Category: Music

Music reviews

Review: The Plague & Beekeeping

Cassette Fighter - The Plague & Beekeeping
Cassette Fighter – The Plague & Beekeeping

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’m friends with one-half of Cassette Fighter. (I’m a well-wisher of the other half… we just haven’t talked a whole lot or anything.  It’s not a drama thing or anything.  Sorry for being boring!)  That said, everything I say is true and what I’d say if I didn’t know any members of the band at all.  Also, a very close friend did the cover art.  So there’s that too.

I’ve been really digging The Plague & Beekeeping, the debut EP from Cassette Fighter.  I’m a sucker for synth-based music anyway, so I’m kind of predisposed to like this.  There’s a little bit of a Kumquat vibe here on the opening track, “The Big Hate” with its use of sampling to create a vocal track for a wonderfully dreamy track.   Continue reading

Review: Tolerance

Incan Abraham - Tolerance
Incan Abraham – Tolerance

Incan Abraham’s new album Tolerance comes out today on White Iris Records.  It’s a nice slice of indie pop, ranging from the kind of dreamy, drifting kind of sound, mingling of synthesizers and traditional instruments seamlessly.  Especially in the percussion, there’s a bit of the world music influence you can hear in bands like Vampire Weekend — but without the really weird production on the Vampire Weekend stuff that makes it sound like it was recorded in a warehouse.  Seriously, what’s with that? Continue reading

Review: Two Magpies

10003843_807088345987845_704564460_oQuimper has a new EP out today (free from their Bandcamp page), Two Magpies out on Soft Bodies Records, who also put out the outstanding Utility Music by Gyratory System. The two records aren’t very similar in sound, but they both are very similar in feel.  Both would be at home on Ralph Records, but where Gyratory System took the more experimental path, Quimper are a bit poppier.  Think perhaps Renaldo & The Loaf versus early Yello — both Ralph bands, but different paths in the same park. Continue reading

Review: Sirens

Sirens cover art
Sirens cover art

I like albums that sneak up on a listener.  Sirens, the fourth record by Christopher Bell is like that.  Bell uses his looped vocals to create textures along with his cello.  The result is a record that sounds like some sort of mix between Björk’s Medulla, Todd Rundgren’s A Capella, the work of Zoë Keating and some of Sean Altman’s stuff — Bell’s pop hooks is the world of Rundgren and Altman, where the artiness and interesting arrangements are similar to Björk and Keating.  But the mix is all Bell’s own.  Sirens isn’t going to take the place of any of these records, nor could any of these records replace Sirens.  They’re all good but different, even if there is some DNA shared.  So, unless you think kids are just lame rip-offs of their parents, it is an unfair slight to call Sirens derivative by any means.   Continue reading

Review: DEVO – The Complete Truth about De-Evolution

Cover of "The Complete Truth About De-Evolution"
Cover of “The Complete Truth About De-Evolution

Sometimes, I find it odd that there were not more comprehensive collections of music videos by bands released during the Golden Age of DVD. Plenty were released, though they were largely cash-in budget titles, with little regard to quality, curation, or historical context. The music video collection occupies a space akin to the Greatest Hits album, with the extra requirement of demanding your eyes, as well as your ears. In this post-MTV era, the music video is best suited for YouTube over disc. Continue reading

Review: Apparition

Apparition Cover
The cover to “Apparition”.

Edward Ka-Spel‘s brilliance with The Legendary Pink Dots is to introduce us to isolated characters and then immerse us in their world-view through expansive and mysterious soundscapes. He begins with the most restricted, infinitesimal point of consciousness and then slowly expands it outward towards a state of ‘cosmic consciousness’ (to use the phrase of 1960s psychonauts). Musically, he often follows this template of expansion, with simple melody lines repeating and layering in increased complexity of texture. Much of the LPD’s music is an undertaking to help the listener (and perhaps composer) escape his/her own head. Lyrical phrases, musical motifs, album titles and themes recur across decades, but tonal shifts between albums are slow and subtle.  Hopefully, The Legendary Dots Project, like the Residents and Sparks projects before, will provide the keen reader and listener with a giddy entry-point into the Legendary Pink Dots’ musical world. Fulfil the prophecy! Continue reading

Review: Four Foot Shack

Cover of Four Foot Shack
Cover of “Four Foot Shack”

Listeners of Crush On Radio know full well my love (as well as Andrew’s) of Primus and the work of Les Claypool.  So it should have been a given that I’d be picking up the new album Four Foot Shack from Les’ new Duo De Twang, a country group with Bryan Kehoe from M.I.R.V. The album is almost all covers — the only original song is the brief introductory track, “Four Foot Shack”, though a little more than half are covers of Les’ various other bands (so does that count as a cover?), including two from Primus, a couple from the Frog Brigade, and one from his first solo record, Highball With The Devil (“Hendershot”, one of my favorite tracks from that record, as it turns out). Continue reading

Review: All That Glitters Is A Maresnest

All That Glitters Is A Maresnest

Cardiacs were a wonderful band — pretty much any given lineup of the band is going to be awesome, but the lineup on the All That Glitters Is A Maresnest concert film is probably my favorite lineup.  Or at least one of them, since, well, probably all the various Cardiacs lineups are my favorite.  But this one especially so — I love Sarah Smith’s sax and William D. Drake’s keys and, well, just about everything.

Continue reading

Review: Utility Music

Gyratory System - Utility Music
Gyratory System – Utility Music

Utility Music is Gyratory System’s third album (out today!), and I feel a bit silly for having not known them until now.  It’s a combination of all sorts of things I like — electronica with live instruments in the mix, krautrock influences, and, well, the first track is named “John Frum” after the patron saint of cargo cults!  In fact, if you’re a fan of Krautrock in general, I’d highly recommend this album.  It’s not a mere pastiche, but rather an extension of the genre. Continue reading

Review: Run Fast

Run Fast by the Julie Ruin
Run Fast by the Julie Ruin

Run Fast by The Julie Ruin begins like a Bikini Kill record, shows flashes of what made Le Tigre’s This Island so memorable at times, but becomes a bit problematic before it’s over.  When it’s all said and done, it’s been a while (too long) since Kathleen Hanna has released new music, and while this isn’t her best, much of it is well worthy of repeated listening. Continue reading