Friday, July 25, 2014
Hamish Kilgour, whether making music with his brother David in The Clean or The Great Unwashed, or co-fronting the greatly underappreciated Mad Scene, has been making music for 30+ years at this point. In all that time though, Kilgour has never released a collection of his own music until now. "Crazy Radiance", the first single off Kilgour's upcoming All of It and Nothing, is not too far removed from music he made with The Mad Scene, all be it presented here in a much more stripped down form. Over a quickly strummed acoustic guitar and distant bass drum booms Kilgour crafts a very intimate pop song, his vocals especially helping to convey this moody, containing an well worn and knowing quality to them. Even when the second guitar comes in to let the track unfold a little, the feeling like he's crafting the song right next to you before your eyes never dissipates.
Pre-order All of It & Nothing here, from Ba Da Bing Records
Friday, July 4, 2014
It's hard to believe it has been three years since Foxes in Fiction have released an album. Not that Warren Hildebrand, the mastermind behind the project, has been completely quite since Swung from the Branches came out. The Alberto EP, various compilation appearances, and a collaborative 7" with Benoît Pioulard were all released in the intermediate time. However, as lovely as those songs were, they couldn't help but feel like stopgaps while Hildebrand was building to something bigger or grander.
"Shadow's Song", the first taste of Foxes in Fiction's second album Ontario Gothic, fulfills that promise. It is a slowly unfolding piece of absolutely gorgeous dream-pop, taking it's time to reveal all its different layers. What starts as something akin to the frail guitar work of Atlas Sound circa Logos quickly gives way to Hildebrand's silky vocals and the track's wonderfully glossy & warm production that blossoms with each guitar strum. Owen Pallett's guest violin work gives the track extra room, letting it expand further and further than it could have on its own. The song's ending, with Hildebrand's almost liquid guitar work trading off with Pallett's violin as the track swells more and more is one of the loveliest movements I have heard in a song all year. "Shadow's Song" is utter and complete dream-pop beauty, with all three years worth of effort shinning brightly in every aspect of this track.
Foxes in Fiction's Website
Pre-order Ontario Gothic here, from Orchid Tapes
Monday, June 30, 2014
Before Liam Betson was a guitarist in Titus Andronicus for the last two years, he was Liam the Younger, creator of ragged indie folk/rock that served as a medium for Betson's dense and near stream of consciousness lyricism. His work is not unlike that of fellow "Titus Andronicus guitarist gone solo" artist Andrew Cedermark, layering this sense of rusticism into their work that gives their music a more aged feeling which in turn better reflects the weariness contained within them.
However, while Cedermark approached his music with a clear love of The Microphones in his heart, Betson's tunes are more lively, a sort of musical jog through what's on his mind. "The Primordial Will", the latest track from the upcoming The Cover of Hunter, uses rolling guitar jangle and shimmering distortion to drive the track. The track sprawls and sprawls, creating a sense like it could never end, Betson unfurls a tale of self-awareness, of knowing the mistakes one will make in a life, being unable to do anything about them, but still longing to change. Betson is addressing someone else in the song, but it's clear that that he's really talking to himself, trying to figure out and map out the himself the best he can. When "The Primordial Will" finally hits its climax, with a small roar of guitar that is pure catharsis, it is still up in the air whether Betson has succeed or not. But at least he tried, and that might be the most important thing of all.
Liam Betson's Bandcamp
Pre-order The Cover of Hunter here, from Double Double Whammy
Monday, June 9, 2014
The Bilinda Butchers have been making synth-filled dream pop for a while now, putting out several excellent EPs and singles for the past couple of years in the vein of the equally underapprciated Depreciation Guild. However, with the band finally announcing the details of their proper debut album, Heaven, something has changed. At least, it feels that way while listening to "Edo Method". Everything about the track feels ramped up, as if it's a Bilinda Butchers track on hyperdrive. It bursts out of the gate, the drumming massively more kinetic & frantic (thanks to the inclusion of newest member Ryan Wansley), and the guitars richly distorted yet it's riffs ringing out crystal clear. Most sticking maybe Michal Palmer's vocals, which are still soft and warm, but now are no longer buried. Instead, they are front and center on the track, and give the song an added urgency that wouldn't have been there otherwise. With "Edo Method", it seems Bilinda Butchers are taking the energetic burst they picked up on "The Lovers' Suicide!" and decided to crank that energy even higher. Which is wonderful because the band wound up melding power pop to dream pop perfectly, and crafted a truly gorgeous song in the process.
The Bilinda Butchers' Website
Pre-order Heaven here, from Orchid Tapes
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Bands change. They evolve. They take in new influences, sharpen their skills, have band members come and go, or some combination of all or none of those things. It's natural. If they didn't, they would wind up making the same album over and over again, and no one wants that, no matter what they say or think. And so it has come that Merchandise have reached that point as well. We can only be thankful that they pulled off their shift so excellently.
For it could be argued that Merchandise have already gone the experimental route, having touched on noise, distortion, and sprawl through their earlier works, such as the still incredible "Become What You Are" or the darkened intensity of "Anxiety's Door". So the only direction they are left with is actually compacting their sound, making it lean and tight, and going from there. That's how you end up with "Little Killer", possibly the closest Merchandise have come to writing an actual pop song. No doubt thanks to Elsner Niño and Chris Horn joining the band properly on drums and guitar respectively has lead to a stability within the group, allowing the band to concentrate on the strengths its been nurturing since the beginning; in this case David Vassalotti's charming but intelligent guitar playing and frontman Carson Cox's passionate & sultry croon. There is a clear '80s romanticism within the track, emphasized by the video it's contained in; a clear, almost cheesy throwback to that time and style. But much the same way that video is clearly a distortion as much as it is an homage to that era, so to is "Little Killer" itself. It's catchiness can't hide the ambivalence and wistfulness that is actually at its core. This may be Merchandise going pop, but they're bringing their bleakness and longing with them.
Pre-order After the End here, from 4AD
Monday, May 26, 2014
The internet’s capacity to make connections, for people to meet and trade ideas in ways that were never before possible, cannot be understated, especially within the modern musical world. We live in a world where some kid in a basement in Wisconsin can record a demo that can be heard by someone in France, and it can become their favorite collection of music and main source of inspiration, and vice versa. There is something honestly magical about that fact, and it should be (and is) celebrate.
This is why I feel there is something so incredible about the those who were once friends are now fam compilation. Originally what was going to be just a mix on Soundcloud of likeminded artists, the curator George realized it was something more and wound up creating a label of sorts to release a tape version into the world. Which is more than deserving because those who were once friends are now fam deserves to be documented. The fifteen tracks here paint a picture of artists, some separated from each other by country or continent, creating something truly intertwined, even as they all approach it with their own style and sound. The quiet indie-pop of Teen Mom Birthday Cake and Sales. The twisty electronica of Yohuna, Cuddle Formation, and Blithe Field. The gorgeous, enveloping dream pop made by Foxes in Fiction and Lo sé. Two unbelievable covers via Emily Reo’s gooey rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, and Sea Oleena’s sparse & goose bump inducing cover of “Crazy in Love”. Even friends Attic Basement and Bulldog Eyes are here vicariously via covers by R. L. Kelly and Imaginary Houses respectively. All these different sounds, styles, and artists sit next to each other with ease, flowing into one another effortlessly. By the time the comp. ends on a compact indie-rock jam from Alex G, it just feels natural that it got there. Everything about those who were once friends are now fam feels like it should exist together; it all feels so beautiful.
Pre-order the those who were once friends are now fam compilation here, from odd castles
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Cremation Lily is Zen Zisgo, a UK artist who for the past few years has been releasing dark, noisy, pieces of electronic ambient music under the guise of Cremation Lily. Up until recently, Cremation Lily releases had been as in the shadows as the music itself, usually taking the form of deeply limited cassettes that would disappear as quickly as they came into existence. Now though, Fires Frame the Silhouette may serve as both a proper sort of introduction and cementing of Cremation Lily to the larger, noisy ambient world. "Iron Pier", off of that album, will mostly likely be the first taste any most people have had with Zisgo's music, and it's a hell of an opening salvo. It lulls the listener in, its opening a single note of dark synth that casts an eerie, tense feel over the track almost instantly. Then the rest of the song kicks in the, the clatter of metal and industrialization serving to flesh out the rest of the track as the synth begins to morph, raising and falling as needed. Zisgo emerges near the end, or at least his vocals do. They're muffled and distorted, allowing only the intensity and fear within them to be conveyed, the one last distinction to "Iron Pier" before it comes to its murky end.
Buy Fires Frame the Silhouette here, from Alter
Monday, May 19, 2014
Something happened during Some Ember's transition from crafting their cassettes to their debut LP. Their two tapes exemplified the coldwave resurgence that had been occurring in the musical shadows for the past few years now. Their was a clear fascination and love of '80s synthpop, the band letting their synths and drum machines run wild while Dylan Travis' monotone (and Nina Chase's crystal vocals on occasion) would pierce through and guide the tracks. "The Thrashing Whip", though, is something else entirely. The synths have a creepy-crawly quality to them, unfurling slowly with a steady pulse, yet intermittently bursting forth with a cascading quality, washing over and disappearing into the track. Travis vocals are now much more soulful, emotive, and the intensity they use to have has been replaced with an almost quiet fear. The track gets darker as it progresses as the synths begin to collapse in on themselves, adding a claustrophobic quality to track as it nears its end, amplified by Chase's vocals fluttering in an out, so airy here they layer perfectly onto Travis', an amplifier of the song's dark tone. "The Thrashing Whip" is a massive step forward for Some Ember, a deeply atmospheric piece of synth work by a band clearly honing in on a new aspect of their sound and fine tuning it to a precise degree.
Some Ember's Facebook
Pre-order Some Ember's self-tilted album here, from Dream
Friday, May 16, 2014
Ricky Eat Acid, aka the nom de plume Sam Ray assumes to craft gorgeous, ambient electronica, already released the stunning Three Love Songs earlier this year, contributed a track to the incredible Boring Ecstasy compilation, and has a new EP on the way as well. Not to mention there are plans for Julia Brown, the indie-pop project he fronts, to release their debut album within the coming months as well. And still, still, within all that work Ray somehow found time to craft something as wonderful as “requiem/ugly sky at night/still sick”. Released seemingly out of nowhere by Ray himself, what’s so stunning about the track is how clearly it’s not something that was just haphazardly thrown into the world. At ten plus minutes, “requiem/ugly sky at night/still sick ” as the feel of a mini-epic, a three part suite that progress slowly, unraveling more and more without you even realizing it. The static hum that is the song’s core morphs further and further, acquiring a quiet intensity as it expands, pulling in compressed satellite signals and electronic hisses to further its growth. It takes its time, washing over whoever’s listening, immersing them completely, only for that feeling to slowly drift away as it ends. “requiem/ugly sky at night/still sick”, is the musical equivalent of staring into a starry sky on fast forward, as you watch the black turn into the faint glow of morning.
Ricky Eat Acid's Website
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
There's not a lot of information about Quirke. Like a lot of producers these days he just suddenly appeared, without name or picture into the musical world. Instead, they've choose to let their music speak for itself, and good god is "Break a Mirrored Leg" one hell of an opening salvo. It's genius lies in the tracks dynamic; the track opens with an eerie yet intriguing ambient intro that sounds like the wind traveling with a warped siren layered over it. Then the track drops for a moment, falling into complete silence before instantly emerging with its true sound, a stuttering, muffled, yet rapid fire beat paired with equally fast, glitched synths that sound as if they were turned off and back on every second. "Break a Mirrored Leg" keeps building, adding inorganic clicks and triggers to keep the tension mounting; the song drops again right in the middle only to burst alive again at somehow a faster momentum. "Break a Mirrored Leg" is the soundtrack to driving down a destroyed, futuristic cityscape in a hovercar. It has the sense of someone starring into the future, only to be shocked and horrified by what they see.
Pre-order Acid Bath EP here, from Young Turks