Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
These days, good bands are deviating more and more towards the “indie sound”. Ten years ago this was extremely interesting and original, yet today every indie band sounds the same. It’s reached such a point of over saturation that now bands are just boring to listen to. Sadly this is what I felt while listening to Idlewild’s new album, Post Electric Blues. I’ve heard and liked many of Idlewild’s old songs, which have a distinctive quirkiness and sweetness to them. Yet this album is filled with typical rock songs that are honestly quite boring. All of the songs give out an initial feeling of excitement but then they all die out into predictable melodies. They have no real fire to them because they are completely formulaic. Even the drum beats are the standard beat of every rock song you’ve already heard. Overall the album is like the song, “To be forgotten”. After hearing the entire album I felt indifferent towards what I heard and couldn’t even remember an individual song that stood out. Nevertheless if you are still really into the indie sound, the songs “Take me back in time” and “Readers & Writers” are pretty good. Post Electric Blues is not a bad album, but we all need to hear something new.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Pine/ Cross Dover. More like Pine/ Cross Dresser.
Masters of Reality’s latest album seems a bit confused, but don’t worry- the good parts are oooooh sooooo good.
The band (a.k.a. Chris Gross and a slue of musicians constantly being replaced) has been experimenting not only with different styles, but with different musical genres all together since it was formed in the ‘80s. In the beginning, Masters of Reality was likened to Kyuss and the whole “desert rock” scene. This sound comes through loud and clear (well, slightly distorted I suppose) on a number of tracks on the new record, like Kind Richard TLH, Absinthe Jim and Me, Always, and Up In It.
Beyond the handful of songs that can be clumped together in the desert rock category, the rest of the album is pretty sporadic. You’ve got your ambient noise -Johnny’s Dream, your fuzzy blues -Rosie’s Presence, and even a good ol’ funky jam session -Alfalfa. However, the entire album is tied together with the overarching distorted drone. Even when things get a little more upbeat, there’s still that fuzz going on in the background.
Ahh, sweet, sweet fuzz.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
This past Sunday, Deerhoof performed a live show at the Paramount Theatre, hosted by Arts Emerson. After patiently waiting in the seats while the opening bands played, the crowd finally stood up in excitement as Deerhoof began their set. They started right away with a blast of sound that filled the room with energy. Their heavy amplified guitars and hectic drum beats made everyone’s heart pump franticly. With hard riffs and dynamic melody changes, their sound is simply unpredictable. During the entire show there was never a warning of what was to come, the band would pass from relatively soft melodies to explosions of sound. They had an amazing stage presence, which at times way extremely playful. During some songs they would break out into little dance choreographies that made the crowd go wild.
Each of the members seemed to be as eccentric as their music. The singer, Satomi Matsuzaki was one of the main highlights of the show. With her miniature size, she was constantly jumping to the music with the excitement of a cheerleader. It is hard to say whether she was singing in English or Japanese yet her nonsense lyrics and incomprehensible words are a vital to the originality of the band. In their popular song, “Panda, Panda, Panda” the only understandable words are “Panda” and “China”. The other members of the band are just as charismatic as Matsuzaki. During the show someone screamed to guitarist Ed Rodriguez that they liked his shoes. He responded by giving the crowd a small tap dance. In between songs, the drummer Greg Saunier gave little nonsense speeches, which felt like witnessing a tea party with the Mad Hatter. Overall the experience of listening to Deerhoof live was as intense as Wonderland.
Before playing the first track of Sufjan Stevens’ new album, The Age of Adz, I was expecting a beautiful set of songs to reflect on nothing and everything at the same time. Yet when I played the first track, “Futile Devices”, I was surprised with what seemed to be a soundtrack for an intergalactic war. The song exploded with electronic sounds that bore no resemblance to Sufjan’s traditional soft melodies.
This album is definitely not one of his best. The songs are too electronic and synthesized. In many of the songs, his voice sounds extremely engineered, with an exaggerated reverb that only makes him sound robot-like. The vocals constantly clash with the beats; they don't compliment the music at all.
In my opinion, Sufjan is at his best with simply acoustic instruments and his voice. The electronica sound is not his forte. Non-the less, Sufjan is still an amazing musician and his album definitely has some great tracks. “Get Real, Get Right” is alive with electric violins that fill up the song. One of the tracks I enjoyed the most was “Vesuvius”, which starts with a basic piano melody, but then gets as electronic as the other tracks. I appreciate Sufjan’s effort to experiment with this album, but he should definitely throw out the synthesizer and go back to the banjo.
I only had enough money bills to pay for their six song EP "The Gleam." I stuck with that recording as my A-Bro's fix for years.
My buddy Mars, a fellow music staffer, came back from this summer blasting a random assortment of their songs.. hearing them was like taking a long drag of an overdue cigarette, or taking a sip of an ice cold beer after a overworked day, except, listening to them doesn't imply that you "have a problem."
I have a point! And here it is: A cold beer and a cigarette are best when enjoyed outside, on a porch, in the sun. Same with the Avett Brothers. BUT if ya can't hold on to Summer forever (I'm WORKING ON IT) then get their live recordings. This one. It has "Colorshow", "Talk On Indolence", and "When I Drink", backed with a chorus of screaming folkies. It has unrestrained energy. It's swell.
Want a DIY Summer recipe? Grab a space heater, fan, and this record. Put them all on in the living room. Grab yourself a beer, and offer one to your roommate. That way, they can stop saying "you have a problem." (Mars I'm looking at you.)
p.s not a fan of calling them the "A-bros"? ...I knew it.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Dirty Projectors is a six-piece collaboration from Brooklyn, New York. Their new album, Bitte Orca is packed with exhilarating songs that urge you to move. Each song has a completely different feel. Yet they all integrate the upbeat synthesizer sounds that are so characteristic of the band and the beautiful voices of each of the girl members.
Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle have an ability of reaching insanely high-pitched notes. Together they create a harmonization that sounds like a hardcore a’capella choral. Their sound gets most interesting when they are “Hocketing”: as they syncopate their voices while harmonizing at the same time. This innovative technique is predominant in the songs “Cannibal Resource” and “No Intention”. Both of these songs, as most of their compositions, are led by Dave Longstreth and accompanied by the female vocalists. Yet some of the best pieces are those sung individually by the girls. The song “Two Doves” is the most beautiful in the album. As her name proves, Angel Deradoorian, truly has the voice of an angel. Her voice is so soft and sweet, that it reaches the heart. This is the most laid back track in the entire album. The rest of songs are electric and fast. “Bitte Bitte Orca” is a perfect introduction track to the album. It has uncanny violin sounds that mix up with guitar riffs and ambient sounds. It is representative of the exhilaratingly electric sounds that compose this great band.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
With Staples album You Are Not Alone the dialogue between the past and present is beyond clear. While Mavis’ beautifully bass-y classic voice is still intact in her 70th year, I found myself less than convinced that the clean and modern production value was compatible to her soulful sound (brought to you by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy). This can be heard pretty clearly in “I Belong To The Band”, where although the song has ties back to the 1970s, the gospel style hand claps sound so compressed I’d make the mistake of thinking they were canned sounds and not made by people at all. (That is not to say that I don’t absolutely love this song).
Despite the unmistakable quality in tracks like “To Christ There Is No East Or West”, they never penetrate my taste due to the overwhelming presence of Jesus. Despite my love for gospel, I’m in it for the music… not the religion.
“Creep Along Moses” is the strongest track on the album. It is the perfect dichotomy of catchy and religious… a balance I’ve rarely heard struck. The drums mimic a train chugging along, and the guitar twangs sparingly above with gospel singers ‘creepn along’.
Tracks: Don’t Knock, You Are Not Alone, Creep Along Moses, I Belong To The Band, Last Train, Too Close/On My Way To Heaven
Monday, October 4, 2010
The Black Angels are at it again! With two AWESOME albums already under their belt, the band has released a third, Phosphene Dream. Black Angels are any music lovers’ dream. With each new album you can hear the band growing together, getting tighter and tighter, and playing around with different sounds while still retaining the dark, droning, psychedelic sound that is Black Angels.
Phosphene Dream has a slightly lighter feel to it than the previous two albums, perhaps because Jennifer Raines, who played the “drone machine,” is no longer in the band (this happened before they recorded). The drone machine is still used occasionally -word on the virtual street has it- by the band’s guitarist Christian Bland.
This switch gives the album a slight bluesy quality, which creeps in with the bass line on the second track, “Haunting at 1300 McKinley,” and continues throughout most the album. It’s not a prominent theme changing the band’s overall tone, but rather it’s a nice additive.
“Bad Vibrations,” the first song on the CD, has the classic Black Angels sound. But if you want to get a taste of the newer stuff, delve deeper and check out “Yellow Elevator #2” and “Sunday Afternoon.” Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, try “Telephone.”
Phosphene Dream is a great album. I’ve been listening to it on repeat and keep finding more fun little rhythms and melodies tucked away in the band’s many layers of sound. The Black Angels have yet to let me down and I can’t wait to hear more!
The Black Angels will be playing a show at the Paradise on November 2 with Black Mountain.
(Black Mountain recently released their new album, Wilderness Heart. If you want to check it out, try “Rollercoaster,” “The Way To Gone,” and “Wilderness Heart.”)
Sunday, October 3, 2010
In the film score for Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, the composer Yann Tiersen captured the essence of Paris through beautiful music. With breathtaking melodies that were simple and undeniably French sounding, Tiersen had a vital role in creating the magical world of Amélie. In his newly released album, Dust Lane, Tiersen takes his talents to a different level. Each song has a minimalist feel, sounding much like geniuses like Phillip Glass and Michael Nyman. Yet Tiersen’s music is much more experimental and orchestral. He takes minimalist piano themes into another world. In his pieces, he includes a huge variety of instruments that range from accordion, violin, banjo, melodica and even unconventional objects to make rhythms such as a typewriter.
The direction of each song changes drastically as each second goes by. The piece “Ashes” is ominous and dark. It has a section with creepy violins and very low strings, which then transforms into a beautiful melodic section. “Dark Stuff” goes from a dark accordion to a peaking almost religious chant, which changes into a beautiful and simple piano melody. In this album, Tiersen also collaborates with several featured singers. “Fuck Me” is one of the only songs that has an organized lyric structure. The title of the song is truly deceiving because it is light enough to fall asleep to. The female voice is incredibly sweet and soft.
The fight between what is beautiful and sinister is a characteristic of Yann Tiersen’s music. His work constantly struggles between perfect melodies and dissonant sounds. In addition, the blend between classical instrumental piano solos and unconventional instruments is what makes his music so interesting and powerful. Tiersen’s music transports classical themes into modern and mysterious pieces.
Nick Cave is a man of many talents. Musician, songwriter, author, and most recently, leader of the rock band Grinderman. With the second Grinderman release, aptly named 'Grinderman 2', Cave continues to show off his impressive range of musical talent.
The album opens with the rocking ‘Mickey Mouse and The Goodbye Man’, a classic Cave-esque song in which he yelps and howls about vampires and wolves. The track is also filled with loud, distorted and swirly-sounding guitars. The following track, “Worm Tamer”, continues the pattern of rocking and hooky tracks that additionally have extremely sinister and creepy lyrics. Another standout is single, “Heathen Child”, a 5 minute long thumping and catchy track.
The thing about Nick Cave related projects, however, is that they sound relatively similar to some extent. If you’ve never heard any Cave, then ‘Grinderman 2’ might not be the best place to start (it certainly wouldn’t be a BAD place, though), however if you have ever found yourself enjoying ANYTHING Cave has previously done, then buy/download this album. I can nearly guarantee you that you’ll find something you like.
-Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man