Friday, May 31, 2013

Artist of the Day: Jon Hopkins

Although a distinguished artist in his own right, it's fair to say that most know Jon Hopkins through his collaborations as opposed to his own work. Some may claim this undermines the Londoner's credentials, but the sheer breadth of acts he's worked with puts paid to such theories, with Coldplay, Brian Eno and King Creosote just some of those who have benefited from his input, while numerous others have undergone the remix treatment. Many would even regard Diamond Mine, the 2011 LP spawned from the Creosote-Hopkins partnership to be the highlight of both men's careers - although that assertion may find itself challenged by the producer's fourth solo offering.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Artist of the Day: The Legion of Doom

Duo Chad Blinman and Trever Keith spilled out into the punk rock and mashup scenes in 2004 when The Legion of Doom's Incorporated started to show up in P2P networks like Limewire. The duo's collaborative efforts birthed a new twist on pop punk fan-favorites in the mashed up tracks including Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Saves The Day, and Armor For Sleep. Despite a mostly inactive career since their debut release, The Legion of Doom's music gives an infusion of life into the once-new songs  like "At Your Funeral" and "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" that have come become staples in the mid-2000's music scene of yesteryear.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Album Review: Witxes - A Fabric Of Beliefs

Album Rating: B+
The most unnerving thing about the human mind is just how unstable it is. Everyone, unsurprisingly, likes to think of themselves as a sane, rational being, and the notion that we know this to be true couldn't in fact be further from the truth. We experience near seismic shifts from even the most trivial of interactions and events, and relatively harmless mediums even tap into this vulnerability every day for their own financial gain. After all, how often does advertising wedge itself deep in your subconscious and rear its ugly head the very moment you debate which drinks to buy? Companies mercilessly prey on the financial delicacy that is your mind with ease, so it’s little wonder when seemingly well-adjusted people develop mental illness from disasters or the passing of loved ones.

Artist of the Day: Revocation

Key Release: Chaos of Forms (2011)
With so many bands vying for the limelight these days, it’s hard to craft a musical identity that stands out from the crowd. Boston thrash act Revocation has managed to not only be heard over the din, but is starting to turn heads with an eclectic brand of metal rooted in guitarist David Davidson’s studies of jazz and Classical music at Berklee College of Music. Founded as a trio, Revocation unleashed its debut album Empire of the Obscene in 2008, and landed a second haymaker to the jaw with Existence is Futile only a year later. The band’s sophomore effort gained the attention of major publications such as Spin and AllMusic, who awarded the album a stellar 4.5/5 and called it “one of the best pure metal albums of 2009.” Loudwire even went so far as to name the band’s 2009 single “Dismantle the Dictator” one of the fifty best metal songs of the 21st century.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Album Review: The Front Bottoms - Talon Of The Hawk

Album Rating: B
It's tough to follow up a breakout record. Some groups feel it's best to keep it safe and replicate that which brought them fame, while others feel the necessity to branch out and expand their sound into something bigger and better. The Front Bottoms lean into the latter realm, as it is now a more fleshed out full band working with a much higher production value than on its 2011 self-titled record. However, much of the charm and quirkiness that dominated that record and made it both relatable and utterly enjoyable feels missing, as Talon Of The Hawk showcases a band displaying sparks of greatness but still needing to hone their craft a little further.

Artist of the Day: Modern Baseball

If there was a way to summarize Modern Baseball in a neat little sentence that certainly won't do them justice, it's "they're the marriage of the American Football and Long Island pop-punk." This matrimony will certainly sound unpalatable to fans on both sides of the spectrum, but the band's self-awareness and relatively noodly guitar lines will be sure to convert Kinsella disciples while the vocalists, who trade lines frequently, and pounding snare drum will captivate the pop-punkers looking for something a little less whiny, but no less nasally, than they're used too. Some lyrics come off as tacky, like the social media lament "@chl03k" (who after a quick scan of Twitter appears to be worth writing a song about) but others- "Sober or not, I locked everything you sent me, cause what’s better than seeing what I’m missing daily" - are as pained and heart-splitting as you'd expect from one of their song-writing idols, although they lack the unique beauty of a track like "Never Meant." There's nothing intrinsically pretty about Modern Baseball's music, the aesthetic tends more toward Into It. Over It. or another group of that ilk than to a more stereotypical modern emo band like Empire! Empire! but this is part of their charm. The band's youth, all are still in college, manages to shine through in their unique medium and lends them an air of genuine feeling. The emotions are tangible, perhaps moreso because of the less-than-stellar recording than their talent and construction, but you get a general feel for the group quickly: a maudlin quartet with good instincts and a keen ability to blend genres in short bursts (few songs eclipse four minutes long). They may not wow you with technical ability or tenderness, but you will almost certainly feel comfortable listening to them and willing to connect with one side of them or the other.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Ke$ha

Admittedly, this tribute is coming about three years too late. I only first listened to Animal, her 2010 debut, in full this weekend (and have been compensating for my oversight by blasting it nonstop over the past three days), but removed from the maelstrom in which it was thrust upon an unsuspecting American public, its charms are on fuller display. The songs are unapologetically and even uncomfortably smutty...and that's the point. Ke$ha plays straight into pop's image of the party girl as the brainless sex toy and takes her power back by ramping everything up to eleven, threatening to literally eat us out on "Cannibal" and turning the word "slut" back on her boyfriend on "Kiss N Tell" (and flipping the overemotional girlfriend narrative on the delightful "Blah Blah Blah"). It's not just the lyrics, though, as the music is subtly designed to empower as well, twisting seemingly chirpy instrumentation (listen to that synthesizer go in "Tik Tok") into sonic bulldozers. Even the rare lovelorn ballad ("Hungover") is packed with percussive bravado and vocal force. It's a shame that an album as subtly intelligent and thoughtful as Animal has gone largely dismissed: Ke$ha may be an unrepentant party girl, but for all of her drunken acts, she just may be the most sober person in the pop biz today.

If you haven't listened to Animal yet, you really, really should.

Album Review: Mount Kimbie - Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

Album Rating: B
Genres are flowers and Mount Kimbie is a bee buzzing between them on its quest for nectar. Mount Kimbie is both a bad and a good bee: on one hand it flies all over the electronic flower field, skirting from darker dubstep petals to tattered glitch plants and the washed out leaves of trip hop, and on the other it never settles long enough to really collect anything. The hive queen isn’t too happy about this, as all she wants is for the bee to make its mind up and supply her with a constant, coherent identity. The indecisiveness is vexing if not too much for her to cope with, but the bee doesn’t give a fuck: it’s just having a good time.

Musings: Are My Musical Tastes Maturing? Or, Alternatively, My Thoughts On The New Bonobo

Though I know I'm a bit late to the party on this one, the (relatively) new Bonobo album, The North Borders, is amazing. It's just under an hour of dizzy, soulful trip-hop brilliance which dips just far enough into garage and formless downtempo to be interesting the whole way through. It's also something I doubt I would have listened to at all, much less enjoyed as much as I did, if I'd found it six months ago. The album's quality would probably have been lost on me if it had come out then, as at that point I mostly listened to music for the raw entertainment value. It's the classic case of an American teenager, recently recovered from being blindsided by the likes of Skrillex and Flux Pavilion, figuring out what exactly "serious" music means, why people enjoy it when there's far more interesting music out there, and whether he'd ever be like everyone else in liking it.

SAY Award 2013

Of all the depressing facets and minor annoyances which bug my life, the fact I'm not Scottish is perhaps the one which riles me the most. That might sound like a strange statement for those preoccupied with lazy, negative stereotypes, but there's something about the nation and its people which grip me every time I visit - something that's conspicuous in its absence even in my relatively convenient residence in North East England. What attracts me the most, though, is that along with its widely cited culture and heritage, Scotland also has a knack of spawning some of the most vital and transcendent music around, and even as a staunch advocate of my local scene I find it neigh on impossible not to become entranced by goings on north of the border.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Artist Of The Day - Letlive

Letlive provided post-hardcore fans with a rare dose of excitement in 2010 with the release of their second album Fake History. The hype was such, that you could scarcely enter a Letlive discussion without comparisons to Glassjaw and their seminal album Worship and Tribute being raised. Although these contrasts are often refuted, the fact that they’re even being made reflects favourably on the Los Angeles quartet, and many deem Letlive worthy of enough praise to be considered genuine contenders for post-hardcore eminence. It seems likely then, that if Letlive build on Fake History convincingly, the argument will be even more difficult to discredit.

With no new single officially due for release from new album The Blackest Beautiful until June 4th, many wonderfully grainy and distorted live copies have surfaced of the album’s final track “27 Club.” The little that can be gleaned from the low quality versions is all positive: the screams of front-man Jason Butler quash any fears of the band mellowing, the crunching riffs recall the heaviest moments of their debut, and the energy of the band has, if anything, increased. If you’re as excited as me to hear what The Blackest Beautiful might sound like, then check out the glimpses shown in the video below.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Artist of the Day: Boards of Canada

Now I'm a cynical type and a fair bit pessimistic if I'm going to be honest with you, so when Boards of Canada announced a new album the first and only thing to come to my head was "this is going to be shit and it will ruin everything." It's a defense mechanism of sorts: through The National, Squarepusher and u-ziq I've yet to be truly disappointed. They're releases aren't quite up to scratch but aren't terrible either, which is a good thing, right?

Two days ago, Boards of Canada gave us the first proper glimpse at their upcoming LP Tomorrow's Harvest. Up to this point the Scottish electronic duo had laid out breadcrumbs in the form of weird, unintelligible screeches and cryptic messages, so a sudden reveal in this way was more than a little unexpected. Thankfully, the track they released is amazing: exceeding all expectations and offering hope for a return to their Music Has The Right to Children/ Geogaddi heyday. The track, titled "Reach for the Dead," is a continuation of their darker sound with an eerie synth line and slow, encroaching percussion. All pessimism has been washed away and I am truly looking forward to what I pray is a brilliant album. Check it out below and get excited.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Artist of the Day: Five Knives

I should really hate Five Knives. At times, they're probably the worst of the so-called "American EDM revolution," with some cheesy-as-hell and pretty watered-down wubs with slightly annoying rapped vocals. However, at other times there's so much pent-up energy and kick-ass bursting from within the group that I can't help but have fun. And, to be fair, there's much good about Five Knives - "All Fall Down," for example, is one of the finest examples of synth-pop-meets-electro-house-tropes I've heard in some time, and it's raw around the edges in the perfect ways. The band is traveling on the Vans Warped Tour this year, and here's hoping one of us here at Muzik Dizcovery gets a chance to see them — it's sure to be a fun show.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Sombear

We spoke with Now, Now way back in November, and drummer Brad Hale let us know we would be hearing an album from his solo project Sombear sooner rather than later. Well, we finally have a song, title and release date for this album, as Love You In The Dark will be out July 23 via Trans Records. Hale posted up the title track for the album, an emotionally powerful synth pop track featuring a minimalist beat and vocals heavily edited with a vocoder. The dissonant synths in the bridge help communicate his inner struggles and suffering, while the entire song still feels stripped down and natural even while a multitude of effects and computerization are used. It proves to any naysayer that even electronic based music can feel relatable and real. I'm excited to hear what this album has to offer, and you should be too, so follow Sombear on Facebook for all the news on the album.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Artist of the Day- Juicy J

I think what I like most about Juicy J is you don't have to be a fan of Three 6 Mafia, or rap in general, to like him. Juicy J "lives what he raps about," which is, far more often than not, doing drugs in all forms. You'd be hard pressed to find a kid out there who hasn't heard "Bandz a Make Her Dance," and that's really just the tip of the iceberg. With lines like "these bitches clappin and they ain't usin hands," and "you say no to ratchet pussy, Juicy J can't," it's an unconventional hit, without a doubt riding the waves of 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne to the top of the charts, but presents us the Juicy J lifestyle: anything with questionable merit is up his alley. Fan favorites "Juicy J Can't" and "Zip and a Double Cup" remind the listener that "You say no to drugs, Juicy J can't." This is funny, not only because most fans don't say no to drugs (his slogan is Stay Trippy), but also because the man physically cannot turn down drugs. They're too appealing, too fun, too easy to rhyme about for Juicy to reject. Thus, lyrical excellence is not on his mind- sample lyric: "I am so fucked up/playing PS3"— but a laidback flow and a poppin atmosphere make Juicy J's solo stuff incredibly fun. His best mixtape, Rubba Band Business 2, is produced by Bricksquad wunderkind Lex Luger and is replete with incredible beats and sneaky earworms that will have you muttering inanities like "I gotta get some weed every morning just to medicate" under your breath. Backpackers beware: this is as easy listening as rap gets; one need just kick his or her feet up, plug in some Beats (if you disrespect your eardrums) and zone out to have a good time. Drugs recommended but definitely not required.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Album Review: Lakota De Kai - Heavy Teeth

Album Rating: B
Sometimes imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Take Midwestern post-hardcore/metal enthusiasts in Lakota De Kai, for example. Hailing from the small Midwestern city of Kent, Ohio, the four-piece heavy outfit take the southern wails and blues riffs from Every Time I Die and construct a new sound with the ferocity of The Chariot on their new EP, Heavy Teeth.

MuzikDizcovery Exclusive: Places To Hide - "Ecotone" Stream

We at Muzik Dizcovery are pleased to present an exclusive premier of “Ecotone,” the final track off of Atlanta band Places to Hide’s new record Almost Nothing. Over a hyperkinetic (not to mention tied-up-tight) whirlwind of slick melody and barchord slashing, vocalist Kyle Swick narrates with surprising swagger and wit the story of dreary a Sunday afternoon sucked so clean of energy and motion it could only be represented sonically at bullet train speeds. Swick’s delivery is cut fantastically with a kind of stage-actor’s malaise — we feel his pain, but it doesn’t feel like he’s complaining. Then, after a subtle slow build you’ll hardly notice, somebody steps on the fuzz pedal and sends the song pulsing with temple-to-temple punch-in-the-gut fuzz, and boy does it get me every time. Hello Husker Du? The song is a hit. Well, I guess not really until you guys have heard it, so get listening! Check it out below. If you dig the track, make sure to see the band on tour (dates after the jump) or order the album on LP (soon to be released on Irrelevant Recordings) or CD (through Out of This Records). Stream some other tracks on Bandcamp.

Artist Of The Day: Pianos Become The Teeth

More than anything, a quality most prized in a band is a sense of self-awareness. Pianos Become The Teeth is a band that is very highly aware of their place in music, and what they sound like, as seen by their part in "The Wave," an inside joke with post-hardcore friends Touche Amore, La Dispute, Defeater and Make Do And Mend. On top of this, though, the band has a very exact idea on where their sound is and where they want to go. For example, Old Pride was a fantastic record, and was released to high acclaim. However, knowing the sophomore album is as big a test (if not bigger) than a debut, the band firmly put their foot down on The Lack Long After, saying "This will not be Old Pride pt. 2," and it wasn't. It was a full-length that delved deeper, darker, and distinctly more heavy. It was a beautiful success, and a perfect follow-up to prove that the band has chops.

With 2013 nearly halfway through its course, we've seen the Pianos / Touche Amore Split, and the band's newest track, "Hiding." Probably the closest shot to post-rock featured on the discography so far, it actually feels very natural with a hint of reverb and atmosphere, like the newest Appleseed Cast album, or anything Prawn has ever released. With this slight shift, though, it loses absolutely none of its strikingly powerful emotional wells, and brings a good portion of excitement when the band says they're beginning to write their third record. They have some tours this summer they need to focus on, but it's fairly safe to say we'll see something by the first quarter of next year at the latest.

To keep yourself busy in the meantime, here's the band's discography minus the single on Bandcamp and the single can be found here.

Album Review: The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Album Rating: B
In light of other artists, it’s almost comical how The National approached the release of one of the most anticipated albums of 2013. Daft Punk had an extensive, slick marketing campaign and Boards of Canada made detectives out of their audience, meanwhile The National released a couple of tracks on their YouTube channel and played “Sorrow” for ten hours. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to use understated than comical, but the success of this muted effort in the light of such excess can only be seen as funny. It’s like a friend I once had who, when asked in an engineering class to make a paper braking system for a toy car, scrunched the paper up in the rough shape of a cock, lazily strapped it to the front with half a roll of tape and ended up doing better than everyone else. 

Album Review: Morningbell - Boa Noite

Album Rating: A
Who listens to albums anymore? In an increasingly hyperactive music culture ruled by YouTube and Soundcloud, where a good single aimed straight at the heart of the zeltgeist matters more than just about anything else, the craft of making a work meant to be listened front-to-back is increasingly underrated. Yet, the mark of a truly great work of art is one that transcends the sum of its parts: more than just ten or eleven great songs in succession, it must be something with a life of its own.

It’s with this in mind that Morningbell comes in with its sixth album, Boa Noite, and what an example it sets for all of us. After ten listens, the only things I can coherently note about it are emoticons, marking each little moment. Here’s where it made me smile, here’s where it made me sit up in my chair and gasp in awe, here’s where it made my eyes water as I completely crumbled in its wake. Boa Noite is full of little treasures, but it’s so cohesive that it defies attempts at dissection: throughout 38 minutes, the band reaches blissful highs, crushing lows, festive days and contemplative nights…sometimes all in the same song. The press release describes it as a gauntlet. It wasn’t exaggerating.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Album Review: Leprous - Coal

Album Score: A-
Yes, Leprous is still known for being “Ihsahn’s backing band.” But if it keeps this up, that’s going to change in a hurry. With its fourth album, the Norwegian quintet has created something truly its own, perhaps comparable to acts like Opeth and Enslaved, but bursting with fresh intensity throughout. There are moments that challenge you to wrap your head around exactly what’s going on, and equally numerous times that you’ll be swept away by anthemic choruses. Opener “Foe” revolves around a 7/4 time signature as the instruments run circles around each other and refuse to settle into a groove; the second half of “Chronic,” however, does the heavy lifting for you as singer Einar Soldberg intones, “Stars, they lie where we can’t see them...” over and over, sharp guitar lines building behind him, the sound growing in intensity despite an ever-slowing tempo. Many of the songs contain a balance of styles as the band toys with the line between being soothing and stimulating.

Artist of the Day: Symphonic Pictures

Press releases tend to be loaded with ludicrous proclamations, but if you can wade through the barrage of empty endorsements and overhype you can every so often stumble upon one which holds some grounds. The piece concerning the self-titled debut EP from Newcastle-based Symphonic Pictures is a classic example; its vaunted language seeking exposure for a release which is in fact very much worthy of recipient's time. Sure, the first sentence - "some bands simply sound like they were destined to play together" - is overly romanticised, and the suggestion that these four songs will prove timeless is optimistic in the extreme, but claims the quintet have arrived fully formed and are punching well above their weight may not be entirely wide of the mark. It's a hell of a statement, but it's one which becomes feasible once you've laid your ears on their record; it's swathes of guitars, strings, synth and sax seamlessly weaved into a psychedelic delight remarkable in both its accomplishment and melodicism. Having already secured slots supporting the likes of Toy and Moon Duo, a wider breakthrough might just be within their reach - and at the very least Symphonic Pictures will shoot them up the pecking order in an increasingly thriving regional music scene.

Jukebox: Karnivool - The Refusal

There’s no doubt in my mind that Australian progressive-rockers Karnivool are perfectionists. Having only released two full length LP’s since their inception in 1997, it’s clear that every riff and every fill has been meticulously placed, and the idea of simply throwing a solo here or dumping a scream there is practically sacrilege. Substantiating this claim, both Themata and Sound Awake have been perceived by many as near masterpieces of their respective genres, and the band has all but become the benchmark which other prospective prog-rockers are measured against.

Metal Scenes: Finland

Key Release: Once (2004)

You know you’ve made it when people are lining up to write movies to your soundtrack. Perhaps Finland's most famous metal band, Nightwish has crossed over into the mainstream with its keyboard-driven power metal, often accompanied by a full orchestra. Long-time vocalist Tarja Turnunen was fired in 2007 – though not before an extremely emotional and bombastic final concert that became the End of an Era DVD – and new singer Annette Olzon has taken the band in a more mainstream direction with increased commercial success. The backbone of the band has always been keyboardist and songwriter Tuomas Holopainen, who also handles the symphonic accompaniments. Nightwish’s most recent effort, Imaginaerum, is set to be released as a feature film later this year.

Album Review: Marques Toliver - Land of CanAan

Album Rating: B+
In popular culture, Canaan is best known as the Biblical land of paradise, a God-given place where everything is in abundance and everybody will be safe. On Land of CanAan, however, Marques Toliver finds paradise in a darker place: the line that both opens and closes his debut is drawn not from the Biblical tale but from the autobiography of runaway slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglas. The slaves trapped on cotton plantations in the 1800s, subject to dehumanizing circumstances and the tyranny of their masters, found humanity in singing together. “Oh, Canaan, sweet Canaan,” they cried. “I am bound to the land of Canaan.” The defining struggle on Toliver’s debut, then, becomes about where he himself is bound, artistically and spiritually, and watching him push forward through Land of CanAan’s ten tracks makes for a compelling journey and a promising beginning to his career.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Artist of the Day: Agalloch

Key Release: The Mantle (2002)
Crossover metal is all the rage these days: progressive jazz-fusion, melodic post-hardcore, symphonic tech-death – just throw a bunch of genres in a blender and see what you get. But before all the stylistic absurdity, Agalloch made a name for themselves by putting some beauty in the most extreme of genres – black metal. Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1995 by multi-instrumentalist John Haughm, the band has become one of the most popular “extreme” acts in the United States thanks to its gripping storytelling and widely appreciable sound. In its four full-length albums, Agalloch has explored a wide spectrum with Scandanavian-style black metal at one end and lush acoustic folk arrangements at the other. 2002’s The Mantle proved a breakthrough effort, tipping the scales in favor of clean vocals and dreamy guitar interludes and saving the caustic peaks for the most emotionally gripping moments.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Artist of the Day: Vampire Weekend

Look, this is really difficult to say, and I’m not sure why, but it’s hard to deny that Vampire Weekend are one of the most individual and important bands of the past five or so years. Okay, so I think I do know why it’s difficult to say - I want to hate them, and so does America! They are the 1%! Hearing Ezra Koenig croon in a semi-affected falsetto about the way he or his characters gaze sad and unsatisfied over the beautiful seascapes of Cape Cod and dream of fleeing yacht-style to somewhere, I don’t know, with a higher ratio of lighthouses to sun-drenched rocky coves where perhaps they can find happiness is among the most infuriating experiences in the history of the modern song, but it sure is pretty.

Album Review: Conquering Animal Sound - On Floating Bodies

Album Rating: B+
For better or for worse, there are now more ways than ever for fledgling artists to make their presence felt within the music industry. Some embark on endless and often costly promotional campaigns, securing exposure through means such as online advertising, radio interviews and television performances. Others may receive a leg up in the form of handy contacts or well-placed relatives, while some even stoop to the moral trough of organised competitions - be they huge, multi-million franchises like The X-Factor, or merely the opportunity to land a prestigious festival slot. The most 'credible' option, however, is to bypass all of these steps, and instead gain recognition either through sheer hard work, or simply being too good to ignore - Glasgow's Conquering Animal Sound being a prime recent example in both cases.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Musings: Is EDM dead?

I'm usually a fervent supporter of EDM. I think there's a large amount of good electronic out there that's fun, danceable, poppy, and catchy, and a lot of music within the blanket term should be treated with the respect it deserves. I'm willing to defend my opinion most of the time, too. I remember a discussion I had with Sputnikmusic mod and electronic music whiz Deviant about this topic, where he referred to EDM as "a term being used to sell a trend, nothing more...It's just more bandwagonning of a sound that's been dumbed down and mass produced. In the words of Deadmau5, it's 'minimal effort for maximum return.'" At the time, I was peeved that someone would think of a general blanket term I identified with as "dumbed-down." How was that possible, I wondered? After all, I enjoy big, earth-shaking wobbles and snarls for the most part. Plus, even as promotion channels like UKFDubstep and labels like Play Me and OWSLA began to lose their savor, I still found many positives in the scene which so many find so abhorrent.

Artist Of The Day: Buckeye Knoll

It's a shame that so much good music gets turned down for a perceived lack of ~!artistic importance!~: with as much ironic pretense as those tildes and exclamation points can muster, it seems that sometimes, listeners look less for how an artist can connect with them than how cool it'll look on their Last.FM pages. Oakland-based folk-rock band Buckeye Knoll should put a smile on the faces of even the most jaded fans, though. Its music is both enthralling and deeply personal, thanks to the flexibility of the soul and jazz-influenced ensemble and the straightforward but irresistibly earnest lyrics. Recent release Lovecreek charms with its understated virtues: tracks like "Slow Moving" and "I Am Who I Am" bridge intimate details with rabble-rousing choruses, strong dynamics, and stirring instrumental arrangements replete with handclaps, slick drum rhythms, groovy guitar solos, and rich harmonies. The band is what it is without reservation, and neither should listeners be afraid to embrace the joy blooming in music like this.

Lovecreek is available now. Here's the video for single "I Am Who I Am":

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Album Review: The Boxer Rebellion - Promises

Album Rating: A-
Promises? The word itself is tainted. Just think of every New Year’s Day you’ve ever had and count the number of resolutions that remain unbroken on one hand. It’s a silly, impractical word of flighty gravity, a weapon wielded by wily kids and desperate, deluded lovers. So when you wait until your fourth album in fourteen years to make one of these, the cards are stacked against you. Yet here we are, in 2013, with English indie-rock band The Boxer Rebellion’s latest: Promises.

Oddly enough, though, the band doesn’t fight the connotations of that cursed title. If anything, it embraces them, blurring the lines between the murky emotional tones of its previous work and a previously unseen sunny side—showing that world-weariness and optimism aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive philosophies. The blue skies on the cover need no words to embellish their significance: Promises is The Boxer Rebellion at its brightest, and paradoxically, that attribute also makes it the band’s most mature statement to date.

Artist Of The Day: Metz

Noise rock and grunge are two genres enjoying something of a purple patch in popularity in recent years, and with the stream of high quality bands producing it, it’s easy to see why. Both Basement and Japandroids provided some of the highlights of 2012 with their respective releases, and Toronto based outfit Metz wasn't far behind with their self-titled full debut release. Metz saw the band take a few leaves from Death From Above 1979’s particularly well-pruned book, as big riffs and untamed vocals combined with the occasional catchy chorus and many a distorted backdrop to great effect.

It is a sound which is sure to transcend favourably to a live setting, and the band are keeping increasingly esteemed company. May 29 sees the band team up with raucous indie rockers Titus Andronicus and brash hardcore-punk act Fucked Up in a venue which perfectly complements their grimy, distorted sound, and it’s a decision which is sure to make grunge fans’ ears prick up in anticipation.

Here at Muzik Dizcovery, we encourage you to go to as many live shows as you can. And if those words above didn't pique your interest, maybe this song will sway you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Artist of the Day: Daft Punk

So Daft Punk, in response to a leak, have put up their new LP to stream on iTunes. As in-house electronic nerd, I feel like I should address this and tell you how much of a great thing this is and how much I love it, but I'm not. Random Access Memories has split the musical world in two between those who love the new release and those, like myself, who are a little disappointed.

I suppose it's easy to dislike Daft Punk. Not necessarily because they are bad, but a cringe-worthingly corporate marketing campaign (I've seen presidents with less shiny advertising) doesn't really invite sympathy when it comes to a pretty shaky release. And while Daft Punk have always gotten away with a fair bit of cheese, RAM may have added a little too much for this particular writer to handle.

That isn't to say it's bad, per se, just disappointing. The second half of the album makes up for the first's shortcomings, with a certain song featuring Panda Bear standing out as the clear favourite. It's okay then, pretty good, decent, worthwhile, passable... that would be okay for a friend of a friend's demo tape but not for one of the most famous electronic outfits in the world. Then again, some seem to like it. Maybe I just can't understand the disco cheese.

Live Review: Public Service Broadcasting, The Cluny, Newcastle, 10/05/2013

There's something immensely satisfying about gigs which pack great venues like The Cluny to capacity. That feeling can only be intensified if the group in question only released their debut album earlier in the same week, not to mention having generated their buzz almost entirely from listener acclaim as opposed to industry backing — both notions which apply to J. Willgoose and Wrigglesworth's Public Service Broadcasting project. Intriguing, innovative and exhilarating in equal measure, the pair have made a name for themselves mixing a range of electronic and live instrumentation, with the only vocal contributions coming via samples from old propaganda films. On record it's an engrossing proposition, but it's in the live environment where the bulk of their reputation has been forged - something which wasn't lost on this sold out crowd, most of whom were seeing them for the first time.

Album Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan - One Of Us Is The Killer

Album Rating: A-
The notion that kids today are an angry bunch is by and large an accurate stereotype — it permeates society and has stuck around for generations. Young people are angry, but hell, they've got good reason to be. Imagine the frustration of being told to mature whilst being overprotected in the same breath, and just look at how that blurry line between adolescent and adult is exasperated by a blanket sets of laws which dictate your social responsibility by telling you when you can vote, drink and drive. The transition into adulthood is rarely smooth or seamless, and the way in which The Dillinger Escape Plan’s discography has progressed has mirrored this almost perfectly. Beginning with the chaotic fury of Calculating Infinity, the band have labelled One Of Us Is The Killer as “the record where we’re adults now,” and with the band’s maturity has come great confidence, and even greater conviction.

Album Review: The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation

Album Rating: A
Within a short four years, six-piece pop punk act The Wonder Years have worked their way up from the bowels of dirty basement shows to the festival stage of The Vans Warped Tour. Their last record, Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing was met with widespread acclaim amongst fans of the pop punk — some even say it set a new bar for the genre. With The Greatest Generation, the band has released not just a magnificent follow up to Suburbia, but completely blown it out of the water. It is with this record that The Wonder Years enters the big leagues and perfect their sound. The Greatest Generation is the best music the band has done, and very well may be the best the genre has seen in years.

Album Review: Anamanaguchi - Endless Fantasy

Album Rating: A-
Sugar can do wondrous things. The bane of young parents, kindergarten teachers and dietitians everywhere, the magical carbohydrate has inspired countless displays of insane artistic brilliance. Case in point: chip-rockers Anamanaguchi and their video for "Meow," the first single off their debut full-length Endless Fantasy. The video is an experience anyone looking for an introduction into the wilder side of the genre based around video game bleeps and bloops should watch, and even for non-chiptune fans it's quite entertaining. The basic premise (if their is one) is this: the band walks into an arcade-turned-stereotypical-Japanese-anything, does crazy stuff, gets killed off in various ways, and is reborn by a magical cat-like creature just in time to appear on stage for a show, complete with totally off-the-wall visual effects and the occasional string of Japanese (I'm assuming) characters. Needless to say, the visually and conceptually batty video piqued the interest of many, and when the band released a Kickstarter campaign to fund the album and its subsequent tour, fans poured thousands upon thousands of dollars into the band's page as the band reached its $50,000 goal within 12 hours of opening the page. (At the time of writing, the fund has surpassed $150,000.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Royal Teeth

It's not always a bad thing to make light, airy indie pop that's fun and catchy. While it's technically not the most "mature" decision a band can make, oftentimes the result of this ear candy can be quite positive. Royal Teeth is a great example of indie pop done right, as their claim-to-fame single "Wild" is a perfect display of how indie pop should work. The sing-along male-female duets, the percussive lead melody and the upbeat drums all contribute to a work that probably could have been a "summer anthem" of sorts last year had it found its way onto alternative radio. What's more, the Louisiana-based sextet's debut EP (off Dangerbird Records) is a hidden gem in the danceable, fun world in which it resides, and signals great things to come for the band. The group's debut album, Glow, will be released on August 13, and here at Muzik Dizcovery we are rather excited for the promises the album could hold.

You can watch the video for their lead single "Wild" here, and there's a link to a free download in the video description.


Album Review: Deerhunter - Monomania

Album Rating: B-
Rock in the 21st century seems riddled with messy contradiction. That same music that was once revolutionary, pulling dirty-haired kids up from their well-set dining room tables and plopping them in the mud, seems now the standard soundtrack for complacency. Graying politicians spend their lobby-laced paychecks on iPod’s stuffed with Zeppelin and the Stones, presumably finding “Sympathy for the Devil” endlessly relatable. The coolest new record someone’s calling “lo-fi” sounds more like a tight-jeans daydream complete with finely-tuned levels of reverb sloshing away all hints of flaw and humanity and turning all tones to a pretty little chime. Hey hey, my my, rock and roll will never die, but it will get old and wrinkly, and its knees are already starting to hurt.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Artist Of The Day: You, Me, And Everyone We Know

You, Me, and Everyone We Know has been surprisingly prolific over the last few months. The band, now back to being a solo project of Ben Liebsch, "broke up" in mid-2011 after issues between Liebsch and the other band members, and while Liebsch insisted the band would go on, a year and a half without touring or new music felt like the end of the group. In late 2012, Liebsch released a new EP titled A Great Big Hole, focused on the issues he went through during those difficult times. The EP was decent, but didn't live up to the heights that So Young, So Insane and Some Things Don't Wash Out reached. However, it was still nice to hear Liebsch's voice and witty lyricism again.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Artist of the Day: Lil Huffy

In the midst of the slowly maturing Internet Age, we as music fans can sometimes get tricked into assuming a market of perfect information. Thanks to the vast infinity of the social network, if a band is good, they get noticed, then they get big. Right? It's nice to think that way, if only because the idea of truly great band slipping through the cracks is disconcerting. How many Rock masterpieces could we have missed because nobody heard them? I urge you, reader, not to be complacent, because the media machine is massive, and, like any bureaucracy (which it is), inefficient.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)

There's little reason not to love the solo project of Michigan's Keith Latinen. Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) echoes twinkly bands of the 90's into the present and ceases to amaze with sounds so very reminiscent to Mineral and American Football that you can taste the bittersweet melancholy on the tip of your tongue when you pop in the band's solo full-length effort What It Takes To Move Forward, or anything else they have out, for that matter. More importantly, though, it seems the band actually does understand what it takes to move forwards (horrific, but it had to be said), as their Facebook page details news for their sophomore album, which was officially started on April 8th. Hopefully this means we'll be receiving LP2 from the great folks in Empire! Empire! sometime in 2013, finally closing their now four year gap between full releases, but delicate care produces great results, and more often than not, the wait is worth it. With such talented and good-spirited folks in the band, the album will be nothing less than incredible.

While you eagerly await any more news on Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), you can listen to their discography for free on Bandcamp.
Also, be sure to order the repress of When The Sea Became A Giant.
Finally, be sure to check out the Count Your Lucky Stars Facebook page for details on how to download Empire! Empire!'s entire discography for free next week!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Artist of the Day: Public Service Broadcasting

Vocal sampling is hardly a new phenomena, but few have purveyed the technique with the conviction currently being displayed by London's Public Service Broadcasting. Formed in 2009, creative mastermind J. Willgoose and his drumming companion Wrigglesworth essentially blend the voices of the past with the sounds of the present, taking snippets from old propaganda films and setting them against a dynamic backdrop of both live and electronic instrumentation. It's a formula with which the duo aim to inform, educate and most importantly entertain their audience, a three-word manifesto which also acts as the title of their maiden LP, unveiled to widespread acclaim earlier this week. Already touted as one of the most vital debuts of the year, the foundations of its success have been built through listener buzz as opposed to industry backing, not to mention a string of impressive singles and EPs - most notably the 13,000-selling War Room. With a visual extravaganza to complement their sonic exertions, the live arena remains the place to sample the full PSB experience, but even without such aids, Inform - Educate - Entertain proves them to be among the most distinctive, one-of-a-kind breakthrough acts of recent times.


Inform - Educate - Entertain is out now.

Official website

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Artist of the Day: Free Throw

Calling all twinkle enthusiasts! Emo five-piece Free Throw are hear to satisfy your needs for new sad music. The band's style blends traditional emo with an edgy pop punk twist, fitting in nicely along the lines of Brave Bird and Dowsing. Though the band's sound is reminiscent of the midwestern emo revival that' is gaining traction, this Nashville group creates catchy and poignant tunes that are executed with perfection.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Live Review: Malcolm Middleton, The Cluny 2, Newcastle, 30/04/2013

The past few weeks have been kind to Malcolm Middleton, not that he'd have anyone know it. Buoyed by side-project Human Don't Be Angry's nomination for the prestigious Scottish Album of the Year prize, the one-time Arab Strap man has also seen his debut solo LP given a lavish vinyl reissue, with this latest warmly received UK tour expertly timed to coincide. A truly tremendous acoustic exhibition, this second leg at Newcastle's Cluny 2 proved precisely why he's hailed as such a cherished artist.

Artist of the Day: Giant Squid

Key Release: The Ichthyologist (2009)
With some bands, you know exactly what you're going to get each time out. They sit in your comfort zone and make you feel happy and at home. Then there's Giant Squid, San Francisco's most wonderfully bizarre progressive metal group. The band began as an indie-rock outfit with Monster in the Creek, hit us with their first full-length -- the contemplative, doomy Metridium Fields -- and then threw the playbook out the window on their stupefying follow-up, The Ichthyologist. Attempting to pin Giant Squid’s sound down is an exercise in futility, but much like its namesake, it’s generally dark, massive, and mysterious.

Album Review: Rotting Out - The Wrong Way

Album Review: B+
Hardcore is more than just a genre: it's a lifestyle. It is a set of experiences that make or break a person, and those experiences further shape worldviews, political outlooks, and opening eyes to social norms that accompany a scene of brotherhood and comradery. Los Angeles hardcore act Rotting Out have taken the emotion, aggression, and experience collected from their lives, built upon it, and released their second LP The Wrong Way. The relentless album spans about twenty-six minutes of pure punk as narratives of loss, self-reflection, and abuse which culminate into one of the most vital hardcore records of the year.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Complation Spotlight: Plates Vol. 4

As I've come to listen to electronic music more and more over the past several months, one thing I've come to understand is this: "serious" dubstep hasn't evolved all that much since 2006. Around the time Skream! hit shelves, producers glommed on to the new sound of massive snares and chest-rattling sub-bass and stopped producing all that much new stuff. Sure, it's fun to listen to labels like Tempa and Black Box come out with well-working and well-produced dubstep tunes every month or so, but it's a little unfulfilling to have that as the be-all end-all, without much room for innovation. And sure, you have the occasional Burial or "Over My Head" by V.I.V.E.K, but there's really not been all that much by way of pushing boundaries.

Metal Scenes: Atlanta / Savannah, Georgia

Key Release: Leviathan (2004)
From its thunderous debut Remission through 2009’s psychedelic journey Crack the Skye, Mastodon has reinvented itself with each of five stellar LP’s. The band's most recent effort, The Hunter, netted it a second Grammy Nomination and “Album of the Year” awards from prominent magazines Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Rock Sound, Classic Rock, and The Times.

Live Review: The Twilight Sad, 20 Rocks, Dundee, 28/04/2013

My skull is still throbbing. Normally people complain about their ears ringing, but this goes some way beyond that. Sure, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep and draining travel have played a role, but for the most part, my current predicament is due to prolonged exposure to relentless, unforgiving noise, the likes of which even this regular ear-splitting gig-goer has rarely experienced. Even by The Twilight Sad’s standards, this was a loud one.