Monday, 28 January 2008

REVIEW: This Will Destroy You - s/t


Ebb and flow. Such a phrase could realistically be applied to almost any music but after listening to the debut full length from San Marcos, TX crew This Will Destroy You,there are surely only a tiny percentage of bands left that really explore the same dynamic?

Having only really got to grips with their more overtly bold post-rock (does that tag put you off yet?) stylings on the Young Mountain EP (2005) slightly before last year expired, it came as a very pleasant surprise to find that this would be one of my first aural pleasures for the New Year.....and what a pleasure this is. The best way to describe their sound would probably be tidal. All but one of the songs are significantly over the five minute mark, allowing plenty of time for the songs to open, unwind, and build to glorious crescendos, then elegantly recede back into the delicate calm from whence they came. Whilst this may sound no more dynamic than your standard genre fare, these songs have a natural elegance and delicacy surrounding them that somehow sets them apart from the majority of their peers. Nowhere is this more evident than on gorgeous album centre-piece The Mighty Rio Grande which fits its name without me needing to throw
around inadequate adjectives. The closest link would almost certainly be their kindred state spirits Explosions in the Sky, yet they're still very distinct sounds in their own special ways.

It's difficult to pick a highlight from the album, as the whole thing should really be appreciated in a way that may be a dying method of listening, although the unique electronic undercurrent of They Move on Tracks of Never-Ending Light can certainly lay claim to being the most ear pricking moment on show. Everything here has an uplifting, gentle sway to it that builds where it needs to, yet has no need to veer off into the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics simply for the sake of the post-rock blueprint. As such, this album may not have as many crusading highs as an Explosions.. or Grails record but it definitely trumps those groups (which is some feat) in terms of
glistening, pure and natural songs.

In the same way that Aereogramme booted off last year with a fine, expansive and moving album, This Will Destroy You have achieved the same at the start of 2008. This will keep growing and be ever present in my playlists through the year, I'm sure, and provides a wonderful antidote to that lingering New Year lull. This certainly won't destroy you, in fact it's much more likely to create new hope.......what more reason to buy??

9/10

Listen: http://www.myspace.com/thiswilldestroyyou
Listen: They Move On Tracks of Never-Ending Light

Buy buy buy: Magic Bullets Webshop

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Now playing: This Will Destroy You - Burial On The Presidio Banks
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 24 January 2008

What? When did that come out....?


Right-o, bit chocka this week but this is the gap in proceedings, so I wanted to take some minutes to flag up a few releases that I criminally overlooked last year. I realise that almost everything up here so far has harked back to old man 07, but it was even finer than I thought and deserves further love.......although I've promised myself I'll get to those new This Will Destroy You and Black Mountain disc reviews over the weekend!

What did I miss, then?


The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

Well this was daft of me. I could have picked up their debut 'Reconstruction Site' in Denver (Independent Records on Colfax Ave......great place for those post-gig CD buying sprees....actually the only place unless you count 24hr Walmarts, which I do not) all the way back in 2004 but chose Pelican's Australasia instead for my 10 bucks. Of course, there's no way I could ever regret buying anything from Chicago's finest, but it might have been a smart move to stretch to an extra disc that night in particular.

This is a fine blend of alternative rock and an almost country acoustic approach in places. The songs are subtle and unassuming at first but little are you aware that they're already weaving their magic within your grey matter. 'Civil Twilight' or 'Sun In An Empty Room' are fine places to start but it's more than worthwhile investing in the full thang to really explore the nuances of the tales being unveiled. As always, better late than never and this is a perfect record for either picking yourself up on these foul winter morns or even saving for the summer that will hopefully present itself this year. Have a go...........



Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond

I've always been aware, of course, but J. Mascis' alternative trailblazers didn't really figure much in my exploration of musical nourishment away from metal in the mid-late 90's. I'm sure I even lay semi-conscious at Reading one year and heard a Mascis project's set somewhere in the distance, but cheap Fosters and blazing sun can do odd things to the memory. Whatever it was, the guitar work and fuzzed out alt-rock are certainly not missing the mark this time around.

'Beyond' is obviously then my first exposure in any meaningful sense to Dinosaur Jr.......and it's fantastic. The album races headlong into Almost Ready with nary a care for built up introduction and proceeds to solo and lick its reverb-laden guitars through the finest set of truly alt-rock I've heard for some years. It's true to its own period without being dated and, from what fans have largely reported, a very natural return to what the band meant back in the 1990's. I'm now trawling back through the catalogue to explore 'Bug' and the other projects, with this most recent offering only fuelling the search at home after tedious days in the office. A real gem to inject some energy into the New Year......perhaps this was supposed to be a late find.............? ;-)


British Sea Power - Krankenhaus? EP

This actually links nicely into this year, as it really served as a taster for the fresh outta the traps new album 'Do You Like Rock Music?' which is also rather lush. Perhaps less reserved and fragile than 'Open Season', I wasn't entirely feeling the newer songs that spread across blogs late last year. It's all making much more sense now, though, and the EP has really kept it ticking over for me until the full length came out this week.


I'll link up some tunes for the latter on the full review. The album has definitely grown on me after a slow start and, who knows, may even match the lilting, blue sky heights of 'Open Season' if I'm lucky.

Until next time, hope anyone who happens around here enjoys the couple of tunes and can dig into the albums more deeply if they're no familiar.



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Now playing: Turin Brakes - Full Of Stars
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 18 January 2008

Ste's 2007 Review - Top 10

Following on from the mammoth 50 to 11, this was my top 10 of last year. More detail for these albums, as they touched me especially deeply......like somewhere in my small intestine maybe......and prompted more verbose blathering.

One thing I felt last year, more than the previous couple at least, was that I listened to albums in full a lot more. If I liked a couple of songs by an artist or band, I found it difficult not to go after all the material from that specific release, case in point being Cadence Weapon, Battles, and The National. This struck me because we're supposed to be in the shuffling playlist age now, over which the individual track reigns supreme. I've certainly downloaded more, but mainly thanks to emusic (25 free downloads - recommended!) and blogs, and if I like it I'm almost certainly going to pick up the full release. The music industry's changing right in front of our eyes, but I personally hope the artists that matter retain a desire to create full bodies of work with depth and songs that fit together. Those that can't manage that can just release their single for the masses and split off the real music lovers from the 15 min famers......job's a good 'un.

Anyway, that's the thought for the day outtathaway and perhaps I'll take it on as a proper full post one at some point. For now, though, let's mosey on back to the matter at hand:


"10 Asobi Seksu - Citrus

- Only band I listen to that sound like this, with a confusing but brilliant mix of cheery, poppy melodies in the vocals and other areas but dark, swirling underbelly to the wall of noise guitars. Powerful, especially live. Cheers John!


'Goodbye' video

9 Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe

- Narrowly sneaks in ahead of Aesop by virtue of the bizarre electronic undertones to the beats and the more gritty nature of the lyrics. '30 Seconds' yells at me personally and the other highlights keep cropping up, like 'Sharks' and 'Black Hand'. Between the two artists I've been dragged happily into the engaging world of left field hip hop gradually through the year.....exactly what I signed up to Emusic for!


8 Baroness - Red Album

- Another new find thanks to rocksound and a sensational mix of Mastodon and more instrumental artists like Isis. Expansive in places but well rooted in stnadard rock with groove laden riffs and the odd catchy lyric. The 5 years it took them to get around to releasing a debut was obviously well spent.

7 Grails - Burning Off Impurities

- Yet another new find....rocksound again....who blew me away with this multi-faceted instrumental post rock. 'Silk Rd' is an absolute gem that builds into a gorgeous climax and I could deconstruct each song on the album happily. Tedious as that would be for everyone but me, though, I'll just recommend you have a listen.

6 The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

- This sounds like basic indie rock with pop sensibilities at first but rapidly grows into a lush, varied album chock full of memorable tunes. Backed up live, this is one band I've finally had a proper listen to and gone out to buy the back catalogue. 'Wincing...' is still sounding the best for me, though. No filler.

5 The National - Boxer

- This album struck me straight away, as it throws you right into a dimly lit, smoky club somewhere in the US, relaxing but unsettling somewhat in the same song. There's always a hint of reserved melancholy to the vocals in a Leonard Cohen style, whilst the guitars and drumming all fit the mood perfectly. Probably the album with the most consistent feel in the top 10 here, it keeps drawing me back in to better understand it.


'Mistaken For Strangers' video -
This song is unbelievably rich, with the silkiest vocals delivering the most melancholy of lyrics......perfect for a cold, dark night in.

4 The Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works

- Only a few listens as November release but this will certainly stick with me well into next year. Schizophrenic metal with little or no respect for genres and styles, I have no real words to describe it. Where Miss Machine hinted at their potential for crafting melodic maths, this fuses all the influences together and becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Brutal, melodic, poppy, harsh, usually all within a song, this is a jaw dropping listen.


'Milk Lizard' stream - Dig those trumpets!

3 The Hold Steady - Boys & Girls in America

- A January 07 UK release, happily, as I discovered them too late in 2006 to wax lyrical about them then. At first I thought they were just a fun sounding band with a couple of decent songs, but slowly realised ALL the tunes on here have a story to tell. Everything in the songs is a little life tale that takes the telling of Adam Duritz but funnels it through the good-time attitude of AC/DC and other bands that loved to have fun and entertain their crowd. Saw them live a few times and will keep going back due to the unbridled energy they put out and the guarantee that you'll leave with a big, cheesy grin on yer mush. Superb.

2 Clutch - From Beale Street To Oblivion

- Clutch just keep on making excellent Clutch records, with varying degrees of their groove/biker rock/blues influences poured into the album depending on their mood. Their longevity and cult appeal is down to two simple factors: 1) a reliable, skilled live performance and 2) the consistency with which they rock on almost every song. This one's more laden with groove and blues than 'Robot Hive', as the New Orleans inspired title hints, and probably all the more accessible for it. Can't really pick a main song to love because they all carry their own special little quirks, but when Fallon bellows "I get satisfaction, everywhere I go", it quite nicely summarises my listening experiences with Clutch over the last 10 years.


'Electric Worry' video - Dig that harmonica work!

1 Aereogramme - My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go

- This pips out Clutch and THS by a hairs breadth due to the amount and depth of emotion poured into the songs by a band that sadly split just a few months later. There's no filler on the album, just lush, layered songs arranged with aching attention to detail and instrumentation. Strings sweep in where they can add emotion, but are stripped away to the barest guitars when appropriate, adding up to the most affecting album of 2007 for me. Many of the songs seem to have a prophetic theme of the limiting and ultimately soul-destroying factors that the band faced in gaining any kind of recognition, after creating their perfect post-rock for just shy of a decade, including the frank admission:

"I thought that I could show you
All that I've found
But these barriers dictate all sight and all sound"


Full album stream here (buy!): http://www.aereogramme.co.uk/

Despite the sadness of them calling it a day without being able to see them, it's at least a classic and defining album to sign off with and the one that I'd put at top of my pile after a great year.

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Now playing: The Rascals - Out of Dreams
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Ste's 2007 Review - 50 to 11

This is ripped wholesale from my LastFM journal but, in true music geek form, took me ages to compile so may as well spread it around. Being 50 albums it was a bit of a whopper, so I've split it down into two chunks here:

2007.....another superb year for music, to my ears. Very eclectic too, which is what has distinguished it from 06 in my listening habits.


So many good releases that I can get a top 50 out, where as I think it was a top 30 last year.....maybe cheapo emusic downloads have helped!

50. Taint - Secrets & Lovers
49. Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell
48. Enter Shikari - Take To The Skies
47. Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse
46. Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High
45. Frank Turner - Sleep is for the Weak
44. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
43. Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
42. Dark Tranquillity - Fiction
41. 1997 - ...A Better View Of The Rising Moon
40. Martiden - Martriden
39. As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us
38. Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
37. Chuck Ragan - Feast or Famine
36. Turisas - The Varangian Way
35. Nile - Ithyphallic
34. Hacride - Amoeba
33. The Wildhearts - The Wildhearts
32. Biffy Clyro - Puzzle
31. Oceansize - Frames
30. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
29. Darkest Hour - Deliver Us
28. The Ghost of a Thousand - This is where the Fight Begins
27. Silversun Pickups - Carnavas
26. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
25. Neurosis - Given to the Rising
24. Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me
23. Down - III: Under The Over
22. Pelican - City Of Echoes
21. Comeback Kid - Broadcasting

-----------------------------------------

20 Battles - Mirrored
- Futuristic robot rock played impeccably.

19 LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
- Late find that keeps growing. Very complete album with standout moment in 'All My Friends'.

18 Against Me! - New Wave
- Short, sharp songs with that trademark AM! energy.

17 Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice
- Intricate indie rock that reveals more on each listen.

16 Between the Buried and Me - Colors
- Insanely expansive metal via about 20 other genres. Mind bogglingly ambitious and will probably grow above this position with more listens.

15 Murder by Death - In Bocca al Lupo
- Dark, eerie almost country rock with Johnny Cash's spirit weaving throughout. In a field of one. Came out in 2006 but took til 07 to find a UK release.

14 Unsane - Visqueen
- Grinding, ugly album that starts as it means to go on with 'Against the Grain'. Utterly engrossing and the soundtrack to one's worst days.

13 MxPx - Secret Weapon
- Another blast of sharp poppy punk rock from a band that have been around ages but only just caught my ear. Uplifting and energetic songs throughout.

12 Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass
- Intelligent, dynamic wordplay with memorable underlying beats. One of tracks of year in shape of 'None Shall Pass'....thanks Insound!

11 Coheed and Cambria - No World For Tomorrow
- Another chapter in the ever expanding Co/Ca story. They still make albums as a whole that suck you in, managing to keep the standout songs as well. Not a bad album yet, for me.

.......to be continued.

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Now playing: Grails - Silk Rd
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 14 January 2008

New Beginnings

At the start of what could be a year of many changes for me, I'm going to see what (if anything) I have to add to this blog community that has sprung up around the world and taken over everything musical. There appear to be big gaps in what people choose to write about musically, so perhaps I'll either plug some gaps or find out that it's simply because no-one gives a shit about those bands!


Anyhow, I'm sure there's a space for all the 'About Me' guff, so I'll leave that out of this one. The blog is musically motivated and will almost certainly be 99% about the bands that keep me engaged and inspired, so I'll kick off with a few albums that are firing up my year and a link to my LastFM for good measure.:


This Will Destroy You - s/t (28/01/08)


British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music? (Out about 16 hours ago :)


Black Mountain
- In the Future (21/01/08)

- All UK releases......Yankees can probably just add a day then whip down to Best Buy.

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Now playing: Finch - New Beginnings
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

About Heavier ~ Than ~ Air


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR



I'm an Englishman in New York.

I write about music. Then subjects that spin off from music. Then back from those subjects to music again....because in the end it all comes down to the music, right?

This was started in Liverpool, UK, a hotbed for great music in its own way. It was also influenced by Manchester, of which the same description certainly applies.

It is now written from Brooklyn, NY, and makes every effort to offer something a bit different from the central blogosphere. That said, posts sometimes inevitably slip back to the indie vox populi due to the environment in which they are conceived. Remember: Hipsters, like McDonalds, are everywhere.

E-mail: blackmountainsky@gmail.com


If you have waaaaay too much time on your hands and want to chew on some of the inspiration for these ramblings, check this.

SUBMISSIONS


If you want some attention on this humble corner of the webs, feel free to get in contact with a Myspace page or mp3 file. It can take a while to wade through everything, so please be patient. Thankyakindly.


POSTING POLICY

MP3's made available here are only active for a brief period of time, with the sole intent of promoting music I love and wish to share with others for the benefit of the artist.

If you like the music, please support it. Buy the tunes online, on disc, on gorgeous gatefold LP, whatever you prefer. Go to their gig as it rolls through your wee town, buy a shirt, shout them a pizza or beer if they're hungry/thirsty etc. SUPPORT THE MUSIC WE ALL LOVE!

If you are the owner of a track and would like it removed, simply let me know and it will be down immediately.