I did a review of one of my favourite independent albums! I want to make this a regular thing, so let me know if you have an album or piece of art available copyright free!
I usually take off the Christmas season because I do not want to bother everyone with depression and philosophical arguments for why life is both tragic and amazing, but I feel like writing something. In spirit of not doing what I normally do, I want to highlight probably the most technical, and brutal, album in my collection. No, it’s not death metal, and I am sure that someone would argue that I have heavier and more technical, but I still feel like this album needs more attention.
After the Burial have done a lot more than I have. I think they are kind of amazing, and I do not see enough love for this group. It is probably because they are in the “scene” part of music, somehow. i will never understand how that could be.
The first track is the most brilliant introduction for this band. Berzerker opens with a blistering dueling guitar riff that would make Van Halen’s jaw drop. From that point, it’s nothing but the most orchestrated chaos for the next 5:30.
I am proud to say that I figured out the drums in this song at the pique of my abilities, but that was after many hours of failing. I probably never figured them out perfectly, but even the version I had crafted was close enough to be nearly as impressive.
The song has an amazing ‘bop’ to it. Starting around the 2:50 mark, the swing being demonstrated will get even the most ardent haters of this band to tap a toe. That goes on for about 30 seconds, before the heaviest bits.
After a beautifully crafted flourish on guitar, a devastating breakdown that does not follow any conventional musical crafting. Then. a reprise of the first bit of the song before quite literal chaos reigns over the last minute.
Fuck, that’s only song one and I have already written that much. I will not be writing about the rest of the album, but that first track is a great example for the ear-bleedingly good time you are in for.
No, this album is not for everyone. It is a perfect example of what conventional metal can do. It is heavy. It is technical. It is brutal and loud. I never have to put my headphones too loud to enjoy the sounds. I mean, I DO crank the volume, but I don’t have to.
I don’t give enough attention to the bass, but this video gives an idea of the musicianship portrayed in this song. Please, watch and enjoy. (There are no vocals, so go this route if you do not wish someone screaming at you)
Before I started writing this, I had assumed that this band was a five-piece. The “dueling guitar” that I mentioned, is done by one guy. Fuck me, this band somehow got MORE amazing.
I was initially going to write about “Songs for the Deaf” (SftD) when I realized that “Era Vulgaris” gets scrutinized for not being SftD. I will not argue with the fact that SftD one of my favourite albums of all time, but I really feel like Era Vulgaris is still fantastic.
Let’s start with a dissection of why SftD is so amazing.
No, that’s not fair. To hold an album as the pinnacle of a band’s career based on the efforts by one member inclusion is shallow. Though, it is true that Mr. Grohl does some amazing work on this album. I mean, just listen to the opening track and you can see what you’re in for. Once you get passed the mock-radio intro you are hit by a wave of pure Metal-Awesome. Track two was a fantastic single when it was released, and was my introduction to this band.
Track three, First It Giveth, is by far my favourite on the album. The punishing and driving beat over the corus mixed with the polyrhythmic verse drumline make it one of the more interesting endeavours I have ever witnessed in music. Then, track four, probably the coolest excuse for an extended drum solo ever.
My analysis of the first three songs on this album are what lead me to believe that it should not be held as high as it is in the QotSA catalogue. I mean, every instrument does amazing things all through this album. It feels like the “Dave Grohl” album we needed, instead of the Foo Fighters. Due to this fact, I refuse to give it the “QotSA best album” lable.
Then, the forgotten (and hated*) sequel, Era Vulgaris.
*it might not be as hated as I read into the discussion, but it was not received as well.
I feel bad for this album. It had to follow up one of the most interesting releases in “metal” that we have heard since “Destroy, Erase, Improve“. It got so many things right, it just could never live up to SftD produced.
It had a much more polished sound, and played it safer by being both accessible and radio-friendly. It focuses more on Josh Homme’s guitar playing. The lyrics are more whimsicle, the bass much chunkier, and the drums are more conventional. Still bloody intricate, but less head-‘splody ridiculous.
The first single, “Sick, Sick, Sick“, focuses on more of a traditional song structure that QotSA have moved on from. More of journey as opposed to a song, the orchestration of layers and subtle changes leave the listener waiting to see what comes next. SftD was this strange combination of floaty-and-whimsical and brain-punch.
I know that I am making up words and phrases, but listening to these albums you quickly notice that my adjectives are apt.
The biggest plus of working at the music store I did was finding albums that were never anything, but that really should have been. Whether it was because of poor marketing, a small label folding, the band breaking up, or all of the above.
Vex Red is a band that I found purely by accident. I always looked into the bands that we no longer carried to find something that tickles my fancy, and this one day; I hit the motherload.
They remind me of a mix between Stabbing Westward and Flaw (another band that I have to highlight one day). They would have joined right in with the early ’90s pseudo-goth scene. In fact, saying that they would have worked on the Blade soundtrack would not be too far fetched a statement.
They combine electronica with metal beautifully. Pre-programed drums mixed with synthesizers and a love for the low end. This is complimented by the singer, whose voice sounds strained on purpose to convey the bleakest of emotions.
Lyrical content is a bit more mature, even if they rarely swear on this album (with exception with the track “Can’t Smile” where it feels mandatory for the narrative.). It is the kind of pointing fingers and blaming everyone else for your misfortune, but it never sounds pathetic or unnecessarily angsty. Instead, it comes off as a plea from someone who has been tortured for a majority of their formative years.
SPEAKING OF THE SONG CAN’T SMILE!
I did not know until I got to this point of the review that there was a music video produced for the song. It is NOT GREAT. Unfortunately, that song is one of the better examples of the album. So ignore the poor censorship and awkward vacant gaze. and just enjoy the everything else.
As I mentioned recently, I have been asked by .no funeral records. to look at a few of their releases. To start the collection of notes, I have chosen to focus on a split by Amitié and Karloff.
Full discretion: I am friends with two members of Karloff. I feel like pointing that out is important, though I promise you that it has not tainted my opinions at all.
Music is music. To say “you love it or you don’t” feels antiquated. I rather go with the idea of someone either understands and relates to what you are trying to say, or they don’t. In the case of these two bands (they each do a song on this EP), they define that idea. This sound is incredibly off-putting if you are not quite sure where to place your attention.
I know, I fucking know, that grindcore (and all its many facets) are not everyones bag. When it comes to the -core’s, even I become quite discerning. I tend to lean heavier on the mathcore side of things, because I’m an arrogant fuck. This does NOT mean that I cannot appreciate incredible skills when I hear them.
Amitié starts off the two track journey with a slow, low toned dream scape. That dreamscape, however, turns into a nightmare quickly. The track is only 1:18 long, and transforms into a high-end massacre of all that you expect. The drums use a much higher ratio of cymbal/snare, where as the intro was almost exclusively toms.
Karloff opens their track with a simple hold of anticipation before the hammer falls. They take a more jazz chord structure, and delve further into a feeling of anguish before just leaving the song where it began. At 1:03, this song packs in everything you could want from metal track minus the annoying 80’s guitar solo.
I would say Karloff reminds me mildly of Buried Inside (in regards to crushing oppressive tones mixed with blistering fast metre), where as Amité elicits feelings closer to Fuck the Facts. Amité has a more polished sound, but the Karloff doesn’t sound out of place: just the mids seem a bit wonky.
Overall, if you like heavy music, I very much recommend this split. It is everything one needs in less than 4 minutes.
Arbeitary number rank: 30912385 out of a possible 2.865
I don’t think that I mentioned it in the last two reviews, but I was given some stupid FaceBook task where I was just supposed to put an album cover up (no additional information) and tag someone in it. It was lazy, pointless, and I decided to give myself the task of writing a full review for whatever I felt like deserved to be part of the decathlon of recommendations. The reason? Combination of arrogance, and bands like this.
New Design is a group from Brampton which is near the GTA. If you know nothing about Canada, they are from a city close to the city that you assume is our capitol that isn’t. If you are from Canada, you know how hilarious that sentence is.
*pause for laughter*
ANYWAY. New Design is beautiful. They take all the best parts of the emo movement of the early 2000’s and do away with the annoying bits.
They are beautiful. The music, I mean. Well, the members of the group are beautiful, as well.
…now I’m just being awkward….
I need to stop being so sidetracked. New Design are emo without being whiny. They got hold of me while I was writing for Mind The Music TO a couple of years ago. I really do love the independent music scene: you get some of the most creative and beautiful things to come out of it.
I have waffled on long enough about various things, and I have stated that I love this band. Though this album is a great introduction, I highly recommend anything by this band.
All the music can be streamed from their Bandcamp.
Something I don’t normally express is my strange obsession with off-beat electronica. I put a vote up on FaceBook between Aphex Twin and Sparepusher, and only got one reply. I would be more upset by that, but Squarepusher seems to be a bit more obscure in the circles I run in. To bad, too: there is something to be said about a man who plays all the bass lines live. Maybe I will do Big Loada as my next music article.
Anyway! This album truly changed what I saw the landscape of music to be. It somehow contains both the most peaceful and serine, and well as the more wrong and distorted, collection of sounds you will find in music. The album starts with a track that displays more of the former. It’s pretty, relaxed (kind of), and normal. However, starting with the next track, things change. It gets darker. More willing to be strange.
Strange really is the best way of describing the tone of majority of the songs. It’s far from bad, but not normal. Songs like Milkman straddle the line of being acceptable and inappropriate, and even the most normal songs are just kind of off. It is very hard to describe. Maybe like that dream that you cannot call bad, but never want to have again. Nothing inherently wrong, but nothing you would ever describe to your parents.
What I find interesting are songs like To Cure a Weakling Child where they start pretty, cute almost, then have this bridge where things just go horribly wrong and distorted. The next track (Goon Grumpas) goes in a different direction again. It sounds like something you would expect to hear as a town in shown to be perfect in a movie or video game. It never breaks the feeling of bliss, but that comfort is dropped by the first note of the next track (Yellow Calix). I am not saying that it’s a complete departure that goes off the rails in ever possible direction, but it changes mood completely, and Aphex Twin plays with the percussion line heavily.
This is my favourite album by him. The only one that compares and Drukqs released 4 years later. I feel comfortable comparing him to The Dillinger Escape Plan, especially after they covered one of his songs years ago. I cannot recommend this album to someone who doesn’t already know of this movement in music, but I feel comfortable saying that anyone who looks for something more in their music would enjoy this heavily.
As always, I do apologize for the abundance of ads that have come up in the examples. I try, really hard, to give you ad free enjoyment. It rarely works out. HERE’S A VIDEO OF THE ALBUM!
I know I usually write about stuff that came out forever ago, but this album just got noticed. It may have just been released.
Anyway, this band is fantastic. I played with them several times, and they are bred from Krhaemer. Krhaemer being one of the first bands that I ever saw. What’s amazing about this band is how they make being ridiculous sound normal. I am getting ahead of myself.
This album has some of the cleanest vocals this band has produced. The vocals are like a less annoying Choke. In fact, this band is like a less annoying several things. Take the best things that the classic punk scene could produce, and distil it all together. That’s right: the best of all the best. Now make it better.
Dillinger Escape Plan meets Belvedere meets Choke meets Fall of Troy. That would be the easiest way I could describe this band.
OH! AND SINGLE KICK! somehow. Seriously, how? The drummer is literally inhuman. When listening to the EP knowing that it’s single kick, you can fathom it. If you had no idea, you assume he used double. To substitute the potential extra hits, his hands strike toms between beats. His hands are so bloody fast.
Have I mentioned the bass yet? One would be put to talk to find jazz with bass this complicated. For the best example, listen to Leaving Shippinsburg and thank me later. The entire thing is just scales and melody’s that shouldn’t be possible.
…and you know that ever part of the band is fantastic if I talk about the ridiculous guitar player last. Considering he is the lead vocal last I saw them, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around playing and singing the songs.
At the end of this short review where I don’t point you to a song but beg you to enjoy this 20 min EP, I am reminded why I usually stick to writing about classic albums. I can delve into political movements and the greater ecosystem that is the music industry. I can examine trends and maybe recommend a track that was ignored by charts and fandom’s. It doesn’t change the fact that if you are a punk fan OR a math-metal fan, you need to listen to this album. You need to explore this bands full back catalogue, but this album is a fantastic place to start.
Thank God I don’t work in a music store any longer. Not that I didn’t love it, but this task was stupid hard.
As you may have noticed, I posted a recommended media for the year and NOT a music list this time because I was lacking in new releases for the last year. I only had one, and though it was amazing, it doesn’t make a whole list.
I decided to do a decade long list. Recommendations that have come out in the last decade: break it into years, and that equals ten! That sounds like a good idea right? RIGHT?!
Wrong. There are several albums that I go back to over and over, and there are multiple years that, though they had a few good releases, don’t hold my attention.
With much blood (and tears) I managed to get my list down to 50ish. I picked the best release that a band had that decade, which is harder than you might think. Some of the bands had a good portion of their discography come out during this time! So, instead of doing an in-depth dive into what makes each album amazing, I’m going to try to sum it up in a sentence or two, and link to a good (if not the best) song from each album.
BEFORE I START THIS LIST! I am so sorry for any advertisements that play at the beginning of songs. I tried as hard as I could to find ad free versions, but I was unsuccessful most of the time.
HERE WE GO
Adam Evers — Moments
You have heard me done on and on about this EP over the last couple of months. It belongs on this list for many reasons. Read my full review here.
Balance & Composure — Separation
A grunge throw-back. I saw them open for Touchè Amourè a few years ago, and fell in love.
Bloc Party — Four
What pop-rock can be. The classiest vulgar that you can find.
Song: We Are Not Good People
Boards of Canada — Tomorrow’s Harvest
Ambient electronica. Incredibly peaceful and beautiful. Sounds like the tracking from a ’70s movie, and it’s amazing.
Song: Reach For the Dead
Broken Bells — Broken Bells
I love this album. There is something enchanting about it
Song: The High Road
Cage the Elephant — Thank You, Happy Birthday
It’s a shame that this album wasn’t bigger. I would argue that it is one thousand times better then their first, but the public has spoken.
Song: Always Something
CFCF — Radiance & Submission
Two ambient electronica albums in one list? I’m loosing my edge! In my defence, this one is French
Song: In Praise of Shadows
Chon — Grow
NO ONE SHOULD BE THIS GOOD AT INSTRUMENTS. PERIOD.
The Contortionist — Language
What the latest Tool should have been. Complicated, but not unattainable. Absolutely beautiful.
Counterparts — Prophets
I’m going to be that guy: I played with them around the release of this album. Nicest. Guys. Ever.
Song: Goodbye Megaton
Crosses — Crosses
Deftones without Deftones. Very different from Team Sleep, though the same idea.
Cursive — I Am Gemini
I have trouble putting how I love this album into words. Smart, but not arrogant. Self deprecating, but not pathetic.
Song: Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton (I really love from the 4 min mark on)
Dead Weather — Sea of Cowards
I was a moderate White Stripes fan, and I never listened to The Kills before this came out. This album, turns out, to be a great blend of the two. Cool drums, as well.
Song: Die by the Drop
Deerhoof — vs. Evil
Just cool. Oh, and fucking complicated. It is truly amazing what you can do with music, and this band proves it time after time.
Song: The Merry Barracks
Deftones — Diamond Eyes
Not their best, but far from their worst. Almost didn’t make the list, but it has my third favourite Deftones song on it.
Die Hexe — Die Hexe
This was a surprise that I didn’t realize that I needed in my life. Might be one of my favourite albums of all time.
I reviewed this one, as well.
The Dø — Shake, Shook, Shaken
Just a good ol’ pop album! So damned catchy, so damned cool!
Song: Despair, Hangover and Ecstasy
Fall of Troy — OK
I am going to try to describe this without swearing, so I will just say that it’s the best album they have released since Doppelganger. I’m not going to say their best, but very close.
Song: Inside Out
Hail the Sun — Wake
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE DRUMMER SINGS? Think Mars Volta meets Circa Survive… BUT ADD A SINGING DRUMMER!
Song: Human Target Practice
Heart & Harm — Damage
Think A->B life by mewithoutyou. Now, forget that.
Hot Hot Heat — Future Breeds
Such a good departure for this band. So many interesting takes on music but without reinventing the wheel.
Song: Times A Thousand
Invent, Animate — Everchanger
A more intense (better?) Misery Signals.
Song: Nocturne: Lost Faith
Kennedy — The Guilty Poor
The album opens with a monologue from 1984. It sets the mood for the entire album.
Song: Stillborn Believer (any album that opens with a monologue from the 1984 film automatically wins)
Livestalk & the Bodies
Okay, I put one of the albums I performed on this list. To be fair: it’s here because the rest of this album is amazing which does not have me.
Just go listen to the whole thing.
Melody’s Echo Chamber — Melody’s Echo Chamber
Psychedelic and ’60s sounding. I don’t know why I went through this phase where everything had to sound old, but I’m happy I did.
Song: Quand Vas Tu Rentrer?…
Minus the Bear — Infinity Overhead
Not my favourite MtB album, but Listing IS one of my favourite songs of all time.
New Design — Far From Home
I was contacted to review this album around its release. I was not prepared for how good this group is. Also, they remind me of what emo was when I was in high school,
Song: I’ve Never Seen the Ocean
OK GO — Of the Blue Colour Of the Sky
I was on the fence if I was going to include this album, then I realized that there is nothing quite like it. Don’t get me wrong: I love this album, it just doesn’t quite measure up to the one prior.
Periphery — Periphery
Never has a band started so strong to end up so pathetic. At least we will always have this banger of an album!
Song: The Walk
Rah Rah — Breaking Hearts
Probably one of the best bands that I have ever seen on stage. This album is just so damned cute!
Ratatat — Magnifique
I hate everyone for not telling me about this album when it was released.
Song: Cream on Chrome
Regina Spektor — What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
There seemed to be this time in music where there was an influx of “girls-sining-and-playing-piano.” We are past this time, and this was actually a pleasant surprise. It doesn’t help that she comes off as incredibly condescending.
Song: All the Rowboats
Respire — Gravity & Grace
Metal and trumpets? Yes: metal and trumpets.
Samsaris — Samsaris
Sick of me banging on and on about this album yet? TOO BAD! I loved it when I picked it up, and I still love it to this day! I want to compare it to Bjork? But that might just be because of the Iceland comparison.
Song: Goda Tungl
Sigur Rós — Kveikur
SPEAKING OF ICELAND! Haunting. Incredibly beautiful. Heavy lyrically without me even looking into translations. Even if I found out that he was talking about how much he loved petting dogs, it would not change the fact that the first time I heard the first track, I almost cried from the intensity.
A Silver Mt. Zion — Kollaps Tradixionals
I BUILT MYSELF A METAL BIRL I FED MY METAL BIRD THE WINGS OF OTHER METAL BIRDS…
If those words intrigue you in the slightest, I found your new favourite album.
Song: I Built Myself A Metal Bird
Sleigh Bells — Treats
What happens when you cross metal and pop? Something beautiful yet horribly disfigured, and I love it.
Song: Infinity Guitars
Slender Loris — World Tour
I am proud of myself for not loading this list with friends releases, but this is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard of ever.
Song: (not as hardcore as) Dismantle
Squarepusher — Ufabulum
I hate that I love this album so much. It’s electronica. No other caveats there.
Song: The Metallurgist
Stayce — Huck Dunter
When I was writing for Mind the Music, I found so many great albums! This is another one I came across in my short-lived travels on that site. Grunge? Not really. I don’t really have a category for them.
Structures — All the Above
Still have a hard time trying to figure out some of the drum patterns. I gave up trying to learn it a while ago, but it would bring me much closure if I could AT LEAST FIGURE OUT WHAT HE IS DOING!
Song: Still Waters
Sufjan Stevens — Age of ADZ
Neat. Just, neat.
Song: I Want to be Well (personal anthem)
Title Fight — Shed
One of my favourite punk albums of all time.
Tokyo Police Club — Champ
I do not have an excuse why I love this band so much.
Tom Vek — Leisure Seizure
This guy cannot sing, but his attempts are what make this album so amazing.
Song: Aroused (WARNING: If you smoke or DID smoke, this video will drive you nuts)
Touchè Amourè — Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
Some of the best lyrics that you will find ever. It really didn’t help that they are really nice guys who just love music.
Song: Home Away From Here
Vampire Weekend — Contra
Do you have an album that you love and you don’t know why and when people ask why you have so many plays on it, you hesitate to tell them it’s because you love the album dearly? Yeah, that’s my relationship with this album/Vampire Weekend in general.
Song: Giving Up the Gun
xx — Coexist
Minimalist, haunting, beautiful. There permeates a feeling that something is something horribly wrong, and it makes the album feel like a movie*.
*might be why the songs are featured in a few films and TV shows from that year
65DAYSOFSTATIC — We Were Exploding Anyway
This is the band that I wish I created when I was in high school. Stupid talented and imaginative. I love this band.
Song: Dance Dance Dance
Again; sorry for any ads that may have bombarded you. I tried to pick my favourite songs, the Melody’s Echo Chamber probably being my favourite of the last decade. Though I do recommend listening to all of these, I understand that it is a lot. There is enough for one a week, though!