Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Super Luxury- Ten Solid Years of Applause (2015)

Ten Solid Years of Applause
This album was the first noise rock album of 2015 I gave a serious listen to and I suggest you take the time to check it out too.  Leeds based Super Luxury are a noise rock band featuring two of the guys in Cattle.  As Chris from the band told me, the band is more influenced by Fugazi than his other band (no surprise given that one song is titled "Ian Mackaye made so much money out of Fugazi that he lives in a solid gold house and drives a solid gold car and he sits on his driveway but he can't go anywhere because the wheels are made of solid gold"), proving this still is a genre that enjoys tongue-in-cheek song titles.

This album has a little bit for everybody on it.  Fans of bands like Dope Body will enjoy the more upbeat rock tracks like "Constant Delicious" and "Salem Tears", while the track "Drunk on Power" probably sounds most like Fugazi to me.

While this band may not have that funky bass I felt buried in Cattle's EP, they have traded that out for a tight, high quality release that makes 2015 all the more promising.

Stream a few tracks Here, where you can purchase the album as well.

2015 Update

Now that I am finally done with my 2014 countdown, I can begin looking ahead at 2015.  Already we have some great albums out that I want to begin to review.  Even more exciting though, Procurement Records will be releasing 50 copies of White Spot-Father Songs on cassette in early April.  The guy sent me the album to review and I asked if instead I could release it...couple months later and here we are.  If you come to the blog with any frequency, please take the time to at least stream it and give it a listen.

So long as this does decent enough to cover my costs of publishing it, Procurement Records will do its best to continue releasing physical copies of noise rock we love. 

That said, go pre-order a copy now.  All profits on new releases by Procurement Records will go to the artist and they retain the rights to their music; what other label can say that?

Whitespot.bandcamp.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top 50 albums of 2014: 10-1

Top albums of 2014



Tomorrow's Hits
10) The Men- Tomorrow's Hits

Tomorrow's hits really are anything but that.  Rather, The Men again change their sound, this time going for a throwback to classic rock reminiscent of great artist like Credence Clearwater Revival.  Like most hit songs form that time period, the song lengths are a little longer than now on the radio, with tracks averaging a little over 4.5 minutes in length.

What makes this album great to me though, is that while it is holds a throwback sound, it never feels pretentious or comes off as though 'this style is so much superior to modern music'.  Rather, the sound feels natural to the band as though they almost stumbled upon it and went with it.  this feeling is most present in the song "Get What You Give" where the laxical approach of the band is ever-present.

My favorite tracks on this album were "Another night" and "Different Days", though "Pearly Gate" is a pretty stellar track too.  Really, this album all-around and I highly suggest you give it a listen while sitting on a porch and throwing back a few beers with old college friends.

Stream the track "Pearly Gate" Here.

Violent Shiver
9) Benjamin Booker- Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker blends a slightly southern rock with the modern blues sound popularized by the Black Keys.  His Self-Titled debut goes so high up on my list though because of his ability to write great songs that I enjoy, yet can also play in front of someone like my grandmother without being embarrassed; something that is overally kind of rare in much of the music in my Top 50.

After hearing this album for the first time, my immediate thought was how is this not tearing up the radio charts.  Even as I am listening to it now and writing this, I continue to tell myself that this guy will be a household name within 10 years.  And that is something that I hope is true, because if he can keep as consistent of a sound as is present on this album, then that will at least mean I will get a few more great albums to listen to.

If you are someone who actually reads what I write, then take some time to hunt down a copy of this album so you have something good to put on the next time you have someone over who really doesn't listen to that much music.

Stream the track "Violent Shiver" Here.

Abandoned City
8) Hauschka- Abandoned City

I first found Hauschka when I was looking up people using prepared pianos a few years back.  If you don't know what that is, watch this older video of him setting up and playing a prepared piano Here. 

While I try not to fall too hard for gimmicks, the prepared piano has always been one I have loved.  Once you realize that this album is just one guy soloing a very unique piano, each sound constantly brings to question how Hauschka is achieving it; is it by placing marbles on the strings? a playing card? did he drop tune a lower note? add something heavier to the hammer?  These are the questions that play through my head throughout each listen.

While all these questions are well and good, they really wouldn't matter if the album was crap.  Fortunately, regardless of how the album was created, the album still has a lot going for it.  Tracks like "Thames Town" are lush and vivid, with a huge sound.  Even more so given that Hauschka is just one guy.

Stream the track "Elizabeth Bay" Here.

Bon Voyage
7)Sport- Bon Voyage

For someone who listened to very little pop-punk or emo in high school, SPORT definitely have a way of giving me nostalgic feelings towards my youth.  

While this album may never have a really unique sound, the singer fits their sound perfect, and there are no songs that feel out of place.  0 filler here.

If you are a fan of either of the genres in their current state, then give this a try.  Highly recommended to fans of Glocca Mora or Spraynard.

Stream, Download, or purchase the album.  All possible Here

VDSQ
6) Bill Orcutt- VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume Ten

Bill Orcutt's playing on this album is simply magical to me.  I have been a big fan of his stuff for a while now, but this album may be my favorite.  Right form the start of "O Platitides!" I find the sound to have a much better pacing than his previous works, including the great 2013 A History of Everyone.  Many of the songs balance an airy, spacial sound with his famous 'hit every note at once' sound.

Over these six tracks, there are moments taken and repeated.  On "An Inadvertent Epic" a brief high twang comes into play that can be found in numerous other tracks, every time in the same style with the same emotion behind it.  Some may argue this is just a further example that every Orcutt track is the same (I have heard this argument).  I, however, think it is moments like this throughout the album that makes it feel so cohesive.

If you are one of those people that hears this music and immediately says "anyone could do that", well please point me to similar music that comes close to evoking such a response that I get from this, because I have yet to find any other guitar soloist coming even close to how good this sounds.

Stream the track "History and Repetition" Here.

S.T.L.A.
5) Gordon Ashworth- S.T.L.A
I bought this on a whim after hearing good things.  What a fantastic purchase.  This album does a fantastic job of overlaying flowing synthetic hums with acoustics.  This album has a way of putting me at peace.

There are some albums that I have a very hard time writing about.  usually it is albums like these, simply because they are so intoxicating that it is hard to find the correct words to explain the sound.

Listen to a track from the album Here.
World Champions of Male Chastity
4) Cowards- World Champions in Male Chastity

It is a shame this band died before I had ever even heard them.  World Champions in Male Chastity, their debut album, is sadly a collection of recordings over the course of their existence (from my understanding anyway).  Over the twelve tracks on this album the band dabbles with a few different styles of noise rock, from a female-fronted, Yeah Yeah Yeah's style to a more straight forward male vocalist noise rock approach.  

Overall World Champions of Male Chastity is surprisingly tame given the album title, but that is not to say the album is not fantastic.  Every track stands out and no moment feels out of place.  If you like a straight forward noise rock that has balls but is never pretentious, this is the album for you.

Stream the album Here, and feel free to read my previous review in our Top 10 Noise Rock Albums of 2014.



Interrupted Forms
3) Aquarelle- Interrupted Forms

A well done electro-acoustic album tends to be hard to come by.  This is one of them.  Between the warmth of the static hiss and the slow strum of major notes, Aquarelle creates an atmosphere that conjures images of warm fireplaces and late night ramblings with old friends.  During the summer I found this album to be good, but as it has gotten cold Interrupted Forms has become an even more personal, provocative listen.

I have already praised the album once, so if you need a more in-depth review, go Here.
While you read it, take the time to stream/ purchase it Here.


Life Under the Art Flag
2) Pete Swanson- Life Under The Art Flag

If at the beginning of 2014 you would have told me a live album would be my number 2 album of the year, I would not have believed you.  But Life Under the Art Flag, is something else.  For those who know Pete Swanson's solo stuff, this may be tied with Man With Potential for my favorite album of his.  For those who don't know Pete Swanson, immediately go hunt down Man With Potential.  

On each of the two, thirty minute live sets on this cassette, Mr Swanson creates repetitious techno which slowly devolves into overdriven static.  The end result being a truly unique listen that is somewhere between the worlds scariest rave and the most high octane noise set imaginable.

Best Cassette Release of 2014.  Best Live Album of 2014.

Totem
1) White Suns-Totem

First off, I am super biased towards White Suns.  Extremely harsh, borderline noise, noise rock is my favorite genre.  I mean, after AIDS Wolf left us, I emailed them about some of their old gear to try and purchase it (they never got back to me sadly, though I did email a little late).  Also, chatting with two of them at their show they seemed like real down-to-earth dudes; and playing a free show for only a handful of people while touring probably makes it hard to be so laid back.

That said, White Suns killed it this year with this release.  I already wrote about the release in our Top 10 Noise Rock Albums of 2014. Probably don't have too much more to say, except that I am ready for their next album, and would put out a 50 cassette release for them anytime they ever asked.

Do yourself a favor, prepare yourself in advance for a tense, unrelenting journey and put this album on pronto.  Stream and buy Here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 50 Albums of 2014: 20-11

Procurement Records



Guilt
20) Animal Lover- Guilt
Taken from Top Ten Noise Rock Albums of 2014

This 12” made it into my top three because it is probably the best example of ‘noise rock’ that I can think of from the year.  I mean every good noise rock buzz word needs used when describing them: ‘Dissonant’, ‘angular guitar riffs’, ‘sharp/metallic tone’, well you get the point.  When I begin writing my review of this album I found myself having a hard time choosing which tracks to point out because this album is consistently good.  “Lucky Pastures” showcases some of the best song writing in noise rock this year and “Neighbors” is a great closer for the album.
The album is under 20 minutes, and well worth your time.  Stream it and check out their Bandcamp where you can also purchase a live cassette version.
 
Concrete Misery
19) Sevendeaths- Concrete Misery

It must feel good to release a debut as strong as this album.  Concrete Misery is a dense, synth-driven drone album that was done right.  The tracks are long enough to have time to build up and focus on creating tension filled atmospheres, but short enough to have removed any excess filler.  

Tracks like “All Night Graves” do a great job of blending synth arpegiations into the composition, and “In the Room” works well as a strong closing track to the album.  In short, it is almost hard to write about this album because whenever I try I end up getting caught up listening.

Listen to the track "Petrograde" Here.

Jerry Douglas
18) The Earls of Leicester- The Earls of Leicester

Sometimes I get so caught up in finding the next new thing, I almost miss a great album from an older style.  The Earl’s of Leicester’s self titled is one such album.  I don't listen to too much older bluegrass, but tracks like "I'll Go Steppin Too" have lyrics that remind me of artists like Bill Monroe.

Overall, Jerry Douglas sounds much better in The Earls of Leicester than on his 2005 solo album I've heard entitled The Best Kept Secret.

Not too much else to say about this album, since I am not an expert on the genre.  Was very surprised when I saw this album won a Grammy the other night, as it didn't seem to get that much press throughout the year.  Good for them.

Listen to The Earls performing the opening track live Here.

Waiting for Surfin Bird
17) Mincemeat or Tenspeed- Waiting for Surfin' Bird

Taken from an Earlier Review
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. 

Stream the album Here.

Doing it Right and Doing it Well
16) Biscuit Mouth- Doing it Right and Doing it Well
Taken from an Earlier Review


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. 

Stream and buy the album Here.

Spiritual Emergency
15) Guardian Alien- Spiritual Emergency

Spiritual Emergency sounds exactly how I expected the follow up album to To See the World Given to a One-Love Entity to sound like.  Liturgy's Greg Fox continues to bring a relentless tribal drumming to the table, with psychedelic guitar twangs and effect-soaked vocals litter the tracks.

Greg FoxOver the course of the five tracks, Guardian Alien keep to their hallucinogenic fueled themes, with the opening track repeatedly telling the listener to "Be the Tranquilizer".  The second track opens with a sample stating "the whole universe is a model contained in my head which contains a model of my head, so I have two heads, the head outside the universe and the head inside the universe".  The epic closing track using samples discussing embracing 'Spiritual Emergencies', or moments of existence when people have out of body experiences. even the album art holds to this psychedelic theme, with the front cover (as pictured above), being mirrored on the back cover by this image:

While Guardian Alien are the epitome of psychedelic wankery, they also seem to be one of the modern masters of it, and this album further solidifies them as deserving recognition as such.

Listen to the track "Vapour" Here.

Woe
14) NAH- Woe

This is fantastic.  Honestly, this is the only album that even compares to his debut, Tapefuck.  But it may exceed it.  This is literally a mix of the style of Kanye’s newer production with GIVV’s bass-centric raps.  Given how short and sweet this album is, it is amazingly original.  NAH has evolved his instrumentals, but they remain his own, and the lyrical themes seem almost untouched in a genre filled with copycats.

Highly suggest you take 20 minutes out of your life and experience one of the best hip hop acts of 2014.  Check it out and cop a copy Here.


The Landing
13) Tom James Scott- The Landing

My first experience with Tom James Scott came earlier this year with his album Teal.  While I enjoyed that album enough to listen to his follow up, The Landing, it was nowhere as good.  Over the course of The Landing's two 10-minute tracks, Mr. Scott paints a lovely, serene picture.  Not all that much happens during this album, but the constant shifts of tones perfectly captures a sound that I find relaxing.

This album is on the milder end of ambient, so go into it without the expectation of electronic drone influences ala Tim Hecker.  Rather, get out your most comfy pair of headphones and put it on before going to bed.

Unfortunately I was an idiot and missed my chance to purchase the physical copy of this, but it can still be streamed Here.

Summer Scab
12) Realms- Summer Scab

Listening to Summer Scab brings to mind a lot of great producers such as Knxledge, Comfort Fit, and Teebs.  This primarily instrumental, cloud-rap mixtape is a real showcase of production.  Sampled hooks are pitched up in a way that stands out without being out of place and the occasional stolen rap verse feels right at home.

Sure this album clocks in at a mere 20 minutes, but almost each track holds its own and never wears out its welcome.  While I have definitely listened to much less instrumental electronic music recently, Realms has had the ability to keep me coming back and is someone to watch out for in the future.

Stream/purchase the album Here.

2013
11) Misha Mishajashvili-2013

Misha’s album, 2012 was my number one album of, appropriately, 2012. All through 2013 I waited for this release, but it never came.  Finally, though, Misha’s release, 2013, arrived in April of 2014.  This is definitely a case of better late than never.

Again, Misha gives us an album filled with hand drumming, chanting, and what appears to be propagandist speeches.  As with all of Misha's stuff, there is very little I know to compare it to.  His stuff is original, engaging, and like nothing else.  A true juxtaposition of tribal drumming overlayed with apocalyptic radio transmissions.

I don't care that this was an EP, it is under-appreciated and deserves a spot on this list.  Stream the album Here.

Top 50 Albums of 2014: 30-21

Top 50 albums of 2014


Ekki Gera Fikniefnum
30) Drekka- Ekki Gera Fikniefnum


I found myself listening to this album a lot more at the beginning of the year.  While the repetitive chanting may dissuade some, this album hides a very unique sound to it; as though an ambient/drone album is secretly holding the interworkings of a pop-album movie score.  At times the album reminds me a lot of Tim Hecker (“Tarwestraat 52”), but overall the artist focuses much less on tension in his sound and more on creating a vast, haunted atmosphere (even more noticeable on the Live cassette released on Dais records in 2014, which has many hints of Misha Mishajashvili in it).

Listen to the album Here.

Maximum Vegetation
29) Room 204-Maximum Vegetation


I didn’t listen to too many math rock albums last year, but this was one that I would put on quite a bit.  The guitar has a great tone on it that really fits the album, and the bird chirps that happen intermittently between tracks add a welcome warmth to the already inviting atmosphere created on these tracks.  


 If you’re a fan of the genre, do yourself a favor and give this album a listen and purchase the album on either CD or Record Here.






Health and Safety
28) Seeami-Health and Safety


Here is a small, random bandcamp release that ended up really catching me by surprise.  First off, the art and physical release are nice and polished, but more importantly this short little album is great at what it is: acoustic/ambient with bedroom production.  I have often found that the right producers can make very simple song structures sound beautiful; and seeami has a way of doing this.  Tracks like “Gel” and “Cold AF” both show off proof of how song production can surpass instrument technicality.  


While the album may feel a little too simple at time, that is, in part, what makes it have a lot of feeling to it.


Listen to it Here, and if there are any still left, grab a copy of the cassette before it's too late.


2014 Noise release
27) Shapeless Coat of Arms- Shapeless Coat of Arms (cassette)


While there are a few noise related albums on the list this year, as far as strictly noise goes, this album was probably my favorite.  Rarely did I feel too overwhelmed, and never did I feel like I was listening to a continual wall of static that I could quickly recreate using Audacity.  The tracks never hurt me with continual high pitches, nor did they bore me with a focus on minimalistic changes.

Instead, Shapeless Coat of Arms presents an ever-fluid song structure, where lyrical parts remind me of the band Sightings, and instrumental parts play like a toned-down Sissy Spacek.  Obviously, if you don’t like noise, this isn’t for you.  But if you do, you better grab one of the few Tomentosa have left either Here or Here.


Listen to Side A Here.


Rooms of the House
26) La Dispute-Rooms of the House


I had a few friends who always use to listen to La Dispute and lots of other post-hardcore.  I never really got into it.  This album, though, clicked with me right away.  Maybe it was the depressing middle class themes, or maybe just the mixture of spoken/sung lyrics.  Regardless, this album gives me nostalgia for moments I’ve never experienced and reminds me of times I was vulnerable.

Tracks like “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice” have a great mixture of near absurdist lyricism and storytelling, and “Woman (in mirror)” follows it perfectly.


Listen to the whole album Here.


Lost in the Spectacle
25) York Factory Complaint- Lost in the Spectacle

Review taken from Here.

This album definitely caught me by surprise. Harsh static drones, industrial electronics, overdriven vocals: Lost in the Spectacle is like bastard child of Wolf Eyes and Sunn O))).  If that either sounds off-putting to you, or you don’t know either of those artists, than this probably is not a release for you.  If that sounds like something up your alley, however, then this will probably be an album you don’t want to miss.


Lost in the Spectacle is quite literally that; a spectacle.  By the time the listener is even halfway through the album, is continual droning begins to sink in.  As “Commodified” begins, the album slowly switches from attempting to scare you off to entrancing the listener.

Listen to the album Here.


If Anything
24) Greys- If Anything
Review taken from Here.

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.


face skeleton
23) Wizards Of-Face//Skeleton
Review taken from Here.


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.

Aurora
22) Ben Frost- A U R O R A


I loved By The Throat when that came out, but Ben’s sound has changed quite a bit since then.  Sure, I’ll be honest and admit I like By The Throat more, but this is still great.  Here, much of the intense buildup and anxiety-inducing sound is gone, but it is replaced by an energetic pulse that seems continuous throughout AU R O R A.  


If you have never heard Ben Frost, this is probably the best album to start with, so take a listen Here. 


Ultima II Massage 

21) Tobacco- Ultima II Massage


Like many who have stumbled upon Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow, ever since I have had a great appreciation for the unique, vox infused sound.  As Tobacco, Tom Fec tends to record to a darker side not much seen on recent Black Moth albums.  With Ultima II Massage, this remains true, as the album is filled with an almost lush yet grimy sound.


Anyone who has heard Tobacco before knows what to expect.  Anyone who hasn’t probably won’t be any the wiser after reading this short review.


Take a listen to the track “Eruption” Here.  Ghostly Records may still have copies available, as should the Black Moth store.