Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lust For Youth Go International

Holy cow! I'm not sure what Lust For Youth ingested before the recording of their latest album International but I'm certainly glad they did. Wow, this is such a different record than previous Lust For Youth efforts that I'm half convinced that this isn't them. Frontman Hannes Norrvide's previous efforts were the very definition of cold and dark but International feels damn near energetic.

Apparently listening to a lot of Cure records during the making of International had an irreparable affect on the band and Norrvide is clearly embracing his inner Robert Smith. International feels like a Cure record, it's gauzy and slightly dark but laced with a pop edge to it and you can pull rope, sway, or even dance to the thing. Shock, horror, I know, but it's really quite good. This is easily the best thing Lust For Youth have ever done and it's darkness and torment is so endearing it's hard to stop listening to it. Crossing synth pop with the angularity of post punk and throwing in Norrvide's dark tendencies gives each song this awkward goodness that reverberates and throbs through the dry ice clouds that envelope you as you listen.

International is a wonderfully poppy goth record that sounds more Cure than the Cure does now. Each of the ten songs of this excursion into murkiness is laden with pop hooks, cloudy atmospheres, and a sense of, dare I say it, hope. I love this thing, it's just such a cool record for these guys and I really hope Lust For Youth keep this clove inspired musical trip up. Probably one of my favorite albums of 2014.

Brooklyn Shanti's Bedstuyle Is An Awesome Ride

Sometimes an album just gives you goosebumps. It's the sort of thing that hits just right and makes everything all tingly and emotionally charged. Brooklyn Shanti's new album Bedstuyle is one of those albums. It creates a sense of exhilaration that's somewhere between chill out and heartache and just wraps itself around your heart, soul, and ears and refuses to let go.

Brooklyn Shanti takes us on a journey throughout Bedstulye, from downtempo to reggae to folk and all stops in between; this record has it all. Brooklyn Shanti fears no genre and puts it all into the pot to create the awe inspiring atmosphere that makes up this experience This by all accounts shouldn't work, there's just too much cross pollination, to many genre's bouncing off of each other, but Bedstuyle manages to give you chills as each new song rolls on by no matter the approach. The range of emotions this record plays with is staggering, from homesickness to love and everything else within reach Bedstuyle plays them all as if they were your own and I think that's really why this record is so successful. From fun in the sun to wishing you were back home it's all here and it's done with such feeling and precision that each of the twelve songs are powerful enough in their own right.

From the atmospheric opener, "Midnight In Paris," to the party vibe of, "This Feeling," Bedstuyle is a roller-coaster ride of building emotions and cascading musical influences. There's really nothing bad you can say about this album. Bedstuyle stopped me in my tracks and just blew me away. Chill out/downtempo stuff is so cliche at this point it's painful...but every once and a while something is much greater than the sum of it's parts and Bedstuyle proves that a fearless approach to music combined with an emotional outpouring can make for one heck of an experience. Stop what you're doing and get this, seriously, you won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monica Giraldo Is An Intercontinental Musician

Singer songwriter Monica Giraldo is an artist with her feet firmly planted on two continents. One foot is deeply rooted in the the North American folk music approach to writing songs. Her other foot is constantly exploring her native land of Columbia and its musical influences and roots. The result of this is Que Venga La Vida which brings a Latin flavor to American folk and American folk to Colombian music.

With a pastoral approach to writing songs sung in Spanish, Giraldo creates this intercontinental soundworld that's both dusty and rustic while being exotic and exciting. This is not your usual folk pop record, it's might sound like it at times, but its not because her depth of field and her exploratory nature allows her songs to breathe and slowly and gently pull at your heart strings. This is an honest and beautiful record that brings something to each of the tables Giraldo sits at. Her guitar playing is gorgeous and rustic, her voice tender and mesmerizing, and her songs are intimate and rooted in tradition.

With Colombian rhythms, gently strummed guitars and a lovely voice Monica Giraldo casts a spell on Que Venga La Vida. From the unusual rhythms of "Asi Lo Canto Yo," and "Deja," to the catchy and majestic "Dulce Boca," Monica Giraldo proves over and over she's a fantastic artist no matter where or how she writes songs. Singer songwriter albums are a dime a dozen these days and it's rare that one stands out as a glaring example of what the genre can be...Que Venga La Vida is one of those examples.

S Makes The Cool Choice

The oddly named and impossible to search for S is a spin off project from one of the founding members of Carissa's Weird. While some of the other members of this legendary band went off and formed Band of Horses, Jenn Ghetto retreated to her bedroom with a guitar and a four track recorder. While she may not be as successful as Band of Horses, S is pure and simple and interesting. Three albums into her bedsit exile S is emerging from her bedroom once again with Cool Choices and that's a good thing because it's, quite honestly, better than anything Carissa's Weird ever recorded.

Cool Choices is a fascinating record that hovers between folk music, synthpop and mathy indie rock. What makes this record stick is that there are complex rhythms smack dab next to and quiet acoustic moments and they both work together. There's moments of danceability and moments of introspection and fragility and when combined together S creates a whirlwind of hypnotizing songs that are hard to get away from. While the acoustic tenderness is tolerable, I much prefer her synth'd out tunes and she shows a real knack for creating these dark tinged indie dance hits when the synths come out. "Tell Me," for example takes Cat Power's, "Cross Bones Style," and expands it into a dance floor destroyer. There are hits here tucked neatly between moments of sensitivity and they serve as a constant sense of discovery when you uncover them.

Cool Choices is a fantastic third effort and with the help of Death Cab's Chris Walla behind the scenes it's been polished into something almost cheery. It's the little record that can made by someone who's honest and deeply cares about music even if she occasionally gives it up. For those reasons I think that's why I made the Cool Choice and decided I like this record quite a bit.

The Bad Things Are Anything But

A decade into their career, Seattle's Bad Things are still one of the city's best kept musical secrets. While the word Seattle conjures some obvious musical images, The Bad Things are happily not one of them. This gang of outcasts celebrate their uniqueness and outsider status with a fairly interesting approach to music that has more in common with Beirut than with Nirvana. Their latest album, After The Inferno is a tribute to their standing within the coffee capital's musical community.

Sounding like something from a different century, Bad Things have old world charm by the bucket load. They sound aged, traditional, unusual, and most There are polka rhythms, accordion songs, horns, chants and a worldly approach to writing a song and not an ounce of flannel in sight. After The Inferno is unusually brilliant because it's pure and honest and different. It's just not modern in a 21st century way and I love how the band have found this neat little niche in which to explore old musical styles that often aren't heard. The Bad Things ability to mix folk, traditional country, Eastern European, Western European, and quirky pop influences into something so mesmerizing makes it almost impossible to turn away from much less dislike.

After The Inferno is the kind of record you'd hear on a steam ship, river boat, or expedition. It's an exploratory and rootsy record that keeps traditional sounds close to it's heart. The Bad Things are honest and awesome musicians and their name is a complete misnomer, because their albums are far from being Bad Things. Seriously awesome old timey music that even your parents and grand parents will like After The Inferno is highly recommended.

Passing Quickly By Luluc

The cover of Luluc's album Passer By pretty much sums up to what this record will do to you...lull you to sleep. Passer By is an unexciting, unergetic record that lilts its way gently across 10 songs barely raising its voice and unobtrusively going about its business. The problem with all this of course is that Passer By is incredibly does nothing. It just exists.

I've said it for years and I'll say it again...I just don't get folk music. Luluc's Passer By doesn't give me or my ears anything to latch onto. Its just a quiet record that serves its purpose as white noise but does nothing more or nothing less. It just sort of sits there and rumbles along. I'm sorry guys...but I really am just a passer by...quickly moving on to the next record and hoping it wakes me up.

Unicycle Loves You Escape The Dead Age

Unicycle Loves You have trolled through pop music history over the course of three albums in search of inspiration and great songs. Thus far they've covered everything from jangly pop, post-new wave, and garage rock. But as is their MO, they're always on the hunt for something new. On their fourth album, The Dead Age, they've left the garage and have headed toward the sturm and drang of noise pop with reckless abandon.

The Dead Age is a slice out of the Sonic Youth book of how to lose your hearing in twelve easy steps. Sounding like a more melodic and less pretentious take on Daydream Nation, ULY cranks up the amps, processes the heck out of everything and comes up with an album that's melodically brilliant and noisily ear numbing. Sheets of guitar noise reverberate off of each other creating a wall of distortion and chaos that's only held together by the rather distantly recorded melodies of Jim Carroll. This is unrefined, raw, and pure pop music stripped down and laid bare. The Dead Age is the sound of a band purposely dismantling itself and then duct taping it all back together rather shoddily. That might sound like a bad idea, but ULY are a strong enough band to pull it off and make it sound good. The Dead Age is a rather enjoyable romp through a minefield of guitars exploding, wrangling and shredding themselves.

To say ULY have been around the block a few times would be an understatement; four albums and four approaches is pretty impressive. If there's a sound that tickles their fancy, they're all over it and their latest excursion into their never ending search for The Tune is migraine inducing fun. I'm left wondering what's next for these guys? Dubstep? Symphonic arrangements? I have no idea, but I can't wait.