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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Artist Spotlight: 65daysofstatic

In celebration of being busy and occupied with tours and music-making (strange thing to celebrate, right?), 65daysofstatic honors their audiences with a free-to-download EP, The Last Dance. The band has been busy of late, what with the Silent Running soundtrack late last year, and both We Were Exploding Anyway and the Heavy Sky EP the year before. However, the EP they're releasing is all previously released material, and is really more of a sampler, featuring tracks from each of the three previous releases aforementioned. A healthy mix of more space-rock / ambient things from Silent Running will mix well with their more lively material from 2010 is a great way to remind fans what they're capable of, and an even better way to introduce those who are new to the 65 club to a variable platter of their musical tastes. The Last Dance has a lot of really great material, and is definitely worth picking up at no cost to yourself for a sampler of fun hits from a well-established post-rock band.

As I said before, the release is 100% free, and can be streamed, torrented, or downloaded here.

Artist Spotlight: Collapse Under The Empire

Since reviewing Collapse Under The Empire's last effort, I hadn't realized that they were working on a new album to release this year. However, Fragments Of A Prayer is coming this fall, and the band is in full recording force. For example, the guys of Collapse released a new song in anticipation of the album, just to keep fans satiated until autumn. "Dragonfly" has a bit of a faster, progressive feel than anything off of Shoulders & Giants did, which is a nice change for the band, as the last release was set into darker, more chaotic post-rock. The track actually feels like something God Is An Astronaut would release on an upcoming album, which is a potential reason I'm as partial to "Dragonfly" as I am. However, I think the track will do some good in keeping fans held over until Fragments is released. If you're excited for some echoing, quick-paced post-rock, take a listen to "Dragonfly" and eagerly await the release of Fragments Of A Prayer with me.

You can download "Dragonfly" for free from Collapse Under The Empire's own site.

Album Review: Icarus the Owl - Love Always, Leviathan

Album Rating: B+
I'm not majoring in marketing, no, but still something tells me that Icarus the Owl is doing everything correctly in order to sell their second full-length. Their name’s memorable, the album artwork is as grandiose as ever, and even the song titles are a delight, being a blend of importance and classiness. Upon further inspection, though, what’s most surprising is that Love Always, Leviathan holds up to these preconceived notions rather nicely. The music’s just as refreshing as the artwork would suggest, albeit not quite in the same way as expected.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Album Retrospective: Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Album Rating: B+
As summer rolls in, there's a lot of music that really fits the mood of relaxing and keeping cool, or being active and alive and joyful. I think music is an important part of making these activities memorable, and making a good experience out of something as simple as driving on a beautiful day, or playing frisbee in the park. While we don't connect with these albums on a deeply emotional level, they can make something trivial into something momentarily grand, an attention grabber that can make our day. I think Broken Social Scene's latest and final effort really fits the bill beautifully. Forgiveness Rock Record has some special qualities about it that would simply and easily make a summer day into a musical delight.

Artist of the Day- Paul Simon

August marks the 25th anniversary of Rhymin' Simon's landmark solo album, Graceland. There's a strong possibility that there hasn't been a better album released since the record hit shelves.

Paul Simon always had an ear for hooks and choruses, especially when paired with partner in crime Art Garfunkel. But Graceland stripped away his acoustic guitar, a crutch for some of his more underwhelming material and dropped him into the heart of South Africa.

Opener "Boy in the Bubble" starts with a moody accordion solo, and while Simon strums his acoustic guitar, it gets lost between haunting synthesizers and constant rat-a-tatting of snare drums. "Graceland" opts for bluesy steel guitar riffs and background vocals from the Everly Brothers, but it's Simon whose softly-sung choruses and rambling verses absolutely soar.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Artist Of The Day - Silent Old Mtns.

Silent Old Mtns. have come very far from their very first acoustic demos. Now a six piece band, their debut album Velvet Raccoon is finely tuned folk rock album, where vocalist Andrew Bromhal has finally focused his unique voice and added some force that the earlier recordings were missing. The album sounds top notch, as though it was recorded in a bigger studio than it was, allowing the many layers of guitar, banjo, bass, drums, and keys to shine through. Opener "Ash & Bone" is based off of a groovy bass riff, but soon opens up into a powerful, yet catchy chorus where each member is involved in creating the song's atmosphere. First single "Dead All The Time" may feel like a simple acoustic song which grows into a rocker, but there's a charm in the chorus that can appeal to a widespread audience. Silent Old Mtns. also allow themselves to experiment throughout the album, such as in "Monsters." "Monsters" is a track that starts quiet, but soon adds some crunchiness in the background instrumentals, with banjoist Sam Whalen finally contributing his poetic yelps to the mix in the last minute of the seven minute long track. Whalan also shows off his excellent delivery over the last three minutes of "Mine To Give." The poetry is a staple of their live performances, and while it upsets me that it isn't used more often on the album, it makes the specific moments even more intensely captivating. Velvet Raccoon is hard to classify and unconventional, but the band has made an enormous leap, blowing away even my high expectations. You can stream and download the whole album for FREE on Bandcamp right here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Live Review: Maximo Park - RPM, Reflex and Beatdown Records - 16/06/2012

Last Saturday, I could have joined the rest of my small countryside village in celebrating the arrival of the Olympic torch on its relay around Great Britain. Instead, I made the short journey to Newcastle to bear witness to another once in a lifetime event - local heroes Maximo Park breaking the world record for the number of in-store record shop performances in a single day! Ok, the appeal wasn't quite so universal as the beacon of the world's greatest sporting event turning up on your doorstep, but the 'Maximo marathon' nevertheless proved a fine way to pass the afternoon.

On the main leg of their run, the Geordie quintet checked-in to three of the city's finest independents - RPM, Reflex and Beatdown Records - having visited Stockton's Sound It Out Records and Sunderland's Hot Rats earlier in the day. Each venue was afforded roughly half an hour of music, after which the band would sign autographs, pack up and be followed across the town by an assembly of fans, most of whom turned up to all three appearances.

Interview With O'Brother

I can safely say that after three shows, O'Brother is one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Combining blissful ambiance with bone crushing heaviness and powerful riffs, the band's live performance is one to be seen. Between shows on Thrice's final tour, the band took some time to talk to MuzikDizcovery on topics such as Thrice's farewell tour, "Lo" being on alternative radio, the new repressing of Garden Window, the uses of Sriracha, a plan to write this summer, and much more, which you can read below.

Album Review: Mixtapes - Even on the Worst Nights

Album Rating: B
Even on the Worst Nights is not a life-affirming record. In ten years, no one will ask you where you were when Mixtapes released it. Let's say pop-punk bands are like grapes. Fireworks and The Wonder Years matured into fine wine with Gospel and The Upsides. But maybe Mixtapes doesn't want to be a Pinot Noir or a Merlot. Maybe being cool and refreshing grape juice suits them just fine, thank you very much. And really: who doesn't like an ice-cold glass of grape juice in the summer?

Dizcovering Muzik: Volume Two Out Now

I am pleased to announce that the free download of our second compilation Dizcovering Muzik: Volume Two is now available, featuring tracks by Maps and Atlases, Jukebox The Ghost, The American Dollar, I Call Fives, Now, Now, Mansions, The Forecast, Athletics, and many more. All of the bands are personal favorites of us at MuzikDizcovery, and there will absolutely be something that everyone can enjoy. Feel free to stream and download via the link below, and let us know what your favorite tracks are. 
Thank you everyone for supporting the site, and here's to another three years!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Artist Of The Day: 10 Paces, Fire

You may remember seeing 10 Paces, Fire on my honorable mentions from last year. The band resurfaced in my memory when I won half off some merchandise for a silly little Facebook fan-page contest, and I received their full length, Lakes Refract & Lakes Reflect, in hard copy shortly after. You can read more about the album on my review of it, but honestly, I had so much as forgotten about it until I'd gotten that CD, and I started listening to it again.

Lo and behold, I was instantly immersed in a wave of nostalgia, thinking and analyzing the record before Andy Wambach's 90's pop-punk, not-so-in-tune whine kicks in on the second track, "Party Hats At 2 O'Clock," and quickly remembering just how truly brilliant I thought the album was on my first time through it. I was a little taken aback by how similarly I'd felt six or so months after release, but in the early morning, on my drive to the daily grind aboard gritty public trains, the record really picks me up emotionally.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Album Review: Athletics - Who You Are Is Not Enough

Album Rating: A-
The idea of a concept album is pretty interesting, but perhaps not so viable in the post-rock setting. However, that doesn't stop New Jersey-based band Athletics from working on such a record. The inclusion of vocals is pretty important if anything related to a concept album is going to be well-developed, though, and the band takes this into account. The result is remarkable. The entire record, a 30-minute work, is one "song" divided into five parts that work off of a central theme, introduced in the first part. It's incredible, and takes the style of a classical theme and variations as opposed to separate parts of an album that flow into one giant collection. Who You Are Is Not Enough breathes, lives, and exudes subtle shifts between the parts that dynamically move the ambiance of each song, and in succeeding, the listener as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Artist Of The Day: Arab Strap

Scottish people are notorious for their dour nature, but Aiden Moffat and Malcolm Middleton took that took that notion to whole new sullen levels. Hailing from Falkirk, the pair began collaborating under the Arab Strap name in 1995, and quickly established themselves as key players in the nation's flourishing indie scene. The contrast with fellow frontrunners such as Teenage Fanclub and Belle & Sebastian could not however have been more sharp. Whilst the former pair largely dealt in upbeat and occasionally twee doses of indie pop, Arab Strap wallowed in the glum, uninviting world of "sadcore," and as questionable as that tag is, it's neigh on impossible to think of a better description. Based overwhelmingly around Moffat's blunt and tortured sexual observations, their pissed-up, lethargic and perennially oppressed music is practically unlistenable in most situations. On a late, drowsy and preferably drunken night, though, there's no beating them, especially if like me you bow to anything bearing an unashamedly broad Scottish accent.

In fairness, the duo did lighten their tone a little before disbanding in 2006, but Moffat's lyrical themes were not to be compromised, effectively casting Arab Strap as the archetypal Scottish miserablists.

Recommended Album


Philophobia's opening lyric is as follows:

"It was the biggest ever cock you'd ever seen, 
but you've no idea where that cock has been. 
You said you were careful 
you never were with me. 
 I heard you did it four times
and jonnies come in packs of three."

You get the picture.



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Artist of the Day: Sithu Aye

Dabbling within the realms of progressive metal one catchy riff at a time, Sithu Aye has placed himself in quite the advantageous position as of late. His discography begins with 2011's diverse, yet cohesive full-length Cassini, which showed much of the songwriting capacity that the guitarist is capable of.

Stream Cassini here
Cassini emphasized groove over instrumental technicalities, and bolstered some unforgettable tracks as well as immaculate mixing and production. This means even more, considering the fact that it was completed by only one man. Then, 2012 brought the most enjoyable effort from Sithu Aye yet, the brief but comprehensive EP Isles

Listen to Isles here.
Isles is a diamond in the rough, simply because it doesn't adhere to the norms placed upon instrumental progressive artists. It certainly has no need to, either; delightfully deep tracks result from a decidedly straightforward approach. The orchestral swells that open the album soon give way to the heavy "Skye," possibly my song of the year thus far. Although it's heavy, though, the track maintains a melodic context that propels its creator to the forefront of his genre's scene. From that blistering moment to "Mull"'s irresistible chorus, and from the tension released in "Jura" to the calming lull titled "Cuillin," there's enough variety in this short and sweet EP for anyone wanting something fresh in the genre.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Album Review: Motion City Soundtrack - Go

Album Rating: B
Motion City Soundtrack is no stranger to dark albums. My Dinosaur Life was just that, from the aggressively attacking guitars on "Disappear" to the moody synths of "Delirium," an off-kilter tune with lyrics about battling substance abuse. Much to the chagrin of an outspoken number of fans, Justin Pierre and company have flexed their pop writing chops as well. Even If It Kills Me is almost entirely a straight-up pop record. Would piano ballad "The Conversation" fit on I Am the Movie? How about wedging goofy "Calling All Cops" onto Commit This To Memory? Probably not.

Album Review: Beau Navire - Lumens

Album Rating: B+
Beau Navire is as Beau Navire does.  For the past two years the band has been making waves within the emotional hardcore community with their distinctly abbrasive delivery and old-school sound.  Last year's Hours was the band's crowning achievement up until that point.  Amidst some impressive early work and a great debut, Hours still stood tall.  Hearkening back to acts such as Saetia and Orchid, it was a brilliantly crafted record in a sea of passable and derivative works.  A mere year later, Beau Navire has appeared to show the world that it isn't a band that rests on its laurels.

Album Review: Carlos Cipa - The Monarch and the Viceroy

Album Rating: A-
Today's contrived attempt at "neo-classical" music is admirable, but flawed at best.  Any musician with some strings and piano is slapped with the tag, sometimes without the slightest bit of effort.  Music that flows and moves beautifully because of the aformentioned instruements is seen as some transcended classical movement, even when thoughtful composition takes a back seat to style.  Today, many of the hype surrounds more minimalistic artists with ambient overtones.  As beautiful as this music may be, it lacks the intensity of what true classical music has.  Famous composers of the past imbued their brilliantly crafted music with a fiery passion most musicians can scarcly muster.  Carlos Cipa, on the other hand, does so masterfully.

Artist of the Day: Fierce Brosnan

Although today’s Artist of the Day has technically been dead in the dirt for some time now, Fierce Brosnan is more than deserving of a minute in the spotlight.  The New Jersey four-piece just released their one and only full length, Good Luck Exploding, comprised of 11 shamelessly catchy punk tunes that were originally recorded nearly two years ago.  Now that the tracks have finally seen the light of day, one cannot help but wonder why the band took so long to finish something so frankly awesome.  Combining hearty, anthemic vocals (a la Iron Chic) with dancey rhythms and emo/math-rock inspired guitar riffs, the final product strives to be unique yet retains the familiarity and appeal of the gruffer side of the pop punk spectrum.  “Joneric,” for example, highlights the album’s best qualities with infectious group vocals and standout guitar playing, but most importantly, the song captures the undeniable essence of “fun” (through the use of celebratory shouting and background chatter) that makes the record so enjoyable.  Though Fierce Brosnan are unfortunately no longer a band, Good Luck Exploding is an excellent testament to the band’s short-lived existence, and captures every ounce of heart and authenticity that went into the record. 

Check out the record here

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Artist of the Day: MONO

The amount of talk over how "dead" the post-rock scene is near deafening.  For years, listeners have been critical of the genre's decline and insistence on sticking to its roots.  Although typically at the forefront of that arguement, MONO is a post-rock band with a sound all its own.  They often adhere to the "climax" formula a little too much, but all in all the sense of intensity and drama is unmatched.  MONO creates some of the boldest and most grandiose music out there today.  For years they have been crafting their tried and true sound, ultimately perfecting it with 2009's Hymn to the Immortal Wind. 

Now three years later, the band has announced their latest album, For Your Parents.  Colaborating with the same team from their live DVD, MONO's latest will reveal whether or not the band will stick with what they know or dabble in experimentation.  Regardless, For Your Parents comes out September 4.


Album Review: 2:54 - 2:54

Album Rating: B-
For all of its heavy influences and gloomy overtones, what's immediately noticeable about 2:54's debut is just how slick a beast it is. This may seem contradictive, but for sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow it's come as something of a realisation of their early progress. Buoyed by the acclaim they received upon forming in 2010, the pair has displayed admiral decisiveness in the way that they've already moved to refine and eradicate their primitive glitches. The result is a record that's overwhelmingly streamlined, but also one pruned so thoroughly that it genuinely borders on perfection. At times, this development is so advanced that it's a wonder they're still an act in their infancy, but there are nevertheless some terminal strands of na├»vety which keep them grounded and betray that newcomer status.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live Review: Thrice Farewell Tour, Howard Theatre (5/23/12)

Most bands would kill for the 14 year career that Thrice may be finishing. From being signed to a label after their first record, and going to a major label after their second, to having songs on video games, to touring around the world with fantastic bands such as Dashboard Confessional, Hot Water Music, Brand New, Circa Survive and mewithoutYou, one may say that Thrice has done it all. Now (technically) eight full length albums into their career, the band is deciding to hang it up. While fans are still hopeful that there may be more Thrice in our future, they still experienced Thrice's farewell tour as if it was their last. Amongst the crowd surfing, stage diving, mosh pits, and endless singalongs, Thrice put together a massive 24 song set that took from all eras of the band's career, highlighting the peaks of every diverse sound they decided to take on.

Artist of the Day: Caravan Palace

Let's party like it's the mother-f*cking 1930's!

At least, that's what I thought to myself when I first set my ears to Caravan Palace as they dropped an EP towards the end of last year. Trawling through their back catalogue I was delighted to find that, since releasing their fantastic debut LP back in 2008, this Parisian troupe has been fleshing out swing music with generous doses of bass and, I'm struggling for a better word here I assure you, mojo. The result is something quite unlike anything I've heard before, but at the same time it may just be the most invigorating and electrifying styles of music out there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Artist of the Day: The Hold Steady

In 1974, music critic Jon Landau saw a 25-year-old hotshot Bruce Springsteen performing on the heels of The Wild, the Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. He famously remarked, "I saw rock and roll's future, and it's name is Bruce Springsteen." The same could probably have been said for The Hold Steady. The barroom rockers claim more influence from The Band than The Boss: Lead singer Craig Finn and guitarist Tad Kubler dreamed up the band while watching The Band's 2004 concert film, "The Last Waltz." But their crunchy, Americana-tinged roots and Finn's lyrics about the hopes and heartbreaks of fast-living youths reads straight out of the Springsteen songbook.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview With Athletics

As mentioned in my latest Artist Of The Day post, Athletics is having quite a busy month. The vinyl release (personal picture here) and EP of piano renditions have both been extremely successful so far, and the album release is coming closer and closer. The band took some questions from us regarding these three events, specifically how the touch sensitive ink on the vinyl packaging went along with the album's themes, why the band chose the four songs to be recreated on piano, differences between the last album and the new album, and much more which you can read below.

Three Year Anniversary + Dizcovering Muzik: Volume 2 Announcement

So today's a big day for us at MuzikDizcovery. Three years ago, on June 18, 2009, I started up a little Blogspot page and started writing (extremely poorly written) reviews and spotlights. While my writing and musical taste has improved (although some of you may disagree), I've still kept the same opinions on what a music site should be, and that is what has kept the site running for all these years.

But none of you care about that, so here's the big news you've all been waiting for. In honor of our three year anniversary, I'd like to give back to everyone who's ever clicked on a review on our site.  On June 25, we're giving away our second sampler, full of the best music you've seen here on the site. Bands such as Now, Now, Maps and Atlases, The American Dollar, Jukebox The Ghost, I Call Fives, and many more have donated tracks to this assembly of excellent music across many different genres, and I feel it's a great representation of the wide variety that we cover on the site. Below, you can see the album art and a preliminary list of tracks that you may see on the sampler. All of these tracks have been confirmed, and quite a few more are on the way. You can follow the additions on our Facebook page.

Album Review: Kira Kira - Feathermagnetik

Album Rating: A-
Kira Kira is an artist who’s always struck me as rather unimpressed with her Icelandic musical heritage. As a founding member of Kitchen Motors, an experimental, multi-media label and collective, and now with her own solo work, she opposes the commonly held stereotype that the main music export her country has to offer is soft, emotionally indulgent post-rock and classical (Sigur Ros, Olafur Arnalds, Rokkurro... take your pick). To this point, every group of notes she sets her name to contains at least a hint of subtle and deliberate awkwardness. Her previous outing, the off-putting-ly named Our Map To The Monster Olympics, saw her strung taut between this unpredictable edge and a more expected tinge of inoffensive Scandinavian folktronica. It was an album that invited you in with soft, beautiful hooks only to slam the door in your face at the last moment in a confusingly dichotic display. Almost thankfully, Feathermagnetik is another matter entirely. It’s the result of Kira Kira taking an axe to her sound: stripping off the fat of her indie-folk influences to leave an immensely experimental effort both quiet and hesitant yet equally as tentative. Instead of inviting you in it waits upstairs for you to find your own way, the door left only slightly askew. The sweetness of her voice replaced with but a whisper; beauty fluttering down on a lonely sigh of woodwind.

Album Review: Man Without Country - Foe

Album Rating: B+
M83 has done a number on us as a music culture. We’re still dreaming, apparently - this is more than alright, considering how much of a universal bombshell Anthony Gonzalez’s latest offering was and how immediately it affected the indie world as we knew it. The double album captured the ideologies of disillusioned teens and adults alike with its simple concept, letting your imagination and dreams run rampant. After all, the album featured a kid rambling about frogs at one point, and the album cover’s duo ignited fire in the hearts of those of us who never quite grew up. People of our ilk must be everywhere, because the album was too; Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming effortlessly climbed its way to the top of everybody’s lists of 2011 and then some. The catalyst for this mass movement was the youthful energy present on the release. We all ache for simpler times, the days when crayons and Sharpies were our utensils to success; enough of keyboards and ballpoint pens, we say.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Artist of The Day: Porcelain Raft

It is tough to describe Porcelain Raft's sound without sounding insanely hyperbolic or at least borderline high.  That is why even though I have started a review for Strange Weekend about 12 times since the albums release in late January, I have never been able to write a complete review for the album.  The album combines everything we love about aesthetic and atmospheric indie pop: "Drifting In and Out" combines the spaced out and dissident sounds of The xx and MGMT, "Shapeless & Gone" sounds like a weird combination of a 1990's electronica song with a sappy Coldplay acoustic song, "Is It Too Deep For You?" sounds like a structured and catchy version of one of The King of Limbs remixes, "Backwords" is the modern day indie ballad: it is something you can cry and dance to, it is something you can trip out to and sleep to, and it is something you can you can enjoy without feeling guilty, "Unless You Speak From The Heart" sounds more hip hop and jazzy than indie, and "The Way In" is the band showing vulnerability and simplicity for the first time on the ten track album.

Porcelain Raft has a sound that is both promising and perplexing, game changing and gregarious, simplistic and complicated, and futuristic yet a throwback.  It is fitting that the album is called Strange Weekend because at the end of the album you end up knowing you experienced something brilliant, confusing, important, sincere, and even romantic.  Yet like a Strange Weekend, the only thing you take away from it is that it happened.  Maybe on Porcelain Raft's next album I will finally know what that happening means.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Artist of the Day: M83

M83 has garnered some serious respect after the release of their most recent album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, and having the first single off of that album, "Midnight City," become a huge hit with electronic music fans everywhere. For most of these people though, M83 is a one-hit wonder, and the rest of the band's work is completely unknown. Who is M83? What was their music like before the present? It's actually a fantastically interesting musical history that's led to this point.

M83 is the brainchild of French multi-instrumentalist Anthony Gonzalez, who does a lot of recording for the band on his own. However, for the first two albums (M83; Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts), he was assisted by Nicolas Fromageau, and I think it's really interesting to note that these are M83's two biggest albums with post-rock fans. The first album that started to garner M83 more attention than these two smaller releases was Before The Dawn Heals Us, which was around the time he started to use the electronic aspect of his music in a more mainstream way: the layering became slightly less complex, and the more upbeat feel of his music began to show.

Album Review: Gates - You Are All You Have Left To Fear

Album Rating: B+
There's something really special about picking up an album you know nothing about, and lighting up after the first few, fantastic moments where the ingenuity of the artist really dawns upon you. Gates really brings the power of instrumental rock to a more traditional rock setting, combined with truly raw vocals that, while perhaps not completely in tune, bring so much heart to the music that it becomes an irresistible spell, from wavering croons to throat-shredding screaming. If one was really to describe Gates accurately, the first thing that comes to mind is throwing Jeremy Enigk or Mineral's Chris Simpson in with the creative minds of Moonlit Sailor - that would be slightly scratching the surface of what Gates really is.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Artist of the Day: Wild Nothing

Out of all of the artists with their unique 80's imitations such as Beach Fossils, DIIV, and other Captured Track's artist, Jack Tatum's Wild Nothing stands out the greatest. The ethereal bedroom pop of Virginia native Jack Tatum creates and atmosphere and vibe unique to any other artist in the shoegaze scene today.

2010's Gemini, my favorite album of that year and one of my favorites of the past ten years, is an essential listen for any fan of nostalgic lo-fi tunes. Tracks such as "Summer Holiday" and "Chinatown" are sure to capture the hearts of any early Slumberland fan. This year, Jack Tatum is returning with his sophomore effort, Nocturne, this July, one of my most anticipated releases of this year.

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Album Review: The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now

Album Rating: A
Back in 2010 something happened, an album dropped that made everyone stop what they were doing and stand in awe at a musical revolutionary.  Meanwhile, I merely stood there wondering what had happened as all that I was hearing was a great folk record that simply stood a bit above the crowd.  The Tallest Man on Earth’s second record, The Wild Hunt was an exceptional piece of music, yes, but I could not find It to be the blockbuster it was so heralded as.  Well consider me a changed man, as Kristian Matsson has not only produced the best record of his career, but 2012’s most impressive record overall.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Artist Of The Day: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

Pretty much everything about Orlando Higginbottom suggests a gimmick. Whether it's his comedic stage name, performances in dinosaur costumes or the ludicrous headdresses that he sports in photo shoots, there seems little reason to take the Oxford-based producer seriously. Delve beyond first impressions, however, and it becomes increasingly difficult not to fall for the 26-year-old, whose eccentric persona has often masked the outstanding talent at his disposal. Having been preceded by a trio of impressive EP's, debut album Trouble all but confirms Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs as an exciting and credible force in electronic music. Its take on house is fresh, vibrant, and above all else fun, making for an ideal summer spin and fully justifying the lavish sideshow. What's more, it manages to remain credibly consistent whilst also boasting clear standouts, something which speaks volumes of the heights that TEED is capable of reaching at his best. Don't judge this record by its cover; far from being throwaway and juvenile, Trouble is in fact one of the finest and most accomplished debuts that 2012 has mustered thus far.

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Album Review: Sinforiano Diaz - The Moosup Sessions

Album Rating: A
Anybody who keeps themselves relatively informed with the modern post-hardcore/emo scene, mostly run by genre giants Run For Cover and Topshelf Records, is more than likely aware of The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. Sinforiano Diaz is the moniker under which Thomas Diaz (lead vocalist and keyboard player of The World Is a Beautiful Place) releases brief, hauntingly beautiful tracks without the help of twinkle-daddy king Greg Horbal and company. The Moosup Sessions is a small collection of tracks that Diaz recorded in 2008, and is now seeing a proper cassette release on Broken World Media. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Artist of the Day: Solar Fields

There's so much music out there that's simultaneously beautiful and disconnected. It's a sensation that any music junkie is bound to experience after years of perusing through blogs and music review sites, the feeling that there doesn't really seem to be much music that's applicable to life. It's always true that I can listen to as much Wu-Tang as I want, but that won't ever change the fact that I'm a rich kid living in the suburbs. I won't ever quite experience the albums' purposes, no matter how many lyrics I choose to dissect. This is the case with many of the artists I'm recommended, and while it's easy enough to appreciate good music it's nowhere near the bonding experiences necessary for an album to truly speak to the listener. This is precisely why Solar Fields is such a rejuvenating listen, and is recommended for anybody that's gotten a little disillusioned with the idea of meaningful music. It's exactly what you want it to be - it's expansive and brooding, grandiose and sprawling and is tethered to our world and its inhabitants.

Album Review: Sun Kil Moon - Among The Leaves

Album Rating: A-
One of the few universally accepted musical atrocities is making an album where "every song sounds the same."  Music fans and critics have the misconception that every song is supposed to have a different "feeling," different instrumentation, is supposed to tell a different story, and is supposed to leave the listener in a different state of bliss.  They think that having an album where every song sounds the same or even similar is an insult to the minimal level of creativity it should take to create an album, it is an insult to all of the songwriters and musicians that actually made an album that was a "labor of love" instead of just a few days and a few sounds, and it is everything that is wrong with the cliched and forced music we hear on the radio and everything that is wrong with music in general.  They think that having an album where every song sounds similar makes for a disgusting and filthy album full of repetitive and uninspired sounds and songwriting.

Album Review: Via Coma - Figures

Album Rating: B-
Some may argue that we’re the sum of our parts, and that artists are comprised of their influences. If this is the case, then it would make sense to pick your influences wisely – unwarranted comparisons to an aspiring group’s forefathers will only dampen the junior groups' potential, after all. Even if they don’t necessarily have a ton in common with fellow musicians they’re lumped with, the groups see some fans clenching their fists in dismay. After all, who was pleased that Between the Buried and Me toured with Job for a Cowboy? The less-than-satisfactory touring decision painted the group into a picture in which they didn’t ask to be included. There are also many other instances of bands unwittingly influencing the way that upcoming groups of their scene have been perceived.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Album Review: Right Away, Great Captain! - Church of the Good Thief

Album Review: B+
Every trilogy has its clunker. The Fellowship of the Ring drags its furry hobbit feet along slower than its glossier Lord of the Ring counterparts, and God forbid I stop pretending that Alien 3 doesn’t exist. And that’s without mentioning the Star Wars prequels. But the plaintive poetry of The Church of the Good Thief is probably the best installment in its series. In fact, if Andy Hull hadn’t written I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, this would probably be his opus. It’s not fair to stack his solo efforts with Right Away, Great Captain against his prolific work with Manchester Orchestra, especially since his full-band works lean toward grandiose tendencies. But Right Away, Great Captain is meant to shy away from the spotlight. Instead, it’s just one man, a few instruments, and a story to tell.

Artist of the Day: Nick Drake

Nick Drake's story is a short and tragic one.  In his 26 years he managed to produce three classic records, but a feeling of dissatisfaction permeated his work.  An introvert, Drake fought depression for years, which was felt in certain parts of his music.  Sadly, he took his own life before he could write his fourth record.

While not truly appreciated in his own time, many artists have since described Drake's music as a great influence.  His first two records were bolder with more instruments playing a more complex sound.  However, his final and most celebrated record, Pink Moon, was a simple acoustic folk album.  Simple should be taken lightly here, as Drake managed to milk out some rather complex and intriguing songs from just his voice and guitar.  More prominent is the melancholy tone not featured strongly on his early work.  It is an intimate album, and one which the listener can truly feel the artist.

It is a tragedy that the young man never followed up his magnum opus. Forty years later, Drake's work has become greatly appreciated.  Reviewers and music lovers alike rate him very highly, and applaud his brilliant musicianship.  Nick Drake is a musical icon who simply never became appreciated in his time, and that is the true tragedy.

Album Review: Metric - Synthetica

Album Rating: D
You’re Metric, you’re getting on a bit, and after the critical and commercial success of 2009’s Fantasies you don’t really feel like pushing yourself again. You want to go back to your roots; you want (wait for it...) “Youth Without Youth.” Innovation requires effort, sadly, so there’s nothing like churning out your previous style in order to keep the discography ticking over until you feel like sticking your finger out again. Synthetica is exactly this - it’s lazy - but what really sticks out as rather worrying is that despite playing it incredibly safe the album can’t help but spit and sputter when it’s really required to shine. In many cases, what should in context be uplifting, chorus-driven anthems become slightly awkward as the spark of passion or intuition never appears to set them alight, leaving the softer corners of Synthetica to try and pick up the slack. They don’t.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Album Review: Jukebox The Ghost - Safe Travels

Album Rating: B+
Jukebox The Ghost has always been a unique entry in the keyboard based pop rock crowd. Firstly, the band doesn't keep one lead singer or icon, such as a band like Jack's Mannequin, as every member of the band has equal importance, and each vocalist gets a fairly even amount of airtime. The lack of bassist also puts the band in an unusual spot, as deep piano swells usually helps with the rhythm. Finally, the band always had a knack for adding a quirkiness to songs such as "Schizophrenia," "Static" and "Under My Skin" that added a bit of an "anti-mainstream" feel to a genre that's known for it's accessibility. For the band's third album Safe Travels, they made everything a little bigger and more accessible, yet kept their signature Jukebox The Ghost sound and perhaps have inched even closer to perfecting it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Album Review: Hot Water Music - Exister

Album Rating: B
Exister may be Hot Water Music's first album in eight years, but you'd hardly have guessed it. Indeed despite of their hiatus-turned-breakup and a multitude of extracurricular ventures, it's a comeback which finds the Florida quartet functioning as smoothly as ever, yielding inevitably impressive results. It's not identical to the rest of their catalog by any means, and does occasionally seem to lack the bite you'd expect from such an established force. That particular deficiency is, however, made up for by the focus and consistency of its songs, many of which adopt a noticeably upbeat stance in comparison to past works.

Live Review: Jimmy Buffett (6/7/2012)

A lot of music critics have called Japandroids Celebration Rock "an album that reminds us of our youth."  They say that the lyrics and the rocking feel "The Nights of Wine and Roses" are supposed to remind us of the days we could "yell like hell to the heavens" after just opening one adult beverage, every cliche yet overly catchy chorus is supposed to remind us of those days when we thought death was going to be our only reason to rest, every solo is supposed to remind us of the days where we were "old enough to know but to young to care," and every scream is supposed to remind us of these days where we could only tell time by counting the drink we were on.  Celebration Rock is an ode to youth in the most fashionable way possible: with hard rocking riffs, with drugs and alcohol, with losing our dignity as easily as we lost our virginity, with love and lust being mixed together like our eighth drink, and with our screams being loud enough to shatter the glass gates of heaven.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Artist Of The Day - Athletics

Ask the guys in Athletics 25 years from now what specific month they remember from their time as a band, and it's likely they'll say June 2012. Tomorrow, June 9, the band will be releasing their fantastic debut album, Why Aren't I Home, on beautifully colored vinyl that includes special touch-sensitive packaging. Then, on Tuesday, June 12, the band is releasing a four song EP titled Stop Torturing Yourself via Deep Elm Records. This EP contains piano renditions of songs from Why Aren't I Home, and the first streamable track "Speaking For Everyone" showcases how the piano arrangements create an even more emotionally heavy mood, sure to bring tears to anyone who listens. Finally, the band is releasing a brand new record titled Who You Are Is Not Enough on June 26. While only five songs long, the record stretches out to 30 minutes long, and showcases the best side of Athletics. I've gotten a chance to listen to the album, and while it doesn't really differ widely from Why Aren't I Home, it still carries the same ambience and power as the debut. The songs flow seamlessly into each other, making Who You Are Is Not Enough feel like one giant musical piece of multiple movements. The songs are only titled by Roman numerals, giving one a chance to make their own first impressions of the tracks. You can stream the first track of Stop Torturing Yourself here, plus the whole EP will be available on Tuesday. You can purchase the vinyl of Why Aren't I Home here, and the records are beginning to finally ship. Finally, stream "III" from Who You Are Is Not Enough here, and check out AltPress.com this weekend for another song stream!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Live Review: Here We Go Magic with Hospitality, Black Cat (5/14/12)

First things first: this show was absolute uncharted territory for me. I'm used to be surrounded by either teenage girls wearing puffy-painted shirts with the band members' faces on them, or straightedge tanktop wearing bros ready to punch me in the face for pretty much no reason. But the crowd for Here We Go Magic and Hospitality wasn't here for extracurricular activities and backstage passes, they were here simply for the music. And boy, did the bands deliver, albeit in two totally different fashions.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Album Review: Ape Up! - Kemosabe

Album Rating: Listen to it.
Moderation is by no means a virtue that the boys of Ape Up! possess.  Indeed, the sonic shitstorm that is Kemosabe, their first official release as members of the Count Your Lucky Stars label, showcases four dudes with dwindling concern for the consequences of tomorrow.  Hyperbolic ultimata aside, Ape Up! make an awful lot of noise on Kemosabe, channeling the vim and vigor of adolescent angst into nine ear-blasting tracks, and giving us a sure contender for 2012's finest punk record.

Artist of the Day: Cursive

I know it may seem like I'm a Cursive fanboy, what with the A-ranking of I Am Gemini, and general high praise of the band. But then, that's why we're featuring bands we like and want other people to know about. Cursive is an effort lead by Tim Kasher, guitarist and vocalist, and Matt Maginn, bassist. Over the years, Cursive's sound has been all over the place - but it's evolved to something stylistically individual, and fantastically musical.

Their early records were rough-cut at best, but they were released at a time when Cursive wasn't sure themselves as a band. Such Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes was the debut for the small Omaha-effort, but they "broke up" shortly afterwards and released The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song as a post-breakup record (one which garnered them much attention). After adding a cellist, Gretta Cohn, and working through a record (Burst and Bloom), they released what is their best record in my opinion: The Ugly Organ. This record is like nothing other. It features a harsh load of dissonance for much of the record, yet always returns to such a stunningly beautiful musical basis. It's incredibly impressive how the band writes a main melody, can distort things beyond belief, and then return back to that melody, ever relating the lyrics to whatever sort of fucked-up feel the song has.

After The Ugly Organ, Happy Hollow also garnered them a lot of attention, despite the departure of their cellist, and earned much critical acclaim. Then, the band was brought to the present with I Am Gemini, which you can read about here. The band has had a richly colorful history, and their records really go to show that. The Ugly Organ is absolutely worth a listen, and is a great sample of what Cursive is capable of.

Listen to some Cursive tracks on their MySpace.

Album Review: Trioscapes - Separate Realities

Album Rating: B-
It was inevitable. Perhaps we should have seen it sooner than now, but looking back upon Dan Briggs’ work it seems only obvious that the man would eventually dabble with jazz. From the swing of Between the Buried and Me’s “Laser Speed” to the jazz-tinged progressive passages of ORBS’ “Eclipsical,” Dan’s side projects have always displayed hints of what was to come. Now that it's here, Separate Realities is everything expected from a Briggs side project and more. It’s also evident that he and his cohorts have spent much time listening to unstructured progressive, for while Separate Realities harbors great potential its ultimate downfall is its songwriting choices.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Artist of the Day: it is rain in my face.

If I ever heard an artist who's sound was nearly impossible to describe, it would be the solo project of Brooklyn resident Matt Jones, it is rain in my face. You don't need to spend much time with Jones' debut self titled album to pick up on the incredibly vast range of influences that Jones expresses. There are plenty of obvious nods to electronic music in chillwave in the glitchy and twitchy beats and Jones' reverb soaked vocals, but this isn't your every day beachy, nostalgic, 80's worshiping C86 act.

On "Macknowledge," Jones' sings an incredibly tight a capella vocal segment, almost reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, before the track picks up with a crackly and poppy beat under a subtle guitar line. "Fighter Pilot" opens up with a repetitive guitar line that could have easily been a Dodos riff, before turning a perfect 180 degrees and turning into an bedroom R&B track. I could go on about how truly brilliantly genre spanning it is rain in my face.'s debut is, but I'd certainly recommend that you listen for yourself.

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