Friday, December 27, 2013

Records of the Year 2013 - Editorial Picks

I hope you guys had a great 2013! We saw a few people leave and marked the arrival of our newest writer and of course saw a ton of great free records. Once again, we want to share with you which of these we considered our favorites and recommend you to check any of these.
Marco's Top 3
My aural 2013 was the rediscovery of 2011. Since I still have about a million records on my to-do list, I am still feverishly listening through all the stuff I bookmarked years ago. My list contains all the records I liked the most in 2013, and probably none of you reading this heard about in 2011, despite that being the release year.
Sea Oleena - Sleeplessness : Ambient Indie/Pop

A dreamy pop record that dances on the line between waking and sleep. A perfect record for those moments early in the morning, where the realization hits that the next day is inevitably coming and we need to let go of the last.
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Pyramid - Lost in Space : Electronica

One of the best Electronica records to ever grace my ears, which transports you to  another dimension full of undiscovered dangerous worlds, hidden secrets, adventures, adventures you'll want to experience over and over again.
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Bernard Kogovsek - Tolmun : Ambient Folk

Without any exaggeration, this is the best classic instrumental record that I ever listened to. The guitar work here is nothing short of outstanding and manages to grip the listeners with the most simple sounds and arrangements.
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Matthew's Top 3
It was a diverse year, yet again, if you don't count my huge fixation with 80's synthrock/pop revival the glut of artists I didn't know existed, but ended up consuming my entire summer with shiny plastic sheen. Regardless of my trip down ME-generation lane, here's what I picked for my favourite releases of 2013.
Garden - Burnt Out: Experimental

Burnt Out was the EP to blissfully chill out to, and let wash over me. It brought the psychedelia better than any other album for me this year, and to find it just after a troubling semester of classes was a big plus for me. What better way to leave worries behind than a nice musical trip? None I say!
 
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Outrun Europa Compilation: Electronic/Synth

So, welcome to the soundtrack of my summer. I had heard glimpses of this little retro-revival sound last year, but I didn't realize just how big a deal it was until right around OutRun Europa and its 30 tracks blasted away just about every other record I had from my playlist for two months. That's only partly exaggerated. This collection of plastic fantastic retro synthrock/pop is just too damn good not be in my year end recommendations. Read the full length review here to get your ME-generation going into overdrive.
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Flod – Kurs: Post Rock

Lastly on my 2013 list of music eargasm, I bring you Flod and their LP, Kurs. I knew right from the cover art that this was no ordinary post-rock record awaiting me, and I was right. Choral singing, an almost distinct lack of guitar, a hint of world music? Yes please, and let it rock. And it definitely does, and I can't recommend it enough.

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Alex's Top 1
Alex is our newest entry to the reviewing team and because of that hasnt gotten around to reviewing too much yet. Due to that, he presents his favourite record he reviewed for us last year:
Phantom Power - Static States : Chillwave

Static States has continued to be a set that I continuously listen to. As far as I'm concerned, that probably won't change soon. I've somewhat of an indifferent person and the slower tempo tracks here hit the spot.
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Skinny Girls - 2013 - If I Am What You Want Sometimes


Ambient
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://skinnygirls.bandcamp.com/"
  • 8 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Sugarbliss
Impressions
It's not often I get follow up records through our bandcamp scours, they tend to come from follow up emails or the artists themselves contacts us. Low and behold a Skinny Girls (who I last reviewed here) record comes down the pipe for me to explore. Kate Moss stalking is out this time around, and so too is the cold minimalist approach, here replaced with a warmer sound, a greater cohesiveness and structure to both song and record alike that outdoes its predecessor. The switch from away darker thematic content to something comparatively brighter affords Skinny Girls a different sonic palette to create with, well as much as music based entirely around keyboards and synthesizers stretching single notes out to infinity and layering them on top of each other can. Things do tend to remain minimalist, and as I said, all synthesizer based, but now instead of noise and industrial groans we get what I can only describe as New Age love songs. “Tired Smiles” is the song for two people exhausted from their day sitting in the same room, not speaking, simply content. The slow note changes give the song a hymn-like quality that really does put your mind at ease. Things, yeah things are good. Of course, a Skinny Girls record wouldn't be complete without one track that flies in the face of everything I just said, and “City Girl, I Hate Your Friends” is that song, sounding like a plane taking off in a vacuum cleaner it's the closest things get to “Kate Moss”. That ringing really jumps out at you after 4 tracks of relative calm. That being the case, “Song for The Spine” actually sticks out more that “City Girls”, sounding like Christmas music through a broken AM radio, all jangles and simple keyboard notes shrunk down to miniature. Skinny Girls have afforded themselves that kind of breathing room. Some will find the record boring, and there may be an argument to be made for that. If you're not on board by track 3, you can probably look elsewhere, but if you haven't left by then, sit back and let Skinny Girls do the rest. Certainly fans of Skinny Girls will enjoy, others approach with New Age-y care.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Frowning Trees - 2013 - Keep the Glow

Lo-Fi Shoegaze Folk Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://frowningtrees.bandcamp.com/album/keep-the-glow"
Impressions
Against my expectations, this record seems to be rather divisive. I enjoyed listening to Frowning Trees immensely because I thought these guys did a great job of embracing the Lo-Fi nature of these tracks and integrated it into the sound as an elemental part of the listening experience by mixing melodic guitar riffs and vocals with diffuse background noise. Even though I know that certain genres and sub genres are not everyone's cup of tea, its easy to forget how simple you can throw someone off guard with "imperfect" music if he is used to consuming music that has been produced for the radio/with mass audiences in mind. Keep the Glow isnt perfect, and it obviously doesnt need to be to pull me in with its charme. It even has some flaws that distract me a bit too much and take me out of the experience at times, especially something like varying volume levels and a certain track of which I am personally not too fond of, but overall this is a damn fine record that is very well worth listening and dreaming off to. If you are put off at first, take my advice and try once more later. At one point you'll stop caring about the "imperfectness", and just embrace this record for what it is - a magnificient piece of music that is well worth being the soundtrack to many dreamy evenings.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Whitfield - 2009 - Tornado Cutie

Britpop/ Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://whitfield.bandcamp.com/"
  • 6 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Top Of The World, Talk
Impressions
There is music I can feel nostalgia for even if I never listened to a band before. When Whitfield fell into my hands and I started listening to it, I noticed how much I miss the Indie bands from the early 2000's. Top of the World evokes that memory, and I was thinking back to the Killers concert I've attended years ago, while Talk has a certain Coldplay touch to it. If your music can evoke those memories and comparisons, then you certainly know your way around your instruments. However, this also highlights the issues with these tracks, since they seem slightly derivative overall. Almost all tracks are of the highest quality and very enjoyable to listen to, but Whitfield probably play it a bit too safe to stand out of the huge Indie/Pop crowd. These guys are good, but if I am being constantly reminded of other, great bands, then I end up listening to the other bands I am being reminded of instead of listening to these songs.
These tracks might not manage to stick to the wall for too long, but that doesnt mean that its not worth listening to Tornado Cutie. I actually wish these guys were better well known so for their next album they could start working on these little aspects that distinguishes the great bands in the genre. There is a lot of potential here, and I sure hope these guys manage to grow as a band to fulfull it at one point.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Flod - 2013 - Kurs


Post Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://flod.bandcamp.com/album/kurs"
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: RÍU
Impressions
Impressive records impresses. It's also one of the few records I instantly knew I'd be putting up on the blog, no hesitation. It's been a while since I've come across my genre of genres post-rock on bandcamp (admittedly I haven't been able to devote as much time to reviews, but I digress). To hear an entire records worth of so called “post-rock”, and not have guitars blazing the trail is not only surprising, it's one of the best features of the record! Some of the most evocative sections feel more sound like they're ambient electronic, sliding between Lustmordian darkness (such as the later half of “Lumi”) and synth-heavy folk music, where in the 'chimes' really do it for me. The trumpet and trombone The violin/cello opening of Riu is a sobering attacca to Lumi's final moments, especially as lead-in to the cymbal crescendo at the 30 second mark. I tend to dislike post-rock music with singing. for me, lyrics distract from the music itself, but Flod have gone and turned that entire notion on its ear, choosing to indulge in choral singing that could not fit more perfectly with the music. Having everyone in the band sing gives the lyrics a warmer feel when they're lucid, and the songs a grander sense of scope when they're not. That I feel I hear at least a twinge of traditional Chinese/Japanese music in the tracks (YMMV here) is another aspect that is rather uncommon, but certainly sumptuous for the ears to take in as a whole.

 I've wanted to get this review out a lot quicker than I did, because I have to spread the word: “Flod is amaze-balls! Listen to them!”. For that I apologize. The music more than makes up for the wait. So don't make the mistake I did and get it now!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hunter Jones - 2013 - Demos

Ambient Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://hunterjones.bandcamp.com"
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Laurel
Impressions
Ever feel like just listening to something other than your thoughts? Long day and riding the bus home with fog on the windows? Hunter Jones, dear friends. This demo is roomy and spacious, and ironically, does have a space-like feeling (especially Space Nap, of course). I like when artists explore and don’t follow structure, which is the beauty of instrumental tracks (like the last three songs). Words can’t compete with musical instruments, because words have definitions, only varying by connotation; and while music may vary with tones, it cannot be defined entirely.
With that being said, I wouldn’t expect anyone to enjoy this type of music that’s not a patient listener, because not too much is going on. This sounds like an Explosions in the Sky demo, without all the fancy and expensive effect switches and doo-hickeys that make pretty sounds. However, this demo has good vibes all around, perfect for birthday parties (as advertised). These tracks are typically about three layers: thick drums, luminous lead guitar, and a special third layer, whether it be hazy guitar or under-the-radar bass (although there are four layers at times). It starts with the catchy Pizza Shop, which certainly grew on me even more after 3rd listen, and next with Laurel being more in the middle in terms of flow and less reverb. The last three are more open-ended with shoegaze vibes and playful progressiveness with more of that reverb I mentioned. It feels like each song is recorded in a small, white room with hardwood floors and no objects other than music equipment. For this, the demo may feel slightly empty, but I feel like that was the goal: there is a mix of both dreamy sounds and traditional ones. I just wish more of the tracks were exploratory like Space Nap, or the last two, and I will look forward to a full length release if there is one.
Above all, I learned to really like this demo. It is without any razzle or dazzle but full of pure blends of riffs, feel-goodies, and a certain radiance I can’t really find the word for. Just listen to it all before you judge.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

sunofthesol.- 2013 - Just Breathe.


Hip-hop instrumental
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://sunofthesol.bandcamp.com/album/just-breathe"
  • 14 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Up And Up
Impressions
“Finally found what I was looking for” was my exact thought when I was a few tracks through this album; a mix of lo-fi beats swimming in less than sufficient quality, full of pleasant and unfashioned moments with barely enough static to propel across this river of tape (pretty specific taste, right?). Although these are beats, they’re not bangers (of head banging stature, maybe bobbing) but rather, the kinds that make one smile and listen or just sit back to enjoy a combination of easy, refreshing chopped up samples. Each of these tracks is almost like transitioning for a staged play, but at the same time can act as background for a muted scene in a variety of films. There are several high moments with recollective, sweet feelings (Sunshine of My...) as well as lows with slower or darker themes (Clips), and even songs that just make you want to stop and think (Out the Dark). While the samples are refreshing however, there isn't much in the way of mixing up how these beats are displayed. Additional track layers or perhaps experimenting with song structure would have been fun. This album may be too simple, but one can argue against that as well, because it makes this an easy, enjoyable listen. These tracks are built off of short samples and propel into a fibrous beat, with the choppiness being a highlight. Of course there’s occasional dialogue lines, which is always a must for any beat tape, and in Just Breathe. they are used sparingly and fittingly.  El Viaje’s ending is a heartwarming sample of father and sun (get it?) which adds new appearance to the track. Another noticeable ending is Buitiful’s quote, “I’ve gotta be happy”, referring to one’s faith and principles. It’s an ideal way to start Sol by Hailo and end this album. I’ll also note that it’s a short listen, which is another reason I’ve listened to this several times by now.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rate of Rise - 2011 - Rate of Rise EP

Indie Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://rateofrise.bandcamp.com/album/rate-of-rise-ep"
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Fictacious, Phases 
Short one since we are a bit short on content lately, if you feel like trying yourself out with musical reviews, please feel free to get in touch via mail at wasfuersohr@gmail.com.
Impressions
I wonder when I'll be done with the records that I am carrying around with me for years already. This is another one of those records with a song that haunts my eardrums long after the track ended and  Rate of Rise disappeared again into the obscurity of my review playlist. Fictatious is incredibly catchy, melodic and driving Indie Rock track, destined to be sung and danced along to. I cant really say these guys have any bad track on this record and Rate of Rise showed an interesting variety of styles here, going from the more harder hitting rock track Case of the Mondays directly to the more house and synthpop inspired Envi. The only issue I possibly see with these tracks is that, with the exception of possibly Envi, they arent taking it far enough to stand out from a crowd of bands with a rather similar style of music.
Still, its good music and even if the record and general style of music isnt groundbreaking, not every band needs to or even should feel the need to reinvent the wheel. Rate of Rise EP is fun and thats what matters in the end. Its energetic Indie Rock thats just plain fun to listen to with just enough musical surprises to make the listener curious about the next track. I am sure this band would be one to take note of if they had the money to evolve and cultivate their own style of music.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Phantom Power - 2013 - Static States


Chillwave
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://phantompower.bandcamp.com/album/static-states"
Impressions
Bliss with a hook. That’s ultimately the majority of what I hear in Static States. Interpol (Turn on the Bright Lights) vibes ringing all around surround the listener with calm, night-time city senses. I feel at peace, captivated by the subtlety of sonic perfection. The double layered vocals provide a sense of comfort and relief as they slowly guide what could be the best and most appropriate bass lines I’ve ever heard by a record of this style. Whether the bass is pounding [off the beat] like part of a heavy, vintage drum kit or reeling in with lovable lines [on the beat] like ushering a ghost through NYC’s dirty streets, I was amazed at how deeply influential these low frequency dances were. Keyboard fills up the ears with warm and wavy strokes, and creates the brighter colors, if Static States were a painting; and light guitar presented in a variety of styles sends chills of fond memories. It’s almost a crime to analyze Static States instrument by instrument because flow of noise and mastering are superb. There’s a laid-back aesthetic laying down almost romantic feelings, like wanting to go back to sleep just to dream of that special person. The slight lo-fi quality is what sold me the most, and I usually don’t consider recording quality. But how could I not when it’s so appropriately thick? It’s mixed very professionally but feels like everything was recorded in a cramped bedroom. It’s most nearly that which allowed me to call this my own music, so to speak. One of the best finds I’ve found on this website, by far.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sea Baths - 2013 - Guilt, Shame and Regret


Post Punk
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://seabaths.bandcamp.com/album/guilt-shame-and-regret"
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Guilt Shame And Regret
Impressions
This album is probably the most unpolished record I've heard in a while on bandcamp. Being recorded in an artists 'messy bedroom' will do that I suppose. And yet, despite its rough around the edges sound, I find myself really enjoying Guilt, Shame and Regret, an EP by Sea Baths. It's got its ear quite clearly turned to early 80's post-punk. The lack of polish gives each track a certain gloomy atmosphere, guitars being plucked, and reverberating in a large, empty space, and what electronics and synths are utilized only add to that feeling of emptiness. Honestly, what drew me to this record is the guitar work. That isn't to say Guilt is filed with mind blowing riffs or complex time signatures, no, it's the sparseness, the simplicity that I liked about them. The absence of any discernible bass is readily and immediately apparent, so the rhythm section is a bit under powered on the low end, but the drum and guitars work well as a duo. A melancholy duo, with the drums supplementing the guitars, keeping time, but nothing more. The lyrics are rather hard to understand – both because singer (and bedroom producing Bath-er) Sebastian Mercado's voice is shrouded in atmospheric echo and because his delivery sounds like warbling from time to time. Not on a Dylan level of completely unrecognizable, but still not easy parse out and probably the worst aspect of an album that already wears its lo-fi on its sleeve. Heck, its entire sleeve is made of lo-fi. Still, I can't turn the album away for having kinda crummy singing. On a technical level bad, but it really does fit in with the rest of the album atmospherically. I can't turn an entire album away for one flaw (not even halfheartedly), and I don't think anyone reading this review should either.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cliff Kuhn-Lloyd - 2011 - Hello

Indie Pop
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://cliffkuhnlloyd.bandcamp.com/album/hello"
  • 5 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Pencil Dance, Angelina
Impressions
The impatient listener may be forgiven if he glossed over this record skipping into track 1 and 5 and decided to not give it any more attention. All the others however, will notice that Cliff Kuhn-Lloyd's Hello is certainly among the better Singer-Songwriter Pop EP debuts they've probably come across. As I already hinted at, it doesnt start off that strong and also ends on a comparably low note, but the 3 tracks in between more than make up for it. Pencil Dance and Maybe We All Win seem a bit detached with their diffuse voice samples and create a haunting atmosphere that really sticks out and manages to be catchy, while being unobtrusive enough so I still can listen to them even when I went through this EP a million times in the past few months. These magnificiently and carefully arranged songs evoke a sense of intrigue and mystique that you'll likely still enjoy hearing and diving into on your subsequent record repeats. The follow-up Angelina forms a nice contrast to that and shows his playful side. Just as catchy, but upbeat and a bit more romantically dreamy, this track is a perfect summer track about his views on a certain special person. Even if there are some obvious quality differences here even within those 5 tracks, Cliff Kuhn-Lloyd doesnt only have potential, he already shows how to employ that potential to make some wonderfully crafted pop songs, and I sure hope its not the end his story.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Passive Standouts - 2013 - The Passive Standouts

Indie Punk Rock
[FOR FREE]
Impressions
More like The Passive Standups because that’s all I want to do when I listen. This self-titled album spits out rather gritty tunes with ferocity and flare but nothing of an angry nature. They are a 3 piece punk rock band with what sounds to me like plenty of Arctic Monkeys influence (1st album). But what makes this album so fun? Layers! As far as the eye can see. No but really, these guys really know how to jam and that’s one of my favorite things about really rad bands. Jamming out is what turns a two minute rock song into a three of four minute I WANNA ROCK song. More importantly, their name is so accurate. They do stand out and yes, in a passive manner. Stand out with a different edge and focus but passively accessible. These talented boys make indie tightly knitted in a punk beat. Sometimes you get a distorted and shreddy solo, sometimes you get a smoothly groovy bass line, and if you’re lucky the drummer will fill you up with nitrogen. This is a band I’d love to watch live.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rhythm and Hues - 2013 - The Live EP

Jazz
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://rhythmandhues.bandcamp.com/"
  • 6 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Taureau
Impressions
Jazz concept album? Jazz concept album! Being the curious cat that I am, a concept album based around the 12 Chinese zodiac signs gets my attention based on pitch alone. The Live EP is 6 tracks of jazz fusion as part of a Montreal art installation that gets a bit more complex the more I try to explain (and thus I may influence how you, reader, interpret the music. Also, yes, I know there are only 6 tracks, but 12 zodiac signs. If you go to their bandcamp page, the whole project is explained in greater detail.
Anyway, the music starts out as rather low key jazz for the most part, songs built around slow moving, baselines, minimal drums and percussion, and occasionally a flute. The tempo picks up considerably after “Lapin兔”and kick in with as much percussion as you could possibly want. Seriously, there are at least 5 different style of drums used on this EP, and as you could expect each adds a distinct sound and feel you likely aren't going to get anywhere else – let alone a minute plus long percussion/drum solo on “Singe! “Taurneau 牛”is my favourite track of the six, sounding like a cross between a cheapo 70's kung fu film's soundtrack and the best film noir that jazz could possibly narrate. The bass on that track is just out of this world. Not sure if represents a Bull, but that doesn't matter. Sarah Linhares' vocals are also a highpoint, despite her not voicing a word the entire record. Linhares' is singing in something akin to “vocalese”, where she's more or less singing the notes of an instrument, and, while there is no consensus around the wasfuersohr office, they occasionally sound like a word-less narrative. Given the nature of th project and the subject matter, that would not surprise me in the least. These tracks come highly recommended, jazz enthusiasts or not.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cloud@Last - 2013 - gloryus EP

darkwave
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://cloudatlast.bandcamp.com/"
  • 6 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Simple
Impressions
Ah yes, soft prolonged bass drum noises synced with artificial notes. A classic combo in today’s electro music. This EP demonstrates great lyrics, washed up vocals, mellow beats, and a variety of electronic sounds. When I listen to gloryus, I feel like I’m flying blindly in a parade of cold wind and scattered breezes but more like floating. The philosophical aspect of wave music is all here. Nostalgia is present in a fluffy cloud and constantly hovering nearby. The reason this took so well with me was because I know the potential of chillwave: the effect it can create in a listener and up until now, I have not been satisfied. In this EP there are common goals set in each song (like building up and leading to catchy choruses sprinkled with foggy melodies) which drew me in, yet enough experimentation to not get bored or be able to predict tones. I also don’t even have to look at the lyrics to understand what is portrayed in each song, I just feel it. This reminds me of a collaboration between Washed Out and a winter sounding Neon Indian, and back to the artificialness, it is hardly present here. There is such a calming and natural vibe with each note and wave sound. The first half is more jubilant than the second half but it’s as if it depresses into this darker atmospheric tunnel, like you’re floating higher and higher after each track. It ends beautifully with a two-part eight minute saga of dreaming and nightmares, and after it’s done one can’t help but feel like they experienced a trance hallucination. I will not get my head out of the clouds.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nika Smith - 2010 - s k i n

Lofi Folk Pop
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://musicnikasmith.bandcamp.com/album/s-k-i-n"
  • 6 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Ego, My Heart Window
Impressions
There is something rather personal about these lo-fi releases. Unpolished as lo-fi records naturally tend to be, they often seem to be able to evoke the feeling of a more hands on approach compared to perfectly produced records that are calculated from beginning to end. Nika Smith is quite talented, which is plainly obvious in a few standout tracks that do a great job of capturing the interest of someone skimming through her music. She is also among the few artists realizing that the first spot on a record is a very, very important one in this hard-fought independent scene and Track 1 on s k i n, Ego, and the first track on iii, Kiss My Bottle of Wine, are both tracks that you definitely should give a listen. Her other songs are good as well, but most of them unfortunately seem to drown a bit in the overall mood of her music because they are stylistically too similar and didn't manage to be distinguishable enough in my head even after relistening both records about 10 times. To be fair, one should mention here that she did remedy that shortcoming with some more recent recordings like The Shaman & The Hunt, which shows more of her musical versatility. If you feel like supporting her, you can grab it on top of the free records mentioned earlier for $3 here: http://theshamanandthehunt.bandcamp.com/album/playscape
However, even with the flaws that s k i n has, it is undeniable that these songs are filled with charme, personality and a certain closeness that make me care about what Nika is humming into empty space of this room we share when this record runs over my speakers. She is most certainly a welcome visitor in this apartment and I look forward to her next visit with new stories to tell.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Pirate Jenny - 2013 - Shipwreck Special

Ska/Pirate Rock 
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://piratejenny.bandcamp.com/"
  • 11 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: The Derelict, Overboard
Impressions
Here's one for you, what would an indie rock band sound like if they wrote songs as if they were pirates roaming the high seas? Well you need not ponder any longer as Pirate Jenny are indeed a band of salty seadogs belting out the best in pirate-themed rock music (there's a sentence one doesn't get to type too often). Apparently 'pirate rock' is an actual thing, which is news to me, and it sounds a bit like ska and indie rock music themed around, well, pirates and life at sea. I would have thought such a silly gimmick would probably involve some terrible music. I was be wrong. These guys take the music seriously, with 11 well crafted and extremely catchy tunes of the pirate life. A lot of it appears to be typical four piece at first listen – 2 guitars, drums and bass, but the extra instruments the band affords themselves (like an accordion, steel drum, xylophone[?!], electric organ, piano) really do give things a cartoonishly accurate sound, conjuring up eye patches, be-parroted shoulders, steins full of grog and life on tall ships albeit one that's more Spongebob colourful than it is bouts of scurvy and 15th/16th century sea crime. There's even a couple contemplative songs that explore the toll life at sea can take on ones psyche (“Overboard”) to uh.. ground the proceedings. Pirate life isn't all swashbuckling and wenches after all. “Postmodern Pirates” could almost pass for Devo-eqsue, with a pirate reflecting on the pirates place in the world. Honestly, I may have called the pirate thing silly earlier, but these guys are so obviously aware of that, diving in headlong anyway. So even if you have a big smirk on your face at the lyrics (final track “All Ships Rock” for instance, which takes a peg-legged cue from Queen style rock ballads) because you cannot take them seriously, you'll still enjoy yourself. Definite guilty pleasure material folks. Shipwreck may be Pirate Jenny's first full release in over a decade, but it doesn't sound like a cash-in with no soul that a lot of bands choose to do after so long. I guess it's hard for a pirate to phone it in... Give it a listen yee landlubber or be forced to walk the plank.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Oh, My! - 2013 - This Be Weird E.P.

Post Punk
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://ohmyband.bandcamp.com/album/this-be-weird-e-p"
  • 4 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Subconscious Living
Impressions
Oh, My!'s name is tailor-made for all manner of headline, though I will spare you any for this review. I cannot help but hear old Sonic Youth in here. That's all I'll say about it, since there isn't more to it than that (I think it's something about the vocals - go listen to SY's “Eric's Trip”, come back and listen to Oh, My! and see if it's all in my head.) Now on to This Be Weird. It's an EP of four floor stomping, chest pounding tracks from the Sacramento quintet known as Oh, My! Things start off auspiciously enough, a lone drumbeat intro and get a little math-y, a little prog-y, all good, from there on out. The vocals are easily decipherable (even the throat-shredding yells), which is something that will instantly sink or swim a post-hardcore record for me. Here the triple vocals are a real treat, two males and a smokey-voiced female. She has a blues rock vibe that's reminiscent of the angry female that Juliette Lewis conjures up on her records, the male lead gives a forceful, commandeering yelp that's very speak-sing as if he will not stop until you've seen things his way, and oh will you. Closing things off with a five and a half minute, guitar-driven instrumental is rather ballsy, especially when the tempo of the song starts off so much slower than the previous tracks, but I don't think this EP could have ended any other way. It's just a perfect crescendo (even if “Gold Rush” itself never really has one) to the album. The whole EP builds and builds, then subsides, awash in an anxious atmosphere of strings that simply dies away, taking all anxiety and anger with it. I may have missed some of the deeper meaning going on in the lyrics, but I will be listening to this EP a lot in the coming days and weeks, so if there is more to it, I'll suss it out. I would suggest you all do the same and give Oh, My!'s This Be Weird E.P. a go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marton Lovei - 2011 - Emotions EP

Dubstep/Electronica
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://martonlovei.bandcamp.com/"
  • 4 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: The Way Its Seems To Be
Impressions
Beauty out of simplicity. We are quite busy these days and didnt get to update the blog for a few days, so I hope this little musical view of life helps dealing with us lately being slightly more unregular than usual. Its hard to give the smaller things in life the attention they deserve, especially when constantly being overshadowed by something that actively seeks attention. Here a few words from the author on this little EP that might just go unnoticed if it werent for you now reading this paragraph and being open to exploring the little things in life: 
  • One thing thats consistent throughout, is the slow bpm. That is really just a commentary on life, and my view of it. Life always seems to just slow down in the most emotional and tumultuous times of life and I think that a slower bpm can really portray a feeling of sadness quite well. Also another idea that is used quite a bit throughout is a wobble bass. Firstly thats just because I love a wobble bass in 4/4 music, its a really unique sound and can work bloody well. Also its supposed to reflect a sort of stuttering, an inconsistency, a weakness on the part of the bassline, the driving portion of the tune. Kinda reflecting that life isnt driven by some constant, or some benevolent faction, but instead instead we stumble, stutter, and crawl forward in our lives, almost at random. Though each tune has a lot of thought and symbolism put into it, these are the general themes I was trying to convey with this ep, and I hope that if anyone listens to them they can kind of get the grasp of the message, and also be able to relate to it in the context of their own experiences and emotions. Or you can just enjoy some decent music, either or Im happy :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

These Monsters - 2013 - Call Me Dragon

Progressive/Punk Rock
[FOR FREE]
Call Me Dragon
<a href="http://thesemonsters.bandcamp.com/album/call-me-dragon"
  • 7 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Space Ritual, Deaf Machine
Impressions
I've spent the past month and a bit in the reflective gleam of retro synthwave, more or less ignoring any other sounds on my musical horizons (for better or worse). The hard-hitting punk rock of These Monsters put the boots to that 80's haze pretty quickly. These four guys from Leeds lay down hefty slabs of punk wrapped in a wicked tapestry of progressive and post-rock (dat Sax!) that was just what I needed to remember what music can sound like. I say progressive and post-rock play a role here because while there are vocals (and I assume lyrics as well), they're more of a tribal wail into the mic, that's buried in the mix most of the time (I almost didn't realize it was singing at first), and the songs have a free-form flow to them, with songs gliding effortlessly into the next like a tale born of guitars riffs, and into and out of noodling instrumental flourishes without killing the pacing. That said, while 'Biggie and Tupac' is an interesting listen from a technical standpoint, and a decent song, the album doesn't need to be split in two around it, since it brings the preceding fury to an abrupt halt only to have it start right back up again in the same direction. You may relish the breather it gives from the post-punk onslaught. I highly recommend Call Me Dragon, not only because it reminded me that not all music sounds like the soundtrack to Michael Man movies, but because it shows what really good rock music is capable of when a talented band goes for broke. And in this case, it's capable of re-opening my eyes to my love of all things rock and roll.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Devil Marko - 2011 - A Pleasant Exorcism

Indie Pop/ Rock
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://devilmarko.bandcamp.com/"
Impressions
Someone who creates such a damn fine piece of music out of boredom, voyeurism, masturbation, moaning and unemployment and knows how to market himself properly is bound to be incredibly popular. Unfortunately, Devil Marko was only able to create the music part of that equation, while his only youtube video (to be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUtfTPsLGlE) sits at a mind boggling 11 views at the time of this review. This EP has an incredibly varied track selection that ranges from catchy radio songs (A Suburban Afternoon), darker reflective rejection songs (I'm glad you're not mine) to outright hymns that beg to be sung together by hundreds of fans, united only by an emotion conveyed via sound (I dont know what). This musician deserves highest praise for the variety of tracks he offers on this EP, especially considering he somehow still manages to make the record sound consistent. Its the sound I would imagine from a low-budget and self-produced Julian Casablancas EP and if you are being compared to the Strokes frontman, then you sure as hell arent missing talent or cult potential. The EP loses a bit of its immediate accessibility towards the end, where the more upbeat sounding songs get rarer and the tracks become more edgy, which also could have been a bit of a monetary problem if those tracks didnt get the same intensive treatment as some others (the non-Chorus part of I'm young and I'm free especially seems a bit too unpolished). But just like in real life, the end isnt really all flowers and also doesnt need to be. Its a fantastic record by a very talented musician that I certainly dont wish him to be unemployed, but... more please?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

frontRegen - 2012 - That Dance

Alternative Pop
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://frontregen.bandcamp.com/album/that-dance"
Impressions
Like rain pouring over an innocent bystander, frontRegen tells stories about touching human beings, moments that leave as suddenly as they came, chances you realize as soon as its too late and streams of incidents that pull you along without your consent. frontRegen does a great job of combining that concept of incidents pulling you along, which they also talk about in these tracks, with music that always tugs at the listener, never quite allowing for a break, always seemingly hurrying with only rare breaks. I very much appreciate their style of music, but its apparent that the EP also shows some shortcomings that stem from the time and money these small independent bands are usually, and unfortunately, lacking. Amazing, for example, could have used another few retakes and improvements on the introductory lyrics. The rest of the track seems to come together rather well, but the beginning seems a bit too crude and shaky. Still, I dont want to dwell on the shortcomings for too long, sincet the EP is already a big step up from their first release, which seemed a bit more incohesive. This is a very charming record and resisting the frail voice of the lead singer is almost impossible to do. After listening to it, you might want to reach out to offer a helping hand to get her out of the rain.
Life isnt always made from the choices we make ourselves, but you do have a choice whether or not to listen to this sincere and heartfelt EP. It certainly has some issues, but dont we all?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Twin//Venus - 2013 - TenderFang

Noise Pop
[FOR FREE]
<a href="http://twinvenus.bandcamp.com/"
  • 11 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Nothingcanbeatyou
Impressions
It would appear that the first bands trying to capture a bit of Sleigh Bells' crossover success are here, and Twin//Venus have managed to find that sweet spot on TenderFang, with just enough noise and feedback piled on top of simmering-sweet vocals, themselves occasionally awash in effects. Whereas SB went for full frontal assault on guitars and hiss, Twin//Venus have thankfully taken the path of slightly more worn and parred back the layers of noise so that the song structure can shine through like a drum-machine loop of sunlight cutting through the darkness. Mind you, that slightly worn path isn't the most excitingly built (keyboards, guitars, and drum machines are the building blocks of Twin//Venus sound), but the songs themselves are varied in tempo and genre leanings - lots more cold techno and electronic than guitar rock in actuality. The vocals on “NothingCanBeatYou” might cause frost to form, even if the lyrics aren't nearly as cold-hearted as the music they're sung over. The proceedings are helped along by the songs being brief, just when one trick starts getting stale, Twin//Venus pulls a new song out on us – its hard to argue with a continuous stream of brain candy under 3 minutes long. You might not remember it in the morning, hell, you may not want to remember it before its over, I didn't care. It was a good musical fix when I was looking for one, quality electronic noise pop.