faster katt - thus she spake
The band Faster Katt from Gothenburg, Sweden, initially formed in 2003 by the vocalist/bassist Daniel Götstedt and drummer Patrick Mark. No more than a year later the band was put on hold so they could focus on another band called The Kolony.
It wasn’t until six years later in 2010 that they reformed with the addition of Mattias Engström and Jonas Rydberg. It didn't take too long for the band to release a string of EP’s. The latest being Thus She Spake.
These guys make bass-driven (when I say bass-driven I mean it, no guitars in the lineup) metal that derives its style from previous generations. It’s an eclectic mix of math rock as well as metal from the ‘70s and early ‘8’s. The singer Daniel Götstedt has a voice that could cut through any mix and with no lack of low end frequencies in the band it works out perfectly. He often sounds like the lovechild of Marilyn Manson and Axl Rose. It’s not a voice that will be winning any American Idol contests any time soon but it sure is distinctive and works well against the army of bass lines and metronome-like drumming.
You may be thinking that you are going to miss the guitar but about a minute into “Maximum Overdrive” you will realize these guys don't need one to rock. “Maximum Overdrive” is just as it sounds and has plenty of face planting bass lines for you to immerse yourself in. I also want to point out the vocal work by the other guys in the band was a nice contrast to the lead singer.
“Fire In The Rain” takes the energy down a bit but has plenty of things to embrace. They still flex their muscles when it comes to creative bass parts and as the song progresses it becomes a larger wall of noise. The title track “Thus She Spake” is a drone-inspired song that you would swear has a guitar in there while the closer “Libido” has some of the most memorable bass parts that you will be humming later. Reminded me of something I would hear from Tool.
The production is good and the songs rock. A must have if you are a metal fan. If you aren't this might not be your cup of tea.
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Music critics too often create false dichotomies: experimental/classical, electronic/acoustic, avant-garde/experimental. These dualities don't realistically reflect most people's listening tendencies at this stage of the cultural explosion.
On his debut solo album, classically-trained cellist Augustine Esterhammer-Fic transcends these false boundaries to create an album equally indebted to classical music; forward-thinking indie rock, like Radiohead, The Books, or the weightless cello dubscapes of Arthur Russell; and avant-garde electronic styles, most notably the furious breakcore barrage of Venetian Snares or Squarepusher.
Esterhammer-Fic also breaks down the barrier between acoustic and electronic, as the multi-instrumentalist recorded the orchestral elements; cello, piano and glockenspiel, and then atomizes and reconfigures them in a software environment. The combination means that Nothing Is Hidden combines the warmth and expressiveness of instrumental performance with the precision and molecular control of modern software. The result, quite frankly, is stunning - freewheeling pinwheels of glistening harmonics tumble from heaven, like autumn leaves, while Esterhammer-Fic's cello rises like giant wings.
These dense and intricate arrangements serve as an underpinning for Esterhammer-Fic's lyrical meanderings, where he explores his interest in science and philosophy, thus the title. There is very little in the way of "pop structure" here - no sing-a-longs, no anthems. Instead, the lyrics frequently sound like pages ripped from some naturalist philosopher's notebook, which are then orchestrated by Shostakovich, to be remixed by Richard D. James.
Esterhammer-Fic's goal, with Nothing Is Hidden was to make something complex but accessible. To say this was successful would be an understatement, as Nothing Is Hidden is an out-of-the-ballpark-grand-slam of electronic artpop.
Augustine Esterhammer-Fic entirely recorded and arranged Nothing Is Hidden at home on his laptop extremely raising the bar for home-recording standards. The low end is rich, full, powerful and thudding, as can be seen on "Objects In Space,” with its incredibly satisfying, growling bass line, or on the depth-charge kick implosion on "In Wake (Cheyblinski).”
Nothing Is Hidden is a journey, starting off in the nebulous dream world of "I,” which serves as a mission statement and exposition for the album's central theme, to explode into tributaries of fluttering bricolage breakbeats in "Rotation Method (I Must Be Afraid Of Sex)" and 20th Century classical music of "In Wake (Cheyblinski)." For anyone who loves Arvo Part and Arovane in equal measure, prepare to become obsessed.
That being said, for those that look for catchy hooks and big melodies, this record may not be for you. The lyrics play out like Siddhartha's stream-of-consciousness, unlikely to be shouted along to in a packed dance club, while sipping Red Bull and vodka.
For those that like to dig below the surface, there are many gems to unearth and become obsessed by.
Astaggering debut, from an auspicious young composer.
Easter. is a solo project for high-school senior Emmett McCleary who recently released his first solo record entitled We Have Such Straight Teeth. I’m not sure how long McCleary has been composing music but it seems obvious to me after listening to We Have Such Straight Teeth that the guy has talent well beyond his years.
McCleary is a decent guitar player but his biggest strengths are his vocals and songwriting. He has an attractive, soothing voice that will draw comparisons to Elliott Smith. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go till the song is over. Lyrically, McClearly often paints poignant even thought-provoking words that you have a hard time believing are coming from a teenager.
There are eight songs on the album and most of them range from about two to three minutes in length. The album goes by quickly but also manages to display some of the versatility of McCleary.
The first song “Birthday” is under two-minutes long but establishes that McCleary can write a catchy pop song. He initially combines guitar, vocals and organic percussive elements. As the song progresses a distorted bass and distant sounding guitars come into the mix. The last part reminded of something the band Wavves would come out with.
“Run and Hide” is another accomplished song this time implementing a more traditional drum set. HIs vocal melodies as well the guitar riffs here are some of the best on the album. Other highlights you won’t want to pass up are “Wreck!” “Naomi and Me” and “I Made This Bed and Now I Must Sleep In It.“
McCleary impressed me and I hope to hear a lot more from him in the future. I’m interested to hear the songs he will be writing in ten years.
Even if I don’t fall in love music that makes me think, “I haven’t heard much else like this,” I can at least appreciate that fact that it makes me think that. That was the initial feeling i had when I popped in The Precipice EP from Plastic Inevitable. Marty Procaccio (aka Blankets) and Sneekie San Salvador are the brains behind the music and serve up a concoction of sounds that is at the very least original.
The five songs on The Precipice sound like lo-fi funky abstractions that infuse hip-hop, free jazz and psychedelica. They don’t always come together into a song with a solid foundation but instead almost feel like improvised sessions that take certain elements that flow.
The first song “Falling Off” kicks off with a formidable beat and bass line that is covered in just enough lo-fi gunk to make it sound raw instead of bad. Guitars, vocal samples and other atmospheric elements fall in and out of existence while the bass and drums keep the song from completely falling apart. The vocals fall somewhere between spoken word and hip-hop.
“Come On Through” isn’t as beat-heavy as the first and feels scattered. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way but a bass line holds down the song while guitars create white noise that transforms and mutates into different sounds. The vocals sometimes have a delay and sometimes they don't and often borrows a similar style to that of the Beastie Boys. I enjoyed the R&B funk on “Hippo La Goon,” which combines a solid bass line with a wah guitar and samples. No rapping on this one.
These guys are on to something. Vocally there could be some improvements and I felt like there was something missing from making these tracks live up to their full potential but these guys aren't afraid to make unique music. Keep truckin’ guys – this could be big.
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Oddfellow & I - Untitled
Oddfellow & I is a full-length release from newfound solo musician Ste Halliwell. Based out of northern England, Halliwell haphazardly found himself creating enough songs to release this collection, which is called ‘Untitled.’ The music found within this album is ethereal and poppy; Halliwell admits the piano is his favorite instrument and it can be heard reverberating at different speeds, melodies and tones in every track on the album.
“Before you go I’m going to leave you, a little dazed, eyes like deep space.” The first song titled “Deep Space,” starts off the album with a pleasant indie-pop vibe. There is an interesting piano melody that is a few tones away from sounding like an organ. The song carries an uplifting yet mysterious air that makes it a varied and dynamic listen.
Up next is "Babies" which is an emotionally resonant song that puts Halliwell's voice and guitar picking front and center. I had a hard time telling if he overdubbed two guitars or his guitar playing was so good it sounded like he was strumming and picking the guitar at the same time. In the end it doesn't really matter but was a thought nonetheless.
“Mother Hymn” is a beautiful and soft song that begins with a gentle guitar. As the song progresses, this becomes the only thing to hold onto besides Halliwell’s flowing and falling voice. The song is quite hypnotic and dreamy. Contrastingly “My Father’s House” has a less welcoming vibe to it, and all the while Halliwell seems to be releasing energy about his father relationship, or perhaps “father’s house” could be representing something more metaphorical. “I’m going to tear down my father’s house one day, it holds nothing for me but darkness.”
"One More Time" creates a sense of nostalgia and melancholy with piano and distant guitar. It was impressive that Halliwell
didn't go grandiose and instead maintained the same intensity the whole time. The album closes with a backwoods Louisiana like vibe that has a dreamlike quality. It feels like loosely put together song that at almost any point could fall apart completely but doesn't.
The style found within this album is vibrant; there is pop and a bit of folk, tied up with indie vibes. The album is well produced and each song has its own unique persona that is unlike any of the others. Untitled is a good listening album overall.
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Yesterday’s Rust is a band that started in 2012 but after listening to their recent album The Story Of Rusty Grey they might as well have started in 1967. There is a rich sense of Americana that engulfs the record. You hear fragments of influences ranging from Neil Young to John Fogerty that find their way into the production and delivery. For example, the lead guitars are clean and contain a good amount of reverb mimicking those you have hear of classic rock records from the ‘60s and ‘70s while vocal style and even cadences bears similarities as well.
The album opens with an upbeat tune called “The Prison Song” that combines a sense of nostalgia and optimism. It’s one of the highlights and contains a catchy well delivered vocal melody that lays on top of a dry drum kit, acoustic and lead guitars and bass.
“Time is Tobias” has its roots in folk music and is devoid of percussion. The style is comparable to that of Gordon Lightfoot. “I Fear Silence” returns to the milieu of the ‘60s and early ‘70s of the first song but is grounded in melancholy this time around.
They close with a three-part song series that according to the band is about “a story of a man who leaves his family behind him, missing out on his child, and a son that grows up over the years without a father and just wants to spend time with him and in the end sees that he has deprived his child of the same thing that his father has him.” This may not be the feel good story of the year but did display the band's knack for storytelling and creating a narrative.
The Story Of Rusty Grey is a completely self-produced album. The band recorded, mixed and mastered the album, which may have been a little too much for them to take on. Sometimes the songs sound noticeably thin and elements like the tom drums aren't defined. But as with anything you have to work within your limitations. Despite the cracks in the production the band’s ability to write a good song shines through. The Story Of Rusty Grey is a decent start into hopefully a long musical career.
THE GULLS - NUDE BEACH
The Gulls is a group from Rhode Island giving its listeners a serious dosage of fun, island-inspired pop music. They claim this album is the perfect summer playlist, and from listening, the songs all carry the persona that is summer; care-free vibes, fun, partying, love, lust, beaches and of course, nudity.
While listening to their album Nude Beach I am reminded of bands like Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Fountains Of Wayne and Modest Mouse. There is an innate island persona to all the songs on Nude Beach and they result in a super relaxed state of mind.
They kick off with an addictive pop song entitled "Mayboline" that has melodies that are bound to get stuck in your head by the the time the second chorus rolls around. Even the drum beat gets stuck in your head. It's a straight forward tune that isn't to flashy with gimmicks.
The second track titled “Will You Wanna” is a comical track about “scoring.” “My momma’s dying of the flu and all I do is think of you… will you wanna kiss me in the morning when the memories are drunk.” The song reeks of reggae and rock from the ‘90s.
The next song “Throw Me a Bone” is also quite interesting. It has more of a dance feel to it and I can see a crowd jamming to this one. “Throw me a bone, open the door, honey I’m home… throw me a bone, who are you kidding I know you’re alone.” This song is kind of a weird twist of The Beach Boys on acid; it is quite an entertaining listen.
They close with arguably the highlight of the album entitled "Tragedy". The band strikes an almost perfect balance between light poppy goodness and emotional weight. It feels upbeat but has an emotional weight that makes it a very appealing song.
The Gulls have successfully achieved creating a post-modern indie reggae sound. I can’t help but think about the ‘90s style of rock music while listening to Nude Beach. The recording of the album is also successful and I’m sure it’s not as good and fun as their live shows.
Madmartigan - Dracula(s)
Based out of Austin, Texas, Madmartigan is a four-piece rock band that gives its audiences a dynamic post-modern rock experience. The album Dracula(s) was recorded DIY style and stays true to their genre of pop punk rock.
The track titled “Waltz of the Chupacabra” is a great track to listen to; it starts off with an enticing guitar chord and the rest of the song is decorated with catchy and metaphorical lyrics. “Something dammed my stream of consciousness. I'm only getting a few drops out at a time,” the song is high energy and it all slowly builds up toward the end which seems to be the quite literal breakdown of all the energy built up in the song.
A song intriguingly named “Riding Dragons Through a F*cking Time Vortex” gives listeners another side to Madmartigan’s persona. This track is a bit more toned-down in style and sentiment; it’s a bit more emotional and carries a heavier vibe, some may call it emo. The lyrics, “I consume every backhanded compliment in the room... And you and I both know we'll be the first to sell out the moon,” illustrate that sentiment clearly.
The track “Working on My Vertical Leap” is also heavy in sentiment, it starts off with a slow winding guitar and then some shaky, deep lyrics start to draw a somewhat suicidal scene; “Where I stand: On a rickety bridge over top shark infested waters.” As the song moves along, it becomes somewhat transcendental and goes through a few metamorphoses making it an interesting listen.
This album is a successful release and each song has its own unique story to tell. Anyone interested in post-modern punk rock will enjoy Dracula(s).
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mammoth - Polymorphism
Dive into the polymorphism that exists on Mammoth’s latest album release Polymorphism. Shrouded by hard rock vibes that are weirdly yet pleasantly juxtaposed by jazz and funky soul, Mammoth exudes a musical genre all their own that is quite hard to put a finger on.
The opening track “Not Yet” begins with some hard-core guitar and drum patterns and ridiculously fast guitar chords. As the song moves along, the drum pattern maintains that hard rock vibe, which keeps you holding on subconsciously to the hard rock rhythms. Then before you know it, you’re dunked right back into that tantalizing guitar shredding and drumming.
“Hallucinogenic Hummingbird” is righteously named because oh what a feeling this song creates. There is a fleeting chord that is reminiscent of a luminescent hummingbird frolicking through a flowered garden, and then we are introduced to a hypnotic female voice that guides us through this hallucinogenically rock induced journey through the natural mind. This is quite an interesting and pleasant song to listen to, the addition of Spanish lyrics also adds yet another layer of mystery and mind-play to the song.
"Rüya" starts off as dream like atmosphere from silky clean guitar that if you aren't careful may put you to sleep. I say that in a good way. It's almost like a sedative that you don't have to ingest. As it progresses the drumming picks up the pace and once the distortion kicks in you won' the sleeping anymore. The climax is the guitar solo that sounds like it could have come from a Pink Floyd song.
Mammoth is definitely not your typical rock band; they emit an incredibly sophisticated and varied sound that is unexpected, dynamic and surprising at every turn. The album is also of great sound quality and anyone into progressive experimental rock soul will greatly appreciate the varied sounds in this collection of songs.
It’s not very often in this day and age where the piano is the focal instrument for a band that for a lack of a better word plays alternative pop. There is a surplus of bands that have keys on their roster but the keys seem just to support the music and play second fiddle to an instrument like the guitar. It was refreshing to not only hear clean, straight piano on the album by Just Walden but to hear it at the center of songs not unlike those of Billy Joel or Elton John songs. It gave the songs an energy that felt both contemporary as well as nostalgic. It also doesn't hurt that that Danny Ferraro is a technical master who writes creative parts that often made me do a double take a couple of times.
There are fourteen songs on High Street Barton Blues, which may seem hefty but there are a number of songs that are only one-to-two minutes long that make it go by quickly. The majority of the songs fit nice and snug into an alternative pop category but they throw out a couple of songs that are experimental and even have a classical feel to them. That being said when the band is on they bring some very accessible, well-written tunes that are bound to get stuck in your head.
The album starts with a short but good instrumental piece entitled “Marrow Of Life” before going into one of the album’s highlights entitled “Romie Knows.” “Romie Knows” revolves around a circular piano melody, distorted lead guitar and organic drums that provide a heavy, steady beat that sometimes sounds like a house beat. The band is on point and delivers a well-crafted song that could easily be their single.
“Space Cadet” has a bit more melancholy and had some elements of Bowie on there and not just because of the name. Don’t miss the musical outro on this one. “Hole In The Head” felt like the most commercially viable song on the album and “Full Body Tattoo” has some welcome acoustic guitar.
The album’s one-off experimental number is “Spare Keys.” It is an almost psychedelic piece that has scattered vocals, drums and a number of interesting elements. Isolated the song works but in the context of the previous material it’s a bit jarring. They return with another solid pop song “Viviana Blue” before closing the album with an instrumental piece.
Overall High Street Barton Blues is mighty impressive and showcases a band that has a good amount of talent. There is still a little bit tweaking that needs to be done here and there but most of it sounds good to my ears.
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