Tag Archives: review

Shogun Kunitoki: Vinonaamakasio | Review

I was brought to this album with a sentence “these guys just use church organs, but it won’t be like you think”, and I couldn’t think of a better way to explain them. A mixture of synth-rock of the eighties, latest electronica and marching drum beats, it all equals in this climatic-all-of-the-time record, superfluously following the steps of Ray Manzarek of The Doors fame.


What you get from the first introductory track, is what you’ll be listening through the rest of the album, only with more power. Main motifs are always the same, the church organs creating the sonic jungle in which you are thrown into.

Other motifs are scarce, and usually feature a set of electronica sounds, just to serve as a minimal intro before the power drums + organs combination comes blasting one more time. The church organ is the main tool here, and you’ll be hearing it in various instrumentations, with music movements going back and forth from progressive rock to electronic.

What you will hearing most of the time is the loud drumming with a cacophony of sounds produced by the organs, creating a somewhat harsh and discordant sound, and once the album starts it doesn’t give you any pauses until its climax ending during the “Nebulus” track, leaving with you with a high pitch noise present at the end, possibly a homage to the same high pitched ending present in the “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles.

While this sounds as much as a new as a new album can sound, one cannot shake a feeling that the entire album rests on huge foundations made by the krautrock and acid rock in the past. The album itself has no tracks that stand out of the whole by themselves, as the entire album is dependant on the “beginning to the ending” feeling, as if it’s a one 35 minute track. Indeed, it just might have been what the band wanted.

One downside to this is that there is a certain level of monotony present, which is definitely hard to avoid with the tempo that regularly shifts to half beat, then moving to double beat, or having being forced to listen to the same set of tones all of the time. This is to an extent avoided by background noise, recurring organ motifs, but it’s still there. If it’s a statement, or simply an intention to poke the listeners in their ears, I’ll leave it for the band to decide, but the album thankfully contains enough theme changes for them not to be boring.

Speaking of other bands, there is one that cannot be avoided during this album (other than the Shogun Kunitoki themselves, of course). It’s The Doors. This whole sonic universe created by the Shogun Kunitoki on this album fits so perfectly with them, as if it’s the extended soloing done by Ray Manzarek on the “Waiting for the Sun” and “Light My Fire” being merged with the raw power of the band. This feeling is almost impossible to avoid… in fact, I believe there is no need for the word “almost” there. If you’ve ever listened to The Doors, you’ll regard this as some sort of instrumental experimentation that just screams Ray Manzarek.

As a conclusion, I cannot say anything chronically bad about the band, as I would have nothing to back it up. With a few listens the album gets in your mind, and the organ riffs are kind of hard to get rid off (if you’re to have a reason to want them out of your hand in the first place, that is). All in all, it’s a great listen,

Overall grade: 7 / 10

TV On The Radio: Young Liars | Review

Artist: TV On The Radio
Album: Young Liars
Year: 2003
Genre: Indie Rock



Haven’t been listening to too much “Indie Rock/Pop” music lately and it’s simply because nothing’s really been tickling my fancy. I went into this record excited to listen to it for multiple reasons:

  • 1. It was released on Touch & Go Records, a record company that I can usually trust.
  • 2. It’s an earlier TVotR release; from what I’ve heard (Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science, half of Nine Types of Light), I’m pretty sure I like the band’s earlier output more than their latter.
  • 3. It got rated well on allmusic and pitchfork. Yeah yeah make fun of me but an 8.9 from Pitchfork circa 2003 (and for an EP!) usually means I’ll like it.
  • 4. It has a Pixies cover.

So after listening to it a few times, I can confidently say that it is indeed an extremely solid EP. For five songs, it kept me interested for all of its 25 minutes. Not much to say about it except that it’s incredibly consistent and has a very cool-yet-not-cocky demeanor. The first track Satellite is a clear example of this – the pulsating bass chugging along with the drums (and soon thereafter the heavily reverbed guitar and flute) allow for an awesome backdrop for Tunde’s vocal, which are always on point. The mixing on the song is fantastic and I really love the quiet, crackling guitar solo-ish 2/3 into the song that shows up in the right monitor. Staring at the Sun is a classic and is better than the LP version in my opinion. The wall of sound in the second half of Young Liars is nice and Blind is simply a great song. The doo wop version of Mr. Grieves is cool and really pleasant though I probably won’t ever listen to it more than a few times. In general, I’m not too big on this type of music at the moment but it was definitely a nice listen. 7/10

Rating or Recommendation: If you like TVotR or Indie Rock with soulful melodies, just check it out. It’s only 25 minutes anyway.

Emeralds: Does It Look Like I’m Here? | Review

I’ve grown to associate such tags as stuff that would bore the shit out of me and I was a little disappointed when I saw the recommendation. This album did a good job of changing my view on what could constitute such musical styles.

The music is almost purely synth/keys/similar. No vocals, no drums, only a little bit of Floyd-ish guitar, and yet somehow it’s incredibly rich, complex, layered and dynamic. It actually reminds me of the keyboard sections of numerous bands I like.

The first third of the album is very rhythmic, intense, though somewhat hypnotic. In the middle it’s more sparse and a bit unstructured for my liking, but luckily still nowhere near what I was first expecting. The end is a slight return to the rhythmic style, just with more guitar and way more chilled. This is my favourite section.

It sounded quite good through speakers, when I was sitting in my room feeling a bit down and having a few drinks alone. I also tried listening through headphones at work, but it just didn’t seem right. I guess it’s the type of album that wasn’t made for focused listening. I have yet to try it in the car, should be good to drive to.

Rkarl, you have improved my views on those styles. Thank you. I’ll move cautiously when investigating the styles further, but I know I’d do well to get more Emeralds and similar groups.

7/10

Dwarves: The Dwarves Are Born Again | Review

Artist: Dwarves
Album: The Dwarves Are Born Again
Year: 2011
Genre: Pop Punk



File under “the band with boobs on all their album covers“.

Not much to say about this one. Dwarves have made another unwelcome attempt at prolonging their 25+ year career making immature, irreverent, uninspired pop punk. While earlier albums like “Are Young and Good Looking” and “Blood, Guts and Pussy” had a welcome dose of humor in their irreverent lyrics, “The Dwarves are Born Again” is as stale as it gets. I tried like hell to get into this album, but it left me completely bored. These guys are trying way, way too hard. Their formula worked just fine 20 years ago when it was some young punks singing about getting laid, fighting, and getting high, but when songs like “Your Girl’s Mom”, “I Masturbate Me” and “We Only Came To Get High” are presented by middle aged men, I think more about sad, alcoholic bachelors and less about funny, edgy punks. Did I mention the riffs are boring and recycled?

Rating or Recommendation: 3/10

Letting Up Despite Great Faults: Self-titled | Review

Artist: Letting Up Despite Great Faults
Album: Letting Up Despite Great Faults
Year: 2009
Genre: indie, synth.pop, shoegaze, dance, dream.pop

 


I’m ashamed of myself, I don’t think I’ve given this a fair enough listen.. even though it’s gotten plenty of “plays”, it’s only really got one real listen. I just haven’t had the time to sit down and critically listen to this album a good 2-3 times, 2 or 3 times that it deserves. I’m listening again now as I write this review, albeit not critically! However, as you can probably ascertain from my listening notes this album was love at first listen for me, and as such it’s been on heavy rotation both in my car and it pops up in my playlist every now and then at work.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults is an album that has been on heavy rotation for the past 7 days, and will continue to be played over and over for me. I love the summer feel that is has, and a really “dreamy” sound that is just gorgeous..

LUDGF seem to be quite influenced by M83 and sounds a bit like The Postal Service too – but then on the other hand they have their own style in it’s entirety, it’s hard to put my finger on it exactly – let’s just call it “delicious”.

All in all, this was is a stellar album and on each listen I discover even more things that I like about it.. I just wish it lasted longer, it feels just that bit too short! My sincere apologies if this review seems rushed, well because.. it was rushed! But hopefully you share the same thoughts as me on this album. One day i will get around to listening to it a couple more times critically and will shoot you off a proper review then!

Rating: 9/10

Ayumi Hamasaki: A song for XX | Review

Artist: Ayumi Hamasaki
Album: A Song for ××
Year: 1999
Genre: JPop



Ayumi Hamasaki is an artist whose name I’ve heard pop up several times, but one which I never really got around to actually check out. Neither did I have much of an idea about how her music was like, so it was a welcomed recommendation.

Intro track, hmm alright, nothing exciting. I’m not sure if I’m alone in thinking intro and outro tracks are a waste of time for most albums? I just find them annoying and unecessary, unless the album is some sort of story-based musical adventure. Unrelated thought and nothing I’d let influence a review, but still. The second track reveals the real music. It’s rather 90s in the sound, basic synthesizer-like beats with some bland guitar sounds in the background. Somewhat chill and dreamy atmosphere around it, with some nice japanese vocals. She does have a nice voice.

The second track comes on, and immediately I’m thinking it sounds like a Street Fighter 2 stage theme. Still the same soundscape and basic pop sounds. Track three, and suddenly it sounds more like early 90s Prince beats. The album continues in a somewhat schizophrenic fashion, alternating between late and early 90s pop sound, and a song here and there which sounds like they’d be the perfect anime opening theme.

All in all, the thing that binds them all together is the generally pleasant sounding vocals, which seems to be the album’s strong point. The really basic pop sounds and flat lazy use of synthesizer brings everything down for me a notch. I did however generally enjoy the album, even if it did not make a huge impact. It made me download her other material, which I generally enjoyed a bit more than this one.

6 / 10

Shabazz Palaces: Black Up | Review

Artist: Shabazz Palaces
Album: Black Up
Year: 2011
Genre: Hip Hop

 

Right from the opening track “Free Press and Curl” this album grabs you, a heavily effect riddled beat opens gradually and goes in 3 different directions and grows as the song goes on, the first transition drops around 2 minutes and adds a melodic female vocal looping to the beat along with heavier electronic rendering, around 3 minutes the beat trails off and picks back up slowly with a more chilled out heavy bass sound. But enough about the beat, Shabazz has a unique flow and wordplay which matches all three settings nicely even during the hook which reminded me more of a purple rap track like those we’re hearing more and more of and I’m not taken on most.

Onto “An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum”, this might be enough to sell most people right here a reversed loop in the background make this one of the filthiest beats I’ve heard in a while and I was definitely feeling it. This is definitely a banger but comes to the table with a whole different feel than the traditional hot track on an album feel. This track also grows as the track goes on and transitions towards the end, this again does not take away from the sick entirety of the track. Shabazz again comes strong, call me crazy but the wordplay on this track reminded me somewhat of Vast Aire wordplay.

 

[quote]Probably closest to a hip hop beat “Are You… Can You… Were You?” heavy strings over piano make for a good combo, Shabazz’ hook on this one gets a little annoying but doesn’t disappoint on main verses.[/quote]

 

Next up “A Treatease Dedicated To The Avian Airess From North East Nubis (1000 Questions, 1 Answer)” it was like a ghetto love story by an astronaut on acid beat had a outta this world in a 1950s space movie feel to it. Definitely feeling this track.

“Youlogy” starts like an interlude for about 20 seconds before slapping you in the face with bass and hard lyrics. Takes a jazzy feel about halfway through, and finishes just as it started with a glitchy hard beat and more.

This track carries an interlude feel up until about the last quarter “Endeavors For Never (The Last Time We Spoke You Said You Were Not Here. I Saw You Though)”. Immagine jazz undertones and smooth smoke filled lounge singer vocals, although it’s not a track that Shabazz comes out on until the end still a sick track. The production on this album is definitely unique.

“Recollections Of The Wraith” opens with Shabazz droppin a quick verse over a drum sample and goes into what’s probably my favorite track on the album. It’s been driving me nuts what the samples from but reminds me of a slowed down distorted version of a 90s pop or rnb singer. This track suffers from what is the only downside to this album is the sometimes overly repetitive hooks but the beat and lyrics again save it from downplaying the overall feel.

 

 

A choppy start on “The King’s New Clothes Were Made By His Own Hands” was just enough to not take away from the track, and again the beat grows as the track goes on. The shortest track on the album at 2:07 this one seemed just right as it wasn’t necessarily a banger but a psychedelic journey track. The only thing I can recently compare this to would probably be Jeremiah Jae

Least favorite on the album “Yeah You” wasn’t necessarily a bad track but the distortion on the vocals was a little much for me. It sounded like he was under water with the heavy flanger effects. Other than that lyrics were fire like the rest of the album, and beat seemed a quicker pace which wasn’t a bad thing. Wish this were tossed in as a remix and there was an original without the flanger effect.

And wrapping up with “Swerve… The Reeping Of All That Is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding)”, which in my opinion was a strong finish for the album. Beat which remains the same up until the end outro beat, is arguably one of the best on the album that showcases more female vocals and electronic effects. Lyrics are again spaced out, to some might be thrown off but I like the wordplay.

In closing you’re either going to love or hate this. I would recommend at least giving it a listen to figure out for yourself though.

Rating: 8/10

Perfume Genius: Put Your Back N 2 It | Review

Artist: Perfume Genius
Album: Put Your Back N 2 It
Genres: piano, ambient, roots (apparently that’s a something, I don’t know)

 

A piano album was about the last thing I expected from someone who on the first glimpse seems to be into dark drone related genres. But regardless, I rejoice a little inside, good piano music has a very special soft spot in my heart.

From the beginning of the first track I knew my regular speakers wouldn’t cut it – for piano music, anything that’s not Sony’s noise-cancelling IEMs is sub par. The second I tune the rest of the world out I notice details I missed out on originally. Subtle waves and scratches give the opening track a nice sepia feeling. Reminds me of my old place by the railway so it does something most tracks can’t do to me – making an emotional connection in a minute on the first listening.
I would definitely say this is the kind of music you have to be in the mood for. Or rather, not be in the wrong mood. It’s calm and soothing.
I can imagine anyone into ambient music enjoying the opening track of this album.

Continue reading “Perfume Genius: Put Your Back N 2 It | Review” »

Joyce Manor: Joyce Manor | Review

Artist: Joyce Manor
Album: Joyce Manor
Year: 2011
Genre: Pop Punk


It’s funny how the same things you once loved about a person can eventually make you hate them. Last Saturday, after working a twelve hour shift in the pouring rain, I was sitting outside my girlfriend’s house, smoking a cigarette, trying to work up the nerve to dump her. I leaned on my car, watching a duck standing in a storm drain. The duck stared listlessly ahead at the running water. What was the duck thinking? Where were his duck friends and family? Did he know that there was a bonafide lake less than a mile away? Why did he not acknowledge the human staring at him? Was I a witness to the duck version of an existential breakdown?

 

[quote] I finished my cigarette, went in and began asking my girlfriend the questions that had been occupying my mind, starting with that perennial question: “Do you ever wonder about ducks?”. She had been expecting ‘a talk’, which I had very conspicuously been avoiding for a month, and stared at me incredulously, wondering just what I was trying to say. [/quote]

 

“What do you mean?” she quizzed me, disbelieving. I wasn’t speaking in metaphors. I was actually wondering about ducks. Maybe I felt like that duck. Maybe I thought she felt like that duck. Maybe no one but that duck ever felt like that duck did that night, standing in the warm March rain, in a graffiti covered sewage ditch in a mid-sized college town, feeling all of that muddy water roll over webbed feet, and staring at the cheap plastic siding of apartment buildings.

Continue reading “Joyce Manor: Joyce Manor | Review” »

Eric Whitacre: Light & Gold | Review

I really wanted to take to this. Choral appeals to me, but in a complicated way (my relationship to Gospel is similar): I’m attracted to it conceptually, but find my visceral reaction always rather tepid, which is disappointing when there’s a sort of promise of spiritual uplift (or at least jostling). Granted, this particular work seems more concerned with complexity than spiritual catalyzation, but that’s perhaps a criticism as much as it is a compliment (consider a liquorless cocktail prepared by a master bartender a valid corollary).