14 Feb 2011 @ 2:52 PM 

Reviews. Webster’s dictionary defines review as: To make like new or restore to freshness, vigor or perfection. This is the result of those inquiries.

Cut Copy: Zonoscope — After anticipating this as much as I was, it was admittedly pretty difficult to let it speak for itself over my own expectations. I guess I was hoping for them to revert back to what they did on Bright Like Neon Lights. Did they? Of course not, they’ve already done that. Cut Copy have never been ones to repeat themselves much, unless you’re talking about one of their catchy loops. No, Zonoscope evolves out of In Ghost Colours(colours with a ‘U’ because they’re New Zealanders) into something less dance-y without losing that aspect of their sound. More rock n’ roll? Not exactly. If anything, this record is a beautiful coupling of new wave and their own style. If you doubt this, just listen to Take Me Over. They’ve updated new wave in a way that no one has quite yet. And with everyone seeming to try to revive the 80s in music and fashion lately, this album could very well be the perfect anthem for that style. Overall, the flow of the album is just as smooth as In Ghost Colours with airy transitions throughout that blend each song perfectly. Well-executed, well-mixed and very fun to listen-to…9.1/10

Need You Now

The Get Up Kids: There Are Rules — After 7 years, The Get Up Kids are finally back. After trading in their post-punk style in 2002 for a more easy going indie style, I pretty much thought they’re best days were behind them. After hearing what they did on Guilt Show in 2004, those fears were absolutely realized. Regrettably(?), they broke up after their tour in support of Guilt Show. Then something happened a couple of years ago– they began rehearsing again and even writing songs. This album is the culmination of those ideas. I have to say my favorite thing about this record is that it sounds nothing like their last 2 records. Did I hate On A Wire? I didn’t hate it, but I don’t know if I’ve ever tried as hard to like an album before or since then. Did I hate Guilt Show? Absolutely– It was the worst thing they could have done. So now that they’ve left all of that behind them, the question is what direction have they gone on this record. The answer is a little complicated. They’ve definitely hearkened back to their post-punk roots to write a lot of these tracks… but not all of them. They’ve played with synth a little more and even sounded like they were trying to mimic a version of themselves covering something The Killers would write(When It Dies). It was weird. There really wasn’t a consistent flow to this record. It was all over the place. It sounded like everyone had some ideas for some songs and they played with the guy who wrote the song. The result is an album that sounds like it was written by a band thrown together in the last couple of months and this is what happened when they were finished. It lacks the passion that I hear when I pick up their early material and thats why I’ll continue to dust that band off and listen to them for years to come and I doubt that I’ll revisit this one much at all…6.5/10

Pararelevant

Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will — Mogwai have been around for awhile now. I’ve come to expect a few things over the years when I pick up a new Mogwai record. Namely, excellence in all aspects of everything they do. Its easy to screw up instrumental rock and let me tell you, I’ve heard some epically shitty instrumental rock. But when you find a band that can not only do it well but do it consistently well, they’ll have you forever. That being said, in my opinion, this is their best work yet. Yes, they’ve had some pretty spectacular records in the past, but this one edges them out. Not only have they evolved yet again, but in typical Mogwai fashion, they’ve done it in a way that remains completely true to themselves. They don’t mimic anyone and you know Mogwai when you hear them. Its difficult to criticize an album that quite honestly screams awesome in so many ways in so many instances. If you’re a fan of Mogwai, this record reminds you why you always will be and if you’re not a fan, this album tells you why you should be…9.9/10

Letters To The Metro

Solar Bears: She Was Coloured In — This largely instrumental electronica band from Dublin caught me by surprise last month. I’m usually looking to find out things about bands that I’m already familiar with. Every once in a while I encounter someone like Solar Bears. In this case, we have some electronic/indie minimalists that don’t really sound like anyone. At times I heard influences like Black Moth Super Rainbow, Deastro, Cut Copy… but making an accurate comparison still eludes me. Though you might hear a brief loop that one of those aforementioned bands would write, it never completely resembles anyone on an entire song. They were entirely unique compositions. And when you hear someone in this genre that can do that for the length of an album, you know you’ve found someone special. This is a very smooth and steady electro record thats reversible as ambient or foreground music, which can sometimes be a tricky thing to find. Very impressive…9.2/10

She Was Coloured In

 05 Oct 2010 @ 7:47 PM 

Anyone who knows me knows that there are 2 things that I focus on in life: Fashion and music. Well, music and occasionally Project Runway. Recently during London’s Fashion Week, a memorial service was held at St. Paul’s cathedral to commemorate the life of Alexander McQueen who died earlier this year. Björk was in attendance and even performed a special song. In case you weren’t aware(and why would you be), McQueen designed multiple dresses for Björk over the years including the dress/make-up she wore on the cover of Homogenic. Ironically, he also designed for noted arch-villain and friend of evil, Lady Gaga. No matter, the reason I bring all of this up is because of the song that Björk performed: Gloomy Sunday. Gloomy Sunday is originally a Billie Holiday song and as I mentioned before I’m a purist when it comes to songs I love and thats a big reason I hate covers about 98% of the time. I usually find them about as pleasant as a mosquito bite on my temple. But every once in a while someone gets it right… so right that I like the cover as much or more than the original. Bands like The Get Up Kids and Sun Kil Moon know how to perfectly execute them and so does Björk. Gloomy Sunday wasn’t a song I was familiar with before, but I’m glad I found it. And hell, I’ll even share some of my other favorite covers, or the exceptions to my no-covers rule.

Björk – Gloomy Sunday (Billie Holiday Cover)

Sun Kil Moon – Ocean Breathes Salty (Modest Mouse Cover)

Damien Jurado – Place To Be (Nick Drake Cover)

The Get Up Kids - Alec Eiffel (Pixies Cover)

Deastro – Dr. Who Original Theme Song (some 60s sci-fi theme song writer guy… cover)

 11 Sep 2010 @ 1:28 PM 

For all the records that August and September 2010 have brought us so far, none have been more noteworthy than those I bring you today. I’m highlighting a few bands that I have some history with as well as a couple of newcomers. I won’t bore you with the details just yet, but lets just say it didn’t turn out as nicely as I would have hoped in all cases. In fact, emotions range from absolute disgust to positively pleased. And we’re walking…

Les Savy Fav: Root For Ruin– For the last 14 or so years, Les Savy Fav have pretty much rocked the face off of everyone they’ve come across. Even today they can still be classified as edgy post-punk as much as they were when they first came onto the scene. Root For Ruin is everything I hoped it would be and completely lives up to the rest of their work in every respect: Creative, slightly unpredictable, full of energy and all Les Savy Fav. At times it even reminded me of 3/5 and Go Forth as far as their energy level goes. My only significant complaint is that its probably going to take another couple of years before they put out another great record like this. Hopefully LSF can continue their great song-writing ability for years to come…9.1/10

Sleepless in Silverlake

Frontier(s): There Will Be No Miracles HereFrontier(s) combines the talents of Chris Higdon (formerly of Elliott) and little else. Coincidentally, 2 months ago I was listening to False Cathedrals by Elliott and thinking to myself, ‘I wonder what these guys did when they broke up’. Well as it turns out, they weren’t doing anything for the last few years until just recently when the aforementioned Higdon decided to re-brand himself as the lead of his new band, Frontier(s). This got me really excited and I immediately downloaded their 2-song EP. Sure it was just okay, but I wanted to give them the benefit of a full-length review… Let me just say that this is in no way like Elliott other than Higdon’s vocal style and typical song structures. Other than that, its not what I expected. Not since Jeremy Enigk‘s OK Bear has the title of an album unintentionally said so much about it beforehand… and in case you’re wondering, OK Bear? Just okay. There are 2 major problems with this record: 1) The drummer is one of the worst I’ve heard in quite a while. Everytime this guy tries to do a fill, I cringe. Not only because he fails and comes back in late half the time, but also because he obviously loves doing them– as if he were good at them or something. And 2) This whole band is a blatant attempt to revive Elliott and all the success they had when in fact, this sounds like a sloppy garage band. Also, the closed parenthesis on the S in Frontier(s) is just fucking stupid… I don’t know, I think I’m just angry now. I suppose if this were Higdon’s first band and there weren’t any expectations attached to it, this might score a couple of points higher, but thats simply not the case. This record is pedestrian on nearly every level and a real punch-in-the-stomach to fans of Elliott and what that band was…3.6/10

Poor Souls

The Prids: ChronosynclasticThe Prids are based out of Portland, OR and though they’ve been around for awhile now, they’re pretty new to me. With that in mind, Chronosynclastic is a guitar-driven pop record with harmonized slacker vocals that combined with subtle underlying keyboards makes for a pretty awesome listening experience. Taking influences from that of Sonic Youth and The Pixies, The Prids have come up with a sound that is as distinctive to themselves as the aforementioned bands sounds were to them. Chronosynclastic flows very smoothly, almost as if it were a shoegaze record, when in fact its much more powerpop than that. With a cup of 90s drone rock and a dash of punk, Chronosynclastic is one of the most surprisingly delicious cakes this year…8.8/10

Desolate

The Clientele: MinotaurThe Clientele write 60s-era pop songs and have accomplished multiple spectacular albums over the years and literally surprised the hell out of me that I loved them as much as I did. In short, I couldn’t quit them if I tried. Minotaur is a slight departure from other things they’ve done in the past and for the most part, this EP sounds largely experimental for them. The songs on this album don’t really seem to gel as much as their past works did and it almost sounds like an album of B-sides. Everything they’ve pushed the envelope with in the past is pushed even further on this record. Whether it was the ‘heavy metal-esque’ solo on Gerry, the mysterious piano concerto No.33 or the odd audiobook-like story(with sound effects, of course) of Green Man, this left me scratching my head as to how these were supposed to be smooth transitions into each other. It was just all a bit strange. But, as a whole, despite all of the oddities that seemed to be strung together to look like a single piece of work, the songs themselves were as heartfelt and beautiful as anything I’ve come to expect from them…7.2/10

Nothing Here Is What It Seems

Film School: FissionFilm School have been crafting moody indie pop for the last few years and in that time released 2 records– one that subsequently improved over the last. Fission continues that upward trend, but in a slightly different way. While their first 2 releases focused more on indie pop creativity, their focus has shifted towards not only crafting great songs, but also focusing on the atmosphere and mood of this record more. The result is less indie pop and more dream pop. This suits their sound much better because while I really liked them before, they really didn’t make as big an impression on me as they could have– something was missing. As it turns out, it was atmosphere. They’ve mastered it on this record and I couldn’t be happier with the result. In fact, most of these songs could be remixed with a drum machine and just as easily be categorized as synth pop in the vein of Depreciation Guild or Deastro if they wanted to be. In any case, Fission is a significant improvement over their last record that I didn’t expect or want, but am glad they made…8.8/10

Still Might

Posted By: thelittlefield
Last Edit: 18 Sep 2010 @ 12:59 PM

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 06 Aug 2010 @ 10:47 PM 

If you come by here from time to time, you’d have noticed the considerable lack of actual reviews lately. Mostly I’ve been using my time off to catch-up on my Mad Men DVDs and hog-tie hobos and blow them up with dynamite on Red Dead Redemption. You know, guy shit. But during that break I also had a chance to listen to a lot of new and noteworthy albums. So many in fact that I’ve had to narrow it down from 15 records to a top 5. Besides, who wants to hear about the last few months without highlights? Not this guy.

Depreciation Guild: Spirit Youth– In the tradition of electronic shoegazers like The Radio Dept., Depreciation Guild which showed immense promise on their debut, In Her Gentle Jaws, have finally realized their potential with Spirit Youth. From start to finish whether you’re looking for hooky guitars, subtle synthesizers or dreamy vocals in your electro dream pop, this album is one of the best. I had big expectations for this record and they absolutely surpassed them in every respect. Well fucking done…9.8/10

Depreciation Guild – Blue Lily

TOBACCO: Maniac Meat– It seems like I talk endlessly about this guy. If you haven’t read anything on this website, let me sum up: Tobacco is an innovative electro experimentalist who is also a founding member of Black Moth Super Rainbow. After Fucked Up Friends, Tobacco was going to have a bit of trouble following up something that off-the-wall, catchy, beat-heavy and altogether hard to understand. And thats exactly why I love this guy. I can’t figure out exactly what he’ll come up with next. But one thing is for certain: You’ll know its Tobacco when you hear it. Seldom do you hear something thats as distinct as this. And with Beck guest-starring on 2 different tracks, you have yet another reason to explore this record and figure out just what the hell is going on inside of this guy’s head…8.7/10

TOBACCO - Mexican Ice Cream

Deastro: Mind Alter EP– After writing a few songs(like 200, I think) Randolph Chabot aka Deastro has decided to follow up his sugar rush-induced sophomore LP Moondagger, with a toned-down and relaxed Mind Alter EP. Now, if you’ve followed Deastro’s releases at all, this won’t surprise you in the least. In fact, Moondagger was more of an anomaly than this release. Mind Alter EP is Chabot going back to the basics in many respects and not so much slowing things down as much as doing what he does best. The only difference this time is that hes signed to Ghostly and actually making some money rather than giving it away for free. Overall, when considering all of this, it didn’t particularly blow me away but it did keep me coming back for more which is a quality he’ll never lose so long as he stays true to his roots… which this EP truly does…7.4/10

Deastro - Mowgli The Lynx

Mountain Man: Made The Harbor– The concept behind this ‘band’ is almost too simplistic. Imagine three women singing acapella with an acoustic guitar to original folk songs in the vein of Joanna Newsome or Alela Diane. Thats it. No, really. For me what really makes a song worth listening to, no matter how simplistic, is if the artist can hypnotize you to a point where you forget where you are and all that there is is the moment of that song. Multiply that by 13 and you have this record. Completely surprising and positively stunning…8.9/10

Mountain Man - Animal Tracks

Magic Bullets: Magic Bullets– For a band on their 2nd LP and 3rd release overall, its kinda weird that they’d only now have a self-titled album. I guess thats just me thinking aloud. Yes, this is Magic Bullets‘ 2nd full-length and if you’re not familiar with them, lets just say that they’re a modern version of The Smiths. I hate to limit them like that, but this record forced me to do it. Their first 2 records actually stood on their own and although I could definitely hear a Smiths influence, it wasn’t nearly as apparent as it is now. That isn’t to say that this isn’t a decent record because it totally is. The thing is, compared to their previous albums, it falls a bit short at times. I think the biggest shortcoming of this album was my preconception of it. What I’m trying to say is that they led me on and they broke my heart– just a little. I’m not sure if this is just a moderately-paced version of themselves or if this is their new general direction, but I do know one thing: I like their previous work more…7.2/10

Magic Bullets - Lying Around

Posted By: thelittlefield
Last Edit: 08 Aug 2010 @ 10:58 AM

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