Thursday, March 29, 2012

Album Review: The American Dollar - Awake In The City

Album Rating: A
The American Dollar is two guys in New York City, creating music amidst the rush and sounds of living in a busy place. Coupled with their own musical influences, it seems that a lot of their inspiration is the city itself. Most of their album art is relevant to living in a metropolis that burns bright, and the music on this particular album really reflects that. Awake In The City is a beautiful compilation of songs that help to reveal a new side of New York, and a strain in music that is rarely seen - music with real beauty. John Emanuele and Richard Cupolo harness their surroundings, their own musical prowess, and the tools they have available to them in order to create a truly beautiful record, packed with emotion. In a city known for business, power, and people, Emanuele and Cupolo show the listener a city with heart, emotion, and life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Album Retrospective: William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops I-IV

Album Rating For All Four: A+
It seems mad to me that music comprised of simple loops can become a mesmerising celebration of death; let alone that the music to do this would come into existence entirely by accident. The origin story of The Disintegration Loops is one that passed to legend and then to myth, and what must have started as fact now seems buried under romantic hyperbole. The story goes that in the process of converting his old magnetic tapes to digital format, Basinski noticed that his tapes had begun to literally fall apart. For some unknown and morbid reason he allowed it to happen and as he sat there on his roof in Brooklyn on September 10th, 2001, his tapes began to take on a life of their own. The painstakingly beautiful loops composed to echo the endearing qualities of nature began to die. While hard to notice at first, the loops slowly distort and decay until - under a sea of static silence - they draw their final breath.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Danielle Fricke

It could be that I'm a complete sucker for all that is gentle on the ears and musically adorable, but there really is nothing to dislike about the musical side of Danielle Fricke.  Borne on wavelengths a la Laura Stevenson or Molly Erin Sarle of folk-trio Mountain Man fame, Fricke's music speaks true to the individual soul.  Hello Little World, with its delicate and subtle intricacies, fuses the loneliness of a Walden Pond winter with the heartfelt innocence of the most gentle of creatures.  Unabashedly simplistic and bare-boned, Fricke's songwriting rings true of simpler times and pure humanity.  Allow yourself to get lost in the deep echoes of 'Your Ghost (Part II)', or let your mind swim blithely along with the warming do-do-do's of 'Springtime' - Hello Little World is a record worth enjoying on the rainiest of afternoons or the most pristine of mornings.  Spend a half an hour with Danielle and her guitar, and afford yourself the chance to truly appreciate the simpler things.

Hear all of Hello Little World on Danielle's Bandcamp.

Album Review: Spraynard - Exton Square

Album Rating: A-
As mentally advanced human beings, many of us tend to over-think things. Most non-human animals are assumed to be fairly simpleminded in comparison, as their only concern is to survive; they think for the moment, while we humans project and calculate for the future. “Will my life be worth it in the end?” “Will I ever be happy?” These are just two of many questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. Luckily, Spraynard are here with their newest EP, Exton Square, to shed some light on humanity’s dilemmas. Essentially, the band’s message is to put your worries aside and simply do what you can: lend your friends a hand when needed, don’t let some stupid girl ruin your life, and most importantly, always try, no matter how worn down you get.

Album Review: TS & the Past Haunts - Gone and Goner

Album Rating: A
The past few years have been a busy time for ex-Piebald front man Travis Shettel. After a few years of inactivity, he’s back in the spotlight. In 2010, Rise Records took it upon themselves to rerelease much of Piebald’s catalogue, resparking interest in the group, a pop rock band from a few years ago (if you are unfamiliar with them, I highly recommend checking them out). Shettel reintroduced himself to the world through a guest spot a year later on Aficionado’s “Honesty,” an impressive display that greatly heightened my anticipation for his full length release Gone and Goner. The album was to be released with supporting “The Past Haunts,” a group consisting of husband and wife Ben and Heather Heywood. Released through No Sleep Records, the debut LP is an eclectic yet fantastic collection of songs that are distinctly their own.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Album Review: Rise and Fall - Faith

Album Rating: B
Rise and Fall have been wandering around the hardcore scene for a number of years, pumping out a few fine pieces along the way.  However, nothing the band has ever done has really nailed it; records that scratch one's harcore itch, but not much aside from that.  Yet beneath this passable veneer has laid dormant a fervent energy just ready to rupture forth.  This deep seeded passion is Faith, the band's latest, and quite possibly greatest release.

New Muzik Monday 3/26/2012

So, here we are at the end of March, and despite a fine start to this month, you still get the overwhelming feeling that 2012 hasn't really kicked into gear yet. That in itself is disappointing, but April and May promise much with some of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year, and it's tasters from those - as well of a pair of records already unveiled - which have dominated my listening over the past few days.

HIGH ON FIRE - De Vermis Mysteriis

This Californian trio have been among the leading lights in the sludge scene for quite a few years now, but this sixth LP could be their finest moment yet. Kurt Ballou's distinctive sharp production techniques add an extra edge to Matt Pike's thick barrage of riffs, while the bands songwriting is among their hardest-hitting to date. Stream it here!

Album Preview: Sigur Ros - Valtari

It's not often that I get so excited for a new release that the prospect of waiting two short months has me writhing in painful anticipation.  However, Sigur Ros has that sort of effect on me.  After hearing of the band's reunion from their rather curt hiatus, I--as well as music fans world wide--was entranced by the notion that everyone's favorite Icelandic band could pump out an album as early as 2012.  A longshot, yes, but it was something to hope for.  Yet after last years live DVD, Inni, Sigur Ros announced its return to the studio, promising a return to a more "ambient" sound, a la (  ).

Not only a new album, but one akin to perhaps their best?  Surely this is too good, right?  Well, to make things even sweeter, the band has also announced the album name, as well as the release date.  Even better still is a preview of an upcoming song.

Yes that's right.  Not only has Sigur Ros returned, giving us a new album, but it's sooner than one would think.  In two months we will have Valtari gracing our ears.  But you don't have to wait till then to get a taste.  Click here to sample a track, and let the always beautiful sounds of Sigur Ros take you away.

'Ég Anda'
'Ekki Múkk'

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Album Review: Burdens - Blind World. Savage Death.

Album Rating: B+
Simply calling Blind World. Savage Death. a hardcore release would be doing it a slight injustice;  Burdens’ six song soundtrack to an agonizing death is just as clever musically as it is forceful and haunting.  Much like Manners’ most recent EP, Apparitions, Blind World. Savage Death. proves that music that is dark by nature can still be fun as hell.  In only a thirteen minute time span, the listener is pounded with tumultuous waves of guitar effects and brooding bass lines as Chris Evans powerfully delivers the dialogue to his suffering.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Album Review: Blood Red Shoes - In Time To Voices

Album Rating: B
When considering musical evolution, we often assume that progression and improvement are two notions which go hand in hand. In reality, though, their relationship is far more complicated, something that Brighton rockers Blood Red Shoes have exemplified since their formation eight years ago. The duo - guitarist Laura Mary Carter and drummer Simon Ansell - have clearly made huge strides in their time together, and yet it's difficult to make a case for them having become a better band. 2010's sophomore album Fire Like This provided a perfect demonstration, with heightened ambitions and stronger individual performances ultimately counting for little when push came to shove. Although the expansions to their sound were almost unanimously successful, there were nevertheless a handful of instances where they reverted to type, banging out songs which while by no means bad came as little more than Blood Red Shoes-by-numbers. Even more troublesome, though, was the fact that the record lacked the type of energetic kick which made predecessor Box Of Secrets such an exhilarating listen. For all its positive traits - and there were plenty - Fire Like This represented more of a sidestep than a telling advance, and that's something which also holds true on follow-up In Time To Voices.

Interview With Ambassadors

Coming out of Brooklyn, Ambassadors is a rising indie-rock band that play more than just the usual brand of indie rock. Influences from blues, rock and roll, electronic, and many other musical styles are all merged together in Ambassadors' music. The band is finishing up a tour with Lights, and the band sat down with us at MuzikDizcovery near the beginning of the tour to discuss the band's brand new record, playing in a band with a brother, how they got hooked up with Lights, one-off headlining shows, and much more which you can read below.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Artist Spotlight: God Is An Astronaut

You've probably seen all of the coverage I've done for God Is An Astronaut here on Muzik Dizcovery. At this point, you should know that they are a particular favorite of mine. They've been quite busy lately too, going on European tours and supporting themselves by playing TONS of shows. But, possibly the most exciting development from the band is a full collection of their discography thus far, in honor of their 10th year as GIAA. To make this deal even sweeter, each of their albums has been revamped and remastered, so that the records you're buying from them are records they can presently say they are truly proud of. I was able to get my hands on the collection recently, and it sounds fantastic. From The End of the Beginning all the way up to the self-titled, many little things have been tweaked, as well as much more prominent changes, such as synths boosted and more roundly balanced in general. Beautiful revamping on the earlier releases create such a difference that they have become equal to the fine, studio quality mixes on Age of the Fifth Sun. If you've ever listened to God Is An Astronaut before, these are definitely worth picking up. Not only are they collectible, but the entire listening experience has been altered for the better. And, if you've haven't listened to GIAA before, there has never been a more impeccable time to do so.

You can obtain digital and physical copies of the CDs on their store.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Album Review: Sharks - No Gods

Album Rating: A-
Having played alongside bands such as the Gaslight Anthem, Gallows, and Crime in Stereo, Sharks are by no means newcomers to the music scene.  However, it is hard for a band to truly establish themselves without first having a full length album under their belt. This was the case for the English punk rockers in Sharks up until the recent release of their debut LP, No Gods: a lighthearted and thoughtfully-written album that confirms the talent demonstrated by Sharks’ on their two previous EPs.  The band’s driving and undeniably charming brand of accessible punk (more suitably called alternative on this release) proves that they are not trying to be anything other than what they are: four guys brought up on punk music looking to return the favor.

Album Review: Elias - Fossils

Album Rating: B
The only way a review for Fossils could ever lead is to one of constant comparison. Between an introverted mind and a desire for anthems; between European and American ideas of how a song should be built; between what a band are and what they should be. In part, this constant back-and-forth can be attributed as growing pains for a band teetering into the limelight, but it’s hard not to believe that the band haven’t matured enough already. Fossils is a brilliant album, with flashes of the kind of true excellence you’d expect from a band in their prime, but too often a whole song is unravelled by a weak chorus or lifeless production.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interview With I Call Fives

I Call Fives is one of those younger bands out there bringing the good name back into pop punk. While they lean towards the poppy side, they keep enough energy and honesty to put them well within the praised category of bands. Bassist Drew from the band took some time during their recording process to talk to us at MuzikDizcovery, where we talked about the band's brand new 7", recording with Paul Leavitt, the Pure Noise Records tour, their special one-off show with All Time Low, and much more which you can read below.

Artist Spotlight: Cory Johnson

A creative fellow named Cory Johnson decided that post-rock was a pretty cool genre to experiment with, and set about writing post-rock covers of non-post-rock songs. What he brings us is an interesting collection of various themes from the video game series The Legend of Zelda. Originally a series of either somewhat low quality electronic mixings or recorded from real instruments and converted into low quality audio files, Johnson sheds some new light on these themes from some of Shigeru Miyamoto's most famous video games and breathes a reinvigorated light into them. What he has available to the public as of now is a collection of instrumental demos for free stream, released last August with a promised update for a true release in April. When in April? Who knows. The important thing is the development, the process, the love that goes into such a project like this. Inspiration is a fantastic thing, and we draw it from wherever we can in order to bring different creative works of art like this little gem. It might seem slightly unpolished as of now, but give it time - this jewel will shine. Johnson covers the themes with enough compulsive accuracy to ensure that he hits all of the important bases with finessed subtlety, yet spins them with emotionally-impacted artistry that gives them their unique glamour and sheen. Keep an eye out for the release, I have no doubts that it'll bring even more to the plate than the currently available demo.

You can listen to the demo on Johnson's Bandcamp.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Strange Choices: New Muzik Monday (3/19/12)

Mondays are for new music, so here're 6 new, good releases that I've been sitting back to this past week. Clicking on the subheadings will take you to bandcamp pages, facebook, streams or wherever else is most convenient for the internet.

Thrupence - Voyages EP
I have a large segment of my heart devoted to the kind souls that allow me to download their music for any price I want or, as the majority immediately think, for free. This segment is especially big when they make beautifully saturated, downtempo electronic music that works equally as well as something to lose yourself in and as an album to dip into it. There are loads of little twists and turns to fall in love with, and it's spaced out optimism is nothing if not just a little captivating.

Album Review: No Trigger - Tycoon

Album Rating: A-
After falling off the map, No Trigger is back with their first full length release in six years. The group’s old catalogue consists of high octane ‘melodic hardcore,’ whatever that means. At the beginning of 2011, the band announced that they had signed to No Sleep Records, a surprising yet intriguing decision from both parties. No Sleep has little on their roster that resembles No Trigger. This left me wondering whether the second LP would be a great deviation from their original direction or whether the old guys still had their spunk. I was not disappointed.

Album Review: Anti-Flag - The General Strike

Album Rating: C
 What I failed to learn from Anti-Flag:

Anti-Flag's biggest problem as a band today might just be fans like me.  Back in the day, being a fourteen year old white kid with good grades from a decent neighborhood that still felt a little out of place in high school meant the need for an outlet to the confusion and frustration.  Punk rock, or maybe "punk rock," happened to be that vent.  I can remember going to Anti-Flag shows with my friends Dave and Spaz and loving every second of dancing around to 'Spaz's House Destruction Party' and 'Davey Destroyed the Punk Scene' (it's true) and feeling like I really belonged to something.  I can recall looking around the pit of sweaty, vest-clad punks and picking out the ones without green mohawks that looked to be a lot like me - that is, relatively normal, happy kids with typical high school angst and a need for that same outlet.  Even if the shows were just a means to feeling better about typical freshman-year grievances and the government wasn't personally dicking us over, it felt pretty real as we shouted "Fuck the flag and, FUCK YOU!" together at the tops of our lungs.  Most of all, I remember wondering what it all meant, what it would all become, and when I would finally tell my well-meaning father to piss off. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Void Pedal

Back in 2010, Void Pedal's first instrumental EP trumped even Massive Attack to be the sexiest release of the year. That's all down to opinion, I'm sure, but the ultra-smooth, base heavy blend of trip-hop proved irresistible to the seldom few who heard it. Void Pedal had introduced a richer sound, but one that also balanced seductiveness and sadness. It was fresh, interesting and - best of all - completely and utterly free.

This month Pair of L, the follow-up to this EP, was released. It swaps out the female vocals and some of the overall smoothness for something a little more aggressive and experimental. Probing into the depths of it takes a while, but once you do you'll find that all the sleekness is still present, it's just obscured a little bit. Oh, and I forgot to mention, this one is free as well.

Pair of L download
Void Pedal EP download

Album Review: If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest

Album Rating: A
If These Trees Could Talk, like a few bands that are brave enough to transcend the genre gap, throws a curious listener into a realm where post-rock and post-metal are entrancingly intertwined. The modest band from Akron, Ohio delves into the heavier side of things on their sophomore release, Red Forest, and it shows through excessive distortion and low power chords to assist the gradual buildup in their songs, more akin to something like Russian Circles than it would be to Explosions in the Sky. While mentioning similar and contrasting qualities of bands, however, If These Trees Could Talk has a comparable structure to God Is An Astronaut, using guitars to fill their full, atmospheric sound rather than synthesizers, but retaining a healthy balance of cavernous echo. This is a prominent aspect of Red Forest, each resonating instrument sounding as though it may come from miles away in the wilderness, drifting by forgotten trees and ancient hills. It's a wondrous release, and is not only thought provoking, but probes deep into the primal core of human emotion.

Artist Spotlight: Robin Bacior

The cover of Robin Bacior's Rest Our Wings encompasses in a single picture what the majority of singer-songwriters attempt to do. The best musicians will display all of their personal experiences within their own words. Bacior shows the wordsmanship of a lyricist far beyond her 24 years, painting pictures of love, heartbreak, and adventures. Opener "Pair Migration" has Bacior powerfully singing "Lately I feel in flight backward / my friends and I, we move in the same direction like lost little birds" in front of softly flowing piano and cello lines, emulating singer-songwriters such as Jolie Holland, Sharon Van Etten, and Joni Mitchell. Robin Bacior's talent to let people see within her is a power that will only blossom through experience, and she is on track to make those experiences live in the minds of plenty of listeners. You can stream and purchase all of Robin Bacior's releases on Bandcamp here, and you can follow her on Facebook here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Album Review: Erased Tapes Collection IV

Album Rating: A-
It's perfect really, not only is Erased Tapes Collection IV a wonderful record in its own right, but it's a beautiful entry point into one of music's most endearing labels.  You see, Erased Tapes is about as "indie" as a label could possibly get.  However, they specialize in some of the most blissfully organic and enchanting music; post-rock and instrumental rock imbued with a certain poetic beauty.  Such artists include: Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, and A Winged Victory for the Sullen.  These artists are at the very top of their respective areas of music.  And you know what?  Each of them-and more-are present on Erased Tapes Collection IV.

Album Review: Boxer - Undertow

Album Rating: B
In the technology-laden present day, most of us do not go more than 24 hours at a time without being connected to the Internet in one way or another.  Though our dependency on the World Wide Web seems to disconnect us from the real, tangible world of music, social networking sites, message boards and music blogs are undeniably convenient means of both discovering and sharing new music by bands that would otherwise go unnoticed outside of their local scenes.  In fact, I stumbled across one of last year’s biggest and best surprises, Joyce Manor, after Jeremy Bolm of Touche Amore recommended them via a post on Twitter.  In the same way, a Facebook post from up-and-coming pop punk band, Turnover, lead me to discover sonically similar, Richmond, Va. based Boxer, an energetic group whose debut EP, Undertow, shows a huge amount of potential.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Album Review: The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past

Album Rating: A-
Nostalgia is bittersweet; reminiscing over a past memory can simultaneously create warm feelings as well as a void in one’s gut. We will all undoubtedly look back fondly at certain moments of our life, knowing that the expectations they built will never be met – but that’s okay, because we know that one day, we will be looking back at what is now the present in the same manner. The acceptance of this cycle seems to be the overall theme of The Menzingers' latest work, On the Impossible Past, in which front man Tom May takes us on a journey through his past experiences. Whether these instances were inglorious at the time or unforgettable, their absence is what continues to torment May.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Album Retrospective: Math the Band - Don't Worry

Album Rating: A+
I strongly implore you to introduce yourself to Math the Band by watching a couple of videos of their live performances. Look for performances of songs such as "Hang Out/Hang Ten", "Tour de Friends", or perhaps even a cover of Andrew W.K.'s "It's Time To Party". You've got this crazy looking dude flailing his hair all over the place while bludgenoning heavily distorted chords out of his guitar, and a girl dancing all over the place while either wailing on a floor tom or pounding her fists on a keyboard while singing into an old telephone reciever. And you may think to yourself, "this is absolutely absurd". Well yes, it is.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Shizune

Like last years Mahria, Shizune is a band that has completely blindsided me.  Featuring a brash, aggressive sound, they draw inspiration from a wide range on the emo/post-hardcore spectrum.  Hailing from Japan, they share surprisingly few influences with their fellow countrymen Envy and Heaven in Her Arms.  Instead, Shizune sounds quite a lot like Pianos Become the Teeth, Loma Prieta, and even Touche Amore.

Their seven track self-titled debut is a refreshing dose of heavy screamo explosions and cathartic post-hardcore anthems.  "Days of Vaestana" stands out as especially notable, blending the aformentioned sounds into one short, beautiful package.  It displays an intensity not often seen in today's music, whilst also displaying a wonderful sense of passion and emotion.

Shizune isn't well known and that's a shame, because if their debut is any indicator, they're doing screamo better than a swarth of bands out their today.  You can, and should give their self-titled a listen.  They are streaming it for free on their bandcamp.  If you like what you hear, then download it for free as well, and most importantly, spread the word!

Listen and download here

Album Review: Quiet Steps - Secular

Album Rating: B
So, back in 2010 when everyone was listening to The Saddest Landscape, Iselia and Loma Prieta, did you by chance happen to pick up Quiet Steps rather marvelous Think Aloud?  Didn't think so.  And really, it's hard to blame you, as Quiet Steps haven't really made a big splash anywhere, even in their home country of Australia.  Gliding beneath the surface, this emo troupe has yet again released another remarkable album worthy of the praise and recognition they never received with their debut.  Secular, the band's sophomore record, may not be in quite the same vein as Think Aloud, but it is everything the you could want and more.

Album Review: The Magnetic Fields - Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

Album Rating: B
Although you're safe in the knowledge that you're following one of the most charming and dependable bands in the indie world, being a fan of The Magnetic Fields can still be mightily frustrating. This emotion stems largely from the fact that Stephen Merritt constantly places checks and barriers on his own creativity, and although this has resulted in some wonderful achievements the argument that he's distilling his own outrageous talent is equally compelling. 69 Love Songs is obviously the prime example of this somewhat curious approach paying dividends, but the synth-less trilogy of i, Distortion and Realism released since have fared less well, with numerous instances of Merritt's genius weighed down by a lack of consistency brought about by such restrictions. The gems within those records were worth the price of purchase alone, but all three left a distinct sense of what could have been, and to all intents and purposes, Love At The Bottom Of The Sea is a continuation of that pattern.

Album Review: I Call Fives - Someone That's Not You

Album Rating: B-
New Jersey natives I Call Fives have been a small name in the pop punk scene for quite some time now. After signing to Pure Noise Records, the group has put out an EP to build hype for their debut LP, to be released this summer. After a few years of lurking in the shadows, they’re soon to be right in the spotlight. The pressure is on, but whether or not I Call Fives can deliver is a bit of a mystery.

Someone That’s Not You is a 7" sporting only 4 tracks, and it seems that they weren't concerned about front loading the release. The EP kicks off with a bang as opener and title track “Someone That’s Not You” quickly builds into a ferocious pop punk jam. It's an impressive specimen that highlights the more recent trend toward hardcore influenced songwriting and energy in pop punk (think Veara or The Story So Far). The group goes so far as to incorporate a hardcore shout as an alternative vocal presence, which feels ever so slightly forced, but not out of place enough to really detract from the song. Driven with great purpose, the track sets the tone for the rest of the release.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Album Review: The Men - Open Your Heart

Album Rating: B+
Truth be told, this year has thus far probably spawned as many disappointments as it has true successes, with even previously dependable sources proving prone to the odd blip. Hardcore stalwarts Ceremony are a prime example of such, with their new album Zoo joining the likes of Born To Die and Reign Of Terror among 2012's biggest let downs, and despite their stylistic differences, The Men's third LP draws plenty of parallels with that record. The key point of comparison is that both albums have seen the bands in question sacrifice much of the extremity which characterised their earlier work in favour of new, more accessible sounds, but while Zoo has had to bear the burnt of a mixed critical reception and sheer derision from fans, Open Your Heart sees The Men take strides which are as vital as they are bold, and should establish them as a force to be reckoned with in the modern punk scene.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Album Review: Listening Mirror - Resting in Aspic

Album Rating: B+
Ambiance... If I were to make the cardinal sin of comparing music to art - which, I assure you, I would never even dream of doing - I would liken ambient music to just one curved line on an otherwise blank canvas. The point of it all? To ask that question would be to miss the... idea. Unlike conventional music, ambient does not try to convey a particular message, nor does the message even matter. No, think of an ambient piece as the very beginning on a journey to a point; any point. What matters is how your mind travels from that starting position; which sound-tinted thought it springs to. It’s music for thinking men with time on their hands to think, and this is precisely the rut that Listening Mirror nestles into.

Artist Spotlight: Salad Days

When it comes to making music, you can trace the picture and color in the spaces or you can draw the lines.  Kyle Bogue, the force behind Philadelphia/Pittsburgh based act Salad Days, knows a thing or two about drawing those lines.  Quiet As Its Kept, the result of an extended period of intermittent recording bursts that happened to take place in the bedroom next to mine, is the start of a musically-inclined mind's plunge into the wonderful world of recording.  Swirling, fuzz-laden guitar lines and the most fatalistic of piano interludes all converge with Bogue's angst-fueled songwriting to form a truly refreshing listening experience.  Closer 'Another Decembered Saturday,' takes all the right cues from a track like Bomb the Music Industry!'s 'Future 86' while adding its own spice to the mix and salt to the wound.  I'd be remiss not to proclaim 'Let Down' as one of the most engaging and accessible boy/girl duet tracks since +44's 'Make You Smile'. Its youthful air calling to mind the quintessential jealousy-mired adolescent love story.  Despite falling victim to the quality troubles associated with bedroom-based recording, Quiet As Its Kept presents listeners with a glimpse into the eccentrically musical mind of Kyle Bogue, a mind that hopefully continues to find sonic outlets for its ideas in the future.

Hear Quiet As Its Kept and download it on a name-your-price basis on Salad Days' Bandcamp.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Album Review: GPSYMTH - Ripostes

Album Rating: B
Between my bouts of hardcore and metal listening, and somewhere within the confines of my abhorrent love of post-rock lies a general admiration for all things dreamy and poppy. The hooks, catchy lines and comforting atmosphere always seem to hit me in all the right places.  Memoryhouse's newest found this little fact out last month, and it now seems that GPSYMTH's Ripostes have found it out as well.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Rambos

If there's one thing worth appreciating about a band like Rambos, it's their refusal to take themselves as a band - or anything at all - too seriously.  Considering the fact that the group's Facebook page "likes" include everything from Tom Waits and Stiff Little Fingers to The Daily Show and pseudo-news network The Onion, it becomes readily apparent that the Chicago-based quintet have their heads caught somewhere between bourbon-soaked ballads, classic punk jams, and the comical, self-absorbed tendencies of the human race.  Rock and Roll Monsters is a testament to all three of these things - tracks like 'Hiawatha' and 'Chuck Taylors' are as quick to critique humanity as they are to laugh at it, doing so with the airy and youthful disposition of a group of kids that are, if nothing else, enjoying the hell out of their time here.  Each song reverberates with the openness of an old abandoned foyer, lending an abundantly retro feel to the record, almost as if it was intentionally recorded a generation too late.  For Rambos, the time to shout it out loud is right now; Rock and Roll Monsters embodies this explosive attitude and delivers the funk-tinged, punk-fueled tracks to back it.

Hear tracks from Rock and Roll Monsters on Rambos' Facebook, or head over to their official website for more about the band and their new album.

Album Retrospective: Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Album Rating: A
We use the word beautiful everyday but probably could not come up with a clear definition of what it really means. We cannot come up with a clear definition of what is beautiful because beauty is somewhat conditional. What is beautiful to me might be ugly to another person, and what is beautiful to that person might be something that I think is totally disgusting. It is why we have people who hang crosses in their living room and other people that want to hang them from those crosses, it is why we have people who are addicted to porn and why we have people who get their porn from a PBS special on "The Lost Dinosaurs," and, it is why a snobby white basketball player looks beautiful to Duke fans but looks like a jackass to the rest of America. It is tough to define beauty as anything but conditional.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Artist Spotlight - Beach House

By looking at a lot of artist names and album titles, the words "beach", "teen", and "dream" (chillwave artists are mainly guilty of overusing these words) seem to pop up so often that the mood that they are used to convey in accordance to the music has become so trite to me that I often completely avoid music that attempts to evoke the hazy and carefree feeling of being a teenager spending a whimsical day at the beach with your significant other. But once Beach House (possibly the most quintessential act in dream pop today) dropped their third LP, entitled Teen Dream in 2010, it came off as trying so hard that I just had to give it a listen. And of course, everything from the refreshing production to Victoria Legrand's ethereal contralto completely floored me, especially on tracks such as "Zebra" and the popular song-of-the-year contender "Norway". And now Beach House has returned with a new track, "Myth". From a mysterious news exchange between Exclaim and other publications, it is hard to judge whether the duo's alleged fourth LP, Bloom, is really coming out this May or not, but "Myth" (which appears as the opener on the tracklist that Exclaim reported) is definitely hard evidence that something is on its way. Judging from "Myth", Beach House has not deviated too far from the dream pop formula of Teen Dream. While it would be interesting to see how the duo could have progressed since their 2010 hit, more of the ethereal beauty and teenage dreaminess that the group pulled off so impeccably is certainly no less than welcome.

"Myth" can be streamed here.


3/8 UPDATE: Pitchfork has reported that
Bloom has been confirmed, as well as a spring and summer tour. It will be released May 15 on Sub Pop in the U.S. and Canada. According to a press release, the band says the album was written "between countless sound checks and myriad experiences during two years of tour". A full tracklist and tour dates can be seen here

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Album Review: Sun Glitters - High EP

Album Rating: C+
Witch house, post-dubstep, dark-chillwave... I think it says a lot about a movement when so many phrases are coined to describe it. Call it cynicism, but it’s my opinion that music has reached a point where we have too many genre-tags to juggle. Whenever a revolutionary album emerges, it seems, we have a handful of journalists eager to be known as “the one who created the term ‘x’”. So how’s this for a handy one-word description? Intoxicating. The swollen landscapes of bass, subtle melodies, and minimalistic percussion topped-off with heavily modified, easy to grab vocal samples results in the kind of music that fills your mind and frees the soul; its steadily encroaching patterns inviting you to lose yourself. This is the genre Victor Ferreria fits neatly into. His debut full-length under the moniker Sun Glitters, Everything Could Be Fine, showed him experimenting with the genre by off-setting the expected dark atmosphere with an almost Boards of Canada-esque optimism. The warmer textures and beautifully endearing vocals helped distance Ferreria from his competition, and while the conflicting motifs caused the album to stall occasionally, it nevertheless remained a captivating and incredibly interesting record.

Album Review: Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

Album Rating: A-
Bruce Springsteen is 62. That probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that he’s been in the music industry for a good 40 years, but for the majority of Wrecking Ball that’s a fact which beggars belief. Channelling the gulf between American dream and American reality as vivaciously as ever, The Boss appears to have reached a comfort zone in his longstanding existence whereby he’s well over his pre-millennium dodgy spell yet isn’t expected to touch the heights that he reached during his classic period. Such stability has done little to quell the internal fire, though, and as such this seventeenth studio LP finds him addressing his numerous gripes with the same conviction and earnesty that’s made him an icon not just in the USA but the world over.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Album Review: Good Old War - Come Back As Rain

Album Rating: B-
Come Back As Rain begins exactly as you'd expect a Good Old War record to begin - an ambient, folk-tinged guitar lick prances around for half a minute before giving way to the dulcet vocal melodies of Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold and Dan Schwartzman.  Just like that and Philadelphia's heralded indie-folk trio are off to the races with their much-anticipated follow up to 2010's self-titled LP.  Sprawling and soaring vocal melodies, guitar lines worth getting hopelessly lost in and those classic three-way Goodwin/Arnold/Schwartzman warbles still populate the record, yet it's hard not to feel as if something more significant is missing.  Even though Good Old War have infused these songs with the same sunny disposition and tender crooning found on past efforts, Come Back As Rain often slips into purposeless song-writing and redundant track layouts.  Still, the obvious musical prowess with which the trio operate lends the record a good deal of bright moments and a yields a generally uplifting listening experience.

New Muzik Monday (3/5/12)

Once I took a break from my constant rotation of John Talabot's record, it suddenly occurred to me what a great week this is for new releases. The return of a living legend, the latest from one of my favourite bands and fresh material from one of the most exciting punk bands around are just some of the reasons to be excited, while things are also looking rosy for the coming weeks, as evidenced by the taster track that I've included. It's started fairly slowly, but March looks certain to be the month in which 2012 finally kicks into gear.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Album Review: Now, Now - Threads

Album Rating: B
"Find a thread to pull, and we can watch it unravel" sings Now, Now's vocalist, Cacie Dalager on the opening line of Threads intro track "The Pull". This line is the centerpiece of the album and is the main hook of the album centerpiece, "Thread".  Threads holds true to these words, as the sadness and hopelessness from this line is a prevailing theme throughout the record.

Threads sees Now, Now working on their first record as part of Chris Walla's Trans Records, and the band's direction reflects the perfect pairing that has come out of this partnership. Now, Now sounds more like early Death Cab For Cutie than ever, with melancholy and brutal honesty bursting through every track. "Prehistoric" could be a slightly more distorted version of Death Cab's "Title Track", both melodically and with the distressing emotional pull the track has over a listener.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Show Review: Silent Old Mtns (2/7/12 at DC9)

Very often, the true brilliance of a band doesn't come until multiple viewings of the band's live shows. This is especially true with younger bands, as one great live show could have just been a fluke, or a sign of great things to come. Silent Old Mountains is just about to hit their one year anniversary as a band, but they perform like a band full of ten year veterans. Combining their exceptional live show with a wide group of friends and family transformed a boring Tuesday night into a fun night showcasing an upcoming local band.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snowing: A Brief Retrospective

When John Galm took the stage with his three bandmates on November 25, 2011, he found himself surrounded by hundreds of his best friends - most of whom, myself included, were complete strangers to him.  As the Lehigh Valley foursome played through nearly their entire discography to that point, the band often drowned out by the flannel-clad throng that sang along, everyone came to realize that this really was the end of Snowing and that it would be okay.  Snowing's final moments were exactly as anyone would have expected them to be, concluding with a gratefully intoxicated but hopelessly choked-up Galm hoisted atop the heads of his fans and friends, his consenting frame hovering gracefully around the basement of First Unitarian to the backdrop of Vera Lynn's 'We'll Meet Again'.  Even though it seemed as if Snowing had left every last bit of themselves in downtown Philadelphia that night, posthumously releasing one final 7-inch was the real nail in the coffin and their farewell gift to fans.

Album Review: Dead Fingers - Dead Fingers

Album Rating: C+
We all know that music has undergone huge stylistic change over time, but what is often overlooked is how this has affected the attitudes with which we perceive it. An album of good songs is no longer enough - these days we expect musicians to display a degree of diversity in their work, and this pressure to branch out can prove many a bands undoing. It's a grey area not often brought up for discussion but, when does an album cease to be an accomplished and varied body of work and instead come across as a bundled together assortment of random ideas? It's a delicate balancing act - especially if the ideas in question are sourced in different genres entirely - and on the whole it's one that Taylor and Kate Hollingsworth don't quite get right on their debut LP as Dead Fingers.