Monday, 30 March 2009

Plays of the Week




A speedy (and late) one this week, as I caught AC Newman at the Bell House in Brooklyn last night and want to get those thoughts out before my increasingly sieve-like mind evacuates the memories.







Another mixed bag, with some brand new wonderful NYC talent alongside some old standard bearers of my musical trails. It's a surprise - a very happy one, at that - to be catching up with classics when there's so much great new music to be affording attention. Credit all that extra listening time on the subway.....well worth it, even if those infernal fare hikes get through. Pah, to the tracks:


A.C. Newman - There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve - Buy

> This will be covered in the next post about the live show. It opened up the set as supremely as it opens up the album 'Get Guilty'.

The BadSpells - Explode

> These guys are relatively new to the NYC circuit and reputedly play a blazing live show. The sound is upbeat, power pop/rock with an identity all of its own. Playing Parkside Lounge next week (4/9), New York peeps.........and recently interviewed here.

Mastodon - Oblivion - Buy

> Pre-empting a full review, this album is a mind blower. Psychedelic, furious, expansive, restrained, epic.....all these adjectives and more will be spewing forth in future posts. For the moment, this track kicks off proceedings and provides a hearty one-two with the previously posted Divinations. Did I mention epic?

NIN|JA 2009 - Sampler (free download after sign up)

> Some new slices from Jane's Addiction / NIN / Streetsweeper (Boots Riley/Tom Morello), ahead of their tour later this year. Never a huge NIN fan but the Jane's tracks are mint.

Soundgarden - Pretty Noose (Video)

> This one is obviously related to my Cornell post over the weekend. Even if 'Scream' turns out to be a mess, there are more than enough gems in Chris' back catalogue to serve as a retreat.

William Elliot Whitmore - Hell or High Water - Buy

> This guy has a fantastic line in whiskey-soaked tales from desert country. Blessed with a distinctive, world weary delivery that still manages to offer a distant hope, this song and 'Old Devils' are assuring a purchase of this in the next couple of weeks.



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Now playing: WINO - Release Me
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Cornell Recovery Plan

Pretext: Chris Cornell is far and away one of my favourite vocalists in any genre. From the adored Soundgarden, through Temple of the Dog, his solo efforts on 'Euphoria Morning', and even the mixed output of Audioslave, his voice is immediately distinguished and evocative. It soundtracks most of my later teens and recalls many great memories in doing so.

Now, recently Mr Cornell's efforts have become awkward, to put it diplomatically. I've still to hear the last solo album in full as the few songs I heard were underwhelming at best. Then there's the tainted tedium of Audioslave's sophomore slump 'Out of Exile' - only partially redeemed by its decent follow up 'Revelations' - which I more or less have to block from my musical recollection. With these reservations abounding, my approach to the new solo outing 'Scream' has been akin to an infant coming to the dinner table as Mum dishes up.....what's on offer comes from someone whom we should trust implicitly, yet we know they've served us brocolli on more than one occassion prior.


'Scream' is produced by Timbaland and the one song I've tried thus far, Enemy, sounds as eclectic as that collaboration might require. It's still Cornell but there's a thumping beat underneath his mighty tones and synths riding roughshod all over the reverb-laden chorus. It has a certain je ne sais quoi appeal but one feels an entire album with that approach would be over-egging the pudding. Hopefully I'm entirely mistaken in that worry, though the initial reaction of others seems to be that the album is something of a mess for this reason. That may, of course, be the blinkered genre Nazis jerking their knees to the beats.......or it could be the mourning of true fans, at losing the subtle splendor to be found in Cornell's voice when the music is stripped down and complementing that evocative vocal, rather than subsuming it.

So I can't pass judgment yet and need a back up plan in case it all goes horribly wrong when I do. Said plan involves pulling out some mighty past performances and posting them here, forming either a celebratory build up to another strong release or, alternatively, a yearning retrospective for the days when the power of the man's voice was allowed to shine through. Either way, we can still sleep safe in the knowledge that no more Audioslave atrocities are in the pipeline.


Purchase: SOUNDGARDEN / TEMPLE OF THE DOG / CHRIS CORNELL / AUDIOSLAVE


Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike (Video)
(from Temple of the Dog - a grunge supergroup but far better than that awful tag)

Soundgarden
- Jesus Christ Pose
(from Badmotorfinger - showcasing the harder rocking 'garden of the early 90's)

Soundgarden - Superunknown
(from Superunknown - my favourite album and an all time classic in its own right)

Soundgarden - Burden In My Hand (video)
(from Down on the Upside - oft overlooked but a great album and the one that introduced me)

Chris Cornell - Preaching the End of the World
(from Euphoria Morning - still the shining light of his solo work)

Audioslave - Show Me How to Live
(from Audioslave - he's often drowned out by Tom Morello on other tracks but this better showcases his soaring high notes above those staccato riffs)



Chris Cornell - Redemption Song (video)
(Bob Marley cover, live unplugged)



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Now playing: Chris Cornell - Preaching The End Of The World
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 26 March 2009

REVIEW: The Appleseed Cast - Sagarmatha

The Appleseed Cast have popped on and off my radar frequently over the past 10 years, starting off with a chance download of 'Fishing the Sky' on the nascent Audiogalaxy p2p service (anyone remember that? Preferred it to Napster as it would queue songs overnight, which in dial-up days was more requirement than convenience). From there, individual songs have found their way onto my CDR's and playlists, followed by overdue purchases of highlight releases Mare Vitalis and Low Level Owl volumes. See, majors? Freebies lead to sales.

Whilst I haven't exactly ever gone overboard with the band, the aforementioned Mare Vitalis has always been reassuringly there in the background, like a friend you only see every now and then but the relationship is always easy when you again catch up. So I was happy, rather than ecstatic, when the news of Sagarmatha's early 2009 release came to my awareness.


The album is notably vocally sparse, with the only fully lyric-laden song being The Summer Before, a floating, spacious tune in which the singing is almost carried away on the breeze of the melody. The lyrics allude to lazy, baking days in the left coast states, welcomely complementing the utterly compelling track that precedes it, The Road West. This is a lilting, delicate instrumental ride that initially wouldn't be out of place on a Sigur Ros record. Slowly building with synths and cautious melody, it breaks into a more recognisable AC effort with a harder rocking peak in the middle, evoking mountainous skyline imagery that befits the album title (the world's highest national park, atop Mount Everest in Nepal). It's an early highlight that gives a lush nod to the path the remainder of the album will take.

What The Appleseed Cast appear to have done here is simply follow their collective instincts towards building a beautiful journey album. Usually bands will decide one direction or the other - completely naked instrumental concept or falling back into the need for vocals on every track to avoid confusion. Far from being misleading, the infrequent lyrical appearances actually direct the listen particularly well, adding necessary atmosphere and location when the audience may be floating off into the distance with the expansive instrumental melodies. The whole effort is so open and delicately crafted that the words, particularly on Raise the Sails, provide an effective anchor.

Taken as an individual release, Sagarmatha isn't a million miles away from the plethora of post-rock releases in recent years. It recalls the better moments of Explosions in the Sky and nods towards the sparse, delicate synths sometimes employed by This Will Destroy You [see Like a Locust (Shake Hands With The Dead)]. It could be argued that it simply adds to the crowd in this way, yet there's a clear distinction for The Appleseed Cast when compared to their previous works. The progression from the harder rocking early days, through the lighter years and more recent left-field conceptual approach of Peregrine, to my mind, only adds to the experience. It widens the journey aspect of this album out across their entire career and can surely only engender more respect for the stylistic storms the band has weathered and the resulting beauty of which they continue to be capable.

Without being a mind-blowing listening experience, Sagarmatha is an utterly absorbing and evocative album that represents another peak for the band. Wherever their journey is taking them, the band is clearly willing to let it unfold naturally and make whatever stops seem appropriate along the way. It may not always make immediate sense but if the result is more releases of this quality, then it's unlikely many will complain about the delays.



The Appleseed Cast Myspace

Buy (Insound)

Buy (epic, limited time offer on TAC albums from Deep Elm. Pick most of them up for $24.99 only!)

MP3: The Appleseed Cast - The Summer Before

MP3: The Appleseed Cast - Fishing the Sky



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Now playing: The Appleseed Cast - Woodland Hunter (Part 1)
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Unsigned Uncovered: The Engravers

Many bands upon which I've recently stumbled have been firmly entrenched in the contemporary hip camp, ranging from minimalist indie-folk to upbeat pop/synth electronica. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it does begin to meld into one slightly too familiar sound after the twentieth band aping MGMT. Alternatively, it does make finding something a bit different a notable pleasure. As was the case for my beleaguered ears yesterday with The Engravers.

Although far from perfect - the vocals could complement the music a little more effectively and Red perhaps strays into generic alt-rock more than is comfortable - the influences of Porcupine Tree, Coheed & Cambria, and Tool all shine through in a well weaved tapestry of sound, especially on Collapse and Shattered.


Tight, intricate guitar riffs wind over a solid and varied rhythm section, always keeping us guessing and rarely sounding too derivative of the aforementioned artists. It's not a ground-breaking sound but the progressive element, more often than not, takes The Engravers music away from the dull plod of dated radio alt-rock and into the more forward-thinking territory of bands on the periphery of the contemporary rock scene. All this coming from what appears to be a relatively young band (little info on the Myspace....letting the tunes and art speak for themselves?) makes it rather exciting to wonder where they might take the sound next. A quick mention of the art on their page too, which gives further nods to Steven Wilson's mob and adds to the allure of the music.

Very little to add to this, given the lack of upcoming concerts (something my mails will hopefully change) or their own website. So enjoy the tunes up there for the moment and I won't hesitate to post further updates if/when something interesting arises.




Engravers MySpace







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Now playing: The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The Week That Was

A somewhat schizophrenic musical week, covering anything from alt-indie through late 90's British hardcore to contemporary electronica, prompted me to summarise the week in tracks. I'll try to do this most Sundays where possible, as it gives an opportunity to post some lesser-known stuff without getting bogged down in the back story (my main delay on posting....spiralling descent detail distraction).



So here are some of the tunes that have rocked my week. If anyone does want more info, I can always whack it into a comment reply.........


Sonic Youth - Teen Age Riot
> Prompted by speculation that new release 'The Eternal' may be ace. Back to the old days in the meantime, though.

Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
> A follow on from catching up again with Sonic Youth. This song accurately soundtracked the more zoned out moments in a sickly week.
White Zombie - Super Charger Heaven
> See Past Blast.

Cynical Smile - When Friends Become Enemies
> A random, pleasant reminder of a late '90's Brit hardcore/metal mob. They only released one album to my knowledge - albeit an excellently raw and abrasive one - then disappeared. 10 years later, here's some more retrospective love.

Cut Copy - Saturdays
> Following on from catching up with In Ghost Colours, back to their earlier release for a sec.

The Fumes - Automobile
> No such luck to be at SXSW '09.....maybe next year......but a buddy was down there and reported back that these dirty Aussie rockers are worth checking out. He's right.

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
> Finally caught up with these cult heroes, in reverse after liking AC Newman and Neko Case's recent efforts. What an album! This one typifies the joyful, alt-pop that stays fresh throughout.

Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve
> A great song that's constantly reminding me to pick up the full album. She's got a voice full of character and individuality, making her stand out from the crowd.

The Smiths - Panic (video)
> A quick spin of How Soon Is Now?, as always, turns into a run through of the other classics.



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Now playing: Future Of The Left - Manchasm
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Now Isn't Soon Enough


Wasn't intending to post tonight but music has that lush serendipity that sometimes can't be ignored. The now playing song as a background to reading the top story, then considering those following, was perfectly timed:


Iran

Palestine/Israel

N. Ireland


I'm not that impatient. These situations are complex beyond measure, of course. But I want great outcomes. Now.

Thankfully, it looks as though someone important finally does too.


MP3: Quicksand (Smiths cover) - How Soon Is Now?

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When you say it's gonna happen "now"
Well, when exactly do you mean ?
See I've already waited too long
And all my hope is gone

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Now playing: The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Past Blast

...songs of love, destruction and other synthetic delusions of the Electric Head...

Lots of posts about current musical output and the various trials of the industry recently (well, at least one full one and a bit of getting off track in most of the others......writing style of a sieve/colander, is how I see it). So I want to take things back - way back - to a simpler time.

This is a time when MTV played music videos (thank heavens they changed.....I know I for one can't get enough of seeing some people I'd want to run over in 'Real' life piss and moan about whose existence is the dullest). A time when one could get excited about a Foo Fighters album, rather than listening to the previous release as an alternative to the pre-release. A time when nu-metal could be bandied about as an underground recommendation and not something akin to a biohazard warning. A time when one could see Biohazard, come to think of it.


......yeah, I'll shut up now, it's 1995..............


This is more or less the year I jumped into the metal and never looked back. Prior to this I'd dallied with borrowed Metallica mix tapes, badly scratched copies of Dookie and comedy 7"s ('Do the Bartman', anyone? How about 'The Stonk'?!?), but could in no way class myself a music fan......see those last two links again for incontrovertible evidence.

The well known metal bands of the time still get plenty of love - in the right circles - today and rightly so. Former members of Pantera, Fear Factory, and Sepultura have gone onto new projects that are still big names in contemporary metal, whilst the Seps are still going too, along with Metallica, Megadeth, Machine Head, and countless others. Rob Zombie has forged himself a solid, if generally uninspiring, solo career and now focuses more on film as his primary endeavour. Rob's band for much of the 90's, however, is what I want to focus on.

White Zombie was a pretty big deal in the mid 1990's. They were at the top on Donington bills, could get play on the aforementioned Music Television at a time when it wasn't standard for metal - or even hard rock - acts (at least in Europe it wasn't), and were an influence on contemporaries. It does feel like the band has been largely forgotten, though, in the mass of Rob's solo releases and general success. Not that I would begrudge him any such success.....far from it......but this is the band that released Astro Creep: 2000 dammit, which must not be consigned to the dusty metal footnotes!

A superb album from start to finish, it covers almost everything that I loved about the genre at the time and continues to remind me of why I love it today. It has the full blown, aggressive energy of anthems Super Charger Heaven and the Electric Heads. The slow chugging burn of Creature of the Wheel, not long before the pyschedelic stomp of I, Zombie and the inimitable More Human Than Human. There's no shortage of metal's darker elements but all the while there's a tongue in cheek, horror circus element to the entire outing. That the band achieve this without making the listen cheesy or just a novelty act is all the more impressive, as the solo releases have tended to edge much too far into those lesser realms for my enjoyment.


More Human Than Human video


Where previous album La Sexorcisto had some standout tracks, not the least of which - Thunderkiss '65 - does still get some play nowadays, it doesn't even come close to the overwhelming whole listen of Astro Creep. As a previous post touched upon, the album may or may not be fading out as a guideline for artistic boundaries, but listening to something like this makes a compelling case for the format. Fulfilling but concise enough (and with that crucial quality throughout) to keep the listener coming back for more and more. Not to mention representative of an entire genre at the time.

What this all boils down to is one of the classic metal releases of not just the last decade but any decade. And one that is rarely mentioned, it seems. The groove and accessibility give it an extra dimension that I always found lacking in thrash or the blacker of the metals at the time, whilst the breakneck pace, gritty riffs, and thunderous drumming (John Tempesta, accurately named) all keep us firmly rooted in the world of metal to ensure not too much of that alternative word creeps in.

If you couldn't already tell, younger metal/heavy rock fans, I'm highly recommending this one to you.


The Psychoholic World of White Zombie


MP3: White Zombie - Super Charger Heaven


Buy


Buy





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Now playing: Vision Of Disorder - Colorblind
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 16 March 2009

Lost in 2008's




What's the difference between this year and last? Well, one could make any number of extreme economic (confusion/recession), political (villain/hero), or even personal (Liverpool/NYC) comparisons, but the music carries things through here and that's where this comes from.........








This time last year I'd already posted a couple of times about releases I'd missed from 2007. January provided a couple of interesting listens but, overall, the new offerings up to March had been somewhat lacklustre. As a result, I frequently turned back to the successes of the bygone year that had gone by me. The list was extensive. I expected the same this year - at least in terms of missed gems, rather than a slow start to the New Year - but it has taken me a lot longer to reflect on them. Chiefly I put this down to the unrelenting pace of excellent records coming out in early 2009. Already, Dalek, Animal Collective, Neko Case, A.C. Newman, Lamb of God, Sepultura, Bon Iver, and The Appleseed Cast have released noteworthy discs........and I haven't even had time to check out all of them in the detail they deserve!

So, understandably, the previous year has taken a back seat. No longer, though, as a couple of the better offerings have demanded my attention and blown the just-settled dust from the book of 2008. Here we go:


Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

I quite enjoyed 2004's Bright Like Neon Love, so it's strange that I didn't get into this album much sooner. It was even featured on eMusic, to which I had a monthly subscription, so I have no cause to plead ignorance. Annnnnnnnd it's considerably better than the aforementioned record in most every way. Simple but unbelievably catchy rhythms and eminently danceable tunes, highlighted perfectly by tracks like 'So Haunted' and the remixed-to-oblivion 'Lights & Music', are par for the course. Everything is slickly produced and forms a complete soundtrack for a night on the tiles.......or simply a swift pick up when life gets a bit slow.

MP3: Cut Copy - Lights & Music (Radio Edit)
Buy


The Bronx - III

My omission and catch up on this one was covered extensively here. Suffice it to say this is still a solid Bronx record and I was much rather have heard it last year for my list purposes, but distribution was, generously described, lacking. Could easily have been missed by others and that would be a shame.

MP3: The Bronx - Knifeman
Buy


Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up Til It Was Light

Now then, this one did creep under the radar. In the same way that a genuine scouser in a crowd of Norwegians at Anfield slips by, it was lost in the sea of imitators. A ton of music popped up for this band over the last couple of years.....demos, cover mounts, remastered tracks etc......so although the single perked up my ears, I assumed it was just another individual track release to continue the intesrest. Nope. It was this rough and ready slice of jagged, melodic rock. Dual gender vox collide in a 1997 (the band) kind of way, synths and childish keys underpin rough guitars before breaking into inexplicably accessible choruses. It should be a mess in the way that you would expect a young, raw rock band from Birmingham to sound, but it all gels into a wonderful cacophony.

MP3: Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Peppa & Spinderella
Buy Buy (UK folks.....cheaper)


Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Like Cut Copy, there's certainly no case to make for this not having appeared on my radar. It was on some 2007 lists and was widely lauded last year by anyone that missed the first sailing. Thus I arrive, laden with luggage and 5 minutes late, clinging to the trailing life jacket that is the Blood Bank ep. Another that was covered in a post earlier this year, I've recently picked up the full length and am still trying to dig into the crevices. It's as quiet and beautiful as expected, yet I still find myself creeping back to the ep for the real emotional access. Probably just a matter of time, and meanwhile it's obvious to see from where the praise stems.

MP3: Bon Iver - Skinny Love
Buy


There are more to come but this gets me off and running. The difficulty now is a more familiar dilemma. Delve back into the past and resurrect some missed gems, or gaze into the next month's releases and try to avoid something amazing becoming next year's lost treasure..........ever feel like one set of ears isn't enough?


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Now playing: Scott Weiland - I Know It's Too Late
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 13 March 2009

Because of the Times

Although the album still means pretty much everything to me and the way I listen to music, it's undeniably something that's fading from the new modes of consumption. With a la carte downloads and the increasing importance of that killer track on a blog or MySpace page, listeners are tending to give new bands only the briefest of opportunities to impress before moving on to the next mp3. With the liberation of supply that resulted from Napster and ever-increasing bandwidth capabilities accessible by home users, the power of the individual song has returned.

In essence, this isn't entirely a new phenomenon. The single has been the marketing tool of choice for record companies to prep their artists fans for a new release over the last few decades. Radio was perhaps the blogosphere of the past, with music fans scouring the airwaves for a tune that caught their ear. The big difference now is the sheer volume of listeners that this individual track can persuade, with the entire net surfing world a potential new fan.

I intend at some point to really have a good look at how the album can expect to fare as a format for new music releases in the digital realm. As with much in recent music history, it is technology that defined the album format - its length, art and audio quality - and with such a massive shift resulting from digital, it's only logical that this will again be the case. The question is whether the album will survive, adapt to some hybrid form, or simply become a thing of the past. But, as I said, that's for another time and this is only really a preamble to the main post...........unexpected for this frequently sharp, succinct blog, I know.

So what I really wanted to do was start a theme whereby I adapt to the times and write about an attention grabbing, individual track in more detail, yet retain something of the bitter old cynic and not accept the album as a bygone. What came to mind was
'Century Eyes' by Shearwater.

This is a track that sits amongst a thoroughly enjoyable collection of plaintive, quietly emotional songs that reveal themselves slowly but surely with every listen. It resides in the middle of a generally slow burning album but is in itself a completely immediate, take charge track. Immediately before and after it, 'Lost Boys' and 'I Was a Cloud' weave gently in and out with a tender introduction, distant vocals, and delicate instrumentation. 'Century Eyes' simply allows a few seconds of fuzz and rhythm warm up, then powers in with defiant, accusing singing, a confident riff, and a powerful march of drums. It hangs around for a mere 2:18 but leaves a lasting impression, powerfully accentuating the gentle, understated approach of the rest of album 'Rook'. Without this song, I do wonder if it would have taken me many more listens to fully appreciate how intricate the album as a whole is.

My hope, then, is that this isn't an isolated occassion but something that I can highlight on more albums in various guises. None come to mind immediately, but my mind operating as it does then I'm sure some will occur to me at the most inopportune moment........on the loo, entering the subway, food shopping, essentially any time that I can't make a proper note of it. In the meantime, suggestions are welcome. It's heartening to think that the 'single' (such as it is) can interact with the whole collection of songs in a meaningful way that accentuates both. Hopefully there are many more examples of this to come.


Shearwater Official

Buy Buy

MP3: Shearwater - Century Eyes



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Now playing: Exile Parade - Bicycle Thieves
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Unsigned Uncovered: And The Revellers Fell

Our next installment comes back south (and home now, for me) to New York City. Far from being urban, however, I want to focus on a band whose sound recalls sun-baked Western desert states and long, lonely road trips through dust bowl, one horse towns. That band is And The Revellers Fell.

The band has only been around for a little over a year but is already making some noises that nod towards the ambiguous 'alt-country' tag. More pertinently, they remind me of songs by great artists like Screaming Trees and Magnolia Electric Co. No mean feat and some lofty company to keep, at least in my little corner of the musical universe.


Unfortunately nothing has been released officially yet, so the intricate, windin g guitar lines up on their Myspace page are the only evidence we have to go on that these guys could create something pretty special. The band has no notes on recording activity for thi s year as yet, but one can trust to hope. They're touring in the city area, so I plan to catch them in early April and get the scuttlebutt (couldn't carry off cowboy talk if I wanted to....back to the confused BritYank I'm developing, then) on more songs and a release.


Of the songs that we do have to explore, Jump My Mind is the most immediate and upbeat. The guitars retain that acoustic Western twang required to identify Ameri cana, whilst also giving an alt-rock feel which is backed up by the Bob Mould-isms that occassionally pop up in the vocals.
Moving onto my favoured Unrelenting, the tempo slows and a more sombre side of the band emerges. This one in particular feels close to the work of Jason Molina, again with the tight guitar picking weaving underneath the plaintive singing. Tight walks a neat path between the two, offering a positive message with a slow, lilting melody. Critically, the songs stay with you and leave you wanting more.


I'm sure to be writing more about these fellas and it's nice to be looking forward to something built of my own mind's hype, rather than that of the web. I just wonder how long they're going to make me wait for a full disc of this stuff?!


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Now playing: The Duke Spirit - You Really Wake Up The Love In Me
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 6 March 2009

REVIEW: Dälek - Gutter Tactics

My original review for this dark, brooding slice of left field hip-hop was cruelly consigned to the digital dustbin in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Suffice it to say that my faith in the auto-save option is now to be replaced with obsessive-compulsive pasting into Notepad and back again once I've finished.

Part of my spiel, however, was about cutting down the length of reviews (and subsequently getting more completed), so perhaps this was a (harsh, frustrating) way of modifying my scribblings.



So basically Gutter Tactics is better than 2006's Abandoned Language, although in the same vein with deep, atmospheric beats and subdued vocals. The main reason for me really clicking with them this time, as opposed to the last album which I only enjoyed in fits and starts, is the cohesion. The way the whole work fits together and offers a change in pace from time to time. Again, most tunes (like the quality 'Who Medgar Evers Was'....answer......and 'Armed With Krylon') offer a downbeat, cynical take on society and how it operates, yet these are interspersed with more accessible songs ('No Question') and even contemplative numbers that verge on the hopeful ('We Lost Sight'). Abandoned Language lacked these contrasts and so required a pretty set state of mind to want to listen to it all the way through. This breaks out and offers a more general discontent, throwing some curves in there to keep the listener engaged.

Dälek both benefit and suffer from being an act that blur the boundaries between diverse genres. Their sound is rooted in hip-hop but is a million miles from the standard fare of that genre, also covering the realms of shoegaze, trip-hop, and various posts. It most often recalls, for me, Massive Attack, though even they only ventured into those darker, rockier territories carefully and specifically for individual songs. Whilst great for the open-minded listener, this can also put off strict fans of any of the specific genres they inhabit.

Missing out on these boys would be a shame, though, as they've crafted what is likely to be one of the more atmospheric and intricate releases of the year. If you have time to listen in and can deal with the belief that, despite the GObama hope, things aren't all sweetness and light, Gutter Tactics will reward and then some. A pertinent reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done.

Dälek Official

Buy Buy

MP3: Dälek - Who Medgar Evers Was







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Now playing: Dälek - Lynch
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Unsigned Uncovered: THICK AS THIEVES


I've always wanted to keep this here chiefly about music and themes somewhat off the main blog motorway and off onto the country lanes, although often there are great releases back in the limelight that fully deserve the attention. In an effort to drag things back into the thickets, though, I'll be aiming to post some form of 'Uncovered' post at least once a week. Not as an attempt to be ahead of the hipster curve but simply as an outlet for music or a topic that has slapped me in the face and demanded I pay attention at any given moment. I'm sure it intended no harm.......just ask Rihanna.





To kick off, I'm thoroughly digging songs I've stumbled across this week by unsigned Massachusetts lads Thick As Thieves. The sound is a serendipitous meeting of fuzzy alt-rock rooted in the mid 90's and more contemporary Americana. It has delicate, more introspective passages, but more often it's entirely unrestricted in whipping up the guitars and blazing out in a slightly distorted manner, recalling early ....Trail of Dead or even Dinosaur Jr., at a push. Keys also make the odd appearance, effectively backing up more accessible moments like The Octopus. To summarise, wonderfully nostalgic without being old hat.



The band has been together for a few releases now, since 2004, the newest of which is the RX ep from late last year. There's plenty to choose from on iTunes via the link below, so well worth a look and listen on MySpace for a favourite tune, followed by a swift purchase once they pull you in. If you're in New York, you can also catch the show at the Public Assembly on 20th March. Good times.


Myspace

iTunes


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Now playing: Thick As Thieves - Rx Goliath
via FoxyTunes