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Posts tagged "weekly release spotlight"

Weekly Release Spotlight: Yuppies

Posted on 10/28/2013

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Yuppies

Yuppies

Dull-Tools

By: Abbie Gobeli & Jerod Greenisen 

"Easy Nights" -

Yuppies have just arrived with the release of this self-titled debut, but their sound comes across as if they have been somewhere for far too long. Yuppies is one of the few albums that seems to be just as unpredictable as it is enjoyable and reckless. Alright, alright we’re going for a ride... whether you like it or not” sings lead vocalist and guitarist Jack Begely. It has only been two tracks and we’re off with Omaha natives, Yuppies. 

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Click the Polaroid to see Yuppies in Studio K

Founding members Jack Begley, Kevin Donahue and Noah Sterba came together in 2007 with mutual ambitions to perform live and overcome their teenage boredom.  After touring many Midwestern basements, they added bassist Jeff Sedrel to the line-up in 2010. They have recently signed to Parquet Courts’ Dull Tools record company, and this maybe the start of something great for Yuppies. Although they come across sounding already like seasoned veterans, which they are considering their relentless basement touring, Yuppies won’t get too serious.

You’re never kept feeling too safe as Yuppies love to create crashing guitar riffs only to be discarded seconds later for a soapbox rant and lo-fi rumble. Moving quickly Yuppies will jerk you around to appreciate their general abuse of a guitar’s limitations. “Worms” gets this feeling across right away, positioning Begely absentmindedly punching his way through a verse and then leaving him nearly wailing his last bit. “Easy Nights” is chaotic mess that is layered with Begley’s deep, monotonous voice which adds a simple storytelling element to the frantic environment that erupts in each track.

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“I Don’t Know” has the listener asking ‘where are we going’ more times than anyone cares to ask. This track resembles the best part of Yuppies; the breakneck speed at which we are taken through hairpin turns and post-punk noise fervors.   

Check out Yuppies live in Studio K this past week for video and more tracks from their debut album. 

Tags: radio k kuom university of minnesota weekly release spotlight free download yuppies review

Weekly Release Spotlight: Lizzo

Posted on 10/21/2013

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Lizzo

Lizzobangers

Totally Gross National Product

By: Sam Sacks

"Batches and Cookies" -

Over the years, the Twin Cities area has proved itself to be the hub of the most dynamic progressive hip-hop and rap scene. Its eclectic music culture is what originally attracted Houston native, Lizzo, to relocate here. After receiving much positive attention from her collaboration in Lizzo and The Larva Ink, an electro funk duo, followed by her enlistment in female dominated rap trio, The Chalice, Lizzo quickly climbed the ranks of the alternative rap circuit. Inspired by the beats of Doomtree’s mastermind producer, Lazerbeak, Lizzo began working with him on Lizzobangers


Lizzobangers demands an attentive listen; the only thing more complex than the instrumentation on this album maybe Lizzo’s stream of pop-culture references throughout. Following her through a wide range in tempo and seriousness amongst the thirteen tracks is thoroughly enjoyable.  “W.E.R.K. Pt. II” is fast-paced and powerfully worded, showing off the speedy rapping prowess of Lizzo. Alternatively, the track “Go” is a much slower piece with an eerily beautiful chord progression, showcasing Lizzo’s soulful singing voice. That song could be Lazerbeak’s signature as it was layered ever so carefully, similar to the sound of a few Doomtree related records of past. 

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The single from Lizzobangers, “Batches & Cookies”, is perfectly catchy, having a minimal drum kit beat and repetitive whistling pattern to back up Lizzo. One of the most amazing parts about this song is the first verse. Not only does Lizzo parade her untouchable flow, but she also begins the verse very low in her register and climbs higher and higher in pitch until her voice squeaks at the last word. Additionally, music video for this track is fantastic; I have found myself watching it on repeat. It features Twin Cities hotspots lovingly as Lizzo and Sophia Eris (The Chalice) butter up locals at Glamdoll Donuts and prance around at a pride rally at the State Capitol.

 

 

The track, “Faded” starts powerfully after a hazy thirty-second intro with the familiar horn sounds of Lazerbeak, sounding similar to Doomtree’s, P.O.S. The range of instrumental sounds also appears on, “Be Still”, with a jazzy flute and bongos. With the creative beats from Lazerbeak, Lizzo was able to extract some very creative lyrics from the depths of her mind: “Takin’ a chill pill before I whip my sword out like Uma in Kill Bill” she raps in the track, “Be Still”. Another pop-culture reference from a movie appears in the track, “T-Baby” as Lizzo spits, “In retrospect, remember when the time when I was derelict, more like derelicte I made homeless chiq,” referring to the 2001 comedy, Zoolander. Aside from the clever pop-culture bits in her lyrics, Lizzo does a powerful job of showing the listener the real pieces of her life. On the captivating and emotional track, “Hot Dish”, Lizzo raps, “I lost my pops, man I wish he was alive, I can’t let go of the past, he never heard me rap, so I carry his spirit on my back in Minneap”, proving that she has no fears when it comes to lyrical content.

Encompassing pretty much everything it takes to be a successful musician, this definitely won’t be the last of Lizzo. Her “it factor” will surely take her very far, especially as she flourishes in the vibrant Twin Cities hip hop scene. Lizzo’s first album is an indicator of this, as it draws from the R&B and gospels sounds of her past while also being extremely innovative, making way for the future of her sound. Aside from her addition to the new female hip-hop group project, " href="http://www.grrrlprty.com/">GRRRL PRTY, she has recently been touring with " href="http://harmarsuperstar.com/">Har Mar Superstar. Check her out at her CD Release Show at the Triple Rock Social Club in December. 

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Tags: radio k kuom university of minnesota weekly release spotlight review free download lizzo lizzobangers new

Weekly Release Spotlight: Gambles

Posted on 10/14/2013

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Gambles

Trust

Self-released

By Abbie Gobeli

"Angel" -

Layers of instrumentation, electronics, and vast amounts of production is a current trend that increasingly coats the voice and lyricism. Sometimes you need musical simplicity to resonate with the troubles that burden your soul. Yearning vocals and an acoustic guitar is all that Matthew Daniel Siskin needed to begin writing songs as Gambles in August 2012 to let unsaid thoughts of the past few years surface. Siskin recently released his debut effort Trust via his Secretly Canadian imprint, GMBLS.

“Was it a dip in the ocean or a dive from your life? (I’d still like to know)” Gambles has secrets he wants to share but you need to be the decoder. His tumblr Gmbls.com features a messy dada collage of cryptic texts reflecting his lyricism style. Each track is shaped to be ambiguous in its language allowing you to fill in the blanks with your own stories.


Siskin’s voice seems weary but persistently strong as it crackles slowly releasing a heavy sadness. “Angel” seems to be the exception to the gloomy folk that saturates the record and seems to be a celebration of a close one. Variances of loss are explored throughout: “So I Cry Out” tries to make sense of lost time and “Safe Side” sends regards to the search for an identity and its consequences

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Gambles will be in Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry  with Those Darlins and live in-studio on Radio K at approximately at 5 pm CST on October 25th.

Tags: radio k kuom weekly release spotlight gambles trust kuom university of Minnesota review free download angel

Weekly Release Spotlight: Frankie Rose

Posted on 10/7/2013

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Frankie Rose

Herein Wild

Fat Possum 

By: Ryan Glenn

Frankie Rose is back and building on their strong foundation of synth heavy dream-pop, the  crew takes us in a whole different direction.

"Into Blue" -

Photo credits: Ebru Yildez

Frankie Rose bursts onto the scene last year with their amazing release, Interstellar, and continues on their cosmic travels with this years Herein Wild.  Although the variables have been tweaked a bit, the formula is still basically the same.  By building on their strong foundation of synth heavy dream-pop, the Frankie Rose crew takes us in a whole different direction.

 

While Interstellar was steeped heavily in synth filled dream-pop, Herein Wild adds a bit more of an organic element to the sound of Frankie Rose.  Gone are the joyous and upbeat sounds of “Interstellar” and “Daylight Sky”.  It may be the harshest change between the two albums, but it certainly doesn’t take away from the strengths of Herein Wild.  Frankie Rose is often related to the cosmic plain (perhaps perpetuated by naming an album Interstellar) and while their debut was all about the fun of whipping through space at whiz-bang progress, the sophomore effort reminds us how lonely and desolate it can be while doing so.  Most invoking of this tone is the track “Cliffs as High”, a stark and quiet single in comparison to anything else released by the band.  It gives an idea of what Frankie Rose could do without the dream-pop formula they used so well.  The string arrangement is a nice addition to the familiar sounds. The track also feels like the first song group leader Frankie worked totally on her own.  It is mostly Frankie on her own with a minimalistic accompaniment.  The song calls upon influences of Bjork, and could be looked at as a further progression of where they are going as a group.  

 

For fans of Interstellar there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had here listening to the new collection of songs.  Don’t be worried about the change in pace on the record, it is still a wonderfully crafted album that takes away the sense of exploration and opts to instead take a moment for self-reflection.  As with “Cliffs as High” the record often feels like Frankie alone drifting listlessly.  Also this time around instead of singing of blazing across the interstellar highway, the travel is a little slower to take some time for reflection.  As on “Sorrow” Frankie brings up plenty of things that would be considered full of sorrow.  However, instead of facings these things head on with action, Frankie asks “Why? Don’t ask me why.”  It is not an uncaring or callous answer, rather a blunt statement of what could be wrong.  There is a lot of sorrow everywhere, yet we rarely know why.  While Interstellar was the innocence of birth, youth, and exploration, Herein Wild is the realization of adulthood and the all encompassing lifestyle and questions that come along with that.  It is certainly a grown up and darker record, but by no means it is worth skipping out of fear of growing up. 

 

Tags: radio k kuom weekly release spotlight Frankie Rose herein wild kuom university of Minnesota review free download

Weekly Release Spotlight: King Krule

Posted on 9/30/2013

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King Krule

6 Feet Beneath the Moon

XL / True Panther

By: Samantha Sacks

"Border Line" -

I first saw King Krule perform at Pitchfork Music Festival in 2012. He was playing on the Blue Stage as people began trickling into the shaded area. At this point, he was just beginning to receive much recognition for his blues-meets-soul sound and an impressively deep voice. He was barely 17 years old, but Archy Marshall’s performance had lured in many only after a few songs. Many might have been lured in, I know I was, by his exceptional ability to communicate confounding emotional maturity. Earlier that year I remember returning to his November self-titled EP over and over again.

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6 Feet Beneath the Moon is Marshall’s first studio LP, and it’s apparent the young musician is no amateur. The album is extremely versatile, as it encompasses aspects of blues, jazz, rap, hip-hop, along with electronic elements, seamlessly throughout. King Krule is also doing more of what lured us to him the first place. King Krule was most noteworthy for his take on blues and soul, but this album definitely suggests that there’s a lot more to his craft. In tracks like, “Neptune Estate,” hip-hop drumbeats become prominent as Archy does a melodic rap. Not unlike some of the more popular hip-hop and rap albums of late an ensemble of horns are featured giving this track that jazz edge that he became so well known for. 6 Feet Below the Moon seems to be an expansion, a reach for something better, and close to something greater.

 

The album begins with the track, “Easy Easy” which is more reminiscent of his first EP and earlier work. The track is simple yet powerful as it opens with just Marshall’s voice and a repeating bass line. With lyrics like, “Cause if you going through hell, we just keep going,” it only becomes clearer how emotional the song is.

 

“Has This Hit?” is a more jazz-influenced track with eerie melodies and echo-y guitar effects. Reverbed vocals come in and out making the eerie mood more prominent, yet ethereal. Electronic elements become more prevalent in the track “Foreign 2”. Synths and fast drumbeats make this track a lot more fast paced before it fades out. 

 

The eeriness continues through the album in the form of layered, effected vocals and melodies that, at times, seem slightly conflicting. One could even describe it as darkwave. The songs also seem to alternate in speed; slower, more eerie bits are followed by fast-paced rhythms, horns, and angrier lyrics. The album shares its extreme moments openly and without restraint much like a teenager going through mood swings. However, it is the finesse by which the listener is brought through motif after motif, that makes 6 Feet Beneath the Moon more a coming of age- less of a tantrum. The last track, “Bathed In Grey,” fades in as it concludes the darker mood of the album. The jazzy piano compliments the high-hat of the hip-hop drumbeat. The track slowly fades out as the jazzy piano melody continues into the expanse. 

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Tags: radio k kuom weekly release spotlight king krule 6 feet beneath the moon kuom university of Minnesota review free download

Weekly Release Spotlight: Holograms

Posted on 9/23/2013

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Holograms

forever

Captured Tracks

By: Abbie Gobeli

"Flesh and Bone" -

“Energy, honesty, heart, and spirit” is what comprises “Forever” according to Holograms. “Forever,” their second releases emerged after a tumultuous year and half consisting of touring, losing their jobs, losing some sanity, and returning to their home in Sweden.  Andreas Lagerstrom, and Anton Strandberg have fallen on tough times include large debt but they were determined to work hard to make their new record happen.

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“A Sacred State” introduces you to the increasing intensity that builds throughout the record.  The duo wanted to capture the feeling of playing in a church to grip a larger sound.  The single, “Flesh and Bone” quickly follows tying in with the wrath that is depicting in the cover art, courtesy of French painter, William Bouguereau’s “Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850)”.

 

Other mythical stories are incorporated in the track, “Attestupa” which means “a place to strike down your kin.”  It is a Norweigan myth where an elder of a family will jump off of a cliff if they are unable to support themselves due to sickness or old age.  They do this because they don’t want to burden their family to take care of them.

Despite the dark themes that permeate “Forever”, Holograms attacks the darkness by finding a light at the end of the tunnel with tracks including, “Meditations”. Holograms will be performing in Minneapolis on December 11th at the 7th Street Ent

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CLICK TO PURCHASE

Tracklist

  1. A Sacred State

  2. Flesh and Bone

  3. Meditations

  4. Attestupa

  5. Luminous

  6. Rush

  7. Wolves

  8. Laughter Breaks the Silece

  9. A Blaze on the Hillside 

  10. Lay Us Down

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Tags: radio k weekly release spotlight holograms forever flesh and bone free download review

Weekly Release Spotlight: Volcano Choir

Posted on 9/16/2013

"Comrade" -

Volcano Choir

Repave

Jagjaguwar

By Jared Hemming

 

The most powerful element of Repave is it’s turbulence, lack of repetitive order, and surprising swells.

With Volcano Choir’s second album, Repave, songwriter and vocalist Justin Vernon accomplishes the rare feat of quality rising above quantity.  No short order considering that, from the time the creative force behind Bon Iver splashed across endless blogs with For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008, the barrage of content that’s arrived since includes: a second album (and Grammy award) for Bon Iver, collaborations with Kanye West, Anaïs Mitchell, Gayngs, The Shouting Matches, The Eau Claire Memorial Jazz I Ensemble, a hilarious erotic series, and, of course, Volcano Choir’s debut: Unmap.

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For this sophomore effort as Volcano Choir, Vernon once again calls pals (and fellow Wisconsinites) Collections of Colonies of Bees for another round. This time to record a soulful batch of tunes soaked in Vernon’s rich baritone. Though artists in similar alt-folk/indie rock molds may have attempted something more bona fide to the genera; Volcano Choir have clearly avoided some acoustic-guitar swells, strained vocals, and winding legatos that have defined other artists this year. Instead, they opt for varied and expansive sound-scapes and occasional surprises to include both acoustic and jarring electric guitars, swirls and blips of synthesizer and electric piano, an ocean-bottom bass and deep waves of splashing, powerful percussion. The most powerful element of Repave is it’s turbulence, lack of repetitive order, and surprising swells. 

Though at times clarity can be difficult to discern from complicated lyricism and the spontaneity of composition, Repave positions Vernon on the horizon of a mature voyage still propelled by urgency and mystery. Take, for example, in “Acetate,” when he sings “you found me on the beach, I was resting there for weeks/I will never cauterize, I will never fortify/I wonder if I’ve recovered now.” Recording double-tracked vocals, Vernon sings these words as though he is in an argument with himself, having just realized a pain and hoping he’s finally awoken from it.

 

Aside from “Acetate,” highlights from Repave include the album-opener “Tiderays,” the glossy, synth-tinged “Comrades,” and the brooding, reflective “Byegone,” in which Vernon looks back on a lively youth as a professional musician on the road. Told through stunning imagery and a tone that attempts to find definition somewhere within the confusing distortion that reminiscence and nostalgia provide. When he cries “hold keys to a Cuban flight you won’t ever ride/…Set sail!,” Vernon can’t decide if he feels removed from his life, defined in the public eye, or if he chooses to embrace the success he’s had. Either way, the rewards from Vernon’s unrelenting productivity extend into Repave; where the awe of nature and the inner conflict of introspection can complement each other to make something beautiful.

Volcano Choir will be playing in Minneapolis on Friday, October 18th, at the First Avenue Mainroom.

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Tags: weekly release spotlight radio k kuom university of minnesota free download streaming volcano choir repave review Jared Hemming

Weekly Release Spotlight: Washed Out

Posted on 9/2/2013

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"The Great Escape" -

Washed Out

Paracosm

Sub Pop

Written By: Alex Simpson


While many have moved on to the latest and greatest chill-wave imitators, Greene has underwent much maturation (for the better), and his latest full-length Paracosm is evidence of that.  

Fame came almost instantly for electronic producer Ernest Greene (Washed Out).  His lo-fi debut Life of Leisure earned him a record deal with Sub Pop and regular play at hipster retail chains across the planet, not to mention "Feel It All Around" was featured in the opening credits of the quirky hit series Portlandia. But in the last four years, while many have moved on to the latest and greatest chill-wave imatators, Green has underwent much maturation (for the better), and his latest full length Paracosm is evidence of that.

One of the biggest surprises on Washed Out's sprawling sophomore full-length is the use of more live instrumentation.  Paracosm flaunts over four dozen instruments, more than you'll hear on the last two Washed Out records combined.  You may not be able to pick them out individually, but some of the dreamiest tones on the record come from old keyboards such as the Mellotron and Optigan. It's certainly worth mentioning that Greene and producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, M.I.A.) managed to make these obscurities work with harps, bird noises, country samples, and many other interesting choices. 

Additionaly, Greene continues to blur his words on this record, and it's still working in his favor.  In most instances, the listener demands the right to sing along, but Greene's lack of enunciation allows his vocal to float over the top of beats like some obscure synthesizer.  It also allows the listener to "feel" his songs rather than dissect their parts or overall meaning. That implied "feeling" might be the only thing that is intrisically chill-wave, or at least for Greene it is- as we see his sound mature.

 

Paracosm is full of highlights -- "It All Feels Right", "Don't Give Up" and "Great Escape" are all fine examples. However Paracosm seems to be more of a whole work rather than a collection of singles. One should consider giving the whole record many complete spins.  The lack of a smash single makes Paracosm a more cohesive, rewarding listening experience.  Greene also keeps the listener within his little world, or paracosm.  By making use of natural sound- like birds chirping and wind- in "Entrance" and "Falling Back" and the crowd noise in "It All Feels Right" and "Don't Give Up" adds to the album's overall awareness of setting.

In regards to past Washed Out albums:  just because you can't feel it all around doesn't mean you can't feel it.  Paracosm is far from Life of Leisure or even Within and Without, but it's the difference that makes it interesting and fun to listen to. It's the reflection of a matured musician who is very comfortable in his place, and that always makes for a strong album.   

Washed Out will be visiting Minneapolis, September 12th to play a show at the First Avenue Mainroom you can buy tickets here; more tour dates available below. Check out "Great Escape" streaming and available for free download at the top of this review. 

Tour Dates


  September 2, 2013 
Club 9one9, Victoria BC
  September 3, 2013 
Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver Canada
  September 5, 2013 
W.O.W. Hall, Eugene OR
  September 6, 2013 
Mississippi Studios, Portland OR
  September 8, 2013 
Cesar Chavez Park, Sacramento CA
Launch Music Festival!
  September 10, 2013 
Fox Theater (CO), Boulder CO
  September 12, 2013 
First Avenue, Minneapolis MN
  September 13, 2013 
Metro, Chicago IL
  September 15, 2013 
Opera House (ON), Toronto Ontario
  September 16, 2013 
Corona Theatre, Montreal Canada
  September 18, 2013 
Terminal Five, New York City NY
  September 19, 2013 
Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA
  September 20, 2013 
Wilbur Theater, Boston MA
  September 21, 2013 
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia MD
Virgin Mobile Freefest
All Ages!
  September 23, 2013 
Cats Cradle, Carrboro NC
  September 24, 2013 
Georgia Theatre, Athens GA

Track List

  1. Enterance

  2. It All Feels Right

  3. Don’t Give Up

  4. Weightless

  5. All I Know

  6. Great Escape

  7. Paracosm

  8. Falling Back

  9. All Over Now

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click album to purchase

Tags: radio k kuom university of minnesota weekly release spotlight washed out paracosm free download review alex simpson

Weekly Release Spotlight: Weekend

Posted on 8/26/2013

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"It's Alright" -

Weekend

Jinx

Slumberland 

Written by: Jerod Greenisen

Weekend’s sophomore LP is a dream come true. That is to say that one dreams of a well crafted pastiche of the past three decades of rock music. For anyone else, Jinx is a fantastic record that synergizes post-punk harmonies and near classic 90’s noise-rock with contemporary chillwave-esq vocals and shoegaze filters. Although Jinx an atmosphere that is seasonally familiar it still feels rather cold, distant, and submerged.

“It’s Alright” features, to the best that the album can provide, the alleviating airy guitar harmonies that are ever so pleasantly reminiscent of 80’s romantics. While “Mirror” starts the album off by gesturing, very deliberately, at the aura of chillwave. “Mirror” can be very exemplary of the whole record when, after a short while, the rhythms are dialed to industrial clashes and Shaun Durkan’s echo-y strained vocals slink in and balance this cut’s natural seeming static and feedback heavy  layers. Most characteristic of the album’s composition would be the heavy drum clashes and expansive vocals on “July” and “Oubliette”.


 

Jinx not only invites the listener on a journey about growing up, homage, and ambition; but it also inspires that person to let go and fantasize about potential. Weekend captures the latter in fine form. Jinx pleads with the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of dreams by contextualizing premonitions with familiar masks.


Weekend will be coming to Minneapolis in early September, and swinging by Studio K for a live In-Studio on September 7th around 4pm CST. Stay tuned to Radio K for more coverage, tracks, and video from Weekend. 

Weekend - 2013 Tour Dates

 

9/4 Brillobox Pittsburgh, PA
9/5 The Loving Touch Ferndale, MI
9/6 The Cactus Club Milwaukee, WI*
9/7 7th St. Entry Minneapolis, MN*
9/9 Hi Dive Denver, CO*
9/14 The Void (San Diego Music Thing) San Diego, CA
9/18 Red 7 Austin, TX*
9/19 Replay Lounge Lawrence, KS*
9/20 Empty Bottle Chicago, IL*
9/21 Off Broadway St. Louis, MO
9/22 Beachland Tavern Cleveland, OH
9/24 Double Happiness Columbus, OH
9/25 The High Watt Nashville, TN
9/26 529 Atlanta, GA
9/27 Strange Matter Richmond, VA
9/28 Local 506 Chapel Hill, NC
10/19 The Ottobar (Unregistered Nurse Fest) Baltimore, MD*
10/20 Johnny Brenda's Philadelphia, PA*
10/23 Church Boston, MA*
10/24 Il Motore Montreal, QC*
10/25 The Garrison Toronto, ON*
10/26 Bug Jar Rochester, NY

* = co-headlining with Disappears

Weekend – Jinx (2013) Album Tracklist:

1. Mirror
2. July
3. Oubliete
4. Celebration, FL
5. Sirens
6. Adelaide
7. It’s Alright
8. Rosaries
9. Scream Queen
10. Just Drive

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Tags: radio k kuom university of minnesota weekly release spotlight weekend free download jinx it's alright

Weekly Release Spotlight: DIANA

Posted on 8/19/2013

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"Perpetual Surrender" -

DIANA

Perpetual Surrender

Jagjaguwar

Written by: Abbie Gobeli

Canada has unleashed a mad fury of great electronic records recently from natives Austra, Doldrums, and Crystal Castles. Toronto quartet Diana with their prior experience amongst the Canadian music scene will no doubt join the ranks of these fine artists with their stellar debut album, Perpetual Surrender released via Jagjaguwar on August 20th.

Blissful hooks coat the permeable dance-pop walls set up from the beginning track, “Foreign Installation.” Carmen Elle’s silken vocals round out the body of Perpetual Surrender enunciating each track including “New House” with emotional impact of anticipation and chances which fades in a cascade of vocals and white noise.

 

Jazzy ruptures of saxaphone infiltrate the succulent soundscape crafted by members Kieran Adams, Joesph Shabason, and Paul Mathew who all participated in jazz studies at the University of Toronto.  Adding brass instrumentation is becoming a trend in music as of late but Diana knows how to properly blends jazz and dream pop synth to enhance their musical structure. “Born Again” is sufficient evidence for this mixture.


Diana is currently touring with Austra and will be stopping through on September 1st at the Triple Rock Social Club.

Tags: weekly release spotlight DIANA radio K KUOM university of minnesota free download perpetual surrender

Weekly Release Spotlight: Ebony Bones

Posted on 8/12/2013

"Neu World Blues" -

Ebony Bones

Behold A Pale Horse

1987

Written by: Griffin Fillipitch

Many themes run throughout Behold, a Pale Horse, but accessibility might be the most unifying one. Thomas is innovative and even fearless at times, but she does not fear pop. If anything, pop should fear her- as she exploits it with predatory precision.

Behold, a Pale Horse is the second studio album from Ebony Bones, the stage name of British singer-songwriter-producer Ebony Thomas. It takes its name from a quote in the Book of Revelation. That's the book where things go bananas, and not in a fun Gwen Stefani/Laffy Taffy sort of way.

 

Given this source material, the ominous charge of the introductory title track is not a huge surprise. Strings from the Mumbai Symphony Orchestra warble in a minor key while drums thunder underneath. There is a surprisingly beautiful transition when this track blends seamlessly into the next one, “I See I Say,” which samples the string progression from the previous song and throws down a mean distorted vocal vamp. It's hear where one starts to see where Ebony Bones’ influences may lie; with the likes of M.I.A’s Kala or later Santigold. 

 

But that doesn't last too long. M.I.A. comparisons may come in handy, since Thomas does have British citizenship and a knack for biting hooks (she also uses a ton of acronyms), but relying on these relationships are not totally apt. She is more interested in the juncture of art-pop and punk than house and hip-hop.

Still, each of those genres gets at least a moment on Behold, a Pale Horse. It's dark and heavy feeling all the way through, but varied in its darkness and weight. “Bread & Circus” blends the intro's strings (one of several motifs on the album) with an airy, lively funk guitar line. The next song, “Morphine For the Masses,” takes the same strings and turns them into an unapologetic trap beat.

 

Ms. Bones is not afraid of experimentation, but she's not afraid of anthems either. Covering The Smiths with “What Difference Does It Make” reaches arena-rock heights with the New London Children's Choir, which is immediately followed by an industrial drum ‘n’ bass beat with Sleigh Bells like guitar on “Neu World Blues.”  Additionally, the piano outro on “I.N.V.I.N.C.I.B.L.E” is so catchy and self-serious, it's a surprise that Rihanna didn't snatch it for her own. “While the People S.L.E.E.P” is a dance/punk amalgamation that could and should be a huge crossover hit (and maybe one of the best songs of the year).

 

 
 

Tags: Ebony Bones Neu World Blues 1987 Behold A Pale Horse kuom radio k weekly release spotlight university of minnesota free download

Weekly Release Spotlight: Hunx & His Punx

Posted on 8/5/2013

"Kill Elaine" -

Hunx & His Punx

Street Punk

Hardly Art

Written by: Griffin Fillipitch

"Everyone loves me at the beauty shop," Hunx sings on Street Punk the third and latest effort from him and His Punx. He's probably right. Last year he went solo on "Hairdresser Blues," an album full of unhurried grooves and sugar sweet choruses that leaned more toward '60s girl-group pop than garage rock (he is always balancing somewhere between the two).

The guitars were still scratchy, but the heart beating behind them was incredibly sentimental. It was playful and sad, an effortlessly versatile album. It could easily find a home at any salon, however fancy the shampoo, however soft the towels.

 

So it was nice to hear him touch on the beauty shop for a moment on "Born Blonde," but don't let it fool you. Whatever blues he had, he has since left behind. He has regained the brazen demeanor of his earlier days and has thrown in a level of anger that he's never quite reached before. He is loud and pissed, but happy about it in a way that is not possible when you're all alone. His Punx are back and they make their presence felt.

 

Ten of the twelve tracks come and go in less than two minutes. The Punx are in and out in less than twenty. But that's more than enough time for Street Punk to leave a mark. It is speedy, unrestrained, ramshackle rock of the highest order. Hunx wails over furious guitars that sound like they want to, but cannot, drown him out. His best screams come when he's blasting out half-finished credos like, "Everyone's a pussy / Fuck you dude" and "Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous / Oh my God!"

On tracks like "You Think You're Tough" and "Mud in Your Eyes," Shannon Shaw (of Shannon and the Clams) provides the most melodic performances on the album. She has a lower and steadier voice than Hunx, and they play nicely off of each other. Still these tracks thrash pretty mercilessly.

 

That never really changes. The only break from thrashing is the near-four minute closer, "It's Not Easy," but even that is a messy dirge with caustic squeals from Hunx and two simultaneous guitar solos at the end. Street Punk is a pretty relentless album in terms of volume and edge. Still, it's hard to think of it as ‘punk,’ simply because it's too much fun. Just as it was on "Hairdresser Blues" when Hunx couldn't achieve pure sadness, here he can't achieve pure anger. There's something about him that is just inescapably fun. So that's what you've got here: an album that is super fun and mad at you for thinking so.

 

Street Punk Tracklist:


01. Bad Skin
02. Everyone's A Pussy (Fuck You Dude)
03. You Think You're Tough
04. Born Blonde
05. I'm Coming Back
06. Mud In Your Eyes
07. Street Punk
08. Don't Call Me Fabulous
09. Rat Bag
10. Egg Raid On Mojo
11. Kill Elaine
12. It's Not Easy

Hunx & His Punx -- 2013 Tour Dates


07.07.13 - Los Angeles, CA - Off Sunset Street Festival
08.08.13 - Brooklyn, NY - 285 Kent %*
08.09.13 - Philadelphia, PA - PhilaMoca % #
08.10.13 - Washington, DC - Comet Ping Pong % #
08.11.13 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar % #
08.12.13 - Belmont, NC - Haunted Mill + Mini Golf %
08.13.13 - Jacksonville, FL - Jack Rabbits #
08.14.13 - Orlando, FL - The Social #
08.15.13 - Birmingham, AL - The Bottletree #
08.16.13 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn #
08.17.13 - Nashville, TN - Exit/In # ^
08.19.13 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club #
08.20.13 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean #
08.21.12 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick Lounge #
08.22.13 - Toronto, ON - Hard Luck Bar #
08.23.13 - Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall #

% - w/ Chain & the Gang
* - w/ Juan Waters
# - w/ Hunters
^ - w/ Diarrhea Planet, The So So Glos

Tags: radio k weekly release spotlight hunx and his punx street punk free download kuom university of minnesota brody howard

Weekly Release Spotlight: Deafheaven

Posted on 7/22/2013

 

Deafheaven

Sunbather

Deathwish

Written by: Nathan Gerdes

We’ve heard it all before “the perfect summer album,” “sounds like a great day at the beach!”  The Black Metal genre has not typically produced anything of the like– until now. Summer music is often described as “light,” “breezy,” and “fun,” however more akin to a summer that humans can relate to; Deafheaven’s new album Sunbather is heavy, sprawling, and emotional. While Black Metal may focus on cold, ugliness, and evil, Sunbather invokes feelings of warmth, beauty, and joy. With Sunbather, Deafheaven shows the world that even Black Metal has room for dynamics as opposite as fire and ice.


"Sunbather" -

Sunbather takes influence from a variety of genres, from the abrasive playing style of Black Metal, to the hidden hooks of Shoegaze, and the dynamics and pure visceral ecstacy of Post-Rock. The common thread between all its various influences is the importance of atmosphere. Tremolo-picked Black Metal guitar leads run through Shoegaze effects, and quiet, slower sections break the monotony of blastbeats. For listeners unable to see the appeal of screamed vocals in metal music, this album may find success at increasing tolerance. While not an instrumental album by any means, Sunbather takes a shared cue from both Black Metal and Shoegaze and uses vocals not as a focal point, but as another layer of musical texture. Seamlessly transitioning through four epic compositions (each stands at over 9 minutes long) separated by three less-structured interludes, this album does not ask you to pick and choose your favorite songs or riffs, but instead invites you to let its warm, cathartic atmosphere wash over you as you listen.


Despite the relatively fluid nature of its structure, Sunbather has plenty of musical moments that stick out. The lead track “Dreamhouse” opens with guitar melodies that qualify as true earworms, and the outro to the last track, “The Pecan Tree” stands as one of the heaviest parts of the record, despite eschewing the blast beats and fast tempos that hallmark the album’s most metal moments. Similarly, the most affecting moments of the album are when songwriters George Clarke and Kerry McCoy combine their diverse influences in unexpected ways – See the screaming in the background of the melodic, drumless break partway through “Vertigo,” or the double-kick drumming that inserts itself into a down-tempo, Shoegaze-y section of “The Pecan Tree.” Sunbather is at its best when it tosses the unexpected at a spaced-out listener.


Vocalist George Clarke says Sunbather’s album cover is meant to evoke the sensation of staring into the sun with your eyes closed, and that the name “Sunbather” was chosen for its sense of idealism and humanity. This feeling is not only accurate, but also extends far beyond the cover. Warm and inviting, relaxed and unhurried, contemplative yet joyous, with Sunbather, Deafheaven’s latest release is rewriting the rules for both Black Metal and “the perfect summer album.”


Tags: radio k kuom weekly release spotlight deafheaven sunbather university of minnesota

Weekly Release Spotlight: Austra

Posted on 7/22/2013

“What We Done?”, the opening track ripples in minimally allowing the reverberant vocals to be distilled in their honesty and personalization that Stelmanis sets forth.  Olympia then erupts into a clash of percussive dance beats that become the driving force through each track.  Instead of letting the heaviness of the lyrics or pleas in “Forgive Me” saturate the record with sadness, electronica and classical beautifully blend together into a playful demeanor.  The tonal quality of the vocalists seep flawlessly between the light and dark emotions evoked.

Most of the record is intoxicated with dance pulsations until “You Changed My Life” exhales as an emotional relief.  It halts to a minimalist make up of trickling piano keys and a confession that is soon forgotten amongst attacking drums and burlesque instrumental that simmers throughout the end of the record to leave a lasting impression.

"Painful Like" is a great track off this record and is available for free download below. Click the Polaroid to check out Austra in Studio K. Also, Austra will be stopping through Minneapolis on September 1st at the Triple Rock Social Club.

"Painful Like" -

Austra

Olympia

Domino Records

Written by: Abbie Gobeli

Toronto sextet, Austra struck deep chords in their 2010 debut album, Feel It Break and have finally unleashed their darkness in this second full-length. Lead vocalist Katie Stelmanis reveals that Olympia is her first confessional record addressing the beginnings and endings of relationships along with her friends’ struggles. Olympia is a slow-rising dance tide that elevates you above  the mucked up life situations that surface lyrically.

Tags: radio k weekly release spotlight Deafheaven Sunbather

Weekly Release Spotlight: Bass Drum of Death

Posted on 7/15/2013

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"Crawling After You" -

Radio K favorites like FIDLAR, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall have helped to establish (but not entrench) this code in the past year. Each abandons it when necessary, but certain similarities between them and other garage punk acts cannot be denied. Listening to John Barrett, under the name Bass Drum of Death, map the landscape of his particular garage on his new self-titled LP is instantly gratifying when he adheres and continuously gratifying when he abandons.

It's a funny thing when a band self-titles an album that is not their first. GB City came out two years ago and the music that Barrett has churned up since the debut is apparently more deserving of his band's namesake. It's probably unwise to ascribe symbolic weight to the title of an album that sounds as  reckless and off the cuff as Bass Drum of Death, but here we are.


Recklessness is important to garage punk and the album is reckless in the ways we've come to expect from the genre's best. Tracks like “Crawling After You” and “I Wanna Be Forgotten” are blistering and overly noisy. Barrett's unrestrained wails reach impressive heights on “Fines Lines.” One of the songs is called “Bad Reputation,” either an homage to Joan Jett or a disregard for the song of same name (maybe a little of both).

Bass Drum of Death

Bass Drum of Death

Innovative Leisure

Written by: Griffin Fillipitch

There is a pretty stringent, sometimes contradictory code of conduct for anyone making a garage punk album. It needs to have guitar lines that are flimsy and determined at the same time. It needs a sneer from a lead singer that sounds pissed and indifferent at the same time. It needs sonics that are fuzzy and piercing at the same time. It needs to be fast. The rhymes should be easy.

bdod.JPG

BassDrumofDeath.jpg

There is a different kind of recklessness here too, though. It comes from the variety of speeds that Barrett can operate at, and the ease with which he slips in and out of them. His brand of garage rock is most notable for being willing to go a little slower. Almost half of the songs on the album last around four minutes, an unheard of figure for bands with similar sounds. “Such a Bore” is loose enough to accelerate to a sprint after two minutes of jaunt, and then slow back down again.


Most of the songs are unhurried in this way, but they never give way to sonic sludge, and they never get boring. A feeling abounds in the album that anything can happen. Anything doesn't happen. Bluesy riffs drift in and out, tempos change, but everything hits super hard. It's a straightforward record that keeps its options open.  

Tags: Radio K KUOM University of Minnesota Weekly Release Spotlight Bass Drum of Death review free download Bass Drum of Death

Weekly Release Spotlight: Boards of Canada

Posted on 7/1/2013

Boards-of-Canada-Tomorrows-Harvest-1024x1024.jpg

Boards of Canada
Tomorrow's Harvest

[Warp]

            There's a little 5-second horn flourish at the very beginning of "Gemini," the opening track on Tomorrow's Harvest, Boards of Canada's first release in seven years. It sounds like the musical tag that would accompany the logo of a film studio, after the previews and before the movie actually starts. The words "Castle Rock Entertainment" or "Paramount Pictures" may flash before your eyes when you hear it. You might picture a kid fishing in the night sky or a lion roaring or a creepy little girl pounding on a drum.

            Honestly, the horn intro on "Gemini" is dinky enough to sound more like the intro to a video you'd watch in a high-school science class, but you get the idea. There is a cinematic air about Tomorrow's Harvest that is impossible to shake. And if this album is the score to a hypothetical movie, it's a movie about some future horror. There are very few moments in the album that aren't imbued with a sense of impending doom. It's a patient, engrossing, richly textured album equally interested in its overall effect as the emotion stirred at any particular moment.

            In a recent interview, Michael Sandison said that Tomorrow's Harvest had a "deliberate VHS video-nasty element" running throughout it. He's clearly aware of the soundtrack-like quality of the album's scope and movement. It has been compared to John Carpenter's original soundtracks and the duo has acknowledged a loose lineage between the two, though the more direct influences (Fabio Frizzi, John Harrison, Mark Isham) are less recognizable names.

            The seven years that have passed since the last Boards of Canada release has given them the opportunity to hone in on the ominous drone that only occasionally defined their sound in the past. A current of dark synths is the album's defining feature. But the rhythms are more edgy and vital than the "drone" label might entail. It is their task to split and bend the walls of tone which otherwise move slowly. The percussion takes this task seriously.

            When more active melodies do emerge, like on "Nothing Is Real" and "Cold Earth," they are moments of respite from an otherwise sparse, harsh soundscape. Electronic music can be so fused with pop and ruled by hooks that hit hard and topple all over each other, an album this studied and challenging is a moment of respite itself. It's a breath of fresh (sinister, baleful, glacially slow) air. 

Written by Griffen Fillipitch, Radio K volunteer

"Reach for the Dead" -

Tags: Weekly Release Spotlight Boards of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest Radio K

Weekly Release Spotlight: King Tuff

Posted on 6/24/2013

kingtuff.jpg

King Tuff
Was Dead

[Burger]

 

Kyle Thomas aka King Tuff is royalty in the kingdom of fuzz rock who graciously lavishes all of his adoring subjects with catchy hooks and whirling guitar solos.  King Tuff’s 2008 LP Was Dead has been reissued and is well worth rediscovering.  Was Dead captured the attention of Sub Pop and led to his popular self-titled release last May.  Writing songs since the ripe age of 10 and dredging up music cred with a handful of bands; Thomas resurrected the moniker King Tuff to debut Was Dead on Colonel Records in 2008. Now, the record has taken on a life of its own and come back to remind us of where his royal highness began his garage pop journey.

Opening with “Dancing On You,” King Tuff unleashes a contagious lo-fi vintage pop with his unique whiny vocals that  makes one think of Johnny Depp in John Waters’ musical Cry-Baby. The only exception is that King Tuff wouldn’t shed a tear like Depp’s character; he would instead release “Sun Medallion” with it’s summery psychedelic flow of guitar improvisations. As one journeys further through this record, you are introduced to a variety of personalities including “Ruthie Ruthie” and “Kind of Guy.” These personalities guide you through their personal narratives with a light-hearted flare; no heartache or sad endings here.

King Tuff promises you a careless, fun summer vibe to enable you to dance through the worst part-time job. Click the polaroid and check out King Tuff in Studio K with us!

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Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer.

"Sun Medallion" -

Tags: radio k weekly release spotlight king tuff was dead

Weekly Release Spotlight: Hollow Boys

Posted on 6/17/2013

hollowboys.jpg

Hollow Boys
It's True

[Modern Radio]

Despite the strange weather 2013 has gifted us with, the outdoors seem to be picking up on some semblance of what one would call "summer": the temperatures are warming, the flowers are finally blooming, and the unborn calves are ripe for sacrifice. There are those that may react to this by heading to the beach and blasting their favorite and fuzziest of punk rock jams, while still others may wish to observe from indoors as they realphabetize the somber pop albums that constitute their vinyl collection (as the Smiths never truly go out of season). For those of us conflicted as to which of these paths to take, Hollow Boys have just what you need: a fresh batch of hard-hitting punk tunes with lyrics that hit even harder and aim directly for your heartstrings.
 
Lead track "Hater" well demonstrates the Hollow Boys' aesthetic, which they have coined as "Gloom Pop", with its initial warm guitar strums soon being joined by the chorus's cold, blunt statement of, "I hate you and I don't care if it makes me cruel." Said statement escorts the listener into a series of focused and dour pop tunes that clock in at a little over two minutes on average. No part of this serving size is put to waste, however, as each track incorporates healthy doses of reverb, feedback, harmonies, and brutally honest lyrics. It's True also does justice to the band's fantastic live presence, and at its heaviest of moments one can easily envision frontman and guitarist Ali Jaafar (of SMMNR and Heaven on Howitzers), bassist Liz Elton (of Kitten Forever), and drummer Monica Coleslaw intensely beating the most sound possible out of their respective instruments.
 
It's True is a thrilling listen, grabbing your attention immediately and refusing to let go. Some tracks have sections that demand to be shouted along with, such as the "I could never love her like I love you" chorus of "She" or the repeated inquiry of "How are you getting home tonight?" on "Test Patterns". Other tracks, such as "Slow Century", "Untrue", and my personal favorite, "Alone", simply request that you listen intently and soak up these gloomy vibes. The titular track serving as the album's conclusion flaunts these and every other essential element of the album, closing in a furious, feedback-soaked mantra of the title itself; and when it fades out and you realize just how quickly the experience went by, it's true that you'll be wanting more. It's True will hopefully be nothing less than a breakthrough album for the group, as I'm confident that it's the perfect soundtrack for fun in the sun, the beach, the car, the shade, and even at those summer calf sacrifices.
 

Written by Ross Koeberl, Radio K volunteer

 

 

"Hater" -

Tags: Weekly Release Spotlight It's True Hollow Boys Radio K

Weekly Release Spotlight: Shannon and the Clams

Posted on 6/10/2013

shannonsclams.jpg

Shannon and the Clams
Dreams in the Rat House

[Hardly Art]

Wolly Bully! This album is some good clean fun in the sun, surfs up, let's rock 'n' roll! That's Shannon and the Clams for you. This second album truly is a good time and much more condensed than Time Life's "Oldies But Goodies" CD collection.  Let alone enduring Bowzer's antics for the sake of a boost to a summer iTunes. Reeling in that oldies doo-wop is exactly what many of us have yearned for, for years. Remember the first time you put the Beach Boys on at a party?
 
"Yea man, this is some of my dad's vinyl. He's got all the underground hits."
 
"Your dad is so cool!"
 
Dreams in the Rat House goes a little deeper than their honest affinity for oldies like on "Hey Willy". Tracks like "Rat House" and "Bed Rock" spice it up with rockabilly flair and rapid punk ramps. One could listen to this album and find themselves very entertained, start to finish, by Shannon and the Clams' composition- think of a grab-bag of 45s from a garage sale. "I Know" is a fine example, with its psychedelic rock build up paired with Nashville's iconic country-girl vocal swooning. However, if one were to really give this album a close listen they'd find what many of the Oldies But Goodies were missing. The lyricism of "Unlearn" jerk the heart strings like much of Patsy Cline's best, and also carry the guttural groans and energy of Horton Heat psychobilly jams. 
 
Be sure to give Dreams from the Rat House a couple of spins, and let it really unravel. You'll be glad you did, and so will your summer! At its best points this album is the perfect inspiration for all the Kokomo day-dreams of hours spent in the summer sun with sand between toes and beach balls in the air. This album may have a funny way of connecting people through reminiscence, after all these were the same day-dreams that even your dad had one day, way back.
 
Shannon and the Clams open for Mikal Cronin with Is/Is at 7th Street Entry, June 10th, at 7:30pm. Father's Day is June 16th! 

Written by Jerod Greenisen, Radio K Digital Media Producer.

"Rat House" -

Tags: Radio K Weekly Release Spotlight Shannon and the Clams Dreams in the Rat House

Weekly Release Spotlight: Not Without Work and Rest by Last Good Tooth

Posted on 6/3/2013



Last Good Tooth
Not Without Work and Rest

[Team Love]

 

Fairs, festivals, block parties, and caravans of crust-punks are making their way into our lives in the Midwest. The Last Good Tooth sounds much like what one would hear at the  State Fair, Grand Ol’  Days, or on a train car bound for the expanse of the American  homeland. Not  Without Work and Rest, is  honestly some good old Americana that fits perfectly with the arrival of the warmer months which are  not themselves without the hours spent grinding through sweaty crowds, pavement radiance, and wafting aromas of  sweet corn and hot-dogs in our best attempts at American leisure.

“I am American, raise that red, white and blue” sings Penn Sultan on the track  “Problems Leave Out of Mouths” in which he acknowledges the connotation that others might not be convinced that  Last Good Tooth is anything extraordinary or exceptional. However this is what fuels him to sing and pluck his instrument with fervor and passion. In a very endearing way this record comes across rather humble; that the idea behind the music is more important than the music itself. That Last Good Tooth is more about the  inspiration  and the source of passion than about crafting the next big thing.

However, those of Last Good Tooth cannot hide that they are talented musicians. Each song introduces an enticing guitar melody that leads to an aged sounding voice of Sultan- who effortlessly but wearily carries the momentum into strings and rhythms that pull the listener into a romantic daydream of  rural summers and tales of scoundrels on the trail. Last Good Tooth does a fantastic job invoking the imagery  many are familiar of, but have yet to find energy within. Listening to Not Without Work and Rest  will get anyone daydreaming about the upcoming seasonal traditions but more importantly it’s the  soundtrack one’s own backyard. To speak the truth, everything is a bit more exciting with a soundtrack

Written by Jerod Greenisen, Radio K volunteer.

"Could You Read"

Tags: Weekly Release Spotlight Not Without Work and Rest The Last Good Tooth Radio K

Weekly Release Spotlight: Mikal Cronin

Posted on 5/20/2013

MC11.jpg

Mikal Cronin
MCII

[Merge]

Mikal Cronin is a man of contradictions. Lyrically, his songs will bounce between the desire for closure and the insecurity of his motives, or the pleasure of solitude but the fear of loneliness and isolation.  Musically, he spent the majority of 2012 playing bass for the Ty Segall Band, laying down a wall of fuzz for festival goers and simultaneously scaring the living hell out of talk show crowds (their Dave Letterman performance is especially chaotic/incredible). However, Cronin also shows a deep affinity for pop music, going so far as to record ukulele covers of the Proclaimers and Sixpence None the Richer. But despite his highly diverse and scattered musical pedigree, Cronin’s newest record is a terrific showcase of his talents as a songwriter and musical arranger, and is easily one of the most cohesive records to come out of the West Coast garage rock scene in recent years.

The most striking element of this record is how universal Cronin’s lyrical themes are, despite their highly personal nature. He gives the listener a full scope into his troubles and desires, but at no point does it feel alienating or difficult. His life may be on display with this record, but his problems are easily relatable. His music provides the perfect backdrop for his confessional lyricism, blending elements of 1970s power pop, ‘90s grunge, and West Coast garage rock, but with a keen understanding of arranging and layering. Cronin shows distinct confidence and mastery with instrumentation, giving each track the perfect amount of tension and release.

Recently, Adult Swim included one of Cronin’s tracks, “Better Man”, on their newest garage rock compilation, Garage Swim, a collection of unreleased garage rock tracks from bands like Bass Drum of Death, Thee Oh Sees, and King Tuff. Cronin’s inclusion is intriguing. Although the garage scene he’s affiliated with heavily influences his music, his songs have more in common with Blue Album-era Weezer than they do Black Lips or Ty Segall. Those who are expecting another entry into the West Coast garage rock canon with Mikal Cronin’s new album may want to look elsewhere. Sure, this album can get heavy, but that’s not the point. MCII relies more on the power of Cronin’s arranging than it does his fuzz pedal, and listeners will be more inclined to sing their hearts out than bang their head to this record. With MCII, Cronin turns his contradictions into choruses and has made one of the standout records of 2013.

Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer

 

 

"Weight" -

Tags: Radio K Weekly Release Spotlight Mikal Cronin MCII

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Thermals

Posted on 5/6/2013

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The Thermals
Desperate Ground

[Saddle Creek]

 There is a sense of urgency that is apparent all throughout Desperate Ground. Actually, it's not just apparent, it's the essence of the entire record. Those vocals stay overdriven as if they were running through a megaphone. Those guitars stay distorted and heavy. The only times it lets up are during the gaps between songs, so you've got maybe 20 seconds total to catch your breath on the entire record. It's like Reign in Blood in that sense, but even that record has a brief rainfall interlude. Now I'm not trying to surmise that this record is more brutal than the thrash masterpiece, but rather that its a similar jolt to the system. This record, like the probably irrelevant aforementioned disk, is short enough that it's like the musical equivalent of drinking an energy shot. It's brief enough to be consumed entirely during a slightly irritatingly long wait at the bus stop. It's shorter than a few Godspeed songs.
Yet what's most compelling about the record is not its immediacy. The record is truly carried by a sense of melody that works its way in to every track, and they are paramount to this recording. Guitar parts tend to be relatively lower register power chords, and there's nary a weedly-weedly solo or synth lead line to be found anywhere. You've got to pay attention to where those melodies lead you, because Hutch Harris has an ear for a catchy tune that reminds me a bit of Colin Meloy. Hear me out on this though. Put on that track "The Sunset" (shared below this text for the week of this record's feature, may I remind you) and tell me that it doesn't sound a bit like a Decemberists tune getting the crap blasted out of it. That's not a bad thing! Meloy's got some great tunes! And so does this record. And when the bus is running late again, you might just have enough time to put it on repeat.

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: The Thermals Desperate Ground weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Kurt Vile

Posted on 4/29/2013

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Kurt Vile
Wakin on a Pretty Daze

[Matador]

"Wakin, the dawn of day, and I gotta think about what I wanna say," mutters the long-haired, fully-matured Philly rocker in the opening lines of his fifth full-length.  Kurt Vile says everything he's ever wanted to say on Wakin On a Pretty Daze, an epic 70-minute double album with no snooze.

On his 2011 breakthrough, Smoke Ring for My Halo, Kurt Vile pawned off his lo-fi, bedroom rock for a more polished, hi-fi sound.  His washy guitars and slurred vocals came through clearer than ever before, an almost contradictory concept that paid off by attracting a wider, more mainstream audience.   He continues to explore the studio on Wakin, but this time around, his songwriting gets the listener more involved.  The opening track rolls us out of bed, clothes us and reminds us not to rush into the day.  The core of the album, a casual collection of deeply reflective songs, sends us on our way, keeping us mindful of our loved ones (KV has a family now) and what really matters when the day is done.  Then, in the quiet of the evening, we pour our aches and pains into finding that 'golden' guitar tone, one that encompasses this whole crazy cycle called 'life'.

Wakin is Vile's most linear, yet sprawling release to date.  Songs drift about for 6-10 minutes, remaining cool, calm and sufficiently stoned throughout.  No specific instrument or vocal melody stands out in the arrangements, yet the songs still resonate with the listener through their bold repetition.  Vile seems more comfortable on this cut too, utilizing more tracks to layer his guitars and experiment with synthesizers.  Not to mention the clever album art, which still shines proudly on a wall just off a popular Philadelphia train line.

Collectively, Vile's latest effort is beyond impressive.  Though you won't find him breaking out of his shell too much, Vile explores new sonic territory that fans old and new can get into.  Best of all?  Wakin is timeless.  Go ahead, listen to it so much you get tired of it; these songs will still sound fresh twenty years from now.

Written by Alex Simpson, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Kurt Vile Wakin On A Pretty Daze Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Rhye

Posted on 4/22/2013

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Rhye
Woman

[Republic Records]

LA duo Rhye, comprised of singer Mike Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal, prove that alternative R&B is here to stay with their debut release, entitled Woman. Milosh’s soothing and androgynous vocals blend together with the downtempo rhythms of Hannibal’s instrumentation. The group released two singles, “Open” and “The Fall”, in late 2012, doing so without much press. The singles quickly caught on and they announced that a full-length would be released on March 4th.

The album opens, fittingly enough, with the track “Open”; starting with a string and horn melody that unfolds into a soothing, chilled out song, topped by Milosh’s haunting falsetto and sparse lyricism. The instrumentation hints at melancholy undertones, and Milosh’s lyrics back that up, singing about broken love and trying to stay open. “The Fall” picks up the tempo and mood, proving to be one of the ‘dancier’ tracks on the album. “Last Dance” is another highlight, with the instrumentation of the song somewhat remnant of 70’s R&B, with a crunchy guitar line and stabbing horns. “Verse” brings the tempo back down to a crawl, and has the sparsest instrumentation on the album, which really allows Milosh’s emotions to come through on the track.

“Shed Some Blood” also has sparse instrumentation, but the funky guitar returns, along with the beautiful vocal harmonies Milosh creates on this track. “3 Days” brings the dance back, with a steady bass line and tasteful synth riff resonating throughout. “One of Those Summer Days” begins with a beautiful guitar line and is accompanied by Milosh’s stunning voice and lyricism, which holds true throughout the track. “Major Minor Love” and “Hunger” follow next, continuing to balance between melancholy and upbeat, both coming through in their own regards. The final track, “Woman”, proves to be a very solid title track, as this song in particular captures the way Hannibal provides very ethereal yet substantial instrumentation, allowing Milosh to create simply beautiful vocal harmonies.

With the release of Woman, one can only hope that Rhye continues as a project of these two musicians so our ears can be graced by beauty like this for years to come.

Written by Josh Olson, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: Rhye Woman Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Bleached

Posted on 4/8/2013

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Bleached
Ride Your Heart

[Dead Oceans]

If there's fun in dysfunctional relationships, Bleached have found it. On their first album , "Ride Your Heart", Jessica and Jennifer Clavin and company ride the highs and lows of a love life through music. The songs extend the addicting 3 chord LA punk of their previous band Mika Miko with added texture and instrumentation. That being said, if girl-group garage rock is your thing, you won't be disappointed.

The first song, "Looking for a Fight", comes out swinging with a psychobilly stomp that will get you moving. The lyrics, "You better stay clear / 'cause I'm looking for a fight" foreshadow the rest of the album's therapeutic venting. The feeling is evoked again by the excellent second track. However, the real magic happens during the third song, "Outta My Mind". During that track, the punk energy of the first two tracks appears to slow for a blissful moment of self reflection during a beautiful vibraphone solo midway through the song. While the solid garage rock runs rampant through out the album, these moments of quiet balance them well.

The album continues to delight with the reggae intro of "Dead in Your Head" and the power pop of "Waiting By the Telephone" and "Love Spells". The title track comes in almost secretly, mimicking the intro to a previous song. However, its lyrics, like "Hotels and endless nights / don't know what's going on inside", capture a certain confusion and drunken ambience in a way rarely heard. The song must be heard. Another highlight is "Guy Like You", a quieter, nicely-textured shuffle with slide guitar.

As a whole, the band shows a lot of strengths with this album. They know how to write a punk love song and have an excellent production taste informed by 60s and 70s pop. This album is a great listen and I hope to catch them live soon.

Written by Luke Taylor, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: Weekly Release Spotlight Bleached Ride Your Heart

Weekly Release Spotlight: Colleen Green

Posted on 4/1/2013

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Colleen Green
Sock it to Me

[Sub Pop]

With roots in the DIY scene in Boston and currently based in California, Colleen Green is catchy, lo-fi pop punk dynamo.  Her second release on Hardly Art Records, and first full-length LP, Sock it To Me, follows in the footsteps of her previous tapes, including Milo Goes to Compton and Cujo, mixing the sweet simplicity of the lyrical content with minimal drum machine beats and gritty power chords.

This album is fun – a lot of fun.  It's as simple as that.  The first track “Only One” is a catchy ode to the perfect boyfriend.  Lyrical themes reminiscent of high school love continue in track two, the upbeat and synth heavy “Time in the World”, and throughout the album.  Her characteristic girl-group meets grunge style, especially evident in the track “Every Boy Wants a Normal Girl”, is charming and irreverently cool: “...sometimes I wish I was a normal girl / like the ones at my school / popular and so cool”.  Think Little Peggy March meets The Ramones.                                   

Sock it To Me is an immensely listenable album.  Colleen Green is a one-woman show that doesn't disappoint.

Written by Emily Ewen, Radio K volunteer.

Colleen Green - "Time in the World"
Download

 

Tags: Colleen Green Sock It To Me Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Blue Hawaii

Posted on 3/25/2013

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Blue Hawaii
Untogether

[Arbutus Records]


Montreal’s Arbutus Records has pumped out another act to drool over. Blue Hawaii has released their second album, Untogether. This sophomore attempt is a bit of a diversion from their 2010 release, Blooming Summer, but still presents the compositional nature of fleeting cohesion and predictability with fluttering soundscapes that makes Untogether a much appreciated release.

This album certainly has it share of captivating moments. The album starts of with the track “Follow” which beckons the listener to do just that, as an apparition of a voice begins to come out of the feathery droplets of a dream like soundscape.   Listening to the bouncing beats and glossy waves of bass on the track “In Two” directly into the next track “In Two II” is possibly one of the better moments of the whole album, as it takes a very pleasing turn in tempo and accentuates the strengths of “In Two” to create an atmosphere fitting for many dancefloors.

Untogether is fine addition to 2013 and a wonderful statement from Arbutus Records that they are more than their most recent success. Additionally so, they will continue to produce entertaining acts such as Doldrums and Blue Hawaii to flesh out their sound to define their label, or so much as they care to admit. Blue Hawaii’s new album is an entertaining listen and worth several spins, as nothing is quite the same even after multiple run-throughs.

Written by Jerod Greenisen, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Blue Hawaii Untogether Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Virgins

Posted on 3/18/2013

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The Virgins
Strike Gently

[Cult Records]

Strike Gently is the first official release out on Cult records. This sophomore release dropped 5 years after The Virgins hit the music scene in 2008. After reading many articles it only made me more curious as to what the album will reveal about the time it took to create this ten-song compilation.

Reviewing the album in the back yard of my dad’s house in Las Vegas, in sun kissed weather; this album is the perfect start to spring break. Kicking back and listening to Strike Gently feels like a forgotten record that is what I needed to hear. Strike Gently release in perfect timing to get stoked for summer and all the jamz that we are getting ready to enjoy. Although Strike Gently may be much different from the indie-disco aura of their self-titled release in 2008, The Virgins came back swinging. This Brooklyn based quartet takes us back to the classic rock sounds of the 70’s and 80’s. Strike Gently’s flow is surprisingly dynamic. The jams range from romantic rock with Blue Rose Tattoo to the skuzzy sexy hit Flashback, Memories, and Dreams. It seems the five-year break was worth the wait. Donald Cumming, the lead singer holds down that Lou Reed esque voice and the hopeful guitar riffs and melodies that are iconic to The Virgins, but for any Julian Casablancas or Strokes fans there is a definite trace of some thing else. Julian Casablancas is the owner of Cult Records and it seems after listening to Strike Gently that Donald and the boys have picked up a little bit of that Strokes energy. The Virgins are defiantly playing on that post-punk New York aesthetic and are doing a smashing job. And not surprisingly however, considering they are Brooklyn natives.

This reinvention of the Virgins is a great listen and if you are looking for a nostalgic classic rock wormhole I’d say this album is for you. Some of my favorite picks were Impressions of You and Travel Express (from me). The Cult Tour is on the loose!

Written by Candice Hafalia-Yackel, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: The Virgins Strike Gently Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: STRFKR

Posted on 3/11/2013

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STRFKR
Miracle Mile

[Polyvinyl]

STRFKR wants you to dance. But you have to look cool while doing it. Over the course of their existence the Portland based outfit has married style and substance time and time again, with just enough intrigue to keep the listener intrigued. Between their controversial names (Starf**ker, Pyramid, Pyramidd, then the radio-friendly STRFKR) odd song titles (Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second, for example), and visual eclecticism, this band wants to be known, but not fully understood. With Miracle Mile, they accomplish just that.

This is STRFKR’s third release, following Reptilians in 2011, and it keeps the hipster kids shaking their hips from start to finish. Lead single While I’m Alive is the indie response to the #YOLO craze, without the annoying Drake T-shirts and sorority girl antics. It has a better baseline, too.

Leave it All Behind is perhaps the centerpiece of STRFKR’s current sound, with left-of-center synth patterns and indomitable groove. The band is at their best when they let their melodies soar, and the end of this track transports the listener to whatever planet Joshua Hodge lives on.

Other high points on the album include YAYAYA and Kahlil Gibran, which are other refinements of their overall sound. Atlantis is another burner, with high-pitched synths punctuating Hodge’s woozy vocals to great effect.

Overall, Miracle Mile is not an album that will change the world. But it accomplishes its central goal of keeping its fans and attracting new ones with its catchy, slick sound. And if everyone committed themselves to the aesthetic that STRFKR does, we’d have one cool, bright, and groovy world.

Written by Erik Lundborg, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: STRFKR Miracle Mile Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Youth Lagoon

Posted on 3/4/2013

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Youth Lagoon
Wondrous Bughouse

[Fat Possum]

Youth Lagoon’s newest release is imaginative, whimsical, and curious.  The solo artist, 23-year-old Trevor Powers, leaves you in a trance during his second album titled Wondrous Bughouse.  His songs are layered with synthesizers and delays, all topped with thought-provoking lyrics about life, others, and himself.

The cover art is just as interesting as the music behind it.  What looks to be a middle schooler’s watercolor interpretation of unwound intestines revealing psychedelic worlds, the image keeps you wondering what it all means.  The longer you stare, the more you observe, and the same can be said for the album’s music.  With every listen, you hear new synthesized effects and quirky embellishments.  Just like the album art, Lagoon’s tunes are a journey through unnatural worlds.  Songs like “Attic Doctor” resemble an underwater circus, while “Raspberry Cane” sounds something similar to an exotic graduation ceremony at Disney Land.

There’s hardly a song under the 5-minute mark on this 51-minute album, but nevertheless, the tracks cohesively tie together through sustained instrumentals.  It’s definitely worth letting the songs flow together instead of playing them on shuffle.  Wondrous Bughouse already has two singles, “Mute” and “Dropla,” but also keep an ear out for “Attic Doctor.”

Powers’ biography found on Fat Possum’s website states that his inspiration comes from various bizarre thoughts he has about spiritual worlds and psychological elements.  Through his fascination of mortality, he transfers his fears and realizations into lyrics and melodies.  Powers experiments with these ideas and uses music to organize them.

This is Powers’ second full album following his 2011 release The Year of Hibernation.  Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse is released on March 5, 2013.

Written by Meagan Nouis, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Youth Lagoon Wondrous Bughouse Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Fidlar

Posted on 2/25/2013

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FIDLAR
FIDLAR

[Mom + Pop]

It’s all fun and games until someone gets baked and falls off his surfboard. This is the essence of FIDLAR, the Southern California-based punk rock act that is pushing the boundaries of the word “abrasive. “The band’s acronym, “F**k It, Dog, Life’s a Risk” sums up their aesthetic. The band is a four piece group from Los Angeles, and their debut album feels full of risk. Their preferred songwriting inspirations are as follows: Surfing, skating, smoking, and having a lack of money due to the first three activities.

Very few songs on FIDLAR’s self-titled debut clock in past the two minute mark, the exception being the 7 minute opus “Cocaine” at the album’s rear. The rest of the album features rip-roarin’ pop punk gems that ease their way into your ear whether you think their songs are  PC or not. (They’re not.) Shades of Blink 182, Green Day, and the Black Lips come through in every track.

“Cheap Beer” is the lead single; an irreverent ode to getting drunk off of whatever is left of your minimum wage paycheck that features the shout-along, “I! Drink! Cheap! Beer! So! What! F**k! You!” They channel their inner Pixies with the catchy-as-all-get-out “Gimme Something,” and the riffs on “Blackout Stout” are as crunchy as can be. “Max Can’t Surf” is an ode to poor friend Max, who needs to take off his skinny jeans and trade them in for board shorts if he wants to get his skills up to par. The rest of the songs are searing, catchy, and LOUD.
 
Overall, despite the album’s immaturity, the band shows a promising ear for catchy melodies that should serve them well going forward. That is, if they can scrounge up enough pennies from the couch for bus fare to the studio.

Written by Erik Lundborg, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Fidlar Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Indians

Posted on 2/18/2013

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Indians
Somewhere Else

[4AD]

2012 was a hell of a year for Søren Løkke Juul. The 33-year-old resident of Copenhagen, Denmark, began the year with a promising new project called Indians, and played his first show under this moniker in February. In March he published a low budget YouTube video for one of his songs which eventually got clicks from the folks at one of the foremost independent record labels - 4AD. It was the kind of break that every aspiring musician hopes for. By early September he was signed, but by then he was used to the excitement. He'd spent the summer gigging with the likes of Bear in Heaven, Other Lives, Lower Dens, Dan Deacon and Beirut.

But this is beside the point. What's important here is the record. Somewhere Else is one that is all about contrasting juxtapositions and combinations. The most obvious would be the combination of traditional acoustic guitar playing and occasional bowed string instrumentation with spacious synthesizer tones. More abstractly, there is the combination of great ambition with great modesty. The modesty lies not within what is obviously audible in terms of instrumentation and arrangement, but rather what isn't played, and that's what makes it distinctive. As the album progresses, one begins to understand the minimalist nature of its construction. If I had to give a quick Tweet-length description of how Somewhere Else sounds, I'd say it's kind of like the quiet bits in Sigur Ros songs that happen before or after the loud ones. While that's really not descriptive enough, it conveys the point that this record is about comfort. There's no unsettling crescendos with glorious release, but that's not a bad thing. It's far less draining and exhaustive than that practice. Indians is fine with cutting a track that is no more than a voice over a warped piano backed by some strings ("Melt"). The arrangement is effective, so what else is needed?

I've come up with a better description to describe how this record sounds, but it's quite a bit more conceptual. Remember how I said Somewhere Else is about comfort? What it really feels like is the tranquility that accompanies the sensation of waking or drifting in to sleep. As long as that feeling is in tact, nothing is wrong. When it ends, you're stuck with the outside world. I guess that's why there's a "Repeat" button.

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: Indians Somewhere Else weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Posted on 2/11/2013

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra
II

[Jagjaguwar]

The second record from psychedelic groove-rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra, titled II, finds the band moving into a more introspective and progressive sound from their stellar self-titled debut album in 2011, an album that showcased the band’s ability to churn out hazy grooves and catchy melodies drenched in a sea of reverb. Since their initial introduction into the indiesphere with their highly acclaimed first single “Ffunny Ffriends”, UMO have transformed into a band that is just as comfortable exploring the sonics of psychedelia as they are delving into dark lyrical material, and the new record shows they can combine the two without losing any of the listenability of their first album.
 
A theme of social alienation consists throughout the record, from the dark murky single “Swim and Sleep”, an exploration into the exhaustion of living, to the punky stomper “No Need For a Leader”, a song lyrically based around anarchy as utopia. Although II offers a heavier load of lyricism than it’s predecessor, the album loses none of the catchiness and groove of the debut, much of the vibe being rekindled on the sunny haze of “Faded In the Morning” or the laid-back pocket of lead track “From the Sun”.

Although the follow-up may not be as immediately satisfying as the debut, repeated listens prove this record to show a great deal of progression for the band as well as a much more succinct dexterity of sounds, rhythm, and groove. For fans of early Pink Floyd, Grizzly Bear or Foxygen, the newest record from UMO is a must-listen.

Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Unknown Mortal Orchestra II weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Growlers

Posted on 2/4/2013

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The Growlers
Hung at Heart

[Everloving]

The latest record from California psych-surf rockers The Growlers, and third full-length overall, finds the So-Cal five-piece successfully expanding their sonic palette of sounds while still retaining their heartbroken lyrical core, making for a collection of sunny yet sorrowful odes to ‘60s garage rock. Despite the obvious influences of vintage surf-rock throughout the record, the band keeps their sound relevant by combining their classic sound with modern psychedelic and roots rock influences, such as Deer Tick and Walkmen.
 
Ditching much of their lo-fi quirkiness from past records for a more crispier, retro sound, the sonic shift has proven to benefit the emotional core of these songs, such as the dark imagery of “No Need for Eyes” or the lovelorn hopefulness of “Someday”. Brooks Nielsen’s lyrical abilities sink in deeper than ever on this record, showing a band that can fully accept maturing without losing their swanky sound that attracted listeners in the first place.
 
Hung At Heart not only shows a band that can perfectly blend hazy philosophy with squelching beach grooves, but also shows how well a band can take their obvious influences and turn it into something fresh and lyrical, proving that surf rock can still deliver something meaningful and heartfelt. For fans of ‘60s garage rock and modern roots rock, this album is a must.

Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Hung At Heart The Growlers Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Foxygen

Posted on 1/28/2013

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Foxygen
We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

[Jagjaguwar]

Foxygen’s new album is a freewheeling journey through a modernized 1970s. The album’s title—We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic—is only the beginning of the nostalgic, psychedelic era.  This is the band’s second studio-released album following their 2011 release of Take the Kids Off Broadway.

The young band members, Sam France and Jonathan Rado, use a variety of instruments, tempo changes, and key changes throughout the album’s nine songs.  The album starts off with the ear-catching and mellow tunes of “In the Darkness” and “No Destruction.”  Just imagine watching Forrest Gump, and this album would fit perfectly as the soundtrack with its fun and sentimental sound.  By the fourth track, Foxygen sings a catchy, swaying melody about San Francisco where we hear female vocals for the first time.  The album adds a bit of funk with songs like “Shuggie” and “Oh Yeah” while still carrying the Beatle-esque electric guitar riffs and piano jams.  Peace & Magic closes with a rock ballad that creatively ties together their use of instruments and expansive sound.

Foxygen’s newest compilation brings you back the good ol’ days of love and experimental music.  Strong singles such as “Shuggie,” “San Francisco,” and “On the Mountain” are sure to leave a reminiscent impression.  The two band members reside from New York and will soon begin a tour through Europe.  We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic was released on January 22, 2013.

Written by Meagan Nouis, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: Foxygen We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Spyrals

Posted on 1/21/2013

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The Spyrals
The Spyrals

[Mock Records]

Hailing from sunny California, The Spyrals have released their debut self-titled album via Inside the Moon Records and Mock Records last year. Even though the band comes from a bright and colorful state, the album color is in black and white. The background looks foggy and the band members look like they are in England, or even our very own Duluth, in the 1980s. In a world of MP3s and internet downloads instead of the physical and tangible music of the past, this band has put serious thought and creativity into their image.

The psych-rock trio transcends time with the band’s psychedelic sound that transports you to another decade. The album kicks off with “Lonely Eyes,” which is bittersweet. It has a strong rhythmic backbone, but the hesitantly hopeful melody and the lyrics speak of seeking love and the heartfelt ache that loneliness brings. The next track, “Disguise” is full of guitar and vocals that drip with the swagger and attitude that can only come from the sixties and seventies. “The Rain” features the harmonica and maracas, which sound fantastic in this song. Overall, The Spyrals are true rock ‘n roll with thumping bass and drums, strong and melodic guitar, echo-y and authentic vocals, and straight-from-the-heart lyrics. The album is pumped full of raw, high energy and soul.

In a world where digital rules and analog drools, it’s great to find a band that hasn’t left the good ol’ fashioned guitar and drums to another decade. The spirit of the golden age of rock is here to stay with The Spyrals. We can’t wait to hear more from this band in the years to come.

Written by Angela Ross, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: The Spyrals Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Crystal Castles

Posted on 1/14/2013

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Crystal Castles
III

[Fiction / Casablanca / Universal Republic]

To begin talking about Crystal Castles, one must address the photo encasing this  work. Even before listening the tone is set in a picture of Fatima al-Qaws cradling her son Zayed who is suffering from the effects of tear gas after participating in a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen. If the album can be summed up in one word, it should be “warning”. Crystal Castles vocalist Alice Glass puts it this way "There's lots of themes, but feeling, like, oppressed… A lot of things not personally happening to us, since the past record, but people we know, kind of profoundly influenced everything. Like, I didn't think I could lose faith in humanity any more than I already had, but after witnessing some things, it just… the world is a dystopia. I'm one step away from being a vigilante. I've thought about it."With this in mind it should add depth to her chilling voice echoing on "kerosene" - "I'll protect you from all the things I've seen."

The electro duo’s third album, entitled (III), is an honest attempt at capturing the anxiety towards suffering on tape. And interestingly enough “(III)” is Ethan Cath’s first attempt at solo-ing a production, who has a “strictly no computers” ethic, preferring to put the process straight to tape. This ethic may be conducive to the album’s high strung and hopeless feeling within. There is no way to escape the crushing intensity and anxiety of this album, even when it becomes apparent the duo is well aware of its prowess in EDM circles. This awareness is precisely what makes Crystal Castles so honest and keeps them afloat in a genera that seemed to be birthed from their initial release. The high energy and rave-like beats are thrown through this filter of Crystal Castle’s dystopian design, but EDM is always within the periphery.

Crystal Castles’ unique quality comes to surface, most transparently; on the tracks “Sad Eyes” and “Telepath” were it would seem no amount of energy was spared in adding layer over layer of expensive, frosty, synth to hold-fast the over-powering tension from the piercing drum and echo of Glass’ angelic shrieking. Much of Glass’ lyricism seems to come from a place of higher understanding, or at least we are led to believe she is infallible, in her attempts to both sooth and shock her audience. In each track it seems Glass is both frustrated and endearing towards her audience that is unable to comprehend the crushing weight of imperfection and grinding suffering that is rampant in modernity. Or, much like a mother cradling her idealistic son in the aftermath of his attempts to change the world for the better.

Written by Jerod Greenisen, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Crystal Castles Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Tara King Th.

Posted on 1/7/2013

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Tara King Th.
Uncolored Past (part I & II)

[Moon Glyph]

Leave it to a French group to pull off a wonderfully retro sounding psychedelic pop record. Uncolored Past (part I & II) is actually a compilation of the two EPs that this group put out in 2012. Let's ignore that year for a moment and just pretend that this is a lost gem of space age pop made by a contemporary of artists like Jean-Jacques Perrey or Esquivel. Only tracks like "The Drunk and the Bliss" which prominently feature guitar make this release sound slightly similar to anything we've seen in the post-Stereolab/Broadcast era we've begun semi-recently due to the untimely demise of both of those groups. Comparisons to those two acts shouldn't put one in a box or label them as a clone, but rather serve to indicate that they are the new bearers of the analog psychedelic pop torch; the ones who look to unturned stones of the past for ideas for the future. Both of these EPs are dripping with vintage electric harpsichords and mellotrons, often using them to fill the range usually occupied by a guitar. Bass tones tend to be upfront and punchy. One track even has the drums panned hard left. Fortunately the recordings are not particularly low in fidelity or ancient sounding, so they fill out marvelously when listened to on a good pair of headphones, but I can't help but think they'd sound best on a warped old vinyl that has been resurrected after sitting under a stack of Decca singles produced by Joe Meek for decades. Tara King Th. (the "Th." stands for "theory") have been together since 1999 and until now have maybe received the most attention for an Amps cover they did for a Kim Deal tribute record. We can only hope that these two EPs finally win them the attention they have deserved for years.

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Weekly Release Spotlight Tara King Th

Weekly Release Spotlight: Gap Dream

Posted on 12/30/2012

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Gap Dream
Gap Dream

[Burger Records]

I've seen Phantom of the Opera enough to know by now that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and yet I couldn't help myself when it came to listening to Gap Dream's self titled debut album. All of the songs were recorded and produced by one man, Gabriel Fulvimar, who also wrote all but one track (that being a cover of obscure early garage rock band The Squires). The album was also put out on California-based Burger Records, which is home to just about any relevant throwback garage punk act of the last half-decade (King Tuff, Hunx & His Punks, Nobunny, Black Lips). Finally, it was endorsed on Twitter by the kings of sounding like you weren't meant for this era, Girls (R.I.P. Girls). Put all that together and you can't entirely blame me: you've probably surmised what this is going to sound like, too.
 
It's a blissful experience, then, when Gap Dream takes the time to prove you wrong. Sure, there are a lot of elements present here that you can't say you didn't see coming: psychedelic walls of droning guitar punctuated by the occasional whiny riff, some punchy basslines, unintrusive keyboards, and chilled-out harmonies. Nonetheless, Fulvimar pieces these together with fresh fervor and originality for as long as it takes for you to realize that you may have entirely underestimated this album. For me, that kick came with "Greased", in which synthesizer take the forefront, the guitar drones adopt a funky texture, and the bass switches from punchy to throbbing. I can't say that I've found many other albums in this field that feature songs I would play during a blockbuster heist scene.
 
Clearly, when you drop your garage rock conceit (or come without any to begin with), you'll find Gap Dream a force to be reckoned with, and with an ear for hooks to match (I'm still humming them as I write this). The album holds a few more charming treats, like gospel organ on "Scary Dennis", synthesized Gary Glitter "Rock and Roll" drums on "Heart",  a host of smarmy couplets in the lyrics, and a healthy dose of ghoulish laughter. These ingredients combine to create gems like aforementioned cover "Go Ahead", which rambles into sunshine pop territory, and opening and closing tracks "58th St. Fingers" and "Slave", which sound so beachy and brooding that I imagine them scoring a viking funeral on a burning surfboard. Moreover, what these ingredients truly make is a powerful, well-crafted album that makes me want to pack up my car for a hot summer's day on the beach (R.I.P. summer days on the beach).

Written by Ross Koeberl, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Gap Dream weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Memory Tapes

Posted on 12/24/2012

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Memory Tapes
Grace/Confusion

[Carpark]

Memory Tapes could be described as an electronic music producer, but perhaps referring to him as a weaver of sound collages would be more appropriate. This is in a different sense than producers such as J Dilla and the Avalanches. Memory Tapes, real name Dayve Hawk, uses practically every sound and tambre at his disposal to create the music heard on Grace/Confusion. A synth tone appearing during a verse may never appear again; sounds appear to come out of nowhere and disappear as quickly as they entered. This shows a different side of musicianship that is often overlooked - rather than cramming as many notes and scales in to a song as possible, Hawk shows a mastery of the tonal palette. He also uses some live instrument in the form of an electric guitar, an instrument frowned upon by too many annoying synth purists.
 
It's worth discussing how Grace/Confusion plays in to the progression of Memory Tapes' back catalogue. The debut Seek Magic had lo-fi blissed out bedroom producer charm. Its follow-up Player Piano proved to be a substantial departure, turning down the reverb a notch and emphasizing songcraft. This record kind of sits in between those two, yet still goes in its own direction. There are passages that are more ambient and spacious than anything on the debut, and some that are more immediate than any on the sophomore release. There are ginormous synthesizers that call one to the dancefloor more than these earlier releases could have suggested. There are also some tones that hint at a possible fondness for overlooked New Wave artists like Red Rockers or the Icicle Works. Memory Tapes shows the sign of a true artist in that he is consistently evolving rather than attempting to recreate the same product with each release, and that's why we are always interested in what he has for us.

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: Memory Tapes Grace/Confusion weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Casket Girls

Posted on 12/17/2012

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The Casket Girls
Sleepwalking

[Graveface]

I've been listening to Sleepwalking ever since it was put into Radio K rotation early last month, and yet it was only yesterday that I found out the group was affiliated with Black Moth Super Rainbow. Frankly, I'm astounded that I hadn't realized it on my own, considering the opening track "Walking on a Wire" begins with a cough-syrup thick guitar riff that could only be attributed to Ryan Graveface, who plays bandleader with this new project. Graveface has certainly had a busy year, what with this album on the heels of BMSR's Cobra Juicy, both of which were issued on his own label, Graveface Records (which is also home to two fantastic local artists, Haley Bonar and Kid Dakota).
 
Aforementioned opener "Walking on a Wire" consummates with the line "Maybe we weren't meant for these times", which seems apt considering the group's origins: Graveface approached Savannah, Georgia street performers Elsa and Phaendra Greene with the hopes of forming a modern girl group in the vein of 1960s group the Shangri-Las. When Graveface's dreamy yet dubious shoegaze instrumentals are utilized by BMSR, they create an arresting, abrasive environment. When stripped of intimidating elements like Tobacco's vocoder verses and synthesizers that sound like dolphins on tranquilizers (that's a compliment), the same aesthetics play backdrop for a chilled-out gothic girl group revival just as well.
 
I'm still almost surprised that all of these elements work together so well. Sleepwalking has enough experimental ingenuity to avoid hiding behind its walls of sound with danceable "Heartless" and spoken-word ghost story "The Visitor". At the same time, the album subverts the common shoegaze pratfall of unmanageable, drawn-out sonic experiments in favor of fine-tuned pieces of pop like "Give It All Away" and standout title track "Sleepwalking". Considering the fates of most girl groups in their heyday (if you were in the Ronettes, you had a 1/3 chance of being psychologically abused by Phil Spector!) and the futility of recent indie revivals (what ever happened to the Pipettes?), forming one in 2012 may seem like a vain venture. The Casket Girls, however, show enough promise that I can't help but expect great things from them. I mean, girl groups are flourishing in South Korea right now, so if that's what it takes...

Written by Ross Koeberl, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: The Casket Girls Sleepwalking weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Babies

Posted on 12/10/2012

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The Babies
Our House on the Hill

[Woodsist]

Having a case of the cold-weather blues? The Babies can help with that. Our House On The Hill, the sophomore album from the band that features Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls and Kevin Morby of Woods is full of infectious hooks to carry you through the dark days of winter.  Though they hail from Brooklyn, the Babies primarily wrote and recorded this album in Los Angeles, and the sound lies somewhere in the middle of the East Coast-West Coast geographical spectrum. It's the perfect intersection of slow-burning moodiness and sunny twang.

Opening track "Alligator" immediately draws the listener in with it's energetic rhythm and Morby's all-too-familiar laments: "Life is funny/Life's a laugh/Life is lonely/Yeah, it's a drag." This whimsical self-loathing creeps up again on "Slow Walkin", while songs like "Mess Me Around" and "Mean" are full of aggressively charming sneers; a delicate balance of sincerity and facetiousness. While the album's first half is filled with rollicking guitar riffs, songs on the second half of the album are more mellow and stripped down. Ramone's folk-tinged vocals shine most as she sings of melancholy wanderlust on "See The Country".  The album repeatedly touches on youthful themes of desperation, confusion, and isolation, yet it's surprisingly endearing and hopeful, lifting your spirits with catchy melodies that will be a struggle to get out of your head.

With this album, The Babies have matured and progressed without losing sight of their delightfully messy roots. Noticeably more crisp and refined in its production than their lo-fi, ramshackle debut, Our House On The Hill is evidence of a band that have established themselves beyond just side-project status.

Written by Rachel Dorn, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: The Babies Our House on the Hill weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Clinic

Posted on 12/3/2012

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Clinic
Free Reign

[Domino]

Clinic, the Liverpool noise-rock band released their seventh studio album, Free Reign. Known for their trademark surgical masks, off-kilter vocals, and nonconventional song structure, Clinic decided to release another record that synthesizes their old sound with the modern indie-pop.

On first listen, it’s difficult to miss the influence that modern dream pop has had on Clinic’s sound. It’s important to note that this is not Clinic’s first experimentation with this sound – Bubblegum was the first record to do so. However, this album is not only an amalgamation of the drone-induced pop that permeates today’s indie scene; it is also a showcase for Clinic’s ability to push the envelope.

In the past, Clinic’s form of pushing the envelope usually surfaced as using noise and organs powder their album. On Free Reign, they have opted to minimize the noise and replace it with different instruments. Most notably, the elusive saxophone appears in many tracks. It lends its serpentine, cunning sound to the foundation that Clinic lays; it’s almost like icing on a cake.

Overall, Free Reign is exactly what needs to be seen from Clinic right now. It shows how easily monotonous dream-pop can be changed to express different emotions. Furthermore, it shows that Clinic is still functioning as an astute group of musicians. I can’t even begin to predict where they are going to go, musically, from here.

Written by Ben Chin, Radio K volunteer.

Clinic - "Miss You"
Download

Tags: Clinic Free Reign weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Wiping Out Thousands

Posted on 11/26/2012

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Wiping Out Thousands
This Came First

[self-released]


Wiping Out Thousands are Twin Cities electro-rock duo Alaine Dickman and Taylor Nelson. Following up their successful Reaction Machine EP, they unleash their debut LP, This Came First released on October 23rd. They invite you to their underground of sonorous strata.

“More Than Five Million” welcome you with vocals belting an anthem and layered musicality rushing in to flow along. Silken vocals and lively guitar ride atop thrashing sonar waves in “Creation.” Silent suspensions erupt into diverse paces that entice you to wonder what the sonar waves will throw at you next.

This Came First is similar to a theatrical experience with “Follow Me into the Wake” as a transitional intermission.  But this intermission won’t allow you to get out of your seat while a dark atmosphere unfolds. “Follow Me into the Wake” expands into an echoic chamber of piano and vocals and flawlessly contract into an industrial pace of tiered clicks and taps.  The layers blend into a build-up that twists until it disappears into a sudden silence.

Over the summer, I heard “Beach” for the first time when Wiping Out Thousands performed it at the West Bank Music Festival and am thrilled to hear it on this record. The storytelling of this piece is beautifully crafted. The voice softly wanders in and out of the sharp static winds accompanied with fluid piano droplets.
“As We Sink a Foot Deeper into the Earth” winds the album down to a gorgeous finale. It contrasts the albums high-paced movement with the simplicity of gradualness.

Get This Came First for free or pay what you can. According to the band’s Facebook page it’s what they desire, “We believe in giving our music away for free. It's not a product, it's our art. And we don't like the idea of putting up a pay wall between us and any potential new listeners.” Are you craving more? Wiping Out Thousands will be playing at the Ice House with Phantom Tails on November 30.

Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Wiping Out Thousands This Came First weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Ty Segall

Posted on 11/19/2012

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Ty Segall
Twins

[Drag City]

He does it once again, Ty Segall is back for the third time this year with Twins.  Under his own name this release is keeps it quick just at 36 minutes filled with aggressive garage rock distortion while still dabbling in fuzzy punk love ballads.  A strong hold between echos of sweet and crushing ring true for Segall and his prolific psychedelic San Franciscan rock.  Hes the kind of artist that you don't expect a continuation of what you've heard before, instead always trying something new and never failing to produce material that drives many listens.
 
Opening hard with 'Thank God for the Sinners' this release brings great promise of pure and heavy rock, however as the album progresses it strays towards more acoustic tracks about love, or lack there of.  An extremely solid set of tunes follows from the opener onward with rapid 'You're the Doctor' repeating "There's a problem in my brain" and with 'Inside Your Heart' bringing a familiar taste of what Ty is all about -- drenching guitar solos pounded with a killer phrase to haunt you. 'The Hill' is the first single and borrows Thee Oh Sees' Brigid Dawson providing beautiful vocals before kicking it right back into that reckless sound.  Teetering on a coy side 'Love Fuzz' gives a peak into a softer edge while still remaining sexy.  With the longest track piquing off at just over four minutes, Twins reads incredibly concise while drifting into slower battling numbers before culminating at 'There is No Tomorrow'
 
And with Ty's closing words -- "Won't you come, come away, with me" he expresses the general motif of this release.  One part pleading, two parts long hair, and twelve parts rock inducts Twins with a memorable product for the year.  It leaving fans wondering where he is going to take his sound next and who he will be accompanied with.  Seemingly unstoppable, we can be promised of more sweet garage rock in the near future from Ty Segall.

Written by Jenny Ackerson, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Ty Segall Twins weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: METZ

Posted on 11/12/2012

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METZ
METZ

[Sub Pop]

While prematurely looking at the year in review a while back I realized that almost none of my favorite albums of 2012 so far were what one might call "guitar" albums. I've enjoyed plenty of releases that kick some serious tail, sure, but haven't come across many that effectively smack me upside the head with a snarling fuzz pedal and a walloping drumset. I need a fix once in a while to bring me back to the basics, you see, and lately I'd been revisiting the likes of Siamese Dream and In Utero a little bit more frequently than usual due to a lack of newer selections. Then this arrived.

"Headache" greeted me with exactly what I'd been craving. A mammoth drum tone starts the album off right, and a customary feedback squeal introduces the proverbial wall of guitar distortion that practically dwarfs the drums. The rest of the album follows through wonderfully with the age-old and truly rock 'n roll formula that is simultaneously minimalist and maximalist - guitar, bass, drums and vocals, all as loud as possible; a record that sounds like it's about to burst from being overloaded despite ultimately having so few elements. "Knife in the Water" and "Wasted" exemplify this as well as anybody in recent memory. I also must mention how refreshing it was to see that this album was released on Sub Pop, considering its sound and that its back cover bore a striking resemblance to a particular image from a much earlier Sub Pop release, as the band have acknowledged in interviews.

I had the pleasure of seeing METZ three times in a two week period this October, first on back-to-back evenings during CMJ in New York City and then at our very own 7th St. Entry about a week later. Let me stress that they're one of the few new bands in 2012 that is actually worth seeing that frequently. Frontman Alex Edkins is as enraptured by the glorious cacophony created by his Jazzmaster through a maxed out ProCo Turbo RAT (trust me, I peeked) as anyone from the fuzz pedal glory days. The rhythm section of bassist Chris Slorach and herculean drummer Hayden Menzies create a thunderous momentum that sent the crowd over the edge on a few of the aforementioned occasions. For the Entry gig I couldn't help but notice that Edkins and myself were wearing the exact same Mudhoney shirt. It was then that I thought, "Could I possibly need any more reasons to love these guys?"

Written by Tom Steffes.


Tags: METZ Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Tame Impala

Posted on 11/5/2012

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Tame Impala
Lonerism

[Modular Recordings]

Coming off the heels of a successful debut, 2010's Innerspeaker, Tame Impala avoids the sophomore slump by adding new dimensions to their 60s' psychedelia-inspired sound. While their first album was guitar driven and rooted in rock sensibilities, Kevin Parker, the mastermind behind the project, incorporates the use of synthesizers on this record, giving a breath of fresh air to the classic sounds of his fore bearers. The result is a 52-minute journey that swirls and twists and turns through expansive sonic landscapes.

The album begins with a whispering, mantra-like repetition of the phrase "gotta be above it" on the track "Be Above It",  evidence of Parker's detachment and self-seculsion, a recurring lyrical theme throughout the record (see: "Why Won't They Talk To Me?"). But while his songwriting conveys sometimes-cynical, always-genuine reflections of isolation one might expect from an album titled Lonerism, this is juxtaposed by consistently poppy melodies and buoyant guitar riffs. In fact, the infectious, Lennon-esque "Feels Like We're Only Going Backwards" may just be the year's best pop anthem. Not everything on Lonerism is so sugary sweet, though. The stomping rhythm of "Elephant" draws to mind hints of Black Sabbath, and closing track "Sun's Coming Up" ends with a deeply melancholic, meditative outro. The album never stays in one place for too long, constantly traversing different textures and territories.

Given the widespread accessibility of digital enhancement in today's age, it would have been easy for Parker to drench his songs in so many effects that the listener gets lost along the way. But instead, he focuses on quality over quantity, creating a deliberate balance that allows room for his songwriting prowess to shine through. Intricate, smart, and genre-bending, Lonerism is the kind of album that reveals itself in new ways with each listen.

Written by Rachel Dorn, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Tame Impala Lonerism weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Swans

Posted on 10/29/2012

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Swans
The Seer

[Young God Records]

When Michael Gira announced in January of 2010 that Swans would be reforming, he emphasized that it was not "some dumb-ass nostalgia act" and certainly not a reunion. He simply felt that the new material he was writing would be more appropriate under the moniker of his former project, whose 1998 double live album Swans Are Dead seemed pretty final. The resulting album, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky, followed through on Gira's promise to move forward but didn't quite expand upon the brilliance of what was previously their last studio effort, 1996's massive Soundtracks for the Blind.

Enter The Seer. The group's 12th studio effort is reminiscent of Soundtracks in that it magnificently sums up practically everything they've done previously and then some, which is no small feat for a group with as many eras as this one. "A Piece of the Sky" treads new ground with its surprisingly clean melodicism towards its second half. Sprawling epics such as the characteristically aggressive "The Apostate" and the title track show that few groups aside from possibly Godspeed You! Black Emperor can construct such a glorious cacophony, while more compact numbers such as "The Daughter Brings the Water" and "Song for A Warrior" recall the tender explorations on their criminally overlooked MCA (!) release The Burning World.

The other crucial connection between The Seer and Soundtracks is that they are both essentially films for the ear. Certain editions of The Seer came with a sticker on the shrink wrap which read, "An unfolding cosmic heave of bliss, love, blood, and light. Technicolor sonic cinema for true seekers of oblivion through sound..." which is so accurate a descriptor for this release that I might as well just delete any of the text I've written before or after it. Similarly, Soundtracks was intended to function as a "soundtrack for a non-existent film", and both albums run for at least 2 hours. I'm not sure if Roger Ebert would agree, but you can take my word for it: The Seer is the best film you'll hear all year.

Written by Tom Steffes.

Tags: Swans The Seer Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Grizzly Bear

Posted on 10/21/2012

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Grizzly Bear
Shields

[Warp Records]

Grizzly Bear is now a household name in the music industry.  In fact, if you Google search “Grizzly Bear”, the band shows first, ahead of the Wikipedia article for the formidable North American bear.

On September 18th, 2012, Grizzly Bear released their fourth full-length album entitled Shields.  Many critics had their doubts about it after the widespread success of Veckatimest in 2009.  Fortunately for Grizzly Bear, those doubts are now a thing of the past.  With Shields, the band induces a full scale of emotions through compositional diversity.  “Sleeping Ute” starts electric and ends with a lone classical guitar, a stark contrast intriguing to the ear.  Songs like “Yet Again” and “Sun in Your Eyes” flaunt the band’s thick vocal harmonies, while “The Hunt” has dissonant qualities reminiscent of sophomore release Yellow House.

As a whole, this record is an ideal mixture of catchy hooks and sprawling arrangements.  With bassist Chris Taylor producing, all ten tracks come through like bolded font.  There are few weak spots even after a dozen listens.  Don’t be surprised when Grizzly Bear snags a few Grammys in February.

Written by Alex Simpson, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: grizzly bear shields weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Dark Dark Dark

Posted on 10/15/2012

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Dark Dark Dark
Who Needs Who

[Supply & Demand]

Local chamber folk group Dark Dark Dark returns with a purpose on their third full-length Who Needs Who. We hear the band bring their strong acoustic foundation with singer Nona Marie Invie’s voice as unique and evocative as ever. The album is focused, consistent, and at it’s best very evocative of those nostalgic feelings of love we all have. It settles on what used to be, what could have been, and how it is to deal with the silencing progression of time. From the funeral dirge in the opening title track, the listener is settled into a very somber, introspective environment. Ghostly backing vocals intertwine with a trumpet that, while typically a triumphant instrument, is relegated to a sad punctuation mark.

The emotional threads run deep in this album whether it’s Invie’s longing for the “time when you cherished me/oh to go back to the place when your hands moved over me “ or the sweetest moments in a dive bar slow dancing to Patsy Cline. These are threads that everyone can relate to. It punctuates a homespun heartache that is at the core of this album’s power. The chamber folk instrumentation weaves well with Invie’s words, providing a warm, yet at times haunting energy.

The melancholic orchestration, for some elusive yet captivating reason, is further accentuated by the use of a waltzy ¾ time signature throughout much of the album. This is a technique that Dark Dark Dark has used before. With waltzes always being associated in our collective unconscious with a pristine romance, it’s twisted, heartbreaking application in Dark Dark Dark’s music strikes an incongruent romantic contrast that we all experience in love. We build these conceptions of romance only to have them tragically torn. It evokes a derelict ballroom and a tattered, forgotten prom dress.

It’s interesting that the album ends with a song called The Great Mistake, as it’s the last signature the band puts on its work, but it keeps with the themes of introspection, regret, fading memories, and the inevitable, cold passing of time. The album has a few upbeat moments, and one of them is at the very end. It’s as if among all the weighted emotions of life, in the end, there exists some kind of accepting, c'est-la-vie flourishes in us all.

Written by Ross Crandall, Radio K volunteer.

Dark Dark Dark - "How It Went Down"
Download

Tags: dark dark dark who needs who weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Animal Collective

Posted on 9/24/2012

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Animal Collective
Centipede Hz

[Domino]

In the past few years, Animal Collective have kept busy. While Centipede Hz is their first album proper since 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, the constant stream of side projects and EPs makes the release of a new record less of a big deal for fans.

Centipede, however, stands well on its own - the band has taken the pop elements from their hugely successful previous album and drenched them in layers of ambient sound. The result is a group of songs that may take more work to really dig into, but reward the listener all the same.

Highlights include “Today’s Supernatural,” the lead single that sounds like a twisted, bouncy circus, and “Rosie Oh,” which sports a springy riff that compliments the opaque lyrics quite well. Many of the best songs work because they don’t need all the extra noise; for example, if you stripped down “Wide Eyed”, you’d get a beautiful song reminiscent of the Beach Boys on Pet Sounds. “Wide Eyed” is also the first song in Animal Collective history where band member Deakin sings lead vocals, and his relaxed tone provides a welcome contrast to Avey Tare’s rushed yelps.

Centipede Hz is not as immediately arresting as its predecessor. However, that in no way makes it a bad record. Fans of the band should definitely pick the album up, it rewards further listening with everything one expects from Animal Collective: childlike wonder, interesting melodies, and, most of all, fun.

Written by Kia Farhang, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: weekly release spotlight animal collective centipede hz

Weekly Release Spotlight: Matthew Dear

Posted on 9/17/2012

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Matthew Dear
Beams

[Ghostly International]

Matthew Dear's fifth full-length, Beams, effectively acts as a history lesson in the more accessible side of electronic and dance music. It's a release that has been classified as "Tech House"; simply a fusion of techno and house. That still doesn't quite give enough credit to all the ground being covered here. Beams plays like a compilation of electronica highlights over the decades. Basic warped vocal samples loop like they would on an old 808 State track. A synthetic beat paired with a live bass guitar track rumbles in a way similar to an early New Order joint. Cold and practically synthetic vocals adorn a hypnotic rhythm in a manner reminiscent of Kraftwerk on one track, but dry and flat vocals layer melodies atop a colorful pop backing in what is practically a nod to Prince's golden era on another. "Up & Out" sounds like a futuristic new twist on the Tom Tom Club's classic "Genius of Love". Dear's vocal presence ranges from nearly delusional yelps a la John Maus to clever storyteller like James Murphy.
 
You can see how all this genre-hopping makes Beams a difficult record to classify. Let me back up a bit - it's not even genre-hopping per se, more like trying to genre-hop but landing comfortably between two to create a new little tiny microgenre of his own which has already been abandoned by the time the next track starts. At times Beams is what's coming from the soundsystem occupied by the introverted DJ absorbed in his setup in the corner of the room while others mingle about. At other times it's the album you have to turn up a bit louder because you've accelerated a little faster on the freeway and not only are all the windows down but the sunroof is cracked open too. Occasionally it's just the album filling your headphones as you're yet again up too late doing whatever synthpop-savvy folks do on the internet these days.
 
The album's opener and closer are its longest tracks, which seems to be a highly conscious decision. "Her Fantasy" starts the album off right with samples that are a clear nod to the British breed of acid house from the late 80's. The track gradually builds up to a dense climax that shows much promise for the next 10 tracks. By the time "Temptation" arrives, we've already been given a thorough sample of what makes Matthew Dear a noteworthy artist in the electronic music world of the 21st century.

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: matthew dear beams weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Dan Deacon

Posted on 9/10/2012

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Dan Deacon
America

[Domino]

The words “zany” and “intelligent” don’t often fit together, but on his 6th album, Dan Deacon marries them like apple pie and, well, America. America is, in fact, the name of Deacon’s newest album, and it sees the 31-year-old electronic musician and composer return right where he left off with his previous album Bromstover three years ago. We get to hear Deacon’s trademark sounds such as bloop-bloopy calculator-y noises, layers of horns, and that one-of-a-kind Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks vocal effect he likes to do. Deacon’s music is simply an assault on all of your senses. Not content with just appealing to the listener’s sense of hearing, Deacon offers slices of sound that you can really feel and see. Dear God the colors!!! With every fuzzy beat, chirpy tweak, and soaring melody, you can’t help but see rainbows when his music is on.

It’s no coincidence that this album is titled America because the album is perfect for one of those iconic American pastimes: the road trip. In an interview with NPR, Deacon articulates this: “I do many, many cross-country trips a year because I tour, and it's hard to — you could really despise every aspect of what you think American culture is but it's hard to deny that the land itself is beautiful.” Songs like “True Thrush” and “Lots” have a speedy, galloping pace reminiscent of pavement flying under the wheels of the car. Noises and chirps soar by like the many bugs and birds that fly by your windshield. Looking out the window, the rush of hundreds of pine trees suddenly gives way to a field of golden corn. Now imagine all this corn is actually multicolored, and you’re getting an idea of what the songs are like. The purely gleeful epicness of these songs evoke the very American feeling of freedom, of unshackling yourself from the past and blazing a new trail: “Cold throne, no sire/Black earth past fire/Flushed out regret/No past, no sense/Brave days ahead/None rest, none yet/Once choice to make/Get ready to go”.

The album then moves to “Prettyboy” which stands for that moment in your journey when night has fallen, and you’re tired; you take your sweatshirt and put it between your head and the car door as a makeshift pillow. You look up at the night sky and the stars and blissfully contemplate the mysteries of the universe: Why are we here? What’s out there? Are we alone? Deacon does a good job of pummeling you with loud soundscapes, but then has the good sense to not pummel you with some frankly beautiful songs.

The latter half of the album is the “USA” suite consisting of four movements: Is a Monster, The Great American Desert, Rail, and Manifest. During this suite, we hear another unlikely pairing: classical and electronic. Working with what may seem like foes on the surface level, Deacon brings together a John-Williams-esque score with his brand of fuzzy electronics and tribal beats. They may seem like a beauty and a beast, but they sure do dance an elegant dance.

Throughout the entire album, Deacon brings a level of ambition that stands toe-to-toe with the country itself. He taps into all of its grandeur, inconsistencies, surprises, and, of course, weird noises.

Written by Ross Crandall, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: dan deacon america weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Posted on 9/3/2012

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Aufheben

[A Records]

Anton Newcombe, the ever prolific lead of experimental psych-folk group The Brian Jonestown Massacre, put out his latest release Aufheben on A Records in May with friends Will Carruthers and Matt Hollywood, who is one of the founding BJM members. After a short hiatus and his relocation to Berlin, Newcombe does not disappoint. Aufheben has proven to be a lovely and captivating collection of work.

In the eleven tracks of Aufheben, Newcombe provides a personal definition of the German term, which means both to preserve and to abolish. In defining Aufheben, Newcombe creates an ever-flowing, united collection of themes, textures, and influences, constructing the sense of transformation. A few key tracks from the collection are “Viholliseni Maala” featuring vocals, entirely in Finnish, from Eliza Karmasalo and the opening number “Panic In Babylon” which blends the band’s psychedelic roots and Middle Eastern influences.

Written by Zoë Peterson, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: The Brian Jonestown Massacre Aufheben weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Fergus & Geronimo

Posted on 8/27/2012

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Fergus & Geronimo
Funky Was the State of Affairs

[Hardly Art]

Garage rockers Jason Kelly and Andrew Savage of Fergus & Geronimo, who hail from Denton Texas and now reside in Brooklyn, have recently dropped their sophomore LP Funky Was the State of Affairs on the Seattle based label Hardly Art. Funky is a conceptual album with running commentary from slacker aliens on the conditions of planet Earth. The album is made up of a collection of short, witty tracks that dive into weird-o intergalactic social commentary bordering on the line of satire, only adding to the band’s originality.

By way of high-energy post-punk jams, comic lyrics and spoken-word skits, Fergus & Geronimo piece together a dystopian sci-fi future. Throughout the album, the duo experiments with genre-hopping -- roaming through indie rock, psych, jazz and synth-pop. A few of the most prominent tracks include “Roman Tick” with its quirky wordplay, “Off the Map” which features a rad bassline, and the dancy number “Marky Move.”

The quirky energy, inventive nature and catchy-as-hell songs are never boring. The concept of the work requires little interpretation, yet succeeds in stimulating ever-entertaining conspiracy theories. Funky Was the State of Affairs is a trip you don’t want to miss, folks.

Written by Zoë Peterson, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: fergus & geronimo fergus and geronimo funky was the state of affairs weekly release spotlight radio k

Weekly Release Spotlight: Yeasayer

Posted on 8/20/2012

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Yeasayer
Fragrant World

[Secretly Canadian]

Once again, Yeasayer proves not to disappoint, managing to push the experimental music genre envelope as we know it a bit further. Fragrant World, the band’s third full-length album, is a highly intricate yet cohesive 11 track blend of saturated electronic pop melodies and strikingly keen lyrics.

This successfully creates an atmosphere that many Yeasayer fans know to expect - one of various prophecies and intellections- this time deeper, darker, and trippier than the band’s earlier efforts. In “Longevity”, a single released earlier this summer, we hear this self reflection as Chris Keating, Yeasayer’s lead vocalist/keyboardist sings, “Live in the moment, never count on longevity, please.”

This emphasis on the short-term, if you will, is later juxtaposed in “Henrietta”, a track inspired from Henrietta Lacks, a woman circa 1951 whose cancerous cells were taken without her permission, and to have kept alive and growing on their own- the first “immortal” human cells grown in a lab. Keating chants, “Oh, Henrietta, we can live on forever,” as if to preserve her enduring legacy.

Similarly, with this week’s release of Fragrant World, Yeasayer’s own legacy of progressive yet alluring musicality/lyricism will surely impress fans and intellectuals of all sorts.

Written by Monica Omodt, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: Yeasayer Fragrant World weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Purity Ring

Posted on 8/13/2012

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Purity Ring
Shrines

[4AD]

You know, I was really skeptical about Purity Ring at first. How many more guy-girl duos with loose "dream pop" and "synthetic beats" tags did I really need? Terms like "witch house" and "electropop" were also being thrown around which had me hopelessly confusing them with White Ring, the guy-girl duo out of NYC. I entered my first listen with low expectations and didn't anticipate making it past the first few tracks before I'd go back to something I presumed to be more important. Within a few minutes that closed mind was like a clam being opened with a crowbar. Forget about it. I'm hooked.

One can't discuss Shrines without mentioning the lyrical content. Frontwoman Megan James began scribbling poetry when she was 16 without any expectation of anyone else ever coming in to contact with these deeply personal and often surreal texts. The first track greets the listener with the phrase "Adorn me in feathers from dead birds". The second with a chorus containing "cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you". "Belispeak" addresses the narrator's grandma with the lyric "Drill little holes into my eyelids that I might see you when I sleep". Some of the lines in "Saltkin" read as if they're straight from a black metal song.

Production is key to this kind of music and Corin Roddick, the other half of the duo, doesn't fool around. He uses techniques that are distinctively 2012 - warped vocal samples that have been lowered an octave, an unabashed affinity for slinky hi-hat-centric beats like those found in trap and Memphis style hip-hop, and lots and lots of side-chain compression. Many layers of huge synthesizers and samples twisted beyond recognition add to the opaque collage that fills the space not occupied by Megan James' sweet voice. Comparisons to Clams Casino have merit.

The uninitiated but interested should heed this reviewer's recommendation: there are many times to listen to this album, and during daylight is not one of them. Shrines is a late-nighter all the way through. It's the kind of album you'll get sucked in to until you've had it on repeat until sunrise. Who needs sleep when you've got an album that already sounds like a dream anyway?

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: purity ring shrines weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Cadence Weapon

Posted on 8/6/2012

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Cadence Weapon
Hope in Dirt City

[Upper Class Recordings]

Cadence Weapon comes out swinging on his new album Hope in Dirty City and showed us that it was worth the four year wait. Rollie Pemberton, the Edmonton, Alberta born rapper, has been surrounded by music his entire life with his father being a pioneer of Hip-Hop radio and his mother playing piano. Cadence Weapon uses his golden age Hip-Hop roots to take a familiar sound and mold it into a modern day movement.

The song “Get on Down” has a beat that pays homage to the renaissance of Hip-Hop by laying out a heavy drum kit on top of samples suited up with funky synths. The many different elements come together and create the illusion of a minimalist approach, which makes for a refreshing sound. Cadence Weapon enters and decides to leave out the recurring hooks. Instead he showcases his ability to layer complex rhymes while at the same time produce noteworthy rhythmic patterns. The result is two solid verses that let the world know he is hungrier than ever.

After the long wait, Hope in Dirty City comes to satisfy our need for a Hip-Hop artist that can deliver. Cadence Weapon integrates many different influences from Jazz to Indie-Rock without it feeling forced. This album instead creates a coherent and innovative musical profile that leaves us wanting more.

Written by Octavio Abea, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: cadence weapon hope in dirt city weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Deleted Scenes

Posted on 7/29/2012

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Deleted Scenes
Young People's Church of the Air

[Sockets Records]

 Young People’s Church of the Air is this week’s Weekly Release Spotlight at Radio K? Wait a minute, didn’t that album drop last year?

It sure did! But luckily for avid followers of the art rock scene, Deleted Scenes was ambitious enough to issue a re-release that includes two new bonus tracks. The switch over to their new label, Park the Van, sparked a second release for their follow-up of their acclaimed 2009 debut LP Birdseed Shirt. For those of you who did not catch Young People’s Church of the Air the first time around, now might be the time to give it a listen. It is practically impossible to categorize this album into a single genre, and the wide range of musical influences that can be heard provide reason to believe that this album has qualities most music fans will appreciate.  

A majority of the songs have condensed layers of activity that synchronize very well. “The Days of Adderall” may come off as a flurry of scattered noises on the first listen, but don’t give up on it before the chorus. The random clatters drop out, leaving a catchy blend of spacey guitar strums and distant vocals. “Bedbedbedbedbed” features a captivating drum loop that sucks you in while front man Dan Scheuerman serenades an “immaculate girl sent from above.” Deleted Scenes sheds their playful side when “A Bunch of People Who Love You Like Crazy” comes on – a heavy, ambient mesh of a jam that embodies power not heard up until this point in the album. A hint of some dubstep influence sets this track apart from the others.

Musically speaking, Young People’s Church of the Air is all over the place – but in a good way. At one particular instance, it sounds as if the Beach Boys have traveled through time from the 60’s to record “Baltika 9”, which is easily one of the most energetic songs on the album. A couple of tracks down the line, they morph from Brian Wilson and the gang into a modern version of The Pixies for the garage/grunge rock tune “What an Awesome Backhanded Compliment”. The shrieking guitar riff over the distorted bass will surely strike a chord with anyone who loves to crank the volume and rock out. Each song is different from the last, which makes Young People’s Church of the Air a distinctive album even though the sources for their inspiration are thrown in the listeners’ face.

The four-man band from Washington, D.C. has been busy as of late. From touring this summer to support their re-release to writing new material that they will record later this year for their third LP, Deleted Scenes is no doubt the most productive group of people in our nation’s capital. If you have the chance, it is recommended that you give this album a listen. Overall, it is a solid sophomore effort from a band that will hopefully continue to grow and develop their own style.

Written by Luke Hochrein, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: weekly release spotlight deleted scenes Young People’s Church of the Air

Weekly Release Spotlight: Twin Shadow

Posted on 7/22/2012

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Twin Shadow
Confess

[4AD]

On the surface, Twin Shadow’s latest album, Confess, is a lot like their 2010 debut LP, Forget. Both are full of classic guitar lines, precise synths, tales of failed love sung with just the perfect hint of vulnerability and machismo, and a near devotion to recreating 80’s New Wave sounds.

But where Forget was focused on the feelings of the past, Confess is all about the details of the present. Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr. meticulously wrote and produced each song, including recording almost every instrument and dub on the album. His effort and attention to detail pays off. There isn’t a moment where his dedication isn’t both self-evident and rewarding.

George Lewis easily combines the flanged guitar and synth organ sounds of 80’s New Wave with cutting edge, hip hop influenced beats and synths. Every track is carefully enshrined within a shimmering halo of reverb. However, this is no lush, shoegaze reverb. This is the hollow ambiance that comes from confessing your sins in the belly of a barren cathedral.

Confess truly shines when Lewis lets loose on the uptempo tracks like Five Seconds, Beg for the Night or Golden Light, which perfectly capture his renegade, motorcycle riding persona dealing with the untimely end of his relationships. He boasts about his unflinching acceptance and indifference, yet every boast reveals his own insecurities and weaknesses.

Over the years, Lewis has never stopped refining his sound, leading to an incredibly cohesive album. Every track flows right into the next with a perfect cadence of slow and soft mixed with fast and heavy. The range of expression he can coerce out of his synths and guitars is staggering. In a moment they can change from delicate and intimate to triumphant and boisterous. This emotion is matched by the lyrical content and their delivery, leading to a powerful look inside the heart of a renegade.

Twin Shadow is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist George Lewis Jr. Started in 2006, Twin Shadow released its first album, Forget, in 2010.

Written by Alex Breyfogle, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: twin shadow confess weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Pomegranates

Posted on 7/16/2012

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Pomegranates
Heaven

[Modern Outsider]

Get ready to turn up the car stereo because the new album from Pomegranates is the perfect summer jam album.  Maybe it’s the awesome falsetto breakdowns in “Pass Away” or the fast-pace rhythm of “Lost Lives,” but their new album Heaven is sure to make you dance in your seat or put you in the mood for a nice trolley ride through the city.   This album, released June 5th of 2012, is full of fantastic guitar riffs, smooth vocals, and the perfect quantities of reverb.  Perhaps it’s time to plan another road trip because you’ll have this album on repeat all the way (well… some of the way) there.

Don’t be fooled by their opening song “Heaven,” which starts with a leg-kicking, hair-shaking tune, because Pomegranates opens up to their soft side by the time track five, “Something Everybody Wants,” comes around.  The following songs, “Letters” and “Dream,” reminisce with a slower, retro-80’s sound.  After the urge to sway back and forth with a lighter (or a smart-phone app of one), the tempo picks back up for “Lost Lives.”  Heaven closes with a piano ballad, accompanied by electronic instruments with lots of delays and echoes.  

Pomegranates certainly shines with their new release.  The album is perfectly laid out with its consistent sound and cohesive style.  They excel in combining classical instruments, such as piano, and mixing in synthesizers, electric guitars, and studio produced sounds.  The vocals are unique due to their variety; some songs have the singers harmonize in a Beatles kind of way, and other times, it’s a one-man-show of simplicity and emotion.  You’ll find that Pomegranates successfully explores different genres and decades of music. “Sisters” makes you want to wear raggedy T-shirts, and “Night Run” will put bubble gum and Scrunchy stores out of business.  Each song is full of character, but all of the songs together are what make the album complete.   

Pomegranates is composed of four members: Jacob Merritt on the drums; Isaac Karns and Joey Cook with vocals, guitars, keyboards; and Curt Kiser on guitar.  They began in 2006, and their first album was released in 2009.  Since then, they have managed to produce an album every year.  The members reside from Cincinnati, Ohio, and they went on tour earlier this year.

Written by Meagan Nouis, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: pomegranates heaven weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: The Daredevil Christopher Wright

Posted on 7/9/2012

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The Daredevil Christopher Wright
The Nature of Things

[File Under: Music]

In the track "Andrew The Wanderer" - The Daredevil Christopher Wright speak of "The Great big
depression - Machines have won the war/" Machines may have won the war, but these three midwest
born folkies are proving that humans still have so much more to offer than technological perfection.
Their organic and simplistic approach to music is worthy of attention, especially in the age of lush
digital sounds. Even though the group recorded with Daytrotter founder Patrick Stolley and had access
to a full studio, they still decided to focus on creating dense pieces of music solely within their playing
range so they can perform the songs live.

Instead of lavishly laying down beds over beds of background music, the group focused on using the
instruments only to accent each story rather than create an aural landscape. The result leads to an open
ended approach for listeners, inviting you to come along for the journey amongst confident melodies
and subtle yet poignant percussion. As you interact with each song, it's hard to not imagine yourself
running slow motion through the sunsoaked forests somewhere between Eau Clair and Minneapolis.
For as many in the Eau Clair music scene, Minneapolis is a close second as their musical home. The
space between speaks to an area that cares deeply for the heartfelt pieces of art - and "The Nature of
Things" shows that the group's artistic attention is focused on the elements that make up truly great
songs. Whimsical and light enough to hum along with, yet with each passing glance the tunes turn
into deeper and deeper pools of wisdom of what it truly means to be alive in the 21st century. Past the
gadgets, past the social media factories at work - "The Nature of Things" reminds us of a simpler time
amongst a chaotic and stimulus inflated world. They've nailed the sweet approach to songwriting on
previous releases, but this latest album makes a bold statement as to why they'll stay around for much
longer than the average human lifespan.

Much as their contemporaries Fleet Foxes, the harmonizing on their sophomore effort "The Nature
of Things" showcases the intrinsic beauty of the human voice. As energizing as it is calming, the
power of their vocals far exceeds any machine's interaction. Following their 2011 EP "The Long
Suffering Song," The Daredevil Christopher Wright focuses on the simplicity of acoustic sounds, while
performing elegant complex arrangements for seemingly simple songs. With each listen, the thick
sounds presented distill down to the three men composing each song, leading you through this carefully
orchestrated playground of perception. Focus on tracks "Blood Brother," "Andrew The Wanderer," I &
Thou," and "The Animal of Choice" which also appeared on their last EP release.

Written by Caleigh Souhan, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: weekly release spotlight the daredevil christopher wright radio k

Weekly Release Spotlight: Dent May

Posted on 7/2/2012

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Dent May
Do Things

[Paw Tracks

If you’re in the mood to pick up some good vibrations, Dent May is your man. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, May attended both NYU Film School and Ole Miss, studying English and Southern Studies. Fortunately, he finally found musical inspiration in the work of artists such as Serge Gainsbourg and Lee Hazelwood. Although he started his aptly named project, Dent May, in 2002, he held off releasing an album until 2009. But those seven years must certainly have been the necessary amount of time to nail down a style and image that could even make one of the Queen’s guards with those fuzzy hats and stoic faces smile. The first release came out on Paw Tracks, and was to be called The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele. Although it led to his title as one of the Best New Bands of Mississippi by Boston Phoenix Annual 50 Best Bands in America, and to his being chosen by Animal Collective to play at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in 2011, The Good Feeling Music was only a precursor to the second and most recent release, Do Things.

Do Things is reminiscent of an electronic reincarnation of the Beach Boys born in the disco era. Not a song on this album speaks to anything but feeling good and living happily. A glance at the carefree image of lake relaxation which adorns the cover of the record, along with track titles such as “Fun”, “Best Friend”, “Don’t Wait Too Long”, and “Wedding Day”, set the mood for the rest of the album, and it doesn’t disappoint. Constant harmonies and melodies that flutter up and down octaves like a bird to whom flying is still a novelty create a light-hearted tone, combined with the two-step dance beats and heavy synth which add the “have fun, let loose” flavor. The icing on the cake is the inspirational lyricism, with lines like “Don’t wait too long, you’ve got to stand up and do your thing” and “Don’t know what’s in store for me but I think it’s gonna be fun” every word on every track is positive. Especially with a warm and bright summer gaining full speed, this album is quite worth the time investment for the smile it will put on your face.

Written by Alex Dziura, Radio K Volunteer

Tags: dent may do things weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Japandroids

Posted on 6/25/2012

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Japandroids
Celebration Rock

[Polyvinyl Record Co.]

Japandroids' success seems to defy all odds. The band is composed of only two members, Brian King on guitar and David Prowse on drums, with the two sharing vocal duties. They formed in Vancouver six years ago, and received such little support initially that they would set up their own concerts, make their own flyers, and rent the necessary equipment with the DIY ethos of the 80's underground American punk rock scene they both idolized. In 2008 they recorded their debut Post-Nothing and decided to break up after its release due to lack of success. Japandroids had run its course, barely making a small dent in the Vancouver scene. Brian King had already started working on forming a new band.
 The record saw release in 2009. It was a hit. As it turned out, they toured the world in support of it. They opened for A Place To Bury Strangers. They opened for The Walkmen. It went to #22 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. Hell, they played Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
 Is a band with guitar, drums and vocals a novel concept at all? Not in the least. So what makes Japandroids one of independent rock's greatest success stories in recent memory? Because every single second of their recorded material is bursting with the kind of youthful energy that only a small group of musicians who spend their evenings in their own basements playing to a group of friends for no real profit would understand. There's a sincerity present in this music that can't be captured by musical notation. If any other duo attempted to play these songs they wouldn't sound remotely similar. You have to actually live it to know, and Japandroids sound alive in a way that no other band can. This is music that will make your speakers sweat. It conveys movement in a way that maybe the science community should investigate. It boosts mood and spirit better than an energy drink and without the crash or the cavities. There probably won't be an album with a more fitting title all year.

Written by Tom Steffes, Radio K volunteer.

 

Tags: japandroids celebration rock weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: King Tuff

Posted on 6/18/2012

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King Tuff
King Tuff

[Sub Pop

After receiving nothing but good reviews from punk blogs around the globe for his 2008 debut, Was Dead, King Tuff is back bigger and badder with his self-titled second release on Sub Pop. It comes chock full of suitably titled rock and roll, sass-pop, garage-psych gems.

The album takes off with the aptly named opening track, “Anthem.” The howling guitar is, simply put, pure rock and roll.  You can’t help but raise your fist, tap your foot, and yell along with King (Kyle Thomas) as he sings of love songs that “rot in your head.” The album takes a swift turn into a little dancey-pop tune “Alone & Stoned,” full of sing-along choruses and a punchy snare beat that makes you want to “take a walk on the moon” along with King Tuff and all of his headphone wearing friends.  And before that dance bug has a chance to wiggle itself out of you, “Keep On Movin’ ” comes by to save the day with a hip-shaking ‘50s bass line and King Tuff’s sassy attitude. The album finally takes softer, more sincere turn with “Unusual World.” The synths mixed with the 50s-esque drum beat that seems to inhabit this entire record, transports you to an interstellar (unusual) world where saddle shoes, moon dust, and movie monsters co-exist. Before your mind is left to wander too far, the album’s single, “Bad Thing” bursts into catchy guitar riffs and a chorus that would even make loveliest cookie-making grandmother scream “I’m a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad thing!” from her knitting chair. The bluesy, grimy tale of a crew of  creepers preying on a woman in “Loser’s Wall” is by far the darkest track on the album and, frankly leaves you feeling a bit used and abused (in a good way). After a few more rockers and foot stompers telling you to “break the rules” and an ode to our favorite celebrities claiming, “they’re foolish and beautiful / they’re the stupid superstars,” King Tuff croons about the “Swamp of Love” in true rock ballad fashion. The album closes with another dangerous dance inducing beat sing-along, “Hit & Run.”

TL;DR

King Tuff will make you dance until your booty hurts, and will make your neighbors hate you (or love you) for never taking it off of your record player.

Written by Chase Mathey, Radio K volunteer

Tags: king tuff weekly release spotlight radio k

Weekly Release Spotlight: Exitmusic

Posted on 6/11/2012

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Exitmusic
Passage

[Secretly Canadian]

Charging out of the musical hub of Brooklyn, NY, Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church form Exitmusic.  The duo emanates a sound resembling a smoky, ominous Beach House with distinctive atmospheric sonority similar to Sigur Rós.  Exitmusic released their debut album Passage on Secretly Canadian.  The album also features tracks from their previous EP release From Silence, including “The Modern Age.”

“Passage,” the first track, lures you in on the dream-like voyage with its cool, calming vocals and slow thumping piano and kick drum. Pallodino’s shaky vibrato then suddenly detonates accompanied by windy currents of drums and static as Pallodino’s vocals entangle the uproar, “Just don’t let them chase you.” The album transitions into “The Night,” which is as audibly dark as its name.  It is an aching cry that is tragically beautiful with its hopeful vocalizations and twinkling child’s piano keys. It clamors against the dark waves that are emitted throughout all of Passage.  Exitmusic approaches “White Noise” with daring experimentation driven by a thumping drum beat and fuzzy guitars. Pallodino‘s wails reverberate to the point where it sparks out of an overloaded speaker that hazily fades in and out. “The Wanting” is a soothing piece that entrances you like an echoing siren.  Slowly, you can’t help but to drown in this swelling, sonorous ocean.
 
Exitmusic’s Passage draws you in with hauntingly beautiful vocals that fluctuate in volume and dynamic vibrato. Their brooding undercurrent will undoubtedly hook you with its slow swells but will on occasion drop you into feverish chaos that you didn’t see coming.

Written by Abbie Gobeli, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: exitmusic passage radio k weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Lower Dens

Posted on 6/4/2012

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Lower Dens
Nootropics

[Ribbon Music]

Indie rock is a tough world in which to exist in 2012. Too many of its players take a slightly overdriven guitar, plunk out some major chords in common time, and call it a day once they've gotten a predictable haircut to match the music.

Lower Dens have decidedly placed themselves outside of this realm. First of all, they've done their homework. Driving rhythms with a polite hustle underpin many of the tracks present here, a clear nod to the drumming style present in Germany's Krautrock movement of the late 60's and 70's. I could count all the drums fills present on Nootropics on one hand.  Layers appear over the rhythm, bury it, but never stop it from chugging along. Those layers are frequently composed of organic sounds pulled from what seems to be a myriad of guitar effects pedals and obscure synthesizer settings. Such tones make it clear that much time was spent in the recording studio, also evidenced by the unique textures created by multiple vocal overdubs singing in different tambres to create an occasionally otherworldy vocal presence.

Surrealism seems to be a key theme to this album. It's apparent from the cover artwork that it's intended for a late night. What first struck me was its slight similarity to the cover art for David Lynch's psychotic 2006 film Inland Empire. While it doesn't have the "freak out" moments in that film which actually did give me nightmares for a few evenings, it would be totally appropriate to occupy the sonic space of the film where the characters wander around mysterious grimey urban areas at odd hours. There's an incredible uneasiness present when they want it to be, such as on the album's closer, "In the End is the Beginning".

The album is mellow, sure, and if you don't pay attention you might pass it off as another indie dream-pop release. I ask that you keep those ears alert and attentive while absorbing Nootropics as its detailed and rich production will reveal a ghostly sensibility to the album that may be lost on the casual listener but if noticed will make the album an entirely more enjoyable experience. It must be hidden in the reverb.

Tom Steffes is Radio K's Digital Media Producer.

Tags: lower dens nootropics radio k weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Beach House

Posted on 5/29/2012

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Beach House
Bloom

[Sub Pop]

Bloom is the fourth LP from the indie dream pop duo Beach House, and the first release since their 2010 breakthrough album Teen Dream.  Since forming in Baltimore, Maryland in 2004 Beach House has continued to gain following and has gone from opening for big name acts like Vampire Weekend and Animal Collective to becoming one of the most popular indie bands of date and headlining their own sold out shows.    

In a Pitchfork interview, Alex Scally stated, “I hate it when bands change between records…that’s not how we work.” The same drum machine beat throughout the song, Scally’s simple yet melodic riffs, Victoria Legrand’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, and the appropriate tone humming in the background has been Beach House’s style since day one and Bloom isn’t looking to change that.  This album manages to succeed where many bands fail, in that it keeps the same sound that made people love the band in the first place while somehow managing to sound completely new and interesting.  

“Myth” opens Bloom the same way that “Zebra” opened Teen Dream.  An inviting oscillating melody starts and the drum machine kicks in to build up Legrand’s vocals.  Melodies build on melodies and some slide guitar gets introduced and it all culminates into an enticing trance for the rest of the song.  “Wild” introduces a rare hook into the band’s lyrical index when Legrand softly shouts the words “Go on pretending”.  The lyrically loaded track “New Year” proves just how deep this album goes with its captivating melodies and phrases like, “All I wanted comes in colors”.  Also as a special treat there is a hidden track about six minutes after the last track, “Irene”, ends.

Beach House is a great band to try out for those who are fans of or are looking to get into dream pop, and Bloom is a great place to start.  The songs are beautiful and border the line of catchy without being generic.  Each track is very listenable and the lyrics and layered melodies will ensure that listeners continue to hear something new even after multiple plays.

Written by A.J. Kellogg, Radio K volunteer

 

 


 

 

It's safe to say that Beach House's fourth album Bloom has been one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 so far. They've been gaining steam at a steady pace over the course of their previous three LPs, with Teen Dream finding positions on many "Best of 2010" lists. Bloom feels like Teen Dream's dark side. It feels like what Teen Dream turns in to at night when nobody is watching. The two openers, "Myth" and "Wild", are unquestionably the group's most sinister numbers thus far, but they have a sexy side about them too that was hinted at on previous Beach House releases but finally comes to fruition here.

What's made Beach House so consistently satisfying is that they stick to their distinctive formula and revel in it. It's comforting to put on a few tracks of Bloom and be greeted by their signature archaic and crackling drum beats lured from the exact same synth-organ they were using 5 or 6 years ago. An iconic reverb-laden Fender guitar tone and choir of Victoria Legrands is all that is necessary to fill out the material and make it unmistakably Beach House. New on Bloom however is an emphasis on pulsing low frequencies that make this collection of tunes feel heavier than previous releases. It feels less lazy and more urgent. The group do slip in to their more casual mood during a few choice moments, such as the ascending chorus to "The Hours" with its almost sassy attitude. It almost seems like what some call a "hairbrush song", one that girls sing in front of the mirror with their hairbrush. Victoria Legrand sounds as if she's practically mocking you for not singing along, or giving you a knowing smirk if you cave in and join her.

The group's name seemed so appropriate on early releases which sounded like the sun just beginning to rise over a rickety wooden shack surrounded by sand. Waves gently lap up on a discarded Stratocaster and a Roland Rhythm 77 analog rhythm machine to coax sunbleached melodies out of them. On Bloom the sun has set long ago allowing the stars to shine down on the now sand-encrusted gear to seduce these haunting melodies up towards the heavens.

Written by Tom Steffes, Digital Media Producer

Tags: beach house bloom weekly release spotlight radio k

Weekly Release Spotlight: Breton

Posted on 5/21/2012

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Breton
Other People's Problems

[FatCat]

If someone told you that English electro-pop gloom rockers Breton (named after the French father of Surrealism André Breton, not to be confused with the delicious crackers) were just now getting around to releasing their full length debut LP, you might be surprised. Since releasing their first EP in 2010, the London-based group has been steady at work. Now a full 5-piece band, Breton put all those pieces in motion and more on Other People’s Problems, out on Fat Cat Records. With assistance in the form of outsourced-then-chopped-and-rearranged piano and strings by German composer and fellow label mate Hauschka, Breton has served up 11 tracks full of sonic depth, intermittent intentional noise, and awkward dancing potential.

The record launches listeners into the interesting style of the band on the song “Pacemaker,” wherein beneath a deliberate pause lasting almost 15 seconds fades in the Frankenstein’d strings and low-key dance beat that populate much of the record. Breton frontman Roman Rappak’s layered vocals and distorted lyrics make the strings sound creepier than they might otherwise, with tracks like “Oxides” and “Edward the Confessor” carrying on this audio imitation of the cloudy skies in London, the video for the latter doing so quite literally.

The stand-out songs on the record have to be “Governing Correctly” and “Ghost Note,” both of which make use of multiple layers to bring out a blend of British alt dance rock like Bloc Party and the smooth style of a Mystery Jets mellow number. The low bass line on “Governing Correctly” works well with the toe-tapping digital drumbeat, and the bouncy vocals nearly disguise the melodrama in the lyrics. “Ghost Note” brings a more synth-style, combined with muffled vocals, a Daft Punk-esque sustain breakdown and the ever-so-slight hint of a triangle in the background.  

For people who have always wanted a bit more Crystal Method in their Editors, the experience that is Breton’s debut record will not disappoint. There is something for everyone on Other People’s Problems, and with each new listen you may pick up nuances that were missed the first time around. It’s the LP that keeps on giving, and that sounds like a pretty good problem to have. 

Written by Noel Clark, Radio K and Culture Queue volunteer

Tags: breton other people's lives weekly release spotlight radio k kuom

Weekly Release Spotlight: Here We Go Magic

Posted on 5/14/2012

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Here We Go Magic
A Different Ship

[Secretly Canadian]

For three years now, Here We Go Magic have established a cozy little niche straddling a line somewhere between swirly dream folk and krautrock. It's a sound that's been difficult to point a finger at. Instead, we've been left poking around trying to make sense of HWGM's landscapes of noise, following lead vocalist Luke Temple's stream-of-consciousness lyricism like a trail of bread crumbs through the dense foliage (or, if you're feeling fiery, "like a machete chopping through the untamed wilderness.") Meanwhile, getting pleasantly lost in Here We Go Magic territory right alongside us were a couple of mad British geniuses who you may have heard of. One of said blokes was Thom Yorke, the other was Thom Yorke's producer/good buddy Nigel Godrich. 

H'okay, story time: Legend goes that at Glastonbury 2010, HWGM played a morning set to a mostly unenthusiastic and tiny crowd in which Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich were essentially the only ones completely zoning into the music. Can we just imagine that for a second? Expecting a modest, semi-lame morning festival set -- and getting pretty much just that -- except with Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich going completely apeshit at the front of the stage. Thom and Nigel both substantially dug the Glastonbury set and immediately went backstage to talk to the band about it. Long story short, Nigel was all "Want to make music sometime? I'll totally produce it," and Here We Go Magic was like "Sure." And from this wonderful inkling of collaborative thought, Here We Go Magic's third LP, A Different Ship, was born.

A Different Ship presents a new kind of Here We Go Magic. The scatterbrained and rickety train of thought that drove the band's previous releases is still present, but it's been smoothed out and shaped into a sexy new package -- kinda like if you traded in a Jeep Wrangler for a flying Jetta. Gone are the fizzles, pops, and blissful cacophony that highlighted previous HWGM releases -- these have been replaced by decidedly cool, well-polished space, nary a sonic imperfection to be found. Think of A Different Ship as a field guide to Here We Go Magic penned by Mr. Godrich.

    Musically, the album's ten tracks are all over the place, ranging from 'Slowhand'-era Clapton channeled through something like a nervous breakdown ("Make Up Your Mind") to delightfully stoney walkabouts ("Over the Ocean") to bugged-out concoctions that, at once, resemble King Crimson and Crosby, Stills & Nash ("I Believe In Action"). Yet, somehow, every song on here possesses a similar metallic sheen that makes the whole damn album seem concisely like it should have been packaged with a free Member's Only jacket. In a good way.

    On the surface, A Different Ship is a strikingly easygoing record, but weirdly deliberate flourishes of dissonance and tension in nearly every track create a subtle sense of winking anxiety. It's a "more than meets the eye" sort of deal; a consistent undertone suggesting that Here We Go Magic didn't utterly abandon the dark, enchanted forest they came from when they stepped onto Nigel Godrich's yacht of the future. At times, A Different Ship practically begs you to ask the question of if its overpowering breeziness is merely a guise for a massive storm-a-brewing. At other times, it's a super enjoyable and concise record that both fits well and distinguishes itself amongst Here We Go Magic's back catalogue. Did I mention it's incredibly chill? It's incredibly chill. Just don't analyze "A Different Ship" too closely or you might get pleasantly seasick.

Written by Kevin Tully, Radio K International host and volunteer

Tags: weekly release spotlight here we go magic a different city

Weekly Release Spotlight: Spiritualized

Posted on 5/7/2012

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Spiritualized
Sweet Heart Sweet Light

[Fat Possum]

Jason Pierce, principal member of Spiritualized returns after a four-year hiatus with Sweet Heart Sweet Light recently released on Fat Possum Records.  Spiritualized was born in 1990 in the United Kingdom after Pierce split from his former band, Spacemen 3.  Over the past twenty years, Spiritualized has evolved with an ever-changing membership; Pierce being the only constant member. Spiritualized is usually characterized as having a predominate space-rock sound as heard in significant albums such Lazer Guided Melodies (1992), Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space (1997), and Let it Come Down (2001). Their sixth full-length album, Sweet Heart Sweet Light takes a step back from Spiritualized’s space-aged days, landing them on a earthier, raw sound. 

Spiritualized has formulated a tradition where he initiates his albums off with a small overture. He begins Sweet Heart Sweet Light with the simply titled, “Huh?”. You may scratch your head at such a curious title leaving your mind to wander through a fairy-tale swell of violins, synthesized twinkles, and faint whistles to ease your ears. Then, an unexpected swarm of accentuated musical layers reverberate through your speakers with a heavy guitar strumming explosion sprinkled with Pierce’s jagged edged voice similar to that of Liam Gallagher of Oasis of the lengthy, nine minute “Hey Jane.”  The album slows down to “Get What You Deserve” echoing a white-noise static that filters through a slow swelling string orchestra.  The track seems to drag on with its mellow drive and repetitive lyrics for a while. But then you’re in for a surprise when all of the sudden, the ending blasts you awake with its rapid additions of rattles and drum beats haphazardly falling through each incoming arc and trough of string orchestration.  The pinnacle song, “I Am What I Am” grabs you by the shirt collar with its clattering tambourines and rolling piano rumbling underneath.  Back-up singers vocalize in gospel fashion to amp up the attitude behind the song title’s statement.

Spiritualized took a great risk turning away from their infamous space rock synth but came out successful taking you on a journey littered with detailed melodic tiers accentuated with a gentle swelling string orchestra, white noise buzz, and gospel vocalizations.  Spiritualized’s sixth album, Sweet Heart Sweet Light is currently out on Fat Possum Records.

Tags: weekly release spotlight radio k spiritualized sweet heart sweet light fat possum

Weekly Release Spotlight: THEEsatisfaction

Posted on 4/30/2012

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THEEsatisfaction
awE naturalE

[Sub Pop]

THEESatisfaction seem to have a pretty good handle on what it takes to make the grade at Radio K.  The Seattle based hip-hop duo, consisting of Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, offer up a sound on awE naturalE that is hypnotic, diverse and expository; with lyrics that speak to anyone who happens upon the group’s debut release on Sub Pop.  The Seattle musicians consider their music an ‘extension of themselves,’ releasing songs that pose questions while addressing topics that range from “needs” to “sweat.”  As the divas that comprise THEESatisfaction prepare for list of shows in May, awE naturalE finds itself the focus of this week’s Weekly Release Spotlight. 

THEESatisfaction’s debut full-length release draws inspiration from numerous genres of music, fostering a sound unlike any you’ll hear on radio today.  Few vocalists compare with these two; “Cat,” a singer who provides a mellow stream sound through which “Stas” maneuvers, dropping lyrics that cut straight to the point.  The tracks on awE naturalE are constructed with mathematical precision, weaving harmonies with beats twice looped to create a sound that is mysterious and driven.  It’s a Seattle sound, one that moves; similar at times to the drone of a sitar. Tracks from awE natural seem to pass unnoticed, until a new beat with a new message signifies what’s up.  The songs on awE natural demonstrate THEESatisfaction’s keen sense of structure in music.  As artists, Cat and Stas stray from typical song writing techniques, using technology to create vibe that lures one to further explore their sound.

It’s difficult to categorize the THEESatisfaction, and the sound of awE naturalE, due to the pair’s unique approach to making music.  The upbeat tempo and variety of environments you’ll encounter while listening to awE naturalE are pleasing to both the ear and the psyche.  Whether THEESatisfaction is performing on the road, or creating a new sound in their living room, Radio K looks forward hearing more from Cat and Stas in the future. We also hope you enjoy this week’s Weekly Release Spotlight artist as much as we have!  

Written by Todd Crotty, Radio K volunteer and Rock & Roll Over host

With their mellow funk beat revival sound, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White emerge onto the scene as THEESatisfaction. Based in Seattle, WA, the incredibly dynamic duo are not afraid to give listeners a deep, distinct dose of their Pacific Northwest style on their debut LP, awE naturalE out on Sub Pop Records. They know you like it, and they know you are going to dance whether you want to or not. 

The record is full of atmospheric sounds. On the song “Earthseed” we get a melancholic piano pounding out an unsettlingly catchy melody to the slightly scattered drumbeat. The last 30 seconds of the track spit creepily politicized lyrics that match the tone of the song perfectly, with the kicker, “THEESatisfaction could give a UHHH about a fascist.” Then, as if you just woke from a bad dream to find yourself at a classy salon-style party, we arrive at “QueenS”, the first single from awE naturalE. The beat is almost like a calming alarm clock, followed by the words, “leave your face at the door, turn off your swag, check your bag, from you limbs to your Timbs, get down… but whatever you do, don’t funk with my groove.” The smartly-named “Enchantruss” sounds like the background music to a haunted rollercoaster ride. The looping, chant-like vocal back beat is accompanied by mentions of Orson Welles, time-travelling nightmares, Archie Bunker and Black Jesus. If you took the best Erykah Badu and Common records and melted the vinyl down, what you would be left with when it cooled is this collection of 13 tracks.

On the whole, THEESatisfaction drops the needle on an energetic yet smooth ride through a debut record that shows great promise and demonstrates skill and passion. Stas and Cat fill the peaks and the grooves on awE naturalE with their sultry voices, honest emotion and clever style. 

Written by Noel Clark, Radio K and Culture Queue volunteer

Tags: theesatisfaction au naturale radio k weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Xiu Xiu

Posted on 4/23/2012

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Xiu Xiu
Always

[Polyvinyl/Bella Union]

 

 

Tags: xiu xiu always radio k weekly release spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Bear In Heaven

Posted on 4/18/2012

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Bear In Heaven
I Love You, It's Cool

[Hometapes]

Space haters: beware. I Love You, It’s Cool had me headed toward a blissful black hole oblivion. If you could describe the three full-length releases from the 2/3 Georgian (home of The Big Chicken) turned Brooklyn-based trio in terms of dinner courses, their first LP Red Bloom of the Boom (2007) would be the bread and butter, Beast Rest Forth Mouth (2009) the hors d’oeuvres, and their latest, the syrupy dessert that leaves you wanting more. That’s your queue to pick up the needle on your record player and replay the discography over again, starting with dessert. 

I Love You, It’s Cool, out on Hometapes, begins gravitating toward that blissful black hole oblivion I mentioned and really draws the listener in with the second track, “Reflection of You.” Imagine yourself as Alice in Wonderland falling in that darned tree after chasing that darned bunny, but instead you descend twinkling and repeatedly singing, “Dance with me,” with John Maus. Walking through the hollowed universe, you are then greeted by Corey Heart in darkness, and sunglasses. Upon first listen, you’ll understand, but after two or three more listens, the similarities you first observed disappear almost completely. “Sinful Nature,” is up next, my favorite song on the ten track album attributed to the catchy riffs, or perhaps the wave-like sound making a visible impression on my dancing techniques. There’s that black hole again. “Cool Light” may leave you hanging and your grooving will suffer, but all is well again once “Kiss Me Crazy” begins. Jon Philpot (awesome last name, by the way, even more so as a tea drinker himself), who first formed the group as a solo artist, shines his vocals best in this number. “World of Freakout” has an incredible buildup mid-song keeping your ear follicles on the edge of their eardrum and leads into “Warm Heart.” Oddly noticeable, the synths made me want to march for an electronic instrument army with reverb megaphone in hand. Second to last, “Space Remains” seems to hail from the dada movement with layers beyond layers almost sounding too overwhelming for taste, but the title leaves room for interpretation. Closing the album with six minute track “Sweetness & Sickness,” an almost haunting echo feels as if it were circling you as your body leaves the other end of the black hole, fittingly. 

Tracks from I Love You, It’s Cool may come off too spacey or psychedelic as individual songs for some, so I suggest listening from beginning to end, and surely an adventure is to be had in that world of ‘space’ you used to describe its sound. As a whole, the album felt more mind stimulating and sound-rich than any other album I’ve heard in 2012 thus far. The album is out now on Hometapes. 

Written by Leah Garaas, Radio K volunteer

Tags: bear in heaven i love you it's cool radio k weekly release spotlight