Saturday, July 2, 2011

Time of Orchids - Namesake Caution (2007)

There is some division here at The Swords over this group, but I'm here to say while not a large fan of past releases 2007's Namesake Caution has some honest to Christmas amazing songs going on. Time of Orchids during their....time were a group very in love with classic prog rock and putting a modern day spin on it. Guitar's play off key melodies as much as they play catchy progressions but they are usually always met with the opposite vocal treatment. Vocals are very often layered with odd harmonies on top but its a technique that works and really gives it that throwback progressive sound. Its a balanced way of carrying out their songs and even a few times the two end up meeting for some actual moments of melodic harmony. Things do tend to get a bit technical but it never sounds ends up sounding academic.  With most things progressive though without proper song structure things can fall into the indulgent rather quickly with nothing to hold you. There are plenty of intelligent twists and turns to keep you engaged thankfully. I can not however say these guys are for everyone. Just something you'll have to figure out on your own. You know where I stand at least.

Namesake Caution (2007)

Polvo - Today's Active Lifestyles (1995)

Lets get this straight first and for most, Polvo did not invent math rock. If you really want to get into it a strong argument could be made for Bastro's 1989 album Diablo Guapo. Consider that Polvo formed in 1990 and the above mentioned argument is dead, I digress. This does not take away the fact that of the 90's Polvo remained one of the most creative and engaging indie rock/experimental bands around. oddly enough they were constantly compared to Sonic Youth which I find to be a rather large error in thought. What you can expect is the heart of an indie rock band, powerful eastern influenced angular guitars, inspired rhythmic song structures and some really tasteful vocals. As luck would have it Polvo also recently reformed and released new material, 2009's In Prism. With adding more progressive elements to the mix, Polvo has been surprisingly relevant in the 2000's. With many releases under their belts my personal favorite has always been Todays Active Lifestyles. It strikes a balance between their experimental side and their eastern leaning influences. While many groups of today draw inspiration from  them there are very very few groups that actually sound like them. I'd say The Joggers being one of the only in my approximation. (there are Joggers songs that actually lift entire chord progressions from them) If your unfamiliar or even if you have heard a couple times sit down and give them a hard listen. Its in your best interest.

Todays Active Lifestyles

In Prism

Cor Crain Secret

Exploded Drawing

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (2011)

This is the most jaw-dropping piece of musical genius I've heard in a long time.

Colin Stetson is an explosive saxophone soloist. And by this I don't mean that he rips sick licks while some funky jazz band lays it down. I mean that Colin Stetson plus one saxophone is all you need for a completely enveloping musical experience.

Colin Stetson uses an array of saxophone tones, screams, hums, vocalizations, key clicks, and magic to create a densely-layered steamroller of sound. For this record, his performance was captured by a total of 24 microphones, allowing each subtle sound to be EQ'd and mixed independently. This gives the record an incredibly rich, full sound with thumping bass and rich throaty highs. The record sounds fuller than most full bands.

Stetson is joined on a few tracks by female vocals, spoken word by Laurie Anderson, and a french horn interlude. The accompaniments are sparse, and the emphasis is really on his otherworldly saxophone performance.

The best part about this record? It is tasteful, intelligent, engaging, and fun. This guy has played sax for everyone (Bon Iver, The National, Tom Waits, The Arcade Fire, G!YBE, etc. etc. etc.) and its awesome that he has stepped out to create such an awesome record on his own.

Fill yr ears with this record HERE.

And in case you need to see to believe, skip to 2:15 below (or watch the whole thing).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Drummers - Self-Titled (2011)

With a name like "Drummers," you might expect a sound with more than one drummer, guitarists who play their instruments percussively, or some jaw-dropping stick work. Although none of this is evident on Drummers' debut LP, it is a pretty solid post-hardcore/post-punk/screamo/whateverthekidsarecallingitthesedays effort. Guitars jangle, crunch, and drive throughout, punctuated by rich screamo vocals. The production has an interesting gritty quality that works pretty well stylistically. Drummers are at their best playing catchy, rhythmically interesting music. Some of the deeper cuts are clunkers, but some uninspired chugging and failed experiments are to be expected with any fledgling band's debut. Looking forward to more from these guys.

Drummers' self-titled debut is available to download for free at their Bandcamp.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Enablers - Blown Realms and Stalled Explosions

Now this is a real treat in my opinion. You don't see nearly enough dark math rock like this these days. So if your familiar with the OG's such as June of 44, Slint, Rodan, Shipping News then you can certainly start getting a head on what these gents sound like. But instead of recycled riffs you are served with a heaping portion of dark and strange chords thats cut at an angle just for you. If it ended with just the music I would be A-Ok with that. Thankfully we have Pete Simonelli on vox to complete this incredible package. Pete lays down the spoken word blitzkrieg, slinking through the labyrinthine guitar lines and actually producing some truly great poetry from what I was able to suss out.  May not be for everyone (If you dont like it your the suck) but its a great update on a style laid down years ago.


Blown Realms and Stalled Explosions