Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vol. 6 Episode 3

The Echo Lake album called Era will be released on March 2nd.

The Death Cab For Cutie album called Kintsugi will be released on March 31st. 

89.3 The Current has put out a limited edition 10" record (1000 pressed) featuring The Hold Steady and The Suicide Commandos. They are all live tracks and you can pick it up at The Electric Fetus.

That is the only new information that I really have.

This is a split 7” EP from two great female lead punk groups. The record is accompanied by a comic book that tells the tail of the Captured Crusader. The record was released through Captured Tracks, Slumberland Records and Fortuna Pop! The record also runs at two different speeds. The A side is at 45 and the B side is at 33 RPM. The EP was originally scedualed to be released in early fall but because of RSDBF it got pushed back to a November release, I didn’t actually get my copy until December. Each group contributed one original track and a cover track. Some copies that were send out had the wrong record in the sleeve. That wrong record was AC/DC’s Rock or Bust single. I got the right record but I have seen some pictures.

The A side, Joanna Gruesome side, has the tracks Psykick Espionage and ...And Keep Reaching For Those Stars. The latter being a cover from the band I Hate My Self. Their original song, Psykick Espionage starts off with a grand noise and calms down just a little so we can hear the lead singer scream as loud as she can, it seems. Then it calms down a bit more so we can hear a very pretty vocal line in the chorus. Then it picks up again for the second verse and calms down again for the second chorus and the end flattens out to be a great punk song with beautiful light and airy female vocals.

The second track, ...AndKeep Reaching For Those Stars, from them is short and focuses on the female vocals with male vocals right under the female vocals giving the support that makes all vocals stand out over the noise that the group is making. Although it is short, it is one of my favorite tracks from the group.

The first song from Perfect Pussy is called Adult World (The Secret). The female vocals are so raw and unintelligible but for me work so well with the punk noise that the group makes so well. The instrumentation on the song is partially noise but mostly music. There is defiantly something special going on with this group. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

The second track from them is called A Leash Called Love. This is a cover from The Sugar Cubes. The first couple of times I listened to this track I actually got lost in the music and thought that Bjork was singing the song with a noisier backing band. Meredith Graves, the lead singer for Perfect Pussy, does such an exceptional job at getting the style of Bjorks’ vocals within the confines of PP’s punk style. It is a really amazing rendition of this song.

I am glad that I had to wait to get this EP. It is one of my favorites of 2014.

This is a digital only EP from Dresses. It features two new songs and three acoustic tracks. This EP is sweet and fun. The duo, who were a couple, have now apparently stopped dating but, thankfully, they are still writing music together. This is great news for fans of the music. The duo has also reportedly started branching out in their sound pallet. Jared has said that they have been listening to all kinds of music to get new inspirations for new music.

The first song and single from the EP is the title track, Lonely One. The song is about being in a relationship and remembering what is was like when they were not in a relationship. It could also be seen as being in a relationship but not sharing each others lives with each other making them feel lonely. I know both situations as I have problems sharing my life and who hasn’t been in a relationship before, everyone. So, everyone understands at least one side of the story. It is a sweet song even if it is a little depressing.

The second new song from the EP is called Duet Song. It is a slower song with a simple beat played on a guitar with the duo singing together. The way they sing together on this track is very complex and very enjoyable. They sing about a few different things in the song. My favorite part of the lyrics is when they are singing about the first time he took her home at the end of the song. They took a shower together after his parents had left the house. He sings that they only kissed but I imagine a bit more than that probably happened. I don’t know if this is based on fact or a made up story but either way it was cute and I enjoyed it.

The next three songs are the acoustic songs. I am not usually a fan of acoustic songs but these versions seem to support the duos strengths even if they are thin sounding next to the studio versions. It is after all the two of them with a guitar after all. The songs are, Sun Shy, TellA Lie and Painting Roses.

The EP is very good and I hope this means there will be more music coming from them in the future.

This is the latest single from Haim. It was put out on a 10” shaped picture disc. I am usually not interested in picture discs but I still don’t have a shaped record and I thought this was unique enough to get it. This is the sixth single taken from the album Days Are Gone. There was also a video put out to support the single.

The A side of the record is just the album version of the song, My Song 5. It is not my favorite track form the album but works well as a late single from the album. What I do like is the super bass synth that is used in the back ground. The problem with the song is the same sound. It takes the song in an odd direction for me. Either way it is still a good song.

The B side of the single is a remix of the song with an addition from the rapper A$AP Ferg, My Song 5 Feat. A$AP Ferg. I don’t know who he is or what he does but the rap that he adds to the song doesn’t exactly seem to fit the song. He talks about marriage, cheating and sex with other girls. I guess it fits but he is talking about the male side and the girls are singing about the female side where they don’t want to be in the relationship because of the things he talks about. I feel like this version comes off a bit disjointed because of the addition of the rapping.

I am happy that I have the single but confused about why they did this remix.

That is all for now...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Vol. 6 Episode 2

There will be a repressing for the Ar-Kaics record over at Windian Records.

Echo Lake have announced a new record through No Pain InPop. No word yet if Slumberland Records will be carrying it.

Record Store Day has announced the date for 2015, April 18th. The 20th doesn’t fall on a weekend this year.

On with the show...

I have been waiting for a long time to get my hands on this split single. It was released in 2008. When I talked to Kip about the release he said that half of the 300 records that were pressed were lost. This means that there is probably only about 150 of these singles in existence. The copy that I found was number 45. I had a digital copy of the track from The Pains but I like to have a physical copy of my music if at all possible. The record was originally released on Atomic Beat Records. There was an insert that came with the record that was printed on orange paper that introduced both bands along with some liner notes about the release.

The A side is the Parallelograms side which has two tracks from the group. The first track is called 1, 2, 3 Go! It is a fun indie pop track with fun female vocals sung in a bit of a lack luster style. It keeps my interest though and that is what is important I guess, keeping the listeners interest that is.

The second track is called Pop The Bubbles. It is a bit faster of a song but keeps that innocent style of fun pop music. The singer sings about liking to pop bubbles because they are beautiful and shiny. It is cute and fun music and vocals. There isn’t really any substance behind the music, it is just simple and fun.

The B side is the song from The Pains, Kurt Cobain's Caradigan. I briefly mentioned this track in Vol. 2 Episode 7. It is a good track that reminds me of their band name song, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. They are both great songs and both are a couple of the first songs that they ever recorded. What stands out even more is that they still stand up today and sound just as fresh and new to me. This is great music from a great band.

Obviously, you can’t just run out and get this record but you can get digital versions of these songs. I highly advise that you do get digital copies of these songs they are great!

This is her sixth album released in May of 2014. I got a special deal through Graveface Records and got the album on CD, Cassette and hand poured vinyl. My vinyl copy was a mix of dark green and baby blue. It is kind of disgusting but pretty at the same time. It is also limited and hand numbered out of 300 units. I have known about Haley Bonar for a while. As a matter of fact, she has a song on 89.3 The Current Live Current Vol. 4, Local Current Vol. 2 and a cover song on the Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 4. So, you can see that I have known of her music for some time now. It wasn’t until this album that a couple of tracks really caught my ear. Because of this I have picked up most of her music. There are just a couple of items that I can’t seem to find. Anyway, there is something on this album that grabbed me by the throat to get my attention to listen to the album. It helps that she is on Graveface records now, one of my current favorite record companies. I don’t know if Jason had any influence on the direction sonically for the album but there are some very cool wall of sound moments on the album. This is kind of an underground thing that is happening again in music and I have documented some of the new groups that are doing this.

There are a few really great songs on this short album. The first of which is the first single released from the album. The song is called From A Cage. I first saw the video for the song and it is what got me into the album in the first place. The intro is a three no loop on a Whirlitzer keyboard. This three note loop goes through the whole song. It does change for the chorus but it is so simple and elegant. The song is built around this keyboard loop and I really can’t get enough of it. The Music that is built around the loop is so simple as well. The song itself is a bit of a downer but the video that goes with it is so interesting that I can over look the depression. Since I have seen the video already and have already over looked the down feel of the song I only see the beauty of the song. On a side note, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) does some backing vocals on this track. Haley had said in an interview that she had written this song just to have him sing backing vocals. It is kind of silly but the song works well.

The second single from the album is the title track, LastWar. The song is about the end of a relationship. It is about when your have already given up on the relationship and this is the last straw and last fight. It is a soft song with lots of reverb and echo in the background on the chorus giving that wall of sound feel but still having clarity up front. Her vocals and the bass and electric guitars are so clear. It is a beautiful sound that people who cant handle the noise of shoegaze will like. It is a beautiful song with unusual clarity for a shogaze track.

The last song that I really like from this album is called Eat For Free. The song is also simple with just an acoustic guitar for musical support. The track also features Justin Vernon on backing vocals giving the song that little bit more depth. The song is an interpretation of the state of music where artist use the pay what you want or get it for free model of purchasing. Haley applies this to a relationship to great effect. The song becomes something unique and sweet. I think the song pulls something from, believe it or not, the song from Staind called Outside but to better effect because of the backing vocals. I think that the subject matter here also outdoes the face value style of the song from Staind as well.

I think this is a great album and I only wish I had found interest in Haley’s music sooner.

This is a side project from Haley Bonar. This is their first album and it was put out in February of 2013. I got a copy of this album with the latest Haley Bonar album. This album is on a half and half record of slightly transparent cherry and light blue. This is my first half and half record and I am happy that it is this record. I saw the group play with the Graveface Road Show nearly a year ago. I had no idea who the lead singer was at the time. I think that it is awesome that I saw Haley Bonar sing live and I can say that now that I know who she is. Seeing this group at the show was the highlight for me and having the album now just reminds me of that concert and how much fun their set was. I am excited to get more music from them as they are working on a new album that is scheduled for release in 2015.

There were two singles that were released from this album. The first single is actually two songs, I Have This Feeling and Sugar Crash!The video to support I Have This Feeling included the short song Sugar Crash! Both songs are a bit odd but this group is about having fun more than being serious. The song carries a fun groove and has pretty simple beat. The lyrics sing about her having a dream with out her friends and she kind of blames her friends for not being there like it was their fault for not being there. It is kind of silly to think like that but the way it is done is interesting and fun. The second part, Sugar Crash!, is set up to be a song about what it feels like to be on a sugar high because you have just eaten a bunch of sugar. It is a very short song and comes to an end quick to resemble the sudden low after the sugar high. Both are fun songs.

The second single is called We R Ctrl. This is another short song that is very punchy in its delivery. It is set up like a Devo track with short controlled notes to show the control that they are delivering. The vocals are bizarre, fun and interesting. The video is shot live so it sounds a little bit simpler that the nearly out of control recording that is on the album. The album version is nearly out of control and that is the comedy of the song. I like both versions but I remember the live concert that I went to and it sounded more like the video than the album version.

The other song that I really liked was the song Lazy Bones. I like the 808 style drums that underlay the actual drums in the song. The lyric to the song in the verse are silly and don’t make much sense but the chorus is repetitive and fun. It reminds me of the Soul Coughing track of the similar name, Lazybones, but this song from Gramma’s Boyfriend is a lot more fun and poppy.

I really like this album and hope that the upcoming album is filled with just as much energy.
That is all for now...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Vol. 6 Episode 1

Here it is the very first episode of the year and as promised early!

First off, Decyfer Down are doing a new album and they are starting it off on Kickstarter. Please help them out. They are a great sounding christian hard rock group that deserves the chance to make more great music.

There is a bunch of new music coming out this year but I don't have release dates so I don't want to get anyone's hopes up yet. I will give you a short list of artists though:

The XX
Nada Surf
Faith No More
Death Cab For Cutie
Mumford and Sons
The Smashing Pumpkins

I have also got two concerts lined up but they are for closer to spring than still during winter. They are for OK Go and The Dodos. The new Dodos album will also be released later this month.

Links to hear every song on this episode are in the album headings this time. Here we go with the first episode...

Every year 89.3 The Current puts out a live album of bands and tracks that were recorded live in their studios when bands stop by before or after their scheduled concerts. Every year I get a copy. If there is a vinyl option I will get that and if there is a box set (CD and vinyl plus other goodies) I will get that. This year the radio station offered a box set with the CD, vinyl, poster and fold out box for all ten CDs to fit into. I also have the first founding member release and the 5 Year Birthday CD. Although it is tight both of those fit in this foldout box with the other ten CDs. Both of these are card sleeve CD cases and this is why they just barely fit in this case. Now I just need The Current to press the hand full of other albums on vinyl that haven’t been yet. This year the album is on black vinyl, just a bit disappointing really. I can forgive it though because they included a second album basically for free; see Cover To Cover below. Usually I get this package in early November. This year I didn’t get this album until late December because of Record Store Day Black Friday (RSDBF). The majors are jumping on this special day now just like RSD and backing up any vinyl processing. This causes problems for any small run that needs to get out like this record or a Halloween related 7” record for example.

Usually there are only one or two tracks that I look forward to hearing on these albums but this year I was excited about six tracks on this eighteen track album. The first track is from Bon Iver. It is the song Flume from the first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. This means that they have taken tracks not from the previous year but across multiple years. I think this is because it is a celebration of the past ten hears and not just the past year. This version is played slower than the album version and it is only Justin Vernon and an acoustic guitar. It makes the song starker with no multi-tracked vocals and extra guitar embellishments. It isn’t sadder than the studio version but more for The Current Studios than for the listener. At least that is how I feel about this version. I like it for what it is but the studio version I would rather hear.

The next song that I was excited to hear from the album is from Phoenix called Lisztomania from the album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. This is a mostly acoustic version of this song too. I think it gives the song a new dimension. The keyboards are still synthesized organ but the guitar is acoustic. I think that this gives the song a thinner sound but at the same time a funer poppier feel. I don’t hear any bass but acoustic bass is supper quiet. Because there is no bass in this version is the reason that the song is thin sounding to me. This is the problem with most acoustic songs in my mind. There are two acoustic guitars and the organ with the vocals though.

Beach House plays the super smooth track called Norway from their album Teen Dream. This is a recreation of the studio version and sounds just as beautiful. I actually have a second version that they played at The Current studios back in 2010. This version was given as a limited digital download for Live Current Vol. 6. Members had a limited time to get an additional six tracks as a download card with purchase of Vol. 6. I was one of those lucky members to get that download card. So now I have two versions of this song from The Current. I actually prefer the version on the Vol. 6 download because the mix is quieter and the vocals are so mellow compared to the Vol. 10 version.

Mike Doughty did an acoustic version with upright bass for the song 27 Jennifers. This song appears on both Rockity Roll and Golden Delicious. I am more a fan of Soul Coughing than Mikes solo carrier but this is still a fun song. The story is silly and makes me smile when I here it though. It is Mikes vocals though so I still get that Soul Coughing vibe still.

The next song I wanted to hear was from Spoon. It is the song Don’t You Evah from the album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. With this live version you get right into the song. The studio version of the song has some chatter between the singer and the guy doing the recording. This is a live version not an acoustic version so it has electric guitar and bass in the song. It is very close to the album version though with some minor discrepancies. It is a good version of the song as they are a professional group and they make it all line up perfectly.

I was so excited that there was a song from The XX on the album. They did VCR from their first album XX. This is also a live track and has the group using their electric instruments too. This version is good but the mix is really hot on the intro. It backs off a bit when the other instruments come in but wow. If you’re not careful you could blow your headphones on that intro. Otherwise, the song is a bit mellower but mixed hotter than the album version. I still like the song and am happy that I have this version but I may stick to the album more often.

As an honorable mention, the song from Mumford & Sons really makes me happy. The song is called Reminder and comes from the second album Bable. The song is actually more robust than the studio version with the other members of the group adding backing vocals to the track. The studio version is just lead vocals and acoustic guitar. I actually prefer this version to the studio version because of the addition of the backing vocals. This doesn’t happen to me very often.

This is the bonus album that Live Current Vol. 10 comes with. The radio station has a daily spot where they play a track from a group that has covered a song from another group. They call this spot Cover To Cover. To support this they have put together a ten song album of cover songs that bands have come in to play in The Curerents’ studios. I was excited about a couple of tracks but there are also a couple of tracks that really surprised me.

First, I will start with the ones that I was excited to hear. Hot Chip did a cover of Nothing Compares 2 U with their song In The Privacy of Our Love at the end. It is a very simple version of the song and strange to hear male voices on lead and backing vocals. Piano and electric guitar support the track with light drums as well. I like the guitar part with a vibrato on it. It is a very beautiful rendition of the song and although it is off putting to hear male vocals I could very easily get use to this version.

The other track I wanted to hear was from Devine Fits. It was the song Shivers from the album Door, Door by The Boys Next Door. I have never heard the original but I like the vocal style of the lead singer for Spoon who is also the lead singer for Devine Fits. This song is actually a part of their album so this is a song that they would have performed regularly. It is good and straight forward. This is also an album that I should probably own at some point.

There were a couple of songs that surprised me as well. the first of those two is from Deer Tick. They covered the song Kiss Me On The Bus from The Replacements. The song sounds just like the original version, well nearly. I didn’t expect a try at mimicking the vocals from this group. It comes off a bit more gravely but it is a very good rendition.

Second was a song from The Decemberists called Crazy On You originally sung by Heart from the album Dreamboat Annie. This cover version is spot on. I get the same chills from this cover version as I do from the original. I could almost mistake this cover version as Heart if I wasn’t paying attention. This is absolutely genius so many of the nuances are included in this version. I like it so much.

Call + Response is a mostly annual art show that involves music, writers and visual artists together to create a showcase of original works. Here is the information that I got about the project from the web page, “For the first three iterations of the show, the writers called, and the visual artists responded.

In 2014, we've switched it up a bit.

For this year’s show the Philadelphia band Restorations created a single long-form instrumental track, which we sent to sixteen acclaimed, emerging and award-winning poets, fiction writers, journalists, and essayists largely based in the DC/Baltimore metropolitan area.

The writers wrote short, reactive pieces, none over one-thousand words, all in unique, original conversation with Restorations and their music. (View all of the writing for Call + Response IV HERE.)

Each written response went to one of sixteen acclaimed, emerging and award-winning visual artists who entered the conversation, too: not just with the written work, but with the music as well.

At CALL + RESPONSE IV’s opening on October 11, 2014 at Hole in the Sky in northeast D.C. Restorations will perform and each piece of writing will be displayed with their visual response. There will be a 7inch of the music packaged with all the writing from the show. (You can purchase online HERE.)

We’re extremely proud of this year’s show and we thank you for your interest and support. We hope to continue our small role in bringing together creative communities.”

The records A side is the first part of the song with a locked groove at the end of a cool loop of electric guitar work. The second side is longer and almost comes off as two different movements. It is very adventurous for the group and I am happy to have gotten my hands on a copy of the 7”. I like to record my albums to digital. The actual digital version of this track is twelve minutes long but my recording comes in at about nine and a half minutes. I guess I could have let the locked groove play a little longer to make the time up. I am just curious if there is a difference between the digital version and what is on the 7”. It is a great song and I recommend it even if you are not a fan of the group. It is that good!

This is an additional single from Thom Yorke that was not actually on the Tomorrows Modern Boxes album but comes from the same recording period. This song was released on the internet when he put the album up on the bandcamp web page for purchase. It is a slow song with deep bass and computer beeps and bloops. It is the classic Thom whiney vocals over interesting enough bass and drums with a great wave wash of synth music. I like the song but it is very slow moving.
That is all for now...