Saturday, August 30, 2008

Crystal Castles/Crystal Castles

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[ Purchase ] (From

"With all of the turmoil surrounding Toronto-based, electronic pop duo Crystal Castles and their dispute with artist Trevor Brown, it’s easy to hang a cloud over their music. Apparently, the two parties are dead-locked in a legal issue regarding the band’s illegal or legal use (depends on who you ask) of one of his paintings. Surprisingly, the digipak album comes with a small poster of the questioned painting at hand — oh the things you learn when you purchase music instead of downloading everything! Well, that’s another topic for another day. Through all of this, it is worth noting that with their self-titled debut, Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have concocted one of the best electronic albums of the year.

The album is filled with soft and mellow songs like “Magic Spells” that are utterly captivating. Sampling Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s classic song, “The Message,” the way Kath manipulates the sounds is astounding. Other songs like the abrasive and edgy “Alice Practice” are nice offerings of punk rock music. The story is that this song was a complete accident as Kath recorded Glass one day when she was warming up, laid it to some frenetic video game sounds and hyper beats and mashed everything together. The fruition is a loud and screeching song that adds dimension to the album’s overall electronic sound.

The band takes their name from the fictional castle in the “She-Ra” animated series and are notorious for combining a fresh mix of grimy beats, melodic undertones, punk and rock music and video game sounds. The band placed an Atari 5200 sound chip inside one of their keyboards to help in creating these distinctive and interesting tones.

What really holds the album together is the way it is stylishly sequenced. Change of paces happen and come in at just the right times. After the water-bubble sounds of “Knights,” the next song, “Love and Caring,” features the catchiest drum beat on the album along with Glass’ shrieking vocals and yes, more video game sounds! And the bookends are brilliant choices: “Untrust Us” begins with an infectious melody line and encompasses some of Glass’ prettiest vocals; “Tell Me What to Swallow” ends the album with showcasing a human side to the band as they strip everything down and get away from all of the machines to create a somber and gentle, ethereal ending. Glass practically whispers the words and the music is lifting and placid.

Whatever ends up happening with the Castles’ legal issues, we shouldn’t overlook what a strong album this is. With Crystal Castles’ infectious, eclectic music, this is easily one of the highlights of the year and a great addition to the super-genre that is electronic music."

Find the full review here

What do you get when you throw in an atari, a gameboy, and LSD into the mix? What the f***, right? Well, the answer is actually quite simple: Crystal Castles. I seriously fell in love with the album on the first playthrough, and with each time I listen to it, the love grows. Admittedly, it's not for everyone, but those in the mood for something trippy might find that the Canadian duo is right up their alley =]

As Tall As Lions/As Tall As Lions

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"At the core, this record is a composite of rich textures and a mesmerizing groove that to me evokes the image and feeling of moonlight piercing fog. Not to get overly metaphorical here but that is my physical manifestation of the silky and sensuous but also lurid and ghostly vibe which pervades this disc. All you need do is press play on track one and suddenly my comparison won’t seem so far fetched. What sounds like wind chimes being stirred by a breeze meets eerie guitar sounds to introduce the one man vocal powerhouse that is Dan Nigro, and a rhythmically plucked acoustic guitar to hint at the song’s (and more or less the album’s) swaying trajectory. This record will haunt you and move you from start to finish, and I say that in only the most positive way.

Nigro is the inevitable MVP of this group. For someone with no formal vocal training, it is nothing short of miraculous that the boy can perform as he does. Whether whispering like a ghost from beyond the grave or wailing like a banshee on fire, Dan maintains an ear-pleasing vibrato and his uniquely jazzy vocal tone. He is an incredible asset to the group and his singing on this record is as much an instrument as the guitar and drums. And still, the musicianship that lies beneath the voice is equally impressive. For instance, the offbeat piano chords and gigantic rock-out-worthy chorus of “Stab City,” the tranquil flutter and then wrenching bridge of “Milk and Honey,” the whimsically heart-breaking balladry of “I’m Kicking Myself,” or the Coldplay-like elegance and soaring heights of “Maybe I’m Just Tired.” As Tall As Lions have redefined the word crescendo, and when they buildup and breakdown, so will you.

The record is chock full of highlight moments such as those above, which is very much a testament to the superb tracking and solidity of every song. For those that think the record starts strong, you should hear how it ends! The last four or five songs are an intransigent tour-de-force that guarantee a lasting impact.

As Tall As Lions can soar like U2, groove like Days Away, get as technical as Gatsby’s American Dream, rock out like Brand New, experiment like The Mars Volta, and even emote like Damien Rice. Seamlessly streamlining these qualities, the band has turned out a surprisingly adult, grown-up, complete, hypnotic, entrancing, brave, and layered sophomore effort with lasting appeal to boot. I’m just about out of adjectives, but please don’t miss one of the best that 2006 has to offer. It requires more than a single listen to truly consume and digest the songwriting which at first might seem to blend, but all efforts will be handsomely rewarded, and soon each track becomes distinct. Even summer sometimes succumbs to rainfall, nighttime, and gloom, and this record soundtracks those darker times, when sunshine gives way to the moonlight and the fog."

Review linky =]

Mellow can't even begin to describe what this album is like... I can't even begin to describe what this album is like... There's a quote from the review that hits the nail on the head: "What sounds like wind chimes being stirred by a breeze meets eerie guitar sounds to introduce the one man vocal powerhouse that is Dan Nigro, and a rhythmically plucked acoustic guitar to hint at the song’s (and more or less the album’s) swaying trajectory. This record will haunt you and move you from start to finish, and I say that in only the most positive way."

'Nuff said.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blonde Redhead / 23

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"With each album since Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, Blonde Redhead has made huge strides forward with their sound. Misery Is a Butterfly pitted fragile melodies against dark, swirling arrangements, and its tragic glamour turned the album into a cult favorite. On 23, the band trades the cloistered chamber rock of Butterfly for tone-bending dream pop and subtle electronics; while the wide open spaces sound a little bare at first, this streamlined approach ends up making this Blonde Redhead's loveliest and most accessible work yet. The group begins each album with a bold statement of purpose, and 23 is no different. The epic title track's delicate electronic rhythms, swooping, shimmering guitars, and majestically bittersweet melody pitch it somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Asobi Seksu, showing how a more restrained Blonde Redhead can still sound lush and haunting. "Spring and Summer by Fall"'s streaming, comet-tail guitars and "Silently"'s thorny melody hark back to Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, while "Heroine"'s vocoders sound surprisingly fresh, giving the song a fairy tale-meets-sci-fi vibe. This more whimsical, if not exactly lighthearted, feel flows through much of 23, especially on "Dr. Strangeluv," which boasts playful percussion and sparkling synths, and "Top Ranking," which layers Kazu Makino's vocals into futuristic girl group harmonies. However, Blonde Redhead hasn't ditched the brooding beauty of Misery Is a Butterfly entirely. "The Dress" is just as darkly stunning as any song on that album, with looping gasps and insistent guitars circling lyrics like "the fear starts creeping up when you have so much to lose," while "SW"'s melody and psychedelic brass interlude have a Butterfly-esque intensity. And as always, Blonde Redhead has a flair for haunting melodies, particularly on "Publisher," the chorus of which sounds peculiarly like Aerosmith's "Dream On." 23 is stunning -- in fact, its only flaw might be that its track listing is a little top-heavy, resulting in an album with an amazing first half and a flip side that is only very good. Nitpicking aside, 23 is mysterious and modern, with an artfully strange beauty that is more memorable than perfection." (from

I cannot say more. Best. Album. Ever. Period. It has conjured some kind of spell on me and I honestly cannot stop listening to it. It doesn't get boring, and the more I hear it, the more sense the album makes. This band ( along with the album) is on the top of my list. I suggest you give your hears something beautiful to hear.

A Perfect Circle / The Thirteenth Step

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"The thirteenth step as we know it, and as this album illustrates, is to love onself. The theme of self embrace and acceptance echoes through this album as resoundly as any instrument, and makes it one of the most beatiful anf powerful works of art to ever make it onto a disc. I would recommend this album to anyone who has ever had a rough day, or just anyone with a throurough enjoyment of powerfully transcendant music."(from

Staged in the steps of drug rehab (although there are 12, Maynard sets 13 in the album) he covers a wide variety of aspects from surrender, loss, and a lot of mixed emotions. A powerful and compelling album. I bet you won't regret it.

Residente Calle 13 / Residente o Visitante

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"The fine line between a fad and authenticity has put reggaetón in a delicate situation. As Latin hip-hop continues to gain popularity, the style must evolve to avoid a lethal backlash. Sure, it has its share of superstars, like Daddy Yankee and Don Omar, but a viable alternative is needed to keep things interesting. This is where Calle 13 comes in. The Puerto Rican duo, consisting of half-brothers “Residente” Rene Pérez and “Visitante” Eduardo Cabra, released their eponymous debut album in 2005, garnering plenty of critical accolades, including three Latin Grammys, for their sophomorically humorous, yet intellectually engaging form of hip-hop. And with the slow rise of the cumbia-tinged “Atrévete-te-te!,” perhaps the single best reggaetón song in the genre’s young history, Calle 13 has spent the past year basking in the glow as the “next big thing.”

Luckily, Calle 13 doesn’t seem to care for superlatives. Rather than quarantine themselves into a studio trying to prevent lightning from escaping the bottle, they hurriedly recorded Residente o Visitante. Aided by esteemed Rock en Español producer (and recent Academy Award-winner) Gustavo Santaolalla, the album streamlines the reckless experimentation of their debut album into something more refined, more cerebral. Stripping down the cornerstones of reggaetón—percussion sounds and ubiquitous “Dem Bow” rhythm—the duo creates complex song structures all but foreign to mainstream pop. The effect is to shift the listener’s attention to the charismatic Residente, whose oblique and uproarious performance is a revelation." (from

Even with it's funny, unique and a wholelottabadwordsinit style, he definetly achieves what he wanted. A great album with a "flow" of it's own. You should: A. Learn spanish and listen to this album or B. listen to it really hard even if you don't know what it means.
Either way, listen to it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Artofficial/Fist Fights And Footraces

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[ Purchase ] From some really weird site...

"ArtOfficial consists of Danny Perez on Keys, Manny Patino on Drums, Ralf Valencia on Bass, and Keith Cooper on the Saxophone with vocals provided by emcees Newsense and Logics.

The set up alone beckons the questions “What does a live band with two emcees sound like?” Well, imagine Soulive with a harder edge or The Roots, but jazzier, denser, and more spontaneous. Envision blending your favorite groups from Hip-Hop's Golden era and replacing their sampled beats with Jazz musicians. Now, what if those Jazz musicians had a knack for creating that boom-bap sound that made us all fall in love with Hip-Hop in the first place? In reality, such a mixture doesn't have to be imagined. It exists. It's a living, breathing entity that lives in Miami, but thinks universally. It speaks in a language that is both familiar and unknown. Its name is ArtOfficial and its here to make you remember the past and embrace the future.

Started from the remains of two bands, one Jazz and one Hip-Hop, ArtOfficial has taken the music scene by storm, implementing their previous musical experiences to achieve quick results. In the words of Danny Perez, “After having minor success in our other bands we were able to use all those years of experience to get the outcome we wanted out of this one.” Part of that experience is seen in their stage shows. ArtOfficial's live performances have earned them a reputation as extraordinary showmen that according to the Miami New Times “gets butts moving!” ArtOfficial has shared the stage with the likes of Krs-One, The Sugarhill Gang, Pharaoh Monch, and Buckshot as well as performing at 2007's Rock the Bells festival headlined by Wu-Tang and Nas. In 2008 ArtOfficial was chosen as a semi-finalist in the Florida Grammys Showcase and also beat out 1000+ bands to earn the 2nd runner up position in Lollapalooza's Last Band Standing.

ArtOfficial has recorded a full length follow up to their much praised and independently released EP, "Stranger". The album, titled "Fist Fights and Foots Races" is distributed in Japan via Goon Trax/Media Factory and is proving to be a hot seller since its release in early April 2008.

Today ArtOfficial is constantly performing and expanding on an already growing fan base. Currently ArtOfficial is working on their US release and according to the band, it's everything you'd expect from their energetic live shows, but expanded and executed to perfection. When asked about their run-ins with record execs the DIY band says, “We've been very successful at handling ourselves so far. We're going to plot our next move like a game of chess."

Taken from the band's
Lollapalooza profile

In this commercial-hip hop infested world, Artofficial feels like a breath of fresh air, bringing music that actually honors the name hip hop. Sorry to break it down to you guys... there are no 'bitches' here, no Cadillacs with the chromed out 24's, no 'bling' and no strobe lights. All you'll find here are actual musicians with actual instruments making funky jazz with two poets gracing every beat thrown at them. And that, in my book, is more than enough. But don't take it from me, listen to it yourself =]

Monday, August 11, 2008

Feist / The Reminder

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I'll come out and say it first... it's not the best album, but it's still impresive. Canadian singer Leslie Feist hits up true elegance and beauty with this album. In indie waters, Feist captures a more sweet, loveable moments in life and translates them into this album. With acoustic happy sounds and warm lyrics like in the beautiful "I Feel It All" or "So Sorry" and jazzy, more electric sounds in "My Moon My Man" she achieves a sense of a "higher feeling" as one would put it. She has an uncanny voice, and she knows it, so she wanted to use all she could of it but with ambition comes error. There are some tracks that went too vocal, and are not that likeable, way too sleepy I guess. But, if she just would cut back on that, this would be an more than awesome album, but let's keep it awesome for now. ;]

Red Hot Chilli Peppers / Stadium Arcadium

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[ Purchase (Discs 1 & 2) ] (from

"The twenty-eight-song, box-set-length Stadium Arcadium isn't a middle-aged concept album about trading in your tube sock for a tux. But the band's ninth studio album is the most ambitious work of its twenty-three-year career -- an attempt to consolidate everything that is Chili Peppers, from their earlier, funnier funk-metal stuff to soul-baring "Under the Bridge"-style balladry to Californicating vocal-harmony pop. And unlike the Foo Fighters' similarly expansive but bloated double disc In Your Honor, and almost every other double album of the post-vinyl era, the band pulls it off. It's a late-career triumph that could pass for another, lesser group's greatest-hits collection." (from Rolling Stone)

You can't pass this. A band with a 25 year career just hit the jackpot with this album. Truly well thought out with, i'd say, every aspect covered. It definately a MUST.

Eddie Vedder / Into The Wild

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"Shortly after Pearl Jam released Ten, a disillusioned twenty-something named Christopher McCandless dropped out of society, hitched cross-country and perished in the Alaskan wilderness. Now Eddie Vedder tells the young man's story on the soundtrack to Sean Penn's Into the Wild, tossing his weighty baritone onto earthy, folky tracks that temper the romance of absolute freedom with an eerie foreboding. Vedder strikes a cinematic tone on the jangly opener, “Setting Forth,” and ten more sketches that evoke days spent contemplating a vast skyline. Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker adds alluring harmonies to a rollicking cover of Indio's “Hard Sun,” and Vedder, free from the noise (and outrage) of his day job, disappears into the sublime beauty of the simple, banjo-plucked “No Ceiling.” " (from Rolling Stone)

Captivating beauty and simplicity might best describe this album, while I describe it as indescribable. After watching the movie and listening to this album I simply can't get enough. It overwhelms me and makes me want to listen to it's exhilarating sounds.
Definately a top on my list. Give it a listen, yes? =]

Pendulum / Hold Your Colour

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Paul Harding, Rob Swire, and Gareth McGrillen have given the world a taste of what drum and bass is and can be. Setting the standard with their debut album in 2005, "Hold Your Colour" couldn't be less than perfect. some say they might be the next Prodigy. Managing to keep their underground roots and mainstream cross over all-together in this album was exceptional. Perfect for DnB hardcore lovers or for anyone new to the DnB scene, Pendulum manages to mix it all. Having tracks that range from fast-paced, strong and heavy lines to a much calmer, ambient setting, giving the listener a chance to settle in and calm down. Pendulum did not just deliver a good album, they've been expanding their sounds all around. Their hit track "Slam" has been featured in the Playstation 3's "Motorstorm" and "Tarantula" has been rendered for the trailer of "Motorstorm: Pacific Rift".
It's been dubed by many as an excellent album or album of the year and I must agree with them. If you don't know Drum and Bass this is a perfect start and believe me, it'll open a whole new world of music for you.