Monday, September 2, 2013
Round-Up: August 2013
It may be September now, but for Canadian indie band Paper Lions, the summer isn't quite yet over. The band just released its new LP My Friends on August 20, a rollicking collection of songs on youth. Soaked in sunny guitar chords, upbeat drum beats, and anthemic hooks wrapped in fuzzy production, it's a sweet little intersection between math-rock and garage pop. Paper Lions wraps scrappy underdog sentiments into suave songwriting arrangements, and the resulting songs wield sonic force without losing any of the charming sincerity found in the lyrics. The entire album is available for stream here, and here's a stream of free download "Philadelphia."
Up-and-coming New York quartet Arc & Stones has had quite the inaugural year. Quite deservingly, I should add. The band's debut EP is radio-ready rock 'n roll with the emotional heft of blues and soul music. From the opening track, "Silence," it's clear the band's strength is in its balanced instrumentation: the guitars work in tandem, each adding a unique texture, while the drums propel the track forward without overpowering the melodic elements. Lead vocalist Dan Pellarin offers a sizzling performance in the vein of Mac Powell, capable of delivering intensity alongside a heaping helping of melody. The EP's five tracks all touch on different sides of the band's sound: "Say Goodbye" is a snarling, stomping ride while soft-spoken ballad "Let Me Down" says more with elegant piano touches and rugged choir vocals than other bands can say with an entire ensemble. All in all, it's a promising start, and I can't wait to hear the band on my local station sometime in the near future. Get ahead of the curve by listening to "Silence" below!
What on earth is in the water at Deep Elm Records? It's astounding how much quality post-rock has come from the label in 2013, with new releases from Lights & Motion (who, as if one album weren't enough, has another release ready for October), Dorena, and now U137, who brings us the marvelous Dreamer On The Run. As the title suggests, it's something of an escapist experience: soothing whispers of guitar, soaring choir vocals, and sweeping strings are the name of the game. At the same time, there's hints of something sad and dark lurking just beneath, grounding these angelic tunes to an emotional drive that's recognizably human. Band member Adam Tornblad says of his album, "We [both] shared the same vision about the album...to make our listeners feel inspired." I'd say the band succeeds with flying colors. You can stream single "Pearl Lakes" below.
Fans of instrumental hip-hop rejoice! Bringing sumptuous tropical melodies along to go with his laid-back flow, Long Island beatmaker and producer Outmind flexes his musical muscles on his short-but-sweet beats tape miami.LP. The resulting concoction sounds like Jay-Z was chartered to write the soundtrack for the next Sonic The Hedgehog game. The brevity is both a strength and a detriment: it's refreshing to see just how many things Outmind can do in the space of fifteen minutes, but some of the cuts wind to an abrupt halt just when they're about to get interesting. Still, this jazzy, off-beat trip is worth the time, and one has to wonder what its mastermind could do with some real space to bounce his ideas off of. Stream it and download it for free below.
On the other side of the song length spectrum is Canadian artist Fresh Kils, whose new release The Fresh Meat Tape has quite a bit to unfurl: the shortest cut here still breaks nine minutes. Even so, it holds one's attention. The natural way in which Fresh Kils flows from one idea to another lends his music the feeling of a live show. He also has a humorous streak, packing in samples and pull quotes from other artists: it's a smart way to pump himself up without wasting his breath. Not that he needs a posse: music with this level of spirit and sparkle can build that hype on its own. You can stream The Fresh Meat Tape below.
Finally, there's Symbol & Surface. Hailing from acoustic beginnings but having expanded to a full five members, the group finds a comfortable niche on its latest release We Are The Same, an amalgamation of folk ethics with bolder, richer instrumentation. The quality lies in the band's excellent songwriting, however: for how sad these songs are it's tough not to get swept up in the sweet harmonies and the cozy instrumental arrangements. Listeners won't be surprised to find that the members are real-life friends, as the intimacy spills over into the music as well. Here's a stream of album opener "Among The Graves" as a housewarming gift for you, dear reader.
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