After a brief hiatus, I’ve returned to cover a few records that came out at the end of last year and also to celebrate something very special. And it is because this occasion is so special that I’ve prepared a speech:
Our first year online [pause for applause] Thank you for reading last year, now and in the future. You are the stars [pause for applause] Yes, one year is a long time, but my love for you all will never die [pause for applause] Thank you. Its because of your readership and support that have made last year such a Violent Success [pause for applause] You’re too kind. But seriously, thanks to my dozens of subscribers and friends who have made writing about music such an awesome experience. Thank you [fade out applause]
And now, the music.
Wild Nothing: Golden Haze– With a sound that echoes of 80s brit-pop like The Mighty Lemon Drops mixed with electro minimalists, The Radio Dept., Wild Nothing continue to create modernized new wave. Golden Haze follows up their debut LP, Gemini, and despite both records coming out in the same year actually significantly improves in that time. From start to finish, Golden Haze sets a standard and maintains it to its brief, but beautiful end. Don’t miss this… 9.6/10
Medications: Completely Removed– As a fan of Faraquet, from the moment I heard that the core members of that band were breaking off to form this band, it was a no-brainer to automatically switch my loyalties. Unfortunately, Medications left most of what I loved behind with Faraquet. Their first 2 records, which subsequently improved over time, left me wanting of what had once been. Completely Removed is finally a happy medium in the ever-changing sound of Medications with a couple of new twists. The occasional use of horns express nods to bands like Supergrass while still maintaining a consistent math rock tone throughout. Overall, this remains upbeat math rock in the vein of their former selves as well as possible echoes to future records… 8.8/10
Tristeza: Paisajes– Ever since Tristeza began in 1999, they’ve established a distinct instrumental rock sound that remains one of the more interesting instrumental acts that have stood the test of time. Every 2 years or so, they’ve consistently released a record to limited fanfare and stunned on one level or another every time. Their most stunning record was to come in 2005 with the release of A Colores. Since that time, they’ve released 2 albums that haven’t lived up to their former greatness, let alone their 2005 masterpiece. When I found out that this was coming out, you could imagine my lack of elation. But sometimes a lack of enthusiasm can bring unexpected joy especially once I heard this record. Paisajes is not only Tristeza’s best record in 5 years, its quite possibly the best instrumental record of last year. It really sounds like they were writing instinctually this time around. The echoes of guitar arpeggios reminded me of Spine And Sensory while the occasional sprinkling of horns echoed of their Mania Phase EP. And while Paisajes is like going on a trip of Tristeza’s greatest hits, they’re still introducing new ideas even when playing off of old trademarks. Finally a record that lives up to the hype from their record label… 9.2/10
Depressed Buttons: Qwerty– Every once in a while, members of bands split off and form side projects. Its not always for the best. Take The Faint, for example. Joel Petersen broke away and formed Broken Spindles, a more techno driven project that started off really promising until his debut was followed by 2 awful, awful records. He should’ve stopped while he was ahead. Now lets take The Faint again. Depressed Buttons is yet another side project of similar electronic persuasion, but FAR less ambitious. I think they may have been striving for an upbeat version of Fuck Buttons, but the results are far less complicated. My biggest complaint about Qwerty is its lack of originality. I can hear something like this anytime by simply switching the radio on in the middle of the night. Ironically, the song I liked the best(see below) I could have sworn sounded like a remix of the Knight Rider theme. It wasn’t though… I’m still not sure how to feel about it. Taking Qwerty as a whole, its a mind-numbing electronic album that I’m sure most people who aren’t familiar with electronic music mistakenly think of when I tell them I’m into electro– Mindless techno with little to no imagination… 4.2/10
Victoire: Cathedral City– I’ve never reviewed anything remotely classical before, but I’m going to try it anyway. Victoire is a chamber-rock ensemble composed of 5 enormously talented women. Though there isn’t a lot of rock to be found in their music, the ‘rock’ thats implied by their description thankfully doesn’t imply rock opera either. Its more of an avant-garde classical quintet with dreamy post rock soundscapes. Keyboards, violin, clarinet and bass are the players that round out this moody instrumentalist band, but it isn’t always without percussion. Occasional drum programming is incorporated and only adds to the depth of ideas found on this record. Though mainly instrumental, Victoire lends their angelic voices at opportune times to further compliment their instrumentation. Not overly complicated, yet not entirely simplistic, Cathedral City is one of kind and intensely beautiful… 9.4/10