Posts tagged ‘music’

February 1, 2011

Music Review: Warpaint’s The Fool

by thiszine

Warpaint
The Fool

Rough-Trade Records, 2010

It’s a struggle to get a sense of how LA hipster-garage outfit Warpaint pull off such a provocative offering on their first full-length record, The Fool, released in October. The Fool does nothing less than hypnotise with a blinding trip-factor of layered, reverb-drenched guitar harmonies and rhythm structures so intricate and entrancing there are points when even the most straight-edge scenester will worry about being slipped a hit of acid.

Albeit Fool and Warpaint’s other release, 2009’s mass-hailed EP Exquisite Corpse, were produced by ex-Chili Pepper John Frusciante, which explains the clean, surfy approach, but there’s more to dropping distortion that makes this band so admirable.

Warpaint’s sound is an eclectic mash-up of influences unbelievably encompassing a pop-music past that is misconstrued and re-sorted into a Picasso-esque offering. Yes, Warpaint hits the epitome of what post-modern rock and post-punk represents right now much more than all their LA and London buddies, who only tend to recycle what the last guys did.

The mark of this prophet is in influence. “Undertow”, Fool’s poppiest tune, has distinct shades of sixties, Luv’d Ones style girl-garage with a foundation of traditional chords and psychedelic vocals. (Somehow, the song even makes a two-word Nirvana reference, right?)

Elsewhere more influences bleed through the facade, favourably on “Baby” and “Shadows” which obliquely play on Johnny Thunders’s near-folk but drearily alt-acoustic style. You can just see Emily Kokal strumming away in a manly fedora as a 70’s tranny-punk inverse. Nerds rejoice, these and countless other oldschool markings, embedded deep in Fool and barred only by slight mocking flair, impress beyond belief.

But aside from being clear rock ‘n’ roll high school grads, Warpaint has a stark sense of originality. With nine five minute-plus songs that spread over two LPs, Fool subdues your stream of thought with convoluted leads and complex rhythms rooted firmly in bass-laden foundation. The sharp-toothed guitar tone is the most unique approach in the LA alt-cum-indie scene yet.

Almost to downplay its freshness, numerous areas of Fool – notably on tracks like “Undertow” and “Set Your Arms Down” – are radio friendly. But, like on every track, the near indefinable Warpaint-ness eventually illumines. “Composure” wittily hints at an overwhelming clash with familiarity; Kokal proclaims “How can I keep my composure? “ amidst guitar leads so reverberated, the panicky thought mirrors the sound, emphasizing the disconnect from structure.

It’s tough not to envision the women of Warpaint – Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg, Stella Mozgawa and Kokal – as a cliquey gang, locked up in a members-only clubhouse, working away at their very own Rumours amidst scattered records, ashtrays and herbal tea. Obsessively concerned with reinventing, there isn’t a moment on Fool where you will say, Nah, I’ve heard that before. I can butter it up to no end but Fool is what modern music needs to be catchy, knowledgeable, but above all, new.

John Coleman

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December 19, 2010

December Thoughts from South Asia

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BY KULPREET YADAV

John Lennon – We Imagine you!

The two people who impacted me the most when I was teenager growing up in downtown Pune, a large city in India’s Midwest, were John Lennon and James Hadley Chase. John’s gone for thirty years now.

Why do crazy people spot and erase such geniuses? It’s a question that I have been wondering about recently. Imagine if we had John’s songs for a decade or two more. I can’t imagine, can you? I think only John could tell me how and with his untimely demise our right to vivid imagination has been stolen away. The BBC, in a specially aired show on the eve of the anniversary of his death, showed young college students singing his songs at campuses in America and other places. I guess the songs of John Lennon will continue to live forever – just like him. This I sure can imagine.

 

Publishing ruckus in India

Throughout India, there is a lack of publishers, surely not enough for the appetite of millions who have the aptitude to pen down their stories, poetries or observations. Understandably, many from foreign shores are queuing up, which leads to strong emotion here, but if you are alongside me here in India you will see the point. A recent article in a leading weekly has pegged the publishing industry in India growing at twenty percent, an enthusiasm that is slated to sustain for at least five more years. Recently, U.S.-based publisher Hachette set up their India office and more are rumored to follow.

The traditional Indian publishing industry, if they intend to survive this invasion, need to put their houses in order. Distribution and sieving through each submission that comes their way is the key. While the former might be easy to figure out, it is the latter that is the real problem. A publisher friend says he has time and resources to read only five percent of what he receives.

 

Winters at Port Blair

While my family is braving the chills in Delhi, I am all bandana, shorts and T-shirt clad here at Port Blair, an island city in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. It’s December and here the weather is as good as it can get. There are people – Indian tourists and irregular foreign ones – everywhere you see. It’s good fun to visit bars in the evenings and I do just that on most days. At the bars everyone wants to sing, most men can be heard boasting their stories at the tables with others around the table not necessarily listening, and the girls are their giggly best. But I still miss my family. Anyone who has stayed away from his wife and kids for over two months at a stretch can feel my pain.

 

***
Kulpreet Yadav is a novelist, short fiction writer and a poet from India. You can visit his blog here.

December 8, 2010

Video: Indie Punk Band Geronimo!

by thiszine

BY JOHN COLEMAN

Chicago fuzz-pop indie trio Geronimo! released their debut video for “Design Yourself A Heart” off their recent debut full-length record Fuzzy Dreams.

Still unsigned (you can find them on iTunes) but racking waves of cred in the East Coast indie scene, Geronimo! has a diverse sound throwing back to late nineties ska and pop-punk, as well as early nineties grunge. Their main forte is up-beat songs mixing experimental tones and vast psychedelic trips, creating poppy indie punk often leaping the two minute safety zone.

The video for “Design Yourself A Heart” features the band members on a wild chase down back alleyways and dark forest trails, intermittently drowning in mouthfuls of water. It’s a fun video debut with a good single to back it. The song features all the favorite aspects of Geronimo!’s sound: clean guitar chord melody, power-pop keys alongside distorted guitar hooks, dance beat drums, and a Geronimo!-esque fuzz-punk outro.

Northern Outpost claims production creds on the video. They are a video production company out of Minneapolis, MN aimed at promoting indie bands and music in the Twin Cities region.

Contributing music writer Jordon Chiarelli reviewed Fuzzy Dreams a couple months back for this. You can check out his review here.

November 22, 2010

Music Review: Fucked Up – Year of the Ox

by thiszine

FUCKED UP
Year of the Ox

Merge Records, 2010

We all know bands grow up, but it’s usually into whiny commercial whores. That’s why it’s so great to watch Fucked Up somehow, with increasing severity, undercut punk’s simplistic ethos with every release. Indeed, they do it again on their latest, Year Of The Ox, the fourth instalment in their Zodiac themed singles line which has led the band in some of their most audibly absurd travels. At times wholly off the cusp in any sense of hardcore punk, Fucked Up’s past five years, since their debut full-length record Hidden World and acclaimed follow-up The Chemistry of Common Life, showcases a band with an itching experimental side waiting to let loose.

On Ox, the title track “Year Of The Ox” opens with an eerie violin and cello build-up, donated by Toronto orchestra ensemble New Strings Old Puppets, that foreshadows the song’s bass line and classical elements. Tension rises for just over a minute before the band kicks in. Damian Abraham immediately spits out bludgeoning vocals in time with the guitar section’s stomping yet gentle hook that prevails as the thirteen minute song’s main riff.

A slight change in that hook switches up progression five minutes in. When the formula returns after a quick bridge, Abraham’s throat lashings assume an authoritative air while New Strings returns for an epic orchestral bridge. The guitar takes a backseat to elevating classical monstrosity reminiscent of Hidden World’s opener “Crusades” but much more ampler. Zola Jesus’s Nika Rosa Danilova dawns her voice in the latter half of the tune, offering mystical vocal swells amidst the now gritty, palm muted guitar line.

“Ox” mixes the grandiose with the gutter. If Abraham stopped wrenching his guts, then Fucked Up would have to be labelled something other than punk or hardcore. The difference in styles begs the question, can punk be classically epic? Perhaps this is a question that will never be answered by the troupe, but this song’s rule bending consciousness displays how punk doesn’t always have to laugh at itself, but can be seriously measured for all signs of integrity. Fucked Up proves punk is real music, and even an academy-trained ear can recognise that.

The single’s B-side is another eye opener. Unlike previous Year Of’s backed with a couple two-minute punk standards, Ox flips over to the twelve minute “Solomon’s Song” that uniquely features a saxophone line lent by Aerin Fogel of the Bitters. The bluesy intro leads to another low-mid tempo drum beat while a high-pitch guitar lead cycles over distant power chords. The song gets trippy as psychedelic delay effects are laid on the guitars during the choruses. When Abraham rests during the many, almost unnoticed, bridges, the band is a marvel. Bassist Sandy wraths the bass strings during this nearly twelve-minute track that offers low pitch punches, spacey bell rings and tremolo feedback jetting out from hidden crevices, and Fogel wailing on the sax for a broad five-minute outro.

Year Of The Ox is monumental in mapping the evolution of Fucked Up from being an abrasive streetcore band to the scene’s forerunning innovators. Long time fans know they’re still thrashing and crashing, but to an obviously more intricate, grown-up style.

– review by John Coleman

November 14, 2010

Book Trailer of the Week: The Boombox Project

by thiszine

Lyle Owerko’s photography collection The Boombox Project, released by Abraham Books earlier this month, documents the iconic machine and the people who were central to hip-hop, rock & roll, and punk movements of the 1970s and ’80s. With a forward by Spike Lee, the collection also features commentary from LL Cool J, DJ Spooky, Fab 5 Freddy, and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, among others. What’s great about this book trailer is that it reminded us Daft Punk’s music video for “Da Funk,” directed by Spike Jonze.

October 11, 2010

What Does Karkwa’s Polaris Prize Win Mean for the Canadian Underground Music Scene?

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BY JOHN COLEMAN

Polaris Prize season is always exciting for Canadian music journalists. The hype around the heftily weighted $20,000 purse acknowledging the best independent album of the year takes on a feverish holiday feel. This year, after a summer of waiting since the longlist was announced on June 17, and the shortlist on July 7, music nerds were getting antsy. For months, record biz insiders, journalists and music fans were making their predictions known all over social networks. Leading up to the special day, September 20, people were wishing each other a “Happy Polaris Prize Day” on Twitter and Facebook.

Now it’s all said and done and, I am pleased to announce, the winner of the 2010 Polaris Prize is Montreal indie rock group Karkwa for their record Les Chemins De Verre. The band has been around since 2003 and have released four albums on Audiogram Records.

Much like the hype preceding Polaris day, after the winner is announced there is always strong reaction from media and music listeners alike. Last fall I was happier than a punk with a bottle of malt liquor when I heard one of my favourite bands, Fucked Up, won for their record The Chemistry Of Common Life. But after the Toronto hardcore-turned-experimental troupe took home the oversized cheque, reaction ensued, and critics unleashed. People couldn’t believe that a curse-named punk band could beat out more radio friendly underground music. “For heaven’s sake,” mainstream snobbies protested, “Metric was up for the award – and Fucked Up won?!”

This year, it’s much of the same jealousy fired at Karkwa. I guess it is tradition for people to lash out, usually in defence of the bands that don’t need twenty grand. Mostly I’ve seen people angry about popular bands like Tegan and Sarah and Broken Social Scene being sidelined by the judges in lieu of an underdog. I confess, I haven’t heard Les Chemins De Verre entirely, yet, but from what I’ve Youtubed I like. I applaud Karkwa for proving Edge102 radio and MuchMusic aren’t the be all, end all to what’s hip in Canada.

However, I wonder why some well-known underground bands were left out this year. Although one of my favourites, The Sadies, made the shortlist (much to my surprise), I think some other Canadian albums should at least have been considered, like Bison BC’s Dark Ages, which I heard back in March and immediately declared the best Canadian album of 2010. I also would have nominated Fuck The Facts Unnamed EP, which to your next door neighbour sounds like the heaviest metal of all time but is really one of the smartest, genius punk/grind records ever.

I’ve kept quiet on my thoughts because, frankly, I know it will be a while before a heavier bands take the Polaris. For some reason hardcore and metal are too out of reach for vogue listeners. This is why it still amazes me that Fucked Up won last year. If the judges heard any of their music prior to Chemistry, I’m sure they would have barfed in disgust and declined them any right to acknowledgment in the arts scene.

September 21, 2010

Music Review: Edom’s Hope and Destruction

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EDOM
Hope and Destruction

Tzadik Records, 2010

When assembling your band, you naturally hash it out until you develop a sound. Finding that sound can take any amount of time and can incorporate a plethora of different genres and influences. When Eyal Maoz, a New York composer and guitarist, assembled Edom, it would be difficult for most people to try and be as open-minded as Maoz was during the ensemble’s infancy. Fusing nu-metal, electronica, jazz, unorthodox chord progressions and Middle Eastern harmonies, Edom is an interesting eclectic mix of influences and musical output.

 

 

Maoz, a guitar wizard in his own right, is joined by Brain Marsella, a master of the Hammond B3 organ and synthesizers, Shanir Blumenkranz (who has been on over fifteen Tzadik Records recordings) on bass, and Yuval Lion, who thunders away on drums with the bands Pink Noise and Pharaoh’s Daughter. Moaz, too, is part of a self-titled duo with Asaf Sirkis and is a guest guitarist with John Zorn’s Cobra.

Edom recently released the new record Hope and Destruction on Tzadik Records, an album that pushes musical bounds to new and interesting levels. The album touches on many musical forms beginning with the atonal elegy, “Somewhere.” “Rocks” is one of the more emotional songs on the album; it begins with with an epic synth solo over a rather slow tempo, picking up slowly, and sounding much like an Elliot Smith song before Maoz’s distorted and complex instrumentation takes over. Tracks such as “Shuki” and “Two” highlight the album’s overall approach to experimentation while the often distressed, toneless sounds of “Skies” may not be an avid Jazz lover’s cup of tea, but more along the lines of Serj Tankian’s solo endeavours. Since Hope and Destruction explores so much new ground, it should be commended for its emotional range. The album juxtaposes a slow, rageful sound with an upbeat and dance-worthy combo.

Maoz and crew have put together an interesting record with loads of creativity and cutting edge musicianship. Pushing against what popular music tries to accomplish, Edom would rather have you think and feel – a truly noble, musical intent.

– Jordon Chiarelli

September 11, 2010

Music Review: Elementary Dialogues by Eyal Maoz & Asaf Sirkis

by thiszine

EYAL MAOZ & ASAF SIRKIS
Elementary Dialogues
Ayler Records (France), 2009

The fact that Eyal Maoz and Asaf Sirkis were childhood friends, growing up and attending school together in Rehovot, Israel, makes their musical careers all the more interesting. Maoz, a jazz guitarist, left Israel for a musical career in NYC, where he now leads such musical ensembles as Edom, Dimyon, Crazy Slavic Band, and co-leads Hypercolor and Manganon. Sirkis settled across the pond in London, England, after establishing a name for himself as a drummer in Israel during the 1990s. He now leads two ensembles, The Asaf Sirkis Trio and The Inner Noise, and has collaborated with numerous artists such as Harold Rubin, John Williams, and Nick Homes.

After banding around and making names for themselves in their respective cities, Maoz and Sirkis reunite on 2009’s Ayler Records release, Elementary Dialogues. What a force they have concocted! Relying on traditional instrumental jazz formulae of lead trading and intuition fuelled improv, the record fuses blues, jazz and rock styles for a unique picture of avant-garde experimentation.

Eyal Maoz

“Regae” opens Elementary Dialogues with a twangy, fairly conservative blues melody. The simplistic, smile inducing tune effectively sets the plain for Eyal’s clean guitar side, which guides him through tell-tale jazz unconventionality on the album. However, the safe, mood-setting album opener contrasts the feverish intensity found on the rest of the record.

To be blunt, after “Regae” simplicity vanishes from Elementary Dialogues. Second track “Foglah” dawns Maoz’s distinct experimental sound which frequently pushes toward a distorted noise sound. Reminiscent of the Electric Mud style, Maoz unleashes his raw talent by playing with feedback and wah effects, at times calling in shades of Hendrix-esque tone manipulation.

The rest of the record follows the same lines as “Foglah,” throwing the rule book aside for a highly experimental avant-garde sound. For example, “Sparse” is backgrounded with a fiddlish tremolo effect and Sirkis’s chattering ride cymbal. Atop the electric, yet lounge-ish noise, Maoz breaks the tension with drawn out, distorted blues leads.

Asaf Sirkis

“Miniature” splits the record with contrast by slowing tempo. Maoz’s clean guitar saunters around a humble melody while Sirkis rides his snare with soothing brush strokes. “Kashmir” displays the duo’s inimitable approach perfectly with more clean guitar licks from Maoz, and Sirkis’s unrequited love for clacking the rims on his kit. Other notable mentions for fusion lovers include “Jewish Loop,” “Strip,” and “OK,” which incorporate note bending and muddy distortion effects from Maoz and stark impressive improvisation from both duo members.

Maoz and Sirkis trade parts like a couple of prohibition era trailblazers on Elementary Dialogues, each respectively stepping aside to allow their partner to solo around for a bit, and then jumping back into the spotlight for the next burst of energy. The pair blends numerous styles into a melting pot of innovative technicality. From its originality and array of techniques, this record will impress avid contemporary jazz followers, and even the average listener bored with the radio.

Track Listing:

1. Regae

2. Foglah

3. Sparse

4. Jewish Loop

5. Esta

6. Hole

7. Miniature

8. Strip

9. Kashmir

10. OK

11. Ethnic

12. Quiet Improv

13. Without A Story

~John Coleman

August 28, 2010

Music Review: Fuck the Facts

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FUCK THE FACTS
Live In Whitby
Self-Released/Band Camp

Spitting on the technology of 2010, Fuck The Facts released a cassette tape last month, Live In Whitby, a recording of a performance at the Wing Shack in Whitby, Ontario on April 11, 2009. Enough to get die hard collectors antsy, the tape was limited to a slim fifty-three copies (they’re already sold out). The album is also available as a Name Your Price download on BandCamp.com, where FTF’s punk/grind masterpiece Unnamed EP (February 2010) is also available.

Continuously transforming over eight studio albums, countless singles, splits and compilations, FTF’s ever indefinable style tiptoes around punk, noise, stoner-groove and industrial influenced grind since 1998. Live In Whitby offers a glimpse of the band during peak Disgorge Mexico (2008) era with six of the nine tracks, including “Kelowna” and “Sleepless”, taken from the album. The oldest song on the tape is “La Tete Hors De L’eau,” originally appearing on 2003 release Overseas Connection.

One constant throughout FTF’s distinct grindcore approach is sampling voice and sound into their music. Evidently, this is not a studio-only technique. I was at the Wing Shack show, mesmerised watching drummer Mathieu Vilandrê swivel back and forth between drummer and sound dub roles, whacking at a synthesizer to his side when called for. Nothing is excluded from FTF style when playing live.

Singer Mel Mongeon also impresses with her monstrous stage presence, as intimidating as a ravenous Pit Bull. From her territorial markings spattered into the mic – “We’re Fuck The Facts from fuckin’ Ottawa!” – to her dedicated, intestine spindling scream assault, she shoves a middle finger up the ass of any hollow commercial metal.

Fuck The Facts - Live In Whitby lineup (left to right): Marc Bourgon, Topon Das, Mathieu Vilandrê, Johnny Ibay, Mel Mongeon.

Lead guitarist and band founder Topon Das, along with second guitarist Johnny Ibay and bassist Marc Bourgon, feed you the integral cherry on top of FTF’s approach. Drenched with distortion and devilishly down-tuned, the fellows rip through their unique grind sound with exact precision on Live In Whitby. Not a brow-raising pick squeal nor panic inducing lead is fumbled.

FTF followers will be glad to get their hands, or hard drives, on this, the band’s first live release since 2003’s Live Damage. Whitby brings live new era FTF into your home and an opportunity to salivate over the richness of their performance whenever you desire. The sound quality is undeniable and, aside from the cattle calls between songs, nothing differs from the studio. It is an imprint of a strikingly tight and technical group.

Live In Whitby is dedicated to the memory of Canadian visual artist and musician Michal Majewski, who passed shortly after the event. He designed the poster for the show, seen above. A catalogue of his artwork is available here. Majewski was the bassist for Ontario thrash/grind band F.A.T.O., who opened at the Wing Shack show.

Track Listing:
1. Absence And Despite
2. The Storm
3. Kelowna
4. Everyone Is Robbing The Dead
5. The Sound Of Your Smashed Head
6. La Culture Du Faux
7. The Pile Of Flesh You Carry
8. Sleepless
9. La Tete Hors De L’eau

~John Coleman