Saturday, May 11, 2013

Galactic - Ya-Ka-May (2009)

Eric Salt recommended this a few years back; I wrote a review for it and five other albums (including Abraham Inc. and Frank Zappa), which was lost due to a combination of an accidental deletion and general blogspot idiocy.  (Probably more operator error, to be honest.)  I was depressed enough to avoid re-reviewing this until now.  (Probably more lazy, to be honest.)

In any case, this starts off as a Cuban party, then turns into r and b/funk/pop/conga reality.  The sounds are very smartly placed; the musical tone is generally happy and uplifting, but contains both remorse and at times even anger.  They're agnostic musically, which means they will add touches of any musical style to move the narrative along.  And it's clearly a melting pot of musicians and vocalists that drive the whole thing forward, so each song sounds a little different.

Galactic - Heart of Steel

It's a great collaborative and collective effort, without mis-steps along the way.  Music is strong like bull.

CD Placement Rating: Portable CD Case.

- Snilch

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Making Friendz - Social Life (2011)

Summary:  this is very promising electronic pop from an up and coming artist.  

Here is some free advice that the band probably doesn't need, nor do they probably care.  But as you all know, that won't stop me.  

So... three things:  

  • Some of the lyrics are just way too over the top intercourse-y.  Be a little more suggestive.  For instance, "Just take off your clothes/Don't make me cry/I wanna be inside you" is about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
  • You write nice guitar/keyboard riffs, which is good.  You repeat them pretty much as-is in other songs, which is not good (unless, of course, you are the late, great Wesley Willis, and writing songs like "Casper the Homosexual Ghost" or "I Whupped Batman's Ass," in which case it's actually expected).
  • Just keep at it and you'll figure it out.  There's really good stuff here.  Just cut out all of the bad parts, and replace them with good ones.  See?  Simple.  
Now I put in this official video, but BEWARE:  you'll likely find it gross and NSFW.  (Turns out you are a prude.)  It is a great song, though, so if it bugs you, just hide the viewer and listen instead.
Making Friendz - Situation

At their best, they sound like a slightly less clever Bikini Kill or Le Tigre; at their worst, they sound like a bunch of undersexed (or oversexed) teenagers channelling Ministry's first album.  But this band has a ton of potential and are worth watching.  If they put it all together, they will be great.

CD Placement Rating:  CD Rack.

iTunes Recommendations:  "Situation," "Reject Me," "Symphony."

- Snilch

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Masters of the Hemisphere - Maybe These Are the Breaks (2011)

I get a ton of music from Terrorbird, and usually don't have the time to listen to all of it.  But if I have to wade through hours of crap to find a gem like this album, it's totally worth it.

Sounding like a mix of The Shins with a touch of Sonic Youth, Derwin Deez, and The Cure, this is pop music at its sugary sweet best.  While at first listen it sounds like just simple grooves and sounds, there's more to it here:  the music does not pander to the listener, and instead dictates the action.  

It's impossibly happy for having an edge and a real feel to the music.  Think piano, guitar, and harmonies play over a solid if not spectacular rhythm section; it's got enough universality to be easily translatable to almost anyone, yet enough of a musical vocabulary that you won't be ashamed of it as a indie snob (like me).  The only thing I will say bad about this is that it slightly drags about halfway through.  But that is a minor point; it's a great album.

Masters of the Hemisphere - Watch It Go Away

Considering this is their first release in eight years, I may have to check out some of their first four albums.  This is the type of band that I don't think I would hate if I heard on the radio every day, which is where they belong.  And improving the radio landscape while doing so.  

CD Placement Rating:  Car CD Changer

- Snilch

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Wrens - Silver (1997)

Back before their Chinese Democracy-like delay in releasing the follow-up to 2001's masterpiece The Meadowlands (which has still not happened), The Wrens actually prolifically released three albums between 1997 and 2001.  This is their debut; it's cool to hear the embryonic beginnings here, but it's really not up to par with their later work.  

Denis turned me on to these guys, but I know he agrees:  avoid this one, but FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND PICK UP THE MEADOWLANDS.  WHY HAVE YOU WAITED 12 YEARS TO BUY THIS ALBUM?  WHY???

Just for that I'm not even giving a clip from Silver.  Here's something from The Meadowlands.  WHY DO YOU MAKE ME DO THIS?

The Wrens - Hopeless (from the album The Meadowlands, which you do not even own, you jackass)

Oh, and see them live if you can, they are great.

CD Placement Rating:  Sell back 1.

- Snilch

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Watercress - Pirates on the Vitamin Seas (2000?)

After years of rumor and dead-ends, I finally found this long-lost, unreleased album by one of Ireland's finest bands. Leah managed them toured them in North America a few times, and tuned me (and everyone in our office) on to what I still feel was the consistently best live band I ever saw. Fun, energetic, quirky, and inventive, they came and went way too fast, with only a cassette-only (!) album, a full-length CD (Bummer, their only really proper release), and several EPs to show for it.

And this, their follow-up to Bummer, which was recorded but never released.  And it's obvious why.  This is much more conventional and subdued than their previous recordings and live performances; it still has a high musical IQ, but ultimately it's just not that interesting.  It's a snapshot of a band that was just moving in a different direction, a competent but sad period at the end of the sentence.  You expect a scream; what you get is a whimper.

But they had their moment.  I hope you saw them when they were around.

CD Placement Rating:  CD Rack?  Say it ain't so, but really it's more like Sell-back 1.  Ugh.

- Snilch

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (1969)

One of the last long conversations I had with Brian at a former, disastrous place of employment ended with him saying, "Wait a minute. You haven't heard Zappa's Hat Rats?  I can't talk to you anymore," and then hanging up. Well, he'll have to find a new excuse now.

Musically, it's well-choreographed insanity.  It really should not all work together -- it's a "kitchen sink" approach instrumentally -- but it does, gently moving discordant musical ideas and conflicting sounds into a harmonious union.  

Not convinced?  Why not watch a video of a radio ad?

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats Radio Ad

Smart and sharp, it's a rock symphony.  It's arranged as such, juxtoposing different styles of virtuoso playing into a smooth finish. The lengthy songs (three are 9+ minutes long) don't seem self-indulgent, but rather an exploration of moods and shapes.

Frank Zappa - Son of Mr. Green Genes

To sum up:  if jam bands were all like this, we'd all love Phish. Fans of Mars Volta (and I'm looking at you, Dan) will see where that band came from on this one.

CD Placement Rating: Car CD Changer.

- Snilch