Foxxhound and 28 North – live at The Mint, Los Angeles, August 5

Beautiful concert, very pretty, well-constructed music. Acoustic guitar, cello, drums. It’s all gentle, all of it including the singing, with the exception of the lyrics. They carry real drama, feeling and are pretty interesting in themselves. Not as “song about absurd concept”, but as “yet another take, interesting at that, on real life stuff”.

The album linked above includes the songs they played and it’s pretty good as well.

You know, “indie”. Is it exceptional? Sorry dudes, I don’t think so. It isn’t as hard as it seems to find nice music around. Damn if it doesn’t feel good when you actually find it though. Has this band enriched my musical appreciation? Nope. But I feel glad I won’t die without listening to “When you wish upon a bar” and “Seams”, because they are gorgeous and our universe isn’t  infinite, it isn’t even the only one. There are actually many universes sitting side by side in the cosmos, the scientists are trying to prove it by finding sings from another universe sitting next to ours. You know? It’s all so big, there are so many aliens we will never meet because everything in the multiverse is so far away, we just do things and die here in this universe, what’s the point. But those songs are pretty, so I’m glad I didn’t die yesterday before going to the place.

They were very, very fun. But they don’t have bandcamp or soundcloud. Here’s their website:

http://www.28north.com/

Anyhow, as the lead singer mentioned, the 90’s were pretty awesome, and they really have their hand at the 90’s version of pure rock n roll, the Guns n Roses sort of stuff. It isn’t the most interesting music, but it’s pretty fun alright, I wish them the best. Since they have been opening for more notorious bands and actually touring the US, it kind of falls outside of the scope of the blog. This is more like a recommendation to go see them if they are in town.

Two other bands played, Gabe Rosenn Band and Lumaria. The first is one of those blues bands, you know? Yeah. Lumaria is awful.

-Carpeaux

ek (swe) – vårkänslor

http://ekritualer.bandcamp.com/album/v-rk-nslor

This is an album I randomly happened across while I was browsing through the “field recordings” tag section on bandcamp. The cover art and odd name (Google translate tells me it’s Swedish) intrigued me and I decided to check it out since it was a free download and I needed some new music.

Now just let me say, this is pretty fucking cool and actually really different than I expected. It’s a bunch of folky, largely instrumental, acoustic songs, often with more than one guitar playing, with nature recordings and occasional other ambientish sounds playing in the background. It’s pretty straightforward with what it’s trying to do but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The field recordings add a nice ambient aspect to the acoustic guitars and compliment them well. This album is fairly lo-fi but the recording and mixing isn’t really that bad, it’s just not very produced. There are occasionally some slight effects on the guitars but they are subtle enough to miss if you aren’t really paying attention. Altogether it was quite an enjoyable experience and I’ll definitely be listening to it again.

Recommended if you like Sung Tongs, Pullhair Rubeye, or maybe even Grouper. It has that kind of naturey feeling.

Rating: 7/10 (on first listen, may change later after more listens)

Crywank – Narcissist on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

http://www.mediafire.com/?03yoqg056ejd8dl

Crywank is the depressing folk/anti-folk/folk punk project of James Clayton from Manchester, UK. His description of this album is as follows

“My new album ‘Narcissist On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’ is a collection of paranoid songs mostly about me trying to understand my own sadness along with the concept of sadness as a whole. It was fueled by self help books and pot.

I recorded this album in my parents dining room. Most of the songs on this album are the first take of me trying to record them (some needed a few more takes as I messed up my first attempts) and so it’s riddled with mistakes, but hopefully you can forgive that. Where my first album was tied to the topic of dealing with a breakup, this album has less of a definite focus. Most of the songs are about coping with and deconstructing my sadness, some are about odd things that happened in my past, and others are just about people and scenes. They where mostly fueled by stupid dark thoughts, and through songwriting I’ve tried to get past them.”

I listened to this awhile ago when it first came out because James posted it on /mu/. I didn’t think much of it at first because I’m not usually into this kind of music, but re-listening to it again now I realize that this album is actually really great. It gives off such a personal and honest feeling that I personally wish I could pull off with my own music. This is probably one of the most emotional and hard-hitting albums I’ve heard so far this year and if you are going to listen you better be prepared for some damn emotional music. Despite the sloppy guitar playing (sorry James), this album doesn’t lose any atmosphere or impact from it. In fact I believe the mistakes and bad technique add a lot to the massive personality of this record, something which a lot of bands/artists try to achieve and fail at.

In conclusion, have some tissues handy if you’re gonna listen to this album because you’ll probably need them.

Rating: 8/10

Favorite Track(s): “Now I’m Sad (Boo Hoo)”, “It’s OK, I Wouldn’t Remember Me Either”, “You Couldn’t Teach Me Integrity”

Fuyuko’s Fables – Fuyuko’s Fables

Scott Maynard, Jeremy Hunter, Al Green, Matt Maynard, and Mike Isaacs form Fuyuko’s Fables, a band that creates dreamy folk compositions with the combination of well arranged instrumentation and harmonious vocals.

With folk music it has never really been about the musical technicality or even all to much about the ability to sing even, at least not in my eyes and I’m sure many others as well. Instead, the appeal of folk comes more from the ability to write good songs, something to sing to, something to relax to, something you could easily play on a guitar with all of your friends; it is a social type of music that is only made better when you have other people to share it with. Fuyuko’s Fable’s keeps the traditional elements of folk, these personal warm arrangements and expands on them with significantly more focus on graceful melodies and harmonious vocals than you would find otherwise.

Scott’s voice is very pleasant from the beginning of the first track to the end of the album. ‘Buildings’ begins with this supple boyish vocal that is accompanied twiddling guitar and a lush combination of strings and horns with more instruments eventually jumping in, all contributing to a slow build up; it all comes together to make up an organic end result. When there aren’t lyrics to sung the vocals are usually filling in certain areas with these harmonized “Ooos” and “Ahhhs” backed by other members of the band that are completed with clarinet rising up out of a medley of other instruments. Just the beginning of this track features some of my favorite playing on the EP which is sprinkled throughout in the form of tranquil breaks. The band isn’t simply playing together, it doesn’t sound planned in the same way Holden Caulfield sees the actors in a film act, instead each member fulfills their role in other ways by working as separate units with each combining there individual duties to create something that sounds, at times, instinctive.

If you aren’t listening for the great instrumentation or the breathy vocals you will likely be listening for the thoughtful lyrics, the almost poetic words that remind one of simple things such as youth, innocence, love, and all of these vague but personal emotions that we all experience, emotions that are particularly noticeable on ‘Drag em’, the second track on the album. ‘Drag em’ switches gears into a more upbeat and straightforward approach that is full of calm well placed lulls and plenty of falsetto vocals. As the end of the final track indicates so bluntly, “we’ve all been loved” and we’ve all heard songs about it, songs that sing of vague emotions amongst other clichés. Its no secret that these concepts get old but in a way I kind of have to applaud Fuyuko’s Fables in the sense that they make it easy to connect through these unclear passages. You aren’t forced to guess the meaning of a song in terms of what it means to them, instead it is very easy to form your own stories, take from these songs their meaning and apply it to something that we have all likely experienced such as love and if there is any indication of good songwriting or a reason to enjoy this band, for me it is this.

As stated at the beginning of this review, the success of this band, the attractiveness of their sound lies in their ability to create easily digestible folky pieces of music but at the same time this is also where they reach a negative point for me. The fact that there isn’t the slightest hint of dissonance or anything at all negative about this band’s sound; even when they are singing about something sad they are doing it in such a positive and enjoyable way. Their consistency, at a point begins to change into a lack of variety which can become a headache after so long and as much as the vocals are a highlight for me it would have been nice to hear some variation.

Despite this EPs very minor shortcomings all of the positive attributes of the album overcome them. The strengths this band has, the straightforward  and simplistic way they work together to deliver emotions to their audience is all so relatable and makes for a great way to spend 25 minutes of a spring or Summer evening.

Overall rating: 8.0

Favorite Track: ‘Buildings’ ‘Drag ’em’

Recommended: Your childhood or a summer’s day in the woods.

Released: 07 September 2011

Links: Folk with Fuyuko’s Fables on Bandcamp

Redntoothnclaw

Track Review: Little House – Avocado

see? pink hair i told you

here she is being indie

Little House is some chick with pink hair in australia singing twee shit like the exchange rate for cute lyrics is 10USD per cute line.
Anyways, in her song Avocado, she incorperates some interesting textures and beats in her simple chord progression and melody. Rest assured, this  doesn’t go beyond regular delicious twee pop. It DESTROYS regular delicious twee pop. she sings of whimsical things like the moon and you and how frightening heightning science can seem and it’s magical. one of those times when the lyrics and the noises match up perfectly. Oh, and there’s glitchy hip hop beats

She also has a cute accent which is good if you need a quirk before you check something out, but otherwise it’s relatively unimportant.

As far as her image goes, I feel like she could easily be one of those attention whores who goes out of their way to make you fall in love with her, only to be all SORRY MOTHERFUCKER IMMA FUCK THIS GUY AND CRY WHEN HE DUMPS ME. YOU AINT GETTIN SHIT THOUGH, I AINT EVEN GONNA HOLD YOUR HAND and then you cry yourself to sleep while pretending to hold her, attempting to fill the hole in your heart with some delusional fantasy cooked in your brain just for this special occasion. But I kinda hope she’s not that, I would get depressed

Cute song. Little short though

8/10

I had a hard time in high school if you couldn’t tell already

Victor Florence – Autumn

So, Victor Florence continues to evolve and come up with stuff that is very different from what I thought his next album would sound like, specially the first and second songs, but the singing style in most of the whole thing, as well as the lyrics. At the same time, it continues to be beautiful and emotionally thick.

I just love this guy’s music. He’s always up there with the dozen or so guys I always think about when I think of these “extreme independent” music I came to appreciate so much more than all of the music industry combined. Fuck Lana del Rey (hopefully), if there’s a guy sitting in his room coming up with his best effort at music, arriving at strange, quaint stuff that doesn’t really belong to any genre, that’s what I’m interested in listening to. Idiosincratic music that isn’t aimed at repaying a contract with some label or record company, born out of absolute boredom, the idleness of youth, a vague hope at living off music that will probably never amount to anything. This guy wants to show you his music because you are his friend and no one else wants to listen to it. The fact that you don’t actually know him doesn’t actually matter much, it’s just more human and real and true.

I exchanged e-mails with him a few months ago, I asked him how the last season’s album was going. He had this to say: “Autumn is not going at all. I’m stuck in a pretty bad lull, lyric
wise. I want to find my own voice, lyrically but nothing is coming and all that”. Less than a month after, the fourth season album was out. I feel glad that I was here to follow this “finding his own voice” thing in real time.

It’s really becoming closer and closer to poetry, but that is a huge cause for concern. Once you start to express yourself in less of folk or rock lyrics and more as poetry, you stand to be compared to some pretty badass dudes and that’s daunting. I tried not to actually do that, but it wasn’t that hard. A considerable part of the lyrics wouldn’t feel as emotionally charged when read as when you listen to him singing it. The successful combo of pretty melodies and emotive singing is probably the most enduring characteristic that ties all his albums together. Maintaining it through dozens of songs and learning how to enhance it with musical experiments is the stuff of the opus at this point. It has arrived at an interesting moment, specially on the first track, which aims at a roughness of sound that you’d find before in some singing moments or at whole songs that profit from the age-old technique of punching the acoustic guitar desperately like a mad man.

As for the future, keep doing your thing. I think millions can like this stuff, you just gotta sell it to them somehow.

-Carpeaux

Matt Stevens – Relic

North London guitarist of post-rock band, Fierce and the Dead, Yonks, and solo musician Matt Stevens has garnered a lot of buzz within the music blogging community. It is not hard to understand why either, not when you consider that Matt has built an internet following by way of torrents, forums, live streams, and a variety of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. On top of all of that he runs a record label that carries a roster of similarly inspired acts and through his efforts he has even caught the attention of Alarm Press who went as far as to call him “a poster child for the digital revolution”. With the release of his third solo album, ‘Relic’ he seems to have much of the blogging community talking all over again.

Post-Rock has always been about structure, it is one of the genres more defining elements. Pioneers, Godspeed You! Black Emperor are known as one of the more prominent bands who helped develop the sound post-rock is known for today; the attention to structure and composition over the preferred course-verse-course template of modern rock, the repetitious buildups of timbre, the reverb/delay laden guitars, and the lengthy cinematic songs that build to a crescendo. The concept of post-rock seemed like a great one; it was something like a revolt against the sound that modern rock is identified with but even the non-linear stylings of post-rock have been reduced to a template for other bands to follow. It eventually gets tiring to hear each band’s take on the same sound, the same melancholic twinkly reverberated guitars, the same ‘epic’ build to a crescendo format; like modern rock it would seem as though post-rock has become somewhat of a cliche in music as well. Recently, bands who identify with the sound have begun to move away from the long song structures that have defined the genre, taking the post-rock sound and applying it to a modern rock composition, which to some may seem like a contradiction but one that works out undeniably well nonetheless. Matt Stevens happens to be one of those musicians. However, the music heard on ‘Relic’ is not simply influenced by post-rock but by a multitude of different styles and genres.

Relic is a very acoustic affair when compared to purveyors of the same sound which seems strange for a style of music that relies so heavily on contrasty clean and heavy dynamics. However, ‘Relic’ tends to focus more on Matt’s ability to draw from a variety of influences and styles of playing all the while managing to create something fresh by way of his song writing, dynamic compositions and a unique combination of influences. ‘Relic’ features a collection of sounds and styles with everything from slide guitar, to the motrik-esque drum playing heard on ‘Rusty’, to dabs of psychedelia, and even metal. All of these elements end up coming together to enforce the sound that Matt is able to create utilizing just his guitar. With guest musicians Stuart Marshall of Fierce and the Dead playing drums and Chrissie Caulfield on violin as well as a number of other instruments including bass, glockenspiel, piano, and a mellotron there is a lot to digest here.

The opener, ‘Nightbus’ is easily a stand out track; the way the guitar is allowed to ring out so often, the way the drums carry the track, and the bass that comes through so well; it all comes together to create an intense piece of music.  I found myself progressively indulging more and more, especially near the end of the song when the drums and guitar break down into this intricate ticking rhythm reminiscent of a Don Caballero song. On ‘Rusty’ you can hear the masterful Latin style guitar playing that convolutedly weaves between tremolo picking and the delicate violin that lingers in the background. In comparison to the more lengthy epics that post-rock is known for it does well in making use of repetition, constructing a claustrophobic piece of music. ‘Sand (Part 2)’ is a textural piece, full of ambience and tender plucked guitar arrangements. The latter half of the song shows off the Matt Steven’s more progressive side, featuring free form guitar noodling and splashes of psych-induced synth effects; an enjoyable and refreshing track. As far as the production goes this album is top notch. Matts guitar sounds powerful, full and clear, and the drums really pop, cutting through the eclectic mix of instrumentation.

With as many good things I have to say about ‘Relic I can not ignore its setback, as minor as they are. ‘Frost’ is notably the heaviest song on the album; it plays out very much like a metal track would yet it is my least favorite track. A quaking distortion driven riff manages to rip you away from the clean melodic nature that is heard on the rest of the album and as much as I wanted to embrace this swift change to something heavier. The chunky distortion that is used sounds out of place, not in a way where it stands out but in a way where it becomes distracting. This is soon followed by a solo that sounds like it was taken straight out of a Slayer song. The electronic drums on ’20 GOTO 10′ was another element I didn’t care for. I enjoy experimentation and generally accept the incorporation of instruments not typically used within a certain genre but the electronic drums were a huge turn off for me. The static effect used in combination with them gave the track a very cheesy feel. It seems as though more bands (Powder! Go Away, This Will Destroy You) that play this style of music have begun to employ the use of electronic drums in their music and I can see why a band would do this but for me it does little to actually enhance the music as much as it does take away from it. I think I have made it fairly obvious that ‘Relic’ does not have as many problems when compared to the amount of good that can be found here so keep in mind that these complaints are small ones.

In short ‘Relic’ is a monument to every one-man band, every guitarist who has ever owned a loop pedal, and every musician who has recorded a piece of music in their bedroom. It is not simply a rehashing of a familiar sound but almost something completely new entirely, collecting influences from all styles of music and bringing them together in a unified and fairly well constructed album.

http://mattstevens.bandcamp.com/album/relic

Overal Rating: 8.0

Favorite Track: Nightbus

-Redntoothnclaw