Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Big Pink - Velvet (video)

"Poison in my head"

Again, another great shoegaze track. You know the drill, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain, droning guitars, analog synths, loads of reverb, etc. Personally, I also love two specific things about The Big Pink and "Velvet": their great ear for anthemic melodies and the fact that the guitar volume never stops rising until the very end, with the exception of a small breakout. The video suits the track really well too (i.e., it's amazing and slightly disturbing in the best possible way).

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Polaroids # 29

The Ruby Suns live @ ZDB

(Pictures taken on the 28th of March 2009 at Zé Dos Bois in Lisbon, Portugal)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

CFCF - Panesian Nights EP

Give me an analog synthesizer, I'll give you the world. This must be what's on the mind of every electro-house act out there, but apparently there are still ways to sound fresh and vital with one of those in your hands. Enter Montreal act CFCF (aka 21-year old Mike Silver), with his old school jams, so irresistible and simple that your brain will explode. Or not. But still, it's hard not to have the most fun out of these vintage sounds and retro grooves. Interesting also that nothing in here needs to be too uptempo to achieve its goals, giving space for the wonky robotic synths to fully breath and shine. Did I mention I have a thing for robots too? (7,5/10)

CFCF - Crystal Mines (video)

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Faunts - Feel. Love. Thinking. Of.

Coming from Alberta in Canada, this 5-piece band may not invent the wheel or anything remotely close, but I can never get enough of hearing these sort of sounds. "Feel. Love. Thinking. Of." is a collection of disarming and affecting songs that take half of their inspiration following shoegaze rulebook, then adding some nice electronic touches on top. But the intricate production is just part of the equation, supporting something ultimately much simpler: that beautiful melancholy usually coming from something which is already gone but still gives fuzzy warm memories. The conforting voices and melodies do the rest. And just as if following a painful break-up, the question arises right from the beginning: it's good be back home, no? (7/10)

Faunts - Feel. Love. Thinking. Of. (mp3):

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Erik Hassle - Hurtful (video)

"From the bottom of my heart"

Since when have power-ballads started being so damm good? This song by Swedish newcomer Erik Hassle touches all the right pleasure spots so effectively and unashamedly well that, before you realize it, pretty soon you'll be singing it out loud in the shower with all the heart and drama. Yes, it's that catchy and emotional and every sorts of pop-brilliance! And by the way, its highly-sexualized video that you can see above may be NSFW - but hey, it's Springtime, etc.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Parts & Labor - Receivers

Playing an unique mixture of experimental rock, punk and noise, Parts & Labor were always a safe source to expect the unexpected, but with their fourth full-length album "Receivers", they have really outdone themselves. After "Mapmaker" and its rhythmic cataclysms in 2007, their new sound has now turned into a big and insanely anthemic affair to hear at full-volume, hands-in-the-air. Depending less on the frantic rhythmic section, this time the focus is more on, uh, where to start? Frankly, it's almost impossible to discern everything that happens in here, with so many layers of expansive sounds juxtaposing themselves and demanding for our attention as if our life depended on that. Pulsating guitars compete with spiraling keyboards, twisted electronics and driving drums and bass, while even ZX Spectrum sounds or a bagpipe (!) can be heard, all immersed in a torrent of hair-raising noise. Such a dense approach, with so many multi-layered sonic elements put together, would be inconsequential, were it not for the fact that they exist for what seems like the ultimate reason: to support uplifting major-key melodies, taking each song to a higher-than-life state of glorious celebration. (8/10)

Parts & Labor - Nowheres Nigh (mp3):

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fever Ray - Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer Andersson has stated many times that her solo material as Fever Ray has to be seen as a work in progress which, in the end, will form a complete view of what she wants from it - something she has mentioned was still not entirely known. Judging from what we have so far, we're in for something really special. The amazing video for "If I Had A Heart" was the first approach to this particular universe, then came the second and also amazing clip for "When I Grow Up" (see below) and now the album. It's inevitable to see "Fever Ray" as some sort of follow-up to "Silent Shout", the latest album from The Knife, the main project she maintains with her brother Olof Dreijer. But there are some huge differences, which are mainly due to the fact that this time, being a solo work, things get much more personal. This reflects in the songs mood, which can be seen as what would happen if The Knife started applying their unique twisted universe to folk music. The result would probably be a collection of bare stripped-down songs with altered voices, spooky keyboards and a mysterious atmosphere throughout, and that's exactly what we get in "Fever Ray". Also not to be ignored is the almost impossible feature of managing to keep the dark atmospheres of The Knife while writing songs that seem much more intimate, minimal and, ultimately, focused. As if the scary thoughts and images (and believe me, they are still here, although much more silent and subtle) were now coming from the inside instead of the exterior. Ah, the beauty of opening our heart to the world... (8,5/10)

Fever Ray - When I Grow Up (video)

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Optimo - Sleepwalk

As far as DJ collections go, this one couldn't be further from the norm. There's nothing in here that resembles nowadays definition of "dance music", nor is this also your average chill-out selection. Instead what we get is a key to enter a parallel universe, one that follows a particular mood/atmosphere and then explores it, throwing in a lot of different sounds and names to defy expectations in an almost subtle way. And as far as definitions go, you can identify krautrock, country-soul, anti-folk, bluegrass, spiritual jazz, industrial blisses or obscure ambient tracks, and names like Coil, Tuxedomoon, Cluster, Eno, Arthur Russell or Duke Ellington. But what matters is how everything was put together in a very cohesive way, to reach a higher purpose: building a subterranean journey that really wants to tell a story. This sort of goal is actually what every DJ should aim for, and with "Sleepwalk", this Glasgow-based duo has done just that. Truth to be told, not everything is flawless, as the dark drones and dreamy ambient tones of the first half work much better than the eclectic twists of the more-upbeat second half. But even that doesn't spoil the overall impression: more than a mixtape, what we have in here is a blur of abstract and slightly creepy musical beauty, aimed for the mind. (7,5/10)

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Cute name, isn't it? And it does make a lot of sense when hearing their music. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart may not seek to invent a new genre, but their take into indie-pop (or twee, as it has been known) is fresh enough to become purely irresistible. With this debut album, these four New Yorkers have managed to put out an unpretentious collection of affecting songs, of the kind that comes from the heart with a disarming sincerity and urgency. Powerful and catchy songs about summer romances, life-changing books and movies, or teenage love, with gorgeous harmonies and sparkling melodies sung in an unaffected and cool voice. Of course, there's also the many layers of loud noise and reverb-loaded guitars that may recall shoegaze and Jesus & Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine, but that's just one side of the equation...the whole thing ends up oozing an atmosphere of fuzzy dreams and sweet melancholic afternoons, of those you don't want to forget too soon. (8,5/10)

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You (video)

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