Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

Each of the members in Dress Rehearsal have experienced some degree of disappointment in recent months.  Other projects they've been involved in have included situations in which people have been "mentally cut off" from one another. Coming together, though, times seemed to have changed.  The four-piece group from Toronto have started to feel the click, and with this new found motivation released The Lazy River Road, which features "River Blue" and "Morning Grey", two songs debuting Dress Rehearsal's alternative folk-rock textures.  The release was marked as an attempt "to bridge the emotional gaps between happy and sad, calm and boisterous, while building genuine cathartic moments", and between the two tracks, the goal was accomplished quite successfully. Included in their repertoire is Covers a Hillside, which has two acoustic covers written by band member Kevin Graham, one of which is a "Scenic World" cover by Beirut, one of my favorite songs.  It's a wonderful take on the original with a way more chill and laid-back approach.  Below I've posted "River Blue" and the cover for your listening pleasure, and if you've never heard the original, check it out here.

Scenic World (Beirut Cover)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Collectable Few

The Collectable Few started off by a stroke of chance when Nat Candor and Tom Christensen met Tarek Al-Shammaa in a West London pub. Nat and Tom had recently left their teenage rock band, and by coincidence found out that Tarek was also suspended in musical purgatory.  It turned out Tarek's old band members had joined the likes of The Maccabees and SBTRKT, and to avoid joining the army Tarek was working as a chef (they say his signature dish consists of seared tuna with papaya, a salsa verde and confit duck salad...awesome).  The three of them inevitably hit it off, and soon recruited drummer Alex Hammond to complete the quartet.  Influenced by certain power pop groups of the '80s like Duran Duran, The Collectable Few have released a single including "Model Behavior" and a fantastic remix of CASSETTi's "Glamour".  Energetic and dance-ready, both songs are accented with a touch of synth-beat, new wave, and even punk undertones.  Oh yeah, and it probably helps to have your tracks mixed by Andrew Maury, who has worked with the brilliant Ra Ra Riot on previous occasions.  Check out both songs below, and afterwards visit their SoundCloud for some free downloads.

 The Collectable Few - Glamour (CASSETTi) by Partisan PR

 The Collectable Few - Model Behaviour by Partisan PR

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ryan Malloy

I love music.  For me, nothing is quite as exciting as discovering a new band, tracking an album's release, or living through the evolution of a favorite group I've followed since their first song.  I'm also intrigued at how fast modern music moves; much like a stock trader feels behind in the market after going on vacation, I feel lost if I'm ever too lax in sifting through a week's worth of musical activity.  I love how the industry changes, and I love seeing those trends.  For whatever these passions may signify, though, I am still missing out on one critical aspect of music; I cannot play an instrument.  Not one. Blame it on whatever you want, a lack of patience, time, or skill, but I just can't do it as much as I've tried.  This may very well be the reason why I'm so envious of those who can play, and especially those who have the unwavering determination to improve their craft.  Ryan Malloy is a prime example of someone in which I can direct my jealousies. At the beginning of the year Malloy set a lofty goal for himself, one that most people would deem impossible; play 1000 hours of guitar in one year.  Why?  To get better. Remarkably better.  This way he could also gain the confidence to perform his material live and release an album that displays his technique, Ready Or Not.  Influenced by progressive rock and metal, Malloy shows off similar styles solo, using only an electric guitar and his voice to experiment with the various sounds.  Also a brilliant writer, Malloy tracks his progress on a blog for the world to see.  All of this is very impressive to me, so in order to get inside his head I had the pleasure of sitting down with him to talk about music, life, and what drives him to do the insane things that he does.  Feel free to read the interview below, but you can also listen to some tracks at the bottom of the page.  Enjoy.

Tell me a little bit about your background.  What was the moment that first made you pick up a guitar and start playing?
Ahhhh, that was a good moment.  I was in my brother's room and saw his Ibanez sitting under his bed, and on a whim I just said to myself "You know what?  I'm gonna teach myself how to play guitar".  He looked at me and said "No one can do that, you can't just teach yourself how to play guitar".  I may not have taken it that seriously at the time, but once he said that I was like "Well now I gotta prove you wrong" [laughs].  So I've spent the last 8 years doing just that, proving him wrong.  Showing that you can just pick up an instrument and teach yourself.

So you've never had any formal training or instructor to teach you how to play?
Not on guitar.  I mean before I played guitar I took bass in middle school, so I had to take bass lessons for that. Stand up bass, not electric bass.  Other than that, which doesn't in any way effect my playing now, yeah I've never taken any lessons.

So you started off college as a math major with no real intention of pursuing music as a career.  What was the turning point where you said "Hey, maybe this happen!"?
I was at this place called the Worldwide Center of Mathematics, which produces digital calculus textbooks, and I was writing the solution manual for integral calculus, which is thrilling as you can imagine.  There was this one problem that I kept trying to do, and I would just sit down and be like "All right, you know what?  I'm just gonna get it done". Then I would stare at it for like 20 seconds and be like "Ehhh maybe I'll just work on something else and come back to it", and I did this like 10 times.  Eventually I just buckled down and I thought I'd write down everything I know on the board, write down everything I'm trying to prove, write down the names of theorems that might be relevant, and just don't stop writing stuff until you've figured it out.  So I'm staring at the little white board I was writing on, just kinda staring at it, and was like "Know what?  Fuck this".  So I took my sharpie and without thinking about it started writing on the board: "There is no clearer indication that I should not go to grad school than my complete lack of interest and lack of ability to do this problem, I was put on this planet to make music".  It was all a stream of consciousness, I wasn't even thinking about what I was writing.  I kinda took a step back and stared at it, and thought "This feels right. This is normal!".  It also helped that there was some beautiful Porcupine Tree music playing in the background.  It was very inspiring.  Delicious.  But yeah, once I read that I thought "Cool, let's roll with that!"  I just had, like, this wave of energy man and I just rolled with that wave, surfing that energy wave [laughs].

So I've heard from a lot of people that when someone is good at math, or thinks mathematically, that it also translate into being good at music, that music is very mathematical.  As a musician and someone who is also great at math, do you find this to be true?  If so, does it help you?
No, that's bullshit [laughs].  Anyone who says that, that their mathematical abilities translate to their musical abilities, probably doesn't really understand what math is about.

Really?  That's interesting because I've heard that a few times.
Yeah, well the few people you've talked to are probably stupid [laughs].  Maybe lower level math, like the stuff you do in middle school, there might be some kind of a correlation.  At the college level, though, the kind of math we do is so abstract.  I mean there comes a point where you basically stop using numbers, and there are symbols and strings of characters.  How can that possibly correlate to music!?  Maybe deep down there is some kind of magical spark in the brain that controls both mathematical thinking and musical thinking, but when you look at the kind of stuff you study in college, no.  There is no real relation in my humble opinion.

Earlier you mentioned Porcupine Tree, is that a band that inspires you?  What other artists and bands inspire you when it comes to making music?
Ummmm, Porcupine Tree a little bit.  That's one of those bands where I kind of have to be in the right mood for, but yeah I totally respect their music.  The big influences over time have been The Red Hot Chili Peppers, at first when I started playing guitar that was all I was listening to, that flavored a lot of stuff a lot of stuff I do, there's always a little bit of that funk.  But more recently I've been in to Dream Theater, cause John Petrucci, the guitarist for them, he's just a god at guitar.  It's absurd what he can do.

You like those Youtube videos where he destroys the universe with a guitar?
[Laughs] Yeah where he shreds like 60 million notes and then everyone dies.  But yeah, not only do I love the music he creates, but just his philosophy and what he has to say about it inspires me to be the best possible version of myself that I can be.  And it's a similar sort of relationship with Steve Vai's music.  He has somewhat of a different philosophy towards music, like Petrucci is a technique mastermind, but Steve Vai is more of an expressive genius.  He does a lot of interesting stuff with the whammy bar, and he's known for sounding weird but creating these textures that no one else does. But the thing they have in common is that they're both really excellent musicians and really excellent songwriters, so between the two of those I'm like "Wow.  I need to be like these guys".

It seems to me that the stuff you're in to falls under the "progressive" category, like progressive metal or progressive rock.  You're music also sounds progressive, just without the backing band.  I'll be honest, to me it seems "progressive" has died down a little bit, the only bands I know of in the present are groups like Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Mastodon, and perhaps the Mars Volta.  What's your take on the current progressive metal and progressive rock scene?
I don't know if I'd be the best person to ask the about the "scene", but yeah I love progressive stuff, I love pushing things in new directions and experimenting with different time signatures.  I realize that's never going to be THE most popular type of music, people are still going to like their 4/4 signature and their bass beats and stuff like that.  But I do think there is a fairly sizable minority of people out there who really do appreciate this kind of experimental progressive stuff.  People who can take something they've never heard and instead of saying "Huh, that's different", they actually think about it and it challenges their perception of what music is limited to.  So yeah, I'm never going to be the guy that everyone loves, and that's fine, but I do think there are people out there who can appreciate what I'm trying to do with music.

Talking a little more about the lack of a band, do you find it difficult producing as a solo artist without having members to bounce ideas off of or record with?
No, it's basically all I know at this point.  I've never tried recording with a band so I don't have a point of comparison.  The solitary creative process, the reason why I love it so much, is that when you have a particular idea in your head, like a melody and a harmony that you think would sound really good together, when you've got other people to record with or you're willing to lay down multiple tracks to make a recording happen, then it becomes really easy to make these ideas a reality.  You can have the bass player play this melody and then the guitar playing a harmony on top of it, but when it's just you sitting by yourself and you're having these ideas that are easy for multiple people, the same ideas can be very difficult to execute for one person.  So by forcing yourself, or forcing myself, to play by myself it forces me to become a better player in order to achieve the ideas I want.

A lot of your songs are instrumental, but on the songs that you flex your voice the result is pretty fantastic.  Do you plan on being more lyrical in your future songs?
Hmmmm, it kinda depends.  Right now I'm working on a concept album that has a very clear-cut story that needs to be told.  So with that I don't really have a choice, the songs need to convey the ideas, so I'm making a point of writing lyrics for each and every song.  But other than concept stuff, no.  I don't really feel any pressure to make more songs with lyrics.  I am totally comfortable with writing instrumentals, probably more comfortable than writing songs with lyrics, it comes naturally to me.

Let's talk about the blog for a little bit.  Why did you start one?  What made you want to publicize your quest for 1000 hours in a year?
I don't really know.  The idea of adding a blog to it just popped into my head and seemed like a natural fit.  There are two reasons why I think the 1000-hour quest is valuable for me; one is with that many practice hours I'm going to get better.  Like, that's the point.  If I'm not getting better for practicing 1000 hours then I'm doing something seriously wrong.  But I think the other reason why it's valuable is that any time you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you learn things about yourself and what you're doing that are worth reflecting on.  And I think anything worth reflecting on is worth sharing, you know?  I try to extract ideas and lessons from what I'm doing that I think are applicable to a lot of different fields and interests.  So why wouldn't I share it? It seems logical.

You mention going outside of the comfort zone, and for a large majority of people 1000 hours of guitar is way out of the comfort zone.  With that said, what kind of reaction do you normally get from people who hear about this goal of yours?
At first I kind of kept it to myself, at least before I started doing the blog.  Then, I dunno, I don't think people were too surprised.  I mean, I do weird shit [laughs].  I try to, well, I dunno, I'm trying to think of a good way to phrase this without sounding like a pretentious cock, but I usually do things differently.  I'm known within my friends as being the guy who is not gonna do things the same way as everyone else.  I mean, the simplest example is the fact that I don't drink.  I'm not even Mormon man, I just don't want to, shit like that.  Everyone else is gonna be talking about sports, I'll be talking about how I'm gonna be changing the world and fucking arrogant shit like that [laughs]. Plus before I started the quest, I already spent a lot of time sitting on my chair playing guitar, so it wasn't really that surprising for people I don't think.

At the time of this interview, you're 114 hours ahead of schedule.  Your required pace puts you at 423 hours, yet you have completed 536.5 hours!  This goal almost seems easy for you.  It's sort of what you were saying, that you play a lot already, is this just natural for you?  Was this a normal pace you were keeping up already?
Well, I started the quest during the summer when I was sort of employed, but not really [laughs].  I had a lot of spare time.  During the summer, I said to myself "You know it's going to get really hectic during the school year, so try and get as far ahead of schedule now as you can".  So by the time school started, I was already 30 or 40 hours ahead of schedule, which was good.  As my interest in schoolwork waned, and my interest in guitar got stronger, I found it really easy to keep up with the pace I did over the summer just by not doing homework [laughs].  I can always make hours up over the weekend, too, like I feel totally comfortable just spending literally an entire Saturday just playing guitar.  There's one day I literally sat and played guitar for 10 hours!  That's not normal behavior!

That's a lot.
Yeah [laughs].  By the end of it my brain and fingers were totally fucking fried, but it felt good!  I do it cause I love it, man.  Once you get moving it's just not a chore anymore. Of course there are some days you just don't wanna fucking do it, you wanna watch Youtube videos and pull your wiener, but there other days you just don't wanna stop.  So why should I?  Am I really going to stop and do homework?

Is that the shift that has happened, where guitar has become more important to you than schoolwork?  Has it become the situation where it's like "Shit, I have homework, so now I can't play guitar"?
Yeah pretty much.  I wish I could say schoolwork interests me as much as it did before, which is not to say I was ever a straight-A student or anything like that, but I was interested in what I was learning.  I didn't want to be one of those college kids that was there because they want a degree; I was genuinely interested in learning more about math, computer science, physics, and all of those shenanigans.  But now, yeah, it's sad to admit it but I am becoming that person who is there because they need a degree.

Well, we all are!
Yeah [laughs].  There are plenty of people in that position, so might as well join the club.

Which modern music website, like Myspace or Bandcamp for example, has helped you the most in getting your name recognized?
Well, I put all of my music on Bandcamp because people can download and listen to it for free.

Yeah, as someone looking from the outside, it seems to be absolutely fantastic. Sometimes I browse that site for hours on end.
Oh yeah, it's a very simple, clean, interface.  Before Bandcamp I tried using ReverbNation and it's so cluttered and noisy, you can't even find on the screen where the play button is!  But with Bandcamp, it's very simple.  There's just one purpose; the song, with a little description, the lyrics and maybe another link.  That's it.  I like that, simple is good.  With that I try and do grassroots promotion, I post on a couple forums and engage with that community.  I try not to shove it people's faces though, I am just like "Hey, here is a piece I am working on.  Feedback?"  Just see what people have to say and start a conversation.

You've found that helpful?
Yeah!  A perfect example is when I was trying to decide what cover art to use for "Ready Or Not", my friend Hannah came up with three different ideas that we could've used for the artwork, and rather than just deciding between me and her, I said "Why not let the internet decide?  Whichever one people are most drawn to we'll just use that one".  So I posted on a couple of different threads and forms saying "Just vote!  Tell me what you think!"  I also posted it with a link to the music so they could have a better idea of what the artwork will be for, and it was a real legitimate way of interacting with the community.  Their feedback was useful, and it wasn't a way of tricking them of thinking about the music or listening to it, I was genuinely curious about what they had to say. So I tallied up the votes, picked the one people like the most, and that's why you got the cover that you got.

Your album title is "Ready Or Not", you're album cover is you standing majestically against a backlight, it seems like you're trying to make a statement.  Is that what this album is to you?  A statement?
I didn't have a particular statement in mind when I was putting it together, it's just like hey I've got music!  Might as well record it!  I guess the overall message is what we were talking about before; the idea of one man, one guitar, and then exploring what is possible with just that configuration.  That explains why a lot of genres are represented on the album.  I am mainly a progressive rock or metal kind of guy, but I try and push myself out of my comfort zone with stuff like "Beantown Jamboree", which is a very jazzy number. Then there's "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond", which is a Scottish folk tune.  So while they may sound very different musically, they still go along with that message of one guy, one guitar, what can we do?  So I think it does form a cohesive message overall.

If you could play any place in the world, where it would be?
I want it be somewhere big [laughs].  I imagine myself just sitting on a stage with bright stage lights of all different colors and thousands of people staring at me.  I know that if that ever does happen it's going to take a while, I'm not delusional or anything. But in terms of city, I'm going to school is Boston, and I know that a lot of the Dream Theater guys studied in Boston.  So yea, maybe Boston.  I mean that's where a lot of my music was written and it's where I spend a lot of time practicing.  So if I could ever play a huge show, I think it would be awesome to be in Boston, maybe at the Orpheum Theater where I recently saw Dream Theater.  Just knowing I had gotten to the point where I was on the same stage they had been on, like oh my god, that would be so great [laughs].

And how was Dream Theater live?
It was tasty.  It was sooooo fucking good!  I can't even describe it.  Before that moment, the band members had been an idea, you couldn't even see them as real people.  But then there they are on stage, 20 feet from me, like oh my god!  These are real dudes making sounds right in front of me!

John Petrucci didn't kill you with his guitar?
No, not THAT many people died that night [laughs].

So to finish things off, what can fans expect from you in the future?  Where does Ryan Malloy go from here?
Ummm, I guess more of the same in sense of one man, one guitar.  But I'm always trying to incorporate more musical ideas and new techniques, I never wanna be someone who makes the same old junk over and over again.  Pretty much every song I write I try to find something that I can't do, something I physically can't play at the time that I'm writing it so that I have to get better in order to play the songs that I'm writing.  In that sense, my music will always be getting better, at least in my eyes.  Whether it's going to be better musically for the audience, well, time will tell [laughs].  I can still hope for the best!  For a non-musician looking at a musician who is obsessed with technique, it may not always be clear how that person is progressing or what they're doing differently.  You may think "Oh, you've already learned everything!  What else is there to do?"  But no, there is always something you can't do.  Anything you CAN do, there is always a way you can add a layer of complexity to it, even something as simple as playing faster.  So yeah, that's the future for me, just working on technique, some new musical ideas, and hopefully putting together another album sometime in the near future.

Below are the songs "Coming Back For You", "I'll Do It By Myself", and "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond"  from Ready Or Not.  Be sure to hit up his Bandcamp for a free download, his Facebook for any further information, and of course his 1000 Hours blog to follow his progress.

Coming Back for You

I'll Do It By Myself

The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


19-year-old Harley Streten, an Australian who goes by the name Flume, has quite a knack for the creation of sampled and remixed beats. Such talent has to start somewhere I suppose, and for Streten it was a music production program he discovered within the depths of a cereal the age of 13.  Why didn't I ever find anything so awesome in Corn Flakes when I was younger? The song that really caught my attention was "Sleepless (ft. Anthony for Cleopatra)", a track off the self-titled single Sleepless, which also includes two other songs "Over You" and "Paper Thin".  All of his stuff is very electronica oriented, and while this can sometimes mean a more upbeat or danceable result, Flume is definitely geared toward a more chill environment.  The holidays are coming quick and it can be a stressful time for many, so take a breather and throw on some of the songs below.  I've posted "Sleepless (ft. Anthony for Cleopatra)" and "Zimbabwe (Flume Remix)".  Jump on over to SoundCloud to look at some of his other stuff as well as some downloads.  Enjoy!

 Sleepless (ft. Anthony For Cleopatra) by Flume

 Zimbabwe (Flume Remix) by Flume

Monday, November 21, 2011


It's hard to imagine anyone not liking some laid-back, breezy, Cali-influenced lo-fi guitar ballads.  It feels like the purest form of post-surf music, much like the addicting melodies of Real Estate are a symbol to lazy summer afternoons.  Although slightly differing in sound, both styles come from the same idea: serenity.  A place of relaxation.  GRMLN, a solo artist from Santa Cruz, is one of the newer performers in the Beach Fossils type of lo-fi beach rock.  Recorded in his house, his three-song EP First Phase is a fantastic collection that debuts his oceanfront vision.  Clocking in at just over 7 minutes, First Phase is a little gem hidden within a sea of bedroom releases.  It accomplishes exactly what it's set out to do, to place the listener on a pier in southern California, the sun just about to dip below the horizon on a warm June evening.  Check out "Depressions" from the EP below, and if you like it, the whole thing is free over at his Bandcamp, so hurry on over to snag it before he changes his mind.  Trust me it's totally worth it.


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Black Bull

His name is M. Perri, and he calls himself The Black Bull. The name is striking, a bold statement that exudes a confidence which isn't too arrogant.  Put simply, I get the impression that Perri is self-assured.  And why not? As a singer/songwriter, he has been able to put out three fantastic folk-driven tunes, all of which include an array of instruments from drums, guitar, and piano recorded solo (a feat I always find impressive).  It's also apparent that he isn't afraid to take risks, on the "The Great Unknown" Perri doesn't hesitate to reach a falsetto that one could only dream of trying.  As his main single, "The Great Unknown" serves as a theme to his journey into the music word.  "Steppin' into the great unknown..." is sung in repetition, and it might as well act as metaphor for his new album's release.  After all, in the music industry you never know what you're gonna get....but with such talent and a brilliant compilation of songs, whose to say it's not possible?  I've posted two of those songs below, "Faint Young Sun" and "The Great Unknown", so be sure to give those a listen.  If you dig em, head out to the ol' Soundcloud to listen to "Your Lips For Mine"; you can also download all of them for free.  What's not to love?

 Faint Young Sun by The Black Bull

 The Great Unknown by The Black Bull

See you all next week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jensen Sportag

Well, it turns out that my perception of Jensen Sportag has been completely misconstrued for the past couple of months.  Since I've started listening to the Pure Wet EP I carried this impression that Jensen Sportag was simply a name of the musician, a single person who was native to a Scandinavian country.  The music seemed to fit the bill too, for a lot of fantastic electronic influenced indie artists have been emerging from countries like Norway and Sweden lately.  This is why we should never assume; I found out recently that Jensen Sportag is actually a moniker for the duo of Austin Wilkinson and Benjamin Craig, and they're from Nashville, TN.  I'm pretty embarrassed by this.  Pure Wet was the first EP I fell in love with this year, and it was with me for a lot of my initial travels when studying abroad, providing a kind of theme that became pretty important to me.  Regardless, I'm pretty surprised that Pure Wet hasn't earned more attention since its February release earlier this year.  The 4-song collection pulls sounds from an array of domains; funk, synthpop, and jazz can all be thrown into the mix.  Soft lounge music isn't too wild of a description, and yet neither is a tamed form of techno or a subdued, mature Prince-like '80s style.  What's impressive is that despite all of these seemingly contrasting labels, the EP has a great flow and has the ability to remain unified under a common idea.  Ultimately, it's a listen that goes down oh so smooth. All right, enough writing.  Posted below is "Mapquest" and "Everything Good" from the Pure Wet EP.  If you like these, check out their Soundcloud to listen to the whole thing and their main homepage to listen to their "Wet Mix" and find out any addition info. Peace.

 Mapquest by Jensen Sportag

 Everything Good by Jensen Sportag

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Young Dreams

Since the Australian label Modular started a joint-venture with EMI in 1998, they've done a great job at recruiting an all-star roster. The list of bands involved include some of my favorites; Cut Copy, Tame Impala, Chromeo, and The Avalanches all call Modular home.  The newest signing is the huge Norwegian group called Young Dreams, a 12-person "collective" of indie pop practitioners.  The cool thing is that the band's roots go deep, and they derive their inspiration from a multitude of areas.  The original creator of Young Dreams, Matias Tellez, has been quoted as saying "I am a big fan of the harmonies and arrangements of the romantic period of classical music".  His inspirations also include Martin Denny (a lounge music pioneer) and Waldo de los Rios (an Argentine composer).  With these influences in mind, along with a large band, one can only imagine what's to come out.  The answer is the aptly named single "Young Dreams", a pop gem textured with minor synths and, of course, beautiful harmonies.  Gotta love the lyrics:  "Like sailors we set for the sea, we're restless, that's why we keep on moving, not empty, because of our young dreams".  Watch out for these guys!

 Young Dreams by Young Dreams

Friday, November 11, 2011


Artists such as Four Tet, The Field, and Pantha Du Prince pretty much make a living out of constructing beats.  Their songs are usually instrumental, and yet these guys are so talented that a full album can be carried just on grooves and rhythms alone.  A lot of the time, just the song name can give away the intended story that lyrics would have filled in, but with such skill, the excess words are not needed.
"She Just Likes To Fight" is a perfect example of an instrumental piece that exudes a narrative without even saying anything, it's understood just by the title.  Another band emerging with a similar formula for beat-making is Nouveaunoise, an Irish duo with a knack for creating organic electronica.  Last year's album, Paraphrase Accolade, falls into that category; it also carries a lot of influence from glitch hop, and in some instances jazz.  It's pretty cool, and definitely worth breezing through.  The best part is that it's offered as a free download!  I've posted "Goni" from Paraphrase Accolade below, and if you dig it be sure to grab the album at Bandcamp.  You can also view the entire thing at their Soundcloud.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sound and the Urgency

Sound and the Urgency's "White Kids", a spacious folktroncia ballad that's as dramatic as it catchy, has been stimulating interest amongst the webscape recently with it's mix of experimental "guitar-drenched electro pop" and heavy sentiment.  Yet upon hearing the remainder of the album, the self-titled Sound and the Urgency, I found that the Portland songwriter has even more to offer.  The 10-song record is loaded with ambition, striving to achieve a spectrum of moods that range from uptempo folk to emotional indie-rock, and as mentioned before, elements of folktronica.  At points it's even fair to say that many of the tracks carry country undertones.  It's most certainly a contemplative release, one which permeates a sense of feeling; sometimes there's anguish, sometimes anger, and at other times disappointment.  Below I've posted two songs from Sound and the Urgency, "Killing Communists With a Smile" and "Sound and the Urgency", both which also include a free download from Soundcloud.  If you like what you hear, you can also check out his Bandcamp to get the rest of the album or find more information at his Facebook.  Chhhhheeeccckkkk it.

 Killing communists with a smile by Sound and the Urgency

 Sound and the Urgency by Sound and the Urgency

Monday, November 7, 2011

Takagi and Fitz

In contrast to today's earlier post of non-club dance music, I figured I'd throw something at you for all the house lovers out there.  It's a catchy remix that borrows from "Calling" by Alesso and Sebastian Ingrosso while featuring vocals from "It's Not My Problem" by Sneaky Sound System.  Man oh man!  If only I had some massive sub-woofers to throw this on I am pretty positive I could get people movin with this mash-up.  The duo bringing it to you is Takagi and Fitz, techno-rockers from the great city of Vancouver. This isn't the only thing they've given us, though, if you head over to their Soundcloud you can listen to a whole bunch more of the songs.  Some can even be downloaded for free, including "It's Not My Calling", which you can preview below.  Get dancing.

Future Islands

Future Islands doesn't make what you'd consider prototypical dance music.  To start, lead-singer Sam Herring's voice is atypical, deeper and raspier than the normal vocalist.  It's not techno either, instead presenting itself as slower and more brooding than the average club beat.  Yet, this year's On the Water still manages to include some heavy bass-lines with a surprising amount of head bopping material.  Thrown into somewhat of a "post-wave" genre, Future Islands utilizes a great deal of synthesizers with a fair number of uptempo rhythms.  To some degree it's "intelligent dance", with lyrics that explore emotionality instead of how many shots someone can take and cadences that promote tapping your feet rather than jumping around.  This isn't a bad thing at all, it just may not be what you're looking for at a bar or club; On the Water is simply more of a dance party in your head.  I've posted the songs "Balance" and "Before the Bridge" below, have a listen to see what you think.  Enjoy!


Before The Bridge

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club

The London-based quartet of Bombay Bicycle Club have been good about putting out new material at a constant rate.  They've released a new album every year for the past three years, a feat that can be difficult to achieve.  Over the course of this time the band has slowly been growing in popularity, attracting a following large enough to place them on UK's music charts.  Even so, this year's LP A Different Kind of Fix may be the one that really helps them soar, likely due to a slight change in their approach (hence the album title, perhaps?).  Indie rock peppered with folk influences has always been the group's MO, especially on 2010's Flaws, which is a somber, acoustic drawl of melancholy-laden arrangements.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the newly found confidence, charm, and creativity found in A Different Kind of Fix makes their previous works feel unsubstantial.  They have reached a comfortability level much higher here than before, experimenting with new tempos and energies, sounding more upbeat and fun overall. There are also a few songs presented that are easy to fall back on, a backbone of sorts, that was largely lacking prior.  "Shuffle" is a prime example of all the aforementioned criteria, a catchy tune supported by an addicting piano accompaniment which in turn creates something more alluring and (dare I say it?) poppy.  Whatever, don't knock it 'til you try it!  "Lights Out, Words Gone", "Shuffle", and "Take the Right One" posted below, check it.

Lights Out, Words Gone


Take the Right One

A best of weekends to everyone.  See ya next week.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


L.A.'s Alekesam writes on their biography that their music is like "the sound of a state of mind".  This is fitting, considering their single "It's Not You, It's Here" is like a meandering drift of thought...a reflective demonstration of inner tension.  It's their first single from their upcoming album, coincidentally named It's Not You, It's Here.  The track is a laid-back crossroads incorporating elements from an array of music styles; intertwining pieces of hip-hop, jazz, blues, and R&B.  The vocals also take on a variety of moods, a times sounding at ease, while in other moments erupting into a shameless love-cry.  Similar to other songs, "It's Not You, It's Here" truly shines on a good pair of headphones, where each detail (including that awesome bass line) really reveals itself. Some of you may also recognize it from the TV show "Entourage", where it shows up on the 3rd episode on the most recent season.  I've posted the song on SoundCloud below, where Alekesam has also offered it up for a free download.  So take a listen and then snag it up.

You can get more info and check out any further updates over at Facebook.