Jun 2011 15

Cover Image
Whatley & Stone
Category: Electronica / Gothic
Album: Woven
Stars: 3
Blurb: With an understated musical element that might be better refined, the debut offering of Whatley & Stone highlights vocal gems that deserve attention.

 

Taking notes from artists Goldfrapp, Röyksopp, or even the likes of female-vocal driven Massive Attack, Whatley & Stone embark on their own path of studio electronica with the debut release, Woven. Graceful and elegant, Gina Stone’s vocals fill each song so much that it’s easy to get lost in a haze of despair and wonder. She possesses a rich soulfulness with a tonality and pitch range that simply enhances the music of each song she touches on. Matt Whatley holds his own quite well matching up with his instrumental contributions. The down-tempo delivery of keyboard electronica and studio musicianship on the part of both band members is compelling throughout the album, working remarkably well when combined with the vocals. The final production, however, may have been a bit more fine-tuned and polished upon listening intently with a set of headphones. It’s not to say that the overall sound isn’t enjoyable to a great degree – it’s simply that more post-production work might have elevated this album beyond that of a first effort album.

“Pulse” sets the stage for the essential layout for the rest of the album; low-key but fraught with beautifully arranged pseudo-gothic vocals. This pace continues steadily down a slope of moody entries, flowing somberly along yet always drawing the listener in. Stone’s vocal presence carries each track to heightened levels of pitch, harmonizing with her own voice and countering the musicianship without falter. She is as at home with a microphone, it seems, as a duck is to water. The haunting refrain of “I Am Ghost” resonates with the backing music in an elegant combination that is as eerie as it is engrossing. “Drowning” takes you in with its wonderful melancholy rhythm and bittersweet cry-for-help lyrics. Songs such as “Rain” and “Dark Angel, Black Heart” again exemplify the sorrowful component in the music that both she and Whatley have forged for themselves. While Stone is arguably the most imperative addition to the duo, the musical backdrop that both she and Whatley have forged together maintain as a pillar for the album.

Sweet and subtly ending the album is the track “Sleepwalking,” a song whose haunting choral waves literally take you into a mind-lull, finishing the album with a darkly sweet whisper, not weak by any sense of the word. Encapsulated on Woven is a string of songs that remain consistent in their lackadaisical delivery, enriched with elements of old-school down-tempo fashion. Barring any further production remissions you may find, this is still an album that will engross you enough to put it back into ‘repeat’ mode more than once.

 

Track list:

  1. Pulse
  2. Moonchild
  3. I Cry, You Lie
  4. I Am Ghost
  5. Take Me to Heaven
  6. It’s Just an Illusion
  7. Drowning
  8. Rain
  9. Mirror, Mirror
  10. Dark Angel, Black Heart
  11. Shine My Light
  12. Haunted
  13. Sleepwalking

 

Whatley & Stone MySpace http://www.myspace.com/whatleyandstone
Whatley & Stone Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Whatley-Stone/62280466233
Whatley & Stone ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/whatleystone

 

Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CDBaby

 

2009-12-29

 

Stephen Lussier (ioweyouacoke)

Jun 2011 15

Cover Image
Veil Veil Vanish
Category: New Wave
Album: Anthem for a Doomed Youth (Single)
Stars: 4.5
Blurb: A dreamy new wave sound that will make you want to drag out every piece of the ‘80s that you’ve secretly held onto.

 

Sure, Anthem for a Doomed Youth is basically just a five-track remix EP (four remixes of the title track and one bonus song), but it’ll get you hooked. Anyone old enough to appreciate the alternative and new wave greats of the ‘80s will find themselves drowning in nostalgic euphoria and wondering how Robert Smith managed to clone his essence and send it to a kid in San Francisco.

The heart of Veil Veil Vanish’s appeal is the poignant crooning of vocalist Keven Tecon. As the catchy yet simple melody of “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” begins, you are instantly drawn in. Tecon’s voice joins in, earnest, sad, and somehow hopeful; the vocal personification of every moment of angst felt in any young life. The album version is the most straightforward version, with uncluttered instrumentals and a focus on Tecon’s lovely voice. The Cheap Speed remix by Mucho Electro keeps the heart of the song but modernizes it a bit, dropping many of the lyrics in exchange for some dirty distortions that bring the vocals to a more haunted place. The No Wave in Hell remix is similar to the previous mix, but a bit slower, and the Gomorrah remix really takes it to a new place. Keeping the focus on the vocals, Anastasio Dimou adds some Eastern influences and intensifies the drumbeat, making the song feel more like an adventure than a tragedy. No matter what’s done with it, with the perfect combination of lyrical intensity and pop rhythms, every mix of “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” ultimately inspires nostalgic reflection and the need to bounce-dance like it is 1985.

And the gem buried in the middle of all this creamy goodness is “Modern Lust,” a song that could easily be the secret lovechild of Billy Idol and The Cure. After one listen, you’ll find yourself dancing in front of a full-length mirror, brush in hand, singing, “I can’t dance alone. I can’t dance with no one.”

The Anthem for a Doomed Youth single is the perfect introduction to Veil Veil Vanish, a band that has managed to recapture and combine the raw anguish of adolescence and the soul of ‘80s new wave, and bring it to the present without it seeming corny or outdated.

 

Track list:

  1. Anthem for a Doomed Youth (Album Version)
  2. Modern Lust (Album Version)
  3. Anthem for a Doomed Youth (Cheap Speed Remix by Mucho Electro)
  4. Anthem for a Doomed Youth (No Wave In Hell Remix by Mucho Electro)
  5. Anthem for a Doomed Youth (Gomorrah Remix by Anastasia Dimou)

 

Veil Veil Vanish Website http://veilveilvanish.com
Veil Veil Vanish MySpace http://www.myspace.com/veilveilvanish
Veil Veil Vanish Facebook http://www.facebook.com/veilveilvanish
Veil Veil Vanish ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/veilveilvanish
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords

 

Purchase at:
Amazon MP3

 

2010-01-05

 

Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)

Jun 2011 15

Cover Image
Bashed Nursling
Category: Power Noise
Album: Every Sunday Morning Kills Us
Stars: 2
Blurb: Bashed Nursling’s debut full-length is a brutally aimless and oppressive blend of static, noise, and punishing beats.

 

Bashed Nursling is a hard, aggressive experimental band from Hungary that recently released their debut full-length, Every Sunday Morning Kills Us, on the Portuguese net label Enough Records. The music presented on this record is frequently abrasive, hammering, and punishing. Typical for an album produced in this vein, the music lacks any vocal or lyrical content and relies completely on its aural experiments to entice the listener.

Comparable in form and style to earlier Terrorfakt and Ah Cama-Sotz, Every Sunday Morning Kills Us is as frantic and disjointed as it is fraying upon the nervous system. “Decaying Mental Theories” is a 12-minute exercise is droning, faceless feedback, and literally nothing else. “Mickey Did Shroomies” is a bit more typical of the project’s sound, a five-minute cut of random percussive beats, shrieks, static, and haunting, eerie melodies.

Toward the end of the album, we reach “Dawn is Coming,” a fast-paced dance-influenced track that largely leaves behind the noise and creates a track that almost exudes a commercial appeal. The album finishes off with the track “Last Five Pulse” continuing to move further away from the power noise pigeonhole, including guitar in a slower, more directed track. Unfortunately, the mixing on the record is a little too muddled and frequently all of the layers of sound and noise and racket blur together, making a loud, dissonant record even more so.

On the whole, Every Sunday Morning Kills Us could easily find a place in the collection of anyone who’s looking for more random, drug-induced electronic music experiments. As for the rest of us, skip it. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been crafted before – and better – by someone else.

 

Track list:

  1. Fuck You Literature
  2. Deeper to the Bones
  3. Mickey Did Shroomies
  4. Remains of a Heart
  5. Every Sunday Morning Kills Us
  6. I Am Chaos
  7. Decaying Mental Theories
  8. Ejaculation of Zepar
  9. Dawn is Coming (Remastered)
  10. Last Five Pulse

 

Bashed Nursling MySpace http://www.myspace.com/bashednursling
Enough Records Website http://enoughrecords.scene.org
Enough Records MySpace http://myspace.com/enoughrec
Enough Records Facebook http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/EnoughRecords-Netlabel/100000594643003
Enough Records Twitter http://twitter.com/enoughrec

 

2010-01-14

 

Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

Jun 2011 15

Cover Image
Liquid Stranger
Category: Electronica
Album: Steel Trap EP
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Soothing and mellow, Liquid Stranger’s Steel Trap EP is pleasant but lacks variety.

 

Less varied than the songs heard on The Intergalactic Slapstick, the Steel Trap EP seems to be much more reggae inspired, with deliberate rhythms, layers of deep electronic sounds, and voices used primarily as instruments rather than focusing on lyrics.

Steel Trap is mellow music for stoners and insomniacs. The beats are slow, the melodies are subtle, nearly hidden behind the rhythm, and the voices sound like a vacation to the islands – warm, sunny, and very unrushed. This could easily be background music for a late night party. The problem is, though, that because every song is so mellow, subtle, and relaxed, they tend to run together. There is very little difference between “Aftershock” and “Rough Road.” Sure, one has an accordion-sounding instrument and the other seems to feature more of a traditional reggae beat, they aren’t very distinctively different.

Interesting and nice to listen to, Steel Trap is a pleasant EP for quiet moods. Although the songs are all very similar, at least that means you can set it to repeat and not notice when the five songs have played multiple times each.

 

Track list:

  1. Deep Down Below
  2. Aftershock
  3. Full Metal Jacket (175pf Reload)
  4. Rough Road (Fender Bender Fix)
  5. Sincerely Yours

 

Liquid Stranger MySpace http://www.myspace.com/liquidstranger
Liquid Stranger Facebook http://www.facebook.com/liquidstranger
Interchill Records Website http://www.interchill.com
Interchill Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Interchill

 

Purchase at:
Amazon MP3

 

2010-01-18

 

Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)

Jun 2011 15

Cover Image
Semi0n
Category: Post-Punk / Electronica
Album: Sex, Death, & Repetition
Stars: 2
Blurb: Last year, UK band Semi0n released its first recording. Of the 20 CD copies they produced, their website says they still have one left.

 

Sex, Death, & Repetition is the debut EP from Semi0n, an English experimental band. Comprised of Limp Sidney, Wilhelm Stroker, and Captain Shitébeard, the four-song EP features a muddy garage style of rock that infuses electronica elements. Similar at times to bands like Pigface, Murder Inc., and Killing Joke, Sidney’s vocal style is also reminiscent of a more alto Chris Connelly.

Available as a download from UK label MoMT Records, Sex, Death, & Repetition also saw a physical CD-R release of all of 20 copies, each with a homemade gatefold sleeve. With such a tiny hard copy release of such average DIY quality, it’s curious as to why the band would even bother with such a miniscule limited run.

While the music on this EP shows a good deal of promise – lyrically and musically the material shows a decent level of competence – Sex, Death, & Repetition still feels half baked. Nothing stands out on this release. Everything from the artwork, to mastering, to its physical release could have seen more effort and imagination. Considering their first track was available on an MoMT compilation in 2008, you would think they could have cranked out more than four mediocre songs in two years’ time. If you enjoy hopelessly obscure college Brit rock, this one’s for you.

 

Track list:

  1. Die with Dignity
  2. Lips
  3. The 3Rs
  4. I Think We’re Dead

 

Semi0n MySpace http://www.myspace.com/semi0n
Semi0n Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Semi0n/120867031275414
Semi0n BandCamp http://semi0n.bandcamp.com
MoMT Records Website http://www.momt.co.uk
MoMT Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/momtrecords

 

2010-01-26

 

Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

Jun 2011 15

Cover Image
Skeleton Trees
Category: Goth / Ambient
Album: Season of Mists
Stars: 4.5
Blurb: Skeleton Trees’ debut album is one no fan of ethereal gothic music should be without.

 

Formed in 2007, Skeleton Trees is a band from Montreal, Canada that explores some unique territory on the debut album, Seasons of Mists. Composed primarily of Alice Morrison, Jay Bannon, Jean-David Brouillette, and Ian D’Amours, Skeleton Trees have orchestrated a wonderfully beautiful and subdued record that takes a gentle and soothing approach to thematically dark music.

Seasons of Mists begins with the mostly instrumental “Intro (Whispers in the Wind),” but the real fun begins with “The Obscuration of Dreams;” a track that fuses a number of different styles – you can hear everything from neo-folk to chamber music elements in this track and much of the record for that matter. Morrison’s vocal prowess is also in top form on this record, breathing a ghostly life into each and every song. Her vocal and lyrical style imbues the record with a significant amount of emotional weight. Flawlessly produced and mixed, you can hear every nuance of each instrument and each track flows seamlessly into the next.

Seasons of Mists is not for the attention challenged, however. While the band achieves plateaus of higher energy, it often takes time for the band to build up to them. Frequently, the record’s pace is consistently slow and steady with many of the tracks reaching upwards of 10 minutes long. As overly long songs can be a deterrent for some, it should be mentioned the fact that the vast majority of the instruments played on this record are of the organic variety, with synthetic elements taking a distant second. An incredible amount of musicianship went into this record.

For a first release, the amount of effort that went into Seasons of Mist is fairly surprising. Skeleton Trees went to great lengths to produce a work that is intricate as it is layered, as well as giving the album a very polished presentation with its artwork and packaging. My guess is we’ll be hearing plenty more from this band in the years to come.

 

Track list:

  1. Intro (Whispers in the Wind)
  2. The Obscuration of Dreams
  3. Black Moon Rising
  4. A Tear in the Fabric of Time
  5. Her Home in Every Mirror
  6. Shadows (Part 1-3)
  7. Inside Her Cave
  8. Lady of the Snow
  9. Wail of the Banshees
  10. Dead Leaves River

 

Skeleton Trees Website http://www.skeletontrees.com
Skeleton Trees MySpace http://www.myspace.com/skeletontrees
Les Productions Kaivalya Website http://www.lesproductionskaivalya.com
Les Productions Kaivalya Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lesproductionskaivalya

 

Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CDBaby

 

2010-01-28

 

Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

Jun 2011 15

Strong personalities and musicians go hand-in-hand. No one wants to see an under-confident, every-man-Joe climb up on the stage. Bold, opinionated front men are the lifeblood of the music industry. Having said this, there is a fine line between larger-than-life entertainer and unadulterated asshole-ism. Some performers walk this line deftly and some take a steaming shit on it (and more importantly, their fan base).
I am, of course, speaking in regards to Faderhead’s recent blog entry, How to Hang with Faderhead. In said blog, FH walks us through an 11-point step-by-step tutorial on acceptable interaction with him post-show (because you must NEVER speak to him before a show, as we learn in rule nine). Not to be outdone, I have arranged my responses to these points in an equally easy to read fashion.

 

1. BE PATIENT

As any McDonald’s employee can tell you, working with the public is a tricky thing. People, shockingly enough in such a homogenized society, tend to be very different in their interactions with other humans. Chalk it up to divorced parents, church groups, age, and/or lunar cycles, but not everyone interacts with others the same way. Some are rude. Some are jovial. Some are on crystal meth. Now, this humble writer detests the rude and/or impatient people as well; this is a pretty common complaint. The rub here is as such: These people aren’t coming to your house to play Twister or finger your sister; they’re paying customers who allow you to do what it is you do. Some of these folks plunked down hard earned cash to buy your album. Nearly all of them paid a cover charge or bought a ticket to see you. Hell, some of them may even buy your sticker and put it on their very first MIDI controller. No one likes the hyperactive 18-year-old girl who is oblivious to the line of people in front of her, but one need only stop taking himself so seriously for 2.5 seconds and politely ask said fan to wait in line with everyone else. Some people are simply oblivious to their own behavior and need a gentle reminder.

 

2. DO NOT POKE ME

I can’t really argue with FH on this one. No one likes an unprompted poking; I’ll give you that. However, I would yet again say that the burden of patience is on the PAID performer here. I wouldn’t even fault the gentleman for a nasty response after said poking. I do, however, have to question the need for a numbered entry regarding one’s distaste for poking.

 

3. DO NOT GIVE ME YOUR CD

To the fellow musicians out there: Did you pay attention in your “how to break into the alt-music industry 101” class? I must have fallen asleep too, because I can’t remember who it’s cool to give my crappy demos to. Using common sense, I always assumed it was likeminded and/or connected individuals relevant to me. I know it’s a huge leap in logic to assume that an electronic artist might listen to electronic music, but I never had handy lists like this growing up. As for not even telling you about the CD, well fuck my ass and call me Sally; I thought this was a list on how to HANG with Faderhead. Most of my friends (y’know people I HANG with) have had to tolerate my constant preening about demos/DJ gigs/watercolor paintings and every other stupid project I’m involved with. People tend to talk about… oh I don’t know… THINGS THEY’RE FUCKING INTERESTED IN! When I’m talking to someone else who makes music or works in the industry, I usually expect that one of us is going to bring up something we’re involved with.

 

4. DON’T ASK ME ABOUT THE SOFTWARE I USE

Yet again, I don’t know WHY anyone would assume this would be a relevant conversation with a software-based musician. Nor can I even fathom why someone trying to learn more about a chosen field would ask questions like this of an established musician. Thanks for setting us straight FH!

 

5. DON’T ASK ME TO GIVE YOU SOME OF MY VODKA

I’m going to go with FH on this one again. This is just plain rude and I’m sure a little bit irritating. While one could simply say “no” and explain that life on the road is hard and that there is not a ton of money in their pocket, thanks to the miracle of the internet, we can instead get a self-indulgent blog post such as this.

 

6. BUY ME A DRINK INSTEAD

Okay, okay, wait a minute… Didn’t you just bash your fans for asking this same thing? To quote: “We are in a club. There’s a bar. Buy it yourself, cheap-ass!” I just fucking paid to see you! I have to pick up your tab now as well? Now, I AM known to buy an artist a drink, but soliciting it via blog post is just… tacky. Again, performers are usually broke, but couldn’t you just do what many broke DJs do? DRINK BACKSTAGE! Flasks are remarkably cheap these days.

 

7. DON’T JUST STAND IN THE DISTANCE AND STARE

Do you remember that kid in high school? You know; the SHY one. He/she had a hard time making introductions and could come off as semi-creepy. Really, sometimes people just need a wave or a smile to overcome their social anxiety. If this doesn’t work, just be thankful someone finds you interesting enough to stare at.

 

8. DON’T TELL ME MY FRIENDS SUCK

Fair enough FH, fair enough. No one likes their friends bashed. I mean, one could simply disagree and move the topic on to something else, thereby showing some social grace and a thick skin. But hey, who am I to tell someone how to interact with others? I’ll leave that to the pros.

 

9. DON’T INTERUPT ME BEFORE THE SHOW

Preshow time can be stressful. All performers know this. Sadly, you’re not dealing with an audience full of performers here. Some people are, again, oblivious. A simple solution to this is to politely say something along the lines of, “Hey, running around trying to get ready for the show, catch me afterward.” This would even be a perfect chance to hand out those How to Hang with Faderhead laminated cheat-sheets in your back pocket. That way, the patron won’t commit any more embarrassing social sins and you can continue the stressful process of plugging in a laptop.

 

10. DON’T TRY TO START A CONVERSATION ON THE DANCEFLOOR

We have all had the difficult experience of trying to socialize amid a wall of sound. This goes hand-in-hand with the club scene. However, perhaps the fan trying to chat you up just didn’t know when another opportunity would present itself. Perhaps they are leaving soon. Perhaps they simply read your blog and didn’t want to stare at you until you moved to a noise-reduced area. Perhaps you could just be polite and smile and nod or make the universal “I can’t hear you” motion.

 

11. KNOW HOW TO OPERATE YOUR CAMERA

Sorry FH; with the rampant wave of new technology and my penchant for breaking phones, I never seem to find the time to really get to know my phone. This, coupled with the 47 shots of Jäger, has left me all thumbs and you may have to act like I (the paying fan) am anything more than human garbage while I take an additional 30 seconds to get the camera right. However, in the end, it will be worth it: All my Facebook friends will want to check you out after they see our photo, captioned “How to take a photo with a pompous ass.”

 

Richard Reich