Friday, May 21, 2010

Broken Bells - Broken Bells

Released: Spring 2010
Availabilty: still new - still available
Label: Colombia Records (major label)

Broken Bells is a collaboration of producer/musician Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and Indie Rock musician James Mercer (of The Shins). The result on the debut album is a nicely mellow rock album with a very rich undertone and a subtlety that is nothing but elegance.

The High Road - The opening song comes in with a slow beat that almost leads you to believe it will break into something more of a dance beat. When Mercer's vocals come in it turns to a simple melody. An excellent song to lead the album with, setting the mood nicely.

Vaporize - A slow acoustic song with continuing a set low key mood, the album is shaping into something to listen to as the day winds down.

Your Head Is On Fire - Mercer's guitar takes a bit of a background to more complex instrumentation here, the pace picks up a little bit in this quick song.

The Ghost Inside - By this albums standards this is a bit of a hopping dance track, though not up to club-pulse speeds it's a catchy tune, one you can't help but tap your foot along to.

Sailing To Nowhere - Any other band would probably overlay far too many guitars here, as it has a kind of bluesy-rock feel to it that wouldn't be out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. It's not nearly so overproduced, using just enough to draw you into the soundscape.

Traps Doors - A complex rich song, still slow and understaded. Another track that speaks more with the strength of what it doesn't have (more instrumentation) than what it does.

Citizen - For some reason this song just reminds me of walking aimlessly down city streets and alleys looking for nothing in particular. Slow afternoons and cool air.

October - The opening piano is very cheery, an upbeat melody that sits in the background of the tune. A line in the song "don't run, don't rush" neatly expresses the way the song (and album) gently rolls along.

Mongreal Heart - A little bit of a brisk pace in this song, but not too fast for the album. Almost at the end it does slow down and a rich string section comes in to carry the tune out.

The Mall & Misery - A quiet slow start to the final song builds up slowly with mostly strings, when the beat comes in it feels like a continuation of the previous track a little bit. A nice guitar riff dances in and out.

The album ends as quietly as it started, fading out in a soft lull.

The whole album is like a slow afternoon, unhurried and patient; still full and rich with sounds. Danger Mouse shows that creating a soundspace is more than just creating sound, it's an atmosphere that carries through the entire album.

It finds itself along side the likes of Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and even subtle hints of Gorillaz - though less bounce and more melody.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

KMFDM - Angst

Released: Fall 1993 (rereleased Fall 2006)
Availability: usually in record shops, easily online, through KMFDM.COM
Label: KMFDM Enterprises (originally Wax Trax!/TVT Records)

KMFDM (Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid - you get to translate the bad German grammar) started as an Art-Music installation group in 1984. It didn't take long to become a full-on musical group. Easily one of the founding groups of Industrial Rock.

Light - the opening begs you to find the loudest stereo you can, crank it all the way up and sit tight. Building up to a crescendo it hits you with a solid guitar riff and pounding beat.

A Drug Against War - Easily one of the hardest, and best, songs ever recorded.

Blood (Evil Mix) - The beat slows down, but the social commentary becomes more scathing with each verse.

Lust - Love through physical need, the song is in German so unless you translate or speak it there isn't much here. Even so, it's a soothing song that's low and quiet.

Glory - Speaking out against Corporate Capitalism and similar social commentary. The song starts out in a slow pulsing rhythm and quickly moves into a catchy dancable beat. Comes with a call to arms to unite against oppression. A KMFDM stock in trade.

Move On - Slow, pulsing, this one gets under my skin, into my blood. Inward reflection on past mistakes and moving beyond into the future.

No Peace - Another call to arms against oppression and bigotry, almost an anthem track but doesn't quite have the energy.

A Hole In The Wall - The most off-beat love song I've ever heard, instead of how they want to live with a lover, how they want to die, and oddly affectionate.

Sucks - The other KMFDM staple is self deprication, and this is the ultimate expression, KMFDM Sucks. The lyrics are definitely amusing.

The Problem - The album ends with a slow down tempo beat, and a fairly serious note on how many 'problems' are dealt with in society, removing the focal point instead of finding the cause.

Angst is easily my favorite KMFDM ablum, it keeps momentum throughout the entire thing, not a bad track in the bunch when taken as a whole. Consistently heavy, if not overly fast or dance laden.