Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lexi Scherr - 2012 - Spring

Folk pop
<a href="http://lexischerrmusic.bandcamp.com">?</a>
There is something about Lexi Scherr and her 2012 demo Spring that fills me with a completely immutable, uplifting joy. Maybe it’s the way her voice dodges in and out of the piano on opener “The Bomb”, navigating lines like “How do we keep pretending we can't be heroes? / We don't know how it ends, we gotta let it go” with the emotional rawness and honesty of a pro. Maybe it’s the unabashedly sunny arrangements here, full of bouncy piano, playful percussive touches, and booming drums. Maybe it’s just how doggone catchy it is. Maybe it’s all of those things.
It must be said that Scherr has a powerful grasp over her stories, such as the sorrow she channels on “Honey”, her resigned sendoff to a love she doesn’t feel she deserves. “Honey” is a stirring ballad, confined to just a piano and the voice that delivers it, and that’s exactly how it should be. Not that Scherr stays down for long: follow-up “Find You”, a song anybody who has ever stayed put in a downer relationship can relate to, has Scherr playing the plucky heroine as she promises to stay and help make things better. Perhaps it is the lyrics to this song that show why she is so relatable: she can take charge of a gloomy situation—and turn it back her way, an optimism that runs throughout many of the songs here.
These can be breezy, lonely days, and my heart is wanting for warmth again. Lexi Scherr has done a fantastic job with this five-song sampler, a soundtrack for many sunny afternoons and warm nights to come.

Friday, June 22, 2012

obe - 2019 - Rebuild

Post Rock
<a href="http://ordersofthebritishempire1.bandcamp.com/album/rebuild"
  • 4 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: What Would You Do
You may be asking yourself, “Where is the instrumental post-rock loving Gabbo at?”, and I would reply, “Right here!”, and I've got a new record to recommend. Yes, obe's (that's “Orders of the British Empire”) 'Rebuild', a post-rock EP filled to the brim with atmosphere as much as it is hard hitting, and it's plenty hard. The atmosphere is where the guitar gets let out to play, with bluesy riffs expanded out into the ether. These slower sections and all of “Roundabouts” are a little gloomy, especially when it's seemingly just keyboards building upon themselves with a drum lick or guitar note fluttering through the gray. The faster, sections are technical showpieces for the wall of guitars coming out of your speakers. These may twinge with metal's ferocity, but it's not haphazardly ferocious. No, the band showcases their artistry in these sections by keeping things technical, but under control. The music is well crafted so that everything fits nicely in place: hard rock melting away into low key post-rock tinkering without losing a beat, and vice-versa. The slower atmospheric sections gradually building to the explosive thunder of the hard rock with a natural progression. The band's bandcamp page lists 'cinematic' as one of their tags, and I would say that description fits quite well..To my brain it sounds a bit like the soundtrack for 28 Days Later, if Aaron Turner (of Isis) had been involved in the song writing or Friday Night Lights had music as hard as the hits in the film. You might hear something completely different. There is really only one negative thing that stuck out for me on this EP, and it's the drumming on the opening track “Rebuild with Gunpowder”. The drumming in parts of the song sound out of time with the rest of the instruments, and while it may have been intentional to give the song a stuttering, progressive rhythm, that rhythm is difficult to listen to, sounding so disjointed as it does. The drumming is superb on the rest of the EP, and I would be hesitant to think one rough spot is enough to derail listening to this record.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Extra David - 2012 - releasing 1200 ladybugs off the roof of a building

Rock and Roll
<a href="http://extradavid.bandcamp.com/"

And now a rock album your parents might say they remember hearing back when they still listened to relevant music (mine are old enough to at least). Extra David have released 'releasing 1200 ladybugs off the roof of a building', which sounds like it was recorded on equipment straight from the early days of rock and roll, and the music itself certainly harkens back to a time when Kieth Richards was still verify-ably alive. '1200 ladybugs' throw a little bit of everything from rock's yesteryear on top of the straight forward guitar and drum driven music: surf, punk, pschyedelic, and funk, in a span of four tunes. The title of the first track sums up the feeling I have of this record, “FUN FUN FIN”, an awesome time over before you know it. If I didn't know better I'd get up and dance to this, and if I had me another lava lamp, I'd throw a swinging 60's party to this. Too bad about the lamp... Each song is a little sample of something different, sans any lyrics. Some might say it sounds cheap and unrefined, and I'm sure Extra David would agree with me in saying that sound is part of the appeal and charm of this music. I don't come looking for instrument wankery and superior studio polish, and Extra David bring their A-game and a great EP. In fact I would say cleaning this up would ruin the music outright. For two guys in an Boston apartment (yeah bedroom rock record here), rock and roll hasn't sounded this much fun in a long time. I just want more, and you will too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sideasideb - 2012 - Car Sex

Alternative Rock
<a href="http://sasb.bandcamp.com/"

With easily the best record name of the year, Sideasideb are mining the outer edges of alternative rock music with 'Car Sex', with surprisingly listenable results. I'm going to use 'wankery' in the affirmative now because this album is filled with it, but unlike a lot of other records (half the records with the name 'The Mars Volta' on them, say) where the band lets loose with crazy guitar licks, effects pedals, and bursts of machine gun drumming, Sideasideb inject these moments into fully realized pop songs, not try to form songs around the noise. Nothing clocks in longer than three and half minutes either, a good sign we're not into progressive rock concept album territory. The vocals tend to fall into the 'dream-like' category (both singers) which gives 'Car Sex' a rather surreal tone - “The Cascade Room” for instance is like a walk down memory lane with rose-tinted glasses. “10 Speed” follows this pattern closely, until its midsection turns into a nightmare and the experimental aspects of the album kick off their initial appearance. Not content to simply bust out pop rock sound experiments for 6 tracks, Sideasideb take aim at different genres throughout album (and more straight forward things get on), going with post-rock on “Plum Trees Snow Laden”, while “Situation Smoke”s vocals and drums dominate the acoustic garage rock. Every songs sounds different than the last, but everything is held together by the dreamy quality the songs share and the occasional bit of instrumental mayhem. Treat yourself to some 'Car Sex', you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Swaren Veygal - 2012 - The Amalgamation EP

<a href="http://swarenveygal.bandcamp.com">?</a>
Oh my. While I’ve never been to a club before in my life (what an exciting life high school is), music as bold and colorful as this just hits my sweet spot. On second thought, though, just calling this music “sweet” understates the impact this release makes. Swaren Veygal crafts some catchy tunes, sure, but even better, he imbues what could be soulless and disposable with intelligence and passion, every song packed with detailed little touches designed to max out the sweat glands and crush the cynics among a roller coaster of jagged, rushing rises and thundering falls. The songs here are top-caliber, visiting every genre under the sun (from electronic to modern rock to hip-hop to dubstep to soul to house to drum ‘n bass) without missing a single beat. Whether he’s channeling swelling, romantic lust on “Impossible to Hide” or just going explosive without regard for anybody’s safety on “The Longest Day”, Veygal pulls it off without straining or breaking a sweat. The energy is constantly electrifying, as well, and the way cuts like “The 10th Evil” and “Oh Shivers” just dare you to get out of your seat elevate the listen from merely impressive to immersive. So for those of us who are cramped, exhausted, locked and chained to desks and cubicles, this may be our chance to escape. If this EP is anything to go by, Veygal promises even greater getaways to come soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Panther Ray - 2012 - Parallel Motions

Rock and Roll
Parallel Motions
<a href="http://pantherray.bandcamp.com/"
  • 8 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Soar, Memory Bank
'Parallel Motions' is thick with the haziness of rock and roll, with the kinds of instrumental and vocal effects that one might come to expect from a psychedelic record, and probably the warmest sounding bass I've heard in some time. Sticking to a structure that's mostly grounded in pop is where Panther Ray situate themselves for most of this record, with songs like “Water Towers” and “Color Tilt” being excellent examples of straightforward rock and roll with little in the way of effects playing a very large role in the proceedings. The fourth track, “Memory Bank”, it's the money maker here, hands down. Panther Ray could launch an entire iProduct line with that song it's so damn catchy. Seriously guys, this is the song car commercials use to drive off into the sunset. There is no shame is having more people hear your music in an advertisement if it means you can keep doing this. On the other hand a couple of the tracks play up the psychedelia end of things to quite good effect, specifically “Soar” which is built around what sounds like a reversed drum beat that's been looped. And I guess this is the one let down of the album for me. There are hints of the band exploring the space around them and dipping their toes into expanding their sound (surf and ambient pop up in controlled bursts). They're flirting with psychedelia really, never diving headlong into it. A shame, as their fleeting gestures to it are some of the records best.