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Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

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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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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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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Dead Leaf Echo’s Fire Is Anything But Pale

Posted by Scotio on February 19, 2009

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It’s been a while. I seem to get bombarded by real life and not enough time to actually do what I want. What I want to do is write. So, I’m taking this time out to jot down some words that forms a review for a band I’ve been asked to take a gander at. Dead Leaf Echo is the name of the band, and the album I was offered to review was their EP Pale Fire. I can’t express how much of a joy it is to be able to review such delightful record from an obviously talent trio. So, right off top, I’d like to send thanks to LG(lead singer, guitarist) for giving the opportunity, and apologize for the lengthy delay that passed from the sending to the actual posted review. In all honesty, it was due to procrastination and, then, lengthy listening from surprised enjoyment.

With only six(6) tracks on this EP, it’s not exactly epic in length. But, what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in content. All the songs on this mini-album are sensational combinations of Post-Rock, Indie Rock & Shoegazing. Needless to say, I’m a well-rounded fan of the three(3) mentioned genres(or subgenres if you’re that much of a stickler). Almost every song here is atmospheric and sweeping. But, none moreso than the title track “Pale Fire.” Mixed by the unsung legend Ulrich Schnauss, the brooklyn band delivers something so true to the staple of shoegazing that you’re tempted to see if they are American relatives of the Shoegazing posterband My Bloody Valentine. It’s not only the best track, but also the lengthiest. Which, due to it’s captivating sound, works in its favor. LG croons on the track like he was Kevin Shield’s star pupil. But, there is no imitation or duplication involved in this performance. It’s such an inspiring display that if someone told you it was a tribute to the band, you’d be hard to contest it. What’s brilliant is that Liza(Keyboardist) sings background right along with LG. It adds to the sensation of the track. That, coupled with the air-like echoed effect on LG’s vocals, is just enough to do you in and take you under. The only one that could have done an equally impressive mixing job that Schnauss performed would be the remarkable Alan Moulder.

“Warm Body” is a great way to introduce the EP. It plays only for under two(2) minutes. But, it leads perfectly into “Thought Talk.” Now, this song stands out strongly. It’s not so much as shoegazing as it is stuck somewhere between New Wave & Dream Pop with just a soft hint of Psychedelia. But, wherever that actual location is, you’re right there with it like its sidekick while you listen. The drum work done on this is sex. The cadence that it keeps is damn near orgasmic. Easily, this should be a crowd favorite at live performances. The wicked part is for about fifty(50) seconds, the tempo kicks up and you can hear the band members lose themselves in their performance. When played in homes, it should come with a warning to not ignite your lighters for an encore . . . just press repeat/rewind.

Another strong nod to 80’s rock is “Reflex Motion.” It isn’t necessarily pop, and it isn’t completely gothic/gloomy. But, it’s equal parts of both. Back in a time when Robert Smith lead the goth army, this track would have caught the attention of every single soldier in said army. Outside of the not-so subtle The Cure comparison, there’s also a similar taste of Bauhaus resting inside the song. There isn’t tons of complexity in this track, but there is a large degree of effects pedal knobbing going on while the guitars are being strummed. Mike’s bass work for this track is flat-out awesome. It’s a simple and slow hypnotic groove that keeps you enveloped from the first second to the last. Being the final track on the record, I’m left to utter out “this is how you close a record! take heed people!” And, I meant every syllable said while in that room by my lonesome.

“Tears” and “Cry The Sea” seem to work hand in hand. Played back to back from one another, they go together like siblings. On “Cry The Sea,” LG sings like master of ceremony of your dying day. Interestingly enough, when the verse aren’t in play, the track is very much uptempo enough to have the audience swinging their raven-black hair. On “Tears,” they unleash another Loveless moment, but with easier to decipher lyrics. This time, Mic Controller LG sounds like a strange blend of Thom Yorke singing Shoegazing. Yeah, it works. Odd, I know, but it does. No, his voice isn’t something a dead ringer for Mr. Yorke, but his rhythm & harmony is similar to some work that you’ve heard from Radiohead.

This Brooklyn band is one for the books. They don’t disturb or diminish those whom have influenced their style. They live it. They breathe it. And, all they’re asking for is for you to take a few moments out of your life and take a ride with them. Me, personally, I greatly enjoyed the journey, and I can’t wait for their next release to hop back in that car. This three piece group(four if you include their live guitarist Ann B.) balance each other out better than most. Only two other three piece bands created after the new millenium offer such great chemistry: Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Autolux. And, like those other two, it wouldn’t be hard to find out that Dead Leaf Echo obtains a strong cult fan following in a few years. Hell, this record I’m reviewing is currently out of print for the second time, outside of a few copies left on two specific sites. So, that says something in terms of people enjoying their work(it is, however, easily available digitally). After spending a great deal of time listening to their work, I’m proud to say that they’ve obtain a new member of that cult. So, LG, if you’re reading this, I’d be more than pleased to get my fingers around a physical pressing of your releases. My collection looks incomplete without it. Fans of the aforementioned bands(or just fans of the Goth & Shoegazing movement of the 80’s), mark my words, you have some new Leuteniants to lead you through these troubled times.

P.S. They have a new album titled Truth set to be released April 4th.

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Anthony Green & Colin Frangicetto Reinvent Avalon

Posted by Scotio on February 13, 2009

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Anthony Green. Here’s a name that is well known in the Indie Alternative Rock circle. Being the lead singer/co-founder of Circa Survive, former/original lead singer of Saosin, Co-Lead singer for experimental band The Sound Of Animals Fighting and being featured on a growing number of tracks for various bands . . . it’s hard not to have heard of the guy. Last August, he released his first solo effort, with assistance from the band Good Old War, titled Avalon. It was an predominately acoustic collection of songs written from a span of teen years to right before recording. His Circa Survive Bandmate/Co-Founder Colin Frangicetto turned around and remixed tracks off of the album. No, not a few, but the entire album.

Colin breathes new life into the songs that Anthony birthed. All have new signs of electronic elements added to them; some obvious, some not so much. The new formed songs take off running with such spectacular sounding tweaks that it’s like it’s a whole new album. What’s astonishing about the remixes is that Colin played all the instruments. No, I’m not talking about created loops and turned them off and on. Instead, he played all the instumental pieces all the way through. Part by part. So, there’s no loops. It’s like a live band assembled to create that sound. That’s something to brag on by itself. There are some pieces that he kept in the tracks, though(either in their original spot, or rearranged them). But, there’s more to hold your head up about, Colin & Anthony.

There are several standout tracks for this remix album. The entire thing is wonderful, but some are just beyond. I’ll list them in random order. When “She Loves Me So” comes on, you realize that this isn’t the folksy album that you took an original liking towards. The electronic hums and bleeps fit perfectly with the heavy bass kick and simple snare tap underneath Anthony’s worried lyrics. The new backing track offers a subtle sway to the moment of the track, which is contradicted by the claps and slaps of the chorus. Yet, it works together like Yin Yangs. “Babygirl” has an brief electronic introduction that slightly resembles 80’s pop tracks. The guitar played is from the original song, yet it feels so new and refreshed with this new beat. It almost sounds like something that should be played at an island resort. It’s hard not to imagine an extra air of confidence that the new form offers to the confessing lyrics. For those that dedicated the original to their beloveds, they’ll be able to two step and bob for this new dedication.

“Slowing Down(A Long Time Coming)” is my personal favorite song on this release. The reverse tracked sound did me in the moment the song came on. The electronic “chirp’ just makes the song beautiful. For the verses, Colin distorted Anthony’s vocals, making him sound like he’s behind a screen of static or just singing in a really crappy quality mic. It, actually, gives the track that much more emotion. The song itself speaks on wanting to part not because you don’t love the person, but because you are afraid that they’ll fall away from you due to your disagreements. Though the lyrics for the first and second verses are nearly identical, they still speaks so loud and voluminous. Even the effects on the guitar at the beginning gives off such a lonely and isolated tone. I’ve listened to this track for a number of times that only iTunes can give away. Let’s just say, it’s top notch, in my book. My second favorite track(and the favorite of my misses) is “Miracle Sun.” This track is the audio embodiment reaching out to someone. To sit there and call someone/thing your Miracle Sun is a dynamically bold statement. The Synths added in, for some reason, gives it a dawning morning feel. The slight echoed/delayed effect added to the guitar on the chorus brings out more isolation from the moment. The line “Where do you go when it gets dark?/And is there room for me there?” is the boldest testament to wanting something brighter than your norm.

The song that Colin couldn’t wait to get his hands on was “Califone.” His remix is beautifully sad. Not in the “bad” sense of sad. With the track nestled comfortably between “Slowing Down” & “Miracle Sun,” it gives off the idea that a Tri-Fecta has occured in the middle of this album. The computerized digital bleeps that sound like they are running up and down an old Sci-Fi movie’s circuit board does strange wonders to the verses. During the verses the electric guitar sings a swan song, whereas, switching gears for the chorus, it moves into an anthemic instrument for a drifter. The album closer “Ripped Apart” is epic. There isn’t a lot inside of it, but the electronic bass drum, synthesized keyboard and ambience make it feel omnious. Then, the chorus kicks in, and you’re treated to some almost Lo-Fi Electronic Dance music. Then, it goes back to being as serious as the “Dumn Dumn” from Law & Order. It’s a two-sided coin, and you’ll want it to keep flipping.

This is really a must have for Circa Survive fans. Not only for the fact that it’s two members of the band that ended up “collaborating” on this, but it’s the two founding members of the band. Plus, the friggin’ thing is actually really good. It makes you wonder what would come about if the two decide that, after the next Circa album, they wanted to pair up and do a lo-fi electronic album together. I, for one, would totally welcome the idea after hearing this experiment. This remix is as much of Colin’s as it is Anthony’s. That’s why Anthony put a Plus sign(see: “+”) instead of “Remixed by” on the actual album. The original album was pretty nifty. The remix is a collectible. No, literally. There are only going to be 1000 of them(and, yes, I have one) issued along with the Vinyl pressing of the original album. My only boggle with the physical CD was that it didn’t come in a “dressed” case. A simple white sleeve with Mr. Green & Mr. Frangicetto’s John Hancocks on it, and the number out of 1000 that I own. That kind of left me feeling sad, as when the package showed up, I deleted my download that you get when you buy the album. Sadly, that included the art files from the download(If anyone out there has all the individual art/production credit files, I’d feel most obliged if you could toss them my way). I implore you all to support this. You’ll want to own it legitimately. Not to mention that Anthony & the Circa boys are pretty stand-up guys. They totally release material to help support some causes that are close to their hearts. Why not back up someone like that?

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Robotanists Are Ready To Set New Assembly Standards

Posted by Scotio on October 11, 2008

I’ve never seen the movie Blood And Chocolate. I know, I know. But, I didn’t want to spend money on going to see it in the theaters. Then, it hasn’t come on a Premium Cable channel, yet. I mean, after the sadness that was The Covenant, I didn’t trust any movies which tried to gain promotion from the lovely occult series that is titled Underworld(a personal favorite of mine). I know you’re wondering what that has to do with anything. Well, it has everything to do with this review. See, the movie might be visually unknown to me, but I’ve heard the soundtrack. And, I will say that I was impressed by the covers that were featured on that album. One of the standout tracks from it was “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by the band known as Philistine. Well, Philistine never released an album. What they did was change their name to Robotanists(yeah, now you’re getting it). And, Robotanists have finally released their studio debut, Close Down The Woods. It’s an EP, but it’s enough to get the mouth wet with flavor.

Only seven (7) songs/almost thirty-seven (37) minutes long, it’s not something of grand proportions. But, it is filled with stuff that can tickle your fancy like you’re trying to get a Tickle Me Doll modeled after you. The opener track is “Wait A Minute Here.” This was the second song that I’ve heard from this act(first being the Joy Division cover). I’ve heard this song many months ago. Still, it brings such a strong longing sense that it’s hard to properly compare it to something else. The simplicity of it adds such an epic feeling to the song. You might ask how is such possible. It’s simple, really, the fact that it feels so bare bones is how it fuels the “just out of reach” sensation of the song that the lyrics bring. Vocally, Sarah(lead vocalist) is amazing. The first half of the song, it sounds like she’s singing in the shower with the water off. Alone. Thinking about the muse of the song. Either that, or inside of an empty building strolling the halls while you listen to her from the other end. I can’t tell you how many music video ideas I had swimming around in my head when I heard this song(and still do every time I hear it). Daniel(lead guitarist)’s finger work is nothing to downplay in the least bit. He’s not merely strumming an acoustic guitar, he’s plucking at you’re heart’s attention while Sarah holds your head in a submission maneuver. If you’re not captivated by this song, then I don’t know how you can ever claim to have been in love and possess a heart.

The next song is “Subtlety Is Underrated”. Now, I’ll admit, I was not expecting this as a follow-up after the majesty that is “Wait A Minute Here.” It’s not like it’s bad. No, it’s not. It’s just completely unexpected. The band seem to call on their inner Beatles meets Beach Boys. The song harbors all the same sense of bliss and joy with lyrics that run deeper than it’s easily accessible pop soundscape leaves you to believe as the aforementioned bands. Again, on this song, Sarah’s voice soars. She could have played it safe and merely sang in cadence over the beat, but what would that have done? Nothing but made it another cheesy pop tune. Her timeless voice is the venom that takes you under after you’ve let your guard down from the music underneath it. She sings from a place that isn’t just lost in most singers of today, it’s become completely uncharted and only the brave dare to venture there. Granted, it’s good, but I would have liked to have a full LP so that it could have a better bridge that closes the gap between Tracks 1 & 2.

Following that is the title track of this release “Close Down The Woods.” This song contains more jazz than any other. It sounds like something that you’d end up listening to in the car of your older uncle that thinks he’s still too cool, but sometimes he does offer a speck of coolness from time to time. Though you’d never tell him that, you do acknowledge that to yourself. This would be one of those moments if he pulled this song out. It’s mellow, soothing, smooth, and melodic. Again, they go back to a more minimal approach, and again it works. Robotanists use Sarah’s special weapon(her voice) in every amazing way imaginable. It becomes it’s own instrument at one part of the song. Where other vocalists would just move on through or over the music, she moves with it . . . sometimes propelling it. When the bridge at the end comes in, it’s beyond breathtaking how she has a few different layers of her voice going off at once and they never clash. It all goes together like finely tuned instruments in the San Francisco Symphony. But, all the glory isn’t Sarah’s alone, the music the band provides makes her voice that much more intoxicating . . . that much more alluring . . . and that much more enticing.

Switching gears, again, the band moves into the song “Slow Motion.” No, there isn’t anything slow about this. They mix up the feeling of Six Pence None The Richer and The Cranberries to create a much more rich and flavoring offering on this song. It would be a shame to group this band with another Teen Movie, be it gothic or outright romance. But, truth be told, this does sound like it would be the lead single of a new romantic movie. Young lovers, if you want to find that perfect song to cap off your date with and pretty much seal the deal . . . this is it. This is the song you play. The band pulls out more soundscape for this one. Preston(drummer) shows us what he’s been hiding almost for the whole disc. His timing is perfect. His tempo is excellent. His execution is one for the books, here. It’s not like there’s something new or inventive that he’s doing with his drumset. It’s that it provides the perfect backbone for the whole song. That’s what is needed of the drummer for most times. And, that is what Mr. Phillips does. Yes, Sarah is mesmerizing, here. But, that’s nothing new. Not to downplay her at all. She leaps to heights that you don’t hear female vocalists aim in either Indie Rock or even R&B much in today’s music.

On “Tasteless,” Daniel, Preston & Keith(bassist) set the tone for what appears to be a missing James Bond theme song. Primarily with Daniel showing off all the tricks of the guitar trade that he was sure to have learned watching those movies. Any fans of the highly famous Agent 007 know that the theme songs are usually just as monumental as the movies they are theming. And the music of this track is big. Broadway big, baby. With such a high standard set by the band, you know that Ms. Sarah Ellquist has to match their magic. Matches it she does. To be fair and honest, I haven’t heard a female belt out such powerful blasts on a studio song since the mid-90’s. Yes, I know that some of the current artists can sing with such passion and intensity, but you rarely seem them performing such on their studio records. This band doesn’t play for the radio, they play for the love of the music. And, all music lovers should shun themselves if they read this article and don’t rush to this band immediately. The band also has a cover of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” featured as a bonus track on their EP. Closing it in as the Seventh and final track. They, humorously title their version “I Don’t Want To Know What Love Is.” It’s a good cover. Is it as good as their Joy Division cover . . . hard to compare. I would say no, but Daniel’s brilliant guitar performance allows it to leap up a few notches.

This band is brilliant. This EP is awesome. Seriously, it is. The ONLY problem I have with it is the lack of tracks and length. I know, it’s an EP, but I’d really love for it to have been an LP. That way, I could hear them drift in their range from song to song. The EP properly demonstrates what this group is capable of. But, you get the feeling that they are holding back, like a boxer stunning you with his speed and has yet to show you the true power they have in their punch. With the fact that this EP hits you hard, that simile in the previous sentence speaks volumes. Trust me. It’s been a long time coming for this band’s studio debut. I’m sure it’s going to be a long time running for their musical career if they continue to move from this point forward.

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Ki:Theory Snaps Hearts Like Brittle Branches

Posted by Scotio on September 28, 2008

As most know, I’m a fan of many different genres of music. I can’t call any particular genre my favorite, because each one holds a special point and placement in how I view music in an overall fashion. One thing I do always love is experimentation. Experimental music is usually music that falls into the realm as uneasy to classify in one category. Ki:Theory’s music is just that(Pronounced “Key” like in Kilo). His debut EP Brittle Branches isn’t all over the place, but it houses a wide array of various genre sounds to the point where you can’t quite call it anyone one thing(Note: Ki:Theory was originally a Post-Grunge band who released a self-titled LP. The band disbanded, but lives on through one member whom dramatically changed the sound to what it is now).

I first came across Ki:Theory while looking over the musical discography of UNKLE(or traditional typeset as U.N.K.L.E.). I noticed a remix from the act, and was curious to take a peek at it. I ventured towards the myspace of the act, and was pleasantly surprised at the remix to the point that I was curious of the original music that was featured there. Sadly, the first song I heard on there was “Holiday Heart.”  Now, don’t get me mistaken, I’m not saying sadly because the song sucked. Quite the contrary, it was so good that I played the song three times on the myspace player. Which, in itself, is a great feat. From the keyboard intro that sounded like it should belong to some little kid, I was hooked. Then, the distorted vocals kicked in. At that point, I was addicted. By the time the chorus kicked in, I was salivating from my new addiction. From the childish electric organ sound on the keyboard, to the sporatic handclaps, to the constant rapid strumming of the guitar . . . I can do this all day, people. The song is just marvelous. Perhaps the most soul stirring moment of the song is when the chorus of voices come in. Seemingly composed of one woman’s vocals recorded multiple times to give it a child-like quality. The drum track is as funky as drums that would be featured on the legendary rap group The Roots. It’s hard not to get bothered after hearing this song. Bothered that more people haven’t even heard of this guy. But, with his remixes of Queens Of The Stone Age, the aforementioned UNKLE, Sasha, and his new remix of Ladytron floating around, I’m sure the buzz of him should be growing more and more each day.

The opening song of the EP “Kiss With Fists,” is a very appropriate way of opening up an album. The song starts off rather simple and delightful, even though the lyrics of the song are on the lonely side of the tracks. Housing a Hip-Hop drum pattern, the song has a great vibe to it musically. The addition of the musicbox sound, with the rumblings of a bass guitar, make for a magical moment with the song. By the time the song gets to the part where Ki repeats the line “I just thought you should know,” you should be too far in to even want out. Something that I found pleasantly interesting is that some music tracks from this song are featured on his personal website on the little mechanical bird, allowing you to play around with starting and stopping the drums, music box, and synth portions of the song.

On the song “Lately,” you’re treated to a beautiful confession that Ki gives to his woman. You almost have to be thankful for brilliant musicians being trapped in some type of emotional turmoil and their knack for releasing/relieving their stress through music. In one form or another, the entire EP deals with love. The good, the bad, and the loneliness that results from it. Being that the EP is only six (6) songs long that play at a total time of 4 seconds shy of 26 minutes, you aren’t treated to much length in this release. That, honestly, would be my only complaint with this music. Right when you get into it, it’s over. But, it’s a great showcase of what he can and will do whenever he finally decides to release a full length album. I, for one, will be one of the first people to get the album upon it’s release.

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Alt-Ctrl-Sleep Resets Your Heart’s Cluttered Hard Drive

Posted by Scotio on August 26, 2008

I have a soft spot for these Girl-Guy bands where the 2 main/prominent members are in a relationship together. Something about the way that they are able to make beautiful music together is just splendid, to me(pun intended). One of the bands that actually got me into the growing underground trend is the mesmerizing Alt-Ctrl-Sleep. No, it’s not a computer button combination. There’s nothing mechanical about their music. It’s majestic and enchanting in a way that has become sparingly rare in the last few years. Their self-titled album released in February of 2008 was one that received little buzz and even less marketable attention. Which, honestly, is purely criminal in every sense of the words “creative” and “artistic.”

“Take Care” opens the album and on a note that transcends both time and emotion. Joe Diaco soothingly serenades both the listener and his equally musically incline wife & bandmate April at the same time. You can hear the delicate intimacy in the song. They borrow the essence of music from the mid to late 60’s. When schoolboys would become eager and bashful for the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, and girls would brag to their friends that the boy they were dating “Pinned” them(and, no, that isn’t perverted. If you don’t know what that term is, ask your parents or someone in their 50’s). There’s just nothing wrong with the song. You can’t find a flaw in it. I’ve tried. It resulted in me just falling more into the blissful floating sensation that comes from letting the song take over everything. That doesn’t come from just knowing your instruments and how to make them work for you. That comes from when you make music from your heart. Which is exactly what this couple does for the entire album.

I could snatch any song out of the bunch and hark the herald on almost all of their work on this brilliant blend of songs. On “Ones And Zeroes,” the duo adds in some Lo-Fi electronic sounds to their recipe. It isn’t anything that distracts or takes away from what they do. Like the mastery use of any instrument, it builds more into their sound than it does take away. It’s such a subtle addition, like your mother adding just a pinch of spice to her neighborhood famous meatloaf. The addition, though, takes them from an Acoustic duo to a Dream Pop one. I’m not talking about your “riding down Sunset Blvd.” dream pop, here. No, I’m talking about running through the forest with the girl of your dreams to go swimming in the stream and make out on the bank type of dream pop. The kind of music that inspires good, innovative and loving Indy Flicks. The follow-up track “Catching Up To You” further dives into the new field that they’ve entered. Bringing with it a sense of that old school “Quiet Storm” mix to the whole picture(If you’re too young to even know what the term “Quiet Storm” means, then I can only hope that you have enough life experience to truly appreciate the amazing emotion of this album). It features no vocals. It’s just an instrumental track that showcases what this Husband & Wife team could do if they decided to switch up their style and go completely Lo-Fi electronic with their routine(or, hopefully as a side-project).

“Kandy” is a song that’s far too dreamy to be real. From the blissful echo of Joe’s whispery smooth vocals to the almost child-like playing of the keyboard riffs to the subtle and unabrasive drumming. The whole song just screams out quiet genius. It’s hard to deal with music that is so minimal yet light years ahead of what is normally [force] fed to the world. It’s even harder to believe that such captivating music could come from any other source but a loving & working relationship between two lovers. If there was ever a song of the year, this would seriously be one of the top contenders. Again, them not getting, in my view, sufficient attention is just so wrong in so many ways. But, I guess that makes them even more special and magical in their execution, delivery and honesty.

Being that I could go on for days about each and every track on this album(And there’s 16 of them, so that would take a while), I’ll just try to touch on a few more of the more soul changing/life altering tracks. “Lies” is great even in its annoying factor. The annoying factor is this static/distortion that runs through almost the entire song. But, for some reason, it adds to the whole sound of the song. Giving it more of a nostalgic feeling of a time long passed than a technical blip in their recording/mixing process. I’m not sure if this was intentional to be added in or if it was a mishap that seemed to work in their favor so they decided to keep it. But, either or, it does wonders with an already sweeping track. “Satellites (Venus To Mars)” is just nothing short of being as spectacular as riding a Unicorn in the Kentucky Derby for the win. I know, that sounds silly, but think about that for a second, will you? Go ahead. I’ll wait. […] Ok. Yeah, it was silly, but seemed cool at the same time. Well, this song is nothing close to silly. It’s just cool all the way through. The drum track keeps the cadence of the melody marching along boldly, yet not with intensity or aggressiveness. And, the lyrics and song concept are just wonderful. Venus to Mars = Women to Men, for those of you who aren’t in the know with astrology and Satellite figures. The fact that Joe’s vocals are doubled in a similar fashion to if he’s talking to Houston from space makes the whole thing that much more awe inspiring. You get the feeling that he’s drifting amongst the stars and finally found that one being that he’s searched his entire life for. The one that completely completes him. Granted, we all know that the one is April. Still, if there would be anyway to describe it, you could say that this is Joe’s mind before he married April. Lastly, I’d like to mention the track “Hold On.” It’s a combination of Dream Pop and Psychedelic music. It’s somewhere between getting high in a field of dandelions and riding in a car through the country roads with the top down in the middle of the night staring at the stars. Yeah, it was a run-on sentence, but I don’t care. The song deserves it(in a good way). Joe’s underwater-styled vocals just sends ripples through the listener while you’re treated to soft cat-in-heat moan-like sound throughout. With, again, the drums playing a critical part in the reception of the song. A slow and steady tempo that allows for any “Midnight Under the Stars” or “Under the Sea” prom event’s King & Queen dance to be a very good one. The guitar solo is short enough not to leave you lost, but performed properly enough to make that slow dance all the more romantic. When I wed, this will be the song that I’ll want to dance that first dance to.

To know that this Husband & Wife act are already in the process of creating their next soon-to-be masterpiece is a great thing to know. They are saying that they plan for it to be more “accessible.” I can understand them wanting to build their fan-base, and they promised to still be as dreamy for it. Still, I just feel that they shouldn’t have to dumb down even for a moment. I feel that the world needs to step up and understand what true musical art is all about. And their debut first album is as artisitic as taking a stroll through the Louvre in Paris. Along with being equally as impressive. I can only hope that they make a third, fourth, and fifth album after the second one. They’re needed in today’s monotomy. And, if I was to give star ratings out on this site, this couple would receive a solid 5 stars.

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