of electronics, make this album a welcome addition to any indie/folk fan’s collection.
The Magnetic Fields kicked off their most recent tour in early February and will be touring the US and Europe until the end of March.
It isn’t very often that one finds a band with such a unique sound as that of Jaga Jazzist. Hailing from Norway, this nine-member strong ensemble, headed by brothers Martin and Lars Horntveth, is one of the most promising groups of the nu-jazz genre. Combining driving drums, jazzy brass accents, and distinctive synth-based melodies, their newest studio album One-Armed Bandit is a short and sweet eclectic treat.
Clocking in at under an hour, One-Armed Bandit’s tracks are grand in scope, ambitiously arranged, and never lackluster. The introductory track The Thing Introduces… is like a whirling time portal of brassy persistence and crashing drums. The subsequent songs can only be described as an odyssey of trippy, and sometimes intergalactic synthesizers partying with the garish “wonk” of trumpets, trombones, and tubas. Standout tracks include One-Armed Bandit, which reminds one of a jaunt through the crazy venues and vistas in Las Vegas, the epic and adventurous Toccata, and the 1970’s car chase in space, Prognissekongen.
Part sprawling science-fiction epic, part jazzy video game soundtrack, and an auditory adventure all the way through, One-Armed Bandit is one trip you can experience without the need of psychedelics.
Jaga Jazzist will be touring Europe in February and have no U.S. tour dates planned as of yet.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Vary Lumar is a four piece band from Boston. Their EP, Plasticolor Coma, features only four songs; yet each one is like an explosion of sound. In their music they integrate interesting beats with guitar riffs and synthesizer effects. Having a small resemblance to Radiohead's early music, Vary Lumar pushes the alternative rock genre towards pop. The song "Von Karman" is very interesting because it manages to mix a rock, punk feel with guitar strumming and synthesizers, yet it is balanced with very calm and sweet vocals. Another song to hear is "Small talk with big names" which extends a constant base hit towards unconventional beats. Vary Lumar is definitely a band to keep an eye for.
Monday, March 8, 2010
With the release of their third full album The Violent Blue, Electric President has shown their listeners that they have evolved from their original ‘bedroom pop’ sound and moved on into the studio. Although the band used to seem as if it lacked depth , having previously relying all too heavily on drum machines, this album marks a change. The Violent Blue successfully incorporates acoustic instruments, twangy Johnny Marr style electric guitar, strong percussion and synth to create a fuller sound. Although from beginning to end the album can’t help but remind you of bands you have heard before (The Postal Service, The Smiths, and Grizzly Bear), in my opinion Electric President manages to come out with their own sound.
“The Ocean Floor”, the albums first track, has a quiet ambiance that creates a comfortable world for the lyrics to exist within. Throughout the entirety of the song shining metal strings chime in and out, almost sounding the way sunlight would on the ocean floor. “Safe and Sound” is clearly the single on this album. It has all of the catchy percussion and syrupy vocals needed for you to be humming the tune for the next few hours.
While at times the in unison hand claps, Beach Boy like vocals, and tambourine throughout the album may to your 2010 ears seem a little cliché, I think in the case of The Violent Blue they really use these ‘indie’ conventions to their advantage. Overall this music is really relaxing, perfect for a lazy afternoon in bed, or a cold afternoon walk.
Solid Gold’s newest EP is the definition of chill. From beginning to end Synchronize beckons you to relax, a common thread within their 7 releases. Although you may not have heard of them Minneapolis based band Solid Gold has been gaining quite the following, having put out 4 recordings last year alone.
Synchronize is a short and sweet EP released by the bands very own Solid Gold Music. It opens up with “One in a Million”, a song which frankly is the least strong on the album. No matter how hard it seems to try and avoid sounding like one” One in a Million” sounds an awful lot like an old school top 40s ballad. But don’t worry, Solid Gold makes up for it immediately afterward with the title track “Synchronize”; a super relaxed and trippy song that almost makes you want to go outside and take a walk in this nippy weather.
Though “Sharpshooter” is easily the coolest song on the album. Right off the bat the slow old school beat grabbed me, reminding me of some sort noise an old computer game would make. The song as a whole is filed with minute changes, steady drumbeats and eerie background voices. Easily the coolest song on the EP.
On top of that the “Synchronize (White Sea Remix) at the end of the album is important to note as well, done by Morgan Kibby (White Sea) who gained fame through his band M83. Overall this Synchronize by Solid Gold is exactly that, Solid Gold.
Track Recommendations: 2,4,5
Friday, March 5, 2010
On the surface, Be Brave is just another document of an aimless 2000s garage band disguised as authentic 60s blues-rock. But once you get past the whiney pseudo-Dylan shrieks and the painfully common staticky, underwater sound, it’s apparent that The Strange Boys know at least a thing or two about what they’re doing.
Guitars, bass, drums, and harmonica all burst in together to start the album with “I See – FCC.” The vocal delivery might test your patience, but the swinging melody is undeniable as it shadows the prominent harmonica. A subtle background organ makes its mark on “Friday In Paris,” a clear indication that this band isn’t content playing unauthentic synth lines behind their old-time barroom chanters just like any other indie band. “Between Us” follows the same formula in a slower, more mellow manner. The superb cooperation between drum and bass and the guitar’s flawless way of waving dirty half-arpeggio chords in and out of the 6/8 signature make this song a standout track.
“You Can’t Only Love What You Want To” ends the album with an acoustic number full of (cleverly placed) wrong notes and subtle rhythm changes. The less favorable side of the vocals may be most abrasive here, but the song is well-structured and a perfect closer. The Strange Boys might have fallen into a gimmick, but they don’t rely on it.