Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bison B.C. - Quiet Earth

God, I love for finding similar artists. Over the past few nights I've found too many fantastic bands I didn't even know existed.
Bison B.C. is a doom/sludge/stoner metal band from Vancouver. From what I've seen from their videos they put on a hell of a live performance, and they translate it perfectly to their albums. Although their latest Dark Ages has a bit too much screaming for my liking, Quiet Earth has more of a growled delivery that can actually be understood.
If you are in the mood to get your tits rocked off, give this a spin.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Torche - Meanderthal

Although heavier music is not my forte, when I'm in a certain mood it's the only type of music I can listen to. Since my saturation in this genre is fairly limited, I'm usually far behind any underrated groups that come along. Torche is one of those bands. A buddy of mine has been listening to them for quite awhile but I pretty much ignored them. That is, until the other day.

Torche creates heavy, melodic, face-melting music without the intelligible screaming that so many shitty bands center around. The result is albums you can listen to no matter what mood you are in. If you enjoy Baroness, Kyelsa or Black Cobra, you probably have already heard of Torche. For everyone else, listen to this fucking album.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pete Rock

I'm not the resident hip/hop guru, but I do listen to it quite a bit. Based on a recommendation from a forum I frequent, I gave PeteStrumentals a listen and quickly became infatuated. It's simply one of the better instrumental hip-hop albums I've heard. Chill and smooth without being convoluted or overtly simplistic. While playing this album I just sunk into my chair and didn't move for an hour and a half. I quickly devoured his other albums where other notable hip-hop artists lend their talents to his incredible beats and was not disappointed. If you don't listen to these albums you are a racist.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Daisuke Tanabe - Before I Forget

Daisuke Tanabe's 2010 album Before I Forget is a quality mix of an ambient, watery, brainfeeder sound. Very similar to the direction teebs is heading in. Albums that add these organic, colorful sounds to a beat are best listened to when the bass is turned all the way up. Not because you'll be dancing to this album, but because the contrast between the thump of the low pitch and the haze of the melody gives Before I Forget head-bobbin' replay value. I don't know how many people are setting up their "BEST OF 2010" lists yet, but fans of Flying Lotus, Mount Kimbie, and I'm Not A Gun should give this album a shot before making any final decisions.


Buy: iTunes / Juno Records / Discogs


Radical Face - Ghost

Ghost is an album I somehow completely missed, even though I really enjoy Electric President and it being released on the amazing Morr Music. Been Cooper focuses more on the folkier elements but doesn't completely ditch his electronic-pop roots. The result is a very warm and addicting album that will remind you of a more personal Electric President. If you enjoy Electric President, Thee More Shallows, Seabear or pretty much anything on Morr, give this a spin.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jeremy Messersmith - The Reluctant Graveyard

What do you get when you combine Beach Boys like harmonies, catchy folk narratives and a bit of chamber-pop? You get one of the most overlooked gems of 2010. From the toe tapping and infectious album opener "Lazy Bones", to the violin driven opus that is "John the Determinist". This is an album of individual stories that dance the line of multiple genres and constantly keeps you on your toes. If you are in the mood for something catchy, fun and not too serious, you have to give this a spin.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Cave Singers - Welcome Joy

Welcome Joy is an album that barely missed out on my top 10 of 2009 list. Although they are on a fairly prolific label (Matador), I didn't hear much fanfare concerning them. From the remains of the sorely underrated Pretty Girls Make Graves, Derek Fudesco teamed up with Pete Quirk (Hint Hint) and Marty Lund (Cobra High) to create a visceral, warm and absolutely gorgeous debut album.

With hints of Bowerbirds, Phosphorescent and Akron/Family, they craft echoey and haunting songs that burrow into your brain stem and remain there for weeks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chihei Hatakeyama - Saunter

Talking about ambient music will always be more complex than listening to it. I have a system, though. Separating ambient music into two groups. The exhale group, and the inhale group. “Exhaled” ambient music is stuff like the droney Emeralds whose music bleeds and is more work to appreciate and is not quite meant to relax you. Chihei Hatakeyama, one half of the exceptional group Opiotope, makes “inhale” music. No, this is not music you sniff glue to. His music wisps around the room like the wind. It glides like cool autumn air and waits to be inhaled.

Saunter is the third album of his discography and althoguh he is often compared to Stars of the Lid, Chehei's has released eight releases in four years.

Saunter It flows so effortlessly like sleepy hummed albums ought to. A balloon slipped out of the hands of a child isn't as chilled and mellow as Saunter. One of these days I'll be skilled enough to describe the sound of Saunter in a more comprehendible fashion, but for now all I can do is guarantee that it's an album you can breathe easy to.




Monday, February 15, 2010

Mount Kimbie - Maybes EP

Don't start a thread about Mount Kimbie on a forum without knowing how to derail a petty argument. Mount Kimbie are one of those artists that can't be pinpointed to only one genre. The variety of influences Mount Kimbie shows off in their music is overwhelming. So overwhelming that nerds all around will flame each other endlessly until the one gives up to convincing people that MOUNT KIMBIE HAS IDM IN IT GOD DAMN IT. To be honest, I am just as clueless as everyone else when it comes to putting the Maybes EP into a genre. I can however, try describe their unique sound... with a list of genres you didn't think would mix.

Throughout the four tracks in the Maybes EP you hear an assortment of glitch, hip-hop, and dubstep, all done in a droney style which makes for a refreshing, relaxing sound. It sounds like Burial met up with Autechre and then Loscil somehow got thrown into this blender. Check out this EP before Mount Kimbie releases a ton of amazing music and you are too intimidated by their huge discography and millions weird of genre tags they have on to try them out later.




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kyst - Cotton Touch

Ever since I stumbled upon the gem that is Indigo Tree, I decided to dive head first into the Polish folk/freak-folk scene. I must say that I'm impressed with the quality of a lot of these artists and it baffles me how some of them aren't household names in the States yet. One such band is the Norwegian/Polish band Kyst. Consisting of Tobiasz BiliƄski and Adam Byczkowski, they've released an ep, album and run their own record label all while being under the age of 20. If that doesn't make the average person feel lazy and unambitious I don't know what will.

Cotton Touch starts off with the amply titled "Climb Over", a slow build up of a guitar, drums and eventual violin that crescendos at the perfect time. It's a fantastic opener, nothing too long or pretentious, yet a wonderful nod to classic post-rock artists. "Complain/Cheer" has an almost live feel to it, very reminiscent of some of the quieter Akron/Family songs as it perfectly mixes the erratic with the subdued. This wonderful mixture continues for the remainder of the album as it's textured with bits of the Microphones and Grizzly Bear(I'm talking Horn of Plenty, not that Yellow House or Veckatimest bullshit) showing through every so often. The album finishes with the fantastic instrumental outro "Summer Love" that will leave you with your eyes closed, head bopping and a smile on your face.

I have fallen in love with this record and I can't wait to see what they will come up with next. If you enjoy meticulously crafted songs full of texture and warmth, you are going to adore this record.

Monday, February 8, 2010

AU - Versions

Like learning a new word, before you use it you have to learn how to say and spell it, so before I get into Versions, a little about AU's pronunciation and spelling. Pronounce it "a-u", like the two separate letters it consists of (A, U), or like you're trying to get someone's attention while speaking in a bad imitation of a cockney accent, "'ay you", but not like the word 'au', as in 'au revoir' or 'au gratin', like you're a snooty, stinky french chef. Also, keep it in all caps: AU, like the postal abbreviation for Australia, but they aren't from there.

The bass drum beats like a heart beat on "Ida Walked Away", the first track of Versions, letting you know, this album's got some life to it, coincidentally, some "Death" too. The EP runs the gamut emotionally and musically, yet keeps it cohesive and concise. Upbeat percussion created with the aid of a shaker or two, familiar clicks of a snare's rim, some bells, and, of course, some, almost inevitable claps, propel Versions consistently from start to finish at such a rapid, but not rushed, speed that it ends before you even realized there was a song switch. The quick-listen may also be as a result of the short track list on the latest effort by the two men who make up AU (Luke Wyland and Dana Valatka). At only 7 songs, there's no time for a wasted beat or breath, and waste they don't, but want you will. Fortunately it definitely warrants a second, and third and fourth, listen.

Give Versions another spin, if only to decipher the lyrics, which are delivered in vocals that are, at times, hauntingly ghostly yet substantial, not ethereal, like a ghost with some girth, think - Grizzly Bear with a little more grizzle. At other times, AU sings out with yelps and screams (Au "Are Animals" afterall) that could knock the inhibitions off even the most conservative of listeners, and by the end of the album find them chanting, foot stomping, and air punching along to "Ashemoto Ne" even if they haven't a clue what it means, think - that one time you drank a bit too much at the Akron/Family show. Versions is lively with some edge and experimentation about it, by musicians who you won't mind lending your ears, or Friday nights, to.

Place well-played piano and rim shots in an album and I'm pretty much sold, tell me the band's from Portland and oh shit, there goes my soul too, but AU's Versions actually deserves the praise, or at least a listen. Listen
Site Last

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shad - The Old Prince

Shad, birth name Shadrach Kabango, is a hip-hop artist from Canada. Shad apparently still lives at home and has released two albums (Third one arriving in May!) and currently has ~200,000 plays on His favorite MC is Common and one hears a lot of that in his music.

Shad's sophomore album, The Old Prince is made up of jokes, lessons, and a highly refined boom-bap style similar to what Murs and 9th Wonder were doing in '04, but even more humble. Through the songs, Shad makes it known that he's just an overall content guy doing what he likes-- even if it doesn't pay well. And it's true, it never does, but Shad also expresses a deep hope in his fans. He's willing to keep making music as long as someone is willing to listen. “Awww” goes the listener. “This isn't bad. That wacky 'Old Prince Still Lives at Home' song was pretty funny”

But Shad isn't limited to comedy.

“Out of Love, Pt. 2” is the in the very middle of the album. As the title suggests it's very much so a reflection on his song “Out of Love” from his first album, When This is Over. But it's also the outcast's anthem, a song for the loner talking with his friends. It's a sad balance of loneliness and hope. Describing the feelings of the guy who isn't angry, just alone. Out of Love, Pt. 2 also kicks off the home stretch of The Old Prince. “Man, this guy raps about about sincere things? Very impressive”.

But Shad isn't limited to rapping.

In, “ I Heard You Had a Voice Like an Angel” Shad is caught softly narrating a story of racism in the music industry. In “Compromise” he's found gasping between pleas of “In this life, I hope you don't compromise / In this world, man, we just can't compromise.” And finally ending the album with a sum of the album in spoken word over strings. “God damn this album rules.”

Shad is going to break out soon, he's too talented and in love with his music not to, and it's going to be awesome and/or sad looking back on The Old Prince and seeing which of his styles he decided to run with.



Read Shad's 'Bloggy' Blog

Leave a shout on

BlackBox Records' website

P.S. Thanks, Adam! You introduced me to Shad.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Trevor Montgomery is Lazarus

Have you ever listened to a band or artist for quite a few years and never realize just how few people actually listen to them? I guess I always just assumed Trevor Montgomery had a strong following. He's on an incredible label(Temporary Residence), has been a member of influential bands(Tarental, The Drift) and is immensely talented. Unfortunately, even if you have everything going for you, people don't always listen. I am going to try and change that.

Songs for an Unborn Sun is what started it all. With the help of fellow San Francisco musician Marty Anderson(Dilute, Okay, Jacques Kopstein), Trevor crafts an album that is agonizingly sad yet surprisingly hopeful. Marty's elderly bug-like voice accompanying most of the songs adds a fragile nature to each track. This creates a mood that makes you feel as if the entire structure is going to completely break down at any moment. This is an album about loss, suffering and overcoming burdens.

Like Trees We Grow Up to Be Satellites replaces Marty's vocals and the overall sadness of the album, with female backing vocals, uplifting piano hooks and an overall warmer sound. Cheerful, fast and infectious songs create an atmosphere that is polar opposite of his debut. This is an album about acceptance, forgiveness and hopefulness.

Both of these records are absolute masterpieces and deserve any praise and/or recognition that they receive. Listen, love and support this man.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

September Malevolence - After This Darkness, There's a Next

Releasing their first album in 2004, the Swedish band September Malevolence crafted a very good, albeit cookie-cutter post-rock album. Unfortunately for them, the beginning of 2004 was a period of time when post-rock went from the genre that annoying GY!BE/Mogwai following hipsters "listened to" to the genre that nauseatingly predictable mainstream hipsters started "listening to". During this flood of generic post-cock,(This was originally a typo but I will now refer to it this way throughout the remainder of this horrid little article.) their debut went almost completely unnoticed. The few who did notice gave it rave reviews and it remains one of the better post-cock albums released that year.

Sick and tired of bands regurgitating the same shit with a different album cover, they decided they wanted to do something a bit different with their follow-up release. Comparable to a less emo/annoying Jeniferever and a bit less abrasive Aereogramme(Sleep and Release era), they were able to create an album with post-cock undertones, mixed with fantastic vocals and even some decent lyrics thrown in.

The album starts off with the slow, gorgeous and extremely catchy "Who Watches the Watchmen", an Ode to the greatest graphic novel of our time, Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns". The third track,"A notion, I can't shake..." is a straight up acoustic folk song that may seem out of place based on my description, but in reality it fits perfectly with the remainder of the album as it segways seamlessly into the ferocious "...accidents happen so fast". The remainder of the album blurs all genre lines and by the end creates an album that is truly all their own.

As we wade waist deep in a pile of mediocre and unoriginal releases, it is such a relief to hear a band that isn't afraid to try something new and original, even if it means they alienate the few that initially loved them. If you've enjoyed anything we've shared on this site, give this album a shot. It's an understated classic that will hopefully be realized someday.

After This Darkness, There's a Next


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Emeralds - Solar Bridge

Emeralds is one of those drone artists that absolutely smother you with 10+ releases a year. Seriously, it's kind of ridiculous. I am usually put off by talented bands that overwhelm listeners with albums upon albums. I have listened to maybe a third of what Emeralds has released, (like 8 albums/eps) and haven't been disappointed yet. Emeralds caught some attention with one of their five releases last year, What Happened. And though it was well deserved, to me, it didn't even come close to my favorite of theirs.

Solar Bridge is a half hour of electronic drone that rises and rises until it finds an altitude it likes and cruises. It doesn't try anything fancy, or destroy the vibe it creates. Solar Bridge oozes at the same rate it does during its intro, climax, and outro. The simplicity here is what makes Solar Bridge great. Highly recommended to fans of Nadja, Windows and Walls-ish Grouper, Natural Snow Buildings... or anyone needing a kick-start to a love of drone music.


Buy From Hanson Records

Monday, February 1, 2010

Worker Bee - Tangler

Not your amusement park's version of the old west, Worker Bee presents an unrefined diorama of a one-horse town through well-strung (and strummed) songs without sounding overly country or buying a banjo. Pieced together by tape and tune, Tangler has exposed corners of cardboard and frayed bits of construction paper visible, for a raw and ragged album that can get under your skin and into your bones if you let it. From my barstool, it looks something like this, with burned edges and scatted smoke stains.

Dusty melodies billow across the ground while wind whistles through cracks in the walls of an abandoned general store, clicks of drum sticks keep time as the town rots towards its demise. There's a tinge of pain in the pleading first words of "Come Back" over the state of a town left dirty and dollarless, and there's tension beneath the floorboards. Even the dirt's unsettled by the guitar-playing, gun-slinging owner of the town's one horse who rides in kicking up a trail of doom among "Nesting" plodding drums, hectic cymbals, and rapid rim shots, and faint bells dinging in the distance. Singing over slightly twanging strings with a pair of inherited smoker's lungs, the man sits at the bar filling the small, stank saloon with smells of whiskey, gun powder, and dried blood. He's the kind of man who'd take a lady for a walk and return alone. The kind of man who'd kick a dead horse to watch it bleed. Just one glance starts the bar fight between him, the "Cold Rats" and scoundrels, and someone's gotta die before it ends. Embodying the message of "Rough Magic", "a man's mind is always raining", the thick-skinned man stands over broken bottles donned in black coordinated with his core, as drums hit like buckets on a steel roof and tambourines than cling and clank like spurs. You can sit down in his bar, but you better leave your hand on your gun. This album has drums that can drive the devil out of town, and "All Roads" lead to the night, where the men get "burned by the moon" but never die. Tangler leaves you thinking, despite the flighty, feminine name, Worker Bee might not be a band to mess with.

At times resonating more of a 'new west' sound than old, Tangler is a bit rough around the edges, but nothing some smooth whiskey can't fix. So I'm gonna put my faded black boots on, kick a pony in the gut just to get blood on the tips, spur it in the neck to watch the red river wash away the boot prints, then get myself to a local watering hole.


DoF - A Year In Waiting

Long ago before your fancy torrents and music blogs were the norm, we used an archaic technology known as p2p. During this earlier time there were quite a few shitty p2p programs(kazaa, limewire, emule etc...) out there, most of which gave you horrible rips, shitty quality and at the least, viruses. Out of this sea horridness came a simple and amazing program called soulseek. What this wonderful little program did was mix the file sharing of those aforementioned programs, with a more social, safe and welcoming environment. The ability to make rooms, chat with people, see their share lists and download/trade as you wished. I mention this program because it's not only completely shaped my musical taste, it also allowed me to meet incredible people and find music I would never have listened to elsewhere. DoF is one of those artists.

Unbeknownst to most people, Brian Hulick has been making music for almost a decade. His six releases range from Marsen Jules-like ambient landscapes to an electro-folk very reminiscent of earlier Bibio. He seems to evolve with each new release and continues to surprise and impress me each time.

A Year in Waiting is a collection of twelve tracks, each named after a month of the year. January starts off with a quiet distant tone that is gradually accompanied by soft keys as if you were just waking up from a winter slumber, rubbing your eyes and trying to remember what day it is. Eventually the song weaves into a soft glitchy cloud that softly envelopes you and remains until the very end of the record. From the cold and sluggish February to the vibrant and joyful July and even the optimistic and wonderful December, each track seems to perfectly embody the month that it was named after.

DoF is an artist I've been very selfish about over the years. He's always been someone I've listened to and enjoyed immensely, but rarely talked about or recommended to others. Brian is one hell of a musician and if you enjoy anything remotely ambient, glitchy or hell, even electronic, you need to give this guy a listen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Old Canes - Early Morning Hymns

One thing that has always fascinated me about musical taste is how quickly and drastically it can change over just a few short years. Back in 2004 when this album was released I remember enjoying a few songs from it, but for some reason I just completely shoved it aside and forgot about it. Luckily a few weeks ago as I was wading through my albums I decided to play Early Morning Hymns for the first time in years. Just expecting a decent album, I was shocked at how much I ended up enjoying it. Fast forward a week, a couple dozen spins and this album is quickly becoming a personal favourite.

Early Morning Hymns is the perfect mix of frantic acoustic guitars, horns, banjos and even the occasional harmonica. The result is a sound that drunkenly walks the border between the chaotic nature of Neutral Milk Hotel and the calmness of an Owen record.

From this overlooked gem to his criminally underrated band Appleseed Cast, Christopher Crisci just can't seem to catch a break. We can only hope that in the near future he will finally get the recognition he sorely deserves.

Early Morning Hymns


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tied & Tickled Trio - Observing Systems

Tied & Tickled Trio are an electronic-based jazz group named after a Japanese sex position on the morr music label. Scroll down for the download links.

“You must be this tall to ride” signs in front of roller coasters are usually seen as just a rule. Often times they are also warnings. Observing Systems opens with saxes and horns blaring in harmony before the bass line moves in and starts the “official” song.

Listener “A” sees this as a warning thinking “Oh, god this could get weird.”

Listener “B” sees this as an invitation and thinks “Fuck yeah I fucking love jazz.”

Continuing with this roller coaster analogy, Observing Systems broadcasts their fire alarm sound after a steep, exceptional build up of Mouse on Mars-esque IDM. But don't let that put you off, The Tickled Trio loves to scream down their own ascent, they just like to earn it. It's a lot more satisfying that way.

I'm also posting their great “live” album Electric Avenue Tapes because parts of it are more spastic and fun than Observing Systems and that is not a bad thing.

Download Observing Systems

Buy from Morr w/ iTunes

Buy from Discogs

Add them to friends on MySpace

Download Electric Avenue Tapes

Buy Electric Avenue Tapes from Discogs.

Read a fucking cool review of it here.

David Bazan - Curse Your Branches

Tell someone, anyone, your favorite musician or, hell, your least favorite (so it's easier to hate), to write an album on topics like the the fall of man, original sin, damnation, hell, and predestination, with occasional references to God, and, go ahead, throw in that he/she/they should include 'curse' in the title, and you might get a few curses thrown your way. Not exactly the subject matter for a highly listenable album, unless the musician you give this challenge to is David Bazan (or maybe Sufjan Stevens). If you know anything about Bazan (formerly Pedro the Lion), you shouldn't be surprised. This is the same man who managed (as Pedro the Lion) to make an album almost exclusively about cheating and loss into an album that all the kids were talking about, listening to, and even singing along to (Control). An affair to replay. Bazan, again, takes the plight of man and makes it manageable, in addition to the source of some damn good songs, without sounding like the kid front-and-center of religious studies 101 or the hobo on the corner screaming, 'why, God, why?'.

Drawing you into the cage that is his voice - rough on the edges, a little dark, but hollow enough to hide inside, Bazan makes you feel safe, and for a moment a little warm. Simple drum beats, rhythmic guitar strums, and reassuring piano cause you to release that sigh you've been holding in, relax your shoulders, and let a couple guards down. You start to feel pretty damn good when the claps drop. "Please, Baby, Please" might even find you singing along. But don't get too comfortable, this isn't the album to listen to when you want to feel good about yourself, especially if you're a shitty person, and everyone's a shitty person, sometimes - drunks, smokers, priests, liars, even Bazans, though it's hard to believe. So it's okay, he understands, he knows "it's hard to be/hard to be/a decent human being," although, for him it's pretty easy to be a more than decent musician.

Listen to this album and forget everything I said, go ahead, bop your head.

David Bazan - Curse Your Branches






Enough of David Bazan as musician, here's David Bazan as art, by Kyle. Striking resemblance, don't you think? (Of Bazan, not Kyle).