Friday, January 29, 2010

Circle Takes the Square - As the Roots Undo (2004)

The first (and as of yet, only) full-length release by Savannah, GA's Circle Takes the Square, is packed with ever-changing time signatures and spastic melodies in songs like "Same Shade as Concrete," "Crowquill," and "In the Nervous Light." Raw, uninhibited and unpredictable, As the Roots Undo was a fist-shaped breath of fresh air to the skramz/screamo scene of the mid-2000s. It's definitely an acquired taste, but damn, is it tasty.

For fans of: Pg. 99, Daughters, Saetia


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Massive Attack - Mezzanine (1998)

Departing from the sound found on Blue Lines and Protection (Massive Attack's first and second albums respectively), Mezzanine finds its home floating in darker waters. Pulsing, beating and ever-moving, the songs contained herein are very much alive in their brood. Songs like "Inertia Creeps" and "Mezzanine" are like a fog, billowing around the listener and while remaining undaunting, have got you completely surrounded without any escape in sight. Several songs from this album have been covered by other artists, like "Angel," which has been covered by both Sepultura and The Dillinger Escape Plan, and "Teardrop," which has been covered by José González, Incubus, and Elbow to name a few.

Musical Fun Fact #1: The song "Teardrop" is also famous for being the theme song to that medical show with everyone's favourite misanthropic, sarcastic Holmesian doctor.

Musical Fun Fact #2: This record was one of the first to be available for legal download in mp3 format.

For fans of: Portishead, Tricky, UNKLE


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Owls - Our Hopes and Dreams (2004)

The Owls (not to be confused with Owls), a folky four-piece from Minnesota released Our Hopes and Dreams back in February 2004 and with it, the world became a little lighter. Consisting of eight delightfully dreamy tracks, this record quickly finds a place in the heart of the listener. This album lives above the clouds and below the stars and that translates into songs like "Air" and "Drop Me a Line." Add this to your collection. Your ears will thank you.

For fans of: Laura Veirs, Noah and the Whale, Belle and Sebastian


Sebadoh - Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock (1992)

Their Sub Pop debut, Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock compiles select tracks from two of Sebadoh's earlier EPs, Rocking the Forest and Sebadoh vs. Helmet. Despite that, this doesn't feel like a compilation record at all. It's a healthy serving of the lo-fi goodness that Lou Barlow and Sebadoh are so famous and loved for. The song "Brand New Love" makes yet another appearance in its latest form here, having been featured on recordings as early as Sebadoh's 1990 release, Weed Forestin'. Younger indie rock fans might recognize that song as the extended outro of "Blacking Out the Friction" on Death Cab for Cutie's live release, The John Byrd EP. If lo-fi awesomeness be the object of your search, look no further.

For fans of: Dinosaur Jr., The Folk Implosion, Lou Barlow


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ida Maria - Fortress Round My Heart (2008)

This album just makes you want to move. Dance, jump, even shake, rattle and roll if you feel like it. Fortress Round My Heart is the debut release by Norwegian-born musician Ida Maria. This record has spawned six singles, including "Oh My God," "Keep Me Warm" (which was recently featured on the sappy medical show, you know the one...), and my personal favorite, "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked." With this and a Daytrotter session under her belt, Ida Maria's here with a fist, a snarl and a smile and she's not going anywhere anytime soon.

For fans of: Noisettes, Florence + the Machine, Kate Nash


Dr. Dog - We All Belong (2007)

This album is an original journey that passes through the land of nostalgia a few times along the way. The fourth full-length release from Philadelphia indie psych outfit Dr. Dog, We All Belong includes the warm sound of records of the 1960s, the most obvious of which would most likely be Pet Sounds. Despite this, you'll find no evidence of plagiarism. In fact, quite the contrary. this record houses uniquely original melodies and songs, including "My Old Ways" and "Old News." This album is for fans of music, quite simply. Dig in.

For fans of: Fruit Bats, The Beatles, of Montreal, The Beach Boys


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jason Choi - Leave the Night Behind (2006)

This is an album that only gets better with every listen. When singer/songwriter Jason Choi released this a few years back, he presented an example of what a good full-length record should be. It's 10 tracks, tracks that are substantial from beginning to end. There's not one second of filler to be found. No overly complex time signatures that change every time you turn around. No pretentious 40 second tracks of fuzz and static, and yet every note is deliberate and with meaning. From the moment he sings, "Wake up, O sleeper and rise from the dead..." on "Up Jumps the Devil," the album's opener, the listener is captured by the grace and power that can only be found on Leave the Night Behind.

For fans of: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Maplethorpe, M. Ward


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Converge - Jane Doe (2001)

WARNING! This album is not to be taken lightly. Do not listen to this album if you are not 100% ready for it. You should store this album in a cool, dry place only between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not listen to this album without first applying the necessary protective eyewear and body armor. Do not make sudden moves around this album. Do not taunt this album. Do not look this album directly in the eyes.

Revered by critics and devoured by fans, Jane Doe was the perfect next step for Converge as it embarks in a more melodic direction than their previous efforts, yet still retains the softness of a diamond porcupine. Remember that scene in Raiders when the Ark was opened and the Nazis melted? Yeah, it's kinda like that, and then some. Quite simply, this record carries the torch passed when Botch broke up.

For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Dethklok


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cripple Lilies - La Bête (2007)

This is yet another gem from a band who is no longer among the living. Hailing from Pensacola, FL, The Cripple Lilies were a heavenly blend of harmony, strummed strings and woodwinds that stole the heart of your humble narrator a few years back. With this, their sole full-length, they achieve a level of pleasantness that is so remarkably hard to find these days. My heart skips a beat every time I hear, "Bella of the Rocks." Not too soft and not too cheesy, La Bête is just right. Play this record while you have yourself a cup of coffee. You'll be astounded when you realize that you won't be requiring any sweetener.

For fans of: Winterpills, Kings of Convenience, The Wooden Birds