Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Twin//Venus - 2013 - TenderFang

Noise Pop
<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
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.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pyramid - 2011 - Lost in Space

<a href="http://0pyramid0.bandcamp.com/album/lost-in-space"
This is the soundtrack of the game I didnt even knew I wanted to exist. From the first track on, these sounds pull you into another dimension full of undiscovered dangerous worlds, hidden secrets, adventuresomeness and love. Its rare that a record makes you want to reach for the stars, or at least for something that puts you into the shoes of an adventurer among the stars. An Electronica record that uses subtle, yet very powerful rhythms together with driving beats and some elements that remind me a bit of house at times (who can resist a french touch after all) to form an engaging sound voyage for the listener. The whole record just feels incredibly polished and rounded, touching several emotional states and sharing stories. Taking into account how vividly these tracks put corresponding images into my mind, its hard to see this just as a music album, and not as a part of a bigger picture. If there is anything bad I can say about this record, its that I want the corresponding game, book or movie and I want it NOW. Considering the quality and craftmanship to make this music style fit so many different occasions in a setting so seemingly easy, its pretty impossible to pick any favourite tracks, therefore I highly recommend taking the full trip with Pyramid, gazing into the stars and completely losing yourself in space.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just Call Me, Ryan - 2011 - Basement Demos

Alternative Rock
<a href="http://justcallmeryan.bandcamp.com/album/basement-demos"
  • 3 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Ides Of January
Due to being on vacation, I can only provide an impression on a short record and Just Call Me, Ryan's Basement Demos perfectly fit the bill. These tracks are very catchy and immediately know how to please with the distinctive voice of the singer, that has some punk rock attitude shining through with surprisingly harmonious choruses. I love the snotty-nosed attitude in these tracks, but unfortunately these songs overstay their welcome very fast after listening to them 2-3 times, probably due to the limited variation the EP provides. The third track is a bit of a slower chilled track that helps in that regard, but unfortunately the issue still persists. Its a great and groovy mini-selection of tracks that certainly are worth a look, but to give these tracks any sort of lasting appeal, a bigger concept is sorely needed. Usually, I recommend other stuff from the same band or band members in this spot, but the only thing I found - a cover EP - can safely be ignored, since its not even in the same league quality-wise. I really hope these/this musician(s) didnt give up on music completely, there is a lot of potential here that should be uncovered.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Various - 2013 - Outrun Europa

Outrun Europa
<a href="http://outruneuropa.bandcamp.com"
At this rate, I might be a record away from teasing my hair and applying on eyeliner in acid washed jeans. And while I hope that never comes to fruition (mental images will only leave lasting psychological scars, so it's better to not picture it), I'll be damned if this music is not catchy as all get-out. Here, by way of the internets is Outrun Europa a compilation of retro 80's electronic synth (30 tracks of it, in fact.) that I can't stop listening to. I have been listening to a lot of this genre lately, and when this landed in my lap, I didn't know what to do with myself. I was not expecting a wide array of stylistic choices between the artists, there is only so much material to mine with within this genre afterall, but even I was taken aback at just how great and varied  these tracks are (Plaisance, they of ridiculously awesome Regatta LP make an appearance, which was a plaisant surprise you might say... - I'll let myself out). There does seem to be a sci-fi bend to several songs, in the 'Technology is dangerous. Beware skynet!' vein of darker sci-fi trope that I personally love (they all more or less have a retro-future sci-fi disco bend for what that's worth). Of course speed seems to be a huge thematic element as well, with songs like "Excellerator" and "turbo interceptor" popping up as titles (oddly enough, neither of those come close to fastest tempo on the album by a long shot). Nothing here sounds remotely 'raw', in the live and off the cuff style that a basement folk record would. Every track, even the slower ones ("Somewhere" and "Stratus", specifically) are as sleek as that car on the album cover. Of course when everything is dominated by keyboards and synthesizers and the instruments that aren't either of those two are filtered through enough effects to sound like Tron's daydreams, the artificiality is by design. It might seem a little shallow (there's a reason this genre was originally huge in the 1980's), delivering exactly what you want in the form of endless hooks and catchy, hyperfast beats, that isn't a problem when the songs are this well crafted (straight into my veins!). The guitars are like wailing robots (or thundering industrial gods - I'm looking at you, Twilight Racing), the keyboards provide ultra-cool, cold, crystallized sonic ambience and it all fits together swimmingly. Non-stop musical hedonism. Now while I praise the album length, even I realize this could have been a more concise compilation; at least thematically, if a few of the tracks had been trimmed. Some of the songs do seem to be included on Outrun Europa just to cram as many artists into the track listing as possible. 20 tracks of non-stop, high speed tension probably would have been a better fit. It makes sense as a genre showcase this way, but I wanted to nitpick a bit.

If you don't have an affinity for this music at all, 30 tracks is going to turn you brain to mush. If however, you have even a fleeting interest in this or have been listening to synthwave longer than I've been alive, then by god this is your gold mine, friend.

Friday, July 5, 2013

New Kingdom - 2010 - Naked Time

Alternative Rock
<a href="http://newkingdom.bandcamp.com/album/naked-time"
Driving Alternative Rock band that could and should be way more popular if not for the restraints of the current music industry. This is a high quality record with lots of diversity to ensure listening to New Kingdom wont get boring anytime soon. The record starts off strong with two driving and memorable rock tracks that you'll learn to love this band for. Especially the first track, Stepped on this Scene would fit right in with any alternative playlist. While its nice to see a band trying out other directions, the quality weakens a bit afterwards while they tried to weave some poppier influences into these tracks. However, since the release of this record, these guys released 2 more single tracks you should definitely check out and add to your download of Naked Time: Jack of Spades, 808 We havent heard from these guys since then, but hopefully they are working on another full project, since I cant see them actually making something not worth looking forward to.
Its been 3 years now since New Kingdom stepped on my MP3 player, and I wouldnt want to miss them. Even though they dont manage to keep it at the consistently highest level, the variety still makes for a hugely enjoyable release overall that comes highly recommended.