Jeff Lynne – Long Wave album review

“At Last”, isn’t just track 8 on Jeff Lynne’s new album. It also sums up the feeling of anyone who’s been waiting for this album to come out, since his debut album Armchair Theatre 22 years ago in 1990. However, being somewhat of a mega-producer, super-collaborator, and star-contributor, no one has actually been kept waiting for new material from Lynne. You may remember some of his work if you’ve ever heard of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, consisting of Dylan, Harrison, Lynne, Orbison, and Petty. (You know its a supergroup when there is no need to list the artists’ first names.) He’s also produced and contributed to albums by a number of great artists like The Beatles, Tom Petty, and Regina Spektor.

Since this album is made up of covers, those who have been waiting around to hear some great new songs from Jeff Lynne may have to wait a ‘little’ longer (a new album is rumoured for 2013). The songs on the album are all classics ranging from the 40s to the 70s and the album, as stated by Lynne, is a tribute to the songs he listened to on the radio while growing up in the U.K.. Lynne is a brilliant producer and masterful musician and his take on these songs shows it. The album itself sounds like something from the 70s which pays great respect to the classics being covered. Rather then overly update, alter, or rewrite the songs, (which some might fear the frontman from Electric Light Orchestra to do) Lynne chose to use simple arrangements with classic instrumentation. Feeling nostalgic for some classics from the 40s? Wanting to hear some great guitar riffs from the 70s? Well, this album has it all!

Satellite Stories – Phrases To Break The Ice album review

It’s time to put your party hat(s?!) on because Satellite Stories demand nothing less in their fun-filled album Phrases To Break The Ice.

Singer-guitarist Esa, guitarist Marko, bassist Jyri and drummer Oli-Pekka formed in October 2008 in Oulu, Finland. Even if by 2010 these Scandinavian satellites had only a 3-tracked promo EP to their name, their SoundCloud demo plays boasted remarkable numbers and led them to be the most blogged about Finnish band of that year. They’ve also graced international crowds with their party-based indie-pop sound through European and Japanese touring. In August 2012, the quartet also added to their list of achievements top ranking status amongst hypem.com’s most popular band list and the number one spot on We Are Hunted remix charts. The band has also had songs play in MTV’s Jersey Shore show.

Phrases To Break The Ice—released on September 21st, 2012 on XYZ Berlin Music—marks the band’s first full-length release. It encompasses all their previous single releases so that you may rest easy knowing you’re not missing a beat—literally. Their sound entails incredibly catchy, upbeat indie rock with a hint of electronic dance influence. Basically, you’ll be dancing and singing along and enjoying every minute of it. “Kids Aren’t Safe In The Metro” channels new experiences and hopeful love while “Helsinki Art Scene” addresses self-realization and defying conventional scenes to the sound of an infectious guitar riff. “Mexico” and “Costa Del Sol ‘94” reflect the fearless youth-driven longing for escape to exotic locations, contrasting “Mt. Foreverest”—a gentle, acoustic reflection on life that figures as the album’s only slow track.

With its youthful approach, catchy choruses and energetic beats, Phrases To Break The Ice does just that, and quite irresistibly so. The sense of nostalgia mixed with the invincibility of youth give the album a pleasantly familiar feel.

An escape to unadulterated bliss you’ll long to make on a repeated basis.

Freelance Whales – Diluvia album review

Freelance Whales conjures up sounds that shimmer and coalesce, only to break apart again into new forms. This four year old five piece creates beautiful indie-pop masterpieces, mini-epics of subtle aural fragility.

So much of the overall sound of the band reflects Judah Dadone’s personality. The lead vocalist for the band, his vocals are imbued with an emotional fragility; the words emerge through his voice, an ethereal instrument, delicate and introspective.

Doris Cellar, the sole woman in the band, provides interesting contrast; her tone and overall presence are much more direct, though no less emotive.

All of this engaging vocalizing unfolds in the middle of an orchestrated barrage of synthesizer textures and a style of writing that takes traditional song structures and morphs them, rendering them as set pieces which unfold in the moment. At times there is a minimalist quality to the arpeggiations and other accompanying figures, almost in the vein of Phillip Glass. At other times there is an understated grandiosity, synth washes in the upper register and churning bass synths in the lower. Check out ‘Dig into Waves’.

The eleven tracks on the album definitely play out as a winding journey. Track seven, ‘Red Star’, feels like the beginning of the second half. The break between it and the preceding one, the aforementioned ‘Dig into Waves’ takes on a monumental quality when ‘Red Star’ commences. ‘Red Star’ displays their sense of drama, pacing and development; the drums don’t kick in until halfway through the second minute.

Aside from that, I don’t want to say too much more. Words muddy the process. There’s poetry in the music, and poetry in the lyrics. The songs are well written and the band seems to attack the process of developing the material by treating the instruments as a palette; there’s a sense of orchestration about the whole thing. The melodic line of the vocal part is truly the backbone of the songwriting process, not just one of the elements. The end result is beautiful and intriguing.

Dark Dark Dark Unveil Video For “Tell Me”

Dark Dark Dark’s new record, Who Needs Who, was released earlier this month to quite the acclaim. The gorgeous ballads and waltzes found within are anchored by Nona Marie Invie’s evocative vocals and the band’s lush arrangements. One of the album’s standouts, “Tell Me,” has been brought to life in this visually stunning video directed by Isaac Gale, a Minneapolis native who has done videos for Bon Iver, P.O.S, Colin Stetson and Poliça. The video shows Nona isolated from the rest of the world, donning a Space Odyssey helmet, and traversing the backwoods of forgotten memories in search of something, anything familiar. The video premiered earlier today on Noisey.

DARK DARK DARK TOUR DATES:

Tue. Oct. 30 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom w/ Emily Wells

Thu. Nov. 1 – Santa Rosa, CA @ Arlene Francis Theatre w/ Emily Wells

Fri. Nov. 2 – Oakland, CA @ The New Parish w/ Emily Wells

Sat. Nov. 3 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill w/ Emily Wells

Mon. Nov. 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex w/ Emily Wells

Tue. Nov. 6 – San Diego, CA @ Luce Loft w/ Emily Wells

PRAISE FOR WHO NEEDS WHO

“they confronted the turmoil and emerged on the other side with something beautiful.” – UTNE Reader

“Dark Dark Dark is the musical equivalent of the dialogue Noah Baumbach writes: You’re never sure what will happen next, which is how dialogue in real life feels-but paying that extra attention, and allowing yourself to be surprised, will reward you with piercing, comforting insight.” – Bitch Magazine

“The best of the chamber folk act’s burgeoning career…Who Needs Who is filled with poignant and playful songs augmented by piano, string, and brass arrangements, as well as Invie’s penetrating vocals.” – Minneapolis City Pages

“This Minneapolis-based collective confronts emotional intensity with immediate poise and clarity.” – ALARM Magazine

“Who Needs Who is not just the latest Dark Dark Dark album, it’s also the latest great album that should be taught in schools and known by all citizens.” – LEO Weekly

“unusual musical flairs pop up all over Who Needs Who, from polka to French chanson, Baltic billows to vaudevillian drama, but…the style never becomes the substance.” – Pitchfork, 7.4

“one of the stronger albums I’ve heard this year” – Ghettoblaster

“swoony piano melancholy” – Entertainment Weekly

Indian Handcrafts album out today, full stream at SPIN, “Bruce Lee” video posted Tour with Red Fang, Black Tusk launches soon

Indian Handcrafts album out today, full stream at SPIN, “Bruce Lee” video posted Tour with Red Fang, Black Tusk launches soon

“It leans mightily into a spastic sludge-funk groove that could give chills to fans of Maggot Brain-era Funkadelic and Big Business alike – and maybe pop fans, too, since both dudes have voices that are elastic like metal Minaj. Call it a prog-glurp masterwork.” — SPIN

Canadian power-duo Indian Handcrafts release their Sargent House debut album Civil Disobedience For Losers today. The entire disc is streaming via SPIN Magazine. The first official video, for the song “Bruce Lee” is available.

Indian Handcrafts also take to the road in November with Red Fang and Black Tusk. Please see complete dates below.

Pitchfork recently premiered ferocious song “Terminal Horse”, available to download/stream.

The Toronto band’s sophomore release, Civil Disobedience For Losers was recorded in Los Angeles back in March with engineer Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business ).

Everything about Canadian power-duo Indian Handcrafts seems to defy possibilities: a two piece that’s louder than a hundred bands, kicking out one of the year’s most riff-rollicking albums that was recorded while the guitarist had a broken hand! They’re two friendly, soft-spoken Canadian guys sounding like the Funkadelic Mothership crash landing on top of the Planet Caravan in Interstellar Overdrive.

Indian Handcrafts’ well honed, massive melodic heft seems to belie the simplicity of instrumentation between drummer/vocalist Brandyn James Aikins and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Brandon Allen. While their songs feature hints of heavy, technically skilled bands like Big Business, Hella and Tweakbird, there are also strong melodies and a vocal intensity inviting comparisons to artists ranging from Death From Above 1979 to Jack White. Top that all off with a rhythmic groove reminiscent of a hybrid of ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres and Funkadelic’s Standing On The Verge of Getting It On and it’s clear that Indian Handcrafts are much, much more than the sum of their parts.

Bursting out of Barrie, Ontario this pair of charming gentlemen immediately impacted the world with a self-released 8-song debut album in 2011. Cathy Pellow of Sargent House quickly took notice and signed the band on to management and the label. Shortly thereafter, Civil Disobedience For Losers was recorded in Los Angeles with Kasai and featuring special guest appearances by Melvins drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis. Even with such superfriends assisting the proceedings, Indian Handcrafts prove their own exceptional strengths throughout the album.

“The doctor said if you go and record that’s your problem if it gets worse,” Allen explains of recording with a broken hand. “It was a little painful some days, but because of being there in the surroundings it was easy to get around that. It healed fine.” Overall, the duo says the recording came together very quickly under Kasai’s guidance, but it’s the bond between Aikins and Allen that gives Indian Handcrafts its lean, ferocious personality. “We first started this band when playing in another band that was pissing us off,” Aikins says. “We were the two who always got along. I can’t ever see us having anyone else in the band. Unless Toshi played tambourine.”

Civil Disobedience For Losers will be available everywhere on LP, CD and download on October 30th, 2012 via Sargent House.

INDIAN HANDCRAFTS live:
11/02 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern

INDIAN HANDCRAFTS with RED FANG & BLACK TUSK:
11/10 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
11/11 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
11/12 Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus
11/13 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East (Downstairs)
11/15 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
11/16 Detroit, MI @ The Magic Stick
11/17 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
11/19 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
11/20 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Urban Lounge
11/21 Boise, ID @ Neurolux

IH-CDFL
Artist: Indian Handcrafts
Album: Civil Disobedience For Losers
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: October 30, 2012

01. Bruce Lee
02. Red Action
03. Starcraft
04. Zombies
05. Worm In My Stomach
06. Terminal Horse
07. Coming Home
08. Centauri Teenage Riot
09. Truck Mouth
10. The Jerk
11. Lion at the Door

The Night of Nero

The night of Saturday October 27th brought the most festive Halloween party-goers to the Hammerstein Ballroom to become entranced in Nero’s set.  After Adventure Club’s set ended with the two beautiful singles, “Crave You” and “Need your Heart,” everyone was ready for Nero to hit the stage.

Smoke stacks filled the area with a foggy haze which was a fitting introduction considering the festive night.  The show began with heavy dubstep layered with loads of grimey beats.  Nero definitely brought their UK flavor to the US! Amongst the other songs they played from Welcome Reality, they also incorporated a remixed song by Drake, Justice’s “Stress,” and Daft Punk’s “Technologic.”

Once the first chapter of the set came to an end, Alana took the stage and opened with the beautiful single, “Promises.” Between Alana’s melodic voice and Nero’s signature sounds, the audience was captivated through the set’s entirety.

The light show was in full affect, the ballroom’s rafters were shaking, and spooky Halloween costumes took over the dance floor, which all created the perfect setting to a great night. Nero, you did it again.

State Maps – Killer Hill Day album review

Ladies and gentlemen: please welcome State Maps to the stage. For if it’s cool indie rock jams you want then look no further than the unsigned group’s new debut album, Killer Hill Day. The rock quartet is here to make a lasting impression and from what I’ve heard so far I don’t see them fizzling away. The overall concept of the album strikes superficial similarities with the work of popular group, Wilco with authentic undertones of classic rock. Balancing drums, guitar, bass, organs, and a variety of carefully positioned noises and alterations, State Maps does very well to establish a sound that sticks in the corner of your head. After just one listen, curiosity leads one back. A complete album is hard to find these days—one that flows from beginning to end. Killer Hill Day does not disappoint. State Maps, I’m happy that we can get acquainted.

For a quick taste, to test the tempestuous waters of the vast foreboding world of “new music,” jump to title track, “Killer Hill Day.” Rest assured, it grooves and suggests toe-tapping. The organ adds an especially fond flavor to the chorus, a piano and drums guide you through seamlessly to the end, and the signature throaty vocals of the group are best exhibited here. For further listening, “John Cazale,” sounds like a track from a past era but in all the best ways. Again, this is a track which beckons familiarity with the work of Wilco. And the claps are rad. The very next track, following “John Cazale,” adds a little artistic dissonance and dance-ability that at least one track on a Indie Rock album should have. Further listening: “The Piping’s Standard” is a wonderful song. It manifests the same sorts of feelings I get from the Grateful Dead or the Steve Miller Band, personally, communicating that very same easy-going attitude. Don’t stop there and don’t just listen to the tracks mentioned here, however. You’ll find that a complete listen is most rewarding.

I give Killer Hill Day two thumbs up. It’s a great revamp of classic rock notions and has a uniquely impressive quality to it. State Maps sound like grizzled veterans. My guess is you’ll start hearing this album quite a bit in a short time. For now, listen to it before everyone else. You’ll be the coolest kid on the block.

Black Marble – A Different Arrangement album review

Black Marble is a Brooklyn based band consisting of Chris Stewart and Ty Kube (previously of Team Robespierre fame), and a whole lot of synthesizers.  Their first full-length LP “A Different Arrangement” was released earlier this month by Hardly Art records. With a synth-pop feel, this album will transport you right back to 1985, or perhaps the first time you turned on a Depeche Mode record.  Although they share a similar dark quality to other bands of it’s genre, there are strong melodic patterns laced through every track, making each individual song something a little cold and sometimes dark, but refreshing to listen to.

Song’s like “Last” (which is ironically 9 out of 11 tracks) have a strong rhythmic lead-in before allowing heavy, haunting tones to fill out this band’s sound.  Vocals are never the front man for their often times lyricless music, but placed over as a top layer adding dimension to the album on the whole.  Unfortunately for a girl like me who swoons over romantic words and whimsical vocal runs, it didn’t sit right in my ear-holes, but musically their sound is not threatened by it’s absence.

Black Marble definitely lack’s a presence on the internet (the band’s website is currently nonexistent), and they are performing primarily in their home state of New York with no larger scale tours on the horizon.  But they have been listed as a band to watch in 2012 by more than one critic, which makes sense with the rise of synth-based artists in the past few years.  The whole album is available to hear on Spotify, and is worth a listen. Though, this band will probably not ever exceed the success of the two men’s individual efforts as DJs, and joint effort creating mixtapes for other bands with a bit more popular appeal.

Two Hours Traffic – Siren Songs EP review

Ah the humble EP. This time, it’s Prince Edward Island’s Two Hours Traffic and their Siren Song EP, an uplifting example of their self-proclaimed “pop ‘n’ roll”. They’ve upped the ante since 2009’s “Territory”, an album widely considered to be a smash, a serious home run for Canadian music.

Siren Songs is anything but: the rollicking 4 tracks are a true showcase of the 3-piece’s energy. “Amour Than Amis” is like a freight train, good for hauling yourself out of bed. Liam Corcoran explained that the band tried to explore the ideas of love from multiple angles. “Audrey” is self-affirming testament to this, with the narrator saying he has love to give. “Feel Alright,” with its dominating drum line, makes a short but super sweet point, and the final track, “I Did What I Could”, takes a sharp turn into folk, and describes a simple love story, the sacrifices a man makes to better himself for his girl. Compared to the preceding 3 tracks, it’s a pared down companion but is made all the more powerful because of it.

The true grit of an EP is whether the listener searches out the band’s previous work. Let’s just say this review took a lot longer than you might expect. Two Hours Traffic are currently on a fall tour; check them out if you can.

The Bad Plus – Made Possible album review

Jazz always puts me in a good mood. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s fun, yet it can also be soothing, and emotional. Jazz is highly underrated in today’s music. You can ask anyone from generation Z what “jazz” is and they probably won’t know what it is, as saddening as that is.

If it is anything I picked up from any of my music class I’ve ever taken, it’s that jazz was the first to revolutionize music. It’s difficult to explain this, but there is something about jazz that captures that essence of wonderment and captivates you in every single rhythm of soul.

When I was assigned to write about The Bad Plus, they sounded like a hard-core rock band. I’ve never really associated a name like that with jazz, but what’s in a name, to quote Shakespeare.

The Bad Plus is a jazz trio hailing from Minnesota. Their new album, Made Possible, is their 8th studio album. To understand a little more about their music, I listened to some of their previous studio albums and let me just say, I am shocked.  The music that this band creates is truly unexplainable. It’s bubbly, but it’s also mesmerizing.  “Pound by Pound,” and “Seven Minute Mind,” are an eclectic mix of loud and powerful piano keys, clashing cymbals, and soothing bass. They create so many different sounds it’s mind boggling, but I absolutely love it! It’s so different and angular; far more diverse than anything I have heard on the radio or produced from any band. It has so much meaning and soul, even if there aren’t any words. The music just flows; it’s so fluid.

“Re-elect That,” and “Wolf Out,” are groovy and quirky. Their music just puts a big smile on my face. I absolutely fell in love with this band. I always manage to find a fault in any artist’s music, but I could not seem to find any in The Bad Plus or in their new album. They are wonderfully brilliant and I highly encourage you readers to take a listen.