The Decemberists – The King Is Dead [2011]

Posted in folk,folk rock,indie folk,indie rock by deek on December 18, 2010

For those who weren’t on board with 2009’s lavish rock opera The Hazards of Love, Colin Meloy and company are giving you another variation on their brand of theatrical, literate indie pop. Direct Current Music and a handful of other sources report that on Jan. 11, The Decemberists will release The King Is Dead. It’s the band’s sixth full-length album, their third for Capitol Records, and most likely not their first Morrissey bon mot. Possibly attributable to the influence of special guest Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Meloy promises listeners a more straightforward, folk-rock approach on The King Is Dead — and it shows in “Down By the Water” and some of other new tunes the band has been playing live. You should still probably keep a thesaurus handy and the Wikipedia entry on the 19th century bookmarked. -Prefix Mag

Asobi Seksu – Fluorescence [2011]

Posted in dream pop,indie pop by deek on December 18, 2010

Asobi Seksu hit critical gold in 2006 with their sophomore record, Citrus. But the New York City-based act saw their stock fall with a less impressive, but still solid follow-up, 2009’s Hush, which represented a shift toward a much more subdued style. The band, which functions as a duo but plays as a quartet live, looks to remain on its mellow vibe here with track titles such as “Deep Weird Sleep,” “Ocean,” and “Perfectly Crystal” on Fluorescence. It is their fourth proper album and their second affair with Polyvinyl Records.

Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal [2010]

Posted in ambient,electronic,minimal synth by deek on December 14, 2010

Hailing from Brooklyn (though he records in Massachussetts), Oneohtrix Point Never seems to be ignoring all the wonderful hipsters and angsty song writers that heavily populate the community. Maybe he bought a bunch of synths from an indie band, but no one would have predicted he would play them all at once at live shows. He has said that after growing up listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Birds of Fire he wanted his music to sound just like those synths, but without all the other pesky instruments. Having released a Santa’s sack-worth of very limited releases (all of which sold out quickly), Lopatin’s fourth full-length is a more complete feeling record, snugly composed from start to finish, exhibiting a freedom of space not often heard in strictly electronic drift artists. The music is certainly comparable to the adventurism of Burning Star Core, but without the music’s occasional attempts at killing the audience. The oddity of sounds, including Lopatin’s affected vocals on the title track (a nod to Fever Ray?), are certainly compelling, seemingly self-aware, moving, and living on their own terms. This, to me, is a great success. When music that is purely electronic feels alive, it is truly worthwhile. Retunal’s hypnotic ouroboros is just that. -The Silent Ballet

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner [2010]

Posted in chillwave,electronic,idm by deek on December 14, 2010

Ever since Burial unleashed Untrue into the ears of those who knew nothing about dubstep, much less it’s many incarnations, there has been a delightful explosion of broken beauty in the electronic beats emanating from London-town. Many have attempted to imitate the musical and emotional depth achieved by Burial, but few have developed an aesthetic that reflects Burial’s but is wholly their own. Now, to say London producer Gold Panda is a direct progenitor of Burial’s UK garage inflected dubstep would be naïve, but what Gold Panda has achieved on his debut LP for Ghostly International is nearly as captivating, nuanced, and realized. It’s been just over a year since Gold Panda stood dubstep critics and fans on their heads with his gorgeous, withholding song “Quitter’s Raga”. Clocking in at just under two minutes, “Quitter’s Raga” displayed Gold Panda’s masterful sampling technique as well as his love for Japanese and Southeast Asian music and culture. Building the track around the majestic sounds of the Japanese koto, the song skips and jumps, edging closer and closer to breaking a part, but ends before it can. The beat structure in “Quitter’s Raga” recalls dubstep’s swing as it eases into a half-time progression, but Gold Panda has refrained from keeping this structure in his latest work, and to great affect. Lucky Shiner (the affectionate nickname for Gold Panda’s grandmother) is Gold Panda’s first full-length LP, and succeeds with an arresting and astonishing collection of sounds, imaginary places, heartache, and celebration. Recorded at his Aunt and Uncle’s rural cottage in Essex, Gold Panda spent two weeks alone, walking their dogs and marinating in a vision of melody and song structure that could be both personal and inviting. From the track’s opener “You” to the album’s closer, (also titled “You.”), the record is bookended by immediacy and intimacy, but travels through genre, place, and time through out the middle. Songs like “Same Dream China”, or “I’m With You But I’m Lonely” use sounds that manage to conjure a vintage, nostalgic vibe with out being heartsick; a xylophone, a Chinese zheng, a cheap Casio from your grandmother. The strength of the record warrants every track a thorough listen, but it’s songs like “Snow & Taxis” and “India Lately” that are the glue that holds the record together. Each song has expert structure, shimmering melodies, and enough drums and bass to put these songs in the club. It’s safe to say Gold Panda has quickly placed himself in a 2010 roster of excellent records, next to Four Tet, Caribou, and Delorean, all artists who already have a depth to their musical catalogs. I only hope Gold Panda won’t get lost in these comparisons, as his productions confidently stand on their own. -PopMatters

Abner Jay – Folk Song Stylist [2010]

Posted in blues,folk by lifetimeguerintee on December 11, 2010



Frog Eyes – Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph [2010]

Posted in experimental rock,indie rock by deek on December 11, 2010

If we were to take Carey Mercer and his cohorts — members of Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Wolf Parade, etc. — as a sampling of what Canadian musicians are like, we’d assume everyone who ever picked up an accordion or pan flute north of the border was prolific, virtuosic, impassioned, and a little unhinged. But I guess that wouldn’t be quite statistically sound. Though Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph is Frog Eyes’ Dead Oceans debut, as far as I can tell it’s their sixth full-length overall, the previous LPs having been put out by small Canadian and Californian indies Global Symphonic, Animal World, and Absolutely Kosher. And if you liked those, you’ll love this. Much of the same Frog Eyes material is here: the frenetic guitar refrains, the slithering keys (even without Spencer Krug performing them anymore), the manic drumming, and Mercer’s voice howling and gurgling around it all. This release feels freer, though — not easier, necessarily, but delivered with a clarity of purpose not quite as muddled, consumption-wise, by sheer weirdness as was their previous LP, Tears Of The Valedictorian, for instance. Which isn’t to say Paul’s Tomb isn’t a weird album. It certainly is, when compared to, like, normal music with singers that don’t sound like they may actually be on the brink of strangling themselves to death behind their microphones. It’s just that there’s more of a familiar rock framework for listeners to latch onto than there ever has been before. The band starts delivering it immediately. The first few seconds of Paul’s Tomb are about as compelling a rock album beginning as you’ll find, a distorted, crunchy guitar lick and feedback followed by our introduction to Mercer’s characteristic gutpunching holler. The leadoff, “A Flower In A Glove,” is a nine-minute epic that opens up into an almost speak-sung, keyboard-driven rout. Mercer delivers like a frantic preacher, articulating his words in a way that suggests that they run through him from somewhere unbidden, and all he can do is be a conduit for them. And what words emerge! I was fortunate enough to procure a lyrics sheet and got to read all the verses usually half-obscured by the music. I knew Mercer weaves a mythological world, that he makes rampant use of literary references and puts more than a little syntactical feeling behind his lyrical convictions. What I didn’t know was that I would find a half-stanza in “Styled By Dr. Robert” that reads:

And the glory of economy,
Is when your dwarf shall become a man,
Woe to the night, woe to the night,
Emaciated forester dancing in the moonlight,
Dancing just to stave off the hunger — it’s a hunger where
You want to hit him in the fucking knees.
And then you hit him in the fucking knees!

Or that there would be a line in “Odetta’s War” that commands, “Cast off the fabled leotard, flee the legions of FAKES by the shore.” The fabled leotard!? I’m sold. Frankly, though, a hard sell’s not really necessary; after listening to other bands in the Mercer/Krug catalog, Paul’s Tomb sounds comfortingly familiar. Especially toward the end of “A Flower In A Glove,” when new addition Megan Boddy’s voice enters, it forcibly recalls the vocal interplay between Krug and Camilla Wynne Ingr in Sunset Rubdown (even though Mercer isn’t in that band). The very ambition of the album secures its home among its melodic brethren. So undoubtedly it’s Mercer’s vocals that characterize Paul’s Tomb, or any Frog Eyes release. But even if you could bypass his emphatic delivery, how can you ignore the use of words like “messianic” (“The Sensitive Girls”) or “dilettantes” (“Lear, In The Park”)? Under these ejaculations, though, lies a vast web of adeptly intermixed counterpoint instrumental parts, driven by soaring keys, harried guitar, or Melanie Campbell’s insistent drumming. In this way, the idiosyncrasy of Mercer’s vocal style might do the band as a whole a disservice, running the risk of driving away casual listeners that just might not be able to hang on through the breakers. Well. As Jane Austen writes in Pride and Prejudice, “Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth your regret.” -Tiny Mix Tapes

The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts [2011]

Posted in indie electronic,indie rock by deek on December 11, 2010

The Go! Team is releasing its third full-length album, Rolling Blackouts, in early 2011 on British-based label Memphis Industries. The album cover is a collage of images that are as eclectic as the English sextet itself. Rolling Blackouts features guest vocal appearances by Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. After a nearly four year hiatus, Brighton’s eclectic sextet is back with an album that has a song for almost everyone. Per usual, founding member Parton has cleverly figured out to push the boundaries of several genres, while combining them to create a unique sound. If you like dance-driven hip-hop, then you’ll be happy, and the same goes if you California-driven indie pop. Sometimes, inconsistency over the course of a record can be distracting, but somehow, The Go! Team not only makes their interesting track selection and musical work, but it sounds terrific. -FILTER Magazine

Lone – Emerald Fantasy Tracks [2010]

Posted in ambient techno,electronic,idm,instrumental hip-hop by deek on December 11, 2010

Matt Cutler, AKA Lone, first turned my head in 2009 with “Joy Reel / Sunset Teens,” which refracted the burgeoning sense of classic-rave redux (think Zomby) through the dewy ambience and nostalgia of Boards of Canada—a surefire combination, basically. Both tracks stayed in my head even though what was great about them was how they sounded, even more than the tunes per se. Nevertheless, as Lone has progressed since then—from Ecstasy and Friends and “Once in a While / Raptured,” both for Werk, to “Pineapple Crush / Angel Brain” and now Emerald Fantasy Tracks, both for Cutler’s own Magic Wire—he’s created a body of work that forms a continuous line. Which is funny, since one of Cutler’s real gifts is in his packaging; putting his singles on one of the albums would upset their balance as discrete works, carefully planned and executed. Yet everything is immediate: Lone’s riffs tend to grab and hold, and even when he’s muddying the waters with blobby bass and synths that seem daubed on, like bingo markers, he always presents a big picture with details. Emerald Fantasy Tracks bears a similar relationship to “Pineapple Crush / Angel Brain” that Ecstasy and Friends did to “Joy Reel / Sunset Teens”—it’s a slightly softened variation and expansion, more luxurious and therefore more adaptable for settling in for 40 or more minutes, rather than the zig-zag joy-buzzer feel of the singles. Relaxing the ear-grating quality of “Crush”‘s super-sharp synth riff, EFT is every bit as agog, as ravey—only this version is far more Detroit-centric than it is indebted to breakbeats and pitch-shifted divas. Just listen to the snare and hi-hat programming of “Cloud 909,” “Aquamarine,” “Moon Beam Harp” and “Rissottowe4,” whose accents and touches owe the Motor City, not to mention the industrial English North—to say nothing of the loosely lovely synth figures, calm string pads and a feel pitched between rock-the-house and know-thyself. Cutler’s ear for timbre and knack for sound treatments makes the entire album hum. At the center of “Reschooling” is a riff (played on a wooden xylophone?) that’s been treated to just enough filtering to make it go in and out of focus, giving the track even more of an undulating feel. So does the rolling bass of the finale, “The Birds Don’t Fly This High,” which provides an anchor for all that dazzling stuff before it; give Cutler credit for knowing how to come down as well as take off. -Resident Advisor

Hammock – Longest Year (EP) [2010]

Posted in ambient,post-rock,shoegaze by deek on December 11, 2010

Musically, Hammock is a band that trades in the slightest of nuances. To the impatient, this equates to each of their releases — there are nine total since 2004 — sounding roughly the same: Slow, dense, shadowy and possibly outright boring. Frankly, this music isn’t even meant for most modern, iPod-toting listeners (though, undoubtedly, they could be converted). Rather, as best heard on their most recent LP, Chasing After Shadows… Living With the Ghosts, Hammock (as the name infers) is a band worth taking in as a whole. Their work is experiential, crafted to soundtrack more than mere moments, but entire afternoons spent lost in thought or quaint appreciation for some surrounding beauty. Moreover, its impressionistic enough for you to find your own meaning within — album and song titles are the only words invoked to dictate feeling — but, it can’t be ignored that this music reflects its creators’ sober optimism about the world around them. More specifically, Longest Year sits in between Chasing… and its predecessor, Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow, a minimalistic “live studio performance” album composed specifically for the overseas debut exhibition of Riceboy Sleeps, the art collaboration of Sigur Rós’ Jónsi Birgisson and Parachutes’ Alex Somers. Like Maybe…, Longest Year is beat-less, its rhythms largely conjured from Slocum’s string performances, though rhythm is a relative concept when discussing ambient music, of course. And, like Chasing…, the EP continues Hammock’s interest in creating moments of swollen immensity that reach massive heights without bowing to the now-tired “Explosions formula”: Loud-quiet-loud-quiet-louder. -Consequence of Sound

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine [1989] (2010 Remaster)

Posted in alternative rock,industrial,synth pop by deek on December 11, 2010

For many artists, a debut album can offer the purest statement of purpose, but for the bands that popularized industrial music, first albums typically served as prologue to a story that wouldn’t develop until later. Although Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 debut, bore more of a resemblance to what the band became than, say, Ministry’s cringe-worthy 1983 new-wave debut, it still differs markedly from The Slip, two decades later. Newly remastered with a bonus track (a cover of Queen’s “Get Down Make Love,” a B-side and former staple of NIN’s live sets), Pretty Hate Machine sounds great, but remains the work of an artist just discovering his voice. Where subsequent albums showed more focus, Pretty Hate Machine bounces from the industrial rock of frontman Trent Reznor’s heroes in Ministry (“Head Like A Hole”) to dance-floor jams (“Sin,” “Ringfinger”) to quasi-rap (“Down In It”) to an electro-funk misfire (“The Only Time”). The two songs that most recognizably sound like Nine Inch Nails—“Head Like A Hole” and “Terrible Lie”—are unsurprisingly the ones that remained part of the band’s live sets until Reznor retired NIN as a touring entity in 2009. The remastering greatly improves the dynamics, letting the lows hit harder and clarifying the many sonic elements Reznor works into the songs. But remastering can’t help some of the synthesizers and samples age better (particularly in “That’s What I Get”), or make Reznor’s mopey lyrics less silly. (“Grey would be the color if I had a heart,” “Now I’m slipping on the tears you made me cry,” etc.) Reznor began to hit his stride on the 1992 EP Broken, and he fully reached it with 1994’s The Downward Spiral, which makes Pretty Hate Machine more of an interesting prequel than a pillar of NIN’s catalogue. Sure, Reznor needed to start somewhere, and Pretty Hate Machine has many charms, but 20 years later, it doesn’t warrant repeat listens like its successors. -A.V. Club

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