Friday, June 29, 2012

Jam of the Day: Purity Ring - "Belispeak"



Off their stunning debut album Shrines, "Belispeak" is one of my favorite tracks. Very creepy and catchy.

Album Review: DIIV - Oshin


DIIV
Oshin
Rating: Grrrr

From humble beginnings as a bedroom pop project from Beach Fossil guitarist Zachary Cole Smith, DIIV (originally named Dive but changed because of a Belgian band with the same name) has since expanded to a full fledged band with 3 additional members. While there is similarity in sound with his full-time band (as well as peers Real Estate and The Drums), the nostalgia tinged quasi-surf rock they proffer is skewed more towards dream pop, emphasizing influences from acts like The Smiths, The Railway Children, Innocence Mission, and The Ocean Blue. There is a shimmering, light-on-water quality to the record which comports with Smith's quote that all the band members have water signs. The quartet's debut album Oshin is not going to win any awards for originality or for diversity, however, it transcends this limitation by being 13 tracks of pristine, dark-edged guitar pop, each song merging into the next to create one suite of tracks that sticks in the mind for a long time after the final track has faded.

For me, the album evokes warm days back in college in the late 80s, driving with friends along deserted back roads with the windows down, letting the pulse of those previously mentioned bands be our guide, never quite knowing where we would end up, or what we would do. When time seemed limitless and we all felt infallible. From the opening chords you are transported immediately into their self-contained world, with "(Druun)," acting as a roadmap and introduction to the record, the cavernous beats and shimmering waves of guitars folding in on you. Which leads right into the mesmerizing "Past Lives," which uses a melancholy palate of guitars over a driving beat, with Smith's forlorn vocals touching on themes of loss and regret: "I was your home and you locked yourself outside/And run with your ghosts/Back to a place you'd already known."



For the most part, throughout the record the emotions and themes are carried more by the meoldies and not the lyrics. When the songs have lyrics, the vocals are usually pushed back into the mix and become another musical element. Usually the lyrics are impressionistic snippets that blur in and out of focus, allowing you brief glimpses of meaning, which is always open to interpretation. There are frequent allusions to death, regret, and being haunted by or running from one's past. On "Sometime" the echoing guitars and crisp beats are underlined by Smith whispering lines like "Sometimes your birth is just a part of your death,"



while guitars wail and crash over the thundering "Oshin (Subsume)" with its half-chanted "oshin crash/salt makes blood/red with clay/black with mud,"



and a chugging bassline and beats propel the intensely paranoid and frantic "Doused,"
Smith's voice getting more and more agitated as he sings "you've gone too far/your urge to run away is back/and we all know."



While there is a tendency to feel like a lot of the songs bleed together, and frequently I will admit that I can't tell some of the tracks apart from each other, looking at the record as a whole it is not so much a weakness as it is just an overall aesthetic that colors the tracks. This is not to say that there are not some stylistic differences on the album. "Air Conditioning" trades the glossy shimmer for a more Krautrock inspired strut,



"How Long Have You Known," climbs into bed with a Spiritualized-esque drone,



as closing track "Home" is like a soft lullaby to sleep, the keyboards washing over quietly echoing guitars, Smith intoning "you'll never have a home until you go home," which sums up sort of the grand theme of the record that running away from the past and your problems just creates more issues.

Oshin is a gorgeously produced record whose tracks feel lived in, as if they have been part of your life forever. Once again, I was transported back to those free-flowing days when time seemed to slow, the open road was ahead, and you hadn't lived enough to have a past.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Video: The Presets - "Youth In Trouble"



First single and video from the Australian rave-rock duo The Presets' new album Pacifica.

Videos of the Week

Friday. Too hot to come up with anything witty. Videos. Here they are. Get 'em:



Haunting video for a haunting song.



Strange video for Lana Del Ray, featuring her as Marilyn Monroe/Jackie O and A$AP Rocky as JFK.



80s referencing video featuring lots of lasers and bad outfits.



Video shot with the rearview camera in a Prius.



Crudely done, yet very effective video.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jam of the Day: Baio - "Sunburn Modern"



Fun, sunny track from Baio. Interesting video.

Album Review: Purity Ring - Shrines


Purity Ring
Shrines
Rating: Woof Daddy

Earlier this year I saw Purity Ring open for Neon Indian in a small club and was completely unimpressed by their performance. Granted, the sound was erratic and overpowering, making their setup of sampler and vocals even more limited. Singer Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick relied too heavily on gimmicks rather than letting the power of their music rule the day. Roddick performed behind a table with a strange light installation that also served as a percussive instrument, lighting up when struck. James, wearing hand-sewn clothing, lurked about the stage with a halting presence, seemingly unaware of the audience before her. Based on my initial impressions I was ready to dismiss their debut album outright. When Shrines arrived in my inbox, it was with a heavy sigh that I set out to listen to it, but tried as I might, I couldn't dislike it. In fact, I couldn't stop playing it. What came across as muddled and tinny on the live stage was transformed in the studio; the production a dense, tactile beast of a thing, jumping out of the speakers to wrap you up in its spell.

Shrines is a mix of clattering, slowed down Dirty South beats, atmospheric keyboards, and James' innocent coo, which is manipulated, twisted, and mangled within an inch of its life. To a friend, I likened it to Clams Casino producing for The Knife/Bjork/Liz Fraser. The soundscapes produced by Roddick are never overdone or busy, there is a perfect place for every note, and nothing is squandered. Shrines is simultaneously warm and inviting, dark and foreboding; reveling in the push and pull between the two.

Songs like "Belispeak" pulse and throb with skittering beats and vocal twists and turns, the keyboards sounding like they've been left out in the sun and are melting while the song is playing. The lyrics recount what appears to be a little girl's fears of death, and being watched over by her family: "Grandma, I've been unruly/in my dreams/and with my speech/Drill little holes/into my eyelids/that I might see you."



"Fineshrine" has a light, airy melody and rubs up against the strange words sung by James, imploring her lover to "Cut open my sternum and pull/My little ribs around you/through arms, or maybe under, under you."



"Obedear" conjures up images of wintry forests and cold seeping through to your bones, the icy keyboards floating over the minimal beats.



The oppressive and dark "Cartographist" slides James' somnambulistic vocal over a fun house assortment of glitchy, droning keyboard textures, while "Shuck" pairs her wistful vocal, sung as if by a teenage girl drifting off in reverie. The keyboards, in contrast, emulating a funeral march.

Musically, Shrines is never more than impeccably produced, suiting the songs perfectly. "Grandloves" is a hauntingly beautiful slow ballad; choruses of multitracked vocals float in and out of clouds of whispering synths. "Ungirthed"
cheekily uses hiccuped and manipulated vocal samples to propel the track, James' vocals coy and juvenile, sounding like Bjork in her low range.



"Lofticries" slowly builds over moaning synths and stop starting beats, growing darker as the song details the fallout from some violent experience, James' intoning "Let it seep through your sockets and earholes/into your precious, fractured skull."



Shrines is definitely a revelation to me, and it goes to show that you should never discount something outright after one bad experience. Had I relied on that initial impression, it is likely I never would have heard what is one of my favorite albums of the year so far. Shrines is a phenomenal find; one which you should grab immediately.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New: Antony Hegarty - "Landslide (Fleetwood Mac Cover)"


Gorgeous cover from Antony from the Fleetwood Mac tribute album Just Tell Me That You Want Me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jam of the Day: DIIV - "Sometime"



DIIV's debut album Oshin is phenomenal. I love this track to death.

Album Review: iamamiwhoami - Kin


iamamiwhoami
Kin
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Back in December 2009, a series of anonymous videos were released on YouTube featuring striking imagery accompanied by strangely evocative electronic music. Glimpses of a blond woman were interspersed throughout, creating a huge, viral Internet buzz as to who was behind the enigmatic project. Many speculated it was the work of anyone from Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp, Björk, The Knife, Trent Reznor and Christina Aguilera. Eventually, a video was released when revealed the creator to be Swedish singer/songwriter Jonna Lee. We are now left solely with the music, without the secrecy and mystery behind it. Removed from the hype and buzz, we find an album that fits in a comfortable niche between more experimental acts like Fever Ray and The Knife, and more electro-pop acts like Robyn and Goldfrapp.

Disassociated from the visual element makes the music seem a little less interesting and important, however, there are some really amazing moments on this record. It veers back and forth between more down-tempo, moody tracks and more radio-ready synthpop tracks. All of them are tied together by Lee's odd, endearing voice. While nowhere near as supple as Bjork, it sort of skirts the line between her guttural howl and Robyn's goofy soprano. It is an acquired taste for sure, but gives the project some distinctiveness. For me, the album works best when it is less experimental and more pop oriented. The dance floor-centric pulse and throb of "Goods,"



the rush and push of "Good Worker,"



the swirling mix of airy synths on "Idle Talk."



and the slow build and multi-tracked vocals of "Kill," which finishes in a blur of tinny drum machines and layers of keyboards.



The rest of the album leans more towards atmosphere and away from the hooks of the previous tracks. While this doesn't necessarily derail the album at all, the tracks don't resonate as much. The sludgy, grimed out beats of "Play" are an interesting change up, but the track sort of stagnates and features a particularly grating vocal from Lee, her voice pitch-shifted up to uncomfortable levels.



Heavy electro beats and whining synths punctuate the ominous fury of "In Due Order."



Atmospheric ballad "Rascal" sees Lee effectively dipping into her lower registers as the glitchy music spins around her.



Despite the comedown after the huge hype created by the teaser videos, Kin is still a strong debut for Lee. Her distinctive voice sets her apart from her electro-pop peers, and her use of visual accompaniment further adds to her allure and charm. Kin creates an interesting world to be lost in, and whets the appetite to see what she comes up with next.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.



Video: Lana Del Rey - "National Anthem"



Video features Lana as Jackie O/Marilyn Monroe to A$AP Rocky's JFK. Very strange.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Video: Death Grips - "Double Helix"



One of the standout tracks on The Money Store. Interesting video shot with the rear camera on a car.

Album Review: Twin Shadow - Confess


Twin Shadow
Confess
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Back in 2010, George Lewis, Jr. a.k.a. Twin Shadow, released his debut album Forget to a flurry of rave reviews, crossing 80s new wave, synth-pop, shoegaze, and Prince-esque R&B into a heady mix that seemed both fresh and reverential at the same time. On tour, these songs were taken from their rudimentary bedroom pop origins and transformed into something fuller and more expansive. Based on his live show, and with his touring band in tow, I expected Lewis to change things up and really take his sound to the next level production-wise. Confess, his follow up to Forget, strangely doesn't really veer all that far from the template laid out in the debut. The production values, of course, are much better and cleaner, but there is still the feeling these tracks were recorded in the pre-dawn reflective hours, intimately documenting the thoughts and feelings of Lewis. Not that this is such a bad thing, it's just slightly disappointing that it is so similar in sound to Forget. In a press release, Lewis commented that Confess was made after a motorcycle accident he had while riding with a friend. During the accident, Lewis recalled "[t]he slow motion moments of calm just after surprise and just before regret are bliss. I remember in that moment I wanted to say everything to him. How could I say everything in a split second? How could I bury my words in his heart?” Where with Forget the lyrics were more impressionistic and open to interpretation, Confess is all about raw emotion and letting those once hidden feelings erupt at the surface. The music on Forget worked perfectly with the mood of the album, adding enough atmosphere and texture to support the lyrical themes. Returning to a similar palate on Confess creates a slight disconnect between the directness of the lyrics and the slick sheen of the music, which takes a bit of time to get accustomed to.

For the most part, though, the songs do work very well, especially on the front half of the record, but it does take a lot more effort to get to that point. First track "Golden Light" initially perplexes with its soft Caribbean accents and moody keyboards before the chorus hits with soaring washes of synths and strange vocal samples. Most of the songs on here are about the ins and outs of relationships. "Golden Light" about not falling for the "you complete me" view of coupling. Admonishing his lover "some people say there's a golden light/if I'm the golden light/if you chase after me
doesn't mean you can see."



First single and one of the album's highlights "Five Seconds" is where the album really should have been musically focused on. It is a driving, buzzy guitar/synth rocker that stands out among the other moodier numbers, Lewis wanting to get to know someone better before getting serious: "that’s no way to get it on/five seconds in your heart."



Confess works better on these more musical upbeat tracks, when the band seems looser and freer, and not trying to focus so much on recreating a perfect amalgamation of the 80s new wave/R&B sound they have already mastered. "The One" is a peppy slice of guitar pop, with a warm, inviting vocal from Lewis. "You Can Call Me On," is a spiky, warped guitar feast, Lewis' vocal twisted and manipulated into a mass of confusion and anger, attempting to get his lover back from some seeming addiction, "and I don't give a damn about the scene/it's my only way back to you." While "Beg For The Night" finds Lewis wanting the one he can't have, seeing his ex-lover falling in love with another, sighing "when this love starts/won't hurt anymore/will you need me again?"



Which is not to say that the album's more atmospheric tracks are somehow lesser; they are just not as immediate, and take a few listens to sink in. The wistful and melancholy "When The Movie's Over" features a gorgeous vocal from Lewis full of longing and regret.



"Run My Heart" has an aching, tender side that feels like an extension of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire," with Lewis trying to tell a girl that "I'm not in love" but whether he is trying to convince himself or her is left open to doubt.



Several times, however, Twin Shadow's lyrics can seem a bit too diary entry-like, with music that feels more like sketches or almost note for note recreations of music from the 80s. "Patient" has a painful disconnect between the juvenile lyrics and Prince-like demo music, while "I Don't Care" never overcomes its rather creepy tale of underage seduction ("you were looking to get it cuz your daddy's not home") or the fact that the melody seems cribbed from Bonnie Tyler's craptastic one hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart."



Ultimately, for me, Confess is an album that is easier to like than to love. There is nothing as striking as the singles from Forget, nor is it as consistently thrilling as that record as a whole. There is nothing to truly dislike here, it is a perfectly entertaining and at times beautifully done record, I just had a disconnect with it. I wanted more from Lewis, and unfortunately only got good instead of great. Oddly, it took the hidden track "Mirror In The Dark" for me to have the "A-HA" moment I was waiting for through the entire record. It is a soulful track with an easy groove, broken up by shards of atmospheric guitars and samples, that pointed a fresh, interesting direction I wished Lewis had explored more. Instead, Lewis stuck to the same familiar palate musically throughout the album, leaving me wanting.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Jam of the Day: Diamond Rings - "I'm Just Me"



New single from the upcoming sophomore album from John O'Regan, better known as Diamond Rings. The video is feast of 80s revivalism, featuring an army of lasers, big shoulder pads, hair gel, and vogue dancing. And the song is pretty kicking.

New: Paul Banks - "Summertime Is Coming"



"Summertime is Coming", a new track from Paul Banks' new Julian Plenti Lives... EP, which is out today. A new Julian Plenti album will be out in October.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jam of the Day: Twin Shadow - "Mirror In The Dark"



Hidden track on Twin Shadow's upcoming album Confess. I think it is the best song he's done so far.

Album Review: Echo Lake - Wild Peace


Echo Lake
Wild Peace
Rating: Grrrr

Initially a bedroom dream pop project, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Thom Hill and vocalist Linda Jarvis have moved from releasing singles online to jumping on board Slumberland records for their debut album Wild Peace, and expanding from a duo to a five piece. Their first recordings focused more on creating a full on swell of noise, similar to bands like My Bloody Valentine, but lately the band, in interviews, have pulled away from those comparisons stating they wanted to enhance and focus their sound more. While Wild Peace is not going to be considered a slick pop record, there is a definite movement towards melody and structure and not just piling on the guitar effects.

In all likelihood, there will be somewhat a game of spot the influence on this record, from the waves of feedback of MBV, gentle calm of Slowdive, any of the 4AD bands from the glorious 80s, and the slurry dream pop of Beach House and Galaxie 500, all make an appearance in some shape or another. But while most bands end up sounding like a cover band for their influences, Echo Lake are talented enough to add their own distinct sound to the proceedings.

Opening with the droning, heavily multi-tracked "Further Down," you could mistake this is a collision between Beach House and Spiritualized, with the lovely guitars washing over cascading organ, as singer Jarvis' voice ethereally wanders in and out of the mix. Which goes straight into the jaunty guitar pop of "Another Day," which features ringing guitars and a echoing drum beat while Jarvis murmurs a hauntingly melody.



Throughout the record, they touch on several different styles that both suit the band to a T and also add diversity to the record. From the motorik rhythms of "In Dreams,"



to the delicate dream pop of "Even the Blind,"



the fragile ambient shoegaze of "Monday 5AM," fuzzed out art pop of "Young Silence,"



to the simple pop of "Last Song of the Year,"



these tracks never fall into predictable traps or lose their sense of purpose.

Wild Peace is a truly focused record that never puts atmosphere over song craft. Every note feels like it is in the right place, the pacing of the record is impeccable, and it all ends far too quickly. Thankfully the final track "Just Kids" ends the record on a high note, as the perfect encapsulation of their sound, starting from a gorgeous, low-key dream pop stance and moving into a full onslaught of shoegaze fury.



Wild Peace is a very strong debut for this UK band and definitely sets the bar high for them. The only criticism I have is that they are still really finding that key ingredient that makes their songs sound like an "Echo Lake" song. But when you have so many strong tracks like on this record, it perhaps isn't all that important. I think Echo Lake has it in them to really overcome comparisons with their influences and strike out on their own direction.

Unfortunately, this review has to end on sad note, as on the eve of the release of Wild Peace, Echo Lake announced on their Facebook page the death of their drummer, 25 year old Pete Hayes. My condolences go out to the band and their friends and family.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jam of the Day: Holograms - "Chasing My MInd"



Swedish proto-punks Holograms release some synth driven fury on a track from their upcoming debut album.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Video: Bombay Bicycle Club - "Shuffle"



This song has been on constant repeat lately. Check out their album A Different Kind of Fix, as it is quite excellent.

Jam of the Day: Beat Connection - "Palace Garden, 4 AM"



Nice slice of indie disco-punk from the Seattle quartet. Their debut album The Palace Garden is out now.

Album Review: Maxïmo Park - The National Health


Maxïmo Park
The National Health
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Initially known as the first guitar-based band signed to legendary electronic label Warp Records, Maxïmo Park was lumped in with a slew of other post-punk/new wave recalling acts like Futureheads, Bloc Party, and Franz Ferdinand. While their debut album A Certain Trigger certainly leaned in that direction, Maxïmo Park has always seemed more aligned with their Britpop fore bearers. It's been this push and pull between these two styles where Maxïmo Park flourishes best, but also their Achilles heel when they tip the line over to one over the other. Second album, the Gil Norton (Pixies, Echo and the Bunnymen) produced Our Earthly Pleasures, buckled under the heavy, too slick production values. While third album Quicken The Heart, produced by Nick Launey (Nick Cave, Grinderman), went in a more organic, rawer direction which really didn't suit the band whatsoever. New album The National Health finds the band sort of at a crossroads with their sound; returning to Norton and maintaining a slicker sound, the band sounds more energized than their last outing, but still don't really seem to know where to go. The title of the album implies this will be more of a political outing; indeed, title track "The National Health" refers to proposed cuts to the NHS. There is real urgency in the track, singer Paul Smith's vocals racing to keep up with the blistering guitars.



Aside from a couple of other tracks, notably the track "Banileu," which touches on feelings of social unease, The National Health dwells less on the political and more on the emotional. And for a stretch, Maxïmo Park fire on all cylinders with some of their sharpest songs and melodies. "Hips and Lips" finds Smith toning his strong voice down to work with the dense throb of buzzing synths and grinding guitars.



"The Undercurrents" perhaps is the best song Maxïmo Park has written so far, featuring a gorgeous bed of chiming guitars and subtle piano, with Smith's voice richly filling the spaces.



And "Reluctant Love" continues the perfect pop song contest, featuring a velvety smooth melody and jaunty pace.



The album falters on occasion when the tracks get too slick for there own good as on the Coldplay-esque "This Is What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted,"



or where the ideas are just not fleshed out enough like the pop-punk of "Wolf Among Men" and new-wave of "Write This Down."



The National Health makes up for these slips when they keep things simple and moving. Brisk beats, crisp guitars, and quirky keyboards enliven the driving "Until The Earth Would Open,"



and the herky-jerky rhythms and roaring guitars of "Waves of Fear" close things out on a high note.



The National Health does show a band in flux with their sound, testing out different things to see what works best. While this could come across as muddled, thankfully the album is a pretty solid set of tracks with just a few that fall short of the mark. With a little more focus on what works, we will be seeing more from Maxïmo Park in the future.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Bloc Party: "We Found Love (Rihanna Cover) + Flux"



At a London show last night, Bloc Party performed a cover of Rihanna's monster hit "We Found Love" which went into their track "Flux." Here is some audience footage.

Videos of the Week

You know you have been waiting for it all week, here are my favorite videos:



Yes, you can see Shia LaBeouf's dick.



Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. Such a hypnotic video.



Post-apocalyptic motorcycle battles from Twin Shadow.



Suntanning adventures of a mannequin.



Bizarre, expressionistic video from the Swedish chanteuse.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Remix: M.I.A. ft. Missy Elliott & Rye Rye - "Bad Girls (Switch Remix)"



At Soundcloud you can listen to this Switch remix of the M.I.A. track featuring verses from Missy Elliott and Rye Rye.

Jam of the Day: Physical Therapy ft. Jamie Krasner - "Drone On"


Jungle-recalling track from Physical Therapy. Sort of whisks me back to the 90s.

Album Review: Justin Bieber - Believe


Justin Bieber
Believe
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Yes, you read correctly. I am giving the Biebs album a good review. Surprised you say? Well, no more so than me. Based on his limited output so far, I was expecting another treacly tween pop record that would be completely forgettable and dismiss-able. I have to give credit to Bieber, and whoever is advising him, that they are making all the right moves for his career. His second album Believe is a transitional record, designed to move him from his tween base into a, perhaps mature is not the right word, more older skewing audience. While there are still remnants of his previous output present, most notably in the over-reliance on syrupy ballads, there is a slightly edgier leaning towards slicker R&B and EDM sounds, which points to the direction he is heading.

Like the new Usher (Bieber's role model and mentor) album, there is a broad range of styles and approaches on Believe, and also a monstrous phalanx of songwriters and producers in tow. But whereas Usher's album, while good, seemed too scattershot and tossed together, Believe is surprisingly consistent, positioning Bieber as the heir to Justin Timberlake's throne. In fact, it often reminds me of Timberlake's first solo record, which had about the same amount of success to failure ratio, but made a statement that Timberlake was not going to be limited by his former boy band credentials.

Obviously for me, Believe works best when the album goes off the grid a bit. Tracks like "As Long As You Love Me," with its buzzing synths, slippery drum programming, and interplay of multitracked vocals, show a maturity that has not been evident so far.



"Take You" merges lovely acoustic guitars with stutter-step beats, dubstep flourishes, and a husky vocal turn from Bieber.



The R&B duet with Drake "Right Here" combines their two distinct styles perfectly.



Especially on the three deluxe edition bonus tracks, Bieber really allows his producers to run with it, and thankfully, Bieber appears up to the challenge, showing more confidence and that he is comfortable being a little more edgy. "Out Of Town Girl," is a slamming R&B track with lots of bizarre electronic textures pushing against the grain of the song.



"She Doesn't Like The Lights" addresses live in the spotlight with Bieber, turning the flash and whirr of cameras into a percussive instrument.



While "Maria" touches on the paternity drama Bieber faced, turning the event into a modern day updating of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."



The rest of Believe jumps back and forth between uptempo pop songs like first single "Boyfriend" and "All Around The World," which shows a debt to current Euro-dance trends, high profile collaborations like "Beauty and a Beat" with Nicki Minaj, and an unfortunate plethora of sugary-sweet ballads ("Catching Feelings," "Be Alright," "Believe"). But overall, the album slides by smoothly and slickly, with these ballads providing momentary speed bumps.

Believe is not going to be the second coming. I am sure it will sell like hotcakes and rule the top of the charts for the rest of the summer. More importantly, it shows that Bieber is not a fool. He may be the butt of many a joke, but the guy knows what he is doing, or at least has the right people advising him on what to do. Believe shows a willingness and desire to move forward and not make the same songs over and over again. So yes, I am giving this album a good review. It is pretty damn good pop/R&B record. Nothing wrong with that.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.






New: Yeasayer - "Longevity"



New track from their upcoming album Fragrant World, out in August.

Tracklist:
01 “Fingers Never Bleed”
02 “Longevity”
03 “Blue Paper”
04 “Henrietta”
05 “Devil and the Deed”
06 “No Bones”
07 “Reagan’s Skeleton”
08 “Demon Road”
09 “Damaged Goods”
10 “Folk Hero Shtick”
11 “Glass of the Microscope”

Upcoming tour dates:
6/21 – Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theater
6/22 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery
6/23 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners
6/24 – Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theater
7/02 – Vienna, Austria @ Szene
7/04 – Gdynia, Poland @ Heineken Open’er Festival
7/07 – Bruges, Belgium @ Cactus Festival
7/08 – Lieges, Belgium @ Les Ardentes
7/09 – Utrecht, Holland @ Tivoli De Heling
7/13 – Norfolk, England @ Latitude
7/15 – Grafenhainichen, Germany @ Melt Festival

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Video: Simian Mobile Disco - "Your Love Ain't Fair"



Interesting clip full of lamps, lights, and bulbs.

Jam of the Day: Caspa ft. Keith Flint - "War"



Really liking this heavy dubstep track from Caspa. The video is slightly NSFW.

Album Review: Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do


Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do
Rating: Woof Daddy

Uncompromising and stubborn, Fiona Apple always follows her own path. Following the success of her debut album Tidal and her hit single "Criminal," Apple refused to let that success determine the direction of her career. She could have easily chosen to repeat that formula over and over again, exploiting herself and her songs, and yet, she forged ahead with her unique vision. Following Tidal with a second album with a ridiculously long title (the album shorthanded as When the Pawn... actually is a poem with over 400 characters) and a much more inscrutable trajectory, Apple made no bones about her eccentricity, and even seemed to revel in it. This eccentricity, however, caused many issues between Apple and her record label. The follow up, entitled Extraordinary Machine, was recorded over a period of several years and found its release date delayed several times, leading to the assumption that Apple's label was unhappy with its commercial prospects. After an Internet campaign to the get the album released, leaked versions of the album, and more delays, the album was released to universal acclaim, showcasing more elaborate instrumentation and songwriting; a far cry from the relative simplicity of Tidal. Not much has been heard from Apple since that release. After promoting the album, Apple basically disappeared from public view to work on songs.

Seven years later (and with much less controversy), Apple finally releases the follow up, The Idler Wheel... (again with the long, drawn out album title), and again changes direction. Where Extraordinary Machine threw everything but the kitchen sink into the mix, The Idler Wheel has a much more limited palate, primarily focusing on Apple's piano with some percussive effects provided by drummer/producer Charley Drayton. The Idler Wheel is not an easy album to warm to; Apple's opaque, looping lyrics and the minimal, yet flourished musical backing initially keep one at arm's length. But listen after listen, the album finds a way to seep into your veins; a turn of phrase, a delightful piano melody, or even an odd use of percussion hook you deep into its spell.

The lyrics on The Idler Wheel deal mostly with relationships; most of which are not exactly happy ones. Further, there are themes throughout regarding the push and pull between innocence and experience, and Apple's constant fight with her brain and her heart. First single and first track "Every Single Night" sums things up pretty brilliantly with the line "Every single night's a fight/With my brain."



On "Werewolf," Apple details a disastrous coupling, likening her lover to a werewolf or shark, but also taking blame for being the cause of so much of the trouble, singing "And I could liken you to a shark the way you bit off my head
But then again I was waving around a bleeding open wound."



On the over-the-top eccentric "Left Alone," Apple reflects over her love life and sees how her experiences have turned her hard and jaded, asking the question "How can I ask anyone to love me/When all I do is beg to be left alone." All the while the instrumentation, barely controlled piano rolls and rustling percussion echo the mindset of the narrator, with Apple's voice flying off the map at times in connection.



Apple is her worst critic, pouring out song after song of love gone bad, ruined chances, and defeated purposes. The gorgeously sinister piano ballad "Valentine" is a blood soaked revenge poem to an ex. In "Daredevil," Apple doesn't "feel anything until I smash it up." While the shadowy, showstopping "Regret" is a brutal kiss off to a lover who turned her into someone she didn't want to be, spitting out at him "I ran out of white dove feathers/To soak up the hot piss that comes through your mouth/Every time you address me."



The album is full of odd, strange sounds that create a tension between the organic piano and the almost industrial borrowing atmospheric effects. From the pitter-pattering percussion in "Daredevil," factory-like sounds in "Jonathan," to what sounds like clattering pots and pans along with crunching snow shoes in "Periphery," there is an amazing sonic architecture to these tracks, creating amazing worlds that constantly fold and unfold on themselves. With that said, it is a difficult record to fully embrace at first, taking multiple listens to get into the flow and universe of the album. And unfortunately, it is one you will either fully love or not understand at all. I am thankful that I was able to penetrate its hard shell and get to the meat inside. The Idler Wheel is a phenomenal record that is a pure, experimental pop classic.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New Album: Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon



Here is the trailer for the new Two Door Cinema Club record.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jam of the Day: Jade ft. Ryme Tyme - "Smash Face"



Thanks to my boo, Kurt, for recommending this slamming DnB track.

Video: Lemonade - "Soft Kiss"



Heavily 80s indebted video from Lemonade. Fantastic single.

Album Review: Linkin Park - Living Things



Linkin Park
Living Things
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Linkin Park's fifth album Living Things is not so much a return to form as it is a return to what made them successful to begin with. With the demise of nü-metal and its chief bands either throwing their hat in the dubstep ring (Korn) or still flogging a dead horse (Limp Bizkit), Linkin Park has bravely soldiered on, refining their sound to bridge the gap between their harder, guitar based influences and their hip-hop/electronic influences, releasing an almost pop-rock album (Minutes To Midnight) and a slightly more experimental/electronic record (A Thousand Suns). Neither album worked very well as a whole, sort of forgetting that the reason why they were so popular in the first place was that their best tracks had hooks for days. These were sadly missing from those records, but the band seems to have remembered that and brought that back to the table for the new record. Produced by singer/rapper Mike Shinoda and Rick Rubin, Living Things returns to a more concise format, coming in at a lean and mean 36 minutes, and is one of their most diverse sets, alternating seamlessly between hard-edged rockers, pop tracks, and electronic excursions.

By going to back to their basics, Linkin Park feel more enervated and on their game. From first single "Burn It Down," a electronic leaning rocker, that kicks it out with another killer chorus,



"In My Remains," a mid-tempo pop-rock track,



to the churning guitars of "I'll Be Gone," the focus is all about the melody and not trying to push their sound into something that doesn't suit them.



The band has noted in interviews that Living Things is a distillation of all their records into one, and in a way, that is very true. While the band sticks to their crafty hooks throughout, they do return to some sounds of old. "Victimized" is a brutal heavy riff attack and the hardest track they've done in years,



"Lies Greed Misery" and "Until It Breaks" recall their best rock/rap hybrids,



while "Roads Untraveled" and closer "Powerless" are two more haunting ballads, showcasing the range of singer Chester Bennington.



This return to basics enlivens Living Things and is the first Linkin Park record since Meteora that I have returned to again and again. While the songwriting and hooks are nowhere near as good as that record and Hybrid Theory, it easily takes its place right behind them in order of success.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Video: Twin Shadow - "Five Seconds"



Twin Shadow being all ninja in a post-apocalyptic world.

Video: Rye Rye - "Dance"



Rye Rye getting her dance on.

Jam of the Day: Danny Brown - "Grown Up"



Really great rap track from Danny Brown, with a killer video to match.

Album Review: The Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania


The Smashing Pumpkins
Oceania
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Mea culpa here, when I received the promo for this album I was less than thrilled to have to listen to it. Honestly, since Adore, I have not been excited about any imput from Billy Corgan. The constant line-up changes, slagging other artists, forming new bands, putting out solo material, and generally being a self-righteous twit hasn't endeared Mr. Corgan to me, or to many people. But for the man who was the architect of four of the best alt-rock albums of the late 80s-early 90s, I am at least willing to give him the benefit of the doubt - some of the time, that is. His latest album under The Smashing Pumpkins name, is only him and a new group of session players. Long gone are Jimmy Chamberlin, James Iha, and D'arcy Wretzky, and suffice it to say, Oceania lacks the depth and breadth that came with their playing. For the first time in long while, however, Corgan, for the most part, keeps his grandiose tendencies to a minimum, despite Oceania being considered part of the band's ongoing 44-song concept album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. Is Oceania a return to the glory days? Well, no. Corgan, ever the alt-rock Icarus, always fashions himself greater than his talents actually are, and will always fly too close to the sun, but, despite this, Oceania is actually a fairly entertaining record that only occasionally gets its wings charred.

Corgan would definitely benefit from some judicious editing of his material, or someone in the studio with him to slap his hand when he goes off the rails. When he scales his ideas back and takes them down to the nuts and bolts that is when he really shines as a songwriter and musician. It's when his god complex takes over that the record disintegrates into a bloated mass of prog-rock extremism. The record actually starts off fairly strongly with "Quasar" borrowing some Gish-era psychedelic guitar grooves, slamming into the riff heavy "Panopticon" which features one of Corgan best melodies in years, keeping his usually nasally whine in check.



"The Celestials" actually benefits from being pared down, as the beginning acoustic guitars and strings is far more memorable than the back half descent into sludgy riffs.



Elsewhere on the record, this streamlined approach always results in the more memorable tracks. "Glissandra" features a wondrous chorus of layered guitars that propels the track rather than miring it in pyrotechnics, while "Violet Rays" is a gorgeous mid-tempo rocker with a remarkably restrained vocal from Corgan.



Not that every track has to be minimal for me, there are a couple of interesting tracks where Corgan lets loose, and it actually suits the track rather than distracting from it. "The Chimera," while skirting a little too close to "Cherub Rock" at times, at least shows Corgan being a little more fun and letting loose with some juicy riffs. Title track "Oceania" is an 8 minute odyssey, starting out as an analog synth heavy ballad before adding a more forceful bed of guitars, before dipping into an acoustic mid-section, then returning with a synth/blazing guitar outro that drops out far too early.



But too often, Corgan gets trapped in his old, bad habits, whether it is tying a track to a monotonous riff ("Inkless"), throwing out mind-numbingly bad lyrics (the endless repetition of the word Thorazine on the otherwise gorgeous "Pale Horse"), or attempting to revisit past glories (the treacly ballad "One Diamond, One Heart" which tries and fails to recall the splendor of "Tonight Tonight Tonight").

For each mistake though, Corgan always seems to find a way to redeem himself. "My Love In Winter," has a strength to it but doesn't sacrifice it, allowing some tender parts to seep through; while closer "Wildflower" is likely one of Corgan's most unusual, yet interesting tracks. Repeating the opening lines of the track "Wasted along the way/to reach you" like a mantra over a glistening bed of synths, the song ending in a swirl of synths and roaring guitars.

While Oceania won't fit neatly in their canon of classic albums, it is by far Corgan's most cohesive Smashing Pumpkins' record in years, and for that alone it is worth listening. Oceania definitely reveals that Corgan still has the ability to put out some great songs, and is not just coasting on the memory of better days. I will admit I was ready to slag the album based on a couple of listens, but it was worth putting the effort into discovering a minor gem.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Video: Sigur Rós - "Fjögur Píanó" (NSFW)



Third video in a series of experimental works accompanying the songs on their new record Valtari. This video is pretty strange, containing lots of bondage and sexual violence. Oh, and Shia LeBeouf.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy 15th Birthday OK Computer!



Ok, I am a day late, but Happy 15th Birthday to the brilliant Radiohead album OK Computer.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

New: Crystal Castles - Unknown Title



Crystal Castles debuted a new song at Manchester's Parklife Festival. The song title is unknown at the moment, but is likely to appear on their upcoming album.

Video: Violens - "When To Let Go"



Not quite sure what this video is supposed to mean. Nice song though.

Jam of the Day: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - "Household Goods"



This album is fast becoming my guilty pleasure of the year, thanks in part to awesome dance tracks like this one. I would kill to see this guy live. His live shows look like a blast.

New: Peter Buck - "10 Million BC"



Sludgy blues rocker from the upcoming solo album from Peter Buck.



Photo from NME.

Album Review: Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape 2



Clams Casino
Instrumental Mixtape 2
Rating: Grrrr

Clams Casino's first Instrumental Mixtape came out of nowhere last year to be one of my favorite releases. His work was astonishingly full-formed, and instantly distinctive and recognizable. Creating beats for rappers Lil' B, A$AP Rocky, and Mac Miller among others, his spacey, shoegazey vibe was unique to the hip-hop world, and oddly enough translated even better when heard separate from the vocal tracks. He's returned with a second installment, that can be downloaded for free here. The question remains, do the tracks still work outside the vocal contributions? His style has not really changed much over the course of the year; he still has a slowed down, ambient vibe, sludgy beats, and a penchant for an odd sample here and there. His tracks, for the most part, don't follow the regular hip-hop pattern of laying down a strong foundation and then letting it endlessly loop in the background. Clams Casino uses a lot of breaks, divergent paths, ambient interludes, and an almost endless supply of electronic textures to fill out the spaces.

Clams Casino appears to be on his game the most with his collaborations with A$AP Rocky, finding new and interesting ways to subvert his usual patterns. Opener "Palace," is a strikingly ornate track, layered with chorus vocals and a cavernous pound of slowed down Dirty South beats.



"Wassup" is a underwater treasure of murky synths, beats, and disembodied vocal snippets.



And one of the standouts from A$AP Rocky's debut album, "Bass" sounds even more menacing and brutal without Rocky's raps.



Of course, the brilliant soundscapes are not limited solely to A$AP Rocky; Instrumental Mixtape 2 collects some of his best work with Mac Miller as well. From the lush, downtempo tropicalia of "One Last Thing,"



to the chorus of murky, back masked vocals on "Angels," Clams Casino demonstrates how he is a master of mood and atmosphere.



Instrumental Mixtape 2 falters only when the tracks are a locked groove with little to no changes; obviously where the rapper or artist didn't want focus taken away from their vocals. "Kissing On My Syrup" for Squadda B is a clanking, proto-industrial track that never really rises above its clamorous beat.



Or his remix of the Lana Del Rey track "Born to Die," is merely a haunted house of effects and little melody.



But these slight annoyances do nothing to deny the brilliance of the other tracks. "Swervin" is a stunning tour de force of shoegaze ambiance and texture.



"The Fall," in its original mix for The Weeknd, is a lurking slow-jam, a drugged out haze in the morning after.



And ends with one of his best tracks, the instrumental version of Lil' B's "I'm God," featuring a brilliant Imogen Heap sample from "Just For Now."



Instrumental Mixtape 2 is another feather in the cap for Clams Casino, showcasing his trademarked style, but also indicating that he knows how to manipulate and play with it, so that it is always fresh. I'm really jonesing for him to release a full album of his own material to see what he can really do. But for now, I am completely content with these releases.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Videos of the Week

Here are the latest videos that are hot like wasabi:



Sleek, b/w clip from the UK duo.



Lazy, hot days of summer clip from Poolside.



Haunting clip from Rudi Zygadlo.



Cute clip from rapper Danny Brown.



Azealia Banks in the wild wild west.


Although I am not loving the new Metric album, this single is fantastic.

New: David Byrne & St. Vincent - "Who"



I'm really loving this collaboration. Can't wait to hear the album and see them live.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Video: Azealia Banks - "Liquorice"



Silly but fun video from Ms. Banks.

Video: Yeasayer - "Henrietta"



First video from Yeasayer's second album Fragrant World, released on August 21st. Yeasayer describe "Henrietta" as a vignette to take drugs to created by Yoshi Sodeoka (http://www.sodeoka.com/).

Jam of the Day: Clams Casino - "Bass (Instrumental Version)"



Crank this muthafucka up.

Album Review: A Place To Bury Strangers - Worship



A Place To Bury Strangers
Worship
Rating: Grrrr

A Place To Bury Strangers is similar to bands like The Ramones, AC/DC, or basically any punk band at all, not in terms of sound at all, but in terms of having an aesthetic and sticking to it. In contrast though, where some bands tend to repeat themselves ad nauseum, some, like APTBS, work more at subtly shifting their sound from record to record, providing their bread and butter tracks but surprising you with something new each time. APTBS' palate is always suitably dark; cavernous drums, ominous bass lines, and enough squalling, feedback heavy guitars to bring down city walls. And with song titles like "Alone," "Revenge," "Mind Control," and "Fear" you know it's not going to be a sunny walk in the park, but when you go to APTBS, you know what you are getting.

From the opening blasts of drums and air raid siren guitars, you are completely consumed within their world. Guitars slash and grind over each other on "Alone," singer Oliver Ackerman intoning the lyrics as if the grave is about to swallow him whole.



First single "You Are The One" drops in a brisk Peter Hook-esque bass line, but keeps the guitars coiled in the background, Ackerman's voice front and center. The guitars erupt in the middle of the track, kept in check by the relentlessly tight rhythm section.



Throughout Worship there is no dearth of tracks that will test the limits of your eardrums. From the aggressively brutal "Revenge,"



pop song trapped in the cloak of a feedback haze "Leaving Tomorrow,"



to the punishing attack of "Mind Control."



While 11 songs of this would be overkill, but still expected, it is to their credit that APTBS explores other avenues on Worship. On "Fear," guitars are used more texturally and accent the song rather than pummel one over the head.



"Dissolved" could almost be considered a ballad, with the storms of guitar feedback creating a window into the narrator's mind, before the song changes mid-point and becomes and almost poppy guitar pop song.



Title track "Worship" is dense and foreboding, but quietly creeps up on you rather than destroying you in a blitzkrieg.



Worship is not going to change any one's mind about APTBS. There is no great shift in their sound, no nods to Top 40 stardom, no dubstep explorations, and no highly-touted guest stars. It is simply 11 tracks of what APTBS does best, and does very well.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Video: Passion Pit - "Take A Walk"



The songs just keep coming off the upcoming new release from Passion Pit. Here is an official video for the track "Take A Walk."

Video: AlunaGeorge - "Just A Touch"



Sleek, b/w clip.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New: Azealia Banks - "Aquababe"



New track from Azealia Banks' upcoming mixtap Fantasea, coming out July 4. Originally produced by Eprom, it has been remixed by Machinedrum. It sounds like Missy Elliot cracked out at a rave.

Jam of the Day: Major Lazer ft. Amber Coffman - "Get Free (Andy C Remix)"



Cool, DnB reworking of this Major Lazer track.

New: Wild Nothing - "Shadow"



Gorgeous new track from Wild Nothing and their upcoming album Nocturne, due out in August.

Album Review: Man Without Country - Foe


Man Without Country
Foe
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Welsh duo Man Without Country (with a third man for live performances) are in a community of synth-pop/shoegaze acts that focus less on synth hooks and more on a broad cinematic sweep of lush synth washes. Bands like M83, Hooray For Earth, Bear In Heaven, and Delphic come to mind. In interviews the band describe their band name as referring to a feeling of not being connected. In keeping with this description, Man Without Country's debut album Foe is a hunting and gloomy batch of tracks that hold a fairly despairing view of humanity, relationships, and life in modern times. Although a reading of the lyric sheet can get a little depressing, thankfully the music is for the most part lush, with pulsating dance beats meant to bring you on the dance floor and not isolated in a headphones cocoon.

Foe starts out with the M83-esque title track, built on a bed of cascading keyboards and airy drum machines. The song, a bleak depiction of a Sisyphean life in the suburbs, features a bland, monotonous computer generated voice intoning bleak statements like "For every bomb that you defuse I will plant another," surrounding the track with an air of menace. The band uses this voice throughout the record as a touchstone for their themes of soulless despair.



Which leads into the rushing synths and beats of single "Puppets," whose driving force belies the lyrics of the track, singing about "The inability to think for yourself is all you've ever known" and that we are only a "prisoner in this place that you call home."



Elsewhere, Man Without Country pick up the beats again on "Closet Addicts Anonymous," a despairing view of a man's antagonistic relationship with his father; realizing that he will never get his father's love: "Before me you'll grow old/"I'll still be your scapegoat."



"Clipped Wings" is another gorgeously lush track swimming in a sea of sparkling synths, which again deflect that the song details a man haunted by a failed relationship. The chorus is stunningly moving. While the music of "Migrating Clay Pigeons" mirrors the narrator's descent into almost madness at the thought of being "Freed like a discarded fish/Unprofitable, too old to learn new tricks." The clamoring drums and sweeping synths battle against one another.



Before the beats and keyboard layering seem to get too much, Man Without Country know when to take things down a notch, providing a respite from the sonic fury. "Parity" is a simply beautiful track built on soft beds of synthesizers and piano, although once again the lyrics are quite sad, detailing a meaningless suburban existence: "The walls you decorate/Surround you everyday /The waste that you inhale/Dictates this empty space." And "Ebb & Flow" is a stunning mid-tempo track focusing on the artist's dilemma of whether to stay true to one's instincts or to sell-out. The narrator resigned, singing "I'm pale as a ghost/And its why I'm uninspired."



Foe is a solid release that only falters when the gloom gets a little too oppressive, or where the band attempts to focus on broader, less interesting themes, like the diatribe against a cheating lover, coming up with the almost ludicrous lyric "How can I send you shivers when you don't have a spine?" Or the attempt at Pet Shop Boys' style archness on the gossip rag bemoaning "King Complex," but with none of their trademarked wit. Overall though, I find myself consistently coming back to Foe, and enjoying it more and more. A little less gloom and some more polished lyrics should vault Man Without Country into higher reaches next time.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Video: Usher - "Scream"



New, dance-centered video from Usher's latest album Looking 4 Myself.

Video: School of Seven Bells - "The Night"



The little girl in this video is pretty amazing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jam of the Day: Man Without Country - "Puppets"



Lush, dense synth-pop from Welsh duo Man Without Country. Their debut album Foe is really solid.

Album Review: 2:54 - 2:54



2:54
2:54
Rating: Meh

Irish sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow make up 2:54, a band that skirts the line between Cure-like goth affectation, 4AD roster doom and gloom, and shoegaze shimmer. Produced by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey) and mixed by Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails), their debut 2:54 clicks off all the right boxes for me: dark and sinister guitar leads, swooning washes of shoegaze texture, and deep, haunted vocals. On paper, this record should be knocking it out of the park for me, but for some reason there is something holding me back from outright embracing it. Album opener "Revolving" starts out promisingly, ringing guitars buffer Colette's hushed vocals before a sweep of guitars swallows the track whole:



This promise, however, becomes immediately compromised when you begin to see that each song follows the same pattern, with little to no variation. Guitars slowly build, getting more layer as the track progresses, before cresting in waves and waves of shimmering guitar chords; and tracks rarely depart from the same 4/4 beat, which begins to drag the tracks into one another to where they are indistinguishable from each other. "You're Early," "Easy Undercover," and "A Salute" are so similar unless I was looking at my iPod for the song title, I couldn't tell them apart. Finally with "Scarlet" the tedium was momentarily broken. Using a more textural approach with their guitars, the sisters created a song bursting with tension and beauty.



Then it is right back to the 4/4 monotony with "Sugar" which blessedly flows into another more distinct track "Circuitry," whose guitars soar and moan around a throbbing bass line.



"Watcher" borrows from the Cure's use of treated guitars and could be a long-lost B-side, however, it still settles back into a listless groove.



2:54 were at least smart to include their first ever single "Creeping" as the closer to the album, gussying it up a bit with some cleaner production. The song still shows why there was a buzz to the band in the first place, with the guitars buzzing and sawing around Colette's dusky vocals.



2:54 have drawn some comparisons with their tour mates The xx and Warpaint, using similar stark guitar lines of the former and the sweeping grandeur of the latter. For some reason, those two bands are able to create more diversity in their tracks, overcoming any limitation with their setup. 2:54 seem to still be in the stage where they have found a "sound" they like, but aren't quite sure how to transform it and make it their own. For me, 2:54 is three great singles mixed in with a lot of filler. Thankfully, the three singles are brilliant enough to make me want to return to them again, hoping that they mix things up a bit in the future.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.