Thursday, January 31, 2008

Paper Cranes & The Iron Eagles - Self Titled

Paper Cranes & The Iron Eagles
Paper Cranes & The Iron Eagles
(01.2008, Magic Goat)
Verdict = Ear Melting Rock (In A Good Way)

Check the verdict, this stuff is nuts! A series of ancient Paper Cranes recordings discovered in some prehistoric cave halfway decomposed, halfway fossilized has surfaced. This is absolutely the most rocking thing that my ears have had the chance to be damaged by in some time. For those unfamiliar, Paper Cranes are Salt Lake's seminal experimental post punk saviors that shirked their savior responsibilities almost as soon as it was anointed them. Apparently this mess of blown out speaker shrapnel was the outcome of a jam session recorded on the quaint internal microphone of the band's iMac. The effect is as lo fidelity as you would find on a recording on a homemade cassette. It all adds to the enormous weight that exudes the music. The Paper Cranes have now taken on a seemingly chameleon-esque collective. On this album with The Iron Eagles moniker, the band are torching the ground they have previously paved with blistering instrumental psych rock freak-outs. It sounds a bit like Comets On Fire playing with the heft of The Goslings. There are some seriously deep bass tones here that I haven't heard the likes of since Grandeur of Hair. This is all really exciting for me as I was beginning to wonder if I would ever hear another Paper Cranes album again. Well the second part to this blissful Cinderella tale is that the whole album is downloadable for free! Released by Magic Goat Recordings, Paper Cranes & The Iron Eagles is the first of a series of monthly digital releases that will come from the site at no charge. The incredible idea is curated by none other than FG fave Braden J. McKenna, AKA Navigator, and will hopefully stick around for a long time. Go download the album now; you are in for an awesome ride.

-Mr. Thistle

Download it HERE

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creations Dark

Drive-by Truckers
Brighter Than Creations Dark
(01.2008, New West)
Verdict: If you don't feel dirty listening, than you aren't doing it right.

Some people by nature are fanatical. When something comes along that they really relate to they invest themselves in it fully. Studying back stories, collecting random trivia, and more or less annoying anyone that doesn’t share their affections. I’m not one of those people, except for the annoying part. However, I am a big fan of Drive-by Truckers. Not being a fanatic, I haven’t kept up with Drive-by Truckers’ general goings on since their somewhat disappointing 2006 release. Nor have I taken the time to investigate which members of the band contributed which songs in their extensive catalogue, so when I heard that Jason Isbell had departed the band I wasn’t overly concerned. Then I went back through their albums to look up who wrote which songs and I realized that Isbell in fact wrote many of my all time favorite DBT songs. "Danko/Manuel," "Goddamn Lonely Love," and "Outfit" were all written by Isbell. In retrospect I realized that Isbell was the wild card. DBT’s other principle song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley really are the original essence of DBT’s southern rock sensibilities, but Isbell’s songs made otherwise solid albums into something remarkable. After learning this, I had serious doubts about DBT’s 2008 release Brighter Than Creations Dark. My concern however has proven to be unfounded. Although the addition of Shonna Tucker doesn’t fill the void left by Isbell, her vocals do add a new dynamic to the band, and Hood and Cooley pick up the slack with some of their most interesting and enjoyable songs to date. DBT are truly in their element telling stories of life’s pitfalls, climaxes and generally unnoticed quirks. Brighter Than Creations Dark also finds DBT showing a more humorous side to contrast its generally gritty subject matter. "Bob" is a great song about the kind of odd guy that we all know, "The Righteous Path" rocks you like you know DBT can, and "I’m Sorry Huston" finds DBT at their most country with Shonna Tucker’s vocals. At 19 songs, you’d think that there won't be much left for DBT to sing about after this album, but if our own lives and Drive-by Truckers’ consistent history is any indication, there will be plenty more stories to tell, and hopefully plenty more songs to sing.

-Spruce Lee

Drive By Truckers Myspace

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Busdriver - Roadkillovercoat

(01.2007, Epitaph)
Verdict = Enjoyable and stacked with potential

Busdriver is one of those overly charismatic personalities that are somehow both nuts and likable. Roadkillovercoat is my first Busdriver album though I have been familiar with him and caught him live with Islands a couple of summers ago. It’s fitting that he toured with them - assisting on the superb “Where There’s A Will There’s A Whalebone” aside – as his unconventional approach to hip hop practically begs for crossover success and the likely dismissal from more mainstream hip hop circles. Busdriver sprays rapid-fire, slap stick lyrics crammed into off kilter, poppy beats. It is ridiculous the amount of control Busdriver maintains while dropping his verbal bombs at breakneck speed. It is most certainly his most defined feature as an emcee. Yet, on Roadkillovercoat, Busdriver is most successful when he forces himself into slower territory. In the first three tracks Busdriver seems more of a novelty paraded for his distinctiveness rather than for how enjoyable he is. It is only when Busdriver slows it up a bit on “Secret Skin,” “Sun Shower,” and “Go Slow” (with a wonderful guest spot from Blanca Casady) that he begins to corral some really terrific gems. While the album doesn’t reach mind blowing territory, it is still coherent enough to be ridden from start to finish and doesn’t contain any segue tracks (my pet peeve in hip hop)! Roadkillovercoat simultaneously treads some standard B level backpacker hip hop while reaching some heights that place him, oddly, next to LCD Soundsystem and Panda Bear (a hard air to define). The album is definitely worth the price of admission and more than hints at a potential that could have Busdriver recording future classic that reaches beyond the perimeter of hip hop.

-Mr. Thistle

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shows This Week

Thursday (1/31), The Lionelle, Dead Horse Point, Patterstats and Abe Carter will present a local feast via Kilby Court. This will be one of three shows on Thursday that are worthy of note.

The Lionelle Myspace

Dead Horse Point Myspace
Patterstats Myspace
Abe Carter Myspace

Thursday (1/31), French Quarter will bring his folk pop to Slowtrain for the second time in so many months. His debut, Quarter, is certainly worthy of any number of spins and by the sound of it his live show should be quite charming.

French Quarter Myspace

Thursday (1/31), Urban Lounge presents a virtual match made in heaven with the incomparable Liars and the absolutely awesome No Age along with locals, Tolchock Trio. This is with out a doubt Forest Gospel's live pick of the week. It would be with Liars or No Age on their own so having a bill with the both of them is basically anointing this show as a pick of the quarter or possibly the year! Do not miss this show.

Thursday (1/31), HarryO's presents Talib Kweli, one half of the formerly influential Black Star. It is going to be difficult to try and promote this over Liars/No Age, but it is an easy choice for hip hop heads.

Friday (2/1), the dubiously titled genre award for the Slammies Mellow Yellow/Jazz band will actually hold some of the best bands of the entire series of awards with Calico, Coyote Hoods, Ether Orchestra and Aye Aye. For local shows, it doesn't get much better than this.

Calico Myspace

Coyote Hoods Myspace
Ether Orchestra Myspace
Aye Aye Myspace

Saturday (2/2), Kilby Court will host the second night(?) of Will Sartain's CD release party. While harboring Tolchock Trio and Live It Up Swet on the bill, the true reason to visit Kilby Saturday is for Brooklyn indie rockers Blood On The Wall. Should be a treat!

Will Sartain Myspace

Tolchock Trio Myspace
Live It Up Swet Myspace

Sunday (2/3), Kilby Court will present a close second for show of the week with the absolutely radical/awesome/incredible Yeasayer with the rising trend of MGMT. Another must see.

Shape of Broad Minds - Craft of the Lost Art

Shape of Broad Minds
Craft of the Lost Art
(08.2007, Lex Records)
Verdict = Best hip hop album of 2007

If you happened to follow the show listings that FG provided throughout the past year you probably have noticed the occasional nods to hip hop shows rolling through Salt Lake (and more often through Park City). The reason for the listings is basically the result of a long maintained affection for the genre. I have had intentions to review some of what I have heard in the field since we began Forest Gospel, but have hit writing blocks in my previous attempts. I think a part of this has been a general lack of enthusiasm for most of the current hip hop releases that I have come. In fact I was beginning to feel that I was either out of touch with the genre or that all the jabbering that has been going on for the last ten years about the death of hip hop was actually true. I mean it seems like ages since I‘ve heard a hip hop album that has defied the restraints of genre that are currently digging its grave. I still get little depressed when I get a hip hop itch that there is nothing new that satisfies and really no reason that there shouldn’t be. Albums like Deltron 3030, Fantastic Damage, The Cold Vein, Cloudead and many others still feel vibrant whenever they rock my speakers. To me that means that the idea of hip hop isn’t dead. Dwelling on the past can be a little irresponsible though. It just seems like the genre’s gems are becoming fewer and farther between. Fast forward to 2007 (or rewind a little bit at this point) and enter Shape of Broad Minds. Among some fairly enjoyable hip hop last year, Craft of the Lost Art is a complex tapestry of one million ideas and is the recorded salvation I have been waiting for. Really, pause for a second and take this in: Shape of Broad Minds have resurrected the creativity in hip hop. So here I am 326 words into this and I have barely introduced my subject. Well, for those sorting through this swamp of ridiculously tangential material, you should be happy because Shape of Broad Minds is fully qualified to be in class with these previous albums I mentioned above. Now, before you rush off and bust out X many shells to scoop up this delicious treat, know this – Craft of the Lost Art isn’t the easiest record to disassemble. In fact, it is reminding me a lot of the time that it took me to really get into Cloudead’s debut. Reason being the album is gargantuan pulling together 23 tracks! Beyond that, with all its lyrical depth and a musical diversity stretching into blues and jazz, this album is subtle in its charms in comparison to some of the in-your-face antics the genre is known for. Craft of the Lost Art takes old school, backpacker sensibilities and turns them from graffiti into street art. One of the greatest parts about Shape of Broad Minds is the ability to make fun hip hop music that is intelligent and relaxed. So who are Shape of Broad Minds? Well prepare for confusion – the group is mostly a collection of alter egos of one man, Jneiro Jarel. Along with Jarel’s genius the album takes on plenty of contributions that span the omnipresence of Panama Black along with guests MF Doom, Deborah Jordan, Count Bass D and multiple others. The outcome is a schizophrenic mix of track after track of grin inducing incredibleness. Seriously, while it may take weeks and weeks to digest, Craft of the Lost Art is the best hip hop debut to come around in a long time and is certainly the best hip hop album of 2007.

-Mr. Thistle

Shape Of Broad Minds (feat MF Doom) - "Let's Go"

Friday, January 25, 2008

John Wiese - Soft Punk

John Wiese
Soft Punk
(01.2007, Troubleman Unlimited)
Verdict = Art Noise Perfection

Almost exactly one year ago, John Wiese finally allowed himself to release a “debut album.’ The idea of this should come as a bit of a bold statement considering Wiese’s extremely lengthy back catalog of releases on seemingly every record label and recording format known to modern man. That said, Soft Punk somehow reveals itself as a seminal statement in Wiese’s convoluted history and if this is his debut only the most exiting of possibilities wait in store. Exhibiting a cut and paste aesthetic dealing with various blunt textures and punk samples, Soft Punk opens up new possibilities for the structure of experimental sound (de)construction. The compositions ebb and flow through schizophrenic flurries of noise and waning alleys of lightly glistening silence create an engaging listen that moves away from the lazy drones that seem to be so easily perpetuated by anyone with a loop pedal. It is truly a breath of fresh air in an otherwise deadening scene filled with little innovation. It is with this approach that Wiese has created something that not only contains that early spirit of punk that seems all but completely lost to the modern landscape of musicians, but also seems to be something that would fit aptly within a hip white walled gallery. It is a dual nature rarely achieved in any format and one which can only be created by true artistic sensibilities. Soft Punk is that creation and a seminal, unfortunately overlooked album on the lapsed horizon of 2007. If I would have had these tones running through my headphones in 2007 Soft Punk would most assuredly cracked the top ten spots on my year end list. A terrific case of high expectations being not only matched, but trounced in the wake of something wholly original and inspiring; bravo!

-Mr. Thistle

John Wiese - Winter Vacation

Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

Devendra Banhart
Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
(09.2007, XL)
Verdict = Better Than Expected

Does it seem to anyone else that with all the hype that naturally befalls a release from Devendra Banhart that there was absolutely no fanfare, critical or otherwise for the most recent, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon? The first possible deterrent, yes, following in step with Cripple Crow, SRDTM is a lengthy, bloated affair stretching every allowable centimeter of the CD that carries it. Psychologically, this has to be one of the foremost deterrents to the album. Who wants to sort through such a mess? The second, Devendra’s media presence (and lyrics) have grown ominously weirder awash with every facet of the bizarre gypsy life that he apparently leads. I will be the first to admittedly cast myself into this lot of over-lookers who, despite having an extreme affection for his past work, simply just let the album drift out of view without so much as a glance as it toppled over the water fall into obliviously lost albums. Well, it seems that the record has resurfaced for me and I’m inclined to tell you why you should be jumping into oblivion's waters to retrieve it for yourself because SRDTM is Banhart’s best since Rejoicing in the Hands left an entire musical community slack-jawed and starving for more. The album definitely showcases Banhart’s incredible versatility, evoking a tapestry of songs that weave in and out of differing genre moods as if he was their originator. Within a handful of tracks, retrieved from any place area of the album, you can find the frail ghost of Jim Morrison, reinterpretations of Grease era pop and constant caricatures of psychedelic folk and classical rock all filtered through Banhart’s skewed vision. The results are always satisfying and upon repeat listens affectionately memorable. It really becomes difficult not to love the album. So, while Banhart could be taught a lesson or two on thinning out his playlist, I am definitely not going to complain about one of the greatest unsung opus’ of last year.

-Mr. Thistle

Devendra Banhart - Shabop Shalam

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stars Of the Lid - Stars Of The Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline

Stars of the Lid
Stars of the Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline
(04.2007, Kranky)
Verdict = More Sleepy Magnificence

I have neglected this release for far too long. Too be honest, I just think I wasn't ready for the undertaking that is involved with a double disc Stars of the Lid release. I mean, the albums predecessor, Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid was undoubtedly legendary, but it has taken most of the five year gap between that release and this to really come to terms with its achievements. I think the general reason for this is that as their previous record implies, it can be difficult to remain attentive during their entire set, let alone one disc of the two. While the drowsy affect of the music is almost expected from the composers, it is a doubly difficult and lengthy process to digest the whole thing. Procrastination catalyst numero dos: Stars of the Lid, while certainly inhabiting their own signature realm in the world of ambient drone, do not move quickly in anything they do which includes innovation. And Their Refinement of the Decline may as well be an additional two disc to the two already scored for Tired Sounds. There isn't a great heap of indicators from one album to the next that differentiate them. That said, I had become quite comfortable with the idea of retaining my listening achievement in understanding Tired Sounds and didn't have any premonitions to invite more Stars of the Lid into my already crowded musical life. Now, more than a half year after their release, the expected praise and inflated Metacritic scores have finally broken my will and here I am trying to sort through this endless ocean that is Stars of the Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline. As previously stated, Stars of the Lid manufacture a signature sound, so signature in fact that the following descriptors could be interchangeable with most any SotL release. Refinement's sound hangs like a supernatural mist, organic and constantly flowing like an audible reflection the human spirit. SotL are more classically inclined than their contemporaries and have far fewer electronic tints to their work (if any at all). The compositions are meticulous and, as the album title suggests, downtrodden in their mopey drift. So here is the question, does the world really need an additional Stars of the Lid record? After hours and hours with Refinement, I am going to have to concede with an emphatic yes. Just as relevant and enrapturing as their past releases, just as emotive and just as gorgeous, but in the end, not an album with which you should ever have to say just. Magnificent; one of the best of 2007.

-Mr. Thistle

Stars of the Lid - Humectez La Mouture

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Black Mountain - In The Future

Black Mountain
In The Future
(01.2007, Jagjaguwar)
Verdict: Can I get a heeeyyyllll yeeahhh?!

If Forest Gospel still gave numerical ratings, I would have slapped a ten on this faster than Shakira can shake her hips. Last year Mr. Thistle dubbed Random Spirit Lover his album that was impossible to not air guitar to. I always thought it impossible that an album could physically force you to air guitar without thinking until In The Future blew my mind and sent my arms flailing in the air on first listen and has not stopped moving them after at least fifteen repeats. Even now as I listen to the album to write the review I am having a hard time keeping my fingers on the keyboard and not on my imaginary guitar strings or drum sticks. Black Mountain put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen last year which had a similar effect on the viewers. No one could hold still as they listened to Black Mountain take classic rock, obliterate it, rearrange it, and finally make it feel like it belongs in the present. Even the most staunch of passive viewers head banged and wiggled as if possessed. In The Future takes the good from previous Black Mountain releases, heavily polishes it and makes it epic. Especially in the eight minute "Tyrants" that has at least four movements, ranging from some of the most mellow stretches of the album to one of the most intense build ups. The album rocks and lulls, making it much more appealing as an album rather than individual tracks. In "Queens Will Play" the vocal and ambient laden build up lasts over four minutes for an ending thirty second jam. This is the kind of album that when I am listening to it a track will come on and I will say "I love this track, this is the best track on the album" and then when the song ends and the new one starts I say "I love this track, this is the best track of the album." I was heavily anticipating In The Future since seeing them last year at Kilby and am now desperately waiting for them to come back to Salt Lake City for an encore rocking performance of In The Future.


Black Mountain - "Tyrants"

Giant Skyflower Band - Blood Of The Sunworm

Giant Skyflower Band
Blood Of The Sunworm
(03.2007, Soft Abuse)
Verdict: Welcome back hippy

Last year Glenn Donaldson of Skygreen Leopards set out with friend Shayde Sartin, a bunch of good weed and a sitar, destined to birth the most hypnotic hippie revival stoner album of the year. Blood of The Sumworm ended up on both mine and Mr. Thistle's year end list but somehow got skipped over throughout the year in album highlights. So now, to do it some justice, I am highlighting one of the more exotic albums to land in our lists. Blood of the Sunworm's analog recordings are labeled as progressive psych rock, but digressive psych rock may be a better term. Each track feels like you just discovered an incredible gem in your crazy uncle's record collection. It's slightly depressed, weary, hazy strummers are also somehow fun. It's mellow air will have you meditatively floating, high or not.


Giant Skyflower Band - "Oh Mary Green"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shows This Week

Looks like the brunt of this weeks interesting shows are part of the City Weekly Slammy's. Here is a brief run down of the shows which all appear to be scheduled for the weekend:

Friday (1/25), Kid Theodore, The Future of the Ghost and Seve VS Evan will battle out their Pop/Indie status at Velour.

Friday (1/25), I Hear Sirens, Our Time In Space and DulceSky will be seeking to close eyelids at Liquid Joe’s by parading their ascribed “Ambient Rock.”

Saturday (1/26), The Lionelle, Lets Become Actors and Cavedoll will be hashing out the other half of the “Pop/Indie” ticket at Urban Lounge.

Saturday (1/26), and in the apparently burgeoning “Noise” category Tenants of Balthazar’s Castle, Palave of Buddies, I Hate Girls with Bruises, Yeti, Agape, Ether and Ih863335 will be creating an impending fire hazard in the basement of Red Light Books.

1/31 – French Quarter - Slowtrain
1/31 – The Lionelle, Dead Horse Point, Patterstats – Kilby Court
1/31 – Liars, No Age, Tolchok Trio – Urban Lounge
1/31 – Talib Kweli – HarryO’s
2/01 – Aye Aye, Ether Orchestra, Coyote Hoods, Calico - Woodshed
2/02 – Blood On The Wall, Will Sartain cd release – Kilby Court
2/03 – Yeasayer, MGMT – Kilby Court
2/06 – Navigator, Aye Aye, Stag Hare, Grizzly P. – Kilby Court
2/09 – The Future of the Ghost, Cub Country, Libbie Linton – Kilby Court
2/27 – Mahjongg, Calvin Johnson – Kilby Court
2/27 – Sole, Telephone Jim Jesus, Sinthesis – Urban Lounge
2/27 – Built To Spill, Meat Puppets – The Depot
2/28 – The Future of the Ghost, Band of Annuals – Kilby Court
3/06 – A Place To Bury Strangers, Holy Fuck – Urban Lounge
3/07 – The Vandals – In The Venue
3/08 – Panther, Navigator – Slowtrain
3/09 – Living Legends – Kilby Court
3/10 – Xiu Xiu, Thao Nguyen – Urban Lounge
3/10 – The Helio Sequence – Kilby Court
3/14 – Leslie & The Ly’s – Kilby Court
3/18 – Zion I – Urban Lounge
3/21 – Beach House, The Papercuts – Kilby Court
3/22 – Tokyo Police Club – Kilby Court
3/22 – Jose Gonzalez, Mia Doi Todd – Union Ballroom
3/24 – Explosions in the Sky, Lichens, Black Moth Super Rainbow – In the Venue
3/24 – Aloha, Georgie James (formerly of Q & Not U) – Urban Lounge
3/26 – Headlights, Evangelicals – Kilby Court
4/03 – Cryptacize (members of Deerhoof & Nedelle) – Kilby Court
4/12 – Why? – Urban Lounge
4/14 – RJD2 – Urban Lounge
4/15 – Blitzen Trapper, Calico – Urban Lounge
4/16 – Enon – Urgan Lounge

Woelv - Tout Seul dans la Foret en Plein Jour, Aves-Vous Peur?

Tout Seul dans la Foret en Plein Jour, Aves-Vous Peur?
(12.2007, K Records)
Verdict: wonderful

The art book packed alongside Woelv's brilliant new album features pictures of a girl being set on fire, kids knifing each other, a man who has just stepped onto a landmine, a ghost forcing a girl to cut her wrists and other not so pleasant visual treats. These pictures are basically what the music sounds like. Despair seems to be the theme Geneviève has chosen to represent the world we live in as she tells the tales of oppression, war, rape, and other discomforting aspects of life. Geneviève's Bjork-esque layered vocals have a very human and honest quality which gives the otherwise heavy themed album a distinct sense of hope. The music generally consists of simple acoustic guitars, with the occasional bass or piano being backed by Microphones' inspired percussion (She is married to Phil Elverum after all). It's a pretty gloomy album, so those looking for feel good Juno soundtrack indie pop should look elsewhere. But for those that appreciate honest music that's beautiful in its own right, this is for you.

-Wooly Mammal

Stream the album HERE

Friday, January 18, 2008

Birchville Cat Motel - Seventh Ruined Hex

Birchville Cat Motel
Seventh Ruined Hex
(11.2007, Important)
Verdict = Above Average Mind Essplode!

I have recently began an infatuation with the game Guitar Hero (I am still waiting to give Rock Star a try) and ever since rocking that plastic key-tar have gone about imagining how cool it would be to have an indie version of the game rife with songs from Black Mountain, Deerhoof, Sunset Rubdown and the like. Surely if your any fan of the game and this blog you have thought the same thing. Well, after listening to Birchville Cat Motel’s Seventh Ruined Hex, I am convinced that this would be the final track, if conceivably translatable to those color coated keys, the most difficult track on the game – the track provided in the duel with the devil. On Seventh Ruined Hex, Birchville Cat Motel is an avant gardist’s guitar hero. Secondary to that, BCM maintains my favourite band name ever…yep, I’m pretty sure it is my very favourite, so, I suppose that counts for something. If you are unfamiliar with BCM, the New Zealand sound annihilator is beyond prolific (Seventh Ruined Hex is his third full length CD released in 2007) and while not as well known on these shores, is incredibly versatile and consistent. Seventh Ruined Hex is not for the faint of heart, this is the type of screeching guitar/noise that kids have always wanted to blast to infuriate their Puritan parents. Still, deep in the squall there is a definite soul infused with tremendous fortitude of control over his careening isle of sound. A perfect long form rock album for those who need it turned up past 11.

- Mr. Thistle

Birchville Cat Motel - "Bee" sample

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Axolotl - Trade Ye No Mere Moneyed Art

Trade Ye No Mere Moneyed Art
(2007, Self Release)
Verdict = Jawesome!

Axolotl did this to me last year. Right after I just start to feel comfortable with my year end list and the clock turns 2008 I find out that (my now favourite) avantgardist droner has released a couple records the previous year which would have undoubtedly shaken my list up in the top ten category. Well here is round two of the late blooming Axolotl phenomenon. I suppose I don’t feel too bad concerning this release since it was a European tour only CDr, but that won’t keep me from enjoying it now. The recording quality here seems a slight bit lower than previous production Axolotl monstrosities. Fortunately, in the vein of music that Bauer dabbles in, that can actually be a plus. It is definitely no deterrent here as Trade Ye No Mere Moneyed Art crackles and creeks through six tracks of engorged blissful swells of cranky electro disintegration. The reason Bauer’s gilded psych scorchers are my favourite in the heavily treaded and often monotonous genre of drone is his ability to spark heavenly rays of light through his clouds of billowing electro destruction. He always finds that perfect area between the overly brooding and deafening and the gorgeous and life affirming. Even as a one off CDr, Trade Ye No Mere Moneyed Art is yet another testament to Axolotl’s prowess as the king of drizzling noise that can be counted as beauty.

-Mr. Thistle

Axolotl - "Trade Ye No Mere Moneyed Art"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Magnetic Fields - Distortion

The Magnetic Fields
(01.2008, Nonesuch)
Verdict: marvelously magnetic indeed

I don’t remember much about 1999, but I do remember going to the record store to check out The Magnetic Fields album 69 Love Songs. I had heard good things about it, and fully expected to purchase it, but one fact about the album had somehow eluded me until I got to the record store; the fact that 69 Love Songs was in fact a three disc set of 69 songs! Feeling a bit intimidated, I decided against purchasing it, and until now hadn’t returned to The Magnetic Fields. A decision I now regret. The Magnetic Fields newest album Distortion has since made me return and revisit those 69 songs I had passed over in 1999. As with their 1999 album, Distortion is as much a description as it is an album title. The first track is mainly instrumental, and each instrument is laden with distortion. The album meanders pleasantly but rather unremarkably through a few tunes, with alternating vocalists. However, on "Please Stop Dancing," the album begins its ascent into a beautifully clever and melodic climax. It isn’t often that songs about lost love can come across as anything less than pitiful. Such songs often turn into an overly sentimentally mushy mess, but Stephin Merritt manages to write pop songs that feel honest, and fun at the same time. Lines like "Drive on, Driver’s" ‘take me to the airport, I need to be extremely far away; so I might forget about her someday’ don’t come across like a lame cliché as they normally might. And maybe it’s because I had a dream about a girl I wish I still had the day I first listened to this album, but "Too Drunk to Dream" is a marvelous ode to the benefits of alcohol on a troubled mind. On Distortion, The Magnetic Fields effectively turn the typically mushy into a masterful album, and that is quite an accomplishment.

-Spruce Lee

Magnetic Fields on Myspace

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Alaska In Winter - Dance Party In The Balkans

Alaska In Winter
Dance Party In The Balkans
(08. 2007, Regular Beat)
Verdict: The Balkans are so hott right now.

I've been meaning to highlight this album for quite some time now. I've been cementing my views into place after extreme repeat upon repeat listen. Dance Party In The Balkans was labeled as a "Beirut side-project" by many when it first came out. I won't lie, that is why I picked up the album. Then, as I listened to it I realized that Zach Condon only lends his talents to the album occasionally and Dance Party In The Balkans really has little to do with him. I was instantly enthralled in the calm of the album and intrigued by how different it was than I was expecting it to be from reading reviews over hyping Condon and Trost's participation. Alaska In Winter is Brandon Bethancourt, an Arizona native and long time friend of both Zach Condon and his other collaberator, Heather Trost of A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Brandon recorded the bulk of the album in Alaska, in the winter before bringing it home to Arizona to perfect, and you can tell. Throughout the album is a lacy chill, cold, downtempo, and remote feel. It's isolated gypsy electro with often manipulated soft and subdued vocals over layers of simple loops and catchy melodies. Break beat percussion is the backbone to the flighty sinews that make up the thirteen tracks. All these ingredients combine to be an absolutely mesmerizing and aesthetically solid sound. Let us not forget Bethancourt is the sole genious behind this gorgeous album.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Shows This Week

Tuesday (1/15), Local folk troubadours David Williams and Glade, among others including The Black Hens’ CD release, will warm the chilly Kilby night air along with the fire pit. What better night to head out there and see some of the new renovations taking place with the venue’s change of ownership?

David Williams Myspace

Glade Myspace
Black Hens Myspace

Thursday (1/17), Sea Wolf will provide their conservative indie musings along with local Americana upstarts, Atherton at Kilby Court.

Friday (1/18), participating in City Weekly's Slammys, Club Vegas will host an evening of "Hard Rock" with a blistering lineup of Accidente, Loom, Glacial and the superb Black Hole. I think I am pulling for Black Hole as far as voting goes, but Loom has been courting my vote in this category - See the entire list of performances along with the balot and cast your own vote here.

Saturday (1/19), Slowtrain will be hosting Forest Gospel’s live pick of the week featuring the anticipated debut cd from experimental indie blues star, Aye Aye, along with an equally anticipated release from elusive avant garde noister, Hew Mun, and these performances sandwiching the always amazing live set of FG favourite Navigator! Three incredible musicians, two debut releases, one night you will hate yourself for missing.

Aye Aye on Virb

Hew Mun on Virb
Navigator on Virb

1/25 – Seve VS Evan, The Future of the Ghost, Kid Theodore – Velour
1/26 – Cavedoll, Let’s Become Actors, The Lionelle – Urban Lounge
1/26 – Tenants of Balthazar’s Castle, Palace of Buddies, Agape, Ether, Ih86335 – Red Light Books
1/31 – French Quarter - Slowtrain
1/31 – The Lionelle, Dead Horse Point, Patterstats – Kilby Court
1/31 – Liars, No Age, Tolchok Trio – Urban Lounge
2/01 – Aye Aye, Ether Orchestra, Coyote Hoods, Calico - Woodshed
2/02 – Blood On The Wall, Will Sartain cd release – Kilby Court
2/03 – Yeasayer, MGMT – Kilby Court
2/06 – Navigator, Aye Aye, Stag Hare, Grizzly P. – Kilby Court
2/27 – Mahjongg, Calvin Johnson – Kilby Court
2/27 – Sole, Telephone Jim Jesus, Sinthesis – Urban Lounge
2/27 – Built To Spill, Meat Puppets – The Depot
2/28 – The Future of the Ghost, Band of Annuals – Kilby Court
3/06 – A Place To Bury Strangers – Urban Lounge
3/08 – Panther – Slowtrain
3/10 – Xiu Xiu – Urban Lounge
3/14 – Leslie & The Ly’s – Kilby Court
3/09 – Living Legends – Kilby Court
3/21 – Beach House, Papercuts – Kilby Court
3/22 – Jose Gonzalez – Union Ballroom
3/24 – Explosions in the Sky, Lichens, Black Moth Super Rainbow – In the Venue
3/24 – Aloha, Georgie James (formerly of Q & Not U) – Urban Lounge
3/26 – Headlights, Evangelicals – Kilby Court
4/06 – Dirty Projectors – Kilby Court
4/12 – Why? – Urban Lounge
4/14 – RJD2 – Urban Lounge
4/15 – Blitzen Trapper, Calico – Urban Lounge
4/16 – Enon – Urgan Lounge

Sightings - Through The Panama

Through The Panama
(10.2007, Load)
Verdict = Superb Sound But No Heart

Sightings previous excursions in free form no wave have been destructive to say the least, however, on Through The Panama the band has pulled out all the stops delivering their most coarse material to date. Completely drowning out contemporaries like Clipd Beaks and Liars in the noise category, Sightings take their version dance punk deep into the vast swamps of their grinding past. In doing so Through The Panama makes some gains as well as takes some losses. The gains are obvious; for sheer tonal aggression Sightings are untouchable, scorching the grounds on which their transmissions flow like blasts of napalm. With Through The Panama, Sightings are waging war on the ear drum. The loss accompanying such a greedy audio display is that of the soul. Now that may not be a loss for some; I mean this was most surely the plan from the beginning for the gruesome hipsters and the ends to which most of their fans seek them out. Maybe I just have a soft spot for a bit of humanity in my noise, despite the monstrosity that the music embodies. Here, underneath the monstrous exterior, everything seems cold and robotic. Again, just depends on what you are looking for. The album is absolutely thrilling; there is no doubt about that. It is just not very often that I feel that I’ll need such a dose of horror bustling through my speakers. This of course is meant as much as a compliment as it is a potential deterrent.

- Mr. Thistle

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vibracathedral Orchestra - Wisdom Thunderbolt

Vibracathedral Orchestra
Wisdom Thunderbolt
(04.2007, VHF)
Verdict = Satisfying Jangly Confusion

Vibracathedral Orchestra create a more playful and hospitable noise than most, but it is still noise. If you like noise, that’s great; if you don’t, Vibracathedral Orchestra really won’t do anything to change your mind. Their music is really for those who openly indulge avant music but are selective with their listens. Wisdom Thuderbolt, the latest from the veritable supergroup (Mick Flower, Neil Campbell, Peter Nolan) continues in the path of their psych drone anomaly. So, in describing their “drone”, let me share the standard calling cards that that title usually embodies of which VO steers clear. They don’t tread any particularly mournful or pretty areas and they also are not involved with any of the devastating, doomy, soul stealing audio destruction that is all the rage these days. Vibracathedral Orchestra are decidedly more jangly, rock infused and psychedelic. They are definitely paving their own roads in this drone/free noise field. Wisdom Thunderbolt is an evocative, tripped out journey that is packed to the brim with a zoo of instruments. And through some backwoods voodoo, no doubt, the finished product is actually listenable despite holding the trappings of what could easily be heard as a nursery of toddlers let loose in Guitar Center. A profitable listen for anyone seeking a more odd transmission.

- Mr. Thistle

Vibracathedral Orchestra - A Natural Fact

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Robert Wyatt - Comicopera

Robert Wyatt
(10.2007, Domino)
Verdict = Interesting but not fully satisfying.

Robert Wyatt is one of those enigmatic, overly productive and oddly enduring figures in the rock community that can be absolutely daunting to engage. When your solo discography starts in 1970 and moves forward steadily from thereon to the present, you’re bound to encounter those problems. This happened to me earlier in 2007 with Vic Chesnutt. Well, again, bowing to the forefathers of indie songwriting, I have taken my first step into the weird world of Robert Wyatt. Comicorpera is his umpteenth record (I’m not going to bother myself with release stats) and is quaint oddity to be sure (as I understand the majority of his releases are). Wyatt has an outsider voice similar to Scott Walker and on Comicorpera drifts (no Scott walker pun intended) jazzily through an array of difficult peaks and morose valleys. The whole of the record is oddly claustrophobic but still ekes out slithering, entrancing beauty. However, to these ears, even though admittedly enjoyable and of its fare share of redeeming value, the album just seems to chug along a bit too slowly and is too tiring. In small doses though, Wyatt can lay down some shazam!

- Mr. Thistle

Robert Wyatt on Mypace

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wooden Wand - James & The Quiet

Wooden Wand
James & The Quiet
(06.2007, Ecstatic Peace)
Verdict = Grand

Further separating his solo material from that of his free jazz/folk/psych musings with The Vanishing Voice, James Toth, AKA Wooden Wand, has released an engaging follow up to last year’s Second Attention release with The Sky High Band. Removing the bands aesthetic all together, Toth has stripped his songs straight to the bone leaving a gritty core of damaged, folkish Americana. Paraded vulnerably, James & The Quiet emerges as a glorious collection of ultimately affecting songs. The left field lyricism and dusty guitar are really all that’s needed (and mostly all that’s there) to carry the album. The dusty skeleton of the work finds Toth with some of his most beautiful and definitely most catchy tunes to date. It isn’t a secret (if you check my 2007 album rankings) that I have a deep affection for this album. It is just one of those classic, solid collections of songs that garner references with histories songwriting elite. I just can’t seem to elaborate more on it. It is just solid.

- Mr. Thistle

Wooden Wand - "Spitting At The Camaras"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dust From 1000 Years - Buzzard

Dust From 1000 Years
(2007, So Hard Young Boy)
Verdict = Grood (good and great)

I don't know how I forgot about Dust From 1000 Years, and to be honest, I don’t know how I randomly remembered to see what they were up to. It was kind of out of nowhere, I was like "I wonder if Dust From 1000 Years has released anything in 2007," and lo and behold they had! I first found out about them from Cokemachineglow's review of their first self titled album. After listening to the MP3’s they hosted I was smitten. The band plays no-fi folk of the darkish, fractured variety. Really, the album was one the most endearing gems of its year. Now on their third full length, the band has marginally improved their production values without squandering the charm of their previous bedroom recordings. The music seems to be following a natural progression on Buzzard, further confirming that their first record wasn’t simply a fluke. The band still sells all their albums primarily through their Myspace page, and they arrive as CDr's in slim plastic sleeves with color copied covers. It is a physical testament to the bands DIY approach. Cheap packaging aside, Buzzard and its predecessors are worth every one of the five-hundred postage paid pennies that stand to purchase them by providing top tier songwriting with a tender dash of lo-fi magic.

-Mr. Thistle

Dust From 1000 Years on Myspace

Shows This Week

Thursday (1/10) - As far as local shows go, this is not one to miss. Kilby Court is showcasing the incomprabable six string talents of Chaz Prymek aong with the year end list achieving Stag Hare whose live show we caught at Kilby Court Last year should have been a part of that little live show year end list thing below. Must be seen to be believed. Both these fellas along with the always consistent folk cronner The Grizzly Prospector. Go to this show.

Chaz Prymek on Myspace

Stag Hare on Virb
Grizzly Prospector on Myspace

1/15 – David Williams, Glade – Kilby Court
1/17 – Akon – HarryO’s for $100
1/17 – Sea Wolf, Atherton – Kilby Court
1/19 – Aye Aye, Hew Mun, Navigator - Slowtrain
1/25 – The Future of the Ghost – Kilby Court
1/31 – The Lionelle, Dead Horse Point, Patterstats – Kilby Court
1/31 – Liars, No Age, Tolchok Trio – Urban Lounge
2/02 – Blood On The Wall, Will Sartain cd release – Kilby Court
2/03 – Yeasayer, MGMT – Kilby Court
2/06 – Navigator, Aye Aye, Stag Hare, Grizzly P. – Kilby Court
2/27 – Mahjongg, Calvin Johnson – Kilby Court
2/27 – Sole, Telephone Jim Jesus, Sinthesis – Urban Lounge
2/27 – Built To Spill, Meat Puppets – The Depot
2/28 – The Future of the Ghost, Band of Annuals – Kilby Court
3/06 – A Place To Bury Strangers – Urban Lounge
3/08 – Panther – Slowtrain
3/10 – Xiu Xiu – Urban Lounge
3/14 – Leslie & The Ly’s – Kilby Court
3/09 – Living Legends – Kilby Court
3/21 – Beach House, Papercuts – Kilby Court
3/22 – Jose Gonzalez – Union Ballroom
3/24 – Explosions in the Sky, Lichens, Black Moth Super Rainbow – In the Venue
3/24 – Aloha, Georgie James (formerly of Q & Not U) – Urban Lounge
3/26 – Headlights, Evangelicals – Kilby Court
4/06 – Dirty Projectors – Kilby Court
4/12 – Why? – Urban Lounge
4/14 – RJD2 – Urban Lounge
4/15 – Blitzen Trapper, Calico – Urban Lounge
4/16 – Enon – Urgan Lounge

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

More FG 2007 Favorites

Here are a few favorites from 2007 as we now completely wrap the year up and move into 2008, which should prove another amazing year for music. We will be back posting regularly next week with a few changes including a new rating system or lack thereof. Happy New Year and thank you for reading!

Favorite Tracks of 07'

Beirut – "Elephant Gun"
Sunset Rubdown – "For The Pier (And Dead Shimmering)"
Yeasayer – "2080"
Shining – "Psalm"
Fiery Furnaces – "Navy Nurse"
Grouper – "Heart Current"
Gowns – "Cherylee"
Woods – "Be Still"
LCD Soundsystem – "Someone Great"
Dungen – "Intro"
Aesop Rock – "None Shall Pass"
Clipd Beaks – "Black Glass"
M.I.A. – "Paper Planes"
Animal Collective – "Safer"
Shugo Tokumaru – "Green Rain"
Blues Control – "Blues Control"
Bon Iver – "Skinny Love"
Wooden Wand – "Spitting at the Camera"
Deerhoof – "Cast Off Crown"
Battles - "Tonto"
Caribou - "Irene"
Animal Collective - "Winter Wonder Land"
David Vandervelde - "Black Eyed Susan"
Liars - "Plaster Casts of Everything"
Of Montreal - "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger"
Luke Temple - "People Do"
The National - "Fake Empires"
Dirty Projectors - "Rise Above"
Iron & Wine - "House By The Sea"

Favorite Live Shows in Salt Lake City in 2007

Coyote Hoods
Slowtrain – 2.16.2007
My first encounter with the band on a 3rd South Gallery Stroll sounded like a mustier, jazzier. classier National. I have been watching out for a Coyote Hoods debut ever since. Guys, if you are reading this, the world needs a Coyote Hoods album.

and TV on the Radio – In the Venue – 3.20.2007
Subtle are absolutely unbeatable live. More energy than a pack of rage infected monkeys scrambling inside a 4’X4’ Plexiglas box. The second time I have seen Doseone and crew and definitely not the last. TV on the Radio may not have had the energy, but they definitely carried a wave of inscrutably wonderful sound that more than accounted for the buzz around Return to Cookie Mountain.

Lightning Bolt
Kilby Court – 4.4.2007
I have been waiting to see Lightning Bolt live since discovering the perfection of Wonderful Rainbow and viewing The Power of Salad. For all the hype it is amazing that Lightning Bolt exceeded my astronomical expectations. The hype is for real, Lightning Bolt is legendary!

Sunset Rubdown
and Xiu Xiu – Urban Lounge – 4.17.2007
This is Sunset Rubdown as I have known them before my love affair with Random Spirit Lover and should have been an indicator of what was to come. An powerful set from Spencer Krug and Troupe. And Xiu Xiu, I’ll preface this with the recognition that I haven’t been too into their recorded output – good, but not my favourite – however, Xiu Xiu live is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. My Third time around with the now trio and definitely not the last. Equal to Subtle in the category of my favourite live acts who I will never miss the chance to see.

Animal Collective
– In the Venue – 5.22.2007
A complete u-turn from what I had viewed when seeing them a couple years ago, a friend derided the event by describing it as a Native American tribal rave. I would be inclined to agree but would use the description as a complement. Incredible set of both new and old AC with participating members on operating almost completely electronically, benefiting heavily from Panda Bears new fascination with loops.

Marnie Stern
– Urban Lounge – 6.25.2007
This show was a jawdropper to most in attendance. Insane guitar work from Stern and her cohort and nuts drumming from Zach of Hella. This show was so so good!

Tenants of Balthazaar’s Castle
– Red Light Books – 7.14.2007
I have seen few experimental, noise-type sets in my short life, but this set by Tenants of Balthazaar’s Castle was certainly the cat’s meow compared to the seemingly kitten work by the rest of the bands that I saw on this night.

– Urban Lounge - 10.24.2007
Rocking dueling drum kits a (broken) projector and some blessed out 60’s era tunes, Caribou turned The Urban Lounge into an entrancing, laptop-infected time machine. All the tracks from the new full length translated terrifically with their rougher live edge. A superb set spanning into the wee morning hours.

Dirty Projectors
Kilby Court – 9.5.2007
I had seen The Dirty Projectors a couple years back when I seemed to be the only one in attendance and was unfortunately not too impressed. Now, a lineup change and new record later, The Dirty Projectors are unstoppable. Disjointed harmonies, tremulous drumming and off-kilter guitar work turned this into one of my very favourite shows of the year.

LCD Soundsystem
– Thanksgiving Point – 9.26.2007
I was lukewarm on Sound of Silver before this show and have had to reassess the record since. LCD Soundsystem absolutely killed it at Thanksgiving Point and totally showed up Arcade Fire. Classiest set and probably the largest show I saw all year.

Black Mountain
, Cave SingersKilby Court – 9.28.2007
With two legendary sets, this had to be the best show to grace Kilby Court in 2007. Cave Singers produced a euphoric musty green atmosphere with their backwater folk meshing perfectly with the lit green plastic backdrop that Kilby provides. The breath taking set held probably the most quietly entranced crowd of any on the list. Following the soft serve of Cave Singers, Black Mountain trounced a packed garage (that’s what Kilby is, right?) full of spectators as probably the only band that could honestly employ a smoke machine without sneering sarcasm. Stacking Guitar Hero-esque guitar muggery along with a keyboard/drum cacophony, Black Mountain win the award for best rock set of 2007.

– In the Venue - 10.6.2007
My first Deerhoof show after a long courtship, similar to Lightning Bolt, this show did not disappoint. The night saw Greg Saunier prove himself as possibly my favourite drummer of all time (which is a considerable feet when I had previously seen both Brian Chippendale [Lightning Bolt] and Zach Hill [Hella, w/ Marnie Stern] live earlier in the year). Crazy indie noise and The Future of the Ghost’s CD release party to boot.

Aye Aye
Nobrow, Slowtrain, Kilby – 2007
If there was one musician that constantly killed it through 2007 that musician was Aye Aye. Starting with an early set that we caught at Nobrow in January through shows at Slowtrain, Kilby and, ahem, Nobrow throughout the rest of the year, Aye Aye’s experimental blues was the most consistently varied and satisfying. The nod is just in time for an upcoming CD release show set for January 19th at Slowtrain. Unmissable and definitely the most anticipated local release of 2008.

Favorite Music Blogs

All of the blogs linked on our page to your left are incredible blogs. I don't link just anything! I suggest you stroll through all of them. That being said, here are our favorites for the year 2007.

Raven Sings the Blues – Aside from often informing the content of Forest Gospel, Raven Sings the Blues is always ahead of the game on finding and promoting incredible bands before anyone else, beating us to the punch on almost every occasion. Incredible, full MP3s and great music, this is my most viewed music blog of the year.

MFR - This is a little blog I discovered this year and have been fascinated with since first glance. Coming out of Minneapolis, MFR covers a wide range of music from all different genres and levels of accessibility. There are always tons of MP3's for sampling purposes.

Blog Are For Dogs - This blog is actually quite similar to MFR, and I like it for the same reasons as well as the wordy "incoherent ramblings" and Mondrian-esque banner.

Gorilla Vs. Bear - And of course, what would Sassigrass do with her spare time if it wasn't for Gvs.B?

Favorite Music Videos of 07'

Justice -

Of Montreal - "Heimdalsgate Like A Promethian Curse"

Beirut - "Elephant Gun"

Shugo Tokumaru - "Green Rain"

Mum - "They Made Frogs Smoke Til' They Exploded"

Animal Collective - "Peacebone"

-Mr Thistle & Sassigrass