Sunday, March 30, 2014

Album Review: Liars - Mess

Album Rating: A-
If anyone can tell what Liars are going to do next, you must be psychic or an extraordinary guesser. Throughout the experimental band's 14 years of existence, they have put out seven albums, with each one taking an extreme left turn from the last. A new Liars LP is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you might get. And while the classic rock themes of Forrest Gump are not found on any Liars album yet, the possibility is as equal as any other genre. Starting as a dance-punk band in 2000, Liars have released a new record consistently every two years. Transversing through witchcraft inspired rhythms (They Were Wrong, So We Drowned),  jarring garage rock (Liars), and organically produced electronics (WIXIW), Liars has evolved as a group at a steady rate that gives each new album a new and exciting feel, yet can still be called a "Liars album." On their seventh LP, Mess, Liars is expanding on the electronic feel of WIXIW, but have turned the intensity knob past its breaking point.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Album Review: Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams

Album Rating: B
Visuality is strikingly important in music; it seems as if the ability to implant an idea or a feeling through sound alone is greatly under-appreciated. Not only is it a testament to the expansive intricacies of the human brain but also a factor that distinguishes the most creative and proficiently arranged music from the lifeless and yawn inspiring. On their fifth release, Canadian dream-weavers and experimental folk duo of Taylor Kirk and Simon Trottier traverse environments and atmospheres unexplored before, painting situations both menacing and sincere using all the colours in the cerebral palette.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Album Review: Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead

Album Score: B-
Considering it was originally a side project, Gamma Ray has showed some remarkable staying power at the core of Europe’s power metal scene. It’s been almost twenty years since Gamma Ray released two of the genre’s defining albums in Land of the Free and Somewhere Out in Space, but the quartet is still alive and well in its fourth decade. The fact that fans were disappointed with 1999’s Powerplant – an album with no less than four classic songs, including the band’s opener and encore ever since – says a lot about how much respect the band has in the metal sphere. Lately, however, singer/guitarist Kai Hansen seems content to rest on his laurels, as the band’s last two albums have played things about as safely as possible. It’s been a full four years since To the Metal! raised concerns over whether Gamma Ray had anything left in the tank, between the album’s inconsistency and borderline plagiarism, so Empire of the Undead has some questions to answer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Album Review: Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight

Album Rating: B
If you would have told me in 2001 that one of the masterminds behind the ceaselessly gritty Hot Water Music would release something like Till Midnight, a record so soaked in soul, roots and antique shop dust, sometime during the second prime of his career, I would have laughed right in your face and gone on to gloat in my self-assured victory to the tune of "Remedy."  But here we are, over a decade later, and Chuck Ragan is again proving himself to be one of the most successful bilingual artists around, equally fluent in both Americana and punk rock, and still as gruff as ever. Till Midnight  is a powerfully intimate affair, like being welcomed into Ragan's home with open arms to sit on the living room floor and watch him play. You can almost feel the hardwoods shake beneath you as the aged boots stomp in rhythm, all to the long lost pulse of rock n' roll.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Album Review: The Year Fifteen - As A World Entire

Album Review: A
Stemming from the mind of Billy Duprey, keyboardist for The Republic of Wolves, an alternative indie band based out of Long Island, The Year Fifteen is his wonderful solo project that showcases the talents of an exceptional musician. His debut, As A World Entire, is nothing short of riveting. It's concise, the production is wonderful, and it will put you in a state of trance as each song gently passes through you, like the ebb and flow of an emotionally heavy ocean tide. There is a certain aesthetic that lingers long into the melodies like an undeniable yearning that can make the wintriest of hearts succumb to a warm Sunday in summer. This record challenges conventional pop music by serving it up with spoonfuls of raw, passionate sentiments not utilized by most underground contemporary artists.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MuzikDizcovery Exclusive: The Year Fifteen - "Out Of Sync"

The Republic of Wolves may have just released their latest record No Matter How Narrow late last year, but keyboardist Billy Duprey wasn't content to just sit around. The debut record of his solo project The Year Fifteen has actually been in the works for nearly three years now, as second As A World Entire track "Objectivity" was originally released in November, 2011. As A World Entire now has a release date of March 23rd, and the whole record is a perfect extension of No Matter How Narrow' s move into a lighter mood, pushing it even more towards a poppy sound. Today, we're very excited to be premiering the song right at the middle of the record, "Out Of Sync." The song's verses wouldn't be too out of place on a Manchester Orchestra song if they decided to go poppier, softer and add more keys, while the chorus is repetitive, but extremely catchy. The bridge is the perfect climax to the song, as the rest of the members of The Republic of Wolves join to alternate vocals, becoming a beautiful use of guest vocals. The release of As A World Entire is fast approaching, so be sure to follow The Year Fifteen on Facebook for more news regarding the record.

Album Review - The War On Drugs - Lost In A Dream

Album Rating: A-
Americana is a phenomena I’ve always wanted to be a part of; a boiling pot of genre and style it screams liberty, justice and freedom, which I can say as a born and bred Englishmen, the overcast London lifestyle pales in comparison. And that’s what Lost In A Dream cumulates to, it’s music rooted in States culture projecting a sensory experience which will be homely to some and a inciting venture for many this side of the pond. As this Philadelphia four piece’s third album without the contribution of War on Drugs alum and dimensional wanderer Kurt Vile, I can’t help but feel this has sharpened their sound as well as their peripheries, like opening a window and letting the stale haze of the previous night drift out — Lost In A Dream is a record rich in fresh outlooks, taking one’s head out of the sand and basking in the warm glow of resolve.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Album Review: Owls - Two

Album Rating: B+
Sitting down with a new Tim Kinsella related album is like ordering a new item at Taco Bell; you have a general idea of what it's going to be like, and you are already a fan, but the mixture of the ingredients may not always yield perfect results. On the first new Owls record in 13 years, Tim Kinsella leads his ex-Cap'n Jazz band throughout 10 twisting tracks, in a winding journey towards who-knows-where. Two may not be the exact sequel to Owls that fans might have expected, but it is a welcome addition to the ever-growing Kinsella catalogue.

Live Review: Interpol, Riverside, Newcastle (16/03/2014)

For some unbeknown reason the NME's annual Awards Tour has chosen to omit Newcastle from its 2014 trail, but that didn't prevent this year's headliners from paying North East fans a visit. Members of Sunday night's long sold-out crowd may, in fact, argue they got the better deal, with this special Riverside warm-up providing a sense of occasion that'll no doubt be absent from the New Yorker's trawl of the nation's O2 Academies. Their first show of any kind since November 2011, this coup had the dual significance of kicking off Think Tank's stint at the venue, following previous residencies in both Hoults Yard and Times Square. It made sense then that there was also local favourites on show in the shape of Warm Digits, who cranked up the atmosphere nicely with a typically propulsive half-hour display of krautrock goodness.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Album Review: Withered Hand - New Gods

Album Rating: B+
Given that the creation of music takes both time and application, it figures that the LPs bearing the longest lapses are often those which prove the most divergent. This clearly is of little issue to most receptive listeners, but there are occasional discs, such as Dan Willson's second as Withered Hand, which are so removed as to require adjustment. Surfacing back in 2009, Good News, the Edinburgh native's full-length bow was a true underground gem, attaining cult status through its combination of lo-fi gravitas and emotional rawness covering rejection, sexual frustration and even spirituality. Five years on, however, and the lustrous strum ushering in 'Horseshoe' affirms its follow-up to be a markedly different proposition.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Live Review: CHVRCHES, O2 Academy, Newcastle (07/03/2014)

Housing as it does some of the finest pop songs in recent memory, CHVRCHES' LP The Bones of What You Believe was one I had no problem falling for, even if I held it to be a somewhat hit-and-miss affair. That, however, is a stance I've had to revise after witnessing their belated Newcastle debut; an all too brief hour of soaring hooks and bulging electronics which served not only to confirm the album's strength but also to vindicate every last ounce of hyperbole to which the Glaswegians have been subjected. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Interview With County Drop

Garnering a name in the New Brunswick, NJ underground circuit is not an easy mission to accomplish. There are a number of superb bands all fighting for a chance to get their music heard by the tons of kids dedicated to the scene. I was lucky enough to have a word with County Drop, an up and coming band that takes a unique approach to the whole emo/punk blend. With the recent release of their third record, The Origin of Skeletons, we talk about life in the New Brunswick scene, the awesomeness of couscous, and the band's plan for the future. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Album Review: Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Album Rating: A-
Much of the run-up to Wild Beasts' fourth LP has centered around lead track 'Wanderlust,' and in particular Hayden Thorpe's provocative query "in your mother tongue / what's the verb to suck?" A thinly veiled swipe at musicians who decline to sing in their own accents, it's especially apt coming from a man whose flamboyant delivery epitomises his group's teeter between the sublime and the ridiculous - although it must be said that balance is tipping further towards the former with every album Kendel's finest release. Indeed, whereas literate defiance and unbridled eccentricity were once the order of the day, the quartet's craft now settles into a groove of slow burn and deep subtlety; an approach very nearly perfected on 2011's sensational Smother, and now pushed to even greater extremes on this colourful follow-up.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Live Review: Into It. Over It., The World Is A Beautiful Place, Local 506 (2/15/14)

Photo by: Jordan Ambrose
After being released early from work on Wednesday thanks to the approaching winter storm, and then finding myself completely snowed in until the weekend, a bouncy emo show was just what I needed Saturday night, even if half of the roads were still blanketed with ice.  When I first arrived at the Local 506, ten minutes after the doors had opened, I was expecting about half of the floor to be completely empty for my taking, blissfully unaware of this tour's relevance.  Really, I had no idea these bands were as popular as they are (though, as I would later learn, much of the crowd wasn't there for the headliner at all), and found myself confined to the short corridor next to the bar for the majority of the opening set.  Who would have thought that having feelings these days would be so popular?