Monday, June 11, 2012

Narrows - Painted (2012)

Formed in 2008 by ex-members of Botch, Bullet Union, Unbroken and These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows is (thankfully) one of those bands that doesn't try to skate by on street cred alone. 2012's Painted is a wonderful next step following 2009's New Distances. Dave Verellen provides the vocals that we Botch fans know and love over music that's reminiscent of what Norma Jean would've sounded like had Josh Scogin not left to form the chariot after the band released Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child*. Dissonance, horror chords and just the right amount of KICK YOUR TEETH IN, this record is not to be overlooked.

* Anyone who tells you that Norma Jean's first record wasn't their best record is LYING.

For fans of: Converge, Norma Jean, Botch, Heiress


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem (2009)

I'm going to start right off the bat by saying that this record is Phil Elverum's best work since 2001's The Glow Pt. 2. I know. Big words, right? This isn't a "Phil's getting back to his roots" sort of thing, the two records sound nothing alike. He just happened to make one of the best headphones records ever. Trust me on this one, if you play it through speakers, you'll miss little nuances and do a disservice to both yourself and the record. Back in 2009, Phil got REALLY into black metal and decided to make a black metal album of his very own. Don't worry, you're not going to get a Venom record here. It's got slow-moving, gradual synths and droned guitar tones while still retaining the vocals that long time listeners of The Microphones/Mount Eerie cherish so dearly.

Music nerd trivia: "Between Two Mysteries" includes elements of "Twin Peaks Theme" by Angelo Badalementi.

Music nerd trivia (cont.): A section of lyrics from the track "Stone's Ode" were taken from the Burzum song, "Dunkelheit" (Varg Vikernes is still an asshole, though.)

For fans of: The Microphones, Thanksgiving, Xasthur

Monday, April 2, 2012

Geotic - Bless the Self (2011)

This one is a thing of quiet, simple beauty. While on tour, Will Wiesenfeld (Baths) made this most recent record under the Geotic moniker. Heard throughout this ethereal record are pieces of "Wind II," a field recording made at 2:00 AM of the Santa Ana winds outside his California home. This record doesn't ask anything of you, and it never will... But it's there for you. Lie down, get a pair of headphones and drift off into this one, friends.

For fans of: Dntel, Baths, Chris Zabriskie


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alex Winston - Sister Wife EP (2011)

Welcome back, friends. I know it's been awhile. Rather than make excuses, I'm going to jump right into the next post. After releasing an EP of covers in 2010 (that includes an almost ethereal cover of Mumford & Sons' "The Cave"), American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Winston returned last year with Sister Wife, a collection of six pop songs that each stand on their own quite nicely. No two tracks sound the same, but they all contain her classically trained and delicately haunting voice that sounds as if it were birthed by Tracy Chapman and Meredith Godreau and is also by some weird coincidence, a distant (and much more pleasant to the ear) cousin of Joanna Newsom's. The song form which the record gets its name is pretty much a perfect pop song about polygamy. That's right, you heard me. Girl whose voice has an almost childlike timber to it sings indie pop track about polygamy... And it's good. Like, REALLY good, y'all.

P.S.: I've only just heard the album last night and I've had the title track stuck in my head ever since. Enjoy!

For fans of: Gregory and the Hawk, Hepburn, Joanna Newsom, Meggan Carney


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage (2011)

I'm so easily turned off by black metal, and it's been mostly because of the lyrics. Whether I agree or disagree with their subject matter is of no consequence, the lyrics themselves are so often on the 5th grade reading level, that I feel like I'm hacking and slashing at my I.Q. by listening. As for musicianship, I can get the same style and technique in countless other places, so I have no reason to listen to this particular genre. With the release of their fourth studio album, Olympia's Wolves in the Throne Room delivers something nobody saw coming: A refreshing black metal record. Two of Celestial Lineage's seven tracks are instrumental, and the tracks with lyrics actually bring something different to the table. This record doesn't redeem the genre as a whole, but it finally gives the listener something worth listening to.

For fans of: Asunder, Dystopia, Fauna

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teen Heat - Cursed And Cured

Band broke up but wrote this last album and gave it away for free. It's rad, you can download it for free at

For fans of sad yet upbeat electronic music.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Children of the Sixth Root Race - Songs from the Source (1973)

In the late 1960's, James Edward Baker, calling himself Father Yod/Ya Ho Wha, founded and led a commune of young people that came to be known as the Source Family. In addition to following an organic lifestyle and most of the things that go along with organizations of that nature (no pun intended), the members of the Source Family also made (and continue to make) a ton of music. Friends, this record here is a live recording of the group, here referring to themselves as the Children of the Sixth Root Race, rehearsing for an upcoming concert in 1973. Each track was recorded live, in one take, with no overdubs. Yeah... This one'll take you over the river and through the woods, but where it leaves you isn't anywhere remotely resembling your grandmother's house.

For fans of: Yahowah 13, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Mountain Goats - Come, Come to the Sunset Tree (2005)

In 2005, John Darnielle released a milestone of a record called The Sunset Tree. His most autobiographical release to date, it told stories of drug use ("Dinu Lipatti's Bones," "Dilaudid" and "Song for Dennis Brown"), stories of abuse suffered at the hands of his stepfather ("This Year," "Lion's Teeth," "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod" and "Pale Green Things"), as well as a bunch of just plain awesome tracks ("Love Love Love," "Magpie," "Dance Music," and "Up the Wolves"). With the first 1000 copies of the album on vinyl, listeners got a bonus record of demo tracks and B-sides from around the same time. Now, friends, you get the same treat. These songs are even more raw than the ones on The Sunset Tree, and here they are for your listening pleasure.

P.S.: "High Doses #2" is a doozy. :)

For fans of: John Vanderslice, The Extra Glenns/Lens, Marc with a C

Monday, November 29, 2010

Special Others - Quest (2008)

The sixth release from jazzy Japanese rock quartet Special Others, Quest sounds like what you'd hear if the math rock mafia hijacked your local smooth jazz station. This record isn't abrasive, but it's far from timid. When it comes to length, only two of the ten songs fall under the six minute mark, but this album never drags its feet for a second. A mix of Japanese and English vocals compliment the songs, but make no effort to be the main vocal point of the music, instead providing a layer that fits in perfect harmony with the rest of the instruments. There are definitely points on here that give off a This Town Needs Guns vibe, most noticeably in the album's title track. Jazz is not the enemy, boys and girls, and don't worry, I'm not saying that you have to dive into the genre as a whole, nor am I implying that this record will make you yearn for afternoons filled with freeform jazz. What I am saying is that you are better off having lived a life that included listening to these ten songs.

For fans of: American Football, This Town Needs Guns, Your Song is Good

Friday, November 19, 2010

El Ten Eleven - El Ten Eleven (2004)

The eponymous debut of Los Angeles based post-rock duo El Ten Eleven, El Ten Eleven is nine tracks of instrumental wonder. I stumbled upon this band by accident when the third track, "Lorge," captured my attention when it came up on an internet radio station that I'd had set to play songs by and like The American Analog Set. As soon as the synth loop started going, I was hooked and immediately sought out the album from whence it came. Now, my friends, I pass it on to you. Enjoy!

For fans of: The American Dollar, Unwed Sailor, The Six Parts Seven, Saxon Shore, Sigur Rós

Pop Unknown - If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra (2000)

While they might not have been the poster boys for the second wave emo movement or the Midwest sound it became synonymous with, Austin, TX's Pop Unknown put out a record on Deep Elm in 2000 that was a perfect representation of the genre. If you like your emo untainted by whining, this record is for you. If you look back on the time when burning CDs was cool and nobody had an iPod with a smile, then this record is definitely for you.

For fans of: Christie Front Drive, The Gloria Record, Sunny Day Real Estate, Boy's Life

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Savoir Adore - In the Wooded Forest (2009)

This album was, hands down, one of the best releases of 2009. The proper full-length debut of Brooklyn's Savoir Adore (following 2008's The Adventures of Mr. Pumpernickel and the Girl With Animals in Her Throat), In the Wooden Forest is a gust of wind that gives the listener's ears a breath of fresh air (if ears had lungs, that is... You get the picture.). This studio release is full of little nuances and idiosyncrasies that keep it fresh with each listen. Songs like "We Talk Like Machines," "Transylvanian Candy Patrol," "MERP," and "Space Travel" sound new with each and every listen. This record has been given a lot of care and nurturing, and the end result is something much more cohesive than the band's previous release, while still containing all of the defining characteristics that made your humble narrator fall in love with them in the first place. Fans of their first release will recognize the track "The Wooded Forest," (formerly titled "In the Wooded Forest, A Girl") now in an extended and much more finished version (not to mention where this album gets its name). If lights had sounds, this record would be home to the entire visible spectrum of color.

For fans of: The Submarines, Broken Social Scene, Mates of State, GIVERS, The Ethnographers

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rites of Spring - End on End (1991)

Released in 1991, End on End is a compilation album by pioneers of first-wave emo Rites of Spring. It contains all the songs from both releases, plus one for the road. This band contained both Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty in their pre-Fugazi days, not to mention that it was produced by Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye, (how's that for street cred?) and this band's career, like a good punk song, was short and sweet. This band, along with Minor Threat, paved the way for Fugazi, which in turn paved the way for the second-wave emo greats we all know and love (Braid, Mineral, The Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate, etc.), so respect your elders and let them beat your skulls in for the next fifty minutes and thirty-nine seconds. They've damn well earned it.

For fans of: Fugazi, Cap'n Jazz, Christie Front Drive


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maria Taylor with Andy LeMaster - Savannah Drive (2008)

This record is wonderful for a myriad of reasons. First, it's a collection of good songs, which is essential for any good record. Second, it's a sampler of sorts of Maria Taylor's solo catalog thus far. Six of these seven songs are acoustic renditions of songs selected from all three of her releases. Third, it includes Andy LeMaster of Now It's Overhead, and for those of you who have never heard a Now It's Overhead record, you're missing out. Fourth and certainly not last, despite the fact that it is made up of material previously found on other albums, it is something new entirely. The first, second and fifth tracks ("Song Beneath the Song", "Birmingham 1982" and "Leap Year," respectively) were taken from 11:11, Maria's first solo record. Track 4 ("A Good Start") was taken from her sophomore release, Lynn Teeter Flower, and tracks 3 and 6 ("LadyLuck" and "Time Lapse Lifeline") were taken from my personal favorite album of hers, 2009's LadyLuck. The final track is brand spanking new, a lovely little number called "Tell Me." Enjoy, friends!

For fans of: Azure Ray, Orenda Fink, Jenny Owen Youngs, Damon and Naomi

Discovery of a Lifelong Error - You Can Learn a Lot from a Pair of Black Lungs... (2007)

I went into this record with absolutely no expectations whatsoever, and that's exactly what I would recommend for all those who dare enter here to do. Listening to this record is like getting swept up into a tornado, and while you're up there, getting hit in the head with toasters and stop signs and cows and all sorts of other debris that the whirlwind managed to gather before getting dropped back down into completely unfamiliar territory. With screams that sound like a Frankenstein-esque monster made of parts of Dallas Taylor (while he was still in Underoath), Drew Speziale, Mike Hranica, and all the members of The Speed of Sound in Seawater and blood-curdling riffs all packed into short and sweet tracks (the longest track, "'Terra Firma' Might Be Inappropriate," clocks in at 3:18), you'd better kiss Auntie Em and the dog goodbye, because for the next 18 minutes and 54 seconds, you'll get blown right the fuck out of Kansas.

For fans of: Daughters, The Speed of Sound in Seawater, Circle Takes the Square, 2 O'Clock Girlfriend