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Posts Tagged ‘Trip-Hop’

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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Dropz Drip Out Sonic Absinthe

Posted by Scotio on June 11, 2008

You ever sit around in a quiet place and have music playing in your head as if you have a mental jukebox? Being that I can’t hear you answer that question, I’ll just move on as if you answered and I didn’t care. Well, that happens to me quite often. Which I guess by today’s clinical standard, that should mean that I should be on some sort of pill. But, I like my little internal music. Sometimes it’s a song I never actually heard before being played in it. More often, though, it’s music that I’ve heard before . . . just not recently. Well, such was the case a few days ago. And, the song was “The Concept” by the band Dropz. I asked a friend of mine, who shares a similar love for Sneaker Pimps as I do, if he ever heard Dropz‘s album Sweet Oblivion or any music from them. He responded with no. At which point I was not only floored, but forced to play him hear a few songs from them. While that was going on, I thought about how many people never knew that the band even exists(ed?). So, I decided to cook up a review of their album in hopes to spark interest in their music. Let’s begin, shall we?

The aforementioned song “The Concept” opens up the album. Which is a very groovy way to do so, with the song housing the lines “There’s a Beast inside of us”  for the chorus. Everything about the sound is somewhat familiar to anyone who has heard the Becoming X album by Sneaker Pimps. That will be for two reasons: 1.) The main composer of the music, Hoshino Hidehiko aka Hide(from the J-Rock iconic band BUCK-TICK), listened to that album heavily when he was crafting the sound for this album; 2.) The lead vocals are handled by Kelli Ali(formerly Kelli Dayton) of Becoming X fame. Cube Juice makes up the third leg of this tripod group.

The following track’s sound, “Read My Mind,” is as uplifting as its lyrics are depressive. I know I’ve said it before, but this is really a summer track. A musical soundtrack to a fun trip traveling somewhere new and adventurous, or even just a good song to play while folks are on an amusement park ride. For me, it leans the most to the latter, due to childhood memories of music similar to this playing when I was on such rides. But, as I said, the lyrics aren’t as bright and sunny as the music is. Kelli sings about a turbulent relationship and their inability to properly communicate. It’s an odd mixture, but again, if you’re a Becoming X fan, you’re very familiar with such a combination.

The brilliance about this is that, every member seems to make the song better. Such is the case with the track “Dream Machine.” Cube takes Hide’s electronic guitar and drum attacks, fills it up with his electronic distortion and static harmony, then Kelli comes in and lays the track out flat with her simple, yet bold, lyrics that point out how fickle our society is about machinery and physical enhancements. Stating how people of today can easily go and get anything fixed on their person to the point where “turning you on’s like turning on TV.” Granted, everyone nowadays is saying that, but this was made in 2003-2004. So, at that time(though it was only a few years ago) folks were declared “dweebs” for not following the trend . . . ass implants, ladies?

One of the biggest and most rocking out tracks on this collection is “I Spy.” Hide strums his axe with ease and precision. The live drums are loud, noticeable, and hip-moving. Kelli doesn’t stand-out from the music. Instead, she rides inside of it like a piece of paper on a wave. Cube’s additions to this aren’t heavy, either. Also, he just adds to what’s there, builds with it, and doesn’t try to overshine Hide’s work . . . well, at least not until the end of the track.

Oh, and if you’re lucky, you would have snagged yourself a Limited Edition of the album, which has a second disc featuring all the songs from the main album but remixed by the group’s artists and electronic disco techno knob-twister Bryan Black. Yeah, I guess another thing similar to Becoming X, only it features all the songs and not the selective ones that others liked and wanted to bunch up the album with repeatedly. The remixes are just as nice and neck swinging as the originals. The remix album is so solid that it could be a stand-alone disc and could equally compete for dominance against the original work. I know, I’ve faced horrid remixed material, as well. So, trust me when I say that such is not the case, here. But, I will say that the remixes would fair over better with those deeper into electronic music than the average listener. And, typically, the Japanese market(where the album was primarily released).

Out of all 20 tracks, my favorite would have to be “Lose The Boy [Antidepressant Remix].” It has more oldschool Hip-Hop styled drums, and Electronic Madonna-styled voice effects . . . so much so that if you told someone it was a new or unreleased Madonna track, I’m sure they’d believe you. But, it’s just something about it. The original is magical, also, but this remix just does something. It reaches some sadder more sullen place, yet smooths everything out to make the bad seem ok. The electronic effects that are laced throughout the song are just enchanting. They hold you dearly, and craddle you like some type of depressing, yet soothing, lullaby.

I’m sure that a good bit of people have discarded this album simply because of the similarities to Becoming X. But, fans of that superly solid debut album by such a ground shaking Trip-Hop act should look to this as “What if Sneaker Pimps redid their music and added Kelli back into the fold in this day and age?” This is that sound, but not quite. I say that because none of the SPs housed the guitar savvy skills that Hide does. I will say that Cube Juice would put them in for a good run for their money, and the winner of that outcome would have to be witnessed and not predicted. Still, I feel that this album holds a special place for me due to the special place that Becoming X holds. Is that fair? Who knows. Who cares, either? Because if it wasn’t for Becoming X, this album, let alone this group wouldn’t have ever been created in the first place. Top that, cool cats!

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Martina Makes God Turn Blue

Posted by Scotio on May 8, 2008

Martina Topley-Bird originally started out as a protégé/singer for the Trip-Hop pioneer mastermind Tricky. She was featured heavily on his album, Maxinquaye, and lightly on albums thereafter. Not to mention she had a child by the man. In 2003, she released her first album Quixotic which was retitled Anything in the US and missing a track or two. In 2008, she pushes out her second solo release titled The Blue God which was produced by the in high demand Danger Mouse(of Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley & The Grey Album fame). This album is more uplifting in sound than her debut . . . not that it’s a good nor a bad thing. Starting things off, she brings out “Phoenix.” It’s a track that blends in the two sounds that her and DM are known for. Featuring his organ work and drum machine orchestration & her silken milky smooth vocals and haunting layers of those vocals, it shows a marriage of sounds that is beautiful in every sense of the word. Following that is her lead single “Carnies.” With it’s retro 60’s pop sound and it’s 80’s digital keyboard input, this song sounds timeless and, somewhat, out of place in today’s market. Fans of Martina would question this song upon first hearing it. Though, once a good two to three times of listening kicks in, you’ll realize she made a great choice in placing this on the album. Giving a more free spirit feeling and less melancholy, even though the wordplay might suggest otherwise(depending on your feelings towards Carnies). “Baby Blue” rides on the wave that “Carnies” creates. Giving a very retro sound to the whole thing, it’s clear that she/they aren’t relying on the 80’s like most others of today. This song and “Shangri-La” sound like they would have been more comfortable in the 50’s than they would on today’s radio scene. Still, it’s very refreshing to have her vocal ability come to the forefront and not fighting it’s way amongst a sea of musical layers. “Yesterday” is the most digital song on the whole release. Featuring sounds that Martina is definitely more noticeable for. With the Caribbean-styled bass and digital glitches abundant, it’s like if Tricky watched too many episodes of Star Trek and had Martina featured on the track. Clearly the gem of the gem of the entire piece is the track “Something To Say.” Starting off with electronic static set to a pattern, and followed by an acoustic guitar, then the rest of the instruments. The song continues without vocals for over a minute into the song. Once the leading lady comes on, the song’s structure begins to change to a more upbeat tempo and mood. Sounding more like a Gorillaz track than one that one would originally associate to Topley-Bird, it’s a brilliant and amazing tune. Fully of hips-sway inducing melodies and an acoustic guitar riff akin to that of the Gorillaz’s “El Mañana” song. This album is gorgeous, but it’s no Quixotic. So, if anyone is expecting that, you’ll be greatly disappointed. But, it is encouraged that you open your mind, your range, and your ears to Martina allowing Martina to have more fun this time around.

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Puscifer’s Viagra Enhances Vagina

Posted by Scotio on April 30, 2008

Yes, the title of this remix album, “V” Is For Viagra, is as outrageous as the title of the original was for those who are my “straight and narrow.” But, this album, nor the original, was created for those types of people. Maynard James Keenan of Tool & A Perfect Circle fame created his own little personal outlet through Puscifer. Offering up some insane music as well as some pretty groovy threads for you, your lover, and even your animal companion. This album features redone tracks by contributors to the original album, as well as other’s who weren’t included in Vagina’s creation. Since the eager release of “V” Is For Vagina, MJK has been sitting cool without the houndings of the demands from a major label. Yes, he self-released the album, as he has done again with this little remixed gem. Viagra opens up with one of the smoothest remixes I’ve heard in a long, long time. Half of the New Orleans-originated/Chicago-based Electronic act Telefon Tel Aviv, Josh Eustis, conjures up pure experimental bliss with his JLE Dub take on the song “Indigo Children.” With the lush layered ambience sitting underneath earth-splitting bass, the song just takes on new breath. The Dirty Robot Mix of “Country Boner” by Mat Mitchell & Contradicktator(aka Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens Of The Stone Age, A Perfect Circle, Failure & Enemy fame) is a serious stand-out track. Sounding absolutely NOTHING like the original song, the duo of remixers teamed up to make a very dance-heavy Synth-Pop/Industrial track from the spoof country song. Using the line “It won’t go down on me” as the chorus, it leaves it open to add in extra thoughts of “going down” . . . if you know what I mean. MJK and Lustmord must have created a very strong relationship as Lustmord remixes 2 of the songs, as well as has a speaking role on the album on PSR, LOL!. Lust’s Desert Porn Mix of “Trekka” closer resembles his normal sound than his Guns For Hire Mix of “DoZo.” “Drunk With Power”‘s Hungover & Hostile In Hannover Mix by Joey Jordison(aka Member #1 of Slipknot, Murderdolls & KoRn fame) is a more disturbing take on a song about a Pimp named Pooh Bear missing his girl named Hunny. Featuring samples of feet marching, and sounds that bring to mind a sort of dim-lit torture chamber, the song just grabs at your more obsessively dark regions of mourning for a lost love. The Deflowering Mix of “Vagina Mine” by Paul Barker(of Ministry fame) sounds more like a song from Barker’s former band than it does something of traditional MJK flare. Even equipping the song with sound-bites and a steady tribal-trance drumtrack, you’re waiting for Uncle Al to hop on the song and make it a duet. Danny Lohner(of Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle & Black Light Burns fame) cooks up a Late For Dinner mix of the satirical track “Sour Grapes.” Housing piano riff similar to the band where he mainly got his industry start(NIN), Lohner opts to sing on the latter half of the track, as well. Belting out “You know it’s going to be sour grapes for you boy, until you get right with Jesus,” Having Maynard’s original vocals providing backup in the background. This is one of the most stand-out remix albums that I’ve ever come across. Done very well to the point of the some of the songs sounding like they hold little-to-no connection to their Vagina companions . . . aside from the lyrics, of course. Fans of MJK’s main and secondary bands might have tiffed over Puscifer’s first full-length, but after listening to it multiple times, they’ve come over to let the mad genius have his fun. With this album, he lets others have their fun with it, and hopefully it won’t take fans as long to warm-up to this masterful remix collection.

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F1rst Aid’s Helpful Album

Posted by Scotio on April 9, 2008

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When you think of Madrid(that’s the capital of Spain for you geographically slow people) you think of Museums filled with some of the world’s most prestigious art, you ponder on bullfighting, you spend thoughts on football(soccer for you ignorant Americans), and/or you might even think of classical music/opera. One thing you don’t think about is innovatively brilliant avant-garde music that would have even made Radiohead during their Kid A days blush. Well, that was until the band known as First Aid K:i:t came onto the scene. With lush atmospheric sounds soothing your mental, soft piano chords that carry you like a lullabye, indie-styled guitar play that sparsely interfere with the sonic flow, and electronic ambience aplenty this duo brings something that mainly the eclectic would grab at. From the opening track of Still On Fire, you’re given a sense of being in a place that is not only timeless but euphoric. The proceeding track, Forgotten Sky, follows the first not only by track order, but also building on what the first gave you. The female lead singer’s vocals, at times, resemble Bjork at her best. The line “There is no sky” is said so smoothly and broken hearted that you’re tempted to look outside your window to reassure yourself that a sky is, in fact, still there. On the track Greenish, the guitar work is more apparent after playing the assistant on the first few songs. It comes in like they sampled a portion of an intro of a mellow song from the 80’s. This song even contains a soundbite of the lead singer trying to cheer up a friend over their answering machine(or answer call if you’re on the eastern side of the pond), telling them to “Make your day a bit more greenish.” The biggest departure and more trip-hop sounding portion of the album comes in the form of the tune Sadness Dies. It being composed of layered guitar work, heavy electronic bass, and angry electronics becomes a huge contrast against the delicate voice singing over top of them. Still, somehow they fit together like the old saying “opposites attract.” Rounding out the album is the final and shortest song in the bunch, Brown Eyes. The opening of the song makes you feel as if you’re riding shotgun with Ripley to go battle some Aliens(if you don’t understand this statement, I advise you to remove yourself from the room for the remainder of the day and update yourself on cinema history). This particular song is the only all instrumental piece. It never gets loud, nor does it make your foot tap. Instead, it brings to mind exactly what is taking place: the end of something great. That’s precisely what this album is, a great(but brief) musical adventure.

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