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.
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.
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.

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!
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.
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.


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.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

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

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  • 8 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: Sugarbliss
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
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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
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  • 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
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.