Articles

Museum of Love: Instaclassic

That’s right! I am declaring Museum of Love’s debut  something worth listening and the duo someone worth watching. Though this is their self title debut, Pay Mahoney and Dennis McNany are veteran musicians who know how to craft unique sounds.

I am just going to quote myself here to spell out what I mean, “Museum of Love is a nonformulaic, hard to pin down, quirky and danceable album.” The gents of Museum of Love also create a great visual juxtaposition; in the wrong hands these sounds would be too cool for us to touch yet Museum of Love invites us in with their unique stylings.  What do I mean by this precisely, check out this promo video…

don’t you want to join the debauchery followed by a chill coffee session with these two?!

Here’s a video for one of my favorite tracks on their debut, “Down South.”

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: DFA
Release Date: October 14, 2014
dfarecords.com

After LCD Soundsystem (aka James Murphy) bowed out, many of the musicians who collaborated with Murphy went on to create their own projects: enter former LCD drummer Pay Mahoney. With his friend Dennis McNany the two formed Museum of Love, and for their self titled debut they’ve forged a unique electronic soundscape.

Mahoney’s vocal stylings alter slightly with the feel of each track as his soft, wispy voice balances between singing and spoken word. His lyrical approach fits the underlying melancholy that quietly pervades the album; calmer tracks such as “FATHERS” or “Monotronic” illustrate their knack for creating still, somber tracks that possess a quirky lead synth that lightens the feel. Within the latter track, rolling effects and a simple bass drum lead listeners to the words “I wasn’t made for this much happiness.” As the laid back beat gives way to organ-like keyboards we wait for the song to peak and take off; instead it, remains at its steady pace…and it works.

Static drums and shakers pick up the mellow “Down South” for a sophisticated track as Mahoney croons, “I want to feel in love.” “In Infancy” and “The Who’s Who of Who Cares” are also stand out songs yet the best number on the album holds the most head scratcher of a title, “Learned Helplessness In Rats (Disco Drummer).” Opening with the sound of waves, a steel drum and synth voices, the sounds fade to a deep bass and upbeat drums; it’s utterly entrancing. The album closes with tracks that deviate from the rest of the album; while an edgier rock influenced sound takes over “The Large Glass”—the almost lyrics track features distorted guitars and punk drum beat—closing song “And All The Winners (Fuck You Buddy)” is a ‘70s/soul-inspired number in which Mahoney’s almost falsetto delicately sings “how many ships have sailed and sank for it…fuck you buddy.”

A fine debut that is quite cohesive and flows well from track to track, with the exception of anomaly “Large Glass,” Museum of Love is a nonformulaic, hard to pin down, quirky and danceable album.

DOWNLOAD: “Down South,” “The Who’s Who of Who Cares,” “Learned Helplessness in Rats”

Interpol Paints…

OK! I couldn’t go through with an El Pintor-Spanish for The Painter-metaphor as an opener. Just trust me when I say: Interpol is back and they sound amazing! The gents are in form with their latest, El Pintor, and–if I don’t say so myself–have out-shined their last release, 2010’s Interpol. Where I walked away pocketing a few favorite songs from Interpol (2010) I find myself enjoying this whole album, rarely skipping ahead to the next track, a rare feat in this mp3 age.

Press Photo: Matador Records

For Blurt Magazine:

Album: El Pintor
Label: Matador Records
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Four years have passed since 2010’s Interpol and the departure of bassist Carlos Dengler; for their fifth LP Interpol simultaneously maintain their charged, melancholic rock and tread new grounds. El Pintor is the first album without Dengler’s contribution and the first time lead singer Paul Banks plays both guitar and bass; despite the loss of a band member the post-punk sounds remain as beefy, loud and moody as ever.

El Pintor is not Antics or Turn on the Bright Lights, there are not as many immediate hooks and riffs that were present on these earlier releases; instead, the solid music on El Pintor unveils a nuanced mellowing that has taken over the last two releases from Interpol. Thankfully Banks, Daniel Kessler and Samuel Fogarino have perked up since their 2010 album and have created a louder, more upbeat soundscape for listeners…as upbeat as our melancholic trio will allow, this is Interpol after all.

Kessler continues to create a separate landscape with his piercing lead guitar that adds a detailed accent to each track, “Same Town, New Story,”“My Desire,”“Tidal Wave”and “Twice As Hard”are prime examples. Fogarino’s skilled drumming is best heard on “Anywhere”as he changes the fast pace of the song ever so slightly and leads us to a smoother chorus that booms with his drum rolls. The bass heavy “Everything Is Wrong”is one of the catchiest tracks on the album and the words “Everything is wrong, truly wrong”never sounded so appealing. The one downfall to the piercingly loud executed music, Banks’vocals are drowned out but the themes of love, longing, sadness and a sense of foreboding are not lost.

DOWNLOAD: “Everything is Wrong,” “Anywhere,” “My Desire”

Liars’ Amazing Mess

You cannot help but to get excited when listening to Liars’s newest album, Mess! A great, ever-evolving band, Liars has always maintained their dirty-punk sounds but have added more electronica over the years and have done a ridiculously amazing job on this album. Even when they slow things down with less layered songs, the result-entrancing! Be sure to follow what Liars is up to, you will not be disappointed!

Liars
Liars press image for Mess by Zen Sekizawa

For Blurt Mag:

Label: Mute, http://www.mute.com

The creative electronic, noise trio makes a triumphant return with their seventh full length, Mess. Liars continues to wade in the melancholic, electro-dance-punk waters as they amp up the noise even more. Lead singer, Angus Andrew vocals are nearly inaudible for the entire album as they are processed through sound effects but this factor adds to the multiple layers of each song and fits the dirty, gritty feel of the appropriately named Mess. From the eerie, echo-y sounds of “Perpetual Village” that conjure images of the guys recording in an anchored, rusty ship to the upbeat, charged and catchy single “Mess on a Mission,”

From the first note Liars proves fun and entertaining as the album opens to a maniacally deep, robotic voice commanding, “Take my pants off.” We already know a good time is about to begin. “Mask Maker” could prove disturbing as the voice continues with “take my face off/give me your face” but this possibly macabre translation is lost into the hypnotic effects and dance beats that build for nearly 2 minutes before Andrew begins singing. Andrew’s deep vocals complement the dark, noisy sounds he and Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross produced together, “VOX Tuned D.E.D.,” “Can’t Hear Well,” and the menacing “Pro Anti-Anti.” In fact, all of Mess has an enjoyably menacing feel that will prove inviting to Liars fans and new listeners alike.

Simply put, Mess is a damn good album!

DOWNLOAD: “VOX Tuned D.E.D.,” “Mess On A Mission,” “Dress Walker”

Elbow’s Latest Triumph Lands

I am a biased fan and lover of all things Elbow! I think everyone on this blue and green planet should listen to their lovely music, instantly fall in love with the beautiful soundwaves they produce, and play their music at their wedding. So again, not impartial! But with good reason, Elbow continually makes quality music that stands the test of time.  My fine words about this fine band can be found at Blurt Magazine but here it is for quick access:

elbow-band

The British quartet continues their upward flight into the sublime with the emotive lyrics and beautiful music of their sixth release, The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Over the years Elbow have polished their unique, raw and solemn rock all the while channeling the same ethereal energy on their 2001 debut Asleep in the Back. Guy Garvey’s calm, semi-raspy vocals continue to sooth listeners as his airy harmonies complement the well orchestrated music (included are horns and strings) as crafted by Pete Turner’s bass, Richard Jupp’s drums, Mark Potter’s guitar and Craig Potter’s keyboards and effects—who doubled as producer on Take Off.

There are moments when these two elements, harmony and melody, are quite prominent and balance each other, as with “My Sad Captains” or the 7 minute title track. Meanwhile, “The Take Off” includes a sea of effects, piano, charging drums, plucky guitar and backing vocals that fill every lush minute. Yet there are quiet moments during which Garvey’s voice is at the forefront and wholly carries the song, as in closer “The Blanket of Night”; this genteel song only includes a rim shot, light acoustic strumming, unobtrusive bass lines and a soft keyboard that give way to lush, pulsing keys that suggest a dreamscape.

Of course beautiful music will only hold its weight when accompanied by quality lyrics and Elbow does not fall short here either. Known for their ability to poetically touch on everything from loss and love in profound simplicity, they can express the depth of love. In “Real Life (Angel),” for instance, Garvey sings: “You never need for a thing in this world/While I have a breath in me, blood in my veins.”

With every release Elbow sharpen their craft by polishing their sound.The Take Off and Landing of Everything is another fine release from a band that has yet to steer wrong.

DOWNLOAD: “Charge,” “Sad Captains,” “Colour Fields”

And if you find yourself on this side of the Atlantic, take advantage of the opportunity of seeing the UK group during their North American tour! Having seen them live before it will surely be a great show:

2014 North American Tour

05/11 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
05/12 – Boston, MA – Royale NightClub
05/13 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
05/16 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
05/17 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
05/19 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
05/20 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
05/23 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
05/24 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
05/25 – Quincy, WA – Sasquatch Music Festival
05/27 – Oakland, CA – The Fox Theatre
05/28 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

Neneh Cherry Returns

For Blurt Magazine:

The eclectic singer’s last solo album was 1996’s Man but she has continued to make music and collaborate with other musicians sporadically throughout the years from Gorillaz to Kleerup to, most recently, fellow Swedes The Thing. (Read about that collaboration here.) Electronica runs through Blank Project and its creation involves several individuals who specialize in the genre: produced by Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, it features collaborations with Robyn and duo RocketNumberNine.

The raw, mellow, hip-hop, electronic, jazz infused solo return of Neneh Cherry is an enjoyable ride; some songs are immediately addictive while others slowly become more appealing after several listens and sonic osmosis. A duet with fellow Swedish pop singer Robyn sounds promising in theory but “Out of the Black” is not the most enthralling number yet title track “Blank Project” is easily the strongest number with a heavy drum and bass that pulls you in, escalates the pulsating beats and induces dancing. The remaining splendor of Project rest in its sparse simplicity; songs such as opener “Across the Water,” or “422” quietly demonstrates this with very few instruments, only the occasional hand drum, organ and plucky as Cherry’s semi-raspy vocals carries each song.

The lyricism isn’t always profound; the strongest component to Blank Projectis the far from ordinary music. But there are moments when Cherry’s down to earth style proves vastly entertaining. In “Everything” Cherry maps a day that starts perfectly but slowly crumbles and she casually sings “a crack smoking hussy getting in my way too.”

Blank Project is equally unique, familiar and proves inviting in its soulful solidarity.

DOWNLOAD: “Everything,” “Blank Project”

The Ever Enigmatic Dosh

For the lovely Blurt Mag:

When he is not performing with other acts such as Cloak Ox or drumming for Andrew Bird multi-instrumentalist master, Martin Dosh creates calm and thoughtfully pensive electronic soundscapes by harnessing static noise while merging jazz, ambience and hip hop. What makes Dosh special is his creation process: he plays every instrument you hear, from drums to keyboard to xylophone, and loops each piece together one by one to create an effortless sound. For his seventh full length Milk Money, Dosh continues to impress.

Milk Money is generally a lyric free affair; the only vocals are sampled to fit the texture of a song. “We are the Worst” is a great opener to the album as we hear an ethereal woman’s voice repeat, “careful” as it is solely accompanied by keys, drums and effects. “Unto Internity” has an otherworldly feel as a Theremin like sound fades in and out beneath shuffling drums and  The 24 minute final track, “Legos (for Terry)” undergoes an interesting transformation. It starts quite calmly with singular piano chords and ambient noises to fill the void. It slowly disseminates into several sounds rhythmically toppling over each other: sampled vocals, fast paced chirps and drums, and plucky chords that sound like piano strings being struck with a wooden spoon.

The experimental sonic world Dosh creates is beautiful and he has created an eerily enchanting one with Milk Money.

DOWNLOAD: “We are the Worst,” “Unto Internity”

RJD2: Magnificent Noise Maker

For Blurt Magazine:

With a christened name that proves as intriguing as his stage name, Ramble John Krohn, RJD2, returns with his fifth LP under this moniker after numerous collaborations, EPs and mixes. A creative producer and master of electronic beats he has a knack for weaving together disjointed beats with fluid sounds to create hip hop inspired dance tracks; a sampling of RJD2’s “A Beautiful Mine” is known to many as Mad Men’s theme song. More Is Than Isn’t dabbles in several genres; 70’s funk, 80’s R&B and rap, and hip hop instrumentals. Though there exists a similar thread within these styles having them live together on one album will either prove appealing or too large of a range for listeners. Nonetheless, of the 16 tracks on the album 7 of them feature vocalists while the rest are instrumentals…More Is Than Isn’t could’ve remained a lyric free album, it’s the most ear pleasing part of the release.

Photo by Dan McMahon

The singers prove lackluster, the rappers unoriginal and flat but RJ’s music is damn good. Perfect example is the song “See You Leave,” the track starts with slow keyboards and intermittent drum rolls before giving way to Nile Rodgers-esque guitar strumming, a great start, no? Then the rapping and poor lyricism begins. But instrumentals such as single “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request” and “Winter Isn’t Coming” are solid, creative and attack you with their charged energy. Even the minute long “Suites,” one through three, are all small orchestral numbers that could’ve lasted longer. More Is Than Isn’t balances vocals with lyricless tracks but at the heart of it all is RJD2’s strength in producing impressive music.

DOWNLOAD: “Winter Isn’t Coming,” “Tempermental”