Pages

Monday, April 30, 2012

Album Review: The Sun Explodes - Emergence

Album Rating: B
Of all things I've reviewed this year so far, The Sun Explodes is quite possibly the most unique. The English band brings together a few different genres, focusing on a combination of post-metal, hard rock, and progressive rock with touches of electronic influencing and pushing their music beyond the threshold of skin-deep interest, and really probing their way into deep, dark, unsettling music. Emergence brings a lot of fast, aggressive, and powerful aspects to their record, and the way they put their lyrics forefront is incredibly unique on a post-metal album, even more so with metal growls being a prominent part of those vocals. It's a cool experience with being able to hear Dave Maclachlan singing brightly and clearly, instead of maybe just addled screams in the background, or being drowned out by everything else going on. It's a fantastic, heavy album that really earns the exhilarating live reviews that people love to post with the recent tour The Sun Explodes went on.

Album Retrospective: The Cure - Disintegration

Album Rating: A+
While writing on behalf of an album, I often think to myself what the purpose of reviewing music is. I usually just set my opinions to text and then publish them to the wonderful web without really taking into consideration what other people will actually do with my writing. I either equate writing a review to either simply expressing an opinion (what I usually do) or attempting to urge readers to listen to whatever it is you are writing about. I suppose in plenty of cases I've written a piece with the intention of convincing people that something is worth listening to, but I have never sat down thinking "I absolutely must make people listen to this album". It is definitely a gratifying feeling knowing that something you wrote encouraged somebody to sit down with an album that they would later on love dearly, but that isn't something I've seeked in my writing. I've thought to myself "this is an album that people must hear", but have never found it in myself to justify such a statement. As you have probably guessed what I'm getting at by now, Disintegration is an album that I truly believe that people absolutely must at least attempt to listen to. Of course I will outline why The Cure's magnum opus is essential for your listening, but I am just putting it out there right now, that as well as expressing my feelings for this music, my intention with this piece is to convince you to listen to this album.

Artist Spotlight: Aerials

It's nice to hear bands getting down to post-rock basics. This is one of the first releases this year that's garnered my attention without offering too much extravagant, over the top glitz and style. In fact, there really isn't too much extra to the debut Aerials release whatsoever. In place of glamour, flare and flamboyance, there's a high degree of simplicity in their music. The Nowhere EP brings back a sense of what is good and just, and easy to listen to in the instrumental music world. With tracks like "Victory Rose," there's a strain of Explosions In The Sky-like style, without any hint of imitation whatsoever. Presented to us is simply a dreamlike reverie of good things past, and good things to come. In addition to bright and spacious melodies worth dying for, the EP features beautiful synths, soft and gentle vamping, and a rhythm behind it all like the drum line playing the soundtrack of humanity itself. This is a release worthy of mentioning, recommending, getting to know, coming to love, and listening to, over and over and over again.

You can find Aerials on their Sound Cloud and their Facebook, so keep an eye out for info on the new release.

Artist of the Day: Starfucker

I think it's good that, as a man with a record collection growing by about a dozen new releases a week, I own at least one album that I can put on at a friend's house and both of us can enjoy. For a while, Reptilians by Starfucker filled this role perfectly: with plenty of catchy, danceable melodies for him and vocals droning about accepting death for me. It's a little bit of a confusing mixture, I'm inclined inform you, but it accumulated into this kind of brilliantly morbid celebration of our own mortality; as exciting as it was humbling. As a result, it ended 2011 very close to the top of my best-of list, which was incredibly surprising for an album that wasn't insufferably self-indulgent.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Artist of the Day: The Story So Far

A few months ago I wrote a review of The Story So Far’s debut LP, Under Soil and Dirt. Although I still completely stand behind everthing stated in the review, my attitude toward the release is vastly different. The review, found here, is a very accurate characterization of the Under Soil and Dirt. However, it does not do the emotional impact of the album justice.

The band is a really fun pop punk group that plays off the trend toward heavier production and songwriting in a tasteful manner. Though, when broken down the individual pieces are generic, there is some intangible hidden in the sum of the parts that is unique. The lyrics are just as they were when I wrote the full review, yet I have found much more depth in them through repeted listenens. Maybe it says something about album reviews. More likely, it says something about listening to music.

Today, I would have given the record an A-, so the least I can do is offer The Story So Far my artist of the day. Regardless of what the real motivator was in the change of my perception of the album, there’s a lot of good stuff going on that everyone should check out. If you already have, try giving it another spin. I did and it was well worth it.

Facebook

Album Review: Anathema - Weather Systems

Album Rating: B+
At this point it is getting a bit ridiculous how well Anathema is progressing, even 20 years after its inception.  Certainly the British act is aging gracefully, to say the least.  After starting out as a doom infused death metal band, Anathema has evolved into one of this generation's most prominent progressive/alternative rock outfits.  That became obvious with 2010's excellent We're Here Because We're Here.  Two years later, Anathema stun again with the absolutely marvelous Weather Systems.

Album Retrospective: The National - Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers

Album Rating: A
There’s a special place in my heart for the kind of genius that unveils itself slowly; softly. Just past the left ventricle, it’s fits snugly between BBC panel shows and old, outdated 70’s sci-fi movies. Once it catches hold, it’s inescapable: the stupendous beauty of it infinitely interesting. The audacity; the abrasiveness needed to withhold what makes something truly outstanding... it takes a cruel mind to do such a thing - to force someone to sink instead of dive - but our desperate minds are better for it. Sadly, it seems to be a quality very difficult to obtain deliberately, and certainly in terms of The National it was quickly substituted for the immediate emotional gratification of their three most recent LP’s. Their comparative success inevitable in an age where albums are picked up and cherished in the space between blogspot posts, one can’t help but lament at the steadily rising pile of albums thrown aside for the crime of not revealing everything on the first date. Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers sits somewhere near the bottom of this pile. Too often neglected and forgotten in favour of its more glamorous successors, it’s become somewhat of the forgotten child; its mind clouded with the anger and desperation of neglect; unsympathetic for its inability to communicate; its brilliance unrecognised.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Album Review: Death Grips - The Money Store

Album Rating: A-
To be quite honest, hip hop is not really my genre. I would be able to enjoy it in small amounts, but it was never a genre that would be able to hold up for the entire duration of an album for me. On Sacramento group Death Grips' follow up to their 2011 mixtape, Exmilitary, the group attempts to shake off the hip-hop label and create something entirely on its own level. For the most part, The Money Store definitely accomplishes what it has set out to do. Combining elements of industrial and experimental noise, Death Grips have created a compelling and immersive record that is certainly a real game-changer. 

Eli's Super Indulgent Anniversary List Extravaganza--Part II

Next month will mark the one year anniversary of me joining this most revered site.  I've shared plenty of music I genuinely love, and I have found some great things along the way.  However, I would like to share with you, lovely readers, the albums that have changed me the most as a music lover, rather than a music critic.  I'll spread it out a bit to give the due attention to each album, with five separate days of music goodness.

So here is part II.

Artist of the Day: I Can See Mountains

As personal experience will foretell, namely an evening about two weeks back that involved far too much Canadian whiskey and a particularly dank local basement, I Can See Mountains find their niche in the betwixt and between of a backpack full of beer and the "nobody will notice that I'm leaning against this wall as to not fall over," moment at your favorite local punk show.  Hope You Never Get It, their seven track release from earlier this year, preserves the magic of that time and place, best friends and ample booze included.  Making the most out of explosive singalongs ('Hey Man', 'Tournesol') and the obligatory angst-laden pop-punk ballads to accompany them ('I'm Really Going To Miss This Place'), I Can See Mountains bottle that uproarious basement show cacophony and stale beer smell into sonic form with every pulse-pounding track.  Hope You Never Get It stands as yet another reminder to make the most of the fact that you're only young once, doing so with songs that ring true of those endless college nights rather than a particularly obnoxious four-letter acronym.  Live loud and regret not what you won't remember - in the meantime, listen to I Can See Mountains.

Hear tracks from Hope You Never Get It on their Bandcamp.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Interview With mewithoutYou

On May 15, 2012 mewithoutYou will release their fifth full-length LP "Ten Stories." We at Muzik Dizcovery were fortunate enough to conduct an interview with guitarist Michael Weiss, asking questions pertaining to the new album's sound, lyrical direction, favorite albums of 2011, memorable moments, and much more can be read below.

Artist Of The Day: The Sun And The Sea

The Graduate has long been a favorite of mine. So, when they announced that they were breaking up back in July of last year, I was heartbroken, mostly due to their immense potential that they began fulfilling on Only Every Time. But, while lead singer and lyricist Corey Warning moved on to other things, the other four members teamed up with vocalist Chris Rhein to start The Sun And The Sea. The band's first EP, Nightfalls, is a continuation of Only Every Time, as the band's ambient alternative rock sound is as strong as ever. While not having Warning's immensely powerful vocal range, Rhein still has a rather similar voice and can easily be a replacement for the instrumentalists' former band. You can stream and purchase the entire The Sun And The Sea EP on Bandcamp, and look forward to an interview with the band and more in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Artist of The Day: Oberhofer

The Internet era is weird because you can get famous without actually having a talent. The guy who thinks Dr. Dre was his knee surgeon is suddenly the guy making rap songs and new beats using something like Mixcraft, the Grandma who had a few funny racist jokes is suddenly a run away sensation on Twitter, and the woman who had a sex tape with a third rate rapper can get a reality show about her entire family! We live in a world where it is pointless to buy lottery tickets because you could get rich just by having a dog who has a bark that sounds like Morgan Freeman! In a world of recessions, unemployment, and general unhappiness it is quite ironic that happiness and riches could just be a click away. What we end up having is a brutal combination of hope, depression, and fascination.

Album Review: You Blew It! - Grow Up, Dude

Album Rating: A-
2011 was a rough year for emo fans.  The successive disbandments of My Heart to Joy, Snowing, and Grown Ups were simply too much to bear, and left many followers of the renowned twinkle daddies (forgive me) sobbing as they clung dearly to their Parrot Flies records with what little hope they had left.  Certainly, these three acts made their mark and left some seriously big shoes to fill, but bands like Orlando, Fla.’s You Blew It! have proven that there is no shortage of nerdy, cat-loving math rockers in the punk scene willing to step up to the plate.  With their new Topshelf Records debut, You Blew It! truly show improvement from their first two EPs, and will undoubtedly win over any remaining skeptics of their previous work (if there are any). Through the use of jangly guitar riffs and scatterbrained lyrics, Grow Up, Dude perfectly encompasses the genre’s quirky charm and rivals Snowing’s I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted as the best sing-along party emo album to have come out in recent years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eli's Super Indulgent Anniversary List Extravaganza

Next month will mark the one year anniversary of me joining this most revered site.  I've shared plenty of music I genuinely love, and I have found some great things along the way.  However, I would like to share with you, lovely readers, the albums that have changed me the most as a music lover, rather than a music critic.  I'll spread it out a bit to give the due attention to each album, with five separate days of music goodness.

And we're off!

Interview With The American Dollar

The American Dollar released a fantastic new record, Awake In The City, at the end of March. Even while weighted down with touring and looking towards the future, they were kind enough to answer some questions for MuzikDizcovery about the album and the band.

Artist Of The Day: Mogwai

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fans of Muzik Dizcovery, members of the proletariat, British loyalists, haters to the post-rock name, and the rest of you, we all have differences in opinions throughout our individual walks of life. One thing we can all agree to, though, is that 2012 has been, and continues to be, a year of change. With our (talking United States here, so Canadian / British / other worldly regions please read on) political regime potentially undergoing our tetrannual tradition this November, a scare incurred on how the free world is openly receiving information through the Internet, and some gripe about some 5,000-year-old prediction about the end of humanity, things like this can be kind of scary to think about. Things we perceive to be as constant are ever undergoing small changes, and eventually become things that we don't understand, or fear. Such is the case with the musical style of Mogwai, and as I've reviewed Mogwai before, I wanted to discuss my opinions about the band whose music I've come to hold so dear.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Chemtrail

Dear readers, depending on how long you've been reading and following our lovely blog, you may remember an album review I did last year about a beautiful New Jersey-based post-rock project named Chemtrail. Our New England friends just put out a B-side EP called Sounds Like Ghosts, featuring a small (but impressive) collection of unused songs and refined sounds from their last five years of work. I'm a pretty big fan of releases like this; a lot of people don't really appreciate artists posting their unwanted songs as new releases, saying that they're just trying to garner more money and whatnot, but I think you can really appreciate how the artist's records sound when you hear what kind of songs they didn't end up using. It helps the listener decipher some form of artistic integrity of the album, and what kind of feel the artist was going for when they decided, "Okay, I don't want to use this song because it'll change the feel of my album...let's cut it out and save it for later." And that doesn't go to say that the songs cut out are bad - Sounds Like Ghosts has a lot of fantastic stuff, with "Volcano Weather" being one of the most moving post-rock songs I've heard this year. The EP has all of the same old Chemtrail love, it's simply more concise. If you liked last year's review, or some fantastic free post-rock, it's worth a listen.

Check their Bandcamp for a free stream and download of the EP, and all of their other works available for a reasonable price as well.

Artist of the Day: Boards of Canada

As I discussed in a bit I wrote on ambient artist Foxes In Fiction two weeks ago, I went on a week long trip with my New Jersey school's choir to Arizona. Foxes In Fiction was one of the many artists that I anticipated would be part of my soundtrack to different events over my first flight and visit to a state outside the tri-state area. I did listen to Foxes In Fiction a great deal (as well as plenty of Sigur Ros), but the artist I turned to the most to score the beautiful scenery around me was Boards of Canada.

The Scottish electronic duo's beautiful take on IDM turned out to be the most suitable soundtrack to my trip out of anything I could think of. Listening to the standout track from 2005's The Campfire Headphase, "Dayvan Cowboy," while watching the Rocky Mountains sail by from 30 kilometers above the Earth was probably the most breathtaking experience I had ever had with music. 1998's Music Has The Right To Children felt like the soundtrack to a time-lapse covering a million years of erosion that shaped the Grand Canyon as I hiked a mile into it. "Roygbiv" was the perfect accompanyment to the sun breaking through the clouds and mountains that formed the skyline. Over my trip I learned that Boards of Canada is the perfect soundtrack for either everyday life, or anything larger than life.

Facebook

Artist Spotlight: LITE

Japanese math-rock: yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.  LITE, frankly, are the epitome of awesome, actually.  No, I suppose they don't break down any musical barriers, but their particular brand of math-rock is some of the most addicting and engaging suff I've heard in a long time.  Playing comple rhythms at super-sonic speeds, the band manages to sound confounding without the gimmicks typically attached.

With the band's latest record Past, Present, Future, LITE has crafted a short but incredibly effective explosion of math-influenced instrumental rock.  There are tons of highs and lows, with plenty in between.  It's incredibly dynamic, sounding like a more energized You Slut!, Enemies, and And So I Watch You From Afar.

"Bond" blows by, while "Circle" takes its time with a more relaxed and deliberate atmosphere.  It is very welcome to hear such diversity within a genre known for making some of the most gimmicky and contrived music out there.  However, LITE has made one hell of a little record that takes all the genre's best qualities and mixes them with the band's own style. This is the perfect slice of quirky and off-kilter music you didn't know you wanted.

Website

Eli's Band Shirt Collection: A Series of Retrospectives - Trophy Scars

To commemorate last Friday's Artist of the Day, Trickster Fox, I've decided for my next retrospective to focus on the progenitor of said band, Trophy Scars.  Well, maybe it has something to do with me being out of clean shirts and my Trophy Scars tee being what I wore today.  But I digress.

What this little series of retrospectives has given me the opportunity to do is revisit some of the bands that I love.  The very same bands, mind you, that I wish to let everyone know I love by having a big ol' logo and picture on my person.  But this edition gives me the great pleasure to talk about a band near and dear to me, and one of the most unabashedly creative musical groups out there today.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Artist Of The Day: Holy Esque

Not many bands arrive so fully formed that they teeter on the brink of greatness with their very first EP, but that's precisely the bracket that Glasgow's Holy Esque fall under. Their inaugural self-tiled release (my review of which you can read here) is finally available on iTunes as of today, and suggests that even at this early stage they're veering towards something exceptional. It's a predicament that's made all the more startling by the fact that they've been in existence for little over a year, but already outside voices calling them the best new band in Scotland seem to hold a fair bit of weight.

The quartet - which consists of Pat Hynes (vocals/guitar), Keir Reid (keys), Hugo McGinley (guitar) and Ralph McClure (drums) - play an emotive branch of indie rock which does plenty to recall the genre's current heavyweights whilst maintaining enough identity to hold it's own among such illustrious names. Fans of The National, The Walkmen and Titus Andronicus should all find something to savour in their overbearing shoegazing anthems, while Hynes' husky vocal style will no doubt entice a proportion of the WU LYF crowd, some of whom will have witnessed them opening for the Mancunians earlier this year. What's more important, though, is that they bear all the hallmarks of a band that's here to stay, and once they've fine tuned their sound you wouldn't bet against them becoming a serious force in the indie world.

Holy Esque is out now on iTunes. 'Ladybird Love' and 'Rose' are available for streaming.

Facebook

Album Review: Hampshire - Ocean State Stories

Album Rating: B
Allow me to preface this review by saying that I am falling out of love with the younger, more accessible side of the pop punk spectrum.  Perhaps my inability to connect with the usual, humorless lyrical themes (girls, personal relationships, hating town, etc.) is what repels me from the genre and a lot of its popular acts (The Story So Far, Man Overboard, and Handguns, to name a few), or maybe the sheer redundancy of pop punk is finally getting to me.  That being said, Providence, RI’s Hampshire proves that there are still bands of the sort that are capable of catching my attention.  Hampshire’s debut full-band EP, Ocean State Stories, revives the sound from pop punk’s glory days in the late 90s and early 2000s, paying homage to all of the right influences.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Album Review: Pelican - Ataraxia/Taraxis

Album Rating: B-
Post-metal icon Pelican has been in a bit of a downward spiral since 2005's The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, with the band struggling to remain relevant in a genre that has since stagnated.  To be fair, the last two outings were not expressly bad, but rather, tepid displays of lacking ingenuity.  The announcement of a brand new EP was welcome news, as Pelican has always flourished under the extended play format.  After all, 2009's Ephemeral was the last "great" release by the band; a truly fun and energetic piece of music that saw the band return to its roots.

Artist of the Day: Maps & Atlases

Of the criticisms lobbed at Beware and Be Grateful, the one that sticks out the most to me is that Maps & Atlases’ mathy sensibilities have fallen by the wayside in favour of a poppier sound. Well, it’s kind of inescapable; Beware & Be Grateful does sound like a pop album, but it’s still incredibly nuanced and technical - much more so than people are going to give it credit for. Besides, it’s the band they were destined to evolve into; small glimpses of this poppy, care-free nature are found when tracing their older material (even 2010’s Perch Patchwork). Even in their cerebral nature, a lot of the songs on Perch Patchwork actually seemed incredibly warm and undeniably catchy, so why then are so many surprised by the direction of their musical progression?

Beware & Be Grateful is a peppy album full of songs soaked in gorgeous rhythm guitars, jubilant electronics, and funky choruses that beg to be sung along to, and like I said, it’s still technical. See, I like to compare Maps & Atlases’ approach to music to prog rock aficionados Rush. Think about it, Rush is a band able to keep broad appeal without compromising their technical integrity. Their music is accessible and fun, but also convoluted and nuanced. Beware & Be Grateful is much the same: easy on the ears but difficult to wrap one’s head around. So even though Beware & Be Grateful has the unfair disadvantage of people not favouring their direction and too easily dismissing their brand of music as simple, it’ll reward those who stick with it long enough to gorge on all of the neat little quirks. Listen more attentively and it’s like hearing two bands play at once: a tamer TV on the Radio mixed with the technical prowess of a band like Rush.  

Facebook
Our Album Review

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Artist of the Day: State Lines

State Lines are no longer Long Island’s best kept secret.  Since last year’s release of Hoffman Manor, the band has been receiving praise from highly-reputable sources such as Alternative Press, AbsolutePunk.net, and PunkNews.org, being compared to acts such as Tigers Jaw, Brand New, and Saves the Day.  Calling State Lines a band with “potential” would be a severe understatement, as their debut record achieved a level of maturity that most groups require an entire career to reach.  What truly sets the band apart from other pop punk/indie contemporaries is their ability to write fantastically catchy, hook-laden music while still avoiding the clich├ęs so often found within the genre.  Having just signed to Tiny Engines and with release of their self-titled EP around the corner, 2012 will likely mark the most exciting year of the band’s career thus far, not to mention the fact that State Lines will also be embarking on a fairly expansive US tour this summer with MA’s The Hotel Year.

The self-titled 7”, which is set to be released on May 29, features four new tracks, two of which can be streamed here and here

Download Hoffman Manor for free on State Lines’ Bandcamp.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Album Review: State Faults - Desolate Peaks

Album Rating: A
As a whole, hardcore has kind of stagnated.  It's true.  Even hardcore-heroes Defeater noted it, saying "There's a prevalent thing in this genre where if you're not doing what hardcore bands have been doing for the last 25 years almost verbatim, you're fucking up."  And for all the excellent releases that we have seen this past few years, there's no denying that there is some validity to Jay Maas' statement.  But every so often an album comes along that reminds us why we fell in love with the genre to begin with; a sense of  escape from a world that tells us what music should be, but not what it can be.  We are reminded that music can be angst ridden, disonant, angry, and noisy, but at the same time, starkly beautiful.  Introducing the first record under the State Faults moniker, Desolate Peaks.

Artist of the Day: Trickster Fox

If any of ou fine readers have even read one tenth of my posts, you've probably realized my undying love for female lead folk projects.  I'll admit it, it's an obsession.  Something about the lovely, dulcet tones of the female voice paired with the plucky and soulful guitar just gets me every time.  That's why I really dig Trickster Fox.  That, and it's produced by none other than Jerry Jones of Trophy Scars fame.  Interested?  You should be.

Album Review: Bersarin Quartett - II

Album Rating: A+
What does it say about our lives when music critics repeatedly reward albums with a more-than-slightly dark edge? Are we really all modern day hermits: scared to leave the house and even more so of other people; or simply eager to sink into a sea of self pity and emotional immolation? The question of “why” withstands; the question of “how” does not. Nothing moves us more than tragedy. A brief glance at the most influential musicians of the past few decades will greet you with a recurring scene of loneliness, drugs and suicide; tell-tale signs of people who occupy their own space instead of the world around them. Sometimes the music itself seems irrelevant in all the context: it doesn’t take much to grab us when we’re in the mood. Walk into the past of Bersarin Quartett and you will find no such tragedy, or at least none so openly displayed. Despite the title, Bersarin Quartett is comprised solely of one Thomas Bucker and, despite the lack of emotional context, II might just be one of the most heart-stoppingly sorrowful records of this millennia.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Album Review: Islands - A Sleep and A Forgetting

Album Rating: B+
I always thought one of the more underrated songs in the indie rock band Girls catalog was the opening song on their debut Album "Lust for Life." I always liked "Lust For Life" because to me it went beyond being the simple "my heart is broken" song, it was a song about having a broken will. With a broken heart you can still go out and get drunk, you can still have sex with the first walking thing you see, and you can still move on eventually. But a broken will means you don't have the will to fight your demons anymore, all you can do is dream about having the perfect "boyfriend" or "sun tan," all you can do is think about making things right. A broken heart means someone just has to fight to "pick up the pieces," but to me a broken will means someone ends up lusting after something as simple as the idea of having a happy life, a perfect boyfriend, or anything else that you would normally just "go out and get." The idea of lusting after something as simple as life is beyond heartbreaking, it is borderline inconceivable.

Eli's Band Shirt Collection: A Series of Retrospectives - The Sound of Animals Fighting

In cleaning out my closet, I've come to find that a startling number of my shirts are actually band shirts--who would have thought?  So, in an effort to revist the bands I once loved enough at one point to purchase a T-shirt of, I will be revisiting one album from each representative band.  And with any luck, you my dear readers will find something to love as well.

We begin with one of the stranger, more experimental bands--The Sound of Animals Fighting.  TSOAF were less an actual band, and more a collective of musicians hailing from various parts of the musical spectrum.  Most notable are Anthony Green of Circa Survive fame and Craig Owens of Chiodos infamy, and joing them are members from bands such as Rx Bandits.  Starting out as a post-hardcore act, TSOAF evolved into a bizarre and confounding experimental troupe, with their final release acting as a beautiful mixture of the two.

Artist of the Day: The Romanovs

I always find that looking into the past works of notable guest musicians of any project is a sure-fire way to be introduced to brilliant, yet relatively unknown, music. If nothing else, they would have needed to impress band X who took them on for an album or too, whilst not having a large enough fan base to proceed in their careers alone. Never has this been more true than with Morgan Kirby, now most known for her work on M83's 80's-style synth pop parade that is Saturdays = Youth, who previously headed a gothic-classical project called The Romanovs.

Artist Spotlight: Oceana

Oceana's last two years have been quite an unconventional journey. After releasing an EP, Clean Head, a progressive indie record that sounded like an entirely different band than the group that released the conceptual post-hardcore record Birth Eater, the band's been through absolute hell. They left Rise Records, had member changes that included adding and subsequently losing a female member before any material was released, and are having severe monetary issues. In order to continue their extreme creative expansion, the band has launched a Kickstarter account to raise money to release the album. While the rewards may be slightly underwhelming, the most important thing is to see where the band is going next with their new sound. Clean Head was a step in the right direction, and this next record could turn out to be absolutely brilliant. Let's make sure that this record is funded, and donate to their Kickstarter, which you can find here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Album Review: pg.lost - Key

Album Rating: B
Oh pg. lost, the ever forgot child of the post-rock genre; always slipping under the radar with music so unassuming that it is almost painful.  A bad band?  No, not in the least.  A forgettful band?  Yes, most certainly.  You see, pg.lost jumped on that bandwagon that has since taken a toll on the genre.  You know, the twinkly, crescendo lade post-rock that reared its head around ever corner.  The very same bandwagon that allowed reviewers and music fans to attach "RIYL: Explosions in the Sky" and the ilk.  Well, that's pg. lost in a nutshell. But I digress.

Artist of the Day: The XX

With surprising frequency I find myself sitting at my desk growing tired of silence but incapable of choosing something to listen to. These moods are difficult to deal with, as doing nothing about it is frustrating but forcing myself to listen to something is often worse. A common resolution to such unfortunate situations is England’s The XX (also Jack Johnson’s On and On, but that is for another day).

Though my knowledge of the group’s history and discography is limited, I have a hard time turning down their 2009 release, xx. The group’s sound is pretty minimalistic, featuring programmed percussion, light guitar work, thick bass lines, clever orchestration and a male and female duet that is endlessly pleasing. Though occasionally edging on artsy, there is no pretentious attitude lurking to detract from the release. Anyone looking for an interesting soundtrack to their work or play will find something to value in The XX.

Definitely check out their Facebook page here.

Album Review: Dinosaur Feathers - Whistle Tips

Album Rating: C
What feels worse to me than an album that is a straight up flop is an album that you love on first listen, but fails to withstand the test of time. The first handful of listens you fall head-over-heels in love with it, and after that it starts to turn sour and you only revisit it every so often. Such is the story of Dinosaur Feather's 2010 debut, Fantasy Memorial and I. The poppier take on Sung Tongs-era Animal Collective on tracks such as "Family Waves," "Teenage Whore" and "Fantasy Memorial," grabbed my heart and didn't let go until I listened to the album enough times. After that, the record wasn't nearly as good as a listen as it used to be, although it still remained as one of my favorite albums of that year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Album Review: Maps & Atlases - Beware and Be Grateful

Album Rating: B+
It’s fairly easy to dismiss Beware and Be Grateful as a by-the-numbers pop-centric album, one riddled with feel-good hooks and infectious choruses. Truth is, it sort of is, but it’s also so much more than that. There’s something undeniably admirable about how Dave Davison and co. write. Their music is readily accessible, emulating a tamer version of TV on the Radio, except that it’s rather intricate and surprisingly technical. That’s the thing that I love most about Maps & Atlases though: their music is technical and mathy, but not suffocatingly so. We can compare them to artists like TV on the Radio and Vampire Weekend because they’re user-friendly, and later, when we’re listening more attentively, we can pick out all of the cool little nuances. Akin (contextually, not in sound) to a band like Rush, Maps & Atlases can -and do- include subtle complexities in their music that most people won’t notice, but they’re able to retain a broad appeal while maintaining integrity, and that’s something to be commended.

Album Review: Drew Smith- The Secret Languages

Album Rating: A-
I am still fascinated by Sun Kil Moon's Modest Mouse cover album Tiny Cities. They made one of the most unique bands in the world even more unique by giving them an acoustic song, putting more emphasis on their song lyrics, and turning the goofy and sarcastic side of Modest Mouse into a beautiful and soulful side. I am probably going to end up considering that cover album a classic album because it made five "average" Modest Mouse songs into classics ("Space Travel is Boring is one of the catchiest songs I have heard in a long time, "Trucker's Atlas is so damn beautiful and even borderline romantic, "Neverending Math Equation" is one of the finest folk covers I have ever heard, "Jesus Christ Was An Only Child" is one of the albums more emotional songs, and "Ocean Breathes Salty" might end up being one of my favorite songs of all-time,) it made songs that were harsh and sarcastic beautiful and romantic, it gave a band that didn't have much of a soul another side, and it completely changed my thoughts on covers and the cover album in general.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Album Review: The Forecast - Everybody Left

Album Rating: B+
Geographic location always bleeds itself into a group's music. Many Californian bands bring up surfing and hanging at the beach, while east coast bands seem to be focused more on suburban life. But, the stereotypical midwestern band has a bit of a different behavior from the coast bands, as it seems that the midwestern bands just want to get away from that place. Using that lyrical focus as well as the geographical influence of midwestern emo, The Forecast has crafted one of the stronger efforts of the first third of 2012 in Everybody Left.

Live Review: Graham Coxon, The Sage Gateshead, 15/04/2012

With huge outdoor shows and the Olympics closing ceremony beckoning, no one could begrudge Blur guitarist Graham Coxon a few months off ahead of what promises to be a monumental summer. Not one to rest on his laurels, the 43-year-old is instead spending spring embarking on the latest leg of his solo career, a comparatively low-key venture which has slowly gathered steam and thus far yielded eight studio albums. The latest of those, A+E, arrived earlier this month, stimulating a fresh wave of goodwill in Coxon's direction and arguably making this current tour his most keenly observed to date. Hall Two of The Sage proved a suitably intimate - if slightly formal - setting in which to unleash his signature lo-fi clutter, the strength of which was proven beyond doubt over the course of this 90 minute set.

Artist Of The Day: Refused and The Weeknd Coachella Performances

I don't think there's any argument that Coachella had the best lineup of pretty much any festival announced so far for 2012. So,  when it was announced that Coachella would be live streamed again this year, it became a can't miss Internet event. While there were plenty of awesome sets played, including those by M83, SBTRKT, Bon Iver and St. Vincent, two sets stood out above the rest.

On Friday, Refused made sure everyone knew they were back. After breaking up in 1998, the band just recently reunited, and only played a couple shows before their Coachella reemergence. Even 14 years later, the members still had the youthful punky energy that allowed them to put out one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last 20 years in The Shape Of Punk To Come. The performance was absolutely flawless, and it only leads to more excitement for the band's future plans.

On the other side of the spectrum, The Weekend played his first ever show in the US on Sunday. Playing songs off his three mixtapes from 2011 as well as "Crew Love" from Drake's latest album (a definite highlight of the night), Abel Tesfaye showcased his absolutely majestic voice, which may be even stronger live than recorded. Previously a man of mystery, Abel busted into everyone's sight with his performance, asserting himself as one of the most creative and talented artists currently making music.

You can watch "New Noise" by Refused here, as well as The Weeknd's entire Coachella set here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Album Review: La Sera - Sees The Light

Album Rating: B+
An artist is not supposed to put out two quality albums in two years unless they are the Beatles. Releasing two quality albums in two years is like having a Summer Olympics every two years instead of every four years, like having a World Cup every three years instead of four, like electing a President every year instead of every four years, like having a big LIVE AID concert every couple of years instead of every couple of decades, and like having a new woman every two hours (which is impossible unless you are Casey Whitman.) We are programmed to believe that a good album is like a painting and the artist has to take time to mold it (write the songs for it,) work on several drafts of it (record and master it,) and then begin to share it (let some people listen to it before really releasing it.) This process in itself should take at least around 20 months, if we still want to believe that our favorite artists are still releasing "art." An artist releasing two quality albums in two years is nearly impossible because the second album would be rushed, incomplete, and inconsistent and would be a rough draft instead of a complete and beautiful painting.

Album Review: Balance and Composure - Acoustic 7"

Album Rating: B+
After trying his hand at pop punk bands and becoming jaded due to the unoriginality of the scene, singer and songwriter Jon Simmons went on to form Balance and Composure, an alternative/indie rock band from Doylestown, PA.  Since the band’s inception in 2007, they have released through No Sleep Records two EPs, a split with Tigers Jaw, a full length titled Separation, and most recently an acoustic 7”.    The acoustic EP features three songs from Separation that translate seamlessly and only further prove Balance and Composure’s competence and depth as musicians. 

Artist of The Day: Silver Swans

I have always thought that there is a pretty huge difference between having "freedom" and being "free." Having freedom means you can choose your career, your lover, your house, and even something as futile as your politics. Just because you have the ability to choose doesn't mean you have the ability to be happy, though. Freedom to me just means you have a few choices and you have the opportunity to better or worsen yourself with one of those choices. I have always thought that being free means that you could make any of those choices and still be joyful, that you could make any of those choices and still have hope, and no matter what choices you make you still have a pulse and you still have the opportunity to succeed. Freedom is the ability to choose and being free is the ability to be content with whatever good or bad decision or decisions you have made or will make.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Artist of the Day: Brian Lee O'Malley

Fans of Muzik Dizcovery, today's my birthday. And everyone loves to feel good on their birthday, right? That's why I'm featuring Bryan Lee O'Malley on today's Artist of the Day.

Who the hell is Bryan Lee O'Malley? Well, have you ever heard of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? Yeah, he wrote those. He is also a one-man lo-fi musical project called Kupek. O'Malley makes music with Kupek whenever he's feeling low, or unwanted, or dejected, or...well, human. With a first record released in 2002, he's gone on to write five or six albums (depending on whether you count a split with Faux Photos as an album or not). And while it seems that Kupek may be on a brief pause between releases, with the most recent having been put out in 2009, I have a feeling that Kupek isn't necessarily gone. Bryan Lee O'Malley is Kupek, and Kupek is O'Malley. He pours a lot of feeling into the records, and you can tell that despite the mediocrity of audio quality, there's a lot of love that's gone into refining and polishing these records.

The musical style of Kupek is mostly acoustic. As time has progressed, though, so has the musical experimentation that's gone into Kupek. In more recent releases, there has been experimentation with synthesizer, hip-hop beats, and electric guitar, but O'Malley's voice always remains the human constant, providing a reachable and tangible connection with the listener. From songs about breakups to covers of songs about sinking ships, from headless horsemen to laying in bed with cats, O'Malley never fails to reach a certain part of us that we're never really sure is there ourselves, until it's displayed for us, plain to see, in a simple and lyrical fashion. Kupek makes me feel good, as if I should. And I do today, celebrating my life with humanizing music feels appropriate.

You can pick all of Kupek's music up for free (don't worry, it's legal!) on O'Malley's very own site.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Artist of the Day: Foxes In Fiction

In about 12 hours from the time of me writing this, I will be on my first flight ever, from New Jersey to Arizona. And of course, in the wake of such an event, there was no way that I couldn't anticipate the soundtrack to my journey. And, the first option that popped into my head was Foxes In Fiction's 2010 debut, Swung From The Branches. The lush soundscapes of Ontario resident Warren Hildebrand feel like the perfect accompanyment to watching the world fly by from the stratosphere.

Foxes In Fiction was first exposed to the world in a peculiar manner, when one of his songs "Jimi Bleachball" was retagged as a song titled "Faders", by a fictional artist named A.E. (accompanied by a cover which appeared to be a homage to Atlas Sound's Logos). After the song's true identity was revealed, the album which it hailed from, Swung From The Branches, began to garner much acclaim, and was hailed as one of the greatest ambient releases in a while.

The music of Warren Hildenbrad is extremely versatile, and has an atmosphere that could really take you somewhere else. Ambient tracks such as "Basement Window" or "Sleeping Building Unsuspecting" could put you up on a cloud and let you peacefully float thousands of feet above sea level, while poppier numbers such as "Jimi Bleachball" or "Ativan 15" could put you in the most summery of feels. Either way, I'm certainly looking forward to flying with Hildebrand.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Artist Spotlight: The Lopez

If there's one thing that's for sure about music from The Lopez, it's the fact that your kindergarten teacher would absolutely loathe it.  Frontwoman Stephenwolf and everything-else-guy Jesse, collectively The Lopez, have failed to retain any notion of "inside voices" from their elementary school days, a move that seems to have worked out in everyone but Mrs. D'Amato's favor.  While "loud" alone can't adequately describe the noisy duo's blend of fuzz-laden garage pop and synth-punk, it's tough not to become immediately engrossed in the high volume ferocity of their craft.  Combining the acid-drowned noisiness of an act like Wavves with some true blue shoegaze a la No Age, The Lopez bring California's lazy blue waves to Rust Belt Way, USA.  Stick it to grandma's eardrums with head-spinner 'Obedience', or get lost in the unrelenting drum machine cacophony of 'Dougie' (minus the silly dance) - either way, be sure to check out the Pittsburgh duo's self-titled EP before Ma and Pa make it home from work. 

Stream and download The Lopez on BandCamp, or like them over on Facebook.

Album Review: Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Album Rating: B+
When Jason Pierce confirmed that the latest Spiritualized album would be directly influenced by his singular space-rock masterwork Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, the sense of anticipation among followers understandably rocketed. That excitement morphed into sheer delirium upon the unveiling of lead single 'Hey Jane,' a sprawling journey which delivered practically everything that anyone had dared hope for and effectively eclipsed any remaining misgivings regarding that direction. There were shameless odes to the past - most notably the iconic drones recycled straight from 'I Think I'm In Love' - but far from being purely derivative it also pushed Pierce and his band into new, adventurous and outright thrilling territory. At eight mind-bending minutes, it was unmistakably Spiritualized, and although a little more upbeat than we've become accustomed to, it made for one hell of a taster.

Album Review: Forrest - Before You Go


Album Rating: B
If it was not already wildly apparent, 90s emo revival is “in.”  Perhaps it was Title Fight’s exposure that triggered the formation of band after band that plays the same minor chords and croons in the same desperate manner about some life-ending tragedy.  That being said, this whole emo/punk revival is not so bad because the majority of the bands in the genre play from the heart.  South Wales newcomers, Forrest, are a prime example of the genre’s authenticity and demonstrate on Before You Go that a band does not have to reinvent the wheel to put out an enjoyable EP.

Artist Of The Day: Admiral Fallow

Over the past few years, Frightened Rabbit have deservedly established themselves as the immovable face of Scottish folk music, but peak beneath the surface and you'll discover a scene that's not only extensive but also flourishing. Having done their rounds supporting Hutchinson & co back in 2010, Glasgow collective Admiral Fallow are now gaining a foothold and beginning to establish themselves as one of the most notable names in the tartan folkesphere, no mean feat given the wealth of bearded quality that the nation has to offer. With a sophomore album imminent, they're all set to cement that glowing reputation, and with a little luck could extend it beyond the realms of their homeland and morph into an internationally recognised force.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Various Artists: The Sound Supply: Supply Drop #2

Indie music is a wonderful thing. Artists releasing albums without having to cater to the wants and desires of record labels have a step-up to those chained down to demanding producers. A big problem for indie artists, though, since they don't have the label to back up their distribution, is getting their music out to the public. They don't have a lot of press unless the listener already knows who they are, and it's difficult for them to get word out. The Sound Supply is one of those fantastic mediums that helps indie artists really spread their sound, opening a small artist up to a group of people that will take to their musical ideas with widespread arms. If you haven't heard of The Sound Supply before, it's really worth a look at their "Supply Drops", because they sell a LOT of great music for a most excellent price. They feature bands like Owen, Matt Pryor, Jeremy Enigk, TS and the Past Haunts, and other indie names to get to know and love. If you want to support indie bands but don't have a lot of income, it's definitely worth it.

You can find the second Supply Drop at Sound Supply's site here.

Artist Of The Day: Grimes

Grimes' 2012 album, Visions, is unquestionably a product of the internet age. That isn't to say it falls under the category of by-the-numbers electronica albums being pumped out nowadays. Quite the contrary; Visions is a dream-pop album worthy of every bit of praise it receives. Unlike the inconsistencies found within Grimes' other albums, Geidi Primes and Halfaxa, Visions is a wholly enjoyable, focused effort from Grimes, seeing the young female artist find a pleasing middle-ground between the resplendent child-like nature of her voice and the pulsating bass and electronics that refuse to sit still. The end result is an album that draws from several genres such as: IDM, Industrial, New-Age, Pop, etc. Highly recommended.
Listen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Album Retrospective: Bright Eyes - Don't Be Frightened of Turning The Page

Album Rating: B+
In 2008 the greatest sportswriter of all time Bill Simmons released his Book of Basketball, a 734 page epic that dissected every player and every team from every era of professional basketball. I enjoyed reading Simmons witty takes on Wilt Chamberlain, the '96 Bulls, Rick Barry's racism, where the phrase "we better get out of dodge!" came from, and why LeBron James might end up being the greatest professional basketball player of all-time.

But what I enjoyed the most was Simmons actually having an original take on why Michael Jordan was the greatest player of all-time. Most writers would have just said that Jordan was the best player because of how many points he had, how many championships he won, how many MVP's he won, and how he only drafted Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison one time. But Simmons said that Jordan was the greatest player of all-time because his career peaked four times when most players only have one peak: he said that Jordan's first peak (MJ 1.0) was in the 1989-1990 season when he became one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game, he said that Jordan's second peak (MJ 3.0) was in the spring of the 1993 season when he learned how to be a team player instead of just a scorer, he said Jordan's third peak (MJ 3.0) came in the Winter of the 1996 season when he matched his extreme talent with his "extrememe resourcefulness," and he said Jordan's fourth peak (MJ 4.0) came in his last season with the Bulls ('97-'98) when he matched his skill and resourcefulness with a "surreal ability to command in optimum moments." Simmons said that MJ was the greatest player of all-time because he was the only player competitive and talented enough to peak four times over one single career.