Alice Lake has returned to my life in convincing fashion with her debut EP, The Evolution. Mixing sounds that you may not typically hear together — tender singer/songwriter vocals with some heavy electronic/experimental backing — Alice and the Glass Lake provide a delightfully meandering album. It’s clear, however, that the songs are carefully crafted [...]
When I listen to Andrew McHenry’s latest — and, to my knowledge, first — EP, I can’t help but notice the similarities to Elliott Smith. It’s not just a hint of Smith I hear in these songs, it’s a very strong resemblance. McHenry plays delicately layered guitar melodies and adds crisp, sing-a-long vocals [...]
It’s time for music fans to sit up and take notice: there’s something special going on in Minneapolis. A solid stream of excellent music is coming out of the twin cities these days, and the latest to add to the list is Prissy Clerks. The band’s debut album, Bruise or Be Bruised, is [...]
Largely the vision of former Antlers bassist Justin Stivers, Passenger Peru rides Stivers bass into more experimental areas than Antlers usual fare. Stivers teamed up with Justin Gonzalez to bring Passenger Peru’s self-titled album into existence.
From the start of the album, you get the impression that Stivers attempted to bring the experimental [...]
The Past Presents revisits revered albums from the past 20-25 years to ask the question, “Is this album still a classic, or has it lost its edge over the years?”. Was it a great record for that particular time and place, or is it something we’ll be passing on to our kids? It also looks at the “lost classics” – countless albums that should have earned more attention but for one reason or another fell through the cracks.
At this point it’s safe to say that most people who consider themselves obsessive music fans have seen the move High Fidelity. One of the classic moments of the film sees Jack Black’s character assisting a customer with records that are essential to his collection such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Black slyly tells the customer, “Don’t tell anyone you don’t own Blonde on Blonde. It’s going to be okay.”
If there ever was a modern equivalent to Blonde on Blonde, it’s Slint’s Spiderland. Let’s be clear, Spiderland is not similar to Dylan’s classic in its sound, but it is similar in that it has become a record that you need to own, or at the very least be aware of.
When Slint quietly released Spiderland in 1991, I was too busy freaking out over Nirvana and Sonic Youth to notice, but by 1993 I was one board 100%. Unlike many albums, the noise surrounding this record has grown every year since. It is considered one of the first, if not the first record, to bear the post-rock and or math-rock tags and it is still known as one of the best of the genre. For my money, it’s also one of the best examples of an album’s ability to generate a mood. From start to finish Spiderland gives you the feeling that something sinister is about to happen. The tension is apparent throughout the album and is intensified by the seasickness the music induces. It sounds like a ship bobbing on rough seas; the music in constant motion, rocking back and forth and never letting you forget that something evil is to be unleashed.
Empty out a swimming pool. Spray paint it in neon colors. Learn to ride a skateboard better than Tony Hawk. Ride your skateboard around the empty, painted pool. If you did this, the song you would need to listen to while doing so would be “Hold On To The Metal” by Royal Canoe. [...]
When not sharing the stage with Nick Bindeman in Eternal Tapestry, Dewey Mahood creates his own sonic adventures as Plankton Wat. The arrival of fresh sounds from Plankton Wat is always cause for anticipation. Typically a Plankton Wat album is delivered on cassette, or sometimes CD-R, so having an LP release is even more special.
Daniel Rossen builds a world of craggy cliffs and lapping seas, calling sirens and fireside revelations. He sings a whole world into being in five tracks; a starlit world full of shrines, deserts to traipse and promises to fulfill. Listening to this record feels a bit like reading a novel that begins right in the middle or a fantastic, sparse short story.
The symphonic strains of “Return To Form” or the hearthside confessional of “Up On High” delight both the ears and the imagination in a cacophony of tales told in sound. There are elements of cowboy, the west and the old open range in “Up On High” that aren’t country by any means, it just sounds wild and free, not quite untamable. The dreamscapes are astonishing.
Taking a step back from his duties in Barn Owl seems like a golden opportunity for Jon Porras to break out and make a record that sounds nothing like Barn Owl. I’m envisioning a quiet folk record or a more rock-inspired, Sonic Youth-esque instrumental album. Instead Porras returns a solo effort that draws [...]
The latest record from Maps & Atlases, Beware and Be Grateful, opens with just the tiniest sample of sound that seems like it could be taken from an episode of Twin Peaks, then fades directly into a song that has the bones of at least three other songs wrapped up in it. This amalgam of sorts is entitled “Old & Gray” and covers the opening throes of love in daydream doodles all the way through the hope of having someone stand by you until you reach the decrepit gray of old age.
Maybe it’s just because I’m in my early twenties trying to figure out life, love and the universe, but it seems to me these questions are woven into this album, and not answered but probed, examined and bemoaned with a care that is inspiring. The quilting of different sounds and marriage of styles contained in this record is outrageous and wonderful. Without fear and without discrimination Maps & Atlases take the best parts of every genre and every sound and mix it into one big beautiful mess. An angular jam of circuitous pop energy and lyrics of ancient innocence and juvenile sin.
Dave Davison’s voice glimmers through the opening song like a guiding light, though it is surrounded on all sides by walls of sound. Beats, pianos, acoustic guitar strums, electronic sounds of all glorious shapes and sizes and a variety of harmonies appear at different points, only to fade into themselves and out again. Oh, and I’m still only talking about the first track.
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