Monday, January 22, 2007

Shellac - At Action Park (1994)

Shellac are the most abrasive band on the planet. In both song and lyric, they rip to the bloody core of things. Steve Albini pilots the ship with razor sharp guitars and caustic vocals while Bob Weston dumps piles of fierce bass under it, and Todd Trainer repeatedly slashes and bludgeons with urgent mathematically precise drum work. Together they drop some of the heaviest songs without ever muting the guitars into a chugging hardcore riff, or any sort of metal direction. Yet each and every piercing sound is gleaming with menacing metal qualities. It is the musicians, most notably Steve Albini's, dedication to sound engineering and vintage equipment that is mostly resposible for the biting sounds of Shellac. The outspoken Albini has openly stated his distaste for digital technology and continues to record with all analog equpiment with careful mic positioning, even stating that CD's are shit on the liner notes of the album. Despite their minimal sound they weave a dense powerful rock record, not unlike many of their Touch & Go labelemates (Jesus Lizard, Slint, Don Caballero). They have a mathy yet viscerally direct approach with many complex approaches in both rhythm and tune and a keen sense of texture and form.

The band has declared live that they will release a follow up to 2000's 1000 Hurts sometime this year. It will of course be released on Touch & Go and will be titled Excellent Italian Greyhound, after Todd Trainers dog. Bonus points if you can guess what kind of dog it is. ^_^

The Story of Shellac, minimalist rock trio

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Look what I got on Rapidshare...hehe


.....damn! Is that how you download those damn things? hehehe.

A few more things...

I know its been a few weeks since 2006 ended. But here are a few from the list.

Converge - No Heroes

Awesome - "Agressive music" at its best. This band never runs out of steam, and they always keeps things interesting... Devastating music executed with immediate precision and and almost poetic poignancy.

Mouth Of The Architect - The Ties That Blind

Thick and heavy pulsating doom sludge with astrally projected space rock and disturbing murky black death lurking in every corner. Its the sound of the death of distant stars and of giant nebulas and their slow explosion into space.

Six Organs of Admittance - A Sun Awakens

Warm, smokey, hazy folk and acoustic drone mixed with other worldly psychedelia. Rivers are running, waterfalls and wind flowing, sounds of nature humming. This is all extrmeley evident on the closing, River of Transfiguration, a tonal mantra of transcendent beauty. The whole record is amazing and steeped in mystical qualities.

Snowden - Anti-Anti

Snowden are a nice icy treat. A slick yet riotous group with a tight rhythm section and a sharp guitar sound, all bound up in luscious cold bass lines. The lyrics are smart and exude an exacting coolness as does the rest of the band, in both image in sound.

And a few other favorites...

Built To Spill - Keep It Like A Secret

One of the finest Indie Rock records, or damn, even one the finest Rock records around. Along with their other albums, this album has not only greatly influenced a great many, but still stands as a huge monolith of rock and roll to all who enter the arena.

Mogwai - EP + 6

Not only some of Mogwai's quieter and more rare stuff, but also some of the best theyve put to tape. Stanley Kubrick and Superheroes of BMX are incredible and soothing, evoking tension and release all at once. Xmas Steps explodes appropriately with added dynamics from the original version, and Now Your Taken is haunting in its fragile beauty and simply hushed tones with lyrics from Aiden Moffat of Arab Strap.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Funeral Diner - Underdark (2005)

Funeral Diner has been played on my iPod daily for at least two weeks now. I'll have the iPod shuffling, walking along on the freezing cold streets of winter new york, and a Funeral Diner song will come on, and I have to switch the shuffle to 'off' so I can listen to the whole album. Funeral Diners sound is interesting to describe, as they seem to have mastered a few disparate genres and not only fuse them together, but do so with a grace this is often not associated hardcore. At least one member was present in the mid 90's band Portraits of Past. Their brand of screamy hardcore was at once controlled and chaotic, fusing slow builds and long passages with frantic bursts of punk fury. So whether through influence or the idea to pursue a similar approach, Funeral Diner shares much in common with its hardcore past. But as the musicians reworked and reformed they clearly stumbled upon a formula that work really well. By fleshing out the dynamincs of many of the slow burning pieces they've also added much tension and drama to their furious crescendos, all while maintaing a strict adherence to their hardcore roots. Which means the lyrics are still dark and introspective, screamy and tortured in fashion. The music is both pummeling and serene, finding many pathways to lead the way through many moods and motifs before dumping another ton of bricks on you with fierce breaks and deep riffs that bring to mind Isis and Mouth of the Architect. The drummer is powerful and keeps everything new and fresh with each subtle change. This release has definitely put the band in a new beginning and sees them coming up as a peer to the whole post-rock/ metal school of thought. And certainly one with a lot of credibility and a lot of potential. The Underdark was released on Alone Records and are going to be touring Japan in March. They also have a website that catalogs their many releases...Funeral Diner dot Com.

The For Carnation - s/t (2000)

The For Carnations recipe is simple. Or more accurately, simplicity. With ex members of Slint, their modus operandi is to take the most basic principles of the formers sound and play them out over long dark expanses of time. The result is an extremely bleak and delicate framework of carefully placed notes and rhythms. Some songs drift by barely noticed like creeping shadows on the wall, others warp the air around you, building a slow and steady terror. The pulsating beacon of Being Held is near the point of utter devastation before a heavy beat brings it all together with menacing result. Nothing is in excess, and nothing is wasted. Even the vocals are bare and minimal, evoking a darkness not unlike the cover art. Despite the sparse use if instrumentation the songs slowly lurch into a deep and murky voodoo blues groove. The songs have a definite slow burn and almost a sexiness, like watching a flickering fire dance before your eyes. The playing and production are tops and richness and texture of the songs is very evident on repeated listens.

As of now, I know little of what The For Carnation is up to other than a handful of Slint reunion shows. I believe members worked on various other release from different artists on the Touch & Go Record label and also the Louisville, Kentucky scene that spawed them. Whatever the case is, these people should clearly all be making more music whichever form they choose. Don't ya think?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

...busy daze

Life in 07 has picked up quickly. It seems as if I entered the new year with nothing to do, and then all of a sudden I have too much to do. Such is the case in life, and I welcome the movement. As well as that, I am finding that I am aquiring more records than I have time or inspiration to write a proper review for. There are too many good bands releasing music these days. Its hard enough to keep with up with a small portion let alone a multiplicity of genres. Plus theres work, as always. I am currently working as a graphic designer for kidswear, making cute litte drawings of polar bears, penguins and snowflakes...yes, snowflakes motherfucker, what! I am also resuming work on a t-shirt label that a good friend and I had begun late last fall. It is called Bleach and it will feature all handmade artwork by myself and my partner. There is a website coming along the way to promote and sell our propaganda. For now I have a few shots of the first group we did. We have a few more graphics and colorways we're working on. Details to follow. Let me know what you think... ^_^

My girlfriend and I also bought a dog. His name is Mo and hes a chihuahua. My girlfriend loves chis and now so do I. ^_^ All smiles here. He's really fun and suprisingly smart and he can hear really well. I am gonna train him to snowboard with me.

Isn't he special?

Natural Snow Buildings - The Dance of the Moon and the Sun (2006)

Natural Snow Buildings...Where the hell did this band come from? I know there is alot of shit out there, and its easy to miss it, especially when youre a full on music junkie like I am. But letting this one pass you by is like missing and elephant waking by in broad daylight. This album is a huge pagan monolith of universal proportions. Now dont mistake my analogies, this album is large, but not grind-you-up-and-spit-you-out large, nor is it 16-band-members, full-on-orchestra large. It is really just 2 1/2 hours of droning psych and raga, falling sometimes near early Six Organs works, at other times falling near Iron & Wine in simple beautiful melancholy, still other times sounding like Animal Collective on downers, the whole time treading the line between a Sunn 0)))-like darkness and a twinkling post-rock ambience such as Eluvium or even Explosions in the Sky. It is a slow burn, starting with Disc 1, Moon, dripping like sap from a tree while nymphs and satyrs slowly sway with the leaves. There are some heavy, cerebral moments here, namely the 15 minute true opener (after a short folk intro), Cut Joint Sinews & Divided Reincarnation. Similar moments exist in the 25 minute Felt Presence, Ghostly Humming and short and sweet Rain Parade. Interspersed throughout are shorter folk songs, often with a similar acoustic drone fluttering just behind the melody. Disc 2, Sun starts off darker, opening with the spooky and unsettling Tupilak before taking us into more droning folk and subtle atmospherics. The high point here is Ten Guardian-Spirits Motherfucker, with a steady back beat and sharply plucked yet shimmering guitars over an evil drone that could easily be likened to the sun rising over the desert. Images abound in the lengthier songs and would be greatly enjoyed by fans of the acoustic drone/ psych sound. The shorter, folkier songs keep the album from getting bogged down in its own wall of noise and bring it back to earth, making Natural Snow Buildings a band firmly rooted in the earth and the stars.

Natural Snow Buildings is a duo from France, consisting of artists Mehdi and Solange, and have released one album prior to Moon and Sun called Ghost Folks, which apprently owes more of its sound to Constellation Records and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The band has self-released its latest double cd-r in highly limited quantities with hand made packaging and artwork, and basically they are all sold out, so this is a good chance to hear a band that should hopefully be a force to contend with in short time.

Many thanks go out the Postapocalyptic Vanguard for not only posting tons of great instrumental post-rock but also for providing the links to this incredible, haunting record.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Most Serene Republic - Phages EP (2006)

Holy Shit this is a good record! Charlatantric posted it as his best record of 2006. I had heard of The Most Serene Republic before and wasnt terribly impressed. It sounded good, but I was into a bunch of other similar things (brokenssocialscene...ahem!)so I let it pass by. When I randomly picked this up I decided to give them a second chance having heard numerous good things about the record. Giving it an open ear I found myself not terribly impressed. I felt like I'd heard it before and ignored it for a few weeks. Well last night when I was doing work here I put it on and maybe its 'cause I was paying attention to my work, or maybe 'cause I wasnt bing my usual picky self, but I played the whole thing and found myself nodding my head and tapping my feet and repeatedly smiling over and over. Not just passively or complacently, I was rocking the fuck out. I was so psyched! I listened to it twice, which is a rarity, and when interupted by phone calls would start the song over so I could hear the whole thing from beginning. I felt the songs just deserved that kind of attention. All this after thinking it wasnt that great. I put it on my iPod this morning and listened to it at least 5 times today (even more rare), restarting songs when interupted just because they sounded so good, and so full of detail, and warmth, and love of the craft.. The atmospheres are airy and propulsive at the same time and the drumming is seriously top-notch. There are both male and female vocals, often singing together and weaving in and out of each other. The Most Serene Republic is a holy union and could easily remain as addictive as it is right at this very moment. Charlatantric, you were right.

Now the details: the band is from Ontario, Canada, they function as a six piece and have previously released one full length record named Underwater Cinematographer, which I think I may have to look into one more time. They are signed to a cool label, Arts & Crafts, and to top it all off they are a handsome bunch. The only problem I can forsee is that I am probably gonna play this record out in a week if I keep listening to it so much.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart... (2006)

pw -

This album shook me right out of my seat when the first bass lines rips open. From there, I was completely entranced. I knew I was hearing a record of vast proportions, and having not been a huge fan of At the Soundless Dawn, I was pleasantly suprised to like this record that much more. A quick recap for anyone who would like to know: Red Sparowes is members of Isis and Neurosis, though that does little to describe their sound. While both thos previous bands have broke out the Post-Rock on their more recent records, Red Sparowes came fully formed as an answer to the black hole that Godspeed You! Black Emperor left in the instrumental world. And with Every Red Heart, its a telling sign that the shoes have been filled and actually expanded quite a bit. Now dont get your skirt all wrinkled, I am not saying that Red Sparowes is better than Godspeed. In fact, they are different, sharing quite a bit of the bombast that their parent bands are known for, but reaching farther and encompassing a variety of different sounds. Some are dark and foreboding, others are dusty and expansive, like hitch hiking through the desert as sand storms threaten to tear you away from your mission. The theme of political upheaval in China is merely a guide for a more consistent and larger view of the struggles we all face each and every day; to follow blindly or to choose how to live for ourselves. The track titles read as a poem, in which you can glean the basic ideas set forth for each song, though darkness and light are the most obvious feelings one might get from listening to these songs. There is no doubt though, Red Sparowes are in it for the win and we will see alot of bands try to top this record.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bucket Full Of Teeth

Bucket Full of Teeth were kind of an anomaly in the hardcore scene. It seems they barely even cared at all, as they willingly whip through just about every kind of agressive music you can think of, mostly in 30 second segments, often bleeding into a short ambient passage that can prove to be either spooky or dreamy, and sometimes both.
A few minutes of listening to any of the first three 7"s (appropriately tiled to create the full artwork below) will take you from blast beat oriented power violence with slashing and zig zagging guitars to a subterranean doom metal riff that gradualy builds steam into a swirling, albeit, jagged stoner rock mini epic, landing you squarely into a war cry of tech death metal in the style of Converge, kick your head in with a few more spastic blast beats and grind a la Orchid (after all, the two major contributing members were Orchids guitarist and bassist) and last but not least leaving you on a spacy signal transmission, all Brian Eno ambience and Sunn 0))) darkness.
Considering most of the songs last less than a minute, youre guaranteed a wild ride through some of the more inventive agressive music of the past decade. The fourth and final album, is a realization of the aformentioned styles and composed with more grace and a better production. But my moneys still on the first three records.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Figurines - Skeleton (2006)

Fun, fun, fun. That is what Denmarks Figurines are all about. The songs are simple, energetic, honest and quirky and reminscent of so many good bands in the northwest indie rock scene that you forgive them for wearing their influences on their sleeve. Plus they are catchy as hell. The album as a whole is balanced between mid tempo rockers with some adept guitar playing and heartfelt melodies and faster rock and roll burners that offer just enough in the way of complexity to keep you interested til they deliver on some killer chorus hooks. Each song follows this pattern of beginning with a simple riff and you almost want to call out the influence, but then you get to the chorus and you notice you are tapping your feet just waiting for that next verse to start. Catchy has always been a rough term, as what is empircally catchy is often bastardized and sold for mass consumption, but every so often a band embraces the catchiness with an honesty and youthfulness that makes you remember why you liked rock music in the first place. Figurines have done just that, even to the extent they had the Bowery Ballroom entranced with their '06 live show, nodding heads and giving much cheer and praise. With such charming songwriting and stage presence as Figurines contain I hope we see more from them in the future.

Gregor Samsa - 55:12 (2006)

Gregor Samsa have given us a reason to be sad. If only there were so many beautiful reasons to be as sad as Gregor Samsa the world could be a lonely, introspective place instead of the warring factions ot has become. Seriously though, 55:12 makes being sad seem wonderful. Virgina based Gregor Samsa haunt and lurk on the fringes of conscious imagination, delivering slow langourious swells of dripping darkness. With their delicate vocal delivery and melting shoegaze symphony they convince the listener that its okay to feel their sadness. It is the sadness of life and change, the natural flow and balance of all things. A bittersweet emotion and one that will likely have any listeners attention as it is so relatable to human emotion and the subtle delivery makes it all the more easy to slip into. The pairing of male and female vocals provides a balance in aural textures and rightly so, different textures to the emotions present in each song. If you need some coaxing Even Numbers and Young and Old are two very good examples of why this band is so weepingly beautiful.

Gregor Samsa - 27:36 (2003)

And with roots such as these it is obvious how Gregor Samsa could become the great band thay have become. Lasting exactly 27:36 minutes, this debut EP will serve you a luscious helping of melancholy and desire to feed your senses.

Destroyer's Rubies (2006)

Offically one of the best records of the recently passed year, and one of the best records in my collection. Destroyer's Rubies manages to breed an earthly warmth and a subtle abstract poetic nature as to be lovely and rooted as well as dreamy and obtuse, always fluttering just on the edge of focus but retaining clear links to the human psyche. The themes of creation themselves, both on a personal and a spirtual level are prevalent, as well as the search for beauty, whether Dan Bejar intended or not. And with such a well crafted album, how could one not be so entrenched in the creation aspect as to not somehow pay reverence to the power of creation itself and the path itself, both in song and lyric? Dan Bejar reaches to the heavens with a lofty yet clattering orchestral swell to carry his homely folk tunes giving Rubies both its utterly human honesty and the soaring potential of human will.
Clearly Destroyer has given us a gem.