Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 3

I still have not received the LP for The Late VirginiaSummers. Apparently the guy who runs the BandCamp side for HSAL missed the sale. It should have shipped early this morning.

I purchased a new piece of recording hardware for my own music creation. It should be here this weekend. It will free up about 10 gigs of hard drive space on my computer. I am very excited about that!

I forgot to mention that the Whirr/Anne double 7” came in a few weeks ago. It is a beautiful black and white swirl with lyric etching on the fourth side around in a circle. I am very happy to have that set.

The first 7” single for the upcoming Veronica Falls single, Teenage, will be released on March 12, 2013. There may be a second single released for Buried Alive. I hope that there will be a physical single for the track.

Here we go...

This is the second album from The Smiths. It was released in 1985. This is the best charting album for the group of their four album career. Meat Is Murder was more strident and political than the previous album, including the pro-vegetarian title track, Meat Is Murder, (Morrissey forbade the rest of the group from being photographed eating meat). I have always been interested in the group but never took the time to investigate. All four albums were repressed in 2009 to the UK track listings by Rhino Records. I picked this one up as soon as it was repressed on vinyl. To my surprise the record was colored solid mint green. This was to coincide with the idea behind the album I am sure. Because this was the UK track listing the song How Soon Is Now? was not included on the album. This was the reason that I was interested in the album. That song was the big hit from The Smiths in the US. It was included in the US release and on UK releases after 1992.

There was one official single released from the album called That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More. What stands out for me is the jangly guitar sound that Johnny Marr produced with the addition of the echoy guitar floating over the vocals of Morrisey. It is not the greatest song that the band has put out but it is a very good song from the album.

There are a few other songs from this album that I like musically more than the single that was put out. The first of which is the lead track off the album, The Headmaster Ritual. Johnny Marr’s guitar sounds so cool but so period for the time. The vocals for the chorus from Morrisey are intoxicating. His vocals always remind me of a warm mug of ale, if that makes any sense at all.

I am not a fan of rockabilly but Rusholme Ruffians works so well. It is a fun beat with fun guitars. Morrisey’s talk about the last night at the fair pushes the imaginative funness of the whole thing.

 The last track from this album that I think is very good is called Barbarism Begins At Home. The song has a great beat and the guitars are so poppy that I think this should have been the single from the album. I don’t think that they knew what they had when they had it.

This is the single that was released as a part of the US/Canadian release of Meat Is Murder. It was released in 1985. Although I have a copy of the UK pressing of Meat Is Murder, I was lucky enough to find a copy of this 12” single at a local record store. For me this makes the album complete. It was originally a B-side of the 1984 single William, It Was Really Nothing. The single was a big enough hit in the US and Canada that it was decided to add the track to the album Meat Is Murder to increase sales of the album. The single has three tracks on it. One of which is the radio edit of the A side track.

How Soon Is Now? is not a typical track from the band. The soaring guitar over the vocals reminds me of a jet airplane. Where the echo on the rhythm guitar is so unique, it reminds me of something mechanical doing a repetitive job. Then there are Morrisey’s vocals. He sings, “I am the son, and the heir, of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir, of nothing in particular” and “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.” This spoke of exactly what I was feeling as a kid. It was perfect and I loved the way that it made me feel.

The B side track is called Girl Afraid. It is a good song with a great beat. I really like how the song changes key at the chorus and it isn’t noticeable until the chorus ends. It is very interesting in that way.

This is the fifteenth album from Squarepusher including com compilations that stand up like a regular album. It was released in 2012. Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher) has stated that "It’s music which is generated purely from programming. There’s no live guitar or drums, there’s nothing in it which is live, really at all." Allmusic said this about the album, "The most striking aspect of Ufabulum is the sense that Jenkinson is building on top of foundations he laid himself. Where early Squarepusher records were notable for their innovative work with beat programming or infusion of organic instruments with electronic mayhem, the songs here seem to begin with that template of jittery beats and grow into dense compositions."

There was one single, Dark Steering, released from the album. This track is good but not as good as some of the other tracks on this album in my opinion. The quasi tire squeal sound is to high pitched and way to piercing to be any kind of enjoyable. The manufactured motorcycle sound is very cool though. The song is very noodley but still interesting. It reminds me of what riding a lightcycle in Tron might be like and that is its redeeming quality.

Other tracks that would have been better as a single are the likes of 4001, the opening track of the record. This track slowly builds with cool deep bass sounds and classic Squarepusher programmed drums. The song progresses to hard hitting staccato notes with a nice synth sound flowing over the whole thing. It moves on to something a bit different. It sticks with the staccato notes but a different bass sound and a slightly different synth sound with cool lead runs.

The song that I think is the albums biggest downfall is also one of the most interesting tracks on the album, Unreal Square. It uses an old school mono-tone that kids use to play with on mini-noise making keyboards in the mid to late 80s. I hated the sound but got use to the tones when the underground 8-bit/chiptune music makers came about in the mid to late 00s. He makes good use of the tones in a creative musical way by adding big bass hits that boarder on dub step bass lines.

This is a great album built on blocks that Squarepusher himself created. This is of course jazz infused electronic music. He is one of the best out there in the electronic genre.

This is the second album released from Free Energy. It was released just last week (2013). Some bands have a problem with the second album. I should say that it is not the band but more the fans. Fans want to see a band expand and not stay stagnant with what they release. Some bands have more music than they know what to do with for a first album. The problem with the latter is that they get use to playing the songs a certain way and can’t see any ways to progress the old music to be current with what is out there today, i.e. the competition. I can’t say that this is the case with this band but it could very well be. Maybe it is just that the band sounds so much like Journey and The Cars put together as the critics have said in the past. I am not saying that this is a bad thing but it does make for a bit of a watered down sound at times. I will give them props as they are a Minnesota band.

There is one single released from the album so far. That is the first track from the album called Electric Fever. The song starts off with just guitar noise and progresses into arena rock style vocals. The chorus and the verse sound very similar musically. It isn’t boring exactly but it does get old when the verse and chorus sound exactly the same.

I am happy that I have the album but I just wish they could have progressed a bit more than they have so far. I guess that means they have fallen in to the sophomore slump with this release. It is too bad really. Maybe it will be better on the next release.

This is a live EP culled from two different recording sessions. Tracks 1, 5 recorded live at Whalehead Studios (Norfolk, VA) and Tracks 2-4 recorded live @WRIR (Richmond, VA). The EP was released as a pay what you want through BandCamp in the beginning of 2013. It is available for download. I had heard all of the tracks except the second track called Deep Moves. I am glad that I have the track but I am not sure if the only recording of the track is on this digital EP or not. I don’t have everything but I do have a lot from this group. I also can’t find any reference to the song other than here on this EP. I really like it when a group can play what they have recorded in the studio live. Especially these new bands that grow up recording in their bed rooms and can make anything happen on a computer. I hope they get the recognition that they deserve and become a popular band. 

That is all I have for now...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 2

I have found out that there will be a 7" single released for the new Veronica Falls album. They are also going to put out a second covers EP through Rough Trade. This will be limited to 300 vinyl pressings but will be available on CD too.The box set for the Death Cab For Cutie Barsuk Years has been pushed back about a month. 

I am waiting to hear information about the new Golden Grrrls and Weekend albums. Also waiting for more information about Man or Astro-Man? single Vol. 3 and forthcoming album. 

Here we go...

This is the first release from Poliça. It was released in early 2012. I avoided this album because it was pushed so hard by internet and radio. It wasn’t until I heard the track that was included on 89.3 The Current/Local Current CD that I had any interest (This does mean that they are a Minnesota band). The song Wandering Star was included on the disc. Then, last fall when The Current put out Live Current Vol. 8 they included the track The Maker. That was the track that made me buy the album. I did not actually get the album though until 2013 (I had to hear the two tracks a few more times before I made the purchase). I have been very happy with the purchase too. If you get the album get it on vinyl as you get the download of the album plus a remix EP included with the download. These remixed tracks are not included with the CD.

The group is made up of two drummers, a bassist and a vocalist/keyboardist/programmer. The one thing that I don’t get about the group is that the vocalist uses auto-tune on all of her vocals. She has such a pretty voice and good control of her voice that she doesn’t need it at all. I can understand the echo that she uses though. It gives it that electronic/space feel that they are going for.

The singer had this to say about the name of the group, pulled from Wikipedia, “According to Channy Leaneagh, Polica is Polish for "policy", and she sees it as a reference to an unwritten code that guides the members when they play together, as well as its work ethic. The name appears to be a loose derivation, as there is no "ç" in Polish alphabet. There is a similar word "polisa", that literally means "insurance policy" in Polish, in particular – the contract document itself.”

There have been a few tracks that the radio has been playing. I don’t think that there has been an official single released though. The first track, Amongster, from the album has always hit me. It starts off with a super distorted saw toothed wave that rips at your hearing. The bass kicks in and punches you in the chest. It is a slow song but hits hard. The vocals swim over the top of all of this in outer space like beauty. It is a great song that deserves a chance even if you are not a fan of distortion.

The second track, The Maker, is the reason that I bought the album. The electronic bass line is simple and pulls you in just on its simplicity. It is a three note progression that floats between the set so easily. Then the bass guitar kicks in and makes the song so beat worthy it is ridiculous. The double drum kit gives the song the climax that it needs at the end. The vocals float over the whole thing like the ebb and flow of the ocean on a beach. It is hauntingly beautiful.

The last song that has been played on the radio is called Wandering Star. This song has the pace of Amongster. It is slow but not super slow. The vocals are pretty much the same as the whole album but the bass guitar pushes artistic boundaries of what has become the norm for rock music. It is refreshing to hear a bassist that can and does play to the best of his ability.

This is a very good album and I would recommend it to any one who is interested in electronic, shoegaze or R&B.

This EP came with the vinyl download for the album Give You The Ghost. There are five remix tracks in this EP. You can download the EP from the likes of and get an additional remix of The Maker. There is a remix of Amongster by Exitmusic that has this super low bass note that lingers. It is a very amazing sound if you have speakers that can handle it. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album. This remix simplifies the drum track with electronic drums. The addition of the bass line helps the song too.

There are also three different remixes of Dark Star. The first is done by Hype Jones Beastmode. It is really a dub step version of the song. I am a big fan of dub step remixes. This version does not hold back and kicks hard when it drops. This version makes use of a really cool oscillating distorted wave that you can feel as it goes through the chord changes. The second version, remixed by Marco Hawk, is a classic 90s style dance track. It is a four on the floor beat. This style is what I use to love from techno in the 90s. It is cool but now cliché at the same time. The third version of the track is actually the radio Edit version of the song. This version is really just a cut up version of the song. The album version is five minutes long where as this version is only three minutes long. There is also the addition of horns in the song making this version somewhat more appealing to the general public.

The last song in this remix EP is called Lay Your Cards Out remixed by Alluxe. This remix has a big bass drum hit that sounds very cool. The snare on the other hand leaves something to be desired. I also love the strings that have been added to the track. It is a pretty remix that has become popular with the new indie music scene. Reference the Radiohead remix series TKOL 1234567.

This is the fifth album from Pinback. It was released in 2012. I wasn’t really sure about this album. I hadn’t heard any thing from the album when it was released. I decided to take a chance with it on the merit of their fourth album, Autumn of The Seraphs. This album is not as good as Autumn but still a good album on its own. There are elements of style that I now understand are their sound after listening to this album. I think this album has a little bit of growing to do for me before it means as much as Autumn has come to mean. There were a couple of different color variants for the vinyl release. I did not get either of them. I did get a copy of the album on vinyl though and am happy with that much. I am sure that you could get copies of the color variants on Discogs.

There were three singles released from this album. The first is the first track from the album called Proceed To Memory. The song title relates directly to the album title which points directly to the computer world that we live in. The song is very smooth with a slow build that brings tension to the song. It is very nicely done. The song is about human memories that fade with time until all you have is the memory of having the memory but not knowing what the original memory was. It is a sad idea really.

The second single released from the album is called His Phase. This track has a different sound than I am use to from the group. There is a slight change in the guitar sound. It kind of reminds me of an R.E.M. guitar sound. It makes the song come off with a slight country sound. The lyrics are still splendid and obscure.

The last single released from the album is called Sherman. This track has a great stutter drum beat. The first part of the song seems to be about digging yourself in and holing up for the long haul. This is interesting as it reminds me of WWI. The second half of the song talks about going back and changing your mistakes. They are both interesting ideas but I am not sure how they relate. It is still a very good song though.
This is Tender Trap’s third album. It was released in 2010 through Slumberland and Forutna Pop! Some of the members of Tender Trap were in a previous band that I really like called Heavenly. It has been said that this group is a return to the sound of Heavenly. I agree with that sentiment. The songs have an intelligent pop feel that their first band had. I hadn’t been looking for music from this group but when I was scanning through what Slumberland had to sell I came across this and the single that was released to support it. I was at the shop to get something else but how could I say no to the potential of more great music from members of Heavenly.

The single released from the album is called Do You Want ABoyfriend? I reviewed the single in the end of the year post for 2012 (Vol. 3Episode 50.5). I had this to say about it, “The vocals are just as clever as what is found in Heavenly I found and the vocals were there too. The same vocalist for both bands is the reason for this. This group is only a three piece where as Heavenly was a five piece group. The single, Do You Want A Boyfriend?, is a funny and clever track listing off the things that a girl would want in a boyfriend.” I still believe this about the track.

The album as a whole is fun female punk. This is like an updated version of Heavenly. I will be looking for more music from their catalog in the future.

This is an EP that was released through Target stores to promote the Skelanimals line of Halloween Merchandice. The EP was released in 2009. I reciently found a copy of the EP for sale on amazon for a fair price and still sealed. Not sure where the third party seller got the copy but I am not complaining. The EP contains five tracks that can be found on their other albums plus a track that can only be found on this EP called Keep The PartyAlive. It also contains a video for the song Dance Or Die and the Skelanimals Halloween animated short. The song is very thin compared to what they are producing today. It is probably mixed to appeal to the children that they are trying to sell to at Target though.

That is all for now...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 1

Here it is yall, the first post for the new year and a new volume!

First off some news. Veronica Falls has a new album, Waiting For Something To Happen, out in early February. It will be released on limited white vinyl from Slumberland Records.You can also preorder the new Thom Yorke project, Atoms For Peace, from just about any retailer now. The album is called AMOK and there will be an additional single for Judge Jury and Executioner out in March with a new B side called S.A.D. Bleached are scheduled to release their first full length album in early April called Ride Your Heart. Preorders are not yet up for that album though. Free Energy have a new album coming out next week called Love Sign. I am excited to hear what they have been working on.

That is all I have for news at the moment, so, lets move on.

This is Arches first full length album. It was released in 2011. I only found out about them at the end of this past year, 2012. I was lucky enough to get a copy of this album on vinyl. When the record came it came with a note and a CDR of music that Tom Herman Jr. (one of the two vocalists for Arches) was working on as a side project called Old Smile. I haven’t listened to it yet but intend to and will pass along information after I have listened to it. It was very personal of him to pass along this new music. I just hope that Arches hasn’t dissolved. I have listened to Wide Awake a hand full of times since getting the download at the beginning of the year, 2013. The sound of the album over all is subdued but still musically interesting. The album has been compared to Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest as there are sonic similarities but Wide Awake comes off as a simpler sound. I love Veckatimest and Wide Awake does share a sonic background but I think that the simplicity of Wide Awake puts the album in a different place than the Grizzly Bear album. Wide Awake doesn’t have the sonic peaks and valleys that Veckatimest has either. That doesn’t make it boring just a bit more even sounding.

The band wrote this about the album: Wide Awake is a concept album about a character who lives alone in a city. Mundane routines drive the character to flee the city and become a drifter. The character’s perspective of reality becomes convoluted with memories and current travels to the point where the character becomes unable to decipher past and present experiences.

There are a few stand out tracks for me. The opening track, This Isn't a Good Night for Walking, is a great introduction to the album and one of my favorites from the album so far. In the back ground it starts off with the sound of rain. This fades out soon after the music starts up but sounds very cool to start out an album. The hook in the song is both an acoustic guitar and a piano playing together. There is also something special about the double tracked vocals that are all over this album. It doesn’t seem to get old.

The other track that I really like is called Behind ClosedBlinds. The rhythm part is played with a piano. There are additional guitar parts in front and behind the piano that are very sweet. This sounds odd but the song reminds me of being a teenager remembering things that I had done as a kid. It is kind of a memory of a memory if that makes any sense.

The last track that I want to talk about is called Cobblestone. It has the same doubled vocals to start off with. What gets my attention is the chorus with the guitar runs. It is an instant stand out hook that grabs me every time I hear it even on my tiny speaker on my phone.

I really hope that this group continues to make music as they have some great potential. Maybe a better record company could help in getting their name out there? Keep it up guys, I love what you have created!

This is The Late Virginia Summers second album. It was released in 2010. I ordered a copy of this on vinyl. The album starts off with whale sounds and a man speaking over the top explaining that the sounds will be sent out as part of the Voyager space crafts recordings. It is an interesting way to start off an album. The album is very short at about 35 minutes. It is laden with atmospheric melancholy that never seems to go anywhere. It is not a depressing album but not exactly a happy album either. I have read other reviews of this album where the reviewer complains of the tracks not progressing to an ending. I think that it is an album that needs to be listened to as an album. There is an ebb and flow to the music that requires the listener to hear the whole thing in order to have it make sense. It is very pretty and reminds me of Sigur Ros a little.

There was one single that was released from this album. I talked about it at the end of last year in Vol. 3 Episode 50.5 (The best of post for 2012). The first single on the record is called Pebble Azalea Starfish. It is a short acoustic track with out any vocals. It starts off quiet with an acoustic guitar and builds in volume until it just stops all of a sudden. It is a great opening track but hard to listen to over and over because of the sudden stop. The track reminds me of some of the soundtracks for some of the skateboarding videos that I have.

This is a single that was released for 2011 Record Store Day Black Friday. I found a copy at a local record store, The Electric Fetus. I had seen the record sitting in the racks a few times and I finally decided to pick it up on my last trip to the store. The back of the 7” record says this about both of the tracks:
A. Song of the Magpie
Augusten Burroughs asked me to write a song for the 2008 audio version of his book 'A Wolf at the Table'. Since the book was a memoir about Augusten's troubled childhood relationship with his father, I didn't feel I had the authority to write about this very personal experience. But I still relished the opportunity, so I resolved to dive in headfirst and to try to read the book in a single day and write the song immediately afterward. My hope was that whatever feelings it conjured up for me would linger long enough to translate into music and my own words. Luckily the plunge paid off, and the result was a song where, like Augusten's books, I pretty much put my heart right out there on my sleeve.

B. Where the Wind Blows
This song was written in 2008 and was recorded during the “White Water, White Bloom” sessions. I’d spent a good deal of time working on the song, but never could quite get it to a place where I was happy with it. Once in the studio however, producer Mike Mogis suggested we start from scratch and build the song live as a group. It was a fun experience, because while I’m more of a puzzler and like to spend time really arranging all of the little details, Mogis tends to like things loose and spontaneous, which gave us permission to just let go and let the song happen…
Both tracks have the beautiful vocals that have come to be synonymous with the group. The strings on Song of The Magpie help to bring up the climax at the end of the song. This brings out the emotions in the song and makes the listener feel.

The B side track, Where The Wind Blows, has a little different feel but is still just as beautiful as the A side. The B side uses an organ/keyboard of some kind in addition to the drums and acoustic/electric guitars. It is a nice song but the A side does stand over it.

This is the fourth single released from the Conventional Weapons single set. It was released in 2013. It is a return to the hard rock that they do so well. The first track, Kiss The Ring, has the hard rock sound of the 70’s. It is really cool to hear these songs and be able to pick out genres that they may have come from. The second track, Make Room!!!, has that same 70’s rock sound as the first. It is awesome! I really like that they have channeled these sounds for these tracks. It may be easier to spot since the songs are not being put out as a full album. I think it gives me time to analyze the tracks a bit more than I would have if it were released as a full album.

That is all I have for now...