The greatest praise one can give Ecstatic Sunshine when it comes to Freckle Wars is for consistency of vision. It's a vision that consists of two young gentleman in Baltimore, probably hanging out in a dorm, strumming away haphazardly at guitars with little knowledge of chords or songcraft. There's really no other way and no truly nice way to put it: the album's indistinguishable 12 tracks seem recorded by preteens or some other innocents who have just recently been introduced to musical instruments. Distant inspirations like Fahey, Kotke and Modest Mouse are obvious, but at this point in their career, Matthew Papich and Dustin Wong (Ponytail) simply can't measure up. While the guys might have fun jamming, laughing, and possibly indulging in some college substances, the music that results isn't typically the kind of stuff that's released by a record label. In their Freckle Wars, Ecstatic Sunshine wins the battle of outlasting a listener's patience. Perhaps with more variation and a great deal of practice, their future might be brighter. - Tim DiGravina
The two artists collaborated together during the legendary show at CBGB’s in New York City. Empire shows off his DJ skills with obscure scratching techniques and hard breaks, while Masami Akita (aka Merzbow) is painting the apocalypse with shapes of white noise. In 1998 critics celebrated this concert as ‘the defining end-point of the popular music era of the 20th century’. Download Link (Mediafire)
With Quicksand/Cradlesnakes, Califone finally sounds like a confident, poised outfit rather than a Tim Rutili work-in-progress. It may lack some of the highlights of Roomsound, but Quicksand/Cradlesnakes makes up for it through consistency and pacing. Califone still explores the shadowlands between acoustic and electronic sounds, but the experimentation is more focused here, more in support of the song. The duo of Tim Rutili and Ben Mansarella remains at the group's core, but longtime Califone collaborator Brian Deck sits this one out, and as a result Quicksand/Cradlesnakes has a sparser, less-textured feel than its predecessor. The clinking, clanging, buzzing, and scraping are still present, as well as the occasional burst of controlled feedback -- something that has followed this crew since the days of Red Red Meat.
It's a difficult thing to have too many cooks in the kitchen, especially when all of them are iron chefs. Joel Phelps' semi-forced exit made a big difference. On one hand, it was bad: Phelps was an integral part of the band since its inception. And on the other, it was good: the pared-down sound fit the band well, and that's quite evident on the four-sided Firewater. Left to two voices, the band produces its most cohesive and precise set, despite it being their most broad; Firewater clocks in with 16 tracks at an hour long. Not a minute is wasted, and everything sounds more measured and relaxed. Lyrically, the themes of each song tie in with a couple concepts in mind, not suffering from the somewhat schizo topics of previous LPs. As the lone guitarist, Cohen spreads his wings, turning in some lengthy solos. At times, his scorchy leads seem twice as loud as the bass and drums, but it's called for each time. Midgett's thick bass becomes more of a centerpiece than an anchor, sounding its thickest yet. Stripped bare to the degree of sounding awkward on the first few listens, a couple songs rely mainly on light rhythms and little else. The record's themes of alienation and inebriation are balanced by spells of dark humor. Cohen is always reliable for the occasional zinger, and Midgett's woes-of-the-road "Miracle Mile" provides many yuks at the band's expense. Also, the occasional cathartic yelping and complex structures seem to be done away with, in favor of more classic influences (the Stones-y "Lure of Beauty") and decreasing tangential incidents. Though one hates to say it in the wake of Phelps, Firewater sounds like a band that's just lost its training wheels -- fuller yet less cluttered. - All Music
Guided By Voices' maestro Robert Pollard is the King of Melody. The man could be given a recording of garbage trucks in reverse and emerge with something hook-laden. Thankfully, he has more to work with on Go Back Snowball's Calling Zero, his highly anticipated collaboration with Superchunk's own leader, Mac McCaughan (and Pollard's first venture outside of the GBV camp). The move paid off nicely, as Pollard's lyrics and melodies play off of McCaughan's instrumental beds (and vice versa) as if the two had been honing their craft together for years. This is all the more impressive given the fact that the gifted songwriters have never been in a studio simultaneously. McCaughan sets Pollard up beautifully throughout Calling Zero, with scores that recall Guided By Voices ("Never Forget Where You Get Them," "It Is Divine), the synth pop of New Order ("Again the Waterloo," "Throat of Throats"), the lighter side of Superchunk ("Go Gold"), and his own solo project, Portastatic ("Lifetime for the Mavericks," which starts off sounding like Bob Mould covering GBV). Needless to say, the Captain is up for the challenge. Adventurous fans will be pleasantly surprised to hear classic Pollard refrains over a horn section ("Radical Girl), a sparse, acoustic guitar/percussion/trumpet arrangement ("Dumbluck Systems Storefront"), and something downright danceable ("Again the Waterloo"). A hypothetical question is also raised: What if Black Sabbath bought a drum machine ("Climb")? The strained chorus and throwaway phrases on the otherwise fine acoustic-rooted ballad "Calling Zero" is the one time the plan fails, while "Red Hot Halos" is an example of the plan when it all works perfectly -- as the words and melody interact with the shifting musical moods to create something more than worthy of the expectations.
An alter ego of indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo, the Condo Fucks allegedly hailed from New London, CT, and featured drummer Georgia Condo (aka Georgia Hubley), guitarist Kid Condo (aka Ira Kaplan), and bassist James McNew. In 2008, the band played one of the final shows at Brooklyn's Magnetic Field, and a "secretive Hoboken rehearsal" that featured covers of Richard Hell, Small Faces, Troggs, and Beach Boys songs resulted in Fuckbook, which was released by Matador in spring 2009.
Crocodiles are a two-piece from San Diego, USA formed in 2008 playing lo-fi new wave, featuring former members of The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. So far they have released a 7” on Zoo Music, and have two forthcoming split 7”s with a number of artists plus an LP entitled ‘Summer of Hate’.
John Twell's first album as Xela, 2003's For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights, is a quietly accomplished full-length debut that reflects the main thrust of electronic music in the early 2000s without being too derivative. The small, crispy-sounding, abstract beats, deep basslines, and wistful melodies that dominate the album sum up IDM in the late '90s and early 2000s, and the influence of Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Broadcast can be felt throughout. However, the flair for intricately detailed tracks that somehow never feel overwrought is all Twells, and that, along with his ways with mood and melody (particularly on "Afraid of Monsters," "Bobble Hats in Summer," and "Last Breath"), is what makes For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights unique. - Heather Phares
Battles is a breed of rock band unto itself, sounding arguably like no one else out there. Taking cues from math rock's complexity, Krautrock's repetition, electronica's unlimited sampledelic potential, and the avant-garde's penchant for heresy, they have compiled a collection of their two five-song EPs here that virtually defies description. Made up of a couple-few versions of the same piece a couple times over, all obliquely named and sounding nothing like each other, these are not merely remixes, and they form a cohesive whole. - Brian Way
Given how many contemporaneous EPs by the quartet had overlapping track listings with this album, in its various forms, it's almost more accurate to call Last Exit to Garageland a best-of compilation than a standalone release. However one wants to consider it, Last Exit is pretty darn brilliant, an enthusiastic, sharp collection of punk/pop indie songs that find their own approach. At the time, comparisons flew thick and fast to such similarly minded bands as the Pixies and The Poster Children but Garageland share an aesthetic rather than cloning anyone. It doesn't hurt that Jeremy Eade has a great singing voice and is able to kick up some high-volume delivery here and there (without sounding like, say, Black Francis) but is also just fine at calmer singing. -Ned Ragget
Proof that punk was more about attitude than a raw, guitar-driven sound, Suicide's self-titled debut set the duo apart from the rest of the style's self-proclaimed outsiders. Over the course of seven songs, Martin Rev's dense, unnerving electronics -- including a menacing synth bass, a drum machine that sounds like an idling motorcycle, and harshly hypnotic organs -- and Alan Vega's ghostly, Gene Vincent-esque vocals defined the group's sound and provided the blueprints for post-punk, synth pop, and industrial rock in the process. Though those seven songs shared the same stripped-down sonic template, they also show Suicide's surprisingly wide range. - Heather Phares
Starfucker is an American indie electronica band founded in the summer of 2007 in Portland, Oregon by Josh Hodges, Ryan Biornstad, and Shawn Glassford with Hodges on drums and Biornstad and Glassford on multiple instruments including keyboards, turntables, synthesizers and drum machines.
Just over eight months after the release of their well-received self-titled debut, electro-pop upstarts Starfucker are putting out another album to coincide with the onset of the universal summertime adrenaline rush. The record is entitled Jupiter and is considered by the group to be a sister LP to their debut, bringing to light a smattering of songs that have already gone into heavy rotation in Starfucker’s live performances. Jupiter is scheduled to be released on May 5 on Badman.
Judging from the opening track “Medicine,” which can now be streamed at the band’s MySpace page, the Portland-based quartet seem steadfast in continuing their allegiance to synth bliss and distorted hooks, which is a noble venture if there ever was one.
Giants, located in the heart of Iowa, is a five-piece instrumental band that recently released their full-length album, “They, The Undeserving” with Medical Abuse Records in California. Well-known for their high-energy, climatic builds and anticipated time between songs, Giants originally formed in Summer of 2005 as a four-piece band leaving room for vocals-which is evident in their self-titled EP. They have since added guitarist Steve Carlson (ex Here's The Kicker) who has helped shape Giants into the dynamic, lush-sounding instrumental band that they are. Giants are currently working on a 7-inch through Medical Abuse and an extensive summer tour. Myspace
Material Issue was a power pop trio from Chicago. Their trademark was a brand of dense, rich, manic powerful pop and their music revolved heavily around themes of love and heartbreak with a phalanx of girl’s-first-name-titled songs. Formed in 1985, Material Issue was the brainchild of frontman Jim Ellison (who also played guitar, lead vocals and wrote all Material Issue songs). The early days of Material Issue was a revolving door of bass players and drummers. However, Ellison met bassist Ted Ansani while both were attending Columbia Music School in Chicago in 1986. Drummer Mike Zelenko was recruited when the duo found him through an ad in the Illinois Entertainer later that year. With the Material Issue lineup set, Ellison – with Ansani and Zelenko eager to join him and ready to follow – set his sights on conquering the pop world.
With two years, numerous radio sessions, and incessant gigging under their belts since their debut single, "In Shreds," the Chameleons came to the studio determined to make a great first album with Script of the Bridge. To say they succeeded would be like saying Shakespeare did pretty well with that one Hamlet play of his. Script remains a high-water mark of what can generally be called post-punk music, an hour's worth of one amazing song after another, practically a greatest-hits record on its own: the John Lennon tribute "Here Today," "Monkeyland," "Pleasure and Pain," "Paper Tigers," "As High as You Can Go," the breathtaking closer, "View From a Hill."- AllMusic
After mastering many instruments and playing them in bands for more than 20 years, Brad Laner’s Neighbor Singing is the California native’s first official solo LP. Laner’s ’60s-soaked blueprints for Neighbor were produced with Thom Monahan’s help, whose experience with other Roger McGuinn enthusiasts (Beachwood Sparks, Lilys, Capitol Years) was integral here. “Out Cold”’s frequent tempo shifts pack razor leads cutting through desert acoustic warmth and Beach Boys–esque harmonies. The guitars don’t shred like they did when Laner was upping their treble levels and feeding them through four fuzz box pedals in the noise-pop trio Medicine; instead, Neighbor jumps from song fragments to fleshed-out, structured compositions with little warning. The open-ended freakouts are varied and sharp, even if they’re reminiscent of experiments tested and tried. -Dominic Umile
Released between Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, the Watery, Domestic EP captures Pavement in a transitional phase, as the band began to abandon the static-laden guitar rock of their early recordings and started to move toward a cleaner sound. Most of the innovations of Watery, Domestic have to do with recording techniques, yet the songs are certainly fine. The cleaner production brings Pavement's inherent fractured melodicism into sharper focus, which benefits "Texas Never Whispers," the wistful "Frontwards," and the bright, nearly jangly "Shoot the Singer," but the slow grind of "Lions (Linden)" would have been mesmerizing regardless of the production, or the lack of it. - All Music Guide
Northern Picture Library was a British dream pop group formed in 1993 by Bobby Wratten and Annemari Davies, both former members of The Field Mice. They were soon joined by former drummer for The Field Mice; Mark Dobson.
The group adopted a more abstract, ambient and synthesiser-based sound than the more instantly-recognisable guitar-pop approach of The Field Mice. Their debut single, “Love Song For The Dead Che”, was a cover of a song by 1960s psychedelic group United States Of America, and both it and the following album, Alaska, won critical acclaim, however sales were poor, even compared to The Field Mice’s records. The group members’ personal problems (various members succumbed to depression, stagefright and substance abuse) made touring difficult, and thus also made it difficult for the group to promote their records effectively. Two more EPs followed before the group was dissolved. Wratten later went on to form Trembling Blue Stars, with Davies also joining the group in a later incarnation.
In 2005 the entire Northern Picture Library back catalogue was released on two CDs on the LTM label.
A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns is a brief mini-album of amazing songs. If Kurt Heasley's Lilys didn't have so many other stellar releases, this six-song album would be a crowning achievement. The first five tracks are stunning examples of pop perfection. The shoegazer feedback of the My Bloody Valentine-inspired In the Presence of Nothing has been pushed to the background; in the fore are crashing cymbals, pounding drums, fuzzy guitars, and sweet, gentle melodies. ~ Tim DiGravina, All Music Guide
Dan Friel is one quarter of Parts and Labor. He uses a variety of electronics and instruments to make science. Music science. Source: last.fm
A mess of rapsy synths and crackling hooks, Dan Friel's album consists of solid pop noise songs that are sure to have you're feet tapping. A must for fans of Dan Deacon. Thanks to Shared Space for the recommendation.
Women was formed in late 2007 by Chris Reimer , Mike Wallace and brothers Pat Flegel and Matt Flegel in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Their debut full-length was produced by local hero Chad VanGaalen (in his basement studio) and was released (CD/LP) July 8th 2008 on Flemish Eye Records. In July 2008 they signed with record label Jagjaguwar and their S/T debut album was released worldwide on October 7th 2008 on JagJaguwar.
"Women present a fresh lo-fi landmark that sounds like it was made in your garage before getting packed-up for a Sunday picnic in the park--well fused, lads." - No Ripcord
"Every track on Women serves a purpose to the overall stereo image, resulting in a debut that sets the bar very high. " - Tiny Mix Tapes
Thee More Shallows (initially “Thee Shallows”) are a San Francisco based band formed in 2001. The band consists of song-writer Dee Kesler, Chavo Fraser, Jason Gonzales. Their debut album, A History of Sport Fishing achieved a level of critical success and, after touring the US and UK to promote the album, they returned to the studio to record their follow up, More Deep Cuts, which was released in 2004 in the UK and 2005 in the US. A UK-only EP called Cuts Plus Two followed in 2005, and the Monkey vs. Shark E.P. in 2006.
Buyi /布衣乐队 was formed in May 1995 in Yinchuan, Ningxia Province. They show their unique musical temperament based on the land of Northwest China in their folk-rock and have received wide-spread critical acclaim. Buyi has taken part in MIDI Music Festival, Helan Mountain Music Festival, Inner Mongolian Grassland Music Festival, Only One Ningxia and other big music events. They produced music for the movies Crazy Stone and Big Movie, toured Japan and invited Funky, the famous Japanese musician and Wyn Davis, recording director of Guns’N’Roses to produce their new album.
Cameron Wisch is simply one of the most talented musicians I have ever come across. I've had the privilege of knowing Cameron for about five years now, and with it the privilege of experiencing each new musical project he has unveiled. He's a past member ofThe Medics and Ra Ra Riot, an "electro/acoustic/jazz" composer and bandleader as Isaac, drummer of the math/prog/hardcore trio Zona Mexicana, as well as a one-man mathy onslaught as Cameron Wisch, playing drums, keys, guitar, and singing. He's also studying studio composition at SUNY Purchase. He's by far the most energetic and creative drummer I've ever seen, a fantastic pianist and vibraphonist, and a better guitarist than most I've known, although self-taught. The guy cannot be stopped.
Meant as an outlet for songs written by Mission of Burma bass player Clint Conley, Consonant formed in 2001 with supporting bandmates Chris Brokaw (formerly of Come and Codeine) on guitar, Matt Kadane (ex-Silkworm and Bedhead) on drums, and Winston Braman (from Fuzzy and the Count-Me-Outs) on bass. Conley switched to guitar in the Boston-area super-group. Their self-titled debut was released in spring of 2002 and a sophomore record titled Love and Affliction was released in 2003. Source: Lastfm