Friday, October 21, 2016

Bandcamp Weekly 10/15 - 10/21

Vombate - Outubro (Brazil)
Fake drums can have a time and place but when things are trying to be aggressive it absolutely takes a hard bite out of that. There are some decent moments here but at two songs and not a lot going on I'm hard pressed to be impressed. Especially when things get slow.. prog metal (65%)

Zen Haircut's - Flower Street *single* (Australia)
I pretty solid song with all the trappings of math pop..decently produced.. maybe a bit bass heavy but all in all if surrounded by some others showing a bit of diversity I would think this should shape up fantastic for this three piece. (75%)

Toy Maker - Boy King (British Columbia)
Its almost impossible to sift through the new class of emotional post-hardcore lite groups. Largely its a waste land of copy cats. Toy Maker from up north are a new band for me and one I hope to be seeing more of in the genre. Vocals are incredibly emotional and fitting for the music behind but wish it varied things up a bit.  Instrumentally things are pretty dynamic with the drums in particular enjoying some tastefully placed double kick and great hi-hat work. Guitars are suitably pretty and vary there approach from song to song but aren't necessarily adding to the lexicon.  Im on the fence with this one but feel like it executes largely on emotion and not needing to further the genre so I'd say that's a win. (77%)

The Littlest Viking - The Littlest Viking (California)
Number one... this album came out years ago.. I know. But it seems its being re-released in bandcamp form. Its a topic that I never really addressed and was an early disappointment in follow up albums for a few reasons. Its great to see a group that could have easily been pigeon holed step out and add some further aggressive and metal tinged elements to their sound. Unfortunately when it comes off sounding like more rip off and loses the charming melodic aspects of "Labor and Lust" it can be grounds for a bit of sadness. Sure there are some songs here that attempt the same but rarely reach. It looks like they are in the midst of recording a new one so only time will tell (77%)

Young Animals - Lo EP (Missouri)
Im fluctuating a bit on this one... the first song seemed to get mired in some tracking issues and off time disjointed blah blah but as this three track rolls on I am pretty dang darn impressed. engaging instrumental indie math with some pretty cool guitar work. I'd say if things got properlly cleaned up a bit we'd be in the money. (77%)

Meadow - Like Sleeping but Longer (Georgia)
This album felt like sleeping but longer to me actually so in that way.. large props.. but no seriously this is instrumentally sound. It however seems too far into the background and lacking in dynamics to really pull you in. To top it off the vocals are just not good.. im sorry, they are loud, droney and take a lot of attention away from the instruments that are struggling to pull through. (63%)

Candy - 7 Screams for 2 instruments (Czech Republic)
Progressive stabs in the dark by drum and bass can be a difficult thing to pull off. Not that its not displayed coherently here I just think that if things were framed a bit better.. more structural then we might have something to say. I understand its improv. I do. I just could find a lot to latch on to. (67%)

Luna the Wolf - Doing Nice Things for Others (California)
It wouldn't be a week without Luna as this cat (wolf..furry) is incredibly prolific and thats a positive quality for sure. Sort of a slow core vibe on the first with some addition of decent enough vocals but wish they were a little more powerful. Really its a shame they dont carry out through the rest of this release because that would have made for something truly compelling. (70%)

Into My Plastic Bones - A Symbolic Tennis Pot (Italy)
3 piece post punk group that has a pretty cool sound over-all and injects in some throw back emo-math vibes as well. Capable vocals round out the event. Riffs unfortunately don't provide a lot of interest but they do occasionally make things work well enough. A bit lacking in punch and identity but I would say I enjoyed it for the most part without it being too remarkable in any specific way. (74%)

Calendar Year - Jaded, Apathetic, With No Hope for The Future! (New York)
Indie pop emo rock that plays it comfortably. Energetic vocals sure but neither instrument seems to want to step out. I agree there are things to like but it is too mired in reverence for my blood to really get into.  There are a ton of bands travelling in this genre these days and more effort needs to be placed to stand out. Passing grade (65%)

Empire-Builder - Water of the Orient EP (Glasgow)
We dont often see a lot early 90's influenced groups traveling about these days so its nice to see a group really showing their roots. It becomes pretty clear however ... and pretty soon in that this sticks a bit too close to their parents. To say that this group is influenced by Slint would be an understatement. Many of the chordal choices.. poetic speaking vocals.. rhythms..structures all smack of the late 80's early 90's god fathers. The final track does try and distance itself a bit but not far enough. (67%)

Benjamin Fraser - Cage (Illinois)
Enjoyed but again not altogether understanding the tag of math rock. Pretty pleasant and inoffensive finger picked folk music. I wasn't thrilled with the additional instrumentation that manages to poke in and out of the songs. Parts trial off and generally fail to add anything additional to the compositions. Would have enjoyed more just solo guitar (63%)

....yet we also have Ben's second EP posted as well Home that has much tighter and varied instrumentation. Also it turns out Ben has a pretty fantastic voice.. unsure why he saved it for his second release but we all have out reasons. It adds some depth and character that was lacking from Cage. I will concede as well that some "math like" elements creep in however brief. If Ben expanded on these ideas more he'd have one heck of an album on his hands. (74%)

After Long Thought - Chemisterie (France)
Kraut rock has never been something ive been able to latch onto or identify much with. I will say though that when a bit of the math flavor is brought in that the results can be incredibly interesting. I suppose thats where we find ourselves with this 3 piece unit here. The drums do try to keep things as dynamic as possible but I feel again that the repetition just is a bit unneeded. If things could be mixed up and cut down I think we'd be in a better place. (76%)

Vasa - Burst "from 7" Burst Open" (Glasgow)
A 7 inch follow up to last years crushing offering from Glasgow's energetic mathy post rockers Vasa. We are treated to one cut off this and it appears we still have nothing to fear as this is as punchy as any of the groups previous rippers. Will look forward to see what is rounding out this release soon.

N. Penston - Music is a Dead Scene (Upstate NY)
I'm assuming the album title is snatched partially from one of my favorite Dillinger albums "Irony is a Dead Scene" which if thats any indication means we are in for something special. Which at release number 3 and a personal favorite of mine we are treated again to a very unique take on the math and folk genres respectively. I would equate it to if a folk band suddenly had their world view changed and decided to play mathy prog rock while still holding true to the etiquette of a folk troupe.  Troupe may be a bit misleading however as this is largely the work of one individual. Each song carries its own emotional weight to great effect and as Mr. Penston likes to remind us "no electronic instruments were used in the recording of this album" which to me is positively refreshing in an age that even the most organic works have something thrown in. The balance of more contemplative folk breaks and energetic math is perhaps best showcased in the fantastic "Nascent Fruit Inevitable". It's been my firm belief for a few years now that this is an artist that truly should be grabbing much more attention in the space as an original voice not just for the genre but for music in general. Please do not sleep on this album and visit his past output as it is just as rewarding as this album. (91%)

Jardín de la Croix - Circadia (Spain)
I have followed Jardin for many years now and watched their progression from more of a post-rock indie math prog group to a slightly more conventional post-metal prog outfit. I am all for changes.. dont get me wrong but last album "187 Steps to cross the Universe" was a definitive turning point albeit an exciting one. Circadia find them seemingly trying to bridge this gap of old and new versions and coming out... well... alright I guess? Technically this is a group that holds few equals in the space but on more high energy rockers here to me come off as a bit tired. When Jardin take a moment to really slow things down it gives the chances for the guitars to breath a bit and we get some very cool dual guitar work and drums. This is truly where this group hits its stride such as on songs like "Reversion" Other additions are an inclusion to several songs of the piano which sometimes comes off as a little hammy. Overall an impressive effort yet once I view as a half step back from 2013's "187 Steps to cross the Universe" (78%)

Ap0llonius AbRaham ScHwarz - (Switzerland)
This improv jazz three piece melds dark prog and math elements in this incredibly impressive output. Having saxophone to round out the low end in place of bass guitar certainly adds to compositions in a compelling way. Guitar seems to be the one here pushing the progressive tendencies as the lead in this group and thats a solid way of handling. Drumming is at times dazzlingly complex but when the music calls for something more brooding and atmospheric we get the needed restraint to pull back and be a solid spine for the trio. The trick with an improv group is having compelling places to go with the ability to generate on the fly new sounds and in this way its a total win for me. Songs are surprisingly varied in tone, and approach with flourishes and surprising rhythmic stabs only adding to the longevity of this. ( 83%)

Gabriel Hibert - Abducté (France)
Eerie... industrial.. mechanical yet brimming with bombast and emotion we have a release from
Gabriel Hibert that bridges some gaps in an area that is not altogether common. At its heart this is very much ambient experimental ism yet.. almost at the same time a high energy post rock epic. The balance that the two hold for the entirety of the album is astounding really. You'll be automatically pulled into the soundscapes that are laid out before you and convincingly pummeled by some pretty damn incredible kit work. One without the other and this wouldn't be close to as compelling but thankfully you are free to focus on the shifting tones or become wrapped up in the schizophrenic drum licks. Sometimes it bares a marked resemblance to some math focused electronic groups like Three Trapped Tigers but I'd say much more concerned with the body of the piece that moving toward any sort of resolution. Thats not to say anything about this is stiff or tired.. this is a truly unique piece and one that I am beyond excited to have stumbled on to. ( 85% )

Recreational Drugs - A Song For Quaaludes LP Demo (Illiniois)
Its hard for me to communicate how important the explosion of of hallowed math group Loose Lips Sink Ships has been for genre. Whether that's legitimizing jazz as a whole in Renaissance Sound or Monobody or in the case of Matthew Frank.. playing in 700 amazing bands one of which being the emo math power trio Their / They're / There... I digress. In any group Matt finds himself in he always manages to surround himself with incredible musicians. Members of Merit Badge, The Zero Years form a Voltron beast for this new single. Its a little bit post rock but mostly emo math that Frank tends to tred in with most of his groups. This is not something to slouch on at all.. trust. That riff at 38 seconds in? Youve got to be joking my bones. (83%)

Find Yourself - Intimacy (California)
I love.. love.. love.. love running into a band for a second time and finding that they have grown into something so wonderful between releases. That is not to say that their past EP was bad.. by no means but it was clearly a band finding their place and sound. So here we are..a kiss of ambient space rock nestles itself inside a dynamically shifting math rock machine. Guitars interlock into some very impressive riffage while transitioning into ever catchier and emotional portions. Its also important to note the details. During slower portions we get a lot fantastic ambiance built for example the glitch guitar fade in "" The speed is a significant addition to their sound as most of the time this group prefers to be hitting mach 11 with some disgustingly inhuman drumming. While impressive you really get to see truer colors once things downshift and you get a feeling for a lot of the ambient layers these guys are swinging about. Also a chance to really appreciate some deliciously tasteful bass work whether running up and down lines or locking into the drums during a freak out. Each song carries its own flow while staying true to its message of emotional connectivity (I think). Its clear even from song one.. this is a mission statement that hits you hard in the chest with explosive drums leaving you no doubt that this is an album to take note of and a band we should all be talking about at our next bake sale. (90%)

Science Against Spheric Silence - Layers (France)
A sophomore effort from this Post-math group that seems to have a large love for ASIWYFA in their play style. These guys choose a more contemplative sound more than their influences and it comes out mostly working in their favor. A lot of genuinely cool moments here but they do seem to be spread out unfortunately. Riff's are what you would expect for the genre without a lot of standouts. Where SASS shine are in the moments when they are laying down high energy dual guitar work ramping up aggression which is thankfully often on this album.  Slower moments...well they are unfortunately less engaging and may have benefited from even a slight bump in speed. Nit picky comments truly but overall well worth the time and effort to see a band beginning to hit their stride. (76%)

Cloud Unconscious - The Contour EP and Contours(Washington DC)
There is often music that could only be made by that unique in its set up and execution that you can help but smile as music like this is rarely this honest. synthesizing acoustic guitar emo post hardcore diddies with fake drums and earnest vocals doesn't sound like the recipe for a unique take but I can assure you 20 seconds in and you will be sucked in. Riffs are charming and borrow equal parts from indie rock as folk and singer songwriter. Melodies are often unique and double tracked with interesting harmonies thrown in. The fact that this is all done on an IPad is obviously but really adds to the how carefully constructed this all is. At any moment things could fall apart but until then enjoy. Lyrics can be a bit cloying at times but it never really takes away from the songs. Each song holds its own identity while creating something new each time. If you are looking for something inventive... look no further. (84%)

Nexus Canvas - Hivelord EP (New York)
There's more than a few things I want to say about this groups first release.. which seems to be a bit of theme here this week.
Firstly.. there are plenty of bands that try to pull the "eerie/odd" vibe especially in metal. Groups tend to veer too far one way or another. What I'm consistently impressed with through this entire EP is the achievement of this in each song.. a great balance of experimental oddity without compromising their aggressive post-metal /prog meets 90's hardcore. but wait.. take that and blend it with some dark math metal and you might be getting closer to the end product. Vocals really up the game as well with their versatile nature. Whether screaming, crooning, singing, or flipping out they really sound fantastic and add so much to the already killer instrumentals. Sure there are groups traveling in this area but to execute what amounts to something I'd expect from a critically acclaimed 4th release (and from a national group no less) this is just down right beautiful work here that everyone should find at least a few things to enjoy from this group. (88%)

Race to your Face - Feed Me Wizards, Please (Australia)
My my my.. have we been waiting honestly 2012 for a proper release from this excellent two piece? I suppose we have but if it takes that amount of gestation to pull off something this well constructed then so be it. This instrumental post math duo lays out dynamically shifting pieces that really showcase the structural care that goes along with these songs. Looping can be a messy business especially when there is nothing to obscure the focus. You'd be hard pressed to be able to even tell this was the work of two individuals. That is a testament to engaging writing as well as a drummer that can whip up a lick and carry it for a bar or provide longevity in something more concrete. These cats should be one to check out if you are unfamiliar. A lot of duo's are happy to fill their sound with bass heavy aggressive riffing to fill out sound but this is simply not the case here. Some very lovely tapping parts and in 2016 for me to say there is "tapping" that remains interesting and flavorful is a feat unto itself. ( 81%)

Totorro - Come to Mexico (France)
In what might be one of the most clamored for album this week we have the almighty Totorro. In keeping with their style we have again an effortless collection of songs that call to mind great math rock and math pop groups alike. Instrumentally its how things fit together and structurally flow from one part to another in line. Truthfully for me these guys secret weapon is that drummer.. and by god does he deliver. So lets get in the weeds a bit.. there is not a lot to latch onto and walk away with... a minor gripe. More technically impressive than previous release Home Alone? yea I would say for sure. Having only one time through I may have to edit my feelings on this but for the moment still an incredible album and continues to prove why nearly everyone agrees that these guys are among the best. (89%)

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