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