Sound Cloud Sunday

This first month of Sound Cloud Sundays has been a huge success. This week, we bring you great music from Simon Joyner, Portrayal, Mount Eerie, Gold-Bears, Yosowayoso, and Panic is Perfect. Please check out our other weeks, they have really been great.

We have six very diverse tracks for you this week. Please like, comment, share, and contribute! Click on a band’s name if you like what you hear.

Portrayal – Never Adjusted

This duo, comprised of Rob Tranter and Joe Crook, are programing post-punk back beats from the UK. There is certainly something shoegazy about their music, but amid the expansive vocals are clock work staccato guitar melodies. The interplay between these two worlds produces the vintage, atmospheric, and emotional single, Never Adjusted. The time-signatured introduction and fade away of the track have a near proto-Tool (click and listen) quality, if such a thing could be said to exist. However, Portrayal then swings the gorgeously textured song swiftly into eighties goth-pop revival; into a saddened libertine depression. The song is emotional and well crafted. Their full-length is expected in February or March of 2015.

Mount Eerie – Dragon

Phil Elverum, the creative force behind Mount Eerie, has created a mosaic of textures and bucolic elementals. The song is a slowly developing thought. It is cold. It explores the possibility of situating the music within a fabricated environment without sounding cheap or gimmicky. I often describe music in relation to the colors and sensations of seasons. Elverum has guided our senses here.

Gold-Bears – For You

Personally, I am unable file this band under the “Pop-Punk.” This seems somehow misplaced. Gold-Bears could have been an Elephant 6 project. They can be said to share qualities with Neutral Milk Hotel, or Andrew Jackson Jihad, or maybe The Gerbils. The vocals are more imbedded in the fuzzed guitars than Jeff Mangum’s work. The track crescendos with layer after forceful layer of distortion, with a steady drum punching along like wild fists, reminding us what actual drums sound like when they are alive and not roboticized into time. What a great find. I am very interested to listen to this Atlanta band’s full-length Dalliance.

Yosowayoso – Terraformed

This frenetic track comes from Tokyo and was brought to our attention by Takayama Yuji, who himself was featured in the second edition of Sound Cloud Sundays. Yosowayoso is simply an extraordinary prog-math band that is deserving of a global fan base. The band’s angles are sharp as razorblades and yet the power of the rhythm is brutally heavy and blunt. The dual drum kits add a cacophonous yet tightly fitted potency to the logical and crystaline guitars. There is so much energy here, the band plays off the walls while remaining locked in time. See their video below.

Simon Joyner – You Got Under My Skin

Simon Joyner is a musician and poet that deserves tremendous respect, not merely as a old hand among the various Nebraska music scenes, but as a true craftsman–a person who sees his art as his natural form of expression. Joyner is compulsive in his songwriting. He has been around for decades, largely as a secret passed on from mouth to ear, or in basement after-hours. He has become a signpost for music critics wanting to display the depth of their knowledge of the vast body of musical genealogies. Mention his name in a review and you have earned some credit. +2 for me. See a video for One for the Catholic Girls below

Panic is Perfect – Go Go Go

I cannot lie, the French language intro and refrain to this track are what has made me fall in love with this song. The rest of the song revels in the sonic signatures of indie dance that are rightfully boastful and energetic. The band would have rocked the bottom of the old pool at McCarren Park in 2006. They seem poised to move more in the direction of working for a broader audience, which could certainly require them to compromise on the things that make them interesting, but for now I give big props for Go Go Go.

Listen and Comment!

Podcast: Pop Top Five – Favorite Stand-up Comedians

PopTop5

“A group of misinformed goofballs discuss their top five lists of random pop culture topics.”

Pop Top Five – Matt, Rayna, Adam, Kurt

This week on Pop Top Five the gang discusses those depressed creatures known as comedians, the finer points of racism in comedy, the divisive figure of Sarah Silverman, and the brilliant yet somehow unnotable David Cross. We have Adam crowning Bill Hick’s as “the Nirvana of comedy.” They give us the 411 on the parts we need to skip over on Eddie Murphy records. Where is Richard Pryor?

Episode 003Favorite Stand-up Comedians

Please comment, critique, and let the these guys know your Pop Top Five.

Sound Cloud Sunday

This week brings us five new tracks from around the world of Sound Cloud. Please like, comment, share, and contribute! Click on a band’s name if you like what you hear.

Summer Twins – Got Somebody To Dream About

This sister-sister duo from California revisits the 1950’s, bringing us this splendidly written pop song. The lyrics foreground a dreamy summer sunset, reflecting on what it is to have someone else bring meaning to our lives. Importantly, the song does not exactly play into the cliché of the thoughtlessly infatuated girl obsessing over her idolized guy; rather the words are somewhat reflexive, recognizing that it the dream that makes things possible.

The Black Ryder – Let It Go

Though principally a gal/guy duo, the band plays live with a number of guest musicians. Their music is dark and brooding, psychedelic shoegaze, “rhinestone drone.” Comparisons to My Bloody Valentine are very fair. There are elements of the more atmospheric gyrations from the ecstatic jamishness that make up the coolest 5% of The Doors’ catalog. It is yellow opium smoked to some faintly played Mazzy Star tune.

Los Sundowners – A Theme for Sundown

There is not much to be gleaned on the inter-webs about this band. I think they are Australian. Once again there is nostalgia. The song has reinterpreted Latin tones found in other fusions, most notably in the music of Beirut’s March of the Zapotec. The song is somewhat gothic, a burning dusk bringing an unknown something between go-go boot psychedelia and vampyrism.

Sleater-Kinny – Surface Envy

Well, after eight years Sleater-Kinny have finally got the band back together. Of course, the preference would have been to feature an up and comer, but these rockers are just too cool. I was wondering what would happen now that Carrie Brownstein seems to be more famous than Sleater-Kinny has ever been. Corin Tucker’s vocals are a vicious as ever and the band members have not lost their fight amid soft sofas and on-set deli carts.

Kodiak Deathbeds – Don’t Cross That Line

Aside from her amazing band name, I love the simplicity and the steadfast commitment to song craft. Her voice is beautiful and the acoustic is moving. This is approximately where country folk was meant to arrive.

Science Feature: Fibonacci Zoetrope Sculptures

Take a look at this video from The San Francisco Globe. It captures these 3D printed sculptures that when viewed spinning begin to take on a life of their own. Very click worthy. Read the full article here.

 

Update: Here is another one. It is a spinning cake. So rad.

Podcast: Pop Top Five – 80’s Action Movie Heroes

PopTop5

“A group of misinformed goofballs discuss their top five lists of random pop culture topics.”

Pop Top Five – Matt, Rayna, Adam, Kurt

This week on Pop Top Five we meet Kurt, a new podcaster, and Rayna shows everyone what it truly means to be a comedian, “We want to look in your eyes when we’re laughing at you.” Who are your favorite action hero characters from the 80’s? These jokers cover everyone from John McClane to Bruce Leroy. If you want to have an argument about Buckaroo Banzai or Han Solo without having to talk with anyone, this podcast is for you.

Episode 002 – 80’s Action Movie Heroes

Sound Cloud Sunday

This week brings us five new tracks from around the world of Sound Cloud. Please like, comment, share, and contribute! Click on their name if you like what you hear.

Pony Bones – Clyfford

The moment I heard this song I had to get the record. It is loose and almost arhythmic, but it has a barbed fucking hook. Reminds me of mid-nineties college rock—Pavement even less refined—In the Mouth of a Desert recorded in a broom closet—Divine.
 
Lint – Kids Like Us Have It Pretty Bad

This song has a lot of cool things about it—a pitch-bent noodling intro, maybe a glockenspiel, and simple yet abrasive drums (is that snare even real?). Whoa! The chorus exudes youthful bourgeois cynicism. This is Toronto’s strong suit. There is a tinge of Pogues inflected pop punk, but it is relatable and convincingly sincere.
 
Viet Cong – Continental Shelf

So yeah, this Canadian post-punk from Alberta is wonderful. They have a pretty interesting backstory befitting a band whose music seems to harbor seething anger beneath the surface, dusted with moments of pure pop beauty.
 
Stone Cold Fox – Sold

So this is just a fun electronic indie pop song whose sum is greater than its parts. I would dance to this drunk. Brooklyn is an amazing place.
 
Takayama Yuji - 12/23/2014

Hailing from Tokyo, Yuji titles his tracks by their release date. They are all instrumental and angular. They have a math-rockesque sound. In fact, they are not really even songs; they are little possibilities in the vein of Chicago’s Tortoise. I wonder where we’ll see this guy in a few years.

Atlas At Last – A Composition of Functions

Atlas At Last
Atlas At Last
A Composition of Functions
October 31st, 2014
Self Released


 
This EP by D.C./Maryland band Atlas At Last is simply skillful. When a reviewer intends to dismiss a record, he or she might use words like derivative, hackneyed, or clichéd. Atlas At Last has contributed to a precarious genre, and they are saturated with clearly marked influences—yet they do not come off as counterfeit. I am not sure if the band members are old enough to remember when the phrase emotional hardcore became sanctified as a proper genre, with its own cannon and sub-chapters, but A Composition of Functions seems to be the product of a sharp attention to many of the good parts of emo and a disregard for the others. The notion of genre tribute is not appropriate. That is, the band is not a Frankenstein, sewn up bits and pieces of once living things. Perhaps resurgence is a more accurate word, if only because their music bears the temporal signature of a moment that has passed. Certainly, there are a number of bands that ought to be mentioned when writing of Atlas At Last. Isn’t this the most efficient way to review? If you like this, you will love that.

Jim Ward, guitarist for both At the Drive In and Sparta, is a particularly haunting figure within the music of this EP. When writing about contemporary bands that have blatant emo roots, inevitable discussions arise concerning acts like Bright Eyes, a band I greatly admire, or the remarkable, but nevertheless Oberst pinching Titus Andronicus. Neither comparison is really the case with Atlas At Last, though some of their heartfelt eruptions might warrant a juxtaposition. No, the true resemblance would be with Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, one of the greatest vocalists of his generation, though sorely unacknowledged. Nathaniel Hartten decontextualizes this powerful vocal style and moves it onto harder, but no more hardcore, terrain—a move Stewart has done with several influences of his own. Aside from tonal and phrasing aesthetics, Hartten’s lyrics would slip naturally from Stewart’s lips—with the quasi-refrain “My teeth are sharp and crooked; I’m ready to start eating again” bearing the most respectable likeness. This is sincere poetry. The band ever-so-slightly incorporates the one-man-singing, another-man-screaming technique, but on the bright side, Atlas At Last does right what bands like Thursday so often did wrong.

With its first track Function, The EP opens with an exceptional mission statement. Within the first few seconds the listener knows what she or he will be listening to for the remainder of collection. A Composition of Functions is strikingly consistent, but not to a fault. It stays readily within the boundaries of its genre, but does so in a way that builds upon it, rather than simply replicate it. Three more tracks follow; rounding out a prefect amuse-bouche for the full length we hope will come. The EP ends on the same note that it begins on, cleverly suggesting that the recording has neither an ending nor a beginning. It endlessly loops back into itself—“In the wake of waking and finding yourself a desolate isolate, you will, in fractals, leave but not resuscitate.” The theme of repetition is present throughout the EP, each track a different position or scale within the fractal. Each song requires the other, as a collection of paintings that belong on the wall together. Lyrics reference other lyrics as a curated compilation (think Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary). Atlas At Last are self-reflexive about their emo attachments, exhibited in lines like, “Why’d you mute my whining lungs,” but they are troubled without being abysmal. They perform brokenness without pandering. A Composition of Functions is an admirable and extraordinary release, and as long as they can navigate the tight rope of regeneration over duplication, Atlas At Last will have a devoted and credible audience.

-FF