Friday, June 29, 2007

Battles - Mirrored

Warp Records)

"If any band has laid down the future of what rock should become this year it is Battles for sure." -Raven Sings The Blues

"Battles have done more to extend the idea of a flesh-and-blood band enhanced by computer technology than anyone since the late, lamented Disco Inferno." -Pitchfork

"The music Battles are making deserves to be heard, and respected.....Even if you’re not much of a cerebral-rock person, take a chance with this one—it pays off." -Pop Matters

Why is every critic raving about the new full legnth Battles album, Mirrored? Battles is labeled a cerebral, math rock, noodled band. What do those things mean? Let's wikipedia them: Cerebral: Describes an angle of thinking that utilizes the intellect rather than intuition or instinct, Math Rock: style of noise rock music that emerged in the late 1980's. It is characterised by complex, atypical rhythmic structures, stop/start dynamics and angular, dissonant riffs, and the most interesting term, Noodled: oh wait, I searched everywhere and no one seems to have an exact definition for what "noodled" music is! Don't you hate how music reviewers make up their own words to describe how things sound, ya me too- but, ya know what, I don't know how in the world to desribe Battles either. They are being labeled as one of the most progressive bands as of late, which is interesting since they are labeled "math rock" which isn't really considered a progressive genre to be in anymore. Every reviewer seems to be raving, but everyone else doesn't seem to be as enchanted. Well, I am going to have to take the side of the reviewers on this one. This album is pretty mind blowing. It sounds like insanity in musical form. This is an album that can't be pushed into the background. You need to put on your stereo headphones, lock yourself in your bedroom, and devour this album. I can't wait for their show at the Urban Lounge July 7th. They are supposedly amazing live. So, why is every critic pissing their pants over Mirrored? Because... it really is that good.


Parts & Labor - Mapmaker

Parts & Labor
(2007, Jagjaguwar)

Parts & Labor construct hyper-kinetic, reverb soaked, major chord skyscrapers. There is something about the tracks on Mapmakers, their second release on Jagjaguwar, that feels like they are being broadcast from the top of the Empire State building. Each track is a towering anthem with snowballing momentum. The core of this momentum is based in P&L’s drumming. Continuously reaching insane speeds that are only rivaled by the Hella’s and Lighting Bolt’s of the drumming universe. However, instead of pounding a hole in your chest, P&L’s drum clatter creates a furious wall supporting a wash of static dipped guitars amped to 12. I think the most descriptive word here is energy. Parts & Labor seem to contain boundless energy to propel their endless guitar riffs sailing into oblivion. The only reservation I do have is with the vocals. While they don’t necessarily detract anything the vocals do not lay any new or interesting ground that could push a talented band like Parts & Labor into a consistently memorable one. Reservations aside, July seems like the perfect time to buy some fireworks and blast Parts & Labor.

-Mr. Thistle

Parts & Labor - Fractured Skies

CocoRosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
(2007, Touch & Go)

CocoRosie are polarizers. There is no way to find a middle ground here, you either fall deeply in love or frantically escape. 2005’s album Noah’s Ark found me firmly in CocoRosie’s camp, defending their bizarro, freak folk (the only time this tag seems accurate). Unfortunately, it seems that their third album has quickly ushered me out of CocoRosie’s discordant earshot. It seems that this circus act has discovered a lost treasure chest of Wu Tang records and has fallen head over heels. Yep, with The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn you are listening to hip hop CocoRosie and this stuff is grating. I am talking about the kind of noise that makes you want to box your ears with bricks. Now, as a reference point here, I absolutely love and seek out unconventional noises and musical weirdness. I thrive on it really. Inventiveness is one of the most enjoyable and respectable attributes I seek when discovering new music, but honestly, Cocorosie is killing me. I have wavered a little bit on coming to grips with whether I liked this album or not. I have given it more than its fare share of “second chances” and the verdict is no. I will not subject myself to this. It is literally nauseating. CocoRosie may smirk at that response like it is an inside joke but I am glad to oblige them because if that is the reaction they are after, they have hit their mark. You’re not usually going to see many reviews here at Forest Gospel below a 7.0 because the intent of this site is to share what we love and recommend. I feel like it is important here to not recommend The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn.

-Mr. Thistle

The Boats - Tomorrow Time

The Boats
Tomorrow Time
(2007, Moteer)

The Boats' third full length release, Tomorrow Time, is a little behind the times for the band's musical evolution. The album transforms the beauty of their former album’s piano-loop instrumentals to a trendy downbeat electronic pop. Tomorrow Time comes off with the same subtle nature of Dntel’s debut masterpiece but lacks the depth of production Dntel's outing offered. The Boats have added both male and female vocals to their discovery of textured minimalist beats and Colleen styled string patterns. The effect is undeniably beautiful but often becomes boring with the overdramatics of a well documented subgenre. The trouble is, Tomorrow Time is competing with albums from bands like Hood and The Notwist who perfected these msucial ideas over half a decade ago. Without any new revelations to the style Tomorrow Time just comes off as pleasant, sure to be an occasional listen any time you actually notice it while scrolling through your Ipod. Essentially, The Boats have created high quality mediocrity here. The Boats win with enthusiasts but fail to reach much farther.

-Mr. Thistle

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Lionelle - Oh! The Little Bee! EP!

Local Review
The Lionelle
Oh! The Little Bee! EP!
(2007, Self Released)

Salt Lake City Mastermind, Tate McCallum-Law (MC-L from here on out), has dished up a delicious piece of awkward acoustic pop mayhem On The Lionelle’s debut EP. Coupling the efforts MC-L and drumming compatriot Ryan Thatcher, Oh! The Little Bee! EP! Provides four quaint tracks as a terrifically hand packaged gem. MC-L is the master of these songs layering acoustic guitars and vocal tracks to produce nervousness that is somehow enjoyable. There is a strain in MC-L vocal whispers that bleeds somewhere in the ballpark of Isaac Brock impersonating Jamie Stewart. These are minimalist confessionals of the finest quality. The only real problem here is anticipation for what is to come. With the additional cast of contributing characters under MC-L’s wing and an increase in volume and the level of rock at their recent shows, The Lionelle just may produce the best local album of the year. So where is it fellas? (Oh! The Little Bee! EP! Is only available though Slowtrain on 3rd South.)

- Mr. Thistle

The Lionelle on Myspace

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Of Montreal
Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
(2007, Polyvinyl Records)

I had a hard time rating this album- I remember being absolutely in love with it when it first came out, but since then I have become somewhat jaded (maybe it's because they sucked live at Sundance). It' s a really great pop album, but that's about it. I've never been a huge Of Montreal fan. I usually like about 3-4 songs per release, but I can honestly say I actually enjoy the entire album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?. The album is slightly darker than earlier Of Montreal releases. Singer, Kevin Barnes, was experiencing a bitter divorce and separation from his new daughter while writing the album which aided him in producing songs such as the new wave-ish "The Past is a Grotesque Animal," which has fairly depressing lyrics. But-even though critics have claimed this Kevin Barnes' darkest album, it's still Of Montreal- which means the music is still dancy, quick paced, and laid back. Barnes' wrote this album almost entirely on his own and poured his broken little heart right into it. If listened to lightly it may seem like a happy no-worries dance album, but if paid attention to you will realize the substance depth in the album. Sometimes it just feels a little too theatrical, like their music video for Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse, which I think is pretty hilarious. It's just so poppy, like drinking straight snow cone syrup, if there was such thing as extra bitter coffee flavored snow cones.

-Sassy Grass

The National - Boxer

The National
(2007, Beggars Banquet)

A lot of people call The National’s albums “growers,” but I think that is a bit misleading. The truth about The National is that the first time you listen to them the songs come off as deep as the fifth time you listen to similar artists (Arcade Fire, I’m looking at you). The National are that good. And from your first listen forward they only get better and better. It is really hard to identify what makes the seemingly standard indie rock The National produce heads and shoulders above their contemporaries. On my first time through Boxer I thought I had it; The National’s drummer, Bryan Devendorf, is definitely the most inventive, technically proficient drummer on the indie rock market. On the second listen I was corrected, the subtle dual guitar interplay and piano on Boxer was the culprit for success. The third listen marked another change, identifying Matt Berniger’s syrupy relaxed vocals as the winning factor. After about 5 or so changes of opinion, I was back to step one – the drumming. I could cycle through each members talent endlessly. Truth is everything here is perfect. There is no unnecessary note. Every member hits their mark flawlessly. The album is baked in a slow-burning perfection that I have rarely heard throughout a full album. Further more, The National share a descriptive title usually reserved by legends like David Bowie and Tom Waits: class. There is a certain level of undaunted, confident-but-not-cocky class that pervades the album. The only reason I have hesitantly given the album a nine is that by some unimaginable course, 2005’s Alligator was even better. Boxer still has room to grow though. Let’s just say – ‘at least a 9.0.’

-Mr. Thistle

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Animal Collective - People EP

Animal Collective
People EP
(2006, EMI Int'l)

I decided I would review People since Mr. Thistle reviewed Hollinndagain-I figured I'd also dip my paws into the Animal Collective honey pot. People consists of 4 songs, 2 of which are actually the same song, "People," only one version is live. Both versions of "People" are interesting on different levels. It's great to have a live recording to compare with the produced recording- since AC are known to slightly embelish or change their songs when playing live. Seeing AC live is an experience unlike any other, and the live version of "People" brings back fond memories of hearing versions of songs that will never be released. I rated this album a 6.5 almost solely because 3 new songs seems a little scanty for an EP. The songs are great- most closely related to their work on Feels than to any of their other albums, but it seems to be more of an extension of Feels, which makes sense considering these tracks were recorded during the same sessions as Feels. I have come to expect AC to be very progressive, with each album differing from the others, so I guess I was just slightly let down by how similar this was. But don't get me wrong, "Tikwid" is one of my favorite AC songs ever released, with Avey singing faster than I can recall him ever singing before. I am glad that I have these AC songs in my collection, but the album probably isn't going to knock your socks unless you are already a die-hard AC fan.

-Sassy Grass

Animal Collective - People

Animal Collective - Hollinndagain

Animal Collective
(2006, Paw Tracks)

This is not a new recording from Animal Collective, but for all intents and purposes you should see it that way. Hollinndagain is a re-release of a limited edition (only 300!) vinyl album of live recordings released in 2003. During the period Animal Collective were playing brand new songs for every show. These are hand picked selections from early 2001 and definitely reflect the style of their other albums released around that time like Danse Manatee, Campfire Songs and especially Here Comes the Indian. With that said, these are all brand new songs that, unless you got a copy of the original vinyl, should be consumed like Rod and Tod Flanders eating Pixie Stix. Don’t let the fact that these are “Live recordings” scare you away either. I couldn’t imagine a better method of recording for any of these tracks. Now many of you may only be familiar with the Collective’s most recent excursions into psych-folk-pop weirdness on Sung Tongs and Feels. If this is the case, know that Hollinndagain is a completely different beast. Filled with a beard of extreme textures and intense tribal freak-outs, Hollinndagain is Lord of the Flies music at its craziest. This is an essential and completely legitimate release from one of the most inspired bands working today. (The album’s third song is the inspiration for our namesake!)

-Mr. Thistle

Hip Hop shows in SLC

Just in case Dan Deacon isn’t emo enough for you and Shearwater isn’t rap enough you, Tomorrow (Thursday, 6.28.07) peeps can also see emo-rapper (and former Bonnie “Prince” Billy collaborator) Sage Francis vent at In the Venue. From the sound of the opening track on his most recent album he would probably strangle me for labeling him like that. Anywho, Buck 65 is opening which is reason enough to go to this show.

Sage Francis - Climb Trees

Buck 65 – Kennedy Killed the Hat

In other awesome Hip Hop show news. Legendary Hieroglyphics main man, Del the Funky Homosapien will be rocking the mic in Salt Lake City, Thursday, July 5th at the Urban Lounge (thank you for bringing hip hop down from Park City)!! I ‘m not super familiar with most of his solo stuff but his Deltron 3030 revolutionary and all Hieroglyphics’ output is nuts. Must see for hip hop heads! Don't let this old school video dissuade you:

And here is an Anticon remix of 2006's official "summer jam" for Sassy Grass:

Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet (Remix)

Mr. Thistle

Ultra Dolphins - Mar

Ultra Dolphins
(2006, Robotic Empire)

Whenever I read the name of this band all I can think of is some genetically modified super Dan Marino (kind of like Super Shredder)! Ultra Dolphins definitely live up to my ridiculous imaginations to boot. Rocking utterly preposterous, experimental post-hardcore in the vein of XBXRX and The Blood Brothers, Ultra Dolphins are my new hyperactive outlet. It is hard to explain how much fun Mar is. For some reason they remind me of Man Man a little bit with their little interspersed piano lines and muddy vocals. Listening to the album while writing this I keep finding these weird words pop into my head like “charming,” “hilarious” and “retarded.” Not always your average descriptors for an aggressive spazzcore ensemble but somehow Ultra Dolphins pull it off with a high level of respectability. Mar is a super lo-fi recording which may shadow some of the incredible instrumentation here but is all the better for it. Just over 30 minutes but that is about the extent of my post-hardcore attention span anyway. Tubular?

-Mr. Thistle

Marnie Stern: Live At Urban Lounge 6/25/07

When we first got to Urban there weren't many people there. The few that were there were mostly there for the local opener, Dead Horse Point. After they played there was no other opener, just Marnie Stern. It took the crowd 3 or 4 songs to really get into the music, but slowly people came out of the woodwork to gawk at the sheer amount of technical skill flying forth from the stage. It was amazing to watch the crowd, eyes widened, jaws dropping one by one. In fact, I have never seen an Urban crowd give that much attention to a band, and how could they not- their brains were being smashed by guitar shredding maddness. The sound was powerful and magic. It felt like Marnie and Robby's guitar were sending out waves of rainbows while Zach was supplying the lightning. It was like all the forces of nature combing and obliterating the Urban Lounge through one of the loudest sets I've experienced. The whole time I couldn't help but think about how Marnie and Zach should have children together. I mean, think how fast they could move! They could probly take over the entire world, cause they've got to be part machine. The most amazing thing to watch was Zach's bass pedel work. He plays double bass faster than I have ever seen anyone play double bass except he does it all with one foot and one pedel! Seriously, this trio was insane. After they finished playing the crowd stayed and masochistically screamed for an encore. After about ten minutes they were still yelling and begging for more. We finally left and saw the band outside, so I don't think the crowd ever got the encore they wanted. I wouldn't want to play an encore if I had just run a musical marathon. When they finished playing Zach outfit was entirely covered in sweat- there wasn't a dry spot on him. Overall, this show was one of the best shows I've seen so far this year. We postponed a vacation just so that we would be in town for this, and it was definately worth it. Oh, and we got out of there at 12:20a.m., which is an absolute record for an Urban Show. Amazing!

Sassy Grass

Nat Baldwin - Enter the Wind

Nat Baldwin
Enter The Wind
(2006, Broken Sparrow)

I love Nat Baldwin. Enter The Wind is Baldwin’s first full length release on Broken Sparrow following the endearing Lights Out Ep released in 2005. A former Dirty Projectors collaborator, Baldwin shares a little bit with Longstreth’s troupe while forging a whole new territory for himself. Wielding a standup bass, Baldwin eschews most of the trappings that catch acoustic guitar savvy singer songwriters, creating a wholly unique vision of orchestrated avant-pop. With a crooning, syrupy voice, Baldwin’s ballads melt you into a sepia-toned comforter with unmatched beauty. I found Baldwin last year (using the ever-powerful Myspace) and have been unable to shake the need to listen to Baldwin over and over again. Some how Baldwin has discovered how to write and play songs that drill themselves into your subconscious, constantly tickling your desire to press the replay button. With Enter the Wind, Baldwin has anchored in his own little corner of perfect baroque-pop diamonds.

-Mr. Thistle

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Best of Seth - Sparrow Trout Heart Sprout

Best of Seth
Sparrow Trout Heart Sprout
(2007, Achord Recordings)

Seth, member of the mighty Akron/Family, apparently has been recording quite a bit of side material away from his glorious band. This beautifully packaged 3 CD gem was limited to 500 copies and is already running scarce. I picked up my copy through Slowtrain Records (SLC’s most wonderful independent record store) for a mere $15 bucks. So, today I decided to browse this thing on Amazon and guess what? The sucker is being sold between $97 and $149 used and is nowhere to be found on Ebay! (Thank you, Slowtrain.) So, what is all this fuss about? I'm as big an Akron/Family gusher as anyone, but it would take a mighty mighty good and equally rare CD for me to even consider dropping $100+. Seriously, it was released this year for heaven’s sake. Here is the lowdown: probably not worth its Amazon inflation. This is Akron/Family-lite music mostly comparable to the bands debut. Here we have watered down Akron without their signature disjointed harmonies and psych-rock embellishments. Additionally, having 3 CDs worth of material is a bit overwhelming. It looks like Mr. Seth just couldn’t part with all his recordings. I know that if this was pared down, it would be an albums worth of mind-blowing material. Instead we are left with a bloated beast. Now don’t read me too wrong - it is still satisfying to search these CDs for their fruits, but it could have been revelatory with a bit more restraint.

-Mr. Thistle

City of Caterpillar - S/T

City of Caterpillar
(2002, Level Plane)

I remember hearing about this band in a chat room (don’t ask me how that happened) about 6 years ago as a recommendation along side Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Audio Center. Anyway, I loved Godspeed and still do, so I took the invitation to look into the bands. Audio Center turned out to be an indie/emo combo that fulfilled its purpose whenever it was needed during those tumultuous teenage years. I would like to say that that that type of band has been in all of our lives but I am afraid that isn't as true as I would like it to be. City of Caterpillar was a bit elusive, however, and remained on a list of bands I wanted for about 3 years until I finally broke down and ordered it. Even with the lapse of time City of Caterpillar's self titled debut is one of very favourite albums of any genre. It perfectly combined two mild obsessions: instrumental indie rock (GYBE, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky) and experimental hardcore (Refused, Botch, Pg. 99). Oh man did this album floor me. I have to reiterate that I still love this album which is not something I can say for a lot of music that I listened to in High School (or even music I listened to last week). For some people this will never be appealing music but for any one who had any interest in the before referenced bands, City of Caterpillar is the watermark. The most accessible hardcore vocals, the most incredible instrumental crescendos, lo-fi muddy recordings, all in their only full length release - Legendary in my mind.

-Mr. Thistle

The Go! Team new single

The Go! Team have released a new video for Grip Like A Vice, the single off their new album due out later this year. Altough it's not a great video, it's an awesome song! I've already had multiple dance-offs to it. I had lost a lot of faith in The Go! Team while waiting for the new album, but if all the songs are as good as the new single, we are in for a treat.

-Sassy Grass

Beirut - Lon Gisland EP

Lon Gisland EP
(2007, Ba Da Bing!)

I shouldn't be reviewing two of the most amazing albums of the year thus far back to back- two tens in a row is going to make me look like a softy, but I'm not. It takes quite a lot to musically please me, and I'm not lying when I tell you- Lon Gisland is amazing. Lon Gisland is the EP follow-up to the 2006 Beirut release, Gulag Orkestar, which is incredible in itself. It consists of five gorgeous songs from prodigy Zach Condon, a teen from New Mexico, that just happens to be making the most heart-breaking Eastern European style gypsy folk around. The rich sound of world music is captured almost single handedly with Condon writing and recording accordian, saxaphone, clarinet, keyboards, madolin, ukulele, horns, glockenspiel, and percussion laregly on his own. His good friends, and fellow whimsical folk musicians, A Hawk And A Hacksaw, helped Condon record his first album, after which he moved to Brooklyn and formed a band to help him in playing live shows and for future recording. His music is filled with exotic instrumentations and absolutely gorgeous vocals. When I listen to his voice I am baffled by how young he is. These are some of the most beautiful songs in my music collection. Even though it is an EP with only five songs, two of which are re-recordings from Gulag Orkestar, it is still worth the purchase. The repeated songs are equally amazing on both albums even though they are very different. This is one band that I would travel far distances to see. Oh, and Beirut just released a video for Elephant Gun which is the first track off of this EP. The video is almost as gorgeous as the song, but not quite. I really like his fake moustache in it though

-Sassy Grass

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fiest - The Reminder

The Reminder
(2007, Cherry Tree)

Broken Social Scenes' Leslie Fiest released her third solo album this May to critical aclaim, and rightly so- this album is hypnotizing. The tracks on the ablum range from hauntingly slow to upbeat smile inducing athems such as "1234". I hate to admit it, but I agreed when Urban Outfitters named that track as the theme song for the summer. The album is fairly laid back and lazy, but not passive. It definitelty captures your attention. After a few listens it will easily become one of your favorite albums of the summer for 2007. Leslie's voice is smooth and charming. Each song feels reminiscent, like every memory you have can be assigned a Fiest song. Her quiet vibrato could lull you to sleep, but the album is not a sleeper- it is very attention grabbing. The melodies change just enough to keep the songs enthralling. The subtle variations in meter and her split vocals make this album more interesting than the usual singer-songwriter album.

-Sassy Grass

Feist - Sealion

Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm

Marnie Stern
In Advance of the Broken Arm
(2007, Kill Rock Star)

How could I not review this today? Marnie Stern is going to absolutely level The Urban Lounge in SLC tonight! We here at Forest Gospel have already been leveled by In Advance of the Broken Arm for some months now. Stern’s out-of-nowhere debut epic is quite a formidable listen. It’s like a musical treadmill, this one. Stern is the most apt candidate for guitarist of the year this side of Mike Barr (who obliterated The Urban Lounge for those with kind of normal expectations when he opened for Gang Gang Dance this month). Listening to this female shredder is truly an endurance test. That may be a bit misleading because Stern has some super catchy, truly accessible tracks here on Broken Arm. It’s just that I can’t even imagine how some of these guitar lines are possibly being played by a human and there is no letting up through the entire album. Seems fitting that the drumming on the album is completed by none other than Hella mega-drummer Zach Hill (also a Mike Barr collaborator along with everyone else in the world besides you). This is the best pop/rock record set too alien guitar metal in the entire world. I’m not sure how to let you know why you should listen to this. I could reference Deerhoof or maybe the Ladies or something. Either way, In Advance of the Broken Arm will not disappoint and here is a guarantee that you will not want to try out these songs on Guitar Hero (unless your name is Bjorn Turoque). Now let me get some rest because I think that the live version of these songs might give me a heart attack tonight if I’m well rested.

-Mr. Thistle

SLC Shows this week!!!

Huge week for live shows in Salt Lake City. There are some definite must-must-must-sees this week. For those of you with low stamina it is going to be hard to pick and choose. I know that I am going to turn into a sleepless zombie by Friday. I mean seriously, three Urban Lounge shows this week! That means three nights not going to sleep until 2AM. I still don't get why they can't get those shows to start earlier. I swear Forest Gospel is the first ones there every time! Get punctual you hipster slackers! Anyway, here is the schedule:

  • Marnie Stern, tonight (6/25) at the Urban Lounge! (Prepare for the most guitar shreddingliest madness you have ever seen. Stern is usual only backed by her Ipod but will be backed by a full band tonight, including Zach Hill from Hella!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yer not likely to see this level of technical skill any time in the near future.)
  • Great Lake Swimmers, Tuesday (6/26) at Kilby Court! (A night of grain silo folk not to be missed with fantastic local openers, Libbie Linton and Paul Jacobsen.)
  • Dan Deacon, Wednesday (6/27) at the Urban Lounge! (A dance fest for all of us who weren't diggin' the drunken brothel of Girl Talk last month. Absurdist, Pitchfork-hailed, Dancey weirdness that is sure to entertain. He will even be sporting a local backing choir for one song! Check a doubter’s testimonial for all you unbelievers.)
  • Shearwater, Thursday (6/28) at Slowtrain for free and then Kilby Court for not-free. (Go to both, I really only hear very good things about these guys and am definitely, at the least, planning on Slowtrain. I mean, you can't go wrong - it’s free!)
  • Melt Banana, Saturday (6/30) at the Urban Lounge! (I don't even know what to say about this show except that Melt Banana are absolutely nuts! Deerhoof via The Locust. You'll probably want to bring a helmet and shoulder pads for this one. Excited!)

-Mr. Thistle

Marnie Stern - Grapefruit

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat

Shearwater - White Waves

Melt Banana - Cracked Plaster Cast (sample)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse

Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse
(2007, Jagjauwar)

OK, I never listened to much of the Beach Boys and still like to challenge their indie relevance a bit, but The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse is not going to get through any review without a reference to the famed surfers. Like Brian Wilson leading an anthemic 70’s rock band through an early 90’s slowcore filter, The Besnard Lakes are a surprising revelation. After the first listen to BL’s glistening guitars and pitch perfect harmonies I thought it was a little too polished and a bit too average for my taste. Somehow, though, after that initial listen, Besnard Lake’s got their hooks in me and now, multiple listens later, the band has proved some unanticipated replay value. It is hazy music to be sure, disorienting you before you realize- this must be how they finally reel you in so you can’t let them go. There is something about the recordings that digs deep under your skin. A couple times there is even an air reminiscent of the score to The Labyrinth. If you’re not a fan of that movie don’t let it scar you. The Besnard Lakes are the real deal and a solid end of year contender for 2007.

-Mr. Thistle

Avey Tare + Kria Brekkan - Pullhair Rubeye

Avey Tare + Kria Brekkan
Pullhair Rubeye
(2007, Paw Tracks)

I don’t know why, but for me music often equates to animals and Pullhair Rubeye is like following a pack of monkeys underwater. How am I going to explain that? I don’t know if there is a real explanation but that’s what it sounds like: monkeys swimming. I can just imagine some documentary film following furry monkey completely under water so that the submerged echoes muddy the field recording as a beautiful melody provides the backdrop to the narrators description of the animal (I have been watching too many Planet Earth DVDs). Pullhair Rubeye is the figurative and literal love child of Avey Tare from Animal Collective and Kria Brekkan of Múm who were recently married. The album provides a kind of playful, primal innocence that is just unavoidably enjoyable. Pullhair Rubeye has also received an unfortunate scarlet letter because the album was released entirely in reverse. I understand that some people may be irritated at the fact that they may never hear the type of record they wanted out of these two musical master minds but I honestly believe that the result of this decision was inspired. The garbled vocals add another layer to the innocent/childlike appeal of the album. It has become very apparent that Avey Tare is the responsible member for this exciting element shared in Animal Collective’s recordings. Kria's keyboards and vocals fit perfectly with Avey's musings anchoring the songs into their odd structures. Obviously, listening to this record, it being in reverse and all, is going to provide a different listen than most, but if you let yourself sink in you will find yourself floating down the most beautiful, relaxing river, flanked by swimming monkeys on all sides!

-Mr. Thistle

The Goslings - Grandeur of Hair

The Goslings
Grandeur of Hair
(2006, Archive Recordings)

Like a static-infused elephant stampede, The Goslings’ Grandeur of Hair will unavoidably trample all the music you hold dear. There is no way to think about anything else, The Goslings sound demands attention. The songs on Grandeur of Hair have to be some of the noisiest, loudest, most crushingly enduring recordings ever put to tape. With intense reverb and overpowering static, tape was most probably the recording method of choice. I don’t think there is anything I could write that would exaggerate the true depth of how destructively loud this music is; and yes, it is music. Underneath the plodding layers of thick, thick sound are melodies, drums vocals and even beauty. The true difference between The Goslings sound attack and somewhat similar noise-a-teers like Sunn O))), Yellow Swans and Prurient is that their clatter is based in actual structured songs and that those songs bleed through, ever so slightly enough, to carry you through each blasting forest of noise. While The Goslings’ noise brethren can be arguably masochistic, Grandeur of Hair is enjoyable, even if you are gushing blood from each ear. Paced beautifully, if there is one “noise” record you own make it this one, and if you are already initiated into this field, welcome your new king.

-Mr. Thistle

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ben Frost - Theory of Machines

Ben Frost
Theory of Machines
(2007, Bedroom Community)

Ben Frost constructs and then deconstructs ambient electronics. Theory of Machines’ 5 tracks play as a narrative of teaming beauty and destruction and must be heard as a whole. Isolating single tracks is like reading random chapters out of a book, you loose their relevance without context. Frost’s music is for machinery, for switchboards and factories, for oil consuming retrograde robot soldiers from the future. Yet with all this mechanics of it, Theory of Machines is not an industrial record. Frost’s techniques are rooted in Fenneszian textures, The Wind-Up Bird’s electronic blips and Michael Gira’s pure sonic power. Frost’s robots have pumping, bleeding hearts that flow to the surface after the chaos as in the album closer “Forgetting You is Like Breathing Water” where a beautiful string motif swells to its bursting point. Theory of Machines is power electronics of the most soaringly winning nature. Highly recommended for the adventurous.

-Mr. Thistle

Streaming samples through Frost's Myspace

Eluvium - Copia

(2007, Temporary Residence)

Amidst all the havoc of jarringly life changing modern events, Eluvium’s Copia sets out to change your life subtly. Instead of using a standard musical stranglehold, Copia lulls you into its grasps with the most beautiful orchestrations you have ever heard. Eluvium is the alias of modern composer Matthew Cooper of Portland, Oregon. Cooper takes the beauty of a picture perfect scene of Oregon’s lush hills clouded with mist and translates the image into a gorgeous wave of sound. I say wave because the music literally washes over you until you are completely submerged in all things Eluvium. Copia is Cooper’s fourth album and follows in combining slow melodic drones with sprinkles of classical piano and string arrangements. The effect is a slow moving, contemplative listen that, similar to his previous releases, is the type of backdrop that can inspire revelations on the true nature of beauty in sound. Cooper does ride close to the edge on this release, however, as the last half begins to become monotonous, a first for Cooper. It is a difficult trapping to avoid when delving into ambient washes. In the end, despite some small battles, Copia is triumphant in transporting you to where you need to be.

-Mr. Thistle

Eluvium - Prelude For Time Feelers

Dirty Projectors - New Attitude EP

Dirty Projectors
New Attitude EP
(2006, Marriage Records)

Dave Longstreth with his Dirty Projectors moniker has been producing some of the most discordantly pleasurable and intensely satisfying popcraft for some time now. With four full-length records under his belt now, those that are familiar with Longstreth’s musings won’t be surprised at the schizophrenic air his latest release. Every album he releases should be titled "New Attitude" because homie is a chameleon. The seven songs release compiles four bipolar gypsy pop romps and three live recordings. While the transition in production between the two distinct sets of songs is a bit drastic, the songs are undeniably magnificent. Its all feeding the hype for Longstreth’s upcoming 2007 full length. With an undying energy this little EP runs laps around most bands full length releases. Another worthy release to the oh-so-consistently-wonderful Dirty Projectors output.

-Mr. Thistle

The Dirty Projectors - F*!#ed For Life

Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Panda Bear
Person Pitch
(2007, Paw Tracks)

The hype for Person Pitch is ablaze and acclaim for Panda Bear’s follow up to the underrated Young Prayer now carries more words than most modern novels. Regardless, it is up to you to defend yourself from being won over by the majority and make sure your opinion of Person Pitch is yours. You know, you don’t have to love everything any Animal Collective member produces. Panda Bear’s third album sees him trading in the eternal acoustic strumming of previous albums to the knobs of a mixer. Spanning seven tracks of various length Person Pitch is one of the most deservedly (however overplayed the comparison is) labeled Brian-Wilson-influenced album to come out of the Paw Tracks camp. Using the genuinely beautiful harmonies that defined his influences along with slowly evolving repetitious samples, Panda Bear has molded seven extended pop songs. The effortless nature and drowsy comfort these songs embody somehow maintain an attention span but not too much more. There is nothing overtly groundbreaking here nor is there a particularly evocative melody climactic experience; just pleasantness. So, while enjoyable and recommended, for the over-hyped explorer: don’t expect the mind-blowing power Sung Tongs.

Kallikak Family - May 23rd 2007

Kallikak Family
May 23rd 2007
(2005, Tell-All Records)

The Kallikak Family’s second full length release, May 23rd 2007, is a literary masterpiece. Without a verbally coherent utterance spanning 17 tracks, The Kallikak Family reads like the most engaging and enlightening experience on the printed page. Don’t let the bookish allusions pass you, if you don’t like to read you may not like May 23rd 2007; a concept album bent on the impending date of the protagonist’s death. Now being well after May 23rd of 2007 I thought it an appropriate time to revisit the 2005 masterwork. A masterwork indeed; Andrew Peterson, genius behind May 23rd, has managed an almost indescribable vision of the harsh vision and delicate beauty of a human life. Employing beautiful folk melodies, disjointed percussive backdrops and manipulated tape effects with vocal samples; Peterson has created an experimental work that has a beating, endearing heart, and in opposition to most experimental music is readily accessible. Endless depth of character and the overarching musical vision (back-story or not) is an audible treat that will undoubtedly inspire its few finders long after its predicted funeral.

- Mr. Thistle

Kallikak Family - Second Phase

Welcome to Forest Gospel

Why, hello and welcome to Forest Gospel.

As an introduction to future posts: we here at Forest Gospel are resolved to write about the music we love album by album. This will take the form of reviews of newly released albums, past life-changing favourites in our running series of retrospective reviews (because some things are worth reiterating) and since it is the middle of 2007 that this here thread is beginning we may dip back into some of the extrodinaries of 2006 that we adored or have come to adore post 2006. You can't be up on everything the moment its released you know?

Based in Salt Lake City you may see a local cd review or two...or eight and surely some live reviews as well. In conclusion, for those of you who do happen to stumble upon us and decide to come back for more; there are two distinct contributors here which makes two opinions. Hopefully you can get the gist of our individual tastes and take whatever its that we can offer you for whatever it is worth. We have discussed submitting two opinions of particular records that we are mixed on and what not. Our writing is based mostly on that which we would recommend to our good friends. Enjoy and feel free to add your own commentary on what is reviewed.

Forest Gospel