Whenever I think about the future, I will think about what will still be thought about 10, 20, 30 years into the future. All our fads, all our styles, all our words, how much will be used? I tend to combine that with the thought that if a famous celebrity would be around today, would they be famous? I’ve heard the question that if The Beatles were brought into today’s society, would they be as famous? Obviously not, because a lot of today’s music is influenced by the Fab Four. Taking them away from the 60’s would forever impact rock music, leaving a whole in everyone who found influence in them. A weird paradox so to speak. It’s logical to think they’d adapt though. They wouldn’t have the simple “la-di-da” melodies and covers of the 50’s, but presumably they would add more effects. That’s what every musician seems to have today, right? Music is all about survival of the fittest. To stand the test of time, you need to create the sound that defines the generation.
Now the question is: what is that sound? We don’t want to sound like others, so how to do we go about being ourselves? For starters, don’t listen to others. Now that’s just brutal advice, so I’m going to stop there and talk about our latest band, Gumshen. The Seattle group combines elements of progressive rock and the popular indie standards that run the radio-waves. To start, they’re extremely catchy and fun. I opened up the link, reading the title Progtronica, and let out an extremely audible grown. How could anyone with common sense want to have this title on their hard-worked album. Well, it makes complete sense. They do mix electronic music very well progressive rock. I’ve only heard King Crimson try this on their album Discipline. No comment on how that turned out…
It seems Gumshen have learned from others mistakes. “Bell Ringer” opens the album with a jumpy synth riff over top a talented vocal section that reminds me Christmas music. It’s melancholic textures and poppy bass soothes me to tune out to the 7 minute track. It also has a killer guitar solo that finds its way fitting perfectly over the same stellar drum beat. The amount of spelling errors I’ve made so far is countless, considering I keep jamming out in my chair typing this. “Stipulation” just screams 90’s summery pop. It’s extremely nostalgic, but I hear the same sounds that were found in Wonderous Bughouse (Youth Lagoon’s 2013 album). The one line is probably the truest lyric I’ve heard in ages (“Turning 20 dollars into 20 dimes”). I feel you Gumshen.
These guys are incredible in sync with one another. They find ways to turn their sugary pop riffs into timeless progressive jams. Not to mention they jump from a summery anthem into a jazz club soundtrack with the switch of a keyboard sound. Tricks like that is what keeps a band going. Now Progtronica is only six songs, but it spans just over 30 minutes, but I’ve never been a good mathematician. Now five of these tracks stand out, with the exception of “Fine One to Talk Too”. It comes across as a Porcupine Tree B-side, which is still impressive, but doesn’t fit the overall theme of the album. I’d love to hear that sort of swaying, arena-rock goodness on an entire release, but when it’s stuck in the middle of keyboard driven release, it throws off the mood.
“Liquid” is sweet. It opens sounding like a soundtrack to my childhood, slowly blending into a determined, caricature of the riff. When I first threw on this album, I wasn’t a fan of Ron Hippe’s sly vocals, but like Travis Morrison of The Dismemberment Plan, he soon became the only voice in my head. He has a signature style that stands out. His little sarcastic quips of vocals, followed by a strong string of Axl Rose impressions fits the band’s style greatly. He puts care into his vocals, which I admire.
This album closes off with the definition of the album title. “Fragile We Are Castles” is like a mixture of Ratatat and Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd (IMAGINE THAT). It’s spacey, gigantic, and plain gorgeous. Over an 8 minute length, they jump to about five styles of progressive music, ranging from jamming to syncopated, tight staccatos of notes. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much on a first listen, but I was drawn to hearing more from Gumshen. Although a little cheesy and weak at times (“Bait & Switch”). These guys know what sound they want, and just go for it. I can respect that, and for their efforts they’ve released an album that exemplifies their determination to stay alive in the dog-eat-dog world on music.
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.
Listen to “Live Room” below:
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.
William Philips a.k.a TOURIST has been blending elements of chillwave and electronica since 2012 when he released his self-titled EP. William’s is one of those artist whose grassroots approach to promotion has garnered him some serious fans. In cooperation with Make Mine Records out of the U.K., his influence on the electronic scene is gaining acceptance worldwide.
His new track (available for free download on Soundcloud), isn’t like some of his more beachy vibes, but instead has a bit of the two-step James Blake vibe permeating his usual glo-fi rhythms. The song moves like a trance tune, building in small increments. Although subtle “Stay” will grow on you and has enough of William’s imprint to add this single to your chillwave playlist.
Washed Out’s Ernest Greene continues his mission of bringing the world dreamy beach-like vibes in his latest single “Don’t Give Up” off his sophomore release Paracosm. Don’t Give Up was directed by Kate Moross whose made quite a name for herself in the commercial world working for heavy hitters like Apple and Nike. Her Nat-Geo approach to this video, almost warrants watching it in IMAX, it’s vivid and her subtle use of color changing is highly imaginative. I must admit having to take a step back from this video when I first started watching it. It was almost too pretty for this song, but toward the end the merriment between Washed Out’s blissed out vibes and the majesty of G-d’s creatures made for a nice experience. One I hope, you will agree, is worth watching a couple of times.
Washed Out’s Website http://washedout.net/
Like Washed Out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/washed.out
Follow Washed Out on Twitter https://twitter.com/ernestgreene
Washed Out on Tour http://washedout.net/tour
We’re heading to the Great White North to attend the 2013 Vancouver Folk Festival, and we can’t be anymore excited! The festival runs from July 19th-July 21st, and we’ll be providing photography, interviews, and written coverage of the entire thing. This year’s lineup has shaped into a wonderful mixture of world music, local talent, and huge superstars (Steve Earle to name the largest). Be sure to check the lineup below, and let us know if there’s any artists in particular that you want to receive info on.
We’re excited to see a lot of musicians like Kathleen Edwards, Aidan Knight, Hannah Georgas, The Wooden Sky, Steve Earle and the Dukes, and The Waterboys. Below I’ve included a list of the major headliners playing the evening shows at this festival. You can also click here to see the morning schedule for Saturday and Sunday. They include wonderful workshops, shows, and special events where artists talk about how they made a song or album, and great events filled with food and culture. You don’t want to miss our coverage of these great events.
Be sure to follow our twitter for real-time tweets during the festival, and check the website periodically for the full day-to-day coverage of the events.
The rumours are true, Arcade Fire have announced their new album with a release date. The title is unofficial so far, but we know the date will be October 29th. They causally responded to a fan on twitter, then out of the blue announced the date,
“Thanks. Our new album will be out October 29th”
This is exciting news because of how critically-acclaimed their three previous albums were, and the whole usage of the abandoned church for recording has finally came into play. Stay tuned for more details.
This week on MITNGTV we’ve got some new clever graphics for ya, showcasing two new spots on our program…The Kickstarters (where we focus on a Kickstarter we are excited about) and Underground Mondays (where we showcase some up and comers to the music scene). Course we will be highlighting all the stuff we’ve been talking about all week Mezo and Dj Micro Connected Remix, IDW’s Locke and Key coming to the big screen, Tom Morello’s work on the Pacific Rim soundtrack, the art of Nicola Verlato and much much more. Be sure to watch and subscribe to our channel or face the wrath!!
There’s a lot to mention leading up to the sixth album released by the American rapper, Kanye West. The SNL performance, the birth of his first child, the world wide projections, the album artwork. West’s mind is all over the place. I’d also like to remind the public the importance of the album title itself; Yeezus. As a play on words with ‘Jesus’, he’s referring to himself as the holiest, the highest, the greatest, and the meaning to life. It seems his messiah effect has gotten hugely out of hand, but that also plays a large role in his musical success as well. This album is the formal follow-up to the amazing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which I’d argue is one the greatest contemporary releases ever.
How do you start a review to an album that is rumored to not even be finished? That’s the difficulty with West’s music because there’s always a trick up his sleeve. The album opens with the hard-hitting “On Sight”, which sounds oddly enough like “Come Up and Get Me” by Death Grips. There’s an experimental side to Kanye’s music, and it’s showed here. The distorted bass lines and minimalist structure is signature Rick Rubin style, who stepped up last minute to give these songs that boost of sound. The renown style of minimalism can be found on the amazing track, “Black Skinhead”, and the unique “New Slaves”.
Both of these tracks were in the polarizing SNL performance, and the sound is remarkably different. “New Slaves” sounds the same, but the atmosphere is completely different. The SNL was quite darker and had more tension, while the album version is more prominent with the bass, and there is more of a dynamic shift when the chorus kicks in. “Black Skinhead” definitely feels toned down on the album, which disappointed me hugely. Nonetheless, both songs are highlights on the album thanks to the production by Daft Punk. Even the features by artists like Justin Vernon, Hudson Mohawke, Frank Ocean, and Chief Keef bring a new dynamic to these songs.
Tracks like “Hold My Liquor” and ‘Blood On The Leaves” feel like aggressive versions of songs on his 2008 album, 808’s & Heartbreak. These songs are remarkably better than 808’s, but compared to MBDTF, I feel cheated with them. They don’t have the same creativeness and watchful eye that was on the previous album. There isn’t amount of carefulness put into this album. It almost feels rushed, with a lot of the tracks jumping into one another without any sort of connections.
The song that I enjoyed the most out of any other’s off Yeezus was “Bound 2”. The sample is grade-A typical Kanye, and he kills it lyrically, unlike a lot of songs off this album. What this song does is sum up the entire album up into 3 minutes and 49 seconds. It’s disjointed, melodic, odd, minimal, feels unfinished, and has the most abrupt ending to any album I’ve heard this year. Like the album cover, maybe that’s the point. All there is to the cover is a red rectangular sticker that keeps the album closed. Once broken to listen to the CD, there’s nothing but a blank cover. Kanye leaves it up to us to decide what we think of the music, but more importantly, it shows that he doesn’t care about any outsiders opinion on him. In an interview with The New York Times, he calls himself an outsider as well. I truly get that aspect on Yeezus.
At 40 minutes and 10 tracks, there is no filler found on this album. Before I knew it started, the album was already over. That’s what Kanye West was going for on Yeezus. He’s a man I’ll never understand, but I respect for his ability to stay on top of an industry that eats artists alive. Yeezus is no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it’s an album that will definitely garner a large number of new listeners because of the change in sound compared to older releases. It’s darker, more aggressive, and it’s extremely minimal sound perfected by Rick Rubin is very enjoyable throughout the album. Sadly, tracks like “Hold My Liquor”, “Blood On The Leaves”, and “Guilt Trip” don’t hold up to the bar set by the early songs on the album. The unconventional structure can’t compete against the inconsistency of Yeezus. The highest amount of respect goes out to Kanye for pushing the boundaries, but sadly, the album falls short of the expectations I had. That being said, this is a follow up to the amazing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If another artist released this album, it be highly praised, but that means there must be another Kanye West, and we all know there’s only one in the world.
Same for “New Slaves”:
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.
Here’s the first promo for the album that contains the song, “Baptism”:
Finally, here’s the actual studio version of the epic “Baptism”: