Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week Ending 4/23 - Hip-Hop, Darkwave, Rock

I picked up two new releases this week, because I wandered into the local indie record store and saw 'Dengue Fever' and went, "I don't recall ever hearing of them, yet it is familiar" ... turns out they're on a compilation I have stashed around here. I also started to load in and listen to the I:Scintilla discography I picked up a couple weeks back. It may be a sign to slow down when I generate a backlog of music to load up and listen to . . . Nah.

New Releases:
Dengue Fever - Cannibal Cannibal Courtship
Label: Fantasy Records (Concord Music Group)
Released: 4/19 2011
Genre: Rock
Dengue Fever is a rock - psychedelic rock really - outfit, vocals are done in both English and Khmer (or Cambodian). While the lead vocals are female, this album has a pretty good split of male and female vocals. It's got a laid back rock feel to it, nothing heavy or fast about it. Very relaxing, bit fun, some songs have a bit of a smart ass vibe about them.

Del The Funky Homosapien - Golden Era
Label: The Council (Council Partners Entertainment)
Released: 4/19 2011
Genre: Hip-Hop
Del is an old school MC from the early 90s, and has for the last 15 years or so put out a steady stream of music in a lot of places. This release actually has two extra albums with it that were only released digitally in 2009. This album is alright, I like it well enough. The first two songs have some refrains that repeat a little too much, but after that it's just solid walls of rhyme and rhythm. With the rhythm properly behind the MC, at least properly for Del. Minimal production - there are no liner notes with any serious credits, he may very well have done the entire thing himself.

Automatik Statik
Originally Released: 2009 on Bandcamp.
Of the three albums that came in the digipak, this one is the best. There's a little more humor, the rhyming is more fluid, the whole thing just grooves.

Funk Man
Originally Released: 2009 on Del's website
This one didn't click with me, I may have to put it down for a bit and come back to it. It feels like it might have been a little rushed, or unfinished.

Filling Out The Collection:
Collide - The Eyes Before
Label: Noisepluse Music
Released: 2009
Genre: Darkwave
This is a cover album, and finishes out my Collide Discography. They're all over the spectrum of music, covering The Beatles, Depeche Mode, Chris Isaak, Pink Floyd, David Essex, Radiohead, Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, and David Bowie. All the takes are good, not just flat covers replaying the songs. Each one gets the synth-goth maker over and takes it well - saying as much about how classic these songs are as it does about how good Collide is. The David Essex cover (Rock On) could have used some more punch to it. I'm also not the biggest fan of Pink Floyd and there's two covers (opening and closing the album) here, I think I'd have preferred to see them showcase another band. Their cover of Knights In White Satin, however, is amazing, it really brings out a melancholy in the song.

I:Scintilla - Havestar
Label: Alfa Matrix
Released: 2006
Genre: Darkwave
Female vocal lead I:Scintilla skirts the line between the Darkwave synth sound and Industrial Rock with heavy guitars. They bounce between the two freely. This is the initial release on Alfa-Matrix, a CD Single with a bunch of remixes on it. Six of the tracks are remixes from fellow label mates of studio releases, three of the remixes are the title track. The other three tracks are off the Optics album. From a first release (though they had a self released album previously) it's a great sign of things to come from the band. The remixes are remixes, some more club-friendly than others.

I:Scintilla - Optics
Label: Alfa Matrix
Released: 2007
Genre: Darkwave
The first full album released after being signed, it easily and fluidly swings between harder guitar driven songs and more rhythm based club songs, with a few slower ethereal tracks thrown in to keep the pacing just right. A couple songs really stand out; Toy Soldier could easily have been a single on its own, and Ultraviolet definitely belongs on the dance floor.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week Ending 4/16 - Rock, Industrial, Goth, Blues, Indian

Smattering of everything this week. The two New Releases I picked up were a single from Tim Skold and Caustic's full album. Both digitally, Metropolis Records nicely provide a PDF booklet of the liner notes, not just the cover art. Which I highly appreciate and may switch all my Metropolis purchases to digital format. If only more labels followed in their footsteps.

Caustic - The Golden Vagina Of Fame And Profit
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 4/12 2011
Genre: Industrial
His first release on Metropolis, the album is a very old-school industrial release. No squealing guitars, just thumping beats and crunchy noise. A couple tracks are mostly instrumental and are, in the context of the album, a bit annoying. I'd throw them into a mix and let them get happily lost in the background of a long day. The stand outs are Hiroshima Burn (a massive beat and lyrics that make me want to throw down in a mosh pit), Orchid (Unwoman lends her vocals to a great anti-rock cut), Chum The Waters (not as pure awesome as the remix on the single off the album, but still awesome and full of drums), and White Knuckle Head Fuck (just beautifully angry). Good old Industrial club cuts.

SKOLD - Suck
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 4/12 2011
Genre: Industrial
The single off the upcoming Skold album. Tim Skold has been in the business a long time, and after 15 years is finally putting out another solo album. The first five tracks are the Title and four remixes. It's a great industrial-rock song, an ode to wanting to be the Rock Star - very fight club. The last three tracks are all non-album tracks. It's nice to see a single contain several non-album tracks instead of just one. If they're any indication of the upcoming album (out 5/10) then it will be an excellent and dark album.

Double Down - Polarity
Label: self released (purchase through CD Baby)
Released: 2008
Genre: Rock
Double Down is a Denver local band, rock and blues-rock. Polarity was released during a time when they were switching out bassists almost as fast as Spinal Tap went through drummers. It's a good solid rock offering, good for nights when you just need something blue collar with some blues thrown in. Bar Rock, really.

The Victim's Ball - The Victim's Ball
Label: self released (purchase through CD Baby)
Released: 2010
Genre: Gothic-Rock
I call it Gothic Rock, but there's no guitars. Though if there were it'd fit perfectly into the early/mid-80s Goth Rock scene. It's traditional instruments from the late 18th- early 19th century. The album focuses around the French Revolution and the supposed Victim's Balls (parties held by surviving nobility) afterwards. It's a dark and melodic album, good for late nights.

Rough Guides
World Music has a service where you subscribe to receive two new Rough Guide compilations a month, given mail from the UK takes a random about of time I never really know when I'm going to get these. . . My wife picks which two compilations she wants to listen to every month.

RG to Desert Blues:
Blues coming out of the North African region. Traditional music mixed with modern guitars, and some other modern elements. It does feel very blues, not in the classic American Delta sense, but in a more overall 12-bar feeling of the genre. Some of it is a bit rock, some of it is hard to find the blues under it. All of it is really good. This one comes with an extra CD from the group Etran Finatawa, which is just excellent.

RG to Indian Lounge
Hard to categorize this, it's not quite techno, not quite lounge, little bit night club, lots of traditional, and all kinds of things mixed in. One track strikes me as "Dub Bhangra" - the only words I have for it. Some of it's slow, some of it bouncy and fast. The Rough Guides are really eclectic selections normally, and if this is even a sampling of how an Indian night club moves they listen to just about anything and incorporate it into everything.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weel Ending 4/9 - Hip Hop & Rockabilly

Day late, I was busy. . . This week is a surprise addition! I unexpectedly ended up at a Wanda Jackson concert Monday night, so I had to buy some CDs from the merch table. I also, due to this, had to delay the purchase of a couple albums, next week will be Industrial centric.

Blueprint - Adventures In Counter Culture
Label: Weightless
Release: 4/5/11
Genre: Hip-Hop

This weeks new album showcase, an in depth review was posted earlier in the week. I'll just state here that after several more days listen Its an awesome album.

Weightless Radio - A Collection Of Blueprint Instrumentals
Label: Weightless
Release: 4/5/11
Genre: instrumental, ambient

The Blueprint album came with a free download card to get a completely instrumental track from him. The format of the album is a lot like listening to a radio station, complete with blips of actual advertisements, and some interviews with Blueprint himself. The beats themselves are nice, but short. If they'd been expanded into a full track and given a little more cohesive transition it would stand up next to a Future Sound Of London album in terms of richness. As is, I like it well enough. One day this week was particularly overcast and it managed to fit the mood of a rainy afternoon nicely.

Wanda Jackson - The Party Ain't Over
Label: Nonesuch Records
Release: 2011
Genre: Rockabilly, Rock And Roll

Wanda has been in the Rock business since it literally began in the 50s. She's old-school rockabilly fun. This album is a collection of covers, recorded with, and at the urging of (she explained in person at the concert) Jack White (White Stripes). Only a cover of Bob Dylan's "Thunder On The Mountain" goes over the five minute mark, making this one of those short-n-sweet albums to spin, most of the tracks are three minutes.

Dusty 45s - Devil Takes His Turn EP
Label: self released
Released: 2004
Genre: Rockabilly

The Dusty 45s were the backup and opening band for Wanda's concert, so I grabbed some of their stuff. This EP was released some time ago when they appear to be a five-piece band. Its only a 4 track single, but a good one. Their added trumpet gives the band an extra kick.

Dusty 45s - Fortunate Man
Label: self released
Released: 2010
Genre: Rockabilly

Their latest album, with a theme of poverty, giving to your fellow man, and similar. The album rocks right along. This is a good solid album to put into rotation for nights when you need nothing but good old rock and roll. Stick it in with classics like Buddy Holly and Elvis. Nothing here stands up as above and beyond, which doesn't bother me much, as a package the whole thing works, and works well.

For purchasing information on the self released Dusty 45s albums; they can be found as downloads from iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby and probably ordered from any decent independent music store out there can figure out how to get a copy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

4/5 New Release: Blueprint "Adventures In Counter Culture"

This week a couple releases came out I wanted to pick up. The new Hollywood Undead and Blueprint being the top two. Blueprint won easily on that front, I like HU, but I like intelligent Hip Hop more.

I found a video for Blueprint's "Radio Inactive" a while back, and was captivated by it. Four minutes of rhyme, no hook, no chorus, stripped down production. I waited for the album release, each single he dropped kept upping the ante on style, on sound, on everything. Bonus: his label is truly independent.

Blueprint - Adventures In Counter Culture
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Release: April 06, 2011
Genre: Hip Hop

The album has ups and downs like your average record, songs I skip, songs I skip to, bounce and mellow, ballads and club cuts. Blueprint has some true range to his talent, from singing to a more traditional rap, fast and slow.

1. Five Years Ago - not a song, an intro track of some guy trying to interview Blueprint right after he walks off stage at one point. But of praise for Blueprint from some half-drunk sounding guy.

2. Go Hard Or Go Home (Printnificence) - Honestly, bit of a standard issue slow beat on how good he is at being an MC. It does show off his talent, solid wall of rhyming with no break and no repetition. Still, its a weak song compared to the rest of the album. Which does make it a good opener - album just goes up from here.

3. Automatic - Music is work, even when it looks easy. I like the synth bit behind this track.

4. Keep Bouncing - one of the singles released as a video. It's a fun little song about partying a wee bit too hard. Crunchy beat, good song to toss into a dance list, towards the end of the night as its a slow crawling beat. (just remember to cut off the tail which is a montage of television bits.)

5. Wanna Be Like You - If the first four tracks were the taxi and tack off, this is the album gaining altitude. Breaking from straight rhymes Blueprint shows he can carry a tune and not just a staccato rap. The song about celebrity worship, and bouncy.

6. My Culture - Disparaging the 'rap culture' that has pervaded for the last fifteen or more years, and how it really isn't worth fighting for. Blueprint aspires to rise above it and bring it back to the kind of culture one could be proud of.

7. Mind, Body, & Soul - Angelica Lee lends her voice to the chorus, unfortunately she sounds autotuned, which knocks the sound from great to good. Slow beat, talking on the importance of music. I can picture this one with a blues guitar behind it.

8. So Alive - Released as an actual single off the album, it is one of my favorite tracks. Two stories, two people, both of them end with the happiness of 'Feeling So Alive' ... funky upbeat sound, good message.

9. Stole Our Yesterday - I like this track, a lot. Nostalgia type thoughts, less about the 'good old days' and more about wondering if we really need to force people to change in every aspect, some people like what they have. "They sold us all tomorrow, then they stole our yesterdays."

10. Radio-Inactive - The track that caught my attention, it has an intensity, an anger behind it. The kind of anger that moves men to positive action, not just impotent rage. From the simple piano intro to the rising beat, all around intensity.

11. Welcome Home - A light guitar riff playing over sounds of a family outing, eventually a drum line joins in. Another singing track, a ballad melody on the good things that life will always come back to.

12. Fly Away - This beat reminds me of a Jan Hammer track, it's so extremely 80s you can't help but smile. Very blues attitude here, though its hard to tell if the guys leaving or got kicked out, either way a good move for him to move on.

13. The Clouds - Keep your head in the clouds, feet on the ground, and keep working for the dream you have. Another solid wall of rhyming, Blueprint has a knack for carrying a song without needing a hook or chorus.

14. The Rise & Fall - Bouncing club track, good to dance to, the rhyme even bounces along, rolls right over the beat. It does have a chorus, which brings a nice break in the song, then it keeps bouncing along.

15. The Other Side - This last track is a slow song, it also feels so personal I almost wonder if I shouldn't turn it down and let the man have a private moment. It's beautiful listen to though.

The range of tracks here moves from expected songs about the artists ability, to broken relationships, ups and downs of life, and lost and found opportunities. This is not the crap you're going to hear on the radio, this is real music.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Week4 - Metal & Rock

Slow week, only a handful of albums. The majority of which are me filling in holes in the collection, finally getting two albums from way way back that I enjoyed so much as a punk teenager. But first, since I didn't post it earlier, an in depth look at this weeks New Release.

Broken Bells - Meyrin Fields
Released: 3/29
Genre: Rock, Pop

Broken Bells have put out a 4-track EP, and by all accounts it's pretty similar to their excellent debut album. They didn't stray too far from the formula, but they didn't lock step into it either. The first and last track really remind me of all the good points of the previous album, the middle two I find Mercer's voice goes a little too off. The only real unfortunate part to this is just as you're really getting into it the EP ends. At just under 20 minutes, and no song stands out as a 'single' it just isn't enough.

Metal Church - The Dark
Released: 1986
Genre: Heavy Metal

San Fransisco based Metal Church were early on the scene, comrades to Metallica and Megadeth on the west coast. Good classic Speed Metal type stuff here, with screaming vocals, declarations of power and independence and railing against The System and its War Like Ways. Ton Of Bricks and Start The Fire are two awesome anthems in the metal world, easily classics and happily the first two tracks on the album. The Dark title track is another awesome cut. The rest of it is, well, mid-80s speed metal. Good, but unless you're really into the scene (I am) forgettable.

Overkill - Feel The Fire
Released: 1984
Genre: Thrash Metal

Overkill are by far one of my favorite bands, I found out about them around 1989, The Years Of Decay had just come out I think. Either way I was stuck hard and fast and have been with them since. I wore out my original cassette of Feel the Fire and had to copy a friends. It's just a hammering album from first note to the last. The CD here has a bonus track that wasn't on my original release, and it kind of kills the outro of Overkill signature track - they shoulda put the bonus track earlier. Still, every bit of East Coast Thrash that I remember from my childhood and why the hell did I wait so long to go find this on CD?

The age old argument of Thrash vs Speed? Thrash all the way!