Shakey Graves – Roll the Bones

This is one of the absolute best albums I have listened to coming from the internet homemade music scene, straight from Austin, Texas. It’s incredibly pretty music, but it’s also mature, complex and rich of emotion. The lyrics are wonderful, delivered with beautiful singing in breathtaking melody. The banjo-playing is just perfect. Taken aback by the quality of the first track, I thought to myself that they couldn’t keep that level for the whole album, and wondered if any track is less than repeat-listening worthy. None at all. The last song is one of the most beautiful also.

The album goes back and forth between alternative country a purer folk and country music, with a few stops for overwhelming Tom Waits influence (Tracks 7 and 9, at least). You get the great feeling of listening to something that has deep root in culture. For Americans, the “100% made in America” feel must be very satisfying. The lyrical content is less rooted in the imagery of its lyrical content, but that’s skin-deep. The deep American folk view of looking at the world is the most important thing to preserve, and it’s all here. The folk phraseology is there, the way of talking, centered on very real things and their emotional meaning, with expressions such as “cherished more than gold” and “I think I’ve grown a little thinner”. No embarrassing stories about a horse sung by a twenty-something guy, just a country sort of thinking and talking, such as in the marvelous “Proper Fence”. A spoken voice sample about the penis is the only very disconnected thing I could find, in the most out-there tracks, the farther away from country, with a nice alternative country melody.

Only bad thing I can say about this is that I miss having the lyrics somewhere. (edit: lyrics here)

-Carpeaux

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

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

Balmy – Metaverse

Mataverse is the first release by producer Balmy, formally known as Atmosfear.

So I used to have this problem a long while back with listening to instrumental hip-hop and strictly beat oriented music in general. The biggest problem for me was attempting to maintain an interest, not becoming bored with what you are given; that being these linear constructions that I felt would so easily be made listenable with some raps thrown in overtop. Musician’s such as Flying Lotus and Blockhead were some of the first that turned me on to instrumental hip-hop mostly due to their listenability, the idea of hearing their music as established pieces that I could feel involved in and draw emotion from. As musicians their instrumentals seemed to pull everything together allowing me to hear it as more than just a nice background jam which is exactly what Balmy has done for me as well. ‘Metaverse’ is a twelve track collection of tranquil and pretty beats built on samples, lush synth patterns and great compositional arrangements that is experimental and nonlinear enough to listen to as is while still containing enough versatility for ambitious rappers to attempt to spit over. These psychedelic arrangements of pretty synths and sequences of downtempo jazz and hip-hop are perfect easy listening.

The smoothness that the album starts out with is maintained masterfully throughout making for an easy and relaxing listen that shows Balmy knows how to create a good vibe and just stick with it throughout. Even though the music is dominantly downtempo it goes without saying there are plenty of great bleeps, bloops, and unconventional noises to keep you entertained during a number of relaxing events, whether it be just lounging around with your friends, going to sleep, or just listening. All of the tracks remain at a steady pace all ranking in at under 4 minutes, a good length that ensures things don’t get boring.

‘Old Hall’ is a track brimming with tons of spacey futuristic sounds that is truly a treat for the ears. Tracks such as ‘Woob’, ‘Space Cruise’, and ‘Space Lounge’ have this old dusty record feel that harbors a sense of nostalgia and sounds like they would fit right at home playing during an Adult Swim bump. All of the tunes feature samples derived from traditional instruments which makes it hard not to get caught up in trying to analyze every aspect of the music and the sounds sampled to create it; these quick snippets of guitars, orchestral instruments, bells and chimes, all so warm and familiar. It happens so quick that it is almost subliminal but at the same time you don’t not want to pay attention.

An impressive album full of enjoyable mellow tunes that although sounds like you may have heard this before (Cosmogramma) you’ll definitely want to hear it again… and again and keep hearing it just to be able to digest it all. If you’re into Flying Lotus or Long Arm this will be a treat.

Overall rating: 8.3

Favorite Track: ‘Protura’, ‘Old Hall’

Recommended: Flying Lotus and Long Arm.

Released: 06 February 2012

Links: Mellow out 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

Mont Saint Michel – Sediment

Mont Saint Michel is the solo experimental music project of Tyler Stupalsky. ‘Sediment’ is the first release under the project name which according to the last.fm page is a collection of songs featuring a variety of guest production. Sediment is a series of five songs that pays tribute to the wall-of-sound characteristics found in shoegaze combining it with ambient music in even tasteful applications all in a compact and friendly span of 3 to 5 minutes.

The Ep begins with ‘Tributary’, a track brimming with guitar melodies and glowing ambient textures, one that starts off safe enough with but soon transforms into monolithically large pulsating slabs of psychedelic noise. The textures are so vibrant, melodic even, a concept that is carried on throughout the EP, specifically on ‘Midnight Special’. One of the most enjoyable aspects of ”Tributary’ is the unorthodox beat that randomly comes into the song, a risky and unexpected move that feels perfectly in place, one that shows that Mont Saint Michel is not afraid to take chances with a few unusual ideas. Seeing as this is the only track that includes beats, it is an idea that works so well in its application that I wouldn’t mind hearing more of it on future releases. Although experimental, ‘Sediment’ does not stray so far away from familiarity that it becomes completely alien. This familiarity is demonstrated on ‘Streets/Tears’, a slow moving ballad that begins with a considerably larger amount of traditional guitar playing further brings in a sense of musicality.

‘Sediment’ comes off very much like a mixtape, a collection of interesting ideas and experiments that gives the listener an idea of what to expect in the future which makes this experimental enough for the weirdos while staying formulaic and familiar enough for your average listener who has a bit of a sweet tooth for experimentation. Mont Saint Michel brings a stimulating pallet of familiar sounds and blends them with an adventurous amount of experimentation. The tone is bright, featuring a thin but present underlying layer of dreamy pop melodies; it is all very warm and welcoming while being mysterious enough to make you feel like you have discovered something new. It is like a summer day at the beach, just before it is about to rain; a strong and refreshing introduction to what is hopefully to come in the near future.

Overall rating: 8.8

Favorite Tracks: ‘Tributary’, ‘Midnight Special’, ‘Streets/Tears’

Recommended: Like attempting to remain conscious while being submerged in a pool filled with cough syrup as you are serenaded by local rock musicians.

Links:

Visit the Bandcamp page

Mont Saint Michel on Soundcloud

-Redntoothnclaw

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