Friday, November 21, 2008

Kemialliset Ystavat - Harmaa Laguuni

Kemialliset Ystavat
Harmaa Laguuni
(2008, Secret Eye)
File Under = Finnish music, aka, nuts/awesome/weird music

To peg Finnish music staple Kemialliset Ystavat as a member of the freak folk movement is not so much a misnomer as an understatement. Sure, you could call him freak folk if you want, but Kemialliset Ystavat is way beyond the freakness of, say, Devendera Banhart or Joanna Newsom. His most recent, Harmaa Laguuni is the result of a long line of way out there interplanetary shi bubbling out of whatever alien voodoo pot the man is cooking this stuff up in. It also is by no means simply folk. There are folksy elements in there, sure - strains of acoustic instrumention, a general ‘organic’ feeling, but folk? My heavens, no. I’m hard pressed to describe this in any standard musical terms; folk, electronica, noise, music concrete, anything utterly and completely bizarre…there is a start. The end is simply: it’s Kemialliset Ystavat. Nothing really compares. Well, maybe if Black Dice and the inhabitants from The Labyrinth (minus David Bowie) got caught in some interplanetary black hole; that might compare. Until that occurs, we can’t really know for sure. Anywho, this is all just a long way of saying Kemialliset Ystavat is unique - unique and utterly mind-altering. Harmaa Laguuni is a limited tour only release that is still floating around a few places online. Spanning 7 tracks and 1,653 musical motifs (at least at my last count), Harmaa Laguuni is all over the place in a way that only Kemialliset Ystavat can control. In fact, I think it may be even more easily digestible than his super duper awesome self titled from last year. Harmaa Laguuni is an excellent exhibit of softcore weirdo noise for the whole family.

-Mr. Thistle


Talibam!/ Wasteland Jazz Unit - Ecstatic Jazz Duos

Talibam! / Wasteland Jazz Unit
Ecstatic Jazz Duos
(10.2008, Thor’s Rubber Hammer)
File Under = Jazz with a healthy dose of noise

The folks over at Thor’s Rubber Hammer (home of the recently highlighted Chartreuse debut) have just released the first split LP in their inspired 3-part Ecstatic Jazz Duos series. The series already boasts an impressive line up for the remaining two installations in the series but I can’t imagine that those LPs could do much to eclipse what we’ve been blessed with here from Talibam! and Wasteland Jazz Unit. Let’s start with who I’m familiar. Talibam! (one of very few bands who have earned their mandatory exclamation mark) is America’s very own free-jazz/noise-rock terrorists. Bursting onto the seen fairly recently, Talibam! has secured a nod of reliability through a slew of maddening releases mostly put out on CDr. In the world of free form prog and jazz, reliability is key. With the ranks of improvisation swelling, it is hard not to get suckered into some second rate jam session pitched as some new hipster salvation. Fortunately, Talibam! is the real deal. Coupling inhuman drum schizophrenia (a requirement for successful free jazz in my book) and synthesized electronic buffoonery, this drum n’ keys duo plows through 18+ minutes of manipulated prog rock lunacy. The piece constantly evolves into various contortions of noise addled madness that even breaks away momentarily at about the midway point to introduce vocals to the mix with some type of alternate reality rap. Yeah, it’s definitely out there and, yes, it’s definitely good. On the flip, I was happy to discover my new best friends, Wasteland Jazz Unit. This duo leans much farther into noise territory with two extended jams that reach just past eight minutes. Both are experiments in audio brutality. Using a saxophone and clarinet to unrecognizable ends, Wasteland Jazz Unit produces an abrasive aural commotion that sounds a little bit like a batch of Axolotl tracks layered on top of each other and then pounded together with a jackhammer. It really is a beautiful destruction (emphasis on the destruction). Yep, with two more records left to go in the series, it is going to be hard to top the level ridiculously enjoyable confusion the two duos have served up.

-Mr. Thistle

Talibam! on Myspace
Wasteland Jazz Unit on Myspace

Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker - Fantasma Parastasie

Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker
Fantasma Parastasie
(10.2008, Alien8)
Verdict = A little less than the sum of its parts

The coupling of Aidan Baker and Tim Hecker on record is pretty much a dream team scenario. Baker is a propelling force of the pulsating drone doom outfit Nadja and Hecker stands as one of the elder statesman of glitchy free form electronics. So, it goes without saying that Fantasma Parastasie brings some pretty astrological expectations to the table. Right out of the gate, Baker and Hecker are immediately recognizable. With a shared penchant for beautiful, slow drifting chords soaked in noise, Fantasma Paratasie lays it on thick…literally. Layers of rough drones shifting like ancient titans squirming in their sleep propel you from one track to the next. With a sort of overcast mood throughout, the duo’s flourishes are spare - a lazy pedal affected guitar here, some electronic pulsations there. All pretty standard stuff from both camps. A tried and true formula that has been aped to infinity. All in all, Fantasma Parastasie is a solid release (Baker and Hecker are pretty much immune to subpar albums), but in light of those astronomical expectations…unfortunately, the album doesn’t quite meet them. Sure, leveling high expectations can be a bit unfair. However, I can’t help but retain an itching feeling that not only could either of these two experimental luminaries produce this album all by themselves, they could probably make it a whole lot better. Ambient drone is simply not the arena where above average releases can still shine through. I don’t get too critical too often, but I was hoping for a bit more from a collaboration between such highly regarded artists.

-Mr. Thistle

Stream Fantasma Parastasie

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Amplifier Machine - Her Mouth Is An Outlaw

Amplifier Machine
Her Mouth Is An Outlaw
(2008, 12K)
Verdict = Post Rock is back!

Remember when Godspeed You Black Emperor! was absolutely the best band in the world and Mogwai still sounded fresh and vibrant? Mmm, yeah, those were some good times. And then remember when Explosions In The Sky briefly resurrected that good old climax heavy instrumentalism and the stars aligned again? Seems like ages since I last remember being excited about some good old fashioned instrumental post rock. Sure, there have been other notables along the way, but I’m talkin’ the transportative, hinging on religious euphoria type stuff. I guess it is pretty obvious why the whole thing fell apart – eventually the excitement of those upward building processions became stale and predictable. I mean, how many times can you rewrite the same exact chord progression culminating with the same exact climax while remaining emotive? Apparently, for only a couple full length albums. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss it though or love revisiting those old classics. However, it is fairly obvious that instrumental post rock needed a savior. You’ll notice the past tense of that last sentence. Enter: Amplifier Machine. Can I say “wow?” I mean whoa; this is some powerful, transportative, higher-level type stuff. Amplifier Machine’s debut album, Her Mouth Is An Outlaw, feels like the missing step in the evolution from Explosions In the Sky to Eluvium, bridging the gap from the structure of post rock to the improvisational space of atmospheric drone. Amplifier Machine maintains a strong skeletal structure but makes space for plenty of inspired deviations from its players, creating some of the most gorgeous ear candy I think I have heard in a long, long time. In addition, on Her Mouth Is An Outlaw, the structure doesn’t perpetually lead to a raucous climax. The album flows beautifully as a whole, slowly snaking along and forging its own unique peaks and valleys in an original, but oddly familiar way. Her Mouth Is An Outlaw is an utterly serendipitous gem of expansive beauty compounded into a tiny plastic disc. I know I have the tendency to get really excited about new music, often overly so, but to overlook this album is to truly miss one of the most amazing things to come out all year – right up there with The Fun Years and Gang Gang Dance. Translation: listen to this album!

-Mr. Thistle

Friday, November 14, 2008


Some of you local readers may be familiar with Gavin of KUTV's Gavin's Underground blog. Well, Gavin asked us if he could ask few questions and we were all like, "sure." So, for all you SLC detectives out there looking to crack the case FG and identify us through our disguises and personal responses to Gavin's inquiries, now's your chance:

Millipede - Hyrule

(2008, Epicene)
File Under = My Bloody Valentine + Zelda?

The other day Wooly Mammal approached me in utter distress. You see, Wooly is taking a course on rock n’ roll history at the University of Utah and while scanning forward to see what was up next on the class syllabus, Mr. Mammal was devastated by the absence of My Bloody Valentine. I can certainly understand. Not discussing Loveless in a class spanning the history of rock is simply irresponsible. Fortunately for Wooly, Millipede, the solo alias of one Joe Davenport, is a project which rightfully honors MBV in its mission statement…MBV and Zelda. Yeah, who knew, right? This should come as welcome news to Wooly Mammal who just happens to be the biggest Zelda fanatic I know. In fact, with his credentials, he is really set up quite nicely to review this release. Unfortunately for him, this one is too good for me to pass up. I myself am a fair Zelda fan. I can definitely hold my own on the original Nintendo version (though my current copy has been out of commission for some time). However, that is about the extent of my experience. But Hyrule doesn’t really require those type of qualifiers anyway because, as it turns out, when you mix My Bloody Valentine with Zelda the results are something more akin to reverberated noise of Yellow Swans or Wzt Hearts. For those who don’t know, both of the afore mentioned FG favorites announced their demise this year making the arrival of Millipede’s Hyrule all the more welcome in order to fill the void. Released as an ultra limited edition cassette (don’t stop reading), Hyrule runs its course in five tracks that reach just passed twenty minutes. In that time frame, Davenport evokes MBV’s disheartened guitars and then distorts and layers them with devastating results. The tracks struggle constantly between downtrodden beauty and analog violence that coalesces into a marvelous whole. Hyrule is really quite marvelous (like year end time marvelous), and as long as Davenport continues to run his idea of Zelda through MBV pedals we are all in good hands. Now, there is the matter of these ultra limited cassettes (only 30). Turns out they were snatched up as soon as the were produced (and with good reason), so Mr. Davenport has graciously made Hyrule available to the rest of us, not-quite-so-geeky-but-still-pretty-geeky folk who didn’t have the inside scoop on his MBV/Zelda/cassette madness so, please, take advantage of the link below – I promise that it will be worth your time!

-Mr. Thistle

Download Hyrule

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Colourmusic - F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatis, 1 or 13

F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13
(09.2008, Great Society)
Verdict = It’s definitely orange, like an Orange Julius (if you like that sort of thing)

On paper (or their Wikipedia page) the concept that is Colourmusic should set off some blatant pretension alarms. As the Oklahoma band name implies, Colourmusic is interested in color theory - more specifically, Isaac Newton’s Theory of Color and Sound. And, as the spelling implies, Colourmusic carries a Brit in its ranks and probably has plenty of socialist friends in Europe. F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13 is an accumulation of a couple of the bands earlier EPs based on the “colours” yellow and red along with some additional new songs. So, anyone worth their weight in grade school color creation can probably work out that the Colourmusic’s debut is based on the band’s idea of what Orange sounds like. I decided to test this out FG’s own resident color theorist, Sassigrass. Just so you have a little background, Sassigrass has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, is obsessed with Joseph Albers and currently works during the day as a luxury faux painter for people with way too much money. On her faux painting team, Sassigrass is renowned for her ability to mix colors in order to perfectly match any wall or trim they encounter. Without giving her any preliminary information about the band I played her the album and then asker her, “if you could say that this album was any one specific color, what would it be?” She was a little hesitant, only because she didn’t want to get it wrong, but eventually she admitted that she thought it was indeed orange. I agree, and not only has Colourmusic captured the color within sound, but has captured thirteen tracks of almost infallible pop genius. Yep, it turns out orange is the color of incredible pop music. Don’t read that lightly either, on F, Orange, blah blah, 1 or 13, Colourmusic has created one of those exuberantly exciting, endlessly creative albums that sounds like it was as fun to make as it is fun to hear. The album is the sharpest, most vibrant, most ridiculously-enjoyable-without-being-overbearing album I’ve heard since, well, I don’t know, maybe ever? It certainly ranks up there with the best releases of The Flaming Lips, The Unicorns, Annuals, Evangelicals, Pas/Cal, Portugal. The Man, The Starlight Mints – you know, that whole psych-pop crowd. Well, with a single debut full length, Colourmusic has set themselves up as either equal or superior to many of the aforementioned statesmen of imaginative, off kilter indie rock. Here is hoping that orange isn’t the pinnacle of pop in its expression of color. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to hear some green next time around. How about it Colourmusic?

-Mr Thistle

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff - Way Out Northwest

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff
Way Out Northwest
(03.2008, Drip Audio)
File Under = Out-there jazz

Way Out Northwest is definitely not for everyone. In fact, I am still figuring out if it is for me. So why am I posting on some obscure record without coming to a clean consensus about it? Well, probably because it is one of the more compelling, destabilizing and exciting things I’ve heard all year. For some reason I keep coming back to it despite the fact that my experiences have ranged from wide-eyed adoration to blunt confusion and annoyance. It is a difficult album to get one’s head around, but on the occasions when the elasticity of my head proves extensive, it is also one of the more enjoyable pieces of abstract-anything I’ve been listening to. It’s just out there, “way out” there. Rooted in jazz, Butcher, Muller and van der Schyff (none of whom I am super familiar with) simply go a little haywire, turning their improv away from natural grooves or musical touchstones like melody and time structures, opting instead to amble along like a psychotic animal suffering from the post traumatic effects of electric shock therapy. So, yeah, turns out that I am kind of into that…I guess. Actually, I am not really into that. I guess that's the oddity. Way Out Northwest plays with your head, alternately convincing you and then dissuading from agreeing with it or liking it or feeling like you are that psychotic animal. You can see how it would be - at the very least - intriguing. In practice it extends far beyond intrigue. With just a saxophone, contrabass and drums, this trio performs an aural exorcism of monstrous proportions. This is avant free-jazz on the edge, teetering towards a free fall. For those who find themselves up to it – it’s pretty exhilarating.

-Mr. Thistle

Clark - Turning Dragon

Turning Dragon
(01.2008, Warp)
Verdict = My favourite electronic album of 2008.

My verdict may not be saying a whole lot since I have only briefly scanned the landscape electronic music in 2008. However, between the hipster heavy grit of Crystal Castles, the pregnant time signatures of Venetian Snares and the reappearance of electronic legends Auchtere (not to mention electronic delineations like Cut Copy and Portishead) I’ve listened to a few. Among them, Turning Dragon has not only taken the lengthiest time to comprehend (seriously, I’ve had it pretty much since it was released in January), but has emerged as the most divisive amongst those heads I know who take electronic music seriously. I’m not sure why it’s so divisive though. Maybe it’s for the same reasons that the album required almost a year of my time in order to win my admiration. First impressions are always important and album opener, “New Year Storm,” starts things of with an alienating house beat (someone please correct me on that description if I’m wrong). The beat isn’t alienating because it is bad; it’s just reminiscent of a seriously electro-centric or purest sound that seems tailored for persons more fully integrated in bizarre underworld of electronic music. However, perseverance is key here. As the percussive and textural layers build things slowly become more and more familiar. Familiarity is important, because Clark’s world is an alien one filled to the top with austere post-industrial grit. You simply have to trust yourself to Clark care. About the time you reach “Violent” (track 5) you probably start to think to yourself (if you are anything like me), “ok, I think I am starting to get this a little bit. Maybe, I actually like this…was that a Radiohead sample?” Stop here. Breath. Now go back and listen to the insanely awesome second half. Really, this is where things really start to pick up and Clark simply lets you loose within his world to discover that things might not be as ascetic as they seemed. After a few more listens like this for it was like, “Aha! This is absolutely ridiculous!” It is really worth the effort. Clark (or Chris Clark) is an insanely scrupulous composer and it shows through in the perfections exhibited in his music. Every measure of Turning Dragon is peppered with loads of detail providing endless replayability. Going hand in hand with his composition is his production. Turning Dragon perfectly produced, but is much rougher than the description implies. Clark’s electronics have been painstakingly scraped and rusted in order to produce the world through Clark’s ears. It may take awhile to digest, but the perfective struggle with which Clark has toiled in order to produce Turning Dragon is truly an awe inspiring experience.

-Mr. Thistle

Clark's Website

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Loma Prieta - Last City

Loma Prieta
Last City
(07.2008, ?)
Verdict = I like screamo?

Yep, turns out I do. At least the brand that Loma Prieta churn out on Last City. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago when reviewing Capsule’s delirious hardcore masterwork, Blue, good hardcore/punk is not really a fixture on the FG radar, but it should be because when albums like Last City find their way to my ears there is virtually no peeling away the headphones. I don’t know a whole lot about Loma Priest other than the vitals that they’ve displayed on their MySpace page. Hailing from California, the band gets its name from one of the more recently devastating earthquakes in that state’s history. As you could guess, the parallels with the music are fitting. Loma Prieta delivers songs in brief seismic blasts that shake you down to your foundation. The instrumentation here is nutty technical and anchored by the wildly impressive drummer. The drums are simply awe inspiring, inserting an endless variety of inventive fills and break neck technicality that moves in and out of time signatures like a knife. Heap on top of that some jarringly melodic post rock guitars and vitriolic screaming (the good kind – not too high, not too low) and you’ve got Loma Prieta. It may seem like City of Caterpillar is the only reference point I’ve got in my comparative bag for discussing hardcore, and while that may not be as far from the truth as I’m willing to admit, they are simply the gold standard. I mention them again because Loma Prieta are at that same standard. In fact, Loma Prieta are kind of like City of Caterpillar minus the Godspeed You Black Emperor instrumentals and with the production values of The Shape of Punk to Come (another hardcore classic). Mixing in just the right amounts of melody and drama with the noise, Last City is an instantly gratifying catharsis. But…what about the tags? Th band has been described as screamo and even…emo? They’re valid and, yeah, they’ve been the constant butt of my jokes for the last few years too, however, when they are done this well it would take even the most jaded hipster not to take notice. It’s not like we couldn’t wage the same critiques of all our favourite, more acceptable genres anyway. Good music is good music regardless. Last City isn’t just good music, it’s awesome music. Oh, and just as a heads up: the album is mega brief. Just about twenty minutes I think, so it won’t outstay its welcome anytime soon if you are apprehensive about dipping your feet in. It is possible that lots of people will disagree, especially in context of what I usually review, but in my book Last City is essential!

-Mr. Thistle

Friday, November 7, 2008

Johann Johannsson - Fordlandia

Johann Johannsson
(11.2008, 4AD)
Verdict = Magnificent in every sense

On Fordlandia, Johannsson combines the instant accessibility of Englaborn with the massively affecting heft of Virugelu Forsetar into a compelling whole. Compounding all his strengths, Johannsson has created something that is immediately engrossing and gorgeously magnetic. The album opener and namesake, “Fordlandia,” is a near 14 minute stand-alone track that shamelessly dives into a viscerally uplifting major chord progression that is so redeeming that it hinges on silliness. Yet dismissing the track on that basis is an easy way to lose out. Anyone can be a jerk, however, to embrace such unabashed beauty in all its cinematic drama, as Johannsson has done here, takes guts. I think the track is amazing myself and is a dynamic moment in relation to the rest of the album because “Fordlandia” feels like the track that you play at the end of the movie when the protagonist marries her man. However, Johannsson leads off with this track before diving into similarly beautiful, but undoubtedly gloomier territory. It’s as if the story starts at some triumphant finale only to reveal things may not have ended up so happily ever after. In fact things turn awry almost immediately when the melodies turn from mischievous to sorrowful to menacing with each successive track. I would continue a description track for track, but for some reason I feel like I would be spoiling the ending. Johannsson’s use of woodwinds and pulsing electronics fit perfectly in the minor key transformation, adding characters to the plot and making Fordlandia Johannsson’s most lyrical album to date. We’ve followed our fair share of neo classical albums on FG this year, but while everyone else seems content to string together a series of individual-yet-similar tracks Johannsson has dreamed up something of a symphonic masterpiece. At moments it touches the visceral intensity of Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for Requiem For A Dream at others it soars into the cloudlike hymnals of an angelic quality (chorals included). The scope of the album as a whole is unmatched not only on the current indie classical landscape but on the landscape of modern music as a whole. Johannsson has set a new standard for neo classical composers that will hopefully be embraced and challenged in the years to come.

-Mr. Thistle

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Koen Holtkamp - Field Rituals

Koen Holtkamp
Field Rituals
(10.2008, Type)
Verdict: Good for spacing out.

I rarely take baths. After the initial moments of relaxation settle in, I realize I'm just sitting in a pool of my own dirt. My first attempt at listening to Koen Holtkamp's debut took place in one of these rare bath taking moments. And to Koen's credit I was spaced out enough by the vibes of Field Rituals to make it through a good portion of the album before having to bail on my bath. Now that I've had several bathless listens to this gem, I think it's safe to say while Koen's not necessarily bringing anything new to the ambient-drone table he's defiantly holding his own in a genre's that's been pretty much exhausted by anyone who knows how to work a laptop. Field Rituals has a nice blissful dreamy quality that finds its self sharing time with tempo stretched guitars, ear panning bells, psyched-out synths, acoustic strums, and you guessed it, field recordings. The prime example of Koen's abilities to space out the listener without being overtly spacey is nestled between the 14 minutes of "Sky Flowers." The track opens with multi-delayed acoustics and bells sliding from speaker to speaker while a slowed down guitar chord ushers in a scene of wild children escaping their parent's grasp to run free with their playmates in a city park. The scene changes as the children are panned out and we are left with a wandering synthesizer and a new round of bouncing acoustics. One of my favorite tracks of the year fo sho. And while the whole album doesn't ride the same high that "Sky Flowers" produces, there are definitely no crap moments. If you've got a patient ear, I'm sure you'll be rewarded by this near hour long trip.

-Wooly Mammal

caUSE co-MOTION - It's Time! Singles and EPs 2005-2008

It's Time! Singles and Eps 2005-2008
(10.2008 Slumberland)
Verdict: Rock n' Roll fun for the whole family!

Sassigrass is pretty pumped for 2008 to end. Her hope is that with the change a new year brings, we will all get over poorly recorded pop music. While I do fear young white America's new found infatuation with gutter scraping recording techniques being applied to pop tunes may result in a boat load of bands who can't actually write songs getting undeserved attention, I will gladly sift through their lack luster offerings if I keep finding stuff as delicious as caUSE Co-Motion!'s new singles and ep's collection It's Time! Now before I rant on about how radtastic this album is please let me preface that I'm not a total lo-fi pop whore. I find Eat Skull to be pretty crappy and Sick Alps getting more cred than they deserve. But that preface aside, I'm still a sucker for a bit of clang and clatter in the production of my pop fused rock n' roll. And caUSE Co-MOTION! is total rock n' roll! While most reviews I've check out for this album reference 80's band after 80's band, I find myself wanting to grease my hair, put on a leather jacket and groove the night away with my poodle skirt clad baby (if I had one). These tunes are just as influenced by Jackie Brenston as there are by the 80's post punk underground. These tunes are super hopin', catchy as anything you could hope for, and most of all fun. It's the type of album I can listen to on repeat as I boogie the night away, and at an album length of just over 20 minutes there will have to be a great deal of repeating going on.

-Wooly Mammal

caUSE co-MOTION - "Who's Gonna Care"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dylan Champagne - New Equation

Dylan Champagne
New Equation
(04.2008, Self Released?)
Verdict: Pleasant with a few exceptional stand-outs

Dylan Champagne is starting to get some pretty attention for his album New Equation. It has taken a while for this coverage to come about, sort of like it has taken me a long time to finally getting around to writing this review. The problem isn't that the album isn't good. It is definitely good, but something about it keeps it washed a little below the surface so it never really becomes great. When I listen to his singer/songwriter tunes I find them very enjoyable and relaxed, definitely worth listening too, but there is nothing in them that keep me coming back. They don't get stuck in your head or make you want to repeat them. They aren't very catchy, but that isn't always a bad thing. I just really can't out my finger on what makes these songs slip into the background, but that is what happens. You listen to the album and love it, and then you forget that it exists until it comes back on your shuffle and then you think "who is this again?" and when you see you love it again until the song is over. It really is a solid pleasant album, and if you own it you probably really enjoy it. Champagne's vocals have the deadened monotone and pitch of Why?'s Yoni Wolf. The songs have well written melodies, but overall the instrumentation is too sparse and lacking anything to really set them apart from slow songs that any kid writes in his/her bedroom when he/she is bored.


Dylan Champagne on myspace

Jaguar Love - Take Me To The Sea

Jaguar Love
Take Me To The Sea
(08.2008, Matador)
Verdict: Fun!

How about another umm..... pop punk album? Jaguar Love is what you get when you take two of the most enjoyable deceased umm... punk bands and sew the remnants into a spaz rock super group. Being the descendants of Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves, Jaguar Love had some big shoes to fill, and at first I wasn't buying it. I was initially uninterested because the distinct twee vocals from Blood Brothers Johnny Whitney make it hard not to expect just another Blood Brothers album. Once I finally separated the bands in my mind and allowed Jaguar Love to be their own band I started really enjoying Take Me To The Sea. It has all the retarded frantic brutality that you have come to love from the previous bands releases all written into hook heavy rock n' roll songs for you to finally get your experimental umm... pop punk side down to this year.


Portugal. The Man - Censored Colors

Portugal. The Man
Censored Colors
(o9.2008, Equal Vision)
Verdict: Don't write it off just because it's sold on SmartPunk

Lately a lot of bands have been labeled as "cross-genre." It is usually true. Bands no longer fit into the perfect little molds formed from the English language by which we try to classify and make sense of things. Music is morphing in every direction. There are more obscure start up record labels out there now than Mr. Thistle has cousins, and yet some certain labels and/or bands get promoted so heavily to a certain genre of people, that the other genres of people ignore the bands, even if they supposedly support "cross-genre" artists. Such is the way with the heavily promoted and widely loved Portugal. The Man. Their love is in the wrong place. People that listen to As I Lay Dying and Underoath love Portugal. The Man, and for some reason that makes people that listen to Black Mountain and Dodos not listen to Portugal. The Man even though they fit more with the latter bands than the former. All I am saying here is, give this album a chance cause it deserves that and much much more. Portugal has consistently blown me away, but this time they have morphed into a beautifully orchestrated composition-heavy rock band of complete enjoyment. Singer John Baldwin Gourley said it best when describing this albums' accomplishments by stating: "We've always wanted to make a really heavy record mellow." The aesthetics of this album are a gauzy ballad struck classically composed Led Zepplin in the year 2008. It's beautifully refreshing and instantly enjoyable.


"Colors" performed accoustically