Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times

Many of you unfamiliar with this very excellent "metal" band may read my description of them and be completely put off, I know I was before I had heard them. The best way to say it is at the base of it all is metal, this is really only a frame work. Everything they do is also theatrical but not in the way that your watching show tunes but in that it kicks ass. Bundled with them are many progressive elements such as time changes, art rock style guitar chords and home made instruments.   When I saw them play two years ago one of the members was playing a "sledge hammer dulcimer" which was made by him, extremely impressive.They are one of the most engaging acts I have ever seen.  Not to mention one of the nicest bands I have ever talked to. They have many excellent releases but I am showcasing "In Glorious Times" because of its overly progressive tendencies and more abrasive nature.  I cant see many not being very into these guys (and gal :)

In Glorious Times

Friday, April 8, 2011

This Music Moment-2010

Its rare in your life to find artists you began listening to at both the beginning of your life in music, but also in the commercial life of an upcoming band. I can only recall my experience with the various works of the people associated with Gruvis Malt; Jonny Classic is a great album, done by Brendan who was on lead vocal in gruvis; ebu gogo, which formed from the culmination of gruvis; and gavin castleton, and his crazy prolific portfolio. After Gruvis' 3rd album, ..With The Spirit of a Traffic Jam, i began to pick up on some solo projects that Gavin was working on outside of Gruvis. It was some nice stuff; although i didnt dig his solo hip hop albums as much as work such as his experimental electro album Hypotenuse, his work ethic and dedication to the world of music pushed all of his capabilities forward, and he started to release EPs such as Hospital Hymns that dove into completely unexpected genres that gavin was apparently very proficient in.

His standout solo effort, Home, came out in 2009, and it was a perfect advancement of his creativity in a large range of fields. Although it is unrelated to what i set out to post, his song Coffee Locks comes to mind as a song i must share. It starts out classic motown, with the awesome arpeggiated guitar work melding into some very well arranged strings and vocals, and it just escalates from there. The vocal enters, harmonies and instrumentation expands, and in typical gavin style, he brings the track into many unique sections that work so beautifully well in arrangement and fluidity.

Beautiful stuff. Knowing him as first the keyboardist/ backup vocalist for Gruvis, it has been an exciting ride to listen along with his musicial progression.

That brings me to his rendition of Sledgehammer, by Peter Gabriel. This is a video to watch both with headphones and also fullscreened. Gavin began working with live looping at some point in his musical madness, and as a keyboardist with a modern laptop and recording program, gavin had found ways to patch in all the instruments needed to create a fully orchestrated pop song, and on top of those elements, add in his skills at beatboxing and building rhythm sections. His abilities to play incredible, mathematically complicated keyboard lines while singing is unheard of; this is a video of flawless execution. I get lost in that small frame in the upper right hand of the video, that lists all of the loops he is adding, or effects being applied, all with preassigned foot switches and looping tracks. Everything about this is perfect, and i still have not witnessed an equal demonstration of precision and execution that one man utilizes alone.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Talons - Hollow Realm

Im not sure why but these young gents from England took me a couple try's....not sure why it took me so long but now I cant seem to get their new release out of my head. This is almost a perfect marriage between post-hardcore and post-rock with the added benefit of some nice string work. As with many items in my musical library they do add some nice tapping math rock elements in for good measure as well. Rarely is there a dull moment here with every instrument pummeling their way through like some imaginary race, really some exciting stuff. Structure wise may just be the most impressive things about the group with some fairly inventive break downs (not to mention surprisingly brutal). Please everyone needs this now.

Hollow Realm

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Miike Snow

In doing some listening a few minutes ago for the Starfucker post, i was quickly reminded of Miike Snow in how a bunch of their tracks share great sounding rhythms throughout their separate bands. I found them while i was doing some youtube surfing on some Passion Pit, and a video came up where i remembered the band name, again, from reading a positive review of their album in the AV Club. Black and Blue was the first song or video of theirs that i found. Its a great sounding track; the production is amazing. Miike Snow is a three piece band, two of which are a production team called Bloodshy and Avant. They are a heavy duty production duo, working on lots of big mainstream bands, but in 2004 they met their singer Andrew Wyatt and started work as Miike Snow, using original tunes sculpted the way they saw fit. Black and Blue is a showpiece:

It starts nice and simple, with great piano and drums sparsely dotting around the vocal melody. Then that bass comes in in the chorus and they start the crescendo of electronica they provide through the rest of the track. The bass takes centerpiece for a majority of the rest of the verse and choruses, until the instrumental section breaks and a wider electronic arrangement comes in. And its needless to say how awesome the vocals are throughout. Great video too, i love that mannequin and machine made band the old dude has constructed in his apartment, and the revelation of it is a really great moment.

The album has a few duds, but for the most part it is very enjoyable. At this point, i do skip forward to a choice 4-5 tracks when i listen, but i am constantly reminded of other tracks when i decide to see what is next. It is easy to want to just press play and let the album go after they offer such a strong opening track in Animal.
Mike Snow - Animal by downtownmusic

miike snow


I've known Starfucker for a few years, from a few singles and random times of remembering their name and finding youtube tracks of theirs. Again, before a recent trip to Newbury Comics, i was checking The Onion AV Club for music reviews and saw their name with a very good grade next to it, so i picked up Reptilians. Its nice electropop with a breezy, summertime dance party feel. They write tight little pop tracks with great vocals and intricate, interesting instrumentation. The first song of theirs that I remember was from their self titled album; the song went on to being used in a car commercial. Must have been pretty silly, being a band called Starfucker and having a big company want to use one of your songs. But who could deny the commercial wonder of this track; its simple beat, lovely vocals and polyrhythmic panned guitars and bass are just so damn smooth and tight.

There is a great variety of stuff on both of their releases; having just gotten into them, that makes it a bit harder to absorb it all, but i have been digging it all. Its very nice stuff.

Bloc Party-Banquet

A little more Bloc Party action for you guys, one of the singles from Silent Alarm. Again, using cool ways of spreading rhythm throughout a band in a pop song is always nice; although its a bit simple in the verses, its has a nice bounce to it, clearly defining the roles of all the musicians in the track and building into a sweet chorus.

The Left Rights- Im On Crack

A friend showed this to me the other day; holy moley. I love how great the video is, there is obviously a lot of time and effort going into the visual trickery for a track called Im On Crack. But those freeze frames kill me. I love that first one with all the 70s stars and the font. Having a Tupac impersonator as your main character is also a huge plus.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Last Known Recording of an Unknown Band

In honor of young Teagan's birthdate, I thought I'd share what turned out to be the final recording of the band the four of us here at Plenty of Swords once played in.

Pyramid Power (Demo) by Carved in Clouds

May she be blessed with Pyramid Power!

Tortoise - TNT

When this album dropped in front of my lap many years ago I remember the sort music mode I was in.  Just starting to realize the potential of genre's that I once thought "dead".  If there is one thing I have learned from listening to so much music through my life is that no genre is "dead".  But there was Jazz laid in front of me.  I could never break in no matter how hard I tried, that was until Tortoise.  Granted they do not travel specifically in straight Jazz it is certainly....... Jazzed up a bit with Electronic, dub and post rock elements.  This Chicago mega group had such a crazy streak of releases and then they drop TNT.  In my approximation they are at the height of the powers here, perfectly blending elements into something emotional, complex and most importantly fun.  A lot of Tortoise's miss hits as far as from an album stand point is missing the fun. I have Tortoise to thank for opening my eyes to the potential of jazz.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dakota/Dakota - Shoot in the Dark

These gentlemen may not be familiar to you with this name but perhaps with the name Russian Circles? Well truth be told both guitarist and bassist went on to form that better known post metal group. I've always found there sound to be a little uninspired but they have their moments. That is not to say that Dakota/Dakota travel in high creativity. They sound a little like a more structured post rock don cab.  Its some good stuff and a couple very stand out tracks are showcased. If this was developed a bit more I would give it some bigger props but certainly on its own  its a great math rock piece. 

Musical Mathematics - First Time's a Charm

This very excellent comp. is making its way through the inter webs rather quickly. Brought to you and yours by  Leed's based alternative music  facebook  group.  Featuring twenty one excellent songs from semi-established or up and coming artists (a lot of them math rock based) Definitely some things I had yet to have been made aware of. Very nice indeed.

bandcamp download

Max Tundra-Which Song

Just wanted to bump Acerolas post for Max Tundra, because i have been digging it so much. I cant believe these motherfuckers hid this shit from me for so long; this is so completely up my alley it is ridiculous. The styles and instruments that this dude assembles are so great; he has a keen eye for pop, but beneath his catchy melodies, the man is a serious programmer and knows how to create nostalgic electronica with fine detail.

I want to share track 3 from Parallax Error Beheads You for a few reasons; it demonstrates both his abilities in his production and his growth vocally. Throughout the song, the bouncy electronic band behind the vocals dives in and out of providing first bare chord structures behind the vocals to then harmonizing with them in very unexpected, mathematic arpeggios. I love how, throughout this album, songs move into extended instrumental sections that ride out or build into a fantastic chorus after a minute or two. In this example, the ending of the track happens to be the extended instrumental section, but the album is cut in a flow that sometimes makes it hard to differentiate one song from another. The track following Which Song picks up right where it leaves off.

Cystal Castles

Max Tundra has reminded me to share another band, Crystal Castles. They are a duo working in a lot classic 80s synth sounds and experimental, sometimes abrasive vocals. They keep it poppy and simple, but they display a nice depth in their production. This instrumental track is a good representation of their influences.

crystal castles