Saturday, August 11, 2012

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

I know, I know. Why feature an album that came out years ago? Astro Coast certainly made the waves around p4k, rockband and other neat little riff raffs. What with the internet hype machine behind it, the amount of hype generated is enough to tear me a new asshole. In my defence, I regard Surfer Blood's only full length work as being disassociated with its massive hit Swim. Is it possible that too much hype emphasising a single track places the listener in a disposition to overlook the others in that album? 

That was the case when I popped Astro Coast for a second (and thorough) listen. What Surfer Blood did with their debut was to showcase the extensive range of feels Astro Coast encapsulates. The first few tracks, Floating Vibes, Swim and Take It Easy are easily the most played since its dancy, and we kids sure love to dance. But later on as the album progresses, Astro Coast takes on a different hue with Slow Jabroni marking the shift. 

If I knew you'd guard your heart so jealously then I'd fight for you. There's nothing in this joyless world to see, there are no places that are left to see, there's just the wilderness, it's shame, if I knew you pushed away so savagely then I'd back off.

What the fuck, guys? One minute we're happily grooving the sweet vibes and the next Pitt's sombre vocals echoes out "Take it easy on me" without skipping a beat. I don't have to tell you Slow Jabroni's by far my pick for Best Track on Astro Coast.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

If you've been following Sleepy Son for over a year, you'd come to the realisation that I have a fanboy crush on Yukimi Nagano, swedish siren for Little Dragon. Playing trip-hop and new jazz amongst giants like Gorillaz (Empire Ants), Koop (Come to Me), SBTKRT (Wildfire), she definitely holds her own. Lets break aside from my fixation with Miss Nagano. Looking at Little Dragon as a whole, tight knit group of four, it is evident they have formed a niche sound. The drums, for one is infectious in a sense that it dominates and sets a platform where the synths seeps through. There's just enough room for Yuki's vocals to play around, changing form to suit the mood.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

I'm too little too late to be posting this incredibly addictive album because they've recently disbanded. And I'm only getting to know their stuff. It feels weird, kinda like getting a boner to the late Winehouse. Makes me wish I had a damn tardis. Dramatics and necrophilia aside, there's no reason why we can't still dance to This is Happening!
Headed by James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem borrows heavily on the sounds of yesteryear. LCD really took off in 2005, with the cleverly titled hit Daft Punk is Playing at my House. Wearing influences on their sleeves, they seem to have taken a short detour to Post-Punk manchester in This is Happening. The track You Wanted a Hit places a danceble twist to monotone vocals and chopped up basses.

His composition splits up markedly into two different facades. Positive upbeat and the other, brooding and contemplative. The opener Dance Yrself Clean falls into the latter. It starts off minimally with soft, whispered introspective vocals against a backdrop of a 2 chord repitition. Simple but profound. Though cutting off at 3 mins, the song goes apeshit and drops heavy synths and Cold-War Kids styled falsettos left and right. It's profound lyrics sheds light on Murphy's divorce,

Don't you want me to wake up?
Then give me just a bit of your time
Arguments are made from make outs
So give it just a little more time

We've got to bring our results
I wanna play it 'til the time comes
But there's a string of divorces
You go and throw your little hands up

How he makes his mid-life crisis so fucking danceable is beyond me. There are other notable tracks on This is Happening, and you should check them out. Seems like the clean cut Dance Punk genre is dying out, giving way to thick fuzzy works like SBTRKT, Joy O, Burial and Four tet. For old times sake, get a hold of this album and pray for a reunion!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jens Lekman - An Argument with Myself

Jens Lekman; the suave swede strikes again! An Argument with Myself feels like a rolling film that is played in a first person narrative. The self titled opener feels very much like a Kerouac piece in terms of spontaneity. Lekman also manages to squeeze in thoughts that hints on borderline dementia :
"Fuck you no YOU fuck you!"
Why you hiting yourself, why you hitting yourself?"
History repeats itself twice said Marx
First as tragedy, then as farce
But where did I find the source
To make history of a love, a love like ours ?"

Haha okay, maybe not so subtle. The lyricsm comes off as vulgar and literal though it's done in a comical yet catchy way. I'm sure it'll rack up lots of replays. Each track in this bite-sized 18 min album is sonically distinct and dishes out witty words by the metre. Overall, An Argument with Myself feels very much like a continuation from Night Falls Over Kortedala, his second full length release back in 2007. Although now he's shifted from the topic of young love and more towards self discovery; On dealing with people, places and the mundane realism of life.

There is a free download available on soundcloud. Grab it!
Photos by: moses_namkung

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - Live at Brighton Music Hall

Here's a gem. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is the moniker Aly Spaltro adopted for her jungle folk stage persona. I managed obtain a copy of her live performance in Boston, Live at Brighton Music Hall and I got hooked on her milk & honey. Miss Spaltro, is that a bibical reference behind your name? What struck me most was her raw voice. It's audibly strained yet, that somehow charges it with more emotion. Hair to the Ferris Wheel is well suited to her vocal style.
"Love is selfish,
Love goes Tick tock Tick tock Tick.
Love is Rubbissssssssssh "

It validates the whole performance and makes it more sincere/heartfelt. The musical arrangement is just her vocals and a guitar. Simplicity, spiced with appealing melodies and poignant lyrics makes for a good listen. Now little miss Spaltro placed her studies on hold to focus solely on her craft. It's paid off, having played with chamber pop giants, Beirut plus getting named Folk Artist of the Year by the Boston Music Awards.

Also, I had to say this: She is gorgeous.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper : Bandcamp, Facebook.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Craft Spells - Idle Labor

Riding in a fresh 80's melodramitic retro pop wave, 21 year old Justin Vallesteros's Idle Labor is filled with teenage themes of heartache and unhappy love. Evidently, Craft Spell's lead has a ton of relationship problems, though he manages to dress up them up nicely. Idle Labor steps aside from its bedroom singer-songwriting predisposition with groovy basslines and lovely reverberating guitars that seem to echo throughout the album; much like the everpresent hum of passing trains.

Vallesteros is a relative newcomer, started releasing material towards the end of 2009 with Party Talk, and following it up 2 years later with Idle Labor has progressed nicely, garnering a fair bit of attention for his efforts. Admittedly, his sound isn't quite there yet, I have the pervading sense that the drums could have been placed to better use, instead of just being. The vocals dealt in a whispery monotone stream places an emphasis of longing in Scandinavian Crush.

Craft Spells seems sonically reminiscent of early New Order (Age of Consent/Temptation/Leave me Alone); tiredness, gloom and drained-out dancing notwithstanding. After the Moment is easy and catchy; you'll want to sway to the beat. Though some songs are just repetitive and not well made, You Should Close the Door for example it does nothing to me. Worry not, cause the other tracks more than makes up for it. All in all, Idle Labor is the first solid material Craft Spells has made, question is: Are they just another blog-worthy band destined to fizzle out within the year?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Each Hand A Cutlass - A Universe Made of Strings

I have to admit, In Each Hand a Cutlass wasn't what I expected. Maybe jumping off too hastily to conclusions, after skimming through one or two pieces. The live performance masterfully executed brought to ends any allusions; I was blown away. What IEHAC manages to do is to cop feels of a wide variety of audio buttocks & sonic tits, claiming it for their own.

Openers The Escape ties in with Inspector Cutlass, clearly defining the mood as Asian with a touch of noir for added adrenaline. While the spanking bass in Inspector Cutlass and elaborate shredding makes for good technical summary, the opening for A Universe Made of Strings could use more experimentation and deviance.

Sliding in at just the right angle, the track Glaciers offers clear unaltered guitars with easy paced drums, losing the caffeinated edge to bliss for the first 3 minutes. The pace quickens after, rolling coasters picking up the pace once more. It's reminiscent of Hammock's "Raising your Voice..." work; Real easy on the ears. The wonderfully suave drumline in Chocolate & The Lovelorn Girl will get your body bouncing, assuming the bass doesn't grasp you in fits first. A transition to soft electronica is subtle, it's hard to differentiate where one track ends and another begins. The start of Marauder has a slight whirling drone tinge, sandwiched inbetween are pockets of blues guitarstry. That is to say, IEHAC stays true to the song's identity, never swaying away from the original, intended feel.

A Universe Made of Strings was said to have been conceived with the mathematical Super String Theory in mind, but what I feel is that this album is one that echoes and reverberates with human ideas, rather than mathematical equations. In A Universe Made of Strings, the featured track; A gently plucked guitar sways with a soft bass, while the high notes of a violin offer duality. The use of haunting vocals will have your arms pockmarked with goosebumps.
Having said all that, the extensive crossovers between different audio plateaus can be attributed to the band's lineup, their prolific musical background. IEHAC is indie rock veteran Daniel Sassoon (Electrico, Livonia, The Recidivists), keyboardist/DJ/dark mistress Amanda Ling (The Synth Experience, Electrico, Throb), producer/engineer Roland Lim (Seraphim) and drum wizard Jordan Cheng (Rafe, For This Cycle).

Find them on bandcamp :

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Destroyer ▼ Kaputt

Let's say you were browsing CD's in a non-discrete music shop tucked in dark corner in god knows where. The shop manager gave you a sample of Destroyer's Kaputt to uh, sample. You flipped the cd over, and some dude with weird funky hair named Dan Bejar is listed as the producer. He sort of reminds you of that Ancient Aliums guy. After giving it a once over through your expensive headset, you deduce that the shop manager is either hoping it'd sell or he genuinely wish to see you half-naked- playing a rendition of careless whisper.

All for the right prices, you softly whisper to yourself making sure no one is within earshot. As an afterthought, you slipped in Kaputt in, to update your playlist. You swear vehemently that if another M83 song shuffles on, you can't guarantee absolute safety of anyone within a 30 meter radius surrounding you. Feeling satisfied with yourself, you plop the CD up again once you reached home. You decide it's pretty catchy, with songs like A Savage Night at the Opera, had the right idea in mind. Dan Bejar's vocals sounds like silk across your skin as you turn on the hot shower.

I heard your record it's all right
Just set the loop and go wild

The song delivers, going into an incredibly suave guitar combo, finishing with synths and a fading voice over. Next up, Kaputt (the 6th track) slowly makes its way into your room. Sustained guitar chords, that soft yet up-beat bass makes your feet shake, your head wobble about its axis.

wasting your days
chasing some girls
alright, chasing cocaine
through the backrooms of the world
all night

The sax eases slightly, not taking over yet the presence is there. You notice the soft bass is audible throughout the 6:18 mins of the song. It ends with slow fading piano and the dream inducing sax. Feeling good about the song, you decide to check it Destroyer out online.

This is what you see.

You look down, and realize that you aren't going to get any sleep tonight.

Dan Bejar took a huge gamble when making Kaputt. It's hard to change a musical style this late, having released a total of 9 full albums, and a couple of EPs. Dan took the backseat in releasing Kaputt, opting for a more slow paced vocal style as compared to Rubies (2005) ; songs like Painter in your Pocket. Ultimately, Kaputt paid off. A rare album in 2011.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Locals ▼ I am David Sparkle, B-Quartet, Amberhaze

I've ingested coffee by the cupfuls and paid in kind with bouts of explosive diarrhea. Now I'm finally free to do what I love; reviewing and spreading music for the sleepless night owls that we are. On a side note, me and a bunch of friends have decided to make a project specifically catering to the growing local music scene (in Singapore). The growth here is incredibly fast-paced, as you can tell from my previous 'live' posts. It's still under production, but I'll be writing for the local and regional musicians that stand out vocally.

As a prelude to this new endeavour, I'll quickly list and link tidbits of the seasoned homegrown musicians. Hopefully I'd get the chance to do the interviews and full reviews that they deserve.

Here we go!

1st stop : I am David Sparkle.

What can I say, they blew me away when I saw them play a year ago.

2nd stop : B-Quartet

Late last year, in their opening set for Tortoise, the brothers dropped Haykal's airy vocals instead opting for a open sound exploration. 4 new members were added as of their 2nd album "Conformity has replaced consciousness"

3rd stop: Amberhaze

Amberhaze is Giuliano Gullotti’s long-standing solo project. He plays anything from atmospheric ambient to piano pieces throughout 2006 to the present.