to eleven

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: 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


Review: Russian Circles – Empros by Jayson
October 26, 2011, 12:51 pm
Filed under: Rock | Tags: , ,

Russian Circles Empros

Here is the general preamble about my overall like of the “post-rock” sound and Russian Circles previous work. Done.

While sticking within the now fairly defined conventions of the genre, Empros sounds like an exercise in increased contrast. The loud parts are borderline metal. In the first 30 seconds of the first track, you could almost expect the black metal vocals to kick in. The loud bombastic parts are LOUD and BOMBASTIC. By contrast the quiet pretty parts are really quiet and pretty, almost sweet really. I’ve said with every review like this, that I always imagine some kind of narrative structure behind the music, some invisible story these kind of albums of this kind of music are the soundtrack to. With Empros, the movie is less the Oscar winner for best picture and more the nominee for best special effects. It’s not the soundtrack to the serious movie that’s going to confront some long held belief of yours in a deep but trite way. This is the soundtrack to some kind of Jerry Bruckheimer meets Disney/Avatar THIS IS ABOUT SERIOUS ISSUES BUT ALSO EXPLOSIONS AND A SEXY FEMALE LEAD movie. And you know what? That’s fine. Seriously. I am really good with that. Empros is just as technically competent as a lot of the stuff going on in the post-rock now, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun.

I am totally cool with that too.

– Jayson

Review: Collapse Under The Empire – Shoulders & Giants by Jayson
October 3, 2011, 9:45 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , ,

We (being Matt and I) really enjoyed 2010’s EP The Siren’s Sound and this year’s Black Moon Empire split.

CUTE are back with their latest full length effort, Shoulders & Giants. This is what I have to say about it:

Collapse Under The Empire are one of the best post-rock bands playing, top 3 in the entire world. They’re also the single best post-rock band incorporating electronic elements.

Shoulders & Giants therefore is one of the best records I’ve heard this year. With every new release they get better. This is a more open and isolated sound than on previous releases, but they album has a conceptual basis in a journey through a landscape like what you see on the cover art; bleak, isolated, but also totally free and removed and free. If you’re a post rock fan and haven’t checked CUTE out yet, now’s the time. Likewise if you don’t even know what the term means, this is a great album to jump on with.

Shoulders & Giants will be out on 21 October on Sister Jack.

Disclosure from Collapse Under The Empire on Vimeo.

– Jayson

Review: Spaces – Nothing Exists But Atoms And The Void by Jayson
August 23, 2011, 9:05 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , ,

One of the dangers of a genre becoming codified is the potential for stagnation. Creating music inside of established parameters begs the question of ‘what are you going to do with this?’ So while I lead off with this it’s not like I’m setting up a thing where I call Spaces derivative. Part of what makes this interesting for me is how musicians answer that question.

So yeah, Spaces are playing within the relative confines of what we can pretty safely call post-rock. They have something of a Pelican-y vibe going. What is cool about their sound is that they’re adding to the sound of the overall post-rock canon. There’s almost a minimalist surf vibe at time, some really lush sounds that remind me a lot of the Mermen. As the album progresses there are also jazz and space-rock influenced bits. I especially like the multi-instrumental approach to all this. Everything sounds right, for a lack of a better way to put it. Listening to Nothing… reminds me of a liquor or wine tasting where you’re talking about hints and notes. Hints of jazz, some well-defined space-rock notes. It’s possible to do post-rock without the bombast and crescendo. Spaces are making that music. That’s how they’re answering the question.

Edge of Forever

Spaces bandcamp. 

– Jayson

Review: Her Name Is Calla – The Quiet Lamb by Jayson
October 29, 2010, 10:10 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , ,

Let me start by saying that The Quiet Lamb is an amazing record. So much so in fact, that I really didn’t have any idea what to say about them to start this review off.

Sophie from the band contacted me about their new record, because I am down as liking post rock. What Her Name Is Calla are doing here is so much more expansive than the conventions that have come to define the genre, that it’s not an entirely fair or accurate description. A big part of that is because they have vocals, which you don’t associate with the genre anymore. Tom Morris has an incredible voice, everything he and the other vocalists bring is a major addition to the bands sound.

This is a mostly quiet record. The band largely eschews the loud-quiet-loud dynamic for more gradual buildups that span several tracks. When you do hit the moments of  bombast and crescendo, they have that much more impact. The major thing that impressed me about the band and the album is the multi-instrumental approach. Songs on The Quiet Lamb repeatedly will repeatedly establish a tone and continue in that direction long enough for the listener to fall into it, only to introduce something new; banjo, flute, an ambient soundscape. Nothing they do ever sounds out-of-place though. Compositionaly the entirety of The Quiet Lamb is incredibly well thought out, it’s rock solid. Even the big transition to the very western sound at the end, with its horns, sounds perfectly natural, a fitting end to the story.  This album has an incredibly strong sense of narrative. There is a very real story here, a whole saga even, the whole thing.

I can’t really do this album justice. Head over to Devonali and get this.

– Jayson

Review: Collapse Under The Empire – The Sirens Sound by Jayson
October 13, 2010, 10:06 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , ,

Post-rock is by now a well established genre with well defined conventions. There are more bands doing it and as happens with everything, the sound becomes somewhat codified. Not something I’ve had a problem with, but having said that, it’s very welcome to hear something innovative.

Collapse Under the Empire you’ve heard if you downloaded the Gone In 60 Seconds compilation from I Heart Noise. If you missed that one, CUTE are a German duo that combine post-rock with electronic. On the post rock front, they’re covering all the bases that define the best bands of the genre; a strong sense of narrative, moments of quiet, moments of fury, and on. What sets CUTE apart is the electronic element. Standing in contrast to the analog instrumental bits the electronics have a  sound ranging from an eerie, bleak quality reminiscent of the soundtracks from John Carpenter movies to more dynamic sounds. The interplay between the electronic and analog makes for a really engaging listen. Don’t pass on this album.

Told you so.

CUTE MySpace

CUTE Official site

The Sirens Sound and other CUTE albums are available here.

– Jayson

Friday, again. by Jayson

Yeah. It’s Friday.

First the disclaimer and complaining: We’re screwed for… a while. It’s the end of the school year. Right now Jason is trying to teach dozens of college students how to write, something they’ve put off for their whole lives. Meanwhile, I am on the brink of final project apocalypse. I am also sick now. We’re also out of money. Things may get a little… sporadic around here for a while.

Send us free stuff.

Now, the rest:

Get Busy Committee made it!!! I am getting one of the first 100 pressings. I will get to ask them that one question I’ve been wanting to know since I got their album. And like… I better think of some other stuff.

CELESTE have a new record out. Their last was rad. This is rad too. Download it for free here. Buy the super deluxe limited edition here. I wish this had come out a week ago when the Euro hit an 8 month low. Still, it might be the time to buy this now, if the Eurozone rallys after Greece gets their bailout loan, it could end up being more expensive. Just sayin’.

By 2012 hipsters will be embracing Insane Clown Posse. The ironically worn Hatchet Man tee will be the new ironically worn wolf tee. This will happen. I am calling it here.

I like Black Tusk and Bison BC. I like Mastodon. I like bands that sound vaguely Mastodonic. I am willing to accept the consequences.

I am going to go see Red Sparowes, Caspian and Fang Island. I am stoked. Fang Island are a new thing to me. I really like them. I think I’m with the cool kids on this. Again, I am willing to accept the consequences. At some point in the next 12 months you will hear their song ‘Daisy’ or some significant part of it used in a ‘feeling great about life’ montage in a credit card commercial. It may also be in a Volkswagon or Subaru commercial. It’s just that good. It’s a feel good hit of the summer, but it’s quirky and they did great at SXSW.

Hemoptysis are having a contest to find out  Who will be the next Hemoptychick? It could be you. Seriously.

I have trimmed my beard way back. I am thinking about giving it up altogether. How do you feel about that?

Swashbuckle’s drummer quit. Did they make him walk the plank? No one made that joke yet Yes. I went there.

I don’t know who MGMT is, but I’ve been down with Anthony Ausgang since he did the cover for that EAR  album12 years ago.

– Jayson

Review: Red Sparowes – The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer by Jayson

I do love what they call post-rock.

2010 seems like the big year of stylistic departures so far, and the new Red Sparowes continues the trend. The songs on The Fear… sound more like individual pieces, rather than movements of some greater composition. The sheer volume of their previous albums is diminished here. Instead there’s a more quiet, more personal sound. Thinking about the earlier albums, this is a soundtrack to more personal events than of a large scale drama.

The song titles are a hell of a lot shorter too.

These are subtle changes though, the Red Sparowes sound is intact, if a little more delicate. The more personal direction seems to carry over in the theme of this album. The liner notes discus the uncertainty of the current times and the deliberate fostering of misinformation to allay fears. It’s reads as a more personal conflict that the wider ones explored on previous albums, which explains the changes in the sound. I don’t want to give the impression this a meek album, or an entirely quiet one, it just sounds more focused. There are still loud, bombastic moments. Also, I continue to love the steel guitar, it’s more prominent than it was on Every Red Heart and I’m glad.

Non-fans seem to disregard post-rock as background music, but in doing that, they miss out. There is a range of complexity here that reflects the breadth of human emotion. The Fear… has an almost Expressionistic quality to it. You owe yourself a good listen with this one.

Red Sparowes – The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer is out on Sargent House.

– Jayson