to eleven


Review:Tours- Stay by jason
January 5, 2012, 10:24 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , ,

Tours-Stay EP
Tours-Stay EP. Bobby Cahn Records, 2011.

You may remember me going on about TUMBLEwoof, the mash-up producer behind the brillians Phoenix & Lil Wayne EP. Well, Dylan Sieh, the man behind TUMBLEwoof, is back with a new project: Tours.

Tours’ EP, Stay is a dreamy little electronic album. That’s really the best adjective for it: dreamy. You’re not going to get up and dance to this stuff, but you might sway in your seat with your eyes half open. And that’s not to say that Stay is boring because it’s not at all. There are layers of sound washing in and out like the tide. For electronic music, it has a real warmth, a natural rhythm that’s soothing rather than jarring.

What I think is most striking is that on my first listen, I could hear that this was TUMBLEwoof. Even though Phoenix & Lil Wayne was a derived work made from the music of others, this sounds like it was made by the same guy. Considering he’s putting this stuff together presumably on his home computer, that’s impressive.

Stay is available on Tours’ Bandcamp page for a dollar (or more if you really like it).



Review: Windhand – Windhand by Jayson
January 2, 2012, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Metal, Review | Tags: , ,

Windhand album cover

Ah… this was out in September. I can’t really explain why I didn’t review it then. I apologize for that.

Ok, so fun fact about me: I hate trad doom. It’s not something I scream from the top of the mountains, mostly because I don’t want to razz the legions of trad doom fans out there, some of whom are pals. I think it’s because a lot of what I’ve heard, even some of the really admired stuff in the genre, skews more toward “doing my Ozzy impression” than “this is the stylistic basis of my approach to music.” It’s a focus on duplicating the sounds of a specific band at a specific moment in time, rather than the deeper level of the stuff that basically made doom, doom.

My point in even bringing all that up is that Windhand ain’t do any of that. They’re playing trad doom crafted in the tradition of their mightiest forebear(s), not auditioning for a Sabbath cover band. Yeah, the riffs are crushing and the vocals eerie, but this is managing to feel both fresh and familiar at the same time. This is one of those records that is so good it doesn’t need a masters thesis of a review. This slays.

Buy it from Forcefield Records. Do this now.

– Jayson



Review: Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish EP by jason
December 29, 2011, 10:00 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , ,

Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish
Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish EP. Self-released, 2011.

One word comes to mind while I listen to Elephant Goes West’s EP Whirling Dervish: Beatlesque. Specifically, Paul-McCartney-post-Sgt. Pepper-Beatlesque. They have that kind of timeless-yet-old-timey thing that a lot of bands I’ve listened to lately have. I don’t know if that means this is a trend in music or just in my listening habits, but it’s a thing.

For the most part, the album is pretty innocuous, even when their songs are about a failing relationship, as in “First Time/Last Time.” It’s still pretty by-the-numbers pop music. That is, until the final track, “Apples.” On “Apples,” well, I’m not sure what’s going on. A recording of someone talking about how the Wisconsin Public Sector unions were warring against their neighbors and how Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme. These clips bookend a McCartneyesque pop song. I’m not sure what the band’s doing here…on one hand, this could be a pro-libertarian message. On the other hand, the mechanical distortion they put over it makes the whole thing sound kind of like the infamous Max Headroom pirate broadcast. I usually don’t like music to have a strong political message, but as I’m not sure what the message is here, I’ll let it slide this time.

All told, Whirling Dervish is a great little EP that leaves me anticipating their upcoming album. Whirling Dirvish can be downloaded from the band’s Bandcamp page for free.
-jason



Review: Bleaklow – The Sunless Country by Jayson
December 28, 2011, 9:42 am
Filed under: Post-rock, Review | Tags: , ,

Bleaklow The Sunless Country album cover

Oh man, here is some guilt. Got this two months ago. So apologies to Bleaklow. This is the catching up.

The Sunless Country, actually the title of a really good novel, falls into that vein of more rocking post-rock. This is that higher energy stuff, reminds me a lot of Pelican and Caspian a lot. As I listened to it, its one continuous track, although you can get it broken down into it’s shorter individual movements. It never meanders, but still you have to be the kinda person that enjoys sitting through a nearly 24 minute long track. I am, you may be better served with smaller doses.

Here is the basic deal with Bleaklow. To be honest, these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they don’t have to. This is good stuff. They’re destroying it here. I am more lately in the mood for the higher energy post rock and this really hit the spot. A good band in this genre is like a pretty woman or an excellent meal, just the kind of thing I never tire of. I would buy this if it wasn’t given to me, and would certainly love to see them play should they ever find themselves touring the States.

Highly recommended for every post-rock fan out there.

Get it at their Bandcamp. 

– Jayson



Review: Aelter – Dusk Dawn & Follow You Beloved by Jayson
December 27, 2011, 10:56 am
Filed under: Ambient, Review | Tags: , , , , ,

Aelter Dusk Dawn album cover

Aelter is a project from Wolvserpent guitarist Blake Green.

So after reading the promotional copy and listening to both of these albums, I am going to lead in by apologizing to Blake. I don’t read sinister out of these albums. That is just me, but I feel like I have to apologize anyway. Aelter doesn’t tread into territory that I want to stay away from. I will buy and use adjectives like “bleak” “dark” and “beautiful.” In terms of a space created by the sound, something about the way I’m wired makes me want to move into the sound, not away from it.

Dark I’ll buy though, completely. The layered, nuanced approach – quiet guitars, languid vocals (absent on the earlier Dusk Dawn) – give Aelter a processional, almost funereal feel. That and what I think Aelter is most evocative of is the winter light of your northern climes. When Bob Mould sang about seeing nothing but gray he nailed the description, but not the feeling. Aelter nails the feeling. Dead on. I guess that’s where the lack of perception of sinister comes from. The most on both Dusk Dawn & For You Beloved really seems post-discomfort and into a place where having accepted the bleak and the dark, you find yourself able to see the beauty in both. Make no mistake, this is beautiful music.

Available on Crucial Blast

– Jayson



Review: Dana Falconberry-Though I Didn’t Call It Came by jason
December 22, 2011, 11:25 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , ,

Dana Falconberry Though I Didn't Call It Came
Dana Falconberry-Though I Didn’t Call It Came. Crossbill Records, 2012.

Dana Falconberry’s new EP, Though I Didn’t Call It Came is a good example of how inadequate labels can be for music. I could call this a folk album, or even Americana, what with the acoustic guitars, and violins. And reading the lyrics, such as on “Maple Leaf Red” where Falconberry sings, “Brook feather green, robin egg blue/ penstemon lavender I dream of you,” as well as the albums many references to a specific, outdoorsy locale (in this case, Northern Michigan) it would be easy to assume that this is just folk music.

Sonically, however, the story’s a bit more complicated. There’s a string quartet, a harp player, and even some wine glasses at one point. See, when I think of folk music, I think of music that is easily transportable, music that would sound just as at home if played on a front porch in the woods as it would on a stage. On “Petoskey Stone” in particular, there’s a lot of subtle instrumentation going on. In fact, especially on that song, I’m reminded more of Andrew Bird than any folk musician.

I guess this is the counter to the argument I made a couple of months ago when I said that certain genres were dead languages, citing folk as a genre for historical reinactors. Dana Falconberry is making folk music for today, so I stand corrected.

Though I Didn’t Call It Came is out on January 24, 2012, on Crossbill Records.

-jason



Review: Red Orchid – Blood Vessels & Marshmallows by Jayson
December 20, 2011, 10:27 am
Filed under: Review, Rock | Tags: , , , ,

Red Orchid - Blood Vessels & Marshmallows cover art

I miss the alternative rock. As a genre label there was a point in time where it was pretty valid and what I liked about it was that it communicated a broad and general sense of the prevailing trends in music rather than the hyperspecific genre descriptions that populate today’s musical discourse. The whole reason I bring this up is because Blood Vessels & Marshmallows makes me think of alternative rock in the best sense of the golden age thereof. Red Orchid is progressive rock though too. Progressive-alternative. And the strain of progressive that runs through it is a very true, classic style. Very King Crimson when it wants to be. All this leads up to one of the things I like most about Sanmeet Sidh’s take on the genres he’s fusing together in Red Orchid; the accessibility. Not that I mind, but a lot of the stuff I review personally is kind of “one step beyond” in terms of its experimental nature. Red Orchid is something I’d recommend to anyone, so I am. I’m recommending you check out this album, all of you.

Blood Vessels & Marshmallowsis available directly from the artist on CD with a 6 panel signed digipack accompanied with an immediate free download.

Also available as a download on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and Bandcamp. 

– Jayson