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Posts Tagged ‘post-rock

This album, to put it short: is incredible. From the subtle, braille covered packaging and insert littered with graphs and equations (thats the reason why you only see a plain green cover here, you have to feel the cover), to the moody post-hardcore that lurks threateningly within, this is just the whole package. If there was any doubt before, this proves that Month of Birthdays are one of the most unique, creative, and downright great bands we’ve got on these shores right now.

For much of the album, you’ve got blissful, mellowed, chilled-out tunes to play late at night and lose yourself in the beauty of. It’s all very tidal. Small waves mind you. But every now and again you get caught up in a huge tsunami like “Of Chickens” which booms out whilst Cath gets all loud. For much of the rest of the time you get super-quiet, meandering songs with lots of repetetive guitar, softly-softly drumming and wandering vocals that soothe and ease you through the small hours if you happen to still be up. Don’t turn the light on. “Anticipated and Intercepted” practically stops in the middle whilst four fifths of the band go off for a cup of tea leaving one person to strum a guitar with the volume on 1.

I guess they recorded some of the songs at lower levels than others intentionally, because this creates a totally wonderful effect of contrast. The quiet songs really are quiet unless you turn them up. Which would kind of defeat the object, as from time to time these quiet songs break into sweeping power without requiring your over attentive ‘help’. Getting back to “Anticipated and Intercepted” again, that one totally unexpectedly introduces some lumbering hardcore chug-chug at one point after seemingly heading down the ‘pretty’ path for much of the song. Inspired! Also, you’ve got to love a song (“Mind Comes To Thoughts”) which uses a sample of a BBC radio travel report and you can even hear cars buzzing past in the distance behind some truly lovely, gentle guitar. No singing until 5 minutes in too. Fucking yes, Month of Birthdays really know how to push my buttons.

It’s tough for comparisons. Some of the really twinkly bits remind me of Rainer Maria, or sometimes the Van Pelt. Perhaps mixed with the moody tendencies and dynamics of Indian Summer? Bob Tilton maybe? But for the band’s sound as a whole, you got me. Yikes, truly an original sounding record! I’m running scared. (Source)

Mind comes to thoughts.

Dischord Records from Washington DC is one of my favourite record labels, because of their history and the bands they released, but much more for their label politics. They are just doing an awesome job and if you like this record just let me insert a short commercial announcement: the vinyl version of this album from 2002 was just re-released, support the artists and Dischord Records. “Different Damage” also is a pretty good example of the label’s “sound”, if it has one.

The problem which I have with a lot of indie/post-punk records is the drums and the bass. Mostly they are so plain, I get bored in seconds. I find that often very sad and I am happy to present one of the groups which are a solution of this problem. First, Q and not U don´t have a bass player. Secondly the trio has John Davis, a genius playing the drums.  But why speak myself, moreover tired and stoned, when others already wrote some fine stuff. Up next a shortened text from Aquarium Drunkard:

Post-punk splintered in two directions some time in the late 70s/early 80s and we’ve been dealing with the relative branches of that tree ever since. There are those who embraced the craggier, more aggressive branch and those who embraced the artier more fractured one. Without question, Washington, D.C.’s Dischord Records was home to bands that embraced both sides of that divide, but one of the finest examples came in the 00s with the rise (and demise) of a band named Q and Not U.

Q and Not U started life as a four piece creating some pretty interesting, though standard sounding, post-punk on their debut. But then their bass player left the fold and it was announced that they weren’t going to replace him. This was an interesting tack as the band seemed to rely on its bass to ground the twin guitars. Where would they go exactly? The answer came in the form of their sophomore album.

One of Q and Not U’s biggest weapons was Davis and his incredibly gifted drumming. His touch is all over the shifting rhythms and start/stops of the album, starting from moment one and “Soft Pyramids.” The album is put together masterfully as the melodica outro of “Soft Pyramids” leads into the breakneck loops of “So Many Animal Calls.” Different Damage is simultaneously a challenging and infectious record. Songs like “Everybody Ruins” deconstruct the very idea of a song with its large introduction gaps, hypnotic and uneasy howls, gradual increase in speed, sudden finish and relapse to the beginning howls, or “O’No” and its short, uneasy drone that feels like a surrealistic beehive. But then comes “Snow Patterns,” a song that would’ve felt at home within Elliot Smith’s able hands, or “Meet Me In the Pocket” and its more traditional verse and chorus, guitar-driven indie rock. All of these moments live at home among each other, balancing ease and unease on the tip of a pin.

The closing pair of “No Damage Nocturne” and “Recreation Myth” bring the album back to a more traditional focus, but are in no way a compromise on the album’s artistic intent. Rather they are the crowning finish to a record that, much like the movement of Post-Modernists did with poetry, embraces the fractured nature of rock and roll and finds in its crevices a non-traditional beauty. Different Damage still sounds as riveting and as forward thinking as it did seven years ago and that is more than enough to name it one of the decade’s best.

Well, you reached the end of the text and if you really struggled your way down to the bottom of the posting to get the link to the record, with some luck you snatched the last sentences and read the words “win `Different Damage´ from Q and not U”. Yes, “Different Damage” on CD for one of you, urbanology ships worldwide! Just tell me why you think you earn the record (nah, don´t search for an email contact, use the comment funtion, it´s a blog buddy). Write whatever you want, I will decide totally subjective on my personal taste. Every language is accepted, but don´t expect that I´ll understand what you write, although this might be also the reason to win. Deadline? Pffffft, when I get a good answer.

Without Deadline.

Come on, say it: Prog. Go on, say it: Prog. Ok and now forget it, cause this is not the prog stuff from your fathers record collection, no old men with Yes posters in their bathrooms. 31 Knots pronounce prog like math rock and they´re speaking a punkrock slang. Minor Threat beats up Pink Floyd, for sure, maybe it will also please your dad. With the second full length from 2003 the band from Portland/OR

continued to impressive with the kind of precise guitar chords and steady rhythms found on the opening track, “A Half Life in Two Movements.” That song seamlessly gives way to the frazzled and charming “Darling, I,” which offers a staggeringly restrained sound that seems ready to blow up at any moment, yet doesn’t. Joe Haege leads the way on guitar and vocals, while bassist Jay Winebrenner and drummers Joe Kelly and Jay Pellicci combine to form one of the more irreverent rhythm sections in indie rock. Kelly left the band soon after the recording of four of the album’s songs in 2002 and was replaced by Pellicci, who took over drumming duties for the March 2003 sessions, which completed the disc. Haege is center stage throughout, setting up the disc’s highlight reel with unconventional guitar chords, unwaveringly fiery vocals, and continuously challenging lyrics on songs like “No Sound,” “We Still Have Legs,” and “At Peace.” “Without Wine” slows down the album’s pace with a reflective acoustic bass dancing with Haege’s narrative metaphors. A mesmerizing bassline leads into the entrancing “Played Out for Punchlines,” while the unsettling “Matters from Ashes” mixes tender tones and vocals with a disconcerting electronic backdrop. Pushing the envelope of the math rock sound throughout, the band’s brash post-hardcore impresses most of all because if its seeming lack of obvious influences. Taking cues from a large pool of bands on It Was High Time to Escape, 31 Knots paints a sound with a wide brush and an array of colors. (Stephen Cramer, All Music Guide)

Catchy and complex, always thrilling – a tight, clean, passionate set of 10 songs that will take more than one listen to understand fully.

“we still have our hearts”

Since 1970’s the Benelux countries became a rich source of experimenting musicians. The leading Belgian songwriter Stef Kamil Carlens was co-founder of the premium band dEUS. Between 1994-96 he recorded with them 3 highly successful albums and also his own legendary Moondog Jr. In 1997 Carlens left dEUS and started equally triumphant Zita Swoon, a band sailing like a magic spaceship between styles of past and future. Critics often struggle when it comes to categorizing the Zita Swoon sound, but retro-wave meets smoky, laid-back lounge blues will do for now. Zita Swoon are cultural nomads, their music is a journey through the long tradition of popular music, going from the absurd funk of Funkadelic over the era of singer-songwriters as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, towards the eclecticism of Tom Waits or Einstürzende Neubauten and the programmed sounds of Aphex Twins, DJ Shadow or Howie B. In a single song a total musical trip experience is to be discovered. A kindred spirit is found in musician as Beck, who feeds every concert and record with references to a long music history.

If there’s a single narrative thread linking the Zita Swoon songs together, it’s Carlen’s overwhelming passion for women and the complex emotional entanglement of love. Consider just the titles of albums like I Paint Pictures on a Wedding Dress (1998), Life = A Sexy Sanctuary (2001) and A Song About a Girls (2004), which proved to be instantly enjoyable, warm recordings with strong songs, lyrics in frensh and english.

A song about a…

I mashed up the info out of these two texts.

Appleseed Cast started as a typical mid-90s Emocore/Postcore band, heavily influenced by Mineral. Their debut record was good, but nothing groundbreaking, the second full length added more self-sufficiency – but nobody did expect what was released in 2001: the low level owl records, the birth of a new Appleseed Cast and now groundbreaking, as Nathan Rooney wrotes at pitchforkmedia about Volume I and II of the low level owl:

Low Level Owl is a supernova and a full redefinition of the band, a sprawling two-disc monster that redirects their ambition from the emotional release of their earlier albums into the meticulous conceptions crafted through endless hours of studio time. Overhauling their sound and incorporating a wide m�lange of styles, Low Level Owl goes a long way towards emasculating any of their previous hardcore influences by injecting a thoughtful, gentler Britpop jangle and winsome vocals and harmonies. The result is a mix of elements combining the enterprising studio conceptions of Radiohead with touches of shimmering Stone Roses psychedelia knitted together with the conviction and energetic drumming of the early U2, all draped over a monolithic prog-rock conceptual framework.

The technical execution throughout the album is flawless. The rock tracks are spread evenly across both Low Level Owl discs (which are available separately– Use Your Illusion-style– presumably so as to not overwhelm listeners) and are interspersed with instrumental and ambient tracks that act as connective tissue. Josh Baruth’s fantastic drumming is placed in the front of the mix and propels all of the traditional songs. Each of the tracks are awash in keyboards with the vocals generally lying low in the mix, making the lyrics difficult to decipher. These are the only constants through the entire work as Appleseed Cast takes you on a tour through most of the highlights of 90s pop and rock.

Both albums are balanced, each beginning and ending with instrumentals and connected in the middle by the droning “View of a Burning City” that ends the first disc and picks back up on the second. The combination of “The Walking of Pertelotte” and “On Reflection” clocks in at 8� minutes, and bookends the front of the project. Over an hour and forty-five minutes later, “Confession,” a nine-minute ambient head-trip closes the second disc. Both albums last fifty three minutes. Just the arrangement of the music alone shows the amount of thought that goes into an album of this size.

Hints of other bands occur throughout– from the Stone Roses in “Mile Marker,” to My Bloody Valentine in “The Argument,” to Built to Spill in “Reaction”– all embedded a lush wave of production reminiscent of the Flaming Lips, Spiritualized or Mogwai. There are also elements of Brian Eno and Aphex Twin that pop up during the ambient sections, and tracks like “Flowers Falling from Dying Hands” which remind me of Sonic Youth’s “Providence.”

Needless to say, Appleseed Cast have come a long way since that 1998 debut of frail failure. With Low Level Owl, they establish their own unique vision for the future of rock, offering hope and brighter possibilities for the genre– or rather, creating their own. These two albums have generated an incredible amount of hype in small sects of the indie rock population, while most who haven’t been privy to the band’s peerless new sounds still associate the band with their sensitive suburban roots. It’s time to look past the stereotype and herald Appleseed Cast for what they are now, and what they’re about to become: groundbreaking.

ring the warning bell!

The band from Fugazi bassist Joe Lally, Frodus guitarist Shelby Cinca and Frodus drummer Jason Hamacher, formerly known as The Black Sea. For their debut full length from 2004 they spent eight months of recording intermittently in their home studio and continue on the hard-edged driven way, with razor sharp guitars and pounding drums. Cinca tends to deliver his lyrics with ragged shouts, but also exhibits impressive control over his screams, which at times manage to border on melodic. Lally’s smooth, even tenor, meanwhile, offers a balance that’s highly effective in driving home the political rage that seethes within the band’s lyrics. But this rage sometimes could been presented in more poetic lyrics, they are too simplistic sometimes. But the music is still fantastic, once you hear the rhythm section starts creating solid grooves amongst all the crashing guitars, you just can’t turn it off, Decahedron grabs you by the throat right from the start! It is a memorable post-hardcore full-length debut and if you liked the Black Sea EP (or Frodus and Fugazi), you have to get this one!

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