Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jukebox: Farewell Fighter - "Fall"

Let me just cut straight to the chase on this Jukebox entry: Farewell Fighter was the first new band I discovered in high school back in January 2011. Now it's the band that will soundtrack the last days of my senior year. I am inexplicably, unbelievably proud of the new album (my review will go up sometime this weekend), but for now, here's "Fall," one of the best songs off Challenges, which drops on August 6.

Artist of the Day: Backtrack

The New York hardcore scene has always been at the forefront of heavy music, churning out multiple legendary bands over the past few decades. Currently, no band in said scene is as important as Backtrack. The group's debut album, Darker Half, is a relentlessly unforgiving attack on the ears. Never letting the listener catch a break, Backtrack barrel through almost 20 songs before letting the album come to a close. Despite being a hardcore band, they are extremely accessible and are not entirely polarizing to people who may not enjoy heavier music.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Album Review: Norma Jean - Wrongdoers

Rating: A+
Honestly, the metal world is over saturated. Bands tend to fall in the groove of rewriting the same breakdowns, chugging riffs and scream-verse-and-sung-choruses, and innovation is often lost. Once-prominent metalcore bands fall to the wayside or give in to new marketable trends. Other bands progress on but fall into a genre niche full of long-time fans, but with Wrongdoers, Norma Jean has overcome all of these hardships to release their strongest, most cohesive album to date.

Artist Of The Day: Sampha

Sampha is probably currently best known for his prevalent vocal work (as well as some production and writing credits) on SBTRKT's self titled album as well as a member of his live band, but with the release of his official debut solo EP he should start being respected as an individual artist. Dual, released today, gives us a first impression of his artistic vision. His soulful voice is on full display, and is definitely the forefront of the project, but the production supports it perfectly. Piano is a weapon of choice for his beats, but the most interesting tracks are the two that don't end up relying on it. The driving drumbeats on "Without" give the most similar feeling to his work on SBTRKT, while the layered vocal samples on closer "Can't Get Close" create an ethereal mood that could easily be likened to an angelic ride through the sky. While some work is needed to create a stronger, more cohesive product, Dual is simply the beginning on what should be a respected career for this up and coming vocalist and producer. You can stream a few tracks from the EP on Sampha's website.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Artist of the Day: AlunaGeorge

Body Music came out of nowhere. I mean, I'd heard of AlunaGeorge before through other artists - their feature on Disclosure's "White Noise" was seriously excellent, and Baauer's remix of the group's own "Attracting Flies" turned me on to the group's original work. Even with all that said, though, the group's debut album, Body Music, is incredible. It skirts past straight pop ("Attracting Flies") to reside mostly in the realm of deep, chilled-out R&B, and producer George Reid meshes his skittery beats and subdued basslines perfectly with lead singer Aluna Francis' unique voice. Take "B Ur Boo:" the odd harmonies and echoing clap work to make one of the best songs of the year. Be prepared for more potential coverage of the group in the next few months or so, and expect to love the album.

Stream the album here


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Album Review - Frankie & The Heartstrings - The Days Run Away

Album Rating: B
It's difficult to decipher quite how a band as inconsequential as Frankie & The Heartstrings can become so influential. Not ones for sonic adventure, the Sunderland five-piece all but concede their music to be bereft of originality - and some would even say ambition - having shown little to no interest in breaking free of pop music's established conventions. In a way, it's a self-imposed limitation which sums up a group who for all their strengths have always seemed somewhat out of place, especially given they arrived too late to capitalise on mid-'00s indie trends. It's startling, then, that Frankie Francis and company have nevertheless wound up doing rather well for themselves. 2011's debut LP Hunger, for instance, served up a delightful array of jangling gems, brimming with both personality and surprising reserves of staying power, but what's followed has arguably proved even more vital in their journey to prominence.

Round-Up: July 2013

Greetings! Here at MuzikDizcovery, we run across more amazing artists than you can shake a fist at...or write about, unfortunately. Round-Up is a new monthly feature that will attempt to cover some of the great musicians who we may have missed but are just as deserving of our attention.

Admirers is a new project from Mikey James, a multifaceted musician with a groovy streak. His debut album Involuntary Memory (which is available now) will likely resonate with fans of acts as diverse as M83, Basement Jaxx, and even Michael Jackson. The default tone of the album's funky synth-pop is one of exhausted joie de vivre; James wrote the entire thing during nighttime sessions, and tracks like "Return" and "High Street" exhibit a sort of subdued sparkle appropriate for that brief pocket between midnight and closing hours at your local nightclub. For listeners whose best time of day is that nebulous period, Admirers is a must-listen. Here's a stream of album single "Spirit Lamp" to whet your appetite.

Album Review: Slow Warm Death - Slow Warm Death

Album Rating: A
I was completely heartbroken when Snowing broke up. Their midwestern emo revival was a crucial part of my adolescence, and frontman John Galm was a genius in my mind. So you can only believe my excitement when I found out Galm had formed a new band called Slow Warm Death, and was putting out music again. I put the headphones on and prepared to fall back in love with one of my favorite lyricists, but instead of the intricate, emo-punk I expected, I was hit with a wall of sound. Slow Warm Death hit me like a ton of bricks. It was cacophonous, muddy, and Galm's delivery had transformed completely. I couldn't believe what had happened, and ended up turning the album off after just a few tracks. A few weeks later, I decided to give it another try. I thought perhaps I still had some resentment from Snowing calling it quits. I entered into the world of Slow Warm Death with open ears this time, and experienced something that I could have never imagined.

Artist Of The Day: Minks

Minks has gone under a pretty incredible transformation in sound over the last three years. Based on the release of the first three singles from the upcoming record Tides End, the dreamy, reverb drenched sound of the band's debut By The Hedge is all but gone, replaced with a more straightforward and focused sound. Everything packs far more of a punch, from the newly clear and intelligible vocals to the tightened up instrumentals focused on doing more than just creating a wall of sound. The choruses are huge and it's obvious that Tides End is going to be a far more accessible record, with the ability to make the impact that Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils and DIIV have made in the last couple years. Check out streams of "Margot" and "Painted Indian," and definitely preorder the record if you enjoy those tracks!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Interview With Koji (7/13/13)

Koji is more than just a musician. Music is just one of the tools that he uses to express his feelings on issues that he feels passionate for. For example, he used the preorder for his brand new record Crooked In My Mind as a way to donate to several organizations that fight issues that he finds important to the world as a whole. Koji graciously took some time out his busy touring schedule with Turnover, Have Mercy, and Ivy League to talk to us in Baltimore, Maryland about topics such as touring for long periods of time, the second edition of the Warped Tour Acoustic Basement, the record preorder, playing the Idobi Meltdown Festival, and far more that you can read below.

Watch This: f(x) - "Rum Pum Pum Pum"

Looks like the trend of the summer in Korea is girl groups toning down the tough to get to something sweet. 2NE1 did it with "Falling In Love," and I think this is another good example of how to do it properly. Those guitar strums and marching drums driving the verses are straight out of a Western, and the ladies of f(x) handle those passages with style, swaying their bodies with deceptively assured poise. But then they'll get to that hook--the explosive RUM PUM PUM PUM PUM--and without missing a beat, they'll segue right into a series of playground antics: starting improptu games of patty cake, stomping down the sparkly dance floor, wagging their fingers at each other like friends that have become something closer to sisters. It's a balance between mystique and friendship which "Rum Pum Pum Pum" pulls off perfectly.

As for the music? Well, if the snappy hints of golden-age Britney cheerleader pop don't suck you in, those luscious, sticky harmonies in the chorus certainly will.

Artist of the Day: Jenny Hval

There’s no question that thought in the vein of social justice (feminism, gender studies, etc.) is a bit of an insider game. When it comes to those not indoctrinated, there seem to be two distinct groups - those who want to learn, and those who don’t. I can’t get behind refusing knowledge. Over the past couple of years, incidental introductions to the most basic of topics has infinitely changed my perspective. Still, I've barely scratched the surface of the surface. I do know one thing, though: music is a great educator. The Knife put out Shaking the Habitual earlier this year with mixed reactions from the general listening public, possibly due to that same divide I mentioned earlier. The record had its own flaws, though. 30 minute songs and sometimes unbearable avant-gardeishness left it alienating. This is a tricky problem. Music like this, let’s call it academic or something, has, all at once, to educate, awaken, and entertain. STH did a great job on part two, a pretty good job at one, and, at times, a pretty awful job at three. This isn’t to say it’s a bad record. The perfect mix is hard to come by.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Album Review: Addison Groove & Sam Binga - BS3

Album Rating: B
I'm not going to waste time trying to pin down the genre of Addison Groove/Sam Binga's newest EP, BS3. In brief, it's quick-moving footwork and juke with the occasional Amen break and glitchy hip-hop clap. However, it's not really worth going into depth about where every single moment falls exactly on the spectrum of 808-experimentation - there are better things to do than wonder whether "Thr3id" potentially falls within the spectrum of half-time DnB or whether "11th" could be mixed into a trap set. Because overly analyzing BS3 kind of misses the point: it's a fun, carefree release. Free of the ostentatious weight of stylistic compatriots who feel the need to innovate to the point of sucking any potential fluffy gaiety out of their music, the two producers have created something both weighty and light, something which carries legitimacy in the eyes of many electronic listeners but is also quite entertaining.

Take "Thr3id," for example. The tune's excellent use of staggered beats and uncharacteristically placed 808s works wonders, and the fast-moving, half-time beat should get any dance floor moving. That's pretty much how the whole thing works, and, as a result, the EP isn't anywhere near incredible. It's four songs of pretty-similar dance-floor stomping which both producers have dabbled in before, and it's not particularly innovative by any stretch of the word. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing, either - if the tunes are well-made and fun, why shouldn't they be excellent? In this case, that's exactly what happens. Overly specific genre classifications aside, BS3 should be all over dancefloors pretty soon, and it's an excellent choice for that. Enjoy with a zesty side of the dancehall drug of your choice.

Stream clips of the EP here

1. Rzor
2. Thr3id
3. 11th
4. Ol Man Ek

Sam Binga's Facebook
Addison Groove's Facebook
Sam Binga's Twitter
Addison Groove's Twitter

Artist Of The Day: The Sun Explodes

The Sun Explodes released their second album in two years just a few days ago. The newest release, We Build Mountains, brings all the same ingenuity and creative new sounds that the first release brought us in the same strain. However, the sophomore, released just earlier this week, strays much further towards traditional metal, with influences from instrumental, rather than a sheer post-metal performance as featured in Emergence. This is good in some senses, such as the first single released before the more recent full-length, "SevenThreeOne," which features a prominent mathcore feel in the verses, a quieter post-rock-type bridge, and an outro that screams metalcore, which shows a large variety of genres in the composition. This genre-blending gives them the same degree of originality that was featured on their debut, and will serve them well throughout their musical career.

With the album released and everything going well for the band, there's almost sure to be some tour dates posted soon. Keep up with their website and watch for them!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Artist of the Day: Placebo

It might seem out of place for a site such as ours to feature a band who have so obviously passed their peak, but for many people Placebo remain a genuinely big deal. There's a reason for that too; namely that for more than a decade the London-based, but essentially multicultural trio were all but untouchable within their field. Ok, sexually ambiguous post-glam alt-rock was hardly a niche many specialised in, but it nevertheless was one which brought Brian Molko, Stefan Olsdal and Steve Hewitt huge success, especially on mainland Europe where they were - and to an extent still are - bona fida superstars. Much of this was due to the consistently superb string of singles they reeled off right from their emergence in 1996, but they also made a habit of backing them up with rock solid LPs, with serene yet sinister sophomore Without You I'm Nothing perhaps the pick of their achievements.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Artist of the Day: For The Fallen Dreams

Though modern metalcore has become more of a passing fad lately filled with synth lines and copy-pasted breakdowns, some bands fall into their own niche. For The Fallen Dreams is one of them, and with the return of Chad Ruhlig on vocals the band is back to prove that some things never change - in a good way.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Artist of the Day: Ulcerate

Ulcerate's fourth album, Vermis,drops this September.
In the field of Death metal, it’s becoming increasingly hard to stand out from the crowd. Progress is often limited to incestuous genre hybridization, so bands turn to advertising themselves as the most “intense” and “brutal” out there. Immolation created suffocating dissonance, Morbid Angel perfected blast-beat thunder, and Death injected the genre with philosophy and unpredictability, so it would seem there’s little left to say that hasn’t already been screamed. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Michael Hoggard and Jamie Saint-Merat decided it was time for the genre to take a step back and breathe a little. Born of their insane guitar and drum chops in 2000, Ulcerate started as a talented but otherwise unremarkable death metal outfit. After the band added and dropped a number of musicians, it settled on a trio of Hoggard, Saint-Merat and bassist/vocalist Paul Kelland. Those three would lay down the album Everything is Fire, and for once, death metal had a legitimately fresh sound.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jukebox: Nitri - Green Giant

As much as I hate to use worn-out terminology to describe music, Nitri's "Green Giant" is an absolute stomper. Everything about it screams "murdering the dancefloor," and it's constructed so that it can be a perfect catalyst for getting the crowd going. The crashing snares fit the tone of the piece well, and in conjunction with the menacing, mammoth bassline they work near perfection. The piece sounds of classic jungle, with the classic B-movie sample and simple yet lively drums pushing the atmosphere towards that well-known sound. However, Nitri puts enough of his own spin on things to make the tune his own, something not often seen in the DnB world. The phasers are oh so carefully crafted, the raggedy sound effects are deceptively fine-tuned, and the entire thing makes for a fun and energy-packed experience.

Stream the song here


T in the Park: the Best and the Worst

Scotland's most popular music festival, T in the Park, enjoys some big acts, BBC coverage and over 85,000 paying customers, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn it’s also an empty, lifeless husk of an event. It’s a bit of a festival for people who aren’t so fussed about music, and judging by the amount of random fights, obnoxious chants and people hunched forward in their own sick (at 4pm, might I add) every idiot in Scotland got the memo and bought a ticket. Despite this and it’s already terrible national reputation there were some great acts playing (also it was sunny for the first time in probably forever), so let’s ignore the festival as a whole and have a little look at the highlights.

Artist Of The Day: I Am The Branch

Over the past couple years, Count Your Lucky Stars has become one of my favorite labels due to the combination of top notch mail-order service, fantastic label owners (love you, Keith) and most importantly a wide group of excellent bands. The emergence of the label as an emo powerhouse in recent years has given plenty of exposure to the label's groups, however some of the label's earlier works have been forgotten. The recent "free discography" weeks have helped dig up some of those groups, and none of them has stood out more to me than the late I Am The Branch. The group's 2008 Count Your Lucky Stars EP Drink Tea is an emotional juggernaut, pointing more towards the late 90's than the upbeat emo-punk that's currently popular. Jazzy rhythms dominate the EP, while Robbie Pieschke's smooth vocals carry a certain fragility to them, as well as a similarity to Mike Kinsella. The band's 2010 LP Only Connect is just as strong, if not stronger, and Count Your Lucky Stars is finally reissuing this excellent release on cassette. The remastered release should be up for preorder soon, but for now, you can stream the album on Count Your Lucky Stars's Bandcamp. Be sure to check out Drink Tea as well.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Tay Allyn

We've come full circle. In 2011, we got Rebecca Black's "Friday"; 2012 brought the arrival of Double Take and their "Hot Problems"; this year, we have Tay Allyn, whose "Mass Text" is the next song to set the blogosphere on fire. Not that Ms. Allyn has any pretenses of greatness: the description on her YouTube argues that her music about "the mundane issues" of daily life is "sassy, fun, and RELATABLE" (on a more intriguing note, it also notes she was chosen by "Justin Timberlake and MySpace as a top upcoming artist of 2013.") What separates this awful song from the other awful songs inducted into the ARK Music Factory Hall of Fame, however, is how freaking DENSE it is. "Mass Text" finds about two dozen different hooks in a fairly repetitive conceit, most of them thanks to a firecracker performance from Tay.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Album Review: Defeater - Letters Home

Album Rating: B
Perhaps the most decisive question to ask yourself before listening to Letters Home, is which Defeater do you prefer? Did you fall for the brutal anger and honesty of debut Travels? Or were you more taken with the progressive Empty Days and Sleepless Nights? If you unquestionably lean toward the former and not the latter, then Letters Home is likely to tick all the boxes which the sophomore release failed to. There is no “White Oak Doors” to be found here, and you’re certainly in no danger of finding four acoustic songs glued to the tail of the album. By all intents and purposes, this is Defeater going back to Defeater, a notion which lead vocalist Derek Archaumbault enthusiastically confirms: “Letters Home brings it back to why we started this band in the first place five years ago.”

Artist of the Day: Xiu Xiu

I’ll admit, at first I could not understand Xiu Xiu. The music was dark and weird, with theatrically brooding vocals. Dear God, I Hate Myself was the name of the albumI purchased, and maybe it was the blatant title, or the stark artwork that drew me in. The opening line, “beat beat me to death / I said it,” shocked me and was somewhat sickening, but the acoustic guitar strumming over the cold drums was hypnotizing. I was lost in it. Twelve tracks later, I found myself asking “what did I just hear?” It was emotional battery at its finest, placed over avant-garde, electro-laced pop. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Artist of the Day: Sophie Jamieson

The problem with singer-songwriters is there are too many of them and they're almost always shit. There's not a person out there who doesn't know a friend or "someone" who frequents the open mic circuit in order to sandwich their own shaky material between a loaf of acoustic chart covers. I suppose this only serves to make the good ones seem even better, and in the case of young Sophie Jamieson it has the same effect on something marginally greater than just "good."

After deciding not to take advantage of her Cambridge degree by flinging herself into the London music scene (good on yer', Soph), Sophie has built up a yet modest following through excessive gigging over the past year. This accumulated into Where: a tiny five track EP currently having its way with my very seduced earlobes. She takes the intelligent decision to bolster out her quiet acoustic sound with bass guitar and Daughter-esque synths, but Sophie still manages to maintain the frank intimacy her genre relies on. Her gentle, dreamlike voice is the perfectly ripe cherry on the cake, resulting in an EP I cannot believe I've only just heard.

Where is available for the tiny price of £4 on Bandcamp.
You can also check out her website here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Album Review: Deafheaven - Sunbather

Album Rating: A-
"People are buying the album who you would not expect to be buying it," the owner of my favorite record store tells me as I searched the store for a copy of Deafheaven's new record, Sunbather. "It's crazy. I've sold out of two shipments of it," he tells me as he genuinely looks surprised. I tell him thanks and go home to order a copy from Deathwish's estore. I hit play after the instant download finishes, and I immediately understand why the album has been selling so well to crowds outside of the usual metal/hardcore circuit. It's metal for nonmetal fans, and an easy transition into heavier music for people who may typically not be into the genre.

Artist Of The Day: Starship Amazing

Let's hear it for keeping chiptune alive. Starship Amazing, an Anchorage, Alaska-based duo, has just released their debut LP, Ruby Dagger, and it's a wonderfully befuddling and trippy take on some sort of synth-pop/chiptune hybrid which works out about as well as you could hope. Over the course of the album's nine songs, Starship Amazing creates beautifully spaced-out chiptune-y soundscapes which reverberate beautifully over the ethereal texture of clicky drums and wailing synths. The duo's self-described "happy pos-vibes funk-jams" are light, airy, and really enjoyable, and the album comes highly recommended. Watch this blog for a review of the album in the near future.


Listen to the album here

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Julia Brown

It's admittedly weird to see my local music scene begin to get quite a bit of coverage in recent months. After the dispersal of Teen Suicide, Sam Ray and Alec "Torts" Simke joined together with Dan Collins, John Toohey, and Teen Suicide collaborator and Infinity Crush leader Caroline White to form Julia Brown, a band that's given my home of College Park, Maryland some hype this year. The group's first release to be close to you was recorded directly to tape, an obvious fact after just moments of listening, as the little crackles and muffled sound are indicators of the low budget recording. However, the production and short length didn't harm the record from receiving relatively widespread acclaim, most notably from Pitchfork. However, the band's latest 7" truly displays what the band can do. It features the band entering a studio for the first time, recording a hi-fi version of personal favorite track "Library," as well as a rerecording of Teen Suicide track "I Wanna Be A Witch." The band does not need to rely on the fuzz and lo-fi ambiance to create good music; they should embrace the studio and continue creating well structured tracks that are both catchy and substantial. The band is going up the east coast with friends Coma Cinema, so be sure to catch them if they come near you. You can check out the dates on Facebook, and order the 7" from Birdtapes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Interview and Live Review: Little Big League, Club K (7/14/13)

Guest interview, show review and photos by Patt Hickey (

Little Big League is a four piece made up of members of Post Post, Titus Andronicus, and Strand of Oaks from Philadelphia, PA. Forming at the end of 2011, they have since released a two track 7” and have a full length These Are Good People coming out on Tiny Engines in August. For the month of July they are traveling the east coast, making stops in all the big cities. I was able to meet up with them at the Baltimore, MD show at Club K to get the scoop on their new album.

Artist of the Day: William Tyler

While mid-year lists are clogged to bursting with your Kanyes and MBVs and Daft Punks, all those high-profile, blog-crashing, billboard buying acclaim magnets, some truly excellent work from the first half of 2013 has been tragically panned, forgotten, or just plain drowned out by surrounding waves of hype emanating from more mythical records. If you’re asking me, the award for most underappreciated goes to Nashville’s William Tyler. Then again, does he really have anyone but himself to blame? Not a lot of people are actively seeking out drowsy fingerstyle acoustic guitar music these days. If that description makes you think “Kurt Vile!” yes, it sounds a little like Kurt Vile, if Kurt gave up on singing and became really, incredibly talented at playing guitar. Actually, “play” seems to be a soft-sell. Tyler is a wrangler, shaking out of his instrument a power so base and primal that words seem irrelevant - singing seems like a cop-out. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Album Review: A Great Big Pile of Leaves

Album Rating: A
With a name that evokes images of autumn, A Great Big Pile of Leaves are ahead of themselves by a season, with an album soaked in summer. You're Always On My Mind is the group's sophomore album and debut on Topshelf Records. It's a concise representation of a season, infused with lighthearted nostalgia and sentiment by a band that is never too serious, but also displays maturity.

Album Review: Matt Nathanson - Last Of The Great Pretenders

Album Rating: A-
Nobody likes to talk more about love than heartbroken men with guitars. If one of these men shows up at your housewarming party or your grandmother’s funeral, you better hide anything with strings from sight; otherwise, the odds are better than good you’ll be there for the next four hours as you hold his hand through a series of flings, betrayals, and heartbreaks. But what makes or breaks a singer-songwriter when he’s singing (and songwriting) about matters of the heart? After all, we make faces at our beanie-clad cousin behind his back, but somehow John Mayer still sells millions of records. As Last of the Great Pretenders demonstrates, reaching out to listeners may be the deciding factor: even if its subject matter paves the road too traveled, Matt Nathanson’s latest is an invigorating ride. It crackles with poetry, electricity, and emotional heft.

Artist Of The Day: Russian Circles

After a successfully crushing release with their 2011 release, Empros, one can only expect powerful things with Russian Circles. Since the band announced their entry into the studio in May to start recording, there are only good things on the horizon. Since their release of Geneva, the band has pleased many critics with their musical changes and stylistic advances. And following Geneva, of course, the band's masterwork to date. Empros was such a fantastically written album that it received universal acclaim, so as always, I can't wait to see how the band plans to follow it up with currently untitled LP5.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Artist of the Day: Manic Street Preachers

I'm in a tiny minority of Manic Street Preachers fans in that I don't believe they've ever released a truly great album. Sure The Holy Bible is edgy as fuck, Gold Against the Soul is loaded with stadium sized tunes and Everything Must Go shifted shed-loads of units, but despite having populated my listening habits since my early teens, none of them has hit me hard enough to become one of my favourites - nope, not even The Holy Bible. With the Welsh trio almost universally accepted to have passed their peak, it sadly seems unlikely that predicament will ever change, yet I still can't help but feel a tinge of hope and excitement ahead of the group's latest comeback.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Interview with RM Hubbert (7/7/13)

It's been little over seven months since RM Hubbert's last discussion with Muzik Dizcovery, but that period has arguably been the most eventful of his career to date. Along with a domestic relocation, the Glaswegian guitarist has completed work on his third LP, while its predecessor, 2012's Thirteen Lost & Found recently picked up the much-coveted Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award - beating off established critical darlings and all-conquering mainstream titans in the process. With such a surge of activity, now seemed an ideal time to catch up with Hubby, dissecting his thoughts on his new accolade, as well as what he has in store for us when Breaks & Bone is unveiled on September 27...

Artist of the Day: Stray From The Path

Sumerian Reccords is known for their eclectic roster of technical deathcore and blunt-force metalcore, but Long Island hardcore band Stray From The Path deviate from the norm. Even though their music has a stiff metallic luster to it, the band comes from a rich hardcore background that shines through in every song. Stray From The Path is a band worth exploring for many reasons and are one of the strongest blending metalcore with hardcore influences.

The four-piece play an aggressive style of punk sprinkled with start-stop tempo changes, breakdowns and hoarse voice yelps. This may sound typical for a heavy act, but the sound that Stray From The Path explore is more Rage Against The Machine than Have Heart. Guitars bounce an chug with a unique elasticity while drum sounds pump and blast with reverberating ferocity. Stray From The Path often get lumped in with metalcore acts like label mates Asking Alexandria, which is completely unfair. Vocalist Drew York expels a yell-scream that splits the seams between rap-style vocals and spoken word but with the emotion and harshness of a screamo band.

Despite being signed, the band doesn't forget their roots. The band's live show is impressive as guitarists bang their head and jump around feverishly. The band's lyrics focus on personal struggle, the current state of the music scene and the crippling aspects of the music industry. Nonfans often chastise Stray From The Path as "nu-metalcore" that capitalizes on current hardcore trends while also having a certain falseness imbued between their distorted guitars and throated vocals, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The band has an honest and true message that is channeled through a technical style of riotous hardcore, something that shouldn't be overlooked.

The band is set to release their new album in the near future, but until then you can check out their past records. Rising Sun, the band's last release, is easily their best. Check out "Mad Girl," "Bring It Back To The Streets" and "Prey" for the band's best material, and then hop over to earlier release Make Your Own History to listen to fan favorites "Damien" and "Negative and Violent." If you're digging it, you can dig deeper into their catalog and check out their 2006 release, Villains.

You can stream the band's three albums on Spotify here. Be sure to keep an eye out for their new album, and be sure to catch them on the All Stars Tour this summer.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Watch This: 2NE1 - "Falling In Love"

Like many pop groups, 2NE1 tends to focus on love; unlike many pop groups, however, it espouses the gospel of love as empowerment. "I Am The Best" takes themes of self-confidence and sharpens them into a dance-floor stomper brimming with swag. Meanwhile, last year's hit single "I Love You" dwells on the pain of longing but in its last minute cauterizes its own wounds with a sudden blast of electronica--not coincidentally, it's only when rapper CL declares "I LOVE YOU EVERYDAY! DON'T GET AWAY! TAKE ME AWAY!" that the girls can finally soar, unburdened from self-doubt and questioning.

New single "Falling In Love" is yet another fresh take on 2NE1's unique brand of powerful but all-too-relatable pop. The group has tapped into its kinship to reggae and hip-hop in equal measures, which is why the tropical guitar melodies wield so much force when the trap beat's bolstering them. Likewise, the lyrics explore feelings of vulnerability, of being "lost in the streets of love" and powerless to desire, but they're delivered with such sparkle and wit that you forget who's falling for who (one particularly charming moment in the chorus illustrates being stunned speechless through onomatepoeia).

The video illustrates this well: alternating between three different locations, it shows off a host of different sides to the group. They're feminists who'd rather bump booties than measure them, ladies with the power and agency to go for what they like, and individuals whose identities supersede repressive dichotomies of flighty emotion versus calculated reason, girly girl versus tomboy, grotesque loner versus trophy wife. No wonder the subject of 2NE1's affections only exists in fleeting glimpses: "Falling In Love" is really about the empowerment inherent in allowing yourself to fall, and surrendering to the gravity of our emotions has rarely sounded and looked so sweet.

"Falling In Love" is available on iTunes right now. You ready?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Unbuttoned

Every time finals are around the corner, I have to schedule a trip down memory lane: I'll flip through all 700 photos on my phone, read essays from classes I don't remember taking, and do just about anything but face the textbook in front of me. On the bright side, it's a great time for excavating old goodies from the depths of my mp3 player--like the tender grooves of Toronto-based R&B project Unbuttoned. The band tackles the genre from a fresh perspective, encompassing hip-hop, chamber pop, jazz, and even a touch of electronica. And the R and the B don't just stand for rumbling in bed; these songs are decadent, but through intriguing structural and instrumental choices, they also display stunning emotional depth. "Play On Pain" feels oddly hollow for how layered it is, and that's intentional: the song doesn't progress so much as it plops, like drops of rain filling a cracked shot glass left on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, "Ruler Of The Sun" pits Casey MQ and Kamilah Apong's buoyant vocals against folksy foliage, leaving them to sift through the past--and yet the majesty of the strings driving the song's climax hints at a future grander than they can imagine. As I rediscovered the band's debut (and to date only) release Electric Kingdom a few nights ago, I noted all of these little details, how they made me smile and think at the same time.

And wouldn'tchuknowit, right on the day before my Literature final, Unbuttoned has put up this cryptic teaser for all of us to speculate about. Damn it. I'll be right back, folks, but in the meantime here's Unbuttoned's YouTube and Facebook pages.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Live Review: Belle & Sebastian, Ironworks, Inverness, 01/07/2013

Imperfect. That's how I'd describe this show at The Ironworks; Belle & Sebastian's big comeback following an extended hiatus, and the first time they've ever graced an Inverness stage to boot. In all fairness, this was only to be expected. We are, after all, talking about a band who had not played a gig for more than two years, not to mention one who in their early days harboured a reputation for shoddy and frankly amateurish live offerings. Thankfully, the days of awkward insecurity and taking 10 minutes to tune between songs are long gone; replaced by a more assured, professional outfit who treated their audience - many of whom had traveled to the Scottish highlands from far and wide - to a satisfying, career-spanning performance which touched brilliance in spite of its obvious flaws.

Artist Of The Day: O' Brother

You've probably come across Atlanta quintet O’Brother one way or other these last 3 years. Could it be that you caught them when they were touring their 2011 debut album Garden Window with bands such as Thrice, Moving Mountains and La Dispute? Or could it be from their month long tour with experimental rock band Junius? Well, if they haven’t caught your attention before, then they probably will now. A mere 2 years since their debut, sophomore release Disillusion looks set to be the medium which transports them from frequent support act to headlining heavyweights - something which ambitious lead vocalist Tanner Merritt has had firmly in mind since Garden Window.

As with most of the finest songs that have ever been penned, “Context” came together in one sparkling moment of clarity following what was effectively a standard jam session. From the crunchy, distorted opening riff, any concern that the bombastic O’ Brother of old has disappeared is dissipated, and if the ease with which “Context” was created filtered through to the rest of the album, Disillusion is certain to fulfil and possibly even exceed Tanner Merritt’s goal. Check out the new song right here, then come back and check out the full album review on August 20th.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Album Review: Phaeleh - Tides

Album Rating: B
Confession time: I was thoroughly prepared to write off Phaeleh's Tides as a case of "more of the same" after hearing the beginning few tracks for the first time. Tides's trademark brand of warm, enveloping dubstep stuck out as exactly what Phaeleh had done so masterfully on Fallen Light, and opener "Journey," with its Hollywood strings, garage-tinged cymbals and subtle ebb and flow, seemed no different than much of the producer's earlier material. Of course, pigeonholing the album into the category of "NO INVENTION HURR DURR" is unfair. After all, who really cares that "Here Comes the Sun" follows closely in the footsteps of "Afterglow?" Sure, both songs feature Soundmouse wailing about wordlessly and beautifully. Sure, there's a suspiciously similar clap/snare in both. And sure, in both cases the bass comes in after a particularly spare moment, perfectly timed. At the same time, though, "Afterglow" is my go-to song when I want to demonstrate to friends that dubstep isn't all womps and bangs. What's more, "Here Comes the Sun," rather than coming off as a shameless ripoff, sits as more of a revamped and reimagined version of an excellent example of Phaeleh's sound.

Jukebox: Speedy Ortiz - "No Below"

Speedy Ortiz debut record Major Arcana is a heady ride through splintered guitar lines and rhythms splayed out like an unplanned street grid. For a first outing, it’s bound to knock the wind out of you, shedding three cups of promise every 30 or so seconds. At about one-years old, they’re already writing songs like grown-ups and making the big kids look bad. 

Artist of the Day: The Dodos

The first rule of releasing an album is to expect it to leak, and the rule looks as solid as ever when Carrier (scheduled for an August, 27 release) began trickling into the collective consciousness as early as a month ago. I'm not going to go into too much detail about how it sounds, as it would be more than a little unfair on the band and record label, but what I will tell you is I've just pre-ordered the LP with ever-expensive international shipping because, fuck man, it's brilliant.

The Dodos came into existence in 2005 when Meric Long met Logan Kroeber after a brief stint of gigging as a one-man singer-songwriter. As a two man band, the duo found their success creating chirpy acoustic + percussion folk which always seemed a little rough around the edges and better for it. To bolster out their sound they employed a small flurry of musicians to help out while on tour, and this finally culminated in a more long-term addition with Chris Reimer. Carrier commemorates Chris, whose unexpected death a year after joining took the band back to the two-man team they started off with eight years ago. Carrier is therefore a much bleaker experience than we've come to expect from The Dodos, and the raw, electronic-less direction they're taking is clearly visible on the great (but not anywhere close to best on the album) single "Confidence," which you can stream below.

Or at least you would if Soundcloud was embedding properly. For now, here's the link.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Artist of the Day: Tonight Alive

I should probably dislike "Breakdown." On first listen, this was certainly true - I despised the new hyper-poppy edge Tonight Alive displayed, I didn't enjoy lead singer Jenna McDougall's lower voice, and I thought  the appearance of Good Charlotte's Benji Madden detracted greatly from the song. However, I found myself coming back to the song over and over again. Now, I realize it's mostly a logical progression from the excellent pop-punk record What Are You So Scared Of?. The band is embracing its infectious edge, and they're harnessing the power of the quasi-mindless distorted guitars in a slightly different (but not worse) way than their previous outing. As time went on, McDougall revealed herself to me as the bubbly, charismatic lead singer I once knew her as, and the rest of the band fit snugly behind her voice, skilled if not overly impressive. What's more, I actually began to enjoy the slight shift in the band's sound, as the move even closer to Paramore's looming and omnipresent sound sounded a hell of a lot better than I once thought on subsequent plays. Madden even fit well into the song, something I never would have thought possible. "Breakdown" sets the stage nicely for the band's upcoming album The Other Side, to be released September 6, and if the album is anywhere close to the song it's sure to be a winner.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Album Review: Letlive - The Blackest Beautiful

Album Rating: B
It was almost inevitable that Jason Aalon Butler would buy into his own hype eventually. Not many post-hardcore singers from recent years have garnered comparisons to vocal benchmark Daryl Palumbo, and of those even fewer have been deservedly so. After the release of Fake History however, Butler established himself as one of the talented minority. His frenetic live performances were backed up on record with hysterical harsh vocals and delectable cleans, and whilst the instrumentation too was stellar, it wasn't difficult to glean who the poster boy might be. The Blackest Beautiful sees Letlive play to Butler’s strengths to such a degree that it occasionally works to the band’s detriment, but whilst some of the rhythmic brilliance from albums past has been sacrificed for Butler’s whims and fancies, his zeal and talent are such that the decision is mostly justified.

Artist Of The Day: A Great Big Pile Of Leaves

We've been big supporters of A Great Big Pile Of Leaves for years, having interviewed them twice in the past three years, so it's unsurprising that I was very highly anticipating the group's sophomore LP and Topshelf debut record You're Always On My Mind. Three extra years as a band plus more advanced studio work has added the necessary to polish to their sound to push the band to the next level, cementing the release as one of the stronger ones to be put out so far in 2013. The fluttering guitar parts have been pushed further into the front, turning the record into a showcase for guitarists Peter Weiland and Matt Fazzi (formerly of Taking Back Sunday). The band's signature groove hasn't been abandoned either, and only helps insert both energy and a catchiness that will make You're Always On My Mind rule your summer evenings. Be sure to grab the album on Topshelf Records, and stream it on the label's Bandcamp page.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Artist of the Day: Jagwar Ma

Can the Australians really teach us to be happy again? Since Tame Impala dropped Innerspeaker in 2010, there’s been a new psychedelic renaissance occurring down under. While we in the west wallow in our drab, draggy melancholic reverb-rock, the Aussies have been living large, melding thick, bassy leads with analog synths and a dancehall state of mind. Jagwar Ma, the latest practitioners of the new sound, have put beats at the forefront, sacrificing little of their fellow countrymen’s bombast and arena-ready flavor in designing a new kind of house revival. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Artist of the Day: Ellery Roberts

After all the confusion which cast a shadow over 2013's latter stages, the inevitable has finally been confirmed; WU LYF are no more. Through a series of interviews and subsequent activities, a picture has gradually emerged of a chaotic and somewhat acrimonious split, with the other band members apparently only made aware of Ellery Roberts' departure when he uploaded that message and accompanying final song, "T R I U M P H," back in November. In retrospect, it's a wonder there was ever any doubt. The words "WU LYF is dead to me" in particular seemed not only to signal  the singer's departure from the Mancunian outfit, but also his exodus from music as a whole; their tone perhaps suggesting he'd fallen out of love with it and was preparing to fade back to treasured obscurity. It was a shock, then, to see him reemerge last week - albeit in typically mysterious fashion, with a new track, "Kerou's Lament," presented with the bare minimum of information. There were a handful of credits, but no hint as to whether this was a solo track or a collaboration, or indeed whether it was a one-off or the beginning of something far more significant.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Lovechild

Hot off the presses! Cerce is dead. Long live Lovechild. Following the band's lineup change that saw the departure of former vocalist Becca Cadalzo, the hardcore/powerviolence phoenix born from the ashes last week is Lovechild. Fast, angry and full of energy, Lovechild channels the same vibe as their previous band, but with a seemingly more aggressive edge.

Upon changing their name, Lovechild released the EP titled Demonstration. The three-song jaunt clocks in under three minutes through blast beats, buzzing distorted guitars and a furious array and yells and screams. If you're familiar with Cerce, the sound is pretty reminiscent of the band's last split with Stresscase. However, Lovechild forgoes the slow rhythm and groove in lieu of the abrasive harshness of machine-gun snares and stop-start guitar slashing. Whether these songs were previous Cerce demos retooled with new vocals or completely new ideas spawned off the cuff of Cerce's name change, one thing is clear: the songs are poignant and pissed.

There hasn't been much information regarding the events surrounding the name switch or the lineup change, but sometimes it's best to keep private matters private. Until the band releases new music, you can stream and download Demonstration from their Bandcamp. You can also buy it on cassette from Heads Up Records here. The band will be playing The Fest 12 in Gainsville this October, with a probable tour surrounding it in the near future. If you're wondering what's going on with any unreleased Cerce tunes, the band will posthumously (if that's what you would like to call it) release their full-length Adieux later in the year. But for now, Lovechild is just getting started.

Interview: David Sanchez of Havok (7/2/2013)

Unnatural Selection, Havok's third
album, was released on June 25
Havok is a metal band from Denver, Colorado that plays old-school thrash with a modern twist. Their newest album, Unnatural Selection, was released on June 25 through Candlelight Records. I interviewed founding guitarist and vocalist David Sanchez about the band's sound and new record.

Album Review: Owen - L'Ami du Peuple

Album Rating: A
Anytime a new Owen album surfaces, there somehow always manages to be a place for it on my list of top releases. L'Ami du Peuple is no different - Kinsella's fine ear for instrumentalism continually improves, and each of his releases are essentially stepping stones towards the newest point in his musical history. The emotional presence on each of his albums is slightly varied as the man himself grows to adopt new ideas and his own life story changes a little bit every couple of years, but it's no less present on this album as his self-titled debut. In fact, probably the most impressive thing about Mike Kinsella is his ability to reflect a different side of himself on each album, and L'Ami du Peuple is a powerful example of just that.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Artist of the Day: The Great Old Ones

The Great Old Ones released their
debut Al Azif last year.
Black metal and horror fiction would seem to be an obvious marriage of style and subject matter; on the other hand, concept bands have a propensity to be either exceptionally good or hilariously bad. The Great Old Ones’ choice of H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon as its template is a bold move, but so far it has it paid off, as the band's debut Al Azif has gained it notoriety in the extreme metal scene. Drawing from black metal stylistically and post-metal structurally, the French quintet manage to craft captivating music through a chilling atmosphere and unorthodox musicianship.