Friday, December 30, 2011

Chuckin' up the deuces to 2k11

Steve jobs made me forget how to enjoy music. I get so overwhelmed knowing that I can listen to any song in my iTunes library with the click of a button that I barely finish listening to a song before skipping to another. I’m absolutely pathetic! And I listen to tapes because I am so pathetic. Tapes remind me that I have an attention span. When I put one on, I don’t think about what other music could be listened to outside the casing of the tape deck. I’m intent on giving my full attention to the album and it’s usually the only way I can appreciate an album as an independent piece of music. For that reason, I decided to limit my end-of-year music list to the 60-something tapes I accumulated in 2k11. Rather than mulling over all of the crap I downloaded into iTunes, I figured limiting my denominator to tapes would help me choose my favorites. This wasn’t as easy as I originally thought since I bought/traded these tapes for a reason (i.e., they were already some of my favorites). Ugh, I feel pretty lame putting together one of these lists. Oh well, here are some of my favorites (Note: Albums are listed alphabetically by artist name. Yes, it’s a copout.).

Jon Barba - If we say it in unison…

2k11 was the year of the Barba. Dude put out some great stuff and it was tough choosing my favorite because everything Jon Barba does amazes me. If you’ve never heard Jon, this is a great starter album since it’s filled with catchy jams, great lyrics, and a general feeling of angst/apathy. Pick up a copy of this bad boy from Bridgetown. I predict 2k12 will be the year of the Kidman.

Asthma by Jon Barba

Kevin GreensponCommon objects

I love this album so much that I own the LP, cassette, and mp3s. Needless to say, the cassette version is my favorite. I can easily pop this one into my Walkman and listen to it over-and-over again for hours at a time. It’s completely flawless, totally lush, and utterly heartbreaking. This one is guaranteed to send chills down your spine. The cassette version was a limited tour only edition, but you can snag a copy of the LP from Family Time or Bridgetown.

Kevin Greenspon - Threshold by Family Time

Mandarin Dynasty - Perpendicular crosswalk

I listened to this album about eight times the first day I got it. It’s not fuzzy. It’s not buzzy. It’s not drenched in reverb or delay. Well, then what is it?! It’s the best pop album I’ve heard in a long time. It doesn’t need to hide behind effects to sound good. Don’t believe me? Listen to the song below and tell me you don’t want to bang your head! After all, when was the last time you listened to something that made you want to bang your head?! Pick up a copy from Bridgetown and thank me later.

Mandarin Dynasty - Lap Steel Blues by Mandarin Dynasty

Motion Sickness of Time TravelDreamcatcher

Do you ever feel empty? Like you want something but can’t identify/articulate what it is? I was feeling that way about music before this one reached my front door. Dreamcatcher filled the void and told me what to want. I couldn’t have imagined anything like this before hearing it. It was like discovering a vibrant new planet in the dark abyss of space. Dreamcatcher is not of this world.

Nova Scotian Arms - Winds over Silmäterä

Winds over Silmäterä is a force against which you are defenseless. The oceanic soundscapes of drone and tape loops will pull you in, but the impetus lies in subtleties just beneath the surface. Like a lover that leaves you hanging on every word, you will find yourself at its mercy as you wait for a sign of warmth and affection. Listen closely and you will learn the virtue of patience. You will be rewarded.

Nova Scotian Arms- Veil Hollow (excerpt) by Hooker Vision

Pawko – Pawkward

Pawko's an honest man just trying to sing an honest song, and there's something really special about that given how dishonest the world can be. I haven't enjoyed a folk album for a very long time, but there’s something about this album that will get you thinking about life. It’ll make you ponder your past, recognize your present, and get you excited about the future. It’s equally enjoyable when listened to alone or as background music while hanging out with friends. I guarantee it will stimulate meaningful thoughts and conversation. Pick up a copy from Your Warmth.

Pawko - Little Stalin by halfhourhandshake

Reedbeds - Winds on high

Who the crap is Reedbeds?! In just under 45 minutes, Winds on high delivers everything I look for in a tape from guitar noodling, entrancing synth loops, to contemplative/gentle piano. Reedbeds crosses into disparate territory throughout the album, while bringing it all together under a common theme: beauty. I wish I could articulate exactly how incredible this album is, but you can pick up a copy of from Hooker Vision and find out for yourself.

Reedbeds- untitled (excerpt) by Hooker Vision

Solids – Generic dogs

It took about three weeks for this one to make it into my tape deck because the album art is pretty gnarly. I’m glad I listened because I was reminded of the old "don’t judge a book by its cover" saying. And actually, I really like the album art now. This album sounds like something I would’ve enjoyed in high school but would also enjoy today (and I do). In other words, it’s timeless. Side A repeats on Side B which makes listening to it over-and-over again even easier. Pick up a copy of the tape from L’oeil Du Tigre, or you can get the CD or LP from Machette Records.

Solids - Whatevers and Neverminds by Loeildutigre


I’ll admit that I downloaded this one first, but loved it so much that I had to order the tape. Terrors creates a haunting mix of folk, drone, noise, and field recordings. Lonely, nostalgic, and bittersweet -- Inequipoise is many things, but one thing is certain: Terrors sings the blues. This is bedroom music at its finest. Pick up a copy from Monorail Trespassing.

Vehicle Blues – Koz Park

Didn’t my last post convince you that Vehicle Blues is awesome?! Exhibit B: Koz Park. Never in my life has a cassingle left me so satisfied, yet thirsty for more. Try to find a copy on Discogs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Burn it All to the Ground - The Worst of 2011

I found this as an unfinished draft from December. It is now March (I don't know what Blogger be will post this as). This isn't really that interesting besides that a) my best of list only has a few things that I consider best of, b) I wrote it right after I had lost my entire music collection and the bitterness just drips off the screen. OH YEAH, and just like this blog, c) it's half-finished and not very well thought-out. Cheers! - Max

I thought 2011 was a horrible year for music. Not because there wasn't anything good released or anything but because for some reason I just stopped enjoying listening to music sometime around last spring. I think it had something to do with me making the decision that I hated everyone and everything. Chalk it up to my choice to live a high stress, low productivity lifestyle. This is still unusual, however, because ubiquitous unfocused hatred is normally a very good motivator for listening to music. I'm not really sure what I'm getting at because this is a very bad way to start a bestof list. Whatever. Here's a lot of stuff I thought was cool.

Big Kids
Algernon Cadwallader
Pygmy Shrews
By Surprise
Glocca Morra
Park Ranger Barkwood
Ten Thousand Leagues
Zona Mexicana
My Disco

Black Eyes - Cough

Genre: Noise, Punk
Sounds like: Mi Ami, maybe Q and Not U?

No more half-hearted apologies about not posting. All two of you who read this blog are just going to have to get what you deserve, which is an uneven posting schedule. As pretty much anybody who ever talks to me about music says: Max I want to hear more noise. And why the hell not? Here it is babies. The  second Black Eyes record starts where their first one left off, incorporating two bass players, two drummers and lots of falsetto screaming and putting a nice glossy layer of guitar wreckage on top. This album adds some ugly Ornette Coleman-style saxophone shrill too. Black Eyes is so awesome. They are so good. Black Eyes is so good.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vehicle Blues - 177

Genre: Shoegaze, Bedroom Pop, Real Loner Shit

Sounds like: Nothing else out there

Some things in life are obvious, or at least they seem that way in retrospect. When watching late night infomercials or seeing “As Seen On TV” products on department store shelves, I stop and wonder why I didn’t invent them. They seem so simple and so obvious. But if so, then why am I sitting here writing about music instead of raking in the Benjamins? I think the idea behind this is a phenomenon in psychology called Hindsight Bias, which explains that people have a tendency to overestimate their ability to predict the outcome of an event after being exposed to the outcome.

For me, Gabe Holcombe provides another source of hindsight bias. I find myself wanting to hit my forehead in frustration when listening to music he produces as Vehicle Blues. That’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that?! Though in reality, Holcombe’s music is far from simple. It’s easy to confuse perfection with simplicity, and that’s exactly what Holcombe creates: perfection. He’s a master of parsimonious bedroom pop. His music is neither too flashy nor bland, and every detail makes perfect sense. Take 177 for example: Though I don’t know a single lyric to this song, it resonates a feeling of hopelessness to which I can relate. I have felt the feelings that I imagine influenced this song. And it’s hard to imagine that something with such unambiguous meaning didn’t originate from my own mind, but it didn’t. It didn’t because I am not Gabe Holcombe and I’ll never be able to write music as perfect as his. And that’s when the feeling of hopelessness sets in.

Note: If this is your first time hearing Vehicle Blues, then I feel a little sorry for you because all of his amazing Bridgetown Records releases (e.g., Koz Park) are sold out. If you dig 177, you can find it on his split with Jen Paul/No Lakes released on his very own Lillerne Tapes. While you're at it, you should also try to pick up a copy of his split with Trudgers as it’s also a gem!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kickball - ABCDEFGHIJKickball

Genre: Indie, Pop
Sounds like: Beauty Pill, Rainbow Tornado

Kickball make cute, vaguely math-y pop music. They pull off a hard feat by taking what are essentially stripped down three-piece songs and making them sound energetic and full. I played this once with my roommates home and one of them said that the lead singer's voice is one of the most annoying things he's ever heard. I disagree. It's nice and airy, high pitched and he gets some pretty good yells in sometimes. Plus they have a cute, talented, female drummer which would basically vault them into my good graces no matter what music they played.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Marble Sky - No Matter How Close

Genre: Ambient, Drone, Experimental

Sounds like: Cream of the crop drone

It never snows in California, or at least in any city in which I’ve ever lived. If California were ever hit by a blizzard I imagine that our daily lives would halt and we’d be forced to slow down and live simply for a few days. I’d really like to see this happen someday as I think it would do us all some good.

No Matter How Close is about as close an experience as I’ll ever have to a debilitating snowstorm. I don’t mean to suggest that the album is filled with cold drone songs, as it’s actually a very warm and gentle album, but that it always slows me down like no other. When listening, I close my eyes and picture myself in a cabin in the woods. I am alone and snow is falling gently outside. I find comfort beyond the warmth of the fireplace in knowing the freezing temperature outside. Time becomes an arbitrary concept when you don’t have anywhere to be and nobody looking for you. I’m simply living in the moment and not thinking about tomorrow or next week. I have finally found patience.


Note: Get at me if you have a copy of this bad boy on cassette and want to sell it. This is my favorite of Jeff Witscher’s projects. I don’t think he’s doing anything under the Marble Sky moniker anymore, but you can check out what he’s currently up to as Rene Hell. If you like this album you should pick up a copy of Sway from Monorail Trespassing.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Neil Young - On the Beach

Genre: Neil Young
Sounds Like: Neil Young

To put it very bluntly, I have a lifelong obsession with Neil Young. My father played him continuously throughout my childhood. I can honestly say that I heard Neil Young while I was in the womb. It's actually a little hard for me to talk about Neil because I can't tell whether I'm being a critical music lover or just getting caught up in nostalgia.

Most honest reviews of Neil Young's career will mention that he's hard to categorize. This is a) lazy writing, and b) true. He's got a long career with some significant success, although most people know him because of his early CSNY stuff and his first few albums. His journey as an artist is an interesting story and worth reading. The short summary is that after 1972's #1 hit Harvest he got too famous. Drugs followed and eventually took the life of both his guitarist and roadie. It's during this period that he made the Ditch Trilogy, a series of three albums significantly darker and looser than his previous work. Of these, On the Beach probably represents the most solid artistic work. Neil flows seamlessly from haunting electric guitar to more traditional, stripped down acoustic ballads. He's always been his best writing low-key, sad songs and this album presents a treasure trove of music that really hits home. People will argue whether Neil Young is actually a technically good musician but they miss the point: he's an emotional artist and he puts himself into his music. Every song on On the Beach packs a punch and leaves you drained.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Belong - October Language

Genre: Ambient, Electronic, Shoegaze

Sounds like: Infinite Body, Mountains

I felt extremely isolated in my small studio apartment when I moved to the Bay Area a few years ago. Though the loneliness typically didn’t bother me, I found a lot of comfort in desolate sounding music that other people created in their bedrooms. I assumed the people creating this music were also lonely, and I found solidarity in that assumption. So anyway, be prepared to read about a lot of introverted bedroom music!

I’m not sure whether Belong recorded October Language in a bedroom, and come to think of it, they must not be very lonely since they are a duo. Regardless, this album is absolutely gorgeous. Much of this album contains thoughtfully orchestrated music buried beneath layers upon layers of rubble. Recorded in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina, I can’t help but think that the apocalyptic soundscapes on this album were an omen that should have been listened to more carefully. Put on some headphones and give this album an attentive listen and you might be surprised by what you hear.


NOTE: I will generally not post albums that are still in print for download, but this one has been out for about five years and I just can’t help it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joe Pass - Virtuoso

Genre: Jazz
Sounds like: Django Reinhardt

Ask almost anybody and they'll tell you that above all things, I am a man of pure class. The perfect gentleman. Whether I'm throwing a dinner party or trying to tastefully seduce a woman of intellect, I put on this album. Joe Pass is, to put it bluntly, a ridiculous guitarist. He also looks like a grimy Italian used car salesman. His use of weird jazz chords gives my wrist carpal tunnel by proxy and he can out-shred almost any metalhead. The real brilliance comes when you realize that he never over complicates things or tries to make them too dense. In the end it's just a really talented dude that loves playing the shit out of some top-notch jazz guitar. I'm gonna post a ton of videos below because he's just as much fun to watch as he is to listen to.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Batôn Rouge - Fragments D'Eux-Mêmes

Genre: weird frenchies, screamo, emo
Sounds like: cap'n jazz, amanda woodward, off minor

I don't listen to much music from Europe. I'm not sure why. Besides Suis La Lune and Amanda Woodward, I really can't think of any that I listen to regularly. My friend Marie is cool and from France. She put on this record the other day. It started off just as in the background. It seemed very similar to the 3rd/4th/whatever wave emo has been coming out nowadays. Yet, the more you listen to it, its got a much more mature, thought out vibe compared to most of the stuff coming out of the US. It's easily my favorite record to come out of the diy European scene in years. It seamlessly goes from catchy bass line, to head-down driving beats, to expansive, spacious melodies that use subtlest of intricacies to alter mood. All of this occurs over kinsella-esque melodic group vocals and soaring echoes, which of course are inherently beautiful...well, because they're sung in French. Duh. But really, this record is one of the most refreshing takes emo in recent memory.

S.m.o.k.e. W.e.e.d.

Koyla - Self Titled

Genre: Late 90's Emo
For Fans Of: Sinaloa, Small Brown Bike, I Hate Myself

Its been bugging me for a while now, but I can't remember how I ended up with this album. Through some way years ago this ended up on my hard drive, I still cannot figure it out. This band is also a giant mystery itself since very little information is on the internet (links if you got them!) about them.

Koyla had some great things going for them: multiple vocalists with lyrics that end up sound like a free verse poetry jam, and guitars that shift between choppy and melodic every other measure. But what separates them from other bands that came out of the late 90's (or the huge influx of bands that are trying to emulate it currently) is how intentional everything is. For being a three piece, they do a fantastic job of making the vocals and instrumentation feel like they have purpose, making the songs sound whole and complete. Although not much material to listen to from them, (this album and a couple 7 inches) they have that "this album is so good and self contained that I am completely content not having anything else" vibe.

Although they do have some vocals that might turn some people away, listen to "Astronaut" before deciding anything. Do it.

Also, I could of found a better picture, but nothing beats the bass player staring into oblivion photograph.


Konono No. 1 - Congotronics 1

Genre: Congolese, World Music, Electronic
Sounds like: Kasai All Stars

Although well known amongst the yuppie NPR set, I was totally surprised when I found this somewhere cause it's not like anything I've ever really heard. Apparently this band has been around quite awhile but it took until 2004 for this to get an official release. They're a gigantic band out of Kinshasha, Congo/DRC that uses traditional instruments haphazardly wired to car batteries and old megaphones for amplification. Basically this band uses trash as instruments. Their songs get into total jungle grooves that border on trance while maintaining their awesome African rhythms and it's really easy to just get lost in the hugeness of their sound. Their label, Crammed Discs, focuses on releasing interesting music from all over the world and have an impressive, challenging discography that I've been too scared to try to go deep into. The fact that they recently release a "best-of" album that takes ubiquitous artists like Andrew Bird and Animal Collective and has them do covers of their roster probably suggests that they've officially entered into the mainstream indie consciousness. Whatever, I'm getting off point. Check out the video below

The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World

Genre: experimental, ambient, 78's, lounge
Sounds like: Gavin Bryars, William Gavinsky, shit your great grandmother loves

First post here at this lovely blog so I thought I'd share what was been helping me make it through this damn quarter (school). This is some seriously beautiful and disturbing tunes wrapped up in this record. Background a bit The Caretaker is also known as James Kirby, has been releasing interesting projects for a while now. This is one of his latest ventures and it dives into a vibe that isn't really heard much these days. It's like listening to slow and untimely death (use your imagination) of your great aunt, but there is one catch, you have had way too much nitrous. 

The concept behind it was to create something where Alzheimer's patients would have something peaceful to listen too. Frightening but methodic, this album crumbles slowly until you reach an undesirable end. But don't let that get you down, there is still a blissful ending, much like the some Alzheimer's patients would like to have closure.

3 words why you should try it.
Reverb, loops and pops .

Buy the album here
Buy the download here

Cyrus Fell Down - Radar

Genre: Math Rock
Sounds like: Born Ruffians, Maps & Atlases, Swims, Dianogah

Oh baby I think this puppy is really taking off. Now that we've got a couple more contributors to this site I'm gonna have to start actually updating in order to maintain my place at the top of the HHH hierarchy. Yes I'm already taking liberties with acronym-ing my OUR own blog name. And yes I'm still making up my own words, or verb-ifying nouns. Whatever. This is a band from Seattle that basically sounds like a really nutty version of Maps & Atlases. I'm pretty sure they're weird dudes, which I'm basing solely off of their haircuts in the video I'm posting below. Imagine if all of the nice catchy M&A melodies had twice as many song "parts" packed into each song and you'll get close. I happen to really like the singers voice too, really high pitched and he definitely puts himself into it. Above all else though, the bass on this album really stands out. I tend to shy away from fretboard tapping (ESPECIALLY bass fretboard tapping) because it's a little played out, however this guy does it really tastefully. Awesome bass lines that sound like they'll just go on forever with tons of good low end mixed with melodic little counterparts. In most other bands I would mention something about the great guitar playing too, however I'm just obsessed with this guys bass playing skills. Seriously, bass. Bass.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hop Along - Is Something Wrong?

Genre: Indie/Folk Stuff
Sounds Like: The girl version of Marty Anderson.

This past July, I found myself at a party in a tiny house, after some local punk show.

The apex of the evening was close, with a good amount of people circling around the house, and the interesting conversations were where the empty beer bottles stood on end tables and along couches. Separate music was playing in different parts of the house. In the back patio Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" was playing and inside the kitchen was something that made my ears prop up, intrigued by the singer's delicate voice. No one else around noticed it, and sat down to listen to the randomly selected song. the computer screen from which it was played read "Hop Along" and I was instantly charmed by her innocent and youthful vocals.

Okay now onto the actual music.

Hop Along has a few releases (from what I can tell), Freshman Year emphasizes more of the folky-pop cuteness aspect of the band while Is Something Wrong? still maintains the pop, but is more ominous and looser sounding then the later. It could be due to the fact I am a huge Marty Anderson/Dilute fan, but I am sucker for high pitched, wispy vocals that are backed by frantic drums and frail guitar riffs. When listening to this album, I suggest starting with the song "Cow Eyes". It was the first song I heard and was instantly hooked. Do the same.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gnarwhal - Duane

Genre: Math Rock, Spazzy Hardcore
Sounds like: Duck, Little Brother Duck, god I'm getting frustrated filling this thing out

I've really been falling behind on this blog, which was my own creation, so now as I try to get people to write for it and read it I'm sure it looks like a complete failure. Whatever. Gnarwhal is from Nashville, Tennessee which I only know because I read their bandcamp page. They've got riffs for days and their drummer can seemingly play around anything which should put them into any math rock fan's graces. Their playing is extremely spazzy which makes me want to categorize it as mathcore except that doesn't really fit either. I dunno, point is these musicians are really talented, as long as you can handle some yelling and TONS of great riffs packed into a small time frame you should listen to this. No video this time because I can't find one/too lazy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Raleigh Moncrief - Watered Lawn

Genre: Electronic
Sounds like: I dunno

My knowledge of electronic music is very weak and I don't possess a particularly good vocabulary to describe it. This album, however, is very good. I would classify Raleigh Moncrief as being somewhat experimental compared to a lot of the electronic music I hear. It's not particularly dance oriented but the songs do have strong beats and some really gross bass. Acoustic guitars play lazy lines while washes of synths fade in and out. Beach Boys-esque harmonies drive whole songs and lend the album a singer-songwriter quality. Plus you have to respect a DJ that remixes and samples Tera Melos songs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The User - Symphony #2 For Dot Matrix Printers

Genre: Electronic

Sounds like: your printer

It's very early in the morning. You put off your research paper / lab report / essay off for way longer than you should have, and you suffered a long night for it. You finish up, say "no" to proofreading it, and click on the "save" button at least eight times. You print this beast of a paper. What luck! Your printer is full of ink and paper. You feel warm with relief of finishing on time, and you sit in your chair, listening to the creaking of your printer's startup procedure, anticipating the sounds it makes that you know too well. Once it finally starts putting ink to the paper, you find yourself moving to the rhythms of your printer in a semi-delirious way.

This is that album.

Literally, it's the sound of printers. Supposedly this album took a few years of programming, and it shows. There are moments of a kind of satisfied calm (with your printer), and then there are moments of built up dread (from your printer). Don't think of it as a gimmick; it's a great listening experience.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

North of America - These Songs Are Cursed

Genre: Indie, Math Rock
Sounds like: Pavement with more yelling

I'm really proud of my "Sounds like" for this one because this band sounds exactly like Watery, Domestic-era Pavement with more yelling and skronky, slightly math-y guitars. This is the perfect way to describe them, nothing else is needed and I'm almost tempted to just leave it like that. I like to type though so prepare yourself, dear reader, for some filler. I don't think North of America get enough love, I never hear anybody talk about them but they're pretty killer. One of those bands that's really easy to get into if you're a music nerd because a) nobody's heard of them, and b) they've got 4 awesome albums that give you the "I wish I found out about this band sooner" feeling in the back part of your neck (does anybody besides me ever get that?).  This is easily their catchiest album and at seventeen songs there's a lot to digest. They're a talented band and easily change from aggressive, energetic rockers to slow, pretty ballads (not really ballads, I can't think of another word though and I'm lazy. I wish I knew how to write). They've got great riffs, awesome guitar tone and their lead singer could easily win a Stephen Malkmus "I'm-pretending-like-I-don't-give-a-shit" contest. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bill Orcutt - How the Thing Sings

Genre: Noise, Improv, Acoustic
Sounds like: Harry Pussy, Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot

Some more weird solo guitar 'cause I know everyone loves it as much as I do. I've been on kind of a kick lately. Bill Orcutt used to play in a 1990's noise band called (ahem...) Harry Pussy. I won't pretend that I listen to much noise but it's a good starting point for trying to figure out Bill Orcutt's new stuff as an acoustic musician. His guitar only has 4 detuned strings and I would say that he "rattles" on it as much as plays. In fact it's not entirely clear that he actually knows how to play guitar - as this Dusted review points out, he just sounds like Bill Orcutt. Sometimes melodic, sometimes furious, and all times challenging, How the Thing Sings ends up conveying a lot of different emotions despite it's austere approach. His previous LP A New Way to Pay Old Debts seemed liked it was an obvious next step for the former rocker, a stripped down version of pure ear splitting noise. This is more subtle, the space in between notes more pronounced.

Here's why I decided to write this up: I saw him this year at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and it blew my mind. Here's the setup: 300,000 people converging on Golden Gate Park for a good 'ol throwback to the down home music of the south, complete with a dried-up Robert Plant singing Black Dog (an octave lower cause he's old as shit) and fat, drunk moms and dads bumping into each other on the way to the Banjo Stage. One of the organizers (maybe somebody with a sense of humor) booked Orcutt at the small stage near the front entrance as the last act, meaning that most of the crowd got to listen to him as they walked to their cars. For such a huge festival the crowd in front of him was sparse and I think he was as bewildered as anyone about his presence. And it was awesome. For a festival that prides itself on emotional music, he fit right in.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Max Levine Ensemble - mr. gikokovich 2000-2005: a retrospective

Genre: Punk, Pop Punk, DIY
Sounds like: Good Luck, GOOD Blink-182

This band is insanely catchy. I pretty much associate them with riding in a car by yourself with blown out speakers dimed and screaming along with the lyrics, overwhelmed with internal energy and wanting to jump around and mosh while they play. They've been around awhile (10 years?!??!) and have some pretty cool stuff in their back catalog, all conveniently download-able from their Bandcamp/website for whatever you feel like paying. This album, specifically, collects some of their older songs rerecorded for the uninitiated and is a great starting point. Apparently their old incarnations included trumpets and stuff but AFAIK they're basically a three piece nowadays, which is my favorite amount of people for a punk band. No frills, nothing too complicated, just straight up pop-punk energy in packaged in accessible <3 minute songs. All their stuff is good, check out OK Smartypants which is another one of their completely solid albums.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marc Ribot - Silent Movies

Genre: Experimental, Solo Guitar, Noise, Minimalist
Sounds like: Lounge Lizards, John Zorn

Marc Ribot is a weird semi-classical guitar player who switches genres enough that he's pretty hard to nail down. For anybody that's a fan of Tom Wait's stranger, "lounge band from hell" sound - a lot of that comes from this guy. He plays with a lot of other well known musicians (Elvis Costello, John Lurie) in a variety of functions and plays everything from bitchin' Cuban music to balloon-on-strings noise. I was really tempted to just do a huge link dump but those get overwhelming so I'll start with this - it's his most recent release and it sticks to him playing thin, haunting instrumental guitar songs. It's good music for a rainy day and really shows off his style. What I like is that while he's a well trained player, he knows when to settle down and go for mood too. The video I linked below isn't actually from this album but it's awesome and should be posted. It's cribbed from the Scorsese Blues documentary which was mostly full of well-known wankers covering classic blues songs in a way that would make the original artists spin in the ground at lathe-speed. Packed away on the extras disc is this video - Ribot reinterpreting Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark was the Night" and KILLING it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Zona Mexicana - Eponymous 10"

Genre: Math Rock, Hardcore, Screamo
Sounds like: Algernon, Kidcrash, Ape Up!

So I'm going to try really hard not to just repost everything that Circling the Drain puts up but this will have to be an exception because I've been waiting for it FOREVER and it doesn't disappoint - besides that it's not longer. Zona Mexicana are a great mathy hardcore band from Purchase, New York with tons of raw energy and musical chops. They've released some sporadic splits and an EP which really just tease because of their length. This is really no different but I guess sometimes the fun is in the buildup. Every song on this thing is great - Watershed rips, Rain Therapy and Theme pack more riffs into <2 minutes than any band should reasonably allow, and Waking up with Dedication shows them going for the big choruses. Their drummer is a guy named Cameron Wisch who'll I'll affectionately describe as being a punk-rock version of Zach Hill (he's got some really good solo stuff too). I love Zona Mexicana.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ted Nguyent - Pizza & Regret

Genre: Punk, Pop Punk, Math Rock
Sounds like: Algernon Cadwallader, Glocca Morra

Here's something pretty new that's easy to shout along too. I'm not sure if I think their band name is clever or stupid, sometimes bands like this really toe that line. I guess it's not supposed to be that serious. Anyways there's a lot of shout-y singing, sing-along choruses and good riffs to be had here so I would check it out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bygones - by-

Genre: Math Rock, Psychedelic
Sounds like: Tera Melos, Hella, Lightning Bolt

One day I heard that my favorite drummer (Zach Hill from Hella) and one of my favorite guitarists (Nick Reinhart from Tera Melos) formed a band and then my mind exploded. This is basically the math rock equivalent of Tupac and Biggie coming back from the dead and releasing an album together. My expectations ran high for several months and this did NOT disappoint. The guitar playing is ridiculous and Reinhart pulls crazy riffs out of nowhere while Zach Hill goes predictably insane on drums. Unlike a lot of math rock the songwriting on this is very tight and focused with some good hooks and nice catchy choruses. Unlike a lot of two-pieces the sound is very full and never gets boring with lots of effects wizardry and guitar freakouts to keep just about anybody interested.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ssaliva - Thought Has Wings

Genre: Electronic, Ambient, Chill Beats
Sounds like: Aphex Twin's mellow stuff

I totally understand why a lot of blog writers hate filling out the "genre" and "sounds like" parts because for the most part I'm just guessing on this one. I found Ssaliva cause I follow John Campbell's webcomic pretty regularly and saw that he's been making some seriously weird videos lately. One of them was a short little music video for this band (linked below). I can't really find out anything about them but they've got some mellow tunes with good beats, nice textures and even a little bit of ambient noise thrown in. If you liked the Monster Rally link you'll like this.

I was going to put the John Campbell music video here but couldn't figure out how to embed Vimeo links so just click here if you're interested.

Monster Rally

Genre: Hawaiian, Surf, Tropical, Hip Hop, Beats
Sounds like: Madlib at the beach

One of these days I bet somebody will see this thing and leave me a comment and it is going to feel SO GOOD. Until then I'll just keep plugging away. Monster Rally is one of those bands that I put on the stereo when I know there'll be people over that are judging my taste in music (they probably don't even care about the music but in my mind they're judging me). These songs are all really pop-y and easy to listen to without being too in your face. As far as I can tell, most Monster Rally songs are just one or two Hawaiian sounding guitar lines that are sampled and looped into a hip hop beat. They're all short and sweet and to the point. Anyways, you can listen to all their (his?) stuff on their Bandcamp and even download it for free so check it out. I would start with the Crystal Ball or Coral LPs but it's all pretty much the same.