Friday, February 24, 2012

Album Review: of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks

of Montreal mastermind Kevin Barnes has always been a risk taker. He has released new music every year since of Montreal’s 1997 debut, Cherry Peel, and no two releases have been alike. It’s been an unpredictable journey seeing how the band evolves from release to release. Paralytic Stalks is their 11th studio album and finds Barnes working in a more collaborative environment with Zac Cowell, who performs the woodwinds and the brass instruments on the record, and Kishi Bashi, who created the string arrangements. At the same time, this is his most personal and confessional release to date – almost to a painful degree. Previous albums had him channel feelings through his fictitious persona Georgie Fruit; but on this record, we have him directly confessing feelings of depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

Stream: Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend

Strange Weekend is the debut of Mauro Remiddi who performs under the guise of Porcelain Raft. It is quite the journey of genre-hopping bedroom pop. You wouldn’t be able to tell that this record was recorded in his bedroom if I didn’t just tell you as much. The opener, “Drifting in and Out” is an airy track that takes it’s title quite literally. Following suit, the gentle "Shapeless & Gone" is reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain at their most accessible and ends with buzzing guitars that add welcome texture. The buoyant acoustic structure of "Is It Too Deep for You" is not too far removed from the tighter Atlas Sound compositions. With its skittering beat and unpredictable synths, “Unless You Speak Your Heart” is the clear standout. Another highlight is "Picture" which rounds things out with a trip-hop feel that keeps the album bouncing along before dream-pop closer "The Way In". Strange Weekend is one of the more exciting debuts of the year and you can hear the whole thing for yourself after the jump.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oliver Tank - Dreams / Dreams Remixed

Oliver Tank is a 22-year-old ambient electronic musician from Sydney, Australia. His debut EP immediately places you in a dream state from the first notes gently emanating from a piano in opener “Up All Night”. The tender piano is surrounded by the deepest of deep bass and pleas of “Can you teach me how to dance, real slow?” The atmosphere established throughout makes it the ultimate late night listening experience. "Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion" is a clear standout with its thumping bass, clicking percussion, and emotive strings. It is begging to be used to soundtrack a poignant scene in an introspective film. Dreams is a dazzling debut that serves as aural opium. Press play and prepare to slowly drift down a soothing river of ambiance. For greater insight on the songs, read this track-by-track analysis by Oliver Tank himself. Also featured below is the companion piece, Dreams Remixed, which showcases some fantastic reworkings of the songs on the EP. Both are available for a pay-what-you-want amount at Yes Please Recordsbandcamp page.

Cloud Seeding ft. Marissa Nadler - Ink Jar

Cloud Seeding is a music singles project from Brooklyn-based guitarist Kevin Serra, who is using it as collaborative space to showcase vocalists he admires. On the “Ink Jar” single, he works with one of my favorite folk artists, Boston’s Marissa Nadler. The sultry, Lynchian tune relies on Marissa Nadler’s gorgeous vocal melody which floats gently above the ethereal rhythm. For the video, director Christopher Arcella created the visual effects by sending sound waves through a subwoofer connected to a pan filled with oobleck (non-Newtonian fluid). It achieves the perfect visual to accompany the haunting tune. The b-side “Unquestioning” is a slow and fragile dance containing a watery pulse. You can purchase the single on CD at the band's bandcamp page via Bleek Records.

Stream: Fucked Up - Year of the Tiger

If you haven’t been following them close enough, Toronto hardcore punk band Fucked Up have been releasing a single each year dealing with the Chinese Zodiac. The singles are typically ambitious, heavily orchestrated compositions that show the band pushing their limitations. With the fifth single in the series, Year of the Tiger, they feature contributions from director Jim Jarmusch, electropop group Austra, and Duchess Says leader Annie-Claude Deschênes. The sprawling two song set comes in at just under 40 minutes making it longer than the majority of punk records. Not a second is wasted in the almost 16 minute long title track which unfurls into a swirl of powerful guitar riffs and commanding punk rhythms. “Onno” is a more challenging track that features a 22-minute instrumental palindrome. It has an oddly hypnotizing beat and is much more listenable than it sounds in description. Listen below and also check out the past singles on the featured player.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Album Review: Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Having just been Pitchfork’d, I don’t have to tell you too much about the hype surrounding this album. Cloud Nothings have moved away from the hazy, reverb-drenched sound of their past and made a conscious effort to move into a darker, noisier territory that serves them surprisingly well. It greatly separates them from their peers who are all adapting a sound similar to their former selves. With Attack on Memory, I am reminded of great 90s bands like Silkworm. This is appropriate given the production from Steve Albini, known for his work with the aforementioned band as well as Pixies, Nirvana, and The Smashing Pumpkins. His mark is all over this release and his production techniques give the instruments room to breathe while framing their more abrasive qualities.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Track Rundown

On the last new track rundown, I led with a track from a Brooklyn band and my favorite song since then has been from another group from the area. There must be something good in the water there. Ever since Mr. Dream had unveiled the title track from their upcoming EP, Fatherland, I can't get enough of it. The song is an aggressive number with searing guitars that dig deep into your eardrums and leave a lasting impression. The Jealous Sound provide good contrast here with a catchy emo tune. This is emo in the classic sense (Sunny Day Real Estate, The Appleseed Cast, Jimmy Eat World) and not the eyeliner emo that people have come to associate with the genre. Catch them live tomorrow at Great Scott. Andrew Bird has finally released a track from his highly anticipated album, Break It Yourself, which is set for release on March 6th. It is a more straightforward and guitar-driven affair than what appeared on his last effort, but no less affecting. Listen to all this and more after the jump and take note of the dates when each artist is coming to the Boston area.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sandrider - Sandrider

It’s been awhile since I’ve spotlighted a metal band and I can think of no better album to get back into the flow with than Sandrider’s self-titled debut. Sandrider is comprised of Jon Weisnewski (guitars, vocals) and Nat Damm (drums), best known as 2/3 of the excellent hardcore band Akimbo. Along with bassist Jesse Roberts, the trio creates some sludgy and groovy metal. Matt Bayles (Mastodon, ISIS, The Blood Brothers) is the perfect producer to bring out the band’s full potential and keep everything raw yet distinct. Right out of the gate, “Children” is a standout track with guitars that share hints of punk, blues, and metal, which are driven forward by crushing percussion and thunderous bass. The sound is not too far removed from that of Big Business or The Melvins.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Young Fathers - TAPE ONE

Keeping in line with the previous post, I’ve got some more great hip-hop here courtesy of Young Fathers. The group is a trio out of Edinburgh specializing in a very conscious style of hip-hop that relies on heavy electronic beats and African rhythms to create a unique atmosphere on their latest mixtape, TAPE ONE. “Sister” is a great example of their sound. It has a fat, bottom-heavy beat and plenty of buzzing electronics. “Rumbling” stays true to its name with a rhythm that will test the limits of your subwoofer. The rhymes have a laidback flow that compliment the music, which is in debt to funk and soul as much as it is to dub and grime. Combining all these influences, "Remains" is the strongest track within. You can grab a copy of the excellent mix on their bandcamp and see for yourself.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

J.Nolan x Reese Jones – The Archetype EP

Hip-hop has become contrived, right? I mean, is this guy even trying? Can you really take this guy seriously? Enter J.Nolan who has restored my faith in in the genre. Nothing sounds lazy on his latest release, The Archetype EP. The 22-year-old rapper pairs with 18-year-old producer Reese Jones for this collaboration of complex beats and captivating rhymes. Nolan doesn’t meander his way around the rich production; he spits fire and does justice to the meticulously crafted beats. The EP displays an affinity for jazz samples that recalls A Tribe Called Quest records. Standouts “U4-ia” and “Tonight’s the Night” are perfect examples of Nolan’s fluid wordplay. What makes this release a keeper is that the music has soul and Nolan has something to say. The EP becomes more impressive when you realize that it was completed in a span of about 9 days. It’s clear these guys have a seriously bright future ahead of them. The whole thing is available for free on bandcamp so get at it!

Graph - EP 3

Maybe it’s the gloomy weather (the sky has been dark grey since I woke up) but I feel like covering some of the bands that are no longer with us. Hopefully, you’ve already listened to Ovlov’s final recordings in my previous post… If not, do so now... Ok, back to this release. The aptly titled EP 3 is the last we are going to hear from spastic math rockers Graph. “Middle” and “Frig” start things out right with short, punchy, and catchy songwriting. “Old” pummels the listener with abrasive bursts before relieving their eardrums with airy guitars reminiscent of American Football. “When We Get to Heaven We’ll Wait for Other People” is the catchiest song on the release and combines pop, punk, and noise elements into a swirling mixture of guitars and spirited rhythms. The final track, “Newest”, is my favorite. It has a disjointed start that slowly builds to a hypnotizing repetition before erupting in a headbanging finale. I have seen many basement shows with these guys that have left the audience spellbound and it saddens me that I won’t have the chance to do so again.

Ovlov - Not The Same Without You

As of writing this, Ovlov are no longer together. The band is leaving fans with this short but sweet two song single entitled Not The Same Without You via their bandcamp. These songs come from the same sessions as What's So Great About The City?, one of my favorite releases of last year. The first track, “Chicken Coop”, starts with a garbled story that has guitars swelling in the background. The tension continually builds until it reaches chants of “I see you / You see me.” The song has a killer chorus and some of the best guitar work that Ovlov has produced. “Small Voices” is a crunchy stomp with much vigor and feeling behind it. I had the pleasure of seeing their final show at Allston Berfest last week and it was a blast to see them go out in fine fashion. They even performed a masterful cover of “Feel the Pain” by Dinosaur Jr., a band that they can’t avoid being compared to. They will be sorely missed.