Articles

Twilight Sad Revels in Melancholy

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Photo Credit: Dominick Mastrangelo

The Scottish band, Twilight Sad, has a penchant for making melancholy rock HARD; yet, for Òran Mór Session the trio put aside their layers of hard hitting instruments to breathe a new, calmer life into their older songs.

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: Fat Cat Records
Release Date: October 16, 2015

The Upshot: Haunting lyrics that are pronounced and poignant for songs even more somber, the live album features stripped down versions of previously recorded material originally released as a limited edition.

Originally recorded and self-released in limited number in 2014 while on tour for fourth release, Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave, this live album features stripped down versions of previously recorded tracks. Known for their wall of sound filled with overdriven guitar and saturated synths, Òran Mór Session is a sonic departure for The Twilight Sad. With just guitarist Andy MacFarlane on either an acoustic or a clean electric guitar singer James Graham’s distinctive vocals are in the foreground. No longer sandwiched between the usual melancholic and dark wall of sound from past albums, the haunting lyrics are even more pronounced and poignant and the songs even more somber.

Performed on guitar, mostly via picking, variety is lacking on Òran Mór. Graham’s strong vocals makes tracks like “It Never Was The Same,” “I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want” stand out for it’s great melody. “Leave The House” and “The Airport” introduce the lovely addition of a piano while last track “I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face,” an Arthur Russell cover, features just an organ. As so few acoustic instruments joined each song, placing them all together lends a flattened feel to the LP. That is not to say the songs are not worthy of several listens, Òran Mór Session displays Twilight Sad’s great lyricism and Graham’s impassioned voice.

DOWNLOAD: “It Never Was The Same,” “The Airport,” “Drown So I Can Watch”

Watch one of the Òran Mór Session videos here, “Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave” performed live.

Mr. Lane 8 Rising

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Be sure to follow Lane 8 and see what this talented producer/musiican will do next as this promising debut is just the start!

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Anjunadeep
Release Date: July 15, 2015

The Upshot: House and downtempo electronica with memorable hooks on a promising debut.

Daniel Goldstein, aka Lane 8, is a producer garnering attention for his electronica that blends house and chill dance music. For his debut album,Rise, Lane 8 has created laid back, airy, danceable sounds that prove catchy and entrancing. Some of the tracks blend together as the ethereal production does not differ greatly from each other and Lane 8 doesn’t stray far from the ‘four to the floor’ pattern that is typical from the genre. Yet this is where all of the fantastic guest vocalists on Rise add a layer of variety on the album.

From British electronic duo Solomon Grey to upcoming artists such as Patrick Baker and Ara Scott their light vocal stylings melds perfectly to the gentle sounds Lane 8 creates. “Undercover” features Matthew Dear whose deep, slow-paced voice provides a nice juxtaposition to the tracks’ weightless beats. One of the best tracks on the album, “Loving You,” includes British Lulu James’s powerful, soulful voice; the song slowly builds over organ like synths before taking off with heavy drum and bass and James’ echoey vocals soaring above it all. Instrumental “Cosi” is a fun track whose reverbed synths float over quieted drums and ambient noises. Continuing the heavenly vibe setup by “Cosi,” both “Sunlight” and “The Great Divide” feature female vocalists whose genteel voices accentuate the soft sounds.

Rise is a promising debut full of strong songs that are enjoyable and memorable; having all of the songs housed together on one album might prove monotonous for some or a perfect quiet escape for others.

DOWNLOAD: “Loving You,” “Sunlight,” “Undercover,” “Diamonds”

Check out my favorite track on the album “Loving You.”

Caribou Shares His Love

UPDATE! Caribou finally has an official video for my favorite track off Our Love, “Cant’ Do Without You.” The best song from the album, if I do say so myself, I hope you enjoy this track!

And be sure to see him live if you can:

JULY 2015
16/7/15 Colours of Ostrava Festival Ostrava, Czech Republic
17/7/15 Latitude Festival Suffolk, UK
18/7/15 Longitude Festival Dublin, Ireland
19/7/15 Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago, IL

AUGUST 2015
01/8/15 Osheaga Festival Montreal, Quebec
02/8/15 HARD Summer Music Festival Pomona, California
06/8/15 Summerstage New York, NY
07/8/15 Supercrawl @ Pier 4 Park Hamilton, Ontario
08/8/15 Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Ontario
09/8/15 Outside Lands Festival San Francisco, California
12/8/15 Øya Festival Oslo, Norway
14/8/15 Way Out West Festival Goteborg, Sweden
15/8/15 Ruhrtriennale Bochum, Germany
21/8/15 Lowlands Festival Biddinghuizen, Netherlands
22/8/15 Dockville Festival Hamburg, Germany

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If you enjoy dance music then Caribou is a must on your playlist! In fact, if you are a fan of dance and electronica and do not know Caribou…then I publicly shame you! Person I do not know…via the internet signals.

The seasoned musician is onto his seventh album since his 2001 debut and he shows no signs of slowing down and multiplying his EDM talents! Our Love is a solid album balancing instrumentals and vocal tracks, read more about it below!

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Merge
Release Date: October 07, 2014

Electronic, dance music producer Dan Snaith has returned with his seventh album Our Love under the moniker for which he is most recognized, Caribou. His last release, 2012’s Jiaolong as Daphni, was a fast-paced, club inspired, mostly instrumental affair. In the vein of what fans expect from Caribou, Snaith has created a more laid back atmosphere with Our Love that still gets you dancing. And as one might expect from the title, Love lyrically explores the aged old conundrum of love and fragile relationships.

The 10 track album includes a few instrumentals, “Dive,”“Julia Brightly”and “Mars,”that prove not as strong as the lyrical numbers. “Second Chance”is a slow paced, pulsating R&B tinged track with guest vocals by fellow electioneer producer, songwriter Jessy Lanza. A sonic change of pace from the rest of the album, “Second Chance” is a song that stands out as it stylistically diverges from the rest of the album but is still not the highlight of Love. The best moments are those where Snaith lends his soft, nearly inaudible falsetto that gently glides with the music.

“Silver,”“All I Ever Need,”“Back Home”and “Your Love Will Set You Free”are all solid numbers. Single “Can’t Do Without You”is easily the best song onLove. Reminiscent of 2010’s “Sun”from Swim which lyrics comprised of the singular word sun, “Can’t Do Without You”is a fun, upbeat track that only includes four lines and the repeated chorus of “Can’t do without you.”It’s an equation that sounds like it should not work, yet Snaith does it again as he builds from a calm, reverbed intro before exploding with drums, keyboards and effects. The same can be said for title track “Our Love,”yet the already danceable song changes halfway and what began as a calm steady track transforms into a trance-like, upbeat dance number.

The well crafted moments within Our Love outshines the weaker numbers and makes the album a fun and danceable listen.

DOWNLOAD: “Can’t Do Without You,” “Our Love

Hot Chip Just Makes Sense

Hot Chip! Oh how this British electronic group makes me so happy! Already onto their sixth album, Hot Chip continues to dazzle us with their unique style of dance music; though some of the quirky they are know for is not as apparent and they bask in 80s stylized beats, it’s still damn good dance music! And here’s their official video for my absolute favorite song from Why Make Sense?, “Need You Now!

For Blurt Magazine:

Album: Why Make Sense?
Label: Domino
Release Date: May 19, 2015

The UK quintet returns with their sixth album, and with each release Hot Chip seems to slightly warp their sound and tap into different influences while maintaining their quirky core. Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor continue to share vocal duties with Taylor’s gentle falsetto guiding most of the songs, effortlessly adding a soulful layer to each track .

Why Make Sense is a cool and collected album that will easily induce dancing—such as with “Easy To Get;” an upbeat song that starts quietly with plucky bass, guitar and high synths before transitioning to a house mix for the last 40 seconds. It ends too soon. “Need You Now,” the second single from the album, is a happily sad song that includes a sample from ‘80s R&B group Sinnamon; the powerful voice of Barbara Fowler echoes “I need you now” as Taylor quietly begins, “tired of being myself.”

The weak moments on Why Make Sense are few: “Love Is The Future” is an atypical pop song, and “Cry For You” is a high octane song in which the slower bridge doesn’t quite flow with the chorus. Nevertheless, Why Make Sense revels in ‘80s dance, R&B, hip hop and pop throughout straddles between sheer musical delight and melancholy as the upbeat music balances earnest lyrics.

DOWNLOAD: “Huarache Lights,” “Dark Night,” “Need You Now”

Modest Mouse is Back!

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Modest Mouse is back! Over 20 years have passed since their inception and the creative, lo-fi, explosive rock band toured in support of their newly released Strangers to Ourselves. Though the original line up that was Modest Mouse—singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy and drummer Jeremiah Green—has been altered, added to, individuals briefly leave and return, the consistent member has always been Brock. Indeed, as the bombastic music and Green’s complexly delicate drumming are important elements to Modest Mouse’s music, Brock’s unique, delicate, gruff, lispy vocals have come to encapsulate Modest Mouse.

Since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, it’s been an eight year wait for new material and the fans gathered this night at Babeville’s Ashbury Hall were ready for the band’s return. With an extensive discography to cover, Modest Mouse played mostly older fan favorites and the audience sang along to every song, old and new. Modest Mouse also returned with what has now become their live setup mainstay to create the level of noise expected from the seasoned musicians: two drummers (Green and Davey Brozowski), two guitarists (Brock and Jim Fairchild), two keyboardists (Lisa Molinaro and Tom Peloso) and a bassist (Russell Higbee). Unfortunately, Babeville’s sound system could not quite handle the musically stacked band but the sold out audience did not seem to mind as Modest Mouse drowned Ashbury with their sounds for two hours.

The converted church is a picturesque concert venue but too small for Modest Mouse’s fans as the hall was packed to the door with only standing room in the aisles remaining. Quite some time passed before the lights finally dimmed and Modest Mouse slowly emerged and approached their instruments. The crowd cheered at the seven members, yet one person was still missing. Once Brock walked onto the stage the audience exploded, to which Brock raised his cup to the fans. The band started the show with a loud bang, starting with new track “The Tortoise and the Tourist.” The loud number was a great opener as Brock shrieks the melodic chorus “so let’s walk on.” To my surprise, the next song was a personal favorite from popular album Good News for People Who Like Bad News, “Bury Me With It.” Once the first few familiar guitar chords were struck people cheered loudly and again sang along with Brock.

Green and Brozowski’s synchronized drumming was a show in itself as the two balanced drums and percussion and made it all look effortless. Brock took a break between songs to speak with the audience but his words could not be heard too well. After a few more songs, Brock had his mic replaced but it did not improve the quality; nevertheless, the band continued to play and the ecstatic fans continued to dance, sing and cheer them on. At one point, a fan grew so happy that he hopped and skipped up and down the aisle, singing along (his actions could easily be deemed “annoying” in such a small, hot space but his excitement was infectious as some couldn’t help but smile).

And the good spirits continued throughout the night as more than once the crowd filled the hall with their voices, either singing in unison with Brock or creating an unexpected call-and-answer moment with “The World at Large.” At one point Brock accidentally detuned his guitar for “Parting of the Sensory,” and of course it was his guitar that introduced the track. He stopped the band and addressed the crowd as he retuned, “see, what I did there was I was in tune, and I messed it up.” He started the song again and the rest of the night went without a hitch. And after a long night the band treated the Buffalo audience to a five song encore which was a bombastic close with fast, hard hitting and fun songs as “Dashboard” and “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box.”

A live show that excels just listening to the albums, Modest Mouse still knows how to incite sonic chaos.

***

Setlist:
The Tortoise and the Tourist
Bury Me With It
Dark Center of the Universe
Lampshades On Fire
3rd Planet
This Devil’s Workday
King Rat
Pups to Dust
Doin’ the Cockroach
Wicked Campaign
Parting of the Sensory
Custom Concern
Float On
Of Course We Know
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
The World at Large

Encore:
Dramamine
Broke
Dashboard
The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box
The Good Times Are Killing Me

Sadness Remains in their Twilight

The Twilight Sad show no signs of bringing the sunshine to their music and we wouldn’t want it any other way! The Scottish band, known for the broodingly fetching dark sounds,  continue down the same path for their fourth album and it’s a good one!

Photo by Nic Shonfeld

For Blurt Magazine:

Album: Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave
Label: Fat Cat
Release Date: October 28, 2014
The Scottish trio is back with their brand of melancholic and dark rock on Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave. For their fourth album lead singer James Graham, guitarist Andy MacFarlane and drummer Mark Devine have returned to their more post-punk sound in comparison to 2012’s No One Can Ever Know, which entered an electronic territory. However, with the loss of two band members, the wall of sound they created is no longer present; Nobody Wants To Leave may not be as formidable, but it’s still menacing.

As a whole the album is quite somber and possesses a mellow thread throughout, with few tracks leaping out of the pack. Instead it’s the subtlety and reserved, dark shifts in tone, or Graham’s unique, nearly inaudible vocals, that tugs at listeners’ ears. Opener “There’s A Girl In The Corner” begins in true Twilight fashion with a simple, slow paced echoed guitar, dark keys and a heavy bass drum. The track’s chorus peaks with a fuzzed out guitar and a loopy synth as Graham repeats “she’s not coming back” for a haunting close. “It Never Was The Same,” “Sometimes I Wished I Could” and the title track are notable songs.

“In Nowheres” and “Nobody” have the heavily distorted guitar of past Twilight efforts. The latter’s simple, repetitive guitar coasts beneath Graham’s vocals before, almost 3 minutes in, the song picks up with an accordion, quiet horn and lead guitar. The understated and well executed change comes just shortly before the track ends. Where the rest of the album resides in Twilight’s stylistic mellow drones, the halfway point introduces “Drown So I Can Watch,” which quite ironically—given the title—is the most fast paced and upbeat track on the album. And in “Sometimes” the rhythmic bass drum is joined by a plucky piano and guitar, Graham’s haunting wails carrying the song to for a calm closing track to the album.

Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave is a welcome return as the band continues to evolve. Though Nobody might not be the album for everyone, given its pervasive gloom, but ultimately Twilight Sad just may have perfected the soundtrack for rainy days.

DOWNLOAD: “There’s A Girl In The Corner,” “Drown So I Can Watch”

Cold War Kids’ Home

Cold War Kids have slowly evolved from the lo-fi, soulful, blues rock over the years with each release; leaning towards a Kids’ filtered pop. With Hold My Home the band returns to the bluesy rock  for which they are known!

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: Downtown
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Cold War Kids
downtownrecords.com

Cold War Kids have returned with the brand of bluesy soul punk from which they diverged with their 2011 LP, Mine is Yours and rediscovered with Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. For their fifth album, Hold My Home, the Kids have created some tracks that are reminiscent to their older sounds that garnered their fanbase. Lyrically the Kids continue to explore insecurities, relationships, and peoples’ conflicting personalities and as with every LP from Cold War Kids, the songs that stand out are those that balance the music with Nathan Willett’s strong vocals.

The moments on Home that work the best are when less layers of sound are used, allowing Willet’s voice to flow with the music rather than create a loud noise to outdo him. Unfortunately the latter is a pattern on Hold My Home with tracks like “Drive Desperate” or “Flower Drum Song;” the chorus doesn’t quite match the catchy, strong beginning or make a cohesive transition. The title track begins with a heavy, fast and punchy bass that gives way to a screeching organ and guitar. Loud can be good, however here it can prove jarring.

Yet the moments on Hold My Home that shine are songs “Go Quietly,” “Nights & Weekends” and the catchy “Hot Coals.” “Go Quietly” begins with a dirty guitar riff and Willets’ voice before opening up to a punchy bass, rolling drums and a falsetto chorus that makes the song. “Nights & Weekends” and the minimalist track “Harold Bloom,” which only includes a calm organ and cymbals, possess a welcoming, laid-back blues vibe. And the energetic “Hot Coals” includes a mid-pitched quickened guitar riff and rumbling bass that will sound familiar to Kids’ fans as Willet sings, “I suspect the reason I am loved is because of how tight I’m holding on.”

Half of Hold My Home includes tracks that may grow on you with time while the other tracks jump out and snare you with their instant appeal.

DOWNLOAD: “Go Quietly,” “Hot Coals”