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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sleigh Bells-Treats

This is a tale of two albums, one is the electro-pop masterpiece of "Rill Rill", the other is the loud and driving distortion of "Tell'em". These two concepts and sounds would never work, had they been used by another artist, Sleigh Bells manages to do this seemlessly, with each beat driving the guitar tracks. The album opens with "Tell'em", possibly one of the loudest and deepest songs I have ever heard. "Tell'em" features layers upon layers of Derek Miller's noise making, as well as a beat that sounds like it was made using metal garbage cans and broken glass. Through each song, the album makes sure to never lose its energy, one of the most energetic and noise filled tracks is "Crown On The Ground", an energy filled track that combines a catchy pop melody, with sheer noise, to create something truly unique. My favorite track on the album is "Rill Rill", a ringing acoustic guitar leads the listener through church bells and Alexis Krauss's fantastic vocal line. Every track in this song brings it one step closer to a pop classic, and leaves the listener satisfied, but wanting more.  The first listen to this album doesn't do it justice, each song has so many intricate tracks and sounds, that its hard to notice half of them in one listen. It is a tale of two albums, two people, two listens, and one pop-masterpiece.

Artifacts from the Future #1-Madvillian-Madvillainy

MF Doom is to hip-hop, what mid 60's Bob Dylan is to rock'n'roll, his poetry flows and rhymes and can  appear to be random, but is deep in meaning, whether political or social. Much like Dylan's poetry, especially on tracks like "Tombstone Blues."  MF Doom also has one of the greatest flows of any emcee alive, he dables in social, political, and religious issues, without making it obvious, he also manages to make it fit so perfectly with the music, on tracks like "Accordian" and "Great Day", where rhymes and saturated beats become one. Madlib is one of the best producers in hip-hop, because he turns down MF Doom's track to make it fit with the beat perfectly,unlike other producers who add empty noise in order to back the emcee. This technique is evident on the songs "Money Folder", "All Caps", and "Strange Ways". The entire album is constructed into one flow, with several short J Dilla style beats leading from one track to the next, sampling everything from Sun Ra to Gentle Giant, each sample fits so well together, its hard to tell exactly where the inspiration came from.  The song "Fancy Clown"features a fairly well known sample by Z.Z. Hill, but it is crafted in such a way that the sample compliments Doom's rhymes, instead of interfering with them. "All Caps" is arguably the best track on the album, with MF Doom at the top of his game, and Madlib cutting the best beat on the album, the song is poetic in its sections, it is constantly changing themes, but in the end each sample and kick beat brings the listener closer to the true meaning, like each line in a poem. The album finishes with a marathon of fantastic tracks, "All Caps", then the organ driven "Great Day" and finally the spaced out "Rhinestone Cowboy", the proverbial climax and resolution of this hip-hop classic.

Wolf Parade-Expo 86

With each and every side project, comes a new perspective of Wolf Parade. With Swan Lake, we heard a darker more haunting sound, caused by songs like "A Hand At Dusk" and "Spanish Gold 2044". Sunset Rubdown was loud and angry with songs like "Black Swan", "Silver Moons", and "Dragon's Lair". Handsome Furs was electronic with "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues". Each side project contributed to Expo 86, in one way or another. On the album Wolf Parade created a more live and electronically influenced sound, even the album artwork displayed live photos of the band, instead of the previous albums, which featured various drawings and paintings. The album opens with Spencer Krug's shaky and powerful voice setting the scene of the track "Cloud Shadow On The Mountain", which takes us on a musical journey through the mind of Wolf Parade, the track is loud and electronic when it wants to be, but doesn't rely on the usual crash-cymbal power-chords that other bands would. Instead, it weaves in and out of noise, drawing influence from such bands as The Pixies and Black Sabbath. After the echoing chords of the opening track, the album turns to "Palm Road" a slower song, with the energy of the first. Drummer, Arlen Thompson drives this haunting track from the beginning to the end, continuing the beat as electronic textures and bass transform the song into a masterpiece that leads right into "What Did My Lover Say". Heavy synth notes guide the noise saturated song through its various sections, and provide the perfect platform for Spencer Krug's voice. The entire album clearly draws influence from many of the post-punk and no-wave bands that defined the late 70's New York scene, bands like The Contortions, whose driving drum and bass notes, combined with scarce guitar noise heavily influenced Expo 86. One common theme through out most Wolf Parade songs, is that they end sounding different than how the song started. This concept also applies to the album as a whole, as it treads through several themes and sounds it ends sounding different than the beginning, which is what is so fantastic about the album, it begs to be listened to more than once. The best track on the album has to be "In The Direction Of The Moon" which opens with a heavy synth bass, then a danceable beat and echoey guitar noises. As the song progresses, and moves through the sections in a quiet-loud-quiet-loud format, one thing is certain, Wolf Parade has created a masterpiece, that is easily one of the best songs of the year. The album ends with "Cave-O-Sapien", a loud and upbeat track, that provides the first time listener with the urge to turn up your systems and play it again. In the end,  that feeling is what separates a good album from a great one.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Urban Backcountry Show #2

This show was recorded on the 4th of July, and features some brand new beats, as well as some tracks straight from the crate. The show show cases a few new podcasts I have picked up, including the Stones Throw podcast, and the Future Vintage Dam Funk set. Download the show here;