Album Review: Frigs’ Basic Behavior

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 range from growls and shouts to sultry calm. Her vocal styling amps up the already raw music of gnarling guitar, bass, and Kris’ primal drums.

Inspiration of post-punk 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: “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 mentionable track. The rolling guitars, plus interjections of guitar wails, and with 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; the quiet song includes only Bria and a soft keyboard.

All of Basic Behaviour illustrates Frigs’ artistic, Avant-punk abilities, but the 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!

Album Review: Joakim’s Samurai – 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 and DJ, Joakim Bouaziz, has released his eighth studio album, Samurai, and it defies genre labeling. It 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 rudderlessly 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 sound 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. In “Late Night New City,” for instance, you can hear elements of 70s jazz-funk as a saxophone soars above the fun drum beat. “Numb” sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to an 80s flick as Devo-esque keys and android-like vocals take us back to a time when artists were experimenting with all of the electronic sounds they could create. 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; Joakims incorporates police sirens, raindrops, 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 its 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 detail of splitting his vocals so that listeners will mostly hear him from the right speaker. Such a small detail proves 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.”

Album Review: 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.”

Album Review: Cross Record’s Wabi-Sabi

 

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.”

Album Review: Interpol’s El Pintor

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”