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Candy Cigarettes stands out among many bedroom acts

I always find it amazing when I hear music that’s created in a bedroom studio. It always has a cozy, warm aesthetic that’s much more listenable than any other genre I find. Perfume Genius and Youth Lagoon have really captured the essence of bringing the music from the bedroom (or a friends) to life. With the release of the weird, but very good Wondrous Bughouse, I’ve felt the need to rekindle some of that lo-fi feel in my daily music listening. A musician that brings together this idea greatly is Candy Cigarettes.

 

Lane Mueller is a solo, self-taught musician out of Portland that has been releasing songs under the alias of Candy Cigarettes. Already playing in festivals around his hometown (The monstrous Kaleidoscope Festival in Eugene, Or), his deep baritone voice is rare to hear in the dream pop genre he’s playing. What makes him special as well is how he can jump from a Matt Berninger rumble to a Ben Gibbard, Postal Service, style of singing. Because of his smaller scale and bedroom feel, it’s obvious the quality cannot compete with some of the bigger players in the business, but it adds to the feel of his music. The tracks I listened to, “Tomorrow”, “Stockholm”, “Call Her Friend” and “My 45″ all fall under the same lo-fi sound, but are extremely different in their own qualities.

 

I’m torn between “Stockholm” and “Call Her Friend” as my personal favorite track from Mueller. It’s easy to tell what emotions he’s trying to convey from his diverse range of sound. “Stockholm” begins as a lonely, National influenced track that bursts into a riff resembling “Entertainment” by Phoenix. I hated that song on it’s own, but Mueller takes the idea of the riff, and creates it into a great ending for a sad, revealing track.

 

“Call Her Friend” was not a track I wanted to hear from the opening guitar riff. it’s too Garage Band like, but I gave it a chance and I found it to be Mueller’s most creative work. I hear an early Death Cab for Cutie influence, but with more desperation with the backing vocals droning off, leading into an outstanding electronic section. The song has so many different noises coming from different angles, but Mueller utilizes the silence of the chorus with the background vocals to create amazing tension and connection with the listener. I also found the bridge and fade out to be very solid, with the exception of the blues guitar that doesn’t fit. Nonetheless, great track.

 

“Tomorrow” was the song that I first heard, and it did really capture my attention. It’s the definition of bedroom music, and that’s not an insult in the slightest. I’m saddened by the fact that many people haven’t been introduced the Candy Cigarettes, or other bedroom artists of the same nature. Mueller’s bio describes himself as “Carved name amongst the elders of Portland’s highly proclaimed music scene”, and it makes scene. This track in particular has huge potential to be a radio hit with a bit of clean-up. My same comment goes as the blues guitar doesn’t fit the overall feel of Mueller’s music, but nonetheless it doesn’t detract from the great ideas.

 

Lane is among the many talented solo musicians who are striving to have their name heard. Some are pretty established, like Mueller, while others haven’t shown a single soul their creations. All we know is it can be a work of genius if we give it a chance. Thanks to the age of social media, we can experience the greatness of millions of musicians, and see their minds flow. Just listen to “Weary Is”, and tell me the closing piano notes don’t make you feel something special. Candy Cigarettes, much like Washed Out, is a unique project that only needs that single opportunity, and at 21, Lane Mueller will be given many.

 

Click here to follow him on Facebook

 

 

Arcade Fire – Reflektor review

It felt like only yesterday I was watching my very own indie band grow into a mainstream giant with winning the album of the year award at the Grammy’s. Little did I know that they were already selling hugely even before their ultimate award. It didn’t bother me that they became huge, but my only worry lied within the single question, will this change their musical chemistry? I kept reminding myself that the most successful indie band of the current century knew their roots better than any music marketer and I wouldn’t have to fear. Fast forward to the present, and here we are. Presented with the idea that has slowly drifted my mind, Reflektor is born.

This is Arcade Fire’s fourth album, following a conjunction of extremely successful and great albums, the monster band hopes to continue this trend. The most noticeable difference lies not only within the sound, but the length of the album. Reflektor isn’t at the same length of The Knife’s new album, but it clocks in at 85 minutes and it sure feels like that length. These 13 songs can drag on and on, and that has to do with producer, James Murphy, who has a noticeable impact in the new sound of Arcade Fire.

Before I go any further, let me note that many previous fans will be pissed. And when I mean pissed, I mean ‘throwing their iPods/laptops/cd players/cars/trucks/phonographs/people’ against a wall because it isn’t the “Arcade Fire I fell in love with”. This is true. The secret to the success of the band lies within the thematic connection found in their music. On Reflektor, it’s not as apparent. These tracks aren’t as lyrically driven, With the only song that has that signature sound being “We Exist”. It might get some hopes up to fans, but don’t expect that same feeling from the rest of the tracks.

Now let’s bring up the important facts to this album. It’s 85 minutes, so it’s categorized as a double length LP. Does it feel long? Yes. Is that a good thing? Maybe. My first listen was exciting, but it was a grind when I finished the first side of it. Getting myself to listen to the second side was a challenge, but that’s where I really enjoyed myself. While I liked the first half, 5 of the 6 songs have a repetitive drum track that just tore me to shreds by the end of it.

When “Joan of Arc” came in I felt almost saved by the overproduction of James Murphy. It’s noticeably different, and reminds me of a ‘Berlin Trilogy’ Bowie track. The second side is longer, but I found it much more bearable. I don’t think that’s the right word I want to use, because it sounds like I don’t enjoy it, but the first few listens to this album didn’t bring the best out of me. I finally sat in my room with the lights off and tried to really listen to it, but even then it was hard to separate the thought of Funeral. I would say this is Arcade Fire’s The King Of Limbs. It’ll be it’s misunderstood masterpiece that will be picked up in years to come. I found tracks like “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” to be amazing. It’s Beatles influenced melody was super enjoyable. Following that was the post-punk “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”. That was my favourite song on my first listen, primarily because of the distorted opening riff which took the heat off the heavy dance tracks.

The single “Reflektor” was misplaced hugely as the opening track. I felt the need to say it, because I truly feel like it could create an amazing climax to the album, but instead many listeners will wonder where the rest of the magic went. “It went to the second half,” I’d tell them. If the average music listener can sit through until “Afterlife”, they’ll think the three years was worth the wait. Now I’ve given this album some heavy flack, but I did end up enjoying most of the album. The 11 minute closer of ambiance was super pretentious, and the opening riff on “Porno” really does sound like a B-grade porno (What are you trying to tell us Win?), but Arcade Fire hits most of the marks on this album. To be honest, I need more time with this album, but I’m unable to write a review in 2 months and explain how I feel about this. Reflektor is the ultimate “Grower Of The Year”, but right now, It’s a hard-to-digest double album full of potential magic.

 

 

 

7.5/10

 

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

No Age – An Object

 

Lot’s happened in 2010. Vampire Weekend’s Contra debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, Jay Reatard died at 29, Pavement reunited for a tour, and Arcade Fire shocked the world with the Album Of The Year at the notorious Grammy’s. That was three years ago, and time has flown quickly. 2010 was also the last year No Age released an LP, titled Everything In Between. It’s still one of my favourites to this day, and has stood the test of time. I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard there would be a follow-up earlier this year, but a sudden spark of guilt took over. It seemed impossible for No Age to go for a hat trick with the amazing Nouns, followed by Everything In Between, and now leading up with An Object. The expectations are extremely high for this DIY-experimental punk duo, but they’ve been known for clutching up.

The entire lead up to this release was very promising. The duo wanted to get extremely close to the records heart, and did so by literally making every album by hand. The packaging, at least was made by the band itself, and the only separation between label and band was the actual pressing of the vinyl records. It shows on the music, as a lot of these tracks are stripped and toned down to represent the experimental side of the band. While always forward thinking on past albums, An Object shows a different side of the band. They use noise to lead tracks, like on the slow-cooker closer “Commerce, Comment, Commence”. The album as a whole is off in a way different direction than what I expected. Even the duration is shorter than Nouns, which clocks in at 30 minutes (An Object is 29 minutes).

From the get-go, “No Ground” doesn’t act much differently than any No Age album, and feels less abrasive until the sudden bass riff that rips apart the track in traditional fashion. It’s a very promising sign for the rest of the album. Following that is the album’s best track, “I Won’t Be Your Generator”, which resembles a Rockabilly riff that shifts into a post-punk influenced track. One of the best and most melodic tracks No Age has released to date. The only track that really sounds like older No Age is the next track, “C’mon Stimmung”, which as a whole is super solid. Lot’s of noise, lot’s of aggression, and would fit in nicely with Nouns. That being said, it doesn’t fit the sound scheme of An Object, and sticks out like a sore thumb against the stripped down and close to heart tracks that are found throughout the album. Oddly enough, it’s even the album’s only single. That just proves how out of the box the band is.

It’s difficult to figure out No Age’s intentions through their music, because of their cryptic sound. It’s not diverse, and even experimentation is hard to hear because they never stray away from their usual aggressive playing style. If I wasn’t told that this album would be different from their others, I wouldn’t have caught on in the first few listens. There’s still the smashing punk rock drum beats and mixture of noise and melody, but it’s more behind the scenes. “Running From A-Go Go” has a straightforward post-punk beat, but the melody and hooks are used in such an abstract way that it took intense listening to appreciate the song. Even the cello riff isn’t as catchy as I expected, but No Age are heading in a different direction. They’re expressing their anti-conformity view points through noise in protest. It’s the real reason behind the complexity of the tracks.

Now calling these songs ‘complex’ might dilute the term. What I intend behind to say is that this album isn’t as appealing as past albums, but still fills that No Age niche. I’ll be the first to admit that I was disappointed with what I heard at first. These tracks felt rushed and uninspired besides the first three, and No Age seemed to have hit a wall. As my listening and commitment to the band won me over and I listened more, the meaning behind An Object came to light. This album isn’t “An Object”, but a piece of art. To most, art means ‘self-expression’, and by that meaning, it is impossible to objectify art without knowing the true meaning. An Object is not like other No Age albums. It is a topic of discussion, a hidden gem in their discography in the future, an album that will be forgotten like many others. For now though, it’s filling the whole that No Age fans will appreciate the most, and I can live with that.

 

7.0

 

Melt Yourself Down – Self-Titled Review

When dance music comes to mind, punk rock and jazz generally isn’t the first to make the list of ideas. The UK band, Melt Yourself Down, does just that. Their full-length self-titled debut off the leaf label stands out among the recent releases of music. It’s hard to pin them down to one genre, but the group has the instrumentation of a funk band, but that’s only the beginning of their range of sounds.

Right from the beginning, the lead single “Fix My Life”, is a groove heavy blend of rock, jazz, funk, and even a bit of punk rock with a middle-eastern tinge thrown in. Surprisingly it’s not at all hard to handle with all these different sounds making their way into the single. It’s one of the catchiest songs off the album and only gets the ball rolling for the rest of the LP. The second track, “Release!”, is a more straight forward groove track with a Latin influence in it. It’s not as diverse as the first track, but nonetheless is still strong.

Tracks like “We Are Enough” and “Kingdom Of Kush” are the generally rock oriented songs off the album. “We Are Enough” is my personal favourite because of the energy involved in the music. Even though all the songs are extremely upbeat and energetic throughout Melt Yourself Down, this track is especially stronger in that category. The funky bass line has a definite punch to it that stands tall against the crisp saxophone riff. All parts to this song are memorable. Not to mention the electronic editing throughout showcases the ever growing changes the band can handle.

The band has some serious exotic influence on the album. Although the music is very “westernized” to get to the point, they stand out among jam bands because of their overall diversity. That’s not to say the music is perfect. At 8 tracks and 36 minutes, the music can feel like it’s dragging even though it’s a shorter album. Songs like “Mouth to Mouth” and “Tuna” don’t change their rhythm enough to keep things fresh. “Mouth to Mouth” has a strong African vibe going on, but it doesn’t exactly fit when the songs slows it’s pace down over top the saxophone rhythm. To me it’s forced.

Melt Yourself Down know their sound better than anyone making this sound. That partially has to do with their uniqueness and the fact that the band is in their own sound to begin with. They’re a quirky band with a strong start. Although the album does take a toll on the listener with it’s energy and non-stop tropical party sound, they have enough diversity to keep the sound new. From track to track though, the songs do begin to sound stale. It’s an album that’s perfect for summer, or even to spice up an outdoor party, but that’s where I see the album ending.

 

Check out two singles, “We Are Enough” and “Fix My Life”:

Deafheaven – Sunbather Review

I wasn’t going to do it. The need for me to bring up this album was huge, but I felt so cliché and predictable doing it. I know even attempting to stand apart from others and mentioning this album was impossible. I don’t know if it was the fact that it’s hugely anticipated, or that it’s been labelled “hipster-metal”, but all these aspects are thrown aside when I finally gave this an honest listen. Now to any metal-heads out there who live and breath bands like Burzum, Mayhem, Dissection and the true black metal, this is old news to you.

Sunbather, by the West-Coast California metal outfit, Deafheaven, is the sophomore album to be released by this band. They attempt to improve and grow the sounds of traditional black-metal with a shoegazing vibe and a post-rock structure. I’ve seen critics call this album a ‘post-metal’ record, and that makes perfect sense, but I’m unclear if it’s actually correct to do so. What caught my eye with this record is how accessible it is. Much like the 2011 album, Aesthethica, by the self-described “transcendental black-metal” band, Litrugy, they really push the post-rock structure. From the beginning of this hour long album, it opens with the hard hitting track, “Dream House”. Now how cute is that title! Even the pink cover (designed Nick Steinhardt of Touché Amoré) gives away a little of edginess compared to traditional black metal artists. The song has everything that’s found in regular music of this genre; blast-beats, screaming and snarls, tremolo picking, and insanely heavy build ups. What separates the sound from first listen is the atmosphere and emotion found in this track. The way the musicians play is digestible, even if it’s considerably the heaviest sounds found in music.

The second track, “Irresistible”, is an interlude to the metal-core influenced track, “Sunbather”. The two tracks together are likened to the amazing 2012 album, Les Voyages De L’Âme, by the metal group Alcest (Which was in MITNG’s top 30 album list of 2012!). The songs on this album are considerably long as well. For black-metal standards, they aren’t, but this album does present itself to more of a mainstream crowd, and that’s a great thing for a genre that’s generally hidden under the rug from the music community. “Sunbather” is an incredible track. It plays like a post-rock song that never seems to ever have a beginning. Every note is a crescendo and it’s difficult to ever think the song can build anymore. The blast beats are tights, the vocals are intense, but never scooped my insides out with a spoon. Instead, it was like steel wool rubbing on a pillow. The album for the most part drones on, and it was easy to find myself lost in the build ups. I do love the classic Dissection album, The Storm Of The Light’s Bane, but Sunbather fills a different niche to my music needs.

What I’ve noticed from this album is that there isn’t a lot of filler. It has it’s moments of commentary, like a Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, but it fits the album’s overall style. Sunbather grabs all the accessible and generally enjoyable sections of traditional black metal, and then expands it over a 7-12 minute track. That’s not to say it’s 100% amazing because the track, “Please Remember” has an experimental middle section that sounds like the band forgot to stop recording, but it jumps into a great slow section. Unsurprisingly though, it builds up again. What did you think would happen?! Deafheaven have their sound and they do an amazing job running with it.

To say the least, Deafheaven does play more like a post-rock band structurally than a black-metal band musically. Their sound is unique to an extent. It’s nothing metal fans have heard before, but to a lot of listeners who aren’t interested in the genre, it’s probably the freshest and hippest sound today. It’s more accessible than any Liturgy music, but it’s also extremely credible. The songs, like “Vertigo”, don’t require any virtuoso to play these tracks, but that’s what makes this band so interesting. They have a genre that gets such a bad rep for the culture behind it, and they twist it to a point where it’s more about the music. Even the album’s Wikipedia page has ‘black-metal’ as the third genre this album is. Maybe it was written by an arrogant music snob, but to clear the airs of this, the album is black-metal.

The final three songs are the true crescendos of this album, and I love it. “Vertigo”, “Windows”, and “The Pecan Tree” define the album. Much like Liturgy’s “Glory Bronze”, the entire listening and anticipation fall on these tracks, and the band steps it up. The energy and flow of the songs are great. Super creative playing, while also quite simple. Amazing atmosphere and emotional through the rise and fall of the songs. Deafheaven bring to the table their tools and put them to great use.

True black-metal fans are shaking their heads right now. They cannot believe what they’re reading. How can this “hipster” piece-of-shit be good? The fact of the matter is that it is. I’ve been reading forums on how this is a disgrace to ‘trve kvlt’ metal, but who the fuck cares if it’s this or that. What makes an album good is by how it sounds. The labels surrounding it shouldn’t have any impact. I was a skeptic as well before putting Sunbather on, but after multiple listens and taking it for strictly the music, I was shocked about how great it was. Although not the most intense, heaviest, or brutal album out there by a long shot, this can easily be a guilty pleasure for metal fans, and even a great stepping stone into an extremely dense genre of music. I had a great time listening to this album, and it’ll be on my iPod for a long time to come.

 

Listen to the full album here off Youtube here: 

 

We Are The City release their sophomore album, Violent

The main reason for independent music’s rise to fame is that it’s different. The musicians claim they have a ‘fresh’ new idea, and they’re ‘not like other bands’. Sadly, the reality is that Indie music is slowly becoming more stale by every release. This isn’t because of the high popularity of the genre’s umbrella-like term, or because it’s cool to pretend that we don’t care, but it’s because the mainstream media is jumping on every act around. *GASP*, yes indie music is mainstream music. Let’s admit it already. From The Lumineers and Mumford’s folk sound to Passion Pit’s indie pop stardom, it’s everywhere. Now before you decide these bands are utter shit, let me remind you that it’s only a handful that cash in early with their checks. Even the bands I’ve mentioned still have their dedication to music (so far). The heart of indie music is found in the local media. In a city like Vancouver, where we’ve been overrun from the next big band, it’s hard to stand out. Occasionally there’s a band that sets the tone for what’s expected, and that’s constantly We Are The City.

Hailing from Kelowna, BC and now residing in Vancouver, the band’s claim to fame is winning the prestigious Peak Performance Contest and releasing a killer debut LP and EP. I’ve been following this band closely because everything I’ve heard in the studio and live is absolutely amazing. Their debut release, In A Quiet World, is my top rated album from 2009, and 2011 proved to be great with their ultra cool EP, High School. For anyone unaware of this band, they’re a combination of sound is scattered. At times I hear Local Natives mixed with King Crimson, and others I hear The Antlers mixed with Archers Of Loaf. It’s a unique sound that I’m sure will be a major influence in the local scene. They provided me with a snippet of a sophomore release, and I was very excited to hear that their new album, Violent, has finally arrived.

First things first; this is completely different from anything the band has done before. What In A Quiet World had with their catchy prog-rock, and High School had with their experimental pop, Violent feels down right depressing. The album still contains the disjointed and tight sections that We Are The City are famous for, but they’re a different style here. Gone are blitzing structural shifts and in are the continuous drum sections and droning guitar riffs. From the get-go, “Bottom Of The Lake”, has a lush flow of notes on the keyboard, and a 2/4 drum lick that doesn’t stray away for the entire song. I have to say, I was kept on hold waiting for the song to shift, but I never got that. To my surprise though, I really enjoyed the opening without the complex compositions the band is known for. The only song on this album that has that classic feel is “King David”. It’s 7/4 time signature brings me back to my 2009 listening days. We Are The City has matured and they’re wanting us to know that. “Legs Give Out” has a slight In A Quiet World sound, but it never hits the crescendo that songs off the previous album did.

I’m not mentioning that I dislike these songs, but they definitely require a mental shift to grasp the fact that We Are The City aren’t the band they used to be. They’re more mature, down to earth, and experimental. The first four tracks provide a throwback feel to older albums, but it’s when “Friends Hurt” comes in that it really sinks in that the band has changed. What a perfect soundtrack for that realization, because the entire song revolves around despair and sadness. The band literally fucks with emotions like it’s nothing, and I give them huge credit for that. The second half of the album feels very experimental, with it’s almost minimal feel and usage of sound instead of hooks. The songs tend to drone on, creating a thick atmosphere that feels like Animal Collective gone acoustic. Tracks like “20 Ft. Up” and “Punch My Face” are good examples of the developing sound. Same with “Everything Changes”. It’s long chords and drum machine contain such a dynamic sound for a basic song. That’s the magic of We Are The City. They’re music, even though it sounds very complex, is quite simple. The complexity comes with the structure of songs. They change dynamics so quickly and contrast the previous sections like a post-rock album. Still, the band is a progressive rock band no matter what the locals might say about them.

I’m still sold on the song “Baptism”. It’s definitely the album’s lead single (If it were to have any), and shows how much the band has progressed in the past two years. Inner conflicts almost split the band, and they even resided in a tiny house close to mine to get away from the never ending mess of stardom. Drummer, Andy Huculiak is easily one of the best drummers for a band in Vancouver, and the way he manages the back beat has me jealous every time I hear him play. The song plays out like fuzzed out version of previous lead singles by the band, and takes a piece from Flaming Lips’ iconic Embryonic. The sound is so aggressive without having that upfront punch. It’s sound resembles a ballad until the signature We Are The City ‘second of silence’, and that’s where the song takes shape. It’s distorted, massive, and bursting from the seams like noise rock song with a massive melody.

The band has such goofy and down to earth lyrics that it’s so easy to get lost in them alone. They constantly feel like underdogs and are so likable, even with their accessibility being quite lower than other bands of the same sound (Local Natives, Cold War Kids). Now, the band still has that sound of self-despair, but what made the past albums run so smoothly was the themes that surrounded the band. The group doesn’t seem set on what they’re trying to accomplish with Violent, and maybe that’s the point. When a band is almost on the way to self-destruction, that’s where the most honest work comes out. Much like Weezer’s ultimate Pinkerton, it was the best work by the band at the worst time. So to speak, Violent is no Pinkerton, but the comparison in themes really resemble one another. Violent also feels like a slow cooker, and so far I’m not 100% sold on this new sound, but before I know it, it’ll be on my playlist non stop. The album is yet to click, but I know it will soon. Nonetheless, be sure to check out this sophomore release by the amazing band.

Click here to get to the band’s Bandcamp

Here’s the first promo for the album that contains the song, “Baptism”: 

Finally, here’s the actual studio version of the epic “Baptism”: 

Check out the trailer for the new Washed Out album titled Paracosm

Either you’ve been a fan since the early EP’s, or you know “that one song off Portlandia”, it doesn’t matter at all. The only part that matters is that there will be new Washed Out soon. The Sub Pop label dream child has announced the new album, titled Paracosm, and debuted a trippy trailer to go with it. The mirrored images provide an insight to the world Ernest Greene (a.k.a. Washed Out), and show the amount of complexity that will be in the sophomore LP. The chillwave master mind had a good start with his super catchy debut, Within and Without, which garnered an amazing amount of press. The man who planned to be a librarian has showed how quickly life can change, and I expect that to be a reoccurring theme with Paracosm.

Be sure to check out the crazy cool trailer for Paracosm

Dirty Beaches – Drifters / Love Is The Devil review

When Suicide performed their first concert in East-Side New York, they were booed off stage for their proto-punk attempts.Their simple forward-thinking combination of synthesizers and drum machines could be considered too much to handle for the no-wave crowd of the time. Ironically, the band’s legacy is still found today in top album lists and other artist’s music. I would have done anything to witness the first groundbreaking act, but luckily today musicians like Dirty Beaches have taken the opportunity to fill the hole.

Dirty Beaches is Alex Zhang Hungtai, who’s Montreal based stage name garnered quite the critical acclaim with the 2011 album, Badlands. The lo-fi release was almost polarizing to the general public, although it was labelled as a “Experimental-Rockabily” album. Now Badlands was easily in my top list for 2011, and the only knock I had on it was it’s length. It’s a very condensed form of what Hungtai plans to do with this wonderful act, and the 27 minute debut was not enough for me.

Pleasing me in every way, Hungtai has released the follow-up to the magnificent album with a double LP titled, Drifters / Love Is The Devil. To give a quick overview of the two remarkably different sides, Drifters is a lot like Badlands with the drum machine and reverb influences, while Love Is The Devil is an all instrumental guitar and keyboard work that screams ‘night time in an abandoned city’. What captivated me to listen to this album over and over is how quickly I connected emotionally. It wasn’t that I was drawn to one event, but that I was drawn to a series of thoughts while listening. The future, careers, home, who am I? why am I here? what am I? All of this flooded into my head while Hungtai’s eerie but beautiful loops.

Drifters begins quite normal, with “Nightwalk” setting a good tone for accessibly, but once “Aurevior Mon Visage” drives in, I realized that Dirty Beaches wasn’t like other experimental acts. The loops are so simple, but so polarizing. This album onward is the perfect soundtrack for Half-Life 2. It’s oddly catchy hooks on tracks like “Mirage Hall” are a guilty pleasure for a song that feels like Hungtai went to hell and back to record it. It’s 9 minute soundscape transforms into the ultimate form of self-destruction. Even coming up with words to describe this song is difficult. Hungtai’s echoed yelling only adds to the contrast of sound.

After the ride that Drifters is, I took another turn on the beautiful sadness of Love Is The Devil. I’d Normally review double albums together, but these two albums are extremely divided in sound. Opening with the freakishly emotional “Greyhound At Night”, I was caught in limbo for the rest of the album. It flew by, with only specks of memory still in my brain. It vanished immediately. Not that it was not memorable, because it was fucking super memorable. It was that this album is an experience. I’m not talking about a Warhol Factory experience where your insides are mush the next morning, but an experience of inner-peace. The sound of this album is a mixture of ambiance and no-wave. There was no yelling, there was no driving drum beat, and the only comparison to a semi-popular music piece is “Motion Picture Soundtrack” off of Radiohead’s brilliant Kid A.

Songs like, “This Is Not My City” add to the effect of loneliness and isolation, while still containing that hope beneath the surface. It’s like being in a hazy apartment building looking out the window onto a busy street corner, questioning what the meaning is to all of this. ‘This’ can be anything, that’s the beauty of this album. What ‘this’ means in that analogy is up to you. Hitting the climax at “I Don’t Know How To Find My Way Back To You”, Hungtai takes a page out of Arvo Part’s modern composition book with the gripping orchestration. It’s droning, and perfectly level. The final note is that this half of the album was recorded in an empty Berlin recording studio after closing. I get the feeling of this throughout my entire listen. It’s that sound that’s so captivating that I can’t get enough of.

When I heard Dirty Beaches’ Badlands I felt like I was given the short end of the stick by only hearing a snippet into Hungtai’s mind. Now with Drifters / Love Is The Devil clocking in at 75 minutes together, I still feel like I’m left with not enough. I’ve come to the conclusion that truly is the beauty of the album. The LP’s control emotion better than any album I’ve heard this year (So long Trouble Will Find Me!), although I still know Dirty Beaches are in the climb of their career. Both albums are brilliant, and even with their contrasting sound, they fit like a puzzle  piece together.

Listen to the almost 10 minute epic off of Drifters: 

This song is from Love Is The Devil: 

Review: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

While I was only in New York very briefly, I’ve always found it to be a city full of emotions. I’ve never lived there, only visited, but every I hear an Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol or Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea by PJ Harvey, I’m immediately dumped right in the heart of the Big Apple. That nostalgia has ended with those albums, but a band that constantly gives me those emotions are The National. With the baritone vocals, the Leonard Cohen delivery of lyrics, and the hypnotic instrumentation, Trouble Will Find Me has been one of my most anticipated releases of 2013. After a three year gap since their critically acclaimed High Violet, the band has released their best album yet.

Trouble Will Find Me opens with a slow-cooker, “I Should Live In Salt”. The logical progression in their music makes sense, considering the change in sound from Alligator to Boxer comes in chronological order. As their sixth album to date, Matt Berninger is getting up there quickly in age. At 42, he sounds better than ever though and it shows quickly in the opener. He hits his falsettos perfectly, striking an intense emotional chord. Following this track is a slew of quick, hard hitting songs like the single, “Demons”, and “Don’t Swallow The Cap”. Both of those tracks have the perfect sound for a radio single, and it makes sense that “Demons” was hitting the airwaves as soon as it was legally possible. Together they show the skill of the bands harmonies and synchronicity. The instrumentation, especially on my personal favourite song, “Sea Of Love”, is the most complex and simple at the same time. To many listeners, it could be taken as repetitive, but it’s depth can stretch until the next National album is released. It only makes sense, because guitarist, Bryce Dessner, has a masters from Yale in classical guitar.

Like I mentioned, “Sea Of Love”, has that intense National sound that previous tracks like, “Mr. November”, off of Alligator, and the master hit, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, off of High Violet, have. The continuous snare smashes are borderline punk-like that blend perfectly with the two guitars that carry the song. What really puts this song over the edge is Berninger’s vocals. The way he connects with the listener is pure talent. Lyrically, the song is outstanding, “Hey Joe sorry I hurt you but / They say love is a virtue / Don’t they?”, with Berninger playing the roles of the multiple characters throughout the course of this 55 minute monster album.

Like past releases, The National always include a few slower tracks. Here, these slower tracks feel even softer and dynamically contrast the main sound of the album, but fit perfectly thematically. “Fireproof”, “Heavenfaced”, and “I Need My Girl”, are the three ballads that stand out on Trouble Will Find Me. The tempo is pretty quick, but there’s nothing that rivals the few hidden drum patterns and lone piano notes. It’s truly beautiful, especially “I Need My Girl”, which oddly sounds like “Kreuzberg” by Bloc Party. Although it’s been played for a few years here and there, having it on a studio track brings out the subtly on this amazing track.

Even the second last song, “Pink Rabbits”, rivals for my favourite track. Actually fuck it, almost all songs do here, but “Sea Of Love”, and the one I mentioned really have been standing out since I was able to get my rounds on this album. What I’ve noticed is how the band as a whole clicks on every track. I would say it’s their most accessible, but like I’ve said, their most complex at the same time. The dark themes of loneliness, depression, and love are so easy to relate to on this album, and are far more open compared to Boxer or even High Violet, which was the first time The National wasn’t using cryptic lyrics for personal events. They show their true colours on this album.

I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of Trouble Will Find Me. I mean, I love The National’s past three albums, so I had high expectations going into this newest release, but I wasn’t ready for the greatness of it. The album as a whole is unreal. The sound is relate-able, listenable, fun, passionate, and every other positive adjective in the dictionary. I’ve been disappointed with anticipated albums, and I should have had that thought in mind coming up to hearing this, but there wasn’t one bit of denial in my body. I knew Trouble Will Find Me was going to be good. I just never knew it would be THIS good.

Be sure to check out my personal favourite, “Sea Of Love”, here: 

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