Wednesday, June 27, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song” (Over a decade has passed since we last heard from Beachwood Sparks but they return with their new album Tarnished Gold, out this week on Sub Pop and their familiar sun-soaked melodies and psychedelic brand of country-leaning folk is bolstered by guests such as Ariel Pink.  It’s like they never left but I hope we don’t have to wait another decade before the next album!) 

2.  Paul Banks – “Summertime Is Coming” (The Interpol frontman released his new solo EP Julian Penti Lives… today on Matador.  Banks switches out the moodier and darker vibe of Interpol, for acoustic guitars and lush, summery instrumentation on the aptly-titled first single yet retains his signature angular post-rock riffs.  Released in anticipation of a full-length due this Fall, the limited-edition EP includes 2 new tracks plus eclectic covers of songs by Frank Sinatra, J. Dilla and Harold Faltermeyer.)

3.  Arc In Round “Hallowed” (Following last year’s two excellent EPs, the experimental Philly-based four piece released their self-titled debut album this week on La Société Expéditionnaire.  Melodic male and female vocals blend with shoegaze guitars, prog rock tendencies and krautrock rhythyms along with guest contributions from Kurt Vile and members of Pattern Is Movement, that deliver on their anticipated debut.  The vinyl version of the album also includes remixes from A Sunny Day In Glascow and Ape School among others.)    

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Lull - "Meat Mountain" EP

Chicago art-rock band A Lull are set to release their new EP Meat Mountain today on Lujo Records.  Offered as a digital download or as a one-sided 12” vinyl, the new EP shows growth and a more subtle approach while still retaining the experimental spirit of their excellent 2011 debut album, Confetti, which was a densely layered percussion-heavy gem.   Recorded, produced and mixed by the band, the 5 songs on Meat Mountain are more spaced out with new instruments added to the band’s repertoire like saxophones, flutes and oddly enough, even cymbals were used for the first time. 
The EP opens with the one-two punch of the tumbling rhythm, 80’s-inspired synth sounds and skronky saxophone of the first single, “Summer Dress” and “Beaches” with its breezy, glimmering melodies and sing-along chorus.  The lighter, more upbeat and appropriately titled songs reflect the fact that they were recorded in Chicago during the uncharacteristically mild winter of 2012.  “Still Got Pull” opens with a buzzing guitar and frantic rhythm for a slightly darker moment.  “Not About It” stands out with a creeping ambiance of synths and guitars and they use their voices as another instrument to create some primal, siren-like and swaying melodies.  "Would That I Could" closes out the EP with crashing bursts of noise contrasted by touches of beautiful clarity and harmony.  
With the Meat Mountain EP, A Lull has proved that their excellent debut Confetti, was no fluke and that the band is geared to constantly evolve, which only ramps up the anticipation for their next album.       

Friday, June 22, 2012

Free Friday: Various Artists - "Dayton City Paper Summer Series Vol. 2"

The Dayton City Paper has just released its second installment of the Summer Sampler with a "who's who" in the always great, ever-prolific Dayton music scene. 

The 12-track sampler opens with the exciting new band Duke Of Owls and their throwback guitar-led rock sound.  Feathered Serpent follows with a thick, sludgy grunge anthem.  Local vets, Smug Brothers include a bouncy new track from their upcoming album On the Way to the Punchline.  Being brings their jarring extreme noise with an 8-and-a-half minute assault from their album PlumpKing Elk, the new project from Andy Smith of Andrew & The Pretty Punchers and Kyle Melton of Smug Brothers provides a stunning, standout psych-pop track from their upcoming album  Making Buildings Out of Everything.  Astro Fang makes their presence known with a jittery slice of angular noise-rock.  The trio Dirty Socialites distill everything great about the guitar-centric 90's indie rock into one pretty and haunting ballad.  Led by Brandon Hawk, By Way Of Sunstorm tear into an epic, Isis-like post-metal churner like there is no tomorrow.  The Trash offer up a straight-forward rock number with swagger to spare.  Also leading the charge in the metal underground is Bastet Illuminara with their throat and guitar shredding black metal style.  Scene vets The Story Changes lend their experience to the sampler with a super-catchy pop-punk sing-along.  And closing out the sampler is a new Southeast Engine track from their upcoming Canaanville EP due July 31st from the Dayton-based label Misra Records.

The Dayton music scene is alive and well and the Dayton City Paper has provided the perfect document!


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Silver Jews – “Secret Knowledge Of Back Roads” (Drag City has reissued the earliest recordings from Silver Jews on the compilation Early Times, released this week.  The comp. includes the long out of print Dime Map Of The Reef 7” EP and the 12” EP The Arizona Record.  It is an excellent lo-fi treasure chest for completists to witness the band as it developed its unique sound from the beginning.)  

2.  The Sun Parade – “Need You By My Side” (The indie-folk duo of Chris Marlon Jennings and Jefferson Lewis released their debut album, Yossis this week on Spirithouse Music.  The super-catchy first single is just the tip of the iceberg, as the album is filled with soaring choruses, close-knit vocal harmonies and pounding percussion.  Fans of Fleet Foxes, Girls and Elliot Smith unite!)

3.  The Ghost Inside – “Engine 45” (The California hardcore band released Get What You Give, their powerful third album and Epitaph Records debut this week.  They create powerful anthems of self-sacrifice and addiction with a positive outlook set to thundering breakdowns and melodic choruses that capture the intense energy of their dynamic live show.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Joey Cook - "I Don't Know If We're In A Garden' EP

Joey Cook, the multi-instrumentalist with the quirky tenor from Cincinnati psych-pop band the Pomegranates has just released his new solo EP I Don’t Know If We’re In A Garden on the heels of the release of the Pomegranates’ excellent new album, Heaven.
The noisy and propulsive title track, “I Don’t Know If We’re In A Garden”, opens the 7-track EP with growling guitars, tumbling drums and ping-ponging vocals that are a departure from the dream-pop of his parent band. Sounding a little more like what you would expect, “Little Heart” features strummy guitars and close-knit harmonies that could pass as a sweet Poms B-side. “Are You There?” is a short ambient instrumental and blends into the 60’s-inspired psychedelic pop of standout track “Frozen Lake”, which features a thick, walking bass line and a trippy extended instrumental passage to end the song. “Weird Dream” is a lushly layered and cinematic track tailor-made to be the soundtrack to your weirdest dream. And where “Weird Dream” was calm and collected yet slightly off-kilter, the aptly-titled “Dream Went Bad” follows with a chaotic tangle of noisy keyboard and guitar outbursts set to a frantic beat. The EP closes with the super-short acoustic guitar-led “Goodbye” with its hopeful, “winter is finally over” sentiment.
After releasing four albums with the Pomegranates and several EPs, singles and an album by himself, the ever-prolific Joey Cook proves with his latest EP, I Don’t Know If We’re In A Garden that he is one of the most interesting and engaging songwriters in the indie music scene today.        

Stream/Buy here:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Flicks: Chronicle

We’ve all had those daydreams where we think about what it would be like if we had Superpowers.  If I were given the gift of flight, super strength, x-ray vision, or a resistance to pain, how would I use them and would it be for good or bad?  This is the situation that the low-budget surprise sci-fi film Chronicle - released on Blu-ray and DVD May 15th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment - places us in.  Three high school friends, Andrew, Matt, and Steve, stumble across a gaping hole in the earth and decide to explore it after hearing some sounds coming from said hole.  One thing leads to another and the three black out and the next time we see them, they are showing off their new found skills.  Once they start realizing the potential of the newfound powers, things start to really get interesting!
This movie was not heavily advertised and I just happened to stumble across it when I was bored and wanted to see what was playing at the local theatre.  Chronicle is a hand-held film; much in the same vein as The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity.  While I typically do not care for this type of view, Chronicle makes it work more than I have enjoyed it in any other film.  Our viewpoint is the camera that Andrew, the films anti-hero, carries with him at all times to document his lifeThis style works so well in this movie because it allows us to fall into the reality of what it would be like if you were a casual passerby and witnessed these events as they happened.  For example, we see the young men playing with their power, treating it as a toy and having some fun with it.  We witness them firsthand, showing off their impenetrable skin via a fork stabbing, their ability to fly with an incredible game of football at 20,000 feet in the sky and telekinesis.  But even with all of the fun they are having with their newfound superpowers, we also are beginning to see hints that there is something darker brewing beneath the surface.
While Matt and Steve are already the popular ones, Andrew is definitely the loner of the three.  The other two are given these powers and this just adds to their already "happy" lives but Andrew takes his new abilities to another level.  As we saw in the trailers, Andrew begins using his powers without thought for the harm of others, in one memorable scene, he uses his darker powers to run a truck run off the road and into a pond, which he passes off as an "accident".  Andrew slowly becomes the strongest of the three, harnessing his powers for evil, as Matt explains, the powers are like a muscle.  He also becomes even more unhappy and isolated.  The friends attempt to console Andrew but this just makes things worse and the friends (and family) problems continue to become gravely worse.
Chronicle had me glued to the screen from the beginning and actually laughing with our main characters at times, feeling like I was involved in the hijinks on screen.  First time director, Josh Trank, does an amazing job allowing the audience to see and feel the pain and angst that Andrew goes through, as well as documenting his growing status as a villian throughout the film.  The pacing is also something that I enjoyed, as it never really slows down.  The film very much builds to its ending, which is nice because it realistically portrays how authorities and people would respond to seeing someone flying or moving things with their mind, with fear and curiosity.  Again, this is another pat on the back for the director for using this type of view because we can then see the main characters interacting but also how everyone else around them reacts once they realize what is happening.
While there are some parts I think could be trimmed (I don’t know how many times we need to see Andrew fight with his dad) the film as a whole keeps everything moving and even throws a twist or two your way.  The plot may lead to some guessing about how it may end but it is still an enjoyable finale that left me satisfied and leaving the theatre with a smile.  Even better, it had me thinking on the way home...if I had their powers, how would I handle them?

The Blu-Ray Combo Pack of the film features both the theatrical and the director's cut versions of the movie as well as extras like deleted scenes, the trailer and a camera test. 

Download "Gold And Warm" by Bad Veins from the Chronicle soundtrack:

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Review by guest contributor Josh Bohman from the Dial M For Movies Reviews blog check it out here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Jaill – “Waste A Lot Of Things” (Led by the quirky lyrics and melodies of Vincent Kircher, the Milwaukee-based trio bang out super-catchy 70’s-loving power-pop and 60’s-inspired jangle-pop in equal amounts on Traps, their superb third album and second for Sub Pop, out now.)  

2.  These United States – “Born Young” (50’s-style guitar runs and a spacey and atmospheric bridge highlight the hip-shaking second single from the Americana road-kings’ self-titled fifth album, out now on United Interests Records.  The collaborative album features guests from Deer Tick, The Mynabirds, Ben Sollee, Cotton Jones, and Phosphorescent, just to name a few.)  

3.  The Young – “Livin’ Free” (The Austin psych-rock quartet released Dub Egg, their sophomore album, this week on Matador Records.  Check out the crashing cymbals and locked-in groove of the anthemic reverb-rich opening track and first single here.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

David Robert Griggs - "Dearly Departing" EP

Singer-songwriter David Robert Griggs can relate to Johnny Cash’s classic song, “I’ve Been Everywhere” and what those nomadic experiences can bring out of a songwriter’s music.  Griggs was born in England and then moved to Sydney, Australia.  After living there for sixteen years, he then landed in Portland, Oregon to pursue his music career.  But even after finally settling in to America, his restlessness again took him to Amsterdam for three months to write and record his debut EP Dearly Departing.  The self-released EP, just recently released and available in the iTunes store or at his website, is made up of four songs of intimate and emotionally charged, well crafted acoustic chamber-folk.  Dearly Departing has a definitive theme carried out during its four songs, though I wouldn’t consider it a “concept” album.  Lyrically, he sings about the intimate moments in life where you find yourself in an introspective mood after a big event like the end of a relationship, and he focuses on the closure or lack thereof as well as the spark that a new beginning can bring.  It is a universal theme that is easily relatable and even easier when placed into the poetic hands of Griggs.            
“Net Zero” opens the album with a cyclical fingerstyle guitar figure, sweeping violin and twinkling piano and also introduces us to David Robert Griggs’ deep and dynamic David Gray-like voice and homespun, Americana melodies.  The next track, “In The North” begins and ends with a Gospel-inspired choir of voices that reaches for the rafters with their meditative harmonies before a slow yet insistent gentle guitar comes in and blends with the violin into a fittingly chilling atmosphere for a song about loss and regret.   Stand out track “If Only” follows with hypnotic guitars, lilting vocals and the EP’s most immediately catchy moment on the sing along chorus, “And I wish I was your friend, but above all else I wish you well.”  It is that type of nostalgia-laced sentimentality that resonates throughout this set of songs that fully engages and transports the listener.  And the too short EP closes with the equally too short track, “Elysian Fields Getaway” and features close knit harmonies, a propulsive guitar riff, a staccato piano melody and Biblical imagery for another stand out moment.  I know it is cliché for music critics to say “it leaves you wanting more” but in some cases it is absolutely true and this is one of those cases.  Griggs’ music is inviting and engaging; funneling in all of his experiences, good and bad, and then channeling them through his music for the listener to live in.  That is what great folk music is all about.  
Hopefully, a proper full length album will be released soon because the organic folk, ornate arrangements and unique storytelling of the Dearly Departing EP makes for a promising debut that should put singer-songwriter David Robert Griggs on the Americana and folk music radar.  Well, that is if he can stay still long enough! 

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat (Featuring an exclusive Summer Girlfriends download!)

1.  Summer Girlfriends - "Pop Rocks" (An Atlas and the Anchor exclusive premiere of the Chicago all-female punk-pop band's super-catchy single from their debut album Shockwaves out now on Addenda Records.  They top their punk rock pizza with upbeat sunny melodies, kazoo solos, fat garage-born basslines and enough charm that you will want these girls to stay year round!)


2.  The Mynabirds - "Body Of Work" (Singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn returns with Generals, her second Richard Swift-produced album under The Mynabirds name, out now on Saddle Creek.  Where her stunning debut was filled with sepia-toned Gospel-drenched blue-eyed soul, she shifts her sound to include more electronic and percussive textures on her politically-charged sophomore effort and succeeds once again.  Listen to Laura play a 5-gallon bucket on the anthemic and street percussion-heavy new single here.)    


3.  Ian McGlynn - "Gold Morning Mend" (The singer-songwriter enlisted production and instrumental assistance from Ken Stringfellow of The Posies on Now We're Golden, his third album out now on Bailey Park Records.  Written on a small Casio MT-200 keyboard he blends the pure pop of the 60's and 70's with a touch of 80's-inspired synths for a golden-hued and soaring album full of sincere and cinematic hits built for movie and tv soundtracks.  Also, check out the dreamy and chill remix of the excellent single from producer TEEEL.)



Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pomegranates - "Heaven"

Cincinnati psych-pop band Pomegranates are set to release Heaven, their fourth album and first for new label Modern Outsider Records today.  Co-produced by the band and Miguel Urbitztondo (Sparklehorse, Cracker) and featuring new guitarist Curt Evers (ex-Enlou), the new album sparkles with the same artful dream pop, quirky melodies and reverb-rich guitars that are their calling card but finds the band broadening their sound while sharpening it as well for their best album yet.  

The album opens with the title track, "Heaven" with its propulsive keyboard-filled bridge and Joey Cook's off-kilter tenor.  The infectious first single, "Pass Away" stands out with Issac's impressive new found falsetto vocals, buzzing guitars and a disco-loving shout-along chorus.  The upbeat "Sisters" features a fuzzed-out bass line and a hip-shaking surf-rock rhythm.  "Ezekial" is highlighted by a siren-like guitar line and a reverb-filled atmosphere.  The dreamy piano-led "Something Everybody Wants" is an ode to true love with sweeping synths and sweet vocal melodies.  Another standout, "Letters" features the two vocalists blending their unique voices into one Fleet Foxes-like union set to a bed of guitars both shimmering and crackling with dissonant distortion.  The aptly-titled "Dream" is ambient yet forceful with a bouncy piano riff and more soulful falsetto vocals.  "Night Run" is the album's most dynamic track, as it begins with a hypnotic passage then launches into a noise-fueled bridge before it is brought back to earth with twinkling keyboards; sounding like the musical soundtrack to the short lifespan of a firework.  "Lost Lives" charges forward with a tight, Krautrock-like rhythm until the halfway mark when the bottom falls out, leaving only Joey's vocals and some glimmering guitars to end the song on a wistful, introspective moment that continues on "Surfing The Human Heart", the electronic beat and piano-led album closer.

With four critically acclaimed albums under their belt in almost as many years, the Cincinnati band still just barely flies under the radar but Heaven, with its focused songwriting and engaging melodies, is the album that will should give the band the wide-spread attention that they have earned.

Download "Pass Away" here:

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