Between Two Unseens
(Goodfellow Records); 2004
"All good things must come to an end."
That statement not only rings true with this fine E.P., but with the band itself - seeing as Taken disbanded about two months ago. I guess mind blowing would be the most appropriate way to describe the final studio recordings of this So-Cal hardcore quintet.
The atmosphere that "Between Two Unseens" seeps is ridiculous to say the least. And the emotion emitting out of it, my god, it could bring even the toughest of men to tears. "I embrace this feeling where nothing else seems real".. . just listen to it, you will see what I mean Did I mention that the song writing is solider than a fucking brick wall? And the sincerity coming out of Ray, their vocalist, is enough incentive to pick this masterpiece up.
It's just a damn shame that on the eve of their greatest triumph, one of the most underrated and over looked bands called it quits.
( Kemado ) 2005
Like a sack of perished kittens, and the hyena feeling fits of hunger - Tarantula AD's Atlantic is both a somber and grizzly scene. You may claim you've heard a band use the cello as a weapon, but I beg to fist-fight that Tarantula AD (the AD was recently added after a minor battle over the name) are doing justice for the oversized beast. With just 5 songs on this initial ep, you'll get to the end wishing there were 15 - each track as important and interesting as the previous.. . nothing on this 22-minute disc will translate into wasted time.
"Grazie Signore" opens us nice and slow, like the shadow that begs to consume you, with a set of strings and drums that unveils a snarl the size of a Mastodon - setting the pace for this incredible set of songs. Gentle then chaotic - at times weeping until the sadness reverses into oblivion, by the 5 minute mark on the opener you'll swear a demon (or bear, or albatross) has entered the studio and set forth rapture upon all who occupies it. Should you make it to the closer, "Love Cherries", whilst drying your eyes from the bipolar moments that have just passed, you find blood staining your tears - Tarantula AD have called upon you.
Piano ("France Atlantic"), cello, violin, dueling guitars and drums (both on "La Casa Blanca" - you think these cats are Italiano?) - Tarantula AD speak more on this instrumental EP than a lecture on [insert wisdom speech] any day.
We like to save the term "epic" for scarce moments like Atlantic so it doesn't stray from its untainted meaning. Recorded, produced and mixed by the band themselves (added one Sir Tom Clapp to the mix) - what the hell could stop this band of sword & anchor-wielders from taking over the square planet we reside? Exactly - not a goddamn thing! You can't make this kind of shit up - Kemado, we forgive you wholly for dealing us The Fever.
We Move Through Weather
( Temporary Residence ) 2004
This is not to say this album isn't droney, or repetitive, as it is very much those things; some of these songs are built on one simple drum beat repeated ad infinitum. But it's what's going on aside from the beat that keeps your mind from wandering away to what you're going to buy at the grocery store, or composing an e-mail to your girlfriend. As much as the drums might be doing the same damn thing over and over and over, the rest of the sounds adamantly refuse to be nailed down, fluttering in here, tromping up and down over there, and then bleeding all over the place right in front of you. And then there's the bass clarinet, which automatically makes almost any recording about 100 times cooler.
I have to admit to an almost complete ignorance of Tarantel's other output, so I can't claim whether any of the songs on We Move through Weather are more indicative of their previous sound than any of the others, but there are some that work for me better than others. As interesting as the weird instruments and noodling are, the band seems more comfortable when working with the basics of the musical vocabulary - guitar, bass, piano, drums - and bending it to their own wills. The songs where they let their pieces become more like songs (replete with chord changes and dynamics), like "Bump past, cut up through windows" and "A cloud no bigger than a man's hand," are the ones that work best for me. It feels less like a bunch of guys getting high and screwing around with a bunch of weird equipment, and more like beautiful music.
Lee Klein 07.29.05
( Saddle-Creek ) 2005
"And let our legs just run, no concept of distance. And all the rules we've learned could make no difference. "
There may be no other album in 2005 that has struck me with such a blinding blow as Maria Taylor's 11:11. Always having been a fan of Azure Ray (the duo of which Maria is joined by Orenda Fink) since the introduction of 2001's Azure Ray (WARM) - I was prepared & excited for the enchanting trademark Maria's vocals possess. This album has outdone anything Azure Ray have released over their brief yet successful 5-year existence.
Working with two of the most talented young producers / artists of our time (Mike Mogis & Andy LeMaster, resp.), as well as being on the most influential independent label (Saddle Creek) - Maria was heading into this project favorably, and my how she has come out with ten essential tracks that make one of the select albums I suggest you do not miss this year.
"Leap Year" begins 11:11, and sets the pace for a slightly more upbeat, electronic approach to what we have come to expect from Azure Ray, and the addition of a limited cast of Saddle Creek all-stars (Gretta Cohn on many tracks, Mogis also lends his mandolin & pedal steel that made Fevers and Mirrors the cornerstone it is today) carries this album throughout. It is, however, the turning point on the album in "One for the Shareholder" that will leave you stunned, awed and claiming that Maria and Mike Mogis have made a cleverly daring and immediately brilliant choice in putting this track mid-album. With a stark, intense under beat that sounds like Mogis may have robbed the Faint of one of their best outtakes (this programming is superb!), should "One for the Shareholder" ever make it to modern radio - all the solo vixens of now need to hide out for a solid season. Written and programmed entirely by Mogis, Maria's delivery on this lone track is enough to put 11:11 in the upper-tier for 2005 - but it's the surrounding diversity that makes her solo-outing something not to be missed or shunned. ".. Shareholder" is book ended by instant classics "Light House" and the delicate, obsessive-compulsive-anthemed "Xanax" - both with Maria on acoustic guitar. This young lady may just be "taking a break" from her main outfit in Azure Ray - but by the sounds captured here, she can pretty much move anywhere she cares on the board and make it sound perfect. Just look at "Song Beneath the Song", where she is credited with vocals, piano, guitar and drums. In the voice of Napoleon Dynamite: "Yessssss".
I must add, near closer "Speak Easy" transforms to another realm completely with addition of banjo and upright bass - the captured feel sounds like it belongs on a vinyl 78 or on Verve (Lady in Autumn, Billie Holiday-era). 11:11 showcases an obviously talented young woman doing just what she was meant to do.
5 full stars out of 5 if we did such thing.
: k 11.11.11:11
Temporary Residence 50 / TRR50
(Temporary Residence ); 2004
Temporary Residence is one of a very few labels who you can depend on delivering a wide gamut of sounds throughout the roster, rather than holding to one particular genre. Lucky for the listener, TR have reached a plateau of celebratory proportions: release number Fifty. To celebrate, they have gathered a handful of exclusive tunes from the Temp roster as well as friends & companions made along the way, and placed them all in a format we the listener can enjoy - the compact disc.
The music we shall get to in just a moment - but I must say the (24 page) booklets artwork, which is a joyful collection of friends and listener submitted designs, is a grand time in itself. See it, hold it & smell it while you enjoy the audibles I shall now describe:
Things get off to a lush & spaced beginning, with Fridge giving their best clicks and shuffles atop (or is it below?) a slightly confused womans vocal remnants. Think the first few tracks of Mum's 'Yesterday Was Dramatic... ', and this track would settle nicely along side any chosen one. Howard Hello delivers the next keeper, a slow burner by the name of 'The One' that incorporates a lone acoustic guitar before developing into a journey of full instrumentation. kWh, still trying to catch-up on all the positive press their latest split with the Rum Diary has received, show that they too have much left to accomplish with 'Jignauseum'. Enlisting the help of JDV (the Jeremy deVine, I presume) they submit a stunning, "metallic" instrumental to the compilation.
The background is where the wild things are on the Tarentel offering, hidden deep in the nature of "Bell Jar" - an 8 minute jaunt that bring to mind composed noise-giants Timomium. Rumah Sakit still owns the rights to being one of TR's loudest artists, and the enormously live version of "I Can't See Anything When I Close My Eyes" captures the emotional frenzy these fellas release. A big selling-point, and one of the more recognizable artists (whether you have actually heard them or not, you have heard about them - and you need to hear them) on the eleven song offering is Explosions in the Sky. A quiet little gemstone they drop entitled "The Long Spring" again leads me to believe that anything positive written about these guys can be proved just by listening or witnessing them on stage. A stunning track (noted as being recorded on the banks of the Colorado River.. . mysterious be the Explosions. ..) that should dissapoint only those who agree with positive press & the strokes in equal sentences. Shame on me for not being familiar with Kammerflimmer Kollektief, but my first listen being in the shape of "Eiderdaunen" leaves a grand impression on the brain. A shadowy upright bass, sprinkles of drumming and slide are accompanied by strings of noise that make Temporary Residence totally seem like the right home for their art. By this point, if you - the listener - have not heard at least one track that perks your interest, the final four are here to seal the deal. Xian Hawkins, known is musical ciruits as Sybarite, impressively dashes out the aptly tagged "Killing The Moonshine", that in no way references any Bunnymen, nor Echoes. This is the kind of track you wish accompanied you throughout an entire evening of endless driving. The boys from Parlour stomp through a gritty beast of a song they have decided shall carry the moniker "Landlaked". I can almost assure you, and still sleep well tonight, that Parlour make good noise [see: Googler]. Only one of two non-electronic vocal tracks in the set comes by way of Halifax Pier, another band I am hearing for the first time (and am ever-so thankful). "And California" takes all the right elements out of a scene containing: 1) a late 1960's Impala (convertible) on the open road. 2) fourth day of spring. 3) crisp morning air. 4) in Modesto, California. 5) CSNY's 'So Far' is in the deck - and places them into words. You, in most cases, may hear a slighlty different location - but I'm pretty damn sure it's still on the west coast.
Now - as we approach our destination - could there be a more fitting name and compositon for the final track? Sonna releases a 9-plus minute poison by the name of "The Closer" that is so borderline fragile, you may just hear you heart melting if you're not careful. Captured to tape by one Steve Albini (that one Chunklet issue comes to mind), this final instrumental leaves no doubt to the talent the Temporary "Residents" possess.
Eight years in, it sounds like this machine is just getting warmed up. Congrats on the 50.+ k ::(04.07.04)>>>visit T R <<<
Lowest of the Low
( Bridge Nine ); 2003
' what is it like to choke on every word you said. what is it like to shit on everything you had? lowest of the low. ' What happens when two of hardcore's hardest hitters fall? ... Terror. Lowest of the Low is Terror's debut album on the infamous Bridge Nine Records. Who have such notable releases under their belt as ... Panic, Striking Distance, and Give Up The Ghost, who didn't expect another amazing release from them? This album is the catchiest thing to come in plastic form since the spork. Short and to the point, the album delivers a couple spinkicks, windmills and punches to take out more people than you could see in a pit. If this album doesn't have you moving in your seat, you need to check your hearing. These aren't just songs, these are anthems. Anthems of trust, and friendship. Anthems to kick the siht ouf of the guy next to you. Ahhhhh the breakdowns . .. ...
The Ghost and the Eyes with Trees in the Ground Outside the Window
( States Rights : Slender Means Society ) 2005
Adrian Orange is making the most eventful, fragile and monumental music I'm hearing in these days we call the present. I give my thanks to those who offer to release his songs (Marriage Records, States Rights Records) - we all shall soon meet in a dim corner and commence witching over cauldrons of absinthe.
On record, Sir A. Orange performs under the handle Thanksgiving - a name the converted may remember from his last full release Welcome / Nowhere that was just as delightful to hear as it was to see & hold (12" vinyl in custom second-hand sleeve.. .). Again, Phil Elverum is on hand to do his thing (these songs actually pre-date those of Welcome) - and the things are done well. Here we are met with a dual set of albums The Ghost and the Eyes and Trees in the Ground Outside the Window - part 2 of the ongoing embryonic series putforth by States Rights Records. The event is hosted by Mister Orange and his clever legion of handclaps and double-tracked vocals - and just like previous releases we are instructed to darken the room and focus our eyes on the sounds that creep from the speakers. "There's No Invisible Halloween Costume That Isn't There" briefly tosses in a rustic horn section that moves across the player like a steamboat hell-bent on making Adrian's music heard. I've heard it, I hear it and I patiently listen for it.
If all we need is love, think of each and every Thanksgiving album as the warm, vibrant heart of a humble whale that nests inside our sleep deprived minds. Released into the human-infested wild in a trunkload batch of 700 items only (first delivery from the Blow is long gone!), these hand-sewn articles are for the interested few who have earned it. Keep'yer searching for the next Dylan - I'm comfortable right here.
Welcome / Nowhere
( Marriage Records | PWE & Sun) 2004
"I want to be welcome so I accept that I live in the world that I'm living in"
Settle 'round my small s'more flame there sportsman, as I prepare to tell of the kindest, warmest & damn-near most spectacular album I heard all of the year that was two-thousand and four.
The band is Thanksgiving, and the album of spoken praise is Welcome / Nowhere - a blinding delight of one Adrian Orange joined by an eerie cast of faithful fellows (Phil Elverum, Alex Church.. .) and young beauties (Geneviéve Elverum, Meghan Crotty.. .).
Welcome / Nowhere begins just as it will swell and subside (for the most part), with the monotone somberness of Sir A. Orange and his trustworthy acoustic, as this team simmers like morning embers on the last eve's woodfire. "Welcome", "Just Ice" and "Money" - the first three compositions on the album (which, now may be a good time to tell, is on 12" white vinyl - more later*) blend like one glorious track. If you are not keeping watch of the needle, you will likely take these 3 for one lone, desperate stream of amazement.. . you will likely show this emotion no matter what side of the vinyl you are on. "Just Ice", more so than the surrounding tracks, plays like there may have been some double-tracking at certain points - yet still just Adrian and his acoustic. "Money" is where the album begins it's travel down the path that will have you in total awe - lights out, sitting in your rocker at hours past midnight humming along with the Microphones-like chorus of angels. This track is also the first chance you may have to absorb the true authenticity of Thanksgiving's lyrical content: "And I will spend my life this way until it's gone / on the coldest, vastest night / with a waterfall in my spine / and watch the water roll off me". Follower "Don't be afraid" travels back to the signpost that points to only Adrian and his guitar, for now you are certainly perked for all that he will give for the remainder of Welcome / Nowhere. I fear I am rambling, and I know that my words cannot even begin to transfer the beauty this near 40-minute album contains and reveals - listen after listen after listen.. . "Get Married", final track for the A-side (and a true chunk of brilliance), comes as close as Thanksgiving does to the land worshiped by Will Oldham and his many "noms de Tren" - a comparison that will likely be made, however it's Adrian's ability to cast lyrics worth reading alone as poetry that surpasses Oldham. "Get Married" also features that Microphones-esque chorus ( I did tell you the Elverum's are credited, right? Phil produced this kitten), slightly reminiscent of the quieter moments on "the Glow" (from 'It Was Hot We Stayed In the Water'). Positively one of the better sides of an album since the Beatles packed all that genius into side 1 of the White Album - I'm not joking, so please remove the puzzled smile from your face.
The B-side is where the logic furthers itself from anything you have heard of recent, past or likely ever again. Tracks six through ten are a touch more distinguished - in that they add other instrumentation not on side A like a simple set of drums ("Nowhere"), random beats / electronics and a steel drum ("Hoo Hoo I Am, Wildly") . Flipside opener "Nowhere" continues to awe with the albums undeniable theme that 'cold & stark is the emotion we bring forth'. "Seasons, Years" is where we are introduced to a small background of ambiance while Mr. Orange takes over unaccompanied by any other instruments - even his faithful acoustic has been cast aside and we can (again) truly admire the wealth his lyrics contain. Things come to a close with the combined eight minute "Home Alone" and "Home Alone 2", where each instrument (steel drum, percussion and all) and companion in song seems to somehow make their way in somewhere.. . somehow. There is even a deep-voiced under-vocal on choice lyrical content such as: "All things will be a mystery to you, man / You'll never have a fucking clue". What better to save and complete an album as stark and equally mesmerizing as Welcome / Nowhere. Being clueless never felt so rewarding.
Vitals*: The album is packaged with a handwritten / drawn lyric booklet that also has pages that, as instructed by A. Orange, are to be watercolored "paint by numbers style". The 2-color cover is screened on the inside of 'recycled' thrift-store album covers, such as Tennessee Ernie Ford's All-Time Favorite Hymns.. at least that's who I got. This is also credited as the first release on P.W. Elverum & Sun ltd. Records [ELV 000], better known as Phil of The (previously stated) Microphones. There is nothing about this record that you should be the least bit unsatisfied with - I've even transferred mine to cd-r so I can take it everywhere.
A-fucking plus! Portland-via-Anacortes for life.
+ k 12.14.04
( Marriage Records | Hive-Fi Recordings ) 2004
"I burn the candle at both ends - and I have to hold it the whole time".
told my psyche I wanted to start working backwards into the Thanksgiving
- she tuned me out. Locked me right out of the thought sector. She really
(emphasis; heavy) likes Adrian Orange.
track, "Look at Yourself", actually gets 'Seattle in the early
nineties' fuzzed at special moments, and it's flippin' fantastic. Are
we still asking ourselves questions?
certainly shows the pattern that eventually brought the faithful Welcome
/ Nowhere and the 'now' selection (see Caves
Days Moments) of timeless albums, and is required summer listening
for anyone calling themselves my friend. Pop quiz on saturday - knw
THEATH / Everything Is Fine
Golden Morning Feel ep / Cold Hands EP
( Tract ) 2004
Quite the contrast we have in this split release from Indiana's Tract Records - four songs from THEATH, Tract label commander Thomas Heath and four from atmospheric outfit Everything Is Fine.
THEATH straddles the line between the likes of Dongs of Sevotion-era Smog (see: 'golden morning feel') and those cast by Califone or many of the Perishable likes (see: 'curse down'). Minimal acoustic arrangements and the capture of "found sounds" (be it birds or variable white noise) are accented by Heath's somber vocals & lethargic delivery.
Everything is Fine, here slimmed down to EiF frontman Marc Manning "solo", craft a wondrous swirl of (a word I use sparingly, it often makes me cringe) ambiance. Yes there are vocals, but they are layered between the instrumentation, of which is a glorious treat. The 7-plus minute instrumental 'mt. rebus' brings to mind yo la tengo's 'out of tune', while the ethereal vibe of 'streetlights' may remind you of the Zephyrs or Slowdive. All said - the contrast between THEATH & EiF is one that works quite well, even though the two are traveling quite varied paths.
A Summer She Has Never Been, A Winter She Fears
(Lo | Hub100 ) 2004
Patience, dear boy - Theodore has come to fill the mind with tranquil treasures. Relax.
Opening seaside serenade aptly titled "I dreamt I was throwing stones at the sea" will get you in the lazy position just as "no spring" and her layers of various strings (think Future Bible Heroes "Death Opened A Boutique") sweep you into another stratosphere entirely. Each of the sixteen tweaked & atmospheric compositions on 'A Summer She Has Never Been, A Winter She Fears' should be received through a comfortable set of headphones, as there are the most important details that may be lost to stubborn white noise that plagues the cities (hear: "she speaks mellifluously of kings and poets"). Remain.
Dear boy, as we need to part ways for the sun is bidding it's fare-thee-well, if I have yet to convince you that Theodore is worthy of the search - my job is yet to be done. If you, by probable chance, ever hoped to awake in the soundscape of a submarine passing slowly through the night sky, atop a carnival that never rests (see: "montmarte") - now is your chance to get as close as humanly possible. "Symphony for Toys" would have been just as perfect a title for this series of intelligent clicks as a single song name. Rejoice.
+ k :: (09.13.04)
( A&M Records); 1998
Natives of Ireland, Therapy? Have been making records for a little over 10 years now and your average joe wouldn't know who the hell you were talking about if mentioning them in a general conversation. Although I'm a bigger fan of the following two albums of this ( Semi-Detached, Suicide Pact. You First ) and the previous ( Troublegum ), Infernal Love doesn't stray too far from the sound I know and love. Comparisons such as Filter and any Mike Patton project come to mind when first listening. Pure rock and fucking roll. Therapy? have that classic rock and metal sound that even your tree hugging hippy dad could listen too. Fast paced tracks like"Epilepsy" and "Loose" keep this album moving along during its duller moments. But the sound that comes out of the majority of the tracks makes you wonder, where was all the exposure this band should have recieved? Although their sound is extremely marketable, I love it none the less ... So if you're looking for something in between a grunge and metal band, pick up a copy of just about any of Therapy?'s releases.
Thee More Shallows
More Deep Cuts
( Turn Records ) 2005
In the brief thanks ("enablers") on Thee More Shallows TURN debut More Deep Cuts, the band highlight 4 'qualities': vanity, mania, delusion and self-abuse. Whatever it takes to fabricate an album as impressive as More Deep Cuts, I say do it.
Garnering praise from both the UK (Mojo, Time Out London) and the scenester-infested US clique (maybe you just haven't realized), Thee More Shallows has finally seen her release on home soil in California. An amazing album this is, pulling so many influences and triggering just as many changes on record that More Deep Cuts will in fact keep you guessing, all while stealing your heart and leaving you incredibly fulfilled. Opener "Post-Present" is a 90-second uptempo 808-esque briefer that flows directly into the bare-beat of "Pre-Present" - the two songs as extreme alter-egos as the titles themselves. It's quite obvious from the start that TMS, while serving you lemonade and offering you a comfortable seat, aren't allowing you to get situated for too long.. . and it's wonderful. As if the band is calling "Come you, dance with us!.. . now, we want to make you weep".
Single of the year, "2am", is an absurdly infectious anthem of tiny piano (channeling a xylophone), a wealth of wonderful percussion and sonic bass that - when in direct line with vocalist Dee Kesler and a chorus of partners - will find you in you streets, knocking on doors and spreading the gospel that is Thee More Shallows. Though it is not the first time you will feel Odessa Chen's angelic touch on More Deep Cuts, "Walk of Shame" and the delicate twilights (also a brushed snare, an acoustic and a faint violin) that follow behind her and Kesler reveal just how perfect this young lady's voice is.
I absolutely love this album and Turn Records for making it happen. I'd like to present the blackened beast that is Congress with my proposition: A copy of More Deep Cuts for every household in America. We all need this.
+ k 8.03.04
Our Worlds Divorce
( Rocketstar ) 2004
"but oh god - everybody's got something for me to do, and my head's filled with thoughts of everything but you"
This Providence remind me heavily of how I felt when I first heard My Hotel Year (back in 2001) with 'Composition of Ending & Phrasing' - and the fact that singer Dan Young can, at times, belt out a line a-la Tim Kasher in Cursive-mode takes 'our worlds divorce' to another level. This entire band is obviously frenzied with desire - taking the hungry listener, yearning for infectious and early Anniversary-like (see: "Truth and Reconciliation") passion and feed you brilliantly. Like the past 3 or 4 years of shit-rock haven't been happening, 'our worlds divorce' see a young band returning to a time when music made sense.. . understand?
No matter what band you talk to and how they may paste a curse on MTV or TRL, it's with sincere honesty I say that the corrupt 6 or 7 videos-a-day outlets could use a punch in the head like "Best Wishes" or "Certain Words In Uncertain Times".
it loud and leave no track unheard.. . "best wishes".
+ k 11.17.04
So Much For the City
( Virgin ); 2003
"My agent says writers block, to keep publishers off my back / So who the hell are you to come in here and spoil my party?"
Two suraface things you could hold against The Thrills: One is that they have that abused 21st century "The" before their name. Two: The Thrills are on a major label (Virgin) and they also have that "The" before their name. But let's give them a listen. My Mom clued me into The Thrills a couple of months back, and she's pretty hip when it comes to what I like musically. She is always reminding me when Supergrass are going to be on late night TV shows, has an infatuation with Howard Stern & has been in love with The Cure since they crossed county lines. Yeah - my Mom is cool. The Thrills are cool too - but on to this much talked about debut album on Virgin. I don't think it really happened this way, but by the time you reach "Deckchairs and Cigarettes", the fourth track on this album, you begin to think some major US executive at Virgin handed these 5 Dublin boy's a map of "Sunny California - Home of Superstars & Huge Waves" and said "write a handful of ditties about the Pacific & these coastal cities, ok? You're gonna be HUGE in America! Let's fly you all back here to LA and lay down some peppy tunes the kids can surf to by day & dance campfire-side on the sand to by night." These are the same string-pullers who got clearance for the band to incorporate lyrics and rhythm from the theme to "The Monkees" on their first single "Big Sur". As far as overall originallity, I think this type of thing has been done before - by some band.. . um, who was it? California ocean boys, I think there were some brothers in the band - 1960's.. . oh well, later maybe. Think the 'Beachwood Sparks' song "This Is What It Feels Like" and you're getting close. On the band tip, The Thrills play great, catchy music that is very memorable and "la-la-la"-ish, in a similar vein to SubPop favorites The Shins (I had to say it, didn't I). Lead man Conor Deasys got this incredible voice that, on particular non-beachy tunes like the impressive 'Hollywood Kids' and 'Just Travelling Through', is finally given the opportunity to shine. Very Neil Young / Mark Linkous like - If only the entire album sounded this sweet. Daniel Ryan's banjo also adds a pleasant touch, and even though it's all throughout "So Much For the City", it's on the less poppy tunes that it sounds truly in place. So they may not be the first band to try this type of sound, but for a debut album - and major label debut at that - The Thrills sure are a refreshing sound to what we have been bombarded with over the past couple of years. This is the music of road trips & ocean breezes, but as far as America's new favourite band - only time, California & Arnold will tell.
Are You With Me?
( Back Porch ) 2004
roots music phenom has produced some swell revivals (in the "popular"
sense) and hybrids, and a lot a limp, pseudo-down-home jizz. One vector
of American roots music that hasnıt been explored/exploited is Southern
R&B/soul maybe because some people (who aren't young, white & pretty,
though a few are) have been doing it all along. Which brings us to..
- Mark Keresman :: (08.22.04)
.. . "so this song......GOES OUT TO FRUIT SALAD!" Behold! The testament by which every straight-edge thrashing disciple will hold their inner-beliefs too. Throwdown bring you their greatest offering yet,"Haymaker", through their Trustkill debut. And Haymaker lives up to it's name: with more parts to punch, kick and dance to than Billy Banks has Tae-Bo moves, you better believe everyone within 20-30 feet of the stage won't be standing still. Though shows will look alittle different among old-school Throwdown fans with a change in the bands scenery, there has yet to be a "permanent" drummer found, and David Peters and Keith Barney switching duties,trading guitar for vocals. In a seamless manner, David Peters picks up right where Keith left off, delivering the message with more passion and emotion than a southern Baptist preacher. Telling it like it is, he proclaims how friends, family and inner-strength are what he lives and dies for ("Never back down" "You can't kill intergrity" "Forever"). But it's not all about the man behind the mic. David Peters tries his hand at group counciling as he preaches to the listener about staying true to yourself ("Declare Your War") your friends ("Slip") and defying all oods to overcome anything ("Hate for the weak" "The only thing"). Speaking on "The only thing", Chad Gilbert of Shai Hulud and currently New Found Glory fame lends his guitar and vocals to the mix. During which, Chad and David switch off more times than a fast-paced porno. With that, Throwdown have delivered everything a hardcore fanatic could ask for: Breakdowns everywhere, shout-a-long choruses, and deep growling vocals to ignite any pit. Haymaker has certainly and instantaneously become a staple in any Hardcore kids collection and a Bible to their life's testimony.
I Will Return
( jtillmanmusic ) 2004
Turn off the lights, make sure no appliances are running (except the player that is twirling this gem) and advise your flatmates to spare you at least a half-hour before interrupting you. This is to allow your soul the comfortable margin needed to absorb the hushed spirit that J. Tillman's "I Will Return" does rightfully possess.
A delicate whisper of a voice is that of Josh Tillman, accompanied mostly by only his gentle acoustic and oft a distant piano (on "cecile, my love") or the equally magnificent accompanying cello, thanks to Phil Peterson (on "cecile.. " as well as opener "Lilac Hem"). This is the soundtrack to the first snow of the season - or for that matter the sound of most things beautiful. If, while listening to an intimate composition like "Your Mother's Heart", complete with banjo, you are drawn to compare J. Tillman to such timeless legends as Nick Drake circa-"River Man" (and, yes, Josh rightfully deserves this comparison - period.) or today's folk-spirit bearer Sam Beam* - you, my agreeable listener, are not alone. Recorded with Eric Fisher (Damien Jurado "cohort", Rosie Thomas) - "I Will Return" captures the sincere emotion that makes each of this albums nine songs suspend in the air around you like audible magic, the big dance of all dances.
It might not be a bad idea to just take the entire day off and let this album work it's healing magic - a saving grace in the sad day we are subject to with modern rubbish passing as song. Hard to get the mind to imagine this is the same gent that destroys the drumset in the vein of Keith Moon, minus the pyrotechnics. Amazing.
* Bear in mind - it is by far lazy and overly common to compare (nowadays) a quiet man & his delicate guitar to those of the past (Nick Drake, early Dylan) or today's leaders of the tradition (Iron & Wine, Dolorean) - but we as sctas, and I as a writer, will never namecheck for the sake of artist recognition. J. Tillman has crafted an instantly impressionable debut with "I Will Return".
Until He Finds Us
Despite sometimes long distances between members of the group, Timonium has been chugging along for a much longer amount of time than most bands could even think of staying together. Over the course of 9 years, they've put out several releases while for the most part working day jobs on top of that. Singer/guitarist Adam Hervey has even put together an enviable slew of releases out under his Pehr label and even will all of the above factors and distractions the group just seems to get more and more focused and strong with each release.
Until He Finds Us is the third full-length from the group and it's steps beyond their last release Resist Education. While that disc found the quartet (and sometimes trio) exploring more ambient realms and even bringing in some electronic effects, this newest release is sort of a back to the basics effort, but it's by no means simplistic. Instead, the group makes more use of tempo and dynamic shifts and the heavenly male/female vocal combination of singer Hervey and Tracy Uba.
The disc opens with a nearly perfect 3 minutes in "Populations." It builds slowly with the vocals of Uba over the steady marching of drums before the end of track lets loose with a controlled explosion. "Red Pawn" starts out in super slowcore ville, trudging along with call and response vocals from Uba and Hervey before it falls off the edge of a cliff and into a jangling, rocking middle section before again closing out with a vocal-driven section. "Filamented" weaves back and forth like almost a waltz before locking into step and might be one of the loudest tracks that the group has done to date.
Even the longer tracks on Until He Finds Us work quite well for the most part. "Across The Footlights" builds with a restrained patience that rewards in spades during an almost celebratory closing third. Like other groups that inhabit similar musical territory (like Low), Timonium has learned to make small things count for a lot. Something as small as a change in guitar tone during a bridge or a subtle tempo change mean a lot and over the course of 9 tracks and 45 minutes, the release keeps you guessing enough to keep things interesting. When you add to it that the group is also at their loudest (and dare I say even 'rocking' at times) on this release, and it makes for what is easily their best overall effort to date.
Rating: 7.5aaron ::(12.19.03)
[ demos! email the band - they want you to! ]
( tomihira )
Sometimes when you're checking out new music online, it takes quite a lot of digging and link-clicking before you really hear something that catches your attention. My streak of mediocre discoveries came to an end upon finding San Francisco-based band Tomihira.
Named after lead vocalist Dean Tomihira's grandfather, this outfit creates beautiful and solid melodies in the same vein as bands such as Ester Drang, but with a more noticeable air of melancholy. "Pillbox" starts off with the simple tapping of cymbals, but the song quickly comes together as guitar gently emerges from the background accompanied by smooth vocals. But don't let the pleasant tune fool you - the dark lyrics reveal an underlying sense of frustration and despair. In the second track, "Maddy and Josh" opens with an ominous (almost sinister) sound that leads into a song that maintains its feeling of gloom and holds onto elements of pop at the same time. This is the beauty of Tomihira, they have successfully created songs with a darker edge infused with the right amount of pop, resulting in a nicely layered sound. So - if you enjoy good music - do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy of their CD, grab a pair of headphones and appreciate the moody, pleasant tunes that Tomihira has to offer.
( FILMguerrero ), 2004
It is a fact: I need to read more. Reality television is the new novel - or at least that's what the preacher says.
Tracker's (John Askew) Blankets is the audible accompaniment to writer / illustrator Craig Thompson's latest novel of the same title, and needless to say - the music is as sweet as the black & blue teaser art that surrounds the disc. The recording opens up with a blend of whispery guitars that could serve as both the start to a perfect day on the sea or counting similar snowflakes in the winter. The fact that there is a story that inspired this serene collection of songs is a wondeful illusion in itself, but what resonates from the speakers is quite enough to set the mind at ease (again I try to avoid the textual dillema).
Joined by a talented cast of musicians -and guest vocals on 'Everything is Beautiful', where John is joined by Richmond Fontaine's Willy Vlautin, Askew and friends lead these recordings in all the right directions. Be it subtle horns (hear: 'Static') or the "heavier" moments like 'F! is for FILTH!", with it's multi-brass and full percussion vibes - Blankets will . By far an album to allow it's carefully layered depths to surround you - this is as much a needed break from what you have been exposed to as it is an overdue breath of wintry air.
Bonus:: the website is as elegant & modern as I have ever seen, and the links to oust "the man" should be clicked by everyone reading this. My name is kaleb and I approved this album.
A Kind Of Closure
"There's better ways, to spend my days, than waste my life . . on you". Upon first listen to 'A Kind of Closure', you may think the male / female vocals of the North London duo Tram are some of the most beautifully textured voices you have heard in quite some time. When you examine the notes a bit closer and realize that a gentleman named Paul Anderson is the main voice behind these lush poems, you may be drawn to replay such stand-out tracks like "Three Years" in order to believe your ears. This collection of songs is quite the "beautiful movement", with classical strings, slight horn arrangements (A Kind of Closure) & slide guitars (A Painful Education) in all the right places, Tram clearly have their gameplan set to warm your stolen heart. If in turn you like what you hear, you will also appreciate the first 2 Tram albums as well (Heavy Black Frame; Frequently Asked Questions). Final word is Tram have officially closed the music making door, and Paul is now a proud & dedicated father (as of December 10th). 2002 had many a great album, and somehow this fantastic album slept right through every "best of list". If you have a thing for Mojave3, (the late, great) Galaxie 500 or the Delgados, Tram are ready for you. Seek them.
( spinART) 2004
I've got to come clean here--I'd heard of but not actually heard the Trashcan Sinatras before this, their latest album and first one in years. Don't ask me where I was during their late 80s/early 90s heyday--well, in Pittsburgh, if you must know.
Their last album Happy Pocket (1996) wasn't even issued in the USA--blame that stinkin' grunge music. Yet, it's deucedly hard to keep a good band of Scotsmen down--though I've no frame of reference re: their past catalog, Weightlifting is a superb slice of winsome, restrained, insidiously tuneful, immaculately-performed mope-pop. Imagine the Smiths without the (arch) humour and melodrama and with trace elements of late 60s/early 70s pop-soul, Dumptruck writing songs with Dusty Springfield in mind, Chris Isaac going back in time to collaborate with Jimmy Webb circa "Wichita Linemen," or (finally--I'm running out) Lloyd Cole minus the caddish wit. In point of fact, "Itıs A Miracle" is the best Jim Webb song he never wrote. In some ways, their band moniker is somewhat appropriate, as singer Frank Reader (Eddi's bro) is a crooner, with a delicate (in the same way that Frank Sinatra's early recordings were), emotive, smooth (and comforting) as maple syrup oozing over the pancakes of love on a chilly winter morn.
- Mark Keresman :: (10.12.04)
( Epic ); 2003
"Look into my heart, oh baby / Don't become a part of the past / You can be a part of the key". Uncut, as much as I respect them, had the bloody nerve to say "The tunes, for all their airiness, just won't stick" about '12 Memories'. Wrong answer. This album has, over the past week of my listening, revealed a band who have released their most courageous album to date. With the praise that followed 'The Man Who', as well as the 2001 release 'The Invisible Band', Travis have for the most part abandoned the upbeat sounds of the past, and on '12 Memories' reveal a side of the band that reflects our times. These songs are, for the sake of saying so, very much memorable and "sticky". Anyone looking for a carbon-copy of the previous records are in for bit of a shock (as I was upon first listen), but these 12 songs (yeah - the final one "Some Sad Song" is hidden yet again) are very deserving of any fans listening. When Fran chants "Stick it in the back / Stick it in the back" on "The Beautiful Occupation", I do feel he has felt our struggle as Amerikkan's under George W's administration for the past "too long of a time" [ the official track note from Fran himself on the bands official website states: "There is nothing political about this song. It's a personal song about watching a train crashing in slow motion, and being helpless to do anything to stop it; This was written in October 2002, before any mention of war, before all the people took to the streets to protest. But the war was inevitable. You just needed to look at the faces of the US administration to come to that conclusion"]. The same on "Peace the Fuck Out", not only one of the greatest song titles of all time, but a fitting reminder that we are living (all over the world, to Glasgow and back) in very ridiculous, extremely selfish times. Just one look at the production notes reveals an entire new story for the Travis crew: Tchad Blake (Real World) replacing Nigel Godrich should certainly perk interest, as Nigel had been the man who led the band through their past two top-selling albums. This record does hold some close relation to 'The Man Who' in it's final two tracks "happy to hang around" (quite possibly the finest Travis song I have heard since they were delivered stateside) and "walking down the hill". These two phenomenal songs are best saved for next to last, as they posess the similar ghostly passion 'Blue Flashing Lights' did five years ago. A praiseworthy offering from one of the best import bands the US has accepted in the past few years, put this on and see for yourself how far they have come since the rise of "Driftwood", and the fall of (tourmates) Oasis. Splendid.
4th & Broadway/Island, 1996
This is the anthem for any drug-addicted freak that had a bad experience and woke up in a cold sweat. This is the music that comes on in the middle of the night while your cd player is cycling through and it scares the living shit out of you. Most people are familiar with Tricky when he was with the trip-hop group, Massive Attack. After he left that shindig he found hisself doing solo projects while going through an awful stage of depression. That's where this album comes in. His third solo release is his best to date. His recent album Blowback, shows a more 'happier' Tricky, if at possible. Doing collaborations with such artists as Ed Kowalczyk, Flea and Björk. Tricky's Pre-Millenium Tension, is simply put; an acid trip gone horribly wrong ... or cocaine withdrawl. To fully experience this cd, I suggest you all take 5 hits of acid, and sit in cold bath water. Tricky can turn a good mood into a sea of odd emotions. You don't know what to think while he slowly raps through this 45 minute album. It's kinda hard to suggest bands that compare to Tricky that people might know. The closest comparison that comes to mind is Portishead and UNKLE. Start the bath water now and call the guy on 5th Street, cuz shit's about to get crazy.
No Wake has been my favorite CD to listen to for the past couple weeks. Lest that sound like a backhanded comment, please keep in mind that over the course of a typical 7 days approximately 60-75 CDs cross my ears in one way or another. This debut release by Tulsa Drone not only nudged other releases out of the tray several times but usually ended up spinning just about every day. With its bleak cover and simple design, it seems like a fairly unassuming release, and while the group isn't doing anything mindblowingly new, they've still managed to carve out a unique niche for themselves and create some beautiful music within it.
Running just under 40 minutes with 9 tracks, the album could be called a long EP or a shorter full-length, but it oozes with mood and mystery in that time. Opening with "Chiaroscuro," the group pulls together a touch of Ennio Morricone soundtrack, a touch of Calexico, and the glorious sound of the hammer dulcimer. In fact, it's that last instrument which sort of becomes their secret weapon, lifting the release from fairly standard cinematic backing tracks to something unique and sometimes rather glorious. "Honcho Toro" cover similar territory, but changes things up just slightly, mixing chiming dulcimer over bone-dry guitar melodies and a sort of slow waltz rhythm that would probably even make a Godspeed You Black Emperor fan swoon (especially when the horns come in near the end).
Wisely, not all the songs on the disc feature driving rhythms, and it's when the group enters ambient/drone realms that things get even more beautiful. "D-A-F" folds ringing waves of delayed guitars over a repeating dulcimer melody while "The Devil Changes Colors" is an epic (almost 9 minutes) sound collage/drone track that again brings in horns to great effect while unfolding slowly and surely. On the closer of "Red's Theme," the group even recalls the great work of Labradford on their Mi Media Naraja album. This one will find repeat play most certainly. If you enjoy any of the aforementioned, hunt it down now.
Rating: 8 (out of 10)
aaron :: (06.18.04)
Tree of No Return
( Tortuga ) 2004
I approached Tree of No Return with much excitement and very high expectation seeing as Tusk is an off shoot of progressive sludge monsters Pelican who released the phenomenal Australaisa. So one night I popped "Tree of No Return" into my Walkman and hopped into bed and after first few seconds I thought I was in a dream. To be honest I thought I was in for Australaisa part 2, when suddenly the clean guitars came into play and the soft-spoken slur of vocalist Jody Minnoch eerily butted its way into the song. The chills running down my spine were just about take over when all of sudden the blast beat kicked in at an awkward tempo. With a simple "fuck it" I put the Walkman down and went to bed.
Fortunately I felt like I should give "Tree of No Return" another chance and I am forever grateful that I did. I just wasn't ready for the innovation Tusk was bringing to the table. Grind, sludge, metal, electronics - it's just fucking nuts and as unoriginal as that sounds words just can not simply describe Tusk's atmospheric assault. The unpredictability of this record is where it really shines. Ever been beaten into submission? This 22 minute experience will do just that. Sorry Pelican, as good as you are, I think your offspring has upped you. An open mind is definitely required to climb up the "Tree of No Return" as the tempo and the music style changes (that occur faster than the wind) will definitely confuse the 1st time listener but once you are up you ain't coming down as the name implies. As for the live footage included on the disk, it has got to be seen to be believed.
To sum it all up: FUCKING NUTS Ladies and Gentlemen the soundtrack to your acid trip has just arrived.
TV On The Radio
Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
( Touch N' Go ); 2004
TV On The Radio is yet another group that I was a little late on in terms of jumping on the wagon. I'd read a great deal of press about their debut Young Liars EP, but didn't even hear it until after I'd heard this, their newest full length. The EP was 5 tracks of raw power and it sounded like a group that had nowhere to go but up, but some of that energy seems to have been lost in the transaction to their first full length. Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing songs on Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, but overall it still feels like a transition release of a group really trying to nail things.
That's not to say there's nothing to shake you down, though, and that's apparent on the first track of "The Wrong Way." Opening with a blast of horns, the track rumbles along with a dirty-ass bassline and slippery programmed beats as horns skronk out in backing of vocalists Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. The duo build the track into a stompalong frenzy as guitar ripples shimmer and the whole thing reaches a crescendo without ever fully rocking out. "Staring At The Sun," the only holdover song from their debut EP is a solid follow-up, and from there the group is onto the equally great "Dreams." Even though it runs a smidge on the repetitive side, the group again works the most simple of changes to create a song that feels like some weird bastard child of indie rock, drone, and R&B. Oh yeah, and it works quite well.
It's after the first third of the album where things get a smidge more uneven. "King Eternal" takes the gritty bass and mixes it with almost My Bloody Valentine-esque sheets of guitar, but the track lacks the dynamics and hooks of the opener, while "Poppy" is effective atmosphere (with huge guitars and almost tribal beats) but simply continues on for too long. Likewise, "Bomb Yourself" mixes quick bursts of guitars with more unique vocal pairings, but even a funky bassline can't sustain it for the overlong running length.
And really, that seems to be the problem with the latter half of the album in general. The acapella "Ambulence" is the only track that really stands out, both lyrically and musically. Heck, it's basically a weird doo wop track, but sounds fresh given the rest of the slightly sludgy tracks around it. There's nothing that has the amount of urgency that the opening tracks of the release have, and instead of sustaining a powerful energy the release just sort of slowly teeters away. After their exciting debut EP and some standout tracks on this release, I have no doubt that TV On The Radio is still a group to watch out for, I'll just have to remember to keep my excitement tempered a bit.
Rating: 7aaron ::(03.26.04)
(Ghostly International )
Greg Malcolm and Chad Mossholder have been creating music under the guise of Twine for many years now. While their earlier releases found them collaborating with artists such as Horchata, the duo has really reached their stride with their past two albums. On Recorder, they really seemed to drift into their own world of sound, a somewhat claustrophobic place where organic instrumentation bumps up against plenty of electronic elements. Technically, I guess it's ambient music, but it's definitely not always the soothing type.
Despite being seperated by several thousand miles (the duo works apart from one another, one living in Boulder, CO and the other in Cleveland, OH, Twine never come across as sounding pasted-together. In fact, with this newest Self-Titled release, the group has created one of the most unique and interesting recordings that I've heard in awhile. The production is flawless, and their songcraft has gotten stronger as well. "G_R_V" opens the release with slightly flanged guitar while low-end drops bounce almost randomly and disembodied voices add another spooky element. "Plectrum" keeps some of the same elements, looping a guitar while ethereal vocals float and somewhat odd vocal samples crop up. If The Books had an evil musical twin, it might sound something like Twine.
It's on "Girl Song" where the album really takes things to another level. A murky track that mixes backwards tape loops with filtered guitars and haunting vocals, the whole thing is run through a breathy filter that causes the entire track to shudder and groan with a sickly sort of life that works quite well. "Kalea Morning" takes female vocals and stretch them out into a beautiful drone, piling them in layers on top of one another while rattling, hyper-panning beats threaten to fracture the track while building and receding over the course of over 10 tension-filled minutes.
Assigning Twine a genre is pretty darn difficult given the odd music that they create. There are moments of ambient, drone, IDM, found-sound, and even industrial and gothic in their music. There are no real song structures to hook your ear, but the absolutely intense build of "Counting Off Again" (in which cut-up vocals, piano, and choppy beats all swirl and bounce off one another) and the other one-of-a-kind sound combinations on the album are inthralling nonetheless. Over the course of 9 tracks and just over an hour of music, though, the duo make a point for being some of the most talented and unique sound designers working today.