"If you can't make music, write about music."
The Melodic Dilemma
April 10, 2014
Electric Six: Mustang
There are bands that are parody music, and they wear their title proudly: The Lonely Island raps their way into our hearts and funny bones, and Weird Al manages to give people a li’l chuckle after almost 40 years. Then there are bands that, despite creating fun, interesting and occasionally poignant songs, cannot escape this title. Tenacious D seem to begrudgingly accept it, but Electric Six tend to swing between goofs and hard rockin’ masters of wordplay rather frequently, usually in the same album. their debut laid the stage for the hilarity with songs of intensity and burning purpose like Electric Demons in Love and I Invented the Night, but when it rained it poured: Gay Bar, Dance Commander, She’s White.
With every album, the line between funny and memorable blurred considerably, but not without bumps. It reached a head with Kill’s bassy, massively heavy and morbid lyricism, but right after the return to form of Zodiac, their sense of humor bled inappropriately into their music with Heartbeats and Brainwaves. All the newfangled electronics and forced lyricism diluted their message.
Mustang tries to remedy this dry spell to minor avail. Electric Six’s master frontman let his voice homogenize for the electro-pop of Heartbeats, but he dons a headband and a mullet straight from Van Halen themselves for Mustang (the cover is the very embodiment of the masculine not-afraid-to-cry eyeliner 80’s sensibility). Songs like Nom De Plume walk that thin line, it’s drenched in neon paint, but Late Night Obama Food and Cheryl vs. Darryl are unsightly hiccups in their writing. Conversely, Jessica Dresses like a Dragon is still pedantic, but hides some rather emotive subject matter.
Iron Dragon and Miss Peaches Wears an Iron Dress both carry the lumbering piano-power-balladry that their music needed to return to glory, with Iron Dragon taking the cake for one of the best songs they’ve written in years, but there are still problems that should not be overlooked. Adam Levine is the crowned garbage jewel of Mustang, and drags it down immensely simply by putting a direction onto their fun aggression. Just listen to it. Overall, Mustang is a large step for the band, and in a correct direction, but there’s obviously still a long way to go.
Electric Six’s WebsitePlease listen to Iron Dragon, it’s so good.Buy Mustang.

Electric Six: Mustang


There are bands that are parody music, and they wear their title proudly: The Lonely Island raps their way into our hearts and funny bones, and Weird Al manages to give people a li’l chuckle after almost 40 years. Then there are bands that, despite creating fun, interesting and occasionally poignant songs, cannot escape this title. Tenacious D seem to begrudgingly accept it, but Electric Six tend to swing between goofs and hard rockin’ masters of wordplay rather frequently, usually in the same album. their debut laid the stage for the hilarity with songs of intensity and burning purpose like Electric Demons in Love and I Invented the Night, but when it rained it poured: Gay Bar, Dance Commander, She’s White.

With every album, the line between funny and memorable blurred considerably, but not without bumps. It reached a head with Kill’s bassy, massively heavy and morbid lyricism, but right after the return to form of Zodiac, their sense of humor bled inappropriately into their music with Heartbeats and Brainwaves. All the newfangled electronics and forced lyricism diluted their message.

Mustang tries to remedy this dry spell to minor avail. Electric Six’s master frontman let his voice homogenize for the electro-pop of Heartbeats, but he dons a headband and a mullet straight from Van Halen themselves for Mustang (the cover is the very embodiment of the masculine not-afraid-to-cry eyeliner 80’s sensibility). Songs like Nom De Plume walk that thin line, it’s drenched in neon paint, but Late Night Obama Food and Cheryl vs. Darryl are unsightly hiccups in their writing. Conversely, Jessica Dresses like a Dragon is still pedantic, but hides some rather emotive subject matter.

Iron Dragon and Miss Peaches Wears an Iron Dress both carry the lumbering piano-power-balladry that their music needed to return to glory, with Iron Dragon taking the cake for one of the best songs they’ve written in years, but there are still problems that should not be overlooked. Adam Levine is the crowned garbage jewel of Mustang, and drags it down immensely simply by putting a direction onto their fun aggression. Just listen to it. Overall, Mustang is a large step for the band, and in a correct direction, but there’s obviously still a long way to go.

Electric Six’s Website
Please listen to Iron Dragon, it’s so good.
Buy Mustang.

Jesu: Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came
Not a lot of bands that work under the idea of the genre “post metal”—plodding, loud and punk-inspired—have an incredible amount of variation. Isis managed to crank out multiple pristine albums with very little, very natural progression of sound and A Storm of Light fooled thousands by treading the same ground for three albums. Not a lot of bands need to change up their sound much. Jesu is one such band. Born from the ashes of the industrial grindcore monstrosity Godflesh, Jesu is Justin Broadrick at the helm and many controls, whether it’s in his bedroom playing with laptops, guitar loops and layers of vocal overdubbing, or in the live setting and in the studio with a group of talented musicians, Jesu bleeds Broadrick’s ideas.
Unfortunately for the iffy Ascension album in 2011, he got the idea in his head to play with somewhat catchier hooks and put plodding the annals of his idiom on the backburner for more tried-and true methods of trotting by with instruments. Things got pretty monotonous real fast, and that’s saying a lot for a project that is described lovingly with the word. Ascension was an album that was tainted even more coming off of the coattails of the religious experience that was the one-track Infinity, a melting pot of every unique moment in Jesu's sound all in 49 minutes. Infinity was also backed by the jarring but welcomed Opiate Sun with its lyrics of purpose and almost emotive delivery against riffs that were absolutely drenched in emotion and drive.
Thankfully, Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came is a step in the right direction: backwards. This isn’t a return to form of any sort, despite opening with Homesick (Ironic, huh?), a song that plays like it could’ve been an outtake of the equally monotonous and upbeat Conqueror. Things get nuts fast after Comforter takes off. It mixes piano and reversed effects on top of disorienting drumming to create a rather long track that feels like something from a trailer to a film. In fact, if the music wasn’t so uncanny, the whole record would be closer to Jesu's idea of EPs: emotive, driving and based in electronics. The title track carries Jesu's unique atmosphere, otherwise the perpetual build would be reminiscent of Mogwai. The 17-minute epic The Great Leveller is the last track of note from the five here.
The closer, Grey is the Colour isn’t much to riff about, Jesu sans-Broadrick vocals. It soars with it’s strangely active drumming and uplifting chords for all of a minute before rocking right the heck out. Eventually, with the remnants, a skeleton of the metal that just took place still hanging thick in the air, the drums and piano carry the hypnotic rhythm for a surprisingly short three minutes. It threatens to fall apart for most of its duration and, unlike Justin Broadrick’s resolve, it eventually does and gentle xylophone plays it out. As for the future, let’s just hope Broadrick pulls another variation rabbit out of his hat, or comes up with another awesome side project to bide his time.
Jesu’s WebsiteBuy/preview Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came.Watch Homesick.

Jesu: Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came


Not a lot of bands that work under the idea of the genre “post metal”—plodding, loud and punk-inspired—have an incredible amount of variation. Isis managed to crank out multiple pristine albums with very little, very natural progression of sound and A Storm of Light fooled thousands by treading the same ground for three albums. Not a lot of bands need to change up their sound much. Jesu is one such band. Born from the ashes of the industrial grindcore monstrosity Godflesh, Jesu is Justin Broadrick at the helm and many controls, whether it’s in his bedroom playing with laptops, guitar loops and layers of vocal overdubbing, or in the live setting and in the studio with a group of talented musicians, Jesu bleeds Broadrick’s ideas.

Unfortunately for the iffy Ascension album in 2011, he got the idea in his head to play with somewhat catchier hooks and put plodding the annals of his idiom on the backburner for more tried-and true methods of trotting by with instruments. Things got pretty monotonous real fast, and that’s saying a lot for a project that is described lovingly with the word. Ascension was an album that was tainted even more coming off of the coattails of the religious experience that was the one-track Infinity, a melting pot of every unique moment in Jesu's sound all in 49 minutes. Infinity was also backed by the jarring but welcomed Opiate Sun with its lyrics of purpose and almost emotive delivery against riffs that were absolutely drenched in emotion and drive.

Thankfully, Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came is a step in the right direction: backwards. This isn’t a return to form of any sort, despite opening with Homesick (Ironic, huh?), a song that plays like it could’ve been an outtake of the equally monotonous and upbeat Conqueror. Things get nuts fast after Comforter takes off. It mixes piano and reversed effects on top of disorienting drumming to create a rather long track that feels like something from a trailer to a film. In fact, if the music wasn’t so uncanny, the whole record would be closer to Jesu's idea of EPs: emotive, driving and based in electronics. The title track carries Jesu's unique atmosphere, otherwise the perpetual build would be reminiscent of Mogwai. The 17-minute epic The Great Leveller is the last track of note from the five here.

The closer, Grey is the Colour isn’t much to riff about, Jesu sans-Broadrick vocals. It soars with it’s strangely active drumming and uplifting chords for all of a minute before rocking right the heck out. Eventually, with the remnants, a skeleton of the metal that just took place still hanging thick in the air, the drums and piano carry the hypnotic rhythm for a surprisingly short three minutes. It threatens to fall apart for most of its duration and, unlike Justin Broadrick’s resolve, it eventually does and gentle xylophone plays it out. As for the future, let’s just hope Broadrick pulls another variation rabbit out of his hat, or comes up with another awesome side project to bide his time.

Jesu’s Website
Buy/preview Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came.
Watch Homesick.

February 27, 2014
Broken Bells: After the Disco
The most recent release by The Shins, Port of Morrow, had a rather consistent band and safe lyricist James Mercer coming out of their shells for some relatively predictable innovation in the context of the group’s discography, but add Brian Burton to the equation, and it opens up the horizons quite a bit, evidenced by After the Disco. While the first third isn’t anything worth noting with its lush basslines and soundscapes over jangly 80’s guitar, really creating the “disco” atmosphere. As with the title of the album, it’s after the disco that the music gets less forgettable.
The paradigm shift is marked by the acoustic balladry of Leave it Alone; its catchy hook and infectious tingly guitar lines realy make up for a 13 minute beginning that feels like an hour. The rest of the songs create a scenario where Brian Burton’s treatment to the work of James Mercer’s Shins rejects are incredibly smooth and seamless; where the two collaborators create something more, something different than simply the sum of their parts. Sure, the sounds are pretty well-trodden. Control channels Pink Floyd’s smoggy atmospheres over the simple lyrics, and if it weren’t for the generally modern effects and electronic beats, Mercer would be indistinguishable from a new age John Lennon circa Instant Karma on Lazy Wonderland. It was a rocky start for Broken Bells on Broken Bells, and it’s a rocky middle with After the Disco, but the sheer magnitude of the promise here means that the seats are gonna stay warm for the spectacle that promises to be another Broken Bells record. Now if only Burton would get back with Cee-Lo…
Broken Bells’ WebsiteBuy After the Disco.Meyrin Fields was better.

Broken Bells: After the Disco


The most recent release by The Shins, Port of Morrow, had a rather consistent band and safe lyricist James Mercer coming out of their shells for some relatively predictable innovation in the context of the group’s discography, but add Brian Burton to the equation, and it opens up the horizons quite a bit, evidenced by After the Disco. While the first third isn’t anything worth noting with its lush basslines and soundscapes over jangly 80’s guitar, really creating the “disco” atmosphere. As with the title of the album, it’s after the disco that the music gets less forgettable.

The paradigm shift is marked by the acoustic balladry of Leave it Alone; its catchy hook and infectious tingly guitar lines realy make up for a 13 minute beginning that feels like an hour. The rest of the songs create a scenario where Brian Burton’s treatment to the work of James Mercer’s Shins rejects are incredibly smooth and seamless; where the two collaborators create something more, something different than simply the sum of their parts. Sure, the sounds are pretty well-trodden. Control channels Pink Floyd’s smoggy atmospheres over the simple lyrics, and if it weren’t for the generally modern effects and electronic beats, Mercer would be indistinguishable from a new age John Lennon circa Instant Karma on Lazy Wonderland. It was a rocky start for Broken Bells on Broken Bells, and it’s a rocky middle with After the Disco, but the sheer magnitude of the promise here means that the seats are gonna stay warm for the spectacle that promises to be another Broken Bells record. Now if only Burton would get back with Cee-Lo

Broken Bells’ Website
Buy After the Disco.
Meyrin Fields was better.

February 26, 2014
Aun: Alpha Heaven
Canadian band Aun really threw a curve ball in 2012 with Full Circle. The EP was par for the soundscape course in technique, but the tones were more uplifting than oppressive or neutral, and the opener, Return to Jupiter Jazz, was inspiring. A jazzy riff surrounded by rising fog and electronic treatment that tickled the nostrils. However, Alpha Heaven throws this innovation to the wind and returns to soundscapes. However, instead of heavy shoegaze à la the last full length, the vocals have been ditched for some downright Fripp inspired guitar loops. The guitar treatment is upright, noticeable and bright against the slowly swirling currents of sound, and the release’s songs leave a lot of space to fill with emotion. It’s not quite visceral but Returna, the best showcase of this kind of sound, paints a rather happy picture. The delightfully minimalist Vulcan sets the melodic stage for La Luna’s and Peacecalm’s heartfelt synth and Alpha’s bright keyboards creating a kind of energy not often seen in Aun’s music. Sure, Viva had a drum track to add a much needed backbone of variation to the album, but the outright poppiness of Voyager is a refreshing delight with its prominent beat and ethereal vocals. Returning to the present from the Full Circle EP is not only Floodland, a refreshingly denser take on its original, but Return to Jupiter, sans-Jazz. The lack of that one word sets the stage for a large disappointment. A small, droning intro is all that is given to it besides a slightly denser production, although near the end things begin to blow up a bit louder. Let not the closing track create misdirection, Alpha Heaven is a star of subtle variation and evolution, and should not be missed for fans of dense, listenable drone.
Aun’s Label Page, where you can buy Alpha HeavenWatch War is Near.Watch La Luna.I wrote about Full Circle.Watch Alpha Heaven’s Trailer.

Aun: Alpha Heaven


Canadian band Aun really threw a curve ball in 2012 with Full Circle. The EP was par for the soundscape course in technique, but the tones were more uplifting than oppressive or neutral, and the opener, Return to Jupiter Jazz, was inspiring. A jazzy riff surrounded by rising fog and electronic treatment that tickled the nostrils. However, Alpha Heaven throws this innovation to the wind and returns to soundscapes. However, instead of heavy shoegaze à la the last full length, the vocals have been ditched for some downright Fripp inspired guitar loops. The guitar treatment is upright, noticeable and bright against the slowly swirling currents of sound, and the release’s songs leave a lot of space to fill with emotion. It’s not quite visceral but Returna, the best showcase of this kind of sound, paints a rather happy picture. The delightfully minimalist Vulcan sets the melodic stage for La Luna’s and Peacecalm’s heartfelt synth and Alpha’s bright keyboards creating a kind of energy not often seen in Aun’s music. Sure, Viva had a drum track to add a much needed backbone of variation to the album, but the outright poppiness of Voyager is a refreshing delight with its prominent beat and ethereal vocals. Returning to the present from the Full Circle EP is not only Floodland, a refreshingly denser take on its original, but Return to Jupiter, sans-Jazz. The lack of that one word sets the stage for a large disappointment. A small, droning intro is all that is given to it besides a slightly denser production, although near the end things begin to blow up a bit louder. Let not the closing track create misdirection, Alpha Heaven is a star of subtle variation and evolution, and should not be missed for fans of dense, listenable drone.

Aun’s Label Page, where you can buy Alpha Heaven
Watch War is Near.
Watch La Luna.
I wrote about Full Circle.
Watch Alpha Heaven’s Trailer.

February 20, 2014
Placebo: Loud Like Love
There aren’t many bands that run with the post-grunge paradigm as long as Placebo have that have survived the late 2000’s, let alone have made albums that can stand well enough into today. Battle for the Sun was a great example of Placebo’s knack for songwriting and simple, infectious dynamic. Unfortunately, B3EP was a great example of how their formula tends to waver while experimenting with different sounds and longer song lengths.
It’s hard, even now, to think that Battle for the Sun was a fluke of evolution for Placebo in the light of their latest release, Loud Like Love. The traditional opening title track not only hogs all of the album’s steam, but it also lays the blueprint that the band follows rigidly, from Brian Molko’s wobbly vocals to the monotonous drums. It plays out just like how Placebo should sound in their archetype: a poppy fringe band that understands when it’s time to put on their big boy band pants and play some mildly profound music that looks back to their roots while rocking out in a big way. Unfortunately, if the twists and turns weren’t so predictable down to the chic lyrics (My computer called me gay/I threw that piece of junk away), Loud Like Love might deserve to be disdainfully compared to the surprisingly listenable Battle for the Sun (which holds its own in a completely different way to their ‘timeless’ hits).
Placebo’s Website Loud Like Love’s minisite takes care of videos and the album’s purchase.

Placebo: Loud Like Love


There aren’t many bands that run with the post-grunge paradigm as long as Placebo have that have survived the late 2000’s, let alone have made albums that can stand well enough into today. Battle for the Sun was a great example of Placebo’s knack for songwriting and simple, infectious dynamic. Unfortunately, B3EP was a great example of how their formula tends to waver while experimenting with different sounds and longer song lengths.

It’s hard, even now, to think that Battle for the Sun was a fluke of evolution for Placebo in the light of their latest release, Loud Like Love. The traditional opening title track not only hogs all of the album’s steam, but it also lays the blueprint that the band follows rigidly, from Brian Molko’s wobbly vocals to the monotonous drums. It plays out just like how Placebo should sound in their archetype: a poppy fringe band that understands when it’s time to put on their big boy band pants and play some mildly profound music that looks back to their roots while rocking out in a big way. Unfortunately, if the twists and turns weren’t so predictable down to the chic lyrics (My computer called me gay/I threw that piece of junk away), Loud Like Love might deserve to be disdainfully compared to the surprisingly listenable Battle for the Sun (which holds its own in a completely different way to their ‘timeless’ hits).

Placebo’s Website
Loud Like Love’s minisite takes care of videos and the album’s purchase.

February 19, 2014
The Flaming Lips: Peace Sword
Embryonic and The Terror were two huge steps in the right direction for The Flaming Lips when looking at the many steps they’ve taken throughout their long, illustrious career, but The Terror must have picked up a bit of gum. Embryonic wasn’t perfect either, it’s long, meandering style tends to get lost in its own razor sharp sound, but the tight, concise EP Peace Sword takes the absolute best from both albums—Embryonic’s flare for the dramatic in intrumentation and The Terror’s oppressive, powerful lyricism—and creates something not to easily be trifled with. For the point of its sound, while still loud and abrasive, their binge on collaboration throughout (time) seems to have washed away the lack of direction in the sound to open up the theatrics that mid-era Flaming Lips albums were simply drenched with. The title opener is emotional in sound, between swathed of electric guitar and piano crashing like waves against the rocks of the plodding drum loops, and in lyrics; it’s been quite a while since they’ve been so sentimental. If They Move, Shoot ‘Em swaps the emotion of words for stark oppression and sarcasm while the somber sounds and driving drums continue, but the EP is certainly not a one-trick pony. There’s a beautiful minimalism in the quiet, contemplative Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy and Is the Black at the End Good channels John Lennon better than any blotter could claim Embryonic ever did with its mildly demanding writing style. The real gem is the closer, a ten minute, monolithic and monotonous beast that plays out like an outro with its repeating lyrics and climactic sound, but is given the length and bombastic arrangements of a suite. If The Terror wasn’t fundamentally flawed, and its problems were summed up in individual songs, replacing them with the tracks from Peace Sword would make it perfect, but for now, the only real flaw in this EP is its tragic shortness. There’s plenty to chew on here though, and it manages to pack the punch that Embryonic had with the emotional intensity that The Terror advertised in nearly a fourth of their lengths.
The Flaming Lips’ WebsiteBuy Peace Sword.

The Flaming Lips: Peace Sword


Embryonic and The Terror were two huge steps in the right direction for The Flaming Lips when looking at the many steps they’ve taken throughout their long, illustrious career, but The Terror must have picked up a bit of gum. Embryonic wasn’t perfect either, it’s long, meandering style tends to get lost in its own razor sharp sound, but the tight, concise EP Peace Sword takes the absolute best from both albums—Embryonic’s flare for the dramatic in intrumentation and The Terror’s oppressive, powerful lyricism—and creates something not to easily be trifled with. For the point of its sound, while still loud and abrasive, their binge on collaboration throughout (time) seems to have washed away the lack of direction in the sound to open up the theatrics that mid-era Flaming Lips albums were simply drenched with. The title opener is emotional in sound, between swathed of electric guitar and piano crashing like waves against the rocks of the plodding drum loops, and in lyrics; it’s been quite a while since they’ve been so sentimental. If They Move, Shoot ‘Em swaps the emotion of words for stark oppression and sarcasm while the somber sounds and driving drums continue, but the EP is certainly not a one-trick pony. There’s a beautiful minimalism in the quiet, contemplative Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy and Is the Black at the End Good channels John Lennon better than any blotter could claim Embryonic ever did with its mildly demanding writing style. The real gem is the closer, a ten minute, monolithic and monotonous beast that plays out like an outro with its repeating lyrics and climactic sound, but is given the length and bombastic arrangements of a suite. If The Terror wasn’t fundamentally flawed, and its problems were summed up in individual songs, replacing them with the tracks from Peace Sword would make it perfect, but for now, the only real flaw in this EP is its tragic shortness. There’s plenty to chew on here though, and it manages to pack the punch that Embryonic had with the emotional intensity that The Terror advertised in nearly a fourth of their lengths.

The Flaming Lips’ Website
Buy Peace Sword.

February 18, 2014
Starbomb
Internet fame begets internet side projects with electro power-comedy-rap trio Starbomb. Daniel “Sexbang” Avidan and "Ninja" Brian Wecht bring the freshest of synthesized beats straight from the less flatly electronic music from their own YouTube project Ninja Sex Party, where obviously plenty of the sex-oriented jokes come from (There are a lot). Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson, animator, voice actor, video game enthusiast, and greenhorn MC brings the tastiest of rhymes and a surprising amount of flow theory—ironically, the Rap Battle between main characters of Street Fighter showcases the best of his wordplay—to their debut together. Starbomb holds up incredibly well against famous contemporaries despite their incredibly two-dimensional canned instrumentation due to Arin and Dan’s outstanding dynamic whether they sing as contrasting entities on Luigi’s Ballad or the aforementioned Rap Battle, or together on songs like Regretroid despite having a third, female party to sing against. In the line of confrontations, Ninja Sex Party’s side of Starbomb seems to always be at wits with their incredibly well-trodden fodder (songs like No-Reason Boner? Party of Three, or FYI I Wanna F Your A?). If the band isn’t writing well read lyrics on sex for Arin to rap to in Luigi’s Ballad or Mega Marital Problems, they’re writing mediocre lyrics for Dan to sing beautifully, like on Kirby’s Adventures in Reamland. Mega Marital Problems has Dan’s proverbial dong slipping out of the underwear too. Thankfully treading where Ninja Sex Party has already made quite the rut is pretty rare. The record’s best dynamic happens to be on the least interesting song of Crasher-Vania; the awful European accent and lame sound effects creakily hold up the massive weight of expectations the rest of the album manages to surpass. In theory, Starbomb’s subject matter should be an incredibly niche humor, but the lyrics and phat rhymes act as a primer for a series of very popular games. The ridiculously stuffed, 30-minute release also works very well as a starting point for both Dan and Arin as adult comedians and well versed vocalists in contrast to the generally juvenile, although not entirely unfunny, songs from Ninja Sex Party. Despite all of the sounds being by-the numbers electro or “Nintendocore”, the dynamic in the instrumentation is airtight and the vocal interplay readily rivals artists who make millions making asses of themselves in less interesting ways than Starbomb.
Starbomb’s WebsiteBuy Starbomb (Digital, CD).Watch Luigi’s Ballad.

Starbomb


Internet fame begets internet side projects with electro power-comedy-rap trio Starbomb. Daniel “Sexbang” Avidan and "Ninja" Brian Wecht bring the freshest of synthesized beats straight from the less flatly electronic music from their own YouTube project Ninja Sex Party, where obviously plenty of the sex-oriented jokes come from (There are a lot). Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson, animator, voice actor, video game enthusiast, and greenhorn MC brings the tastiest of rhymes and a surprising amount of flow theory—ironically, the Rap Battle between main characters of Street Fighter showcases the best of his wordplay—to their debut together. Starbomb holds up incredibly well against famous contemporaries despite their incredibly two-dimensional canned instrumentation due to Arin and Dan’s outstanding dynamic whether they sing as contrasting entities on Luigi’s Ballad or the aforementioned Rap Battle, or together on songs like Regretroid despite having a third, female party to sing against. In the line of confrontations, Ninja Sex Party’s side of Starbomb seems to always be at wits with their incredibly well-trodden fodder (songs like No-Reason Boner? Party of Three, or FYI I Wanna F Your A?). If the band isn’t writing well read lyrics on sex for Arin to rap to in Luigi’s Ballad or Mega Marital Problems, they’re writing mediocre lyrics for Dan to sing beautifully, like on Kirby’s Adventures in Reamland. Mega Marital Problems has Dan’s proverbial dong slipping out of the underwear too. Thankfully treading where Ninja Sex Party has already made quite the rut is pretty rare. The record’s best dynamic happens to be on the least interesting song of Crasher-Vania; the awful European accent and lame sound effects creakily hold up the massive weight of expectations the rest of the album manages to surpass. In theory, Starbomb’s subject matter should be an incredibly niche humor, but the lyrics and phat rhymes act as a primer for a series of very popular games. The ridiculously stuffed, 30-minute release also works very well as a starting point for both Dan and Arin as adult comedians and well versed vocalists in contrast to the generally juvenile, although not entirely unfunny, songs from Ninja Sex Party. Despite all of the sounds being by-the numbers electro or “Nintendocore”, the dynamic in the instrumentation is airtight and the vocal interplay readily rivals artists who make millions making asses of themselves in less interesting ways than Starbomb.

Starbomb’s Website
Buy Starbomb (Digital, CD).
Watch Luigi’s Ballad.

February 17, 2014
Äänipää: Through a Pre-Memory
The end product from Stephen O’Malley and Mika Vainio should not be much like Äänipää (Finnish for Playback Head), especially considering the recent endeavours wrought between Vaino’s previous project Pan Sonic and guitar demon Keiji Haino. Äänipää is more of an adult Khanate due to Alan Dubin’s generally restrained vocal treatments throughout the album. Through a Pre-Memory is a superior to Gnaw’s debut album This Face as a successor to Khanate due to his involvement; it’s nigh impossible to compare any Alan Dubin project to Khanate because of his unique vocal aggression. In fact, the stark, lumbering guitar riffing and feedback mimics Khanate in a lot of ways,although much more melodic. The bass guitar tends to sit right up front with synthezised bass tones in contrast, adding a new unlistenable appeal to the effort. Dubin’s voice is generally laced into the starker moments of Äänipää’s music, while the bulk of the album marks an abscence of vocals and a much, for lack of a better word, prettier soundscape. The electronics are subdued quite a bit, creating absolutely glacial tones and atmospheres; this technique sets the stage for most of the electronics throughout every frequency from wails to groans for the majority of Through a Pre-Memory.
The most beautiful is the ethereal Mirror of Mirror Dreams, the third of four long tracks. A host of guests—the masterful Eyvind Kang conducts Moriah Neils on contrabass and Maria Scherer Wilson on cello—paint a haunting, disturbing and ultimately soothing series of tones bookended by dissonance. It is a play of microcosm for the album, as Dubin belts lyrics out written by Russian modernist (read: absurdist) poet Anna Akhmatova only on the first and last movements. The final track has the lyrics read loudly through layers of distortion and dubs that, while entirely chaotic, still manage to rigidly follow a beat and echo to the point of chills. As a whole, Äänipää’s Through a Pre-Memory scrapes against the soul more effectively than Stephen O’Malley’s or Mika Vainio’s music has before; it sticks to a less visceral style, but manages much more.
Mika Vaino’s WebsiteStephen O’Malley’s WebsiteBuy Through a Pre-Memory.

Äänipää: Through a Pre-Memory


The end product from Stephen O’Malley and Mika Vainio should not be much like Äänipää (Finnish for Playback Head), especially considering the recent endeavours wrought between Vaino’s previous project Pan Sonic and guitar demon Keiji Haino. Äänipää is more of an adult Khanate due to Alan Dubin’s generally restrained vocal treatments throughout the album. Through a Pre-Memory is a superior to Gnaw’s debut album This Face as a successor to Khanate due to his involvement; it’s nigh impossible to compare any Alan Dubin project to Khanate because of his unique vocal aggression. In fact, the stark, lumbering guitar riffing and feedback mimics Khanate in a lot of ways,although much more melodic. The bass guitar tends to sit right up front with synthezised bass tones in contrast, adding a new unlistenable appeal to the effort. Dubin’s voice is generally laced into the starker moments of Äänipää’s music, while the bulk of the album marks an abscence of vocals and a much, for lack of a better word, prettier soundscape. The electronics are subdued quite a bit, creating absolutely glacial tones and atmospheres; this technique sets the stage for most of the electronics throughout every frequency from wails to groans for the majority of Through a Pre-Memory.

The most beautiful is the ethereal Mirror of Mirror Dreams, the third of four long tracks. A host of guests—the masterful Eyvind Kang conducts Moriah Neils on contrabass and Maria Scherer Wilson on cello—paint a haunting, disturbing and ultimately soothing series of tones bookended by dissonance. It is a play of microcosm for the album, as Dubin belts lyrics out written by Russian modernist (read: absurdist) poet Anna Akhmatova only on the first and last movements. The final track has the lyrics read loudly through layers of distortion and dubs that, while entirely chaotic, still manage to rigidly follow a beat and echo to the point of chills. As a whole, Äänipää’s Through a Pre-Memory scrapes against the soul more effectively than Stephen O’Malley’s or Mika Vainio’s music has before; it sticks to a less visceral style, but manages much more.

Mika Vaino’s Website
Stephen O’Malley’s Website
Buy Through a Pre-Memory.

November 29, 2013
Lustmord: The Word as Power
Lustmord is a silent father of the subtleties of ambient music, whether he’s clanking paraphernalia around in abstract noise, or setting up ethereal echoes and gentle soundscapes to paint a thick, unsettling atmosphere. The Word as Power falls under the latter, and carries a very informative title. For the most part, the soundscapes stick to the background (a big of a change of pace for Lustmord’s regular music) and it flows almost too well, instrumentals being entirely undistinguishable. What stands out here is the liberal use of wordless vocals, more than Lustmord has ever managed. Many of the tracks appear to have words in them, however strung out and raspy they might be. There’s a myriad of guests here, but unfortunately the variety doesn’t highlight the background sounds very well outside of Grigori. Obviously he has taken a page from Sunn O)))’s book of drone, or perhaps Gentry Densley’s for Grigori, with powerful, guttural noises and didgeridoos soaking the soundscapes, it and the distant bass drum create the most poignant track here. Jarboe makes a valiant effort at repairing the banality on Andras Sodom, but even though Abaddon has Maynard James Keenan repaying the favors from Puscifer in full with his own vocal treatment, the majority of the album simply never picks up enough speed to stick out over the sprawling discography Lustmord has made for himself. It is definitely the most subtle, and almost calming.
Lustmord’s WebsiteHear a preview.Buy The Word as Power.

Lustmord: The Word as Power


Lustmord is a silent father of the subtleties of ambient music, whether he’s clanking paraphernalia around in abstract noise, or setting up ethereal echoes and gentle soundscapes to paint a thick, unsettling atmosphere. The Word as Power falls under the latter, and carries a very informative title. For the most part, the soundscapes stick to the background (a big of a change of pace for Lustmord’s regular music) and it flows almost too well, instrumentals being entirely undistinguishable. What stands out here is the liberal use of wordless vocals, more than Lustmord has ever managed. Many of the tracks appear to have words in them, however strung out and raspy they might be. There’s a myriad of guests here, but unfortunately the variety doesn’t highlight the background sounds very well outside of Grigori. Obviously he has taken a page from Sunn O)))’s book of drone, or perhaps Gentry Densley’s for Grigori, with powerful, guttural noises and didgeridoos soaking the soundscapes, it and the distant bass drum create the most poignant track here. Jarboe makes a valiant effort at repairing the banality on Andras Sodom, but even though Abaddon has Maynard James Keenan repaying the favors from Puscifer in full with his own vocal treatment, the majority of the album simply never picks up enough speed to stick out over the sprawling discography Lustmord has made for himself. It is definitely the most subtle, and almost calming.

Lustmord’s Website
Hear a preview.
Buy The Word as Power.

November 5, 2013
Widowspeak: The Swamps
The place of Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and Nathan’s Hot Dogs is not where you’d expect to find the inception of Widowspeak. Between the adorable pop sensibility of the lyrics and undeniably rootsy sound of the instruments, there aren’t nearly enough trees. What makes Widowspeak stand out from the exceedingly thick crown of brown-headed raspy-voiced female leads and cutesy sounds is the thick sepia of nature that drips from their guitars and the grandiose guitar playing of one Robert Earl Thomas; the latter of which is always finding lulls in the sound both live and in the studio to shoehorn a “sick lick” or two into.
After two albums of incredibly light-hearted, loosely written jams, Widowspeak have pulled their bootstraps right up for an EP of theatrical concoctions on The Swamps. The half-hour long EP has its own little intro of disjointed acoustic guitar and tribal drumming to appropriately set the mood, but is a misnomer towards the connection between tracks. In fact, such order feels out of place when the only thing that binds them is the acoustic guitar in the limelight. Most of the songs here don’t bother to rock out, and are pretty content creating a more sedentary, potent atmosphere. Calico is clearly the gem here, with a trio of guitars swinging back and forth, eventually burying the vocals in their lumbering swirls. Singing beau Molly Hamilton has never felt more safe with her haunting croon fitting perfectly well in the dense layers of sound, and even when things pick up on the toe-tappin’ Brass Bed, she stretches her legs and feels right at home. Things only get better as the dawn rises over the foggy horizon for the slide guitar and sleepy lyrics of True Believer. The title track wraps the record up nicely with a bark-carven bow of dense percussion and layered vocals to finish the conveyance The Swamps effortlessly plants: Widowspeak can aptly make a half hour feel like a full one in the best way.
Widowspeak’s Label PageWidowspeak’s BandcampBuy The Swamps (Physical, Digital).

Widowspeak: The Swampsimage


The place of Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and Nathan’s Hot Dogs is not where you’d expect to find the inception of Widowspeak. Between the adorable pop sensibility of the lyrics and undeniably rootsy sound of the instruments, there aren’t nearly enough trees. What makes Widowspeak stand out from the exceedingly thick crown of brown-headed raspy-voiced female leads and cutesy sounds is the thick sepia of nature that drips from their guitars and the grandiose guitar playing of one Robert Earl Thomas; the latter of which is always finding lulls in the sound both live and in the studio to shoehorn a “sick lick” or two into.

After two albums of incredibly light-hearted, loosely written jams, Widowspeak have pulled their bootstraps right up for an EP of theatrical concoctions on The Swamps. The half-hour long EP has its own little intro of disjointed acoustic guitar and tribal drumming to appropriately set the mood, but is a misnomer towards the connection between tracks. In fact, such order feels out of place when the only thing that binds them is the acoustic guitar in the limelight. Most of the songs here don’t bother to rock out, and are pretty content creating a more sedentary, potent atmosphere. Calico is clearly the gem here, with a trio of guitars swinging back and forth, eventually burying the vocals in their lumbering swirls. Singing beau Molly Hamilton has never felt more safe with her haunting croon fitting perfectly well in the dense layers of sound, and even when things pick up on the toe-tappin’ Brass Bed, she stretches her legs and feels right at home. Things only get better as the dawn rises over the foggy horizon for the slide guitar and sleepy lyrics of True Believer. The title track wraps the record up nicely with a bark-carven bow of dense percussion and layered vocals to finish the conveyance The Swamps effortlessly plants: Widowspeak can aptly make a half hour feel like a full one in the best way.

Widowspeak’s Label Page
Widowspeak’s Bandcamp
Buy The Swamps (Physical, Digital).