NoNoNo Know We Are Only What We Feel
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:19:00 +0000
Mixing elements of chillwave, electro, and pure pop Swedish synth trio NoNoNo are as icily cool as their homeland and are able to capture various moods at a moment's notice and weave it into something captivatingly catchy. Sounding a bit like Bat For Lashes, Deer Tracks, and even Kate Bush NoNoNo fully embrace the quirk pop aesthetic while glossing it over with accessibility. Their album, We Are Only What We Feel is a sparse, textural stroke of chilled brilliance that has a pop stardom coursing through its veins.
Using minimal arrangements, atmospheric washes, driving beats and heavenly vocals to it's advantage We Are Only What We Feel is hypnotizingly enthralling. Vocalist Stina Wappling casts a spell and commands you to listen as she sighs, coos, and whispers songs into your ears. It's all very seductive and sensual but unafraid of finding it's inner pop star. One listen to the monster of a hit, "Pumpin Blood," proves that. I mean, you can't crack the Top 40 without knowing or wanting to some degree of knowing what makes a hit and NoNoNo seemingly have that knowledge inherently built into them. And while they may have pop leanings but they are not a pop band, they're just to quirky for that. In any case, We Are Only What We Feel is a fantastic album that's ethereally beautiful, texturally deep, and fascinatingly fun.
NoNoNo have come up with a fantastic first album. We Are Only What We Feel 's sound palette is rich and cool, the songs are otherworldly and good and it's got a certified hit planted in the middle of it. Thoroughly enjoyable and decidedly different, NoNoNo are well on their way to making us all say, YesYesYes.
Take The Scenic Route To Alaska
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:02:00 +0000
Canada's dominance in the indie rock market the last decade cannot be questioned. From Arcade Fire to the Balconies and everyone between Nova Scotia and Vancouver the list of ridiculously good bands coming from the Great White North is staggering. Among the bands on that list are Scene Route to Alaska. This Edmonton, Alberta quartet's album Warrington is a beautiful art pop record that mixes folk rock and indie influences to achieve a charmingly rustic and slightly off-kilter soundworld.
Sounding a bit like Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah mixed with maple syrup, Scenic Route To Alaska encapsulate all that's good about North American indie rock in the 21st century. With long drawn out croaky vocals that sound like they're about to die, guitars that meander until they find a groove, artful and angular songs that bring in a bit of everything Warrington makes for a very entertaining effort. Lilting folk ballads, uptempo stompers and enough creative uses of the human voice to leave you in awe Warrington is a pastoral symphony that's just enough back woods blended with the big city. It's a fun and gorgeous listen that's rootsy and provincial and finds a balance between rural and urban.
Say what you will, but whatever they're putting up in the water(or syrup) in Canada it's working from a musical perspective. Scenic Route To Alaska is proof of that and Warrington is an easy pill to swallow. It's melodious and skewed sound is as fun as it is unusual and the bands ability to mix the rustic with modern sounds is impressive. Oh, Canada!
Barrows Unleash A Red Giant
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 04:38:00 +0000
Imagine what your favorite death metal album would sound like if it were nothing but an instrumental record. Imagine the brutal guitars, the thrashing drums, the chaos, and insane melodies. If you can piece all that together in your mind and it doesn't kill you than you have an idea of where Barrows are coming from.
Their latest album, Red Giant, is as vast and as powerful as the galactic entity this album refers to. It's tension, noise, and power resides in this three piece band's ability to forge face ripping riffs and launch them with deadly precision at your ears. Red Giant is heavy, like really heavy. It's a punishing record that sounds like every Slayer record played at the same time in a cacophony of metallic mayhem. Red Giant is the sort of record the US military could use as a psychological warfare tool to root out deeply seeded and barricaded enemy units. Several hours of Barrows wailing away at maximum volume would bring anyone to their knees. Red Giant is brutal in all the best ways and it doesn't even have a single lyric.
The quartet that make up Barrows are ridiculously good musicians and they cram approximately 6,979,723 riffs into each song bringing music to it's technical breaking point. As with all the best metal, there's so much going on in every song you need a scorecard to keep track of it all. Red Giant is technical, it's heavy, expansive and it's very very good. Metallic chaos never sounded so epic.
Numero Finds Capital City Soul
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 04:33:00 +0000
While Numero have extended their reach at finding deserving unheard of classics from genre's far and wide, what the label does best is find soul records that are just as good as anything Motown or Stax released but never got their due. They find them, polish the things up, dress them up and take them to the big dance. Their track record is simply stunning and the latest of their Eccentric Soul series comes to us from Capital City Soul.
The story of Capital City Soul is that it emerged out of the remnants of Capsoul and are separated from them by no more than one degree. It was that close of a relationship and the puzzle that began with Capsoul was put together by Capital City; it's history was found on air checks, buried in closets and other locations and thanks to the relationship that Numero developed with the folks associated with their Eccentric Soul: Capsoul album this latest edition came to fruition. As always this twenty song collection is a labor of love restored to perfection. The research, the love, the meticulous attention to detail is all here. They do such a good job at restoration that it will leave you thinking that there's so much classic soul music out there that no one has ever heard. Records like this, remind us of the influence that not only Motown & Stax had but soul music in general no matter where you looked. This music was inspirational and moving and no matter where you went, there were/are labels like Capsoul and stuff on Capital City Soul that created this musical magic.
Capital City Soul is just about perfect. From lovelorn ballads to floor burning movers this compilation has it all. There's so much material that's amazing, it's like a Northern Soul slice of heaven. Really, Numero is so consistent at finding this stuff and restoring it to fantastic shape it's a crate diggers dream come true. Featuring otherwise unreleased songs from the Kool Blues, the Four Mints, Jupiter’s Release, and Love Maximum, alongside rare sides by Dean Francis & the Soul Rockers, the Chandlers, Associated Press, the Soul Partners, and the Vondors it's an endless collection of cool. You've probably never heard of any of the groups and that doesn't matter because Eccentric Soul: Capital City Soul is essential stuff for anyone who loved(loves) the sound of the 60's.
Gold-Bears Dalliance Dazzles
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:20:00 +0000
Whether or not Gold-Bears second album was named Dalliance specifically after the Wedding Present's single of the same name is unknown. But having listened to this record repeatedly all day I can't help but wonder. In fact, Gold-Bears are so seemingly influenced by The Weddoes (and Boyracer) you can almost check off the songs that they're referencing throughout Dalliance. It's the ultimate homage to two fantastic bands and it's bloody amazing.
Gold-Bears waste no time at all on this disc and quite literally explode out of the gate with riffs blazing at a 1,000 miles an hour. Dalliance is noisy, jangly, chaotic, and fuzzed out to the point of being overly fuzzed out. It is speedy and shambolic and sounds like it's going to be torn apart at the seams but somehow, someway makes it across the finish line after 30 minutes. Despite the quickness and chaotic nature of this record, melodies are abundant and choruses immediately repeatable. More importantly, Dalliance is a massive amount of fun; it's energetic, embraces it's inner Gedge and jangles with fervor.
I love this record. It's simple approach, overwhelming enthusiasm and blindingly brilliant songs make it difficult to take it off. I know that the Weddoes are still out there and Dave Gedge is still writing great songs, but if the torch had to be passed today Gold-Bears would be a fine inheritor. Dalliance is an awesome effort, it's songs are sharp and catchy and this is easily one of my favorite albums of 2014. Perfection never sounded so crazy!
The Close Lobsters Return
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:16:00 +0000
Wow! Just wow. I can't believe I'm sat here listening to Close Lobsters. New Close Lobsters. This is like a gift, an unexpected treat and stunning return to form. Easily one of my favorite late 80's indie pop it's nice to have these guys back and with such an excellent single to boot. Unlike so many other 80's indie pop bands who have come back and just been moany and old, Close Lobsters sound like they've never stopped making tunes.
The Kunstwerk In Spacetime EP is two songs of British jangle pop that shimmers and sparkles in the sunshine. It's classic c86 stuff that doesn't sound a day over 25 despite taking that long to make. Someone apparently forgot to tell Close Lobsters that it's 2014, and that's ok because this stuff is awesome. The record might be a bit of a spiritual tribute to their transplanted American homeland but sounds as British as PG tips and Jaffa Cakes. It's awesome stuff that's light, spangly, ridiculously catchy and easily one of the best singles of 2014.
This was a pleasant surprise and welcome one at that. Close Lobsters still have it and although a generation of time has passed by it's like nothing at all has changed. Some reunions aren't worth the time, this one is worth it's weight in gold!
Tuneyards' Nikki Nak
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:17:00 +0000
If you were to summarize Tuneyards (sorry...I'm not typing it the "right" way) in one word, it would have to be experimentation. For no other band around today, so easily and randomly pastes sounds together so successfully. Nikki Nak, Tuneyards latest album is a sonic collage ratcheted together that comes off like the best definition of broken beat you've ever heard. It's a weird album that at times is hard to listen to, but when the glue is holding tight and the sounds blend well, Nikki Nak is a lot of fun.
Tuneyards kind of reminds me of 90's wonk pop masters Laika. A lot of what they do here reminds me of what Laika was doing in the mid-90's with off kilter rhythms, strange arrangements, and a general sense of tonality being chucked out the window. While Nikki Nak doesn't quite have that rhythmic quality that most of Laika's records did, it does share a carefree sense of experimentation. What I really like about Nikki Nak is just how bizarre and random it all sounds. It doesn't make sense at all and it really shouldn't work from a musical standpoint. It's the band's ability to create music in some sort of post-modern atonal way that makes this all so fascinating. Nikki Nak is a struggle between sanity and insanity while being torn apart at the musical seams.
Tuneyards are musical chemists throwing substances together to see what happens. Sometimes things explode in a musical frenzy of goodness and other times the experiments fizzle out. Nikki Nak is a good record because of it's reckless desire to try things out. It's worth a listen and it's enjoyable for what it is but it's not the feel good album of the summer nor is it the sort of thing you listen to back to back to back. I admire Tuneyards creativity but whether or not Tuneyards deserve the hype they've gotten because of their off kilter approach is debatable.
The Bombay Royale Travel To The Island Of Dr. Electrico
Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:09:00 +0000
The Bombay Royale are back with yet another imaginative soundtrack to a film that doesn't exist. This time our heroes are on The Island of Dr. Electrico and they're trying to find a way off.
Packed with all the drama, excitement, thrills, and romance that you'd expect from a Bollywood movie, The Island of Dr. Electrico plays and feels like a spy movie lost in an island off the coast of India. It's gorgeous textures, seductive melodies, and absorbing atmospherics make this "soundtrack" album feel like it's part of the best movie never made. The use of a random assortment of Indian instrumentation, percussion, horns and even strings give The Island of Dr. Electrico depth and texture while sounding authentically pulse pounding. Add in the occasional sound effects to this mix and you have a record that puts you in the middle of this motion picture that doesn't exist.
The Island of Dr. Electrico is a bit campy and at times a bit mushy, but it plays like an exciting hour of film that would be worth eating a bucket of popcorn over. From forest chases, knife fights, and romance it's all here and done with flair and fun. They may be resting on their laurels a bit here, but The Bombay Royale are creative enough to come up with mythological films that are fantastically fun and keep things interesting. All The Bombay Royale have left to do is meet someone like Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer and all their musical dreams could become reality! Someone needs to make this happen.
Ned Doheny Gets Lost In Seperate Oceans
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 16:06:00 +0000
The fine folks at Numero continue to dig deep and and in places one would never think to look for undiscovered gems, diamonds in the rough, and tunes that need to be heard. Their latest find, is Ned Doheny's unheard of yacht rock classic Separate Oceans. Hop on your boat, chill some champagne, grab your partner and kick back because the good life has just set sail.
As with all yacht rock albums the schmaltz factor is on overdrive on Separate Oceans. This slightly cheesy, total loungetastic record sounds like the best Christopher Cross, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Elton John, Eagles collaboration that never happened. If you were to take polyester, cologne, and enough sexual innuendo to last an eternity you'd be on the same cruise ship as Ned Doheny. This is music for The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Ned Doheny creates love making music with loads of acoustic guitars, lush keyboard arrangements, and a voice so velvety and convincing that no lady could possibly resist his musical advances. It's simply amazing that stuff like this was absolutely gargantuan when I was a kid because it's so incredibly overemotional and syrupy it's hard to take it seriously.
Schmaltz aside, as a historical artifact and a lost treasure Separate Oceans is a fun excursion that will have you reaching for an ascot and Top Siders. It's sneaky sexiness (see the first track), lush arrangements, gently rocking rhythms and smooth style win you over and wear you down. Maybe that's the point. In listening to this record, I can't help but wonder if I don't owe folks like Ned Doheny a little something because would an entire generation even be here if it weren't for records like his? So, thanks to Ned and the myriad of artists who sailed away in the 70's; where would our parents have been without them?
Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca Explore On La Rumba So Y
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 15:55:00 +0000
Holy multiculturalism Batman! Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca's latest album La Rumba So Yo was recorded on three continents and in four countries and took three years to complete. This labor of love sees Los Angeles based Lemvo diving deeper into his Angolan roots for inspiration while retaining the sounds already deeply rooted within him and his band. This exploration has led to an album that explores different languages, musical influences, and dance forms.
La Rumba So Yo sees Lemvo & Makina Loco teaming up with Angolan artists, using Congolese and Cuban musical influences, and Portuguese lyrics to bring their musical message home. It's a world map of musical sounds and it's simply fantastic; it's so globally exploratory it makes National Geographic seem small. Makina Loco's ability to blend and blur both African and Cuban influences is awesome, there are Latin rhythms everywhere and African styles permeating those rhythms; check, "E Moyo," for a fine example of this even though it's a cover of Congolese singer Tabu Ley Rochereau. With fantastic musicianship and harmonies that enthrall, La Rumba So Yo sounds like a street party you have to dance your way through. Bright horns, fantastic bass lines, amazing percussion, and melodies that linger for days La Rumba So Yo has it all.
Traveling around the globe and taking it all in is what Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca seem to be best at. They have an overwhelming desire to share this with us the listener and you can tell throughout La Rumba So Yo. It's enthusiastic energy, bright musicianship, and positivity is beyond admirable. While I have no idea what Ricardo Lemvo is singing about you get the feeling he and his band had a heck of time making this record no matter what the message or language. This is the sound of sunshine that takes salsa's moving rhythms and blends them with Angolan styles to produce inspirational results!
Filastine Doesn't Suffer From Aphasia
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 15:51:00 +0000
Filastine is an artist that has continually pushed musical borders and experimented with sounds as if he were a mad scientist. He fears no sound, no idea, no genre and as a result his records cross the very ideals of what electronic, world, and music in general are defined by. His latest EP, Aphasia is a fine example of this endless desire to move things forward and push music in directions it might not want to go. Thankfully, it turns out the directions he wants to take music are directions we want to hear and be taken.
This four song EP is a stunning document of production wizardry, imagination, and creativity. Taking everything from found sounds to pentatonic vocal melodies and fusing them into something that while worldly is electronically produced. Broken beats bounce off layers of harmonies, hip hop productions intermingle with Middle Eastern rhythms and the whole thing sounds like the United Nations put to sound. While upon first listen it might all sound a bit chaotic and disjointed, further listens reveal gorgeous textures, rich sound palettes and a flair for creating odd rhythms that challenge but reward listeners. It's a very unusual but very beautiful sounding record that uses musical fragmentation to unify each song.
Aphasia is a really cool record that experiments with electronics, odd sounds and glorious melodies. It's odd combinations and strange arrangements take a listen or two to get used to, but once you do you realize that Filastine is one of the most imaginative and fearless electronic producers working today. Aphasia's undaunted nature and hypnotizing atmospherics make this one impressive little record (or cassette as it may be).
Chromeo's White Women
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 15:45:00 +0000
Four albums in and Chromeo are still finding ways to make 80's funk and soul all their own. Their latest album White Women is yet another notch in the band's growing repertoire and proves that there's still fantastic stuff to be mined from the 80's and brought bang up to date. And while they haven't necessarily branched out too much since their debut, they've pretty much perfected their sound to sharp shiny day-glo point.
White Women is an overwhelmingly fun album and it opens with, quite potentially, the song of the summer, "Jealous (I Ain't With It)." The song is so ridiculously catchy and so funky that even the most rhythmically inept person would find it difficult not to move to. From there the funk just keeps coming, snowballing into a giant mass that never lets up or slows down. While there are a couple of cliche moments throughout the album the vast majority of it is solid gold. Chromeo are beyond excellent songwriters and if you just sit and listen to the production on this record you can hear it; there's so much going on and so many layers of sound that it's almost impossible to keep up. The end result? A record that's in constant motion and passes the momentum on to you right between the ears. It's fantastic stuff that still has Chrmeo's wry sense of humor but also sees them branching out with a multitude of collaborators and extremely lush production.
While it's obvious throughout White Women that Chromeo have matured and they've polished their songwriting skills to an amazing level of clarity, the band hasn't lost any of it's enthusiasm. It could have been easy for Chromeo, they could have just coasted and rested on their laurels of albums past, but instead, they've written another strong album that's just as impressive as the first three. White Women is funky, silly, sexy, and superb. From the hilarious, "Sexy Socialite," to pulsating synthetic throb of, “Old 45s,” White Women never loses steam and is easily one of the best albums of 2014.
Imandra Lake's Avane Shimmers & Stuns
Mon, 09 Jun 2014 03:52:00 +0000
In an age of digital media and the death of the post office, the arrival of a package from a foreign land is a reason to be excited. It reminds me of my days as a tape trader and getting cassettes from all over the world. I had tape trading friends in Germany, Sweden, Canada, Peru and, um, Illinois. There was nothing cooler than coming home to a stack of tapes from all over. Thanks to the folks at Estonian label Seksound I got that sense of excitement once again when their package arrived containing Imandra Lake’s album Avane.
The excitement continued when I put the record on and it swept me off my feet. Imandra Lake create dreamy post shoegazing soundscapes that are shimmery, ethereal, and hint of other worldliness. Perhaps a bit of Sigur Ros meets Slowdive in an Ambien fueled dream, Avane is gauzy and occasionally abstract while at other times warm and almost poppy. Imandra Lake create a stunning soundworld here that, while I have no idea what they are singing about, is incredibly easy to get lost in. Avane is gorgeous stuff. Its guitars cascade like gentle musical watefalls and it sounds as if Robin Guthrie’s spirit guided them through the making of this record. It truly is magnificent and expansive stuff whose songs seem to wash over you in a cleansing array of sound. It’s fragile beauty is hypnotizing and what Avane lacks in catchy pop hits, it more than makes up with sheer exquisiteness.
Somewhere in heaven Avane plays in waiting rooms. Its otherworldly feel is the sound of angels and Imandra Lake’s elegance, simplicity, and imagination are awe inspiring. There’s nothing you can say bad about this record, it’s simply stunning in the most winsome of ways. You might have to expend some energy to seek and obtain Imandra Lake’s Avane but trust me when I tell you, it’s worth it. Avane is so good, it’s almost worth going straight to Estonia to pick up a copy.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart Get Lost In Days Of Abandon
Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:59:00 +0000
Oh sweet delicious indie pop…how I love thee. Your simple jangly guitars, your seductive melodies, your simplistic beauty. It truly is grand. Perhaps no other band so gleefully captures the simple pleasures of the genre than The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. They so beautifully symbolize the ideal indie pop band and their latest album Days Of Abandon is the very idea of a perfect album.
Winsome, jangly, slightly twee and sugary sweet, Days Of Abandon is a joyous affair. With a bit of Smithsian humor and melancholy and a ton of Sarah Records-esque shimmery pop steering the way each of the ten songs here are simply gorgeous. A bit dream poppy at times and completely jangly at others, Days Of Abandon would so easily fit into the late 80’s, early 90’s era of British pop its almost hard to believe it wasn't released then. It’s so convincingly done that it could very well have been released by Cherry Red, Vinyl Japan or even Sarah and no one would ever know. The Pains are so authentically awesome that you’ll be reaching for your anorak, Doc Martins, and Oscar Wilde novels with enthusiasm. This is the sound of a summer spent running through fields of heather, getting lost in the country, and sunshiny days spent on trains. Days Of Abandon is worth getting lost in repeatedly.
Boy/girl harmonies, chiming guitars, shimmery songs, a joyous nature and saccharine sweet choruses all combine to make Days Of Abandon one of the best records of 2014. It’s uncomplicated pop, dreamy atmospheres, and ridiculously catchy songs are worth spending Days Of Abandon in. Beyond highly recommended.
Karikatura Make Music With Eyes Wide
Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:55:00 +0000
Karikatura is a New York band that gleefully reflects the cosmopolitan and diverse nature of the city that they call home. Mixing various Latin musical forms, reggae, klezmer, a bit of rock and roll, and whatever else tickles their fancy the band have come up with an impressive debut album, Eyes Wide. Creating politically conscious, positive striving, rhythmic music that’s as aware as it is moving is what Karikatura constantly strives to do. Far from being a caricature as their name my seemingly imply these guys are the real deal.
Eyes Wide is an impressive debut that’s bright, absolutely packed to the rafters with horns, and contains so many body shaking rhythms that it almost bounces off the turntable. I’m particularly impressed by how Karikatura fearlessly blend genre’s as if they mean nothing. Klezmer and reggae sit alongside of each other, Latin percussion mingles with jazzy rock and roll. The whole thing is a dizzying array of genre bending arrangements and ideas that sound absolutely fantastic. Be it a global consciousness or a love of New York City, Karikatura embrace it all with arms and eyes wide open and absorb it all in the hopes of making everything they do sound better.
Eyes Wide is the sound of a exploratory band bringing the world to New York and showing New York to the world. It’s a fun ride and it’s about the most un-world, world music album I’ve heard in a while. If you’ve ever wondered how to make world music cool…look no further because Karikatura are blazing the trail and leading the way.
Bio Ritmo's Puerta Del Sur
Tue, 03 Jun 2014 12:15:00 +0000
Richmond, Virginia is the last place in the world you'd expect to find a world class superstar salsa band, but for the folks in Bio Ritmo, they've always gone about things differently. Originally, started by two misplaced Puerto Ricans and a punk rock drummer 20 years ago, Bio Ritmo has slowly evolved into one of the most impressive salsa bands on the planet. Bio Ritmo's sound, dubbed post-salsa, pushes the envelope of the genre by expanding the sound palette that's normally accustom with the genre. They've helped pioneer a new generation of musicians who thrive on the spirit of experimentation that once defined the sound of salsa.
While this nine member band is heavily influenced by classic salsa, their latest album Puerta Del Sur is anything but traditional. Fusing their punk rock past with constant desire to experiment Bio Ritmo continually strives to push things forward. From horns to timbale's to strings to drums and guitars it's all here in droves. The result of this musical diversity is a cross pollination of sounds, eras, and genres that will have you cha cha-ing across the floor in a multi-cultural dance of epic proportions. With songs that are in constant motion, one guesses that's the general idea here and it’s easy to say having spent some time with this record that Puerta Del Sur is a stunningly impressive album. I, unfortunately, don't know how to salsa despite living in Miami for 20+ years, but after listening to Puerta Del Sur I feel inspired to learn
The sound of the Caribbean via Richmond, VA is what Bio Ritmo is all about. No other band from the state of Virginia or maybe even the country can bring the sunshine, the Latin flavor and enough Latin percussion then these guys. This is a diverse, cultural melting pot sort of record that makes me homesick for Miami and exploring Calle Ocho. One thing is for sure next time I head down south, Bio Ritmo will be soundtracking my journey. Diversity and rhythm has never sounded so good.
Parallax Sounds Is A Journey Through Chicago
Tue, 03 Jun 2014 12:11:00 +0000
Parallax Sounds Chicago is a film that explores the city's vibrant and multifaceted underground scene that exploded in the 1990's. Featuring interviews with folks like David Grubbs, Steve Albini, John Herndon the movie is a fascinating glimpse into Second City. The soundtrack to the documentary Parallax Sounds is just as fascinating and features many of the same interviewees as members of the Parallax Ensemble.
So what happens when you get this much talent in one room to record a record? One amazing soundtrack that's musically on another level. Parallax Sounds is an amazing and succinct musical journey that alternates between indie rock and post-bop jazz soundscapes. Having not seen the movie I have no idea how these pieces are used in the film, but from a musical perspective the songs are solid works of cool. With awesome arrangements, fantastic horn bursts, and chiming vibes this is a soundtrack in constant motion and is excellent as a stand alone recording. The Parallax Sounds truly knock it out of the ballpark (Wrigley Field perhaps?) here and I guess that should be expected when you know the talent behind it.
With each piece composed around a certain segment (noted on the credits)of the documentary it allows your mind to piece together what the movie is or could be about. For example, “Tomorrow Is the Past,” is an amazing jazzy workout that seems to have the same angularity that Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings do and thus it fits his segment. Parallax Sounds is a musical tour guide to 90's Chicago and beyond and if you've ever been there then you can almost see the city and it's scene reflected in each of these pieces.
Enjoyable in it's own right or as a brilliant supplement to a documentary, Parallax Sounds is an excellent effort that's experimental, imaginative, and fantastically played.
It's Made In Iceland VII
Thu, 29 May 2014 12:11:00 +0000
Iceland is obviously known musically for Bjork (and The Sugarcubes), Sigur Ros and to a lesser degree Gus Gus but did you know there's far more than just those three artists on that tiny island? It's true. Really. In fact, there is a thriving music scene out there in the North Atlantic and the Made In Iceland series is out to serve as the Rough Guide to this incredible scene. Now up to it's seventh installment, the series has brought many artists out of the ice and into the spotlight to thaw out.
About half way through this listening to compilation and one thing is becomes obvious Iceland is way more than just the land of quirky ice princesses. Made In Iceland features eighteen artists playing everything from artpop, chilled house, electro, folk and even alt-country. Who knew that such a small island could be home to such a diverse scene? Well kiddo, it's true and although several of the artists have unpronounceable names their songs are anything but unapproachable. In fact, a vast majority of Made In Iceland VII is excellent stuff; all killer and no filler and the fact that there are multiple volumes of this series speaks to how large and successful the scene up there really is.
While Made In Iceland highlights the diversity and depth of talent in Iceland from one corner to the next it is glaringly obvious throughout this compilation that they are truly the masters of icy cool electronica. They just get it, they know how to write it, shape it, craft it and they create songs that are chilled to beaty perfection. Perhaps it's a reflection of their environment or their isolation but these guys are the masters of cool and I don't mean that in a bad way. Starwalker, Berndsen, and Asonat all make impressive appearances here and they left me wanting to hear more...or at least book a flight to Reykjavik and see all this in person.
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires Dereconstruct Rock
Thu, 29 May 2014 12:06:00 +0000
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires album Dereconstructed is probably the most aptly named album I've heard in a long time. From just glancing at the cover to throwing this thing on to give it a spin there isn't a song on this album that hasn't dereconstructed rock and roll down to it's barest bones, beat it with a stick, roughed it up a bit more and then attempted to piece it all back together. This record is a sonic mess that's loud, brash, sloppy, and like a subdivision of garage rock called subgarage rock.
All that being said Dereconstructed is absolutely amazing. Sounding like Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, The Sonics, a bunch of broken amplifiers, lots of fuzz, and a sketchy analogue recording device about to die this is the sound of post-grunge chaos. This thing is noisy, brazen, energetic and being torn apart at the seams but that's what makes it so good. If this thing was polished and produced it would be horrible, but sounding like it was recorded in a freeway rest stop bathroom it has this scuzzy feel to it that gives the record a sense of eminent destruction. Every song is like this; chaotic and duct taped together but at the same time they're ridiculously memorable and have huge hooks in which to capture you with. This is rock and roll the way it was meant to be played and lived.
Sometimes you CAN judge a book by it's cover and Dereconstructed is one such instance. Just look at it up there...it's a junkyard on the cover. It's like a Rock and Roll Sanford & Son and that's exactly like Dereconstructed. It's a disastrous mess that somehow makes sense to someone. I love rock and roll and Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires reminded me why.
Daena Jay's Subdivision
Tue, 27 May 2014 12:10:00 +0000
South African Daena Jay has traveled the planet and lived in some of the most interesting places on the planet. Durban, London, Perth, LA; been there done that wrote a song about it. Daena Jay has taken those experiences as well a stories of love and loss and put them into her Subdivision EP. This five song affair hovers the grey areas between being singer/songwritery, Florence and the Machine, and chill wave.
Electronic, dramatic, and intimate Subdvision is a beautiful little record that's as haunting as it is stirring and as lush as it is complicated. With piano, rattling percussion. lush synths and her soaring and striking voice Subdivision is an emotional and melodramatic experience. The way Daena uses her voice and lets it seep between the percussion gives her songs this minimalist feel despite the whole thing being rather overwhelming emotionally. In listening to this thing one can't help but wonder if Daena is ok...the songs aren't chipper and I wonder if all this moving around is the result of all this love and loss that permeates every lyric on Subdivision. While it makes the record texturally and emotionally intriguing, I just hope she's ok.
Potentially depressing but in the most beautiful way possible Subdivision is an impressive effort from one heck of an artist. Not the feel good hit of the summer, but one awesome EP Daena Jay will have you wanting to hug someone...anyone.
Da Cruz Inhabit Disco E Progresso
Tue, 27 May 2014 12:06:00 +0000
As you or may not know Brazil is pretty much becoming the center of the universe over the next four years. With the World Cup starting this month and the 2016 Olympics in Rio this South American country is taking center stage. It should really be no surprise then that there's an explosion of Brazilian music arriving on our shores and it's a welcome arrival from a country that seemingly alternates between revolution and celebration. Da Cruz, a band rooted firmly in Brazilian tradition and music, but oddly enough living in Switzerland have just released their latest album Disco E Progresso and it's a reflective, expansive sprawling two record set of lightness and darkness or revolutions and parties.
Despite being about five thousand miles away from Brazil, Da Cruz and it's frontwoman Mariana Da Cruz hasn't lost touch with her homeland and it's promise, it's struggles, or it's fun. You realize this about thirty seconds into Disco E Progresso that while they might be in a different hemisphere, musically Da Cruz are in the heart of a Rio de Janiero carnivale. Energetic, funky, and sexy Disco E Progresso is a massive effort that's influenced by disco, funk, dancehall, Kuduro, house, samba and indie rock. Da Cruz is a genre onto itself; be it urban Brazilian disco, tropihouse, or something altogether different it's a modern interpretation of the current state of the Portuguese speaking nation and it's as diverse and cosmopolitan as the country itself. Disco E Progresso is constantly in a state of motion, generating excitement and energy throughout the two records that make it up. Dark side or Light side either record is a blindingly brilliant well-traveled effort that grooves, shakes, rocks, rolls, and then chills out. It's a beautiful effort that cross pollinates genre's like a honey bee on overdrive. I love how they leave no sound or influence unturned and as a result come up with a reflection of not only themselves but of their subject matter and the country in which they live. Disco E Progresso is a gorgeous record with a bit of an edge and a bit of sexiness battling it out over the course of it's two records. Who wins is really up to personal taste but I find myself drawn to the sunnier side.
Endlessly entertaining, incredibly crafted, and intensely diverse Disco E Progresso is indeed a progressive effort. Da Cruz pushes things forward here and be it songs brimming with positivity or concern Disco E Progresso is always in a state of movement. It's an album with a frenetic pace that doesn't want to slow down and I love that about it. This is a record moving at the pace of Brazil's future, rapid and bursting with potential. As the World Cup nears and Brazil prepares to win it's fifth title (I know Spain & Germany might have a say in the matter but how can Brazil not win...) this is the perfect warm up album, come down album and just an amazing thing to listen to period. Highly recommended.
Eccodek Are Singing In Tongues
Mon, 26 May 2014 16:04:00 +0000
The Afro-Indian via Canada group Eccodek have just released their sixth album Singing In Tongues and it's a doozy. Featuring Malaian vocalist, Jah Youssouf this rather eclectic group takes firmly rooted Afro-pop music and injects it with a sense of globalism that crosses borders and genre's with ease. The album is a fantastic combination of chilled out grooves, deep basslines, global diversity and top notch song writing.
Singing In Tongues thrives on it's pan-global approach to creating textural sound collages that enlighten, expand, and groove. Eccodek's ability to fuse a diverse ranges of influences and sounds into something so cohesive and so memorable is truly awesome. Just listen to, "In My Tribe," for a perfect example of this; the song is a chillout masterpiece that almost sonically aligns your chakra's as it's beatastic exploration spreads out across five minutes. Chill out room or peak time dance floor, one gets the feeling that Eccodek could fill either at the drop of a hat. While not every song is as beat driven as, "In My Tribe," Eccodek still find ways to keep music from foreign lands in different languages intriguing. Clearly these Canuck's know a thing or two about writing a good song and after six albums this should really be of no surprise.
Quite honestly, if you were to look up the definition of a perfect "world" music album I'm pretty sure that Singing In Tongues would be next to it. It's a chill out album with a global heart beat and it's so expansive and adventuresome you should probably have your passport handy while listening to it. Eccodek are awesome at what they do and their longevity is proof of that. Singing In Tongues is a welcome addition to their lexicon of albums and could very well be my favorite.
Okapi Sun Aren't Techno Prisoners
Mon, 26 May 2014 16:00:00 +0000
The Zoologically named Okapi Sun, have released a three song EP on the lead up to their new album Techno Prisoners. This three song affair is lush, sexy, and a nice mix between chillwave, synth pop, electro, and ethereal dream pop. Quite honestly the whole thing reminds me of the Other Two (look them up kids) so much so I had to double check that neither one of the Other Two were in this band. They're not.
The three songs that make up this disappointingly short EP, all feature massive hooks, seductively cool choruses and even a bit of humor thrown in. "Judy Baby," is a fine example of this, as the first thirty seconds of the song are so campy they're priceless. It's a nice reflection of a band who can write a seductive song one sec and then crack a joke the next. They may be hip and cool but they don't take themselves that seriously and I like that. Okapi Sun have stumbled on to something here and if this EP is any clue of how Techno Prisoners turned out, we're in for something special.
Christos DC Takes The Long Road
Mon, 26 May 2014 15:53:00 +0000
Christopher Vrenios or Christos DC to his friends and fellow musicians has been surrounded by music since he was a kid. From his parents to hip hop and a deep appreciation of all things Sly & Robbie, Christos has always loved music but it was an appreciation of the tunes coming out of Kingston that pointed Christos toward his own musical direction and career. This journey and love of reggae music has taken him on the road with folks like Black Uhuru and The Itals and allowed him to develop his own personal style and sound. His second album, Long Road is almost truth in advertising about the the musical journey that Christos has been on since he was pointed in the right direction.
With a downtempo chilled reggae vibe Christos composes songs that are easy going, laid back, and unweighty. It's nice breezy stuff that's catchy and uncomplicated. With fourteen tracks the album is stuffed with enough reggae jams to make you feel as though you were in Kingston. Christos does a good job of coming off as authentically as possible without actually being from Jamaica. This is reggae on a modern tip and while it does tend to all sound alike by the fourteenth song, Long Road is still a very listenable album.
Christos' nice mix of modern vibes, traditional sounds, and dubbed out elements give the album depth and texture and give it a very non-American feel. Long Road is far more than frat boy reggae; this is as pure and true as anything you're like to hear come from the Caribbean. Nice work!
Chad Vangaalen Is Addicted To Shrink Dust
Mon, 26 May 2014 15:45:00 +0000
Last updated at: 7/25/2014 7:22:51 PM ET
To say that Chad Vangaalen has an active imagination would be a bit of an understatement. This guy has so many creative outlets and so much work under his belt it's almost impossible to keep track of. He's in approximately 78038434 bands including two with his children. He does art, he animates, he recklessly experiments with musical instruments, and he's been described as Bob and Doug McKenzie in space. One listen to his album Shrink Dust and you'll see what we're talking about.
Imagine the Flaming Lips but weirder and fronted by a guy with Walt Disney's imagination on acid and you kind of have an idea of where Chad lives. He's the very definition of necessity leads to the mother of invention; case in point he wanted to score a science fiction movie so he decided to make one so that he could. That spirit of invention and imagination permeates every note on Shrink Dust. It's weird, atmospheric, adventuresome, experimental, and at times doesn't sound like it's from this earth. CVG (as his friends call him) throws twenty sheets to the wind and writes haunting songs that cast spells of unusual sounds, strange ambiance, and weird ideas. Shrink Dust doesn't sound the best or try to (apparently CVG has never been inside a real studio) and that's half the charm of it. In listening to Shrink Dust you can almost picture CVG playing all the instruments and tuning everything in a harrying pace in his living room while trying to keep his kids occupied. It's all very busy, strange and intriguing and while there's not a hit on this album you can't help but latch on to every note this guy churns out. Shrink Dust is a heartwarming and endearing effort because it has this peculiar innocence about it that sucks you in with curiosity. It's all very uncomplicated, free flowing, and childlike and as such is the perfect reflection of CVG. This is the soundtrack to having Peter Pan Syndrome and it's awesome.
Shrink Dust is an open window into the imagination and ruminations of CVG's life. It's a odd place to visit but you'll want to come back again and again and see what's new because every time you visit there will be something that you haven't seen before. It's the kind of record that people that are endlessly fascinated by everything will enjoy. It's music for people with brains that never stop working and I think that's why I've enjoyed it so much; it put my imagination in overdrive and left me in a bit of awe. Shrink Dust doesn't rock so much as it aimlessly wanders with a never ending sense of wonder and that's why it succeeds.