Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ski Lodge - I Would Die to Be

I'm gonna take a break from my continuous 24 hours of Ben Folds joyous listening party (look for a review on his new greatest hits collection soon!) to show you this song. It reminds me of The Drums, but a lot less annoying. Little surf guitar riffs, easygoing vocals, and just generally the kind of song that you can just put on repeat while you pretend you're sitting on the sidewalk on a sunny day with a vanilla milkshake, talking to your best friend on the phone. You know, the kind of thing you do all the time (not).

Ski Lodge - I Would Die To Be by Dovecote Records

Friday, August 26, 2011

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

All of St. Vincent’s best qualities are still inherent on Strange Mercy—the juxtaposition of screeching, dirty guitar blasts and angelic vocal melodies, the layers of swirling synthesizers, and the propensity to make heads bob. But there’s also jazz fusion madness (the climax of “Surgeon”), heavy metal fizz (“Dilettante”), and menacing couplets atop languid beats (“Year of the Tiger”). It makes for a complex web of an album, even more challenging than the dreamlands frontwoman and songwriter Annie Clark pieced together on her first two albums. “Cruel” is a treat, all grooving bass and spacey vocals. The band envisions the marimba as a bright undertone to Clark’s guitar shredding, rather than the quirky-cute foil. The subject matter on Strange Mercy is mostly grim, painting feelings of betrayal and protest, coupled with an immediate angst. “They could take or leave you, so they took you, and they left you,” Clark croons flatly. These grim stories are told in an entirely unique manner, in a symphonic style that’s uniquely St. Vincent’s. At times, the layers feel cluttered and claustrophobic. Yet the second half of the album is less noisy, with songs like “Champagne Year” quietly sliding by with muddled drums and slow-building synths. It’s the highs and lows, the harsh and posh, the heavy and heavenly—that juxtaposition—that makes Strange Mercy both expected and entirely unbelievable.

p.s. ridiculous. i can't even...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gem Club - Twins

Simple and meditated, beautiful yet haunting. This is a song for the ages, a universal sad sigh, a long look backward, and a hesitant glance to the future. A drawn-out goodbye, a musical sponge, absorbing every last drop of a powerful memory, flaws and all.

It's the heaving chest, heartbeats slowing, aching for what should have been.

"Just your touch could cure my lonesome blood," it goes, slowly, pain rolled up into the piano in a hollow room, footsteps echoing from the wooden planks of the floor. Ending as it begins, jarring chords slightly altered, a slow descent into a new chapter.

Gem Club - Twins by hardlyartrecords

Monday, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beirut's Uncanny Nostalgia Trips

Nothing transports me quite like Beirut. Oftentimes, while listening to their music, I'm taken to foreign countries, pieces of my ancestry, a time before I existed. And, more often then not, into my own memories.

Listening to March of the Zapotec, I'm back in the Appalachian hills of Athens. I don't pack myself dinners for work, and I have no idea that I'm capable of a half-marathon. Life is uncertain, and the moments are more important than the end goal. Well, not really, I always was that kinda girl who's concerned about the future. But the moments, there were plenty.

I did best when I slept til 9, squeezed in bike rides between classes, never forgot to set my alarm. I never knew who I was going to meet that night, or where I'd end up.

Life is now routine, I pack my dinners, and my job requirement of listening to police scanners for 9 straight hours has lessened my desire for late nights of music listening. I come home. I want silence. It takes something pretty strong to waken my senses.

Beirut's new album, The Rip Tide, has already struck me with it's grandness. It could make me cry, its unabashed horns and bold gestures. It takes you to a place... a place more important than the current minute inner-workings of your world. Wall Street is a set of two words, and I don't even know what unemployment numbers mean -- let's just hold hands and forget about it for a few minutes.

The electronic effects we first heard Zack Condon release with Holland, the previously unreleased solo bedroom project that made up the second half of the March of the Zapotec album, sneak into songs like "Santa Fe." But halfway through the song, they're hidden beneath a behemoth of ringing trumpets. It's the best of both worlds. Very human in the midst of the technology Condon's unleashing.

The strum of acoustics on "East Harlem" is so twee and special sounding, like it was dreamed up for a child's birthday party. Condon's deep vibrato could pop the biggest balloon at the party.

Not a song in this collection is anything but beautiful and unique, a web of shimmering gems in a sea of Odd Future horribleness and Kanye West's ego. It so far transcends the moment in which it has been captured, just nine songs drawing strength from the beauty of their instruments played to the highest caliber.

Maybe it's not as grand as I'm making it out to be, but it's so easy to get lost in these moments, forgetting about the all-consuming, at-times horrifying details of everyday life. And getting lost in the moments can be more valuable than... well, anything.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peter Wolf Crier - Garden of Arms

On their sophomore release, the Minneapolis-based duo adds a few new tricks to the haunting intimacy they know best. A cloudy layer of ambient noise disorients in “Right Away,” and heartbeat percussion punctuates high-octane guitar growls in “Krishnamurti.” “Beach” captures magic dust with a rainstick and lonely guitar. Just when you think it’s going to be a simple, pleasing piece of pop simplicity, standard time signatures are thrown to the wind and another contrasting guitar noodle adds new color. But Garden of Arms lacks the shuffling melodies and stark homemade craftwork of the band’s debut.