Monday, November 17, 2014

USAnails- Sonic Moist (2014)

Let's start off with giving a quick shout out to one of the best noise rock blogs in the world.  THIS ONE.  I constantly find great music from this little blog, so it's time I showed it some love.  That said, USA Nails is one such find that stood out.

The singer reminds me of the higher pitch singer of White Drugs mixed with Stephen Pederson of the White Octave, and songs like 'Shite at the Palladium' show off a similar songwriting to White Drugs.  For those who don't know White Drugs, think Amphetamine Reptile.

Rather than continue throwing out unknown and obsolete bands, I'll leave this review relatively short and say that this album is some fantastic, albeit run-of-the-mill, noise rock.  The band is even best when they capture that traditional angular noise rock sound with their instrumentation.  Tracks like 'Am I A Man Or Not' make their less standard tracks like 'Oh Caroline' seem lackluster in comparison.  Sure to some it may sound like a backhanded compliment to say they are great at a generic sound, but there is a reason that style instrumentation is the trademark of lots of great noise rock bands.  USAnails seem to be on the path to carry that flag for all the people like me out there looking for just that sound and to me that is great news.

Above is a link to one of the tracks on this album.  Check out their blog to preorder this on vinyl or cassette (which I would totally preorder if it shipped to the states).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Grizzlor- When You Die 7" (2014)

When You Die
Grizzlor is a band I have been meaning to get around to writing about since the release of We're All Just Aliens earlier this year.  Usually I don't write about singles, but a review of their stuff has been long overdue.

Grizzlor's sound is one that lies someplace between Oozing Wound and stoner-grunge music.  With When You Die , the group has really begin to refine this sound and fall into their own.  Immediately the first track, "No Time", shows that this band is only getting better.  Their vocalist sounds more confident, and their overall sound is much fuller.

I have been waiting on a full LP since I heard these guys back in January, and I guess I am just gonna have to keep waiting, but this single was great and just has me more excited for when they finally do release a debut LP.

Take a listen and order a copy of it Here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NAH- WOE (2014)

NAH has been busy, as Woe is his ninth release over the past two years.  I loved his debut, Tapefuck, and have followed his stuff ever since.  That said, while Woe has a much different soung than how NAH started, it probably ties Tapefuck as his best.  The production on this album brings to mind Death Grips, but is able to remain unique and doesn't come off as a mere imitation.

Woe opens with a very minimal beat and guest vocals by recent collaborator GIVV, but it only takes a few moments before the sound turns to a more progressive hip hop.  While there is certainly more vocal track on this album than his previous works (minus GIVV's album of course), NAH does a great job at mixing in instrumental tracks that keep the sound fresh and exciting.  Woe does a great job at balancing the continuity of sound with the changing of styles.  tracks like "born" are hyper paced and filled with aggressive tension, while others, like "lonely, decelerating", are bass heavy exercises in electronic.  The only fault I can give this album is the vocal performance on "they out".

If you like Death Grips or Kanye's production on the most recent Pusha T single, then give this album a try at his bandcamp Here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cowards- World Champions in Male Chastity (2014)

World Champions in Male Chastity
This album came out of nowhere.  I have seen almost no press for it whatsoever, and that is sad given how great this thing is.  I know nothing about the band, but rather than research them to give you background, I'm just gonna skip that step and describe this album.

World Champions in Male Chastity is a diverse album as far as noise rock goes.  the album features a male and female singer, but no tracks have them sharing vocals.  with the first few tracks, the male vocalist leads, with a mixture of spoken/sung words.  By the third track, "Butter Tooth", I was starting to fall into the groove of their sound and it begin to really sink in with me.  Once the fifth track, "Let's Talk About Our Feelings", came along I was thrown for a loop.  The female vocalist starts the track off with a great crooning sound, only immediately to start singing "I'll show you my parts, if you show me yours".  Over the next few tracks, this lady kills it and really changes the momentum of the album.  At times, like on "Daughters Touching Fathers" the group has an early Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound (with lyrics that reminded me of the great Yusef Komunyaa poem 'Stepfather: A Girl's Song).

For the final few tracks the album comes back to the sound of how it opened.  By this time, the change felt great, and "The Ballard of Low Looker and Button Eye" is a fantastic closing track.  Since I found this album I find myself coming back to it more and more.  I can almost guarantee this album will be in my 2014 list at the end of the year, so I suggest that you take a moment to see why.

Listen to the album Here, and support them any way you can, cause they deserve it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Public Housing- Public Housing (2013)

Robert Beatty
Public Housing is haunting.  Right from the get-go, "Modern Breathing" lets you know what you are in for; harsh, brooding music that marches on like a funeral procession.  For those that know Robert Beatty (Hair Police), the production here is very similar to his 2013 album, Mercurial Rites.  Musically, however, Public Housing have a much larger sound, soaking the background sound in constant feedback and squeals.  While this full sound is quite opposite of much of Mercurial Rites, overall the underlying feeling of both albums is quite similar.  Dread.

Another album from last year that begs comparison to Public Housing is Dreamdecay's N V N V N V.  From a songwriting standpoint both albums focus on a slower, drawn out presentation.  Moreover, the vocalists sound quite similar and sing in a very similar manner.

Over the course of its four tracks, Public Housing manages to become quite a daunting listen.  Side B starts with "Caskets", a track who stays straight noise until over a minute-and-a-half.  Even then, noise music is still probably the best classification of the sound on this entire track.

There is a good chance this isn't for you.  But if you are a fan of noise music, like some of the artists mentioned in this review, or are feeling a little adventurous, give it a try.

Stream and purchase the album Here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Biscuit Mouth- Doing it Right and Doing It Well (2014)

Doing it right and doing it well
This album was a great surprise.  With vocals someplace in between Mclusky and Zebras, biscuit mouth is are the black keys of noise rock.  They really aren't the best, but the duo has created a solid album which captures the essence of the genre, is an easy listen, and most importantly is fun.

When I first listened to this album I was immediately blown away by the great acoustics of the vocalist.  To me, Biscuit Mouth is a band built around showcasing his awesome voice.  What's more, right from the opening track you see that the band isn't interested in verse, chorus, verse, chorus; rather many of the track keep a continual progression to the lyrics in a storyteller fashion.  Sure much of what he sings is indistinguishable, but the smooth, unbroken flow was a pleasant surprise seen all too little.

Once the third track, Gregory pointer, kicks in it becomes apparent how confident the singer is in his voice.  Absences of noise are filled with his crooning voice.  On my first listen it wasn't until this track that I realized how much potential this band really had.  While this isn't my favorite track on the album, it is one that showcases what the band does best; angular guitars, a harder blues style drumming, and entrancing songwriting.

From there, this album remained strong.  "You want something" may be my favorite track.  While it starts out relatively simple, the lyrics fit the sound perfect, and sound like Bob Dylan wrote them.  Moreover, at the 3:30 point the song style switch really kicks off the second half of the album.

If I had any one qualm with this album it would be that it is only two people.  Really, the band could benefit with a good bassist filling up the sound.  Moment of tracks like Sonny Mottram would have been much stronger if the guitarist could play while that guitar line was played by a bassist.

I found this album looking through random blogs with little visits.  If you stumble upon it reading my little blog with little visit, I suggest you take the time to give this a listen like I did.  I doubt you will be disappointed.

Listen to and buy it here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

White Suns- Totem (2014)

It took me a while to fully digest Totem.  On first listen I knew I loved it, but its a lot to take in.  Having listened to Sinews quite a bit, I was glad that Totem picked up right where that album left off. 

With "Priest in the Laboratory", White Suns are immediately showcasing their signature sound; harsh noise rock that swells up into a dissonant break for vocals to be yelled.

White Suns' are not a band for someone new to noise rock, and Totem pushes even further into the harsh noise territory than their previous albums with tracks like "Disjecta Membra" and "Fossil Record".  If you are a fan of bands like Air Conditioning, Aufgehoben, and Sightings, however, this album is right up your alley.

For most listeners, "Clairvoyant" will probably be the most memorable track, with its screamed out "My Guide's face is made of mirrors.  My Guide's face looks like my fathers." lingering on after the album is over.

I was fortunate enough to catch them last night, and quickly snapped this photo.  Their live set was great and I highly recommend you try and catch them next time they come to town.  You can listen to Totem Here, as well as purchase a copy of the album and see tour dates.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Greys- If Anything (2014)

If Anything
The Toronto band, Greys, debut album, If Anything, is a great addition to the 2014 noise rock/post-punk releases heard this year.  At the faster songs, like "Use Your Delusion" remind me of current bands like Metz, White Lung, and (now defunct) Shoppers.  Slower tracks, like "Flip Yr Lid", remind me of Nirvana.

This album probably wont make any top ten lists for the year, but that is okay; afterall, some of the funnest albums I have in my collection don't deserve to make any top ten lists.  And this album is fun, with tracks like "Adderall" really capturing the vocal sound of groups like Wavves.  Additionally, much of the album sounds like  Roomrunner's 2013 album, Ideal Cities, another album that finds that balance of accessible punk and harder rock while maintaining a fun vibe.

Why not check out a few of the tracks Here, and purchase the album while your there.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Poino- Bon Ick Voyeur (2014)

Bon Ick Voyeur
With Poino’s second release the band definitely show an evolution of their songwriting style.  While overall the music is still in the noise rock genre, the sound is much more daring, with major shifts in sound on each track. “lenod” has moments of new wave sound backed up to heavy guitar riffs and even near empty portions with only repeating guitar swells.  Other tracks, like “Pinking”, feel very math rock influenced.

I have always found Gaverick’s vocals hit-or-miss, even in Giddy motors, but on this album they tend to be solid.  The opening track, “Bird Trick”, has the most off-putting vocals on the album.  Fortunately, this was the only track I found grating in that aspect.  I was happily surprised that the album contained a mix of instrumentals thrown in, as it really helped the vocals not feel overstayed and remain fresh sounding.

Overall, “Burnt Birthday” was the strongest track on this album. 

I have found little noise rock I have enjoyed this year, except this album and a couple others.  Even more of a reason for you to check it out.  Listen to it and buy it Here.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fadensonnen- Badlands (2014)

What initially turned me on to Fadensonnen was their ruckus.  Bands like them and Aufgehoben know how to skirt that fine line between a wall of noise and aggressive, progressive rock music.

With Fadensonnen's newest release, Badlands, the sound remains the same, but the feeling is much different.  For the first two tracks, gone is the rush of intensity reminiscent of Guitar Wolf.  Instead, Badlands places the listener into a static-filled, psychedelic sound.  Yes, the guitars still feel overrun by delay and reverb, and the drums still keep a fast pace, but even turned up to full blast, the underlying energy seems different.  That isn't to say that this is a bad thing, it just wasn't what I expected, and possibly not even what the band had in mind going in to record.

A great example can be found in the final moments of the opening track, "Machete".  As all the feedback fades out, the listener is left with a chopping guitar similar to something out of Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsun or Guardian Alien's body of work.  It is this sound that I hear through both the first tracks, simply buried beneath the relentless wall of noise.

The final track feels much more like Fadensonnen's White Knight album and is about where my initial expectations put the sound of this record to be; the type of sound that would make Air Conditioning want to get back in the studio. 

While overall the album is different than I expected, it still sounds great.  Badlands can be streamed Here, and do yourself a favor and pick up a copy on record while you still can.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Irk-Bread and Honey EP(2014)

Last year cattle' S/T ended up being one of my favorite noise rock EPs, an EP that was brought to my attention pretty early on during the year.  This year's Irk-Bread and Honey feels like a solid contender to repeat such a trend.

Bread and Honey has a ton of passion.  The vocalist is always giving 100%, whether boasting until hoarse or speak singing in a manner like the vocals on Satanized-Technical Virginity or Daughters-Hell Songs.  Occasionally the bass falls into a sludgy rift or backing track, but usually it is at the forefront with its overdriven sound with funky undertones.

Earlier this year I heard Bardus-Solus (2013).  While also a great album, Irk take a very similar sound and perfect it.  Given that the EP is short, I will keep my review the same way.

Expect more great stuff from these guys and stream the album Here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Aquarelle- Interrupted Forms (2014)

Droney, electro-acoustic music.  This is the first tape of the 11 tape series Dynasty At Ghost Town on Bathetic Records, a tape set I wish I had the spare cash to snatch up before it sells out.

This album reminds me of a happier Gordon Ashworh-S.T.L.A. (another fantastic album from this year).  Despite its genre, Interrupted Forms is quite an easy listen most of the time, and is one that is immersive while still being accessible enough to not overwhelm anyone who would walk into the room mid-listen (save a few moments).

Interrupted Forms I starts out with quite a bit of acoustic in the sound (something I very much like), than works its way into a lighter, ambient sound.  This sound slowely builds into a larger, angelic harmony by the end.

Interrupted Forms II picks up with a booming wall of sound larger than where the first side left off.  Despite the density, the music remains in an optimistic tone, similar to Superstorms' 2012 S/T (highly recommended).  The sound temporarily regresses from electronic denseness to a more open, acoustic structure, only to come back to the dense drones that started the track.  The final minute of the album feels empty and abandoned, as the buildup drops out and only a few background gurgles remain.

Overall, this was a standout release that is sure to sadly go under-appreciated

Stream the album Here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mincemeat or Tenspeed- Waiting for Surfin' Bird (2014)

Sitting someplace between Mutwawa and Wizards Of, Mincemeat or Tenspeed's album is an aggressive, electronic monster.  The album uses "rhythmic melodic compositions made from feedback loops, in order to fake music that would more aptly be made using synths and sequencers."  DECOHERENCE Records fittingly labeled the genre as 'no rave', a pretty accurate genre tag for an album that sounds as if Holy Fuck made an EDM album.

One strength this album has is its ability to make otherwise bad quality sounds feel natural.  The end of "Normal Techno Jam" has a Casio-style drum sound that feels either circuit bent or overdriven.  Somehow, the implementation of this sound works perfect.

If you were a fan of the Fuck Buttons, I would recommend taking some time to check this album out.  This album comes out May 6th, so look for an update here once the Bandcamp becomes available.  In the meantime, stream one track Here.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Wizard Of- Face/Skeleton (2014)

Face Skeleton
Wizard Of, aka Bob McCully, made the first album I have really enjoyed from this year.  Face/ Skeleton reminds me of Fuck Buttons' Tarot Sport at times because of its aggressive sound is much more in-your-face than most electronic music.  The synthesizers on it have a very analog sound, similar, like those on Tycho's Dive (though I imagine that they are done by something like a microkorg that is emulating analog).

Face/ Skeleton consists of two multi-part tracks, one for each cassette side.  The tracks within each side utilize similar samples and emphasize a mutating repetition within each other.  Initially, I preferred "Face", but now I am on the fence.  Overall, "Face I" and "Face II" are a great opener, but by "Face III" things seem a little stagnate, at least for that track.  With Skeleton though, the samples really benefit from the time and growth, making for a stronger overall side (also, the vocal samples reminded me of Blockhead at times).

I was very surprised to find out that this was a cassette release.  Maybe it is because when I think of cassettes I think of vaporwave, drone, and all around less accessible music, I'm not sure.  This album is something that should be pressed though, as it definitely left a good impression on me.

While the cassette is all sold out now, you can still listen to the album and buy a digital copy Here.  Also, click Here to check out the Wizards Of bandcamp.
Finally, the album can be downloaded with This.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Razorlegs- Live Cuts (2014)

Live Cuts
I reached out to Fadensonnen a few weeks ago, asking whether we should be expecting a 2014 release (we should, and it is getting pressed to vinyl this time round, so great news!).  When I asked him, in addition to learning that we are, I found out P.D. worked on the side project Razorlegs.  Intrigued, I managed to get ahold of a copy on CD.

Razorlegs area  duo who make free-jazz that often ventures into a more drone-based realm (see "Cliveden Reach").  Over the course of the album, Andrew Hurst jumps from drums/percussion to keyboard and guitars while PD Fadensonnen plays guitar, sax, and stylophone.  Much like when I first heard Zebra Pulse' album last year, I was surprised that this was a live album.  With Live Cuts, Razorlegs often end up making a much larger sound than one would expect from just two members.

If you have heard Fadensonnen's 2012 album, you may not be terribly surprised by the loose guitar structures that come up, but for listeners going in thinking that this will be free-jazz saxophone over drums (as the first track does seem to falsely foreshadow), they will be quickly surprised.  Tracks like "Razorlegs" smash such preconceptions.

For me, the standout track was "Ulrich's Dilemma".  This track coupled interesting percussion with a nice saxophone piece that ended up being much stronger than I expected.

If you want to order yourself a copy of the CD, contact Andrew Hurst.  Check out two tracks Here and Here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 10-1

Top 50 albums of 2013

Previous: 50-41
Previous: 40-31
Previous 30-21
Previous: 20-11
After listening to over 275 albums from 2013, we are finally to my top 10.  Feel free to post in the comments for how I am an idiot for not having (insert album) on my list at all.  After all, maybe I didn't even hear about it, or maybe I thought it was garbage. 

Victim of Love
10) Charles Bradley- Victim of Love

Charles Bradley's sophomore release has seen almost entirely positive reviews.  And I am glad to see that.  I will admit that I have not heard nearly enough James Brown in my life, but listening to Bradley really reminds me that I need to.

I had not heard of Charles Bradley before this album, and when I first heard this I assumed he had been successfully writing soul music for a few decades, not a James Brown impersonator just now getting into the music business.

As far as the music goes, Bradley has a great voice.  It is aged and solemn and really feels like it fits the sound of the music.  Tracks like "Victim of Love" really show it off too.

tracks like "Dusty Blue", on the other hand, sound like they have been taken straight from a blacksploitation film. 

Honestly, I do think of soul as a rather dead genre.  Bradley, however, didn't get the memo, because he just put out an album that sounds like it is from the golden years of the genre.

Buy the album Here, and listen to the title track Here.

Orbs and Channels9) SaƄad- Orbs and Channels

After recently giving praise to K'an, this ambient album slightly trumps it by showing that sometimes it is less about what you say than what is said.

With Saaad's 2013 release, we are given a very dark, mellow done/ambient.  Fans of Juliana Barkwick's Nepenthe will probably love this (though who knows, I wasn't a huge fan of Nepenthe).

Tracks like "Savara" feel hollow and emotionless (I mean this in a good way), but most, like "Lure of Conquest", create a dense layer of drone that emphasizes on creating a thick sound.

Stream the album Here.

Mercurial Rites
8) Hair Police- Mercurial Rites

"We Are Ready to Lose the Final Grip" is one of the first understandable vocal parts to this album.  And it is memorable.  by the time "We Prepare", the opening track, is over, you know that you are in for a very intense ride.  Some place between Robert Beatty's solo work and Whitehouse, this album takes intense vocals and pairs them with a noisey drone/industrial combo that is both exciting and unique

"Scythed Wide" is the best track on the album by far.  It is one of the best tracks that I have heard all year actually.  If you were a fan of Robert Beatty's solo album from this year, take some time and try this album.

The whole album can be streamed Here, and can while I think it is sold out everywhere else, it is still pretty cheap on Discogs.

The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow
7) Diamond Terrifier- The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow

I often mention this album to people who spoke about the latest Colin Stetson LP, a New History of Warfare: Vol 3.  Zs saxophonist, Sam Hillmer, really stepped it up with The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow.  While the message is the same from his previous solo LP (remove attachment to worldly possessions), the execution has greatly improved; both in portrayal and in presentation.

"Shrine Flu" is the first of the four tracks on The Subtle Body and it immediately showcases the strange, almost offputting vocals.  If this is your first listen to this album, do not let the first 10 seconds dissuade you.  After many listens those parts begin to make a lot more sense and fit with the overall sound.  4:15 in, however, Hillmer shows off a very similar style of playing that can be seen on Stetson albums.  Rather than ride Stetsons coat tails though, this sound is quickly lost for the ambient style swells that Diamond terrifier is more prone to do.

One of my favorite aspects of Ddiamond Terrifier's work is the unique sound created from his setup.  Having listened to quite a bit of experimental music involving saxophone, Diamond Terrifier really has found its own unique sound, and with this sophomore release Hillmer shows himself strengthening and building on that style.

Take some time and look through Diamond Terrifier's Soundcloud, and buy the album Here.
6) Dreamdecay- N V N V N V

This album was absolutely overwhelming the first time I listened to it.  I was told it was 'alternative rock', and reluctantly gave it a go.  I was expecting a crappier version of Arctic Monkeys, and instead got a slow, brooding, Liars-esque band stuck in the era of They were Wrong so we Drowned.  

The track titles are one of the first things that is absolutely boggling about N V N V N V.  It is like Dreamdecay were making a cryptic concept album that isn't meant to be solved. 

While "Ceiling Fan" may be one of the more accessible songs on this album, this is an album that should be listened to from start to finish (though I will probably say that about all of my choices in the top ten).

Both years I have made my top 50 lists I have taken that time to look up where albums are selling.  partially to promote bands I like, and partially (if I dont own a physical copy already) to see current costs.  I was disappointed to see that this is no longer in the label's store.  I plan to snag this up sometime in the next month at Discogs.

Whether you plan to follow suit or not, stream the album Here.

Joe Panzer and Greg Stuart
5) Joe Panzner and Greg Stuart- Dystonia Duos

This album is definitely the most underrated album on my list.  Two tracks long, Dystonia Duos feels like watching only the final half hour of an epic movie.  Right from starts the album is a blast of noise.  The noise on Dystonia Duos, though,  is done quite tastefully.  Never did I find myself irritated by a high pitch or harsh squeal.

The whole first track, "Dissection Puzzle", really plays out like an epic conclusion; it is dramatic, filled with tension, and it is very exciting.  Even in the later half of the track, as the focus shifts from noise to drone, the drone keeps that spark of excitement to it (which is very rare for drone).  It is not until the last two minutes where the sound finds itself really calming.

The other track, "Casa De Pedras", plays out like the resolution.  While bursts of noise sputter out from time to time, the overall sound is one constantly being more and more docile, as though the duo has been wrestling with this wild sound the entire time and slowly have begun to tame it.

In the end, this is a really unique album.  It does a great job melding noise with ambient and its unique approach of a large wind-down really made it stand out.

Listen to the first track Here, and purchase the CD through Erstwhile Records.

EDIT: I have now found out that this album is much more like watching an Entire epic movie, and 
that the first track of three tracks had never properly transferred to my iPod.  Yeah it is embarrassing, but I'm a busy guy, so o well.

A History of Every One
4) Bill Orcutt- A History of Every One

I was introduced to Bill's solo work through A New Way to Pay Old Debts when I finally heard it last year, completely unknowing that he was in Harry Pussy.  I found his play style wild, imaginative, and it somehow kept getting stuck in my head.  With A History of Every One, Bill's sound is similar, but the inspiration is different.

On A History, Bill plays covers of various songs throughout history:. "When You Wish Upon A Star", "Black Betty", "White Christmas", and "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" are all present.  But these songs are grotesque, mutant versions of their former versions.  Surely the vocals of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" weren't meant to be crooned out, and "White Christmas" is not something I would ever put on to celebrate the holiday (though it is my favorite track on the album).  No, these songs may have remnants of their past self buried deep within them, only to be found by Bill, but they are truly unique in sound now; kind of like Bill's four string guitar and the sounds that come out of it.

While I don't fully understand Bill's overall concept for the album, I don't mind at all.  I enjoy the mystery I feel surrounds lack of knowledge sometimes, and with Bill Orcutt the mystery fits just fine.  One of my biggest regrets of 2013 was not having the funds to buy his 7" box set special edition of this album before it sold out.  Still need to hunt down the songs from it so I can hear it at least.

Listen to a track Here, and get a copy Here.

3) Tim Hecker- Virgins

The first time I heard Ravedeath 1972 I was blown away. I had been listening to a lot of Ben Frost- By the Throat as well, and was just really liking this newer, more aggressive style of ambient.  Then, for some reason I never bothered go through Hecker's discography.  When I heard Virgins was coming out, I quickly pre-ordered and Hecker did not disappoint.

Virgins makes it so high on the list simply because of how overwhelming the whole album is.  I do think it falls slightly short of Ravedeath 1972, but it takes risks and changes up the style of the drone-ambient.  In a world filled with vines and tweets, many will probably call this album boring.  Regardless, I think it is a standout, must own from 2013.

You can stream the album Here, but with this style music, you should probably Buy it to hear it in a nice high quality.

Life Cycle of a Massive Star
2) Roly Porter- Life Cycle of a Massive Star

Roly Porter's sophomore release, Life Cycle of a Massive Star, takes his style on Aftertime and: improves on it, adds a great concept to it, better album art, and makes the piece very concise so nothing feels excess.

With this release, the listener is taken through the life of a massive star, from its beginnings as a "Cloud" to when it finally becomes "Massive".  As it moves through the five parts, each track feels accurate to its title, and the whole album is cohesive and flowing.

If you had Virgins in your top album lists for 2013, give this a try as well; this definitely will appeal geared to a similar audience.

Preview it through Experimedia Here.  they are out of the LP, but CD copies are still available.

Terribly Well
1) Sightings- Terribly Well

I have been a pretty big fan of Sightings since high school.  Before this album came out I even interviewed guitarist Mark Morgan about its upcoming release.  Sightings albums seem to be pretty consistently good.  

Sightings are great because of their unique sound.  The guitar is played in such a strange, mutated manner, and the drumming somehow compliments it with its strange patterning.  The bassist does show from time-to-time that he is capable of funkier lines, but he plays quite reserved to match the rest of the band's sound.

Although with the addition of synths (which is hard to even notice), Terrible Well continues this overall style of rock music that is all their own.

Listen to a track Here, and purchase a copy of this album from Dais Records.  Sightings stated in an interview that there was more that was recorded than just Terribly Well but they plan to wait until they break even from pressing this album before they release it.  Understandable, but I am only buying one copy, so some others out there need to pick of the slack so we can hopefully get another release this year from them too.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 20-11

Top 50 albums of 2013

Previous: 50-41; 40-31; 30-21

20) Blue Sky Black Death- Glaciers

It is amazing how fast 14:26 seconds can go by.  So often I put this album on and go to look at what point in the track a section of the song is on and I am on song two.   With Glaciers, Blue Sky Black Death give us 5 long tracks.  All five tracks are much better than any of the tracks on their Euphoric Tape that also came out this year (but to be fair, there gear had been stolen before that release and it was to raise money for more gear).

Much like Noir, overall Glaciers is an album that is rich with uplifting moments.  All throughout the music sounds like the embodiment of the sound of success after a long struggle.  It is hard to name favorite moments of this album, mainly because of track lengths.  this feels like an intentional thing, as though Blue Sky Black Death were just tired of people having an easy time stealing their beats without at least half-attempting a remix.

That said, the vocals on "IV" may seal the deal.  While there are tons of great moments on this album, those flow throughout the track and just sound great.

While you and me both missed the limited printing of this on vinyl, it was posted Here, so check there for future prints.

The Watcher
19) Haunted Horses- The Watcher

In this year's Top Noise Rock Albums of 2013, I mentioned Haunted Horses' 2011 Pyramids of Glass (which isn't on discogs, but I promise it happened).  I bring it up again because The Watcher really is a perfect refinement of that sound.

For those who haven't heard Haunted Horses, their sound lies some place between Liars' sophomore album and Sisterworld.  It is usually grounded in rock, but layered vocals can bring an art punk sound to the album at times.  It is an album best listened to in the dark, and the type of album where I have a real hard time discussing songs for because I never pay attention to them as I let the album run.

Take a listen to the album Here.  Also, if you aren't still waiting for your next job to start/ behind on your mortgage, take a moment to buy a copy on either cassette or vinyl Here.  I really wish that I owned either, and hope that in a couple months they still have a copy left for me to get.  Feel free to comment and let me know if you got one, if not just to rub it in my face.

18) David Dominique- Ritual

One of the best parts about writing album reviews is that I occasionally get sent albums to review.  A lot of the time they suck and I simply email back that they suck and tell them why.  Sometimes though, you get send a killer, underrated, free jazz album.

David Dominique reached out to me in December asking if I would write up a review of his album (I didn't).  I was going to, then I realized I could just discuss how awesome it was in my top 50 instead, because it definitely belonged on it.

Ritual just has a lot going for it.  Inclusion of the electric guitar in the opening track is great.  Tracks like "Mooey in Paradise 2" have a great pacing to them, filling the sound with a pulsing energy. 

While the compositions tend to sound influenced by more traditional jazz ("Golden Retriever" for instance), Dominique's ensemble show on tracks like "Ritual 4/ Release" that they are capable of penetrating, powerful sounds as well.

This album is great, and is one of my top jazz albums of the year.  Seriously, take a minute to listen to it Here and buy it there too.

17) Fire! Orchestra- Exit!

Exit! is often seen being described as the music equivalent of Twin Peaks.  I know I made that connection before even seeing others say it.  This comparison comes from the outlandish vocal parts and their lyrical content ("This is not a tunnel, it's a cave", "Fire stay with me").  Further, the repetitious bass becomes an almost hypnotizing backing to the otherwise chaotic sound of the band.  Finally, if you have seen Twin Peaks you understand the absurd nature and feeling the black lodge has.  This music has a similar fantastic nature to it.

While Gustafsson still plays with that 'swelling' style, overall, he takes a much smaller role in the orchestra that I imagined.  his 'solos' tend to be duets with another brass instrument.

If you enjoyed this album, Fire!'s album from this year was also quite good.  I put this one higher though because Exit! really is a much more ambitious project.

Listen to part one Here, and buy the album on Rune Grammofon (the shipping is a pretty big slam if you live in the states).

Virginia Plane
16) Lasse Marhaug and Bruce Russell- Virginia Plane

This album really stands out to me.  Maybe it is because one of my circuit bent Casio's use to make a noise similar to that at the beginning of "Remake/ Remodel", or maybe it is because one of my best friends in high school loved Roxy Music.

Regardless, this album makes a point to be a noise album without really being a noise album.  while all the sound is really noise, it feels like free-improv (so basically noise, yeah i know).  If you want to try some noise music, but have only sampled Merzbow in the past, you may have better luck with this one.

Preview a track Here, and buy it Here to support Marhaug so he can keep putting out tons of albums each year.

Coming Apart
15) Body/Head- Coming Apart

I would say finding it difficult to finish an album is sometimes a sign of a great album.  It is pretty rare that I would consider that a sign of a great album, but Coming Apart may be one of those times.

This isnt the most challenging album in the world.  Actually, most of the tracks are easily digested on their own.  But piled on one after another, the tracks that make up this album create quite a beast of a listen for me.  The atmosphere of the album coupled with Kim Gordon's (sonic youth) voice, but I literally feel beat by the time the album is through.

Maybe it is the blasts of guitar placed into an otherwise quiet album.  Some of the guitar solos (can you call those that?  I guess Bill Orcutt would) are truly violent in nature.

Also, Kim's voice is great.  "Murderess" is such a simple track and executed by her so perfectly.

Listen to the first track of this album Here.

Guerrilla toss
14) Guerrilla Toss- Gay Disco

I believe when I mentioned this album in my Top 10 Noise Rock Albums of 2013 post I stated, "Last week’s outline of my top 10 didn’t have Guerrilla Toss mentioned, and now they’re clocking in at number 4".  Now, only a few weeks later, Gay Disco is number 14 on my list of albums from 2013.  Why?  This album is contagious.

A member of Guerrilla Toss stated in an interview that they made this album trying to make a pop album.  In the sense of creating a pop album they failed miserably, but, if you like dance-punk noise rock, you should pray that they continue striving to make a pop masterpiece.

Guerrilla Toss were suggested to me back when Jeffery Johnson came out, and I wasn't a fan.  But, I am more than happy to admit I had undersold them.  Gay Disco is the album that disproves all the people (like myself) that doubted them.

While they were nice enough to post it to stream on there Bandcamp.  I suggest you purchase it and help these guys out.

Also, Guerrilla Toss, come back to Columbus.  I missed your show here a few years back and you have never returned.

Ninja Tune
13) Letherette- Letherette

In my opinion Daft Punk really dropped the ball with their new album.  No, it wasn't terrible, it just was only okay.  Daft Punk have shown that they know how to Electro House and obviously, while cudos for trying something new, should return to that sound.

If you were disappointed as well, or just want to get some good French House (they aren't french though), Letherette is probably up your alley.  The sound on this album is just plain fun and I was kind of surprised when I found out this was released on ninja tune, as it is almost too fun for that label.

For a debut album, Letherette is a fantastic starting point.  It is much more tame than stuff you would find on Ed Banger Records (except maybe Strip Steve), and embodies more of the French House sound than the Electro House approach.

My only fear is that Letherette will pull a Clive Tanaka y su Orchestra and never make a followup.

Buy the album Here, and listen to a track from it Here.

12) K'an- Anima

Anima is the debut album from ambient/drone artist K'an, AKA  Paolo Bellipanni.  Right from the start of Anima, I could tell by the chopped and static-laced sound that the album had potential.

This album and Saad- Orbs & Channels have both ended up being on in my car quite a bit recently; mainly because of how similar they are.  Both are just perfect for being played at high volumes in an enclosed environment.  While this album is a good listen through headphones, I find its expression really comes out when played very loud in a small space.  Tracks like "Arsons Beneath eclipsed Waters" and "In a River of Light You Carve Intersections of Darkness" remind me of feelings of grief, while others, like "In a River of Thorns You Mean the Path to Deliverance", remind me of stess and times of failure.

I say 'remind me', because the sounds on K'an leave the listener quite distant from the actual emotions.  Rather, during those tracks, I reflect on those feelings, but usually feel at peace.

This album is free on bandcamp at the moment, so go grab it Here.  And try to leave a couple bucks, that way we might see a physical release from K'an with his sophomore album.

White Shadows in the South Seas
11) Mike Cooper- White Shadows in the South Seas

White Shadows in the South Seas doesnt have very ambitious beginnings, but nonetheless, once you have finished the album you will probably agree that it is a very ambitious album.  While the album starts with a small, light hearted loop, once the second track begins it is quite apparent that this album is not nearly as warm as it first seemed.

At first the field recordings of tropical wildlife feel very playful, however, as the album goes on the overall sound gets darker, as though nightfall is approaching.  By the time "The Ordeal" begins, Cooper has the listener placed in a dark and grim forest, with only strange foreign sounds.

Slowely, after this the instruements return and Hawaiian-styled- harmonies begin to overrun the electronic squeals and chirps of bugs.

For a guy in his 70's, Mike Cooper obviously still has quite a bit of inspiration left in him.  Buy the album Here, and preview it Here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 30-21

Top Albums 30-21

Previous: 50-41; 40-31

Spontaneous Combustion
30) Decoy with Joe Mcphee- Spontaneous Combustion

The freejazzblog is a really great place.  If you have never been there, I suggest checking it out.  I have found quite a few great albums this year through there, and this was one of them.

When it comes to reviewing jazz, I am quite terrible at it.  I use the wrong words, clumsy expressions, and really just don't know enough to accurately talk about it.  I reread This review of this album and immediately knew my review would fall flat in comparison.  But, I will give it a few words anyway.

The drum set is definitely unique.  It and the saxophone (obviously) are what makes this album stand out.  Other than the snare, the majority of drums seem absent, instead replaced with cymbals, hi hats, and other metallic percussion.  It takes this album about 11 minutes to really warm up, but once it hits it goes fierce, with the organ and drums really sweeping up the sound.  After this surge finally slows, we get a really nice slow sax part. 

This album is good at staying in the free-jazz realm while still maintaining the 'jazz' aspect (unlike, say Albert Ayler).  If you are a fan of more traditional jazz, and want to venture into a wilder territory, this may be a good album for you.

Listen to a sample and pick it up Here.

29) Power of the Horns- Alaman

I actually didn't find this on freejazzblog (though they do have an excellent write up Here).  Alaman is some great Polish jazz that incorporates a combination of free jazz, hints of African styles, and the repetitious yelling of "Alaman", all within the first 7 minutes of the album.  From there, the track begins to find its groove as a more traditional jazz track, but as is often the case with albums like this, that quickly begins to become a strange mutation of its original tune.

There are only a few jazz albums I enjoyed more than this one this year, but this one is definitely up there for having the most energy.

I havent gotten a chance to check out the other albums on For Tune Records, but I liked this album and I like puns, so I probably will be working my way through their catalog.  Get Alaman Here.

wake up awesome
28) Yeh/ Lee/ Marhaug- Wake Up Awesome

I was unable to get ahold of two Marhaug albums that came out this year and have been unable to hear them.  Given how great this and Virginia Plane were, that is a real shame.  For Wake Up Awesome, Yeh continues to do her bizarre cello play style, while Lee drums and Marhaug plays the cup of water or whatever he does.

Really though, it doesnt matter what he is actually doing, because the end sound is great.  Of Yeh's 3 releases this year, i felt her solo album was the worst.  Her sound is overwhelming and really great, but often it feels like one piece of a bigger puzzle.  Here though, her sound feels a perfect fit.  Some of the tracks go pretty out there (it is improv after all), but overall, given the background of this album and the artists coming together for it, it is surprisingly accessible.

Try a sampling of the album Here.

Without Noticing
27) Fire!- (Without Noticing)

Gustafsson's music is a hit or miss for me.  When he is off (the collaboration with Stetson for instance), his saxophone is so overbearing with its bursts that it completely destroys the track.  On this, however, he is on point, delivering intensity to the sound while still creating a memorable sequence to the tracks.  I have talked to many who disagree with my opinion on Gustafsson, but they aren't writing this list, so too bad.

As far as (Without Noticing) goes, Gustafsson's band create a very similar sound to that of their Fire! Orchestra album of 2013.  Often a repetitious loop sets in that holds each track together.  "Would I Whip" really showcases this, and quite excellently.

Even when Gustafsson's saxophone is at its most outlandish, he still keeps it on a leash.  "At Least on your Door" has his sax sputtering out at the listener, but it a quieter, muddled manner.

Finally, Gustafsson's band rocks.  They end up being slightly on the backing band side of things on this release, but it is obvious the drummer has some talent.

Listen to a track Here, and if you can afford the massive shipping charges to the US, buy it from Rune Grammofon.

Exorcise Tape
26) Demon Queen- Exorcise Tape (Esorcizzare Nastro)

I was initially a little underwhelmed when I heard the first previewed tracks from Demon Queen.  But, I make a point to preorder my Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow albums nowadays, so I decided to risk it.

Boy am I glad I did.  Demon Queen is a real nice change of pace for Tobacco.  Sure, Zackey Force Funk isn't going to be remembered as some rap great, but his mix in the album feels right.  Rarely does he take the spotlight, but when he's on it sounds good and when he's absent his influence on the sound can still be felt (with the exception of "Love Hour Zero").

As far as the previewed tracks go, they feel great when listened to within the confines of the album.  As far as 'Satanic Stripper Music' (yes that is the genre it was tagged as when I used my download code) this album may be the best the genre has to offer.

Stream the album Here, and buy one of the beautiful hot pink records Here.

The Invisible Curse
25)  Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet- The Invisible Curse

I feel like I have told my readers that I dislike Lescalleet and Dilloway.  Yeah, I know, everyone likes em, Yadda Yadda Yadda...they just usually are a miss for me.  I still will check out some of their new stuff, and almost always I just end up disappointed.  Heck, even Lescalleet's collaboration, Photographs, was a huge letdown to me, despite the numerous high praises I heard it receive.

The Invisible Curse, however;  now this was an album I could get behind.  I haven't heard a Drumm album I cared for since 2012's Relief, so this album was just beyond all expectations for me.  Over its two tracks, this duo create a great sound that combines Lescalleet's minimalism with Drumm's intensity.  The end result being an album that keeps to lower pitches, leaves static to a minimum (it is definitely there though), and blends noise, ambient, and drone is a way that makes me glad I have given Lescalleet so many chances.  Sure, this is only 15 minutes long and I should probably just consider it an EP...well I never bothered to check which it is, and I really like it.

Glistening Examples has the whole thing for stream, so take advantage of that Here.

Urban Problems
24) Cavityfang- Urban Problems

I've Said it before, and I know I am going to say it again.  Table & Chairs Record Shop is on the ball.  Last year they released Kingtearsbattrip (which has only gone up in my book since last year).  This year, they released Cavityfang's Urban Problems.  This is one of the two most under-appreciated jazz albums of the year (not going to give the other away just yet).

Urban Problems has style.  I have heard many better jazz recordings as far as technical work goes, but this is not about that.  If this album was about technical work, they probably could reduce the number of drummers in the band from 3 to 2l; but it isn't.  Rather, Urban Problems is a great, fluid album that explores many different sounds, from the slower "Average Shopper" to the fast paced "Rara".  With these tracks, either drums are driving them or they are creating offbeat time signatures which work to restrain the pace.

"Droopy-Eyed Monster Shuffle" is a great closer for this album.

Don't believe me? Stream the album Here, and then support Table and Chairs so I can boast more about their releases in the future.

Endless Endings
23) Moshimoss- Endless Endings

One part Baths, one part Blue Sky Black Death, Moshimoss has found a nice niche within the downtempo realm.  Endless Endings is an album that sounds depressing, but feels uplifting.  Often the percussion is click and tap samples, yet some tracks feel quite percussive.  Really, the sound has an oxymoron feel to it at times, but in a great way.

My favorite track, as well as one of my favorite track of the year, is "Yellowish Green Experience".  It features almost bjork-like vocals (as fans of Baths probably have heard) and creates a great, uplifting sound.

If you like downtempo, like either Baths or BSBD, or just want to listen to a warm album with fantastic production, give this album a try.

You can here a sample Here, and get the album Here.

22) Jefre Cantu-Ledesma- Devotion

The first few moments of Devotion may be slightly offputting, given the swirls of static, but underneath them is a humming synth similar to one of the ones found on Tim Hecker- VirginsDevotion is very much about digging through the sound while you listen and picking out all the details mixed in layer-by-layer.

Technically, this was an EP, but it is relatively long (21 minutes) and was better than Gift of Tongues (though that was also good).  If anything, part of Devotion's strength is in it's short length.  This album is quite gripping and still ends sooner than I expect it to.

There is a warmth to the noise found within this album.  Maybe it is the strings layered in.

Listen to the album and buy it Here.

Melt urself down
21) Melt Yourself Down- Melt Yourself Down

London based Melt Yourself Down released this debut album this year.  Their sound is funk mixed with 'world' music.  I was a big fan of 2012 Funk Police- Hot we are, Funk we Play, and this album is pretty similar.  Also, if you are a fan of The Rapture this album may be for you.

While overall melt Yourself Down is a funk album, some of its strongest tracks are not actually funky at all.  "Free Walk" is one of the best tracks on here, and it is really quite mellow.

Honestly, I listened to this album probably ten times this week trying to figure out what I wanted to write, and the word "Good" was the only thing that kept coming to mind.  So I'm going with that.  This album was Good.

Buy and stream the album Here.

Continue on to 20-11