Saturday, January 28, 2012

Other Music - Incidents Out of Context

Wow. This is music treads the careful line between being challenging and engaging and does so magnificently. Compositionally, these pieces are intricate and complicated but are still very accessible and interesting. The second track "Music With Too Many Parts" is probably the most "experimental" song in terms of songwriting; they use a scale of fourteen unequal intervals per octave. It also sounds like an Eastern European scale, there are some notes here that you just don't here on a regular basis when listening to music based in Western European scales, keys, etc. "It is It" (parts one and two) both feature tempo and time signature changes that are impressive and striking, yet occur so effortlessly and naturally. "The Spirit is Willing" shows off their syth and drum syncopation skillz. And the title track, well, I'll let you discover that one for yourself.

The actual textures of the instruments themselves are as interesting as the songwriting. 80s synth voices that would be cheesy otherwise fit nicely in here and sound great. In addition to synth, bass, and flute, there are many unorthodox instruments at play here, such as the marimba and other things that I've never even heard of. Upon first listen to this record, I actually chuckled to myself a few times just out of sheer surprise. And apparently this band uses 'just intonation' tuning a lot, which is really complicated and makes cool sounds so if you really wanna know click here

the link can be found below


EDIT: While I haven't been able to find a full rip of their other release, Prime Numbers, you can hear three of the songs here:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rations - How Much Land Does a Man Need? 7"

'His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from head to his heels was all he needed'

Rations are a Long Island NY punk group, and How Much Land Does a Man Need? is their second release. I've actually struggled to think about things to talk about in this review, as I hadn't previously heard of this band nor do I know too much about the style of music they play. Nonetheless, since receiving this 7" a little over a week ago I've played it about 3 times a day, every day.

The 5 songs here consist of mid-paced and well-defined punk music with a strong melodic edge. Some might (loosely) call it pop-punk, but I personally don't see too much of a pop aesthetic in these songs. Regardless, the 7" shows great musicianship and while the songs themselves are not compositionally complex, they are absolutely not generic. Perhaps we should avoid my shitty descriptions and let you all hear it for yourselves - you can stream the title track at this bandcamp page.

Rations' songs just have a little something that makes every moment poignant no matter what you're doing, provided the record is spinning. I've been lying in bed looking up out of my windows at the sky or doing something as mundane as eating cereal and I've just stopped to reflect. The music has a definite authenticity that allows you to lose yourself in it without any worry of anxiety or negativity. Put in simpler terms, I would call How Much Land Does a Man Need? a 'feel-good' record.

The 7" comes with a 12 page booklet designed by the guitarist, who also runs one of the 10 labels who've co-released the record. 1000 copies were pressed, so they're currently in abundance and you would do well to pick one up. This comes with my strongest recommendation.

Perth's Jerk Store Records is selling them for $5 postage paid anywhere in Australia, or $3 in person. If you're from down here, definitely do not miss the opportunity as I'm not entirely sure how many copies Alex has. Those of you from other parts of the world, here's a list of each label involved and its whereabouts - I'll let you do the googling.

Jerk Store Records & Fanzine (AUS)
Drunken Sailor Records (UK)
Lost Cat Records (USA)
86'd Records (USA)
Rad Girlfriend Records (USA)
Intense Human Victories (USA?)
Square of Opposition Records (USA)
Pavones Records (CAN)
Messner Records (SWE)
Eager Beaver Records (Jap)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Red Nightfall - Red Nightfall

While I'm most certainly a sucker for genre labels, it just so happens that sometimes I'll come across a record that will make me avoid categorising at all costs - while it's so very easy to label a band or record, putting a box around something simply means that that particular thing cannot venture beyond the boundaries of that box (at least in the boxer's mind). This sort of discussion is usually up in the air, and while it's easy to 'box' almost any type of music, sometimes it's just better to forget your critical faculty and enjoy the emotive side a piece of music has to offer. For the first time in a long time I did just that with Red Nightfall's debut LP, and I like to think that it fostered a stronger connection with the music. Initial listens of the album made me realise that if I were to write a review talking about how they're an indie rock band and how they either fit in or deviate from the typical tenets of the style, I would not be doing the Toronto based quartet any justice.

The band label themselves as both 'sad bastard indie-rock' and similar to 'early Pink Floyd or King Crimson'. While I believe the former description fits perfectly, I personally do not hear any Floyd or Crimson at all. Maybe I'm listening out for the wrong things? Regardless, I'll be taking this review down the sad bastard track; Red Nightfall as a record consists of 9 stripped down and sombre songs which more often than not build up in intensity as they progress. Generally speaking this is an indie-rock record, but there are folk, slowcore and perhaps even loose post-rock elements thrown into the mix, all which collude to give Red Nightfall a distinct character.

Instrumentally, this record is immaculate - rather than give a detailed description of what each member does and sounds like, I'm going to point out two particular elements which stick out to me as defining facets of Red Nightfall. Firstly, Addison Siemko's vocals suit the solemn and often melancholic atmosphere perfectly, and his ability to convey a completely different mood with the slightest change in his voice allows a great deal of introspection on the listener's behalf. The second notable thing is Patrick Illian's bass lines. The way they give life and urgency to the songs needs to be heard rather than described, so I'll just say that the bass' prominence in the mix is dearly welcomed.

I've done nothing but praise this album so far, so I'd like to end things on a more realistic note. I really enjoy this record, and I can state with no inhibitions that Red Nightfall are definitely onto something. Nonetheless, I think the band could spend a little more time fine-tuning their 'album-craft', if that makes any sense. Individual songs on the record are great - in fact, I don't think there are any that I didn't care for (double negative deal with it), but writing a collection of songs and putting them in an album is different to writing an album. I feel that Red Nightfall could very easily construct a highly cohesive record which oozes thematic continuity, but that's not quite the case here. All 9 songs have their own emotional 'rides', but when I pop this into the player, I feel that I'm sitting there listening to a song at a time rather than all 9 in a row.

All of that aside, this is a great record and being their debut it's a bit much to criticise them for such minute details. If artists such as The National, Vic Chessnutt or Jeff Buckley are your thing, Red Nightfall is well worth hearing. You can listen to the band at their bandcamp, as well as ordering both physical and digital copies.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

XfrankgrimesX - Pretty Buzzy

'XfrankgrimesX once again delves into the depressing nature of modern life, covering a diverse range of topics including vending machines stealing your money, getting nits and looking like Robert Smith when you cut off your dreads, the horror of public transport and pizza places that still can't cut eight even slices'.

XfrankgrimesX have followed up their Old Grimey EP with another release of short, raging powerviolence numbers, all with some really great samples. Pretty Buzzy has a more crisp and sharp sound than the Old Grimey EP, but the song structure is mostly the same. One thing which stook out to me however is that Pretty Buzzy has a few songs that employ some slower and doomier parts, though in the loosest possible sense. It still fits within the overall XfrankgrimesX sound however.

Another nifty little surprise here is a cover of Iron Lung's Sexless/No Sex, and though this cover is musically faithful, they lyrics have been slightly altered - the song is now called Snackless//No Snacks. While I would not say that XfrankgrimesX are a groundbreaking band, they have a certain charm to them which I simply cannot ignore. Their songs are basic but well written, and overall they're just hilarious. Their use of samples is perfect - we have more Simpsons ones on Pretty Buzzy, but one of the best lines from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is used too.

According to their bandcamp Pretty Buzzy is XfrankgrimesX's second and 'final' release. I'm not entirely sure if the band is dead or not, but all I can say is go listen to Pretty Buzzy (it's streaming on their bandcamp) and contact the band for physical copies. Support.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

SHACKL∑S - Maunder

Up and coming hardcore punx from Byron Bay are putting out a 7" on Arrest Records. I wouldn't go so far to say that Arrest Records hosts the best of Australian hardcore (a lot of it is generic and totally forgettable) but they've made a name for themselves nationally and if they keep putting out records from quality bands like Shackles then I'll keep up the support.

Shackles have been around for a while and have played shows, put out a demo etc. etc. They first came to my attention through Sean's Skullfucked blog, as he has some level of involvement with the band (putting out one of their demo tapes).

As far as I know this is their first vinyl recording and it's extremely solid. Reminds me a bit of Taipan, playing heavy handed hardcore with metallic flourishes and even hints of powerviolence (though it's not overt). 11 tracks here, and overall the 7" is a ripper.

You can stream it for free from the Arrest Records bandcamp.
You can also put in a preorder for the record at the same place.