Monday, December 31, 2012

Album Of The Year 2012: Duck Little Brother! Duck- Don't Take Our Filth Away

Genre: Math Rock, Hardcore
For Fans Of: Zona Mexicana, Small Brown Bike,
Every year I anticipate album releases from favorite bands and more times than not they fall flat in terms of expectations. Duck Little Brother, Duck!, a loud, caustic math rock four-piece from Portland, Oregon released a full-length record in 2010 titled “Survival Is Not a Workout”, (their first release) and instantly became one of my favorite records. So when I first saw a teaser of their next record, I was apprehensive yet excited, to see if they could conquer themselves. And by the title of this post, they did.

Signed to one of the hipper labels, Topshelf Records, which places them along popular emo/skramz artists, Duck Little Brother, Duck! doesn't fall into the trappings of the genre they have been placed beside, but rather do subtle winks and nods throughout the record to their influences, and dance along a hardcore flavor to create something unique and refreshing without stepping on anyone's toes. Don't Take Our Filth Away  is exactly as the title implies, there is beauty in their dissonance. Dirt in the fret boards, and grime built up on the drums. This is how I imagine this record was created. bright, technical songs and riffs channeling through a deteriorating instrument. Sounds like a complaint, but its the biggest compliment. Don't Take Our Filth Away is a refreshing take on the math rock genre. (contentious title within itself) We often praise music that displaces us within its sound, a form of escapism. This record does the exact opposite. It quickly latches onto your monotonous day. Recent achievements, a good day at work, messy shortcomings or distant regret, all lingers with glints of beauty hidden within all of it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NAH - tapefuck

tapefuck cover art

Genre: hip hop, noise, electronic music that nobody would ever dance to
Sounds like: Death Grips, 1994!

A few weeks ago my coworker asked me what kind of music I like to listen to. How the fuck am I supposed to answer that question? Do I tell him I like bands like Nah? "Oh yeah there's this great new EP thing I've been listening to called tapefuck, it kinda sounds like hip hop except there are more gross garbage disposal sounds." Reasonable people don't like listening to garbage disposals, especially when it sounds like they're grinding up old circuit bent Casio keyboards. Anyways I just told him I liked "punk," he told me he never heard of it, and we both reached an unspoken agreement to never talk about music again.

Sometimes I wonder if albums like tapefuck are slowing causing me to go insane. This music can't be good for me, like watching too much weird porn or staring directly at the sun. I'm going to think that this is what pop music is supposed to sound like. I will stare uncomprehendingly as a man plays an acoustic guitar. The concept of a piano will be completely unfathomable. Doctors will be forced to take out a chunk of my brain with an ice cream scoop like in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I will bond with my friends and coworkers again. I will sleep well at night. I will look up music on Youtube that I heard in a television commercial. I will recognize songs on the radio. I will buy many different types of shoes to match the different types of outfits that I own. Nah will still exist for me, but far away, as if from a dream.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sneeze - I'm Going to Kill Myself

Genre: punk, pop-punk, garage
Sounds like: Weezer, Everclear

Even if the music wasn't awesome I would be tempted to post this album because of the title alone. So good. Anyways I don't often compare bands favorably to Everclear (I tend not to think about Everclear that much, actually) but I think it fits here. I saw Sneeze play a crappy little venue in Fresno last summer and they basically have perfectly crunchy guitar tone that reminds me immediately of the Blue Album or Pinkerton. Nothing too complicated here it's mostly just really solid songwriting and really catchy chord progressions. The singing is pretty good and you can tell that the band knows how to write good pop songs while also adding some punk sneer for good measure. Did I mention the crunchy guitar? I think I did. Fifteen songs in thirty minutes = awesome summer jams. I recommend listening to this in a car with a horrible stereo system. 

Listen/download/buy on their Bandcamp.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For Serious This Time - When You're In It

Genre: Indie pop
For Fans Of: DivideDivideDivide, Chalk Talk

Where i'm from, the summer creeps in the spring and lingers through the fall. Its sweltering, sometimes unbearable, impossible to get away from, but I love every minute of it. Here are two things that get me through the triple digit days:

1. Summer Jams.

2. The Tiny Toon Adventures straight-to-video feature length film.

For Serious This Time's 2nd release, When You're In It, fits the first thing on my short list of requirements that help me through the heat. I get excited for summer anthems, records that stay constant in your car, windows down singing out your little heart, (y'all know the feeling so I don't have to explain) etc.Typically those are accompanied with a car full of friends, singing along, and someone is always pretending they know all the riffs. Although I have those albums (Braid is the standard in my circle), When You're In It is my personal summer jam. I don't know the reason for this, since every song on this record is so goddamn catchy. Great guitar lines that have a solo esque (gasp!) to them that goes right along the group chants and vocals. The vocals  is nasally and youthful, which brings the charm. Its a really quick listen, I suggest to really anyone who loves a good short and sweet pop album.

I always wanted my first day of summer to be like the opening scene of the Tiny Toon movie. Although I have never gotten anywhere near as close as I wanted these certain records can for a brief moment emulate of what summers you once had, or for a second you can pretend what you always wanted your days in the in the sun to be like, or maybe ones you will have. Alright i'm starting to get esoteric so I should stop. go listen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tiny Hawks - People Without End

Genre: Hardcore Punk Math
For Fans of : 1994!, Daniel Striped Tiger

Sometimes I cant tell if bands write really short songs cause they are smart and want to get to the point, or they use that excuse to mask their inability to write full songs.

Two piece bands trying to emulate a full sounding group is a challenge (creating a good solid sound with 5 members is tough as well) and Tiny Hawks exceeds at doing so. The drums hit hard and deliberate although it seems he is flailing randomly, the guitarist is twangy yet dissonant and has chord progressions you wouldn't expect from a hardcore punk band. What separates Tiny Hawks from other bands with the two piece formula is the mass amounts of great riffs they have. Riffs that make you listen to the songs over and over again so you can hear that one measure that has the "roll down the windows and fist pump alone" riff.

Sometimes I wonder if I only listen to music for that one riff. Once I find it, I play it to death, then forget about it for a couple years, and realize the riffs are still there, magical just as much as the first time. If you like great noisy instrumentation with shouty incoherent quasi-political vocals, you will love Tiny Hawks!

Drummers that look like Tim Harrington

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Craft Spells "Gallery"- EP

Singer/songwriter Justin Vallesteros and the rest of the talented group that is Craft Spells are so ahead of their time and they're only in their early twenties. Nothing oozes new wave revival like this Captured Tracks band. Caught these guys in Visalia, Ca with Beach Fossils (label brothers) and this year at SXSW 2012. Such incredibly humble guys and their live set sounds just as dreamy. 

Due May 15, you can check out their new EP streaming now on Soundcloud through

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Here We Go Magic- 'A Different Ship'

Alright folks,
The Secretly Canadian band "Here We Go Magic" just released some magic indeed and I want to start this post off by simply saying: ...Holy shit. Nigel Godrich.

Only having released two full length albums prior, this talented quintet based out of Brooklyn have dedicated their sound to rhythmic bells, looping synths, and basically music that is just ridiculously catchy yet incredibly complex once you've taken a step back. It's every band, artist, writers, etc. dream to create something simplistic, yet poignant. Listening to their sound as a whole on A Different Ship can make one realize why you never thought of that note in the first place when creating it or a chorus that was always on the tip of your tongue, but could never fully decipher in the studio.

In 2010, the band was fortunate to grab at least two important individuals attention within a massive and exhausted early morning audience at the Glastonbury Music Festival. (The type of spot that bands dread) Those two wide eyed appreciators just HAPPENED to be Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich. Of course, Thom Yorke doesn't need an explanation but in case those who are not aware of the people who help shape Radioheads music from behind the scenes, one prominent contributor for years has been Godrich himself. A man with an impressive resume: working with musicians such as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Pavement, Paul McCartney, Air, Beck, and so on. Although HWGMs music has been quite successful already with their album transitions, this album I feel takes on it's very own harmonious charm with the help of Godrich.

Their single, "How Do I Know", is radio friendly, starting off with a fun guitar hook, yet beginning lyrically with words as fragile as "How do I know if I love you?" This song balances those playful melodies and sentimental verses and delve into vulnerable topics such as loneliness and a search for connection.

Here is their music video, directed by Sean Pecknold:

Or check it out on Vimeo:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dismemberment Plan - "!"

Genre: DC post punk/indie pop
Sounds Like: So Many Dynamos, Q and Not U
 A small timely rant:

There has been a consistent and exciting wave of indie band revivals that started last year and coming in strong for the rest of 2012. Acts like Braid, At The Drive In, Desaparecidos, Refused and countless others have sprung up on music festivals and select cities across the states. Any reasons for the sudden surge of bands coming back together? Is it due to their audience, who are now a slight older and their influence is being heard (Braid and the Midwest revival few years back) in contemporary bands? Or that they had resonated with so many people back when they were active that its an easy cash grab using nostalgia? You hear many music fans going "I'm going to cry my shit over this" or "I will do anything to see (insert important band of their adolescence). Or they just felt like touring again? I'm not knocking this recent trend whatsoever cause I am an ATDI fanboy as much as the next guy in their mid-twenties and will continue to exclaim that they are one of the most important bands of my generation. But I look at this trend very carefully. Who knows maybe we will get an Ian Williams and Damon Che reunion if the price is right.

The Dismemberment Plan was one of the first on my radar to reunite and tour again which started early last year. Touring United States and Japan and eventually performing on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon. Although I didn't discover Dismemberment Until 2004 (one year after they broke up) they have stuck with me for the past 8 years. So when I saw the dates being announced, my nostalgia was being prodded deeply.

Their first album, aptly named "!" was my initial discovery of this band, and like how most young people received new music in the early 00's, it was on a scribbled, discolored CD-R and the last two tracks were ruined due to excessive scratches. At first glance its another mid 90's post punk DC indie band with dissonant guitars and punchy bass with strange melodic vocals (and the first drummer is a monster). Although true, what makes Dismemberment so different is how Smart this band is. Not in the Radiohead way, but more in the Rush sense. (I know I know stay with me here guys) they manage to have clever lyrics and hooks without sacrificing great technical song writing and great catchy riffs. The other key to the smart equation is how they don't take themselves seriously but still sound like every song was carefully crafted to perfection.

This album is in my top ten of all time, and although some people might be completely turned off by the vocals, give all their records a listen. These songs will stick to you. Fun Fact: I have an ex girlfriend who despised this band to the very end, and although that's not important at all, I feel like it should be.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mississippi John Hurt

Genre: The Blues
Sounds like: Fred McDowell, Skip James

I've been listening to a lot of blues lately which is hard to write about - it's been around awhile and it basically had it's heydey about 50 years ago. I'm very suspicious of any genre that inspired vapid British arena rock played by white guys with big hair and loud guitars. It's funny how basically the most humble of all music was the direct cause of so much dumb classic rock. There's an interesting parallel here: folk and blues in the 1960's is basically equivalent to rap/hip hop in the 2000's. Think about it. Blues basically sprouted out of black peoples' horrible existence as the dirt poor of the south. Hip hop started from the ghettos in big cities across the country. They both were eventually co-opted by big labels into a money making machine designed to sell records to white high schoolers. In very few instances do the modern versions represent anything close to the original intent - less feeling, more capitalism. But I digress.

Everything I know about Mississippi John Hurt comes from his Wikipedia page but I'll summarize it here: he was a sharecropper his whole life and recorded like one song in the 1920s. The depression hit and he went back to farming for awhile. In 1963 some random white guy found one of his old records, tracked him down and convinced him to start recording again. He had some success in the "American Folk Revival" until he died a couple years later. He's basically the man when it comes to great fingerstyle guitar and I'll just stop writing and post some music. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eternal Dreamer - Splintered Sunlight

Genre: Psychedelic, Drone, Experimental

Sometimes writing about music seems futile. It’s a subjective experience that I find difficult to describe. To approximate this experience, I try to make connections between the music/what I know about the musician, and my personal experiences/beliefs in hopes that the reader might share similar experiences/beliefs (and thus have an understanding). However, this has been very difficult since I can’t seem to find any information about Eternal Dreamer. This album is the reason I haven’t posted anything in over a month. I’ve been paralyzed. I’ve never experienced anything like this one. This is easily one of the best tapes I’ve purchased this year. I’m sick of trying to write about something I know nothing about. Just listen and tell me what you hear.

Download, but please pick up one of the last copies from Calypso Hum if you like it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ssaliva - RZA

Genre: loops and stuff
Sounds like: smokey haze

Oh hey. How are you? Yeah I know, I had forgotten about this thing too.

New tape from Ssaliva. He's supposed to be Belgian I think. I posted something else by him and now I'm posting this too.  bet there's a whole genre that sounds like this but I don't know what it is. I bet you can find a download link somewhere too if you look (I didn't).

This post brought to you by your extremely dedicated blog author.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kevin Greenspon – Paradise A.D.

Some people say the things in a person’s room are an accurate predictor of their personality. Others say you can tell a lot about someone by what they pack in their suitcase. Or by the type of cereal they buy. The problem with all of these sayings is that they only provide insight into what somebody takes from the world, but not what they bring into it. They’re never about what somebody creates. The things we create are like projections of images and ideas from the mind; projections that aren’t limited by the confines of words. For that reason, looking at what somebody produces can provide more insight into who a person really is.

This is particularly true for Kevin Greenspon. I’ve only known Kevin for about a year, but I feel like I’ve known him longer because I’ve been a fan of his music for a few years. While others hide behind pseudonyms, Kevin performs candidly under his own name and produces some of the most honest and heartfelt music under the experimental music umbrella. His music has a heart that’s bursting with sentiment; a heart that generates movement as if the whole could not function in its absence. It has a mind that’s tactful; conveying thoughtful messages while well-aware that time is finite. And his music has a soul that allow his songs to stay with you long after you’ve finished listening. Kevin brings all of these components together to provide the most important thing missing from most experimental music: the human element. And it’s this human element that binds the creator with the creation, as if they were looking at each other through a mirror.

Note: Paradise A.D. is a fantastic collection of new and previously released music. Pick up a copy here and get to know Kevin Greenspon. Kevin and I also have a split out on Goldtimers. This is a really special release for me since Kevin’s music has been incredibly influential on my own.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Organized Konfusion - Self Titled

Genre: Hip Hop

Sounds like: De La Soul, Abstract Rude,

From my previous posts, this may seem a little bizarre to have me talk about early 90's alternative hip hop, but I have a deep seeded love for it. This includes varying types from intellectual "backpack" hip hop like Aceyalone, to "let's see how gnarly we can get with our lyrics" rap from Cage or Immortal Technique, It all has its place in my heart. Trying to trace back where my endearment for rap started, the earliest memory I have was when my mom got Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle and would sing along everyday on the way to kindergarten.

Organized Konfusion blends various aspects of what makes hip hop appealing to me, the ability to blend unique yet catchy beats, (with a little jazz and R&B into the mix) and display thought provoking lyrical content without sacrificing that "hardness" or edge that most people crave in their hip hop. Listening through their discography, the duo, Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch, both have different approaches and rhyme techniques. Pharoahe has been know to have the strangest lyrical patterns and meter of any rapper, with the closest thing I can relate it to is something off of Hella's Devil Isn't Red. He bounces between varying patterns of rhyme and timing, without sacrificing melody. Prince Po generally is the foundation for the songs as Pharoahe is able to dance around the beat, changing the dynamic every verse. The song "Fudge Pudge" demonstrates this, as Pharoahe in one verse creates a flurry of rhythm in a single melody.

Check it out, so you can be a closet hip hop head like me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rivière Amur - Bois Flotté

Genre: Drone, Psychedelic

Sounds like: Deep Magic, earlier Pocahaunted

Bois Flotté is like discovering something unfamiliar through the familiar. An alternate perspective on reality. Side A begins with the familiar sound of the ocean, as meditative chants and slow tonal changes emerge from beneath. Crashing waves decrease in force as if Rivière Amur could calm the most violent of seas. Bells chime in the background, like a hypnotist signaling you in and out of consciousness. Don’t fight it. Forget everything you know and accept this new reality. Approach the world with a naïve eye, as if just born. All knowledge is now a priori. Disassociate objects around you from the names given to them. Focus on the aesthetics: shapes, color, and movement. What do you see? What do you hear? Whispered voices and chirping birds in the background have become nebulous and have fused with the droning soundscape. Familiar sounds have transformed into something new. Something radiant. Don’t fight it. You’re now ready for Side B.

Note: Rivière Amur is a musical collaboration between Belgium’s Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier and Pittsburg’s Inez Lightfoot. Purchase a copy of Bois Flotté from I Had an Accident Records.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2011: How Do You Like Your Emo?

I had a lot of favorites this year, but for me the emphasis was upbeat, fist pumping tunes. Being a year where I ended up back in my hometown, displaced after a five year relationship ending, landing a great new job, living in an awesome house with its own name, joining new bands and just a general sense of self worth, these albums resonated with me but not at the expense of awesome riffs. List in no particular order:

Algernon Cadwallader continues with each release to refine and mature that midwest/IloveCapn'Jazzmorethenyoudo emo sound that
is currently flooding the internet. Most importantly, what Parrot Flies also manages to sneak in a Eddie Money-esque riff on the last track of the album aptly named "Cruisin'".

Battles without avant-garde Tyondai Braxton released Gloss Drop, which turned it into a pop album. More Ian Williams in any fashion is a good thing to me. The featured vocalists on Gloss Drop was also a nice surprise, with every artist taking a different approach to the already eclectic sound.

Zona Mexicana
finally put out their self titled 10-inch in November. 15 minutes of what would happen if Tera Melos collided with Cursed. the only way I can describe them is that they are just wild. pure wild punk rock.(There is post about them on this blog)

Glocca Morra's
Ghoulish Intentions managed to do something I never thought of/seemed possible: a twinkly emo band made a record that sounds like it came off a Mclusky b-side. Made me wish there would be some more Mclusky someday.

The Speed of Sound In Seawater (I like to call them Speedwater) has the technical nerd riffage that gets all the math rock boys in a frenzy, but utilizes the vocalist's youthful and melodic approach that puts them in a bedroom pop space so your girlfriend can get into them just as you do. Immediately personable yet maintains catchiness, their third release, Underwater Tell Each Other Secrets is their best work, and a full length needs to follow.

If I had to pick one album for the year, it would have to be Prawn's You Can Leave It All Behind.

I have listened to this album more then anything else this year so that constitutes album of the year right? For where I was last year and currently, Prawn just caught me on everything. Great sing along riffs while you hug your friends, great post-rock riffs that come straight out of a Mogwai album and lyrics that are not cryptic, (a problem with a lot of these bands) but clear and concise. I generally could care less about vocals/lyrics in a band, but this album changed that. Its 2012 and this is still a constant in my car. I was lucky enough to actually play with these guys this summer, which just sweetens the whole deal.

Please give it all a listen, so you can scoff at how I still listen to bands that talk about problems you had when you're 16 and how they are the same when you are 24.