Friday, May 12, 2006

Music That's Better Than You. Week 2

Originaly posted on 5/10/06 on Last.Fm


Hey what’s the difference between The Stills and The Killers?

Figure that out and you’ll know the difference between poser post-punk bands like Franz Ferdinand and their most dangerous rivals; bands like Cities.

Oh also, as an added bonus once you’ve puzzled that out, you’ll also know the difference between cliché soulless modern pop rock and well crafted music.

Cities is a surprisingly angsty and honest version of a sonic brand that’s always tried to dress itself with both of those features, usually resulting in a thinly veiled, shallow pop act.

Traditionally the bar seems to drop when it comes to the vocals for an indie band, so for fans with higher expectations Cities is a pleasant change of pace. Here is front man that can actually hit and sustain notes and melodies, often being haunting and spacey without being too abstract and wandering like the recent slew of Thom York mimics I’ve run into.

But that’s not to say that Cities doesn’t have a few Radiohead moments. The guitar work especially dabbles in OK Computer era aerobatics and moaning.

Ultimately in a time when Brit Rock (and the alike) bands are rushing into the greasy light to pose and strut Cities self-titled Yep Rock release seems eerily content to stare from the shadows, biding it’s time and waiting it’s turn to do something awful.

Sounds like:
The grim conclusions and mood of The Still’s first album in conjunction with Muse’s love of both stage shaking balls-out rock and almost psychedelic melody.

No really, sounds like:
A knife-fight soundtrack. Perfect for a blood letting under a full summer moon.

[MP3] Cities - A Theme

[THE ‘SPACE] Cities

[HOME] Cities

Jose Gonzalez

No, this isn’t a Calexico solo project; it’s the indie-folk work of a lone man from Sweden.

Now if you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t even know they had music in Sweden. Apparently, they do and it sounds like Nick Drake. SO for those of you keeping track, that puts this year’s scores at:

Sweden: +1
Canada: -26

Back in 2005 Jose Gonzalez released Veneer, an entirely acoustic album supplemented solely with vocals sung so gently you’d swear Gonzalez recorded them in bed beside his sleeping Swedish lover.

Or maybe he records in an apartment like mine. And Maybe Jose lives in perpetual fear of creating any noise above 2 decibels- which is the minimum requirement for setting off your neighbor’s dog, a hell-spawned creature capable of barking for 6 hours straight without breaking for food, rest or air.

Actually this post is dedicated to my landlords. Who needs insulation between apartment walls? Nope, not me.
Slime bags.

Sounds like:
Nick Drake covering Iron and Wine.

No really, sounds like:
If you were backed into a corner by a rabid wolverine, who’d only moments ago caught you nailing his girlfriend in the middle of their living room, and you happened to be armed with an acoustic guitar - these are the most calming and melancholy songs you would play soothe the foaming murderous beast.

[THE ‘SPACE] Jose Gonzalez

[HOME] Jose Gonzalez

Taking Back Sunday

Shut up and listen to me.

I don’t like fast food. Not McDonalds, not Burger king, no, not even Wendy’s. That’s not to say I don’t like burgers and fries. I just don’t like my burgers flat, oiled and consisting of an inordinate percentage of rat meet. And if I’m gonna eat fries let me get some thick beer battered crispy browned fries.

See where I’m going with this?

I don’t mind hooks, power chords and radio-friendly song structure as long as they are done right. Guess who does it right? Taking Back Sunday does.

I give them big credit on Louder Now for maintaining their signature sound while pushing the album's tones in directions they’ve never ventured into before. Yes, there are the anthemic sing-alongs and huge pop guitar riffs and all the snappy drumming you can find on a pop-punk album BUT you’ve also got the production values of Eric Valentine darkening up their usual grinning pop sound and twisting it into something less like a dude whining outside of a high school dance and more like a dude cracking his knuckles outside of a local bar.

Sounds like:
Eric Valentine finished scratching a raw rock itch he'd caught while producing the Queens of the Stone Age.

No really, sounds like:
Metal solos and grooves that prove TBS is growing out of the post-hardcore/mallcore movement and into something less likely to induce tears and more likely to induce the holy art of air-guitar.

[THE ‘SPACE] Taking Back Sunday

[HOME] Taking Back Sunday

Aussitot Mort

It takes a special kind of band to make me feel like a relapsed drug addict.

A French post-hardcore screamo band to be precise.

Understand that at this time last year I was listening to screamo like the throat-shredding screams and fret-bending riffs held a secret message only divinable through audio osmoses. I went so far as to create another website entirely devoted to this scene in hopes of helping (enabling) other fans to find (score) more brilliant underground screamo (crack.)

However in the end I did burn out. I heard too much of the same genre and it all began to blend together into a single chaotic wailing chorus of shrieks and blistering distortion. (It wasn’t as cool as that sounds.)

And then a few weeks ago I see Level Plane is re-releasing an EP by a little French band called Aussitot Mort. LP hasn’t been real active recently and when they stretch themselves to put out something from over-seas you’d better take double notice ‘cause it probably slays. Sure enough this four song EP is a destroyer. It has all of the epic swells the European screamo scenes are so famous for (the same structure that led me right to an addiction to post-rock) and it has all of the twinkling spacey melodic breakdowns that define the genre… but there is something else here… the format is more creative, the notes a little more daring and expansive. This is a fresh sound midst a field swollen with nearly one hundred other bands all roaring and thundering on the same structures and principles. Each song on this EP feels like its nine minutes long, yet none of them breach five. The guitar runs are all simple but clever and the riffing is large and weighty. But there is just a depth to this release that reminds me of what makes Envy so unique; a huge quality to the music that defies a simple definition. It’s like seeing the fin of a huge shark peak above the water; you know the beast is there and that jagged hint is more than enough to scare you shitless.

So for those of us who’d become a little jaded with the screamo movement Aussitot Mort is a vicious treat. And for those of us who’d thought we’d kicked our problem Aussitot Mort could be a new start to an old bad habit.

Sounds like:
Envy, Daitro and Amanda Woodward decided to craft a simple four song definition of the European screamo sound.

No really, sounds like:
Guitar born ambience and echo soaked phrases punctuated with bombardments of distortion and rhythm.

[MP3] Aussitot Mort - Mmoria Grigia
[MP3] Aussitot Mort - Le Dsespoir Des Singes

[THE ‘SPACE] Aussitot Mort

[HOME] Aussitot Mort


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