Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Batôn Rouge - Fragments D'Eux-Mêmes

Genre: weird frenchies, screamo, emo
Sounds like: cap'n jazz, amanda woodward, off minor

I don't listen to much music from Europe. I'm not sure why. Besides Suis La Lune and Amanda Woodward, I really can't think of any that I listen to regularly. My friend Marie is cool and from France. She put on this record the other day. It started off just as in the background. It seemed very similar to the 3rd/4th/whatever wave emo has been coming out nowadays. Yet, the more you listen to it, its got a much more mature, thought out vibe compared to most of the stuff coming out of the US. It's easily my favorite record to come out of the diy European scene in years. It seamlessly goes from catchy bass line, to head-down driving beats, to expansive, spacious melodies that use subtlest of intricacies to alter mood. All of this occurs over kinsella-esque melodic group vocals and soaring echoes, which of course are inherently beautiful...well, because they're sung in French. Duh. But really, this record is one of the most refreshing takes emo in recent memory.

S.m.o.k.e. W.e.e.d.

Koyla - Self Titled

Genre: Late 90's Emo
For Fans Of: Sinaloa, Small Brown Bike, I Hate Myself

Its been bugging me for a while now, but I can't remember how I ended up with this album. Through some way years ago this ended up on my hard drive, I still cannot figure it out. This band is also a giant mystery itself since very little information is on the internet (links if you got them!) about them.

Koyla had some great things going for them: multiple vocalists with lyrics that end up sound like a free verse poetry jam, and guitars that shift between choppy and melodic every other measure. But what separates them from other bands that came out of the late 90's (or the huge influx of bands that are trying to emulate it currently) is how intentional everything is. For being a three piece, they do a fantastic job of making the vocals and instrumentation feel like they have purpose, making the songs sound whole and complete. Although not much material to listen to from them, (this album and a couple 7 inches) they have that "this album is so good and self contained that I am completely content not having anything else" vibe.

Although they do have some vocals that might turn some people away, listen to "Astronaut" before deciding anything. Do it.

Also, I could of found a better picture, but nothing beats the bass player staring into oblivion photograph.


Konono No. 1 - Congotronics 1

Genre: Congolese, World Music, Electronic
Sounds like: Kasai All Stars

Although well known amongst the yuppie NPR set, I was totally surprised when I found this somewhere cause it's not like anything I've ever really heard. Apparently this band has been around quite awhile but it took until 2004 for this to get an official release. They're a gigantic band out of Kinshasha, Congo/DRC that uses traditional instruments haphazardly wired to car batteries and old megaphones for amplification. Basically this band uses trash as instruments. Their songs get into total jungle grooves that border on trance while maintaining their awesome African rhythms and it's really easy to just get lost in the hugeness of their sound. Their label, Crammed Discs, focuses on releasing interesting music from all over the world and have an impressive, challenging discography that I've been too scared to try to go deep into. The fact that they recently release a "best-of" album that takes ubiquitous artists like Andrew Bird and Animal Collective and has them do covers of their roster probably suggests that they've officially entered into the mainstream indie consciousness. Whatever, I'm getting off point. Check out the video below

The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World

Genre: experimental, ambient, 78's, lounge
Sounds like: Gavin Bryars, William Gavinsky, shit your great grandmother loves

First post here at this lovely blog so I thought I'd share what was been helping me make it through this damn quarter (school). This is some seriously beautiful and disturbing tunes wrapped up in this record. Background a bit The Caretaker is also known as James Kirby, has been releasing interesting projects for a while now. This is one of his latest ventures and it dives into a vibe that isn't really heard much these days. It's like listening to slow and untimely death (use your imagination) of your great aunt, but there is one catch, you have had way too much nitrous. 

The concept behind it was to create something where Alzheimer's patients would have something peaceful to listen too. Frightening but methodic, this album crumbles slowly until you reach an undesirable end. But don't let that get you down, there is still a blissful ending, much like the some Alzheimer's patients would like to have closure.

3 words why you should try it.
Reverb, loops and pops .

Buy the album here
Buy the download here

Cyrus Fell Down - Radar

Genre: Math Rock
Sounds like: Born Ruffians, Maps & Atlases, Swims, Dianogah

Oh baby I think this puppy is really taking off. Now that we've got a couple more contributors to this site I'm gonna have to start actually updating in order to maintain my place at the top of the HHH hierarchy. Yes I'm already taking liberties with acronym-ing my OUR own blog name. And yes I'm still making up my own words, or verb-ifying nouns. Whatever. This is a band from Seattle that basically sounds like a really nutty version of Maps & Atlases. I'm pretty sure they're weird dudes, which I'm basing solely off of their haircuts in the video I'm posting below. Imagine if all of the nice catchy M&A melodies had twice as many song "parts" packed into each song and you'll get close. I happen to really like the singers voice too, really high pitched and he definitely puts himself into it. Above all else though, the bass on this album really stands out. I tend to shy away from fretboard tapping (ESPECIALLY bass fretboard tapping) because it's a little played out, however this guy does it really tastefully. Awesome bass lines that sound like they'll just go on forever with tons of good low end mixed with melodic little counterparts. In most other bands I would mention something about the great guitar playing too, however I'm just obsessed with this guys bass playing skills. Seriously, bass. Bass.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hop Along - Is Something Wrong?

Genre: Indie/Folk Stuff
Sounds Like: The girl version of Marty Anderson.

This past July, I found myself at a party in a tiny house, after some local punk show.

The apex of the evening was close, with a good amount of people circling around the house, and the interesting conversations were where the empty beer bottles stood on end tables and along couches. Separate music was playing in different parts of the house. In the back patio Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" was playing and inside the kitchen was something that made my ears prop up, intrigued by the singer's delicate voice. No one else around noticed it, and sat down to listen to the randomly selected song. the computer screen from which it was played read "Hop Along" and I was instantly charmed by her innocent and youthful vocals.

Okay now onto the actual music.

Hop Along has a few releases (from what I can tell), Freshman Year emphasizes more of the folky-pop cuteness aspect of the band while Is Something Wrong? still maintains the pop, but is more ominous and looser sounding then the later. It could be due to the fact I am a huge Marty Anderson/Dilute fan, but I am sucker for high pitched, wispy vocals that are backed by frantic drums and frail guitar riffs. When listening to this album, I suggest starting with the song "Cow Eyes". It was the first song I heard and was instantly hooked. Do the same.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gnarwhal - Duane

Genre: Math Rock, Spazzy Hardcore
Sounds like: Duck, Little Brother Duck, god I'm getting frustrated filling this thing out

I've really been falling behind on this blog, which was my own creation, so now as I try to get people to write for it and read it I'm sure it looks like a complete failure. Whatever. Gnarwhal is from Nashville, Tennessee which I only know because I read their bandcamp page. They've got riffs for days and their drummer can seemingly play around anything which should put them into any math rock fan's graces. Their playing is extremely spazzy which makes me want to categorize it as mathcore except that doesn't really fit either. I dunno, point is these musicians are really talented, as long as you can handle some yelling and TONS of great riffs packed into a small time frame you should listen to this. No video this time because I can't find one/too lazy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Raleigh Moncrief - Watered Lawn

Genre: Electronic
Sounds like: I dunno

My knowledge of electronic music is very weak and I don't possess a particularly good vocabulary to describe it. This album, however, is very good. I would classify Raleigh Moncrief as being somewhat experimental compared to a lot of the electronic music I hear. It's not particularly dance oriented but the songs do have strong beats and some really gross bass. Acoustic guitars play lazy lines while washes of synths fade in and out. Beach Boys-esque harmonies drive whole songs and lend the album a singer-songwriter quality. Plus you have to respect a DJ that remixes and samples Tera Melos songs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The User - Symphony #2 For Dot Matrix Printers

Genre: Electronic

Sounds like: your printer

It's very early in the morning. You put off your research paper / lab report / essay off for way longer than you should have, and you suffered a long night for it. You finish up, say "no" to proofreading it, and click on the "save" button at least eight times. You print this beast of a paper. What luck! Your printer is full of ink and paper. You feel warm with relief of finishing on time, and you sit in your chair, listening to the creaking of your printer's startup procedure, anticipating the sounds it makes that you know too well. Once it finally starts putting ink to the paper, you find yourself moving to the rhythms of your printer in a semi-delirious way.

This is that album.

Literally, it's the sound of printers. Supposedly this album took a few years of programming, and it shows. There are moments of a kind of satisfied calm (with your printer), and then there are moments of built up dread (from your printer). Don't think of it as a gimmick; it's a great listening experience.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

North of America - These Songs Are Cursed

Genre: Indie, Math Rock
Sounds like: Pavement with more yelling

I'm really proud of my "Sounds like" for this one because this band sounds exactly like Watery, Domestic-era Pavement with more yelling and skronky, slightly math-y guitars. This is the perfect way to describe them, nothing else is needed and I'm almost tempted to just leave it like that. I like to type though so prepare yourself, dear reader, for some filler. I don't think North of America get enough love, I never hear anybody talk about them but they're pretty killer. One of those bands that's really easy to get into if you're a music nerd because a) nobody's heard of them, and b) they've got 4 awesome albums that give you the "I wish I found out about this band sooner" feeling in the back part of your neck (does anybody besides me ever get that?).  This is easily their catchiest album and at seventeen songs there's a lot to digest. They're a talented band and easily change from aggressive, energetic rockers to slow, pretty ballads (not really ballads, I can't think of another word though and I'm lazy. I wish I knew how to write). They've got great riffs, awesome guitar tone and their lead singer could easily win a Stephen Malkmus "I'm-pretending-like-I-don't-give-a-shit" contest. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bill Orcutt - How the Thing Sings

Genre: Noise, Improv, Acoustic
Sounds like: Harry Pussy, Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot

Some more weird solo guitar 'cause I know everyone loves it as much as I do. I've been on kind of a kick lately. Bill Orcutt used to play in a 1990's noise band called (ahem...) Harry Pussy. I won't pretend that I listen to much noise but it's a good starting point for trying to figure out Bill Orcutt's new stuff as an acoustic musician. His guitar only has 4 detuned strings and I would say that he "rattles" on it as much as plays. In fact it's not entirely clear that he actually knows how to play guitar - as this Dusted review points out, he just sounds like Bill Orcutt. Sometimes melodic, sometimes furious, and all times challenging, How the Thing Sings ends up conveying a lot of different emotions despite it's austere approach. His previous LP A New Way to Pay Old Debts seemed liked it was an obvious next step for the former rocker, a stripped down version of pure ear splitting noise. This is more subtle, the space in between notes more pronounced.

Here's why I decided to write this up: I saw him this year at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and it blew my mind. Here's the setup: 300,000 people converging on Golden Gate Park for a good 'ol throwback to the down home music of the south, complete with a dried-up Robert Plant singing Black Dog (an octave lower cause he's old as shit) and fat, drunk moms and dads bumping into each other on the way to the Banjo Stage. One of the organizers (maybe somebody with a sense of humor) booked Orcutt at the small stage near the front entrance as the last act, meaning that most of the crowd got to listen to him as they walked to their cars. For such a huge festival the crowd in front of him was sparse and I think he was as bewildered as anyone about his presence. And it was awesome. For a festival that prides itself on emotional music, he fit right in.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Max Levine Ensemble - mr. gikokovich 2000-2005: a retrospective

Genre: Punk, Pop Punk, DIY
Sounds like: Good Luck, GOOD Blink-182

This band is insanely catchy. I pretty much associate them with riding in a car by yourself with blown out speakers dimed and screaming along with the lyrics, overwhelmed with internal energy and wanting to jump around and mosh while they play. They've been around awhile (10 years?!??!) and have some pretty cool stuff in their back catalog, all conveniently download-able from their Bandcamp/website for whatever you feel like paying. This album, specifically, collects some of their older songs rerecorded for the uninitiated and is a great starting point. Apparently their old incarnations included trumpets and stuff but AFAIK they're basically a three piece nowadays, which is my favorite amount of people for a punk band. No frills, nothing too complicated, just straight up pop-punk energy in packaged in accessible <3 minute songs. All their stuff is good, check out OK Smartypants which is another one of their completely solid albums.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marc Ribot - Silent Movies

Genre: Experimental, Solo Guitar, Noise, Minimalist
Sounds like: Lounge Lizards, John Zorn

Marc Ribot is a weird semi-classical guitar player who switches genres enough that he's pretty hard to nail down. For anybody that's a fan of Tom Wait's stranger, "lounge band from hell" sound - a lot of that comes from this guy. He plays with a lot of other well known musicians (Elvis Costello, John Lurie) in a variety of functions and plays everything from bitchin' Cuban music to balloon-on-strings noise. I was really tempted to just do a huge link dump but those get overwhelming so I'll start with this - it's his most recent release and it sticks to him playing thin, haunting instrumental guitar songs. It's good music for a rainy day and really shows off his style. What I like is that while he's a well trained player, he knows when to settle down and go for mood too. The video I linked below isn't actually from this album but it's awesome and should be posted. It's cribbed from the Scorsese Blues documentary which was mostly full of well-known wankers covering classic blues songs in a way that would make the original artists spin in the ground at lathe-speed. Packed away on the extras disc is this video - Ribot reinterpreting Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark was the Night" and KILLING it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Zona Mexicana - Eponymous 10"

Genre: Math Rock, Hardcore, Screamo
Sounds like: Algernon, Kidcrash, Ape Up!

So I'm going to try really hard not to just repost everything that Circling the Drain puts up but this will have to be an exception because I've been waiting for it FOREVER and it doesn't disappoint - besides that it's not longer. Zona Mexicana are a great mathy hardcore band from Purchase, New York with tons of raw energy and musical chops. They've released some sporadic splits and an EP which really just tease because of their length. This is really no different but I guess sometimes the fun is in the buildup. Every song on this thing is great - Watershed rips, Rain Therapy and Theme pack more riffs into <2 minutes than any band should reasonably allow, and Waking up with Dedication shows them going for the big choruses. Their drummer is a guy named Cameron Wisch who'll I'll affectionately describe as being a punk-rock version of Zach Hill (he's got some really good solo stuff too). I love Zona Mexicana.