Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Artist of the Day: White Fence

Over the past couple years, a handful of lo-fi garage bands have popped up, seemingly overtaken by a divine mission to flood the market with as much crackled psychedelia as we’re willing to stomach. It could be a defense mechanism, allowing them to hide, when the critics come knocking, behind a nice thick wall built from countless strawberry-sweet melodies. It’s probably much more innocent, but regardless, the ideas keep coming, and as long as they do the band’s keep writing, or sketching, and putting them to record. So, what happens when the spicket dries up? Are the Ty Segall’s of the world headed for a peak oil-type crisis when the juices of 60’s derivative tuneage fade away?

Album Review: Streetlight Manifesto - The Hands That Thieve

Album Grade: C+
This album is not transcendental. In fact, it’s not even particularly original or exciting either. It’s a Streetlight Manifesto album, sure, but it doesn’t seem like it’s the same group who made people question the boundaries of ska music back in 2003 with Everything Goes Numb or dabbled in Eastern European rhythms and let the horns blow the roof off of 2007’s Somewhere in the Between. Quite literally, they aren’t the same group, as long-time trombonist Mike Soprano was replaced by Nadav Nirenberg back in 2010, while they’re also a group whose career has changed them. Being faced with the adversity of being locked into an unforgiving contract they twice tried and failed to void, a bad relationship with their label and constant lineup changes has taken a toll on the once fresh-faced genre pioneers.

Album Review: Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light

Album Rating: A-

It seems to be Colin Stetson’s sole duty on this world to utterly destroy the commonly held concept of a saxophone. The common pre-Stetson picture would be one of a brass instrument with a couple dozen button things to press; possibly even with a few scratches if you’ve seen your fair share. You know how it sounds, for the most part, and what type of music it plays. You might also have arrived on the idea of saxophones being the perfect instrument to play if soulful, moonlight silhouettes were all that mattered. Post-Stetson, the image is muddled somewhat, mainly due to its utter disintegration as pieces are scattered in related concepts no one dared to suggest before. The idea of saxophones as percussion; its use in place of vocals; its place as the moody reflection of other music... if it didn’t all work it would not be so confusing. Nevertheless, the second volume of New History Warfare managed to cause a bit of a stir in music circles not often associated with jazz or experimental music. In part, this was due to Colin’s previous associations with the likes of Tom Waits, Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but otherwise the success owes itself to his utterly bizarre and fascinating style of playing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Album Review: Misha Mishenko - strákur sem spilar með vindi

Album Rating: A-
If you’re looking for winter weather that’ll bite your face off, Russia is about as good as it gets. Its proximity to the North Pole and rugged terrain lead to unusually harsh winds and temperatures that rarely rise above zero Celsius—and usually drop far, far below what most people will ever have to deal with. Much like Iceland, though, the country’s frigid climate is a hotbed for musical talent: among the many artists to be found in the cold is neoclassical artist Misha Mishenko, whose latest release, strákur sem spilar með vindi (The Boy Who Plays With The Wind), shows a compelling humanity beneath its chilly climate.

Artist Of The Day: God Is An Astronaut

With recent news about their 2013 album being finished, God Is An Astronaut will once again come out strong this year. A series of live shows to build up to the album are coming, and they will reach culmination in September, when the three-year gap will be closed with a new release. According to band frontman Torsten Kinsella, the new album will be "quite different from [their] current work," which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone after an interview about a year and a half ago, prominently featuring Torsten talking about the style of the band right now and where they want to go. The frontman vocally expressed his grievances about being classified as a post-rock band, in much the same way that Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai often does. He went on to suggest that their new material will be in much more of a progressive-rock style, and heavily emphasizes that the mixing on the album will be very professional; one of the biggest complaints the band had about themselves as well as other bands in the instrumental genre is a lack of production value. With Torsten the perfectionist leading the charge and the rest of the band working in a closely knit group to bring the best they can, it's sure that the new record, whatever they have planned, will be huge.

Album Review: ShockOne - Universus

Album Rating: B
ShockOne's Universus LP has toxic amounts of brostep - but is it a bad thing? That's not a particularly easy-to-answer question, by the way. While some people in the quote-unquote "serious" electronic community refuse to believe the burgeoning EDM market has any real value, a fair number of people truly enjoy the heavy wobbles and club beats which make up the majority of the tunes within the realm. And, to be perfectly honest, the arguments on both sides of the coin have their merits and flaws. Sure, the "real" type of electronic music - Burial-style garage, deep and dark techno, and the woozy electronica and trip-hop of Flying Lotus et al. has more "critical weight" behind it, but who's to blame a guy if he just wants to headbang and have some fun with some super-wobbly brostep? And, on the flipside, one can only listen to the same wobble used in every song for so long until it all starts to blend together. After all, there's no "perfect" genre of electronic music - nothing which will please everyone with no detractors.

Interview With All Get Out (4/9/13)

All Get Out has quite the reputation as a band that can deliver a crushing live set. Due to that, they've gained quite a devoted following across a wide range of fans, and more and more people are noticing. The band is in the middle of a long tour supporting Transit, and they took some time out of their incredibly busy schedule to speak to us about the diversity of bands they have recently supported, catering their music to specific crowds, the progression of old songs to current live forms, upcoming new material that may feature some special guests, and much more that you can read below.

Metal Scenes: Boston / Springfield, MA

Key Release: Chaos of Forms (2011)


Led by guitar virtuoso and Berklee College of Music graduate David Davidson, Revocation brings a jazzy and experimental twist to its precise thrash metal attack. Pick up the band's 2012 EP Teratogenesis for free courtesy of Scion AV.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Coyote Theory

Fresh off a very productive 2012 (including a blockbuster run for its debut EP, Color, that culminated in a feature on the front page of ThePirateBay), Florida-based pop-rock outfit Coyote Theory is back with a slighty more devious twist on its signature combination of punchiness and whimsy. "Taking Over The World" brings doomsday to the sunny shores of Miami, where even the water smells "like money": it chugs along as swimmingly as anything off of Color in its plucky reggae-style verses only to drop into a gnarly dubstep-tinged slow jam on its chorus. Even with that drastic change, the song is less a betrayal of the band's roots and more of an evolution, with the band's strong instrumentation (with the bass taking the band's sound in a dark direction) and vocals still packing most of the song's punch. Particularly noteworthy is frontman Colby Carpinelli's vocal performance, which both displays a fantastic range and brings a gorgeous emotional duality to the song--somewhere between cynicism and desperation, it's depressing (and all the more vulnerable in its misery.

"Taking Over The World" will be available in literally a fraction of a second: in the meantime, you can find out more about the band here. And you should totally check out Color, because seriously, that EP is so rad I'm giving myself permission to use the word "rad" unironically.

PS. Thanks for helping out with this post, Casey. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Live Review: Danny Brown, Blind Pig, Ann Arbor MI (4/24/13)

I'm in this picture somewhere
It's 9:15 and the crowd is getting agitated. 'The ticket said 8 o'clock," the woman next to me groused in between sips of Corona Light. I flipped my hood up and leaned against a pole, I had been listening to the grooves of DJ Chill Will, Blind Pig's in-house scratcher, for the past 45 minutes and aside from his dubstep-tinged remix of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" I hadn't heard anything that really got me excited for the show. A few minutes later, LL Cool J's twin brother waded through the crowd and started flashing hand signals at Chill Will. The crowd started to buzz as he threw on the bass-boosted "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" remix. I inched closer to the stage, shouts of "Hybrid" and "Style" were tossed across the cramped venue. I finally began to see life in the crowd, a smile crept across my face: it was going to be a good night.

Artist Of The Day: Frank Turner

You can count the number of hardcore singers who have successfully transitioned into thriving solo artists on one hand. And it’s a safe bet that those you counted on your other four digits haven’t been as prolific and talented as Frank Turner. From the humble beginnings of budding hardcore band Million Dead, Frank Turner quickly traded in his angst-ridden shouts and screams for a folk and rock flavour. It has been the incessant UK touring and the blossoming discography however which have really contributed to the emergence and growing popularity of Frank Turner. Countless shows and three albums in as many years all but ensured that with the right assistance, his place would be cemented among Britain’s finest.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Album Review: Hesitation Wounds - Self-Titled

Album Rating: B

Hesitation Wounds is the combined project of four hardcore veterans that strikes all of the right chords. With members of bands like Touché Amoré, Against Me!, and the Hope Conspiracy, the band's debut EP delivers nine minutes of fast-paced hardcore themed in murder, life, and self-reflection. Though the sound is nothing new, Hesitation Wounds takes the group's collective influence and delivers a powerful four song record that doesn't stray too far from their members' other bands.

Metal Radar: Spring 2013

Hype Rating: A-
April 30: The Ocean – Pelagial
Post-metal, Progressive / Berlin, Germany

A concept album based on descending through the ocean, Pelagial is a single, massive piece of music that starts out with shimmering piano chords and ends with crushing doom metal. Take your pick from vocal or instrumental versions of this highly-anticipated album.

Album Review: The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

Album Rating: B+
Shaking the Habitual. Where do I start? Obligatory nod at history: in 2007, the Knife released Silent Shout, at this point well-regarded as a classic electronic album and one of the best of the decade. It was a subtle, subdued masterpiece of nocturnal synths and melodies that should have been invented decades ago but that, seeping from between the grooves, seemed totally new, awash with deep blues and shifting sonic shadows. In the six years since, the Swedish duo (actually siblings) have busied themselves with a couple of side projects, including Karin Andersson’s excellent Fever Ray. Most importantly, they devoted time to the study of gender, feminism, and modern radical politics - subjects that informed the genesis of their fourth record, Shaking the Habitual.

Album Review: Haiku Salut - Tricolore

Album Rating: A-
Haikus may be one of the simplest yet one of the most complex poetic forms out there. On paper, it’s easy enough:

All you have to do
Match your stupid syllables
See, that's all there is!

It’s not writing any old haiku that’s the issue, though: writing something with meaning’s much trickier. Fittingly, experimental instrumental folk-pop trio Haiku Salut’s debut, Tricolore, is essentially a literary exercise, an attempt to play with the elements of music and dig into the science of feeling.

Artist of the Day: Gojira

Gojira's lineup has been together
since their 1997 formation.
French death metal band Gojira's blend of precision, power and melody is unmatched in extreme music. The foursome continue to gain popularity and critical acclaim with their dynamic and ever-evolving sound, combining the swagger of Pantera with the mind-bending technicality of Meshuggah. Formed around the talents of brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier, Gojira (originally Godzilla) honed its craft for nine years before its third album From Mars to Sirius really made a splash in the international metal community.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Artist of the Day: Das Racist

Back in early 2011, I really, truly believed that Das Racist was going to change rap forever. I had just begun following the rap scene a few months before in an effort to be more popular at school, so I was still green. I had heard "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" a few times, but before actually sitting down and bumping their mixtapes Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man I didn't really understand the group dynamic. I knew they were goofy, but I also didn't think they had talent. To my uneducated ears, it sounded like dorm-room rap by a couple of really high liberal arts students.

Album Review: Junip - Junip

Album Rating: B
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Swedish-Argentine solo artist Jose Gonzalez is in a band. After all, how many successful solo artists regress to forming a band rather than breaking from the confines of one? In this instance I coin the term regress lightly, as suggesting that Junip is merely an extension of Gonzalez’s solo work is to do Junip a great disservice. In the unnatural habitat of a band Gonzalez sheds his usually reserved skin, and he occasionally allows his trademark whisper to grow and even command sections of songs - a previously unheard of occurrence. Known extensively around Europe for his commercially successful covers of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” and Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” Gonzalez has until this point been characterised by his delicate vocal work and soft, rhythmic acoustic guitar playing. Junip sees Gonzalez toy with those preconceptions.

Album Review: Paula Cole - Raven

Album Rating: B+
Listening to Raven is like taking out an old family album from the attic and blowing the dust off: those Kodak images may be long gone, but there's still something in them that makes you come back time after time. Likewise, the temptation to look at singer-songwriter Paula Cole's latest through rosy lenses is strong. After all, she's best known for writing the theme song of Dawson’s Creek, a show that is best known today for spawning James VanDerBeek’s crying face. Meanwhile, the last time we saw a singer-songwriter go as huge as Cole did in her time was when "Call Me Maybe" inspired college sports teams across America to show how witty and original they could be (which is to say, not very).

With all of that in mind, Cole has an uphill battle to fight. It’s a testament to her insight and perspective, though, that even when it sounds straight out of 1993, Raven brims with wisdom for modern times. Even as Cole derives much of her material from her personal experience, she frames it through the lens of a history that's just as relevant today as it was in her youth.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Farewell Fighter

“Connect the dots, ‘cause there’s a picture in these lines.”

As music fans, all of us have a handful of defining moments: turning points, discoveries, and realizations that have shaped our tastes and, by proxy, our identities. Arguably one of the most significant turning points for me was listening to pop-rock group Farewell Fighter’s “Where I Belong” for the first time. I can describe each point in the song as if I’m reliving it for the first time. That mysterious opening line, one I mull over to this very day, the blast of syncopated guitar and drums that blow the song open before making way for a surprisingly intimate, introspective passage sandwiched between the verses and the chorus, between frustration and acceptance, between despair and growth.

The funny thing is that even with two years removing me from that eureka moment, the band’s music hasn’t lost any of its impact for me. It’s a band that exists on the boundary between adolescence and adulthood, and as it turns out, part of maturity is to realize that the process of maturing is one that never ends. Farewell Fighter makes its peace with that truth through its music: consider it a “gateway band,” connecting the little dots, the everyday incidents that frustrate us and mire us, to reveal a picture both relatable and oddly universal.

In a stroke of good timing, the band has resurfaced just in time for the season of college applications, right when a gaggle of teens (myself included) will need its music dearly. Challenges, its first full-length and its first release on a label, is slated for release in July. In the meantime, you can stream the band’s new single “Grow” here and find more information on the band’s official website, where you can also download its first EP for free.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Artist of the Day: Botch

Undisputed mathcore heavy hitters Botch can still hold their own. Alongside Converge, Botch's technical stylings coupled with unique song structures and raw metal sound inspired a whole new generation of metal and hardcore bands in the 2000's through to the present. Modern metal bands have borrowed so much from Botch that they probably don't even notice it, and the influence is just one reason that Botch are true pioneers and legends today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Album Review: Laura Stevenson - Wheel

Album Grade: A
The adage goes ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover,’ but I would contest that a lot can be gleaned from an album cover. Laura Stevenson’s Wheel for example, implies the cyclical. The stages of the moon adorn the four corners while the focus is a circle of the same trees in various stages of bloom focused around a bare axle. The message is simple: everything is self-repeating. The days will change, the blooms may die, but they will always come back, glowing as vibrant as ever.

Record Store Day 2013: A Brief Reflection

Ah yes, Record Store Day... there's nothing quite like rising at the crack of dawn to queue with a legion of fellow sad fucks, each armed with a wad of cash and in pursuit of limited, grossly overpriced discs of plastic. This year, I set my alarm for half past five, and about an hour later took my place in the line outside Newcastle's Reflex, behind 42 even more eager/dedicated/tragic individuals who'd beaten me there. It was a sign of the deranged, obsessive extremes music can push us to, but for me the sheer diversity of those present also offered the first indication of all that's good about this annual gathering. I, a staunch advocate of miserable Scottish music, stood with my Dad, an old punk hunting Street Dogs and Undertones singles, and even in those early stages we found ourselves accompanied by everything from skinny-jeaned indie kids to prog dinosaurs to mod revivalists, all looking to grab their own slice from several hundred exclusive releases. There were even girls! Not many of them admittedly, but enough to shatter the myth that obsessive musical disorder is an exclusively male trait.

Album Review: The Appleseed Cast - Illumination Ritual

Album Rating: A-
If there's anything that helps The Appleseed Cast write their albums, it's experience above all else. While trying to move towards the post-rock sound, it's their background in emo-rock that keeps things different than the rest of the genre. Fusing the best elements of Two Conversations and their earlier experimental work Low Level Owls, Peregrine came into being; this emo post-rock was then evolved on Sagarmatha, which many thought was a perfect culmination between the two. However, the Kansas-centered project has something else to interject, and that would be Illumination Ritual. The musical maturity on this album is absolutely explicit, and there's no question that the band has mastered the sound they were looking for since 2006.

Artist Of The Day: Lee Hi

After a powerful run on the first season of hit Korean music competition show K-Pop Star, Lee Hi released "1, 2, 3, 4," her debut single, right off the bat. Though the understated jazz single received mixed press overseas (particularly considering her not-quite-fully-developed persona), domestic response was far more positive. And sure, the rapid turnaround time raised questions of whether she would follow in the fading tracks of other reality stars, but her new single "It's Over" demonstrates that she's far more potent a force than anybody expected.

Lee Hi (more accurately, her producers) has figured out how to best wield her smoky, textured voice; her phrasing on "It's Over" is equal parts playful and wise, as she lingers a little bit on the slower phrases before raising her volume as she declares, "I never want to ever see you again!" The instrumentation is just as colorful, with swirls of lounge piano in the verses and a brass ensemble lending the choruses some weight. The accompanying video connects the dots between featherweight pop candy and homespun jazz spirit, depicting absurd situations but letting the music provide the deeper emotional context (if you're getting away with tying your douchebag teddy bear boyfriend to a rocket and flying him to Mars, you're doing something right). Not all that's light and fluffy is necessarily empty on calories--and many would argue that's just what Lee Hi's proving in her pop playground.

Lee Hi's first album, aptly titled First Love, is now available worldwide.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Album Review: The Dear Hunter - Migrant

Album Rating: B
For Casey Crescenzo and The Dear Hunter, the most ambitious record they've written to date is the one that on paper seems relatively tame. However, after years and years of writing record after record with a deep overlying concept, it makes sense that Migrant may be the hardest to write to date. There are no cinematics masking the music, no storyline running through the lyrics, and no general mood or theme guiding the tracks. For the first time as The Dear Hunter, Crescenzo simply wrote an album.

Live Review: BATS, Kraak Gallery, Manchester, 04/14/2013

My penchant for catchy post-hardcore and my passion for Dublin quintet BATS are both well documented, and once the two were combined in an intimate, raucous setting, the outcome was inevitable. The night began with a thundering twosome playing in the middle of the room surrounded by people, and yet my mind strayed and wandered as I explored the many fantastically cheesy craic puns which could be made with an Irish band headlining at a venue called the Kraak gallery. The frenetic immediacy of the opening band however immediately brought me back down to earth. Two piece post-rock bands are rarely capable of eliciting comparisons to And So I Watch You From Afar in their self-titled debut era, but Bearfoot Beware exceeded the sum of their parts through simple looping and sheer grit, and they provided the perfect platform for BATS to build on through heavily distorted guitars and berserk yet rhythmic drumming.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Artist Of The Day: The Casket Girls

As I'm sure the majority of the people reading this post know, today is Record Store Day. For those who don't know what that is, it's the day where artists and labels from old to new send out limited exclusive releases to the brick and mortar independent record stores around the country. In the last few years, it's become quite an event, as hundreds and hundreds of releases are now limited to Record Store Day. On my list today of things to pick up was The Casket Girls' newest EP. While I was unfamiliar with the band, Graveface Records has slowly moved up to being one of my favorite labels, and from the color to the beautiful etching on the b-side of the record, the record was just so visually appealing. After a few spins earlier today, I knew I made a great decision. The Casket Girls play synth filled dream pop, while sisters Elsa and Phaedra Greene donate their sweet vocals to the mix. The girls harmonize beautifully together over the synths that vary from eerie to overwhelmingly powerful, a combination that sounds fantastic on wax. If you can find one of the remaining copies of the record remaining, you should absolutely buy it. If not, you can stream the release right here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Album Review: Their / They're / There - Their / They're / There

Album Rating: B+
Their / They're / There's EP is essentially the creation of indie punk. Mike Kinsella of Owen joined together with Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It and Matthew Frank of Loose Lips Sink Ships to hang out and play some music, and it turned into this six-track indie gold. The record uses the past musical experiences of three very large names in indie rock and meshes them wonderfully, with creatively progressive rhythms and melodies that more than tip their hat toward emo bands of the 90's.

Artist of the Day: Joey DeMarco

I first saw Joey DeMarco play with his band Roseanne at a show he threw at his Richmond Home. “He’s like folk rock,” my friend told me. Well, sort of. Much of DeMarco’s recorded solo material is laced with glisteny chords, slow tempos and unrequited love, but such a broad term hardly does justice to the band’s thunderous, tight live show - sappier numbers are interspersed with rambling jams and insistent foot-stompers, along with enough energy and liveliness to carry the whole crowd. I had a chance to browse through Joey’s extensive record collection between sets, something that always offers a nice window into the mind of a songwriter. Plenty of garage rock of the Ty Segall variety, slews of Bowie, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, even a copy of Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. Maybe Rock & Roll eclecticism is a better way to describe the man’s aesthetic.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Daft Punk

While this isn't my normal area of expertise, it goes without saying that the new Daft Punk album is going to be big. There's a clip of their new single, "Get Lucky," circulating around the internet, getting blood pumping for fans everywhere despite being only a minute in length. However, any new Daft Punk is good, seeing as their last release was a soundtrack for the famous sci-fi reprisal of Tron: Legacy, and the LP before that was 2005's Human After All. The full release of Random Access Memories is coming next month with a lot of change from the original sounds of the band, but the same technique and dance style. Rolling Stone actually reports that there will be a large reduction in the amount of electronic instruments used on the album, instead replacing these pre-recorded effects with mixed versions of studio-recorded melodies. The band never fails to impress, so we'll get to see what happens with the new album come May 17th. In the mean time, keep a look out for the full version of "Get Lucky," which is being released at midnight tonight.

Visit the Random Access Memories site or check out their Facebook page to watch for the new single.

Album Review: Ghostface Killah - Twelve Reasons to Die

Album Grade: B
In the middle of the previous decade, it became in vogue to combine forms of media for mass consumption: Green Day’s American Idiot and Queen’s career (as cataloged in a book by Ben Elton) were adapted for the stage — comic book movies became the hottest Hollywood commodity — musical theater-inspired TV shows hit the airwaves in droves.  In 2013, Ghostface Killah has eliminated the middleman and done it all at once, writing an album based on a comic book that feels like a play and was written with composer Adrian Younge, best known for writing the score of 2009’s cult classic Black Dynamite.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Yuck

If you've happened to visit an online music outlet over the past 48 hours or so, it's a fair bet you'll have seen Yuck's name cropping up left right and center. If you've not, don't get too excited. It's not a new album announcement, although the small print did state that they're heading to the studio to devise a sophomore. No, the main headline is the untimely departure of frontman Daniel Blumberg; a setback which although not fatal has plunged the band's immediate and long term future into doubt, not to mention providing a major complication to the process which will eventually yield a new full-length. Now, let's not get our knickers in a twist, we're hardly talking about musical revolutionaries here. Even the Londoner's most fanatical followers would struggle to make a case against the offerings being exclusively revivalist, and the more reasonable ones might even have a hard time asserting they stand out from the plethora of other modern grunge copyists. The truth, however, is that they've never really tried to, and that's part of their charm. Far from selling millions of records or pushing music forward, their goal is merely to emulate their idols of the late '80s and early '90s, creating scuzzy, carefree music with which they and those of their generation can reminisce. From their languid live performances to their drummer's daft Afro, Yuck epitomise all that's good about refusing to take oneself too seriously, and that's why this considerable setback can only be cast in a negative light.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jukebox: June Miller - From Autumn To Ashes

June Miller is one of the best new drum & bass duos in recent memory. Getting onto my soapbox for a second, most new acts stay within the confines of very "safe" music, keeping within the boundaries of standard jump-up beats or brutal neurofunk growls. June Miller, a duo made up of a Brit and a Dutchman, keeps the listener on their toes. First they might release a schizophrenic, paranoid banger like "64 Thousand Dollar Habit" with uneven patterns everywhere, then they might follow that up with the huge techstep piece "Snapcase" and its ominous, guttural wobbling. Point is, they're actually exciting and inventive in an industry-standard-fulfilling DnB world, and that's a very good thing.

Artist of the Day: Greeley Estates

Metalcore is an interesting genre. Spanning technical musicians such as August Burns Red and the more traditional scream-verse sing-chorus Killswitch Engage, the genre seems to have fallen in a rut of cookie cutter bands spewn out from labels like Victory and Rise. Greeley Estates, the once post-hardcore band gone metal, are one of the exceptions. Blending the heaviest riffs and blast beats with curveball production and memorable vocals is what Greeley Estates is all about, and they're doing mainstream metalcore the right way.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Artist of the Day: Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson's music is the most mechanical living beast one could ever imagine. This is why the musician's work is such a paradox, because however much labor he places in it, regardless of how structurally solid his art is as a whole, its effect on the listener transcends blueprint. What Stetson achieves with sound isn't something that can be calculated, or even estimated: it leaps into the field of potential with both wings outstretched, capable of picking up any and all willing passengers.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Artist of the Day - Los Campesinos!

As a Michigan dweller, I suffer from a wicked case of cabin fever every year, so the first day of the year I can walk outside without a hoodie on is a glorious event for me. It's the time of year I can acknowledge school is almost over, watch baseball all day, and trust that I won't be suffering from frigid cold ears on my walk to my car not 90 feet from the front door. More importantly though, it's the time I can just be alone for a while, be it out for a jog or driving the 30 minutes necessary to get to my friend's house during rush hours. In my hypothetical CD carousel of warm weather jams, Los Campesinos! find themselves in constant rotation. The former octet (they're down to six now) of snotty Welsh twenty-somethings know a thing or two about writing a bold, feel-good jam. Their full-bodied sound of horns, guitar and call-and-response vocals is chaotic; not traditional, "blow out your speakers, turn it up to 11" stuff like Sleigh Bells, but the energy is certainly enough to make you grin and slap your steering wheel at least a couple times on your drive. Furthermore, the banter between endlessly charismatic vocalists Gareth and Aleksandra (who departed shortly after the release of 2010's Romance is Boring) is patent UK snark, dropping one-liners and playing off each other like a pair of lifelong companions. There's really no rhyme or reason as to why Los Campesinos! are able to pull of their style as well as they do, but, despite the lack of method behind the madness, the group's hi jinks are the perfect soundtrack for your trip to a sibling's soccer game or a far away restaurant; sure to brighten even the most dreary chore, especially with a shining sun in the background.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Rockwell

Rockwell is probably the most exciting young producer out there today. The British producer of many genres of music has some of the keenest attention to detail I've heard, and every single drumbeat is perfectly placed and necessary (in some cases, over 100 different types of them are all put down with the utmost care). Not only that, but Rockwell (Tom Greene) is willing to go into basically any genre and style with his music. Though he got his start with bone-crunching techstep (see "Noir"), he's also got quite a bit of sultry DnB, "bangin'" trap, chilled downtempo, and other styles under his belt. Everything he does, from club tunes to less aggressive styles, is executed perfectly, and it seems the only way the already accomplished producer has to go is up - he's definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming years.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Artist Of The Day: BATS

BATS is one of the most talented and original bands in post-hardcore today, and the late 2012 release of their second album The Sleep of Reason has only swelled their growing popularity. They effortlessly stand out from the crowd because really, no comparisons are accurate enough to do them justice. Sure, there are moments on The Fall of Troy’s Doppelganger which might come close to emulating the mathy riffs which BATS deploy, but the post-punk undertones and the varying song structures set it apart and are unrivalled in one package. However, the most distinguishable trait they possess is the lyrical content delivered by frontman Rupert Morris, and he fluctuates wildly between topics which physics and evolution enthusiasts marvel at. For BATS, it’s simply the norm to ponder the wisdom of pushing the boundaries of stem cell research and follow it up by recreating the fiery apocalypse of the universe’s end.

BATS are due to embark on a UK tour in the next week, and their science and astronomy inspired bombardments are likely to send tremors around a gritty, intimate setting near you soon. You can check out the details of their upcoming tour on their LastFM page, and also buy your tickets from the link below.

Album Review: Home By Hovercraft - Are We Chameleons?

Album Rating: B
Sometimes, appreciating the beauty of life becomes most difficult precisely when you need beauty the most. The burdens of every day have a way of silently crushing you, as the books in your bag push your head down until all you can see is the gravel. My school rests on top of a hill, and each step I take these days feels heavy—April in Korea is the most colorful time of the year, with the cherry blossoms coming into full bloom, but for high school seniors, it’s a mental hell. The timing is apt, for theatre-rock troupe Home By Hovercraft’s debut release, Are We Chameleons?, is a much-needed panacea for these trying times. It’s so bright it’s practically drenched in color, but its aesthetic qualities belie an album that’s more than willing to delve into the darker reaches of the human heart—even if it ultimately comes out triumphant.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Watch This: Rare Monk - "Underground"

Oregon indie-rock band Rare Monk strikes a careful balance between icy detachment and swelling sentimentality, and "Underground," the first single off of its first (and fantastic) LP, Sleep/Attack, plays wonderfully with it. The track may be built on a cagey beat and some heavily synthesized vocals, but the meat of the track is the tangled explosion of strings and drums that illustrate the consequences of, as the chorus goes, waiting 'till your emotions burst out. The video goes even further with this dichotomy, cutting from shots establishing an uneasy serenity to short, powerful bursts of vicious carnage in the choruses. Unsettling implications arise when the protagonist reaches his breaking point and begins to spill blood, as the muted colors of the video suddenly give way to vivid reds and faded golds--and the moon makes way for a sunrise. Waking up in this nightmare world may be ill-advised, but those who can make their way out of the dirt just might find something--or somebody--worth coming back to life for.

Rare Monk's debut is available everywhere now.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Paris

Here's a bold prediction for you: Paris will make it big very soon. Though their debut EP has only just come out, they've shown incredible pop sensibilities while making interesting song structures with some cool guitar noodling at such an early stage. The Lowell, Massachusetts quartet has been turning heads left and right with their catchy and fun brand of female-fronted post-hardcore, and they've already acquired a significant number of fans even with such little material. Though they're young, they show maturity in songwriting beyond their years, maturity that's sure to win over both old salts in the music world and more casual listeners alike. It's entirely possible that sooner or later, the band will blow up - and we'll be watching them to see if they do. They're applying for a spot at the Vans Warped Tour this year, and you can find out how to vote for them through their Facebook page (link below).


Live Review: The Evens, Plant Zero (3/30/13)

A great number of strange factors converged and led me to seeing legendary punk icon Ian MacKaye performing with his band the Evens at the Plant Zero Art Space. “How many of you have seen a show here?” Mackaye asked before kicking things off. There was a bit of mumbling. “How many have been to a wedding reception here.” Hands were raised. Mine included. The man was dressed precisely as I had expected – black sneakers and tall white socks, cargo pants and a maroon t shirt. And, of course, he was hairless. In fact, I’m fairly certain that, outside the damn inescapable coercions of age, Mr. MacKaye hasn’t changed in the slightest since around 1989. There’s some definite comfort in that. The crowd about fit the mold I’d imagined too. There were your worn-out but in-shape guys who had seen hardcore get born and weren’t about to let a few gray hairs in between the rest of the brown buzz-cut talk shit to them, your former college radio DJ’s who left Jesus for Fugazi in the mid-80’s, and of course your modern punks, be they straight-edge or crusty or bent or hipsters or whatever, all looking to Ian as a guiding light, or for validation.

Jukebox: Jimmy Eat World - I Will Steal You Back

Jimmy Eat World has always excelled at writing music about relationships and latest single "I Will Steal You Back" is no exception. Frontman Jim Adkins has described forthcoming album Damage as an "adult breakup record," and the theme is palpable on this track. It's a decidedly less romantic take on rekindling love, Adkins looks to 'steal' back his lover back after a lie has driven a wedge between him and his unnamed suitor, with an acknowledgement that Adkins is fighting a battle he's "sure to lose," but there's beauty in his hopelessness. His voice drips with yearning and the subtle inflections of words like "walls" make the emotions more palpable, the nuances more pronounced. Adkins has an ear for detail and puts it to good use on here in stark contrast to the overblown arrangements that dulled down 2010's Invented.

Damage was rumored to have a focus on acoustic guitar, but that element isn't as prevalent as the band's descriptions would have you believe. The acoustic is very much as part of the song, but it is far from the main attraction after the first verse. However, the purity of the acoustic strums provide a very nice accent for the main riffs and plucky bass. This is a new look for Jimmy Eat World, but still sounds very much like the group as it could have been a cut off of Clarity if the production sounded like that on Chase This Light. The ways the elements mesh work almost too perfectly, making "I Will Steal You Back" one of the stronger, if more contrived, songs JEW has made in the past seven years.

Listen Here

Album Review: Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Album Rating: A-
There seems to be an almost irrepressible human need to scrutinise the new and compare it to the old. We’re always searching for influences and similarities and we have a nagging, awkward desire to label someone “the new [insert classic artist].” But sometimes, something comes along which reminds us of the beauty of simplicity, and that rather than dissecting things we should enjoy them in a primal, fundamental way. It’s certainly a view which Kurt Vile welcomes, and when you listen to Wakin on a Pretty Daze, it’s easy to see why. Rather than pin-pointing his influences he’s keen to remind us that “everything’s an influence,” and that music sometimes thrives most when it lives and breathes and exists because of everything around it. The lush, uncomplicated melodies and soft diction which dominate Wakin on a Pretty Daze embody the organic simplicity Vile aims for, and it succeeds largely on this premise.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Artist of the Day: Rape Revenge

If you take the Riot Girl Movement and couple it with the short and distorted stylings of powerviolence, out comes Rape Revenge. Within the first seconds of listening to any of the band's songs it's obvious that the currently three-piece hardcore outfit take cues from contemporary feminist hardcore band, Punch. Feedback-laden tracks screech into blast beats and thrashy down-tuned riffs. Slow hardcore chugs quickly ramp up into wild snares with hints of d-beats, then curve out with tempo changes into breakdowns. The music is topped off with vocalist Samantha's ear-wrenching screech, only fitting for the strong themes and aggressive style of music the band explores.

Album Review: Kahn - Kahn

Album Rating: B+
It's unfortunate that Kahn's eponymous EP was released the same week as both James Blake's Overgrown and SP:MC's Declassified EP. Because everyone has been raving about the intricacy and soulfulness of Blake's sophomore full-length and, if I may quote Sputnikmusic user Jash, the "skank" of  SP:MC's first full EP, Kahn has come out with a whimper instead of a well-deserved bang. While it's true this doesn't come close to the beauty that is Overgrown, saying this is bad is like saying Burial's self-titled LP wasn't good because it wasn't Untrue or Kindred. After all, Kahn's first full EP is a highly respectable - and at times excellent - slice of dubstep and garage. Though many are sure to scoff at the relatively short runtime and seemingly lifeless raps present, the EP pays homage to the classic dub-influenced sound of the past while taking noticeable steps out of his comfort zone within the span of only a few minutes.

Album Review: Max Richter - Disconnect

Album Rating: B+

For a film exploring the sense of isolation created by an ever “connected” world, it probably wouldn't be much of a risk to employ a musician whose most successful work focuses on, among other things, isolation. Less of a risk still to actually use some excerpts from said critically acclaimed and popular album about isolation in said film about isolation which no doubt hopes to be both critically acclaimed and popular. After your mind’s tongue has untied itself from the previous sentence, it should not be a great effort to imagine the film and soundtrack working together rather nicely. Sadly, however, the soundtrack could be seen to be a little wanting in isolation. Within the film, I don’t know - it isn't out yet.

Jukebox: Demons- The National

If nothing else, The National have mastered the art of restraint. Matt Berninger's baritone vocals always sound like they're on the verge of breaking into a huge chorus or a soaring bridge, but they never do. It's a bit tantalizing, listening to The National, they go small where they could go big and their tempered approach to music perpetually fascinates but never completely satisfies. "Demons," the quartet's first song in three years, continues their tradition of being one of the most muted yet exciting indie bands around. All the classic elements of The National are here: the rock solid drumming of Bryan Devendorf, the understated layering of the mix- this time incorporating an influence of strings, replacing the piano suites of High Violet and Boxer- and, of course, Berninger's captivating voice. As always, it is the vocalist who holds us in place, hanging on every deliberately stressed word.

The lyrics show, perhaps, a shade of nostalgia from Berninger. He rehashes old imagery, the alligator, the buzzard, and admits that he's "secretly in love with everything that [he] grew up with." This sort of self-awareness is what we've always accepted; Berninger will artfully hint at his emotions and let the audience fill in the blanks. "Demons" is nowhere near as intricate or obscure as some of their previous, but maybe that's just part of the "awkward phase" Berninger finds himself in. After all, considering the band is 14 years into their career and Berninger is being brought down by his demons and they're still producing top-notch material, it looks like the slow-burning juggernaut that is The National will continue rolling. Look for their album Trouble will Find Me, due out May 20th.

Listen Here

Monday, April 8, 2013

Artist of the Day: Moon Hooch

Yesterday, I went to see They Might Be Giants. As expected, it was a stupendous show. Whimsical middle-aged post-punks are not the subject of this piece, however. I was zoned out when the opening act took the stage, but was immediately, perhaps rudely, brought back to reality by what could only be described as an earthquake of bass. They were called Moon Hooch, and they were nothing like the accordion-strapping dork-rockers I expected them to be. Through the haze of the rainbow-light soaked mist of the fog machine they came - two saxophone players. One was playing relatively simple, repetitive melodies. The other seemed to have defiled his instrument with a long, hollow log that was belting a wubbawubba sound that sent my mind reeling back to my viewing of Spring Breakers a week or so ago. Behind it all, the 4/4 pound of the bass drum, with hi hat accents on the off-beat. It was... House music?

Album Review: Petrels - Onkalo

Album Rating: A

Onkalo takes name and inspiration from a spent nuclear fuel depository currently under construction in Finland: a structure with a planned lifetime of 100,000 years, approximately similar to the age of the human race. The timescale is preposterous -the oldest human structures standing today barely scratch a single percent of it- and if our modern world is anything to go by Onkalo (aptly translated to “hiding place”) will soon be our legacy. The album focuses on the mere thought that in 100,000 years something might be looking back at the now decaying depository, as well as all the questions they may have. Will mankind’s sole lasting contribution to the earth be nuclear? It’s a piece full of uncertainty, timeless beauty and, above all else, fear.