Friday, November 18, 2011

The Aerial Maps - The Sunset Park album review

The Australian Government is going to have their hands full if prospective Australian tourists listen to this record. Adam Gibson, the lyricist/vocalist of The Aerial Maps, undertook a solo trek across Australia while writing this album. The result is a dark and uncompromising look at the nation, its culture and its people...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review...

Rip It Up The Aerial Maps The Sunset Park album review

The Aerial Maps - Salvation Road (Single) - 01 Salvation Road by popboomerang

Ernest Ellis & The Panamas - King's Canyon album review

For me, reviewing a bad or mediocre album is much easier than reviewing a good album. Maybe it’s that streak of nastiness that’s left inside all of us from when we were judgmental and selfish little kids. Maybe it’s because I can think of more synonyms for the word ‘sucky’ than I can for the word ‘awesome’. Maybe it’s because I’m a sub-par journalist. Any way you slice it, I had a hell of a time reviewing Kings Canyon by Ernest Ellis & The Panamas...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review...

Rip It Up Ernest Ellis & The Panamas Kings Canyon album review

Kings Canyon by Ernest Ellis

This Will Destroy You - Tunnel Blanket album review

How do you describe or define an emotion? Everyone knows the textbook definition of words like ‘sad’ and ‘angry’, but what do these words actually mean? Human emotion is unique to the person. If the emotion that manifests itself within the individual is the product of distinctive circumstances and a sole personality, how could we ever hope to describe it to someone who isn’t ourselves? Texan band This Will Destroy You has come close to answering this question...
Click on the link below to read the rest of my review...

This Will Destroy You-Tunnel Blanket by GirlieAction

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moonface - Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped album review

Spencer Krug has been described as “arguably the most talented songwriter of this generation”. As with any prematurely over-enthusiastic comment, this is up for debate. There is no doubt that some of Krug’s musical projects have yielded impressive results, most notably Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. The key word, however, is some.

Krug plays piano, guitar and a bunch of other instruments you’ve never heard of. Since 2003, he has been involved with six different bands and has released 20 records. There is no doubt that he is a talented guy, but man, talk about spreading yourself thin...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Moonface Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped album review

Telekinesis - 12 Desperate Straight Lines album review

Bare with me while I play the role of music analyst. Michael Lerner, the man behind Seattle-based Telekinesis, has called his second full-length release 12 Desperate Straight Lines. It’s a fitting title considering all of the 12 songs on the album proceed in a linear fashion, sounding familiar without ripping off any other artist directly. The album is desperate because, despite the bubbly power pop sound, Lerner’s heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics cover the well-worn bases of unrequited love and great expectations...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Telekinesis 12 Desperate Straight Lines album review

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Aves live @ Jive 17/09/2011

I have only been a resident of Adelaide for about a year now.  When the assignment to cover the Panic EP launch of local band The Aves rolled through my inbox, I had no idea who The Aves were, nor did I know how to correctly pronounce their name (long a? Short a?). Never one to say no to free passes to a show, I made my way to Jive Saturday night.

Another local band, The Honey Pies, opened the show.  They possessed a playful exuberance that had the stilettoed groupies bouncing jauntily from one fake-tanned calf muscle to the other.  Despite possessing the energy of a seven-year-old on a Fizz Whizz binge, the music of The Honey Pies shifted genres so much that they ultimately sounded like karaoke night at some hipster dive bar in Brooklyn.  Not exactly whetting my appetite for The Aves brand of lo-fi garage rock...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

*special thanks to Spoz for the above video...see what he's ranting and raving about today at Spoz's Rant

Grow Up by theavesmusic

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Batrider - Piles Of Lies album review

A few years back I read an article that postulated what would have happened to Kurt Cobain had he not committed suicide, kicked his drug habit and adjusted to his life as a music superstar. It proposed that Cobain would have put Nirvana on an indefinite hiatus to dabble in painting and release a solo album to mixed indifference. He would also divorce and eventually remarry Courtney Love.

The new album, Piles Of Lies, by Adelaide (by way of New Zealand) band, Batrider, sounds like a Love/Cobain side project. With the distortion pedal firmly squashed to the floor and despondent lyrics that ooze with heartache, the album reeks of early ‘90s Seattle...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Batrider Piles Of Lies album review

Batrider - Piles of Lies by Mess+Noise

JEFF The Brotherhood - We Are The Champions album review

Nashville, Tennessee duo Jeff The Brotherhood consists of two brothers. Neither of them is named Jeff. Jake and Jamin Orrall describe themselves as “not garage rock”. Fair enough. I can see how the untrained ear may jump to that conclusion. Labels and genres aside, the fact of the matter is that Jeff The Brotherhood make a hell of a lot of noise...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up JEFF The Brotherhood We Are The Champions album review

JEFF the Brotherhood by rocksteddie

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bear Hands - Burning Bush Supper Club album review

Now here is a band that truly practices what they preach. Dylan Rau, frontman for Bear Hands, sings ‘Everyone knows that crime pays and everybody does it’. I don’t know how ‘everyone’ feels about criminal activity, but it’s quite obvious that Rau has no moral hang-ups when it comes to petty theft.

Rau has done a little more than copy the musical style of past tour-mates MGMT. From the neo-psychedelia and thumping bass to the colorful synths and comedic lyrical wordplay, Bear Hands have essentially made a record that could have been MGMT’s own Congratulations...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Bear Hands Burning Bush Supper Club album review

Bear Hands - Golden by TLC Blog

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Memory Tapes - Player Piano album review

If you were a fan of Memory Tapes’ debut album, Seek Magic, his new LP, Player Piano, may leave you scratching your head. The second record from the New Jersey based musician is a hazy, heady dream world. The Tapes have discarded electronic dance beats in favour of spacey, ethereal melodies and haunting lyrics. At times it’s beautiful, at other times crushingly depressing in its raw honesty. Player Piano reflects on the day-to-day struggle of coming to terms with our shortcomings. It is an album of missed opportunities, regret, happiness and frustration...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review...

Rip It Up Memory Tapes Player Piano album review

Memory Tapes by antc

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Miami Horror live @ The Gov 08/07/2011

The show opened with Gold Fields, a group of young guys who bounce around on stage like a bunch of Mexican Jumping Beans.  Their moderately known material is nothing to call home about, however their enthusiastic live renditions were infinitely more interesting than their studio recorded counterparts, showing that Gold Fields has some promise.

The kaleidoscopic electropop peddlers that everyone came to see, Melbourne's Miami Horror, took their sweet time taking the stage.  This prompted a few overzealous cheers at the appearance of an overweight sound guy who came to check some of the onstage equipment.

To be completely honest, I was skeptical when the band took the stage.  They all looked slightly pretentious and kind of sleazy, like they had just shown up to some 1970s porno shoot.  I wasn't sold on how their studio sound would transfer to a live setting, especially considering that I had heard that some of their early live shows consisted of nothing but front man Benjamin Plant singing over prerecorded background music.  Surrounded by their expensive synths and nearly tripping over all of the wires running along the floor, the band launched into song after song of danceable indie pop that had everyone on their feet.

Miami Horror played through their set with an infectious energy that quickly spread throughout the crowd of The Gov, which I suppose would be fairly easy when six of the twelve tracks on your debut album have been released as singles.  Even though there wasn't an appearance by Kiwi alt-cutie Kimbra (who performs the vocals on 'I Look To You'), Miami Horror delivered an upbeat performance that truly electrified the crowd.  The show was, in a word, awesome.  I left incredibly impressed and I would assume that everyone in attendance would agree with me if I said that it was $35 well spent.

I did, however, feel somewhat violated during the show, given Plant's penchant for putting his guitar between his legs and thrusting his hips forward in a thinly veiled demonstration of some kind of oversexed junior high school perversion. I don't know if a guitar can be used as compensation for a certain part of male anatomy, but given Plant's proclivities, he should look into acquiring one of these.

Moon Theory by Miami Horror (Official)

Boy & Bear live @ The Gov 20/05/2011

Rip It Up sent me to review this show, however they didn't end up using it, so here it is, better late than never.

A shoulder-to-shoulder, sold-out crowd packed The Gov on Friday, 20th of May as the five members of Boy & Bear took the stage and settled behind their instruments.  Incandescent light bulbs were strung above while little lamps salvaged from garage sales adorned the stage, setting the mood for an intimate and powerful performance.
Boy & Bear have garnered attention due to their captivating vocal harmonies and memorable melodies, and seeing them live is not only a treat for the ears but the eyes as well.  They perform together like a consistent and concise well-oiled machine, easily capturing the essence of their studio recordings. This isn’t to say that the band simply slides into their comfort zone and plays their songs in a mechanical or rigid fashion.  The sold-out crowd was treated to extended guitar solos and an incredibly energetic performance, prompting them to sing-along while waving their hands in the air.

Boy & Bear’s set consisted of many fan-favourites including “Blood To Gold” and “Mexican Mavis”. However, it was the song that secured them the number five spot on this year’s Hottest 100 that incited the biggest reaction.  Their cover of Crowded House’s “Fall At Your Feet” was an exceptionally potent experience, with the chugging beats of drummer Tim Hart levying palpable emotion.

The band’s new material lulled concertgoers into a sleepy shuffle, although a few eccentric diehards tried their best to clap along.  Despite these slight missteps, Boy & Bear always managed to get the crowd’s collective pulse beating again with their folksy brand of country balladry and indie rock.

Late in their set vocalist Dave Hosking announced to the crowd that although he “probably shouldn’t be saying this”, the sold-out Adelaide crowd was the best they’ve had so far.  To be fair, when a show is as good as it was on Friday night, the band deserves it.

Boy & Bear - "Mexican Mavis" by theaudioperv

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Mother Mother - Eureka album review

The first single off Eureka from Mother Mother, The Stand, is one of the most dizzying and laugh out loud funny songs I’ve heard in a long time.  The co-ed vocal ping-pong that has become Mother Mother’s staple is better than ever, and it’s damn catchy. The Stand is bouncy, jaunty and unwavering in its candy-coated presentation, setting a precedent that the rest of the album more or less follows. It even ends with a little giggle to let you know that it was a light-hearted, playful affair in case you didn’t already get that from the swirling organs and silly lyrics...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Mother Mother Eureka album review

EUREKA by Mother Mother

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Elected - Bury Me In My Rings album review

Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley used to be a child actor. One of her most memorable roles is in the 1989 film, The Wizard, which was basically a 90-minute Super Mario Bros 3 commercial. For me, however, Jenny Lewis’ greatest performance was when I saw her in New York City a few years ago.  She was so “overcome” with emotion she collapsed onstage, sobbing hysterically, while her bandmates were forced to play on.

When Rilo Kiley guitarist Blake Sennett formed The Elected in 2004 he titled his band’s debut record Me First, which was probably a jab at the melodramatic antics of Kiley’s leading lady...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up The Elected Bury Me In My Rings album review

The Elected by VagrantRecords

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Timber Timbre - Creep On, Creepin' On album review

It’s a shame that Halloween isn’t really celebrated here in Australia. If it were, the fourth album from Canada’s Timber Timbre, Creep On Creepin’ On, would be the perfect soundtrack to accompany a night of ghosts and ghouls.

Lead singer Taylor Kirk’s subdued voice navigates an eerie alien landscape where pianos dance jauntily over the carcasses of doo-wop, jazz and blues. The simplistic, chugging basslines feel like someone is creeping up behind you, while string arrangements screech and whine and send your pulse into a frenzied anxiety...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Timber Timbre Creep On, Creepin' On album review

Timber Timbre - Timber Timbre by The Drift Record Shop

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Q&A with Pat Hull

Barely in his mid-twenties, American singer-songwriter Pat Hull has toured extensively and been praised in every corner of the United States. His fourth album, Old Antics, is slated for release later this year and he is offering his new EP, Light, to Rip It Up readers for free. Despite the 13 ½ hour time difference, Pat managed to find time in his busy Big Apple schedule to sit down for a quick interview with our writer Ryan Lynch...

Click on the link below to read the interview:

Rip It Up A Q&A with Pat Hull

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Panics live @ Uni Bar 2/07/2011

The last time I reviewed a show at the Uni Bar (The Drums) I was called a “douche” by some of our readers after I said that the sound quality was terrible (it was). Haters gonna hate, I guess, and so I’m just going to get my main complaint out of the way right now.

The doors of the Uni Bar opened at 8, and The Panics didn’t take the stage for over 3 hours.  I understand that they want to sell drinks, but for melodic soft-rock like this, the last thing I want to do is stand around for five hours.  I’m not at a rave, I haven’t popped any E and, quite frankly, after my second jug of Pale Ale I started to get drowsy.  There.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the performance.
I’m sure that most of you have heard of The Panics...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review...

Rip It Up The Panics live @ Adelaide Uni Bar 2/07/2011

Thursday, July 07, 2011

No Joy - Ghost Blonde album review

When Bethany Cosentino (AKA Best Coast) hailed No Joy, a female duo out of Montreal, as the “best band ever” on her Twitter feed, it sent buzz band vampires into a frenzied bloodlust. Fast-forward and No Joy have been signed by Mexican Summer and released their debut LP, Ghost Blonde, to a bevy of insatiable music elitists who have probably found little to no joy listening to it...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up No Joy Ghost Blonde review

No Joy - Heedless by morrisday

The Airborne Toxic Event - All At Once album review

LA’s Airborne Toxic Event seemingly came out of nowhere and delivered a surprise hit with their emo-laden, woe-is-me anthem Sometime Around Midnight. Back with the follow-up to their debut album, All At Once is a huge sounding record. It is ambitious, as every track attempts to capture your interest through heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics and foot stomping, sing-along choruses. The problem is that The Airborne Toxic Event take themselves too seriously...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up The Airborne Toxic Event All At Once

Numb by The Airborne Toxic Event

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Treefight for Sunlight album review

After listening to Treefight For Sunlight, it is easy to see why Denmark is frequently cited as one of the happiest countries in the world. The Danish band has bottled sunshine, rainbows, lollipops and fairy floss on their eponymous debut album, edging the listener dangerously close to type two diabetes or, at the very least, a sugar-induced coma...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Treefight For Sunlight Treefight For Sunlight album review


Tim & Jean - Like What review

Here’s an analogy for you. Lady Gaga is to mainstreamers what Tim & Jean are to scenesters. Make no mistake, there is nothing original, unique or groundbreaking about Tim & Jean.  In fact, you probably already have a few albums by artists who sound incredibly similar. Passion Pit? MGMT? Cut/Copy? The Naked & Famous? If so, you’ve pretty much heard everything teenagers Tim & Jean have to offer.

This complete lack of originality isn’t a bad thing when you do it right. Let’s conduct a little history lesson for those of you born post 1990: Lady Gaga wouldn’t exist without Madonna, Madonna wouldn’t exist without Debbie Harry and so on and so forth. Tim & Jean are basically copycats; a duo who were enamoured with electro-pop and took their fandom one step further to make their own record...

Click the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Tim & Jean Like What album review

Tim And Jean - "Like What" by YiN Magazine

Matt Walters - Farewell Youth review

Melbourne’s Matt Walters had a chance meeting with Mercury Records A&R head Peter Karpin a few years ago. During this chance encounter, Walters played his song Conversation and was signed on the spot. When record companies complain about declining profits, it is because they choose to produce records like this...

Click on the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Matt Walters Farewell Youth album review

I Would Die For You - Matt Walters Ft. WASHINGTON by Matt Walters

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - Smoking In Heaven review

Despite their youth, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have been at it for a while now. The British siblings have been performing and recording since their early teens and their new album, Smoking In Heaven, sets out to establish them as mature, serious musicians.

The songs on Smoking In Heaven are rooted in early Americana rock and roll. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis don’t reinvent an old sound but recycle it completely. Even the way that the siblings dress is proof that they too (or at least their management) believe that they are from the 1950s...

To read the rest of my review click on the link below...

Rip It Up Kitty, Daisy & Lewis Smoking In Heaven review

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - Smoking In Heaven (Pre-Listening Sampler) by PIASGermany

Blur - 13 review

Before Gorillaz, Damon Albarn's love child was Blur. And an epic album if there ever was one, Blur’s sixth album 13 dabbled in virtually every genre imaginable yet somehow retained a sense of coherency that saw it heralded as one of the most ambitious records of the 90s.

When 13 was released, the Britpop era was, for all intents and purposes, dead in the water.  Blur’s chief chart rivals, Oasis, were fading into a drug-induced obscurity, and Blur wasn’t far behind...

Read the rest of my review by clicking on the link below:

Rip It Up - Blur 13 album review

Blur - Trailer Park by Irregular Johnny

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Susy Blue - Curly Girl album review

Have you ever wondered what Barney And Friends would sound like if they played a Medieval Renassiance Fair? Me neither, but Melbourne’s Susy Blue is here to answer that question anyway. On her debut album, Curly Girl, Blue serves up an ambiguous and ambitious record of genre-bending antics...

Click the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Susy Blue Curly Girl review

Burning Star by Susy Blue

Blanck Mass - Blanck Mass album review

Fuck Buttons is kind of like the rave-attending, ecstasy-dropping cousin of Icelandic mopers Sigur Ros. Their songs are long, drawn-out, electronic affairs that are as exciting as dropping a Mentos into a bottle of Coke.  Despite this, their sophomore record Tarot Sport garnered the lazily named band quite a bit of praise. This inflated the ego of one half of Fuck Buttons enough to think that the public wanted to hear his solo record...

Click the link below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up Blanck Mass Blanck Mass review

Blanck Mass - Land Disasters by One Thirty BPM

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours review

I just saw a television commercial that told me the “rumours” were true.  The insanely popular (for a reason I can’t comprehend) show Glee is going to bastardize the Fleetwood Mac songbook.  Somewhere, my mother is rolling her eyes.

I never listened to Fleetwood Mac with any sort of regularity until I was an adult, although I had been exposed to them regularly throughout my childhood thanks to my mother.  My mom once confided in me that when she was a teenager she would stand in front of her bedroom mirror pretending that she was Stevie Nicks while Fleetwood Mac played in the background.  The first time I listened to Rumours I not only understood why my mom was miming, I wanted to be Stevie as well...

Read the rest of my review by clicking the link below:

Rip It Up - Fleetwood Mac Rumours review

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977) by krojac

Monday, June 06, 2011

EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints review

Dirty and grimy, Past Life Martyred Saints is the culmination of every regret you’ve had and sin you’ve committed. It is the shameful walk home after an all-night binge, an epitaph for innocence.

Half-sung, half-spoken-word, EMA’s (Erika M. Anderson) songs sound more like confessions than singing. Effects are layered on top of one another, guitars are distorted, percussion is muffled and notes are sustained to wails and moans that deliver a spine-chilling effect. However, it’s not all about shock value. There is genuineness and poignancy buried deep within the violence and ugliness. EMA’s songs chronicle depression, abuse, sexuality and self-destruction...

Read the rest of my review by clicking the link below:

Rip It Up EMA Past Life Martyred Saints review

EMA - The Grey Ship by WorkItMedia

Teleprompter - Teleprompter EP review

Brisbane’s Teleprompter is a workout. The five track, eponymous debut EP is an auditory assault that has such a frenetic energy you will be surprised at the mere 21-minute run time. That being said, if you’ve heard the album Antidotes by British band Foals, then you’ve pretty much heard Teleprompter...

Read the rest of my review by clicking the link below:

Rip It Up Teleprompter Teleprompter EP review

Teleprompter - Boxcutter (R3mix) by RThree

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Dananananaykroyd - There Is A Way review

You know Scooby-Doo’s cousin, Scrappy-Doo? The little dog that was a fraction of Scooby’s size but could speak English clearly and was courageous and daring in every way that Scooby wasn’t? to be fair, Scooby was probably incredibly paranoid. Dananananaykroyd is exactly like Scrappy-Doo; they’re so energetic it’s disorienting...

Read the rest of my review by clicking the link below:

Rip It Up - Dananananaykroyd There Is A Way

Dananananaykroyd - E Numbers by Can't Hear My Eyes

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea review

Neutral Milk Hotel, musical project of elusive American musician Jeff Mangum, delivered one of the most stunning records of the last twenty years in his sophomore In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and then disappeared.

Mangum’s vocals are not strong.  He is not what many would call a “gifted” singer.  But it is his voice that first arrests you.  It trembles and struggles to hit high notes, cracking under the sheer weight of his intricate and abstract prose.  The vocals are imperfect, presenting a quality of authenticity.  He believes in what he sings, and that dedication soaks you to the bone...

Read the rest of my review by clicking below:

Rip It Up - Neutral Milk Hotel In The Aeroplane Over The Sea review

Neutral Milk Hotel by rags9000

Monday, May 30, 2011

Zoey Van Goey - Propeller Versus Wings review

Scotland seems to have a penchant for producing melodic, winsome pop packages, most notably Belle & Sebastian. You can chalk yet another Glasgow-based band to the long list of Belle & Sebastian copycats. Zoey Van Goey (The Zoey’s? The Goeys?) try just a little too hard to be that slightly eccentric yet compelling artsy girl. You’re drawn to her, but you know deep down that she’s going to be unbearably pretentious and artificial...

Click below to read the rest of my review:

Rip It Up - Zoey Van Goey Propeller Versus Wings review

You Told The Drunks I Knew Karate - Zoey Van Goey by Helpless Dancer

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Snowman - Absence review

Snowman vocalist Joe McKee has said his band’s newest album is “about tearing yourself away from the things you love in order to do just that…move on. It’s about not turning into this thing that you have created. Keeping that distance. Killing the myth.” Absence is a poignant title considering the fact that the band has officially broken up at the time of this writing. Absence is an epithet for a band, an auditory Quija board session in which grieving fans can pay their last respects and be haunted by the spirit of a band that called it quits way too early...

Read the rest of my review by clicking below:

Rip It Up - Snowman Absence review

Hyena by SNOWMAN

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Order - Movement review

Before New Order, there was Joy Division. It was a pact made by a young group and a troubled lead singer’s tragic suicide that gave birth to one of the most influential and critically acclaimed bands of all time...

Click on the link below to read the full review:

Rip It Up - New Order Movement review

Sean Rowe - Magic review

When Sean Rowe’s voice comes out of your stereo speakers you’ll be reminded of the first time you found out Rick Astley was a skinny red head.  Rowe’s deep, soulful voice is somewhat jarring upon first listen, however the overwhelming powers of his delicate arrangements quickly demand your attention...

Click below to read the rest of the review:

Rip It Up - Sean Rowe Magic review

Listen to the entire album below, courtesy of ANTI records.

Sean Rowe - 'Magic' by antirecords

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion review

My review of Brooklyn's Crystal Stilts second album can be found below.  Enjoy!

Rip It Up - Crystal Stilts In Love With Oblivion review

01 - Crystal Stilts - Sycamore Tree by zantoxx


Hello all, I just wanted to apologize for my lack of updates lately.  I am currently writing for a magazine and I have a lot on my plate which includes a biweekly television review column in addition to the album reviews.  Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I will still be posting my album reviews on this site, along with all of the other goodies (i.e. mp3s, soundclips, videos), albeit in a shorter format.

I will still make an effort to provide totally original content for this site, however it may be more sporadic than you're used to.  That's all for now, I just wanted to keep all of you in the loop!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bare Wires - Don't Ever Change single review

Californian band Bare Wires are awesome.  Just look at that photo to the right.  How could you not immediately like three guys who look like David St. Hubbins, Mitch from Dazed & Confused and baseball great Rollie Fingers?

In all seriousness, this trio crafts simple garage rock tunes with pop sensibilities.  Single "Don't Ever Change" is nothing special, it doesn't light a fire under your ass, or do anything particularly spectacular.  It is, however, a slow burning, feel good type of song.  It's simplistic nature and charming attitude is hard to shake, especially when you couple it with its accompanying video (see below).

Bare Wires seems like the type of band who would play with the same amount of enthusiasm and energy regardless of whether the crowd consisted of twelve people or twelve hundred.  They look like a band who is having fun, genuinely reveling in what they're doing.  In an age where every buzzband has some kind of avant-garde attitude concerning their art, it is refreshing to see a band just enjoy themselves.

That being said, Bare Wires aren't really all that interesting.  We've heard garage rock, noise pop, et al. before, and Bare Wires don't bring anything new or innovative to the mix.  But something tells me that they don't really care all that much.

Bare Wires - Don't Ever Change 7" Single by Robot Elephant Records

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Drums live @ Adelaide Uni Bar 10/05/2011

The Drums are the perfect band to kickstart summer.  With songs like the bouncy, can't-help-but-singalong nature of their signature track "Let's Go Surfing", the band really shines with their brand of sun soaked indie pop.  The only problem is that Australia is on the other side of the world, and whereas the warmer months are encroaching on the States, The Land Down Under is slipping into chilly nights and lots of rain.  Despite this, The Drums came to Adelaide this past Tuesday with hopes of invigorating the crowd and helping them forget that they'd have to put off surfing for another few months.

Australia loves their indie music and The Drums are no exception.  The New York trio (although since the departure of their guitarist, the band has become a five-piece) was well received in the tiny Adelaide Uni Bar, which as you might have guessed, is a quaint little bar on the campus of Adelaide University, and virtually everyone in attendance was anxious to get through the support acts.  When The Drums did finally start cranking out tunes, I couldn't help but be underwhelmed.  The band had a lot of energy, and rolled through track after track of fan favorites, including "Best Friend", however they sounded terrible.

I don't know whether it was the small venue (I would estimate that the sold out crowd hovered around 300), crappy acoustics, or a sub-par soundsystem was the culprit, but the crisp, jangly tunes of their debut album were replaced by a muddied, second-rate version of themselves.  Vocalist Jonathan Pierce also sounded atrocious, leaving me wondering how much of the studio-version of his voice was achieved through post-production wizardry.  Aside from sound quality issues, the band stuck primarily to the well known tracks of their debut, occasionally tossing in a new song here and there.  The new songs that we did hear didn't really impress me all that much, however it should go without saying that because of the audio-related disparities the finalized studio versions of these songs will probably sound a lot better.

Despite the fact that I was disappointed with the show, I can't say that it in any way influences my view of the band.  I still love their debut, and it goes without saying that I will pick up their new album whenever it is released...I'll just think twice about dropping $50 to see them live.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed review

I would be hard pressed to think of an artist or band whose name accurately captured their sound as well as Georgia's Washed Out.  The project of musician Ernest Greene, Washed Out seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and quickly became synonymous with the then newly coined sub-genre, chillwave.

After a few EPs and singles, Washed Out has released the first sample of his debut album, Within and Without, on iconic label Sub-Pop.  Titled "Eyes Be Closed", the single is exactly what we have been expecting.  Heavily processed loops and samples dominate, and effects laden synths swoop throughout.

The song itself is a shimmering piece of 80s nostalgia.  Borrowing from New Wave, lo-fi and shoegaze movements, Washed Out has created a track of unadulterated bliss.  Taking one look at the album art summarizes it all.  This is pop music, filtered and strained to its core.  It creeps up on you and swallows you whole, drowning you in a sea ecstasy.  That being said, if you're not already a fan of Washed Out's brand of fuzzy, summery glo-fi anthems, this single isn't going to change your mind.

Washed Out and his contemporaries create music that is easy to listen to.  It rolls and undulates in waves, literally washing over you.  Despite the immediate likability of these tunes, it remains to be seen whether or not Washed Out can keep our attention for the length of an entire album.  So far Greene has succeeded in delivering pop songs in the three to four minute range that captivate and get the collective blogospehere's panties in a bunch.  It will be interesting to see if he can keep the momentum going over the span of a full length album.

Washed Out - "Eyes Be Closed" by Stereo/Pirate

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Antlers - Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out review

The Antlers announced their arrival with one of the most melancholy and critically acclaimed albums in recent memory.  Titled Hospice, it was a concept album of sorts that dealt with the pain of everything from surviving a loved one's passing to unplanned pregnancy with overwhelming distress.  It was the type of album that crept up on you slowly, with each song building slowly to a crescendo of emotional anguish.  It succeeded by creating an atmosphere of dense, complex songs that tugged at the heartstrings.  Even the more sonically heavy songs like "Sylvia" retained this feeling, which helped with the overall mood and atmospehere of the album.

The latest single from the perpetually despondent Brooklynites is a bit of an enigma for the sole reason that we are forced to listen to it without the context of the entire album.  The boys from the band said that their new effort, Burst Apart, would be a step in a different direction, even hinting at incorporating electronic sounds to a certain extent.  "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out" does indeed have an electronic tinge to it, in that there is an echoing little twinkle that had me searching for my mobile, as I thought it was ringing.  Peter Silberman's voice is also processed to a certain extent, although the band primarily sticks to traditional instruments.

The single clocks in at a little over three minutes and while I can't work out whether or not there is any significance to someone's teeth falling out, it is a tight, engaging ride.  "Every Night" seems to incorporate all of the elements that made their first album such a joy to listen to.  Vocal croons are left in tact, and delicate finger plucking leading into massive wails of electric guitar with bombastic choruses fuse together seamlessly.  The song seems to be an organic and natural progression in The Antlers sound.  That being said, one of the reasons Hospice was so good was because of its cohesiveness, it remains to be seen whether or not that cohesion reappears on Burst Apart, but so far, so good.

Listen to Burst Apart in its entirety courtesy of NPR

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sun Glitters - Cosmic Oceans review

With a name like Sun Glitters, you would expect the music to be unabashed candy coated fluff, complete with every Garageband Wizards wet dream of studio indulgences.  The Cosmic Oceans EP from Luxembourg beat sorcerer Victor Ferreira is somewhat surprising because it doesn't really play up to any preconceived notions.  Instead, Sun Glitters presents a small collection of songs that is like the sun drenched cousin of the rapegaze (erm, witch house) sound pioneered by the likes of gloom peddlers Salem.

Melodies are buried underneath wave after wave of processed ambient tinkerings, effectively creating rich electronic textures that succeed in creating a mood, but not much else.  Opener "it's like a monday, but it's not" features a skittering beat, haphazardly skipping across ethereal moans and see-sawing metallic pangs.  The lyrics are of no consequence as they are processed to the point of indecipherable wails and murmurs.

"it's like a monday but it's not" bleeds into "cosmic oceans", which, unfortunately, follows the same formula as its predecessor.  It does this so much so that the two songs could have been easily mashed into one five minute track instead of two two and a half minute ones.  "yesterday's weakness" is easily the most interesting, and listenable track, as it features a variety of layered effects that give the song a structure that is desperately lacking in the previous tracks.  That being said, it fails to save the droney, pensive undercurrent that weighs down the entire EP.

Sun Glitters creates pretty background music, the kind of stuff that would play in elevators if the world was populated by pretentious hipsters.  Listening to Sun Glitters is kind of like a dream, while sweet, when its all over you can't really remember all that much about it.

Sun Glitters - Cosmic Oceans (feat. Steffaloo) by design_t

Sun Glitters Cosmic Oceans 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The National - Exile Vilify single review

Videogames have come a long way since Pac-Man and the original Super Mario Brothers.  Today, videogames are immersive and compelling modes of storytelling, even sparking debates as to whether they can be considered works of art.  While modern games are no strangers to having big name composers create original music (Hollywood staple Hans Zimmer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, for instance), we haven't really seen popular music break into games (unless the music actually is the game, i.e. Guitar Hero).

Portal 2, the sequel to the massively popular first person shooter/puzzle game Portal, is slated to have a song written exclusively for the game by Ohio bred, indie rock sadgasm, The National.  A spokesperson for the band had this to say:

"After I met with Valve and learned about the intricacies and story line of the first Portal game, I knew The National's music would fit beautifully in the sequel. The National's raw and emotive music evokes the same visceral reactions from its listeners that Portal does from its players."

The song, "Exile Vilify", is a piano driven ballad that will sound familiar to fans of The National.  The track doesn't ever really make its mark, meandering about without a sense of direction or purpose.  It lacks the unrefined immediacy of the rest of The National's catalog, which strips away most of the emotion, leaving it to flip flop between verse and chorus with a whimper. 

Taken out of the context of the game, "Exile Vilify" may lose some of its potency, but realistically speaking, this one is reserved for fans of the game and die-hard collectors who have a compulsion to own everything The National has ever recorded.

The National - Exile Vilify by the beat farm

Yeasayer - End Blood EP review

Yeasayer released an EP (more like a single) consisting of two previously unreleased songs for Record Store Day back on April 16th.  The band had this to say:

"We are releasing these two tracks to purge our brains and make way for new sounds/ideas."

The two songs are called "Swallowing the Decibels" and "Phoenix Wind", both of which can be heard below.  Apparently these songs were written during the Odd Blood recording sessions, but were left unfinished, that is, until now.  Upon listening to the tracks, one can easily imagine them being included on Odd Blood.  Despite the similarity in sound, neither song is particularly interesting or strong in comparison, which may explain why they were left off in the first place.

"Swallowing the Decibels" is an eerie, slow burning song completely with the heavy electronic accents that came to define Odd Blood.  "Phoenix Wind" is like listening to Yeasayer underwater, or in slow motion.  The vocals undulate like a slow rolling tide against the backdrop of a lazily plucked guitar riff.  This release is a companion piece to Odd Blood (hence the title, End Blood), however at the same time it posies some questions about the direction Yeasayer may take in the future.  Their debut saw the band experimenting with world sounds and indie pop, whereas their second effort was more accessible and electronic.  Will Yeasayer further redefine their sound?  It remains to be seen.

Yeasayer - End Blood by Stereo/Pirate

Girls Names - Dead To Me review

The tough-to-Google Belfast band, Girls Names recently did an interview with Ragged Words in which lead singer, Cathal Cully, claimed that his band was the only one making "this sort of music" in Ireland.   He went on to say, "Seriously, to the masses of Belfast this is not cool music. Due to the internet now, though, geography isn’t as important any more, is it?"

I can't speak for the music scene in Ireland, but I have to disagree with Cully on the issue of the importance of geography.  No one may listen to the lo-fi noise pop Girls Names proudly tout as being unique and original in Ireland, but the fact of the matter is that people do listen to it stateside.  When every other band that comes out of Brooklyn is also a fuzzy, washed out version of the band who came before it, you're going to be in for some stiff competition.

The debut album from Girls Names, Dead To Me, is here and it's...adequate.  The band garnered some attention by signing to U.S. label/indie music haven Captured Tracks (home of the likes of Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, and a bunch of other bands that either formed or relocated to Brooklyn, NY), and even some kind words from Pitchfork.  The problem is that they sound just like Beach Fossils, et al.  Dead To Me is competent, but it is far from being interesting or unique.  In a genre that is so over saturated as it is, bands like Girls Names need to do something special in order to differentiate themselves from the crowd.

Unfortunately, Girls Names fail to do this.  Any of their songs could have easily appeared on a Crystal Stilts record and no one would be the wiser.  When your music is that interchangeable and virtually indistinct from your competitors it should be a red flag, but Girls Names seem oblivious to the fact that they are setting themselves up to be forgotten.  Cathal Cully's eerie croon and the scratchy, bedroom recorded guitars are indiscernible, with every song being buried underneath a hazy, muddiness that is meant to be passed off as atmosphere.  Instead, they only serve to obscure any subtle hooks or catchy melodies, effectively making every song a chore to listen to.  Granted, Girls Names are foreign and they came to the lo-fi noise pop rock party a little late, but its no excuse for being stale and unoriginal.

Girls Names - "I Lose" by Tough Love

Girls Names Dead To Me

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We Are Trees - Girlfriend EP review

Do you secretly wish that all of those lo-fi bands you love so much would start caring what their music sounded like and make clearer recordings?  Are you too timid to say so because you're afraid you'll tarnish your indie-cred?  Fear not, Virginia Beach band We Are Trees get you out of this precarious predicament by providing some much needed HI-fidelity recordings.

We Are Trees are made up of vocals/guitarist James Nee and percussionist Josiah Schlater (and occasional violinist Rocky Capizzi).  The comparison between Nee's vocals and Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen is almost impossible to ignore, but We Are Trees develop a natural sounding record all their own. The record is crisp and clear and you can pick out all of the instruments.  One can easily hear how the elements of the song come together organically in airy, yet sonically lush compositions.

There is a delicacy present in each one of the tracks on the Girlfriend EP (which comes hot off the heels of their Boyfriend EP), with songs like "Teenage Heartbreak" and "Colorado" perfectly balancing yearning, apprehension and elation.  While the lyrical content of the Girlfriend EP is familiar territory, We Are Trees manage to show off their range by bending genres in virtually every song.  "You" is a sugary sweet, finger-picked folk song, while the EP closer "I Don't Believe In Love" is a reverb drenched pop tune that will have you humming along with all of the "whooo ooohs" from the get go.

James Nee's vocals are sweet and captivating, while the arrangements and instrumentation are invigorating and fresh.  In a genre where so many bands either take the lo-fi, fuzzy-buzzy approach or try and shoehorn synths and keyboards into every track, We Are Trees go back to the basics with shimmering anthems that show off their impressive talent.

You can listen to all of the tracks on We Are Trees Boyfriend EP here.
You can listen to all of the tracks on We Are Trees Girlfriend EP here.

We Are Trees - I Don't Believe in Love by This Music Wins

We Are Trees Girlfriend EP