Thursday, February 28, 2013

Watch This: Ólafur Arnalds - "Old Skin"

Ólafur Arnalds' music plays out a wonderful duality between the pain of isolation and the multitudes contained within ourselves: it is often hard to tell if the stirring climaxes he reaches are meant to be uplifting or sad. So it goes with "Old Skin," one of the standout tracks from his upcoming LP, For Now I Am Winter. The accompanying music video, which I am told is his first live-action feature, beautifully illustrates the dichotomy at the center of Arnalds' work as it follows a senile lightguard keeper going about his daily routine. The video takes its time letting us get acquainted with him, as the camera settles on his inscrutable face as he calculates the significance of every next step he has to take; later on, this choice proves critical. There's a lot of focus on surfaces in this video, from the glassy ponds dotting the landscape to the bubbling cup of coffee that the old man stares into, and just as the song slowly unravels its fragile foundation of strings and piano to reveal a thumping heartbeat at its core, the video delves into the depths of the water to reveal a different world, one of radiant, colorful abandon. Yet the climax only muddles the meaning even further: even as our hero finds himself in the midst of camaraderie, his expression only appears lost in a horde of faces he does not know. Meanwhile, guest vocalist Arnór Dan repeats his refrain, "In these hands I'll hide," and piles on layer upon layer of counterpoint, all clashing to the point of incomprehension but all absolutely essential in the moment. By the ending, most viewers will be left with more questions than answers, but to be honest, some questions are better left unanswered--especially if the results are as gorgeously compelling as this.

You can watch the video for "Old Skin" above. For Now I Am Winter is set to release in the United States on April 2.

Artist of the Day: Renaissance Sound

When I first stumbled on the work of Renaissance Sound last winter, I felt a rush of euphoria I'd only touched a select few times in my life. The band's unique mix of post/math-rock, jazz, and folk is warm, stimulating, and compelling--just as much today as it was the first time I ever heard it. Right now, I'm jamming to "Derek's Journey," the second track from the band's debut EP. It begins with the delicate plucks of a mandolin and gentle drizzles of percussion and keys before slight but emotional gang vocals rise over the instrumental tapestry: the string of solos following it is the highlight of the track, remarkably fluid and graceful. Not once does the music break the tricky balance between spontaneous inspiration and smart structure. It's clear throughout the release that we're in the hands of master songcrafters.

Anyhow, Renaissance Sound is closing out our Free Music February feature (if only February had a few more days), as its debut EP is FREE on the band's Bandcamp page. Meanwhile, I'm happy to announce that while I wasn't looking, the band snagged a signing to the up-and-coming Naked Ally Records and has an upcoming second EP coming on March 15, which looks to be even better. Go check both releases out if you want to know what this renaissance is all about.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Artist Of The Day: When Our Time Comes

Imagine taking the savage breakdowns associated with metal-core, the dense atmospheres crafted by post rock bands such as Russian Circles, then combine it with the progressive elements of acts like Protest the Hero. If you can picture the above conglomeration of styles, you’re already close to imagining what When Our Time Comes’ debut EP Test the Waters sounds like. Hailing from a music college in London, When Our Time Comes ambitiously combine influences and splice genres to create an EP which transcends simple classification.

Album Review: Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse

Album Rating: A
The début album of Youth Lagoon (aka Trevor Powers) was one which covered a surprisingly ambitious amount of ground, especially considering the juvenescence of the artist who produced it. The Year of Hibernation was ambient, atmospheric and experimental, and it showed Powers to be fiercely purposeful as well as a perfectionist. The guitar and piano which often underpinned his songs such as “Seventeen” demonstrated his eye for detail, as layer upon layer of intricacies comprised each song and were easy to miss if not for equally adept attention from the listener. His vocal delivery was delicate and ethereal if not effeminate, and it haunted the melodies as if from the past rather than coexisting with the songs in the present. What’s more, the progressive passages which were commonplace showcased his experimental side, as they spiralled unpredictably at every turn, and were as likely to begin a song as they were to see one out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Album Review: The Men - New Moon

Album Rating: B
Is it just me or does it feel like it’s been five minutes since The Men’s last album came out? Really, it’s been almost exactly a year. That's not an unrealistically short time in which to come up with a new product, but certainly not long enough for any kind of complete artistic overhaul. I should mention, I suppose, that the band and I have had a rocky relationship. By that I mean I haven’t liked their work and they have no idea who I am. Save Crystal Castles’ low-seratonin dudfest, nothing in 2012 depressed me quite as much as ‘ol Open Your Heart. I mean, it was okay. Flat, idealess, derivative, dull, and very okay. From where I stood, it seemed like they had a long way to go. But here we are, a year later, and I must admit, I’ve underestimated The Men. New Moon, their third effort, is a tighter, brighter, more cohesive record than anything they’ve had their hands in before.

Artist of the Day: Lemaitre

This will be the second time I've touted Lemaitre on this here pedestal, but since 2013 has managed to be so outstanding I want to review every album I come across. As a result, the only things left to display here are singles and upcoming releases. In the case of Lemaitre we have a single and an upcoming release, so they're pretty much perfect.

The Norwegian duo's newest track may as well be a deconstruction of what they're all about: with a soft, bleepy intro quickly descending into Daft Punk with vocals. It's sugary, inoffensive and energetic enough that even a loveless elitist such as myself can't help but be won over. It bodes very well for the new EP, which will be the third installment in the so-far "okay" Relativity series, and hopefully they'll be able to reignite the creative spark which made their debut so fantastic.

Album Review: Volor Flex - Unlit

Album Rating: B
If the name Burial were to be dropped at the very beginning of a review, you’d know what to expect from the album: female samples covered in those comforting clicks and clacks to the dull gloom of bass. For Volor Flex’s first two LPs this would be apt, considering his self description as a Burial tribute-come-worshiper act. Many found these two releases to fall too close to the tree: dissatisfied with the sheer degree of imitation regardless of Volor Flex’s growing sense of self within this framework. Unlit arrives fresh after a small, not very well received EP on Apollo in which Volor Flex attempted to branch out with less than mixed success. This new LP sees him reign back his style to the sort he’s comfortable creating, with a keen eye on developing the staple sound rather than replicating it. Any Burial comparisons, especially at the beginning of a review, would therefore be unfair. I’m sorry I mentioned it.

Jukebox: Virt - "Staring At My Spaceship"

Jake Kaufman (better known as Virt) just may be my favorite musician in the chiptune community; his work, in all honesty, transcends musical boundaries, in my opinion. No track of his, however, is as dear to my heart as "Staring At My Spaceship," a moving ode to love, wonder, and beauty--at least that's how I see it. Though it was written way back in 2007, it still feels new every time I hear it: the track opens with vaguely cosmic synthesizer melodies that soon make way for a blend of energetic strings, fruity piano asides, and adorable chip melodies. The real showstopper is the climax of the track, which is an absolute blast-off the likes of which you have probably never heard in your life.

Oh, and should I mention that he wrote this song for his then-bride/now-wife Kristi? Swoon.

Stream/download the track here, and please take a moment to check out his awesome site, which features literally hundreds of free downloads.

Free Music February: ABSRDST

Today's release hails from chiptune musician ABSRDST--but don't tell him I called him that. In truth, Jack Vanounderaren does so much more than spitting out chirpy 8-bit tunes; his music is a world in itself, rich with atmosphere and plot. At heart, he's a storyteller, and the breadth of his musical vision is apparent on his outstanding new LP, Xhip Quim, which you can stream and download for free from his Bandcamp page.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Mutrix

Continuing in the vein of Free Music February, Mutrix is an EDM artist who releases all of his music for free (much like the previously featured Project 46). Part of the burgeoning "brostep" movement in America, Mutrix is quite good at the various styles in which he participates, be it electro house, dubstep, or glitch hop. He's sure to be quite a polarizing artist given that he's very much got a stereotypical "bro" sound to him - listen to "Moments" and you'll see what I mean. However, of all the artists who embody the recent trend, Mutrix is one of the most technically sound and interesting. His remix of Krewella's "Killin' It" is a great example of what he can do, as it's one of the most exciting house releases of recent memory with its excellently minced vocal samples, interesting synth lines, and general fun factor. Mutrix has become very popular over the last couple months, and I predict that if the current trends in EDM continue he will soon become an Adventure Club-esque genre mainstay. For now, though, enjoy the free music he offers.

Facebook/Twitter (His music is all offered for free on his Facebook page)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Artist Of The Day: The Jealous Sound

The Jealous Sound formed in 2000 after the breakup of vocalist/guitarist Blair Shehan's former band Knapsack, but since then the band has been inactive almost as often as they've been touring and making records. After the band's critically acclaimed full length Keep Them With Kindness in 2003, very little (other than a small EP titled Got Friends) came out of the band until 2011 when the band announced their latest full length A Gentle Reminder. The record was a perfect follow up to Keep Them With Kindness, keeping the band's similar emo tinged pop rock sound but still moving forward with stronger songwriting and tighter production.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Artist of the Day: Veronica Falls

I can’t think of a better word than “British” to describe London indie-pop outfit Veronica Falls, although “charming” could work. The four-piece’s second album, Waiting for Something to Happen, is undoubtably one of the most enjoyable, easy to listen to releases of the year so far. Where their self-titled debut felt manic, dark chords and themes evoking nervousness during even the cheeriest moments, Waiting is a sweet affair. The group dumped what edge they may have had to embrace their fate as the pop band they were always meant to be, and the revelation left them free to stretch their bubble-gummy fingers in wondrous directions. Sugar-laced arpeggios and mellowed progressions urge you to just sit and soak in the vibrations as vocalist Roxanne Clifford leads her adoring choir of harmonizing boys James Hoare and Patrick Doyle to new levels of pretty. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Artist Of The Day: LIFE

Typical. Just typical. Just as my mission to persuade anyone who'll listen that The Neat, the greatest band of our generation was beginning to find success, the fuckers had to go and end it all. With only three singles by means of evidence, it seems all future attempts will fall on death ears, as a group who should have changed the face of planet Earth fade from virtual unknowns to, well, complete unknowns.

Thanks a lot guys.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free Music February: Take One Car

As the second month of an exciting year draws to a close, we want to offer up what we can find in terms of free. With everything becoming more expensive, the term draws the eye more and more every day. Thus, our Free Music February experiment continues.

The latest addition we have for you is Take One Car, a New York band who came out with a chart-topping album precisely one year ago. The band labels their sound as "Rock or something," which doesn't really define the genre-mixing with justice, but is essentially applicable - elements of heavy post-rock are there, but with both traditional rock influences (which is where Tyler Irish's astonishingly good vocals come from) and much darker post-metal roots as well, melding to form It's Going To Be A Nice Day, which both Casey and I thought was impressionable enough to appear on our year's end lists. On top of the band's fantastic second album, both their first album and live recordings will also be included in Free Music February, due to the band's generosity in celebrating the one-year release of Nice Day. It is an excellent offer for an even better album, absolutely worth a minute of your time.

You can find all of Take One Car's discography on their Bandcamp page, free for the next week only.

Point-Counterpoint: Is Paramore's "Now" a good idea?

With the loss of two band members and a non-trivial hiatus, it follows logically that Paramore's sound would change. The band's new song, "Now," demonstrates this conclusion to a T - it's a minor step in a different direction for the band, with its almost math-rock drums, industrial-tinged guitars, and Hayley Williams singing with a much harsher voice. Was it a good move for the band, though? Resident EDM nerd Will Robinson dukes it out with himself in an unfamiliar genre, providing two different points of view regarding the new single.

Jukebox: Agerskow - "This Train Terminates" / "Fast Hands"

An adopted Geordie having relocated from East Yorkshire, Kate Edwards initially cut her teeth playing in local indie pop group Brilliant Mind before stepping out with her own creative vehicle. Formed in 2011, Agerskow as a project remains in relative infancy, yet it's already won Edwards plenty of plaudits, mostly on the back of live performances accompanied either by cellist Miriam Bennett or bassist John Edgell and drummer Narbi Price in a traditional band format. Now, with a full array of musicians at her disposal, the songwriter is finally preparing to unveil her first official release; a double A-side single featuring the tracks "This Train Terminates" and "Fast Hands," due on 18 March via Newcastle-based label Cottage Industries.

Artist of the Day: The Sun Explodes

As JFK so boldly said over 50 years ago, "We celebrate the past to awaken the future." Since the first review I wrote for MuzikDizcovery, two years ago today, I've found that nothing is more rewarding than helping bands get their names out to big audiences, which often gets people excited about music they've never even heard. So I decided the best way to celebrate my tenure would be to get people excitedWhile I have indeed talked about The Sun Explodes before, and they may not be the smallest of bands, they've got a big release coming up very soon that's worth mentioning. We Build Mountains is the post- / prog-metal band's sophomore album, and seeing as Emergence had so many unique things going for it, I'm expecting some quality composition on this new record. Without a definitive release date, we can't really do anything but hold our breath, but the album will show its face sometime within the next month or two, by the look of the band's Facebook updates. Until then, keep an eye out for the seemingly episodic teaser videos spotlighting the album, and check out Emergence if you haven't already.

The Sun Explodes has limited music on MySpace, but if you have an account, all their music is on Spotify.

Watch This: Shane Koyczan - "To This Day"

Watch This is a new feature highlighting the intersection between music and film. Not only will we be taking a look at some of the best new music videos around, we'll also be looking around us to see the many ways in which music can bring people together in everyday life.

Anybody who's ever been bullied knows how hard it is to deal with the cruelty that comes with adolescence; what is even harder to deal with is the repercussions it can have on your life. That doesn't mean, however, that you're in this alone. Spoken-word poet Shake Koyczan, whose poem "To This Day" was shaped by his own experiences with bullying, collaborated with a litany of animators and motion artists to create this moving video for it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Album Review: Iceage - You're Nothing

Album Rating: A
Yes, it’s true that noise is cool again. You heard it here first. Well, you’ve probably heard it in a lot of places, but that cements my point. Perhaps the demise of gentrified shine-pop is upon us. Noise represents a powerful stream in the history of alternative music, sometimes overtly but mostly as an undercurrent. It has the noteworthy habit of fooling listeners and musicians alike into thinking it’s simple, stupid, and brutish. “I don’t know, It’s just kind of noise,” sigh detractors, much to any amateur noise-maker’s delight. But noise is smarter than we think. It’s not just going spill out of an overheating amp whenever you call! It’s conscious, like us, and it doesn’t like to be treated like a pet. With their sophomore album,You’re Nothing, Danish punker four-piece Iceage have proven once and for all their acute understanding of noise and how to effectively wrangle it, in the process coming close to adding a few of their own words to the rarely-expanding vocabulary of the avant-garde.

Artist Of The Day: Dir En Grey

Visual kei veterans Dir En Grey are truly the masters of genre hopping and experimental rock. Spanning eight studio albums in a handful of remastered, extended, and live varieties, the Japanese five-piece incorporate a staggering amount of influence from pop rock, hard rock, nu-metal, metalcore, and progressive metal with the occasional touch of dreamy indie and electronic. Talk about prolific. Despite lyrics written and performed mostly in Japanese, the music and emotion transcends language barriers and makes the band one of the most interesting and vital performers in the metal scene today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Artist of the Day: At the Drive-In

Can post-hardcore devotees truly be post-hardcore devotees if they haven't heard At the Drive-In? I thought so for awhile, and still don't find the idea to be too ridiculous. However, having heard The Relationship of Command for the first time today, I can see why the album's so legendary within the genre's fanbase. Cedric's rough vocals, the infectious hooks at hand and the album's surprisingly simple structures paint such a different picture than The Mars Volta's general persona. It's really interesting to hear what Cedric and Omar were up to before they embarked on their progressive journey, which is why At the Drive-In's more straight-forward nature is refreshing. It's nice to hear the duo drop the pretense, and to play something that isn't head-scratchingly inaccessible. 

Album Review: Atoms For Peace - Amok

Album Rating: B+
Somewhere along the way Thom fell in love with himself. Or maybe not himself, more his music, but it’s hard to blame him when so many millions of people fell in love with Thom too. We’re now long past the whiny, public school kid from a town whose redeeming characteristic was once described by Bill Bryson as a well kept council estate, and with a hit song amounting to an extended exercise in self pity. We now have huge, media-hungry releases and epileptic fits masquerading as music videos. He hasn’t gone full Michael Jackson with fame, not yet, but the effect fame’s had on poor Thom is unmistakable. Self obsessed, self involved and self assured enough to form a supergroup with some of the biggest names in music then absolutely dominate it, Thom’s a new man.

Album Review: Pure Love - Anthems

Album Rating: B
It’s almost impossible not to start a review of Pure Love’s début album Anthems without first mentioning British hardcore band Gallows. For the first 6 years of their existence, Gallows were fronted by one of the angriest men in music. His lyrics were venomous, his interviews were hate-filled and his live performances were furious, with insults often hurled into the crowd for no particular reason other than to enjoy their reactions. Citing creative differences in his split from Gallows, that frontman was Frank Carter. And the word was really is imperative here, as the Frank Carter who croons for Pure Love is unrecognisable from his earlier, angrier incarnation.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Paul Baribeau

Paul Baribeau is just downright heartbreaking. His unique voice, coupled with brilliant acoustic folk punk creates some of the most unique and disheartening music you'll ever hear. The songs themselves aren't very complicated: a few chords played on an acoustic guitar with short verses, catchy choruses, and relatively short length. Baribeau's soothing voice croons out heartbreak in the most pleasing and relatable way. The brutal honesty of the music is what makes Paul Baribeau's music so fascinating. If you've been through a tumultuous break up, you'll definitely be able to find something to relate to.

Album Review: Codec - Horizontime

Album Rating: A-
I'm not going to pretend I was a huge 32 Leaves fan. I really liked their song "All Is Numb," but I didn't really listen to much of their other material. I may have listened to Welcome To The Fall, their debut, once or twice, but with those few listens I never became a die-hard fan. Nor will I pretend I was devastated by the band's breakup. When they split a few months after an apparently disappointing Panoramic (I wouldn't know), I was mildly disgruntled for a few minutes before shutting down my computer, doing something else, and forgetting 32 Leaves was no more. I also won't pretend I was immediately filled with excitement when lead singer Greg Norris announced the formation of his new band, Codec, and released the band's debut album less than a year later. Rather than eagerly snap up every single Codec released on the way to the album, I found out Norris had a new project through a Facebook ad a few weeks ago, months after the release. A bit skeptical, I listened to the new material, almost as late to the party as I had been upon discovering his former band.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Live Review: Yo La Tengo, The 9:30 Club (2/15/13)

Photo Courtesy of Ron Mitchell
Let’s start with a little disclaimer: the first time I saw Yo La Tengo, they sort of blew my mind. It was about a year ago at a small festival in Richmond, Va. It had been rainy all day, and turn-out was minimal. About half a dozen pretty-good sets and five hours in, I was feeling a fairly drained. When Yo La Tengo took the stage, it felt like a godsend. They absolutely tore it up. I would spend the next year calling them my favorite band. You could say my expectations were a little high when I made the two hour pilgrimage from Richmond to D.C. last Friday to see them play the 9:30 club. I wasn’t let down.

Artist of the Day: Lapalux

Lapalux has always been one of those artists who spend the majority of time on the very fringe of our collective peripheral vision: poised to jump into view. After two incredibly tasty releases last year, the electronic hip-hop mastermind's Soundcloud page is pushing 30,000 followers and with every single and EP it only grows and grows. Recent (as in eight days ago recent) release "BETHR" is an example of how far he's willing to stretch his sound: with the heroin-slow psychedelically tones stretching the membrane of what could be considered hip-hop.

March, 2013 should see the release of Nostalchic, his debut LP which I personally expect to blow up in a very big way. So far the only hint we've had of what it will sound like is "Guuurl," a track echoing the more melodic aspects of last year's EPs. While this single track may not be quite as interesting as some of his previous releases (When You're Gone, namely), I'm still incredibly optimistic for the new album. If you're at all electronic or hip-hop minded, this will be a big one to look out for.

Listen to the tracks mentioned on Soundcloud
Go like him on Facebook if you want to. I won't force you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Artist of the Day: sun cellar

Free Music February keeps on rollin' with today's Artist of the Day, sun cellar, an alt-rock band from Chicago, Ill. that is just getting started. Abstraction, its FREE debut EP, is above all an intuitive experience. Its bells and whistles are tried-and-true, yet the way the band puts its various components together shows an impressive understanding of how each piece fits into an altogether unique whole. Take "Light Leaks," a track that begins small before exploding into a beastly blend of calculated yet surprisingly forceful drumbeats and formidable guitar riffs. Frontman Nicholas Paul takes the opportunity to showcase his versatile voice, one capable of getting right into the head of a lovestruck twentysomething before turning around and walking away from the emotional wreckage, all in the space of a single stanza. There's more to this band than just musical proficiency, though, as each song is loaded with lyrics you'll have running in your brain for days: "Is that enough? Babe, that you wanted it bad enough?" Paul asks us on the chorus of standout "Checkmate," and quite frankly, I still don't have an answer to his inquiry. Abstraction's pleasures are just as rooted in the heart as they are in the brain; it's testimony that there's more to this band than meets the eye--ahem, the ears.

Once again, Abstraction is available for the low-low price of FREE on the sun cellar Bandcamp page. You can find more information on the band's Facebook page as well.

Album Review: Marc M. Cogman - Anthems

Album Rating: A
NOTE: This review is part of Free Music February and a revision of a review originally posted on December 22, 2012 on

The title of folk-rock artist Marc M. Cogman’s third release Anthems is confusing at first, as nothing in the actual work suggests much of anything very anthemic. The production is scratchy and unpolished, often letting louder dynamics blur together in an angry haze. The instrumentation is right out of the folk playbook, utilizing pianos, guitars, drums, and little else. The lyrics rarely deviate from its author’s personal tribulations. Yet that’s precisely where its value as an anthemic work comes from: it aims not to please a crowd but finds its power in the individual struggles we all face in the name of love. Cogman leaves himself to grapple freely with his thoughts and ambitions, and the result is just as complex as his relationships: angry then hopeful, bitter then euphoric, detached then engaged—and throughout this rollercoaster ride of emotion, both relatable and uplifting.

Jukebox: "Peace Be With You" - Danny Baranowsky

Multiple playthroughs into The Binding of Isaac (the official most addictive computer game in existence, might I add,) and then it hits me like a ton of bricks. The single most jarring part of the game is when it draws to a lull, once Isaac has defeated all his foes on the floor, and the boss lies on the ground in defeat. In this moment, a subtle ambient song begins to play. And while it can be hard to notice, the track adds so much depth to the moment. I'd be doing the song a disservice by trying to sum it up in mere words, so I implore you to check it out yourself.

Congratulations, Danny Baranowsky. This song was probably an afterthought during your writing sessions, but it's going to stay with me a long time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Artist Of The Day - This Drama

Deep Elm exports This Drama are the rarest of combinations; a rock band from the sweltering Canary Island of Tenerife. Hailing from a place where dance music normally reigns supreme and guitars are as rare as rain, This Drama infuse punk with rock and combine it with both hardcore and 80’s vibes, regularly switching between their influences seamlessly whilst always managing to stride with a swagger. The vocals are always gruff, the guitar lines are insatiably ferocious and gritty and the drumming never forgets for one second that its role is to relentlessly drive the songs forward and provide the platform for the other instruments to build upon. This rather potent concoction is what This Drama’s latest EP The Wasted Youth is all about, and it relentlessly pummels you from start to finish.

Album Review: Mental Architects - Celebrations

Album Rating: B+
Celebrations is an apt title for math-rock collective Mental Architects' latest offering. Though this is no-nonsense fare that cuts right to the chase, there's plenty of room here for off-kilter moments, explosions of jubilation, and orgasmic climaxes so loud Explosions In The Sky would wet themselves with delight; members Tony, Niki, and Max (who refuse to divulge their last names) may think in mathematical terms, but this is nevertheless a release brimming with personality.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free Music February: Wolfman Conspiracy

Eight-person ensemble Wolfman Conspiracy may hail from the frigid coasts of Massachusetts, but its music absolutely brims with warmth; throughout its latest EP, AntiVamp, it packages socially-conscious ruminations in poignant human stories and an immediately inviting atmosphere. Though a reggae band in name and style, it plays with the attitude of a punk-rock band, and fans of either genre will find plenty to like here.

Artist Of The Day: Project 46

In the spirit of our Free Music February here at Muzik Dizcovery, we present to you Project 46 as our Artist Of The Day. Plus, what better way to ring in my personal first (albeit late) FMF post with an artist whose entire catalog of almost 50 original songs, remixes, and mashups is available for free? No, seriously, everything Project 46 has released is free off of their website and/or Facebook page. The duo, aside from their excellent prog-house anthems which all typically have stellar vocal tracks (see "Dreaming," featuring Andrew Allen's excellent voice), is famous for their weekly "Pancake Fridays." Every Friday, the duo receives a random number from a random number generator (typically under 500) and if they receive at least that many likes on their "Pancake Friday" announcement post they release a free song (usually a mashup, but sometimes original work or a remix/bootleg). This "Pancake Friday" tradition, along with their skill in crafting progressive house, has catapulted them to stardom in the house world - they received the #100 spot in this past year's DJ Mag Top 100 DJs, they've released on major labels like Spinnin' Records and Armada, and they're currently touring all over the world to massive crowds everywhere. Project 46 will be a name to watch in the future, and what they've accomplished so far is only the beginning.

You can access Project 46's entire catalogue here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Artist Of The Day - Old Gray

Over the past two years, Old Gray has grown immensely. They are almost unrecognizable from their 2011 demo when they used to play twinkly emo music in the vein of Snowing, but with their growth they have become one of the brightest upcoming bands in screamo. The group's latest EP Everything I Let Go & The Things I Refuse To took their sound from Do I Destroy The Universe and heighten it ten fold, raising the emotional intensity to a crushing level. From the spoken word opener "359 Pine" where drummer Charlie Singer speaks beneath post-rock style guitar riffs, to the chaotic build up to heavy distortion in "Resonance," to the intense repetition of the words "I am so alone" in "Winter '11," and to the intense feelings behind "Six Years," every song in the release is bult to create a powerful response. The songs easily accomplish the group's goals, and ended up coming together to be one of the strongest screamo releases of the year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Artist of the Day: Parquet Courts

For me, Parquet Courts’ Light Up Gold was a few steps away from a miracle. Deriving the energy and authenticity of American Post-Punk into a new form without ending up sounding totally contrived is a feat at which many lesser bands have tried and failed. Did I mention they’re from Brooklyn? The odds were all against them making an impression, but impress they did. We’re learning, as the age of the revival wears on, that history is bound to repeat itself. Punk rock was a reaction to the excesses of Journey and bands who thought The Wall was the most relatable record ever made. It follows, then, that self-absorbed synth-pop’s new dominance in the trend-o-sphere would lead to a resurgence in silly, sloppy, guitar-based indie rock. As some Ramone once said, “we just want to make music fun again.”

Album Review: A.M. Architect - Pattern Language

Album Rating: B
As every child should know, mixing every colour of paint is disappointing. The result is a kind of infected brown instead of the wonder colour needed to elevate your finger painting to a level of brilliance not seen since Picasso. Music can work just the same: if you were to grab a drum track, throw in some guitar rhythms, and then pile on synths, distorted vocals, flute leads, maybe another drum track, then the same track reversed, keyboards, ambient hums, crackles. the occasional cough and god knows what else, you’d end up with a bit of a mess. Luckily, A.M. Architect are not you, because they know what they’re doing. When A.M. Architect decide to mix every instrument and style under the sun at once, the result doesn’t imitate a multi-carriage train wreck. Instead, it resembles a swarm: thousands of individual parts moving and acting as one.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Album Review: Foals - Holy Fire

Album Rating: A-
The descriptions that emerged of Foals’ new sound on their third release Holy Fire alluded to both experimentation and a smooth transition to the live stage. Interviews with frontman Yannis Philippakis saw words such as “swampiness” and “heat” used repeatedly; unsurprising given the setting in which Holy Fire was conceived. Recorded primarily live in a serene riverside location with mainly insects for company, the band even went as far as dropping any tracks which “didn't sound good in the environment.” Such strict resolve is not only commendable but is excellent news for fans who are already accustomed to their energetic, visceral live performances. Holy Fire is more experimental than Foals’ previous releases and it covers more ground than the winsome Antidotes or the progressive Total Life Forever, as it creates a bridge between their début and their sophomore release whilst also exploring new territory.

Artist Of The Day: The Album Leaf

The Album Leaf has come a long way, especially for a one-man project. Jimmy LaValle works endlessly to sample and mix and find just what kinds of sounds he wants to premiere on his next big thing. His latest endeavors include an EP that I didn't get to cover last year, but wanted to talk about; Forward/Return represents The Album Leaf's progression incredibly well. "Descent" beautifully captures how effortless he can layer mellow sounds in order to get melodies reminiscent of his work as far back as In A Safe Place, while "Images" paints a different picture, something slightly out of what LaValle's produced before, but nonetheless smooth and flowing like the rest of his material.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Mudhoney

It goes without saying Mudhoney are no longer young, sprightly beings, and indeed all which seems to draw them from their shells these days is a good anniversary. The grunge pioneers are in the midst of their biggest gap yet between studio albums, having kept quiet since 2008's The Lucky Ones; a record essentially released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their equally legendary label Sub Pop. Now, with the quarter-century mark creeping conveniently into view, the quartet are finally readying themselves to unveil a follow-up, with ninth outing Vanishing Point due to drop in early April.

Album Review: Rene LaVice - Insidious

Album Rating: B
I'd really like to be able to say Insidious is a groundbreaking album. Rene LaVice is one of my favorite new drum & bass producers, and I've been drooling over the thought of a full-length album from him ever since "Headlock" came out about this time last year. What's more, "Headlock" was a deviation from the norm for an often sluggish RAM Records, and after safe releases like singles from Culture Shock, Wilkinson, and Delta Heavy the song came at a perfect time for the label. It also helped that on the same EP was June Miller's incredible "64 Thousand Dollar Habit," but no matter - Rene LaVice set the stage for himself quite excellently with that song, and unsurprisingly RAM signed him exclusively a few months later. The release of a good Absolute Monster EP this past summer helped to heighten expectations for the album, as the EP showed off LaVice flexing his producer's muscle with five dark, expertly controlled DnB tunes, showing the young producer taking a step towards oft-untrodden frontiers of the genre. All this contributes to the fact that I wanted - nay, presumed - Insidious to be chock-full of fresh and innovative music. Many listeners think of Rene LaVice as a potent force against the stagnation of the genre of which he is a part, and he was expected to champion the forward-thinking sound he had previously put forth by accomplishing the Herculean task of injecting a crisp new sound into his music over the course of 14 tracks.

What is the Harlem Shake, and why should you care?

For those of you unfamiliar with what has become the newest Internet sensation, the concept of the Harlem Shake is simple: a thirty-second clip from Baauer's trap hit "Harlem Shake" makes up the audio for the video. For the first fifteen seconds of the video, a few people stand around doing nothing of particular interest (talking, using the computer, playing videogames, etc.) while one person in a mask of some sort does a ridiculous dance. For the last fifteen seconds, everyone who was in the first fifteen seconds of the video joins the person in the mask and does some sort of dancing for the camera. The original Harlem Shake is embedded below, and if it tickles your fancy here is a video of some shirtless kids doing it, here is a video of CollegeHumor employees doing it, and here is a clip of Peanuts characters doing it.

Free Music February: capucha

Happy weekend, everybody! I hope all of you guys are enjoying the winter (unless you're stuck in the blizzard destroying New England, in which case...brrrr.) If it's any comfort, today's free music download should help thaw your spirits.

Hailing from Madrid, Spain, six-piece group capucha released a FREE debut EP last October. The band exists in a nebulous space between indie and post-rock, its sound refreshingly stripped-back and intimate but its compositions demonstrating a mastery of tension and climax. It's a balance the band pulls off well: this is an ensemble without a weak link. While songs like "hay mucho amor" (which Google Translate tells me means "much love") build to crushing walls of sorrow, weeping slabs of guitar complemented by a robust string section, lead vocalist Roberto Perez reins them in from melodrama with his smooth, melodic voice. On the other hand, "nada que puedas hacer" ("nothing you can do") makes a hell of a closing statement thanks to the fantastic instrumentation, understated when playing against Perez' pathos but growing more ravenous with each passing minute and building to a ferocious climax that will elicit reactions from even the most jaded post-rock junkies. Just as the album's cover depicts a transitional period, something between a sunset and nightfall, so does capucha's music, yielding results as moving as they are creative.

You can download this EP for FREE on the band's Bandcamp page and find more info on its Facebook page.

Album Review: Eels - Wonderful, Glorious

Album Rating: B
For better or for worse, the days when each new Eels album represented a candid document of emotional tragedy appear all but gone. This will of course come as a relief to E, the man whose seemingly endless pit of misfortune helped fuel those life-affirming voyages into the depths of human despair, but whilst not producing records of the same calibre as Beautiful Freak or Electro-Shock Blues, this new-found contentment has done little to quell the creative instinct which continues to drive him forward.  That much was apparent during the flurry of activity which culminated in the Hombre Lobo/End Times/Tomorrow Morning trilogy of 09/10; arguably his least great records to date, but ones which still proved thoroughly worthwhile, gem-packed ventures - a notion which, predictably enough, can also be applied to this 10th outing.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Artist of the Day: Fall Out Boy

Say what you will about the quality of their members, especially about Pete Wentz, since nothing is funnier than a joke about Pete Wentz, but Fall Out Boy put out some damn catchy music in their day. Yes their most recent album, Folie a Deux, was a, pardon my french, *folie*, but From Under the Cork Tree and Take this to Your Grave still hold up surprisingly well as pop-punk cornerstones that we like to convince ourselves we forgot about. However, one would be hard-pressed to find a kid coming into his own from 2004-2007 who isn't ready to shout the chorus to "Sugar, We're Going Down" as loud as they can at the drop of a hat. Granted, after Fall Out Boy went on hiatus in 2009, it was really easy to forget about their music in general since everyone except Patrick Stump fell off the map entirely. Stump actually got the worst treatment of any of them though, eventually getting bullied out of the music industry altogether by the harsh words of music critics.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Artist of the Day: iNTRiKeT

We musicians all have our aspirations, but there's something special about those of us who actually deliver. Josh Frazer is one such example, taking influence from his favorite dubstep producers and then channeling the energy into something distinctly his. Frazer, a.k.a. iNTRiKeT, has given followers small tastes of music over the last year, but late 2012 finally saw a full-fledged release from the producer.

Live Review: Dinosaur Jr, HMV Ritz, Manchester, 2/1/2013

"Dinosaur Jr? More like Dinosaur Sr!" Although it does little more than raise a smirk, this would-be witty remark I overheard at a recent Dinosaur Jr concert did spark something in my mind. They've been around a long time, haven’t they? A really, really long time. It prompted me to scan the room, to which I noticed balding gents aplenty, most of whom probably had J. Mascis length hair the last time they saw them play nigh on 20 years ago. The age of the crowd was so diverse and the people so varied it felt every bit a privilege to be in the presence of a band that had touched two generations of listeners.

Album Review: My Bloody Valentine - m b v

Album Rating: B+
I wonder what would happen if we brought Monet back to life. Suspend your disbelief for a moment and imagine with me. Out of the cloning center he strides, scratching his beard, scruffy as ever, as we watch on intently. He’s locked away in his studio apartment for weeks (painting, we presume,) his publicist or roommate or mailman emerging every now and then to tell us he’s burned another canvas or he’s working on the finishing touches. And then, it happens. The news starts flooding in as we furiously reload the front page of New Art “Is it going to look like the poppies?” someone cries. “I hope it’s more like the water lilies,” says another. Meanwhile, I’m wondering how, in an endless slush of lonely housewife imitators and $10 coffee-store prints, our hero could ever hope to be as relevant alive as he was dead.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Album Review: Omnium Gatherum - Beyond

Album Rating: A-
Metal is one of the most redundant music genres today. It's a sad realization, but there are five throwaway metal imitators for every innovative act. This shouldn't be a criticism of the genres themselves: a style with distinct characteristics will inevitably spawn imitations. In no way should this damage how talented metal groups are received, though. In fact, the great ones should be applauded for rising out of the muck and monotony to accomplish wonders.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Album Review: Biffy Clyro - Opposites

Album Rating: C-
The quest to stay commercially relevant is notoriously harsh and demanding, as the majority of bands who embark upon it soon find out. In most cases quality is quickly usurped by quantity, and standards degenerate as rapidly as bands can pump out singles and albums. Although it would be a sweeping and incorrect generalisation to suggest that all such bands regret their decision to aim for the mainstream, those that do so too hastily tend to be found wanting sooner rather than later. Biffy Clyro’s decision to wait some three years to release their newest album seems wise in this context, as the temptation to pump out radio friendly soft rock tunes with catchy choruses must've been difficult to suppress. Unfortunately, all they've done with Opposites is craft a compendium of them.

Free Music February: Drive By Night

"Who do you think you're looking at, fool?!"
Greetings, all you brave readers on a qwest to dizcover muzik! I'm very happy to kick-off something I'd like to call Free Music February: this month, all of my Artist of the Day posts will feature a free download, be it a song, EP, or even an LP. So sit back, get your trigger finger ready, and prepare for the torrent of awesome headed your way!

Album Review: Owel - Owel

Album Rating: B+
Where to begin with Owel is difficult. It usually is - post-rock and its close likenesses need an individualizing concept in order to keep themselves afloat, new, and apart from the rest of the industry. However, the band takes it a step further by introducing a different instrumentation and allowing the natural flow of a different sound take its own effect in the songs. Thus, when they produce something like their self-titled, the violin, cello and keys in addition to a traditional setup creates something altogether separate. Owel utilizes these sounds, as well as a strong control over song flow, in order to maximize an emotional effect in the listener and build up to big moments to make them even larger.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Artist of the Day: Foals

It's probably pretty safe to say that Oxford-based quintet Foals have made something of a name for themselves. Their debut, Antidotes, can in all likeliness be entirely blamed for thousands upon thousands of now 20-something indie kids. The unique blend of naive energy and tight, math-rock style was eagerly lapped up by both press and public, inspiring a love for indie not seen since the peak of Bloc Party's own fanfare. The band soon followed with Total Life Forever, a leap into maturity so drastic that the two albums are often referred to as completely separate eras in the band's discography, named pre-beard and post-beard respectively in reference to the frontman's choice of facial hair. Total Life Forever introduced electronic elements, a focus on progression and an all-round dreamier palette. The opposite side of Antidote's frantic coin.

In little under a week Holy Fire will be released. We'd never dream of listening to the leak here at Muzikdizcovery, so we can only guess that the album might possibly be more experimental, less focused, possibly a little patchy yet still pretty excellent. That's just a guess, though. As stated: we'll be waiting for the official release.

Official Site