Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Album Review: Xerxes - Our Home is a Deathbed

Album Rating: A-
Emotional hardcore, as a genre, has seen its fair share of ups and downs these past five or so years.  Like many scenes of music, stagnation occurs when there really is no incentive for experimentation.  Added to that, there has even been a complete misunderstanding of the term emo, as anything with screamed vocals or emotional lyrics gets jumbled into the catch-all terminology.  But I digress.  Xerxes, as a band, make one care little about silly, misused tags that only distract from the music at hand.  There isn't a lot of progression in the scene?  Who cares.  Xerxes certainly don't, as their latest release Our Home is a Deathbed sees the band making exceptional music on their own terms.

Artist Spotlight: The Interstate Life

The Interstate Life is an interesting little project that consists of two guitarists, Giorgio Fareira and Tim Bittar. I think it's actually gained most of its renown not from their music itself, but the viral video featuring Giorgio at a Sonic drive-in. However, though many may fall in love with Giorgio's passion and carefree demeanor on the video, the real emotion is behind a demo recently released by The Interstate Life. For example, the first song on the demo, "Woe Is Me Without You," is one of the sweetest and truly most meaningful love songs I've ever heard, embodying heartbreak and the emptiness that couples with it only to, in the end, be a song sung to an Xbox. At first, I did a double-take. And then, slowly, I realized that the song made perfect sense, with lyrics like: "I'm turning you on / but you're shutting me down" and "I've been crying / Because I want you back / But I can't afford to make it work." The lyrics are pure genius, and the music that couples with it is really moving. The recording in lo-fi adds to how genuine the feeling behind it is, and how it really strikes to home. Definitely take a look at this little gem of indie rock, because there's sure to be more from The Interstate Life, and even in the fledgling stage, this band has mountains of promise in store for them.

You can listen to and pick up the demo on their Bandcamp.

Album Retrospective: Miniature Tigers - Fortress

Album Rating: B+
As soon as I heard the almost Hit The Lights esque opening lines of “Cannibal Queen” from the Miniature Tigers last album Tell It To The Volcano, I took a mental note not to get to attached to the band. While the album was superb and is probably the best treadmill album ever made, it was obvious to me that the band was going to sell out on their next record. I figured the only thing I would like about Fortress would be the cartoon boobs that grace the cover of the album. I thought Fortress would be splattered with Nickelback like lyricism and Hinder like musicianship. I thought the Miniature Tigers were going to be the biggest mainstream sellout we have seen in recent years. Fortress though is the complete opposite of being a sellout record and it is a vastly different record from Tell It To The Volcano. What do we have to thank for this? The power of drugs.

Interview With Eisley

Eisley released one of the better albums last year with The Valley, and with the recent release of Deep Space they show that the last thing they want to do is lose momentum. Eisley very happily took some questions from us at MuzikDizcovery, involving topics such as the personal tragedies leading up to The Valley, the difference between home recording and fancy studios, the differences between Eisley and other bands, a new LP in the works, and much more which you can read below.

Artist Spotlight: Josh Benash

Josh Benash was always the catalyst for the insanity of Eyeball Records band Kiss Kiss. The circus feel and the wide, chaotic instrumentation put the band on a level of theatrical wildness rarely heard since Cursive's The Ugly Organ. While part of the band has gone to the simple (albeit great) alternative rock band Hidden Hospitals, Benash's solo effort shows that he has lost none of his quirkiness. Benash shows no hesitation to be experiment or be weird, taking hints from Animal Collective ("My Little Noose") and noise-pop ("She Is Bad"), while also contributing the frontrunner for oddest song of the year with "The Pancake Song". The Dismal, The Beautiful is a case of Benash not being constrained by expectations or any other musical restraints, and while it may be one of the more hard to listen releases of the year so far, the pure strangeness of the album makes it worth listening to. You can stream and purchase The Dismal, The Beautiful on Benash's Bandcamp page, which you can find here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Live Review: Little Dragon/ Holy Other, 02 Academy Oxford, 26/02/12

I like surprises. The very act of catching you off-guard can make an experience more potent; more memorable. On arriving at the O2 Academy in Oxford in the hope of seeing Little Dragon - after dull bus journey, a 20 minute queue for tickets and several arguments with a cash machine - a surprise is just what I received. Half an hour in of alcohol consumption and discussion on the fact that choosing not to wear thick-rimmed glasses, ear tunnels and a cardigan actually placed you in the minority, someone quietly slipped up to the small array of equipment on the stage. Later, I’d learn that she went by the name of Holy Other. Now I’m not supposed to know her gender, she’s one of a breed of artists who prefer to let the music speak for itself, but based on my fine tuned knowledge of forearms (the rest of her body was cloaked in a black hoody reminiscent of the Nazgul from The Lord of the Rings), posture and how different genders use smileys on Facebook, it was kind of obvious. Take that as an exclusive: you heard it here first.

Album Retrospective: Miniature Tigers - Tell It To The Volcano

We know that our lives and the lives of the human beings around us are constantly changing. Over time economies change, technology changes, politics change and just about everything that can change changes drastically in a positive and negative way. One thing that seems to not change those is the apathy we human beings having towards working out. No matter how much the world around us changes and "progresses", it seems like working out will always be a bitch, and along with going to church will always just be something we say we are going to do but end up super sizing or fast food meals instead.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Album Retrospective: fun.- Aim and Ignite

Album Rating: A+
The classic pop album has died. No one knows the exact date of this occurrence: maybe it was when John Lennon gave up the ghost, maybe it was when our society was infected by the plague of disco, or maybe it was even when an angst ridden and awkwardly blond Thom Yorke screamed that "pop is dead" in the early 1990's. Even though we do not know exactly when the classic pop album died, it is quite easy to figure out why it died. It died because of technology that encourages musicians to just make one quality song instead of a quality album, it died because other genres of music became so much better, and hell, it died because pop music just isn't what it used to be.

Show Review: O'Brother/Junius Coheadlining Tour

The choice of venue can give both positive and negative consequences for a show. The choice of a tiny venue above a bar may have given a very large sense of intimacy for the crowd watching O'Brother, Junius and Black Clouds, but the other aspects were definitely harmed. The vocals were mixed way too low throughout the show for each of the bands, and the crowds were mostly calm and quiet. But all of the three bands showed off their superior music abilities and blew away everyone listening with their technical prowess.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live Review: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Newcastle Arena, 23/02/2011

It's taken a while, but now that the waters have finally settled following Oasis' acrimonious split it's pretty clear which Gallagher has emerged on top. While Liam has spent the past year toiling away in medium-sized venues with his mundane Beady Eye project, older brother Noel has dived straight into the arenas on his first full tour since the breakup, with this packed Newcastle date doing much to confirm that enduring popularity. The promise of old Oasis classics has no doubt helped his cause, but the same could be said of the runaway success of his Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds album, which kick-started a long overdue solo career back in October. As well as being met with a wave of critical approval, the record also achieved the improbable in that it toppled Adele from the summit of the UK's album chart, if only temporarily - and it was that success which rendered this show so much more than a mere nostalgia strip.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Craft Spells

Only three months into 2012, and already it is shaping up to be a pretty eventful year for Brookyln-based independent label Captured Tracks. Jack Tatum and Wild Nothing are getting ready to drop their sophomore full length, Beach Fossils is working on new material, and just yesterday, Craft Spells announced the release of a six track EP, entitled Gallery, due out May 15th. Like Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing and Dustin Payseur of Beach Fossils, Justin Vallesteros started Craft Spells within the confines of his bedroom. Vallesteros moved from California to Seattle following an overwhelmingly positive reaction to his first track, "Party Talk". In his bedroom in Seattle, with equipment borrowed from friends, Vallesteros recorded Craft Spells' debut album Idle Labor, released by Captured Tracks in March of 2011. Idle Labor was one of the strongest debuts of any act of last year, being a nearly flawless hazy barrage of catchy guitar melodies, beats, and fun, nostalgic songwriting. And now after a considerable amount of touring with his band that he formed to promote Idle Labor, Craft Spells have just released their first single following the debut, "Still Left With Me". The single features a much darker tone than the poppy whimsicality of songs such as "Scandinavian Crush" and "After the Moment", but still features a similar production to Idle Labor, despite the transition from bedroom to studio. But the change shown on the track is indeed promising, and makes Gallery easily one of my most anticipated releases of this year. "Still Left With Me" can be streamed from Captured Track's Soundcloud below:


Friday, February 24, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Born With Stripes

At a risk of sounding hyperbolic, it really is a long time since I've heard a song that's excited me as much as Born With Stripes' solitary tune 'You Stole The Laces From My Shoes.' It's not the song of the year, or even the month for that matter, but what it does succeed in is packing an optimal dose of unequivocal joy into two blissful minutes of pure guitar pop perfection. We're deep into February - by my reckoning the coldest, most miserable month of the entire year - and yet this sublime cut still managed to fill me not only with excitement ahead of the impending summer, but also the immense sense of optimism that comes with it.

Album Review: Maker - Mirrors

Album Rating: B+
If there's one thing worth taking away from Mirrors, the first full-length from Springfield, MA locals Maker, it's the young band's already obvious mastery of their craft and sound.  Every track found here resonates with the confidence and purpose of a band that's found their niche in the modern pop-punk scene, with the album as a whole easily meeting and exceeding the present-day standard.  Taking cues from tour-buddies in Crucial Dudes and The Story So Far, as well as drawing some obvious influence from now-defunct Jawbreaker and even early Brand New, Maker combine the vitality of passion-driven songwriting with the accessibility of beefed-up choruses, driving their product home with the familiarity and modesty of your favorite local band.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Album Review: Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

Album Rating: C+
For fans of drone, no band can beat out Earth in terms of prestige.  For the past several years the band has been a defining force in the genre, creating classics such as Earth 2 and Phase 3.  But after an extended (almost decade long) hiatus, Earth returned as if they'd never left.  However, with this advent came a shift in sound; a subtle attraction towards a more melodic presentation.  This has peaked with the band's one-two punch of Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light.

Album Review: Take One Car - It's Going To Be A Nice Day

Album Rating: A-
Take One Car writes music that embodies power, to say it in simple terms. They're a pretty simple band from upstate New York, just four guys making music, but what they accomplish in this respect is so much more than music. The new release is a great blend of alternative, indie rock, post-hardcore, and a nice dash of post-rock, balancing some heavy guitar riffing with a good portion of mysterious ambiance, and profoundly metaphorical lyrics reverberate throughout. It's Going To Be A Nice Day is broad enough to cover genre stereotypes and appeal to many, but their sound is ultimately a concentrated, perfected blend of aural pleasure that stimulates the senses and sets emotions reeling.

Album Review: Fighting Fiction - Fighting Fiction

Album Rating: B
With such a multitude of bizarre sounds and obscure genres prevalent in music nowadays, it can occasionally be refreshing to hear a band that revels in simplicity. With nay an innovative bone in their body, Fighting Fiction exemplify this approach to making music, but to this point their lack of creative expansion hasn't proved prohibitive in the slightest. They don't bother indulging in any forms of self-serving pretense or outlandish experimentation, they merely play the type of anthemic, heart-on-sleeve punk rock that they've presumably grown up enjoying, and for the most part it's a pretty great proposition for the rest of us too. Repeatedly delayed, yet no less welcome, this debut full-length provides an engrossing showcase of that back-to-basics ethic, and with a little luck could see the Brighton quartet become a big hit among those who share their ideology.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview With Jukebox The Ghost

Jukebox The Ghost has been slowly gaining popularity over the past few years or so. In addition to touring with Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies, the band also played on Letterman. They most recently wrapped up a tour with Jack's Mannequin, and are planning to release a new record in 2012. All of Jukebox The Ghost sat down with me at the penultimate date of their tour with Jack's Mannequin, and we discussed timetables for the new album, new quirks on the album, the differences between opening and headlining, the origin of donuts, and much more, which you can read below.

The Daily Blair: Who Is The Best Modern Musical President?

We all have strong opinions on who was the best President, who was the worst President, what Presdient really caused the current economic crisis, what President caused the Great Depression, who was the best economic President, who was the hottest President, what President was the best Commander-In-Chief, which President got laid the most, and the classic "which President was the best at getting stuck in the bathtub?" debate.

But I have never really heard a discussion or debate about who the best musical President is/was. Meaning I have never heard an argument about what President had the best albums come out during his tenure. So below I have compiled a list of the best albums to come out during each modern Presidents era (post World War II) and you get to decide who the best modern musical President is.*

*Best albums are all from*

1945: Bing Crosby: Merry Christmas
1946: Lester Young: Prez Conferences
1947: Charlie Parker: Bird & Diz
1948: Mitt Jackson: Mitt Jackson
1949: Lennie Tristano: Crosscurrents
1950: Edith Piaf: Chansons Des Cafes De Paris
1951: Thelonious Monk: Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1
1952: Hank Williams Sings: Hank Williams With His Drifting Cowboys

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Muzik Monday (2/20/12)

So, I loved the feature that Blair did two weeks ago so much that I'm turning this into a weekly thing. Hopefully we'll get a different staff member every week to make this post, so you get the variety that we usually have in  - Give Up The Ghost. Basically, we'll do little summaries of albums that have come out in the last few months that we're really digging lately. So just read and listen.

1. Hospitality - Hospitality
Early Rating: B
Check It Out

I hate to say it, but the only reason I checked out this album was due to the fact that it was released on Merge Records. But I guess it's really just proof that pretty much everything Merge puts out is worth listening to. Hospitality's debut record is fantastic. It's all you could ask for from female led indie-pop goodness, including the sweet vocals of Amber Papini, instrumentation including a wide variety of saxophones and horns, and an endless amount of catchy hooks. Tennis, Wild Flag, and The Dum Dum Girls all come to mind when listening to Hospitality, and it should be very easy for Hospitality to soon join that group of very noticeable acts.

Album Review: Memoryhouse - The Slideshow Effect

Album Rating: B
After dabbling in ambience and dream pop, it should come as no surprise that Toronto based band, Memoryhouse, have once again reinvented their craft...albeit only slightly.  And while the lush melodies and relaxed beats of The Years made for a wonderful release, the band displayed a need to project themselves further than the confines of the devisive "chillwave" scene allowed.  Thus, The Slideshow Effect came into being; an album that truly shows that Memoryhouse are indeed a band who are not afraid to explore and expand.

Album Review: Cheap Girls - Giant Orange

Album Rating: A-
It seems as if there is nothing all that extraordinary about Ian Graham and he perfectly well knows it.  Even now in fronting the third full-length from Lansing's Cheap Girls, Graham still chooses to wail out his stories and discontentment from the far side of the trio's never-waning sonic wall, knowing that the syllables he shouts will be as lost in the hazy production as he is in his own mind.  He did so all throughout Find Me A Drink Home, steadily distancing himself from the world around him but failing to sever the ties for good.  My Roaring 20's was but a reiteration of the same graceless shortcomings, this time camouflaged behind sunnier track titles and beefier choruses that maintained the self-destructive disposition of their predecessors.  Though it could have easily picked up where album-ending confessional 'One & Four' left off, Giant Orange comes off as the optimistic counterpart to more jaded previous offerings.  And wouldn't you know it, sunny is a damn good color for Cheap Girls.

Album Review: Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

Album rating: A-
Her work may have passed largely under the radar to date, but there can be no doubting that Brooklyn songwriter Sharon Van Etten has assembled an impressive assortment of admirers. Indeed it would be rather easy to mistake the credits for this third LP as a roll call of modern indie royalty, with Justin Vernon, Sufjan Stevens and every member of The National receiving nods among many others, while the latter’s Aaron Dessner also handles production duties. Critics will no doubt argue that such name checking equates to little more than a well-connected promotional ploy, but upon repeat listening to Tramp it becomes clear that she's gathered such an illustrious book of contacts purely through artistic merit.

The Daily Blair: Monday Fun Day

Below is a transcript of a conversation between myself and our fearless leader Casey Whitman about the new fun. album Some Nights. We discussed the bands new modern sound, the albums breakthrough potential, the detractors of the album, the future of the band, and if Some Nights will be the best album of 2012.

Casey Whitman: So, the new fun. album has gotten some mixed opinions. The album definitely has a new sound than the old one, especially from the instrumental and production standpoint. At least that's my opinion. What do you think?

Blair Chopin: People always give bands a tough time when they change a successful sound. Kid A was just noise but two years later was a classic album, The Age of Adz was "stupid" but now it is stupid enough to define a generation, and Sgt. Pepper's was hippie garbage but now most people think it is the greatest album of all time. So people just take time to adjust to sounds, especially when a band is changing from a successful sound. No one is arguing that Aim and Ignite was a classic album. People need to realize that this album is Magic Johnson playing center and not Michael Jordan playing baseball. It might be different, but it is still just as good and if not better as the old version of fun. The album is basically a modern Aim and Ignite, and that means that fun. is probably going to be one of the biggest bands in the world. And we need more bands with the talent of fun. in the mainstream.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Live Review: Brand New, O2 Academy Newcastle, 16/02/2012

Oh what I'd have given to see Brand New two years ago... It's not that I think they've gone downhill, or that they've even grown off me, but nowadays I just don't feel the ritualistic need to listen to their music every single day as I used to. Each of their songs still lies permanently ingrained inside my head, and although the love affair continues it's fair to say that the phase where I was completely reliant upon them has passed. Still, two years late or not, Thursday night finally marked my first live experience of one of my favourite bands - although I must admit I went into it with more than a little pessimism. Would their performance still have the same effect on me as it would have 24-months ago? Would their setlist place too much emphasis on certain corners of their discography, and most importantly, would they be able to match the immense emotional impact of their studio recordings?

Album Review: Pepe Deluxé - Queen of the Wave

Album Rating: A
A Dweller on Two Planets and its sequel, An Earth Dweller’s Return, were released to bewildered readers in the early 20th century and soon gathered a rather niche cult following, mostly due to surreal nature of both books and the bizarre instances surrounding their creation. Work started on the first book when a child genius’ hand was possessed by a dark power, forcing him to write continuously until the feeling slowly ebbed away (a convincing story, I know). These initial demonic scribblings soon evolved into a tale of futuristic technology, black magic, heroes and villains: all set, for the most part, in the mystical, aquatic city of Atlantis. On discovering these books, Pepe Deluxe took the only logical step in deciding that they were perfect material for a pop-opera concept album. The result is Queen of the Wave, the most ambitious and aggressively bizarre album we’re likely to see this decade. Confining itself to only the key points in the story, instead choosing to focus on indulging in the sheer madness of the source material, Queen of the Wave demonstrates Pepe Delux at their best: splicing an alarming multitude of genres while keeping a renowned sense of charm and narrative.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Wild Nothing

Brooklyn based independent label Captured Tracks is currently the home to some of the most interesting and prominent bands in modern jangly, shoegazy whateverness. Wild Nothing, the brainchild of Virginian Jack Tatum is probably the most notable of these groups, amongst peers such as Beach Fossils and Craft Spells. The band's 2010 debut Gemini, recorded by only Tatum alone in his bedroom, was released to much critical acclaim, and is personally amongst my top favorite albums of the past five years. Tatum's catchy, nostalgic pop tunes such as "Summer Holiday" and "Chinatown" simply demanded to be played nonstop and stole the hearts of C86 fans everywhere. And now Tatum and company have returned with a new track from Wild Nothing's currently untitled sophomore effort, titled "Nowhere", accompanied by "Wait" as a b-side, to be officially released on vinyl on February 21. Listening to the two tracks makes it very apparent what changes the band has gone through. The leap from bedroom to studio was definitely more than enough to bring Wild Nothing to the next stage in their evolution, adopting a more twee sound, with the help of Twin Sister's Andrea Estrella. It sounds a lot like the music of Craft Spells and Beach Fossils has rubbed off a fair amount on the band, adopting similar production styles. It is still not entirely clear what Wild Nothing is going to pull off on their second album, but the follow up to Gemini is personally one of my most (if not my most) anticipated release of 2012.

Check out Wild Nothing on Facebook.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Album Review: Cursive - I Am Gemini

Album Rating: A
Cursive is one of those bands that has thrived through a couple of generational musical shifts, editing their sound and adapting it to reflect their own personal lives. A couple of stops along the way were the instrumentation around cellist Gretta Cohn in The Ugly Organ, to the facade of perfection portrayed on Happy Hollow. However, I Am Gemini absolutely tops all of those prior releases. The album is ominously light, and airily dark. Lyrically, there are many references to angels, demons, and detailed metaphors to suit the mood perfectly. Musically, the album is wonderfully creative, with each song being individualistic, but blending into one another with immaculate ease, to a place where the separation of tracks is undifferentiable, or more so, unimportant. I Am Gemini brings a whole new Cursive to the table, and with it, a perverse tragedy that redefines the detail and beauty of the concept album.

Live Review: Dropkick Murphys, Glasgow Barrowlands, 11/02/2012

Everyone has a touchstone band - one that truly turned them onto music and thus changed their life forever - and for me, that band was Dropkick Murphys. First introduced through my dad back in 2005, that first listen to The Warrior's Code began a chain reaction which eventually led me to current favourites such as For Emma, Forever AgoThe Midnight Organ Fight and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. My listening habits have changed almost beyond recognition along the way, but the Boston punks remain firmly among my favourites, and in a family where any given note can cause a scrap they're a rare example of a band that we all share a complete undying love for. With no Newcastle date, then, a Welford clan visit north of the border was on the cards, with Glasgow's famous Barrowlands Hall providing the venue. Drunk Scots, Celtic punk and seven foot giants in kilts; what better way to spend a weekend?!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Album Review: Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters - Underrated Silence

Album Rating: B
There’s something quite ironic in how this pairing have chosen to title their release. Ulrich Schnauss, a man more than qualified in the art of straining lo-fi electronics through a fine, shoegaze mesh, and Mark Peters, himself a guitarist in the shoegazing outfit “The Engineers”, are not people you would initially expect to enjoy silence. Not least because their profession rotates about disturbing this “Underrated Silence”, especially with shoegaze as a whole often expanding to fill every quiet gap available.

Ignoring the title, the album develops just as you’d expect considering the musicians’ previous works. Soft, rich synthesisers create a warm backdrop: layers so thick and distorted they tend to spill into each other, forming a fluid, ever changing ground with which the melodies can interact. Peter’s guitar takes centre stage: calmly progressing atop each piece, rippling in the haze beneath it. Percussion discretely persists in the background; vocal samples emerge from the void only to sink back in again. “Underrated Silence” is nothing if not lazy, with its tracks quietly waltzing into climax, and their tones so impossibly optimistic.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frenchy's New Muzik Monday (2/13/12)

Here’s some new music for y’all to take in. Just a quick warning though: it’s not all immediately accessible (especially Sigh) and one of the songs is 2 years old, but I’m sure many of you are unfamiliar with it so I’m posting it regardless. Enjoy!

Burial - Kindred
Stream here

Firstly, let’s start off with a song so fresh that it still has that brand-new car scent. You’ll all no doubt have heard of Burial by now. Letting all of us become familiar once more with Dubstep’s presence in 2007 via Untrue, Burial helped us get in touch with a genre we almost forgot existed and has since been satiating the craving for those pining to hear more of his signature style of Dubstep through the release of EPs. Somehow (almost impossibly) redefining a sound that was already redefined, “Kindred” (song and EP) sounds like it’s charting new territory, fleshing out Burial’s brooding side and focusing heavily on atmosphere. On an EP with songs that constantly meander, “Kindred” is decidedly the most straightforward of the three. The other two are available for stream right below “Kindred”, assuming you like said song.

The Daily Blair: The Ultimate Album Theory

I have always had a huge problem with greatest hits albums because they are rarely anything more than just a simple collection of hit songs. Greatest Hits albums do not have the flow of a studio album, they do not have the unique feel of a studio album, and they often struggle to gain any momentum. Greatest Hits albums are usually made when the band or the artist needs money badly, when a record company is desperately trying to squeeze some money out of an artist, and when an artist or a band has absolutely no new material. I have always thought we should call them "Greatest Quits" albums.

But I have come to accept that not everyone enjoys music the same way I do. A good percentage of people would get a bands greatest hits before they picked up everyone of the bands albums because this saves them not only time but money. Greatest Hits have become the logical listen in our culture of immediacy. We have to accept that not everyone wants to go through a bands discography, not everyone feels obligated to write every day on a blog, not everyone cares enough to put every album in historical context, and sometimes Greatest Hits albums are the best way to Dizcover new Muzik.

MuzikDizcovery Exclusive: Take One Car - Brim + MuzikDizcovery Recreation

We at MuzikDizcovery are extremely happy at premier a brand new song by Take One Car. "Brim" is the fourth track off their upcoming record It's Going To Be A Nice Day, out February 21st. Unlike first single "Ronnie", "Brim" shows a heavier and more atmospheric part of Take One Car, which is probably the style that the band does best.

We also have a MuzikDizcovery Recreation of the same song! The band strips down with acoustic guitars, bells, shakers, and more to highlight a side of the band that we don't normally see. While the recreation is as far from the original song as can be, the band pulls it off amazingly, displaying even more the immense talent that the band possesses. You can listen to the original track and watch the recreation below, and post your thoughts in the comments on the song, as well as which version you prefer.

Listen to "Ronnie" on the band's Bandcamp, and "like" their Facebook for updates on when a full stream of the album may happen.

Album Review: Tennis - Young & Old

Album Rating: B-
Husband and wife duo Tennis seems to have trouble giving their albums fitting release dates. For the second year in a row, the group has released a full length in the cold of winter. For being a band whose debut was based on experiences during a sailing expedition, winter just seems like the entirely wrong season to release a record. But while Cape Dory barely lasted in peoples' minds by the time the leaves appeared on the trees, the improvements in Young & Old should allow the record to finally last until beach towels go on to the sand and community pools are filled with families waiting to cool off from the blistering sun.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Album Review: Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose

Album Rating: B+
At this point in the year, one might go so far as to say that Beth Jeans Houghton is a rather masterful tease artist.  The 2011 release of singles 'Dodecahedron' and 'Liliputt' catapulted Houghton and her ever-loyal backing from The Hooves of Destiny directly into the spotlight of British and American critics alike, with an indefinite release date allowing listeners plenty of time to immerse themselves in the tracks before offering them any more.  Alas, almost an entire year after the release of the record's front-running single, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose arrives in full to sate the palates of eager listeners.  Worth the wait in every which way, YT,CN is an eccentric and elegant journey through the quirky musical mind of Beth Jeans Houghton herself.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Eli's Best Extended Plays of 2011

I know, I know.  I'm a bit late to the party, especially considering I wasn't even going to talk about last year's EPs.  But in revisiting some of 2011's best extended play records, I could not sit idle by without telling everyone how exceptional last year was in regards to high quality EPs.  If you haven't picked any of these up, it goes without saying that they come highly recommended, and make for great listens before 2012 really heats up.  So, without furth ado...

Album Review: Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll

Album Rating: B
After years of watching the band go through what can only be described as an unnatural progression, I've come to realize that I hope Foxy Shazam never, ever changes.  The glitz and glam of the once post-hardcore unit has become a delight to hear across the past two albums: a bold and impressive meshing of classic rock with modern aesthetics.  And For those worried that lead singer Eric Nally and co. would tone things down, rest assured, The Church of  Rock and Roll is just as flamboyant and bombastic as one would expect...and hope.

Artist Spotlight: Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services

If you’re anything like me, you spend your nights wondering just how you’re going to get your hands on all the juicy electronic music packed onto a limited number of old, likely damaged cassettes. I mean, where’s the justice in it all? A huge swathe of the best musical decades isolated from our filesharing utopia because no one thought that maybe storing the only copy of your works on a flimsy reel of tape was a bad idea. Perhaps this worries you or, like me, makes you violently angry and places you at risk of multiple panic attacks.

Well panic no more! A man going by the name of “The Head Technician” has come to the conclusion that the best use of his time is to seek out, trawl through and begin the long process of transferring old cassettes to digital format. The cream of the crop are then uploaded in volumes to Bandcamp, where they can be streamed or purchased at your leisure. Tracks usually revolve around house, techno, idm and ambient; echoing the glory days of 80/90's electronic music. 

The 3rd Volume was released on the 23rd of January, 2012, and can be found here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Daily Blair: NO - Don't Worry You'll Be Here Forever

Album Rating: B+
Last Valentine's Day was one of the best days of my life. For most people this means roses, fine wine, and sex on top of a table were you put your fine wine and your roses. But for a guy like me the best Valentine's Day ever consisted of Radiohead announcing they were releasing The King of Limbs in five days. For me this was as exciting as having to spend $500 on a women just for and a few minutes of awkward pleasure would ever be. I had fallen head over heels in love with the Radiohead classics (Ok Computer, Kid A, and In Rainbows) like a normal person fell in love with another human being, I had waited for the next Radiohead album like a fat girl waits for Channing Tatum to magically pop out of a cake and propose to her, and I had dreamed of new Radiohead the way normal people dream of love at first sight. I guess the love of music (or muzik) had always kind of been more important than any other kind of "normal" love. Because the love of music was always unconditional, it was always a positive experience, it was always honest, and it was always something to logical to put in one damn greeting card or in the purchase of a few withering roses. Good music was always tangible, consistent, and borderline orgasmic. It was always the perfect Valentine.

Album Review: Mark Lanegan - Blues Funeral

Album Rating: A-
Obviously this is subjective rather than set in stone, but I for one can't recall a single album that Mark Lanegan has been associated with being anything less than great. He may still be tagged as a grunge legend by some, but he's become so much more than that, with 27 years of prolific creativity behind him, which have included collaborations with artists as diverse as Isobel Campbell and Greg Dulli. For many, though, the one-time Screaming Trees frontman is most in his element when going it alone - an assertion supported by this seventh LP, which comes as yet another fine addition to his consistently excellent solo discography.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Hightide Hotel

2011 was a tough year for the emo scene.  Within a span of just months, Joie De Vivre, Grown Ups, and beloved twinkle-kings Snowing all bade their adieus to the community, prompting neck-bearded basement-dwellers all over America to be that much more bummed out.  But amongst the sadness and turmoil lurked a much-overlooked release from Philadelphia's Hightide Hotel, a collective that had established itself in the lower echelons of the emo community via Nothing Was Missing, Except Me, a stellar debut full length dropped back in 2010, with 2011 witnessing the release of follow-up Secret Somethings: Vol. 2.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Album First Look: Take One Car - It's Going To Be A Nice Day

Take One Car's sophomore full length It's Going To Be A Nice Day is going to get them noticed. The entire massive (64 minutes long!?) effort brings together the best of O'Brother, Moving Mountains, mewithoutYou, and Manchester Orchestra, creating a multi-genred spectacle. The ambient parts of Moving Mountains dominate the instrumental title track, but this post-rock based track isn't an indicator of the sound for the entire album. First single "Dear Ronnie" is probably the most accessible track, combining the rock feel of Manchester Orchestra with the poetic lyrics and flow of Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou.  But Take One Car is the strongest when they move towards a heavy, almost post-metal style. The second half of "Yet Another Voyage (Adrift)" is one of the most emotionally draining portions of music I've heard so far in this young year, the brutal riffs only giving a slight warning to Tyler Irish's growing intensity in his voice, peaking at the brutal screams towards the end of the track. In a year so far dominated by cutesy indie pop and indie folk records, the heavy emotional storm from It's Going To Be A Nice Day is surely needed. With the apocalypse (no promises) on its way, the post-apocalyptic album of the year has already come.

Stream Dear Ronnie and download the band's debut (for free!) on Bandcamp, and keep checking back for a new song premier and MuzikDizcovery Recreation of that same track in the next week or so. It's Going To Be A Nice Day is out on February 21st.

Album Review: mmpsuf - Retina

Album Rating: A-
“Dedicated to the Beauty (no matter how sad)”

As a reviewer, my role as a cog in the music-entertainment industry is always made more meaningful, and a damned sight more interesting, when an album presents itself as something to be explored. Suddenly, reviewing becomes assessment: an album can be discussed, explained and interpreted on top of simply being described. It becomes a critique of art instead of what can so often amount to a glorified sales pitch. To condense these last few lines into a few words: the repressed academic inside me grins like the smug, sorry and sordid nerd that it is.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Daily Blair: New Muzik Monday (2/6/12)

Some new music for your Monday. Enjoy!

1. Telekinesis - 12 Desperate Straight Lines
Early Rating: B+
Check It Out

12 Desperate Straight Lines
is a great reminder that desperation does not have to mean depression. Even though the album is filled with songs about desperation, car crashes, broken hearts, death, and "getting it right" the album is never really depressing because of the bands unique and aggressive sound. Each song sounds like a cool combination of the songwriting of Built To Spill, the instrumentation of the Strokes, Led Zeppelin, and The Killers, the gigantic arena rock choruses of Arcade Fire and Queen, and the unique subject matters not even presented in most concept albums. It is an album that says "even though I just lost my love I am desperate to find another lover" with every aggressive guitar riff, it is an album that says "I might have just got in a terrible car crash but I am desperate to have a second chance at life" with every witty and condescending lyric, it is an album that says "even though I am dead I am desperate to go to the next life" with every earth shattering chorus, and it is an album that leaves us desperate for more Telekinesis. It is an album of unique and hopeful desperation that seems to be lost in the depressed world of 2012.

Album Review: The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know

Album Rating: B
I’m an avid admirer of pretty much anything that the wind swept hills of Scotland can muster, but I must admit I’ve often found The Twilight Sad to be a bit of a drag. They may be among the most acclaimed acts of the current crop, but for me, at least, there’s always been an uninviting aspect to their music which has rendered it largely impenetrable. The dense and noisy soundscapes that they’ve specialised in until now have been nothing if not accomplished, but at the same time have done very little to persuade me into revisiting them.

Album Review: A Place To Bury Strangers - Onwards To The Wall EP

Album Rating: A-
Post-punk revival may not be as common as it was in the early and mid 2000's, but that doesn't mean the wave is over. A Place To Bury Strangers is out to prove that that post-punk still lives with their screaming new EP. The record features many of the same qualities the band is well known for, with plenty of screaming distortion and drive to squeeze the most out of this ever-so-short EP. With plenty of retro instrument tones to spare, APTBS tips their hat to bands of the 80's and gives us one hell of a release to turn our speakers down (or up) at with the Onwards To The Wall EP.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Album Review: The Minutes - Marcata

Album Rating: B
Last summer, in the midst of a lull during the second day of Leeds Festival, I found myself wandering between tents looking for a band to pass the time with before the Deftones took to the main stage. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I finally wound up on the tiny BBC Introducing Stage, on which a little known Irish trio called The Minutes were busy making a name for themselves. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they were the best band that I saw that weekend, but they were by far the loudest, and if nothing else that ensured that the bluesy rockers made quite an impression. Now, almost six years since their formation, the Dubliners are finally unveiling their debut LP, and the biggest compliment that I can give is that it fully lives up to such raucous showings.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Album First Look: Cursive - I Am Gemini

Honestly, the thing that stood out the most to me when I first received and listened to Cursive's brand new album I Am Gemini was the way the lyric booklet was organized. All the lyrics for the album were organized in the manner of a Shakespearian play, with character dialog, acts, scenes, and even stage directions. That should simply give a little insight into what the band planned for I Am Gemini. It's an epic story, and the full effect of the album can not be felt without the organization of the liner notes. However, the music throughout the record is extremely impressive. You can feel the story progressing through the music, such as the demonic entrance of the guitars in opening track "This House Alive", the circus-like synth lines in "Twin Dragon/Hello Shadow", and the explosively spastic guitars in "A Birthday Bash". This is an album that is a necessity to have a physical with, because the organization of the story can not be understood without the plot placed in front of you. Without them, the album goes from creatively groundbreaking to merely another great Cursive record, which I'm sure plenty of people are definitely excited to hear. I Am Gemini is released on February 21st, and you can follow the band's activities on their Facebook page here.

Album Review: Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

Album Rating: D+
Here at Muzik Dizcovery HQ, our briefing from noble leader King Casey is to provide coverage to artists that we support, whether they be major or unsigned, stadium-fillers or buskers. Little more than a week ago, those were criteria I felt absolutely certain that Lana Del Rey would fit into, but now that Born To Die has finally dropped I'm not so sure. The reasoning behind the initial enthusiasm is obvious, what with 'Video Games' being among the finest singles in recent memory and successors 'Off To The Races' and 'Born To Die' doing little to curb anticipation. Everything seemed set for the 25-year old's major label debut to rank among the highlights of 2012 - certainly in the pop calendar - but instead we have a situation where it's a front runner for the biggest disappointment gong.