Lust For Youth: International –With dreamy sound bites, exhilarating beats, and an ‘80s vibe, the band Lust For Youth has created something wonderful with their album International. The band, from Copenhagen, Denmark, includes members Hannes Norrvide, Loke Rahbek and Malthe Fischer. With just ten tracks on the album, Lust For Youth is able bring back the sounds of ‘80s bands such as Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and New Order while featuring their own unique talents.
The track, ‘Epoetin Alfa’ is the kind of song you listen to when you’re driving around with a group of friends at nighttime, trying to find something to do. In fact, the song sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to 2011 film Drive. ‘Illume’ is an upbeat track that definitely brightens up the album. However, there are times when the song sounds like a default ringtone on your cell phone. That being said, I probably wouldn’t want it for a ringtone because I would be so busy enjoying the song, I’d might actually forget to answer my phone, regardless of who was calling me.
In contrast to ‘Illume’, the song ‘New Boys’ contains a sort of stifled cheeriness which makes it kind of mysterious. ‘Ultras’, an instrumental, slowly fades in, like something majestic from the great depths of the ocean is emerging into view, with a nice touch of chimes heard at the end of the track.
One of the most especially intriguing tracks on International was ‘Lungomare’. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but I liked it. It’s mainly spoken word in a different language that could possibly be Italian (the title of the song is the name of a seafront promenade in Naples, Italy) with subtle music in the background. The nice, soothing voice and the music in the background was cool. With children yelling and playing around in the background, it’s definitely a song that you’d have to hear for yourself. ‘After Touch’’s electronic doo-wop sound easily reminded me of The Flamingos version of ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ from the late 1950s.
‘Basorexia’ is an instrumental that simulates the feeling of lights swirling around above your head at a dance club. Part of you can’t stop looking at them, but another part of you wants to close your eyes and take it all in, getting lost in the moment. It includes various sound bites echoing in the background on a loop, some in different languages, but the ones in English sounded like they were saying “A couple of kisses and we’re there” and “but you have to want it though”. After searching online for the word “basorexia”, I found out that it is an informal term used to describe “a strong craving or hunger for kissing”. Interesting…
Overall, I find it fascinating when a band takes something that has already been created and recycles it in order to create something new. That being said, Lust For Youth has done something spectacular with this album. The various sound bites on the album are in different languages from French to Italian to English. It’s a cool concept for them to be incorporated in this kind of music. Sure you may not understand it all, but then again maybe that’s the point. It’s a way of bringing people from a myriad of cultural backgrounds together through music, and is most likely why the band’s album is called International. Either way, if you’re a fan of music that includes the creative use of dreamy sound bites, then this is an album that you should own…9.5/10
Dress-2-Kill: Fuck You, Asshole — Nostalgia has a funny way of warping our perception of things. There’s a reason why the phrase “rose tinted glasses” exists. The love we have for things in our childhood or just things from bygone eras is a difficult animal to describe. Some things stand the test of time because well made things always do, regardless of the decade from whence they came. Some things are terrible but still earn a place in our hearts because of their association with happy memories, and yet other things are so bad they come full circle to being good again.
I can think of only one man, one icon of the eighties that exists in all three realms of nostalgia: Arnold Schwarzenegger. No one else represents quality journeys into retro futurism (The Terminator, The Running Man), celebrations of violence and one liners (Commando, The Predator), and poor ideas executed terribly (Hercules in New York) quite like Arnold does. Dress-2-Kill has distilled the Arnie zeitgeist into a hard hitting synth adventure, proudly titled Fuck You, Asshole.
‘It’s Only Science Fiction’ leads us quickly into a room-filling synth melody, and while it isn’t the meatiest of tracks on Fuck You, Asshole, it serves as a perfect appetizer for the main course (Green Berets). ‘The Running Man’ is somewhat similar but the urgency of the synth work and the drone of the bass are evocative of an 8-bit run for your life, culminating in one of my favorite lines from Commando. Probably my favorite track on Fuck You, Asshole is ‘A Hooker With Three Tits’ featuring Kiile. The synths, the little guitar riffs and delayed wails, the toms all come together in such an effective way that I really felt like I was at a bar on the wrong side of Mars, wondering where my next breath of air was going to come from.
‘You’re One Ugly Motherfucker’ is a descent into paranoid synth madness with dashes of horror and sci-fi thrown in because, there IS something out there waiting for us, and it ain’t no man. ‘I Don’t Do Requests’ closes out Fuck You, Asshole with another expansive, atmospheric track that features some cool outrun sensibilities.
It’s not uncommon for a producer to so transparently pay homage to retro royalty, and it’s not uncommon for those homages to be awesome; the synthwave family has many talented members. It’s uncommon, however, for a producer to so wonderfully capture the spirit of a legend the way Dress-2-Kill does on Fuck You, Asshole. Indeed, from the title of the EP to the title of each song, it’s clear who inspired D2K. But what counts is the music and this is a solid piece of pure synthwave. Before Fuck You, Asshole I thought it would’ve been impossible to capture the sound of one man who is an unstoppable cyborg killer that’s being chased by both the galaxy’s greatest hunter and ruthless brutes competing for television ratings, while he tries to find his kidnapped daughter and liberate Mars in the process, but D2K went and did it. Next time you need to let off some steam and feel like an Arnie marathon, skip the VCR and put on Fuck You, Asshole… 8.5/10
A Hooker With Three Tits (feat. Kiile)
Moodie Black: Nausea- Nestling snugly in the annals of contemporary rap history between Anticon’s reinvention of hip-hop and Kanye’s postscript to the genre lies the formation of Arizona’s noise rap duo Moodie Black, whose minimalist-yet-massive industrial beats earned them a small cult following several months before Yeezus dragged their downtempo breed of racket to the mainstream. With their debut self-titled EP, Moodie provided a glimpse of their heavy-hitting post-rap which, though drenched in scuzz, proved club-friendly with its thumping beats and memorable choruses. Yet in what may have been an act of defiance to ‘Black Skinhead,’ the group’s newly released full-length Nausea takes another big step away from the mainstream by relying heavily on instrumental post-rock soundscapes for an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia, a feeling as alien to rap as your grandparents.
From track one it’s apparent that the duo has shifted to a slower, tamer, and more stripped down sound, and the unsettling sense of impending rapocalypse has lost its sheen for them. Similarly, the sobering subsequent ‘S K I E S’ overwhelms the listener with images of McCarthian bleak skies and circling vultures, almost as if the honeymoon phase of the apocalypse is over and slaying zombies (or hipsters) is no longer sufficient compensation for the fact that rap’s end is imminently nigh. Although significantly mellower and lyrically more abstract, Nausea’s flagrant evocations of 28 Days Later’s hysteria (and soundtrack) makes it the perfect companion piece to fellow Fake Fourer and former Anticonian Sole and his Skyrider Band’s cataclysmically prophetic debut.
With only a pair of relatively short and spastic exceptions, Nausea’s tracks sprawl like any good post-rock album, making its seeming lengthiness entirely necessary (see: Swans). Though ten minutes shy of the one hour mark, the album still may not suit the impatient listener due to its somewhat-monotonous content, often crawling pace, and sparse cathartic payoffs, such as the aforementioned spastics (‘Mollyap’ and ‘White Buffalo’) and a few goosebump-inducing reverbial crescendos (as perfected on ‘Death in L.A. Pt. 2’). But for Michael Gira enthusiasts Nausea should feel like an exotic appetizer for which the spaghetti western guitar twangs of ‘Wolves’ appear particularly inviting.
With its post-rock ethos of finitude and barely audible yet undeniably (and verbosely) anti-establishmentarian lyrics, Nausea is commendable not only in trailblazing the young noise rap genre (yes, Moodie Black owns the rights to noiserap.com), but it also excels in countermanding rap’s mostly-established position within the world of music. Much like the raps of their labelmates and similar pioneering art rappers, Moodie proves hyperconscious in each of their tracks, as opposed to the mindless choruses often adorning such radio-friendly artists as Kanye and this year’s newest Lil’ and/or Young. From the vaguely-blasphemous ‘Christ’ (in which the lyrics “oh my god” may or may not seep into “I’m a god”) to the concluding surreality of ‘B’ (which boasts a violent chorus of “light me on fire in my fucking sleep!”), Nausea is exactly what its title suggests – a record documenting an existential sickness with ourselves. “Listen with caution,” warns Fake Four…9.4/10
Kishi Bashi: Lighght- Sailing in on a gust of psych pop glory, Kishi Bashi brings an album that is at times danceable and other times contemplative, awash in lush orchestration. Kishi Bashi is the solo project of K Ishibashi, who adopted the moniker while forming his new solo outfit. Lighght is Kishi Bashi’s sophomore album and the confidence in songwriting and composition shows. This is also a man who is no stranger to the music scene, having been a former touring violinist for both Regina Spektor and Of Montreal. Kishi Bahi’s prowess with string orchestration is more than apparrent on Lighght and he is able to seamlessly thread it through tunes that make you want to dance to ones that get more experimental and urge you to just sit and listen for a while.
One element that immediately stands out in Lighght is the fact there are two short instrumental pieces. The first track, ‘Debut- Impromptu’ and later on, ‘Impromptu No 1′ both serve as a set up and an intermission, respectively. They focus on string orchestrations, while also throwing in some electronic based sounds, some keys, some instruments that are still a mystery to me. What is immediately apparent from ‘Debut- Impromptu’ is the non-traditional use of strings, much of which sounds like it is put through some sort of filter that gives it a playful tone, but one that should not be taken lightly.
Two of the more danceable tracks on Lighght appear early on the album and grab listeners attention. ‘Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!’ starts off with with a violin and quickly layers in other instruments and a chorus of harmonized “Ohs” before braking into full rhythm with loose, tribal drums, quirky sounds and just great modern psych pop with possible influences from Animal Collective and MGMT. And while this song uses what sound like live drums, ‘The Ballad of Mr. Steak’ uses beats to get a more synth-poppy, dance-floor groove going through your veins. Kishi Bashi is able to blend together elements from more standard pop with the somewhat experimental elements of psych pop for a fun, quirky song telling the story of a bachelor named, Mr. Steak who loved to dance. I’m a sucker for puns and using lines like, “Mr. Steak, you were grade A” just add to the vibe of the album.
And while there are more standard dance tunes, there are also songs, that while still holding a great beat, delve more into psychedelic elements rather than the pop. With ‘Hahaha Pt. 1′ and Hahaha Pt. 2′, Kishi Bashi proves strings are an element that should be used more on modern music. Both songs are awash in strings, beats, and synths. The vocals have a slight echo to them giving the songs a very dream-like quality. They also provide an element normally only seen in “rock opera” albums, movements. In what is given the overarching term “classical music”, movements can be like tracks on an album or like sub-tracks layered in single songs, but all while using similar musical themes or melodies. In the two ‘Hahaha’ tracks, the idea of movements is employed and used to tie two songs together that while are different, use intelligent threads to tie together the musical themes.
And while all the tracks mentioned are outstanding, on ‘Q&A’, Kishi Bashi strips things down and has a nice light, acoustic-folk love song. It is a nice touch to an album with full orchestration and shows Mr. Ishibashi understands the need for contrasts and dynamics in an album. It is a sweet song that makes you bob your head back and forth and think about that special someone.
All in all, Kishi Bashi’s, Lighght is a fantastic psych pop album. It shows that excellent violin playing and string orchestrations set this album apart from others in it genre. It is smartly crafted, both catchy with the pop elements and holds your attention and opens the mind with the more experimental side. It is a well-composed sophomore album, which is difficult to do. Kishi Bashi was able to keep his best elements strong, appeasing older fans and attracting new ones… 9.5/10
The title of Craft Spells‘ new album is quite the anomaly. The second full-length LP from the dream pop group is entitled Nausea but the melodies featured are so serene and lovely, nauseous is the last thing you’ll be feeling upon listening. It has been three years now since the endearing debut, Idle Labor, with an equally accomplished EP shortly following. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the new album as well as a chance to see the Captured Tracks darlings live. Violent Success was lucky enough to catch up with frontman and founder Justin Vallesteros before their stop at Chicago’s Township and chat about shifts between albums, major influences, and his best live show experience.
Violent Success: Between albums, have you noticed any significant changes in your songwriting process?
Justin Vallesteros: Sure, sure thing. On the first record, I really didn’t own any of the recording equipment that I used. So after three and a half years I acquired a lot of recording equipment and the sonics are a bit more broad- more atmosphere to the songs. And three to four years of life in general, I have more to bookmark into songs. So lyrically, there’s a big change as well and just the tone of everything now that I’m 26 years old; in and out of Seattle and San Francisco and just kind of found myself in a place where I’m a bit more confident in what I’m doing and what I want musically.
VS: So what do you think sets Nausea a part from Idle Labor or Gallery?
Vallesteros: Well the whole tone is completely different. It’s a lot of atmosphere. It’s more like my idea of composing an album rather than writing a record- a rock record. So that’s the biggest difference, really.
VS: Who would you say are some of the artists or bands that have influenced you in your own music?
Vallesteros: In the old music?
Vallesteros: Oh yeah, a lot of that C86 stuff and you know, the Factory Records stuff. The Durutti Column, New Order, The Cure…stuff like that. Pretty obvious things. Not much of shoegaze. I do like shoegaze but people have called that record “shoegaze” and I don’t remember any of that record sounding like shoegaze.
VS: Do you have any dreams collaborations? Anyone you’d really like to work with?
Vallesteros: Yeah! There are two Japanese composers, I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but there’s this dude named Cornelius, he used to be a part of this band called Flipper’s Guitar. He makes music by himself now. His Wikipedia says he’s influenced by The Beach Boys and Beck and he’s a part of the shibuya-kei scene which is like jazz and trip hop-sounding music or kind of like city music. And that’s like what I love and I would love to work with him. And in the same case, Ryuichi Sakamoto is this Japanese composer who’s a part of this band, Yellow Magic Orchestra. Greatest contemporary piano player, to me and it would be a dream, for sure, to work with someone brilliant like that.
VS: So when you are writing songs, do you tend to focus more on your own personal experiences or things that you observe happening in the world around you?
Vallesteros: Both. I mean that all exists together. From the beginning, everything that I’ve done recording-wise has been kind of like a bookmark to my life. Each song is something to remember eventually, and a record is a good representation of someone’s time over a certain amount of years.
VS: So what’s your favorite part of getting to perform the material live?
Vallesteros: When we played Brooklyn at the beginning of this tour it was a 1500-person capacity place and it was so nice that everyone didn’t touch their phones. I didn’t see one cellphone and that made me so happy. It was almost like we showed up and then all of a sudden, we took everyone out of that world that they’re in and brought them somewhere else and that was really special to me. So I guess that was something new for me. Really taking people out of the mundane and bringing them to a new, whimsical world.
VS: So you’re on Captured Tracks which has a lot of rising talents like Wild Nothing, DIIV, Beach Fossils. Have you noticed if any of your labelmates have been influencing you at all? Do you guys get ideas from each other or collaborate?
Vallesteros: No. There are definitely some instances where you chat each other on G-chat, or whatever. But we just send songs to each other, we never tell them “you should do this” or “you should do that.” And when we all got signed we were kind of on our own. We were found by Mike Sniper at different times and didn’t know each other really so we have our own sound. It’s cool though, the first releases for all of those bands- we had this aesthetic that was like this huge group of bands that really had this vision and sound that was kind of relative. Over the years- most of these bands have a singer/songwriter that does everything in the band- it’s cool to see everyone branch out by their second record and just push the sound. It’s nice, in that sense, everyone’s branching out to their own thing. So it’s groovy. No one’s ripping off anyone yet. Not yet. I’ll call ‘em out.
VS: When you first started out making songs in your bedroom did you ever expect this project to turn into what it is?
Vallesteros: No, no. I’m originally from a town called Lathrop, which is kind of near Stockton, and the only band that really came out of their was Pavement. So that set a pretty high standard where everyone really didn’t make plans to get signed one day or tour or whatever. Yeah, I never expected it. So I had about five songs on Myspace, when Myspace was still a thing, and Mike Sniper randomly messaged me for mp3′s. All he wrote was: “MP3′s?” After that, I had a record done and that was it. So it was very natural and I’m still weirded out by it today, so it’s pretty cool. It still makes me happy, which is groovy.
VS: Say you had to describe your sound to someone who’s never heard Craft Spells beefore, how would you do that?
Vallesteros: Yeah, I think it’s relative. I’m a normal dud like everyone else. I’m not a personality, like “that crazy songwriter guy.” A real dude with feelings and that’s something people can generally associate with in their mid-20′s or even when they’re younger, however they wanna interpret it. I think I’m just relatable in that sense. It’s hard to describe the whole sound in general, but it just feels like your world.
VS: What do you want fans to walk away with with when they listen to your music or say, come see a live show? What do you want them to get from the experience?
Vallesteros: I want them to feel relieved from the oversaturation of just everything in this world. Relieved that you got to escape for like 45 minutes and relieved that you can actually listen to a whole record and read to it or work on your art to it. Instead of trying to focus on, “is this hip enough?” or “is this cool enough?”
(Bottle breaks nearby)
Vallesteros: That’s so sick! I hope that’s on the recording.
VS: (laughs) Probably
VS: I’ll be sure to include it when I’m typing it all up: sound of glass smashing!
Vallesteros: Yeah, cool. Perfect! But yeah, I hope they’ll take it and feel relaxed, finally. No anxiety.