Friday, April 1, 2011

Colour - Unicorns (ep)

Colour is a now defunct group from England that very much likes their math with a liberal sprinkling of pop rock and there is no shame in that game. Parts of the group have now reformed into a band called Tangled Hair, who are pretty similar and cool in their own respect. Any who, upon breaking up the group released an Anthology of there songs for all to enjoy. To tell you the truth though there are only a couple songs on that worth anyones time (many would disagree) Their Unicorns EP is short at three songs but packs everything that makes them so damn good into em. This group can play fast and technical while still remaining highly catchy.  The first song Unicorns is packed with tightly wound upstroke riffs with some nice time changes. Well worth the eight and a half minutes it takes to plow through it.

Unicorns (ep)

Agent Fresco - Lightbulb Universe

Icelandic 4 piece that issues forth alternative math pop metal.  I guess they won a bunch of awards in their native land which is cool because yes they are pretty awesome. As you can guess you've prolly heard similar things musically but its done well enough. The vocals however are what helps Fresco nudge the bar of awesome. The best way to say it is the vocals are almost operatic and soaring. Not in an obnoxious way but just extremely controlled and clearly trained in some respect. CCCCCCHHHH eck it!

Lightbulb Universe

Max Tundra

Max Tundra, is an interesting case. You can tell that there is a lot of love for a lot of different genres going here. Much hubbub has been made about him using a bunch of vintage recording equipment to make these dense electro pop pieces.  Speaking of pop, he is a man very much in love with pop culture as well, it can get a bit corny. As this might start to sound a bit odd at times...yea it can be but you can tell its honest work.  The drum programming is what impresses me most about all of Max's albums, it is dense and schizophrenic.  He has an incredible ear for rhythm which is what 9 times out of 10 is lacking from similar artists. Flirtations with 8 bit music in the past are now brought more to the front showcased in their own songs. Vintage synths rule his songs along with heartfelt vocals.

parallax error beheads you

This Music Moment-2007

Im not sure the exact date of the adventure that lead to this music moment, but at some point in the past, Metaghost and I packed our shit up and took the 6 hour drive to Ithaca college where we were to jam out with our good friend Stewie. Acerola was a friend of stewies, and we had met before on a few prior visits to the school. Stewies jam space was a garage next to a huge house where a bunch of film students lived, and one night we just jammed our hearts out, from about 6pm until at least 11. Endless jamming, practicing, recording our improvisations. Such fun stuff, but by the end of this marathon we were pooped and decided to take a break and check out what was going on in the house. We walked into the living room, where a party of about 11 people were gathered around a TV watching some music i had never heard before. Right as we walked in the room, this nice song started. It was a strange moment; everyone in the room knew what was starting, and were so excited that they all started dancing in their seats, or getting up to dance. I just walked a bit closer to the screen and for the first time heard The Talking Heads perform This Must Be the Place, from Stop Making Sense, their ultimate tour album/ video directed by brian de palma at the height of their game.

I had known nothing of Talking Heads, or this concert in particular, until this moment. Looking back at how i approached their discography, it was a great point to start at; I got Stop Making Sense, loved it immensely and then went right back to their debut album, buying another album of theirs chronologically until i wound back up at Stop Making Sense. I could go into great detail about what this concert meant for the band, and how wonderfully their band had grown- creatively and physically- as they gained momentum. Maybe, in another post.

stop making sense

Bloc Party

Before i discovered Ra Ra Riot, i had been searching around desperately for another band to satisfy me as much as Bloc Partys first two albums did. I listened to a lot of shit in this time period, testing the waters of the genre with more mainstream, crappy stuff- The Editors and The Cribs come to mind; i still havent checked out The Killers beyond their singles, but they never really did it for me anyway.

Bloc Party was another purchase i made on a whim. A roommate of mine was heading out shopping and i wanted to tag along and grab some new music, so i quickly checked the Onion AV clubs record reviews, and the best reviewed album of that week happened to be A Weekend in the City. Unknown to me, Bloc Party was delivering a second album after being very well received after their debut. Where Silent Alarm was a minor-keyed pop rock album, it was still very easy to dance to and full of great hooks. Like Eating Glass opens the album and is one of their strongest tracks. It builds so well, and those drums are just bombastic.

But A Weekend in the City just got darker and more creative, adding in deeper studio work while using the 4 piece band to its fullest potential. The lyrical content got much more defeated and scared, second guessing the places they were in their lives and clinging to hope, yet the melodies of the verses and hooks that the singer uses are all very unique and dynamic. It was the strength of the band around these unique vocals that instantly drew me to them.

I Still Remember is probably the most friendly from A Weekend at the City, but it is also just a powerhouse example of how well these guys could write a pop song. The album adds a lot more electronics that were nonexistent on their debut, but I Still Remember is just the band alone, writing a nice love song with a great beat.

silent alarm
a weekend in the city

Bonus Track: two more years, a single the wrote between the two albums.

Final Fantasy-This Modern Love

Still on the subject of Bloc Party, this is a really really cool cover of a song of theirs from Silent Alarm performed by the very talented Owen Pallett. Dude is a very talented musician, but his live covers are what kill me the most. He goes simple, just a guy with a violin and a RC50 loop station, building loops on the spot easily and flawlessly. His covers are all great; if you dig this i suggest checking Peach Plum Pear, a joanna newsom song he does great justice to. I wanted to post that, but this is equally as badass and a bit more relevant. Its also a great Bloc Party track.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ra Ra Riot

Metaghost showed me an artist named Wes a while ago, a friend he had met while on a semester abroad in japan. Wes was writing some cool music and had a band back home in Syracuse NY. Metaghost shared his myspace with me in an email from japan; the page was full of cool demos that went on to become parts of various songs in Ra Ra Riot. The best example is track at the top of his myspace (which to my surprise still exists). It is his demo version of Can You Tell. Check it here at his myspace:

johnny six pack

When Wes returned home from japan, he got right to work with his band and they released The Rhumb Line. He had a sweet group of musicians waiting for him in Syracuse. Ra Ra Riot is a six piece band; bass drums guitar, a violin and a cello, and Wes. They were the right group to flesh out the great things Wes was writing, and their input changed everything into one tight math pop outfit. The guitar bass and drum mostly hold things down tight rhythmically, but the strings add such great contrastingly rhythmic harmonies to the rest of the song that a great depth appears in their pop sensibilities. Here is the Ra Ra Riot studio version of Can You Tell, from The Rhumb Line. I highly recommend you hear Wes' version of Can You Tell before watching this video, just to note how the song changed with the ideas of the rest of his bandmates.

The Rhumb Line doesnt let up; the are some quieter moments, and some very catchy tracks, and the entire album is so well arranged. This is from The Rhumb Line, another standout track, Oh, La.
Oh, La

After The Rhumb Line blew up and they were launched into the music business, they rented a nice house in an apple orchard to record their follow up. The seclusion did them well. Although the formula did not change in their sophomore effort, they carried on quite well after the devastating loss of their drummer John Pike after he drown while on tour for the Rhumb Line. John Pike has been missed greatly, but the band has only grown closer with his passing, and continue to make great tracks like Shadowcasting, off The Orchard.

the rhumb line
the orchard

This Music Moment- Billie Jean

Recently i had a strange series of events that lead to me finally hearing one of the most popular, badass songs of all time. I honestly dont know how this song escaped me for so long; after debating for many hours with friends about how my life could have neglected this song from my ears, i remembered that growing up, the only time my family really listened to music was while we were taking long drives on weekends, listening to Oldies 103 in boston, which played hits from the 50s through the 70s. I remember and love this music fondly; the beatles, the stones, the beach boys.. the zombies, simon and garfunkle, crosby stills and nash.. but the 80s music scene was completely ignored in my parents musical taste. I still find songs these days that i have known vaguely before, but finally come to catagorize in ways like "oh, THIS is talking heads?!". For the most part, excluding the BIGGEST hits from the 80s, i am a complete music novice.

All that said, this track by the biggest name in music history had eluded me.

So as it goes, one day i was surfing some random videos online and decided to watch some Tim and Eric. In particular, i was watching all of the clips of James Quall that they had. This guys is so ridiculous. So i stumbled upon this one clip of him doing his rendition of Billie Jean by michael jackson. The embedding link isnt working here, so this is the direct link to the clip.

james quall-billie jean

After watching that, i realized that i didnt know how the actual melody for Billie Jean sounded. So i decided to look up Billie Jean on youtube and found this.

This is probably the best performance of the most popular song of all time. Which is insanity to comprehend; it has sold twice as much as the 2nd highest selling album of all time; it is one of the best tracks off the album that catapulted michael jackson to superstardom; it is quincy jones working at the top of his game. I didnt know shit about any of this until i heard this track, started some historic digging, and purchased Thriller. He was pop music at the end of disco, making dancing incredibly melodic and catchy beyond belief.

As a side note, since buying and absorbing Thriller, i have fallen in love with a lesser known track, track two, Baby Be Mine. Its just pop brilliance. The backup vocals during the chorus, and how they expand throughout the song are so fucking tight.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Fall of Troy

My first year of college in 2004 found me stumbling on this very very young band, The Fall of Troy. Word was spreading quickly among a couple blogs that these boys had some ass ripping post-hardcore laid down, they were not joking even in the slightest. Fast forward to 2011 and they are all but a house hold name.  This is of course deservedly so. If post-hardcore is your bag then i highly suggest them. Honestly though if you haven't heard of/checked them out its possible your living under a rock.