Category Archives: Music

Iceage – New Brigade (2011) Review

Hey guys! How are you all doing? I’m sure you’re doing great because you’re on this site! Hey, I saw that look. Come on, just humor me a bit, will ya? Anyways, the band Iceage has their sophomore release You’re Nothing coming out in a couple weeks, so let’s take a look back and talk about their debut album, New Brigade.

These guys are a post-punk band from Denmark that utilize very intense vocals and instrumentation filtered through brisk and to-the-point tracks. Seriously, the length of this entire album is 24 minutes, so be prepared for songs that will not beat around the bush, AT ALL. However, that’s not a bad thing and I think it actually is what makes this album work so well. From start to finish you hardly have any time to catch your breath as you are being a witness to punk at blazing speeds.

IceageNewBrigadeCoverArt

What comes through quite surprisingly on this record is how much depth in terms of atmosphere is present. The album is absolutely drenched in chaos; the vocals are wild and fierce, the drums are tumbling all over the place the guitars are constantly being thrashed and shredded. All of these elements blend together like a giant ball of madness, and that sound is there from start to finish. The sound you get while listening to this album is dark, but at the same time it has a charm to it that makes it seem less intimidating. Maybe it’s just the fact that I find this sort of inaudible vocal delivery to always be amusing, especially in songs that are this fast.

Actually, when you really look at the heart of these songs you will find a lot of catchy melodies. The hook of “Broken Bone” is honestly good enough to be on any alternative rock radio station, if maybe the music surrounding it wasn’t quite as abrasive. Sometimes even catchier than the melodies are the guitar riffs. The opening riff of “Collapse” sounds like the highest note you can hit on a guitar being stretched out and abused for as long as it can possibly take. It just kind of soars over the anarchy below, as sort of a siren that nobody really gives a frig about.

When looking at the consistency of the album, it is almost to the point of redundancy. These songs are all very similar, bar some little touches that make them distinguishable, but it’s the speed and intensity that makes that fault microscopic. If this had been an album of 35+ minutes rather than 24 minutes I think it could have gotten quite repetitive. As it stands, the songs show what their made of for a brief amount of time before the next song punches you in the stomach with the next bag of tricks.

New Brigade is a fantastic debut album that finds a band miraculously heralding a sound that feels unique even if you know where the influences are coming from. They play together like bands of several decades of work together would, and they exude such a confidence that is infectious. It isn’t often that you come across an album with such a brief runtime that feels so jammed packed of memorable moments and inspiration, but these guys completely hit the nail on the head here. This thing is a post-punk roller coaster that is nothing but twisting and turning loops, and when it comes to its conclusion you’ll be jumping off and hopping back in line all over again.

Release Date: January 7, 2011

Genres:  Punk Rock, Post-punk, Hardcore

IStronglyCondoneThis

 

My Bloody Valentine – mbv (2013) Review

Here it is, the moment everyone has been waiting over two decades for! Entire musical genres, bands and styles have come and gone during the absence of My Bloody Valentine (jeez), and now they come back in a time where shoegaze is a long and distant memory. The one thing people talk about the most when it comes to MBV is the album Loveless, which is now hailed as a classic and a must-hear for shoegaze fans. How could they possibly live up to the expectations that were put on the follow-up? I don’t know, but I’ll get this out of the way right now: they did.

Leading up to this album there were a lot of rumors and speculation going on. Kevin Shields (lead guitars/vocals) said late last year that a new MBV album was almost finished. Then earlier this year news broke that the album had been finished and was all ready to go. Still, some time passed with no more updates on the album. MBV fans are patient – they have to be – so they put their hands on their laps and waited like good little fans. Then, suddenly, in a recent MBV performance Kevin Shields said the new album would be released in 2-3 days, which lead to a Saturday, February 2nd. They released it on their website that crashed thanks to the huge amount of people trying to access, which created a chaos that honestly isn’t too different from the style of music they make. However, eventually the smoke cleared and the album was finally available to be listened to.

As the album begins with the song “She Found Now” we are met with a near seamless continuation of Loveless. Heavy distortion, repetitive and fuzzy guitars and mellow vocals all come together in a sound we all come to expect from MBV. As the track progresses we get more and more layers of guitars plucking in harmony, creating a sort of orchestra of guitars that sends the track off into the sunset. This continues throughout the first few tracks, though like with any great MBV songs they have little touches that make them stand out. “Only Tomorrow” contains such an instance; with a sound that pops up regularly that resembles a UFO taking off. This all gives way to a gorgeous 2-minute plus instrumental that has a solid and catchy guitar riff.

What I find to be incredible about mbv is that it sounds like it could have came out in 1992. The mixing of the album and the elements that are present make it all feel like nothing has changed within the band, and that no time has passed at all. This album almost feels like a time machine; transporting everyone back to when shoegaze was at its peak. MBV did not miss a beat with this album; picking up right where they left off and executing just as well as they did over 20 years ago. That alone is a monumental accomplishment that many bands have tried and failed to achieve.

It isn’t until the fourth track “Is This and Yes” that we start to hear some interesting shifts in sound that really push the band to unexplored territories. The track is distortion and reverb free, the loudest thing being a somber keyboard that drifts in the background. There is a soft beeping sound that tiptoes between the foreground and the background while Bilinda Butcher sings very soothingly. When listening to it I couldn’t help but feel like I was lying on the grass and gazing up at the stars at night. It’s possibly the most relaxing and peaceful song the band has ever done, and “New You” continues the surprisingly clear and calm atmosphere a bit later into the album, as well. It’s hard to imagine MBV songs being peaceful, but that is exactly what comes through on a couple of these songs.

In Another Way” is a definite highlight of the album; starting with very strange and chaotic feedback before giving away to a MASSIVE drumbeat that gives the song such an epic feel to it. Those drums never let up while Bilinda sings hauntingly in the middle of the madness. The song continues to impress when it drops to a clear instrumental section consisting of an angelic synth line and simple guitar strumming that is altogether stunning. The next track, “Nothing Is” takes the chaos from the previous track and ups the ante into an all out assault on guitar and drums. The track itself is quite repetitive; with the same guitar strumming and drumbeats throughout the entire runtime. However, the subtle shifts in instrumentation volume and placement in the soundscape are what make it mesmerizing.

None of this, however, could possibly prepare you for the albums closer, “Wonder 2”. This is the only way I can describe it, so bear with me because I’m gonna try my best (oh that’s real reassuring). A distorted airplane that swirls around you while distant then in-your-face guitar squalls and frantic and chaotic drumming hit you like a monsoon. This track completely devours you and you feel as though you are in the eye of a hurricane, though instead of screaming and crying for your sad and pathetic life you are in complete awe. It’s one of the most mind-blowingly unique listening experiences I have ever had; something that took me completely by surprise and stuck with me long after the album had finished. This is just about the best way you could possibly end an album, and thus concludes mbv on a fantastic note.

When all is said and done, the over 20 year wait for this album feels completely worth it. The album is both familiar and new; beginning as a continuation of Loveless before transforming into something else entirely. There is so much ambition on this record and it is all fully-realized and focused into an album of ear-crushing brilliance. I know it seems like nonsense to make a comparison in terms of quality to Loveless so soon, but I have no doubt in my mind that mbv is on the same level as that album. Only time will tell if I like it more or less, but the fact that I even have that indecision is a testament to the quality of the album and a testament to what a phenomenal return we got from My Bloody Valentine.

Release Date: February 2, 2013

Genres: Shoegaze, Noise Rock, Alternative Rock

IStronglyCondoneThis

 

 

My Bloody Valentine Release New Album

We can now all breathe a sigh of relief! It has been over two decades, but the new My Bloody Valentine album is available now. The album, titled ‘m b v‘ contains 9 tracks. The website it’s available at is currently crashing thanks to the fans all jumping on at once, so it may be a little while before anyone actually gets to hear the damn thing. Oh how they tease us!

Here’s the tracklisting:

1. she found now
2. only tomorrow
3. who sees you
4. is this and yes
5. if i am
6. new you.
7. in another way
8. nothing is
9. wonder 2

I can just imagine the swarms of initial reactions that will be hitting the web soon, and everybody will be comparing it to Loveless and how it does or doesn’t live up to it. I will be joining in on the action, as well! As soon as I get my digital hands on this album I will get a review up as soon as possible. You can buy the album here, though good luck getting through tonight!

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (2013) Review

Alrighty! We’re back with my second review of the week for Unknown Mortal Orchestra! Here we’re gonna check out their newly released sophomore album, ‘II‘. I guess if there’s one thing you can say about UMO at this point it’s that they don’t give a flying f*** about album titles, but I respect that. It should be all about the music, baby!

What is most apparent from the get-go with this album is that it’s more reserved and the tracks are often slow-burning. We don’t really get the super-upbeat and danceable songs like on their debut with tracks like “How Can U Luv Me”. However, that’s not really a bad thing. In fact, I think the highlights on this album are the songs that are more laidback and have a higher emphasis on melody and minimalistic instrumentation. “From the Sun” has this gorgeous acoustic strumming that is accompanied by really catchy hooks, and “So Good At Being In Trouble” has a chorus that is so freaking beautiful and catchy and soulful (anything else?) that it has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it.

Even though these softer moments do bring about some fantastic songs on the album, not all of them are winners. The 7-minute long “Monki” has a melody that is good enough on its own merits, but it’s not nearly good enough to justify a 7-minute song. Closer “Secret Xtians” falls in a similar vein; being a technically tight song but doesn’t have enough melodic strength or instrumentation to do anything more than just remain background noise. There is some psychedelic experimentation added on a few tracks to try and mix things up, but they really add nothing to the songs and actually make them meander a bit. Near the end of the album is a track called “Dawn“, which is a minute long instrumental that really has me scratching my head about why it is even on here.

When it comes to Unknown Mortal Orchestra, I feel like emotional simplicity is their strong point and it’s something I think they should pursue more often. Too many times they try to detach from that simplicity with uninteresting experimentation or stretch ideas out farther than they really have any right to. However, when they get it right, they REALLY get it right, and a few of these tracks are fantastic. It may not be a home run, but ‘II‘ shows the band offering a different element to their sound that yields some positive results.

Release Date: February 5, 2013

Genres: Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Lo-fi

ICondoneThis

 

The Strokes Announce New Album ‘Comedown Machine’

News from The Strokes just keeps rolling in! It is now official that the band’s fifth album, titled ‘Comedown Machine‘ will be released on March 26th. On the band’s website you can pre-order it, which informs you that you will be sent a digital download code of single “All the Time” when the track is released.

As we can tell from the artwork, the album is just under 38 minutes long. What’s most interesting about it is that it has labels saying “Extra Strength”, “Splice Free” and “Professional Standard”. Not really sure if this has any significance to the album or if it’s just The Strokes having a laugh, but who freakin’ cares? New Strokes on the way!

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – S/T (2011) Review

Hey everyone! Today I’m gonna be starting another series where I review albums from a band that has something releasing soon. Luckily for me, this band only has one album so far, so I don’t have much catching up to do. I guess that really isn’t much of a series either… oh well! Even though it’s only one album I’m definitely glad I checked it out. Why you ask? Read on, dear reader, read on.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is influenced by several genres, but most of them are ones coming right out of the 60’s. Their sound has some hazy psychedelia that drifts along with a noticeable level of distortion, but it’s amazing how much rhythm is present at the same time. The song “How Can U Luv Me?”  has very psychedelic guitar tones fluttering through the track, but it’s all brought down to earth with an extremely catchy vocal hook and an insanely bouncy rhythm section. The lead vocalist sings in a hurt but also oddly upbeat way that gives the track a lot of emotional soul even though it’s something you can dance to. You’ll be dancing why you’re crying, basically. Just kidding.

The fact that the bands debut album is able to employ many psychedelic qualities without making it all seem like a kaleidoscope of different sounds is a testament to how sound their instrumentation is. At the core of most every one of these songs is a head-bobbing rock song, and the psychedelic flourishes are more like jimmies on top of it all. The rhythm section is actually in the foreground in a lot of these songs, which is definitively refreshing to hear with this type of music.

What’s most interesting about this album is how much I was able to connect with it, even though the lyrics are hardly ever the main focus. You may understand the lyrics and you may sing along, but it’s more like just singing along with the melodies without really knowing (or caring) what the lyrics are saying – and I think that’s what the band sought to accomplish here. Most of the time the lyrics are purposefully hazy and mixed right into the instrumentation, because the music here is very much a collage of sounds rather than any one facet taking the lead. The album opener “Ffunny Ffrends” is a perfect example of a vocally distorted song that you can’t help but sing along to. This isn’t a knock on the songwriting, and honestly when the music is this catchy it isn’t even a point worth arguing anyway.

UMO’s debut album is a quick and fun psychedelic-tinged, rhythm heavy rock album that anyone with an interest in this type of music can get into. The band knows what they’re doing when it comes to laying down a very solid foundation of bass and drums that drive most of these songs forward, and then they sort of flesh them out with some psychedelic experimentation. Some of the songs can get a bit repetitive or just not do enough that really sticks out in your mind, but overall these guys get it right. In just 30 minutes UMO creates a foot-stomping, head-bobbing bash that begs you to come on in and join in the fun.

Release Date: June 21, 2011

Genres: Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Garage Rock

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The Strokes – One Way Trigger (2013) Review

So it seems the rumors are true! The Strokes are back! After news broke recently that a radio station in Seattlehad been sent a new Strokes single, the band goes and drops a brand new song called One Way Trigger

The track is definitely surprising; it begins with Julian Casablancas singing – or should I say crooning – in a very high pitch. At first I wasn’t even sure if I clicked on right track, but eventually we hear the Julian voice we’re all used to. The chorus is also in a very high register, which makes me wonder if this is Julian’s way of saying he’s gonna bring it on LP5? 

Whatever the case may be, the song is definitely a keeper. It seems like a natural progression from some of the very upbeat and 80’s inspired tracks from the bands last album, ‘Angles’. There are a lot of bouncy and dance-y keyboards and synths and the drums jump along in the background. Even though it’s heavily synth-driven, we do get a nice little guitar solo about half-way through the song. It’s their little reminder to the fans that they’re still a rock band.

Lyrically, it’s definitely everything you would expect from a Strokes song. Julian usually brings semi-depressing (or entirely depressing) lyrics to the table and he does exactly that with this track. Here he’s singing about a troubled relationship and trying to cope with life’s demands. “Find a job, find a plan, find a home, find a dog/ Settle down, out of town / Find a dream, shut it down!” and “You ask me to stay, but there’s a million reasons to leave” paint his unrest and longing for something more rather nicely.

The Strokes are definitely back with a winner, bringing a song that is both a continuation from their last album but also introduces new things to the their repertoire. It will be interesting see how telling this is of the entire album. We should be hearing more music pretty soon, because the track that was mentioned previously was called, “All the Time”. Hopefully it drops soon because now that they’re back I am in full-force Strokes mode!

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