Wednesday, January 5, 2011

welp, so long, blogspot

Don't fret.
I just got tired of this format and figured I would try out Tumblr because its trendy and makes me feel better about myself.
It's practically the same URL so if you're really too lazy to follow me over there than thats just sad and you don't deserve my bounty of musical recommendations plus the new additions of videos/pictures and other things, I suppose.

of course, everything will be archived here so dont hesitate to dig through here every once in a while in case you missed something.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010: Top 3 LPs

Well, there are only so many days left before the new year so let's get this over with.  Here it is, the moment all 4 of you have been waiting for, the prestigious top 3:


Among very little else in common, the 3 albums I decided were my favorites out of this year are all albums that take the genre (or lack thereof) that they are associated with and seriously raise the bar or just destroy it all together.  Deathspell Omega have been brooding and growling for over a decade and have been consistently breaking ground in the black metal world.  Their latest effort (the last in a trilogy) is as trve and kvlt as it gets while really expanding and experimenting with mind-blowing instrumentation.  All the blast beats and tremolo picking you would expect are present but there is so much more here:  haunting guitar breaks, time signature experimentation, mesmerizing progressions and dense atmosphere make this album stand out, not only from other black metal albums I've ever listened to but also most music in general.  The drumming in particular is insanely impressive and its not just the speed of his blast beats or the amount of rack toms this guy must have.  The variation and tasteful nature of his style lends itself remarkably to the harsh brand of music.  Now, I'm aware that black metal-ish music isn't for everyone...but if there's ever a reason to give it a chance, here you have it.  I would find it difficult to believe that one could come away from listening to this album without a newfound respect for the genre or at least, a reason to not hate the french so much.


Who knew hip-hop and harps went so well together?  Flylo has done it again!  As I might've referred to Teebs as a 'sonic architect' of sorts, I think a title that awesome should probably be reserved for Flying Lotus.  He pieces together a plethora of new, intriguing and beautiful sounds most producers might overlook or reject.  The tasteful nature of his constructions never cease to amaze me, especially the way they all flow together so seamlessly.  This LP utilizes a lot more live instrumentation than his previous efforts and it really shines in this context.  My favorite addition is all the live bass work by Thundercat.  He pretty much tears everything apart and adds soul that any bass synth wishes it could emulate.  Throughout the album, soundscapes will creep up on you, beats will drop on you like a ton of bricks and even the sampled sound of a pingpong match makes an appearance, strangely and wonderfully complimenting the angelic vocals of Laura Darlington.  I don't even really know what I'm doing trying to explain all of this because it's quite simple; if you haven't heard this yet, you're not doing yourself a favor by going another minute without it.


It's hard to put this album into words...I saw them play it live in it's entirety before I ever heard the album and I was completely dumbfounded.  The composition was so tight, dissonant, dark and intense.  The lack of guitar work confused me at first but Toby Driver's bass application was unique as it was interesting.  He took a chorus/delay laden bass and turned it into a new way of looking at a lead instrument.  The violin really stands out as well but mostly compliments the dissonantly harmonizing drones of the trumpets and saxophones.  Add onto that some complex, jazzy drumming and haunting, glitchy synths and that's the best I can do to explain how this record sounds.  It's a melancholic journey based on the last part of someone's life and accomplishes every mood and emotion it sets out to convey, especially the minuscule glimpses of beauty found at the very end of life.  This album is nothing short of a masterpiece and is a complete success in every way possible.

SO, there you have it.  I hope anyone bored enough to read all of this took something away with them.  We can only hope that next year will be so amazing (in terms of music of course).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best of 2010: Top 20 LPs (4-10)

I'm too tired to do all 10 so I'll leave some extra suspense and leave my top 3 for whenever I wake up.  I'll also remember to do them in reverse order so you have to scroll halfway down the page to find out what I ranked highest for no other reason than the fact that on the way down, you might have more of a chance to be dissatisfied with my list or, if you're lucky, find something you really dig.

 Enough self-deprecation, onto the list.  It's been a long night and I feel as if I do my best writing when I'm sleep deprived.  Less inhibition and whatnot, you get the idea:


Take 1 part black metal, 1 part screamo and a handful of relentless brutality and you have...a stupid metaphor that barely begins to describe how astounding this band is.  This album has no 'Intro' ambient track or any eerie samples or field recordings of rustling leaves.  Celeste comes out swinging immediately, cracking you in the face before you have a chance to even guess what to expect.  The traditional black metal tremolo picking and chord structures paired with the vocals more associated with screamo or post-hardcore make for a hard-hitting and visceral experience.  These Frenchmen rarely give you a chance to take a breath but when they do, it's brooding, dissonant and haunting.  Morte(s) Nee(s) is a powerhouse of an album and will have your head banging to the down-tuned chugs in no time.


Would it be bombastic or ostentatious to call this album a modern soul classic?  Probably, but this is my piece of internet and I can pretty much say whatever I want and you might've ended up here because you actually find yourself agreeing with me some of the time so it doesn't really matter does it?  Anyway, this, out of most of the albums on my list, has definitely received a majority of any kind of 'mainstream' press.  The soulful, heartbroken, meaningful lyrics can make anyone's heart ache.  Just look at the song titles and you'll get the picture.  Not to say it doesn't have its share of the up-beat, riff-heavy garage rock we've all come to expect from the Akron duo.  Their last album, Attack and Release, really had me worried and was a huge letdown.  With more instrumentation than the previous album, these guys sounded like they lost the energy and soul they radiated as a simple guitar + drums formula for years.  This album restored my faith in their ability to create and excel.  Nostalgic poetry, rockin' solos, rugged vocals and soul you thought died with detroit (more on that later); this album has it all and is solid all the way through.


I find it impossible to ignore this band's absurdity.  Their musicianship is almost overshadowed by their ludicrous stage presence and general approach to what some might call 'songwriting' but I don't think they'd have it any other way.  I've enjoyed this band for quite some time but after recently seeing them live, I can't help but be impacted by such a passionate and honest performance.  This album was meant to embody their live show and pack as much life as you can into a reproduction of something as intimate as their music.  Yeah, I just described The Chariot as intimate...not the first adjective one might think of but I think it's an interesting way of perceiving their music and helps to get to the core of what's being conveyed here.  The first song is comprised entirely of one chord + insane amounts of feedback.  Over and over again.  How could a band make a song so 'simple' yet so inspiringly intense and energetic?  It barely even makes sense and that is the beauty of this album.  Pure expression.


This album barely made it onto my radar in time but I can barely express how glad I am that I found this.  The title of this album could, understandably, be off-putting to some.  I know what you may be thinking, "Yeah Matt, just what we need, another pompous rapper who thinks hes the best thing since Uncrustables".
But all you need to do to realize this is different is listen to the first 20 seconds.  This album is a reflection, a recounting of this man's life and what happened during it in the past year.  Don't get me wrong, the album has plenty of classic hip-hop pomp with all the trimmings but it's much less contrived than other albums you might have heard of on several other 'best of' lists this year...Let me just set something straight:  Kanye West compared to Black Milk (in terms of everything from production to lyrical content and general persona) is the equivalent of the gross, store-brand knock-off cereal sold in bags sitting on the bottom shelves of the cereal isle.  In other words, a cheap, blatant imitation.  
Snag this album and "Dark Twisted Fantasy" practically deletes itself off your ipod.


After his EP collab with Jackhigh, Teebs finally went ahead and released his debut LP, Ardour.  The soundscapes created on this record are so vibrant and lush, you can't help but get lost in the ebb and flow.  Each new addition to the ocean of sound creates a brand new texture and carries on the previous idea while evolving it and constantly shifting directions.  The whole album feels like a series of little auditory adventures, each one unique but also thematically relevant to one another.  Teebs' use of certain sounds is carving out a signature sound niche that many would never dream of pulling off.  The bell and chime tones accompanied by junky sounding snaps and clicks reverberate throughout the album and form countless dreamy atmospheres to get lost in.  The Flying Lotus influence is undeniable as Teebs appears to be the grasshopper to sensei Flylo.


The album artwork is by Toby Driver, need I say more?  Really though, this LP is a great step forward for underground music.  It's really stepping up the production value, lyrical content and musical aptitude lost on many bands trying to be the next Cap'n Jazz.  When you hear this record, many familiarities in the music might arise but as much as you try, it becomes very difficult to pinpoint what you think you might be hearing.  Their style is unique and powerful for a 3 piece band.  Both the guitarist and bassist scream so the call/response mechanic is utilized often and with great success.  The rigid bass lines hold it down while the guitar is non-stop, all over the fretboard and the whirling dervish drum style only amplifies the intensity.  Buy this album, it's beautiful on vinyl and the band deserves it.  They're also amazing live.


Yeah, I did just post this not too long ago...Regardless, it's simply an amazing album and just never gets old.  Check out my review by clicking above.

Alright, time to go die in bed.  If I wake up, maybe I'll finish my top 3 with some really well-written commentary.

Best of 2010: Top 20 LPs (11-20)

Alright, well, it took me a while to muster up the courage for this but here we go.  It's been a great year so instead of whittling it down to just 10 and choosing between way too many albums to list as 'honorable mentions', I'll just man up and make a big list for the albums I know deserve to be heard.  Alright.  Deep breath.  Here we go.


Another Sargent House curveball, Tera Melos is known for their spastic, super-human brand of mathrock.  This album shows that they can do more than just change time signatures on a dime.  I'll admit, it was a bit of a grower, but once I latched on, it really sunk in.  The first noticeable difference is the prominence of vocals.  Yep, they aren't instrumental anymore.  This could've probably been discerned by the vague presence of vocals on their last EP but I definitely didn't expect them to be in the foreground like this.  Another huge change is the new drummer.  Few (if any) could live up to Vince's jazzy, unhinged style but this new guy does his best to fill in those enormous shoes.  The drumming is much more conventional than past releases but this also lends itself more to the music now that vocals are more involved.  Also, the song 'Aped' is about a pet chimp some crazy woman in CT had that mauled her friend, nearly killing her, so that's pretty damn cool.


I absolutely adore these guys.  I just hung out with some of them tonight and they are truly some of the greatest dudes I'll know in life.  Good thing they make amazing music and I don't just have to pretend to love it.  Like I said in my Suns review, these guys share band members, allowing for bountiful chemistry and an emotional bond that few bands, or even groups of friends in general, ever hope to achieve.  A concept-album or sorts, Make it Easy on Yourself is an emotional journey and offers all the highs and lows you could ever hope for.  I implore you to check this out and if you like it, definitely order the vinyl.  The packaging is sick (because I helped put some of it together, of course) and the music on the wax is even sicker.

This is on the list because I'm a sucker for anything Phil Elverum related and this is just a giant cluster of unreleased songs, different versions of songs I already love and what seems like random (glorious) crap he decided to record when he had nothing better to do.  Sifting through it and finding stand-out tracks made it all the more rewarding.  If you dont love Microphones/Mount Eerie related things, this probably isn't for you but it's great anyway and definitely deserves its spot on here.

This virtually unknown group of gentlemen from the northwest corner have, in my eyes, accomplished something truly glorious.  Self-releasing a debut LP of this magnitude is so impressive to me, I can't go without appreciating them and the hard work they've done.  The production is stellar and the songs can go from sounding like Don Caballero one second to sounding like American Football and everything in between.  If they don't blow up soon, I'll all but lose hope in underground music and blogging.  LISTEN TO IT, PLEASE!
Bongripper - Satan Worshipping Doom

Ok...I know what you're thinking.  Between the album art, outrageous, high school-sounding band name and edgy album title, I could understand some kind of preconceived notions regarding this album.  I don't really care.  If you do what I almost did and judged the band before listening to this sonic endurance test, then you are truly an idiot.  Despite the silly band name, these guys definitely have some serious work ethic.  4 body-withering tracks all clocking in at over 11 minutes each is truly a feat considering the instrumental aspect and contextually complex song structure.  You read right, no death growls here, not a single word is uttered, nor are any words necessary.  This behemoth of an album lets the music speak for itself and it's calling you out on your bullshit so you should probably listen.


Dark Dark Dark seems to be on a great path.  These rompers hailing from Louisiana have taken a big step from their previous album, The Snow Magic (posted on this very blog a while ago).  The musical direction retains their folksy, jangle-y sound and the male/female vocal partnership while branching off and really creating a sound of their own.  Lots more piano and involved drums keep the pulse while tons of other instrumentation fills in the mix.  This is, overall, a darker (no pun, shut up), more reflective sounding record.  The melancholic vibe never gets old and really draws the listener in with it's atmospheric and emotional qualities.  Perfect for the coming winter.  

Ok, shit's about to get weird.  This two-piece JUGGERNAUT of a band from RI is out of control.  The otherworldly chanting, outrageously loud guitar and insanely strained and tormented vocals are enough to make most people plug their ears and run from the room begging for mercy.  If you listen a bit closer, the swelling sea of distortion creates such a dense, sludgy atmosphere that is truly unique and its all carried along by the pounding drums.  The shrieks emanating from the guitarist's mouth sound as if he has fallen into a hole somewhere far in the background and is being consumed by massive, flesh-eating worms of some kind.  This is apparently to simulate the effect of their live show.  Apparently at their shows, he foregoes the silly luxury of microphones and instead, shreds his vocal chords to roar over the already ridiculously loud wall of sound created by the two of them.  This album blends so many different genres together in such odd ways, it's almost futile to try and describe it.  Sludgy, doom-laden, blackened , depressive, thrashy, gargantuan and brutal are some words that come to mind.  Sound good?


Snowing was a band that I personally thought got way too much hype for what they were.  Street Smart Cyclist was pretty good (all 7 songs they ever did or whatever) but all this hubbub and the guy can barely sing in the right key and let's be honest, this twinkly shit is getting out of hand.  This album is definitely beginning to change my opinion on the matter, at least with this band.  The production is worlds better than their debut EP.  It's raw but everything stands out how it should.  The lyrics are really intense and are quite humorous at times, the dueling guitars are always exciting and the band as a whole really changes up what this new wave, twinkly, so-bad-it's-good emo trend has become.  If they keep this up, maybe it won't become so stagnant.    


If you've been into Maps since the beginning of their strange career, you might've been in the same mindset as me when listening to this album for the first time.  They released 2 EPs over 5 years before finally releasing this debut LP and the result couldn't have been more shocking and initially disappointing.  Dumbstruck by the lack of frantic tapping and screeching vocals, I was naïve to dismiss it so soon.  After cooling off, I quickly realized that Dave Davison (if that's not his name, don't judge me, I'm too lazy to look it up even though it would take less time than writing this) had really matured as a songwriter and the band was his vessel to create what is essentially an amazing amalgamation of complex, intelligent rock and pop music.  A real grower if you've been a fan since they're debut and an extremely appealing, perfectly flowing album for any first-time listener.


So, I posted a pretty great review of this already so it's there in the link if you want to know more.  I'm trying to save time here so I can get outside and welcome the winter with some lunar eclipse action.  

Cool.  10 more to go!
I know you're thrilled...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best of 2010: Top 10 EPs

I've been scoping all of the usual 'Top Whatever of 2010' lists all over the internet and have been extremely disappointed by just about all of them.  I don't quite know why I expect to be satisfied by Spin Magazine's top 50 albums or any other publication of the sort but I do know that some part of me hopes, every year, to see something truly surprising creeping it's way out of 'obscurity'.  The following lists over the next couple of days are my way of expressing my disdain for much of the music hoarding all of the hype throughout this glorious year.  Due to the volume of great material, I even decided to split it up into different categories...oye

Top 10 EPs.  Here we go:

As far as eccentric, unconventional vocalists go, I'm quite sure this EP has got it covered.  Mainly utilizing the vocal chords of David Longstreth, Björk and the backup singers of Dirty Projectors, the feel of this EP is extremely sparse.  There aren't many instruments used and it seems as if an upright bass is the most prominent aside from rare acoustic guitar and some clapping/percussion.  Unique in it's execution, it deserves to be listened to.

Brooding, melancholic and desolate...would you expect anything less from Connecticut's finest ambassadors of sadness?  The whole EP is frighteningly dense in texture and features 2 entirely instrumental songs.  Ambience and drones play a huge role and everything just seems beautiful and tragic at the same time.  Perfect winter listening.


Some may call him the 'Swedish Bob Dylan' which seems fitting but it's a silly pigeonhole to doom something this beautiful to.  Through his splendidly fingerpicked guitar-work and unique singing voice, Kristian Matsson evokes a plethora of emotions and is appropriate for almost any mood you may be in.  Electric guitar even makes an appearance on this EP and even though im not the biggest fan of how it goes with the rest of his style, I can appreciate the attempt to branch out stylistically.


Clocking in at a whopping 4 minutes and 10 seconds, this 7" somehow manages to be brimming with intense hatred enough for hours at least.  With the longest track being 36 seconds, you can expect to be riddled with hatred in short bursts of blastbeats and surgically precise stops that will send you flying forward.  Mosh.

Showing some CT love, this EP hits really close to home for me.  My buddies recorded this about 30 minutes from where I live and they've been with me on my musical journey from the beginning.  All of the members of Suns recently joined other CT favorites, Midi and the Modern Dance.  During their giant summer tour, Suns took a back seat but quickly picked up and just released this EP.  It's got the rough feeling of demos and is just a precursor to their upcoming album but damn, is it great.  The raw quality only lends itself more to the aesthetic of the music and lyrics.  They may fool you with their catchy rhythms and a pop/rock coating but dig a little deeper and the dissonance and angst underneath will grab you and not let go.


Dr. Albert Hofmann ingested an NES cartridge and when he vomited, this came out.  Flylo's quick update after his other 2010 release, Cosmogramma, is a truly strange and eclectic collage of sound.  It utilizes 8-bit blips and synth sounds straight out of your favorite childhood video game.  This EP is a real trip.


Toby Driver never ceases to please me with his beautifully crafted pieces and this one is no exception.  Stained Glass is actually one 20 minute, vibraphone-centric track.  It's hauntingly composed and filled with various percussion, saxophone, violin, fuzz bass and eerie, saw-tooth synths.  It starts out soothing with the sultry vocals of Driver and soon degrades into bone-chilling, synth-y chaos.  Eventually it smooths out again and delivers with beautiful melodies and chimes carrying you to its peaceful end.  Truly a classic piece.


Yeah, long band name, I'm aware.  Really though, I dig it and if you know what's good for you, so will you.  Maybe it's the CT pride or the fact that the music really strikes a chord with me (if you don't like puns, you can leave) but these guys are definitely on to something real.  It's kind of like if in 1998, Modest Mouse  decided to become a post-rock band and listened to more Kinsella-related projects.  If you've ever been to New England, you will quickly understand why this is great stuff.


Smooth and glitched-out, another splendid collaboration made it's way onto this prestigious list.  Producer/visual artist/sound architect, Teebs, had a great year.  This came out earlier in the year only to be followed by his first full-length album, Ardour, but more on that later...For now, let's focus on the lush, sonic buffet we have laid out before us.  I will admit that I know little to nothing about Jackhigh.  I think hes a producer from the UK or something, I should really check out his material if it's anything like this.  Anyway, the soundscapes and flows created on this EP are so dense and interesting, you can't really go wrong.  Each song melts into the next and I feel that it's universally pleasing so definitely check it out no matter what you're into.


It may seem silly that my #1 EP of the year hasn't even officially come out yet but it's too great to ignore or leave until next year.  The band Logs is the side project of the vocalist/guitarist of Kidcrash.  With Kidcrash being one of my favorite bands, I knew I would adore this project before I ever even heard it.  Unlike in Kidcrash, Alex is playing bass and doing a damn fine job.  His tone is dirty as hell and his style translates well to bass, creating angular and unique rhythms.  Everything else is well done and I cant wait for a real album cover and actual song titles.  If you check out nothing else from this list, GET THIS and give them all of your money when it's released soon.   

Well that was intense...If you read all of this, that's quite impressive.  I don't expect many to do so but feel free to share some of your favorites because I would hate to miss anything.  Top LPs up next.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Loma Prieta - LIFE/LESS (2010)

3 great dudes from CA making passionate, badass punk rock.   Not much more to say here because I've already summed this album up as best I could using words.  Through the many incarnations of this band, they've released a handful of albums and they have all been unique.  This one tends to lean more towards 'hardcore punk' if you will.  This record's sound really lends itself to the group now being a 3-piece.  Figured I'd post this because I am fortunate enough to be seeing these guys tomorrow along with Punch and Vaccine...I'm not sure if I'm ready for how amazing it will be.

Heaven in Her Arms

As if anyone needed more proof that the Japanese music scene can take ideas rooted in western music and expand on them to the point of almost being unrecognizable while still retaining what made it fantastic to begin with.  Named after a Converge song, these gentlemen don't deliver quite what you would expect but I would say that what they bring to the table is infinitely more amazing than some Japanese version of Converge.  The elements of sheer brutality, low-tuned guitars and throat-rupturing screams are all there but also so much more.  This groups sense of dynamic and contrast is much of what makes listening to them such an active and enjoyable experience.  It can go from beautifully serene spoken-word movements featuring sublimely harmonized guitars to movements of utterly relentless howling over gut-wrenching guitar chugging laden with feedback.  I am in the process of delving into their older works but here are their two most recent efforts.  They are definitely in the same vein and have many of the same ideas going on yet show a lot of growth between the EP and the full-length.
Perfect music for the onset of winter.

(thanks, lies)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Me and Him Call it Us - Loss (2006)

This band does not care what you think.  They do what they want, when they want.  They take the notion of 'song structure' and piss on it.  Bands with such little regard for what makes music 'music' usually teeter on a narrow, steep plateau between the valley of glorious triumph and the pit of utter failure.  Me and Him Call it Us dive off of this plateau head-first into the former.  Screeching, roaring and growling nearly unintelligible lyrics amidst flurries of furious shredding punctuated by shamelessly brutal breakdowns, this band unabashedly carves out their own niche among what some might call genres of 'screamo' or 'grindcore' while subscribing to neither.  Another aspect that adds a unique quality to this album is the atmospheric and noisy ambient interludes found scattered throughout.  These really break up the ruthlessness and give you a chance to catch your breath before shoving your head straight back into the toilet.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mare - Mare (2004)

"total destroy of my mind, awesome stuff"
~some user
I couldn't have said it any better myself but I'll try to elaborate for your sake.
If you find yourself listening to Kayo Dot's first record, Choirs of the Eye, and wishing there were anything else in that vein of avant-garde brutality, then this is something you need to investigate.  These Toronto natives have a sludge-tinged chamber music combination reminiscent of Kayo Dot's but the execution is much more raw and minimal.  Don't get me wrong though, the immense, relentless power of Tyler Semrick-Palmateer's vocals really set this band apart.  His growls and haunting shrieks are that of the darkest nightmares while his soothing croon is almost angelic.  These polarities alone exemplify the band's sound and the instruments follow suit, ranging from crushingly distorted guitar to melancholic french horn.  This demo turned EP really spans the entire spectrum and is a truly exciting musical journey I'd highly recommend.
(thanks, lies)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Satine - Satine EP (2008)

My fellow bandmate, Annis, showed me this band a long time ago. I've held off from posting this for a while because the quality isn't all that good but let's get real and get our noses out of the air for a second and use our ears instead. This little french ensemble collages the glitchy spasms of Radiohead with powerful vocals, quite reminiscent of Björk. Between post-rock-esque explosions and fuzzy glitch arrangements, the textures are always intriguing and each song climaxes in a very moving way. Even with all their experimental electronic use, they still know whats up and kill it on acoustic instruments, check out the album closer acoustic-style:

Satine Messsnow Concert à Emporter

Satine EP