Friday, December 30, 2011

It Happened Here - 2011 - 001 E.P.

Pop Rock 
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://ithappenedhere.bandcamp.com">?</a>
  • 4 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: The Long Goodbye
English
You've just walked in the door, put your keys in your pocket and the door shuts behind you. It's been a long day of toiling through the dredges at work and you're in need of something to get yourself centered, get yourself right. You spot your mates already coalescing in the usual spot. You order a beer, and slide in next to your friends, settling in to the scene. You've noticed the music playing over the speakers. It's catchy, foot tappingly so, as you realize you're tapping along to the drum beat of 'Get Over Yourself'. It's got an upbeat rhythm to it, even if it sounds a bit a music rebuke to you feeling run down by your day. Your drink arrives and you take a long pull. The song has changed, it's upped the tempo now. A weird sense of urgency has crept into it, as if the band is trying to race into a future they won't ever see. The rolling thunder bass during the bridge really adds to the familiar mood of the place in a way that wasn't really susceptible any of the other times you'd come in here. Your friends don't seem to notice any of this. Maybe it's the drink. The rapid fire drumming on the final song and it's car chase tempo is the final straw, you're enjoying yourself, forget all that nonsense that happened earlier. This place, here and now, is causing nothing but good times. What more can you ask for from rock music?
What I'm trying to get across with all the prose; dear reader, is that It Happened Here's “001 E.P.” can be a cathartic listen (even 'Don't Lose Yourself to Fate') if you're alone, while still having enough oomph to it that it wouldn't be out of place at a bar with your friends as you talked over a few drinks. That it happens to sound like British pop rock the likes of which made names of Blur and Oasis in the late 90's doesn't cheapen the entire affair at all. It doesn't play up any sort of nostalgia angle to put you over, its too good to need such things. It music built for fun times, even if the lyrics are a slight more philosophical than the average alt-rock band. 001 E.P. Is worth a look see.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A very wasfuersohr Christmas


It is that time of year again. Yep, Christmas time, folks. And with that comes an onslaught of Christmas themed releases. Instead of doing reviews for these records I'm going to do something a little different. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you won't need to listen to your grandmothers old vinyl LP of 50's crooners belting out Christmas standards like you have year after year. No, this year, as a small gift from us here at Wasfuersohr to you our adoring fans and music lovers, we're going to provide you with some holiday musical alternatives. No reviews, just a smattering of holiday cheer from a variety of bands we think you might enjoy listening to with family and friends.

Sound Vat - If Jesus Had Been Born In Canada, He Would Have Needed More Than Swaddling Clothes (Compilation)

A bit of the indie rock in your stocking never hurt anyone. A compilation of smaller Canadian indie rock bands (which is a nice indulgence for me) bringing an energetic mix of holiday standards and originals to this compilation. Certainly a different take on Christmas music, but thoroughly enjoyable for listeners of all ages.

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How To Throw A Christmas Party – II – Angels n' Sheep
The festive Dutch collective that becomes How To Throw A Christmas Party have released another five songs of folk-pop twinged Christmas music, that will add a certain “Je ne sais quoi” to any Christmas gathering. It's bouncy and expressive both musically and lyrically, almost like an original cast recording (it's also a touring show if you happen to be in the Netherlands for the Holidays). Five original works that will bring joy to any listener this holiday season. What's not to like?


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Punchline – 2011 Holiday Sampler
Bringing a pop punk sensibility to Christmas music, Punchline have provided four faster, groovier original tracks than any of the two previous records. This was Saint Nick during his rebellious teenage years, Christmas music with a snarky edge. They might not be suited for the entire family (have Grandma and the kids leave the room), but you definitely don't have any other holiday themed music like this (“Forever REMIX” is completely out of place, and not xmas playlist material).


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Deer Child - Winter Deer Volume 1: Few Are Frozen (Compilation)

Another mix of classic and original Christmas/holiday-themed music, similar in tone to Sound Vats' release, with one foot planted firmly in folk music more than rock. The covers of classic Christmas music have a real soothing feel to them. It easily works as background music for family gatherings or music to listen to while watching that Yule log channel if that's more your thing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shekinah - 2011 - The Wind Lost Its Breath Redux

Post-Rock
[FOR FREE] 
<a href="http://shekinah.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: The-writers-ink-redux
English
When people recommend albums to me, I can be a bit skeptical. I tend to have wildly varying tastes that are hard to nail down. Unless that person recommend me post-rock. Then we're on the same page. Such is the case with Shekinah's The Wind Lost its Breath Redux. An excellent record of reworked songs (according to the band's bandcamp site) that pushed all the right buttons for this reviewer. As long time readers will know, I enjoy this kind of music regardless of its grasps for originality. This record is lyric-less and mostly guitar driven as you might expect, with a pummeling rhythm section underneath it all. Pretty by the books in that regard, but really, if you're still reading this review you're obviously here because you're fine with that notion. And you should be Shekinah doesn't break the post-rock mold but it these tracks make for an excellent listen. I would actually describe the sound as rather uplifting, in so far as the guitar wanking is always aiming higher and higher (except on 'The Writer's Ink' – more on that later) and not going for a low, angry sound. If the song titles are anything to go by (and in post-rock you never know how much a band is taking the piss), these could be trying to tap into some kind of spiritual thing. WWJDFPR? If it sounds like this, let them praise whatever deity they like, the crescendos pay off in spades. I mentioned 'The Writer's Ink' as differing from the others because the riffs are not aiming for the heavens; instead the riffs repetitiously meander down among us mortals. Very wounded crying out for help in the night sort of mortals. It's a shift in song structure and it keeps you on your toes. If the music preceding it was an ascent to a higher plane, this is a contemplative walk through nature. It's post-rock. You're either in or you're out. I'm in, and will be listening to this EP for the foreseeable future. You should too, if you enjoy your rock music soaring and wordless.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Records of the Year 2011 - Editorial Picks


Alright, the blog is steadily growing and we cant ask every new reader to check every single entry here (even though it is advised of course), but just to round up the last year and to add our own "Record of the Year"-list to everyone elses, here are the respectively 3 highest regarded picks this year by Matthew and me. Click the album picture for the link to the review.

Matthew's Top 3:
My album picks of the year aren't in any real order, as they're all what I would deem excellent through and through and should be listened to by anyone with an interest in good music. So without further ado, here are my three picks of the year 2011.
Shadowboxer - Two Cities: Alternative Rock

This album caught me by total surprise. It was just another url in the bandcamp scrape that week, with a dramatic photo for cover art. Then I listened to it, and I had to clean my brain goop off the floor. It's alternative indie rock, with a hint of Imogen Heap creeping into the vocals. It may not exactly be the most upbeat (that flower on the cover is taking a beating), but not many other records took over my playlist like this one did. Easily one of the best of the year and I'll go toe to toe with anyone arguing differently. Listen to this, do it now!

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Ektoise - Kiyomizu: Ambient/ Alternative/ Electronica

This was actually the first album I reviewed for Wasfuersohr. It's also the longest review to date I believe, I gushed on and on about until Toma said I had to stop or I'd have to pay by the letter. Shadow Boxer scratched my emotionally charged rock itch; Ektoise sneaked in subtly and then bludgeoned me with their varied industrial attack. It's brutal and heavy, yet light and comforting by the next song. If you haven't already done so, check this album out and then give it your friends. This album deserves to be heard by more people. It's wordless, it's epic, it's Ektoise!

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Emily Henry - Demo: Folk/ Singer-Songwriter

It's not the most polished album I've come across (it is a demo after all), and it is sparse on instrumentation. But I chose Emily Henry's Demo because of those things not in spite of them. These demos show that Ms. Henry is quite a talented musician and singer, as both her voice and guitar playing abilities are front and centre the entire time for eleven tracks. Usually sing-songwriter folk isn't my cup of tea, but Emily Henry managed to create an album of just that, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. With this as a base, I look forward to whatever music she creates in the future.

Marco's Top 3:
Magic Man easily impressed me the most, as you can probably tell from the review, but the whole year was packed with musical surprises and artists, whose albums I wouldn't want to miss anymore. The following are the ones that will be listened to until I lose or break my MP3 player (in which case I can still sing them, agonizing everyone else).
Magic Man - Real Life Color: Indie/ Pop/ Electronica

I was easily enough convinced that Magic Man would be a keeper, due to the Postal Service like style of music, but I wouldn't have thought that this album would grow on me so much that I'd call it my favorite album ever. Its unbelievably catchy, creative and could be the sole reason that I can call this year of searching music a definite success. Music that immediately reaches people and makes people want to root for them and tell everyone around the amazing artist they just found. Cant wait for the new singles next year.

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Swimming - EP: Indie/ Surfpop

Easily my favorite summer album. And I have no doubt that the next summer wont be missing Swimming#s EP either. Its pure, free and unhindered fun and one of the most recommendable records I found so far. I wish I had given the review a bit more attention as back then I was still writing review versions in English and German, which was hugely time consuming. Any follow up record will get the review length it deserves. Until then this is the "run through a field with your best friend on a warm summer day" - record of choice.

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Synthcake - Musicophilia: Synthpop

This was the most surprising album I heard all year. I still cant quite decide whether the "Haunted" music feeling subgenre is just critically underused or whether they just did a very, very convincing job at a highly difficult task. Making catchy pop songs out of basically music not unfitting at a Halloween party is quite a feat. Can't wait for all the bands we mentioned here to release their next records. Synthcake is original, haunting, catchy and the best cake I got all year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Magic Man - 2010 - Real Life Color

Indie/Pop/Electronica 
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://magicman.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
  • 10 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Monster, Like Sailors, Nest
Disclaimer/Short Recommendation: I have spent way more time with this record than any other record in the recent years. I regularly listen to the music we cover, plus the ~2000 bands I listen through each month to check for good stuff, but this one is special to me. One of the biggest joys we take from this blog project is the gratitude from the musicians we cover. Maybe because we managed to find them a few more listeners, or on the most basic level even just as a thank you for the time we took to listen through their songs, and even write a review on it!
The other reward for us, besides gratitude, is finding the music itself for personal use, and this album..

.. is probably my favorite album of all time.
 
English
Magic Man - Real Life Color is a release from 2010, but digital music doesn't really age, and considering the rather low popularity of this kind of bands (Magic Man - 1,939 Facebook Likes) compared to big commercial bands (Florence and the Machine - 2,051,090 FB Likes:), there are still plenty of people I can tell about them. And this is it. This is my personal music highlight of 2011. Music to dance, dream, shout, sing and getting swept away to. All rolled into 10 songs of the same artist. Indie/Pop/Electronica as a genre descriptor doesn't sound as special as I would like to make it sound. Almost all of the sounds on this record are electronically created and/or altered. So we got dominantly male vocals and electronic sounds. What is so special about them, making me wish I had the money to fly over to listen to these guys live?
First and foremost that these songs aren't perfectly "clean" and that these rough sounds have been very carefully interspersed, resulting in a surprisingly charming and down to earth experience that just seems to get closer, able to touch people because its similarly imperfect as we are. They often use distortions and rough drum sounds in contrast to very harmonic vocals and clean and "warm" synthesizer sounds to create their rather special sound. This is also one reasons why I haven't grown tired of this album yet, it is seemingly impossible to grow tired of all these different sound variations. Another reason would be the surprisingly varied song composition. Nest makes me want to dance, Darling gets me to daydream and Like Sailors makes me want to shout my heart out. Within 42 minutes, Magic Man gives me a powerful emotional variety I haven't personally experienced in a long, long time. The last, even musically comparable, experience like this was listening and loving myself through the Postal Service album. Who would have thought that a Lo-Fi record would be the most polished album I hear all year, or even top the aforementioned Postal Service album as my favorite album ever. Do not only take this as a high recommendation from a random blogger, please take this in as a present by a close friend, wanting to share one of the most lovingly created musical experiences he was able to discover so far.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

pkthunder - 2011 - 5 Song ep

Indie Pop 
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://pkthunder.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
  • 5 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Boat-night, Stallion
English
Music does not need to be perfect, it doesn't even need to be harmonic. Most songs that rely on dissonances are raw, powerful and ... well... disharmonic. Several genres, punk and noise to name a few, are remarkable in that area and loved by their admirers for offering an alternative, unpolished way of listening to music. pkthunder is a mix of very well thought out pop elements, instrumentation and smooth background sounds with an "alternative and unpolished" voice. Don't get me wrong, I think his voice make his songs rather special, but unfortunately also very alienating. Many musicians, like Conor Oberst, know how to use their voice in a different, disharmonic and even broken way and have people loving them all the more for it. pkthunder might have went a bit overboard with the amount of "drama" in his voice, but personally I dont necessarily see that as a bad thing. Sure, he wont ever find a huge fanbase with that exact kind of setup, but I am the living proof that there is at least one person who enjoys his songs.
As alienating as his voice might seem at first, he knows how to make a good argument for his ability to create appealing songs. However, there are even some technical issues with the record, "Stallion" for example has got a few "popping" sounds, which are quite bothering. Fortunately, the songs can still be enjoyed regardless. The upbeat "Boat-Night"and the melancholic "Stallion" are as far apart as songs can get quality wise, and both songs still manage to resonance with me on a very emotional level. Lots of passion to be had here. As mentioned in the beginning, music doesn't need to be perfect. It simply needs the means to reach those who treasure it for what it is, the ones who in this case may enjoy the rather well written lyrics, pleasing guitar sounds and even enjoy a remarkable voice that might take some getting used to.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shadowboxer - 2011 - Two Cities

Alternative Rock
[FOR FREE]
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://shadowboxer.bandcamp.com/album/two-cities"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
  • 4 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Dancer, Villianelle
English
This is the reason scouring bandcamp for new and interesting (and free, don't forget free) music has become so beneficial – Finding musicians you wouldn't have otherwise heard, that occasionally blow you away. Shadowboxer's EP Two Cities hits all the right buttons as far as I'm concerned. Hayley Martin has a beautiful, versatile voice capable of soaring heights and barely audible whispers, moving between the two extremes of her range with ease on each of the four tracks. I'll just say this now, Martin's voice sounds remarkably like Imogen Heap's, high praise as far as I'm concerned. Her voice may have its detractors, but they're missing out if they shy away from listening to Two Cities on that basis alone. The music has a pop rock aim; guitars and drums dominate the songs here, not samples and keyboards even if both are present (Imogen-lite it is not). Lyrically Two Cities is not warm and fuzzy, and is best summed up by it's cover art. There are songs about love, sure, but here it's broken and painful; the kind that requires time and distance to talk about. There is even a take on English poetic form ('Villianelle'). Aidan O' Brien's arrangements create aurally vibrant landscapes that ensure the lyrics really come to life and fit the mood of each song perfectly. 'Juniper' is anthem-sized with a really ominous low end. 'Dancer' slinks away in size, being colder sounding, relying on airy synths and a drawn out, but heavy bassline to create its broken nostalgia. Villanelle borders on what I feel is trip-hop, while Word of a Stranger is; by comparison, straight forward guitar-driven rock and a really strong way to end this EP. I might have been hooked by the Heap-esque vocals, but there's a lot more to Two Cities than just that, and I think wasfuersohr readers should dive into this EP to find out for themselves. Amazing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

well done, jackson pollock - 2011 - s/t

Instrumental Indie
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://welldonejacksonpollock.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
  • 4 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Untitled 1, Untitled 2
English
I think this may be a first for this blog. Finally great music from Germany, which shows that I clearly have no idea whats going on in my near vicinity. s/t by well done, jackson pollock is a rather long EP at almost 27 minutes and worth every minute of your time. The initial impression of the EP is very melodic, calm even and they manage to amass such a variety of different and congenial soundscapes within those 4 songs, that I am still not tired of listening to them after 3 hours nonstop listening. The 4th song especially, spectacularly named "Untitled 2", sounds like a loveletter to the artistic possibilities and emotional power the medium music is able to unleash. The soothing beginning of the song and the way the band handled the shift to the rather upbeat,later parts in the song are nothing short of inspiring. The band seemingly consists of a rather large group of band members and this style of music immensely benefits from that, making it as diverse and inspirational as its name giving artist and comes highly recommended.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

the sky does not care about me - 2010 - any speed any direction

Ambient/Industrial 
[FOR FREE]
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://theskydoesnotcareaboutme.bandcamp.com/album/any-speed-any-direction"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
English

A bit of an older album compared to what I've reviewed thus far, but probably one of the stranger; “Any Speed, Any Direction” seems to be inspired by the soundtracks to games like Quake and Half-life or science-fiction films. With that in mind it performs admirably. AS,AD is mainly industrial and ambient music, that isn't as interested in following typical song structure conventions in favour of creating soundscapes that would work great paired with a visuals of sterile complexes and desert wastelands. The first track; 'sitar freeman' is both an actual song and certainly lives up to its name. All sitar, all the time, and could even pass as a recurring theme for a character. I don't think I could take an entire album of this, but it is a fun starting point. Everything that follows “sitar freeman”clocks in over 9 minutes and sounds like someone took a microphone through a manufacturing plant to record every sound they possibly could and then added static and occasional glitchy bleeps over top. Well, except 'armor' which appears to be more song oriented, but is still seven minutes long. On the other end of the scale, a couple of songs are soothing to listen to for all their lack of context and noise('film' and 'knife'). This probably isn't a record you'd throw on for guests or dates (unless your guests/date are awesome), but if you do happen to want some background music while you frag over Xbox Live or happen to be putting together an art piece about futuristic dystopias, then “Any Speed, Any Direction” is one art show away from perfection






Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gatsbys - 2011 - The Boy & the Mountain

Indie/Folk
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://gatsbys.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
  • 5 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Gulf of Mexico, Dawn
English
Another band that really managed to grow on me after listening to it for a while. Two guys and their guitars singing songs about the sun, the moon and whatever they deem important enough. Whether you like the partly raw and unpolished lead voice is entirely up to you, but there is no doubt about the charm of the songs. You can't help but liking the guys making the music, whether you really enjoy their songs or not. The first songs in particular evoke a kind of familiar "folky" feeling and are immediately accessible. However, this also makes for a slightly noticeable lack of variety, as the songs are pretty similar. But this might be rectified in a, hopefully already planned, full album release. The most remarkable song, and a song I really like, is "Dawn". Its a fantastic combination of the voice and the steadily increasing tension, and heartily recommended for anyone to check out. Music with heart.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mono Tonique - 2011 - Street lights

Trip-Hop 
[FOR FREE]
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://monotonique.bandcamp.com/"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
English
Welcoming the ever dropping mercury in your thermometer comes six songs of trip-hop goodness straight from mother Russia with “Street lights”. I can't really explain trip-hop to anyone who has never heard it, suffice to say its often slower hip-hop beats with intricate compositions laid over top (often electronic or classical in nature), with little ambition of getting your ass shaking. “Street lights” doesn't reshape the trip-hop landscape (not even the artists who created it seem to have that power anymore), but does a damn good job of creating its own mood that is well worth a listen. The first half of the record is mostly based around electronic beats and has a somber, lonely feeling. 'Sunset mirage' for instance is awash in layers of synth and noise surrounding chimes and a simple drum machine loop that is comforting but decidedly detached. Mono Tonique are taking you on a voyage through a beautiful, empty but not quite natural place. If an electronic sound dominated the first half, instrumental hip hop makes its home more clearly in the second half of “Street life”. 'P.S.' has the same sort of lonely vibe as the three tracks that precede it but uses horns and piano as its driving force, giving it a sound reminiscent of Endtroducing...-era DJ Shadow. It's a nice change of pace right in the middle of the album following the more alien sounding 'Far Side' with its gitches and new age-y synth backdrops. 'Street homeless' then shatters that somber, lonely mood completely in one fell swoop as a throbbing baseline and snare drum transport the listener from cold and lonely emptiness to a dirty, thriving urban setting complete with grinding street traffic and constant sirens. I dare say it reminds me of early Cypress Hill (minus any rapping) in this regard. If the four tracks before this were “somber” and “lonely”, this is “claustrophobic” and “depressing” music for being swallowed up, unnoticed by the surrounding cityscape (something its title implies). It's the standout track here and the one you'd likely tell friends about, on an album full of excellent tracks. Trip-hop fan or not, definitely check out Mono Tonique's Street lights. it would be a shame to miss this record.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One-Eyed Doll - 2010 - Break

Rock
[FOR FREE]

&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://music.oneeyeddoll.com/album/break"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
English
Hard rock with playful female vocals, why do you not happen more often? One-Eyed Doll's "Break" more than proves the formula works. One-Eyed Doll's sound is reminiscent of other hard rocking female fronted hard rock bands that have come before them. The one that comes to mind most during a listening session is Curve. Thankfully the album does not rest solely on the groundwork laid by forebearers, and plays with the 'female lead rock band' idea enough to keep us interested - in this case by slowing things down and adding a bit of humour/balladry to the mix (the aptly titled 'Murder Ballad' is my country love song of the year!). It works here because Kimberly Freeman would not sound at all out of place on a country record. There is just something warmly approachable about her voice that it would likely work singing over just about any genre of music. On "Break", Freeman's voice is the sly smiling facade that lowers your defenses before the music smashes a vase over your head and steals your stuff. Not that 'Break' is a throwaway pop-punk joke record, subject matter as serious as child and domestic abuse (the album's title track) are gracefully situated alongside tracks like 'Redneck Love Song' and whatever opener 'Airplane Man' is actually about [email if you know the answer/are Kim Freeman. I'm keen to know - Gabbo]. The whole album feels like One-Eyed Doll are letting you in on the joke, like a secret only you and the band know about. The secret is that Kimberly Freeman and Co have released one hell of a rock record.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2 People - 2011 - Hymns

Folk Pop 
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://2people.bandcamp.com/">?</a>
English
Actually, it isn't too hard liking any of these small bands we cover on this blog, because most of them are rather professional in their approach to music and don't differentiate itself in many ways from commercially available music. However, there is also quite a large chunk of bands/musicians in the lo-fi, lower budget sector which deserve some attention. This EP falls into the Folk Pop category with a very striking introductory song and a nice follow-up, making people listening up and getting them interested in the few songs featured. The first song is a mashup duet of Bright Eyes "First Day of my Life" and Bob Dylan's "Don't think twice", which works beautifully and is  followed it up with the similar captivating Lion's Den. I got the impression that the other songs don't quite come as well together or maybe they just didnt "click" for me and especially the good ideas of the 9 minute epic "What's left of me" might have been better served if presented in smaller chunks, although I salute the effort of musicians to present another angle on the typical 3-4 minute pop songs. I really had a hard time putting a score on this one as it is obviously not made with the same budgets as some other releases, and for the love put into the making of these songs 2 people more than deserve a curious ear or two, if only for the enchanting first song.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Town Portal - 2011 - Vacuum Horror

Hard Rock 
[FOR FREE]

&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://townportal.bandcamp.com/"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
  • 6 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Salut, Drastic Insights
English
'Vacuum Horror' is a crunchy slab of instrumental hard rock that seems to have its sound rooted several of rock musics harder camps – grunge without the white male persecution complex lyrics that often accompanied the lesser acts that came to dominate that grunge post-1994 (Staind, I'm looking in your direction), sludge metal, even a bit of post-rock for variety. I would say of those three, grunge is the one this record seems to thrive on most. Town Portal know enough to slow things down just long enough so we can catch our breath ('Segway', 'Phantom Time's second half), but doesn't seem as interested in extending the proceeding into the 8-10 minute epic territory, were ambience plays a much larger role in slower sections. In cases like Isis' “Wavering Radient”, the ambience creates gloomy atmospheres, here it would be unnecessary padding. The guitars are thick and happy to riff things along at a quick but steady pace, the baselines are low and dirty (Tell me you don't need a shower when 'Salut' is over) and along with the drumming provide just the right amount of kick to get headphones nodding. Vacuum Horror would fit nicely among the harder hitting grunge records from the early 90's, but thankfully can be heard in 2011 without any nostalgia required to be thoroughly enjoyable. For those that like their rock with a little more meat to it, Town Portal's Vacuum Horror is highly recommended.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Canadia - 2008 - One Dog Clapping

Indie Folk
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://music.canadia.co.nz/album/one-dog-clapping">?</a>
English
Often times music is used to lift our spirits, sometimes music can manage to drag you down into apathy. As in this case, some tracks are somewhat hard to swallow for an "easy listening", with the musician seemingly talking about his own personal experiences, using his songs to come clean with things happening in his life. In One Dog Clapping, Canadia shares tales of unreturned affection and exhaustion, highlighted by the accompanying guitar and a few other sounds, including his perfectly fitting broken voice, creating an enclosed microcosm for his side of those stories. Musically, he also manages to have quite a bit of variation in these songs. The opener "Whailing" has a very distinct and heavy introduction, setting the mood for the rest of the record, whereas other songs like "Teeth Cannot Be Trusted", could even be described as having a catchy and memorable chorus, despite these songs not being cheerful at all. However, despite the initial impression, Canadia also knows how to make a bit more uplifting songs. Since this particular EP has been made in 2008, it is nice to see that he stuck with making music and if you want to balance out the oppressive mood a bit, I'd suggest checking out his other record "Beg, Steal and Burrow" from 2009, which I also linked above below the album cover, but especially the songs on "One Dog Clapping" communicate a mood worth experiencing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Emily Henry - 2011 - Demo

Folk/Singer-Songwriter 
[FOR FREE]
&lt;a href="http://emilyhenry.bandcamp.com/"&gt;?&lt;/a&gt;
English
It's comforting to find young musicians who are still willing to rely on nothing more than their voice and the strumming of a guitar to anchor themselves. Emily Henry is just such a musician. 'Demo' is an LP's worth of folk music that is quite accomplished if these songs are indeed just demos. I would hope to see most of them on a future release. Of course this entire thing sinks or swims on her ability to play guitar and sing well enough to hold your interest for thirty minutes. Thankfully the guitar work is solid, and complements the voice work on display without overpowering it. An acoustic guitar can be versatile when used properly. Ms. Henry's vocal delivery is, to me at least, similar to Jewel, back when Jewel was still doing alt-country/folk music. The vocal range is more reigned in than Jewel, having a one-on-one intimate feeling to it that greater vocal gymnastics would have diluted, or simply wasn't the aim. To describe Ms. Henry's voice as pleasant comes off as a negative, but it is a good descriptor; her voice is simply pleasant to listen to. The lyrics are familiar territory for folk rock/singer songwriter; hurt, love, regret, longing, moving on. Hopefully you're not the subject of these lyrics, or the intimacy of the whole thing takes on a slightly darker tone. Even so, for fans of the folk-y side of the singer-songwriter genre, you can do a lot worse than Emily Henry's 'Demo'. I can't wait to hear what she does next.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Scarlet Phonebooth - 2011 - Stories Telling Stories to Ourselves

Jazz/Rock
[FOR FREE]
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://thescarletphonebooth.bandcamp.com/album/stories-telling-stories-to-ourselves"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
English
The Scarlet Phonebooth's new record, “Stories Telling Stories to Ourselves” is not an album that aims to follow any one particular direction. There is a raw, experimental sound to the whole thing. As if a bunch of friends got together and played whatever came to them, with a nonchalant attitude towards making a mistake here or there so long as everything comes together at the end. Free jazz by Tom Waits junkies. The singing is much the same way, it doesn't always work but it finds a role to fill and does so, never seeming out of place in any of the songs it appears (about half the album is instrumental). Of course, not every album you own features a philosophical argument on the nature of the universe, 'Storing Telling Stories to Ourselves' has such audacious content displayed on “The Blind Lead the Blind Through the Hall of Mirrors”. The instruments accentuating and playing around said conversation with rhythmic ease. It's not the most approachable album in the world, but it's an interesting journey with an off-the-wall destination you will not see coming.







Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interview #5 - Wing Dam

We recently had the chance to chat with Austin Tally; musician out of Baltimore Maryland, who was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few questions for wasfuersohr about his latest project and its recent self-titled release, Wing Dam. You can read our review of the Wing Dam EP here and head on over to Wing Dam's bandcamp to check out the album for yourself by clicking here.

Interview

Are you the sole member of Wing Dam or are there other contributors?

Yes, I am the sole member of Wing Dam. I make backing tracks on an old Casio CTK-601 keyboard (drum tracks, a few synth voices), a bass, and (on some tracks) a lap steel, and then build vocal and guitar loops live.

Wing Dam's bandcamp site mentions the record was recorded at 'Six Flags (Baltimore)'. Is this a studio on the theme park grounds or an unrelated 'Six Flags' recording studio?

As for Six Flags, that is actually the name of the house in Baltimore city where I live/record. In the past, other bands such as Nuclear Power Pants and Future Islands have recorded there, as well.

I have gotten questions about the name "Wing Dam," so maybe I should clarify: a wing dam is a type of dam that only goes part-way out into a river to create a faster channel in the center. I am originally from New Hope, Pennsylvania, and one of the main hang-out spots when I was living there was at a wing dam on the Delaware River. It is only very slightly higher than the water level, and often floods with an inch or two of water. Gives you the feeling of walking on the river itself.

The music has a very dream-like quality to it, conjuring up images of long ago summers and quiet contemplation. What, if anything from your experiences, did you draw inspiration from when putting the record together?

Well, the five songs on this EP were written over the course of probably three years. Some, like "Dig" for example, came from a while back when I was working on a farm in Pennsylvania for the summer. I work and rework these songs over the years; they change shape. They're informed by the original experiences that were there when I wrote the song, and everything else that has happened to me since. My aesthetic interests change (or maybe 'grow' is the right word?) and I continually try to make the songs the best they can be. I was a poetry major in college, and it's kind of like that-- they always say no poem is ever finished, there's only the most recent draft.

What records were you listening to while making Wing Dam, and did they have any affect on the shape that Wing Dam eventually took?

Well, I'm always listening to a pretty eclectic mix of genres, anything from jazz 78's from the 1920's to music my friends have been making during the past month. I don't stick to anything in particular for too long (but I also don't ever completely leave anything behind); there's too much good stuff out there. Recently I guess I've been listening to a lot of foreign music. I have a tape of Nepalese folk music that I keep coming back to. But if I had to pick, I suppose the two records I've been stuck on recently that might have had the most affect on the Wing Dam EP are Paul Simon's Graceland and the lovely, slightly insane and completely genius unfinished Beach Boys' album SMiLE (the original '66-'67 mixes, not the re-created 2004 version). I really have a place in my heart for percussive back-up vocals, and ever since I bought a loop station I've been digging building them up live.

What do you do in preparation for recording vocal tracks? You've got such a unique sounding voice, I have to assume you do some kind of vocal gymnastics before you record in order to achieve that sound.

(laughs) Hmm that's an interesting question-- I really don't do anything to prepare for recording vocals (except that I developed a little head-cold during the sessions for Wing Dam and had to take a break to let my sinuses clear up before I could record vocals for "Moon.") I just turn on the mic, add a little reverb/delay, and I'm good to go. Maybe that 'uniqueness' you’re talking about comes from a complete lack of any formal vocal training. I've just been figuring it out as I go along.

You mentioned the definition of 'wing dam' earlier, and told me about the feeling you got walking out onto one, sort of a 'walking on water' feeling. Do you try to translate that feeling of wonder and awe into the music you make, at least as far as Wing Dam is concerned? It does seem to have seeped into the cover art, if you don't mind me saying so, in a somewhat humourous fashion.

Yeah, that cover seems to sum up a "feeling of wonder and awe" pretty well, I think. (laughs) This project is all about water. And I guess I am too. Like I explained to you before, the wing dam was the spot on the Delaware River where we'd all go to hang out back in high school, and whenever I'm back in Pennsylvania. It's not sort of a 'walking on water' feeling, it really is walking on water-- the concrete lip floods over with a little sheen of water, you're walking halfway out onto the river and can't see what you're walking on.

Soon after I moved to Baltimore and came back to PA to visit, I realized how much of my life had been spent by water. Everywhere we'd hang out back home was by water: on a railroad trestle over a creek, under a bridge, on the wing dam. Or at the beach, where I've been going consistently since I was old enough to walk. That's why I'm not looking at Wing Dam as a temporary project -- it really [hopefully] sums up who I am.

As you've released music under your own name and obviously now as Wing Dam, do you see yourself expanding your musical palette further under any other monikers in the future?

Like I said earlier, I can't ever stick to one genre. Or one instrument. Or one musical project. I used to play in a folk duo called Silent Whys, I had a lo-fi dub side project, an electronic metal side project, an improvised dance music side project, some folkier stuff released under my own name. I'm sure I'll never stop 'expanding my musical palette' -- what I really want to do right now is find a bassist and a drummer and make some brutal, grinding, blackened death metal, or doom. Surprised? (laughs) But I'm definitely going to keep going with Wing Dam on top of whatever else I get into.

As a one-man band, is there any one aspect of the music that really grabs you? Perhaps you're in your element while mixing and mastering, or you've got your own little world while playing the guitar and everything else can wait.

Not quite sure what you mean by 'grabs,' but maybe this will answer your question: I love mixing/mastering, it's fun to get really focused on the little details, but the best part for me is definitely playing live. When you're recording it can be easy to lose track of the spontaneity of the music and get bogged down in EQ and post-production stuff. The real satisfaction for me comes from seeing it all come together, and sharing it with an audience.

As someone who lives and records in Baltimore, how would you describe the music scene there to someone that has never come into contact with it? [Like say, myself for instance.]

I was just home in PA last weekend actually, and I was trying to describe this to some of my friends there. It's hard to explain. Basically, there is a ton of music going on in Baltimore. No one genre has more presence than any other, I wouldn't say -- there's just lots of different acts doing their thing. Some bands are the only ones with that specific sound, others can sort of be grouped together. But there's a lot of individuality.

That being said, the music scene as a whole (or rather, the city as a whole) is very tightly-knit. They call it "Smalltimore" sometimes, and that's not far from the truth. Everyone knows everyone (for the most part). There's lots of collaboration, and people helping people get shows, or recording as guest musicians on albums/EPs, etc. I would say the only real way to get a sense for it is to come to town and see the range of types of great shows in any given week or so. It's impressive.

As sort of a follow up to your 'death metal' response earlier, I will say that after listening to Wing Dam, yes that is a bit of surprise. With that in mind, do you think your open-ended approach to the music you create allows you to come back refreshed and interested in a project or specific sound?

I definitely think so. Whenever I find myself in a rut, or stuck in a particular chord progression, or blanking on lyrics, I usually switch to a different style of music or a different instrument (probably why I play upwards of 10). Because of that, I master none of them, but get good enough to do what I want to do. Some projects come and go, but certainly all of them serve a purpose. They let you see things from different perspectives. There are only a few genres of music that I flat-out do not like. Only problem with that is, I have to have some kind of focus or I wouldn't get anything done (laughs).

As we're all fans of music here, do you have any recommendations for the readers/listeners that you think they should check out? From obscure to headlining acts, go buck wild.

Shoot, I got a bunch of recommendations (laughs). You asked for it! I'll stick with my friends' projects, and I'll still probably forget a couple. These all totally rule:

Amanda Glasser, who I used to play with in Silent Whys, has an amazing, hauntingly beautiful solo project called Saint Julien (saintjulien.bandcamp.com). I have another friend who records instrumental space-rock/krautrock-influenced stuff as Omoo Omoo (omoo-omoo.bandcamp.com).There's my friend William, who records under the name Baraka (facebook.com/barakajams). My friend Sara's band, who I played slide guitar with for a couple shows, is called Which Magic (whichmagic.tumblr.com / whichmagic.bandcamp.com). My roommate has an awesome electronic project called Skyway (no website at the moment, but if you're ever in Baltimore and see that on a flyer, check it out for sure!). Back home, my friend Ty shreds in a band called Mach 22 (findable on Facebook), my friend Bee plays in a sick punk band called Big Attack (bigattack.bandcamp.com). And last but certainly not least, my friend Chris Lyons (chrislyons.bandcamp.com) from PA (now living in New Orleans) -- one of the most talented songwriters I've ever met.

Any final thoughts on Wing Dam or in general?

empty acorn shell
reveals a small mandala --
the paths of water.

Thanks for listening!

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with us.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

General B and The Wiz - 2011 - General B and The Wiz

Blues Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://generalbandthewiz.bandcamp.com/album/general-b-and-the-wiz">?</a>
  • 11 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: In The Trees, Sally, The Wind
English
Don't judge an album by its cover, because sometimes there are records that need and deserve time to be appreciated despite the first impression. General B and The Wiz are setting a prime example of a collection of songs that might even have been considered an "instant classic" under different circumstances, an LP so well crafted people won't be able to do anything but agree on the quality of it. However, this insight might not be coming immediately to the listener, especially considering the album cover subconsciously often sets expectations. It took me a few times listening to the album, to finally understand the feeling these songs set out to accomplish. These songs don't always contain perfectly pitched tunes, but they contain a freedom of honesty, performed by people caring about the music they play. The initial impression you might get by listening is that these songs are kind of retro-outdated if you arent into that kind of music, but if you pay attention you'll notice that its hardly fair to criticize a band that used Rock, Country, Jazz and Pop elements in such a way as "outdated". The mixture of musical genres makes for a very captivating and rewarding listening experience if you are able to overlook the quite puzzling choice of album cover art and let yourself fall right into this genre crossing journey.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

WING DAM - 2011 - WING DAM

Indie Pop
[FOR FREE] 

&lt;a href="http://wingdam.bandcamp.com/"&gt;?&lt;/a&gt;
  • 5 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: BLOOM, FEATHERS
English
One's appreciation for WING DAM's eponymous EP of soothing indie pop will ultimately rest on whether or not the listener likes what the distinctive voice that Wing Dam singer Austin Tally brings to the table. It's impossible to describe, yet it's effortlessly catchy and perfectly fits with the tone of the music he's singing over. The music itself is a relaxing mix of alt-country rock and lo-fi pop, the kind of music that evokes summers at the cottage or listening to the rain patter down outside your window. If music could be happily melancholic, then Wing Dam might just be it. 'Mosquitoes' for example, is driven by a toe-tapping drum loop and winding guitar, but the lyrics juxtapose a troubled relationship with a deteriorating home. The music and lyrics play off each other beautifully. There is an impressive amount of work on display here, as Tally is essentially a one man band: playing, recording and producing the entire record himself at his home studio in Baltimore. If you're a fan of lo-fi and want your music to sound a little rough around the edges, this might be too polished for your tastes. But fret not, as Wing Dam doesn't come across like some Bob Rock-produced album you could see your reflection in. The last thing this record strives to sound like is slick and overproduced, just lovingly well crafted songs with enough polish to appeal to just about anyone. You'll be drawn in by its charm if you give it a chance.