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Death Grips release a new free album titled Government Plates

After a long period of silence, the constantly surprising experimental hip-hop group released a new full LP today for free on their website thirdworlds.net. Titled Governmennt Plates and still dawning a terrible album cover, the group continues the in-your-face unique sound they’re known for. Stream the album in it’s entirity below and enjoy!

Tim Hecker – Virgins review

There’s already been a surprising amount of great electronic music released in 2013, and with the year wrapping up shortly, I’d like to bring up another release that stands out. Hailing from Vancouver, BC and taking his project to Montreal, Hecker has created a name for himself in the experimental music scene since his Imaginary Country release in 2009. Virgins is his 7th full length album, and it further progresses the droning, beautiful chords that he’s noted for.

The album opens up with a signature Hecker contrast between light, pretty ambience and booming distorted whole notes. What I loved about his previous release, Ravedeath, 1972, is that it carries an experience that is unable to be had with other musicians. The problem is that I wouldn’t go back to it all the time. It’s not that it’s not re-playable, but it was a listen that I’d crave after. What makes Virgins the superior album is that I want to listen to it immediately after the final track is finished.

These 12 songs off Virgins flow so smoothly, and they stick in my head. There’s a slight dance to his music that allows me to fall under a trance, but as soon as it becomes a little too much, he swaps for another sound. Think Stars of the Lid mixed with Steve Reich’s minimalism for this album. Add some distorted, resonating notes, and you have the formula for Virgins. Although not that simple, it feels like that at times.

I found Virgins to be quite accessible too. I never felt challenged to “stick with it” or pretentious having his music playing. Especially the track, “Live Room”. Now that’s what I’ve been wanting out of Hecker for years now. It takes over “Sketch 7″ as my favourite by him. Those omniscient opening notes collide like a horror movie soundtrack with the distant echoes of noise. I imagine a burst of white noise, Xiu Xiu style, breaking the tension, but instead Hecker works his magic by flashing distorted saw buzzes into both speakers with total control over the emotions of his fans. He watches like a god and laughs at us as we can only wait until the beautiful destruction of it ends. The track is literally apocalyptic.

I found my word to describe my feelings Virgins. It’s more destructive than a typical Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, and more tense than Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent release. I feel as though Virgins can full under post-rock territory, although it’s not rock at all. Maybe post-(insert genre here)? Post-experimental-ambient-drone. deciding what genre music is in is a losing battle so fuck that, but Hecker provides some amazing moments on this LP.

“Black Refraction” is another moment that I connected with. It’s the complete opposite of “Live Room”, but the tense, creepy feeling of being lost in unknown territory still lingers. The closer, “Stab Varriation”, reminds me of The GY!BE track, “Moya”, oddly enough. It’s downfall chord progression provides imagery of ashy, torn buildings, and loneliness. I love it, and I don’t feel guilty one bit. Hecker’s ability to stay with the same idea and expand it until it breaks without feeling forced is true talent.

That’s been my comment about his music in the past, and he fixes that on Virgins. I don’t at all feel like I’m having a song on repeat, and even after many listens, I pick up on the subtlety of his layered creations. They drone, and drone, and drone, but every measure the pieces get louder, quieter, add another faint noise in, etc, until the mess is too much to handle and you cannot think, and then it’s over. You can breath. You can relax. Now you want more, so one listen turns to two, and two becomes three, and three becomes four. Hecker implies one single question through the blips of noise on his opener, “Prisms”, and asks, “Are you ready?”. I thought I was until listened.

9/10

Listen to “Live Room” below:

 

Listen to a new Arcade Fire song “Afterlife”

MITNG has been covering the recent news for Reflektor very heavily, and it’s come to the surface that a studio release for a song titled “Afterlife” has arrived. On Zane Lowe’s BBC radio show, he premiered the track, which resembles the early 80′s dance floor scene, especially in England. It still has that classic Arcade Fire twist to it, but it’s nice to see the band try new sounds. I’m really excited to see what happens with the rest of Reflektor, which is released October 29th.

Listen to “Afterlife” below:

Arcade Fire release yet another trailer

As the date draws nearer to the ultimate release for Reflektor, Arcade Fire seamlessly excite fans again with another trailer. Since appearing at performances like the YouTube’s Music Awards, and the Bridge School Benefit Show, they’ll perform on “The Colbert Report” October 21st. Expect (or hope) to hear some new tracks. The band continues to hold us on a string.

Nonethless, view the cryptic and beautiful trailer below:

 

Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven

For the past three weeks, I’ve attempted to write this review about five times with the same events happening. First, I create a strong opening line that describes my feeling about the album, followed by a point that talks about the artist, but by the time I get around to actually describing why I feel that way about the music, I cannot discover the words I want to use. Claustrophobic? Spacey? Droning? Jagged? It just goes to show how professional and experienced I am at this. When I think I have it all together, I’m thrown a curve ball in the shape of R Plus Seven and my confidence is shot completely. Not to worry! This time I’ll finish my thought before I’m stolen the words.

Daniel Lopatin is a Brooklyn-based experimental musician, who goes by the name Oneohtrix Point Never when recording his.. music. Now Lopatin is renown in the music world for really pushing the boundaries, not by appropriateness, or by outrageous stunts, but by releasing just plain odd music that sells quite well for an indie artist. I can recall my first review ever being the 2011 album, Replica, and I wasn’t quite sure if I enjoyed it or not. I mean, I gave it a good review, but for a long time I wasn’t convinced that what I was listening was music. Now Lopatin isn’t the most experimental musician out there, but he definitely creates amazing patchworks with odd layouts.

R Plus Seven is Lopatin’s fourth record, and it utilizes a lot of plunderphonics from Replica, but with the unexpectedness of Returnal. What’s so interesting about R Plus Seven is how its Lopatin’s oddest album yet, but also the catchiest. Now catchy doesn’t go hand in hand with OPN, but hear me out. On the opening, “Boring Angel”, a rumbling organ note is held until, yes you read correctly, a steady click from the snare head. Another is how the climax of “Still Life” actually follows hook with synth-based riff of chords. “Zebra” also opens with a staccato of high pitched notes that continue to build and layer. I can run these examples for ages, but that’s the excitement behind this album. It catches you off guard even if you think you know what’s about to happen. Think Walter White’s mind in music.

I would say R Plus Seven is the perfect soundtrack for Breaking Bad’s final season. It has the eeriness of the dark and dreary moments, as well as the flourishing, somewhat happy(er?) scenes. I would never describe Lopatin’s music as happy, but it’s content, much like Vince Gilligan’s intention with his epic show. The way his music on this album shifts from quietly chugging along on a long, droning note and immediately jumps into a whole new sound is frightening. At points (“Along”), it can be hard to handle. I get so attached to the one repeating sound that I feel taken advantage of when Lopatin just dumps a great idea and moves on. It took many listens to realize that R Plus Seven has many dynamics and layers to it.

Now I completely understand when I get a comment that says, “This is hipster shit”. I get it. I don’t think I fully grasp what Lopatin’s intentions are with R Plus Seven. It’s uneasy, awkward, aggravated, at points pure noise, but what draws me back time and time again is the unique feeling of home and warmth from his nostalgic sounds. Lopatin understands himself better than we do, and we just have to deal with it. I feel that he doesn’t expect us, nor does he want us to think ‘I like your music because I know what its like’ because we don’t. We all have different experiences, and Lopatin is providing us the soundtrack to assist with them.

 

 

7.8

Touché Amoré – Is Survived By

There’s a psychological effect associated with heavier genres of music. Hearing aggressive, violent, and even disturbing noises isn’t as appealing as associating other senses with the same handful of adjectives. While listening to Touché Amoré’s new album, Is Survived By, my computer crashed on three separate occasions as soon as I began the album. Now many would tell me just to buy a new computer, and I do agree, mine is shit, but a lot of listeners do this with hardcore or post-hardcore music. We don’t give it a chance, resulting in missing out in many great albums.

Touché Amoré is an LA post-hardcore band that is part of the self-proclaimed “The Wave”, which is a grouping  of 21st century bands in the genre. Along with La Dispute and Defeater, to name the popular few, they’ve been noted as a band that has brought back screamo and hardcore to large audience. Is Survived By is their third album, and it’s also their longest, which is something to note because their past releases don’t even hit 20 minutes. Is Surived By reaches an astonishing 29 minutes *GASP*, and the ride of melodic, post-hardcore doesn’t stop through the entire listen.

What caught my attention with the band early on is how on every release, they seem to experiment with many ideas throughout an album. Short blips of songs will smash through seconds of sound, and then that’s that. On this release, the band has taken a different approach. Although songs never exactly reach La Dispute lengths, they make an effort to add traditional song structure to a few tracks. “Social Caterpillar”, “Non Fiction”, and “Is Survived By” are the only three tracks to reach three minutes (how fitting). These serve as climaxes to the albums closer, but many of these blasts of tracks are actually many ideas separated into different tracks for the sake of packaging.

What makes Is Survived By so different compared to past releases is how the band jolts from song to song, but the flow of the album never strays. These tracks will pass, but only until the album hits stop do I realize that it’s finished. Jeremy Bolm’s screams are stronger than ever. The tension between every chord progression and drum hit is thick and heavy. The band creates such a claustrophobic atmosphere that it’s difficult to not try and break your way out. These songs aren’t just melodic, they stick with you. I found myself hitting repeat almost immediately as the album ended. After my many listens in one sitting, I would sit and digest what I just experienced. It’s the sound of a band at the top of their game.

Few bands can create exciting albums that slip under the radar to the public. Touché Amoré release solid albums time and time again, but they’ve yet to reach the pinnacle of potential. Is Survived By is another prime example of an amazing hardcore release that should be honored by every music buff on their blogs and websites. That’s exactly why I love writing these reviews.

 

8.8/10

Typhoon – White Lighter

Many music enthusiasts have that one ‘personal’ band which they take pride in knowing. It’s the hipster culture of modern music, but the then again there’s always been pretentious music snobs. A band I’ve been following since their beginnings is a renown Portland indie rock, indie pop band named Typhoon. The monster 11 piece orchestra group has masked the airwaves with their unique flowing masterpieces. Their 2010 album, Hunger & Thirst, is an epic album that compares to Arcade Fire’s Funeral except without the reception from critics. White Lighter was released back on August 20th, but I’ve decided to take some time to really let this album sink in.

Before listening to this album, I was super skeptical. It’s only natural to assume that a follow-up album can’t match it’s predecessor, but I was completely false. To sum up this review, White Lighter is brilliant on so many levels. From the beginning, Typhoon gives listeners a glimpse of what to expect for the album with “Artificial Light”. The beautiful notes chime away until the signature voice of Kyle Morton, who should be watched for in years to become.

Typhoon has a quasi-post-rock sound going on, as their dynamic flows so smoothly from song to song. “Young Fathers” is a highlight to album, but it’s very noticeable that this song does have a single feel. No other song had that on Hunger & Thirst, but what makes this album better is how it stays to a steady theme. Kyle Morton suffered from a Lyme Disease as a child, which almost killed him and the concept of desperation and mortality surrounds White Lighter heavily. These tracks are like Mortan’s deathbed prayers, but luckily he’s made it through to put it into wonderful songs.

The sound of desperation is perfected on “Possible Deaths”. The steady kick drum and wonderful hook displays a vivid image that the listener can morph, but everyone will all have the similar theme. Just such great ideas are shaped into amazing manipulation of emotion in these 46 minutes of expression. “Dreams of Cannibalism” follows a standard Typhoon outline, but it’s on par with “Belly of the Cave” for best Typhoon track. Mortan lays down the best example of songwriting the album’s heard on the final two stanza’s with, “I fled the country
I thought I’d leave this behind / but I built the same damn house / on every acre I could find / And I tried to fake my own death just to shake the devils from my mind.” It’s simply magic what they put together.

What get’s me after every Typhoon release is the energy and strength of every song they put out. “One Hundred Years” starts with a blaring horn section over top intense drums. “Common Sentiments” feels more like a swaying rock track, but the originally they spin into it creates such a strong, beautiful aesthetic. What all these songs have in common is amazing instrumentation. Oh, how Typhoon perfects the crescendos! I cannot describe into words the true beauty of these dynamics. White Lighter is an album that blew me out of my chair. Although I should have expected to hear something amazing, I’m constantly amazed by Typhoon’s ability to create music. The melodies, the lyrics, the chemistry between members, the instrumentation, the songs! It’s all here packed into one album that sadly doesn’t stand out in record sales. Do yourself a favor and listen immediately. You won’t regret it.

 

9.4

Underground Mondays: Alea Rae

The folk revival is stronger than ever, and it’s fitting that musicians can release music with ease considering social media is only growing. It’s quite ironic to hear something so condensed and close knit be released on this massive universe of the web. Folk music always has a sense of community whenever I listen to it. The personal experiences related to the themes of the songs grasp my attention in such a way, it’s hard to imagine that millions of others can feel the same way with a click of a button. Gladly I can say that Alea Rae isn’t at the million listener mark, but her music should be.

From my hometown of Vancouver, BC, I came into contact with Rae with her debut EP, Offerings. The 4 song, 13 minute long EP covers a lot of ground, but also holds true to the emotional side of folk music. From the beginning of “An Honest Man”, Rae harmonizes with the melody of the guitar, leading into a smooth roll of the drums that vaguely reminisces a band I’ve been really enjoying lately named Typhoon. The instrumentation on this track contrasts the close-hearted opening with a string section that builds until the ultimate climax. Very calming, accessible, and a solid opener for this record. “Teal” takes a different direction, as it’s not as uplifting, but more accepting. The song is raw, real, and fitting to the experiences we have compared to a happy-go-lucky track.

Rae, who’s radical voice is an abstract mix of folk Karen O and Veronica Falls, shines through these cherished songs. Her ability to start in a deep, almost spoken-word croon that grows into a swooning melody is comparable to Marcus Mumford, who I’m not a huge fan of but it’s one of the few things that I enjoy from his music. “Offerings” is a perfect example of Rae’s ability to dynamically shift a song with her voice alone. It’s what makes the song stand out on these tracks. Not to mention the full band provides excitement to the music.

Too many folk musicians can bore listeners with their music. Especially when they begin the long-winded journey of becoming a musician, sometimes a guitar and sad lyrics aren’t enough to capture their future fans. Rae made the right choice in having a backing band grow these ideas into songs. Her lyricism is strong as well, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Isolation, distance, longing of home, love, it’s all here in these songs, but “Stunning Silence” proves yet again that instrumentation done right in folk can be a game changer that’s hard to compete with. I’m somebody who pushes musicians to try new things, but Alea Rae does indie-folk a favour with Offerings.

 

Be sure to check out her bandcamp below and listen to her amazing 4 song EP:

Prepare yourself for Arcade Fire’s new single

The time has come. I can finally wear my Arcade Fire shirt with pride as they’re now relevant to everyone who’s listened to music past 2007. The Grammy award winners, and indie icons have announced a new single, along with a video that will be dropping on Monday (It fits the 9/9 9PM scheme). Even from the trailer, I’m very excited to see what they do, as the 40 seconds of sound they release is total kick-ass. Relfektor is supposed to drop Octobert 29th, and you can view the trailer below.

 

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

NIN-Hesitation-Marks

There’s a strong sense of invincibility that surrounds Nine Inch Nails. The music transcends masses of the public and have inspired many future musicians to break new grounds. Trent Reznor, the mastermind behind the rotating lineup of industrial superstars, is often thought of as a god in modern music. He is the main man to bring industrial rock into the light of day, and then progressed the genre to it’s own macro of categories.

Hesitation Marks is the eighth studio album released by the band, and is remarkably different compared to the past releases of albums. Every album after The Fragile has yet to match the critics expectations of a ‘great album’, as most have received mixed reviews. You could argue that critics reviews are utter shit (including mine), and reason that everyone has their own opinion, but the fact is that no album has been able to make the same impact as The Downward Spiral. The only other album that touched on it’s greatness after was The Fragile, but even that assumption is a tad too far. Reznor feels genuinely convinced that he’s putting out a solid album, and has the same motivation he had in 1994 (the same year as The Downward Spiral).

What’s noticeably different from the get-go is that this album doesn’t have the same aggressiveness as past albums, but instead feels catchier and accessible. “Copy of A” is the first full-length track and is one of the weaker songs released. The instrumental is actually quite upbeat and groovy, but Reznor’s repeating vocals is what killed the track for me. It feels like a manufactured single for first-time Nine Inch Nail listeners, which severely disappointed me. “Came Back Haunted” is more what I expected from this album. The classic choppy and static drum machine blends with Reznor’s gripping vocals extremely well. Everything about this track is just as easy to listen to as “Copy of A”, but it’s plain better. The song just has that NIN sound that made them stand out in the 90′s.

There are a slew of tracks that feel pulled from older albums released by NIN. “Find My Way”, “I Would For You”, and “While I’m Still Here” all feel like they’re taken from The Fragile era. “Dissapointed”, “Running”, and “In Two” feel like they’re possible B-sides for The Downward Spiral, and the rest of the tracks just expand on latest sound of Nine Inch Nails. If I were to sum up the album in two sentences, that would be it. I mean, there’s other things to add in, but Hesitation Marks does feel like a comeback album that’s trying to pick up new fans along the way. Now I have to bring up the song, “Everything”. What the fuck is this? It’s got to be the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard from Nine Inch Nails. It vaguely reminds me of “Truth” by Bloc Party, which is amazing, but to hear this by an angry industrial rock band blows my mind. The song is pretty solid, but the glittery vocals and contrasting chorus just screams ‘pop-punk’. I still haven’t grasped the concept with this song. I probably never will.

The beauty of Nine Inch Nails is they always surprise. The honest truth behind my opinion is that I had very low expectations with Hesitation Marks. The band has been on a negative slope with past releases, but to hear something that doesn’t disappoint is success. Songs like “Various Methods of Escape”, “Running”, and “Came Back Haunted” kept this record afloat. It doesn’t break any new grounds at all (except maybe for a pop song), and doesn’t stand out among the slew of recent albums to be released. That being said, it’s not a bad album in the least. It’s a nice surprise to finally have some good, relevant material by a legendary band.

6.5

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