Electricity Runs Through Frigs

This is one band I’m excited to see live when possible; their sound is kinetic, chaotic, melancholic…and amazing! Check out up-and-coming band: Frigs!

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Image by Chelsee Ivan

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Arts & Crafts
Release Date: February 23, 2018

Toronto post-punk quartet Frigs—formerly Dirty Frigs—created a charged debut LP that is unapologetically jagged and intensely electrifying. Only on a first name basis through press releases, following their 2016 EP Slush, Frigs—Bria (vocals and guitar), Duncan (guitar), Kris (drums) and Lucas (bass)—return and hit hard on Basic Behaviour. The loud quartet combines noise rock with punk as Bria’s gritty vocals ranges from growls and shouts to sultry calm amping up the already raw music of gnarling guitar, bass and Kris’ primal drums.

Inspiration of post-punks bands of the past is indeed felt but Frigs are simultaneously creating a sound all their own thanks to Bria’s unique melodies and the riotous music. Anxiety, depression, feeling of hopelessness are all themes within the lyrics on Basic Behaviour. Singles “Talking Pictures” and “II” are indeed standout tracks that easily catch your ears for their jangly guitar and haunting melodies. Holding back from no difficult issues Bria takes on rape and assault with “Chest”: angered by the Brock Turner case that made US headlines, the case inspired her lyrics such as: “titles neck, yeah, they watch me/stay asleep as you spoil me.”

“Solid State,” a tongue-in-cheek title for a song that touches on mental instability, is another memorable track as the rolling guitars and interjections of guitar wails and Bria’s soft vocals, for the first time, hide beneath the wall of sound. “Gemini” is unique as the only track that does not scream of ferocity as the quiet song in addition to Bria only includes a quiet keyboard.

All of Basic Behaviour illustrates Frigs’ artistic, avant-punk abilities, but third song “Waste” is a fun epicenter of their possibilities. The 5 minute track undergoes 4 tempo changes as it starts out with a slow, growling bass, flat guitar plucks, a simple slap on the snare and Bria’s dragging, slurring vocals. Then after 2.5 minutes it transitions to a slightly faster tempo as Bria repeats “do you want to talk about it, it’s a waste;” the song picks up and moves even faster with the same lyrics. One last shift occurs as the music ends and Bria screams into the mic and closes the track with “I am a fortune teller, baby” before fading into a rambling.

A raw and solid debut, Basic Behaviour translates anguish into an intense yet catchy album.

DOWNLOAD: “Talking Pictures,” “II,” “Waste”

I think Frigs needs an official video for “Talking Pictures,” just sayin…listen to this blistering track!

Proof Positive Electronic Music Can Be Unique

To the naysayers who believe that electronic music is all the same or “not real music” (just read a few comments on youtube videos…sigh) they’re not listening to the right artists. Joakim is indeed an artist in every sense of the word, from the eclectic sounds he creates down to the cover art for his latest album, Samurai, which is an eye catching photo of him in white makeup akin to the Japanese performance threatre, Butoh. Read more below!

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Because Music
Release Date: March 17, 2017

French producer/DJ Joakim Bouaziz has released his eighth studio album, Samurai that defies genre labeling and is best described as ‘70s jazz-funk meets ‘80s electronica. Almost an entirely instrumental affair, Samurai feels more like a Ronin as the album drifts rudderless along Joakim’s sonic stream of consciousness. Eclectic does not quite pin down how out there Samurai can become at times. For instance, “Time is Wrong” is a quiet song with simple Rhodes-reminiscent keys accompanied by…Joakim’s warbled vocals that sounds as if he’s singing through a fan underwater. He takes a song that could become a very lovely ballad and adds a weird little twist. This tendency of Joakim’s encompasses the entire album.

Playing with kinetic sounds that jitter and bounce Joakim adds sirens, horns and piano to create delicate music. He will then add his vocals that sound otherworldly, making very few songs sound alike. On “Late Night New City” for instance you can hear elements of the aforementioned ‘70s jazz-funk as a saxophone soars above the fun drum beat, while “Numb” sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to an 80s flick as Devo-esque keys, and android like vocals takes us back to a time when artists were experimenting with all of the electronic sounds hey could curate. And that is precisely what Joakim does on Samurai, play and experiment with sounds.

Opening with the recording of a plane taking off, “In The Beginning” literally launches the album; “Late Night” begins with the sounds of riding in a commuter train; Joakim’s incorporates police sirens, rain drops, wind, and radio static into the songs and as diverse as these sounds are, a jazz inspiration is felt throughout. Title track “Samurai” is perhaps the most mundane on the album, with it’s catchy beat, circling effects and percussion; and, as such, it sounds the most “normal.” But for Joakim, normal is still well crafted. The great track includes horns that add a nice layer to the song and here Joakim’s vocals are not altered as he quietly and effortlessly lifts his voice just above a whisper.

When Joakim does sing elsewhere on the album it’s rarely from the beginning to end of a track. “Not Because You’re Sad” and “Mind Bent” include indecipherable whispers and vocalizations that commence several seconds into the track and rest behind the music. In fact, for “Sad,” Joakim added the small detail of splitting his vocals so that listeners will mostly hear him from the right speaker. Such small details prove the intricacies of his music crafting.

Closing track “Hope/Patience” is an appropriate title to leave listeners with (or perhaps we should’ve taken off from here), this album may not prove to be everyone’s cup of tea and may require a bit of hope and patience to listen to Samurai. Joakim has made an album that is simultaneously familiar yet unique and sets you on a creative sonic journey.

DOWNLOAD: “Samurai,” “Not Because You’re Sad”

Watch the beautiful official video for one of my favorite tracks on the LP, “Samurai.”

Kelly Lee Owens’ Colorful EP

This may be Kelly Lee Owens’ first EP but she is not brand, spanking new to the music scene. A young producer getting her proverbial musical “sea legs” on the ground, Owens shows great promise for her first release.

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Smalltown Supersound
Release Date: October 21, 2016

Kelly Lee Owens fully steps into the electronic music fold with her brief yet hypnotic four track EP, Oleic. The Welsh producer has previously worked with other musicians-most notably appearing on fellow UK producer Daniel Avery’s 2013 album Drone Logic-and has since teased the world with tracks released online. Now amassing her songs for her own release, Oleic proves that Owens has a solid springboard from which to launch her musical career.

Repetition is the core of Owens’ sound as swirling effects and pulsating keys continually reverberate and echo, creating an entrancing environment. Unfortunately, not much variety exists in the four songs as the “four-to-the-floor” kick drum is the skeleton of each track. And having the same sonically alluring yet almost indiscernible line “dancing curtains of auroras” utilized in “Elliptic” and “CBM” does not aid in creating different atmospheres. Yet, this infraction is almost completely forgivable thanks to Oleic’s lush production.

With minimalist, down-tempo and bass-ladened dark sounds, Oleic drifts into the realm of deep house and oozes with sophisticated sexiness. The EP includes three original tracks and one reworking of Jenny Hval’s track “Kingsize.” To fully appreciate the depth of Owens’ rework you must listen to the original music-less, 2 minute, spoken word piece. Owens created an entire soundscape and sliced in selected moments Hval’s genteel voice which sounds like soft whispers. An almost lyric-less EP, when Owens does sing her vocals possess an alluring, ghost-like quality that rises unexpectedly and seeps in-between the music.

First single, “CBM,” which stands for “colors, beauty, motion,” is perhaps the best track on Oleic. Well-crafted mellow keys build from a stuttering intro of effects and for the last two minutes of the song, the sound effortlessly changes to bouncing keys that doesn’t lift from the soundscape but permeates just beneath the waves as all the other music slowly trails off leaving the subtle, kinetic effects to carry the track to the end.

Owens has illustrated variety in her previously released singles and displayed that she can weave an array of sounds (her remake of Aaliyah’s “More Than a Woman” is worth a listen). Her earlier material and the sonically rich construction on Oleic is a fine window into Owens’ future LP.

DOWNLOAD: “CBM,” “Kingsize

Listen to my favorite track on the EP, “CBM.”

Cross Record’s Strange Aura

 

Cross Record has created such a weird, trippy, creative album that it’s hard to pinpoint…and something tells me, that was the goal.  An ethereal ride Wabi-Sabi is starting off 2016 right!

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: Ba Da Bing Records
Release Date: January 29, 2016

Cross Record, husband-wife duo Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski, returns with their second album; following their 2013 debut #Be Good#, Wabi-Sabi continues in the same vein of hauntingly serene soundscapes. Cross’ airy, wispy vocals, that remain in the realm of a gentle whisper, add to the mellow, organic feel of the album. A quiet affair, acoustic guitar, the occasional buzz of an electric guitar or effects of a keyboard, and muted drums mostly comprise Wabi-Sabi.

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Opening with “The Curtains Part” the off rhythm strumming of an acoustic guitar reminiscent of a spaghetti western that cuts in and out sets the tone to this distinctive album. Floating between folk and rock the atmospheric album has a penchant for melancholy as the often droning sounds—whether it be the slow hit of a repetitive tambourine and guitar strum as in “Wasp In A Jar” or oscillating effects as in “Lemon”—hypnotically draw you in. Reveling in the silences between notes, Wabi-Sabi does not aim to hit hard, instead the artistic album tensely remains below the line of escalation. The off-kilter, sometimes jarring sounds on tracks like “Wasp,” “Basket” add a layer of mystery to the unique record. “High Rise” is a song that could easily ascend into a hard driving rock song. The “heaviest” track includes the most drums and electric guitar compared to all others, instead the PJ Harvey-esque track, at only 2:33 minutes, ends on the plateau it reaches mid song.

Repetition and simplicity balance the sadly beautiful sounds on Wabi-Sabi; an eccentric album that will find it’s home with those who seek something creatively different in their music on a mellow, rainy day.

DOWNLOAD: “High Rise,” “Two Rings,” “Wasp In A Jar”

Watch the officially weird video for my favorite track on the album, “High Rise.”

The Best Kind of Blues: Small Black

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These gents have perfected their brand of mellow, somber yet danceable electronic laced music. Small Black continue to entrance listeners as they return with their third release!

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: Jagjaguwar
Release Date: October 16, 2015

The Upshot: Dreamy, airy synthpop that proves sometimes less is more.

Brooklyn band Small Black returns with their third LP, Best Blues, and continues down the chillwave path for which they are known. The lo-fi quartet, guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Heyner, guitarist/bassist Juan Pieczanski, drummer Jeff Curtin and singer Josh Kolenik, have polished their dance, synth pop sounds with each release creating an even more dreamy, airy atmosphere on Best Blues.

 The upbeat music on tracks like “No One Wants it to Happen To You,” “Boys Life,” and “Checkpoints” counterbalances Kolenik’s near falsetto, whispery and restrained vocals. Yet most of the album revels in a decidedly slow-paced ambience that is quite melodic and semi-somber. Simplicity seems to be the core of Small Black’s music as plucky, reverbed guitars, swirling effects, the carefully placed strum of an acoustic guitar and keys comprise of their laid-back release. Even when a song includes a gradual crescendo of layered, atmospheric sounds—such as the reprise of “Boys Life”—the ascension is subtle. The slow paced, sweeping closing track, “XX Century” is a grand end to the album as the echoey layers leaves listeners in an aural WORD filled with space.

A rather smooth and relaxing affair, Best Blues proves that sometimes less is more.

DOWNLOAD: “Boys Life,” “Between Leos,” “Checkpoints”

Watch the official video of the best racks on the album, “Boy’s Life.”

 

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.”