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The Silent Years Makes Us Hold On As They Let Go

Posted by Scotio on July 9, 2009

***Updated***

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The term “Let Go” usually is used when facing troubling times. When things have gone to a point that you need to get away. You need to remove yourself from whatever it is that seems to have it’s hold on you. Rarely do you hear such a term used when association with something deemed good. But, Detroit’s The Silent Years have released an EP titled Let Go that has the phrase standing in a very positive light. Main member Josh Epstein calls it their musical piece that helps them move on. Move towards a forward direction in his band’s sonic career. I say that Josh is onto something here.

The lead single of the EP is “Madame Shocking.” It comes in as something that you might feel that Beirut(the musician) might have thought of originally. The opening music is best compared to that of music played at a town fair in the mid to late 1800s. Even Epstein’s vocal melody holds some sort of barring with that time frame. Though, the thing that doesn’t complete the suit of a hommage to the yester century are the lyrics. Filled with the expression of a man nearing the bottom of a bottle and revealing the bottom of himself. Then, in an almost comical fashion, the music does a rapid leap about 100 years. The Silent Years show a very keen sense in the Indie Pop genre, at this point. And, if you’re introduced to them with this song, by this point you get the feeling that these guys(and I use the term not for gender basis but for grouping) deserves a bit more of your time and attention. That, perhaps, you should begin to investigate how the rest of this 6 track plays out.

Taking Drugs At The Amusement Park” is a title that sounds like you walked in on the middle of a sentence. Not hearing the beginning, and lost for the ending. Luckily, this track doesn’t give you that feeling at all. The opening cut for Let Go welcomes all new listeners to the band with open arms and an upbeat smile. Ryan Clancy’s drum work is driven and gives the track an almost pivotal moment feeling. Fabian Halabou’s guitar work is creatively travel between the safe zone in Indie Pop and travels all the way outward towards Noise Rock/Shoegazing territory. A bold move, but it pays off by the truck load. Josh’s vocals coo and beckon you closer, then takes you to great soaring heights. The overly simple chorus of repeating “Da-da-dada”‘s cheats it’s way into getting into your head that much easier. With lyrics like “Sing us a song/ Only don’t sing too long/ You know I would get bored in a while” and “They got in my head and they’re painting my thoughts with the honest answers that offend me” it comes across as being told from the perspective of a twenty-something whom is facing the trueness of reality at an unsettling yet introspective rate.

Every track on this EP plays a valuable position in broadcasting how truly comfortable this band is with themselves. Call it a six staged attack, if you must. But, let it be known that the final stage “Claw Marks” is every bit a closing argument. It brings together everything in a very credits rolling manner. The most reclined of the six tracks, it also packs the most powerful punch. With repeative lyrics and merrily dreary music, there’s no denying the feeling of “it’s over, I’m letting go” that it holds. For almost the last 2 minutes, the track goes completely instrumental and picks up its pace. This is past the point of the climax, this is the part where all the pieces are reviewed and you can see the whole picture. If I’m making this EP seem cinematic, in it’s own charming way, it is. There is no flowing theme going on for it. It’s just fun and raw.

Let Go is for The Silent Years what Good News For People Who Love Bad News was for Modest Mouse. Or, even what Wincing The Night Away was for The Shins. Both of those bands house a similar sound to what The silent Years bring with this release. And, like the bands mentioned, this seems to be their “Hey, man . . . let’s nix intensive planning and just do it” album. If, and I hope they do, The Silent Years continue with this style, it could take them long and far in open relateability with listeners. After releasing 2 LPs, and, now, 2 EPs, The Silent Years have seem to find their proper stride. Now, where they walk from here is anyone’s guess and every one of their fans’ hope.

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***Note: Physical Copies available July 14th from SideCho Records. Click the Taking Drugs At The Amusement Park title for a free download of the song.

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PSY/OPSogist Brings You To The Sleep Kingdom

Posted by Scotio on July 9, 2009

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What can I say about PSY/OPSogist? I mean, he was the first unsigned artist that I reviewed. So, of course his music holds a special place for me. So, to find out that he has released a new album, of course I have to review it. It’s not a question that should even be asked. Kings Of Sleep is the title of his new work. Little did I know, that the work was very conceptualized around the title itself. You have to love concept albums done well, right?

The aptly named “K.O.S. Intro” features various movie soundbites that which talk on the topic of sleep in different perspectives starting with Hypnosis. While the soundbites play, you’re treated to a slow tribal-like musical backdrop that takes you to a dreamy state of the ancient Middle East. The intro flows perfectly into the first full song,”King Of Infinit Space.” That track possesses such a strong sense of IDM/Downtempo brilliance that it’s hard not to compare it to the likes of master knobtwisters Boards Of Canada. Which, in itself is amazing in my book. But, the fact that it was broken into pieces and the pieces reassembled by one man speaks in volumes that has yet to register on any stereo to date. With the drumbeat and the distorted guitar parts playing, you can hear their disconnection with sounding whole, yet that makes it all the more together.

To believe that the whole album would play like some strange attempt at creating a “missing BOC album” would leave you feeling the fool. PSY is more at work this time around, because, remember kiddies, sleeping isn’t a playful situation. What he does do with the precision of someone whom is Obsessive compulsive is have every song bridge into the next. Leaving no room for you feel the need to skip to the next track.

“Chariots Of The Gods” is very badass. The song would be the perfect musical score backdrop for a grand robbery scene. It houses elements of music that you’d find in spaghetti westerns, old school mob movies as well as 70’s high speed car chasing films. Sprinkling in small digital beacons to remind you that you’re not trapped inside of a Tinsel Town Time Machine. The rumbling bass guitar in the song would have any Pulp Fiction fan pulling out the Batman dance. The heavy attack of drums and cymbals that creates an illusion of gunfire is just sensational. If the Gods really bring this sort of noise when they roll through town, it would have all the people staring in awe for the music more than the sight.

On “Unusual Behavior” PSY takes things back to a more Jazz-Influenced Hip-Hop era. Of sorts. Imagine like a completely amped up version of an old A Tribe Called Quest song. I’m speaking on the vibe of the song. The song itself houses far more from Old Jazz and Blues tracks. The drums harken on old black juke joints where everyone really used to “get down with the getting down.” The distorted horns call out more as a sign of distress than a good time happening. Hmm… I guess this would be more Big Band-ish than Hip-Hop, though. Especially when considering the proceeding track, “The Lips Of God.” This song encompasses the complete structure for a sentimental/heartfelt/honest Hip-Hop track. It even has a strained vinyl sound to it. Giving it more of a Golden Era Hip-Hop appeal. The sickest part of the song kicks in around 2:12. PSY/OPSogist pulls out his inner Jay Dilla and basically dares any real emcee to NOT freestyle over it. But, the breakdown only lasts until around 2:39. Short, sweet and to the point, right?

The only flaw that I can actually find in this work would have to be the Untitled hidden track at the end. It’s a long stretch of one of those the sound of rain sleeping aids with sleep-like voices growing in clarity and volume as the song proceeds. It tends to drag on a bit too long. I get the point of it, I love the idea behind it. It’s just stretched too long. A track I absolutely love on this is “Travelers.” The guitars in the song just hold my attention and keeps me at the ready as if something is going to happen at any minute. The wavering machinegun snare hit sounds like a helicopter just teasing your ears for the first portion of the song. The steady ambient sound inside of the song gives it a cold and sterile feeling, where the guitars battle that with their organic beauty(they are acoustics). The soundbites are very well placed and enhances the overall sense of a dream going very wrong.

With Kings Of Sleep, PSY/OPSogist has proven that he is definitely a musician to be reckoned with. The album flows in and out of multiple musical fields. So much so that it’s hard to classify it as anything save for “Lo-Fi Electronic”(Though he personally chose the label of Atmospheric Headphone Music or AHM for short). Otherwise, you’d be there all day adding in labels to this work. It was well thought out, exceptionally executed and has a place for anyone into really dope music. Not to mention, he’s offering it for free as well as a special collector’s edition of only 100 CDs printed. I suggest you grab a piece of history made, and hold onto it for bragging rights. This visionary is going places.

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Riley & Morello Sweep Streets With Their New Social Club

Posted by Scotio on June 17, 2009

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I’m going to start this off being honest. I haven’t heard of The Coup, or even Boots Riley for that matter, until I found out that Tom Morello(of Rage Against The Machine fame) was doing a new group. The fact that Morello, one of the greatest guitarists of our time, was going back to the electric guitar for recording was something to rejoice over. I mean, let’s face it, The Nightwatchman wasn’t something that “everyone” could get into. Then, after finding out that Boots Riley was a “conscious” and controversial rapper, I couldn’t help but be intrigued… and sensing a weird feeling of deja vu. Street Sweeper Social Club, with it’s self-titled debut album, holds more towards Rage Against The Machine than it does Morello’s other works.

“100 Little Curses” is a display of Boots Riley’s quirky tongue-in-cheek wordplay along with Morello’s amazing finger action(get your mind out of the gutter!). On the verses, Riley politely wishes various ill-mannered hopes towards materialistic, plastic surgery loving, designer label craving, television children raising, reality-tv watching, hostile corporate takeover initiating, cocaine snorting, MTV My Super Sweet 16 funding sheeple of today(and yes, he covers all of those things inside of the chorus of the song). To say that his sentiments aren’t humourous is to say that you have a stick lodged up your butt so far that tapping on the end of what is sticking out would cause it to hit against your heart and change its beating pattern. This young man is witty and gives something that the incredible Zack De La Rocha wouldn’t: Comedy with his message. Morello, handling Bass & Lead guitar work(on all songs for the LP), gives RATM fans something that they’ve been salivating for in quite a while: new material of the same vein. His Bass work is good though isn’t as accomplished as Tim Commerford’s, but he more than makes up for that with his sensational solo on the song. Going from a heavy funk sound to a riff that makes you want to check and see if he has some relation to Hendrix.

“Clap For The Killers” comes on like a villain’s theme song. The intro to it is a head-turning segment that demands attention and sparks interest for anyone with love for stringed instrument plucking. Riley rides the instrumental workings laid down by Morello & Stanton Moore effortlessly. His flow… uhh… flows like melted butter pouring over the music. Though Stanton is a good drummer, Brad Wilk is sorely missed here. The drum work sort of plays the bench for the track. You barely notice it behind Morello & Riley. Only when Morello is holding a note do you realize that there are actually drums on the song. Not necessarily a good look, but all the other workings allow forgiveness to take place. Though, to his credit, the drums are more prominent and noticeable at the beginning of the song. Anyone who only looks to lyrics at face-value would assume that Riley is taking a “Big Ups To Crooks” within his words. Where, on the first verse, he speaks up for those whom fights the system and are being labeled “wrong” for standing up for what’s right. Then, on the second verse, he speaks on the true criminals and killers whom run the system and attacks those of misfortune to keep them under control. Finally, on his third verse, he speaks to all the so-called self-proclaimed “gangstas” aka the fake-wannabes. He verbally reminds them of who they really are and that they’ll never achieve to become who they are pretending to be.

There are some moves that don’t quite go so fluidly with the newfound group. Like the track “Shock You Again”, which comes off like a missing song from Saul Williams before him and Trent Reznor became musically connected. Granted, I am a fan of Saul’s old work, it’s just that this track gets lost in that similarity. It doesn’t quite distinguish it’s own identity. And, that’s something that this new group needs to do to kill off any and all naysayers that may and will pop up against it. The preceding track, “Somewhere In The World It’s Midnight” falls prey to the same circumstance. This time, instead of Mr. Williams, it brings strong comparisons to the obvious(Rage Against The Machine, for those who aren’t keeping up). Morello’s work is just as lovely as it always is, even incorporating a more western/bluesy riff for the verse work which probably spawned from The Nightwatchman. Riley, on the other hand, sort of comes off like a less agressive de la Rocha. His southern drawl makes it so that his delivery isn’t as intense, but his vibe strikes the same chords that Zack struck with his lyrics. Again, it’s not a bad track, it just feels more like a new song that was originally tried out with the rest of RATM and then converted over to SSSC format.

They do use Riley’s southern influence in a very productive method with the track “Promenade.” In a tempo akin to how the “move-caller” for a Square Dance “sings” out what to do next, Riley belts out his politically conscious lyrics over Morello’s simple musical structure. The chorus shifts gears and becomes something closer to Disco-Punk/Dance-Punk in fashion. It’s moving and hip swaying. If the whole song was like this, they could sneak this in under the radar and attack the commercial market. Thankfully, they aren’t playing sneak attacks, here. On “Megablast” Street Sweeper Social Club takes no prisoners. It’s either move with it or get rolled over. The power of the track is undeniable. Riley fully shows to the listeners that he is a highly skilled emcee, first and foremost. Morello makes the guitar wail like Justin Hawkins(of The Darkness fame) while having the bass bring that extra rumble in your belly reminiscent of the Peter Gunn theme with way more bad-ass attached.

Sure, there are way too open comparisons against Street Sweeper Social Club and Rage Against The Machine. If you even want they both are a four word band name and have the same number of syllables, too. They are both politically fueled. They both have Tom Morello playing an integral part of the band. But, you shouldn’t discard nor praise SSSC off of those facts alone. It’s its own animal, with its own respect to be held for or against it. With that being said, even if there isn’t another RATM album to come into fruition, let us hope that another SSSC album comes down the pipeline. Music wasn’t the same when voices like these left the mainstream. Though all the players are seasoned, they are still rookies in terms of playing together as a cohesive unit. Even with that against them, they are still well enough equipped to take it all the way to the goal line on their first try.

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Twitter Me This…

Posted by Scotio on June 15, 2009

For anyone odd enough to even be interested . . . I, too, am on the infamous site known as “Twittter” . . . you’re now allowed to shake in your boots.

But, yes, I’m on there. If, for any reason, you want to follow me . . . or state something to me in a short & brief manner, you can find me here:

http://twitter.com/Cabres

Feel free to dispute, disrupt or discuss anything you want. I’m game. Artists & fans whom stumble across my reviews, you’re more than welcome to state what you feel about it there. And, any time I drop a new review, article(yes, I can do those) or random outburst(those are coming soon to a wordpress near you) I’ll be posting a link to it there.

EDIT 2.0: I have decided to reactivate my twitter account. This time, there is no plans to sit around gossiping and gabbing at artists like some silly little fan. My “tweets” will be towards artists, news, or other events that are all media based. If it serves no purpose towards making OpinionHated more successful and my goal of becoming a professional writer more realistic, then I won’t even bother with it. So, hopefully, this ship can be steered into clearer waters.

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Little Boots Gives A Hands On Approach

Posted by Scotio on June 10, 2009

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Ever since the Revoluntionary War, there’s been a steady battle between US & Britain. Over time, it has softened dramatically from that bloody war(take that whichever way you want) to Global Capitalizing. Outside of politics, there’s been the steady tit for tat going on in the music scene between the two “World Powers”. Though they don’t necessarily diss each other, they do fight it out like rabid animals at the top of the music charts. When one act on one side of the pond takes off, the other is ready with a bullet of it’s own. Lady Gaga is currently the “it” girl in Pop music. She’s what the US has to offer. Now, meet competitor #1 from the UK. Her name is Little Boots(née Victoria Hesketh), and she has the artillery to sink Gaga’s ship down to the deepest depths of the sea in the form of her debut album Hands.

“New In Town” is the official lead single for the album, as well as the album opener. Is this a new trend? A brilliant strategy or an odd coincidence? I’m asking about having your leading single open up the album. That seems to be the thing for a lot of new pop albums coming out this year. But, I stray. The song, produced and co-written by Greg Kurstin of The Bird And The Bee, is a happy track. The premise behind the song is “You’re new in town, I’m broke, but we’re going to rock it out anyway.” We should all wish to be able to do such a thing when visiting a new location. The music is a departure from anyone strongly familiar with Bird And Bee(think more electro-pop version of their work). This song is a perfect greeter to all those infamiliar with Ms. Boots. It shows that she’s in it for the fun ride. Nothing overly complicated is shown here. Just a pure fun and early 90’s Electronic-based Pop tune. It might not register in your mind 5 years down the road, but it will get a party started… especially if you’re in the valley. Ok, Boots, you seemed to have taken the more danceable route for this first round.

Kurstin is on this album for most of the longhaul. He helps co-write the track “Stuck On Repeat,” which is produced by Hot chip’s Joe Goddard(who also co-writes the track, along with Little Boots). This track feels like a spiritual successor to Hot Chip’s last album. The beat is infectious and Boots’s vocal work is in the right zone for this type of sound. It won’t be hard to picture a bunch of girls in a convertible blasting this song until you bang your head against something hard, or featured on all the mixtapes/playlists of dance-music DJs. It’s that kind of catchy. It’s that strong on the commercial meter. You’d be prone to discard the song as rubbish until you listen to what it is completely composed of. Goddard displays his wizardry within the realm of synth music. It’s a very driven beat, and it drives you to feel like the lyrics of the song: “I can only move to the beat.” Drats, Boots! You’re in a three-way tag team with some actually TALENTED artists. This isn’t looking fair.

The trio team up again for “Meddle”. Meddle was commercially released as a single last August(of 2008), but I’m sure a lot of people still never heard the song. Goddard, with some production assistance from Kurstin, delivers Pop’s version of a Dubstep beat. To deny the influence of Dubstep on this song would be denying the fact that R. Kelly stopped actually SINGING a long time ago. Yeah, it’s that obvious. With what sounds like a combination of handclaps, fingersnaps, and digital claps the song keeps it’s pace and an underlining tempo that propels you to keep moving even when most of the beat disappears. Think of it as a song from a Musical Movie for Teens that is actually GOOD. Go ahead, wrap your head around that one. “Symmetry” featuring Philip Oakley(of The Human League fame) speaks about being the opposite/reflection of the person you’re romantically linked with. Mr. Oakley is obviously no novice when it comes to Synth-Pop. He comes in, with that scary-yet-uber-cool British singing style. You know the kind that dominated airwaves throughout the 80’s. The strangeness of it, is that with Philip’s addition to the track, you can almost envision the god-awful 1980’s video that would have been on repeat for MTV had this song came out 20-some-odd years ago. Oh, Boots, with your tricky Nostalgia Pop trick shot.

There are a few halfsteps featured here, though. Such as the track “Ghosts.” It’s a half-step, not a misstep. It sticks too strongly to that whole cabaret style in a digital format. That would heavily alienate the easy targets that this album is supposed to be aiming at. Though, this is one of the more lyrically appealing songs on the album, you can’t give the sheeple too much material to think with. Still, the pop enjoyers outside of the herd would probably take to this with ease. “Remedy” is another misstep. The song starts off with a dark synth sound that creeps up on it’s listeners. Then, just when the more sinister lovers start to rejoice as they have found a pop song of their own within this release, the chorus comes in. It pops the building bubble with an older Christina Aguilera sound. You can’t have both sides of that pie, darling. That puts you on eye leave with your enemy that you are dancing with(Lady Gaga). “No Brakes” makes up for these missteps as she displays the full force of the sound that Gaga TRIES to emulate. Hersketh’s voice sails like a sheet in the wind while the beat runs like a kid playing the track & field game with the power pad for the old 8-bit Nintendo. What would bring a slight pause for the Yanks would be when Boots stops singing and talks normally. Reminding them that she is, in fact, British.

After this entry into the tournament of Billboard charts, it’s clear to see that this former lead singer of the Dead Disco group known as Little Boots is far more equipped than Gaga was/is. Not to mention that La Roux is set to drop later this month to put the nail in that coffin and have the Brits come out with the win of Female Pop Acts for 2009. With no retaliation geared from the US branch, it sure does seem to be moving in that direction.

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Miike Snow Lights A Frozen Flame

Posted by Scotio on June 10, 2009

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Pop music seems to be making a serious comeback. With MGMT’s mega impact last year, it seems that these Pop Music Makers have been coming out of the woodworks like bugs after someone stomps on a rotting log(don’t act like I was the only one to do that as a child). Bringing their own coolness to the Pop genre with their Self-Titled LP is the trio known as Miike Snow. Yes, that’s a trio with a name that sounds like it belongs to a singular person. And, yes, that’s not a typo. There are 2 I’s in the first name(actually they are sort-of named after the Japanese director Takashi Miike). The trio consists of multi-instrumentalists Andrew Wyatt(of The A.M. & Fires Of Rome fame) and Christian Karlsson & Pontus Winnberg, also known as the Pop Producing duo Bloodshy & Avant. Of course hearing that Bloodshy & Avant are in the group would lead many to believe it’s filled with a bunch of Britney Spears rejected tracks. Oh, that is so not the case here.

Since “Animal” is the main single from the album, let’s start with that track, shall we? Oh, and not only is it their lead single, but also the leading/opening track for their LP. For the track, Wyatt sings like the adopted member of the band Genesis. Housing his vocal harmony somewhere between Phil Collins & Peter Gabriel(some may say a more “mature” Adam Levine sounding voice, to them I say “shut up”). To say the least, it’s eerily hypnotic. But, that’s not all that’s mesmerizing about this song. The trio constructed a back beat that plays like a Dub-influenced version of Dance-Punk(LCD Soundsystem, The Presets, Fujiya & Miyagi… to name a few artists of that genre). It’s hard not to sway your head side-to-side with this track pumping in your ears. Even if the lyrics doesn’t fully make sense(which seems to be a motif with this album) you still find yourself singing, or humming, along with the track. Suffice to say, their history of catchy pop tracks plays to their advantage here.

“In Search Of” is like a track that Nu-Ravers have been waiting all their lives for. Think of something along the lines of Hadouken!, but much better and more mature. There is no attack for people to be thrown around within the song, but there is a strong urgency to take to the dance floor and show off your glowstick movements under the strobe blacklights. This track contains no live instrumentation. Instead, it’s just pulse-setting synth work unleashed in it’s most impeccable form. With something as incredible as this finally revealed, you know that B&A will be getting hounded with questions from their Producees(it’s a word… even if it only exists in my world) asking why the hell have they been holding out on them. But, those bubblegum artists shouldn’t get too uptight. They would have never pulled that track off as sensationally as this trio does.

Oh, and since I did mention video game sounding music(Hadouken!, for those not keeping up), allow me to expand on that with the track “Cult Logic”. This track comes in like a super(pun intended) remix of the Super Mario theme song. If Nintendo is trying to stay in the area of “cool”, they would be wise to throw this track in their next Mario installment. Trust me, Big N, it will definitely pay off for you. To say that Mr. Wyatt hasn’t spent time with some folks of the Caribbean would HAVE to be a lie after listening to his vocal work on this piece. His melody, tone & pitch sounds like something you would expect Maxi Priest to express if he was still relevant today. This track is so well layered that just when you start to dissect the structure, you realize that you’re still only on the crust. They bring in and take out parts so fluidly that, though you notice it, you still perceive it as one cohesive image.

My personal standout track is “Silvia.” It could be how easily I can replace the name Silvia with the name of the one I hold dear, but I don’t think it’s that simple. For the first 1 minute and 10 seconds, you’re treated to a bare beat digital piano and dance synth accompanied by Wyatt’s voice slightly digitally altered(no, not Autotune. This is another type of digital filter applied to his voice). Then, after that time mark hits, in comes the rest of the beat. And, boy, does things shift. It goes from a slow and passionate tune to a pop love anthem, complete with cadence keeping snare hits. No, the track doesn’t stop there. More pieces are added in and built upon as the track continues down it’s 6 minute and 26 second mark(which makes it the longest track on the album). One sexy portion of the track is when the bridge comes in, and they move the music back to how it sounded at the start of the song. Only to, then, bring it in House music fashion so smoothly that it would make Benny Benassi blush with envy. They run Andrew’s voice through digital pitch changes from then to near the end of the track. Changing his voice to the point where it sounds like yet another synth to the music. “San Soleil” is one of the sexiest tracks I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s like a combination of Art Of Noise’s Moments in Love, the piano from Force M.D.’s Tender Love, Wyatt’s digitally filtered voice and an IDM synth. Yeah, it’s not very hard to see that they were inspired by old school R&B pop tunes for this one, here. Like all the other tracks, this one was executed remarkably. This is the track during and after a sensual session with a significant other. Don’t be surprised if some genius(and, I use that term loosely here) uses this track for such a moment in cinema.

It’s hard to deal with perfection. Equally as much when in opposition of and working with. But, there are moments when perfection is, well, perfect. It flows perfectly, it moves perfectly and it delivers perfectly. That’s what this album is. It’s pure Pop Music Perfection. Yeah, you heard that right. I said it, and I stand by it. It would be easy to declare this group this year’s MGMT, but that wouldn’t be fair. These three have had years toiling away at pop creations inside of the industry. They know what works and what doesn’t. With that, they used all of their knowledge and made sure that THIS works in every sense. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to make you dance. Just be ready for the domination of Snow during the summer of 2009. They got the cool, and they aren’t going to make you chill.

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Gene Dante Let’s His Romance For The Stage Lead Him

Posted by Scotio on May 29, 2009

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So, recently, I moved. And, in the process, I wasn’t able to check out if any new music hit the mark of things that tickled my fancy, or even something that I should be reviewing. Well, once I finally had everything set up at my new spot, I looked to find that I had the album “The Romantic Lead” by Gene Dante & The Future Starlets waiting for me. To say the least, the album seemed promising due to their single.

That single is “A Madness To His Method”. It’s a track that somehow seems like what David Bowie would be like had he grew up in today’s age and had a strong love for Indie Pop music(see: Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins, et al). Mr. Dante possess strong confidence in his delivery, evoking a style and swagger(though I’m growing to detest that word) that has seemed to all but die out of music showmanship since the 70’s. And, just like Bowie of the 70’s, Gene blurs self-sexuality identification with this track(and more tracks to come).

It’s hard not to hear Gene Dante’s former theatrical work inside of his music. Songs tend to take on life as if there should be a full cast moving around in a very animated fashion. You know that the time he spent with the Rocky Horror Picture Show crew as well as the Beauty And The Beast cast has shaped his direction greatly for what he is trying to bring forth.

“Like A Satellite” stands out to me as the most commercially accessible song. There isn’t anything that would drive the censors wild, and all the tongue-in-cheek statements are tuned towards a more mild setting. For an average run-of-the-mill listener, this track would get tremendous replay value. But, they shouldn’t expect the entire album to move as this song does. If they do, they are in for a rude awakening.

Such would be the case with the track “C Star”. The C stands for another word for a rooster or the term for the male sexual appendage. And, just in case you thought that it was only metaphorically mention and not blatantly stated then you should strap yourself in for the shock value of the chorus: “Check out my cock/ Not super long/ but it pounds like a hammer…” Yes, kiddies, this track can not be played at any Church event unless you want to get hosed down by holy water. What’s the funny part of it all is that the song has a very strong Neil Diamond sensibility to it. Coming across like a track that you’d find a performer doing on the Vegas strip. With homage paying lines like “We like girls in Velvet Underground” you know Dante is speaking more for an Andy Warhol tribute than he is for Lou Reed.

One other interesting piece is the Dresden Dolls-esque, “Brian, My Darling.” If you don’t catch the reference in the mentioning of Dresden Dolls and the song title, then you’re not familiar with that band at all. Because, you missed the fact that one half of that group is the male member Brian Viglione. The dynamically brilliant cross-dressing drummer receives his first love letter written in musical form and offered for public release, here. Yes, this song is about Brian Viglione. No, Him & Dante aren’t a couple, but he is paying him a tremendous tribute with this track. It does ring hard as if it is Dresden Dolls + more band members. Not only is this a track for Mr. Viglione, but also a defense, sort of, on the band’s behalf & comforting word to them(Brian more specifically). Due to the fact that, though many people love the duo, a lot of others criticize them unnecessarily. So, now, not only has Brian been honored to have been a studio member of Nine Inch Nails and received his own fame’s claim with Dresden Dolls, now he has a track to play whenever he doubts himself. Shouldn’t we all be so lucky by something so special? The album closer “To A God Unknown” brings this whole show to a close. And, yes, folks, this album is every bit of a show as anything you can see on Broadway. This song is a track of heartbreak. One of a heartbroken person whom has become so shattered that they have to re-evaluate their relationship with God. We’ve all hit such points where we question not only ourselves, but our place in the universe . . . especially after a destructive end to something held high in our hearts. The brilliant addition of asking yourself(the listener/singer)  “Are you Pavlov’s dog?” showcases not only Gene’s intelligence, but also his application of said intelligence with such a small line/question.(Note: Those not known to what that means, I advise you to… Wikipedia that shat!)

The Future Starlets led by Gene Dante is a band with a promising future. This album does have it’s low points and it’s questionable moments. Like the track “Purity Of Intention” which plays out like a some strange mixture of the stage show Grease and a song from Eagles Of Death Metal. Also, the song “The Starlet Hits The Wall” starts off with such a 70’s funk influence, leading the listener into excited anticipation with what the band could do with the song. Only to find that it changes up; switching between a Dub-styled melody and a simple Rock N Roll harmony. Those songs aren’t fully BAD, but it would have felt better if they really went for it. They seem to have some interesting ideas that rested in the safe bet zone. Sometimes the way to get the best results is to let it all ride on red. Though they did instead decided to spread their bet around in hopes of a better cash out, they have somewhat achieved their goal. So, Gene Dante can rejoice in the fact that he will be taking the stage once more, and probably even more often than before. As the name of his backing band states, these people are all Future starlets in the making.

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Current Performance Dates Are As Followed:

06/09 Boston, MA @ Pridelights at BCA
07/17 Boston, MA @ Oliver’s
07/25 Boston, MA @ Provincetown Rocks! Festival

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs Take The Offensive With It’s Blitz!

Posted by Scotio on March 12, 2009

its-blitzStop me if you heard this one before: A nerd, a goth & a fashionista walk into a bar. They set up to play some songs, and end up having the whole bar wanting to be social misfits. You heard that one already? Well, I’m sure you’d have to had either lived on another planet or under the Earth’s surface to not have heard of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs by now. With their new album It’s Blitz! they unleash a lot of familiar and a bunch of new. Karen O, Nick Zinner & Brian Chase prove to the critics and fans that their once every three years LP output is more than enough to solidify their position in someone’s future Hall Of Fame.

To start off, let’s talk about the lead single, “Zero.” With Mr. Zinner’s guitars distorted and strumming along to the pulse of the synth makes heads bob like birds on the roost. Mr. Chase no longer plays the role as the third wheel in the band. His cadence is more than up to par, and his hi-hat hits draws the attention of anyone in the mood to boogie on down. Ms. O’s lyrics are the anthem for all those original hipsters who were hip to the YYYs before the media frenzy caught onto them. Letting all the Zeros out there know that they feel the same way. The song seems more like a statement of self expression in regards to their strange climb of fame. The weirdos & company totally have a track to cut a rug with, now. But, don’t be alarmed if the sheep follows them to the dance floor.

“Soft Shock” is even stronger in the force that is Synth-Pop. If not for nothing else but to see them perform all the synth work, I’d love to see this track done live. It’s hard to say this, but it seems that Karen O is the one playing the sidekick to this track. The work that Zinner & Chase put into the production of the track is just enticing. Brian keeps up with Nick’s amazing instrumental work. I’m sure Sitek’s production direction helped greatly in the making of it, as well. Wait, allow me to clarify. I, by no means, am trying to imply that Karen O’s work on this piece is minuscule & meaningless. It’s just that her vocals stood out so much more in their traditional style. In this formula, her voice seems, well, comfortable. It’s like it belonged here all along. So, for the more accustomed fan, it’s a bit throwing for the production to be so full and lively.

“Dull Life” comes off with a strange vibe. No, it’s not a bad track. It just sounds like something from the Throw Your Bones work. Whereas everything else is so strong and “different” for the band, that familiar sound seems to be holding them a bit back. No, not in general, but for this album. Though I love that sound, it isn’t well suited amongst these other vibrantly filled up pieces. For “Dragon Queen,” Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio(Sitek’s main band) sings background for the entire song. The sound of the track comes off like something from the time of Disco. In fact, if you had a time machine, went back, and played them this track I’m sure they wouldn’t think that it was anything different from what they were already jamming to. So, don’t be surprised if James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem falls in love with this song and enforces it to be played everywhere he goes.

My official love track of this offering is “Hysteric.” It’s a YYYs take on Dream Pop. And, dreamy it is. Ms. O’s voice is soft & delicate on this track. She seems to be singing from her heart rather than her sass. “The cinders, the cinders/ They light the path/ Of these strange steps/ Take Us Back, Take Us Back/ Flow sweetly, hang heavy/ You suddenly complete me.” The lyrics indicate a couple that was once on the brink of destruction, only to allow that destruction to bring them back together and fall back in love. Zinner’s atmospheric instrumentation is epic in it’s lo-fi sort of way. It plays like the soundtrack to a dream. Chase’s drum work goes back to it’s original position within the band’s dynamic. But, it works even better than it did in the original structure. Rarely changing, but constantly pushing you to keep going. The ending with the tambourine & whistling is reminiscent of Old School Soul music.

What’s familiar is their producer of choice(the highly in demand Dave Sitek) and their brass outcast attitude. What’s new is their Dance-Punk gyrations, their symphony string additions, their acoustic implementations and their openly honest confessions. If you acquire their Deluxe Edition, you’ll be treated to Acoustic versions of some selected tracks from the album. Replacing all the electronic work with acoustic guitars and brilliant string performances. This three piece have showed that they can roll with the movement of musical shifts without selling their souls or cashing in their hearts. They were once a band paying hommage to a generation that they were only eye twinkles when it was alive. They didn’t try to emulate that sound, but rather put their own unique spin on it. With this album’s sound being updated to the generation that succeeds their original sound’s influences, the same has taken place. A nod to the dancing pop era, but in the fashion of the three strangies from Brooklyn. If they keep it up, they’ll always be behind . . . and since Retro is always the “new” new, they’ll always be ahead.

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The Spores Make Doom Popular

Posted by Scotio on March 2, 2009

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When you hear the words Doom & Pop put together for an album title, you don’t quite know exactly what to expect. The Spores released an album with just that name Doom Pop. It’s not something that you hear everyday. Your mind gets slightly confused at such a combination. Everything from Metal with Britney Spears lyrics to Timbaland music with Death Growls featured over top run through your mind. Yet, The Spores didn’t do any of that. What they did do was create an album that embodies everything(damn near literally) that folks of mainstream media loved in the mid to late 90’s. Every song, they seem to replicate the same magic of bands from “Generation NeXt.”

“Ghost Town” finds the LA-based threesome giving us some awesome Pop Alternative that has been missing from the scene since Garbage went AWOL. Molly McGuire voice goes into Shirley Manson mode even better than Ms. Manson did on Garbage’s last LP. Greg Biribauer’s guitar work on this song would make Butch Vig blush. Chris Penny’s drum work is spot on for Pop Rock of the last decade. It keeps your foot tapping and your head swaying. McGuire herself brings the bass on with such sass that it’s impossible to not imagine the woman wearing that “I own you” face. The cat & mouse game of two people wanting(or, just lusting) each other is told on this track. Never able to match each other, the two parties are forced to contradict one another. It’s a great track.

Completely switching gears, the band’s song “That’s My Name,” gives one of the best NIN emulations that I’ve ever heard. But, the thing is, it’s not a NIN cover. No, not at all. It’s a track owned completely by The Spores(no, Reznor doesn’t even know this song exist, folks). Yet, the attention to detail and the all out ballsy display of Alternative Industrial will have you scratching your head on this one. Not for being lost, but for feeling like you know it already. Familiarity, in this case, is a damned good thing. You’re instantly drawn in like you’re greeting an old friend that you enjoyed spending time with. McGuire, Biribauer & Penny go strong for this track. The breakdowns are top-notch. Molly doesn’t ever yell or scream on the song. Instead, she plays it smart like Free Dominguez of Kidneythieves. She keeps her voice strong and steady. Letting the lyrics & the music get the attention that they deserve(even though the first & second verses are exactly the same). Greg takes on the role of Robin Finck, and does a flooring performance. Penny seems to be the Dave Grohl from With Teeth sessions. To say that this song is my favorite track on this album would be an understatement. This is my favorite track not only from this LP, but my official track of the month. If this three piece decided to go completely industrial(which from this display shows that they could with great ease), this song could have done for them what Closer did for Nine Inch Nails. Yes, it’s that powerful. At least I feel so . . . “In My Head.”

“Secret Weapon” comes on with a deceptive electronic intro. The collusion of sounds that follows after takes you like a storm. This track sounds like something missing from the Spawn OST for the live action movie(the soundtrack was kickass, and you know it!). With electronic alterations lacing nearly every instrument involved in this recording, you don’t know where to classify this. Still, you know that if 90’s MTV got their hands on this, it would be in heavy rotation on their video line-up. This is best suited as a sort of poppier companion to Filter+The Crystal Method’s (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do. Yes, The Spores can trip . . . like you do.

To show that they aren’t all about explicit electronic usage, “Do The Void” comes in with a Jimmy Eat World(circa Clarity/Bleed American) vibe. It’s that Pop Alternative with Punk Influences that was formerly known as “Emo”(which was before it was redubbed in ’05, kiddies). Even the lyrics encompasses the same mentality of that era: “Never should have ever thought of nothing at all.” That displays the whole “ehhh . . . so what” attitude that started then and still lives on to this day.

When they move over to the sexual side of electronic, they unleash “Shadyglade.” They pull off something similar to old school Tricky/Massive Attack . . . or, to a less popular extent, Lamb with this song. Biribauer’s mini solo after the choruses has an intoxicating exotic flare that makes the song that much more memorable. The track is almost entirely electronic save for a very small number of elements. It’s as seductive as it is digital. “The Spinning Wheel” is the complete opposite of this. It’s the Yin to Shadyglade’s Yang. Pulling out the acoustic guitar, the song is equally as intimate, but on a completely different level. A tale of love for someone who is trying to let go of yester-longing, only to find out that it’s still haunting. This is for all the Jewel & Fiona Apple fans.

This album has everything anyone who loved watching MTV before running off to school would adore. This plays like a sensational mixtape of various styles and acts . . . yet, it’s all from one band. And, mainly the work of just Molly & Greg outside of drumming, at that. The comparisons of the other bands are FAR from anything to be given as disrespect to the bands or towards The Spores. Doom Pop, as it seems, isn’t anything new . . . but rather something cool that is lost today. What does hurt is the fact that the band has split . . . or is just on hiatus. Hopefully, they’ll work out their differences and continue to bring their awesomeness to the world. The album is heavily underappreciated for what it does, and what it could do. With just one slip of major play, McGuire & Biribauer could have(and still can) end up resurrectors to an era recently passed but so wrongly deceased.

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1090 Club Proves Darwin Right With Natural Selection

Posted by Scotio on March 2, 2009

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1090 Club is a dynamic young band from Montana. I know. Montana of all places. That’s a state that doesn’t pop into your mind when you’re thinking music. Especially when you’re thinking creative and remarkable indie music. Having already released one album via SideCho Records(Shipwrecked On Shores, for those wondering), this four piece comin’ straight outta Billings(A little quirky humor) sets the scene ablaze with their sophomore offering Natural Selection. College radio lovers should be prepared for this application of Darwinism.

Right out of the gate, the lads set the bar high with “ITSON.” Yes, it’s all one word. The track is infections and furious(for the standards of the Indie Scene). The foursome settles all questions with this welcoming address. Megan Dibble beautifully applies a string section for the song that brings in a brooding and moody presence that battles against the uptempo drumming of Steve Serfazo and the nonchalant tenor of Mike Galt’s voice. At times Sean Lynch’s guitar work best with Megan’s work, and at other times it completely contradicts it. Going from simple and assisting to distorted and attention grabbing. With ambiguous lyrics, it’s not hard to apply the concept to anything from relationships to politics. Parents of intellectual students attending a university, be warned: they now have a new theme song with this cut.

For “Conversations,” Megan takes up the helm at providing the lead vocals, with Mike offering her backing assistance. 1090 throws in some soft lo-fi electronic sound for this song, which would initially confuse the listener. Yet, allow it to play to the chorus, and you begin to feel akin to the song. Specifically if you’ve ever been in a relationship where things start to wear thin. Without getting heavy into details, you can feel the caged frustration and defeatism that has overcome the narrator. With lyrics such as “It has always amazed me, the type of things that you will do/ To get what it is you want done” you know that the end is nigh.

The track “Claire,” is tragic song. Not in the sense of it sounding bad(though it does sound like Mike recorded his vocals at home), it’s for the content. The subject matter being that of telling of someone whom is no longer walking the earth. At first, you start to discredit the song due to the strange mixing of Mike’s vocals. Yet, keep it going for a bit more and it gives a new realm to the whole song. Allowing it to become something more personal and not some studio concoction. The thing that which pushed away ends up drawing one in closer, in the end. Another track that has such strange vocal mixing is the proceeding track “Hearts.” Though, where “Claire” stood out for it, this seems to slightly hold back “Hearts.” Which is a shame due to the fact that the music for the song is so alluring.

“Happiness” is the most true-to-form Indie song out of the whole bunch. Bringing such a powerful sense of DIY, you’re almost tempted to believe that the track is a live performance featured at some house party event. It’s one of the most straight forward tracks on the album. Telling the tale of a love gone wrong, but still in action. It makes the situation uneasy and the narrator holds fast to disturbed disappointment in the other as strongly as they hold onto the love. A great song, and sure to be played by those annoyed by the ones they love. “Do (An Act),” the last song on the ten track release, escorts listeners out just as brilliantly as they welcomed them in. Megan takes to plucking the strings on her violin for this song. It’s a small little thing that adds such a huge element to the song. It, to me, steals the show for the release(I love little details). There’s one small lyric that stands out the most to me: “Archenemies align.” It’s seems like the best analogy I’ve ever heard of someone looking at two people involved with each other.

Anyone whom saw their set up and believed them to be another form of The Fray will be forced to reset their views after hearing this album. Those unfamiliar with the group and are a part of that “College Indie Radio” listening coalition needs to perk up their ears to tune in for these musicians. They aren’t built for mainstream. It’s true. It’s not harsh, it’s honesty. And, honestly, they’ll find much more success with a dedicated fanbase willing to snatch up tickets whenever they come to their town. That’s the type of people that these Montana natives will attract. Maybe growing up on the open range allowed them to flourish their creativity just as widely. Montana should be proud.

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