Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ludovico Einaudi's Taranta Project

Italian composer, conductor, and pianist Ludovico Einaudi's latest album Taranta Project is a record that's at the crossroads between the east and the west. A record melding Turkish and West African traditions with classical music structures and beat of trance Taranta Project is a meditative exploration of sounds from around the Mediterranean. Einaudi over the course of this record has created a lush and diverse album that's expansive and creative in it's approach. As noted in his bio, he's taken the traditions of these areas and has given it a fresh seasoning from the future.

Taranta Project is a fantastic record because of the fact that all these influences and musical structures work in harmony together to create a truly global groove. The music that Einaudi creates throughout this record is hypnotic and soulful and filled with musical passion. It truly is awesome how he so easily composes songs that go from ancient to modern in the drop of a 4/4 beat. If he is indeed at the crossroads between East and West Einaudi has chosen to go both way at the same time.

Taranta Project is a unique idea strung together with beauty and energy. Ludovico Einaudi has created a globe trekking exploration of the Med on this record and it's an aural postcard of the traditions and beauty associated with every sound that makes an appearance. This might not be as great as being there...but it's darn near close. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Los Crema Paraiso's Crazy De Pelicula!

I have no idea how to best describe the sophmore album by Los Crema Paraiso except to say it's all a bit twisted. De Pelicula is an energetic ride through everything ever and includes the craziest amalgamation of musical influences converging to make a solid musical statement ever recorded. De Pelicula has it all and that's just in the first three songs. We're talking metal, jazz, Latin, funk whatever, it's all actually on this record. As the band notes, “ our music sounds like a combination of high speed bossa nova with a jazzy modern waltz, and percussive atmospherics with a warmth and sweetness that only a mix of these elements can bring.”

These guys can play, are unafraid to experiment, compose songs as if they were done on the fly and do some amazing covers of Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears! Their take on, “Personal Jesus,” is one for the ages. Los Crema Paraiso are an amazing unit of musicians who take their Venezuelan roots mix them with North American and European influences, a few chemistry sets, a couple of odd times changes, perhaps some psychedelics and wind up with songs that are so frenetic and organic that it's hard to believe this is all done by a trio. De Pelicula is fantastic in every possible way. It's a record that keeps you guessing and leaves you in awe when they change direction. There's no way to predict what these guys are going to do next because they come at you from every angle with so many different approaches it's overwhelming.

De Pelicula is music the way it should be; passionate, energetic, and ridiculously fun. Los Cerma Paraiso are amazing at what they do and they allow their passions to take root in every song here and as a result the record is an honest work of art.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fort Knox Five Pressurizes the Cabin With Funk

Fort Knox Five's new album Pressurize the Cabin is the funkiest thing I've heard in a very, very long time. Sounding like something that Cornershop and Fatboy Slim would have produced back in 1998 this record is a big beat party that's barely able to contain itself. With grooves thicker than concrete and rhymes that are stickier than taffy this record is a non-stop funk fest that's guaranteed to level dance floors, save parties from boredom, and drill its way into your collective consciousness.

Pressurize the Cabin is packed with absolutely massive hooks that not only come from the rhymes and beats but the entire rhythm section. This is a band so in-tune with creating funky jams that their guitars, keys, bass, and drums almost play themselves. From horns to fat drum beats this record jumps thru 4/4 time signatures like a Olympic hurdler over hurdles. Throw in a wry sense of humor to this non-stop party and you have a record that's brimming with positivity and good vibes.

There is nothing at all wrong with Pressurize the Cabin. Fort Knox Five have created a record that's the sound of your next party and every subsequent one after. These guys bring the funk, settle the funk in and never let the funk leave. Amazing from start to finish this record reminds me of how fantastic big beat used to be and how great it could be again. Pressurize the Cabin is a necessity much like food and shelter.   

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grave Babies Wage Holographic Violence

Imagine, if you will, a world in which the Sisters of Mercy only played records on broken record players. It's a world where time, space, and sound are warped, turned around in on itself. It's world that's dark, dreary, doomy and noisy but frighteningly cool. If you can get your head around all of that then you have an idea where the perfectly named Grave Babies come from.

The Babies album Holographic Violence is just that...a brutal and violent gothtastic album that squishes your hopes, dreams, and joy. It's a dark foggy record created by a band that may or may not be undead; if Goths can die this may be what they sound like in the afterlife. Let's put it this way, Holographic Violence is the sort of record the Jesus and Mary Chain would make if they were zombies. It's all bizarre guitar sounds, twisted vocals, warped riffs and things that shouldn't be. It's a bizarre record that just so weird that it's mind numbingly good. Guitars are wrangled, drum sounds are beaten to near death and the vocals sound as if they are heavily sedated; Holographic Violence should not work in any way shape or form but it does. It's strangely catchy at times and absolutely terrifying at others. It's the sort of record that will haunt your dreams and ears for decades to come and that's probably why I like it.

Grave Babies don't look like they're in touch with their inner goth but after one listen to Holographic Violence I think you'll agree these rockers much rather smoke clove cigarettes and wear trench-coats than be vegetarian and ride fixed gear bicycles. Holographic Violence is a spirit destroying trip through the soundtrack of depression. This is what happens when the Zoloft doesn't work and bands are allowed to form and quite honestly I'm OK with that. If gothdom could ever be cool The Grave Babies are bound and determined to make it happen and do so with a song in there blackened and depressed heart.

Bunnygrunt Rawk Out On Volume 4

I have to admit when the new Bunnygrunt album showed up and it looked like Black Sabbath's Volume 4 I was really, really hoping they did a twee pop cover record of the metal classic. I wasn't disappointed that they didn't because the songs that actually make up their Volume 4 are pretty darn strong on their own without the hand of Ozzy. While not Sabbathy in the least Bunnygrunt crank up the guitars, fire up the twee and bash heads with indie rock on this romp through jangly guitars, cuddle core choruses, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.

What I found most interesting about Volume 4 was just how indie rawk these guys have become. This isn't Jen Fi in any way shape or form and the whole thing kicks butt from start to end. Regardless of what direction they take on any of the songs here, each of them are as catchy as the flu and have that wry sense of humor the band has always had. I mean the first song is called, “Gimmie Five Bucks,” how can you no chuckle at songs like that especially with a giant Ozzy cat on the cover of the record. Throw in sugary sweet girl/boy vocals and you have a record that's just about as perfect as lo-fi can be and something that doesn't take itself overly seriously. I think this is why I've always liked Bunnygrunt; they're seemingly goofballs who still have incredibly awesome tunes.

While Volume 4 is a 100% Sabbath free, it is filled with 100% awesomeness that straddles the line between indie pop and indie rawk with superb balance. The record is a harmonious ruckus and is a solid notch in Bunnygrunt's legacy of indie pop goodness. Now if we can just convince them to do a tweepop version of “Supernaut,” that would be amazing.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Marshmallow Coast Hopes Vangelis Rides Again

Despite the exceptionally cheesy cover art for Marshmallow Coast's new album, Vangelis Rides Again is really quite good. This former member (Andy Gonzales) of Of Montreal and Music Tapes has always brought some fantastic stuff to the indie pop table and this album is no different. And while the record looks like some sort of Scooby Doo rejected storyboard art, the music contained inside is pure lo-fi indie pop bliss.

Vangelis Rides Again sits somewhere between an easy-listening record, Fleetwood Mac, Of Montreal and a sad creepy pop record recorded in a basement. It's a fragile record that's loaded with hooks and melodies that while not overly produced or overly jolly does some significant ear worm damage anyway. As if to prove that point, the fact that Andy weaved, “On Broadway,” into an indie pop tune is simply something that has to be heard. It's probably my favorite moment of the record and it shows Marshmallow Coast to be adventurous and fun while sounding like he's broke indie pop down to it's respective elements. Other songs have this ambient and dreamy like texture to them that sound a bit 80's-ish as they wash over you. Just listen to the downtrodden synths of, “Forever,” and you'll hear it for's almost depressingly cool.

Vangelis Rides Again is an intriguing little pop record that feels lo-fi, dreams of more, but knows it never will be. Slightly weird with a hint of sadness Vangelis Rides Again may not be the feel good hit of the summer or fall but it is pretty darn good and shows that Marshmallow Coast still knows how to write a decent record.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Adham Shaikh's Basswalla Is Atmospheric Awesomeness

After scoring soundtracks and producing others work, Basswalla is Adham Shaikh's first new original material in five years and it would seem that he's not lost a step in his time away. The album, despite having a really bad EDM-ish like name to it, is far better then it's name and cover would seem to indicate. Taking South Asian influences and adding a bit of dance floor swagger to them Adham Shaikh has created a record that's a sub-woofer throbbing behemoth of global chill out cool. Basswalla while containing new material also contains several updated versions of songs Shaikh's released over the last thirteen years. Not really a greatest hits record with some new stuff thrown on top, Shaikh actually re-interpreted his older material with a bit of improvisational spice so that everything here sounds new and fresh.

Basswalla resides somewhere between a chill out record straight out of India and a trunk rattling bass exploration that just happens to have a Southern Asian vibe. It's a nice mix between the two and Shaikh has been around the block long enough to know how to craft songs that are not only rich in atmospherics but also have the ability to find a groove. As he says himself the record, “sits squared at the intersection of prayer and dance floor.” It's a serene calming experience that just happens to make you want to dance. His layered atmospherics and mixing of traditional instrumentation with wave after wave of bass creates this experience that's hard to forget. Of the ten songs that make up Basswalla only one falls flat on it's face (“Cultivation”) and it's simply because the rap shouldn't be there. As for the rest of the record it's the sound of modern India via the global bass community and it's just about perfect either as an atmospheric experience or a night on the tiles.