to eleven

Review: Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish EP by jason
December 29, 2011, 10:00 am
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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.


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

Mash-up Monday: Dada Life vs. Usher- “Without the Epic Motherf**ker (DJs From Mars Bootleg Mix) by jason
December 26, 2011, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Mash Up Monday | Tags: , , ,

DJs From Mars put this mashup of Dada Life and Usher together. I’m liking it, and now you are too.

Mash-up Monday: DJ Earworm- “United State of Pop 2011 (World Go Boom)” by jason

Every year, I look forward to the new DJ Earworm mega-mash-up. They’re all amazing.

The To Eleven (South) Holiday Guide by jason

Here at To Eleven South, my girlfriend, I, and J.A.Y.N.O.V.A. MK II(To Eleven’s Sassy Supercomputer) are celebrating the Holiday season. By this, I of course mean we’re having a month long drunk and setting shit on fire because, well, if you’re going to do a thing, you might as well do it crunk.

So here’s the To Eleven South Holiday Guide, with suggestions on how to make your Holiday season as awesome as ours.

Holiday movie: Die Hard. Of course.

Holiday Albums:
A Very Balthrop Christmas
Balthrop, Alabama-A Very Balthrop Christmas.

You can have a listen to it (and, if I’m reading correctly, download it for free? Is that right?) at THE LABEL’S WEBSITE. Lots of great songs, and though one song casually references a rather extreme sex act, it’s between two ladies, so it’s still fun for the whole family.

Peanuts Christmas-Vince Guaraldi Trio
Vince Guaraldi Trio-A Peanuts Christmas.

Christmas in the Stars
Christmas in the Stars

OK. I’ll admit that this one is only even marginally listenable if you are completely trashed, but as the party don’t stop here at To Eleven South, this one’s always on. Also, this album features Jon Bon Jovi before he got famous, died, and came back to life.

NOTE: If I had ANY artistic ability, this space would have a pic of Jon Bon Jovi floating above a cave with the words “He Is Risen” above him.

To Eleven Holiday Cookie Recipe:
Buy some cookies at the store
Soak them in mash liquor until they completely fall apart
Set it all on fire
What are we doing again?

To Eleven Cookies II:
To Eleven Cookies
I made these.

Favorite Holiday Song (not on one of the aforementioned albums.):

Pomplamoose- “Jingle Bells”
Pomplamoose- “Deck the Halls”
Jessica Frech- “I’m Glad I Bought a Hyundai”
Really any Hyundai commercial.*

*I mean, come on! Jeff Bridges does the voice over, except for the end bit that tells you to go to a Hyundai dealer. That’s voiced by the guy who played Flint on G.I.Joe!

And that should get you started with your Holiday celebration. And if your December holiday already came and went, well, I guess you’ll have to take a Mulligan so you can redo it the To Eleven way.

Happy Holiday’s folks! See you when the Holiday hangover passes!


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.